A twilit orb, sometimes considered the sun, sat affixed to the eastern skies. Its lukewarm gaze cascaded over the open plains that stretched westward, tapering off into a sickly glow the farther it reached. From a vantage, one could hear the faint grumbling of a spreading maleficence to the west. The Vice, and its myriad of terrible, corrupt beasts, fallowed the pristine earth and any unfortunate enough to lag behind in the never ending chase towards a tapering hope of benediction. Eastward, forever eastward the threat lurched. The slaughter it sowed stilled hearts and shattered minds; a total and utter desolation that could not be faced, only evaded. This lesson reverberated in the minds of all remaining survivors strewn across the twisted landscape. In the wake of this devastation they push forward, their world reformed into an unfamiliar amalgam stitched together by desperate holy men. Eastward these survivors struggle, through this fractured echo of the past, nourished by a tapering hope. Dim Palmfast pondered his place in this struggle atop a solitary bluff. Back against a tree, he sat in a practiced, meditative pose. The sickly glow of the sun scattered through the tree’s tendril-like limbs, dappling across the ground. The warmth and light, like many facets of this new otherworld, lacked the substance and soul that once graced Dim’s lost home. A wayward palm brushed against foliage; wiry grass flattened, buckling all too easily. Down the bluff, the tops of trees residing in a wooded meadow poked towards the sky, limbs outstretched, reaching in unnatural formations. A faint purplish tone pervaded this otherworld, its very substance marred by the promise of the spreading corruption.Loosening from his meditative posture, Dim’s eyes wandered to his right palm. A sifting vortex of rotted flesh and potent magics met his gaze. This gaping well menaced Dim, staring at him with the coldness of a condemned killer at the gallows. In a moment of absentmindedness, he let a paltry sum of Vice slip from this prison, tainting the ground nearby with a muted mauve discolouring. It seemed, to Dim’s wary mind, a harmless mistake. He studied its probing nature; how it bled across the still earth slowly, rotting everything it touched. Like a viper’s shadow, it lunged across the ground towards Dim’s still feet. No doubt it sensed a larger reliquary of life to infest. In a practiced motion, Dim jabbed his right hand downwards, turning the Vice’s ravenous nature against it. In one painful moment, the discoloured shadow on the land blackened, and the Vice was imprisoned once more.
The sharp pain was familiar, and so elicited little response from the veteran. Still, it shook him from his reverie, and turned his focus towards a gathering of people in the distance. A gathering of wayward souls, looking for a shepherd to lead them. Luckily, Dim was not only capable, but obliged to serve them.>Wander the woods below for a little bit, the caravan can wait. >Report to the caravan post-haste. Better to move out before the Vice advances.>Spend some time meditating in order to gauge the strength and nature of the Vice maelstrom.
>>3104734>Report to the caravan post-haste. Better to move out before the Vice advances.
>Spend some time meditating.
>>3104734>Spend some time meditating in order to gauge the strength and nature of the Vice maelstrom.
As the caravan coalesced, Dim thought it prescient to check on the advancing Vice. Switching to the other side of the tree revealed the terrifying extent of his foe, a miasmic wall of churning terror. Pinpricks of deep mauve dotted the horizon, the trawling demons ambling ever forward. The landscape itself bent to the will of the Vice, deteriorating in its mere presence. This otherworld seemed a brittle bone ready for gnashing by the Vice’s jaws, more so than the last and the one before that. In states of rumination, Dim often cited the increasing ease with which the world sundered. A creeping advantage, to be sure, but yet another worry for the future.He grasped the side of the tree, placed another hand upon his brow, and threw his mind outwards. The nauseating sensation of vertigo threatened to kick Dim back into his own mind, but years of training assured at least a few minutes of survey. He used his outer eye to probe the sizeable horde of nimble beasts that lead the spreading plague. Some were as small as men, but others stood many times that size. Their limbs contorted and splayed in unusual directions, twitching as they ambled forward. Skin sloughed off in places, or gnarled into a jagged hide. If the beasts were intelligent, their bleak eyes made no indication. No, it seemed as though the force of the Vice drove them forward. They even preyed upon one another at times, tearing each another apart one moment, and continuing their trek the next. Some would keel over suddenly, or tear up nearby terrain, or abruptly halt. The years taught Dim a lot about the Vice, but forecasting their behavior only worked on the large scale.He pressed onward, exerting his mind and throwing himself farther into the abyss. His senses grew clouded with the long distance, so that he could not clearly see what lay beyond a murky mauve mist. Certainly, there was activity. Creatures of some occultic nature inched forwards, delving themselves into spongey, corrupted land. A horrible grinding and tearing echoed, the very earth being torn asunder. The unwelcome sensations reminded Dim of the totality of this threat. The Vice was not a beast to be slain or a wild inferno to be tamed; it was penance. An exacting force of destruction meant to undo men and beast alike.The outer eye began to disperse as Dim collected his thoughts. The maelstrom exhibited the same fearsome power as always, perhaps stronger. But this otherworld is young, so the Vice’s zealous energy was to be expected. He would have to meet the caravan soon, before complacency undid everything.[1/2]
Parsing a path back to the caravan was no problem for Dim, whose natural talents included a fine sense of direction. Or maybe it’s one of the ‘blessings’ he’d received before this madness begun. The farther he travelled, the harder it was for him to separate the man from the shepherd. The group gathered in the clearing, as agreed to before the jump. A passing count showed that about three quarters of the ‘van made it. Not bad compared to the last couple times Dim ‘hopped’ the ‘van away from the maelstrom. Still, there were bound to be a few wails and sobs in the coming nights. Dim always kept his distance from the ‘van, emotionally. He was just the hopper and guide, not the councilor. It didn’t take long for a familiar face to show up. Lars Lurenson, the man responsible for the tallying and sums, jogged to Dim’s side. Bookkeeping was one of the most important jobs in the ‘van, Dim had learned over the years, so he always kept a studious type close. “Sir Palmfast! Good to see you so soon. I was worried I might have to send some men off to find you. There’s not much time, so I’ll get right to business.” Lurenson was never one to dawdle, to Dim’s delight. “As usual, all the mages made it thorough, so Lillian would like to speak. Chern Du is fussing over all the ‘folk, so some words would help her out. Turl and Vonus are both… debating over the proper allocation of battle-ready men. And, uh, Eidus—the queen of the Moski bug-people needs some convincing to stay with the pack. We’re only so far ahead of the Vice, so you’ll only be able to speak to a couple of them.” Lurenson’s stature didn’t stop him from keeping pace with Dim. He listed the options while stepping over strewn supplies, eyes glued to some document. A bundle of papers that hung from the man’s wide belt demanded adjustment every few paces, but it seemed like a well-practiced motion.>Lillian won’t stand to wait, I’ll see her first.>Chern Du looks after the most people, I should check on her.>Turl and Vonus? Fighting? Not surprised, but I’ll see to it. >The moski queen is odd, but a follower all the same. I’ll assuage her concerns.>We have no time to dawdle, tell the ‘folk we’re pressing on at once.
>>3105022>The moski queen is odd, but a follower all the same. I’ll assuage her concerns.
Scanning the crowds of the ‘van, Dim noted a distinct absence of the towering centipede-like moski. Concerned that their strength would be gone with their queen’s arbitrary wishes, Dim though it prudent to lend his ear to Eidus first.“Lars, be sure to tie up Lillian for a bit. I’m heading to the queens den before she does anything rash. Wish me luck.” Dim catches a distraught look in Lurenson’s eyes before walking off towards the queen. Lillian never liked to wait in line, but it would be interesting to see if timid Lars could keep up with her.While passing through the camp, Dim threw some nods to the crowds of commoners. His mere presence would keep their hopes higher than any sort of promise or consolation he mustered. Still, with every passing, ragged face he felt his heart ache ever so slightly. Truly, he’d jumped hundreds of similar people throughout the last several years, but something curious seemed to awaken inside of him. Though he didn’t realize it yet, this next trek would prove far more difficult than most.Soon, he came upon a gathering of a few dozen moski, gathered around their queen. Most stood a head shorter than Dim, but several of a more beastly variety stood two heads taller. Their sectioned bodies coiled in an idling posture similar to a snake, rows of needly arms flicking on either side. Dim could swear they didn’t even notice him, if it weren’t for the fact that each nearby drone scuttled subtly to the side as he passed. They gave no other indication of acknowledgment, their many eyes glued towards the center of the crowd, towards their queen. As Dim approached, a tingling sensation of paranoia gripped at the back of his mind.“Queen Eidus, I sense some form of insecurity?” Dim probed with a small smirk.“You terrible man,” the queen’s manufactured voice echoed in Dim’s mind, pointed but reserved. “Are you here to bewitch me with your ape-magic again? Or perhaps those were just the lies you humans are so fond of?” The subtle sensation of paranoia shifts into a trickling fear as the drones surrounding Dim shuffle closer.“I know you won’t sick them on me, Queen. I’m below your concerns, remember?” Dim threw back, his words sweetly sarcastic. “We don’t have to play this game every time. We all grieve our losses, and there is no guarantee I can get your whole cadre hopped.” The queen bristled with an unseen aura of bitterness.[1/2]
“Do we all grieve, hopper? I’ve lost innumerable children over the years, and you’ve lost men and women, but no tears. Why is that, Dim? Do you care for them? How can I expect you to look after mine if yours are less than drones?” Her sharp words are from an uncharacteristically morose place. And somehow, they get to Dim. In some ways, her brutal words hold a degree of truth. Typically, Dim would buckle down, ignore the pain, and sort out the Queen like anyone else: with a curt word and callous commands. But, perhaps, today would be different.>Her words are born from a paltry grief, not suited for this caravan. Tell her to ship up or ship out. >Praise her. Appeal to her regal nature, appeal to her ‘heartfelt sentimentality.’ >Make a deal. Guarantee her lead of the caravan for a short while, to give her an illusion of control. >Give her tears. Tell her of your many losses, trials, and heartbreak. >Threaten her with the horrid nature of the Vice, and the nature of the humans it chases. >Write-in
>>3105172>>Praise her. Appeal to her regal nature, appeal to her ‘heartfelt sentimentality
>>3105172>Her words are born from a paltry grief, not suited for this caravan. Tell her to ship up or ship out.
>>3105172Make a deal.
Dim bit his lower lip, turning a wave of thoughts in his head. The queen’s harsh words rung in his mind, molding his response. His clenched fist signified a degree of uncharacteristic indignation as he primed an equally severe retort. Was Eidus so blind to the bigger picture, did she not see what was at stake? Dim almost let loose a series of reprimands, but stopped short at the last moment. The queen towered over the hopper, bristling with a regal sorrow befitting only a matriarch in pain. He considered what the queen had to offer, what she had contributed over the last few months. A degree of sympathy tempered Dim’s wrath as he began his reprimands.He looked passed her monstrous appearance, instead viewing her as a subordinate. Dim matched her gaze (as well as he could with so few eyes). “Your grief doesn’t interest me, queen,” Dim began, lowering his guard. “I’ve seen people die, honourable and good people who wanted only to survive. The maw of the Vice, it consumes all in its path, and it cares little for your grief.” Eidus lowered her stance a bit in shock, and Dim noticed drones around her bristling with anxiety. He sensed a growing fury in the air, overriding the paranoia biting at his mind. “My grief is my own. I control it, and I expect you to do the same. For the good of your cadre and mine, we must put our paltry feelings aside.” The many ‘folk that died in the name of survival flitted through the hopper’s mind. Most of the souls had no name, as far a Dim was concerned, but their anguished faces resurfaced in his mind, prodding at his repressed grief. “You must understand the need for distance from your flock? If I allowed every man, woman, or child who died under my protection tug at my heart and resolve, we would be as undone as you are now.” The deluge of memories continued. Dim saw Lurenson, sword in hand, rushing towards the wall of corruption. The names he shouted rang out in Dim’s mind. The same names Lurenson shouted all the way back to the ‘van, dragged by close friends. He saw Chern Du eulogizing the dead at the head of a crowd. In front of grieving families she spoke, her face bereft of tears. A practiced sadness, all too familiar to this too young leader. Dim saw Newsaint at the foot of two shallow graves. The mage consult kept a stony face, unwilling to falter, the weight of the world pressing her forward.All this rushed to the front of Dim’s mind, sharpening the unfamiliar edge of his reprimands. “You can leave my protection if you wish, but you know as well as me what lurks out there. Your drones won’t survive, and then you’ll die, I promise you.” Dim felt the unfamiliar anger temper with every word.
The harsh air of grief turned slowly into one of indignation, then into a cold, stolid aura more befitting the aloof matron. Her drones and soldiers sidled away, shuffling backwards only inches. “I’ve rarely heard such insolence from you, hopper,” the queen started, her echoing voice adopting a puzzled, icy tone. “Refreshing or worrying? I’m unsure. Curious, though...” She arched her towering form lower, to meet Dim’s gaze more closely. Her many beady eyes hid a subtle cunning, and her mandibles clicked with indecision. “I wonder, how do you intend to guarantee the continued safety of my drones if I do stay?”[FACTION DEMAND]>>Choose one or more>Offer to move more drones to the front of the ‘van, farther from the Vice.>Cut drone’s mandatory scouting [in half/by a quarter/completely].>Earmark drones for rear guard, in the event of a large battle.>Double the Moski’s allotted rations for a week.>Give no guarantees; only assure her that Dim will take better care in future.>Write-in
>>3105714Offer to move drones to the front.One way heroics quest?
>>3105714>>Offer to move more drones to the front of the ‘van, farther from the Vice.>>Earmark drones for rear guard, in the event of a large battle.
>>3105714>>Earmark drones for rear guard, in the event of a large battle.You arent gonna go silent on us op? :)
>>3105738((I would credit it as some of the inspiration, yes.))>>3105747((I was planning on netting a few dozen players before promptly disappearing without a word. It is the way of the QM.))Dim shook off the unfamiliar sensations of brashness and responded to the queen. “I’ll give them the greatest boon I can offer: distance from the Vice.” He waved his fallowed palm in the direction of the Vice, then towards the sun. “They can lead the way, heading the caravan with me and my trusted guard.”Dim felt a quick wave of satisfaction, but the feeling muted in seconds. It seemed his senses were adapting to the queen’s psionics. “Oh? So they can fall on the spears of the madmen stalking this patchwork stretch of forlorn memories of worlds past?” The queen started, giving what Dim assumed was her species’ equivalent of a dramatic flourish. “The shredded fragments of the old world lie before us, hopper, their denizens driven to madness from the purgatory they inhabit. There is no guarantee that the unknown enemy is less vicious than the known.” Dim chewed on the queen’s dramatic prose, hiding his frustration with further diplomacy. “In the event that we find such a threat—““When we certainly will…” the Queen interjects. “… Yes, when there is a threat, I’ll put your drones farther in reserve, so long as victory is clear.” Dim sized up the warrior caste of the moski. Their dripping mandibles and jagged legs made them a fearsome threat, perhaps twice the threat of his own trained warriors. Still, they numbered less than a dozen, so Eidus would feel each death more strongly than the last. Her fragile temperament had to be considered. “Is victory ever clear, hopper?” the queen mused, further agitating Dim.“You have my guarantee, Eidus. I expect your drones to help where they can ahead of the pack, and in the less dangerous tasks. They’re clearly capable of more than you credit them.”“You think Us idle?” the queen boomed, “No, I assure you We will do our part for survival.” The queen seemed to shift sharply, dismissing a number of still drones and workers. The moski disseminated, spreading out in every direction. “We hope to see truth in your promises.” Dim felt the queen’s mental link sever, signaling a curt dismissal. Dim, seeing no need to suffer the queen’s disrespect any longer, returned to the camp. He had time to meet with only one more noble, but which one?>Lillian, the head mage. She won’t stand waiting any longer.>Chern Du looks after the most people, I should check on her.>Turl and Vonus, the warrior and scout. Lurenson said they were arguing, as usual.
>>3106234>Chern DuWe are the leader of this expedition. They can wiat for us
Dim walked alongside a few moski workers on his way back. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t a talkative bunch. Dim wasn’t sure they held any modicum of individuality. All he knew is what he saw: scarred flesh and missing limbs. Every slash and bruise incurred frayed on their queen’s mentality. It’s no wonder, then, that the queen lost her patience. Dim only wished he could convey to her—to everyone the doom that awaited divided groups in this corrupt world.Crossing the caravan’s body once more, Dim felt a growing anxiety from the common people. He’d developed a sense for it over the years. The people, ever nervous, obeyed a collective and well-practiced paranoia. Their frayed instincts ebbed according to the Vice. Even if none could see it, a pervading force of malevolence preceded the Vice’s advance. Every moment spent stationary invited disaster. The ‘van would have to move soon, or be consumed by the fire of havoc. With this threat in mind, Dim thought it prudent to check on the caravan packmaster, Chern Du. He passed a few children on his way, hard at work fastening their family’s pack animal. They couldn’t be more than ten years old, and thus lived most of their lives scrambling away from the Vice. Wrapping rations and tightening improvised fasteners were practiced motions for these boys. Their faces showed no signs of youthful glee, only the stolidity of a survivor. Dim briefly considered helping them with their task, but it passed in light of larger concerns. He had suppressed such fool notions for years, so why did they emerge now? The caravan had to survive; marching eastward unerringly was the absolute only recourse for humanity. Dim stowed his musings, focusing on the big picture.As he neared the center of the ‘van, into the pith of the common folk, Dim noted an increasing sense of impetus. None of the folk stood idle, they worked in organized groups, packing supplies in preparation for the long march ahead. And, of course, at the center of this effort was a young woman wearing traditional clan attire. Beads and rough gemstones dangled from a mesh draped over her shoulders, arranged in complex patterns. Her quick, directing motions clattered these baubles together, so that you’d always know Chern Du was nearby. Dim waited for a few moments as she directed a family towards the front of the ‘van. He noted how small the tribeswoman looked compared to the dozens of caravan hands that worked nearby, and how young she was. And yet, she commanded them as effectively as any packmaster Dim had known.[1/2]
When the remaining folk scurried off to their respective corners of the ‘van, Chern Du turned to notice Dim standing nearby. Her broad lips curled into a characteristic smile as she approached. “Dim! I’m glad to see you made it though.” Her eyes held an attentive glow, always scanning the surroundings for something to organize or direct. “I need some help, if you’d be so kind. Some of the pack animals are sick; could you use some of your energy to cure them? We don’t have enough as is, and any more dying means killing our pace.”“The animals? It’s not the Vice is it?” Dim asked. “Oh, no no no, nothing like that! Just some common illness, but it could spread, you know? But speaking of the Vice, there’re some nice edible plants nearby. Problem is, they’re enviced. We could gather the tainted plants, too, for later curing. Up to you, though, I know you don’t like enviced things in the ‘van.” Dim considered this for a moment. Much of the time, when Vice entered and object or living creature, it would remain there until aggravated. They could, potentially, hold onto such enviced plants until Dim had the spare capacity to purify them. However, the Vice was terribly unpredictable.“Also, the families have been complaining about the cramped marching order you keep. Do you think we can have them space out a bit? Not too much, just enough to give them some room.” Dim’s mouth twisted with skepticism. Often, when you gave common folk a little freedom, they took it upon themselves to seize more and more. Though, it would raise their low spirits.[RESOURCE ALLOCATION] [25 Energy|5 Vice|30/50 Capacity]Energy is purified Vice held in Dim’s palm-well. Energy is a potent form of mana with many uses, from enhancing other’s capabilities or healing, to combat or utility spells. It takes time to convert Vice to energy. The more Vice is in Dim’s system, the more pain and fatigue he’ll endure.>Expend energy from palm-well to cure sick animals. (Use 5 Energy)>Cull the sick animals.>Keep the sick animals separated.>Purify tainted foliage. (Gain 5 Vice, 20 Food)>Gather foliage for later purification. >Adopt a looser formation for the sake of the families. (Defense down, Morale up)>Promise more frequent stops instead. >Write-in>>Choose multiple
>>3106752Keep the sick animals separated.Purify foliage.Keep tight formation.
>>3106752>Keep the sick animals separated.>Purify tainted foliage. (Gain 5 Vice, 20 Food)>Keep current formation
While weighing the options, Dim’s mind drifted. He thought of the common folk he’d sworn to protect; their brittle minds and weak constitutions. The Vice consumed such mortals as the tides submerged the coast. And yet, their indelible spirit pushed through and survived… With Dim’s help, of course. Even still, their natural spirit came with a knack for complacency. Every day they marched, fatigue set in and dulled their sense of survival. ‘What is one day of rest,’ they’d ask. ‘The children are tired!’ they’d cry. They didn’t fully grasp that, in the face of the Vice, such concessions were certain death. It frustrated Dim to no end.“I can’t change the formation, Chern Du. You know what would happen,” Dim said, glancing towards a family packing in the distance. Chern Du kept her eyes on Dim.“Yes… Well, I hoped the situation changed in this otherworld, but…” Her eyes kept their brightness, masking her obvious disappointment. “I know they understand, even if they don’t show it.” Dim considered her strong spirit as he moved on to his next point.“I’m afraid I can’t tend to these animals, Chern Du. The energy is too precious at this time. You’ll have to segregate the sick animals for now.” At this, Chern Du’s face flattened somewhat. “You can’t spare any?” she asked pointedly. “I’ll segregate them, fine. But you know that if these pack animals die it’ll slow everyone down? Then what good will your marching formation do us?” Her face showed more pain than annoyance as she admonished Dim. The pressure she felt pushed her forward, but it took a toll on her heart. Every disappointment would resonate through the commoner’s collective spirit. Her pain was theirs, and theirs, hers. “You have to trust me. I’ve been leading caravans for seven years now, and I’ve never been undone by a sick mule.” Dim’s flat humour didn’t impress Chern Du, but she seemed placated anyway. Good thing too. Dim didn’t wish to delve into his past experiences in losing a caravan… “I will see to the plants. We were running a deficit on food before the jump, and now it’ll likely get worse until Lillian sorts something out.” That information did little to assuage Chern Du’s worried expression, but she at least seemed contented that Dim was taking care of one of her concerns. “Well, at least there’s that. I’ll show you the way to the herbs.” The packmaster turned and headed to the edge of the caravan without another word. Dim followed suit, trailing behind the clanswoman for a short time. She would stop every once in a while to direct wayward folk or militiamen, or to offer sympathies to the scared or agitated. She took on the burden of leadership at a young age, and it showed. Her maturity came with a deal of wisdom, but also a heavy helping of apprehension. She always moved forward, never stopping for her own sake. All these things Dim noticed over the years, but she remained merely a noble in his mind. But today was different.
Today, Dim really noticed the finer details. How she always spoke with her hands, gesturing frequently. Her patchwork fur attire, once worn by her mother. Her eyes that always scanned the area for someone to assist. These observations must’ve crossed Dim’s mind before, but today they seemed to hold a degree of importance. Dim’s typically passive command over the ‘van placed him leagues above to rest, apart from the rest, or so he thought. This otherworld awakened something within, but what was it?Regardless, Dim had to continue forward…>Walk to Chern Du’s side. Question her about the common folk, about their needs and desires. >Walk to Chern Du’s side. Ask her how she’s doing.>Walk to Chern Du’s side. Say nothing. >Keep at your current pace. You’re only here to purify the herbs.
>>3107238>Walk to Chern Du’s side. Question her about the common folk, about their needs and desires.
((Posting from laptop))Once again, Chern Du stopped to assist some of the ‘folk. A couple struggled against a willful pack animal, which let out an annoyed snort in defiance. They seemed to be at their wits end when Chern Du approached. Her gentle hand lay upon the disobedient ox’s head as she whispered foreign words. Any other person might have lost a finger, but Chern Du’s demeanor calmed animal and man alike. Dim took the opportunity to match pace with the packmaster. Her bright eyes matched Dim’s as he took her side. “Sorry Dim, I just can’t help myself! I’ll take you straight to the herb patch now,” she offered, smiling. “Oh, it’s no problem,” Dim began. “Actually, I was wondering about the ‘folk.” Chern Du raised her eyebrows, as if to say ‘Oh?’ Though she didn’t question Dim’s curiosity audibly. “They seem unsatisfied. What is it they want? Uh, besides more room to wander.” Chern Du’s smile widened further. “Oh you’ve noticed they’re not the happiest bunch? I’m glad we’re on the same page!” she said with a hint of playful irony. “They’re not too hard to please, you know. First and foremost, they want more and better food. These… ‘vegetables’ that the magi conjure are tasteless at best. I know it’s the best they can do, but a little luxury goes a long way.” Her eyes flitted across the horizon as she walked, looking back in Dims direction only occasionally. “And their clothing is a concern. Replacements are rare, you can see how patchy everyone’s clothes are.” She pointed to her arm, along several flax patches. “The figments of the otherworld may not be real, but their goods are real enough. We should trade with the more sane ones, you know?” “It’s dangerous,” Dim finally said after a few moments. “Dealing with the figments. But… If it would mean something to the ‘folk, maybe I’ll sort something out.” Chern Du nodded happily, picking up her pace ever so subtly. “It’s that easy! I mean, they’d also like more time for religious rites, and more weapons just in case. I mean, there are a lot of things they’d [i]like[/i], but food and clothing should be a top priority. Also--” the packmaster stopped speaking suddenly, and her face adopted a curious expression. “You know, I don’t think you’ve ever really addressed the ‘folk. I might’ve asked before, but you’ve never really shown interest in speeches. I don’t blame you but still,” Chern Du turned on her heels to address Dim directly. Dim felt strangely cornered. “Before we set out you should speak to them! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just something to raise their spirits. Just so they know you care.” >”Alright Chern Du, I’ll address them. But don’t promise them a grandiose speech.”>”I don’t think that’s appropriate. Maybe you can speak on my behalf?”>”You know how busy I am. Perhaps if time allows, but no promises.”>”The ‘folk would benefit more from tending to their responsibilities. I have nothing important to tell them.”>Write-in
>>3107887>”Alright Chern Du, I’ll address them. But don’t promise them a grandiose speech.”They shouldn't expect something awe inspiring. It's going to be a raw speech about the dangers of Vice
>>3107887>>3107907Basically this, but with an added helping of 'I've seen people through this before, and I know you've got the stuff to handle it' ego-patting.
The thought of addressing a motley crowd of commoners turned in Dim’s mind. Protecting them came easy, a solemn duty he would never besmirch. But consoling them? Inspiring them? It stilled Dim’s resolve. Even still, the notion seized his curiosity. A paltry few words in exchange for morale seemed like a good trade. “Alright Chern Du, I’ll address them,” Dim finally responded. “But don’t promise them a grandiose speech.” Chern Du’s elation shined with a warm smile, clearly she never expected Dim to actually go for the idea. “You won’t regret it, Dim! It won’t take much to warm their spirits, just let them know they’ll be safe one day. It’s all they really want.” Chern Du continued to the edge of the camp, a spring in her step. There, Dim found a collection of discoloured herbs and fungi growing in a recess in the earth. Clear signs of taint repelled nearby gatherers, who gave Dim some hopeful looks. The hopper extended his palm towards the foliage, goading the insidious Vice out from their hosts. A stream of inky, bruise coloured evil jetted suddenly from the harvest, a low bellow accompanying the transition. Most of the gatherers jumped back, startled by the ungodly sound. But not Chern Du. She, like most of the other nobles, had suffered close contact with the Vice. She stared at the Vice unerringly as it fell into Dim’s palm-well, her face cool with curiosity. As the final bit of Vice tapered into Dim’s prison, a sharpening pain threatened his composure. The transferal process itself inflicted little pain, but as the Vice entered Dim’s system, it began to fight in earnest. The tendrils of evil reached out, jabbing at Dim’s mind and spirit. Only his sacred training and holy auguries allowed survival. This small dose could not overcome one hundred days of invocation. Hopefully, it stayed that way.Chern Du’s clapping tore Dim from his reverie. She wasted no time assuring the gatherers that the plants were safe to take back. As they began to pluck the edible foliage, Chern Du approached. “No problem, eh? It’s only enough to feed a couple dozen people for a day, but every bit counts.” Her eyes never left the gatherers as they went about their task. “I’ll help out here. Thanks for everything, Dim!” The packmaster, ever vigilant, hurried off to her cadre. This left Dim alone with the sharp pains of the Vice. He took one last glance at his palm-well before returning to the camp, suppressing the pain as he walked.[1/3]
A few hours later, the caravan was ready to move out. The trained warriors, some mounted, took their places on the ‘van’s flanks. Dim noted how few they were, only fourteen. One warrior for every dozen commoners, roughly. A poor ratio, Dim lamented. Perhaps, if they were lucky, they would have no need to battle until more warriors could be trained. Dim’s attention turned to the magi at the centre of the column, who bristled with arcane energy. Their heavy burden would only intensify as the ‘van marched. Dim hoped whatever Lillian needed could wait… It would have to. His focus turned to the moski near the front of the ‘van. Their presence disturbed some of the nobles, and all of the warriors. At least the queen’s petitions were satisfied, Dim thought. They fought fiercely, and had a knack for scouting. Surely that was worth a few concessions?Dim’s focus shifted to Chern Du, who pantomimed in his direction. Suddenly, he remembered what he’d promised. After a deep breath, he nodded to Chern Du, who proceeded to direct the crowd’s attention. “Everyone! Hey, everyone! Sir Palmfast has something to say!” The eerie silence of the plains aided in Chern Du’s proclamation, as if the whole world itself shifted its attention onto Dim. There, at the head of hundreds, Dim prepared to speak. “The Vice…” Dim started, unaccustomed to the stress of oration. “The Vice will not stop. It’s a churning void of destruction, one that cares little for your concerns or beliefs. Don’t think a charm or prayer will save you. It will not. What will save you… Is conviction.” Dim widened his stance, pointing into the worried crowd. He began to channel the skills of holy men in his order. “More so than a sword, more so than a spell, it’s your resolve that will see you through this. The Vice is all-consuming. It consumes man, woman, child, and moski alike. If you don’t have the resolve to survive, than you are already lost.” Dim stopped for a moment, suffering a barrage of troubled looks. “But… I know you lot have the capacity to survive. I’ve seen it in all of you, those who’ve survived for years, in spite of the threat you’ve faced. And why? Complacency is short lived here. The Vice’s myriad of creatures, its corrupting aura, its unending march… none of it has consumed us yet. Remember that, remember what you’ve accomplished in spite of the damned Vice. Remember not to let your guard down, not to lose heart, and I promise we’ll make it to the eastward hope.” Dim held his posture for a few more moments, before taking in the response. It was silent, not like the orations back in the old world. Nobody cheered or clapped, but there was a clear change. The commoner’s faces hardened ever so subtly. Beleaguered eyes shone with a spark of resolve.[2/3]
Chern Du, mouthing words of encouragement, turned to he ‘van. “Alright everyone, you heard the man. To the eastward hope!” Carts creaked and pack animals bellowed as the caravan ambled forward. Dim stood at his vantage for a few moments, taking in the sight. The beginning-- another beginning, another otherworld. Dim thought of the speech he just made. The words were sweet, and maybe many of the ‘van believed them… But did he?***The first day passed by without much trouble. The caravan kept a good pace, as did the people therein. Turl and Vonus still bickered over trivialities concerning battle ready men. Turl wanted more up front with his scouts, while Vonus insisted that they stay towards the rear, near the real threat. Both men, now entrenched in their beliefs, refused to budge. Vonus Pitdog had almost all of his men keep to the back of the ‘van in the end. Lillian, as expected, turned a cold shoulder to Dim, who’d ignored her requests. According to intermediaries, she felt her research slowed without Dim’s abilities.Dim could do nothing but shake his head. Was he expected to be everywhere at once? The disrespect was hard to bear. At least the common folk seemed more lively, in general. The moski as well, though it was somewhat hard to tell.With the sun affixed to the skies, telling time fell under the purview of the magi. On the hour, an apprentice would alert Dim of the change. It seemed more a task meant to train them than to keep Dim informed, but the consistency helped keep a calm mind. As an eager apprentice called out midday, Dim spotted trouble on the horizon. A group of figments, echoes of the lost world, stood in formation a short distance ahead of the ‘van. Dim’s heart dropped when he realized they were soldiers of some foreign country, perhaps thirty of them. Figments held only some of the sanity of their true forms, and so any meeting with one could go in any direction.Dim looked around to see the ‘van coming to a halt. Some of the soldiers cursed, and the magi began to prepare their spells. Dim considered his options.>Parley alone with the figments, meeting in the open field. You could escape more easily than anyone. >Parley with a small armed escort, meeting in the open field. Only warriors and magi.>Parley with a large retinue. Better safe than sorry.>Wait for them to send an envoy, adopting a defensive position. Prepare for a battle.>Wait for them to send an envoy. Gather diplomats and nobles to the front. Prepare for diplomacy.
>>3108529Wait for them to send an envoy. Adopt a defensive position.
>>3108529>>Wait for them to send an envoy, adopting a defensive position. Prepare for a battle.
>>3108529>Parley alone with the figments, meeting in the open field. You could escape more easily than anyone.
Dim, thinking it better to dig in than risk contact, barked several orders to nearby nobles. In the next couple hours, militiamen hastily posted wooden palisades and stakes in front of the ‘van. Magi prepared spells meant to devastate figments, and mounted warriors took position at the ‘van’s flanks. As the ‘van raised its defenses, Dim kept a close eye on the foreign troops. They seemed impassive, keeping their formation in the caravan’s path. After many in the ‘van stood ready for battle, Turl Winston returned from a scouting mission. He stopped in front of Dim, impossibly still despite the miles he’d just run. “I don’t recognize their insignia, Sir Palmfast. They seem antiquated, maybe a few hundred years old.” Winston relaxed his posture, taking in the sight of the fortified caravan, “I don’t think they’re planning on attacking. They want us to go to them, for better or worse.” Dim considered his words closely. They’d already spent two hours preparing; two hours closer to the Vice. Miles of open land stood as a buffer between them and the wall of malevolence. How much more could they afford to lose? Vonus Pitdog approached the front of the ‘van. His harsh steps pressed into the brittle earth, a man with power to spare. He gave one cold look at Winston before addressing Dim. “Commander, the ‘van is ready for battle. The moski cower with the women and children, as you promised them. Even without them, I think we outmatch a few score men.” He looked as if he had more to add, but Winston chimed in. “Sir Palmfast, don’t you think we’ve waited long enough? If they intended on sending someone, they would have done it by now,” the scoutmaster said. His calm attitude was a welcome change from the rest of the ‘van. “What do you propose, scout?” Pitdog asked, sneering. Winston continued without acknowledging the warrior. “Let me go parley with them. You’re too important here, and I know how to slip past them if I need to.” The scoutmaster’s bold offer elicited a snort from Pitdog. “Ha! Very well, if you need to prove yourself so foolishly. I believe we should wait here, commander. Figments always revert to barbarism, they’ll fall on our spears.” The veteran’s remarks do little to curb the young scoutmaster’s resolve.“Send me, send someone! How long can we wait here? Remember all that stuff you say about the Vice? Let’s just sort these figments out and be done with it.”>Agree with scoutmaster Winston. Send him, someone else, or go yourself.>Agree with warleader Pitdog. Remain fortified for a couple more hours.>Use energy to survey the figments. (-6 energy of 27)>Command magi augurs to survey the figments. (Use faction, Reduces battle magic)>Command cavalry to sally forth as a show of force. (Use faction, Aggression)
>>3108762Use energy to survey them.
>>3108762>>Agree with scoutmaster Winston. Send him
Rolled 1 (1d2)Rolling and writing...
>>3108762>>Agree with scoutmaster Winston. Send him.Late, but.
((Sorry Anon, the dice have spoken.))As the two nobles argued, Dim could not help but to level his gaze eastward. The figments weren’t attacking, surely a good sign. But what were their intentions? Dim stepped past the stake perimeter of the ‘van, tailed by the contentious nobles. He extended his right arm outward, angled towards the sky, his left palm set on his brow. Sending an outer eye would cost some energy, but it was necessary for the safety of the caravan. A bulbous orb of white and mauve light shot from Dim’s palm-well, flitting through the air towards the figments. He left it up to Winston and Pitdog to alert his body should the need arise.The outer eye jettisoned through the air with gusto. It barely held together, stressed by the unstable power of Dim’s energy. Dim showed no concern, however. Soon the energy would taper off, and the eye would fall apart. The quick burning nature of the energy couldn’t be helped, Dim lamented. One day he would have to refine his spellcraft, or seek out the aid of a more talented hopper. For now, he had no choice but to expend more energy stabilizing the spell. The eye hovered high over the soldiers. Dim did not recognize the flag they flew, nor the strange make of their weapons. He counted sixty-five armoured infantry, one dressed with some degree of pomp. They stood eerily still, facing the caravan in staggered formation, weapons ready. They seemed prepared to maintain their defensive stance for the foreseeable future. Even worse, figments required no food or sleep, though they didn’t realize it themselves. This stalemate would go on indefinitely if neither side budged. Dim focused his outer eye on the figment at the head of the formation. His headdress implied some degree of importance, as well as his ornamental spear. As the outer eye began to fall apart, Dim focused its remaining energy on probing the figment’s mind. He saw the concern of high office, a patriotic zeal, a walled city gilded with gold, and legions of soldiers. Dim grinned as he found a hidden kernel of reason and equity in the figment’s heart. The eye dissolved, throwing Dim back into his own mind. He rubbed his eyes with his left hand, the strain of magic clouding his sight. Winston and Pitdog greeted him with curious faces once he regained his composure. “I’ve seen their strength. A patriotic bunch meant to guard their nation from foreigners like us. They’ll wait until the end of time if it meant they could die on their own lands.” Dim stretched his aching right hand, pointing at Winston. “You and I will go to meet with their commander. I sense he’ll have something to say. Something reasonable, if we’re lucky.” Turl Winston beamed at this command, ever eager to demonstrate his worth. Pitdog gave only a small nod before returning to his post.
The journey across the barren plains towards the figment garrison was uneventful. Dim kept several paces behind the scoutmaster, at his request. Winston insisted he should be the first one targeted, if necessary. Dim wasn’t sure if the insistence came from a place of loyalty or bravado. Still, it gave Dim time to mentally prepare himself.As the two men approached the legion of figments, Dim’s prediction proved true. None loosed their javelins, nor did they charge towards the relatively defenseless caravaners. Instead, a small group led by their commander stepped forward. “Hail! You’ve grown sick of waiting, foreigner?” the head soldier called. His form, like all figments, let off a faint white glow. Deep recesses etched his half-complete face, fissures of light filling their depths. Only one partly formed eye revealed his calm demeanor. “Well, we’re ready to speak. What is your business here? Are you refugees?”Dim looked to Winston, who only offered a noncommittal shrug. “Yes, well, you could say that. More appropriately, you could call us pilgrims.” Dim thought his go-to story would be good enough to convince the likes of this guard. A figment’s stability hinged on their beliefs going unchallenged. No one would question the displacement of religious folk in the old world. Dim only hoped wherever these figments came from suffered from similar upheaval. “Pilgrims? Quite a few of you. How many armed? And magi? I have no intention of letting a warband through.” His tone was terse, impatient. “Mercenaries. We have some wealthy benefactors of the faith with us. We’d be willing to pay for passage,” Dim offered, knowing the manipulative ability of the Magi. It would cost them nothing but a few hours conjuring false coin.“Sounds like a bribe,” the figment asserted. He took a few moments to size up the two caravaners, then he looked towards the sun for a strangely long time. “But I know how inhospitable the wastes are,” he suddenly says. “No one would go through that ordeal without good reason. I have a mind to let you pass. In fact, I’ll escort your troupe to the nearest city. There, you can petition for legal passage.” Dim’s lips twisted in displeasure. He had no need for their kind of ‘protection.’ Behind, he sensed Winston’s disapproval. “And, of course, a toll is in order.” Dim felt the impression that neither the toll nor the escort was optional.>Arrange payment and allow the escort. It would cost only time, and the escort could be dealt with later. >Refuse the toll, but allow the escort. Promise later payment if necessary.>Pay the toll, but refuse the escort. Offer more payment if it means the ‘van will be left alone.>Refuse the figment’s offer amicably. Return to the ‘van and prepare to attack.>Refuse the figment’s offer forcefully. Expend energy to obliterate some of the figments, along with their commander. We can outrun the rest. (-7 energy of 21)>Write-in
I'm not sure...time is valuable for us, we can't just waste it. But I'm not even sure if their 'city' even still stands in ANY form. That said, considering how we're just hauling ass, I don't know why we'd need money, so I see no reason to deny that.
>>3109498>Refuse the figment’s offer amicably. Return to the ‘van and prepare to attack
>>3109545Good point. Dim would know (and so you would as well) that the city [i]maybe[/i] isn't around anymore, since this otherworld is only a shallow reflection of random aspects of the old world. That being said, there's an okay chance it's somewhere nearby, since these guys are here. At this point, it's hard to say for sure. Money is forged by creating illusions that fool the figments, who see what they [i]want[/i] to see. It takes time to make, so that's time the caravan sits idle.
>>3109498>>Pay the toll, but refuse the escort. Offer more payment if it means the ‘van will be left alone.I'll vote for this.
>>3109498Pay the toll, don't accept the escort.
>>3109498>Pay the toll, but refuse the escort
>>3109498>Refuse the toll, but allow the escort. Promise later payment if necessary.If they won't be able to find a city will they travel with us indefinitely? Free protection? I say take em
Behind the figment leader, the rest started showing signs of life. Their eyes lit up with cognition, and their hands tightened around their spears. The longer the two caravaners stayed, the more the figments ‘woke’ from their stasis. The leader himself wore a confident smile, his form shimmering with an awoken energy. Dim didn’t like the idea of tying the ‘van to these figments, whose motives could shift with the hour. He considered the ‘wealth’ back at the ‘van. Perhaps he could appeal to the figment’s avarice. “Well, captain--”“Lieutenant. Lieutenant Gabriel. And your names?” the figment interjected, adjusting his headdress.“Oh, uh, sorry about that. I’m Dim Palmfast of Salvation’s Edict. This is Turl Winston, a follower of my Order.” Dim gestures toward Winston, who seems to hold back from commenting. “We don’t have much to provide besides wealth, you see. Our rations are scarce, and our people spartan. We’re willing to pay more if you could provide blanket passage through your esteemed country.” Dim used a paltry sum of energy to form a false coin on his palm. A silver token, complex patterns of the guilds of his home tracing its surface. Dim hoped the figment might recognize the patterns, but their foreign nature eluded the figment. “I have no such authority, Dim Palmfast,” the soldier said, his eyes glued to the token offering. “I must escort you, however… If you were to provide, say, three times the toll? I’ll consider it a contribution to the defense of the realm. I’ll have a handful guide you to the city, and the rest will see to the proper use of the defense fund. How does that sound?”Dim sighed internally. The greed of men lasted into their figmentation. At least, he thought, the ‘van could use it to their advantage. He concluded dealings with Lieutenant Gabriel and returned to the fortified caravan. For the next six hours, the magi set to constructing illusory silver bars. Dim claimed they needed the time for elaborate religious rites, and Gabriel was all too understanding. His off-kilter smile stuck in the back of Dim’s mind. Had that kernel of reason he saw in the lieutenant’s heart been the core or the exception? He hoped the silver would be enough to sate his hunger.The magi loaded the false silver into a cart, though it weighed almost nothing. The figments would see and feel only what their minds truly desired, thankfully. Many an apparition fell prey to this ruse over the last several years. Hopefully its efficacy would persist all the way eastward.
The ‘van, once again mobile, continued towards the hilly valley to the east. The foreign garrison, ever vigilant, parted to allow passage once Dim payed their toll. Gabriel, eyes alive with greed, weighed each bar carefully. “It’s better you hand this over now,” he commented. “Who knows what trouble you’ll run into through the valley.” Whether he meant the comment as a threat or a benign notion, Dim couldn’t tell. Men like this in the old world would go to any lengths for wealth and glory. Dim banked on the fragile nature of the figments; once left to their own devices, they invariably decayed into ethereal fragments. The only problem now marched besides them, the token force assigned by the lieutenant. Eight figments marched in a two by four column, spears and shields in hand. At best, they offered disposable fodder. At worst… Dim shuddered to think how much havoc they could wreak should they lose their minds. Prescience demanded some sort of plan.>Leave the apparitions to their duty. If we come upon the city, they’ll depart. They help our defense in the mean time.>Ask the figments to lead the way, so you can be the first to know if something goes wrong. If they don’t agree, leave them to their duty.>Attempt a surprise attack once far east of their garrison. Surround them with warriors and magi, and attack when poised or found out. >Bribe them. Their greed may overwhelm their sense of duty.>Disperse them with energy. (-5 energy of 21) Mop up any survivors.
>>3110185>Ask the figments to lead the way, so you can be the first to know if something goes wrong. If they don’t agree, leave them to their duty.
>>3110185Ask them to lead the way.
Feeling uneasy with the foreign soldiers marching alongside the ‘van, Dim elected to speak with their leader. As he passed by the magi and warriors, he sensed a growing unease. Concerned eyes threw nervous looks in Dim’s direction. The people knew as well as Dim the danger that figments posed. He considered talking to them, but though better of it. Words proved pointless when action could do so much more.The tight column of figments loosened at Dim’s approach. One of the leading soldiers stepped forward, poised to answer. “An unusual troupe you lead, pilgrim,” the frowning man said. “They seem very out of sorts… Are we so offensive?” His face showed no signs of concern, only the stoic visage of a veteran. Dim walked alongside the figment, standing between the column and the ‘van.“You must understand, er…”“Captain Graast,” he said curtly.“Captain. My people, they’ve been treated quite poorly over the years. We’ve traveled far, with every day we exchange hospitality with caution,” Dim admitted, carefully plucking the words from the air.“Aye? It seems the same here in my homeland. Hospitably is a dead notion, Palmfast. I speak for my men when I say we get no joy from escorting foreigners. They bring trouble, more often than not. Let’s both make this a more pleasant trip and keep to ourselves.” Graast attempted to break off the conversation and return to his formation. “Wait, captain Graast,” Dim started, reaching his left palm out. “This is why I’m here. You see… To keep friction to a minimum, perhaps you could join me at the head of the ‘van. There, we can talk more of our peoples and their similarities.” The soldier’s face revealed no change in heart. “Uh, we can talk over some fine wine? I don’t drink, for religious reasons. Really, it’s gone to waste in our hands.” At the offer of drink, some of the other figments perked up. Even Graast seemed somewhat interested.“Very well, Palmfast. A drink for me and my men. But then we return to our posts.” Dim could plainly feel the mood of the soldiers rise. He took his small victory and excused himself. On the way to the front of the ‘van, Dim pulled aside a mage, submitting a request for illusory wine. He knew there’d only be enough to distract them for the night. >Allow the figments some revelry. Perhaps Graast with be more receptive in the morning. >Invite some of the nobles to the festivities. It’ll help the mood of the ‘van, and maybe they could find common ground with the soldiers.>Let the soldiers drink until their guard is down. Then ambush them.>Poison the arcane beverages, attempting to dissolve the figments without bloodshed. (-4 energy of 21)>Write-in
>>3110592Allow the pigments some revelry.
>>3110592>Invite some of the nobles to the festivities. It’ll help the mood of the ‘van, and maybe they could find common ground with the soldiers.
While daylight never ended in this otherworld, the men and women of the caravan couldn’t march forever. The common folk began their routine of setting up camp, the warriors began their patrols, and the magi set to conjuring food and tools for the coming day. The sour smell of raw mana permeated the camp as the air fizzled with energy. The smell put off most folk, but Dim found some small comfort in it. It smelled like progress, like safety. It meant they survived another day, meant they could face tomorrow. Dim sat at the head of a low table, usually meant for meetings with the nobles. The surface, etched with dents and chips, reminded Dim of the years he’d spent as a hopper. All the decisions he’d made, all the nobles who’d sat here with him. Back when the table hadn’t a scratch on it, Dim lead with more gusto. His faith, aflame with confidence, guided that first caravan. What good did it bring? The cracked leg in the far corner, the slash to his left, the divots in the centre. All that remained of his first council marred the surface now, forever a memorial to those bright minds. If he weren’t so used to the sight, he might’ve shed a tear.But such idolatry served no one here, now. Dim broke from his rumination when Lillian Newsaint approached with the illusory wine. She set the bottles on the table, and turned her attention to the unlit sconces nearby. Her thin, scarred hands invoked flame with ease, lighting the area with ambience. She sat across from Dim without a word, her face flat with a typical frown. Dim said nothing, knowing the mage director had plenty to say. Indeed, the silence only lasted a few more moments before Newsaint addressed Dim. “Where are your priorities, Palmfast?” she started, a stern tone. Her pointed eyebrows gave her aged face a look of severity unmatched by anyone else in the ‘van. “This gold and wine… You know every moment you trifle with these figments, with every mage you dedicate to pleasing them, we could be studying the Vice? I understand the need to look after the ‘folk or to placate these false soldiers, but our true enemy remains the same, and demands constant attention. Sometimes I think I’m the only one truly aware of this fact.” Her tainted hands met, fingertips aligning. They trembled ever so subtly with age… or was it an effect of the constant magic manipulation? Dim thought it prudent to end his silence.
>”I’m sorry, Newsaint. I know you’re capable, and so I’ve tended to other matters. I agree that the Vice is paramount above other concerns, but I can’t dedicate myself fully knowing everything else that could go wrong.”>”My priorities are my own to decide, Newsaint. You can agree or disagree with them, I don’t care. What I do care about it saving these people, and if I determine that you can help with that, expect a visit. Until then, mind your magi and I’ll mind you nobles.”>”Look News-- Lillian. Things have changed, and I think you know that. This otherworld is different, and so long as I’m in command, I need to make the best decisions for the entire ‘van. Until I have a better grip on things, allow me some latitude.”>”Is this about the errands you wanted done? I’ll make it my top priority to see to these concerns after dealing with the figments. For now, let me see to them.” (Faction promise)>Write-in
>>3111008>”Look News-- Lillian. Things have changed, and I think you know that. This otherworld is different, and so long as I’m in command, I need to make the best decisions for the entire ‘van. Until I have a better grip on things, allow me some latitude.”
Dim pondered his position as the commander and guide of the expedition. The constant questioning, vying for attention… Besides being distracting, it seemed counter productive. Instead of berating he mage, or debating with her, Dim elected a different approach. “Look News-- Lillian. Things have changed, and I think you know that. This otherworld is different, and so long as I’m in command, I need to make the best decisions for the entire ‘van. Until I have a better grip on things, allow me some latitude.” Dim found it somewhat difficult to maintain eye contact with the severe mage. Though, when he did look up, he found a perplexed look on her face. “Chern Du was right, you’re a bit off kilter today.” Newsaint’s grey eyes scanned the flames for a few moments before continuing. “But maybe you’re on kilter.” She rose from her seat, laying a palm on the wine. “Just remember my petition, Palmfast. The magi are the heart of this expedition, and they deserve respect. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She turned abruptly, heading back towards her station. Dim didn’t look up, his focus captured by the markings on the table. “Things could be different…” Dim whispered, memories running through his mind. ***The figment soldiers brought hesitation to Dim’s table. Their discomfort prevented them from indulging, at first. Each hesitated, perhaps fearing poison. The thought had crossed Dim’s mind. Regardless, they remained stalwart, only taking sips at a time. Their commander did little to relieve their concerns, electing not to drink at all. Dim did his best to lower their guards, speaking with Graast about their journey and trials. The stern figment hardly budged, only letting out the occasional single word response. Dim struggled into the night, prying only a handful of sentences from the soldier. Luckily, as time went on, the other soldiers loosened up a bit. Short whispering turned into conversation, then muted merriment. Satisfied with the inertia of the gathering, Dim sat back and allowed the figments some fun. “I’ll be back shortly, captain,” Dim said some time into the ‘night.’ “I need to tend to some matters in the caravan proper. Please help yourselves to more wine until I return.” The soldiers had no trouble taking up Dim’s offer. Even the captain deigned to smile and carouse with his men. Dim left the tent in good spirits, confident his decision payed off.After about an hour of work, Dim returned to find the situation changed. The get-together evolved into a party, drunken revelry in full swing. The noise clashed with the usual solemn nature of the caravan, laughter echoing across the camp. Dim followed the ruckus back to the tent, where he found soldiers and caravaners indulging together. Dim navigated past drunk man and figment alike, searching for the captain. Several caravaners danced atop Dim’s table, or around the lit sconces. Most of the party goers, Dim found, wore scout’s garb. It could only mean one thing…
At the centre of the revelry, Dim found his suspect. Turl Winston, drunk as ever, sat across from the captain, both entangled in an arm wrestling contest. Both soldier and scout cheered on their respective leader. It all looked like good fun… But the nature of the figment meant that could all change in an instant. >Intervene in the contest before something bad happens. Drag the drunken scoutmaster away and demand an explanation.>Wait for the contest to conclude before pulling Winston away. Ask him who allowed such an intrusion.>Leave Winston to his devices. Really, this is a good thing.>Join in the contest, demanding a match with the winner.
>>3111618>Wait for the contest to conclude before pulling Winston away. Ask him who allowed such an intrusion.
>>3111618Intervene. Be subtle about it, don't just drag him away.
>>3111618>Join inI don´t think they will be causing any trouble today
Rolled 3 (1d3)Rolling and writing...
The agitation gripping Dim’s mind melted away as he realized what a boon Winston provided. He had done it without Dim’s orders, sure, but he practically saved the evening. If he punished such initiative, what message would that send to everyone else?A heavy thud shook Dim from his thoughts. Turl Winston let out a whooping cheer, followed by his fellow scouts. The soldiers made so sound, looking towards their defeated leader before acting out of line. Captain Graast held them in suspense for several hanging moments, his face blank. Even the scouts simmered down in the face of such silence. Only Winston continued cheering. In the back of Dim’s mind, plans to subdue the captain began to form. A hearty laugh suspended Dim’s fears, as the captain reared back in elation. His booming voice spurred his subordinates on, who whooped and cheered just as loudly. The chorus chimed with an eerie echo, the subtle indication of a figment’s curse. Nobody else seemed to notice, however, and the party rolled on. Dim considered excusing himself for the night, but the opportunity for much needed fun proved too tantalizing. Dim set his hand on Graast’s shoulder, eyes intent. “Mind if I put the scoutmaster in his place, captain.” The figment nodded to Dim, rising from his seat. He beckoned a nearby soldier to refill his cup as he took a place in the crowd. Dim’s challenge sobered the scoutmaster up for a moment, clearly prepared for a scolding. When Dim offered his hand, eyes aflame with determination, Winston could only grin and sit back down. His eyes and hand locked with Dim’s as a chorus of cups clattered against the table. One eager scout slammed his palm down, electing himself the referee. “Ready… ready… Go!” he declared, setting the contest into motion. Turl Winston wasn’t an overly muscled man. His lean frame befitted an agile runner, his arms far smaller than Dim’s. Still, he wielded a certain technique that Dim lacked. What’s more, his drunkenness bestowed upon him a degree of strength. Dim, who never in the past indulged in such contests, put himself at a distinct disadvantage. His raw strength, however, counted for a lot.The cheering reached a crescendo about a minute in, after several nearby party-goers joined the crowd. Dim heard cheers for Winston, himself, and other names he didn’t recognize. Dim’s endurance began to falter, and he almost resigned to defeat. Right before he gave in, Winston lost his drive. The hopper’s strength was too much, his hand pushing Winston’s to the marred table with a resounding thud. Another series of whoops and cheers punctuated Dim’s victory.
Turl Winston kept an annoyed grimace on his face for only a few moments before mustering a wide smile. “I shoulda known better, eh Palmfast?” he said after the crowd quieted down. “To be fair, I just spent all my strength on the figment… So a tie?” Dim felt a jolt up his spine. ‘The figment,’ Winston just said. A cursory glance showed no one, not even the figments, noticed the faux pas. Thank God for wine…“Scoutmaster Winston, we should talk about--” a pained yell cut off Dim’s thought. He and Winston rose from the table instantly, looking to the far corner of the tent. Both men, sober with fear, rushed through the crowd to the sight of a man doubled over in pain in front of one of the soldiers. The figment’s face showed no emotion, staring forward unerringly, his hand balled into a fist. Winston rushed to aid the downed caravaner, who nursed a couple crushed fingers. “What’s the meaning of this?” Captain Graast demanded, seizing hold of the figment assailant. As he touched the blank soldier, he received a gruesome jab to the throat, sending him sprawling back into the forming crowd. The wild figment had tears in his eyes, the deep fissures of light on his face expanding and contracting. Surely, the soldier was fragmenting. He threatened to send the rest into a similar frenzy if Dim didn’t act fast. >Grab hold of the wild figment, attempting to subdue him. Command Winston to get magi or warriors.>Destroy the figment with a focused blast. You’ll have to answer to the captain. (-3 energy of 21)>Command nearby scouts to apprehend the figment, while you prepare to isolate other unstable figments if and when they appear.>Write-in
>>3112803>Command nearby scouts to apprehend the figment, while you prepare to isolate other unstable figments if and when they appear.
>>3112803Command the scouts to subdue the wild figment and any others going crazy.
((Merging responses…))“Keru, Vicca, Winston! Look out for more trouble!” Dim boomed, pointing out scouts in the crowd. “You three, apprehend the wild one. Be careful!” The scouts jumped into action immediately, sobered by Dim’s commands. Dim stood back, electing to keep an eye on the crowd. A few of the soldiers rushed to their commander’s side. The rest stood still, dumbfounded. They didn’t appear unstable, but Dim knew how chaotic the situation could become. “Everyone, I need you to—“The wild figment, seized by madness, cried out a horrid bellow. It shook the soldiers from their catatonia, spurring them to action. “Reyet, what comes over you?” a soldier cries out, joining the scouts in their attempt to seize his friend. Two more follow, allowing a scout to bind the berserk soldier. Even in the presence of the madman, the other figments remained grounded. Their concerned faces, traced with lines of light, revealed no instability. Dim let out a sigh of relief. He walked to the bound figment, staring deep into his eyes. The light within bounced and scattered chaotically as the soldier whimpered, seizing with discomfort. Both soldier and scout stepped back, one group unsure and the other resigned to what would happen next. Dim whispered hurriedly, his eyes intent on the captive soldier. A subtle power overtook the hopper, seeping into the fissures of his target. The other soldiers looked on in stunned silence as Dim rooted the instability from their comrade. Even the captain recovered in time to witness Dim’s invocation. Soon, the bound figment stopped seizing, his mad mumbling quieted. He slipped into a deep sleep, perhaps never to wake again. Once Dim regained control of his senses, the other soldiers woke from their stillness. The captain approached, hand on his bruised throat. “What… What have you done?” the figment choked, his voice strained.“I did what I must, Captain Graast. A blessing of my Order, meant to calm wild souls. Please, leave your man with me, so that I can see to his recovery.” Something of a lie, for sure. This figment would likely never wake up, but his outburst presented an opportunity for Lillian’s magi. Dim rarely captured the figments intact. Who knows how much longer this one had. “I… Can’t have that. We’ll look after him, you’ve done enough.” The captain’s voice spelt out clear agitation. >Press the issue. The caravan can benefit from this doomed figment. Better he stayed away from the others anyway.>Allow the captain to take his man away. He may no longer be a threat, even in the presence of the other figments. >Use this outburst as an excuse to dismiss the captain and his troop. Convince the captain that parting ways would be best for both parties.>Apologize profusely for the incident, citing that responsibility lies with the host. Perhaps this would smooth over any agitation.
>>3116675>Use this outburst as an excuse to dismiss the captain and his troop. Convince the captain that parting ways would be best for both parties.I browse on phone sometimes. I can't always copy paste.
>>3116675>Use this outburst as an excuse to dismiss the captain and his troop. Convince the captain that parting ways would be best for both parties.
>>3116693((No problem. Wasn’t sure if it was, like, a slightly altered write-in or something.)) Dim looked at the figment captain. An annoyance came over him, tensing his muscles. Why even listen to this figment? They would only prove troublesome the longer they stayed. Two of the soldiers attempted waking the hollowed figment, shaking him while calling his name. The captain kept a stern watch over his allies, dismayed at how the evening had spiraled out of control. He swayed slightly with drunkenness, not quite present. Dim recognized the feeling. Sometimes, when your subordinates fell apart, the burden of leadership magnified. Surely, being a figment, his mind swam with confusion. He could never understand the nature of the affliction gripping his ally. If he did… it would only unravel his mind. Stepping to his side, Dim thought it best to seize this reflective moment. “I realize how troubled this must make you, captain. I did what I could to settle the man’s mind, but whatever madness has seized him… I’m afraid it’s out of my power to help him. It may be best to bring him back to the garrison, or perhaps to your city.” Dim kept his mournful gaze toward the inert figment, concern thick in his voice. “This is troubling, but I think it’s time we separate, as much as I’d hoped to learn from your people. It’s best for us, and it’s best for your afflicted friend.” Dim let the words hang in the air, giving the captain time to respond. “I will hold you accountable for his health, foreigner,” the captain uttered, finally. “If our apothecaries cannot help him… I’ll be sure to send a much larger force after your caravan. I will not abet foul sorcery in my homeland.” Graast never looked at Dim, but his threats carried serious weight. The figment soldiers left post haste towards their home. Captain Graast didn’t utter so much as a sentence to any caravaner after giving Dim his grim assurances. As the eight figments marched eastward, Dim could only hope they’d disperse quietly. At least the immediate threat was gone.Dim returned to the command tent. The ceremonial table took on a few more scars, at the least. Cups and discarded bottles littered the table and ground. Illusory wine mixed with actual, seeping into the meek earth. As Dim walked to the head of the table, he could feel his boots sink into damp ground. He picked up a bottle of false wine, watching as it slowly dissipated. A scout interrupted his thoughts. “All taken care of, Sir Palmfast? Er, we’ll be cleaning this up, of course.” The nervous young woman stood only halfway into the tent. Clearly, she’d prefer to be anywhere else.
>Reprimand the scout. Then command her to bring Turl Winston immediately, as well as more scouts for cleaning duty.>Tell the woman to bring some scouts for a cleaning detail. Tell her to inform Turl Winston that you’ll be meeting with him later.>Admit some fault for the party getting out of hand to the woman. Tell her to assemble a few scouts. This place needed cleaning. >Dismiss the scout. Clean the place up yourself. No need to involve anyone else.>Write-in
>>3116821Admit some fault. Get some scouts to clean up.
I think I'll wrap it up here for the first thread. Thank you guys for driving the story.
Only page 4 with 85 replys. Can still keep it going.
>>3118221Thanks for the interest, but I'll be dealing with christmas stuff for the next few days. I'd like to continue the quest after that, though.
Thanks for running op. It's rare to see a good OC quest.