>Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Bladebound%20Retainer%20Quest>Previous Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3242320/>Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaskForceKaz>Pastebin: http://pastebin.com/u/TaskForceKaz[STATS]>Combat: +++>Social: +>Knowledge: ++[Abilities/Traits/Perks]>Indomitable, Rank 1 [Special]: Ignore the penalties imposed by Blood Loss. Does not negate health loss. >Atelier of Death, Rank 2: Craft your own Bombs and Poisons up to Rank 2 without penalty.>Blutmörder: +10 to Combat Rolls made against Blutlings and Blood Mages.>Fleetfooted: If a Natural One would be among any roll related to acrobatic feats both in and out of combat, immediately disregard it and either take the highest roll or reroll again.>Lone Wolf [Special]: You work best when alone. Take a +15 when fighting by yourself, and a -10 when fighting with more than three allies. Additional ranks increase the bonus, and may decrease the penalty.>In Plain Sight: >+30 to Disguising/Hiding/Sneaking, Take 75 in non-stressful situations >Mind of Steel [Special]: Your experiences have led you to be jaded and cynical. Take a +30 to resist attempts, magical or mundane, to try and influence you (i.e. seduction, intimidation, etc.).>Nimble Fingers 2: +40 to non-attack actions involving your hands (lockpicking, pickpocketing, etc.).>Knowledge: Nobility (Aderaveth): Take a flat 50 to Knowledge rolls concerning this subject. >Knowledge: Underworld (Aderaveth): Take a flat 50 to Knowledge rolls concerning this subject.>Riding, Rank 2: You are able to ride unassisted, and perform rudimentary skills to obedient horses.>Specter’s Dream [SPECIAL]: A technique to allow one to rest while remaining aware of one’s surroundings. (4/8/12 hour intervals each with their own bonuses)>Taste for Magic [Special]: Years of living with a sorceress have instilled a biological reaction in your body whenever you are near magical sources. You can make a Check to identify and distinguish magical auras, with each degree of success yielding additional information.>Underdog: You have spent many years fighting against opponents bigger and heavier than you, and emerged the victor. Against Large humans or monsters (i.e. in excess of 7 ft. of height and 300 lbs of weight), you gain a +10 to Combat rolls.You are Marcus Painel, the troubled son of the late assassin Lucien Painel, dead by your own hands at ten. At the age of eighteen, you have already loved and lost, and the blood of dozens stains your hands a crimson red of retribution. But a chance meeting at the brink of death has found you as the bodyguard to Princess Ellana Crowmond, youngest of the royal family of the Aderaveth Empire. Inducted to her service as her Crownguard, you have sworn to keep her safe from harm by whatever means necessary…(cont.)
First for ravaging Adrianna while she pretends she hates it until she caves and admits she love it!
In the last threads, you navigated the troubles plaguing the village of Alnerwich. Securing enough proof to expose Alderman Gizo’s compliance with the Vascieli rebels, you infiltrated his brewery to secure evidence to present to Landgraffs Pullman and von Roie. Alas, the alderman and his henchmen already planned to escape, with a splinter force attempting to kidnap Carris Norten, a whore you’d become acquainted with. Rescuing her from her captors, the delay was almost enough to prevent you from catching them as they fled down the river in one of their transport barges.Enter Krabat. The traveling grain merchant offered his services, revealing his true calling as one of the last druids of the continent. Using his powers, the two of you caught up to the crooks and dispatched them without any significant difficulty. With Gizo in your custody, you had enough time to speak with Krabat and sort out the mess of your emotions...until he revealed a dark and troubling secret...>>>The fog of time reels and pulls away...>Autumn 12, 215 ACR>An Empress who Struggles to hold the WorldContrary to what her father believed, it was not the day of her wedding when Mel first met the rightful emperor, surrounded by loyalists in the thousands in an open field and sky.She was still nearly that same slip of a girl on the day of the ceremony. There was little about her that changed beyond her height, merely a handful of inches. But on that warm summer evening, she was not dressed in a gown of white silk, interwoven with pearls and cut to emphasize, not highlight, the gentle swell of her developing chest. It had been a simple nightgown, woven from the lightest cotton, and made as little noise as a whisper on the wind no matter how fast she ran.They all had the idea to pester Helmut for sweets. The portly, stout cook had no resistance for pleading children. It was a routine they had done over the course of their lives. He would put up a stiff front, and the Tarmund children would beg most unbecomingly for a servant’s pity. Without fail, he would always relent, and allow them to pocket pastries and confectionaries.But there would be no reprieve from the heat of the summer. Even from the staircase, she had seen underneath the door that the hearths and candelabras of the great hall had been lit. Which always meant guests, or urgent, important business; curiosity piqued and hunger forgotten, Mel had dared approach as best she could, opening just enough to see what was happening.There had been twelve of them in all in varying states of armor, seated around a map of Kaithe spread out upon a map. Voices low and terse, they talked about things she did not understand at the time. Words like “vanguard”, “supply train” or “battlements” would not have meaning for her for many years to come.(1/??)
Yet she recognized a few of the men. There was Commander Aleric von Roie, nursing a beer as he perused the contents of a parchment report. Even Uncle Arno was present, in spite of his injury. Of course, Emerich had been one of them, a staunch and true Loyalist, manipulating the pieces and the fates of thousands of men. Seated at her father’s side was the Emperor himself, Leonhardt Crowmond, the man she had been promised to when she’d been but a few days old.He had been described to her several times. The servants had called him a paragon of justice, and the soldiers an unyielding commander. Foreign troubadours would sing of him as either tainted seed or as every bit his ancestor Max reborn. Her mother said he was a handsome man, and her father said he was malleable.At that first meeting, she could not even think or draw her own thoughts from the sight before her. He had been silent as the grave, only interrupting with single-word responses. “Yes” to sending an envoy towards the Vlennish kingdoms in spite of her father’s protests, “no” to the offer for mulled wine passed around the table...It had been a silly fear, the dread of having to deal with a mute husband. Still, her mother had been right. He was handsome enough, even as his face spoke of years beyond his appearance. It would only be the years leading up to that fated day that would instill upon her the worst of the dread, and the sheer helplessness of the situation she was in.Similar to her, not much had changed for the emperor in the four years that had passed since that unknown contact. He was clean-shaven for the wedding, and tallow had been used to tame the wild tangle of light brown hair. He stood beside her mother, holding himself with the severity and silence of a marble bust. A handful of grey hairs were tucked behind his ear, almost invisible with the golden crown placed around his temple.Leonhardt’s features were drawn with the same severity of his stance. His eyes are critical and too aware as he watches her descend down the aisle, with nothing sexual in the way his eyes drag down over her body. A small flash of relief warmed her heart that he was not so eager for the contents between her legs. But it was just as quickly replaced by the sobering truth that he had little to care about his empress-to-be.The brooch holding her cloak together was fashioned with a gold-black eagle, the sigil of House Tarmund. She caught the way his eyes lingered there. And when his eyes met hers, she shivered at the dark apprehension he directed towards her, through her, towards the man holding her shoulder. But he kept his silence, continuing to match her gaze until she broke away, disquieted and unnerved.“Do not look away.” Her father was quick, whispering just loud enough for only her to hear. “The future of Aderaveth rests upon this union. There are millions of lives who’s fates will be decided by the events of today, and how well he receives you.”(2/??)
Melianna is afraid of the Emperor. But she is even more terrified of her father.A menagerie of heraldry and color stood at attention as she walked down the aisle. In the clearing where they were to be wed, only a handful of people stood to witness. All of the Tarmunds were there: father and mother, sister and brother, uncles and aunts in all. Beside them were the dukes sworn to her father, and then the most important or proven vassals to the Reach: von Roie’s and Mallarics, Ragves, Grotlings and Hoernigs. They numbered a dozen, a horde compared to the two the Emperor had on his side; his brother Leutfried gave her a sympathetic look and the squire Eckbert bowed politely in acknowledgement.The priest was a withered old thing, half-blinded by cataracts and neigh crippled in his left leg. Twisting and pivoting upon a gnarled staff of ash and an acolyte on his shoulder, he pointed in their direction, croaking hoarsely, “Who stands before the gods? Who has been presented to Wuotan and Frigga to be joined as one?”With Leon’s mother dead, it fell to hers to announce him. The cloak wrapped around Svallane’s shoulders whispered as she stepped forward to declare: “Leonhardt, son of Albrecht, scion of the House of Crowmond and descendant of Max the Great.”Then came her father’s turn. With a firm grip on her shoulder, they walked towards the altar. In a low voice, he intoned: “Melianna, daughter of Svallane, scion of the House of Tarmund and descendant of Ragnach Gerforen.”Their ceremony was short. The emperor forbade any unnecessary frivolity and wastes of time when there was still a war to be won. Mel readily agreed. The less she spent underneath the gaze of the priest and the thousands of loyalists, the better.The ring placed on her finger was a simple band of silver, bereft of any engravings or decoration. She would soon outgrow it. In time, she might find herself a permanent ring more suited for the empress of Aderaveth, one with blood diamonds or jade pearls imported from caravans across the Neck of the World. Her husband forgoes the ritual of branding, but does not refuse the golden ring she slides onto his finger. The metal clattered around the tip of his fingernail before she could place the final piece that bound their fates forever, in sickness and in health, until death take them both.He almost has to kneel down to complete the ritual. His lips press quickly against hers, his mouth dry and lips cracked from the cold, but she quickly reciprocates. It is a fleeting thing, no more than a casual brush, but it satisfies the priest, and the gods by extension. He nods, striking his cane upon the sacred tree. The noise echoes through the field, an impossibility from the quiet impact, and flocks of birds scatter from the forest as the loyalists roar their approval.(3/??)
The emperor took her by the elbow and together, they led the procession away from the clearing, away from the tree and the sight of the gods. And it was only when they are seated that she realizes that the only words the two of them have exchanged are their vows.Beyond the great hall, the reception is joyous and festive. The rightful emperor has finally taken his bride. The lesser counts and barons would be celebrating with their vassals and subjects, drinking and feasting with the simple abandon of ignorance. But the closer one approached the high table, where the decisions were mad, the more stolid, awkward things became.Mel drank two glasses of wine set out before her, picking at her food while her husband only nursed one and ate similarly sparingly. He offered a polite nod to his subjects, a hushed whisper to his brother, and he almost had the grace to look embarrassed when a drunken Alistair von Roie pulled him in for an embrace. Merovech, the (rightful) Lord Commander of the Crownguard, offered his congratulations and blessing, but his years of service were unable to mask his doubt for merriment.Kit took her hand, squeezing tightly, and El promised her the emperor’s head if she suffered as much as a single bruise. The noise that came out of her throat turned several heads, alarmed at the sudden choking noise, fearful that the empress (empress!) was only minutes into her reign prior to an assassin’s end. But her husband made no note of her little brother’s threat, merely watching as Emerich had his men “escort” his heir to his quarters.When the last of the food was cleared away, and the hearth little more than bright orange coals, then came the time she’d been dreading her entire life. Mel’s heard the stories. Worst of all was the wild tale of maidservants verifying the bloody stains of a noblewoman’s virginity upon the bed sheets. But her mother promised nothing of the sort would happen, at least until the next day. At the point of a spear, the Tarmunds would enforce the emperor’s wish for privacy for the next twelve hours...Emerich caught her before they were to depart from the great hall. He placed a hand upon her shoulders, squeezing gently before traveling up to pat her head. “Well done. There is but one trial left tonight. See it through, child. The throne has never been closer for our family...”She did not know how to respond to her father’s words. All she did was nod like a simpleton, and watch helplessly as he presented her to the emperor. Leonhardt. Her...husband.The emperor scooped her into his arms, carrying her as if she weighed no more than a book. His face contorted at the whistles and hoots the guests directed at them, almost murderously in contrast to her embarrassed red. But he made no note of it, marching determinedly towards the exit, past the portal where an oaken gate made the noise little more than a faint and distant roar.(cont.)
The torchlight within the braziers grew bright and the shadows both within and without the walls lengthened as he carried her from the great hall. It was nearly the end of summer, and the sun was already halfway beneath the horizon by the time they neared their destination. The pearls in her hair and dress shook with both his steps and her own trembling, and the sound of her heart was a thunderstorm within her ears.Perhaps mother suggested Mel’s room to ease her into the coupling, to be in a familiar place on her wedding night. But the poetic irony was almost enough to make her sick. The last sanctuary of her brief and fleeting childhood would be forever marred by the events of this evening. But she could not bring herself to cry, for want of her own desires. It would accomplish nothing, and only ruin everything their family worked for.Her husband made no note of the stuffed animals on her vanity, nor of the empty birdcages resting in the corner. Setting her down, mercifully not upon the bed, he stared at her as if she was one of her own songbirds. It’s enough to make her wonder how she’s supposed to behave herself. All of the lessons her mother and aunts gave her were out of grasp, and she merely stood there like a simpleton.“...I don’t know where to begin,” she confessed, breaking the silence, and she was shocked to find how small she sounded. Was she supposed to play coy or shy, cover her breasts with her hands? But there was no need to play. She was genuinely timid, afraid and terribly ashamed of every small flaw.The noise he made in the back of his throat was not unkind. “I think we both are in the same predicament, milady. Nevertheless, our...duty awaits us.”Duty. That is what he called the end of her innocence, the...final agreement for her father’s support to reclaim the throne.“Do you require...” he paused, waving to encompass the entirety of her gown, “...assistance?”She did not. Half a dozen maidservants were required to get her into the dress, but it would take only one to undo everything, all of the lace and ribbons, frills and knots. Perhaps there would be two at the most, given the occasion for the dress, but no more than a pair for a proper, modern Vethic wedding in the reformed faith.They each attended to their own clothing, and she managed just a few shy, occasional peeks. Only when their attire, fine silken robes and jewelry worth a kingdom's ransom, were little more than disheveled heaps on the ground did they finally come together upon the bed. And this time, it was instinct that drove Mel to cover her breasts and the space between her legs, desperate to buy for any time to delay the deflowering.“...you’re hurt,” she blurted out, and she almost regretted it. At the befuddled look on his face, she elaborated, blabbering unintentionally, “...your back! I saw those scars-”(5/??)
His face darkened, and for a heartbeat, all of her courage fled her body. Damn her father, damn the empire, damn whoever was the regent upon the Bladebound Throne. His presence above her was too much, too tall and too overbearing. The hand overlapping hers was twice the size of her own, and easily capable of breaking bones or flesh like twigs.“Those are old injuries. Your concern is...noted. But they won’t interfere.” The tone of his voice brokered no argument, but his hands are cautious as they travel up her leg, hesitantly prying apart her thighs. He had to see that she’s blushing, that she’s breathing hard. She could not discern if it was some unbidden desire or fraying nerves.He was slow with her, too unsure at his own actions. The way he moved over her, his hands too rough and too gentle all at once, spoke of a lack of experience. For a moment, she wondered if he really was his father’s son. She’d heard about the commoners that accompanies armies, merchants and whores hoping to ply their trade, and in the years since the war began or even before the insurrection, he had not touched a woman?But more than anything in the world, even before escape, she desperately wished that he had some modicum of experience. It burned as he pushed into her; she was not nearly wet enough. He pushed that much harder, his teeth clenched and a grunt trapped behind them, to fill her. Mel’s eyes watered as she felt him break her maidenhead. The pain was sharp, surprising in how it lanced through her core, and she could not stop a pitiful cry from escaping her lips.The emperor was braced on his arms over her, and the only place where they are touching was the result of their joining. He looked at her, teeth clenched tight and breath labored as they struggled with the new and unfamiliar sensations. It caused her heart to race. If there was only one thing she could take away from this night, it was pride. Pride in the fact that she broke the stoic emperor’s composure.The first two thrusts were not so bad, just strange and stretching, cautious in their approach. But then he moved a bit faster and a sharp, piercing pain shoots through her lower body. She closed her mouth, gritting her teeth, thinking that he'd finish soon enough. It felt like he was striking something deep inside her. Her hands began to twist the sheets into knots, and she hardened her heart and resolve. I am a daughter of Emerich Tarmund, and the blood of Ragnach Gerforen flows-But then another, the worst one yet that struck something too deep and too hard, shattered her composure and tore a scream from her throat that had nothing to do with the supposed joy of becoming a woman.And then, all of a sudden, Leonhardt stopped.(6/??)
To her complete astonishment, he began to pull free of her. Slowly and carefully, but even the slightest twitch sent waves of pain across her body. It was hard not to look at the space between her legs, where they were still connected, and the complete and utter mess of the sheets beneath them.His first words come as a slow stream of mutterings, but from his tone and the way he spits the words, they are curses or profanities. But his next words were perfectly clear: “This is not...this is not working. You’re...you’re clamping down so hard that you’re hurting us both. Why did you not say anything?”What was there for Mel to say that would not displease him? In spite of her age, she was but an archduke’s daughter, recently an empress-consort, and he was the rightful Emperor of Aderaveth. The difference in power was almost too much to comprehend.He shook his head. “Enough. No more. It’s...” his voice trailed off as he noticed the blood trailing out from her core, down the length of his member to stain the sheets crimson. “...it’s already been done. Proof enough for your everyone and your father-”There was something within her that simply broke at his words, releasing a torrent of emotions within her in a violent deluge. Her arm lunged towards his wrist almost on its own. The surprise on his face was laughable, but she pressed on, hissing angrily: “...don’t you dare stop...this must be seen through, or it would have all been for nothing...”Her words struck him like a physical blow, and the stoic mask he crafted shifted for the smallest of moments. There was pity there, of that there was no question, pity and contempt at the girl who seemed to be little more than her father’s pawn. But for the sliver of an instant, she could have sworn that she saw something akin to admiration in his eyes.“...as you wish.”He did not want to hurt her, and she took comfort in that. But neither did he try too much to make pleasurable for either of them. Perhaps he thought it best for the both of them to make it quick. With their combined inexperience, all it would take were a few clumsy thrusts to achieve release.By the time he finished, spilling within her with a grunt and rattling breath, the pain had nearly abated. Or perhaps she’d become accustomed to the dull ache that acted akin to a heartbeat. Gods knew she was going to have difficulty moving in the morning...if she could move at all.Afterwards, just before he turned his back towards her to settle in the bed, he reached out a hesitant hand, gently tracing a finger through a lock of blonde hair. “...I’m sorry,” he said, sincerely.A heart breaking should make noise. It should sound as if the world has come completely crashing to a standstill. Worst of all was that she could not tell who broke it - her father, the emperor, or her own damn self.On the day of her wedding, Mel was only a handful of weeks from celebrating her fourteenth birthday.======
>>Winter 79 ACR>>Village of Westholm“But make no mistake, Marcus. Entering your ‘Specter’s Dream’ is to offer yourself upon a platter for…whatever the hell it is…actually, you know what? Because of the name of the technique that your apparent dog of a father taught you, let us call that thing the ‘Specter’. It’s simple, to the point, and more specific and certainly less ambiguous than the moniker of ‘Shadow.’”The dawn breaks from across the eastern treeline. It is a red sun, eerily similar to an apple in its initial coloration. The sight is enough to give even you a chill down your spine. What you saw Krabat do to sergeant Remi will be something you will never forget.But for the druid’s savagery, well-directed as it may be, his magic is certainly no joke. The boat he hexed actually travels up the river, and within an hour, it laps along the bank opposite of the docks. The alderman is still unconscious, gagged and bound with heavy rope and rawhide. You suspect that nothing short of the most odious of smelling salts will rouse him from his trance.In the time since you and Krabat chased after the thugs, the villagers seemed to have gotten the fires under control. The brewery is a complete loss, in addition to some of the nearby huts and thatched roofs. No one was killed, and the worst injury was a burn some of the villagers got while putting out the blaze. Injuries that could be cured with cool water and honey.“Well done, Painel,” Ser Hagerson commented as you turned Giso to his custody. The Eagle Knights and the town levy are not too kind as they clap him in irons and drag him away to the camp. “It’s always the ones closest to you that are the most slippery...but he’ll get his just deserts soon enough.”Back at the alderman’s house, the Crowmonds have gone to bed, with the addition of a fatigued Silverow. The sorcerer had done yeoman’s work ensuring that any winds of winter did not fan or spread the flames. Mercifully, Bellatrix had also turned in for the evening, leaving only a watchful Urath as you returned to the domicile.The Ingulan tilts his head, asking, “...good hunting?”You nod, settling back against a wall. “Yeah...got the bastard.”“How?”>>Choose one:>Tell the Crowmonds about Krabat.>Tell the Crownguard about Krabat.>Tell both of them about Krabat.>Tell neither of them about Krabat.But at any rate, the druid is the least bit of concerning news. Advance riders from von Roie’s host estimate that the Landgraff of Mont Gormaic will be in Westholm by noon. And they expect to leave Westholm within the next few hours as soon as they dispensed the Emperor’s Justice. Four hours is plenty of time for you do your own thing...>>Choose one:>Meet with Krabat by the village boundary.>Spend some time bonding with the Crowmonds.>Return to Carris for the cloak you lent her.
As this snip has two prompts, please structure your responses like this:>>Tell the Crowmonds.>>Visit Carris.
>>3530205>Tell the Crownguard about Krabat.>Return to Carris for the cloak you lent her.
>>3530205>Return to Carris for the cloak you lent her.
>>3530205>>Tell the Crownguard about Krabat.>Return to Carris for the cloak you lent her.
>>3530205>Tell the Crownguard about Krabat.If only to confirm that there exist third parties in this conflict>Return to Carris for the cloak you lent her.Can't wait for Markus to get back and get down and dirty with books
>>3530205>Tell the Crownguard about Krabat.>Spend some time bonding with the Crowmonds.
Okay, looks like we're gonna debrief about Krabat with the Crownguard and visit Carris. I'll update the thread when I get back from work (circa 6/7 PM EST), but in the mean time, thank you for playing and sticking with the quest in spite of my foibles.Any questions you want to ask, I'l try to answer them on mobile throughout the day.
>>3530487Did Mel gain the Indomitable perk?
>>3530487>foiblesMore like fagballs. Good to see you Kaz.
>>3530219>>3530252>>3530261>>3530291>>3530391>>3530393>>3530467>You tell Urath about your encounter with Krabat.>You give a full account of the fight on the barge, barring the discussion you had afterwards.The archer frowns. “Droo-id?”“Aye. A druid. Uh...” You pause, considering something before you continue, “Priests and holy men and women prior to the Eridian expansion. They, uh...do you guys have something like that?”“No. Closest thing Ingulans have is Skysinger. Priestesses of the Elder Gods. And not nearly so easy to kill by plumed idiots.” His frown grows even more severe. “But this...druid, wields power of nature and earth, yes?”“You should see the tricks he can do with an apple.”“Tread carefully,” he warns, his tone unusually serious from his default stoicism, “And watch back. Anyone who claims to listen to earth is either half-mad, dangerous or both. Nice enough to work together, but...do not leave your back open. Care more for twigs and leaves than fellow man. Very dangerous.”You know that already, but there’s something about the Ingulan’s voice that suggests a deeper trouble than he lets on. As far as you can tell, he bears no outwards animosity beyond exercising extreme caution, and this is the first time he’s ever heard of a druid. Perhaps...it has something to do with the skeleton in his closet.“I’ll keep that in mind,” you answer honestly, and he gives you a pleased nod of acknowledgement. “In the event that I won’t be back by the time the others wake up...could you let them know?”“Of course. Sharing knowledge about potential enemy...need not even ask.”>You learned that Urath has an animosity towards those who prioritize the world over individual man.>>LaterThe events of last night seemed to have lit a flame underneath the seats of the smallfolk. With the fuss and hubbub about the brewery, the citizens of Westhlom are out and about in force. They range across the village center in packs of five, six and seven, all bustling to help the repair effort under the watchful gazes of the Eagle Knights. Some carry wet blankets and sheets to douse the smoldering ruins closest to the brewery, while others carry saws and hammers, hauling fresh timbers and cutting away singed and burnt frames. Even small children have been commissioned, picking through the wreckage for anything salvageable. There is not a single person you can discern who is not doing anything.The Riverside Inn had been spared the brunt of the flames. Situated far from the conflagration of the brewery, the only damage seems to be slight singing of the thatch upon the roof. The worst Hennick would have to do would be to replace the section, and fumigate the exterior to be rid of the scent of smoke.(cont.)
Not that the pungent odor seems to be stopping anybody. The rotund barkeep and his wife stood by the steps of the entrance, making a brisk business from the workers at a generous discount. Mounted atop a wagon, barrels of ale and mead, beer and wine were poured out by the cup and served to both those who had the coin to spare. Underneath their watchful eyes, they make sure that no man had drank more than his fill before sending them back to work.At your approach, the elderly woman spots you first, tugging at her husband’s shirt. Hennick’s eyes widen in recognition as he flags you down. But before you can even speak, he grins, saying, “Looking for Carris, ain’t you? The lass is upstairs in the master’s room, young Crownguard. Poor thing had a rough night of it last evening, but she’s well on the mend.”You blink. “...how do you not know that I was about to thank you for your swift delivery of my message to the landgraff?”“Because you’d have money if you did, dearie,” his wife cackles, fishing something from her neck to hand to you. “But not a single thing missing, understand? I’ll have your hide if you go digging through my drawers.”>You received the Riverside Inn Key.“I don’t understand-”“Just go to her!” they both chorus, gesturing towards the entrance. “And don’t worry about making any noise this time. The inn’s closed. But given all the squawking and running everyone’s doing out here, you’ll just blend in with the rest of the cacophony.”You stomp past the laughing couple, nearly slamming the door to the inn open in your irritation. For a single moment, you contemplate taking everything that is not hammered into the floor out of petty spite. But as quickly as it comes, it passes, leaving you with a mess of emotions that only grows more muddled with every step you take up the stairs.The master’s bedroom is almost impossible to miss. It is the only room in the structure with silver doorknobs as opposed to brass or tin. A handful of steps takes you there, and you knock hesitantly on the door.“Carris?” you inquire.A rustling of bed sheets answers your response, followed by a light pattering of feet. The door opens only for a crack, revealing a singular golden eye. It widens at the sight of you, before the entrance opens completely. A fist grabs the front of your shirt, pulling you through the portal and into the tight, warm embrace of the sole occupant of the room.(cont.)
A fresh change of clothes does nothing to hide the green and purple bruises on her eye and face, but her injuries do not detract from her beauty. She is breathless, almost to the point of tears as she buries her head into your shoulder, whispering: “I knew you’d come back. There wasn’t any way you’d just leave...in spite of the princess, you did keep your promise after all...”>>Carris will remember that.>“I’ll not be proven a liar by breaking a promise.” (Genuine)>“Princess Adrianna would not like me to linger.” (Duty)>“Thank you for keeping my cloak safe...and warm.” (Flirt)>“You don’t have to worry about Gizo anymore.” (Serious)>Custom option.
>>3532109I do my damnedest to keep any promise I make. Giso is not going to hurt you.. or anyone else again. I know you're not doing great but are you doing better?
>>3532109>“I’ll not be proven a liar by breaking a promise.” (Genuine)Cool so can we have a quickie too?
>>3532109>“I’ll not be proven a liar by breaking a promise.” (Genuine)>“You don’t have to worry about Gizo anymore.” (Serious)
>>3532109>“You don’t have to worry about Gizo anymore.” (Serious)>"But I do not wish to linger." (Direct)
>>3532109>“I’ll not be proven a liar by breaking a promise.” (Genuine)>“You don’t have to worry about Gizo anymore.” (Serious)>Custom option.Check her injuries.
>>3532112>>3532113>>3532120>>3532123>>3532124Slowly, and ever so tentatively, you return her embrace. The smell of lilies in her hair cloys with your senses, and the warmth of her body against your own draws such an ache. Your voice is rough, but you manage to answer evenly, “I’ll not be proven a liar by breaking a promise...”“No...I don’t suppose you will be...” She wipes the corner of her eyes, trembling against your chest. “...if you’re back, then it means...”“Aye. Gizo and his ilk will never hurt you...or anyone else again.”“Good...” Carris tries to laugh, but it comes out as something nearly hysterical. “It was easy enough to fake for him...but his men were always the worst...the landgraff tried to keep it quiet, but what you brought to him...” A helpless look enters her eyes. “...they were going to sell me, just like those others, weren’t they?”“They were,” you confirm, patting her back, “But I killed them all. And your alderman awaits your landgraff’s arrival...and the executioner’s block for his high treason.”She sniffed derisively, and actually spat on the floor without a care for decorum. “Good. I’ll miss his payments...but if it means that no more people will be disappearing, whether by the Drowned Lady or by ‘freak accident’, then all the better, Tyrant take him.”“Indeed.” Pausing, you frown at the injuries on her face. Gently extracting yourself from her arms, you gently take her chin, examining her for any other bruises. “I understand that you’re...you’re not at your best right now, but are you doing any better? Any other injuries I cannot see?”With her free hand, she merely gestures towards her upper arm, the place where her neck meets her collarbone and the side of her head. “A few, yes. Nothing serious, I assure you! Just a few scrapes and bruises from...when they handled me last night. I drew more blood than they did.”Judging from the comments they made before you descended upon them, it seemed that she bit as much as she could chew. Or came close to, anyway. “You handled yourself quite well.”“Until you came along...” She winces as you move her jaw a particular way. “...everything will heal given enough time. But until then...I’ll just have to use my hands and cunny until my mouth stops aching.”You snort in spite of yourself. “Of course.”The coin you gave her on your first night together was easily six months’ wages for a common tenant farmer. Definitely far more than she’d probably ever get in a month. Living expenses were an obvious investment, as well as myriad perfumes, makeup and dresses to highlight her natural endowments for her customers. The old adage of ‘spending money to make money’ applied to the oldest profession as well.(cont.)
But what on earth is she saving all that money for?Perhaps it was the casual mention of her trade, but something in the air shifted between you two. The comfort and relief is still there, but in the gaze Carris holds with you is a deep, unfulfilled aching that went beyond physical need.“Although...” A smile tugs at the corner of her lips as she hooks a finger at the front of her blouse, Tugging down the cloth, the remnants of your own ministrations are just barely visible, intermixed with the smalls scrapes and splotches of green and purple. “I appreciate your concern about my injuries...so, if you’d like to...perhaps you could stay awhile and...make sure I’m in working order?”"I'm no healer or magister," you retort, even as she leans against you once more."You don't need to be either make me feel better..." she whispers softly against your ear.>>Please select one option:>Politely decline and bid her farewell.>Spend the rest of the morning with Carris.
>>3532213>Spend the rest of the morning with Carris.I'm sure Adrianna won't understand.
>>3532213>Politely decline and bid her farewell.Something something we made a promise to the princess something something.
>>3532213>>Politely decline and bid her farewell.>Wish her luck.
>>3532213>Spend the rest of the morning with Carris.
>>3532213>Politely decline and bid her farewell.Actually dont care
>>3532213>Politely decline and bid her farewell.
>>3532213>Spend the rest of the morning with Carris
>>3532213>gib her peck on cheek>Politely decline and bid her farewell.We don't want her to feel bad for not being to pay us back, but we don't want her to think her only worth is having sex with us either. This is nicer I think.
>>3532213>Politely decline and bid her farewell.We need to get back to Elena lads
>>3532214>>3532227>>3532233>>3532236>>3532268>>3532276>>3532317>>3532350>>3532378>>3532423Just before she can reach the corner of your mouth, you push her away, but not unkindly.“Marcus?” Her voice is small and afraid. “...what’s the matter?”You lean forward, and she reciprocates eagerly. The way her eyes close, and her lips tremble as the two of you draw near is almost too painful to look at. But for both of your sakes, you you’ll see this through, and hopefully emerge all the better from it.At least, that’s what you manage to convince yourself.Carris actually starts when her lips brush your cheek, and you give her a chaste, small peck upon her own. Confusion breaks out across her features, but she must have seen the look upon your face. It turns quickly to a dawning realization, then a mute and silent horror. Finally, it settles upon a silent despair, all within the span of a handful of heartbeats....gods above, he never had to deal with any of this. And doing what you did with Claudia back in Alnerwich is an impossibility. Similar with the alchemist, you and Carris shared perilous adventure and an intense emotional harrowing. At least, that’s the similarities on a surface level. But the complication of sex makes things even messier to deal with...This is genuinely a first for you. But emotionally stunted as you are, and cripplingly reliant on his experiences, you’ve seen enough to hopefully make a clean break.“As soon as the Landgraff von Roie concludes his business,” you tell her, “The caravan is expected to be off. I’ve been told on good faith that beyond executing Gizo, there’s nothing else before we’re all to resume our journey towards Mont Gormaic.”“But...” she whimpered, “I...he will not reach here until the afternoon...that’s plenty of time for us to...”“And I think that it’s best for both of our sakes to...end it. I’m flattered, I really am,” you say truthfully, “But anymore would only make things...worse.”There. You said it. Now it’s out in the open, and there’s no turning back.Her face, half-obscured by the bangs falling down past her brow, is completely unreadable. For a moment, she raises her hand as if to slap you, and you make no movement to stop her. But it drifts back towards her side, and she releases a trembling, shaking breath. “I see...” she sniffs, before her brow creases in an uncharacteristic glare. “...so who’s talking? You or that chit of a princess?”Of all the words to choose, that was the one to refer to Adrianna? “Carris, that isn’t what I mean-”“...so my only worth is just what’s between my legs and dangling from my chest, is that it?” she says bitterly. “But at least you’re better than the normal customers I take. A-at least you can tell me right to my face, unlike the others who need messengers and errand boys-”“For gods’ sakes, that’s neither-”(cont.)
>>3532428Well that was unexpected.
Better choice might've been to spend the night and take your time in saying farewell.
>>3532533Hindsight is 20/20 I guess
>>3532533Technically her only worth to us is in her being a citizen of the land, what's between her legs AND the information she had.
I wish I took the time to attempt a write-in option last night. I voted to stay only because I wanted to avoid a whole break-up thing right now. Would’ve preferred to have kissed her and told her that we can’t right now because of all the things to do and the Princess’s current attitude towards it.
>>3532428Caris, if you think that then why did we bust our ass to save you? You’re a good woman, pretty, worldly, and smarter than anyone would expect if they take you at face value. You should know that’s not all your worth. But I’m a crownguard, and I need to be with my charges, and plan with my fellows. Trying to be with me will only lead to your heartbreak and you deserve better.
Her greatest worth would probably be in intrigue. Someone that is used to reading the desires of men and women and who won’t hesitate to consider the more scandalous angles would be an asset to the Crowmond party here. It wouldn’t be crazy to consider bringing her along in a more official capacity. Even Adriana should be able to see the potential value and would probably prefer the control that an official invitation brings with it.
>>3532428Carris is too emotional to realize how stupid that worth comment is considering everything Marcus did not an hour ago. She's probably going to storm off and get hit by the guilt in hindsight after we leave. Shame, but oh well. Someone's gotta be the adult.
>>3532428>>3532773“Is it then my fault because I tried to ask about your wellbeing?” she demands. “To make sure that my customer wasn’t dead from his injuries, only to run into the imperial princess herself because of sheer, rotten luck? You weren’t shy to tell her that you’d fucked me!”“Only because she demanded the truth. But neither were you,” You retort tersely, “To the point of nearly being horsewhipped from flaunting. But believe me when I say that her opinion of me is the last thing on my mind-”“Then why?! Because you were so tender, so sweet...” The anger drains out of her, fading as quickly as mist at the breaking of dawn. All that’s left is a distraught, confused woman on the brink of tears. “...that was the first time anyone ever made me feel that way...”The colder part of your mind, the Wraith, remarks that Carris is ill-fit to be a whore if she gets this...attached to men skilled in lovemaking. You paid for her services, which she rendered, and that should have been the end of it. Perhaps she may be exaggerating when she says you’re the best she’s had, but you will certainly not be the only or the last man to give her that kind pleasure.Yet there’s one thing that so far separates you from her prior clientele and any future customers. You saved her life when you did not need to, especially since it made catching Gizo all the more difficult. Krabat may have facilitated that capture, but you could not have predicted his aid when you made that decision.“...did you think this would go on?” You ask firmly, but not harshly. “Or...are you offended that I won’t sleep with you without paying first?” At her silence, you exhale heavily. “Carris...if that is what you think, I want you to know something.”“And what would that be?” she snaps.“I did not save your life because of what I paid you for. I saved you...” Because you did not want to be haunted by the guilt of yet another failure... Clearing your throat and mind of maudlin thoughts, you continue, “...because you are, in spite of the circumstances that brought us together...”She almost looks surprised as she completes your sentence. “Friends? Is that what we really are?”“...certainly not the word I would have chosen, but in any event,” you say, “I would never have forgiven myself if I’d let any harm come to you.”“Because I’m a good fuck?” Carris says, in equal measures of bitterness and trepidation. “Or a pretty face?”Krabat's words come unbidden to your mind: "...this weapon was created so that you might overcome any foe that stands against you and survive to live another day...with or without her..."“...because you’ve actually done more for me than you could possibly imagine...”(cont.)
She studies your face, looking for any hint of falsehood or patronization. But you have none to offer. Loathe as you are to admit it, the night the two of you shared helped to relieve some of the burden. Not all of it, and certainly nowhere near enough to forget...but it was a first step of what you suspect to be many more.Perhaps Krabat was on to something, but you’re not about to even contemplate the druid’s words.Carris hiccups. “...you are not like any Crownguard I’ve ever heard about before...”First Claudia, then Klara...now Carris? Coughing, you answer: “Not the first time someone’s said that...”“Were they all women too?” Her eyes twinkle with a mischief more becoming of her. But before you can retort, she shakes her head sadly. “...perhaps I’m the fool for thinking something beyond this...hah, my mother would scold me for forgetting the first rule of being a whore.”You’re not quite sure what to say in response to that implication.She murmurs something underneath her breath. When she speaks again, it’s in a fragile, but firmer voice. “...although to answer your earlier question...I am a bit upset that you won’t sleep with me again. Actually, very upset because of that overbearing princess...”“You’re a good woman,” you interject, “Better than the princess or your village might make you think.”“Shameless flatterer...” But her words lack the earlier rancor. Instead, there’s only a forlorn melancholy, a resolute despair she cannot help but express. “As good a woman as a whore might be, but I’m still the naive and hopeless fool at the end of this.”“Carris, I-”She shakes her head, gently pushing you away. “Okay...this is...fine. Go back to your princess, Marcus. Go back to your duty. I’ll...I’ll be fine. You’ve given me more than what I’d ask for a single night and a bath. Go back before I become any more upset...”Very well. If that’s what she wants. But before you leave, already halfway towards the door, her voice warbles: “...will I ever see you again?”>>Please choose only one of the following:>“Good fortune and gods be with you, Carris Narten.” [Goodbye forever]>“Meet me in the capital when this debacle is all over.” [A second chance]>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]
>>3533356>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]
>>3533363DESU, the vote is more of an indication for me as to whether or not you guys want her appear more in the story down the line.
>>3533370I know. I am down to leave it to your discretion for 'Surprise Carris' or not.
>>3533363She's cool. But, y'know. I like to wait and see more.>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]
>>3533356>“Good fortune and gods be with you, Carris Narten.” [Goodbye forever]I don't hate her, but she's not really all that interesting either.
>>3533356>“Meet me in the capital when this debacle is all over.” [A second chance]I’m only picking this because it’s the best option given. It’s not even close to being ideal because of the sheer length of time it will take for her to reappear. Still think she should just go apologize and ask for a job. Not to be too crude, but there should be plenty of openings after all the shit that’s happened. I also have just enough optimism regarding Ariana to think she would be forgiving and appreciate being “right” enough to consider it.
>>3533356>“Meet me in the capital when this debacle is all over.” [A second chance]
>>3533356>“Meet me in the capital when this debacle is all over.” [A second chance]I wouldn't mind seeing that character again. Just like this Anons >>3533591 said I would prefer if she went with us we didnt really have much time to get to know that character better. But story went its way and its rather ship that already sailed.
>>3533356>>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]
>>3533356>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]Roll the dice!
>>3533356changing>>3533482to>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]
>>3533356>"Who can say for sure? But if the fates are willing..." [Uncertain future]I really don't want to see her again.
It’s kinda lame that a few people are voting for the “maybe” option just because their preferred “no” option wouldn’t win. I guess I understand it, but damn...
>>3533306>>“Meet me in the capital when this debacle is all over.” [A second chance]
So the waifu list so far (in no particular order):>Claudia Pros: shares interest in alchemy, would be useful to the Crowmonds as wellCons: has a ton of responsibilities right now (crippled dad and alchemy politics)>KlaraPros: particularly clever and well versed in intrigue, friends with Crowmonds, there seemed to be a strong connection Cons: high social class makes it difficult or impossible to maintain an open relationship, her brother probably dislikes us>Dragon priestessPros: all of that magicCons: nearly universally reviled, crazy>CarrisPros: obvious connection already, could blend in and follow us, doesn’t have any obligations that may hamper her following us, more likely to be able to understand Marcus’s issues due to her own rough life, lack of baggage may result in some semblance of normalcy in their little bubble, her rougher background unironically fits the general edginess of MarcusCons: bad first impression with Adrianna, low social class may result in stigma>AdriannaPros: close contact regardless, would make Best Princess happy, seems to have a secret crush on us alreadyCons: the epitome of reaching, Bellatrix may kill us, her mother/brothers may kill us, creepy prophecy sort of implies she could die, generally polarizing character>BellatrixPros: convenience of working togetherCons: working together, Adrianna’s subordinate, crazy, lack of that wholesome family potential >Druid apprentice Pros: Druid magic, a lack of worldly baggage other than general secrecy Cons: Druids are a little... off, haven’t met her yet
>>3534175>generally polarizing characterI feel like that one is more meant for Bellatrix considering that playerbase's attitude towards her.
>>3534191Honestly, I feel like I could put that on a few of them. That and the “crazy” label. Maybe I should’ve dropped both. I also didn’t attempt to account for looks or personality too much. I suppose it’s more of a list on how they realistically fit in the story with Marcus and the general odds of them becoming the official waifu. Full disclosure: my favorite is probably Klara. That said, I don’t know enough about the lore behind social conventions to know if it is even possible for them to have a relationship. I do think Carris may be second place for me just because of their obvious chemistry and the sheer practicality here. There really isn’t a reason why she can’t make an attempt to reconcile and seek legitimate employment in the royal entourage.
>>3534215Well, the social hierarchy of Aderaveth goes something like this:>Emperor>Imperial Royal Family>Archdukes>Dukes/Landgraffs>Counts>Barons/City Mayors/Sorcerers>Aldermen>CommonersEven though a typical landgrave is only in charge of a singular county, his/her immediate fealty towards the Emperor (not to a duke, archduke or prince) gives them a degree of independence and status not afforded by most of the nobility. Case in point, for services rendered to Emperor Leonhardt during the Bastards' War, the Pullmans, von Roies and Mazurs among other hedge knights or cadet children of lower rank were given lands and titles at the end of the war. Predominantly landgraffs because he had no wish to have their loyalty divided among dukes from the other realms.In theory, should something happen to her brother and her father refuse to remarry, Klara could very well become the Landgrafin of Anerwich, and she would have as much power as a duchess. She would hold considerable sway as a direct vassal of the Crowmonds and close ally of the Alchemists' Guild, with no small amount of influence upon internal and external Imperial politics.As far as creating a scandal, prior Crownguard have contented themselves with taking commoner mistresses. The worst anything's ever done (at least in the public eye) is seduce a duchess, which was considerable back in its day to the point of the Emperor nearly impaling the man in question. But perhaps a landgrafin would be different...at least, if you keep it secret in the intrigue of the Imperial court.Writing...
>>3533363>>3533376>>3533677>>3533695>>3533772>>3534002The ghost of a smile plays on her lips for the barest of moments. “...then let’s hope that they’ll play in our favor. But until then...farewell, Marcus. Gods walk with you.”You offer a similar exchange before you make your final departure. Certainly, not your best escape, but definitely better than most. Not the worst you’ve had, and there had been some near misses.But even the groans and protest from the ancient stairs are not enough to mask the broken, quiet weeping before you reach the door, and into the village beyond...>>LaterThe host of Alistair von Roie comes only twenty minutes after midday. Trumpets herald their arrival, and a great host of men emerge from the curve along the river bend. A rough guess places them at two hundred, with grey-blue banners streaming high above them and emblazoned with a mockingbird. Not a single man is without a horse, all mailed or plated knights upon their respective coursers and destriers. There is no way to assemble the entirety of them in the center of the village. Slurry as it is, the village green is the only space with enough room to hold both the landgraffs’ forces comfortably. Thus, their entrance finds you besides the Crowmonds in front of the assembly, only slightly behind Ser Hagerson and the landgraff Pullman. With his arm in a sling, he had to be helped upon his horse, but he insisted that he would not greet his friend on unequal footing.At the head of the column rides a large man, easily one of the tallest you’ve ever seen. His age and privilege is prominent even at a distance; there is a slight girth about his waist, and the slightest sag to his cheeks. But his eyes are strong, and his face clean-cut to reveal a strong jaw and prominent brow. There is no doubt in your mind that the axes at his horse’s side, a cavalry axe and a twin-bladed monstrosity, could still be wielded with relative ease.This could only be Landgraff Alistair von Roie, son of Alaric von Roie and brother of Alger, and one of three minds behind the Varian Massacre. Some say that his family name conjures froth from Emperor Tullius Aquilar, and scrawled in curse tablets by orphans and widows numbering thousands. The blood of legionaries and centurions dyes his hands, but he smiles and japes with his officers and cavalrymen with the ease of a guilt-free conscience. “KIERAN!” the man’s voice booms across the field, loud enough to send flocks of birds squawking angrily from the treeline. He dismounted from his horse in a smooth and singular motion, stomping towards Pullman without a care for the mud splattering his pristine armor. It took two knights to help the Valeman down from his horse, just in time for von Roie to embrace him in a tight hug. “You pious Canter! Taking on a drakling without me? You've either grown braver or more foolish than our last outing!”(cont.)
“Not too hard, you barbarian!” Pullman shouts indignantly, struggling against his friend’s embrace. But there is warmth in his eyes that does not quite reach his mouth. “And you’ve only gotten thicker since the last war!”Von Roie laughs. “Thick and strong, for all the lads and lasses! And I keep forgetting how fragile you Valemen are...ah, but...I see you’ve carved off a tail and some of its scales! It’ll look nice above the mantle.”“I plan to turn it into a suit of armor...and to sell what I can’t use to fund the pensions for the families of the men it killed or crippled.”“Ah...don’t go thinking about sad things like that...” He shakes his head ruefully before a thought pops into his head. “Send the bill to Mel! She’ll grouse and fume about it, but the Imperial treasury can spare a fist full of aurums. Our Empress has the heart for that kind of thing.”For a moment, the landgraff is silent, and von Roie looks uncertain as if he’d said something untoward. But Pullman smiles. “If nothing else, I’ve missed your frankness. It’s good to see you again. How’s Kitianna?”“Well enough, well enough...still dangerously close to killing her ladies-in-waiting from their banal gossip...and Braeden?”The Valeman’s eyes glisten. “She is pregnant.”“No, gods...really?!” Once more, von Roie pulls his friend into another bone-crushing hug. Not that he cares about the force, if Pullman’s pained grunt was any indication. “Congratulations! That’ll be your...fourth, isn’t it?”“Third, actually...” he wheezes, “...we’re hoping for a daughter.”“No, you don’t want that...” The Mockingbird shudders. “Gods, do you see this? Grey in my hair and I’m going bald with only one son and one rowdy tomboy! And not a single one on your fair head with your two sons.“Although...” his attention shifts towards the Crowmonds, who have watched their uncles exchange words and embraces with wide eyes. “Mayhaps some proper ladies in Mont Gormaic may knock some sense into my Katrina’s head. Nieces!”“Uncle Alistar!” To your surprise, it’s Ellana who breaks ranks first, running towards her uncle without a similar care for the mud at her feet. The change in her attitude is almost profound; gone is the venomous, clingy waif who spat at her siblings, as well as the demure and inquisitive princess. In her place is an energetic young girl, squealing in delight as her uncle spin her around in the air.Adrianna and Allanus look similarly pleased and relieved to see their uncle, but not to the extent as their youngest sibling. It almost makes them look...uncomfortable? But perhaps it comes with Ellana’s fostering with the von Roies. She might even be closer to them than her own siblings...a worrying thought, and one you’ll definitely have to look into later.(cont.)
“Four months, and you’ve grown another inch!” Von Roie sets her down, brushing the dirt from her dress and making a mess out of her hair. Fussing over her, he bemoans, “But, little one, who tried to hurt you? Were he not in your father’s dungeons, I would liberate the man only to give him what I gave to Aurelius for daring to attack you.”At any rate, the landgraff seems to be more than comfortable in indulging in casual mention of violence. Not that it bothers your charge in the slightest. She positively preens at the attention.“But I can see that I don’t need too...” His eyes move towards you as you approach them, trailing hurriedly after Ellana. “You’ve gone and found yourself a Crownguard! Kastal is going to be very sad now that the position’s been taken.”“No he won’t!” the princess giggles, “I know that Auntie made him make that promise! He wouldn’t like Karthmire anyway...it’s not as clean as the air up on Mont Gormaic.”“Indeed...” His attention breaks away from his niece, and he gives you a looking-over before staring hard in your direction. You meet his gaze without flinching, even as he tries to dissect you with his eyes. What has he been told? What did Palme tell him? “You must be Painel.”You bow deferentially, but not too low. A shallow inclination of your head, and a slight bend at your waist will more than suffice. The only one who you will bend the knee to is Ellana, and no one else. “My lord.”The Mockingbird continues to stare at you, until he snorts. “Bah! You’re a tough one, aren’t you? First the assassin, then all manner of nasties get sent your way, only within a handful of months of becoming my niece’s Crownguard.”You start at the hand he places on your shoulders. “You’ll do well, you’ll do well indeed...” Squeezing tightly, he then turns to the rest of the Crowmonds. “But don’t think I’ve forgotten you!”They exchange their greetings, hugs and kind words. Adrianna cannot refrain from a smile as she’s enveloped in her uncle’s mass, and Allanus grins for the first time in days at his uncle’s words. To their Crownguard, he offers his hand to Silverow, a tribal gesture to Urath, and a wink to Bellatrix which she returns with a sneer.“Now,” he declares, having made his final greetings with Ser Hagerson, “Kieran, I believe you’ve something of a present for me, all wrapped and bound and waiting for me to peel open.”“You should look into getting yourself a new alderman,” Pullman replies grimly, “His crimes are too heinous for anything but the executioner’s block.”“Indeed? My riders did not spoil me of any particulars...I wanted to be surprised.” He claps the Valeman on his shoulders, gesturing, “Lead on, brother! Take me to the worm who’d dare to betray my trust and terrorize my subjects...”(cont.)
The lords depart, and their respective vassals relax quickly. Sergeants and captains respectively dismount, exchanging their own greetings with their fellow comrades. You suspect that many know each other well by virtue of being loyalists, and are only the best of what both have to offer.With her uncles gone, Adrianna takes charge. Clapping her hands together, the elder princess gathers her siblings, saying, “Come now, we must finish packing. You made sure to take everything from the alderman’s house, of course?”Ser Hagerson does not immediately leave. He offers the Crownguard a quizzical glance, and a gesture towards the direction his liege lord and his friend have gone. A singular tent, a drab thing with faded colors, is their destination. Their makeshift prison for Gizo’s thugs.It is a silent, but unassuming invitation. One that Bellatrix takes with a silent communication to Adrianna, and the other Crownguard. Within seconds, she's set a brisk pace to catch up with them, and Ser Hagerson is close to following. But he lingers, casting one more glance towards the assembled Crowmonds and Crownguard...>>Choose one:>Accompany Bellatrix to von Roie and Pullman's interrogation.>Remain with Ellana and the rest of her family until you depart.
>>3534716>>Remain with Ellana and the rest of her family until you depart.
>>3534716>Remain with Ellana and the rest of her family until you depart.
>>3534716>Remain with Ellana and the rest of her family until you depart.I think we've seen enough of Giso and his ilk. Whatever happens to the Alderman can't be a more fitting fate for him than what happened to his subordinate.
>>3534716>Remain with Ellana and the rest of her family until you depart.knowing the cipher is about the only thing we have to contribute there, and that's not worth bringing up the whole druid thing
>>3534175Klara is best girl
>>3534175leaning on Claudia, but Klara is a close second.
>>3534725>>3534733>>3534740>>3534741>>3534748>>3534751...whatever happens to the alderman is no longer any of your concern. And if it does come to it, Bellatrix is already there. Issues though you may have with her, and certainly in no small amount, you can trust her to keep everyone’s safety in mind. Barring that incident in the woods, of course, but that’s something to bring to Palme’s attention later.Not going to the interrogation has everything to do with Ellana, and nothing to do with being alone with Bellatrix. Or at least as alone as you could be with only the landgraffs nearby.Of course, you don’t say this out loud. Regardless, Ellana seems to be more than happy to be lavished with attention, both from you and her uncle.>Ellana approves.>Adrianna approves.Halfway through packing, the screaming begins. It’s almost impressive in how it manages to even get your hairs on end. Gizo must have quite the pair of lungs on him, or von Roie is living up to his family’s alternative herald as a shrike. You shiver in spite of yourself, and the noise is even enough to make Adrianna’s face curdle like spoiled milk.“I don’t suppose there’s a way for you to drown out his screeching?” You remark blithely to Silverow as you cover Ellana’s ears. The nearby servants and groomsmen are not so lucky, and are forced to find cotton wads or scraps of cloth to stuff into their heads. “We won’t get anything done at this rate.”“I could, but it would be a waste of magic,” Silverow returns. He has to fight with his squirming prince, who tries his best to buck off the hands around his head. “And I’d rather not use it for something as banal as noise-”Suddenly, the screams are cut off, interrupted by a sharp, violent THUMP. In the distance, you can hear horses rearing and whining, no doubt from the sudden blood that’s gone and filled the camp air. Alderman Gizo seems to be no more, and has received the Emperor’s Justice for the crimes he has committed.Silverow’s lips curl upward. “There, see? It did not last too long.”>>LaterWhen they had finished, they brought out the corpse of the man who had so grossly violated his duties.Von Roie had not made the man’s passing easy. Cooking skewers protrude from out of his body, festering within wounds whose flesh still boils. Half of the skin of his left arm is simply gone, leaving nothing beyond fibrous muscle and pale bone exposed to the elements. He’d been tortured, not only to extract any information they could not find in his journal, but for punitive justice. It is a comfort to villagers who’s family members had been disappeared, as well as a example of those who would abuse their station.(cont.)
They did not string him up upon a gibbet, or publicly cremate the corpse. Perhaps the Mockingbird was feeling nostalgic, or perhaps he decided to indulge in his more infamous nickname. Gizo had been impaled, run through buttocks to mouth with a timber as thick as a mailed fist. Blood and shit ekes from the ruins of his anus, and his jaw flaps limply against the tip of the stake. Between this and the torture, the man had died slowly, not any means quickly by Silverow’s estimate.It takes an ox to haul the naked corpse and its mount into the village center, and a team of six to arrange the display. Von Roie has a twisted sense of justice. It is still winter, and the corpse will be well-preserved until Spring Dawning, and the thawing of the continent. Gizo would perform his public service for a long time without having a visible display of rot or decay.Of course, Adrianna would have none of it. Hagerson had been prudent enough to give advance warning before the “procession” of the prisoner. Within seconds of his departure, the princess had grabbed her siblings, even as they protested, and marched them into the carriage and slammed the door behind her.“He squealed like a stuck pig,” Bellatrix crows as the caravan mounts up. Daylight has not begun to fade just yet, but both von Roie and Pullman wished to cover as much distance as they could before sundown. “And the best part was that he thought he could try to get mercy, even as they lined the pike right by the pucker of his arse. Didn’t even have the guts to die like a man...”Silverow clicks his tongue. “I can’t imagine that he does anymore. They wanted to get it over with. But if performed the right way, the stake won’t destroy any internal organs. He would bleed out over the course of a few days, if he didn’t die from exhaustion.”There is not a single one among you that takes an askance look at the sorcerer. Irritated, he defends himself, saying, “I learned a great deal of human anatomy in the Ivory Tower in addition to magic. It isn’t just the Veridian Order that holds all of mankind’s knowledge. Don't be so churlish."Be that as it may, everyone decides to give him a wide berth for the duration of the journey. At least for a few hours, to a day at the most. But you all take your places, mounting up or settling in the carriage as you see fit. And by the time the sun’s begun to dip, you all wave goodbye to the village of Alnerwich, and the caravan of three hundred strong knights begins the journey to the citadel of Mont Gormaic...(cont)
>>The journey to Mont Gormaic will take six days. >>With the drakling dead, the chief predator in the region is no more, and the combined host are enough to deter any opportunistic bandits or rebels. There will be no need for encounter rolls.>>For the sake of brevity, I will timeskip so not to drudge the thread, but leave you with choices of activities to perform.>>Please select three (3) activities from the following:>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>Go hunting for alchemy reagents in the nearby area.>Practice your combat skills with your fellow Crownguard.>Spend time with Adrianna to learn formal etiquette.>Teach Ellana more about healing and poisonous herbs.>Custom option. (Write-in)
>>3534906>>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>>Teach Ellana more about healing and poisonous herbs.>>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
>>3534906>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>Go hunting for alchemy reagents in the nearby area.>Teach Ellana more about healing and poisonous herbs.
>>3534906>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>Teach Ellana more about healing and poisonous herbs.>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
Is there any winter-based thing Markus can personally gather for Ellana's gift?
>>3534906tentative vote while I'm still thinking>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>Begin deciphering the Dark Grimoire
>>3534906Going to second >>3534916
>>3534906>>3534924Seconding this. I’d like to see some value gained from our prize.
>>3534906>Finish deciphering the Vascieli journal cipher.>Go hunting for alchemy reagents in the nearby area.>Begin deciphering the Dark Grimoire.
>>3534908>>3534913>>3534915>>3534916>>3534924>>3534990>>3535110Cipher - 8Hunting - 4 Ellana - 5Grimoire - 3Experiment - 4Hmmm...that's what the vote's at so far. I'll run the Cipher rolls and Ellana lessons first, and then when we get to the Hunting/Experiment section, I'll just call for another vote to tiebreak. Don't feel like tossing a coin now or doing sudden death.>>3534921Maybe in the next town over. When you get to Mont Gormaic, it'll be Winter 85. Winter 90 is the last day to find a gift before Spring 1, which would be Ellana's ninth birthday. Five days should be plenty of time to find something worthwhile to give her in the castle town.At any rate, the Vascieli journal is about 4/6ths complete, and I believe you've eked out 6 alchemical concoctions from your progress. I'll update the pastebin with the relevant potions when I get back from work, but in the meantime, let's see how you all fair. It's the home stretch of the deciphering, which means that the symbols and runes have gotten only harder. Luckily, Gizo's journal contained a partial reference he'd forgotten to take out, giving you a circumstantial bonus.As usual, if you have any questions, I'll try to answer them during my down periods.>Roll 1d100+40 Knowledge (+20 Stat, +20 Circumstance)>Best out of four.
Rolled 6 + 40 (1d100 + 40)>>3535928
Rolled 42 + 40 (1d100 + 40)>>3535928NERD!
Rolled 92 + 40 (1d100 + 40)>>3535928
Rolled 51 + 40 (1d100 + 40)>>3535928
>>3535934>>3535937>>3535942>>3535960That oughta do it! The 92 was the success you needed to completely translate the cipher.Okay...moving onto Ellana.>>What subject will you choose to focus on?>You will teach her about the art of bomb-making. [Bombadier 0/5]>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs. [Lifeguard 4/5]>You will teach her about toxic and poisonous herbs. [Poisoner 1/5]>Custom option.
>>3536583>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs. [Lifeguard 4/5]
>>3536583>>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs
>>3536583>>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs. [Lifeguard 4/5]
>>3536583>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs. [Lifeguard 4/5]no question
>>3536583>>You will teach her about curative and restorative herbs. [Lifeguard 4/5]Might as well max that out.
>>3536599>>3536602>>3536604>>3536610>>3536612>>3536620As Lifeguard is in its final stage of development, there is no need for a Knowledge check to make sure the lesson sticks.Now, we come to the tiebreaker for that earlier gridlock.>>Please choose one:>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Go hunting in the nearby wilderness for alchemical reagents.
>>3536645>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
>>3536645>Go hunting in the nearby wilderness for alchemical reagents.
>>3536645Dark Gri-oh>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
>>3536645>>Go hunting in the nearby wilderness for alchemical reagents.
>>3536645>>Go hunting in the nearby wilderness for alchemical reagents.Not on the road where we have no containment set up if thing go wrong guys.
>>3536645>Attempt to experiment with the Specter’s Dream
Locking the vote in for alchemical reagents. Time to sit my butt down and write as much as I can before I pass out.Writing...
>>3536880>The Vascieli CipherAfter several long weeks of trial and error, and brute force heuristics, it is with ink-stained hands and a mad grin on your face that you hold the key. By no means is this a permanent solution. The rebels may, and most likely will, change their cipher. The cloak-and-dagger nature of their organization practically necessitates it; you’d do the same in their place.But for the time being, this will do. This will do nicely...>You have successfully decrypted Vascieli Cipher A!With the finished key, you reread the papers you’d already gone through. You check for subtle nuances and hidden entendres, triple checking one page before moving onto the next. Certainly an arduous process, but one that helps to further ingrain the key within the space of your mind.Yet this immense pride and haughty smugness is not without other boons. With the last of the pages finally translatable, you finally make out the owner’s unique potion recipes. And then there are the communications between the highest echelons of the local rebel cell...a veritable gold mine for information, and a valuable first step for loyalist forces.>Blutlure [Tier3 Bomb] -- Anyone caught within the blast radius, a mere harmless explosion of a dye-like substance, instantly becomes a priority target for nearby Blutlinge, driven into a frenzy by the replicate blood.--- [3 Ingredients, 2 Sanguine Grass]>Drakling’s Breath [Tier 4 Bomb]-- A type of smoke bomb with a uniquely thick smoke. Imposes severe penalties on Attack Rolls, Perception checks and other sight-based checks.--- [4 Ingredients, 1 Crushed Drakling Scale]The reports themselves are full of banalities and other observations made by the Vascieli alchemist. These run the gamut to rude words about superior officers, insults towards his comrade’s virility...little wonder why a Vasliceli Alchemist did not have much in the way of protection. Yet is the last entry that catches your attention.>“The Gargoyle has taken roost in the Shrike’s Nest to await further orders from the Exalted Voice.”The Gargoyle. The leader of the rebel cell in the Archduchy of the Midlands. To think that the chance of meeting him face-to-face...the thought fills you with equal measures of confidence and wariness. If the man’s taken so easily by von Roie’s demense, and has yet to be detected, you can deduce a two, unpleasant thoughts.The Gargoyle has been described as a large man with a brutish appearance and a beard to match. Such a man might stand out in Mont Gormaic. Either the man is skilled enough at pretending to be someone who he isn’t...or the Gargoyle does not need to hide, as his position affords him to perform looking like murderous thug.(cont.)
At any rate, you’ll be keeping a close eye on the guards von Roie had pulled together, as well as the sole surviving Vascieli prisoner. Apparently, the man Bellatrix refers to as ‘pup’ and what Gizo called ‘Garro’, he has yet to wake up. Chained to a stretcher in one of the wagon trails, the rebel is comatose. And might be for the considerable future......perhaps you’ll look into brewing some kind of daught or strong chemical to pull the man from his slumber. Whatever the knightess did, she did her job too damn well. Much as you or von Roie would like to get your knives and hands around Garro’s throat for questions about his organization and the Exalted Voice, you won’t be doing that anytime soon.>>Skipping past Ellana temporarily, we’re moving towards the gathering part for the sake of brevity.>>Gathering/Hunting is divided into three checks: Encounter, Rarity and Abundance.>>Encounter refers to the risk of running into something or someone, the more dangerous the woods the more likely you’ll have a fight on your hands.>>Rarity determines the nature of any discovered reagents, with multiple degrees of success resulting in unusual, localized biomes with a diverse flora.>>Abundance is, simply put, how much of the plant is available for you to harvest.>Please roll 3d100, checking for Encounter, Rarity and Abundance.>Best out of three.Any typos or awkward sentence structures and will be blamed on my lack of sleep catching up to me.
Rolled 60, 12, 95 = 167 (3d100)>>3536980
Rolled 12, 12, 44 = 68 (3d100)>>3536980
Rolled 54, 72, 56 = 182 (3d100)>>3536980
>>3539663>>3539664Good drawfag aside, those names honestly terrified me.
>>3539663>>3539664GOddammit, that's fucking great...I cackled so hard I woke up my imouto, who then proceeded to throw her hairbrush at me. Which was not so great. Digressing from that, thanks dude.
>>3536982>>3536983>>3537011>60 for EncounterWith the absence of the drakling, life in the Köingswald returns to a semblance of relative normality. There is no more unnatural silence, an empty void that seemed to howl and suck the warmth from man’s bones. Winter is still a quiet season, when most animals have gone to ground. But for those that remained active, they could now indulge in the cycle of life without disturbance from a predator that even humans feared to battle.There is not a single patch of unblemished snow, and even fresh snowfall mere hours ago have prints of some wild animal. You can distinguish the tracks of a herd of deer, the split hooves of a massive auroch, and the padded prints of foxes and wolves. Self-indulgent as it is, you cannot help but feel some sort of pride that this is all because of your efforts.Occasionally, some animal might stumble in your way, a cony rabbit in pursuit by a fox or a gazelle, or a wild boar stumbling through the undergrowth. Overhead, birds of prey circle the treeline before diving at some unseen target. They paid you only the slightest of glances before returning to their business, fleeing or feeding as they saw fit. You have no quarrel with them, and neither did they with you. But you would be a fool to not prepare for any sort of danger. Lynxes and bobcats, wolves and bears still rule the forests of Aderaveth. They are easy enough to avoid, as you avoid staying too long to any water sources and wilderness trails. Any cave or rock cropping, you similarly avoid if it even has a single claw print, weeks old and nearly filled by snow. Crownguard though you may be, you’re not nearly stupid enough to wrestle with an animal that weighs over one hundred stone.>72 for RarityStretching for over dozens of leagues in the shadow of the Whrelzwth Mountains, the Köingswald has seen the rise and fall of kings since time immemorial, and survived all manner of disaster to ravage the continent. Even the dragons, with flame that could melt flesh from bone, could not completely destroy the forest. Its trees did not grow tall like those in the north, but their roots run deep in the firmament of the earth, enduring all manner of trials and tribulation. Even the youngest sapling might be older than Lucien, or any man just underneath forty years of life. And there were still the Askr, behemoths of ash said to have been planted by Wuotan and Frigga before the dawn of man. Of these Askr, only a handful remains on the mainland, many lost to the dragons or holy war. But in the wilder places, there are still those barbarians who dance underneath the boughs in pale and red firelight, offering human sacrifices upon altars of stone and wood.(cont.)
The Köingswald is cornucopia of resources in every sense of the word. And in the harsh Midland winters, when the rarest and most precious flora grows, the forest still has much to give. You spot bunches of Widow Lilies swaying quietly along a silent breeze, and clusters of mushrooms underneath half-rotted logs and stumps. And what could you say about the raw stuffs you could process to Ingredients?Thank the gods that the Crowmonds have been gracious enough to give you a spare trunk. Nothing so large as compared to the luggage for their clothes, but more than enough for you to hold great amounts of reagents from multiple trips to the forest...>95 for Abundance>>Over the course of the next five days, you harvest the following:>50 Ingredients>25 Slennush Mushrooms>15 Mother’s Bark>13 Widow’s Tears>12 Hazeleaf Hemp>3 Sleeping Sister PetalsBut you would not be alone. There is at least a singular constant presence that accompanies you on these excursions. It is a red-tailed hawk, the symbol adorning the banners of Landgraff Pullman. Perched above a tree, it watches you with unblinking eyes, head cocked and ready for any sign of hostile intention. Perhaps you stumbled upon its hunting grounds or spawning territory? Yet it seems to follow you from one campsite to the next as the caravan continues its journey.On the fifth day, just before you reach Mont Gormaic, you turn to gaze towards the hawk. You are more curious than annoyed, even though its gaze had been a weight upon your back. It meets your eyes, looking seemingly obvious to the fact that it’s followed you for several leagues....as far as you can tell, it looks no different than any other bird of prey, barring its winter plumage. Bloodbound Warlocks could corrupt animals, bend their wills to serve their own. But it does not appear to be suffering anything undue or unnatural. If anything else...it seems to lack the spontaneous energy that most wild birds would have.Palming the medallion that Krabat gave you, you find the acorn to be as cold as your chainshirt. Wherever the druid is, he is more than ten leagues away from your location, so it could not have been him.“...do you need something?” you ask, setting down your tools. The blades at your side are not quite within hand’s reach, but it would only take a second to draw them. Just like plucking a chicken.“Skree,” the raptor answers, its eyes sharp and unflinching. “Skree...”The corner of your mouth tugs up in amusement. “That’s not an answer.”“Skree...”(cont.)
The bird suddenly bristles, flapping its wings. A cascade of snow falls down from the bough it was resting on as it departs, flying north from your position. It only travels for a few trees before finding another one to perch upon. Talons claw into the wood, sharp enough to carve easily through squirming flesh, as it balances itself upon a branch no thicker than two fingers.“Skree...”, it calls again, and the bird once more meets your eyes. It flaps its wings with an air of finality, regarding you with that unusually sharp perception. It cocks its head for the barest of moments before returning its attention back towards you. “Skree...”...the raptor wants you to follow it.Sundown is fast approaching. The light of day is just barely orange, and the highest peak of the mountains still strains to reach it. But within an hour, twilight will come. And you’ve always been one to return quickly to the caravan before true night came, and all of the predators that hunt in the Köingswald... >>Please choose only one option:>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.>Return back to the caravan camp and your Crownguard duties.
>>3540143>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.
>>3540143>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.Here we go again
>>3540139>red-tailed hawkTobias?>>3540143>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.Tobias wouldn't steer us wrong.
>>3540143>>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.
>>3540143>Chance the predators, follow the bird deeper into the woods.I forget, does the kingdom have a royal animal or anything?
>>3541178I wanna say crows because Crowmond
>>3541178The official symbol of Aderaveth is a griffon with three heads, clutching five swords in its talons. The three heads reference the barbarian kingdoms of High, Middle and Lower Vethica, split from Unified Vethica after the death of Karlaz "the Hammer" of the Torellian dynasty. His grandson, the bastard prince Aedric von Brandt, adopted a black griffon as his standard to fly into battle against his uncles, uniting Vethica to create a new empire for the barbarians, hence the name change.The five swords represent the five archduchies that comprise Aderaveth. These are the Midlands (Vethica), Gerforen's Reach (Umborna), the Hinterlends (Irminia), the River Marches (Galataria) and Tiefhold (Ostreth). The names in parentheses are the traditional names of the rulers or the tribe that settled the lands, while everything else is merely what everyone refers to it as nowadays.>>3541204The Crowmond's personal crest is that of the raven. And there's a bit of a story behind that, actually.Prior to his duel with Aedric, Maxvell Crowmond was Áedan mac Niall Ó Cormaic, a prince of Gnuryll, the Emerald Isle. It is said that his family was founded when Cellach mac Ayrt, nursed a wounded raven to health in the coldest winter even as he was starving. For his kindness, Morrigu, the Hultish goddess of War, gave to him one of her own daughters, and their son, Corb mac Cellach, would go on to carve out a petty kingdom in Gnuryll: Gleanncúin, the Silent Valley.Digressing, Áedan's defeat meant a permanent exile from Gnuryll to fight on behalf of the mercenary prince, and as per the Gnuryllish custom of "sacrificing royalty" to avert disaster, his name was censured and erased from their oral and written records. Of course there were family and friends who protested, as Áedan had run a successful guerilla campaign against the mercenary prince, but the other petty kings and claimants to the throne were quick to take Aedric's restitution money and "sacrifice" their most successful commander.It fell to Aedric to give his despondent commander a new name; "Maxvell" was easy enough, deriving from the Eridian word for "Great" with a Vethic twist as he was no longer one of the Emerald Isle. But when asked for a name to found his new line, Max gave "Crowmond". In Gnuryllish, "Cormaic" translates to "son of the raven", so in this way, he could retain an aspect of his former life even as he waged war on behalf of Aedric, far from home in a strange and distant land.After the Bladebound Rebellion and Max's slaying of the Crimson Tyrant, there were those who suggested changing the symbol of Aderaveth to anything but the black griffon. However, Max refused, citing that the griffon should stay as a testament to the man that his friend (and brother in all but blood) once was before his descent to madness and blood magic.To this day, the Crowmonds remain distant cousins of the high kings and chieftains of Gnuryll.
>>3540160>>3540174>>3540202>>3540221>>3540263>>3540278>>3540339>>3541178It does not take long before the sun begins to set. And within thirty minutes of following the bird, twilight fast approaches. The shadows cast by the towering trees lengthen with every handful of steps. There is no path, not even a downtrodden bramble to indicate the passage of wild animals or the odd, lone hunter.“Hoy,” you call up to the hawk, as it gathers itself upon a nearby stump. “Where are you leading me?”The only answer it gives is a twitch of its head and a sharp, “Skree...”“...right.” Still, you console yourself as you draw your cloak tighter and solider on through ever-deepening snow. At least it’s not some blood-drunk, barbarian woman leading into the wilderness on for a fight...But it is not a clearing where the bird leads you to. Without any warning, the bird dives, plummeting through the air like a javelin. Only at the last second does it open its wings, ascending once more into the air from the sheer speed of its fall. The hawk perches atop a half-rotted oak tree, a white husk on the verge of collapse. It shrieks again, and the echo of its cry suspends the forest in a shroud of silence. There are only a few birds that would dare fight a red-tailed hawk, and none of them are particularly active during winter. The chatter of sparrows and wrens instantly cease, and the disjointed songs of crows and jays vanish into the ether. Fluffing itself with something like an air of pride, the hawk looks at you, expectantly, before turning its gaze towards the tree.“...show-off,” you murmur as you stop towards its perch. Squinting into the darkness, you spot a hollow in the tree, a wide hole big enough to reach your arm into. The bird calls again, and it’s with a roll of your eyes that you slowly reach your arm in. “...bossy little thing...”Your hand touches something hard and firm. Pulling it out reveals an object wrapped in...deer hide, you think. Unwrapping it reveals a wooden medallion, inscribed with runes similar to the ones Krabat made on Gizo’s barge. A gift from the druid.The clouds overhead part, and the pale light reveals letters scrawled...is that blood?“My master thought you could use this. Hopefully it will give you an advantage against the Specter. But don’t think I’m giving this to you for free! The world runs on trade and commerce, and even though we can’t touch Imperial coins, I’m not about to give this to you without something in exchange.And don’t try to run off with or without the medallion! I lost sleep making this, and I want to see it put to good use! So you better take it and give me something worthwhile. And trust me, I’ll know if you don’t.”(cont.)
The message ends there, but it is signed:“From one fellow sufferer of my master’s antics to another,Faelinn."As you weigh the medallion in your hands, the hawk flies down from its perch. It stares at you, the myriad objects hanging on your belt, and the satchel on your back, before tilting its head towards the nook in the tree. Expectant and expecting..."...damn druids..." you murmur.>>What will you put in the nook that is worth the price of this medallion?>Augvarr's coinpurse>Drakling body part>Magic weapon>Rare alchemical reagent>Custom option.The pastebin should be up to date.
>>3542237>Drakling body partDrakling Poison Gland 14 Silver Drakling Scales
>>3542237Given we’ve already promised one magic weapon to another, and I have no idea what this is worth I am going with>drakling poison glandMaybe some other drakling bits tooThey cannot handle coin so bleh. They can also find rare reagents likely even easier than we can. Drakling bits are not metal and something they could not easily get on their own.
>>3542261Actually give him only one Drakling Poison Gland. Because he is right the world runs on trade and commerce. So if he wanted more he should show up for negotiations stupid fuck.
>>3542237I’m good with this:>>3542261
>>3542277It’s the Druid apprentice waifu that we’ve never met. Krabat just told her to make it.
>>3542237>drakling poison gland
>>3542237Changing to the consensus >drakling poison gland Out of the hopes that it will get her to show up in person to demand more.
>>3542237>Augvarr's coinpurseIt's just money.
>>3542237Either 1 drakling poison gland, or the Rune Axe.I very much doubt we have the time or skills to decipher unknown enchantments on weapons we don't even use. Both of these seem like they require some kind of message to go with them, though.
>>3540139So with our current ingredients, we can make....>1 neardeath sleep poison>lots of choking poisons>lots of necrosis poisons>ultra drakling poison>drug people up with hazeleaf>Sleep bomb>super smoke bomband now we have enough plain Ingredients to MAYBE try that panacea.
>>3542237>Drakling body partThe poison gland.
>>3542237>>Drakling body part
>>3542237Tsundere Druid girl is tsundere.>Drakling body part
>>3543402> It’s not like I want to tag along on your journey with you! It’s just that someone needs to watch out for your shadow. You owe me big for this!
>>3542261>>3542265>>3542289>>3542345>>3542367>>3542520>>3542865>>3543032>>3543081>>3543402>One drakling poison glandFar be it from you to be labeled an ungrateful bastard. But you’d be damned if you wouldn’t take advantage of the fact that this “Faelinn” isn’t here in person to negotiate with you. The fact that they sent their familiar in place to lead you towards the medallion is almost insulting.It would be hypocritical for you to make a remark about druids and social nuances and grace when you’ve based your entire persona on a man many years dead.Thus, it is with great caution that you remove one of the drakling’s poison glands from your satchel. Even safely contained within a specimen jar and sealed tight with wax, the reagent must be handled as if exposed to the air. The dragons were said to have saliva capable of burning through flesh and stone with incredible ease. You’re not nearly about to see how much of their traits this particular drakling inherited.And while you don’t prick yourself and write a return message, you scrawl a quick notice about the reagent’s venomous properties with a nub of charcoal. Wrapping a final layer of cloth to protect it from the cold, you place the gland in the hollow where the medallion once lay.“Skreee...” The hawk looks neither dissatisfied, but neither does it appear to be pleased. It watches you with almost a glare as you brush the sawdust from your sleeve.“Give this to your master with my compliments,” you say, already trudging back towards the camp. Nobody would give you too much grief. Barring Ellana or her sister, of course. “And tell them that their gift comes appreciated.”“...skree...”...now all you have to do is figure out what to do with the damn thing. Would it really have been that hard to include instructions with the medallion?>>Winter 85, 238 ACR>>Mont GormaicIn this part of the Midlands, the peaks of the Whrelzwth branch off like streams from the body of a mighty river. The boundary between mountain and forest seems to almost disappear with the difference of every descending hill. Great stone mounds seem to push out from the surface of the earth, forcing the trees to adapt to the intrusion upon their hold upon the ground.“Your father gave me the best of both worlds after the war,” von Roie explains, falling beside the imperial carriage to regale his nieces and nephew. Ellana only seems to be paying slight attention, perhaps by virtue of her familiarity with the area. But Adrianna politely listens, even as Allanus stifles a yawn. “The Whrelzwth seems to have a new vein of iron every other month, and we make a small profit from a smaller salt mine. Does it compare to the salt extracted from the inland seas? No, but we’re damn cheaper than those penny-pinchers...misers, the lot of them!”(cont.)
>>3543590would you say that von Roie is salty about those prices?
>>3543590At a first glance, the most comparative thing you could call von Roie’s demesne would be that of a motte and bailey. But instead of being built upon an artificial mound of earth, the “motte” upon which the citadel rests appears to be the lowermost part of the mountain. It would only make sense. Combining the natural elevation afforded by the geography, tremendous amounts of money and manpower could be saved.The citadel itself could almost be called a fortress. It foregoes the aesthetic, pointed tops you’d seen in Alnerwich or even Karthmire Keep, instead choosing for open watchtowers and flat-topped roofs more suited for military purposes. The same design on the walls surrounding the entire stronghold also protects the landgraff’s domus, allowing for what seems to be multiple ballistae, catapults, onagers and a vast assembly of siege weaponry.It is certainly an imposing structure, and the banners that fly atop the battlements match the grey-blue of von Roie’s knights. With the sole exception of the west from which it rests against the mountain, the highest battlements could provide at least five leagues of unobstructed sight.von Roie notices your gaze, and mistakes your analysis for slack-jawed wonder. “Impressive, isn’t it? My humble home...and one of thirteen strongholds that the Crimson Tyrant personally designed before he went batshit insane.”Ah. Little wonder, then, as to the intricate details of the design. “I can’t imagine that it’s comfortable to live in.”“Lad, a castle isn’t comfortable unless it has a woman in it to liven up the place. Or two, depending on some of my other peers’...predilections. Your princess’ auntie took drastic steps to make sure that the interior décor would never have anyone thinking of the Tyrant.”Riding beside his friend, Pullman snorts. “I seem to recall that Kit nearly bankrupted you in the first year of your marriage in her attempt to ‘liven up the place.’”“I had the prize money to spare!” von Roie defends, “And at least I’m not greeted by stone wall or brick, one after the other, every time I have to go to the privy!”By the time the caravan approaches the gates, the portcullis is already halfway up the barbican. The landgraff stops to praise his guards for a punctual job, inquires about their families, and places a silver coin in each man’s hand. Then, the Mockingbird sweeps his arms, and bids the caravan welcome to the stronghold of Mont Gormaic.The “bailey” itself a castle town, no different from any other, where smallfolk and commoners go about their daily lives and business. Flying bridges across a moat connect the town with innermost wall surrounding the outermost wall of the citadel. There is no straight path, but an artificial ramp that winds up along the mountainside in slow and lazy turns. Any man could simply scale the hill, but the same could not be said for horses and other beasts with burden.(cont.)
It does not take long for the denizens to notice the caravan. Within a handful of seconds, dozens have ceased their activities, and cluster along the sides of the main road as von Roie leads the procession. They bow as he passes, and he returns their gestures with smiles and nods. Some of the bolder peasants break ranks to rush towards a knight or infantryman, perhaps a sibling, parent or spouse among the host their landgraff had assembled.They do not react to Pullman and the imperial carriage beyond any sort of mild curiosity. Given how much time had passed, you’d think that someone would have known about the destination of the Crowmonds. Especially after Alnerwich. But no, the commoners demonstrate their remittance in bows fit for landgraffs or other low nobility. A small comfort, at least.“This certainly brings back memories...” Ser Hagerson muses behind you, a warm nostalgia on his face. “The walls are still ugly, but the girls are as pretty as ever...I had a sweetheart here, you know, during the Bastards’ War.”“And what ever happened to her?” you ask.“Married the blacksmithy’s son. I’d like to hope that all her children are his...” He chortles quietly as he tosses a wave and a kiss towards a small group of ladies. “Don’t be surprised. I was young once, Crowmond, even though I’ve found the Light of God since then.”“You’re still young!”“If I was young, I’d still have hair ‘neath this helm!”>>LaterIn the outer yard of the citadel, a similar scene plays itself before you: the host welcomes the Crowmonds. The royalty exchanges polite words prior to being swept in for a bath, dinner and rest from the journey.At least, that’s how it had been. If you remember correctly, von Roie’s wife is the sister of the Empress Melianna. Which meant that as opposed to ‘Uncle Kieran’, the Mockingbird’s family was related to the Crowmonds, allowing for less pomp and decorum.“Elly!” But it is not the empress’ sister who breaks formality. It is instead a young girl just about Adrianna’s age. Similar to her father, she rushes towards the carriage as soon as Ellana appears, embracing her tightly. A cursory look across her figure reveals no weapons, and you allow her to pass without incident. “Oh, you’ve grown so big!”The princess shrieks in delight, nuzzling her cheeks against the girl. “Kattie!”Again, Ellana’s siblings are put off by the display, but Kattie does not seem to notice. “Adrianna! And little Allie, it’s so wonderful to see you! Gods, where does all the time go...”The elder princess accepts her polite curtsey before they quickly embrace. And for the barest of moments, Allanus flails helplessly as his cousin envelops him in the expanse of her breasts. When she pulls away, going to speak to her father, the little prince is breathless and red-faced...but not from near suffocation, if the dopey smile on his face is anything to go by.(cont.)
We did it bois. The Road™ has finally been conquered.June 18th 2016 - May 31st 20192 years 347 days
>>3544234It only took 1/5 the number of years Guts stayed in that boat.
>>3544234> (cont.)Not yet.
>>3543771“Kattie” is most certainly not her real name, but Katarina von Roie is visibly Alistair’s daughter, if not in personality. Her hair shares a similar shade of chestnut brown, tumbling down to pool at the base of her shoulders. Green-hazel eyes twinkle with mirth underneath a strong brow as she gracefully moves from one person to the next. But you can see the Tarmund within her, high cheekbones indicative of Umborian heritage.If nothing else, however, she does share her father’s physical displays of affection, and a seemingly blatant disregard for personal space.Behind her, the two foremost pair among the assembled retainers and house servants looks on with mixed expressions. The younger of them, a thin boy no more than fourteen years, cringes at Kattie’s antics; Castal von Roie, heir apparent of Mont Gormaic. The woman beside him does not mask her emotions, equal measures relief and irritation on a face so eerily familiar. She could only be Kitianna Tarmund, sister of the Empress and second child of Archduke Emerich Tarmund of Gerforen’s Reach.Pullman is helped off of his horse, and with the aid of his squire, he manages a polite bow towards the lady of Mont Gormaic. She in turn, offers her hand, but the formal gesture is offset by a sympathetic smile. “I’ve certainly seen you in better condition, Kieran.”“Take your complaints to the drakling,” answers the landgraff. “And if you must, leave a bill at Father Time’s doorstep. He’s not been nearly as kind to me as your husband.”“Nonsense. I heard what you did for my niece. My sister and I are eternally grateful.”"Aye. Anything for her. And Leon," he adds.Kitianna's mouth twitches. "Yes...but about the Emperor..."As their pleasantries devolve into hushed whispers and something more serious, you find yourself the unexpected recipient of von Roie attention. You blink, wiping snow out of the corner of your eye, but when your vision clears, Kattie stands right before you, no more than a handful of inches away from you. Her hair smells of chamomile and lilac, and in spite of her reputation, she seems to move about in silk dresses as well as training leathers or studded gambesons. “You must be Marcus...” Her voice trails as she appraises you. But it isn’t your features or form she’s focused on. Her gaze travels from the items on your belt, weapons and tools alike, offering nods of approval or thin lips at anything that catches her fancy. “I’ve heard many things about you from Klara Mazur and little Elly’s letters...”>“And your father’s complaints don’t do you justice...” (Flirt)>“I do hope that I’ve lived up to their expectations.” (Neutral)>“Nothing too damaging from our misadventures, I hope.” (Joke)>Custom option.
>>3549639>“Nothing too damaging from our misadventures, I hope.” (Joke)
>>3549639>>“Nothing too damaging from our misadventures, I hope.” (Joke)
>>3549639>>“I do hope that I’ve lived up to their expectations.” (Neutral)
>>3549639>“I do hope that I’ve lived up to their expectations.” (Neutral)
>>3534488Just realized I never responded to this. This makes me cautiously optimistic. A duchess seems far more problematic, mainly because it’s a powerful figure that could now hold considerable sway over one of the imperial family’s closest and most trusted agents. Such a conflict of interest with a Landgraff that has a closer and more personal connection to the family in the first place, not to mention the direct fealty, would seem to have far less potential to do harm.
>>3549639>“I do hope that I’ve lived up to their expectations.” (Neutral)"I don't suppose you'd be willing to share what they've said?"
>>3549639>“Nothing too damaging from our misadventures, I hope.” (Joke)"I don't suppose you'd be willing to share what they've said?"
>>3549667>>3549699>>3549702>>3549730>>3549810>>3550321>>3551250>>3551276>>3551327>>3551416You crack a grin, hoping to break the rigid formality commanded by the disparage in your stations. “Nothing too damaging from our shared misadventures, I hope.”“On the contrary, both have given glowing accounts of your service thus far,” she answers, matching your grin with one of her own. It is neither the savage glee you’ve seen Bellatrix’s mouth twist into, not the cunning vulpine so common to Klara. Perhaps it is...competitive, perhaps? Amicable teasing? “Especially with that business in Alberwich. Klara’s always been a bit of a sourpuss, but her letters have gotten nicer, and far less...acerbic.”“Then I am glad to have been of service,” you say with a slight bow.“Oh, stop that! You’ll break your back with all the bowing you’ll have to do. And it’s I who should be thanking you! Father and I were so terribly distraught at the assassination attempt on little Elly. You were sure to give him a beating, yes?”“...I performed my duty,” you quietly answer. “If by distraught,” her brother calls from a short distance away, “You mean so in hysterics that Father and Mother locked you in your room so not to storm out to the capital until your head cooled?”The only sign that he heard her is an irate twitch of her brow. Otherwise, Kattie pretends to not have heard her brother.“You’ve more than lived up to their expectations. And now seeing you in the flesh...” She pauses, as if carefully choosing her words. “You’re not quite what I expected.”“Were you expecting someone taller?”“No, actually. You’re the right height of what I’d imagine a Crownguard to be.”“Then what appears to be the problem?”Her eyes flick towards the weapons at your belt. Then, candidly, she says, “I’d very much like to see you in action.”But before you can ask for an elaboration, the von Roies and Pullman’s retinue have already begun to disperse. The Crowmonds return to their carriage to begin moving in, and Kattie returns to her family with a final wave and grin at your direction...>>After a bath and a welcoming feast, the Crowmonds are quick to rest.>>Raleigh and Urath have the first watch of the evening, leaving you and Bellatrix free to pursue your own activities...“Hey, champion...” the Knightess drawls as she slips on her armor. “I’m still not giving up. Just say the word, pick your stage, and I’ll be there...spear and sword drawn and ready...”...fucking great. On the plus side, it doesn’t look like she’s about to jump you in the stone corridors of Mont Gormaic. Whatever was bothering her that night seems to have abated...not that you’re quick to forget about her blood-drunk high.>>What will you do?>Accept Bellatrix’s offer for a duel/spar.>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana.>Research the Specter’s Dream.>Custom option.
>>3552249>>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana."Tempting, but we have far more pressing matter that I could use some help with."
>>3552249>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana.PRIORITIES
>>3552249>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana.
>>3552249>>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana.
>>3552249>>Accept Bellatrix’s offer for a duel/spar.
>>3552249>Go into town to find a gift for Ellana.knowing the plot, this is going to segue into accidentally finding leads on the vascieli, access to another skilltree like architecture or magical items, and another ladyfriend to pork
>>3552854Druid girl or Carris following the convoy.
>>3552249>>Custom option.Actually do this> Make bombs and poisons to replenish our stocks.
>>3552249>Research the Specter’s Dream.I feel this is the most important thing.
>>3552290>>3552312>>3552337>>3552471>>3552610>>3552854>>3553247“...I’m halfway tempted to take you up on that offer,” you admit.Bellatrix snorts. “I’m sensing a caveat in there...”“Aye. There’s something more important that I could use some help with.”“And what’s that?”“...the princess’ upcoming birthday. Mine, to be specific. And I haven’t the foggiest of what to get her.”“Huh,” The knightess squints at you. “...what day is it, again?”“Five before Ellana’s birthday,” you answer, quietly.“Right, right...your crow’s born on Spring Dawning.” The barbarian chews on her lip, adopting an uncharacteristically pensive expression. “Yours was never around for too long, on account of the fostering. But she never liked things that she couldn’t find a good use for.”“What kind of things?”“Anything that caught her fancy at the moment. That child has the attention span of a honeybee...”...you suppose that it’s more than enough for you to work with. Something that she won’t simply hang up upon a wall, something she’d keep close at hand, and not just for some frivolous reason.But before you leave, Bellatrix stops you. The knightess leans against one side of the door frame, leg kicked out to bar your progress. “Oi, Painel.”“...yes, Lupine?” you reply tersely. You are nowhere in the mood for this.“...you promised me a match, didn’t you? After you knocked me down on my ass on the snow...anytime I wanted, right?” At the sour look you give her, she merely shrugs, offering that shark-like grin as she lowers her leg. “...don’t keep brushing me off, else I’ll just be coming for you. It’s rude to keep a lady waiting...”>>Later...The markets of Mont Gormaic seem to be perpetually open. Even though it’s been a handful of hours since twilight, the castle town at the base of the mountain shows no signs of turning in for the evening. Some of the stalls have predictably closed, but there are still street vendors who peddle their wares, from dried cheese and fish to firewood and smelling salts. But in tow, there are the evening traders who best peddle in items purchased after dark, or in the comfort of a moonless night. The torchlight from patrolling guards or nearby street braziers casts light upon macabre, twisted shadows in alleyways, keeping to themselves and haggling with fists and coinage. These might have been legitimate businessmen or cutthroats of the lowest kind, dealing in either questionable material to the outright illegal.Turning your eyes upward reveals a more pleasant sight. As the seasons change, there will doubtless be more, but there seems to be no small number of whores to openly advertise their trade. And unlike in Westholm and the simplicity of a rural bathhouse, these buildings are true brothels and cabarets, where women danced or otherwise lounged sensuously to better highlight their features. (cont.)
>>3553297A spray bottle filled with antifreeze, smelling salts, and regular salt.....or just pepper spray.A fashionable pouch equipped to contain curative herbs and poultices.Some sort of flint glove for making small fires or holding hot objects.A....gasmask? Sunglasses?
>>3553297They are all attractive in their own right, women in all shapes and colors, hailing from almost all corners of the continent. You spy an Ingulan woman with skin as brown as sun-baked earth, whose dark nipples are visible shadows through her gauzy, white dress. Not too far away, a young starlet with hair as red as summer flame laughs heartily at some joke, even as a black-skinned Isolen stares at nothing from beneath saffron silks.Short and tall, willow-thin or well-upholstered, there is no question that each is striking in her own right. And you have no doubt that if she ever had the inclination, Carris would not have any trouble making friends...or business partners or rivals. No matter where you go, there is a universal truth – where talent is scarce, sex prevails, and the world’s oldest profession is not soon to run out of either workers or consumers.You ignore their calls and shimmies, and continue down the street and into the market district proper. If nothing else, your determination cuts a path as straight as any blade, deterring anyone who would try to hawk their wares. The women cease their advances, hoping to find a man more loose with his coin and morals, and not even the most desperate of urchins dares to come within cuffing range.Sure enough, there are still some vendors who are open, if not in the process of preparing to close. Blacksmiths and jewelers, perfumists and leatherworkers, herbalists and glassblowers...even if somewhat landlocked, Mont Gormaic seems to be an economic hub for the Midlands...>>What do you think Ellana would like?>A piece of jewelry with some hidden purpose.>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.>A weapon to defend herself as a last resort.>Custom option.
>>3553324>>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.
>>3553324>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.and>A weapon to defend herself as a last resort.But train her with it before letting her keep it on her person.
>>3553351Oh and don't give her the knife or w/e we end up getting her in front of everyone.
>>3553324>Fashionable bag and set of pouches she can hide under clothes.>Hair pin that can hold poison and could be used as a weapon
>>3553324>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.In light of her recent achievements and because no one else would think to get something like this.
>>3553324>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.Maybe a vial with a quick release valve to secretly get Fire resistance or something and walk through a burning house.
>>3553324Jeweled hairpin in the oriental style with pin itself made of good steel. A hold out in case trouble somehow sneaks by us.
>>3553324>A tool to use in either herbalism or alchemy.We already gave her a pendant to protect from poisoning right? Now that she finished her schooling in healling herbs we should give her a kit or a tool.
>>3553328>>3553351>>3553386>>3553612>>3553676>>3553712>>3553922>>3554049>>3554054It is a curious little shop, no more than a hole between two grandiose merchant and craftsman guilds. Over the entrance hangs a traditional, pub-style board sign showing a modest painting of the known world. Kaithe is easily visible enough, as well as the Northern Islands of the Hielmaesùt. But then there is the addition of Isoles, the Southern Continent, and the lands beyond the Neck of the World, where few venture into and even fewer return. Beneath the image, the shop’s name shimmers in silver writing that catches every flickering light of the nearby fire.‘The Floating World’ is certainly not the gaudy shops you’ve seen (and stolen from) in the capital, with glass windows two stories high that prominently displayed their wares and merchandise. But if the sign is truly offering unique things from all corners of the known world, then you’ll be willing to take a gamble.Inside the lobby, the most polite way you’d describe the shop is an organized mess. Shelves along the walls and freestanding tables shoved about the room in no particular pattern are piled high with random objects. You spot a few weapons in the mix—a blade forged entirely from a sinister hue of jade—and a helmet with a brush-plume of what appears to be wyvern quills instead of horsehair. For the most part, however, the clutter consists of bottles and scrolls of all shape and sizes, as well as bizarre items of truly unknown function: a compass that points in two directions, a ship’s figurehead carved from stone in the shape of a bicorn, even a marble statue of a crab as large as a small dog. Only the counter at the far wall, carved and fashioned in the style of a bar, is clear of any sort of debris.“A customer!” The voice that greets you is high and reedy, almost melodic in its intonations. “A customer in the dead of night! Fetch the tea and warm the biscuits, a man have come searching for something only we can provide!”There is a muffled thump, and a tiny man comes shuffling from around the counter. His skin is a sickly yellow, as if severely jaundiced, but his brown eyes shine with vim and vigor behind a spectacular set of crystal lens. The shopkeep moves about with a significant limp, yet he clumps around the counter with surprising speed, aided by a walking stick of simple oak or ash.“Good evening, and welcome to my humble store,” he proclaims, bowing low with a fanciful flourish, “Many enter the ‘Floating World’ not knowing what they desire, but seldom has one departed without finding something to carry home. I am Artos, and it is my life’s work to bring the world to all of my customers.”You find yourself smiling unexpectedly. The man’s welcoming greeting, dramatic as it is, seems to be genuine. “Evening to you as well.”(cont.)
If he took offense at your withholding your name, Artos makes no note of it. He simply continues on, beckoning you further into the shop. “Tell me, young master, what is it that you desire? I have spices imported from as far as the Belt of Dreams, relics and fetishes from the jungle barbarians of Isoles...ah, but a handsome lad such as yourself must be popular with the ladies, no?”In a swift motion, he hooks a stool with the end of his walking stick, pulling it towards him within a handful of heartbeats. Leaping atop the furniture, he reaches atop a shelf, pulling down a jar sculpted to resemble the head of a hideous monster. Its contents appear to be no more than innocuous tea leaves, garnished with a myriad mix of other...substances.“Bone powder ground from the bones of Aetherion’s spawn...” he whispers almost reverently, “These are monsters among the likes of the fearsome Tarasque that were birthed from the Destroyer’s corpse when the earth was still young. I take it myself for male potency, young master...not to suggest that you require any stimulants, but merely to add to what is already, ah, there...”Coughing hastily to mask a laughing fit, you respond, “Nothing of the sort. I am looking for a gift.”“Oh. Well...” You blink, and the jar has disappeared from your sight, with Artos looking none the wiser. “A gift, you say? I have many of those. To whom will this gift be for?”“A young girl who detests ostentation and values practicality,” you curtly say, “One fond of flora and in need of hidden protection.”The diminutive man puts a hand to his chin. “I see, I see...wait here, if you please.” He hobbles back towards the other side of the counter, disappearing behind a set of silken curtains. Straining your ears, you discern nothing but the sound of someone hurriedly searching for something.He reappears quickly, clutching myriad set of items to his chest. Hopping atop his stool, he lays them out upon the counter, two items wrapped in thick bundles of cloth. With long, spindly fingers, it takes only mere seconds for him to undo the wrappings and present them to you.“Now, this first one...” Artos says, holding up a set of silver hairpins, whose ends are shaped like lotus blossoms, “These are a lady’s weapon, unlike anything you’ll find on this side of the Neck of the World. Across the Neck, there is a saying, ‘silk to hide steel’, and it is an adage many women adhere to both in a figurative and literal sense.“These hold no magic, young master, unlike that dagger at your belt. But what these hold is a hollow cavity, perfect for storing whatever your girl wishes. Place it in her hair, and she will be the envy of everybody’s eye. But in a time of troubles, instruct her to depress the core of the blossom...”(cont.)
There is a soft noise as he does so, a barely imperceptible click as the edge of the hairpin opens. A small blade springs out from the hole, before quickly retracting once Artos releases the trigger.“Of course, I had not taken the time to load the pins with anything, so they are quite dry and safe to the touch,” he continues, setting them down on the counter. “But do not automatically think that these are just to be stored with poison. For every small trace of poison to ravage one’s insides within seconds, there are also universal panaceas and cures that work just as quickly in equally trace amounts...”One for toxins and poisons, and one for curatives and antidotes. Very impressive. “Do these weapons have a name?”“No, but the woman I purchased them from referred to them as ‘The Twins’.”>>The Lotus Twins>A pair of lacquered hairpins fashioned at their ends with lotus flowers, hollowed in the center to discretely store poisons and/or antidotes....wait a moment.“How did you know my dagger is enchanted?” you demand.Artos smiles enigmatically. “Trade secret, young master. But let’s not dwell upon your items...here, the next one!”This appears to be a pouch, only slightly bigger than a coin purse. But instead of the typical burlap or cured leather, the material is finer, smoother and more reliant in spite of its flexibility. Opening the bag reveals a set of small vials the size of your thumb, and a bandoleer to strap around one’s belt, or even wrist or thigh.“Drakling hide gives the bag both durability and flexibility beyond that of traditional fare,” Artos explains, “And the vials are clever things; the bandoleer will only release a vial with a specific shake. Within seconds, your girl could have an empty jar to collect a sample, or administer a poison or antidote...“Each individually worth a great deal on their own, but for you, my friend, I will make a special offer and bundle everything in a Journeyman’s Kit.”You nod, impressed in spite of your earlier reservations. “And these are the best of what you can offer?”“Offered according to the terms you provided me,” he amends with a knowing grin.He has you there. But you roll with it, inspecting both items laid out before you. “How much for each?”The shopkeep grunts, “I’d not part with the Twins for less than six hundred fifty aurums. And the Journeyman’s Kit...easily a prize worth four hundred, but because I like you, and you have no need to mention my offer for virility bone powder...let’s bring the price down to three hundred aurums.”>>With Augvarr’s coinpurse, you currently have:>740 Gold Aurums>124 Silver Crowns>311 Bronze Links>>Which of these items will you purchase?>You will purchase The Lotus Twins. (650 GP)>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)>You will attempt to haggle and/or barter. [Social Check]>You will purchase neither.
Last update before I head off to the airport for my vacation. I'll see if I can get a tally and type an update during my flight, kek.
>>3554676>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)I really liked the itens.
>>3554678Have a nice and safe flight
>>3554676>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)
>>3554676>You will purchase The Lotus Twins. (650 GP)I feel these are far more useful.Also, did he not notice the second dagger?
>>3554676>You will purchase The Lotus Twins. (650 GP)I can't think of any way to haggle him down, unless we have something to trade.
>>3554676>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)Big sister will cry about weapons.
>>3554676>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)If we haggle, I'd rather it be for a separate item we purchase on top of this. Like I dunno, a translation guide to barbarian/dragonic text
>>3554676>You will attempt to haggle and/or barter. [Social Check]Always haggle
>>3554676>You will purchase The Lotus Twins. (650 GP)
>>3554828>wanting to haggle the magic user.You got balls i give you that.
>>3555185We haggled with the magic using dragon cultist after we turned her down.
>>3554676>You will purchase the Journeyman’s Kit. (300 GP)>You will attempt to haggle and/or barter. [Social Check]
>>3554676>>You will purchase The Lotus Twins. (650 GP)>>You will attempt to haggle and/or barter. [Social Check]
>>3554676I don't know which one I want more, but I'll definitely back the haggling
>>3554684>>3554686>>3554704>>3554734>>3554762>>3554804>>3554819>>3554828>>3555162>>3555185>>3555271>>3555367>>3555540>>3555709Artos beams as you pay him, bowing low as he accepts your coins. And it is with the tenderness of a mother that he repackages the items before presenting them to you. “Thank you kindly for patronizing our shop, young master.”“‘Our shop?’” you ask as you take the gift.“I am flattered that you would think me capable of running this entire operation. Alas, no, I have a partner with whom I share duties, expenses, and worst of all...profits!”The diminutive man shakes his head mournfully, but quickly recovers. “Still, he is as good a partner as anybody...but I’ll not waste your time with old stories. In the near future, should you come again for the Twins, Imperial coins are not the only fare I accept. In the ‘Floating World’, anything one owns can be used as mortgage or payment, as well as services rendered for the Shop’s behalf. No matter how seemingly small or insignificant it may appear to be valued, everything has its price...”And it is with those words that Artos bids you a good evening, thrusts a cup of tea into your hands and gently escorts you out the door...>>You have five days before the Festival of Spring Dawning, and Princess Ellana’s 9th birthday.>>How will you spend this time?>>Choose two:>Attempt to bond with your fellow Crownguard.>Begin deciphering the Black Grimoire.>Demonstrate your combat skills to Lady Katarina.>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.>Custom option.Made it safely to Hungary. Beautiful country, absolutely tasty food. Can’t promise anything beyond barebone mobile updates, but I’ll try the best I can until the thread 404s. Then, we’ll properly continue when I return.Additionally, interlude is on the fence. Working on a Klara and Empress snip, but is there anyone in particular who’s thoughts you’d like to see?
>>3556586>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.
>>3556586>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream....Can we duel Bellatrix and simply allow Katarina to watch?
>>3556586>Demonstrate your combat skills to Lady Katarina.By sparring Bellatrix>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
>>3556631>>3556636I’m gonna have to do a hard veto for “no” with that one. Given how...volatile Bellatrix can get, I think it would be for the better of everyone’s reputations to have any sort of conflict with Bellatrix resolved privately. Tbh, Kattie just wants some fencing lessons or whatever pointers you can give to the tomboyish noblewoman. So those options are mutually exclusive and can’t happen simultaneously for that reason.
>>3556636>>3556686My vote remains the same then, but without the Bellatrix addition
>>3556686Thanks for the clarification. I'll change >>3556631To >Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.
>>3556586>Demonstrate your combat skills to Lady Katarina.>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.
>>3556586>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.She is right it's bad form to leave a lady waiting.>Maybe we should tell our fellow Crowguards the shit we found in the journal. You know the likelyhiod of having a FUCKING REBEL LEADER somewhere in here
>>3556586>>Begin deciphering the Black Grimoire.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.
>>3556586>Begin deciphering the Black Grimoire.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.
>>3556586>Investigate and experiment with the Specter’s Dream.>Take Bellatrix up on an offer to duel before she gets too unruly.Make sure Archer is keeping an eye on us during this.
>>3556586>>Begin deciphering the Black Grimoire.>>Demonstrate your combat skills to Lady Katarina>>with beatrixspecter's dream is important, but isn't there something we can get to prepare for that? Maybe the dragon books know what this is.....or we just ask our mage what we look like while in the dream.I guess Serena didn't have anything to say about the specter, either.
>>3556593>>3556694>>3556716>>3556745>>3556771>>3556907>>3557232>>3557235>>3557240>>3557285Just before you change shifts, the Crownguard settle down for a meeting at your behest. And for the next ten minutes, you give them a brief explaination of what you discovered in the journal.Silverow is the first to respond. The sorcerer exhales heavily, turning behind him to make sure nobody is eavesdropping. An impossibility, given the privacy of the quarters the Crowmonds were given.“I don’t suppose you could’ve deciphered this sooner?” he muses, irritable as ever. “They say that ignorance is bliss, and this is certainly something that won’t ease what little slumber I’ll get.”“I only deciphered it yesterday,” you argue back.Urath grimaces, cutting in before Silverow can retort. “What is done is done. All left now to hunt this ‘Gargoyle.’”“I agree,” drawls Bellatrix, kicking up her boots upon the table where you sit. The barbarian knightess flashes her teeth in a predatory grin. “Damn shame puppy isn’t up and talking. I think between the four of us, we could’ve made him sing like one of the empress’ canaries. Although back home in Straxhult, we had this branding iron we’d bring out, just to make sure that you weren’t faking deep slumber...”...ignoring that particular piece of advice, you say, “Be that as it may, with or without Garro’s...cooperation, we’ve still got the man to track down.”Urath nods. “I agree. Question is...who is Gargoyle?”“I’m inclined to believe someone well-entrenched with the von Roies,” the sorcerer muses. “Perhaps the castellan or the man-at-arms, or some other high position given his experience with managing Vascieli cells.”“Or he’s some shit-sucking gutter rat,” offers Bellatrix.>The discussion ends with the four of you swearing to keep an eye out as you go about your daily duties.>>Over the next five days, you take time out of your schedule to devote experimentation with the Specter’s Dream, and to satisfy Bellatrix’s desire for a “friendly duel”.>Please roll 1d100+45 Combat (+30 Combat, +15 Lone Wolf)>Best out of five, one for each day.
Rolled 90 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
Rolled 70 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
Rolled 34 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
Rolled 1 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
Rolled 72 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
Rolled 77 + 45 (1d100 + 45)>>3557643
>>3557684RIP in peace, Painel
>>3557684Did we got violated?
>>3557647>>3557655>>3557675>>3557684>>3557686...there are several reasons as to why you might lose. You aren't so full of yourself as to think yourself invincible. After all, you are only as human as the next average person - anything that you can accomplish can be just as easily replicated by another, provided years of agonizing, soul-crushing training.But, you digress. Ignoring banalities such as the weather or a fatal slip on some ill-placed stone or root, the only reason you can think for your defeat is simple lack of focus. To be blunt, a severe distraction. And given what else you've been doing in your free time beyond performing your duties, you'd think that you've got more than a damn good reason to be concerned.After all, while you're just as human as the next man, it's not ever individual that has to deal with the fact that some incorporeal, spectral entity is feasting upon their soul.Faelinn gave you nothing in the way of an indication as to what the amulet would do. Thus far through the journey from Westholm to Mont Gormaic, you've refrained from using the Dream, catching brief bouts of slumber wherever you might catch them. Mercifully, they are devoid of any sort of haunting visions, lacking even the most basic of clarity beyond a wild, reeling blur of colors. They are...frantic, however, and more than once has someone had to rouse you before you began to thrash.But now in the relative security of Mont Gormaic, with no shortage of empty rooms for one to conduct their own business without fear of intrusion, you are more than ready to experiment. And figure out what the hell the amulet's supposed to do.On the first night, you wear it as you enter the Dream. Nothing seems to change; the world still peels away into shades of black, white and grey...And then the process is interrupted by a hideous scream, a bone-chilling howl that comes scant inches from the back of your skull. Somehow, you don't obey that primal instinct the noise triggers, to flee and hide and run away as far away as you can, and damn the consequences. As it is, in the corner of your vision, you're dimly aware of vicious talons, wicked digits as sharp and long as knives, attempting to grasp hold of your skull.That's when you notice the heat in your chest, a burning sensation hot enough to almost burn and boil flesh. The amulet Faelinn carved glows dangerously hot, a literal sun in a shadowy world devoid of all life and color. It hums and vibrates, pulsating like a heart; every beat sends a wave of energy roiling from its center, buffeting the Specter's malignant advance, shielding you from harm...>Defend yourself, attack the Specter.>Make an effort at communication.>Remove the amulet, see the result.I'm planning to write out the fight between Bellatrix, so don't worry about missing characterization or interactions. Just want to deal with the Specter's Dream research first, that way the fallout of that segues into the fight...
>>3565525>Make an effort at communication.That said, I don't think using the amulet is that good of an idea now.
>>3565525>Make an effort at communication.
>>3565525>>Make an effort at communication.
>>3556586>Additionally, interlude is on the fence. Working on a Klara and Empress snip, but is there anyone in particular who’s thoughts you’d like to see?This is really cool. Probably the most interesting ones to see. Maybe a Carris update? Or Faelinn's reaction to her haggling fail?
Kaz is too busy being a prancing lala homoman to write.
>>3565543>>3565560>>3565561>>3565601>>3565802>>3565814>>3565919>>3566312It comes to you unbidden, inspired by a genuine curiosity and complete and utter shock. The druid was not lying when he said that it was an ugly thing, but...this? The words that leave your lips are reflexive in that you don't otherwise think before speaking: "What the hell are you?"The only answer you recieve is another hideous shriek. The Specter redoubles its efforts to reach you, only to fall short with every pulse the amulet emits. It's impossible to tell what animates its attacks - animalistic instinct, akin to some starving beast that knows no better than a woodland creature? Or the humiliating rage of a sentient being denied its prey so tantalitzingly close?"What are you?" you repeat the question, this time with feeling. Beyond a professional standard and academic curiosity, there is a genuine desire, a burning _need_ to know as to what the Specter is. "Why do you haunt me?"Still no answer. But it only takes a handful of moments before the Specter realizes the futility of its actions. Its talons withdraw from the corner of your vision, far from beyond the most distant echoes that the amulet provides. The Specter makes no noise as it settles behind you, nothing beyond a dry, rattling rasp that echoes in the greyscale world...a colorless world save for its eyes and mouth, red orbs and a gaping maw that glow with an unnatural, malevolent crimson.The standstill continues for several hours, before you are forced to conclude that the Specter is either incapable of answering, or ignoring the questions. With an uncharacteristically angry noise, you end the Dream and return into the waking world...But there is plenty of time, more than enough for you to at least make some dent in the mystery of your unwanted passenger before Ellana's birthday and the festival of Spring Dawning. But, in hindsight, maybe it wasn't a good idea to spend too much time thinking to get the damned thing to talk. Especially in the middle of duels with a barbarian knightess.>>You have established contact with the Specter, who reacted negatively to Faelinn's amulet.>>In the days to come, what will you do to further communications with the creature?>Attempt to starve(?) the creature into submission.>Deny yourself the Dream and allow yourself true sleep.>Destroy the amulet as a sign of trust and goodwill.>Invite Silverow to acquire a sorcerer's perspective.>Remove the amulet and let it feed(?) upon you.>Custom option. (Write-in)>>3570956Whoever in Austria thought that it was a good idea to switch the "y" and "z" kezs on the kezboard on top of other szmbols and letters is a hillarious pränkster. No, reallz. Goddammit, this is a pain in the arse to tzpe. But there's än odd sort of thrill to be tzping an update in the lobbz of a four star hotel.
>>3571426>>Invite Silverow to acquire a sorcerer's perspective
>>3571426>Invite Silverow to acquire a sorcerer's perspective.
>>3571426>>Remove the amulet and let it feed(?) upon you.We might have a connection to its mind when it is feeding, allowing communications.
>>3571426>Remove the amulet and let it feed(?) upon you.Revealing the Specter to anyone sounds like a bad idea. Well, anyone that doesn't already knows what the Specter is at least.
>>3571426>Invite Silverow to acquire a sorcerer's perspective.Back to being a prancing Lala Homo man, huh?