You are Brother Richard Anscham. As a man of all the Gods, you are not concerned with the mundane. While you are forced to run for your life through city streets, the fire in the distance is as familiar to you as the current screams for your blood. While you're not fixated on the fifteen guards pursuing you with the intent of locking you away, they may be screaming debasement along with their threats. Titles such as "killer," "glutton," "masochist," "sinner," "preacher," and less savory things are no news to you. You are unquestionably known as such by the entire holy city of Calunoth as such, but it all comes second to being blamed for the actions of your unnamed order.This flight through the slums is towards your problems. Every one of the accusations directed at your congregation are a bold-faced lie. You have always been an honest, righteous man. The men and women you are responsible for were never to blame for poisoning half of the city, nor for the demon outbreak currently occurring. Fourteen of the fifty individuals you saved from the depths of the world remain, the majority having died before ever reaching the surface.Those of their order that remain alive are all known to you, and not simply due to the works of the Goddess of the Immaterial. Six months of their labor, two long weeks of your investigation, and the five individuals in your company are to truly thank. Brother Cyril Trebbeck has nearly died twice just this week. Ofelia Banks killed three men just this morning on your behalf (and more by the minute, as any guard reckless enough to approach your company falls). Brother Theodore Wilhelm may be rapidly labeled a heathen despite his devotion. Sister Harriet Cardew is itching to seek vengeance on every last enemy you know. Even your dog is a hero, and arguably the greatest one in your life.Their company is unwaveringly loyal, but they are fully capable of defending themselves, and are still not your immediate concern. The trouble really comes from your actual titles. More than the true conqueror of the ruins, an unprecedented diplomat, or a man of all the Gods: you are the rightful Father of the Church of Mercy, and the willful leader of your blasphemous congregation.Before taking off running— faster than anyone could hope to speak— the last words said to your company were absolute."I must save all of them."Archive (Ruins Arc 1-5, Recovery and the Church of Flesh 6-9, Calunoth Investigation 9-12): http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Catalyst%20QuestDiscord (Art, giant music playlist, fan projects, etc.): https://discord.gg/vd4xbtBrother Anscham's Journal (High-res maps and calendars, demons faced and more!): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1r-yFdCSj0VJi63LsD3Vl9T0DWw4us6wnThread Theme: https://youtu.be/tVkc6UF1mzI
>>4245139FIRST POST AAA
>>4245139Sprinting down a further series of narrow lanes, between the start of the wilderness, and into a break in the stone structures of the holy city, everyone's focus is on following your guidance to the letter. No wooden hovels or painted murals chronicling citizens lives exists here. Reverse-engineered waterworks, of a long- forgotten civilization, are your destination. Decayed, yes— disgusting, yes— but even the sewers are a welcome respite from the chaos you leave behind. Flying through winding back alleys, you have to narrowly duck to miss Ofelia's last throwing knife. The wet fwip of the blade sinking into your last pursuer's neck is unmistakable. Glancing behind to see the unrelenting guard stagger and fall face-first onto the road is unnecessary, but you don't trust there to not be something worse coming from around yet another corner. No one stops to grab you as you falter. They're sprinting ahead for their lives, and knowing you can catch up rapidly at a moment's notice.There is smoke and flame, licking at the horizon. It's still barely sunrise, but the city is in utter turmoil. A demon of Storm has risen from the cathedral ward, where you are certain two of your congregation reside. Running back to rejoin your allies, you tell yourself that the two priestesses of Mercy have to wait. Their need is only eclipsed by your own."Please. We must keep moving." Your plea is not only directed to your mastiff, who bolts into a narrow opening into Calunoth's sewers without a second's hesitation. There's no light to be seen coming from the narrow recess just ahead, and almost everyone else hesitates to enter. Only one individual in your company can truly see without sight. Ofelia, with eyes you bestowed from a Goddess, looks to everyone in your company with a grimace. Wiping a fair amount of blood from her palms, red-faced, she huffs, "right behind me, then."Nodding, Brother Wilhelm follows behind her, keeping close enough that you're certain his steps will not falter.His father certainly guided us both through worse.Only having paused to let down Sister Cardew from his arms, the oldest priest in your company immediately follows in behind her. "Try to keep up," Cyril smirks, not bothering to glance back.The less traveled priestess at your side can barely breathe, having fallen far behind your group only once. It was enough, as she is clearly struggling with her poor lungs. Straight-lipped, Sister Cardew grabs firmly onto your arm, and sneers, "they'd be half as insane as any of us to give chase. Go on. I'll keep up."It's not that you were waiting for permission to move forward. The few twitches of the corpse down the road simply reminded you so much of a demon of resurrection, you needed to make sure he was staying down.Fearlessly, you step once more into the darkness. (2/3)
>>4245144Ofelia's whispered directions to keep safe footing are mandatory. Ray was waiting right at the entrance, and is soon on your heels. The entire passage is unbearably dank, reeking of moss and filth. Harriet makes work of a hooded lantern within moments. "There."Branching paths greet you, illuminated in mind's eye by the gift of two Goddesses. Feverishly muttering a prayer of thanks to Spirit and Mercy, you pull ahead to the front of the group with Harriet in tow. Everyone looks expectantly to you, as you wind through a single, unmarked tunnel. The dimensions of each subsequent passage are varied, though the surrounding conditions continue to worsen. You manage a brisk stride, fighting down every urge to not sprint ahead.At least an hour must go by. Your nerves are on fire, and not only from how long it's taking to proceed. Almost simultaneously, you and Ofelia move to warn everyone."Mind the fuckin'—""Please cover your—"Irritated by the situation, pulling up her cloak about her face, a muffled, "go ahead, Richard," can be heard from behind."Thank you," you murmur. The padding of everyone's leather insoles on water, stone and muck further interjects your continued soft speech. "The Flea Circus—""The what now?" Cyril unhelpfully whispers."Three members of my congregation. They know the city better than any other men alive, and are deep underground—""Why the—""I can explain later," you mutter. "We must move quickly. I know they will, as well— but I cannot risk any further injury to you all. Please cover your faces." Black mold leers at you in almost every direction. "The air here is foul— and the growth is far fouler."No one complains further, save for Ray. His growling comes at least another half hour into the musky descent, in conjunction with Theodore's voice. You have to quiet your dog to hear the priest clearly. "Hush, Ray. Brother Wilhelm, if you could repeat—""Of course. Worse things to worry about ahead. Worse things still behind. I believe Ray has the right idea."Your boy is outright snarling at something unseen. Everyone moves.Ofelia throws her hood up, and practically vanishes ahead, without further warning. Harriet calmly parts herself from your arm, that you can better take up your sword. "Cyril, I'm putting the light down." She snips, "on my right." He's already at her side, flexing a metal-lined fist. "There were footsteps in the runoff."There's no Time to confirm Harriet's observation. On your right, there's rapid motion. You smell more black mold being kicked into the air long before seeing an attacker. The heightened sensitivity to so much life and death being crushed underfoot was surely from your recent invocations to Agriculture, but it wouldn't take a Goddess to warn you of an imminent threat.(Options in next post.)
>>4245146>A] Ask Harriet to keep her light up. You really need to see who might be coming, no matter what she and Ofelia might have in mind.>1] Ask everyone to stay their hand, even if there's imminent danger. You're here for diplomacy.>2] Ask everyone to mind themselves, but do nothing to intervene on your behalf. You are simply sick of being in the dark, more so than your reluctance to order anyone around.>B] Don't give any commands, knowing you'll be in the dark. Trust in Ofelia and Ray to take out anyone that might threaten you all. Simply stick close to the other humans in your company. >1] Sword out.>2] Mace and shield up.>C] Whisper to everyone where to keep moving, and ask them to trust in your guidance. You don't have a second to waste.>1] Invoke Spirit, to be granted vision of the immaterial. Immediately identifying any sinners or blasphemers in the area could be invaluable.>2] Invoke Agriculture, to dramatically heighten your attunement to the life, death and growth in-between all of your surroundings.>D] Write-in.
>>4245148>>B] Don't give any commands, knowing you'll be in the dark. Trust in Ofelia and Ray to take out anyone that might threaten you all. Simply stick close to the other humans in your company.>2] Mace and shield upWe need to be on the defense here, a shield covers us even if we can't see.Tell Ofelia to not kill anyone that might look like a member of our congregation.
>>4245162>>4245178>>4245180(Let's get this show on the road! Locking the vote here, writing now.)
>>4245185(Got you too bro, was too quick on the draw. My b.)
>>4245148>A] Ask Harriet to keep her light up. You really need to see who might be coming, no matter what she and Ofelia might have in mind.>2]
>>4245186Scrambling to mentally sift through distinctive markers and appearances of fourteen men and women, you sheath Piety, and swing the entire bulk of your matte black shield down. Moving in front of your more vulnerable company, you hiss out, "Ofelia." There's no response, but you pray she can hear, and continue, "do not kill anyone that may be of our congregation."Harriet shuts the hood of her lantern. The world goes dark.The heft of your mace is nowhere near as distinctive as you remember it being. Tensing your off-hand against the (relatively) lightweight weapon, taking care to not keep the lethally sharpened flanges near any of the company at your side, you tense harder. A bolt of electricity shoots up your spine, and you spin, towards the offending wet crunch to your right.Cyril darkly laughs, wrestling someone to the floor.A level voice from Brother Wilhelm, now just behind you remarks, "left."Bracing hard, you lean and turn straight into the body of three potential attackers. Each subsequent thunk against your shield is not of a weapon, but a body, or some other form of..."Richard! Cyril! Rope?! For what possible—?!" The woman at your back shrieks.There's another shout, from an unheard voice. It intermingles with several expletives from Cyril. Both are so obscene, as they fight to keep each other down, that you try to focus more on the words that follow. Another body slams into the front of you, keeping you from fully turning back. The voice you hear comes from further down the passage."Let 'er go," Ofelia's voice drips, with as much venom as you suspect is slaking the edge of her weapon. "Our buddy here asked me to not kill any of ya'."There's a collective shifting, as multiple unseen figures move towards her voice."This one here won't walk again anytime soon. 'Specially not if you all go runnin' away from an antidote." A wet, meaty noise punctuates the scent of decay. Blood is on the air. "Stay back. Bet yer boss wouldn't kill ya' for abandonin' yer friend nearly as fast as Ray did here. "He only would have killed to save his own life. These men fear us infinitely more than my own pursuers.Another unseen form, and yet another different tone seers, "you bitch—!" Footsteps rapidly kick up water, in shadow and a tuft of more black spores.Cyril's form is gone from your side, as he clearly rushes ahead, to blindly tackle an entire group of unseen attackers to the floor.(Options in next post.)
>>4245248>A] Shout to Cyril, and to everyone else, to stay down. Take advantage of every bit of intimidation on your side. They might not all listen, but you're willing to try.>B] Grab Theodore, to protect him, and charge behind to try and intercept whoever is dragging Harriet away. You're trying to not panic, but losing her is unthinkable.>C] Charge with Cyril towards Ofelia, to try and de-escalate whatever nightmare is about to rain on the assassin. Pray that Harriet can take care of herself, and order Ray to follow her for good measure.>D] This situation requires a lot more nuance than what you're used to. It's highly likely that your congregation has survived this long through the merit of their intelligence, as well. (Write-in.)
>>4245252>B] Grab Theodore, to protect him, and charge behind to try and intercept whoever is dragging Harriet away. You're trying to not panic, but losing her is unthinkable.
>>4245252>C] Charge with Cyril towards Ofelia, to try and de-escalate whatever nightmare is about to rain on the assassin. Pray that Harriet can take care of herself, and order Ray to follow her for good measure.
>>4245252>A] Shout to Cyril, and to everyone else, to stay down. Take advantage of every bit of intimidation on your side. They might not all listen, but you're willing to try.
>>4245252>>B] Grab Theodore, to protect him, and charge behind to try and intercept whoever is dragging Harriet away. You're trying to not panic, but losing her is unthinkable.
>>4245260>>4245293>>4246466>>4245311>>4245335(Good morning everyone! Was extremely sick yesterday and hopefully will have a little more steam in me after sleeping for around 20 hours. Vote is locked, writing now!)
>>4246822Inner turmoil sinks into you nearly as hard as each blow against your shield. Main arm already aching, wasting not even a single further second, you abandon all pretense of attacking. Yech's mace goes back to your side, closer than the young priest adjacent. Hiding behind your guard, Theodore gratefully accepts your further protection in form of a quick arm around him. Rather than waste precious Time on explanations, you fire off a command. "Ray! Guard Harriet—!"You're greeted in reply by a snarl, a rush of wind through the darkness, and unquestionably Ray's form bolting in the direction of your friend. Blindly, gritting your teeth, and ignoring the burn through your entire body, you push forward and stagger back what sounds like four men. Turning quickly around, muttering to your ward, "stay close," you break the defense just enough to turn you both around and charge in the same direction Ray was headed.Rapid footsteps through utter blackness, shield at the ready, with your dog in the lead and towards certain danger nearly takes you back.Ripping yourself hard out of the reprieve, trying to ignore the screams and collapse of figures from Cyril and Ofelia, you fire only one warning. "Stay DOWN. All of you."A few footsteps falter, just ahead, and it's enough confirmation that you have the right location. Colliding with intense pain all through your shoulder, against the metal of your shield, slamming into bliss, you don't dare to drop your weight or defense. Rather, staggering back, making sure Brother Wilhelm is righted, you look wildly around.Ofelia lit a torch. The scene registers in an instant. A man and a woman are at her feet, both dressed in rags, unconscious, and bleeding from their lips. Every single person within the closest radius of her light recoils, keeping a hand to their filthy faces. All are dressed in a similar state of disarray. Six more are directly behind you, all trying to extract themselves from being shoved back, onto each other, and to get further from the light. A pile of bodies, five-high, are beside Cyril, as he gains momentum and wrestles another into a hold. He's shouting something, but you can't hear his likely boasting over the muffled shriek behind you. It's from Sister Cardew, who's had her arms and legs bound. It would seem four vagrants were attempting to drag her away. Two are on the ground, having been successfully knocked over. One is dead, his face having been ripped clean off. A few flecks of the meat are still hanging from Ray's lips, as he growls to the offenders, keeping both eyes on his target.One of the men keeping Harriet bound is holding out a knife, which Brother Wilhelm helpfully ignores. "You're hesitating," the priest remarks, keeping stoically behind your shield. "Sister Cardew, are you alright?"(1/2)
>>4246857Someone's shoved a filthy rag into her mouth. She nods, and you catch a glimpse of a knife in her own hand. It's palmed, and she barely has an inch of give below the rope about her arms, but she flashes the blade to you quickly.The men still holding onto the priestess are strangers to you. In fact, you don't recognize a single one of the seventeen individuals you've counted throughout the cavern. Neither in the second it's taken to react, and not as you take a bold step forward, firmly cautioning, "do not make me repeat myself."Wincing from the torch light at your back, both of Sister Cardew's captors don't even look to each other. The one to the left, with a stringy beard and narrow shoulders, waves his knife. "What's in it for us, then?"The one to his right, in a nasally voice, drawls, "yeaa.">A] Politely inform both men of who you are. Maybe they'll be more inclined to move knowing that the king's guard is on your tail, and that you're technically a member of it as well. You're an honest man. The truth could be construed as a threat...>1] ...and that's fine by you. Order Ray to attack and kill both men if they don't immediately release Harriet. He might get hurt— but they are hopefully not willing to die over Sister Cardew's capture.>2] ...and that's enough. Order Ray to stay down, just for now.>B] You are not negotiating with anyone over your friend's safety. Make your business known. If they're working for your congregation, there should be no conflict of interest here. Order Ray to stay down, as a measure of good will, but nod to Harriet to attack if they try anything.>C] You're not in a position to be asking questions. Nod to Harriet to stab the man who's holding onto her, charge them both, and order everyone else in your company to run for it. Ofelia has crippled two people in this company, and you're fine living with that if it means ensuring your friend's safety. She's killed today over less, after all.>D] Despite being practically destitute, you have a few options, and really don't want any more needless bloodshed. There's very little Time at your disposal for this nonsense.>1] Promise you'll invoke Mercy, to heal both of the people crippled here— IF you'll all be permitted to move along unscathed. This might be a hideous misunderstanding. Even if it isn't, you don't want any further harm to befall anyone.>2] You're not as naive as most people make you out to be. Offer something to these scoundrels of equivalent value as a young woman. (Write-in.)>E] Write-in.
>>4246858>>B] You are not negotiating with anyone over your friend's safety. Make your business known. If they're working for your congregation, there should be no conflict of interest here. Order Ray to stay down, as a measure of good will, but nod to Harriet to attack if they try anything.Also get ready to tell Ray to attack if they do something fucky.
>>4246858>C] You're not in a position to be asking questions. Nod to Harriet to stab the man who's holding onto her, charge them both, and order everyone else in your company to run for it. Ofelia has crippled two people in this company, and you're fine living with that if it means ensuring your friend's safety. She's killed today over less, after all.
>>4246858>>B] You are not negotiating with anyone over your friend's safety. Make your business known. If they're working for your congregation, there should be no conflict of interest here. Order Ray to stay down, as a measure of good will, but nod to Harriet to attack if they try anything.If they aren't with our guys then C
>>4246858>A] Politely inform both men of who you are. Maybe they'll be more inclined to move knowing that the king's guard is on your tail, and that you're technically a member of it as well. You're an honest man. The truth could be construed as a threat...>1] ...and that's fine by you. Order Ray to attack and kill both men if they don't immediately release Harriet. He might get hurt— but they are hopefully not willing to die over Sister Cardew's capture.
>>4246861>>4246864>>4246876>>4247222(Nice. Locking the vote here. Should be able to incorporate most of this. Writing now!)
>>4247268"Time," you promptly reply, with a few gestures to Ray. You're likely twitchy enough that the motion to attack and kill both men upon any further command won't garner any further scrutiny. Judging by the way both men shift uncomfortably in place, it would seem they have no idea what you've done."Eh?" "The feck is he on about—""Time to escape," you continue, only nodding to the cavern behind for fear of taking your eyes off of anyone else before you. "Time to decide how to handle well over a dozen of the King's guard— including one standing before you. Technically speaking. One who has made every attempt to show you Mercy, and will continue to do so now." Another step forward.Both men bristle. "Watchit—" "Oi—""Excuse me. It would seem you are both mistaken." Another wave to Ray, and a glance to Harriet. She's pale, but keeps her jaw tight, not daring to nod back. "This is no peace offering— let alone a negotiation. You see," you make a point to stand in place, "you both have been wasting my Time. The Time of my people. I will happily have everyone in my company stand down, and leave you be— if you are working for the same men. Randall Holland. Norward Bauldry. Victor Bonamy...?"Their expressions are inscrutable."Don't work fer nobuddy," the nasally rogue continues to whine, tightening his hold on Harriet."Are you certain," you mutter.There's utterly no sign of recognition in their eyes."My other men will be coming, soon. Eager for battle. Eager for blood. I have given you all the Time I could ask for— and I will gladly take it back. Release her. Now. Ray," you plainly state, raising a hand for show, though there's no need to give your boy further instruction, "on my command.""Oi oi oi oi," the man with the knife balks, taking a few steps back. "No need fer all that—"His companion is having none of it. "It's a fuckin' bluff. The stiff wouldn't 'ave it in 'im—"You nod, towards Harriet. She trusts you to kill at a moment's notice. Twisting her wrist, she drives the blade in hand straight into the thigh behind her. The grip around her seems to tighten, for only a moment, which is more than enough for you to run ahead, and tackle the man with Ray in tow. The sight of your charge is clearly enough to shake his grip on the young woman, who pries herself away at the last moment, before you and the offending scoundrel collapse together onto the sewer floor.The fall is hard, damp, and perfect.There's shouting from behind, of redoubled chaos. Theodore's and Harriet's light footsteps pick up, back, and away from the spectacle. Most of the impact went into your shield arm, again, and the blossoming pain is almost a lethal distraction. A knife slashes at least four times around your neck and shoulders.(1/2)
>>4247446You almost laugh, having worn a padded gambeson for the last three days straight. With his charge distracted, Ray gleefully digs his teeth into the neck of your attacker. It's hard to not grin, as you shift, pinning the man's weapon and wrist down in his momentary panic. The mastiff at your side, your boy and your best friend eats his face off.Just like I taught him.Wet gnashing and the suck of Flesh being pulled clean off of bone interjects only a second or two of miserable screaming.Getting back to your feet, not bothering to linger your gaze on the chunks of bright red meat still spurting and pulsing beneath Ray's efforts, you look instead to the other rogue. He splutters, "Mick."You look back to him, as unamused as humanly possible. "Why did you not say so—""Nothin' he could do worse to me than that. I'm no sell-out— I won't say a word. Just let me go." His voice drops, clearly more terrified of whatever could be pursuing you. "...'fore all yer men come runnin'."Waving a hand to Ray, to keep tabs on the rogue, you dare a glance behind. Cyril is still wrestling with his target, as both men seem completely distracted from your spectacle. Virtually everyone else seems entirely too on edge to make further motion. The bonds around Harriet are rapidly being cut away with Theodore's help, and Ofelia is keeping a pointed blade out towards each and every remaining scoundrel that can still stand.>A] Stay just a minute longer, if only to put everyone's nerves on edge. There are few things you detest more than people wasting your Time, and this could not have been more of a nuisance. It's not that you're petty. You simply don't want anyone chasing you down.>B] You want the name of this man beside you, and some accountability. You won't deal with Norward's misbehaved rogues personally, but you'd certainly like to give him the opportunity to do so himself. Make it clear to the scoundrel that this information is going straight to his superior...>1] ...and you'd like his company, in the meantime. The rest of his men can fend for themselves.>2] ...and you'd like him to make sure no one else has to die for this extreme insolence. Inform the man he'll be personally accountable for any further dilemmas, particularly if they come about from you losing out on Time.>C] Let him go, along with the rest of Mick's men. You're REALLY not a killer, and this has already left a horrifically bad taste in your mouth. Unless your Flea Circus moved very recently, you should know the way to them. Wash your hands of this matter, and leave the corpse as a warning for the guards on your tail.>D] Write-in.
>>4247449>B] You want the name of this man beside you, and some accountability. You won't deal with Norward's misbehaved rogues personally, but you'd certainly like to give him the opportunity to do so himself. Make it clear to the scoundrel that this information is going straight to his superior...>1] ...and you'd like his company, in the meantime. The rest of his men can fend for themselves.
>>4247449>>B] You want the name of this man beside you, and some accountability. You won't deal with Norward's misbehaved rogues personally, but you'd certainly like to give him the opportunity to do so himself. Make it clear to the scoundrel that this information is going straight to his superior...>2] ...and you'd like him to make sure no one else has to die for this extreme insolence. Inform the man he'll be personally accountable for any further dilemmas, particularly if they come about from you losing out on Time.
>>4247533>>4247597(Cool cool, locking the vote here. Can certainly work these both together. Writing now!)
>>4248116Panting nearly as hard as Ray, righting yourself, and standing at your full height, it seems as if you tower over the rogue at your side. Ignoring the corpse, and looking straight to the blade still pointed towards you, there's only one thing on your mind."The truth of it, then. Your name.""Larry. Mum called me Laurence. You call me whatever the feck you want, so long as I can—""You're coming with us," you mutter, ignoring the knife, and putting a free hand firmly to a trembling shoulder. Your target is terrified, and winces even under the slight grasp. "This— this extreme insolence— you are to ensure that no one else has to die here. Not under your watch." The low torchlight behind you casts a shadow neatly from your height, down to the man at your side. From the shadow, your voice is soft, and certain. "Do I make myself clear?""C-crystal," the newly appointed leader stammers, and barks to everyone else in the room, "YE HEARD 'EM. OUT! LEST YE WANT YER FACES TORN OFF— AND I'LL SEE TAE WORSE. OUT!"No one hesitates, most keeping their eyes on the corpse at yours and Ray's feet. Your boy isn't playing with the kill, but earnestly looking up to you, knowing full well that your nerves are still shot. There's tatters on your collar, from glancing blows and a knife that should have killed you. Pulse racing, breath level only through righteous indignation, you tighten the hold on the man at your side. "Mick. You'll be following us. To him, and to guarantee accountability for— for what's transpired here."With a trepidant step, Laurence staggers ahead, in the same direction you were initially traveling.The Gods are Merciful.Spirit's guidance seems to have been spot on. Parting your hold from the rogue, with a warning glance, his beady eyes dart away from yours for a blessed moment. "You've wasted enough of our Time," you mutter, and glance away to the rest of your company. Everyone seems to be relatively uninjured. Ofelia has a few slashes along her right sleeve, administering some antidote to the two fallen figures at her feet. Cyril's arms are thoroughly bruised, but both fighters should be more than capable of keeping up."We need to keep moving. Let's go."https://youtu.be/CdpBFsi2Gg4Moving ahead to the front of your group, Harriet quickly runs up to your side. The remaining rogues— the ones who Ofelia has not administered any antidotes to— completely scatter as you pass. The priestess beside you has her lantern back, burning hot. There's more figures scarcely illuminated, leering from the shadows as you pass by."Thank you," she rapidly whispers. "Thank you so much."(1/3)
>>4248219Grimacing, nodding slightly to her, you accept an extremely hesitant hold back on your arm. She's shaking like a leaf, and the skin about her hands is still slick with blood. The moment she realizes you're still shaken, there's a stiffness up her spine, and Sister Cardew gives you a stern glance. "We'll be alright. I'll be alright."The rest of your friends are quickly beside and behind you, with only Ofelia completely pulling ahead. "Got some company," the blonde mutters, rapidly glancing about the many eyes littering the walls.Several dozen figures occupy the deepest recesses of the sewers, as you continue your procession behind Laurence. No objects of value or anything more than makeshift shelter leers out from the darkness, but countless figures do. The rogue keeps right ahead, and doesn't need to gesture for anyone in the darkness to stay back. Though the passages are dank, winding and covered in black mold, the denizens of this hidden and forgotten district do not want any further conflict. Not with someone else vouching for your passage.The underbelly of the city makes way for deeper, wetter, and far colder tunnels still. A familiar chill creeps along the back of your neck. The trickle of water, and dozens of footsteps in the dark has you twitching, looking about intently for larger demons. Halfway expecting something bolder, brasher, and screaming to conquer the ruins— wanting for the phantom pain of a spear, skewering into your shoulder—"Richard." The tug on your arm tightens, enough to pull your attention back to a small woman at your side. Harriet's glasses catch on the light, shrouding the concern in her eyes. "We're all right here. You with me?"Ray whines a little at your side. Sister Cardew's hold on you is tight enough that you've nearly forgotten the pain in your shield arm. It's an immediate comfort. "Yes," you murmur in reply."This is still the way?"Nodding, swallowing a wave of copper from biting down on your own lip, you look ahead. There's a gathering of no fewer than a dozen men and women, about small flame, and makeshift shelter. At their center are three unbearably familiar figures, who already have their eyes on your approach. You've never had the opportunity to truly meet them, but there they are. Three members of your congregation, six months after rescuing two of their number. It's been a scarce four months since you abandoned the other, and he looks as insane as you recall.A brute of a man, who's shoulders and height rival your own, laughs out loud as Larry staggers forward and starts firing off apologies. His face is almost completely shrouded, through the sheer number of weapons adorning his belt and sides are visible even behind his cloak. In a deep voice, Norward "Mick" Bauldry calls out, "the fuck did you do now?"(2/3)
>>4248224"He killed Harold," the rogue stammers, tripping over himself, "and this little cunt over here tried snuffin' out Mary and Leaves—" there's a broad gesture back, towards Ofelia.The assassin's sarcasm is nearly as toxic as the air. "Nothin' they couldn't walk off."Mick is actually behind another man. You scarcely noticed him, dressed entirely in black, despite his portly frame. Randall "Randy" Holland leers a little towards your company, taking a few steps forward, practically swaggering as he does so. Smearing his mustache aside, tossing back his hood, you're greeted by a round face and a grin so lecherous that Harriet recoils beside you."Pleasure," he drawls, in a high voice. "You must be Ms. Cardew. Ms. Banks," he calls out, not daring to approach the rogue, "a pleasure as well."Both women don't reply. Beady eyes, sunk unbearably deep into the socket, catch on the light. They're of muted gold, recognizable in an instant, and mirror that of one other member of your congregation just nearby. Randy looks up to you, and whispers, "Father Anscham. Don't mean to forget my manners. I wasn't expecting you to come with so many friends."A twitchy figure, beside Mick, looks to you with practically protruding eyes. They're unfailingly familiar, and absolutely not of your original congregation. Victor "Mad Dog" Bonamy last saw you while he was strapped down to a bed of straw, screaming about the Gods abandoning him, in the exterior ward of Beorward. He possibly looks more unhinged now, though he remains silent, and is scrutinizing your every move closely.(Options in next post.)
>>4248228>A] Play it cool. As cool as you can. You are not a cool man, and have a multitude of social barriers, but by all the Gods you are going to TRY and navigate this situation carefully. (A ROLL MAY BE REQUIRED. Write-ins may be of extreme benefit or forgo the need for a roll entirely.)>B] Remain as honest and prudish as you always have. These men have never known you, and this isn't exactly what you wanted to see, either. Introduce yourself and your friends, formally, and state your business:>1] That you are in desperate need of their help, to locate the rest of your congregation.>2] That you need to disband the entirety of the congregation, and want to have nothing to do with ordering these men around.>C] Fuck formality. Your life is too weird for subtlety, and people are dying in the streets. You're trying to not panic, and legitimately don't have Time for this. Bluntly lay out the situation at hand, and...>1] Express your extreme distaste with Mick's men trying to take away Harriet.>2] Demand to know why you were assaulted.>3] Demand Larry explain the debacle, on your behalf. Leave it to your congregation to decide what to make of it.>D] Delicately, tactfully, try to be decent. It's not warranted here in the slightest, but you are a man of the Gods, not some sinner. Even if associating with these men has tarnished your reputation beyond all measure, you are determined to be the better man. Try and get off on the right foot. Try to be kind. You are known to your congregation as the Father of the Church of Mercy, and will live up to your title.>E] Write-in.
>>4248231>Fuck formality. Your life is too weird for subtlety, and people are dying in the streets. You're trying to not panic, and legitimately don't have Time for this. Bluntly lay out the situation at hand, and...>>1] Express your extreme distaste with Mick's men trying to take away Harriet.Let me cum in your mouth OP
>>4248231>C] Fuck formality. Your life is too weird for subtlety, and people are dying in the streets. You're trying to not panic, and legitimately don't have Time for this. Bluntly lay out the situation at hand, and...>2] Demand to know why you were assaulted.>>4248302Let me come for you instead
>>4248231>C] Fuck formality. Your life is too weird for subtlety, and people are dying in the streets. You're trying to not panic, and legitimately don't have Time for this. Bluntly lay out the situation at hand, and...>1] Express your extreme distaste with Mick's men trying to take away Harriet.
>>4248302>>4248319>>4248388(Locking the vote here, we can work with this. Writing now!)
>>4248493(Wouldn't be a late night update without a missed dialogue tag. Please F5/refresh if the old post is still displaying.)
>>4248493https://youtu.be/rPmqnn9LidINerves on end, trying to ignore the sear in your legs, the fire in your chest, the throb in your skull and the relief that is coursing through your right arm, you try to take a few deep breaths.It doesn't help.Pulling away, hard, from Harriet, it's easy enough to wrap your free hand to where you're still carrying your shield. Pressing deeper down on the source of pleasure, you fight through a little more pain. Fighting back any noise that should be produced, you sneer, "I cannot say the same, Randall.""What a load of shit. You're lookin' a little peachy yourself, Father." His grin somehow gets greasier, "these ladies not taking proper care of you?"Mick is still laughing."Your men," you bark, to the hyena, "and your behavior— is an embarrassment.""You've got no place to talk," Mad Dog happily barks back. "Some fuckin' freak show, right? You bring kids to places like this often? Father? Not going to correct him, either? Hypocrite. You still haven't fucking answered me. Five months now, is it? Father? When's the last time you heard that?"Trying to not let your pulse get carried away, and ignoring the comment about Theodore, you seethe, "I still do not have the Time to spare on heathens, sinners, and blasphemers. The city is ablaze—""Who's fault is that, I wonder?""Shut the fuck up, Victor." Randall whips his head from the sinner, back to you, with a slimier smile. "Excuse him.""No," you continue to snipe. "I came here to ask for your aid, and I see you can't even manage to wrest control over a group of rogues and thieves. Is assault your idea of a welcoming committee—""Yeah," Norward immediately interrupts. "It is."You blink. "Excuse me?"The behemoth of a man takes a few steps forward. The water and mold underfoot ripples. "You think we're going to come to anyone's heel after five Gods-forsaken months? You didn't save shit, Father. We fought, and we waited, and we lost. It's over.""Do you honestly believe," you match his steps, bristling, matching his height and anger, "that I would want the aid of rapists and heathens for anything less than to save your own skin?""Richard," Cyril manages to take a step forward, caution in his tone. You immediately snap to the blonde. "Not NOW, Cyril."He shrugs, keeping his arms crossed, but remains firmly behind you.Staring daggers to the scoundrel before you is necessary. The gold in your eyes reflects off of each others, in the high lantern light. "I find your treatment of Sister Cardew distasteful, Mr. Bauldry." His eyes narrow. Yours widen. "If you wish to test the merit of my company, you ought to take your concerns up with me. Personally."(1/2)
>>4248557He laughs, again, but this time in your face. "Sure thing. Was real great tryin' to get a hold of you halfway across the country. You think you're hot shit, hiding and running from everyone who might have wanted to help you?""Leave it," Randy smiles. "It's really not worth it."Furiously, you practically shout, "our sisters are dying. The city is in turmoil. It is in my hands to aid you all. It is entirely within our capability to put a stop to all this idiocy. Everyone has the audacity to call me insane, and I seem to be the only soul capable of not exacerbating—!""Oh, aren't you full of yourself," Victor snips. "Suppose getting fat off our hard work was your idea of thanks, too, Father? You think they'd let us go? You think these sick bastards didn't leave for that shit heap— those ruins— a whole mile under for good fucking reason? You think Daddy Sullivan doesn't have the hounds out for me? What makes you think we wanted to even see you?"He mutters, mostly to himself, but entirely loud enough for everyone to hear. "Fuckin' lunatic. Bringing fuckin' kids and women to a place like this. Giving us a hard time."(Options in next post.)
>>4248562>Feel free to provide additional suggestions or comments for any of the following.>These prompts may not be mutually exclusive.>A] Threaten these scoundrels into aiding you. Make your intentions explicit. If they won't join you willingly, you're going to make them understand.>1] Immediately invoke Spirit. Imbue the knowledge of the situation at hand into Norward, as he's within arm's distance, and let anyone TRY and stop you. (Write-in if you'd like to order Cyril to keep anyone else at bay, or try to surprise the rogue and do so silently.)>2] Make it clear that you are not afraid to spill blood in the name of your cause, and PLENTY of guards are on their way. Stress that this is no longer a safe haven— and that there will be nowhere these men can truly hide, so long as they fail to aid you.>B] Mick WAS testing you. Propose that you really earn the loyalty of these men. You don't need intimidation or the Gods. Your congregation has upheld your name for months because of what YOU are capable of doing.>1] You'll fight Norward, and the victor will decide if he assists you or not. Leave it to Randy and Mad Dog to decide who to follow.>2] Argue with Mad Dog. He's a heathen, but his lack of faith is fundamentally misplaced. Surely, his lack of loyalty towards these other two scoundrels will cement his actual allegiance to your cause. Mick and Randy might get a little more respect for you in the process.>3] Charm Randy. He's disgusting, but easily the most agreeable of the bunch. You don't want to get along with him, but he seems the most reasonable, if only for all the wrong reasons. Pray that he can convince his companions into aiding you, as well.>C] Fuck it. These men are despicable, clearly have only touted your name for their own benefit, and you're wasting precious Time. Cut your losses. Your mission IS ultimately to disband your congregation.>1] Leave this place as quickly as possible. There is a small army of guards likely at your back, and people actually worth saving in the city above. It hurts, but you are going to abandon these men a second Time, and NOT look back.>2] Tie THEM up, and stall. Talk to them, argue, do anything in your power to ensure that the King's guard catches up. They'll likely be captured, you may severely put off the pursuit at your back, and you won't have truly taken shit from anyone.>D] Write-in.
>>4248564>B] Mick WAS testing you. Propose that you really earn the loyalty of these men. You don't need intimidation or the Gods. Your congregation has upheld your name for months because of what YOU are capable of doing.>1] You'll fight Norward, and the victor will decide if he assists you or not. Leave it to Randy and Mad Dog to decide who to follow.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B62ACxuq8Pw
>>4248564>>D] Write-in."You're right. We are all fucking lunatics. And I have no place to talk, but I will anyway. I am sorry. I am sorry for leaving you for 5 months while I selfishly took care of myself. I don't want you under my heel, I never did. Everyone who follows me does so of their own volition, and I will *not* abandon you again. I know I could have done so much more, I know you fought and waited, but you have *not* lost. *This is all very far from being over*. Why do you think I went to the ruins, Victor? *What do you think made me want to see the sun again?* Sullivan has his hounds out for all of us, King's men are on our tail as we speak. I am afraid we don't have that much time. You said you wanted to help. I only have ever wanted to help you too, and even if it's hard to believe...I really am glad to see all of you."
>>4248596+1 kinda gay tho
>>4248570(Appreciate you man but since this is in direct opposition to the overwhelming majority, going to go with>>4248596>>4248913>>4248989Vote is locked. Might take a few extra minutes, but writing now!)
>>4249097A slap in the face would have been a preferable reality check. You take a few more breaths, and shove down the urge to beat down Mick or anyone else in your company.A few more moments pass. It properly sets in that you've risked your life countless times just to find these men. To think of their sacrifices, despite their flaws— and their risks, *because* of how convicted they are.Or were.Choking down a wave of self-resentment, you murmur, "you're right.""A little louder," Victor drawls."Shut the FUCK up," Randall snaps."We're all lunatics," you assert. No one dares to contradict you. Mick chuckles. "...and I have no place to talk. You're right."Before anyone can give you further sass, you softly ask, "will you permit me to speak at length, anyways?"Victor pretends to balk, while Randall shows you the palms of his hands. It's the symbol of your church, and pulls immediately at your heart strings. "Sure," the lecher grins. "Go on then."Your voice cracks. It might be from nearly dying less than ten minutes ago, or how much you've gone through just to get here. "I'm sorry."There's a wince, from the Godless man just ahead. Mick's shoulders stiffen slightly, and Randall's smile falters, but you press on. "I'm sorry for abandoning you all— for *every* selfish second of the last half a *year.*"Everyone is very quiet. The drip of sewer water doesn't punctuate the conviction or regret sinking into your voice. "I looked ONLY after myself. I could have done so much more."The small priestess at your side moves to interject, but seems to think better of it, and remains silent."I don't want anyone under my heel," you murmur, glancing to the friends at your back. They all look horrifically stressed, exhausted and nervous. "I never have," you murmur, "and I never will."Looking back to the men before you, their strain and neuroticism, you assert, "if you wish to aid me, I pray it would be of your own volition. I know you have fought. I know you have waited."Gritting your teeth, putting your shield up, so that you can wring your hands together, you plead. "You have NOT lost."The madman just across the way takes a few brisk steps forward, opening his mouth to argue further. You don't budge an inch.He doesn't interrupt, seeing you making no motion to move. Randall bristles, firing a warning glare to his compatriot, but Victor stops an arms distance away.You continue, "our battles are far— so far from being over—" you fight down a little nervous laughter, struggling to keep your sanity, "why do you think *I* went to the ruins, Victor?"He doesn't bother stating the obvious. You glance back to the woman in your company who made the same journey. Ofelia is trembling. With a murmur, directly to her, you manage, "what reason might I have had, to ever want for the sun again?"(1/2)
>>4249238Whipping your head back around, before any scoundrel can interject, more regret still sinks into your tone. "Sullivan's hounds are out for ALL of us. The King's men are on our tail, even as we speak. I AM afraid."More apology than you can stand cuts through a near whisper. "I am afraid we do not have much Time."Every man before you shifts, clearly not wanting to cause panic. Despite their appearances, it would seem they actually care about the welfare of the rogues under their command, at the very least."I have only *ever wanted* to HELP you," you manage, voice breaking again. "All of you. If you would permit me to—"No one interrupts."I swear. Upon ALL of the Gods— I will NOT abandon you again."Mick snorts. Randall punches him so firmly, Norward staggers back a few feet. "Can't fucking believe you," the shorter man sneers. With a softer frown to you, he asks, "is that it, then?""I know— I understand that it may be difficult to believe me," you mutter, trying to not sound devastated. "I KNOW I have broken your trust— but—""But what," Victor leers.Straight faced, shoving down your regret, you offer an unhinged and utterly exhausted smile. "I truly am glad to see all of you."Shifting uncomfortably, Mad Dog actually has nothing to say in reply.Mick scoffs. "You're not going to beat me down for trying to kill your men or take your bitch?""No," you immediately insist. "'Sister' would be preferable, if you cannot be bothered with names— but I want nothing to do with this carnage. I do not want to hurt any of you. I'm so sorry.""Well," Randy smirks. "How much Time do you suppose we have?""You've got to be shitting me," Norward glares, to the shorter scoundrel."We're dead men," he sneers, putting his hood back up. "Don't tell me you've given up on having a drink or a good lay before this is all over?"Mick grumbles, agreeably.Eyes shrouded, Randall extends another open hand to you. "I'd be lying if I said it was good to see you, too. Barely recognized you. Nearly as big as I am, and those robes? Terrible." He pats you on the side of your arm. It's hard to not feel like slime persists, but you resist the urge to recoil. "The hair's a nice change, at least. We might get you a nice girl before our heads roll." Harriet and Ofelia glance to each other. Cyril can't help but laugh nervously, but it's concealed by Randall barking over his shoulder, "ISN'T THAT RIGHT, VICTOR?""Gonna grab me too, is that right?"The madman makes a series of crude gestures and a honking sound. You try to tune it out.Randall honks back."The fuck you think we can help with, anyways," Victor relents. "Your Gods forsake you too, *Father*? Can't just pray for our problems to go away? Sure as shit haven't been doing us any fucking favors!""Now who's the hypocrite," Mick smirks.Relief sinks into you, deeper than any knife that's threatened your person today.*They want to help.*(Options in next post .)
>>4249241>A] Thank all three men profusely. Leave them to sort out their own rogues, and post your own company around the sewer to stave off any guards in the meantime. It's the least you can do, even if you're desperately pressed for time.>B] You legitimately do not even have time for speeches. Tactfully ask everyone if they can move as fast as humanly possible. It may cost lives, but the safety of your congregation means everything to you.>C] Plainly ask the Flea Circus how they would like to proceed, and take a back seat. Let your friends conduct themselves as they'd like, as well. Try to compose yourself, and take a precious moment of respite before chasing after the sisters of Mercy.>D] Write-in.
>>4249242>>C] Plainly ask the Flea Circus how they would like to proceed, and take a back seat. Let your friends conduct themselves as they'd like, as well. Try to compose yourself, and take a precious moment of respite before chasing after the sisters of Mercy.This is their circus. We should tell them that we need to look for the sisters as fast as possible with minimal losses and let them handle the logistics.
>>4249242>B] You legitimately do not even have time for speeches. Tactfully ask everyone if they can move as fast as humanly possible. It may cost lives, but the safety of your congregation means everything to you.
>>4249242>C] Plainly ask the Flea Circus how they would like to proceed, and take a back seat. Let your friends conduct themselves as they'd like, as well. Try to compose yourself, and take a precious moment of respite before chasing after the sisters of Mercy.
>>4249242>>C] Plainly ask the Flea Circus how they would like to proceed, and take a back seat. Let your friends conduct themselves as they'd like, as well. Try to compose yourself, and take a precious moment of respite before chasing after the sisters of Mercy.
>>4249295(Gonna keep the fire burning!)>>4249255>>4249771>>4249773(But mostly stick to C and the write-in. Got it. Locking the vote here, writing now!)
>>4249777"Listen," you sigh, struggling to keep your pulse down. "These are your people, and I stand by my word. I have brought enough trouble on you all already—""Eh," Randall smirks, shrugging, "we've had worse."Literally everyone in your company tries to not smile. Most of you fail. Mick outright laughs, "no shit. Go round 'em up, Victor. Move those gangly fuckin' legs! Don't got a second to waste!"It's obviously unnecessary to ask anyone among you to take action. The heathen darts off, muttering incoherently to himself, and starts screaming orders to the collection of men and women lurking in the shadows. Tents are dismantled, makeshift shelters are tied up in seconds, fires are extinguished, and enough movement takes place from the walls and floor to legitimately remind you of fleas on an old mattress. Itchy, avoiding the urge to scratch at your face or neck, you settle on gripping more tightly still onto your arm.Norward and Randall linger, looking about your friends. "Who's the slowest one here," Mick grumbles, crossing his arms, and looking accusingly down to Ofelia.The rogue sneers back up to him. Sister Cardew gently pulls at your arm, removing an enormous amount of the physical tension from your shoulders and back. The throbbing, burning distraction dulls the edges of your hearing, as the brunette snips, "I'll run, if necessary."Ofelia offers her a weary smile. A number of rogues appear from the end of the corridor, waving a few red scarves. Every individual in the cavern is up, moving, and rapidly dispersing through countless tunnels. Taking in a ragged breath, you lean towards the priestess at your side, and murmur, "can you give me just— just a minute?"Brow furrowed, Sister Cardew nods towards you. "Of course." With a turn of her head, bobbing her scruffy hair, the brunette pips, "do you gentlemen—" Mick laughs so hard, he might hurt himself, "—need anything further, from any of us?"With a nod towards Theodore, Randall tries to politely ask, "he's alright for all this?"The young man tilts his head, distantly remarking, "so long as you take no issue with my company, sir."Both Randy and Mick seem impressed. The former actually grins. "Right, then. Good on you."Wiping a tear from his eye, Norward seems to get a hold of himself, and echoes Randall's sentiment. "Right then! Father Anscham—" you blink, several times, at being addressed as such so often, "—you gonna fuckin' fade on us again?""I would appreciate just a moment," you mutter. It doesn't escape you that the first Time these men saw you, you could barely stand.Ofelia practically skips over to both scoundrels, entirely aware of what they're referring to. "Bossin' bug-eyes over there? Instead of gettin' anythin' done yourselves?" Both men are immediately up in arms. "Terrible." A cheeky grin is flashed to you, as the halfling completely occupies their attention.(1/3)
>>4249930Theodore gives you a nod, gesturing towards a structure nearby. Cyril closes the distance between you both, and along with Harriet and Ray, you and your fellow clergy move towards a dismantled tent. Lean against the bends of fabric and wood, your legs are burning enough that the motion is almost overwhelming. Keeping a straight face, you maintain your composure, and try to breathe while the commotion about you all reaches a fever pitch. The passage you all are occupying is no longer swarming, but several filthy figures dart past. The sound of Ofelia teasing your new guides practically echoes through the corridor.Knocking you gently on the shoulder, Brother Trebbeck sniffs, "how about now?""I'm sorry," you wince."Would have kicked his ass, you know," the blonde remarks, absolutely unphased.I've treated him far worse before."I shouldn't have—"Another knock. The priest is fussing with the spots on your robes that took the brunt of a knife attack, and looks down to Sister Cardew. "You thank him properly for this shit? Riskin' his neck over your scrawny little ass—""Yes," she snips back, before glancing up to you. In a much softer tone, the priestess remarks, "though I suspect no one here has shown you enough appreciation. Try to not worry yourself. It's telling, Richard.""What?" you ask, obliging Ray's demands for ear scratches."That even this group of miscreants can show you some respect. It's a start."There's a glint in the priestess' eye, and Cyril immediately knocks one of her veils off. "What am I to you both, then? All this," he flexes slightly, as Theodore chuckles. "Just a nice pair of arms?"Harriet is infinitely too short to knock the veteran's hat off, but she makes the gesture to, regardless. Cyril laughs a bit, making a motion to pick her up, and is instantly greeted with a defensive maneuver.You try to not smile, and murmur to both clergy, "thank you. Really. We— I had better inform everyone of where we are heading—"Ray straightens back up, having melted into your hands, as you pull back and make a gesture to your boy to follow closely behind. Victor is running back towards the group, with four bags in tow. One is tossed to Theodore, who catches it expertly, to all three scoundrel's collective amusement. As everyone reconvenes, you immediately take the lead, and start moving further down the sewers. Despite not knowing the fastest way, there's unmistakably more mold being kicked up from the corridors you came from, and not a moment to waste. Cyril does actually sweep up Sister Cardew, who doesn't protest, though her frown seems permanent. The bags Victor collected are distributed to the other members of the Flea Circus, and everyone looks to you for an explanation.Looking to the men briskly walking beside you, outfitted for battle and lengthy travel, in a softer voice, you ask, "are your people seen to? Will they be alright?""Fuck 'em," Victor drawls.(2/3)
>>4249933Mick and Randall both shove the madman aside. He stumbles, making a rude gesture and firing off several expletives so obscene, you practically shut down.Leaning beside you, smelling vaguely of herbs and grease, you try to not recoil from Randy's leering. "My my my, Father Anscham—""Not now," Mick snorts, putting a hand to his brow, and shaking his head. "Got a fuckin' prude? Really?""A treat," Randy clarifies."This is going to be great," Mick frowns, as you battle down the heat in your face. More stoically, looking straight at you, the rogue huffs, "they'll be fine. Try not to worry about it."The fuck are we going, anyways," Mad Dog grimaces.Composing yourself, you quickly explain, "Sister Corbon and Sister Tirel are within the cathedral ward." Your own scowl is back in full, as you turn another corner, and hear shouts in the distance.Everyone breaks into a run. Gesturing to Ray to double around to the back, beside Theodore and Ofelia, ignoring the fire in your legs, you huff, "I spotted a demon of Storm on the horizon, nearly two hours past. They must be contending with it now. To protect is to serve— and they will have not turned from such a dire situation. I cannot fathom the severity of their need. We must reach them, as quickly as possible—"The shouts get significantly louder. Mick, Randall and Victor all simultaneously look to one another, scrambling to come up with a route. Collectively, they gesture for everyone to take a sharp turn down a narrow, devastatingly steep tunnel you hadn't even noticed."Under the red-light ward?" Victor starts, looking particularly ill, minding his footing but pulling ahead of the group."You're crazy, not stupid," Mick laughs, pulling out a knife preemptively. "Roofs would be the safest, but someone brought some dead-weight along—"Harriet sniffs, "not looking at me is no excuse to pretend as if I'm not here. You should lower your voices. Twenty footsteps is more than enough to garner their attention, already—" she muffles a shout, as Cyril shifts the priestesses weight."Look who's talking," Brother Trebbeck shushes, and fires a glance over his shoulder. "They're coming!"Randall rolls his eyes, keeping alongside you. "She's got a point. We can take a slower route up top. With us all together, it's going to be slower going. Your priest of Flesh is going to be ragged if he's got to literally drag half of us along."Victor sneers, "don't look at me. I say we slip through the slums. Come out under the gates. Dump the broads and the kid at a safe house. Let Mick babysit 'em.""Not on your fuckin' life," the hulking man sneers, as you all turn hard around another corner, somehow descending even deeper. The path warps at an angle, and everyone pauses a long moment, trying to keep from slipping on the slick stone.(Barely over, 3/4)
>>4249936"The roofs would be too much for the damn dog," Victor groans, "and I am not jumping over spiked fences. You're the crazy one.""It's good for your Spirit," Mick grins, "and no guard's going to give chase if we can ditch 'em up top. It's faster. You're being stupid."Breathing hard, Randy interjects, "will you ladies stop your bitching, please—?""They've caught up," Theodore calmly calls out, from the rear of the group. "It would seem that a priestess of Flesh is with them. The same as before.""Mercy.""I'll buy us a sec," Ofelia chirps, trying to not laugh as she unsheathes five knives simultaneously.>A] Send Mick to the safe house, with Harriet and Theodore. Have Cyril go with them for extra security. You know the priest of Flesh can handle the brute if necessary. You're going to follow...>1] Victor's suggestion, and take to the red-light district. It won't be as fast as Mick's route, but seems the safest, and certainly will garner your weaker friend's security.>2] Norward's suggestion, and simply don't trust Randall or Victor alone with anyone else. (Ray will also have to stay behind.)>3] Randall's suggestion, and don't want to risk the safety of anyone less combative where you're headed.>B] Send Victor to the safe house, with Harriet, Theodore, Ray and Ofelia. The assassin and your guard dog can take care of a mad man, if necessary. You're going to follow...>1] Victor's suggestion, and simply don't trust Mick or Randall alone with anyone else.>2] Norward's suggestion, and REALLY need to make sure that no one gets hurt along the way. You know Cyril can keep up, and need him in a fight.>3] Randall's suggestion, and don't want to risk the safety of anyone less combative where you're headed.>C] Send Randall to the safe house, with Harriet, Theodore, Ray, Ofelia, and Cyril. You seriously do not trust him alone with women and children, under any less supervision. You're going to follow...>1] Victor's suggestion, and want his direction while you take it.>2] Norward's suggestion, and know that the fewer people in your company, the faster you'll move. (Write-in if you'd like to leave anyone else at the safe house, as well.)>3] Randall's suggestion, and trust that traveling so lightly will help your speed AND safety.>D] Take Randall's suggestion, and bring everyone along. Theodore and Harriet may be a huge liability, but you do NOT want to risk getting separated from anyone.>E] Write-in. Bear in mind many of your friends will not tolerate each other's company without your presence, and many of them cannot travel as quickly or expertly as you.
>>4249939>>D] Take Randall's suggestion, and bring everyone along. Theodore and Harriet may be a huge liability, but you do NOT want to risk getting separated from anyone.
>>4249939>A] Send Mick to the safe house, with Harriet and Theodore. Have Cyril go with them for extra security. You know the priest of Flesh can handle the brute if necessary. You're going to follow...>1] Victor's suggestion, and take to the red-light district. It won't be as fast as Mick's route, but seems the safest, and certainly will garner your weaker friend's security.
>>4249939>>A] Send Mick to the safe house, with Harriet and Theodore. Have Cyril go with them for extra security. You know the priest of Flesh can handle the brute if necessary. You're going to follow...>>1] Victor's suggestion, and take to the red-light district. It won't be as fast as Mick's route, but seems the safest, and certainly will garner your weaker friend's security.
>>4250233>>4250265>>4250937(Alright! Locking the vote here while the tie is broken. Might be a few before I can write but will ASAP.)
>>4250949"Cyril," you huff, to the blonde and the woman in his arms. "Please take Sister Cardew— and Brother Wilhelm—" The blonde grimaces, in silent protest, until you murmur, "you are *still* running yourself into the ground. I'm asking for your sake, too—"He relents. "Alright. I'm gonna need some directions, though."Whipping your head to Mick, hair slick with sweat and filthy water, you ask, "would you please escort them?" Grumbling immediately greets you, though nowhere near as much as you expected. "I trust that you can get them to your safe house faster than any other man alive—" his grumbling intensifies, "and I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate your support—"Ofelia's laughter has faded. A nervous shout punctuates her cry. "RICHARD! We got some trouble!"The fact that the halfling has only called your name sparks immediate panic. Cyril pulls ahead, sneering to Norward. "Are you helping, or not?"Someone is shouting down the passage, and nearly drowns out Mick's reply. It's incoherent, though likely from ten or more men."Yeah," the rogue frowns, practically skidding to a stop. Cyril immediately follows suit, while the rest of you keep moving ahead. Mud and filth kicks up around you all, regardless. Daring to look back, you see Norward grabbing the priest of Dream firmly by the arm. "Try to keep up, kid—!"Levelly, Brother Wilhelm keeps his pace, and calls up to you, "she's a veteran! Be careful!"*What?*The most vulnerable of your company slips from sight, peeling around another corner before you can get a proper response.Ofelia has miraculously caught up to you,and fear is in her impossible eyes. "Priestess," she wheezes, "legs. Gonna catch up."From down the hall comes a form seemingly carved from marble. Alabaster skin, defiled with streaks of black mold, is slicker still with the runoff and sweat being kicked up from a full sprint. The priestess seems to have shorn off her robes entirely to not inhibit any movement. All that remains are long gloves, undergarments that are scarcely doing their job, and hard leather boots which come nearly to the tops of her thighs. Outfitted with laces, the leather and silk screams in protest against the gift of a God. She is all legs, but longer black hair clings to the sides of her face, practically shrouding the sheen of crimson within her eyes.This is an invocation you're terribly familiar with, but not in this form.You're definitely staring.The priestess is not the one shouting. She's been with her patron for only enough Time to catch up to you. The blood in her eyes and the speed in which she's moving puts a further fire under your steps. Glancing rapidly around, Cyril is out of sight, along with the most vulnerable of your companions.It would seem the sight of your primary pursuer has put a fire under everyone else in your company as well.(1/2)
>>4251500Ray runs right up alongside you, snarling, and glancing back to the priestess for permission to attack before she closes in. The assassin beside you seems to have actually run out of knives, but Ofelia throws her hood up, and vanishes from sight. Victor takes point, focusing on navigation, while Randall turns on a heel, grinning like a madman.The scoundrel throws out dozens of small, spiked, metal caltrops. "Watch your step, babe!"He winks.She screams, showing no sign of slowing down. It's highly likely that she'll heal through anything she steps on, but you know that the priestess will still *feel* it.>(A roll may be required for any of the following. As always, write-ins can make a big difference or supercede the need for a roll entirely.)>A] You've never tried to do so with another human, and it doesn't seem quite right, but try and use your Relic to bend the priestess' violent intent towards good-will.>1] Keep running. It sounds like a LOT of guards are in pursuit, and if this doesn't work, you may not reach the sisters of Mercy in Time.>2] Stop. You are insanely stressed for Time, but you won't do anyone any good if you're captured or dead.>B] She's chasing you. So be it! Invoke Flesh. You're going to run circles around this woman.>C] The collective ability of you and your companions is incredible. You want to go toe-to-toe with your pursuer— without actually relying on the Gods.>1] Ask Randall if he's got anything he can fight dirtier with. There's a Time and a place for restraint, and this is not it.>2] Assist Ofelia by providing the small armory of knives you're carrying, and throw everything you've got at the priestess. (Specify if you have a preference for lethal or non-lethal attacks.)>3] See if Mad Dog lives up to his name, and ask for a suggestion.>4] Command Ray to slow her down, and pray she doesn't hurt your boy.>D] You are a fighter, if there ever was one— and not always in the most traditional sense.>1] Call out to the priestess, and try to be diplomatic. Her men saw your work. She should have gotten the word that you and your congregation are innocent.>2] Her men saw what you're capable of. Try and threaten her. If it doesn't stop her outright, maybe it will slow her down.>E] Write-in.
>>4251501>D] You are a fighter, if there ever was one— and not always in the most traditional sense.>1] Call out to the priestess, and try to be diplomatic. Her men saw your work. She should have gotten the word that you and your congregation are innocent.
>>4251501>C] The collective ability of you and your companions is incredible. You want to go toe-to-toe with your pursuer— without actually relying on the Gods.>3] See if Mad Dog lives up to his name, and ask for a suggestion.> let me cum in your mouth
>>4251501>C] The collective ability of you and your companions is incredible. You want to go toe-to-toe with your pursuer— without actually relying on the Gods.>3] See if Mad Dog lives up to his name, and ask for a suggestion.Time to get low and dirty
>>4251501>D] You are a fighter, if there ever was one— and not always in the most traditional sense.>1] Call out to the priestess, and try to be diplomatic. Her men saw your work. She should have gotten the word that you and your congregation are innocent"We meet again!"
>>4251501>>D] You are a fighter, if there ever was one— and not always in the most traditional sense.>>1] Call out to the priestess, and try to be diplomatic. Her men saw your work. She should have gotten the word that you and your congregation are innocent.
>>4252271>>4252320(I think we can work in a bit of this!)>>4251515>>4252887>>4252996(But majority is definitely for diplomacy. Got it! Currently at work so it will be a bit before I can update, but locking the vote here while we have the tie drawn. If anyone wants to make any further suggestions or has any comments in general, I'll be lurking, too.)
>>4253007(Quick update, thanks for your patience guys. I'll have the update out tonight, not 100% on the time but it'll happen.)
>>4253703(Back at home, writing now.)
>>4253931https://youtu.be/68JweELFjlUDespite the hazards littering the floor between you, the priestess shows no sign of slowing her pursuit. The incoherent shouts in the distance are growing louder by the second. A few choice words slip through the edges of your hearing, between the splash of water, your pounding footsteps, and Randy's laughter."IF I GET MY HANDS ON HIM—!""AROUND THE BEND, THERE'S ANOTHER PIPE!""CAN'T SEE SHIT!""THIS WAY!"There's only a few seconds at your disposal. Sprinting with Ray up ahead to Mad Dog, praying the rogue lives up to his name, you pant, "the guards— tell me you can do something—!"He scowls, and to your absolute confusion, skids to a complete stop. The madman grabs firmly onto the back of Randall's collar as he streaks past, pulling him to a stop as well. Gesturing to the man to get a series of buckets and flasks from their bags, he barks, "come on, then!"Randall's laughter stops cold, immediately taking the man's lead, and looking wildly around. Clearly unable to locate Ofelia, he shouts, "MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL, THEN!"Your own sprint becomes a jog, as you slide into a sharp turn. Coming fully back around, calling Ray to follow your motions, you glimpse through a huge spray of filthy water to lock eyes with your target.The priestess of Flesh would have her hair streaking behind her, were it not for the damp conditions. She's unrelenting, and finally close enough that you can see the extent of her pursuit. The woman's body is slaked with injury, no doubt from the rogues that comprise the bulk of the Flea Circus.You stop your run completely, show the palms of your hands, and bitterly call out, "we meet again. I mean you no harm—"Randall and Victor have picked their way neatly around the spread of caltrops, in a full sprint. The former seems to know exactly where his weapons fell, and they curve away from the oncoming charge. The priestess' steps falter, just before the field of metal between you both. She's panting, but even through her visible fury, whips her head around to call out to both men in your company."Not another inch—!" the priestess screams to them both, insanity sinking into her tone as she sees the reply.The lecher in your company makes a particularly obscene gesture with his fingers and tongue. First to her, then to you, Randall deftly does so without breaking stride.Trying to keep yourself level, gingerly picking your way with Ray towards the enemy, you follow Victor's obvious plan. Hands still out, devoid of weaponry, you scream to both men, "WE ARE HERE TO SHOW COMPASSION, EVEN TO THE UNDESERVING—!"The shouting reaches a crescendo. Twenty or more footsteps course down the waterway, and your friends meet them head-on. Pale, completely torn between your capture and stopping your men, the priestess of Flesh falters.(1/2)
>>4254059The moment of hesitation is all that Victor needs, as he laughs hysterically, and parts from Randall's side. Both men flank the approaching guards, expertly sweeping up a collection of sewage and mold.The guards realize their folly a moment too late. Those without shields are drenched with the onslaught, aimed directly at the scarves and cloth adorning their faces. Coughing, choking, and retching interjects the priestess' screams."You IMBECILES, GET THEM!"Most of the men completely stop their procession. Victor is gone from sight, but Randall runs past with a few flasks, tossing more liquid still at passing faces. Those who can easily tear off their masks instinctively do so, and the neat formation of your pursuit stalls and breaks up in complete confusion. Ofelia's laughter interjects the cacophony. You pull your vision away, letting the sound of a fight breaking out fade from the edges of your mind.Red eyes settle firmly on your form. It would seem that the priestess has also settled on keeping her focus on you, and you alone.With a firm motion, commanding Ray to stay back, you stop your procession forward. Only ten feet or so still stretches between you both. It's of runoff, metal and rot, but you are utterly unphased. Life, death, and everything in-between has never stopped your devotion.The sheen over the priestess' body catches on what little light can be seen from distant lanterns, and the glint of metal on metal. The woman's own worship has her standing still. She's reverent of the material, because of her wounds. Rapidly healing tensed muscle and over-exposed skin, with eyes full of hatred, the priestess and her Flesh grants you a moment to speak."There is no need for any of this," you plead. "My men are innocent. I am innocent. You must know that I killed the demon of Mercy, and the demon of Agriculture terrorizing your city. We do not need to fight. Please. Sister...?"As both of you stand still, the priestess lowers her voice to a growl. "Raleigh.""Sister Raleigh," you murmur, barely audible over the shouts and fighting down the passage, "please. My work is to save as many lives as I can."With no compassion, she bitterly spits, "you blinded one of my men, Brother Anscham. Your people have killed PLENTY of my own while you've RAN.""I know." You take a step forward. "Your men have been doing their jobs. Mine have wanted nothing more than to live. This is a nightmare. We can stop it."She takes a step forward, too. "Good. No one else needs to die. No one has to deal with this insanity. Come with me, and stop running."(Just over, 2/3)
>>4254065Desperation claws at your entire frame. "Two of my sisters are fighting for their lives." From your voice, to your clasped hands, and all through the gold upon your ring finger, there's a different kind of fire. "I am doing everything in my power to follow the King's orders. I must save them."Her hands are open. "Come with me, willingly, and I'll call my men off. You and all of your murderous friends can see what Magnus wants to do with you." Both palms close. You can see her teeth even through the low light, as Sister Raleigh spits, "You're supposed to be a priest of Vengeance, aren't you?""Yes.""Your sin is going to be rewarded, Brother Anscham.""I am a priest of the Church of Mercy as well, Sister.""Then live, and protect your people here.">A] You have to run. Invoke Flesh. Trust that Ofelia, Victor and Randall will know where you're headed. You've wasted way too much Time already, and can't risk being captured again. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)>B] Invoke Mercy, to restrain Sister Raleigh, and hopefully further distract the guards. Call out to your company to stop their assault, and resume fleeing from your pursuers. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)>C] Invoke Mercy, to restrain Sister Raleigh AND all of her guards. It will likely ensure a safe getaway. Pray that their bonds will come off before the Flea Circus gets to helpless men and women. You're already widely regarded as a killer, and this would make for a LOT of bodies on your hands.>D] You're convinced that there's some way you can justify the insanity of your work, the company you keep, AND the situation at hand, doing before all of these people try to take you down, without jeopardizing everyone else's lives and work. (Write-in.)
>>4254073>A] You have to run. Invoke Flesh. Trust that Ofelia, Victor and Randall will know where you're headed. You've wasted way too much Time already, and can't risk being captured again. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)I am the fast
>>4254073>>B] Invoke Mercy, to restrain Sister Raleigh, and hopefully further distract the guards. Call out to your company to stop their assault, and resume fleeing from your pursuers. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)
>>4254073>B] Invoke Mercy, to restrain Sister Raleigh, and hopefully further distract the guards. Call out to your company to stop their assault, and resume fleeing from your pursuers. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)
>>4254115(Thanks man, but since these are definitely mutually exclusive)>>4254182>>4254508(Let's do this thing.)>RESTRAIN>RUN>Roll 1d100. Best of 3 will be used.+20 SPEED DEMON-5 TWO HOURS OF PURSUIT THUS FAR-5 CARRYING A SMALL ARMORY+10 BEST GUIDES IN THE CITY ON YOUR SIDE
Rolled 76 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>4254512
Rolled 42 (1d100)>>4254512
Rolled 97 (1d100)>>4254512Rollin
>>4254514>>4254516>>4254544(That's a solid 117 out of 100. Nice. Writing now.)
>>4254545https://youtu.be/W8kI1na3S2MNot daring to reach out to the woman ahead, you call upon someone who is always at your side."I will stay my hand."The yellow-gold in your eyes flares forth, as vivid as the sun. Mercy is on you, with the same intensity. Gasping, almost unable to speak, you know that you do not need to ask Her for anything. In the same second, before your target can respond, the priestess ahead collides to the floor.Several shouts from the fight at your back ring out. Shackles of metal pool forward from the edges of Sister Raleigh's skin, revealing the source of her capture. She's too frightened to speak, and thrashes against the might of your invocation with everything she has. You feel her struggle, pulling at the edges of your soul.You take several steps forward. The gap between you both finally closes, as you keep both hands outstretched, and feel fingers intertwine with your own. Molten liquid pours forth from your palms, connecting your embrace with the Goddess. Steam rises from the runoff at your feet, as every step you take leaves behind a trail of molten devotion.On hands and knees, devastated by the weight of her bonds, the priestess before you strains to look up. Wide-eyed, she screams, as a shackle congeals around her neck. It's realer and heavier than anything a mortal could produce. Fully dropping to the floor, still screaming, Sister Raleigh finds her voice. "GET HIM! STOP HIM, PLEASE— MMMFF—"Bands of metal intertwine with her lips. There is no sight of injury, no blood, and you're certain that she does not feel any pain. The source of your potential destruction is silenced. Maintaining her invocation to Flesh, steam rising off of her in trails, Sister Raleigh continues to struggle. The Goddess of Compassion works through you, with a bond stronger than any this priestess could hope to have with her own patron.Mercy lifts the woman's head out of the runoff on the floor, just enough to meet your gaze. Red and gold sear against one another, as your captive glares at you with more hate than you've ever seen in another human.You want to say something. "The Gods are Merciful."Her reply is another scream, muffled, and unmistakably tormented.You turn, gesture for Ray to keep right at your side, and run. Sister Raleigh's thrashing and silenced calls for aid redouble. Feverishly uttering every prayer to your lover over the cacophony, you look frantically for your companions. The Goddess of Protection does not permit a single scrap of metal beneath your feet to harm you, nor your boy, as you sprint back over the field of caltrops. (1/4)
>>4254642The fight between the Flea Circus and Sister Raleigh's men is still raging. It would seem four men have retreated entirely, likely for fear of the toxic conditions within the sewers. Ofelia is expertly weaving behind several of the guards, silently tripping and distracting them. Victor and Randall are keeping at a distance, throwing off obscenities and non-lethal attacks. All three of your friends are clearly exhausted, but have a madness on them. In their grins, coordination, and the energy in which they move, not a single one falters as you call out. "MOVE!""About fucking time," Victor grins.Randall laughs hysterically, making a broad gesture towards Ofelia. Both of them sweep up something from the runoff.You turn on a heel, and out of the corner of your eye, see a network of thin wire pull up from the water and muck around every guard's feet. Those who aren't immediately caught and tripped up try to not panic, staggering towards you. Most call out, as the halfling beside them slips again from view."What?!" One of the men staying on his feet swings his sword broadly, immediately trying to cut off the strands.Another, on the floor, splutting and furious screams, "Get that BITCH!"Stumbling, an older man with a shield and spear bellows, "FUCK THE ORDER! I'M GOING TO KILL 'EM!"A single cry hangs behind you, louder than any other. "AFTER THEM!"With a tender whisper of gratitude towards Mercy, you release your invocation. The world shifts, as proper sensation and the pain of pushing yourself so hard today collides once again with your frame. Not breaking stride, you gather yourself to glance behind only once.Sister Raleigh is still confined. You're certain her bonds will fade, though there's no telling for how long. Victor, Randall, and Ofelia are right on your tail, and you slow just enough to meet their pace. "We've already wasted far too much Time—"Obviously pushing himself harder than he should, Victor pulls ahead of you all, and sneers, "well, then?!""I trust your judgement," you huff. "Lead the way. Don't hold back."Grinning madly, your ally glances to Ofelia. "Safe house has a tent painted on its side. Tamer. Lion. Beast looks just like Dick's dog. Can't miss it if you're looking for it.""I'm not fallin' behind," the assassin huffs back, "so don't bother!"Randall finishes throwing several daggers, a bag of what you estimate to be a thousand marbles, and more caltrops behind you all. "Now'd be a good Time, Vick—!""Right." Victor whips his head towards you, his eyes wider than yours. "Better keep your fuckin' word! Don't go running off, right?!"(2/4)
>>4254643Grimacing, you don't dignify the response with a reply, and keep right on the man's tail. The five of you all sprint through an incredibly narrow passage, sharply turning from the guards pursuing you. Several footsteps pass straight by the passage. Your procession arcs again, curving like a snake before beginning to ascend. Countless winding corridors follow. The light completely fades from the passage after several minutes, as Ofelia's torch goes fully out, but the men in your company seem to know exactly where they are headed. Not breaking your formation for an instant, ultimately climbing a flight of a hundred stairs, you all emerge into the light of day. The shift from the cold air, damp fog and mold is abrupt.Still running, you all nearly skid to a stop, in heat and fog. You've emerged just outside of the checkpoint guarding the cathedral ward, circumventing any further guard, and absolutely having lost your pursuers. Trying to not think too hard about the men who may be lost in darkness and poison, you're forced to turn your attention to the city streets. There's utter pandemonium, about the most ostentatious decor in the country. Beneath the shadow of King Magnus' castle— which is still partially obscured by several more gated wards, protecting his home further— is a colossal garden. Spiked, iron gates surround half a mile of extravagance. Colossal fountains, sculpted in the likeness of the King's children, are muddied with stone and opaque water. Your stomach drops, as you recognize Lady Edith's likeness among one of them. Many are cracked and broken, spilling out onto gold-tinted flowers in every direction. Shaped topiaries in the shape of more flowers still are ablaze in many places. Bodies litter the little winding stone paths, and the scent of copper intermingles with the smoke on the air.The cause of the destruction is recognizable in an instant. Down the lanes of growth and destruction lies a gathering of at least fifty corpses, all having fought and lost against a demon of Storm. The monster itself must be fifty feet high, crackling with thunder and lightning. It resembles a cloud more than a humanoid figure, though it is elongated into limbs. Three arms and five legs swim with building moisture, pulsating with the electricity that writhes from within.In and around the gardens, mortal soldiers have constructed a network of wooden barriers, outfitted themselves with a huge number of ranged weaponry, and seem to have hunkered down after an extended battle. Not a soul dares to approach you, but several men scream out, "FINALLY!" "ANOTHER PRIEST!"(3/4)
>>4254645"OH, FOR FUCK'S SAKE," someone cries in exasperation.Off in the distance, another figure groans, "it's just a priest of Mercy.""WHEN THE FUCK ARE WE GETTING MORE MEN?!" an exasperated scream rings out. They sound horrifically injured, in extreme emotional turmoil, or both.About twenty yards down the lane, behind a makeshift wooden structure, three men wave for you to get under cover. One at their head, elderly and carrying an enormous shield bellows, "GET OVER HERE BEFORE YOU GET KILLED!"A roll of thunder breaks out. Multiple screams lance the conversation. Someone's sobbing, off in the distance, and more cries for aid can be heard from a number of the wooden structures. Scanning rapidly across the gardens, it's almost impossible to tell where anyone's hiding. Dread sinks into the pit of your stomach, seeing no fewer than ten dead members of your church scattered along the ground in the immediate vicinity. At least forty are of the Church of Flesh, and more still of citizens who are not of any clergy. The carnage thickens the closer you look to the demon.As you and your congregation sprint to the nearest cover, you know with confidence that any devotee to Mercy would not shy from taking on the brunt of this Storm. You're also certain that to contend with even a mortal member of the church of Storm was to risk immediate death.They're here. They're here, and they've been fighting without me all this Time.>A] Tell your friends to split up, and start searching. Protect them with everything you have.>1] Make no pretense of your mission. Have them ask everyone they can if they've seen two priestesses of Mercy. You can worry about capture later. You may have already taken too long.>2] Try and maintain cover. You'll never see Sister Corbon and Tirel if you're captured now.>B] Take on the demon. See if they'll come to your aid. If they won't come out of hiding, you'll at least have tried to secure the safety of the countless lives at stake here.>1] Invoke Mercy, for her protection and restraint.>2] Invoke Dream, for vision and to put this demon to rest.>3] Invoke Agriculture, to seize control of the life all around you.>4] Invoke Vengeance. It's going to be ugly.>5] Ask your friends to guard you, while you attempt to invoke Storm. It usually takes a LOT of out you, but you're willing to take the risk.>C] Write-in.
>>4254647>B] Take on the demon. See if they'll come to your aid. If they won't come out of hiding, you'll at least have tried to secure the safety of the countless lives at stake here.>2] Invoke Dream, for vision and to put this demon to rest.
>>4254647>>A] Tell your friends to split up, and start searching. Protect them with everything you have.>>1] Make no pretense of your mission. Have them ask everyone they can if they've seen two priestesses of Mercy. You can worry about capture later. You may have already taken too long.We need everyone we can get.
>>4254647>>A] Tell your friends to split up, and start searching. Protect them with everything you have.>>1] Make no pretense of your mission. Have them ask everyone they can if they've seen two priestesses of Mercy. You can worry about capture later. You may have already taken too long.
>>4254654>>4254658>>4254679>>4254682(We can certainly do both of these. Locking the vote here! Writing now.)
>>4255442https://youtu.be/BlJ9S7MzRmwTurning to your friends, sweat sticking hot and fast to almost every inch of you, you are desperate. Pulse racing, not caring for threat of capture or anything more than protection, you plead. "Find them. Please. Ask every man and woman left standing. I will settle for nothing less than the truth. I don't know what I'll do with myself if we're too late.""Richard," Ofelia looks up to you, worry drenching her, clearly not caring either.Every guard beside you bristles. One man, beard singed and his shield broken, whips his head to you and actually voices his fears. "Brother Anscham?"The men about him redouble their tension, a few of them bristling to move towards you. Victor and Randall both draw knives, stepping between you and every guard. "Give us a fucking break," the madman sneers, "and keep your weapons sheathed. We're not here for a fight." He laughs, "not with you, at least.""Mhmmm. No trouble at all," Randall smiles, spinning his knife idly, "when we don't mean any, either. But not a finger on him. You're smart men. You understand me, don't you?"There's shifting. The tension between you all is nearly as thick as the fog and smoke in the air. The lecher and madman both look back to you, smiling slightly. The former mutters, "just say the word, I swear to fuckin—""Do not finish that sentence," you interject. "Please split up. Cover as much ground as you can. Sister Corbon and Sister Tirel MUST be here. Do everything you can to get them to safety." In a low voice, fighting to control your tremor, you murmur, "allow them to assist me, if they still can.""Are ya' gonna...?" the halfling at your side trails off, staring clear through the barrier at your back. She's gazing towards where the demon of Storm lies, but doesn't dare vocalize your suicidal ideation.Another roll of thunder shakes the very ground you stand on. You instinctively grab for your holy symbol, feeling your Relic underhand instead. It's an even greater comfort, quelling all pain in your form. Gritting your teeth, you confirm, "yes. I am putting this demon to rest."The few men sheltering beside you are conflicted beyond belief. Fidgeting, tensing their hold on their weapons at the confirmation of your identity, the eldest among them finds his voice. "You're crazier than they've been sayin'." In almost a whisper, he insists, "you don't need to kill yourself—""He's braver than any of ya'," Ofelia rapidly fires off, "and you don't gotta' worry abut him. Better start talkin'. You don't want to waste our time."You move to go, while you still can. A hand catches on yours, so small that you almost immediately pull away. Ofelia's desperately pained smile is flashed to you, as she pulls her hood back.She wants me to see her one last Time.(1/4)
>>4255582"Be careful." She's tearing up. "I don't want to lose ya' all over again."Brow furrowed, battling down more emotion than you can stand, you grimace, "The Gods are Merciful, Ofelia. I am not losing one more soul— myself included."Victor and Randall give you a nod, keeping their weapons out, and wait for your mark. They surely want to follow behind you for additional cover.Rather than run ahead, you bow your head. Parting your hold from the Relic about your neck, knitting your hands together, you trust not in mere experience. Your intent has been shrouded in insanity and abuse. To call upon the God of the Night with waking eyes is insanity. You have no idea what may happen, but you are a man of faith, and all of the Gods.You pray. "God of the moon, and the stars in the sky."Almost immediately, paint congeals from the tips of your fingers. Coursing along your wrists, liquid in every possible shade of blue drips rapidly drips to the floor. Over the splatter, your soft tone intermingles with something distant. If you weren't mistaken, it may be a lullaby, but you focus, bending every ounce of your will into reaching out."I ask for your guidance, your vision, and your blessing. Come unto me. I ask for your company, that we may we walk together. Gaze with me, that we may travel through this waking nightmare.Night crashes into your vision. The world as you know it is fading fast. Your eyes are open, but darkness completely shrouds your sight. It's all the permission you need, to step out into the open. There are shouts behind you, from heathens and blasphemers, but they are of no concern."Permit me to serve. Permit me to Dream."Through the shroud of your mind, the swimming shades of cerulean coating the world, there is a singular focus. Its form is clear, and shifts before you, in a vision you see removed from Time.Lightning crackles on the edges of your sight. It's a parody of reality, a mockery of Storm's works, and an insult to all of the Gods. You carry the gift of another blasphemer. One that has taken the full might of demons and sin before. Well before the attack comes, you unfasten your shield, and continue to walk forward.You are struck by lightning.(2/4)
>>4255585The screams come, from countless disbelievers, as you're ripped away from the vision. Your voice is level, as you thank and implore your patron desperately. Paint is pooling from the corners of your mouth, and spills over your lips. The attack has yet to unleash, but it is something you have seen before.You are not afraid."Imagine with me, Dream. Indulge my delusions— this fantasy— in which We bring this nightmare to an end. Footsteps pick up on the edges of your hearing, muffled as they are. Your congregation continues to risk their lives to carry out your work. They are running, and you settle for nothing less than the same sacrifice.A roll of thunder drops from five stories above your head. The behemoth scrapes what feels like the top of the sky. Your vision swims, in a sky of blue.There is no vertigo. Respite and utter calm seizes you. Though you walk under the light of day, you are in darkness, and your heart rests through the eyes of a God. With eyes of blue, you look upon the demon of Storm.It looks back. Eyes congeal within the miasma of liquid and flame beneath clouds of skin. It possesses only two, pulsing with lightning. There is no trace of the God of Tempest.Victor was almost right. There is no God here— save for the one working through you.A bolt of lightning is unleashed. Every hair on your body stands on end, having already seen the attack before.You do not want to die.(Options in next post.)
>>4255590>A] Hold your ground, and take the attack head on. Trust in the shield Yech gifted to you to absorb the bolts, and pray you aren't killed on the spot.>1] Dare to invoke Mercy while maintaining your invocation to Dream. Her protection and healing is almost unrivaled, and you know your lover would not permit you to die so easily.>2] Risk invoking Flesh while maintaining your invocation to Dream. You've witnessed the miracle of him sparing Cyril from a similar attack, though nowhere near this powerful. You believe you can survive, with Their blessing.>B] Risk the lives of innocents, and dive for cover. You trust in the Gods, but not to this extent.>C] Push your invocation beyond what you think is possible. You've done crazier, more creative things before. To interpret is to serve— and you have an idea that could inspire the very God of Visions.>1] This is all wrong. (Write-in a means of SOOTHING the nightmare before you.)>3] You've seen this attack before. (Write-in a different INTERPRETATION of lightning.)>2] You know what it is to Dream. (Write-in a different way you wish to PAINT this scene.)>D] Write-in.
>>4255591>>C] Push your invocation beyond what you think is possible. You've done crazier, more creative things before. To interpret is to serve— and you have an idea that could inspire the very God of Visions.>2] You know what it is to Dream. (Write-in a different way you wish to PAINT this scene.)Let's paint before us a dark form of cloud, all-encompassing and as black as the night itself. Allow it to swallow the lightning whole, to erase it, and to hold the Storm at bay while it is assimilated so no one can be harmed while we deal with this fucking monstrosity.
>>4255591>>C] Push your invocation beyond what you think is possible. You've done crazier, more creative things before. To interpret is to serve— and you have an idea that could inspire the very God of Visions.>>1] This is all wrong. (Write-in a means of SOOTHING the nightmare before you.)Envelop the nightmare in the cool, calm air of the night. Forcing the wild winds to cease thrashing.
>>4255626>>4255646>>4255677>>4255945>>4255964>>4255987(Fuck yes we can absolutely work in both of these. Great shit guys. Vote is locked. Home for the weekend! Writing now!)
>>4256095https://youtu.be/_QdjmiC0rvQYou lower your eyes, to embrace your vision in full. Your faith responds faster and stronger that the very bolt of lightning streaking towards you.In a swirl of azure paint, the very fabric of reality shifts. A fracture rends between the nightmare and your form, dripping, and pooling into a new form. A sweeping cloud, blacker than night itself, unfurls from a sweep of your hands. It devours the streak of light and death. The heat from the demon's attack never even graces the ground at your feet.Black marks, charred and smoking, trail across the entire courtyard in its wake. Otherwise, the creature's attack might as well have been forgotten. You put up your shield.The entire courtyard falls utterly silent. Wind picks up in the distance, of your making. You speak softly, almost in a whisper beneath the wind, though your voice is resonant and tilting with a melody not of this world. "Our worship is all-encompassing."Raising your eyes, you look up to an affront to the Gods themselves. In all its might and fury, the creature slowly begins to collapse all three of its colossal arms straight towards you. Without pretense of anything short of destroying this monstrosity, you break into a run, to charge straight into the eye of the demon of Storm.You want it to see. From the edges of your fingertips, you pull at the paint unfurling from the depths of your soul, and splay your fingertips. Darkness spreads from the cloud of your creation, encompassing the entirety of the royal garden. Every makeshift shelter is rapidly obscured from sight, shrouding each and every mortal among you. Every waning torch, the pin-pricks of daylight reflecting off stone and rock, the opaque water of the fountains and all the gaudy gold is concealed from view. The only light among the clouds is a single fracture in your very skin.There is a scar, lancing across your chest. It is brighter than any mortal hue. Swimming with shades of blue, just over your heart, the evidence of your devotion lies closer to it still. Every rapid beat, your pounding footsteps, and the rolling thunder is not an interruption upon Dream. The reality of your connection is another stroke of inspiration."Swallow this nightmare whole!"The demon was not moving to strike you down with cloud and water. Its power comes from within, and three more bolts of lightning streak out, from the tips of its monstrous fingers.(1/3)
>>4256139You close your eyes, and blindly see beyond the demon's sight. The protection of the Gods comes just as quickly.Each attack is consumed by the growing expanse of darkness. Crackling, the clouds of your creation reach stretch clear overhead. Your surreal dissemination ripples, carrying the electricity safely up, out, and away from hundreds of innocent lives. The sky above is that of day, but it streaks with fire, light, and heat for a catastrophic moment.You have brought the God of the Night to mortal soil. From the depths of each unrolling, winding defense comes your thunder. In a union of creativity, and something that could only be possible from a man of all the Gods— you show this mockery of the tempest what it means to serve."Rest."A current of air moves towards your target. The entire front of the behemoth is stilled, closed against a vacuum. A hideous sob, more akin to the creaking of burning wood than a human voice, rises and is silenced in the same instant.The demon's writhing and pulsing stops for a blessed moment. Crossing countless falling bodies, you have to crane your neck to see two lidless eyes bearing down on you. They're sickly, wet, tinged with orange, and unmistakably foul. The field of death is so thick beside the demon's base, you have to slow your run to a walk. Breaking your gaze for a second is unthinkable, but you must. A hundred feet must still lie between you. Keeping your eyes shut, feeling desperately for any possible threat to your people, a vision pierces the darkness.It's of two forms, and they are made of light.Looking frantically around, your heart, the paint in your lungs, and more relief than you can stand comes to your throat. You've seen them before, though your vision at the Time could never come to pass.(2/3)
>>4256141Sister Clemence Tirel is known to her friends as "Electrum," as her devotion to the Goddess of gold was made impure. Your first vision of the priestess came to you with her hands outstretched. Your arrival may have come hours too late. She's slaked with blood, pale, and is missing her right arm entirely. Packs of bandages are bound about a shorn off sleeve, and the contrast of crimson on her gilded robes is an affront to more than the eyes. You feel like the Gods themselves have been spurned. Though she looks as soft as you envisioned, there's a dead look in her eye, and you strongly suspect that your sister in battle has seen too much of it.Sister Tirel is huddled at the base of a nearby shelter. The shock of seeing both women together is pulling reality out from under you. She's in the arms of another. A lanky figure, with stringy hair falling out of what should be a neat bun, looks wildly to you. Every single pair of eyes capable of doing so is likely watching your fight, but this is the only pair in the world that might as well matter. Sister Beatrice Corbon has hate in her eyes, fear of the unknown, and for all her height, "Spangle" seems extremely small. She immediately snaps her gaze from you, up to a man just beside her. Randall has been at her side, though you barely saw the rogue through the shroud of your night. He's talking feverishly to both women, and offers Sister Corbon a hand, to get to her feet.She doesn't move.You've been steadily walking towards a demon of Storm, and can't help but feel like a greater threat lies in the hearts of two of your very congregation. Spirit's vision of these two women cautioned you that they were on the verge of losing themselves.The year is 606. Demons lurk in the very hearts of mankind.Bleeding to death is not the worst thing that could happen to either of these women.>A] Keep up the fight against the demon of Storm. You know that to abandon your charge may result in the deaths of countless people.>1] Maintain your invocation to Dream. You are not done with this scene, and have an idea that may save it. (Write-in.)>2] Invoke Mercy, while maintaining your connection to Dream. There are likely over a hundred people watching, but you're willing to make the risk. If the sight of their Goddess' work won't spur both women to action, you don't know what will.>B] Call out to Sister Tirel and Sister Corbon. Try to inspire them, all while you maintain your invocation to Dream, and keep this Storm at bay. (Write-in optional, but may SERIOUSLY help your cause.)>C] Run over to both women. You've already risked everything to find them, and aren't afraid to risk a whole lot more. Say (or write-in) everything you've wanted to say, and pray your invocation to Dream will buy enough Time to protect everyone here.>D] Write-in.
>>4256144>>B] Call out to Sister Tirel and Sister Corbon. Try to inspire them, all while you maintain your invocation to Dream, and keep this Storm at bay. (Write-in optional, but may SERIOUSLY help your cause.)"Beyond the Storm, lies Her light! *The Gods are Merciful!* Let Us banish this nightmare!"
>>4256150>>4256153>>4256217(Hell yes. Locking the vote here with the unanimous write-in. Going to be free as a bird for the next 3 hours! Writing now!)
>>4256264https://youtu.be/qFUTyuoANUoThe wind is in your hair, picking up on the edges of a thousand crushed flowers. You had almost forgotten you were in a garden, beneath the shroud of Dream. The scent of death, a brewing Storm, and blood is all about you. Looking out to a hundred corpses, the Gods themselves work through every word you call out.To the priestesses of Mercy, and to every soldier in hiding, you let your message be heard."She is here with us, even now! The Gods are MERCIFUL!"A roll of thunder courses between your vision on the ground, and the behemoth touching the sky. Disbelief stares back at you, from two women who cannot believe you'd take the Time to speak. Bracing yourself hard against the might of your foe, hands clenched, teeth grit, you bellow, "our fallen brothers and sisters will NOT be forgotten! We will gather our strength, and live to fight another day!"A little light comes back into your priestesses eyes.There's a cheer from several men off in the distance. You can't see them, but you know there are soldiers here who are willing to fight on your side.You don't have any Time left. The demon of Storm breaks free of your bonds. A horrific pain lances your chest, as a crack rends itself from the edges of your heart, and out from the sky. Though your vision persists, your foe unleashes a cry that shakes the heavens themselves. Clutching instinctively to cover your ringing ears, there's a cry in the distance. Muffled as it is by the rumbling and chaos that unfolds, the sound of a woman's voice is unmistakable.Countless more cries follow, from men and women at arms.Under the cover of the darkness you've spread, at least twenty priests of Flesh have snaked their way to the side of the garden. They've been gradually moving the entirety of their shelter, using wooden barricades to suffer the brunt of the Storm. Their movement is utterly disguised by a flurry of spears, and a distraction, from the remaining priests and priestesses of Mercy at the opposite side of the field of battle. A dozen voices ring out. Between incoherent screaming, and cries of your name, there's a rally for your Goddess."How's this for a HAND?!""THE GODS ARE MERCIFUL!""HE'S BACK!""RICHARD, YOU CRAZY FUCKER—!""For Mercy!""FOR MERCY!"Another roll of thunder interjects their rally. Utterly unphased by such mundane attacks, and unable to see through your shroud, the demon of Storm hones its focus entirely on you. It moves. The beast is coming straight down. You bring your hands together, and coat the entirety of the field of battle with Dream's blessing. Darkness takes hold.(1/2)
>>4256298"FATHER ANSCHAM!" The female cry makes itself evident. Sister Corbon is back to her feet, blindly sprinting towards you, with no fear in her heart. Sister Tirel must have Randall at her side, but you can't expect the wounded to come to your aid. The only able-bodied fighter in your company that stands a chance of fighting alongside you is clearing the field by the second. Stretching her long legs, waving wildly, Sister Corbon's screaming finally cuts through the fog. "FATHER ANSCHAM! THE SKY!"Wide-eyed, you right yourself, and look to the behemoth leering almost directly overhead. You've successfully pulled the demon's focus away from every other fighter at your side. It's reaching down, pulsating with a field of electricity so monstrous you cannot fathom how to keep it at bay.Spangle skids to your side, breathing hard. She clearly had no idea what to do with herself, being incapable of invoking the Goddess, but rips the shield off of your back. Throwing herself beside you with the entirety of the black metal in hand, ready for death, she pleads, "do something. Please—"She's practically helpless. I am the only man alive that can invoke Mercy—It takes a single motion to unknit your hands, rip off your Relic, and thrust it into one of Sister Corbon's hands."Mercy's Relic is a gift to ALL of our children. FIGHT WITH ME.">A] Instill the Relic with your healing. Give it to Spangle while she fights alongside you, so she can mend any injuries she sees fit.>B] Bestow your ability to protect onto Sister Corbon. It's the only way you can fathom either of your surviving the assault.>C] Grant Sister Corbon your restraint. You know what it might entail, and you're ready to make that sacrifice to take this demon down. Together.>D] Write-in.
>>4256300>>A] Instill the Relic with your healing. Give it to Spangle while she fights alongside you, so she can mend any injuries she sees fit.
>>4256300>B] Bestow your ability to protect onto Sister Corbon. It's the only way you can fathom either of your surviving the assault.
>>4256335>>4256337changing B to A
>>4256335>>4256337>>4256339(Got it. Locking the vote here, writing now!)
>>4256344https://youtu.be/g0BNkw27o5EA scream rings out from Sister Corbon, as she throws the shield in hand overhead. A familiar static rises from the edges of your skin, and in her panic, all she can scream is, "HOW?!"Lightning crackles from an endless void. The rumble above is deafening— but your compassion is greater. From the last wounds adorning your own face, to the thousands that have healed under your hands, there is infinite experience to draw upon. You take hold of the object between yourself and and your priestess, and implore her with a trembling voice, "take our cure. Take my Relic. Use it, that you may heal their pain. It is unbearable, to endure as Our children suffer."She's speechless. Seized with the heat and molten metal coursing into the symbol between your hands, there's something greater than gold. You pour yourself, your training, your experience and all of your suffering into the locket. There is a void in the edges of your soul, a recess that you feel cannot hope to be healed— but it is no matter.You are the Father of Compassion."I grant you the ability to heal, through my symbol."It comes not a moment too late. Lightning falls from the sky, collapsing onto the heft of your shield. The current is absorbed by an enormous burst of dark light, coursing forth from the gift of a demon of generosity— but it can only take so much. Light explodes from the edges of your vision, in a devastating rupture so loud you cannot hope to ever hear again. At some point, Beatrice grabbed onto you, clutching with one arm so tightly to your chest that you cannot breathe. There is no air in your lungs, regardless. The world is charred, blackened, and seized with electricity.You cannot see any flowers. There is no scent of blood, or decay. There is something burning, in the back of your mind, but pain does not come. There is no seizure, and no pause in your heart.Sister Corbon has her arm wrapped around you, clutching onto your relic desperately. Fire licks at the edges of the flowers at your feet. The charred skin upon both of your bodies rapidly heals, before you can feel the sensation of certain death.Raw bone and exposed muscle knits itself back together, putting the God of Material to shame.Another lightning strike bears down.The woman at your side does not scream. There are screams, in the distance, though you cannot hope to do more than weather the Storm.You wonder if your heart will ever beat normally again. You want for pain, for sensation, for something normal. For something sane.Dozens of figures are hurling countless statues, torches, fountains and every other object they can carry. Through the onslaught, the priests of Flesh are STILL concealed by your works. You're holding on, muttering with cracked and bleeding lips to the God of Reprieve.(1/2)
>>4256399You beg for relief.The devotees to Flesh have worked their way to the very back of the garden. With you and Beatrice having pulled the demon of Storm from the gates, several have fleed, to run for aid. Those who remain are stoking the flames of their patron. They're rapidly mending their own wounds, and a growing heat is kindling from their bristling forms. Fire catches on more of the garden.Another bolt of lightning almost strikes down. You scream, desperately bringing your shaking hands together, and draw together every last remnant of Dream's invocation.In a singular drop of ink, blacker than night, you soak in the attack. It drenches over your form, and wipes the strike of the tempest from sight, sound, and all of reality.Silence remains.You realize you were deaf, until Sister Corbon restores your hearing.Were it not for the arm held tightly around you, you'd collapse to the floor. Dream leaves you, as you are too ravaged by the continuous assault to maintain His blessing. Wet coughs rise to your burning chest, from the scar lancing across your heart, and out from your paint-streaked lips.The woman at your side grimaces, silent, and certain. "Hold on."Warmth spreads through her hands, and a calm comes over your form. The pain remits. She heals you through it, all over again. Something is breaking, in the back of your mind, but you know it can be repaired.She's not going anywhere.>A] Invoke Mercy. Let Sister Corbon focus on healing herself, and as a supplement to your own ability, so you can focus on protecting the priests of Flesh.>B] Invoke Flesh. His healing is unrivaled, and you are onto the plan of the priests ahead.>C] Invoke Mercy and Flesh simultaneously. You're already at your absolute limit, but the stakes could not be more dire. Let your priestess tend to Sister Tirel, and go tear this demon down. Nothing could be worse for your sanity than continuing to endure this attack.>D] Try to invoke Dream and Mercy simultaneously. The cover you provided was the only thing stopping this demon from slaughtering everyone here. You don't care how much it may hurt you. Let Sister Corbon heal you through the worst of it, and trust in your Goddess to aid you. You HAVE to survive.>E] Write-in.
>>4256400>C] Invoke Mercy and Flesh simultaneously. You're already at your absolute limit, but the stakes could not be more dire. Let your priestess tend to Sister Tirel, and go tear this demon down. Nothing could be worse for your sanity than continuing to endure this attack.
>>4256400>>C] Invoke Mercy and Flesh simultaneously. You're already at your absolute limit, but the stakes could not be more dire. Let your priestess tend to Sister Tirel, and go tear this demon down. Nothing could be worse for your sanity than continuing to endure this attack.
>>4256400>B] Invoke Flesh. His healing is unrivaled, and you are onto the plan of the priests ahead.
>>4256425>>4256400Ah fuck it all lets do this. Changing to >C] Invoke Mercy and Flesh simultaneously. You're already at your absolute limit, but the stakes could not be more dire. Let your priestess tend to Sister Tirel, and go tear this demon down. Nothing could be worse for your sanity than continuing to endure this attack.
>>4256409>>4256424>>4256425>>4256429(Very well! Vote is locked. Writing now!)
>>4256439https://youtu.be/bMfvZmhqW0AYou have taken up Piety. Your vessel has been pushed to its limit, night and day, from the moment you've set out on this mission. Your devotion has been without parallel. You've grown, and rested, and known the Church of Flesh in ALL its forms.You have achieved.Muscles tensing, clutching your hands together, you scream, "FLESH OF MY FLESH!"The God of the Material knows of your need. The stakes could not be any more dire. There is no need for further invocation. He is on you in an instant.Muscle tensing, practically bursting from the seams of your robes, you heave aside all doubt and frailty. With deliberate tension, you move to run straight towards the demon before you. There is no fracture in your mind. There is no weakness. Every wound on your broken form is mended as rapidly as they came, and a strength is in you that surpasses all of the Gods.You know what it is to serve the God of the Material, as He intended.Sister Corbon parts her grasp, staggering aside in complete astonishment as you do not hesitate further. Without pretense, you speak to your lover. "Mercy."The flame kindling around your form plates with liquid copper. She is on you, in you, and embraces you in full. Light intertwines with the heat kindling in your body, lifting your eyes to the sky, and streaking them with solid gold. You are the only trace of this metal in the world.The sound of several weapons dropping from shocked hands can be heard clattering in the distance, even over the rumble of thunder and the crackle of lightning.Deeper, stronger, and more convicted than any many should be capable of conveying, your voice intermingles with that of two deities who want to save you. Over your shoulder, calling back to the priestess and ensuring she's a safe distance away, you command, "Go!" Tearing your long sword from its sheathe, a current of the copper-plated flame streaks around your blade. So much heat comes off of your weapon, Sister Corbon can't look upon you. Waves of devotion course through your voice, as well. "Save Sister Tirel. You know how to heal her!Another bolt of lightning is about to strike. With as much force as you can muster, you brace for the strike, and raise your weapon to the sky.You are a beacon, evidence of the Gods, and have no fear in your heart."GO!"The priestess tears off running, light practically streaking behind her. In the same moment, an attack drops from the heavens. An entire arm of the demon of Storm crashes down, onto your form. You can't help but scream."MERCY!"(1/2)
>>4256474The stone underfoot cracks, and floods with metal and flame. A vortex of heat rises from your body, in plumes of smoke. They do not come from the Storm. The speed in which your body is healing, the strength flooding through your sinew, and the might of your blade takes in the entire attack. From the center of your bones, to every last frayed nerve, you mend, and turn the energy back at your foe. A barrier of solid light and heat streaks from the palms of your hands, so blazing in its intensity that the sun itself could not hope to shine so brightly. A shield of pure energy streaks from the edges of your sight, to the ends of your hands, and eclipses your entire form.The demon of Storm is a collection of cloud, and vapor. It can still scream in agony and frustration.Its roar is nearly as devastating as the inferno you unleash. A winding spiral of gold and flame emits from your weapon, reaching up from the base of your sword, to the top of the monster upon you.It carves a hole through the beast, up to the edge of the actual sky.Every other priest of Flesh in the vicinity is stoking the garden to a roaring flame. Some of them stop their work, to gawk, or stare in absolute dismay. Heat encompasses everything in sight.You can still breathe, as Mercy works through your scorched lungs, and Flesh takes the smoke from your senses. There is light in your eyes, as you look upon the hideous orbs bearing down on you at the demon's center. It moves not with its arms, but with several of its five misshapen legs. They're evaporating from the heat of your collective might, and you have hollowed out its core— but it is not through with you.Countless screams ring out in the distance, from men and women who want to come to your aid. It would seem that your quarry is focused entirely on destroying you, with no further regard for its self-preservation. It is too colossal to be dodged, even with the might of a God and Goddess in you. The demon moves to descend, and crush you completely.>A] Leap, and cleave the demon's eyes clean from its body.>B] Exert Mercy's will onto this creature, and blind it in an instant.>C] Restrain the beast, and show it the compassion it could never hope to show to you. Grant the creature one last Mercy, while it's put to rest.>D] Write-in.
>>4256481>>C] Restrain the beast, and show it the compassion it could never hope to show to you. Grant the creature one last Mercy, while it's put to rest.MERCY FAGS UNITE
>>4256481>>C] Restrain the beast, and show it the compassion it could never hope to show to you. Grant the creature one last Mercy, while it's put to rest.THE GODS ARE MERCIFUL.
>>4256481>C] Restrain the beast, and show it the compassion it could never hope to show to you. Grant the creature one last Mercy, while it's put to rest.YOLO
>>4256487>>4256488>>4256496(LET'S DO THIIS. Vote is locked. Writing now!)
>>4256499https://youtu.be/PqXPW0oBKggWith a scream, you cast aside your sword. The might with which you throw it to the ground impales the very rock beneath, cracking with light and flame on impact. Your shield of light dissipates in an instant, while you sweep up both hands, and cry, "WE WILL EXERCISE RESTRAINT!"From your reach, countless bands of liquid copper are unleashed. Winding in and around the demon's form, it binds, contracts, and completely ensnares its form. The metal catches on the light of the sun, refracting the lightning beneath, in a display that takes the breath from your lungs. Taking in ragged breaths, tightening your hands and enforcing ALL of will, you keep the demon down. It shrieks, and writhes. The metal is searing, smoking, and setting the entire creature's body alight.It will feel no physical pain. The demon's agony comes from knowing of its impending death.In a lower tone, taking a single step forward, the rock at your feet splinters into a hundred pieces. You sink into the dirt beneath, from the heft of your muscle, the weight of the creature in your arms, and the pit of pity sinking into the recesses of your soul.You lock eyes with the demon of Storm. The swimming hues of solid gold and crimson catch on its sickly amber, though you are both pained.You share in your humanity."We are all united."A sob breaks out from the depths of the creature, a terrible groan of collapsing embers and the last of its thunder. It's dissipating. The collective heat of your fellow priests of Flesh has stoked the garden's flames to such heights, no liquid could hope to survive. A few faint crackles of lightning spark, and fade.Orange orbs, bloodied and weary, gaze wordlessly back at you.This was once a man, or a woman. They will never feel the embrace of the Gods again.With bands of gold, you draw the creature closer. As the Father of Grace, and a man of all the Gods, you pull your arms to your chest. As you stand at the center of an incomprehensible nightmare, in only a murmur, you keep your benevolence as steady as your conviction. "I know you have suffered. Rest, now, and forever."Flame licks at the edges of the beast's eyes. You have given your capacity to heal, but your compassion is endless. Keeping your embrace in full, taking in the demon's pain, healing through the might of the Storm and the death of an unfathomable monster, there is only one thing left to say:"The Gods are Merciful."The last embers of the demon of Storm flicker, and drift off, into the last of a natural wind. The bonds that held the creature in place fade into nothingness.(1/2)
>>4256545You collapse to the floor, unable to maintain your invocation to Flesh for another second. Mercy keeps you from colliding with the rock and stone, nursing at any possible pain from dropping so suddenly. On a single knee, disoriented from the sudden release of the God, you reel. Crimson and flame drops from your form, as smokes rises in thin trails from the searing rock at your feet.At least sixty men and women want to immediately rush to your side. There's a huge commotion, of spears, shields, clamoring, and people coming out from hiding. They're forced to keep their distance, as the red-hot stone beneath you is a hazard all its own. There's an enormous amount of arguing, as several figures burst forth. With blurry vision, the edges of your sight tinted with gold, you gaze upon a small figure that's darted straight through the crowd.Ofelia brandishes four daggers, somehow, and is screaming to everyone to keep back. She's wincing, obviously hurting herself. You reach out a hand, and cast a shield of light beneath her feet.Two more women rush past her side, paying no heed to her threats. One has an arm of solid gold. The assassin lowers her weapons in complete astonishment.Both priestesses meet you head-on, clearly healing themselves through any burns. The metallic limb, only possible through your works, is placed firmly on your shoulder. Sister Tirel drags you back up to your feet. Sister Corbon slams your shield to the ground, and grimaces to you. The latter keeps a hand on Sister Tirel, clearly still healing her through the sheer might of the Gods that have worked through you.The shorter of the two priestesses keeps you in her hold. They're both crying, though their faces are utterly stoic. Tears streaming down her face, Clemence takes you in both arms, and hugs you so tightly you do not need to stand of your own volition. The metal about her right arm is cutting, nowhere near as soft as it looks, and you still find the strength to hug her back.Her voice is lighter than you expected, entirely broken, unhinged, and more grateful than you could fathomed. "You came back. I knew you'd come back for us. Thank you. Thank you, Father. Thank you."Ofelia is shouting again, to the crowd. You're not sure if you can stand on your own, as darkness closes in on the edges of your sight. Not even Mercy can stave off the sheer amount of exhaustion crashing into you, but you smile, and fight through the weariness to keep your arms around Sister Tirel.>A] Pass out. Let your congregation sort out this mess. You earned your rest, and can talk later.>B] Call out for Ray, Randall, and Victor with the last of your energy. You're terrified for their safety.>C] Tell both sisters of Mercy how glad you are that they're alive. It's all you need to say.>D] There's something you need to voice to the men and women who's lives you saved. (Write-in.)>E] Write-in.
>>4256550>C] Tell both sisters of Mercy how glad you are that they're alive. It's all you need to say.and then black out
>>4256550>>C] Tell both sisters of Mercy how glad you are that they're alive. It's all you need to say.The others, I leave them to you.
>>4256550>C] Tell both sisters of Mercy how glad you are that they're alive. It's all you need to say.
>>4256567https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JfE8eU7TIc Raise our fist into the air before blacking out
>>4256557>>4256566>>4256567>>4256580(Copy that. Going to green-light extending the session for a bit, if we keep up this pace I can keep up 15 minute voting windows too! Vote is locked. Writing now.)
>>4256588https://youtu.be/TnoyRnGmnlIWith the last of your strength, to the men and women who risked their lives to save your own, you make a brief motion. Raising a single fist, your arm trembles, and you drop the limb after only a second. Clutching desperately to Sister Tirel for support, looking to her and Sister Corbon with more emotion that a man could hope to convey, you say, "I am so glad that you're both still alive."They both take you into their arms, drying their tears, and giving you their strength. Safe once again, in the hands of Mercy, you black out.-----Many people likely visit you, in the darkness.-----A deep voice gently rouses you from slumber. It's resonant, and so ethereal you wonder if you are still asleep. "Good morning, Father Anscham."You bolt upright, and immediately regret it. Pain slams into every inch of your body, despite the unbelievably soft mattress and gold-threaded sheets below and above your frame. The sewage, blood, paint, singed fabric, gore, decay, and all evidence of battle is no longer on your skin. Your Flesh is your own, you frown that your wrists are still thicker than you'd prefer, and there is unmistakably a soft blue light coming from the scar upon your chest. Drawing the sheets closer, about the gold silk pajamas you've been outfitted with, your spine straightens to complete verticality.You resist the urge to bolt out of bed.You swallow every word that wants to come forth.King Magnus, the Merciful, is sitting calmly at the side of your bed. Its canopy is of gold. The frame is of gold. The King is of gold. You would have mistaken His form for a statue, were it not for his slight smile, and the soft threads of metal comprising His long and full beard. The crown upon His head seems to be made of the very material of his radiant skin, and the sunlight in His eyes. It's easy to look upon, much like the sunrise coming up beyond the large window in the spacious room you reside in.A tremor is through you, as the King of your country smiles a little more broadly. You can't place His age, despite knowing He is ancient. You can't place His voice, but the words He speaks seem as human as any. "Did you sleep well?">A] "Y-yes, Your Grace.">B] "What did you just call me?">C] "What's happened?">D] "What day is it?">E] "WHERE IS MY CONGREGATION">F] You are legitimately too stunned to speak, and want to keep quiet. See what He says.>G] Write-in.
>>4256625>A] "Y-yes, Your Grace.">B] "What did you just call me?">C] "What's happened?">D] "What day is it?">E] "WHERE IS MY CONGREGATION"I am fairly certain all of these apply here
>>4256625>G] Write-in"As chipperly as any demon slayer, pray tell what has transcended in the mean of mine rest, your Grace."
>>4256634pls no lmao
>>4256634>>4256639>>4256642(If you guys want a more confident tone we can go that route. Would something more formal be closer in line with what you want, without ye whomst've olde english? Or are you guys fine with the prompts and want to wholly reject the tone of >>4256634 ?)
>>4256643fine with the prompts, richard has never been ye old english man so none of that pls
>>4256643I think Richard would be very confused. I like the prompts.
>>4256634(Appreciate you man, but with several votes in opposition going to go with majority.)>>4256629>>4256639>>4256642>>4256648>>4256650(Sounds great then! Locking the vote here, and writing now.)
>>4256659Dazed, blearily trying to blink the sleep out of your eyes, and focusing on how soundly you actually did sleep, you stammer, "y-yes, Your Grace. What—" you look about the room properly, past the sheer gold thread of the canopy under you reside, to all of the bookshelves, the many tables adorned with flowers, Ray sleeping soundly on a large rug just to the side, and many unoccupied chairs. "What—?"Your King patiently sits, resumes a straight face, and waits for you to compose yourself.You can't. "What did you just call me? What— what has happened? What day is it? Where— where is my congregation—?!"A single, metallic finger rises. You silence your questions, and have a relatively hard Time breathing.A few minutes pass. He is Merciful, and gives you ample Time to compose yourself.With a frown, King Magnus gives you answers you've wanted for months. "Father Anscham. We are pleased to address you in the same manner as Our subjects. All one hundred and eighty four lives saved on the footsteps of my cathedral have been singing your praises, and it would be folly to not honor their wisdom."There's a pause, a glance to the rug, and a smile. "One hundred and eighty five, if you count your hound."You blink, and take a deep breath. It feels wrong to be sitting, and you straighten your spine a little further. Everything aches. Your head aches. In two days you saved the lives of nearly two hundred people. He's probably not counting the districts that are no longer being poisoned, or those on the outskirts that no longer have to fear a demon of Agriculture."We are pleased to address you with the title you have already rightfully earned."It occurs to you that your King took fifty pages to revoke your title, and is prone to flowery discourse. You try to get comfortable. It's the least you can do, and you've already done a lot."Your actions here in Our city have been a matter of Our attention for some Time. We cannot thank you enough. Not only have you stopped a demon of Agriculture on two occasions—" a seemingly solid gold palm opens towards you, slightly, "foiled a plot by a rogue priest to sicken Our people," His other palm opens, fully displaying the symbol of Mercy, "saved the lives of Father Friedrich's men on more occasions than We can count..."The King stands. You want to stand, but to avoid sparking any further pain, or acting indecent in royal company, you remain seated.(1/3)
>>4256762His Grace is clearly moved, makes no sign of being offended, and looks out the window. Gazing upon the sun without being blinded, in a convicted and righteous tone, He mutters, "you have exposed the works of a traitorous priest. The men who witnessed your battle against the demon of Mercy reported Adrian Morris' and Theobald Stace's works to me. They will answer for their insolence. We will come back to them."Nerves have you nervously smiling. The desire for Vengeance has you torn between a grimace and laughing hysterically. The King is addressing neither priest by their title. He has a reputation for turning blasphemers into statues of solid gold.You take a very deep breath, grimace, and listen.A smile is flashed to you. White-gold teeth impossibly shine across a face worn with care and compassion. "You, however."The King closes his hands, looking away from the sunrise. The light in his opaque orbs, devoid of pupil or iris, casts against the gold in your hair, and reflects upon the ring on your left hand. "You have shown greater Mercy to Our people than any other man alive. We have heard of your compassion, your strength, and your ability to protect those in your care. You have stayed your hand, even in the face of certain death— and We would have not trusted any other to have defended Our home so valiantly."He sits back down on the bed. There's no indication of Him leaving any Time soon. The mattress squeaks slightly under your collective weight, as you both shift. King Magnus' smile broadens, and He almost laughs. "Calling you by anything but your title would be an insult to every man, woman, and child who's lives you've protected. You have demonstrated beyond all doubt that you are befitting of your position."At some point, you must have stopped breathing again. Not daring to interrupt, you try to still the tremor in your hands. It's incessant, along with the pain in your shield arm, and the ache in every other inch of you."It is the 13th day of the Tending Moon. We are in the month of Vengeance, in the season of Grace. Isn't that a funny thing?""Y-yes," you choke out, honestly finding it amusing.King Magnus drops His voice, though a slight smile persists. "You have yet to find the majority of your congregation."With legitimate pain, His voice drops further. "The blasphemers and heathens who have killed many of Our children are not welcome in Our home."He's needed me to resolve their presence in His city... because of grief?(2/3)
>>4256769You're instantly reminded of Father Friedrich, when he's spoken of losing his own sons. The King continues, distantly, "The Church of Mercy has been ordered to let them walk freely. You should be given no further trouble about Our city, given that they do not cause any further turmoil. We cannot bear to lose another life, Father Anscham."Straight-faced, and as kindly as you could hope for, the King's tone shifts into a warmer tone, soft, and wrought with sincerity. "We know you have suffered. The lengths you have gone to, to ensure the safety of Our people is without compare— and that is why We have stayed Our hand. We have written to you, with the conditions on which you are to be forgiven. We have extended our Grace unto you, for the havoc you have wrought, the murderers company you have kept, the insanity of which you are accused, and the nightmares that have been wrought upon Our great city. We did not scorn you, when you failed to report to Our side. We could have aided you, Father Anscham."In a more pained voice still, brow furrowed, the Merciful confesses, "there is still Time. You know that Our people are at their limit. We know the strength you possess, the power that you wield, and the blessings that you carry.His voice is resonant, convicted, and firm. "You are no weapon. It is with a heavy heart that We keep you in Our company. We only seek your aid it if you will give it voluntarily."The light and life comes back into your King's voice. His volume redoubles. "We would not like to give you your title. It is something you have already earned. We honor Our people, and Our country, by respecting their wishes. We wish to extend Our blessing, Father Anscham, as you are known by the entire holy city of Calunoth."The King of Corcaea leans a little across the bed, and extends a single, open hand. "Would you permit Us to address you as the rightful leader of the Church of Mercy?">A] Take the King's hand, and graciously accept His blessing. There is a LOT that needs to be said between you both, and you do NOT want to spoil this unprecedented generosity.>B] There's something that's not sitting right with you. Despite everything you've endured to get here, you have a complaint. (Write-in a disagreement, comment, concern, or any other reason why you would not want your title back.)
>>4256776>>A] Take the King's hand, and graciously accept His blessing. There is a LOT that needs to be said between you both, and you do NOT want to spoil this unprecedented generosity.We've earned this shit, goddamnit.
>>4256776>A] Take the King's hand, and graciously accept His blessing. There is a LOT that needs to be said between you both, and you do NOT want to spoil this unprecedented generosity.
>>4256776>>A] Take the King's hand, and graciously accept His blessing. There is a LOT that needs to be said between you both, and you do NOT want to spoil this unprecedented generosity.WE FUCKING BACK BOYS. DADDY IS COMING HOME
>>4256786>>4256789>>4256791(God damn, yes you have EARNED this shit. Locking the unanimous vote here, and calling the session for now. That was fucking nuts, thank you all so much for the amazing response. I will be back with an update either later tonight, or tomorrow!)
>>4256802(Thanks for your patience everyone. Writing now.)
>>4258067Clasped hands are a symbol of your church. Reaching over, back still straight, you firmly meet your King's extended hand with one of your own. He has no temperature, but keeps a firm hold as well. You lock eyes, and both of you broadly smile."Yes," you grin. "Yes. Of course. Thank you for your blessing, and for the welcome return in your magnificent home. I— I could not be looking forward more to returning to my own. To go back to Eadric— and return to the head of the Church of Mercy. Yes, Your Grace. Thank you."You both part hands simultaneously. King Magnus nods, "thank you, Father Anscham. We pray that Our lack of formality is of no offense."The idea of the usual pomp, fanfare or crowds that might have accompanied a typical ceremony has you paler than usual. "Of— of course not."A light laugh greets you. You're reminded of coins tinkling against one another. "Your respect for Our people's Time is greatly appreciated. We trusted you would appreciate Our discretion in the matter. Rest assured, the word has already been put out thanks to your efforts in days past. We will conduct a formal announcement. The matter of your homecoming, or any additional affairs, is at your discretion."The slight smile on your face lifts a little higher. Thinking back to Eadric has always been bittersweet, at best. The great halls of your home, its expansive gardens cultivated under your hand, the winding cobblestone roads, and every fortified home within the security of Eadric has a mist in your eyes. Taking Ray down long walks through markets, under an open sky, without fear of scrutiny would be more than you could ask for. For the first Time in your life, there's a fondness, and a want for return.The wistful look in your eye is as plain to read as your speech. Softly, King Magnus states, "it should be a great comfort to know that Eadric has fared well, in your absence. Your former Brothers did not let your gardens burn to the ground."A relieved and entirely normal frown works itself back across your face at the change in your King's tone. Your heart is still racing, and you absolutely could sleep for another two days, but it's of no matter. You patiently sit, focus on the present, and listen."Before you make any preparations to return, We would like to grant you a few more gifts, Father Anscham."(1/2)
>>4258184Avoiding every urge to fidget, you patiently continue to wait. King Magnus looks to you earnestly. "You have served Our country for only a few years. We know they have been wrought with turmoil. Your work has been undermined at each and every opportunity. We are not omniscient, though it pains Us to know now of how much suffering could have been stayed by Our hand. We seek to do everything in our power to support our leaders. Your sacrifices, and your diligence, is to be respected. We will not permit so much strife to fall upon you again. Not if We can aid you. Is there anything you wish to ask of Us?"It's impossible to not fidget. King Magnus laughs again, but more lightly, and clearly only at His own position. "This is no test. You may find it difficult to believe, but I do not speak lightly." Sternly, dropping all humor from his voice, He implores you, "truly. Do you have any questions for Us? Is there anything we may provide, to ease the remainder of your work in Calunoth? Rest assured, We would happily make any accommodations to aid in your transition back home, as well. An audience with Us is a rare enough thing. We wish to grant you every opportunity to speak, as well, Father Anscham."(Options clipped just over character limit, will be in next post.)
>>4258190>A] You want a proper, formal overview of what being the Father of the Church of Mercy entails. You formerly struggled to make it day-to-day in the position, and never REALLY had the guidance you desperately needed. (Write-in any specifics you might be curious about, and/or how in-depth of an overview you want. You'll greet your position with the same experience and authority you've always had, regardless.)>B] Ask if King Magnus will permit you to delegate the remaining search for your congregation to your own men and women. You truly want to go home.>1] You'll handle the details, of course, but additional security, funding and no interference with your travel would be greatly appreciated.>2] You need a guarantee that you can deal with Morris and Stace, without fear of retribution.>3] His blessing is legitimately more than you could ask for. There's enough resources at your disposal to handle the rest.>C] Making sure it legitimately is no issue, ask if you could be permitted to postpone your return to Eadric. You personally need to conduct the remaining search for your congregation. Being able to freely move about the city should make the search INFINITELY easier on your sanity, your men, and your safety.>1] Risk the offense, and implore your King for adequate Time to finish your work without exhausting anyone in the process. It's been days since you did so much as sit down, let alone see the city without being actively pursued.>2] As tactfully as humanly possible, broach the topic of Lady Edith and Sir Douglas. It may dramatically help your cause to know both sides of the story, for all of the royalty in your company.>3] Promise that you will see to the job as quickly as humanly possible. You don't fear royalty. You simply have an unparalleled respect (and fear) for Time. Those men and women may still be hiding, and not know of what you've accomplished.>D] Politely inquire about King Magnus Himself. Your training in etiquette is substantial, and normally this private audience would be unthinkable. You know you can risk it. Your King clearly wants to have an actual partnership with you. (Write-in any specific questions or things you might want to say, otherwise, a little human discourse will be opted for.)>E] Mercy, there is a lot to be said. (Write-in virtually anything else you may want to ask or discuss.)
>>4258194>C] Making sure it legitimately is no issue, ask if you could be permitted to postpone your return to Eadric. You personally need to conduct the remaining search for your congregation. Being able to freely move about the city should make the search INFINITELY easier on your sanity, your men, and your safety.>2]
>>4258194Answers. I have been kept in the dark for so long. I only wish to serve as best I can.>A] You want a proper, formal overview of what being the Father of the Church of Mercy entails. You formerly struggled to make it day-to-day in the position, and never REALLY had the guidance you desperately needed. (Write-in any specifics you might be curious about, and/or how in-depth of an overview you want. You'll greet your position with the same experience and authority you've always had, regardless.)The reach of the Church of vast, my absence has hurt plenty of people and places, I wish to know where my attention is needed *most*. And in short, of the realm at large.My relic, are there any records of other such items? The archives of Calunoth are vast and I would love to find out more about Her gift.>D] Politely inquire about King Magnus Himself. Your training in etiquette is substantial, and normally this private audience would be unthinkable. You know you can risk it. Your King clearly wants to have an actual partnership with you. (Write-in any specific questions or things you might want to say, otherwise, a little human discourse will be opted for.)How have you been?
>>4258208>>4258210>>4258236(Nice, nice. We can 1000% combine these. Locking here, writing now.)
>>4258261Unable to battle down the tremor in your form any longer, you implore your King in turn. "Answers, Your Grace. I have been kept in the dark for so long."Legitimate compassion, in a brow as furrowed as your own, reflects off of the morning sun. King Magnus remains silent and unmoving, as you plead, "the hands of the Church of Mercy reach out, across the entirety of Corcaea— and to every one of my children beyond its borders." Wincing, you murmur, "my absence has hurt so many."Not lingering in self-pity, determined, and convicted, you insist, "I wish to know where my attention is needed most. Our people, and our home at large. If I may be so bold, it would be an honor to know how You have been as well, Your Grace."King Magnus shifts, leans across the bed, and does something that sends more lightning through your spine than every bolt that struck you this week.He gently puts a hand to your shoulder. "We have fared better. It is as We said. Our people are at their limit. We will not burden you will any affairs greater than your own." He squeezes, very slightly, and offers you a weary smile."We cannot care for others, if we fail to care for ourselves. Your absence was necessary, Father Anscham, but We must ask you to look at it as a blessing."You're too stunned to do more than nod in reply.He pulls back, and looks to you with the same furrowed brow. "We are the face of Mercy. You are our hands. The absence of your work has been devastating. We know that you, and you alone, possess Her gifts—"Before you can say anything, you're silenced by look so stern you almost fear for your life."The Gods see fit to work through mankind. It is not Our place to judge the work of another."His verbiage has every hair on your body standing on end. For the humanity in His speech, the King is unmistakably excluding Himself from all reference to mortal affairs."Our gifts, Our healing, and Our protection persists. It always will. We are a beacon for the people. You have taken it upon yourself to wrest this gift from all others."His voice drops, in a warning, and the answer you seek. "You must take up the work of all others, if Mercy's love is what you truly wish for."It's not a question, or up for discussion of any sort. A look that could kill is being bored straight into your skull, from an inhuman stare, devoid of pupils or irises.You dare to reply, regardless. "I do.""Father Anscham. Your church has been without their Goddess. They will look to you as the only evidence of Her works in the entire world. Do you understand?"(1/3)
>>4258423"Yes," you breathe, trying to not suffocate. The position was nearly impossible to fill when you had dozens of hands at your disposal. Without the ability to invoke, your clergy are still healers, fighters, and sages— but they are not miracle workers. Every single man, woman and child in the country knows that the Church of Mercy cannot turn away a weary soul from their doors. They cannot refuse a soul seeking refuge in their halls— and they must attempt to save every life within their grasp.It will be nearly impossible, with only you and the Goddess."I will do as I have always done," you firmly assert, finding your voice. "I wish only to serve, as well as I am able."Unfastening the gold chain from behind your neck, you almost immediately drop the item upon pulling it off from your skin. Holding your Relic to the light, it's still caked with blood, ink, paint and viscera. You pull it back, wanting to apologize, and look frantically around for something to clean it with.King Magnus breaks from his frown, back into a smile. "Further evidence of your sacrifices is no cause for concern." A handkerchief is fished out, and handed immediately towards you. "Thank you," you nod, taking the gold-threaded item, trying to not complain about how impractical it is. Working your arms to scrape off the caked-on filth, keeping your eyes down, you murmur, "my Relic—"He makes a point of repeating it. "Your Relic."The whites of your eyes are probably entirely visible, wordlessly asking for further confirmation."There will be Time for a full report on its acquisition. It is yours, beyond all doubt. What would you ask of Our gifts?""Are there—" you have already nervously buffed the item to cleanliness, and fidget with the filthy handkerchief awkwardly, "is there any record of— of any other Relics? The archives of Calunoth are vast. In all of my research, I had found so little in the way of anything similar."Unable to decide what to do with your hands, you refasten the locket about your neck, keep the handkerchief in one hand, and simply place the other over your heart. With a reminder of your Goddess nestled beneath your palm, you murmur, "I would love to learn. To know more of Her gift.""You are the third person in your company to ask Us that very question, Father Anscham."You blink. "Pardon me?"A smirk replies. "Sister Harriet Cardew has written to Our archivists so often, they had to post additional guard. There are rumors she may attempt to break in, if any more information is withheld from her. Their suspicions were confirmed! We intercepted your congregation member, Walter Middleton. He fancies himself a professor. He is still holed up in one of the deepest wings."(2/3)
>>4258427It's clear that He isn't avoiding the question, but wants you to fully understand the situation. "It is a matter of grave importance. It is now public knowledge that you possess a priceless artifact. One of legend."You can't help but fidget more intensely. More answers come. "We have records in Our possession, and a few stories in Murgate, of the possible existence of such items. However, the confirmation of a Relic's existence is unprecedented, in all of Our recorded history."The King leans in, and in an incredibly low voice, declares, "it is no coincidence that Corcaea has little in the way of recorded history."You straighten up a little further, shove down the obsession at the forefront of your mind, quell the insanity in your voice, tense enough to stop the tremor through your entire body, and politely state, "with your permission, Your Grace." He nods. "I will settle for nothing less than to personally oversee the rest of my work, here, in Calunoth. To root out the remainder of my congregation, ensure their location, and see to their safety. To their work. I ask you for one further blessing."The nodding stops."I wish to postpone my return to Eadric. It wouldn't be right, to return to the Church of Mercy with anything less than ALL of its members at my side."Another nod is granted to you. "This was hardly a test, Father Anscham, but you continue to impress Us. Of course you may. It would be an enormous service to Our city, and to Our people. You will go with Our blessing."You both sit in silence, for a long moment.You can't help yourself, twitching as you wring your hands together. Desperation cuts down every pretense of formality. "Please, tell me everything. Everything."Straightening up fully, offering you a weary glance, King Magnus murmurs, "We would be here well into the next age, Father Anscham. We do appreciate your enthusiasm, but there is little that you truly need to know regarding these items."The grip you're keeping on your own hands is tight enough that your scarred knuckles whiten. "I need to know.""You repurposed yours, did you not?"Eyes wide, you try to digest the implications of the statement. "I did.""Its former owner's intent has been lost to you, has it not?"Your mind is racing.(Barely over, 3/4)
>>4258433 "I was capable of utilizing Idonea's Relic—" an eyebrow is raised to you, "she was a former Mother of Mercy—" both eyebrows are raised to you, "—I was able to use Her locket, in its original form—"King Magnus is smirking. He crosses his arms, and looks to you expectantly.You sigh, and place a hand to your temple. Your head is killing you. "I have more information than you likely do.""We can sit here, and regale you with the stories We have been told." The King apologetically murmurs, "your service to Corcaea has encompassed that of almost any other. We strongly suspect that your expedition into the ruins has garnered far greater blessings, still."He really wants that report."It may have to wait," He sighs, looking to the sunrise. It's fully come up above the edges of the city, casting light off of distant painted glass. "Time has always escaped Us. We are keeping someone waiting.">A] The King's company seriously needs to wait. God, you want answers. Stories are fine. Legend is fine. Anything is fine! God DAMMIT YOU ARE DESPERATE FOR ANSWERS>1] Keep your composure. This is still your King. Stay polite, let Him speak, and see what He wants to say. Leave it at that.>2] He really needs to know how badly this has taxed you. Give Him the full report on your excursion into the ruins. Say it will be on the condition King Magnus gives you full disclosure on each and every finding He can in turn. You can't fathom a more important conversation in the history of mankind. >B] You are actually occupying what is likely the busiest man's Time in all of Corcaea. Legitimately, your fear of disrespecting the Goddess of the Sands surpasses all other obsessions in your life.>1] Promise King Magnus that you will draft a complete report on your excursion into the ruins as soon as humanly possible, and have it safely given to Him. You want to keep in contact, know you both are fully capable of it, and need to get back to business.>2] Simply ask the King if He can let you know where to conduct a search for further information yourself, specifically. Your report has to wait. You have two members of your clergy who are actively seeking this information, as well. You know you can get answers on your own Time, and that your King understands how much this all means to you.>C] Write-in.
>>4258434>>B] You are actually occupying what is likely the busiest man's Time in all of Corcaea. Legitimately, your fear of disrespecting the Goddess of the Sands surpasses all other obsessions in your life.>2] Simply ask the King if He can let you know where to conduct a search for further information yourself, specifically. Your report has to wait. You have two members of your clergy who are actively seeking this information, as well. You know you can get answers on your own Time, and that your King understands how much this all means to you.
>>4258434>A2We never get around to writing letters
>>4258434>A] The King's company seriously needs to wait. God, you want answers. Stories are fine. Legend is fine. Anything is fine! God DAMMIT YOU ARE DESPERATE FOR ANSWERS>1] Keep your composure. This is still your King. Stay polite, let Him speak, and see what He wants to say. Leave it at that.
>>4258434>A1 like the sauce
>>4258438>>4258439>>4258442>>4258451(These were pretty mutually exclusive, going to lean towards majority but work in as much as I can. Vote is locked! May not be able to update for a bit but will write ASAP.)
>>4258475"Your Grace," you plead, fighting down every urge to lose your composure, "please. I cannot begin to understand how precious Your Time is, and You know— You must understand how much I respect Her will. I would never dare lie to you. The— the extent of the report you must want— it is difficult enough for me to manage even the simplest of correspondence. I would never wish to make a promise you that I could not keep."Desperation nearly wins out, the tremor in your hands working itself through your voice. "Anything at all you could share— anything you find fitting of my Time. Even a single indication of where to start looking— for myself, or for the men and women under my care—"King Magnus chuckles. You stop."We do not mean to try your patience. Our company can wait a moment longer. It would be the smallest Mercy, to spare you from further searching." The King rises, to cross over to a nearby bookshelf. Sweeping up a piece of parchment, you balk as he begins to etch gold script into the page with nothing but the tip of his fingers. "Give this to your priestess and professor, if you so wish."Crossing back over to you, giving the parchment and its impossible script over, you gaze upon a complex series of directions, for the location of a key, and a royal acknowledgement. It's clearly for both scholars in your congregation to have limited access to the royal archives. You don't even want to fold the precious paper or its stunning script, and awkwardly look for an envelope.King Magnus seems to have found one while you were reading, and gladly takes the item back, to enclose it. Pressing an index finger to the back of the paper, smoke rises from the heat of it. You stare at a mound of wax that is produced, which rapidly cools. The item is handed to you, emblazoned with the impression of His crest. The many leafed flower, the rays of light at its back, and the likeness of the man standing before you stares back at the sage and gold in your own eyes."Father Anscham." The King pulls your attention back to the present. "What your congregation will not find is more ancient history. That of a dismantled union. Our broken lineage."Age bears down upon broad shoulders. Though His cloak looks to be made of the same material as His hair and skin, the gold does not wave behind King Magnus as He rises. Looking down to you, He declares, "our first Kings were not to be of the Gods themselves. Incapable of utilizing Their works, it is said— and you must understand, Father Anscham, this is only what We have been told—" you wordlessly nod, "it is said that these men fashioned themselves after the Gods own images."Looking to the locket about your neck, the flawless metal and no trace of any age or wear, you murmur, "what?""You know that Our position is evidence of the Gods."(1/3)
>>4258617His inhumanity is unmistakable. "Y-yes, Your Grace.""Our first Kings were united in their devotion to one another. They were incapable of wielding the Gods collective might. They fractured off pieces of themselves."You're far from squeamish. Legitimate, morbid fascination cuts through your question. "My Relic is a fragment of a corpse?""Not necessarily."The locket about your neck could not be any more immaculate. You know that you, your allies, demons and the Gods themselves have worked through it. It's like almost nothing else of this world.A realization hits you so hard, you feel the entire world shift out from under you. A wave of familiar nausea hits you, along with another fracture in the back of your mind. You simultaneously feel whole, and completely broken."It's a different kind of Catalyst.""They wanted to find an answer, Father Anscham. They needed their strength to be shared. They needed their weakness to be shared, as well.""What—" you're stuttering, and can't help but twitch, "w-why—?""We have no idea what their intentions may have been. We can speculate, Father Anscham, that it was to protect our people. Humanity once encompassed a land far greater than Corcaea's borders. There was not always one King of the realm. There has never been but one God over mankind. There may be more than one Relic..."King Magnus takes a long pause, stops his pacing, and sits back down beside you. "There are those among our people who will never know of Our history. There are many who doubt the existence of the Gods, despite Their works being witnessed within their own lives." Somberly, he finishes, "for the length of Our reign, for all of Our Time, we did not expect to ever look upon a legend. This is history of a different kind."He might not be talking about the item in your hands. You grimace. "This all means more than I could hope to convey. Thank you, Your Grace.""You may wish to spare your thanks."He grins. It's mischievous.You try to not have a panic attack. "W-why?""There is good reason that We deferred to your judgement, in regards to Time. The company waiting on both of Us is of equal concern to Our affairs."A cold sweat sticks to the back of the impossibly fine pajamas you're wearing, at the nape of your neck, and against the plush head of the bed frame. You realize you're probably inching backwards. "Wh-what— or who, p-precisely—"The King of your country doesn't have Time for games. Plainly, He answers, "Father Sullivan."(2/3)
>>4258622You try to not vomit, jump out of bed, or grab for your sword. Twitching at the name, you mutter, "where is he?""Waiting," King Magnus calmly cautions, "until We are certain you both can speak on civil terms. We wish to settle this affair under the safest conditions possible. One without any further bloodshed."In a very low tone, you're informed, "respecting the affairs of Our countries finest men and women typically does not require intervention, but Our leaders are of the greatest importance to Us. This situation has gotten entirely out of hand. If you need additional Time, We understand, but We will happily accompany you to see him, to provide you with any support you need. Father Anscham—"He cuts Himself off. A grimace greets you, burning more deeply into the King's face than the sun itself. "—but if either of you cause any further insanity within these halls, or bring harm to a single one of Our children, I may forget myself."A long silence hangs between you both. The King frowns apologetically. "Father Sullivan has hurt you, and countless others. His behavior has not escaped from Our notice. This is the greatest Mercy We can extend towards either of you."The frown persists. He's clearly devastated. "To suffer yet another extended absence from one of Our churches is more than We can bear. You have been gone for months, Father Anscham. The Church of Agriculture has had a vacancy for years. Father Sullivan has behaved monstrously, but We appointed him for more reasons than We have the Time to convey. You do not have to trust Us, or respect Our appointment."Relenting in his frown, opening both hands towards you, the King looks to you with a straight face. "He is here for your audience. We would like to conduct it under your terms, as he— and all others in Corcaea— are to answer to your compassion. He is to come to your heel. We do not wish to force this meeting upon you. It is yours to make, as always."(Options in next post.)
>>4258626>A] You don't trust yourself to not kill Father Sullivan on sight. As respectfully as you can, thank King Magnus for all of the trouble He surely went through to facilitate this meeting, but reject the offer.>B] Plainly let King Magnus know that you don't trust yourself to not kill Father Sullivan on sight, but that you would like to speak with him, regardless.>1] You'd like to make yourself presentable, and meet him somewhere formally, safely within the castle.>2] The King might have something in mind. Leave it to his discretion.>C] You seriously are ready to handle this. You're the Father of Compassion. Every single slur that this psychopath spread about you has been a lie, and you're going to prove it.>1] Ask King Magnus if you can arrange a public meeting.>2] You are Merciful, and wish to keep the humiliation private, for Sullivan's sake.>D] Write-in.
>>4258628>B] Plainly let King Magnus know that you don't trust yourself to not kill Father Sullivan on sight, but that you would like to speak with him, regardless.>1] You'd like to make yourself presentable, and meet him somewhere formally, safely within the castle.Control urge to purge
>>4258628>C] You seriously are ready to handle this. You're the Father of Compassion. Every single slur that this psychopath spread about you has been a lie, and you're going to prove it.>2] You are Merciful, and wish to keep the humiliation private, for Sullivan's sake.
>>4258628>>C] You seriously are ready to handle this. You're the Father of Compassion. Every single slur that this psychopath spread about you has been a lie, and you're going to prove it.>2] You are Merciful, and wish to keep the humiliation private, for Sullivan's sake.We won. We now sue for peace, on our own terms. Best case scenario, let's milk Daddy Sulli for all he is worth.
>>4258734>>4258789>>4258797(Self-control and a private meeting. Comments duly noted, vote is locked! Writing now.)
>>4259445Swallowing another wave of nausea, shoving down your grimace, suppressing the immediate desire for Vengeance, and taking a very deep breath, you give yourself just another moment. You count backwards from ten, and twenty, and take a few more breaths.It's not blood-lust that threatens to consume you. You desperately want to control yourself. You're not a nightmare. You're the Father of Compassion, and thinking of causing any further grief is more than you can bear."I want peace," you choke out, "and to have it on my own terms." There's enough pain in your voice to cause King Magnus to wince. "If we are to humiliate Sullivan, Your Grace, I wish to do so in private."Taking another ragged breath, straightening up further, you murmur, "I can hope, and pray, that he wants for the same. No matter what lies he has spread, or the havoc he has wrought. Even— even to have his aid— would be preferable to the insanity he's unleashed on our home." No matter how much pain is wracking your limbs, you move to get out of bed. "No matter how much damage he has done to my life."King Magnus keeps a little distance, making sure you're in sufficient condition to stand on your own before fully backing away. Ray picks himself up from the rug immediately, trotting over, and giving you an excuse to take a knee. Whining, demanding a pat on the head, your boy looks up to you with wide eyes. He's clean, his fur has clearly been groomed, and there's no new scars upon his face.Closing your eyes momentarily, in gratitude and relief, you give your aching limbs one more moment of rest. Kneeling down, scratching your boy behind his ears, you murmur, "you are the real hero here, aren't you, Ray? Good boy. You are such a good boy."Patiently, making no motion to move, your King grants you every moment you need.No hand is offered, as you take one last deep breath, and get back to your feet of your own volition. It's abundantly clear that your invocation to Dream has you exhausted beyond belief. The deep scar lancing your chest is unmistakable, as the pajamas you're wearing has a low neck, and the paint adorning the crack in your skin is surreal to behold. There's significantly more twitching in your overworked muscle than you'd like, and even though your invocation to Flesh was far better than most, you are still ragged.Fidgeting with the edge of your collar, you struggle to maintain any further eye contact. "If it is not too much to ask—""We know you care little for gilt or glamour, Father Anscham, and would not waste your Time with any more ceremonial garb. King Magnus moves for the door, nodding towards a nearby chair with a pile of cloth draped over it. "Your robes were mended. We will send word for Father Sullivan, and to our escort."(1/4)
>>4259579Over a radiant shoulder, with a smile, King Magnus gives a little more advice before He leaves. "Try not to worry yourself, Father Anscham."It's out of the question to respond. Not wanting to lie, or to let anyone down, you simply wait for Him to depart. You're relieved to hear no locks click into place after the enormous, banded, wooden door at the end of the room, as it closes back shut.It's comfortably warm, and quiet. A few birds chirp outside, in fresh air, and the scent of Grace's flowers on a light wind. Glancing out the window, to the morning sky, you see you're at least four stories above the ground. Clearly on the opposite side of the castle, overlooking a district of Calunoth you've yet to see, hundreds of homes greet you in turn. You make quick work of closing the gilded curtains, and getting back into a high-collared shirt. It's black, and well-fitted, as much as equally dyed trousers and fine leather shoes. Everything is such high quality, you feel slightly guilty for even wearing it. Grimacing, at least relieved to notch your belt a little tighter, the silk is welcome underneath the robes that Father Wilhelm gifted to you. There's no trace of sewage, paint, ink or blood along the fabric, which sits as nicely on you as you could hope.Almost as an afterthought, moving towards the door, you murmur, "gold, in a deeper hue."The fabric swims for a moment, from the gaudy resemblance to the King's colors, into a refined and significantly more flattering shade. The amber does not catch on the light, save for complimenting Mercy's ring, and your Relic worn openly. With a black trim produced along the collar, the edges of your sleeves, and about the rest of the trim nearest your feet, it's devastatingly tasteful. A grimace still fits across your face, as you emerge from your chambers. A guard of no fewer than twenty men is posted directly outside of your door. They all straighten, and move to address or announce you.King Magnus is standing just outside, and motions for them all to pipe down. Waving His hand, He practically reflects off of the polished floor and glistening chandeliers above. A nod is made towards your form, as you finish letting Ray out of the room, with a grin. It's abundantly clear that He wants to comment on your attire, but for appearances sake, is remaining as formal as you would expect.The scowl on your face almost relents. Not a word is spoken, as you both begin a procession through the castle halls. Walking side by side, you realize your height is rivaled, for once. It's of great comfort to have a more stoic companion, with strides just as broad.(2/4)
>>4259582Ancient stone quickly passes by. The high ceilings stretch nearly thirty feet high in many places. Painted glass adorns nearly every recess and hall, depicting past Kings, their many children, tales of legend, and images reminiscent of the Gods Themselves. Beneath the refracting, colorful light is a great number of halls, myriad chambers of business, multiple lords and ladies who do not pay you any mind, and many more that do.Your attention snaps more frequently to the frequent presence of weighty bookshelves, a number of scholars, and several priestesses of Mercy flitting about their work. Every single member of your church at least nods their head at your passing. Even while deeply engrossed in their devotion, many more completely drop their business. It feels as if every hands is extended in the symbol of your church, from those who cannot take the Time to formally acknowledge you.It's a lot of fuss. Almost wanting for the company of lecherous demons, assassins with remarkable baking skills, or air-headed priests, you try to not mind the ceremony. Ray at least is delighted by the amount of attention he's getting, trotting alongside you, without any discrimination. Your tremor is far better than usual, as well. Stretching your legs seems to do wonders for the twitch in your back and right arm.Your relief continues, as you all arrive at a small, innocuous, study door. King Magnus makes several motions to the guards behind you all, to return, to go about their business, or to remain by his side.Ultimately, you're granted with another weary smile. A guard rushes over, at King Magnus' motion, and opens the door for you both. There is a bend in the hall just ahead, so you merely get a glimpse of several potted flowers in the recess of the wall. Rushing in, the guard briefly and quietly announces a few titles, which you tune out immediately before entering the chamber.You catch a glimpse of a series of bookshelves, and a few small tables outfitted with wine and glasses. Upon them are several open tomes, and a significant amount of parchment. Slid against the back wall are three exceptionally fine armchairs, obscured by a ponce, standing dead center in the room.He's elderly, and nearly a foot shorter than you. With a receding hairline, it's a marvel that Father Sullivan still has so much of his fine, long, stark-white hair. The neatly combed strands are not even draped over his narrow shoulders, as they're preoccupied with several shawls, excessively bleached robes, and a gaudy series of string. The entire form is almost an obscene display of Spirit's symbol. His skin is almost as pale as the whites of his eyes, opaque as his disturbingly milky irises, fully visible against the absence of black pupils.The man almost looks transparent, save for deep bags under his eyes. It looks like Father Sullivan hasn't slept in weeks.(3/4)
>>4259583You stride across the plush, fur rug upon the floor, moving in before your King. The royalty at your back silently walks in behind you, and silently sits in one of the armchairs. Waving a hand to the guard to exit, and to close the door, it's clear that He truly wanted to accompany you as a mediator.The corners of Father Sullivan's lips twitch. He has to look up to you to see you, and resentment is slaking every inch of his narrow form.The last Time you gazed upon one another, you were shackled to the floor of a cell, and could barely lock eyes with him. Your brow furrows. Looking down, you realize your hands have been clasped, and have been fidgeting with your Relic incessantly since you've left your room.The Father of the Church of Spirit doesn't gaze upon your accomplishments. It seemed at first as if he was staring right through you, but you realize that the man is scrutinizing every last scar upon your face.Sullivan clearly isn't going to make the first move.>A] You're a sharp, intelligent, and resourceful man. Demonstrate to Father Sullivan that you are not a prisoner, a lunatic, or a fool. You'll play his game, without giving the priest an inch, and are certain it will command more of his respect.>B] The thought of more mind games is enough to make you physically ill. You're a farmer's son, a fisherman, a dog-lover and a priest of Mercy. Speak plainly, regardless of what Father Sullivan has in mind. He is to answer to your authority, and this working relationship is to be on your terms alone.>C] Spell out exactly what you expect. You're not wasting Time, or making this about anything more than business. Shut down the priest if he dares to bring up a single personal attack. You don't care if it's rude, or will alienate him. You will show this man enough compassion to not kill him on the spot, and that is the extent of your Mercy.>D] You once said you would kill your enemies with kindness. You'd like to follow through, and demonstrate your lack of ill-will. You'll wait here all day, if necessary. Father Sullivan needs to accept that you are here to have an actual, human conversation.>E] Write-in.
>>4259584>B] The thought of more mind games is enough to make you physically ill. You're a farmer's son, a fisherman, a dog-lover and a priest of Mercy. Speak plainly, regardless of what Father Sullivan has in mind. He is to answer to your authority, and this working relationship is to be on your terms alone.Dude looking like a demon
>>4259584>>C] Spell out exactly what you expect. You're not wasting Time, or making this about anything more than business. Shut down the priest if he dares to bring up a single personal attack. You don't care if it's rude, or will alienate him. You will show this man enough compassion to not kill him on the spot, and that is the extent of your Mercy.
>>4259584>C] Spell out exactly what you expect. You're not wasting Time, or making this about anything more than business. Shut down the priest if he dares to bring up a single personal attack. You don't care if it's rude, or will alienate him. You will show this man enough compassion to not kill him on the spot, and that is the extent of your Mercy.
>>4259584>>D] You once said you would kill your enemies with kindness. You'd like to follow through, and demonstrate your lack of ill-will. You'll wait here all day, if necessary. Father Sullivan needs to accept that you are here to have an actual, human conversation.WE need to remember that the King is also here, if we keep impressing him maybe he won't chop our head off when he finds out we are allied with an archdemon. Maybe he is gonna give us more access the the archives too.
>>4259594>>4259659>>4259673>>4259690(You know what? We can do all of these. Why not. Locking the vote here, and writing now.)
>>4259785He resembles a demon more than a man.The ghost of a priest was terrifying enough to see as a child, from your cell within the Church of Mercy. Under long shadows from the surrounding candlelight, especially now, Father Sullivan seems monstrous. You glance over your shoulder, to King Magnus. The light is still catching on His gilded frame.Fear and rampant paranoia creeps into every inch of you. The thought of playing one more mind game has your stomach turning.The idea of your King learning of your alliance with an archdemon is even more miserable.The prospect of the Father of Knowledge revealing a single one of your secrets is unbearable.You're an honest, patient man— and your fear is always justified. Not merely to impress your King— but for the sake of your Goddess, and everything you stand for— you wait. Through the misery drenching you, you simply stand, and stare back to your tormentor. Father Sullivan doesn't move. Neither of you even attempt to speak.Many long minutes pass, as the heady wine in the room warms. The scent of beeswax candles intermingles with the still grape and spice. There's also the faintest scent of lilies, from the self-indulgent man before you, and a sickness catches in your throat.There's no use playing this psychopath's games. The full extent of your training in etiquette and manners of the church extends to the abuse and torture of two priests who no longer even serve under you. Your broad shoulders cast a slight shadow over the bleached cloth adorning Father Sullivan's arms. They stay at his side, seemingly open to whatever you wish to say.You try to not vomit, "Sullivan."The word sticks to your tongue, begging to be washed away with something more tasteful. Hands shaking, you unclasp your fingers from the locket about your neck. It takes everything you have, but you open your hands before the priest before you. With the symbol of Mercy on display, pained and devastated, you murmur, "it's been over a decade."The corners of his lips twitch, again. A dreadful thought occurs to you.He doesn't want to embarrass himself.With a ragged breath, you sigh, "wasting one more moment of our Time is unthinkable. King Magnus, the Merciful, has extended an unbelievable amount of generosity unto both of us. Do not insult His Grace. Do not insult this opportunity, and unprecedented compassion. You must know that I would like for nothing more than to speak with you freely."(1/3)
>>4259845You drop your voice, and murmur, "I wish for nothing more than to have a human conversation. You're said to have a keen mind. To know is to serve, Sullivan. The lies you have spread regarding my congregation were blasphemous, at best. The blatant disregard you've shown towards my authority is grounds for treason. Under the best of circumstances, I have worried for the lives of over a dozen men and women— and that is to say nothing of the havoc that's been wrought by your design."Standing completely straight, looking down, your scowl eclipses every deep line in the liar's face. "I want nothing more than to learn. My research, and every attempt at service to our country, has been obstructed. You have failed me, at every possible opportunity. You have delayed my work, threatened my life, and jeopardized the safety of countless innocents."Father Sullivan meets your eyes. The stare is uncomfortable to an extreme, but you match it, as his brow furrows.In a low voice, legitimately disgusted, you drive the last nail into his coffin. "Do you wish to insult Spirit, as well?"An utterly broken voice trails out, as thin and immaterial as a string of thread. "You know I already have."You lean forward slightly, keeping the stare, and battle down a severe twitch in your right arm. Closing your hands into fists, you grit out, "elaborate."A single breath escapes the priest. "I couldn't understand."Something fractures in the back of your mind. He sounds cracked beyond repair."I need to know, Richard. I never truly understood. It escapes me, even now."You want to take a step back, but hold your ground, and give the man room to speak.He pleads, "what truly stops you?"Another twitch runs through your arm. You realize you keep tensing the same spot you usually hold your shield in, but can't relax in the slightest. "What do you mean?""You could have escaped. You could have fled. You could have stopped the separation of your family. You could have killed Morris, and Stace, many Times over. You can call upon all of the Gods, Richard. You could have enabled their research. You could have spoken with me freely. You could have experimented, in any way, and have demonstrated an utter inability to know—"You put up a hand. "Not another word."The shatter in Father Sullivan's composure is absolute. The crack in his voice, and the insanity wrapping into each and every word is like another shard of glass scraping against your own Spirit. "She acknowledges your right to invoke Her. My folly is inescapable. I have done everything in my power to keep you from going back—"A slight laugh escapes, tilting in an unnatural way. You wince. It's one of the ugliest things you've ever heard.(2/3)
>>4259848"I have been wrong, Richard. I have wasted so much of our lives. I have spurned Time, and contradicted the very will of the Goddess. I have accused you of each and every sin that I have possessed—"You want to interject, but the priest now can't seem to stop talking."—and for what purpose? To contradict Spirit's will? To obfuscate your growth? I—" he laughs again, very slightly, "you know the strain we are all under. It broke you. It broke you so thoroughly, I prayed you would never come back together again. I hoped, and worked, and struggled to ensure that no greater strain could befall you, short of your own madness. I—"Father Sullivan puts both hands to his head, messing his neatly combed hair, and breaks eye contact. He's clearly too ashamed of himself to even look at you, and mutters, "I thought it was Mercy."He needs to know exactly what has stayed my hand.Good.>A] This is horrible, and an embarrassment. Tell the priest to pull himself together. Channel Father Friedrich's energy if you must. You ARE better, in every conceivable way, BECAUSE of what you have endured. Drive in just how wrong he's been. You don't care if it breaks Sullivan— you NEED to make your message clear.>B] You really just want to understand, too. Try to open the conversation, and don't shut down any stupid insults or excuses. After every bit of slander his church has directed towards you, it would be poetic to out-do this man's own Spirit. He's clearly aware of how wrong he's been, and there is no weight behind his words any longer.>C] Being fully aware of how monstrous his behavior has been is no excuse, but you aren't about to kick him while he's down. Now is as good a Time as any to impress the King, and honor your own tenets. Show some compassion, to a man who absolutely is undeserving. Express some compassion, within reason. Ask Father Sullivan why he's at his wit's end.>D] Write-in.
>>4259849>>C] Being fully aware of how monstrous his behavior has been is no excuse, but you aren't about to kick him while he's down. Now is as good a Time as any to impress the King, and honor your own tenets. Show some compassion, to a man who absolutely is undeserving. Express some compassion, within reason. Ask Father Sullivan why he's at his wit's end.
>>4259860>>4259864(Alright, gonna lock the vote here while we're unanimous! Writing now.)
>>4259872"I want you to know Mercy," you murmur back.The priest slowly parts the hands from his hair, and looks to you with disbelief.Softly, you implore the Father of Knowledge, "educate me. Tell me of your work. Let me know what your idea of Mercy has been." The pain in your voice rivals the look directed straight at you. "Permit me to serve both of our Goddesses. We can teach one another."A single moment stretches out, beyond Time, as the Father of the Immaterial seems to completely crack. Shifting as if he wants to attack you, or hug you, the man wrings his hands together and looks you dead in the eye. He's slightly smiling, in a crazed way, and the urge to run is intense. You hold your ground, as he mutters, "you have been an enigma, Richard. A riddle that I could never solve."Your eye twitches violently, at the thought of the man tormenting Sister Cardew with his penchant for games. You remain silent, and try to not sneer too hard."From the first moment that I saw you, I feared for your sanity. For your safety. You would not listen. The condition you were in—" he chokes on his own words, insanely distressed, "—the utter absence of Spirit, and your inability to serve Her, was absolute. You never came to my side. You fought, and every man, woman, and child that witnessed you was terrified."In a low voice, barely able to breath, the priest looks to you with legitimate fear in his eyes. "You have been a nightmare. I have had countless men and women seek my aid, in the wake of your study. Even of your original congregation."The urge to protect your children seizes you, beyond any mortal compassion. "Explain yourself."Answers immediately follow. "Last year. On the twenty-sixth day of the High Reaping. My church had been contacted days prior, stressing an urgent need at the Church of Mercy. We moved towards Eadric, despite being on the cusp of an outbreak. Men and women were trickling out from the ruins. Demons. Two villages were devastated by members of your congregation who turned, before ever reaching our walls. Two who survived immediately sought a position within the Church of Vengeance. The rest were compelled to seek out the Church of Mercy. My counsel was asked for, by a church devoid of its leader."You're shaking. He's shaking, and stresses, "you never sought my counsel. You never sought my aid. You went to the ruins to die, and left your order in utter chaos. Brother Morris and Brother Stace—"King Magnus clears His throat, and looks with a warning glare towards the priest. Ray almost jumps at the sudden noise, but your vision is practically blurred. It feels as if the only thing in the world that matters are the answers standing before you.(1/2)
>>4259917Sullivan's lips twitch. "Adrian and Theobald wrested control of the church of Mercy, in your absence. I sought to aid them, in your absence. To alleviate our King's burdens. To keep your congregation from self-destructing. To stop their preaching, of blasphemy in our capital. To cease praising you, in your absence. To spare the lives of those who died by their hands."It occurs to you that you haven't the faintest idea what your congregation has actually done, in your absence."Father Wilhelm was to grant you reprieve. To ease your soul. You have never eased your mind, under my supervision. My worst fears were confirmed, in the church of Flesh, in the Setting Moon."The trembling in his narrow shoulders redoubles. "You know of what I speak. It was never the ruins, or demons, your congregation, or even your Brothers that truly worried me."There's a fire in Father Sullivan. "I have always worried for your health. I have always fretted over the weight of the responsibility cast on you. You—" he takes a sharp breath, "—you never had a chance to live, yet were asked to lead the lives of our entire country. It was folly. I did everything in my power to try and stop it, in the idiotic assumption that it would grant you the chance for a better life."So much pain is knitted in every crease on his face, you fear the man's heart will give out. "One in which you could heal, Richard. I have been a fool. Spirit will still come to me, yet I fear I have disgraced Her vision utterly. My work has done nothing but impede your vision. Your mind. Your Spirit."The awful, clouded, plain white gaze before you winces. "Criticizing your state of mind has been the worst mistake of my life. I am so sorry.">How do you respond to this broken, desperate, and sincerely apologetic man trying to justify his monstrous actions? (Write-in.)
>>4259927Hug him. He had the best intentions and we are gonna need him by our side from now on."I forgive you, Sullivan. You need to show yourself some Mercy."
>>4259930As an add on."I don't want to live in a world where kindness is perceived as weakness."
>>4259930>>4259939>>4259957(You got it guys. Vote is locked, writing now!)
>>4259978https://youtu.be/vawqt4-s7JUYour heart practically breaks in two. More than anything in the world, you want to keep this man together. Looking to the broken and desperate form before you, you open your arms, and show the palms of your hands."I forgive you, Sullivan. You need to show yourself Mercy."The priest doesn't budge, trembling horribly. He nods to you, as you take him firmly into a hug. He's frail, and clearly hasn't worked his body a day in his life. You're soft, and it is entirely appropriate. The faint scent of lilies is on the man, and you keep him in your broad arms, not caring for how sick it usually makes you feel.There's a tenderness in your voice, pain, and ambition. "I do not wish to live in a world where kindness is perceived as weakness. Compassion is our strength."A pair of thin arms shifts several shawls aside, to return your hug. The hold is tight, as if the man hasn't held another in all his life. In a whisper, the Father of Spirit confesses, "of all the accusations I pinned on you, weakness was never one of them."Father Sullivan is shaking, badly. You pull back, to place both hands on the priest's trembling shoulders. "You had the best of intentions."He nods, torn between breaking down crying, and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Settling on a crooked smile, eyes reddened from tears that are being held back, he breathes, "I did."There's a slight pause. Trying to steady him, as if the slight embrace could mend every warped action and disgusting lie, you keep your hold on the man's shoulders. There's no stopping the torrent. His slanted smile cracks, you're taken back into a hug, and held so tightly you can barely breathe.The crook of your robes, beside your chest and shoulder, muffles hysterical sobs. It's so familiar, you can't help but suspect the Father of Spirit's invocations have been abusive, too.Patting Sullivan on the back, your own voice cracking, you assert, "I will need you by my side."The sobs redouble. Almost incoherently, he tries to articulate the crux of the breakdown. "There is hardly— any conceivable way to salvage this situation. You are only one man, Richard, and we all— we all can only do so much—!"King Magnus gets up from His seat, and crosses the room, to stand a few feet apart from you both. He gives you a weary smile, and says to you both, "Father Anscham, you are welcome in Our halls any Time. Your seals, symbol, and a few other items will be brought to the room in which you rested. Inform Us if you need anything further. "The shaking in Father Sullivan's shoulders persists, but he pulls back from your hold, produces a white handkerchief, and immediately dries his face, to look upon your King.(1/2)
>>4260029"We look upon your endeavors with all of Our blessing," your host continues, darting his eyes between you both. "Thank you, Father Sullivan. Thank you again, Father Anscham." He can't help but grin. "Welcome back."It's only fitting to offer a weary smile, and to clasp your hands towards the King. "Thank you, Your Grace. The Gods are Merciful."With a nod towards you, King Magnus calls for a guard, and the rest of your accompaniment from outside the room. Before He leaves, the King lingers for just a moment longer. "We will post a notice to not disturb your work within the castle." The back of His cape flares, turning to go. The light and resonance of His voice lingers for a moment after He departs. "Pure is blood made, when held in the hands of Mercy."Keeping his gaze to the handkerchief in hand, Father Sullivan seems to be battling with keeping his composure, and unleashing another torrent. Ray looks up to you expectantly, calm and collected as always.You're alone with the Father of Spirit.>A] Mutually vent.>B] Offer as much support as you can, but stay quiet.>C] Insist on keeping a stiff upper lip, and encourage Father Sullivan to do the same.>D] Broach a normal conversation. You don't know this man at all, for all the influence he's had on your life.>E] Write-in.
>>4260033>>A] Mutually vent.We have not known each others plight, have we?
>>4260033>A] Mutually vent.
>>4260034+1Yup it’s bonding time
>>4260034>>4260043>>4260085(Unanimous vote, going to lock here and write now!)
>>4260417The pain in the priest beside you is more familiar to you than almost any other grief. Quietly, you nod towards the edge of the room, and lead both Ray and Father Sullivan to sit down. The elderly man moves beside you gingerly, taking the furthest chair, and practically collapses in on himself the moment you sit right beside him.You make a point to scoot your chair sideways, so that you are directly facing each other. "I know nothing of your plight." A weary nod replies, as Sullivan sniffs, and struggles harder with his composure. "You truly know nothing of mine," you firmly assert.Another sniff, behind the handkerchief, with a scowl. "Not nearly enough."Every inch of you is aching, the twitch in your arm is relentless, and you are fully aware that you haven't imbibed anything in well over three days (yet again). Despite the hour, you get up, pour some of the warm wine, and snag a few of the grapes set aside. The entire cluster is almost as sweet as honey, you remember you're trying to watch what you eat, and bring a full glass of liquid courage over to your fellow church leader."Sullivan," you murmur, catching the man's attention, and pushing the glass in hand forward.Darting his eyes aside, the priest swipes at the stem, and manages to not spill a drop on all of the white about his frame.You sit, raise your nearly empty glass, and murmur, "no regrets."Another bolt of pain streaks across Father Sullivan's face. He doesn't echo your sentiment, but swirls, sniffs, then sips at his glass.You don't go through the trouble to do the same, quickly putting back half the liquid, fully expecting agony. To your delight, there's no pain to speak of. The vintage must be from outside of Corcaea's borders. A slight smile almost crosses your face, as you wait, and decide to nurse the glass as slowly as possible.Father Sullivan is at an absolute loss for propriety. The air in the room stills. The light of the candles nearby might as well not exist. "When Marjorie told me of your experiences, I seriously contemplated taking my life, Father Anscham."It's uncomfortably warm in the room. Levelly, you murmur, "I never wished to bring her any harm, Sullivan— but she needed to know. You still need to know." In a lower voice, you assert, "your response is completely understandable.""It was already too late," he mutters, keeping one hand to his temple, mussing his hair further, while drinking with the other. "I was fully aware of Morris' intent and activity, but they were on the ground, and everything was in motion. The Church of Storm was to be involved. The Church of Spirit could not be implicated. I was not about to risk the safety and sanity of my men and women, to chase after someone who was known and respected by the Goddess Herself."He hangs his head a little further. "You have no idea how many nights I have prayed, Father Anscham."(1/4)
>>4260545"I do," you immediately correct, "but go on."There's a pause. The priest wrinkles his nose, and clearly struggles with so much self-resentment, you can barely stand to look at him. He sneers, "this has been the longest month of my life. There has not been a single moment where my work has been of anything but a detriment to Her vision. To your service. Murgate answers to me out of respect, but so much of my clergy resents my efforts. They do not have the capacity to understand, Richard—"You give a disbelieving look to the priest beside you. "Every priest and priestess of your order— of those that has come to my attention— have been nothing short of brilliant. You insult your clergy—""No," he mutters, miserably. "They don't know the half of it.""Sister Cardew could not communicate with her family through the entirety of your last outbreak. She is terribly strong, Sullivan. Victor—"A wave of nausea immediately passes over the worn face beside you. "Bonamy?""He may prefer Mad Dog. The nickname is appropriate.""Very." He sneers. "He slaughtered six of my men, to escape captivity. Many, many more were injured." Agony is lacing his tone. "One was of Harriet's family, you know."The urge to vomit is unrelenting. "The injuries, or the deaths.""The deaths. And as with your captivity in the Church of Mercy—"You set down the wine, legitimately fearing you'll be ill. "Wait.""...what?""How can you be so candid?" Your grimace is absolute. The wine on your breath feels more sour than sweet. "You could have stopped my restraint. You knew of my imprisonment, long before any other. Why?""I was frightened," the priest bitterly admits, finishing the rest of his glass, and setting the item on the floor with no care for appearances. "Theobald informed me of your ability to invoke both Vengeance, and Mercy, even as a child. I was terrified, Richard. You looked and acted like a demon. The prospect of you being unleashed on the world was more than I could bear. I—" his voice cracks, "I came back for you. So many times."There's enough misery in the air that Ray whines, and nudges the side of your leg. As you scratch him behind the ears, Sullivan asks, "you remember, don't you?"You remember the debasement, insistence that your Spirit was broken beyond repair, the belittlement, and absence of humanity when you were at your lowest. "Yes. Why?"(2/4)
>>4260546"I was afraid to leave you to die. The last Time we saw one another—" he puts a hand to his mouth, looking as nauseous as you feel, "I tried to shove the thought out of my mind. To hear so many years later of your appointment— at the head of the very family that drove you to madness— was unbearable. It was tragic enough for you to have stayed within the Church of Mercy. To be at its beck and call? To take up the hands of our King? To suffer through a life without ever knowing one—"The Father of Wisdom's voice breaks. He's crying, hard, and every word is gritted out more firmly than the last. "I hated each and every second, of every single day. Every report that I had to pass under your watch. Every request for aid, that went unanswered. Every person who came to my home, in the wake of your work, begging for reprieve from all of your madness. You had a reputation, already, Richard. I couldn't forget. I knew you needed to live, away from the church, but you are right."The glaze over Sullivan's eyes breaks, as he stares straight at you. "I failed you. We all thought you had died. No one knew if they should grieve, or be relieved. You were already known as a madman. It seemed to most like a Mercy.""That was my intent," you breathe, feeling a little bit of your soul leave your body, "and I agreed, many Times over. This entire endeavor, from the edge of Folorast, to the heart of Calunoth, has felt a trifle in comparison. You could not fathom how much more I went through."The priest takes you by the hand, immediately. "Yes, I can."You try to not recoil from the contact. His hands are cold, and you're reminded immediately of Sister Cardew's clammy touch. Keeping your face straight, you manage, "I am exhausted— almost beyond belief."Through the tremor in his shoulders, and the motion to dry his eyes, Father Sullivan lets out a small laugh. You both try to not lose your mind at the stupidity of your situation. Several minutes pass, before you sigh again."It is well over seven hundred years of knowledge, Sullivan. Additional insight to other minds of other races— in another Time. You haven't the faintest idea. I did not behave in such a fashion— upon my return to humanity— out of want for destruction. The things I have witnessed—" you close your eyes, brow knitted, struggling to convey the weight of it, "and the souls I have attempted to save, are that of unprecedented nightmares. Not even my abuse of Dream could have rivaled it.""We can work though it," the Father of Spirit immediately replies, all trace of doubt gone from his tone.You want to believe."Do you want to know what stayed my hand, Richard?"You open your eyes, to look upon a tight jaw, and complete determination. "Go on," you implore.(3/4)
>>4260549"The need to know. Nothing could have been more important than understanding my weakness. No amount of good intent could have made up for my actions. I needed to endure— as you have endured— for the sake of so much more than the immaterial."Sullivan clenches both of his hands into fists, grabbing slightly at the robes over his knees. "I had lost sight of my people, Richard. You helped open my eyes, before we ever could truly meet." The insanely pale, inhuman orbs recessed into his face bore into you. "It is my sworn duty to uphold Her tenets. You said it yourself, didn't you?""To know is to serve," you repeat.Another long silence stretches out between you both. Father Sullivan frowns. "She is very particular."You don't dare to besmirch the name of the Goddess— especially not in the presence of the Father of Spirit's church— and go as silent as the grave.Scratching at the back of his head, the priest admits, "I haven't the faintest idea of how much you have seen. How She would look upon it. Us."Memories of a valley of death, torture and seven hundred fractures in your mind sinks into every syllable. "Imagine being transported into the hands of insanity itself, Sullivan." In an unhinged whisper, you mutter, "all twenty-one of them."An incredibly weary frown is directed at you. It's clear that the priest actually respects your thoughts on the matter, and is entirely unafraid.>A] It's absolutely in your both best interest to go into this as deeply as you can, while you still can. Caution the priest before-hand. You want to re-engage Beltoro's wild ride, through your own ability. >B] Ask Father Sullivan what he can do, to better understand the extent of your experiences. You strongly suspect that his own invocations are imperfect as well, but you would rather leave it to the expert to dig into why you lost the majority of your mind.>1] Do not commit to anything.>2] Trust in his ability.>C] Outright reject any and all attempts to get into your expedition into the ruins, for now. You've been through so much already, and have so many pressing concerns at this very moment. Try to convey to Father Sullivan that you respect his curiosity, and willingness to learn, but you simply cannot handle opening old wounds on the back of so much turmoil.>D] As respectfully as you can, openly criticize Father Sullivan for even making the proposition. He is fully aware that you are still struggling with your experiences. No matter how good his intentions are, he needs to reign himself in.>E] Write-in.
>>4260553>>A] It's absolutely in your both best interest to go into this as deeply as you can, while you still can. Caution the priest before-hand. You want to re-engage Beltoro's wild ride, through your own ability.You can leave the ruins but the ruins never leave you.
>>4260553>>B] Ask Father Sullivan what he can do, to better understand the extent of your experiences. You strongly suspect that his own invocations are imperfect as well, but you would rather leave it to the expert to dig into why you lost the majority of your mind.>1] Do not commit to anything.
>>4260553>B] Ask Father Sullivan what he can do, to better understand the extent of your experiences. You strongly suspect that his own invocations are imperfect as well, but you would rather leave it to the expert to dig into why you lost the majority of your mind.>1] Do not commit to anything.
>>4260615>>4260616>>4260623(Going to lock here while we have a consensus, will work in as much as I can though. May be a few before this update is out but will write ASAP!)
>>4260632(Mauled by mosquitoes and allergy meds knocked me off my feet. Will resume updating tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.)
>>4260632"I left the ruins behind," you mutter, "but they will not leave me, Sullivan."The Father of Spirit before you is utterly unphased. "It is understandable, Richard.""What can I do? What—" the look in your eye is tilted, and desperate, "what can you possibly do, to better understand? To know? To make any sense of it all—" A curious, patient, and slightly disturbing stare is boring into you. He wants further explanation. You breathe in, sharply, "to make sense of a demon of Spirit— and lovers, and scholars, and fighters— butchers— and killers—"He gets it, completely. You can practically see the gears turning, but the priest has yet to say another word."I trust in your expertise," you mutter, "to delve into what was truly responsible for such a pivotal break in my sanity.""Richard," the skeptic curtly replies, "we both know full well that you were mad long before encountering—""Sullivan," you immediately interrupt, "I am asking for your aid. Not to be insulted." He smirks, but stops for at least a moment.In a softer tone, you can't help but ask, "if I am not mistaken," he gives you a look that says he thinks you are, but you continue, "as of late, your ties to Spirit have been far from ideal."A sniff replies, and the handkerchief goes away. The ponce moves his wine glass aside, and quietly replies, "you're not mistaken, but—" an equally unhinged glare snaps back up to you, "We are far from through with one another."Trying to not be ill, to think of what a vindictive Goddess and Her partner get up to, you fidget with the ring about your own hand. "I see."Earnestly, passionately, Father Sullivan straightens upright, and asserts, "We can look into your mind, with or without you."The fidgeting intensifies. "At what cost?""With you? We would have each other's Spirit. To look over the memory, and your experience, with mutual support. It is irrelevant. I don't expect you would care to dig up something so traumatic, Richard. Given the way you speak of this demon, it would seem you're still ill-equipped for the task."Your frown could not be any more extreme. "What of your," searching for a tasteful word escapes you, "intrusive skill set, then?""Having another Spirit— one working through your own— may become unpleasant." There's nothing threatening about him, but the prickle running along the back of your spine quickly reminds you of the man's typical lack of remorse. "You would not need to endure the experience, or anything you have learned. Granted, you would not have any insight into my experience, either. We could freely discuss the issue after the fact, with your knowledge safely imparted to me. It would only cause you significant distress if you resisted."(1/2)
>>4261916You feel a little sick. He's done this many Times before. You mutter, "this seems like a horrific idea.""Don't be a coward," he jests, through half a smile."You are terrible at this," you tease in return, though your scowl persists."This position was granted to me for good reason, Richard," the priest asserts, with far more seriousness. "I don't expect you to understand— yet you seem to delight in upsetting my expectations.""I would be lying— if I said I didn't take some pleasure in proving you wrong. Sullivan."He smirks. "Lecher."Frowning, you lean forward slightly. "Liar."He doesn't deny it. "Are you going to sit there and insult me, or answer my proposal?">A] Even if it's insane, painful, and previously broke your mind, you want to relive the memories you cannot sort out from Beltoro. Going through the experience with a professional could be extremely valuable.>1] You are NOT a coward, but you aren't trying to prove anything. You want to make this as painless as possible, and be as cooperative as possible.>2] Honestly, you hope that this disturbs or unseats Father Sullivan's expectations.>B] The thought of enduring one more painful experience is more than you can bear. Ask Father Sullivan if he can look into the memory.>1] Do everything in your power to endure. It's not a matter of pride. You desperately want to look after yourself.>2] Try and at least look out for anything harmful or unusual. Sullivan has a reputation for falsehoods and games. Make sure that the priest clearly outlines what to expect, and hold him to it.>C] This seems like a TERRIBLE idea. Respectfully reject the proposal wholesale. (Write-in any concerns or accusations you wish to provide.)>D] Write-in.
>>4261919>A] Even if it's insane, painful, and previously broke your mind, you want to relive the memories you cannot sort out from Beltoro. Going through the experience with a professional could be extremely valuable.>1] You are NOT a coward, but you aren't trying to prove anything. You want to make this as painless as possible, and be as cooperative as possible.We can probably tank the sanity damage at this point.
>>4261919>A] Even if it's insane, painful, and previously broke your mind, you want to relive the memories you cannot sort out from Beltoro. Going through the experience with a professional could be extremely valuable.>1] You are NOT a coward, but you aren't trying to prove anything. You want to make this as painless as possible, and be as cooperative as possible.
>>4261936>>4262928(Aaaalright, locking the unanimous vote, writing now!)
>>4262931The twitch in your right arm is the only response for several long minutes. Sullivan clearly knows how important this is to you. There's no indication of any more flippant remarks, and the priest makes no movement for additional wine.You both sit, and wait, until you can't take it anymore."I saw them when I was alone. Most of my venture through Beltoro's lair escapes me. What I did experience— what I did witness—"There's no pain, death, or decay. You are not yet in a valley of death, at the bottom of the world. You take another ragged breath in, grit your teeth, and breathe out, "I would like to go through it. Again. With you."With a deathly serious tone, and legitimate worry, the priest cautions, "we'll go through it together. I am going to follow your lead, but I must insist that you trust my judgement. Do not go running, Richard. If we need to step away, you need to inform me, first."Ray whines up at you. Commanding him to stay down, and to not touch you or Sullivan, a cold sweat gathers on your brow. Unsticking the mop of hair and gold away from your forehead, you run another hand through your hair, and nod."Do you understand," Father Sullivan stresses."Yes," you murmur, nodding again.The priest takes the long, gaudy lengths of thread off from around his neck. "Contact makes the process easier," he mutters, rolling back a sleeve, and nodding towards your own.Furrowing your brow, you pull back one sleeve. Scar tissue of every kind knits and laces the pale limb. Under the full candlelight, you realize that thanks to your recent weight, only the worst of the knotted tissue is truly grotesque. It's still enough reason for concern that the man before you stops his motions. "This is an improvement," you insist, relieved that now you can't easily be mistaken for a corpse. "Really.""We'll get to it another Time," Sullivan frowns. Without further hesitation, he grasps you firmly by the upper arm. Nodding now towards his own pale skin, he insists, "hold onto me, and do not let go."You return the grasp. With absolutely no sensitivity towards your prior experiences with restraint, the priest takes the unwound spool of thread from his free hand, and wraps it around your limb. As he makes a neat knot over the point where your hand is resting, the cold sweat on you sticks to the back of your robes."Though I'm leading the invocation, we will go through it together. Bow your head." You do. "Close your eyes."The world goes black. A hand reaches out, and is placed on your forehead.He's already invoked Her.(1/3)
>>4263139https://youtu.be/6rZRBOVvNIU"You don't need to listen," Father Henry Sullivan thinks, knowing full well that you can listen. The pauses between his words are slightly disjointed, but with some difficulty, you can manage to follow. "There is no need for words, between myself and the Goddess of the Immaterial. To know is to serve, Richard."Something white and utterly transparent seeps into the back of your mind. You're reminded of a hand, creeping along the back of your skull. It's impossible to ignore the urge, to open your eyes."Do not move."The man speaking before you is practically transparent. There is something white coursing through the limb you're holding onto, though neither the skin, nor the shifting substance has any temperature. Father Sullivan's hold tightens. His voice is distant, but you can hear it, in your mind's eye. "Do not tell Us when, or where. Share your thoughts. Share your voice. Share your Spirit."Your memory is phenomenal, and you're fairly certain of where the insanity started. "My Spirit was weak.""A lie." The voice beside you is distant, but firm. "Your connection to Her is unfathomable. You withstood this once before. I don't care about the abuse, Richard. By insulting yourself in such a way, you are insulting Her. The invocation. Think. What led you into this demon's mind?""I..."You are still under so much strain."Mercy was with me. She could be held, through Idonea's Relic. She was able to protect me."You clutch onto yourself, holding onto your Relic as tightly as you can."No." The hand on your temple immediately comes off. "Open your eyes, Richard."You do. The thin man sitting before you looks worried, and his voice is much closer. "We are here for the immaterial. I need you to focus, and not on Mercy.""I am trying," you mutter."Take my other hand," the priest insists.He makes no motion to continue until you do so. Resolutely, you remember to breathe, and go along with his request. "It was difficult enough to begin the invocation the first Time.""Go on, then."You take a ragged breath, and try to think.I never asked her how she obtained it, what to do with it, what it does, or so much as why. I might not ever know."You can move past this, Richard. The entire city knows what you are capable of."You're curled in on yourself"Go on. It's alright."(2/3)
>>4263153sobbing hystericallyIt came out from you suddenly, like the hand that crawled from the interior of your throat. The trembling in your shoulders, heat in your face, and violent sobbing is unrelenting. Trying to calm down, to quiet yourself, the hand on your own squeezes gently. "You know you will be alright."unable to stop the out-pour of doubt"You are much stronger, now. You always have been."I've always been weak. I've never looked after myself. I've always found a way to take the pain."Every smear against your name was a lie, Richard. You were lying to yourself, too."The clergy of the Church of Spirit does not suffer the way that I suffer.Father Sullivan becomes quieter than the dead man he resembles.They cherish the Goddess. They are healthy, and whole. They lend their aid to the peoples of Corcaea. Tending to those who have strayed near the Catalyst, healing their fractures, showing them what we all must know— they are our guide. Our wisdom."We know you have struggled to serve, and still have held Our church in high esteem. You have always been devout."I tread the line, time after time, seeking answers that I do not truly wish to understand. Father Sullivan tried so hard to teach me, to share. He could not help me. He resents me, my weakness, my ignorance, my sin."We are going to find a way to make this right."The years of isolation— the prayer, the strain— I could not stop it then. I could not stop it now. Spirit only blesses me with what She knows I can withstand. I do not know the clergy."I'm so sorry. You will get the opportunity."I do not know of anything that transpired in Ostedholm. I did not know what would lead me to the Relic. I did not know Ofelia, or Celegwen, not until their hand was forced."Go on."I do not know Beltoro, even now. I do not ever fully see. I do not ever fully know.But I must see. I must learn. I must know.There was a collective."I'm still here, Richard. It's alright."There was a gathering. A congregation of sin, creeping over the ashes of a fallen mother. Beltoro was grieving. Torn between internal conflict, the desire to feel, and the obsession to know, their mind was too fractured for you to bear. You had pulled back, at the Time. Though you were crying so hard through your own vomit that you thought you would choke to death, your conviction kept you grounded.You I kept yourself myself grounded.(One paragraph over, 3/4)
>>4263161"The fracture is here, Richard. You need to stay with Us, just like you stayed with yourself before. We are all going to take a step back, in just a moment. I would like for you to picture somewhere safe. Somewhere quiet, that We can come back to. It will be broken. I want you to think of a place, and take us there. Can you do that for Us?">A] Think of the Church of Mercy. The halls of your home, the choir, your gardens, and Ray's favorite rug. It is a house of light, healing, and should be cathartic to see it broken.>B] You want to go back to Father Wilhelm's summer house. To ice fishing, and painting through the night. The Father of Rest took wonderful care of you.>C] Beorward, in Father Friedrich's makeshift training hall. It was built for strength, and destruction.>D] Yech's cave. It will hurt to not see him there, but you've never felt safer than when you were in his company. >E] Write-in.
>>4263163>>A] Think of the Church of Mercy. The halls of your home, the choir, your gardens, and Ray's favorite rug. It is a house of light, healing, and should be cathartic to see it broken.
>>4263163>D] Yech's cave. It will hurt to not see him there, but you've never felt safer than when you were in his company.
>>4263163>>D] Yech's cave. It will hurt to not see him there, but you've never felt safer than when you were in his company.
>>4263334>>4263498>>4263530(Cool cool, locking the vote here. Writing now!)
>>4263900You keep yourself grounded.https://youtu.be/rs5bc_P1kKoThe first thought that comes to mind is still of Mercy. You want to go home. You want for Her warmth, and light. Not merely of the Goddess, but that of your home. The sunlight that cascades onto the tallest peaks of the church, into its high windows, refracting onto the pews and long halls. You want to walk through your gardens, and hear the choir at all hours of the day. There's a deep-seated longing for comfort, and safety. To see Ray chewing at the edges of his favorite rug, as you read by the hearth, and hold no greater fear in your heart than for how to better demonstrate your devotion.But you do not want for light alone. This venture has never been purely for Mercy's sake. Beside the urge to tear down the walls of your prison, there is, was, and always had been the desire for *escape*.You walk from the edges of your gardens, beyond a great forest, and into a cave. Mist clings to the edges of the entrance, as you leave the hallowed halls of the church behind. The choir persists, in blessed relief from the unrelenting quiet.Not a single bird chirps in the air. There is no celebration, or announcement of your arrival. Bits of colorful paper are strewn about the floor. The damp stone is adorned with countless natural fixtures. Vines and wood hold up barrels of wine, kegs of beer, bottles of homebrewed vintage, and a cornucopia. The display is excessive, *because* you wanted to share it with only a single friend.You collapse into one of the chairs, adorned with leaves and berries. It's as comfortable as you remember it, but your ally is nowhere to be seen. Trailing your gaze up the winding stair, from the base of the cave, to the tallest heights of the abyss, there are no spiders. In the webs crossing between two demons— over 700 years in the making— you see a few streamers. They're all in black, and gold, reflecting off of low candlelight. Another hysterical sob catches in your throat. Father Sullivan sits right next to you, and gingerly puts a hand on your shoulder. There's the slightest sensation of touch. You're certain you only imagine it, and cry a lot harder, "I— I never felt safer— than when I was in his company—"The expression next to you is almost inscrutable, but it's abundantly clear the priest isn't judging. "Who?""One of Idonea's— one of an archdemon's children. She was a mother of Mercy. She left me the Relic. He hasn't left me. Lord Yech. *Archdemon* Yech."Skepticism radiates off of Sullivan. "A demon?"You choke out, "of generosity." The hitch in your shoulder and chest is downright painful. Leaning over the table for support, you're not bothered with any further questions. It still somehow smells like wine and old wood. It's comforting enough to wait a moment, take a few breaths, and compose yourself further.(1/2)
>>4264027You desperately want to give, too. Sullivan is waiting on answers, so you manage a more level tone. "He has been my greatest ally. Yech treated me with more compassion than any man I had— have ever met. He *remains* one of my dearest friends."An incredibly long silence follows. The choir has faded almost entirely from the back of your mind. It's as if you can hear the priest of Spirit thinking, "does Magnus know about this?""Not yet," you mutter, relieved to hear the confirmation that you've retained some privacy."Marjorie told me nothing of this demon."You pick at a few cubes of cheese on the table, and try eating one. There's no pain to speak of, but a slightly faded memory of taste perists. Swallowing your grief, and looking for a good wine to pair with it, you try to politely ask, "she spoke with you?"There's an ancient bottle already uncorked on the table. The echo of a glass being filled is a little more relief from the shame slaking the man sitting across from you. He confirms, "not initially.">A] "Do you want to talk about this?" Leave it up to Sullivan to decide if he wants to keep this exchange mutual.>B] "Could you elaborate?" You're more interested in what the priestess wouldn't confess voluntarily than anything. It'll probably upset him, but there's no use keeping your thoughts to yourself here.>C] "What did you discuss?" Let your desire to learn be known, as politely as possible. Sullivan is really trying to help, and you'd like to try and respect his reluctance to speak about an interrogation.>D] "I need just a moment." You seriously needed the break, need to breathe, and don't want to bring up any further bad blood between you. Calm down, maybe offer Sullivan some of the best liquor in history, and get away from any more miserable subjects.>E] "Can we please stop here?" You know that you're alright, and can handle approaching the invocation, but you have so many other problems to address. Beltoro's memories might not be your most pressing issue, and you would rather come back to this another Time.>F] Write-in.
>>4264031>C] "What did you discuss?" Let your desire to learn be known, as politely as possible. Sullivan is really trying to help, and you'd like to try and respect his reluctance to speak about an interrogation.
>>4264031>>C] "What did you discuss?" Let your desire to learn be known, as politely as possible. Sullivan is really trying to help, and you'd like to try and respect his reluctance to speak about an interrogation.
>>4264060>>4264071(Alright, unanimous vote! Locking here, writing now.)
>>4264192The glass you've poured is immaterial, but you slide it over to Father Sullivan nonetheless.He looks like he needs it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiMqZmNHU1IOut of nothing more than curiosity and the desire for mutual respect, in a low voice, you ask, "what did you discuss?""Your will to endure. Your piety, honesty, and sincere devotion to the Goddess. *Her* blessing, and acknowledgement of your right to lead the Church of Mercy. That you held no hatred in your heart, despite everything I have done—" The priest can't even touch the wine. His speech catches in his throat."We talked about *change*, Richard."A few more minutes pass. Your goblet is emptied several times over. There's no need for propriety here, and you suffer no ill effect. You're filled with a memory, as sweet as you remember, and nearly as satisfying as the company you keep.Father Sullivan takes in a sharp breath, and with complete resolve, confesses, "I couldn't believe it when she told me. Sister Cardew didn't spare a single detail— because she had none to give. You left an *impression* on her, Richard." He picks up his glass, and tilts it towards you. Like a leaf on the wind, his voice shakes, "you're leaving one on me."You both drink in silence, for a few more moments. It's probably your fifth glass, and you don't care. The memory is fuzzy, but stable, and the taste of good liquor is hard to forget.Sullivan doesn't want to forget, either. "She was shaken to the core," he continues, "as was I. To be directly contradicted by Spirit is no mere test of faith."In a much lower voice, he practically whispers, "we both knew we were failures. She had no idea how to repent. I felt as if I had no place to forgive her— or any other. She was following my transgressions."Earnest, desperate, and completely broken sympathy is pointed straight at you. "I've run Our church with nothing but the best of intentions, and condemned countless innocent men and women to sin. Marjorie was furious, and rightfully so."Elbows to the table, his hands to his head, a great deal of divinity drops from his voice. The priest is obviously battling with everything he has to maintain the invocation, but there's resolve in every disgusted sentence that falls from his lips. "The blame lies solely with me. I thought long, and hard, of how to confirm her accusations. It was hard to believe. I have done everything in my power towards keeping you away from the Church of Mercy, Richard. You don't know want to, or need to know the half of it."He's furious, and you're certain it's with himself. "I spoke with Marjorie briefly, before she left. Of the consequences of my actions. The lives I have ruined— with nothing but the hatred of my family, and the tarnish on your life to show for it."(1/2)
>>4264391Sullivan grimaces, lips tight, with the blessing of a Goddess in his eyes. "I did not entertain the idea of escape for long, Richard. Death would have been Mercy, and I am utterly unfit for Her. I have been a coward— but I would *never* spurn the blessing of my Goddess. I needed to **know.**"Coolly, the priest of Spirit levels his voice. Both of your eyes are dry. "Marjorie had seen enough, but I was certain my work had only just started." He puts back his entire glass of wine, in a single swig, and stares straight at you. "This is delicious.""I know," you bitterly smile back. You raise your glasses to each other."I have many regrets," Sullivan toasts. "Facing down King Magnus' ire was not one of them. I'm fortunate to be alive, let alone to have your forgiveness.""The Gods are Merciful, Sullivan. So am I."You both drink, and the priest at your side is stone-faced. The blessing coursing through his veins is as plain to see as the severity of his speech. "We can come back to this, at any Time. We have colossal amount of work waiting for Us back in Murgate— but you are Our top priority."In a firmer tone, Sullivan asserts, "not just by order of the King. It would be an insult to lie to your face, Richard. I'm curious, and this is an unprecedented opportunity, for both of us."You push away your goblet, sit up even straighter, and politely listen."I know you've changed. I want to, as well. We can teach each other. Would you like to keep working together? Are you alright, if we keep moving forward?">A] Absolutely. Go deep into the memories you have of Beltoro. You know you have the support you need, no matter what happens.>B] You're hesitant. After everything you've been through— combined with Sullivan's behavior, and your mutual instability— this may be too much. You'd prefer to distance yourself, and discuss your relationship with Yech, instead.>C] You're exhausted. Respectfully thank Sullivan for all of his honesty, and support.>1] You'd like to stay in this memory just a little while longer. The reminder of Yech is so comforting, you are having a terribly hard Time letting go. Get into the thick of it. He would be so proud of you.>2] You'd like to step away from all of this, and maybe come back to it another Time. It would be nice to speak to Henry face-to-face, without Spirit, or memories of demons.>D] You're unnerved by the reminder of how monstrous your fellow man can be, compared to the behavior of even a demon. Express your concerns, candidly. (Write-in anything you're distressed about, regarding Sullivan's behavior, or otherwise.)>E] Write-in.
>>4264392>>A] Absolutely. Go deep into the memories you have of Beltoro. You know you have the support you need, no matter what happens.Mercy didn't raise a coward
>>4264392>>A] Absolutely. Go deep into the memories you have of Beltoro. You know you have the support you need, no matter what happens.
>>4264414>>4265295(Going to lock the unanimous vote here! Writing now.)
>>4265394Hoarse from crying, you clear the sear in the back of your throat. It's nowhere near as painful as what you're expecting, but you immediately reply, "absolutely."Ignoring the sickness demanding to be let out of your system, the phantom of binging, or the ability of the priest before you to see your very thoughts, you steel yourself.Mercy did not raise a coward."She didn't," Sullivan asserts."I know I have your support.""Unquestionably. You have had enough misuse of Spirit. We will do everything Our power to keep you steady, Richard. You should know what it means to serve Her, to the full extent of Our ability.""...no matter what happens."The face before you is completely transparent. Sullivan is utterly unphased. He seems to be taking a great deal of heart from your work, and the extended conversation. What you suspect is his usual tone comes out. It's dry and cold, but completely certain. "The pain that this creature continues to cause you is as real as you or I, but We do not fear it. No demon of Spirit could eclipse the full scope of the Goddesses own ability. We are going to go through as much as you're willing to share, for as long as it takes.""Thank you.""We will break it down, as best as as We can.""You said there was a fracture, here?" The cave you're in seems completely intact."Just outside. This memory is near and dear to you, Richard. Enough for you to want to preserve it." A thread of confidence laces through Sullivan's frame, as he stands, and offers you a clear hand. "You did venture through this with Mercy.""I would have been completely lost without Her.""You are not alone." He nods, towards the cave's entrance. "You'll be alright.""Yes.""I am not leaving you.""I know.""Go ahead."The Father of Spirit's holy symbol is visible, in your mind's eye. A band of thread is knotted around your contact, as you keep your hold. Singular in its purpose, you try to focus on the bleached string, as you step outside.There's a sharp pull on yourself.(1/2)
>>4265436https://youtu.be/4mPh9BY0NjoThere's a tear, in the back of your throat, through which nausea has been building for the last six months.You dig into it. You're choking. Conviction, reverence, and more determination than any human should be capable of exerting encompasses more than your soul.There is a hand, in the back of your mouth.There's a hand on your mouth, as you bite back a scream, or a sob, or an out pour of vomit.There's a voice, and its words are lost to you.There is white-gold, in the sky.Beyond the mist, and a mountain of death, at its base, at its height, and all through the immaterial, there is a form.There was a man.There is a scream, and a complete break in your soul.He is in pain.You are in pain."We are listening. We are not going anywhere. It's a memory. Go where you need to."You do not know who you are."It's alright."You are crawling. Blind. Ravaged with agony. There's grief. You shared it. The Mother of Mercy had just died. She was the only anchor, though I never knew her, holding you onto this world.You are obsessed. Driven to seek out answers. To take them in the palm of your hand.The palms of your hands.It is all that is left of you.Somewhere, off in the distance"No. We are right here." He was already thereYou're trying to not vomit.There's no mouth. No lips.Nothing can be produced. You can't scream, or cry, or grieve. You're covered in ashes, and smearing the remains of what you've lost over you. Trying to know. Trying to feel.Idonea was never afraid of you. Neither was Richard."He isn't, even now. Isn't that right? You're going to stay with Us. Tell me about her."She should have been afraid. Her dedication to her mission got her killed.You're not ready to think of the Mother of the Church of Mercy.You're still trying to decide how to feel on her. Over her. The ash, and the soot. The decay. All about her.It's easier to remember what you knew. You I need help. We want to help. Please. Let Us help."Stay with me, Richard.""You don't want to suffer anymore. Remember what you were before. What you wanted. Remember. Know."There was a clergy. It was sacred to know. There was a man, in the back of your mind, in agony. Desperate to know you. Desperate to do what is best."We are going to stop here, Richard. There is The dissent. The ignorance. The fear.Your connection to ₜₕₑ Goddess was so strong.There were so many of you."Richard. Talk to me. Answer me."(Options in next post.)
>>4265439>A] Write-in.B) There was so much wisdom, so much knowledge— so much worth protecting that needed to be kept away. Locked away. Hidden, as deeply as you all could hide it.C) You knew one day there would be an end to the age. You knew that humanity was being pressed, being pushed. You and your family did everything in your power to caution those against what was coming. You all knew beyond any and all doubt that Ostedholm would fall. That you all had pushed too far.D) You had heard of Lords in their castles, feuding and fighting over petty lands and petty indulgences.E) Not among women, though they sewed discord through the rank and file, tempting you all to sin.F) Not among the church, strong as you were, allied together, in your common bonds.You had heard it from the lips of the very Mother of the Church of Mercy. Why no one understood themselves. Why there had to be so much conflict, so much strife. Why demons had to be feared. Why they had to be fought. Why death had to be the only cure.(This vote will remain open for at least the next 11 hours. Once the vote is closed, all write-ins and all votes will be integrated unless there is overwhelming opposition. It is safe to assume that the deeper you go, the more damage it may do. You know that a unanimous vote can take you out of Beltoro's memory at any Time.)
>>4265440>C) You knew one day there would be an end to the age. You knew that humanity was being pressed, being pushed. You and your family did everything in your power to caution those against what was coming. You all knew beyond any and all doubt that Ostedholm would fall. That you all had pushed too far.
>>4265470>>4265494>>4265563>>4266034(Unanimous vote to keep going? Alright. Vote is locked! Writing now.)
>>4266078You remember what you wanted.There is peace in your mind, and meaning from your wisdom. You wished to better find ourselves understand yourself. With complete resolve, you focus on a singular thought: you knew that one day, there would be an end to the age.The fall of King Thaddeus, the Timely, came before your own King's reign. As a priest of the immaterial, you had studied his folly. Desperation shaped the monarch's reign. A leader of greater wisdom took his place. You and your clergy answered to King Samuel, the Spirited.You turned during His reign.Humanity was pressed to serve a higher calling. Your King lived to serve, but His purpose was to *know*.Humanity was pushed to its limit, as He strove to put an end to the madness. Your church was to find answers, no matter the cost.You and your family did everything in your power to caution those against what was coming. A study was to be conducted, on the hearts of humankind.You all knew beyond any and all doubt that Ostedholm would fall. The people pushed back. You all had pushed too far. There was war, between petty lords, foolish women, and desperate men. Many of your countrymen sought to avoid it.They would rather have blinded themselves than to endure the truth of it all. You were almost among them. It was a gradual descent, deep into the Aerth. The land you revered, the gardens you kept— they came with you. There were no ruins, at the Time. The defenses you held, and the lives you saved, were *fortified*.The skies darkened. Perpetual flame seemed to define the long halls. Your achievements became so much rubble and soot. It was only fitting, for your people to seek out light. Illumination was treasured by your King, and He took the request with open arms. With the help of a Mother of Mercy, radiance defined your greatest city.Her hands were always open. You wished to do the same.You reached out to all of the people you buried. Your friends, within the church, at home, and by your side were all within your grasp. You refused to hide any longer. They knew you, as you knew them, and keeping hold on one another kept you sane. You couldn't let go.You were devastated, as the years dragged on. You dragged so many of them into the ground. With them, you buried your wisdom.The desire to serve slipped through your calloused fingers.You buried your family.(1/2)
>>4266168There was a growing fixation. A need, a DESPERATE NEED to understand why the Catalyst"Richard. We have a lot to work with, here. You're hurting yourself. Take a step back with Us. *I* am trying to be respectful, but *We* don't want to see you take onB) Why there had to be so much conflict.C) Why demons had to be feared, and fought.Why death had to be the only cure."Richard. I need you to stay WITH me. We are right here, but We need you to *breathe.*">A) Write-inD) You had heard it from the lips of the very Mother of the Church of Mercy.>E] Invoke Mercy. You needed Her blessing to endure this before."I need you to stay with me."You understood her his conviction, but you *needed* to know.
>>4266170>C) Why demons had to be feared, and fought.
>>4266173>>4266180>>4266415(Awesome, locking the vote. Writing now.)
>>4266425The need to know is suffocating."You're going to be alright."The sharp pain in your chest cannot possibly come from an ache in your wrist, or the absence of lungs.It's of your own Spirit, and the crushing compassion that's driving you to tear yourself to pieces.Why do demons need to be feared, and fought?You've been obsessed. Utterly fixated. Bent with every fiber of your being over understanding."Why?"You've studied. You have devoted yourself, your wisdom, and your worship away from the clergy. Away from the land above. The hopeless inevitability."Your situation is far from hopeless, Richard. You've done so much good."You have to do something. Your study has made way, for experimentation— "Of your own volition."You've loved your work. You love to know. You want to share your wisdom. You need to understand. You learned. You knew.You turned."Richard."There is a sob, and a scream, in the back of your mind. It's of a man in the death of his own Spirit, reliving a fate he never needed to revisit.There's resolve."You are going to be fine."Your head has never hurt so badly."I am right here."There's a split. A fracture. One, after another.The dead have always provided you with answers. You have killed, and never had a single question pointed at you.There is a single question, on your mind. You focus. All of your intent, all of your will, and twenty-one hands grab and take hold of it.Why?https://youtu.be/F-RKIJiiNC4You are no child. The Mother of Mercy did not coddle you. She had completely lost her mind, in over 1506 years of giving everything she had.You think back. Far back. You are ancient, and it is incredibly difficult to think. There was a Time once, when you were human, and could remember what it was to think clearly. It is a speck of dust in the webs fettering your mind, but you have spent well over 700 years thinking.You think back, before the ruins.The Mother of Mercy had in her possession more than the ability for light. As you dissected monster after monster that came into your mutual possession, your master brought to you an even greater gift. She could grant you restraint. It did not matter that you had lost all semblance of humanity. She loved you, and all of her children. She was more than your master.Idonea's Catalyst was her love.While the last remnants of humanity fought, and battled, she took beneath the city. Before she had ever turned, she was your beacon, your light, and your hope. As the Mother of Mercy, she was truly the answer to your prayers. You abandoned the Church of Spirit, and took everything she held dear.(1/2)
>>4266550You wanted for nothing. Not like the worms who crawled through the echoes of a forgotten city. Not like the imposters, who would seek to imitate and leech off of the memories of others. Not like the insects, feeders of the dead, their servants and every other forsaken soul under her care.So many followed her, away from the chaos. So many turned, in the nightmare that followed.While above the ruins of your civilization, the last of the sun crept along the sky, demons consumed all hope for humanity.You took heart. Your leader never stopped wanting for compassion. She didn't try to fight you, or stop your obsession. The mother of Mercy took her army of monsters, and kept them as close as she could.You were all kept locked away. Deep, deep under the Aerth. To be studied.Your work was endless.Hundreds, and thousands of you, were all incapable of doing a thing to change. Nausea rises to the back of your throat, along with another hand. The fingers trail along the interior of a space that should not feel any other sensation.It's the only thing that matters in the world. The taste of rot, and the hand of decay.They rot.They suffer.The study made its way for the collection of corpses. You never had enough hands for the task. Idonea thought there would be an answer. You worked. Every day. With every body that fell into your hands. One, after another.No matter how long it would take. Year, after year."Richard, we're going to come back, now."no one wanted to leave the ruins"This is going to be extremely painful, if you cannot cooperate—"You had all the answers you needed.Everything you needed.All the hands you needed."Answer me, Richard."Thousands of them, untouched by each passing moment. For study, for research, and for answers. "Richard! Answer me! We do not want to hurt you. Talk to me. We're trying to help you."You had the answer.For her.>1] Who you butchered.>2] Your first victim.>3] Your lover.>4] The Father of the Church of Spirit.>5] Your fellow scholar.>6] The beginning of your study.>7] A companion who hid beside you, at the start of the war.>8] An ally, who sheltered you as you fled.>9] Mother Idonea.>10] Something to hold.>11] Empathy.>12] Knowledge.>13] A callous.>14] The shovel that buried your humanity.>15] The pages you read, to escape from the truth.>16] A door, a safeguard, and a promise that things would be better.>17] The lock, and lie, that lost you all to Time.>18] There is no cure.>19] There is no hope.>20] You longed for death.>21] Father Anscham wouldn't kill you."You're going to hurt yourself, Richard. Please.">22) Write in.
>>4266555>22) Write in.Hope
>>4266555>21] Father Anscham wouldn't kill you.In combination with>>4267091
>>4266555>21] Father Anscham wouldn't kill you.
>>4266555>>21] Father Anscham wouldn't kill you.
>>4267091>>4267138>>4267152>>4267174(This is great. Good shit guys, locking here and writing now.)
>>4267733"Hope," you choke out, through the taste of blood and the sickness in your soul.https://youtu.be/ZuH5WhAdPncFather Sullivan goes incredibly quiet. There's a hold on your arm, on the knotted scars, and evidence of a lifetime of abuse. Neither of you are phased, and priest at your side doesn't dare to actually pull away.The tension throughout your body slackens, as tears and more compassion than any man could withstand spills over your lips."Father Anscham wouldn't kill you."It was not the work of Mercy that stayed *your* hand, under the shadow of the valley of death. At the base of a mountain, where corpses piled beyond your sight, you did not flee from the sight of a thousand fallen children. There is no demon of Spirit here, though you can still see the monstrosity in your mind's eye.Beltoro never wished to hurt you. They stayed all of their hands.A bolt of pain courses through your chest, at the memory of the letter they transcribed. It was made blindly, illegible, and devoid of all humanity. It was the most sincere apology you've ever read. Not from pity, grief, or sinister motive— but out of *compassion*— you have carried evidence of another alliance, all this Time.Sobs creep out of your throat. There are no fingers, hands, or arms. It's sympathy, and Mercy of your own volition."It is *unbearable* to endure— as Our children suffer."You've never cried so hard in your life. There's a hand on your own, squeezing tightly, as you firmly grit your teeth and *force* out the words."This is a life of our own making. Not by our misery. We have had the will to fight. To know. To kill.""We're coming back, Richard."We have to take meaning, from our wisdom.""I know. You've done so well.""I have the will to live."There is no pull on your conciousness. The priest at your side silences himself so completely, he might as well be dead.You couldn't open your eyes if you wanted to. Brow knitted, head aching, mouth searing with illness and grief, you can't articulate anything further. The Father of Spirit knows what you want to say, but grants you another precious moment, to find the strength to speak, and to voice it yourself."I told Beltoro— to— to show themselves *Mercy*."Each catch in your chest— from tears, or a throb of pain— hurts more than the last. You endured this before, with the Goddess at your side, and never could have hoped to understand how much it had hurt you."I— I've known it all along. I have always known, and done everything in my power to share it— to share my love— *Our* love—""She knows.""It's **hope**, Sullivan. They are all suffering. Ensnared in their nightmares, in the worst of themselves— the *best* of themselves—"(1/2)
>>4267963"We can discuss this, Richard.""They are lost, and clinging to the only parts of themselves that they know. They've lost their hope. I saved Beltoro— not— *Mercy*, not just through an invocation. Not because of any one thing we said. It was hope. *I have given them hope.*""Let's go over this together, Richard.""I knew it all along ""You need to listen to me. We're taking you back. Away from the nightmare. You're hurt, but you will be fine. You need to breathe. Come back." The hold on your arm tightens, almost imperceptibly. "Can you do that for me?">A] There are too many answers here. You're not going anywhere.>Roll up to 21d100. >Struggling against the Father of Spirit's will has a DC of 100.>One roll can be made per post. Each roll will be cumulative. Every roll will be counted.>Once the voters have reached 21d100, or the DC is exceeded (whichever comes first), the vote will lock.>This prompt will be taken in chronological order, up to and including if B is chosen.>Any B vote will stop the progression of any subsequent rolls. Sufficiently supported write-ins or opposition to rolling will be take at QM discretion.>B] Take a deep breath, take a step back, and get out of your head. You've learned more in your first morning properly speaking with Father Sullivan than you did in 5 months with Sister Cardew. This is more than enough information, for now.>1] You're insanely relieved, and want to express your gratitude to Sullivan.>2] You know that this development was only possible thanks to ALL of your allies' help.>3] You've done enough thinking, and seriously need to take a breather. Let the priest speak, and try to pull yourself together.>4] Write-in.
Rolled 17 (1d100)>>4267970I DONT NEED SLEEP I NEED ANSWERS
Rolled 58 (1d100)>>4267970>A]DeEpPeR
Rolled 24 (1d100)>>4267970>A
>>4267996(Holy fuck lmao. Have some art, for your compassion, and need to know.)
>>4267970>>B] Take a deep breath, take a step back, and get out of your head. You've learned more in your first morning properly speaking with Father Sullivan than you did in 5 months with Sister Cardew. This is more than enough information, for now.>>1] You're insanely relieved, and want to express your gratitude to Sullivan.>>2] You know that this development was only possible thanks to ALL of your allies' help.
>>4267979>>4267981>>4267996>99/100>>4268345(Real restraint posting hours, good fucking Lord. That does it. Locking the vote here. Will write ASAP.)
>>4268352(Please refresh/F5 if the old post is still displaying! Going to correct it shortly.)
>>4268352>>4268759https://youtu.be/_VONMkKkdf4"I can't."There's a hot flash of pain, in the back of your mind. It's as familiar as the priest's work on you as a boy, as you laid in a cell, devoid of all light and comfort."We've been over this before, Richard. You need to listen to Us—""No."You can see it. There's a demon, in your mind's eye, and they're being pulled out from under you. There are knots in your mind, knitting and weaving around every thought.You need to see clearly.The world is fading. There are no ruins. There was a man, and a demon, at the bottom of the world— who could share in their compassion, and hope for a better world—"PLEASE, stop! I need answers! I won't—"A thousand strings work themselves over the webs, the corpses, and the idea that you comprised the nightmare."We can come back to it, Richard."A terror creeps into the back of your mind, that you're going to lose the memory. That you're going to sleep, and never wake again."Please."You haven't been able to stop being a nightmare."Stop. Stop." He's not listening, as you insist, "you— you don't understand—"Your words fall flat, in the last few remnants of the memory."You won't forget anything. It's going to be alright."Desperation clings to you, and to Sullivan's own hold. It's with the strength of nearly two dozen men."You need to listen to me," you sneer, crushing his dissent under palm and knotted vein. "I want to go deeper."You're hurting him. There is a hunger in your voice, of a killer, and a butcher. "Let me go deeper.""You're killing yourself, Richard."There's a break, in the man at your side. In the thread. It's taking the will of a Goddess to rival your conviction. He's fighting you with everything he has, and you can't let him obscure your sight. You fight back."I am not going anywhere—!"Something dark creeps around the edges of your vision. Away from the den of decay. Out of Beltoro's lair. A disembodied hand resembling your own, down to the last scar, persists in your mind's eye. It— along with every last memory of the demon of Spirit— is right there.You are the key."I need to know—!"It's right in front of your open hands. "They had so many answers."Your empty hands. There's another answer, right in front of you. Who has been trying to get through to you, all this Time.You repeat, "I'm killing myself."(1/4)
>>4268769"It's alright, Richard. You're going to be alright."The knots begin to unravel. Every fiber of your being goes with it, as your vision clears, and horror sinks into your voice. It was difficult enough to notice it, but you repeat the obvious."I've been hurting you."There's a priest at your side, holding onto you. The Father of the Immaterial might be lying, but you're certain he's actually still holding onto you. "It's alright. I just need you to breathe."He's keeping you steady, and your hair back. As you're propped up against his side, head slightly angled, there's another sudden sensation in the back of your throat.It's not hands, but a rush of vomit, as Sullivan keeps you from retching on anything in your King's castle. "You've helped me understand," he calmly informs you. "Try to not say anything. We can wait."You try to not think too hard about it. Ray is off to the side, having stayed like the good boy he is. There's no evidence that he harmed your caretaker, despite all appearances of you being pushed to your limit in his hands.The residual burn in your throat is from more than the nausea you fear may never leave. It's not of the scent of decay, and white lilies, that's hanging in the air. You've clearly been crying uncontrollably, for what must have been hours. The thin, white substance that's overflowed from a makeshift basin near your feet is still partially in your lungs. It's hard to breathe, your head is swimming, and the edges of your knuckles are white.Angry, red crescents are a harsh contrast, beneath your nails, as they've been digging into Sullivan's forearm. He's been keeping hold on you— without ever once letting go— and no matter how deep that may have been. The priest doesn't say a word, but looks to you stoically."We could have stopped." He obviously doesn't mind the vomit, the tears, or the agony both of you have been in. "I'm glad We didn't."He minds that you listened. He minds that you cared. There's a severe tremor in the arm you've been abusing, as he pulls you in, and holds you. "This illuminates a lot of things. Thank you for sharing this with me."A ragged breath escapes you. It's necessary to clear your throat, hard, to try and breath back in.He smells a little bit like lilies.Another wave of nausea follows suit. Pulling away violently, to make use of any container you can find, Ray's whining is almost as loud as your retching. You note that, at the very least, Sullivan makes no motion to undo the string tying you both together.There's fetters of threads in your thoughts. Over 1600 years of them.You try breathing out again, without getting sick all over yourself. It's manageable. With your eyes wide enough for anyone to see the white, the green, and the gold, you stare down the man next to you.He looks calmly back, with an equally disturbing gaze, and lets you make the first move.(2/4)
>>4268772You return his hold, pulling the priest into a tight hug, and find your strength. There are no tears. You're conflicted, and furious, desperate for answers and more grateful than you can possibly articulate.You try, regardless. "Thank you."Sullivan nods, and pats you on the back in a sterile way. "You never need to thank me. It's high Time I started to do my job.""No," you breathe, hating the sourness on your tongue, "no. Thank you. You did everything you could. You accomplished more— more today than Sister Cardew and I have achieved in months."You can practically hear the man's sneer. "I trusted her more than anyone with your care. How disappointing.""No," you fire back.Pulling away is necessary, to look the Father of Spirit straight in the eye. He's been crying, too, though his gaze is now dry. The priest doesn't move an inch, staring you down, and waiting for an answer."I have made so much progress under her care," you sigh, fighting down the headache, the burn in your mouth, and memories of her months of thankless work. "Thanks to her, and—"Cyril is waiting. Father Friedrich placed his reputation and life on the line to grant me this opportunity. My congregation—"—and so many others..."What would have all of this have been, if I lost myself? Especially now?"Are you alright, right now? Physically. Can you breathe?"It's a challenge. You love challenges, and are unsure if the heat in your face is from the mounting awareness of how much pain you're in, or a fever. "Yes," you manage, before launching back off again. "You— you've heard it now, first-hand.""Not the worst of it, I'm sure."Hearing someone taking you seriously is such a relief, you manage to sink back into your chair."It's a start," Father Sullivan dead-pans, unable to quell the enthusiasm in his face, or the obvious need to say more."Mercy.""I am terribly proud of you for not calling upon Her.""Thank you.""I'm not saying this lightly, Richard.""I know.""Lesser men have lost themselves to far lesser things."Do you have any idea what this could mean—?""Richard.""Yes?""You still haven't answered my question."There's still a Goddess working through the priest beside you. He's making no movement to unfasten the holy symbol about your hands, nor to let you move an inch away.I'm barely here. He's terrified.You take a few deep breaths, and try to ground yourself, just like Sister Cardew has helped guide you. The air burns hotter than the sear in your throat. The scent of beeswax and acrid, white bile sticks to your tongue. Your head is swimming with vertigo, but you remember several things. (3/4)
>>4268777You haven't eaten properly in over five days. The last Time you endured Beltoro's memory, you nearly died. You're in the King's castle, above-ground, and recently saved the lives of nearly two hundred thankful men and women. Ones who will not turn, lie imprisoned at the bottom of the world, or suffer needlessly regardless of your actions. Most importantly: you gave them all hope.At the first indication that you are thinking about anything other than a demon, Sullivan releases his invocation to Spirit. The slump in his narrow shoulders is immediate. "We're going to get this cleaned up," he breathes, clearly exhausted, "and let you lie down. You're staying across the castle?""...yes.""You need your rest. I will not discuss this any further until you've been taken care of.""But—"You're cut off, by a very weary frown. "When are we meeting again?"You don't know how to reply. More answers follow. You feel spoiled, to have so many answers."I am obligated to stay here for as long as you need me," Sullivan winces, sneering, "our King has not been particularly pleased with my occupation in the Church of Spirit, as of late. I believe this development could help both of us."He leans in a little, unfastening his holy symbol. "It pains me more than I can say," the knot is undone, "to stop here," the thread is unwound, "but you were hurting yourself."The priest immediately rubs at his arm, as you part your grasp. It's sticky from how badly you were sweating, but he's not bothered in the slightest."I won't stand for you to come under further injury under my care. We won't call upon Her again, until this is properly discussed."Your own scowl is absolute."Your obsession with Time is unrelenting.""It is respect."Disbelief and a polite lack of response is not all you get in return. "You're likely the busiest man in the city. I understand if you have business to attend to, but is tomorrow alright with you?">A] You don't care about propriety. He's coming to your room, and you're discussing this in full.>1] You'll both rest, and sort out this entire mess after you've had some sleep.>2] You'll go through the trouble of looking after your health, but you're not getting any rest until you've dug into this discovery.>3] You just need the company and moral support. This is a lot to take in.>B] Fuck the rules, guards, nobility, clergy, or trouble you might be causing the King. You're exhausted, staying put, and occupying this study for as long as you need to.>1] You're legitimately scared of how awful it's going to be to move.>2] You're worried about making a scene on the way back to your room, and would do anything to spare King Magnus the trouble.>3] You really are obsessive, and bent with every ounce of will on immediately analyzing your experience.>C] Write-in.
>>4268787>A] You don't care about propriety. He's coming to your room, and you're discussing this in full.>2]
>>4268809+1OWO s-sullivan s-s-senbai
>>4268787>A] You don't care about propriety. He's coming to your room, and you're discussing this in full.>2] You'll go through the trouble of looking after your health, but you're not getting any rest until you've dug into this discovery.
>>4268809>>4269484>>4269486(Unanimous vote, alright alright. Locking here, busy morning. Will write shortly!)
>>4269736(Thanks for your patience guys, writing now.)
>>4269966"You are absolutely right," you murmur, accepting a handkerchief to wipe most of the sweat and sick from your face.Relief soaks into Father Sullivan. He sinks back into his own chair, looking to the ceiling, as he practically prays, "I never thought I would hear those words—""I can't wait," you agree, whole-heartedly. "You can call it obsession, if you want," He closes his eyes, too exasperated and exhausted to even look at you. " but my devotion—""You must be joking.""I—" you can't sound any more apologetic, "I will at least see to my health—"The priest's scowl is growing by the minute. He rolls his head back around, stiffly straightens up, and stares you down. "You seriously hurt yourself, Richard. I don't need to explain to you how close you came to losing yourself."He at least has enough respect of Mercy to not need to clarify, 'again.'Your conviction is still as complete as can be. "I will not rest until we have discussed this matter in full."Looking wantingly to some of the wine at the nearest table, Sullivan has to clarify, "not tomorrow, or this evening. Right now.""Today," you insist. "As I said— and I would have you accompany me.""You likely can't walk." He gets up, and actually does get himself a glass. The priest makes no motion to get you to stand."We will manage," you hiss, as you shift, completely understanding the situation. Ray is at your side in an instant, unable to keep to himself any longer. The pain that cuts across your head is so fast and intense that you nearly get sick again. Stomach aching from the exertion, the illness, and the immediate realization that walking is more than you can manage, you don't stay on your feet for more than another moment. As you collapse back into your seat, muffling a groan, Sullivan glances over his shoulder."Where were we going," he levelly inquires.The sound amplifies the pain in your skull tenfold. You've felt worse, enjoyed better, and beat down the worst of another sound that might be elicited. It's not so bad, until a muted tch comes from the priest's teeth across from you. He's completely aware of what you're going through, and with a patient tone, levelly warns, "you shouldn't get up. Richard."There's at least no cold sweat on you. "S-Sullivan." The heat is a little reassuring. The heady smoke and scent of illness at your feet is not."I'm going to go get a few things. You're in no shape to get across the castle.""I am fine—""You are not."You pick your gaze up, trying to focus. It's terribly hard to see anything, but the elderly man across from you still seems extremely shaken. "I am not," he fearlessly admits, "and need an extra hand if we're going to get you anywhere more discreet."Grimacing seems appropriate.(1/2)
>>4270090"There's no question that King Magnus wanted us as far from each other as possible," he winces, "given our history," he's cringing, "and your condition. I know that you had already run yourself ragged, in the cathedral ward. Everyone has been talking about you, Richard. Your people. The demons you've fought. All that you've done—"Sullivan sets down an empty wine glass, hard.You twitch at the sudden motion, and another wave of heat comes into your face from the blossoming pain in every motion.Walking over to you, the priest of spirit doesn't seat himself on any adjacent chairs. "We'll talk, if you promise me that you'll get some rest."We haven't established our work together for even a day, and he's already testing me."I need answers," you mutter, frustrated beyond belief, "but yes. Did I not just—"Clearly knowing what it would do to you to follow, he's already moving towards the door. There's a scowl on his face, and a squashed, disgusted sneer. Earnestly, Sullivan manages, "I will be right back, and I need you to trust me, Father Anscham.">A] Try to show some mutual respect. It's obvious that Father Sullivan only wants to help. Stay put, let him take care of anything you need, and try to not be too embarrassed about the situation.>1] It's honestly fine. You really appreciate the effort. All of his efforts. There needs to be some mutual respect here, if you're going to have the trust of one of the most respected men in Corcaea.>2] You resent not being able to do more, but have no use for pride, and will go along with his request. You aren't going to make anything more out of this, though.>B] You can count on one hand how many people have ever challenged your authority. It's for good reason. You know what's best for you, and all the insanity you've endured.>1] Make the strongest case you can to Sullivan to not involve anyone else. You'll do everything you can to get up, on your own two feet. You REALLY are not in the mood for any mind-games, and will do just about anything to stress that point. (A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED.)>2] You are actually pretty offended that Sullivan is immediately disregarding a request you've made of him. You're willing to fight over this. (Write-ins may be extremely helpful, here.)>C] Write-in.
>>4270096>>A] Try to show some mutual respect. It's obvious that Father Sullivan only wants to help. Stay put, let him take care of anything you need, and try to not be too embarrassed about the situation.>>1] It's honestly fine. You really appreciate the effort. All of his efforts. There needs to be some mutual respect here, if you're going to have the trust of one of the most respected men in Corcaea.
>>4270101>>4270149(Awesome. Was hoping to get a couple updates out today. Vote is locked! Writing now.)
>>4270156https://youtu.be/4SDXAoEFM_Y"Thank you," you call out, as the priest turns around the corner. The door clicks softly behind him. You take a few deep breaths, scratch Ray behind his ears, and try to get comfortable. It's not working, but just as you're about to try to get up, clean, or do anything to look more presentable, a single servant enters the room. Alongside Father Sullivan, both men have their heads bowed, and were clearly muttering to each other."—you have my word—""Do not try my patience—"Both men stand straight, the instant they realize you're looking over."Father Anscham," the clean-shaven, care-worn, burly gentleman states. His spine is nearly as straight as yours, a few towels are over his shoulder, and he only gives you a nod before immediately setting to cleaning the disaster of the study. You try to not think too much about it. Father Sullivan takes a few minutes to frenetically scrawl something into a nearby book, and you realize this has likely been his study during his stay in the capital."Gregory," the most elderly among you eventually mutters, jerking his quill back to indicate the servant's name. Said servant nods to you, and the entire situation could not feel anymore awkward. Just as Sullivan finishes his writing, the priest moves to get the door, assisting his own servant in a reversed display. You realize he's likely had to buy you precious Time to move without further scrutiny, which is confirmed when both men practically rush back into the room to get you on your feet.Firing a few grateful looks to both of them is the best you can manage. Keeping yourself quiet is all you can really focus on, as you get an arm around the aide at your side, and hiss a few commands to Ray to give him no trouble.Back outside the study, there are no guards to be seen. The hour has clearly dragged on, as candles, lanterns, and torches cast long shadows in every unattended hall. You're painfully led down several, before arriving at another innocuous door. As you're shouldered entirely on Gregory, who only bends slightly with your weight, Sullivan produces a single silver key. It's of obscenely ornate make, but it takes him only a moment to get you all inside.The room is so much more mundane than your own, you wince. The hearth is out, and no sign of the priest's personal possessions are in sight. Regardless, it's tidy, clean, and well furnished enough to not be a complete insult for a church leader to inhabit.You're gingerly let down at the back of the room, beside a closed window and stack of books. The gentleman who helped you to Sullivan's quarters is gone as soon as he came. "He won't have raised any questions," Sullivan levelly explains, "but we will have.""I sincerely—" you start, barely able to speak, "—appreciate the effort.""Can you look after yourself," he frowns, "while I ensure we have no future headaches to deal with?"(1/2)
>>4270291"Yes. Of course."Sullivan might as well have been carrying you, for how much weight seems to come off his shoulders. With a nod towards an adjacent washbasin, and to Ray, he repeats, "look after yourself."There's no use doing more than getting the worst of the sweat off of you, and as much of the sick out of your mouth as you can, by the Time he gets back. A few extra pillows, blankets, a bundle of what smells like baked bread, a flagon of water, and a frown cross the room over to you. "Bed, or food. I am not taking 'no' for an answer."You insist, "this needs to be a mutual arrangement, Sullivan.""If you intend to fight me on every little—"Your grimaces reflect off of one another. It's hard to not hate how similar they are. The Father of Spirit remains standing, unmoving, until you swipe the package out of his hands. "One of mutual respect," you clarify, unfolding the cloth around the item. It's the plainest looking bread you've ever seen.He's still trying to not let on how much he actually cares."You tried to get me something that wouldn't upset—"The priest puts the flagon of water in your hands, and sits right beside you. The pillows and blankets are uneventfully sat right beside him. "Do you plan on sitting there all evening?" With a murmur, you promise, "as long as it takes."A blanket is shoved at you, too. "Get comfortable. We have a lot to discuss."It's extremely soft, and you probably look ridiculous, but wrap yourself up and start to pick at the food brought to you. You're disgustingly comfortable, even through the pain of having anything to eat, and start, "I have no idea where to begin."A glint is in the priest's eye, despite the severity of his tone, or the frown across his face. "I believe I do.""Go on.""You have struggled since your return home. Not primarily because of my actions," he winces, "your brother's, or your congregation. It's as I suspected."An incredibly apologetic tone creeps into Sullivan's voice, as he looks to you with those utterly disturbing eyes. "You didn't think of the Church of Mercy as a place to truly find comfort, or safety. You think of the ruins as home, and it's no wonder."The priest leans forward, and tries to soften his gaze. "Your best and worst memories are there. It's where you found yourself, and all of the answers you've been seeking."With completely earnestness, he folds his hands together, and doesn't seem to mind looking up to you. "I would like for us to focus on why that is. I don't believe you'll be able to continue your work if you let this get the best of you, Richard. Here, for our King— for your congregation— back at home, and at the Church of Mercy. This is all to say nothing of wherever else your life may take you." Worry is discoloring his wrinkled brow, as Father Sullivan suggests, "I believe you are up to the task. Correct me if I'm wrong."(Options in next post.)
>>4270296>A] He's right.>1] You can't ever imagine feeling more at home than how you did when you were in Yech's company.>2] But there's nothing wrong with that. Right?>3] Your best memories are ALL from your Time spent at the bottom of the world.>4] You are convinced that the answer to your life's work is the result of your expedition into the ruins.>5] There's no question that you still constantly trivialize your experiences now, compared to what you endured down there, too.>6] You would like to pursue your research into the Catalyst with Sister Cardew, still. You can't stop your work now.>7] You're also worried that you're getting side-tracked, and want to have help focusing on the task at hand.>8] You'd like matter of your Spirit, your continued well-being, and your future endeavors to be helped by Father Sullivan. Make it explicit. You're up to this.>B] He's wrong.>1] You have clear evidence of why his statements aren't true. (Write-in.)>2] You don't know why this is upsetting you, but he's not right. He can't be. (Feel free to point out specifics or if it's a general feeling.)>C] Can you just talk about the reality-shattering experience you JUST had? You feel like you're dying, and his composure seems better than ever. How can he be so calm and collected? Wasn't he breaking down himself just a few minutes ago?>1] You're fine. REALLY.>2] You're really badly shaken, and probably needed more Time than you initially thought.
>>4270306B1The ruins were not better than eadric, it was just very unlikely to find such Mercy at the bottom of the world in a place You wanted to die in. It was a harsh place that put everything in stark contrast and amplified suffering and relief alike.
>>4270306>A] He's right.>7]
>>4270326>>4270327(Alright, locking the vote here! Writing now.)
>>4270563"You are wrong about one, incredibly important thing," you immediately correct. Nothing more than a quiet, open look is directed towards you in reply.https://youtu.be/9fN7udMAMogHomesickness is on you. It's more cloying than the awful, sweet scent of Spirit's flower still hanging in your memory. It's brighter than the light Idonea's Relic, and bleaker than countless decaying halls. You sink into your seat, fonder memories, and a distant mutter. "The ruins were in no way preferable to Eadric. To my gardens. To my church. To my home."Ray drops himself uneventfully at your feet. Shifting them under yourself for a little more support, you drawing the blankets about you more tightly. It doesn't matter to you either way, if Sullivan can see the hands that goes to your locket, chest, and heart.He still doesn't know a fraction of what I've been through."It was simply unlikely, Sullivan."Everything that I have sacrificed."How— how could I have known?"Everything that they all did for my sake? Without any of us ever needing to ask each other why?"That I would find such Mercy, at the bottom of the world—"Your voice cracks, as you choke out, "in a place I wanted to die in."The rest spills over your lips, not unlike so much vomit. "It was unforgiving. Harsh. In stark contrast to— not just to anything and everything I had been through before— but everything that happened— and everything that has come after. The ruins, their demons, my friends and my allies, every last one of them— it amplified suffering, and relief alike."An incredibly concerned stare is boring into you, from a man who's idea of helping you has been to make your penchant for masochism public knowledge. He looks sick, but makes no motion to interrupt.He really does want to help. Not despite everything, but because of it."You are right about at least one further thing, Sullivan." The priest is obviously too humbled by his mistakes to interject. You explain, "I cannot let this get the better of me."Several long minutes pass. Forcing yourself to finish the rest of the bread and water you were given, keeping your breath level enough to not choke becomes an exercise in restraint. You take extreme pleasure in it. A bit more of the nausea subsides, and after a few minutes more, the worst edges of your headache soften. Sitting much further upright, you get your feet back on the ground, and feel infinitely more presentable."I cannot afford to be this distracted from the task at hand." Modestly, you concede, "I am worried. It would mean everything to me, if— if I could have your help."Sullivan clearly has to take a minute to get his bearings. The pause is necessary to articulate with as much respect as he's able, "you've never made it easy, Richard."(1/2)
>>4270698You almost want to fire off an explanation, or a retort, but the priest almost trips over himself to finish, "I can't let that stop me again." Almost more to himself, than to you, he finishes, "I will not permit that to stop me again.""Thank you," you murmur, as sincerely as the Father of Compassion can.It's quite a lot. A very weary almost-smile is given back to you, as the corners of Father Sullivan's lips twitch again.It occurs to you that the churches of Spirit and Mercy are still historic allies. The grimace that's been plastered across your face almost relents."You've gotten much taller," Sullivan comments, wanting for some normalcy, and clearly struggling through his own insanity to manage it. You're too polite to mention that he looks a lot shorter, but there are infinitely more important things to discuss— with, or without tact.>A] Try to wind down from the nightmare of a day you had. Catch up with your earliest mentor. Keep it wholesome. You really would like to know him better, and this seems like an opportune Time for it.>B] There's still a million questions on your mind. None of them are pleasant, but you'd like to think that this is the one person on Aerth who will ALWAYS appreciate your honesty.>1] Seriously, what happened in Murgate? No one wants to talk about it, and Victor killed at least 6 people?>2] What is the deal between Father Sullivan and Sister Cardew? You're not being nosy. Their animosity could actually obstruct your work.>3] How does he intend to help keep you focused all the way from here, in the castle? You have a LOT of work to still do in Calunoth, and might not be able to always easily come back.>4] You frankly need to lose some weight, and are bothered that he immediately deduced you haven't been looking after yourself. Aside from getting so sick, how did he deduce that you haven't been taking care of yourself?>5] How much trouble did he encounter out in the castle, exactly? Was that servant merely a servant in his employ, or something else?>7] You might be a little paranoid, but are curious if he's had others in his employ around Calunoth, too. It's actually your business, now.>C] There's a LOT you both could discuss. You want to make the most of this opportunity. (Write-in.)
>>4270703>B]>2] What is the deal between Father Sullivan and Sister Cardew? You're not being nosy. Their animosity could actually obstruct your work.
>>4270724(Nice. Going to leave this vote open for another 15 minutes, will close after that.)
>>4270858(Just making it solid, vote is locked! Writing now.)
>>4270893You're a budding diplomat, the Father of Compassion, and the lover of Mercy. An attempt at tact has to be made, no matter how awkward it is."Permit me to be honest with you," you try, with no illusions of normalcy.An immediate, "go ahead," doesn't surprise you, despite how loaded your statement is. You're certain that, despite his reputation, the Father of Spirit still prizes the truth over nearly everything.Taking heart from the vote of confidence, you continue, "of all the ways that I have grown in—" there's no tactful way to put it, "—in the years since we last saw one another, I have Sister Cardew to thank the most. Truly. Her work went without my gratitude for too long. It's only been in recent weeks that I've come to fully appreciate how much work we've accomplished together."The sternest frown you've ever seen (save for your own,) makes no illusions of Sullivan's certainty. "I would have expected nothing less of her."Pressing the question like a poultice to a bleeding wound, you firmly ask, "what happened between the two of you? Why— why do you harbor so much animosity towards one another?""I have never—""You have not spoken kindly of Sister Cardew in the single afternoon we've spent together, Sullivan."The priest looks like you've slapped him. You lean over, scratch Ray's back, and feel a lot more like yourself already. "I am listening," you murmur, while giving your dog a little more sorely needed affection.While your mastiff immediately looks like he could sleep, sensing your nerves winding down, the priest across from you is a live wire. "She has never been agreeable, Richard. You have to understand."You almost laugh, "absolutely," and make note to tell Cyril if you get the opportunity. Much more seriously, you ask, "how is that a problem?""The girl—"It seems appropriate to raise an eyebrow to Father Sullivan."She's twenty, Richard."A flash of running in the rain, alongside a woman in entirely white clothing, sticks to your mind. You peel it away, with a, "Mercy—" and try to ignore the more intense frown still directed back towards you.It's impossible to ignore. There's a battle raging in the priest next to you, and you're not certain if he's torn between what to say, how to say it, or if he's about to completely snap all over again."Sullivan?"Melancholy and anger make for an ugly combination, in the elderly man at your side who sounds every bit his age. "I've known her family for longer than she can imagine." He bitterly accuses, "she has been petulant," outright sneering, "she hasn't written me in months," and with a thread of despair and more tragedy than you can stand, he concludes, "and I can't blame her at all."(1/3)
>>4271064Giving Ray a pat on his side, you straighten back upright, and patiently make every indication you're still listening."It is because she has always questioned my methods that I trusted her with your care, Richard.""She's mentioned you on numerous occasions, but never so clearly.""The girl's near-sighted," Sullivan snips, in every meaning of the phrase.You keep quiet, and try to not make the man's mood any fouler. He doesn't need any further prompting."It's never stopped her from challenging me." You have to blink a few times, to confirm that a slight smile won out, creeping alongside the edges of Sullivan's worn face. He continues, more softly, "she's never been able to understand. She wants change. Transparency. The girl thinks that everything should be known by everyone."His scowl is back in full. "She was responsible for divulging the location of that demon within Beorward to you, wasn't she?""Yes." You've always appreciated her honesty, and candidness. "Only a few weeks prior, she was the only person who had ever had the decency to speak to me like a human rightfully should, Sullivan. She was more than happy to tell me that I was not a demon." "She should have been born to the Church of Mercy, Richard." He's terribly bitter.You genuinely aren't. "I know.""Her fixation—" he's grimacing so hard, you can feel it hurting, "—drove her away from the rest of the world. Probably has seen as much of the sun as you. Couldn't get her to stay out of my libraries or studies for anything."A flash of realization hits you.It's no wonder she gets along so well with Ofelia. It's not that the entirety of the church is kept under lock and key.All of the locks she took from Murgate were stolen from its libraries."She's resented my methods, Richard. Resented that I've kept her from her study. She resents anyone that comes between her and her work—"Even Father Wilhelm's intervention on my behalf drew her ire. To say nothing of Father Friedrich—"—she's vindictive. I had hoped that spending some Time away from home would have helped. To give the girl what she wanted. Some freedom to study, with a man who'd have more than enough answers."You try to not be too flattered, as he has a point. Granted, it's very easy for you to not be flattered by most people, let alone by an elderly man that vaguely resembles a demon."I insisted that she still report to me," Sullivan admits, "even though she had made it abundantly clear she never wanted to speak with me again."Is this all a horrific misunderstanding?You can't help but pry. This is absolutely your business. "Why?"(2/3)
>>4271070The priest's heart is broken. So is his sanity. "We've been keeping demons outside of the Church of Spirit for years, Father Anscham. More lost souls come into to our walls than any other. We can't contain them all. I'd written to your church for aid months past. It's been nearly a year, now, since I first made the requests." The plural doesn't escape you, though you're certain only one came by your desk, and only just before you left for the ruins. "Most of my clergy respects me— but they can't all be kept in line through Mercy. Do you understand, Richard?"Aside from Morris and Stace further obstructing the way your country has been operating, you murmur, "I don't.""I have done everything in my power to keep my children safe. Everything." His voice breaks, nose wrinkled, clearly so disgusted with himself that he struggles to spit, "I've been a fool."There's no hesitation in your question. You need to know. "What have you done, Sullivan?""You already know. I asked for help wherever I could, Richard. Even from Galterius, when it may have cost us a war. Even from dissenters in the Church of Storm, when it enabled the sickness and death of our capital city. Even from your brothers, who I know have hurt you, and so many others."He really does look like he's going to be ill. "She's known. A lot of them do. I don't expect any of them to ever find it in their hearts to forgive me."Sister Cardew was trusted with my records, from the Church of Spirit. She likely knew a fraction of my problems months, or years, before being tasked with my care.Was this all too difficult for her to tell me?>A] This makes so much sense it's tragic. Ask Father Sullivan if he's even willing to talk to Harriet. There has to be a way to set things right, and you're willing to do everything in your power to make it happen.>B] Sister Cardew has always meant well, but you're not sure how comfortable you are working with her any further. You don't need to say anything more about her to Sullivan now. You REALLY need to talk to the priestess at length, and you're certain you've got a backlog of subjects to cover that will last well into the next age.>1] Just try to reassure Sullivan. His concerns are valid, but this is all totally understandable.>2] Stay quiet on the matter. His behavior has been abhorrent. You're not about to pretend it's okay, and don't want to lie to the priest's face. Hopefully it's enough that you've found it in YOUR heart to forgive him, but you don't speak for everyone else in your company.>C] You're insanely uncomfortable. Harriet's work with you seems insanely unhealthy, and you're compelled to voice your concerns. Surely, someone who's known the priestess all her life would be able to let you know if she's had any ulterior motives.>D] Write-in.
>>4271072>B] Sister Cardew has always meant well, but you're not sure how comfortable you are working with her any further. You don't need to say anything more about her to Sullivan now. You REALLY need to talk to the priestess at length, and you're certain you've got a backlog of subjects to cover that will last well into the next age.>1] Just try to reassure Sullivan. His concerns are valid, but this is all totally understandable.the plot thiccens
>>4271072>>B] Sister Cardew has always meant well, but you're not sure how comfortable you are working with her any further. You don't need to say anything more about her to Sullivan now. You REALLY need to talk to the priestess at length, and you're certain you've got a backlog of subjects to cover that will last well into the next age.>>1] Just try to reassure Sullivan. His concerns are valid, but this is all totally understandable.
>>4271072>B] Sister Cardew has always meant well, but you're not sure how comfortable you are working with her any further. You don't need to say anything more about her to Sullivan now. You REALLY need to talk to the priestess at length, and you're certain you've got a backlog of subjects to cover that will last well into the next age.>1] Just try to reassure Sullivan. His concerns are valid, but this is all totally understandable.
>>4271103>>4271113>>4271114(Locking the vote here, hope you all are having a good morning. Writing now!)
>>4271395There's another fracture in you. It's not of your skin, but in your bleeding heart. "You know just as well as I do that you have— Mercy, Sullivan, this is all completely— entirely understandable."You're given a wary look.He's actually listening to me.It's not at your compassion, but what you're actually trying to say. "That I've what, Richard?""You have only meant well."Sullivan looks like he might cry. "You know how much it means for me to hear that, don't you.""Of course," you assert. "There is no folly in doing everything in your power to keep your children safe."He's really struggling to keep his composure, and shifts a little. It looks like he's exhausted, but the priest manages to snip, "naturally.""I suspect I know more than most," you're given a nod of acknowledgement, and continue, "and you know I forgive you."A few strands of disheveled hair get smoothed back into place, only to be mussed again. With a shake of his head in disbelief, a disbelieving, "I don't know how I could have put you through so much—""We can move on. I have my own business to conduct, and my own company to keep." Shifting upright, you murmur, "we can both count ourselves lucky." Setting the blanket beside you, hands free, you gesture with Mercy's symbol towards the man before you. "We can move on." The verbiage is ancient, but you happily recite, "pure is made blood spilled, when held by Mercy."A ragged breath comes forth, as Sullivan leans forward, and takes the gesture in full. His own hands are clammy, and awful, and you really don't care. "We're going to make this right," he insists.You offer a weary grimace in return. A few long minutes pass. Sullivan gets up, and starts to stoke the hearth, while Ray falls soundly asleep at your feet. "You really should get some rest," the gentleman across the room muses. Fully implying you never are, he smirks, "if you're satisfied.">A] You are. Get some rest. You've earned it.>1] Sleep as long as you need to. Warn Sullivan that it might be awhile.>2] Ask to be woken up in no more than another day. You have a lot of work to do.>3] Ask to be woken up in the morning, if anyone can manage it. It will have already been four days, tomorrow, since you last saw anyone in your company.>B] You still have so much you want to say. (Write-in anything further you wish to discuss. All prior prompts are still completely viable.)>C] Leave how to conclude the evening, and when to rouse you, up to Sullivan.>D] Write-in.
>>4271433>>A] You are. Get some rest. You've earned it.>3] Ask to be woken up in the morning, if anyone can manage it. It will have already been four days, tomorrow, since you last saw anyone in your company.
>>4271464>>4271627(Great, unanimous vote! Vote is locked, writing now.)
>>4271661(I gotchu bro. Thanks for always voting.)
>>4271653https://youtu.be/IJHEOwuDF0MLooking between your faithful hound, an enemy-turned-ally at your side, the interior of your King's castle and the Relic safely around your neck, you can't help but wearily smile. "I am."Sullivan raises his eyebrows in legitimate surprise. "Is that so?""I still have so much work to do," you're back to grimacing, and a little laughter comes out of the priest by the hearth."That's what I thought."With utmost seriousness, you try to implore, "would you wake me tomorrow morning, Sullivan?"He seems confused. "If it's necessary. Certainly."You're fidgeting, with the locket about your neck, and the ring on your hand. No one minds. "It will have been four days, tomorrow, since I last saw any of my company.""I see." He wants some actual answers."I sleep like the dead," you plainly state. "Dream has looked kindly upon me, these last few months, and I have not warranted His respect for many long years.""Something to address another Time," he insists, without any further questioning. "Dawn?""Preferably."White eyes look to the bed, and to you. "How are we doing this?"Convincing Sullivan to let you have the bed for only a few hours is a short affair. Watching the elderly man assemble a network of pillows and blankets upon several chairs is more amusing than you could have hoped for. His pillow fort stands valiantly, casting majestic shadows thanks to the last embers of the hearth.As you sink into another fantastic mattress, looking to the silhouette of a castle made of thread, you have no fear in your heart of your former enemy.His nightcap is as excessive as the rest of his clothing, yet he has the audacity to comment on yours. Peeking his head out from the mountain of cloth, Sullivan smirks, "gold-thread, Richard? Is that necessary?""Yes," you grin. Your bad back completely taken care of, the sheets are softer than you could have hoped for, and your best friend is already soundly asleep at your side."Are those rabbits," he asks, in a quieter tone."They are." You yawn, "a few bears as well, Sullivan."He yawns back, and whispers, "...Father Wilhelm's idea, was it?""He is extremely generous," you happily inform him, sinking a bit further beneath the sheets. Only the top of your eyes, Ray at your feet, and the ridiculously ornate nightcap upon your head are visible, in the dying light. "Blessed be the night," you murmur.A grumpy, "blessed be the Dream," is the last thing you hear, before sleep takes you.You've earned every minute of the rest you're granted, deep in the darkness.-----(1/3)
>>4271758As usual, you're awoken by someone shaking you. There's a light, bright enough to rival your Goddess, and a bleary smile spreads across your face."Mercy?""It's too early in the day for this. Don't get romantic with me, Richard."Your smile drops, with a dead-pan, "Sullivan."The shaking stops, as you bring up your arms from the warmth of the sheets, and rub some sleep from your eyes. The curtains at the end of the room are open, and the sunrise is filtering in. Sullivan is standing beside the bed, fully dressed. His disturbing eyes are bright, and he's eyeing Ray warily. "He nearly killed me," the priest accuses.Your boy gives you a look that says he absolutely did not."Good boy," you smile to the mastiff, who promptly climbs over your frame to cuddle. "Good morning, Ray. You are such a good boy—"An exasperated smirk colors Sullivan's words. "I should leave you to your business. I'll be staying here, in the castle— but neither of us should suffer any further obstruction to our travel in the city." His smirk falls, and with complete seriousness, he insists, "we both have a lot of work to conduct, still. I would hope I could leave you with some counsel."Looking up from ruffling Ray's fur, you command your boy to sit aside, and frown to the priest. "Go on."There's a shift in composure that's downright disturbing. Every trace of the priest's instability snaps into a cold, collected, and dry delivery. He seems infinitely more comfortable with himself, though all of the heat seems to leave the room in his normal demeanor's wake. "The company you keep— being your congregation— is still comprised of murderers, heathens, and treasonous blasphemers. Before taking any of them to your home, or permitting them to run the streets, I strongly suggest that you do as King Magnus has instructed. Reign them in. Ensure that we suffer no further loss of life."He isn't trying to be cruel. There's sincerity covering his frame, and fear for your safety. You remain silent, and look to the man to continue.In a much lower voice, Father Sullivan softly mentions, "Time with your patron would be well spent, as well. I have deprived you of every opportunity to show your respect to Mercy. It would be foolish to spurn Her blessing, and more prudent than I can caution to make the Time for Her."With a good deal of slack in his shoulders, and a lot more warmth in his tone, you watch as the elderly man seems to take back on his humanity. "She would surely help with your physical condition. You will be of no use to your friends if you can't keep your decency while you move—""Sullivan," you caution, without threat or anything more than a warning glance.He puts his hands up, defensively, and quickly switches the gesture to that of Mercy. "I've done as much as I can," he frowns.(2/3)
>>4271762Shifting to sit upright, even to return his gesture, is a horrific mistake. There's a hideous twitch in your right arm the moment you put any weight on it, and the deepest pit of your gut is aching with the same intensity. Your headache seems to have relented, but there's a scratch in your throat, and a burn in your chest.A flask of water is held out to you, graciously. "If you only listen to a single statement I make, Richard: please take care of yourself."Slumping back against the headboard, accepting the offer, you murmur, "of course. Thank you.">A] Take Sullivan's counsel, ask for some privacy, and invoke Mercy.>1] Stay in bed. You want to cuddle, dammit.>2] Get some proper clothes on, clean yourself up, and eat something first. See if you can set up something nice for Her.>3] Command Ray to get off the bed, and give you some space. You haven't been with Her in over a week, and would like to be more intimate with your partner.>B] You seriously have way too much to do in the city. Thank Sullivan graciously for his support, and head out. Use your Relic, if necessary, to manage any pain you're in.>1] Head straight for your own quarters. King Magnus said he had left you a few things.>2] Go to the Royal Archive, alone, to seek out Professor Echo. You're not risking ruining your mission now, given the Father of Spirit's own instability.>3] Ask Sullivan if he would accompany you to meet Walter. It may cause more conflict, but you're confident that establishing your alliance with your former enemy firmly will help your cause.>C] You can make Time for your hard-earned ally. Ask Sullivan if he would...>1] ...accompany you for breakfast, out in the city. You want to make your alliance public knowledge as soon as humanly possible.>2] ...join you for breakfast in your own quarters, across the castle. Letting the nobility and members of your church know of what's transpired between you both should come first.>D] You're already getting overwhelmed by how much you have to do, and can do. Put off your responsibility for a few more minutes. Ask Sullivan if he'd get you both some breakfast to have together in his room. No fuss, no politics, no Gods, and no prying eyes.>E] Write-in.
>>4271768>>A] Take Sullivan's counsel, ask for some privacy, and invoke Mercy.>>1] Stay in bed. You want to cuddle, dammit.Ask for advice in helping our congregation learn restraint?
>>4271784+1, our congregation needs to learn a thing or two.
>>4271784>>4272014(Got it, should be great. Locking the vote here, writing now!)
>>4272250Scooting back against the headboard, you hand Sullivan his flask, and give him a knowing look. "Would you grant me another reprieve?"He smirks, "naturally," and immediately moves to leave."I would like nothing more than to heed your counsel," you call over, as he heads for the other side of the room. "If you could announce any interruptions—"Shaking his head, the priest picks up an assortment of books and papers from his desk. "Don't go through my things.""I have no intention of moving from this spot," you happily inform him.The shawls about the priest's shoulders wave slightly, failing to conceal a little more laughter as he heads for the door. "If you're gone before I return, you can find me in my study, Richard." Over his shoulder, the Father of Spirit casually notes, "the immaterial must be known," before slipping out of the room. The hinges click behind him.Gently, you give Ray another pat on the head, groan, and go through the effort of setting aside a portion of your own food and water for him. He's elated to situate himself on a nearby rug, closest to the hearth. You stagger a bit over to the curtains, ensure that they're closed, and that no one should be able to readily listen.It's all you can do to collapse back onto the bed, set aside your nightcap, and try to get more comfortable. Propped back up against the headboard, with a steady breath, you call upon your Goddess.She doesn't need you to ask for Her company, but the privilege of speaking to one another seems to never come often enough. There's instantly warmth in your chest, and a flutter of urgency, as you smile, "Mercy."The flare of light that crossed your vision upon awakening hits you again.She might as well be a dream.(1/3)
>>4272472https://youtu.be/TOxJpPiFe0kBlinking the spots out of your eyes, the breath is taken from your lungs, as slender arms wrap around your shoulders. A full bosom presses up against your own chest, and impossibly soft lips immediately plant themselves onto yours. She's tastes like lemongrass, while Her honey-colored curls brush up against your face. The scent is just as sweet.You hold Her back— gently, firmly, desperately— and with complete confidence that neither of you would rather be anywhere else in the world. There's no need to breathe. You'd rather die than break away, so you wrap your arms into and under Her embrace. One of your hands goes to Her hair, intertwining around metallic strands. The other pulls your lover in, from the small of Her back, as close as you both can hope for.The sun dances in your eyes, as you realize they've been closed all along. You open them, pulling away, and have your breath catch again.The Goddess is practically material. Rather than shifting hues of gold adorning Her frame, a shift of light and amber drapes and clings to every last curve. Shoulders bare, She leans one against you. Taking Her arms back, the Goddess pulls them to Her chest, over Her heart, and looks up to you.She smiles. It's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. The petals of Her lips put a yellow rose, a daffodil, and all the daisies in the world to shame. You wonder what flowers she might like, and smile back, as Mercy whispers with the voice of divinity, "good morning.""Good morning," you smile back, remembering that there is such a thing as Time.The soft curls about Her head lay on your chest. She drags a single finger, sparkling, with golden dew drops of polish on the nail, right up along your chest. The morning sun couldn't rival the heat left in its wake. Her movement stops just above your chest, beside your Relic, as her smile softens further. Splaying Her hand over your heart, Mercy gently shifts the hem of Her dress aside, and wraps a single leg around your own. "I have missed you, Richard."You lay your head gently against Hers, and whisper back, "I've missed you, too."A few minutes pass, as you both are too enamored with your embrace to say another word. You both find it in your soul to take each other's hand, and intertwine your fingers together. Your coarse scars and pale skin are a harsh contrast against Her solid light. Mercy makes a point of bringing your hold just to Her lips.She kisses every single old wound. Not to heal them, but to look up to you between pecks, to sweetly mention, "you're softer."You might as well melt into Her touch, and can't respond until She parts Her lips, and settles your hands back against your chest. Shifting closer, somehow, the Goddess gets you to shift out of your position against the headboard, to lay next to her, and to look each other in the eye.(2/3)
>>4272476She's brighter than a sunflower. You can practically see the hearts in Her eyes, between the dandelion gold and sweetness in Her smile. "It is no weakness.""No," you immediately concur."Your compassion has always been your strength. We know you have worked tirelessly."It's impossible for you to help yourselves, as She unknits Her hand from yours. The Goddess mimics your motion, as you both pull each other closer, with a hand to the other's back. While you trail a few fingers along an impossibly perfect form, against curves and edges that set your soul ablaze, She can't seem to decide what to do with Herself. "You are a miracle. You are so much more than your hands, or your heart. Permit Us to help you.""I know You only want to help." Your brow is furrowed, your frown and concern threatening to overtake the joy of the moment. "I need You, Mercy. Now, more than ever."Your lover, partner, and the Mother of Compassion looks to you with more love than you thought possible. She already knows, but wants you to say it, regardless."Our children," you murmur, "it pains me more than I can say. They need Us. I have to save them, Mercy. They need Our guidance. To learn the definition of restraint."She pulls you in closer, still, and whispers in your ear, "I am always with you. With all all of you. You simply need to remind them. Listen to them. Grant our children your endless compassion." An equal amount of pain is in your partner's voice, as She murmurs back, "they have wandered in darkness and cruelty for too long."Whatever was left of your heart thoroughly melts away, and you pull Her back in, tighter, to murmur, "I have missed you so much."Moving back, even though it clearly pains Her to do so, Mercy makes a point to look you straight in the eye. Earnestly, honestly, with everything you love of Her and more, She repeats to you, "you must give them hope. You have the ability to alleviate their suffering. You have known their pain, and you possess the ability to guide them back to Our light."It pains Her too much to part from the full extent of your embrace for even a full minute. Mercy comes back into your open arms, nestling Herself against your shoulder, wrapping Her arms under your own. "You have done so much in Our name. For yourself. For our children." You can feel Her smile. "I love you so much.""I love you too," you murmur, and place a kiss in Her hair. You can't decide if She smells more like honey or freshly cut tulips.She holds you even tighter, and makes no indication of letting go.(Options in next post.)
>>4272486>A] Kiss Her, and don't let Her go. You don't want to say anything further. She's perfect, this is perfect, and you don't want to ruin the moment.>B] You love Mercy so much, and just want to keep telling Her.>1] Keep it sweet.>2] You wrote a sonnet for Her. Mention it.>3] You've been praising Her night and day. Be a little dramatic. Silly, even. She deserves to hear it.>3] (Write-in anything else you might want to convey, or how you'd like to say it.)>C] You want to talk. You've gone completely soft, and have honestly never felt better.>1] You want to know what Her favorite flower is. You're going to fill your garden back at home with them.>2] Ask Mercy how She's been. How She's feeling. Anything.>3] (Write-in anything else you can think of.)>D] You were mildly concerned about your invocations to Agriculture, but it seems like Mercy doesn't mind in the slightest.>1] Ask Her, regardless. The condition of your vessel has been abysmal lately, and you don't want Her to think you don't care.>2] Suggest that you take care of each other. Intimately. Immediately.>E] Write-in.
>>4272491>C] You want to talk. You've gone completely soft, and have honestly never felt better.>2]
>>4272596>>4273132(Late night update, locking the vote here and writing now!)
>>4273160https://youtu.be/2iG-ZtB8RD4Running a hand up and along the small of a Goddesses back, you do everything in your power to sear the memory into your mind. The touch of Her skin is ethereal. You've never been more grateful to have gone soft, either, as you take in Her smile. The light filtering in through the cracks of the morning sun refracting off of the gold in each other's eyes, as you look to one another, and search for the right words to say."Mercy," you resolutely start, without a hint of tremor in your voice."Yes," She sweetly asks, knowing full well how badly you want to simply talk.Tilting your head just slightly to the side, you confirm that She looks just as stunning from every angle. With a broad grin, you quietly ask, "how are you?"She's amused, and playfully asks, "to be in your company?" The rose-gold about Her lips perks up, in an even more delighted grin. "To have felt all of your love, and devotion?"While your partner keeps one arm nestled around you, She slides the other along your arm, and back into your hand. It's a loose hold, as She runs Her fingers along your palm. It's abundantly clear that she's absolutely loving every inch of you. "To have felt your strength," the hold tightens immediately, as Mercy's voice resonates with every bit of stress and pain you've felt during your work, "and all of your sacrifice? I have missed you. Even if you have not strayed from my thoughts, our children's plight has left me wanting nothing more," She can't help but lay Her head back on your chest, "than to be by your side."It's impossible to resist pulling Her into a tight embrace. Light laughter, sweeter than any other sound you could conceive of, greets you in return. Your heart might never recover, but you find the will to keep talking. Knowing full well that She's felt every last minute of your experiences, you still have to ask, "how are you feeling?"The Mother of Compassion stops her light laughter, to pull back gently.She gestures for you to hide under the blankets. You have to oblige. It's stupid, and immediately drops any and all angst from your figure. The frown that was threatening to appear is gone as soon as it came. Mercy is so radiant, your makeshift shelter is illuminated in full. The Goddess puts a finger to Her lips, then onto yours. "There could be no greater joy, than to see you smile."You melt a little further, and immediately oblige. Sheepishly, you continue to ask, "what about you?"Mercy places a kiss on your cheek, and you're certain an impression of gold is left behind. "There is enough suffering in this world to break Our heart endlessly. We want for nothing more than your happiness. For your life to be filled with joy. For Our love to blossom. You have already done so much good."(1/2)
>>4273259She leans up, just enough to whisper in your ear, "another age could pass Us by. The stars may fall, and the oceans run dry. But never, not in all of Our imaginings, could We hope to love another as much as you. You have blessed Us."You choke down every bit of emotion that you know Mercy is aware of, and kiss Her.Gently holding one another, you keep the connection for just a minute. The taste of honey lingers on your lips, and there's so much heat in you that the blankets are rapidly becoming uncomfortable. A few birds chirp outside the castle walls, punctuating Ray growling a little in his sleep. The Goddess at your side is almost impossibly soft, and She doesn't shy away from a single caress or hold.Sensing that She has more to say, you break away for just a moment, to try and calm your heart down. The lemon curls atop Mercy's head frame Her earnestness, as She puts the blankets back in a normal position, and sits upright. You do the same, immediately, and look to your partner with a good deal of concern. With complete seriousness, She states, "you have granted Us the will to endure.">A] You're pretty sure you know what this is about, and are just going to remain quiet. See if She wants to speak any further on the subject, but don't push Her.>B] You're making a big assumption, but She's left even you once before. It was when you needed Her most, no less. Had Mercy abandoned humanity?>C] You're certain you regardless of what She's referring to, you really want to say something to reassure your lover. (Write-in anything specific, general, or otherwise. Your QM will happily support and/or fill in the blanks if necessary.)>D] You're pretty certain you know what's going on, and have something more to say. (Write-in.)
>>4273262>B] You're making a big assumption, but She's left even you once before. It was when you needed Her most, no less. Had Mercy abandoned humanity?
>>4273262>>A] You're pretty sure you know what this is about, and are just going to remain quiet. See if She wants to speak any further on the subject, but don't push Her.
>>4273262>A] You're pretty sure you know what this is about, and are just going to remain quiet. See if She wants to speak any further on the subject, but don't push Her.
>>4273302>>4273303>>4273339>>4273500>>4273566(Majority for A but we can work with this. Vote is locked! Writing now.)
>>4273664https://youtu.be/VKGRssiqKV0She knows you want to speak up, to talk, to ask Her the question plaguing your mind. Taking each one of Her delicate hands in turn, you offer a smile, instead. Simply listening is the most important thing you can conceive of, across every concern plaguing your life. There is nothing more important than Her, and the moment.Mercy positively wilts under your touch. From the liquid gold welling at the edges of Her eyes, to the way She tightly returns your hold, She is radiating the agony that's lanced across your own thoughts. It seems to be too painful for Her to speak.She had given up on humanity, hadn't She?Gently, you part a single hand, to run your fingers up into Her hair, and hold your lover against your chest. "It's alright." She immediately buries Her face in your robes, and clutches onto you. "I'm here," you murmur, and softly hold Her back.Her tears dry in an instant. Despite having Her face muffled and pressed against your embrace, the Goddess' words are vibrant, and unfettered by any mortal obstruction. It's abundantly clear that She's aware of Her absence, and insists, "I am always with you."Immediately, your agreement of, "yes," catches in your throat. Holding onto Her as tightly as you can, something occurs to you. Something so desperately sweet and tragic that you can scarcely stand it.There's little need for any words between us. She needs to hear that we're always together for Her own sake. Not for mine."Always," you assert, finding yourself, and looking fondly to the pained smile pointed directly at you."I love you." She can't seem to say it enough, and continues Her reassurance. "More than even We can convey to you now. There will come a day of your making, when Our passion will be unfettered by mortal affairs."Her face is obscured from sight, for how closely She's worked Herself into your arms. "Now, and always. Time is irrelevant. Nothing matters more than to grant you Our aid. Our support. My love. My affection." She looks up, to meet your gaze with a sincere smile, "through every trial you have yet to face, and every joy you have yet to bring into the world. We'll be there, together, and want for nothing."You can't help but worry, but smile sincerely back to Her. Lightly lifting Her eyes, with a tilt of Her chin, your comfort almost comes out as a question. "What you're describing is only human."Something is swimming in your lover's gaze, that's unfathomable, and sends another pang through your chest. "Yes."(Options in next post.)
>>4273733>A] Mercy had mentioned once before that She has struggled to maintain an even less concrete form than this, though it for a significantly longer period of Time. You want to understand what She's going through. Ask Her.>B] She knows how much is plaguing you. Despite Her disregard for Time, you both know how precious every moment is that you have together. You just want to hold Her awhile longer, before getting back to mortal affairs. The matter of Her presence in the mortal world, Her own humanity, or anything else with so much severity can wait. You both only want each other.>C] Your partner is clearly dealing with something completely outside of your comprehension, and doesn't know how to articulate it to you. That's alright. Give Mercy the space She needs. You have your entire life to work this out.>1] Simply ask Her if there's anything else She'd like to impart to you, before you see to your children.>2] There's something you would like to tell Her, first. (Write-in.)>D] Write-in.
>>4273735>>C] Your partner is clearly dealing with something completely outside of your comprehension, and doesn't know how to articulate it to you. That's alright. Give Mercy the space She needs. You have your entire life to work this out.>>1] Simply ask Her if there's anything else She'd like to impart to you, before you see to your children.
>>4273735>>A] Mercy had mentioned once before that She has struggled to maintain an even less concrete form than this, though it for a significantly longer period of Time. You want to understand what She's going through. Ask Her.
>>4273737>>4273741>>4273748(Slightly contradictory but I'm going to make this work. Vote is locked. Writing now.)
>>4273735>A] Mercy had mentioned once before that She has struggled to maintain an even less concrete form than this, though it for a significantly longer period of Time. You want to understand what She's going through. Ask Her.
>>4273774(I said it was locked butI gotchu senpai. I gotchu. Really though, writing.)
>>4273771https://youtu.be/QFoapxPvZy4Clutching back onto Mercy, struggling to convey just how much you care, you desperately have to pull back again. It's not just to look down to Her stunning eyes, or Her perfect lips, but to share the mutual pain of the impossibility of your situation."I want to understand," you choke out, "and I never would ask more of You than You are willing to share."The scent of yellow tulips and daisies catch in the air, as the Goddess shakes Her head, and meets your declaration with a smile that rivals every flower in the world. It's so sweet, you forget how to breathe, yet faintly still hear Her reply, "you only need ask it of me.""What—" your brow is knitted so tightly, you're getting a headache, "why—?"You take a deep breath, are greeted with the scent of sunshine on morning dew, and pull the sweetest woman in the world back into your arms. Earnestly, you have to ask, "of everything we have been through together— everything we have endured— I know that this is taxing You. To be here. To be with me. I need to understand. I want to know. What are You going through? I—" you bury your face in Her shoulder, against Her hair, pressing a kiss between each sentence, "I want to be here for You, too. I can't stand the thought of You suffering. Not for anything, Mercy. Speak with me. Please."Though you're certain She doesn't need to breathe, a light gasp and an increasing smile comes forth from every press of your lips to Her neck and face. "Richard.""I love you.""I love you too," She lightly laughs, and doesn't stop your attention for an instant.There is a little quiet, aside from a breeze that picks up beyond the castle walls, and a choir of birds that picks up their chirping. The heat of the morning sun is trivial, compared to the Goddess nestled against your frame, and the fire in your face. Neither of you care, and hold each other closer. With Her gaze trailing along the scars about your jaw, Mercy places a hand to the side of your face, and simply looks at you.She looks like She might cry. You want to, and implore Her, "please. Help me understand.""You are more than Our vessel," She tries, voice brimming with something you cannot place, for all of your empathy. "You are more than Our light, Our compassion, and Our protection."The hand parts from your face. Mercy pulls out of your grasp, to stress with a clear voice, and enough love to break your heart into a thousand pieces, "you have granted me hope. Hope for a better world. Hope that Our love may be known, once again, by any willing to open their hearts and souls once more."Gilded devotion reflects off of the way you lean in, to close the distance between you.(1/3)
>>4273860"It is difficult, still, to endure," She chokes out, with the pain of every aching soul in the world. Mercy's eyes flit over your frame, settling on your eyes, as you both attempt to convey more than can be said in a lifetime. "We should not be here."Realization slams into you, and with all the earnestness and compassion you are capable of conveying, you seize both of Her hands, and stress, "we have saved each other."She takes you into Her arms all over again. The heave of Her chest, as She struggles to speak, is as soft as every word that falls from the petals of Her lips. "We have done nothing more than show you what you have already known. You saved yourself."You can't hold each other tightly enough. Keeping your arms about each other, pulling back only enough to meet each other's gaze, you choke out, "there are still so many who need our aid. Our light. Our Mercy."Sunlight swims in the smile staring sweetly back at you. You've rendered a Goddess speechless.She kisses you, instead of saying another word.Time is irrelevant.The only thing that could possibly matter is the touch of Her lips, the heat on your breath, and the gentle hold you keep on one another.You have never felt better, and your need to live has never been greater.Pulling firmly back, not caring for anything else in the world, you look upon Mercy with eyes swimming in every shade of gold. Stating the obvious is absolutely necessary, for Her sake. "You can't express it."Your lover is torn between shaking Her head, and nodding. It's adorable, heart-breaking, and you take Her back into your arms all over again. "It's alright. We have all our lives together. We can always come back to this. When you're ready— if you're never ready— it— it is alright."You're held so tightly, you might want for air, but you're certain you've forgotten to breathe plenty this morning already. With equal breathlessness, Mercy manages to smile, "is there anything else you would ask of Us?"Running a hand along Her back, trying to soothe Her, you simply state, "anything. Anything at all. Anything you would impart to me, before I see to our children."A stare of abject devotion and unfettered love slips through your arms, as Mercy looks up through your hold. It takes Her a moment, to compose Herself, and to implore you, "be patient with them. They have suffered, in ways only you and I can fathom. Everything they have done in Our name has been from a place of devotion, and love. Help them understand. Guide them."(2/3)
>>4273863Her heart is breaking, but Mercy keeps Her tender expression together through every pained word. "Many of them will never know of love. Not as We know it. Not as We know them. There is only so much that can be done." The Goddess' compassion for you and your devotion triumphs, even over fear of your children's future. Taking heart, She pleads, "do not forget to care for yourself. Many of them have strayed far, from Our light. Do not let them take you back into darkness, and despair. Do not forget that they are all counting on you, Father Anscham."She's determined to support you, because of the weight of your responsibility. With a smile so genuine you can't help but match it, Mercy manages to continue, "Richard.""Yes," you politely ask, as She takes your hands back in Her own.The Goddess teases the band about your left ring finger. The touch is so searing, you don't doubt any other mortal would burn under it. You can't help but love every motion, gasp slightly, and offer Her a broad grin in exchange. Unsure if it's a plea, a question, an utterance of devotion or the only thing you could possibly fathom saying, a single, "Mercy—" escapes from you, before your lover stops Her teasing.Eyes flitting up to yours, Mercy insists, "I am always with you."You nod, as She earnestly leans up, and pecks you again on the lips. Almost through the motion, Her lips flit across yours, as She lingers, and murmurs, "for everything you have accomplished, everything you are. Everything you hope to be. Mo words could hope to express the extent of Our love for you. I cannot fathom how to demonstrate it."Every trace of your own doubt and concern completely melts from Her touch. It's all you can do, to murmur in return, "it feels like you already have.">A] Kiss Her once more, before releasing the invocation. There's nothing more that needs to be said.>B] Thank Her for everything. It feels like you can never show your appreciation enough.>C] Simply tell Her that you love Her, too, before going about your day. She knows how much you care.>D] Write-in.
>>4273871>A] Kiss Her once more, before releasing the invocation. There's nothing more that needs to be said.
>>4273871>>C] Simply tell Her that you love Her, too, before going about your day. She knows how much you care.
>>4273880>>4273883(Tied? Good. Vote is locked. Writing now.)
>>4274040https://youtu.be/flMl5iocfcQThere's nothing more that needs to be said. As you slip your hands down Mercy's back, resting them on Her hips, and pulling Her closer to your side, you have to lean in. An inch from Her lips, you say it anyways. "I love you."In unison, eyes shut, pained and desperate for another moment together, you meet for one last kiss under the morning sun. She's feverish, and matches every intense motion of your lips and tongue. Slender fingers of sunlight and devotion run through your hair, pulling you in closer. You devour each other, as She desperately tries to speak through your contact. "I love you, too."It hurts too much to say another word. She's your sunlight, and your rain. The fire between you could not rage any brighter, but the sun in the sky will not persist forever.You think of Time, and the children you've kept waiting for so many needless months. Of their suffering. Their need. Your mission, and every promise you've failed to keep.With a softer peck, a press on Mercy's cheek, and a ragged breath, you knit your eyes shut. The morning breeze and birds in the distance might as well be a dirge, as you release your invocation, and try to not collapse in on yourself.The room is empty, save for you, and your dog sleeping on a nearby rug.You've never felt better, or worse. There's a weakness cloying at your heart, of a lover who you need by your side. A streak of gold persists on your cheek, your lips, and all along the side of your neck. You look to the substance, after dragging a hand wordlessly along your own skin, and make a fist.There's a strength in you, knowing full well that you are never alone. You're determined, beyond all reason, word, or prayer. You have a mission to complete, lives to save, and a country who will look to you as the only evidence of Mercy in the world.As the Father of your church, your work has only just begun.(END THREAD.)
>>4274075Archive (feel free to give us a +1 if you liked the thread!): http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Catalyst%20QuestDiscord (Art, a giant music playlist, fan projects, etc.): https://discord.gg/24cmNWpFather Anscham's Journal (High-res calendar, maps, info on demons you've faced, and much more!): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1r-yFdCSj0VJi63LsD3Vl9T0DWw4us6wn?usp=sharingI am calling this here since we're falling fast off page 7 and at a good stopping point.I am currently in the middle of a long weekend, and can basically start the next thread as soon as I'm finished writing the OP. I'd love to know if there's enough interest to launch straight into thread #15 (can't believe we've been running this long), but feel free to let me know if anyone would prefer anything else!Additionally, if you guys have any feedback, concerns, comments, or just want to say anything, I am all ears. Can't run this crazy show without all your support and it means the world to me. Thank you guys so much for an amazing thread.
>>4274153>>4274153>>4274153To hell with it, we're going live! Thread #15 is up and running.