A bit more than sixteen years ago, in the Empire’s Old Hinterlands: Your name is Odovacar, and it seems that you are not sure about anything anymore. For a start, you are not sure what is wrong with you. A fortnight ago, your Socket just … failed. You were checked before returning to the Full Brother’s dormitory, and things went exactly like they had since you had the Socket installed. It worked fine as a replacement for the eye that was pulled to make room for it, but when it came to interfacing with the testing equipment – or a Spot-Dosimeter for that matter – the results were erratic, to the point that they were not reliable. As you had been dozens of times before, you were scheduled for a quick recalibration, right before morning prayers. After arranging to be woken up early so you had enough time, you went to bed. And when you woke up, the dammed thing was dead.You could not see out of it, and when they hooked you up to the testing equipment just to make sure, they could not get any readings. Complete failure like that is uncommon, but even odder is that your graft – the remains of your left optical nerve, which connects and interfaces the Socket and your brain -showed no signs of rejection. Even still, the Ophthalmos was worried that there had been a breach in the shielding, and you might have been dangerously contaminated by the Strangeness from the Socket’s death. But after being checked, you were found to be well within the range of Strangeness considered acceptable for a Dosimetrist.In the end, they pulled the corpse of the Socket, and sent it away for testing. Two days later, you were summoned back to the Operating Theatre, and a larger, higher resolution Socket was installed in your left eye socket. Now, it always takes time for a body to get used to a Socket, and vice-versa, but it has been whole weeks, and your readings with this one is as erratic as they were with the last.To make matters worse, you started getting pins and needles in your feet and occasionally in your hands, which you know to be a symptom of lead poisoning. You reported it, and your direct superiors and the Ophthalmos were … sympathetic, but ultimately, they have not done anything about it. You should not be too surprised about that, lead poisoning sort of comes with the territory. It is not called the ‘Inquisitors Illness’ without good cause, after all. There have been headaches as well, but you decided against mentioning them. They are still fussing over you, trying to figure out why you cannot get proper readings with the new equipment. After a lot of back and forth – most of which you have privy to – all they have decided is to send you to a specialist Ophthalmos, apparently the same man they sent your dead Socket to.There is something else on your mind, however. Something weighing much heavier than the pound and a half of hermaphrodite where your left eye used to be. Aborgast’s maid, Amalasuintha.
You have nothing definite to go off of, but … as insane as it sounds, you are worried that she might be Witch. But knowing full well what would happen to her, you cannot bring yourself to share any of these suspicions with anyone.You want her. That is what it boils down to. Now, setting aside the possibility that she might not want you, once you tell her that you are not a Journeyman Glasser named Antono, but a Full Brother Dosimetrist named Odovacer, the odds are quite long that you would be allowed to have her. The greybeards and the whitebeards generally are hesitant to allow Dosimetrists to marry, out of concerns for the bride, and potential children they have being exposed to Strangeness. And as a rule, they are also hesitant to allow any Brother to marry a woman they met on an assignment. Still, they might relent on those points … so long as her spiritual cleanliness was never in doubt, and the Inquisition never seriously considered her to be a potential Witch, or a thrall of a Witch. Obviously, it is that second point that is the issue here. Your ‘evidence’, such as it is, is so circumstantial it might as well be moonbeams – but if you were to report it and your suspicions, those long odds will become impossible odds.The evidence is so circumstantial in fact, that you feel half a fool even thinking seriously about them. It is odd, perhaps even inexplicable that a girl as beautiful as her is serving as a maid to some patented Citizen instead of either looking for a suitor to court her or a much more prestigious Master and Mistress to serve. You have seen pretty girls – merely pretty girls – getting married to the third and fourth sons of Citizens … or entering into the service of some princeling, if for whatever reason, marriage was a priority. The other questionable point, which you only became aware of when you first pulled her out of her clothes, is that she shaves her body – all over. To be sure, that is something that Witches do. Their hair, like the rest of their bodies, has magical properties, and can be used as raw material for certain spells. And shaving also has the additional benefit of allowing them to check themselves more thoroughly than they would be able if portions of their body were obfuscated by hair. That point is a little more damning than simply being too beautiful for her current station, but it does it really warrant suspicion? Whores shave, but that does not make a brothel into a Coven.Not for the first time, you wonder if she had been a whore. As unfortunate as it might be, it would explain away both of the oddities nicely. And it is not like … she is physically clean, and more than that, she is beautiful. So long as she keeps her past behind her, and she can stay devoted to you, then you would be as mad as a Stranger to turn your nose up at her.But … while she did not bleed the first time you coupled with her, she did not screw like the whores you have known either.
Pah! Whatever she may be or have been, at the moment, it is immaterial, as you are not in any danger from her or the rest of the household. You would stake your life on it. Hell, you are staking your life on it. You should be more worried about your Socket. What little information you have on this treatment you are heading off to is not encouraging. A few days, a week at most … somewhere else. That kind of secrecy is not unusual in the Inquisition, but that does not mean that you have to be happy about it. Anyway, the whole reason you have been instructed to bay Arbogast a visit today is to explain your absence, and to make the arrangement for another half-short ton of lead you have bought off of him to be delivered to ‘your’ workshop. In actuality, you are going there to continue investigating his household … and if possible, to mount his maid. Time passes quickly, and before you know it, a certain Journeyman Glasser is rapping the knocker on the door of a certain four-story domicile. As you wait for a response from a certain maid, you continue to fret while feeling like a fool for fretting at the same time. Because you have not reported your suspicions – baseless as they are – your superiors have been reducing the backup that you have been allotted each time. Today, there are only a half-dozen Half Brothers in the graveyard across the street and a single Lamp-and-Flag to coordinate. And while you have your typical kit, the chapterhouse has decided to stop equipping you with the needle-dagger, for fear of it being damaged or discovered. On one hand, this is good for you, as it makes it easier for you to conduct your trysts. But, on the other hand … if it turns out that Amalasuintha is actually a Witch …You rock back and forth on your heels while you wait and wonder if you have been making terrible mistake after terrible mistake. Not about Amalasuintha … well, not just about Amalasuintha. About becoming a Dosimetrist. Nearly all of the Brothers that have been made whole in Moevia for the past two years have been seen East or South. And after that miserable deployment in Nauretania, you have no desire to leave the Empire – especially with rumors of a potential war brewing. The life expectancy of a dosimetrist might be shorter than that of an average man, but it seems to you that it would be much longer than an Inquisitor charged with destroying a Pygmy Dragon or a Djinn. And for those who were sent after ‘Cultists’, who were just …. No, you are not going to think about that anymore. Shaving years off of your life certainly was not the easiest decision that you have ever made … but it seemed sensible at the time. Now … now your head aches. You are not sure if that is just nerves, or if it more evidence of lead poisoning. Maybe if you try to stop worrying, it will go away? Worth a shot. You rap the doorknocker again, harder this time.
It is not like you could change your mind now. In the process of being made whole, being inducted as Full Brother, you gave up your eye – so in a physical sense, you are no longer whole. You are no longer fit for any sort of proper duty, unless you are hooked up to a Socket. And now it seems that you are somehow incompatible with Sockets. So where does that leave you exactly? If this one dies on you like the last, how many more times before they just write you off?You would not be turned out on to the streets, of course, but that does not mean that you are excited about your prospects. Those who have been crippled in the service – and you suppose that would include you – as well as those who are too old to go on Hunts, have some manner of work found for them. In many cases, this is a promotion to a leadership position, but you are much too young to be considered for a post like that, unless it was in a chapterhouse outside of the Empire – which if it was not Nauretania it would probably be just like it. So if leadership is off of the table, then that means a teaching position somewhere – but setting aside that you know for a fact that you do not have the disposition for teaching, you have next to no experience as a Dosimetrist. Maybe you could teach Acolytes and Half Brothers … well, uh … climbing? Stealing?Your snort of nervous laughter sounds like a sneeze. Still, it is a pretty funny thought. You could teach the children how to mug Witches. Turn the lot of them into a gang of little rakes.Really though, if this Socket fails like the last – and the ones that replace it all fail as well, you will probably be released from the Inquisition, and retrained to serve elsewhere in the Faith. But the idea of spending the rest of your life – assuming your health does not go to shit as well – as a Velchanos in a temple smithy or an Undertaker or something … maybe you could see yourself doing that. But you cannot see yourself being happy with that. And that only happens assuming that you are still clean and somewhat sound of body when you are retried. Pattern’s Perdition, if this Socket dies on you as well, who is to say that the shielding holds like last time? Who is to say that the graft will not eventually get rejected, and you get sepsis without anyone noticing? Becoming a Full Brother was supposed to open doors for you – instead, it opened pits. You are not sure if you are in the one with the flames, or the one with spikes, but … Shutters overhead open, and a voice calls out to you. “Good morning, Journeyman Antono. Are you here to see the master?” “Why my dear, who else could I possibly be here to see?” Oddly enough, Amalasuintha does not smile at that as you thought she would. “The master has just stepped out, I am afraid. I would let you in to wait for him, but he has decided to paint the stairs. I cannot come down at the moment. If you would like, you may let yourself in.”
Suppressing a chuckle at the absurdity, you try the handle, to find it unlocked, just as she said it would be. And just like she said, the flight of stairs has been freshly painted – a brilliant white – thoroughly at odds with the relative darkness of the rest of the foyer. You close the front door behind you, and walk to the bottom of the stairs, arriving just before Amalasuintha arrives at the top. Even though the smell of paint is quite strong, all of the windows on the first floor are closed and shuttered, as they always are. Obviously, that is odd, but you have spent a great deal of time in the foyer, and you could never find any reason to assume that it was because of something Strange or magical. And right now, you are much more concerned about Amalasuintha than the fraying foyer.“Amalasuintha, my dear, it seems to me that speaking like this is somewhat indiscrete, if not bordering on impolite. To avoid any indecency, why don’t you straddle the balustrade and slide down?” Pushing the joke even further, you stand legs apart, with your more-than-slightly turgid fundamental right in front of the newel.“Do not fret! I’ll stop you.”She chuckles along with you at that one, and with something else in the air beside the smell of paint, you can feel your worries and fears slip out of focus.“Oh, but I’d be worried about my clothes, sir. The master paid good money for them.”“No help for it, you must … denude yourself. Nonetheless, I promise that I will not spy on you for the duration of our conversation.”You raise your forearms to your eyes, but you deliberately have it so that your right eye – your real eye – is comically visible. She laughs at that, and soon you are laughing as well. With an unusually rakish smile for a woman, she raises her hands to the clasp of her dress, and begins loosening it with those beautiful, slender fingers of hers.Your head throbs – unfortunately, the one on your shoulders. As you grimace the pain away, you cannot help but recall that unnatural size is evidence of the Strangeness. Of course, as with everything else you have been working yourself up over, it is just circumstantial. She is tall for a woman, and she has relatively long fingers. That does not make her a Witch. By the same coin, you are tall for a man, and you have relatively long fingers too. It does not mean anything. On top of that, you have ‘denuded’ her several times, and you have never seen anything else that could be caused by the Strangeness, like moles, warts, or spots, or anything more damning, like anything that could be a concealed scarification glyph. Which, if she was a Witch, she would need to conceal her blank, soulless eyes, right? So, there is no … well … actually, if you are being honest, your attention during those times has been given over wholly to a few key spots. It is it truly out of the realm of possibility that the something small could have been concealed from you?
You are not sure. But you do know that there is a surefire way to defeat a glyph like that – without even knowing where it is. All you need to do is disrupt the glamor that it produces, by pushing a finger through the spell’s envelope. It is not recommended, of course, considering that if the subject of investigation is a Witch, you are too close to them to respond if they attack you – and that is not even considering the risk of getting dosed with the Strangeness from breaking the spell. There are much safer ways – but all of those require equipment and other men to work. If you wanted to know for certain if she was a Witch or not, then the only way – besides doing something equal parts insane and assine, like stabbing her with one of your leaded knives – would be to manually test her eyes.Making a split-second decision, you resolve to put your doubts behind you once and for all. As soon as you get your hands on her, you will test her eyes – and then that will be at least one thing you can stop worrying about. The whole thing is ridiculous. It is obvious that the only reason you are worrying that she is a Witch is because you have been sent here to find Witches. If you have a hammer –You realize with a start that Amalasuntha is still dressed. Her hands have barely moved from where they were when she started on the clasp. Oddly enough, she looks uncomfortable, anxious.“Antono?”“Yes …?”“I’m late.”“For what?”She stares as you, and licks her lips, clearly trying to formulate a response … though to your credit, you figure it out before she has to spell it out for you. Your head is throbbing again, and this time, you are fairly certain that it is not the Socket – or the paint fumes. She must have seen the realization dawn on your face, because before you can say anything, she launches into an apology. “I thought– Pattern’s Perdition, I am so sorry. I had no idea that … it should never have happened.” She rambles a bit more, repeating herself over and over. While she does, you take stock of this … unexpected development. Setting aside your concerns about you, and your fears about her, this is … good. This is very good. It actually solves some of your problems for you. If Amalasuintha is carrying your child, then it is much more likely that she would be willing to marry you, even after you reveal that you have been lying to her all of this time. And, on the other end, the old goat would be much more likely to write off on you getting married if it was for the sake of an unborn child, though you would probably be hearing about it for the rest of his natural life.Whatever happens, you will never need to be alone again. At that blissful thought, you smile broadly up at her. But she does not notice, she is still going in circles. It is alright though; you can wait for her to work it out. It is no good to keep a woman bottled up – that is how you get hysterical shrews.
As you wait for her to calm down, you realize that you are planning on sharing your life with a woman who you are not completely certain is not a Witch. And then you realize something shocking … you really do not care that much. She – and Arbogast’s wife, if she is a Witch as well – are not doing anything dangerous. As far as you can tell, she is not even doing magic. She is just here in the city, living her life, one day at a time. Like you. Exactly like you.Strangers need to be put down, as they are fundamentally dangerous. Magical artifacts and texts should be gathered and if necessary, destroyed, lest they fall into the hands of the heedless or the unscrupulous. Witches who are terrorizing the countryside, or stealing babies for raw materials, or plotting to undermine lawful Civil authority or whatever, they should be sought out and destroyed as well. But if someone … just happens to be born magical, someone who is so stable that they only potential evidence of their Strangeness is their size, and is so discrete that the only potential evidence of her magicking is her fraying grooming preferences, then you see no reason at all why she needs to be destroyed. Especially if that person was someone’s best chance to have a wife. A beautiful, loving wife.There is no reason to it. It is just dogma. Pure, assine dogma. You had your fill of that shit back in Nauretania. You lost two miserable years of your life to it. You lost your oldest friend to it. You lost track of how many times you nearly lost your life to it. If it was not for the debt you owed the old goat, you probably would have deserted – that and you needed the Inquisition to get you back to the Empire. Regardless, you given the Inquisition so much. And you will continue to. Just ... not her. “Listen, I don’t want you to do … anything drastic, alright? I have money set aside – it is not a fortune, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is enough. I’ll speak with Arbogast as soon as he gets back, and I’ll buy out your contract. I’ll need some time to get my affairs in order, but … we can do the right thing here. For us, and the child.”For someone who prides themselves on being so glib, somehow you have managed to forget the word ‘marriage’ in your marriage proposal. Your head. If your damned head could just stop pounding for one fraying second, you would be able to speak your mind properly. Thankfully, Amalasuintha is a smart girl. She has figured out what you were getting at, but instead of being relieved, she now looks like she is on the verge of tears. Not happy tears, mind you. Eventually, she pulls herself together enough to explain.“This … this is … I’ve been here before. Last time, things got – they got rough. It … didn’t work. I didn’t work.”She noticeably swallows as she watches you process this information.“I was told that … I was not going to be able to … bear. At all.”
Well, if that is it, then it is immaterial. Having a baby would be nice – the best dormitories are reserved for those with young children, after all – and losing an unborn child would be unfortunate, as you can see that it would seriously upset her. But the child is ultimately just a means to the end, namely, you marrying Amalasuintha. Beyond that, it is not really necessary. Of course, you just need to figure out someway to communicate that in a more … flowery manner.“Miracles can happen. Apparently, one already has. And if there is not another one … listen, I – I’m not an orphan, but I spent some time in an orphanage growing up. If it should come to pass that such a thing became necessary, I would be more than willing to adopt.”Heights of Hell, why would you possibly bring that up? Apprenticeship is expensive and exclusive – it not something that an orphan or the orphan-adjacent would ever be able to achieve. Thankfully, your new fiancé seems so overwhelmed with emotion that she has not noticed a crack in Antono’s backstory. Push past it!“Whatever it takes to make it work – then that is what I will do. I love you, Amalasuintha.”And it is true. You do love her. You want her for the rest of your life, the prospect of her being upset is upsetting to you, and you really do not care if she a Witch … so long as she does not endanger your person or your standing.Of course, if she is in fact a Witch, then that would make remaining with the Inquisition untenable. Which is … well, you swore an oath or two, but more than that, there are Brothers in the Inquisition that you owe great debts to – chief among them that old goat, your Abbot. If you were to just abandon ship like that, you would be forgoing any chance of ever repaying them.But, on the other hand … assuming that whatever issue you have is not resolved by the specialist Ophthalmos who you are being sent to, it seems that for whatever reason, you are not cut out to be a Dosimetrist. And without a Socket, you are not whole, and therefore not eligible to be a Brother. You do not even have the temperament for teaching, let alone any real knowledge worth imparting. It seems that you are destined to be forced out of the Inquisition anyway, leaving those debts unpaid. So why shouldn’t you leave on your own terms before your body is completely ruined? While you still have some time good years left? Because you will be Attainted and declared an outlaw? That is not a pleasant prospect either. You would be hard pressed to say which is worse, but … in the end, you have a choice, so long as your fiancé does not turn out to be a Witch. Which begs the question, how is she taking this? As you might have expected, she is crying. You are about to start climbing your way up to her on the balustrade, so you can comfort her, then lead her to a piece of furniture that is sufficiently tall enough to properly bend her over when she finally regains her composure.
“Antono, I … oh, Maker’s Mercy. We have been dancing around one another for so long now. We are almost in each other’s arms, but the music has just stopped, and we are not quite there. It seems of us is going to have to take a leap.” “I hope you are speaking metaphorically, dear. Regardless, there is no need for any leaping. I’m on way up.” She is a Witch, isn’t she? That has to be it. She already told you that she had already been gotten pregnant by another man and that she was presumably infertile after losing that pregnancy. What other revelation could there possibly be? You mount the balustrade yourself and begin inching your way upward. You hope the thought behind the gesture is more impressive then how absolutely ridiculous you must look right now. She paces on the landing as you make your way up, but instead of waiting for you to dismount the stairs, as soon as you draw near, she can take it no more, and blurts at you as you try to overcome the gooseneck. “My love, you’re a Witch.” “I had figured as much. No worries I … I – I beg your pardon?” “There is a Perimeter placed on this building. It senses all unshielded magical implements that pass it boundaries. The moment you walked through, it Saw your Socket. If you have felt lightheaded, or distracted, or if you had headaches while you were here, that was the Perimeter Seeing your Socket.” You are just hanging on the balustrade, gawking at her stupidly. So not only is she a Witch after all, but she also knows that you are a Dosimetrist. And you are … you are … She can clearly see that you are shocked by this revelation. You can tell by her tone that she is upset, remorseful that she has to explain it like this– no doubt she intended to deal with this better, or at least differently, but the unexpected quickening and your proposal forced her hand. Still though, for a Witch to admit to someone they know is an Inquisitor that they are a Witch … she really does love you, doesn’t she? You laugh, partly in incredulity and partly in relief. Amalasuintha gets really nervous, presumably misinterpreting your response and starts explaining everything even faster. “It registered that the Socket was malfunctioning, in a way that an implant might if it had been made for a mundane man or woman, but it had been installed in someone with stability – in other words, someone who had at least latent magical ability.” She is a Witch. More than that, she is clearly trained – otherwise she would have lasted this long. Now, it is one thing to say that you would not care if your woman turned out to be a Witch in the face of some vague, nagging fear, but it is something else entirely to know and not care. And not say something. But she thinks you are Witch too. What if is she is lying? Trying to get you to lower your guard … or something. Or what if she is mistaken? Where the Hell would that leave the two of you? What if –
She loves you. That is the important part. Someone loves you. It is not just a matter of being wanted, or someone wanting something from you, she actually loves you. She is willing to throw everything to the wind for you. How the Hell else are you supposed to look at this? If she knows you are a Full Brother, then that means she knows that you are not alone. What if you rejected her, and tried to signal for assistance? What if you just pretended to go along with this? Either way, if you did what you were supp – what you were expected to do, then the entirety of the Moevia Chapterhouse would be after her.She has to actually love you. There is no other explanation. And with that beautiful thought, all of the tension just slides out of your body. You relax … and start to slide down the railing. Startled, you catch yourself. Nervous laughter bubbles out of you, as Amalasuintha looks at you with wide eyes. You should say something to reassure her, but before you can think of anything, you wide up blurting out a question instead. “Are you saying … that me, apparently having some ability … and therefore able to dissipate the Strangeness better than normal … that is what killed the Socket?” “Yes – indirectly. The socket is designed around an assumption of a standard dissipation rate for a fully grown man, in decent health. But as you dissipate Strangeness at a much faster rate … there is a lot of theory behind it, but basically, the Socket just gets ‘backed up’ with Strangeness in a way that would inevitably ruin readings, make it impossible to calibrate, and potentially, over time, completely ruin it. Which is what I am assuming happened, because when I checked, the Perimeter was Seeing a new Socket today. It is a lot to take in, and odds are you are going to forget most of her explanation, but you suppose that does not matter. “Huh.”As you lamely cling to the balustrade, it occurs to you that even if she does love you – and she does, clearly – she must be confident that if you were to rebuke her advances in anyway, she could deal with you. Overpower you. It is an odd, disconcerting thought, but that too does not mater, as you do in fact love her. Still, you should probably communicate that to her somehow, before she thinks that you are refusing her. You are … it is just that for once in your life, you do not know what to say. So instead, you just mindlessly continue the conversation. “Well … I am obliged to you for clearing that up. Actually, that explains some other things too.” She still looks agitated. Clearly, she did not expect you to just keep on this topic, but regardless, she humors you.“Oh?” “I never had issues with the Strangeness, at least, not to the extent that the others in the same Hunt did. I – and everyone else – just chalked it up to me being a combination of careful and lucky, but this makes much more sense.”
“Especially … there was this time, back before I was made whole – er, when I was a Half-Brother, a Cleanser, that I was convinced that my luck had run out, that I had become seriously, dangerously Strange. Enough to warrant curative custody in an Asylum. I … I was scared. So scared, in fact, that I basically hid from the Hunt’s Dosimetrists, in the hopes that when they did scan me, I would come up clean enough that I could get away with just being Mitigated. Just Mitigation!” “But when I finally did end up getting looked at, I was almost completely clean. Clean enough that they just had kept me under observation, to let me sleep it off. I could not understand it – I was certain that I had been dosed big and dosed hard. But I was not going to tell them that I thought that I needed to be sent away, or Mitigated. I guess I just … figured that I was mistaken. It was pretty easy to talk myself out of it – after, all I wanted to be wrong. Not to mention, that there was no one else with me, when I got exposed, so there was no one to compare to. And over the course of the next couple of days, when no symptoms of a dangerous dose of Strangeness manifested, I took that to be proof positive that I had been mistaken. Still, the whole thing always rubbed me the wrong way – I guess I knew that I had been Strange, even if I was not when I finally got tested. It is funny, I suppose … but it seems like latent magic ability is a very useful thing for man of the Inquisition to have huh? “To be sure. But you have more than just latent magical ability. I didn’t know for sure until the first time we touched – it was the first time that you came here, as I was seeing you out of the sitting room – but since then, I am certain of it. You might have a harder time of it, seeing as you are getting into it so late, but you should be able to cast your own spells.” Are you serious?” “Yes.”You would just let that sink in for a moment, but then you realize you are still on the fraying balustrade. You swing your feet out and get clear of the paint before slowly lowering yourself down on to the landing. As you get your feet underneath you, it occurs to just what this means. “Can you fly? Do you have a spell for that?”Once again, she looks confused and taken aback. Clearly, you are throwing her for a loop with all of these odd, unexpected questions. This question though, this question has teeth. While there is already an implicit understanding here that she is a Witch, the leap from there to admitting out loud – to an Inquisitor, no less – that you can cast spells must be hard to take, especially as you have to indicate that you still do not care, that you want her anyways. Your fiancé does not say anything – she just gives this trembling nod, her thin lips pursed tight to the point that they have practically disappeared.But she nods yes. And that is all that matters. “Can you teach me?”
She lights up like a beacon at that, and you find yourself beaming as well. You have never seen her look so beautiful as she does right now, right this second – and you have seen her naked. She throws herself at you with enough force that you actually almost lose your footing. But you recover, and more importantly, you keep your hold on her. “Birds of a feather should flock together, and you are the only Witch I know.” Heh, that almost sounds like a lyric. You squeeze her against your chest, sniffing the soapy-clean smell of her hair.“For that matter, you are the only Witch I love.” And you do love her. Even more now that she can teach you how to fly.Time passes pleasurably. But even in the afterglow of that passage, your mind somehow manages to turn back to magic. Amalasuintha explained, very patiently, that flight spells were simply too advanced and too dangerous to learn as your first. And when you countered that, by telling her to teach you any old spell then, she was still against it. However, exposed and vulnerable as she was in her current condition, it was a trifle to take her in hand, and make her relent. When she eventually returns with what equipment she will need for your instruction, she has regained much of her composure … though to your delight she has not taken the time to dress again. Your savoring of the sight though is cut short, when you are ordered to lie down on the floor. “What? Why?”“This ink, Skin-Scrivener’s Ink, stains – and by itself, it carries more than a trace of the Strangeness. As it would be a lot easier to replace floorboards than an entire couch …” She gestures at the floor once more, and eager to get this started, you lie down, as she instructed. Soon she is bending over you, painting something on your chest that you realize must be a glyph. Between your excitement at the prospect of learn and your excitement at the sight of her fundamentals looming over you, it takes you a moment to process that you are willingly being exposed to Strangeness. At this point, you trust her completely, of course … but if someone had told you this morning that you would subject yourself to the Strangeness, you would have never believed them. More than that, you would have knocked their head off – that kind of talk is dangerous, especially for a relatively untried Inquisitor. But here you are. It is not so much that today is the first day of the rest of your life, but rather that today is the first day of your new life. A much better one than your last. Suddenly, your fiancé starts talking – no doubt she was distracted by her own thoughts as well.
“So, this is a modified version of one the first glyphs that I was taught, and for good reason. It is simple enough that you almost have to deliberately try to get it wrong, and even if you did, I can’t see how it could hurt anyone or anything. For you, it is a little more complicated, on account of the Socket – well, actually, it is more complicated because the spell is designed for someone with two eyes. The limitation that I am putting it should make it work for someone with an eye and a Socket, or someone with just one eye. Complexity aside however, if the limit is scrivened properly, it should make the glyph more powerful than the baseline.”“But what will this one do, though?”“Oh, this will allow you to see through things. It is called Permeating-Gaze. So … as I said, this glyph has a limiting clause, but besides that, this is as basic as they come. The Ink too, this is standard Ink – practically, that means that once completed, it will work until it dries, so suffice to say, you have limited time to actually use the spell. If you do not actually use the glyph, the ink will dry in anywhere between six and eight hours. If you use the thing, that will produce heat – unless, of course, you have written a cooling clause, but that would not be cost-effective at this level – and the Ink will dry faster, depending on just how much you use it.” “Now, about the Ink – you can dilute it, in such as way that it will remain wet for longer, it becomes cheaper to make, or even both – but doing so will hobble the glyph. You could try to make up the difference, by scrivening more clauses on the glyph to strengthen it, but in the end, you would wind up use more material than you would if the ink was not diluted in the first place. Contrarily, Ink can be concentrated, in such a manner that the glyph is strengthened, but doing this is complicated and materially expensive, especially if you are trying to do it in a way that does not make the Ink dry quicker. Depending on this situation, it might be better to improve the performance of the glyph through clauses as opposed to condensing the Ink. It is really case-by-case.” “There are some basic glyphs that can continue to run, even after the Ink has dried – such glyphs are called dry-running – but they need to be scrivened in dry-running ink for that to happen, and dry-running Ink is more materially expensive than wet-running ink, and it is not as powerful, either.” She makes a few more strokes on your chest with her brush. Feeling the cold, slick weight of it pressed into your chest is … odd. Odd enough that you have to suppress a shudder. Odder still is that the first portions of the glyph are no longer cold – instead, they are noticeably warmer than the rest of your body. “Now, before we go any further, you must remember this – if a glyph gets smudged or damaged, you must never use it."
“Best case scenario, it simply does not work. Worst case scenario … well, suffice to say, it can get really, really messy. Also, at some point, you are going to have to start shaving your body hair off. You do not have a lot of open space to work with. Just … the important thing to remember here is that it is not safe to cover up Inked glyphs. If you cannot see them, then you have no way of knowing if something got messed up or not. Only ever use them on skin that you are going to keep exposed, like your face or hands – and even then, you should also apply anti-perspiration cream, and stay clear of any and all water.” “There are ways to make the glyphs more permanent, but they come with their own drawbacks. You can tattoo the Ink under your skin, to protect it against getting ruined, but the Ink only carries so much power. For some of the more intensive spells, you can use it up really quickly, and all you are left with is Strangeness trapped underneath your skin – it makes you more susceptible to Mitigation spells, not to mention the health risks. And of course, if anyone were to see them, then it would be obvious that you were a Witch. The other permanent alternative is to scarify the glyph into your body, and while this can be done deep enough that it conceals them from search, the Strangeness becomes even more of an issue with these.”“With Inked glyphs, the Strangeness is produced on the Ink, and will only enter your body if the Ink gets to a point where it becomes communicably Strange. With scarification glyphs, the Strangeness is produced on the scars … which is you, you know, your body. Your blood will sop it up, and hold it, which again, makes you more susceptible to Mitigation spells. And on top of that … the Inked glyphs draw power from the Ink, but the scarification glyphs pull their power directly from yourself, effectively shortening your lifespan. Scarification glyphs can be just as powerful as Inked glyphs, but for that reason, they typically are not scrivened as strong.”“Wait … as I have not seen any glyphs on you during … what I mean is, would I be correct in assuming that the glyph that you have been using to hide the true condition of your eyes is a scarification glyph?” “Yes, that is right.” “Well then turn the damned thing off! What reason is there to shorten your life like that, now?” “Oh … okay.”It is uncanny, really. One second her eyes were … normal, but the next … “I really do not even think about it anymore. The rate of the glyph that I have is pretty good, almost half a second of Hide-Eyes for a full second of life.” “Pretty good?! That is terrible! Horrible!” “I have made my peace with it. Just as you will, in time. Besides, if I did not hide my eyes, then I would end up losing a lot more of my life than just seconds.”
You do not want to think about the role you have played in making that a reality. And more than that, you do not want to think of this beautiful woman – your woman – withering away before her time. So instead, you push those thoughts away and ask another question.“How long will it take for my eyes to … become like yours?” “Depends on how much magic you cast. If you just use this glyph once or twice today, then it should be several months before they begin to fade. It is moot point though; we both should have left Moevia long before it gets to that point. Tell me, how thoroughly did you describe me to your superiors in your reports?” “Not particularly. Tall, dark hair, fair skinned. Comely.” “Comely, hm?”She snorts as femininely as one could possibly snort, with a bemused smile on her face. But the smile slips away shortly, as she gets right back to business.“Now this is important. Did you specify how tall I was – quantitatively? Or did anyone else see me, so they could compare my height to yours?” You take several moments, but after racking your brain, you are certain that you did not. You tell her as much.“All well and good then. I have someone in mind who fits the description you have given those – er, your former employers. Anyway, I’ll get them over here as soon as I can to replace me. But before you leave here today, we should have a plan on how you are going to go get away and stay away from the Inquisition. To that end, I have a few ideas as well …”
Presently, on Olier’s Wharf in Scrimshander Mount: Your name is Chlotsuintha, and right now, even though you are in a lifting oil Refinery that is in the process of burning down – or in certain places, exploding – you cannot help but smile. You have unexpectedly managed to find the payroll for the entire operation, tucked into the tight little shelves of a steel strongbox. In purses, all made of the same decent leather as the one that you swiped off of the body you picked clean just minutes ago. The sound of wood cracking somewhere nearby snaps you out of your avarice-induced reverie, and you actually physically lunge at the open safe, plucking out purses with both hands until there is nothing left in the safe but loose papers and receipts. You carry the lot of them over to the desks, cradled in your arms, grinning all the while. And you grin grows even more broad when you hear the sweet clinking thud that they all make when you drop them down on the lacquered wood surface. Moving quickly, you unsling your dress from over your shoulder, untie it, and then loosen the belt that you sinched it shut with. Suppressing the urge to cackle, you shove the purses inside, then bolt over to the other strongbox, on the other side of the room. You start with the key that opened the other strongbox, and no surprise … it opens this one as well. Unfortunately, this one does not have payroll purses inside, just binders that have CONTROLLED stamped on their spines, along with the year. The records here just go back three years. If you had to guess, any older records would probably be taken by the Imperial Arms and kept in some secret reference library somewhere. Or maybe they would just be destroyed. On a whim, you pull one out and flip through it, but you can barely make heads or tails of what you are reading. You are not sure if it is some sort of shorthand, or if it is actually a cypher, but either way, you can think of no way that you would profit by taking these books. Before closing the ‘box, though, you pull several more of them out at random, to make sure that there is nothing else hidden behind them. Satisfied, you start to walk away from the box, only to stop, as soon as you notice the vicious looking pistol – a duckfoot – nestled in a specially modified holster, on a belt hanging from a peg. You do not even really think about it, you just grab the thing, and start adjusting the belt and holster so it sits as comfortably as such a cumbersome contraption can sit on your hips. Oddly, the powderhorn, shot and the loading equipment for the pistol are nowhere to be found in the room, even after you take the time to rifle through both of the desks and some free-standing cabinets. That is not to say that it is time wasted – just the opposite. At first glance, all of the books in the room were just accounting ledgers, like the ones that were in second strongbox, but you found some more interesting tomes mixed in here and there.
The first one that you turned up is The Oiler’s Abyssal Bestiary. While it may be written ‘vulgar’ in the Reichtongue, from your cursory skimming it does seem that this is not just a book for idle reading. The engravings in the text, which depict the fearsome denizens of the deep from whom Oilers harvest Ichor from, seem to be striving for complete anatomical accuracy – as opposed to some of the more fanciful renditions of these beasts that are traditionally drawn in the voids of Mare Incognitum. Beyond simple interest in a topic that you know practically nothing about, you feel almost obligated to steal this book as a Witchlet. As these beasts carry Ichor in their veins, they are considered magical. And while no modern book – especially one that had been print-published – would ever go into detail about the specific magical properties of these animals, perhaps you can glean something by reading in between the lines. Obviously, your interest is academic, as you have no interest in actually going after any of these creatures – but with any knowledge about magic so thoroughly suppressed, you feel … obligated to learn anything and everything you can. In that vein, there are two other books you found in your search of the room that touch upon magic: Fundamentals of Lifting Oil and On the Manufacture of Wandering Whistlers. Fundamentals is an honest and proper academic text, written in Lingua Roma, clearly geared towards a student of the instrumental sciences … but it just so happens that this particular branch of instrumental science is centered around understanding and working a magical substance. With that in mind, you are certain that you will be able to read in between the lines of this text too. For Wandering Whistlers however, there is no need to read in between any of the lines. The text is explicitly about how to make Whistlers, which are hermaphrodites, constructs that are part magical and part mechanical. Well … it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a hermaphrodite, as to the best of your understanding these weapons are almost entirely mechanical, as opposed to something like a Spot-Dosimeter, which is at least half magical. But Whistlers use lifting oil, and as lifting oil is magical, then it follows that they have to be hermaphrodites. And even if by some vagary of the definition, it does not qualify, then you could definitely design a hermaphrodite or construct using this text.Of course, there is a real distinction between being able to design something and having the skills and materials to actually weave it together. And that is assuming that nothing untoward happens to the Life-Loom during your escape. It is a distressing thought, but a salient point. With the situation in the Midden getting more … complicated, perhaps you should use whatever time you have left after securing the oil to start moving father’s equipment out of the Belfry.
After all, who knows how the Plotinus and the rest of the Guard is going to react when they find those – No, not now, damn it. Focus on what is in front of you, focus on the books. Making a split-second decision, you decide to take them. Now, obviously, books are too large to fit in your pocket-jerkin, or in any of the pockets in the clothes you pulled off of the dead Comptroller. Luckily enough, there is a satchel sitting right next to one of the desks that looks like it will fit them … though the strap is too small to fit you comfortably. You stuff Abyssal Bestiary, Fundamentals and another text, The Humors of Industries – which you think is a medical text of some sort – into the bag without another thought. But as you are about to do the same with Wandering Whistlers, you hesitate. Like the ledgers in the second strongbox, this is stamped CONTROLLED on the spine, and the Seal of the Imperial Armory is placed prominently on the cover. If at any point you are caught, and found in possession of this book, or any other Imperial property without the Emperor’s leave, then you will be sent up on a winch-gallows, after being worked over with a cat-o’-thirteen tails, the nastier, heavier brother of the cat-o’-nine tails, used exclusively by executioners on the condemned who require more punishment than their execution will provide. On the other hand … if anyone gets to the point where they find this book, odds are they would also find the Life-Loom and the rest of the magical equipment, which would be a death sentence of its own. One that would be much, much worse than being whipped and winched. Having resolved yourself, you slide Wandering Whistlers into your newly acquired satchel as well, then you pluck a few pieces of paper from it before latching the thing shut. After reading the papers to make sure that they are of no interest to you, you get the pocket lantern out, intending to use the integrated snap-sparker once again to light a fire to conceal your larceny. As you dip the papers in the fuel reservoir, you look around the room to make sure that there is nothing else that you missed. The only thing that jumps out at you is the great coat. Like the other clothes that you pulled off of the dead Comptroller, it looks like it is almost large enough to fit you – probably just a little bit short in the sleeves. While it might be the Growing Season, the days are starting to get longer, which in turn means that very soon, the nights are going to start to get noticeable colder. And as you do not know where you are going to be sleeping for the immediate future, it only makes sense to pinch the coat as well. After all, it is not like you can wear the Spotted Cloak once you leave the Mount without making your status as a runaway Leper blatantly obvious.
With all of the swag bulging in your dress that you have sinched shut and slung over your shoulder, and the new addition of the satchel over the other shoulder, the coat does not sit particularly comfortably, especially as it is just a little too short in the arms, as you expected. Still, you can move well enough in it … and it is free, so you really should not complain. Now certain that you have snagged everything of value from the Comptroller’s Station, you get busy with your pocket lantern. Whatever the Hell is in the lantern’s tank, it burns really well. In less than a minute, you have about a dozen fires set all over the room. Your work in here concluded, you head to the door opposite of the one that you came in through. To your surprise, the only thing on the other side of the door is the landing for a steep stair down. You consider locking the door behind you, but then you decide against it, as it was unlocked and unbar – oh, Pattern’s Perdition! The other door! The damned thing was unlocked. Feeling like such a fool, you wrench the door open and dash back into the room. Blessedly, the fires that you set are still too small to present a danger, though several of them have grown precipitously in the minute or so since you lit them. Once you have the door you first entered the room through unlocked and unbarred, you get the Hell out of that room. Closing the door behind you, you take the stairs down three at a time until you end up in another hallway. Like some of the others that you have been in, this one has supplies pushed up against its walls on both sides. But unlike those other ones, this one has pipes too – suspended overhead. In both directions. Suffice to say, you are not thrilled about the prospect of walking underneath pipes after what you saw happen in the tower, and down in the pit, but it appears that you are not going to have choice here. In both directions, the hallway runs straight, until it takes a sharp turn – beyond that, you cannot see anything. Desperate to get some clue as which way is the safer of the two, you walk out into the middle of the hall, and once more strain your ears. The sounds of explosions and equipment seems to have stopped while you were in the Comptroller’s Station, but you can definitely hear the crackling of distant fires, as well as a bit of groaning and creaking, with the occasional thump as something falls – sometimes accompanied by a little quaking underfoot if it was close. You hope you are wrong, but you fear that this Refinery is not going to be long for this world. Figuring that going left is just going to put you near places you have already been, you decide to go right, and get to jogging. The corner that you saw from the foot of the stairs turns out to be a dogleg – after passing through the pair of corners, you are once again in a long hallway, with supplies stacked high along the sides.
The lamps in this section of hall are out, and in what little light remains, you can see the slick sheen of oil pouring down from behind the light fixtures. In the distance, there is a hazy, orange light – quite obviously from a fire. Save for a moment where you damn near tripped over something in the darkness, your long legs make short work of the hall, and soon you find yourself approaching the open door of a room. The fire that you saw in the distance is inside, bathing you in orange light, but as you close the last of the distance, the smell of smoke becomes almost overwhelming, and you find yourself fighting the urge to cough. Peering into the room, you strain to see anything that might indicate that this is a dead end, that you have no choice but to turn back here. Unfortunately, you see nothing definitive – just the outline of equipment, dancing flames, and the thickening veil of smoke. So, it looks like you are going to have to make a decision here after all – do you risk attempting to navigate this room, or do you double back and hope that you were mistaken in your assessment about going left at the stair? It is not like you know with and real certainty that you are headed towards the lifting oil anyways … or that there is anything on the other side of this room. But if this room was just a dead end, then the smoke here in the hallway, it would be much worse, right? And have there been any rooms that were just complete dead ends? You rack your tired, stressed brain, but you cannot think of any. Even the Comptroller’s Station had two ways in and out. In a situation like this, you have to trust your instincts. Which in this case means that you are going to have to cross this smoke-choked room. You back up a bit, to where the air is a little fresher, and you start breathing deeply, in and out, trying to get your lungs ready to hold as much air as they possibly can. While you do this, you decide to light your pocket lantern, on the off chance that once you get on the other side of the fire, it is not putting off enough light for you to see where the Hell you are going. While you are doing this, you decide how you are going to approach this. Trying to sprint through that mess seems needlessly risky, and it would use up your air quickly, but just walking through there would be the other side of the same stupid coin. Long strides, at a brisk pace – a shuffling jog, that is probably your best bet. And keep close to the fire. As dangerous as it may be, it would be much less safe to try to move around the perimeter of the room, which would logically take longer, and have more opportunities for you to get turned around. You offer up a quick prayer for strength in the face of adversity, then you take three deep breaths, one right after another.
Ready as you are ever going to be, you take one last great gulp of air, and then you stride into the room, keeping a measured pace with long strides – but not too long that you seriously risk tripping over or walking into something unseen. The smoke is not to bad, at least, not until you pass through the door. As soon as you cross that threshold, the smoke gets noticeably thicker. When it starts to go up your nose, you pinch it shut. But when it comes for your eyes, all you can do is squint … which unfortunately does not provide any relief to your eyes. All it ends up doing is concentrating the irritation to the thin strip of them that you left open. Moving through this mess, you can instantly tell that this is not just wood smoke – there is a real chemical bite to it. Worse, not only can you smell … whatever the Hell it is, you can taste it too, even with your mouth clamp shut so tightly your teeth are grinding into one another.But despite all of the unpleasantness, somehow you are making good progress. It is all thanks to the fire in the center of the room – it burns bright enough to cut through even the thickest of the smoke. It is also a great help that the floor is relatively free and clear. There has been some debris here and there that you had to stumble your way around, as well as plank that gave way a little under your weight before you snatched your foot back, but beyond that you have been able to keep moving forward without wasting any time. As you draw closer to the fire, the smoke gets thicker and blacker, but at the same time, you can also sort of start to make out what is burning – it looks to be some central piece of equipment. Obviously, with all of the explosions you have been hearing throughout the Refinery, you are not going to get too close to it … but on the other hand, you cannot afford to put too much distance between you and it.When you get as close as you dare to the self-immolating machine, on impulse, you look backward. All you can see is your shadow cast onto a rolling wall of gray smoke, two or three strides distant, with a tiny pinprick of white light from where your pocket lantern is courageously and fruitlessly blazing away over your breast. You can just barely make something out that you think might be one of the pieces of equipment along the sides of the room – out of the dozens that you know for a fact are there. And somehow, you cannot see the door behind you.As disheartening as your current situation is, it is almost enough to make you turn back when you realize that you are not going to be able to see if there is another door on the other side of the room, not until it is way too late to turn back. In fact, simply walking around this burning hulk of tanks and hoses could be fatal. To keep your bearings, you are going to need to end up exactly on the opposite side of the machine.
So, you start circling around the machine like a crow circles carrion. All the while, you are doing your best to not think about how the odds of retracing your steps through this mess, and leaving this room through the only exit you are certain exists, is decreasing steadily with every footfall, and every adjustment you make for the floor that you can barely see. You hope that once you get on the other side of this blaze, you will be able to better see where the Hell you are going, but you know that you cannot count on that.Just in the short time that you have been in this room, the sting in your eyes from the smoke has gotten so damned bad that it feels like someone has slit your peepers open with a blade dipped in vinegar. And you are only halfway through – in the absolute best-case scenario. You are pretty sure that you are crying, which considering the current state of your bodily emissions, is dangerous, but at the moment, you cannot do anything about it. Besides, if you are, most of it is going to end up on your clothes anyway, which are already hopelessly saturated with the Strangeness. The few drops that might make it to the floor … well, you will just have to hope that they are never found. And if they are, then you have to hope that they are written off, which they almost certainly would be. No matter how diligent the Inquisition is, they simply cannot explain everything. They will assume it is discharge, or condensation from the pipes or something. And that is assuming that there is even a Refinery left for the Inquisition to investigate … which with the way things have been going tonight, that is far from a certainty. Still, it feels so wrong, just ignoring the earliest and most important lessons you ever learned – the ones about dealing with communicable Strangeness. You feel compelled to cover your eyes, to try to dab them dry. So strong is this compulsion, you have to physically stop yourself from lifting your arm or your hand up to them, though now that you are thinking about it, you find that it is easier to control yourself. With a bit more resolve, you keep your left hand out in front of you, and your right hand pinching your nose shut. You have it so tightly squeezed that both your fingers and your nostrils have gone numb. But you just have to keep moving, there is no time for distractions like this. Focus! The machine, or whatever the Hell the thing is, it is not really that large, but when you factor in the berth you are giving it, on account of the flames, and of the fear that it might blow … it takes longer than you would have figured to work your way around it. Worried that you are wasting precious air, you are about to lengthen your strides and pick up the pace when you realize that would be the absolute worst thing you could possibly do at the moment.
While you can tell where you are relative to the fire just by feeling the heat rolling off of it, the only way you are going to be able to judge where you are relative to the rest of the room is if you keep the length and speed of your strides constant as you work your way around. At least, you think so. But regardless of whether you are right not, you are not going to throw out the closest thing you have to a strategy at this point. You are committed. Truly committed. At this point, the odds of you finding the hypothetical door on the on other side of the room are probably the same as the odds of you finding the door that you came through. By the time that you reach what you estimate to be the half-way point around the machine, your lungs are burning too. Upsettingly, you are not sure if it is just for want of air, or if some of the smoke has gotten into them after all as well. But you cannot let yourself worry about that – in fact, you cannot even think about that. Your completely undivided attention has to be on the next four or five steps you take here. Even if you managed to get your position perfect, if you mess up the direction you will miss the door – assuming, of course, that there is a door. Which – fraying Hell, focus! It is coming up. You take the last two strides, then allow yourself to come to a stop. Using the fire and a mental map of the room, you position yourself as best you can. Once you have your heading, you look up. You are looking into the black void of your shadow, surrounded by the larger gray void of the smoke. The pocket lantern is barely doing anything, to the point that you instinctively go to shut it off to save fuel – until you realize that there is no point to having conserving fuel. Let the lantern burn. At this point, if it could help and you could, you would torch the rest of the wharf, just to light your way. So what if you waste the fuel? Fray it all to pieces, why the Hell should you worry about that? No sense in leaving anything for the next idiot, huh? Damn it all! You cannot think like that. And you certainly cannot stay here. Move! For the Maker’s Mercy, move! Your feet are moving underneath you before you even realize it. You are getting to the point where you are worried that your body is going to try to take a breath on its own. Your head is starting to throb at your temples, and for the first time, you notice that you are light-headed. Where your strides up to and around the fire were tight and deliberate, now they are looser, sloppier. Part of you wants to tighten them up again, and part of you wants to break out into a sprint. Your visibility is getting worse – you have moved so far away from the flames, everything has gotten noticeably darker, to the point where you can no longer distinguish your shadow. On your way over to the machine, you could at least sort of make out the other pieces of equipment along the walls, but now … nothing.
You consider looking back over your shoulder to see where the flames are, but you decide against it, worried that you would somehow get disorientated in the process. As you keep moving, your light headedness becomes more and more akin to dizziness, which considering that your life depends on you walking in a straight line … And your chest – before, it hurt. Now, you would call it agony. There is at least a silver lining to that, though. The one thing that you are certain of is that you have kept your mouth and nose shut up as tight as a worm’s ass, so whatever you are feeling in your chest right now, if it is getting worse, then it has to be the effects of air deprivation and not smoke inhalation, right? Well … now that you think about it, perhaps they are not mutually exclus–You walk face first into something wooden, but before you can even form a coherent thought about it, it gives way … and you stumble through. Doggedly, you just keep moving, hoping that you keep your heading straight. Your lungs feel as if a pair of invisible hands have slid inside your breast and are wringing them both. Your strides now have all of the precision of a drunk derelict. For all you can see at the moment, your eyes might as well be shut – for all you know, they are. And your head – it has gone from tension at the temples and a touch of light headedness to feeling as if it has been hollowed out and it is in the process of being worked over with one of those steam-hammers. And it is because your head is hurting so bad that it takes you so long for you to realize that the wooden whatever you walked through a moment ago was the door that you were looking for. You force your eyes open, as far as they will go. They are burning like coals in a brazier, and it is hard to make anything out … but for the first time since you entered the smoke-choked room behind you, you can clearly make out the beam from the pocket-lantern. You do not know where you are, but at the moment the only thing that matters is that there is no smoke in this room. You had clenched your mouth so tightly, that the simple act of just opening your mouth hurts. And as you take your hand off of your nose while you start greedily sucking down air in these quick, reedy-sounding breaths, you discover that you were pinching your nose so tightly that you started bleeding. And as dangerous as leaving blood behind is, at the moment you are beyond caring. You sit down, then, without even bothering to try to shift the swag stashed in your dress that you have sinched shut and slung over your shoulder, you just lie down on the rough-hewn planks. Blood pounds in your ears, but beyond that, the room is quiet. Quiet enough that you can still make out the firing merrily blazing away in the other room. Quiet enough that for the first time since you came down to Oiler’s Wharf, you can actually hear the waves underneath you. Maybe … maybe the Refinery is not as bad off as you thought?
Of course, now that you think about it, that is not a good thing. Well, obviously, yes, it is a good thing – as it stands, a lot of people have died tonight, and if things get any worse, then it is likely that even more will … but if the situation here stabilizes, then it seems inevitable that more people are going to be making their way into here, looking to help. That thought is enough to get you back on your feet.With your feet underneath you again, you start walking – or more accurately stumbling – your way into the room. As you do, you are alternating wiping your tears away from your eyes and your blood away from your nose on your shirt sleeve. Well, the dead Comptroller’s shirt sleeve, who you are even more certain after that horrific experience back there must have died of smoke inhalation. What really gets to you is that, assuming you are right, and it was breathing in smoke and foul humors that did him in … is that he managed to get out, to walk away. Just like you are doing right now. Maybe. Oh, Pattern’s Perdition, what the Hell do you know? You managed to cover all of that distance without breathing anything in. Did he? You doubt it. You sincerely doubt it. And considering where you found him, and how many little fires seem to be all over the place, the odds are pretty poor that the smoke that did him in came from the room you just left … if it was smoke that killed him, and after all, what the Hell do you know?Still, what a way to go – being smoked like a filet of salmon or something. The unbidden image that comes to you, of you and the Comptroller up on hooks in a smokehouse, is so gruesomely absurd that you have to laugh. Which makes you cough. Which somehow makes the image even funnier. Of course, with the enormity of your situation bearing down on you, it does not take long for you to recover from the fit of coughs and giggles, but by the time that you do, you feel as if you are breathing normally again for the first time since you charged into that mess. Your sight is continuing to clear as well, and by the time that you are on the other side of this room, pulling the largest bay door you have seen in the Refinery since you left the tower, you notice some writing on the wall, half obscured by stacks of supplies partially resting against it. You start pulling the crates and whatnot off of their neat stacks. To your surprise, the first thing you uncover is a pictogram, which appears to depict three Moon and Suns, fanned above a drop of fluid –presumably Lifting Oil. There is an arrow, pointing in the direction of the room whose door you have just slid open. Underneath that there is one word written in large, block text: Finishing. Pattern’s Perdition, you do not know if you should be raging or start laughing again. All this time, there were directions, but you could not see any of them, because the fraying idiots stacked their shit right in front of them.
Then again, perhaps you should not be too sore about this. Excluding the hallway that you stepped out into after the Comptrollers station, you have not actually had any real choice as to where the Hell you are going around here. At the very least, you now know to look for this. And now that you say that … it looks like there is another arrow right underneath the text. The arrow is longer, but thinner, and with two heads, one right after the other. You pull two sacks to the floor, then drag a crate away to reveal the second pictogram and text; what is obviously a depiction of a bottle, and with the word Bottling written underneath it.You start to rock back and forth on your heels while you think about this, until you realize how much it hurts to move like that in your “second-hand” (or rather, second-foot) boots. But the discomfort is not enough to stop you from getting excited. You are so close! Maybe even just a room away from where the lifting oil is bottled. Now, of course, you do not know if there is any in there at the moment, but it is the first real lead on what you are looking for since you set foot in the Refinery. You shift your improvised sling so it sits more comfortably over your shoulder, and you plunge through the bay door, into what is apparently the room where the Lifting Oil is ‘Finished’ … whatever the Hell that means. You are much more interested in finding the door, so you do not pay much heed to your surroundings in here, beyond the most cursory of glances. Still, this room is large enough that a cursory glance takes more than just a moment. There are about a dozen or so columns of interwoven pipe here – much smaller cousins to the ones in the tower, and without the machinery, junctions or catwalks that smothered the larger trio around the pit. There are also small copper tanks sitting in-between the columns, banded by pipes … which curiously enough do not seem to lead anywhere. They just end in dark holes, which sort of remind you of baby birds, aggressively sticking their open beaks out at their mother. Kind of unsettling, actually …The lighting in here is not helping matters. The lamps, much like in the hallway before the smoke-choked room, seem to have been broken. The only light is moonlight, filtering in from the open vents on the roof above you. And there are only a few vents, which means that much of the room is shrouded in darkness. It is also damned quiet. Not exactly silent – beyond your footfalls, you can still hear the waves crashing against the piles underneath you, and in the distance, there is some intermittent noise that you can just barely make out. You assume that it is something falling or exploding, but you have no way of knowing for sure.Just when you are starting to get frustrated, you see it – a small sliding door. If not for the faint glow around its edges, it would be very hard to distinguish it from the wall around it, at least in the relative darkness of Finishing.
Immediately, you lengthen your strides and quicken your pace. When you get there, you are so eager to get through that you actually wrench the damned thing off of its tracks. As soon as you had seen the door, your face had twisted into a predatory leer, but as soon as you step through, your countenance is wiped like a slate. The roof of this room is on fire – it is what caused the glow. The room, a small connecting vestibule with cast pipes running its entire length, is completely bathed in harsh, shuddering orange light from the flames above, beaming down through the vents. Standing as you are in the doorway, you can even hear them, what you would judge to be no more than ten feet up, roaring and huffing and crackling away. At least, you hope the crackling is the flames, because if it is not, process of elimination means that it would then either have to be the roof itself … or perhaps the floor. Neither of which are attractive options. You stare up at the ceiling and the vents until your eyes start stinging again from the bright light of the flames, but you cannot see anything that looks dangerous. The floor looks solid as well, and you note that none of whatever is on fire on the roof here has fallen into the room through the open vents – which you judge to be another good sign. Running out of ideas, you lean up against the doorframe, and put your weight into it. It seems solid as rock … though your really did not expect anything else. The room itself could not be longer than two hundred and fifty feet, two seventy at the absolute most. The flames on the roof, and the crackling especially have given you pause, but after concluding that trying for any alternative route would necessitate going through the smoke-choked room again, you start jogging towards the door on the other side of the vestibule. Once you get started however, it occurs to you just how much danger you are in at the moment, and you start running. Your feet move underneath you completely unseen, as for the whole time, your eyes are riveted on the ceiling. A third of the way through, for a moment, it sounds like the crackling is getting worse, but you write it off as nerves. That said, you still pick up your pace … until the sling of swag you improvised from your dress starts to shake loose, and you have to slow down to pin it against your hip to keep it from slipping loose completely. As you approach the halfway point of the room, it occurs to you that there could have been another way into Bottling from … oh, what the Hell was the name of the room you just came from again? You do not realize it at first, but you start to slow down again as you try to think. There were a lot of dark corners in that room – and if there was another hallway like this one, except without its roof on fire to illuminate the door, then you might have missed it.
Honestly, if you think about it, you barely spent any time back there, and to make matters worse, you went and pounced on the first thing you saw, assuming that there was not anything else in there to find. That is sloppy. That would be the definition of sloppy. You advert your gaze from the vented ceiling above you to look behind you for just a second. Uh … you would say that you are already more than half, maybe even two thirds of the way across. So, you can see no sense in doubling back now. For better or worse, you should just press –Somewhere over your head, there is a crisp, sharp crack, loud enough that it completely cuts across the rest of the racket. Filled with a primal terror, you instinctively start running as fast as you can towards Bottling. As you run for your life, that wordless fear articulates itself into a single thought; that fire would not, should not, could not make a sound like that. Ever. You are panicking, you are staring at the ceiling again, you are sprinting, you are stiff and sore all over, you are mentally and physically exhausted … and you are tripping. You are just able to get your arms out in front of you to keep yourself from getting a face full of splinters, but you still hit the planks fast and hard. The inkpot you stuffed into your pocket jerkin jabs itself straight into your ribs, knocking the wind right out of you. Gasping for air, you try to scramble back to your feet, but you are not quite able to get your feet under you properly, and you end up on the ground once more. You are trying again to get up when the burning roof collapses with a soul-fraying groan. You do not see it happen; you do not even think to try to cover your head. In fact, you are not thinking at all – instead, you are still in thrall to the instinct to ‘run away’. You just manage a stumbly lunge back to your feet when the hammer-blow falls, and everything goes black. When you do come to, you have no sense of how long you were out. It could have been minutes, just as easily as moments. Your head is in a complete fog, and you cannot see anything. Worse than that, you really do not have any sense of direction beyond a vague sense of up and down. It really feels as if you could be floating in a void. The first coherent thought through your head is to wonder if you have died and wound up in Dark Oblivion. At least, until you remember what you have done tonight. The lives you took. Those sins, on top of years of lesser trespasses … there is no way that you would go directly to Oblivion with all of that unanswered and unrepented for. Honestly, you would probably be lucky to get into the Heights. No, Maker’s Mercy, you are still alive.
You try to get your arms underneath you, to force yourself to your feet, but when you try to move them, you find that they are pinned. After a moment, you try to stand without their assistance, but you find that the rest of you is pinned as well. As your head continues to clear, you try to stand once more time. You do not manage to, but you are able to just lift yourself up enough that you can squeeze your left arm underneath you. And more importantly, straining yourself like this is orientating you. You still feel dizzy, of course, but things are getting better. As you now focus on getting your right arm underneath you as well, your eyes start to adjust just a little bit, and you can see that your face is mashed straight into the planking of the Refinery floor. There is also heat – even in the smoke-choked room, you were not this hot. But just as you are finally starting to get your bearings, something – many somethings, actually – start clattering, and even though you are still pinned, you start to slide inexorably backwards, as if you were a mote of dust caught up in the bristles of a broom. Being dragged like this is painful, and you struggle to get your head off of the planks, lest you take a splinter through your cheeks, or worse, your eye. And as you strain your aching back and neck, so to do you strain your aching head, trying to figure out what the Hell is going on. This cannot be written off to some bout of disorientation, no, you are moving. In fact, you are accelerating backwar –No. Oh, no. Oh, Maker, please no. Not backward. Downward. To the harbor. The clattering of the woodpile that you are buried under, the remains of the roof which you now realize must still be burning – how else could you explain the heat – gets more and more insistent as you pick up speed. You start wrenching your arms in, contorting your back, desperately trying to get into a position where you could even try to lift yourself out of this, but it is no use. For all the fruits of your struggling, you might as well be transfixed with a pin. In an odd, out of body experience, you realize that you have started to scream – a wordless shriek of raw, unadulterated terror – but you have no clue as to when you started. You know that you should stop, but … the floodgates have opened, and you are as powerless as you have ever been. A lifetime of lessons on the necessity of being and remaining hidden, drilled, and in some cases, beaten into you – in this terrible moment, all of them fall by the wayside. You articulate yourself somewhat and start screaming for help. None comes, of course. Anyone left in this portion of the Refinery is either as incapacitated as you are, or dead. Your agonizing, inescapable descent to the waves continues, and you start to cry, heedless to the danger of your tears.
`Or perhaps you were already crying, you are not sure. The only certainty here – the only absolute is that you are falling. Beyond that, your head is filled in equal parts with stupefying fog and quaking, black fear.“Sorry! Sorry! I’m – I’m sorry!”You do not know who you are apologizing to. The Comptroller you burned? The Guards you killed? The Strangeness-afflicted Coroners that you abandoned to the Inquisition? The Captain who you robbed? The dozens and dozens of souls whose ascension from the Heights you impeded, if not prevented outright, by harvesting their bodies? The father that you were not worthy of? Or the Patternmaker, who you are also not worthy of? But in your cries, you find a second certainty – you are most certainly sorry. You might just be the most sorry girl that ever lived.Regardless, you are still sliding. And you are still stuck. You are still trying to free your arms, your legs, something, anything – but your struggling has replaced its earlier violence with numb obligation.At this point, you do not think that you are going to be able to get out from underneath all of the debris before they stop sliding and start falling. And once you get into the water – if you even make it to the water without hitting one of the piles, or more falling debris – you doubt that you will be able to get yourself. This is it, isn’t it? You are about to die. You are really about to die. And soiled with so many sins – with no way to cleanse yourself of them. Pray. You need to pray. Now, while you still can.“Please! I’m – please, I – please!” While you are struggling under the pile, that is as articulate as you can be. You cannot do both – you cannot struggle and properly pray at the same time. You are going to need to pick one or the other. To either rely on yourself, your wits and your strength, that you can still somehow get out from underneath this … or to entrust your soul to the Mercy of the Maker and let yourself slip from the realms of the Flesh, hoping that one last prayer is enough to escape the Pits. You have to choose. Right now! You –Suddenly, the weight above you shifts and immediately becomes lighter. You are still processing this as your desperate flailing, which you had yet to give up completely on actually manages to get your arms free and underneath you, one right after the other. There is an exultant rush, as you realize that you can still fight. Wasting no time on planning or even further conscious thought, you press your back into the detritus above you. It feels as if you are trying to push a woodpile by backing yourself into it, but it gives. Makers Mercy, it gives, and you stand.You do not even remember the sprint to safety – one moment you were emerging from the burning pile, then next, you were in another large room, which you hope to Hell and back is Bottling. You are bent over, with your hands on your knees, breathing as if someone had just tried to drown you.
Still out of breath, you start moving – not wanting to stay a single second longer in the place than absolutely necessary. Like Finishing, there are more machines in this room, though these look different from any of the ones that you have seen in the Refinery so far. That is promising. And when you see the racks of glass jugs, you almost collapse with relief. Most are empty, but some have filled and corked. You lean in, wipe your eyes, and in the darkness of the room, lit only by the moonlight filtering in from the vents in the roof, you read the label. Gothorum Grade Flameless Lifting Oil, Quarter Short Ton. Having found what you are looking for, you actually do collapse with relief, falling to your knees and choking down a sob. Less than two minutes ago – Hell, maybe even a minute and a half – you were about to give up. You – You need to focus. So long as you are in the Refinery, you are in danger. Honestly, you should just keep repeating that to yourself, because apparently you have the brain of some silver-spoon coquette. You bolt to your feet. Just looking at the fat jug, bound with hempen rope, you can tell that it is going to be too heavy for you to carry out on your back. And you confirm this when you damn near drop the thing getting it off of the shelf and onto the floor. This is going to be too much to handle, at least, if you are going to want to be able to do any serious running or climbing while you are making off with this, which obviously, you do. After thinking about it for a moment, you decide that the best course of action would be to crack the jug open and use the lifting oil to reduce the load. Conveniently, there is a square depression at the top of the jug, like a tray in the glass, where you can pour lifting oil in so it will lift up without either spilling or ripping the bottle to pieces. That is, of course, assuming that you pour out the correct amount, and you do not slosh it around too much. Before you pull the cork, you take off the belt that came with the breeches you stole off of the Comptroller, and you loop it through the handle of the jug to make a carrying strap. As you pop the cork, you realize that this bottle might weigh less than a Quarter Short Ton – 200 pounds – which means that as soon as you light up, the bottle is going to try to fall upwards, possibly even faster than it would fall downwards under typical circumstances. Not optimal. But there really is not anything you can do about that. Short of finding some weights, you suppose. Across the room, there are actually some metal … parts? They look heavy enough, and they just seem to be lying around, half in and half out of crates. Probably spares for one of the machines – but you really would not know. You give yourself a few moments to mull that prospect for a bit, but in the end, you decide against it.
You really do not have anything to secure any additional weight to the jug, and even if you did, you are worried that the more you have on your back, the more likely things are going to go wrong.Satisfied as you ever are going to be, you break the wax seal on the doling cup and pull it off of the cork. All things considered it is pretty well made. It is not lead, lead alloy, or lined with lead, so you probably should not use it for any magical experimentation, but you could definitely see yourself using this later. Moving right along, you pry the cork out – which was in so damned tight you had to get your knives out to get the damned thing started. You use the doling cup to dole out your best guess for a safe application into the tray. Once it has been loaded in, you sit down on the floor right next to it, get the improvised carrying strap over your shoulder that you are carrying the satchel with, and then get the swag in your slung dress sitting as comfortably as it can. Satisfied as you are going to be, you use the pocket lantern to ignite the oil. It should come as no surprise that it is actually pretty difficult to light flameless lifting oil, but after half a minute, you do get a wavering flame for your troubles. Within the same breath of the flame catching, it dies, but as it does, the red oil underneath it starts to glow, indicating that the effect is activating. As advertised, it is flameless. But it does billow smoke – and worse, it shoots sparks. Nothing substantial enough to start a fire, but if anyone was around to look, they would definitely catch their eye. Careful to not upset the application of the oil in the jug’s built-in depression, you take your time, and very deliberately get to your feet. By the time that you are standing again, your fears – well, your concerns, at least – have been realized. It is floating – or more accurately, it is falling upward. Your improvised carrying strap is working for the moment, but currently, the jug is right behind your head, and the strap is digging into the pit of your arm, trying and failing to pull you up with it. For a second, you consider looking for something to place on top of the applied oil, to conceal the smoke and the sparks, but you are worried that it would either end up smothering the oil – if that is even possible, considering that there is no flame to snuff – or, more likely, that you would get activated lifting oil on the cover, it would be forced downward by the effect and in the process it would get the stuff everywhere … which as you saw what happened with the Ichor, accelerating debris in every direction when one of the columns went, is very, very dangerous. You will just have to make do, though hiding from anyone is going to be a bit difficult with the sloshing, puffing and hissing jug floating right behind your head. But it is what it is. This is the smallest jug of any oil on the shelf here, not just flameless.
Resigned to this latest complication, you start to head over to the side of the room with what you would judge to be spare parts for the equipment, weaving around a few of the machines in the process. As you had hoped, there is in fact a door – not a bay door, just a typical, everyday kind of door – right next to the pile. Now, perhaps there are directions written on the wall as well? Wanting to keep things moving, you start tearing the stacks down. Some of the crates are open at the top, or are not nailed shut, and when you drop them, they spill their contents out onto the planks, with clattering and metallic pinging. Unfortunately, it seems that there are no instructions by this door. Looking through the door, you can see another room, large, but not so large as Bottling or Finishing. To your surprise, that space is still illuminated by lamplight, and from where you stand right now, you can see what appears to be the entrance to another hallway, on the other side of that room. Giving up on getting directions at least for the moment, you look down so you can extricate yourself from all the shit that you dumped down there. Right at your feet, is a busted open crate, and written on it, in chalk, are the words ‘prototype bearing parts’. That does not mean anything to you. And at first, the balls that have spilled out from this busted box do not mean anything to you either. But as you start to look away, you notice how the moonlight is reflecting off of them, and you realize that these are steel balls. It is a casual observation, made in passing. Literally and physically – you are walking out of Bottling when this realization comes to you. And in your worn down and worn out state, you are striding into the next room, considering your choices of doors when you finally connect the dots. Steel balls! Steel balls! You whirl around and rush right back into the room, right back to where you were with the parts strewn on the ground. But once you get there, you force yourself to slow down. Cautiously, you go to your knees, making sure to keep the jug level. You probably do not need to mother hen the oil to quite this extent, but you do not want to take any chances here. But that is not what you are thinking about right now. No, your entire focus is on those balls. One of them had rolled over the small gap between the planks of the floor and had gotten itself stuck. You pluck it out and look it over. Just as you thought – it is exactly the size of the graven steel ball you pinched from Aldoin’s coffin. The same size as the ball that you, trying to be responsible, magically mitigated … not realizing that you were screwing yourself in the process. The graven steel ball did not just dump Strangeness into the coffin and the corpse – it was sitting in the Morgue for a day or two, and during all that time, there was nothing stopping it from spreading Strangeness all over the place.
Eventually, the Inquisition is going to find some of that Strangeness, and they are going to be desperate to trace it back to its source. Assuming they are able to – and you assume that they will – they will find out about the graven steel ball from the Coroners, and then they will want to exhume Aldoin, to take the artifact into their possession. Except it is not in the coffin anymore, because you took it out. So obviously, their suspicion is going to fall on you, as the last person to be alone with the coffin. And considering that you had magically mitigated the ball, it was not simply a matter of putting the damned thing back, because then it would be obvious that someone with magic had tampered with – and again, as the last person who had been alone with the coffin, it is going to be pretty fraying obvious that it was you, if you did do that. You had thought about trying to make a replacement – or a counterfeit. You would not have to bother trying to get the glyphs on the ball right, you could just deliberately misuse some of father’s equipment, and make another dangerously Strange steel ball. Obviously, the Inquisition would have no way of knowing the difference between a completely discharged artifact and a really Strange dummy. But with everything else on your plate, there was no time … but, if you already had the ball …Still on your knees, you stuff the steel ball in one of the pockets of the great coat, then grab the half dozen other steel balls that are in your reach and cram them into the same pocket. As you rise to your feet, your head swims with the possibilities. When you gave up on making the decoy graven ball earlier, you were effectively accepting that the Inquisition would eventually come after you – a terrifying prospect. The softly clinking and clattering mass in your pocket represents a potential out … assuming you can get the dummy made and planted into Aldoin’s coffin before the Inquisition has the damned thing exhumed. Which is not necessarily guaranteed. And Maker’s Mercy, is your time already tight. You were hoping to leave comfortably before the seven days that father gave you to leave the Mount, but it was already looking like you were going to be cutting things close. Throw this into the mix – Ah, damn it all. You need to stop counting birds in the bush. Get out of here in one piece, with the oil before you start planning your next move. You rise to your feet and hustle your way into the next room. While this room is comparably sized to Bottling and Finishing, it appears to be empty. There are spaces and, in some spots, holes in the floor, where judging by the presence of disconnected pipes, equipment had clearly been located at some point. Currently, however, these are just dark pits, openings into the levels underneath the Refinery. For all you know, there might be a way out down there, but given the choice, you would stay out if you could.
And for now, it looks like you are being given the choice. In fact, you are being downright spoiled! Not counting the prospect of way out through the sublevels, or the door you just passed through to get into this room, there are two ways out of this room. A hallway, and a side door. You decide to take the hallway, based on nothing more than the hope that there are directions painted on one of its walls. You cross the room, walking around the pits, as well as parts of the floor that seem to have been cordoned off at random … until, as you pass one, you notice that the floor inside the line is sort of sagging. Pattern’s Perdition – if this portion of Refinery had weak floors before all of this started, then you are really going to have to watch your step here. Giving the undermined portions of the floor a wide of a berth, you make your way to the hallway. As you approach, you notice two things – that this is the first hallway that you have seen in the Refinery that was just a hallway. No supplies stacked alongside the walls – and no mounted pipes either, though here and there you can see spots where brackets for them might have been at some point. The other thing you notice is the smell. After running through the smoke-choked room, you have basically been smelling nothing but soot and blood from your nosebleed. But now, those overpowering smells have themselves been overpowered. It almost goes without saying that it is chemical. You have no idea what chemical, but … Stars and Spheres, how it reeks! You have not even gotten out of the hallway when your eyes start to tear up, and you start coughing a bit. By the time you are actually in the room, you have stopped coughing, but your eyes are watering to the point that you are basically crying. As you do what you can to keep the Strangeness in check, you survey the room. Completely covering the entire floor is a faintly steaming sludge. You can sort of see what look like channels in the odiferous shiny black mass, and it takes you a moment or two to realize that they must be caused by the sludge slowly – snail’s pace slowly – pouring through the spaces in the plank flooring. Just how thick is this stuff? And for that matter, just how heavy? Like the room on the other side of the hallway you just came through, this one is basically empty, which when considering the weight of the sludge, is a definitely for the best, especially if portions of the Refinery here were unsound before tonight, as you fear. But without any machines or tanks in here, it does beg the question: where did all of this shit come from? While you look for a potential safe route across - or better yet, around – the morass, that question nags at you. Perhaps the explosion of the big pump and the collapse of one of the columns in the tower forced this stuff further into the Refinery somehow? That sort of makes sense, you suppose, but then again, what the Hell do you know?
Well … you know that nothing about this room looks safe. There are brackets on the wall, just like in the hallway behind you, where pipes were once suspended. It looks like they are close enough together that you could work your way across the room on them … but all it would take it one of them failing under your weight, and you would be falling straight into the sludge. It does not look like that it is actually that deep – the leading edge that you can see about four yards ahead of you looks to only a matter of inches thick, maybe a few more once you get deeper in – but obviously you are not going to fraying walk through this shit. You are starting to get a little dizzy from the black humors in the fumes. When you realize this, you are frustrated enough that you could slap yourself. What manner of senseless lunatic just stands around, breathing like a fraying bellows around whatever the Hell this mess is? You are not thinking straight. That much is obvious. You have been burning the candle at both ends after all, for nearly two days straight now. You make a split-second decision to write this room off, and you hoping for a better egress, you retrace your steps out of this room, through the hallway, and into the large, empty room right outside of Bottling. Now more comfortable moving with the jug tethered to you, you allow yourself to pick up your pace, to make up for lost time as you head to the side door you saw earlier. But when you get there, you find to your surprise that the door has been barred shut from this side. Curiously, the drop bar has been nailed into the frame, though it is relatively trivial to pry the thing off using the chipped pin-stiletto. However, when you try to push the door open, you are flummoxed to find that the door must be barred from the other side as well. Equal parts frustrated and curious, you wrap your arm around the floating jug of lifting oil and pull it tight against you to keep it steady. Once you have it secure, you set about kicking the door down. The boots you stole off of the dead Comptroller clearly were not made with this in mind, and by the time that the door breaks open, your toes feel as if they have been run over by a fraying wagon. Further indulgence in self-pity is cut short though, when you see just why the door was sealed shut. The room on the other side of the side door is a smaller version of the room you just passed through – holes in the floor where machinery presumably once was, regions of the floor cordoned off, and brackets on the walls where pipes once hung. However, there are two differences – or three, counting the size of the space.
The first is the … you are not even sure what you would call it, but it looks as if it is a catwalk, suspended from the ceiling, but made just for pipes. The second is that while that the floor in the room you were just in had spots where the floor looked as if it might be sagging, in this room, there are spots where the floor looks as if it might not be sagging. It is an absolute mess. You can clearly make out where the supports are – and are not – based off of the height of the floor. And those are the best portions of the floor. There are swaths where it looks like there are not any supports underneath anymore, and the floor slopes into these little depressions, and there are even portions where the floor is just gone. You are not sure if it was removed, or it fell away after whatever exactly happened here tonight, but either way, this looks to have all the makings of genuine deathtrap. You would have to be crazy to trust that floor – just as crazy as you would have to be to spend any serious time in the room with the sludge. But perhaps you do not need to trust the floor. You turn your attention back to the pipes suspended from the ceiling. Getting up on those pipes would be trivial … if you were not bone tired and loaded down with swag. Still, you should be able to get up there without too much trouble, even encumbered as you are at the moment. The real question is once you get up there, is that contraption going to be able to hold your weight?Mulling it over, you feel pretty sure that it should be able to. Clearly, this portion of the Refinery was being repaired or something. It looks like everything that was unsound was removed – so it stands to reason that the pipes up there should be able to bear your weight. Figuring that you have spent too much time not making any progress, you make a split-second decision. Crossing this room on the overhead pipes has to be safer than trying to climb along the walls of the room with the sludge. Of course, just because this option is safer, it does not necessarily follow that this is safe. The hallway into Bottling looked solid enough, even with the ceiling on fire, and look how that ended up. The relatively light wooden frames around the vents were enough to break the floor underneath you. These pipes look like they are cast iron – thick cast iron. If those pipes were to fall, then you would bet good money that they would punch clean through to the harbor. But on the other hand, if they are so heavy, then it stands to reason that their supports must be really strong as well, right? That thought makes you marginally more comfortable about attempting this – which is going to have to be comfortable enough. Before you start your climb, however, you need to check to make sure that there is enough lifting oil left in the depression on the top of the oil jug.
If the oil was to run out while you were crossing the pipes, it would be a matter of seconds before the jug started to fall normally. The carrying strap you improvised out of the belt you took off of the dead Comptroller is enough to keep the balance of the weight in check, that is the two hundred pounds of lift, less the actual weight of the jug and oil. But you doubt that some belt is sufficient to hold the actual weight when the effects of the oil eventually peter out, no matter how bright the buckle or rich the leather is. To safeguard against this, you are going to have to ‘top off’ the lifting oil, while you still can. That is easier said than done, considering that the jug is currently floating (or more accurately, falling upwards) directly behind your head. But eventually, you manage to press the base of the jug solidly into the floor with one hand, so you can get the provided doling cup free. It was actually more difficult to pour the oil into the cup, considering. At one point, you actually slipped, and the jug started to accelerate directly towards your face, though luckily you were able to get your hands around it. You ended up spilling more lifting oil than you actually used to refill the reservoir, but it was probably a couple dozen drams lost at most, and you have gallons left. With the oil once again smoking and sparking merrily, you carefully stand up, easing the jug back into position behind your head. Now all there is left is to actually cross the damned room. The brackets, where other pipes were once were suspended, make the climb up to the remaining pipes, the ones you are going to cross over on, almost trivial, even encumbered as you are. Unfortunately, once you get up to the pipes, and climb up on top of them, everything gets much, much more difficult. The most obvious issue is how little room there is up here. Now, admittedly, you are six feet, four inches, but even a more typically sized man would have to stoop down up here. And from the ground, you could not see that there were brackets and supports hanging down from the ceiling right onto the bridge – or whatever the Hell you want to call it – in addition to the supports that you saw from floor. You are forced to take it slow, to pick your way around these obstacles. Additionally, there is not a lot of light up here, but bent over as you are, you are not comfortable using your pocket lantern, for fear of lighting yourself on fire. But all of these are just frustrations. The danger up here is the pipes themselves. Now, you could be forgiven for not knowing that these pipes would be slick and wet. All of the others you have seen tonight looked to be dry, and you had figured that these pipes were disconnected, as all of the equipment nearby had been removed. And because you had assumed that these pipes were disconnected, you could also be forgiven for thinking that they would not be uncomfortably warm through your pilfered, uncomfortably tight boots.
Or that here and there they would be venting steam or smoke or whatever through valves, perfectly placed right at the height were the leather of the boot ends, where all you have between the lancing heat and your skin are your thin stolen breeches. You tried getting the great coat you are wearing in-between you and the blasts, but when you did it ended up obscuring your feet, which you knew right away was just tempting black luck.But as dangerous – and painful – the venting is, you can forgive yourself for not considering it, just like the slickness and the heat. What you cannot forgive yourself for not considering is just how difficult it would be to walk on pipes. Pipes, by dint of being fraying pipes, are round. And when they are as large as these are, that means that even when they are right next to each other, there is a fair amount of space in-between them. More than enough space for you to accidentally slip into, or to twist or roll your ankle with.As you are bent at the waist, the improvised haversack you have made out of your dress has shifted to your front and is lightly slapping against your knees as you make your way along the bridge. And the jug – that miserable fraying bastard – it is still trying to fall straight up, so you have to bend even lower to make sure that it clears the ceiling and any low hanging brackets or protrusions. Ever single time it tings! against anything, your heart goes straight into your throat, worrying that the application of oil in the jugs depression is going to get messed up. And finally, as you are in such a relatively enclosed space, you cannot help but breathe in some of the smoke that the lifting oil is cooking off. Ironically enough, it is making you feel lightheaded.But you keep your head down, looking carefully studying the pipes in front of you as best you can in the lousy light. Still, you are starting to entertain the idea of turning back … when you almost run into the wall. Pattern’s Perdition, that was almost something out of a fraying pantomime. As you descend to the floor, you cannot help but nervously laugh. Despite being a miserable experience, you made decent enough time on the crossing, and in the process avoided the figurative (and potentially physical) pitfalls of this room. Once you are back on the floor – and you are satisfied that the planks under your feet are sound, you take a moment to look at how the oil on top of the jug is holding up.It is pretty good – in fact, there is so much oil left that you are not comfortable pouring more in, out of the fear that you would tempting sloshing or spilling. Sticking close to the walls of the room, you make your way to another door. Like the one on the other side of this room, it is barred and nailed shut, so getting through it takes more than a little bit of doing. When you finally manage to get through, you find yourself in a large, exceptionally long room, with copper tanks all along the wall.
Many of these tanks are smoldering, billowing smoke from their tops where they join with large pipes coming down from the roof, venting steam in all directions from the nest of pipes underneath them. Several are glowing, possibly starting to melt, and two of those are leaking sludge. Not a lot, mind you, and the room is large enough that the smell is as overpowering as it was in the other room, but it is bad – and it is getting progressively worse. But what really scares you is that the sludge leaking from these tanks is burning, And you are not sure if it is a different type of sludge then the stuff you ran into before, or if it is more … dribbly or whatever the technical word is because it is on fire, but this stuff seems to be slipping through the floor, while the other sludge was thick enough that it mostly stayed put, above the planks. For all you know, it could be lighting the piles of the wharf on fire at this very moment. Of course, you would hope that the supports of the wharf are fireproofed, like the floors and walls of the Refinery seem to be, but … you do not know. And you would hate to find out the hard way if the entire place just collapsed on you, especially when you have to be so close to an exit … and of course, while there are no doubt still survivors and rescuers in the building and on the Oiler’s Wharf. Having learned your lesson from the hallway with the burning ceiling, you start running through the room. As you get closer, you notice that some of the tanks seem to be filled over capacity, as they are trembling and spurting intermittent streams of the sludge from their tops. In fact, there is a bank of them up ahead that look like they are still being filled up. One of those tanks, one of the two in this room that are gushing sludge from the nest of pipes underneath it, looks like it might be starting to buckle. Frighteningly enough, you can hear the metal groan, even over the loud retorts of your footfalls as you run by. You allow yourself to run just a little bit faster, but you are still not at full tilt, not even at a sprint, for fear of what would happen if you got the application of oil on the jug messed up.Still, your long legs and reasonably fast pace chew through the room, and before you know it, you are approaching the center of this space, the entirety of which is a platform, elevated about six inches off of the floor of the rest of the room. In the light of this room’s lamps, you can make out pipes underneath the platform, all of which seem to converge on some machine on top of the structure, with what might be the single largest valve that you have ever seen. The thing is large enough that it has handles, and unlike any of the other equipment you have seen here tonight, it has been painted a bright, glossy red.
Out of an abundance of caution for the load floating directly behind your head, you slow down as you approach the platform – you do not want to mistime your hop up and trip, after all. As you do, you notice something else unique about the valve. It is labeled, both with pictograms and with actual writing. You cannot quite read it from where you are now, so you adjust your path and swing closer to the machine out of curiosity. As you draw closer, and you make out the pictogram – bells and lighting, perhaps to indicate alarm, next to what looks to be a depiction of steam or some gas whistling out of the tap – right above the words Master Emergency Discharge, painted in commanding block text, you notice two other things. The first is that one of the lamps – which in this room are hanging overhead, as all of the space along the walls have been given over to the tanks – has fallen directly onto the machine. Blessedly, it seems that either the fall extinguished its flame, or it was not able to catch anything on the platform, and it petered out. The second is that that there appears to be some sort of sign, under glass no less, nestled in between the valve and the machine.After studying the ceiling and the nearest tanks for any indication of danger and finding none – the tanks that are the worst off are ahead and behind you – as you approach the center of the platform, you cannot help but let your curiosity get the better of you. You slow down to a walk, and head over to the sign. And for an establishment that has relied so heavily on pictograms, it is surprisingly wordy. “In the event of a fire, employ the Master Emergency Discharge, unless the Regulator’s indicator rod is at full extension. In such an eventuality, do not under any circumstances use the Master Emergency Discharge.'Your stomach churns as you look at the sign. Recently, the Firmament has been presenting you with a lot of opportunities to help people – no doubt because it would be in your best interest to make amends after all of your trespasses and transgressions – but you have been running away from all of them. You had the opportunity to help the Coroners who were exposed to the Strangeness from the Graven Steel Ball, but you walked away, scared of the risk. Right after the destruction started, you had a chance while everyone was distracted to search for survivor, and potentially give them some life-saving succor. But again, you refused, because again, you were scared of getting caught. And the one time that you actually did help, when you freed those blinded survivors, you did not see it through by walking them to the exit, because – surprise, surprise – you were scared. If the route that they were on to the Chemical Station was half as dangerous as the route you took to Bottling, then those men are probably dead.
But now! Here and now is a situation where you can help! And there is no risk – no reason not to. The words that Hortingea spoke to you, the words that you are now certain were placed in her mouth by the Patternmaker Himself, echo through your head, loud enough that you fear you might start shaking. Desperate to make amends, to prove to the Maker – and yourself – that despite everything, you are a good and clean soul, worthy of Wisdom, you practically throw yourself at the valve. But before you can start turning, you remember that you need to check the indicator rod – whatever that is.From the sign, you would judge that the machine next to the valve is the Regulator. You hope it is, otherwise, you doubt that you would ever be able to find it. Resolving to learn more about the instrumental sciences, you look the device over, trying to find something – anything – that could the ‘indicator rod’. The Regulator was really clobbered when the overhead lamp fell on it, and it seems that your first impression – that the lamp did not light anything on fire when it came crashing down – is not entirely true. Swathes of the machine show scorching, and now that you look closely, you can see where parts of the lamp have been jammed in between parts of the Regulator. When you finally locate what you believe to be the indicator rod, located in an alcove on the machine’s upper housing, you find yourself getting more anxious, not less. You have no idea what ‘full extension’ looks like, and from the way that it was worded on the sign, you have to assume that the consequences of using the discharge when you are not supposed to is pretty damned dire. What if it is at ‘full extension’ right now? What if it was, and then the lamp falling knocked it back? Well … you think you have a way to test for one of those. You grab the rod in your Strange-Stained glove and try to pull up on it. Which is easier said than done. You have such a hard time getting the rod to budge that for a moment you thought that it might actually be at full extension, until it finally gives way and starts moving – albeit in fits and starts. You actually have to brace yourself against the housing of the Regulator and pull with all of your might to finally get the indicator to its full extension.So, the Regulator is currently indicating that it is safe to open the valve. But it comes back to the question of the falling lamp. While there is nothing to indicate that the rod itself was hit by the lamp and pushed back in, the irregular action of the rod worries you. Is it possible that simply the impact of the lamp caused something to break inside the Regulator, causing the rod to retract? No, that seems like a bit of a stretch. But then again, with everything at stake here … You stare intently at the machine for several seconds, fruitlessly willing the contraption to explain itself before once again, a distant thud behind you somewhere snaps you out of it.
You need to keep moving. Which means you need to make your decision, right now. Fray it all to the Pits. The rod says it is safe. There is nothing definitive indicating that the indicator or the Regulator itself is not work exactly as intended. Open it up and pray for the best. You turn to the valve and after a quick silent prayer, you throw your back into it. At its size, and with multiple sets of handles on it, you would wager that opening the damned thing is supposed to be a two-man job – at least. So, you figured, that as one solitary woman, you were going to have a hard time of it. That turned out to be an understatement, to put it mildly. It takes just about everything that you have left – and it feels like you nearly pulled both of your arms out of their sockets in the attempt, but just as you were seriously thinking of just walking away the valve finally started to creak open. Encouraged, you set to your task with renewed vigor as the creaking changes to shrieking. When the platform underneath you starts to shake, you recoil away from the release valve, only to see that it is now spinning itself open. From above you there is a rumbling noise, and fearing another collapse, you run away to the far side of the room. The pipes above and below the tanks all start thumping and jumping, and oddly enough streams of water start to fall from the ceiling. At this point, you have forgotten your fears about messing up the application of lifting oil you have on the jug – you are sprinting. Sprinting as fast as you have ever run. There is a door ahead of you – closed. You do not have the presence of mind to slow down to open it, or to position your shoulder to charge through it. You just run straight at it, outstretching your arms at the last moment to try to push it open. Blessedly, the door is unlocked, otherwise you would have almost certainly hurt yourself. And double blessedly, the door was tall enough for the jug to pass through without striking the frame, otherwise you might have lost all of the oil. The room on the other side of the door is yet another hallway, and with your footfalls pounding against the planks, you tear through it, only allowing yourself to slow down as you approach the far end, out of the hope that you will find directions painted onto the walls, as you had elsewhere. But unfortunately, this particular hallway has pipes running all along its walls, so there is simply no space for any signage. Frustrated, you keep moving. Once you are through the door, you finally allow yourself to slow down to a jog – partially so you can better scan the area for more directions, and partially because you are just about out of breath. Though you manage to catch your breath quickly, you are not able to catch sight of anything that could be a sign.
Once you are convinced that there is nothing to find, you turn your attention to this new area that you have found yourself in. Lit by overhead lamps just like the room with the tanks, this one appears to be something of a warehouse, though here and there you can see what looks to be equipment – or rather, the remains of equipment. Boxes, barrels, sacks and other odder vessels were all stacked high in this room. Emphasis on were. Nearly all of those tall piles were felled like a tree by the explosion or its aftershocks. What paths there once were through this place have now been obstructed. There is nothing for it, you are going to have to pick your way across this fraying mess. Stifling some particularly choice oaths, start to move towards the center of the room. As you had feared, it is painfully slow going – figuratively, and your new too-tight boots, physically as well. In the back of your mind, there is a nagging fear that the floor underneath you might just give way under all of this weight, or that everything crashing together in here has mixed things that are best not to be mixed, or something. Anything. After the time you have here, is it any wonder that you are expecting the worst? But as you continue to push through this mess, nothing is happening. The floor – or the ceiling, for that matter – is not falling on you. There are no fires and excluding the white wisps that the lifting oil is putting off, there is no smoke in here either. There is even barely any sound in here, beyond the sounds of debris shifting underfoot and your exertions. Of course, it does not follow that this is some stroll through a pleasure garden. As someone who has been climbing for as long as they can remember, you know full well the importance of having sure footing, which is basically impossible to find on a pile of splintered wood. After two minutes you are not even a stone’s throw away from the door and you have jabbed more times than you care to count. You will probably have a forest worth of splinters in you by the time you are through. You continue to grouse, until it occurs to you that there could be men buried under these piles. Right now, you could be climbing over a corpse. It is a sobering thought, though not half as sobering as the one that follows, that perhaps this could have been the ultimate fate of the blinded survivors you cut loose. You know that your mind is just needling you, just like you know that you really did not have much of a choice with those three. If you had walked them all the way to safety, you would have not only risked being seen by rescuers, but there would have been a very good chance that the men would have picked up that something was wrong – that their savior had no idea how to find their way around the Refinery, or that they sounded somewhat feminine for a Refinery worker. You cannot fault yourself for walking away from them, after clearing off that hatch. It was perfectly reasonable.
So then why is this tearing up your insides? You try to push it out of your mind, and focus on moving … but climbing over practically endless piles is mindless enough that doing that is easier said that done. You sigh and try to distract yourself by wondering what time it is, and thinking of what else you could do tonight … which leads to you thinking about how much you need to do before you can leave the Mount. And that is really overwhelming, so to distract yourself from that, you go back to thinking about those men you sort of saved.It takes a half-dozen or so piles worth of climbing, clambering, shifting and sliding before you think you have an answer. Two answers actually. The first is fairly obvious. You do not know what happened to them, and in absence of any concrete knowledge, your admittedly guilty conscience is going to castigate you with malign musings. Of course, those men are not the only ones with an unknown fate. You have been doing a good job keeping your father out of your mind while you are plying your trade here, but … no, no you cannot do this to yourself. Not while you are still on the wharf – in fraying imminent danger of being seen, or worse, getting caught.That resolution does not last though – the going is simply to slow to prevent your mind from wandering. The other reason that you came up with was that you ended up in the middle ground, between the practical and the moral, with none of the benefits of either but some of the costs from both. The smart, or the practical thing to do would have been to walk by those men. You were making a leap of faith that they were blind. And even if they were, what if someone who was not saw something, or found something, and then connected it somehow to these men getting sort-of-saved. Contrarily, the good, or the moral thing to do would have been to see them to safety, regardless of whatever risk it might have presented to you. In the end, you took the middle road, which at the moment seems to have been the worst of the three options that were presented to you. Half measures and compromises. Just where the Hell have they gotten you? But perhaps you should not be so hard on yourself. You are in over your head, and you are doing the best you can – or at least trying to do the best you can. More than anything, you just want to talk to father again. He would tell you exactly what to do, and then that would be the end of it. No worrying, no fretting and definitely no second-guessing … which is basically all you have been doing since he woke you up five days ago to tell you that he was going out on …Pattern’s Perdition, how many times are you going to need to tell yourself to focus! Stop this bellyaching before you give yourself a fraying ulcer.
To keep your mind occupied, you pick up your pace, moving faster and faster over the rubble. You are really starting to exert yourself, and you are well on your way to collecting that forest worth of splinters, but it is worth it to keep you head screwed on right. You keep moving, only stopping once when you find a relatively stable dell in the detritus so you can reapply the lifting oil. Single minded. You need to be as single minded as an old mare with blinders on. This focus serves you well, because before too long, you have found another door. Or rather, the top third of a doorway, as the door itself is unaccounted for, presumably blown out by the collapse of the supplies, and two thirds of the doorway is buried under strewn-out supplies. Reinvigorated, you make your way over, stoop down, and stick your head through. For an embarrassingly long moment, you mistake the alley for yet another hallway, until you turn your head to the right and in the distance, looming out of the night and over the black harbor is the Mount, with the Promontory wreathed in fuzzy yellow lamplight. It is always a beautiful sight, but tonight, after what you have been through, seeing it is enough to move you to tears. You are not speaking figuratively, either you actually started tearing up and had to rub your eyes raw to get them to stop. After making sure that Strange-Staining was only activating on your clothes and nothing else, and that the coast (or rather, the harbor) was clear you set yourself to safely getting the jug of lifting oil extracted from the doorway. You manage, though the smoking and sparking seem to have picked up a little bit – perhaps the sea breeze? You follow the jug out, and you cautiously stand up. You can hear men running around, and the occasional order being barked, and while the is great sense of urgency, nothing in the words or the tone of those orders indicate panic or desperation. Is … is it over? Has this disaster been taken in hand? Well, ‘over’ and ‘in hand’ are probably too strong, but you would guess that those men giving the orders do not believe that there is any more imminent, or at least acute danger. Which is wonderful, except that it puts you in the same tight spot you were in when you first got here. From the gate to the first Refinery, there was decent concealment along the edge of the wharf provided by stacks of supplies. However, right after that, there is just this wide-open space in front of those massive bay doors. As you can already hear and even see men moving around over there, you know that you have no chance whatsoever of sneaking out that way. So, if that is out, then that means you would need to find some way to get back to where you were when all of this started, that horrible little room with all of the pipes, and then retrace your steps to leave the wharf. But that means getting back in the Refinery, which … you would sooner trepan yourself then go back in there.
What else is there? The service scaffolds underneath the wharf? No, heading underneath sounded dangerous before … whatever exactly happened tonight happened. You do not know if the scaffolds are still down there, let alone strong enough to hold your weight. You blow air through your teeth in frustration as you resign yourself to going back inside the Refinery. Before you do though, you try to judge where the room you just left ends and the tall room with the columns begins. You look all the way down to the corner of the Refinery, trying to compare that distance with your shaky mental image of the room. Unsure about it, you turn around, and intending to get the full breadth of the space. To your shock, nestled between the wood-and-steel hulks of the Refineries, is an open gate. From your position, it is hard to see, but sort of looks like there is something on the other side of it, some sort of … path? Is there another way off of Oiler’s Wharf? It is hard to constrain yourself. You want to just run right over there, but you need to remember that you are no longer alone, there are potential witnesses everywhere now. Though you do make your way as quietly as possible, you do have a serious spring in your step as you do. It is a long way back there, and by the end of it, you are praying that you were not seeing things. Blessedly, you were not. From the ass-end of this ‘alley’ there is a spur off of the wharf back to Stickport, where shabby houses and shabbier warehouses sit, beckoning you hither. You have to actually stifle laughter, as you nervously look back over your shoulder to make sure that no one has spotted you. Satisfied, you return your attention to the crooked little pier. The thing does not even have railings, so the minute you step out of the ‘alley’, you are going to be completely exposed. You fervently scan the shoreline, looking at each and every one of the houses that you can see. Many of them, despite the late (or rather, the earlier hour) have some of their lights on, which makes sense – something as spectacular as the destruction here would obviously draw onlookers like moths to a flame. The question is, how many of those moths are going to look away from the flame and towards this stretch of pier? You look over your shoulder at the sputtering, floating jug. The smoke has gotten a little better, but you are noticing now that the sparks are putting off quite of a bit of light. You are not sure if it is enough to be seen from the houses and tenements however, which are closer to the crude avenue of the Lower Boardwalk than the actual harbor … except for the housing right outside of the wharf for the Refinery workers, but that seems to have been evacuated. For a few moments, you seriously consider smothering out the oil, and just carrying the jug across … but not only would you still be out in the open, and as such, conspicuous, it would take several times longer if you had to carry it.
And that is assuming that you could carry it. It has been a long, long night, and now that you are not moving, you are realizing just how much of a mess you are at the moment. You are tired, you are hungry, you are thirsty, but above all, you are battered and sore.It would be a fine way to end the night if, just as you were about to get clear, your grip failed, and you dropped the oil into the bay. You almost laugh at that. Almost.So instead of smothering the oil, you take this opportunity to recoat the depression on top of the glass with the provided doling cup. As you do, you continue to scan the shoreline, looking for any other sources of potential witnesses. But by the time that the oil has been reinforced, you cannot see any. Instinctively, you know that if you are going to take this route, you should do it sooner rather than later, before anyone comes down this alley, trying to get into the Refinery through the door you crawled out of. As a final precaution, you wrestle the jug out in front of you, just in case if anything were to go wrong, you would have a chance to recover.And just like that, there is nothing else left but to leave.You pass through the wrought-iron gate. You would prefer to run this portion, to be done with it, but … grappling with the jug and running seems like a recipe for disaster, so you have to content yourself with a brisk walk. Still, the twin to the gate you passed through, the one that sits on the other side of this spur from the shore is getting closer and closer by the second. The smoke from the oil is tickling your nose, but compared to the fumes you were dealing with earlier, you barely notice.So … what do you do next? Well, obviously you want to get back to the Midden, but … Maker’s Mercy there is so much to do. You could take the time to start moving tonight. You doubt that you would be able to finish, but you could get a head start. Then there are the steel balls. With a little bit of effort, you could turn them into a ‘replacement’ graven ball, to plant into Aldoin’s coffin. Maybe, just maybe, that would be enough to keep the Inquisition from looking for you.Or … you could go to Aldoin’s house.Going there would not get you out of the Mount any sooner, nor would it improve your odds of making a clean break. In fact, it would be the opposite. The first time you went there, you were followed – at least until you got up onto a roof and started running for your life. If you get caught up in whatever is going on, forget making clean break, you might not even leave the city alive. But at the same time, the odds of you managing to reunite with father seem slim and look to be getting slimmer by the second. That house, as dangerous as it might be, and as tenuous as the connection between it and father is, is still your best bet for turning that trend around. In fact, if you are being realistic, it is the only bet you have of bucking that trend and keeping hope alive.
And even though you have no way to know for sure that father was involved with whatever happened at the house, it still is the best lead you have as to what father was doing, and by extension, where he might have gone. In fact, if you were being realistic, it is the only lead you have. The apartment –which again, you have no way of knowing if it was connected to him or not – has been Leadfired, along with the rest of the building and any hopes of you finding anything there. And the cock-pit – which not only do you not know if it was actually connected to him somehow, you do not even know which fraying cock-pit it was – has been seized by the Inquisition. Four fraying weeks ago! Which, now that you think about it … Father is an exceptionally cautious man. If he knew that the Inquisition had seized one of his constructs, he would have insisted that the two of you pack up and leave immediately. So, then that has to mean that he either did not know about the Inquisition finding his constructs … or they were not his constructs in – no, no what are you saying. If he knew that the Inquisition found anything that was made out of the same ‘materials’ that he works with, regardless of if he made the thing or not, he would have wanted to leave. So, he must not have known. Which seems to indicate that was not actually his construct … and in turn, that means there would have to be at least one other Witch living in Scrimshaw Mount, as the Master Abbot described the construct as being recently made, and in such matters, you would be willing to trust his judgement. Stars and Spheres, just what you need, something else to worry about. And without any more information, that is really all you can do about the prospect. Worry.Honestly, maybe you would be better served just spending what little time remains to you tonight taking care of yourself. Eat something. Take a bath. Try to salvage your dress. Sleep. Oh, Maker’s Mercy, wouldn’t that be wonderful? For just a few hours? You have another night – actually, depending on how you count your seven days, you could have two. And if you keep burning the candle at both ends, things are not going to get any easier for you. And they certainly have not been easy to start with. What is stopping you from just deciding to say ‘fray it’ and indulge yourself is the fear that you might not have another night. And if you wasted that precious time – Suddenly, from off to the side, you hear a bell, followed by barking. To tired to immediately comprehend what is going on, you turn your head, and you almost faint when you see between two warehouses on the shore a night watchman rushing towards you, with a sleek looking hound in tow. It is almost enough to make you cry. You were so close! So damned close! How did you miss him?
But all is not lost. Besides that dog, he is alone. And with all of the commotion on Oiler’s Wharf, he is going to have a real hard time getting anyone’s attention with that damned bell. Additionally, judging by his lack of uniform, he is a private guard, hired by one of the bonded warehouses located by the Refinery. That means he is a civilian … so unless he happens to be a Citizen who is slumming it on the waterfront, or he managed to get a dispensation, he is prohibited from carrying firearms on Port Authority land. Still … just as the law is not stopping you carrying one – or for that matter, stealing one – it follows that it might not have stopped him either. Not to mention, most Justiciars would be much more inclined to mercy if a prohibited weapon was used in defense of property … Well, if he does have a firearm, it is a pistol of some sort, and he is much too far away to hit you. The lantern rod he has is tipped in steel, but it is much less impressive than the pikes that you went up against earlier tonight. As you finish the last stretch of the spur, and leap to the mainland pier, you realize that you are seriously considering killing him. You could run. You know you could run – in fact, you would almost say that it is guaranteed that you could out run this clown, even as tired and encumbered as you are. But he has seen you. From a distance, of course, too far away to make out your face in the darkness … yet, he could probably give a guess as to how tall you were, which would be enough to tie whatever happened here to you knocking over the Euthyphro. Everything has been spiraling out of control, but if you can just stop it from getting any worse … you know what is safe, what is smart. And besides, you have already … killed … four men tonight. Honestly, what difference does one more make? None, that’s what. No difference at all. So why the Hell are you crying again?>Please choose ONE of the following: >Fight to kill (Initiates pre-combat)>Flee into the night (Initiates foot chase)
So, what the Hell happened here? Why did I repost the entire last thread? Basically, in thread four, my schedule imploded on itself, so instead of doing regular updates, I just ran rolls and votes with little blurbs, intending to write them up later. The idea was that I could keep the quest going, even though I did not have the time to properly run it. And it worked, at least, up until it was time to actually sit down and write what had been glossed over. I started back on the fourth thread. I wrote, fairly regularly through the last thread – which I will refer to as the Intermission Thread – and now, I am just finishing the backlog in the start of what I will refer to as the fifth thread. So, I learned my lesson. I’m really sorry the whole thing just ground to a halt. I was however able to take some time, and do some much needed editing on the passages, mostly on the flashback with Chlotsuintha’s parents, which I wrote much, much too quickly. None of the edits add any new content, except for properly explaining the duration mechanism of inked glyphs (as opposed to the fueled mechanisms of constructs and wands). If you have kept up to date with the quest, then there is nothing new to read, except for the last post and the last piece of the second to last post. I was also able to find some pictures to post as well. Rest of the quest can be found at: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Eternal%20Rome
>>5232342Wow QM, I did not expect the pictures! Phenomenal job as always!Ordinarily, I would comment that we need some bodies and flesh to stage our and Father’s death for a clean breakaway, but considering how loaded down we are currently, it’ll be a hassle to drag both of them, the loot, and the lifting oil, unless our gal could come up with a solution that won’t encumber us to death when traveling to our Tower. Alternatively, we could get his gun and boots from the exchange, and we can easily just knock him out and leave him alive as well. Really, this is just a choice about risk tolerance and exposure.>Flee into the night (Initiates foot chase)Ultimately, I think Chlot would take the risk and not kill this man, even if this severely complicates our ever-growing reputation as a thief. The only benefit we have is that we aren’t wearing our dress for this encounter, meaning they can’t directly connect the lift oil thief to the cross-dresser/large woman thief, though our size is still a factor to be weary of.Keep in mind, running is still a large risk. Dead men tell no secrets after all.
>Flee into the night (Initiates foot chase)
>>5232342>>Fight to kill (Initiates pre-combat)Failure is not an option. This will be quick.
>>5232350I would also just like to mention, that’s one hell of an intro. 50 uninterrupted posts? I feel sorry for that one anon who decided to wait until the update was finished to read this.
>>5232397That was me. Took like an hour, really should've gotten started on it before.
>>5232342>>Fight to kill (Initiates pre-combat)
>>5232342>Flee into the night (Initiates foot chase)We are still bleeding. Combat would connect Strangeness to a really tall person if there are any witnesses or from basic forenic analysis of our fighting style.
Hmm. Another tie. If I had just checked on this earlier ... Anyway, this is important enough that I am not willing to roll for this. Hopefully we can get another tiebreaker.
>>5232350>Flee into the night (Initiates foot chase)Haven't caught up yet since I decided maybe 2/3s of the way through the string of massive updates to wait it was all finished to start reading the rest, but this vote seems to need a tiebreaker and I've skimmed the last post.
Alright, consider this closed. Give me a minute to set up the chase.
> 5 of 8 lengths necessary to escape pursuit> DC 40: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Fleet of Foot, making an intermediate Athletics Test like this [Moderate]> + DC 6 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Tired II, and is not thinking as quickly as she should> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained II, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha had a temporary socket, and even after removal, it makes her entire right side stiffer than normal> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is ill-fitting, chafing breeches, something not particularly suited for this test> + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is over encumbered with swag, and as such cannot run long distances as well as she might have otherwise. > + DC 5 Watchman [Name Unknown] has Hound [Name Unknown] with him, making your escape marginally more difficult> + DC 4 Watchman [Name Unknown] is Fresh I, and is able to exert himself> - DC (5*6) Witchlet Chlotsuintha has a significant lead on Watchman [Name Unknown]> - DC 7 Watchman [Name Unknown] is not in good shape for long distance running> DC 34: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s). No hostile re-roll(s)]>No passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by two lengths. >One pass: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by one length. >Two passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by one length. >Three passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by two lengths. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha manages to get herself cornered in an alley somehow. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha manages to lose the pursuer immediately. >A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.
Rolled 9 (1d100)>>5233564Fun
Rolled 86 (1d100)>>5233564
Rolled 6 (1d100)>>5233564I guess to keep the quest moving…
>>5233571>>5233607I knew I should’ve waited, my luck turned Black today.
>>5233612>>5233607>>5233579>>5233571Well ... not the greatest of starts. But remember, it could have been worse! Anyway, the chase continues down the salt-encrusted wharves and piers of the Stickport waterfront. As this is the first leg of the chase, there are no changes, except that the Watchman is no longer Fresh I, and the bonus from your lead has dropped a bit. Just keep in mind that you cannot keep this up forever - Chlotsuintha has had a hard night, not to mention, the lifting oil that you have working on the jug is not going to last forever ... > 4 of 8 lengths necessary to escape pursuit> DC 40: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Fleet of Foot, making an intermediate Athletics Test like this [Moderate]> + DC 6 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Tired II, and is not thinking as quickly as she should> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained II, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha had a temporary socket, and even after removal, it makes her entire right side stiffer than normal> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is ill-fitting, chafing breeches, something not particularly suited for this test> + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is over encumbered with swag, and as such cannot run long distances as well as she might have otherwise. > + DC 5 Watchman [Name Unknown] has Hound [Name Unknown] with him, making your escape marginally more difficult> - DC (5*5) Witchlet Chlotsuintha has a significant lead on Watchman [Name Unknown]> - DC 7 Watchman [Name Unknown] is not in good shape for long distance running> DC 35: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s). No hostile re-roll(s)]>No passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by two lengths. >One pass: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by one length. >Two passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by one length. >Three passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by two lengths. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha manages to get herself cornered in an alley somehow. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha manages to lose the pursuer immediately. >A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.
Rolled 94 (1d100)>>5233665
>>5233670God dayum! What are the chances?
Rolled 45 (1d100)>>5233665
>>52336731 in 10,000>>5233669>>5233670>>5233676Doing much better now! Unfortunately, Chlotsuintha is starting to run out of waterfront, so sooner or later she is going to have to hang a left and head into Stickport. Hopefully she can lose the Watchman in this next leg, because there are dead ends in between some of those warehouses. > 7 of 8 lengths necessary to escape pursuit> DC 40: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Fleet of Foot, making an intermediate Athletics Test like this [Moderate]> + DC 6 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Tired II, and is not thinking as quickly as she should> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained II, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha had a temporary socket, and even after removal, it makes her entire right side stiffer than normal> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is ill-fitting, chafing breeches, something not particularly suited for this test> + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is over encumbered with swag, and as such cannot run long distances as well as she might have otherwise. > + DC 5 Watchman [Name Unknown] has Hound [Name Unknown] with him, making your escape marginally more difficult> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Winded I> - DC (7*5) Witchlet Chlotsuintha has a significant lead on Watchman [Name Unknown]> - DC 7 Watchman [Name Unknown] is not in good shape for long distance running> - DC 4 Watchman [Name Unknown] is now Winded I> DC 25: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s). No hostile re-roll(s)]>No passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by two lengths. >One pass: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by one length. >Two passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by one length. >Three passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by two lengths. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha manages to get herself cornered in an alley somehow. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha manages to lose the pursuer immediately. >A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.
Rolled 36 (1d100)>>5233681
Rolled 73 (1d100)>>5233681
>>5233693>>5233692Alright! So long as the last one is not a Critical or Near-Critical Failure, you are out of the woods! May our luck run white!
Rolled 41 (1d100)>>5233698You're gonna jinx it.
>>5233714Ye of little faith. Anyway, that is that. I am going to head out to get dinner, then I have some work to do. I should be able to get the update out tonight. In the mean time, here is the next vote:>Please choose ONE of the following:>Find someplace to stash your swag, and head straight to Aldoin's House, to give you as much time as possible.>Return to the Midden, drop off your swag, and then head to Aldoin's House.>Return to the Midden, and start moving out of the Belfry tonight. >Return to the Midden, and start work on a decoy graven ball.>Reasonable write-ins allowed with QM approval
>>5233734>>Return to the Midden, get something to eat, wash up, and head to bed.
>>5233752I knew I forgot something. This is an option.
>>5233734I forgot so much in the long wait, why did we want to go to Aldoin's house and make a decoy ball? Something about investigations and throwing the inquisitors off our trail?Do we have everything we need to move out? Or were we just waiting on the dresses?>Return to the Midden, get something to eat, wash up, and head to bed.We are tired as fuck and we've got some pretty big debuffs, lets sleep, we've done a lot.
>>5233889>I forgot so much in the long wait, why did we want to go to Aldoin's house and make a decoy ball? Something about investigations and throwing the inquisitors off our trail?You are on the right track. The Coroners, who worked with Aldoin's body, were directly exposed to dangerous levels of the Strangeness. Eventually, symptoms of exposure are going to manifest, and the Inquisition is going to trace the contagion back to the Morgue, which is (presumably) smothered in the Strangeness, released through Aldoin's body by the graven steel ball. Obviously, the Inquisition is going to interrogate the Coroners, and at least one of them knows something about the graven steel ball, and correctly assumed that it was magical, or at the very least, Strange (you know they know this because you found the thing sealed up in a pouch of salt). The Inquisition's immediate response is going to be to recover and Mitigate that ball, which the Coroner(s) will have told them is still sealed up in the coffin ... except that it is not, because you took it. From there, the next obvious step is for them to investigate anyone who was alone with the coffin for an extended period of time, after it left the Morgue ... which makes you the sole suspect. And it is not a matter of just digging up the coffin and placing the ball inside in another pouch of salt, because you magically Mitigated the ball, and anyone who knows what to look for could see that. The idea with the balls is that if you were to create a sufficiently Strange decoy, and then place it inside the coffin, the Inquisition would assume that they found the ball responsible for the mess at the Morgue, and Aldoin's house.As for Aldoin's house, because of the Strangeness present inside and out, and the fact that Aldoin must have died at some point in the three to four day period that your father said he was going to be out stealing something 'very valuable' with some of his 'professional friends', you think that it is possible that Aldoin was involved somehow. Possibly as the mark, possibly as one of the 'professional friends'. As of right now, the condition of the house is unknown to the Inquisition, which means that you still have a chance to find some sort of clue as to what happened there, unlike the third story apartment across the street from the South Burying Grounds, which the Inquisition got to first.
>>5233933Ah, thank you for the reminder. I think working with Strangeness is dangerous with our frayed mental state, especially since even if creating a fake lead ball is easier than learning the entirely unfamiliar spell that it held we'd still be doing something we presumably aren't familiar with in a tired state.Going to Aldoin's house might only be a quick stop, we may even be able to make it back in take for a half-decent sleep before work. However, it just isn't worth it in my opinion, our tiredness means the investigation would be troublesome, we may have to deal with occupants of the house, and we'd have to avoid patrols possibly up to three times once back up to the belfry, then on the way to the house, then back again. As I recall we may still have some hostile rerolls in that area, I'd hate to risk it.We are soooo close to escaping, I personally don't want to do anything else other than escape, maybe it is worth it to fake the musket ball and put it back in the coffin to throw off the super-autist Sherlock Holmes-esque motherfuckers off our trail.Honestly, I expect them to figure it out regardless eventually anyways. We just have to travel far enough that the trail of witnesses to our figure results in a more and more unclear description of us and where we are headed and then eventually even if they catch up with us they won't be sure if we are just some random tall woman or what, they haven't seen our face as far as I recall.
>>5233734>Find someplace to stash your swag, and head straight to Aldoin's House, to give you as much time as possible.This may very well be our only chance at seeing Father, before the Inquisition find the Strangeness and burns the place down. We can rest after we get this shit sorted out.Besides, we do need another clean dress to go out in to get our proper clothes. Our old patchwork, bloody, Strange, and shit-stained dress just ain’t gonna cut it lads.
I'll leave this up for another hour, then I will close it. If returning to the Midden wins, there is going to have to be a secondary vote, which means that I probably will not be able to get the update out tonight.
>>5233981First, the house is our only chance to see our Father again. Even if it does add to our current burden, I think Chlot would think it well worth the effort spent, and we may not get a chance like this again to find our Father, so I think a quick stop is well warranted and worth it.Second, we’re going to put the fake-Strange ball in, if only to make it harder for Inquisitor Homes here to figure us out as a witch, and every second they are not busy chasing us is a second more of a clean breakaway from this clusterfuck, which is worth every tenth-piece.
>>5233923I'll change to>Find someplace to stash your swag, and head straight to Aldoin's House, to give you as much time as possible.
Well, it would not be one of my quests if I was not forgetting to close votes when I said I would. Of the five votes cast, the majority are for calling it quits for the night. Which leads into the secondary vote I mentioned.Does Chlotsuintha decide to malinger to get the day off? The timing of it might call the legitimacy of your 'illness' into question (the day after publicly humiliating your boss), but it would go a long way to giving you the time you need to put your affairs in order. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Take the day for yourself. Maker knows you need it. >Depending on how tonight pans out, this could be your last day. Might as well go.
>>5234616Hard choice, knowing those inquisitors they'd follow up on literally everything and not want us to take even a single day off so we can investigate our boss (or whatever it was that we were supposed to do)) but we have the excuse of our father being ill. That wouldn't hold up should they actually choose to visit us though.On the other hand, the benefits of skipping work are pretty big, we'd be well rested for any nighttime activities like putting the fake lead ball back in the coffin, we could pick up our dresses, we could research the necessary things we'd actually need to create the fake Strange musket ball, if we are willing to risk a daytime excursion we could visit Aldoin's house.I just think the risks of someone following up on visiting us are too high even if I think that realistically they wouldn't after only one day and knowing our father is sick.That being said, being in proximity to others (especially inquisitors) could be dangerous if we do decide to go to work, we are still tired and may slip up, or there could be residue from the factory that we haven't had the mind to clear off.We do still owe our colleague that coin though.I write all of this stream of consciousness style, but after thinking it over briefly I think no one is going to really suspect us enough to climb up our tower and intrude on us, nor outright make the intuitive leap that anything that happened was us. We didn't outright fail or roll only 1 success on any of our interactions with the inquisitors as far as I remember, and they'll be too busy investigating the explosion and everything else from last night and their ongoing investigations that they won't suspect us.>Take the day for yourself. Maker knows you need it.
>>5234616>>Take the day for yourself. Maker knows you need it.
>>5234616>Take the day for yourself. Maker knows you need it. maybe we can start on that graven ball business.I still think it's very important.
>>5234616>>Take the day for yourself. Maker knows you need it.If anything, publicly humiliating the Septon gives Chlot a good and reasonable mundane excuse to lay low.
>>5234616>Depending on how tonight pans out, this could be your last day. Might as well go.We did leave the slab on the grave a bit messed up just in case, didn’t we?
>>5234772We voted against doing that.
>>5234806Again, our past actions continuously fuck is up. I honestly thought we went forward with messing it up a bit just in case we decided to go back later.
No, no you cannot. You are not a killer… at least, not by choice.But as soon as that thought crosses your mind, you recognize it for what it is. Cope. Blasphemous cope. For those born into the Covenant, there is always a choice. And tonight, you made that choice. So then what difference does it make for you if you were to kill this idiot?Is it because you know you made the wrong choice? Is that what is staying your hand?Without another thought, you start running. You cannot worry about this now, and if you are ever going to figure this out, you are going to have survive this night. Regardless of whatever is the smart or right thing to do here, you instinctively know that you simply do not have the stomach for killing at the moment, nor the white-hot, quivering dread that spurred you to violence at the palisade.You find that the more you run, the better you feel about choosing to run. After all, you let the captain live, and he saw much more than this fool ever will, Pattern willing. A distinction should be made, however, between feeling good about choosing to run, and feeling good about running. The boots that you stole, which have been pinching you since the moment you slid them onto your feet have now progressed to biting and gnawing. The swag is flopping around and slapping you with every stride. Your ruined dress is weighted down with enough purloined payroll that when it slams into your bust it is almost enough to take your breath away. Similar issue with the satchel carrying the books, and the duck-foot pistol. They both swing freely around your waist, and sometimes wind up in front of you, screwing up your stride. And the lifting oil … it feels as if it is going to wrench your shoulder right out of its socket. Actually, considering how much that shoulder hurts, it is possible that it already has.You allow yourself one quick glance over your shoulder, and you nearly miss your stride in shock when you see that the watchman has somehow managed to gain on you! Pattern’s Perdition, you must have taken too much time to decide. Starting to panic, you snap your head back and lean into a full sprint. All you need to do here is to put enough distance between you and him, then duck in-between or even into one of the warehouses here. The salt encrusted wharves start to whip by. Your footfalls seem as if they are echoing your heartbeats, or perhaps it is the other way around.Once the seawalls start to loom out of the night, you know that you are going to be running out of harbor shortly. You hang a left, and dash between a particularly shabby looking warehouse and a fenced off chain maker’s yard. But even once you are out of your pursuer’s sight, or rather, you presume that you are out of his sight, you do not slow down – in fact, you actually find it in yourself to speed up. If he is following close enough behind, and you get into a dead end, then having a few extra seconds could be a matter of life and death.
> DC 33: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is a Born and Bred Sneakthief, making a basic Stealth Test like this [Easy]> + DC 7 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Hard to Miss, given her size> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Known in the Midden> + DC 6 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Tired II, and is not thinking as quickly as she should> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained II, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha had a temporary socket, and even after removal it makes her entire right side stiffer than normal> + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is over encumbered with swag, and as such cannot run long distances as well as she might have otherwise> - DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has Complete Knowledge of the Midden> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in unlit area at night> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in an area with some concealment> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in a poorly trafficked area> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has successfully managed a similar stealth test recently> DC 26: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s) available. Guards are on high alert; they have one hostile re-roll available]>No Passes: Taking a swing at the Bat! One of the patrols recognizes you and gives chase! >One Pass: A Strange Shadow. One of the patrols sees something and gives chase!>Two Passes: A Strange Sound. One of the patrols hears something, and the guards focus in on this area. Next roll in the Midden has two hostile re-rolls.>Three Passes: A Quiet Night. No one sees or hears anything. You slip right through.>If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha hurts herself at the initial part of the chase. [Auto-fail] >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha finds a weak point in the patrols. [Auto-pass]>A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.>Three rolls of 1d100 please!
Oh, and I should mention that the vote on whether or not to go into work is still open
Rolled 13 (1d100)>>5234926
Rolled 75 (1d100)>>5234926
Rolled 33 (1d100)>>5234926We’re basically dead.>>5234929If we manage to survive this encounter, going to work would allow us to potentially open the gravestone without much suspicion.
Rolled 9 (1d100)Rerolling!
>>5234969Hmm. Not optimal. Luckily, you haven't been seen. At this point, the Guards are figuratively and actually chasing your shadow.
>4 of 6 lengths necessary to escape pursuit>At 2 lengths apart, the Guards are close enough to recognize that you are carrying lifting oil>At 1 length apart, the Guards are close enough to identify you> DC 40: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Fleet of Foot, making an intermediate Athletics Test like this [Moderate]> + DC 6 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Tired II, and is not thinking as quickly as she should> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained II, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha had a temporary socket, and even after removal, it makes her entire right side stiffer than normal> + DC 1 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is ill-fitting, chafing breeches, something not particularly suited for this test> + DC 2 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has hurt her feet in her stolen boots, reducing her speed> + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is over encumbered with swag, and as such cannot run long distances as well as she might have otherwise. > + DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is carrying active lifting oil, which smokes and sparks > - DC (4*5) Witchlet Chlotsuintha has a significant lead on Watchman [Name Unknown]> - DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has complete knowledge of the Midden> - DC 3 Guard [Name Unknown] is encumbered by the bulk and weight of his pike> - DC 5 Guard [Name Unknown] is light blind at the moment> - DC 10 Guard [Name Unknown] is encumbered by his armor> DC 21: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s). No hostile re-roll(s)]>No passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by two lengths. >One pass: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] decreases by one length. >Two passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by one length. >Three passes: The distance between Witchlet Chlotsuintha and Watchman [Name Unknown] increases by two lengths. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha manages to get herself cornered in an alley somehow. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha manages to lose the pursuer immediately. >A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.
Rolled 36 (1d100)>>5235024
Rolled 25 (1d100)>>5235024
Rolled 93 (1d100)>>5235024Yolo
>>5235027>>5235051>>5235065Phew! Chlotsuintha is able to escape pursuit, and just as it was earlier, she does not encounter anymore guards once she is away from the palisade. She returns to the Belfry without further incident, and retires for what remains of the night. While I work on that update, I am going to open voting for what she does once she wakes up in the morning. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Move everything you can out of the Belfry and into the ruined sewer>Make a decoy graven ball - you will need to wait until night to plant it>Leave the Midden and investigate Aldoin's House (Requires Stealth Test)
>>5235077>Leave the Midden and investigate Aldoin's House (Requires Stealth Test)We need to get clothes, and we’ll work on the decoy ball after we search Aldoin’s House for Father’s whereabouts.
>>5235077>Move everything you can out of the Belfry and into the ruined sewer
>>5235077>>Make a decoy graven ball - you will need to wait until night to plant itI imagine it would be better to wait to move things until night, no?
>>5235077>Make a decoy graven ball - you will need to wait until night to plant itStealth is better conducted at night, throwing the inquisitors off our trail is a priority, we need the graven ball for that, which may take time to make if we fail. I don't want to move our stuff into the sewer, isn't that down the well or is that a different hiding spot? Didn't someone spot us going down the well? Plus, if it is somewhere that we have to climb down into then we'd need the lifting oil to get it out again and into the carriage for when we leave.
>>5235077>>Make a decoy graven ball - you will need to wait until night to plant it
>>5235077>>Leave the Midden and investigate Aldoin's House (Requires Stealth Test)
Three votes for making the decoy ball, two votes for heading to Aldoin's House, and one vote for getting a head start on the move. I will get to writing after dinner. There should be something up tonight, but I am not sure if I will be all caught up.
>>5235077>Make a decoy graven ball - you will need to wait until night to plant itanything that will give us a few extra days until the inquisition catches on is time worth spent. Don't want those fucking needleswords breathing on our neck as we run.
After another solid minute of sprinting, you finally allow yourself to slow down, only because you feel as if you are going to vomit, and you are worried about leaving traces of the Strangeness behind. You are tempted to get off of the crude plank streets while you recover, but to do so would necessitate breaking into one of the nearby warehouses, which you would rather leave alone, for the moment. The warehouses around you at the moment are not bonded, just privately or guild owned, and as such, are less secure. But less secure is not unsecure, and you have already had one encounter with a watchman, you have no desire to run into more. So instead, you make do with a sufficiently dark corner. As you pant, catching your breath, you notice that the sharp salt air around here carries a strong whiff of soot with it. At first, you think that it has to be from the Refinery, but then you realize that you are just smelling yourself. Once your breathing becomes marginally less ragged, you stand up out of your crouch, intending to continue moving, only for your head to start spinning like a top … and for you to belatedly realize that you still have not decided what you should do next, which will decide where you are heading. Not wanting to waste time, you decide to refuel the lifting oil in the divot in the top of the jug. When you get the doling cup out, you notice for the first time that your hands are shaking. Steading them, you measure out more oil to refresh the reaction, and carefully pour it in … only to realize a second too late that you used about three times more than you actually needed. The oil in the depression is now flush with the rest of the glass, meaning that you are liable to spill it if the jug moves at all. And with the jug currently attempting to fall upwards, you cradling it in your arms is the only thing that is keeping that from happening. To put it bluntly, you are stuck. You have to stay put until enough of the slick red oil is consumed that it is safe to move once more. Out of all of the stupid mistakes! You consider trying to get to your pocket lantern, to use the snap-sparker on it to try to get the oil to cook off faster, but when you start to shift yourself to try, the fraying jug starts to slip loose from your grasp. You are able to get your arms back around the glass without making a mess, but any relief you might have felt from that is completely smothered by the irritation that this has happened, and the fear that you are going to somehow get caught out here. In the end, you had to watch the oil sputter away to a safe level – and getting a face full of sparks and smoke did not improve your mood. However, by the time that you are comfortable enough moving the jug again, you have at least decided that you are going to call it a night. Your making stupid mistakes, you got aches all over, and you are running on probably less than two hours of sleep you took … what, twenty hours ago?
Continuing to push yourself like this is just asking for trouble. You get your feet underneath you once again, and stand up, much more cautiously this time. Your business on the waterfront is concluded – it is high time that you returned to the Midden. As the crow flies, you are not that far at all … but you are not a crow. And that is not even considering the fact that you do not want to be seen at the moment. The cat might be out of the bag about someone knocking over the Gothorum Lifting Oil Refinery while it was going to the Heights in a handbasket, but if someone was to trace the sparking, smoking swag back to the Midden …So what should have been a few minutes worth of walking under normal circumstances, gets stretched into about twenty minutes, maybe half an hour of circuitous sneaking before the familiar bulk of the palisade looms out of the darkness. Up ahead, you can hear the sounds of a patrol doing the perimeter, so, deciding to play it safe, you hunker down, out of their sight. As they pass, they are close enough that you can see that they look edge – heads swiveling, hands on weapons. While this is not ‘proof positive’, you take their body language to mean that the remains of the four guards and the smugger have been found. Suddenly, you can feel the vibrations shooting up your arm again, but it only lasts a moment.The mental image that is beckoned by it however, the one of you clubbing unconscious men to death, of how the black lacquer of the stub-club took on a darker, richer luster once it was covered in blood … that lasts much longer that just a moment. In fact, it lasts long enough by the time that you can finally force it from your mind, the patrol has passed from sight. Sickened by those images, you seek to keep them out by continuing to move, so you spring out of hiding, and make for the fence with as much speed as you dare.Yet the belt around the palisade stretches wide in this segment, and the moon is glaring down at you, bright and angry. You know that something is wrong, though it takes you several strides to realize that in your desperate bid to block out those terrible scenes, you have left cover much, much to early. Feeling like a fool you consider pressing onwards anyway, but you decide against it. Turning about face, you dash back into cover.You get clear of the perimeter belt and come to a stop once more. While you stare intently at the great wooden stakes, you find yourself breathing heavy, jitterily shaking, clearly nerves from what could have been a complete disaster. You still yourself once you notice that your shaking is making the payroll and steel balls tumble and jingle in their purses and your pockets … only to find that once you have stopped, you can still hear metallic clattering,Footfalls again, further in the distance. Either the next patrol or a straggler. But whoever it is, judging from the noise, they are running this way.
Once again, you run. You have no idea what – if anything – this guard has glimpsed, but you know that things will only get worse if you stick around. Under other circumstances, you might have tried to hide, but with the floating, smoking, sparking and intermittently popping glassware over your shoulder, you figure that speed, not stealth, is what will get you out of this. Of course, that does not mean you can just blindly bullrush away, like you did earlier down at the wharves – no, you are going to need to think through every step if you want to stay out of sight. You do know this area, though, and you know it well. Possibly better than the guard does, though you know that it would be a dangerous folly to count on that. Still, you are comfortable enough with the surroundings here that even in your spent state, you are able to think on your feet. Even though you are not able to get up to the speeds that you were running at earlier, you get the sense right from the start that this chase is going really well. You feel that your pacing is solid, and there is not the danger of other guards getting involved this time, as there should not be any in these surrounding areas, and your pursuer does not seem to have a bell or a horn. In fact, you have not heard him try to yell for help, but you suppose you could have just missed that. No, despite everything, you are doing well. The irregular streets screen you from view, and in between the tall workhouses here, very little moonlight reaches the ground. Once you are comfortable that you have built up enough of a lead, you swing wide to double back to the Midden. After checking to make sure that the way is clear of any other patrols, you get up and over the palisade and into the Midden proper. The rest of the way to the Not-Temple is uneventful … but once you get to the belltower, and see that the winch-platform is down you almost pass out from shock, thinking that someone has been in the Belfry during your absence, until you remember that you left the fraying thing down when you used it to haul the body out of the Belfry.At first, that realization brings relief, until it occurs to you that you being the one who left if down does not rule out the possibility that someone could have winched themselves up into the Belfry and just walked around, sightseeing so much incriminating evidence. You look at the platform dumbly. How could you – no, how could anyone possibly be so fraying stupid? You get it now. Why father was so hesitant for so long to teach you anything, to tell you anything, to take you with him on even the simplest of jobs. You are worthless. No, no you are worse than worthless. You are a liability. But you cannot get yourself worked up over it right now. For all you know, someone could have gone up there, decided to lie in wait for you, and lower the platform back down to trick you. You get your wand out, and reset the socket in your arm.
The needle hurts like a bitch, especially with the rocking of the winch-platform on the way up, but there really is not anything for it. The belltower is as dark as it ever gets, only sporadically illuminated by the sparks from the spluttering oil, but as you get closer and closer to the hatch, you feel more and more dread. It is perverse, really. The Belfry has been the one place in the Mount – no, in the world that you have ever felt properly safe in. And now … you do not think that you have ever been more scared about the prospect of entering a room in your entire life. In a moment of carelessness, you have spoiled your sanctuary. Oh, to be sure, you are probably jumping at shadows here, not to mention that if all goes well this could very well be the last night that you sleep here … but as a memory, as an idea, it is never going to be an unassailable haven again, never going to be special like it was. It is just going to be one in a long line of bolt holes of varying security that you and father have squatted in over the years. Ah! Damn these womanly histrionics to the Pits! What does it matter if the memory is tainted or not if you are not alive to recall it, huh? You are seriously considering slapping yourself, when it suddenly occurs to you that if you suspected that someone potentially set up an ambuscade for you in the Belfry, then you would have been much better served by unencumbering yourself and then climbing up the tower silently and going in through one of the windows … not to mention, if someone was in there, all they would have to do would be to break the other half of the winch and you would plummet to your death. You actually start convulsing with anger at how stupid you have been. At the rate you are going, if you survive these next few days it will be because of nothing more than dumb luck. It takes you a moment, but you get your head screwed back on properly, then you finish the ascent, swearing under your breath and grinding your teeth the whole time. With the jug pressing up against the hatch, you do what you can to calm yourself before in one desperate moment you throw wide the hatch and lunging up into the main room of the first-floor wand first. Swaying wildly from the unexpected violence of your departure, the winch-platform batters itself back and forth against the floor underneath you, the thuds of the impact echoing up and down the belltower. Beyond that, the room is quiet, and the space is still, save for the spitting of the oil and the bobbing of the jug. However, it is dark in here, and the light from the sparks, though limited, has been enough to keep your eyes from adjusting completely. What you can see does not look like it has been disturbed, but you have been making so many mistakes, how can you trust yourself to make that judgement?
Still, no attacker materializes from the darkness. You start to look for a lamp, then you remember you now have a pocket lantern. Once you get it ablaze, you start the search. It takes frustratingly long, but eventually you are satisfied that there is no one besides you in the Belfry. Still on edge, you return to the main room and wait for the oil to completely cook off. That at least, does not take long. As the jug starts to waver and settle down, you take it in hand, and you ease it down to the floor.You light some olive oil lamps, and then grab one of the emmerloaves you bought the other day. But when you look at the rock hard bread you cannot muster the energy to gnaw at it at the moment. So instead, you stare at the jug. The fat lump of ugly green glass. You should be celebrating – happy at the very least. So why aren’t you? What is wrong?… On second thought, what isn’t wrong?The fear is gone, at least for now, but all that has replaced it is exhaustion. More than anything else, you want to fall asleep, but before you do that you should really take a bath. Between the shit, smoke, sludge, and salt you are an absolute mess. You grab two of the blood tubs of water and haul them, one under each arm over into the corner where the tub sits. You then head into your room, and finally you can properly unencumber yourself. You fling the great coat from your shoulders, only then realizing just how hot and sweaty you really are. Mmph. A bath is definitely needed, especially if you are going to be out in polite society tomorrow to pick up your dresses, and possibly to investigate Aldoin’s house.Moving along, you set the remains of your dress, still sinched together right next to the pillowcases and loose coins from the Euthyphro knock-down. The satchel ends up right next to you bedroll. You doubt that you will have time to read the books any time soon, but the idea of keeping your new books by your bed just feels right, somehow. The duck-foot and its belt also go by your bed, right next to the uncommonly broad smallsword. Your knives join them, and after some serious consideration, you also put your wand down next to them as well. After you are done wincing from the removal of the socket, you pluck out the viable fuel modules, keeping the partially depleted and Strange ones still in your pocket-jerkin … which comes off next. Once you have set that aside, as to not mix it in with the rest of your clothes, you finish stripping down.The feeling of getting out of those tight breeches is best you have felt all night … at least until you take the boots off. It feels so good that you actually feel a little lightheaded. You have to keep the stockings on however, otherwise your footfalls would leave Strangeness behind. Before you go to take your bath, you temporarily suppress Strange-Staining, so you can properly get a look at your clothes, as their condition is hard to make out under all of the shifting Stains.
Stars and Spheres … they might not be only fit for rags yet, but they are well on their way there. You doubt you will ever be able to truly get those stains out. Especially the bloodstain on the shoulders of the shirt. When the Hell did that happen, anyway? Well … regardless to whatever losses you may have suffered to your wardrobe tonight, you still have one dress left. It was a little tight the last time you wore it, and more than a little short as well, but it should serve long enough for you to pick up your commissioned dresses today. Once you have those in hand, you can make a decision on what to do with these. Wearing only the sweat and smoke-stained stockings, you pad out of your room and to the bath, picking up the emmerloaf on your way. A hot bath would be wonderful, but you do not have the time to heat up the water, not to mention that there is not that much left of the faggot. Comfort, if it is a concern at all, is secondary. The important thing here is to get clean. You fill up the tub, scrounge around for the soap and the washrag, and then you slip in, leaving your stockings on, as to prevent the spread of the Strangeness once you leave the bath. As you commence to scrubbing, you are suddenly struck by the feeling that you are somehow forgetting something. But try as you might, you cannot think of anything. You chalk it up to nerves, and you continue cleaning. You make good progress. By the time that you have gotten yourself as clean as you are going to get, your rag, bathwater and the tub have been covered by Strange-Stains, though thankfully, none of them are communicable. You get out of the bath, meticulously drying yourself off before stepping out of the tub to prevent or at least retard the spread of the Strangeness. It takes some doing, but you eventually manage to tear off a manageable chunk of the loaf. You pour yourself a drink of water, and then you take your refreshments into your bedroom after blowing out the lamps. You lie down on the roll and cover yourself up with your sheet. After thinking about it for a solid minute while sipping and gnawing, you decide that you would best served by reporting in as sick, then using the time to get a graven decoy ball made. You have to look to your future, and right now, planting a replacement ball in Aldoin’s coffin is your best bet for keeping the Inquisition off of your trail. You squirm under the sheet as it settles over the contours of your body. You are as comfortable as you are going to get on your mat, you have eaten, you have bathed, you have a drink, and you are tired and aching all over. So why are you not falling straight to sleep? You were half worried that you would pass out in the tub, and catch a cold in the process. The answer does come to you in time, though it is not one that you care for. Guilt. You have done terrible things tonight. And now, you are all alone, naked, in the dark – in a place that feels much less safe than it used to.
The sudden urge to pray sweeps over you … but in your current state, you do not feel worthy. No, before you can pray, you need to atone. But with transgressions as serious as yours, you are not going to be able to confess your sins to anyone, nor will some paltry act of penance balance the scales. No, you are going to need to swear an Oath, on the sanctity of your soul, to the Patternmaker Himself. But what do you swear?>Please choose ONE of the following: >Balancing the Scales. You swear out an Oath to bring four peace to four murdered souls by bringing four different murderers to justice, one for each of the lives that you took. Getting involved in the law might be dangerous, considering your legal status, but of the Oaths that you can think of tonight, this is the most flexible.>An Early, Semi-Retirement. You swear out an Oath to never desecrate the body of anyone who has been born into to the Covenant again, nor will you steal from their graves. More so, whatever excess wealth you accumulate going forward, you will spend on living oblations to be burn on the behalf of those whose bodies and graves you have already defiled. You will do this until you have burnt four oblations for every single body, which works out to be something like four hundred of them. [Note: this Oath does not extend to the bodies or to the graves of anyone not born into the Covenant] >Suspicious Service. You swear out an Oath to use your skills at healing to help all those who come to you for aid, for at least the next four years, one for each life you took. You will turn no one away that you are able to help, regardless of if they cannot pay, or if their affliction is dangerous to you, nor will you charge anyone more than the material cost for your work. The whole ‘woman, living by herself, working as an unaffiliated healer’ thing really screams Witch, but the Inquisition’s reach and knowledge is not absolute. If you keep your head down, you should be able to make it work. >Shooting Star. You swear out an Oath to become an Idoloclast, a religious adventurer also known as a Shooting Star. You, either by yourself or with other like-minded individuals, will venture into the lands of the Cimmaroons, where you will search for four different Great Idols, one for each life you took. To be considered a Great Idol, it has to be a significant font of worship for a pagan faith. By whatever means you can, you will take them, and haul them back to the Principalities, where you will give them to a Temple as an oblation. Note: None of these Oaths are time sensitive. So long as Chlotsuintha is making a good faith effort to work toward completion of her chosen Oath, she will not have forsworn herself. These Oaths are long term affairs, something to be done in addition to learning and developing magic, not instead of.
>>5238754Actually, if possible, I’d like to do both the Balancing the Scales and the Shooting Star Oath, because I find both options intriguing. If that isn’t possible, then Shooting Star sounds the most adventurous.
>>5238775I don't see any reason why Chlotsuintha could not just combine Oaths either.
>>5238779Then I’d like to combine both.>>5238773>Combine Balancing the Scales and Shooting StarI also think we should try our best to heal the sick, I just don’t want to forcibly out ourselves as a witch because of the oath.
>>5238773>Suspicious Service. You swear out an Oath to use your skills at healing to help all those who come to you for aid, for at least the next four years, one for each life you took. You will turn no one away that you are able to help, regardless of if they cannot pay, or if their affliction is dangerous to you, nor will you charge anyone more than the material cost for your work. The whole ‘woman, living by herself, working as an unaffiliated healer’ thing really screams Witch, but the Inquisition’s reach and knowledge is not absolute. If you keep your head down, you should be able to make it work.This is the best thing we could do I believe. A life for a life.
>>5238809In all honesty, I’d rather our oaths be proactive rather than reactive, and I think player agency has a lot to do with it. We can’t control our reputation or who washes up on our doorstep, but we can control how to tackle bringing justice to murderers and our Shooting Star adventures.
>>5238661Must. Not. Hornypost.>>5238773>Balancing the scalesI don't really want to contribute to the destruction of religious iconography. Especially not when said iconography is likely to be magical and/or metaphysically significant. I WOULD love to see the rest of not!america, but if we become a Shooting Star Chlot will inevitably realise that the natives aren't soulless animals and still have to ruin their Idols because she staked her soul on it.Unless Trash did le epic subversion and the Cimaroons ARE soulless. I find it really hard to believe though, since they clearly have religious beliefs different to the not!romans, implying that the Church isn't necessarily sitting on the unadulterated truth.
>>5238773>Combine Balancing the Scales and Shooting StarMixing Sherlock Homes and Indiana Jones? What’s not to love about this combination?
>>5238773I'm really torn.Suspicious Service is a classic and really goes well with making up for what we've done, but it isn't terribly interesting on its own even if it brings complications. Is Trash gonna have us go through the next four years of our life dealing with the various problems this oath brings us?Balancing the Scales also seems like it goes well with making up for what we've done and each murder case could be individually interesting, it just lacks the Shooting Star's call to adventure and exploration aspect, though I suppose we could end up moving a lot anyways.The "no more grave-robbing/organ harvesting" one is just inconvenient, but I suppose that is the point. I'd rather keep our wealth and the convenience easy access to materiel brings us, we went through so much to acquire this stuff, I'd rather not have to give it all up for our oath. Better to have the soothing balm of wealth and do something greater to make up for our crimes then escape only to give all of it up and be insecure for the future with the inquisition on our tail.Shooting Star is the most interesting to me, but I think we need a lot of research and prep before we can even attempt it, we're young and inexperienced, this is a hell of a task.I guess I'll go with the tide and vote for...>Combine Balancing the Scales and Shooting Star
>>5238773>>Balancing the Scales. You swear out an Oath to bring four peace to four murdered souls by bringing four different murderers to justice, one for each of the lives that you took. Getting involved in the law might be dangerous, considering your legal status, but of the Oaths that you can think of tonight, this is the most flexible.I'm not touching foreign idols if we can help it.
>>5238773>Balancing the Scales. You swear out an Oath to bring four peace to four murdered souls by bringing four different murderers to justice, one for each of the lives that you took. Getting involved in the law might be dangerous, considering your legal status, but of the Oaths that you can think of tonight, this is the most flexible.Speaking of hornyposting, will chlot be able to pursue romance down the line?
You know, it's pretty unfair that we have to atone for 4 lives when the Patternmaker pulled one of them out of his arse.
>>5239776No hornyposting during our prayer session to God!>>5239778Considering that the Patternmaker created a Chernobyl disaster as a personal reward to us, I think complaining about semantics is a heath hazard. I still believe that the Refinery Explosion was just an extension of our trial, with all the hoops and near death experiences we went though just to get our damn lifting oil.
>>Balancing the Scales. You swear out an Oath to bring four peace to four murdered souls by bringing four different murderers to justice, one for each of the lives that you took. Getting involved in the law might be dangerous, considering your legal status, but of the Oaths that you can think of tonight, this is the most flexible.
I'm going to leave this open for just a little bit longer, as I am not quite ready to write at the moment. I will close the vote the and post the new update before I go to sleep however. >>5238971Anon, the only reason Chlotsuintha is naked is to emphasize her vulnerability. That and most people bathe in a state of undress. >>5239776The following passage has been taken from Thread III, and edited for clarity and characterization: >“You will never have friends or even neighbors, at least, not like the common man does. And if you do have anyone in your life closer than an acquaintance – besides myself, of course – they will no doubt be flunkeys, lackeys or slaves. And let me be the first to say, that they are a poor substitute for friends. Believe me … and if your head is still filled with fantasies of settling down, starting a family, then you should know that probably is not going to happen either. Only if you are very, very lucky – preposterously lucky – you will find a He-Witch, who sees more value in you as a mate than as raw material, and who is willing to risk himself and everyone else attached to him to court you. And that is assuming he is allowed to – if he is in Coven, then not only is probably taken, he would have to get permission, and what responsible leader would risk their entire operation so one of their boys could get with some whobody Witch? It is a fairytale. You would have more lucky finding a mundane man who was willing to risk everything to marry a Witch, and that right there is another fairytale ... though, if you turn out to be half as attractive as your mother, maybe you could ensorcell someone who had more lust than sense.” In case it was not obvious at this point in the quest, Chlotsuintha's father is quite bitter with how his life has turned out. His victories have a way of turning to dross in his hands, again and again and it has taken a toll on him. That being said, there is some solid advice in that rant. While it is possible to have friends and romantic partners as a Witch, it is difficult and dangerous. I'm not closing the door on it, in fact, just the opposite. I think that romance wonderful complication to throw into the mix.. Despite everything else she is, Chlotsuintha is also a extremely sheltered fifteen year old girl. Seeing how she would react when put in certain situations, I could see that being a lot of fun.
Okay, the vote is closed. Balancing the Scales wins by a hair - four votes, compared to three votes for the write-in and one vote for doing a stint as a healer. If your choice did not win, do not worry. There is nothing saying that Chlotsuintha cannot work as a healer, or declare herself as an Idoloclast at some point, it just that she is not going to have to. I'll get to writing. Should be up soon, it is going to be a really quick update.
Oh yeah, did we remember to raise the winch?
>>5239876Yea, I want to go full Shooting Star eventually, I think it’ll pair well with the dragons!
>>5239833Interesting. Is it simply impossible for a normal human being to be with a witch?
>>5239971Yes. This was even touched on with Father’s and Mother’s coming out party in the beginning of this thread.
>>5239833Trash, you don't understand. Chlot is CUTE! CUTE I TELL YOU! That insecurity, paired with self loathing and misfortune! Crippling mental baggage is HOT!Poor dad. He fell for the witch pussy and now he's possibly dead somewhere after having lived for a decade and a half on the run. I guess he should be happy he defected though, seeing as he'd have gotten mitigated if he'd stayed with the inquisition once they figured out why the graft wasn't working. Speaking of strangeness absorption, why the fuck didn't the inquisition bother shielding the Mitigator with the flight ring? I get that they don't cqre about HER safety, but all that Strangeness is coming out eventually. If she lost to a Witch with less scruples or time to spare than our parents, she'd have released all that magical radiation on death and nuked the surroundings.
>>5239971They can very obviously have kids, or there wouldn't be people like our dad who manifest magical aptitude despite coming from a line of non mages. If Witches were another species they'd have been extinct by now. What's more likely is that constant exposure to the Strangeness causes all but the most stable children to mutate into nonviable abominations in the womb, which is why our mother thought herself infertile. We just happened to be good enough at dealing with it that only our size was affected.I imagine this would be less of an issue if the mother just took a break from witchery during gestation, although that wouldn't select for stable offspring. In a way i suppose it's a good thing though, since only the most stable and naturally magical children survive. TL;DR: second generation Witches are probably much rarer but also very stable as a rule, while first gen Witches make up the bulk of the remaining ones and naturally surface every so often due to recessive magic traits lying dormant in the entire population. Male Witches may also have an easier time fathering Witchlets if the mother stays away from sorcery during pregnancy.
You briefly consider swearing an Oath of service, spending four years helping your Fellows as best you can – which for you, would be as a healer – but the whole ‘woman, living by herself, working as an unaffiliated Chirurgeon’ absolutely screams Witch. If you were able to find somewhere that was far enough off of the beaten path, you could probably get away with it … but then that sort of undermines the whole concept of helping as many people as you can.After deciding against that, you them give serious thought to declaring yourself an Idoloclast, and heading out into Cimmaroon Territory to capture four Great Idols. In fact, you are surprised at just how much the thought of adventuring appeals to you. But … finding, securing and retrieving even just a single Great Idol will be a significant – and dangerous – undertaking … and you really do not have the first idea of how to handle yourself in a fight. Now, to be sure, the Oath does not need to have a time limit, but swearing an Oath knowing that it could potentially be years before you are ready to seriously attempt to start fulfilling it seems sort of like … cheating. And that is not even considering how you would be Judged if you were to die before an Oath was fulfilled. No, as appealing as the adventure may be, you need something smaller in scope.Well … if you want to balance the scales, then why not bring peace to the souls and families of four murder victims by bring four murderers to justice? That would be something that you could start working towards right away, while still being appropriately difficult, not to mention logical form of penance. So, lying under the thin sheet, you swear out your Oath. Oaths are typically preformed in the presence of a Priest, or at least a lay brother, so when the time comes for the Last Ablution, the deceased can be praised for fulfilling the Oath, or castigated for abandoning it. But, to the best of your knowledge, there is nothing in the Compendium that says that Oaths are only valid if sworn out in front of Men of the Cloth. And even alone, actually speaking the words is harder than you thought it would be. “For the four … lives that I took tonight, I, on the integrity of my Red Thread, swear that I will deliver four … other … murderers … to worldly justice, in the hopes that this service to my Fellows and the truth will lead to Wisdom.”You do not feel any better, but.you are certain that you will once you start fulfilling it. But right now, all you can do is hope that you have done enough to account for your transgressions, say your prayers, and fall to sleep. Just like last night, it seems like as soon as you close your eyes you are opening them again, though in this case, you are being woken up by the first call instead of the last. Still lying on your bedroll, you decide that it would be for the best for you to call out as sick today, to give you enough time for everything that you want to do.
>>5239981I swear, you keep going on with the hornyposting and Chlot will turn into a narcissist with the amount of self-lust going on here.>>5239987You bring up an interesting point about our Mother’s infertility and Strangeness probably causing an abortion for all but the magically stable genes. I don’t think this problem would be solved by Mom not fucking around with magic during pregnancy, since the latent Strangeness in her body would probably affect conception regardless of magic use. It’s not like not snorting crack would prevent radiation from fucking up the baby. In a way, Father’s extreme stable-ness and being a Man-Witch was what probably led to our conception in the first place, since being stable at conception would be the only way to survive the latent buildup of Strangeness in the Mother-Witchlet. Clearly being Stable is recessive genotype.Male-Witchlets may have an easier time spreading the Witchlet genes around, but I think the Witchlet gene is obviously related to the X chromosome, since Male-Witches are rare even among Witches. Question is, is the Witchlet genotype dominant or recessive?
And the added bonus of not having to deal with the South Sexton makes the prospect all the sweeter. With a bit of an impish smirk, you sit up and throw off the sheet. You just need to get dressed, report yourself as sick to whoever the Overseer on duty is, and then you have the whole day for yourself. As you pad into the main room to grab your Spotted Cloak, you decide that your first order of business should be to get to work on making the decoy graven ball. You are not going to be able to plant it until tonight of course, but you have no idea just how long it is going to take to make, so it seems sensible to start with it. All things considered, you are feeling pretty on top of things, at least until you realize that your Spotted Cloak is not in the main room. Confused, you turn around, wondering how you did not see it in your room when it finally dawns on you what it felt like you were forgetting last night in the bath. Your Spotted Cloak. You somehow managed to forget your Spotted Cloak. You left the damned thing stuffed behind some crate in alley outside of the Midden. And to make matters worse, you just realized in your infinite fraying wisdom, you left the silver snuff box in the pockets. The one thing that could tie you to the Euthyphro knock-down, and you leave the damn thing in your Spotted Cloak. You are just about ready to start pulling your hair out. How? How is it possible that you keep fraying things up worse and worse? Well … you were tired, exhausted, and you had a lot of other stuff on your mind at the time. And you were being chased too. If you had made a clean break from the Refinery back to the Midden, and you were not constantly looking over your shoulder – Oh, Pattern’s Perdition! Stop making excuses for yourself! And stop beating yourself up over it – there will be time enough for that later! Just … figure out what the Hell you are going do! >Please choose ONE of the following: >If you are not going to be working today, then you do not need the Spotted Cloak. It should be safe enough where it is for the immediate future. Just go to the overseer on duty, wearing your other dress. After all, you do not need to wear the Spotted Cloak in the Midden. >Assuming – or praying – that the Spotted Cloak has not been discovered yet is not good enough, especially if the guards are sniffing around looking for evidence of smuggling. Sneak out of the Midden wearing your other dress. Be careful, of course. You are committing two different capital crimes, and without your cloak, it will be much easier to see that it is you.
There is a lot of good discussion going on in the thread. I'm going to sleep now, but I'll be back to weigh in.
>>5240034>Assuming – or praying – that the Spotted Cloak has not been discovered yet is not good enough, especially if the guards are sniffing around looking for evidence of smuggling. Sneak out of the Midden wearing your other dress. Be careful, of course. You are committing two different capital crimes, and without your cloak, it will be much easier to see that it is you.I hate you.
>>5240034>>Assuming – or praying – that the Spotted Cloak has not been discovered yet is not good enough, especially if the guards are sniffing around looking for evidence of smuggling. Sneak out of the Midden wearing your other dress. Be careful, of course. You are committing two different capital crimes, and without your cloak, it will be much easier to see that it is you.Pain
>>5240034>Assuming – or praying – that the Spotted Cloak has not been discovered yet is not good enough, especially if the guards are sniffing around looking for evidence of smuggling. Sneak out of the Midden wearing your other dress. Be careful, of course. You are committing two different capital crimes, and without your cloak, it will be much easier to see that it is you.
> DC 33: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is a Born and Bred Sneakthief, making a basic Stealth Test like this [Easy]> + DC 7 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Hard to Miss, given her size> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Known in the Midden> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is dressed in a way that make her easier to identify than usual> + DC 2 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained I, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting stealth in broad daylight> - DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has Complete Knowledge of the Midden> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in an area with concealment> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in a very poorly trafficked area> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth at a time when potential witnesses would be distracted> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has successfully managed a similar stealth test recently> DC 22: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s) available. No hostile re-roll(s)]>No Passes: Well, what do we have here? You are seen - and recognized - entering the dried up well. >One Pass: What is that Echo? You just manage to duck into the well just before a bystander walks by where you would be seen, but the hear noises coming from the well. >Two Passes: Hoping the nail in the well is not nail in your coffin. You avoid detection, but in your haste, you accidentally tear out a fingernail, leaving behind a trail of Strange blood.>Three Passes: Wishing it would always be this easy. You avoid detection, and before you know it you are out in Stickport without any further issue. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha is seen, recognized - and loses the nail as well, directly tying her to the blood in the well.>If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha finds a cache that her father must have left behind.>A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.>Three rolls of 1d100 please!
Rolled 37 (1d100)>>5240450What fun
Rolled 9 (1d100)>>5240450
>>5240477I swear that we’d fail a DC of 10 every time.
>>5239971Magical ability is a heritable trait, like skin color. Witches are human, just with special abilities. And it is not just limited to man, either - any 'thinking' beast, or animals that we would say have problem-solving intelligence can be born with magical ability. In some cases, all members of a species are born with magical ability (or rather, all viable members of a species are), and this species is considered to be 'magical'. Expanding on what it means the relationships between the magical and the mundane, you must first remember (as touched upon in the opening passage) there is a difference between having active and latent magical ability. You can carry latent magical ability without ever getting to a point where you could be able to actually cast spells. In many cases, the only indication that someone has latent magical ability is that if they encountered a significant amount of Strangeness during their life, sequestered some of it away in their bodies, and then released it all when they died. As for the product of unions, magical ability (latent or otherwise) is actually a dominant trait, but it is rare - rarer, since the Strangeness and Inquisition have killed and culled so many in the ensuing years. Two mundane parents will almost never produce magical offspring, if they do, it means that one of them actually had some latent ability after all, just really, really buried, and it managed to express itself. One mundane parent and one with latent magical ability will frequently produce children with latent magical ability, and occasionally produce either mundane children, or children with active magical ability. Two parents with latent magical ability are even more likely to produce children with latent magical ability. The same trend exists for parents with active magical ability. One mundane parent and a Witch are likely to produce children with active magical abilities, less likely to produce children with latent ability and much less likely to produce mundane children. The likelihood of magical ability increases when the Witches mate has latent magical ability, and increases again when the Witches mate is another Witch. The issue of Witch and mundane pairings (and to a lesser extent, Witch and latently magical) is that while their offspring might have active magical ability, they will not have as much active magical ability as the offspring of two Witches. There is also the issue of stability. Witches have been selected for stability, if they were not able to sequester away the Strangeness safely, then they might not have even been able to make it to term, let alone live long enough to reproduce. The latently magical, and the mundane do not have that kind of selection pressure present, so any offspring with them is also less stable than the offspring of two Witches. And the less stable an actively magical child is, the less likely they are to survive pregnancy, or if they are born, be physically and mentally sound.
Rolled 79 (1d100)>>5240450Time to crash this ship with no survivors!
>>5240494So find a he-witch outside of a coven or a man with repressed but strong magical abilities. Sounds easier than playing Indiana Jones.
>>5240804Well, that would be the best possible option, however, as mating with He-Witches improves the odds of having stable, powerful offspring, Covens have a vested interest in finding and keeping He-Witches, as well as males with latent magical ability. Finding one that had not been brought into a Coven would be very, very difficult. And as for the ones that have been brought in, the standings of He-Witches in a Coven runs the gamut from a high-ranking member with special privileges to kept studs, but the nearly universal constant is that they are only ever going to mate with the Witches, Witchlets, latently magical and mundane members of the Coven. Key word here being; mate. Marriage, or in the case of less formal relationships, exclusivity with He-Witches is rare, that is generally something only a very powerful Witch can pull off, as it has a way of causing resentment with the rest of the Coven. Anyway, despite the unfortunate accident, Chlotsuintha was able to get out of the Midden, and retrieve the Spotted Cloak without further issue. She did do a decent job hiding it after all. The question before you now is what to do with the Strange bloodstains in the dried up well.>Please choose ONE of the following: >As a matter of principle, you should clean up your messes, even if that means sneaking back into the well after you return to the Belfry. >Why bother? There are traces of Strangeness all over the Midden, at this point more than you could cleanse away if you wanted to probably. Why take the risk and spend the time?
>>5241014A clarification, this is choosing to take care of the stains at some point, not necessarily immediately.
>>5241016How long are we talking to clean it all up? I assume it isn't just in the well, though I suppose it could be since it is just a fingernail. If it is from the well all the way into the next area over then I'd personally say it isn't worth it even if we have the whole day to burn, we still have a lot we may want to do even if other incidents don't pop up.
>>5241030Just in the well. She was able to staunch the flow quick enough. As for the amount of time, that depends on how well you roll for the Salt-Mitigation or Salt-Remediation rolls.
>>5241014>As a matter of principle, you should clean up your messes, even if that means sneaking back into the well after you return to the Belfry. Father didn’t raise an idiot. Though this won’t leave any evidence that will backfire on us, right QM?>>5240494Wait, does that mean that our Father’s parents were Witchlets with high stability?
>>5241014>As a matter of principle, you should clean up your messes, even if that means sneaking back into the well after you return to the Belfry.
Okay. One more question - do you want to use Salt-Remediation or Salt-Mitigation? Salt-Remediation is significantly harder than Salt-Mitigation, but its failures are much less dangerous. Both are relatively silent, and will cause your eyes to glow for approximately the same amount of time. Failure in this case is going to be more dangerous than usual, as you are going to be two-thirds of the way down the well while you are performing the spell. Falling 12+ feet is a real possibility here.(Remember, if you fail three times with Salt-Remediation, then you can not long use it on that batch of Strangeness. You will have to start using Salt-Mitigation) >Please choose ONE of the following>Use Salt-Mitigation >Use Salt-Remediation > DC 33: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is a Born and Bred Sneakthief, making a basic Stealth Test like this [Easy]> + DC 7 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Hard to Miss, given her size> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Known in the Midden> + DC 2 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained I, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting stealth in broad daylight> - DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has Complete Knowledge of the Midden> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in an area with concealment> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in a very poorly trafficked area> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth at a time when potential witnesses would be distracted> - DC 7 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has successfully managed the exact same stealth test recently> DC 15: Anything lower is a failure. [No re-roll(s) available. No hostile re-roll(s)]>No Passes: Well, what do we have here? You are seen - and recognized - entering the dried up well. >One Pass: What is that Echo? You just manage to duck into the well just before a bystander walks by where you would be seen, but the hear noises coming from the well. >Two Passes: Getting Nailed. You manage to avoid detection again, but in the exertion of climbing, your improvised bandage is undone and you start bleeding again. >Three Passes: Wishing it would always be this easy. You avoid detection, and before you know it you are back in the Midden without any issue. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha is seen, recognized - and loses the nail as well, directly tying her to the blood in the well.>If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha finds a cache that her father must have left behind.>A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass>You are STRONGLY encouraged to roll again after twenty minutes if more rolls are needed, to keep the quest moving.>Three rolls of 1d100 please!
Rolled 67 (1d100)>>5241455>Use Salt-Remediation Much less dangerous? I think this may be wise.
Rolled 62 (1d100)>>5241455
Rolled 57 (1d100)>>5241455>Use Salt-Remediation
Just one roll of 1d100, please!>Critical Success: DC 99 and higher. In addition to completely remediating away all of the Strangeness, you make an illuminating deduction in the process. You will now have four chances to use Salt-Remediation of Strangeness (under typical circumstances). >Complete Success: DC 76 and higher. All of the Strangeness is removed from the blood, and in the process, the stain is no longer recognizable. >Partial Success: DC 56 and higher. You manage to get about a half of the Strangeness out. >Partial Failure: DC 55 and lower. Not only does the spell fail without removing anything, but you wind up touching the walls of the well. Now there is half again as much Strangeness.>Complete Failure: DC 35 and lower. Not only does the spell fail without removing anything, but you wind up touching the walls of the well. Now there is twice as much Strangeness. Catastrophic Failure: DC 15 and lower. It should not even be possible with Salt-Remediation, but somehow, you managed to set yourself on fire. [Secondary Vote]>Critical Catastrophic Failure: DC 2 and lower. You get the wind knocked out of you hard enough that you lose your grip.
Rolled 72 (1d100)>>5242256Oh boy
Damn it, I could have sworn I fixed that missing greentext. Oh well. I need another roll of 1d100.>Critical Success: DC 99 and higher. In addition to completely remediating away all of the Strangeness, you make an illuminating deduction in the process. You will now have four chances to use Salt-Remediation of Strangeness (under typical circumstances). >Complete Success: DC 76 and higher. All of the Strangeness is removed from the blood, and in the process, the stain is no longer recognizable. >Partial Success: DC 56 and higher. You manage to get the rest of the Strangeness out, but the bloodstain is still recognizable as a bloodstain. >Partial Failure: DC 55 and lower. Not only does the spell fail without removing anything, but you wind up touching the walls of the well. Now there is half again as much Strangeness.>Complete Failure: DC 35 and lower. Not only does the spell fail without removing anything, but you wind up touching the walls of the well. Now there is twice as much Strangeness. >Catastrophic Failure: DC 15 and lower. It should not even be possible with Salt-Remediation, but somehow, you managed to set yourself on fire. [Secondary Vote]>Critical Catastrophic Failure: DC 2 and lower. You get the wind knocked out of you hard enough that you lose your grip.
>>5242267Want me to roll or wait mate?
Someone else roll. I'm not touching that.
>>5242267Actually, can this wait? I’d rather we not chance setting our only dress on fire before we get our proper traveling clothes.
Rolled 81 (1d100)>>5242267
I don't think I am going to be able to write much tonight, but there is something that we can vote on. After completing work on the decoy graven ball, do you want to attempt to remediate yourself with Salt-Remediation? It is similarly difficult to the previous Salt-Remediation roll, but if it goes well, then you will no longer spread the Strangeness. If any Strangeness remains after three attempts however, you will have to either wait for it to dissipate away, or use Salt-Mitigation on yourself. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Remediate yourself>Do not remediate yourself
>>5243046>Remediate yourselfWe don't want to spread more Strangeness or get caught and get a worse sentence if they test us again.
>>5243046>>Do not remediate yourselfSpellcasting is so freaking risky I want to do it as little as possible. A partial success is less than 50% of the time. She gets herself in a worse situation if she fails. Chlot will not live long if she takes that type of coin flip often.
>>5243046Can we know about the risk should we fail (or low roll it)? Also, would that mean that we can never remidiate ourselves again or would it be something like a daily cooldown?
>>5243046>Remediate yourselffinally caught up again
Three votes for remediating yourself out of five total cast. Consider that vote closed. >>5243513As a general rule, I like to avoid giving odds and specific information about the level of risk before a vote is locked in, because that kind of information would not be known to Chlotsuintha. She should and will have a general idea of the risk involved, and as a concession to the players, that general idea of risk is always going to be accurate - but it will never be too precise. As mentioned in the post, It is similarly difficult to the previous Salt-Remediation roll. Anyway, I wanted to give everyone an update about my schedule - it does not look like I am going to have too much free time from now until the end of Friday. Once we are on the other end of that, things should pick back up, but I just wanted to let you know. One more vote for you though. Should Chlotsuintha take the time to attempt to replicate whatever spell was on the graven ball, should she make a graven ball with a different spell on it that she has scrivened before, or should she simply copy the glyphs onto another ball and dump Strangeness into it. Scrivening a known spell and dumping Strangeness into a decoy are at the same level of risk, while attempting to copy the spell is a bit riskier. The decoy without a spell can be made quickly, and with any luck the Inquisition will just assume that whatever spell was on the ball had been depleted or had since degraded. The graven ball with a different spell will take about twice as long, but it will be a fully functional artifact, and if the Inquisition actually tries to investigate the artifact before destroying it - which from what Chlotsuintha know about the Inquisition is unlikely - there is effectively no chance that they will pick up on any discrepancy. The graven ball with your attempt at the actual spell on it will take twice as long as making the graven ball with another spell on it, but in the process you will learn a new glyph and possibly improve your skills at scrivening. (However, unless Chlotsuintha manages a Critical Success, the copy is not going to be anywhere near as powerful as the original). The actual amount of time that it will take depends on how well the rolls go. >Please choose ONE of the following>Simple and Strange decoy>Graven ball with different spell>Graven ball with attempt at copied spell
>>5244868>Graven ball with different spellLets not risk messing up copying the spell. Because it takes so long we cannot afford failing this. We can research the spell on the graven ball some other time when there isn't a time pressure on us.
>>5244868>Simple and Strange decoyhonestly this should suffice
>>5244868>Simple and Strange decoyNow is not the time to get fancy! Chlot has too many preparations to make. She can study the real ball later.
>>5244868>Simple and Strange decoy
>>5244868>Graven ball with different spellPurely to learn about new spells, the magical mechanics fascinate me.
>>5244868>>Graven ball with different spell
>>5244868>>Simple and Strange decoy
Hey guys, just wanted to give another update. I still have quite a bit of stuff to take care of. I probably will not be able to start writing until Tuesday. Sorry about the continued delay.
There are no two ways to slice it, you are just not going to be comfortable about leaving incriminating evidence behind, especially with the increased attention that has been given to the Midden and its surroundings after Smil’s body was found. Fuming, you retreat to your room and squeeze yourself into your too-small spare dress – which is the only clean piece of clothing that remains to you. Once you dig your pig shit-stained and acid damaged boots out from inside the sling you made of your equally pig shit-stained dress, and get them laced up, you depart immediately from the Belfry. Lepers are not required by law to wear their Spotted Cloaks inside of the Midden, and most do not – only donning them when it is time to leave for their shift. Still, you have only been seen outside of the Belfry without the Spotted Cloak once, when you and father first arrived in the Midden eight years ago, and that was only because you had not been given the fraying cloak yet. If you were seen dressed in typical clothes, Lepers – and worse, Guards – would inevitably notice. And that is the absolute last thing that you need right now, to be noticed. And in that vein … you think that you should use the well again. Really, you do not have much of a choice at the moment. With the cleared belt on either side of the palisade, climbing the fence is s very, very risky proposition during the day. The route out of the Midden that puts you out in the cellar of the Guardhouse that sits outside of the Midden gate is a risky proposition during the day and during the night. And the route through the abandoned sewer – there is less risk there to be sure, but as soon as you pass out of the Midden, you are in the actual, working sewer of Stickport. Not only does that route take a lot of time, it also inevitably will soil whatever you are wear, and as this is your last clean piece of clothing … The abandoned well it is! You do your best to focus at the task at hand, and to not let yourself think about why you were avoiding it in the first place, but you have been finding that such acts of self-censorship have not been particularly fruitful lately. All of the Coroners – not to mention other Lepers, who got exposed to the Strangeness by touching some of the Strangeness that the Coroners left behind – are going to get themselves taken into curative custody by the Inquisition. And that people die in curative custody, people whose health isn’t compromised disease and black humors. That is horrible enough on its own, but when some random Leper showed up, completely out of nowhere while you were just about to go down the well, it became obvious that you were being punished for ducking out of a Trial. Well … maybe not obvious. But you had fears. And all of those fears were confirmed when the Patternmaker revealed Himself to you by paring back the Shadows to look directly at you through the Lodestar as He Wove a new Trial for you.
Putting it mildly, that new Trial was … harrowing. And then everything that happened at the Oiler’s Wharf? You are not sure if that constituted a second Trial or a gristly reward for the completion of the first – and you are not sure which of those two options carries more terrifying implications. If it was a second Trial, then it shows just how hard the Patternmaker will test you. If all of that was a boon … if that was what it was, then it is possible that He has Woven you into the Firmament as some living calamity, casting a long black shadow of disaster and woe. A monster. And in the end, the only thing that monsters ever truly amount to is a Trial for some hero. It is not a pleasant thought, to be sure, thinking that you are basically no different than the fourth Guard that you encountered at the palisade – brought into existence solely to be killed by someone else? You find yourself thinking about the way that man died, lunging to put himself between you and the man that was his brother, a brother that he clearly loved. But that brother had never actually known him. He never even actually saw him with his own eyes before you closed them forever. Then again … if it was the Design of the Patternmaker for him to be the brother of that man, then how can that be anything other than the Absolute Truth? Still, there seems something particularly … hollow about a life created moments before its intended time of death. As unpleasant as these thoughts have been, in a shuddering explosion of existential dread, they are displaced by one that is so, so much worse. Perhaps you are even more similar to the that fourth guard than you thought. Last night – no, earlier this morning, rather – you had wondered why it could be that as soon as you decided to make your own way out of the Midden, bad things started happening to you and those around you at an almost preposterous rate. Is it … is it possible … that you were Woven into the Firmament, the same way that Guard was? Fully formed, fully grown? The Guard clearly had memories, memories from before he existed, memories of things that he never actually did, places that he had never actually seen … and family that he never actually had known. You know your father. You love your father. But have you ever actually seen him, with your own eyes? Or is it all just memories … subject to the whims of Patternmaker? Are you fifteen years old, or … it is all just in your head? You are aware that there is next no record of you existing anywhere – is that because you had not existed, or are you just panicking and reading way, way too much into something? The wands, the fuel nodules and the letter that was written to you by your mother … were they really overlooked by your father, who so meticulously cleaned out the Belfry before leaving on his job, or were they Woven in after he left? The wand's three-target limitation played such a large part in the Trial, after all.
To your surprise, you find that you are already at the dried up well. Swearing at yourself, you have no recourse but to assume that you were unseen for this last stretch of this morning’s prowl. Even as worked up as you already are, this slip-up manages to make you feel even worse. However, in a way, the mundane concern about having been spotted out in a dress taking precedence over other concerns does help return your focus to the task at hand. Still, as you hastily look around the shell of the villa to make sure that you are not being watched, that you have not been seen, you find yourself slipping back into dangerous territory, as you cannot help yourself from wondering if another Leper is going to spring out of nowhere the second that you actually attempt to get down the fraying hole. You are scared at prospect, simply terrified by it, and what implications it could carry, but this well is the best egress out of the Midden available to you at the moment … and it is not as if the Patternmaker’s absolute power over the Firmament is limited to the immediate area around the mouth of this well. If He wanted to bring an Act of Judgment down upon you, or to instigate another Trial, it is not as if you could just run away from that … well, you suppose you sort of did, but as all that managed to do was make things worse for you, you are never going to try to duck again. In fact, had you known that saving those Lepers were a Trial, you probably would never have tried to duck in the first place. Pattern’s Perdition, you are lingering here much, much too long! Spurring yourself into hasty, reluctant action, after one final scan of your surroundings, you haul yourself up and over the loose stones and crumbling mortar of the lip in one quick movement. You find purchase easily enough, but you do descend any further. Instead, you wait, huddled behind the little jutting lip of well that stands squat and stout over the ruined courtyard. You peer as best as you can over the lip, waiting for someone to appear, something to happen. A dozen seconds pass, then a dozen more. The awkwardness of your position is beginning to tell in the strain in your arms and back. No one is coming. Nothing is happening. You would think that you would be relieved, but if anything, the more time passes the more nervous you are getting. Finally, the strain in your left arm gets to the point that you have to move it, and you start moving downward. It is only when the mouth of the well starts to slip further and further away as you make your way to the hidden tunnel below that you finally feel some sense of … relief is too strong of a word, but at the very least, you have come back to your senses. Nothing happened. Now, that proves nothing. But that is good. That’s … look, even if you are just like that fourth Guard, it does not matter. Short of a Herald coming down and telling you, you have no way of knowing. So then you cannot let it affect you.
Even though that thought is not exactly comforting, under the current circumstances, you find it to be at least a little fortifying. With your resolve restored at least a little, you turn your entire focus to getting to the bottom of this well.And it is a good thing you did, because with about fifteen or so feet left to go, disaster strikes. A stone that had appeared to be solid gives out under your weight, and in your desperate scramble to find a new handhold, you are a bit too forceful. You jam your long, slender fingers into the first available slot with so much force that you rip one of your fingernails clean off. Blood begins to flow immediately, and even in the relative darkness of the well, you can see the Strangeness start to spread all over the handhold, radiating outward.Desperately trying to retard the spread, you adjust your stance, to free up your injured hand. Doing so does noticeably slow down the rate of transmission, but it does not completely stop it. To do that, you would need to get the fingernail and all of the blood out of the crevasse, which is probably not something that you can do at the moment, at least, not safely.So that leaves you hanging fifteen feet or so off of the ground with an open wound dripping blood and spreading Strangeness.As climbing down will inevitably spread the Strangeness further, instead you use one of the first tricks that father ever taught you about how to deal with spilt Strange blood. Self-Sequestration. It might seem silly, but in a pinch, the best way to deal with the Strangeness you release out into the world can just be to get it back inside of you.You pop your injured fingertip into your mouth, and you start sucking down the blood as best you can while you get as comfortable as you can. Easier said than done, but at least your current handhold and footholds are solid.This bit of Self-Sequestration is miserable work. The sharp taste of copper is almost enough to make you gag, and it is enough to make your eyes water, which of course, is another route for the Strangeness to leave your body and contaminate your surroundings. You would swear under your breath, but you know from experience just how well sound is able to travel up and out of this well … and you also have your fraying finger in your mouth some suckling babe. In the end, you are able to deal with your tears by blinking them away – thankfully, there was actually very little discharge to deal with there.And if the taste of blood was not stomach turning enough, there is also a noticeable amount of grit on your finger. You thought you would have gotten all of it all at once at the start, but intermittently you somehow manage to find more and more. This is definitely not how you expected your morning to go.Chlotsuintha's fingers are much, much longer than those in the picture.
much longer? in any tall person's long elegant hand kind of way or she has supernaturally large hands kind of way?also you should suck on any small wound, strangeness or not, chlot! the saliva is good for it.
>>5258586Long enough to be considered unsettling looking by some.No update tonight, instead you get 2 Lucky Tenth Talents (Rerolls) and 1 Very Lucky Tenth Talent (autopass) ... and another gift (but more on that tomorrow).
Sorry this is late, been celebrating the whole weekend.Stuffed away somewhere, unencrypted in your father’s notes is instructions for another spell that he learned from mother. It is ... >Phase-Holding, a utility Shadow Phasing spell that allows you to store inanimate objects inside of yourself, limited to half of your bodies weight and volume. When the spell goes to completion properly, the phased objects are frozen in time phased inside of the caster. If the spell does not go to completion properly, damage to the objects and the caster can occur, but this is an uncommonly stable spell – typically, only a truly catastrophic failure, or a hostile counter spell would cause any serious injury. Some restrictions to casting while active. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, target must have at least latent magical ability. >Phase-Stun, an offensive Shadow Phasing spell that blinks portions of the nervous system in and out. Similar effects to Head-Knocking, but without variability. If intended to be non-lethal, so long as spell completes properly, will not kill or harm target. If intended to be lethal, so long as spell completes properly, will always kill target. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, requires direct contact with target. >Second-Skin, a Life-Weaving spell that is used to create living, self-compressing bandages from swatches of skin. Effectiveness and longevity of the Construct is partially dependent on how well the swatch matches the target – a human using a Second-Skin made from human skin will generally get better results than a human using a Second-Skin made from mole skin. >Lung-Popping, a Kinesiology spell, very similar to Head-Knocking, except that it targets lungs, and at this level it has no non-lethal cast. Even when the spell does not work properly, targets will commonly suffer sufficient fatal damage and bleeding, though not enough to immediately incapacitate them. Spell requires direct contact with target, but DOES NOT need to be Skin-Scriven, allowing it to be enchanted onto weapons or incorporated into traps.
>>5261245>>Phase-Holding, a utility Shadow Phasing spell that allows you to store inanimate objects inside of yourself, limited to half of your bodies weight and volume. When the spell goes to completion properly, the phased objects are frozen in time phased inside of the caster. If the spell does not go to completion properly, damage to the objects and the caster can occur, but this is an uncommonly stable spell – typically, only a truly catastrophic failure, or a hostile counter spell would cause any serious injury. Some restrictions to casting while active. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, target must have at least latent magical ability.
>>5261245>Phase-Holding, a utility Shadow Phasing spell that allows you to store inanimate objects inside of yourself, limited to half of your bodies weight and volume. When the spell goes to completion properly, the phased objects are frozen in time phased inside of the caster. If the spell does not go to completion properly, damage to the objects and the caster can occur, but this is an uncommonly stable spell – typically, only a truly catastrophic failure, or a hostile counter spell would cause any serious injury. Some restrictions to casting while active. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, target must have at least latent magical ability. smuggler spell is by far the most useful to us. Don't apologize for partying Trash! [s]but gib coins [/s]
>>5261245>Phase-Holding, a utility Shadow Phasing spell that allows you to store inanimate objects inside of yourself, limited to half of your bodies weight and volume. When the spell goes to completion properly, the phased objects are frozen in time phased inside of the caster. If the spell does not go to completion properly, damage to the objects and the caster can occur, but this is an uncommonly stable spell – typically, only a truly catastrophic failure, or a hostile counter spell would cause any serious injury. Some restrictions to casting while active. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, target must have at least latent magical ability.
>>5261245>Phase-Stun, an offensive Shadow Phasing spell that blinks portions of the nervous system in and out. Similar effects to Head-Knocking, but without variability. If intended to be non-lethal, so long as spell completes properly, will not kill or harm target. If intended to be lethal, so long as spell completes properly, will always kill target. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, requires direct contact with target. Going against the grain here, this would be a useful backup spell to have. To be honest, all of the would be extremely useful. I’m curious about Second-Skins utility, and Lung-Popping would be useful to assassinate Sherlock with, and in any lethal combat in general.Actually, what weapons do we have access to? Lung-Popping would have surprising utility if we ever decided that it’s necessary to go lethal.
It is as you had hoped. The Self-Sequestration has managed to staunch the flow. Under better circumstances, you might be sighing in relief right now, but you are currently fifteen feet above the bottom of the well, and right at eye level with the Strange-Stain that your blood just left behind. You had hoped that you managed to yank your finger out of there quick enough that very little blood would be left behind, but as the Stain is still spreading, it looks like that simply was not the case.As you resume your descent, you realize that as bad as this slip-up was, it could have easily gone much, much worse. What if you had ended up spilling blood in a less-isolated area? What if you had been carrying … something, anything on your back while you were hanging there, Self-Sequestering, and it had shifted your center, or tired you out and you ended up falling? With your whole body as Strange as it is from last night’s casting, every little mistake like this become a potential catastrophe, at a time when you simply cannot afford it.You are loathe to give yourself even more to do, but after this you feel that you should take the time to perform a Salt-Remediation on yourself, as soon as possible. You already have the bathtub ready, though will need to fill it up a bit more … actually, now that you think about it, you should probably start with fresh water, considering just how dirty you got last night. Hell, you might just have to clean the tub itself before you can use it for the spell.You finish the descent and slip into the side tunnel. As usual, the tunnel is pitch black, but as there is only one way, so long as you do not somehow get turned around in one of the interconnected, buried basements, it should be impossible to get turned around. And even if you did, you would that you did when you turned up back in the bottom of the dried up well and not in the final basement. Blessedly, you do not make that mistake this time – instead, you arrive in that last cellar without further incident.Your eyes had managed to adjust enough in the darkness of the tunnels that simply entering the basement is enough to make them strain as they start to adjust back. Wanting to rid yourself of all of the disadvantages that you can, you decide to take a moment to allow them to adjust. You walk over towards a window, and stare at the light filtering through the thick, bubbly leaded glass. Once you are satisfied that you are not going to blind yourself once you open up this bulkhead, you stalk on over and after listening to make sure the coast is clear, you ease the door open, and after navigating your way out of the alley, you stride purposefully out onto the plank streets of the Upper Boardwalk. Up here, the stone of the sloping beach is several feet below the boardwalk, and there is relatively little refuse coating the stone, whereas on the Lower Boardwalk, the stone is never more than a foot away, and the refuse sometimes pushes past the planks.
>>5261645Lets see. There is the Wand of Head Knocking, there are the two stilettoes, there is the duck-foot pistol ... there was the stub-club, but you planted that on the body of the smuggler. Those are all of the purpose-built weapons that you have access to at the moment. There were others, but if you remember, your father really cleaned the Belfry out before leaving on his job. Now, if you are asking if weapons you can buy, then that depends on three things - where you wind up (as it has been decided previously that all serious shopping will be done after you leave Scrimshaw Mount), how much you are willing to spend, and who you present yourself as. Imperial Citizens have basically unlimited access to small arms, and with proper licenses can purchase most heavy ordinance (for the purposes of outfitting private expeditions and the like). Imperial Subjects are not as lucky. Imperial Law states that Subjects are prohibited from owning 'implements of war'. Now, what this means varies province by province (and that is to say nothing of the enforcement of these laws). In some places, you can own a musket, but you cannot affix a bayonet to it, because in the local interpretation of the law, the addition of the bayonet makes a tool for hunting into a weapon of war. On the other end of the spectrum, there are regions where Subjects cannot buy or own knives that have pointed tips. Some regions even have additional laws on top of the Imperial law, further restricting what they can own. Citizens, Guilds, Corporations, and the like, under certain circumstances and with the proper approval can arm Subjects with weapons that they own, but this process is expensive, and they are held liable for anything their employees while armed. The one big exception to the law is honorably discharged legionaries. At the end of their service, they are entitled to at least 20 acres of farmland, one slave and retirement bonus along with their issued kit, including their service weapon, which currently includes a musket - though it is worth noting that just because they are allowed to keep their firearm, it does not follow that they are allowed to purchase shot and powder in all provinces. Upon death, the soldier is buried in uniform with their kit, except for their service weapon, which is returned to the Empire, in lieu of a death tax. As you might have noticed, laws can vary greatly province from province. However, for most Subjects, this is not an issue, because they are never going to leave the province that they were born in. Traveling as a Subject is uncommon, as in most places, it requires special permission from the civil authorities. Now, enforcement of movement and weapons laws (and to a lesser extent, all laws) are much more lax in the Principalities than they are in the rest of the Empire, but that is not to say that they are not enforced, or that if you are caught breaking other laws, that you will not be charged with breaking these laws as well.
>>5261645>>5261696The general rule of thumb 'break only one law at a time' applies here. Even if Chlotsuintha is not able to get or counterfeit transit papers, so long as she is not breaking any other laws at the time, she should be safe, unless she happens to stumble into a province with uncommonly diligent and strict enforcement. Should be noted though, that this only applies to the Principalities. In other places in the Empire, Subjects can (and are) executed for nothing more than attempting to travel without permits. That was a bit of a tangent, wasn't it?
>>5261696>>5261703>That was a bit of a tangent, wasn't it?It was, but an interesting one nevertheless. I would ask more about Imperial Citizens, Subjects, and other entities in the Empire, but I’m sure we’d be here til Page 11 on such a QnA.
>>5261245>>Lung-Popping, a Kinesiology spell, very similar to Head-Knocking, except that it targets lungs, and at this level it has no non-lethal cast. Even when the spell does not work properly, targets will commonly suffer sufficient fatal damage and bleeding, though not enough to immediately incapacitate them. Spell requires direct contact with target, but DOES NOT need to be Skin-Scriven, allowing it to be enchanted onto weapons or incorporated into traps.
>>5261245>>Lung-Popping, a Kinesiology spell, very similar to Head-Knocking, except that it targets lungs, and at this level it has no non-lethal cast. Even when the spell does not work properly, targets will commonly suffer sufficient fatal damage and bleeding, though not enough to immediately incapacitate them. Spell requires direct contact with target, but DOES NOT need to be Skin-Scriven, allowing it to be enchanted onto weapons or incorporated into traps.simply because it tells a story for this lethal spell to be commonplace enough for it to be unencrypted in Odovacar's notes
>Phase-Holding, a utility Shadow Phasing spell that allows you to store inanimate objects inside of yourself, limited to half of your bodies weight and volume. When the spell goes to completion properly, the phased objects are frozen in time phased inside of the caster. If the spell does not go to completion properly, damage to the objects and the caster can occur, but this is an uncommonly stable spell – typically, only a truly catastrophic failure, or a hostile counter spell would cause any serious injury. Some restrictions to casting while active. Spell must be Skin-Scriven, target must have at least latent magical ability.
It takes longer than you would have liked for you to get your bearings, but before too long you are making headway towards the quiet little corner where you have stashed your Spotted Cloak. The workhouses in this area are almost exclusively worked by Lepers, and as the gates of the Midden are still shut, the side-streets and alleys that you are cutting through are completely abandoned. To your surprise, you can still hear the sounds of wheels and hooves moving over the plank streets in the distance – meaning that it is still early enough that wagons are allowed on the streets of the Mount. You have made mistakes to be sure, but perhaps they are not going to be as disastrous as you had feared. In the end, you managed to make it all the way back to your cloak without being spotted. You were not even really trying to remain unseen, it just ended up working out like that. As you brush the bundle of canvas off after snatching it up in your arms, you inadvertently end up poking the snuff box, still snuggly stuffed into one of the pockets you stitched onto the inside of the cloak. To be sure, you are relieved that the box is still in your possession – it is real trim bit of swag, and it had occurred to you that taking a hit of snuff from the box might be a fun way to celebrate you escape from the Mount. At the same time, this little bauble has been nothing but trouble for you since the moment you laid eyes on it. Perhaps something should be done about it. Nothing so drastic as throwing it in the harbor or doing something even further beyond the pale like returning it, but maybe you could melt it down using crucible in the Fetish-Foundry. Now, you are not sure what you would be able to do with a lump of silver, but you know for sure that it would not present as much danger to you as this box. As you retrace your steps to the cellar however, you put your concerns about the snuff box out of your head. There are much more pressing matters that you need to grapple with at the moment. One of those is the Strange Stain that your blood left in the dried well. Should you take the time – either now, or later in the day today – to clean up your mess? Well, the Strangeness will degrade from Second Degree to First Degree in less than a fortnight and should dissipate away completely in another week. So, for the sake of argument, say three weeks. Is anyone going to be climbing down that well in the next three weeks? Under other circumstances, you would be comfortable with saying ‘no’, and just leaving it behind to take care of itself. But as the Guards are looking for smugglers and secret ways in and out of the Midden, there is a possibility that they consider investigating the well, especially if the Leper that almost saw you vault into it comes forward. And after you leave, they just might. The bigger concern is – if they found the bloodstain that the Strangeness was emanating from, would they think to bring in the Inquisition to test it?
Honestly, you do not know. It does not seem likely that the Guards would even think to get the Inquisition involved to test a random bloodstain for the Strangeness … but that does not mean that the Inquisition will not get involved on their own, and decide to test the blood if it becomes known to the Guards. In fact, you should count on the Inquisition getting involved. Think about it from the prospective of the Inquisitors. They are making headway into the investigation of their lives - an actual Witch in Scrimshaw Mount. Their only real clue is that fresh remains from the cities burying grounds are being used in constructs, which draws their attention towards the burying grounds of the city, and the men that have been placed in charge of them. By a stroke of blind, white luck, something magical (the note from Ossavian that you read only described it as a ‘device’) happens to turn up, in an apartment right across the street from one of the graveyards, possibly also made out of stolen body parts. Suspicion looms over the Sexton of that cemetery, but as they are an Imperial Citizen, with the additional protection of an ecclesiastical title, you are not able act on those suspicions – put them and their household into custody, and go over their residence with a fine-tooth comb – without some sort of proof. However, in the process of dealing with the contamination released by the operation of the ‘device’, a potential character witness shows up. Someone who in just the first, informal interview has already given a potential angle of attack on the Sexton in question – his worldly attitude, his skinflintedness and his avarice. It is possible that this man is either selling remains to the Witch, or more likely, being bribed to look the other way while the Witch procures their own ‘odds and ends’. And this was just the first interview – who knows, perhaps this humble gravedigger has seen or heard something incriminating without realizing it, that will come up in a later. Things look promising. Then that witness disappears, along with her apparently ill father – before she was able to give testimony, conveniently undermining the investigation. Considering that the witness and her father are Lepers, and as such are not allowed to just disappear, there is going to have to be some sort of investigation … which the Inquisition is going to have to involve themselves with. The Inquisition might incorrectly conclude that the South Sexton had you and father killed – or they might correctly conclude that you and father were somehow involved with the graverobbing. Either way, their attention is going to be drawn to the Midden, which will inevitably lead to them discovering all of the Strangeness that the Coroners, some of whom by then might be well on their way to becoming Strangers, have been spreading all over the place. It is a grim thought, but the Inquisition might be coming after you if you plant the decoy ball or not.
That … suffice to say, is not a pleasant thought. But better to acknowledge it now, while you can still plan and prepare. It also is a very compelling reason to take the time today to go back and deal with the Strangeness you left behind in the well. If even the best possible scenario after your departure from the Mount has the Inquisition inserting themselves into the investigation into your disappearance, then leaving behind any traces of Strangeness in places that can be directly or even indirectly connected to you is basically a slow but deliberate means of suicide.As you find yourself on the final stretch towards the relative safety of the cellars, you wonder if you should remediate the bloodstains before or after you remediate yourself. You go back and forth on that, and it is not until you are back in the cellar that you decide to take care of the stains in the well first. It is unlikely, but possible, that you hurt yourself during a remediation, badly enough that you would not be able to climb up and down the well anymore. Obviously, an injury of that nature would throw a serious fraying wrench into your plans for escaping, let alone exfiltrating your father’s notes and equipment from the city, but it is a real – though remote – possibility, and you should account for it. For that matter, knocking yourself unconscious is also a possible outcome of a botched Self-Remediation, so it makes sense for you to talk to the Overseer on duty to call out of work today before you attempt any cleansing either.You are practically running through the buried cellars and the tunnels between them, so before you know it, you are standing in the mouth of the tunnel at the bottom of the dried well. Taking advantage of the limited light available, you pull yourself out of your spare dress and cloth yourself once more in the Spotted Cloak. As rough and dirty as the canvas is, you find its weight to be comforting. The weight of the steel mask, modified by your father with a hairsbreadth-thick layer of lead on the inside, weighs a bit too much to be comforting, but regardless, you feel much better for being all covered up again. You are not going to be able to wear this particular mask around in public once you leave the city, at least, not without advertising that you are a runaway Leper, but maybe you should consider buying some other sort of mask to wear. Or perhaps some sort of veil?You snap yourself out of it as you finish getting dressed and start planning your route up and out of the well. With everything that you need to do before you can safely leave the city with your father’s work, contemplating your future wardrobe tastes like hubris. You do not even know if you are going to be alive tomorrow, let alone ready to escape.The physical act of climbing the rough stones of the well helps you put a stop to your daydreaming, and by the time that you are back at the mouth of well, peering over the lip, your head is clear.
After one final check to make sure that the coast is as clear as your head, you vault over the lip and make a beeline for the big plaza right by the gates, where the Overseer on duty will be … assuming that you have not spent too much time retrieving your Spotted Cloak. As you make your way out of the shell of the ruined villa that surrounds the dried up well, you reflexively pat yourself down, to make sure that you have properly got your entire outfit squared away just right. The rest of the brisk walk to the plaza passes without incident … well, without significant incident at least.As you got further away from the shell of the villa and closer to the plaza, Strange-Staining activated again, as you stumbled across the leavings of the Coroners. Entire swaths of the Street had been subsumed by the Strangeness. As you approach, you can plainly see that the Strangeness here is still spreading, before your eyes, all these hours later. It is to the point where you have to wonder if the Strangeness on this street is Second or Third Degree … which, suffice to say, is terrifying. Objects and articles, such as this street, that are Strange in the Third Degree will spread Strangeness in the Second Degree to anything that touches it. And Strangeness in the Second Degree is enough to inflict permanent mental damage, if it is not dealt with properly.Maybe … maybe you were wrong. Maybe you were never going to be able to fix this in the first place. Remediating or even Mitigating this street safely would take the better part of the hour – and it would not be quiet either. Not to mention by the end of it your eyes would be blazing like stars. And of course, there is a lot more Strangeness here in the Midden then just this street. How the Hell would you have managed that, and the Coroners themselves? Maybe some of them are a little out of it by this point, but you would need to be catatonic to not notice yourself being Remediated or Mitigated. Now, obviously, it was not this bad when you first noticed the Strange footfalls leading into the Midden, but really, how much better was it? Were you ever going to be able –No, you must not dwell on it. You have made your choice, and you … and others … have suffered for it. Trying to justify it after the fact like this is just … indecent. Your clothes are already Strange in the First Degree, from coming in contact with you, as you are Strange in the Second Degree. That is not a good state of affairs by any means, but the prospect of your boots and perhaps your britches becoming Strange in the Second Degree – that prospect is alarming enough that you decide to take another street. The next one that you come across looks much the same, but the one after that looks much better – there is Strangeness there, but it is confined to well-defined footfalls – a clear indicator that the Strangeness here is only First Degree.
As you make your way down this street, you start to run into other Lepers heading to the plaza for breakfast, which is a bit of a relief, as you were starting to worry that the curfew was still in effect or something. Unfortunately, that relief is undercut when you get close enough for Strange-Staining to show that the boots of many of the Lepers that you are passing have Strange Stains on them. None of them are spreading, at least, but it is enough to turn your stomach all the same. On your way into the plaza, there are more and more Stains – it is to the point where the scarification glyph itself is starting to ache, which almost never happens. Hide-Eyes aches and heats up, but Strange-Staining is a much less intensive bit of magic. Still, when you are talking to the Overseer, you do not want to be distracted, so as you pick your way towards the central platform, you try to temporarily dispel the scarification glyph. Emphasis on ‘try’. Unlike the rest of your magic, the Strange-Staining glyph is always on – to temporarily dispel it, you have to seriously concentrate on the shifting white and gray and black Stains. The issue is that there are so many in the six-foot activation radius of the glyph that you cannot focus on them all at once, which in turn means that you cannot dispel all of them. By the time that you make to the platform, you have basically given up on dispelling, instead angling your head and relying on the blind spots of your mask to keep any potentially distracting Stains out of your sight. The Overseer on duty is an especially reedy looking man named Chramnesid, who along with a clerk is examining the Roll Call – the ledger of all of the Lepers that have ever been in the Midden. You get a real bad feeling seeing that tome sitting there. Typically, it is only taken out for Musters – which are rare – and for intakes, deaths, exemptions, and the Census. But it this is the second day that you have seen the thing in a row. Plotinus, the Sergeant of the Middenguard had it out yesterday. You can only hope that its presence here again today does not mean that there is going to be another tightening down of the Midden. It suddenly occurs to you that you do not know if the Guard have told any of the Lepers about … what happened last night. Either at the palisade, or at the Oiler’s Wharf. Something to remember! Chramnesid catches sight of you and looks up from the Roll Call. From on top of the platform, he stares down at you evenly. You know that he is a real stickler for decorum, so you wait for him to address you – otherwise you would be speaking out of turn. Honestly, you do not even know why he makes such a big deal about such things, the man is not titled, patented, or celebrated – Hell, he is not even a Citizen. Still, he has made examples of Lepers before, nothing too serious, not even corporal, just petty. Really, really petty. A whole minute passes as you just stand there. Then another.
Finally, before a third minute can pass, he deigns to speak to you. “What is it, Leper?” “I’m going to have to call out. Though hopefully just for today sir.” “Is that so?” “Yes … ?” “Why?”“… Why what, sir?” “Why are you calling out?” “Oh, well, I’m sick.”“No fooling?” “No, I mean … I’m sicker.” “Really?”Something is wrong. Chramnesid has not said this many words to you in the eight years that you have been here. Worse than that, for once, you do not know what he wants to hear. As things stand however, you are committed to the lie about being sick – acutely sick – and even if you were not, the extra time that you get from calling out could very well mean the difference between life and death later. “Yessir. Really.” “You know, it is considered an actionable offense for a Leper to lie about their illness. Now, typically that means you lot get in trouble for understating how ill they are, but the way the rules are written, it works the other way too. Did you know that?” “Sir, I – I am sick. Sicker. My father, I … I think I might have caught a bit of what he has, or something …:” “Truly?” “Yes.” He goes back to staring – but you realize that he is not staring at you, rather, he seems to be reading something written on a sheet of paper to the side of the Roll Call. More than anything you want to know what is on that paper, but you can barely see it from where you are standing – there is no way that you would be able to read it. Just as you are seriously starting to panic, he speaks again. “Well then. Priam, mark her down as out for today.” …What the Hell just happened? Underneath your steel mask, your face is drawn up in confusion. Seeing that you are not moving, Chramnesid makes a dismissive gesture with his hands, and not wanting to antagonize the man, you bow your head and move off. Seriously though, what the Hell just happened? You glance around furtively, to try to see if the Guards are converging on you or something, but no, they aren’t. In fact, there seem to be fewer than usual around the plaza … and by that, you mean more than just three are missing. Pattern’s Perdition, ‘just’ three. You make your way out of the plaza in a state akin to shock – in fact, you half expect some Guards to follow you out as you leave. But they do not. Then you spent the entire time it takes to walk from the plaza to the Belfry worried that there are going to be Guards waiting for you at the Not-Temple. But there are not any there either. Still worried, you stand at the bottom of the tower, looking up at the Belfry above as you try to figure things out. You are well aware that your guilt and fear can color your perceptions of things, but even accounting for that, what should be made of that interrogation that Chramnesid put you through, or the way he just … gave up?
I guess there's some big ripples going through the Guard at last night's events, both near and far
Maybe … maybe that is normal for him? You know the man almost entirely by reputation, having barely spoken with him. Furthermore, now that you think about it, you do not think that you have ever actually called out when he was the Overseer on duty before in your eight years here. Could it be that this is just how he deals with Lepers that bother him by asking to call out of work? You would not put it past him – the man is a sanctimonious, petty ass … but then there was that paper that he was reading so intently. Now, you know that in his capacity as an Overseer, the man must read quite a bit. In fact, Overseers are basically just senior clerks who have been given some authority, so you cannot immediately jump to any conclusion. And yet – the presence of that paper, right next to the Roll Call, on the night after four Guards turned up dead … you cannot help but wonder if the Guards have learned something or are on their way to figuring something out. As your neck is starting to strain a little from craning upwards under the weight of your mask, you allow yourself to look down, only to recoil with a start when you notice that you are standing directly over the spot where you found the body of the smuggler. Deeply uncomfortable, you sidestep away from the flipped flagstones, and then deciding that you have lingered down here too long, you start your ascent up the tower. Your climbing is not as efficient as usual, as your mind continues to spin your guilt into more and more fear. Things only get worse when you are taking your usual break three-quarters of the way up the tower, when it occurs to you that the paper could be about what happened at the Refinery. You were seen after all. You were in men’s clothes at the time, and you were pretty far away from that watchman, but … is it possible that he got a description? Beyond height and clothes? By the time that you have gotten back inside the Belfry, you are so nervous that instead of immediately heading over to grab the salt and return to the well to take care of the Strangeness you left behind, you start pacing around in circles. How much do they know? How much could they know? And where are all of the missing Guards? Right before you well and truly manage to work yourself up into a frenzy of panic however, a thought blazes across your mind. If that fraying piece of paper has you so worked up, then you should just go find it and read it. Now, obviously, there is no way to definitively prove that the Guards know nothing … but, on the other hand, based on the contents of that paper, you could prove that the Guards know something about what you have been up to last night, or the night before that … or really, anything about you at all. Or father, for that matter. So assuming that the Guards do know something, and you are able to learn what they know by reading that paper, what could you do with that information? Well … that depends, doesn’t it?
Specifically … on the paper itself. Oh, Pattern’s Perdition, you are going to give yourself an ulcer going around in circles like this. Just stop … stop and put it to the side for now. Make your decision later, after you have finished Remediating the well and then yourself. To that end, after you return your spare dress to your room, you grab both of the small purses of sea salt that you bought two days ago, and then stow them safely in the pockets of the Spotted Cloak. There is safety in redundancy, and if you recall, the spot where you lost your fingernail was twelve or so feet off of the bottom of the well. You would hate to accidentally drop all of your salt, and then have to stop the entire process to climb down the rest of the way to retrieve your materials. There is a bit of danger of keeping so much salt on one’s person, as all and sundry know that salt has anti-Strange and anti-magical properties. If someone was found to be loaded down with salt well away from a kitchen, it might be assumed that they were expecting to use the salt to protect them … and that might pique the interest of the Inquisition, if it got back to them. Of course, no one wants to search Lepers, even if they had cause to, so the only time they would be found would be when you had them out to cast your spell – and at that point, you would have more pressing problems. Right before you leave, you refill your flask with water, and tuck it away. You will probably need water to help stick the salt to the rocks, not to mention, if the spell fails, you might have an easier time of washing the salt away then brushing or blowing it away while you hang there. The descent from the Belfry goes without incident, as does your return to the dried well. On your way there this time, you did actually pass a few Lepers out on the streets, but it was no issue, as you are dressed in your Spotted Cloak once more. Blessedly, none of these pedestrians are anywhere near the well as you prowl your way over to it, though you do make a point of thoroughly checking your surroundings as surreptitious as one possibly can while standing in the open. The descent down the well was also pleasantly without incident … though seeing just how much the Strangeness had spread was enough to nip your shaky sense of relief in the bud. Even after getting your finger out of there as soon as possible and Self-Sequestering all of the blood that you could, the Strangeness has spread to about a square yard worth of stone … and you have to wonder how far it has spread to the sandy soil behind it. And you really are going to have to wonder, because you know better than to try to pull stones out of the walls of a well while you are inside of it. Now, if the Strangeness that spread to the soil behind the stone was able to spread back to the stone, then you might have had to reconsidered that. But as far as you know, this is not the case.
One of the later lessons that father taught you about the Strangeness is that under certain circumstances, where the risk to Remediate or Mitigate is simply too high, or the risk posed by the particular patch of Strangeness is low enough, it is acceptable to simply leave it be to dissipate away on its own. As you have already determined, however, this batch meets neither of those two requirements. So, once you position yourself as best you can, you open up the purses and get to work spreading the salt. Remediation and Mitigation magic are typically done piecemeal, or in a ‘chained’ or ‘rolling volley’ cast. For Salt-Remediation, what this means is that some pinches of sea-salt are stuffed in or rubbed on a small portion of the Strangeness. Once the application is complete, the spell is cast onto the salt, and it is stoked until it reaches a point where there is a self-sustaining magical reaction in the targeted portion. At that point you allow the spell to progress while you lay down the next application of salt, and then just as the spell is reaching completion, or running out of either Strangeness to Remediate or salt to work with, you lay down a bridge of sea salt, connecting the spell to the new application site, then cast Salt-Remediation again on the second application site, which is much easier than the first time, because instead of starting from scratch, you are simply topping off an existing, self-sustaining reaction. After that, all you need to do is stoke it a bit, to make sure that you have a decent reaction rate, then you turn your attention to repeating the process with another application site, over and over again, until there is no longer any more Strangeness to Remediate, the spell fails … or the Strangeness that you are targeting becomes inured against Remediation. Well, that is s the textbook version of what you should do. In practice, one typically lays down all of the applications before actually starting the first cast, only leaving the bridges for later. This saves a lot of time, and in the process means that there is one less thing to screw up while you are actually working with magic. The reason that this is not recommended in theory, is that if something happens, and the applications were accidentally bridged prematurely, then it is possible that the spell could reach a self-sustaining reaction at a scale that was unsafe to the caster, the target, and the surroundings. In this case, considering the position that you are going to be casting from, you really do not have any choice in the matter. You are going to have to lay down the applications before you start, because there is no way that you are going to be able to move quickly and safely to get the applications ready with only one hand, hanging fifteen feet off of the ground. You are also going to have to set the application sites really close to one another, to make bridging at the right time possible.
Honestly though, you are more worried about falling than screwing up the spell, and you have never fallen – not from any dangerous height, anyway. The difficult nature of the well wall forces you to set up many small applications, which will ameliorate away just about all of the danger from a failed cast. Of course, it is still within the realm of possibility that a mistake with your magic could produce just enough kickback to knock you off of the wall, or at least imperil your position … but there is really nothing that you can do about that.In spite of the conditions, relatively soon you have the area completely covered with application sites, though by the end of it you ran out of water in your flask, and some of the sites look a little less substantial than the ones that you made first. Still, you are aware of that, and you should be able to work around it when the spell reaches those regions. In fact, you consider starting the spell on one of these relatively ‘impoverished’ sites, and working in reverse, but after considering it for a moment you decide against it. The limited amount of salt means that it will be harder for the spell to take down there, and if you fail to get Salt-Remediation working enough times, then you are going to have to move on to Salt-Mitigation, which despite being easier to cast is notably more dangerous when things go wrong. With nothing else to do here – and so much else to do elsewhere – you take a series of deep breaths, and then cast the first of what will be about four dozen Salt-Remediation spells (not counting stoking), all chained together into one great tapestry. Well, despite not being a textbook cast, the spell starts off with textbook performance. The reaction is immediate, and the rate is just where you want it, giving you enough time to bridge site to site. Beyond a bit of involuntary shuddering when you first initialize the spell, there is no kickback, no caster response – though not to minimize things, shivering like that while hanging onto a wall is not ideal. Of course, if all goes well, you will not need to cast the spell that strong for the rest of the chained cast, which means that this should be the worst of the response that you will get. Before your eyes – glowing once more under your mask – you cane see the Strangeness start to fade away in the area around the first application. Satisfied that you have achieved a self-sustaining reaction, you immediately shift to bridging, and then the process begins in earnest, moving along the tapestry, though once you have made all of the casts that you can from your current position, and you have to move as well as bridge sites, things get a little complicated. Which leads you to making your first mistake. Trying to bridge as many sites as you can without moving, you accidentally bridge a site out of the sequence that you intended, leaving the spell further away from the rest of the application sites that you can bridge.
You might have been able to have to make a bridge work anyway, but out of an abundance of caution, you decide to allow the spell to continue to completion and end, rather than risk disturbing the sites or inadvertently introducing some unknown factor into the cast. Blessedly, this mistake is your first and your last. The second cast is even smoother than the first – to the point that you cannot separate the strain in your muscles from holding your position on the wall to the strain that could be caused by the spell. You make quick work of the rest of the Strangeness, and though your arms are aching, and your eyes are blazing to the point that they feel like coals in your eye sockets, you are smiling broadly. You climb down to the bottom of the well to recover yourself, and allow your eyes to return to normal – or at least, as close to normal as they will ever be. Out of an abundance of caution, you take your respite inside the tunnel, just to make sure that no one could possibly see you in your current state. You wonder if you should do something with all of the salt that you have left behind, but beyond brushing what remains on the wall into the bottom of the well, there really is not much that you can do with it … though that might just be enough, as the salt that did fall down there blends in well with the layer of dirt and grit. So, now all there is left to do down here is wait on your eyes, and to hope that your Remediation goes as well as this well’s. >Please, one roll of 1d100>Critical Success: DC 99 and higher. All of the Strangeness is gone, and you make an illuminating discovery about Self-Remediation, permanently making the process safer. >Complete Success: DC 82 and higher. All of the Strangeness is gone. >Partial Success: DC 62 and higher. You are no longer able to spread the Strangeness. Two more attempts remain.>Partial Failure: DC 61 and lower. You are still able to spread the Strangeness, though perhaps not as fast as before. Two more attempts remain>Complete Failure: DC 41 and lower. You are still able to spread the Strangeness, and you have given yourself some sort of rash on your lower back. One more attempt remains. >Critical-Catastrophic Failure: DC 2 and lower. Something goes seriously wrong with Hide-Eyes, and it can no longer function for extended periods of time. You are also still Strange, and no more attempts remain. >Two Lucky Tenth-Talents available>One Very Lucky Tenth-Talent available.
Rolled 61 (1d100)>>5270730Bathe!
>>5270778Well, no harm, no foul I guess. We still have two chances, on top of two re-rolls and one auto pass (though as per standing rules, we cannot use re-rolls on critical successes or critical-catastrophic failures. Anyway, we are going to need another roll. If you are still around, and no one has rolled in like five or so minutes, feel free to roll again. I'm about to fall asleep, but I want to have vote for everyone while I catch some shuteye.
Rolled 73 (1d100)>>5270793
Good. Just a little bit left. But this is the last attempt. If you do not get rid of all of it this time, we should discuss options. >Please, one roll of 1d100>Critical Success: DC 99 and higher. All of the Strangeness is gone, and you make an illuminating discovery about Self-Remediation, permanently making the process safer. >Complete Success: DC 62 and higher. All of the Strangeness is gone, and to your surprise, you feel as if you can keep casting without issue (reduces difficulty of decoy making) >Partial Success: DC 42 and higher. All of the Strangeness is gone, but all of the magicking you have been doing in such a short time has taken its toll on you (no reduction in the difficult of making decoys) >Partial Failure: DC 41 and lower. You are still marginally Strange, which will complicate magic that is not Remediation or Mitigation (increases difficulty of the decoy making)>Complete Failure: DC 21 and lower. You are still Strange, which will complicate magic that is not Remediation or Mitigation (notable increase in difficulty of the decoy making)>Catastrophic Failure: DC 11 and lower. You are still Strange, which will complicate magic that is not Remediation or Mitigation, and you have given yourself some sort of rash on your lower back (notable increase in difficulty of the decoy making)>Critical-Catastrophic Failure: DC 11 and lower. Something goes seriously wrong with Hide-Eyes, and it can no longer function for extended periods of time. You are also still Strange (notable increase in difficulty of the decoy making)>Two Lucky Tenth-Talents available>One Very Lucky Tenth-Talent available.
Rolled 24 (1d100)>>5270822
>>5270824Well, okay. So as things stand, you are looking at a little bit of an additional malus to overcome on the decoy making - which is up next, as per the standing vote. However, there are some things to consider before moving forward.First, you could use one of the re-rolls or auto-passes to get around this failure.Second, you could try to Mitigate yourself. As mentioned before, Mitigation is easier (though painful) but when it goes wrong, the consequences are much worse than they are with Remediation.Finally, you could just accept the malus. As per the standing vote, Chlotsuintha is just going to be etching some look-alike glyphs into one of the steel balls she found, and then purposely misusing some equipment to dump dangerously levels of Strangeness into the ball. Most likely, if she 'fails' she simply will not produce a Strange enough decoy, though it is possible if she fails badly enough she could damage whatever equipment she was using.>Please choose ONE of the following:>Use re-roll>Use auto-pass>Mitigate self>Move on
>>5270843>Move onSave the rerolls on the decoy itself. It seems my luck in this quest is still Chlot’s Black luck. Lucky me.
>Move onIf anyone wants to crunch statistics with an example malus I would be interested, but saving the reroll for the action itself seems better.
As soon as your eyes stop glowing, you head out, making a point to pass through the area that you used Salt-Remediation on, and only allowing yourself to continue out of the well once you are finally satisfied that there is no trace of the Strangeness left behind. And again, your return to the Belfry is without further incident, though as your stomach started growling on the final stretch of your ascent, it occurred to you that you missed breakfast. No matter – you still have food here, your absence from the cafeteria helps sell your deception of being under the weather, and when possible, Self-Remediations and Mitigations should be performed on an empty stomach. As you are Strange in the Second Degree, any food that is inside of you is Strange in the First Degree and will also be targeted by the Salt-Remediation spell you cast on yourself. Suffice to say, if you lose control of the spell, things can happen to any Strange food inside of you – things that run the gamut from being unpleasant to seriously dangerous. You turn your attention to your tub, which you are going to need to prepare before you can use it in any magicking. First, you will need to deal with the bathwater you left behind last night – or rather, this morning. Even as you just approach the wooden tub, you can already smell the tepid water, cut with the unmistakable scent of soot with the redolence of oil and pigshit and even blood, though you could not say if it was from you or the from the sow. Just how did you manage to go senseless to all of this? Looking at it, the water actually went a little gray from all of the ash, and here and there you can see where the soot lumped up. Or at least … you hope that is soot. Just about ready to start dry heaving, you begin to drag the tub to a window to dump it, when you think better of it. If you can smell all of this in the water, then odds are anyone else who walks by it puddled on the street could smell it too. And that would raise some obvious questions, like, just how did a Leper manage to get this dirty? Now this presents a bit of a dilemma. Obviously, you cannot leave the water in the tub, Self-Remediation requires clean fresh water to work. On top of that, you have no desire to get back into this disgusting batch of bathwater. As the water is only Strange in the First Degree, it would be safe to boil off, but that would take time, and you have used up most of your faggot – if you wanted to boil away all of the water, you would need to start pulling apart pieces of the Belfry for the wood. You could sneak into the ‘sealed off’ sewer, which you are going to have to do anyway later tonight when you start moving things out of the Belfry – however, that is going to be really risky, not to mention involved. You have no choice if you want to save your father’s legacy, but for bathwater … no, not happening. Which means that your only remaining option is to drain the bathtub into the empty casks.
It seems pretty wasteful, considering that you would never be comfortable keeping water in those casks again, but if you have to choose between your safety and two or three baby barrels that father probably … okay, almost certainly did not pay for, then you are going to choose your safety, every single time. Of course, it is one thing to say that you are going to drain the bathtub into the empty casks, it is another thing entirely to actually do it. Eventually you do manage though, somehow without making a complete mess in the process. As you are collecting yourself after setting the tub back down in its spot, you hear Giotto and his baby brothers ring in the sixth hour. The official curfew for Lepers has ended, and those that have work outside of the Midden are being let out into the city. The sound spurs you on, and you rush over to the corner where you and father keep the sundries to grab a fork with a handle thin enough that you could use it as a stirring rod and some earthenware cups. Six of them, two for each of the three attempts that you should get at Remediating yourself before the Strangeness that has not been sequestered away inside of you becomes inured. On your way back to the tub, you grab another flask, this one still filled with the water that you boiled two days ago. Then, with great trepidation, you reach into your pockets and bring out the purses of sea salt. Grimacing, you place several hearty pinches of salt at the bottom of each of the cups, and then you use the filled flask to pour as much water as you possibly can into all of the earthenware. After setting the cups down on the floor, you kneel over them and very carefully stir the water to dissolve the salt while spilling as little of the water as possible. Once you have prepared enough of the solution, you grab two more casks and a kitchen rag. Using as little water as possible, as well as the rag and what little soap you have left, you do your best to clean the bathtub. When you are as satisfied as you ever are going to be, you use the rag the sop up as much of the water and the soap as you can, then you place it on top of the casks containing the soiled bathwater. You rinse the tub, again using as little water as possible, and once you can see that the water is coming up clean enough, you allow yourself to just dump the water onto the floorboards, allowing it to fall to the bottom of the belltower. With the tub clean, you pour the water remaining in the two casks into the tub, and then you start adding salt. By the time that you are satisfied that the bath is salty enough, you have blown through one of your purses of salt. You turn the stained canvas inside out, to make sure that you have gotten everything, then you set the empty purse aside. You move the cups close enough to the bath so you can reach them once you are inside, and then there is nothing left to do but actually get into the bath. Completely clothed this time.
You are sort of pushing the limits of the spell here, but by wearing the Spotted Cloak while casting Salt-Remediation on a saltwater bath, you should be able to draw the cast into the rest of your clothes like you would draw a reaction from one application site to another across a bridge. As you slosh awkwardly while your clothes saturate with the prepared bathwater, you consider getting out and grabbing your spare dress, but you decide against it, as it would just be too many moving parts. Ready as you are ever going to be, you lift your mask up off of your face, grab one of the earthenware cups, and force yourself to choke down the saltwater solution you mixed. Another reason to perform this spell on an empty stomach.Once you are certain that you are going to keep that cup down, you grab for the second. You actually start to retch, but you are able to catch yourself. Not wanting to prolong this any further, you bolt down the rest of the water, which has to be of a comparable salinity to the water in the bath, and shiver as it goes down. After giving yourself a minute, you lower your mask, and you curl up into a ball, squeezing down into the tub, allowing for as much of yourself as possible to be covered in water. The nailbed of your missing fingernail, the nasty cut on your back, and even the interface site where you had the Head-Knocking wand all are fiercely smarting in the saltwater, but you grit your teeth and push down further, ignoring the pain. However, you are not able to ignore when water starts to pour in the mouth hole of your mask. Spluttering, you back out just a little bit, until you are convinced that any unexpected spasms are not going to put you at risk for drowning yourself. In the best position possible under the current circumstances, you start your cast. While this is the same spell that you used in the well – and earlier, on the hearse and in the coffin – you are using it in a radically different way. Instead of discrete piles of salt, the target is single volume of saltwater solution, which means that this is going to be a ‘hammer’ or ‘massed volley’ cast. Now, it is possible to attempt a Remediation on living things piecemeal, but this is not recommended, as you only will get so many attempts to rid the entire body of Strangeness. If you use up all of your attempts and all you manage to Remediate is … the feet for example, then the Strangeness in the rest of the body will still be there, and worse it will be inured. There is also a significant exception to this – casters cannot perform Remediations or Mitigations on themselves piecemeal because the spell exists throughout the entirety of their Form, and so it will act on Strangeness present throughout their Form. The other way that this is different than a typical Salt-Remediation cast is that instead of targeting the salt, you are targeting the water. And yes, there is a distinction between saltwater and water.
There is a lot of theory behind it, but the basic version is that by targeting the water instead of the salt (or the saltwater) the spell has to make its way to the salt to activate, and it is because of this buffer that so much salt, relative to the amounts used for similarly sized and similarly Strange inanimate objects are used. This intermediate step acts like a buffer, throttling down the spell, and allowing the caster a much higher level of control over the spell than what would normally be possible at the scale of the Remediation or Mitigation. That kind of control is necessary when dealing with living objects, especially if the caster is casting on themselves. It simply is a matter of safety, and by extension, comfort.That being said, at this moment, you would not describe this process as ‘safe’ or ‘comfortable’. Not only did you seriously think you were drowning for a solid five or six seconds after you got the wind completely knocked out of you, but you have also gone and ended up drinking more saltwater by accident. Which, as far as the spell is concerned at least, is not necessarily a bad thing. For the best results from an indirect cast like this, you want as much of yourself as possible in contact with saltwater, which is one of the reasons why you had to choke down those two cups (the other reason is to make sure that the cast has proper penetration, as it will bridge its way from the water outside and into your body as it tries to connect to the water inside your gut, remediating away as it goes).One of the good things about hammer casting is that you do not need to mother hen the magic – so long as you get it right at the start you can just stand back and let it work on its own. Unfortunately, you are not managing to get it right at the start, and you are having a hard time getting your hands back around it – figuratively speaking, that is. You struggle with it the best you can, but at some point, the whole cast just stops, and you are so inundated with saltwater that at first you cannot tell if the spell went to completion properly or it just failed.Feeling battered (and unusually buoyant), you pull yourself out of your crouch, and looking down as water pours out through the holes and from underneath your mask, you strain to see if your clothes are still Strange. Short of pricking your finger and examining your blood, this is the best way to test yourself, as the Strange-Staining scarification glyph does not work on yourself, by design. There is some improvement, certainly, but once you blink your glowing eyes clear of the salt water, you can plainly see that there is still Strangeness present on the cloak, which means that you are definitely still Strange. You might have expected as much, but the real test will be if you are still Strange enough to spread the Strangeness. After you pull off your glove shake your uninjured hand dry, you touch a relatively dry portion of the Spotted Cloak and then you wait.
To your immense relief, the Strangeness does not spread. You pull the glove back on, give yourself a minute to compose yourself, and then you reach for the next two earthenware cups of solution. If anything, choking it down is even harder the second time … and that seems to carry over to the actual casting of the spell as well. Its just … very hard to get it right out of the gate, especially when you are three-quarters submerged and convulsing at the time. When the second cast finally ends and you come up to check, you are disappointed to see that your clothes are still Strange. Less Strange than they were a minute or so ago, perhaps, but still quite Strange. It is possible that the Strangeness present on your clothes and in your body has become inured against Remediation already, but you force yourself to make the three attempts you planned for.Unfortunately, determination is not a guarantor of success. The third cast, which will definitely be your last was hardest to bear, and as far as you can tell, it did not even manage to put a dent into the Strangeness present in your clothes, so you can only imagine that it did not do anything for the Strangeness still present in your body, either. Feeling defeated, you get out of the tub and head towards your room. Hopefully, you will have more success with making the decoy graven ball … but you still need to decide what equipment you are going to use – or rather, misuse – to make it.>To produce an adequately Strange graven ball decoy, you are going to have to misuse a piece of equipment, risking damage to it in the process. Or you could use yourself, though that has is own issues. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Use the Life Loom. You are the most familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the easiest, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you can do the most on.>Use the Fetish Foundry. You are the least familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the hardest, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you can do the least on.>Use the Glyphery. You are not particularly familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the hard, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you cannot do much on. >Use whatever is left of the piglet to enter into a Strange Fever. You will not risk any of the equipment, but there is the risk of making noise, venting, and becoming more Strange than you were before the Self Salt-Remediation. (Note, you can only enter into a Strange Fever when you are Strange in the First Degree, or less)
>Use the Life Loom. You are the most familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the easiest, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you can do the most on.
>>5271460>>Use the Life Loom. You are the most familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the easiest, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you can do the most on.
>>5271460>Use the Glyphery. You are not particularly familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the hard, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you cannot do much on. This is what we'd use to make a something like a real version of the graven ball, yes?
>>5271460>Use whatever is left of the piglet to enter into a Strange Fever. You will not risk any of the equipment, but there is the risk of making noise, venting, and becoming more Strange than you were before the Self Salt-Remediation. (Note, you can only enter into a Strange Fever when you are Strange in the First Degree, or less)honestly I am just curious about this option.
>>5271460>>Use the Glyphery. You are not particularly familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the hard, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you cannot do much on.
>>5271543With a little focus, any magic user can temporarily strengthen their connection to their Form, allowing them to perform feats of magic that they would not be able to otherwise. There are of course, serious drawbacks to this, the biggest being that this connection requires fuel - and that is separate from whatever they need to perform whatever spell they are attempting. They will basically start consuming the most readily available fuel that they are in direct contact with - either magical fuel, like fuel nodules, or mundane stuff like oil or wood. If nothing like that is available, then they will consume anything that will burn at all, which includes equipment and clothes that have not been proofed against fire. Once they work through that, then caster will start to cook themselves, slowly raising their body temperature well past the point hyperthermia to fatal levels. Hence the name, Strange Fever. If nothing disrupts them, they will continue to cook after they fall unconscious, right up to the point that they die. It should be noted that the state of Strange Fever only refers to the point when the caster is cooking themselves - typically you have about a minute and a half before you are risking permanent damage, and another thirty seconds before you are risking unconsciousness. One of the things that sets a Witchlet apart from a Witch is that a Witch has demonstrated their ability to safely and stably use fuel sources to strengthen their connection to their Form for prolonged periods of time without slipping into Strange Fever once. Those non-Strange Fever states have names and statuses as well, but Chlotsuintha is simply not strong enough yet to reach them. Despite the power that it affords, Strange Fever is a dangerous and thoroughly inconvenient state. Even if Chlotsuintha is not able to harness power from fuel (and by fuel, I mean burnable substances) that does not mean that she wont start burning it when she enters Strange Fever. You also have to be naked, or at the very least, wearing fireproof or fire-resistant clothes (wool doused in water or fire retardant, something like that), or you risk burning yourself as your clothes are consumed - so it is not something that can be used in combat typically. You will also vent Miasma, a byproduct of the Firmament itself heating up in a specific area. It does not spread Strangeness, but it is visible to everyone with any magical ability, including those who are just latently magical. It is also dangerous to inhale a lot of it so you need to either enter the state while you are in a ventilated area, or you need to keep moving - though if you do move, you are more likely to make Noise, which is another byproduct of messing with the Firmament. Imagine if a steam whistle could scream in agony, and you have a pretty good idea of what it sounds like. The caster hears the Noise as if it was in the distance, but everyone else hears it as if it was coming straight from the caster.
>>5271670And I mean everyone, not limited to just those with magical ability. To learn more of the Many Mysteries, Chlotsuintha is going to have to get comfortable with using Strange Fever to dip her toes into magic that she would otherwise not be capable of working with yet, as well as mastering the safer, more stable states beyond Strange Fever. Anyway, I have already posted in the general, so I am going to grab dinner and wait for a tiebreaker. Hopefully we can make the decoy, then have an overnight vote on what to do next.
Are we going to use our auto pass here or not? If we do then the Glyphery will do, if not then perhaps the life loom?
>>5271460>>Use the Glyphery. You are not particularly familiar with this piece, so making it on this will be the hard, but the flip side of that is you risk damaging the equipment that you cannot do much on.this seems a decent middleground, and is more 'authentic' a forgery to boot. the right equipment makes forging a lot easierI'd like to find places where chlot can strange fever herself in the future but right now she's already strange, is a bit short on fuel, and the strangeness in her is inured. wait for those last bits to dissipate so she doesn't pre-inure all the strangeness she gets for the next twenty years
>>5272180And here we go, that is three votes for risking the Glyphery, against two votes for the Life Loom and one for doing it 'DIY'.>>5272163That is an option, but you can roll first, then decide if you want to use the re-roll or auto-pass, UNLESS you get a Critical. Then you are stuck. I suppose there could be a vote to use the auto-pass before the roll to avoid that risk, though. Below is the DC table for the action. The first attempt will take about an hour, but nearly all of that time is just making the markings on the ball. The actual magical part will take a few seconds at most. Depending on what happens, the next attempt (if there is one) might take an hour, or it might take just a few seconds. If a Partial Success is rolled, a vote will be held to use the decoy or attempt to make another. If a Partial Failure is rolled, a vote will be held to use the decoy, attempt to put more Strangeness into the ball, or attempt to make another. If a Catastrophic Failure is rolled, then a vote will be held to attempt to make another decoy on the Glyphery, attempt to make the decoy on another piece of equipment, or take the time and try to diagnose what is wrong with the Glyphery. >Critical Success: DC 99 and higher. It is not just that the decoy that you have made is very good, but you actually managed to learn something about the real graven ball in the process. >Complete Success: DC 77 and higher. You have managed to create an adequate decoy without damaging the Glyphery. No small feat!>Partial Success: DC 57 and higher. You have managed to create a decoy that might be too Strange. Maybe you should try again?>Partial Failure: DC 56 and lower. You have managed to create a decoy that is not quite Strange enough. Maybe you should try again?>Complete Failure: DC 36 and lower. You were not able to produce any Strangeness in the decoy, but at least you did not damage the Glyphery. >Catastrophic Failure: DC 10 and lower. You were not able to produce any Strangeness in the decoy, and in the process you think you have damaged something, but you are not sure what.>Critical-Catastrophic Failure: DC 2 and lower.. You have produced Strangeness, just in the Glyphery, not the decoy. You will have to wait until it dissipates to learn the full extent of the damage.>Two Lucky Tenth-Talents available>One Very Lucky Tenth-Talent available.Now, I do not want to ignore player requests, but at the same time, I do not want things to grind to halt again. So we are going to vote on using the auto-pass immediately, to avoid the 2% risk that you land on an outcome that you cannot use the auto-pass to ignore (actually it is 4%, because you could not use the auto-pass if you rolled a Critical Success either, but that does not make any sense in this case, because the auto-pass gives a Complete Success). >Please choose ONE of the following:>Use the auto-pass right now>Accept the risk, and roll first insteadAlso, don't bother rolling, it will not count.
>>5272285>>Use the auto-pass right now
A 2% risk is not worth burning our autopass, we don't need to act like it's burning a hole in our pocket. I'm sure plenty of bad stuff will happen later.>Accept the risk, and roll first instead
>>5272285>Accept the risk, and roll first instead
>>5272398>>5272344>>5272289Alright, vote closed. May our luck run white, and may I get one roll of 1d100.
Rolled 15 (1d100)>>5272404
Well ... at least you can try again on the same ball, so at the very least you do not need to spend another hour preparing a second one. I need another 1d100 please, on the DC table from >>5272285.
Rolled 88 (1d100)>>52724551
>>5272470Great! I will get to writing this up. In the meantime, you will need to vote for what to do next. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Head to the late Aldoin's House to investigate.>Prepare everything for the move tonight.>Break into the Guardhouse to learn what they know.>Go to the Liveries to buy a carriage or wagon.>Write-ins allowed at QM's discretion.
>>5272519>>Go to the Liveries to buy a carriage or wagon.I presume we're going to need one to get out with all our stuff.Although I imagine we'll need our nice clothes to do this first, and I don't remember if that's ready to pick up yet. I'll change my vote if not I suppose.
>>5272519>>Prepare everything for the move tonight.A quiet night would probably be good for us.
>>5272519Collect our new clothes
>>5272522Yes, we are going to need one to get out of the Mount. As for the clothes, you do not know for sure, but they could be done already. All you heard from Hortingea was that you needed to pick them up by the eighteenth hour, or you would have to pick them the day up after tomorrow, as she does not work on Titheday. You could swing by and check in, and if they needed a little more time, you could do something else. >>5272533As going to the Liveries and not making too much of a scene there requires getting the nicer clothes, I'm going to count this vote as a vote for going there ... unless you say otherwise, of course.
> You could swing by and check in, and if they needed a little more time, you could do something else.I would be up for this.
>>5272519>Head to the late Aldoin's House to investigate.We really need to investigate this house before it links back to us in some fashion.
>>5272519>Go to the Liveries to buy a carriage or wagon.
>>5272285>Accept the risk, and roll first insteadit's retarded to waste that on a 2% chance. Trash quests making anons paranoid I swear.
>>5272533>>5272639yes do this. And eat and sleep.
>>5272519>>Head to the late Aldoin's House to investigate.
After giving yourself a bit to think it over, you decide to use the Glyphery, because it is not as valuable to you as the Life Loom, and you are more familiar with it than the Fetish Foundry. Using the clean portions of the clothes you stole off of the dead Comptroller, you dry yourself off the best you can, pull your spare dress over your head, then grab a fistful of the steel balls you pinched, the ones from the prototype … whatever it was. Anyway, with a bit of white luck, you hope to be able to get this done on the first try, or at least, the first ball. Engraving or Scrivening, with or without the benefit of magic is a time-consuming process. You would hate to sink an hour into etching out a decoy, only to have it ruined and have to start over. On your way out of your room, you grab the actual graven ball for reference, winching as some of it flakes off as you pick it up. You start to head upstairs, only to realize that even if you are not going to be Engraving with the Glyphery, you are still going to need to run the damned thing. Keeping the real graven ball cradled safely in your hand, you stuff the others into your pockets, and swing into the main room of the Belfry to grab the remaining purse of sea salt, for the catalyst, and the half-gallon of olive oil for fuel. You drop the salt and oil off at the Glyphery, but instead of sitting down there, you head over to father’s mundane workbench instead. The tooling for the Glyphery is rather delicate, and you have never actually tried using it while the Glyphery was in operation. You cannot recall father ever telling you not to use it when it wasn’t … but by the same token, he never said that you could, either. And he always did his mock-ups using mundane tools, so you figure that you should do the same. Now, once you pop one of the fresh balls into the vice and find the drawer that has all of the files, then you will be ready to go. Well … actually, maybe not. This is the first chance that you have had to actually attempt to read the engravings, and they do not make a lot of sense. That is not to say that it is completely inscrutable. On the contrary, you actually recognize the Language. It is just … the Syntax is odd, and the Glyph looks incomplete. There are all these states referenced in the main Loop here, but barely any of them have been defined. And on top of that, it is not clear what the function of the Glyph actually is. But it is not like you could be missing a portion of the Glyph, you know you have the entire ball. And of course, whoever made fraying thing did not leave a single solitary comment. Talk about discourteous. Ah, to Hell with it. You do not have the time to really study it right now, and what’s more, you do not need to. You just need to copy it, as best as you can. Make something that looks like the original and is as Strange as the original. No need to even think about it. In fact, it would be better if you didn’t. Just get it done.
Time passes as you work on the counterfeit graven ball. While you had intended to fully focus on the engraving of the counterfeit, you have found that the work is very, very mindless, and you find your attention wandering back to the enigma of this thing. Even though you have read the whole thing a dozen times over now, and are well into the copying, you do not feel as if you are any closer to understanding how this object worked, or what it did.But while there are no clues for coming from the Glyph itself, you do recall something significant that might give a hint as to what the Glyph actually does when active. Now, Aldoin’s mortal coil had been absolutely mangled by the Coroners, clearly in a desperate attempt to stave off the Strangeness, to the point that one of his legs had fallen off. At the time, you never really looked that closely at the body – you were much more concerned about the suspicious purse of salt that had been nailed to the foot of the coffin, which is where the graven ball had been stowed – but when none of Aldoin’s surviving male relations showed up to his funeral armed, it clued you in to something big. No one at that funeral thought he had been murdered, or even thought that his death was the least bit suspicious. Now, if you were to come across a body that had a musket ball size hole in it, with the musket ball still inside, you would be pretty comfortable with saying that this man was shot. There is no reasonable way explain why people would overlook a gunshot wound, which means that the only possible explanation is that there never was a gunshot wound. Accepting this, that means that the Glyph has to work in one of two ways. It is either some sort of Shadow Phasing spell that allows a musket ball to kill without leaving physical evidence behind, excluding the ball itself, or the Glyph is some kill-on-contact spell, and the graven ball is not a musket ball after all, and was never actually shot at Aldoin, instead, it was just given to him somehow, or it was put somewhere where he would pick it up. Which would probably be the way to use a weapon like that. Imagine it. If someone saw an engraved steel ball just lying somewhere, you would suspect that a lot of people would pick it to look at it. And now that you consider it, the only reason that you assumed that the graven ball was a musket ball in the first place was because you found it in a coffin. Sure, it is the right size for pistol, but how many people would make that connection … or that it was magical? Of course, as far as weapons go, it does leave a bit to be desired. What if the intended target doesn’t pick it up? What if the target doesn’t even see it? What if someone else picks it up before the target? And more importantly, why was it still in his possession when Aldoin was brought to the Morgue? Even if no one recognized it as magical weapon, surely someone would want to investigate it further.
All of that does seem to point towards it being a musket ball after all.By the time that you have finished the decoy, you really have not figured anything else out. Even though you were not expecting to, you cannot help but feel disappointed. Well, whatever. Maybe if you sleep on it, something will come to you. Or if you ever do make it to Aldoin’s house, you might find something capable of shedding some light on this. But now, it is time to finish the decoy. You grab the counterfeit, and head over to the Glyphery, checking the crook of your arm where you socketed your wand and the Life Loom before it.After checking to make sure that the needle is clean, you seat it, as close as you can to holes from earlier. There really has to be a better way to do this – if you keep this up, you’ll deflate the vein before you finish your education. You disconnect everything you can from the core, your reasoning being that in the worst-case scenario, if it is not plugged in, then you cannot decalibrate or destroy it. Once you have the Glyphery down to just the bare bones of what it needs to run, you load the fuel and the catalyst into the internal chambers, then you use the hand crank to pressurize the core.As you are sitting there, going over everything in your head, it occurs to you that things might be a bit more temperamental than usual – and not just because you are still Strange. You are also going to be trying to run the Glyphery without anything in the Inkpot, something that you have never done before, and more importantly, something that you do not know if it can be done – or if it should. Just like using the tooling without the core active. You rub at the back of your neck while you wonder what would happen if you put olive oil, or water into the Inkpot, just to have something in there. Does the Ink act as a lubricant? Is there even anything on the Glyphery that requires lubrication? Or maybe it just needs the presence of some liquid to work properly, like how Remediating or Mitigating living things requires a saltwater solution instead of just piles of salt because of the way the magic works.Okay, thinking about it logically, dumping Strangeness into the decoy should take … what, ten seconds? Fifteen at the absolute most? Engraving or Scrivening even simple Glyphs takes hours, while more complex ones are done incrementally over the course of days. With nothing else to go on, you have to believe that when the standard operation of the implement is takes hours, running it without Ink for a few seconds should not damage anything. It can’t be that delicate, right?Actually … oh, Maker’s Mercy, will you pull your head out of your ass before you suffocate yourself? You are going to do this, so why the Hell are you always trying to second guess or talk yourself out of doing exactly what you know you need to do? If anything feels off, then you will stop it – by wrenching the needle right out of your arm if you have to.
You calm yourself down the best you can and focus yourself on the task in front of you. All things considered, it is going to be quite difficult to dump Strangeness without actually casting anything and without damaging the implement. Once you think you are as ready as you are ever going to be, you place the decoy onto the work area and secure it the best you can, despite its awkward shape. Then you rummage around the workbench until you find the Engraving Leads – these are the Glyphery equivalent to the Pinning Needles that the Life Loom uses. Just like you were taught, you attach them to the Core first, and then only once they secure, you dab a drop of Flux that you found with the Leads, and then you attach them to the decoy, careful to make sure that they go on the ball in the same order that you hooked them into the Core.Even though you are not actually going to be Engraving a glyph, you also make a point to make sure that the heads of the leads on the ball are evenly spaced as possible, and then as an added security, you use one of the unused straps to batten down the leads into a nice tight bundle, to help make sure that they don’t get all tangled if the ball was somehow to work itself free. With everything set up, you go over a checklist in your head, to make sure that you have not forgotten anything, or are trying to do something that is magically impossible or dangerous. When you finish and conclude that you have not forgotten anything, and the only mildly dangerous thing you are doing here is what you set out to do – deliberately misuse an implement, you are ready to start. You reach out into the Form and the Glyphery simultaneously, allowing yourself to become a conduit between the two. There is a split second of strain, bone shaking strain that causes your peripheral vision to go black, but just as quick as it comes, it is gone, and you can smell the olive oil in the core cooking away. It seems that you did manage to get a reaction going, but it remains to be seen if you are going to get what you want out of this. You notice immediately that the Glyphery itself feels different. If an inanimate object could feel anxious, that is how you would describe it. It is not the only one – you are getting increasing anxious too. Besides the growing tension and tightness around the socket in the crook of your arm, you cannot actually feel anything else happening. Now, you have never done this before, so you do not know if you should be feeling anything, but as you approach the fifteen seconds that you thought would be more than enough to dump the Strangeness into the decoy with no additional response from the Glyphery, and no evidence of the Strangeness spreading from your Strange-Staining Glyph, you start to worry. And when you start to smell something burning that definitely is not olive oil, you slip straight into full blown panic. You actually do end up stopping the reaction by pulling the Socketing Needle out of your arm.
Your search illuminated by the light of your beaming eyes, it does not take long for you to find what was burning – and what went wrong with the reaction. Apparently, the wrapping on one of the Leads wore out, and because you bundled them together with a strap, it was the perfect storm for a short. That would explain why you were barely feeling any response from the Glyphery. Frustrated at your stupid mistake, but relieved that at least nothing irreplaceable was damaged, you tenderly prod at the ball to make sure there was no buildup of heat or static, or anything else. When you are satisfied that the ball is safe to touch, you pull the Leads off of it, in the reverse of the order that you put them on, then you do the same for the other ends of the Leads hooked into the Core. Then you remove the two shorted ones and set them aside. They are technically considered consumables, but as you have no idea how to make replacements, you are going to hold on to these, and try to see if you can get them into working order once more. After fishing out the two fresh Leads, you turn your attention to the Core. As you open the valve up and allow the core to depressurize, but to you surprise, there is no hiss of air whistling its way to freedom. Confused, you open the valve up all of the way, but there is still no release of air. Wondering what the Hell is going on, you open up the fuel and the catalyst compartments, half expecting the door to pop open from the pressure as soon as you unlatch it … but instead, is just swings lazily open. What … ? Wait a minute. If the Core was pressurized – hermitically sealed, then how were you able to smell the olive oil cooking? Pattern’s Perdition, you are such an idiot! It takes a few more minutes for you to finish working everything out, but those ‘extra’ components you pulled off of the Gylphery? It seems that at least half of them are actually needed to run the damned thing, because otherwise the Core is just going to be open to the atmosphere. And the valve that you thought was pressurizing the Core, all it did was close off an intake for an optional external fuel line. It just happens to look identical to the valve that actually does the pressurization, and when the Gylphery is fully assembled, they are right next to each other. Swearing under your breath at yourself the entire time, you finish reassembling the Glyphery, checking to make sure that you can pressurize the entire system. When you still cannot get the Core to hold pressure, you are seriously considering giving up … until you realize that the Inkpot is still open to the atmosphere. Once you have gotten that taken care, you try one more time. Sealing off all of the intakes, cranking the pressurization valve, then opening one of the intakes just an eighth of a turn. Finally feeling and hearing the jet of air, you compulsively laugh in triumph, before getting embarrassed at your outburst – and your paltry ‘triumph’.
In a frustrated silence, you load fresh fuel and catalyst into the Core, and then you attach the Leads in the proper series. After readying yourself once more, you reach out again … and immediately this attempt is going differently than the last. Instead of that split second of shaking like last time, you get this gradually spreading dull ache deep in your bones. You cannot feel any of the tension you did last time in the Glyphery, either. But most importantly, you can actually see Strangeness start to accumulate onto the decoy. You allow yourself a shaky sob of relief as you prepare to disengage – properly this time. Once you are certain that the ball is Strange enough to pass, you deliberately break your concentration, and the reaction in the Core grinds to a halt. Moving quickly, you pluck the Leads off of the ball, and use a pair of leaded tongs to get the decoy into your purse, making sure that it is completely surrounded by salt.The Flux kept the Strangeness from entering the Leads, so the only parts of the Glyphery that were exposed were the straps that you used to the hold the ball down and the working surface itself, though the contact was limited enough that as soon as you removed the ball, the Strangeness stopped spreading.This turned out to be a Hell of lot more difficult than you expected. Could you imagine if you actually tried to make a Glyph? You would probably be here through Titheday! Which reminds you … you have to pick your dresses up from Hortingea today by the eighteenth hour or you will have to leave them behind. She made a point of telling you that her store was closed on Titheday, which just so happens to fall on the seventh day. Perhaps those dresses are ready already? With everything hanging over your head, you are eager at the prospect of actually finishing something. And even if the dresses were not ready, there are other things that you could do if you were out and about in the Mount. Most shops will be closed tomorrow, so if you are going to buy a horse and carriage, you should plan on doing it today. There are other things you could go shopping for … and there is Aldoin’s house. You have been putting it off, but if you were going to investigate it, this might be the last opportunity that you get as right now, it looks like you are going to be spending the entire night moving house.Now, for shopping, you will need money – which you have plenty of. But for investigating an occupied house filled with the Strangeness – if you did get there, and decide to go – you would want salt, water and weapons. And considering that every time you sneak in and out of the Midden, you are taking a risk, it makes sense to carry everything with you, and then make the decision on going later. So, uh … there is the purse of salt that you found the original graven ball in, and you have your flask for water. But beyond those two stilettoes, you really do not have much ready to go as far as weapons are concerned.
The stub-club is gone, and you would need to wear something to conceal the duck foot if you were to carry it. Or the smallsword – Maker’s Mercy, so much has happened you had almost forgotten you had stolen a sword! There are only a few pieces of clothing left in the Belfry that are large enough to conceal those weapons, and none of them are safe for you to wear. The Spotted Cloak, which you obviously cannot just walk around in, the Great Coat you stole from the Comptroller’s Station, which is clearly a man’s coat – suitable for the Sleep Season, mind you – and your father’s old Inquisitor’s robes and Cleanser’s gear, which again, you cannot walk around in, for obvious reasons. The wand of Head Knocking would be perfect, but it got exposed to the Strangeness after that last bit of overcasting consumed enough of the salt, allowing your touch to spread Strangeness directly into the wand. It is not like it is unusable in its current state, bit it will not be as easy to work with, nor will it be as safe – for you, or for your targets. That said, if you wanted to take the time, you could try to remediate it, but doing that to actual magical implements is tricker than just cleansing some mundane object that happened to get Strange. There is a real risk that you could damage the wand. >Please choose ONE of the following: >Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons. >Take the wand as is. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantages that magical implements offer – and that is even factoring in any issues with the wand caused by its current state.>Remediate the wand. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantage that stable, properly functioning magical implements offer. Accept the risks to the wand, and perform one more remediation.
>>5273892>Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons.
>>5273892Will the wand naturally dissipate it’s strangeness, or are we forced to mitigate it to make it stable? Really makes the wand a bit shit now if it turns into an one-use wonder.>Take the wand as is. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantages that magical implements offer – and that is even factoring in any issues with the wand caused by its current state.Regardless, I think taking it with is a bit of a non-choice. We’re already strange, so if sort of defeats the purpose of leaving it behind to avoid the notice of the Inquisitors and Cleaners that we’ll inevitably meet today while getting our clothes, and while risking more strangeness and our life on Schrödinger‘s Dirty Bomb is stupidly excessive dangerous, I’m betting top dollar that our Black Luck will put us in a situation where it’d be preferable to use it regardless of whether we bring it or not.
>>5273932It will dissipate over time. as will most things exposed to the Strangeness. And it is only first degree, so it should not take too long either.
>>5273939Between one and three days, to be specific.
>>5273892>Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons. I think Chlot is a little skeeved out by the wand, and finds her immediate use of it somewhat revolting to herself. If she doesn't have the option she won't put herself in a situation where she needs to use it. And it wouldn't be like her night escapade - this will be in broad daylight, literally, when people are up and about and more likely to see and shout and spread the news.
>>5273962Wouldn’t that make knocking them out even more effective than trying to silence them in melee? This is assuming our luck turns Black and we are forced into such a combat situation in broad daylight.
>>5273939>>5273941Also thanks for the explanation QM, that does help put some perspective into things.
>>5273892>>Take the wand as is. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantages that magical implements offer – and that is even factoring in any issues with the wand caused by its current state.
Okay, I am going to cook some dinner, and hopefully, when I get back we will have a tiebreaker. >>5273971No problem. I always feel like I am either over-explaining or under-explaining everything. Anyway, if you or anyone else has questions about something that either Chlotsuintha would know, or has to do with quest mechanics, and odds are I can clear that up for you.
>>5273892>Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons. I'm opposed to going to the house.
If we're going to the House we should take something to protect ourselves. If not then it's not necessary. So yeah.... Maybe a vote on going to the house first?
>>5274117You know anon, you are absolutely right. It really does not make that much sense making this decision without knowing if Chlotsuintha is going to the house or not. I'm sorry that I have to do this, but consider >>5273892 this vote canceled. We will redo it, after I close this one. >Please choose ONE of the following:>Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today, probably after going to the Livery>Do not Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today (could potentially go later, assuming that there was time - which there might not be)
>>5274277>>Do not Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today (could potentially go later, assuming that there was time - which there might not be)Do not exhaust ourselves for little gain. We can try sneaking in later.
>>5274277>>5274277>Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today, probably after going to the LiveryWe need to investigate our only other lead to our Father. Simple as.
>>5274277>Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today, probably after going to the LiveryFor Father. I’m not about to let him go into the unknown without at least attempting to find him.
>>5274277>>Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today, probably after going to the Livery
>>5274277>>Do not Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today (could potentially go later, assuming that there was time - which there might not be)
>Do not Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today (could potentially go later, assuming that there was time - which there might not be)
>>5274277>Do not Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today (could potentially go later, assuming that there was time - which there might not be)
Figures that it would be a 50-50 split. This is something that is important enough that I don't want to roll for it, so I guess we will all have to wait for a tiebreaker.
>>5274277>Investigate Aldoin's House sometime today, probably after going to the LiveryAnd we’ll break into the guardhouse later tonight.
>>5275043>And we’ll break into the guardhouse later tonight.For the love of the Patternmaker can we not?
>>5275043Okay, with five of the nine votes cast, we are going to Aldoin's house today. So, now that we know that we are going, we can properly do this vote. If you voted on >>5273892, please vote again, otherwise it will not count. >Please choose ONE of the following: >Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons. >Take the wand as is. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantages that magical implements offer – and that is even factoring in any issues with the wand caused by its current state.>Remediate the wand. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantage that stable, properly functioning magical implements offer. Accept the risks to the wand, and perform one more remediation.
>>5275058>Take the wand as is. You simply cannot ignore the massive advantages that magical implements offer – and that is even factoring in any issues with the wand caused by its current state.
>>5275058>Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons.
>>5275058>>Leave the wand behind. You are either not going to be going to Aldoin’s house, or if you are, you will rely on stealth and if necessary, more … mundane weapons.
>>5239981I was going through the thread and I realized I never addressed the question about the flight ring. There are three reasons. Continuous and direct exposure to lead is harmful to those with magical ability, more harmful than just typical lead poisoning. The Socket had been designed to work while shielded with lead, but the Ring had not. The efficiency and stability of the spell would have been impeded. And even if the Mitigator could be exposed to the lead safely, and the spell could work with it, you would need about fifteen to twenty pounds of the stuff to shield the control rings on the fingers, the conduits and the mount on her back. That would reduce the performance of the Ring simply by introducing more weight that the implement had to overcome.> DC 33: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is a Born and Bred Sneakthief, making a basic Stealth Test like this [Easy]> + DC 7 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Hard to Miss, given her size> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Known in the Midden> + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is dressed in a way that make her easier to identify than usual> + DC 2 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is now Drained I, and is not moving as quickly as she should> + DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting stealth in broad daylight> - DC 15 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has Complete Knowledge of the Midden> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in an area with concealment> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth in a very poorly trafficked area> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is attempting Stealth at a time when potential witnesses would be distracted> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha has successfully managed a similar stealth test recently> DC 22: Anything lower is a failure. [Two re-roll(s) available. No hostile re-roll(s)]>No Passes: Well, what do we have here? You are seen - and recognized - entering the dried up well.>One Pass: What is that echo? You just manage to duck into the well just before a bystander walks by where you would be seen, but the hear noises coming from the well.>Two Passes: Well, what did you expect? The purse of salt that you pinched from Aldoin's coffin opens up in your pocket. You do not realize until it starts falling out.>Three Passes: Wishing it would always be this easy. You avoid detection, and before you know it you are out in Stickport without any further issue.>If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Chlotsuintha is seen, recognized - and loses the nail as well, directly tying her to the blood in the well.>If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Chlotsuintha finds a cache that her father must have left behind.>A Critical Failure overrides a Critical Success and a Near-Critical Success, but a Critical Success overrides a Near-Critical Failure.>Criticals and Near-Criticals cannot be reversed by a re-roll or an auto-pass.>Three rolls of 1d100 please!
>>5275546>Continuous and direct exposure to lead is harmful to those with magical ability, more harmful than just typical lead poisoning. This is the reason that Chlotsuintha typically wears gauze wrapped around her entire face, instead of just her eyes.
Rolled 93 (1d100)>>5275546
Rolled 32 (1d100)>>5275546
Rolled 63 (1d100)>>5275546
>>5275549I wonder if everyone in this world is fucked in the brains because of lead poisoning.
>>5276408They probably would consider it a natural desease at this point.
Honestly, you are not sure what the best call is here. Maybe you are thinking about this backwards. Instead of deciding now on whether to take the wand or not, and then later decide on whether to poke through Aldoin’s house, perhaps you should decide on going there first, and then on taking the wand or not. Because right now, even with the mess down at the Oilers Wharf, and with the other kind of mess at the Morgue, that unassuming domicile might be the most dangerous place in the entire Mount at the moment. There has to be more Strangeness in that house than there is in the Morgue – in fact, now that you think about it, at the funeral, you did see footfalls that were Strange in the Second Degree, evidence that there were portions of floor in the house that were Strange in the Third Degree, as Strange as the real graven ball was before you cast Salt-Mitigation on it. It is possible that there are spots that are even worse, but Third Degree is bad enough. At that level, you are risking property or even material change of anything that heavily exposed. And if the material properties of a structural beam were to spontaneously change, that could be enough to collapse the house.Now, ‘risk’ is not ‘guarantee’. And the odds of something like that happening are really minuscule at the Third Degree … but it is possible, and going off of the turnaround time that it takes from death to burial, you know that it has been three days at most since he died – oh, wait, no fours days now. Even if the odds are shit, play them long enough, and eventually …You realize right then that despite all of the dangers, you are going to go to Aldoin’s House. Setting aside the risk of the place falling apart before you could get there, you are really running out of time to investigate the only potential lead you have to father. That is all there is to it really. And if you are going to be sneaking your way through a presumably occupied house, then you simply cannot do without that wand. Which also means that you cannot afford to take the chance of damaging or destroying it in a Salt-Remediation spell gone wrong. No, you are going to take that fraying thing as is.So, you go retrieve ‘that fraying thing’ as well as all of the working fuel nodules. As you are going to be doing a lot of climbing between here and there, you not going to be able to put the Socketing Needle in right now. That suits you just fine though – that thing hurts. You change out of your spare dress and into your Spotted Cloak, which is still wet from your half-successful attempts at Self Remediation, then making sure you have the pin-stilettos in your boots, a filled water flask around your waist and the slit purse of salt that you pinched from Aldoin’s coffin in your pockets, along with the Wand of Head Knocking and the fuel nodules to operate it. And of course, your spare dress to change into, the slips for both of the dressmakers, and coins, all in larger denominations.
>>5276408It is common enough in the Inquisition that it is actually called the Inquisitor's Illness, from >>5232198>>5276411Now come on, they are not that ignorant.
With the Guards having retreated back to the Guardhouse, the working Lepers gone for the day, and Exempted Lepers rotting away in bed, as far as you can tell there is no one around to witness you slide back into that well for the third time today. Of course, you are not going to take any chances, you are just thinking that this is an excellent time to move in and out of the Midden unseen. Practically before you know it, you wearing your spare dress again, with Hide-Eyes active, as you emerge from the bulkhead of the last of the connected basements. You want to start right away with securing some sort of carriage or wagon to haul all of father’s work, but you know that if you show up dressed as you are this and try to buy something as expensive as that, then you will get thrown out – in the best possible scenario. So before you can do that, you are going to need one of your new dresses. If you had more time – like another day, you might actually wait until you could get your hands on the riding dress you had ordered from the dressmaker that was … well, you were going to say ‘nicer’, but the only person who deigned to talk you your entire time in there was a bit of a bitch. They were more expensive, certainly. On that point, there can be no contention. Anyway, that dress was going to take longer than the other three to be finished. You will need to be there at the end of business hours today to pick it up, or you might end up having to break into the fabricians, or just abandoned the dress, as presumably they are not going to be open on Titheday tomorrow either. Your way to Spinster’s Street is uneventful – in fact, it is almost too uneventful. You passed by three different criers, hoping to hear some news about the Refinery, but the first was on break, and all you got from the other two were an earful of advertisements. You even slowed down a bit as you passed them too. Besides that failed bit of information gathering, the only thing worth noting is that Stickport is really trying to earn its nickname today. No doubt at least some of the smell is coming from the mess down at the Oiler’s Wharf. With everything else on your mind, you practically forgot about it, but you did mess around with the Master Discharge Whatever. Considering that the Refinery did not burn down or explode as you snuck your way out of it, you sort of assume that you made the right choice … but you want to actually hear someone say it. With everything that you did last night, the knowledge that you at least did this one thing right would … it would go a long way. But unfortunately, it seems that this is just one of many things that is going to remain hanging over your head for the foreseeable future. You arrive outside of Hortingea’s shop, but before you go in, you make sure to take the order slip she gave you out. As important as it is to not be seen reading, it is equally important to not hand them a slip from another, pricier store.
They might think that you had been angling for charity in some sort of confidence scheme, wearing rags even though you could afford to wear much better clothes. Of course, up until two nights ago, you couldn’t afford better clothes, but that is here nor there. Ready as you are ever going to be, you enter into the open door, as a shingle with a dress painted on it swings over your head. As it was last time, the lobby that you walk in to is empty, though the noises of distant dressmaking are noticeably louder. Your presence announced once more by the creaking of the wooden floor underneath, someone’s voice – not Hortingea, but the other woman you were with last time – tells you that they will be with you in a moment. Much more comfortable than you were yesterday, you allow yourself to fidget away the half minute or so before she comes out to the lobby as well. “Oh! Well met, fräulein!”“Uh, Certainly, well met this morning. I – I realized yesterday that I was never told when the dresses would be done by, just that I had to pick them up by the end of the day … so I figured that –““If I am not mistaken, the first one is just about done. Let’s get you into a fitting room, and as soon as it ready, I’ll bring it in for the final adjustments. As for the others, they should be done at … oh, let’s say the second hour.” You were not expecting to wait around here, and for a moment you seriously consider trying to excuse yourself. But before you can even make up your mind, the dressmaker just hustles on off, calling to you over your shoulder as she exits the lobby. “Third door on your left!” You suppress a sigh. You suppose you can stay for a final adjustment. Though it is going to be really awkward explaining why you aren’t wearing the underwear they gave you yesterday. And it is going to be a pain to have to come back here at the second hour. Still, at least you are making forward progress with something. As you navigate your way through the lobby and down the hallway to the third door on the left, you wonder what you next move should be. >Please choose ONE of the following: >Once you have the domestic dress, head outside of the Landward Walls to where Imperial Law has remanded the Liveries and all merchants who deal in living animals. >Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage. >Once you have the domestic dress, head straight to Aldoin’s House to do some investigating. >Once you have the domestic dress, head to [write-ins subject to QM approval]
>>5277221>Once you have the domestic dress, head to [write-ins subject to QM approval]your secret place
>>5277221>>Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage.
>>5277221>Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage.Gotta look the part
>>5277223Chlotsuintha doesn't have a secret place. I don't want to close something like this with just two votes, so I guess this is going to have to stay overnight.
>>5277221>Once you have the domestic dress, head straight to Aldoin’s House to do some investigating.The quicker we investigate, the better off we’ll be before the Inquisition notices, and we can finally focus on our other objectives after.
>>5278528Every girl has a special place they go to to. It could help them fall asleep or just make them feel good.
>>5277221>Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage. isn't Aldoin's more of a night job?
>>5278687My man, Clot is not a typical girl what with having spent her whole life on the run. It has been established that the belfry is the only place she feels somewhat safe.
>>5277221>>Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage
>>5277221>Once you have the domestic dress, head to the other dressmaker and see if you could pick up your riding dress before you go off trying to purchase a carriage.Perhaps Chlot can get away with simply saying, in her typical nervous way, that the underwear was damaged and smeared with unmentionables, and accidentally intimate that her mistress did itit would be amusing to me, at the least
Alright. Consider this closed. I'll get to writing it up.
Arguably, the most time sensitive task on your plate right now is securing a horse and carriage. You doubt that you will be able to buy one if you put it off until tomorrow, which means that you would end up either having to steal one or having to do without … which inevitably would mean leaving most of father’s equipment and notes behind. That is simply not an option, so it makes sense to go to the Liveries as soon as you can.It is just that the prospect of buying a horse and carriage is fairly daunting. It is going to be a big purchase, several times larger than that riding dress you commissioned, at least. But the real question is, will a Livery owner or a Wainwright sell to you? You are an unescorted woman, after all. If you showed up wearing your usual street clothes, they might not even let you in to see anyone. Really though, could you blame them?No, you are going to need your new clothes to get your foot in the door, that much you are certain of. But the more you think about it, the more you doubt that the domestic dresses are going to work either. Maybe they could, if you were to present yourself as a servant – but then you would need to explain why someone would send a maid to go buy a fraying carriage. There are quite a few Liveries and lot more Wainwrights outside of the Landward Walls. If you kept playing the odds, you think you could eventually find someone willing to sell … but at the same time, the more times you try to buy, the more times you are risking someone getting suspicious enough to report you, or even just call the Guards to get you out of their place of business.Your best bet would be to approach the owners wearing that elegant riding dress you commissioned. At the very least, you could trust that it would get you through to the right people. Of course, even with that dress, nothing is guaranteed. You are an unescorted woman, showing up off the street, unannounced. Anyone you talk to is going to assume that you are spending either your father’s money or your husband’s. As tempted as they are going to be to just take whatever you offer them, in the back of their minds, they are going to be wondering if you had permission to buy this, or that at some point, some fuming father or husband is going to show up and demand the money back. Worse, they might get it in their heads that you are trying to run away from home. And then they definitely would not want to sell to you, for fear of something happening to you, and then a suit being brought against them for damages.Honestly though, what reason other than running away would a woman need to buy her own carriage? If you were traveling, you could just hire a coach – not to mention, it is expected that you should be escorted by your husband, a male relative … or at the very least, someone reliable. Maker's Mercy, you wish you had someone to rely on right now.
Moments after you are finished undressing, the seamstress comes back in again, bearing the first of your three domestic dresses. She looks at you just as she did last time, and even though you know she means you discourtesy by it, it makes you want to shrivel up all the same. You find yourself awkwardly explaining that your new underwear did not fit particularly well under this dress, which was already too small on you. It is probably the truth, though the real reason you did not wear the chemise is that you are worried about what condition it was in after your escapades in the paddocks and on Oiler’s Wharf. You hope that you will be able to clean it up. It was such a kind gesture; you would hate to have ruined it already. Blessedly, besides the awkwardness at the start, the rest of the fitting goes well. The wool of the dress feels so soft compared to the canvas that you are used to wearing, but it still feels pretty durable. It is a little more constricting than your usual dresses, so you doubt that you would be able to climb or run as well in this – and admittedly, you are a little dismayed when you realize that there is not a single pocket on the entire dress, and the sleeves are fitted to your wrists so tight and crisply you will never be able to hide anything down there, at least not comfortably. You are only able to calm down when you remind yourself that the whole point of buying a dress like this is so that you can blend in. If you had ordered a loose dress with wide, open sleeves and pockets haphazardly strewn all over, then the dress would simply be a better made version of the ones you own right now, which are fairly … uh, unique? If you want to look unassuming, then you are going to have to learn to make do with an unassuming dress. And without pockets. At least, that is what you thought until she handed you the apron. It is full length, and canvas, thicker than the dress, which you suppose means that you can get down on your knees somewhat comfortably, and without fear of getting the dress itself dirty. But most importantly, the apron has pockets. Fewer than you are used to, but nice large pockets. And just like that, you like the outfit a whole lot more. Once you have everything on, the seamstress leads you out of the room, down a few doors into another. The only difference between this room and the last is that this one has a mirror in it. All things considered, it is a pretty nice one too, with a wrought iron frame, only a touch of ‘cloudiness’, and very few imperfections … though once you catch sight of yourself, you stop looking for them. Wearing a mask almost all of the time outside of the Belfry means that you have very few opportunities to see yourself, and when you do, you are almost always focused on making sure Hide-Eyes is working properly. Looking at yourself like this … you are surprised at just how normal you look, even accounting for your height and your spidery long fingers.
You slowly spin around in front of the mirror, intently studying yourself all the while.“I hope you are satisfied with it – Hortensia and I pulled it together last night over a bottle of imported Red. Been a while since either of us has done something like that.”“I am, yes. Most satisfied. Thank you – and, and is she in? I’d like to thank her too, in person.”“Oh, normally she would be, but not today. She is at the Forum, banging her head against the columns.”Seeing your confusion, the woman explains that she is actually there in hopes of settling a legal dispute with her uncle over her father’s Will. She talks idly about this and other incidental matters, most of which involve the day-to-day operation of the business while she walks you back to the fitting room you were just in to collect your spare dress, then back to the lobby to see you out. Perhaps some people might find this chattering to be grating, but you actually find it somewhat relaxing. It seems that lending a sympathetic ear to someone else’s problems is a good way of forgetting your own, at least for a moment.Before quitting this establishment, you ask her for her name, which turns out to be Bertrada, and if there is a chance that Hortensia is going to be back from the Forum before the end of the day, as you genuinely do want to thank her once more for everything before you leave the Mount. After mulling it over a moment or so, Bertrada explains that she might be so long at the Forum that she will simply go straight home once she is done there … but if you really wanted to see her today, your best bet would be to come in close to closing time, as you did yesterday.You thank Bertrada, bidding her farewell over your shoulder as you walk back out onto Spinster’s Street, clutching your spare dress close to your chest – which contains your hip flask, your purse of salt and your purse of coin. In retrospect, it was real sloppy just leaving this unattended in that fitting room, but all you can do about it now is not make the same mistake twice.The sheer carelessness of that mistake dampens and smothers your little bit of good cheer, and you find yourself once more nervous and apprehensive as you approach the other dressmaker. You know you that you are going to need this dress, it is just that you felt so out of place there last time, and you cannot imagine that it is going to be any better now that it is the middle of the day instead of right before closing.But before you can even set foot inside, you are intercepted by the doorman – a different one than yesterday.“Got a lot more inches than you got sense, dontcha girl? Pick-ups are around the back. This door is for customers only. Now git off our stoop before you scare them all off.”For a split second, you seriously consider just letting this overpaid doorstop have a piece of your mind, but then you realize that going in through the delivery entrance would probably be for the best.
Still, you allow yourself to glare at him as you pass around the storefront to back of the building. There are several doors back here, but only one of them has a bell, so you take that to be the door. You fumble a bit with your spare dress, getting your coin purse out to get the slip out, then getting everything wrapped up again, but soon there is nothing left to do but ring the bell. After a couple of good shakes on the rope, a harried looking woman opens the upper half of the split door, recoils in surprise at your height, recovers herself, notices the slip in your fingers, swipes it from you and leaves, all without saying a single solitary word to you.You call out after her, but over the noise of the shop, you doubt that she could hear you – or that if she could, she would bother stopping. Swearing under your breath, you go to put your head in your hands in frustration, only stopping when you remember that you have Hide-Eyes active. Swearing again under your breath at how sloppy you are being, you try to reassure yourself by focusing on how at the very least, the glyph is not acting up like it was yesterday, while Hortingea and Bertrada were fussing over you.Time passes. You had thought that the delay was caused by the confusion of a customer turning up at the delivery door, but once fifteen whole minutes have passed, you are convinced that something else must be causing the hold up. More time passes, and you are just about to head back out front and try to explain yourself to the doorstop when a different, marginally less harried-looking woman shows up at the half door with your slip in hand.“Just how did you come by this?”“W-what? I placed an order, yesterday, with … uh, I didn’t get her name. For a riding dress. For me.”The woman looks at you, openly suspicious.“Look, I just wanted to know if the dress was ready or not. It was a rush order.”After a few more moments of staring, the dressmaker takes a step back, opens the bottom half of the door, and gestures you inside.“Mistress Cassandra is going to want to talk to you.”“Does she have my dress? Is it done?”“No and I don’t know. Regardless, you are going to have to speak to her.”You have gone from frustrated to just shy of panic over the course of this conversation. It is obvious that something is up. Did someone manage to make the connection between a tall woman showing up in a battered canvas dress making an inordinately expensive purchase with the knock-over of the Euthyphro? It is possible, but if they truly thought that you were some dangerous pirate, then surely they would not just let you stand around in an alley – they would want to get you inside, in some room somewhere where they could lock you in.So, if it is not that, then what? You cannot even imagine. Maybe they did figure you out after all, and they just don’t know what the Hell they are doing? They are dressmakers after all, not Thief-Takers.
No, they cannot be that incompetent. There has to be another explanation! >Please choose ONE of the following: >Whatever is going on here, it seems that your dress is being held hostage until you speak to Cassandra. Nothing for it then, you suppose, you will have to go speak to Cassandra – whoever the fraying Hell she is. >If they know what’s what, then allowing yourself to be shepherded off is suicidal. But even if they don’t … you have a lot more important things to be doing right now. Snatch the slip out of this bitch’s hand, and then just leave with as much dignity as you can muster. Decide later if it is safe to come back. >>5284614Sorry about the lapse there, I wound up falling asleep before I could finish the post.
>>5284752>Whatever is going on here, it seems that your dress is being held hostage until you speak to Cassandra. Nothing for it then, you suppose, you will have to go speak to Cassandra – whoever the fraying Hell she is.
>>5284752>>Whatever is going on here, it seems that your dress is being held hostage until you speak to Cassandra. Nothing for it then, you suppose, you will have to go speak to Cassandra – whoever the fraying Hell she is.
Your panic is slowly reverting back to frustration. Now that you have had a moment to think about it, this cannot be an ambush. If it was, they would have pretended that everything was fine to lure you into a changing room, then barricaded you in there while they go called the Guard to collect you. But instead, they are doing the exact opposite of that. From your terse conversation with this seamstress, you would hazard a guess that the dress is not done yet – on top of that, she has all but explicitly said that there is some problem. Then factoring in that you are being confronted outside, where you could just walk off … no, this has to be something else, but for the life of you, you cannot figure out what. And you suppose that you are not going to figure out what – and more importantly, get your dress – until you speak with this Cassandra. After an involuntary impatient huff, you allow yourself to be led into the building, following the woman through several poorly lit rooms, filled floor to ceiling with bundles of fabric. The smell of dust and mothballs is quite nearly suffocating, and by the time that you reach a narrow stair you feel as if you are going to start coughing any moment, though by the time that you have reached the top the sensation has passed. The seamstress leads you to the other side of the room, passing by at least a dozen workstations, where the harried looking woman working on them have dresses in various stages of completion – including one that looks like it might be yours, though it is not finished, and unlike the rest, it is not being worked on either. Well, now you are really frustrated. You have spent all of this time here, and you are still going to have to come back. As you seethe, you are led out of the room towards what appears to be an office, and as you approach, you can hear shouting and alarmingly enough, crying, coming from the other side of the door, but the background noise in here is just a little too high for you to make out any specifics. The seamstress raps on the oaken planks of the door, and whatever is going on in there stops immediately. A moment passes, and an old woman, elegantly dressed and groomed but with the demeanor of a harridan opens the door. “In.”Apparently used to being commanded like a dog, your guide enters the office, and without any other recourse, you follow. To your surprise, you find Bronwen, the seamstress you commissioned the dress from is in the room with you – and judging from her face, she was the one crying. The dressmaker who led you in closes the door and gestures you forward as the woman that you presume to be Mistress Cassandra walks back to her desk. As she does, you catch sight of a thick pile of neatly stacked ribbons underneath a glass display case behind her. Fraying Hell, are those what you think they – “Am I to understand that you were the one who commissioned that tent of a riding habit?” “… The riding dress, yes.”
“How?”“Oh, well … I spoke with – ”“How did you afford it?”Ah. Is that what all this is? Somehow you do not think so. If it was, then why was Brownen crying and Cassandra shouting? Regardless, you are going to need to say something. >Please choose ONE of the following:> “You know, I don’t believe I am obligated to answer that. However, I think that you are obligated to tell me when my dress is going to be done. I paid for a rush order, after all.” > “I don’t need to stand here and be insulted like this. I will be back at closing for the fitting. [Attempt to leave] > “My father. My father gave me the money so I could have something to wear for his wedding tomorrow.” [Deception Test]
>>5285365> “My father. My father gave me the money so I could have something to wear for his wedding tomorrow.” [Deception Test]We gave the explanation to Bronwen that our father was getting remarried, so this is entirely consistent with what we told her. Festive Fabricians better not give us lip and treat us like a whore after taking our money, they'd be even worse than Filene's Fabricians! If they did, we'd have to run up and down the street lamenting how they treated us even worse than that uppity doorman and they lied and stole our money too and failed to get us our order on time!
>>5285365>> “My father. My father gave me the money so I could have something to wear for his wedding tomorrow.” [Deception Test]Do people get married tomorrow?
>>5285365>> “My father. My father gave me the money so I could have something to wear for his wedding tomorrow.” [Deception Test]
> DC 30: Witchlet Chlotsuintha is a Born and Bred Liar, making a Simple Deception like this [Easy]> + DC 20: Dressmaker Cassandra is Suspicious of Witchlet Chlotsuintha> + DC 15: Witchlet Chlotsuintha’s outfit is at odds with her ability to afford one of Dressmaker Cassandra’s dresses. > + DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha matches the description of a wanted criminal who would have a great deal of money on hand. > + DC 2 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is odd looking, given her height.> + DC 4 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is currently Drained II, and is not thinking as quickly as she normally does.> - DC 10 Witchlet Chlotsuintha already has come up with a Deception that explains her wealth, so one does not need to be thought up on the spot. > - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha looks to be Gently Bred, which supports the Deception.> - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is (capable of being) Well Spoken, which supports the Deception. > - DC 5 Witchlet Chlotsuintha is Literate, which supports the Deception. > - DC 10 [BENEFIT UNKNOWN] >DC 41 Anything lower is a failure. [One auto-pass(es) available. Two re-roll(s) available. No hostile re-roll(s)]>No Passes: Here for a Pick-Up. Dressmaker Cassandra remains convinced that you are lying, that you stole the money. She intends to turn you over to the Guard!>One Pass: No Chemise, No Service. Dressmaker Cassandra begrudgingly acknowledges that it is possible that you are telling the truth, but she simply does not want to ‘assume the risk’ of taking your custom. Your money is refunded, your commission canceled. >Two Passes: Don’t Trust, but Verify. Dressmaker Cassandra acknowledges that it is possible that you are telling the truth, but she wants to speak with your father to confirm that this is all above board. >Three Passes: Fraying Fabricians. Dressmaker Cassandra accepts your explanation. The commission will move ahead as planned, but after this disruption, it will take until closing to be finished. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Failure (Roll of 1 or 2) then Dressmaker Cassandra manages to make the connection between your inexplicable wealth and the Euthyphro knock-down. The Guard response will be larger and quicker, and if you escape, the Garrison and the Thief-Taker’s Guild will be looking for you specifically. >If ONE of the THREE rolls comes up as a Critical or Near-Critical Success (Roll of 100 or 99) then Dressmaker Cassandra orders several additional seamstresses to work on the dress to be done with this whole affair as soon as possible. The dress will be done around the fourteenth hour, same time as the other two domestic dresses. >Standard rules in effect - so if you want to use the auto-pass, then you need to speak up before a Critical or Near Critical is rolled.
Rolled 99 (1d100)>>5285817
>>5285832YES YES YES
>>5285817Oh boy here we go again...>>5285832Oh? Somebody already ro-
Rolled 42 (1d100)>>5285817Do we still need to roll?
Rolled 38 (1d100)>>5285849Oh yeah, I guess we do>>5285817
>>5285832Masterful rolling anon! Now, while I work on tomorrow's update, there is the question of what to do next. >Please choose ONE of the following. >Wait until you collect your Riding Dress ... er, you mean your Riding Habit to go attempt to buy a carriage. In the meantime, go to Aldoin's House to investigate.>Wait until you collect your Riding Dress ... uh, you mean your Riding Habit to go attempt to buy a carriage. In the meantime, go to (Write-In allowed at QM's Discretion) >It seems that you actually can make things work just with your domestic dress after all. Go to the liveries dressed as you are.
>>5285861>>Wait until you collect your Riding Dress ... er, you mean your Riding Habit to go attempt to buy a carriage. In the meantime, go to Aldoin's House to investigate.
Wouldn't it make sense to collect the cheaper dress first? I assume we're changing into our new dress after picking it up here, and showing up at the other shop in a much more expensive one after being in rags before coming is... odd, to say the least.
>>5285861>It seems that you actually can make things work just with your domestic dress after all. Go to the liveries dressed as you are.
>>5285365> “You know, I don’t believe I am obligated to answer that. However, I think that you are obligated to tell me when my dress is going to be done. I paid for a rush order, after all.”
>>5285817>Wait until you collect your Riding Dress ... uh, you mean your Riding Habit to go attempt to buy a carriage. In the meantime, go to (buy more supplies for the road trip ahead. Also maybe ammo and powder for the pistol, if feasible) lol too slow again. Guess everything turned out OK.
>>5286044Just to clarify, we are currently wearing one of the three domestic dresses that we ordered from Hortingea. When we return for the others, assuming we have the riding habit, we will just change out of it. >>5286128Attempting to buy powder and shot wearing just the domestic dresses is going to be difficult and dangerous, for the reasons laid out in >>5261696>Now, if you are asking if weapons you can buy, then that depends on three things - where you wind up (as it has been decided previously that all serious shopping will be done after you leave Scrimshaw Mount), how much you are willing to spend, and who you present yourself as. Imperial Citizens have basically unlimited access to small arms, and with proper licenses can purchase most heavy ordinance (for the purposes of outfitting private expeditions and the like). Imperial Subjects are not as lucky. Imperial Law states that Subjects are prohibited from owning 'implements of war'. Now, what this means varies province by province (and that is to say nothing of the enforcement of these laws). In some places, you can own a musket, but you cannot affix a bayonet to it, because in the local interpretation of the law, the addition of the bayonet makes a tool for hunting into a weapon of war. On the other end of the spectrum, there are regions where Subjects cannot buy or own knives that have pointed tips. Scrimshaw Mount is administered by the Port Authority, a Civil institution directly under the control of the sitting Emperor, and they come down pretty hard on Subjects owning and using weapons. They are an administrative body, so while they do not have the authority (funnily enough, despite their name) to pass additional laws, they do stringently enforce the existing ones. While Subjects here are allowed to own knives with pointed tips, they also prosecute Subjects for breaking the Arming Codes for using them in the commission of a crime, and in some cases even for just carrying them 'without legitimate cause'. Some stores and craftsmen do not sell them anymore here, for fear of liability. Laws are particularly messy in Scrimshaw Mount - you have a couple of universal codes (Coffle and Chain, Arming, Assumption of the Bull) and then for everything else the Port Authority simply interprets Maritime Law to suit their needs. But there is certainly plenty of other important things that you could buy during this time.
>>5286128All of this is not to say, however, that there are absolutely no weapons (or weaponizable objects) that you can buy. Owning and carrying stub-clubs is allowed, and you can buy things like hatchets, wood axes and hammers - though carrying them around slung over your back could get you in trouble.
>>5286272Thanks for the explanation! My vote is for buying supplies then. I still maintain that scouting out Aldoin's is best done at night.
>>5286472I'll second this.
>>5285861>Wait until you collect your Riding Dress ... er, you mean your Riding Habit to go attempt to buy a carriage. In the meantime, go to Aldoin's House to investigate.I’m still of the opinion that waiting for the Inquisition to catch up is foolish, we need to do it now, before we’re on the clock.
>>5286080Changing to this >>5286472Buy extra supplies and material for witchcraft if possible
Get a skin of weak wine, we need sleep and to hold down food. Some dried fruit. You've had no fiber in days. A couple of turnips or winter squash. Some salted nuts. Some oats and honey. A couple paring knives. A small pot for your satchel. BETTER SHOES.
Alright, lets see the current tally. >>5285944 Aldoin's House I>>5286080 Aldoin's House I Liveries as is I>>5286128 Aldoin's House I Liveries as is I Supplies I>>5286481 Aldoin's House I Liveries as is I Supplies II>>5286502 Aldoin's House II Liveries as is I Supplies II>>5286761 Aldoin's House II Supplies III>>5286810 Aldoin's House II Supplies IVI'm going to call it for doing some of your shopping here in the Mount. Still working on the post, but I intend to have it up before I go to bed tonight.
Instantly, you realize that you are going to need to give some sort of explanation. Even if you are required to – no, especially because you are not required to. Someone who had something to hide would raise that point. If this is going to work, you are going to need to explain yourself – which you already did with Bronwen. But more than that, you are going to need to play it indignant and frustrated. Somehow you just know that is going to be the only way you are going to be able to sell this.“… The same way every girl gets their money, from their fathers. But that is not the issue here, not really. No, what you ‘supposedly’ cannot wrap your head around is how someone like me can have a father wealthy enough to afford a dress like that. It is obvious, the answer is painfully obvious, but you are going to sit here and make me say it. My father was not able to marry my mother.” You let that settle in for a second, while you take the opportunity to read the room. You clearly have caught Cassandra off guard with your outburst, and the second she looks as if she is going to try to say something, you cut her off. “I know what I am. And if I was ever somehow able to forget, I could always count on people like you to be there to remind me. So thanks, thanks for that! I really appreciate it, as my life was not difficult enough already, with the whole being born in a state of sin thing, and me and mother having to work as maids for father otherwise we’d never be able to see him, much less have him in our lives.”Oddly enough, you find yourself genuinely getting worked up over this. You are not sure why exactly, but you suppose that this emotion is only going to help you sell your story. When Cassandra once again looks like she is going to interrupt, once again you speak over her. “But he wants me and mother around, and he keeps us around, in spite of the risk to his reputation, because I am not some fraying drawing room indiscretion – I am his daughter and he loves me, and I am sick and tired of having to hide it as if that love, and by extension my existence was some sort of crime!” You take a ragged breath, and realize to your surprise that your eyes are starting to tear up. Is you being effected by your story or your Hide-Eyes glyph? In the brief moment that you are thinking about this, Cassandra, who is looking deeply uncomfortable at your outburst, finally manages to get a word in edgewise. “My dear, please just sit down, and –”“You sit down!” She was already sitting down. Undaunted, you continue.
“You know why I need this dress? Because father wanted me to be at his wedding, and more importantly, he wanted me to be there as guest, like family, not as a servant. But if I abandon one deception, I need to embrace another. So if I am to attend, then I need to accommodate the sensibilities of these sanctimonious rabble-rousers by pretending to be one of his distant cousins – and to that end, I need a ‘tent of a riding habit’.” “That is all I do. Accommodate. That is my entire fraying life. And when I die, I am going to be stuffed in some unmarked grave to accommodate all of the snobs in the whole world, lest acknowledging my existence somehow impugn their honor. Why, I even accommodated you, for all the good that it did me. I waited until closing yesterday, and made sure that no other customers were in the store before I set foot in here before I made my order.” “And when I had the impudence – the cheek! – to come back during the day to check on the progress of the dress, because I was not sure if I was going to be able to pick it up at closing today, I ended up accommodating that ass of a doorstop you have down there who told me that I have ‘more inches than sense’. I went around back, and then waited fifteen, no twenty minutes, all for the privilege of being dragged in here and interrogated like some shoplifter.” “Now, the next word out of your mouth is going to be ‘sorry’. Then you are going to tell me when the Hell my rush ordered ‘tent’ is going to be done. And if the answer is ‘never’ or any time after the close of business today, then after the wedding, I’ll see to it that father accommodates you with a suit.”After as flash of inspiration, you spin around and storm over to the dressmaker that brought you into the room, who cringes as you approach. You grab her right hand, the one that is holding the slip, with both of yours, and you slam it against the door, just like the Cleansers slammed you against the … whatever they called that water-wagon pump-thing. Shocked that you would lay hands on her, it is trivial to pluck the slips out of her hand as she blubbers. You round back on Cassandra, brandishing the slip as you stalk towards her. She is clearly scared right now, and you are surprised, and maybe even a little bit ashamed at how good it feels to see her shrink into that chair as you draw yourself up to your full height and then lean over her desk. “I am no fool. This slip is not just a courtesy provided to your customers. It is a receipt of commission. A contract. One that you cannot break without cause. And unfortunately, discovering that the commissioner is a bastard is not sufficient cause. Nor is a set of rapped knuckles, not when they belong to an employee of one of the parties who took it under patently false pretenses!”
You are not one hundred precent sure that either of those are actually the case, but luckily, the law in Scrimshaw Mount is such a rat’s nest that no one except the professionals are one hundred percent sure. You stare at Cassandra for a few moments, only allowing yourself to relax when the next word out of her mouth does in fact turn out to be ‘sorry’. Upon hearing that, it is all you can do to stop yourself from sagging your shoulders and sighing in relief. Honestly, this whole tantrum thing worked out great – though admittedly, you are a confused and a little concerned as to why this completely fabricated story emotionally affected you as deeply as it did. Well, you will just have to add that to the list of things that you need to figure out once you have the time.As Cassandra is promising to get the dress done as soon as possible, around the fourteenth hour, you are already thinking ahead to your next steps. You have already decided that you are going to hold off on trying to buy a carriage or whatever until you actually have the riding dr – the habit, the riding habit. That leaves either doing some shopping, or investigating Aldoin’s house. Thinking about it logically, and setting aside the danger inherent, you have no idea how long an investigation would take, so you should probably put if off until later – once you have secured some transport at the earliest.So, shopping. Or more accurately, outfitting. You really do not know where exactly you are going to end up. You could find yourself comfortably situation in large village or small town, or in the worst-case scenario, you could be forced to live off of the land … which, well, suffice to say, that would be a real challenge for you. With this in mind, the smart thing to do would be to assume that you are going to end up living in some cave somewhere, and to equip yourself accordingly. If it turns out that you wind up in a cozy little cottage instead, then there is no problem.Except there is one point where over-preparing does present problems. If you were going into the Great Gloom – the primeval forest of the Cimmaroon Territory – you would need someone with you who could teach you how to read and write Cimmaroonie, as well as translate for you as you learn. What you are talking about is a slave. They could easily be the difference between life and death in the Gloom, between having a way to speak and read the language and a second set of hands. But if you were to buy a slave, then never set foot in the Great Gloom, they would be nothing but an expense and a liability. And it is not like you could just expect to buy a slave at the drop of a hat once you are on the frontier – purchasable slaves would be few and far between, and almost all of them would be owned by Civil authorities, who you would do well to avoid.
Of course, the Codes of Coffle and Chain prevent the sale of slaves in cities that are controlled directly by the Emperor, such as Scrimshaw Mount, but if you are going to buying sundries and equipment, then you should consider if you are going to be on your own or not. >Please choose ONE of the following:>When you shopping today, you are going to buying for just yourself. While it might be out of the reach of Inquisition, the Great Gloom is simply too dangerous on its own for you consider it a haven, especially as an Imperial. You will remain in the Principalities. >When you shopping today, you are going to be buying for yourself, plus one. While the additional costs and liabilities are significant, at this stage, you simply cannot afford to deny yourself any options. You will seriously consider the Great Gloom as a destination.
>When you shopping today, you are going to buying for just yourself. While it might be out of the reach of Inquisition, the Great Gloom is simply too dangerous on its own for you consider it a haven, especially as an Imperial. You will remain in the Principalities.I'd rather deal with a lack of choice later than the risk of an additional person during our departure.
>>5287122>When you shopping today, you are going to be buying for yourself, plus one. While the additional costs and liabilities are significant, at this stage, you simply cannot afford to deny yourself any options. You will seriously consider the Great Gloom as a destination.the wild calls me.
>>5287122>When you shopping today, you are going to buying for just yourself. While it might be out of the reach of Inquisition, the Great Gloom is simply too dangerous on its own for you consider it a haven, especially as an Imperial. You will remain in the Principalities.I don't think we would be able to manage moving everything we were planning on leaving with
>>5287122>>When you shopping today, you are going to buying for just yourself. While it might be out of the reach of Inquisition, the Great Gloom is simply too dangerous on its own for you consider it a haven, especially as an Imperial. You will remain in the Principalities.
>>5287122I am sorely tempted to go for the Great Gloom as an option, for the sake of adventure, but it would be trading one set of dangers which Chlot is roughly familiar with for a set of dangers which she is very much not. The Inquisition is dire but at least understandable. So I am leaning against it, at the moment, despite that temptation.However it seems to me that Chlot is just buying the equipment and rations for an additional person, at this time. Scrimshaw Mount doesn't have any actual slaves, it says. The rations will be, I presume, nearly immortal or else useful to Chlot herself, and having spares of things like tents or tools is...honestly not that much more effort to haul around, and good practice anyway. So I'm for buying those things, to keep the idea of buying a guide later open for later choice. Chlot has more cash on hand than she knows what to do with. Food, salt (lots of salt), oil, canvas, and so on wouldn't be the worst way to spend it>When you shopping today, you are going to be buying for yourself, plus one. While the additional costs and liabilities are significant, at this stage, you simply cannot afford to deny yourself any options. You will seriously consider the Great Gloom as a destination.
>>5287122>When you shopping today, you are going to be buying for yourself, plus one. While the additional costs and liabilities are significant, at this stage, you simply cannot afford to deny yourself any options. You will seriously consider the Great Gloom as a destination.
>>5287122>When you shopping today, you are going to be buying for yourself, plus one. While the additional costs and liabilities are significant, at this stage, you simply cannot afford to deny yourself any options. You will seriously consider the Great Gloom as a destination.I’d like to keep our options open.
>>5287122>>When you shopping today, you are going to buying for just yourself. While it might be out of the reach of Inquisition, the Great Gloom is simply too dangerous on its own for you consider it a haven, especially as an Imperial. You will remain in the Principalities.I prefer keeping a large reserve of money in case of emergency expenses or bribes.
>>5287753from what I understand we have a shitload of cash. Like, a sum that will not get noticeably depleted if we buy double or even triple rations. So the problem is less whether we can afford it, but more that it's just more stuff to haul around.
>>5287753I mean, we can still knock off a wealthy institution if you’re worried about our cash reserves. I’m not opposed to stealing some more bags of cash before we cut and run.
Wow! At nine votes, this might be the most participation I have ever gotten for a single prompt in my 'career' as a QM. Anyway, I'll leave the vote open until the thread falls off of the last page. Also, I archived this thread as 'Thread V' (because the actual fifth thread was the intermission where barely nothing happened). >>https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5232198/See you in Thread VI (hopefully tomorrow!)
>>5287962I think I remember saying back then how this would be your most popular quest idea. Nothing gets player participation like a girl just trying to survive!