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Aeons ago, the world was ruled by the Dragon Kings. Everybody knows this, of course. It is the horror story that mothers whisper to their children, to keep them obedient. It is the cautionary tale that fathers tell their sons, to remind them that they must grow strong. It is the political myth which underpins every alliance, the legendary hell-on-earth which keeps people of all races observant to their churches, their temples, their Gods of Light.

But no story, tale, myth, or legend can measure up to the truth. Dragons are REAL, and they have returned. Even now, one creeps through the darkness beneath the world, coming home to roost in the Bloodrise Mountain with a captured princess... But this is not his story.

Not just yet.

You are Karz, son of Girraug, employee and citizen of the Blackmantle Corporation… Or, you were. Your mother and father both died when the Dragon King came—dutiful workers and warriors that they were, obedient and brave and loyal. Your father died with the war-cry of the Mountain King on his lips. Your mother perished when the entire camp collapsed inward, smothering dozens—men, women, children, babies. Nobody was spared. Not your parents, not your little brother.

Reality came crashing down, and the Mountain King and the other Gods of Light were nowhere to be seen. The only power to be found in the Bloodrise Mountain Range was the Dragon King.

Even before the Dragon King came, you were an outcast. You were never properly called Karz Girraugson, or Karz Mailmaker, or any other such name. You were called Karz Beardless, Karz Smoothchin, Karz the Girlyman. Since your beard had failed to grow, you had been regarded as effeminate, soft, weak. As much as you hated him at first—as you still hate him, sometimes, when you remember the faces and voices of your parents, your brother—it was the Dragon King who liberated you from that.
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>>5678076
“Throat-sssinger,” he’d called you. ‘Karz Throat-singer.’

Your voice, like your face, had been a source of shame. Your speaking voice is high, and you could never hide the slight lisp. You had taken up the old art of dwarven throat-singing in a desperate bid to alter that perception—the deep, rumbling tones disguising your natural falsetto. Instead, you had simply ostracized yourself further: the throat-singing brought forth magic, a musical magic regarded as plainly undwarflike. You had all but given it up, when the he’d commanded you:

“Sssing.”

Since then, you have acquired other titles in turn. “Karz the Apprentice”, “Karz the Bard”. “Karz the Bloody”, and “Karz the Cruel”.

You are Karz the Duergar, and by loyalty to the Copper Dragon King of Bloodrise, by magical and musical mastery, and by ruthless conquest, you have finally found your place in the world—a place of respect, and fear, and awe.

When the Dragon King left Bloodrise on a mysterious mission for the Dark Gods he serves, he placed two fellow Reptilians in charge. The first is the Bastard, a ruddy-scaled creature who command loyalty among the half-savage kobolds by dint of alleged draconic ancestry and his frequent appeals to their shared faith; indecisive, vague, ever-awaiting the overdue return of his King, and slow to act. The second is the Pit-Guard, a violent brute with an enchanted axe and an unimaginative mind, who treats the dwarven freedmen like slaves and the dwarven slaves like machines—no, like parts in a single great machine, worth preserving only to extract maximum value, and then to be ‘recycled’ into rations for his kind.

You loathe them both.
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>>5678078
You have little love for any Reptilian, to be honest, or for the drunken, restless, flighty dark elves. The bugbear mercenaries who make up the kingdom’s most elite assassination squads are just as intolerable—smelly, savage, simple-minded goblinoids putting on airs. The kobolds have industry, but it is a slavish industry that would embarrass the LITERAL slaves captured from your own race: they know no innovation, no freedom, no imagination. They work hard, but it is a sloppy and imprecise work, and they are slow to learn new techniques. No, in truth it is the DWARVES who have saved the Dragon King’s empire, and whoa re winning the war for Bloodrise.

The Dragon King wisely took your advice to heart, granting freedom to any dwarf who would renounce their loyalty to the god who abandoned them and the so-called kin who forgot them. Frustrated miners, relegated with their entire families to mere subsidence in a neglected mining colony, were quick to convert if it meant an end to the predation and starvation, especially if the only blood-price to be paid was that of rival corporations’ employee-citizens anyway. Those who earned stability, comfort, status, and living-space found brides among the dwarf-maidens made husbandless and fatherless by the Dragon King’s cullings.

With each base taken, you found more like these men—like you. The forsaken, the outcast, the maidenless and motherless. Those willing to imagine a better future, forged in blood and iron and darkness. Dwarves now make up the bulk of Bloodrise’s military might. Between slaves and slave-takers, dwarves are the largest single demographic in the burgeoning kingdom—outnumbering at last even the kobolds, who breed like rabbits.

But to build this force, you have slain dozens, hundreds maybe. Men, like you father. Women, like your mother. Children, like your brother.

What do you feel?
>Pride
>Shame

https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=reptoidqm is where previous threads are, and the prior quest (which isn't required reading or necessary to understand this one
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>>5678081
>Pride
We've gone this far.
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>>5678081
>Both, but more shame
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>>5678081
>Pride
Better than shame, but I’m alright with our boy being unsavory about the method.
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>>5678081
>Pride of having made it
>Shame of inflicting pain, but it is necessary
Is it really necessary?
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>>5678081
>Shame

Nice we're playing our favorite dwarven incel
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>>5678081
>>Shame
If only he had tried harder to change the king's mind. A death sentence to be sure but at least not as shameful as living through this. Too late now...
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>>5678081
>Pride
He is a dwarf whose good at his job, he doesnt have to like his coworkers but his boss saw something in him and hes a fuckin champ so of course he feels pride
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>>5678081
We saw what happened to devora when the loyal dwarves got their hands on her. Even though all she did trick the siege defenders, and did not personally slay anyone. The dwarves made sure to torture and draw out her death painfully at no real benefit to themselves since they already lost.

Why should we feel any shame at what we are doing when the opposite would not be true?

>Pride
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>>5678337
>>5678289
>>5678222
>>5678217
>>5678194
>>5678146
>>5678126
>>5678097
You take a deep breath and regard yourself in the mirror—clad in leather and elf-woven greatworm silk, died black and adorned with looted gems. Your quarters—the largest you’ve yet inhabited, taken from a Gems-Be-We corporate mine-manager—are full of symbols of your victories: helms of fallen foes; deep-spiders and cave-vipers which uneasily tolerate each other and await your command; and your bedmate for the day, asleep among your roughshod sheets atop a feather-filled bed so luxurious most dwarves would regard it as decadent, a n invitation to indolence and sin.

Sin…

What is sin? Your whole life, you were regarded as a sinful in some way. As ‘weak’. As ‘wrong’. That wasn’t the truth, though. The other dwarves were wrong—about you, the gods, the way forward. They break now because, inflexible and narrow of view, they cannot adapt to the new world—the world of dragons, and Dark Gods, and Duergar.

“Karz…?”

Ah, he’s awake. Your lover looks at you in confusion, and with a hopeful note asks:

“Why are you dressed?”

Implying you need not be—that you could return to bed. You smile slightly.

“because there’s work to be done,” you say simply.

No shame here, no, none at all. You are on the right side of history… And by your will, so soon shall the rest of your people be. It may hurt in the interim, but they will be made stronger for it—as you have been. They'll all hear the Ballad of Pride...
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>>5678349
You are now the Thief, the once-and-future Reptilian Infiltrator who has become de facto spymaster of Bloodrise. A Silkscale male branded for stealing from your own Master race, you have found honour anew as the hidden-and-masked eyes and ears of the Copper Dragonborn, here called ‘Dragon King’ in the Bloodrise. For the last two months, you have been assisting each of the Dragonborn’s chiefmost lieutenants—the Bastard, the Pit-Guard, the Translator (furthest from his inner circle, but still a ranking Serpent priest). You have liaised with the Kobold Council of Elders, the Bugbear Boss (ugh), and with the Ambassador from Wevenore (City of the Drow). You have watched them all carefully, monitoring their ambitions as closely as the activities of your adversaries…

But it is the Throat-singer, the dwarf called ‘Karz’, who ahs troubled you most of all. His power and influence has grown here, and with it, his ego. He commands his fellow stout-and-hairy mole-apes like his own personal militia. The other ranking ‘Duergar’, including the stupid-but-effective savage ‘Korgan’, defer to him. He holds private council with the Geologist, the Engineer, even the so-called ‘Stone-sniffer’. Several times, he has disobeyed his Reptilian superiors—always in service of Bloodrise, always to positive effect, but even so.

He commands arthropods and reptiles alike with his song, and increasingly the mountain reverberates with his music—his influence, insidious and subversive. As a subversive element yourself—Infiltrator of mammals by training, one-time Betrayer of the Master Race out of avarice—you recognize your twisted likeness in him.

And yet… He IS indisputably the most effective of the Dragonborn’s lieutenants, and the most popular among the ever-growing dwarven contingent in the Bloodrise Mountains.

What will you do?
>Assassinate him
>Confront him with the other Reptilian elites here
>Continue to observe him, for now
>Write-in
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe, for now
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>>5678350
>Undermine him and find a way to weaken/counter his magic
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe him, for now.

If all he has done is disobey the pit guard or the bastard, i dont see the problem. As long as karz stays loyal to us the support he has been gathering is cool.
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe him, for now
>>5678289
Backlink
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe him, for now
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe him, for now
>Look for ways to subtly undermine his power base - such as creating a rival for him amongst the Duergar elite, or aiding slaves who wish to revolt

His ambition needs to be tempered by a low level of disunity amongst the dwarves - that way he focuses more attention inward towards his own people
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>>5678350
>Continue to observe him, for now

With us gone our lieutenants are already jockeying for power like rats.
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>>5678586
>>5678576
>>5678408
>>5678402
>>5678401
>>5678374
>>5678365
In the end, you decide not to act. The Throat-singer is a subversive, yes, but not a rebel. With the Copper Dragonborn away, ALL the lieutenants are jockeying for power. It is the way of things: those with the will to power will SEEK power. In encouraging ambition among even his lowliest subordinates, the Dragonborn has increased the number of seekers… But in binding them with threads of faith and community, and giving them a common enemy to fight against in his absence, he has kept them focused on OUTDOING one another in that war… Rather than warring on each other.

You have to wonder… Did he intend this?

The Dragonborn has styled himself some sort of Antipaladin and Dark Prophet, even a KING… But how intricate are his machinations? How powerful is his will? How grand are his ambitions?

…Is HE a subversive?

Is the DRAGONBORN ANTIPALADIN a rebel? Surely it cannot be so.

And yet…

You shake your head and hiss in irritation at yourself. No, the Dragonborn Project is a product of the priestly caste. If he has engineered this rudimentary society here to contain and constrain itself, it is the Holy Ones who TRULY pull those strings, on behalf of the Dark Gods. It is obvious, when you think about it! No wonder the schemes seem so serpentine, executed in shadows by Serpent Priests. Ha! One such as you should recognize their signature work by now. You will observe, and see how their manipulations play out.

It does make you wonder, though… If there WAS a schism, which side would you fall on? Would you defy the Master Race AGAIN, in service to that race’s self-proclaimed Champion? You touch the mask upon your face, which that same Dragonborn Champion gifted you to cover the scarification which the Serpent Priests inflicted, and you fall into silent contemplation.
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>>5678691
You are nameless. You are part of the great whole, first among many, a queen of a hive! Your hive is small, yes, but it is mighty—nine sons, nine warriors, crafted from the flesh and blood of ancient demigods and bioengineered champions, according to the blueprints of Grandmother—the one who the little lizards call ‘Mother of Dragons’. She was your designer, also. You were made Princess, then Queen of this little hive—a LITERAL ‘mother of dragons’. You wiggle happily at the thought.

The Dragonborn—your mate, your ‘king’—calls you ‘Glowie’. You think this is a silly name, and not very creative, but he gave it to you and so you sue it. You enjoy hearing him say it. Names are as intimate to his race as they are pointless to yours. That he uses your ‘name’ rather than a title is a testament to his love for you. You love that he loves you. It makes him yours! It protects the hive. Your sons are his sons. His kingdom—kingdom! Ha, silly lizards—is yours. In your eggsack germinate the seeds of thousands, tens of thousands—a nation of daughters, to cover the world one day once your big and strong sons prepare it for them.

You are Glowie, Queen of Bloodrise—and then, the world! ~Hmm, hmmmmmMMM, mm-MM~
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>>5678692
You are humming happily and wiggling at the thought of your mate’s return—that you might hold his hand and sing his praises for gifting you this planet—when one of your sons alerts you that you have a visitor. It takes you a moment to remember the name of this son—a runty one, a strange one, but he always seems to know when someone is visiting before ever his brothers do. You think your mate called ‘Natvodask, the Unknowable’. You wouldn’t know—hehe!~

The visitor arrives, shadowed by the twinly sons—the two who always follow each other’s scent trails and trills, and kill together. It is the little unpleasant hairy thing which your mate keeps as a pet—not the ‘Junior Novice’, but the other one, who <hums>, like you <hum> to make your sons listen.

“Throat-zzinger,” you greet him pleasantly.

He nods—he doesn’t bow, you note, but you don’t mind. You don’t bother yourself with what bite-sized morsels do or don’t do. Pageantry is for lizards! Part of that pageantry is that they do not yet know that they are your food, and you their patient Queen, so you would forgive the silly little thing anyway. He doesn’t know better! He puffs his chest and pretends not to be afraid of you and your sons. He does not fool you, but you are kind and do not tell him so. Only the elf with the centipede and the lance is truly at ease with you and your sons, besides your mate and MAYBE his funny priestess.

Eventually he realizes you are waiting for him to explain his presence. It is funny to fall quiet and make them talk first! You didn’t have a voice for so long, not one they understood, so you have no need to fill silences as the monkeys and even lizards do. You are never alone, with the <hum>, and never at a want for conversation!

“Ah,” he vocalizes, clearly uncomfortable, “You are the Greatworm, yes? The… Princess?”

“Queen,” you gently correct him.

“I was given to believe your mother was yoru people’s queen?”

“Every hive hazzz a queen,” you say.

Mother surely thinks herself Queen of Queens, of course—first and greatest, made by a goddess directly. She isn’t the one with nine dragon-sons, though, is she? Mother is so silly! You will give her a chance to surrender and bow before you before you devour her. You love Mother~

“Well, Queen of Greatworms… I have a request. As you know, your race’s grubs have been immensely valuable for carrying messages and supplies, and observing and reporting upon dwarven strongholds, as well as the humans in the valleys below.”
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>>5678693
You hum happily. It is true: you know EVERYTHING that happens in Bloodrise! Your ‘grubs’ and Mother’s have been fighting for control for some time, but these last months you have been laying clutches of daughters in hidden places, and instructing them to lay in wait until they can eat their lesser ‘aunts’. Now, your daughters form most of the network around Bloodrise. It is a friendly wars, till-no important or valuable ‘greatworms’ have been eaten on either side, and it hasn’t been important enough to mention to your mate; your daughters and mother’s still cooperate when this lizards need you to, so nobody has seemed to notice.

“However, every other member of the Dark Alliance—the Wevenore Drow, the Bogbarri, the Kobolds, and the Reptilian Master Race… They have all volunteered military strength. WARRIORS, you see, as well as workers.”

Hmmm? He wants you to help fight their silly vertebrate battles? DIRECTLY? You can’t do that, of course—not like when you were a ‘princess’, before you gave birth. Your massive, trailing egg-sack precludes DIRECT conflict now, except in most desperate circumstances. And anyway, queens don’t FIGHT, they boss their children around, eat, and lay eggs. Duh!~

But then… You DO have your sons. THEY are your warriors, in the way the little silly hairy hummer understands war. But they are for you, to protect YOU and advance YOUR queenly majesty. The silly Throat-singer explains about his intent for a ‘final push’ to conquer the dwarves of the mountain, and you wiggle as you half-listen. He wants to do something called ‘shock-and-awe’, which you understand to mean leveraging your little boys’ handsomeness and strength to make all the remaining enemy dwarves bow down and submit to your mate. It means putting them directly into harm’s way, and not to your immediate benefit, but then again isn’t that what soldier-boys are FOR?

But you’d also have to teach this <hummer> how to <hum> to your sons, if they’re going to follow his commands. Their father is ONE thing, with his ~big, strong <Presence>~, but your sons will not listen to the silly flapping mouth-sounds of a vertebrate besides their lance-elf babysitter and the priestess. They are young and wild, when you do not make them <listen> to the <hum>. They could go wild and disobey in battle if only a little weak thing was there to tell them where to go and what to do!
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>>5678695
Hmmm, MMmm hmMMM~ Dwarves are pretty tasty~

Maybe you will agree, so your sons and daughters can bundle up and bring back some dwarves for you to eat? After all, you know the ones they call ‘dwarves’ do not give up easily. There will be dead to devour~

Will you lend this silly little morsel your sons?
>Yes, and you’ll teach him to <hum> properly
>Yes, sure, whatever—but you’re not teaching him how to <hum> them into submission
>No way, they are YOUR warriors, and you’re not wasting them on his silly little project
>Maybe just a FEW sons… [Specify which, and whether you teach him the <hum>]
>Write-in
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>>5678696
>Yes, and you’ll teach him to <hum> properly

glowie can't pop out more mundane bug warriors?
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>>5678702
Warriors' seem to exclusively be the result of cross species fertilizations.

On their own they can only produces the bug dumb non-sentient drones and other future female hive queens.
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>>5678696
>No way, they are YOUR warriors, and you’re not wasting them on his silly little project
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>>5678696
>Yes, sure, whatever—but you’re not teaching him how to <hum> them into submission. He can bring the Lancer along, if he needs more precise applications of the talents your Sons can bring
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>>5678696
>Yes, sure, whatever—but you’re not teaching him how to <hum> them into submission. He can bring the Lancer along, if he needs more precise applications of the talents your Sons can bring
Maybe he can take the Singer as a little apprentice.

God, I missed Glowie- we need to give her some lovin’ in our Dragonshape, she’d love that.
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>>5678696
>>Yes, and you’ll teach him to <hum> properly
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>>5678696
>Yes, sure, whatever—but you’re not teaching him how to <hum> them into submission. He can bring the Lancer along, if he needs more precise applications of the talents your Sons can bring

He is not worthy of the <Hum> …yet
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>>5678696
>Yes, sure, whatever—but you’re not teaching him how to <hum> them into submission
lets not go overboard. They are still young
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>>5679059
>>5678849
>>5678786
>>5678756
>>5678740
>>5678728
>>5678712
>>5678702
“Yezz, okay,” you agree after some consideration. “But you zzhould bring the Zzentipede Lanzzzer. They will lizzten to that one.”

The Throat-singer frowns, and asks: “They won’t listen to me? Why not?”

“They barely lizzten to me,” you lament, and exhale a sigh from your book-lungs. “Boyzzzz.”

Maybe serving their purpose in war will help expend some of your sons’ pent-up energy. As long as most of them live, it should be fine! The dwarf is very excited, at least, yammering on about their tactical utility and how fearsome they are—his fear for your sons transformed into some sort of militaristic fetishism for their martial potential. You sons silently request with pheromones and subsonic thrums to eat the little mole-ape. You tell them ‘no’, and <hum> until they all signal compliance. None-the-wiser, the Throat-singer asks:

“And you can produce more these, yes? Uh, that is… You can have more sons?”

“Yezz,” you agree.

“How quickly?” he asks eagerly.

“Not zzoon enough for your war,” you answer.

In truth, it is no meagre feat to produce warriors—they require far more calories than any daughter, save perhaps a future queen—you haven’t tried to lay a ‘princess’ egg yet, and won’t until you have ample territory for her to expand into, and can enforce her compliance. Perhaps you’ll breed her to one of her brothers, if she is good: a male is necessary to fertilize eggs, if a hive is to make soldiers. Fertilized once, you may produce them indefinitely… But you know, without knowing exactly how, that subsequent generations of warriors will not match the artificially-augmented ‘fleshwoven’ sons of your first clutch, made with a ancient dragon-blood and the assistance of your mate’s other lover. All the more reason to hope that most of these nine survive to breed, and pass on their unique genetics, but ALSO all the more reason to be careful how you breed them…

The Throat-singer eventually stops talking, seemingly noticing that you have stopped listening. He thanks you and leaves, and you bid your sons to leave with him—and to be good! No eating anyone important! They follow the dwarf, obedient for now at least.

You hum happily, imagining the thousand generations to come, and your big, happy family holding hands and wiggling in unison the world over in the aeons ahead. An Age of Chitin, AND of Scales! How lovely~

~HmmMMM, mmMMM, hm hm HMMMMMmmmmmMM~
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>>5679467

You are the ‘Centipede Lancer’, apparently. In actuality, you are Hamaraska, but the lizardmen do not like names, for some reason. You are fine with whatever they wish to call you—you’ve been called far worse than even what you suspect they hiss back and forth about you and your fellow Drow, and you have never had a name worth defending. You were abandoned as an elfling, left to die due to the perception that you were ‘god-touched’—that is to say, blessed by the gods who forsook your people and sided with the treasonous elves who stole your place in the sun. Neither male nor female, as with the maligned priestly class of the traitor-gods, you could never benefit from your people’s sacred cycles of seasons. You exist outside them, and so were driven to the outskirts.

You’ve never felt especially blessed… But maybe in some ways you are? After all, it was in your solitude and scrounging for morsels of food that you found Honemdyn, the giant cave-centipede for whom the lizardmen have named you. You affinity for Honemdyn led you naturally to an aptitude for arthropod husbandry. This is a respected profession among the Drow, which you would never be allowed to occupy in any formal capacity… But it also made you an ideal nanny to the brood of the Greatworm Queen.

Tud, Jep, Lop, Fidi, Telo, Nopti, Tonu, Gohja, and Nat. You never felt especially maternal or paternal—it just never seemed an option to you, you suppose, and so you never gave it much thought, until you were tasked with wrangling, corralling, and controlling just shy of a dozen ‘wyrmlings’. Even Honemdyn was never so much trouble, though your early difficulties with him helped inform you as you reared the fuzzy little bug-princes. For you, Honemdyn was always more a friend—maybe a sibling? You have never known the like of a brother or sister, either. In taking care of him, though, you learned valuable lessons which were applicable here: how to imprint yourself upon a great insect by associating yourself with food without becoming viewed AS food yourself; how to make them comfortable with being handled, and led. How to make them go where you say to go, and stop when you say to stop. How to make them fear, respect, and even enjoy your presence.
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>>5679513
“You are take wyrmlings in war?” you ask the Throat-singer, cognizant of your poor command of the Northern Common-tongue which is nevertheless your only shared language.

“Yes, and their mother says you’re the one to see about keeping them… On-task.”

You nod. That much makes sense. The Glowworm Queen knows how to direct her sons as a unit, and you’ve heard that King Theral can do so as well—no small wonder, with them being shaped by his gods, and his sheer ability t command the respect of just about ANYONE he meets. But for you… Well, you can keep them subdued and cooperative. You can issue simple commands. But you don’t have that… That… Whatever-it-ism that allows their Queen-mother or Dragon King to control them so effectively. You have to use word, gestures, sometimes the application of light coercion. You cannot control all nine of them, in the chaos of their first true military engagement!

The Throat-singer seems to sense your reticence. You attempt to explain yourself, but her in terrupts your disjointed half-explanation, stating:

“I only need them to not attack our forces, to stay in formation, and to withdraw when I say to withdraw—when surrender has been offered. This is it—the last big push, for the whole damn mountain-range! If you can just get them to do THAT, we’ll all live like kings. Can you do it, elf?”

Well… No, you can’t. But you can probably control SOME of them—and direct them effectively, ensuring THEY at least follow orders. They are larger, stronger, heavier, and faster than you—even if you ride atop Honemdyn! They have grown quickly, which is to be expected with larvae, but they are also SMART… And as much as that may make them more effective allies to your race, the dak dwarves, and the lizardmen, it ALSO makes them more difficult to control. They’re like curious toddlers with the size and weight of a cave-bear. It is only a guess, but you suspect you can effectively control three of the wyrms—four or five, maybe, if you choose a bonded pair.

Which sons will you supervise in battle?
>Tudyvak, the Scout
>Jepvysk, the Hunter
>Lopfivik and Fidiefvik, the Terror Twins
>Telovvisk of the Deep
>Noptivisk, the Singer
>Tonupask Ironclad & Gohjavisk Half-Dragon
>Natvodask Unknowable

[Choose no more than three; Lop and Fidi are paired and count as one choice, and so are Tonu and Gohja]
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>>5679523
>Lopfivik and Fidiefvik, the Terror Twins
>Tonupask Ironclad & Gohjavisk Half-Dragon
>Noptivisk, the Singer

Maximizing number of Sons allows us to control them by proxy when we overwhelm the Dwarves, by siccing them on their less-obedient siblings.. and maybe the Singer will have some connection with Karz.
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>>5679523
>Lopfivik and Fidiefvik, the Terror Twins
>Tonupask Ironclad & Gohjavisk Half-Dragon
>Natvodask Unknowable

Go the mystery box
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>>5679523
>Lopfivik and Fidiefvik, the Terror Twins
>Tonupask Ironclad & Gohjavisk Half-Dragon
>Natvodask Unknowable

mystery box
also the singer might also be more suited to shaking off the effects of Karz's hum. could go either way.
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>>5679528
+1 To this, the singer might actually bond with Karz if they can learn from each other bard magicwise, which would be pretty badass
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>>5679523
>>Lopfivik and Fidiefvik, the Terror Twins
>>Tonupask Ironclad & Gohjavisk Half-Dragon
>>Noptivisk, the Singer
>>
>>5679528
+1
>>
>>5679523
>>5679528
This
>>
>>5679823
>>5679757
>>5679660
>>5679611
>>5679606
>>5679604
>>5679528
You’re not entirely sure what’s expected of you in this battle ahead. Are you to serve as a sort of ‘unit commander’ for the wyrmlings? To simply help reinforce discipline? However, one thing seems clear to you—this little dwarf-man, with his puffed chest and proudly-tilted chin, is in over his head with these nine young dragon-bugs. He’ll need all the help he can get… So you endeavour to supervise the maximum possible number of the wyrms, taking as much of the weight off of his low-set shoudlers as possible.

“Lop, Fidi, Tonu, Gohja… Ah, Nopti.”

To his credit, Karz seems to recognize your intent, at least in part.

“Taking command of the two sets of ‘twins’? Clever. They’ll work together well. Makes it easier for you to command a lot of them at once! Maybe the others will follow by example, ay?”

You shrug and nod.

“Why that last one, though?” the Dragon King’s dwarven apprentice asks.

“He sings,” you answer. “He can sing to the others… maybe you. Send warning, call for help. Is good thing to have, yeah?”

Karz nods again, looking thoughtful.

“Yeah, I agree. It is. A bard, huh?”

He seems to regard Nopti with renewed interest. You slap the chitin plate on the Singer’s flank, as you catch him leaning forward with hungry intent, and Nopti demurs.You’ve noticed the wyrmlings’ ravenous appetite declining as their growth-moulting cycle slowed. It’s been a great relief—you used to expend a great deal of your energy preventing them from chasing down and consuming every kobold, dwarf, or elfling which moved fast enough to trigger their predatory instincts.

‘Not bard,’ Nopti signs with his manipulating digits, in the sign-language used by Wevenore’s spies and assassins—something you’re proud to have passed onto the wyrms,and prouder still that they’ve embraced so readily. ‘Not magic.’

‘We don’t know that for sure yet,’ you sign back encouragingly.
>>
Rolled 98, 92, 56, 55 = 301 (4d100)

>>5680061

After all, who KNOWS whatv the wyrmlings will grow into? You’re excited to see it, if indeed these strange beings reach maturity in your own lifetime—you ARE, after all, already a century-and-a-half old, and there is no precedent for the juvenile wyrmlings’ lifecycle, which could take a year, or a decade, or a century. You HOPE you get to see them grow, and change, and perhaps even help tutor them on how to care for young of their own someday, though.

You discuss the Duergar leader's plans for a while after that. The wyrmlings laze around, clearly paying no attention—well, except, of course, who is always attentive. Tud wanders away after a time, but you give him a pointed look and, with a quiet sigh, he signs back 'Kill only animals, and not go too far.' Good boy.

Yes, this must be what parenthood feels like…

Eventually, you and the Throat-singer part company, to make preparations for what is to come: war, and according to Karz, a victory both final and absolute.

4d100 for the results of the final push. DC 30/50/80; the last die represents Hamaraska’s group, and the DCs are lowered by 15 for them and their wyrmlings.
>>
>>5680065
While war rages in the mountains above, there is quiet in the underdark below. It is a welcome respite—the small party of four (plus one dearly departed kobold) has had no shortage of excitement as of late. You thank the Dark Gods for seeing fit to grant you <Guidance> away from any further danger.

You are called by many names and titles, most of them self-appointed. Champion. Knight Ascendant. Dark Prophet. Prince of Love. Copper Dragon King of Bloodrise. Theral. Long Wang.

You are the DRAGONBORN ANTIPALADIN, and you are almost home.

You are recently of Hawksong, where you wore the skin and name of ‘Long Wang’, the eastern exorcist and adventurer. In this guise, you seduced and wed the very daughter of the city’s Paladin King Archos: Ekaterine, your Beloved One. She travels with you now, troubled by the truth of your no-longer-hidden Reptilian nature, but still bound to you by chains of love… And by the divinely-blessed baby you planted within her upon your wedding night.

Also alongside you is your other Beloved One, your first love and perhaps closest ally, the Novice Fleshweaver. She, like your human mate, is rather cross with you at the moment. The reasons are myriad, and you can’t necessarily deny the legitimacy of some of her grievances: you tarried long in Hawksong, took many risks in the name of your love for another; you have made many bold (but necessary!) changes to the old social order which grants her prestige and privilege, and plan to make many more.

Most recently, you led your retinue deliberately into danger to dispense with a troublesome ‘ally’ who was truly meant to be your usurper and supervisor, appointed by the Serpent Priest caste which has long ruled your Master Race during your people’s exile in darkness, and which fear the brave you world you plan to bring about—a world where you can stride the surface as kings and queens, and bring glorious Darkness to the sunlit world above! Of course, it was this detour which proved deadly to poor little Ivno—the kobold who your half-human retainer Oluwadamilre the Archer now carries in a bundle upon his back, that you might repatriate his body to his people in Bloodrise. It also resulted in the capture, traumatically claustrophobic entrapment, and battery of all of you… hence the tense atmosphere of your grim procession back home.

Hm. Well, they can’t stay mad forever, right?
>>
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>>5680082
Olu, at least, is in good spirits—even with the dead body upon his back.

“I wonder how the war has proceeded in your absence, Dragonborn?” he asks, breaking the silence. “You said that in Hawksong, you heard the dwarves were losing rather badly, yes? This bodes well for us! You might be returning to a much larger kingdom than you left!”

“Yes,” you agree, happy for the more positive discussion. “If we are not yet undisputed rulers of the mountains, we will be soon enough!”

You both chuckle at the images that conjures, and Olu in particular seems flattered to be included as a ‘ruler’—as a human-born ‘Degenerate’, his lot is that of a useful abomination in your society—a slave-spy, sterilized and subjugated. To him, your brave new world—the New Age of Darkness—means even more than it does to other Reptilians of the Master Race. It means recognition, respect, and a chance at genuine happiness. You are glad to give these things to him—to ALL the forgotten children of darkness and deprivation. It is your duty and destiny, and it’s THIS world that you know even skeptical and Light-born Eka will come to love.

But speaking of love…

“If things are going so well in Bloodrise, perhaps we are not so urgently needed?” Olu the Archer asks, tentatively.

You tilt your head questioningly, slowing down somewhat. It’s not like him to initiate conversation, you realize, and so you begin to wonder what he has in mind—if this question, and where it leads, is WHY he broke the silence.

“I was wondering,” he says, averting his gaze and fidgeting with uncharacteristic nervousness for the normally-confident Archer, “if we might pay a visit to the forward camp of the Drow? We are not far from there—a two-day journey, there and back, at most.”

Ah. Yes, the encampment which the dark elves of Wevenore keep to monitor the caves closer to the surface, between Bloodrise and the northern forward base of your race. You first encountered it when you left that base almost two years prior—it feels like a lifetime ago, now!—an your journey to subjugate the kobolds of Bloodrise. That fateful mission eld you on a lifechanging adventure such as you never could have expected, changing you from just an usual-looking experimental soldier of the Master Race into the Dragon King you are today!

And it was there that Olu the Archer met Jazkarmel—the Drow Princess (if the term still applies, now that her patron relative is no longer queen?) who serves as commander of that camp.
>>
>>5680083
Diverting to pay Jazkarmel’s camp a visit could provide some welcome respite for all of you. Ekaterine especially would benefit; she has lived a sheltered life and is not accustomed to such long, hard travel, or to sleeping upon bare stones, and who has lately begun to lag and to require frequent stops to rest (much to the Novice’s ire). You, too, have enjoyed the raucous revels of the dark elf warriors in the past, and Jazkarmel’s fine company and unpretentious conversation—though perhaps not so much as Olu, who obvious has ulterior motives for suggestion the detour.

Can you really afford to remain away from Bloodrise any longer than you already have, though? It has been months… What ahs become of your kingdom? Your lieutenants? Your first mate Glowie, and your wyrmling sons?

What will you do?
>Visit Jazkarmel’s camp
>Hurry to Bloodrise
>>
>>5680084
>Visit Jazkarmel’s camp
They'll be fine without us for a few more days
>>
>>5680084
>Visit Jazkarmel’s camp

From a strictly business perspective, we can pass along to the Drow that the conquest is going well and we may be ready to move into a new phase soon, with their assistance.
>>
>>5680084
>Hurry to Bloodrise
We gotta make sure everything is ok, we can throw together an expedition to the camp within hours of arrival with Olu at the head, but Bloodrise first.
>>
>>5680084
"who obvious has ulterior motives for suggestion the detour"
*obviously has ulterior motives for suggesting
Ugh
>>
>>5680084
>Visit Jazkarmel’s camp

We can stay for at least 1 night
>>
>>5680084
>>Visit Jazkarmel’s camp.

We killed deepvein's adventuring group that was planning on helping the dwarves. And we also stopped hawksong from providing them aid. The bloodrise kingdom should be fine.
>>
>>5680087
>>5680119
>>5680127
>>5680211
>>5680226
The Archer has been a loyal and stalwart friend, so you can forgive him being less than up-front about his (frankly quite transparent) motivations. After all, you are Prince of Love! But can you really afford to be away from Bloodrise any longer?

Well… Yes.

You may have been away from home for some time, but you haven’t been on vacation. You’ve been working to ensure that your kingdom in Bloodrise WOULD be safe in your absence. The adventurers who were to render aid were smashed and broken, and Hawksong’s only surviving prince is your puppet. No help is coming for the dwarves of Bloodrise. Your war may go slowly—there may be losses—but there is no reason to believe that a few more days will make or break the campaign.

“Wise council, Archer,” you reply to Olu, who beams. “We can pass along to the Drow that the conquest is going well and we may be ready to move into a new phase soon, with their assistance.”

“As you say, Superior One!”

You rattle quietly with laughter, and inform the others. The Novice Fleshweaver is indifferent to the delay, save for mentioning that she will have to expend yet more of his magic to prevent Ivno’s body ‘spoiling’ unduly. Princess Ekaterine’s reaction, meanwhile, is mixed.

“There are ELVES?” she asks, trying to hide the excitement which slips into her voice. “underground?”

“Yesss,” you tell her. “They are called the ‘Drow’ in their own tongue—an ancccient elven dialect from before a long-passst sschisssm. They live in thisss marveousss cccity of cryssstal and sssilk, on the edge of a vassst sssubterranean lake…”

Like you, your Eka is an appreciator of elven artwork, culture, and language. While she is more familiar with the surface-elves of the so-called Elflands—Silverwood, Iternagreyn, the Dawnglades, etcetera, with which you have only passing familiarity yourself—she is also a student of history and society, and ever-curious to learn about foreign cultures and new peoples. The barrier which has been erected between you since you revealed your true form and spirited her away begins to break down, and recent unfortunate happenings are briefly pushed away as the two of you share your experiences and knowledge of elvenkind above and below.

“…Though I must admit, I am not looking forward to encountering these, ah, giant bugs.”

Eka shivers at the mere thought of the dark elves’ favourite pets, most especially their spiders. You, who grew up regarding such monstrously-large arthropods primarily as a food source, cannot exactly relate.

“Jussst wait until you meet Glowie,” the Novice taunts Ekaterine.
>>
>>5680407
“…Glowie?” Ekaterine asks, looking questioningly (and somewhat worriedly) to you.

Ah, yes. Your THIRD ‘wife’, if such a human concept can apply to an enormous sapient glowworm with whom you bred a clutch of insectoid creatures. Blissfully, you are spared yet having to provide a full explanation of THAT whole affair by your arrival at the edges of the Drow camp—or, rather, by the watchful Drow scouts emerging from the deeper darkness to greet you, having recognized ‘King Theral’ and his entourage. Ekaterine seems somewhat scandalized at their scant attire—their ebon-black bodies largely bare except for straps of ghoul-leather binding harvested chitin armor over translucent-thin spider-silk garments; she tries to hide her staring, but her wide eyes and flushed face afford her no secrets. They lead you back to their camp, and you are rather amused all the way.

“Copper Dragon King! Oluwadamilare!” Jazkarmel greets you both warmly upon your arrival.

The Drow Princess embraces you both for quite some time—Olu especially, and without shame. Her tryst with him, in lieu of the political marriage she was meant to forge, may be minor scandal in Wevenore, but here among her loyal soldiers—all rather wanton and flagrant in the loose and mixed-gender military structure of the camp—their love is open secret.

“Ah, and you brought the Serpent Priestess,” Jazkarmel says with less enthusiasm of the novice, who hisses in response.

“Of courssse,” she says, in her rather broken Drowtongue. “I am sssenior rank here.”

Jazkarmel shrug and smiles easily, and offers a low bow. This seems to brighten the Novice’s mood somewhat, especially when Jazkarmel summons attendants to take her ack and see to it that she is immediately offered comforts and a place to rest.

“This one is new, though,” Jazkarmel then notes, regarding Ekaterine curiously. “Is she… Like Olu? A mixed-blood?”

Your Princess surprises you both with her quick reply--in Elven no less!—saying: “No, I am a human. My name is Ekaterine, Princess of Hawksong, Daughter of Paladin King Archos. It is a pleasure to meet you, Princess Jazkarmel of Wevenore… Wife of the Copper Dragon King.”
>>
>>5680408

At least… You THINK that’s what she said. It’s certainly the gist. You and Jazkarmel exchange a look, and the Drow Princess laughs nervously.

“A different dialect. Traitor-tongue.”

“Yes,” you acknowledge, “She is… From the surface, of course, so the Elventongue she speaks is…”

Jazkarmel nods understanding, and gives Ekaterine a gracious bow.

“The pleasure is mine,” she replies, and then looks questioningly to you.

“And… Wife? I had thought…?”

Jazkarmel's eyes flit in the direction which the Novice Fleshweaver (never one to socialize overmuch with 'he help') absconded.

“A Dragon King can have many wives,” you quickly interject.

“Ah,” Jazkarmel laughs. “How nice for you! But a wife to you is like a new sister to me, of course!”

She warmly embraces Ekaterine, who blushes anew but awkwardly returns the embrace. You suppose elven diplomats from surface nations are not so touchy-feely as the Wevenore Drow… Or at least, not with the treasured daughter of the Paladin King.

“Come, come!” Jazkarmel says then, and beckons you. “It sounds like you have many stories to share, and you all look as if it has been difficult travel! Eat, drink, sing if you wish, dance or duel. We have a wedding to celebrate, after all! Even if I unfortunately was not on the guest-list…”

Her eyes sparkle with mischief at the last comment, and you reciprocate with a laugh of your own at the playful jab. She takes Olu’s arm, and you take Ekaterine’s—which she accepts—and you follow her.

What will you do?
>Party hardy—and provide Ekaterine some of the psychedelic mushroom-wine of the Drow to help her relax
>Talk strategy—request that the Drow ready for the next stage of your expansion of the Bloodrise Kingdom
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>Write-in
[The more you choose, the longer your stay; keep that in mind]
>>
>>5680409
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>>
>>5680409
>Party hardy—and provide Ekaterine some of the psychedelic mushroom-wine of the Drow to help her relax
I can't not pick an option with party hardy

>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>>
>>5680409
>Party hardy—and provide Ekaterine some of the psychedelic mushroom-wine of the Drow to help her relax
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>>
>>5680409
>>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>>
>>5680409
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>>
>>5680409
>Party hardy—and provide Ekaterine some of the psychedelic mushroom-wine of the Drow to help her relax
She has been pretty stressed out ngl
>>
>>5680409
>Party hardy—and provide Ekaterine some of the psychedelic mushroom-wine of the Drow to help her relax
>Talk strategy—request that the Drow ready for the next stage of your expansion of the Bloodrise Kingdom
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
We can spend some time here
>>
>>5680409
Please let's not give alcohol and drugs to the pregnant woman.

>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>Have the Novice untie the tubes of the Archer
>>
>>5680409
Shit, I didn't think of it. I'll switch >>5680518 to
>Talk strategy—request that the Drow ready for the next stage of your expansion of the Bloodrise Kingdom
>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
Everything other than giving alcohol and drugs to the pregnant woman.
>>
>>5680544
probably a good idea
>>5680427
changing to
>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
>Have Jazkarmel—a mage of some skill, after all—examine your new khopesh to determine its magical functions
>>
>>5680544
Also, backlinking ID to >>5678194
>>
>>5680409
>>Talk strategy—request that the Drow ready for the next stage of your expansion of the Bloodrise Kingdom
>>Ask after Wevenore-how have things fared in the Oasis of Silk and Crystal, since you left?
>>Procure new garb for yourself and your retinue—it would not do to arrive in Bloodrise in shredded rags
Shopping and gossip. I'm sure that will help the ladies unwind after a hard journey.
Politics and strategy is also prudent.
>>
>>5680736
>>5680590
>>5680566
>>5680544
>>5680470
>>5680440
>>5680433
>>5680423
>>5680410
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5680784
As mushroom wine and conversation flow freely, you remember why you so enjoy the company of dark elves. They have that distinctive mammalian warmth about them—not only the literal sort thanks to their warmblooded metabolism, but the personal, social aptitude which the Master race has abandoned. Unlike their surface-dwelling brethren, though, the Drow are a people hardened by circumstance—made ruthless and pragmatic, as you and yours have been, but without losing their joy for life, or their capacity for love. Their society is not without problematic and bizarre elements, of course: there is their decentralized and haphazard politics, the decadence of their elite and the illiteracy of their underclass, and their incomprehensible ideas around sex and gender. Still, in Jazkarmel’s race you see something of what you wish for the world at large.

You can tell that Ekaterine is charmed as well, though the barriers of dialect and culture mean she cannot yet appreciate the company and conversation QUITE as readily as you other three. There is also the matter of her sobriety—you thought to offer her mushroom wine at first, but then remembered her developing foetus within, and thought better of it.

“So I’m to be the only one here not drinking?” she asks, pointedly.

You set your own mushroom cap mug down upon the simple table between you four in solidarity.

“The water down here is not very good,” Jazkarmel notes apologetically. “There is a way to deactivate the, ah… Fun? Silliness? I don’t know if that translates right… To make the wine not affect the senses and sensibilities.”

Your own tolerance for such substances is lower than that of a warmblood, anyway… Perhaps this course is for the best. Betetr for attending to more serious business.

“That would be lovely,” Ekaterine says with a smile, and bows her head. “Thank you, Princess Jazkarmel.”

Jazkarmel laughs her crystalline, shimmering laugh.

“Your new wife is so formal, Theral! It is adorable, like a little girl! Not built like one, though…”

Princess Ekaterine laughs nervous and flushes a little, adjusting her torn bodice a little self-consciously. You suppose the mushroom wine must be getting to the Drow Princess. The Archer’s raucous laugh reveals the same is true of him, though of course moreso: he has a Reptilian’s difficulty metabolizing these chemicals, just as you do. Despite this, he continues to match the pace of his elven lover. You laugh quietly, and make no comment—this trip is partly a reward for your loyal ally, after all. Let them have their fun and games!

Not ALL fun and games, though.

“How fares Wevenore?” you ask, as the visit continues and ‘small-talk’ is expended. “Has the reign of King Solinsyr been a good one, thus far?”
>>
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>>5680820
Eka seems interested to hear more of that city as well—the oasis of Crystal and Silk, which you spun so many (lightly embellished) tales of, most especially its colourful cast of roguish noble-elves. Jazkarmel frowns and runs her fingers through her dark hair, closing her eyes a moment.

“Ugh.”

“It is that bad?” you ask, worried now.

“No, no,” the Drow is quick to reassure you. “It is not BAD, just… Not a smooth transition. Or not as smooth as it could be. Minothel and Corandiirn are still displeased with their loss, and though more noble houses and nearly all the low-born supported him thanks to you, they are less… Enthusiastic than before. It makes it easy for the princes to undermine him.”

“Why is this?” you ask, unhappy to think of the Aesthete Prince and Assassin Prince conspiring against the candidate who you worked so hard to install.

“Well, the promise of Solinsyr as king was that we would be opening up, expanding… Joining the, what did you call it? Dark Alliance? This was supposed to mean more food, more room to expand, more safety and more wealth. So far, it’s meant participation in the war against the Kobodl necromancer and the dwarves—”

“All things YOU approved, and for YOUR race’s benefit as well,” you quickly add.

Jazkarmel holds up a hand placatingly, and nods agreement.

“Still,” she says, “so far the impression which Solinsyr is creating as king… And which his rivals are spreading and propagating to anyone who will listen… Is that we are trading sovereignty to lizardmen, our souls to foreign ‘gods of evil’, and getting… Well, little back in return.”

Your tail lashes in annoyance at this, the hard spade-tip hitting the stone with a crack that startles Eka. You look at her and pat her hand apologetically.

“It has been less than a year,” you note. “It will take time…”

“And elves are long-lived, and used to things taking time,” Jazkarmel says. “It is just post-election instability and power-jockeying.”

There is a pregnant pause.

“But…?” you prompt her.

“But,” she agrees, “there is a ‘but’, yes. If there was good news from Bloodrise… Something tangible, a notable announcement and some war-prizes shipped back to Wevenore, or if our settlements there were ready to receive civilians and to engage in trade and diplomacy… That would be a tangible thing to flaunt in the face of the other princes.”

“Or King Solinsyr could simply deal with HIS dissenters as I dealt with the Necromancer you mentioned,” you point out.

(Or like how you dealt with the Appointed Successor, you privately reflect, fondling the hilt of the khopesh which the deceased usurper once held.)
>>
>>5680821
Jazkarmel’s eyes widen, and for a moment you fear you overstepped… But then she laughs, and reaches out to squeeze your shoulder.

“Dragons are so direct!” she teases you. “I like the way you think… But you want Wevenore stable, do you not? Civil war will get in the way of us sending you allies… Aside from all the reasons we’d dislike it. Solinsyr might not even win… And definitely not quickly, and without cost.”

You get her meaning. King Solinsyr lacks the support of enough of his people’s elite class to direct Wevenore as a unified political entity and make real gains. Overthrowing this shared power dynamic would ALSO take unification—of the soldier class, whoa re distributed among private militias of the various noble-houses. A frustrating circumstance, you imagine—or don’t need to imagine, as it frustrates your vision for how Wevenore might be integrated into your new Dark Empire as a vassal state as well. Ah, the flightiness of elves…

What will you do?
>Pledge to stabilize Bloodrise forthwith, and send invitation for the excess population of Wevenore to begin moving to the Drow-delineated territories therein
>Promise that you will send war-spoils and trade-goods back to Wevenore upon your return—ample enough to lend legitimacy to the neophyte King of Elves you there installed
>Offer military aid in imposing the new king’s new law—when the war in Bloodrise is finished, as you hope it soon will be—you will send your forces to help subjugate the rebellious elf-princes
>Write-in
>>
>>5680822
>Promise that you will send war-spoils and trade-goods back to Wevenore upon your return—ample enough to lend legitimacy to the neophyte King of Elves you there installed

What Solinsyr has always wanted was trade, just give him what he wanted and promised.
>>
>>5680822
>Promise that you will send war-spoils and trade-goods back to Wevenore upon your return—ample enough to lend legitimacy to the neophyte King of Elves you there installed
>>
>>5680822
>Promise that you will send war-spoils and trade-goods back to Wevenore upon your return—ample enough to lend legitimacy to the neophyte King of Elves you there installed
>>
>>5680822
>Promise that you will send war-spoils and trade-goods back to Wevenore upon your return—ample enough to lend legitimacy to the neophyte King of Elves you there installed, while keeping a careful tally of the goods sent. You are willing to support Solinsyr, but nothing is free in this world
>>
>>5680822
>>Pledge to stabilize Bloodrise forthwith, and send invitation for the excess population of Wevenore to begin moving to the Drow-delineated territories therein
>>
>>5681059
>>5680960
>>5680862
>>5680851
>>5680850
“Nothing comes for free,” you say sternly, none-too-eager to become eternal financier to a lazy and stagnating dark elf vassal.

“Of course,” Jazkarmel says, smiling slightly and leaning back as if she already knows what is coming next.

“…But Wevenore has rendered aid to my kingdom, and I shall render it in kind to King Solinsyr. The war has generated profits, and I promise that some of these spoils will find their way to your race in turn.”

“Tell the Ambassador, not me,” Jazkarmel says wryly, but her smile broadens.

“Why are you so pleased?” The Archer asks, raising an eyebrow. “You are no fan of you almost-fiancé, last I checked.”

Jazkarmel scoffs, and slaps playfully at her lover’s back.

“I don’t care what riches he furnishes his bedchamber with, Olu,” she says to him. “Only that I get to do the same with MINE. And speaking of which…”

You take the hint, taking Ekaterine’s hand and beginning. It HAS been a long journey, and a long day. Ekaterine’s sleep schedule has been erratic, you noticed, without sunrise or sunset to regulate it; having been born and raised in the darkness below, you have no such trouble, and you know you are due your torpor. You will stay here another day—Jazkarmel’s comments throughout your little ‘dinner date’ summit drew your attention to how disheveled you and your company have become, and you have no intent to return to Bloodrise looking like some scruffy, mud-encrusted vagabonds. For now, though, you will rest.

With whom, though? Ekaterine seems to be a bit more at ease now, it’s true… But this environment is still a hostile one by its very nature to one such as her, and you cannot imagine leaving her alone among the somewhat xenophobic Drow soldiery will do much to mitigate that. The Novice Fleshweaver’s insecurities and suspicions surrounding the Human Princess will only grow if you don’t allot her time as well, though…

Ugh, polygamy is difficult, doubly so when your mates are not especially close . Why did nobody warn you?
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>>5681072
“Leaving so soon?”

You look up, blinking in confusion as Jazkarmel interrupts your thoughts.

“I… Thought you had implied…?”

Jazkarmel regards you curiously. You exchange a look with Eka, who looks just as confused as you—maybe more so.

“I had,” Jazkarmel says. “Implied.”

Olu’s expression shifts into one of plain panic, seeming to realize something before the rest of you. He motions in rapid Drow sign-language—he must have picked up some of silent speech, but Jazkarmel merely takes his hands in hers, then sensually slides a hand up to massage his shoulder. His eyes flit to you, looking deeply apologetic, and you sense his anxiety growing.

“I don’t think I understand,” Ekaterine interjects. “The, ah, dialect, maybe?”

“I am saying that it is time for me and my Olu to depart for my tent here,” Jazkarmel speaks slowly, enunciating the words carefully, “and that you two are welcome to join.”

“W-wait,” Ekaterine stammers, face and neck and even the uppermost part of her chest aflush with a crimson blush. “What?”

Suddenly, Jazkarmel’s commentary upon Ekaterine’s appearance takes on an entirely different and altogether unexpected meaning, and Oluwadamialre’s panic makes perfect sense. In fact, her forwardness about the diplomacy begins to make more sense, too—Jaz is never one for pretense or formality, but she’s only ever been so blunt in the past when she was quite intoxicated. And ‘blunt’ is an understatement, here, speaking on THIS matter!

“Drow Princess!” The Archer admonishes her, falling back into the Reptilian habit of substituting titles for names in his hurry to mend the situation. “Remember yourself! The Dragonborn will not—”

“Won’t he?” Jazkarmel asks, raising her eyebrow archly at you. “What does the Dragonborn think? And his… Blushing bride?”

This is getting entirely out of hand! And yet… Well, it’s certainly ONE form of stress-relief, and one Ekaterine could participate in, if she was so inclined. Ha! But as if she ever would…



Would she? Would YOU?

>Spend your torpor with Ekaterine
>Spend your torpor with the Fleshweaver
>Spend your torpor in Jazkarmel’s tent… With Jaz, Olu, and Eka
>Write-in

Pardon the goofy and lewd social vote (with, admittedly, some minor relationship implications and 'mechanical' affects). Been a while since we had one of these. Wonder what JiggleAnon has been up to?
>>
>>5681075
>Spend your torpor with the Fleshweaver

As much as the orgy is enticing to the coomanons, Sszeth is still distant and we have some stuff to resolve with her. Most of Ekaterine's issues will be solved when she becomes familiar with her new life and routine.
>>
>>5681075
>Write-in: Spend your torpor with no one, and instead peacefully meditate with big red on how one becomes an effective draconic ruler.

If we spend time with eka, novice will be peeved. If we spend time with the novice Eka will be distraught, its a lose lose situation.

So the only solution I see is to go back to our roots 2 years ago. When we would peacefully mediate on what it means to be a dragon, alongside our brother or by ourselves.
>>
>>5681130
Backing this - but also, invite both women to meditate with us (if they want)
>>
>>5681204
+1
>>
>>5681075
>Spend your torpor in Jazkarmel’s tent… With Jaz, Olu, and Eka
if we can't drink the mushroom wine this is the next best thing
party time!
>>
>>5681229
not sure if eka is gonna accept it that easily
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>>5681246
just tell her it's dark elf culture and it would be disrespectful to refuse
easy
>>
>>5681075
>Spend your torpor in Jazkarmel’s tent… With Jaz, Olu, and Eka
Honestly like Jaz and Olu- and we already impregnated, so no worries there. Let’s have a little fun!
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>>5681075
This >>5681130. The relationships must be stabilised.

Orgies? Blasphemous. To engage in such shallow hedonism is to debase the value of the title "Prince of Love".
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>>5681130
Counterpoint- if we spend time doing diplomacy, no one will be peeved! Clearly diplomacy is the best option ;)

>>5681246
Honestly think she will friend- she open to new experiences, and an I like the idea of corrupting Eka further.
>>
>>5681269
fine. mindbreak it is.

>>5681075
>Spend your torpor in Jazkarmel’s tent… With Jaz, Olu, and Eka
>>
>>5681267
I disagree- is it was with strangers, then it’d be shallow. But these are people we respect and love- stands to reason that the Price of Love would go for it.
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>>5681270
I appreciate your support friend
>>
>>5681270
>>5681267
>>5681259
>>5681204
>>5681229
>>5681130
>>5681093
[Not a HUGELY important vote, but it characterizes the MC and a waifu, and affects their relationship moving forward, and I know that has been a bone of contention in the past. Given how close it is, I'll leave this open until after work tomorrow.]
>>
>>5681075
>Write-in: Spend your torpor with no one, and instead peacefully meditate with big red on how one becomes an effective draconic ruler.
>>
>>5681075
>>Spend your torpor with Ekaterine
Unless she's interested in partaking in elven culture. Might as well as her opinion.
>>
>>5681290
Was there a mis count i see three people backing mediate, one backing spending the night with novice?
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>>5681290
I appreciate that RQM, and hope we get other chances at that Dragonborn/Jaz/Olu threesome and Eka corruption.
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>>5681305
[Nope. One meditate voter changed to back orgy, HaramAnon backed Novice.]
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>>5681308
[I included it because it fit the tone of the scene and people had memed it before, but if it's turned down Jaz isn't so desperate for dragondick she'll keep pitching it. It isn't something I feel the need to try to force if people vote it down once.
>>
>>5681310
why is it 0.5?
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>>5681313
[see >>5681303. Main vote for Eka, but the commentary is 'hey, if she's down for group sex, group sex is cool too.']
>>
>>5681075
>>5681130
Support

I would vote for Eka, but I really don't want the orgy to win. Fucking coombrains, I swear...
>>
>>5681312
I’m sorry to hear that- I was always a Jaz fan, it’s a shame that a relationship with her had to be tied up with different waifu relationship.
>>
>>5681317
[Polyamory is complicated, especially when you add in feelings and high-level international politics. It would be highly suspect for a QM to repeatedly try to force a waifu on the players once she's been turned down, though. Even Glowie had a plot reason, since she's a genestealer.]

>>5681316
[Good news is you're winning, now. A very neat write-in by >>5681130, by the way! I can see this being very fun as well. I appreciate all you anons, and if I was more sober I'd tally now and write. As it is: vote stays open for now, but I'm done answering between-vote questions and comments.]
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>>5681320
It honestly seems to me that there was always strings attached to the Jaz relationship- and I do mean in the sense that there was always a different consideration involved that tended to nuke the idea. It’s a recurring writing tendency I’ve noticed.

Speaking to the other anons, this would be a way to get Eka on board the idea more firmly, and probably help Jax’s internal political position- getting intimate with the Princess of now one but two kingdoms makes her indispensable with the new Drow King, and solidifies her house’s position as well, especially considering that they’re trying to get diplomatic and trade going with the Surface-dwellers. Wouldn’t mind helping a friend and and ally out.

As for the Write In being fun? Maybe you’ll make it fun, but it honestly reads like it’s trying to distract us from making a choice rather than presenting one. At least >>5681204 ties to present a workable alternative.

Either way, hope you have a nice night RQM.
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>>5681324
It combines the downsides of spending the night with Eka alone (the Fleshweaver won't like it), without the upsides of spending the night with Eka alone (confirming that we love her and want her, helping her with the transition from everything she knew to her new life)

The only real benefit is to Jaz, who is your waifu but not our wife and it comes at the expense of both of our actual wives who are present.
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>>5681334
It has the upside of corrupting Eka, and I don’t think Eka feels like we need to reconfirm our love for each other right at this moment- hell, she’s probably even enjoy it and become less stressed as a result.

Meanwhile, meditating alone reaps us all the downsides of the three options (no one will like it) with none of the upsides (someone will like it).
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>>5681338
>It has the upside of corrupting Eka
lol
lmao, even
>Meanwhile, meditating alone reaps us all the downsides of the three options (no one will like it) with none of the upsides (someone will like it).
Anon, you don't understand what makes a relationship like this work and why cooming in your waifu is a bad idea. It's the playing favourites with one girl or another that makes them not like it. Meditating is a perfect compromise because it doesn't play favourites at all, keeping the girls that are supposed to be in our heart in equal footing.

Meanwhile, the orgy with your waifu is terrible because it both plays favourites (We choose Eka over the Fleshweaver) AND doesn't play favourites (We choose a stranger who, I repeat, is your waifu but not our wife, over our Eka, our actual wife)

I'm not against threesomes and orgies in general, having one with Eka and the Fleshweaver would work nicely if the Fleshweaver had the slightest inclination at such a proposal, but this is a horrible idea that will damage our relationship with both girls who are supposed to come first in our life, with the only benefit being a shallow cooming.
>>
>>5681290

>>5681130
>>5681204
Meditate
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>>5681204
And yeah, I'll back inviting them both to meditate with us if they want
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>>5681345
I don’t blame you for thinking the meditate option is the neutral option, but it is legitimately a write in copout mate.

Second, the orgy option isn’t choosing Jaz over Eka, it choosing to have a bit of fun with both of them and Olu- it isn’t going to result in Eka hating us, despite your worst fears.

Third, I honestly believe your overthinking it- RQM even said this isn’t hugely important, he just wants us to be aware that this affects characterization (obviously) and minor relationship implications. I understand your anxiety, but this isn’t something that will nuke our relationship with either girls, or seriously injure it- this isn’t a Coming Out to Edwin tier decision, this is explicitly goofy and lewd social decision, it won’t be the end of the world to engage in some minor fun.
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>>5681310
Can we ask Eka her thoughts on the request? I think shed be open to meditation since shes seen a dark god already she may already be open to seeing more, but I do think its good we take her feelings into account because maybe she does want some drow pussy
>>
>>5681348
[Updated totals! I woke up earlier than usual, but I promised to leave this vote open 'til after work, so I will. We still don't have a majority vote for any option, anyway]

>>5681324
>strings attached to the Jaz relationship
[I've attached strings to every relationship option, anon. It's on purpose! Writing an uncomplicated relationship is less fun and doesn't afford me as many jumping off points for meaningful votes and character development. Without a complication, limitation, or implication, it would render such votes as just "do you want to have happy sex with a person who loves you and unconditionally supports you, who everyone approves of? Y/N" which is a wonderful thing in real life but doesn't really seem like a meaningful and compelling questing decision or vibe well with the spirit of this quest for me, you know?]

>As for the Write In being fun?
[There is something inherently funny to me about a guy with a harem of waifus being invited by a sexy elf princess to a tantric group sex party, only for him to be like 'lol, no way. come on, wives, we're going to go stoically meditate.' It's just a funny way to characterize Theral.]

>>5681345
>>5681360
>>5681438
[While the choice here may affect the MC's preferences and the way he and his friends/lovers relate to one another in short and long-term ways, it won't torpedo any relationship. Likewise, having repeatedly made it clear in votes that Theral values Ekaterine's consent well, kind of no vote will result in her being forced into anything against her will. This is just a vote to determine how Theral approaches relationships/sex/favoritism in his increasingly-weird harem/polycule, and how 'intimate' his close friendships with the likes of Jaz and Olu become.]
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[I am both surprised and pleased about how much thought everyone's putting into this and how invested people seem to be in the characters and relationship dynamics outside of empire-building and power-scaling, though. It's very gratifying as an author and QM. Enjoy these WIPs of Karz and Olu in the meantime! The artist is Tigandra.]
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>>5681480
lmao karz looks like he's 12
aren't dwarves supposed to be thicc?
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>>5681562
He's an incel who does virgin shit like sing it fits for him to be malnourished and gaunt. He's not not a chad thick thighed dwarven warrior who gets all the dwarussy
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>>5681476
Maybe funny to you, but we all know the write in was created to wiggle out of a choice anons made bigger in there heads than was warranted. Making mountains outta molehills and all that.

Unrelated, I do hope JiggleAnon is alright- it’s been awhile since we’ve seen him.

>>5681480
Neato!
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>>5681562
[See the first update of the thread.]

>>5681682
[I personally consider it a legitimate write-in, and am amused. That's all.]
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>>5681867
Yeah I read his description but I mainly took away beardlessness, I didn't think it was that bad.
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>>5681480
Im not gonna lie, the dwarf apprentice looks more like a halfing or something than a true dwarf. No wonder he got bullied by his old community.
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>>5681480
Cool art, I always imagined Karz as bald for some reason lol
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>>5681348
>>5681349
>>5681316
>>5681303
>>5681299
>>5681270
>>5681267
>>5681259
>>5681229
>>5681204
>>5681130
>>5681093
You suppress the pang of <appetite> which this suggestion incites. There was indeed a time when you were somewhat enamoured with Jazkarmel, and would have gladly taken her up on such an offer… But something as always in the way, and it was never a priority. Even now, there is the uncertainty which comes with Oluwadamilare and Ekaterine’s discomfort—is it temporary, or will such a lascivious event forever change the dynamic of your friendship with the former, and your marriage to the latter? And what will the NOVICE make of all this, when she inevitably discovers it with those damnable Serpent priestess wiles of hers?

No, polygamy was ALREADY too complicated, without adding… THIS… to the mix.

“I, uh, must decline your gracious offer, Drow Princess,” you say, haltingly and a little overformal. “I have other plans, with my wives.”

You se Ekaterine’s shoulders slump in relief, and Olu, too, releases a held breath and a great dela of tension. Jazkarmel, for her part, merely lolls her head to the side in such a way that her silken hair covers one eye, and then blows it aside. She really is QUITE drunk, but her movements are still smooth, graceful, in that uncanny elven manner.

“Oh ho hooo,” she laughs. “I see. ‘Plans with the wives’, hm? It seems great minds think SOEMWHAT alike, Dragon King Theral.”

Ekaterine stiffens again and looks to you with an expression of grave concern.

“Have fun!” Jaz says.

You bow your head respectfully, and take you leave Jazkarmel does not beg or plead, simply waving playfully goodbye and turning her attentions—almost predatory—towards your Archer.

“Now where did we leave off, so many months ago?” the Drow asks the Degenerate as you depart, and Olu laughs with more nervousness than even when facing a beats of legend.

You envy and pity the male at the same time. With considerable effort, you push the mental image of the delicious and exhausting gymnastics which elven sex must entail rom your mind.

Eka is quiet as the two for you find your own assigned lodging for the evening—a rough tent of patchwork silk, held rigid by a tall and thin mushroom-stalk made dry and rigid and reinforced with chitin panels.

“Um, Theral, what Princess Jazkarmel said…” your Human Princess finally works up the courage to speak, a you near. “You don’t really mean for, for me and the, ah, and ‘Teharissa’ to… To do THAT, do you?”

“Do what?”
>>
>>5682101
The Novice Fleshweaver’s fine-clawed fingers part the tent, her elegant features merging and her long neck following. To your surprise, she has already abandoned her red-and-white cloak, mark of a novice member of her order, for a thin and rather sheer robe of spider-silk, which clings about her flat chest, swanlike neck, and hangs loosely about her wide hips and thick tail.

You and Ekaterine both stare, with Ekaterine’s face gradually warming and reddening as it did before.

“…WHAT?!” Demands the Fleshweaver, eventually.

“You look good,” you say simply.

“Y-you don’t really mean to—” begin Ekaterine, her voice tinged with panic.

“You two,” you command, “follow me. We will need privacy.”

The two of them follow you, exchanging a confused glance. Eka, unable to stifle her flushed embarrassment and mortified even more by direct eye-contact with her Reptilian counterpart, quickly looks away; the Novice, taking this for a show of deference, lifts her head high and cackles with the pleasure of the dominant. Ekaterine only squirms more are this, and shrinks down as if to make herself small beneath notice.

You have to admit to taking some small pleasure in this entire spectacle, but only inwardly. Aloud, you say:

“This placcce will do.”

“H-here?!” Ekaterine balks. “it’s just a… A cave! The floor is… I mean, it’s…”

You and the Novice Fleshweaver look down at her, and she quiets to a whisper.

“It’s dirty, and cold.”

“Free of dissstractionsss,” you say, “from the tasssk before usss.”

Ekaterine is red-in-the-face once more, but the Novice is simply irritated. She taps a foot, and her tail lashes.

“What tasssk is that, Needlesssssly Enigmatic One?” she demands.

You turn to the two females—your wife, and your childhood love, both Beloved Ones and integral to your life. You know Ekaterine needs special attention at this time—comfort, peace—but also that the Novice has felt sidelined and neglected, and fears Ekaterine’s growing influence over you. You cannot choose between them, and it would damn you in the eyes of one to show even the APPEARANCE of favoritism to other. It was another factor in your turning down of Jazkarmel’s… Proposal.

You are not Prince of LUST, after all, but of LOVE.
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>>5682103
“When the Red Dragonborn were lossst, sseparated from one another and from their Dragon Ssspirit, unable to cooperate and to sssee their sssimilaritiess and common caussse, it wasss meditation that bridged their divide and made them whole.”

It’s the Novice Fleshweaver’s turn to be mortified now.

“No,” she says. “Oh, you absolute… You FREAK. You WEIRDO. You can’t mean to make usss do THAT?!”

“What?” Ekaterine almost screams, clutching at her ragged-hemmed dress and wrapping her arms protectively around her torso. “Do what?!”

You meet first the Novice’s eyes, then Eka’s… And then you sit down, cross-legged.

“…W-what?” Ekaterine whispers.

“Come, “ you say, patting the stone before you. “Let usss meditate together, on what it meansss to be powerful, wissse, majessstic, and good—TRULY good.”

The Novice Fleshweaver lowers her face into her hands, and deflates like a punctured air-bladder.

“Let usss meditate,” you declare, “on our shared DRAGON SSSPIRIT!”

“I hate you,” the Novice hisses. “I abssolutely dessspisse you. Do you know thisss, Degenerateborn?"

“Ah… I…” Ekaterine mumbles, unintelligible, then plops down unceremoniously and hastily tucked her legs in, staring down at the stone below.

“…What did you THINK thisss idiot meant?” the Novice demands.

Ekaterine is silent and, eventually relenting to your will, the Novice seats herself as well.

In the end, you're not sure how much progress is made on the females' attainment of a Dragon Soul, but they DO seem a little closer, to you and each other. It's not exactly a night of uninhibited orgasms and moaned-and-whispered elven eroticism... but in some ways, in the ways that matter, it is more meaningful.
>>
>>5682105
You awaken the next day with a female on either side of you—a testament to the good work done last night, or perhaps just to how much both these creatures desire your warmth in this damp and drafty realm. The Novice clings possessively to your flank, tail draped over you, curling only to avoid direct contact with Ekaterine—herself curled up, still small, and fragile, but deliciously warm herself, against your chest and loins.

<Appetite> stirs again.

“Hmm… Long Wang…” Ekaterine murmurs in her sleep, and fidgets needily against your hemipenes.

And idea occurs, and you begin to shift into position, claws on her creamy and mammal-smooth thighs, when…

“Really?” the Novice asks, witheringly, in the True Speech. “I’m RIGHT here, you realize?”

You pause, and sighs, and relent. One step at a time, you suppose…

When at last the mammal among you has woken from her longer slumber, you and the Novice are already awake and enjoying breakfast—salted cave-fish meat and diluted mushroom-wine, rather bland but a sight better than the ever-more-scarce trail rations of days prior. Eka joins you, by now mostly cured of her earlier squeamishness among such dire sustenance.

“We should leave,” the Novice mutters.

“We should get proper clothing, first,” you counter.

“I am already well-attired,” the Novice counters. “Or… Well enough. I have robes-of-office in my quarters in the mountains.”

“Ekaterine has nothing of the sssort tehre,” yousay, switching to a tongue the Human princess can follow. “She isss a Dragon King’sss bride, and should be introduccced ass ssuch. Firsst impression are important.”

Eka seems flattered by this, though she mumbles something humble about not needing anything extravagant.

“And the locals clearly have a… Relative paucity of fabric, judging by their… Well yes.”

“Elvesss are jussst like that,” the Novice sniffs haughtily. “Shamelessss creaturesss.”

“You wore nothing but an Amulet of Disguise the firssst night we sslept in the sssame bed,” you point out.

“I wasss disssguissed asss an ELF!” the Novice protests.

“I will not return to Bloodrise in dirty rags,” you assert in the True Speech, settling the matter.
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>>5682119
“Whatever,” the Novice hisses. “I suppose the Drow have sssome ssartorial ssensse…”

“I… Think I only half-understand what’s happening,” Ekaterine admits. “Again.”

You nearly smile, before remembering how ape-folk normally react to you doing that in your true form. Instead, you simply ask:

“How would you like to go shopping, and exxxplore the local art and culture, Princccessss Ekaterine?”

What sort of attire do you plan to commission?
>Something human-like—modest in cut, fine in detail and pattern, and regal, conveying your victory over the humans by co-opting their cultural dress as you introduce their captured princess
>Something dark elven—leather, silk, spikes and straps, and plenty of skin; comfortable, flexible, freeing, good for transforming and for feats of athletics, as well as with a touch of sensuality
>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered
>Write-in
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>>5682121
This chapter was hilarious i must say qm.

>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered.
>>
>>5682177
[Glad you enjoyed! It was an amusing one to write. I rather enjoy the dynamic of these three.]

>>5682101
*great deal of tension
*when facing a beast of legend
*courage to speak, as you near
>>5682105
*hastily tucks her legs in
>>5682119
*pause, and sigh, and relent
>>
>>5682121
>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered.
Think its important we dress in good traditional return/victory regalia on our return home, may even be able to hitch a ride from a bug for a grand entrance
>>
>>5682190
+1
A triumphant return to form. Though let's not make thinks too hard and spiky. Wouldn't want to bruise the lovely ladies. Maybe the chitin can be sewed under a layer of leather padding.
>>
>>5682121
>>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered
>Somewhat incorporing fine details and pattern to assert our victory over the human
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>>5682121
>Something human-like—modest in cut, fine in detail and pattern, and regal, conveying your victory over the humans by co-opting their cultural dress as you introduce their captured princess
>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered
A combination of the two. A sign of our victory, a sign of our mixed heritage, a sign of the empire to come and something to appeal to both our human and our reptilian wife.

>>5682184
I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, QM.
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>>5682233
Supporting - I like the mix

It should communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance - but also her natural human femininity and noble bearing
>>
>>5682184
If youre on pc / tablet you can tick the box of the message and select “delete” button at the bottom of thr page

It will delete the update if youre quick enough
>>
>>5682233
+1 to this combination.
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>>5682121
>Something Reptilian—practical and martial, imposing and intimating, communicating the Master Race's draconian authority and dominance, and protecting you all to the utmost beneath what chitin and iron can be here mustered.

Eka needs all the protection she can get
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>>5682121
>>5682233 sounds good. A truly imperial set of clothes.
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>>5682331
[Alas, I was too late, and also someone had already voted.]

>>5682233
[Thanks for the kind words, anon.]

>>5682637
>>5682635
>>5682334
>>5682278
>>5682233
>>5682229
[Writing!]
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>>5682725
‘Shopping’ might be an overstatement, in the end. This is the scouting encampment of a race just as deprived as your own. It isn’t as if there is a bustling fashion scene present, and you do not have the time to travel all the way to Wevenore. Among the soldiers here, even JAZKARMEL us relatively simple in her materials and accoutrement, and she is the ranking officer and reigning noblewoman of the camp. Still, you muster what chitin and metal can be scrounged by the dark-skinned Drow. Your coins—hardly enough to add meaningfully to your hoard back home, but still valuable here—pay most of the way, and the tarnished weapons and armour taken from ‘liberated’ corpses in the rock-monsters’ grotto are useful sources of copper and iron.

“Make something for each of us three,” you instruct the dark elf artisans.

If you cannot treat your wives to a shopping spree, you can double down on the ‘arts and culture’ aspect of this excursion. The Novice is loudly bored and critical as ever—or pretends to be, even as she constantly finds excuses to interject her own design sensibilities into the manufacture of her new attire in proven Dark Elven—while Ekaterine is openly fascinated to watch the skilled feyfolk at work. These elves are a strange sort to her, and they lack the wealth of materials and formal academia of their surface-kin, but not even the most bigoted dwarf (or Reptilian) could deny the natural aptitude of the elven race for making fine things. If they are less skilful craftsmen than the dwarves, it is only because of the dominance of their aesthetic sense—the need to make things flowing, and graceful, or to experiment with style. You give them extra challenge-appreciated, you believe—as well.

“Make it… martial. Powerful. Imposing. Armoured!”

“Even for me?” Ekaterine asks, surprised and a little embarrassed when you nod.

“You will need all the protection you can get,” you say, and she pales a little; realizing your error, you squeeze her should in promised support.

“Do not bother with mine,” the Novice sniffs. “I don’t need ssuch sssilliness. I am a Sserpent Priesstessss.”

“You’ll protect yourself, you mean?” asks the Princess of Hawksong. “Or… Your status is such you fear none of your people will ever dare attack you?”

“No,” the Novice scoffs, and points to you. “I will enssure he isss between be and any threat. Either he’ll triumph, as he SOMEHOW alwayss sseems to, or he’ll ssslow them down long enough for me to essscape. It’sss hiss JOB, you know.”

“…Ah.”
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>>5682749
You suppose you should be annoyed, but when you filter our the Novice Fleshweaver’s natural tendency to insult and vitriol, it ACTUALLY sounds like a vote of confidence, and an admission that she relies upon you… Doubly appreciated given your near-failure to offer that very protection against the Goliath and its rock-monster minions on your way here. Having been captured and nearly killed, still she speaks of your aptitude as protector and defender. Honestly, you’re almost flattered!

“Thank you,” you whisper in the True Speech.

The Novice gives you a critical look, and huffs.

“Well, we have not died yet,” she replies. “And the Gods Below and Beyond know you have provided us ample opportunity to do so.”

This makes you think of Ivno—still half-preserved by the Novice’s dark magic, wrapped in rags in the layered, sunken tent where the Drow keep their trash to avoid attracting scavengers. Your brief melancholy for his loss is broken by Eka’s voice, though.

“Should we send for Oluwadamilare?” she asks. “We are all getting new clothes, but not him… It seems mean, doesn’t it?”

The Novice laughs, and answers: “He’s a ssservant! A Degenerate! He won’t exxpect anything, nor should he.”

You think back to the previous day, and reflect that—having not seen Olu since then—there is a good chance he is still inside the Drow Princess’ tent—possibly, in fact, still inside the Drow Princess.

“He will get something another day,” you say. “Let us not bother him just now.”

The Novice looks at you in confusion, but Ekaterine blushes slightly and nods, getting your meaning quickly.
>>
>>5682750
You describe the armour you once wore upon leaving Bloodrise—styled after the skeletal appearance of Death Himself, with a fear-inducing helm and an imposing chestplate and pauldrons. Of course, the more you describe it, the more you realize that no such attire would truly fit Ekaterine or the Novice, and as you concede to their anatomy and stylistic preferences, you ALSO realize how your own have shifted. As you have embraced certain aspects of your human heritage, and spent nearly two months disguised as Long Wang the human adventurer, you have come to enjoy aspects of their attire as well—most especially, the armour of the Paladin King, your so-called ‘father-in-law’ now and the only human being you have ever encountered with a <Fearsome Presence>. You decide to incorporate aspects of the Hawksong royal family’s style into your designs, as well.

Of course, between these very specific requirements and the fact that there is nothing partly-made in the camp which can even be modified to fit the likes of you and the Novice Fleshweaver thanks to your much greater stature, the three of you are ‘forced’ to wait in camp for several more days. In truth, it is welcome respite. Ekaterine grows ever more relaxed, even if you notice her sleep schedule remains erratic and she seems to be suffering physical and mentally for the constant darkness. You do your best to take care of her, even drafting the Novice into the effort with her tonics and potions. Repeated meditations help keep your minds fresh and clear; subsequent discussions of theology and morality, of Bloodrise and Wevenore, and of your future plans for how to justly and righteously rule it all bring the three of you closer more often than they splinter you apart, with your carefully-curated guidance.

You think you rather enjoy being at the centre of a three-way snuggle, even if any other sort of ‘three-way action’ still seems a rather distant prospect with these two. Sex, you reflect, is not everything there is to relationships.
>>
>>5682752
Eventually, the work is done, your armour completed. Each of you is first given a grey-white undershirt and breaches—over which each of you is fitted with some form of armour—though, in the Novice’s case, much light. There is armour, horned and crowned helms fit for true Lords and Ladies—maybe even a King and his Queens. Chitinous chestplates and pauldrons, moulded for musculature and adorned with beaten copper adorn your shoulders and shoulders, while banded mail protects your bellies—our own made with the bands spaced further apart, and your chest-armour looser-fit, to allow for <Dragonshape> transformations. Each of you is given ghoul-leather gloves, specially-treated to make them soft and died burgundy in mushroom-wine, and each of you given a cowl—like a Paladin knight, or a Serpent Priest.

“Ah!” Ekaterine gasps when she sees herself in a basin of wine-water, flinching at first and then staring in fascination. “I look like, like some sort of… Evil queen!”

“A Queen of Darknessss,” you assure her. “Beautiful and terrible to the wicked and decadent, but not evil.”

“B-beautiful…” she murmurs, running fingers over her armour and twirling a little.

“Pathetic,” the Novice scoffs at her behaviour, even as she cranes her neck and quirks her thigh to take in her own robes, cowl, and slim chest-piece with secreted vanity.

You regard yourself as well, not preening but silently appreciating the work of the elves—and yourself. This is YOUR design, after all! You brandish your khopesh, hold it aloft, and imagine directing a tidal-wave of warriors with such a gesture—to take this world and make it yours, ALL of yours!

It will be good to return home, and to survey your kingdom once more.

You send Olu the Archer for the deceased kobold’s mortal remains, and say your farewells. Olu and Jaz linger longer upon that last note than the rest of you, of course, and you allow it—you leave with two loves of your life, while he leaves his behind yet again…

Is there anything you wish to do before you depart?
>Take one more night in a tent with only your two wives—and attempt to seduce them
>Leave Oluwadamilare here as a… Liaison, of sorts… So he might stay with Jazkarmel for a longer stay
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does
>Send a message to your ambassador in Wevenore—the Elf-Specialist [what instructions will you convey?]
>Speak to Jaz about something else [what?]
>No, hurry back to Bloodrise—you’ve tarried long enough
>>
>>5682753
>No, hurry back to Bloodrise—you’ve tarried long enough
That kopesh is a state secret

We can ask Olu how he'd feel about permanent liasonhood after Bloodrise matters are settled.
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>>5682753
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does.

We don't want to rely on a magic blade when we don't know what it does.
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>>5682753
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does

We need to know what it does
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>>5682753
>Take one more night in a tent with only your two wives—and attempt to seduce them
Gotta work on their working relationship.
>Hey Jaz, I want you to take a look at my sword…. did I get a stain on my pants or something?
XD
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>>5682753
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does
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>>5682753
>>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does
>>
>>5682753
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does
Shouldn't take long
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>>5682753
>>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does
Only if it doesn't take too long. Otherwise it will keep, we have places to be.
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>>5682753
>Get your khopesh appraised by Jazkarmel—you’re curious what it does.
>>
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>>5682998
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>>5682755
You don’t want to waste much more time here. Well… maybe ‘waste’ is the wrong word. You’ve undoubtedly enjoyed the time spent here, as you always do, but Bloodrise calls out to you! Nor can you afford to leave the Archer here, not knowing what might await you on the home-front. Still, there is ONE more thing you must do… Which, you hope, will not take long.

“Princess Jazkarmel,” you say, “I require one more service of you, while I am here.”

The elven leader quirks an eyebrow, but nods. You follow her to have your aside and, once there, you ask of her:

“I would ask you to examine my sword.”

“I thought you turned that offer down already,” she jokes.

You tilt your head in confusion, but this only seems to make her laugh.

“The strange scimitar, you mean, right?”

“Yes… What else would I have meant?”

“Obviously,” she agrees, smiling even wider, and beckons you tod raw your blade.

You oblige her, and present it. Jazkarmel bends her head, scrutinizing it closely and running fingertips along it.

“May I?”

You nod, and she takes it in both hands, tracing the queer metal of the Reptilian-crafted weapon. Sized and weighted to be a one-handed blade for a Serpent Priest, it actually has a much more natural heft n your hand than even your long-beloved moon-blade. Still, it does not do to go into battle with a weapon you don’t fully understand. Hopefully Jazkamel’s magical acumen is enough to uncover the secrets of the khopesh.

It is no hurried process, of course—it takes over an hour—but it is well worth it.

“I sense an aura of… Finality,” she answers after a time. “Abjuration, necromancy…”

“Necromancy?” you ask, cringing at the thought of further offending The Lord of Endings with such abhorrent (to him) magic.

Jazk only laughs, and places her hand comfortingly on yours.

“Not that sort. It puts the bed back to bed, not wakes them. It is meant to banish, to dissolve enchantments and end their effects. This is what I sense.”

That… Sounds like a potent weapon indeed. An anti-magic blade, meant to destroy magical enchantments and their effects? A part of you is VERY glad you took pains to slay its former owner without facing him directly… What would such a weapon have down to you <Dragonshape>, or your <Aura of Radiance>, or any other powerful and transformative effect upon which you’ve come to rely? But in your hands…

“Thank you,” you say, genuinely, taking the weapon back and admiring it anew. “This is a great and terrible weapon. I will wield it well, in service of the New Age of Darkness.”

“I’m sure,” Jazkarmel says, bemused at your seriousness.
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>>5683479
Her amusement dips at little at the edge of her lips though, and her brow furrows, just a little.

“About my… When I was drunk. With Olu, ad your wife…”

Ah.

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” she apologizes. “Or… it was just a passing fancy.”

“Do not trouble yourself,” you reassure her. “I know it’s just your culture.”

There is a pause, and Jazkarmel laughs again, and shakes her head. Something about your response seems to amuse her further.

“You really are something else, Theral,” she says.

“I am one of a kind,” you boast.

“You really, really are,” she agrees. “Safe travels, Dragon King.”

It costs you nearly another half-day to appraise your weapon, but you simply walk faster to make up for it—as fast s your Human Princess can keep up, at least. She remains easily the slowest of you, with even less athletic ability or stamina than the Novice Fleshweaver. It is no matter: when your party stops to rest, it gives you time to practice with the Usurper’s Khopesh and thus familiarize yourself with the implement AND fulfill your duty of self-improvement to your patron deity.

It is only a few more days’ travel before you arrive in the familiar caverns below the Bloodrise Mountains. You can hardly hold back your excitement to see the place again after all this time, and to share its splendour and glory with your human bride—as well as to learn what ahs become of your lieutenants, your sons, your apprentice, and of course Glowie.

The first to detect your presence are not the expected kobold miners, though, but dwarves… And not dwarven slaves, either, by their bearing, but freedmen. ‘Duergar’, without slaves to mind, but instead just more workers. You are actually on-guard at first, suspecting invasion for a moment, for you recognize no face and see none of the fearful deference which you beat into them and cleaved from their over-proud spirits…

“He’s back!”

“The Dragon King has returned!”

…But no, they recognize you and rejoice at your return. Curious. These dwarves lead you up and out of the underdark, to the caverns of the mountains proper, until you find the well-worn and well-hewn caverns of the Blodorise Kobodls—by now expanded yet further, hewn into less naturalistic form than the den which the kobolds once occupied, in a style reflective of influences elven and dwarven.

Something feels… Strange.

What will you do first?
>Repatriate Ivno’s body to the Kobolds of Bloodrise
>Summon your council, and ask them what has happened here
>Speak with the people—these dwarves, the dark elves, and the kobolds if you can find any—to learn about these changes
>See Glowie—she will give you the most honest and forthright explanation, and you’d like to see your sons
>Show Eka to her new quarters, and familiarize her with this place—the rest can wait
>Write-in
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>>5683481
>Summon your council, and ask them what has happened here.

Our companion's can give us a direct briefing on the current military situation. Also we are going to have organize and set up the planed coup/war against the serpent priesthood.
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>>5683481
>Speak with the people—these dwarves, the dark elves, and the kobolds if you can find any—to learn about these changes
or
>See Glowie—she will give you the most honest and forthright explanation, and you’d like to see your sons
Ivno should be second on our list.

Shame that Jaz couldn’t come with us btw.
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>>5683481
>Repatriate Ivno’s body to the Kobolds of Bloodrise
sorry guys but he died as he lived
a meatshield for the more important characters
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>>5683481
>Speak with the people—these dwarves, the dark elves, and the kobolds if you can find any—to learn about these changes

But first, a grand (but short) speech to our people highlighting how our travels have helped the Kingdom
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>>5683481
>Repatriate Ivno’s body to the Kobolds of Bloodrise
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>>5683481
>>Repatriate Ivno’s body to the Kobolds of Bloodrise
>Speak with the people
We've kept him on ice long enough. Maybe make a speech of his bravery? Does he have next of kin?
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>>5683481
>Repatriate Ivno’s body to the Kobolds of Bloodrise

Our honored dead are a priority.
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>>5683535
>>5683527
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>>5683486
[Writing! May take a bit: gonna' try to repurpose an update I STARTED writing last night as part of the last one, before realizing I was approaching novel-tier and had missed a good stopping-point for a vote.]
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>>5684038
Your honoured dead come first—an Ivno has waited long enough. Before anything else, you will see that his commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice are given their due.

“Gather my people,” you command the dwarves. “Drow, Duergar, koboldss and thosse of the Master Racce. All shall hear thisss.”

The dwarven warriors snap to attention, which is reassuring at least amidst the strangeness of their appearance and demeanor. They hurry off, and you stride towards the open space where you once fought Agno for the heart of the Bloodrise kobold clan and tamed the basilisk—the place where judgements are meted out, victims sacrificed, and the Dark Gods and their servants find honour. It is a familiar place even ow, and you feel Something here—something like a homecoming in truth. You are Copper Dragon King, and this is your court.

At your kingly command—well, friendly request, really—the Novice Fleshweaver and Archer unfurl the corpse of Ivno the Kobold. His scute-studded flesh is pallid and sweaty, as a kobold never is in life, and greyer than once it was. His eyes are shriveled, body stiff, I spite of your Beloved One’s magic—but he still looks rather fresh for so many days of travel, and the places where bones were broken, legs askew, ribs cave and skull fractured, and skin blistered, bruised, and broken… All that is repaired to a degree of presentability. He looks… Peaceful.

He did not die peacefully.
>>
Rolled 5, 16, 12, 8, 19 = 60 (5d20)

>>5684049
Gradually, the myriad races of your multicultural Kingdom of Darkness gather. There are, indeed, more dwarves than you remember… Many of whom you are CERTAIN you are seeing for the first time. You feel on-guard for it. Your mind race—conquered slaves, so rapidly promoted to soldier status? Some are even armed-armed! In your presence! In the kobolds’ own lair! The other races—most especially the kobolds and those few members of the Master Race who you employ here—look rather uncomfortable about it as well… But none can argue with numbers, and all are currently far more focused upon you.

Many shout or cheer to see your return, with kobolds and dwarves bowing or falling in supplication, and Drow and goddess-touched ‘Drowgon’ singing brief songs of glorious return. Only some fall silent when they see the dead body of your kobold servant laid out before you—though among them, you make out Agno in particular, stricken with rigor mortis of the face, to match his one-time friend, ally, and fellow miner and raider. They were close, you recall. Is he maybe next-of-kin?

“I am back,” you state simply, to raucous cheers. “And I return victorioussss!”

As the celebrants quiet, you continue: “But victory hass come at a cossst. The lif eof thisss kobold, firssst of hiss kind to rise to me ssservicce… And to perish, protecting hisss king and thisss new world we are working to create!”

The dwarves and elves cheer at this, though the koblds are more muted. Suddenly, you worry about displeasure-even rebellion. Ivno’s appointment to your retinue served an important symbolic service: it showed the kobolds that there was a future in their loyalty to you—advancement, glory, respect, status in a greater whole. What will they think to see their race’s champion, dead at your feet?

Your eyes flit back to Agno, automatically, as barometer for the coming storm...
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>>5684050
>19
You needn’t have worried. To your amazement, Agno is not seething angrily, nor wailing in protest and outrage… But staring at Ivno with chin eye, eyes hard., , posture… proud.

He’s proud of his friend.

Agno lifts his eyes to you, then, and raises his fists high above his little head.

“Live for the Dragon!” he cries out in the curious local dialect of Reptilian True Speech. “Die for the Dragon!”

You blink, startled, but one by one…

“Live for the Dragon!”

“Die for the Dragon!”

“Kill for the Dragon!”

“Rise with the Dragon!”

…The kobolds cry out these declarations, lifting fists high. Your tail swishes automatically in uncertainty, but gradually you understand what is happening—this is some sort of… Ancestral chant, or ritual, passed down (albeit in some bastardized form, you’d imagine) from when these lesser Reptilians were slaves of the Red Dragon King and his fellows. They are submitting, fully and completely, taking Ivno’s death not as reason to mistrust you… But proof of his service, and this ceremony—your acknowledgement of this lowly member of a born slave race, as evidence that you are keeping their word.

“Yes!” your roar out, now in the True Speech, lifting both hands above your head and balling them in fists, to mirror your subjects. “He died as he lived—a hero! A champion of kobolds! He died in honour, will be laid to rest in honour… Will sink Below or ascend Beyond, and have his soul EMBARCED… In HONOUR! In GLORY! His name remembered—like Paeris the Bard, like Davora the Herbalist, as a heroic FOUNDER of the Coming Age!”

The dwarves and dark elves now seem lost, but the kobolds shriek and scream in jubilation, and some even jump up and down. Their enthusiasm is infectious. How much of this is the <Voice of the Metatron>, even now slightly colouring your speech? Regardless, it’s time to decide what to tell the REST of your people…
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>>5684063
You decided a year prior that your common-tongue here, among these disparate races, was to be the Northern Common-tongue. That means, to address the throng and tell them tales of your derring-do and your time away, you must speak a language which Princess Ekaterine can ALSO understand… As she stands here, next to you, surveying the crowd of strange-to-her, inhuman faces with confusion and awe. And in that crowd… There are also Reptilians loyal to the Serpent priesthood—even a Serpent Priest, in the Translator’s case!

What will you tell the people, and what will you hold back?
[Vote only for what elements you wish to include. Only those 50% or more of voters vote for will be included. Choose as many as you want. Backlink your 1post votes.]
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your alliance with a Greater Demon
>Your brainwashing and manipulation of key figures in Hawksong
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your later slaying of Prince Alexos
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Your elimination of The Appointed Successor and his entourage
>Your marriage to Ekaterine
>Ekaterine's pregnancy with a Demigod of Darkness
>Appoint Ekaterine officially Queen of Bloodrise
>Appoint the Novice Fleshweaver officially your Priestess-Queen
>Something else [what?]
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>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Your contact with the Drow homecamp, and their reassurances of aid in the next phase of this war- Bloodrise will not fight alone!
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>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Your elimination of The Appointed Successor and his entourage

We are going to have to fight the serpent priests, soon anyway. Best to make sure all our companion's know the game plan now rather than later.

And if the Translator's throws a fit we can toss him into the same prison we kept the dwarf geologist. And personally i dislike the translator, it was him and the cartographer who let hapo escape with the demonology and necromancy scrolls. And they ended getting off scot free for that blunder while death blamed us for hapo's escape.
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>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your marriage to Ekaterine
>Your contact with the Drow home camp, and their reassurances of aid in the next phase of this war- Bloodrise will not fight alone!
>Your defiance of the ultra-conservative Serpent Priests and their desire to hold our people back
>Your direct support amongst the lower castes of the Master Race, who cry out for true leadership
>Our direct communion with the Dark Gods and Red Dragon King and their blessing of our rulership

Cap it all off with us officially declaring ourselves as King of Bloodrise

>>5683500
Backlink
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>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your manipulation of key figures in Hawksong
yeah uh leave out the brainwashing
and the parts Eka wouldn't like that she doesn't already know about
just let them know we made sure Hawksong wouldn't be picking a fight with us anytime soon
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Appoint the Novice Fleshweaver officially your Priestess-Queen

The priesthood already knows we're pushing back, but that Successor dude seemed like a big deal and they'll probably come down hard if they knew we killed him. Best to maintain plausible deniability.
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
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>>5684117
Death was more cross that the tomes of necromantic knowledge weren't destroyed outright though the failure to protect them adequately was certainly a final straw on that front
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>>5684119
>>5684064
+1 this.
We need to declare ourselves king and get to taking hold of the whole Master race so that we can bring on our new age and break the cycle. We need a united front and strong leadership.
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>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your slaying of The Green Knight and his allies
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your marriage to Ekaterine
>Appoint Ekaterine officially Queen of Bloodrise
>Appoint the Novice Fleshweaver officially your Priestess-Queen
>>
>>5684064
>Your acts to protect Bloodrise from its enemies
>Your humiliation of Prince Alexos
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Your elimination of The Appointed Successor and his entourage
>Your marriage to Ekaterine
>Your defiance of the Serpent Priests
>Your elimination of The Appointed Successor and his entourage
>Your marriage to Ekaterine

>Something else

Handsome reward for fetching of the Shoggoth-sword
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>>5684117
>>5684075
[Writing!]
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>>5684824
“Thank you,” you say to the assembled kobolds, and then in the Northern Common-tongue and more loudly: “THANK YOU!”

The crowd takes your cue, and the kobolds obediently curb their enthusiasm, that you may continue.

“I told you that I returned in victory,” you begin, “but not the form that thisss victory took. The reassson I left you, ssubjectsss of Bloodrisse, wass to ssee to it that we would not fight a war on multiple frontsss… To ssee to it that our enemiesss would be ssslain, besssted, humiliated!”

You hesitate a little here, contemplating how much to say, and of whom. You glance towards Ekaterine, who is regarding you with a pensive expression, listening keenly, and you are well aware of how truly abhorrent some of the actions you have taken against her people—and her family in particular—will be to her compassionate and loving spirit.

You decide to start with what she already knows—and has, implicitly, accepted.

“I traveled to Hawksssong, sso-called ‘shining cccity on the hill’ of the humansss and their ssuporterss. There, they sssouht to move againssst usss—againsst the Reptilian Massster Race, and the koboldsss, againssst the Drow, againssst the dwarvesss who have come to sssee the light in Darknesss. They mustered championsss… ‘Adventurersss!’”

Hisses and groans of anger and woe come from the crowd, but you slam one of your fists down into your palm, and gesture as if scattering smithereen-shards of bone and viscera to the crowd.

“Dessstroyed!”

The subjects in attendance cheer, though Ekaterine squints and frowns slightly.

“I have kept you ssafe from the ssso-called Green Knight, enemy of all our kind—he isss no more, and hisss alliesss are ssslain or neutralized!”

This much is true… If somewhat vague, by deliberate effort. You aren’t eager to explain to anyone—Ekaterine least of all—how the Green Knight or Nenais the Elven Sage were ‘neutralized’, brought under the thrall of a twisted sex-demon. You aren’t sure what she makes of their compliance—what she assumes is the cause for it—or if she’s simply been to caught up in the whirlwind of your brief-but-eventful wedded life thus far to think about such things. They’re as good as slain, though, and their adventuring party’s other members are no more!

“The Paladin Princcce of that ccity, nexxxt in line to the throne… He hasss been humiliated, rendered IMPOTENT againssst usss!”
>>
>>5684889
Ekaterine’s expression darkens a little at that, face paling… But she looks away, rather than glaring. She was there when you bested her brother in combat the first time, and she recalls how you put him to public shame before his subjects and supplicants. She cannot contradict this telling. If she does not know the whole of it—his second humiliating defeat, and how you cooked him alive in his own armour with your fiery breath, then took his holy sword and offered it up as tribute to your Dark God—well, she needn’t. Her ignorance is, in this case, a mercy.

You take Eka’s hand in yours, then, gently, and force her to meet your eyes. She does so, and you try to convey assurance as you gently squeeze her much smaller, daintier digits in your mighty claws.

“The prize for thisss victory sstandss before you… No mere trophy, but a mate, and a wife! Princccesss Ekaterine of Hawksssong, Daughter of King Archosss… WIFE OF THERAL!”

A murmur begins at this—confusion from the Reptilian contingent, surprise from many of the dwarves and Drow, who perhaps had wondered at Ekaterine’s presence but never suspected her personal true nature or religious and political significance. Eka looks out at the seas of alien faces, stiff and faintly panicked at the muted and confounded reaction, and waves. Perhaps feeling this insufficient, she steps forward, and her diplomatic training takes over:

“I… Am pleased to be here, ah, people of Bloodrise,” she says, her voice carrying surprisingly well once she overcomes her initial nerves. “I am grateful to be your, your guest… And will do my best to abide your customs and honour your… Nation.”

There are scattered claps and hollers, but most just watch as she shuffles back in silence, uncertain what to make of the announcement. Ekaterine avoids looking at you, or anyone else, instead staring fixedly down at the small plateau of stone which you use as announcement-dais. The ambivalence is all the justification you need to withhold any declarations of queenliness—you do not want to complicate your message overmuch, or cause friction as others consider the implications of foreign, human monarch. For now, at least, it is enough that she is YOURS, and YOU are King here.

And King you shall remain, no matter what the Serpent Priesthood has to say about it!
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>>5684892

“My victory hasss not been over only the Racce of Man, though,” you say, as the remaining whispers and mutterings die to make way for your final declaration. “Bloodrisse, it isss a placce for all of usss… Of every race, all the forgotten children of deep and disssstant palccesss. We have made it sssuch, together. But there are thossse… Ultra-orthodoxxx and conssservative in the exxxtreme, who would take that away from usss, away from me and from all of you!”

The crowd’s attention is rapt, now. The few who dare mutter or whisper do so in alarm. The dwarves in particular regard you with deep and grave worry, having gained (and standing to lose the most—more than the kobolds who have already pledged allegiance to you personally and the Master Race’ more generally, and the Drow and Drowgons who can retreat to Wevenore if needs must.

“Dragonborn…” the Novice hisses in warning. “Be careful.”

You ignore your Beloved One’s warning—it isn’t the right of Ekaterine-veto, nor is that applicable, and you cannot bide your time any longer. The Serpent priesthood will hear of your arrival alone in this place—you are sure of that much. They will wonder what became of the Appointed Successor, and while you can spin a fable to excuse his absence and hide his execution, you cannot do so indefinitely with each and every would-be governor they send to supervise you. Something ahs to give. A choice must be made.

“It isss the SSSERPENT PRIESSSTSS!” you declare. “Among their eldessst and most intransssigent, there are elementsss who would ssee thisss gloriousss, growing kingdom reduccced to a puppet ssstate, a vassal sstate… A SSSLAVE SSSTATE, with all of usss enssslaved to it—to them!”

Among many, the announcement is met with still more confusion—what are ‘Serpent Priests’ to dwarves, even Duergar, with scant knowledge of your race’s caste system? To the dark elves in attendance, it is even less comprehensible—how many of them even fully understand the structure of the True Faith, beyond their direct experience of the gods and your speechifying?” The kobolds are perhaps most comprehending, and most shocked, but they have accepted you as Dragon King… They will not break now.

No, it is the Reptilians whose reaction you watch most carefully…

DC 14/16/18/20
>>
>>5684894
lets fucking GOOOOOO
>>
>>5684894
>>5684897
…And they are shaken. You can see it in their posture, their startled blinking and hunched shoulders, their craned-back necks and flaring nostrils, their whipping tails.

>4

“I understand that thisss comesss asss more dire newsss to ssome of you than to otehrsss. That you may feel conflicted. But remember…”

You raise your fist again, and raise yoru voice with it.

“-I- am the one who brought usss here. -I- ssslew and sscattered our enemiesss, and made uss ssafe in the light of sssun and moon! It was -me- who led usss out of exxxile in the deep darknessss! It isss -WE- who made Bloodrisse what it isss… And it isss -WE- who the people need to lead them!”

>10

You turn to the Novice Fleshweaver then, who is looking utterly terrified by this most recent turn towards open rebellion. Ignoring her whine of protest, you take her hand in yours now, and raise it high with your other one.

“Thossse of the Massser Racce who has sseen ssssensse will follow usss into the New Age of Darknesss! Sssteeltalonss, Sssilkssscalesss, Dragonblooded Onesss and Degenerate Oness… Even Sserpent Priessstss and Priesstesssess!”

“Is this your twisted notion of giving me and your new pet ape-woman equal footing?” the Novice snaps, tugging her hand away… but remaining beside you, nonetheless, and keeping her voice down for the sake of solidarity. It’s all you can really expect from her.

“Ssstand with usss,” you say, gazing levelly at the Bastard, the Pit-guard and Apprentice, Cartographer and Merchants, Thief and Hunter, Occultist and few others—the fewest in number of any race, spread between castes and clans, but the first and foremost members of your retinue. Your oldest companions, save for your Green Dragonborn brother and the Novice herself.

And then there’s the Translator—seniormost Serpent Priest of the expedition, a nobleborn and well-connected male of the upper-class, outranked only just BARELy by the Novice Fleshweaver and implicitly her better for his sex.

“Sstand with usss,” you repeat, “or ssstand in our way, and be buried by hissstory with the foolsss I felled to make usss sssafe and ssstrong.”

>11

There is a hush for a moment—brief, but it seems to last forever—and then it begins.
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>>5684926
>18

“Live for the Dragon King!” bellows the Bastard in the True Speech, lifting a looted dwarven axe high.

“Die for the Dragon King!” agrees the Pit-guard’s Apprentice, after only a moment’s hesitation, and then his senior joins him.

“Kill for the Dragon King!” the Hunter enthuses.

“Rise with the Dragon King!” the Thief declares, lifting a fist high.

One by one, your retinue join the cry. Next shout the Merchants, with golden greed gleaming in their slit-pupiled eyes. The Cartographer is easily cowed, the Occultist surprisingly gleeful. The Hunter’s minions are quick to follow their leader into your service—YOUR service now, not the proxy-service of your shared Serpent Priest masters.

Sensing the tide—perhaps fearful, perhaps respectful, perhaps simply bound by the <Voice of the Metatron> and dazzled by the <Radiant Aura> which you unconsciously project with your swelling confidence, eventually the Translator joins the chant as well—not enthusiastically, not with the same devotion, but with submission in his heart. He sees you, and recognizes you, as King of Bloodrise, undisputed.

“LIVE!”

“DIE!”

“KILL!”

“RISE!”

>20
>Uncontested kingship
>BONUS: Increased loyalty, unity, and productivity

The ceremony ends—as all ceremonies must, even the most triumphant. You take a long, deep series of meditative breaths, stilling your hammering heart. You feel something move around you, through you—history? Destiny? It’s more than simple anxiety, you’re sure of it. Things are in motion—the entire world turning on a new axis in an entirely unknown and novel direction, and that axis…

Is you.

It’s terrifying and invigorating at once. Your empathic abilities absorb the excitement which you return an announcement has evoked—the sudden change in mood, the pivot of minds to the shared and utopian future you have promised. People return to work and to war, and to whatever they were doing before, but they do so with a new purpose and a renewed, redoubled vigor.

You feel it, also.

The first matter of business is to discover what has become of Blood rise in your absence—why all the dwarves, and what is the status of the war? Where lie the edges of your kingdom’s borders, and how well-defended are they?

Who will you interrogate about this?
>Agno the Kobold
>The Bastard
>The Pit-guard
>Glowie
>The Translator
>Karz Throat-singer
>Someone else
>>
>>5684927
>Karz Throat-singer

OOC, sounds like there's a serious need for a come to Dark-Jesus moment.
>>
>>5684927
>Kars Throat-Singer
Lets go to Karz office and wait in the shadows for him, pop out all intimidating like, give him a compliment for his progress and give him a boon or two for his victories in our name, but we gotta make sure he knows whose in charge
>>5682190
Backlink
>>
>>5684927
>Karz Throat-singer

That was an awesome homecoming

Through blood and sweat we have built our dark kingdom up from nothing
>>
>>5684927
>>Karz Throat-singer

Karz knows the dwarfs best, so we should ask him. Also according to the newspaper's he was a main leader in the most recent campaigns.
>>
>>5684927
>The Bastard
>The Pit-guard
Did we not leave them in charge?
>>
>>5684971
You did, and yet...
>>
>>5684927
>The Bastard
>The Pit-guard
>>
>>5684971
Forgot this…we should probably meet them first

Changing my vote here >>5684968 to
>The Bastard
>The Pit-guard
>>
>>5684927
>Glowie
>Thief
Neutral parties who’s loyalty to us is beyond doubt and who would have an abundance of information.
>>
>>5684927
>>Karz Throat-singer
and
>The Pit-guard
>>
Will post today, but maybe late. Been an awful week, and it got capped by family drama of hilarious magnitude. Gonna' take a few hours and wait for this hangover to wear off.
>>
>>5685477
Feel better, RQM!
>>
>>5685486
[Thanks, anon.]

>>5685425
>>5685128
>>5685056
>>5684997
>>5684971
>>5684969
>>5684968
>>5684961
>>5684948
[Locked and writing soon! Very interesting combo...]
>>
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>>5685609
You had placed the Bastard and Pit-guard as your topmost officials in your absence, and tasked them with overseeing the war-effort against the dwarven corporations in the Bloodrise mountain range. It seems prudent to interview them n the matter of the war, and of the strange developments you have glimpsed in our time back. And yet… The rumour-mill in Hawksong, and the intelligence briefings you made yourself privy to, indicated that it was a beardless DWARF leading the ‘sinister and evil forces in the mountains’. That can only mean Karz—your throat-singing mage-apprentice, and personal servant. In the end, seeing as the questions you have are virtually all related to dwarvenkind, you summon both the Throat-singer AND Pit-guard, both being overseers of dwarven labour and integration who might be able to explain what has happened to your kingdom.

“Victory. Victory, and prosperity.”

The first familiar voice to speak up on the mater is high-pitched for a dwarf, but no longer quite so soft-spoken as it once was.

“Throat-sssinger,” you acknowledge your dwarven servant, “you have changed.”

He stands tall-well, short, but if you look past his genetic shortcomings, he no longer slouches or scurries. Rather, he strides, chin high, back straight, eyes gleaming. He wears light armour and black leathers. You almost have to do a double-take to see this new, confident Karz as the dwarven songster who you took on as mystical pupil, that his harmonies might invigorate your own magic.

“A LOT has changed,” he agrees.
>>
>>5685647
The Pit-guard is agitated—you can tell even without Reptilian Empathy, by the way he fidgets when you look his way, and glowers at the back of Karz’s head with a sour expression.

The three of you are in your private chamber for this little tête-à-tête à-tête. Along your way here, you settled in your Princess Bride, and took in the scope of these societal changes. Bloodrise has seen a glut of population—to your eye, Bloodrise has swollen to almost double its previous foot traffic, and nearly all the increase is dwarven! Many regarded you with open curiosity, even wariness… But few if any scowled or glared, or cowered and cried out.

“We should furnish refreshmentsss,” you suggest, to try to put the old Steeltalon at ease—though your realize, belatedly, that this is a foreign notion which you picked up among the human nobility.

“Allow me,” the Throat-singer is quick to jump upon this request, with a snap of his gloved fingers.

At his beckoning, the first sign of enslaved dwarves appear. They are pathetic things, bow-backed and shuffling, quiet and dead-eyed… And beardless. All beardless, despite evidently being male. They are overseen by a rather gruff, properly-bearded member of the species, hard-eyed and black-clad as the Throat-singer who summoned him. Karz watches him work the slaves admiringly, as he kicks and cajoles them into distributing stolen stone goblets to each of you, and filling them with fresh and volcanically-sparkling spring-water.

“Careful, maggots! This is the quarters of the Dragon King, and if you spill a single bloody drop, your blood’ll be spilling next!”

You watch the spectacle curiously, though you can just imagine how Ekaterine might tense up at the cruel hierarchy of it, were she to bear such witness.

“Prisoners of war” Karz explains, and smiles grimly. “And there are no shortage of those, believe me. What a war it was!”

“...Wass?” you ask. “It isss over, then?”

“Yes,” the Pit-guards rumbles at last. “For now, at least.”

Over a meal of slave-prepared food and spring-water—all dwarven food, of course, and surprisingly nutritious and fresh, as if made from the contents of a well-stocked surfacer larder—the Throat-singer and Pit-guard (MOSTLY the Throat-singer) tell you the tale…
>>
>>5685649
>98 (Karz’s group)

Karz, in your extended absence, rose to become a figure of some prominence among the Duergar—in fact, perhaps one of the most prominent figures in all of Bloodrise, despite being technically a mere slave for all intents and purposes. As YOUR slave—and your apprentice—he was afforded more consideration and privilege, and he leveraged this into power, and influence. With that influence, he began a campaign of propaganda and destruction: offering amnesty to dwarven workers who turned on their masters and surrendered, while promising annihilation or humiliation and eternal servitude to those who resisted. With the aid of his growing army of Duergar kinfolk—

“And the wyrmlings,” he adds.

—he was as good as his word. Taking the liberty of defying the more conservative commands of the Pit-guard (who was left formally in-charge of all dwarves in your mountain), he led a partisan force which included your OWN sons (with their mother’s blessing, at least) into battle to take the last and greatest stronghold of his race in this mountainous realm…

And he succeeded, spectacularly.

>92 (the Bastard)

The Bastard—half-Dragonblood and half-Steeltalon, whom you had been coaching in the art of meditation and of thus cultivating Dragon Spirit, was reticent to stage such a bold attack. It risked exposure of your race, and your empire! When Karz’s song rose, though, the kobolds’ captive basilisk, and your own fire-lizards, and all the Drow-bred insects and spiders, and even all the native reptiles and bugs of the hills and mountains came to the Throatsinger. The Bastsard saw the movement of the world around him, and called his kobolds to join him… And then he, too, joined the fray.

(You'll have to offer him a commendation later. Perhaps you should have called him in here as well...)
>>
>>5685650

>56 (the Pit-guard)
The Pit-guard refused the call, decrying those who got swept up in the excitement. Many of his dwarves began to forsake and desert him, though—not to fight against your burgeoning empire, but for it!

“I promised them freedom, even his personal servants and slaves,” Karz explains.

“You undermined me, you wretched little mole-man!” the Pit-guard snaps. “You insubordinate and scheming wretch of a mammal!”

“You did not have any sssuch authority” you note, more calmly. “The Pit-guard and Bastard were left in-charge.”

“I have the authority I can take!” Your apprentice retorts, altogether too boldly. “You taught me that, Master.”

Hm.

“Then I’ll be taking it back—with THIS!” the Pit-guard roars, and begins to heft his magical maul.

“Wait,” you command, and signal him to settle down—which, though reluctantly, the older male does.

“Continue,” you order Karz. “Without ssuch provocationsss.”

“As you wish, Master,” he says, though without a bow of deference or any apology.

…Hmm.

Regardless, the dwarves came, and they began to overcome the opposition. The dwarves of the enemy forces massed and unified, retreating and regrouping until survivors of every corporation in the mountains were fighting side-by-side…

“Which is when the wyrmlings arrived.”

>55 (Hamaraska’s)

Your secret sons by the Greatworm Queen Glowie were apparently rather spectacular… if disorganized. Glowie herself was not a part of the battle, and while Hamaraska the Centipede Lancer was able to help direct them, there were more than she could handle.

“If only the Queen of Worms had given me the damn tune to sing her sprog into submitting properly…” the Throat-singer gripes.

“Are they alright?” you ask, keeping the anxiety you feel from your voice.

The dwarf shrugs, then nods.

“A lot of them did their own thing—killing who they shouldn’t—friendly dwarves—or capturing a few dwarves and then fucking-off—sorry, departing, you know, to who-knows-where.”

“But none are…?”

“No, I rounded them all up by campaign’s end.”

“The Lancer did,” the Pit-guard sullenly corrects him. “It was the most useful contribution that blasted elf made—keeping the damned bugs from getting lost or eating our forces for field-rations. After the battle, she and the bugbears found where they’d scurried off to and brought them back to base. They are with the worm-queen now, I think."
>>
>>5685651
“They served their purpose, though,” the Throat-singer points out. “Between her—him? The Lancer, whatever—and the Bugbear Boss on his big bat, we terrorized the enemies from above, below, the sides… Not to any huge strategic effect, but the morale damage was what we wanted.”

The Throat-singer grins an evil grin, as clasps one hand in a raised fist of salute.

“Total, unconditional surrender of the last holdouts, and the capture and enslavement of every remaining stubborn dwarf who dared defy the order to disarm and submit by their own coworkers!”

The Pit-guard turns away, but nods. This is, you thus deduce, a largely uncontroversial conclusion even among Karz’s naysayers. The war is over. The dwarves are beaten—well and TRULY beaten. You have come back not to lead a military march, but to find a victory parade.

Bloodrise—the mountains, at least—are indisputably yours. They are yours thanks to your loyal followers, and the subjects who followed them… And, it seems, most especially thanks to this arrogant little whelp of a dwarf before you, who defied your orders and his assigned Reptilian masters who YOU assigned to supervise him, and who even led their slaves and servants to disobey their Steeltalon master.

No wonder the Pit-guard seems ashamed and angry at how it all played out. Karz made a fool of him, and humiliated him by taking his authority and his workers and putting them to better use than he even dreamed of.

What will you do in regards to Karz?
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want
>Admonish Karz, and punish his impudence (how?)

What of the Pit-guard?
>Praise his diligence and loyalty, and offer his a reward
>Admonish the Pit-guard for his rigid thinking and pettiness, and punish him (how?)

Do you have anything else to ask them?
>You’d like a more in-depth understanding of the current population demographics of your realm
>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like
>You would like to assemble your full council to debrief everyone more fully, and to celebrate your victory as a collective
>You would have their opinion on Ekaterine, and the possibility of making her (or the Novice) a queen here
>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it
>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?
>No, they are dismissed

[Write-ins allowed, of course, and discussion encouraged]
[Rolls were from >>5680065]
>>
>>5685652
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want, within reason
He should be rewarded - but giving an open-ended question is dangerous

>Praise his diligence and loyalty, and offer him a reward
He will lead the vanguard of our forces upon our return to liberate the forward base

>You’d like a more in-depth understanding of the current population demographics of your realm
>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like
>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?

Then
>You would like to assemble your full council to debrief everyone more fully, and to celebrate your victory as a collective
>>
>>5685652
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want
poggers job bro

>Admonish the Pit-guard for his rigid thinking and pettiness
just admonishing is enough, he should be more flexible when it comes to changing situations

>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like

>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it

>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?
>>
>>5685652
>>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want

Ambition, Self development and finding ways to overcome great odd's are some of the core values that the serpent ascendant preaches. He did well, maybe we should see if we can teach him a version of the Voice of the Metatron.

>Praise his diligence and loyalty.

The pit guard's previous lot in life was simply to oversee the mating pit's and prevent lizards in heat from doing unauthorized breeding. He has never been trained to think craftily, so punishing him for it would be remise. But so would rewarding him for robotically following orders.
>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like

>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it.
>>
>>5685652
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want
No promises of actually giving him anything he wants, but he should definitely be rewarded.
>Praise his diligence and loyalty, and offer his a reward
He tried his best. We knew he wasn't ideal for the job.

>You’d like a more in-depth understanding of the current population demographics of your realm
>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like
>You would have their opinion on Ekaterine, and the possibility of making her (AND the Novice) a queen here
Both will be Queens, but let's hear what they have to say
>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it
>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?
>>
>>5685652
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want

Champion tier. In our absence, he took the initiative and secured a victory. He should understand, though- he is accountable for both victory AND defeat in situations like this.

>Praise his diligence and loyalty, and offer him a reward

Tried to do what he could to make things work in the way he knew how. We'll give personal lessons to remediate, which will involve cultivation of Dragon Spirit as a reward.


>You’d like a more in-depth understanding of the current population demographics of your realm
>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like
>You would like to assemble your full council to debrief everyone more fully, and to celebrate your victory as a collective
>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it
>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?
>What is the logistical situation with feeding thousands of new mouths? Will you need to move immediately on the more fertile land outside of the mountains, or is there enough stockpiled food to keep for the winter?
>>
>>5685652
>Praise Karz’s efforts, and ask what reward he might want
>Praise his diligence and loyalty, and offer his a reward


>>You’d like a more in-depth understanding of the current population demographics of your realm
>>You want to know how the humans below have responded, and what relations with them are like
>>You would like to assemble your full council to debrief everyone more fully, and to celebrate your victory as a collective
>>You would have their opinion on Ekaterine, and the possibility of making her (AND the Novice) a queen here
>>You wish to discuss the recent change of policy towards the Serpent priesthood, and get their feedback on it
>>What is the deal with these beardless slaves? Can they explain this new change in policy towards the captives?
>>
>>5685868
>>5685752
>>5685686
>>5685674
>>5685665
>>5685664
[Writing!]
>>
>>5686228
Before you render a verdict upon the performance of your two subordinates, you have a few more pressing questions which demand address.

“What isss the demographic sssituation?” you ask. “I ssee many hairy new facesss…”

The Pit-guard laughs, though karz frowns slightly. You remember, belatedly, his sensitivity about his beardelssness, and add:

“No offenccce intended, Throat-ssinger. A beard doesss not make the man. After all, I cannot grow one either, at least without aid of an amulet.”

Karz blinks blankly, and asks: “Did you just… Tell a joke, Master?”

“I often do,” you note, a touch defensively.

You quickly understand the reason for his confusion and surprise: your sense of humour has long been reserved for those whom you are truly comfortable with, like the Novice, and is more often you sort of mean-spirited sniping and backhanded compliment which characterizes the ‘humour’ of the Master Race. Spending so much time around sensitive humans—especially meticulously polite Ekaterine—must have rubbed off on you in this way, also. Hm.

“The population of this… Kingdom… has swollen, Superior One,” the Pit-guard answers your question. “From roughly five hundred to over one-thousand two-hundred.

You feel your eyes widen automatically at this, and draw in a quiet hiss of breath at the number. The population has more than DOUBLED? And that means…

“Yes,” Karz acknowledges with poorly-hidden smugness. “Mostly dwarves. Duergar, I should say—they’re mostly LOYAL dwarves! Ones who joined us willingly… Or, well, who preferred service to death, and did what they were told to subjugate the rest.”

“Many mouthsss to feed,” you note grimly, remembering the cullings of past winters—when you and your Reptilian fellows took the old, insubordinate, and weak among the dwarven slave population out into the blizzard to kill them, that you might stretch your limited supplies.

“Yeah,” Karz agrees quickly. “Yes, you’re right, Master. But remember: we didn’t JUST acquire new Duergar and slaves—we ALSO took their strongholds!”

He gestures expansively to the feast which you, he, and the Pit-guard just indulged in with one another.

“Can it lasssst?” you ask, pointedly. “We do not yet have meansss to farm more than a ssscant few msuhroomss here in the mountainsss… We have little livessstock. We cannot support a population like thisss with forage, at thiss eleveation, and Wevenore isss not replete enough with food to trade it away.”

Karz hesitates a little at this question, so the pit-guard steps in, blandly and colly stating the harsh reality:
>>
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>>5686262
“No. It cannot last, Superior One. We must cut down our numbers or find a way to restock our supplies within he next few months. Trade and barter, further raiding or expansion down into the valleys against the humans, or something else…”

“We will find a way,” the Throat-singer insists, confidence verging on madness in his eyes. “We are the champions of this world!”

“Yesss,” you agree, though with a bit more measured enthusiasm.

“We could cull the slaves,” the Pit-guard suggests. “That will carve away two hundred useless eaters. These Beardless Ones are not even good labour, not… After what was done to them. We have enough ‘voluntary’ dwarven workers now.”

That is another subject that had been on your mind: these cowering wretches with their shaven faces and shame-reddened eyes, unlike even the slaves you had lorded over before in this place.

“Ah, the rebels,” Karz Throat-singer says, with a tight-lipped smile. “Those who refused to accept the New World Order, who tried to stage uprisings or breakaway factions even after their settlements were captured and integrated. I took a page from humans, with that one—these big, proud, bearded bastards who fancied themselves soldiers. Shaved them clean… Above and below.”

“Wait,” you ask, “what?”

The Duergar bard grins widely at that, a darkness in his eyes, and gestures with two finegrs in a scissor-like motion: ‘snipping’ the air.

“No beards,” he explains, “and no balls.”

You remember Olu the Archer telling you of this practice, among the humans of the Southland, primarily reserved for harem-guardians. Something similar happens in the deep caverns where the Serpent Priests dwell and hold court, with their Degenerates. You remember the Appointed Successor’s empty expressions and stunted souls.

“No work ethic anymore, either,” the Pit-guard. “Broken beyond usefulness as anything except simple domestic servants. Muscle growth is limited, energy is limited… Terrible for mining, or fighting. They’re useless.”

“They AREN’T useless,” Karz insists. “Theya re an EXAMPLE. They are a WARNING. They remind the others what awaits them if they rise against us—against YOU, Master! They are NECESSARY.”

You wonder how much of this ‘necessity’ might mask a sadistic revenge fantasy for the effete young outsider turned dictator… But you simply move on for now. One more thing to consider.
>>
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>>5686263
“Now, about these humansss, in the valleysss below…”

Below Bloodrise are three baronies—Redwell, Blackpine, and Sunset Lake. Redwell is centred on a well-garrisoned settlement around a mine and above a series of underground springs. Blackpine is a loosely-scattered settlement of farmers, homesteaders, and hunters, with a baron who is (you understand from your time in Hawksong, and conversation with Eka) a knight and huntsman of some renown. Sunset Lake is a populous trading-hub (well, by the standards of this underpopulated region) and famed for its beautiful vistas and good fishing in its titular lake.

“They are weak, disorganized, and poorly defended,” the Pit-Guard notes. We could easily beat them, slaughter and steal. But to hold them… Well, maybe if we lowered the populations substantially.”

“We could do it,” asserts the Throat-singer. “We could rule this whole land.”

“It wasss one thing to attack the outposstsss of distant dwarven corporationsss,” you remind them, “but these sssettlementsss are part of the Paxxx Ferrum.”

The Pax Ferrum—also sometimes called more euphemistically the Pax Argentum. Eka and her brainwashed brother Rufos explained it to you. The Paladin Kings of Hawksong long ago established this so-called Steel (or Silver) Peace, enforced by armoured knights and silver-flashing swords. Its backbone is a guarantee of Paladin defence for any human or demihuman settlement under his aegis. The dwarves’ settlements were arguably outside of it, but these baronies are indisputably under the protection of your father-in-law and brother-in-law back in Hawksong. One is sickly (maybe even dead by now? One can dream…) and the other is a thrall to your demonic ‘aunt’, Irinnile. You could essentially forbid Hawksong to intervene… But that would break the Pax very openly, in spectacular fashion. It would no doubt shatter the Northlands asunder… if it did not simply result in an immediate coup by those blasted Paladins. It is a move you should consider carefully before undertaking. A population of 1200 is no match for the tens of thousands which the Pax could muster…

You turn from this to other subjects for a time, while you consider your options-from one troubling future foe to another.

“You have heard my edict of idnependenccce, yess?” you ask. “The Ssserpent Priesssthood… They hold no ssway here, anymore.”

(Well, except your beloved Sseztlussth, your Novice, and her oath-enforced right to veto… But she doesn’t count. She’s barely even an initiate to their political machinations, and she’s loyal to YOU over even her own sire.)

“Thoughtsss?” you ask, encouragingly.
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>>5686265
“Long overdue, by what I’ve heard of them,” the Throat-singers says perfunctorily. “Never liked that damned Translator, even. Snooty.”

The Pit-guard doesn’t immediately respond, body language stiff, eyes narrowed in concentration.

“Pit-guard?” you address him directly.

“I… Have been alive many decades, Superior One. Always I have served the Priesthood, and the Grand Design. I was bred and born within it, to serve it, as many generations before me… As we all were. The Priesthood MADE us. They shaped our race, kept us safe…”

You tilt your head, listening without judgement… For now.

“I… Do not know how I feel. But I know this: as their servant, I was a Pit-guard, as you so call me… I helped control breeding. I mostly spent the last twenty years keeping little shits like you from getting one another pregnant every rut and estrus!”

You chuckle at this uncharacteristic defiance, even as the Pit-guard rattles at the irony of it as well. It’s true—as a Young One, you came to know this male in your many frequent altercations when <appetite> overwhelmed duty and good judgement and eld you to try to infiltrate the breeding pits to sample the sweetness of heat-slickened cloacas. It is a testament to the old Steeltalon’s strength, skill, and dedication that you did not breed until Glowie ‘persuaded’ you in this very mountain range!

“Do you prefer your current lot in life?” you ask him.

The Pit-guard nods, without hesitation.

“This is better. I… I may not be suited to it, I admit… But I serve you, Dragon King. I will continue to serve you, if you will allow it. The Serpent Priests kept us safe… but it is under you that we grow. The world is changing above and below us, and I wish to be part of that change.”

You clap a hand on the Pit-guard’s broad shoulder, shocking and startling him with the familiarity.

“You will have that which you wish,” you tell him in the True Speech. “You will be rewarded for your diligence, your loyalty, and your efforts. When next I and the bastard meditate together to cultivate a Dragon Soul, you will join us.”

“B-but I am not Dragonblooded!” he protests weakly. “I cannot—”

“Blood is not important.”
>>
>>5686267
The Pit-guard, long tasked with ensuring the purity of each caste and clan’s bloodline to within a very specific standard of genetic hygiene, stares at you in shock and awe. You understand the sea-change this must be to him, so you explain, switching back to Northern Common-tongue and gesturing to the Throat-singer.

“Thisss one isss a sslave, or wass… A beardlessss dwarf, looked down upon by hisss own kind and regarded as inherently inferior by our own Massster Racce… And yet look what he hasss accomplished!’

Karz looks at you with mixed emotions as you begin to speak, but his expression warms and turns grateful and proud as you continue.

“He isss a worthy apprenticcce… A champion of hisss kind, of ANY raccce… And he hasss brought us great and gloriousss victory! Hisss blood, hisss facce, hisss voicccee… None of thisss matters because, and I do NOT sssay thisss lightly, Karz the Throat-ssssinger posssessesss a DRAGON SSSOUL!”

The Throat-singer, in spite of his swollen ego, cannot help but bow his head and bend his knee beneath such vociferous flattery by his master and sovereign.

“Th-thank you,” you hear the dwarf murmur, and though his head is lowered to hide it, you can hear him sniffle slightly. He is… Crying?

“Composse yoursself,” you command him. “You have earned thissss. Not JUSSST thisss, either.”

Karz wipes his face and nose upon his sleeve, and looks up at you.

“Do not become too greedy,” you warn him, “but you have earned a reward. Assssk, Throat-sssinger. Consssider thiss carefully-do not ask it now. I will asssemble the councccil—meet me in the greatessst chamber of the warrensss. Tell the otherssss.”

The two salute you and, taking your meaning, depart. You take a deep breath and stroke your chin-spikes thoughtfully. They’ve given you much to consider. So, so much.

What will you do next, as your council assembls?
>Meditate, and consult the Red Dragon King within, or the Dark Gods Below and Beyond (specify if you have someone in mind)
>Go see Glowie and your sons—you have missed them, and wish to know how their first experience of war has affected them
>Consult with Ekaterine or the Novice about how you should move forward with your new society
>Get some sleep while you can—you will need to be well-rested for what comes next, and travel has been difficult (specify if you take a bed-mate, and who)
>Go for a walk—or a flight—around the mountains of your new kingdom, to appreciate its full expanse
>Write-in
[One choice, please. I was happy to write this huge fuckoff update given how much important info there was to cover, but that was a LOT of plot points to exposit on. I’m wiped!]
>>
>>5686268
>Go see Glowie and your sons—you have missed them, and wish to know how their first experience of war has affected them
Gotta make sure we bond with the little ones.
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>>5686268
>Go see Glowie and your sons—you have missed them, and wish to know how their first experience of war has affected them
>>
>>5686268
>Go see Glowie and your sons—you have missed them, and wish to know how their first experience of war has affected them

We do have to satisfy the Beholder, but family first.
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>>5686268
>Go see Glowie and your sons—you have missed them, and wish to know how their first experience of war has affected them

ask about killcounts
>>
>>5686271
>>5686276
>>5686289
>>5686315
For all that you have caught up with your retinue, there is one faction—key to your burgeoning kingdom, and near and dear to your heart—that you have not yet visited. It is time to meet with your first mate and your first clutch of sons: Glowie the Great-Worm Queen and her Wyrm Warriors.

You find them—and Hamaraska the centipede Lancer, and Honemdyn the Centipede—all in Glowie’s preferred cavern. It is a ways away from the most heavily-trafficked areas of the kobolds’ ever-expanding and ever-more-cosmopolitan warrens, closer to the tomb where the Red Dragon King’s doomed sons and daughters met their premature end. It was from their bodies that you drew forth the blood that empowered your <Dragonshape>, and made great and terrible monsters of Glowie’s first clutch of eggs. It seems appropriate that they now nest near that source of power, even if you are somewhat sad to see them detached from the broader community of Bloodrise.

“Theral!” the Lancer greets you as you approach, standing and smiling.

You nod in turn, momentarily thrown by the lack of honorific. No ‘King’ or ‘Dragonborn’ or ‘Superior One’ or ‘Master’. Hm. Still, this androgynous elven insect-warden knew you as friend before ever you were sovereign. Even now… Well, has the lancer or Duelist ever actually pledged ALLEGIANCE to you, exactly, or just come here in a show of companionship? Huh, funny that you never really considered this…

“Lancer,” you greet them in Dark Elventongue. “I hear congratulations are in order! You are a veteran of glorious battle, yes?”

Hamaraska looks embarrassed, nervously stroking their many-legged companion, and shrugs.

“I didn’t do much except keep the wyrmlings on-task…”

The elf’s eyes drift past Glowie’s warrior-brood, who have noticed you and now jockey to come see you, and to bundles of silk and glowing mucous upon the walls.

“Mostly of task,” the Lancer amends.

You squint, and make out shapes within—the silhouette of dead and bundled dwarves, food for later. Lower down, on the ground, several more such cocoons are split open, and dark brownish-red seeps through the blue-green glow of the cottony casings.

Hm. Maybe best that your first family live a little further from prey-sized sapients, at least for now.
>>
>>5686494
Still, you are happy enough to see them, and they you. They hum and chirrup, almost overwhelming you with their mass and the force of their cuddling—they are even bigger and stronger than when you left, albeit not by the same magnitudes as when they first moulted from hairy little caterpillars into their current array of faintly-draconic forms. Their bug-song remains unintelligible gibberish to you, but each of your sons frantically signs in the Drow’s wordless hand-speech at you, to welcome you and tell you of what has transpired while you’ve been gone. You pat them, and laugh, and do your best to sign back, until finally you must command them to stand back and give you some space.

“I hear you are all warriors now—truly warriors, having fought and killed!” you proclaim, and your sons hiss, roar, squeak and chirp in a song of victory. “How many did you each kill?”

You are reminded that these wyrmling sons of yours are less than a year old as they each struggle to puzzle out a number—any number. You’re… Not actually sure most of them know how to count, or are cognizant enough to keep track. Well, except ‘Unknownable’ and spooky young Natvodosk, who signs ‘ten’.

“Good work,” you commend them.

“Glowie,” you greet their mother, who hangs back with hands clasped together before her ‘bosom’—rather, a pronounced bulge in her thorax, almost a mockery of mammalian chest-swellings, like the false eyespots upon a moth’s wings.

She hums happily, and through vibrations physical and psychic, you hear her rely: “My king! You have come back to me~”

You dismiss the Lancer and their Centipede, that you might converse freely with your family—your secret family, for there are still few who know how the Wyrmlings truly came by their reptilian biology.

“I am returned,” you confirm, and then add (for perhaps you HAVE grown a little softer and more tender), “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she replies demurely, and bows her head.

You and your sons travel as one swarm towards the great and swollen Queen of Insects, and you bow your head in turn and reach out a hand. Chirping with delight and practically swooning at your display of courtly chivalry, Glowie takes your hand in hers and intertwined her armoured, spider fingers with your talons. She curls up her lengthy tail—broader, translucent, pulsating inside with eggs unlayed. You stare at it for a while and then, with only some trepidation, seat yourself upon it.

Around her, you spy crawling, caterpillar-like grubs. Glowworms? She has began to produce distinct non-Reptilian progeny as well, it seems... Are these also your spawn, then? 'Daughters'? They wiggle and wobble, occasionally looking your way, but most seem to pay you little heed. Indeed, they all seem to have tasks to attend to, though you can't say exactly what these mysterious duties might be...
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>>5686496
Glowie delights in your warmth and wight, and hums louder than ever, a song of love and community, and your sons gather around and join in.

What will you speak with them about?
>Their future here in Bloodrise—you’d like to find a way for them to fit in better with your officially-independent kingdom, or at least avoid conflict between her hive and your Kingdom
>Your evolving understanding of mating and marriage, and your new human bride—it’s time to decide whether you will officially take claim of Glowie as one of your mates and a potential ‘Queen of Bloodrise’, and her wyrmlings as your sons
>The coming conflict with the Serpent Priesthood—her mother lives closer to them, and the greatworms have long formed a sort of supply chain relaying messages and supplies between the forward bases of the Master Race and Bloodrise, and now this paradigm is shifting and so must the Greatworms’ role
>Attempt to better understand the nature of this growing hive, and the Greatworm race, including the role of these grub-worms
>Write-in

[Choose as many topics as you’d like, but you’ll note that I left all these subjects open-ended. Consider this a somewhat experimental vote—All these subjects WILL be discussed and addressed, but I will take as the voters’ default position whatever write-in ‘solution’ to each subject has the most votes.

ie., do you want the hive to be part of Blood rise, or a separate vassal state nearby? Something else? If you have an opinion on the first matter, state it! Likewise, do you actually LOVE Glowie? Do you NOT? Do you want to admit paternity, or keep the secret? Should Glowie continue to relay misinformation to the northern forward base and ferry supplies back, or send word for her mother to move here and break the supply chain, or will you sue her network to openly declare war on the Priesthood now and inflict damage from afar? Lots of options, and I want to hear what you folks have planned!]
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>>5686499
>Their future here in Bloodrise—you’d like to find a way for them to fit in better with your officially-independent kingdom, or at least avoid conflict between her hive and your Kingdom

Our sons should be revealed as "blessed sons" of the Mother of Dragons, venerated as the Drowgons are but more greatly. Glowie will be what she is- an envoy of MoD, holding a position of religious authority. Her hive will have plenty of clout in the new Dark Empire and can co-exist within it as a respected theological enclave, though boundaries include not eating other citizenry and asking before undertaking major endeavors- warring upon others, etc.


>Your evolving understanding of mating and marriage, and your new human bride—it’s time to decide whether you will officially take claim of Glowie as one of your mates and a potential ‘Queen of Bloodrise’, and her wyrmlings as your sons

I abstain on this one. Can see the benefits of both stances and I'm not sure how Theral would feel.


>The coming conflict with the Serpent Priesthood—her mother lives closer to them, and the greatworms have long formed a sort of supply chain relaying messages and supplies between the forward bases of the Master Race and Bloodrise, and now this paradigm is shifting and so must the Greatworms’ role

We can begin to arrange convoys of Reptillian defectors through the safer passages underground meeting them halfway with a welcoming party. The message-grubs can also continue to ferry supplies. We should hold off on a strike at the forward base until we can marshal a killing blow.


>Attempt to better understand the nature of this growing hive, and the Greatworm race, including the role of these grub-worms

How can we help Glowie? How can she help us? Does she understand our intent with marshaling together all these races under a single banner and is she willing to be a part of it in a more cerebral, ideological sense beyond supporting her King?

What is the relationship between Glowie and her mother? Can they co-exist at all??


Word vomit supreme, but you asked so here we are.
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>>5686553
>word vomit
[Not at all, anon. This is the kind of wide-ranging and thoughtful answers I was hoping to encourage. I don't want to make bold assumptions about how you all envision Glowie's role in the future, but I also didn't necessarily want to draw out the conversation about these matters over a span of six or seven votes.]
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>>5686499
>>The coming conflict with the Serpent Priesthood—her mother lives closer to them, and the greatworms have long formed a sort of supply chain relaying messages and supplies between the forward bases of the Master Race and Bloodrise, and now this paradigm is shifting and so must the Greatworms’ role

This is our most important job, preparing to bring down the serpent has to be our main priority right now. Since we announced independence, and the Serpent priests in their overwhelming arrogance are certain to try to strike our kingdom. If we don't prepare to strike first.
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>>5686499
>Their future here in Bloodrise—you’d like to find a way for them to fit in better with your officially-independent kingdom, or at least avoid conflict between her hive and your Kingdom
I'd rather not have her in a position of religious authority, but she and her hive should be respected and ideally not secluded like they have been. No eating our other citizens too!
>Your evolving understanding of mating and marriage, and your new human bride—it’s time to decide whether you will officially take claim of Glowie as one of your mates and a potential ‘Queen of Bloodrise’, and her wyrmlings as your sons
Yes. She was our first, if not the last, and she has a special place in our heart, as do our sons with her
>The coming conflict with the Serpent Priesthood—her mother lives closer to them, and the greatworms have long formed a sort of supply chain relaying messages and supplies between the forward bases of the Master Race and Bloodrise, and now this paradigm is shifting and so must the Greatworms’ role
We need information first. Anything that these little spies can tell us.
>Attempt to better understand the nature of this growing hive, and the Greatworm race, including the role of these grub-worms
No opinion here, just have her tell us more about everything, including herself and her dreams for the future.
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>>5686499
>>Their future here in Bloodrise—you’d like to find a way for them to fit in better with your officially-independent kingdom, or at least avoid conflict between her hive and your Kingdom

Recognize the sons as >>5686553 said.

>Your evolving understanding of mating and marriage, and your new human bride—it’s time to decide whether you will officially take claim of Glowie as one of your mates and a potential ‘Queen of Bloodrise’, and her wyrmlings as your sons
Voting against having Glowie as a queen or mate. Still friend, still get together-time, nothing more.
Also, our oath prevents us from nepotism.

>The coming conflict with the Serpent Priesthood—her mother lives closer to them, and the greatworms have long formed a sort of supply chain relaying messages and supplies between the forward bases of the Master Race and Bloodrise, and now this paradigm is shifting and so must the Greatworms’ role
Ask her about the network status (the OOC we know about pawn war and disruption). I also like the convoy idea

>Attempt to better understand the nature of this growing hive, and the Greatworm race, including the role of these grub-worms
Try to make them fit better than all-consuming tyrannids.
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>>5686553
Supporting this - but probably not with Glowie as a religious envoy… more as a symbol of the MoD’s power. Something to be seen and respected, rather than asked for input.
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>>5686499
>Your evolving understanding of mating and marriage, and your new human bride—it’s time to decide whether you will officially take claim of Glowie as one of your mates and a potential ‘Queen of Bloodrise’, and her wyrmlings as your sons

fuck it
we fucked the bug, lets goooooo
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>>5687109
>>5686754
>>5686720
>>5686603
>>5686581
>>5686553
[Locked, writing!]
>>
Rolled 2, 5, 20, 7, 12, 15 = 61 (6d20)

>>5687249
It occurs to you that, even after making her your mate—humming with her, holding her hand, fighting alongside her, guiding her to this place and inviting her to stay, rearing your shared young and entrusting her with the Novice and with the Lancer—you do not really KNOW Glowie. Oh, you know what she wanted from you. You know she loves you (even if the way in which insectoid entities might understand and interpret love might be somewhat alien), but what does Glowie actually UNDERSTAND of your project here in Bloodrise? When you talk of the great and wondrous Age of Darkness ahead… What does she picture? Does she even GET what you’re doing here?

“Glowie,” you hazard, “we have declared independence from the Serpent Priests. I have, I mean. On our behalf.”

Glowie hums happily, and squeezes your ahnd.

“King of Kingzzz,” she buzzes. “Azz I zhall be Queen of Queenzz.”

You regard her cautiously.

“What of your mother?”

Glowie humms thoughtfully, and after a while answers: “A rival hive muzzt be abzorbed or deztroyed, zilly~! If you have broken from your hive, you underzztand! All muzzt be ONE.”

…Well, that gives you some insight, you suppose.

“And when you think of Bloodrise,” you ask, “do you think of it—of all of us here—as your hive?”

Glowie stroeks yoru hand reassuringly, and with her four multifaceted eyes she gazes into yours.

“You will be zzpared, and all you love.”

…And THERE is the rest of the insight. Your tail lashes before you catch it, an unconscious response to building anxiety. Glowie, ever the doting lover, catches this and bends her abdomen down, to bring her thorax and head closer to you, cupping your face daintily with her fine grasping appendages.

“Oh no! My king izz upzzet?”

“No, no,” you lie. “Just… There are aspects of our shared future as… Husband and wife—”

“Huzzzband~!” Glowie buzzes happily, trailing off into a series and trills and chirps and wiggling in ecstasy. “Wife!~ Ah, You have made me zzo happy!”

“—that we must clarify,” you finish.

Glowie looks at your curiously, and clasps her hands together, listening carefully and dutifully—the very vision of an obedient, dutiful, and submissive spouse, in spite of being a massive invertebrate broodmare. You realize that though it is difficult for you to feel ATTRACTION to the thing she has become—if ever you even could when she was a worm ‘princess’, without her Amulet of Disguise hiding her mandibles and compound eyes behind the Novice’s distorted features—you DO love this female. She is your first mate. Her sons are your sons. You cannot HELP but love them. Now you just need to help them understand what love really MEANS< beyond the romantic and familial.
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>>5687292
>>5687292
“I love ALL of Bloodrise,” you explain, turning now to your sons as well, hoping all of them might understand. “Every subject of this kingdom, as their Dragon King, is a part of my community. I love my people. I love my kingdom. You must NOT eat the subjects of Bloodrise.”

Glowie’s humming quiets and stops, as she considers this.

“Forever, or juzzt until the New Age?” she asks, hopefully.

“Forever,” you state, firmly.

She and your sons hiss and whistle in disappointment.

‘These ones were bad,’ signs Nat.

‘Mostly,’ adds Gohja, provoking aa snap and hiss from his enigmatic (and apparently deceitful) sibling.

“If they were enemies, it is fine,” you assure them. “But if they are loyal subjects of Bloodrise, you CANNOT eat them. The subjects ARE your hive.”

Glowie hums—not a happy hum, but an uncertain, even agitated one.

“My zonzz and daughterzz are my hive,” she corrects you. “Everything elze iz—”

“—Another hive, which must submit and bow to you,” you pre-empt whatever she was about to say, for you think you understand how to get through to her now. “And you are my wife, so when they submit to me… To our sons… They submit to you.”

>20
>Greatworm Hive: Integrated

Glowie hums again, a thoughtful tone, gradually turning more joyful as she digests the suggestion.

“Yezz,” she agrees. “I like thizz. They will zerve… Workrz, dronez, emergenzy rationzz. Yezz~! My huzband iz zo zzmart!~”

She nuzzles her spiked dome against your own forehead, gently rubbing her chitinous horns against your own and vibrating softly—like a purr—against your throat. You reach out, hesitating only momentarily, and hug her. She squeals in delight, and all four of her grasping limbs close around you in a loving embrace. Soon, your wyrmling sons join, nearly suffocating you in affection.
>>
>>5687303
With this matter settled, you move onto to more strategic discussion Glowie explains that—per her biological and theological directives—she has been waging a sort of… Well, the word she uses is ‘daughter-war’, but you feel that is only a rough translation. Essentially, her caterpillar-like ‘daughters’ and those of her mother—scarcely more than oversized glowworms, apparently without anything like the intelligence of she or the sons you sired—have been both communicating with her mother’s AND, when possible, devouring and replacing them, in a contest of hive dominance. It is a rather unpleasant thing to consider—family consuming family—but Glowie assures you that none of these grub-like creatures contain any of your genetic contribution or Dragon Spirit.

“It’zz all perfectly natural,” she says comfortingly.

“Hm,” you reply, noncommittal. “But if you asked… Would your mother help us?”

You explain your intent—to help communicate messages of freedom, liberation, and the promise of Bloodrise and the New Age of Darkness to those still under the yoke of the Old Ways, and to lead those who would follow your New World order into the glory of your kingdom. Your own forces can meet them half-way—perhaps with Jazkarmel’s camp and intermediate destination?—but you cannot simply leave the Master race to toil, seethe, and suffer in darkness, and to succumb to that spiritual rot which almost devoured your own Dragon Spirit and your capacity to love.

“Yezz!~” Glowie answers you, clapping her hands together. “Mother hazz been bothering me about juzzt eating all you lizzardz anyway, zinzze I already got your zeed!”

“…I see,” you say, levelly, making a mental note of that.

“Do not worry,” Glowie reassures you. “We can kill her if zhe izz too difficult.”

“…Good to know.”

The scheduled time for your council-meeting fast approaches. You have discussed what you want—YOUR vision—but one last thing remains.

“Glowie,” you ask her earnestly, “what can I do to make you happy? I will tell the council of our relationship, and that the wyrmlings are Princes of Bloodrise… But what can I do for you, after all you have done for me? You saved my life, you bore me sons, and now this…”

Glowie place a finger upon your lips, shushing you. She looks at you, face plated in hard armour, eyes unreadable, and yet you feel it--<True Love>.

“You have already given me everything I ever wanted,” she tells you. “I love you… My Theral.”

Your sons chirp and hum in agreeance, and you hum with them, caught up in the enthusiasm. It’s a strange scene, to be sure, even for one such as you who straddles so many worlds and has forsaken so much tradition… But in that moment, it feels good.
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>>5687310
You arrive at the council meeting shortly thereafter, delayed just slightly to enjoy the warm embrace of your arthropod ‘wife’ and children. There is no fear of being late—it is YOUR meeting. It cannot begin without you. Still, you are the last to arrive. The rest are all there: the Bastard, the Thief; The Pit-guard, his Apprentice; the North Merchant and South Merchant; the Cartographer; the Occultist, the Hunter; Karz Throat-singer (and, huh, some blonde-bearded dwarf you don’t remember seeing before); the Kobold Elders, and Agno; The Wevenore Ambassador and the Bugbear Boss (quite the odd couple, side by side despite their obvious antipathy); the Novice Fleshweaver, or whatever title she shall come to bear under your reign.

Much will be discussed, and decided, this day, from ideological priorities to practical concerns, to matters of succession. Now that you are a real kingdom—soon without any outside support to speak of, for you KNOW the Serpent Priesthood will not remain ignorant of your defiance much longer and WILL retaliate—you must consider every eventuality, and plan carefully and shrewdly.

And so, you begin.

Is Ekaterine present?
>Yes
>No

Is Glowie?
>Yes
>No

Will Bloodrise have a Queen?
>No—a king is enough
>Yes, one [specify whom]
>Yes, two [specify whom]
>Yes, three [all mates are given royal status]

[More votes forthcoming, but let's set the stage first and foremost.]
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>>5687320
>Yes
>Yes
>Yes, three

We have enough Love for all three, and each represent an aspect of our Dark Empire. They make good political symbols in addition to each being competent in their own fields.
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>>5687320
>>5687344
This
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>>5687320
>Yes
>yes
>3

no eka pls we didn't fuck the bug like that we made her wear a paper bag eka that made it ok eka cmon you don't understand eka our balls were so blue you would not believe it anyone would have done the same
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>>5687484
I laughed
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>>5687320
>>Yes
>Yes

It's important for them to hear the pollical direction of the kingdom.

>No—a king is enough
But making them official queens seems unnecessary and pointless right now. I don't see the point in it until we take the north base.

And there is other important things we could be doing instead of giving them "royal status" when we haven't even forced the members of our own tribe to recognize our kingship.
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>>5687320
>No—a king is enough

I’d rather we get them to become friends first before potentially throwing fuel on that fire- I don’t our wives to devolve into familial infighting.
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>>5687344
>>5687371
>>5687484
>>5687506
>>5687826
[Locked and writing!]
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>>5688150
“Everyone isss here,” you note, as the last few stragglers file in.

Olu bows his head in apology, but the Duelist just smirks and shrugs with a wink. She looks around for her 'opposite number' from among Wevenore's best, the Centipede Lancer, but she will not find them. Not right now. They're... Busy.

“Good. We have much to consssider, and to disscusss, for the future of our Bloodrise Kingdom, and the Coming Age!”

There is a chorus of assent, some more enthusiastic than others. The Bastard, you note, is among the more muted—unfortunate, and surprising. He is far from defiant, of course, but you sense his simmering irritation. Perhaps he feels slighted, that of the three great generals of the recent dwarf-war, only he was excludes from your meeting? Well, you will resolve that soon enough. First, though…

“We are a kingdom in truth now,” you continue. “NONE can deny uss! But I will not rule alone—for sso great and diverssse an emprie ass we are forging, we need more than a sssingle ssovereign, however great. We will have the input of two new memberss of this counccil… Membersss of the Royal Family!”

This sets off another round of whispered discussions. You pay them no heed—you have considered it well, and made your decision. You will not be deterred.

“Bloodrise will have itsss Dragon King… And itss Dragon King shall have THREE Queenss!”

“Three?” asks Eka’ eyebrows ascending her forehead in surprise and startlement; after all, she only just learned of the Novice, and does not yet know of who the third might even be.

“…Three?” asks the Novice, her own eyes narrowing. “You cannot mean—”

You were not so mad as to bring your entire brood with you—not so young, impulsive, and predatory as the wyrmlings are. You left the Lancer—beleaguered, exhausted, but still willing to oblige you—to keep them from killing each other or anyone else. This convenient babysitter in turn freed up your first mate—and newest ‘wife’—to attend. She now crawls through the doorway to the chamber, her forwards section easily entering but the great girth of huge bulbous body and eggsack behind it a trickier proposition that requires some manoeuvring.

Your council watch this with trepidatious silence. The Novice Fleshweaver, lowers her head into her hands and hisses quietly in consternation; Ekaterine cups her own mouth with her hands in a quiet gasp, regarding Glowie with open (if silent) horror.

Not… Not the BEST start, no.
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>>5688179
“Princessss Ekaterine of Hawkssong, Daughter of Paladin King Archosss” you announce, “and The Chaplain’ss Daughter, Noviccce of the Order of Fleshweaversss, whom you all know. These two BOTH shall be Queensss of Bloodrise—one Reptilian, one mammalian.”

You clear your throat, and gesture to Glowie expansively.

“And the Greatworm Queen—who you alssso all know well the value and majesssty of, and who is in truth the very CREATION of the Mother of Dragonsss herself!—she, too, shall be my Queen… And yoursss…”

You regard the retinue, looking for signs of defection or defiance, as you finally state it plainly:

“…Jussst asss her ssonsss are my ssonsss… Her wyrmlingsss Wyrm PRINCESSS of The Bloodrise, carrying my blood in their veinsss.”

You can see the shock (and poorly-hidden disgust, in most cases) upon the faces of those you have here assembled… But none speak against you. Yours in the <Voice of the Metatron>. Yours is the most <Fearsome Presence> in Bloodrise. Your will is law here. Your will is DESTINY. None here dare defy you, or question you.

“…Wang?”

…Well, save one or two.

You look to Ekaterine, who covers her mouth again, and corrects herself: “I mean, Theral. King Theral…”

She looks to Glowie again, and then back to you, brow creased.

“What… What is this…?”

“Thisss iss Glowie,” you explain, lowering your voice from your regal volume and softening it somewhat from its authoritative octave. “She isss… Alsso a wife.”

“THIS,” Ekaterine asks, voice sharp and almost panicked before she calms it, “this, ah, this woman is your WIFE?”

“Well,” you pause. “’Wife’ isss not really a term appropriate to… Reptilains do not usse it, exxxactly, let alone… That isss…”

“We are in love,” Glowie hums happily, sootching her throax closer to you and leaning gently against you. “And he gave me hizz preziouzz zeed~”

Ekaterine’s face has, you suspect, never BEEN more crimson. You cannot quite make out if the reason is humiliation or rage.

“It’s complicated,” you hasten to add. “She wasn’t quite… Like this… And there were other considers beyond—"

“It izz a pleazzure to meet you, zzizzter.”

Ekaterine and you both turn to Glowie, and regard her outstretched hand-equivalent. Ekaterine, in spite of all her outrage, terror, and clear revulsion at the bug-woman, is simply too polite to refuse such a diplomatic overture; she accepts, though she pulls her hand back rather quickly. She thereafter falls silent which you take for—or HOPE is—a good sign.
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>>5688181
The uncomfortable silence threatens to swallow up the room, broken only by the Novice’s particular and mostly-unintelligible mutterings—schemes and curses alike, you think you can just make out. You decide it wise to move swiftly on to other business.

“Our reccent war ahsss been a ssstunning sssucccesss,” you remind everyone, hoping to eiven proceedings. “We have crushed our enemiesss, driven them before usss, and heard the almentationsss of their weak and weary!”

It works, leading to a chorus of cheers and fist-pumps. To one side, though, you notice Ekaterine’s expression only darken further. The other two Queens of Bloodrise seem happy enough with this, though: the Novice coolly confident, Glowie humming happily and clapping her four hands as she wiggles almost imperceptibly.

“Thiss isss not the end,” you caution them. “we facce challengesss of integration, of autonomy. We have obligationsss to our alliess to keep, and new mouthsss to feed. We are ssurrounded by enemiesss, new and old, ssome who we onccce counted asss—if not friendsss—masstersss and alliess.”

The tone turns serious and contemplative as all assembled consider the istuation, and awaiting your proposed solution. That can wait, though.

“Firssst, though,” you say, “let usss apprecciate what we have accomplished. The Pit-guard already hass hisss boon—he will be made privy to the ssecret meditationsss which aroussse the DRAGON SSPIRIT, and thusss made veer more great!”

The others all look toward him, as the old Steeltalon kneels and bows his head in appreciative supplication.

“Bassstard!”

The title stirs everyone present (and you note Ekaterine’s special confusion, lacking familiarity with certain culturual particulars). It most especially alarms its target, who stands bolt upright and salutes.

“Your performancccce, exxxceptional and sskillful and vital to the war, hass not gone unnoticed, either,” you assure him.

He bows low, murmuring thanks.

“You may have your boon of me,” you tell him. What will it be?”

“I… Dare not assk anything of you, Sssuperi—Dragon King,” he explains. “You have given thiss Inferior One more than I ever expected. It isss enough to sserve, and to lead.”

“Well I have considered mine.”
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>>5688182
All heads now turn to the Throat-singer, who steps forward with swagger from beside his fellow dwarf. Many hiss, snarl, and scoff at his cocky demeanour and presumptuous interruption. You regard him impassively, but nod for him to continue.

“You said to think carefully about what I wanted, and I did,” Karz announces—to you, to everyone present. “No one here can deny it, however much they want to, that this war was fought first and foremost by me and by my Duergar.”

‘His’ Duergar, you note.

“I made the plans, I led the forces, I recruited the soldiers and turned them into the fighting force we needed. And yet… Dwarves are still the lowest rung of this hierarchy, aren’t we? We’re the only ones without a fort to call our own. We’re the only ones working as slaves, getting forced into the worst situations, never given any station or power except what we can take. Isn’t that right?”

“Asss it should be,” the Translator mutters, and you hear a few others agree with snide sniggers from among the Master Race. “Warm-blodoed ssurface-sscum upsstart.”

“You are old enemies. Stone-old, ancestor-old!” Agno snaps at him, and the Kobold Eleders nod sagely at his words.

“Forget all that,” the Throat-singer says, waving his hand with dramatic flourish, and looking to you. “Bloodrise is something new. Blood doesn’t matter here—not bloodlines, or blood spilled before we all became a part of… Of THIS, right?”

You nod slowly, but narrow your eyes.

“What do you want, then, Throat-sssinger?” you ask him. “Ssspeak.”
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>>5688184
“I want power,” he says bluntly. “I’m your Apprentice. Let me be your second-in-command… Your Dark General. I’ve done more than this lot combined—and I’ll KEEP doing more than them. Let me lead them all.”

To say that there are misgivings among the crowd would be putting it mildly.

“You IMPUDENT Godssforssaken SSLAVE!” the Bastard roars. “Get on your knees and beg for forgivenessss… The forgivenessss of a quick death! Dragon King, you cannot—”

You take a deep breath, and let the <Radiant Aura> swell as you spread your wings. All fall quiet, lower their weapons, and turn to you to hear your decision.

What will you say to this?
>Karz has earned it—he will be your Dark General, with authority second only to you and your Queens
>Karz can have his precious power and authority—but only over dwarves, not the other races, and with a keep to call their own
>Karz is, you have to admit, the most Draconic of this entire bunch in attitude and ambition—and you respect it, enough to appoint him your heir apparent and adopt him as a Prince of Bloodrise
>Karz is an upstart, and needs to learn some humility—he will have nothing, and be grateful that he isn’t punished after this outburst
>Write-in

And what of the Bastard? What boon do you have in mind for him?
>He will be given a position such as Karz has requested as well—Dark general, a leader of men and reptiles and everything else
>He will be made leader of the kobolds who already follow him, but formally, and given a keep to rule as a lesser regent
>He will be given one of your sacred weapons or items [which one?] and a noble title
>Something else
>Write-in
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>>5688185
>Write-in: Karz say's he want's and deserves more power. Then he has to prove it, not to us but to our guide the serpent ascendant. Offer to teach him the voice of Metatron and Knight ascendants codes. And if the serpent ascendant is willing to raise him up and accept him as an anti-paladin, then name karz regent and chancellor of bloodrise.

It was Death, the beholder, the mother of dragons and finally the serpent ascendant who blessed and encouraged our conquest's of the dwarven corporation holds.

If someone wants to gain influence and power in bloodrise. they should have to prove themselves to one of the four like we did.

Also we should try to build the serpent ascendant an order of anti-paldins. Just like how moroth has his paladin order in hawksong.

>He will be made leader of the kobolds who already follow him, but formally, and given a keep to rule as a lesser regent

The bastard seems more capable of managing the kobolds then even we are. Delegating kobold authority to him, when he has already proven to guide them skillfully in war seems to be a no brainer.
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>>5688185
>Karz can have his precious power and authority—but only over dwarves, not the other races, and with a keep to call their own

that's a big ask for knocking over some small dwarven corps
it's earned him partway there, he'll need a bit more for full authority

>He will be given one of your sacred weapons or items [which one?] and a noble title
Now that we have the kopesh we can give him the moonblade
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>>5688185
>Karz can have his precious power and authority—but for now, only over dwarves, not the other races, and with a keep to call their own

Echoing the "good job, but earn it more" sentiment from >>5688224 this anon.

>He will be made leader of the kobolds who already follow him, but formally, and given a keep to rule as a lesser regent

I do worry about factionalism.
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>>5688185
>Karz has earned it—he will be your Dark General, with authority second only to you and your Queens
>He will be given a position such as Karz has requested as well—Dark general, a leader of men and reptiles and everything else
If we let Karz rule the dwarves and the Bastard rule the Kobolds we're creating problems down the line. Factionalism will be an issue, as anon said. They will essentially be vassal kings of different races, conflict between them is inevitable. It's better to elevate them both, and more than these two later on if we find more worthy, to be Generals of the whole, united kingdom and its races.
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>>5688217
+1
Power and responsibility go hand in hand.
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>>5688217
Supportin'
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>>5688233
Support, teaching the ambitious dwarf trying to usurp us our special unique ability is just autisticly stupid, so I support anything but that.
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>>5688233
Supporting

He’s done a good job - but a general of our forces will need to show that they command continued respect outside of only 1 race.

We Defs don’t want to teach him the Voice or anything unique to us

>Factionalism
Anon, all dictators rule via factionalism.

If our rivals are too busy worrying about each other, they cannot target us
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>>5688217
+1

A strong king needs strong general's, and the people worrying about karz usurping us are overblowing things. If anything becoming a fellow knight ascendant would bind karz to us far more than just giving him an independent keep to oversee. And if we get started on founding the serpent an order of anti-paladins he is sure to reward us even further.

>>5681923>>5681305
Past post's.
>>
[Expect a late or missed update today -- having a much needed bar night with a bud.]
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>>5688635
Good for you RQM, I hope you have an enjoyable night!
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>>5688463
>>5688413
>>5688358
>>5688300
>>5688286
>>5688283
>>5688233
>>5688224
>>5688217
[Locked, and writing, though I maaaay not finish my post until after work. We'll see how it goes!]
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>>5689102
“It sseems to me,” you say after some deliberation, “that you have both ssserved me, and thsiss kingdom, well. You, Throat-sssinger, with your dwarves. You, Bassstard, with your koboldsss. TOGETHER, working in UNISSSON, you have brought usss victory and glory!”

The Bastard bows his head once more, while Karz regards you levelly, with some suspicion. The others are forced to acknowledge your point, though—none can deny the gains these two males have made. YOU certainly cannot. And yet… What of the potential for factionalism, for petty power-squabbles? You are trying to build an empire here, yes, but ALSO a community.

“Throat-sssinger, you shall be made Duergar Regent, and given a keep to call your own—one of thosse you have sso effectively captured, officccially recognized asss YOUR sseat of power, to oversssee asss your own. You, Basstard, you shall be made Kobold Regent in Bloodrise, to lord over and direct the koboldsss’ activitiesss here… If that siss amenable to the Kobold Eldersss?”

You expected some pushback, but as the elders in question yap and chatter in their rapid-fire double-speak dialect of True Speech, you hear surprisingly little. Perhaps it is no surprise—the Bastard is very much an apprentice of yours in his own right, carries the same (more, actually) dragon-blood in his veins as you, and has already de facto commanded them in peacetime and war for over a year now. To those given to worship of dragons, he must seem a quite suitable leader in many regards.

“You have my gratitude, Ssuperior One,” the Bastard says, humbly. “I will sserve Bloodrise well, and prove mysself worthy.”

No, it is Karz who presents the problem here.

“Dragon King,” he begins, respectful in words yet terse in tone, “Theral, Master… What must I do you prove I’m than JUST a dwarf?”
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>>5689145
The question catches you off-guard. You’d thought this a god compromise—does he regard it as a demotion? You suppose you can see why. Karz had just explained his grievance—that the dwarves of Bloodrise, even Duergar overseers, are viewed as the lowest rung and as barely a step above the bondage your recently held them in. he requested authority, and you gave it to him… But a segregated authority, still separate and in some ways subordinate to that of the Master Race.

“A dwarf is all you, whelp,” the Translator snaps. “Mind your place!”

…And then there’s that. The other members of the Master Race regard you approvingly. They, like Karz, cannot help but interpret your decision as the subordination and sequestering of dwarven authority, and the preservation of the existing hierarchy. Maybe it is, in some ways. But this dwarf’s ambition, while admirable, gives you pause. Your journey to this point has been one of increasing racial equity and meritocracy, but you aren’t such a ‘bleeding heart’ (as the humans of the Northlands say) that you would risk everything in a show of trust for your Dwarven Apprentice at such a critical juncture.

“I am the HERO of this entire WAR, you forked-tongue son-of-a—”

“THROAT-SSSINGER.”

Karz respects your authority enough to immediately cease his rebuttal and turn back to you with a bow at your bellow, at least.

“My decccission isss made,” you reiterate. “But it isss not a final one. Everyone can grow and change—thisss, too, isss the ethosss of our new kingdom. Continue to cultivate yoru Dragon Sssoul. I will help, and continue to guide you. In time…”

You pause, looking to the Reptilians present as if daring them to argue.

“…You may become worthy of full Regencccy.”

The black-clade Duergar Regent, newly appointed, squints back bitter tears before they can flow… But, ultimately, he nods. It is less than he expected, perhaps, but with the potential for more.

“Yes, Master,” he says, and raises a fist as he stands. “Live for the Dragon! Die for the Dragon!”

The last words are spoken in true Speech—accented, but still impressive for mammalian vocal chords. You tilt you head, and nod in appreciation-a demonstration of competency, and a willingness to grow and learn more. Good.

“Our nexxxt order of bussinesss,” you announce, “isss a matter of life and death. It iss the matter of how Bloodrise should advanccce into the Dark Future ahead.”
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>>5689146
As you see it—and as the council’s discussion bears out—you face three main problems: an upcoming food shortage, for lack of suitable food production or trade; the possibility of retaliation by the surface-dwellers when they learn of your conquest, which is now too expansive to hide; and the Serpent priesthood and their loyalists, who may muster the forces of the Master race and their hypnotized and enthralled agents against you when hey learn of your renunciation of their authority.

There is also the matter of your allies: both the Bugbear Boss and the Wevenore Ambassador ask boons of you.

The Bogbarri (or bugbears, as you better know them) desire to move formally into your territory and their Boss asks for a keep of their own; in actuality, this is ENTIRELY the work of that peculiar creature called ‘Boss’, for his race are roving and nomadic goblinoids barely out of their ‘Stone Age’ technologically and with decentralized and uncultured social organization barely beyond that of an animal, even more primitive than the other known races of goblin.

The Wevenore Ambassador, on behalf of King-of-Elves Solinsyr, seeks trade goods and luxuries to reward the Drow for their assistance, and speaks of his King’s hope for the beginnings of surface trade between his people and those of the surface—something that you would need to facilitate by normalizing relations as well. He could perhaps be appeased with spoils of war and of your mining and archaeological-recovery efforts—such as you sort of promised Jazkarmel, anyway—but this would further impoverish your fledgling nation without a source of future wealth.
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>>5689148
“I am sure if you, you, ah, people…”

All heads turn to Ekaterine—QUEEN Ekaterine of Bloodrise, now—as she unexpectedly speaks up. You, too, are a little surprised—pleasantly, for it implies she feels some common cause here! However, all your inhuman eyes turned upon her sets her to blushing rather vividly, and she has to take a moment to recollect herself.

“If the people of Bloodrise declare that they were only taking back what was theirs—these mountains belonged to a Dragon King once, correct?—if the y ere to do that, and offer peace to the humans of the baronies below… And to the Paladin King… I am certain you could find some measure of, of TOLERANCE, if not quite ACCEPTANCE yet.”

Ekaterine speaking in your favour—the very daughter of the Paladin king—certainly couldn’t hurt. But then again…

“Bah! Foolishnessss!” the Novice Fleshweaver—rather, Serpent Queen, you suppose—spits in retort. “They will demand concessionsss to the dwarvesss… The release of captivesss and sslavessss, reparatuonsss, maybe even land returned to those we have conquered! And that’sss if they don’t dessstroy uss outright. We are SSERVANTSSS of EVIL, ass you pitiful neophytesss on the surface ssee usss.”

Eka meets her fellow Queen’s eyes, looking uncertain, and then surpriss you both by looking to Glowie.

“Um, Queen Glowie, was it? What do YOU think?”

Glowie thrums thoughtfully.

“We could juzzt eat the humanzz in the valleyz below?” she suggests, causing Ekaterine to pale and the No-Longer-Novice to hiss irritably.

"It'zz juzzt a suggezztion!" Glowie adds quickly.
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>>5689149
It’s time for you to step in.

What is your main priority as a fledgeling nation? Choose ONE primary objective; secondary ones can be specified, but should be noted as such, and choosing multiple will increase the difficulty of each as it divides focus and resources:
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions
>Expand your holdings, though it means invading your neighbours and provoking war with the Paladin King’s allies
>Hold fast and turn inward—tighten your belts, cull the sick, old, and weak if need be, and try to find a magical or material solution to produce food within Bloodrise
>Begin a shadow-war in the Underdark, to take by spycraft or open warfare the holdings of resources of the Serpent Priesthood

What of the Bogbarri? Will you accede to the Bugbear Boss’ request?
>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops
>No—you have enough brewing trouble with disunity and factionalism without a primitive race of savages occupying your mountain
>No, and in fact you would rather the bugbears clear out of your mountain-range ENTIRELY now that their mercenary-work is done

And the Drow of Wevenore? What will you do for them?
>Nothing—you cannot afford to give them anything yet, except promises of future reward when you re more stable as a nation
>You will send the Ambassador back with spoils of your recent war, and excavated trade-goods, to appease the King and his nobility
>You will facilitate trade and diplomacy on behalf of Wevenore, and turn the keep already gifted to the Drow in Bloodrise into a consulate [can only chose this if you vote to normalize relations with the surface]
>Nothing—and, actually, eject the Ambassador and vassalize the Drow in Blodorise, subjugating those who refuse

[Write-ins are allowed]
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>>5689150
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions
Giving up some of the slaves will free some of the mouth to feed.
Leverage Ekaterine for that.

Bogbarri :

>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops
More like
>Requisition forces to build with them Bogbarriland, a new keep sized for the tribe
IIRC, they were few, an assassin clan. To civilize them, we need to settle them and teach them sedentarism, not give them an already-built fortress.

Elves :>You will facilitate trade and diplomacy on behalf of Wevenore, and turn the keep already gifted to the Drow in Bloodrise into a consulate [can only chose this if you vote to normalize relations with the surface]
They wanted trade. Maximize trade means we can tax it and survive winter.
More leverage for strategic Ekaterine use


In the meantime
>Open reward for Shoggoth sword hunt thanks to normalized relations
>Make Novice and Dwarf Geologist work on food supply
>Leverage Glowie for shadow war
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>>5689150
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions
slaves for food until we can finally get crops and livestock

>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops

>You will facilitate trade and diplomacy on behalf of Wevenore, and turn the keep already gifted to the Drow in Bloodrise into a consulate [can only chose this if you vote to normalize relations with the surface]
we ought to have plenty of ore from all the captured dwarf companies at least, and not all of it usable in our current state

>At some point take Karz aside and tell him we want to give him more but the other races aren't ready. Put some degens/lower caste reptilians under him to start normalizing his authority. He's definitely frontrunner for regent.
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>>5689150
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions
>try to find a magical or material solution to produce food within Bloodrise

These are both important. Have the Novice and Dwarven geologist and daughter think about ways of improving food supplies.

Eka, the merchants and the thief (to guard her) will focus on normalising relations with some of the border Baronies

>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops
He needs to civilise his people somehow…

>You will send the Ambassador back with spoils of your recent war, and excavated trade-goods, to appease the King and his nobility

Let’s keep the new relations focused on us now - the Drow need to be dependant on our kingdom. Trade goods that flow through our gates may make it to them in time
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>>5689150
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions
>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops
>You will send the Ambassador back with spoils of your recent war, and excavated trade-goods, to appease the King and his nobility
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>>5689150
>Normalize relations and open trade with the surface-dwellers, though they may demand concessions

This allows us an opportunity to insert spies and agents into the surrounding baronies as well.


>Yes—grant his race a keep and vassal status, to reward their good work as assassins and shock-troops

Duregar instructors in agriculture and literacy. Another test for Karz's capabilities.


>You will send the Ambassador back with spoils of your recent war, and excavated trade-goods, to appease the King and his nobility


>Dedicate the efforts of the Geologist and the Novice to work on producing food from difficult ground

This is gonna be a recurring problem, and one we can win hearts and minds with in the culture war against the Serpent Priests. Scarcity is a way of life for Reptilians, maybe it doesn't have to be.
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>>5689428
>>5689406
>>5689376
>>5689268
>>5689160
[Writing!]
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>>5689458
“The Bogbarri shall have their keep,” you say. “You have earned it.”

The Bugbear Boss grins his snaggle-toothed smile, and you reflect on just why humanoids must find your own attempt at such unnerving with renewed understanding.

“You’re alright, Theral,” he says. “Is good to be working with such generous lizard!”

Not ‘Dragon King’ or even ‘King Theral’, you note. Just ‘Theral’—or, rather, ‘Copper’, the nickname which he gave you and you adopted, without any significance to this brute besides a crude descriptor of your lustrous colouration.
Of everyone here—even the Duelist, even the Translator even your wives—you think this spiky, shaggy monster of a male probably regards you with the LEAST reverence. Such might even be BEYOND the leader of the cobbled-together assassin-clan, you consider: his race is too simple, too savage, and his own self-concept bundled up in his title of ‘Boss’—in dominance-displays and martials wager. The road to sophistication and civilization starts here, though. You gift him the most ruined of the keeps—more than his little band needs, but with room to grow, and a NEED to build if it is to become something worth owning. You make a note to organize teaching in architecture, engineering, literacy… And basic hygiene, while they’re at it.

After all, we all have to start somewhere.

In the here and now, though, you have other balancing acts to maintain… Like the Drow of Wevenore.
>>
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>>5689474
You promised them soils, and spoils they shall have… But ONLY spoils for now. Trade, you reason, should remain funneled through you. The dark elves have more in common with the surfacefolk than you—and political complexities perhaps in excess of yours, with ongoing power struggles you hesitate to disrupt overmuch. If you enable them to engage in trade and diplomacy on their own, might they not eventually eclipse you? Without your leverage, will King Solinsyr continue to let you exercise your influence in his realm—and if he will, what of his eventual successor, or even those hungry-eyed princelings beneath him?

“The bugbear is correct, King Theral,” the Wevenore Ambassador replies, when you tell him of your boon. “You are most generous, to offer so much. One must almost assume you have plans on how to replenish your treasury, and your larder…?”

Shrewd elf, this one… But you suppose it’s a precondition for a job like his.

“Yess,” you acknowledge. “I do. We will make diplomatic overturesss to the sssurface.”

This results in a cacophony of reactions—positive, negative, confused, excited—from everyone present.

“I see,” the ambassador merely says. “And what role shall Wevenore play in this new era of peace and prosperity which you will no doubt bring about?”

Flatterer, and a conniving one. Oh, he’s good.

“A major role,” you reassure him, “in time. But for now, it isss bessst that we present a united front, yess?”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” the Ambassador says cooly, with a bow.

Queen Ekaterine’s hand brushes yours, and when you glance her way, she squeezes your hand.

“You won’t regret this,” she promises you, almost painfully earnest. “Your dreams… I have to admit it, I wasn’t sure about all this, about… This place. But it’s true, isn’t it? Your dream really IS of a better world, for EVERYONE?”

You nod, and it is truth… If a more complicated truth than Eka perhaps understands.
>>
>>5689475
“It isss not enough to sssubsssist on trade, though,” you cocnldue. “hen one isss ssurrounded by eneemiesss—even enemies who might become friendsss—it iss important to be ready to sstand alone. Thisss iss why our Sserpent Queen and the Geologissst shall work together to find a permnanet ssolution to the problem of food production, asss well!”

This is met by approving words and gestures from everyone present—a prudent move, a NECESSARY move, albeit not one that you’re altogether certain of the success of. It’s beyond your ken.

“It is an impossible thing,” your beloved Serpent Queen hisses quietly, in True Speech. “You cannot grow feed from solid rock, any more than you can feed those rocks to animals.”

“This is why I chose the smartest and most capable creature I know of to find a solution,” you say.

She sputters, and mutters reproach of your ‘incompetent flattery’ that ‘would even shame that smug elf’… But she also preens at the compliment, and you can see her mind already working overtime inside that aristocratic dome of hers. And she calls You obvious? Ha!
>>
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>>5689476
After this declaration is made, the nitty-gritty of policymaking and strategizing begins, and logistics are worked out. It’s important, but far from interesting, and apart from a few key elements it is largely something you can oversee or even delegate and review later. You are a male of action, not paperwork and pebble-counting! However, your disinterest in affairs gives you time to think about two matters you have NOT yet discussed… And which nobody has yet raised,a nd yet eventually must.

He first is the matter of the slaves.

Most dwarves in the mountain are free now, you have been informed—but a sizeable minority have been made slaves to the others, and to the kobolds, elves, and to the Master Race. These are the Throat—rather, the Duergar Regent’s castrated-and-shaven creatures, the ‘svirfneblin’ as he calls them. The females among them are treated as sex-slaves, the males as chattel, and those whom the Bogbarri claim are—of course—made into one more source of meat in these harsh hills. You have to assume Ekaterine would disapprove, if she ever learns of this—and how could she not? But what else is tehre to be done with them?

>You will free and return these slaves to the Races of Light as a part of your diplomatic overtures
>You will grant leniency, dignity, and protections to these slaves, and freedom to those who earn it, and to their children
>Slaves have their uses—those Karz highlighted, experimentation, and more—and so you will allow this status quo to persist
>Slavery and slave races are a commonality across many eras and races for good reason—these svirfneblin, and their children ever after, shall be servants
>Kill them all and be done with the bloody, wasteful business
>Write-in

The other matter which nobody raised—no doubt FEARS to raise so publicly and so early into your official reign as Dragon King unbound, is succession. Had you appointed a Dark General, the line of succession would be clear. With you having declined to do so, it is more up-in-the-air. Nobody speaks of it, probably worried that you will see it as an attempt to plan your downfall and replacement. It is (probably) assumed one of your Queens will take over, or one of your sons… But you have three queens, and nine sons, and another spawn on the way! You also have two lieutenants now, of approximately equal standing—the Duergar Regent and Kobold Regent, Karz and the Bastard.

What is your succession plan?
>You have none-none you are willing to proclaim publicly and formalize, not yet
>Your favoured successor is Duergar Regent, Karz
>Your favoured successor is the Kobold Regent, also called the Bastard
>Your favoured successor is the Serpent Queen Sseztlussth
>Your favoured successor is the Human Queen Ekaterine
>Your favoured successor is the Greatworm Queen, Glowie
>One of your sons is your favoured successor (which one?)
>Olu is your favoured successor
>Write-in
>>
>>5689476
>You cannot grow feed from solid rock, any more than you can feed those rocks to animals
dang, all that conquest and we still only have mountains? god damn dwarves

>>5689478
>Slaves have their uses—those Karz highlighted, experimentation, and more—and so you will allow this status quo to persist
eventually the bogbarri will eat them all maybe

>Your favoured successor is the Serpent Queen Sseztlussth
haha assassination incoming
>>
>>5689478
>You will grant leniency, dignity, and protections to these slaves, and freedom to those who earn it, and to their children
Can't return them after what was done to them, can't let this thing continue as is.

>You have none-none you are willing to proclaim publicly and formalize, not yet
Ekaterine's demigod child is the obvious successor. We'll live until he's born.
>>
>>5689478
>You will grant leniency, dignity, and protections to these slaves, and freedom to those who earn it, and to their children

Turn them from chattel into villeins- landholders beholden to their owners. It's a slight move up in class.


>You have none-none you are willing to proclaim publicly and formalize, not yet

Either our demigod child or one of our Sons will take the throne when we pass, though that should hopefully still be some time down the line.
>>
>>5689478
>Slaves have their uses—those Karz highlighted, experimentation, and more—and so you will allow this status quo to persist

It is a good punishment / deter against rebellion. Plus, the fact that they’re gilded means that they won’t be a normal member of society

>You have none-none you are willing to proclaim publicly and formalize, not yet

No need yet
>>
>>5689474
*martial swagger
[Dagnabbit.]
>>
>>5689734
>>5689727
>>5689552
>>5689495
[I'll wait for a tie-breaker and post tonight or tomorrow!]
>>
>>5690103
I'll vote for the leniency then like >>5689727 suggested.
>>
>>5690117
[What of the second vote, anon?]
>>
>>5690143
Even if I voted for Sseztlussth, it wouldn't even tie with the vote for no heir which is what I wanted to win anyway.
>>
>>5690147
[Fair 'nuff]

>>5689495
>>5689552
>>5689727
>>5689734
>>5690117
[Locking and writing!]
>>
>>5690168
It’s too late to return the ‘svirfneblin’ prisoners-of-war back to their people—and, even if it weren’t, you’re not sure you WOULD. These are still your enemies—those who fought against your kingdom and defied you, and they now naturally bear you and Bloodrise a deep grudge. If they leave, raped and emasculated, they will carry stories of horror, evidence of barbarity, and a lasting legacy of animosity for your empire-to-be in neighbouring polities. You can’t have that… And here, they have other uses as well.

But one look at Eka, and you know you can’t leave them as they are, either. She will never accept it, never feel at home in a kingdom that makes castrated chattel and cattle of people—ANY people—that offers up rapine as a reward for military service. And you.. Well, she has affected you, as you have affected her. You accepted that some time ago.

“There isss one more matter we mussst disscusss… That of the dwarven prisssonerss-of-war.”

The Duergar Regent is not especially pleased to have his authority over Matters Dwarven so immediately undercut and weakened, with your declaration of enshrined rights and protections for the svirfneblin. The Bogbear Boss isn’t delighted to hear about his food sources further limited, either—you’ll have no eating of captives and slaves. Queen Glowie buzzes unhappily at that as well, but does not push for a reversal. No one does, and Eka squeezes your hand and nods approvingly at you, very much proud of your leniency and mercy towards the weak. The reception to this social policy is cool at best, but none will defy the Prince of Love who is ALSO their conquering Copper Dragon King.

You put succession from your mind. There is much, MUCH too much to be done to make Bloodrise a real nation before you even CONSIDER its lasting legacy beyond your rule. You are scarcely two decades old, and your kingdom less than two years—if you cannot survive at least a LITTLE while longer to lead it into the world of the Light and to shield it from its vagaries… Well, no successor you prematurely appoint is likely to last long beyond your early demise, anyway. Right now, you ARE Bloodrise—it would perish if you were to perish, and no successor would be necessary.

Luckily, you would wager you have a great while longer yet to live.

That night, after the meeting, you spend in quiet contemplation… At least, you do for a time. You have left Ekaterine with Oluwadmilare for the time, to escort her around and settle her in while keeping her in safekeeping. She will return, though. There comes a time when you must decide where you will take your torpor.
>>
>>5690202
The Nov—rather, the Serpent Queen, she will not care where you sleep… Not OUTWARDLY. She is a jealous creature, though; not affectionate as a mammalian mate, but possessive nevertheless, and ever-worried about warm-blooded influence upon your thinking narrowing her own span of control over you. She won’t want you spending your nights with Ekaterine purely because it means more time to absorb her ‘weakness’ and less time for her t persuade you to her own schemes. It’s cynical and sinister, but that’s why you love her—she’s a clever and conniving female with a beautiful mind.

Ekaterine, though… She is still in foreign territory, alone in a world of man-eating monsters and mercenary slavers, from her perspective. IF you have made her Queen of the Monsters, and made them slightly less monstrous in deference to the morality she has helped cultivate within you… Well, that will make her less horrified to dwell here, but not more COMFORTABLE with this as a permanent ‘home’. She needs to find comfort here, and community, and YOU are all that binds her to it at present—until the child within her is born.

Then there’s Glowie… Glowie who ahs not been with you for many, many months, and whose sons would also appreciate your presence. The No-Longer-Novice and Glowie could be with you together without issue, and Ekaterine and the Serpent Queen have both shared your bodywarmth simultaneously in the past… But you haven’t even INTRODUCED those ravening wyrmling spawn of yours to Queen Ekaterine, who you are somewhat worried is small enough to be appealing prey to them. Still, you love those bug-hybrids, and that alien-minded mother of theirs, and you know they have missed you and would appreciate more time with you.

Who will you spend your torpor with?
>Ekaterine
>The Serpent Queen
>Glowie and your sons
>Alone with your thoughts

[You can choose as many as you want, except the last obviously, but keep in mind the complications of sleeping together with any pair of them]

Pardon the shorter and lighter update; wanted a little personal break in the big, era-defining political decisions and their outcomes.
>>
>>5690205
>Ekaterine
She needs us the most right now, in the beginning. We'll work on introducing everyone and helping them get along in the future.
>>
>>5690205
>The Serpent Queen
>>
>>5690205
>Glowie and your sons
It’s been awhile.
>>
>>5690205
>>Ekaterine
We will be here for some time, best to get Eka settled. We'll have plenty of time for everyone but she is the most vulnerable right now.
>>
>>5690205
>Ekaterine
She's the most in need of attention and care.
>>
>>5690205
>The Serpent Queen
>>
>>5690205
>The Serpent Queen
>>
>>5690205
>Ekaterine

With the goal of making long term
>Ekaterine + Serpent Queen
the standard
>>
>>5690205
>The Serpent Queen
>>
>Waifu related vote comes up.
>1 ID posts crawl out of the woodwork.
Clockwork.
>>
>>5690477
It is pretty tiresome. And it doesn't even work!
>>
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>>5690466
>>5690446
>>5690384
>>5690382
>>5690336
>>5690313
>>5690240
>>5690217
>>5690211
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5690570
It’s unfortunate that you still need to make such decisions, and that your wives cannot all get along. You knew what you were getting into when you pursued this path, though. Ease will come with time, but for now your complicated polygamous affair requires hard work to appease each of Bloodrise’s three queens. You laugh to think of it, actually—that your own family might almost serve as microcosm for the newborn nation as a whole, complete with competing factions! It is a good thing you are an indefatigable champion of your causes of Darkness and Love, or you might work yourself to an early grave at this rate!

Ha ha… Haaa.

Anyway, the choice is obvious for tonight. Queen Ekaterine needs you the most. She is the most delicate of your mates, emotionally and physically, and is the most out-of-place here. Glowie has your sons to keep her company (and her daughters) and thus is never truly alone. The Serpent Queen has no sense of community and a limited capacity for love, will by fine alone with her research for one night. Ekaterien knows the value of community, and yet has been severed from hers. She is alone here, and she carries the burden of a demigod within. You must keep her spirit strong.

“I appreciate you coming here, Theral… but I understand if you need to attend to other matters.”

It’s not the reception you were expecting when you relived the Archer of his guard duties and entered Ekaterine’s chamber. You find her still wearing most of her Drow-crafted attire—albeit with heavy crown removed, and braided hair let down in loose ringlet-curls. She is strikingly beautiful in the torchlight , despite the liens of weariness upon her face. You glance around the chamber to assess her accommodations, and find she has been provided for her chamber, furnished with sturdy-but-simple dwarven furniture and a too-small bed. She has chosen to remain in her chair rather than curl up upon the dwarf-sized mattress, in spite of her obvious physical and emotional exhaustion. You’re not sure if it’s due to the accommodations or her sense of unease here.

“I require ressst to rule wissely,” you say, “and you require it, too, my Queen.”

“Queen…” Ekaterine tastes the word, tone low and full of bitter amusement. “Princess of Hawksong, Queen of Bloodrise… Either way a prisoner.”
>>
>>5690592
You flinch a little, and step towards her, placing your hands upon her shoulders and looking into her eyes. You see no tears there, but they are red—she has cried, and recently.

“I sometimes…” she pauses to collect herself, taking a deep breath. “Everything that’s happened these last few weeks ahs felt like, like a DREAM. I wanted to see the world, and… Well, thanks to you, I have.”

That ‘thanks to you’ doesn’t exactly sound grateful for the experience, you inwardly note. Well, she WAS hastily kidnapped, smuggled down into a world of literal darkness, nearly crushed to death by rock-monsters, propositioned for group sex by a randy elf, and then appointed ‘monarch of monsters’ in a harsh mountain-realm. That’s fair.

“And now I’m Queen!” she says with a laugh, as if reading your thoughts, and then regards her crown thoughtfully. “These people… it’s as you said, Theral. They’re not… they need guidance. Circumstances are cruel here. They’ve made the people cruel.”

She looks up at you, eyes wide with sudden regret.

“Oh! But I, I see what you are doing. How you are helping them! The way you gave that, ah, that spiky fellow… The ‘Bogbarri’ diplomat?... A place to call home, but made sure he knew not to, rather, that it is inappropriate to…”

“…To eat people,” you finish.

“Yes,” Ekaterine whispers. “That. Well, it’s good.”

“I have plansss for the Bogbarri,” you reassure her. “They will be civilized, in time.”

Ekaterine nods, but falls quiet.

“It isss okay if you are sstill getting usssed to all thisss,” you reassure her, cupping her face and gently pulling her—unresisting, but not enthused—int your embrace. You stroke her hair, and she slowly melts into you, taking comfort where she can, until you are able at last to hep her undress, and then to guide her to the bed.
>>
>>5690595
If it’s too small for her, it’s MUCH too small for you… But by sitting upon it and holding Eka in your lap, with your back leaned against the wall and your <Dragonshape> wings wrapped around you both, you create some sense of comfort and security for her. Her breathing normalizes, as does her heartbeat, and her eyes eventually slide shut…

But she doesn’t sleep. Not yet. She still can’t.

“I suppose I must adjust to, to all this, hm?” she murmurs, barely a whisper. “I’m never going home again, am I? My… My family?”

>No, she isn’t going o see Hawksong for a long, long time—nor can you risk her leaving the mountains, and perhaps attempting an escape
>Actually… You were hoping she would serve as a member of your diplomatic delegation, and tour the human lands below
>She isn’t a prisoner—she is free to leave if she so desires

Is there anything else you wish to discuss with her, in private?
>So, about Glowie and the Wyrmlings…
>Maybe we should discuss our child?
>Get her opinion on your new Regents
>Ask what she knows about the human baronies below
>Maybe some sex will help warm her to this place… And it HAS been a while…
>Write-in
>>
>>5690596
>>Actually… You were hoping she would serve as a member of your diplomatic delegation, and tour the human lands below
"that would be best for you to get a bit more familiar with here first. But soon, duty might called you. Would you like to be a diplomat? Or would you fill me putting golden chains around your delicate ankles once again?"

>Maybe we should discuss our child
Keep that in mind, not worded like that. More like talk about how the honeymoon was amazing, and how does she feels, if she wants to discuss anything, she wants anything
Might become the "sex" option if it's what she wants.
>>
>>5690596
>>Actually… You were hoping she would serve as a member of your diplomatic delegation, and tour the human lands below
>She isn’t a prisoner—she is free to leave if she so desires
She is not a prisoner, and would be a great diplomat if she wants

>Maybe we should discuss our child?
>Maybe some sex will help warm her to this place… And it HAS been a while…
What anon above said.
>>
>>5690625
Support
>>
>>5690596
>She isn’t a prisoner—she is free to leave if she so desires

>Get her opinion on your new Regents
>Ask what she knows about the human baronies below
>>
>>5690615
Supporting this + she’s not a prisoner. But do emphasise that the world outside strongholds like her castle and Bloodrise is a dangerous place for a lone woman…

100% do not pressure her into sex right now
>>
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Rolled 9, 5, 20, 7 = 41 (4d20)

>>5690949
>>5690901
>>5690838
>>5690625
>>5690615
>>
>>5690984
>20
THERAL SWEEP
>>
>>5690987
>>5690984
You recall all the times that Ekaterine lamented her home—the very home she now regards through a rose-tinted lens, and longs for. She called her palatial residence a ‘gilded cage’, regarding herself as a sort of honoured prisoner of her overprotective father and her brothers. Those male humans, embroiled and occupied with their politics, and unwilling to involve her in this great work which dominated their lives in anything but a decorative capacity, left her isolated and alienated. You offered her escape from that, yes… But if Bloodrise comes to be a prison for your Beloevd One, than what have you really done except trade a gilded cage for a dingy one?

“You are not a prisssoner here,” you promise her. “You are my Queen.”

“One of three,” she notes.

“Yess,” you acknowledge, but at the same time you pull her into a close embrace and nuzzle into eh crook of her neck, while your hands move up from her abdomen to clutch at her chest. “but no lesss valued than ever.”

“Theral…” she mutters, grimacing at first but then beginning to fidget and to agsp under your attentions.

“Pleasse,” you say teasingly, “call me ‘Long Wang’.”

>20

In the afterglow of your lovemaking, Ekaterine seems more grounded, calmer. To your surprise, she requests that you abandon your <Dragonshape> for the task. Obliging her, you quickly discover why: Her soft skin against your scales and scutes is a wondrous contrast, but as your own exterior smooths and thick hide thins, your sensations grow more intense, and your capacity to embrace and entangle with one another increases. Eka doesn’t desire the Dragon king—not even Long Wang, as she rejects your offer to wear the Amulet of Disguise against. She doesn’t want to be dominated or deceived—she wants to be loved, and held, and made to feel the way she felt on the day and night of your wedding.

It is… Nice.

“You will make a great diplomat,” you reflect. “You knew what I wanted without me realizing it myssself.”

“I thought this was about making ME feel at ease?” Ekaterine teases lightly, further evidence of her comfort.

“Well,” you hazard, “what I wanted WAS for you to be at ease.”

“Among other things,” she murmurs, with a shy kiss of your jawline.

“Among other thingsss,” you agree, with a squeeze of her rear.
>>
>>5691028
You lay in comfortable silence for a time. The stickiness upon the sheets betwixt you leads you from thoughts most erotic to deeper considerations which result from your coupling—to other matters not yet discussed.

“…We should dissscusss our family.”

Ekaterine looks up at you, curious.

“Are you, ah, even certain e can HAVE such a thing?” she asks, quietly.

“I am part human myssself,” you remind her. “My breeding with you isss more likely to ssuccceed than that which producced me, or my mother before me.”

You pause, then sigh.

“That isss not all. I already know that it will ssuccceeed… That it HASSS ssusccceded. You are pregnant, Eka.”

Ekaterine’s eyes widen a little, as if to ask ‘but how do you know?’.

“The Dark Godssss,” you answer her wordless inquiry. “The Lady of the Rookery—our Mother Goddesss—she led me to Hawksssong, and to you. Our sspawn… Child, rather… It isss touched by her, a child alssso of the goddessss.”

Ekaterine sits up suddenly, placing hands upon her abdomen and staring at it as if the child within might swell to fullness and burst forth from her at any moment. Soothingly, you guide her back down to where she lay in your arms, and hold her tightly.

“What does it mean?” Ekaterine asks, quietly. “For… For our baby? For our family?”

“Greatnessss,” you reply, with confidence, still privately considering the demigod forming within your Human Queen to be a likely candidate to one day succeed you, and to carry on your work. “But we musst help give it the bessst sstart we can.”

Ekaterine says nothing, but you can feel her nod, and clutch closer to you. In time, you both fall asleep.

You wake first, of course. You take a bit of time to appreciate the sleeping form of your naked Queen Ekaterine, before rising, stretching, and beginning your sword-practice. When at east Eka also rouses, you dress yourselves—aiding one another with the armoured components—and set about your day proper.

There is, as ever, much to do… And, with the stakes clear and your bond renewed, Queen Ekaterie of Bloodrise seems more willing and able to do them.

“Where do we begin?” she asks.
>>
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>>5691030
You have four principle projects underway: the civilization and integration of disparate races into Bloodrise’s multicultural milieu; the contacting and smuggling-in of sympathetic Reptilians to your new kingdom from underneath the Serpent Priests’ aristocratically-flattened snouts; the first diplomatic and economic entreaties to the baronies below your mountain-kingdom; ad the mystical-agricultural effort to produce food domestically. You cannot helm them all, of course, and aren’t exactly suited equally to each task: Glowie can direct her daughters better than you can, the Regents and other commanding presences in your ranks exist precisely so you need not micromanage every reptile and mammal in the kingdom.

It's been proven time and again, though: your people cooperate more readily, and stay on-mission and within the bounds of your cultivated code of conduct, when you are there to supervise them.

What will you do?
>Accompany Ekaterine in her diplomatic entreaties
>Stay in Bloodrise, and direct your Regents and the other Queens in their efforts

[Choose one; the role you focus on personally will get resolved with multiple updates, while the others will get a summary. The tasks under your supervision will get an additional bonus towards their chances of success, as well… While the others will not. The diplomacy-and-trade mission, being your primary focus, already is getting the greatest bonuses.]
>>
>>5691031
>Accompany Ekaterine in her diplomatic entreaties

A difficult choice, but being the face of Bloodrise is important.
>>
>>5691031
>Stay in Bloodrise, and direct your Regents and the other Queens in their efforts

Eka's all sorted out, now to help everyone else
>>
>>5691031
>Accompany Ekaterine in her diplomatic entreaties
Without food we’re fucked - this is the most important
>>
>>5691031
>Accompany Ekaterine in her diplomatic entreaties
Don't leave the pregnant woman alone

We'll need some serious Serpent Queen focus after though
>>
>>5691031
>>Accompany Ekaterine in her diplomatic entreaties

Letting her out on her own while carrying our child is just asking for trouble.
>>
>>5691474
>>5691315
>>5691270
>>5691126
>>5691070
It is a difficult choice to make—being the heart and soul of Bloodrise is important. However, what Bloodrise needs now is food, and security, and that means putting the kingdom’s best face forward. That means bringing to bear the <Voice of the Metatron>, if necessary. Ekaterine… Well, she could probably do a fine job as well, but something deep inside you feels terrible dread at the thought of leaving your pregnant mate and her gestating god-spawn unguarded… or even under the guard of anyone else but YOU.

…Huh. Maybe you HAVE pair-bonded?

“Disgusting,” the Serpent Queen hisses when you visit her in her alchemical laboratory to tell her of your decision, “you have pair-bonded.”

“That’sss not it,” you say, maintaining the use of Northern Common-tongue for Eka’s benefit—she’s there, too, after all. “Thiss iss vital to the future of Bloodrise.”

“It iss,” the Serpent Queen says bluntly. “It isss both. You are not WORNG that thiss entireprisse iss vital, but you reasssonss are sssilly inssstinct.”

“If it is a problem, I could travel with the protection of another—”

“No,” you interrupt.

Both females look at you curiously. You feel like you are beneath one of the Seprent Queen’s magnifying glasses. It is a testament to your steely resolve that you neither squirm nor avert your gaze—whatever you ‘underlying reasons’, you KNOW this decision is right and wise… And so, ultimately, does the Serpent Queen.

“Fine,” she says with a sigh, again using the True Speech. “Go. But do you really think it is wise to leave thiss place without a ruler again so soon after your return?

“There are the racial regents,” you say, “and the council. You will not be without—”

“We are not some… Some DEMOCRATIC UNION OF STATES,” your Reptilian Beloved snaps. “We are a KINGDOM, comprised of five or six races who hate and fear each other by DESIGN.”

“That is… Not wholly accurate,” you counter. “And if you’ll be without a King for a while, you will still have Queens.”

“Exactly,” the Serpent Queen says, striking swiftly, “which is why you must now appoint me leader in your absence.”

You regard her closely.

“I have decided to postpone any discussion of succession,” you say. “it is not yet the time to—”

The Serpent Queen’s head snaps towards Ekaterine, and she demands in the Northtongue: “Should I be the Ssupreme Leader of Bloodrise in the Dragonborn’ss absssencce? Should I, in fact, be Firssst Amogn Queensss”

“Uh,” Queen Ekaterine begins, startled by the sudden inquiry. “I… What? I’m not sure if—”

“Veto,” the Serpent Queen interjects, in the True Speech once more, and facing you with defiance in her eyes and in her spine. “I invoke my OATH-BOUND right to veto your human mate.”
>>
>>5691538
You narrow your eyes a little. That… Is not quite right, you don’t think. Ekaterine made no actual advice. You don’t FEEL especially bound by this invocation. And yet… Beneath her bluster, you sense the anxiety in the Fleshweaver. She is skilled at hiding it, but she feels her position is weak—probably moreso after you spent your first night back with Ekaterine, and now are leaving with her. Selfish and sinister as your Childhood Beloved is, she must see it as her grip loosening—upon you, upon her status here. And this is all after turning her back on her own caste and the social order of the Seprent priests—on her own highly-placed father, and all the rivileges she has ever known, all for your sake.

“A-and one more thing,” she says, failing to hide a tremor and finally averting her eyes. “You must i-impregnate me, as well.”

You blink.

“Wait,” you say, “what?”

“Do not look at me like that!” she almost shrieks. “You have spawn with Glowie. You have planted your vile and abominable seed in THAT one—”

She points at Ekaterine, who takes a step back and looks at you in confusion, as if hoping for translation or perhaps for protection against witchcraft.

“—and I have no such claim to legitimacy for my bloodline here! If you leave now…”

The Serpent Queen trails off, as if fearful she has revealed too much. Perhaps she has. She fears you might not return—or perhaps that, upon returning, you might spurn her, and relegate her to lesser status? Is she truly so worried for you, for herself… For your love?

What will you do?
>Accede to the Serpent Queen’s request—she shall be your First Queen and your successor, and you will lay with her before you leave
>Agree to breed with the Fleshweaver… But grant her no special authority above the council or your other wives
>She can have your seed, and some temporary authority, but you’ll be talking about this ‘First Queen’ business when you get back
>You’re… Not so sure about knocking her up right now, actually, let alone the rest of it
>Write-in
>>
>>5691540
>Accede to the Serpent Queen’s request—she shall be your First Queen and your successor, and you will lay with her before you leave

fair's fair
>>
>>5691540
>Accede to the Serpent Queen’s request—she shall be your First Queen and your successor, and you will lay with her before you leave

Ekaterine is too soft, and Glowie too alien to ever rule over this conglomerate. She has a good point- that being said, she is not our PERMANENT successor.
>>
>>5691540
>Agree to breed with the Fleshweaver… But grant her no special authority above the council or your other wives
OR
>She can have your seed, and some temporary authority, but you’ll be talking about this ‘First Queen’ business when you get back
OR
>You’re… Not so sure about knocking her up right now, actually, let alone the rest of it
I'm fine with knocking her up or not if anons vote for it (Though I'm beginning to think she's going to abuse the vow to veto the demigod as our successor to have her kid appointed instead, like she just tried to abuse it to gain more power for herself). She can also be temporary Regent until we return. But making her First Queen and successor? Nope, no way, not now, especially not like this. Did we not just agree there would be no successor? Have we not repeatedly voted for equality among the wives? Why did we even declare Glowie and Eka as Queens if we are to immediately go ahead and put one of them above the others? Both the kingdom and this whole polygamy thing are not going to work if she's like this and we should have stayed with just her from the beginning.

But my real vote is:
>Write-in
>Do not answer immediately. Talk to her, alone, after she's calmed down a bit. Get to the source of her worries, calm them down, make her feel safe, get her to see that Eka and Glowie are her equals both in your heart and in your kingdom, and she should at least try to get along with them.
>>
>>5691565
[Should I then count this as
>She can have your seed, and some temporary authority, but you’ll be talking about this ‘First Queen’ business when you get back
instead, since you don't want the authority to be permanent?]
>>
>>5691540
This >>5691577, her worries need a thorough and personal adressing but she will ultimately not be above the others.
>>
>>5691577
>>She can have your seed, and some temporary authority, but you’ll be talking about this ‘First Queen’ business when you get back

I like the idea of a triumvirate with equal voice : The intransigeant Serpent, the all-loving Princess, the middle-ground Dragon
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>>5691613
And Glowie!
>>
>>5691594
Yeah, I suppose that's more along the lines of what I'm looking for. I support the idea of talking things out a little deeper as well, along the lines of this write in >>5691577
>>
>>5691648
>>5691613
>>5691602
>>5691577
>>5691564
[Locking vote and writing!]
>>
>>5691752
Your gaze shifts to Ekaterine, who looks between the two of you with the half-comprehension you might expect of a political ingénue who can only understand the language used for about a third of the conversation.

“I think we should speak in private,” you suggest to the intransigent Serpent Queen.

“Why?” she asks, genuinely confused. “The human barely understands what’s happening. What does it matter?”

You shake your head, and ask Eka to excuse the two of you. She merely nods, and watches you go, brow creased with concern and confusion.

“I feel as if you are abusing the veto-vow to secure power for yourself,” you begin, bluntly.

“Yes,” the Fleshweaver agrees, equally guileless, and take you aback.

“What?”

“Come now, Dragonborn,” she mocks, “have you spent so long entangled with you ape-woman that you have forgotten? The will to power is CENTRAL. It is what brought us this far—you as well as I.”

“Not only that,” you tell her.

The Serpent Queen hisses and crosses her arms.

“I swear,” she says, “if you begin to prattle on again about love, I shall find a way to murder you without implicating myself?”

“is that a binding oath?” you ask.

The Serpent Queen stares at you, then narrows her eyes.

“You are mocking me,” she realizes.

“I am,” you readily agree.

You look into one another’s eyes for a time, a silent standoff, until the one-time-Novice looks away with a haughty huff. You laugh, and step forward. She flinches, even as you take her into your arms, but her tail wraps unthinkingly about your leg, clinging fast as if afraid to let you go.

“You must come to see that you, the Human Queen, and the Greatworm Queen are ALL equals,” you say softly, “here in Bloodrise, and in my heart.”

“I do not CARE about your stupid hybrid heart, you pathetic hormone-poisoned lummox,” she whines. “I am better than they are. Smarter, more capable, better-suited to rulership1 It is in my blood, in my mind!”

You gently remove her hood and headdress, and caress her scales. The Chaplain’s Daughter, first among equals in your ever-more-complicated love-life, is helpless to resist your touch. She squirms, but it is to cling closer, and her breathing is somewhat uneasy, heavy. She is inhaling your scent.

She is in heat.

“You stopped taking the estrus-suppressant potion,” you note, your own voice unconsciously shifting towards a deeper growl as <appetite> seeps into it.

The Serpent Queen mutters something vague about necessity, which you can barely make out.
>>
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>>5691774
“I will give you power,” you accede. “TEMPORARY power. You are not wholly wrong, after all, to borrow your words: Ekaterine is soft. Glowie is… Alien. You are well-suited to lead.”

“Exactly!” she shouts, looking up, only to stop when she sees your stern expression.

“Temporary,” you reiterate. “Blood does not matter, and Bloodrise requires not just a keen mind, but a warm heart, if it is to survive.”

“Warm like your blood,” she spits. “Race-traitor.”

There’s no venom in the words, despite her best efforts. You suppress a laugh—she calls you race-traitor as she begs with her body to carry your cross-caste, interspecies mongrel offspring.

“You too,” you say.

She has no counterargument, and can offer no resistance as you remove your robe and—finally, after decades of tension, after the better part of two years together, after everything—you take her.

If what you and Ekaterine do is ‘making love’, this is more like ‘making war’. Even Glowie’s approach to sexual congress—insistent, extractive, efficient, absorbing—is unlike Sseztlussth’s. It is a struggle for dominance. To the delight of some dark and primal part of you—that awakened by Irinnile the Succubus, perhaps—the Serpent Queen seems to grant and revoke consent moment-by-moment. At times she struggles to get away, spitting insults and aggression, swatting with her tail and cutting with claws. At others, she forces you down and seems more the rapist—a strangely-erotic turn you allow, since with a simple <Dragonshape> you could easily turn the tables.

“Filthy Degenerate!” she hisses at you even as she rises and falls atop you, impaled upon you, her talons around your wrists. “Learn who is your mistress! Surrender to y-your Queen!”

You’re not sure you’ve ever seen her this frantic, this fired-up. It must be the hormones—estrus is a passing thing for the Master Race, occurring only every one to three years for a healthy female, but the surge of hormones is intense. There is a reason that breeding pits require pit-GUARDS, after all! You rather like it—it’s the most unabashedly that your Beloved One has ever reciprocated your want—even if it is couched in racial degradation and dominance-displays.

“Give it to me!” she demands imperiously. “Give me all of it! I want it I c-c-command YOU!”

You give Her Majesty what she has demanded, and then some. Her body quakes, her limited physicality giving way to endearing weakness as her fervor is spent. You aren’t done, though—she whimpers and moans almost pitifully as you turn the tables and exhaust your own vast reserves of energy until you join her—at last—in torpor.

You hold each other close. You wonder if—just in this moment, just for now—she maybe knows something of True Love?

>True Love Status (Novice Fleshweaver): ???
>>
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>>5691775
Regardless, the matter is settled—and, as the Serpent Queen reveals stuffily, there will be no need for further couplings.

“My fleshweaver’s art will see to it that the fertilization takes,” she asserts with professional pride.

“Then next time it will be purely for pleasure,” you note.

She stiffens, unable to meet your eyes. You laugh, and give her one last hug.

“I love you,” you tell her.

“Go away,” she snaps, though her tail again betrays her, its smooth and graceful tip brushing gently against the spade of your own. “I have a Kingdom to run.”

“You will do great,” you tell her, and you mean it.

Are there any other quick, last-minute matters which you must attend to before you depart Bloodrise?
>Yes [specify]
>No

Besides Ekaterine and yourself, are there any others you wish to bring?
>Olu the Archer, old stalwart ally
>The Thief, skilled Infiltartor of old with a magic mask
>Azonia the Duelist, perhaps the best blade-master you know
>Agno the Kobold, chiefmost of his race in your retinue since Ivno’s demise
>Someone else [who?]
>>
>>5691776
>Yes- see to the disposition of your military personally, and what its new status is after being blooded in the conquests of the Dwarven corporations

As head of state- particularly after not being present for the last siege- we should inspect the troops.

>Olu the Archer, old stalwart ally
>The Thief, skilled Infiltrator of old with a magic mask
>Azonia the Duelist, perhaps the best blade-master you know
>>
>>5691776
>>5691795
[Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to include them, but the Translator and the North or South Merchant are also viable picks]
>>
>>5691776
>Yes- see to the disposition of your military personally, and what its new status is after being blooded in the conquests of the Dwarven corporations

>Olu the Archer, old stalwart ally
>The Thief, skilled Infiltartor of old with a magic mask
>Azonia the Duelist, perhaps the best blade-master you know
>the Merchants
>>
>>5691776
>>5691942
This but perhaps just whoever merchant is most familiar with where we're going? We might not want to ruin both of their schedules.
>>
>>5692035
I’m also fine with that
>>
>>5691776
>>5692035
Support
>>
>>5691942
Supporting this
>>
>>5691776
>olu
>one merchant
>agno
>>
>>5691795
>>5692035
>>5692038
>>5692052
>>5692063
>>5692302
Before you go, you there is one last duty to which you must attend. You have given a single general speech to your populace, you have consulted with your council, and you have maintained the careful balance of power required to prevent your harem of co-equal queens from killing and eating each other… But what of your military?

In actuality, the ‘military’ of Bloodrise is not so much a specific standing army as Hawksong or other advanced nations might field, comprised of trained citizens’ militias and elite professional soldiery. Rather, it is every able-bodied male—and a good number of non-pregnant, non-nursing females—among your adult subjects. A few factors have led to this, the first being necessity—your population is small, your kingdom’s existence precarious, and you have been forced to field everyone you can. Add to this the dark elves’ proclivity for woman (and queerly-gendered) warriors such as the Duelist and Lancer, and your earlier proclamation that only those dwarves who fought for Bloodrise could become freedmen (or freedWOMEN), and the kobolds’ own proclivity for making raiders of any available adult, and the only people in the whole of Bloodrise who HAVEN’T fought in battle are those who had very young children to look after, or who were assigned to guard clutches of eggs.

(Oh, and the bugbear females, but you still haven’t even SEEN one of those… Maybe now that you’ve given them a keep to call their own you’ll learn what they’re like?)

Still, you want to get a feel for their efficacy—how they have grown in skill, and in numbers, and how their tactics have evolved. You command and demonstration-drill, in the form of a mock-battle between the forces of your two regents: Karz versus the Bastard. You assign each of them a small contingent of Bogbarri, too—those the Bugbear Boss feels can follow basic instructions from someone other than him, and trusts not to ‘accidentally’ kill a rival in this friendly skirmish—and some Drow.

“What do you MEAN I can’t participate?” whines Azonia the Duelist.

She stomps her foot, and you glance away from the effect this has on her oversized bosom.

“You’re too good,” you explain.

She smirks slyly, and asks: “Are you trying to flatter me, ‘Dragon King’?”

“I’m ssstating a fact,” you say, and truthfully, for she’s one of the few beings you know of who can still present a challenge even in your <Dragonshape> and with your magic weapons brought to bear. “You have no opposite number, exxxcept maybe the Bugbear Bossss, and he’ss otherwisse occupied.”
>>
>>5692668
Azonia yawns expansively and pouts a little at being denied this chance to test her skills, but obliges you.

“Besidesss, I need you fresh.”

“Well now I KNOW you’re hitting on me,” she says. "Is this how you got three wives, with that ugly mug of yours?"

“I’m not,” you sigh, and she laughs and sneaks a prodding finger into your ribs, making you flinch. “I MEAN that I want you to guard Queen Ekaterine on our diplomatic missssion.”

“I know, I know. I tease, Theral.”

That she does. You focus upon the battle below, to ignore the mischievous dark elf Duelist. You’re genuinely curious to see who wins out. You’ve tutored both generals these last few days, between your other duties—helping to further awaken their Dragon Spirits with meditation, teaching them combat arts. As you watch the two of them direct their armies, though, something surprising occurs to you:

They’re both better generals than you are.

It is a shock—even an embarrassment—but as you watch the Duergar and Kobold Regents direct their small armies in the mountain-valley below you, you genuinely find it difficult to follow their tactics. They mobilize their forces with experience, dividing and directing squads via their sub=commanders with a mastery you know, almost right away, you cannot match. While you have been studying the ways of swordcraft and speechcraft, seduction and sorcery, leading charges and singlehandedly toppling titans and towers… these two males have been waging REAL war. They’ve learned the ways of squad-tactics and organization, logistics and formations. You might be able to inspire the people of Bloodrise to action, but these two are BOTH your betters when it comes to directing it.

“You know, you’re right,” the Duelist muses as you watch the Bastard execute a skillful feint-and-bait manoeuvre, only for the Throat-singer to summon a swarm of snakes and insects to cut it off and delay the retreat long enough to muster reinforcements.

“About what?” you ask, watching as the Bastard’s bugbear reinforcements sudden appear on the back of the Throat-singer’s troops, harrying them long enough for his main body of troops to break through and make for the rival camp’s ‘flag’—the objective of the exercise.

“I wouldn’t have enjoyed this much, anyway,” the she-elf says. “Too much… Teamwork. Battle’s better when it’s one-on-one… Or one-on-many, even, if the one’s me! I prefer doing my own thing to… THIS.”

She gestures vaguely at the idea of a coordinated and tactical back-and-forth, directed by clever minds. You realize it’s something you have in common with her, for better or worse.

“THISSS iss important,” you say.

“But not FUN.”

You can only shrug.
>>
>>5692670
Eventually, the Kobold Regent and his forces claim victory—they seize the flag and return it to their base, where they hold it for a full minute against retaliatory assault. You call the match to an end, and offer congratulations to the victor.

“If you let me use the basilisk and fire lizards, or if the snakes and spiders were allowed to BITE…”

The Bastard sneers at the Throat-singer, and hisses: “Exxxcusesss, exxxcusesss.”

“You both performed admirably,” you say magnanimously. “And I ssee you’ve both learned from my lessons, and from your time at war. I know that Bloodrise isss in god handsss while I am gone.”

And so you leave these two—under your Serpent Queen’s imperious command—in charge of the mountains they worked so hard to claim. You place your trust in them, and prepare to depart once more for the world of humanity. With you travel your greatest martial champions: Olu the Archer, Azonia the Duelist.

(In truth, it’s no real contest if it came to conflict between them—Azonia could deflect your Archer’s arrows and gut him before he knew what happened, you suspect. Still Olu is a good friend and trustworthy steward. There is nobody you’d rather have at your side.)

In addition, you bring The Thief, who has infiltrated these lands as he has so many others, and knows them well, and the North-Merchant—the trader who ahs the most experience with the surface-mammals of the Northlands, as his title indicates.

There remains one more question, though…

What face will you wear?
>You and your retinue will all travel in disguise, wearing Amulets to mask your identities and to appear comfortingly ‘humanoid’
>You will wear the guise of Long Wang, and Ekaterine shall wear her true face, and the rest may appear as they wish
>You will all travel under banner of Bloodrise and in your true forms—let the humans see you s you really are, without the burden of deception!

Is there anyone else you wish to bring?
[I realize I was a bit off-my-game yesterday, and neglected to include perfectly sensible (of complicated) options like…]
>One or more wyrmlings [specify who]
>The Pit-guard’s Apprentice
>The Lightning Elemental
>The Occultist
>The Hunter
>The Translator
>your current party is fine as-is

[Other options are also viable, with the exceptions of your Regents, the Bugbear Boss, Hamaraska the Lancer (babysitting any sons you don’t bring), The Fleshweaver/Serpent Queen, and Glowie]
>>
>>5692671
>You will all travel under banner of Bloodrise and in your true forms—let the humans see you as you really are, without the burden of deception!
This option won because people wanted to be the face of Bloodrise, so using a disguise or fake face seems to defeat the point.

Bring Natvodosk and the Translator
>>
>>5692671
>You and your retinue will all travel in disguise, wearing Amulets to mask your identities and to appear comfortingly ‘humanoid’

>The Occultist
We should discuss the Iri situation.

>>5692706
Support his picks as well.
>>
>>5692671
>You will wear the guise of Long Wang, and Ekaterine shall wear her true face, and the rest may appear as they wish

>Natvodosk
>Translator
>>
>>5692671
>>You will wear the guise of Long Wang, and Ekaterine shall wear her true face, and the rest may appear as they wish
>your current party is fine as-is
>>
>>5692671
>You will all travel under banner of Bloodrise and in your true forms—let the humans see you s you really are, without the burden of deception!
I'm surprised this is even is a choice, what even is the point of trying to open diplomatic channels and encourage trade if we start with a deception that's gonna fall apart so easily with continued contact?
>No one else
>>
>>5692842
>I'm surprised this is even is a choice
[You DO have the option to only appear to outsiders in human guise, or to hide Ekaterine's actual identity, which are options which have downsides and risks but also upsides and can delay or shield you against certain repercusions which come from revealing the truth.]
>>
>>5692671
>You will all travel under banner of Bloodrise and in your true forms—let the humans see you as you really are, without the burden of deception!

Better to rip the bandaid off.

>The Elemental
>The Occultist
>>
>>5692671
>>You and your retinue will all travel in disguise, wearing Amulets to mask your identities and to appear comfortingly ‘humanoid’.


>The Lightning Elemental
>The Occultist
>>
>>5692706
>>5692733
>>5692753
>>5692781
>>5692842
>>5692877
>>5693243
[I'm going to make the (I think reasonable) inference that the "full disguise" voters would at least want SOME disguise, and for lack of a clear majority tally these votes together. Update coming!]
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>>5693382
While you know the time has at long last come to step into the light and formally acknowledge your Dark Kingdom, you are less certain about revealing the true face of its King. Queen Ekaterine is an asset in her true shape, of course—the greatest you have—but eve if you are to come forward as ‘Theral’, you somehow feel that Long Wang’s face is likely a better first impression.

Ekaterine, surprisingly, disagrees.

“You should have more faith in people, and in yourself,” she tells you gently. “I know you have been, ah, ostracized… But it is better that they see you as you TRULY are than to begin negotiations with this… this IMMEDIATE lie.”

You humour your Beloved One, promising to consider the Human Queen’s words… But your mind is already made up. Your skilled team of elven tailors and dwarven armourers modify your armour to fit your human guise and, once more, you don the Amulet of Disguise and assume the form of the mysterious (but vitally still HUMAN) Easterling, ‘Long Wang’, whose false face you wore when first you met your bride. As you look into the mirror and smile—a charming expression rather than an unnatural and forced bearing of carnivorous teeth—you know you’ve made the right choice.

Whatever the Fleshweaver might believe f you, you are no naïve fool. Whatever Eka might believe of the world, you know the truth: deceit is the better part of diplomacy.
>>
>>5693403
To that end, you decide to bring your ‘youngest’ child, Natvodosk, with you as well.

“Hmmm?” Glowie hums thoughtfully. “If you want, you could bring them all—it would be good for them to get out and zee more of the world with their father, yezz?”

You temper your other wyrmling sons’ excitement, feeling a little guilty to only choose the one. The choice is not born of favouritism, though, but pure pragmatism. Your insect-spawned princelings are still very much children, whatever their size, and some are of questionable intelligence. Natvodosk, in his account of the Dwarf War, demonstrated two key traits: an aptitude for deception, and the ability to count. In trade-diplomacy, these skills are key.

(And anyway, you can JUST about wrangle a single wyrm on your own—with all nine, the chances of some important diplomat being devoured increases exponentially.)

Nat, for his part, expresses no obvious excitement. He scuttles after you with quiet curiosity—as he approaches so many other things. Of all your sons, you think this ‘Unknowable One’ is the most Reptilian in demeanour… Or perhaps simply the best at pretending. Still, his queer bug-eyes twitch his head turning this way and that, as you take him beyond the confines of your arthropod heirs’ usual domain.

“A-ah, me, Superior One?”

“Dragon King,” you correct the Occultist—the young Dragonblooded female who you picked up as an advisor on matters demonic, necromantic, and elemental. “Yes. You and the Translator. It will be important to have mystical and cultural knowledge at my beck-and-call as we enter negotiations. There is ever the risk of… Misunderstandings, and a second pair of eyes attuned to the arcane will be vital.”

Perhaps she could your Natvodosk as well? He does have that eerie demeanour f a natural mage… You think? Maybe he’s just strange and quiet… But he IS your cleverest son, and both you and (as you’ve learned) your Degenerate mother were possessed of an uncharacteristic mystical aptitude.
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>>5693405
Your assemble your forces and depart your kingdom at dawn, making the most of the famous sunrise which gives the Bloodrise its name. Ekaterine audibly gasps, and clutches to your hand. Though smaller, weaker, and without natural weapons, you have to admit—there is something especially intimate about being able to easily and casually intertwine fingers in your human guise.

“It’s beautiful!” Eka enthuses.

“I told you ssso,” you lightly tease.

All together, your party is as follows: the Archer, the Thief, the Duelist, the North-Merchant, the Occultist, the Translator, and Natvodosk the Unknowable, plus yourself and your Human Queen. Most of the Reptilians in your party wear disguises, following your lead; only the Occultist and the Translator decline, when given the option… Well, and Olu, but he looks human enough already.

“Disguise this?” the Duelist asks, when you offer to have something crafted to hide her pale hair, purple eyes, and pitch-black hide. “I would be practically sabotaging the mission, hiding this beauty!”

You offer no commentary, refusing to take the elf’s bait. Besides… Well, she’s humanoid enough, and has that uncanny symmetry and grace of all elves, which humans in particular seem to love.

(Not that you don’t see the appeal, yourself…)

Natvodosk… Well, there is no easily hiding him. The Novice has done so before, for his mother, but to craft him an Amulet of Disguise would take a great deal of time and resources, and would deprive him of all his natural weaponry and armour. Learning how to navigate in a bipedal, two-armed form would take even LONGER for the Young One, so used to his four legs, four arms, and wings. He will have to make do as your party’s most evident ‘muscle’ instead—a menacing role which, you sense, he understands and relishes to some extent with a hatchling’s characteristic malicious mischief.

With your party assembled, and your preparations made, the next question arises: wherefore do you travel?
>Redwell has the most formal ties to Hawksong—its Baron is even a cousin of Eka—and the strongest military presence, and winning them over would make the strongest statement
>Blackpine is the weakest, and could be more easily bribed or coerced into alliance… And has the most farmland, which you desperately need
>Sunset Lake has fish, and fresh water, and the largest population—as well as the most active trade in manufactured goods and rarities, making it especially attractive economically
>>
>>5693406
>>Sunset Lake
Immediate food and trade. We don't want to risk a military encounter until we can feed our current troops. We also don't have people to spare for farming but we do have all the dwarf's mineral wealth.
>>
>>5693406
>Blackpine is the weakest, and could be more easily bribed or coerced into alliance… And has the most farmland, which you desperately need
mmm farmland

>>5693410
>wanting the territory with the greatest of foes, who routinely humiliates us
self sabotage
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>>5693406
>Blackpine

Easily wins help momentum - and it’ll be easier to convince the other human realms once we have an ‘in’
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>>5693406
>>Blackpine is the weakest, and could be more easily bribed or coerced into alliance… And has the most farmland, which you desperately need

Food is important
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>>5693406
>Blackpine is the weakest, and could be more easily bribed or coerced into alliance… And has the most farmland, which you desperately need

Makes the most sense to me. Once we have a sufficient food supply, growing our numbers will make sense and we can take on bigger challenges.
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>>5693410
>>5693427
>>5693452
>>5693490
>>5693875
[Blackpine it is! Writing.]
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>>5694097
Your main priority is food, and so your first and foremost destination must be Blackpine. With its wide swathes of land—forested and farmed, it is ideal as a place to settle your people for farming—or simply to extract food FROM in trade. The barony is less powerful militarily, economically, and thus politically, but its weakness is your opportunity—for conquest if it comes to it, but also from trade and diplomacy, since those who have less already are easier to win over with the promise of more. You learned this in Wevenore, and it is a lesson you have retained.

“Brunus of Blackpine is a lot like you, in some ways,” Queen Ekaterine notes. “Well… In interests, at least. I only met him once, when I was quite young, but I remember he was quite the avid hunter. It reminds me of those stories you told me on the road of, ah, the Devourer was it? And the Shoggoth, and Ghoul King?”

“Ghoul Ssupreme” you gently correct her. “I don’t think their race holds any sort of ranksss.”

You cringe a little at the reminder of the Shoggoth, from whom you took one of your finest weapons—now lost to the terrifying depths of the high seas. You would never admit it aloud, but this is part of the reason you chose Blackpine rather than wealthy Sunset Lake, where you could make more varied and lucrative trades—the lake’s waters themselves, which set you ashiver even to think of.

“…Are you cold, Theral?” Eka asks solicitously.

“I have a tincture for that,” the occultist volunteers. “It hasss only minor chanccce of demonic corruption.”

“No,” you state firmly, “I am fine.”
>>
>>5694110
As you make your way down foothills and scarcely-walked mountain-paths, you consider how you will make your approach, and sell yourself to this Blackpine Baron and his people. You have no shortage of time to think—the trek overland is scarcely easier than through the underdark in this rough and sparsely-settled land. In part this is to your advantage—you encounter no humans or other surface-dwellers who might raise alarms or present difficulties. On the other hand, it means slower progress, and the creeping chill of late autumn seeps into your skin and down into the lizard part of you, making you wince in spite of the warmth of your firelung. Your fellows feel it even more, especially Natvodosk, who chitters and chatters at every night’s breeze on your multi-day trek.

It is, you note, a very different and WETTER cold than the underdark is normally afflicted with, though it seems more to Eka’s liking.

Still, the woodlands are not without their charms. The scent of the pines is rich and sweet on the wind. The trees are not balck as the barony's name might suggest, but their needles are of a somewhat bluer tincture than you are accustomed to from the other regions of the woodland, and the bushes are often a deep black or blue, and bear golden and red berries. There are small game animals—enough that you begin to consider the practicalities of forgoing farming to forage, though you know it will not be as practical for a settled people once your numbers grow beyond a certain point. You have to call Nat off of rabbits and deer several time, and on at least one occasion you swear you see one of the former with the horns of the latter! Recalling the great, blue beast which you and your sons hunted many months ago, you wonder if there might be more worthy quarry as well, if you were to let <guidance> lead you to it…

What will you do?
>Hurry onto Blackpine proper—to the central keep of the Baron, where you can make your case and request hospitality
>Pay a visit to a local homestead to make the acquaintance of your locals—maybe get a feel for the culture, make a god impression, and learn about their farming techniques, as well as get out of the cold
>Rough it in the woods—some camping will build character, and present you with opportunities to train, socialize with your retinue, and maybe do some hunting
>Write-in
[Also specify if you have any specific topics of conversation or activities you wish to engage in with any member of your retinue along the way]
>>
>>5694111
>Rough it in the woods—some camping will build character, and present you with opportunities to train, socialize with your retinue, and maybe do some hunting

>Make a military assessment of the terrain here, just in case

>Spend time with Nat hunting and talking in sign-language- he will likely not be very involved in your negotiations
>>
>>5694111
>Pay a visit to a local homestead to make the acquaintance of your locals—maybe get a feel for the culture, make a god impression, and learn about their farming techniques, as well as get out of the cold

If we're going to make a good impression, roughing it before we meet doesn't seem like a good idea. We can try it on the way back.
>>
>>5694124
supportin' that
>>
>>5694115
+1
>>
>>5694115
>>5694124
>>5694216
>>5694679
[I'm a bit exhausted and sleepy for some reason depression I think but if we get a tiebreaker before bed I'll try to do a post!]
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>>5694961
I'll break it by choosing >>5694124 this one then.
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>>5694961
Take your time QM.
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>>5694964
>>5694679
>>5694216
>>5694124
>>5694115
While there’s a distinct appeal to roughing it in the woods with your followers, friends, and family—and certainly things to be learned in the process—you worry a little about how such rough living might affects your coterie’s appearance and attitude. If you’re to make a good first impression, might it not be better to be refreshed and ready, and with your attire in good order?

“Warmth ISSS better,” the Occultist agrees.

“A wise deccisssion,” concurs the Translator

“No argument here,” sniffs Azonia the Duelist.

You catch the elf fidgeting with her rather tacky and piecemeal attire, gaily adorned with stolen fabrics woven and tied together in a panoply of colours across her thin silk undershirt, with only strategic patches of armour designed not to impede movement—and especially to dazzle as she slices and dices in her dazzling sword-style. She IS a noblewoman where she hails from, you suppose—in fact, MOST of those accompanying you are nobles, royals, or scholars. Maybe a camping trip was a far-fetched notion…

“That’s a shame, I rather like this countryside…”

Ekaterine’s enthusiasm for the outdoors surprises you, especially given her sheltered life and the rather rough time she had to the journey from Hawksong to Bloodrise.

“Theral,” she says gently, “trekking through Hellish darkness for a week while bruised and battered, with stoney MONSTERS ever on my mind, is one thing. A nice little nature hike is NOTHING after that! And anyway, I’ve never SEEN so many plants and animals!”

Well, you can’t argue with that—though the underdark has long been your dwelling-place, you have ALSO preferred the surface ever since you first glimpsed its wonders.

“I can’t say I mind either way,” the North-Merchant eventually volunteers, perhaps emboldened by all the high-bloods offering up their own unsolicited opinions, “but a home or farm offers many more economic opportunities.”

You’re not so sure any farmesteaders out in these relative boonies will have much in the way of trade… Except, perhaps, information, and goodwill. Though if you wish to establish such goodwill to begin with…
>>
>>5694995
‘I not come with?’ Natvodosk signs.

You can’t tell if your son is disappointed or upset, or simply seeking clarification—his dragon-like face does not move or emote as even other Reptilians, and his body language is still somewhat foreign to you. Even his other siblings are more expressive, and easily read with Reptilian Empathy if it comes down to it, but your Unknowable Prince is ever shrouded from even this empathic sense.

“You are great and terrible,” you compliment him, “a mighty warrior of a proud dynasty, designed by fate and the Dark Divines to devour and destroy.”

‘Yes, yes!’ he signs, accentuating it with a single proud chirrup.

“Sso little mammalsss will be sscared of you,” you explain.

‘I understand,’ he signs back.

“Guard Queen Ekaterine,” you command him instead. “And you too, Duelissst.”

The Drow draws and raises a sword in a single smooth motion of salute before twirling it and returning it to its hidden sheathe among her fabrics.

It would be folly to make your initial introduction with Nat at your side, unfortunately. You DO plan to introduce him with the rest of your retinue, but maybe not to a small family of simple farmers. Instead, you have him hang back, along with those Reptilians who remain undisguised, and the Drow. You, the Thief, The North-Merchant, and of course your Archer approach first…

But perhaps even this party is more strange than you had really considered.

The farm is an isolated patch of cleared land within the woods, fenced-in with crude-but-sturdy woodwork made form local materials and made home to a variety of ungulates: many bovids from cows to sheep and goats, and suideans as well. In addition, these people keep small hutches of a groundbird you do not recognize from your stay in Hawksong—not a chicken, but something more akin to a grouse or quail—and you see a stable and smell the manure of some form of equid. All the animals are rather more earthy—shoddy and natty, really—than what you saw among the homes and markets in humanity’s ‘shining city’, and less meaty besides. The buildings are likewise more roughshod than you’re used to-not rickety or patched-together as with the remnants of Goblintown, where you had your first ‘date’ with Eka, but not as homely or warm as Sparrowton’s farmhouses.

“Frontier living,” Olu acknowledges. “In the Southlands, where the winters aren’t so harsh, the humans simply erect tents or thatch-houses… Or even keep their caravans moving, to avoid gnolls.”

“Not much risk of gnoll-attack here,” the North-Merchant notes, cheerfully.

“There’s nowhere quite like this ‘frontier’ in the East, where I was stationed,” the Thief chimes in—the first thing he has said in a while. “Civilization is old there, at least by ape standards.”
>>
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>>5694997
You stride in kingly fashion to the door, triggering cries of confusion and alarm from the animals at your unfamiliar presence as you approach. You don’t even get a chance to knock when a burly, bearded man—shorter than you, but not by much, and broad enough to be a bugbear—shoves open the door and nearly knocks you over with its wide and powerful arc. He grips a thick-headed axe in one hand, as he glanced through squinting eyes at the lot of you and chews his beard.

“The hell are you doing on my land?” he demands—not malicious, but certainly not welcoming as you might have hoped. “Who are you? Circus?”

His eye settle on your ornate armour, and take quick stock of your artisanal array of unusual armaments.

“Oh,” he growls, “adventurers.”

“We are—” you begin.

“Can handle my own bloody goblins and dire-rats, thanks,” he interrupts, beginning to shut the door. “Don’t have no quests for you, bloody freeloading ragamuffin good-for-nothing—”

You grab the door in one hand, preventing its closure. The man heaves with a bit more force, but I clearly surprised at your strength. Rather than put his back into it and give you actual challenge, he regards you more closely.

"We are not adventurersss."

“Easterling, are you?” he asks. “Brought some nancies and a Southman, too, I see. What do you want, Easterling?”

>Intimidate him—you’re here to sue his lodgings and restock supplies and, for his rudeness, he’d best oblige you—Theral, King of Bloodrise!
>You’re hoping for a place to stay the night, but you don’t mean to impose upon him—you’ll gladly work to earn your keep and a meal
>Charm him—compliment his resourcefulness, his obvious strength, and offer him some of the treasure you brought to help improve it still further if he will but let you and your retinue stay
>You’re annoyed now—thrash this man and take what you will [specify if you kill him, or how badly you injure him]
>Write-in
>>
>>5694999
>Press him for lodgings under your guise as a visiting foreign noble, offering to pay a comparatively-generous sum for use of spare spaces and extra rations if necessary

A combination of social pressure, intimidation and compensation will work best, I think.
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>>5695047
>>5694999
+1
What little we have on us would be more than a frontiersman would likely make in a year.
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>>5695047
let's do that
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>>5694999
>>5695047
best option
>>
Rolled 17, 8, 8, 19 = 52 (4d20)

>>5695047
>>5695062
>>5695156
>>5695614
“I am… A visssiting nobleman, from elssewhere” you say, elegantly underplaying your status and avoiding mentioning your kingdom so as to avoid overplaying your hand. “I am prepared to pay generousssly for lodgingss for me and my companions.”

“Pfah,” the man huffs. “Came out here to get away from ‘noblemen’.”

“The compensssation—”

“—is generous. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah. Not everyone an be bought, your high-and-mightiness.”

Your hand twitches towards your sword at his impudence—a gesture which doesn’t go unnoticed by the woodsman’s bulging eyes. His own grip tightens on his axe…
>>
>>5695684
“Daddy?”

You restrain your half-roused bloodlust and tamp it back down at the sound of the high voice. The woodsman, too, freezes. He pivots, just slightly, and you peer past him, to see a small and pink-skinned little human—female, you think—with long hair and wide eyes, staring in a mix of fear and fascination at you.

“Get back in side, Chestnut,” the old man gruffly instructs the little girl.

“…Chestnut?” Olu asks, with an arched eyebrow.

“Pet name,” the Thief surmises. “A form of hu—of Northern affection.”

“I am inside, Daddy,” protests this little ‘Chestnut’ of a child.

“FURTHER inside, dangit!” the bearded frontier farmer bellows, and his diminutive spawn scampers away.

>19

You relax slightly, recognizing in this man a familiar instinct—love. He has loved ones inside (at least one, probably more) and wishes to protect them. To him, you are a band of strange foreigners—ha! if he only knew HOW strange—and he fears for his females and his spawn. You think of Eka in the woods, and relate immediately.

“My coin will buy many amenitiessss for the girl, and for any otherss you keep dear,” you say softly, “and my men shall be on their bessst behaviour. You have my word… Asss a father mysseelf.”

Something about your tone and demeanour must get through to him. He looks at you with that squinting expression again, as if trying to awaken his own empathic sense. You sincerely doubt he has one, but keep yoru aura and expression palcid and enarest, just in acse. Eventually, he seems to be satisfied.

“Fine,” he mumbles, and opens his door. “Got room on the floor. No spare rooms. Not running an inn here.”

“Underssstandable,” you say, with a polite half-bow of your head. “I thank you for your hospitality, Sssir…?”

“Sir?” he laughs—a single loud, off-putting bark. “None of that. Cliff. Name’s Cliff.”

“Theral,” you say, and bid your North-Merchant to produce some gold and gems for the man—just a few, but more money than you suspect the human has seen in his whole life, “and I would requessst use of your ssstabless asss well.”

By the expression on his face, you suspect this won’t be a problem. Good—you doubt Nat would be welcome in the house, and aren’t even yet sure you want this skittish creature to see your rather spooky son.
>>
>>5695694
It turns out that Cliff has an entire brood of females: Clarice (16), Chantel (12), Candance (11) and Chelsea (‘Chestnut’, age 4), as well as a mate—wife, rather—named Cynthia. They work together as unit to provide food and prepare bedding for you. They aren’t the most well-oiled machine you’ve ever seen, but their bickering and bumping into one another all seems to be part of some system that, in the end, produces quite pleasant amenities under the primitive circumstances.

“Women,” Cliff half-apologizes. “You know.”

“I do,” you agree, reflecting on your wives eccentricities, “though I have only sssonsss.”

In the end, what these human females produce is certainly better than anything you ever ate and more comfortable than anywhere you ever slept in your youth, and fresher than any food in Bloodrise or even in Hawksong despite their outward paucity and poverty.

For your part you…
>Invite the remainder of your party inside
>Introduce Eka, but have the rest remain in the barn to hide their inhumanity
>Leave Natvodosk in the barn alone, but invite in the ‘humanoid party-members
>Instruct the others to remain hidden in the barn—you’ll purchase them food, and ask Olu to deliver it

What will you discuss with this earthy human male?
>Family matters—women, children, fatherhood, etcetera
>Blackpine’s common-folk and their lifeways, as well as the local ecology
>The Baron and his family—what is Brunus and his court like?
>The rumours of monsters in the Bloodrise
>The man’s distaste for nobility and civilized society—what’s up with that?

[Write-ins welcome]
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>>5695697
[Oh, and for subjects, please try not to choose more than two or three. have mercy on your weary QM.]
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>>5695697
>Leave Natvodosk in the barn alone, but invite in the ‘humanoid' party-members

There's a limit to what can be explained away as "Eastern eccentricity".


>Blackpine’s common-folk and their lifeways, as well as the local ecology

"New environment" for a traveler, totally innocent question.


>The Baron and his family—what is Brunus and his court like?

It's who we're here to visit.


>The rumours of monsters in the Bloodrise

Interested to see what the reactions are closer to Bloodrise.


>The man’s distaste for nobility and civilized society—what’s up with that?

"We do things differently in the East; men become nobles through strength of arms and wisdom, not gold. Is that not the way you do it here in the North?"

In general, this is how we can lure humans to follow us out of their feudal system and into our more centralized one- we can promise quality of governance.

Sorry to hear you've been feeling down, RQM. I've been following you for awhile now and every post makes my day, so I hope you recognize what an awesome writer and cool person you are.
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>>5695708
Ah, in light of the three subject restriction, I'd say the Baron, Monster, and distaste for nobility would be my top three.
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>>5695697
>In the end, what these human females produce is certainly better than anything you ever ate
weren't we a guest of the royal family? they should fire their chef team

>Invite the remainder of your party inside
We can call Nat an exotic pet

>The Baron and his family—what is Brunus and his court like?
>Blackpine’s common-folk and their lifeways, as well as the local ecology
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>>5695718
>In the end, what these human females produce is certainly better than anything you ever ate, and more comfortable than anywhere you ever slept, in your youth
[Sorry, I felt there were too many commas in the sentence and I guess I overdid it. I meant to imply merely that it was better than anything you ate until, say, age 18 or 19, when the quest began.]
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>>5695708
Thanks, anon. You folks are tops. Don't know about being a cool person, but I'm glad the quest is till fun for you who players.
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>>5695721
I see how those go together now
The royal chef team may remain unfired
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>>5695697
>>Introduce Eka, but have the rest remain in the barn to hide their inhumanity
It would be a bit crowded inside otherwise.

>The man’s distaste for nobility and civilized society—what’s up with that?
This will likely give is insight into blackpine's court.

>Family matters—women, children, fatherhood, etcetera
We could always use the advice from the clearly experienced.

>Blackpine’s common-folk and their lifeways, as well as the local ecology
Some insight into our potentially new territory or trading partners.
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>>5695763
>>5695718
>>5695709
>>5695708
[If we don't have a tie-breaker soonish, I'll probably post later in the day. I've been invited on a family walk.]
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>>5695708
This >>5695763 except
>Leave Natvodosk in the barn alone, but invite in the ‘humanoid party-members
Unless it's actually as crowded as anon said.
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>>5696061
>>5695763
>>5695718
>>5695709
[Alright, writing!]
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>>5696064
As you and your retinue enjoy the meal, you cannot help but nervously glance towards the barn one, or twice, or maybe thrice. You find yourself wishing the Centipede Lancer was with you, to supervise Natvodosk the Unknowable. You’ve left the wyrm alone in the barn, having paid extra for some feed you hope will be suitable for his rather mysterious dietary preferences, and with strict instructions not to supplement that rather bestial fare with an actual beast. Things are going rather smoothly, after all—you’d hate to have an incident, should your offspring decide to eat a horse or goat.

The rest of your retinue are on their best behaviour, of course. That entails Amulets of Disguise for every Reptilian, to help keep things civil and avoid awkward questions. Your other retinue-members hide behind suitably pale and ruddy faces, suitable to the local human subrace. This, in turn, makes Azonia and Olu stand out most of all, as the most exotic individuals. The Duelist in particular becomes an object of rapt fascination for the younger children of your host, who seem to regard the beautiful elven warrior woman with a hero’s reverence.

“Where are you from?” asks Chantel.

“Wevenore,” she answers easily in her (admittedly accented) Northern Common-tongue. “The Oasis of Silk and Crystal, on the shores of the Black Spring.”

“That sounds preeeetty!” Candance gushes.

Azonia chin, rolling her eyes up and to the side in thought, and concludes: “It really depends how good your Darkvision is, and how you feel about spiders.”

This draws some shrieks of hybrid alarm-and-amusement from the girls, who demand details—which the Duelist seems to take cruel pleasure in answering only with vague explanations, so as to further pique their interest and raise further questions.

“Why are you black?” asks ‘Chestnut’, most blatantly, holding up her hand and wondering at the contrast between her own skin and that of the elf.

“CHELSEA!” her mother cries, and looks apologetic, but the Duelist merely laughs.

“Can I see your sword?” Clarice, the oldest, asks.

The Duelist narrows her eyes and smirks slightly and, after getting wordless permission from the girls’ parents and from you, produces one of her blades.

“Spotted that, did you?” she asks. “Good eye, for a human! But did you see… THIS one?”

When the second blade comes out, the girls shriek again—a sound that hurts your ears a little, and crowd around.

“Girls,” Cliff mutters again.

“I must admit, it’s not the stereotype one has of little girls where I am from,” Queen Ekaterine notes, watching the proceedings with clear fondness.

“Don’t pin this on me and mine,” Cliff’s mate, Cynthia, interjects as she tidies up the dishes from dinner. “You’re the one who raises them like boys.”
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>>5696117
Cliff grunts and shrugs noncommittally, and hands her his bowl without looking away from his gaggle of giggling daughters and their new idol. The dishes are heavy-duty but well-sanded woodwork, carefully maintained for reuse, with just BARELY enough bowls to go around with all your attendants herein assembled in the somewhat-crowded space. The home itself is obvious handcrafted, the work of years and of a vast array of common, practical skills refined to quiet, understated perfection—all made by this male, with great love, for these females of his.

“Had to, didn’t I?” he eventually muses. “There’s work to be done, and no sons to do it. When there’s things to be done, and they’ve got to do it, you raise them to be what they need to be.”

You nod, thinking of the wyrmlings, and of your children to come—those gestating even now inside the Seprent Queen and Human Queen, Eka and Sseztlussth. What must they each be? Will each be a ruler, or will they follow other paths? What do you envision for them?

“Must be nice, having sons?”

Cliff asks the question of you and—you realize—Ekaterine. You exchange a look, the Human Queen of Bloodrise blushing and stammering.

“My ssonss are from another marriage,” you explain, placing your hand upon Ekaterine’s own. “Though we are exxxpecting.”

The woman of the house scrunches up her nose in distaste before she manages to hide it—for polygamy, perhaps?—but Cliff just nods and says nothing. You reflect on is question, and on your now war-blooded warrior sons, and again think of Nat in the barn.

“It iss good, though,” you agree. “They are very capable already, dessspite being sso young. They will be fine… Men.”

Cliff nods again, towards his daughters, and admits with poorly-hidden affection: “Mine are ‘capable’, too, I suppose.”

“Sso learning ssome Dark Elven sswordplay iss no issue, then?” you ask.

Cliff shrugs again.

“Good for a girl to know how to defend herself,” he answers, though he frowns as the Duelist displays her subtle, inhumanly-elegant sword-style—slowed down and made gentle for demonstrative purposes. “Just as long as they don’t get too fancy with it. No room for fanciness, out here in Blackpine.”

That much certainly seems to be the case, and segues nicely into your intelligence-gathering phase of this operation.

“What iss life like, out here in Blackpine?” you inquire.

“Quiet,” Cliff answers. “Respectable. A man works for what he has up here—or a woman or a girl does, I suppose—and keeps what he works for. Simple as.”

“Busy,” Cynthia answers from her wash-barrel, with some weariness. “Rewarding, but there’s always something to do. No one to lean on to do it for you, if you don’t.”
>>
>>5696119
“O-oh!” Ekaterine stands up suddenly. “I can help, if—?”

“I won’t say no,” says the lady of the house, as Ekaterine rises and fumblingly offers her flailing, ill-experienced aid in cleaning up.

Your other attendants exchange looks, and then look to you. You realize with a start that you have volunteered no assistance, nor has anyone else in your party, and aren’t sure whether to express remorse or not. You are visiting dignitaries, after all, but you are also guests. You look to Cliff questioningly, who shrugs again.

“Doesn’t look like your woman—your lady, rather—has ever touched a dish in her life. If the others are better than her at it, have at it.”

You nod to your retinue, who hop to it, helping to tidy the cabin and to attend to the many mundane necessities which seem to characterize life on this frontier of humanity. In the meantime, you follow Cliffs lead—a fellow patriarch—and remain seated, extracting further information on the local ecology and societal organization. It seems that Cliff’s family is acquainted somewhat with scattered other households and farmsteads like this one, though his is uncommonly isolated—many more choose to live with several households butted up against one another in a village-structure, servicing communal farmsteads.

“You have no sssuch dessire for community?” you ask.

“I came to Blackpine to get AWAY from city-living,” Cliff explains. “Don’t expect I’d make for a good neighbour now… Though I guess I’ll have to re-learn a little, at least. Clarice is just about marrying age, and the only thing worse than her going away to one of the villages and my not visiting would be if she brought some other guy to live HERE, and I had to get sued to him being around always.”

“What about your Baron?” you ask. “It sseemsss he doesssn’t often enter into affairsss, from what you’ve desscribed. Doess he do sso for the villagess?”

“Ha!” Cliff barks with that strange laugh f his again. “Only when it’s winter-time and he needs food. Lazy bastard.”

You’re a little startled at his frankness, but also intrigued.

“I’d been led to believe that Baron Brunusss iss a sskilled hunter,” you note. “He cannot feed himssself?”

“Mighty fine question, Lord Theral,” Cliff agrees. “But then, tell me: are you a hunter?”

“Yesss,” you answer, quickly and proudly, reflecting back on the many mighty monsters you have felled, from the Great Devourer to the Shoggoth, the Ghoul Supreme, and on your hunt in this very area for the strange blue beats with your insectoid sons many months prior.

“Do you feed yourself?” Cliff asks bluntly. “Mostly? Catch and kill your own food? Prepare it yourself, or have your wife there prepare it? Wash up after yourself?”
>>
>>5696121
You hesitate to reply, and ok towards Ekaterine, who Cynthia is guiding methodically and tediously through her ‘assistance’ as if she were one of her own children. Your other attendants are barely better—except Olu the Archer, who takes the lead. The others stare awkward, watch, and proceed slowly. This sort of dishware is uncommon in Reptilian dining, and most of them are used to slaves attending to such matters. Eventually, Cynthia calls her daughters away from their diversion to begin teaching each of your acolytes how to properly assist in their duties, though you note the Duelist herself still makes no move to help even when relieved of babysitting duties.

“I don’t, usssually,” you admit, “but I can.”

“Maybe the Baron can, too,” Cliff says with a sniff and a mirthless smile. “Easier to have us lot do it, though. More time for his big grand hunts, and his entertaining, and his traveling, and his whatever-else that noble-folk get up to. Big things, fun things, impressive things. Not REAL things, the things that make life possible to live.”

“You don’t sseem to hold nobility in high regard,” you note.

Cliff looks at you not with any shame, but with some small realization of his rudeness, and tilts his head in half-apology. After all, you're a noble yourself!... Though, admittedly, not by birth, and not the kind of noble HE'S familiar with.
>>
>>5696125
“No offence,” he said. “Like them fine, just as long as they don’t bother me none. They don’t, up here and away from the village, not very often. And I don’t know anything about how you lot live. I know there’s a purpose to nobles and knights and all that—keeping us safe from whatever. Enemies and goblins and orcs and whatever else has been rumbling up in the mountains…”

He trails off, glancing towards Bloodrise. You say nothing—it’s not a subject you necessarily want to broach, uniquely knowledgeable though you are on that of which he now speaks.

“Mostly, though, we handle our own matters here,” Cliff concludes. “Baron does likewise, and that’s fine… And I guess having him around means there’s a main castle-town to sell stuff in, and buy stuff from, when we can’t make it ourselves. Medicines and stuff. And wedding dresses, before long—Cynthia can sew, but damned if I have any fine white cloth here. Reckon I’ll spend some of the coin you left here on that. Maybe even pay someone to do it up fancy, if Cynthia doesn’t insist on doing it herself. Complains about being busy, and then turns around and…”

He pauses, and shrugs.

“Women.”

You nod, thinking of the Serpent Queen and her protestations even as she renders you aid.

“Women,” you agree.

Do you have any other specific questions for Cliff, Cynthia, or their daughters, or anything else you wish to do before night falls?
>Write-in
>No

What is your impression of this family, their lifestyle, and the local culture?
>Cliff and his family seem admirable, and you could stand to learn from them
>It seems a bit sad and lonesome to live like this, and you wish to see the villages he speaks of
>The Baron sounds more like your sort of guy, and you're looking forward to seeing his keep
>Write-in
>>
>>5696127
>>Cliff and his family seem admirable, and you could stand to learn from them
>>
>>5696127
>no
>The Baron sounds more like your sort of guy, and you're looking forward to seeing his keep
>>
>>5696127
>no

>It seems a bit sad and lonesome to live like this

But keep that thought to ourselves

>The Baron sounds more like your sort of guy, and you're looking forward to seeing his keep

If only because we share a love of ruling and hunting
>>
>>5696127
> No

> There is something admirable to this way of life, perhaps you could even learn something from them that could apply in your own life. It is not to your desire, however, it is the Baron who seems to share your tastes and you're looking forward to seeing his keep.
A more nuances take is warranted I feel.
>>
Rolled 1, 10, 3 = 14 (3d20)

>>5696197
>>5696203
>>5696244
>>5696254
You suppose you can respect the way this ‘Cliff’ fellow and his family live. It’s honestly sort of admirable, and he has skills you simply lack… But it’s not for you. Cutting through the haze of the frontiersman’s biases, you can already tell that Baron Brunus has much more in common with you. He is a higher-level thinker, it seems, with a passion for the hunt! Even as Cliff frames the man and his court negatively, you’re excited to meet the worldly, well-connected fun-loving human ruler he describes! It is only out of politeness you avoid saying so—just as you avoid criticizing your host’s unconventional life-choices.

Night comes quickly after that—a flash of red light from the setting sun, and then it’s gone, behind the mountains. Your kingdom casts long shadows, and the darkness brought on in Bloodrise’s shade brings you a kind of comfort. Your Reptilian retinue complain quietly about being forced to serve humans—let alone commoners—but all ultimately see the wisdom of blending in and being unobtrusive…

Which only makes what comes next more galling.
>>
>>5696312
>1
Your travels must have tired you, for when you awaken to the scream, you find your <Danger Sense> is already signaling a sort of alarm—one you slept through. You rouse yourself and your allies, though many have already sprung to their feet and drawn weapons. So too do you hear the rustling and heated panicked exchanges between your hosts in the Common-tongue, as they count all their members…

“Chestnut?”

“CHELSEA!”

…And find their youngest missing. Olu the Archer is immediately at your side, and quick to point out the door is slightly ajar—just a crack, but with your superior darkvision, you all see it clear as day even as the humans fumble around for a light.

“Theral?” whispers Eka from your side. “What is going on?”

You can’t be sure of specifics, but you immediately have SOME idea, for the sound is coming from the direction of the barn… Where you left your ‘pack animals’ (ie. your enormous arthropod spawn), safe from sight. You hear barking and baying, as of one of the family’s working hounds, from the same direction you heard the scream. It’s easy enough to work out the broad strokes of what’s happened: a dog happening upon Natvodosk in the barn and became alarmed; the youngest daughter of this family went out to investigate, and discovered the same horrifying (to her) sight.

But the dog abruptly stops barking with a yelp… And no more screams come from the barn, from the girl or otherwise.

“Theral?”

"Dragonborn?"

"What do we do?"

You narrow your eyes. This is about to get complicated, fast. You need to act. What will you do?
>Hurry to the barn, and see if your son has yet killed this daughter-of-man—maybe the situation can still be salvaged?
>It’s time to leave—now, fast, before things escalate to a conflict, and under cover of night
>Your cover is blown, and it’s time for damage control—you need to kill the witnesses, lest you be tied to any unfortunateness here
>Send one of the others [who?] to investigate the situation while you use diplomacy (or even the <Voice of the Metatron>) to keep the humans calm
>Write-in
>>
>>5696317
>Hurry to the barn, and see if your son has yet killed this daughter-of-man—maybe the situation can still be salvaged?

Oh boy
If she dead/maimed

>Your cover is blown, and it’s time for damage control—you need to kill the witnesses, lest you be tied to any unfortunateness here
>>
>>5696317
>Hurry to the barn, and see if your son has yet killed this daughter-of-man—maybe the situation can still be salvaged?

Man, what a shit series of rolls. Here's hoping Nat can control himself.
>>
>>5696362
Supporting

He’s intelligent and we told him no eating anything
>>
>>5696317
>>Hurry to the barn
>>5696418
Not eating, isn't not killing though.
We should hurry and assess the situation.
Worst case we tell Nat to run and wait in the forest and pretend it was a monster.
>>
>>5696428
>>5696418
>>5696362
>>5696333
You hurry to the barn automatically, worst case scenarios spiralling through your imagination. Nat is intelligent, you remind yourself, not some simple animal… But HOW intelligent? He can ‘speak’ sign language, he can count to ten (or at least knows the sign for ‘ten’), but he IS also less than a year old in sire of his size, his strength, and his unsettling and vaguely intellectual demeanour. You told him not to EAT anything without permission while you stayed here, but is he OBEDIENT in your absence? And will he naturally make the jump form ‘no eating farm animals’ to ‘no killing humans’?

The sick feeling in your stomach turns to full nausea when you see the blood.

Fur, splayed guts, and fur are splattered like a goblinoid’s paint-job across the wall and ceiling, and the bisected (tri-sected?) main body of a farm-dog lays there in mangled chunks before you. You follow the trail to where Natvodosk has huddled into a corner, instinctively hiding away from you as you enter… No, not hiding per se. LURKING. Readying an ambush. Only when he recognizes you does he relax… Though some tension returns as you spy the bits of bloody meat hanging from his crocodilian mandibles.

“…Unknowable Wyrm.”

Natvodosk signs to you, measured in his motions but more frantic than his usual movements by some small margin: ‘Hungry! The food was bad. The thing was already dead.’

“Because you killed it,” you note, pointedly.

‘The thing hurt me! I didn’t start it.’

With obvious unhappiness to do so, your wyrm-son allows the half-eaten carcass to drop from his mouth. You take a step closer, and regard it…
>>
>>5696454
Fur. It’s part of the dog.

You release a breath in relief, but that still leaves a question unanswered.

“Where is the girl?” you whisper.

‘The human?’

“Yes,” you speak through gritted teeth, keeping your patience in check, “the little human girl. Where is she? I heard her scream.”

‘She tried to run away,’ He answers, and turns his four-eyed gaze upwards. You follow his lead, and…

“Hm.”

She is bound to the ceiling with the faintly-luminescent adhesive goo characteristic to his mother’s race. She’s alive, thankfully, though the wads of saliva-soaked silk obscure her limbs such that you cannot tell if she’s be injured. She’s certainly SCARED, though-you can see wide, tear-filled eyes, and through the half-formed cocoon you can hear her sobbing and wailing—blissfully muffled, buying you time.

What will you do?
>No witnesses can be permitted—execute ‘Chestnut’, and instruct Nat to flee into the woods and dispose of the body
>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl—you’ll have a talk with her, and see if you can smooth things over
> Maybe this is alright? If you free the girl and have Natvodosk apologize, and you pay for the mangled dog, perhaps this is actually a good chance to teach yoru Unknowable son mercy and to introduce him to cross-species diplomacy
>Fuck it, burn it all down—hide all evidence beneath a cloak of dragonfire, girl included, and leave
>Write-in
>>
>>5696455
>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl—you’ll have a talk with her, and see if you can smooth things over
or
> Maybe this is alright? If you free the girl and have Natvodosk apologize, and you pay for the mangled dog, perhaps this is actually a good chance to teach yoru Unknowable son mercy and to introduce him to cross-species diplomacy

>Apologize to the little one for the scare… and the poor puppy
>>
>>5696455
>>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl—you’ll have a talk with her, and see if you can smooth things over
>>
>>5696455
>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl—you’ll have a talk with her, and see if you can smooth things over

Sign that he needs to hide in the woods till dawn and that we’ll explain later and then put on a performance for the girl that we’re scaring the ‘beast’ off
>>
>>5696455
>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl—you’ll have a talk with her, and see if you can smooth things over
>>
>>5696455
>>Send Nat away into the woods, and free the girl
>>5696544
Agreed.
Play it off as scaring away a monster and saving the girl. Make sure Nat knows we aren't angry, just glad he didn't hurt the girl but he needs to play along and pretend to run and hide. Preferably without letting the girl know whats going on.
>>
>>5696455
This >>5696523

I don't think playing this off is the right move. The girl saw us with Nat so trying to gaslight her about us scaring the "monster" off is the wrong call, she could easily destroy such a lie. A lie that doesn't serve much purpose in comparison to the lesson that could be taught here.
>>
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>>5696523
>>5696539
>>5696544
>>5696573
>>5696655
>>5696656
You think for a moment to how to proceed. There’s no need to panic—not as long as the young female is alive—but you DO have a decision to make. Do you reveal your son (albeit maybe not that he IS your son) and have him apologize, and make amends? Or play it off somehow? How much has the girl understood of what she’s seen and heard? You spoke the True Speech, and Natvodosk was using the Drow Sign Language to communicate, but she still saw you interacting peaceably with this ‘monster’…

Then again, she IS a four-year-old, scarcely more than a hatchling… or suckling, or whatever the mammalian equivalent is.

‘Here is my plan,’ you sign to you son.

You slowly and methodically making the hand-gestures which form the dark elves’ silent speech t make sure the message is properly conveyed. In truth, you are less-adept at this than your spawn, who are juveniles and alien-minded, but have the benefit of youthful intellectual vigor and a Drow tutor. Nat watches you keenly, head tilting in a mirror of your own natural gesture of confusion and interest as you explain the plan.

‘I am monster?’ he asks.

‘You must play the part,’ you answer, and then append: ‘I am not angry. It is just a game.’

Natvodosk chirps and trills, trialing off into the happy hum of his mother’s race.

‘A game with Father!’

You find your heart curiously warmed at this excitement, despite the… Unfortunate circumstances. It’s time to play your part in the pantomime, though, and so you draw your moon-blade. You hold the single-edged elven blade aloft, letting it absorb some of the energies of the heavenly body above and hold the full attention of the captive girl, and shift languages to one she’ll understand:

“With all the magickss of my dissstant land, in the name of the sstarsss and the moon, and what lurkss Beyond, BEGONE, foul beassst!”

Natvodosk chirrups cheerfully (a tone you’re familiar with, but you hope that ‘Chestnut’ will interpret as fear) and hops back. Intuitng the nature of your ‘game’, he shrinks away, scampers in a circle, even rolls over as if toppled by some unseen force as you advance.

Drawn by the noise, the girl’s father—and mother, and eldest sister-burst into the barn behind you, wielding axe, butcher’s knife, and pitchfork. You respect their tenacity and their drive to protect their offspring… But even their familial courage is shaken when they catch a glimpse of a great, dragon-faced and bat-winged insect-thing, four arms raised and toothy maw agape.

“What in all the Hells…” Cliff gasps, hesitating.

“Leave thiss placce, and do not return,” you command in stentorian baritone, before the situation can escalate further, “or in the name of the moon, I’LL PUNISH YOU!”
>>
Rolled 2, 15, 15, 6, 11 = 49 (5d20)

>>5696684
With a (somewhat-hammy, if you’re critiquing) shriek, and a trailing trill like a death-rattle, Nat lurches away. He falls to hands and feet alike, crawling and scuttling away with serpentine movement and surprising speed for his size. He’s not the strongest flyer among your sons—only Jep really ahs the proportions and knack—but he even hops and flaps his undersized wings a few times to really sell the desperation of his retreat. With a crash and a creak, he smashes a small pine and sends it careening towards the forest floor, hauls himself up and over the collapsing conifer, and is gone into the darkness of the woods.

(Hopefully to stay out of trouble until morning.)

You glance over at your associates—hovering uncertainly behind the human family, as-yet unsure whether they should be attacking your hosts or helping you in some other fashion. You sign to the Duelist, who seems startled that you know that unspoken soldier-language of her kind—to go follow Nat and keep him safe. Aloud, you say:

“Azonia! Chase down that monssster! Ssee that it doess not return!”

The Drow rolls her eyes, but you se the flicker of an amused smile slip through her hard-done-by façade. She’s as entertained by this as your oversized infant child. She leaves without complaint, while you order the rest of your retinue to form a (thoroughly unnecessary) perimeter. For your part, you <Jump> up and, with skillful slice, liberate the little girl from her silk-and-mucous prison, while Olu stands below and catches her. The Archer hands her to her grateful father and mother, who check her over for injuries and clutch her close.

“What was that?” asks the eldest daughter—Clarice, you think it was—with her white-knuckled grip still clinging to her pitchfork.

“Heard rumours of monsters up in the Bloodrise mountains… Big bugs and such…” Cliff mutters, unable to look away from his sobbing little girl, whose hair he comfortingly strokes.

“I’m not from Blackpine,” you say. “I cannot sssay.”

(Both statements are technically, strategically true.)

“You saved our daughter,” Cynthia says, wiping tears from her eyes. “You… You’re a hero.”

You spy Ekaterine—previously staring in dull horror at the remains of the family dog-look at you in consternation. You shrug, suddenly self-conscious about putting any self-aggrandizing propagandistic spin upon this debacle.

“I am jusst a grateful guessst,” you say. “Iss your daughter alright?”

“Some bruises, and she’s scared, but—”

“He talked to the monster!” the small child suddenly speaks up. “Hissed and whistled at it, and it stopped trying to eat me and put down Rusty!”
>>
>>5696686
‘Rusty’ is the name of the farm-dog, you suppose. Well, this was inevitable, but is also manageable.

“I am… Ssomething of a magic-ussser,” you explain, “and I sspoke the myssstic tongue of my people to disssarm it, and to command the creature to leave.”

(Again, all technically sort-of true, from a certain perspective.)

>15

The family seems to believe you—even if the little girl still seems ‘confused’ about events. Even this little ‘Chestnut’ doesn’t seem to suspect the truth about you and your relationship to the hybrid abomination which nearly devoured her. With luck, she’ll never have reason to put the pieces of this puzzle together.

As you ready to depart at dawn, and in spite of your humble deflection of charges of ‘heroism’, the once-belligerent woodsman and his wife seem intent to heap praise upon you,. They even seek to reward you materially with rations and handicrafts to take on your way—rations you could surely benefit from, if Nat has worked up an appetite.

“This is too much,” Ekaterine tries to interject politely.

“It’s not nearly enough,” the woman-of-the-house insists with stone-faced determination, shoving another package into her overburdened arms. “We could lvie a hundred years and never be able to thank you enough for this.”

Cliff just nods, stoic apart from his dewy eyes.

Eka looks to you, clearly troubled by this. After all, she knows the truth of what’s happened: these poor frontier farming-folk were frightened, their child traumatized, and their pet dog mangled and half-eaten, and it was not by some mountain-monster you frightened away with Eastern exorcist techniques or whatever else. This damage was inflicted by your unattended toddler.

What will you do?
>Refuse the gifts and, in fact, leave more wealth here for these people to make amends—albeit with an excuse to avoid culpability
>Accept the gifts, and encourage them to tell the tale of what transpired here—of Lord Theral the generous nobleman and monster-fighter! It can only improve your diplomatic efforts in Blackpine
>Write-in
>>
>>5696689
>Refuse the gifts and, in fact, leave more wealth here for these people to make amends—albeit with an excuse to avoid culpability

We can say we can't accept these gifts when there's a possibility that it only attacked because it saw more prey had gathered.
>>
>>5696689
>Refuse the gifts and, in fact, leave more wealth here for these people to make amends—albeit with an excuse to avoid culpability

All glory from our actions to "the Sunlord", deity of such acts of strength and might.
>>
>>5696779
Should probably be the moonlord, given our performance
>>
>>5696781
That was for flavour and a gag. I can spin it if people want to start creating a secret Serpent Ascendant cult under a pseudonym.
>>
>>5696689
>Accept the gifts, and encourage them to tell the tale of what transpired here—of Lord Theral the generous nobleman and monster-fighter! It can only improve your diplomatic efforts in Blackpine
Take half, and we’ll buy them one of the best doggos and a litter of pups, plus an exorbitant future wedding gifts- hell, pay for the future wedding dress, and claim it to be a housewarming gift for their hospitality.

Encouraging the tale is what I want, but we can make amends in the future, on our way back.
>>
>>5696689
>>Refuse the gifts and, in fact, leave more wealth here for these people to make amends—albeit with an excuse to avoid culpability

Supportin' spreading the bad name of the serpent ascendant
>>
>>5696779
Supporting - let’s push daddy serpent god
>>
>>5696740
>>5696779
>>5696834
>>5696879
>>5696898
[Locked and writing!]
>>
Rolled 8, 4, 6, 17, 12 = 47 (5d20)

>>5696956
“Eka—That isss, my wife is right,” you say, to the immediate dismay of the North-Merchant in particular—but, you note, to Ekaterine’s blushing approval.

“But—”

You hold up a hand, halting any objection from Cynthia, and begin handing back her proffered packages one by one.

“I mean no disssresspect by refussing,” you say, and meet Cliff’s eyes. “But what happened wass quite posssibly our fault… At leasst in part. What if the monsster came becausse it followed uss, or ssimply noted an abundanccce of prey here with our presssencce?”

“It’s a strange predator if it favours attacking a big group over a lone animal,” Cliff notes, skeptically.

“It isss a sstrange predator, though, isssn’t it?”

Th woodsman grunts and shrugs, unable to refute that point. What does he know of man-eating horrors from the depth of the mountains?

“Regardlesss,” you continue pridefully, “my patron godss would not allow me to take full credit. I banished the beassst in the name of the moon… And by the light of my Divine Lord, Sssovereign of the Sssun.”

“The Sun-God?” the frontiersman asks, surprised. “Like the elves worship? Heard they say that they come from the sun and moon or some such.”

You shake your head, and correct him: “No, my patron isss… Older. Different. Not elven. Hiss waysss are like yoursss, in ssome wayss: those of sself-relianccce, sself-improvement.”

“And helping others?” asks Eka, curious, before bringing a gloved hand cutely to her mouth to shush herself.

“You don’t worship the same god?”” Cynthia asks.

“My wife isss of Northern sstock, ass you can ssee,” you smoothly interject, and then pause to consider how best to present the Sun-Eater, Golden God of Glorious Bloodshed and Prideful Coqnuest, whom you know best as Serpent Ascendant.

“He isss not a god who helpsss thosse who will not lift a finger to help themssselvess,” you say slowly, working out your pitch even as you speak the words, “but you are not that sssort of people, obviousssly. I think… I think he would be happy to help sssomeone like you, or your family, Missster Cliff.”
>>
>>5696965
>17
Cliff subs his ragged, shaggy beard and chews his cheek in thought, regarding you and considering yoru word.

“Well, can’t say I’ve been a churchly sort,” he says. “There’s gods of nature, of course, and harvest and farming, and I give them all their due… But your god sounds as good as any. Maybe better. Sunlord, was it?”

You nod. It’s close enough—and the titles of the Dark Gods are many. What is one more?

“I reckon I’ll say a prayer to him, then,” Cliff says. “We all will, for our daughter.”

“I’ll leave you more coin,” you tell him, “if you will build him a shrine here.”

He steps forward, and puts out his hand for you to clasp and to shake, in the manner of the northwestern humans. You do so, and the deal is struck. The reluctant North-merchant produces the funds, depleting your travel-treasure a fair amount between this and your earlier payment.

“And no ‘mister’, I told you,” he snorts. “It’s just ‘Cliff’, thanks.”

You smile, and find it comes more genuinely and naturally than usual.

With the matter settled, and a fresh (if naïve) converts to the True Faith having been gained from the whole debacle, you leave. The visit wasn’t long, and not TERRIBLY informative in the end, but you can’t say it feels like a waste. Progress was made in finding a common ground between the local folk-culture and your religion. Experience was gained, and even in spite of the early-morning interruption, you are better-rested than you would have been in you’d slept out in the elements. As you return to the desire-paths and untrod hillsides of the mountainous country hereabouts, Ekaterine even seems to walk closer with you than before, and takes a vocal and intellectual interest in your patron deity, such as she hasn’t before—another vital step in helping her to see the light of the Sun-Eater, and to abandon her false and weak pantheon of peons for your True Gods of Darkness!

In time, the Duelist rejoins you, with Natvodosk trailing her at a distance. He crashes through the woods to your side, and Eka flinches slightly; you calm her with a touch, and turn to your son.

‘Sorry,’ he signs.

You pat his hairy head, drawing a hum of contentment, and you reassure him again that you aren’t upset.

“You did well,” you tell him. “You as well, Duelissst.”

Azonia puts her hands on her hips and gestures to her somewhat tattered sash and slken robes.

“He led me on a chase, though,” she complains.

‘Fun,’ Natvodosk explains, unashamed.

You chuckle a little, and point on that the humans of the baron’s keep—where you are now traveling—will likely be able to fashion her new and far finer attire than any scavenged scraps found and repurposed in her underdark home.

“Well then,” she says with a grin, ‘what are we waiting for?”
>>
>>5696971
It is almost evening when the forest begins to break apart and thin out—not naturally, you quickly note, but by concerted effort of forestry and fieldworking. Such an expansive estate is a great labour, and your suspicions are quickly proven well-founded when you spy a stone fortification atop a hill-parapet alone, crenelated, and with a torch lit against encroaching darkness at its apex.

“A watchtower,” the Thief notes. “And wide roads. The Baron’s keep and the surrounding civilization must be near, now.”

You nod. The question is how to proceed now?
>Approach the tower, and announce yourself and those who can pass for human: a visiting nobleman from faraway, and his entourage, here to see the Baron
>Advance towards the tower with ALL your company, and make clear your true nature and intention: You are Copper Dragon King Theral of Bloodrise, conqueror of the dwarves and sovereign of monsters, here to draw up terms of coexistence
>Cast <Shadow> and sneak deeper, past the guards and soldiers, beyond the town and townsfolk, and make your way directly to the Baron’s keep—you will speak with him directly, and not bother with these subordinates and their inevitable doubts and delays
>Write-in
>>
>>5696972
>Advance towards the tower with ALL your company, and make clear your true nature and intention: You are Copper Dragon King Theral of Bloodrise, conqueror of the dwarves and sovereign of monsters, here to draw up terms of coexistence

This is not a militarily strong dominion, and we can present a front of greater strength. Also best to be straightforward.
>>
>>5696972
>Cast <Shadow> and sneak deeper, past the guards and soldiers, beyond the town and townsfolk, and make your way directly to the Baron’s keep—you will speak with him directly, and not bother with these subordinates and their inevitable doubts and delays

We’re not dealing with subordinates

We will reveal ourselves directly to the Baron
>>
>>5696972
>>Cast <Shadow> and sneak deeper, past the guards and soldiers, beyond the town and townsfolk, and make your way directly to the Baron’s keep—you will speak with him directly, and not bother with these subordinates and their inevitable doubts and delays
>>
>>5696972
>Advance towards the tower with ALL your company, and make clear your true nature and intention: You are Copper Dragon King Theral of Bloodrise, conqueror of the dwarves and sovereign of monsters, here to draw up terms of coexistence
>>
>>5696972
>Cast <Shadow> and sneak deeper, past the guards and soldiers, beyond the town and townsfolk, and make your way directly to the Baron’s keep—you will speak with him directly, and not bother with these subordinates and their inevitable doubts and delays
>>
>>5697749
>>5697388
>>5697117
>>5696979
>>5697465
[Locking and writing!]
>>
Rolled 1, 6, 8 = 15 (3d20)

>>5697807
While there’s something to be said for honesty as a policy, it isn’t necessarily YOUR policy. After all, just look at what happened with the farmstead family! Oh, you made it right in the end, even advanced your True Faith, but at not-inconsiderable material cost, and it’s clear that the rank-and-file humans are likely to react poorly to Nat if no one else—and there’s no guarantee they won’t attack a column of Reptilians, Southmen, Eastmen, and black-skinned elves, even WITH your disguise and Ekaterine to speak in your favour. At the very least, it will entail delays—and you grow weary of travel, and of waiting.

No, better to bypass this outpost entirely. You will reveal yourself to the Baron, this ‘Brunus’, directly and forthwith!

“Stay close,” you command, beginning to shroud your party in <Shadow>.

“Oh, is THAT what we’re doing?” the Duelist asks and, to your surprise, begins to assist you in the endeavour.

“Elf,” she says bluntly, “remember?”

It’s true—even the most stab-happy and muscular elf is still a natural master of the arts of perception and its manipulation-one of their chiefmost mystical schools in all their nations, it seems. You suppose you’re one to talk—musclebound swordsman with an aura of burning light that you are, none would take YOU for a weaver of darkness. And the aid is welcome… In truth, Illusion remains one of your weakest disciplines.

[DC 12/14, since it's already nighttime and...]
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>>5697817
this is why I didn't want to stealth
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>>5697817
>>5697821
The darkness coalesces around you and your entourage, forming a sphere which begins broadly and collapses inwards. It grows closer, darker, forming a cloak of <Shadow> around you—impenetrable , protective.

>8

…But perhaps you overdid it. There is a fine line to be walked when congealing a deep and mystical darkness. If you overdo I, you do not blend into the natural shadows, but stand out against them-a pure blackness silhouetted against the natural greys and blues of the night, unresponsive to the flickering fires of Man, and the shining lights of moon and star.

At least that’s what your forced to conclude has happened when, as you attempt to slip past the watchtower, an arrow pierces the blackness around you and impales itself into the ground.

You stare, startled, at the quivering shaft of the loosed projectile. You turn your gaze skyward, to the human sentry above, who is already notching another. He shouts something you can’t make out, but you well understand his meaning: ‘Invaders!’ he is crying, or ‘Intruders!’ or ‘Dark magic!’ He misunderstands the situation, of course, even if he’s not wholly wrong on whatever count of mischief he charges you with.

“Move!” you hiss, and grab hold of Ekaterine’s hand to drag her forward.

The others—all experienced soldiers or spies—need no prompting. They duck low and bolt forwards under the continuous cover of your <Shadow> spell, which you maintain in hopes of slipping away with your identities and numbers still hidden. You don’t want a confrontation, or to explain yourselves. Even now, you hope you can simply slip into the night, to become rumour or legend, and clear this matter up with a simple conversation with the Baron of Blackpine…

>6

…But it is not to be. There is not one single archer stationed in this garrison, no. As you might have expected, there are several, all lightly-armoured in the manner of borderguards and scouts, nimble and quick by human standards. They move into position, some drawing blades to guard the others, who notch bows and arrows.

“HALT!” one shots.

“Reeeadyyyy…” murmurs another, loud enough for the archers to hear.

“Dragonborn…” your own Archer whispers. “We must strike.”

“No!” Eka cries, then quiets herself. “They don’t know we are onl here to talk. We need only reveal ourselves and—”

“—and perish, when they see who and what we are?!” snaps the Translator. “Our BEST case scenario is capture, after trying to sneak towards their lord’s castle!”

“We should retreat,” reasons the North Merchant, “and withdraw until—URK!”

>1
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>>5697838
The sly Silkscale Infiltrator’s proposal is cut short as a prematurely-loosed arrow pierces your shroud of black and embeds itself in his chest. He stumbles back, human hands clutching at his chest as his false face displays dull surprise at the deadly point transfixing his heart. His silken undergarb darkens with lifeblood in the grayscale of your monochromatic darkvision… And yet you see RED.

“Oh Gods Above!” Queen Ekaterine cries out, clutching her hands to her mouth and shrinking back… Then moving to help.

“Foolish girl!” snaps the Duelist, and yanks her back, throwing her roughly to the ground and moving with admirable even agility to protect her, both blades drawn in an instant.

“No,” the Occultist muses, with a nervous rattle of laughter. “I do not think thossse godsss are with usss.”

“Shall I return fire?” Alu asks, his own weapon-of-choice drawn as well, his own arrow at-the-ready.

Natvodosk rears up and flutters his undersized wings in a threat display, spreading his arms wide and letting loose a shriek, precipitating another rain of arrows-all of which blissfully miss you, or are deflected by the Duelist’s swift swords.

“A demon could distract them,” suggests the Occultist in True Speech, almost sounding excited at the possibility. “I’ve tamed and contained just the creature, I think…”

The North-Merchant slumps down, falling to his rump and taring dumbly at the arrow in his chest, scrutinizing it as if weighing the cost-benefit analysis of its removal.

It’s up to you. What will you do?
>Produce your bow and return fire from inside the darkness, providing cover for the rest of your group to affect escape
>Draw one of your blades [Moon-blade? Serpent khopesh? Mundane elven sword? Assassin’s blade?] and team up with the Duelist to slice and dice these men to ribbons
>Allow the Occultist to summon her demon as a decoy and scapegoat, as you bypass this checkpoint
>Let Ekaterine attempt negotiations—maybe if she tells them who she is and why you’re all here, they will recognize and accede to a Princess of Hawksong?
>Write-in

What will you do with the North-Merchant?
>Protect and defend him [specify if you do so yourself, or assign someone]
>Abandon or ignore him for now
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>>5697842
>Allow the Occultist to summon her demon as a decoy and scapegoat, as you bypass this checkpoint
>Protect and defend him [Us and Olu]
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>>5697821
>Write-in
>>Use Earth tremor against the watch tower, to disorientate the archers and frighten them. Follow it up with the voice of Metron in order to intimidate and command them into standing down.
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>>5697821
It was a nat 1 on what would have normally been a low dc, it wouldn't have mattered what our plan was. Bad luck would have gotten in the way of it.

At least with the stealth plan we are simply being shot at during the night, instead of potentially being surrounded by a lynch mob if we rolled nat 1 diplomatically.
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>>5697878
That.
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>>5697879
We have more dice on Diplomacy than Stealth, though. Ah, well, no use crying over spilled milk.

>>5697878
+1
>Protect the Merchant [Nat, Olu]
>>
Rolled 20, 12, 14, 15, 15, 1, 6 = 83 (7d20)

>>5697853
>>5697878
>>5697879
>>5697933
>>5698017
“Unknowable One! Archer!” you shout in the True Speech of the Reptilian Master Race. “Protect the Merchant!”

Natvodosk clicks and clatters in confusion, but stands down and moves towards the Merchant. He at first seems confused how to even go about ‘protecting’ something, eventually settling for turning his back to the enemy bowmen and spreading his wings, forming a wall of carapace for the prone and pained purveyor. Olu the Archer takes a more direct approach, returning fire with one arrow after another.

“Warning shots,” you admonish him, as one shot grazes a human’s torso and another very nearly impales one’s eye before he ducks.

“If they were not warning shots,” the Archer counters with his half-mad battle grin, “they would already be dead, Dragonborn.”

You laugh quietly, and survey the battle-scene. A quirk of <Shadow> magic, properly cast, is that while it shields YOU from the sight of diurnal enemies, YOU can see just fine through it… provided you have darkvision to do so. It also thus shields your counteroffensive from Ekaterine’s delicate sensibilities, freeing you to take radical action against your adversaries.

But… What action? You don’t mean to make war upon Blackpine, after all!

As is so often the case, you realize that the earth is your ally here. The tower contains a single archer, and a signal fire—a fire which, no doubt, is even now sending an alert or warning to other troops in the areas, perhaps to Baron Brunus himself. You don’t wish to contend with the whole of Blackpine’s militia. Inferior though it might be to that of Redwell, or to your army back home in the Bloodrise Mountains, it is more than enough to present a problem to your current force, especially with noncombatants in tow.

An <Earth Tremor> will put an end to that.

[3d20 for Elementalism, DC 14 for clever write-in; 2d20 for allies, 1d20 enemies, 1d20 mystery die]
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>>5698068
You step out of the darkness, immediately moving into the footwork and affecting the gestures to channel your elemental energies. You square your stance and focus upon the lowest locus of your magical power, diverting the flow of arcane energies along a pathway down one leg and then—with a powerful stomp—into the soil and stone below.

>14

The soil sinks and ripples beneath you all like water, startling and in fact TOPPLING many of the men who are attacking you.

>15, 15

The last arrows they loose careen into your now-dissipating well of darkness, only to be batted away by the beating wings on your wyrmling son, who thus shields your economic specialist from further skewering. The Archer returns fire upon the swordsmen who next step up, firing arrow after arrow with impressive rapidity and driving them back…

>CRACK!
>RRRRUMBLBLblblbl…
>20

…Long enough for your spellcraft to work its quite-literal magic. The ripples of your mighty tread spread up the tower, setting it to shaking… And then cracking. Like the first dwarven fort you set upon in your conquest of your kingdom, the tower was not designed to endure the apparent implausibility of a localized (and quite powerful) earthquake. Bloodrise’s volcanos have been dormant as longas the Red Dragon King ahs been dead, after all…

But a new Dragon King ahs risen, and the earth trembles with your coming.

The human atop the tower clings for dear life, but it’s to no avail. The ones below scream, and scatter, as they see it list and tilt.

>1

The tower topples—slowly, then altogether too fast. There is no escape for these humans—they scatter in every direction, but the shape of their fortification does not hold as it crumbles. It cascades, fragments, and like a meteoric rain from a falling sky, it cascades upon them. A hailstorm of stone slaughters them in numbers, knocking men over and crushing their bodies, their skulls,a nd burying them in a tomb of rock.

“Shiiit,” breathes the Duelist, staring in awe and confusion. “I thought we weren’t going in lethal?”

You purse the lips of your false face and narrow your eyes. Perhaps… Perhaps you are TOO powerful?

“Comb the wreckage,” you command. “Bing me the survivors.”

(If there are any…)
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>>5698084
Queen Ekaterine stands, and surveys the scene in dumbstruck horror. Her rosy cheeks have pales, her eyes are wide in terror. You grimace inwardly, but outwardly you know you must project confidence—security.

“I did not mean for thisss to happen,” you say truthfully, “but I did what I had to, to protect my ssubjectss and my family, from unprovoked aggressssion.”

Eka squints and rubs her eyes, hiding her face and suppressing tears. She says nothing.

In the end, of the nine men here stationed, two are left alive and conscious, and three more are in various states of… Disrepair… And unconscious. This makes five dead, and four wounded, including your own North-Merchant.

“Ssstand down,” you command the human guards.

You hardly need the <Voice of the Metatron> to boss them about in their current state—they readily surrender, and comply.

You pace back and forth before them with what you hope is a languid, kingly stride. Your mind turns, like the proverbial worm.

What will you do about this mess?
>Instruct the Occultists to sue her dark magic to affect what healing she can—for the North-Merchant and the humans—while you camp here until morning
>Take the wounded and march to the baron’s keep, to present his survivors and to make your introductions… From, if nothing else, and undeniable position of strength
>Execute the soldiers for their insolence (and to cover up the exact nature of what happened here)
>Apologize to the men, and free them—disarmed, of course—to go where they will and do what they may, but request an audience with their master
>Write-in
>>
>>5698086
>>Take the wounded and march to the baron’s keep, to present his survivors and to make your introductions… From, if nothing else, and undeniable position of strength

I'm not confident in demon-healing.
>Attempt to fleshweave ourself the merchant
>>
>>5698086
>Instruct the Occultists to sue her dark magic to affect what healing she can—for the North-Merchant and the humans—while you camp here until morning


>>5697879
You're assuming we'd even need a roll if we marched straight up to the doors. Stealth was a needless risk.
>>
>>5698086
>>Take the wounded and march to the baron’s keep, to present his survivors and to make your introductions… From, if nothing else, and undeniable position of strength.

The barons keep probably has better medical supplies then we do, the wounded guardsman have a higher chance of recovery there then here near the woods.
>>
>>5698086
>Take the wounded and march to the baron’s keep, to present his survivors and to make your introductions… From, if nothing else, and undeniable position of strength

>Have the Occultist heal the North-Merchant, to the extent she can
>>
>>5698086
>Instruct the Occultists to sue her dark magic to affect what healing she can—for the North-Merchant and the humans—while you camp here until morning
>>
>>5698104
>>5698137
>>5698277
>>5698292
>>5698328
[Sorry about the late post, all. In a related note: Beau is Afraid is a fucking WILD ride.]

[Locked and writing.]
>>
Rolled 3, 3, 2, 16, 9, 9 = 42 (6d20)

>>5698703
“Occultissst,” you command, “do what you can on the move. Focusss on the Merchant, and then upon the men.”

You regard the humans, who look at you through bleary, concussed eyes, squinting fruitlessly against the darkness now that their signal-light is doused by a rain of rock—dead like their comrades. They regard you—or your shadow, such as they can perceive by starlight and moonlight, with a silent uncertainty. They ask you no questions, and do not know your nature enough to even attempt insult… or maybe they’re simply too afraid.

You give them the cold comfort of the moon-blade’s bluish-white light, illuminating you and your forces: a foreign ‘man’ in queer armour; a similarly-adorned woman, pale and familiar of features, beautiful and mysterious; a black-skinned elf holding two silvered swords; a host of apparent humans, including a brown-skinned Southman with yellow eyes; a group of ‘lizardmen’, including one with devil-red skin ululating in an occult tongue and gesturing strangely to the sky and the earth, tracing arcane sigils most unholy; and Natvodosk the Unknowable, a horror beyond human imagination who is part man, part dragon, part insect.

“Relaxxx yoursselvess,” you tell them, and affect a thin-lipped smile. “You are going home.”

One faints. You sigh. One more to carry, then.

[3d20 for healing efforts, to see if any of the wounded die along the way (DC 15/17/19). 4d20 Diplomacy, DC 17 under the circumstances; +1 if no injured humans survive.]
>>
Rolled 6 (1d20)

>>5698705
Forgot a d20. This is the Hail Mary!
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>>5698707
>3

Despite the occultist’s best efforts, your forced march takes a toll. You have no materials to form triage stretchers, nor time to waste gathering and constructing them. She summons a variety of strange, ephemeral demon-spirits from the Hellish realms which flit about the wounded—the paling North-Merchant with his slowing breathing and long stare, the unconscious humans with their crushed and missing limbs, their battered heads and bodies… But one by one, they perish. You press on, even as the march grows grim. You can practically sense the Lord of Endings nipping at your heels, seizing one then another.

>3

“Let me die in my own ssskin,” is the last request of the North-Merchant, when you slow to check on him, following a spasm and the hacking-up of blood.

>2

You oblige him and then—with all the others who could be saved now beyond saving—you command your occultist dismiss the demons at dawn’s first light.

“We failed to save them,” whispers one.

“But we tried! We did!” leads another.

“The toll, the toll….”

You refuse the little bastards the soul of your Silkscale trader, but allow them to take those of the humans. You have no more use for them, and no energy to fight with devils.

“We will repatriate the bodiesss,” you assure the humans—by now, both conscious again.

It seems to bring the soldiers little comfort. You glance at Ekaterine, and see her eyes are hollow. The rets of your forces… Well, they are shaken, but it will pass. This loss is ephemeral to them. The North-merchant had no true friends here, perhaps no true friends ANYWHERE. This is the curse from which you wish to liberate the Master Race, after all… Though right now, detachment seems more a blessing than the wounded, bleeding heart of your Beloved One.

Only when then keep is at hand does one of the two surviving Blackpine soldiers ask you what must be on both their minds—what must have consumed them for nearly three hours by this point:

“What ARE you?” he asks. “What do you WANT?”

>9

“Peaccce,” you tell him, truthfully, and he laughs.
>>
>>5698723
You arrive at the gates of a rough-hewn but imposing castle—taller than it is wide, with a great iron-and-wood gate, craved with ornate effigies of trees, of deer, of falcons, and of the sun and moon. You admire it, as the sole sentry stationed above the gate spots you and blows some form of horn or trumpet. You wait—peacefully, if a little tense—until those great gates open and two men on horseback ride out, armed with lances and wearing light armour and helms. Their tabards and banners bear a black silhouette of a tree, above a river and a bed of black soil, against a forest-green background: knights of the realm, then.

“HALT!” one bellows, while the other rears his horse intimidatingly and levels his polearm.

You stop, and begin: “Greetingsss! I come in peace, asss a neighbour and—”

“From where?!”

You take a deep breath, and begin to answer.

“What have you done to our men?!” asks the other.

““I come to return thesse men to you, unharmed… Dessspite their attacking me.”

“And the others?!” demands the first knight.

“Not ssso lucky,” you say, “nor were all of my men.”

>6

“These… These MONSTERS snuck upon us in dead of night and collapsed the tower!” cries one of the men who you generously allowed to live.

“I wass attacked firssst, asss I ssaid.”

“We caught them creeping upon the castle!”

“I reveal myssself openly, asss you can sssee,” you protest, trying t maintain yoru alm. “I am no theif or assassssin.”

>9

You step forward, stopping only when both spears are thrust towards you in warning. These knights are in no mood to give you any benefit of the doubt.

“I am here to sspeak with Baron Brunusss,” you state, quiet and calm. “I mean you no harm.”

>16

The knights speak amongst themselves and then, after some deliberation, one announces he will ride back to the castle to ask Baron Brunus what he would do. He takes the two survivors of the tower-collapse with him, that they might tell their tale. You doubt it will be flattering… But have little option but to let them go, if you stand ANY chance of salvaging this situation.
>>
>>5698725
Eventually, the rider returns.

“Disarm,” he demands. “All of you… Things. Disarm, and kneel. You’ll meet the baron alright—you have his specific invitation. You’ll meet him in irons.”

Swordless, in cuffs that will disrupt the somatic components of your casting… is this how you will enter Blackpine and greet the man with whom you would negotiate the future of Bloodrise? No, NO. Your dragonblood boils at the outrage of it. Your firelung swells, ready to immolate these foolish apes who pretend to be your betters. Your allies sense your battle-spirit igniting, and adjust their stances, ready for war.

“Theral.”

A small and gentle hand gently clasps your own. You look down at Queen Ekaterine, who regards you with sad, solemn eyes.

“Please,” she pleads. “No more blood. No more death.”

What will you do?
>Make war, assert dominance, and set your terms at the point of a blade
>Make peace, though it means submission and humiliation
>Topple these men without further killing, but leave—this journey is doomed
>Find a middle way [write-in]
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>>5698727
>>Topple these men without further killing, but leave—this journey is doomed

Add a Zingy one liner.
"Remember this the day you found your gut drying under the white sun. In your last instants of suffering, recall that we originally came in peace. If this is not the future you want, we'll stay open to negociation. Until you do something too stupid."
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>>5698727
>Find a middle way [write-in]
> Take off your amulet of disguise, assume your dragon shape and active the full force of your fearsome presence and radiant aura to intimidate these two sentry knights. Demand they bring you the baron directly, lest this castle suffers like the watch tower.

If we return now empty-handed with no arrangement of extra food supplies, some of the dwarves in bloodrise will have to die next winter. As a king we have to lookout for our kingdom, especially after we mange to unite the races within it.
>>
>>5698800
+1. I doubt they can resist our Aura- not even the prince of Hawksong could, so I don't think a pair of bumblefuck errants can.
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>>5698727
>Topple these men without further killing, but leave—this journey is doomed
>Find a middle way [Take a vacation instead]
Ngl, this really gutted my motivation rn

>>5698800
>>5698823
Yea, I ain’t revealing our true form to these fucker- lord knows that we’ll be forced to kill them afterwards, which will make Eka sad. We’re better off trying a different lord- or maybe switching POV from this cursed journey, I could use the distraction.
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>>5698832
[Sorry you're demoralized, anon. That said, I'm not sure I understand your second vote -- are you voting for Theral to abandon Bloodrise and the quest for a bit to travel around and just have fun in the woods?]

>>5698823
>>5698800
>>5698743
[Ironically I myself will be on vacation for about ten days following next update, so I'll leave this open for now, and tally the votes before bed tonight for this thread's final update. We'll start a new one upon my return!]
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>>5698946
Have fun in holidays, RQM
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>>5698946
hope you have fun qm
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>>5698946
Nah, it was just a joke- and a rather well timed one might I add.
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>>5699106
[That it was, anon.]

>>5698956
>>5698968
[Thanks, folks! Hoepfully we get a tiebreaker by tonight...]
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>>5698727
>>5698800
I'll back

>>5698832
>Ngl, this really gutted my motivation rn
it does suck when other people vote to take needless risk and you have to deal with the consequences when it doesn't work out, but that's both questing and life.
>>
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Rolled 13, 2, 11, 2, 17, 20 = 65 (6d20)

>>5699350
>>5698832
>>5698823
>>5698800
>>5698743
As Ekaterine touches you, you feel that’s welling rage and fomenting <appetite> for blood wane. The anger and hatred leave you, and you just feel… Empty. This entire fraught journey, this interlude from your rule, this overture towards the virtues of mercy and peace… What was it all for? To impress a farmer and his wife??

With one mistake, one slip-up, you are cast into ignominy and disrepute, your every effort to avoid violence stifled. As a Knight Ascendant of the God of Gory, you cannot subject yourself to the humiliation of being cuffed and chained by these upstart lancers. As Copper Dragon King fo Bloodrise and Dark prophet of the Coming Age, you WILL not!

And yet, what else are you to do? Go back home to Bloodrise, cull the dwarven slaves you just proclaimed mercy and integration for? Or let your subjects of ALL races wither and die, your empire dying on the vine before it truly blossoms and bears fruit?

If you slaughter your way into the throne-room—satisfying as it may be in the moment—it will turn the neighbouring baronies against you, and perhaps even bring down the wrath of Hawksong, with their numbers and their Paladin order. And in the process…

You can see it in Ekaterine’s eyes. You’d lose her heart, if you journey down that path. There is only so much carnage she can excuse ‘for the greater good’. She is naïve, but not spineless, and not stupid. You wouldn’t love her if she was… And you are not a monster, not when her eyes are upon you. She wouldn’t love YOU if you WERE.

You take a deep breath, close your eyes in silent meditation on your Dragon Soul… And realize the real answer was inside you all along.

"Fine," you say. "Have it your way."
>>
>>5699366
You raise your hands to the chain which holds your Amulet of Disgusie, and let it drop.

“I have approached by shadows and sssubterfuge,” you admit. “no more. I will be transssparent in my purpossse here.”

You feel the unsettling sensation of your transformation reversing—of your face extending from humanoid flatness to elongated, draconic approximation. It isn’t painful, but it is… Disconcerting. Your stance shifts, legs adjusting as your spine elongates into your familiar spade-tipped tail, with which you whip the ground like a thundercrack. You are grateful for the flexibility of your light armour to accommodate the changes in stance, of the carefully-hidden flap through which the tail emerges without tearing through trousers, and the horn-like crown’s ability to accommodate and complement your actual horns.

“What in the name of Moroth and Marese?!” gasps one knight, as his horse staggers back in terror t the sight and spoils his instinctive lance thrust—such that you are able to grab the lance in your hand and, by your might, hold the man and his mount fixed.

“No,” you say, meeting his frightened eyes, “not in THEIR name.”

You take the transformation a step further, swelling and growing Without time to attune to your Amulet of the Dragon, you cannot attain your fully-augmented <Dragonshape IV>… You know this. And yet you grow, and grow, and your armour strains against your stature and your musculature. You KNOW you cannot manifest true wings as more than a temporary and <Lesser> manifestation without that relic… And yet, great wings stretch out behind you, casting the cowed and terrified knights into silence as you look down upon them—DOWN, though they remain seated upon their equine servants!

“I’ve never seen anything like this…” murmurs the other knight. “What—what do we do?”

“You have not,” you agreed. “You haven’t sseen ANYTHING like thisss before, nor will you know itsss like again!”

The shadow you cast is sudden gone-replaced by a blazing glow, like the fury of an alien sun in an ancient summer—a <Radiant Aura> proj