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Myth: A New Age CYOA

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by Fangshi, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Chapter 70: Divided Loyalties

    November 19, 2542, Outside the Sea of Glass

    Victory!

    Child, my hands are shaking as I write this, but we have won! Not some tiny victory either, not some hollow, weak and mewling thing- A complete rout! Absolute victory!

    I can hardly think, barely express my elation, it- It is difficult to know what to tell you first. Perhaps I should begin with the smaller shock?

    I say small but in truth it is no small thing that I am about to commit to paper. The ghôlish host that has been troubling the south is no more! It was broken by Lord Seinsheim with the assistance of Albrecht's mercenary mages.

    Seinsheim's people have been quick to spread the word throughout the camp and though few care for his Lordship none can deny the service he has rendered to the Kingdom today. In fact a great many dwarves have been speaking rather well of Seinsheim. If you as me, I suspect it has a little to do with the free meat his guards are giving out throughout the camp. It is said that so many of the beasts fell today that the army can eat nothing but ghôl meat all the way to Stoneheim if the General will let us. Already the camp fills with the scent of the stuff and the reveling that accompanies these feasts has done wonders for morale.

    This alone would be a victory worthy of eternal remembrance, the greatest dwarven victory over those beasts in half a century, but it has been almost entirely overshadowed by a second surprise. The tongues of our countrymen, marshaled and led out by their stomachs, may be bent to Seinsheim's service, but their eyes reveal the truth that haunts their minds. Even in this tent I know it is out there, the monument to the single greatest spell I have ever witnessed. The single greatest spell I am ever likely to witness.

    It is a forest of glass shards, hungrily reaching for the sky.

    It is a maze of twisted mirror, tinted with the blood and bile of our enemies, and when the light hits it, it seems to whirl as I imagine the ocean would.

    I stand, my dear child, in a tent just north of the Sea of Glass. Yesterday it was the enemy army, today it is the latest creation of the greatest archmage to ever live, the first of the Avatara, M-

    “So who the fuck is this Mazzarin fella?” a thick, low voice demands to know from outside her tent.

    “Some sort of human archmage, I think?” his thinner companion answers as he raises the flap of the tent and the two of them enter, “Ase will know at any rate,” he reassures his companion as the pair wave to her, “Ain't that right Ase?”

    She nods without looking up. She will have to finish writing latter.

    She slaps her journal closed and loops the binding strap round it to secure it.

    She glances up at the pair, staring at her innocently with their hands behind their backs, she speaks, “And what have you two got now?”

    The larger dwarf grins merrily, as he presents his gift, “Dinner, whole rack of ribs torn fresh from one of the beasts Seinsheim's folk brought in.”

    Damn, they must have had to wait around in the queue for hours to get that.

    She would like to get a bit more work done, but it would be rude not to partake, and there are only two of them, and, well, she could use a bit of dinner too.

    “See, I knew there was a reason why I put up with you two,” she smiles, waving them over to a large table, scored, worn and chipped all around its circular edge.

    The three drop down, big Arkell to her left and his younger brother, Hall, to her right.

    “Arkell! Hall!” a voice calls from beyond the tent.

    “In here, Captain,” they answer together.

    Then Arkell adds, before Ase can stop him, “Come right on in Captain! We're have'n dinner in Ase's tent tonight.”

    She does her best to suppress a moan. It is not that the Captain is a bad dwarf, he looks after his subordinates, he gets her what she needs but as soon as he enters the tent she knows with a growing, dreadful certainty that she will get nothing else done tonight.

    “That right Ase?” the Captain enquires.

    Bless him for his courtesy but there is no getting out of this now.

    “Yes, Captain Manning. We are just sitting down to eat,” she glances at Arkell, he beams at her as she continues, “Would you care to join us?”

    “I was actually planning on attending dinner with a couple of Seinsheim's guards-” he begins.

    With a jolly confidence that brooks no disagreement Arkell cuts in, “Well then invite them over Captain! The more the merrier!”

    Ase mutters.

    Hall, watching her reaction, stifles a snicker.

    Captain Manning pretends to give the tent the once over, “I am afraid it would be a bit crowded in here, Arkell.”

    “Why don't we go with you then, Captain?” Hall suggests with as much feigned deference as he can muster.

    The Captain grins, “And what would you two do in a room full of officers?”

    “Out drink'em!” Arkell declares.

    “Out play them too,” Hall is quick to add.

    The brothers never did have much respect for rank. The Captain's eyes fix on Ase, “Well, would you care to accompany me, and these two buffoons, to a dinner that will no doubt prove interesting?”

    When he puts it that way, how can she resist?

    -----------------------------------------------

    “Where the fuck is my fucking purse!” a howl of rage, heard half way across your section of camp shatters the quiet of your meeting, “I will flay, alive, the son-of-a-bitch that stole my purse! I will slaughter their descendants! I will-” the curses are carried away on the breeze.

    “Was that-” your better half begins.

    “The Old Man.” you answer, part question, part answer.

    Lyssa shrugs, “He must have misplaced something important. Not our problem anymore anyway.”

    That much is certainly true, your earlier meeting with Reinhard was able to achieve that much at the least. The Seekers have been placed under his direct authority and the Hounds, despite their best efforts remain under yours, or rather, they were officially transferred to the Prince's command and he, in turn, returned them to you.

    You doubt the handlers were terribly happy about that turn of events but maybe that will teach them not to go behind your back with their problems. A slim hope, but one all the same.

    You did not discuss much else with the Prince at your first formal meeting, it was not a suitable occasion to discuss weighty issues. At least not with Lord Berg hanging on every word exchanged. Instead you excused yourselves and set to work formulating a plan.

    You had Berty deliver a sealed message directly to the Prince. Its contents, a request for a private meeting to discuss military matters, but the meeting's true purpose will be to establish a means of screening the army for spies.

    He agreed to meet you this evening, after he finishes discuss the situation with his command staff. You hope that Reinhard will be open to your suggestions but only time will tell.

    For now you have settled on getting everything in place, you have set up screening teams and even come up with a few cover stories to explain their appearance at important 'meetings', in reality screenings, you just need permission now to begin.

    There is one plan that you are ready to proceed with though, one that you need no permission to enact and it is this plan that is the reason for your meeting.

    “So what are we going to do about our new employees?” Thaïs initiates the operation with an innocent enough question.

    “We will just have to pay them in steak for the time being,” you answer immediately, casually, but loud enough to ensure that the Coin-Sith stalking outside your tent can hear you. You left a bit of mild concern creep into your voice, “Of course we may run out soon enough, the dwarves love their feasts, it seems, and what they do not devour the heat and insects eventually will.”

    Out of the corner of your eyes you notice the silhouette of a small hound, its ears perked up, likely hanging on your every word. You think it is one of the puppies which should make this all the easier.

    “Well, we do still have that venison from Madrigal, ice packed, it will probably keep for at least a few more days,” Lyssa helpfully reminds you. It does not matter that no such venison has ever existed.

    “Is it still in wagon number three?” you inquire, whispering, quietly enough to ensure the hound is fully focused on your words.

    “Yes,” Thaïs answers, she sighs, “But between the screening teams and our own general security we can hardly spare guards to look after something like that.”

    You nod several times, after all, you are not sure just how much of your silhouette the fairy hound can see, “Well, we will just have to do our best, I would hate to lose such well aged meat.”

    Watching carefully, the hound's shadow disappears from your vision , darting off into the twilight.

    Hopefully the hound will relay your conversation to its elders and hopefully they will take the bait. The rest will be up to Berty; your tactician has promised to catch the hounds and to humble them. Hopefully you will be able to assert, once and for all, your position of superiority.

    Lyssa grins, Thaïs winks and you shift the conversation, “We should probably check with Finn tonight, before the meeting, see if he has any insights into how best to use the hounds for screening purposes,” you do not say it, but you also hope the King will grant you additional packs of hounds for the task. Ideally you would like to screen the entire army for spies and saboteurs but that could take some time. To do so you will need to find the King and he does have a habit of making himself scare when there is work to be done.

    Thaïs takes the initiative, rising and moving toward the front flap of the tent, “Cropper should be able to find Finn for us,” she passes her summons to one of the guards outside who sets off to find the hunter.

    “Care for a drink while we wait?” she asks, gliding away from the front of the tent toward your things and the locked cabinet that protects Tyrvard's old still.

    You nod, Lyssa does as well, Tyrvard's brew is superior to any other and Thaïs has been working slowly to improve the recipe in your spare moments. The result is something that is quickly approaching the divine.

    She draws up to the travel cabinet you keep the still in and gently unlocks it, gingerly opening it to find... An empty still.

    You curse under your breath, catching yourself a moment too late.

    Lyssa moans, your better half taps her foot and mutters.

    You have been robbed.

    “Who could have?” your witch begins.

    Well, you are traveling with a company of fairies, if you had to guess it was one of them.

    Your messenger returns with a disappointing report. Cropper is nowhere to be found.

    Your guard tells you that, supposedly, he left your part of the camp some time ago with a sack in one hand and a number of full leather bags tied to his waist. Enrico was with him and the two were deep in conversation when they passed beyond your lines.

    When questioned by your sentries Cropper merely smiled and said that he was on a mission directly from you.

    You hope he does not get into too much trouble, even as you know that such hopes are all too likely to be dashed.

    For a moment you entertain the notion of going after him but you quickly realize the futility of such an act. Instead you focus on the coming meeting and what you will say to the Prince.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Dinner.

    A feast.

    Plates and cups of lead and tin.

    They clang. They clatter.

    Smoked ghôl, grilled ghôl, boiled ghôl, all piled high upon them as Seinsheim's cooks set to work preparing enough food for an army.

    Ase and her three companions skirt the edge of the throng, Captain Manning in the lead. He instructs them as they move, “House Seinsheim's club is toward the back, it is supposed to be officers only, but-”

    Hall hawks, drawing himself up to his full height, turning to the left and aiming square at the back of one of Seinsheim's guards. The sound of the phlem clearing his throat makes Ase cringe, the swears that explode for Hall's unfortunate target fill the soldier's eyes with the most meager glimmer of satisfaction, “You are gonna make an exception for us though, right Captain?”

    Manning shakes his head, “Not if you are going to behave like animals in there, not if you are going to start something with Seinsheim's people.”

    Arkell grins, “Don't worry Captain, we won't start nothing,” for a second Ase can sense Manning's surprise and appreciation, naturally Arkell won't leave it at that, “'Course we might have to end a few things.”

    Manning scowls, “Throw a single fucking punch, start a single fucking arguement, get caught cheating, even one fucking time, and you will both be on latrine duty for as long as you limbs and your lungs can keep you fucking above ground, understood!”

    Arkell and Hall make sure to mutter the proper assurances, there is little fear in them though, even Ase knows that. The Captain goes way back with these two, to the Great War in fact, and no barroom brawl or cheap con is going to come between them.

    Still, the proper decorum must be maintained, even if only for the sake of the recruits and the second-raters.

    The Captain leads them on through the crush, pausing only once more as they enter the, rather nondescript, canvas tent that serves as a club for Seinsheim's guard captains. He repeats his order then, muttering under his breath as they enter, “Arkell, Hall, I am asking you two, as a personal favour, don't fucking start anything in there.”

    “Yes, Captain,” the pair of veterans respond, their eyes already scanning the room for an easy mark.

    Crowded around one of the bigger tables in Seinheim's part of camp, Ase and her fellows set down to dinner with a trio of Seinsheim captains. Nice enough fellows, at least for House guards, but not a one would make it into the army proper.

    Second-raters, the lot of them.

    One's too fat. The other, too stupid, and the third, well, there is something off about him, not merely cruel, nor vindictive, nor bitter, there are plenty in the army that are one or all of those things. No, Ase is not quite sure what it is about him but she does not like him at all.

    He grins at them as they are seated, the Captain in particular, “Didn't think you were coming Manning, thought maybe you backed out.”

    “Not me,” the Captain answers easily, “Would not miss dinner, or a chance to take your money.”

    “Good,” the fat one answers as he brings forth a bulbous copper pot and a pair of dice, “Favourite pot,” he explains, picking his teeth “Favourite dice too, carved from the knuckles of a big ol'ghôl priestess. Should get lots of use out of them tonight. Want to begin? Play while we eat? Starting stake is five gold pieces.”

    Hell, an expensive game, especially when all she wanted was dinner, she starts to back out, “That is a bit rich for my liking.”

    The cruel one grins, “Ain't nothing says you got to play,” and with that he dismisses her, turning his attention to the her three companions, “What about you bunch? You in, or is everybody in the army a coward?”

    The barb is unnecessary, Arkell and Hall are here to play as is their captain and they answer as much.

    “Great!” the fat one answers, he throws the dice in the pot, they skitter along the pot as he slaps the lid down tight and begins to shake it.

    The cruel one speaks as his confederate rolls, “Now you all know the rules-”

    “I don't suppose you would be needing a seventh?” the soothing notes of a distinctly undwarven voice waft over to the table across the crowded tent.

    Every dwarf in the place stops dead, “Who the fuck are you!” the fat one calls out, “This is a private club, members and invites only!”

    ----------------------------------------------------

    As evening gave way to night and the roars and laughter of the dwarven army built, the pair of you set out toward your meeting with Albrecht's son and heir.

    You drifted: past your wagons, loaded down with goods, past your hounds, circling those same wagons, past Berty and the girls, lying in ambush for your greedy Coin-Sith, past your human and dwarven mercenaries, drinking and gambling, telling tales as magnificent as they were false and finally you moved past your sentries and into the main dwarven camp. You pressed on past the glares of the Seekers. They no doubt requested a place far removed from your own camp but Reinhard could not grant it to them. Between Berg and Seinsheim's armies there simply was no more space left within the scorched and battered walls of the camp. You pushed past the Seekers' cluster of tents, giving them as wide a berth as you could and moved on to the Hounds' camp. You did not receive any warmer a welcome there.

    You hope that will not become a problem down the road, but there is little you can do about it now.

    Entering the main camp you receive a slightly warmer welcome. The odd veteran nods at you or bows, every now and then someone shouts out, "There go the Heroes of the Kingdom!" to a few cheers, or, "All hail the 'Daughters of Mazzarin!" That last one in particular is going to get annoying quickly.

    Not much you can do about that either. You brought Mazzarin into this and he is doing his best to take advantage, claiming all the glory and your own deeds as his own.

    No sooner does the archmage cross your mind then the back of his new tent comes into view, looming large at the heart of the camp. The tent, while retaining the basic dimensions it had earlier today, has changed remarkably. All along its surface small flecks of magic crawl, coating the tent and the surrounding structures in violet and orange light. They deepen the shadows and grant them a certain, sinister, light. A low rumble comes from within the tent, like the slow, relaxed breathing of some ancient god of thunder and fire. You hair rises slightly, a subtle magical charge in the air, and as you begin to round the structure your magical senses are momentarily scattered and scrambled by a wave of energy that breaks gently around you.

    The entire scene is vaguely disconcerting and slightly intimidating. No doubt the exact impression the Great Mage wishes to give.

    As you move round to the front of the tent your eye catches the slightest movement from the entrance of the pavilion, something emerging from the shadows within. You both stop short and stare as this phantom takes on shape and substance, stepping clear of the shadows of the tent. The light, the noise, the magical interference, all put your mind on edge and for just a second you think that this drifting shadow is some sort of guardian beast, a shadow, a malevolent thing bent to Mazzarin's service.

    The 'creature' grunts once and the spell you have woven in your mind unravels. He is pulling something heavy and this little sign of strain and discomfort is more than enough to inform you that he is nothing but flesh and blood, same as you. He turns and instantly you relax, it is only Emrys. He waves at you and the burden he is dragging falls over.

    Lying flat on the ground, bathed in witchlight, you can see Emrys' burden. It is an 'M', a seven foot tall, foldable, golden 'M', and from the sound it makes striking the sand you are fairly sure that it is simply painted wood. You have to suppress a slight smile upon the realization of that fact.

    “Hello, Mistress Thaïs, Mistress Derryth,” the Boy greets you with impeccable politeness, “How are you both this evening?”

    “Good, Emrys,” you answer together and he tilts his head a little at that.

    Thaïs takes first turn at speaking for you, “You do not have to call us Mistress, you do know that right?”

    You nod, “Yeah, just call us by our names, the rest is a waste of time.”

    Emrys nods slowly, hefting his load up off the ground, “I am afraid I can't,” he gestures back into the tent, “Master insists that I show 'due reverence' for my elders. He says,” and here the boy assumes a tone and posture much like Mazzarin's own, “That 'you can not expect respect from your subordinates if you do not give it-'”

    You and your better half share a grin as you interrupt, “We don't see him giving much respect to anyone.”

    Emrys frowns slightly, remembering the rest of his Master's instructions, “-'if you do not give it to your superiors.'”

    You both laugh in harmony, you wink, “Well that explains it,” you doubt he considers anyone short of dead, old Wyrd to be his superior.

    “What do you have there Emrys?” your partner inquires.

    “Ah,” he glances down at the 'M', “Master wants this hung so that it will frame the entryway to the tent. He says we must make the 'right sort of impression'.”

    “That he is a raging narcissist?” you mutter.

    Thaïs laughs, the Boy stares at you both innocently as your better half continues her questioning, “And what are you doing after that?”

    “Working,” he sighs, “Master wants me to organize his scroll cases, sweep the sand from his tent, and then I have to sort his mail,” he grins and his eyes flash for a moment, “And then I have to practice the thirty seven forms of the southern style of the Physical Adepts of the Red Cliffs, Master expects me to have the basics memorized by the time we leave the Kingdom.”

    Sounds like he is tough on the boy, well, you have heard it builds character, “Is he punishing you for something?”

    Emrys shakes his head emphatically, “No, not at all! My latest tasks are rewards for the progress I have made in my studies. Master says that by organizing his scroll cases I will be able to observe the various binding methods used to prevent prying hands and quick minds from stealing his secrets. He says that by sweeping the sand out of his tent I will learn patience and humility, both of which are needed in a good apprentice, and-”

    You interrupt together, “And sorting his mail will improve you how?”

    The Boy is undeterred by your interruption, “I don't know but he gets so very little mail that it will hardly take more than a moment to deal with. Then I have all night to practice my forms.”

    Sounds like an illuminating evening even if it is a bit solitary.

    Emrys struggles to attach the 'M' to the tent, clipping it in place with iron clamps on the back.

    When he is done he mutters a few words in a dialect you do not understand and the spells woven into the wood spring to life. The 'M' begins to glow with an inner fire, casting off just a little warmth and adding its golden light to the palette of colours already at play around you.

    Emrys steps back from his work, satisfied, “One task down, two more to go!”

    He spins back around to face you and bows low to each of you, “Good night, Mistress Derryth. Good night, Mistress Thaïs.”

    As he bows for the second time his pack shifts and a bundle of fresh letters fall out. Emrys dives at them, snatching them up before the wind can carry them away, he sighs in relief at the realization that he has them all securely in hand. You do manage to get a glimpse of the top letter though and you recognize the name of its author, Lyssa.

    You wonder what exactly your witch has to say to Mazzarin that would require such an indirect means of communication. Perhaps you can find out if you can convince Emrys to let you peek. You know the boy is quite loyal to his Master but from what you have heard he also has an unquenchable desire for knowledge, particularly magical knowledge, and that might provide you with an opening. You will have to be quick though, Emrys seems intent on entering Mazzarin's tent and Reinhard is waiting for you.

    With only a moment to decide you make your choice.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    The stranger pushes into the tent all the same.

    He is human, likely a mercenary come in with the reinforcements from out of the north. That means he is one of Mazzarin's people and that fact has already dawned on a couple of the officers in the bar, they move to the back of the tent, checking, then double-checking the exits, just in case. Most though are too drunk, too elated, to care who the human serves and with the typical hospitality of her people they holler and bellow at the new arrival. He seems completely unconcerned, walking with an easy gait, chestnut hair poking out in tufts from under a broad-rimmed straw hat. He is dressed in simple leathers with a cloak of red, trimmed with green. He swings a tiny club in his left hand and at his right heel walks a small dog, some sort of tiny pug that has the bearing and confidence of an animal three times its size.

    Two of Seinsheim's officers move to intercept the human as the cruel officer repeats his colleague's injunction, “Get the fuck out! You got wool in your ears or something?”

    The stranger stops, perplexed, he seems to give the question an honest appraisal, “Have I got wool in my ears? Hmmm, wool in my ears. Wool. In my. Ears. No, I don't suppose I do, but let me check a bit before answering fully.”

    He gives his head a shake and frowns, “Well, there is certainly something in there, that much I will gladly grant you,” he shakes his head harder and raises a single, gloved, hand to his right ear, “Ah, I think it is coming loose!” he shouts, then with a look of triumph he produces a single gold coin, “Ha! Well what do you know! I suppose I did have something in my ear and,” he reveals a rather hefty bag tied to his left wrist, “I suppose I have a fair few more besides.”

    The jingle of coins relaxes a few of the dwarves but the stranger is not done yet, “Ah, but that is not even the half of it,” he reaches around his back, pulling forth a sizable drinking skin, “If the sound of gold does little to prove our brotherhood, and my fair intentions, then how about a little spirits to raise the same in all of you!”

    He uncorks the container and shoves it into the hands of the nearest dwarf, the dwarf takes a single whiff and must love what he smells as he greedily suckles on the bag. The stranger produces a second sack and a third, drinking skins packed with a beverage fine as it is clear.

    Resistance melts as the barman attempts to convince his customers to finish their drinks and order more. It seems it will be an uphill battle for the poor bartender.

    The stranger saddles up to the table, seizing an empty chair as he goes and pours himself into it with masterful grace.

    The fat dwarf grunts, “You want to play, it is f-”

    The stranger's purse clanks against the table, whoever he is, he must be rich.

    The cruel dwarf cautiously considers the stranger, “How much you got in there anyway?”

    The stranger blinks, “Well, not terribly sure to be honest. Let me take just the smallest of looks.”

    The stranger shoves his purse forward, an eye, wreathed in flame emblazoned on its exterior. He cracks it open and begins counting.

    When he is finished he looks up with an innocent grin, “Oh, must be eighty, maybe ninety gold.”

    “You, ah,” the stupid dwarf finally chimes in, “You ever play before?”

    The stranger slowly shakes his head, “Nope, first time for everything though, right?”

    The cruel dwarf snorts, “You want into this game, it will cost you eight gold a round.”

    The Captain mutters a little, Arkell and Hall shift but none of the three contest the raising of the stakes.

    The stranger counts out his pieces and throws them in the pile, newly formed by the six dwarves.

    Arkell introduces himself, his brother, and Captain Manning. Each of his compatriots responding with a slight nod.

    When he gets to her, Ase hazards a question of the man, “Do you happen to have a name? Something we can call you?”

    The stranger turns to her and winks, “Rob, First Jack of the Spring, as me dad used to call me when I was but a boy,” he extends a hand to her, which she readily takes, as he continues to introduce himself to all present,“And it is a true pleasure to meet you, an absolute delight if I do say so myself,” he grins, “Which I do, of course, say, ah, meaning myself, meaning it is a pleasure,” he nods a few times and taps his tiny club against the side of his leg, “An this,” he points down at the little pug, “This is Rico, my fine and fair friend for many a season,” he nods again, “So you see, it is plenty easy to remember our names, Rob and Rico, finest of friends, and fine friends to our friends I hope you will find!”

    Arkell sniffs, playing with his coins, “So you, ah, come in with Mazzarin's folk?”

    “For a certainty I did, Friend Arkell,” Rob grins, “Came down from the north a short spell ago and had a little wander around your fine country. Met a few fine folks," he lets his gaze linger on the cruel dwarf as he speaks, "And some not so fine," he quickly turns back to Ase and beams, "Then I fell in with the Ladies Derry and Taide, I serve them, they serve the Mazzarin, so I keep hearing,” he laughs merrily, an action that mystifies Ase.

    At least the stranger seems to be enjoying himself.

    “Right,” the fat dwarf interrupts the stranger's enlightening introduction, “We ready to begin now? I would like to get a few rounds in before I got to go back on duty.”

    “Whenever you care to begin,” Rob answers with a slight bow as the dice begin to rattle.

    The cruel dwarf stares at the stranger, the stranger stares back.

    Something is going on here and maybe, just maybe, Ase will be able to find out.

    ----------------------------------------------

    The guards around Reinhard's tent are different than the rest of the soldiers you have seen. While their fellows celebrate they remain focused, concerned only with the protection of their Prince. They do not wear the reds and silvers of the army, not the purple and gold of the new Royal Guard either, they dress in black and it lends a certain sinister air to them, one you are not certain they deserve.

    They wave you into Reinhard's tent without a word. You need no permission or pass to go where you please in the camp, your positions as the 'Heroes of the Kingdom' and the 'Daughters of Mazzarin' ensures that much.

    The Prince sits with his back to the entrance, relaxed but not completely defenseless as the crossbow resting near his thigh can attest. He is perched on a long wooden bench a large tome cracked open before him. You are immediately curious as to its contents; simply a matter of your nature really.

    “Derryth? Thaïs?” he calls out without turning.

    “It is us your Royal Highness,” Thaïs answers for you both. Best to let her do the talking till you know more about the heir to the throne.

    He half-turns on the bench, to reveal a pair of wide spectacles resting easily on the edge of his nose, “The honorifics are not necessary. I am not your Prince, nor am I your General, you serve my father directly if I understand correctly?”

    “We do,” you answer plainly. If he wants a more relaxed form of discussion then you will oblige him.

    Thaïs hazards a morsel of elaboration, “We are empowered to pursue his interests across the Kingdom though it may be more accurate to say that we work for him on a case by case basis.”

    “In all things?” he asks turning now back to his book.

    You glance at one another, and shrug. How to answer that?

    “In most things,” you begin.

    “Those things we deem important,” your better half clarifies, “We are given a rather free reign.”

    He stiffens a little at that, “So my brother tells me. He was going to offer you employment in his service. Did he? Did you accept?”

    “He did,” you answer the easy question.

    Thaïs answers the harder one with a question of her own, “Would you believe us if we told you we did not accept his offer?”

    Once more he turns from his text, just enough to catch a firm vision of you, “Yes, it would agree with what I have heard of you from other sources. Of course,” he begins to list the hypotheticals, a shadow of suspicion plays in the corner of his weary eyes, “You could also, easily, be lying. I could think of a few reasons why my brother would ask you to lie to me.”

    “Ambition?” you wager.

    He shakes his head, “No, well, yes, but not in the way you think. My brother loves me, I have never doubted that, at court he is one of a very few that I can trust with absolute certainty not to betray me, and yet...” the dwarf closes the book and swings a leg over the bench.

    He rises, with the text in hand he carefully carries it over to a large, triple locked trunked. Upon opening it he deposits it carefully and seals the heavy trunk once more, placing the key in his front pocket.

    You can not help but ask, “What where you reading?”

    A military text?

    An economic treaty?

    Something on magic perhaps? No, that would make little sense as the heir to the Kingdom Reinhard would not be able to practice magic even were he so inclined.

    “A book of principles,” he glances at the chest, “Written by a dwarf that could see them so clearly.”

    You decide to push the Prince a little, “Care to elaborate?”

    “Maybe,” he answers, returning to his bench and dropping down on it with all the grace of a stone thrown into a well. He leans back against his sizable desk.

    He taps his head, “Mentalists, right? You could simply take the information if you wished.”

    “We could,” you answer as one, “But we would not.”

    He smiles slightly, “Well, that is a little encouraging, more than I expected at least.”

    You wonder what he meant by that.

    He closes his eyes, “My brother would though. Maybe not to me but to others, those he did not know or like, he certainly would. He would strip their minds bare and use any information found to defend the family, the House, and the Kingdom. So I say he loves me, but,” he raises a hand, “And with Timo there is always a 'but', he would lie to me, he has lied to me, he will lie to me in the future and I am certain that if you chose to serve him he would ask you to lie to me as well. One of many things he does, 'for my own good and the good of the Kingdom', of course.”

    The Prince shrugs, “He is so much like my father, as much as I love little Timo, he is in every way my father's son,” the Prince laughs, a quiet thing, haunting his breath, “I wonder if he even realizes it. Hell, I wonder if father realizes it.”

    As interesting as it may be to let the Prince simply talk you should try to move the conversation in the desired direction. You only have so much time with him after all. To that end you intend to use notes, passed in secret, but for that you need to get closer, “Reinhard, may we sit?”

    Your request snaps the Prince back to attention, “Ah, I have been rude, haven't I? Yes, please, grab a chair from over in the corner, we can sit at the table in the-” he glances around the overstuffed tent, at a loss to find a table not crowded by tomes and armour, weapons and scraps of parchment.

    Eventually you settle around one of the smaller tables as the Prince clears a large model artillery piece from its surface. The metal contraption, which Reinhard tells you is a model reconstruction of a Trow carroballista, seems to have a good deal of weight to it but Reinhardt manages well enough.

    Once seated you slip him your note. It details your plan, your intentions to use hounds to root out any Spider Cultists and minions of the Watcher within the officer corps of the army. He nods slowly as he reads and you make small talk to cover the silence.

    As the Prince writes his reply you return to the topic of the text he was reading, surely it will prove innocuous enough.

    As you ask him about it, he passes you his reply.

    It reads,

    I already know that the army is compromised.

    So is House Berg.

    Seinsheim, I am not sure about.

    You have my permission to proceed with the screenings. I will setup the meetings if you can provide the hounds.

    Getting Lords Berg and Seinsheim to cooperate though may take more time than we have.

    What does your Master think of this plan? How much time will he give us to get everything in place?

    Right, Mazzarin...

    As soon as the Great Mage wakes up he is going to want to leave. That will not leave you with enough time to do much in the way of screening, unless you can convince him to wait that is.

    You scribble a few assurances, unsure of how exactly you will manage to convince the Great Mage to remain at the oasis for a few more days.

    As you pass your note back shouting begins to build from outside.

    “What the hell,” the Prince begins.

    One of his guards enters, “Apologies for the intrusion, General, but there is some sort of disturbance on the south side of camp. Seinsheim's people are up in arms, they are saying they caught a demon, and they are going to hang him.”

    “One of the survivors from the Cultist army?” Reinhard asks, annoyed at the intrusion.

    “No, sir,” the guard replies, “Ah, at least not like anything we have seen before. They say it has great fangs and large ears, wheels a club about like a real monster though and it has this great bloody dog with it too. Supposedly the things can change shape and size, they were causing all kinds of trouble in Seinsheim's officer club before Treva and Galena dropped them.”

    “Cropper,” you groan together.

    “What's a 'cropper'?” the Prince naturally enquires.

    “Trouble,” you respond with a slow shake of your head, “But not dangerous, or at least not an enemy of the Kingdom.”

    “A friend then?” the Prince presses.

    “After a fashion,” you answer together, “We can't let him, or his hound, hang.”

    “Right,” the Prince nods, “I will order his release then. Hopefully Seinsheim feels like complying tonight.”

    You are about to agree before you stop and think for a moment. That might not actually be the best course of action. If Reinhard orders the release of Cropper and, what must be, Enrico it may make any investigation of the army more difficult. You would hate to have the Prince openly associated with shapeshifting allies. Maybe there is another way to go about this, if you have the Prince ask to attend the execution, delaying it by a few hours, you might be able to sneak in, free your allies and sneak out again. That way the demons would simply disappear and no one could be blamed.

    Alternatively, you could go to Seinsheim and personally ask for the release of Cropper and Enrico. If you do that, there are a few ways you could play it. You did heal the dwarf lord, maybe he is the grateful type and will release your allies if you remind him of his debt, or you could claim that the pair serve Mazzarin, which would be true, and that he would be furious if they died, which would almost certainly be a lie. Seinsheim has had a small taste of what Mazzarin can do, the threat of the Great Mage's involvement might be enough to pressure the dwarf lord into relenting. Of course, if you do appeal to Seinsheim you risk exposing your own connection to the Tuatha Dé which may also make your investigation more difficult.

    Finally, you could always choose to leave Cropper and Enrico to their own devices. The two of them might be able to escape without your help and it might teach them a lesson or two.

    You decide to:


    1. Captured Cropper (and Enrico): How do you wish to handle the situation?

    A) You will let Reinhard order their release though it might make your subsequent investigations more difficult.

    B) You will try to break them out while Reinhard delays the hanging. (All B options are counted together, the most popular option will be chosen)

    i. You will let Lyssa and the mice handle this.

    ii. You will call on Finn to help. His people should be able to spirit the prisoners away though it might not be as subtle as you would like.

    iii. You will go by yourselves. The two of you should have free run of the camp, even Seinsheim's portion of it and using your magic you should be able to secure the release of the prisoners.

    iv. Poison and Rodents Plan

    v. freeform

    C) You go to Seinsheim and remind him of the favour you did him (healing his leg). Hopefully he will hear you out and release the prisoners.

    D) You will go to Seinsheim and demand the release of the prisoners in the name of Mazzarin. Hopefully he will be suitably terrified and will agree to your request.

    E) You will leave Cropper and Enrico to make their own escape.

    F) freeform


    2. Mazzarin, the Impatient: When Mazzarin wakes up he is going to want to continue south. You want to screen the army however and that is liable to take a few days. You will need to convince him somehow to do what you want.

    A) Be honest with him. You will tell him what you are trying to do and why he needs to help you delay things. Hopefully he will go along with your plan instead of simply 'solving' it himself.

    B) Lie to him. You will do your best to convince him that he needs to wait a few days for the army while it organizes itself and the officers prepare for the battle ahead. Hopefully he will be patient instead of demanding an immediate departure.

    C) Let Reinhard convince him to wait. You will trust to the Prince to reason with him.

    D) The feast: Ask Reinhard to hold a feast in honour of Mazzarin's great victory. The archmage's pride should keep him from refusing and might buy you a day or two.

    E) The Gate & Scan Plan

    F) freeform


    3. Emrys and the mail: Did you try to get Emrys to let you look at Lyssa's letter to Mazzarin or did you deny your curiousity?

    A) You did not bother Emrys about Lyssa's letter, it is none of your business.

    B) You tried to convince Emrys that he should show you the letter.

    i. You promised knowledge and tales of all the places you have been. The boy seems to have a weakness for such things.

    ii. You promised him a spell or similar magical knowledge. (feel free to specify what exactly, the most popular option will win)

    iii. Offer to let him identify/handle some of your unidentified magical items in exchange for a look at Lyssa's letter. (This option is dependent on 4.C winning, if 4.C does not win the next most popular option will be chosen.)

    iv. freeform

    C) Ask Lyssa about the contents of the letter when you are alone.

    D) freeform


    4. You currently have a number of unidentified items on you. You could potentially try and get the Seekers to identify them, provided they don't know those belong to you. Do you go through with it?

    A. Yes, you ask Reinhard to help you with that. If he just says those items were recovered from the Watcher's mages and he wants to know what they do, it would not technically be a lie, and the Seekers did offer their services to the army.

    B. No, you want nothing to do with the Seekers, and it would be a bad idea to let them know what kind of items you might have.

    C. No, you do not want the Seekers poking around in your magical items. Instead you will offer Emrys the opportunity of identifying them.


    5. Provided that Cropper finds Finn for you and provided you succeed in your plan to stay at the oasis for a day or two, you can ask Finn to send a runner to Muirthemne to take care of some matters, like delivering a message to your team and recovering Gullveig's correspondence which might help you with the investigation. Will you go for it?

    A - yes, send a runner.

    B - no, don't bother.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
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  2. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    1,997
    Party/Organizational Changes:


    Party Changes:

    Not too much here. I will add the orb I missed earlier but other than that you have not really gained anything.

    One of Lyssa's eagles has been sent off to the Palace with your letters so that changed.

    You lent out a ring and filled it with Heal, so that changed as well.

    Also your mice changed equipment.

    As far as abilities go, you have managed to gain the first of your military ones and you have learnt your very first musical magic abilites (nothing too spectacular yet but it is something):

    Derry gained Basic Combat Knowledge.

    DT&L gained Coirpre's First Utterance

    Biliku and Uttu gained Combat Knowledge (to reflect all the progress they have made with Berty so far)


    Organizational Changes:

    Just a few rep changes at the moment, little else.

    House Seinsheim: -10
    The Hounds: -15
    The Seekers: -10

    When/if you get your update from Myrgard/Muirthemne I will update the corresponding information.


    Rolls:

    A lot of rolls, since a lot happened. Most of the though you can probably tease out of the content of the update.

    Cropper had several stealth/thieving rolls to make as he emptied out your still and revealed the Old Man of the weight of temporal sin...

    He then had several rolls to slip across camp, and he and Enrico had a few adventures along the way.

    He made a fair bit of money too.

    The 80-90 'gold' he has are actually comprised of a wide variety of gold, silver and copper coins from the Empire, the Province and the Kingdom. Different coins, naturally, have different values but well traveled mercs and veteran soldiers know them almost as well as mechants and traders do.

    To put Cropper pouch in perspective the whole thing is probably worth 10-20 WPs. So for most people in the setting that is a sizable sum. I think I will post some of the financial information (price lists, that sort of thing) so that I have an online record if I ever lose my documents. It will also help you figure out whether or not a merchant is trying to take adavantage of you (Hint: the answer is usually yes). I will post it when/if I get a moment but I still have to finish the character index so it will have to be after that.

    Once Cropper reached the officer's club he had a few persuasion/performance checks to make to avoid a fight. He passed those without too much trouble. Then the game began and everyone was making checks (bluff, gambling, etc).

    You do not know the outcome of the game yet, merely that it might have ended in a fight of some sort.

    At some point Cropper blew is cover and a fight broke out.

    This was a standard combat encounter, Cropper and Enrico did fairly well but in the end they were no match for a pair of actual mages. Treva and Galena dropped them fairly easily.

    While all of this was going on the rest of the cast were rolling as well.

    DT&L had their rolls against the puppy, and you saw the results of that.

    Berty and the girls also had a number of rolls related to your fairy hounds, you won't know the result of that till next update.

    Emrys had a few rolls relating to his activities.

    You had a few rolls crossing the camp to see just who you would run into. There could have been a scene with the charioteers for example.

    When you got to Reinhard there were a number of rolls but I don't want to go into the results of those yet either.

    Finally there were a few rolls around the Kingdom and several beyond its borders. You may or may not find out how those went at some point.

    I also cut a lot out of the update as the original version made far too many assumptions about how D&T would act in the situation. In the end I decided to cut everything that relied too much on choices I think you should be making. Depending on what you chose at least some of it is likely reappear in the next few updates, but we will have to see how things go.

    If you have questions for any of the characters in the update feel free to post them and I will give their answers.

    If you have questions for Reinhard, be sure to stipulate if you are writing them down and passing them to him or if you are speaking out loud.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
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  3. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Well, it certainly is not how I thought the night would turn out.

    Why is the Prince being associated with shapeshifters bad? Is our alliance with Finn and his people a secret? Or Finn's service to Mazzarin, for that matter? In fact, didn't our or Finn's dogs raise a few eyebrows already?

    I thought the army would be able to overlook these matters just as they overlooked Trakk's mortar if those ended up saving their lives.

    Finn must be so jelly that his hunter gets more girls than he does. :lol:

    Hmmm, I wonder why they call him 'Rob'. :lol:

    Tentative votes - we will sneak Rob and Rico out together with Lys, mice and maybe Raegen. A few well-placed 'Retrieve Item' spells (which can go into our rings that can be operated by mice) to get the keys from a guard, a few illusions, and Cropper, being a shapeshifter, can just walk out of there with Rico under his arm.

    We just need to distract the only mages that matter, Galena and Treva, who could detect us. We could do it ourselves - the ladies certainly regard us with interest - or we could rope Emrys into it. I bet those two would jump at an opportunity to ask an apprentice of the greatest mage to ever live a few questions. It is just a matter of how to motivate Emrys.

    I don't think we have much time to proceed with the investigation for now. I will have to write down a long-term plan for the campaign (yes, I have one). For the moment let's just place a few Coin-Sith where the meeting is supposed to go and try to figure out if there are traitors in the command staff.

    When Maz wakes up, I think we might just ask him to open a Gate to Stoneheim and run the army through it. No one can defy the willpower of Maz (so the greatest concern of somebody subverting the control of the spell is out), and we will save a lot of time by dropping on top of the Watcher's army. It is a question of whether it is safe or not to jump in in our current state, however.

    Fangshi, how much time it would take to screen the army or at least the most of it and its commanding officers for the Watcher's influence? Cropper and his doge team were able to sniff the scouts without much difficulties once those separated from the army, why it this taking much more time than that?

    I don't think we should involve ourselves with Maz' correspondence. That's not our business and if it is ever discovered we might get in trouble. However, Lys' letter is our business, but we can take it up with her directly. I would think she will admit to what this is about if directly confronted.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  4. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
    Joined:
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    3,121
    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1) Bi
    2) C>A
    3) A
     
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  5. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Him being associated with shapeshifting hounds might undermine your plan to discretely screen the army, no?

    The fact that you ae allied with Finn is not a secret. The fact that Finn and his people are not just human mercenaries is a secret, they all took on human/mundane form when they accompanied you.

    No eyebrows raised as they all appear normal. Your mercs have not really said anything either as they know better than to cross their employers (and mages to boot).

    They probably would if Reinhard told them to but it might complicate your investigation slightly.

    The army, maybe three-four days if you are trying to be discrete.

    The officers, maybe a day or two, again if you are trying to be discrete.

    Just the command staff, could be done in a day, once more if you are trying not to be obvious about it.

    A lot more people, packed into a tighter area. An area that already stinks to high hell with the scent of Spider Demons.

    It is a harder search to conduct.

    You also want it done discretely, that takes substantially more time than being overt about it. The advantage though is that you are less likely to provoke an organized response from infiltrators.
     
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  6. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Greece
    1E Tentatively. Cropper should be able to get out of this mess on his own, but if someone comes up with a legit plan that involves stealth i will flop.
    2D The Feast. Ask Reinhard to arrange a feast in honor of Mazzarin's great victory. This will surely let us have a couple of days free to screen all the officers and as much of the rest of the army as we can manage. Throw in the raising of a memorial for the Sea of Glass and Mazzarin's ego will do the rest.
    3A I dont think we should pry into this directly, but we can later tell Lyssa that we saw the letter and ask her if she wants to talk about it.
     
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  7. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    I think we should scan the command staff, the officers, and the key parts of the army that could potentially do us harm (mortarmen, grenadiers and the others who could make things difficult for us were they to revolt) and removing them or otherwise ensuring their non-interference (drinking them under the table, paralyzing them, putting them to sleep, sending them away, impersonating them with shapeshifters, whatever works). Once we are certain that the subversive elements can't offer a meaningful resistance, we could drop the pretence of subtlety and screen everyone. The enemy agents would be surrounded by loyalist forces, much like the scouts Finn was after.

    I take it two days would be enough for that kind of job?

    The feast in Maz' honor sounds like an idea that could work.

    Fangshi, please add 3C - ask Lyssa about it when we are alone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  8. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    On an unrelated note... that was an interesting non-sequitur. Is getting drunk all we can think about? :rpgcodex:

    Cropper is a bro, he does not let us turn into complete alcoholics.

    Down with the degenerate tendencies! :outrage:

    So, about breakng them out. Do we know where he is kept, who is guarding him, etc?

    The plan would be to use Lys, mice (as they are fairly unnoticeable) and the rings/needles to procure the keys from whatever binds/restrains Rob&Rico. They are shapechangers, if they only had cuffs on them they'd likely be able to free themselves.

    Fangshi, how 'safe' is our Poisonous Oath? You have mentioned it is not lethal. Can we use the poisoned needles from the last choice to silently get rid of the guards without doing them lasting harm?

    The mice can do most of the work, we would just provide cover for them and load the rings if they need spell support. There are a few things we could do for them - for example, a mice-sized item with a distracting riddle enchanted on it could command the attention of everyone who fails their will checks, or give them a hair bracelet (we asked Lys to make a pair for us and Thais, right?) that would allow Cropper to speak to them without being heard/understood by the guards.

    Myrra and Poppy should keep an eye for mages that could walk in on the team.

    Reinhard should keep the Seekers busy. Somehow. Don't want them anywhere near us or Lys.

    We should pay a visit to Galena and Treva and have a nice talk with them while the operation is ongoing, distracting them and thus easing the pressure on our team. I would like to know them better as they are one of our 'suspects', being the champions of the Great House. It would also be nice to learn where we stand with House Seinsheim.

    I guess that would be Biv?

    This nets us:
    - an opportunity to learn about major mage players in the Kingdom.
    - no direct involvement that could be traced back to us, and we will even have an alibi.
    - a slightly higher chance of getting things done since no mages would be around to understand what is happening.
    - a better standing with Cropper and our Coin Sith, due to how fairies perceive debts. That might save us some trouble later on.

    As for what can Reinhard keep the Seekers busy with, I have an idea, too.

    Also, "Vermilion also had a vermilion sphere that is embossed with images of what you think are myrkridia". Why is it not on our list?

    4. You currently have a number of unidentified items on you. You could potentially try and get the Seekers to identify them, provided they don't know those belong to you. Do you go through with it?
    A. Yes, you ask Reinhard to help you with that. If he just says those items were recovered from the Watcher's mages and he wants to know what they do, it would not technically be a lie, and the Seekers did offer their services to the army.
    B. No, you want nothing to do with the Seekers, and it would be a bad idea to let them know what kind of items you might have.

    So, 1Biv 2D 3C 4A
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
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  9. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Questions for Reindard:
    What has he heard of us and what sources is he talking about?

    What were the principles he was reading about, and who wrote them? What does he think of them? What would Timo think of them if he was to ask him?

    Why would Timo lie to him if it was 'for the good of the Kingdom'? Does it mean that, if told the truth, he would choose the course that - according to Timo - might cause it harm? Does it mean that he disagrees with the current policies? Which ones would those be, exactly? What would he change in the Kingdom, given the power?

    (He can write down anything that is not fit to say aloud)

    What is the current state and composition of the Royal Army? How does the command chain work? Is each House in command of their portion of the army, or is it more complicated?

    What is the current plan? What will he propose at the strategy meeting? Are there any reports from Stoneheim?

    Written:

    What does he know of the corruption of House Berg? What of Berg himself, his heir, and his champion?

    What about the Three Charioteers? Hesse's and Reginar's heirs, how well does he know them?

    What forces is he sure about? What forces are better to watch out for?

    Any news of the Eberhardt resurrected or any of his rebels?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  10. Absinthe Erudite

    Absinthe
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    Messages:
    2,513
    Fangshi, I motion that for any option where we try to persuade Emrys to volunteer the letter, we also remind him that Lyssa entered our service by way of a favor Mazzarin owed and honored. Therefore it stands to reason that Mazzarin would be honor-bound to trust us with her letter.
     
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  11. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Fangshi, how fast are the fairies? Finn boasted that he could cover a day's worth of travel in no more than an hour. That must be the speed of the slowest part of his host. What about the fastest one?

    Can we send a runner/messenger to Muirthemne? There are some ciphered letters that Nephila should have translated and left at Madb's place by now. I wonder if those don't contain some information we should know about and that could be relevant to our campaign. If there weren't some sensitive information then the letters would not be ciphered, right?

    Besides, if we could leave a message for Gareth (or restock out mandarake roots supply), that would be wonderful.

    His people could get it done in a day, yes?

    Is it too much to ask what those assumptions were? :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  12. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Alright, while this is being sorted out...

    I have some long-term plans for the campaign I'd like to share and discuss to gauge how interested the 'Dex might be in them. I understand that most of them will need adjustments as new information comes in, but I feel like we need to pick a direction and follow it, so might as well start now.

    - Once we are ready to move, instead of moving on foot ask Mazzarin to open a Gate straight to Stoneheim. With Maz around we should be safe to use it, and it should save us a lot of time as the army will take at least a week to reach Stoneheim otherwise.
    - The Seekers can hold the portal while the army comes through. Last I checked maintaining the spell does not require its knowledge, which was our whole point of bargaining with Eris.
    - The Old man should be one of the first to come through just to make sure no one of them gets an idea to drop the spell in their heads.

    - Once at Stoneheim, Maz should announce his arrival by blowing the wights out. Judging by Finn's reports, they are very carefully guarded, which suggests that they are clumped together and are protected by the better part of the army. Regular protections mean squat for a threat of Mazzarin's level, and taking the wights (and by extension, their protectors) out should weaken the horde considerably.
    - Maz, on his part, would appreciate making the biggest boom in 60 years after the Balor's head was thrown into the Great Devoid. The man loves XPLOSIONS.

    - We should let Maz know about the woman, her child, and a potential threat of the Watcher's ressurrection they represent. Finn seems to have omitted this part from his reports. We should be able to convince him of the importance of finding and eradicating them for good, destroying 60 years worth of Watcher's progress, which would necessitate locating the Watcher's secrret compound.
    - To locate the compound, we need to capture one of the Watcher's generals. The only one whose location is known with a 100% certainty is the Beast. The only one who can incapacitate, capture and interrogate him is Mazzarin.
    - I would suggest dropping a sufficiently powerful spell on the Beast and his escort, eradicating the latter entirely and crippling the former, but it is ultimately up to the Mage how he does his job.

    - Once the better part of the Watcher's army is blown up along with wights and their leadership - as in, the Beast and his puppets - is gone, the army should be able to take on a slow and uncontrollable horde with the XTREME firepower it has. It can just kite the targets and it will run our of targets sooner than it runs out of ammo.

    - Once the Stonheim's siege is lifted and the Royal Army is established as the one who liberated it, Maz might think of coming back home now that his work is seemingly done - or he might turn his attention to the Watcher's compound. In any case, we should milk the situation for maximum gain and tell him that we might know how to get rid of the Watcher.
    - We would tell him about a spearhead that we located in the temple to the Spider Goddess, and we would tell him that the Goddess is the only one that we know of who holds the secret of its reactivation.
    - I would assume Maz would immediately take off to see Albrecht and demand the artefact for himself so that he could destroy the Watcher once and for all.

    - We should hand Emrys a letter for Albrecht explaining the situation and hinting on the further course of action. With the Watcher's minions scattered and ghol horde defeated, the cultists remain the only credible threat. Naturally, we will ask Albrecht to hand the spearhead to the Great Mage and inquire about the progress of Jan's research, noting that it is the only way to activate it safe for prying the answer from the Goddess herself. And hope Albrecht is wise enough to let the mage do exactly that.
    - Mazzarin is not very skilled at negotiations. In fact, I doubt he had to negotiate for anything in the last thousand years when he could simply take it. This is why I believe Albrecht might be able to make an agreement with him - as with the governor of Cath Bruig - on the terms that are favorable to the old fox. I expect the spearhead to arrive exactly when Albrecht has the future of the Kingdom secured - and hopefully, we could start repairing the relationships between the countries.
    - I would expect stopping the invasion of the Spider Realm into our world to be a part of this agreement. Maz might not kill the Goddess because that's a lot of work, but I think he can make her promise to withdraw and cease further attempts to send demons into our world. Unlike Faceless, the Goddess does not have much choice in the matter - Maz knows where she lives and she can't change the address.
    - After that is done, it is a matter of time to root out the Eberhardts and their minions who will be left without support of their deity.

    Thoughts/suggestions? I might have a few ideas to add later.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
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  13. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    I'm afraid I don't follow. He should give us a letter addressed to Mazzarin, why?
     
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  14. Absinthe Erudite

    Absinthe
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    Because Mazzarin agreed to subordinate his relationship with her to us. That was the favor.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  15. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    I thought the agreement was that he gives her away to us (as much as one can give away a person). If she wants to send him letters (tuition fees refunds?), then that's on her, not him.
     
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  16. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Added

    Added

    Added
    It is not like a single drink will get them drunk at this point (even though Tyrvard's brew is some pretty good stuff).

    He is just trying to get half the dwarven army craving the stuff so that he can sell it to them at an incredible profit.

    Seinsheim's part of camp, you do not know exactly where but it will probably be where the most guards are. Treva and Galena will probably be there too since it took them to incapacitate the prisoners to begin with.

    As long as you don't hit anyone with too big of a dose, the effects should largely be temporary (though extremely painful).

    Because I forget things sometimes. It should be there, will add. :salute:

    Added.

    He won't tell you his sources.

    Not too exciting, he has heard that you can be quite direct, very destructive, clever at times, but most importantly that you do not truly serve any dwarf in the Kingdom. He realizes now that you are not his father's pet mercenaries. How could you be? When it is clear that you are the heralds of Mazzarin. :smug:

    He sidesteps the your questioning with the skill expected of one that was born and raised at the second largest court in the known world.

    Seems he definitely does not want to answer your question, at least not yet. You wonder just how important that book must be to him to keep it sealed away like he does.

    You press him... [rolling]

    And he snatches up a single scrap of paper and scribbles something on it. He hands it to you, it reads:

    Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well.

    By the time you look back up at him he is calibrating a tiny mortar on the edge of his desk.

    It means, at the very least, that Reinhard believes, that Timo believes, that Reinhard would not agree to Timo's plans... :lol:

    The army currently numbers:

    Approximately 570 Royal army soldiers (about three hundred grenadiers, two hundred footmen, thirty chariots, and forty enchanters of first or second class attached to the infantry units).

    - The infantry are organized into units of 10, each led by a captain. The units have some variation but they are all based off a standard pattern. Seven regular dwarves, either grenadiers of basic infantry, led by an officer (with a veteran infantryman/grenadier to provide assistance) and supported by a single enchanter to give them a bit more punch. Every ten units is under the authority of a single commander, though a few of them have died so in some cases one commander has to lead a few extra (the demons went after the officers when they attached so the army is suffering from a lack of mid level leadership at the moment).

    The infantry as a whole is under the leadership of General Kjell, a traditional sort, he has always been loyal to the royal family.

    - The chariots are organized seperately in squads of five (usually). They are under the command of Friedelinde, Reinhard's half-sister.

    - The Enchanters technically answer to a pair of forth class enchanters but they both died in the fighting so Reinhard has been trying his best to use them directly. For the most part the young enchanters follow his orders slavishly. For many this is their first campaign and serving under the Prince is seen as a great honour.

    - Finally, Reinhard has a group of about ten (remaining) soldiers that serve as his honour guard. They are clad in black from head to toe and are probably the finest fighters in the entire army next to the Prince himself.

    - Lords Seinsheim and Berg command their own forces and work to help the Prince (at least in theory).

    - Berg has 100 guards with him, dwarves clad in goldenrod over plate and armed with crossbows, spears and heavy shields.

    - Seinsheim has 320 guards, armed and attired much the same as the army (which is to say in the traditional way), so mostly grenadiers and footsoldiers with hand weapons. The only real differences are the uniform colours (his men wear aquamarine instead of the red of the Army) and their ability (like Berg's guards these dwarves are not fit for regular army service for one reason or another).


    The Camp looks a bit like this:

    [​IMG]

    Chain of command goes as follows:

    Reinhard is in overall command of the army and gives orders to his different commanders. General Kjell for the infantry, Princess Friedeline for the chariots, the Old Man for the Seekers, and so on.

    Seinsheim and Berg technically sit outside this command structure but they are to give the Prince any support they can.

    You also sit outside this command structure but again you are expected to help as much as you are able.

    Big M does whatever the hell he wants... :cool:

    [​IMG]

    The current plan was to advance on Stoneheim. Try to make contact with the defending force and relieve the city.

    The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the best way to do that and to make any adjustments that the presence of Mazzarin would allow.

    No one is getting in or out of Stoneheim at the moment. The Prince only knows that the city has not fallen yet.

    He writes that he does not know. He only knows that someone in House Berg (or maybe multiple people) are working with the rebels. He does not know who.

    He writes that he is not sure if they are cultists or not.

    He knows Kustaa and Ralf fairly well, they are good soldiers, living without the resources and wealth of their parents. They are determined to earn their own place in the Kigndom, to deserve the positions they will one day inherit.

    He is glad to have them with the army for this.

    He is sure about his Blackguard, he has know each of them for decades.

    The rest he is not 100% confident about. He trusts his soldiers more than the House guards but beyond that he is uncertain.

    No, Eberhardt (whatever it is) has not appeared since the attack on the prison. His rebels have staged raids on Royal forces in the south but they have not directly attacked Reinhard's army.

    Sure, if there are no objections.

    Fast, they could probably cover the distance between Stoneheim and Myrgard in half a day but it would exhaust them to do so. They would be in no condition for a fight or to cast if they did.

    It would require a vote but you can certainly try.

    A day, maybe two.

    Provided they did not get distracted on the way. :lol:

    Yes, considering it would impact your decision making process. Ask me at the end of the chapter when it is all wrapped up and I will try to answer during the usual Q&A sessions.
     
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  17. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    With a good business sense, too. :love:

    Well, he's the King. He must have some way of ensuring that things get done, even though his subjects are fairies.

    The threat of Laignach Faelad, for example, seems to have been very convincing to Cropper, if only for a short moment, and Pucas are one of the worst offenders when responsibility is concerned.

    Sticks and carrots, the tools of every ruler.

    Very well.

    5. Provided that Cropper finds Finn for you and provided you succeed in your plan to stay at the oasis for a day or two, you can ask Finn to send a runner to Muirthemne to take care of some matters, like delivering a message to your team and recovering Gullveig's correspondence which might help you with the investigation. Will you go for it?
    A - yes, send a runner.
    B - no, don't bother.

    For a moment I want just the letters (or rather, the translations, the originals are best left at Madb's), but the letter to Gareth would not be out of question if we all agree what to write him about.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
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  18. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Ah, to a degree. He can threaten them and promise them rewards but there is only so much control he can exert.

    He finds that things get done eventually...

    Sure, it is easy to get them to do things when he is around. When they are half way across the continent, well, good luck. :lol:

    Added.
     
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  19. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    Does the camp even have enough supplies for another feast?
     
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  20. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    The army has enough provisions to get to Stoneheim, no?

    If we are going with the Gate spell, economy should not be that big of an issue.
     
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  21. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    They have a few hundred ghôl corpses, so yes. There may be other problems that come with sitting at the oasis for a few days and celebrating but they are not likely to run out of meat. Alcohol, now that will become scarce...
     
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  22. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Like what?
     
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  23. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Relaxed discipline, lower combat ability, lower readiness. That sort of thing.

    It will hit the less disciplined sections of the army the hardest, (so the House guards essentially).
     
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  24. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Hmm. That's not ideal... unless the relaxed atmosphere could help with the investigation as well, seeing how nobody would be on alert.

    Still, that makes me consider turning to Reinhard to deal with as it he sees fit.

    I am kind of saddened by the lack of discuss these days. Does anyone think that it might be a viable choice to forego the investigation in favor of an immediate 'paradrop' in Stoneheim, and sorting this out when the city is not under a threat of annihilation? It is impossible to tell what people think when all I have to go on is their one-letter vote.

    We suspect Berg in being allied with the rebels, but that should theoretically be irrelevant when dealing with the Watcher. Those could be dealt with later - and even if discovered, they can still be used to fight the undead.

    On the other hand, the scouts and a big chunk of the Royal guard are the Beast's sleeping agents. Those worry me most, as all it takes is a 'signal' for them to go haywire.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
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