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In Progress The Fall of Tamriel (Court CYOA)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by MercantileInterest, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    Choice: (1C) Win the game anyway. You're clever enough and the chief may decide he can use you. Weakness: (2F) Pride

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    The chief peers at the chessboard and lifts his surviving knight. "Check."

    "...and mate." You slide your rook into position and a warm glow suffuses your soul. Peon. I counsel the emperor of Tamriel. How could you possibly hope to match me? The bandit tries to hide the anger on his face. His lips twist into a snarl and he upends the board before driving his knife into the table.

    "Get back in the cave."

    You walk towards the tunnel, slowly enough to show insolence but not enough to make it worth calling you out. An amulet of a horned skull sits on a box near the mouth of the tunnel. It represents Molag Bal, one of the forbidden old gods. Imperial law has forbidden daedra worship since the downfall of the Septim dynasty two hundred years ago but many still worship in secret. My old nurse used to scare me with the name of Molag Bal, one of the nastier daedra in the old nursery tales.

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    (1A) Snatch the amulet. Could make for a useful blackmail tool.
    (1B) Leave it be. If curses are real, this would be just the sort of thing to carry one...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It would be difficult for a less talented man to tell how long he spent in the cave. In perpetual gloom, sleep does not come as a single long stretch but in little snatches scattered all about but, by counting your meals and listening to the speech of your captors, you count two full days. At different times, five distinct voices can be heard. None sounds particularly old. Those highwaymen who reach middle age tend to look for a new profession. You subsist on stale bread and water with an occasional cabbage, a bit of a step down from the cuisine of the Imperial Palace.

    On the third day, four bandits blindfold you and lead you from the cave with a rope. You cannot see, of course, but the light of the rising sun fills the fabric whenever you look left, so you are clearly moving south. You stumble frequently on the uneven ground but your captors only laugh. They'll bleed for that. After many hours, a rough hand pulls the blindfold off your eyes. Oaks and pines stand on all sides, with scraggly grass filling the clearing.

    "Here he is." The chief says. "Now how about that gold?"

    "First, we must see whether he is suitable." The voice is clear and faintly musical, with every syllable ringing like a chime. Divines smile on me. Not this.

    Two slender figures all in leaf green stand across the way. One wears high boots, a coat which falls to his knees and a hood which casts a shadow over his face. He holds a carved bow with a nocked arrow. The other pulls off his green cloak in a single fluid motion to reveal long robes blue as the midnight sky, a high collar, pale hair cascading around his shoulders, a harshly angular face with tapering ears and eyes with irises like drops of molten gold. Elves. My kidnappers mean to sell me to bloody handed elves. I am going to die.

    The elf in the blue robe spreads his cloak over a flat boulder and sits. His companion returns his arrow to the quiver and fills two silver cups from a glass flask. The elf in blue takes a sip and then motions to the other cup.

    "You may partake." He wears white gloves so thin the shadow of his hands may be seen through them. "Altismyn cordial refreshes the soul."

    Never accept a gift from an elf. Every story you have ever heard agrees on this point. Bedtime tales and fables have no place in the policy of the wise and powerful but you are currently a prisoner in dubious circumstances. Besides, refusing to accept is exactly what a simpleminded man would do, and appearing simpleminded has often served you well.

    "You are Decius Coriolanus, advisor to Emperor Titus Mede II. The Aldmeri Dominion fears for the state of the Cyrodillian empire. Even as we speak, the armies of the Seven Kingdoms may have already begun their attack. We do not wish them to succeed. I see this surprises you. After all, our two states share little trust. This is merely a matter of not wanting you replaced by a stronger power."

    "Will the Dominion send its Warhost to repulse those who invade our continent?" You raise an eyebrow. Don't let him see your own fear.

    "We will not send elves to die for men." The elf turns to his companion and they speak in their own tongue. The bandits glance at each other, also fearing betrayal.

    "Muttering in your secret language?" You smirk. "I'm not inclined to trust you."

    "Our secret language?" His tone sharpens. "Our kind spoke an ancient tongue, inherited from the talking birds of the dawn age. It was elegant and true, beyond the understanding of mortal men. Your Empire forced us to adopt you guttural utterings. Our secret language is the same tongue as your ancestors spoke. Do you know anything of the cruelties of the Septims when they ruled over us? Men forget. Elves do not."

    "Enough of this." The bandit chief says. "Will you ransom him?"

    "Mayhap." The elf shrugs. "I shall repeat myself. The Dominion wishes for a defeat of the Seven Kingdoms but the Empire refuses to trust us. Decius Corialanus, will you assist us? We shall provide information in exchange for information, so that we may both together rise. You have the Emperor's ear. Think how the knowledge of the Dominion could benefit him."

    You suddenly realize what has been troubling you. The White-Gold Concordat allows certain Elves to operate within the Empire. The black robes of the justiciars and the golden armor of Dominion sword-bearers are hated and feared throughout Cyrodiil but the treaty does limit their numbers. These two look to be here outside of the law's protection. Five bandits stand behind you, all of them armed. The elf in the blue robe does not appear to carry any weapon while the elf in green carries a bow in his left but no arrow in his right.

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    (2A) Refuse to spy for the Dominion.
    (2B) Agree with no intention of carrying out your promise.
    (2C) Agree truthfully.
    (2D) Attack the seated Elf. The bandits will probably feel obliged to help out their fellow man in such a struggle.
    (2E) Something else______.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  2. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    Location:
    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    1B
    2C
     
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  3. Storyfag Arcane Patron

    Storyfag
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    1B
    2F agree with a mind open to both 2B and 2C.
     
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  4. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1A
    2F (Storyfag)
     
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  5. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    1A because magic is probably rare but blackmail material is rarer still.
    2B, it will be easy to one-up the Dominion by feeding them misinformation or half-truths from now on, potentially a game changer
     
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  6. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
    Joined:
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    Agree with Lithium Flower. Blackmailing and intrigues - how to get ahead in the world 101.

    1A
    2B
     
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  7. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    We snatched up the horned skull amulet of Molog Bal and agreed to spy on behalf of the Dominion, with the intent of being truthful only to our own advantage. We're far from the only plant placed by the elves in the Empire, so we'll have to act carefully. Shockingly, no votes for elf genocide.

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    "I'll help." You say. "For the Empire, of course."

    The elf archer in green tosses a small bag to the bandits. They cut it open and count the gold coins which spill out. Their eyes flicker between the elves, each other and the Aldmeri mints. Their faces redden. Their hands grasp their sword hilts and one draws.

    "Do you take us for fools?" The chief sputters. "We want good septims. You can't just wander into an inn and spend this elvish trash."

    "The gold is near as pure as your own and stronger for being tempered with moonstone." The elf in blue replies. "You needn't fear counterfeits, either. The Thalmor embassy in the Cyrodillic capital will exchange it with your provincial currency, for a small fee." The leader of the bandits glares. He likely fears to enter the city, nor does he trust any of his men to change out the money for him. "You could even melt them down but that is not our concern." The robbers glower and take a few steps forward. You begin to edge aside.

    "Enough of this treachery." The chief motions to his men. "Septims or we take Coriolanus back."

    The elf archer speaks for the first time. "Will nothing dissuade you?" The robbers shake their heads. "A pity." Almost faster than thought, he nocks and releases an arrow. It blurs across the glade and punches through the great bandit's throat. A dazzle of blood sprays his dirty coat and drenches the smirk still plastered over his lips.

    You duck behind a mossy log. A scream pierces the trees. You wriggle into a pile of ferns. All is silent. Light footfalls approach. Smooth boots halt before your crouching head.

    "One of your friends escaped." The elf says. "We must flee. In the city, you will hear from the Thalmor. Farewell, son of Atmora." They run south into the forest.

    You stand and brush moss off your chest. Without a chance to bathe since your kidnapping or even change your clothes. The forest shouldn't mistake me for a marauding Thalmor agent. Two more bandit corpses lie face down in the ferns with wounds in their backs. The fatal arrows were missing as were the Aldmeri mints. Could use the coin. You turn a few coppers out of the dead men's pockets along with a carrot and half a dried sausage wrapped in paper. With the chief's serviceable iron sword clipped to your belt, your head west, seeing as the escaped marauder most likely fled north and the two mer went south.

    Gorse bushes and ivy choke many acres but animal runs allow for easy enough passage. Branches scratch at your coat and breeches. Wouldn't it be something to run into a wild boar? Decius Coriolanus, rising lord of the Empire, murdered by a pig! A deer watches but no beast troubles you. After an hour, your left heel begins to wear lose. Palace shoes are not made for running around in the Great Forest. Then the rain begins to fall but it only lasts long enough to soak you and turn the earth to mud.

    Late in the afternoon, you stumble upon a well worn path which leads to a broad road with half sunken paving stones. You walk northwest. After a little while, your shoe rips, leaving the heel fluttering about. You sit and try to pound it back together but with no result. Well, isn't this fine. A fair faced peasant leads a straw filled donkey cart up from farther back.

    "Hold up there!" You wave the shoe. "Let me ride in your cart."

    "It'd be hard on old Bess." He scratches the donkey's neck. "But I'm willing if you'll help with the harvest tomorrow. I'll even see if I can't cobble that heel back together and put something in your belly."

    "I'm not bargaining, miscreant." You climb into the hay.

    "Then you can get off my cart." He hefts his staff.

    "I'm a lord." You tap your chest. I can at least act the part, however disagreeable my current position.

    "Begging your pardon, you don't look a nobleman and even if you are, you're not my liege." He raps your side. "Now get off."

    "Wait! Wait." This can't be happening. "Here. Have a copper. No. Have two. I'm in a bad way. Mara shows mercy on the merciful." You put on your friendliest smile. How humiliating. "Pray let me rest a little."

    "As you like it." He slips the coins into his belt. "Where're you headed, stranger?"

    "The Imperial City. How far is it?"

    "A week's walk. Less if you go by sea."

    Later, the cart creaks off the road, passes by a snug cottage and settles in a barn. The farmer passes a pitchfork and unhitches the donkey. You fork the hay out onto the pile on the floor. You had grown a little cold but now sweat trickles down your cheek. Your host watches with a blank face. In the long shadows of evening, you go into the cottage.

    Only a small cooking fire lights the room. A younger woman in an apron stirs a bubbling pot. She damps a rag and wipes down the farmer's face. A shrine to Kynareth adorns a small table pushed up against the wall. Three totems lean against it. This must be his second wife. She looks over you.

    "He's a lord." Her husband speaks. She giggles. "Leastways, that's what he says. Fellow has never worked before, that's sure as snow in winter."

    "I was widowed myself." You say. "Her death hurt more than I had expected. If she were still alive, I'd be back in Bruma, wringing the quota out of dirt grubbers like you. Look how far I've come." They stare. Well, not right now. I've the emperor's ear, you simpletons.

    The woman erupts in coarse laughter. She slaps her husband's shoulder and he grins feebly, perhaps unsure of the joke. Then she curtsies and fills a bowl of soup for you.

    "M'lord." She sees your expression and clears her face. "Oh, I'm just teasing. Brighten up."

    The first bites delight an empty stomach but you soon realize the meal is nowhere near as tasty as a noble's feast. Afterwards, they shove you into the barn and you bed down on the straw between a pair of blankets. Probably terrified I'd steal something. The straw is much softer than the stone of the cave but it scratches and spreads every time you turn. The sound of the farmers' lovemaking drifts through an open window. By the time that finally stops, the fluttering of owls and crickets fills the night. It is a long time before you get to sleep.

    You make it back to the Imperial City in less than a week. Winding through the alleys of the temple district, you find the Knife and Fiddle Tavern. The publican keeps a decent sum of septims for you, an arrangement made in case you ever needed to flee the court. No one in the city has recognized you yet. Sitting at a bench in a corner, you examine the stolen daedric amulet. In nurse's old tales, the followers of Molog Bal always had one thing to say: By blade or flame, I will have revenge.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    (1) Return to the Imperial Palace.
    (a) Dramatically burst into the council chamber. Your special gift for reading faces may allow you to discern who is most displeased by your return.
    (b) Walk back in as if you'd merely been out on a pleasure trip.
    (c) Tell the emperor of a plot to depose him and demand bodyguards.
    (d) As proposed by Lithium Flower, three posts below.
    (e) Other_______.

    (2) Disguise yourself in the city.
    (a) Ask after the Longstrider Twins.
    (+) Do this by investigating seedy inns.
    (-) Do this by asking at the Thalmor Embassy. The elves keep contacts with criminal types.
    (b) Track a member of the Elder Council. Name_____.
    (c) Make a secret alliance with an Elder Council member. Name_____.
    (d) Other______.

    Note: If you have an 'other' suggestion, I'll edit the post to include it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
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  8. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
    Joined:
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    Hmm. 1a and b and 2a sound good. As does 2b to a lesser extent. I cant see going for 2c without knowing who had us removed.

    2a-
     
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  9. Kipeci Magister

    Kipeci
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    Vicksburg
    1A seems like a fun option. Seeing him grovel for the generosity of a couple dirty peasants was pretty funny!
     
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  10. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
    Joined:
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    We should return to the Court as quickly as possible. We must catch up on everything we've missed and try to put the perpetrator of our kidnapping off balance.

    I propose 1D:

    Approach the palace with as much subtlety as we can muster, disguised if we can, and definitely avoiding the entrance through which we were kidnapped (we know the guards there were bought for sure. If guard rotation is a thing, avoid whichever places those guards are likely to be posted at right now). Return to the Emperor and inform him of what happened, but do not request for bodyguard or any such indiscreet thing. THEN waltz into the council chamber, not horribly discreetly but without much noise and accusatory pointing, either (so a fine line between 1A and 1B, perhaps?). Whoever flinches at your return, arrange it so that the daedric necklace is found in their chambers (perhaps utilizing our much-abused handmaiden, or someone else), then point them out to the Emperor.

    If that is too much, then do 1A. This is a good time to be bold, I think. We must steal the advantage away from the conspirators.

    Fun Fact: Molag Bal is the Daedra of rape.
     
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  11. Storyfag Arcane Patron

    Storyfag
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    1D (Lithium Flower) > 1A
     
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  12. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    Yes, yes. Lithium Flower's 1D and then

    2A-
     
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  13. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    Looking back on this, I think it's worth continuing. As it has been a while, will include a succinct review:
    Succinct Review (open)

    Our character is Decius Coriolanus, advisor to the Emperor of Tamriel. Our adventure began when we detected the middle aged maid, Cassia, spying on our personal chambers. We traced the espionage as far back as the cook Runa before a couple of characters known as the longstrider twins kidnapped us right out of the Imperial palace and handed us off to some lowlifes for disposal. Fortunately, the lowlifes decided to double their pay by selling us to bandits who in turn attempted to sell us to elves, which ended with several dead bandits and our agreement to filter elvish information to the emperor. We have just returned to the Imperial City.

    The Elder Council consists of Vitellius, the bureaucrat, Esja Comnena, the Nord ambassador, Amaund Motierre, the Breton representative, Varys, the spymaster, Septimus Gracchus, the usurer, and Domitian, the Marshal of the Imperial Legion.

    narcissistic tagging (open)

    (Or, everyone who has contributed to this thread. Those I've gotten to know are pretty cool, so it stands to reason the others are too.)

    Lithium Flower
    Obsequious Approbation
    hello friend
    Grimgravy
    Storyfag
    Kipeci
    Nevill
    Gauldur's Bait
    Smashing Axe
    Azira
    root




    Our next move (open)
    Approach the palace with as much subtlety as we can muster, disguised if we can, and definitely avoiding the entrance through which we were kidnapped (we know the guards there were bought for sure. If guard rotation is a thing, avoid whichever places those guards are likely to be posted at right now). Return to the Emperor and inform him of what happened, but do not request for bodyguard or any such indiscreet thing. THEN waltz into the council chamber, not horribly discreetly but without much noise and accusatory pointing, either (so a fine line between 1A and 1B, perhaps?). Whoever flinches at your return, arrange it so that the daedric necklace {Author's note: Imperial decree has forbidden veneration of the daedra since the fall of the Septim dynasty.} is found in their chambers (perhaps utilizing our much-abused handmaiden, or someone else), then point them out to the Emperor.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    When a thief wants to go unnoticed, he creeps in silently by night, taking care to wake no sleeper with a careless noise. Decius Coriolanus enters the Imperial Palace during the late morning with the crowd queuing to behold the wonders on display on the lower floor of White-Gold tower. The rabble flock to the museum every other Middas, when the entrance fee is suspended. The peasantry bustles through the green way past the silent swords of the Penitus Occulatus. After having been out for more than a week, I look more ragged than most of them. However, two beggars have joined the throng. You do not smell as badly as they do but no one pays any attention and the guards will not pick out a lack of scent from the crowd.

    The late summer heat fades inside the cool marble. Yellow ropes keep the gawkers a yard from the displays. Occulatus agents strike anyone who oversteps. Minding the museum is an undesirable duty often assigned to build discipline. A doorway behind the guards leads to the private portions of the palace. You loiter near it, ostensibly gazing at Queen Berenziah's signet ring. You glance at the Nord wearing red face paint and nod. He waits a moment and punches a fat Cyrodillian in the nose. The man crashes over a rope and several step forward guards step forward but one remains by the doorway. Impressive discipline. You slip past him.

    "You there. Halt!"

    You bolt. The Nord will spend a few hours in the stocks and then pick up his payment at the drop off point but that will be a wasted bribe if you cannot evade the Occulati. And they a thousand times better than I at this. You tear off your wig and ragged coat as you run around a corner and toss them into a closet. With trousers and shirt in servants' livery, you drop to a level pace. A butler glances around. A familiar face but he doesn't recognize me. Two Occulati dash around the corner.

    "Sigurd," you adress the butler, "will we need another ham for the Middas feast?"

    "Stand aside." The emperor's bodyguards shove past.

    "I just remembered." You clap Sigurd's shoulder and turn back around the corner. "Runa bought four."

    A great many servants toil in the palace and do not all know each other. Some of them see something familiar in your face but the livery throws off their judgement. You find a hefty padlock over the door to your personal chambers. So, the emperor expects me to return. Flattering. No one is observing the hall. You find a servant and ask after the emperor.

    "Heard he's down in the under-vaults."

    Four agents of the Penitus Occulatus watch the iron doors to the under-vaults. You approach them and adopt your most insolent grin.

    "Decius Coriolanus, requesting an audience with his august majesty."

    The captain ventures down the stone steps for a few moments. He returns with an expressionless face. "The emperor will see you. Coriolanus, are my men scouring the palace for you?"

    "Yes. Terribly sorry about that, Captain Maro. For that matter, could you not let word out that I've returned? I'll make it up to you."

    He nods.

    You descend into the most stone catacombs. Some scholars claim the ancient elves buried their dead in the under-vaults but most believe the ayleids used the smooth marble passages for magical rituals. In any case, they have long been a stored numerous ancient, heretical and dangerous objects. White bearded and bald, Emperor Titus Mede II holds an exquisitely sharp dagger. Suddenly, two guards pin you to the wall while a third taps a blade to your throat and a fourth searches you. He draws out your daedric amulet and shows it to the sovereign.

    "Molog Bal?" The old man chuckles. "I've noticed your lack of devotion to the Divines. Now I just so happen to be holding Mehrunes' Razor. Aren't we the old story: two heretics lurking in a moldering dungeon surrounded by stone eyed killers. Oh, let go of him." The Occulati release their hold. "I could reverse all this with a word. Ban the Divines. Reinstitute worship of the daedra. Neither Akhatosh nor Kynareth would strike me down."

    "But you won't do it, your majesty. You wouldn't upset the realm."

    "Yes, but I wouldn't do it because it would be a lie and we've too many too many of those weakening the empire already, like powder between bricks. Look at this: Mehrunes' Razor. Don't the words reek of the Oblivion Crisis, where daedra rampaged across city and field, until Akhatosh himself intervened in the form of a dragon? Well educated people believe that happened. We lie because we think it strengthens our realm. Decius, why do you doubt the Divines?"

    What does he mean by all this? Some way to plumb my mind? Well then, no sense lying without knowing his goals. Might just as easily walk into a trap as out of one.

    "Your majesty, I doubt the Divines because so many fables surround them. You said it yourself: the dragon god Akhatosh defeated Mehrunes' Dagon in battle before the temple of the one. Who could be so stupid as to believe that?"

    He chuckles again. "That is precisely why I believe. My ancestors built this empire on lies and here am I. So then," he sets the Razor aside, "where have you been?"

    "Kidnapped. Had to sell my soul to the Aldmeri Dominion to get back here."

    "You did agree to accept information from them? Excellent. Now we can measure our sources of Elvish information against each other. The Westerosi are moving. The Elder Council will be discussing them this evening. Do not fail to attend."

    Bow respectfully. "By your command."

    ***​

    The rest of the day passes in hiding in the under-vaults. Captain Maro sends rations and a change of clothes.

    ***​

    The Elder Council begins. One of the Occulatus agents stationed outside smirks as you put your ear to the closed door.

    "...several tons more grain than expected. It may be possible to stretch it over four years of winter." Vitellius concludes his speech.

    "Good." Domitian says. "Soldiers don't like dealing with starving rabble. Slaughtering their own cousins never sits well. Another rebellion would destroy the empire. Speaking of which, Legate Quintius reports defeating a thousand Forsworn in western Skyrim. He's chained two hundred captives in the silver mines of Markarth. This should free up most of the Xth Legion."

    You push the double doors apart. All heads swivel around. No one interrupts an Elder Council. Gracchus flinches. The Nord woman and the bureaucrat alike blink in surprise. That's disgust on Domitian's face. Amaund Motierre just hid his first reaction with that smug look. To Oblivion with it! Should have looked at him first. Varys gauges their faces much as I do. Cunning. The emperor smiles for them all to see, wants them to know he cannot be surprised.

    "Haven't missed anything important, have I?" You pull a chair away from the wall and wedge it between the emperor and the marshal. "Sorry, I've been away. I was stolen (more dreadful than you can imagine) right out from the palace. We really ought to give the guards a stern dressing down. By the Divines! What good are they? Oh, look here I am talking all about myself. Should be thinking about the realm and all that. How have you ever held it together without me?"

    The rest of the council looks more stunned than they did when you entered. Except Varys. He struggles to keep from laughing. Unless he's the sort to consider gross incompetence amusing, he's seeing through my act. Perilous. Domitian places his palm on his forehead and breathes out slowly.

    "What about old Ulfric?" You continue. "Is he still attacking Whiterun?"

    "He's still holed up in Windhelm." The marshal grates his teeth. "Perhaps you've forgotten the Westerosi army which is currently sailing up the river to attack him, unless, that is, they've allied together. We can only pray we won't hear the declaration of Skyrim as the eighth kingdom."

    "No." Amaund Motierre says. "Ulfric is too proud and King Robert is a conqueror, not a diplomat."

    The emperor holds up his hand. "Enough. General Tullius has sent the XIIIth and XVth Legions to take Dawnstar. The Stormcloaks have likely pulled back men to defend Windhelm. We will retake the Pale and move the Navy to Dawnstar. We must gain mastery over the Sea of Ghosts. Does anyone have good reason to oppose this move?"

    "It moves the XIIIth and the XVth away from Solitude." Motierre speaks again. "This attack on Windhelm may be a feign. The Westerosi may intend to seize the capital of the province."

    "Not so likely." Vitellius says. "We know King Robert has made an agreement with Morrowind. Windhelm is much closer."

    "A good general knows more than one way to win a war." The Marshal speaks. "The enemy may plan to raze Solitude but the IVth is manning the walls and the XVIth is on its way. No grave danger there."

    "I've good news." Says Esja Comnena. "Some of you have already heard. Jarl Balgruuf has resworn his sword to the Empire. We have Whiterun again. The IInd and the IIIrd, ten thousand cavalry altogether, have advanced to Fort Greymoor."

    "Yes," Gracchus leans forward. "We have a chance to win this war quickly. If those two legions rapidly advance to Windhelm, they can break the siege. Without a single victory or city conquered, King Robert's army will likely not follow him any farther."

    "Yes, but we don't know where Ulfric has placed his armies." The old soldier raises his voice. "Forests grow along the eastern sides of the Throat of the World. An ambush there could easily overwhelm our cavalry."

    "The general knows of what he speaks." Esja says. "We can't hope to hold Whiterun hold without our horse."

    "Now is not the time for cowardice." Says Motierre. "We have to strike a hammer blow on these invaders. Your majesty, allow me to send orders north."

    "How do you others weigh this matter?" Titus Mede II asks.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    As a reminder, the official map and disposition of forces may be found in the original post.

    1A) Urge the attack. Crush the Westerosi quickly!
    1B) Recommend caution. Not worth risking two legions.

    2A) Try to find the Longstrider Twins who kidnapped you.
    2B) Let it go for now. Instead investigate:
    Vitellius
    Esja Comnena
    Amaund Motierre
    Varys
    Septimus Gracchus
    Domitian
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  14. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    I'm glad you are continuing this (although it makes me feel twice as lousy for fridging my thing).

    It seems that Varys is onto the same thing as we are, judging by his reaction. I think we might be birds of a feather. This arguably makes him more dangerous than anyone else on the Council, but I doubt that he is responsible for our kidnapping.

    My money is that the Domitian is plotting something, but I doubt that he would have us kidnapped either. After all, he was counting on us to pitch the idea to strengthen the VI Legion to the Emperor.

    It is unlikely that the old functionary is plotting against us, but not impossible.

    So this leaves the Breton, the Nord, and the usurer. The latter flinched, and his "short war" prediction is naive at best or subversive at worst - both could be explained by the fact that he is just a man of money. The Nord, I thought, had been suspicious in the past but at the moment she is talking sense.

    Right now, the only person acting out of character is the Breton. Previous he seldom spoke but always had something to say. Now he is spouting rather hawkish rhetoric and arguing tactics against the Marshal. He really wants us to go ahead with the attack. Why?

    1B) - because I don't see the point of rushing the attack. We will find out if Ulfric and Robert are allied or not in due time if we wait. If they are not, there is a good change that Robert will attack Windhelm and not Solitude first. If they are, running our cavalry into ambushes will cripple the fuck out of our defensive effort. Remember, the Stormcloaks are rather good at guerilla warfare and that sort of thing.

    2B) - investigate Amaund Motierre, the Breton. Trying to find the Twins is stupid - if we were going to do that, we should have done it before coming to the palace. Now that our return has been made public, they are probably going to lay low. So lets go after the person acting most suspicious in this situation.
     
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  15. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1B
    2B - Gracchus
     
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  16. Storyfag Arcane Patron

    Storyfag
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    A Dark Place
    1B
    2B - Amaund Motierre
     
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  17. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Sorry, got away from the 'Dex for a while.

    1B
    2B - Amaund Motierre
     
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  18. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    1B
    2B
    - Amaund
     
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  19. Usury Arcane

    Usury
    Joined:
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    We argue against the cavalry strike. Not worth risking two legions. The council overrules the proposition.

    We then proceed to investigate Amaund Motierre, the Breton representative.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    The Nord sits on the cold flagstones of the dungeon cell. On the street above, visible only through a small iron grate, the heat and stink of late summer mix with the dust, but little of that filters down. A broken rib aches under his bruised chest. He shifts his leg to distract from the pain and dirt sifts on the stones. The red grooves of his warpaint are mostly undisturbed because the men who beat were careful to avoid the face. They had not wanted to splatter blood on the museum show pieces. The prison warders will put him in the stocks in an hour, if they have not already picked out worse trouble makers for that position. The Nord hopes he will spend the day unfed in the cell and then be released at dusk to his reward. In the past, he has guarded merchants, intimidated debtors, labored at mining and even taken a few turns at burglary. This is the first time he has earned silver in exchange for taking a beating.

    The bolt to the cell door creaks and groans. The thick oaken door swings on its hinges. Decius Coriolanus stands there without a lamp, face covered by the darkness.

    "Recognize me?"

    "Aye." The prisoner nods. "That I do. Wondering whether I picked the bad side of the deal. Those Occulati throw a tough punch. You loot anything good from the palace?"

    "I found what I wanted, so now I want more. Do you know Amaund Motierre?"

    "Never heard of him."

    "A very wealthy man from an old Breton house, with the privilege of sitting on the Elder Council."

    The Nord coughs. "Don't want the job. Ask someone else."

    "Here. This will cheer you." The visitor crouches and rolls a bottle across the floor. The prisoner pulls out the cork and swallows a mouthful of the cordial. "Amaund Motierre lives in the temple district. The priests often speak of his piety. He keeps his correspondence in his study in an iron lockbox requiring two keys."

    "Won't do it. Never been any good at jiggering locks."

    "Can you bring me the box?"

    "Might be able to do that." He looks up. "How much are you offering? Putting my neck on the line and all that, so it won't come cheap. I want to get out of here early too."

    "Let's discuss terms." In the gloom, the other man cannot see your smile.

    ***​

    A pity someone in high places wishes me dead. You return to the palace with a basket of market food. None of the cooks can be trusted not to slip poison into your plate or goblet. A food taster might be in order.

    In your chambers, you gnaw upon a cold pigeon leg. Not near as good as a leg from the palace chefs. Would sell my soul to Molog Bal for a side of Nibbenese roast duck. Doesn't help to know the cook Runa belongs to one of the factions here. Cassia, the maid who spied upon you, has disappeared. Her superiors claim she resigned. Dead or sent afar, no matter either way, will not be seeing her again.

    A hand raps softly on the door. You take up your sword and raise your voice.

    "Yes?"

    "May I enter?" It is the voice of Varys.

    With steel in hand, you open the latch, see he is alone and admit him.

    The eunuch has swathed himself in an elaborately patterned yellow robe. His noiseless footfalls carry him into the room where he shuts the door but remains standing. He fans himself with a paper whisk.

    "You fear someone means to kill you." He says at last.

    "Care to give me his name?"

    "No. I've come to offer you sanctuary. You've greater talent than the rest of the Elder Council allows but not enough. They will grind you down to broken bones. In my mind, that would be a great waste. You could serve the Empire well in High Rock. We have need of eyes in Camlorn."

    "I don't serve the Empire, half-man." You say. "I serve the emperor."

    "There are those who would do away with the latter to save the former." He lays his hand on the door latch. "If you think better of my offer, speak to me. Have you heard the news of the Westerosi army marching through Morrowind? Some five thousand men under the command of Tywin Lannister. His men call him the Old Lion. I knew him once, many years ago. We can be glad, at least, that he holds command of the lesser army while King Robert rules the great host bearing down on Windhelm. The siege may already have begun. News never travels fast enough in war." He pauses. "So often, the fatal blow lands before we ever see it coming."

    You let him out and resume eating the pigeon, snapping the thin bones as you bite.

    ***​

    The Nord limps into the tavern. A rag wraps his left thigh, where the arrow struck. The house guards came close but they had not caught him. The warpaint is gone and he plans to not only rinse the dark dye from his hair but to quit the city for a few months. The next morning, a description of him will be posted on the gates, with a promised reward. He has been lucky in escaping but he is not such a man as to expect luck to hold forever.

    The Nord eases onto a bench with his back to the fire. The townsfolk gulp down broad tankards of watered down ale and sing crude songs. A freckled bard strums at a lute and attempts to sing over them. The men raise a toast to Septimus Gracchus, a few hours past the most hated man in the Empire. Evidently, he forgave the Imperial debt to his house and this meant the Empire could afford to lower its alcohol tax. A server brings a mug to the Nord. After drinking, he notices a note affixed to the mug by wax. It shows only a sketch of a maiden riding a pig. The Nord groans. There is a disreputable inn, (called The Sweet Sow by those who frequent it, though that is not its true name,) two blocks down.

    He staggers the distance and settles into the common room of the Sweet Sow. You are waiting for him in an unlit corner with a mask pulled over your eyes. It is not unusual for a patron to disguise himself. The Nord slides the iron lockbox across the table.

    "My fee." His voice is hoarse.

    You place the gold on the table. He gathers it up and stares at you with his pale blue eyes. He wants me to leave. A very nasty injury to his leg. He must mean to rest here tonight. You nod, wrap the box and depart from the inn. If Motierre's correspondence contains any incriminating matter, you will have him by the throat. However, he will also move quickly to cover himself. He doubtless already knows what he has lost but not who has stolen it from him. Now, I need only spend all night filing the box open.

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

    Time for a little housecleaning.

    (1)
    (a) Ask the emperor to loan you a pair of Occulati Agents.
    (b) Hire your own bodyguards. You know where to get a few (mostly) reliable thugs who will be willing to break the law on your orders.
    (c) Go without guards, hoping to appear as less of a target.

    (2)
    (a) Arrange for the Nord's death. Have to tie up loose ends and all that.
    (b) Let him live. (Please state reasoning for character development purposes.)

    Next post will concern contents of correspondence. Will take a little while. Filing is tedious work.

    Note (open)
    These CYOAs take a lot out of the writer, LithiumFlower. You made up your own setting. Yuge! I only cannibalize other peoples' and it still requires far too much work.
     
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  20. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
    Joined:
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1B
    2B - the Nord proved to be reliable. I may have use for him again.
     
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  21. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2016
    Messages:
    1,099
    Hmm. Let's not discount the possibility that Varys may have been involved all along and that the poisoning/kidnapping has been botched on purpose, in order to scare us into moving to High Rock. Although his proposition was interesting. Our previous encounter with the Emperor was rather...enlightening. Looks like he is indeed wary and probably not a very good fit to be Emperor for much longer. At the same time, it seems that much of our own influence and rank is due to his favor, so loyalty to Him is probably more important than loyalty to the Empire, at least at the moment.

    1a - the Penitus Oculatus are basically Praetorian Guard AFAIK, whose primary loyalty lie with the Emperor. I'd rather have them watching over us than some two-bit mercenaries that can probably be bought as easily as the Nord.
    2a - speaking of the Nord, I really doubt we will have a use for him again seeing as how he will at the very least have to leave the city for a while, and more likely will not bother working with us again.
     
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  22. Storyfag Arcane Patron

    Storyfag
    Joined:
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    6,203
    Location:
    A Dark Place
    1a
    2a
     
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  23. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
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    5,709
    Location:
    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    1a
    2b - This is a guy that can take some punishment if there is a reward. He might turn for money, he might turn under torture - but imprisonment doesn't compromise his loyalty. That's good to know. He doesn't know who we are, and we should keep it that way. But we should arrange for a safe and mildly comfortable (not so much as to reveal our means) place to lay low, make him indebted to us. Assure his loyalty by being an asset to him as he is to us. Might be a while until we can make use of his services again, but a promising asset shouldn't be thrown away on a whim.
     
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  24. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    5,709
    Location:
    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    Also Lithium Flower your Torment CYOA is too good to drop! :argh: I know you're busy atm, all I'm saying is don't forget to return to it when you have time.
     
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  25. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
    Joined:
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    Irrelevant Stuff (open)
    Thanks hello friend and yes, eventually coming back to it is the plan (hopefully). I mean, I set up a contrived whodunnit scenario so the least I can do is see it through, right? Also I have been (very) slowly hacking the system to accommodate a cyberpunk setting in my spare time, so that might be something else for the future.
     
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