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In Progress Torment on the Shards, Part 36 - Planescape-inspired CYOA

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by Lithium Flower, Dec 8, 2016.

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  1. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    We know he doesn't care if we get hurt, so we are forewarned that there is some danger and can look to sell him out.
     
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  2. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    A
     
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  3. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    A
     
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  4. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    Sorry everyone, I sort of fucked up my sleep schedule on a busy week so when I wasn't sleeping I was either busy or not feeling like writing.

    Part 17 – A Mere Bribe

    The pleasant room and the soft bed within help you forget who you are and the predicament you are in for the night.

    Rolling... (open)

    ...Recovery die.
    Results: 5, 6, 6; You now have 8 Health!


    The guests are roused early next morning. After a light and short breakfast everyone assembles in the entrance hall. It becomes obvious to you that all of the other guests are treating this visitation as something other than a party: Deadliest Vile looks tense and alert, as if heading to battle; Step-There is nervous; Look-It-Up is saddled with several book bags, staring at them like a stardust addict in withdrawal. Only the Lord-Foreman and Head-Taker appear relaxed. You quietly ask the latter about Look-It-Up and he replies that the manus is a book-taker (an agent of Censors College tasked with retrieving overdue books) and an aspirant to be the next Lord-Inquisitor of Demiurge's Plaza to boot.

    “Let us go over this once more:” Steel addresses all of you, “we shall travel to Lord-Foreman Sees-It's mance and comply with decorum while having all manners of fun. All the while, we should be vigilant. If you hear or see something that may endanger us, let the others know, albeit discreetly. Do not take action unless there is immediate danger against the people in this room. Good? Excellent. Then let us be off!”

    Three Badland Walkers await you outside. The beasts are tall, lumbering things with flat torsos supported by a dozen tentacular limbs as wide as tree trunks. Their faces are located on the bottom of their wide, saucer-like torsos. The great heft of the creatures makes them rather slow but very stable riding beasts. Their crews lower the walkers down, allowing them to be boarded. Step-There grabs Look-It-Up and the two board one of the walkers, probably hoping to avoid you. Deadliest and Head-Taker soon appear to be engaged in conversation aboard another. You join Lord Steel's side on top of the third walker. Besides the two passengers and the driver, there are two more people on each beast: one holding up a parasol and another fanning the passengers.

    You notice that Steel has brought a covered cage with him. Pointing to it, you inquire if he plans to offer Lord Sees-It a gift.

    “No, of course not! How could you think so?” he replies, feigning outrage. “It is a mere bribe.”

    ---

    The walkers arrive at the mance in a few hours. Sees-It's home is on the outskirts of the Badlands, far from any industrial buildings. It is smaller than Steel's manor but visibly more lush, possessing healthy vegetation around it and what looks like a garden behind the property. Curiously, as you approach the mance, you no longer feel the harsh wind and heat of the Badlands but a temperate atmosphere instead, and the smog cover parts above the building in a perfect circle, exposing the Void above.

    This makes you wonder. Such environmental modifications are likely to be the works of magic You suddenly become troubled, thinking that you now remember hearing something about Lord Sees-It, but the precise details escape you.

    The walkers reach the mance. A table and two guards are posted at the door. The guardsmen are a herald and a beholder, both wearing armour of padded purple cloth, white cloaks affixed to them by golden brooches. They are equipped with spears and shields, standard arms for soldiers and guards. The herald guard informs you that only personal weapons are permitted inside, and tells the beast drivers to lead the creatures to the stables behind the mance. Soon the table becomes a weapons rack, courtesy of Head-Taker and Vile.

    The interior of the entrance hall is much more conventionally and richly decorated than that of Lord Steel's manor, almost bristling with all manner of flora. A large and rather lewd fountain takes up the entirety of one of the hall's corners, shaped like a female beholder who is secreting into a basin. Servants with cups are standing by the fountain, suggesting that one is free to drink from it. Two guards – a hammerite and a herald – flank either side of the fountain, watching the room. They have white uniforms with golden buttons in place of armour and carry smallswords at their sides.

    The rest of the room is rather busy with servants (buzzers, all) and guests that have arrived before you. Your eyes are drawn to a very attractive female herald, dressed in a scarlet wig, a tightly corseted bodice, and pink stockings under her bell-shaped skirts. You vaguely recognize her as Loyalty, the Lady-Scribe of Demiurge's Plaza, known to the masses as being completely unremarkable except for her looks. The other guests must be her adjutants and appear to be busy moving her luggage into the mance together with a few of the building's staff.

    Two servants rush to attend Steel but he swiftly bypasses them, keeping the cage close, leaving the room through a side door without as much as a word to anyone. Step-There nervously shifts his weight from one bottom arm to the other, then makes his way in the direction of the fountain. That is when you notice Deadliest Vile and Head-Taker acting strange: the two eye the guards in the room up and down, exchange a skeptical look, then nod to each other. Head-Taker then rears up for the first time and extends a paw towards one of them, gesturing him to come forward.

    After a few seconds of awkward staring, the herald guard crosses the room and faces the two warriors.

    “Where is your leader?” Head-Taker growls. This appears to be his conversational tone, but the guard doesn't know that. The young herald's knees begin to tremble.

    “Uhm...h-he is in the adjacent roo-"

    “Then stop running your mouth and take me to him. I have security concerns,” Head-Taker cuts him off.

    The guard opens his mouth as sweat beads up on his un-wigged forehead, as if to protest, but thinks better of it and leads Head-Taker out of the room. The beholder at your side makes an amused sound, then begins cleaning between his teeth with a knife one of his tentacles swiped from a food tray. Charming.

    Look-It-Up has been standing awkwardly on the corner for the entirety of the interaction, clearly overwhelmed by the amount of people in the room. His first step is a stumble, leading him to spill the contents of his bags on the floor. A servant rushes to help him.

    Wonderful. Steel took off, leaving you standing without instructions as the party hasn't begun yet (at least you don't think so. Probably not? Fuck if you know).

    Still, you should probably find something to do...(choose 2)

    A) Introduce yourself to the lovely heraldress. You've always had a thing for stockings and tight corsets.

    B) Catch up with Step-There. The two of you might not like each other, but he might be the only true ally who could help you with Whisper's request.

    C) Consult with Deadliest Vile about the mance's security. Him and Head-Taker seems to have noticed something that you didn't.

    D) Look around, paying special attention to the mance's interior. You might be able to figure out the approximate number of staff while many are tending to the recent arrivals, plus examine the guards more closely.

    E) Look around, paying special attention to the mance's exterior. You can still catch the glimpse of the guards at the door and the arsenal of seized weaponry with them.

    F) Try to recall the rumours you've heard about Lord-Foreman Sees-It.
    (+) Pull Look-It-Up aside and have him help – two heads (and half a dozen books) is better than one.

    G) Do something else, please specify what

    Notes (open)

    :updatedmytxt:

    Added Look-It-Up and Loyalty to Dramatis Personae section of the journal
     
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  5. Kipeci Magister

    Kipeci
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    D for sticking our nose into operations without having to do something gross like talking to people.
     
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  6. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    F+
    C or D
     
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  7. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    Information is key here. I'm not sure if F or D is the best approach right now.

    Leaning tentatively towards F+>D
     
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  8. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    BC

    Cosmological question: what is the source of light for the Demiurge's Shard?
     
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  9. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    The Demiurge has created a kind of atmosphere for his Shard, which serves as a barrier against Void overexposure. For reasons you don't know, some other Shards have this too, though some don't. The Demiurge have set said atmosphere up to "inject" light and heat towards the Shard in a way that resembles a 24 hour day cycle, only without astronomical objects besides other Shards that happen to be close. Other Shards tend to behave completely different when it comes light and day, though, if those even exist on their surfaces.
     
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  10. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    F)

    Lithium Flower
    I have the impression that this is an assassination that our employer is planning, pity he didn't inform us.
    What kind pf rool is available to verify my suspicions?
     
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  11. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    C & D. Use ability to sense people's thoughts if you happen to meet someone's gaze, and use talents to spot anyhting irregular while performing D).
     
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  12. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    AD + sense thoughts
     
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  13. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    You decide to chat with Deadliest, then look around the interior. Now, for the most important choice you are yet to make...

    Part 18 – Outfit Choices

    You turn to Deadliest and ask him what seems to be the matter.

    “These jokers are the White Cloaks,” he replies, staring down the remaining guard. “An outfit of idle rich kids from the Plaza who decided they've nothing better to do but purchase some fancy arms and uniforms. These guys wouldn't be a problem if they were only good as decorations, but their leadership is notoriously corrupt, too. They've got a bad rap within circles of fighting men.”

    You wonder aloud why anyone with money would decide to hire them if that is the case.

    “Like I said – they make for good decorations,” Deadliest Vile says, shrugging his tentacles,” but I bet that Sees-It has extra security measures to protect him. Even if he is a miser who skimps on protection for his guests, he doesn't strike me as someone stupid enough to trust these guys with his life...”

    You nod, and take advantage of the conversation in order to take a discreet look around.

    Rolling... (open)

    ...2d6+Wisdom
    Result: 8; Partial Success!


    You count the staff in the room, compare them to the number in Steel's manor, factor in Sees-It's apparent cheapness, and try to make a good estimate. You think there are probably only ten servants across the entire manor, maybe a few more, seeing as how there are five attending to the guests, and probably at least that many making up the kitchen staff.

    Then you look over the one remaining guard. Deadliest Vile wasn't kidding. An experienced guard would respond to someone sizing them up by steeling themselves against a possible threat but Vile's stare seems to have pressed this hammerite into the corner. Also it has been some time now and no one has come to replace the missing guard. This suggests to you that there must be only a handful of guards spread across the entire mance, or that communication between them is poor. You wonder what the chain of command between the interior and the exterior guards is like.

    You turn back to Deadliest Vile and ask him if he has ever worked for Lord-Foreman Steel before.

    “No.”

    He seemed to know Head-Taker, so you ask him if he has worked with him before.

    “No. And no, I haven't fucked your sister. What's with the questions, Strider? I am a freebooter, not an autobiography. Nor am I the type to unload my entire worldview on you,” Deadliest Vile sounds bored and annoyed. He licks his lips at the nude statue and goes for the fountain.

    He doesn't make it, though.

    Lord Steel peers into the room from the side entrance through which he disappeared, excitedly calling for his companions to join him. All do, save for Head-Taker, who is still absent. With a spring in his step, Steel leads you into what looks like a dressing room.

    “I've convinced the resident tailor to surrender the manor's wardrobe to us!” he tells you, looking elated, pointing at a very uncomfortable buzzer servant in the corner.

    And what an expansive wardrobe it is. It is brimming with fashions of various shapes and sizes, cut for a variety of races. You wonder what one could find within its depths...no, perhaps it would be more appropriate to measure it by that which couldn't be found within it. Full plate armour, leather harnesses, and manus dancing gloves this wardrobe does not have, but that's about it.

    Your head spins at the sight of all the fabrics and colours. What the hell are you meant to do with this, exactly?

    “Come now – please, do get dressed in something respectable!” Steel offers, seeing everyone's discomfort.

    “Wh-why didn't we do this in your manor, Lord?” Look-It-Up stammers out, looking more confused than you.

    “Because then I'd have to surrender my own wardrobe, as opposed to taking advantage of someone else's,” the herald replies with a grin. You realize that he is sporting a new magenta cravat fashioned from a strange, glittery fabric. Suddenly it shifts, as if moving under his clothes.

    “Positively fab, no?” Steel says, having noticed your staring. “Too bad it is mine. Go find something of your own, quick.”

    You glare at the clothing, completely lost. The rest of Steel's companions don't appear to be any wiser. Finally, Lord Steel snaps his fingers and tells the buzzer tailor to make some suggestions.

    In the next few minutes, you are faced with three outfit choices that fit you relatively well. Great... (choose 1)

    A) Choose a light pink double breasted vest over some charcoal-gray pleated wool trousers, with matching accessories and a conservative wig. This is a simple, stylish choice, one that you are not entirely unfamiliar with.

    B) Choose a midnight blue tailcoat and trousers over an ivory vest, with flashy accessories and an outrageous wig. These are the latest herald fashions. They will make you look almost decent, albeit at a cost: these vestments are very tight and the coat's armholes are very low, so any task that requires freedom of movement will be made more difficult.

    C) Choose a navy-style coat. These military fashions not only fit the occasion, but also allow you to wear your gambeson underneath. It might be a breach of decorum to wear such attire without actually being a part of the Temple Guard, however.

    D) You know what? You didn't sign up for this. Stick with your torn gambeson and musty leather trousers. It might be terribly out of place and downright revolting to anybody who isn't a freebooter deadbeat like yourself, but at least you will have the ability to scratch your ass.

    Notes (open)

    Choosing A or B would entail leaving the gambeson here.
     
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  14. Kipeci Magister

    Kipeci
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    A

    Wigs? Yes please!
     
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  15. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    A (open)
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
  17. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    A.

     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  18. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    C
     
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  19. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    C
     
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  20. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Let's be STYLISH!

    B
    [​IMG]
     
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  21. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    Azira has convinced me. Let's be fabulouse.

    Flopping to B
     
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  22. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    Let's party! B)

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]

    Couldn''t be bothered to photoshop in a wig...
     
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  23. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    Convinced, flopping to B

     
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  24. Lithium Flower Magister

    Lithium Flower
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    Heh, that was a fun vote to watch.
    Your gambeson and coat have been traded in for Ostentatious Fashions (worn, 0 weight, +1 when looks matter, -1 when mobility matters).

    Part 19 – Something Stirs

    You examine the membrane atop your head in the mirror. It looks like a fleshy flower, or something substantially more lewd. Typically you open it at times when a mental link is to be established – now you do it to make sure that it is clean. Its petals close with a wet sound and the wig goes on top. The Demiurge has given your kind these dreadful things and no hair, forcing you to put on these sweaty, perfumed-up things when in polite society.

    Still, you are probably better off as a herald. The aesthetics of your kind appeal to most other races except to the point of sexual attraction, of course. That beauty coupled with the fact that many people of high status are heralds has made you fashion setters (even beholders, most comfortable in something akin to masks, are sometime expected to wear coats buttoned just below the mouths, skirts vented to allow their tentacles some mobility). That is not to mention the preferential treatment Demiurge's creations get compared to the refugee races...though that advantage is reversed when one enters a ward like the Twilight Beastlands.

    Well, you don't look half bad. Perhaps someone might even mistake you for something besides a shardwalker. Although you do find it difficult to lift your arm past your shoulder now...

    You take a look at the others. It is clear that the mani aren not used to this kind of thing – they are wearing their clothes sloppily. Deadliest looks downright comical, for he is wearing a tiny tailcoat as a vest on his spherical body, likely for the purpose of hiding his blades.

    “Regret this whole thing yet?” Steel rapes your ear. “ Now, listen up. This event is meant to be a two-day affair. Greeting and drinking this day, something like a hunting trip the next evening. Knowing the Lord-Foreman, it is unlikely that he will try to do anything untoward today, so if you've anything to report it can wait until tomorrow morning unless it is absolutely urgent, m'yes? Good! Now let's come back before we are missed, the final guests may have already arrived. I'll be out with you in just a moment - I just need to see that this tailor is properly compensated...”

    You do as he says.

    Does he think you for an idiot? You have a pretty good hunch by now that this is more than a protection gig. Then again, it seems queer that an otherwise straightforward person has consistently attempted to pull wool over your ey-

    “Ah, good Lord-Foreman! You've arrived and I've not even noticed, Iamladyloyaltysoverypleasedtomeetyoulookpositivelydashing!“

    You've bumped into the Lady-Scribe upon re-entering the entrance hall. You try to mumble something with “likewise” in it when she thrusts her dainty hand into yours and practically brings it to your lips. You kiss the back of her hand shyly, unsure what else to do. Fortunately she doesn't seems to mind, smiling and batting her eyelashes at you instead. Somewhere, something stirs.

    Demiurge have mercy.

    “Ah...I do so apologize for ambushing you like this. I've been looking forward to making the acquaintance of a person of renown such as yourself,” her smile widens and she tilts her head coquettishly, forcing you to look down into her charming violet eyes. Then she purses her lips, feigning displeasure, and says, “that Lord Belt is always late...I was hoping that you would swoop in and save me from the grim prospects of waiting for him.”

    That is when Steel swoops in and saves you from the grim prospects of talking to Loyalty. Or perhaps he damns you instead? He graciously explains the mix-up, properly introduces you, then states that he is “absolutely, positively thirsty” and asks the heraldress if the two of them could make their acquaintance by the fountain. As she happily nods away to the idea, clearly more interested in Steel than you, she humors you with an amused look.

    “We will talk again, good Strider. Shardwalker, yes? How exciting! I'm sure your expertise will help us in the perils of tomorrow's evening trip.”

    And with that, the two heralds leave you for the fountain. A female manus who had been standing next to Loyalty looks at you apologetically. She is finely groomed and clothed, glasses with thick lenses resting between the pinkie and index fingers of her head.

    “I am Quiet, the Lady-Scribe's chief of servants,” she says in a gentle voice, “looks like the two of us have been abandoned.”

    You nod to that. Suddenly you feel the desire to imbibe some hard spirits.

    “Lord-Foreman Steel has brought quite an entourage with him,” she states, looking with interest at the other members of Steel's crew, who have at this point dispersed through the room. “Are they servants or companions of his, if you don't mind me asking?”

    Before you can answer, a horrible, piercing sound cuts through the noises of the room.

    “Lord-Inquisitor Belt has arrived!”

    Your heart sinks. You turn to the entrance and see a company of newly arrived people. Heading it is a aging herald of an average build and tired eyes, currently in the midst of disrobing. A servant is carrying away a simple but finely-made black travelling cloak to the dressing room. Another is busy with a tall, wide-brimmed hat. The herald must be the Lord-Inquisitor, or someone who fancies wearing their formal garb. Clinging to his side is a creature: a buzzer, naked save for a loincloth, chitin discolored and cracked in many places, horribly bent and crooked like a dying old tree. It seems clear that he is the one who had spoken, his mouthparts struggling to replicate speech, forcing the poor buzzer to strain and speak in a loud, high-pitched tone.

    Is this meant to be the Inquisitor's pet? Why in Demiurge's name would anyone bring something like this to a party?

    “Now, Wretch, this isn't one of those visits,” the Inquisitor says in a low voice that suggest that he did not get much sleep last night, barely looking at the buzzer.

    You ease up slightly. You have heard about this herald – he is the Lord-Inquisitor of Demiurge's Plaza. Unlike the Inquisitors assigned to dangerous districts or working within the College, those assigned to Demiurge's Plaza have typically taken up bureaucratic and oversight roles. In both cases, their powers are usually secondary to those of the Censor representative on the Auspicious Assembly.

    You look around the room and see that one other person has tensed up – Look-it-Up's knees are shaking, his many hands grasping for the bags of books that he no longer carries.

    Behind Lord-Inquisitor Belt are three people of various races dressed in plain clothes, clearly servants, and a fourth who stands out. It is a beholder whose entire spherical body, save for the tentacles, is covered by a porcelain harness, with holes for eyes and mouth. This is more extensive than any beholder mask or glasses you've seen, and those are at times the only clothing some beholders choose to wear. You vaguely recognize this person as well. An infamously peculiar Temple Guard adept, known colloquially either as Master Flagellant or as the Philosopher of Pain. His exact duties and character traits, except for his apparent habit to engage in scarification are unknown – it should be said that it is the qualities that are not known about him that make him a common element in many a horror tale and freebooter anecdote. Perhaps half a dozen eyes of his notice that you have been examining him and all stare at you. For a second, you become shakier than Look-It-Up's knees.

    ---

    And with the arrival of the final guest, the day properly begins. In the morning, eating and socializing; in the afternoon, the guests are able to explore most of the house, marveling at Sees-It's many riches; in the evening, some stay drinking whereas others retreat to their guest rooms.

    In the morning, you will have the opportunity to find out more about...(choose 3):

    1A) Deadliest Vile, freebooter thug
    1B) Look-It-Up, the Censor aspirant
    1C) Steel, Lord-Foreman of the Gambit Badlands
    1D) Head-Taker, his close friend/rival
    1E) Sees-It, Lord-Foreman of the Gambit Badlands
    1F) Belt, Lord-Inquisitor of Demiurge's Plaza
    1G) Wretch, his pet
    1H) Loyalty, Lady-Scribe of Demiurge's Plaza
    1I) Quiet, her chief of servants
    1J) Step-There, your old companion
    1K) Master Flagellant, also known as the Philosopher of Pain

    If you wish to do something completely different from taking part in the drinking and socializing (like running for the hills, assaulting someone with a fork, etc,) you may propose a plan of action instead.

    Notes (open)

    I had trouble deciding how to structure this, choices-wise. Expect either a similar update or one with more choices, setting up something that is larger and covers more events next time. Whatever the fiction demands, I suppose.

    Will add the rest of the part guests to the Dramatis Personae section after next update, since you will probably learn something more about everyone (even those you don't pick) after breakfast. Unless you plan to do something wild, that is.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
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