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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    I'd prefer a simple retreat over one with complex timing. As a single team mounted on the chariots with the caveat that we send some of the forces ahead sounds good to me.
     
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  2. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    So the winning options are:

    3. A,B,D

    Lyssa will prepare the Foci, she will also help you research animal training while Berty and the Pathfinders will help with building you bombs that can be teleported.

    2. C

    You will keep the book but secure. Lead box, trap, the works.

    And 1...

    Well we have a tie for 1 between Aiii and D.

    I will check back later to see if it is resolved.
     
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  3. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    Aiii is good enough for me. Flop me to that.
     
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  4. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Wait, what tie? It was 3 votes for Aii and 2 votes for D.
    Ah, I see. Azira was still counted as Aiii. At least now we can blame him.

    Frankly, even I am not sure if Aiii is good enough, since it has a chance of not triggering at all (while Aii has a chance of not catching any mages if the trap is discovered).

    In that case, please consider 'GTFO as soon as possible' as more important than 'inflict maximum damage', as all three voters have agreed to it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
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  5. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    Yeah, well so much for not following the tallies. Yep. I was an Aii supporter all along, just mentioned I found the notion of fleeing on the chariots while pelting the opposition amusing.

    I'll take the blame if everything works out fine. If not, blame Grimgravy :troll:
     
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  6. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Well, the votes are not yet closed. You might still consider it. :)

    The way I see it, Aiii has more chances that our main trap will work, at a cost that if it doesn't, the building will be left standing and it might make our lives harder than they need to be. Aii, as archaen have noted, is more probable to get noticed, but it will almost certainly detonate when they send someone to disarm the trap. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that this someone will be a mage, and not a ghol or a mercenary if they have them.

    I find the possibility to catch 8 mages at once as they cast their spell very tempting, even when taking the risks into a consideration.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
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  7. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Alright, updated.

    Sorry about that, I will update the tally.

    Current Tally:

    Show Spoiler
    archaen:
    1.Ai, 2.C, 3.ABD

    Azira:
    1.Aii, 2.A, 3.BDE

    Nevill:
    1.Aiii>Aii 2.A 3.BD

    Absinthe:
    1.D, 2.C, 3.ABD

    Grimgravy:
    1.Aiii, 2.A, 3.BDE

    Jester:
    1.E, 2.C, 3.ABD

    Kz3r0:
    1.Aii, 2.C, 3.ABD

    1.
    A)
    i. 1 vote
    ii. 2 votes
    iii. 2 votes
    iv.
    B)
    C)
    D) 1 vote
    E) 1 vote

    2.
    A) 3 votes
    B)
    C) 4 votes

    3.
    A) 4/7 votes
    B) 7/7 votes
    C)
    D) 7/7 votes
    E) 2/7 votes


    So now we have...

    Another tie. :lol:

    With two votes for Aii and two votes for Aiii.

    I will check back later I suppose.

    :troll:
     
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  8. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    Fangshi I'll flop Aiii. The TWM isn't here and he is the one most likely to look for traps in traps. I have this vision of him getting back just in time to watch all his allies go up like a Roman candle. One can hope.
     
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  9. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Wait! Before we put the journal away, might I request that we keep that single page to ourselves? It isn't warded or otherwise dangerous by itself, and I might have an idea of how to use it. :)
     
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  10. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Alright, Aiii wins. The update should be up within sixteen hours as soon as I have a moment.

    Sure, you can keep it if there are no objections.
     
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  11. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    I only flopped to avoid the reported tie. Seems that actually led to a tie? The vote by archaen absolves me of all responsibility for negative results. Yay! Though I will follow the good Azira and take credit should things work out.
     
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  12. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    I accept no blame. The dice gods hold our fate in their fickle hands and sometimes crit happens.
     
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  13. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Well I can't blame this delay on work, the update is just really big.

    The update is about half done but given the way the rolls went (and there are a lot of rolls for this one) it is a long one.

    I think it might even be as long as the reveal in Nine's mind when it is done, maybe twenty pages or so (I am up to twelve at the moment, I could probably cut a page of content if needed though it might ruin the flow a little.)

    However I am out of time for the moment so I am going to have to bump back the update by twenty hours or so until I have another evening/night/morning to work on it and some time to try and catch all the errors I will inevitably make.

    Hopefully this will not become a habit and the next update will be on time. My apologies.



    As a consolation I do still have those other two interludes sitting about (right in front of me to be exact).

    I could post one of them in forty eight hours or so to make up for the delay in actual updates should anyone want.


    As a reminder the two remaining choices (with their working titles) are:

    1. Serpent and Chrisitine: The Worrier King

    2. Nanshe: The Golden Empress

    So yeah, feel free to vote for one if you are interested and I will try to have the update out as quickly as I can.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
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  14. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Well... we couldn't possibly have failed that spectacularly, could we? That is an encouraging thought...

    Ah, who am I kidding, we've been captured and are being dragged to the Watcher right as we speak. :negative:

    No cuts! We need moar textwalls!

    As for the interludes - Nanshe, of course! I want to see the Thin White Mage's failures up close.

    That page we tore out of the diary? It is not often you get your hands on a written confession from one of the Watcher's minions that their master sucks compared to another archmage. I wonder if it might be worth something to one of the Shades. :lol: If the behavior of the Fallen Lords are of any indication, the mages must hate each other guts and seek ways to undermine the others in the eyes of their Master. This was the case with Balor, and the Watcher is hardly above that.

    Maybe we can stir some infighting there.

    2.
     
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  15. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    I'm voting for an update on our poor berserk journeyman turned king. 1
     
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  16. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    I'll keep my Nanshe vote from before. 2
     
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  17. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    2 - wonder what is that pet of V WM.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
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  18. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
  19. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
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  20. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    I think we know that one:
    I wonder why the crows left after its capture, though. Does it command them in any way?
     
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  21. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
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    Greece
    1. Serpent and Chrisitine: The Worrier King
     
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  22. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    It is done! Thank god it is done!


    Now I just need to (try to) edit it... maybe another hour or two or three...

    :negative:


    Current Interlude Vote:

    1. 2 votes
    2. 6 votes
     
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  23. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Chapter 45: The Battle of Blackrock IV

    "Everything ready?" you ask the Pathfinder as he approaches.

    Bari remains along with most of your command group to oversee the last stages of your plan, the rest of your forces should already be back at the fort by now. You do not need them for this and you do not wish to risk them unnecessarily; no, you will need every one of them for the fight that is coming. You just hope this works and you will live to see that fight.

    He responds with a curt nod, "Just about. How much time have we got?"

    Your spyglass affords you a clear view of much of the valley leading toward the fort. Below you and before you march the enemy. Long, thin columns of heavily armoured thralls and slowly drifting soulless stretch out into the distance.It is a surprisingly colourful sight. You scan the advancing lines and each thrall, each soulless is marked with a scrap of cloth, a flag, or simple dyes. A half dozen different patterns catch your eye but most are a variation of one of three general designs.

    The first incorporates reds and golden hues that contrast 'nicely' with the blues and greens of the corpses. These designs take the shape of burning bodies prone or standing. Some show a figure walking, some running, and a few even seem to turn and look at you, as if aware that you are watching them. The thought sends a shiver down your spine. Despite the differences in form each of the markings share one other thing in common, each mark contains three figures, three corpses, each aflame.

    Those marked with the red brands worry you. There is an order to their advance, a cautiousness, you had not expected. They trail behind the other undead and stick largely to the wagon train where a single great red banner dominates surrounded by a dozen cloaked figures.

    What the red undead demonstrate in caution the rest more than make up for in recklessness.

    The remaining undead largely fall into one of two camps. The first is marked by a brilliant blue eye on a field of black. The second by a black tome on a field of sea blue. At first you had mistaken them for a single unified force but on closer inspection it becomes clear that they are competing with one another to reach you first.

    A smile creeps onto your face as they march forward. They are behaving exacting as you want them to, hopefully they will even overextend themselves and provide you with an opportunity to thin their numbers as you retreat.

    You plot what you will do to them but your plans quickly come to a grinding halt as you focus on the front of each column. At the head of each group floats an archmage, one male and one female. You are certain they are archmages, even from this distance you can feel the power rolling off of them as they make no attempt to hide it or conserve it. Their wizen flesh, their tattered robes, their corroded blades, all speak of age and decay, ruin and death.

    They are Shades and things are about to get very interesting.

    "Bari," you lower your spyglass as your face clouds over, "I want everyone in a chariot within five minutes."

    You have no intention of fighting a Shade, let alone two, out in the open like this. One well placed Dispersal Dream right now and your entire group could be wiped out.

    Bari gives you a reassuring grin, "Don't worry Derryth. We will be ready to go when the time comes and we should have plenty of warning as well."

    A small explosion cracks out through the mountains and you once more raise your spyglass to glimpse a half dozen thralls disintegrate into the air.

    "Told you," Bari chuckles as he turns about and quickly strides back towards his team.

    Wyrd, you hope this works.

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

    "Ha! Now this is living!" Bari shouts from the chariot next to you.

    Your cluster of chariots kicks up an impressive cloud of red dust and dirt as you whip along the mountain path.

    So far the plan has gone exactly as, well, planned. That is not to say that you are safe yet though.

    Sure enough the enemy soulless broke off from the rest of the column and swept toward your position.

    You expected that to happen.

    And just as surely the enemy Shades did everything in their power to remain at the head of their forces.

    Again this did not surprise you.

    What did surprise you however was what happened next.

    You had carefully monitored their approach as they navigated the minefield your Pathfinder friends had erected. After the fourth of fifth explosion they had each decided to cut their losses and proceed without their thralls.

    Their progress after that went far more smoothly.

    Still this was all to be expected and by the time they reached the structure you were already gone, on your way back up the winding path to your fortress.

    The only real risk left now is that some of the soulless will be able to cut off your retreat by floating up the side of the mountain.

    Unfortunately you are never going to fit around many of these turns bunched up as you are. Your chariot begins to slow as the captain waves four chariots forward. Bari, Alvis, Stori and Neel sweep past you in the first group.

    The Captain leans over and shouts in your ear, "We need to take these turns in groups of four! Any more than that and we might have an accident! They go first, we go second and the remaining chariots will screen our rear!"

    The chariots carrying you, Thaïs, Lyssa and Uttu form up into an evenly spaced block while the remaining chariots deploy in a screen around you. You can not help but notice that he is placing you and your immediate associates in the least amount of danger, the Captain seems intent on seeing you back to the fort safely and professionally.

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

    You are over halfway home as you roll around the bends in the path. You can see the towers of the fort, just a little farther and you will be safe. Or at least as safe as you can be given the terrifying undead abominations chasing you.

    For a moment you count your good fortune then the next sight you see causes your heart to drop.

    From a large crack in the mountainside, largely obstructed by bushes, maybe ninety or so metres ahead figures have emerged.

    They are dressed like thralls but from the way they race about it is clear they are human. They must be more of the Thin, White Mage's followers. It seems he planned for his defeat and left you a parting gift.

    They are not what concerns you though, what concerns you is the single robbed figure with them.

    He wears rags and carries a rusted blade. He turns toward the lead chariots and he grins.

    As he does so he begins to float and a wave of power lights up your mind.

    A terrifying thought hits you.

    He is a Shade, or comparable to a Shade, and he is in your path.

    Worse yet, your lead chariots, Stori's, Alvis', Bari's and Neel's, they are all well within range and far too close to one another.

    Your people scatter, trying to spread out but there is only so much room on the path.

    The Shade raises his blade and produces a single glowing, green stone, bigger than his fist.

    He looks right at you as he unleashes his spell.

    The Dispersal Dream.

    You have only ever heard about it in stories from the wars but what little you know is terrifying.

    Now you have to watch as it tears your friends apart.

    It is hard to describe.

    It begins as a charge in the air, a metallic taste that catches your tongue then move deep into you. Your joints begin to aches, your hair stands on end, your ears begin to throb with a dull pain.

    Then it bursts forth with a crack and a pop.

    The horse on Stori's chariot explodes spraying both rider and passenger in viscera and a thick coat of blood but that is only the beginning.

    You wonder if the others can see it, feel it, the overpowering, mind shattering power that leaps from the blasted remains of the horse to the chariot and its driver, both of which 'pop' as a shower of blood drenched splinters, a thousand sharp shards of misery, pierce the air.

    Stori is thrown clear off the chariot but he will die all the same, the spell has infected him and after a momentary delay he too bursts as he strikes the ground.

    The blood drains from your face at the sight. You remember a childhood fair, dirty and hungry, you remember stealing a watermelon twice the size of your head, you remember being chased, you remember being cornered, you remember tossing that great melon up into the air.

    You remember the mess it made when it landed.

    It is all you can do to avoid vomiting over the side of the chariot.

    A quick glance to your friend yields a sympathetic nod, hell, she probably remembers that memory too.

    Astrid gasps.

    Uttu cries.

    But you are a mage and you know it is not over yet.

    The charge that hit the chariot, it split, branching out and striking Alvis' chariot.

    Horse, chariot, driver, each splatters the path, churning it into a sickening sludge.

    You want to look away because you know it will hit Alvis next but you can't pull your eyes from the scene. You watch in silence.

    The old dwarf is quick, quicker than most but that matters little now.

    All it means is that he will get a little farther before he-

    The pop rings out again through the mountains as another good dwarf falls.

    The spell dances before your eyes, leaping from one target to the next, using your companions, your friends, as its carriers. Each ensures that the person next to him and behind him will die with him. Each damns those he strives to protect.

    Bari's horse and chariot explode next, but there is something different about this explosion.

    It is not fuelled by magic.

    As the dust begins to settle you see the Pathfinder and his driver lying in the dirt.

    You smile, "That brilliant bastard," you mutter, "He broke the chain."

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

    "Holy fuck," the young dwarf yells.

    "Steady lad," the old man replies, "And whatever you do, don't fucking slow down."

    He has only the faintest idea of what just happened but he sure as hell is certain it was not good.

    That thing hovering in front of him must be a mage, no, not just any old mage.

    A Shade.

    He would bet his life on it, which come to think of it is probably not worth much right now.

    He is also pretty Wyrd damned certain that whatever fucking spell was just thrown their way was meant to kill them all.

    He is certain because the smug smile that thing was wearing a second ago is gone, replaced by a look of slight concern and annoyance.

    Carefully it tosses the dull stone it holds away and begins to reach towards its robes.

    Whatever that dwarven fellow did, it saved him, bought him time, but likely not more than a few seconds, he might be able to loose an arrow but it would be close.

    "What are we going to do sir?" the kid asks, beads of sweat running down his face.

    "Kill ourselves an archmage," the old man replies with far more conviction than he feels, "That or die heroes."

    The Shade raises his blade once more.

    One shot.

    With a confident grin he withdraws another glowing green stone.

    In the head? No, there is no guarantee that would kill this thing. Then where? There has to be an answer, right?

    It begins to cast, just like before, it is building to something.

    Neel shoots.

    And he hits.

    The stone flies from the Shade's hand as he curses in some ancient tongue.

    Neel and the driver cheer but their joy is short lived.

    It stops the archmage but only for a minute, rather than reach for another stone the Shade begins to concentrate. His face contorts in agony as he once more raises his blade.

    Neel reaches for another arrow, more out of instinct than anything else, his mind knows that he is fucked. Simple as that really. He won't be able to stop this next one, not with a single arrow, he would have to hit that thing with far more than that.

    Far more than that...

    He grins. Well, fuck, he may die today but he is going to take that ugly son of a bitch with him, "Kid, when I give the signal I want you to jump."

    The charioteer looks up at him as confusion gives way to understanding, guilt, then determination.

    The kid nods.

    Good. At least one of them will survive this. Now he will just grab the reins and-

    A elbow to the stomach knocks the wind out of him. A forceful shove throws him from the vehicle. Thankfully he has the presence of mind to cover himself as he hits the trail, skidding along in the dirt and the sand.

    He manages to raise his head as the spell hits the kid's chariot, "Fuck," he mutters as he rolls to the edge of the path, "Fucking kid..."

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

    To be selected.

    It is all he has ever wanted.

    To carry out the Master's will in the world.

    He will crush these children as he has crushed so many others.

    He will show the world the power of his magic.

    He raises his stone.

    Pain.

    It shoots through his hand as the stone flies from his fist.

    No matter. He has more but first he will deal with the insect that dared to sting him.

    He pushes on. He will triumph. There can be no doubt.

    The Dream strikes home.

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

    He should be at his mother-in-law's place today.

    He should be listening to her bitch and moan about how he was never good enough for her daughter. About how he is a 'simple fucking peasant', so far beneath them as to be worthless.

    Never good enough as a recruit.

    Never good enough as a soldier.

    Never good enough as a guard to the king himself.

    You would think that would impress her, but she wants an officer for her daughter.

    He should be there, instead he is here.

    Some fucking luck.

    He laughs at the thought. He wonders if maybe after today she would consider him 'good enough', ah, fuck it.

    If there is one thing he does not regret it is that he will never have to listen to that old harpy again.

    If there is one thing he will regret, it will be that he never got to say goodbye to her daughter.

    It kills him, ha, kills him... but there are some things a person has to do for themselves. His mission is to see these people safely home and he intends to do everything in his power to complete that mission.

    He drives the horse on, if he can just get close enough, build enough speed, this might just work.

    As the thought crosses his mind his horse explodes.

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

    The scene of carnage that unfolds in front of you would be impressive if it were not so disturbing. The Shade miscalculated with that last attack, too close, he cast it too close to his own mercenaries and it cost him every one of them.

    Neel's chariot barrelled forward, the driver threw him off, then the spell hit and as horrible as it sounds you sighed in relief. Neel would be hard to replace.

    The horse, the chariot, the driver. One great explosion but not the only one.

    The spell spread backward.

    It leapt and jumped among the Shade's soldiers. Few had time to run, few had time to do anything at all as one by one they painted the side of the mountain. Rattling and popping as they puffed out of existence.

    Spent, the Shade reaches into his cloak, no doubt looking for another stone.

    You won't give him the chance.

    Uttu hits him in the shoulder with an arrow and he takes a step back but quickly shrugs it off. He is a tough one, that is certain.

    Not taking any chances you unload on him with a greater firebolt. The spell tears through the rock, it claws up the earth, ignites the air and slams into him with the terrifying roar of some ancient predator.

    Mere seconds after it strikes home a second spell crashes into the mage. Lightning rips narrow cracks in the mountainside as a greater energy bolt leaps and bounds toward the mage. The spell booms in your ears as it connects.

    The archmage wobbles on his feet as the flames burn about him and sparks arch across his body.

    Slowly his hand moves an inch, somehow he is still alive and still trying to cast.

    The taste of frost and magic dances across your tongue and you shiver as a desperately cold wind begins to blow. Chunks of ice, some as big as you fist, pelt the mage. A few bounce off harmlessly but most punch deep holes in his wavering form.

    He takes a step towards your racing chariots, then he takes a single step back before his legs burn through and break off at the knees. He tips backward and unravels as he strikes the ground.

    The Captain runs him over with your chariot and your remaining chariots follow suit.

    By the time you are done there is nothing left of the Shade but a few handfuls of dust drifting off on the wind.

    "Turn around," you order the Captain, "We need to check for survivors."

    "Sorry," the Captain replies without taking his eyes off the road, "I can not do that."

    "Like hell you can't!" you shout, "Turn the damn chariot around now! Or I will-"

    He gives you a dark look, "You will do nothing young lady! You will stand there quietly and let me do my job to protect you."

    "But they may be alive!" you insist, ready to leap off the back of the chariot.

    He grabs you firmly by the arm, "They won't be by the time we turn around. We have an army pursuing us! Even now they are scaling the mountain and they have at least two more of those things with them! I will not take that risk!"

    "Then let go of me! I will go back myself!" you shout in response, desperate to see to your friends.

    "I can't let you do that and you know it!" he tightens his grip, one eye always on the road, "If you jump off then your friends will as well! They sure as hell won't abandon you! Do you want to put them in danger? Do you want to put that child in danger?" he gestures to Uttu, currently watching you like a hawk.

    "I-" you begin but are quickly cut off.

    "Just shut up for once," he turns his full attention back to the road, "I want to go back there just as much as you do but sometimes we don't get what we want. You have a responsibility to your people and I have a responsibility to you. So we are going to leave them and it is as simple as that."

    "You know I could scramble your mind and drive back there myself," you respond coolly.

    He matches your tone exactly, "Then do it. 'Cause it is the only way you are going to get the reins."

    As you scan the other chariots you realize that your little discussion is being repeated in each of them. Thaïs and Astrid in particular are adamant in their desire to turn around.

    You whistle to catch their attention, "We can't go back."

    They begin to protest, wearily you shake your head, "That is an order," they do not like it but they cease their struggling for the most part.

    The Captain is right. By the time you get turned around, get back down the path, and treat your wounded the enemy will be on top of you. That is not a choice, it is suicide.

    He releases you, "Happy now?"

    "Yes," he grunts in response, "I am serious Derryth. No matter what it takes I am going to see you and your friends back to Myrgard, you have my word on that."

    A cold comfort.

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

    "How- how- just how could you leave him Derryth?" Astrid asks quietly, she is beaten, the wind taken out of her.

    "I- I did not really have a choice," is the best response you can muster.

    Myora and your soldiers help clear the courtyard and Berty and Biliku race up. Biliku hugs her sister as she mutters, clearly shaken. Berty whistles trying to get your attention but right now you have to see to Astrid first.

    "Oh, what?" her breathing grows shallow and quick, "What will they do to him? Is he even alive? Will they torture him? Will they kill him? Willtheystringhimupandturnhimintoathrall?" she doubles over, rocking slightly.

    Ori catches you attention and as you lean down he whispers in your ear, "This is her first time fully in the field. Without a safety net so to speak."

    "Astrid?" you try to catch her attention.

    "Ican'tbelieveitIcan'tbelieveitIcan'tbelieveit," she mutters repeatedly.

    Thaïs tries to calm her, "Astrid? Astrid just listen to us. Everything will be alright."

    She can't hear her.

    "Astrid is it?" Ceannard speaks up as he hops from his chariot, "They are right. It will be alright, and I know it will be alright because I saw your Bari, that Neel fellow and the surviving driver make for that hole in the rocks. They slipped into the tunnel system. They are alive, I am sure of it."

    She stops rocking, "Really?"

    He grins, "On my honour as a gentleman."

    Her breathing begins to slow and she nods to herself, "We have to find them."

    "And we will," you reassure her, "But we have to break that army first."

    For a moment you consider digging out all those tunnels you collapsed to bury the Watcher's shard but you can not justify that, not on the faint hope that it will help you find three lost soldiers.

    "How?" she replies, "I will do anything I can to help."

    Good, you need her focused and working not worrying about her friend and so you give her, her task, "Well I have a few ideas. I need you to work with Ori and Berty to build me something. Bombs, but of a very particular nature."

    You gather together Astrid, Ori and Berty and lay out your requirements. You need explosive devices that are unique and easy to remember. They also need to have large and clearly visible pins or arming devices that can be quickly separated. You want something compact, you want something deadly. You ask them if they can do it.

    "Hell Derry, I will give it a shot," Berty replies with a wide grin.

    Ori nods once as Astrid's gaze lingers on the gates. Reluctantly she turns and the three of them head toward the armoury to see what they can come up with.

    "Think they will manage?" Lyssa asks.

    "They will have to," you respond quietly, "Then we will find Bari and Neel."

    Ceannard coughs uncomfortably, "Look, Derryth... don't get your hopes up about finding them."

    You spin on your heels and catch the mercenary staring at his boots. You have never know him to be a pessimist, "What are you saying?"

    He stands in silence.

    Thaïs asks what you are both thinking, "Are they dead?"

    He takes several steps towards the pair of you and drops his voice to a barely audible whisper, "I- I don't know. They weren't moving when I last saw them."

    "You lied to Astrid then?" you whisper in response.

    "No- Yes- Ah, maybe. They might have been alive and they might have made it to the tunnel that Shade came out of but I don't know," he shrugs, "I told her what she needed to hear. Sometimes, sometimes you have to lie a little to motivate people, you know? I," he coughs uncomfortably, "I should see to my men."

    Once more he drops his gaze, slowly turns around and walks off toward his men. Otto and a few other officers run circles around him, badgering him for information but he remains unresponsive as he disappears inside.

    "So they might be dead after all," you mutter with a sigh.

    "Or they might be alive," your friend is quick to remind you, "Either way there is nothing we can do for them right now. Better to focus on what we can do."

    You nod, she is merely saying what you already know, "Take Lyssa and the girls up to our tower. I will be up shortly, we have a lot to see to and little time to do it in."

    As the four of them disappear into the building you are left alone in the eerily quiet courtyard with the Captain.

    He shifts uneasily, "Well I had best be seeing to my soldiers."

    He begins to walk away, "Captain!" you call out after him as you quickly close the distance between you.

    "Yes," he replies flatly.

    You adopt an authoritative tone, "I need you to follow my orders."

    He smirks slightly, "I need you to make it back alive."

    You tense and attempt to stare him down, "I am serious Captain."

    "So am I," he holds you gaze, "Look, I get it. You are the adventurer, you are in charge here, for all I know you do this sort of thing every week. But I am a soldier and I have my orders. I will not fail in that duty. Understand?"

    He is not going to back down on this. Reluctantly you nod.

    "Good," he gives you a wink, "Just keep yourself safe."

    He turns and once more heads toward the stables.

    "Captain?" you call one final time.

    His head turns ever so slightly as he pauses in mid stride.

    "What's your name?" you ask, "I feel stupid calling you 'Captain' after all this time."

    His answer comes swiftly as he walks on, "Hámundr, my name is Hámundr," and with that he slips inside into the dimly lit stables and joins his men.

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

    It is a cold night, and dark. You stare out your window into a starless sky and you can not focus.

    Your mind in thousands of kilometres away.

    The clouds rolled in a few hours ago, feels like it is going to rain, and you just hope they are natural.

    In your mind you are standing in a broad, slow and shallow river.

    Your forces were bloodied a little today but in the final estimation you came out ahead. A few archers, a few chariots, a few friends... well best not to dwell on that last bit. There is nothing you can do about it at the moment anyway.

    The sun, that lazy orb of light, hangs low in the morning sky.

    You won today and as you stand in your dark room and look out into the night you await the sounds and sights of another victory.

    Once more in that broad river you cast out your line.

    Half an hour ago your enemies completed their structure. Ten minutes ago the building and surrounding path sprang to life, light pouring off of it, tearing the night apart.

    You can feel it moving through the water, hopefully it will bite.

    You are fairly certain that they intend to use it on the fort. Unlike the Thin White Mage these things, these Shades, will simply overwhelm you with force. You watch their mages scurry about through your spyglass. No doubt they are preparing for some great ritual. You hope they failed to discover your trap or this might be a rather short siege.

    It will be quite the catch, you think to yourself, as you scan the river. A shame Henry isn't here to see it.

    You hear a rap at your door and you know exactly who it is. The way she steps in the hall, the way her fist gingerly strikes the door. You call out, "Come in Thaïs, no sense standing on ceremony."

    Maybe you will not have to dine alone after all...

    The door to your chamber creaks open, a hint of worry in her voice, "Standing alone in the dark?"

    "Fishing," you reply without turning from the scene before you.

    She crosses the room and comes to rest next to you, she proffers a bottle, "I thought you might like a drink."

    "Thanks," you quietly mutter your gratitude and raise the bottle to your lips as you keenly observe your foes.

    The two of you stand in silence, she produces a bottle of her own and sips on it. Shortly thereafter she produces her own spyglass and takes in the spectacle, "Do you think they will fall for it?"

    "Wyrd I hope so," you lean against the cold stone of the tower.

    If you can get even a few of them in the blast it will greatly increase your chance of survival.

    She simply nods, a slight motion that you feel instead of see, "That ambush-"

    You nod, "Our own trick really-"

    She rests her head on the stone frame, "We have to be careful."

    You laugh, bitter and threadbare, "At least he no longer has crows."

    She shakes her head, "We should probably have at least one eagle on hand just in case though. I would hate to lose anyone else to his traps."

    "Bari," you mutter.

    "Did you want to talk about it?" she asks.

    "No," you take a long swig from your bottle.

    Perhaps you were a little too terse, as she asks, "Did you want me to leave?"

    "No, sorry," you shake your head, trying to clear your thoughts, "It helps you know, having you here."

    "I know," she taps her head.

    You grin in the dark, "Yeah, I suppose you do."

    Not one more word is spoken. None are needed really, because it looks like you have got a bite.

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

    Sycorax elbows that little upstart out of her way.

    She was here first. She served the Master longest. She is far more true, far more faithful to him than that usurper could ever be.

    She will lead this ceremony and destroy their enemies.

    Prospero shoves the old bitch back.

    Everything she has lost he has taken. Everything that was hers will one day be his. It is just a matter of time really. He will serve the Master far more effectively than she ever could, that much should be clear to anyone with the eyes to see it. Her time is over, his has just begun.

    He will lead this ceremony and destroy their enemies.

    The elder necromancers form a loose circle around the two Shades. Most present have long ago declared their loyalty.

    Some serve the eye, some serve the tome, all serve the Master.

    "Why don't the two of you just work the spell together," a bored voice calls out from beyond the light.

    She floats into view, dry skin stretched across ancient bone. A horror from the early days of the world. Gullveig, their quartermaster and commander of one third of the Watcher's host.

    "With him!" she shouts indignantly.

    "With her!" he bellows incredulously.

    "Yes," Gullveig insists calmly, "Work together or fight it out, I care not a wit which path you choose but if one of you dies then the survivor will have to explain themselves to the Master."

    The two lesser Shades deflate a little at this realization.

    Gullveig has already lost one Shade today, it would be such a 'shame' to lose any more. She would not look forward to her next meeting with Bahlíal should that happen.

    It is not that she fears the Mad Goat, fear is an emotion best left to children and the weak, but she does respect his power. It is a primal thing, ancient and bottomless. It has always reminded her of the great summer storms of her youth, deadly, sudden, but not dangerous to the careful and cautious mind. She is confident that he can not hurt her.

    Still, why take the chance?

    It seems the two children she has been sent to mind have finally come to a decision.

    "Fine!" Sycorax shouts, a cruel smile cut across her face, "If he wants to help then let him."

    "Help?" the second Shade scoffs, "You old hag, I will show you how this is done."

    Each selects three disciples, their best and brightest, and quickly the eight mages file into the structure.

    The air begins to hum as the magical signals of the eight mages spring to life. She gives the order to the waiting thralls to prepare the structure to fire.

    Slowly the great doors open, carefully the five metre channelling rod extends. This should be easy, even for this pair.

    She turns from the fort and begins to slowly float back to her tent.

    A shot rings out. An explosion but one that is far too close.

    Hissing, she spins quickly in the air, "What did those two idiots-"

    The blast throws her backward as her concentration momentarily fails. She crashes into her honour guard, shattering the two closest to her, rendering them into a fine dust.

    Lying there in the dirt she counts the explosions, "Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight."

    One for each mage.

    Cursing she shakes her guardians' remains off and lifts herself back into the air. What confronts her, as the smoke clears, is a single gaping hole in the ground, at least six metres deep.

    She coughs, lays a single hand on her hip and grins in spite of herself.

    On the one hand, this will be difficult to explain to the Mad Goat.

    On the other, her personal power base has just tripled in under a minute.

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

    You can not quite muster a cheer as you stand together in the dark but that explosion does make you smile.

    There were mages in there, there were Shades in there, your trap worked but you also know it was not enough. You will need to be ready for the inevitable counterattack when it comes.

    Thankfully you have a few avenues to pursue.

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

    "Lyssa, can you please get it to stay put?" you turn to the witch in frustration.

    It is hard enough to focus without your subject constantly moving.

    It has been three days and the enemy has not made a single move against you. They have not attempted to rebuild the structure either which suggests to you that they simply lack the personnel to make another attempt. If that is the case then your situation has improved substantially.

    However, the enemy forces have also shown far more consistent caution since your trap and you are fairly certain that, that signals a change in leadership. Given that the enemy force had been split into thirds, it is likely that at least one Shade still remains and that thought worries you a little.

    "I am trying Derryth but you have to understand that she is scared," the witch pleads with you.

    "Well, it did agree to this didn't it?" your friend enquires.

    "Yes," Lyssa slowly replies, "But she is an animal and sometimes instinct takes over. Just give me a minute."

    She drops to her hands and knees and looks the hare in the eyes. What follows is a rather heated 'discussion' between your 'volunteer' and the witch.

    While Astrid, Berty and Ori have spent the last three days working on your new explosives you have set yourself the task of creating a means by which you can deploy them.

    Currently you are attempting to determine if living beings can be safely transported by your Retrieve Item spell. If they can, you might be able to use Lyssa's mice and rats to drop explosives into the middle of enemy formations without sacrificing the animal in question or your very valuable gold rings... or at least that is the theory.

    You have not made a lot of progress however. Originally you intended to use a mouse but Lyssa cautioned you against that, if one of them dies and they suspect you are responsible for it then they will become very reluctant to trust you. So you needed something a bit more expendable and Aquila, Lyssa's loyal eagle, was happy to provide.

    He brought you three hares two days ago and it has taken most of that time to convince them that you are not going to kill them, at least not on purpose, and that you will reward them handsomely should they cooperate.

    You suspect you might have made more progress by now if Lyssa did not spend a third of her time crafting foci for your use but the Strengthen Will ritual might be the difference between life and death if you have to do a lot of casting in the near future.

    "Alright," the witch turns back to the two of you, "I think she is ready to try this."

    Reluctantly a little red and green hare hops forward. It is a shame you had to paint her but she needs to be unique for this to work and you are fairly certain there are no other green and red hares nearby.

    You stretch out your hand, close your eyes, and begin to focus on the hare. You picture it in your hands and a weight materializes there.

    You grin, you have done it!

    You have teleported a living being using your spell.

    Your colleagues cheer you on but something is wrong as their cheers quickly turn to screams.

    Your eyes flutter open and what stares back at you is something out of a nightmare.

    The, thing, sitting in your hand gurgles merrily. It is a hare or at least partially so but it also looks to be part cat, part dove, and part sea urchin amongst other things. It looks up at you with six compound eyes and grins, revealing row upon row of razor sharp teeth.

    It coils and springs at your throat but you hit it with an assault spell followed by your fist.

    It hurtles through the air toward Lyssa, "Keep it away!" she shouts and boots it in midair.

    It lands with a wet thump in the corner of the room.

    "Is it dead?" Thaïs asks, stepping around you to get a better view.

    A leg twitches and an eye opens. It rolls onto its back and begins coughing as black smoke pours from its lungs.

    The smoke slowly coils into the air and takes on the guise of someone you have met before, "Good afternoon my saviours," the smoke man bows low as he drifts slightly from side to side.

    "You're-" your friend begins

    "That creature from the Oneiroi compound," you finish her thought.

    "Ah," he gives a contented sigh, "You have no idea how absolutely thrilled I am that you remember me."

    "What do you want?" Lyssa demands of the demon.

    "To help of course," he grins and shadowy teeth spill forth.

    "Ah, how?" the question springs from your lips, "You do not even know what we are trying to do."

    "Ah, but I do," he laughs, "That was terribly cruel of you to throw that small creature into the space between worlds with your little spell."

    "Well we-" you begin.

    He will have none of it, "No, no excuses. That poor little thing has no natural defences what-so-ever and your spell certainly supplied none. Why you could have unleashed all manner of horrors."

    "Instead we got you," you reply dryly.

    He nods sagely, "Instead you got me."

    Thaïs keeps a careful eye on the illusionary demon, "I am afraid I do not quite follow. How is it that you know what we are trying to do?"

    He claps his hands together, "Ha, the little rabbit told me. It told me everything and in exchange I took it to the palaces of Pleasant Slumber. It will make a delightful pet, or lunch, maybe both," he grins again revealing those keen teeth, "You want to transfer living beings through the space between worlds without first constructing a proper gate," he wags his finger at you, "That is quite the gamble. Every time you do it you will have to hope and pray that there is nothing close enough to capture your cargo."

    He gestures to the little goblin wheezing on the ground, "That was but the tiniest trick I played on you. Dangerous perhaps but certainly not lethal to capable mages such as yourselves. Sadly it will die soon and my connection will be broken so I will be brief. If you are willing to work with me, willing to supply me with interesting minds from your world then I will help you in turn. I will send through my goblins, elves and fairies when you use that spell on a living being. I will give you information, I will give you power, and I may even be able to shield the odd messenger should you keep me happy. After all, I can let one go if I know there will be many more to come."

    "Do we have to answer now?" you prod him.

    He merrily shakes his head, "No. I have all the time in the world. If you want to talk to me again then simply send another hare through, or a rat, or a mouse, or what have you. If you do then I will take it as a sign that you wish to negotiate further. If not then I will assume you are not interested," he coyly rolls his eyes away from you and feigns depression for but a moment.

    As the goblin's breathing grows ever more shallow the smoke begins to dissipate, "One last thing my dear, sweet saviours. I would be very careful with what you play with. Not every spirit that answers will be as generous, delightful, gorgeous, gregarious, merciful, tender, loving-" he drifts away into nothingness half way through listing his many fine qualities.

    This leaves the three of you in complete silence as the little elf across the room bubbles away into nothing.

    Finally you break the silence, "So I suppose teleporting live animals is out then?"

    Before either of your colleagues can reply Uttu bursts into the room with a note and Biliku trailing behind her.

    "You can't just run around like that!" the older girl yells as she finally catches her sister.

    "But it is important!" Uttu counters, "And they need to know important stuff right away!"

    "I don't care," Biliku snatches the note from her sister, "They are doing dangerous mage work in here and you can't just barge in."

    You cough, "Girls?"

    Your two 'protectors' snap around at the sound of your voice.

    "Sorry Derryth," Biliku begins but her sister quickly cuts her off.

    "Lyssa's eagle came back! The one that went after the Blackrock guys!" she screams as she grabs the note back from Biliku.

    She shoves it toward you and your friend. It is short, remarkable in its brevity really, and straight to the point.


    To the current heads of Blackrock Securities

    We make good time.

    Called in a few debts.

    Managed to acquire a few dozen horses and a pair of wagons.

    Based on current rate of travel we will arrive within three days.

    Requesting orders and an appraisal of the situation.

    Please enclose confirmation from either Myora or Rand with any instructions to prove authenticity.

    7.3.44.5.123.968.12657.8495032.57586

    Yours in service,

    K & S


    It would probably be a good idea to have a plan in place by the time your reinforcements reach you. The question is what should you do?


    1. Blackrock Reinforcements: They are at most three days from the fort. What do you wish to instruct them to do?

    A) Conceal themselves and wait for an opportunity to attack. You will try to coordinate some sort of offensive with them should the opportunity present itself. Otherwise they are to remain in hiding. Hopefully you will have time to call on them should the enemy launch an offensive.

    B) Immediately attack the enemy. Ideally when they strike the enemy in the rear you will be able to sally forth and trap them between your forces. There are a lot of enemies to worry about though and you likely be outnumbered.

    C) Set up a rendezvous point and use Gate to bring them into the fort. You could use the reinforcements but you also have not spent any time searching for a suitable location to anchor the Gate to. You will just have to try your best.

    D) Order them to enter the tunnels surrounding the mountain and attempt to make their way to the fort that way. They will have to stick to the larger tunnels to avoid abandoning their wagons, horses and any mauls they may have with them. On the bright side though they may find Bari, Neel and the charioteer somewhere down there if they are still alive. However for such a plan to work you will have to dig out the tunnels you collapsed to seal away the Watcher's shard.

    E) Have them conceal themselves as in A but also order them to search for Bari and Neel in the tunnels. You will not link up with them though so you do not need to dig out the tunnels.

    F) Freeform


    2. Information for Blackrock: Your allied commanders have requested an honest appraisal of your situation but do you really want to tell them the (whole) truth?

    A) Yes, you will give them an accurate account of what you know and the forces they will be up against. You do not want them making mistakes because of a lack of information.

    B) You will tell them 'enough', you will give them a general idea of the enemy force's composition and size, you will also warn them that the enemy has mage support. You will not tell them that they are fighting (a) Shade(s). You do not want them to flee on you.

    C) You will tell them only the bare minimum. If you give them too much information they might decide to abandon you.

    D) As B, but tell them that Neel and Bari should be able to clue them in on the specifics.

    E) Freeform


    3. The Demon's Deal: The demon you freed in the Dreaming has proposed a sort of partnership. He will help your spies and saboteurs pass unprotected through the space between worlds. In exchange he will expect you to 'feed' him new and exciting minds. The cost is high but it is not like he will actually hurt them right? He has also promised you knowledge and power should he find one of your 'shipments' particularly interesting. Will you accept this deal?

    A) No. You do not bow to gods and demons and you will not make others do so either.

    B) Yes. You won't be killing these minds, it will just be a sort of extended vacation, from which they can't return, and the rewards for such a deal certainly sound like they are worth it.

    C) Freeform


    4. The Rings: Once you got your rings back you naturally reloaded them. What spells did you store in them? (Simply write in the spell you want for each, the most popular choice will get loaded in, no rituals though).

    Derryth's Ring: ______________

    Thaïs' Ring: _____________


    5. Operation Mole Hill/Assassinate Enemy Commander:

    "Operation Mole Hill:
    Dye all operatives to match the terrain.

    We have the rabbits start digging a tunnel underneath the black tent in the back of the enemy camp. It should be easier for the rabbits to get into position without being detected. The marmots join as they are able.

    We carefully watch the Archmage and mark her comings and going. She spends a lot of time in the back tent. It holds something valuable.

    Once the tunnel is done we have the rodents pack it with explosives and wait for the Archmage to enter tent.

    Pull the pin and hopefully behead the opposing force."

    This will take a little investment on your part so it would be best to start now if you wish to pursue it.


    A) Yes, you will pursue this plan.

    B) No, you will not pursue this plan.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  24. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Party/Organizational Changes:

    Party Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Derryth:

    Loses the Following Items:

    1. 2 Energon Cubes to maximize her Greater Firebolt spell against the Shade.

    The Following Items were returned:

    1. Gold Ring [currently empty]

    2. A Weathered Book,"On the Cycles of Light and Dark" (now with notes on the practices of the Spider Cults of Muirthemne)

    Thaïs:

    Loses the Following Items:

    1. 2 Energon Cubes to maximize her Greater Energy Bolt spell against the Shade.

    Gain the Following Items:

    1. Brass Spyglass (taken from the Fort's supply room.)

    The Following Items were returned:

    1. Gold Ring [currently empty]

    Lyssa:

    Loses the Following Items:

    1. 4 Energon Cubes to maximize her Freezing Wind spell against the Shade.

    Pet Status Update:

    1. Jatayu (trained eagle) - On hand - coordinating efforts with Blackrock Mercenaries

    Bari:

    Leaves the Party, MIA.


    Organizational Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Named Personnel Status Change:

    1. Neel - MIA


    Rolls:

    Show Spoiler
    Alright then. There were a lot of rolls for this update as previously mentioned but very few of them are both subtle and something I can tell you about now.

    Anyway, I will go chronologically.

    The update opens with a number of checks both on your side and the enemy's.

    They were rolling for movement and control. You were rolling to set up your trap and to observe their command structure. They rolled adequately but not exceptionally and took about as much time to reach you as one would expect. You rolled well for setting up your trap and did fine in observing them, could have been better, could have been worse.

    From there it was straight movement rolls to keep ahead of the enemy and avoid collisions. For the most part those checks were quite simple and it would have taken serious bad luck to stumble upon them.

    Then you hit the ambush which had been in place since you left the fort. You should feel honoured as the Thin White Mage liked your trap so much that he adapted it for his own purposes. When the fight began your side was rolling just to survive while the Shade was doing his best to kill you all.

    Casting his Dispersal Dream from the large energon stones he carries with him was simple and it was the first thing he did. The chariots that made up your vanguard were randomized from all available 'associates' of yours. It could have just as easily been Astrid or Ori out front for example. The only chariots that were 'exempt' from such duties were the four belonging to your core group (because the escorts will not knowingly risk you if they can help it) and Ceannard's (because as the commander of the Arrows his loss would be quite a body blow and Hámundr knows it).

    The lead chariot was also randomized. In this case it was Stori but it could have been any of the four. The driver and passenger of the lead chariot each received one very difficult roll (essentially for luck) as there was little they could do to avoid their fate.

    The driver of the second chariot also got a single roll but again the odds were low. Alvis had a few cocktails with him, so he had a chance to blow up his chariot and break the chain. He failed to think of it though in the few seconds where such a decision would matter.

    When it came to Bari, much like Alvis, he had the tools available to break the chain. He rolled and he passed, blowing up the chariot and saving the rest of your group.

    That left Neel's chariot alone with the rest of your group some ways behind.

    He had to make a reasonable difficult shot to stop the Shade from cast with his stone. He succeeded.

    The kid completely blindsided him though so I did not roll for that.

    There was a single pair of rolls to see just how close he would get before he blew up and he did quite well, reaching the enemy line as the spell hit him.

    The mess that followed, followed the same general rules as the first Dream that hit your allies. Each of TWM's soldiers was given a single roll for luck (they had to roll twenty on a d20), naturally they all failed which is really what should happen when a group is hit with a Dispersal Dream.

    Uttu, Derryth, Thaïs and Lyssa each launched a projectile in the next batch of rolls. The mages burnt through as many energon cubes as needed to ensure their spells would be at maximum effectiveness without fully draining them. They did not take any chances with something that dangerous.

    Uttu's arrow did some damage but not a lot.

    Your combined spells though were very devastating and at the end of the day the Shade had no real defenses.

    There was a second set of rolls as well but I can't tell you about those yet.

    The next set of rolls dealt with the remaining Shades and whether or not they would discover your trap. Obviously they failed and you took out a fair number of them.

    Following that each of your groups had a number of R&D related checks. Lyssa worked on the foci and convincing the hares for example.

    You made decent progress on the foci and the explosives though neither is ready yet but you did make a lot of progress on using retrieve item with live subjects.

    When you cast that spell you triggered another roll. There were maybe a dozen different outcomes there (and I won't reveal any of them) but you wound up with the demon and his deal.

    There was a slight chance that the elf might bite your throat but you know heal and so do both of your colleagues so the odds of actually suffering any long term damage were negligible.

    There were also a number of related rolls for actions taken by parties both known and unknown that I can not reveal yet.

    And I think that is it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
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