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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    We are running out of digits to stick in the multitude of pies.
     
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  2. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Definitely, you are going to need more hands eventually. Archmages in this setting are a bit like dragons in Shadowrun, plots within plots, traps within traps, if you want to hold your own against them (or even become one of them) then juggling plots will have to become second nature. Should be fun if nothing else. :salute: :lol:

    A short update on the update.

    The new and improved update is about two thirds of the way to where I want it, so I am getting close and hopefully it will not take too much more time to finish and edit.
     
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  3. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    So sometime Thursday? :M
     
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  4. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    At least it won't be Friday.

    Only 16 more pages and you too will believe a Golden Berty can fly! ;)



    Honestly though it will likely be up some time tonight or tomorrow, if I can do it in under thirty pages then great, if not... well I would rather you have the info needed to plot and scheme if necessary given the sheer number of factions and plots at play here and the information network you are slowly building up. I would normally just break it in half and post some now and some later but I still have to edit it and recheck the clues in it, something I would rather do all at once.

    Edit:

    One final update on the update for those that are waiting on it (so as not to leave you in doubt). The update is now technically done but I want to spend an hour or two editing it and re-read it once or twice to see if there are any important omissions or anything you should not know yet that I might have
    accidentally written in.

    If I decide that sleep is for the weak then the update might just be up in the next four hours.

    If I decide that I am weak and need sleep then the update likely won't be up for twenty four hours or so as I won't have time to work on it for twenty hours approximately.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  5. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Right, the update is done. I just have to copy and paste it.

    Unless you have a lot of time and patience I would recommend reading it in chunks as it is very large (14,000 words) and it is all essentially 'talky' parts rather than battle scenes and the like. Hopefully there are not too many mistakes left but I doubt I caught them all...

    I am never going to do an update that big again... I swear...

    :negative:

    The update will be up as soon as I remove all the double spaces copy/pasting from word seems to create. It might take a while. :lol:

    The mechanics update will be up as soon as I can manage it.
     
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  6. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    1,997
    Chapter 52: The Second Coming

    Nephila sways slightly in the dim light as you consider your next move.

    You already know what you want to do, you are just not terribly certain that it is a good idea.

    "Ah, Derryth," Ceannard whispers from behind you, "What should we do about this young, lady?"

    The demon grins and winks at the mercenary, "Flatterer but I am far older than you are handsome."

    He shifts uncomfortably under her gaze.

    "We free her," you reply, quietly at first and mostly to yourself, as if to test how the idea tastes. Then with a nod you repeat yourself, louder, more confident now, "We free her."

    "Alright," Lyssa shrugs, "Why not?"

    "How should we go about it then?" Thaïs enquires with a slight smile as the three of you form a loose circle to discuss your options.

    Seems neither of them cares to argue about this with you, it is almost as if they expected this to be your answer and now that the formalities have concluded you can all set to work.

    "That, ah," Ceannard coughs, "That seems like a bad idea ladies."

    "Nonsense," Thaïs waves off his concern, "We will naturally extract some sort of oath or contract from her for her freedom."

    You nod, Nephila has already listed your options in that regard, agreements, contracts, these things come naturally to demons but what you are interested in is the most permanent sort of arrangement possible.

    You will extract from her an oath.

    A blood oath.

    But first certain niceties must be taken care of.

    Your tiny circle breaks as the three of you turn to face the mercenary. Your collective gaze joins Nephila and he visibly stiffens, uncomfortable under the attentions of so many spellcasters, "Is there something you needed ladies?"

    "Yes," you grin, "We will need a horse, live if possible, we will need a couple barrels of that awful swill we have been drinking for the last week, we will need equipment, ah," you turn to Nephila and she gives you an appreciative nod and a warm grin exposing her needle like teeth.

    A chill runs down your spine, a holdover from the dim, primordial days of your species. You suppress it, you are a mage, you are not her prey, you are her equal and you will behave as such whether your body likes it or not.

    She thinks for a moment, "Leather armour if you have any, it will be easier to alter. A hood, a cloak, a mask if you could, as for weapons, really anything will do. I would prefer something light and quick if you have it though."

    The mercenary merely shakes his head and mutters something about contracts, he turns his gaze back to you, "Anything else?"

    You reply readily enough, "Some sort of vessel, a cup or tankard perhaps, something big and easy to handle."

    The mercenary makes for the door as Nephila sighs behind you in disappointment. You are certain that she wanted something a bit more, special, for her first oath.

    You look to Thaïs and she looks to you. You both shake your heads and she speaks, "Ceannard, make that vessel as ornate and as impressive as possible if you could."

    In the shadows of her cell Nephila squeals with glee.

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

    "Alright, one more time from the beginning," this is a lot to absorb and you are a bit distracted as well.

    You have been questioning your new 'friend' on recent events in the Dwarven Kingdom and the 'history' of her own people. It is fascinating information and all three of you sit in a row taking notes as the demon circles her meal.

    She has the horse strung up and is bleeding it before she sets to work devouring it. The animal kicks weakly in her grasp but there is little it can do between the threads and her natural strength.

    She hums happily as she works, "Well, most of this is just rumour you understand since I was not alive to see it and only maybe five or six of my elder siblings can even claim to know the 'whole truth'. There are just so many stories in the shadows and webs of my homeland, so many lies as well and I do not doubt for a moment that my mother is behind most of them," she grabs the animal by the neck and wretches its head around, ending its misery, "The one thing I can say for certain is that mother was not always a goddess, she is not one of the original Dark Gods and she did not win her post peacefully."

    "Then how did she do it?" Lyssa enquires as she flips a page.

    Without waiting a moment more she begins her meals, digging her hands into he flank of the horse she begins to pull until a melon sized chuck comes loose, she devours it with relish before continuing, "She enlisted the aid of other beings though no one can agree on who exactly she turned to. Together they lured her predecessor, some sort of silver serpent with the head of a fish and the tail of a scorpion, from its realm and dispatched it."

    "Sounds easy," the witch replies casually.

    Nephila lets out a girlish laugh and wipes the blood from her face with the back of one hand, "It was anything but easy, as far as I can tell. Still away from the heart of its power it was beatable. In the popular version of the legend she traps the beast in a great web of her own construction and devours it stealing its power and place but I don't think that is how it happened."

    "Oh really?" you look up from your notes, "Why is that?"

    She closes her eyes, all of them, and smiles delicately, "I met someone that was there when it happened."

    "Who?" you friend asks as the three of you edge closer to the bars.

    She leaves off her meal and comes to sit with you, less than a foot now from the three of you with only the bars between you faces and hers, her answer is quiet and peaceful, "My father. The Prince of the Dreaming, Morpheus."

    She had mentioned in passing during your earlier conversations and it is unlikely that she is aware of your personal dealings with Morpheus so you do your best to act suitably impressed. In truth you are a little, Morpheus is powerful and certainly more powerful than you but you are certain that he is not that powerful. Certainly not powerful enough to fight an original Dark God.

    You tell Nephila about your doubts and she nods slowly, "Well it was more than just the two of them. Morpheus brought his two brothers. My mother brought her seven sisters and then there were two more, two other demons that aided them but I have not been able to piece together anything about them."

    Fair enough, you do not believe she is lying to you about that and you are already aware of Morpheus' brothers. Phobetor, called Icelos among his own, the great beast of the Dreaming, a hunter, a stalker, the Lord of Nightmares, and Phantasos, part of the living plane itself, the mad observer of the most surreal dreams created by mortals through the ages. You know all this already but what interests you are these seven sisters of the Spider Goddess.

    Nephila elaborates, "The sisters were much like mother from what I can tell and most of them met the usual fate of weaker siblings."

    "Which is?" Lyssa hesitantly asks.

    "Devoured," Nephila drops her gaze to her feet and scurries back to her meal, "As far as I can tell five of them were eaten by their siblings and father could confirm that three were directly eaten by mother. She took their lives and their power though from what he told me this was after their victory over the old master of mother's plane. He said that each of the sisters ate a portion of the dead god and swore to rule that realm in peace but that was not to be, they began to turn on one another in the dark tunnels and silver webs of that twilight realm. Of the two survivors, one fled into the void and was devoured by something ancient and massive. No one risked getting close enough to see what had killed her for fear of suffering a similar fate. The last sister fled to father and mother pursued my aunt right to father's gates."

    She smiles warmly at the thought of the demon lord, and practically beams when she meets your gaze again, "Father told mother to fuck off. That my aunt had come to him for protection, that she had sworn never to leave him and that she was bowing out of the intrigues of my people. Mother would have none of that though and the two fought. Mother was much more powerful than father, she had all the strength of her devoured siblings and most of the strength of that creature but father had been prince for far longer than she had been a goddess and it was his plane they were fighting in which makes quite a difference all things considered," she grins from ear to ear, "Father won and let her go, not out of mercy but because my aunt asked him to. Naturally mother tried again and again after that for some time."

    "Well they must have resolved the issue somehow," your friend insists, "If they had not you would not be here correct?"

    Nephila nods slowly, "Yes, mother has quite a temper but even she had to relent after a point. My aunt still dwells in father's palace, spinning silver dreams, and mother eventually reconciled with father though I am not sure how exactly," she pauses and frowns, "He won't tell me. He says it is none of my business," she shrugs, "Maybe it isn't."

    You are not sure how useful any of this information will be, as fascinating as it is, so you attempt to redirect the conversation to more immediately practical matters.

    "Nephila?" you call to her, she has already settled back into he meal and in the time it has taken you to record her tale she has striped a third of the horse down to its bones.

    Glances up to you from her meal a bit of muscle wrapped around her right fang, "Yes?"

    "Are there any cults, temples or artefacts associated with your mother in the area?" hopefully your question will yield useful results.

    She ponders the question for a moment, "There were but that would have been centuries ago. There used to be a large underground temple compound to the northeast of here where her high priests would gather to worship her. I don't know if it is still functional though, or even standing," she picks a bit of gristle out of her hair with a little embarrassment, "There is also likely to be at least one temple in or under Myrgard, the old temple in Myrgard was located in the merchant distract, I can give you instructions if you would like?"

    You nod and your friend makes notes as Nephila lists off the directions to the underground complex in the mountains and the old temple under Myrgard. The demon cautions you that there might be traps and guardians at both sites even if they are not being actively used anymore.

    "Anything else you can think of?" Lyssa presses her.

    She scans the three of you with a sympathetic glance, "Afraid not. There is a temple somewhere in the old levels of Stoneheim but I do not know where. There were also a number of artefacts at each site. Black stones that mother used to communicate with her followers directly but I do not know where they are now and some of them had gone missing even before I became trapped down here."

    "Speaking of artefacts," you begin.

    She laughs, "Of course, mages and demons are of one mind on this issue, we all want more power," she taps a 'foot' absentmindedly as she tries to remember anything that would be of use, "Well, back before I was caged there was a weapon store in the southeast of the kingdom. A vault sealed, guarded and trapped but filled with weapons of the goddess in case the faithful ever required them. Blades that could cut through stone, whips that could entangle on command, wands, orbs, all sorts of things really. Most of them are bound to my mother though and that might be a problem for people such as yourselves which seek to oppose her. Though they are not designed to allow mother to contact the user they are still derived from her and she may well have built contingencies into their designs to prevent them from being used against her agents," she falls into deep thought, rocking back and forth subtly on the palms of her lower limbs, quietly she begins to speak, "There were rumours though of a rival cult somewhere in Stoneheim, they might have artefacts that you could use though again you would have to deal with a dark power of some sort or the other," she spins gracefully and laughs melodically, a light rolling thing that caresses the ear. She tears an entire leg off the carcase and between bites continues, "I am afraid that is simply the cost associated with using premade artefacts, they all have an original purpose and they were not built for you or for me."

    So much for artefacts then. Built to last but not for you.

    "Is there anything you can tell us about more recent events?" your friend begins while you muse, "Specifically news related to Houses Albrecht or Eberhardt."

    She tilts her first to one side and then to the other, "That is a difficult question to answer as information becomes illusive. I can begin at the beginning though, young Albrecht came to me wanting power and knowledge. He fed me and he clothed me and he kept me company, perhaps he even fell for me in his own way but he was a careful dwarf and a cautious one. He kept me in my cage and though I wanted for nothing materially I would never find freedom under him. Still he was a great man I think, even if never a good one, and I helped him willingly for years. When he stopped visiting it came as something of a surprise to me but he had to have been three hundred years old by that point, perhaps he merely died of old age. He must not have told anyone about me as it was some time before I was visited again," she sighs and tosses the bones from her meal into the corner of the cell, "My next few masters did not invite guests to the fort. Most of them did not do much talking at all really, they were far more interested in experimenting on me so it was some time before I next received information from the outside world. A little over a century ago I began to receive a new and steady flow of information from the kingdom at large. The government of the day decided to garrison this fort to help monitor the ghôlish threat," she begins to laugh, "It came as quite a surprise to me to realize that the odd rumour I had heard here and there were correct. Albrecht's descendents had managed to seize the dwarven throne and had been ruling for some time. I will admit I felt a pang of pride at that. They were the family in the kingdom and at least some of that must have been the result of the help I gave their ancestor. It did not last though, the cultists that tended to me in those years were under strict instructions not to free me and when the fort fell to the Dark I was once more left alone with necromancers and ghôls. From them I learnt of the war and of the human mage Alric. I learnt of his victories against vastly superior foes and I practically cheered his efforts," she shrugs at you curious glances, "What? I can respect the intelligence and courage it would take to fight someone like Balor, I met the... man, once and he was certainly intimidating. Until I heard of Alric I did not believe anyone would beat that warlord. When the Dark lost the war and the dwarves swept eastward again the fort was retaken by dwarven soldiers and for years it was a military outpost from what I could tell. As the years wore on, and I went through a series of cultist and cutthroat masters, the soldiers very gradually gave way to mercenaries who in turn fell under the control of the Eberhardts."

    Good, now she is moving to events that might directly impact your efforts.

    "The Eberhardts were convinced that the royal family had been compromised by agents of the Dark," she laughs, "They were not entirely wrong either from what I could tell. Every now and then high ranking members of House Eberhardt would meet at the fort where they could talk strategy away from the spies of Myrgard. Of course that allowed me to listen in on their most secret conversations. Something had spooked them, they seemed convinced that the Royal House or perhaps just allied houses had been infiltrated by cultists serving something, unnatural. I do not know what sort of proof they had but they believed, I could hear it in their voices."

    "Was there anyone in particular that they suspected?" you have stopped taking notes, this is not the sort of thing you want committed to paper should anyone ever search your possessions.

    "House Hesse, House Reginar, House Berg," she replies quickly, "And they seemed to have good reason to believe that at least one member of the royal family was a cultist though they could not tell which one."

    You frown and rest you head on one hand, "So... they were building an alliance to overthrow the state and purge the cultists?"

    She nods, "That is what I could gather yes. Then several weeks ago something happened and it all came crashing down," she winks at you and the three of you wince slightly before she continues, "Rand, as usual, would tell me only a little and I found even less of it easy to remember," she shifts uncomfortably, "Something big is happening, I am certain of that but I just do not have enough information."

    House Hesse.

    House Reginar.

    House Berg.

    Half of the remaining Great Houses controlled or infiltrated by cultists?

    That would be bad, and even worse at least one royal, a traitor. You desperately hope that, that is not the case. Just how rotten is the kingdom anyway?

    "Anything else?" Thaïs asks brow furrowed and frowning.

    The demon shrugs, "Rand dealt with most of the more delicate work that the Eberhardts needed done, he would know more but I am afraid I just can not remember much else."

    "Is Rand a follower of your mother's?" you feel compelled to ask.

    "I- I don't know," she stares at you as pain and confusion cut across her face, "I just don't know."

    Well this has been an illuminating and unsettling conversation but Albrecht's dwarves will be here soon and you really must take care of the rest of your agreement before they arrive and demand to see you.

    You stand up and your friends follow, Thaïs speaks, "Well, I think that is everything we had to ask-"

    "- but if we think of something else we will let you know," you add with a wink.

    Nephila gives you a confused glance at those words but you decide not to enlighten her for the moment.

    "So how are we going to do this whole oath thing?" Lyssa asks as she and Thaïs strain to lift the vessel Ceannard and his men brought you.

    He insists that it was a great serving vessel and it is quite ornate with the faces of gremlins and elves etched along its stone surface but you are fairly certain that this has never been used for dining before.

    In fact, you are fairly certain that this is the pot from Berty's fern but if it makes your new demon friend happy then who are you to object.

    Nephila paces on her side of the bars excitedly, "I, ah, well this is my first time but it is fairly easy from what I understand. We cut ourselves and bleed into the chalice-"

    "The planter?" you ask with a smirk. Okay, maybe you could not entirely resist.

    She grins her needle sharp teeth sliding out between her large fangs. She titters, "The chalice," she insists.

    "The chalice," the three of you confirm with a laugh.

    Well, you are in charge here so you might as well go first. You draw your knife across your palm and let the blood run down your hand and into the vessel.

    Originally you had intended to be the only one to do this but your friends seem willing to participate in a show of solidarity. Misery loves company so you oblige them. At least this way the oath will hold even if you die.

    Thaïs is next, she takes your blade from you and without a moment's hesitation draws the blade across her own hand, letting her blood join yours in the vessel at your feet.

    Lyssa takes the blade next. She places it against her hand and takes a deep breath.

    "You know you do not have to do this," the two of you remind her.

    She shakes her head, "I am part of this Circle, I have to do this."

    The blade cuts quickly and she winces slightly as she squeezes her hand, he blood running down her closed fist and pooling in the vessel.

    It takes a few minutes for you to bandage yourselves and move the vessel over to the bars. You hand Nephila the blade and she thanks you with a quite word and a quick dip of her head.

    She extends one hand and gently pulls back the plates of her palm with two others. Now with a clear opening she presses the blade into the gap until her thick black blood begins to ooze forth. It drips slowly into the pot at your feet bubbling when it makes contact with your combined blood.

    The reaction raises a doubt in your mind, "Is that safe to drink?"

    She laughs, "Safe enough. Why do you want to back out now?"

    "No, no," you reassure her, "It is just... different."

    The demon shrugs, "If this were fatal to any of us than how have mages and demons made pacts through the centuries?"

    Well she does have a point, unless she was lying about the ritual to begin with of course, but if she does poison you then Ceannard has orders to kill her so at least you will all die together... not a very comforting thought though.

    "Well, here goes nothing," Lyssa reaches for the bubbling concoction as Nephila binds her hand in a similar manner to your own.

    "Wait!" the demon warns her, "We need to officially agree to the terms first for it to be binding, I mean unless you want to drink that twice," she beams at the witch as she points to the pot with her, now bandaged, hand.

    'Well our terms are clear," Thaïs begins, "You will swear to never speak of how you were freed, you will swear to never speak of our secrets, you will swear to always tell the truth to the three of us or to any person we designate, you will swear to a non-aggression pact with our organization, you will not knowingly undertake any cause or action that will harm us or our people and most importantly you will swear not to kill, maim or consume sentient beings."

    "Unless they attack me or those under my care correct?" the demon asks.

    "Naturally," you reply, "You should be allowed to defend yourself from aggressors. Are those terms acceptable?"

    "Yes," she replies with all the professionalism of a seasoned negotiator, "Those terms are acceptable. Now for my terms. You will swear not to reveal to anyone the origins of any of the information I give you now or in the future. I have no issue with sharing with the three of you and I have no issue with you spreading the information I give you as you see fit but I do not want some angry demon lord to descend on me is a few months, or years, time and demand to know why I told you something you should not know. You will swear to be truthful with me if I ask you a direct question now or in the future, finally you will swear to your half of the non-aggression pact. You will swear to undertake no action against me or those under my care knowingly."

    "Unless we are attacked or those under our care are attacked correct?" the witch is quick to ask.

    The demon dips politely, "Of course, you must protect you and yours just as I must protect myself and those I may come to hold dear."

    "That does raise a question though," your friend is quick to realize, "If our pact includes other individuals outside of the four of us how will that work if they come to blows."

    Nephila thinks for a moment, "Traditionally one or both parties involved are meant to withdraw their support for the conflict in question. I would say that upon realizing the conflict of interests we would be required to extricate ourselves from any such business. Ideally we would take our dependents and personnel with us. However, if the source of the conflict is our dependents and, or, our personnel then we would be required to cut ties with them if we can not convince them to change course."

    That seems reasonable all things considered, "Alright, I agree."

    Lyssa and Thaïs incline their heads as well, "Those terms are acceptable," your friend answers for them both.

    Nephila eyes the pot, "All that is left then is to drink that," she gestures to the thick, bubbling fluid, "You did not happen to bring anything to mix with it did you?"

    You roll over a casket of the vile ale you have been consuming throughout the siege and crack it open pouring it out over the bloody mess. It is thin, it tastes horrible but hopefully it will kill some of the taste of what is likely to be a truly horrific beverage.

    You give the mix a stir, yeah this is going to be fun.

    With the help of Lyssa and Thaïs you raise it to your lips and.. it is delicious. Well that is a pleasant surprise you think as you drain a fourth of the vessel and help steady it for Thaïs. Hesitantly she takes a gulp and blinks in disbelief at how good it tastes, her portion is put away even faster than your own while she mutters in astonishment you help Lyssa drink her portion before passing it off to Nephila. She struggles to empty the remains of the tub into her mouth between the bars and mutters happily, "Good contrast, quite chewy, exuberant bouquet, this... this I would drink again in a heartbeat"

    You are not sure whether you should be proud or nervous at the demon's comments and you have little time to even decide on a position before it hits you.

    A driving, pounding, excruciating pain that begins in your stomach and bubbles up into your throat and head. You scream and fall toward the bars gripping them for dear life.

    Did she poison you? Surely that would mean her own death as well?

    Your head swims and you begin to cough uncontrollably while Lyssa and Thaïs stagger forward as well gripping the bars to either side of you.

    You take in a deep breath in an attempt to hurl insults at your murderer but that merely triggers another coughing fit.

    It is then that Nephila lunges toward you. For a moment you think it is an attack, that she does not intend to wait for her poison to finish you off but she does not grab you.

    She grabs the bars, leaning into you, resting her head against yours and she wheezes, "It will... it will pass," she whispers to the three of you, "Just... just give it a moment."

    You close your eyes, steady your breathing and she is right. It does.

    Though you feel a little changed, a little less free than before.

    "That," she gasps, breathless in your ear, "That was interesting."

    You whisper back, "Did you know that would happen?"

    "My sister said I might feel a little discomfort," she scoff, "I am going to have to show that bitch a little discomfort when I see her next..."

    You open your eyes and instinctively pull back at the six eyes focused right on you, you fight your instincts and you lean back in, "So we are bound now?"

    "Well," she answers as she pushes off from the bars and composes herself, "I am bound. You are merely, restrained, a little."

    "And what does that mean?" the witch asks from your left as she paces the room attempting to clear her head.

    The demon begins to stretch, "All it means is that the penalties are much higher if I break our contract and that it is so much easier for you to break the oath. As a demon I can not knowingly act against the spirit or letter of our agreement and if I do by some gross cosmic joke then the punishments will be quite severe for me though to be honest I am not sure what those additional punishments are. As mortals though you can not actually be bound against your will in this way, if you wanted to break our oath and attack me right now you could for example though you would immediately free me as well."

    "So then how are we restrained?" your friends quickly enquires.

    "Well, if you do break the oath then all the magic in that blood you just consumed will vacate your body at once," she tilts her head to get a better view of your friend, "It will hurt all of us, a lot more than it did just then."

    The three of your frown, you speak, "You could have told us that before."

    "It does not really matter," she plays down your concerns, "It merely means pain, for all four of us, but no actual damage beyond that as far as I know."

    Well, that will have to do. It is not like she can lie to you anymore anyway. If she says you will suffer no permanent harm from breaking the oath then it must be what she really believes.

    There are a few more things you need to do yet.

    "Think you can climb up that chute Nephila?" you ask and the demon shakes her head.

    "No the chute is designed to prevent me from scaling it," she answers wearily.

    "Well then we will lower a rope to you," and that is what you do. With one end tied around her the three of you pull and she does her best to grip the sides of the chute. You can see why she has not slipped out on her own over the centuries. It is difficult work at first but it is made easier when you call Ceannard to help you and when you finally decide to employ the Warrior's Mask to boost your strength. After far too much struggling by the four of you and not a little effort expended by Nephila you finally manage to extricate her from the cage.

    You pass her, her new clothes, modified armour and weapons which she accepts with many grateful grins and awkward curtseys. While she dresses you set to work on a letter of introduction. Without looking up you call to the demon to get her attention, "What do you intend to do with your freedom Nephila?"

    "Well," she pulls her blouse on, "I am not sure really, this is all rather sudden," she buckle up her trousers over her lowest pair of arms, "I suppose I will look for employment somewhere with a sufficiently large mage population that I will not be attacked on sight."

    You sign your letter and begin on a second document, a list of instructions, "What if I could introduce you to someone that could help?"

    "I-" she stops half way through buckling on her armour, she is clearly a little shocked, "You would do that?"

    You stand and cross the room to her, you hand her a pair of letters, one sealed and the other not, "These are a letter of introduction to Madb of Muirthemne, you can find her at the Wizen One's Magical Bazaar in the great market, the second letter is a list of directions to help you find your way. She is a dear friend of mine and if you treat her kindly she will help you I am certain."

    The demon embraces you, the unfastened straps of her armour dig into your own and she does her best to squeeze you to death. When she does release you she beams, "Thank you."

    Lyssa chuckles behind you, "No need, it is just what we do, it seems."

    You and your friend shoot her a pair of sly glances as Nephila moves to each of your allies and embraces them in turn. When she gets to Ceannard he extends his hand, she takes it, drags him into her arms and savages his mouth. She releases him, leaving him gasping, "Sorry handsome, looks like it was just never meant to be."

    "I- ah, well," he glances to the three of you and you snicker.

    Something in him changes then, perhaps he is simply sick of being the constant butt of your jokes. He coughs, calms himself, straightens out his armour and smoothes back his hair. Taking his time he gently takes her by the closest hand as he holds her curious gaze and leans in closely, brushing a lock of hair from her face as he replies, "Truly a tragic twist of fate. Should you find yourself once more in Myrgard my lady do not hesitate to call upon my hospitality. I assure you, you will not find me wanting," he plants a single kiss upon her hand and she blushes slightly in spite of herself.

    He bows to her and then to each of you, as if to extend the offer to your entire group, and turns on his heel before calmly walking to the door and exiting the room.

    "Huh, did not think he had that in him," Lyssa comments with a whistle.

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

    Lords Welf and Hesse have been waiting for twenty minutes but you had to ensure that Nephila was safely off. She has been given a horse, enough gold to see her safely to Muirthemne, even with her appetite, and some research material as well. You have given her the documents you recovered from Gullveig's camp, with the exception of the Shade's spellbook, along with the Thin White Mage's journal.

    In exchange for your aid she has agreed to survey the tunnels under the fort and do her best to seal up any passages that might still lead down to the beasts' hive. You hope all those creatures are dead but you do not want to take any chances.

    She will remain in the tunnel along with Ceannard, Otto and their men until they are confident that your fort will be safe, at least in the short term.

    "Anything we need to know about Lords Welf and Hesse," you ask your maul officer as you round the final corner headed for the main conference room.

    "Only that they are lords and dwarves which together makes them quite insufferable," her tone is flat and cool as always, "They are also quite annoyed at the delay."

    This is going to be just magical.

    When you enter Argus is already talking strategy with the two lords. When they spot you entering he rises to greet you, they do not.

    "Ah, Lady Derryth, Lady Thaïs, wonderful timing!" the king's champion is trying, bless him, he is trying but the lords simply have no intention of being sociable, "Let me introduce you to Lords Hesse and Welf, loyal and just servants of the crowns."

    Lord Hesse is a bull of man with a large, broad head resting on a thick, short neck. At his foot lies a large mastiff curled into a tight ball, it lazily lifts its head and considers you with a single impassive eye before dismissing your presence and once more settling into slumber. When you glance from dog to master you can not help but notice their similarities. He sits hunched forward with his shoulders driven into the base of his ears and looks the perfect double of his animal so it is not terribly surprising to you when he barks a terse greeting, "Ladies. Good to meet you."

    You really doubt he means that.

    Lord Welf is the complete opposite of his colleague. He lounges in his chair, a glass of something imported in his hand. His every movement conveys a certain sense of superiority.

    He manages only the most disinterested of greetings, "A pleasure to be sure."

    "Yes, well," the champion motions to a pair of chairs, "Please be seated ladies, I was just discussing our victory with the lords."

    Welf takes a sip from his drink, and begins to speak with a wide smile and cold eyes, "Yes, once more I would like to express my congratulations on your victory against the enemy force. The King's Champion has made it clear to me that the force you faced must have been quite unnerving, for you, given that your garrison is comprised of irregulars and mercenaries such as yourselves. You have done all of your ilk proud by mustering such a unprecedented effort over the last few weeks. You should be quite proud of yourselves I should think and you have nothing more to fear now, our forces will be more than sufficient to handle any difficulties that might now arise."

    "Too true!" Hesse nods along, "Too true my friend. I should say ladies that there is nothing more for you to fear now."

    Oh you want to lay these two out. Just a few well placed assault spells, or perhaps a few dozen, but the two of you have a plan. From what your allies tell you neither dwarf is a known mage so this might grant you an interesting opportunity. If Hesse's House is compromised then what better way to check that theory than to take a little poke around inside of the head of Hesse himself.

    Thaïs will run interference and give you the opportunity you need, hopefully she will be able to draw all the attention in the room to herself and leave you with plenty of room to manoeuvre.

    It begins well enough. She compliments them both and thanks them for their aid while you add the odd word of agreement or reassurance here or there.

    Your focus though is on Hesse's mind and the first thing you notice is that there is no easy way into it. If he were a mage this would be easy to explain, of course if he were a mage then he would also be looking for his attacker right now and you would likely have a fight on your hands. Instead Hesse pays you no real attention as your friend and Argus run over the trials you have faced in the last few days.

    It seems likely that he is not a mage then so someone or something else must be shielding his mind. Welf perhaps? It is certainly a possibility but if he is involved then he is playing it awfully cool at the moment. The other possibility is that Hesse has something on his person capable of protecting his mind, or perhaps some sort of artefact that provides him a connection to a power capable of shielding him.

    Either way you hope to at least get a glimpse of what is going on within his mental landscape so you press on.

    His defences take the form of a single massive black sheet draped over the world that is his mind. Not terribly original but sufficient to prevent casual attempts to come to grips with his mind. You spend a few moments scanning for a weakness, a seam you can fray, an edge you can peel back, some imperfection you can take advantage of but you find nothing.

    Welf coughs.

    Hesse rubs his temples, your presence has been light so far, at most all he should think is that he has a mild headache.

    The dog shifts in its sleep as everyone turns to you.

    "Derryth?" Argus is asking you something.

    "Yes," you answer without breaking off your attempt, it is not the easiest thing in the world to hold a conversation while working in a mind but you are quite familiar with these spells and so far you are managing.

    "Well young lady what do you think?" Hesse grunts.

    They are waiting on you for some sort of decision though you have not the slightest clue what.

    You feel the caress of a soft suggestion enter your mind and you instantly recognize the mind behind it, Thaïs, she tells you to say yes and so you do.

    The dwarves all nod, "Wise decision young lady!" Hesse barks, grinning.

    That woman really is a lifesaver.

    You redouble your efforts now, and you think you see the slightest hint of a crack in his defences. If you had to attack now you think you could but for the time being you just want to take the slightest peak.

    You drift in slowly, carefully to the peephole and press your face against it.

    His mind is a single great and untamed forest. Beasts and hunters in every shape and size imaginable stalk the shadows of this twilight realm.

    There is but a single structure.

    A temple.

    Black stone and-

    Welf sneezes and drops his drink on the dog next to Hesse.

    It growls and yips as it startles awake and runs into the corner. Hesse guffaws and beckons the dog to return to his side.

    It barks at him with its back firmly pressed against the wall behind it as it edges toward the door. The broad dwarf sighs, "He will be like that for hours now, I am sorry ladies but I must tend to him."

    Without a word more he stands and marches from the room, as soon as the door opens the dog is gone at full tilt and he takes off after it with a sharp laugh.

    With him goes your chance to learn more, the rest of the meeting goes quietly enough. You make a few quick passes over Welf's mind and he does not appear to notice. You do not detect anything out of the ordinary, his mind is a hill top villa, guards, hounds, the usual defences for a person that schemes for a living but no hints of occult activity or traces of the Dark. If he is a cultist he is hiding very well and it would take an actual attack to uncover more.

    You sit through the rest of the meeting but leave the details to Argus and your friend as you attempt to puzzle out exactly what you saw in Hesse's mind. That black stone temple, it definitely did not feel like a natural part of his mind and you begin to believe that perhaps it was planted there by another and as soon as you are alone with Argus and Thaïs you voice that concern, "There is something wrong with Hesse."

    "Wrong?" the champion enquires.

    "His mind," you tap your head, "It is not all his own."

    "Wait, you were poking around in the head of a lord?" Argus grumbles his objection.

    Your friend is quick to come to your aid, "We have good reason to believe that House Hesse might be compromised somehow."

    "It was worth a tiny peak," you add, then you reassure him, "Unless he is a secret mentalist there is no way he would have figured out what I was doing."

    "How did you come to suspect him?" the dwarf naturally asks, "I mean this is the first time you have even spoken to him."

    "Ah..." you drop your gaze.

    "Well..." your friend can provide no answer either.

    The champion grunts, he is clearly not happy that you will not reveal your source or about your probing the minds of loyal lords but too bad. You are serving the crown and defending Albrecht's interests and you tell him as much, "Argus, we needed to know and now we do. Hesse is being influenced by someone or something. His mind was cloaked by something-"

    The dwarf is quick to object, "He is a lord Derryth, they need ways to protect themselves from their peers and enemies it is not that surprising that he would have defences."

    You nod but press your point all the same, "Not defences that felt like this Argus. This... barrier, he has over his mind does not feel like any mentalist spell I have come across but more importantly was what was behind the barrier. There was some sort of temple or compound and it was made of black stone that felt alien to his mind."

    "Felt?" the champions scepticism is palatable.

    Thaïs nods, "Yes, every mind feels different and looks different. Everything from deserts to forests to villages and cities, some are even more bizarre than that. If Derryth says this black structure felt different than it likely is not native to Hesse's mind."

    "Which means," Argus leans in resting his head in one strong hand.

    "Ah," you honestly are not sure, "Well, it means he has something or someone else in his mind or he has a link to something or someone else in his mind."

    "Do we know who or what?" the dwarf continues to interrogate you.

    "Not really," you are forced to admit, "Just that it is something alien and dark. It might be the Watcher."

    "Ok, but it might not be right?" he quickly asks.

    "Yes," you reluctantly agree, "It might not be the Watcher."

    "Well," the champion leans back in his chair, "I will keep an eye on him then."

    "You should throw him in a cell!" your friend insists and you nod along.

    You lend your voice to hers, "He could be dangerous!"

    "Aye he could be, but he is also the head of a very prominent House in possession of an impressive private army," Argus reminds you, "A House that may be pivotal to the defence of the Kingdom, I can not simply imprison him on your word, the lords would never stand for it."

    "But-" you start together.

    He raises his hand, "And to top it off you want me to imprison him without telling me how you came to suspect him or even who might be controlling him. We do not know if this dark presence is even a direct threat to the kingdom. Until I have more proof, until I have something I can bring to the lords there is nothing to be done. We will just have to be careful, when you see the King inform him of this and perhaps he can think of a way to solve this possible problem."

    You both sigh wearily.

    Argus is right, when next you see the king you will just have to raise the issue with him. One of many issues you plan to discuss...

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

    High in your tower, overlooking the hills surrounding Fort Blackrock, the two of you sit reminiscing, laughing, and she broaches that delicate subject.

    Your response has all the subtlety and grace of a mace to the head.

    Not really your finest moment all thing considered.

    This is not real though.

    It is simply a memory.

    One of many you plan to pour over tonight.

    Your body is in a balloon somewhere between Blackrock and Myrgard.

    With nothing much to do, so you thought it might be wise to get your own 'house' in order. Clean up your mind, make a few important decisions in peace and quiet, alone-

    "Are you two always that bad together?" a mocking, masculine voice comes from behind you, you spin on your heels.

    "Or was this just a special occasion?" it is above you now, you crane your neck but still you see nothing.

    You are fairly certain you know who this is though, so much for peace, quiet and a little time alone. You answer with a shrug, you don't intend to let him get under your skin, "We normally do better."

    "Liar," he laughs, "Normally you blow up furniture."

    Ouch, that hit.

    "Morpheus!" you put your hands on your hips, "Show yourself so we can talk like adults."

    "Adults?" the demon cackles, "I thought you were a twelve year old novice, blushing and stammering like you do."

    "Go to hell," you spit.

    He ignore you, "It is not like it is your first time right?"

    With a snap your memory has changed, you are in a dimly lit barn somewhere in the province. A golden haired young man has his arm around your waist, he leads you toward the ladder and up to the loft.

    The young man laughs, and speaks "Or even your first time with a woman."

    Another snap, another memory. A dreary little archive, twenty log books, four rooms, a pair of lamps and one delightful little blonde... so very many blondes... you wonder why that is.

    She smirks at you, and even though you know it is Morpheus you are still a bit taken aback when she speaks, "So why don't you just tell her you love her and get to the fucking?"

    She snaps her fingers and becomes Thaïs.

    "Stop playing games!" you demand.

    "I like games," the demon replies with a grin, "But fine if you don't like this game then let's play another. You can be the beautiful damsel," she snaps her fingers and your clothes are replaced by a beautifully traditional gown, "And I will be the dashing young knight that saves you from a terrible beast!"

    As she grins, the illusionary Thaïs dissolves into champion with blade, shield and a little package wrapped in furs, he extends it to you, "Come on Derryth! Ride the tiger!"

    "No," you mutter and shove the package back.

    He grunts then grins, "How about this then, you can be the dashing young knight and I will be the beautiful damsel," with a blink and a nod you have switched clothing, the demon gives you a deep curtsey and splits the dress damn near in two.

    He gazes up at you and pulls a face, you laugh once in spite of yourself, "Fool."

    "Whatever it takes to loosen you up a bit," the demon answers laughing, "Seriously though, this is not difficult, I deal with these sorts of things hundreds of times a week. Just be honest with her."

    "Well that is the problem," you calmly reply, "I am not quite sure how I feel about her."

    "Bullshit," the demon laughs.

    You laugh as well, there is something strangely amusing about how relaxed and even, vulgar, the prince is being.

    He waves an arm dramatically and blinks back into his true, or at least standard, form. A second wave and your clothes are returned. A third and you are back in the meadow. He snaps his fingers three times and three Thaïs appear before you.

    "Now," he begins, "Here we have the lover," he wraps an arm around the first Thaïs, she purrs slightly and gives you a wink.

    Gently and seamlessly he slips free of her, "Then we have the friend," he slaps the second Thaïs on the back and she grins at you and waves.

    "Finally," he stops next to the last Thaïs, "We have the sister," she bows to you and smiles innocently.

    "So, which one is she?" the demon prince asks casually though he is quick to add, "You already know the answer, just go with what feels natural."

    You consider each and shake your head, "No good, Morpheus."

    The demon frowns, but is not easily deterred, "Care to elaborate. I am still certain we can figure this out."

    "Oh," you shoot him a sly glance, "It is 'we' now."

    "Hell," the demon scratches his neck, then adds with a good natured jab, "I am invested now. You are stuck with me until the end and I really don't want to have to watch more memories like that one at the tower. So speak up."

    "I-" you attempt to put it in words, "All of these phantoms, they are different people, the real Thaïs, she is-"

    He leans in, "She is what?"

    You focus, no more running from it, you think about that day you met her at her tent when you realized she could be an asset. You think about that night at her house where she tried to be a lover. Your time together under Muirthemne where she was a friend. That day shopping in Myrgard, and every day since, when she was family.

    All of it is dwarfed though by the untold eons you spent with her in Nine's mind, defying the murderous intentions of that place. That endless dance of memories in that dark, dank, horrible place.

    That dance and the visions that followed.

    Her father, your father, her mother, your mother, her life, your life.

    There is only one answer, and it comes to you without any further effort on your part, "She is me."

    There is no sound in the meadow, not the slightest whisper of a breeze, not the tiniest chirp of an insect, it is all so still, so calm, so clear.

    Then it ends.

    "Deep," the demon speaks with a smirk and a sage nod.

    "Ass," you hit him, laughing, it is a weight off you now. Now you know and now you can act.

    "Well, now you have your answer," the demon plants a single large clawed hand on your shoulder, "So what are you going to do with it?"

    A devious little idea bubbles up into your mind, a way to show Thaïs not just how much you care but exactly how you care, "Actually, maybe you could help me with this. That is if you are up for arranging a very special dream."

    "Special," he grins, "This sounds fascinating. I'm in."

    Good, this, this will work. You are sure of it, but you have a lot to discuss before you wake.

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

    Albrecht can wait.

    You have a lot to discuss with the dwarf but you want to see to your own business first and so you are here at the Brothers Dietfried.

    "Can you do it?" you and Thaïs ask as one.

    "Certainly," the brothers reply in unison.

    The two brothers fall to discussion in a language you do not recognize while the pair of you watch on.

    It was not that difficult to convince them to send supplies and your enchanted items to Nanshe. They did not ask how you knew the ghôl leader or why you wanted her to receive the items, they merely nodded quietly at your requests and gave you a price. Thankfully it was a price that was easy to cover with your scavenged bag of ghôlish currency, without any other use for the shells you gladly traded them away for the artefacts and services you needed.

    "We must warn you though, the older brother speaks with a sullen solemnity, "Should this be a trap, for our client or for ourselves then-"

    "Oh brother," the smaller Dietfried laughs, "They would not do something so, so, foolish!" his cheer never fades but the threat implied behind the word foolish is clear to you both. Thankfully you have no intention to betray them.

    "Naturally, we do not betray our partners," Thaïs assures them.

    "One additional matter though," you quickly add, "Do you still happen to have that urn we saw when we were last in, the random one. We would like to buy it."

    The cheerful brother nods, "Oh yes, of course! We actually had someone enquire about it this very morning for use as a practical joke of all things. What did you want to use it for?"

    "A different sort of joke," you reply with a slight smile, "Add it to our shipment to be sent to our mutual friend. We will just need a few moments to load it with enchantments."

    "Not a harmful one I hope," the taller brother cautions you.

    "Not harmful to yourselves or our friend," Thaïs clarifies.

    "Very well," the shorter Dietfried responds with a bubbly laugh, "That will be, oh, two hundred-"

    "No," Thaïs is quick to cut him off, "That vase is far too specialized a piece of equipment to command such a price, I suggest you cut it, substantially."

    "My dear young lady," Dietfried replies with a chuckle, "You mean to rob us! We must be allowed to make some profit of that valuable piece of-"

    As the two of them continue to negotiate you wave the sombre brother off to one side, "I am just going to negotiate for more energon cubes and roots," you explain and Thaïs nods without taking her eyes off her opponent. The two of them are quickly warming to their competition.

    You lead the other Dietfried to the far side of the shop, he explains as you walk, "Roots are quite rare these days I am afraid," he sighs deeply, "Even energon cubes are in short supply lately, every mage customer in the region has been by recently it seems. I truly hope that no harm will come to anyone soon," his voice is filled with sorrow but it is slightly rote and you do not believe he really cares all that much.

    "I actually wanted to talk to you about another matter away from my partner," you are quick to inform him, "I was wondering if you could build me something using a few parts I have acquired and a few spells that would be useful."

    "If it is what I think it is," he begins coolly, "Then we shall do it for you free of charge."

    "Wait, what?" you stop in confusion, "I have not even told you what I want built yet."

    "It is for her, yes?" he discreetly points at your partner.

    "Yes, but-" you begin.

    "Then we have already been informed as to its nature and we have already received payment for its construction," he informs you.

    "How?" though the answer is beginning to dawn on you.

    "A mutual friend," the brother answers with the slightest of smiles, the only smile you have ever seen on his face, the only smile you are ever likely to see on his face, "He said to remind you that 'He is committed now' and that as your 'friend' he offers you this small present to ease your mind and strengthen your resolve."

    Well damn, a nice surprise for once, that is a switch.

    You hand over the necessary ingredients and turn your attention back to the energon cubes and mandrake roots on offer.

    Upon completing your business you go in search of your partner. She is not where you last saw her though there is no reason for concern. She steps out of the back of the shop moments later with a grin on her face and shakes the wide, little Dietfried's hand.

    As she walks up to you she gives you a wink, and speaks with a self-satisfied smile "Everything is ready and I negotiated a rather steep discount for us too."

    A wonderful way to end a day.

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

    Your next stop is Mayer's estate.

    As always the house is dark save for a single lit window. He must be home and working, not a terribly great surprise really.

    The two of you are shown up to Mayer's office and you find everything much as it was last time you visited.

    With one exception, Mayer. He looks different, specifically he looks like shit.

    He has a strap of fabric bound around his left eye and when he rises it is with a noticeable limp now. He rounds his desk and extends his right hand in greeting, you reach for it but stop when you realize he is missing two fingers.

    "Wyrd, Mayer!" you start, "What happened!"

    "Please sit," he gestures to the small table you are used to taking lunch around, "Have you eaten? I have not, I will have something brought up even if it is just cold beef and a little cheese."

    That sounds like heaven after what you have been living off of for the last few weeks and you tell him so but honestly you are not too interested in food at the moment.

    "Mayer, what happened?" Thaïs echoes your question.

    The banker downplays his injuries, "Just a slight disagreement with a few of the minor houses and their bankers... and their bankers' men. They did not want to acknowledge my legal claim to certain properties we needed to repay your debt. They would not budge and I am not the type to take no for an answer," he laughs twice and begins to cough.

    "Details would be nice," you prod him.

    It takes him a moment to master himself but when he doe he shakes his head, "The only way to keep a secret is to ensure that only one person knows it. I will simply say that I lost an eye and two fingers, they lost everything, the trade is more than fair in my opinion. Which brings me to the matter of your financial investments..."

    It turns out that without you to guide him Mayer took your affairs in hand as if they were his own. As your partner he felt justified in doing so and he may not have always acted fully within the letter of the law in executing your will. You might be slightly more angry with him had he not obviously suffered so much for your cause but on reflection this is why you brought the dwarf on board. He knows his business and he knows the kingdom, you have no doubt that you could not have achieved what he has and you have serious doubts that any of the other bankers you talked to could have done even half of what he has. The cost for that skill is an agent that will act on his own initiative and you will just have to deal with the consequences of his nature. Speaking of consequences...

    "Some of the houses were less than pleased with my actions," he admits with a shrug, "I, may have overreached a little."

    "Are there going to be immediate threats to us as a result?" you enquire in unison.

    "Doubtful," the banker shakes his head, "But Houses Seinsheim and Welf are certainly not happy with us and the rest of the houses are hardly amused."

    Great, more enemies to worry about but perhaps it is not as bad as all that. If you put in a concerted effort to demonstrate to the houses that you are not a direct threat to them then perhaps you can still defuse the situation.

    With that in mind you turn to less personal matters, "What have we missed?" you ask as Mayer's man brings in the food and delicious ale.

    "Well," the banker begins, "A government installation was hit as I mention in my letter, I am certain it was a Pathfinder prison and that most of the criminals held there have escaped into the city, things may get a bit volatile for a while."

    And yet more enemies to deal with, lovely.

    But Mayer does not stop there, "The south is a mess, I can not get any reliable information and no one has entered the city from that direction for at least a week. What little information I can piece together does not exactly draw a pretty picture, ghôlish raiders in numbers we have not seen for a century, undead armies bolstered by Shades and other horrors, strange cloaked warriors roaming the roads, red and green monstrosities that seem to blink in and out of existence and Eberhardt rebels once more in open rebellion against the state. I do not know for certain what revived the republicans' cause but whatever it is it has given them new life. There are rumours however, the word around the city is the Eberhardt himself has returned from the dead, not as an undead but as a living dwarf. They are saying that Albrecht is rotten, that Eberhardt will save the kingdom and turn it into a republic. For the time being the loyalist houses are keeping things under control but..."

    You both nod. Things really are a mess and you are not sure you can clean this up by yourselves.

    You will need to see the king and soon, tonight even.

    You thank Mayer for the meal and promise to help him recover from his wounds. He shrugs it off, "Just the price of doing business," he says but you can not agree to that, this dwarf works for you and you have no intention of leaving him like he is if there is anything you can do about it.

    As you leave the room you have time for one final question, "Anything else we should know?"

    "Yeah," he seems reluctant to say anything, "A pair of words have begun to appear around the city, 'Unforgotten, Unforgiven', no one knows what they mean though."

    On that cheery note, you take your leave.

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

    The king is not in a good mood when you arrive at his chambers and it does not help that he seems to have been drinking as well. No sooner do you close the door than he rounds on you and lashes out, "What the hell took you so long!"

    "Dear, please stop!" his wife shouts in vain.

    You are not really in the mood to be yelled at either, "Defending your Wyrd-forsaken country!"

    "There won't be a damn country left to defend soon!" he marches up to you, "Have you heard what is happening to the south!"

    "Yes, sounds like you have a problem," Thaïs answers coolly.

    "A problem! She says an ancestors-be-damned problem!" he shoves her slightly, perhaps too drunk to actually put any force into it.

    She does not retaliate, looking him in the eyes as he stands less than a half a metre from her. That is enough for you however, you don't care if he is king, he is being an ass and you intend to calm him down one way or the other.

    You grab his shoulder and the guards that constantly monitor his person take two steps forward and reach for their blades.

    He shouts at them, "Not a single step more! You hear me! I will fight my own damned battles! I will win on my own!"

    He turns on you and grabs your hand, pulling you in close. You can smell the whiskey on him and with a peculiarly calm fury he speaks, "I am king and I will shove whoever I wish. Understand?"

    You are about to reply with an assault spell when you feel something in his palm, he turns you so that his back is facing the rest of the occupants of the room, he gives you a wink.

    "Understood," you reply calmly as you slip the note he passes you up your sleeve.

    "Good," he releases you, "Now go get some rest, I will see you in the morning."

    He staggers backward and howls at the top of his lungs, "More fucking whiskey! I am the fucking king and I demand more whiskey!"

    The two of you quietly withdraw to your chambers as Queen Eleanor mouths the words, 'I am so sorry.'

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

    "What does the note say?" Lyssa asks as the two of you join her and the girls in your suites. Berty, being Berty, is likely out looking for a replacement fern.

    You smooth out the note, it reads:

    Can't trust anyone. Only you. Go to the place we first met. Tonight after midnight.

    You do not speak the contents of the note, if the king was paranoid enough to stage that whole production then you are going to indulge your paranoia as well. This is a palace and in the halls of power every wall has ears.

    Instead you quietly pass the note around while speaking of less urgent matters.

    Lyssa's final eagle has at last returned home and she brought two letters with her. The first is from Gareth and Brigit, the second from Amena.

    Amena's is short and sweet. She informs you that the children are doing well and that she has begun preparations to help Ithapi learn to read, you and Thaïs smile at that last bit, you both know how much it will mean to the maul. Amena even informs you that some of the children have already learnt their first cantrip.

    You muse, "Sounds like the children are making a good start on things."

    Thaïs beams, and winks at you "They will be conquering nations in no time."

    "You have more kids?" Lyssa asks cautiously.

    You both nod while Biliku and Uttu jump to attention, "They are our friends and subordinates," the younger sister insists.

    Lyssa dips her head slightly in thanks for the information while you remind her, "You will get the full story when we begin our sessions."

    Lyssa winces a little, "Right..."

    Thaïs quickly redirects the conversation, "What about the second letter?"

    The longer letter is penned by a man that calls himself Thayer. He introduces himself as the clerk and paymaster of Brigit and Gareth's company. He gives a brief overview of the personnel and finances of the organization and lists some of the contracts they have taken on. It sounds like boring work to be honest and the amounts they are making from guard duty and merchant escorts do not seem like enough to keep the company running. You hope that you will not return to Muirthemne only to find all your savings squandered.

    However, one quick look at the numbers and accompanying summaries is all that is required for Thaïs to reassure you, "They have taken jobs that are not recorded here."

    "Really?" you and Lyssa ask together.

    "Yes," she nods, "It is clear under even a cursory comparison that the numbers are too low based on his summaries so either this Thayer thinks we are idiots which is doubtful or he is willing to trust us to puzzle out what is really happening over there."

    Well, if they can not put the jobs to writing then you likely do not want to know about them for the moment. You have enough things to focus on here and now without worrying about how Gareth is running things up north. This is merely the price you must pay for empowering your friends to act on your behalf but you trust them to do what they think is best.

    Attached to Thayer's summaries and lists is another document penned by Gareth with notes scribbled in the margins by Brigit. It is a quick summary of events in the Empire since you left. On a personal note, it seems they have had to renegotiate your working relationship with her father, you hope nothing has happened to either of them but they do not elaborate on that point so you must let it rest for now. Of more immediate concern perhaps is that Alric has left Muirthemne for Madrigal. Something, and no one knows what, occurred at the palace sometime within the last month to month and a half. At first no one knew about the change but the absence of the Emperor at public events began to draw attention and eventually the public announcement was made. It is being said that the Emperor plans to alternate between the two capitals to better attend to the needs of his people but some are saying that he was forced out. Gareth puts that down to idle gossip though, after all, who would be powerful enough to scare off the Emperor of the restored Cath Bruig so quickly? As a result, most of the Heron Guard have also relocated to Madrigal with only the usual garrison present to defend the palace and their compound. The Legion continues to be dismantled in favour of the new armed forces of the empire and Gareth has taken pains to snatch up as many 'reliable men' as he can from these veterans. He intends to further expand the company and secure a large compound if everything goes according to plan.

    "More proof that they are making money," you note approvingly, "Though I am not sure if he should be expanding that quickly, it might draw unwanted attention."

    "Like being declared Heroes of the Kingdom and fighting a half dead Fallen Lord," Caoilainn chimes in dryly, seems all she ever does lately is snipe at the two of you.

    "Caoilainn," you mutter together.

    "What?" she musters a half hearted response.

    "Are you having trouble lately?" you enquire with more than a little concern.

    "No I am great!" the sarcasm in her voice now palpable, "Why it is so much fun being a disembodied spectre bound to a pair of thrill seekers, with nothing much to do all day, every day..."

    "Actually," you reply warmly, "We wanted to teach you something that might help with that."

    "Really?" you have her attention now.

    "Yes," Thaïs answers for you both, "In fact we have a few hours right now if you are willing to learn?"

    The disembodied officer responds with noticeable enthusiasm, "Sure."

    It is always so much easier to teach with an enthusiastic student so with the time remaining to you, you set to work teaching Caoilainn how to dream.

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

    The safe house has certainly seen better days.

    The five of you made your way from the palace as quietly as possible, using Lyssa's illusions and your own combined mentalist tricks to ensure you were not followed. You arrived to a dark and seemingly empty building, in fact you did not notice that you were not alone until Ori sprang out at you with his sword drawn.

    Thankfully no one was injured.

    The remaining Pathfinders are on edge, Ori is up front guarding the shop while Astrid is still tending to Bari in one of the side chambers.

    You checked in on them and gave Astrid a shoulder to cry on, it will take a lot to restore your friend but you do not intend to leave him like this, you will help them, you have to help them.

    You were directed by the Pathfinder tinkerer to the rear of the building and the same chamber you first met Albrecht in. Lyssa and the girls elect to remain outside as the two of you enter.

    He sits alone in a large chair with his back to the wall and a heavy crossbow levelled at the door and his finger on the trigger. When he sees you enter he lowers the weapon and gives you each the slightest inclination of his head.

    Without a word he motions for you to sit across from him. On the table rest a single unopened bottle, three glasses and a deck of cards. His mood is quiet, thoughtful, and he begins to deal as you fill up the three glasses.

    "You wanted to talk to us?" you begin quietly.

    He nods, "I should be dead."

    How do you respond to that? Even Thaïs is unsure of what to say so you follow her lead and keep your mouth shut.

    The King takes your silence as an indication that you want him to continue, "So many threats, internal and external. It is all falling apart, the mess to the south, the 'miraculous' resurrection of Eberhardt, I just don't know if I can hold it together or if I even should. If Jori had failed, if you had failed, then I would have been humiliated in front of the entire Assembly. I would have lost my throne and my crown and I would have been forced into exile but now I wonder if that might not have been better for me."

    He knocks back his drink and pours another one, "At least if I had fallen, at least if I had even died, I would not have to see this, I would not have to do this."

    "The army has marched south under Seinsheim and Berg," the King rubs his forehead, there is such sorrow written in his eyes, "Perhaps they will triumph and perhaps they will fall. I had intended for you to go with them and if you hurry you still might be able to but I asked you here to provide you with options. If not for you two, if not for your help with Jori's quest, if not for your aid against the Eberhardts, if not for your heroic stand against the Watcher's army, if not for you then I would already have lost. So I want to give you a choice. You may march south in pursuit of the army should you wish, I know that you would prove invaluable to them, but there is also another business I could use your help with..."

    Evidently this business he wishes to broach is difficult for him as he knocks back another drink. His earlier binge may have been just for show but at this rate he is going to drink himself into a real stupor.

    "We were attacked while you were gone," he straightens himself up in his chair and wipes his eyes, he seems determined to do this properly, "A Pathfinder prison, the Pathfinder prison that that necromancer was moved to. They tried to free her, they succeeded, they tried to recover the stones but thankfully I refused to keep them together, the stones are hidden in a place only I know of. Worse yet some dwarf claiming to be 'Eberhardt Resurrected' drove off the attackers and put down the worst of them with his band of rebels. Now the whole city whispers his name," the dwarf scoffs, "Ah well, the attack is troublesome but what has me truly shaken is that there are only a handful of people that know about it. Argus, myself, the six guards that run the place and, my family. Argus would not betray me, those guards all laid down their lives to protect the prison, they died to the last man and so that leaves only one explanation that I can think of."

    You know what he is going to say but it would be best if he were the one to say it.

    "Someone in my family is a traitor," he lets the information fall from his mouth, a great weight from his shoulders. Of course you already had you suspicions and he readily notices that you are not surprised, "You knew?"

    "Mentalists," you tap the side of your head, "We knew it was a possibility."

    He nods wearily, "Yes, that is also why I want you to do it. I know you are not in the enemy's employ and I know you have the skills needed to do this. I would like you to investigate my children, if you find the one or ones responsible then you have my permission to, to execute them without trial. If you have to, you have my permission to kill them all. Better a dead innocent, as Bari used to say, than a living threat to the kingdom."


    The Children:

    "We, we will need details," you prompt him quietly.

    "Right," he laughs or coughs, maybe a little of both, "Did you ever meet my entire family? No I suppose you did not."

    He shakes his head, "I had eleven children, five by my late, first wife, all brave young sons, and the rest by dear Eleanor. One died with my first wife while I was on campaign... always on campaign... if I had been there, then maybe... I did not even get to see the child's body before he was disposed of."

    The king gathers himself back up, "Of the remaining ten, four are dead. You met Jori, his younger brother, and two younger sisters also perished. Of my remaining children three went south with the army while three elected to remain in the capital. If you require specifics then you need but ask."

    The king falls silent, spent, but he seems willing to answer any questions you might have and Astrid can probably provide you with more general information if needed as well.

    As he says, you need but ask.


    1. You choose to:

    A) Go South: you will pursue the army and link up with them immediately. Given the number of internal and external threats they face they will need help.

    B) Stay in Myrgard: you will remain in the capital. The king needs capable an loyal supporters on hand and it should provide you with a number of opportunities (all B choice will be counted together)

    i. You will pursue Nephila's directions to that ancient Spider Goddess temple, perhaps there is something there that you can use.

    ii. You will spend you time trying to get to know Albrecht's three children that are still in the capital. Perhaps one or more are traitors to the throne.

    iii. You will spend your time investigating the great houses to the best of your ability. You may be able to mend a few fences with them and reconcile somewhat and you may be able to uncover if their are any followers of the Dark in their ranks.

    iv. You will focus primarily on building your own powerbase. If the whole kingdom is this corrupt then you will turn Blackrock into your own personal army. You need tools to defend yourself and Albrecht with. This will require either a large scale recruitment drive or the absorption of existing mercenary bands.

    v. You will focus your efforts on the prison site that was attacked, maybe you can find clues there.

    vi. You will have focus your efforts on the palace, if there is a leak it is likely there. (note: your mice might be well suited to this task.)

    vii. freeform - You will do something else in Myrgard.

    C) A bit of both: You will spend time in the city working on one of the following option before moving south and attempting to join up with the army, provided the situation does not change dramatically. (All C options will be counted together)

    i. You will pursue Nephila's directions to that ancient Spider Goddess temple, perhaps there is something there that you can use.

    ii. You will spend you time trying to get to know Albrecht's three children that are still in the capital. Perhaps one or more are traitors to the throne.

    iii. You will spend your time investigating the great houses to the best of your ability. You may be able to mend a few fences with them and reconcile somewhat and you may be able to uncover if their are any followers of the Dark in their ranks.

    iv. You will focus primarily on building your own powerbase. If the whole kingdom is this corrupt then you will turn Blackrock into your own personal army. You need tools to defend yourself and Albrecht with. This will require either a large scale recruitment drive or the absorption of existing mercenary bands.

    v. You will focus your efforts on the prison site that was attacked, maybe you can find clues there.

    vi. You will have focus your efforts on the palace, if there is a leak it is likely there. (note: your mice might be well suited to this task.)

    vii. freeform - You will do something else in Myrgard before heading south.

    D) freeform - Come up with your own plan in its entirety. I will try to get the mechanics update out as quickly as I can so you know what you have to work with.


    2. Supplies: The Brothers offered to sell you mandrake roots and energon cubes though neither are available in large supplies. They also have a wide selection of stock, if you want anything in particular feel free to ask and they might be able to supply it for a price. (Any item that gets more than half the votes, rounded up, will be purchased. With items you can buy in bulk the most popular quantity will be purchased).

    A) Mandrake roots: 10 WPs each.

    B) Energon cubes: 2 WPs each

    C) Seven Piece of simple but good quality jewelry: 5 WPs

    D) One Spell Storing Gold Ring: 75 WPs

    E) Request an Item


    3. Letters to Blackrock: Now that you have heard half of the Great Houses were compromised, you have your doubts about whether you should have left your fort in the hands of Hesse and Welf. It might also be worh your time to send for some of your people that are currently stationed at the fort.

    A) You ask Albrect to recall Hesse and his forces under any pretext he can think of. (to reinforce Stoneheim army, to guard the capital? Not sure myself where I want them. Besides, they aren't even an army.)

    B) You recall Lord Welf and his forces.

    C) You recall both Lords. You have summoned them to help with the undead menace, and you do not need them now that it is already dealt with.

    D) You send an eagle to fetch Nephila. She will come to the city after she is done securing the tunnels and she will approach the Brothers Dietfried. They will contact you when she arrives.

    E) You send an eagle to recall Ceannard and the Arrows early (Nephila will just have to make due on her own). They will return to their compound in the city and notify you when they are ready to commence negotiations on their next assignment.

    F) You will send for Myora and some of your Blackrock mercenaries (feel free to name how many, if no preference is given then Myora will follow her own judgement).

    G) You will send for Kaf and some of your Blackrock mercenaries (feel free to name how many, if no preference is given then Myora will follow her own judgement).

    H) You do not act upon this. They are not an immediate concern, and it might be a good idea to keep the Lords where your allies may observe them.


    4. Cheese: You owe the mice of Fort Blackrock cheese in exchange for the information they gave you. You have a few options on how you want to find their cheese.

    A) Just grab something from the palace. Martin will just have to find something that works for them based on what Albrecht has.

    B) Take Martin to the market and let him pick something out. This will cost you time but he will definately be able to find you something.

    C) The Brothers Dietfried have an odd box of cheese that Martin says smells delicious but... it glows slightly. The mouse wants it for his people and the Dietfrieds say it is not likely to mutate anyone but you are not too sure and their inability to give you a complete guarantee worries you a little.

    D) Martin's pick of the castle + we send someone to go fetch a variety of smaller cheeses from the market.


    5. You are concerned that the royal army will not have sufficient magical firepower to handle the threats they will face in the south but there may be a way to quickly reinforce them. You could convince Albrecht to hire the Seekers, a company of mercenary battlemages, to help strengthen the army in the field. The going rate to contract the entire company for a period of one month is 250 WPs, do you advise Albrecht to make this purchase?

    A) Yes, a little more power never hurts.

    B) No, it is money best spent elsewhere.


    6. Mazzarin - Do you tell Albrecht that you freed Mazzarin in the desert?

    A) Yes

    B) No


    7: Should you let Albrecht know about Nanshe now that you have a private audience?

    A - Yes.

    B - No.


    8. You have an option to request the Royal Academy to make you a custom item of your choosing. Do you requisition it?

    A. Yes, you will give them a sample of the demon sap and request them to complete your remote bomb project by making bombs that are activated by 'recall item' spell and designed to incapacitate the target rather then blow it up. You want it done by the time you leave the city, since the Pathfinders have already laid down most of the groundwork.

    B. No, you do not bother with such requests.


    9. Do you feed Martin the glowing chunk of 'completely safe' cheese?

    A. Yes, you want to see what will happen

    B. No, it is glowing cheese you do not want anyone to ingest that


    10. Build a spell storage ring. It will require you giving one of your rings to the Academy to study for a few hours or days and it will likely take about a month to properly enchant it but you believe it should be possible to build another spell storage ring from scratch. The King will cover the development costs.

    A) Yes, you undertake developing the ring now.

    B) No, you either do not want the ring or do not want them to work on the ring now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
    • Brofist Brofist x 6
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  7. Fangshi Arcane

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

    Party Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Derryth:

    Lost the Following Items:
    1. 1 nice, silver ring (Current Enchantment: The Path of Clarity)
    2. 1 nice, gold necklace (Current Enchantment: The Path of Intellect)
    3. The Thin White Mage's tome
    4. Torn page from The Thin White Mage's tome
    5. Gullveig's documents (enemy list, casualty reports, etc)
    6. One Hideous Belt Buckle
    7. Obsidian Lockbox and Key
    8. Half of the very large sack of ghôl marks (Strange Green Shells used as coins, worthless in most markets, worth about 30 WPs in ghôl markets). - You have 15 WPs worth left.

    Thaïs:

    Lost the Following Items:
    1. 1 nice, silver ring (Current Enchantment: The Path of Clarity)
    2. 1 nice, silver brooch (Current Enchantment: The Path of Intellect)

    Lyssa:

    Lost the Following Item:
    1. 1 nice, silver ring (Current Enchantment: Path of Clarity)

    Pet Status Change:
    Ocypete (trained eagle) - Dispatched changed to On Hand
    Jatayu (trained eagle) - On hand changed to stationed at Fort Blackrock

    Biliku:

    Rejoins the Party

    Lost the Following Item:
    1. 1 nice, silver ring (Current Enchantment: The Path of Memory)

    Uttu:

    Rejoins the Party

    Lost the Following Item:
    1. 1 nice, silver ring (Current Enchantment: The Path of Memory)

    Berty:

    Rejoins the Party

    Lost the Following Item:
    1. A Very Large Fern (Pot)

    Ceannard:

    Leaves the Party

    Muirthemne Personnel:

    Named Muirthemne Characters will recieve character sheets for reference when the character index is reorganized.

    Here are the basics for now:

    Garner: Axe and Shield Warrior (high strength and con, low dex)
    Naram: Archer/Warrior (high dex, decent str, low con)
    Three-Fingers: 'Bard' (some very basic magic ability), Classic Sword and Shield Warrior, (fairly average)
    Brom: Sword and Shield Warrior (high con and high dex, average str)
    Ida: Archer (high dex, decent str, low con)
    Morna: Archer (high str, high dex, low con)
    Thayer: Paymaster/Archer (high int, decent dex, decent con, low str)

    Gareth, Brigit, Amena and Ithapi may also receive partial updates as well though 'sensitive' information is not likely to be updated given the insecure nature of the letters.


    Organizational Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Wealth:

    Current Wealth by Region:
    Muirthemne: 850 WPs (+137 WPs based on Gareth and Brigit's actions.)

    Myrgard: 144 WPs (-5 WPs given to Nephila)

    Income:
    +380 WPs (an increase of 335 WPs due to Mayer's actions)

    Expenses:
    Myrgard:
    -130 WPs (an increase of 60 WPs, factoring in the total known personnel for your organization, payments to be made to the families of the dead and costs associated with running Blackrock's facilities and the the properties acquired by Mayer. A more detailed breakdown could be provided on request.

    Muirthemne:
    -80 WPs (for personnel, equipment, training and to maintain the facility).

    Named Personnel Additions:

    'The Lost' Merenary Company Mages:
    - Three-Fingers

    'The Lost' Mercenary Company Warriors:
    - Thayer
    - Garner
    - Naram
    - Brom
    - Ida
    - Morna

    Named Personnel Losses:

    Blackrock Warriors:
    - Rand (he is very likely a write off at this point)

    Former Members Addition:

    Blackrock Warriors:
    - Rand, Deserter

    Unnamed Personnel Additions:

    Muirthemne:
    +20 Veteran Warriors
    +10 Veteran Archers
    +20 Warrior Recruits
    +10 Archer Recruits

    Known Pacts (since these are proving to be popular I will start listing them):

    Demon Pacts:

    Morpheus / Derryth, Thaïs - Agreement, he will provide protection while in the Dreaming in exchange for a steady supply of stories. Contract can be terminated at any time by the human parties. Includes an addition assurance that he will not attempt to abduct or manipulate you or your staff.

    Morpheus / The Lost - Agreement, in exchange for the Thin White Mage, the demonic party shall provide the mortal parties with a favour of their choice.

    Nephila / Derryth, Thaïs, Lyssa - Blood Oath, a non-aggression pact which includes a truth telling clause, a guarantee of mutual anonymity, self-defense clauses and a promise on the part of the demonic party not to prey upon any sentient individual except in self defense.

    Known Faction Changes:

    The Empire:
    Administration:
    Imperial Police: neutral (-5) - lose five points due to Gareth and Brigit's actions
    The Legion: neutral (+15) - gain five points due to Gareth and Brigit's actions

    Circles of the Empire:
    The Warlocks of the Scholomance: neutral (-10) - lose ten points due to Gareth and Brigit's actions
    The Children of the Callieach: neutral (-15) - lose five points due to Gareth and Brigit's actions

    'Commercial' Organizations:
    The Merchant 'Co-Prosperity' Consortium: cool (0) - gain fifty five points due to Gareth and Brigit's actions

    The Dwarven Kingdom:
    Monarchist Factions:
    The Loyal House Hesse - neutral (+10) - gain five points due to your actions
    The Industrious House Berg - neutral (+15) - gain five points due to Mayer's actions
    The Ancient House Seinsheim - neutral (-35) - lose twenty five points due to Mayer's actions and maybe something else
    The Honest House Reginar - neutral (-10) - lose fifteen points due to Mayer's actions
    The Virtuous House Welf - neutral (-35) - lose thirty points due to Mayer's actions

    Merchant Factions:
    The Goldsmith Guild: neutral (-10) - lose ten points due to Mayer's actions

    Blackrock Fort, Rodent Factions:
    Inner Clans:
    The Observers: warm (+35) - gain ten points due to your own actions

    Outer Clans:
    The Ratguard: warm (+35) - gain five points due to your own actions


    Rolls:

    Show Spoiler
    Alright, so when it comes to actual rolls in this update, well, there weren't really any.

    Of the few there were some were bartering checks to see how much of your sack of shells you would loose to the brothers (Taide did quite well there and got you a substantial discount). Some more were related to how much information you could get out of Hesse (you did about average) and that is about it.

    You traveled by balloon and by carriage in the city over such short distances that there were no movement rolls for you and there was honestly little else to roll for.

    However now that you have returned to the city I can reveal some of the previous sets of rolls that were happening every time I mentioned there were other rolls going on.

    So starting with Myrgard:

    After you left the necromancers and cultists in the city began to plan their next attack.

    Eberhardt rebels also plotted to rescue Eberhardt's corpse from where it was hung for all to see.

    Both attacks succeeded by a large margin and led to rather interesting outcomes. Some, like the release of several dangerous prisoners into the city, should be obvious, some you will only find out about later.

    There were a variety of roles related to the Eberhardts but you are not privy to that information just yet.

    A large number of the rolls had to do with events in the south and the complete mess that is developing down there.

    There were also a number of rolls related to the army moving south and many of the characters that have been recently named have been up to things that required rolls though those can not be revealed yet.

    In general terms though, Nanshe has been rolling a lot as have her followers, TWM has had a few rolls, Mazzarin has had rolls, Faceless has had rolls (pretty much every character you have 'freed' has been up to something interesting).

    The first few sets of rolls for your trap for TWM have also been rolled.

    That is all I can think of off the top of my head so if there is something you are specifically interested in feel free to ask and I will either answer or tell you you can't know yet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
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  8. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    3,197
    Wow, looks like The Faceless (Wo)man has gotten settled in Muirthemne.

    Anyway, lets start by asking for info about all the children, living and dead.

    And what exactly is the situation in the south?
     
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  9. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,060
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    We will have to pursuit the army. The traitors will just kill them all if we leave them be. Not like they even have to try very hard, with so many enemies around.

    But first, we will have to ensure that there are no internal threats left.

    I'll have a talk with Albrecht, and decide what to do then, but I think either Cii or Ciii is in order. Or, if we feel particularly desperate, Biv.
    :bunkertime:

    Anyone thinks there might be a connection there somewhere?

    We might want to ask Albrecht a few questions about the ascension of his family. There might be a history here.

    Fangshi, did the stone the temple was made of felt similar to the black marble we found in Mayer's mind?

    Also, we might ask Albrecht to recall Hesse (or Welf, or both of them) under the pretext of reinforcing the army, or the guard in the capitol, or whatever. We did not secure the fort to staff it with the enemy garrison.

    Show Spoiler
    :salute: :oops: :lol:
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
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  10. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Messages:
    807
    Location:
    Greece
    Lengthy, awesome update!

    My suggestion is for:
    1:
    C:
    ii: Derryth + Biliku + Uttu
    iii: Thais + Caenard
    iv: Lyssa + Mayer
    v: Berty investigate the 'Unforgotten, Unforgiven'

    2:
    B: Get 10 Energon Cubes for each of our 3 mages for 60WP.


    The plan is to have Derryth and the girls close to the King investigating his family (i have a meta-gamey hunch its his wife), Thais and Caenard doing public relations as the Heroes of Blackrock Defence and investigating the Houses, and Lyssa being our contact with Mayer helping him establish a powerbase for us (can the King offer a zero-intrest loan to help us in this regard?).


    Fangshi, how many roots will it take to heal Bari? Is that number of roots available at the Brothers? Is the king willing to buy them for us (secret fund?)?

    On a side note, i hope this Dwarven Arc closes soon because i would love to go back to Muirthemne and reunite the Lost.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
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  11. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
    Joined:
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    I like asxetos's suggestion but I think we should probably have Mayer help with houses and Berty help with merc recruitment. Mayer is more useful for investigating noble houses and his presence might be warranted for reconciling (Did anyone else notice that the two houses at -35 rep are also the two houses who are not infiltrated by cultists?) and Berty is good at underground connections and evaluating merc skills and trustworthiness. Also, if we're looking to expand our powerbase we should probably consider our options with the Black Arrows again. We could really do with some quality archers.

    Fangshi, what are our current options for Black Arrows again? And I suppose we may as well offer to Greater Heal Mayer if he provides the supplies. By the way, what happened to making proper ale?
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
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  12. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
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    Absinthe I wanted Berty to investigate the 'Unforgotten, Unforgiven', but i can switch him off, if Caenard can provide some good rogue-types to do a quiet investigation on the words. Fangshi, does Caenard have the personnel or connections?
     
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  13. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Can we not split our mentalist mages who work much better as a pair (as we have already seen where one worked her magic while the other worked as a distraction) when our goal is to investigate and mindscan people?
     
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  14. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
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    Well, we only have to find out the people who have the same mental walls as Lord Hesse and we dont need two for that. After we get our suspect list, we can do the assault togather with Thais.
     
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  15. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    ...we also need to do it discreetly?

    Scanning the Great Lords openly is not the brightest of ideas. Or how do you propose we do that:
    A team working together is much more likely to get inside their brains unnoticed.

    If we probe the wrong person and get busted, we are looking at a scandal that is going to make an already bad situation much worse. Argus was clearly concerned about that.

    Hell, even if we get busted knowing that we got the 'right' man, it is not much better. They are still Great Lords and they still command a considerable power, while the king appears to have none.
     
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  16. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
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    Nevill In my plan, Thais has Caenard for support while she is doing her checks while Derryth has Biliku and Uttu. Plus, they dont have to actually invade the people's minds, they only have to check for the defences. In the last update, Derryth didnt have any problem doing that alone while Thais was talking to the lords. I do agree that when we find our targets, we should get Derryth and Thais togather for the mental assault.
     
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  17. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    What kind of 'support' do you have in mind?

    Derryth and Thais are Heroes of the Kingdom, two of the most powerful mages the Kingdom has, King's favorites, and now also landholders.

    Who the hell are Ceannard, Biliku and Uttu and why would the Great Lords/Princes even consider talking to those?

    We didn't have problems with checking Hesse before (though we know it is difficult to scan a brain and maintain a conversation), but we also knew that none of the Lords were mages or had mages with them. This is not always going to be the case.

    I don't know, in a delicate situation like this I do not want to spread our forces - the ones that matter - too thin.
     
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  18. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    I am probably nitpicking, but those parts disturbed the flow:
    "- but if we think of something else we will let you know," you and with a wink." - you add with a wink.
    "She grins he needle sharp teeth sliding" - her needle

    As for Emperor exit i think that Mazzarin is one most likely responsible.



    1)C2 if we cant split
    if we can:
    C2 Derryth
    C3 Thais
    C5 Lyssa - get to jail and check if there are any Info to get there, failing that get to academy to learn magic.


    2)A 5
    B 12
     
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  19. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    No one is really sure as no one has managed to reach Stoneheim and actually return alive. Those that have tried and given up report a number of threats in the area:

    1. Very large ghôlish war parties, larger than anything that has been seen since the fall of the kingdom. They attack any target they think they can best.

    2. Necromancer armies. Armies comprised of a large number of ghasts and 'fresh' undead. They are mostly interested in attacking refugees and other 'soft' targets. Some people have reported Shades with some groups and other, less, common horrors.

    3. Cloaked Riders. Small bands of warriors in disguise, they seem very skilled and many appear to be at least minor mages. They attack those that witness them but their primary focus seems to be assaulting other hostile forces.

    4. Blinking Horrors. No one is really sure what theses are. They do not seem too interested in the dwarven civilians, instead preferring to attack any armed group. They blink in and out of existence as the race along the sands, green and red magic billowing behind them. They seem to be generally hostile to everyone though they tend to focus on the undead.

    5. Eberhardt Rebels. With renewed spirit and improved weaponry the rebels are at it again. Their groups tend to be on the smaller side but the persecution of the last month or so has done wonders to root out incompetents and 'fair weather' followers. Those that reamain are capable and dedicated.

    All of these groups are slaughtering each other and anyone that gets in the way, the situation in the south is a complete mess as a result.

    Yes, they felt similar. Neither seemed 'natural' to you.

    Ceannard is still at the fort with his men and Nephila making sure that there are no cracks for the beasts to slip through, he seemed a natural fit for the job as he knows what she is and is a consummate professional. You would need to wait for him to finish and return to the city before Thaïs can begin or you would need to send for him now and have someone locate him in the caves and send him back to the city. He will also require payment to act as Thaïs' guard(s) but you can not be sure how much until you talk to him.

    The King will not be able to give you any more loans like that, the lords are watching too closely. Mayer could probably give you a loan and even defer the first couple of payments if you wanted but the rate of interest on it would not be zero or near zero as 'he does not do charity'.

    It will take about a wagon full and a bit, several hundred to be absolutely certain you have enough fuel. You will not be able to purchase that many from the Brothers, they do not have that many. The king might be able to buy some if there is a pressing need but you used up most of the roots in the city with the last ritual you completed.

    I will try to find that old post listing the mercenary companies and transfer the information over to give you the exact costs in WPs but your general options fall into two categories.

    You can continue to hire out the Arrows for specific jobs or you can attempt to absorb their whole organization permanently. If you attempt to absorb them then there essentially two ways to do that. Buy out Ceannard so that he will retire (more expensive) or make him a partner in your organization with a smaller formal purchase (cheaper but still quite expensive).

    He thanks you but says not to waste the money. He still has one eye and plenty of fingers and he has better things to spend his money on than a few vanities to make himself look more presentable. Derryth thinks he might just be putting on a tough face for her benefit but she has no real way to know for sure.

    Takes a bit of time. The ladies have the ingredients and it is currently fermenting. Until then they make do with whatever is to hand wherever they happen to be.

    He has the right connections and some of his veteran archers know there way around the less scrupulous social circles of the city but at the moment he is still at the fort with most of his men.

    Nitpicking is good. :lol:

    After a certain point I end up reading what I think I wrote rather than what is actually on the page and I have never been great at proofreading my own work (always helps to have a second set of eyes at the least). I will fix those passages and if you ever find something that does not read properly do not hesitate to let me know. :salute:

    Yes, you certainly can.

    At the moment you have the following people on hand to work with:

    Mages: Derryth, Thaïs, Lyssa

    Warriors: Biliku, Uttu, Berty, Skite

    Non-Coms: Mayer

    The following people are at the fort:

    Warriors: Ceannard, Myora, Kaf along with the Arrows and your Blackrock mercenaries.


    Edit:

    Here is the mercenary information for the last time it came up. The options have not changed dramatically since then:

    Show Spoiler
    It is a possibility but not one that you can pursue in the short term, archaen is correct, the Arrows are an expensive outfit to buy out.

    Ceannard would be willing to sell the Arrows to you for 4000 WPs since he loves his job and has no intention retire.

    If you kept him on as an officer he would do it for 3000 WPs.

    If you kept him on as a partner he would do it for 2000 WPs.

    Show Spoiler
    Finally if you kept him on as a partner and Derryth and Thaïs agreed to sleep with him he would do it for 1000 WPs, he is a simple man with simple needs. ;) (If you could rope in Lyssa too he might do it for 800 WPs...)


    There are a number of lesser mercenary companies that you could purchase for substantially less (Note these are not voting options at the moment. You can look into this later but it will take a bit of time.):

    Just to serve as an example I will include the entry for the Arrows:

    The Black Arrows:

    Show Spoiler
    The Black Arrows - One of the most successful companies in the entire Kingdom with over a decade of successful contracts under their belt. They are amongst the finest archers this side of the Cloudspine Mountains and are known for their professionalism. Dressed in black and gold the Arrows have aided you a number of times in the past and have proven themselves competent and dependable. Buying them out would not be cheap though.

    Leader: Ceannard

    Numbers: Currently the company consists of thirty 'Black Arrows', the name used for Ceannard's fully trained, expert marksmen. (They are amongst the best human archers in the world.) And a further fifty new archers which are not yet counted as full members of the company.

    Cost:
    To fully buy out: 4000 WPs
    To buy out but and keep Ceannard and his officers on: 3000 WPs
    To buy out and make Ceannard a partner: 2000 WPs
    To buy out making Ceannard a partner but 'negotiating' a little - 1000 WPs
    To buy out making Ceannard a partner but 'negotiating' a lot (and often) - 800 WPs


    Most established mercenary companies will have their fair share of quirks and specific morals, the Blooded Doves for example:

    The Blooded Doves

    Show Spoiler
    The Blooded Doves - A human outfit, mostly heavy infantry. They are the former guardians of a minor faith, however a schism in their church has left them without a patron. They take on mercenary work to cover their expenses. They dress in red and white and you met a few of them at Meletē's workshop. You could buy them out if you are willing to respect their faith, provide them with space for a chapel at your facilities and clothe and feed them.

    Leader: Ada the Dove

    Numbers: Sixty human soldiers. Forty of which are heavy infantry, ten of which are light infantry and ten of which are light cavalry. Their cost is higher than average as each has a great deal of intricate equipment to maintain most of which has a religious significance for them.

    Cost:
    To fully buy out - N/A (as a religious order you will have to accept them all, including officers.)
    To buy out but keep Ada and her officers on - 750 WPs
    To buy out and make Ada a partner - 400 WPs


    Others have no morals but that is not necessarily an advantage:

    'Ta Blue Bastards'

    Show Spoiler
    'Ta Blue Bastards' - They are, interesting. You met a few at Meletē's workshop as well. They fight naked and attack with multiple blades. Most of them are dwarves but there are a few mauls and humans as well. They paint themselves in blue dye as they believe it will protect them in battle. They tend to drink most of their money away and so are always looking for new jobs. If you gave them food, board and booze they would gladly fight for you.

    Leader: 'Ta Blue Bastard

    Numbers: One hundred and twenty 'berserker braves', eighty dwarves, twenty humans and twenty mauls.

    Cost:
    To fully buy out the Bastard - 100 WPs and twelve cases of the finest whiskey you can get.
    To buy out and keep the Bastard and his fellows on - 50 WPs
    To buy out and make the Bastard a partner - Free but he will want any and all alcohol you come across.


    The Mighty Cocks

    Show Spoiler
    The Mighty Cocks - A traditional mercenary company held together by gold, beer and a bit of violence. The Cocks are good at fighting and little else, as such they are often mislead by their employers and short changed when it comes time to pay up. Given their violent disposition the Cocks usually manage to get their payment, in gold or blood, either will do. They dress in gaudy greens and red and tend to prefer cheap, easy to acquire weapons and armour. Given the company's history of violence it tends to attract a disproportionate number of Berserks, Mauls and criminals. It is led by a massive Maul known only as the Cock, there are a number of rather entertaining stories about how he got that name. It is likely none of them are true. Give them gold or blood and they will follow.

    Leader: The Cock

    Numbers: Ninety brawlers, fourty Berserks, thirty mauls, and twenty dwarves. They are all poorly armed and armoured.

    Cost:
    To fully buy out the Cock - Free, you will need to challenge him and kill him in single combat. Anything goes.
    To buy out and keep the Cock and his lieutenants on - 500 WPs
    To buy out and make the Cock a partner - 300 WPs



    Finally there are a number of companies that are simply mysterious and would take personal meetings to acquire, for example:

    The Seekers

    Show Spoiler
    The Seekers - Mercenary mages that are very selective in the jobs they take. There existence is fact but their goals are unknown. All agree that they are looking for something however and that is how they got their name. Some say they are looking for knowledge, some say for power, others think they are searching for redemption while others insist they are simply looking for a fight worth having. Whatever they are looking for they do good work, that much can not be denied. They have never failed to complete a contract but they rarely take on jobs and their rate makes the Arrows look cheap.

    Leader: The Old Man in the Mountain

    Numbers: Twenty Battlemages and an unknown number of unknown 'guardians'

    Cost:
    To fully buy them out - N/A
    To buy them out and keep their leaders on - unknown, you would have to meet with their leader
    To buy them out and make their leaders partners - unknown, you would have to meet with their leader


    Edit2:

    Missed this request in the original batch. I will type out a summary about all of Albrecht's children as soon as I have a moment.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
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  20. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Alright, here is the information on Albrecht's children.

    Albrecht's many progeny:

    The dwarf King has had two wives in his life and before Eleanor he had his fair share of mistresses as well. This has led to a number of children, they are listed below, oldest to youngest (they are all adults now by the way, there are no 'children' among his children). You ask him about his offspring and he agrees to tell you what he knows though he notes that if he knew everything (or even most things) about them he would not need you to do this for him. He is not close to most of his children and that fact it is the single greatest regret he has.

    1. Reinhard:

    Albrecht's first son and the designated heir. He is tall and broad for a dwarf, strong jawed, keen eyed, he is everything one could want in a prince of the blood. He is an intelligent and effective leader, a gifted tactician and general that spends most of his time in the field with the army. He is well loved by the people and considered a hero of the kingdom by many. He is generous, he is loyal, he is brave, he also hates his father. Albrecht makes no attempt to hide this fact, when Reinhardt's mother died the dwarf took it hard and blamed Albrecht. The two of them had it out and since then they have not spoken privately as father and son. Reinhardt disagrees with his father on the course the Kingdom should take in the future and enjoys considerable military support however he also makes the Great Houses nervous and he has few genuine friends outside of the military. Reinhardt has the ambition to be a traitor and the ability to carry it off but as the designated heir he lacks a clear motive, weakening the kingdom does nothing but weaken his own future as far as Albrecht can see. If he is the traitor then Albrecht advises caution, he is not an enemy to treat lightly.

    He is currently traveling with the army south to Stoneheim.

    2. Timo:

    Albrecht's second son and a joyful if merciless dwarf. He is a plotter, always ha been, and he has been instrumental in helping House Albrecht retain the throne over the last decade. He spends most of his time in a private room at the Silver Flame and it is said he is on very intimate terms with the owner of the establishment. His agents, while not as skilled as the Pathfinders in general, are quite adept at extracting and spinning information. He gets along well enough with the king, he always says the right things and shows due respect for his step mother but there is a 'distance' to him in his dealings with the rest of his family, as if he is unwilling or unable to get too close to them personally. Albrecht worries about him from time to time but he is a grown dwarf and must make his own fate. Timo has spent the better part of his adult life in service to his House and though he has the ability to be a successful traitor Albrcht is not certain if he has the desire to betray his own family like that, still there is something off about the boy.

    He should be at the Silver Flame, as always when not on public or private business.

    3. Wenzel

    Albrecht's third son. A drunkard, a lech, a spendthrift and a gambler. There is little to say about the dwarf that is positive but his older brothers both care for him dearly. Albrecht can not actually tell you much about his son's activities. He comes and goes from the palace as he sees fit and until last year he had a habit of bringing home all sorts of rascals and scoundrels. Albrecht had it out with 'the boy' and since then he has taken up with a group of 'mercenaries' on the far end of town. He fancies himself some sort of 'captain' of 'fighting men' but they are mostly thugs, extortionists and murderers. Reinhard has done what he can to try and reign in his younger brother and Timo does what he can to minimize the scandal Wenzel causes but Albrecht's third son is an embarrassment to the family. Albrecht could see him as the traitor if he could somehow manage to stay sober enough to even plot such a thing. Wenzel has motive but lacks the ability to actually pull it off in Albrecht's estimation.

    He should be with his 'company' somewhere on the rough side of town.

    4. Jan

    Albrecht's youngest surviving son by his first wife. Jan is a quiet dwarf and keeps largely to himself. When he came of age he applied to be accepted to the Royal Academy and without any favouritism on the part of his father he made the cut. Of all the sons born to him by his first wife, Jan is his favourite. Perhaps because he is the only son that Albrecht is still on reasonable terms with. He is a scholar and a researcher, a mage and an explorer. He often takes long trips into the hinterland to research the history of the Kingdom and he has made a number of fascinating discovers about some of the previous dynasties that the king was quick to put to use for more 'practical' ends. Albrecht does not believe Jan could betray him, he does not see what his son would gain from such an act as he has little interest in the kingdom and prefers to pursue knowledge instead.

    He should be at the Royal Academy should you wish to speak with him. He normally does not welcome unexpected guests but the King will give you a letter of introduction if you wish to see him.

    5. Horst - deceased

    All he had was a name. Albrecht's first wife, Rosalind, died in childbirth with the baby. Albrecht was not with her at the time and only found out about the deaths weeks later. It shames him to this day that he did not even get to see the child's body before it was buried but dwarven tradition holds that the corpse should be returned to the earth as soon as possible to facilitate an easy passage of the soul...

    He is buried in the family crypt in Stoneheim.

    6. Jori - deceased

    Albrecht's first son by Eleanor and his sixth official son. Jori was the closest child to his father and as fifth in line to the throne there was such a slight chance of him ever taking the throne that their relationship could crystallize around other aspects of their personalities. Jori was the first child that Albrecht was really 'there for', he was a father to Jori in a way he had not been with his other sons and it gave him joy and sorrow in equal measure. Joy at what he had with the boy and sorrow at what he had so foolishly squandered with Jori's half brothers.

    You know all too well what happened to Jori. He died fighting the Blues under Muirthemne alongside you, he is still buried there.

    7. Friedelinde

    Albrecht's oldest daughter and an officer in the Royal Army, she holds the official rank of Master of the Chariots and is responsible for the maintenance, deployment and command of the kingdom's mobile elements. She is a fierce and rather stubborn 'young lady' and he thinks the two of you would get along famously if you ever met. She is his favourite out of his surviving children and the one he has the most in common with. She spends most of her free time with the designated heirs of house Hesse and Reginar. The three of them together are known as the 'Three Charioteers' and the stories of the battles with the ghôls, their devastating charges and calculated feints, are the stuff of many a barroom tale.

    She is with the army on the way to Stoneheim.

    8. Dagmar - deceased

    Albrecht's second daughter died four months ago when the carriage she was riding in exploded. She was not the target as far as he can tell. He was to head to the Assembly that morning and his personal carriage was prepared for the trip however it was such a beutiful day that at the last minute he decided, on a whim, to take one of the open carriages instead to enjoy the sun. Dagmar wanted to do a little shopping along the high street that day as well and when she asked her father if she could borrow a carriage he offered to let her use his personal one. After all, no one would think of getting in the way of the king's carriage. He had joked that she could skip the morning traffic that way.

    As soon as the carriage rolled out of the front gates if detonated.

    There was nothing that could be done.

    What is left of her is buried in Stoneheim in the family crypt.

    9. Heiner - deceased

    Albrecht's youngest son, he had volunteered to escort Dagmar around town that day. He was in the carriage when it blew.

    He too lies in the family mausoleum.

    10. Bärbel

    Albrecht's youngest living daughter. She is a cadet in the Royal Army serving under a different name so as not to receive special attention. She has spent her entire life trying to distance herself from her father and her family. In fact she only ever asked him for one thing in her entire life and that was for his permission to let her enroll in the army four months ago. He had readily given it to her though he suspects that she would have done it anyway even if he refused. From what he remembers of her as she grew up she was always a rather sad child, she always looked lost and a little upset and though he tried to help her he did not really know how and she would not or could not tell him how.

    She is marching south with the rest of the army as far as he knows. He can give you her assumed name and the number of her regiment if you wish to find her.

    11. Lilli - deceased

    His youngest daughter. She died fifteen years ago, the victim of a ghôlish attack while on route between Mygard and Stoneheim. Her body was never found, it was assumed that she had been carried off to serve as a snack. She had a degree of magical talent but not enough to save her life. He loved her dearly and her death hit him hard. It hit Eleanor even harder and the two agreed not to have any more children.

    An empty coffin with her name on it and a few personal effects rests in their crypt in Stoneheim.

    Albrecht also has four known, living bastards.

    The first is a mercenary operating out of the poorer end of town. Her name is Letta, she has never tried to contact him or ask him for anything and if her mother had not told him then he would not even know she exists. She runs a small mercenary outfit of about ten, they have a decent reputation but lack the resources to really make a name for themselves barring extraordinary luck. He has often thought about hiring her, giving her a simple contract with a massive paycheck just to help her out but as he watched her it became clear that, that would merely insult her. She is a few years younger the Reinhardt.

    The second lives somewhere in the western empire. His name is Udo and his mother was a serving girl, a dwarven exile, at the court of some Imperial noble he can not remember. He was far from home and a different dwarf back then. He only found out she had given birth to his son years later. The boy is a brewer and wants nothing to do with him or the family. His brand is called maul's head and Albrecht hears that it is quite good if you are ever up around Tyr.

    The third is a baker in Stoneheim. Not much more to say about him than that.

    The fourth, he lowers his voice to a whisper and scans the room.

    The fourth is Astrid.

    She does not know and he is not sure if he should tell her.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
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  21. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
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    What information can we get about Wenzel and Letta's companies?
     
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  22. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Sure, I can give you the same sort of write ups about them that I did for the Arrows, Doves and the like if you would like?

    Wenzel's group call themselves the 'Dogs of War', though his group is more commonly referred to as Wenzel's Weasels. Usually not to their faces though.

    So:

    Wenzel's Weasels

    Show Spoiler
    Wenzel's Weasels - Scum, lowlifes, thugs, murderers, there is not a fool, madman or criminal Wenzel has met that he has not hit it off with. This loose and large circle of friends and hangers-on that congregate around the buffoonish prince constitute one of the largest 'mercenary' companies in Myrgard. At over three hundred and fifty members the weasels have the sheer numbers needed to win most conflicts with other companies, or even city guards, without having to resort to any real form of strategy. When they take a job, which is not terribly often, they tend to simply throw 'soldiers' (the name for an entry level Weasel) at it until the problem goes away. The vast majority of the outfit is comprised of poorly armed and armoured dwarves drawn to the 'easy life' that Wenzel promises but there are a number of humans, mauls, and the like within the organization as well. Some claim that Wenzel even employs ghôls as well. Despite the low quality of the rank and file Weasels many of the officers sport unique skills or above average equipment which does allow the Weasels to compete 'on quality' every now and then. Given their seemingly endless numbers, strong financial backing and general ruthlessness it is rare for the Weasels to fail at a contract once they have undertaken it, though colateral damage tends to be high.

    The Weasels have only ever failed to deliver on one contract. Seven months ago they were hired to assault the compound of a minor house and kill all of its occupants. The house in question got wind of the impending attack and hired the Arrows to protect them (Ceannard charged them 500WPs to protect the compound on the condition that not one enemy would breach the walls). Approximately two hundred and eighty seven Weasels died that night, not a single member of the target house, nor a single Arrow was injured and the walls of their compound remained unbreached. Needless to say the Weasels and Wenzel do not much like the Black Arrows.

    Leader: Wenzel Albrecht

    Numbers: Three hundred and eighty five 'soldiers' (a mix of different races and equipment load-outs, each soldier is expected to supply his or her own equipment leading to radically different levels of equipment quality).

    Cost:
    To fully buy out - N/A, Wenzel does this for fun and the rest follow Wenzel
    To buy out but keep Wenzel and his officers on - 1750 WPs
    To buy out and make Wenzel a partner - 700 WPs




    The Ten Sovereigns

    Show Spoiler
    The Ten Sovereigns - A small but well run mercenary group led by the dwarf Letta. The Sovereigns were formed forty years ago in a grubby little tavern in Stoneheim. It was a rather regular night all things considered, ten strangers drank at separate tables in the bar or in ones and twos when a disheveled merchant burst through the front door wailing. He said he had been robbed and he begged the strangers to help him. Well, just like in a storybook they did, the ten strangers followed the merchant out into the night and were cut down by bandits and robbed. The merchant had led them into a trap. Some of those strangers had family, some had friends, one of those friends was Letta, a dwarven veteran of the war. She found out who was responsible for the robbery and tracked them back to a compound southwest of Stoneheim. However there were too many to fight by herself and so instead she tracked done the friends and loved ones of the other strangers that had died. Some were warriors and joined her cause, many more weren't and gave her money and supplies in exchange for the promise of vengeance and justice.

    She prepared and then she struck, her and nine other mercenaries, the Ten Sovereigns, so named after the gold their friends and family died for.

    The company has a rotating membership but it always stabilizes at ten, when a member dies or retires then a new one is hired. They are not a rich company, not a big one either and they get few contracts because they are so small but also because they are rather picky in the sort of work they will take on.

    Leader: Letta

    Numbers: Ten, no more, no less. The current lineup is comprised of Letta, five dwarves, a fir'Bolg, two humans and a maul.

    Cost:

    N/A, they are not the sort of company you buy out.

    If you wish to try and incorporate them within your own organization you would have to demonstrate to them that you are 'worth' serving in perpetuity. No one has managed that so far.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
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  23. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    3,197
    What kind of jobs would they do, if we wanted to hire them?

    For instance, if we wanted to hire The Ten Sovereigns to help out with investigating the Unforgotten, Unforgiven thing?
     
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  24. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Yes, they would be willing to look into that. For a standard investigation job they would charge about 5 WPs a week.

    If the job required more than simple investigation (ah, let's say they stumble on a cult to Cthulhu and have to fight their way past a couple dozen cultists for example) then they would want more money of course and they would expect payment to continue the investigation.

    As for general jobs, they do not do assassination, they do not do kidnapping, they do not do treason, these are more or less non-negotiable unless they have a personal reason to get involved.

    When it comes to what they will do, just about anything else is on the table though a lot will have to do with who the prospective employer is in a given situation and what exactly they need done.
     
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  25. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    3,197
    What do we know about The Ten Sovereigns' equipment/experience?
     
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