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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    Fangshi is there any way we can use bracelets to locate each other? Can our guardian tell where is one bracelet related to other? If so thread is unnecessary.
     
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  2. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    This was the first thing I thought of.
    Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The range is extremely short.

    What thread? We can't use the Spinner or we risk losing Jan. :)
     
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  3. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    I have an idea.

    What if this last bit was added by Jan's own hand, without actually realizing what it was that he was writing? He might have just copied the symbols. What if he is heading towards the place where he saw that inscription?

    Still doesn't explain why he became so nervous, though.

    Meh. I am probably wrong. Would a researcher write on a tablet that might be an invaluable artefact?
     
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  4. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Yes it likely would be more practical but you don't have any. Maybe something to look into the next time you go shopping (along with other adventuring staples like a ten foot pole or rope).

    Crushed gemstones could be used for a similar purpose but the ladies tend not to waste money like that. There may be a few of the new solid lipsticks around but you would have to go to a specialty store to find some (might be something to look into, enchanted lipstick does have possibilities).

    The bracelets only really function as intended when you are within twelve or so metres of each other. It is possible that, that range could be expanded over time if Caoilainn practiced.


    I will close the vote in seventeen hours or so. The current leading option is Dii with three specific votes and one general vote. Hopefully the update will be finished withing a day of the vote closing.
     
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  5. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Enchanted lipstick? What is it enchanted with?

    What kind of magical beautyfication is there? Is Nine using something like this to be a ten, or is she a natural?

    Yes, I always secretly wanted to be a pretty princess. Why? :oops:
     
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  6. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    With whatever you can come up with. I am not going to feed you devious ideas that I can use for your enemies instead. :smug:

    Well a few minor spells are already on the character sheets but really magic is only as limited as your creativity. Naturally there will often be obstacles (largely connected to how potentially OP I think something may be) but if you think you can overcome them then I see no reason not to let you try to do what you want.

    Nine would say that she is a natural ten and if you want to contest that fact/'fact' then you can certainly try. :lol:

    I suppose you will need to carve out a state for yourself then.
     
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  7. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Sooo, about that arrow thing... :)
     
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  8. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Sure, since there is consensus, why not?

    The vote is closed, Dii wins and you will use the arrows/bolts to leave a trail your reinforcements can follow.

    Ideally the update will be out some time tomorrow provided the flu I have caught clears up enough to let me write more than a sentence at a time.
     
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  9. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    A bottle or two of cognac should clear that flu right up.
     
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  10. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Sounds like a plan if ever I heard one. Time to go see what I have left in the liquor cabinet I guess. :salute:



    Turning to a slightly different subject. The flu may have robbed me of the ability to knock out thousands of words in a few hours but it has given me the ability to focus in on monotonous tasks that require little higher brain function.

    Like this:

    [​IMG]

    This is a representation of how things stand as of Nov 11, 2542 (my admittedly horrible Paint skills aside this is how things look politically, at least on a formal level).

    The Dark Red border encapsulates all the land that is part of the Cath Bruig Empire. As you can see it is quite large. It can then be further subdivided into five pieces. The Empire/Eastern Empire (purple border), the Province/Western Empire (bright red border), the Free Cities in the northwest (golden border), the Forest Heart, run by the Forest Giants in the southeast of the Empire (dark green border), and finally the Ermine, run by the fir'Bolg in the northwest of the Empire (yellow-green border).

    The rest are foreign states:

    In the north west the light blue Deep Mire is claimed by the mysterious Skrael. The dark blue is the unclaimed Drowned Kingdom of Yer-Ks.

    In the north the light green is Serpent and Christine's new Berserk kingdom.

    In the north east the brown denotes the Trow lands; the black, the Dire Marsh which no one really owns and the yellow is for the state of Gower.

    Finally in the south east are the lands currently claimed by the Dwarven Kingdom through they may not hold them for long.
     
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  11. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    The dwarves may have claimed all lands to the south, but how far do their patrols, installations and outposts actually reach? I can't imagine them owning much land to the southeast of Stoneheim.

    Who the hell are Skrael? We know we found one who spoke fir'Bolg, and that they had an alliance with us during the war, but that's pretty much it.

    What is known about the Dire Marsh? I know magic was involved in ruining the lands of the Barrier, but I still find it strange that a desert is neighbouring a swamp.

    By the way, is it known who and when devastated the land? Why didn't the druids from the north take part in its recovery? They are probably one of the few who can actually do it.

    Is there any information about any of the cities that ghols may have? They have to bring those captives somewhere. Do they even have cities? The dwarves have had 60 years of relative peace and air superiority - I can't believe those weren't scouted out.

    What are the 'relationships' between the dwarves and the Forest Giants? They are kind of sharing a border - maybe there are some agreements in place? Speaking of which, what kind of relationships the Giants have with everyone? Not much was heard from them since the first Great War.
     
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  12. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Not too far. At the height of the Kingdom their forts/patrols went about three days southeast of Stoneheim. General consensus was to focus on rebuilding rather than stirring up the 'hornets' nest'.

    A tribal confederation of vaguely reptilian looking creatures that inhabit the swamps north of the free cities. They had been known to raid human villages on occasion but signed up with the Light when the Fallen Lords pushed westward. They fought in the north during the Great War and have been quiet since then. For the most part they now keep to themselves.

    It is fed by the river Gjol which drains down from the Blind Steppes of the Maulish tribes, along the Trow and Gower border and into the marsh. It has existed since human prehistory but it likely is of magical origin as it occupies a very convenient location. It is a well know fact that Trow can not swim and that they do not build or use boats so the marsh (along with the Deep) acts as a great buffer between the Trow Kingdom of Rhi'anon and the Dunnish Berserks or Cath Bruig Empire.

    As an aside, every couple of winters however it get cold enough to allow the Trow to cross, either through the marsh or directly across the Deep which is usually how Trow manage to enter the 'lands of men'. There is a sizable community of Trow living in the Duns (essentially in the south east corner of Serpent and Christine's new kingdom) and they skirmish with the Berserks of the Duns on occasion. These battles, as often as not, take the form of great games (essentially capture the flag), the Trow have a natural advantage in these conflicts but it is against the nature of a Berserk to back down from a fight.

    Returning to the topic of the marsh when one considers who could be responsible for it only one name springs to mind, the Callieach. It is possible that during their wars with the Trow they sought to buy themselves time by cutting the Trow legions in half at the marsh. If this is true then that ambitious plan failed as the Trow still won that war. This is merely speculation though as no one has undertaken to investigate the marsh in written memory. It is marginal land, worth little for agriculture and it is infested with the undead; thralls, wights and soulless that became lost and trapped during the wars. It is also said that many of the Myrkridia that Soulblighter and the Summoner freed escaped to the marsh where they hide and breed in darkness, though such rumours have not been confirmed one way or the other. It is a place hostile to life and it serves as a shield against Trow aggression so most are quite content to leave well enough alone.

    Which devastation do you mean?

    Balor devastated the land and created the Barrier with magical fire. The Great Devoid was created by the Callieach at the end of their war with the Trow. The creators of the Dire Marsh and the Deep are unknown, in human legend it is said that a piece of the sun fell from the sky and burrowed into the earth. Wyrd then flooded the hole with the Northern Ocean and created the Deep and likely the Marsh as well. In academic circles though they are thought to be the work the Callieach and are simply earlier attempts by the race of mages to break the Trow aggressors. Finally the sinking of Yer-Ks is attributed to the Trow through some say that the giants were not directly responsible for the sinking of the kingdom.

    The druids have no reason to interfere. They protect their own and care little for the lands of other men. They also lack the mastery over weather required to 'terraform' the ruined parts of the Mythverse.

    Nothing but rumours. Some speak of a city of red sandstone carved into the very walls of a great canyon weeks to the east. Other claim a great metropolis of mud and clay exists far to the south, straddling a wide, slow river. Yet others tell of a massive tent city growing to the southeast but no credible source has been found to support any of these stories.

    As previously mentioned the dwarves tend to look inward (to their own political games) when not confronted by an imminent threat. Some have tried to venture further south or east but they have not retuned and none of the noble Houses see what they have to gain by sending out search parties. As long as 'their' lands are secure they have no need for more.

    The two groups have little contact and no formal agreements between them. The Cath Bruig handles all relations with the Giants and the dwarves are fine with that as the Forest Giants can be a bit temperamental.

    The Cath Bruig have a treaty with the Giants that allows for limited logging and the harvest of dead trees in exchange for certain metals and stones/gemstones that the Giants can not procure on their own.

    The terms of the contract are as follows:

    If you (meaning non Forest Giant) enter the Forest Heart without the permission of the Giants you will be escorted back out again. If you resist you will be killed.

    If you are caught logging without a permit or in excess of what you are allowed to harvest you will be killed.

    You are free to harvest dead/fallen trees without repercussion as long as you have a permit. If you do not have a permit you will be killed.

    No new roads are to be built within the confines of the forest without the permission of the Giants. Those caught building new roads without a permit will be killed.

    No structures are to be raised within the confines of the forest without the permission of the Giants. Those caught building new structures without a permit will be killed.

    The Cath Bruig is to provide a quantity of goods (foreign or domestic) equal to the value of wood harvested from the forest every year. The exact value is to be negotiated in advance for each year by Cath Bruig and Forest Giant agents. Payments are made quarterly. If a payment is not made on time then all logging operations must cease until the payment is delivered. Any Imperial agents (humans/dwarves/etc) caught logging during such a work stoppage will be imprisoned until the payment is received at which point they will be returned to their community/communities. Any 'freelancers' caught logging during such a work stoppage will be killed as usual.

    The Cath Bruig will also act in all ways reasonable to ensure the territorial integrity of the Forest Heart.

    In exchange the Forest Giants will commit forces to the defense of the Empire should a threat prove to be sufficiently great.


    The Giants enjoy a working relationship with the Cath Bruig and have agreed to let the Cath Bruig handle all negotiations with third parties so long as they do not violate any standing agreements written or verbal between the Giants and the Empire. As such they have no real relations with any of the other races/states in the Mythverse.
     
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  13. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    The update is about a third done. I will keep working on it in my moments of lucidity but it is slow going. Worst case scenario it will get posted in a few more days when I can actually focus enough to review the thing and make sure it actually makes sense.

    I can post just what happened and what your options are right now if you wish to keep things moving but I think it will work better as a proper update so unless there is a solid majority that want it now I am going to hold off till the middle of the week or so.
     
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  14. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    Sense? Just Louis Carroll that shit.
     
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  15. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    Uh, Fangshi doesn't happen to be from Sierra Leone?
     
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  16. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Thankfully not. The flu is more than enough, don't particularly want ebola as well.

    This is probably the worst cold I have had in five years though but I am recovering and the update has been making reasonable if unsteady process. I hesitate to give an actual estimation at the moment but it is almost done and barring any dramatic reversals in my health it should be up sometime within the next thirty hours I think... maybe... ah, the weekend at the very latest... I promise.

    To give you a bit of a teaser, at least one of the default choices for the next update will get part of your group killed, one of the choices might even get your entire party killed. The freeform option is available as usual though so all is not lost. ;)
     
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  17. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    To survive the Watcher's siege only to be killed on our first day off. Perfect.
     
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  18. Jester Arbiter

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    Heal up Fangshi. I hope you will get better soon. No pressure with update take your time.
     
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  19. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Chapter 55: A Small Misstep

    What to do? That really is the question.

    This may not be any of your business, Jan might really be running off to a meeting and you have a number of other tasks you could also be pursuing...

    But...

    Well you are a mage and an adventurer and he is acting awfully suspicious so...

    "Alright, I have a plan," you declare triumphantly.

    Thaïs smirks, already well aware of the general thrust of your thinking, "Whenever you are ready."

    The sisters nod enthusiastically, it is not in them to turn down a little adventure and tracking the dwarf through the bowels of the Academy is sure to provide some.

    Buoyed by their collective confidence and enthusiasm you begin, "We-"

    "We going to charge after him, headlong into danger with no concern for ourselves or the children in your care," Caoilainn chimes in, in a dry monotone, "Can't wait."

    You frown, "We aren't 'charging off', I have a plan-"

    She largely ignores your protest as she outlines the disadvantages you will be operating under, "We do not know the floor plan of the building. We have no way of knowing what sorts of dangers await us, and there will be dangers. Worst of all we have absolutely no expendable grunts with us to die when something goes wrong."

    "Nothing is going to 'go wrong'," your friend assures her, "We will manage as we always do."

    "And," you are quick to add, "We do not need to do this alone."

    "No?" the disembodied officer answers, he mood shifting for the better.

    "No," you insist, "We do not need to do this alone. Thaïs will go find Janine and get reinforcements while I trail Jan with the girls."

    "Wait, what?" Thaïs objects.

    Naturally she was never going to like the idea of leaving while the three of you creep closer to danger. You would expect the girls to have the exact same reaction, hell, you would have the exact same reaction. However, someone has to go for help and it only makes sense that it should be the most convincing representative possible. You tell her as much and rapidly add further assurances, "We will merely watch him, we won't actually do anything dangerous until you get back with help and we will use Uttu's arrows to leave a trail you can follow. We will be in no real danger."

    That was probably a lie.

    At the very least you can not guarantee it.

    And really she knows that.

    Hell, she probably knows that you know that she knows... if that makes any sense.

    At any rate, she plays along.

    "Very well," she hands you her two magazines of bolts, "Do not waste Uttu's arrows creating a trail. You might need them."

    She turns on her heels and makes for the stairs, pausing momentarily before she plunges into the stairwell, "I will be back as soon as I can."

    You give her a nod as she disappears.

    "Now what?" you ethereal observer enquires.

    "Now we pursue," the girls grin at that and the three of you are off.

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

    "Derryth, I have lost her," Caoilainn speaks as you catch your breath, she sounds weak in your mind.

    Jan is quick for a dwarf and it has taken all you have just to keep up with him to this point.

    "Lost who?" you whisper in response.

    "Thaïs," the officer answers, "That last flight of stairs, it- it split me."

    "Split you?" you are going to need a better explanation than that.

    "I-" your observer fumbles for the words to express her condition, "Since you split up, I could feel a pulling, a stretching sensation. Sort of like if you grabbed me by the arms and she grabbed me by the legs and you both pulled.

    "Is that normal?" you take in your surrounding.

    Cool, grey, stone walls, cool, grey, stone steps and the three of you perched on a small, grey, stone landing. The entire stairwell is bathed in a dim white light that mildly pains you, a dull ache behind the eyes. Behind you are the hallways leading to Jan's lab, to the stairs and ultimately back to the surface. Ahead of you is Jan and whatever horrors he may have at his command.

    The voice in your head grows weaker, "Yeah, the further you get from one another the harder it is to keep tabs on you both. Well, that last flight of stairs was it. I finally snapped."

    While her description of the sensation is a little enlightening it does nothing to help you understand the actual significance of the event, assuming the is any, so you prompt her for more, "Meaning?"

    "I don't know. It feels like half of me is gone but not dead or anything and it doesn't hurt either. I am still here and there and both and neither and these parts of me, they are-" she stops again, it is entirely possible that she simply does not have the means to express her ideas, " No. I don't know. I can't feel my other half, I don't know where it is or what its doing but I know it is there, somewhere. Does that make any sense?"

    You decide to be honest with her, "Not really, no."

    She laughs weakly.

    This is strange and you do not remember anything like this happening with Faceless either. Of course Faceless was an accomplished archmage with thousands of years of magical experience and near complete control over the bracelets, "Do you need us to turn back?"

    "No, no," she insists, "I will be fine, I think, I just won't be of much use to you for the time being."

    As much as you want to catch Jan you do not want to lose someone to do it. Still, if she says she is fine than you will push on for now, "Then we will keep going but if you experience any further weakness I expect you to tell me immediately. I did not haul you out of the Dreaming just to have you die down here, understood?"

    The is a little genuine warmth in her response, "Understood, thank you."

    Below you, you hear a door open.

    "Sounds like four, maybe five, levels below us," Biliku whispers.

    "Five, definitely," her sister agrees with a determined nod.

    Who are you to argue with your pair of trackers? They may be kids but they have spent almost their entire lives hunting and tracking underground. You give them a nod and follow as quickly as you can.

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

    That first stairwell was just the start. Five levels down, just as the girls guessed you found a clue, a witness and a guide.

    Standing just inside the doorway to the eighth floor is a dwarf that seems vaguely familiar to you. He stares at you, evidently the feeling is mutual, it takes him a moment but he figures out who you are, "Miss Derryth! A pleasure to see you again! How have my gloves been working for you?"

    Of course! It is the head naturalist from your first visit to the Academy. He is quick to grasp your hands and begins shaking them vigorously, "What can I do for you today!"

    Well, he can start by being quiet, "We are actually pursuing a party we suspect is acting against the interests of the Crown so if you could maybe give us-"

    "Really!" he seems quite taken aback by this revelation, "A traitor, operating under our very roof!"

    "Please sir, be quiet," you insist, slipping one hand free of his grasp.

    "Oh, right," he drops to a whisper, "Might you need any help apprehending this vile traitor?"

    "If you could tell us whether you have seen Jan lately and where he might have gone that would be appreciated," you respond as you scan the hallway beyond the dwarf.

    "Jan?" the naturalist whispers, "Jan is the traitor? No, no, no, now that I can not believe. That boy is loyal through and through."

    Admittedly you can not be certain that Jan actually is up to anything untoward, "Well if he is loyal then I will apologize to him when we find him but he was acting very strangely when we talked earlier today," you hand the dwarf your written permission to act on behalf of the King in all things.

    The naturalist frowns as he reads your permission and hands it back, "I can not believe that boy would do anything treasonous but I did see him and I do know where he is going, it is the only place he ever goes when he is not in his office. Sub basement twelve, where we store all of the items we come into possession of that are interesting but not terribly dangerous. If you want I can take you there immediately."

    "There is something off about this guy," Caoilainn cautions you. She still sounds weak but no weaker than earlier and you hope she is not keeping anything from you.

    "I know," you whisper in response.

    It is entirely possible that the head naturalist just happened to be down here at exactly the right moment. It is entirely possible that he is being completely honest with you as well. Entirely possible but highly suspicious and it is good to know that you are not the only one that thinks so however you can not really turn down the naturalist's help. He would insist, you would refuse and likely things would get heated. If he really is a well meaning loyalist then you will have offended a possible ally and if he is another cultist then it could lead to a direct confrontation that would nicely remove your chance of ever finding Jan.

    "Pardon me?" the naturalist shatters the silence of your thoughts.

    "Ah, I know," a shame you are not better at lying, "I know that you will be the best guide we could possibly ask for," not too bad all things considered.

    He grins and nods, "Well, right this way ladies."

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

    The naturalist leads you across the floor and explains the layout of the Academy as he goes, "You see ladies, sub basements one through seven all contain labs, archives and offices for 'low threat' experiments. The sort of research that might still be dangerous but is unlikely to wipe out the Kingdom in an afternoon for example. Sub basement eight which we are on is merely temporary housing for our researchers. Teams and individuals working on projects in the lower levels all stay in rooms on this floor. It lets them stay closer to their work and avoid going up and down all those stairs," he adds with a wink.

    As he leads you around the corner you are confronted by a wide chamber and eight burly dwarfs in full plate armour. Four man what look to be very large crossbows mounted upon thick tripods.

    "Scorpions," the naturalist declares in response to your questioning glance, "Some of the finest we have ever produced. Each fires bolts a metre long in rapid succession. If anything tries to crawl out of the stairwell it is in for a terrible surprise."

    Well it is reassuring that the dwarves have defences in place, it is also more than a little disconcerting that they have things down their that would need such weapons to contain.

    As your group cross the chamber the naturalist waves down a guard as he continues to instruct you in the Academy's defence protocols, "We also have three teams of twelve veterans in the adjoining chambers to ensure that containment is not broken," he turns to the approaching guard, "Did Doctor Jan come through today Captain?"

    "Yes, maybe fifteen minutes ago," the guardian answers with a yawn, "Now I need to know your names and destination."

    "Of course," the naturalist nods, "I am Doctor Hallr, this is Lady Derryth, and-"

    "Derryth! Mayer-" Caoilainn begins.

    You clear your throat and nod slightly to let her know that you understand as you cut in to mask your own surprise at his name, "Lady Biliku and Lady Uttu."

    The girls grin at such titles as the dwarf continues, "They are accompanying me to the twelfth floor on government business."

    The guardian records your information and allows the four of you to continue. Once more you slip into a grey stone stairwell and begin your descent.

    Hallr continues to play the part of the guide, "The ninth floor is for dangerous items, those that are not animate on their own but which can cause a great deal of harm if they ever fall into the wrong hands."

    You eye the door cautiously as you pass it, unlike the other doors you have encountered this one is cast of solid iron and bound by enchantments, without the proper spells it would take hours to break through. Probably a good thing when all is considered.

    You continue your descent, "The tenth floor is for the assorted sentient creations of the academy that are simply too dangerous to release into the wild."

    "Sentient creations?" you feel compelled to enquire.

    "Yes, well," he shifts uncomfortably, "Sometimes our brightest minds make deals that they should not or pursue avenues of inquiry best left unexplored. We, as an institution, are often left picking up the pieces of these failed experiments. The occupants of floor ten are not treated cruelly and we do our best to find quick and humane ends for all those that suffer but they can not be allowed to run free. Not because they necessarily wish to do harm but rather because they can be easily and readily used to cause harm. The same can not be said for the occupants of floor eleven."

    The door, or rather doors, to floor eleven are the most heavily warded that you have yet encountered, "The occupants of floor eleven are malicious to their very core," Hallr shivers slightly as he presses on, "They are things that should never have entered our world and if we had it in our power to do so we would end their lives. Thankfully that floor has but a few occupants."

    He leads you deeper to the bottom of the stairwell. The door to the twelfth floor is made of simple wood, there are no enchantments on it and he pays it little mind. Instead he begins searching the far wall, tapping at a cluster of brick a metre off the ground and half a metre from the left, "In truth, Derryth, the twelfth floor holds nothing of value. It connects to a shallow cave filled with old crates of junk and an underground spring. I have been told that the spring flows from the nearby mountains and that one could, in theory, swim out that way. Provided you could hold your breath for a few hours," he laughs, "And provided that the guardians did not kill you."

    "Guardians?" Uttu nervously asks.

    "Legends," the dwarf waves a hand dismissively, "Some say that dwarf-like creatures live deep under the city but no one has seen them and the last recorded claim of their existence is over two hundred years old. It was just a joke child, nothing more."

    "Ah here we go," he presses in a brick and the wall slides away, "This way please."

    He leads you down one final flight of stair and stops in front of a heavy black stone door. Splashed across its surface is what appears to be blood and it has a single flawless enchantment etched on its surface in the form of a silver web, "This is the oldest chamber in the entire academy and it is warded by the oldest magic as well. I will ask that you not tell others about what you are about to see. There is but one way to gain entry to this chamber, one needs to believe."

    He draws a knife from his belt and you tense, readying a spell. He draws the blade across his hand and smears the blood across the door as he hisses and clicks.

    "He is praying," Biliku whispers to you, "He is asking the Goddess to reveal her knowledge and show him the true path."

    Well, you are definitely getting results even if it is not what you imagined when you set out. Hallr is leading you right to where you want to go though you will have to be ready to deal with him quickly when necessary as it is now clear that he is, in fact, a cultist.

    As you watch him chant you begin to notice that under his words a spell is forming. It takes you a few minutes to figure out what he is doing, he is unlocking the door with this spell and it seems to have little to do with the words he is speaking or even the blood on the door. If you had to guess you would say that this whole ritual is nothing but a bit of theatre with the spell actually driving the action. In fact, you could probably do it yourself if given a little time and practice.

    The door creaks and swings open on its hinges. He steps through, his back to you and his arms spread out before him, "Ladies I give to your the first! The oldest! The greatest temple to the Goddess in the entire-"

    Biliku cracks him once over the back of the head with the hilt of her blade as you and Uttu watch in stunned silence.

    "What?" she shrugs, "We were going to have to knock him out eventually."

    Well, she did have the right idea, "Good swing kid but it might have been wise to let him lead us all the way to Jan first," you reply with a laugh as you set to tying up the dwarf.

    You bind his wrists and ankles together. You gag him and bind his fingers together. Then you slip your staff under the bindings and give one end to Biliku and Uttu. They can carry the dwarf the rest of the way.

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

    The temple is magnificent in its dark beauty. Black marble with the odd piece of gold trim. A single vaulted chamber ringed round by smaller cells and above them on the long, high walls and the great domed roof is a single spectacular mosaic. Gemstones, gold, glass and painted rock, together they form a dazzling series of images. The story of the Goddess' faith. It is a story you have heard many times already. The Goddess battles the Swimmer, she traps him, entangles him and hangs him high in the sky to die. From his corpse she creates the world, time and all of existence. Her followers grow and learn. They learn of her existence and all that she has done for them and they serve her, follower her and worship her. It is not an accurate story. Nor is it a true story but here, in her temple, surrounded by the indescribably beauty of the place and a work that must have taken dozen, perhaps hundreds, of hands and years to complete, here, you can see why some do.

    It is the girls that draw your attention to the main feature of the temple, pointing and pulling on your sleeves as they do. In the center of the sunken basin that constitutes the main hall of the temple stands a grand statue in the shape of a stunning dwarven woman, skin of solid obsidian, eyes of cut rubies and a pair of great ivory fangs poking out over her full lips. It is a magnificent work though personally you prefer the mosaic.

    Below her is an altar.

    Below that, a tomb and it is open.

    Beside the tomb, your dwarf.

    Jan spots you as soon as you seen him. He yelps and dives behind the altar.

    "Jan!" you call to him, "Jan come out this instant!"

    "No!" he yells in response as you descend into the central chamber and approach the altar. As the last of your group steps off the bottom stair the door you entered by swings shut behind you. Some sort of timed mechanism perhaps or a spring in the stair. You have seen similar mechanisms in temples all across the lands. You might even be trapped in here but one problem at a time. First you deal with the dwarf, then you can try to leave.

    "Don't come any closer!" the dwarf yells, "I- I have the spearhead and if you try anything I- I will destroy it!"

    Now what is he going on about?

    You might as well try to talk him down though you know what the likely outcome of that will be, "Jan, I have no idea what you are talking about! Come out into the open and we will talk about this! We just want to know what you are doing!"

    "To hell you do!" the dwarf yells, "You're cultists! You serve that blasted Goddess and you are after the spear! Well you- ah, you will have to go through me to get it! This is part of our Kingdom's history! It belongs in a museum where it can be studied and not with a bunch of fanatics!"

    Wait? He thinks you are cultists?

    "Jan we are not cultists!" well technically the girls were cultists but even you know better than to say that.

    "Right! And I am a Fallen Lord," the dwarf spits back, "You have told me far too much to play stupid now!"

    "What are you talking about!" now you are genuinely confused.

    "Miosguinn!" the dwarf yells, "I am the foremost scholar in my field! You do not think that I have not heard what happened to the doctor! He went into he ruins under Muirthemne, looking for information on the Smiths and their cult, and he was murdered by his own employer! Murdered by you!"

    Well, technically by Bari, you just helped...

    "That is not true! Miosguinn was a cultist and-" sadly he does not let you finish.

    "Right, he was the cultist! He was a seeker of truth in a dangerous world and a man I have corresponded with for over a decade. You know him for less than three months and he 'falls', very convenient! About as convenient as showing up with a pair of children that can read a supposedly dead language! No, you are cultists, you killed Doctor Miosguinn and now you are going to kill me to get your damned artefact."

    "I'll kill you if you don't stop slandering me," you mutter.

    "What was that?" he shouts.

    "I said, would it kill you to stop slandering me?" you reply.

    "Not slander if its the truth!" he hollers mockingly.

    "Well what about you!" you lose your temper a little, "You go racing off to a 'meeting' but instead we find you in a temple to the very Goddess you claim to oppose in possession of some sort of artefact sacred to her! Hell you even left Hallr here," you step back and grab the unconscious dwarf by the hair, "To lead us down here! What was the plan? Was he supposed to set off some sort of trap? Maybe give you a warning so that you could dispose of us together."

    "Hallr?" Jan pokes his head up over the altar, "I have no idea what you are talking about! As for the rest I left in a hurry because I knew that you cultists would make for the spear now that you have the combination to the tomb! You merely confirmed my suspicions by arriving so quickly!"

    You are no diplomat and Jan's mind seems to be made up. If you want to take him in you will likely have to incapacitate him. If you believe him though it might be wise just to let him leave with this spearhead, whatever it is.

    The question is what to do, you-

    "Derryth, the bracelet-" Caoilainn begins.

    "Here is what you are going to do dwarf!" a voice interrupts your thoughts as the door to the temple once more swings open and eight figures file in.

    Good timing, Thaïs must have succeeded in bringing help.

    Your eyes light upon her and for a brief moment you smile. Then you notice the expression on her face, the blade pressed to her throat and the man holding it.

    "Rand!" you tense at the sight of the man, "What the hell-"

    "Not Rand and not now," he dismisses you with a sneer, "Dwarf, I want that spearhead!"

    "Who the hell are you!" Jan calls out.

    "A loyal follower of the Goddess and a protector of her artefacts," he calls in response.

    "Well if you come any closer I will destroy the spearhead!" the researcher give this 'not-Rand' the same response he gave you.

    "If you do that I will kill you and all these other people as well," he calmly replies, "You don't want their blood on your hands do you?"

    "What- what do I care for cultists killing cultists?" he does his best to bluff in response but it is clear to all that it would bother him.

    "They are not cultists, dwarf! In fact, I would say there are few that our Goddess would love more to see dead," you have been observing this 'not-Rand' and he is right. He does not have the same slippery air to him and there is a cruelty in his bearing that the Rand you know does not display. If you had to guess you would say that the man before you was one of the men that escorted Rand away from Blackrock.

    "I-" Jan tries to stammer a response.

    "Look," the Rand clone cuts him off, "This is quite simple. You give me the spearhead. I give you back my hostage. You get to save one of the 'Heroes' of the Kingdom and I get to recover an artefact of great, cultural, importance to my people. Or, you destroy the spearhead and I slaughter you all and no one gets what they want."

    "Where is Janine?" you interrupt their negotiation while Jan dithers.

    "Dead," the pseudo Rand replies.

    "Bastard," you spit at him.

    He laughs, "You misunderstand. Janine, much like dear Hallr, there was a loyal follower of the Goddess. I did not kill her. Your friend did," he positively grins, "She really is quite a good shot even with only a single magazine for her crossbow. Dropped Janine within the first minute of our little scuffle. Really you are lucky that I am the one they sent this time. If she had pulled that in front of my brother he would have broke her neck on the spot."

    Jan remains silent behind the altar.

    You do not like the idea of waiting on the dwarf when Thaïs' life is on the line. Maybe you can strike another sort of deal, "What if I trade you Hallr for Thaïs."

    "No," he answers all too quickly, "Hallr knows nothing but what I tell him and he is worth nothing. Hell, he believes the Goddess is merely an allegory for the dwarven transition from underground fishermen to farmers, he is a good preacher but he is no soldier. Kill him, torture him, do what you want with him, he means nothing to me."

    Jan finally speaks, "What guarantee do I have that you will let us go once you have the spearhead?"

    "You have my word," Jan laughs at this, you can't help but laugh a little as well. Your stomach turns.

    You ask the next obvious question, "Why should we believe in your 'word'?"

    "Well," he begins with a sinister smile, "It is the only way your friend lives through this. Hell, it is the only way any of you will live through this. But, if that is not good enough then how about this? There are several armies to the south and most of them would see the Kingdom reduced to ruin. My Goddess does not want that, the dwarves were her first followers and if she can, she will save them by whatever means necessary, even if it means letting you live for now. How is that for a reason?"

    "So she will defend the dwarves out of loyalty?" the idea sounds ludicrous to you.

    "Not loyalty but yes, she will defend them," he replies without further elaboration.

    You glance over to the altar and catch Jan staring at you. He is terrified and confused, maybe you could convince him to hand over the spearhead, or maybe you can come up with some other way out of this situation.


    1. What to do?

    A) Convince Jan to give the spearhead to the Rand clone.

    i. Verbally convince him to hand over the spearhead. You can't beat the clone at the moment so you will just have to trust him to keep his word. Hopefully you can convince Jan of this fact.

    ii. Use your mentalist spells to make him hand over the spearhead. You are not good at convincing others but you could always try to subtlety alter his thoughts. If he notices what you are doing however he may react in an unfortunate manner.

    iii. freeform

    B) Attack the cultists. Admittedly you are outnumbered and it is likely that at least some of the cultists are mages of some sort or another but you might be able to pull this off.

    i. You open with Warrior's Mask on Thaïs. Hopefully this Rand clone is not a mage and won't be able to detect your casting till it is too late. She might be able to break free if the Rand clone is not too strong and once clear of the group you can open up on them with more powerful spells.

    ii. You open with Mentalist spells targeting Rand. You need to get him to lower that blade before you risk doing anything else and mentalist spells are by far the quickest tools in your arsenal.

    iii. You do not try to protect Thaïs. You have mandrake roots and a ring with a stored heal spell as long as she is not dead you will be able to heal her after you have dealt with the cultists. Of course if she is killed then there is nothing you can do.

    iv. freeform

    C) You wait. You think Jan will hand the spearhead over and you think that the cultists will keep their promise. Interfering right now would just make matters worse.

    D) You pretend to go along with their demands, then attack them when they least expect it.

    E) Threaten Rand with a Greater Energy Bolt (stored in your ring), while he thinks you are casting the spell cast the Warrior's Mask to shield Thaïs instead.

    F) Use Caoilainn to negotiate with Rand in order to secure the spearhead. You will negotiate in good faith.

    G) PRAY to Mazzarin for help

    H) freeform
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
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  20. Fangshi Arcane

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

    Party Changes:


    Show Spoiler
    Derryth:

    Items gained:

    1. Two magazines of crossbow bolts

    Items lost:

    1. Two magazines of crossbow bolts used to make a trail

    Thaïs:

    Items lost:

    1. Two magazines of crossbow bolts


    Organizational Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    None that you know of for now.


    Rolls:

    Show Spoiler
    So essentially each of the 'main characters' had a separate set of rolls for this update. Derryth and the girls while they pursued Jan and Thaïs while she went to find help and deal with the consequences of said 'help'.

    I will begin with Derryth.

    You had a number of tracking rolls in this update to keep up with Jan but he had a decent head start, he knew the layout of the building and you didn't and there was no easy way for you to trail him. If you had lost him before the stairs then you would not have made it to the temple in time for the negotiation that is now playing out.

    However you rolled fairly well here (or rather Biliku and Uttu rolled fairly well) and that allowed you to just keep up with him using a combination of very keen eyesight and listening for his movements through the empty halls.

    Once you reached the stairs things were a bit different. Hallr would always be at the doorway on the eighth floor if you failed your check to determine which floor Jan had entered then I would have simply rolled to see which one Derryth chose. If you got it wrong then you would have missed the scene that is currently playing out in the temple but again this check like the tracking checks was very manageable and with three people taking it, it was quite likely to succeed.

    I obviously can not get into why Hallr was on the eight floor, you can ask him if you both live through this.

    Once with Hallr your group did not have any further rolls until you got to the temple.

    Biliku had a moderately difficult roll to sneak up to and knock out Hallr. If she had failed to sneak up to him then Derryth would have held her back for a bit and if she had failed to knock him out things would have gotten a bit interesting. She was more likely to succeed at the task than fail though given her stats and background relative to her target.

    Once you reached Jan you had a number of social checks and Derryth, being Derryth, failed every single one of them. If you had succeeded you could have found out what exactly the spearhead is, what it is believed to do, or even how to destroy it. You could also have likely convinced Jan to come out from his hiding spot. If you had done perfectly you would even have made it most of the way back to the stairs by the time you ran into 'not-Rand's' group which might have made things better or worse depending on how you approach the situation.

    Thaïs for her part had a number of easy social rolls. Janine was more than willing to help locate Jan and she easily convinced a few 'friends' to help out. Unfortunately she was a cultist. Naturally I can not get into the details yet as Derryth has no way to know them and if Thaïs is killed here there will be no easy way to ever find out what happened but the cultists arrived in force and captured Thaïs while she managed to kill Janine with her crossbow. Thaïs rolled very well for that combat and if 'not-Rand' had not rolled just slightly better she might have even managed to escape.

    If you want more details you can ask her should you both survive.

    Around the Kingdom more rolls were made by your other parties, by Nanshe, the Thin White Mage, Mazzarin, some of the dwarves with the Southern Army, and a variety of other characters you would not know about yet.

    And that should be it.

    Oh, one final thing, Gareth and Brigit had an immensely important roll and they rolled very well. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
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  21. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Thanks for the kind words, mostly better now though the right side of my head is still bothering me.

    Won't stop me from torturing the characters some more though. :lol: :salute:
     
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  22. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,063
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Well, fuck.

    We were specifically told not to trust Rand or that he will fuck us over. I can only assume that holds true for his servants/brothers/what-have-you as well. The only reason they took a hostage and have not slaughtered us all yet is probably because they are afraid of something.

    All I want is to have Thais back. I don't care about the spear. However, I see no clean way to do this.

    We are in the possession of two mandrake roots and a Heal spell for ourselves, and Thais has her own spell ring with Heal stored. Given that we've seen a Heron Guard survive a sword to the heart, I guess a single healing spell can counteract a mortal wound - and she would be able to heal herself without our help.

    If we do battle, though, I suggest opening with the Warrior's Mask followed by an immediate Greater Energy Bolt from the spell ring on the whole group. Thais is going to be protected from electricity, and the spell will devastate everyone who isn't. Why wait until she is clear of the group if you can blast them right away - and they do not expect you to, since she is a valuable hostage.

    They probably don't expect you to cast two spells simultaneously, either.

    Once the Warrior's Mask is cast, I imagine the rest will get considerably easier. There are seven of them, and four to five of us, and I guess the lightning may even skew the numbers in our favor.

    Unless someone comes up with a negotiation plan, this is going to be my go-to strategy. Then again, they are mages. We might not get the spell off.

    A way to talk him into lowering the blade would be nice. We need him to believe - even if they detect the spell we are casting - that it is not aimed at them or against them. In a way, it isn't. Or that we are readying it as a precaution to see the negotiations conducted 'fairly'.

    We need to make them think we are ready to negotiate. Waiting for suggestions here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
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  23. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    11,063
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Hm. Thais is conscious, and the bracelets are still on her. Can we - theoretically - whisper our plan to Caoilainn and bring her up to speed? I am sure people would be much less likely to do rash things if she is the one handling the negotiations. Admittedly, it is a bit strange for a hostage to conduct a trade, but I trust her choice of words more than ours. We can even ask her to plead with us for her life and make a small production out of it - if only to make her captors think they have us on the ropes (which they do, but still).

    Ask the cultists to let her speak. It is not dangerous in itself, and she is their best hope to see the trade conducted peacefully as well. On her part, she has a vested interest in that, too, so they would have a reason to believe she is acting in good faith.

    If they detect us casting a spell, have her convince them it is meant for Jan. She would not want to die, so she would not lie about it.

    It is not an attack spell, hell, it is not a widely known spell, even, so it would not be that hard to believe it is not harmful to them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
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  24. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Yes, though the more you try to send the more likely someone is to notice you whispering.

    Keep in mind that if Jan finds out you are casting at him or that you either intend or 'intend' to cast at him he is likely to do something though you can not say what.
     
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  25. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    11,063
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    All right. Back to the drawing board.

    We can mutter a few things under our breath, and I think the situation warrants a bit of expletives to describe it fully, so it would not seem out of place. I would suggest the message to be short - we do not use many words to communicate with her anyway. Something along the lines of "get all of them to cooperate and lower the weapons, give me an excuse to cast, and try to get them to bunch up - it is Thunder Colossus time... FINE! WE SHALL DO AS YOU SAY!"

    We should let Thais talk. There is no reason for us all not to get what we want. We would like Thais back, Thais would like to live, they would like the spearhead, and Jan would probably prefer that an ancient artefact survived. Sure, it may belong to the museum, but if he gives it away now, it can be returned at a later date, while destroying it is a one-way road. Surely no explorer would be so barbaric as to destroy the object of their research? Try to get to his senses as a scientist as well as one of a human (well, dwarven) being. After all, it is his misconception that have landed all of us here.

    While she works her magic on Jan, she should also try to influence the cultists. When the object of their desires is almost within their grasp, surely they can make a few concessions to ascertain the success of the negotiations? Nobody wants things to get out of hand because of a misunderstanding. What would convince Jan better to leave the spearhead be if not a show of good will? They do intend to let us and Jan go, yes? Otherwise, what would be the point in complying with their requests?

    Naturally, taking the words of a cultist who serves the Goddess of traps, deception and lies at face value would be beyond dumb.

    Now, it would be good if he believed she isn't just talking out of fear for herself, but out of concern for all of us. So would they mind not holding the blade that close to her neck? She is not the one who needs convincing with force - hell, Derryth is not the one who needs convincing either, it's Jan - and threats to us are not very meaningful to him. It would work better if it looked like she is speaking of her own volition rather than because of a blade held to her throat. It's not like she is going anywhere until the trade is conducted, and a threat of violence only makes Jan more apprehensive about whether or not they will keep their word.

    The cultists want the artefact badly, that much is certain. I don't think they even would have left us with options otherwise. Well, we just need to make it look like they will get what they want if only they listen to us. We all need to avoid rash moves unless we want to reach a conclusion that would not satisfy anyone, yes?

    Then we need to establish a trading procedure. All bullshit, probably, as we do not intend to go through with the plan, but it would be nice to get them to do things according to our instructions and believe there is a purpose beneficial to them behind it. I don't know much about hostage trading to base my plans on, but if we believe the movies, it involves two groups standing on the opposite sides of a place intended for a trade. Maybe that's how we get them to bunch up. During our battles with the Watcher's forces we managed to drop several enemies with one spell, so try to position the cultists in an appropriate spot.

    I have no idea what the actual procedure would include, but Thais needs to come up with an excuse for us to cast a spell as a part of it. I don't know how to go about it, though. A darkness spell that would conceal the involved parties once the cultists confirm they have the spearhead - to make the combat impossible after everyone gets what they want? Or some other bullshit 'safeguard' like that? The point is, they need to know it is a part of the plan and that it is not directly harmful to them - and that would certainly be true. After all, if we wanted to blast them away, why would we go through the painstaking process of convincing them and Jan to work together? Clearly we do not want Thais hurt and would not attack them? They need to know they are in control.

    The spell itself is a very unusual one and is not likely to be recognized until it takes effect. Once it goes off, it would be up to the dice, but I think that way of doing things might carry a good 'surprise, motherfuckers!' bonus with it.

    It would be beautiful if Caoilainn relayed to us things the cultists would be talking about between themselves. She can hear everything Thais hears, right? We might be able to adjust the plan based on that information.


    I am now pondering if I want to make Biliku a part of the game. The fact her scabbard hides the sword and makes her appear unarmed might come into play here. We can choose two members out of our respective groups to oversee the procedure (while the rest of us stay where they are) and confirm that everything is done clean. Make Biliku drop her knife (but not the sword) for everyone to see and request that one of the cultists came unarmed as well. And no fucking tricks. They can handle an unarmed 14 year old girl, can they?

    The point would be to lull them into a false sense of security by giving them another 'leverage' over us in addition to Thais. It would be an act of 'goodwill' on our part and a pledge of good conduct. Naturally, Biliku is capable of going toe-to-toe with master fighters like late Jori and she would be armed (not to mention a month she spent with Berty Levi - a called shot to the nuts isn't out of question), but they do not need to know that. All they will see is a kid observer.

    When the shit goes down, she will have to cut her 'escort' in half. It would be one less cultist for us to deal with, and I can't come up with a plan that would get her in close range safely to make a difference in combat with the rest of them. That might be her chance to participate. Then again, these plans of mine have a tendency to backfire. :lol:

    Sooo... feedback?

    The short version:
    - Slip a message to Thais via the bracelets of what needs be done.
    - Have Thais make Jan cooperate and agree to trade the artefact. Call to both his emotions and senses as a scientist.
    - Have Thais calm the cultists down and make them less twitchy.
    - Come up with a trading procedure. Biliku and one of the cultists will go to retrieve the artefact from Jan while the rest of them stand somewhere we can see them (and hopefully, somewhere we can catch most of them with our spell).
    - Come up with an excuse to cast a spell as a part of the procedure. When negotiations are that far, no one wants them to break down because of a misunderstanding. If we wanted to fight, we would not have needed such a convoluted scheme, and Thais would not approve of any plan that would involve her dying, right?
    - Calm cast the Warrior's Mask at Thais and immediately follow that up with the Great Energy Bolt from the ring. Biliku cuts down the cultist escorting her while Uttu tries to blind with a flash those who weren't shocked to death and then peppers them with frost arrows.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
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