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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Didn't Letta intend to use one of the safehouses as her headquarters? What is wrong with Astrid's?

    I would not want to pressure her into it if she is against it, but really, watching an unconscious Bari is not the healthiest use of her time. Besides, the sooner the situation in the kingdom is resolved, the sooner we can get back to fixing him.

    Actually, I also want to leave her notes on the healing ritual if we, ah, fail to return. At least that way she would have a guarantee of his eventual restoration and something to look forward to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
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  2. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    There is nothing wrong with it. It would distract Astrid though, though that might be good for her too, hard to say really.

    Sure, if you want to write down the Greater Heal ritual and give a copy to Astrid you can do that. As long as you do not mind that spell potentially spreading that is. :smug:
     
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  3. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Yeah, what I meant is that if she wants to stay at the safehouse with Bari, she can stay, but I feel she needs something else to do, too.

    Having other people around to talk to would not be bad, either.

    If we die, I could not care less what happens to the spell.

    Besides, Astrid alone would not be able to find the resourses nor the mages that would be able to cast it outside of our circle in Muirthemne. Just give her the notes and tell her to seek out Gareth and Brigit if something happens to us.
     
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  4. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    I am going to close the vote now.

    1.B wins, you will go to see the Seekers.

    2.Aiii wins, tonight you will unleash Berty on the Weasels... those poor bastards...

    The update should be out within twenty four hours, hopefully.



    Edit:

    The update is about half done but it is running long given the number of people you are meeting. Honestly I thought you would just go shopping for equipment (to address your serious lack of armour and supplies) and I could give you a short scene (serves me right for assuming, I guess :lol:).

    I will either cut some of the planned content (Berty's scenes for example since technically you are not actually there to see them) and post it soon or I will put in the time to flesh it all out more.

    So it will either be up in the next hour or two, in a shorter form, or it will be up sometime tomorrow as I won't have much more time to work on it tonight.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
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  5. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Hm... It was mentioned earlier that we never tried breaking and reassembling minds before:
    But I remember this scene in Berandal:
    Does this particular episode not count? If so, why?
     
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  6. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    What you did in Berandal certainly was a form of torture but you were more restrained with the guard than you would be with Wenzel. The guard you wore down without actually breaking, that allowed you to influence him enough to get him to do what you want. It was certainly exhausting for your target but all he needed was a good, long rest and he would eventually recover.

    It is unlikely that such a method would work on Wenzel given his defenses and the fact that you want to extract a fair amount of actual information from him. You would either have to bypass his defenses (with, let's say, an infiltration spell) or you would have to smash everything and forcibly extract the information you require. If you shatter his mind in that way you would then have to piece him back together (his mind would not be able to repair itself, at least not in the short to mid term) which you have not done before to the best of my recollection.

    So in essence it would be two different procedures and though I did use similar language for both they would be fairly different in requirements and effects.


    The update is almost done, I just need to sort through the options and finish the last three or four scenes. I hope it will be up before the end of the weekend but just a note of warning, it is another long one (hopefully it will not hit thirty pages...).
     
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  7. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    I've been thinking about our relationship with Morpheus and the Dreaming lately.

    So far, there have been two kinds of people I would want to send to the Dreaming. The ones we want killed or otherwise disappeared from our lives, and the ones we would like to retrieve one day.

    The first category includes necromancers, renegades, traitors, cultists like Rand or Oneiroi mages, and the like. Those that are too dangerous or bothersome to keep in Pathfinder prisons.

    The second category includes people who are sent there for therapy, education, disciplinary action or just for survival (say, if we find ourselves unable to heal a mortally wounded party member, we might just send them to the Dreaming to save them). We might want to get these people back eventually, and that means that we would need to trade.

    Which brings me to the following point. Can we open an 'account' with Morpheus? We have already seen how much different people are worth to him, why not make it canon? That way, we would be able to afford and maintain an 'exchange fund'.

    Throw in two of the surviving Oneiroi mages without claiming a favor, and you can move people like Hallr and Wenzel (and maybe even some of our characters) in and out of the Dreaming at your leisure.

    We might even go a step further and ask Morphy for a price-list on his favors. For example, we already know that TWM is worth roughly 2000 IPs, and that is the cost of teaching us musical magic or the Nightmare that allows a degree of control over the Dreaming. That way we would be able to change 'a person for a favor' scheme that we've been using so far into a barter system with IPs as money equivalent.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
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  8. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    I think that can probably be arranged. There might be a little 'market volatility' though and prices will change over time...

    I will add that information to the Organizational overview in IPs, but first the update. I should have it finished this evening when my schedule clears up (fourteen hours or so at the most).

    Edit:

    Still editing and writing the update so I really doubt it will be done tonight, I will see what I can do and it will be close but if it is not up in the next hour and a half it will have to get pushed back again until I have time to finish the last scene and add the options.

    (Yeah it is going to be one of those updates like 'The Second Coming' only likely with more options to play around with. Another one that it might be best to read in segments.)

    :negative:


    Also, since this one has been so horribly delayed I think I am just going to go ahead and post the Nanshe v. TWM Interlude on the weekend as well, as we should be at the right point for it by then. With any luck this will be a three update week.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
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  9. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Alright, I have some more time to work on the update and I should actually be able to finish it in the next four hours or so (I just have all the options to add/check and I should give the monstrosity a few passes to make sure it is at least readable and that all the information is correct.).

    Unless you have a lot of patience or time I would not recommend reading it all in one go.

    I am also going to aim for a second update some time towards the end of the week, maybe in seventy two to ninety six hours so the voting for this update will likely close in fifty or sixty hours.

    The Interlude should then go up on the weekend as a bit of a break from Derry & Co.'s current adventures.


    Edit:

    Alright, it is all typed out and pared down a bit as well though it is still quite long. I want to give it a couple passes for basic readability and do some formatting but after that I will post it. I would say another hour, three at the most.

    The mechanics update, including all of the many, many rolls will likely not be up until tomorrow and the changes to the organization/character sheets will come some time after that.


    Edit2:

    I am going to post the update now as at this point I find I am simply reading what I think I wrote instead of what is actually there. If you notice any errors, and I am sure there are many, feel free to let me know. I will give it another look when I have a moment and a fresh pair of eyes. The mechanics update will not get posted for twelve hours or so since I do not have time to work on it at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  10. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    That is assuming we don't get everybody killed before then. ;)
     
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  11. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Chapter 60: Power Obscured

    "Why isn't he doing anything?" Caoilainn whispers carefully. Once more forgetting that no one can hear her but you and your partner.

    You don't really blame her for the lapse though, the old man before you is most definitely unsettling and a quick glance to Thaïs is all you need to confirm your feelings, she gives you a weak smile as her eyes catch yours for just a moment. This man is the Old Man in the Mountain and it is him that you have come to see.

    He sits rigidly, a half dozen metres from the pair of you, on a raised dais surrounded by nine braziers. The flames dance around him, casting deep and shifting shadows across the mage and onto the walls of the cylindrical chamber.

    You whisper your response to your officer, "He can't, weren't you paying attention when they explained this?"

    "Ah..." she begins, embarrassment creeping into her voice, "It was all dull mage stuff so I sort of drifted off..."

    Thaïs lightly chides your disembodied officer, "Well this 'mage stuff' might help you learn to better control your own abilities, you should-"

    "I know, I know," Caoilainn cuts her off with a grunt, "I should make the most of the opportunities presented to me, but you are going to have to excuse me if..."

    You do your best to tune her out as you focus on the ritual before you. Despite your best efforts though, your mind begins to wander...

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

    Three hours ago you arrived at the Seekers' 'compound' on the outskirts of the city.

    It is a rather unimpressive building all things considered, a squat, single story structure made of baked clay bricks.

    There are no demon guards, no magical locks, no sorcerers' towers, hell, if you did not know that the building belonged to the Seekers you likely would have past over it completely. On some level you find it disappointing but you are quick to grasp the importance of its dull exterior. Above all else mages love their privacy, their secrecy, so it does not surprise you to find the Seekers attempting to cast off the appearance of power in an attempt to solidify their grasp on the reality of the thing. You have no intention of being fooled though, dangerous and useful minds can hide behind the most unassuming of exteriors.

    Striding toward the heavy iron bound doors of the building your theory is quickly confirmed. No sooner have you struck the door, three rapid blows as you shout hello, than a pair of robed figures slip around the side of the building to greet you.

    You make a few quick attempts to identify yourself and your companions: your partner, the girls and your forty dwarf escort. A forty dwarf escort dressed from head to toe in thick plate; a 'precaution', your new Captain reminds you. Personally you think she is overreacting, how much trouble could you possible get into here anyway?

    Your words are not needed however, the robbed figures simply wave your explanations away and motion for you to follow. Clad as they are in thick wool robes you can not make out a single detail about them, you can not even confirm their identities as the ones you seek, at least not without assaulting them mentally or physically; a poor way to start a business arrangement to be sure. Your paranoia flares up at this realization, this could well be a trap, maybe the Captain was right to request extra armour for her men? Suddenly you feel rather naked without any real armour to speak of but you banish that thought from your mind, everything will go fine, you just need to have a little faith...

    You, and your entire company, follow the pair. First they circle the building to a side entrance and knock five times in rapid succession. The side door slides open and your pair of silent guides dive into the darkness with but the barest of glances back to ensure you have not managed to get lost.

    With few options available to you and a desire to meet someone willing or capable of conversing with you, you lead the group in after them.

    So begins your trip through the dark, through winding corridors and twisting passages, you follow your quiet hosts for at least an hour.

    They lead you deep into the earth and far from the surface compound, if you had to guess you are now somewhere in the foothills surrounding the city of Mygard.

    Following your long, mute and lightless journey the pair lead you into another set of tunnels, ones that are well lit and well used. This, then, is the actual stronghold of the Seekers, safe from all but the best trackers. It is at this point that your guides finally feel comfortable enough to lower their hoods and for the first time you are able to snatch a clear view of them. Their heads shaved and tattooed, they simply smile at you and point deeper into the compound. All attempts to question them meet with failure and so you take the only clear path left to you. You wave your soldiers forward as your party winds its way into the very heart of the compound.

    It does not take you long to find new guides, ones that prove far more talkative. Another pair, one man and one woman, their heads also shaved, their bodies stripped to the waist and every exposed area of their flesh covered in scars and ink. At first you think them merely unlucky but as you examine their markings more closely a pattern begins to emerge.

    The older of the pair, the man, has thirty two clean, straight, scars across his chest in three careful rows; on his left arm, five crosses, dabbed in red; on his right, seven circles, all in blue. You quickly surmise that the marking must be some sort of tally, of deeds perhaps, though it is impossible to say exactly what sort of deeds without further evidence. This open admission of ignorance does not prevent some dark little part of you from suggesting murder, cannibalism or worse, a little paranoid perhaps but not unreasonably so given the situation.

    At the edge of your vision you can see Thaïs' mind working, likely drawing the same conclusions you have and the two of you move together, four eyes taking in the form of the younger Seeker. The patterns carved into her body reinforce your theory, twenty nine cuts running across her chest, seven crosses on her left arm and five circles on her right; definitely some sort of tally.

    As you consider the pair in silence your escort maintains a tight watch on your persons and the surroundings. A few shift nervously and finger the hilts of their blades but the Captain, holds them in check.

    The presence of such a sizable group slowly but surely draws a large crowd. Men and women, young and old, some little more than children, crowd round the edges of your vision. Each dressed in similar robes, stripped to the waist and covered in markings and ink but a quick survey of the gathering crowd reveal none with more tally marks than the two before you.

    They must be the leaders then, though neither of them really looks old enough to be the 'Old Man in the Mountain'. Well it might just be a title, no reason to assume-

    The older of the pair speaks, "Ladies Thaïs and Derryth, please follow us. We will take you to the Master."

    "Just the two of us?" your partner enquires, naturally reluctant to split up the group.

    "Yes," the younger Seeker answers with a slight nod, "Just the two of you if you please."

    The Captain opens her mouth to object but you are already ahead of her, "We are not going anywhere without our escort."

    The pair move together, raising their hands, "We mean you no harm but it is too dangerous for your allies to approach the Master at the moment. Had we known you planned to meet us today we could have made better arrangements but there is simply no other way at the moment. We can not take anyone to see the master who does not have the ability to defend themselves magically."

    You attempt to call their bluff, "Well, if you can not bring us to your master why not bring him to us?"

    The younger Seeker shakes her head, "I am afraid that is not safe either for reasons that will become apparent should you choose to come with us."

    Damn, you are not prepared to turn back now, "Alright, but we keep our weapons and our spellbooks."

    "Naturally," the older Seeker nods in agreement, "As we said, we have no desire to harm you."

    Again that dark little part of you chimes in with a foreboding 'yet'.

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

    The pair of Seekers lead you into a narrow hallway, past numerous wards and magical defences. At all times you are ready to strike, at the very least you will ensure that these two fall with you at the first sign of betrayal.

    Treachery never materializes however and you are eventually brought to the 'Master', the Old Man in the Mountain, and he certainly looks the part. A bald head and flowing white beard, his skin bears the marks of countless battles and deep, jagged scars cut across most of his body. He is a large man and fit, easily dwarfing the pair of you and likely larger than even Tyrvard at his prime. You study him in silence; his arms and legs strain as he sits perfectly still upon his dais. You eyes trace his scars and quickly you notice that on top of and around these great wounds, likely earned is life and death struggles undertaken throughout a lifetime of mercenary work, rest a number of shallow, careful and reasonably straight marks. A quick count reveals three hundred and fifty six straight marks. On his left arm, fifty red crosses form broad bands running from his shoulder down past his elbow. On his right arm and approximately equal number of blue circles fall into similar patterns. Silent and focused as he is, the power pouring out of the mage is impressive. He is likely even more powerful than the Thin White Mage though his presence is nowhere near as oppressive as Nine in her fury or Mazzarin at any given moment. This fact is of little comfort to you as it is likely that he possesses enough power to defeat both you and your better half should he desire. Quickly you remind yourself that you are allies and that he has no reason to wish you harm, you do your best to strangle that tiny, paranoid part of you but still it nags at you, worrying you as you evaluate your new mercenaries.

    "What is he doing?" you manage to ask of your guides.

    "He is interrogating the flames," the older Seeker answers with reverence, "Few have the will to bargain with demons as he does. Fewer still have the skill to come out of such negotiations unbroken," the admiration that the Seeker feels for his master is palpable. Part of you desperately wants to inform the mage that you too have bargained with demons and that you remain uncompromised, well, you are fairly certain you are uncompromised that is.

    However, a moment's consideration and a knowing glance from your partner are enough to rid you of that desire.

    "When may we speak to him?" you better half politely enquires.

    The younger Seeker gives you both an apologetic smile, "As soon as he is finished. At the moment he is engaged in a battle of wills with nine of the demons. Hungry creatures of flame and shadow, he will not be able to speak until the negotiations are concluded."

    So you wait as one hour runs into the next.

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

    You lose the largest part of the afternoon waiting on the leader of the Seekers to resolve his current business. Your two guides remain in the chamber with you through most of this time, carefully monitoring the braziers, the flames and the wards holding them in place. A moment's imbalance could be enough to damn their master to a fiery death and you let them go about their work with the bare minimum of interference.

    You do manage to learn a little from them however, their names for example, the older Seeker is known as Qar and Arsinoe is the younger. They are apprentices of the Old Man and serve him directly in all things from the most mundane of tasks to the most difficult ritual bindings.

    "Arsinoe?" you call to the younger Seeker. She finishes her work and quickly crosses the chamber, "Do you have a moment?"

    She looks to Qar and he scans the braziers before nodding. She quickly snaps her gaze back to the pair of you, "Yes, I have a moment or two, was there something you require?"

    You look to your partner, best to let her handle the talking and she is likely to have most of the same questions you do, "If it is not rude might we ask about the meaning of your markings?"

    The Seeker nods thoughtfully, "There is no law against sharing such knowledge and it is quite simple really. The straight lines on our chests mark the number of kills we have made. The crosses serve as a reminder of the friends we have lost and the circles of the number of magical duels we have won. The rest of out markings also each have a meaning but none of them would be of much interest to an outsider, they speak to our personal and communal history, little more.

    Since Arsinoe has proven fairly talkative so far you decide to hazard a simple question of your own, "What does your master hope to learn by interrogating the flame?"

    "He seeks an enemy in service of an enemy of his master," Qar answers from across the room, "He has told us no more than that, what we do not know will not hurt him," he adds as he checks one of the far wards.

    You are about to launch a follow up question, about their master and his master, about any enemies they may have, and about a dozen other things you think it might be wise to know when a scream from the dais brings your thoughts crashing back into the here and now.

    Their master bellows, his already rigid frame twitching and straining as he throws his head back and screams. Four of the braziers are snuffed out by his shout and the pair of Seekers turn on the remaining flames.

    They hiss, they roar, the braziers rock and two of them tip over. It is only then that you get a complete picture of what the Old Man was struggling against. The hideous, hungry minds of the flames burst to life, free from the confines of their prisons. The first races directly toward the Old Man while the second makes for the exit of the chamber, the passageway you are currently standing in front of.

    You run possible plans through your mind, perhaps you can break its will? Maybe you can cut off its advance with a flame of your own, burn up all of its fuel and let it extinguish itself? Neither plan exactly fills you with confidence, thankfully the Old Man has it entirely under control. His apprentices intercept the first demon driving it back toward its brazier. Qar focuses on confining its movements by raising and lowering the wards on the floor while Arsinoe hits it time and again with water pulled from the air itself.

    With the first demon contained the Old Man is free to turn his attention to the second creature. Just as you begin to weave together an impromptu defence the Old Man draws the beast back with a great devouring wind. You grab your partner's hand and she takes you by the waist as you brace yourselves in the entryway, one quick hand clamped down on your hat, it would be a shame to see it consumed by these beasts.

    The creature roars and cackles as it is cast wide across the Old Man's winds. It wavers as it spreads, the pin point of white light at the core of its being sputters as the winds increase. Unable to direct itself and unable to free itself the demon howls once more while Arsinoe moves to extinguish it with a blast of moisture.

    The winds die with the last of the demons and the two of you step back into the chamber proper while the Old Man moves to give you a proper greeting, "Good afternoon ladies, it is a pleasure to entertain the three of you and your escort today though I would have preferred a little more warning. I could have scheduled this better had I known in advance."

    That is all well and good but- wait, did he say 'three of you'?

    The words come from all three of you at the same moment, naturally though only you and your partner are able to vocalize your shock, "What did you mean by three?"

    He continues to close the distance between you and his apprentices form up behind him. The closer he gets the clearer your view of him and Wyrd is he ugly: his nose is a crooked affair, broken and poorly mended numerous times; his right ear is half missing; his jaw cracks slightly as he speaks, perhaps the result of the four deep scars the cut across his left cheer and jaw from his ear to his lips; his left eye is also completely dead, it rests in his eye socket, lifeless and unmoving.

    You do your best not to stare.

    You fail.

    He lets out a harsh little bark and his jaw rattles slightly, "Pretty aren't I?"

    You cough, Thaïs attempts some sort of compliment but he quickly cuts her short, clearly uninterested in any sympathy you might be able to drum up. Instead he moves directly to answer your question.

    "I meant exactly what I said. More often than not I always mean exactly what I say, after a fashion at least," he laughs, a raspy, harsh thing that strikes your ear forcefully, "So once more let me extend to you three, Ladies Derryth, Thaïs and Caoilainn, the full courtesies due to agents of the King. I am already looking forward to working with you over the next month, in the south, it should prove very interesting."

    Though it took her a moment to adjust Thaïs has once more stepped into the role of professional negotiator, "And it is an experience we are looking forward to as well. Would it be possible to ask you a few questions now that you are free?"

    "Certainly," he replies, cracking a broken grin that causes his lower jaw to grind along his upper one, "I reserve the right not to answer though."

    You both nod and answer together, "That is fair."

    Your better half begins, "How many do you have under your command?"

    He rolls the question around for a moment, playing with it, looking for the most accurate, or perhaps most interesting way to answer it, "One hundred and ten," he smirks at your half concealed surprise, "Not all of them are fit for combat though, for the purposes of our contract I have twenty, no more, no less."

    Alright, you do not expect him to take children and the elderly into battle if they can not keep up anyway; twenty good mages at the right place and time could still make a substantial difference, "Anything else?"

    He nods, a grim smile spreading, "Perhaps, I do have a few other assets to hand but I was not planning on bringing them south."

    "Care to elaborate," you push him a little.

    "Not really," he calmly replies, still friendly but completely unmoving.

    Thaïs steps in, "Have you been briefed on what may be south of Myrgard?"

    "I was told mercenaries and Eberhardt rebels," the Old Man answers with a shrug, "I assumed that meant there was something down there that the Crown does not want to become public knowledge. Correct?"

    Well at least he is not an idiot, that could be helpful, provided he is not another Miosguinn, "You have the right of it," you answer, "Demons, necromancers, ghôls, maybe worse."

    The Master of the Seekers whistles, "Damn, should have charged more," he does not seem to upset about this new information however.

    "So does that change your stance on mobilizing your other 'assets'," Thaïs prods him slightly.

    He grunts, "I am not sure," he pauses to scratch his disfigured chin, "Tell you what, I will show you these 'assets' and you tell me if they will be a liability or not. You are in charge of the mission after all."

    Fair enough, you agree.

    "Anything else you want to know before I show you the other assets you have purchased?" the large Seeker asks.

    "Who is your master?" you ask rapidly, hoping to throw him off balance.

    He laughs, another short series of sharp notes sounds through the chamber, "I am not going to tell you."

    "Why not?" your partner cuts in, coming to your aid.

    He answers plainly but without any hint of anger or annoyance, "Because it is none of your business. I am afraid it is simply part of my deal," he replies with a lopsided smile, "Take it or leave it."

    You try another angle, "What were you interrogating the flames about?"

    He simply shakes his head, "I am afraid I can't tell you that either. Part of a pre-existing agreement sadly."

    "There is no way you will tell us?" you ask together.

    He thinks about it for several long, silent moments, when he speaks next his crooked grin returns, "Actually. There might be two ways for you to find out."

    "How," you quickly ask as one, even Caoilainn joins her voice with yours, curiosity overwhelming her better instincts.

    He raises his index finger, enumerating the ways you could extract the information you desire, "First, you could join us. Undertake the rituals necessary to join my Circle and I will tell you. If you survive the rituals then I will tell you everything."

    Immediately you are suspicious. You have not undertaken to bind or brainwash any of the members of your own Circle but you are well aware that such practices are common. It is likely that the rituals the Old Man speaks of contain some sort of element that will tie your fate to his and you want to know specifics up front, "What are involved in these rituals of yours?"

    He shrugs, "That is part of the ritual. You must enter it with no advanced warning though you may do it as a pair, or rather a trio in your case, should you so choose. The rituals are difficult but not terribly time consuming, if you agree we can perform them before we leave the city in two days time."

    Not exactly a tempting offer when you weigh up all you could lose, still, it may have advantages and if you are going to be working with the Seekers it might be useful to know who they serve.

    Out of curiosity you ask what your second option is.

    The Old Man laughs deeply at this, the gravel in his voice rumbling as he bellows, "You could challenge me to a duel, one on one or two on two, if you win then you would become leader of the Seekers and I would be obliged to inform you of all debts and all contracts currently active. Of course you would then be officially bound by those same agreements.

    Again, not a terribly tempting offer even if you were certain you could win, which is not guaranteed by any measure.

    You suppose there is also a third avenue open to you, you could attack the Old Man, subjugate his entire company and force the information out of him, it might work but it might be a bit of an extreme reaction given the circumstances.

    You push the thought from your mind as you have more pressing matters to deal with at the moment, "How did you know about Caoilainn?"

    "I have my ways," he answers with a smirk, "Beyond that I can not really say, trade secrets and all that."

    Caoilainn, now quite interested in the hideous mercenary and his unusual knowledge chimes in, "Ask him why they are called the Seekers?"

    Actually that is a good question and the two of you ask the Old Man exactly that.

    "That is a very long story," he sighs, "And I think you will find that each of my people has a different answer to that question. As for my personal answer, I am afraid I wish to keep it personal. No offense ladies but it really is none of your business."

    Another dead end, still it was worth a try. You shift topics, "Might we see your other assets now?" you enquire of the Master of the Seekers.

    "Certainly," he leads you back down the hallways toward the rest of your group, "I will need to take you to the secure wing of the compound. Some of these individuals can get quite dangerous if left to roam about unsupervised."

    "What do you mean?" your better half asks.

    Her question provokes another tired sigh from the Seeker, "I told you that each member of my company has a different interpretation of what it means to be a Seeker. It is not merely a philosophical distinction, they all search for something unique as well, and, well, sometimes they find what they are looking for. Sometimes it is not quite what they thought they wanted and sometimes they can not quite handle that fact. They become dangerous, to themselves and to all those around them but they are still my people and I will preserve them until they fall from old age, disease or battle."

    Not, ah, not a very comforting fate to contemplate to be sure.

    As you near the secure wing, you think you can hear them.

    Screams.

    Screams and the dark.

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

    You are glad to be out of that place. Not a single weapon raised in anger, not a single punch thrown or soldier injured but the Seekers' home was unsettling even if they proved to be generally amicable. Your return to the palace leaves you a little worn down, a little drained but as the sun drifts lazily down toward the dunes you know you have a great deal left to accomplish.

    Best to deal with the easier meeting first.

    According to Berty your first new officer is already waiting for you in one of the side meeting chambers, the smaller one, the Lady Grey insisted on taking the larger chamber all to herself.

    As you approach the door with your partner and the girls close behind you stop suddenly. You can hear voices coming from your chamber, or rather a single voice and it sounds nervous.

    The two of you creep forward together, hand in hand and ears pressed to the sturdy doors of the conference room.

    "Good evening! Ah, ma'am...s, ah, ma'ams? No, no, no..." a pair of feet pace rapidly right on the other side of the door, "Do I call them sirs maybe? Ohhhh! I don't know! Stupid, stupid! What did Captain Berty say? What did he say? Think, Ajiak, think! You need to do this! You have to make a good impression! Everyone if counting on you: Niilu the Seamstress, Oiva, Normann, Daghild, little Lore.... okay, just breathe, just, just breathe. It is going to be okay. They may be heroes sure and they may be archmages and they may have the King's own ear and they may... they may..."

    The footsteps on the far side of the door stop as the individual, this Ajiak, begins to cough, after a moment he begins pacing again, "Think positively, they picked you Ajiak! They had faith in you, you are plenty useful, plenty interesting. You can read! How many of your brothers and sisters can say that hmmm? That's right, only two and one of them is dead and the other can't walk on account of that fire. So we have to do this, er, I have to do this. When they walk through that door I am going to say hello siiirraammms.... noooo....." the voice chokes back a sob, "I can't! I am going to fuck this up, I just know it, I just know I am going to fuck this up and it all going to be my..."

    "This is just painful to listen to," you whisper to Thaïs as you scurry back down the hall.

    "Should we go in?" you respond quietly, "Put him our of his misery?"

    "Yes," she nods, "I think we should."

    "This is going to be good," Caoilainn adds as you each place a hand on one of the double doors leading into the chamber.

    You push them open as Ajiak spins on his heels and squeaks, his blue eyes reflecting all the terror of a hare caught in a hunter's trap, "Good evening maaa'iiirrr...s!"

    Caoilainn outright cackles, girl really needs a hobby or something.

    The two of you do your best not to laugh as Ajiak does a brilliant impression of a fish out of water, "I... I... I..." his breathing comes short and quick, if he keeps it up he is going to...

    Ajiak crashes backward, with a heavy thud.

    Caoilainn stops laughing, "Is he alright?"

    As the closest thing to a medic your group has you set to work checking the poor dwarf out, "Looks like he will be fine once he comes to. Girls!" you call into the hallway.

    The two jump to attention, springing into the open doorway, "Yeah."

    "Go get Berty," Thaïs instructs them, "Ajiak has taken a little tumble and we need something to wake him up with."

    The girls nod and take off at a sprint.

    "Not the best first impression," you remark dryly.

    "I don't think you are really one to judge now are you," a voice calls from the door.

    You both turn as Lyssa enters the room with a small sack, "Smelling salts," she explains, giving the bag a shake, "Snatched this out of kitchen, turns out the servants can't go a week without some 'highborn flower' fainting over a slight to her honour."

    As she sets to work on the unconscious dwarf you take the opportunity to get a few questions in, "So how have our efforts been going?"

    "Good for the most part," she replies without looking up, "The Boys' 'officer corps' has been screened, removed a few trouble makers but other than that no real problems."

    "So they are all clean? No mental tampering?" your better half asks with enthusiasm.

    Lyssa massages her temples, "Well the officers all seem clean from what we can tell. Albrecht lent us several of the Pathfinder officers to help screen them and we are doing the best we can. We are fairly confident that none of them are under the influence of the Watcher or the Goddess but none of us are mentalists except for you two. If you want complete confidence you would have to screen them all yourself. As for the rank and file it will take much more time to properly screen all of them, The Boys have essentially taken over several blocks in the ruins left after the fire, there is no way to keep people from slipping in and out without a proper location to billet them."

    "What about Blackrock?" you ask together.

    "I don't know," she shrugs, "You have to talk to one of our military people."

    "What's going on in here?" Berty calls out as he rounds the corner, the girls close behind. He cracks a grin as Ajiak starts to come around, "I hope you weren't too hard on him Derry, Taide."

    "We barely had time to say hello," you respond as Ajiak blinks rapidly.

    "Am, am I dead?" the dwarf mutters.

    "Afraid not Ajiak," Berty slips past you and helps the dwarf to his feet, "So how about we try this introduction again."

    Ajiak face runs through most of the shades of colour you have had the pleasure to encounter, eventually it settles on a very pale white, "I, I am sorry sirs, er, ma'ams, er, I-"

    You raise a hand, "Ajiak, none of this sir or ma'am crap."

    "It is complete nonsense," your partner adds, "If you wish to address us simply do so by our names, Derryth-"

    "-and Thaïs," you complete Thaïs thought with a grin and extend your hands.

    "I, ah, okay, okay, good evening Derryth," he takes your hand and shakes it wildly, "And Thaïs," he takes your partner's hand and gives it a good shake as well.

    From the way his knees wobble and the pale shade of his face it is clear that this is about all he can handle for tonight, "We will talk more later Ajiak," you slap him on the back and he just about collapses.

    Berty suppresses a grin as Thaïs instructs your newest officer, "Dinner will be served within the hour in the main room and you are welcome to dine with us there."

    "I, ah, I, I can't, I mean, Idon'twanttobeungratefuloranythingandallthatbut " Ajiak begins to turn blue, "My daughter, you see, I have to get back to see- to see to her dinner, you see. I mean, I mean, I don't mean to insult you or anything and I know that we owe you everything on account of your helping the King stop those damn- er," he catches sight of the girls, "Sorry, those darn, Eberhardts but she is so young and I don't know how long Oiva will watch her for when it gets around mealtime you see and I-"

    You stop him before this gets any worse, "You have a daughter?"

    He tries to reply but is forced to settle for merely nodding.

    Berty cuts in, "By our count there are about sixty children in the Boys' camp. They were not included in the tally given to us when they made their application though."

    Ajiak begins to sputter again, "Ah, damn- er, darn, it was Normann you see. He served with House Berg for a few years, couple decade back, and he said that no one would hire a bunch of peasants with children running around. We had to make ourselves look professional. But," he hangs his head, and slows his breathing "They made me leader you see, on account of my being able to read and not being an alcoholic or an addict. It," he exhales sharply, "It was my choice. I should have mentioned the kids, I just, I wanted to get a contract and- and there is no excuse."

    Well, it would have been nice to know about the children in advance but you already knew that by hiring the Boys you would be taking on a lot of extra mouths that might not be of much immediate or direct use. That does not matter, these people work for you now and as long as they serve loyally they are your people, you tell Ajiak as much and he damn near weeps as Berty escorts him our of the room.

    "Well that was interesting," you break the silence.

    "He was not that bad yesterday," Lyssa remarks.

    "Are we going to need to replace him?" your better half enquires, broaching the delicate subject.

    You turn the options over in your mind, "I don't know. If he is going to lead men into battle he has to be toughened up a bit but maybe he just made a bad first impression."

    "Well you are a master of those so you should know," Caoilainn merrily adds.

    You return fire, "I can take the bracelet off you know."

    "Sorry," your disembodied officer is quick to apologize.

    "No harm done," you reply, "My point is that maybe he will grow into the role with a little support, he might not be a leader yet but that is fine, his people are not soldiers yet either. We will have to make them into an army and that will take time."

    "We could give the girls command of the dwarves under Berty's supervision. Train them up together," Lyssa suggests.

    "But then we won't have time to protect you two," Uttu objects.

    True, but you are not sure you like the idea of dragging the girls south into a warzone anyway. Training the Boys into a fighting force could be a good excuse to keep the girls safe when you do march south, on the other hand you have lost track of the number of times those kids have saved your lives, maybe they can handle themselves.

    Finally there is the issue of housing for the four hundred, or rather four hundred and sixty, dwarves now under your command. You could just leave them in the ruins in the poor end of the city but it would have a negative impact on morale and it would also make controlling their movements more difficult. Additionally all those makeshift hovels and cooking fires could very well trigger a second inferno and wipe out a good number of your new mercenaries.

    If you wanted to billet them somewhere you could try Blackrock though it would be crowded with all of the soldiers already there and you are not sure exactly how many people the fort could comfortably hold anyway. You could also look for property within the city. The old Eberhardt compound is still empty, it seems that many think it is cursed, haunted by ghosts and the undead raised by the Eberhardts. Of course you know that the Eberhardts were not involved in necromancy so there should be nothing to fear. You could purchase the land and use the old compound to house your new army. Finally you could try to coordinate something with the Black Arrows, maybe Ceannard knows of a few warehouses you can get cheap and refit in his end of town. He should be back sometime tonight or tomorrow morning anyway.

    So much to manage and so little time, sadly there is much, much more you have to do tonight before you sleep.

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

    Silence, in a room this size it is made all the worse as the three of you cluster around the smallest table available.

    She begins with a stunning smile that leaves her grey eyes completely cold, "Please, allow me to say that it is a pleasure to meet you both. I have been following your recent exploits quite closely and I must say you are both very, impressive," she looks you in the eye and beams, her eyes lighting up for a moment, then she turns to your friend and does the same.

    Thaïs does her best to match Lady Grey's tone, "Thank you, we-"

    Lady Grey pushes on, her cheery but mechanical tone droning on over your partner's words, "You have done a great deal for this Kingdom but I think you can do better. With the help of my mercenaries, the best equipped mercenaries in the entire Kingdom, you will be able to accomplish so much more. With the help of my money and my resources you will be able to secure the future of this Kingdom for generations of future dwarves. You can do this with my help, we can do this, together," once more she makes eye contact and once more she grins before turning to your better half and doing the same.

    You smile slightly, you have a theory.

    Once more Thaïs attempts to reply, "Well, that does sound-"

    The Mercenary Captain folds her hands in her lap and continues without so much as acknowledging Thaïs' words, "It is just such a wonderful turn of events that should see the three of us brought together like this. We will do such wondrous things for the less fortunate of the Kingdom and I just know we will quickly become the best of friends," for a third time she pauses and makes eye contact. This time you count her movements, her eyes dart up, sharp, calculating but only for a second. Quickly the cold caution gives way to hollow joy; for five seconds she holds your gaze before shifting her focus to your partner.

    She is definitely following a set pattern. Could be she is simply nervous, could be she is up to something.

    You let Thaïs continue to do the speaking, or at least try to, "Magnificently said and we are greatly-"

    "You would not believe," Lady Grey speeds along, "You simply would not believe how hard it is to find proper company in this city. The dwarves are wonderful people but sometime it is simply a relief to speak to other humans, sadly all the best sort left with the embassy and now," she shakes her head sadly, "I would not be surprised if we are the last three human nobles in the entire Kingdom," as she finishes her thought she repeats her ritual, for that is what it is, a ritual, magic or something like it and you know this because you have encountered it before.

    Her measured words, her friendly tone, the constant but mechanical nature of her movements, she is trying to influence you but she is not nearly as good as Ceannard is. Her fumbling attempts are producing no noticeable reaction and so she repeats them over and over again.

    You wonder what her plan was. Did she hope to turn you against each other? Have you murder one another in this very room? Perhaps she merely wished to control you and through you your entire organization? Honestly though you doubt she would succeed even if she could get the ritual to work.

    "Two points," you begin with your usual inscrutable grin.

    The Lady Grey tries to protest.

    "My dear lady," you interrupt her, "You have already spoken a great deal and we have given you several chances to achieve what you set out to do."

    She bats her eyelashes and feigns shock, "Why I have no idea what you mean Lady Derryth," she is fairly convincing but you are certain of what you saw.

    You shake your head as Thaïs interrogates you with her eyes. Out of the corner of your eyes you can see her turning over the possibilities and then it hits her, she begins to grin, a hint of anger below her amusement.

    You focus in on the Lady Grey, "First, my dear lady we are not of the nobility. I was born a free peasant."

    The Mercenary Captain can barely contain her shock and a certain instinctive revulsion, "A peasant? But you have the ear of the King and the attention of- ah, several of the leading individuals in this city."

    You push on, ignoring her words with a certain satisfaction, "And Thaïs is not a noble either, isn't that right love?"

    Your better half beams, "Yes that is right dear," she nods and turns back to your new partner, "I was born to a merchant family."

    The Lady Grey mutters to herself, the grin erased from her face, "Peasants? How... peasants... chose... peasants..."

    From what little you know of the woman you are fairly certain what she hoped to achieve here. You press on, "Now for my second point," your words drive the Lady Grey back out of her thoughts and into the moment, "Generally speaking, it is not wise to try and magically manipulate a pair of mentalists."

    "Particularly when you have no actual skill in the field," Thaïs adds with a self satisfied smile, "Such endeavours rarely end well."

    "I-" the Mercenary Captain begins, "I did not mean-"

    "I would not waste our time lying," you caution her together.

    "I, I will leave. You don't need to see me out," she moves to rise.

    "Sit," you order her, "We are not done yet, I think."

    "What?" she tilts her head, "What do you intend to do to me?" she asks as her hand slides down her thigh toward her boot, she likely has a weapon down there.

    "That would be another bad idea," you point to her hand, "Reach for a weapon and things will get violent when really, as far as I am concerned, there is no reason for any of that," in truth you are not too sure about that yet. There is a very real chance that you will have to dispose of Lady Grey but there is no need to force a confrontation here and now.

    "I-" she stares at you, complete befuddlement writ on her face, "I do not understand. You know I tried to influence you, that I tried to use you, that I might have ki- hurt you. Why would you not destroy me?"

    You and your partner share a laugh. At first Lady Grey seems to think you are mocking her as she tenses up.

    You are quick to explain, "Admittedly, you have not made a good first impression but you would hardly be the first person in our employ that has tried to kill or control us. Honestly, I am more interested in why you wanted us removed. Perhaps we can come to some sort of understanding where we all get what we want?"

    Once more the deafening silence settles in.

    Your new officer takes her time before she speaks, "If you do not know why I want you gone then I would rather not say."

    "Is there nothing we can do to change your mind?" Thaïs enquires.

    You both have a fairly good idea of what this is about but you should hear it from her lips, it will make things easier if she volunteers the information.

    When she does not reply you shift tack, "Drink?"

    "Pardon me?" she replies.

    So you repeat the question, "Do you want a drink?"

    "I generally do not drink with pea-" she stops short, "Sorry, yes, that would be nice."

    You know just the thing, you slip out of the chamber and return with three glasses straight from Tyrvard's old still. It has taken you a few days to get it up and working again and it will be a few months more before you have something on the level of what the Berserk could brew but even these first few batches are far superior to most of what you have had over the last month.

    You hand her the cup and she stares sceptically at the clear liquid.

    You laugh, "If we wanted to kill you there are easier ways than poison," you hand Thaïs her glass and sip on your own drink as you return to your seat, "Now, why don't you tell us what is bothering you and how we can help. No sense having secrets between partners right?"

    She takes a bracing shot of the beverage, knocking back a mouthful and coughing slightly, "That, that is good," she lowers the glass, "Alright, it is about Ceannard, it has always been about Ceannard..."

    She begins with the night they met, "We were late returning to the city from one of the great country estates. It might have been Berg's now that I think on it but that is of little importance. What is important is the attack, beasts, monsters from the dark. We were outnumbered maybe ten to one, my guards, useless amateurs that they were, were cut down and my carriage crashed. They would have dragged me away into slavery, death or worse," she pauses, her eyes springing to life, "Then he arrived, on a white charger at the head of thirty of his Arrows. They drove the beasts away and he swept into the wreckage of my carriage. He was so gentle, so dashing, he promised me that he would see me safely back to the embassy and he did just that, it was- it was the greatest day of my life."

    As she continues you can not help but notice the stars in her eyes, "He kissed me only once, on the steps of the embassy and then he was gone. He told me that he had to see to a contract but that he would contact me as soon as he could. I waited, everyday I waited but I did not hear from him so I sent letters, then gifts, then I-" she pauses at this point.

    "Another drink?" you offer.

    "Yes, thank you," she readily accepts this time.

    You bring back a couple jugs this time and once her glass is topped up she quickly empties it. By her third glass she has loosened up noticeably, you conclude she must not be much of a drinker, well, that or both and your partner are alcoholics...

    She begins again, half way through her fourth glass, "I know it is absurd but I hired someone to follow him, a mercenary, an archer that knew exactly what Ceannard had been up to. He told me that Ceannard had met someone else, or rather 'someones else', that he was seeing, well..."

    "Us?" you ask together.

    "Yes," she sighs, "So I thought, maybe I just was not interesting enough for him, I thought maybe if I became a mercenary captain, if I made myself more interesting then..."

    "He would contact you again?" Thaïs hazards, her voice tinged with sympathy.

    "Yes, exactly," the noblewoman nods, "I thought I could steal him back from you so I formed the Greys and began taking on simple contracts but he never came back."

    "Lady Grey," you begin.

    "Please, Áine will do," she corrects you.

    "Alright," you begin again, "Áine, we are not in love with Ceannard, in fact the only connection we have with him is a business one. He works with us and I would like to say that he is a friend most days as well but that is as far as it goes."

    "Really," she blinks repeatedly, "You mean that mercenary misled me?"

    "Seems that way," you answer, "Can you tell us anything about him?"

    "No, not really," she shakes her head dramatically, "He said his name was Cuulagh but that was all."

    "Why did you believe him?" your partner naturally enquires.

    "He, um," she frowns, straining to remember, "He had an honest face."

    Well great. You have some sort of mercenary out there spreading rumours about your activities. Another potential enemy to add to the list, you suppose.

    "Áine," you reach across the table and take her hand, "How would you feel if we contracted the Black Arrows to help train the Greys."

    "Train?" he mutters, frowning, "Are you saying that my men need practice? They have the best equipment and facilities I could afford! Some of the best in the entire Kingdom! I do not need help!"

    The downside of negotiating with a drunk, mood swings.

    Thaïs takes a less direct approach, she reaches across the table and takes Áine's other hand, "Of course they do not need training but think about it. Who would be leading the Arrows?"

    She squints, "Ah... Ceannard!"

    Your better half nods, "And who leads the Greys?"

    "Me!" your drunken officer declares.

    "Which means?" you prod her.

    "I would spend time with Ceannard!" she beams.

    "Exactly," you give her a confident nod, "Stick with us and you will have plenty of opportunities to win over Ceannard."

    A happy, dopey grin spreads across her face, "Thank you, thank you both!"

    The three of you rise together as you prop her up and direct her to one of the side chambers, you will need to talk to her again later but for now it would be best to let her sleep off the effects of Tyrvard's brew.

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

    "So in summary the Seekers serve some sort of mysterious master that may or may not be our enemy, Ajiak is utterly spineless, the Boys are a disorganized mob and Lady Grey tried to get you to murder each other on the word of some mysterious mercenary tracker? Did I get that right?" Skite cheerfully summarizes as he saws through a chicken, "Do I get to tell you 'I told you so'?"

    "Not if you want to keep your job," you answer with a grin.

    The table bursts into laughter. Supper has been delightfully relaxing tonight and Albrecht has even arranged for a proper table this time, something that can seat you all together.

    "It is not as bad as all that," Berty answers for you, "The Boys aren't mercenaries, yet, but giv'em time, everyone has to start somewhere and based on today's exercises I would say at least two hundred and fifty of them could be turned into proper soldiers with a good training regime."

    "And the rest?" Mayer enquires, "We will have to feed, clothe and shelter the remaining two hundred and ten who are unfit for service. I still fail to see how that is a sound investment."

    "One, they're people," Berty answers with a confident grin, "Not 'investments', an' two they're not fit for direct service. You would be surprised what people will say round a kid or round someone they figure is too old or weak to make a difference. Never overlook the little guy."

    "Noted," the Banker nods, "What about their leader though, if he lacks spine that could be quite a problem."

    Berty nods, "Might be but I would give him a chance first, let'em grow into the role an' only demote him if he can't do the job."

    "Sounds like a waste of time," the Banker answers, shaking his head.

    Your tactician scoffs, "At least my recruits did not try to kill Taide and Derry."

    "Nonsense, that is hardly my fault," the Banker wags his fork at the tactician, "I am no mind reader, how was I to know that Lady Grey would attempt anything of that nature."

    "Well," the tactician grins, "Maybe she should be demoted."

    "We can not do that," the Banker insists, "She is a partner, it would be a nightmare and she would be well within her rights to pull her assets. She is not some damn commoner and she needs to be treated with that in mind!"

    "I say can them both," Skite interjects, "Call in Myora or my brother and we can lead these new recruits just fine."

    You listen carefully to the advice of your officers but ultimately the choice is your own to make, you are curious what Lyssa thinks of it all though.

    "Anything to add Lyssa?" you turn to face the Witch as she works her way through a whole salmon.

    "Ah," she lowers her fork, "Not really to be honest. I have no experience leading a mercenary company or business so I will have to defer to the judgement of Mayer, Berty, Skite. If anything worries me it is the identity of that mercenary archer that set Lady Grey after you, if we have yet another enemy it would be good to know who it is. Then there is the question of who the Seekers are working for as well, if it is not Albrecht then it could be any number of people and most of them are our enemies."

    Mayer clears his throat, "I will have my people look into this. I was not even aware that the Seekers had a 'master' and I do not like being surprised."

    Berty nods, "Yeah, I know a few people I can ask an' I will check out this merc too, the more we know the better off we will be."

    That reminds you, "Speaking of being well informed Berty I have a plan for you to try out."

    "Oh really," the little tactician grins, "Something terrible and amazing I hope."

    You hope your order will not disappoint, "Yes, I want you to draw out and capture one of the Weasels' officers tonight. We need to know if they are compromised and we can not easily go after Wenzel himself."

    The tactician grins, "Alright, I will have at least one officer for you by morning. I will need ten men, ten full length mirrors, twenty metres of rope, twenty pigs and enough raw ingredients to fill three drums with the dwarven cocktail solution. The rest I can get for myself."

    You scribble a short note for the quartermaster and a second one for the guard captains on duty, "Here you go Berty, when do you want to start?"

    He pockets the notes, "No rush, I have all night after all."

    You do not though, you still have another ritual to perform. You bid your officers goodnight and start the leisurely walk to the safe house where your ritual will take place.

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

    "Are they all dead?" the Tactician asks the Officer.

    "Yeah," the Officer replies, "Twenty three dead and one left alive to flee into the night."

    "Good," they should have fifteen to twenty minutes before reinforcements arrive, "Join team three, two blocks north."

    The Officer fights the urge to salute, settling for a slight bob of the head as he spins and races into the night.

    The plan is fairly simple really. Hit one of Wenzel's operations, kill all of his mercenaries except one and then let the survivor go get help, spreading tales of an attack by a rival gang. At least one of Wenzel's lieutenants will have to show and when they do he will spring the real trap.

    The most difficult part of the job was to find the best location possible to hit. Somewhere important but sufficiently isolated from Wenzel's other properties to allow for encirclement and disposal of the enemy force.

    Berty settled on this place, a mid sized bar serving as a front for drug production in the city. It took a little convincing and he had to call in the odd favour but it is done, every alley, side street and avenue surrounding the bar is mined, trapped or otherwise occupied by forces hostile to the Weasel's or loyal to him. There will be no escape.

    Now all he has to do is wait, or rather wait and check on the pigs.

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

    "Alright," a muffled voice calls from under the door, "You are sealed in. Whenever you are ready you can begin.

    You are dozens of metres below the earth in a single sealed chamber used for arcane weapons testing. The doors behind you are triple warded, the doors beyond them are reinforced and guarded by a team of ten Pathfinder officers. If anything goes wrong and they can not contain the result of your ritual there is a second team on the surface, they have orders to destroy the entire facility if necessary. All of this might seem like paranoia but you have no intention of taking a chance here. If Morpheus gave you a faulty ritual, or if you fail to master the spell you will not be responsible for unleashing a horde of lesser demons on the city. There are enough horrors in the world already.

    There are six of you in the chamber, you, Thaïs, Lyssa, Hallr, and a pair of Pathfinder agents to act as security, they will kill Hallr if necessary to prevent his escape. Not a terribly likely outcome though, for all the reasons you have already noted and because the cultist remains unconscious. He was brought from his cell in this condition, a little battered, a little bruised, but not seriously harmed, the Pathfinders have been fairly gentle all things considered. With any luck he will remain completely unconscious throughout the procedure.

    In front of you is the gate, unlike the gate spell you know this spell calls for a physical structure to be erected. A slight change that you are led to believe will make the process easier to undertake. It seems Morpheus has thought of everything and provided you with a spell that you can cast between the three of you, of course there was a catch. The ritual called for a frame of bone, covered in skin and bound with sinew, all from fresh kills. At each corner there rests a skull, along the walls and floor are traced intricate patterns in the blood and entrails of the slaughtered animals, each reproduced to the exact specification Morpheus laid out. The blood that covers everything from the walls, to the floors, yourselves and the gate will aid in the transmission of magical energy into the spell and through the gate, as the blood dries out the spell will become more difficult to cast and eventually the gate will lose power and close on its own. You would almost say it is elegant if it was not so gruesome.

    "I suppose we should begin," Thaïs speaks up to your right.

    "Yeah, the sooner we can get washed off the better," Lyssa adds with a curt nod, picking a chunk of liver from her hair.

    If they are ready then there is no further point in waiting, "Alright, here is how this is going to work. I am going to attach the anchors to the Dreaming, once we are attached I will need the two of you to help power the gate long enough for our dwarven friends to push Hallr through. After that we will wind down the spell and call it a night. All told it should take no more than fifteen minutes if everything goes right."

    No objections, no questions, time to start. You take a deep breath and begin.

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

    "What the fuck was that!" she screams.

    "How the hell should I fucking know!" he shouts back, "Just keep running!"

    It was a trap, crafted by a mind that few could hope to fathom.

    A thing of smoke and mirrors, fire and... pigs.

    "Shit, shit, shit! To your left!" she screams.

    He turns.

    Too late.

    All she can do is throw herself backward, out of the blast radius, as the squealing, flaming beast crashes into her bodyguard. He screams as man and pig are carried together into the side of the alley. As they strike the brick wall they explode and the last of her men dies

    She set out with a force of eighty.

    She lost five retaking the bar, driving off the enemy.

    Thirty when it then promptly blew up.

    Thirteen in running ambushes throughout the city.

    And thirty two to the pigs... those fucking pigs...

    She takes a breath, then two as she lies on her back in the dark. She is alone now, her sword useless, her armour pointless. If she stays she will fall, she needs to move, to run.

    She staggers to her feet.

    "Flaming, exploding pigs," she mutters, "What kind of sick fuck-"

    Pain.

    A blow from behind.

    Not even a chance to fight back.

    She pitches forward and strikes the pavement.

    The last thing she hears as she loses consciousness, "Damn I'm good."

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

    You hum to yourself as you balance in the void, perched on one of the few tethers linking your world and the Dreaming.

    Around you the voices tempt you.

    In a low hiss, something heavy and old promises you power if you will just step off of the path. It always begins with power, doesn't it? The first thing they offer you, you ignore them.

    A merry, bubbling voice wraps itself around your ears. It caresses your mind, promises you pleasures that have been outlawed for millennia, strange rituals that will give you impossible beauty and everlasting youth.

    Vanity, you will admit that it is a common trait amongst mages. Not really a trait you indulge in though, at least not for the price you would have to pay here. You continue to hum, laying out the planks that will be your floor and giving yourself more space to safely work with.

    Your next tempter comes on a foul wind, he promises you your dead back, his voice buzzing like a swarm of flies. He laughs in your ear, over your left shoulder. He speaks of their suffering and of the daily torture their souls at the hands of his fellows. He promises release and relief if you would simply let him in.

    You would be lying if you said you weren't tempted. There are so many people you would like to restore and that number seems to grow with each passing month. Family, friends, allies, all lost and this creature knows their names, he does not skip a single one.

    To listen to these voices, their promises, their threats it would be enough to break anyone. The wise course of action is not bargaining, it is not even defiance, you remind yourself to not even acknowledge them. So you hum all the harder, something Henry taught you in a soggy, little shack east of Tyr, you focus on the task before you, on your present and nothing more.

    In silence you work and the voices grow annoyed. They switch tactics, they begin to scream and hurl themselves at your structure. Crashing into the magical wards you have set down. As they strike the barrier they take form for a moment. Scales and claws, wings and talons, feathers, fur, fangs; twisted shapes that bounce off your magic and fly screaming into the void. Their forms disappear but their screams do not, they do however change pitch. The low, rumbling howls of rage give way to panicked wailing and it takes you a moment to realize what is happening.

    "There is always a bigger predator," you mutter under your breath.

    "Yessss, there issss," a lazy voice rings in your ears, not from without, but from within, "Those children will never get the opportunity to make that mistake again. To take form in the void is to welcome death and even assss they stalked you, they were being stalked in turn," the being laughs gently.

    You pause, shake your head and press on, humming quietly.

    "Your instinctssss are right child, do not speak as there are many here that would mislead you," again the voice sounds out from the very core of you, "Perhapssss I would as well if given half a chance," it laughs.

    You focus all the more on your work, this thing is too relaxed, it is not desperate like the other voices and that worries you. Just what has found you here in the space between worlds?

    A few moments more and it won't matter, the voice does not seem to much mind, "I imagine you want to know why I am bothering you? Well, you can rest your weary head. We have mutual friendssss, godssss and magessss love to gossip so, and I just happened to stumble on your little gate here. Thought I would do the polite thing and say hello. So hello, Derryth ó Foghladh, and goodbye. I shall eagerly await our next meeting."

    You snap the last ward in place and check your work while the lazy voice drifts away, out of your mind and into the dark. The hard part is done, now to deliver your prisoner to what may well be his final home.

    You snap back into your body, "It's ready, throw him through."

    Grunting the Pathfinders heft Hallr up by his arms and his legs.

    "Just push him in," you instruct them, "We will handle the rest."

    The unconscious cultist passes into the gate and a black stone tumbles back out to your side, it begins to smoke and scream while the Pathfinders leap backward, drawing their weapons.

    You raise a hand, straining under the effects of the spell, "Wait! I think this is a message."

    Sure enough the smoke begins to take the shape of a man, a human, wrapped in fur and leather. You recognize it as Morpheus' human form which he takes on from time to time as his mood or his needs demand. You will have to thank him for that little discretion, it will be much easier on the Pathfinders, not to mention your reputation, if your guards are under the impression that Morpheus is a man and not a demon.

    He smiles and bows slightly, extending an arm, "You may release the gate at any time ladies. Your prisoner, or rather, my guest is safe and sound now."

    "What about the stone and your projection?" you ask, always mindful of the state of the gate.

    "Once the connection is broken the stone will begin to evaporate and when the smoke clears my projection will vanish," he promptly replies.

    Alright then, you give the signal to your colleagues and they begin to reduce the power they are feeding into the portal. Quickly you work to sever the ties binding your world to the Dreaming and within minutes the gate has been rendered inactive.

    A quick glance at Morpheus' stone reveals it is already beginning to dissipate. He dutifully waits for you to finish your work before he begins, "Brilliant work, but no less than I expected from three young and talented mages like yourselves."

    "Do we really have time for flattery?" Lyssa chimes in.

    The Prince of the Dreaming grins, "Very well, I merely want to check in to say that everything is going perfectly on our end. Hallr has already been transported to the custom dream you commissioned for him. He seems happy enough, at the very least his mind has not rejected the dream so that is a good start and I will contact you again as soon as I have something for you."

    His image begins to waver, "So with that dear ladies I will-"

    "A question before you go," Thaïs interrupts, catching you by surprise.

    "Such as?" he enquires. The stone beneath him disappears completely.

    She begins with a question that impresses you with its foresight, "Those stones? How do they work?"

    Yes, that would be incredibly useful. If those stones can facilitate communication between planes then perhaps you have stumbled upon a means of long distance communication.

    Morpheus shifts uncomfortably, uncertain of where she is going with this, "They are grown in my garden from very rare specimens."

    His feet and shins disperse.

    "Might we have some?" you press him.

    "No, the plants will only grow in my garden," he replies flatly.

    Next everything below his hips wavers away.

    "What about the stones?" Lyssa throws her efforts behind yours.

    "Perhaps," his customary grin, peaks out from the corners of his mouth, "We might arrange something but you would need to give me something of sufficient value in exchange."

    He is now little more than a head, hovering in the air.

    Actually, that reminds you of an idea, "Perhaps we could talk about developing a proper system of exchange."

    He tilts his head, "I am not sure what you mean?"

    "Well," you begin, "Are you familiar with the dwarven concept of banking?"

    He winks and grins, nothing now remains of him save for his eyes and his mouth, "Yes, I have heard of it but this might not be the best time for such a conversation. We simply do not have the time sadly," first his left eye and then their right blink out.

    The last thing to disappear is his grin, consumed by light as the last of him is banished from your world.

    You turn to your allies and your friends, "Well, I think we are done here."

    You shake the outstretched hands of both of your guards, they blink in disbelief and the older one speaks, "I gotta say, we see some weird things working for the King but mage work is always surreal."

    The younger agent nods, "It was a pleasure to help you ma'am, you have yourselves a pleasant night," he marches to the door and strikes it three times, "Alright, rituals done! Let us out! Code is 69405."

    The other Pathfinders are slow to open to the doors, partly due to tall the wards and partly out of caution, it is not outside the realm of possibility that you could have been possessed and your memories plundered, every little precaution helps.

    It is another hour before you are back to the surface and returned safely to the Palace.

    All you crave at this point is sleep and the second your head hits the pillow you are off on your own trip to the Dreaming.

    When you awaken, in your field, Thaïs and Lyssa to your right and left the first thing you notice is Morpheus, once more in his regular form. He positively beams, "So ladies, lets talk about you and your account with the 'First Interdimensional Bank of the Dreaming'."

    You think he is joking.

    You hope he is joking.

    Demon bankers... is the world ready for such a thing?

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

    Morning comes all too quickly but at least you are greeted by good news.

    Berty was successful in capturing a Weasel captain. She has been dragged off to a Pathfinder safe house, pending torture or interrogation or both. You are also informed that should you wish to talk to or interrogate the prisoner you need only ask. Your people brought her in and it is your investigation after all. Supposedly he even managed to do it with minimal property damage, only a single build levelled and a handful of wall destroyed, no civilian casualties which is always nice and though there is a formal investigation underway by the City Guard you doubt they will find any evidence of who is responsible. No one in that end of town can even tolerate the Weasels and it seems that few are willing to come forward with any information at all.

    Normally you would wait until everyone is assembled, to have breakfast together and synchronize your activities for the day but today you simply can not wait. You have a meeting scheduled with Albrecht's second son Timo and from what you have heard he is not the sort that you want to keep waiting.

    It will just be the two of you this morning, or rather it will be: the two of you, your constant shadows, Biliku and Uttu, and your escort. Forty strong just like yesterday though they will be of little help today, guards are not allowed inside of the Silver Flame.

    "What do you mean we can't come in!" Biliku protests.

    "We are their bodyguards!" he sister insists, "You can't tell us to wait outside! You can't!"

    The maul doorman remains unmoved, "I got instructions to let Ladies Derryth and Thaïs in. No one else, so no one else is getting in," he folds his massive arms across his broad chest.

    "Girls," you call them, "You are going to have to wait out here."

    You have spent long enough with them that you can sense a whine before it has even escaped their throats.

    Thaïs deftly utilizes one of your favourite tricks, "Girls? Are you professionals?"

    They nod.

    "Then sometimes you have to follow the rules," she continues.

    Uttu frowns, "But Berty says that you have to be willing to break the rules to get ahead."

    "Which is true," you grant her, a firm hand on her shoulder, "But part of being a professional is knowing which rules to break and which ones to follow."

    "How do we tell?" she rapidly asks.

    This time it is her sister that answers, "Experience," she states with a sage nod that makes it very hard not to smile.

    "Exactly," the two of you respond together.

    You give them their instructions, and tell them to listen to the Captain until you return, before crossing the threshold into the Silver Flame.

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

    You are ushered through the building, out of the common room and upstairs to the top floor. This floor of the Silver Flames is much like a miniature version of Albrecht's own palace with exquisite tapestries hanging from the walls, and richly woven rugs on the floors. You are not given time to examine any of the works however as your guide hurries you into the antechamber. It is just barely dawn but already the room leading to Timo's apartments is filled with petitioners from across the Kingdom and beyond. Many of them stare daggers at you as you are led past them and directly into the apartments of the Prince.

    This is where your guide leaves you, he cautions you against wandering and informs you that the Prince will be with you in a moment. You are left to wait in his office, not for too long but long enough to take in your surrounding.

    Everything that Timo possesses seems to be of the very finest quality: the leather on his chairs is from Tyr, the wood is from the Ermine; the wine perched on that desk is from Scales; the weapons in the hands of his guards outside are direct from Stoneheim; he even has a small songbird indigenous to the Twelve Duns locked in a cage to the right of his desk, it seems to be sleeping.

    On the right side of the room stands an overstuffed bookshelf, the worn tomes that present their titles to you cover topics ranging from theology and history to magic and the new 'natural philosophy' you encountered at the Royal Academy.

    You are tempted to pick a book from the shelf when Timo finally makes his entrance.

    He is of average height but his presence is commanding, his eyes are keen, and every time he looks at you he seems to look through you, prying your deepest secrets from you with simple will alone. You sense magic on him though with a prince that is not necessarily an indication of anything, it simply means that he has active enchantments in place. A reasonable precaution if one sets out to meet a pair of mentalists.

    He calmly approaches, holding your gaze until he is directly in front of you, "It is a pleasure to meet the two women most directly responsible for the preservation of my father's House," he extends an arm, first to you and then to your partner.

    He gestures to the chairs by his desk as he deftly manoeuvres past you and behind it, "Please, take a seat."

    You do as you are instructed and he wastes no time striking at the very heart of the matter, "My understanding is that you have been charged by my father with the protection of our House and to that end you have been given the freedom to investigate our family to determine who exactly has been compromised."

    "That is correct," you reply, you keep your answer short as you suspect he is not done yet.

    "Good," he leans back in the chair, "Now, I have been informed that you have spoken to both Wenzel and Jan and I must say that I am impressed by how you have handled yourself. Jan speaks quite highly of your efforts against the Cult and their- well, creature would probably be the best word for it I suppose. This thing known as Rand has been a thorn in my side for some time now and brother mentioned that you killed one of his kin. For that, I must thank you. I would also like to thank you for not harming Wenzel, he is rather impetuous and not the most agreeable individual I am afraid. However you showed a great deal of restraint in your dealings with him and for that I must once again that you."

    He pauses but you doubt he is done yet, he is driving towards something so you may as well sit there and let him say it.

    He pushes on, in a charming tone that promises you the world, "You have demonstrated time and time again that you are professional, reliable, and not to be trifled with. In fact, barring the odd indiscretion there is very little I can actually criticize you for with one notable exception. Your choice of employer."

    Finally, you can wait no longer, "You mean your father?"

    "Yes, exactly," he inclines his head slightly and a confident grin plastered to his face, "But that is easy enough to solve and I intend to do so this instant. I would like to offer you both employment in my service."

    "No," you reply as one.

    His smile does not fade, he is likely the sort that is used to getting what he wants and you doubt a simple no will discourage him, "Do not reply too quickly, I can pay far better than my father and I can provide you the sort of protection and insulation that he can not. Should my father retain his throne I will still be here. Should my brother ascend I will still be here. Should they both tragically fall then I will be king and should the crown itself be done away with I will remain."

    Your partner asks the obvious question, "And if you are killed?"

    "I won't be," he answers without a moments hesitation.

    Well, he is certainly confident, you will grant him that.

    Thaïs stands her ground, speaking for you both, "I am afraid we are still not interested."

    "We will see," he leans forward, "Think about my offer and get back to me. The King is bound by a great many restrictions, I am bound by none. Even if it is only to help the Kingdom you can do far more good working for me than for my father."

    "Yes, well, we will think about it," you reply, "But that is not why we came here. We came to ask you about the attack on the Pathfinder prison and the escape of the necromancer held there."

    He waves off your question, now slightly annoyed at your repeated refusals, "Yes, that business. I should think it is obvious, Wenzel talked. Maybe a few of my half siblings are compromised as well but I doubt it, it was Wenzel, the Weasels have been infiltrated by at least a dozen cultists though the only one I can place for certain is one of his lieutenants, a dwarf, a mage, Åke by name. He fled into the desert on a false contract, I imagine when my brother realizes he has lost those fifty men he will be quiet upset and I doubt your kidnapping and destruction of his soldiers last night will do much to improve his mood. The Weasels are failing and it may take all of my cunning to keep my brother alive," Timo drops his gaze for the first time since you met him, he sighs, "As for the rest of the infiltrators I have left them in place for now. It is my hope that one of them will contact other agents of the Watcher in the city, if I can get a few people into their social circles I might be able to flush the entire city clean of the vermin in a single night. Far more efficient than chasing down every spy, one at a time I am sure you will agree."

    So Wenzel is responsible, but not directly?

    That seems believable and it does look like Timo has things well in hand here; provided, that is, that he is telling you the truth.

    You could try to press him either through magical or mundane means or you could accept his account of events as given and report your findings to the King.

    The question is, what to do?



    1. Timo: He claims that Wenzel is ultimately responsible for the attack on the Pathfinder prison but that his brother did not do it on purpose. If you believe him then this information will mark the end of your investigation. If however, you think he is lying you might be able to do something about it (Feel free to ask Timo more questions if you wish, he will likely entertain them):

    A) You do nothing, you believe Timo or at least you have no desire to antagonize him.

    B) You attempt to interrogate him using your magic. Thaïs will keep him occupied while you attempt a surface reading of his thoughts, you will have to be careful to avoid alerting him.

    C) You throw caution to the wind and begin a mental assault. If he is as well connected as he says then you will take any useful information from him by force. You will then attempt to reconstruct his mind minus a few details (like your attack).

    D) You will attempt to abduct him from the Silver Flame. Once you bring him to a safe house you can interrogate him at your leisure.

    E) You politely ask him "and what if you are cultist?". Hopefully that should provoke some sort of reaction.

    F) freeform


    2. Timo's offer: As much as you would hate to abandon Albrecht, the King has used you on a number of occasions and his son might be able to provide you with more opportunities and freer access to assets. Do you except Timo's offer?

    A) No, you work for the King and you will not change that now.

    B) Yes, Timo can do more for you than his father has and freer access to resources and information should make your task easier to accomplish.

    C) You agree to Timo's proposal with the intention of playing both sides toward your own ends.

    D) freeform


    3. Activities for the Day: Your meeting will be done by mid morning at the latest. You will then have the rest of the day to do as you wish. What do you want to do?

    A) Acquire replacement armour and weapons. If you are going to head into a warzone tomorrow then you think it might be wise to look into replacing your missing equipment.

    i. Go see the Brothers Dietfried. While you do need replacement equipment you also would like more energon cubes and mandrake roots, resources that are becoming very scarce in the city. If anyone can get some for you it will be the Brothers and they likely still have at least a few pieces of magical equipment you might find a use for.

    ii. You will go to the Royal Armoury and have them acquire human sized armour to refit for your needs. They will likely be able to enchant it slightly.

    iii. You will go to the Royal Armoury and commission custom suits. They will have to work night and day and you will have to postpone leaving the city for another day but you will get truly unique armour.

    iv. You will proceed as in Aiii but you will not wait for the armour to be finished. You will try to do without and collect it on your return. The smiths and enchanters will have plenty of time to create the best suits they can conceive of.

    v. freeform - If you can think of another potential source of replacement equipment feel free to suggest it.

    B) You will check in with your recruitment team. They should be organizing your new mercenaries today and there may be benefits to checking in on them before they return this evening.

    C) You feel the need to go get a drink and that is what you will do. You will take a small escort of no more than five and find a bar to spend the afternoon in. Who knows, you might encounter something or someone interesting.

    D) You will pay a visit to Wenzel's captured captain and see what information you can uncover.

    E) freeform


    The Seekers:

    4)'Additional assets': The Old Man has offered to bring additional mages with him to the south; twenty extra battle mages, all experienced but highly unstable. Do you take him up on his offer?

    A) Yes, you could use the extra hands (you will gain an additional twenty battle mages and twenty guardians).

    B) No, if they are that dangerous you do not want to have to rely on them in a warzone.

    C) Ten extra hands. The more stable 10 out of these 20.


    5) The 'Master': The Old Man is working for someone but refuses to tell you as he doe not trust you. You could acquire that information but it will likely cost in one way or another.

    A) You leave the issue alone, you do not need to know everyone that the Seekers deal with. It is likely none of your business.

    B) You agree to undergo the ritual required to join the Seekers as dangerous as it might be, you think you need to know who the Seekers serve.

    C) You challenge the Old Man to a magical duel. It need not be to the death but with magic it is at times unavoidable. If you win you will gain his position and as the new leader of the Seekers you would be entitled to know who the Circle deals with.

    i. You challenge him to a one on one fight, just you and him.

    ii. You challenge him to a two on two fight, you and Thaïs will duel the Old Man and a Seeker of his choice.

    D) freeform


    The Boys:

    6) Ajiak's position. Ajiak did not exactly make the best impression. You could likely replace him with someone a bit more seasoned or you could leave him in charge of the Boys and see if he grows into the role with Berty's tutoring.

    A) Replace him:

    i. Replace him with Skite. Your Blackrock officer has far more experience leading soldiers in battle.

    ii. Replace him with Berty. As things stand Berty will be training the Boys anyway so you might as well make it official.

    iii. Replace him with the girls. It will be a good learning experience for them.

    B) You do not replace Ajiak. You will give him a chance to grow into the role.


    7) Housing: It would be cheaper to let them continue squatting in the ruins of their homes but it is not terribly safe, for your new mercenaries or the city, and it is not terribly conducive to transforming them into actual soldiers.

    A) You leave them in the slums (0 WPs)

    B) You will send them to Fort Blackrock to be billeted there. The fort may have to be renovated somewhat to accommodate the extra soldiers though and you will have to have Albrecht recall some of the soldiers stationed there. (-10 WPs)

    C) You purchase the Eberhardts' old compound. You will use it to billet your forces in the city. It might be useful to have a presence in the capital and a small fortress right at the heart of the Kingdom could certainly be useful. It will cost you though (-100 WPs for a sizable fort of modern construction, it will also cost you an additional 5 WPs a month).

    D) You will send them to Fort Blackrock to be billeted there. You will have Albrecht recall some of the guards, mostly Hesse's, tilting the balance of forces in the Fort in favor of Blackrock mercenaries and Albrecht guards. However, you will have Hesse and his champion stay at the Fort under Argus' supervision. The fort may have to be renovated somewhat to accommodate the extra soldiers, though (-10 WPs)

    E) You will talk to Black Arrows about vacant properties for sale in their area. (cost: unknown)

    F) freeform


    8) The children: Ajiak did not mention the sixty children the Boys have within their numbers. You have no intention of sending them in battle but you do have a few options available to you.

    A) Give the to the dwarven nobility. They often hire children on as career servants. The thought is that if you get them young enough you can train them however you like. The children will not be made into slaves and they will be generally safe even if they are not always well treated.

    B) Keep the children. When you hired the Boys you hired all of them and you feel the children are your responsibility now as well. You will see to it that they receive proper educations and training.

    i. You will let Berty manage them. It might be a lot for your tactician to handle so he will likely have to hire five or six assistants to help him cope but you think the children will benefit from it. (8 WPs monthly)

    ii. You will hire new tutors for them, Berty already has enough to deal with. (14 WPs monthly)

    iii. You will provide food, shelter and clothing for them but you will leave their education up to their parents or whoever happens to be looking after them. (2 WPs monthly)

    iv. You will hire new Berty-approved tutors for them. Berty already has enough to deal with, but the Boys are his idea and he should have a say in how they will be run, up to and including the handling of irregulars. (14 WPs monthly)

    v. Send Lyssa and Berty to take a look at them. Hire tutors according to their talents.

    vi. freeform

    C) freeform


    The Greys:

    9. The Lady Grey: She tried to kill you, or make you kill each other. Granted she does bring significant resources to the table and she was acting on faulty information but she is certainly dangerous and it might not be worth your time to keep her around.

    A) You keep her as a partner. Everyone makes mistakes and she is hardly the first member of your group that has tried to kill you. You will forgive her and allow her to keep her position, she may be grateful.

    B) You demote her. You won't throw her out but you will use her actions as an excuse to remove her as a partner. Hard to say whether her pride will let her accept such a deal though.

    C) You cast her out. She is too dangerous to have around and you are certain you can use her actions as an excuse to remove her and keep the Greys.

    D) You will have her killed. A bit cold admittedly but she did try to kill you, turnabout is fair game.

    E) The deal is off but you will fine/extort her for money.

    F) You keep her as a partner after a thorough mental investigation.

    G) You keep her as a partner. You will try to get into her good graces by offering her advice on how to win Ceannard over. Hopefully, it will give you some measure of control over her and, more importantly, her company.

    H) Assure her you wont act against her, but tell her that you will remember her attempt to manipulate or harm you. So long as she behaves you will treat her as a equal but should she try to undermine you again you will react in a manner proportional to her actions.

    I) freeform


    10. The Arrows: You had the idea to hire on the Arrows to train the Greys into a respectable fighting force. You will need to talk to Ceannard when he arrives but he should reach the city well before you have to leave.

    A) You will talk to Ceannard about working more closely with the Arrows in the future. (cost unknown)

    B) You will not bother Ceannard about this, Berty and you Blackrock veterans should be able to manage just fine.


    11. You seem to have gained a hefty sum of money which might help you pay off your loan to Goldsmiths. Do you want to make a pertial payment?

    A) Yes (specify the amount).

    B) No, you will keep the money on hand.


    12. You think you might have Timo look into the 'wyrm of flame and shadow' at your request, but it would necessitate telling him where you have heard about it and why are you concerned with it.

    A) You will tell him about Jan's tablet, and tell him about who you suspect the mentioned individuals are.

    B) You do not pursue this line of investigation. If it interests you, you will find it on your own eventually.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
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  12. Fangshi Arcane

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

    Party Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Derryth:

    Lost Items:
    - An Elemental Tome
    - A Worn Book: Golems for dummies
    - Half a dozen unsorted spell pages
    - Gullveig's tome
    - Five Spellbooks written in the language of the Spider Goddess


    Organizational Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    WPs gained:
    - 500 WPs from hiring the Greys
    - 300 WPs on loan from Mayer in exchange for your books, he will not try to resell them unless you die.

    New monthly expenses:
    1. -5 WPs for Ajiak's salary
    2. -20WPs to maintain the Boys
    3. -30WPs to maintain the Greys (Lady Grey brings in +100WPs from her own properties in the Kingdom so if you keep her happy this expense will be negated and you will get a net +70WPs a month from the Greys)
    4. -20WPs for your new grenadiers
    5. -10WPs for your new warriors
    6. -20WPs for your pair of mortars
    7. -20WPs for your new legionnaires
    8. 45WPs monthly on Mayers's loan, it will accumulate over time and it will have to be paid off in full but you can postpone payments on the loan.

    Personnel Gained:

    Named:
    1. Lady Áine Grey - Junior Partner
    2. Ajiak the Mason - Officer

    Unnamed:
    1. Sixty Grey Arrows, novice human archers with top rate equipment
    2. Four hundred and sixty dwarves, armed with makeshift equipment
    3. Forty dwarven grenadiers
    4. Forty dwarven warriors
    5. Two light mortars (single dwarf teams)
    6. Twenty human former legionnaires


    *New Section added: Your account in the Dreaming (measured in IPs)


    Rolls:

    Show Spoiler
    Alright, rolls...

    A lot happened so there was a lot to roll for.

    The update opened with a trip to the Seekers so I will start there.

    First off, there were a few observation/tracking checks to see if your group could figure out the path taken to the Seekers compound through the dark. You all failed sadly so you did not learn the route.

    At the same time you had a couple difficult checks to see if you could persuade the silent guards to talk to you. Again you failed though Taide did come close a few times.

    You had a couple easy rolls and a difficult one when you where waiting with the Old Man's apprentices. You passed two out of three rolls there.

    Once you reached the Old Man there was a small combat encounter. You were not in any really danger here, the Old Man alone was powerful enough to stop the demons but if he had botched all of his rolls then you would have had to defend yourselves somehow (it also would have been a much shorter update in all likelihood).

    Following that you had a single set of rolls to try and get information out of the Old Man. The ladies together did about average so you receive the standard info package found in the update.

    On your way back to the Palace I rolled three sets of rolls for various parties. All the sets were failed but I can not go into details yet.

    Once back at the palace you dealt with the meetings. Ajiak had a couple willpower/charisma tests to keep from making a fool of himself in front of his personal heroes. He failed miserably. :lol:

    Lady Grey had a number of checks to try and influence you the way Ceannard did in Mind Games. These were quite difficult checks but she rolled even worse than she should have. At the same time Derryth had intuition/perception checks to determine if she could catch onto what was happening. With her extraordinary WIS and good eyes she passed them with ease.

    There were a few CON related drinking tests after that and the ladies managed to easily beat Lady Grey due to their alcoholic tendencies superior experience. Grey had a few rolls to determine how much she would spill while drunk, you should be able to tell from the update how she rolled on that.

    Following your meetings there were two large sets of rolls that played out in parallel.

    Your three mages went off to open the gate to the Dreming while Berty staged his ambush.

    Berty's rolls revolved around killing the Weasels and setting up the trap which he did exceptionally. He then had to roll against the Weasel captain as she tried to escape his trap. She managed to get about half way back to safety fighting through military ambushes and rival street gangs to get there.

    Your mages had to roll to stay focused. Taide and Lys had to keep feeding Derry power while Derryth had to make a number of WIS/willpower checks against the creatures in the void (just like last time). The basic checks were easier this time as Derryth has already experienced these temptations before and she is stronger now then she was before as well. I did throw in a final randomized roll though to see if anything or anyone more interesting would take notice of her. Some of the options would have been good, some would have been bad, the one you got was... interesting.

    Hallr also had a few rolls to see if he would wake up and cause problems. Worse case scenario he would have wound up pulling a Pathfinder or two in with him and you would have had the option to either claim the credit for them or sweet talk Morpheus into giving them back. He stayed asleep though so things went essentially as planned.

    In your meeting with Timo there were a handful of rolls both before and after the Prince entered the room.

    Other than that your other teams rolled numerous times on both days for a variety of things and there were also a handful of rolls for events in the city and beyond.

    That should be everything but if you feel I missed something just ask and I will see if I can say anything about it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
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  13. Absinthe Prophet

    Absinthe
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    3,169
    Votes:
    1 Not B-D. Timo is certainly aware of us being mentalists with appropriate precautions and we know violence is a bad idea in the Silver Flame.
    2A. Albrecht already gives us a free hand to do our shit and trust is worth more than riches. Not to mention we have no real intention of subordinating ourselves to anyone.
    4C. Ten extra hands. The more stable 10 out of these 20.
    5A. I have no intention of working for him (B) or getting killed by him (C).
    7B.
    8Biii.
    9E. Deal is off but we fine/extortion her for money. I didn't like Grey Arrows then and I like them even less now. They're too much of a liability. I'd rather partner with Ceannard and keeping her around is just gonna fuck shit up. There's a reason why he never bothered to return her affections.
    10A. I want to partner with the Black Arrows.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  14. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,052
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Hmm. Quick thought so far.

    Timo is a true weasel, unlike that Wenzel pretender. He has the motive, he has the means, and he put himself in a position where he is indispensable for the kingdom's survival. I would not abandon Albrecht that we came to know and slowly learned how to work with for several month in favor of his son that we've only met today. But I have a strong desire to bite just to see how far Timo's ambitions go.

    Even though being a head of a powerful mage order is sweet, I would not challenge the Old Man without knowing the first thing about him, or anything about how the Seekers fight. Besides, we already have an order of our own. I am interested in finding out more about them, but not to the extent I would risk everything just for that.

    Their additional assets can go to hell. I imagine even the mages we have already signed up might prove less-than-stable. We are yet to meet a completely sane individual among them, ourselves included. :lol:

    Ajiak is the leader the Boys chose, and The Boys are largely Berty's toy. He can run them however he wishes. If Berty thinks he can make Ajiak into a proper leader, I will let him try.

    We can house the Boys in the Fort, and displace some of Hesse's guards there. But keep Hesse and his champion at the Fort. We want the influental cultists under Argus' supervision and out of the capital that is on the brink of the rebellion no thanks to the Goddess-supported Eberhardts.

    The kids are our future. Baltika's dream is about to come true. Not only we can have our personal army, but we can have our agents permeating all spheres of the Kingdom eventually. The better education they will get, the richer our opportunities will be.

    As for the Lady Grey, I am unwilling to resort to drastic actions just yet. I would suggest putting her on a probation, with an incentive to behave nicely towards us, which may or may not involve Ceannard (or a death sentence). We can't quite part with her money now that we have hired new staff with it, and robbing her of her property does not sit well with me. To take everything from a person and to leave them alive is asking for trouble. It's like the situation with Trakk, except we are at least trying to fix that one. Maybe it would be better not to let it come to that in the first place.

    I will have to think about the exact terms of how to deal with it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  15. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    24,370
    1. Timo: He claims that Wenzel is ultimately responsible for the attack on the Pathfinder prison but that his brother did not do it on purpose. If you believe him then this information will mark the end of your investigation. If however, you think he is lying you might be able to do something about it (Feel free to ask Timo more questions if you wish, he will likely entertain them):

    A) You do nothing, you believe Timo or at least you have no desire to antagonize him.


    2. Timo's offer: As much as you would hate to abandon Albrecht, the King has used you on a number of occasions and his son might be able to provide you with more opportunities and freer access to assets. Do you except Timo's offer?

    A) No, you work for the King and you will not change that now.


    3. Activities for the Day: Your meeting will be done by mid morning at the latest. You will then have the rest of the day to do as you wish. What do you want to do?

    A) Acquire replacement armour and weapons. If you are going to head into a warzone tomorrow then you think it might be wise to look into replacing your missing equipment.

    i. Go see the Brothers Dietfried. While you do need replacement equipment you also would like more energon cubes and mandrake roots, resources that are becoming very scarce in the city. If anyone can get some for you it will be the Brothers and they likely still have at least a few pieces of magical equipment you might find a use for.


    D) You will pay a visit to Wenzel's captured captain and see what information you can uncover.



    4)'Additional assets': The Old Man has offered to bring additional mages with him to the south; twenty extra battle mages, all experienced but highly unstable. Do you take him up on his offer?

    A) Yes, you could use the extra hands (you will gain an additional twenty battle mages and twenty guardians).



    5) The 'Master':
    C) You challenge the Old Man to a magical duel. It need not be to the death but with magic it is at times unavoidable. If you win you will gain his position and as the new leader of the Seekers you would be entitled to know who the Circle deals with.

    ii. You challenge him to a two on two fight, you and Thaïs will duel the Old Man and a Seeker of his choice.


    6) Ajiak's position.
    B) You do not replace Ajiak. You will give him a chance to grow into the role.


    7) Housing:
    C) You purchase the Eberhardts' old compound. You will use it to billet your forces in the city. It might be useful to have a presence in the capital and a small fortress right at the heart of the Kingdom could certainly be useful. It will cost you though (-100 WPs for a sizable fort of modern construction, it will also cost you an additional 5 WPs a month).


    8) The children:
    B) Keep the children.
    iii. You will provide food, shelter and clothing for them but you will leave their education up to their parents or whoever happens to be looking after them. (2 WPs monthly)


    9. The Lady Grey:
    E) You keep her as a partner after a thorough mental investigation.


    10. The Arrows:
    A) You will talk to Ceannard about working more closely with the Arrows in the future. (cost unknown)
     
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  16. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,052
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    I don't trust Timo that much. He set his office in the likeness of his father's Palace, he views himself as a right hand of whatever regime will come to pass, and he basically told us that he does not hold the best interests of his father at heart. I mean, if he tells us he can be more useful to us than Albrecht who, by all means, offered us all resourses he could including Timo's expertise, if need be, that practically admits that he is holding out on his dad. Which, considering the state of the Kingdom, is a bit alarming.

    There is also his conviction that he can't be killed. I am reminded of Lyssa's tale.
    Might be nothing, might be something.

    He also seems to refer to Rand as to the 'thorn in his side'. That makes him not an ally of the Spider Goddess, but the ones who attacked the prison served the Watcher, not her. Still, Timo should be bright enough to understand that no living being can get what they want by serving the Watcher.

    Wenzel is too convenient of a scapegoat, though. I guess we will need to interrogate his captain or captains before we can conclude our investigation.

    I don't want to do anything magic-related with Timo, but I would like to get him to open up a bit. Maybe he will let something slip. Maybe we should ask him for a demonstration of his 'superiority' before his father, as far as resourses or information are concerned. Even though I have no intention of leaving Albrecht's side, I would like to keep Timo hopeful that he would be able to catch us.

    I will probably need to know more about him before I attempt this. I will come up with a list of questions for him. For the moment I merely do not wish to close the investigation just because he said the case is solved.

    As for the Seekers' agenda, it is interesting to note that the demons the Old Man interrogated were 'the creatures of flame and shadow'. It is not the first time we've heard of such a creature, either.
    So it might be a reasonable assumtion that, since Morpheus is a Demon Prince and the Spider Goddess is, well, a goddess, that this wyrm is also a ruler of some sort, and may be the one the little demons serve. He might be the enemy of the Old Man's Master.

    Who would that be? I have no idea, but I do not think it is the Watcher, or the Spider Goddess.

    I think the reason he distrusts us is that we might be involved with this crowd, Morpheus and TFM specifically. He might think that we are connected to the wyrm as well. If he is opposing them, though, would it not make him one of the 'good' guys?

    I guess we need to wait and see.

    As for Lady Grey, she seems to be just as she appears - a jealous, clingy noble with a spiteful streak. I bet she and Christine would hit it off marvelously. She is not very competent, but very earnest and eager to get what she wants. And I think we have what she wants. The woman has the right idea - if she makes herself into a mercenary captain, Ceannard might notice her. The problem for her would be to really become a captain, a professional, and not just a hero wannabe. And to cut down on the stalker tendencies. Those would scare most men away safe for the most dedicated tigerbros. :lol:

    Honestly, I do not know if there is anything to discover by trying to get inside of her brain. We just got her drunk and she told us her sob life story. What else is there to be said?

    I kind of think we might be able to play a matchmaker between her and Ceannard and incorporate both of their organizations under our banner, but she will have to work her noble ass for it, too. I guess we should start by determining whether she is good at anything at all, and directing her energy there.

    Okay, so first the votes that I think can be covered without dwelling on them too much.

    3) Activities for the Day: Your meeting will be done by mid morning at the latest. You will then have the rest of the day to do as you wish. What do you want to do?
    Ai) Go see the Brothers Dietfried. While you do need replacement equipment you also would like more energon cubes and mandrake roots, resources that are becoming very scarce in the city. If anyone can get some for you it will be the Brothers and they likely still have at least a few pieces of magical equipment you might find a use for.

    4) 'Additional assets': The Old Man has offered to bring additional mages with him to the south; twenty extra battle mages, all experienced but highly unstable. Do you take him up on his offer?
    B) No, if they are that dangerous you do not want to have to rely on them in a warzone.

    We have refused the Bastards and the Cocks because we didn't want troublemakers with us, betting on a small army of elites rather than on brute force. Why would we want insane mages with us now is beyond me.

    5) The 'Master': The Old Man is working for someone but refuses to tell you as he doe not trust you. You could acquire that information but it will likely cost in one way or another.
    A) You leave the issue alone, you do not need to know everyone that the Seekers deal with. It is likely none of your business.

    As much as I like stuffing my nose into everyone else's business, none of the ways of further inquiry appeal to me. I will drop it for now.

    6) Ajiak's position. Ajiak did not exactly make the best impression. You could likely replace him with someone a bit more seasoned or you could leave him in charge of the Boys and see if he grows into the role with Berty's tutoring.
    B) You do not replace Ajiak. You will give him a chance to grow into the role.

    He is cute. I guess here is one person who would be glad to hear we aren't nobles.

    7) Housing: It would be cheaper to let them continue squatting in the ruins of their homes but it is not terribly safe, for your new mercenaries or the city, and it is not terribly conducive to transforming them into actual soldiers.
    D) Freeform. You will send them to Fort Blackrock to be billeted there. You will have Albrecht recall some of the guards, mostly Hesse's, tilting the balance of forces in the Fort in favor of Blackrock mercenaries and Albrecht guards. However, you will have Hesse and his champion stay at the Fort under Argus' supervision. The fort may have to be renovated somewhat to accommodate the extra soldiers, though (-10 WPs)

    8) The children: Ajiak did not mention the sixty children the Boys have within their numbers. You have no intention of sending them in battle but you do have a few options available to you.
    Biv) Freeform. You will hire new Berty-approved tutors for them. Berty already has enough to deal with, but the Boys are his idea and he should have a say in how they will be run, up to and including the handling of irregulars. (14 WPs monthly)

    9) The Lady Grey: She tried to kill you, or make you kill each other. Granted she does bring significant resources to the table and she was acting on faulty information but she is certainly dangerous and it might not be worth your time to keep her around.
    G) Freeform. You keep her as a partner. You will try to get into her good graces by offering her advice on how to win Ceannard over. Hopefully, it will give you some measure of control over her and, more importantly, her company.

    If we make something worthwhile out of this noblewoman, maybe everyone will be able to get what they want. Since Ceannard values professionals, this may give her an incentive to work towards becoming one. Clearly, she does not know what the word mean... yet.

    10. The Arrows: You had the idea to hire on the Arrows to train the Greys into a respectable fighting force. You will need to talk to Ceannard when he arrives but he should reach the city well before you have to leave.
    A) You will talk to Ceannard about working more closely with the Arrows in the future. (cost unknown)

    Of course. I have at least 3 jobs ready for him. Who else would we take to oversee our agreement with Nanshe about TFM? Not the Seekers or the dwarves, that's for sure, and I have no intention of walking inside ghol encampment alone. :)

    But I also want to leave him in the city afterwards, to see to the training of the Greys, and to work for Albrecht as an independent police force, separate from the Pathfinders, that Albrecht can openly fund. The King has the whole treasury at his disposal, and only a handful of trusted people around. I think both sides would find such a deal extremely appealing.

    And who knows? Maybe Ceannard's connections with the underworld will allow him to catch Eberhardt himself. That is the man who was not afraid of them even when they were at a peak of their power.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
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  17. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    8,169
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    This might bite me in the rear at some point, but for this choice, I'll back Nevill's votes. +M
     
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  18. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2014
    Messages:
    619
    I am also fine with Nevill's selections.
     
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  19. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,493
    1. Timo: He claims that Wenzel is ultimately responsible for the attack on the Pathfinder prison but that his brother did not do it on purpose. If you believe him then this information will mark the end of your investigation. If however, you think he is lying you might be able to do something about it (Feel free to ask Timo more questions if you wish, he will likely entertain them):
    E) Politely ask him "and what if you are cultist?".

    2. Timo's offer: As much as you would hate to abandon Albrecht, the King has used you on a number of occasions and his son might be able to provide you with more opportunities and freer access to assets. Do you except Timo's offer?
    A) No, you work for the King and you will not change that now.

    3. Activities for the Day: Your meeting will be done by mid morning at the latest. You will then have the rest of the day to do as you wish. What do you want to do?

    A) Acquire replacement armour and weapons. If you are going to head into a warzone tomorrow then you think it might be wise to look into replacing your missing equipment.
    i. Go see the Brothers Dietfried. While you do need replacement equipment you also would like more energon cubes and mandrake roots, resources that are becoming very scarce in the city. If anyone can get some for you it will be the Brothers and they likely still have at least a few pieces of magical equipment you might find a use for.

    D) You will pay a visit to Wenzel's captured captain and see what information you can uncover.


    4)'Additional assets': The Old Man has offered to bring additional mages with him to the south; twenty extra battle mages, all experienced but highly unstable. Do you take him up on his offer?

    A) Yes, you could use the extra hands (you will gain an additional twenty battle mages and twenty guardians).

    5) The 'Master':
    A) screw this we dont need that


    6) Ajiak's position.
    B) Berthy will be in charge of their training either way, we will see how situation evolves.

    7) Housing:
    D) Talk to Black Arrows about those vacant magazines. > C) i expect that there is some hook here. Dunno if good or bad one.

    8) The children:
    B) Keep the children.
    iv Send Lyssa and Berthy to take a look at them. Hire tutors according to their talents. (I expect that we can convince King to get us a retired diplomat, normal spy or pathfinder to nurture certain talents of young generation if necessary. People who can get good in logistic would be valuable to. Its boring, but useful. Personally would like to send some to Academy to get engeniering training might lead to interesting projects like better army grade equipment later on. Organisation like our need big healthy lump of logistic, founding and human resources).

    9. The Lady Grey:
    F) Assure her we wont act against her, but tell her that we will remember it and so should Grey. Further ... problems? might end up badly. For example her partner status might be terminated. Her own behaviour, self-improvement and opinion of co-workers will be taken into consideration. (She will be less likely to annoy others if it might be detrimental to her)


    10. The Arrows:
    A) You will talk to Ceannard about working more closely with the Arrows in the future. (cost unknown)
     
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  20. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,052
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Fangshi, I want to go to Brothers Dietdried, but I also want to see the captured Weazel captain this evening, or tonight, or whenever we have time available. What should I vote for?

    We have gained 800 WPs due to the recent choices. Who do we address to make a partial loan payment? Mayer?

    I will add another choice then.

    11. You seem to have gained a hefty sum of money which might help you pay off your loan to Goldsmiths. Do you want to make a partial payment?
    A) Yes (specify the amount).
    B) No, you will keep the money on hand.


    And vote for 11.A(800).

    Would our money picture look like this then?
    Show Spoiler
    Wealth on hand: 144 WPs

    Loans:
    200 WPs
    at 0.1% (flat) monthly interest rate from the House of Albrecht
    200 WPs at 20% (compound) monthly interest rate from the Goldsmith Guild
    300 WPs at 15% (flat) monthly interest rate from Mayer

    Income:
    The Dwarven Kingdom:
    +380 WPs monthly

    Expenses:
    The Dwarven Kingdom:
    -330 WPs monthly

    Personnel and Property:
    -245 WPs monthly

    Loans:
    -85 WPs monthly
    -40 WPs - interest on the loan from the Goldsmiths (must be paid) [compounds]
    -45 WPs - interest on the loan from Mayer (payment can be postponed) [flat rate]


    Did we get to see for ourselves what state those 'additional assets' were in? The update mentions us being uncomfortable after our visit to the Seekers, but omits what exactly we did see there. Perhaps you might be able to clarify?

    Are there wounded among the Boys? Ajiak said that there were people who can no longer walk due to the fire. How many are there and what, if anything, could be done for them?

    Since there seems to be a lot of artisans among the Boys - semastresses, shoemakers, masons, smiths and the like... can we make Blackrock self-sufficient with them? We have people to provide our personnel with clothes, maybe even weapons, make repairs, cook food - basically, to turn our fortress into a semi-closed environment, given enough supplies. Would we be able to cut down on maintenance costs for our Fort Blackrock that way?

    Turning Blackrock from just a fort into a fortress-city, now that would be something to see.

    Did we know what exactly Lady Grey tried to accomplish with her ritual? The attempt she made was so poor, I did not quite catch what the purpose of it was supposed to be. Why did we assume that she tried to influence us into killing each other? Granted, she told us that she might have killed us, but do we have a concrete evidence?

    Can she give us a description of that Cuulagh? When did she assign this task to him?

    There is a matter of our personal stalker archer as well, the one that aided us in Melete's workshop or during the TWM's attack on the Palace. I wonder if those may be related.

    Derryth is being a bit more paranoid recently than her usual self. Did the stress of the last few days get to her? How is our sanity doing?
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
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  21. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Added

    Added

    And added.

    Added as well.

    Also added these.

    Well you currently have plans in the afternoon. You are going to go shopping for clothing and see if you can learn anything from that servant Martin discovered. As a result you are currently limited to one activity. If you would like I could give you the option to cancel your shopping trip and forgo the chance to pursue that lead. Then you would be able to pick two things to do today.

    Yes, Mayer can handle it if you would like.

    Sure, I can add that as well.

    Looks about right as long as you make the payment before the first month is out (before you leave Myrgard to head south).

    Well they were completely mad and you found that unsettling. Some laughed, some cried, others screams and they all had a strange look about them, like they knew a great secret and they envied your ignorance. But they were not particularly violent or anything and none of them attacked you. Most of them simply sat by themselves or in small groups and talked to themselves and the shadows around them.

    The chambers they inhabited were also heavily warded and a full company of guards in lead lined armour watched them carefully.

    Yes, a large number of them suffer from scars of one form or another. The result of the fire and the fighting that occurred around Mel's workshop that night. Maybe fifty in total suffer from wounds serious enough to impact their performance.

    Well your options are only as limited as your resources and your interest. You could try to gather up enough blood to perform a greater heal ritual on all of the wounded if you really wanted to. That would cure them completely though you do not really have time to do it before you leave without postponing your expedition. Failing that there is not a whole lot you can do besides make them comfortable and let Berty work with them to make them 'useful'.

    Yes, that could work. If you supplied them with raw resources they should be able to supply Blackrock with most of the finished goods it needs. If you are willing to commit enough people to the project you could even try to sell the finished products in Mygard or the Empire for a profit. However to set the operation working you would need to purchase the necessary equipment so there would be a number of upfront costs to deal with. You would also lose a portion of your military pool since the individuals you set to work on this will not be able to train full time.

    So basically it would cost you more in the short to mid term and it would weaken you but it could also pay off with lower maintenance costs and new sources of revenue.

    Doable but it would be very expensive and would likely take years at the very least.

    Derryth is fairly sure she was trying that trick Ceannard used when you first met him.

    A combination of high WIS/intuition and raging paranoia I would suspect. :lol:

    No, you did not really have any concrete evidence, just a feeling. It struct you as similar to the way Ceannard tried to manipulate you only she is far less capable and you are more experienced now. There was a longer version of that scene but the update was long enough as is so I cut it.

    Yes she can, he was actually rather dashing in his own way (though she assures you he was as nothing next to Ceannard). He had a strong, lantern jaw, fine features and amber eyes. He had a moustache which he wore in the fir'Bolg style and held himself with a quiet confidence. He seemed friendly, and expressed a great desire to help her will the object of her affection. He even gave her, her first archery lesson though she was not all that good to be honest.

    Sure, you ask her and she tells you. Fitted together with your own experiences the timeline looks like this:

    Ceannard saved her on Aug 15.
    Ceannard left Myrgard some time after the 16th but before the 25th to see to business in the countryside. (From what you know he was probably working on a contract for Mazzarin in this time)
    You arrived on the 25 or so. Also on the 25th Áine finally gave in to her suspicions and hired the mercenary.
    On the 27th you infiltrated the Arrows compound and rescued Mel, Ceannard was still out of town.
    Ceannard arrived back in the city on the 29th.
    You met Ceannard during your raid on the 31st.
    Two days later you left the city with the Arrows.
    Ceannard has spent most of the rest of that time is your direct service (often outside of the city), which served to feed Áine jealousy of you.

    Lady Grey informs you that she began the process to form the Grey Arrows on the 29th of August after her mercenary reported to her that Ceannard was seeing the two of you (So about two and a half months ago to three months ago, generally in line with the estimate the Large Officer gave you in his note.)

    SAN is a hidden stat, can't tell you how high it is.

    The last few days have been quite stressful on her and the nature of your investigation is one that encourages paranoia, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the real conspiracies from the imagined ones. She has also been trying to do a lot in very little time: organizing an army, an expedition and an investigation all at once. She would probably benefit from finding a way to relax a little or get rid of some tension.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
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  22. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,052
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Alright. Guys, if we don't want to pay 160 WPs for nothing, I think we should settle most of this draconian debt right here. Then we would be able to complete the payment to Goldsmiths in 2 or 3 months, and start repaying Mayer.

    I would like to remind everyone that there will be no warded chambers or extra guards if we take them with us. Let's leave the inmates in the Spellhold where whey belong, ok? Taking them is just being greedy. Again.

    It is just a way to utilize those resourses that can't be directly translated into military strength.

    For now I am quite happy to have what amounts to a small settlement under our rule. It's not a private Empire yet, but it is a start. :)

    So he made his report before we have actually met Ceannard on 31st of August. Basically, he lied. I wonder if his intentions were to pit Lady Grey against us, or there was something else.

    The probability that he is our helpful stalker guy is quite low, then. A shame. I wanted to meet him.

    Show Spoiler
    Then again...

    Maybe he was just that dumb and didn't understand what it would lead to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
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  23. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    8,169
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    Yeah, I'm all for settling what debt we can.
     
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  24. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    3,260
    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1)A
    2)Can't we work with both? Play both sides against the middle.
    3)Aii The royal armory was an option before. I want to do that.
    4)C
    5)A
    6)B
    7)B
    8)Bii
    9)A
    10)A
    11)A(highest proposed option that will win)
     
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  25. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,052
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Hm. I can't help but suspect Timo. Even though I don't think he is working for the Watcher, he may be the source of the information leak nonetheless. First, he has a motive - if his brother Reinhard is killed in a hopeless battle against the hordes of enemies, Timo is the next successor to the throne. And second, the more muddled the waters, the better off the schemers are. A lot of people may lose everything if Albrecht fails to steady the situation, but Timo has his bases covered.

    His speech pattern is strange, too. "It is a pleasure to meet the two women most directly responsible for the preservation of my father's House". Not 'my House', or 'our House', but 'my father's'.

    It might be his arrogance speaking, or it might be an eccentricity that is common to the Albrecht bloodline, but I feel he is worth checking out. I also think there is no way we would outsmart a politician like him and make him admit anything.

    Which brings me to the next question. Would anyone be interested in attempting the Infiltration ritual if we manage to lure Timo away from the safety of the Shadow Flame? We don't need to be breaking him or otherwise antagonize him, hell, we can probably spike his drink and do everything while he is unconscious - the question is, do we think it might be worth it?

    I'd do it. I would use one of Lyssa's foci to boost Derryth's willpower and do it alone (because I don't want four minds in one head again), with Thais as a lifeline and Caoilainn as a messenger between the reality and the mindworld. But how many of you bros would be interested in that?
     
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