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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    He can try to get it for you before you leave tomorrow. If he succeeds I will put it in the update since you will have a chance to talk to him in the next update if you want.

    The this was careful. It did not leave much of a qualitative impression on Derryth's mind beyond a slight hiss and the impression of relaxed and self-confident power. Unfortunately that general description fits three quarters of the beings Morpheus knows. You will have to learn more before he can help you.

    It will always be messy as the gate is built from corpses (death being a close relative of sleep and all that), the blood was simply there to help the three of you channel the spell. If you had more skilled mages on hand you could probably do without it and if you get strong enough you could open it by yourself (Mazzarin would have no problem doing so for example).

    It would depend on how Derryth want to run things. Technically there are two agreements.

    The first is between Morpheus and the Lost as a group, 2000IPs for the TWM. As the leader of the group Derryth could choose to keep all of those 2000IPs for herself or she could choose to share them equally with Thaïs and Lyssa as her partners in this (even though Lyssa is not a partner in the larger organization). She could also choose to spit it other ways (for example D&T each get 1000IPs and Lys gets nothing). The choice is ultimately yours, not Morpheus'. If you choose to learn something like the Nightmare or musical magic though, Morpheus will teach as many mages in your group as you like but he will want to conduct the lessons as a group. It will be risky for him to do this so he will hold 'class' when he can do so without being caught. That will mean that everyone that wants to learn will have to do so together or not at all.

    Lesser wishes can be spent more freely and tailored to specific individuals without any problem.

    The second agreement is between Morpheus and Nanshe and you are not privy to the details of it.
     
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  2. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    What does the Nightmare of his essentially does?
    Yeah, I know that it allows us to do the same things Morpheus can, only on a lesser scale. But how does it work? Does it project our body into the Dreaming? Do we have to go through the gate portal to be able to utilize it? Or can it be accessed in our sleep? Are we in any danger from the creatures of the Dreaming or other parties while using this spell?
     
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  3. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    You won't know how it really works until he teaches it to you.

    In the form you are most likely to use it, it takes you mind/soul/what-have-you and transports it to the Dreaming (sort of like the rift the Oneiroi managed to open). Once there you would have the same abilites Morpheus has only on a smaller scale.

    No, you do not have to but if you did you would still benefit from knowing the Nightmare as it would grant your physical body the same advantages that it grants your astral/mental one.

    It can not be used when you are sleeping/dreaming. Your waking mind must actually enter the Dreaming.

    Sure, if you do something to anger the wrong individuals, you will not be invulnerable or anything (strictly speaking even Morpheus is not invulnerable or you would not have found him nailed to the floor of the Oneiroi fort). IT is not a liscence to act with impunity.

    And if you do leave your bodies in the physical realm then they will be exposed to any enemies that might wish you harm in your world as one would expect.
     
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  4. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    Adding my vote to break the deadlock:
    8 Bv
    12 A
     
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  5. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Well, that should do it.

    Votes are closed, your winning options are:

    1.A You will not push the issue with Timo either because you trust him or because you do not want to antagonize him.

    2.A You will dance with the one that brung ya, and continue to work with the King.

    3.Ai You will go see the Brothers for supplies and possibly armour or more

    4.B You will not take any extra mages.

    5.A In a show of unanimity you will not poke your nose into the Seekers affairs.

    6.B You will let Ajiak try to grow into his role as leader of the Boys

    7.D The Boys will relocate to Fort Blackrock for training. Some of Hesse's guards will be recalled though the lord himself and his close followers will remain.

    8.Bv Lyssa and Berty will look after the children, they will hire suitable tutors based on their talents.

    9.G You will keep Lady Grey on as your partner and offer her advise on how to win Ceannard's heart.

    10. In another act of unanimity you will contact Ceannard about working more closely with the Arrows.

    11. You will take all the funds you received from acquiring the Greys and all the money Mayer lent you and you will put it towards paying down your debt to the Goldsmiths. (800 WPs)

    12. You will inform Timo about what you learnt from Jan's tablet. You will ask him to look into this Wyrm of 'Flame and Shadow'.

    I might not have time to finish an update before I go out tonight so the update may have to wait until tomorrow morning. It should be out within twenty four hours though as it will be closer to a standard length update than the monstrosity that was chapter 60.

    I will probably post the Interlude twenty four hours or so after chapter 61 goes live just to keep them from bunching up too much.
     
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  6. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Just for curiosity's sake.

    Since we've met the Seekers, I would like to know what kind of services they can offer. I am interested in what tactical choices are available to us, i.e. what kind of magic/spell schools they specialize in. Just a general overview so that we would know what to expect of them.

    Also, what are these 'guardians' they keep mentioning, and how many of them they will bring along?
     
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  7. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    As battle mages they specialize in direct damage spells. They know a lot about elemental magic, particularly metal, wind, water and earth which makes them very effective in the mountains and desert that make up much of the Kingdom. They all have at least a few single target direct damage spells and the more experienced members also have AOE spells. They can also do less directly aggressive things. They can call up sandstorms (which can be useful if quite dangerous), they can draw water from deep under the earth (useful if you can't find an oasis) and they can strengthen the weapons and armour of their guardians as well.

    It is said that the guardians were once human but are human no longer and none know how they came to ally themselves with the Seekers. When you ask the Old Man he merely grins, a lopsided and hideous thing, and reminds you of the two methods by which you can learn their secrets.

    From what you can piece together, the Guardians follow the Seekers and act as their protectors. Each Seeker is paired with a guardian and it is the Guardian's job to ensure their Seeker comes to no harm. Those Guardians who fail take their own lives. You do not know what happen to Seekers that lose their Guardians but they do not seem to die/commit suicide from what little you can tell.

    Physically the Guardians have the proportions of humans (same general height and build and the same number of limbs from what you can tell) but they are also constantly wrapped in heavy cloaks so it is difficult to say what they actually look like. They do not seem to speak or acknowledge instructions from anyone but their own Seeker and they have a vague magical aura about them though they do not strike you as skilled mages in their own right.

    The Old Man tells you not to pay attention to them and not to talk to them; he says no good will come of it. He also attempts to reassure you, telling you that they are expert fighters and will not be a burden on your journey.

    They will bring one for every Seeker as they are paired for life.
     
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  8. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    If Lyssa is looking after the kids with Berty does that mean we are leaving her behind when we go south?
     
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  9. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    That is the only way I can see it working immediately, so yes.

    She will be in charge of the children (and she will likely have to do more of the actual work with them since Berty already has a lot to do) so she will have to go with them, Berty and the Boys to Blackrock.

    Unless, that is, I misunderstood what the option was suggesting.

    I suppose I could add another question to the update I am working on to determine if you wish to postpone the instructions you have given your staff until you are done in the south, but as things stand Berty and Lys will stay behind to work with the Boys while the rest of your people (in the city) are free to stay or go as needed.
     
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  10. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    I am afraid so, since I am definitely taking them both with us. It is more of a long-term plan. Nobody is going to learn anything in a month or two anyway.

    Berty and Lys will have to check the kids in what remains of today and maybe tomorrow and hire someone that would be able to teach them to read and write, which constitutes the basics of any serious education, and maybe hire someone to oversee their physical training.

    Then when we will get back they will have to specialize them according to their preferences.

    Sure, I am for postponing anything that can not be accomplished immediately.

    I assume that moving people to the Fort can be done in our absense, though.
     
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  11. archaen Arbiter Patron

    archaen
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    Lyssa is our animals, our illusionist, and our storm mage. Plus she would start going insane as we are all still wearing the necklaces.
     
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  12. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Alright, I will add three or four questions to the update to handle the issue then.

    If all you want them to do is learn to read and write Albrecht can lend you a few of his clerks (not great teachers but about the best you are going to be able to do in a day unless you want to simply hire the first people that apply for the job) which you will not have to pay at least. Some of the children already can write and read a little anyway.

    I will also include a question where you can explicitly state who you plan to take with you from your available options and that should settle that.
     
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  13. Nevill Arcane

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    What would happen if we were to choose Bii, where we hire the tutors for them? How would it work, considering that we were going to depart the city on the next day?

    It is mostly about making an education program for them. Berty would have warfare in mind, while Lys would - probably - be more concerned with civilian specialities. The goal was to strike a balance between the two and settle on the course of action.

    The actual hiring of the teachers should not necessarily happen in a single day, as our people could see to it without us.
     
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  14. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    I would have rolled twice to see who immediately answered the call for a tutor. You would then have had the choice to choose between them or postpone the issue till you came back.

    Sure, that can work, it will depend on who is left behind to manage it though.
     
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  15. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Wait, so the only Lord that stayed in the city is the one who strongly suggested sending the army away? :?

    Why did he stay if he wanted to leave that bad?
     
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  16. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Short answer is that he did not have a choice.

    Originally the proposal was to have Berg and Reginar lead the army south with Reinhard but Timo did not feel that, that was a good idea and he went to his father with his concerns. He managed to convince Albrecht to lobby to send old Seinsheim instead and the King succeeded.

    The update will be up soon or sometime tonight depending on how things line up.
     
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  17. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Why did Timo do this, if he was 'fairly certain' that Reginar himself is not compromised?

    Why not leave Berg in the city?

    I do not want to criticize his decision, just to understand a rationale behind it.
    How much to contract the elephants and their handlers alone? They are a good weapon of mass trampling, and no one have used them extensively before. Might be a good surprise for our enemies.
     
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  18. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    If Reginar wanted to leave the city it was likely because he was given the idea by someone that is compromised directly or indirectly.

    Timo weighed the chance that the impulse came from a cultist and decided that it probably did so he worked to keep Reginar in the city and out of the South.

    He considers Berg to be less of a threat to the army than Reginar would be. Reginar comes from a military background and is closer to the soldiers than Berg is. They are less likely to follow or listen to Berg than they would be to listen to Reginar if something happens to Reinhard. If the crown prince dies in the south then leadership of the army has to go to a Lord that can be trusted and right now that in Seinsheim (problem is that everyone hates Seinsheim and might not follow him if a more popular and skilled option is available).

    Playing Timo's game is all about balancing risk.

    Maybe about 40 WPs or so.



    The update is done I am just trying to sort out the options properly as there is a lot to decide on before you 'lock' yourself into a path by removing yourself from the capital. As soon as the options are done I will post the update. The update is a bit interesting and gives you a few opportunists people have asked for so hopefully it works well, not too sure about it though to be honest.
     
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  19. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Alright.

    What Timo knows about the heirs of Houses Hesse and Reginar, two of the 'Three Charioteers'? Do they constitute a threat? Does he have an opinion on whether or not they are compromised? Do they have any weight in the Royal Army?

    Well, how skilled is Seinsheim?

    Actually, who are the best tacticians in the dwarven army? Whose advice would be worth listening to?
     
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  20. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Not as far as he can tell. They are just dumb kids in it for honour, glory and riches. They have some pull amongst the younger officer but not enough to impact strategy or anything.

    Seinsheim is skilled enough. He is not brilliant but the old dwarf has seen his fair share of battles and he should be able to manage as long as the generals back him.

    Reinhard is the best tactician they have in the southern army by a fair margin. Timo will give you a list of names that you can check if needed, should Reinhard be dead when you get there. They are mostly as you would suspect, dwarves that have made war their business and practiced it over decades, if not centuries, there are no prodigies in the army that you have to worry about or anything. Honestly if you get there and Reinhard is dead Timo believes your best bet would be either to back Seinsheim or take over yourself. You have scored more impressive victories than three quarters of the Kingdom's officer corps and Berty is quite skilled if you can keep the conflicts small or indirect.


    I think I have all the options down for the update now. If I missed on which could be quite likely then feel free to suggest it and I will add it to the list. I do not have any more time to plug away at it this morning.

    The mechanics post will be up sometime today when I get a moment, there aren't any real surprises as far as rolls go in this one and all the new items appear clearly in the update. Some of your characters did get stat boosts this time though so those will be listed when I have a moment.

    Then I will update the character sheets and organizational sheets and finally I will post the Nanshe Interlude as soon as the vote is closed for this one as I realized that the whole point of one of the questions would be removed if you knew the outcome before voting.
     
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  21. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Chapter 61: Lost and Found

    Today will be different.

    On the first day of your investigation you fought cultists and drunken mercenaries. On the second day you pit yourself against a crime lord, his toughs and the beasts of the void. You have risked your property, your allies, your family, and your body, mind and soul for the King. Yes, today will be different. Today you go shopping and there is no where better than the Brothers Dietfried for all of your needs.

    At least that was true a few weeks ago.

    "Are there really none left in the city?" you ask in disbelief.

    "Well..." the normally jolly, little Dietfried refuses to meet your gaze as you needle him with questions.

    You almost can not believe it.

    "No energon cubes and no mandrake roots," the taller Brother confirms in his customary, cold tone, "Sold the last sack of cubes two days ago."

    The rotund brother attempts to explain. He breaks out every word he can think of to express his shame, and dabs his sweat covered brow occasionally with a worn red handkerchief as he does so, "We are absolutely, positively, entirely and eternally embarrassed at our inability to- to..."

    He looks to his somber brother who rolls his eyes and shrugs, "Every mage in the city has been in here this week and all of them are buying items in bulk. Something has them worried and it is not hard to guess what."

    "What do you mean?" Thaïs quickly enquires.

    The smaller brother wipes his brow again and gives you a pained look, "War. The south is in complete chaos and if that chaos spreads to Myrgard there are many mages that will want to flee with whatever they can salvage."

    He brother smiles. The malice evident behind those lips worries a little part of you, "There are also many that will use the chance to settle old scores. They all crave just a small advantage when setting out to ruin their enemies-"

    The smaller Dietfried cuts in, his eyes wide, "Or! Or to protect themselves from such vicious and unscrupulous characters!"

    The thin brother nods, drawing a box of dust cover vials from behind the counter, he begins to sort them, "That too. We sell to all, no need to worry ourselves with motive as long as the coin is good."

    For a moment it seems like the plump, little Dietfried may just agree but then his great round mouth pops open again, "You-"

    You honestly don't care what the brothers get up to on their own time but you can't have them wasting any more of yours, you speak up, drawing them back to the topic at hand, "Alright, so you are completely out of energon cubes due to demand but why don't you have any mandrake roots?"

    "Lack of demand," they answer together with a nod, "You are the only mages in the city that are interested in them now that the Imperial Embassy is gone and the supply we had on hand for the Heron Guards has been exhausted between that ritual you performed and an interested buyer in the north."

    Great. Just great.

    "Well do you have anything that we might use as substitutes?" you quick-witted partner asks.

    The brothers exchange a knowing look, "Well-" the tall, thin one begins, "Perhaps we could show you the stock we reserve for our most loyal customers."

    The small, round brother nods along, "Yes, I think we might do that," he grins widely, "I doubt they would say anything to the wrong parties-"

    "Any parties," the older brother clarifies, smirking.

    "Right," the now jolly brother agrees, "They would not say a word to anyone given their own secrets I should think."

    If they do have supplies then maybe everything is not as bad as it seems.

    You prod them to continue, "So you do have something then?"

    "Follow me," the wide brother answers and disappears into the backroom as the thin Dietfried motions for you to pass through.

    "Girls!" you call behind you, summoning your bodyguards from behind the racks of swords they have been eyeing, "Come along please."

    With a yelp and a leap they are once more to your sides and the four of you make your way past the counter and into the backroom of the shop.

    You slip past boxes full of trinkets and garbage, artefacts and oddities toward the far corner of the room.

    "This way please!" the merry brother calls to you before plunging down a stairwell, torch in hand.

    You follow as close as you can, down the stairwell and into the narrow tunnels below. Under the earth the Brothers' compound is massive, a network of tunnels and side chambers that likely run out of the city and into the hills beyond. You make a note of how they are structured. If you are walking into some sort of trap you will need to know your way back out again and even if you aren't such tunnels may come in handy in the future if you need to get in or out of the city.

    As much as you try to fight it a substantial part of you feels that you are being lured to your death down here. Into the maws of hungry horrors or the hands of your hated enemies. The feeling builds as Dietfried finally stops at a heavy wooden door and begins to fish about for his keys. The heavy lock makes an audible click as the large iron key frees it from its frame and with a couple grunts your guide has it open wide. He flashes you a final grin and directs you inside.

    You peer inside and part of you is a little disappointed. There are no horrors here, no necromancers or rebels either. The room is simply filled with crates of unmarked goods and one smiling little shopkeeper in the middle of it all.

    He stretches out his arms and beams, "Dear customers! Behold our private collection!"

    The girls are first into the room, weaving in amongst the crates, "Don't touch anything girls!" your better half shouts after them.

    Sound advice for anyone really when dealing with enchanted items, you briefly glance down at your wrist, a reminder of your own lapse months ago.

    Dietfried offers you both a tour and you gratefully accept, far better than poking through boxes at random. As you make your way to the supplies section you strike up a little conversation, "How is our mutual acquaintance doing?" you enquire.

    He does not turn back as he answers, "Good as far as I know. She said to say thank you for the gifts, they should make her job easier. She also said that she will contact you directly through our other mutual friend when you are done," the little merchant laughs, "You know I am having trouble classifying you two. On the face of it I believed you to be Light mages but maybe you are Dark ones instead given your allies."

    "Why can't we be neither?" Thaïs asks the question on your mind.

    The shopkeeper stops and turns, taking you both in, "If you do not pick a side eventually you will be declared the enemy of both."

    You don't necessarily buy that, "What about the Trow?"

    Dietfried shrugs and laughs, "You don't look like Trow to me," he pushes on in silence until you reach a row of large brown crates, "Here we go!" he exclaims with marked enthusiasm.

    Fastening his torch to the wall he cracks open on of the boxes and a pale green light illuminates his face. In moments you realize what you are looking at, pure, uncut energon crystals.

    The merchant winks at you, "Highly illegal to sell but not technically illegal to own. We bring these crystals in and then carve them down by hand to sell them on. The recent troubles have simply exhausted our supply of cut energon cubes but the crystals we buy in bulk to save on costs. In a few weeks we will have cubes back in stock but I suspect that will not help you much. Now, if I turn my back for a moment and you take some crystals that is hardly my fault is it? And so long as you happen to drop some gold while doing so I see no reason to complain about the loss, understand?"

    That certainly is one way to see things. Those crystals could be very useful though they would also be quite wasteful. Generally speaking the only mages that use full crystals are those that need to power Dreams or incredibly complex spells. Using crystals to power your spells would be like throwing away four energon cubes on every casting and their price is sure to be equal to their power. Still, it is not like you have a lot of options.

    Dietfried must be able to sense your scepticism as he nods twice and splits open the next crate. It is filled with bottles, each of which gives off a slight green glow, "Energon dust suspended in alcohol. We have a few clients that love this stuff and it will increase your casting power as long as it is in your system."

    You have heard of mages drinking energon dust before, usually in various grain alcohols, and it rarely ends well. The classic combination of an inflated sense of power and invulnerability combined with lower self control has levelled more than one magical institution. It is also not very healthy if used in large doses or for extended lengths of time. Naturally it is also quite addictive but it is cheaper than the crystals and you can probably hold it down given your experience.

    "Derryth! Thaïs!" the girls shout in unison as they whip around the corner carrying a small box between them. As they race up to you they jostle for position, each attempting desperately to be the one to show you what they found.

    You give them a critical look, "Girls, I thought we told you not to go riffling through the crates?"

    Biliku nods remorsefully, "Yes, you did but-"

    Uttu cuts her off; she is a storm of enthusiasm that can no longer be contained, "We found mandrake roots!"

    Thaïs grins, "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah! They look just like them, ah, I think, maybe," doubt clouds her face for a moment.

    Biliku rallies her sister's flagging confidence, "They are definitely mandrake roots, see."

    They shove the red and black box into your faces. The box is ornate, with heavy bronze and gold working on the lid and sides. In the middle is a large gold 'M' that gleams in the torch light.

    Dietfried takes one good look at the box and shakes his head, "That is not for sale I am afraid. It is being held for another client and he has paid a premium to have it reserved for his use alone."

    "But it is filled with mandrake roots!" Uttu objects, "Can't we just have a couple?"

    The merchant slowly shakes his head, "No, no I can't..."

    "We can pay well for it," you add, trying to get him to give even the barest centimetre of ground.

    "Well, I-" he mutters, lost in thought.

    Your partner gives him another tiny shove, "You could have the contents of that box replaced within weeks could you not?"

    He runs the numbers in his head, "Two, maybe two and a half weeks..."

    "Well then," you grin at him, "If we bought some of them now you could have them replaced easily before anyone catches on. Seems to me that there is easy money to be made here."

    "I-" he squints at the box, "I don't know if that would be wise."

    "We have the Kingdom's treasury behind us," you remind him, "Just name your price," you feel bad about invoking the King this way but those roots might come in handy, at the least you would like the option to purchase some."

    Dietfried answers quietly, "It won't be cheap."

    The price he quotes you is steep but at least it is an option.

    You spend the rest of the morning and a good chunk of the afternoon with the Brothers. Upstairs in their shop, downstairs in their supply tunnels and all through the backrooms. You do not leave a single chamber untouched in your efforts to locate any and all items that may be of use to you in the south. You want as many options available as possible before you render a decision.

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

    "And now as a break from the shopping... more shopping!" Caoilainn is getting cranky it seems.

    "Jealous?" you whisper as you and your partner make the rounds through the third shop today, loading up your poor servants with anything that strikes your fancy.

    "No," she insists, "I just don't like wasting my time."

    "We are not wasting our time," Thaïs mutters under her breathe, before snatching a roll of silk from a seamstress' hand and turning to you, "Oh Derryth! The girls would look magnificent in this come the spring!"

    You examine it closely, turning it over in your hands, "I am not so sure. Is it fine enough?"

    "Oh yes, my ladies," the seamstress attempts to reassure you, "It comes from the finest worms in the west and..."

    In truth, Caoilainn is hardly alone in her opinions. You do not care about any of this and neither does your better half. The girls also pay little attention overall. Uttu enjoys trying on the clothing and playing with the fabrics but she would have just as much fun, or perhaps even more, out at the training field loosing arrows. Biliku on the other hand finds the whole thing ridiculous and a complete waste of time though she dutifully goes through the motions all the same.

    This entire afternoon, and all the smocks, gowns, kirtles, surcoats, hose, girdles, capes, hoods, and bonnets you have tried on are for the benefit of one person. All of the silks, furs, linens, cambrics, hides, and cloth of gold, silver and who-knows-what-else have meant nothing to you. They are props in a production meant to fool but one.

    This one person is not the center of attention, in fact she is never directly acknowledged at all. She is no lady, no banker, no adventurer or soldier. She has never held high office and likely never will. She is not even wholly free as you are quickly learning.

    She is your servant for the day, she is also a spy leaking information to enemies of the Crown. You are certain of this fact, as you have spent the last four hours with her. Casually you have picked through the outskirts of her mind and you have been able to grasp a great deal about her as she works on lacing you up and striping you down, squeezing you in and pushing you out.

    It is exhausting work and it is made all the more so by the constantly shifting and often contradictory orders Thaïs has been feeding her all day. Your partner has focused on distracting your servant while you focused on snatching up whatever stray thoughts might bubble to the surface. It is not a quick method to get answers but it is one that has allowed you to recover enough information to make a decision.

    Where to begin?

    Perhaps with the information given to you would be the best place to start.

    Her name is Thyra, you learnt that when she was introduced to you. She has been with the palace staff for three years, yet more information readily available, and in the time she has been at the palace she has not caused a single incident. It is a shame that she is a traitor as she otherwise seems to do a good job.

    Now for what you have learnt from her thoughts.

    Resentment.

    The very first thing you picked up on was resentment. She resents House Albrecht, she resent you and your people, she resents the Kingdom, she seems to even resent life itself. She is carrying a lot of bitterness with her and it shapes the world of her mind.

    Her mind is city, it is Myrgard, and in many ways it is the complete opposite to Albrecht's. Her city is cold, it is dark, it is in shadow where his is gleaming with light and warmth. The people of her city shuffle back and forth in chains of iron and moonlight, they moan, frigid greetings, to one another as they pass while in his they stride confidently through the world, bathed in the light. In her mind there is no singing and no unnecessary noise; in his, all is life and sound and movement. Thyra's mind is a city, that is true, but it is the corpse of a city and dwelling on it chills you.

    You did your best to peal back that layer of resentment, to try and find the root of her hatred and that is how you struck upon her motive. In one of the great squares of her city there is a monument to fear. A perfect reproduction of Thyra dragged in chains to a debtor's prison. She owes someone a great deal and that is why she resents life in general and her own life in particular.

    Whether or not that is enough to justify treason you did not worry about as you began your search for something that would prove to you that her crimes were real.

    In the crowd of the square, staring up at the monument to Thyra's fear, you found your proof. A single tiny child, almost too small to notice, the sort that is easily overlooked by most but not by you. You have been that child and you know exactly how much knowledge those little people can hold. Out of instinct, or perhaps empathy, you watched the child slipping through the crowd, stealing what it could from the shades around it to survive and you felt a pang of guilt that you could not help the dwarven child. The realization hit you soon after that, that child was Thyra's guilt, covered in the ash of her crimes but inhabited by a certain natural innocence as any beast must be that kills only to live.

    As you pondered on this you noticed a second form nearby, it looked vaguely like a human man but none of its features stuck in your mind. In a city of vague shapes and ill- defined shades this thing was almost non existent but from time to time the child would pass by the creature and deposit her earnings with him. You rotated in the air and dropped down to just outside of the creature's view, you edged forward millimetre by millimetre until you could see its face.

    It was that moment that confirmed your suspicions for you. The creature had no face and had no 'feel' to it either. In the mind, where everything is bound to memory, experience, imagination and emotion this thing was barely existent.

    It was a blank and you became convinced that, that blank had a name.

    Rand.

    After that all that was left to do was to pick your fabric and give your report to Albrecht.

    Though you are still not entirely sure what you will say.

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

    You lie in bed. It has been a busy day and it promises to be a busy night as well. It will all start any minute now.

    Part of you has been dreading this.

    You check the bed, it is clean, firm, strong, just what you will need tonight on your trip to the Dreaming.

    What if she does not like it?

    You check your gift.

    The Brothers had it dropped off discretely while you were out.

    You hope she likes it.

    What if she thinks it is too much?

    You smooth out your dress and check your hair one more time. You fidget in you chair despite Lyssa's earlier assurances that you look 'perfect'. You wish you had your hat, you feel naked without it.

    What if she does not understand where you are coming from?

    So much doubt for what should be the easiest thing in the world, you take a deep breath.

    It is the 'curse of the mage' as Henry used to put it. People that spend their entire lives interrogating reality and themselves can never be truly sure of anything. It is great for nuance, great for picking up on subtle clues left by your enemies, great for outsmarting rivals and delivering that final, fatal blow.

    It is less useful when it comes to being happy.

    So, at times like this you try to remember what Henry taught you, not like you have much else to go on.

    You remember one humid summer evening and Henry's words of wisdom over a few dozen pints. He had told you then that sometimes you have to simply take things at face value. You have to believe in the best in people and sometimes you have to trust them even if it bites you in the ass more often than not. He said, "Kid, you can't be afraid to make an ass out of yourself for love. The worst thing that can happen if you take that risk is that you die and that is a moment, no more than that!"

    He said it with such conviction and drunken bravado that you could not help but laugh. Then you asked him about the worst thing that can happen if you don't take that risk.

    He raised a glass a shouted, "You live!"

    A bit predictable maybe but the drunks at the bar liked it, the barmaid did too. Said Henry was a 'natural romantic' and offered to soothe his 'poet's heart' or some such crap.

    Last thing you saw of Henry that night was him disappearing up the stairs with the barmaid and her best friend.

    First thing you saw of him the next morning he was banging on your door and asking you to hide him under your bed. Seems the barmaid had a husband and her friend had stolen Henry's spellbook and fled into the night... so much for the 'best in people'...

    Henry always did have a lot of advice and it never did seem to bother him that one half of it was at odds with the rest...

    You're startled out of your thoughts by a hesitant knock at the door.

    "Well," you mutter, "Time to make an ass out of myself."

    You are just glad that Caoilainn, in an act of mercy, agreed to meditate during your date, the last thing you need is her 'help'.

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

    Thaïs is absolutely radiant and gracefully sweeps into your room her arms behind her back. Gently you close the door behind her and stop short as you catch the back of her. In her hangs, dangling loosely is a parcel, a gift perhaps?

    She really shouldn't have and as you begin to say so you raise your eyes and notice her gaze fixed on your gift on the table.

    She turns to face you the beginnings of the exact same sentence on her lips.

    You both beam.

    She holds the gift out to you, "You first, I insist."

    You take the gift and lead her to the table, sitting together you begin to unwind the protective wrapping on it.

    As the packaging comes loose you are left holding a book, she really does know the way to your heart.

    It seems to be some sort of tome, she grins nervously as you open it and begin to flick through the pages. You immediately stop at the first section, you read the title out loud to her, "On the Dreams of Men and Monsters: One Mage's Experiences in the Dreaming by Henry Jones," you look up at her in disbelief, a bewildered smile plastered to your face, "When did he? How did he?" you laugh, even after all those years the old man was holding out on so very much.

    You gaze at the book, running you fingers along the pages, as the wonder flows away you manage an intelligent question, "How did you find this?"

    She smirks and taps her head, "Our memories. A few weeks ago I was hit by a vivid still image of Henry's office in Madrigal before the, ah, the dwarven incident..."

    You nod solemnly, now that is a story that you will both take to the grave...

    She coughs, "Anyway, on his right hand bookshelf, three books in, fourth shelf there was a volume with his name on it but it was not one I could remember us reading so I did a little digging at the Dietfrieds' to be sure. Sure enough the book existed, it was never a popular work and many thought it was completely false, the result of excessive drinking or some other such nonsense. However, the Brothers had a copy, this copy, and though it was in poor shape they swore by its authority and claimed it had a great many insights to share into how the Dreaming was, or I suppose is, structured. They offered to have it rebound for no charge so I took them up on the offer."

    You are a bit taken aback to be honest, all you have to remember Henry by is his book but now you have an entire new story to delve into, you can barely coke out a thank you as the weight of the text and what it represents hits home, "I- Thank you, Thaïs I really can't-"

    She helps you turn the pages, "That is not all. The Brothers were kind enough to scrape together a number of spells they have found useful in the Dreaming and they have appended them to the back of the text, and then there is-"

    She stops suddenly and leans back a little.

    "What's the matter?" you ask, leaning forward.

    "Derryth," she begins, keeping a measured and even tone, "At the very end of the text are the spells I learnt as a courtesan and all of the practical information I could think of on how to make yourself more, well, likeable. They are the spells and techniques I tried to use on you when we first met though I hope they will yield better results this time. I thought that we could go over it together, well, if you want to that is."

    A book, written by two of the people you hold most dear and supplemented with spells, you could not think of a better gift and you tell her so.

    You kiss her and she smiles, relieved, as you nudge her gift toward her.

    No time to worry now, hopefully your instincts were right.

    Carefully she removes the brown paper wrapping, delicately she opens the wooden transport box and she gasps as she takes it out.

    She gently lays it on the table.

    It is a black box of the same obsidian as the one you received from Nanshe but that is where the similarity ends. Along each side are carved scenes of incredible complexity, set apart from the black stone by inlays of gold, silver and bronze. The lid is attached by a strong hinge on one end and is divided into four beautiful but complex scenes. Finally at the center of the lid rests the ugliest piece of bronze you have ever set your eyes on, the partial gold plating catches the failing light from the setting sun through your window.

    Thaïs stares at that lid, then she looks at you, her eyes sparkle, "You kept it? All this time you kept it? That Wyrd awful belt buckle from that boor?"

    You shrug, "I am not sure why I held on to it."

    She raises an eyebrow, "It had nothing to do with the fact that it is solid bronze and gold?"

    You grin, "Well, maybe that played a part. It sat in my pack for months before I remembered it and I thought what better way use for it than this."

    "I love it," she grins.

    "There's more," you reply and direct her attention to the scenes on the box.

    She scrutinizes each, every now and then she narrows her eyes as something half remembered comes to the surface. Then she rotates the box and something catches her eye. A small scene, a woman in silver with golden hair sits at a table of bronze. Next to her sit three men, each wearing a mask in gold, silver and bronze.

    "Nine's mind," she smirks at you and points at it, "Are all of these scenes from your life?"

    "Half right," you reply, "Each is a puzzle I have had to solve or a trap I have had to disarm. You once asked me how I answered Faceless' puzzle so quickly, well this is how. Each one of those challenges has helped to form me, no, us as we are. If you want we can practice them together."

    She smiles warmly, "I would like that I think. So what happens if I..." she presses in the silver face and the box begins to hum as it springs to life and spells fire.

    From the top of the box a wooden cylinder is ejected through the mouth of the belt buckle. Your partner gasps, "What's this? Some sort of tube?"

    You nod, "Yes, the Brothers were kind enough to help me design it. It is based on Brigit's puzzle box with a few ideas from some of the traps I have encountered. Each time a puzzle is correctly solved it ejects a tube, open it," you prompt her.

    She pops the top off the cylinder and slides out a roll of paper, "This is... the Warrior's Mask?"

    Again you nod, "Yes, this one I added myself but the Brother's helped to supply spell scrolls for all of the other puzzles. They said that money was no obstacle."

    "You too," she mutters, "Did you talk to..."

    "Morpheus?" you finish her thought.

    She smiles, "Yes, he must have paid for both our gifts. I wonder what he is up to?"

    "Maybe he just wants us to be happy?" you suggest, half joking.

    "Yes, the demon prince has our best interests at heart I am sure," she answers with a smirk, latching on to your joke.

    You are glad that she likes her gift but you have one final thing to show her. A little something that the tall Brother helped you integrate.

    You turn the box over ad insert a small key into its base. Slowly you begin to wind it and the mechanical noises of the box quickly give way to the sound of a single voice, maddeningly beautiful and haunting in it clarity.

    Surprised, Thaïs turns to you. She closes her eyes and lets the music take her, "Mother's song, that, that is mother's song... I had forgotten..."

    You nod, "One of our earliest memories, it came to me last month and it has not left me since. It is amazing what the mind remembers but hides from itsel-"

    From the way she tackles you in mid sentence you surmise she likes your gift quite a bit.

    When she allows you air once more she whispers her thanks and tell you that she will keep this music box, this puzzle box, till the end of her days.

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

    "Table for two please," you inform the lizard-fish at the door.

    It growls out a response, "Reservation?"

    "Derryth," you answer.

    He shakes his head, "No Derryth."

    "Try Derryth and Thaïs," your friend is quick to add as he runs down the list.

    He nods slowly, "Right, there it is, have a good evening."

    She whispers to you as you glide past the beast, "Morpheus did say that these goblins are very simple beasts. Too much or too little information and they are lost."

    You weave your way past ratbears, salmonhawks and catroachs as you make your way to the private rooms of the restaurant. When you asked Morpheus to set up a unique date for the two of you this was not quite what you had in mind but the Prince really did go all out. From what you can tell this is one of the finest establishments in the entire Dreaming so that has to count for something right?

    You find your table near the stage, the only unoccupied table in the entire building. A team of crustacean-wolf hybrids are doing their best to set up the entertainment for the evening, they seem to spend much of their time trying to murder each other.

    A fat little beast with the feet of a duck and the head of a snake waddles up to your table, "Menussss" he hisses as he hops up and places two sheets of paper on your hands.

    You order something that sounds vaguely edible and Thaïs has the same. Your only hope is that it is not moving when it hits your plate. You are just about to fall into easy conversation when the stage lights come up and the performance begins.

    An owl-like being that coos like a dove explains that the piece is about the ancient and moving human concept of soul mates. It is sweet that Morpheus took the time to arrange this but in all honesty it is a story you have both heard numerous times before and you know that it is false. It was concocted some time in the Wind Age amongst the people of Scales and it has no roots beyond that. However, you do not want to be rude, especially when surrounded by demons, so you listen politely.

    He begins with the classical tale, humans were first formed with two heads, four arms, four legs and a single soul. These original humans were so powerful that even the Dark Gods feared them. Their laughter was as thunder pouring off the mountains. Their joy surpassed even the greatest temptations of the Gods. Their rage could 'cleave' immortals 'in twain'. Their strength could shatter the world. They were formed full, complete and perfect...

    And so on, and so on. The orator goes on about the perfection of these early humans for a good four minutes longer than he should. Eventually he mentions that the Dark Gods were jealous of these perfect mortals and so through foul magic and deception they shattered humanity, splitting each soul in two.

    Now normally in the story the bard or narrator would tell some sort of tale or 'prophesy' handed down from the 'earliest ages of the world'. In it humanity would restore itself to its original condition and vanquish the Gods once and for all.

    Instead the demon simply can not bring himself to talk about the end of the tale. Instead he hones in on the destruction of the original humans by the Gods and with great vigour he enthuses on the subject for a full five minutes before a pair of the crustacean-wolves pull him off stage. They crash together through a number of empty tables, reducing about a fifth of the establishment to rubble within minutes and leaving a number of patrons standing around without a place to sit.

    The two of you do your best no to laugh at the poor things, clapping dutifully as they roll away into the darkness.

    In their recently vacated place on the stage Morpheus appears in a puff of orange and purple smoke with pale horrors similar to those you saw below Blackrock.

    He gives you a single nod and flashes a grin as the music begins. It strokes your ear, vibrating through your soul with the first chords from his musicians.

    Morpheus wastes no time before launching into the song his voice a wave that threatens to wash you away.

    Throw me a penny

    And I'll make you a dream

    You look to Thaïs and she grins back at you. You extend your hand across the table and she takes it.

    You find that life's not always what it seems

    Then think of a rainbow

    And I'll make it come real

    Roll me, I'm a never ending wheel

    You hop to your feet together and begin to dance. It is not the ordered dancing of the high born nor is it the spirited whirling of a peasant festival. It is something else entirely, the music tells you what to do and you do it, simple as that, it just feels right.

    The magic bound into every single note, every single word compels you to act and you do it gladly.

    I'll give you a star

    So you'll know

    Just where you are

    Don't you know that I might be

    Your wishing well, your wishing well

    As you bob and jump and grind and shake the space around the stage begins to fill. Demons of all shapes and sizes crowd in, wings, tails, tentacles and more brush past you on the dance floor.

    Look in the water, tell me what do you see

    Reflections of the love you give to me

    Love isn't money, it's not something you buy

    So let me fill myself with tears you cry, why?

    Once you see someone fall but Morpheus points from the edge of the stage and another demon helps it to its feet...

    Time is a never ending journey

    Love is a never ending smile

    Give me a sign to build a dream on, dream on...

    The Demon Prince is in complete control of everyone in the building and they love him for it, you love him for it...

    Yeah, throw me a penny

    And I'll make you a dream

    You find that life's not always what it seems

    Love isn't money

    It's not something you buy

    Let me fill myself with tears you cry

    Dancing with Thaïs in the club at the edge of the City of Peaceful Rest you are happier now than you can ever remember being. Some small part of you even considers staying forever...

    I'll give you a star

    So you'll know just where you are

    Someday, some way you'll feel the things I say

    Dream for a while of the things that make you smile


    Don't you know, don't you know

    Oh you know that I'm your wishing well

    Your wishing well...

    Your world dissolves around you as the song end and you squeeze your partner's hand all the tighter for it. You both pant slightly, grinning from ear to ear. That was fun but thankfully now it is over-

    The band begins to play again, from the first note you are spellbound.

    The whole crowd is rocking gently together. Tendrils and talons held, 'hand and hand' as every third or fourth demon casts a small bolt of fire up in the air. Some sort of salute or tribute to the band perhaps?

    Slowly at first the music sweeps you up and carries you along.

    You and Thaïs lean in together and cast create fire, raising your hands into the air. A nearby vulture-pig nods and salutes you.

    Your hips begin to sway in unison as with another grin Morpheus begins to sing:

    From the first time we touched with our eyes

    Only magic could take away my heart

    I am always afraid for my heart

    So lay beside me now and tell me lies, sweet lies

    As long as it's not about love

    This is going to be a long night but you would be lying if you said you did not love every second of it...

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

    Morpheus towels himself off, he was racing all over the stage on some of those numbers so you would not be surprised if he is a little tired.

    He catches the two of you enter and grins, "So, how did you like the show?"

    Both of you simply smile at him, exhausted from dancing for what must have been three or four hours.

    "So I take it you liked it then?" a feminine voice call from the side room, "Could you please close the door, I would not want us to be interrupted."

    As you do so an elegant figure saunters into the room. She is quite possibly the most attractive and yet strangely repulsive being you have ever met. She is white from head to toe, covered in what looks to be armour but is likely a hard natural plating. She has a startling array of eyes and bears a striking resemblance to Nephila. Immediately you realize that there is only one person this could be, Morpheus' first wife, Nephila's aunt and mother-in-law and the Spider Goddess' only living sister.

    She smiles at you, which you find slightly unsettling, "My dear husband tells me that you ladies swore a blood pact with dear Nephila, is that correct? How is the poor girl anyway? She came here seeking so many answers and I am afraid all we gave her were questions and frustration."

    You match the Princess' polite tone, "Last time we saw her she was doing fine. We freed her from her prison and let her go her own way with a recommendation."

    "My, my," the Spider Princess beams, "Do you make it a habit of saving demons in distress then? Why just the other day my husband was telling me of what a wonderful group of mages you all are and how you saved him from those boorish Oneiroi."

    Morpheus shifts on his throne, you suspect that he did not expect his wife to tell you what he has been saying to her.

    "My lady, you do us too great a kindness," you better half answers, "I am sure your husband would have managed to free himself even without our aid."

    She shoots a sidelong glance at her husband, it must easy to do with so many eyes, "Oh certainly he would have managed eventually or one of us would have come along and freed him but it is much more impressive that a handful of mortals should choose to do so even if you did have, ah, help."

    You bow your heads in thanks to the Lady's kindness.

    The Spider Princess eyes her husband once more, "Perhaps dear you would like to take a nap while I discuss matters with your charming mortal friends. I should very much like to make them my friends as well if all I hear about them is true."

    He nods slowly, considering the notion, "Certainly my dear but remember what we talked about. These two and all members of their organization are under my direct protection. We can not compel them and we can not detain them," he grins at you both, "No matter how much we might like to."

    As he passes you on the way out of the chamber he stops once, "Ladies, our mutual friend has informed me that you have a parcel waiting for you two days southeast of the city. She says it is a very large and time sensitive parcel and that even now thieves come to claim it. If you wish to collect it you had better do so soon."

    You stop him, a single determined hand on his muscular arm, "Are we sure she was acting on her own initiative and not the request of another."

    He shrugs, "I have no way of knowing if she was forced to contact me or did so of her own free will I am afraid. She did not appear to be in distress beyond what would be natural given her situation though."

    Well, that is probably the best you can hope for.

    You both bid the Prince good night and once more express your thanks over the entertainment he arranged for you before turning back to the Spider Princess.

    You suspect that you have a lot to discuss.

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

    You feel good this morning. Your quiet talk with Thaïs, your evening in the Dreaming, Morpheus' concert and what came after when you woke up have all contributed to a state of confident excitement in you today.

    You feel relaxed, you feel energetic, you feel damn well optimistic. You feel like you could save the Kingdom single handed and you want to share that feeling with the world, starting with Ceannard. Which is why you dragged yourselves out of bed at the first rays of dawn and marched down to the Arrows' compound.

    It is not that Otto wanted to let you in, you just left him no choice.

    "Ceannard!" you bang on the bedroom door, "Ceannard we know you are in there!"

    "Go away!" he shouts back, "I am sick!"

    "Like hell you are!" Thaïs shouts back.

    You give her a surprised glance and she shrugs and beams at you. You shake it off, she must be feeling awfully energetic this morning as well.

    "Ceannard, we just want to talk," you begin.

    "No!" he shout comes from the other side.

    "It's about business," Thaïs dangles another crumb in front of him.

    "Ah, what kind of business?" he answers hesitantly.

    "The kind that might pay very well!" you answer together.

    You can hear him unbolting the door, "Alright, but just you two and I don't want to hear any jokes!"

    Jokes?

    The door opens a crack and then slightly more. Just enough to let you both slide through with only a little discomfort.

    As soon as you are in the mercenary slams the door behind you.

    "What the hell Ceannard! What is wrong wi-" you stop in mid sentence as you get a look at his neck.

    There, on the left side of his neck are perhaps the largest and deepest hued love bites you have ever seen. Half of his neck is consumed by a continuous purple welt.

    The grin creeps up your face.

    Thaïs snickers.

    You try to hold it back, you really do, but you just can't.

    You both burst out laughing.

    The mercenary is devastated, "Will you two kindly shut up."

    It takes you three minutes more than is decent to do so.

    "Oh, Ceannard," Thaïs begins, wiping her eyes.

    You almost can't believe it, "Ceannard, you didn't, did you?"

    He coughs, "I, ah, I don't want to talk about it."

    Suddenly the term bug bite seems all too appropriate.

    "She was a demon, Ceannard," you shake your head.

    "I said, I do not want to talk about it," he insists.

    You raise you hands in surrender, "Alright, alright. It is really none of our business anyway. We came here because we want to hire the Arrows again."

    "What for?" is his immediate response.

    A good question, what do you want him for?


    1. Arrows Contracts:

    A) You hire him to escort you to meet Nanshe. Afterwards he will return to the city. (obviously you need to vote to go see Nanshe for this option to count, if you do not then this option will be discarded). (200WPs)

    B) You hire the Arrows for a month to go with you into the South. At the end of the month if you still need them you can renew otherwise they will leave. (450 WPs)

    C) You hire the Arrows to train the Greys in Myrgard (This option requires the Greys to remain behind when you leave.). (100 WPs)

    D) You hire the Arrows to train the Greys at Blackrock (This option requires the Greys to remain behind when you leave.). (120 WPs)

    E) You want to absorb the Arrows, their assets and personnel since you use them constantly anyway (All E votes will count together the winner will be the most popular option should E win):

    (Included are all of the options from the first listing of the Arrows, if you want to try something else then feel free to make use of the freeform option):

    i. You offer to buy out the Arrows and let Ceannard retire (He does not seem to want to retire.). (4000 WPs, payable yearly in installments of 500WPs, you will have to take out a loan with the Goldsmiths to cover the first payment, it will be at 25% compound monthly interest, feel free to list the amount you want the loan to be for. The most popular option will be chosen if this option wins.).

    ii. You offer to buy out the Arrows and keep Ceannard and his officers on as, well, officers. (3000 WPs, payable yearly in installments of 500WPs, you will have to take out a loan with the Goldsmiths to cover the first payment, it will be at 25% compound monthly interest, feel free to list the amount you want the loan to be for. The most popular option will be chosen if this option wins.)

    iii. You offer to buy the Arrows and keep Ceannard on as a partner (his officers will also stay on as officers naturally). (2000 WPs, payable in installments of 200 WPs four times a year (quarterly). You will have to take out a loan to cover the expense, it will be at 25% compound monthly interest feel free to list the amount you want the loan to be for. The most popular option will be chosen if this option wins.).

    iv. Ceannard has never been secretive about how much he likes the two of you. If you want to take him into your bed as well as your organization he is likely to reduce his price. Who knows, maybe love will grow there as well. Of course Áine is unlikely to appreciate it. (It will still cost 1000 WPs, payable in installments of 200 WPs four times a year (quarterly). You will have to take out a loan to cover the expense, it will be at 25% compound monthly interest feel free to list the amount you want the loan to be for. The most popular option will be chosen if this option wins.).

    v. Ceannard has never been secretive about how much he likes the two of you. If you want to take him into your bed as well as your organization he is likely to reduce his price. You could also try to talk Lyssa into participating and reduce his price even further... Who knows, maybe love will grow there as well? Áine is unlikely to appreciate it though and Lyssa may or may not be offended by the idea. (It will probably cost 800 WPs, payable in 100 WPs instalments, quarterly. You can take out a loan at 25% compound monthly interest if you so desire but you do not have to).

    vi. You offer to buy the Arrows and keep Ceannard on as a partner (his officers will also stay on as officers naturally). You will make such a deal in private. In public, you will have Albrecht hire the mercenaries as his personal forces (not unlike the Seekers) and have him pay the first 200 WPs out of the treasury. You should then be able to use the Arrows for the good of the state without too many questions raised, though any deals that only benefit you should be handled discreetly.

    vii. Offer Ceannard a foursome with Derryth, Thais and Nephila. That should reduce the price rather substantially if you don't mind the implications and it is not likely to me a one time affair. (It will cost 500 WPs, payable in 100 WPs instalments, quarterly. You can take out a loan at 25% compound monthly interest if you so desire but you do not have to).

    viii. This is just the full orgy option, included for the sake of completeness... You will bed Ceannard, Nephila, Lyssa and Lady Grey. If you somehow actually pull this off then Ceannard will just give you the Arrows, no questions asked. Of course this is also could also spectacularly backfire and destroy much of your operation... There is a substantial element of luck as well given all the ways this could go wrong.

    ix. freeform: Try some other arrangement to incorporate the Arrows.

    F) freeform: since you will likely want to do something much more complex. Propose it and I will tabulate a cost for you.


    2. Equipment: You went shopping at the Brothers Dietfried and this is what you found:

    Supplies:

    A) 'M' labelled mandrake roots: 40 WPs each

    B) Energon Crystals: 30 WPs each

    C) Energon Whiskey: 12 WPs a bottle

    Regular Items:

    D) Leather armour: 5 WPs each suit

    E) Large wooden shield: 4 WPs each

    F) Arrows: 1WP per 2 quivers

    G) Bolts: 1 WP per 2 magazines

    H) Light Composite Bow: 10 WPs each

    I) Light Crossbow: 12 WPs each

    Magical Items:

    J) Magic resistant leather armour (grants minor magic resistance to wearer, allowing them to weather the effects of magical spells slightly better.): 30 WPs each

    K) Magic resistant mail (grants minor magic resistance to wearer, allowing them to weather the effects of magical spells slightly better.): 35 WPs each

    L) Magic resistant coat of plate (grants minor magic resistance to wearer, allowing them to weather the effects of magical spells slightly better.): 40 WPs each

    M) Lunar Blade (It is said that this blade waxes and wanes in power with the phases of the moon. In truth it simply operates on a thirty day cycle. The sword begins without a blade and as the thirty days progress (on day fifteen) before dissolving back to nothing on day thirty and beginning again): 30 WPs

    N) Pain spikes (When placed next to the skin they will burrow their way into the user. This proves to be incredibly painful as one might expect. If only one is used or multiple spikes are used on the same target then nothing more will occur. However if the spikes are used on multiple individuals it will serve to fasten their 'souls' together. So long as the spikes remain in their flesh pain (both physical and mental) will be spread out between all users. This serves to dull the physical and mental pain any one member of the group will suffer however this comes with a sizable trade-off. Should one user die while still chained to the others then all users will feel the pain of that death. In many cases this is sufficient to kill the other members of the group. Should two or more members die at the same time the remaining members have next to know chance of surviving the backlash.): The set of six spikes is worth 45 WPs

    O) Fire resistant leather armour (grants minor resistance to magical and mundane fire, they will not burn you as badly as others.): 20 WPs each

    P) Entangled Dice: A pair of dice, one black with white pips and the other white with black pips. When you roll one of them the other will shift so that they read 'opposing numbers'. So if you roll the white die and it comes up 'six' then the black die will shift to reveal a 'one', that sort of thing. The opposite numbers are 1/6, 2/5 and 3/4. The Brothers have not really found a use for them so far. They will sell them to you for: 14 WPs.

    Q) There is an old can of oil used to maintain sword blades. When filled with normal oils it enchants them with a random effect that is then applied to the sword it is used on. The effect seems to alter every twenty four hour. So far he has seen a frost effect, a flame effect, a corrosive effect (that ate much of the test blade it was applied to), an electrical effect, a 'lightening' effect that made the blade weigh less and move quicker, a 'strengthening' effect that made the blade heavier, slower, and hit harder, a 'talking' effect which made the blade repeat everything that was said near it on command, a 'party' effect that made the blade radiate blue, pink, orange and green lights but did nothing else, and an explosive effect that cause the sword to explode when it made contact with a target (the soldier he had testing that blade sadly lost his arm as a result).

    For some reason Dietfried has had trouble finding a buyer. He will give it to you for 5 WPs.

    R) They have about six 'vomit disks'. Basically how they work is you light them on fire and throw them at the target. Anyone within three metres of where they land will be hit with an odor so foul that it will trigger acute vomiting, nausea an extraordinarily painful dry heaving. The effects usually only last about ten minutes but if you have a very keen sense of smell it can last as long as twenty.

    They will not work on targets that can not smell for obvious reasons and you will want to be careful to not drop them after you light them. They can just as easily neutralize your group as the enemy's that way. Also he would recommend caution if you use them against wind mages as they can blow the gases the disks release right back at you, provided they are quick enough.

    He can sell you a disk for 5WPs each.

    S) He has a shield made from a single piece of treated wood. It is completely fire proof and will reflect any fire based spell that hits it back at whoever cast it. If it is hit with ice magic though it will freeze solid and will be rendered useless until it defrosts. (10 WPs)

    T) freeform: if you want something that is not on the list or a particular enchantment you do not see then ask I will let you know if it is available.

    Additional Items are listed in this post. If you want me to add anything to the formal list here just let me know.


    3. Mercenaries: If you feel you could use a bit more muscle when you head south you could hire on additional mercenaries for one month contracts. Their rates are as follows (you can vote for as many as you wish but if you go over your funds you will need to take a loan at 25% monthly compound interest):

    A) The Doves: 150WPs

    B) The Bastards: 40WPs

    C) The Cocks: 125WPs

    D)The Knights: 300 WPs

    E) The Hounds: 100 WPs

    F) Just the Hounds' elephants: 40 WPs

    G) freeform


    4. Your expedition south: Aside from the Seekers who do you plan to bring with you to the south? (There are so many options here that I will just let people come up with their own teams. You have the Boys, the Greys, any mercenaries you might hire, any escort you might request, and any named characters you have in the city to choose from, go wild).


    5. Nanshe and TWM: Morpheus claims that Nanshe has contacted him and requested that you come to pick up the Thin White Mage. He can not prove that she is acting freely and that it is not a trap but she seemed fine from what he could tell.

    A) You go to meet Nanshe (If you vote for this option then please list who you want to take to the meeting. It is on your way south so if you choose to take people south with you but do not want them at the meeting then you will have to split your forces in the field.)

    As a reminder you can select any of your named personnel that are in the city as well as the Seekers, whatever escort you request from the King and any mercenaries you wish, either from your standing forces in the city, Boys and Greys essentially, or from the mercenary pool should they be hired.

    B) You do not go to visit Nanshe, it is either a trap or simply not worth your time.


    6. The Spy: The maid you found was definitely a spy. She seems to be motivated to sell information due to substantial debts she owes. None of that will matter to the Pathfinders though, she is aiding the Cultists and will be killed for her actions. What do you want to do?

    A) Give Albrecht your report and wash your hands of the affair.

    B) Offer to take her with you and interrogate her yourself.

    C) Offer to remove her and put her in the Dreaming.

    D) Offer to remove her and kill her.

    E) Offer to remove her, give her some money (be sure to include how much) and tell her to flee the Kingdom

    F) You will inform Timo and Albrecht of her ties to the Cultists. You will then have the Pathfinders/Timo's agents follow her and attempt to map out as much of the Cult as possible. Should this prove successful she may then be used as a double agent to feed the cult information. Hopefully she will lead your allies back to Rand or his doubles which they may detain or destroy as they are able. Like this essentially:

    G) Tell Timo and Albrecht about the maid, provide the maid with enough false information to bait Rand, get Pathfinders on the task of ambushing him.

    H) freeform


    7. Your Sleeping Inventor: You are leaving the capital and Mel is still asleep. What do you want to do with her.

    A)You will take her with you. It will be dangerous bringing her into an army camp in the middle of a warzone but it will give you the best chance to wake her up quickly when the moon is right.

    B) You will leave her at the palace. Admitedly the security there is not great but few people know she is there, she will just have to sleep for a month or two more while you handle affairs to the south.

    C) You have her moved to Blackrock. It will be risky transporting her through the countryside to the fort but once she gets there she should be fairly secure unless Hesse or Welf try something.

    D) freeform


    8. Your Northern Team: Once you know who is coming with you, you will need to organize those that are remaining behind. (Who will look after transportation and training for the Boys and Greys for example.) Since this question depends so much on all of the other questions I am going to leave this open as a freeform question. How do you want them to run things in your absence? You tell me.


    9. Escort: Albrecht will of course give you an escort drawn from his own Royal Guard. You have met all of the key commanders at this point so the question becomes who do you want to come with you.

    A) The chariots (20 war chariots with two dwarf teams)

    B) The light infantry (40 light infantry: 30 grenadiers and 10 infantry)

    C) The heavy infantry (40 heavy infantry: 30 warriors and 10 grenadiers)

    D) freeform - if you want something else or you want more than one of the above options then feel free to suggest it. Just remember that every asset you take is one few Albrecht has to deploy elsewhere.


    10. Operation 'Fata Morgana'.
    You will have Mayer open a store accepting pre-orders for the Energon Cubes for a price of 0.5 WPs each, and spread rumors about it in mage circles
    (well, the Royal Academy, mostly). You will have Albrecht buy the cubes from anyone willing to sell them for 2 WPs each. You will then see how many would give in to their greed and decide to make a profit over a deficit product, unwittingly supplying you with their cubes in the process. Of course, you will refund the pre-orders so that no regular customers would come to harm.

    A) You go for it (specify the amount of funds you are willing to spend on buying the cubes).

    B) You refuse to resort to such measures to refill your supplies.


    11. Interrogating the Captain: You might wish to interrogate the Weasel captain Berty caught yesterday. It will delay your departure but it might be a worthwhile use of your time. Do you take the time?

    A) Yes (all A options are counted together):

    i. A quick session. You will not be gentle and you will rips as much information from her mind as you can, as quickly as you can. Her mind will likely be ruined in the process (time: 1 hour)

    ii. A longer session. You will try to be careful with her mind. You will begin with low intensity attacks and feints to draw out as much information as you can without doing permanent damage. It will still hurt her a fair bit though and it will take longer to successfully check for the information you desire. (time: 3 hours)

    iii. An in depth and expertly conducted session. You will take the time to do this properly. You will wear down her mind over the course of hours before you carefully extract only the information you desire. This will be tiring for both of you and for the prisoner and it will take substantially more time to get the desired effect but it will not harm her in any meaningful way and it will also help you strengthen your own mentalist techniques. (time: 7 hours)

    iv. freeform

    B) No, you do not spend the time. You want to leave as soon as possible (time: none)


    12. Custom Magic Armour: Since you spent much of yesterday being measured anyway you could choose to send those measurements on to the palace and have the King commission custom armour for your use. Feel free to specify the type or armour, any enchantments you would like to have on it and how many suits you want. You can have armour made for any of the named characters you currently have in the city as Derry, Taide and the girls have all been measured and the rest can be measured before you leave. Please keep in mind that the more powerful the armour the more time it will take to finish. Also the more suits you have made the fewer dwarves will be available to work on other projects for the Kingdom. Finally, even the simplest of armour will not be ready before you leave so you will not have access to the armour unless it is shipped to you or you return to the city.


    13. Tutors: You can hire tutors for the children to teach them the basic while you are gone. You will hire:

    A) None - You will borrow a few of Albrecht's clerks and have them teach the children the basics. They are not the best educators but they are free (If you go with this option then the 14 WPs you have already set aside for this will be returned to you).

    B) A few basic tutors - you will hire a few tutors to teach the kids the basics (writing, counting, reading, gymnastics, etc) (14 WPs monthly for six tutors)

    C) You will hire more advanced teachers alongside basic tutors - the tutors will focus on teaching the basics while the more specialized teachers will pick out any students that show exceptional skill for more advanced training. Unfortunately you will not be on hand to filter applicates you will be trusting this to whoever you leave in charge. (20 WPs monthly for six tutors and four specialist instructors, you will need to spend an additional 6WPs for the first month to cover this on top of the fourteen WPs you have already set aside).


    Freeform Questions 14+ : Since you will be leaving the city after this update and may not be abld to make it back for a while this will likely be your last chance in this chapter to influence the development of your broader organization. If you want to do anything in the city or send letters and instructions to Brigit/Gareth, Amena/Ithapi or your people at Blackrock now is the time to do it as after this you will only have messengers and Lyssa's eagles and you will likely be on the move more often than not.

    Also if you have any questions for Ceannard, Morpheus, the Brothers Dietfried or (especially) the Spider Princess feel free to ask. You spent enough time with each of them in this update to ask as many questions as you want.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
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  22. Fangshi Arcane

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

    Party Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Derryth:

    Gained Item:

    - Compendium of the Dreaming

    Gained Trait:

    - A Mother's Song: There was something beautiful and relaxing about the way Thaïs' mother would sing and you are certain that Thaïs inherited that skill from her. You have been practicing discretely, using your earliest memories of the woman to try and mimic that effect and you have made concrete progress. Provides a bonus to checks made when performing or Singing.

    Stat Gains:

    You finally ticked over in some of your stats due to the training you have undergone (enchantment practice) and the many, may social situations you have been involved in.

    +1 INT
    +1 CHA

    Thaïs:

    - Musical Puzzle Box
    - Scroll of The Warrior's Mask

    Gained Trait:

    - 'The Dwarven Incident': You will never speak of the 'Dwarven Incident'. It is part of your past and that is were it will remain for the rest of your days. However, you would be lying if you said you learnt nothing from it. Provides a bonus to spotting traps, disarming traps, and, ah, juggling mice and other small rodents...

    Stat Gains:

    Thaïs' old life was much easier physically than her new one, but all of the physical and mental strain has not broken her and she has even improved in a few areas.

    +1 STR
    +1 CON


    Biliku and Uttu:

    Berty's training is starting to show results. The girls have gained a solid grasp of basic military tactics now though they still lack a deep understanding of tactics and the experience using such techniques in battle.

    Both gained Tactics over the last week or so.

    Uttu also gained +1 STR and Biliku gained +1 WIS.


    You have also commissioned a number of outfits for the girls and yourselves as cover for your interrogation of the spy. Most are quite nice but you will be out of the city by the time they are completed. If you survive your trip you can collect them should you wish to.



    Organizational Changes:

    Show Spoiler
    Spent WPs:

    - lost 800 WPs to pay down the Goldsmiths' loan.
    - lost 14 WPs, set aside to hire tutors.
    - lost 10 WPs, to transport the Boys to Blackrock and establish them there.

    Loan paid down:

    - Your loan to the Goldsmiths has been reduced to 200 WPs

    That should be it from what I can remember.


    Rolls:

    Show Spoiler
    As previously mentioned there were not that many rolls this time and nothing terribly dramatic. No one was trying to kill you in this update so naturally it was less tense.

    You had a number of social checks (CHA and the like) while dealing with the Brothers and you did fairly well there all things considered.

    The prices you were offered for items is also linked to rolls and you did slightly over average. Believe it or not but the prices for the crystals and the roots could be higher.

    The girls had a few perception chests to see if they would stumble upon the box of roots or something else entirely. They rolled well so they found the roots.

    I also randomized the selection of items a bit since there was a degree of luck in what you would be presented with...

    When you left the Brothers you proceeded to your shopping spree/interrogation of your servant. Here you had a number of rolls to make based on your INT, WIS and your magical skills and abilities. At the same time Taide had CHA based rolls to distract, bully and generally fluster your servant.

    You both rolled quite well and the spy had no magical defenses to protect her so it was really just a matter of time until you got to the truth.

    As a side note the example given here is typical of how 'mind reading' usually goes. You will get images, some still, some moving, embedded within a larger mental landscape which will usually take on familiar themes (most people's minds will be cities, forts, villages, farms and the like it is only the mad, the ancient or the inhuman that will have very surreal mental landscapes).

    This landscape will also be populated by beings of various shapes, sizes, etc. These represent concepts and emotions and the ways in which they interact provide the raw information that the mentalist has to turn into 'facts'. It is an inexact process as you can not really interrogate or interact with these beings unless you go all the was and conduct a proper infiltration ritual. A few of these creatures can still spot you however, the powerful ones, the vengeful ones, the ones you don't really want to be captured by, they will all try to attack you and push you from the target's mind.

    If they do detect you there is a high chance that the subjects conscious mind will also recognize your presence and then you will likely have to deal with those consequences.

    So those are the key points when it comes to indirect 'mind reading'. It is imprecise, it relies on interpreting emotion, it often expresses itself in symbolic fashion and it takes a bit of intuition to be good at it.

    Needless to say it is a bit to 'fiddly' for most mages and simply smashing your target's mind tends to be a more popular approach.

    Following that you had D&T's date where there were few rolls of consequence. It simply gave them a moment to relax a little before they had breakdowns. :lol:

    It also provided me with an excuse to get you back into the Dreaming and have the Spider Goddess' sister show up for a chat.

    There were a couple rolls involved in that brief conversation but I am not quite ready to go into details yet.

    And the next morning there was a simple persuasion roll to get Ceannard to open the door.

    I was tempted to have a perception roll as well to see if the ladies would spot Nephila's bites on his neck but decided against it. You would have to be blind to miss them, that girl mauled him. :lol:

    If you feel I missed covering something, or you have additional questions then feel free to ask as always.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
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  23. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,063
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    I think I have a scheme of how to hire Ceannard with the resourses we have. I'll take some time to flesh out the details.

    I wonder if we can use the maid to catch Rand. It would be a waste to kill her like that.

    Mel should probably remain at the Palace until better days. No need to have Mel's-workshop-take-two in the middle of the battlefield.

    What kind of transportation options can Albrecht offer us? If we would like to take the infantry with us, will there be enough carriages to fit them all in plus the Seekers?

    Edit.

    Okay, so I think everyone agrees that Ceannard proved exceptionally useful. To me, he proved useful enough that I want him with us. So I am in favor of hiring him without antagonizing Lady Grey, and I think there are natural synergies to be had here if we manage to tie those two together.

    So the problem would be, where to find 200 WPs for our loan if we already are up to our necks in debts?

    Well, the answer is simple. Albrecht is currently sitting on a pile of gold he took from the Eberhardts and their followers. He can't give it to us directly or indirectly, though, as the lords would eat him alive, but he was shown to be able to hire mercenary companies such as the Seekers to support his war efforts.

    So what I want him to do is to hire the Black Arrows for 200 WPs to serve the Crown for a month, but in reality it would count as our first payment to the Arrows (they should not care where the money came from). It would not be far from the truth, and given our goals here, an external observer would not be able to distinguish Ceannard working for us and Ceannard working for the crown as long as we use him for the benefit of the kingdom and not in our private interests (or if we do, we should be highly discreet about it).

    In other words, we strike our deal with the Arrows without public knowledge (as I want Arrows operating separately from us), and have Albrecht hire Ceannard for 200 WPs. When the next quarter comes, we will make another payment from our own pockets - or come up with another scheme if need be - and take it from there. Or, if we get wiped out and thus will have no use of their services anymore, at least Ceannard will get paid.

    1) E. You want to absorb the Arrows, their assets and personnel since you use them constantly anyway (All E votes will count together the winner will be the most popular option should E win):
    vi. You offer to buy the Arrows and keep Ceannard on as a partner (his officers will also stay on as officers naturally). You will make such a deal in private. In public, you will have Albrecht hire the mercenaries as his personal forces (not unlike the Seekers) and have him pay the first 200 WPs out of the treasury. You should then be able to use the Arrows for the good of the state without too many questions raised, though any deals that only benefit you should be handled discreetly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014
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  24. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    11,063
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    All right. I think I have something to add on our Energon Cube situation, too.

    Two weeks ago the Energon Cubes cost 1 WPs for two. Three days ago there were cubes on sale for 2 WPs apiece. Today there are none.

    To me, it tells that there are currently over 9000 mages running around the city like mad searching for the cubes that were sold out. They are in an extremely high demand, and I have an idea how this fact may be of use to us.

    So I have a following proposal for Mayer. Have him open a one-day company 'Fata Morgana', allegedly from the Western Empire, or where he thinks it would be more plausible to place their head office, and make one of his fake personas its owner. Naturally, the company will deal in the Energon Cubes.

    Where is the biggest concentration of mages in the city? Why, in the Academy, of course.

    Have Albrecht's agents start a rumor that there is a big shipment of the Energon cubes from the Western Empire heading this way, as they have heard about the war brewing and decided to make a bit of money selling those. They have opened an office in the city, and are even offering pre-orders in anticipation of the first caravan to arrive in three or so days. But as luck would have it, those gullible fools have not yet grasped the full extent of the situation in the capital, and are still offering their cubes for a price that was relevant two weeks ago, when the caravan set out from Madrigal, that is, for 0.5 WPs apiece.

    I bet the rumor will spread like a wildfire in a single day.

    Meanwhile in the office of 'Fata Morgana' have the clerks confirm that, yes, a shipment is expected to arrive soon; that the price is indeed 1 WPs for two cubes; that they are pleasantly surprised with the demand and that the number of the cubes available for sale is dwindling by the minute - and that's before the caravan even arrived; that they adhere to the high standardts of the Western companies and respect their customers by offering a money-back guarantee, so their investments are safe with them. A pleasure doing business with you!

    Simultaneously, have Albrecht's agents start another rumor, that the King requires Energon Cubes to be used for the good of the Crown and the Kingdom, that he needs them right now, and that he is willing to pay the latest (by the time they were last available) market price for them, that is, 2 WPs per each. The offer is limited to a single day (or two, if we find a way to get the cubes to us after we leave the city), because then the need for them would pass.

    As I suspect that there are a fair number of profiteers among the ones who bought the Energon Cubes cheaply thinking they would be able to sell them once their prices will hit 10 WPs and higher, this scheme of ours will directly endanger their investments. I would expect them to try and recoup their losses by selling their cubes to Albrecht (who else would buy them when they are available through 'Fata Morgana' at a laughable price?) and pre-ordering four times more cubes with the same money, hoping to diminish the supply and make four times more profit after the cubes run out.

    Naturally, after we get what we want, the offices of 'Fata Morgana' will close, and they will offer their deepest regrest to their respectable customers for being unable to meet their demands due to their stocks being sold out to the higher bidder, or to the discovering a defect in the crystals that made the cubes highly unstable and dangerous to the user, or to their caravan being eaten whole by energon-whiskey addicted rats, or whatever excuse they can come up with. Naturally, they will not scam their customers and will return their money with many apologies, hoping that this incident will not harm the reputation of their company. Come again!

    It would not harm anyone, I believe, except for those who want to make money over the Kingdom's troubles. Serves them right. Greed is bad, kids.

    I can't think of a single law that this little scheme of ours would break. What does Mayer think? Will it fly? If we alone have bought over 100 cubes in a month, chances are, there are a lot of cubes currently in the city. Some of them might find their way back to us.

    So, without further ado...

    10. Operation 'Fata Morgana'.
    You will have Mayer open a store accepting pre-orders for the Energon Cubes for a price of 0.5 WPs each, and spread rumors about it in mage circles
    (well, the Royal Academy, mostly). You will have Albrecht buy the cubes from anyone willing to sell them for 2 WPs each. You will then see how many would give in to their greed and decide to make a profit over a deficit product, unwittingly supplying you with their cubes in the process. Of course, you will refund the pre-orders so that no regular customers would come to harm.
    A) You go for it
    (specify the amount of funds you are willing to spend on buying the cubes).
    B) You refuse to resort to such measures to refill your supplies.


    Naturally, 10 A (50 WPs). :smug:

    I reserve the right to modify the plan according to Mayer's or voters' suggestions, as necessary.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014
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  25. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,493
    To 6 i see 2 extra solutions:
    A) Tell Timo that she got ties with Rand and ask Pathfinders/King to shadow her, so he can capture or start tracing Rands contacts.
    B) Offer her paying up the debt for becoming double agent. Trying to feed them alerted info.

    will go with
    6) F - Tell Timo and Albrecht about maid ties, get Pathfinders on the task of stealthy observing maid. Slowly tracing whole spy network if they manage to trace contacts undetected.

    (Make action together if possible. Pathfinders are probably best agents for such task. Tracking the organization and possible apprehension of not-Rands or Rand. If we will trace them undetected Timo might use her debt later to persuade her to sow disinformation, or try to force them to move unprepared getting further insight.)
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  

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