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Myth: A New Age CYOA

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

  1. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Aw poot. I wanted amazing. Shucks.
     
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  2. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    Included mind wipe? Or just "opps i blow him up"?
     
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  3. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Chapter 7: Fishing in the Dark

    Huddled together in the dark you consider your options. Part of you wants to go big. To try out a new spell you have been working on. You are sure it would be fun... but fun will not get the job done. You have managed to make it this far without alerting anyone and you would like to pull this off without creating a scene.

    Better to stick with what you know.

    You will draw each of these men out, a suggestion here, a compulsion there and you will incapacitate each in the comfort and safety of the darkness. It is painfully dull work, their minds prove incapable of resisting you. You will succeed but it will take time. You seize upon the first mind and begin the process of fashioning the perfect suggestion... a late night rendezvous will do the trick you think... as you work you lean closer to Thaïs.

    "Thaïs?" you whisper.

    You decide that your bait will be young but not too young... early twenties should do...

    "What?" she responds, her voice barely audible.

    Brunette? No... you think your target would prefer blonde....

    "Have you ever been fishing?" you can not see her face but you know the exact look she is giving you right now.

    Blue eyes? Too conventional. Brown then...

    It is the same look she gives you whenever you ask her one of these 'deep and probing questions'. It is a look that says 'You are mad' with an undercurrent of 'But I know you are up to something' and just a hint of 'Will you tell me already'. In the almost half a year you have known Thaïs it is without a doubt your favourite.

    You decide she will be a new servant. That way you do not have to worry about fabricating a past for her... though to be honest you doubt the guard would even stop to think about it. Still simply because you do not have to try does not mean you should not do your best.

    "Fishing?" her tone is muddled... confusion... curiosity... a little annoyance perhaps... in a word, perfect.

    Now you just need the background. Drawing on your memory of the servants' quarter you begin to fill in the details...

    "Yes, fishing. Have you ever been?" you restate the question as if she is a little slow.

    Table, chairs, cupboards... what else...

    "No Derryth I have never been fishing," seems she has settled on a tone... amusement... good as anything you suppose, "I assume you have some reason for asking?"

    Ah that's it, you remember a small chest in one corner with a very strange lock. It is the small details that truly make the difference...You send off your suggestion and within a moment the first guard stands up and strides off into the darkness. As soon as he is out of view of his companions Thaïs drops him with a single assault spell. This is going to be easy, you begin fashioning the next suggestion as you continue your conversation.

    "Oh, well you do not know what you are missing then..." you trail off.

    You remember the odd summer here and there in the Province... in between runs. Henry would take you out to this little creek from his childhood. Ass end of nowhere... no people... no towns... just the two of you and the fish...

    Thaïs gives you a playful swat, "Derryth, do not just raise the subject and drift off like that."

    The second guard wanders off into the dark and Thaïs drops him not two meters from the first as you begin work on the third suggestion.

    You turn and try to look at her but it is simply too dark to properly read her, you shrug, "Hmm... sorry. As I was saying you do not know what you are missing. There are few things as relaxing as a day spent fishing. Just you, your line, and the fish. Henry used to take me out to this small stream in the south of the Province... some of the best days of my life were spent out on the water or up to my hips in a creek... hmm... I have never told that to anyone..."

    The place was paradise... no war... no danger... no magic... just peace and a sky that went on forever. You have never seriously considered giving up your path in life. For you it is greatness or bust, but if you did... if you did it would be for that little creek and that endless sky.

    "Sounds dull," she is baiting you now.

    She drops the third guard as you get to work on the fourth, the Berserk.

    You should rise above... you don't, "Well admittedly it is not as interesting as fucking people for a livi- Oww..."

    She gives you another swat across the back of the head, "You know damn well, that is not what I did."

    "Not all of what you did," you correct her.

    She lets out a muffled laugh of her own, "Alright, not all of what I did. But you are right, even if you meant it as a joke. It is an interesting job. You meet all sorts of people, keep all sorts of hours. Yes you have intercourse, no sense romanticizing it and calling it love, but a lot of the time the clients just want company. You read to them, you sing for them, you talk to them, you listen, you probably do more listening than anything else... sometimes you just have to smile for them... you would be surprised how many of them just need a smile. You are the shoulder they cry on. What I did Derryth... I was a rock for them, I was a safe haven... I suppose you could say I was their stream. I am not saying they were all good people, Wyrd knows, most of them were probably monsters but they were good to me after a fashion..."

    You stare at her in the darkness, as you study her an odd question pops into your mind, "Do you miss it?"

    She does not have to think for a moment, "No. No, I can not say I will ever miss it. I miss some of the people, some of the time, but I would not want to go back. I think I have found a better future..." you think she gives you a brief smile though it is a bit hard to tell, "Provided you do not get me horribly killed..."

    You are about to reply when you hear footsteps. The Berserk is coming over and Wyrd is he a big one. You both hit him with an assault spell just to be sure. He drops to his knees and lands flat on his face. The two of you scavenge up some rope and cloth to act as gags as you set to work binding the men.

    Kneeling next to the men you check your knots. Everything seems to be in place, they should not get loose, "Well that should take care of it then. Shall we go rescue your friend?"

    "Yes, lets," she stops short as you turn to go, "Oh Derryth?"

    "Yes?" you stop and turn to her.

    "If you are willing, I would like to go fishing with you one day," her voice sounds uncertain but hopeful.

    You reply enthusiastically, "Sure. I would like that and I doubt Henry would mind. It truly is a beautiful spot and I need someone to share it with."

    "Alright then, I had better get practicing," she responds in a joyful tone.

    You take her by the arm and gesture to the four guards, "Well that is what we just finished doing. Quite the catch too, though I doubt any of them are worth keeping."

    She stifles a melodic laugh as the two of you make for the office.

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

    "I don't hear anything," you whisper to her.

    "Should we go in?" she replies, uncertain of what course to take next.

    "Well we are not going back empty handed. So yes we are going in," you take a moment to bind a strip of fabric around the bottom of your half of your face. It is not as good as a full mask but it should help to obscure some of your features. Thaïs follows suit.

    You check the door, it is unlocked. With one fluid motion the two of you burst into the room. Your silence thus far is rewarded. There in a tiny office sits Meletē, she is drinking wine. Across from her is the captain, a look of shock and outrage written plainly on his face.

    It takes him a moment to master himself but all things considered he shows remarkable self control, calmly he begins, "I do not know who you are but you are making a substantial mista-"

    He gets no further before you hit him with an assault spell. This man has a stronger will than average but you take the time to incapacitate him without doing any lasting damage. A firebolt would be quicker you are forced to admit but it would not feel right. This man has not wronged you and you have no wish to take his life. Hopefully he realizes the kindness you have extended to him.

    "Are you here for me by any chance?" Meletē considers the two of you from her seat.

    Thaïs steps towards her friend, "Oh Meletē, it is so good to see you again!"

    Meletē gives Thaïs a confused look, between the mask and the uniform she must not recognize her but you can tell she knows the voice. It takes her a moment but when she does figure it out she springs out of the chair and rushes towards her friend, "It is you! Oh thank Wyrd, I did not know if you received my message. These sons of bitches broke into my workshop and stole me away maybe two hours after you contacted me. Oh Tha-"

    You cut her off as politely as possible, "No names please. We do not know who is listening."

    Meletē gives you an appraising look, seems she is unsure about you and is about to say as much before Thaïs interjects, "She is right Meletē, no names until we are safely away."

    The inventor turns her attention back to her friend, "If you say so. Is she trustworthy?"

    "I would, no have, trusted her with my life. If not for her I would not have made it here," that seems to convince the inventor.

    She gives you a nod, "Well then I guess I owe you as well, whoever you are. So how do we get out of here?"

    "Same way we got in," you reach under your tunic and pull out a third servant's uniform. It takes a moment for Meletē to get changed but you are on the move and out of the compound within half an hour.

    You wind your way northward as the three of you laugh and chatter like old friends. Everyone is in high spirits following this unqualified success. You slip into an alleyway and out of your costumes before reaching the city proper. You do not know how much time you have before the mercenaries realize what has happened.

    You need to find a place to lay low and escape their attentions.

    Meletē explains the basics of the situation to you as you walk. She has a bounty on her head for the death of a high ranking noble in the empire. Naturally she claims innocence. The family of this man has money and connections through much of the empire and even within the kingdom. She cautions you that the Black Arrows, the mercenary company you just humiliated, will be out in force as soon as they realize she has escaped. There are also a number of private bounty hunters that are still looking for her as well. She warns you not to trust anyone unless you know them very well.

    It seems you have really stirred up the proverbial hornets' nest.

    You need a plan...


    1. Split up or stay together. You have managed to steal the inventor away without anyone realizing it. When the mercenaries realize she is gone they will naturally start searching for her. Your first decision should be whether you stay together as a group or split up and go your separate ways.

    A) Stay together. You did not go through all this trouble only to cut her loose now. You will find a safe house together and guard her until you can contact Bari.

    B) Split up. You will decide upon a safe house and she will proceed to it alone. You will then contact her once you find Bari and arrange to pick her up.

    C) freeform


    2. The Safe House. There are a few places she could hide, each has advantages and disadvantages you are sure.

    A)The Inn - perhaps an obvious choice but you could always hide her in your room. If you slip in unnoticed and before daybreak you will have a great alibi should the mercs come sniffing around. Of course if they force their way in...

    B)The warehouse - Meletē knows of an abandoned warehouse out on the west side of town. It is isolated and uninhabited as far as she knows so it should be easy to reach. Of course if the mercs figure out she is there they could easily move in, in numbers.

    C)The Academy Basement - Meletē is on good terms with some of the enchanters as she works with them regularly. You could try and convince them to hide her. It would be a fairly safe location given the number of mages and guards on hand however it would be difficult to get her in undetected and she would not be able to slip in until morning. She would have to spend the night mobile.

    D) The Palace - A bit of a gamble really but you could take her right to the Royal Palace and demand an audience with the king. You might get it or at least get Bari's attention or you might get the attention of bounty hunters and mercenaries...

    E) Trakk's family home - The dwarf mentioned the location of his home in passing. It would be a less likely target but that is a lot of heat to bring down on his family, his children and grandchildren.

    F) Mayer's Estate - you have an offer for the man anyway. You will simply make hiding Meletē part of the deal. He won't do it for free... hell it will cost you a lot and probably more than gold but he understands this city like few others. You are certain he can hide Meletē.

    G) Give her to Trakk - hire Trakk and his team at whatever rate they require and tell him to hide and guard her for the next few days wherever he thinks it's best. Once you find Bari you can go from there.

    H) Freeform - somewhere else? Where?


    3. Meletē's Workshop. From what you understand she has a number of very useful inventions stored at her workshop. Crossbows, explosives, all sorts of things really. You might want to secure them now rather than later. If you vote to stay together then she will come with you, if you vote to split up then she will head to the safe house while you secure her inventions.

    A) Loot the workshop.

    B) Leave the workshop.

    C) You will leave the workshop for now. You will inquires into purchasing the workshop and all attached property with Mayer's aid. Hopefully no one will loot or destroy the place in the meantime.

    D) freeform

    Also for those that are curious:

    The Rolls (open)
    You had to roll for every segment of hallway you crossed going in and out. Whenever you passed a servant or guard you had to roll to maintain your disguise. You did not have to roll to bait the guards. None of them had a WIS over 3 or any modifiers. The captain was given one check to see if he noticed the silence outside while you were disposing of the guards. None of the rolls were particularly difficult though and you easily passed them all. All and all it was a reasonable task to expect these two characters to pull off.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  4. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    I'm not sure what would be the best way to hide her, but I am for looting the shop. The quiet way we pulled this rescue off has given us a little time before someone wakes up or finds guards unconscious and they charge for the one place they know she could be, her workshop. A little time, but enough for us to get there first and grab the most valuable items we can. Later the place will almost certainly be staked out in case we are dumb enough to return there. Just make it very quick.
     
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  5. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
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    Location:
    Greece
    1B
    2F
    3A


    Lets use our Mayer connection to hide the inventor. We will also find out how much his services cost and that will be good to know in the future.
    Also we should definately loot the workshop after we hide Melete. It is somewhat risky but i am pretty sure it will worth it.
     
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  6. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    I am afraid that Mister Mayer can reveal Melete as easily as he can hide her. He should be able to use her safety as a bargaining chip in any negotiations considering our future prospects. Still, I believe he will profit more from cooperating with us, and will not push us. Doing so with a mage seems unwise.

    I do not feel good about splitting up, though it might be safer for us. However, if we do not split up, it is best not to loot her workshop. That's the first place they will look for her in.

    Secure the inventor, not her inventions. The items come and go. As long as the mind that conceived them is intact, you can always make more.

    AFB.
     
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  7. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    B - easier to hide one person.
    E - she is friend of dwarfs and if she stay low it will be very hard to track.
    B - expect mercenaries to be there, mby asking Bari to check it later with friend or two.
     
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  8. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    Eh. Spontaneous voting here:

    ABA
    B
    B>C>D>E
    A
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
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  9. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Say, Fangshi... Before (if) we split up with Melete, can we ask her what plans does she have for a foreseeable future and if she would be interested in becoming a private artificer for our group? We have enough wealth to supply her with whatever resourses she needs for her crazy inventions, and it would not be much different from what she had been doing so far. We can offer her protection and the potential to realize her wildest dreams. Surely this prospect might intrigue her?

    Also, what kind of inventions she specializes in and how costly and time-consuming it would be to make an upgrade, say, for Thais' crossbow? Basically, if she is going into hiding, I'd like to give her something to do in the meantime.

    By the way, what race is Melete? I assumed she was a dwarf, but now I am almost certain this is not the case. Is she human?
     
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  10. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Exploding heads, blood and brain matter everywhere and a lot of screaming. If any of them survived they would have been 'vegetables'.

    So long as you can protect her she has no problem working for you. Give her food, housing and materials and she will remain happy. It also helps that you are part of a very small group of people not trying to kill/capture her. ;)

    She does not have a specialty. Instead she works on whatever she thinks up. Her "process" goes as follows:

    1.Get exceedingly drunk.

    2. Utter the phrase "Wouldn't it be useful if ________?"

    3. Set to work scribbling out notes.

    4. ????

    5. Profit!?!

    As a result it may be a bit difficult to get her to work to commission. It would be a change of pace for her. But if you want to suggest a project you can... it might help to bring some alcohol though.

    She is human but very 'dwarf-like', hence the confusion.

    She is 'the Inventor' background from the start of the CYOA. All of those characters were present in and around the tent city though most of them have scattered to the four winds by now.


    Current Tally:

    asxetos 1B 2F 3A
    Kz3r0 1A 2A 3B
    Nevill 1A 2F 3C>B
    Jester 1B 2E 3B
    Azira 1B 2B>C>D>E 3A
    Cassidy 1A 2E 3B
    Baltika9 1A 2D 3A
    Zero Credibility 1B 2G>C 3A
    GreyViper 1A 2G 3C
    Grimgravy 1A 2G 3A>C
    Smashing Axe 1A 2G>E 3B>C

    Pre-flop:

    1.
    A) 7 votes
    B) 4 votes

    2.
    A) 1 vote
    B) 1 vote
    C)
    D) 1 vote
    E) 2 votes
    F) 2 votes
    G) 4 vote

    3.
    A) 5 votes
    B) 4 votes
    C) 2 vote

    Post Flop:

    1.
    A) 7 votes
    B) 4 votes

    2.
    A) 1 vote
    B)
    C)
    D) 1 vote
    E) 3 votes
    F) 2 votes
    G) 4 votes

    3.
    A) 5 votes
    B) 5 votes
    C) 1 vote
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
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  11. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Good thing we still have Tyvard's still, and took up professional drinking. That'll help in future brainstorming sessions.

    See? Professional drinking is good for Derryth. +M
     
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  12. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    ADA
    We're a hero in these lands (somewhat), they can kiss our ass.
     
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  13. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    We are, but we still need to get to the King for the dwarves to lift a finger.

    I still think we should resolve this with our own resourses, and that an inventor that can create mechanical birds (middle-ages UAV, anyone?) is worth a potential loss of profits/shares that could result from turning to Mayer for help.
     
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  14. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    I don't trust Meyer too much in regards to personal issues right now. I wouldn't rely on him too much when our partnership hasn't even started.
     
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  15. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
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    I agree and i dont want him to know that we got a head scientist pursued by some powerful people. Owning him sound like very bad idea imo.
     
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  16. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    I too don't want to deal with Mayer over this. Sure, he could hide her easily, but at what cost? And if he got a better offer, I don't think he would hesitate very long before betraying us (it's not like we are even partners yet). If we really have to deal with him I would prefer not to show any weaknesses for him to exploit. Unfortunately that doesn't leave many options. I don't want to hide her at our place, it's too obvious and two female mages can't be that difficult to track down, especially since we are (or will be) famous.

    I propose option 2 G - hire Trakk and his team (double or triple the wages if necessary) and tell him to hide and guard her for the next few days wherever he thinks it's best. His team knows the city and will do as good a job as any would.

    Voting:

    1 B - I would like for us to stay at the inn, if we suddenly disappear it's as good as admitting we were behind it. Why do that when we pulled it off so perfectly?
    2 G > C - because the academy sounds like a safe enough place - even if they know she is there they won't risk storming a place full of mages and guards, especially not when we haven't killed any of them yet.
    2 A - we do have a small window of opportunity to grab some valuables thanks to our stealthy rescue, if we do it right now and leave quickly.
     
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  17. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Good point on the first part of the vote. Amended my preferences.
     
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  18. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    Sure, added. Just to make sure I understand you will get in contact with Trakk and hand her off to him. He will stash her somewhere he thinks is safe and you will retrieve her after you have found Bari. Is that the gist of it?
     
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  19. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Yes. It's something like E I suppose, only instead of hiding it at his place he can stash her wherever he thinks it's safe both for her and for his family. And with his whole team guarding her.
     
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  20. GreyViper Erudite

    GreyViper
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    We wanted to hire Trakk anyway, now we have good reason. He really is his moneys worth. The thing with Inn is that before we did retire, didn't we put on a display of our will power or what did the other patrons observe?
    3C buy the deed to workshop and all that is within through proxies. Im sure or new banker friend can help with that.
     
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  21. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
  22. Smashing Axe Arcane Patron

    Smashing Axe
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    Divinity: Original Sin
    Going to Melete's workshop is an incredibly foolish idea and can only serve to give away our position. We might not have a confrontation there, but we very well could be followed. The first thing I'd do if I were in the captain's shoes would be to place a watch on her place. It's not worth the risk.

    Going to the inn is a bad idea as we're one of the few human female mages in the city, and our patrons at the very least know where we are.

    Going to the warehouse is a bad idea because it's a classic hideout for runaways.

    Going to the academy is a bad idea because it completely gives away our location and doesn't protect us at night.

    Going to the palace is a bad idea because it burns bridges with the king.

    Going to Trakk's family home is a dick move.

    Going to Mayer's estate is a bad idea because it puts us in a position of supplication when the power relationship between the two of us is already slightly in his favour.

    Giving her to Trakk is wise. He's solid enough that I don't think he'd betray us for the bounty. And we have the resources. (Besides, we know where his family is)

    A
    G>E
    B>C
     
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  23. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say here.
     
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  24. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
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    So currently we have a tie on whether or not to loot the workshop. 1.A (stay together) is winning as is 2.G (track down and hire Trakk to hide her). I will check back in 18-20 hours and see if we still have a tie.

    In the meantime, I have another Interlude I have been playing around with which may interest some people. As I have said, events continue to play out even when you are not present at a location. For example it seems Christine and Serpent have gotten into a little adventure...


    Interlude 1: The Honeymoon

    The thick canvas of the tent strains in the wind. Another cold, bitter evening in the Beserk lands, on the great island known as the Strainer of Krakens. She hates the cold, that and the lack of proper amenities. Everything they have, they have brought with them from the empire, courtesy of Derryth.

    She still is not sure about the farmer, the woman can be completely insufferable most of the time but every now and then the farmer really surprises her. Her bravery, her loyalty, her generosity... maybe she will not have to kill Derryth after all... maybe.

    She gives her head a shake, that is something to deal with in the future. Right now she has more pressing matters to attend to. As it stands they are easily the richest people on the entire island and with wealth comes power, with power comes problems and Christine has had far too many of those to deal with in the last few weeks. Speaking of which, she will have to deal with another one shortly.

    The crack of a whip brings her back. She surveys her surroundings. Christine stands suspended, striped to the waist. Her arm and legs bound by thin but strong ropes. She can not see him but he is somewhere behind her... somewhere behind her with that damned whip.

    The silence is deafening, finally he speaks, "You will tell me where the artefact is girl or I will make this painful."

    Her defiant response is immediate, "Never!"

    "Very well then," he stresses each syllable, drawing out his reply. She knows what will come next.

    She bites her lip as he strikes out with the whip, "How many lashes will it take? Forty? Fifty? You body will give out before my arm does!"

    He strikes out again and again and she counts the lashings in her mind, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen... thirty three, thirty four... forty six. She is so close, she will give in, she will tell him everything... every secret she has ever had... everything she has ever wanted... she is completely at his mercy.

    She screams.

    So he stops.

    She can hear him panting behind her, she can feel him untying her as quickly as his shaking hands will allow "Oh Wyrd! I am sorry Christine, I did not hurt you did I?"

    Free now she turns to him, frustration and anger competing within her, "Damn it Serpent! Why in the name of the Goddess did you stop! Now we have to start over from the beginning!" a wicked smile creeps onto her face, "Well unless you want to play the captured spy this time and I can be the savage warlord?"

    The physician shakes his head emphatically, "No, no. This is your fantasy dear and I am sorry I ruined it," he leans in, brushing her silver locks from in front of her eyes and deftly plants a single kiss on her lips.

    As angry as she gets with the man. He has a way with her. In moments he can bring her back to her senses. She pulls him close, "Sorry I yelled dear. I am glad you care for me. Maybe we can do something else instead, hmm..."

    Their privacy does not last long. A deep, bass voice calls out from just outside the tent, "My lord? My lady? The council is ready to meet you. May I come in?"

    She sighs as she pulls her robes back up around her. Serpent nods to her once and calls out to the voice, "Yes Captain Leo. You may enter."

    The captain looks every part the man of war that he is. Two weeks ago he was in command of their escort, a squad of twelve riders, now he leads almost one hundred Berserks in open rebellion against the Council of Seven, now the Council of Six.

    "Thank you my lord," Leo bows low, "The Council army has arrived, my men count at least four of the enemy lords and their leader."

    Serpent waves the captain off, "Alright Leo, thank you, we will be out in a moment."

    The captain gives a second low bow and exits the tent, striding back out into the dark.

    Serpent sighs and drops into a nearby chair, he raises one hand to his brow, "I can not believe we are doing this. Do you think it will actually work dear? Can we win?"

    She looks at her husband, the man needs a little reassuring so she saunters over and drops onto his lap, "Dear we are doing what we have to..."

    She thinks back. A lot has happened in little over a week.

    Their party crossed the empire without any real difficulty. The odd bandit attack, easily dispatched by her spells or their horsemen, but nothing truly dangerous. They stopped at the best inns and when no lodging was available they would sleep in their tent, it was relaxing... enjoyable... then they reached the island...

    The forty two tribes of the Strainer of Krakens were in an uproar. Not four months earlier seven of the tribes had banded together under the leadership of some 'great prophet'. The prophet's magic and the warriors of the seven tribes had succeeded in subjugating three quarters of the island by the time they arrived. Tyrvard's tribe, the Konthasos, naturally resisted and helped put together an alliance of their own. The rebels met to choose a leader and it was at that exact moment that she and Serpent rode up in their magnificent coach with their finely armed horsemen...

    In hindsight what happened next was not all that surprising. The rebels attacked them, they lashed out with their magic as their horsemen moved to cover them. Serpent drew Tyrvard's sword and began channelling through the blade, it glowed silver as he readied his spell.

    When she thinks about it, it still makes her smile. Her husband standing at the head of their horsemen, a greatsword glowing in his hand, casting a spell she taught to him... naturally the Berserks took this as a sign from their gods. They now had a prophet of their own, someone to lead them against the council, against the lowland scum, and so overnight Serpent had become King of the Northlands and she was his queen.

    Queen Christine... oh she likes that... has a certain ring to it in fact.

    They fought their first battle two days ago against one of the seven. Leo's tactics, the courage of the Konthasos and her magic had seen them through it. They had even managed to kill one of the seven.

    News of the victory spread.

    Now they stand at the head of a little over one hundred warriors, an alliance of twenty seven tribes.

    They have brought their enemies to battle here, on the fields of the lowlands not far from the hill they call The Chevin. Here they would fight them, here they would kill them and secure the whole of the island. At least that is the plan.

    "... Christine? Sweetheart? You still there?" her husband holds her her, waving a hand in front of her face.

    Her eyes sparkle as she stares at him, "Yeah, just drifted off for a second, it has been a strange week..."

    "That it has," he pulls her closer, she rests her head on his shoulder, "But like you say, we can not abandon these people-"

    "Or our thrones Serpent, we will get thrones right?" she looks up at him, "and crowns, and silks, and gold, and-"

    He chuckles a little, "I am sure they will treat us well if we win."

    'If we win' he says, she dwells on that for a moment. These 'lowlanders' and their warriors do not concern her. She has her magic, her warriors, her husband. They can deal with a few savages even if they are slightly outnumbered... but this 'prophet', if he is even half as powerful as they say, will be a problem.

    Thankfully she has a few tricks up her sleeves yet, "Serpent dear, I have to step out for an hour. I will be back before the battle but I think there are a few things I can do to increase our chances."

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

    He did not want to let her go.

    He loves his wife dearly, more with each passing day in fact but he also knows that she will always do what she believes is best. Rare is the occasion when he can alter her course, rather it is his job to see she survives this mess.

    "Where is she," he mumbles. He stands at the head of his hundred men. Leo has taken his cavalry around and is waiting in ambush to hit the enemy's rear but Christine is still missing.

    He looks to his left and right. Tall, proud Berserks stare back at him. Bran of the Iron Skin, Tyrvard's cousin, a great bear of a man covered from head to toe in bright red hair stands to his right, the Berserk notices him staring and gives him a wink, "Death or glory cousin!"

    To Serpent's left stands Angtyr with Screaming Iron, Tyrvard's sworn brother, now Serpent's sworn brother, the big man gives him a single nod and a slap on the back, "Ready to drive these lowland bastards back to their swamps brother?"

    "Yes, I just wish Christine was back," the physician nods.

    The Berserk gives him a sympathetic look, "Ah, your girl looks like she can take care of herself and if she should die... Well there will be dozens of fine northern lasses lined up to enter your bed!"

    Leo has leant him a suit of armour, leather mostly but off good quality. In his right hand he holds Tyrvard's blade, he has not the skill to wield it but as a symbol it serves its purpose and when he channels his spells through it, it glows slightly. The Berserks take it is a good omen and it bolsters their morale greatly.

    The enemy drawn up against them outnumbers them two to one, a core of fifty Berserks supplemented by levies drawn from the lowlands. But things are not as bleak as they first appear, fully half of the enemy are fit for little more than dying, the rest draw their strength from their lords and their prophet. Should they fall the battle will be over.

    Serpent turns to his men, he should probably give some sort of speech but what? He thinks for a moment, he is not a man of action, he is not a leader of men. He wishes Gareth was here, or Derryth, or Tyrvard, or any of them really. He feels so alone and so weak.

    Then he remembers one of Derryth's little pearls of wisdom.

    Once he had asked her how she became so brave, so strong, so determined in the face of overwhelming odds, up against mad mages and ancient gods. She had leaned in and whispered in his ear, "The answer is simple Serpent. I fake it. Every day I tell myself that I have a duty to those that trust in me. I am not brave but for them I can be. I am not strong but for them I will be. So for me there are only two roads," she held up one hand, palm facing the darkness above them, "Death," then she held up the other and made a fist with it, her eyes ablaze, "Or victory,"

    Now months later he remembers her words and draws strength from them.

    He has a duty to these people and those he left back in the empire. He will not fail them, he will not fail Christine, he will not fail himself, he takes a deep breath and he fakes courage for them, "No speeches men. I have not the tongue for it. Fight for me! Bleed for me! Die for me! And I promise to free your people! Death or victory!"

    "Death or victory!" the call is taken up by his army as Serpent mounts up. He is no horseman but the beast is well trained. It will take him where he needs to be. With one final glance over his army he gives the signal to advance.

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

    The Prophet reclines in his tent. Alone except for a serving girl and his pet crow.

    The rebels have finally offered battle. His lords will crush them and he will rule the entire island. It has been an easy affair when all is said and done. His new master has given him everything he could need to humble the northmen. He will conquer them, then lead them in war against the empire. His master promises him victory after victory and until last week he had no reason to doubt.

    He stands, buckling on his ornate armour, he turns searching for his sword...

    No reason to doubt at all, then the Seventh had fallen up in the highlands and this rabble had come down to challenge him. Some minor mage had stirred them up against him but he was strong and his master stronger still.

    He will succeed. If anything this little rebellion has revealed every traitor in his midst. He will ride out there and crush them all. First though, he could use a drink...

    "Girl, more wine!" she quickly grabbed a pitcher and a glass and fills it up for him.

    He snatches up the glass and drinks deeply, "Another!"

    Dutifully she fills another glass for him and again he empties it. A strong drink, but good. He turns to the girl, she intrigues him. He grabs her by her silver hair, staring into her grey eyes, he gives her a sinister grin, "Girl what is your name? How would you like to be mistress to a king?"

    She does not break his stare, "Why be mistress my lord when I can be queen?"

    Confused, he pushes her away, "If that is the way you want it girl perhaps-"

    A great cheer can be heard from across the battlefield, "Death or Victory!"

    He frowns, "You will remain here girl and I will deal with you after the battle!"

    Sweetly she replies, the ghost of a smile haunting the corners of her mouth, "Oh but my lord, I intend to deal with you right now."

    His eyes narrow, "Who are you girl?"

    The smile spreads into a vicious grin, "They call me the Black Spider where I come from but here I am Queen of the Northlands."

    The Prophet draws his blade and advances on her, but this girl, unarmed and unarmoured betrays not the slightest hint of fear, two words leave her lips, "Good bye."

    She casts a single spell... not at him... but into him...

    The Prophet staggers backward crashing through a table. The pain is immense. He tears off his armour as his stomach begins to bubble and squirm. In horror he watchs as his skin begins to crawl, to writhe, to tear.

    He screams.

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

    She has really outdone herself this time. A two part, magical poison. Get the target to ingest it and then cast the spell to active it. Still the next part was going to be rather... unpleasant.

    Naturally all the noise alerts the guards. Good, she needs an audience for what is to come. Four of them burst in. She makes sure to memorize each of their faces. When she becomes queen she does not want any of these incompetents guarding her or Serpent.

    "Boys you might as well drop your weapons," she drops into the most comfortable looking chair in the room.

    "What did you do to the Prophet, you bitch!" shouts the closest man.

    That is no way to talk to a queen. She demonstrates her displeasure by blasting his head off with a single, silver bolt of energy, "Now then you three are going to stand right there and watch this. Then you are going to run out of here and tell everyone what you saw. This war is over. You have lost."

    On cue their 'prophet' lets out another scream. His stomach has swollen up to twice its natural size and it is rolling. Slowly at first the flesh gives way accompanied by a wet, ripping noise that turns her stomach slightly. Still she has to put on a convincing act so she sits there and watches. Smiling though part of her wants to run from the room.

    With one final sickening pop the man known as the 'great prophet' is no more. He is split in half as dozens of newborn spiders pour forth. It takes a little doing to control them all but she only has to get them moving towards the door and the guards. Once they are on their way nature will handle the rest.

    Three guards and over forty spiders pour out of the tent into the camp. The panic spreads like wildfire.

    Her work done, Queen Christine, slips out the back of the tent headed back to camp.

    The crow sits and watches. Attempting to digest everything it has seen. It has so many things to share but first it has to escape, find its brethren and get the message south.

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

    Serpent fights on, bolts of silver energy and webbing burst forth from his blade as his Berserks fight and die around him.

    Four of the council had been present at the battle. Angtyr had decapitated one at the beginning of the fight. Leo had skewered another when he hit the enemy rear. Serpent had even captured one himself with a well placed entanglement spell. The final enemy lord was doing his best to rally his soldiers but something had panicked them. Their entire camp was in an uproar and the prophet had yet to make an appearance. At this point victory was almost guaranteed. Then the challenge came.

    "Mage! Are you going to hide back there and let other men die in your stead? Fight me!" this lord is a typical Berserk, big in every way except imagination.

    Casually Serpent points his blade at the man and unleashed a pair of silver arrows. The first hits the man in the shoulder, the second catches him in the stomach. He collapses in the grass and the Berserks moved in for the kill.

    Throughout the battlefield Berserks howl their victory to the sky. The enemy routs.

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

    "Forty six... forty seven... forty eight! Forty nine! FIFTY!" she screams the words as Serpent winds downs. After a moment he slips her out of her bonds and the two of them curl up on their bed.

    "So how was that your majesty," he grins at her.

    "Wonderful, your majesty," she rests on her stomach, her back still a bit tender from the silk whip, "Ah, a queen Serpent! I am a queen, and you are a king! Isn't it wonderful!"

    He smiles at her, happy for her but also worried, "We will see my dear. In the end it may simply be an honorary title. The clans will meet in the coming weeks and we will see what comes of it. There are also the final two traitors on the loose and the one we have captive awaiting interrogation. They could cause us all a lot of trouble..."

    "Shhh dear," she places a single finger to his lips, "Leave off with all these troubles till tomorrow. Tonight... tonight we celebrate..." the smile she gives him promises a very enjoyable night for them both.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
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