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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
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    Solve it, restore Nine's memories. Fuck the battling archmages (not literally, this is not a vote for lesbomancy).

    Fii

    Golem B
     
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  2. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Messages:
    2,871
    Well I'm voting for Fii, sure. And if everyone is sure that the answer is golem B, put me down for that one as well. I'm too tired right now to even think so I'm trusting you people. And if we guessed wrong I'm not to blame.
     
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  3. asxetos Augur

    asxetos
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Messages:
    807
    Location:
    Greece
    Fii B for me too, although i didnt have time to verify Nevill's 2-step solution. I hove it works.
     
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  4. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,493
    Back, guess its my luck that when there was riddle i couldnt use computer for a day.

    For quick update - F II B


    Oh btw true Man would solve it in 0 questions.
    :smug:
    Course he could become vegetable man afterwards.
     
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  5. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    Looks fairly unanimous. With seven votes Fii Golem B can't really lose at this point so I am going to close it.

    The update should be ready in 12-14 hrs.
     
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  6. Fangshi Arcane

    Fangshi
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,997
    It ran a bit long...

    Chapter 18: Just Another Day

    Riches are nice.

    Power is great.

    But what you enjoy most in life is a good puzzle.

    To solve it, to frustrate the designs and intentions of another, to bask in the glory of your success and to have it reaffirmed that you are just that much smarter, that much better, than the person that sought to resist you, to confuse you, to defeat you.

    That feeling of exhilaration, exaltation, pure and complete joy and self satisfaction. It is one of the reasons you risk your life raiding tombs, it is one of the reasons you get out of bed in the morning.

    There is nothing for you quite like a good test, a good challenge.

    This one you solve in two questions.

    Now all that is left is to reveal what you know.

    Dramatically you point to the middle golem, "He has the information we need."

    Your two companions look on in confusion, they question you at the same instant, "Are you sure?"

    You flash them a wide grin, "Of course I am sure! I am a professional!"

    "Alright then, 'Miss professional', explain it," your friend replies.

    You are about to do just that when another large tremor shakes the room. As much as you would enjoy laying it all out for them, now really is not the time, "Look I will explain it to you both when we are not on the verge of complete annihilation. Now, Nine, if you trust me, if you want to 'live' then pick the middle golem now."

    Your mentor flutters her long eyelashes and extends one delicate hand to the middle golem, "May I have your gift sir?"

    The golem makes a whirling noise, it clicks and its faceplate falls off.

    Within the darkness of its empty head a single speck of light shines out.

    It begins to grow, slowly at first, as the room around you shakes.

    It accelerates, Nine is hit with the blinding light and with a gasp she disappears.

    For a moment you doubt yourself.

    The light continues to expand. The table disappears, the chairs, Thaïs is caught in mid stide and disappears as well.

    Did you make the wrong decision?

    It is the last thought that occurs to you before you too disappear.

    .

    ..

    ...

    Well girl I must say I am impressed, it is the Faceless Man, chiming in once again.

    At first you think he is speaking to you telepathically again but as your eyes adjust to your new surroundings you notice a thin, pale, elderly gentleman sitting at Nine's table where the golems used to be. His clothes are simple, clean and crisp. Everything about him is unremarkable. If you saw him in the street you doubt you would remember him. Perhaps that is his secret, to go through life and leave only the slightest trace of his passing.

    "We are alive?" a voice asks to your right. You turn slightly, careful not to let the Faceless Man out of your sight and you see Thaïs. Turning to the left you see Nine. Well at least you are all still alive for the time being.

    You take a moment to get a better grasp of your surroundings.

    The room is gone and the light that blinded you is in fact the sun. You are outside of the city, in a green field filled with tiny white and red flowers. A lazy afternoon breeze blows through the meadow and the flowers gently sways to and fro.

    The light, the breeze, they both feel so good that you almost drop your guard. At the last moment you remember where you are. Thaïs shoots you a glance of acknowledgement, you are both acutely aware that you are still at risk here despite what your senses tell you.

    In the distance the emerald city teeters on the brink. Many of its towers hang suspended in mid air. The entirety of Nine's mind has been frozen in place it seems.

    The Faceless Man coughs once to get your attention, "Please, take a seat," he casually gestures to an open chair next to you. You do not particularly care for the compulsion he directs at you. It takes your complete attention to remain standing. A thin smile caresses his lips, "You just will not do anything the easy way will you?" He breaks off his attack though you have a feeling you have not witnessed one, one hundredth of his actual power.

    He holds his hands up in mock surrender, "Please ladies, sit. No tricks this time I promise."

    He conjures up a large pitcher of cool, clear water. Little slices of cucumber float in it, "I like the taste," he replies to your stares.

    He pours himself a glass and offers one to each of you. You and Thaïs politely decline while Nine graciously accepts. With such little niceties taken care of he begins in earnest, "My, my! You are a clever thing Derryth. Solved the puzzle in two steps and what? A minute and a half? You know traditionally it takes three. Culwyeh would have done it in three. Though I suppose she never was one for invention, for creative thought, she could replicate exactly everything I taught her and everything she learnt on her own but she could never innovate. A shame really..."

    You are certain he knows what you will ask next, but your curiosity has been piqued, "You taught Culwyeh?"

    "I did," he nods slightly, "I have had many 'students' but she was the greatest. Well at least before her fall..."

    "Her fall?" Thaïs asks.

    He waves his left hand in the air, brushing away the idea, "We will get to that eventually. For now I would like to give you a reward for solving my riddle. It would have gone to Culwyeh but, well, it does not look like she will survive after all," he sighs as he glances back at the frozen city, you are not sure if it is a sigh of regret or disappointment.

    When he turns his gaze back to you he presses on, "Where was I? Oh yes, a reward, though I am not certain what exactly you could desire. You are so stubborn Derryth, so difficult to read, and you refuse to let me in so I have picked out a few little spells and you can tell me what you desire most."

    He reaches under the table and lifts up the three faceplates of the golems, one bronze, one silver and one gold.

    Take your pick my girl, you have earned it!

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

    1. Your reward:

    A) The Bronze Mask, the 'Warrior's Mask': It contains a spell that temporarily strengthens the body granting it some bronze-like properties while the spell is maintained. The target become stronger and more durable at the expense of speed and fine motor skill.

    B) The Silver Mask, the 'Noble's Mask': It contains a spell that renders the target more persuasive to others. This is a subtle spell and hard to detect as it is often not directed at the intended 'victim' but instead at the caster or a willing accomplice.

    C) The Gold Mask, the 'Mage's Mask': A spell that allows the caster to change their facial features to match any face they can remember. The clearer the memory the more exact the reproduction will be. It only works on the face not the whole body which makes you think it is part of a larger spell. The Faceless Man cautions you however that overuse, misuse, or prolonged use can lead to the permanent 'loss' of 'your' face.

    D) You do not accept any of the gifts. You can not be sure but you are certain the Faceless Man is up to something and you will accept nothing from him.

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

    With that matter taken care of he turns to Nine, "So you are what has become of my favourite pupil?"

    He tilts his head slightly as he assesses her. Nine, usually one to enjoy such attention, wilts under his gaze. After a moment that seems like an eternity he comes to a decision, "You won, with the help of your pupil mind you but you won all the same. I do not think you will be any worse than Culwyeh was... perhaps you will even be better..." he shrugs slightly, "I will not stand in your way, at least," he pushes a tiny gold box across the table and Nine opens it.

    She stares into the box absorbed in what she sees.

    You call to her but receive no response.

    You reach out to shake her but the Faceless Man stops you with a word, "I wouldn't do that Derryth. It is a lot for her to process and you would not want to interrupt the... well the process."

    "How will we know when it is done?" Thaïs asks, concern for her teacher clearly inscribed upon her features.

    He gives you a mysterious smile, "It will be done when it is done."

    Instinctively you frown and are about to protest.

    He lets out a dramatic and weary sigh, "Don't even start. I know what you are going to say. I know you are going to object. You always object," with a careless swipe of his hand Nine's three screens appear before you, "If you want something to pass the time you can watch as Nine learns about her past. If nothing else it will serve as a lesson to you, and a warning."

    The first scene that plays out must have been long ago, at the very dawn of human history.

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

    A small fishing village somewhere to the far north.

    Tiny hide huts dot the landscape as humans dressed in furs and carrying stone spears and axes move about.

    Two young children play amidst the tents.

    A young boy, maybe six, brown hair, brown eyes, and caked in mud chases a little girl of the same age around the camp. Her golden hair trails behind her as they laugh. Running with the a joyful abandon inevitably lost as one ages.

    The girl stops, she points at figures on the horizon.

    She screams as the first of them come into view.

    The creatures howl and charge down at the camp in a large pack.

    They are nightmares of fur and claw.

    They are Myrkridia.

    The villagers put up a brave fight but this was well before the age of iron, well before the age of bronze. Without the weapons of later civilizations the Myrkridia can not be matched.

    You feel a sense of helplessness as you watch them massacre the village. The little girl grabs her friend's hand and they run from the creatures.

    One of them spots the children.

    It charges down on them but is struck by a bolt of yellow light. Its hair falls out, as do its claws and teeth. Its liquefied organs pour forth as it deflates, the spell reminds you of Culwyeh fighting against the Marked and you speculate that it is a similar, if not the same, spell.

    The girl stares in wonder as a thin man with a regal and distinctive face framed in furs lays into the horde of monstrosities.

    Armed with a spear the glistens in the sunlight he strikes out with spell and weapon driving the creatures back before him. He lets not one of them live.

    "Heh, I really knew how to make an entrance, didn't I?" the Faceless Man chuckles, more to himself than to either of you, "Of course with time you realize that it is better to let others lead. Power and position are not the same thing and you should never confuse one for the other. Better to be a duke than a king, better to be a king than an emperor. Better still to control all and be seen by none... though such a life does have its costs."

    The villagers gather around the man. They bow before him. They worship him.

    They bring him furs and food but he wants neither.

    He points to the girl. She is his price.

    The villagers readily grant it.

    They tear the child from her mother.

    The boy tries to stop them and receives a sound thrashing for it. They leave him broken in the mud. You doubt he survived.

    With the child following behind him the man wanders out of the village into the growing darkness.

    You take a small guess, "Why did you take Culwyeh?" you are rewarded with a slight nod of approval.

    "I was bored and lonely," the Faceless Man mutters in between sips of his water, "I had spent the last few hundred years wandering alone and I wanted company. The girl was as good as any. She was young, she would be easy to train, to mould, and because she was so young I would not have to worry about training another servant for decades. Things... things did not quite turn out the way I had planned."

    He pulls one of the other windows over as a new scene plays out.

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

    Culwyeh is a grown woman now. She follows behind the Faceless Man as he wanders the north. At first you think merely a couple decades have past but you begin to notice slight differences.

    The first thing you notice is that the Faceless Man has a different face. It is broad and flat with the deep lines of someone that lives fully and without reserve. A broad, friendly smile clings to it constantly. Other smaller details present themselves to you now.

    Culwyeh sports bronze greaves and a matching chest plate mixed in with her furs. Under one arm she carries a helmet of bronze and a pair of palstave axes hang from her belt. The Faceless Man still carries his spear, the head of which remains the same. The odd stone it is made from still shines brightly in the sun.

    The two of them stand at the crest of a tall hill watching a battle play out below.

    A few dozen human hunters battle a force of Myrkridia twice their size. They have the edge in discipline but the creatures have the numbers to overcome them.

    Culwyeh points at the warriors.

    The Faceless Man shakes his head.

    She stomps a foot.

    He turns away.

    Securing her helmet she races down the hill, readying her axes as she goes.

    When she hits the rear of the Myrkridian line she tears through it.

    Fortified by her magic she is near untouchable and the Myrkridia scatter before her.

    The surviving warriors circle her.

    Their leader steps forward and salutes her.

    When she removes her helmet they fall quiet.

    Their leader gestures to her, then to some place over the hills. You gather that he is inviting her back to his camp.

    She glances back to the Faceless Man up on the hill. He refuses to look at her.

    She nods to the man and leaves with him.

    The Faceless Man raises his glass in a toast, "To love! Destroyer of men, leveller of kingdoms, and the ruin of the world!" dramatically he knocks back the entire drink, "Hmm... nope, I need alcohol for this. He waves his hand again and the contents of the pitcher change colour. His glass shifts shape in his hand as he pours himself a rather generous dose of wine, "Ah well, nothing lasts forever they say. What that means for those of us who do, in fact, last forever is that in time we will lose everything."

    He flips the window over to reveal a new scene, the development of a city, a kingdom, over hundreds of years all happening at an accelerated pace. Small blurred figures race back and forth as the camp turns into a town and finally a small city, "You see, Nine is living each second of 'her' life over again in there. It will take her quite some time in fact. Even at the speed of thought she has thousands of years to experience and that is before things get... complicated... this could take her years of real time to sort out... Thankfully we do not have to wade through the minutia. I will give you the quick version. We... parted ways at that battle. She went on to lead that tribe to greatness while I continued to wander. She ruled them as their queen alongside that mortal warrior you witnessed. He died but not before they had a son. Their boy ruled on after them as she withdrew from the actual management of the city. Still she never was one for hiding, she remained a public figure, a sort of patron god of the city. In time she ruled, directly and indirectly, most of the north. Her kingdom was called-"

    "Yer-Ks, yes 'Culwyeh' mentioned the name," you interrupt him.

    "That is right girl, good to know you pay attention," he grins but it is short lived, "She essentially ruled Yer-Ks, the kings and queens of her line were mere puppets and anyone with even a scrap of intellect realized it. Have you heard of the Trow, girls? The 'consorts of Nyx', the 'masters of iron', the 'natural rulers' of the world through much of its history. Well the Trow once encountered a race called the Callieach, masters of the arcane arts, builders of some of the most wondrous cities the world has ever seen! Why the mage towers of the Callieach alone put to shame anything worked by human or dwarven hands... so I am told. At any rate the Trow encountered the Callieach and realized that they could not subjugate them. So they wiped them out and damned both races. Now, the Callieach were the greatest threat to the Trow prior to Connacht himself. What do you think they did when they noticed a new kingdom ruled by a powerful and eternal mage forming to their north?"

    He pauses for a moment but it is clear he does not expect or even want an answer. He is wrapped up in his story and you have a feeling he would continue to speak even if you were both to disappear. He wants to speak and so you will let him.

    He refills his glass and continues.

    Once more a new memory pushes its way forward. Smoke on the horizon, a city under siege, and the Trow. Great grey giants encased in black iron armour wielding hammers and blades bigger than a man. This is the war machine of the greatest empire to ever exist, before the slave revolts that ruined them, before Connacht who trapped them. This is the Trow at their height and they are terrifying even as a memory, "They marched on her. Columns of Trow warriors with their spellbound slaves descended on Yer-Ks. Culwyeh was proud, she was stubborn, she could be quite smart when she bothered, all of it counted for nothing against the Trow though, she stood no chance. She fell in battle with them though I managed to steal away her body. Her kingdom fell below the waves. At the time I sensed dark magic at work in that, not something from the Trow, but as it did not concern me I did not investigate."

    The Faceless Man shakes his head, "It took me months to revive her... and even then... she was marked by the experience. She became prone to fits of rage. She was still the woman I cared for but... well she had changed... I suppose we all change... nature of the business."

    You wonder if he is misleading you. Trying to portray himself as some sort of tragic figure. Is this all a trap or is he so lost in the past that he is simply letting everything out.

    The next memory is centered on a different person.

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

    A young girl with short jet black hair sits on the edge of her mother's table. She gossips and when she thinks she can get away with it she snatches at the bowl of sweets next to her.

    Her mother catches her, she scolds her, though you can not quite make out the words. One word however you can read clearly, Shiver.

    His weariness is palpable, "Yes, Culwyeh became a real terror after that. Though I will admit things became easier for me. I no long had to hold back around her. In fact, she would often push me to go further. Oh we had a lot of fun together then and I let her take all of the credit. She wanted to hurt everyone, to destroy everything, if she could not rule then no one would and for my part, I simply did not care anymore. Mothers throughout the empire would warn their children, 'Don't break the rules or Shiver will get you', 'Don't lie or Shiver will steal you away', that sort of thing. Eventually she simply became Shiver to all but a few. An ancient evil from an unknown age sent to plague mankind, it is so very rarely that simple."

    The child sticks her tongue out at her mother and receives a sharp slap for her trouble. She runs to her room crying.

    That night she slips out of her second story window and runs off into the street, a small box under her arms.

    He gestures absentmindedly at the screen, "I suppose you know who that child is Derryth? Her name was Ravanna and she would grow up to be a real terror herself though never one of mine. Lets jump ahead a bit more. Sure Ravanna has a sob story all of her own, you don't make it down the centuries without hurting others and being hurt, but I always loathed the bitch so to hell with her!"

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

    "Ah, now this is where things get interesting," the scene that materializes in front of you is of a city under siege or just following a siege. From the architecture you are certain that this is Muirthemne. The smoke, flames and screams in the background suggest that this is right after the fall of that city to the Fallen Lords a century ago.

    Three figures stand in a watchtower attached to the palace compound.

    "Come now Damas! Together the three of us can manage this!" a wild eyed beauty in black silk, a rather fey creature all things considered, cajoles a muscular warrior. As he turns to face her you see he is missing his nose and much of his lower face.

    This is without a doubt Soulblighter.

    From what you have heard of the man he was a beast, a creature of hatred and malice and loyal only to Balor. The look in his eyes is so at odds with what you know of him, it is a look of concern, and something else... compassion? No. You are certain that there is none of that in this man. Doubt maybe, fear perhaps, though not for himself.

    The woman turns to the third figure in the watchtower, "Tell him Myrdred! Tell him what you told me about that bitch!"

    Myrdred, the Deceiver, a thin, balding man in unassuming attire. At first glance he is easily the least impressive of the three, his eyes dart quickly from one of them to the other and he grins widely, he gives off the air of a fool but upon careful consideration he is easily the most dangerous of the three.

    Damas does not let him speak, "Why in the name of the gods would you trust this snake anyway! For all you know this is a trap! He will betray us both if we do this!"

    He does not seem upset by the accusation. Perhaps because the truth of it is so very obvious. Deferentially he raises a single finger, "If I may speak? Yes, I may betray you. But then you may each betray me in turn, correct? What I propose is that we work together to achieve out goals. Balor puts far too much trust in the ancients but they are not loyal to him. They serve because they have to but what if they get loose one day? What if that monster the Watcher slips his chain? What if that snake the Faceless Man gets loose into the world with no way to find him? What if Shiver finds a way out and decides to butcher us as well?" he begins to pick up speed, to become more excited as he speaks, "No, we need a way to even out the scales! We need tools to lay them low! The Empire has fallen, the Province is a backwater and will not seriously resist us, now is the time to strike! Balor no longer needs them! He has us and the young ones!"

    Damas shakes his head, "What you are proposing would be treason. We are forbidden from fighting each other. Ravanna, listen to reason-"

    She laughs at him, "Reason Damas? Rules? Really? Shiver does not give a damn about the 'rules'! She will kill me the first chance she gets! The Watcher has already attempted to murder Myrdred numerous times-"

    Damas scoffs, "Probably with good reason!"

    "Probably..." the Deceiver smiles, "I wonder what 'good reasons' the Faceless Man will come up with to put you down Damas? Balor listens to his council far more than yours already... and now that Balor has the Bonesplitter to serve as his dog you are quickly becoming redundant," Myrdred grins from ear to ear as Damas squirms.

    "Damas! We can do this! First Shiver, then the Faceless Man and finally the Watcher!" Ravanna sweeps her arms gracefully through the air, "We will become the new ancients! We simply have to trap them and pick them clean of their knowledge."

    The view shifts to the throne room of the old palace.

    The Emperor's throne lay broken, tipped on its side.

    The room appears empty save for Damas who paces nervously. Casting long shadows along the floor and walls from the large braziers on either side of the room.

    Culwyeh, no Shiver, enters, "You wanted to speak to me, Soulblighter?"

    She is direct and to the point.

    He begins, "Yes, Balor has instructions for you-"

    She pays him little more than a passing glance, "Where is he then?"

    Soulblighter seethes, "He will be along shortly he-"

    "You are lying!" she snarls. Shadows begin to pool in the corners of the room.

    "I-" he sputters.

    Shiver narrows her eyes.

    Ravanna springs her trap.

    You watch the scene unfold from two sets of eyes.

    The shadows coil around Shiver, immobilizing her as Ravanna leaps forward.

    Shiver lashes out, the ground cracking and heaving as tremors shake the throne room. Two of the braziers tip over spilling coals out on the cracked marble floor.

    The shadows begin to disintegrate. Ravanna giggles, "A little help please! She is too strong!"

    Damas hits Shiver with a spell of his own. A blade of grey-green magic pierces her side. She howls and points at Soulblighter with a now free hand. He hits the floor and skids across the room. His body begins to crack under the pressure but Shiver is completely absorbed fighting off the Voiceless One and Soulblighter.

    Then the Deceiver strikes.

    You will give him this, he picks the perfect time.

    He let his allies do all the work tying her up and tiring her out. Then he delivers the killing strike.

    Only he does not kill her.

    He incapacitates her.

    Ravanna hops over to them as Soulblighter climbs to his feet and limps over as well.

    The three of them form a triangle around Shiver.

    You recognize this ritual.

    It is very similar to the one you used to gain access to Nine's mind.

    You can feel Myrdred and Damas reach out to Ravanna. They secure the bridge between her mind and Shiver's.

    The Voiceless One crosses over into Shiver's mind.

    Everything is still for a moment.

    Then Myrdred does something, it is subtle but you can just feel it.

    He sabotaged Ravanna... then he lets go.

    Shiver and the Voiceless One scream out in unison.

    The whole palace shakes.

    The perspective shifts again.

    You do not see the next scene from Culwyeh's eyes, nor do you see it from Ravanna's. You see it from the Faceless Man's. He gives you a sad smile, "Neither of them witnessed my failure quite like I did. You have sat through most of the tale, you may as well see the end..."

    The main doors of the throne room explode inward.

    The Watcher and a swarm of Shades storm in with the Faceless Man close behind.

    Myrdred raises his hands in surrender and begins to back towards the throne.

    Damas tries to stammer a response but the Faceless Man silences him, "Do not speak! And for all that you hold dear do not release the tethers on Ravanna!"

    He enters Shiver's mind. Desperate to once again save her. To bring her back. To prove his mastery.

    It is odd to see the process from his perspective.

    The collision of two minds.

    Their panic drives them together.

    Though he tries to calm them.

    Their mutual hatred keeps them from working together.

    Though he tries to reason with them.

    Their arrogance prevents them from listening to him.

    Though he screams, he begs, he pleads.

    And just like that they are gone.

    Or almost gone.

    He fires off one spell, one message, one lifeline to the woman he knew. Fashioned in the form of a single music box.

    He hurls it into the chaos.

    That gets the attention of this shattered monstrosity.

    The swirling chaos that replaces their minds reaches for him.

    It is hungry, it is angry, it is insane.

    He flees.

    He runs for the first time in his career.

    Beaten.

    Utterly beaten and that hurts him the most. Not that he failed her but that he failed at all. That he was outmanoeuvred by that child Myrdred, that he had not prepared her for a possibility he had never even thought of. His first thought is how to avenge himself on that little worm, that little coward.

    He is angry not sad.

    Instinctively you are a bit angry at him for that.

    Then he notices Damas.

    Never the best mage, never the smartest, never the wisest but he refuses to release her.

    He is maintaining the tethers to Ravanna's mind out of sheer stubbornness and stupidity. He risks his very mind but there is no fear in him, not now.

    So the anger gives way to shame and the Faceless Man starts to think, starts to scheme and an idea occurs to the him. He may not be able to restore the Shiver but he can restore a Shiver.

    From this his greatest failure he can create a testament to his ingenuity, to his ability.

    He will fashion a person.

    He darts around the edge of this cauldron of insanity.

    He snatches up the scraps, copies them and casts them back. The result is an approximation of a mind. Scraps of memories from both women woven together to hide the blanks and inconsistencies. He alters locations, people, places. He removes himself entirely from her memories and in so doing removes a witness to his failure.

    He gives her the most direct of their magics, things he can easily steal, things he has seen them cast in the past. He retrieves the Whisper Dream and hangs it at the center of her.

    He names her Shiver, the Mother of Plagues and First Lady of the Fallen.

    Culwyeh is dead.

    Ravanna is dead.

    In time the world will cease to remember they ever were.

    His failure will remain his own.

    He gives his creation to Soulblighter and Damas guides it back to its body.

    The Faceless Man returns to his own mind.

    Soulblighter clutches an unconscious Ravanna to him. Myrdred remains surrounded by Shades. The Watcher pinning him in place.

    The Faceless Man will kill them both but he runs out of time.

    Three figures casually stride through the shattered main doors.

    The first is wizen, skeletal, a pair of blades in his hands. He is Balor's general and leader of the Myrmidons, the Bonesplitter.

    The second is a young woman, a tiny creature hidden in rags, eternally dirty. She is the Lurker, Balor's pet archmage and protégé, the youngest of the Fallen.

    The final figure is clad in silver armour. A great horned helm hides his face. He is the Leveller himself, Balor, Connacht, their Emperor.

    The assembled archmages drop to their knees as he enters all save Myrdred and the Faceless Man. They glare at one another. Then they smile.

    "What has happened here?" Balor sounds annoyed. You get the impression that, that is not a good thing.

    It is the Faceless Man that speaks in response, "A small experiment, nothing more," he glances at the Deceiver to see if he will play along.

    Myrdred strides confidently towards Balor, he nods at the Faceless Man "We successfully identified and neutralized two traitors in out midst while also applying a new and quite interesting spell."

    Balor looks past them at the bodies of Culwyeh and Ravanna, "They sought to betray us?" he sounds almost amused. You suspect he does not believe their story but is willing to let them tell it.

    Both men nod, the Deceiver gestures to the Faceless Man, "As my colleague can no doubt inform you those two ladies were conspiring to replace you, they were working together to undo the ties that bind us all together."

    The Faceless Man expresses his agreement, "It was our hope that we could convince them to once more serve loyally. We could not. So instead I-"

    "We," Myrdred interrupts him raising a single finger in protest.

    The Faceless Man coughs, "We, devised a spell to transfer their magical knowledge and loyalty into one body while consigning all of those subversive thoughts to the other."

    Myrdred raises an eyebrow at this but manages to hide his surprise. He now vaguely understands what the Faceless Man achieved and he knows exactly what lie to spin, triumphantly he gestures to the prone Ravanna, "My lord may I present to you..."

    "Shiver!" the Faceless Man snatches up the loose threads, "From two disloyal Fallen Lords we have made you a single loyal one. She will serve our cause until the end of her days!"

    The Faceless Man and the Deceiver smile at one another while their eyes promise murder, death and destruction to each other.

    Balor is no fool, he can see this all plainly but it amuses him to let it play out, "Well then! We thank you both for your efforts," he snaps his fingers and Bonesplitter stalks over to the new Shiver. He reaches for her, Damas stares him down.

    Bonesplitter looks to Balor. The Lord of the Fallen sighs, "Soulblighter give Shiver to Bonesplitter. You may see her later but for now I must examine her."

    The Myrmidon general snatches the unconscious archmage up and hefts her over his broad shoulder.

    Balor gives each of them a long stare. Each in turn, turns away. He laughs, he turns and still laughing marches from the room flanked by The Lurker and Bonesplitter.

    "Well that went well!" the Deceiver grins. Quite happy for a man surrounded by enemies that would gladly snuff out his life.

    The Faceless Man turns on him, "The only reason I did not hand you to Balor is because I want you for myself Myrdred! I won't kill you, not for a few centuries at least but I will take everything from you! I will drive you mad! I will-"

    "NO, HE IS MINE!" The Watcher finally speaks, his voice echoing out from within his twisted armour. Inhuman rage animating his one armed frame. As his shades hover around him like flies to a corpse.

    Damas stands and approaches the gathered archmages "Myrdred, you are a snake but I swear if it is the last thing I do I will kill you."

    Most men would be intimidated by three such threats from three such individuals in such quick succession but the Deceiver is unreadable like usual.

    Myrdred's grin grows ever wider, calmly he replies, "Try it, all of you, just try it. I have no one I care for save myself. I have nothing I value save myself. And I am already quite insane I assure you. Old men and imbeciles all of you. Your time has past, so give me everything you have because you will need it all."

    Confidently he pushes his way past some of the most powerful and dangerous mages in history. He stops next to Culwyeh's body, "I suppose we should do something about whatever is in her now?"

    He receives no reply so he shrugs, "Well don't worry about it. I will deal with it," he deftly snatches up one of Culwyeh's axes. He swings it with a force one would not expect from his thin frame and separates her head from her shoulders with a single chop.

    He wraps her head in a piece of hessian cloth and confidently strides out into the night.

    The Faceless Man looks on in silence following the Deceiver as he strides into the distance.

    Damas shakes his head in disgust.

    Just another day in service to the Dark.

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

    "Why did you show me that?" it is the first question that comes to your mind.

    The Faceless Man refuses to make eye contact, "Shiver, my creation, is as far as I know dead. The Watcher is dead, or as dead as he can be. The Deceiver, dead, or at least I hope he is. Balor? Soulblighter? Both dead. Who knows what happened to Bonesplitter or The Lurker. It has been a century Derryth... I suppose I have been humbled... it no longer matters to me like it did and I want you to understand just what Nine was and is. She is a mistake, an aberration, I did not oppose her because I am not certain I can anymore. Whatever you do, do not trust-"

    "That is quite enough out of you," Nine's voice rings out as the Faceless Man pops out of existence, "Men! They all love to hear themselves talk! On and on and on..." she giggles.

    Nine's eyes are open, she stares at you both with incredible warmth, "My girls. You make me so very proud you know that? If I were you though, I would not trust him. Use him if you can, dispose of him if you are able but never trust him. I still have a great number of memories to sort through but I can tell you that."

    You look into her eyes, she still seems a little confused, a little vacant but you can feel that she is much more stable now. You are still not completely sure that this was a good idea but you don't really regret it either. You are happy for her, "So what now Nine?"

    She screws up her lips, focusing on your question, "Well dears, I have to properly sort through all of these memories from not just one lifetime but two! It is quite confusing," she lets out one of her little laughs, "Once I have done that and it is all integrated and I have full control over my mind, I have to start clearing out that mess," she points with one thin hand at the twisted, frozen city, "I have to hold down and absorb those two archmages. Then I have to see if I can fix any of the ideas in there. After that I have to clean everything up and set up a proper mental landscape. Something pretty with a lot of light I think. The old city was just too dark."

    Thaïs leans past you to get a better view of Nine, "Sounds like you have a lot to do?"

    Nine gives you both an apologetic smile, "Oh I do dears! I do! This will take thousands of 'years' to fix!"

    Out of curiosity you ask the obvious question, "How long is that in real time Nine?"

    "Out there? Oh years at least I should think! I have a lot to fix! Everything in fact!"

    "Need help?" you ask though you are a bit afraid she will say yes.

    She reaches over and takes your hand, "That is sweet dear, it really is but you have things to do. I have eternity, I can waste a few years or a decade in my own mind but you can not. At least not yet. Just keep my head safe until I wake up please. I should have all sorts of things to teach you then!"

    With that Nine sees you off. Your goodbyes are tearful but quick. You do have another archmage waiting for you in the physical world after all and you should not keep him waiting.

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

    It was early morning when you entered the mindscape. It is past midnight when you return to your bodies and you are famished. Speaking of which you have a sudden craving for a pomegranate despite never having tasted one. You put the desire down to Thaïs' memories and make a note to ask her about where to get one.

    As a precaution you check each other's minds for any stray bits of archmage that may have tried to cross over. You are both clean, as far as you can tell at least. All of your memories and feelings are your own, well aside from the impressions you received from one another.

    Biliku and Uttu sleep curled up under the nearby tree. The Arrows inform you that though they were tired but that they refused to leave their 'posts'. You smile at their dedication and resist the urge to wake them.

    You tell the Arrows to got fetch Lyssa and you wait.

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

    The Arrows take their time retrieving Mazzarin's apprentice but eventually they return with her. She seems fairly happy to see you, "Good, your back. My master was getting bored and impatient and when he does he gets... rough."

    You consider that it might have been better for the witch to keep her separate from her master then an odd idea hits you. You could offer her a job. You are not an archmage and certainly no Mazzarin yet but you would be easier on her. Perhaps you could convince her to leave with you, the Arrows could seal up Mazzarin and you could leave him to rot alone in the dark. You doubt he would see it coming but would betraying an archmage of his power be a good idea?

    For the time being you push away the idea. You explain to Lyssa that you have the ritual that will restore Mazzarin's body but that it requires specialized ingredients, "We need either a great deal of magical energy or a large concentration of vital spirits... blood... human blood would be easiest. Enough to submerge him in..."

    Lyssa frowns, "That might be difficult. He will probably want me to do it... that... that would kill me..."

    The way she says it, like it is a death sentence confuses you, "Well you could refuse right?"

    "No. If he finds out, which he will as soon as I go back down there and he enters my mind, he will order me to and that is it. I will do it," she shrugs, "Well I am going to die one day anyway... and I might make it... maybe..."

    The ease with which she accepts the idea is a bit unsettling to you. She turns to leave but you stop her, "Hold on, maybe we have options here that won't require someone to die."


    2. The Ritual, do you go through with it?

    A) Yes, a deal is a deal. You will give him the information needed to cast the spell and you will help him restore himself. (see question 3)

    B) No, you and the Arrows leave. You are not helping this Mazzarin. The world does not need another ancient monster wandering about.

    C) No, your group and the Arrows leave but you also offer to take Lyssa with you. You won't force her to leave, you and Thaïs will make a case for her coming with you. It will then be up to her.

    D) Sort of, you will give Mazzarin the information required to cast it but you will not restore him yourself.

    E) freeform


    3. The Ritual, if you conduct it how are you going to power it?

    A) Magic: You and Thaïs will convince Mazzarin to wait a few days while you recover. You will then conduct the ritual with Lyssa using your magic to fuel the spell. It will probably leave you all quite drained for a twenty four hour period or so after the spell.

    B) Lyssa's Blood: You will let Lyssa drain herself to fuel the spell. You will cast it while she bleeds out, she might live... maybe...

    C) Lyssa's Blood and a chained Heal spell: You will let Lyssa drain herself to fuel the spell. You will cast it while she bleeds out but as soon as you are done you will cast a Heal spell on her. You might be quick enough to save her. You will draw on Thaïs to cast the Heal spell as you will not have enough power to cast it yourself. This will likely leave all three of you in weakened condition for at least a day.

    D) Arrows' Blood: Ceannard and his men have been awfully useless so far. You will take some blood from each of them and use that to fuel the spell. They probably won't like it but Lyssa can give them a bonus or something you think.

    E) Send a couple Arrows to get a large number of mandrake roots. You will send the Arrows back to Myrgard to procure about forty mandrake roots. Lyssa has enough gold stored to pay for them so cost is not a concern but it would be difficult to get that many roots without drawing a lot of attention.

    F) Modified Lyssa's Blood and a chained Heal spell: You will let Lyssa drain herself to fuel the spell. You will cast it while she bleeds out but as soon as you are done you will cast a Heal spell on her. You might be quick enough to save her. You will draw on Thaïs to cast the Heal spell as you will not have enough power to cast it yourself. This will likely leave all three of you in weakened condition for at least a day. And you ask the second reward for Lyssa, pointing out that with his form restored he can get a new novice anyway.

    G) freeform
     
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  7. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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  8. Smashing Axe Arcane Patron

    Smashing Axe
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    Anyone else think this 'Mazzarin' is the Deceiver?

    D>A - I just don't trust the Faceless Man enough to accept anything from him.

    C>B - Risky. I can see the logic behind going along with this as well. If we can get out though we should.

    If A2 wins, B>C - I don't want to waste any more time than necessary here. The Dwarf King has stuff for us that is time sensitive.
     
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  9. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    1-D)Trusting gifts from this guy is not a good idea.
    2-D)Casting the spell will leave us defenseless, do we trust the corpse man so much?
    3-B)In case people want to do this, let's not waste time and energy.


    Edit:
    If we had our full circle of mages here I would have proposed to use the gate spell to cast him to oblivion.
     
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  10. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Yeah, can't shake the feeling either, Smashing Axe.

    D>A>B
    C>B D>A
    D>B


    After reading through a lot of the discussion, I've redacted my votes.
    We've made a deal. It's not like we ought to trust these people, but refusing to honour our end of the bargain is a bit much. And accepting a gift does not mean you're obliged to use said gift.
     
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  11. Nevill Arcane

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    Well... that was enlightening. Some of the things were expected, but most, to me, were new. And I thought Rabican was impressive for defeating Shiver in a Dream duel. Where are your heroes now? :(

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why The Deceiver is my favorite among the Fallen Lords. He had so many out for his life that they hampered each other trying to get to him first. :lol:

    Very strongly suspect so, in fact. Thais have already hazarded such a guess. It would fit with what we know of him. What reason would have Mazzarin to call Nine his enemy?

    The question is, if he really is The Deceiver, do we want him among the living? It is not an easy one to answer - The Deceiver can be of use as long as the other Fallen 'live'. His hatred for them outweighs his disregard for the lives of mortals by a fair margin. But it would be a very bad idea to weaken yourself, given that we have just witnessed what happens to his allies. He will find his way back, with or without us, of that I am sure. We lack the means to dispose of him. Ultimately, it is a choice of resurrecting him now and becoming his enemy when he will eventually resurrect himself. We will have to secure backup from the forces more powerful than us, and at the moment the choices - none of which are particularly satisfying - are limited to Alric and a pair of the Fallen travelling with us.

    Damn, how come we always find ourselves entangled in something way, way over our heads? :D

    The choice to stuff the corpse man in the darkest corner of the cave and take Lyssa with us is very tempting. But I wonder why she serves him if she knows he will snuff her life out the moment it suits his needs.

    Fangshi,
    1) I'd like to ask The Faceless Man what he thinks about the possibility that the corpse man is really The Deceiver. I assume he would be interested in paying his debts and would provide his support, should the man turn against us?

    Though seeing how intent he was on erasing the evidence of his failure, I am fairly certain we are already on his eventual 'to remove when the usefulness runs out' list.

    2) I'd like to ask Lyssa about the reasons she serves the corpse man, even as it threatens to kill her. Is it loyalty? For what? Is it the desire for power? What does it matter when you are dead?

    This question is important to me. If we go for 1B, I would like to use the spell to compel her to tell us the whole truth about the circumstances that led her to finding the corpse man and entering servitude. Maybe there are circumstances that prevent her from going elsewhere. Maybe she is the same witch that fought for The Soulblighter in the War. It makes no difference to us now, but it lets us see where she stands in all of this.

    3) I'd like to ask The Faceless Man what became of the Whisper Dream he took from Shiver. It is potentially bad news if he can alter our thoughts through the dreams.

    Or did he return the Dream to that new creation of his? How do Dreams work, anyway? Are they physical? Can they only be wielded by one person at a time?

    4) We have checked our minds for archmage residue and found nothing, however, there is still a question of how exactly we were affected by what happened. Are there any changes in our mind landscapes? Can we still discern clearly which memories are ours and which are not? Did it make it easier to understand each other and guess what the other is thinking about? Did we become more reasonable when dealing with people, perhaps sensing - through Thais' impessions - that certain topics may cause them discomfort? Or maybe Thais have become prone to fits of stubborn anger for no apparent reason?


    I am willing to accept help from The Faceless Man. Nine told us to use him while we can, and use him we will. Of course, with the being in question, it is much easier to be used instead. But we already have been caught in, what, three-? four-? way struggle of powers beyond our comprehension. We either step up our game, or fold and go find ourselves a village to settle down and spend our spare time fishing.

    I am withholding my vote until clarifications are given. Though if it helps answering the second question, I would vote 1B.
     
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  12. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Also,

    5) What was it exactly that we promised to the corpse man? We told him we will help him retrieve the information he seeks, but we did not promise to restore him. Is that about correct?
     
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  13. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    Fangshi At this point I would like to ask to Bracelet Man if there is a way to dispose of Cotpsr Man with his help..
     
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  14. Nevill Arcane

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    Oh, yes, very much so. I'd like to find ways to get out of here in one piece without altering the balance of cosmic powers, thank you very much.

    Though if we dispose of him, then The Watcher will be unopposed, safe for Albrecht and whatever help he can get.

    We are fucked no matter what we choose, aren't we? :lol:

    It will not leave us defenceless if it is going to be the blood of the Arrows, though. It is true that they were useless so far - and if a fight breaks out, at most we can count on them dying while we escape, anyway. They can't possibly overcome an archmage.
     
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  15. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    A long update. Voting:

    1) D > A

    Simply put, I don't trust him at all. But if we have to take something, let it be something that will give our mage some staying power when we next get stuck in physical combat.

    2) C > D

    And I don't fucking trust this guy either. He is what, the forth or fifth immortal we've run across trying to claw his way back into the world. Two of them we are stuck with for now, but hell if I'd like to see more of them around. This guy may be more subtle than the Watcher, but he's bad news just the same. His treatment of his follower tells that just nicely - everyone else is a tool for him and will be discarded or destroyed the moment it becomes convenient. And it looks like the whole cycle business is just these assholes dicking each other over and over. Fuck em, let them rot and be forgotten. I'm really tempted to nuke this entire site from orbit when we get back home, but even that would not be a way to be sure with immortals.

    I'd prefer C because without her he is not very powerful. Why else would his entire force consist of a single half-crazed witch? He doesn't appear to be able to leave this place and if we bury it it will take a long time for him to find a new servant. Maybe we can consult Alric or the dwarf king and they would have the resources to deal with or contain him for the time being.

    3) D

    If it does come to the ritual anyway, convince the Arrows to donate some blood. There's a lot of them and the spell only needs the amount of blood in one human body. So there should be no risk for them here. But I'm very much against doing this is the first place.
     
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  16. Nevill Arcane

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    Well, to quote the GM:
    Double-crossing this guy after we have accepted a favor from him is not exactly wise. Of course, it comes down to a personal belief if helping him would be any wiser.

    Personally, I would not want to break any agreements with immortals. If you disagree with them, say it to their face. Do not accept the deal in the first place if you are not going through with it.

    There is a reason these guys outlive everyone else.

    And yet his follower knows that and does not try to run away. Maybe she considers such a treatment fair, and so does the wizard? A witch that was in The Soulblighter's service (if she was) can't really expect a warmer welcome anywhere else.

    He still commands the eagles, and I am sure some of them are still out there. It would take him some time to bring a curious adventurer to the site to dig him out, but I would not think it will be all that long.


    Finally, about the Faceless Man and his gift. We weren't trusting Nine back when we found her, we aren't exactly trusting her now, what's with her being two Fallen Lords at once in her previous life, and yet we have accepted her training all the same. Did it ever hurt us? I don't think so. If there were any backdoors in her teachings, they were closed when we cross-referenced the spells with the corpse man.

    No pain, no gain. Accepting a gift is not going to spell our immediate doom - it is how and what you use it for that will count in the end.
     
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  17. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Did he command the eagles or did the witch do that?

    Even if he did that, it would take him a long time to get someone to dig him out, and even then he's back to square one without the spell we now have. So he has to use that person to hire more mercs to find us and bring us to him. All we have to do is report what we found to the king and / or the Emperor and this place would be placed in a permanent and enforced quarantine if they can't deal with him outright. Alric would be a fool not to be ready for some of them trying to come back. Personally I like those odds much, much more that giving him the means to resurrect himself or helping him do it and then hoping he is not going to say "you have outlived you usefulness" to us. Or just destroy us to get to Nine or the Faceless guy (that we can't even get rid of).

    Let him rot I say. If it ever becomes necessary to bring him back to fight someone worse (I hope not), let the people in charge of this place make that call, not a random adventurer. They have more power to deal with this kind of situation and it is kind of their job.
     
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  18. Nevill Arcane

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    Which would subsequently expose our dealings with Nine, who is Shiver as far as the rest of the world is concerned - though at least we can make a case for her not being the same character, - and the Faceless Man, who is an outright Fallen Lord. Wonder where we will end up after that.

    But yes, making a decision of that magnitude makes me uneasy as well. Ugh.
     
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  19. Smashing Axe Arcane Patron

    Smashing Axe
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    I don't know if taking the girl with us is so good an idea. I'd need to know why she hasn't just left him yet, and why she's so self-sacrificing to this guy who is essentially torturing her. If I were him I'd have installed a Delayed Reaction spell in her head for the moment she ever decides to betray her master.

    You may be right about accepting the Faceless Man's gift, Nevill, but to me it sounds like we'd be giving ground to him, and I think we want to keep as much distance between him and us whilst we have this connection. He claims to be a benevolent teacher willing to make new arch-mages out of boredom, but I can't help thinking there's something much more sinister behind it than that. I am still willing to flop.

    Also if we do the ritual successfully, and this guy does turn out to be the Deceiver or something, the Faceless Man will probably intervene to save us, if only to use us as willing pawns in his war against the guy.

    Also most of the world remembers Shiver as Ravanna's face.
     
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  20. Nevill Arcane

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    Which is exactly why I want to clarify it with her first.

    Taking her with us may bite us in the ass, but so can leaving her here, unless we give them the information they ask for and GTFO.

    By the way, you are voting for it even if you aren't sure?

    She had a different face in the second war, because she was greatly disfigured. Besides, what does an appearance mean for an archmage?

    It's not like there are many people around who would remember Shiver from the first war, seeing how it was 60 years ago, and most of the men are mortal. Though the other races probably would.

    I see no point in maintaining the distance. We still owe him a favor, and it is unlikely that he will let us go until we grant it. We are stuck with him for a while. I am not sure what our reluctance will achieve. We are not letting him in our mind any more than we already did. It is not, by any means, a matter of trust, but one of convenience.

    Refusing his offer might be worth something as a gesture of defying him for the sake of a gesture, if you want to screw him over and not pay your debt to him, but we will be raking up enemies far more powerful than ourselves at an alarming rate if we go this route. Best to take care of them one at a time.

    I would visit the Academy immediately and start researching the bracelets all the same, though.

    True as well, and this is why I am still withholding my vote.
     
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  21. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    It doesn't necessarily have to expose our dealing with them. We can just warn the king about another immortal trying to resurrect himself here, he knows the Watcher already is so he would take that seriously. The least he can do is send men to bury the place thoroughly and keep an eye on it. And he would probably inform Alric as well who may have a more permanent solution ready if it becomes necessary. But even if it does expose us, well as you say Nine isn't really Shiver (though that doesn't mean we can really trust her even if she isn’t an imminent threat) and it's not like we are willingly dealing with the Faceless. We're just kind of stuck with him - and I hope that's a lesson we all learned, never put on unidentified magic items. If they can remove him from us, all the better. I want to make removing the damn things a priority as well. Seriously, compared to the mess we can make if we fuck this one up, we are practically blameless right now. Sure, we are guilty of illegal ruins raiding and could end up in jail for that. But if we knowingly resurrect a fallen lord we are so fucked.

    And yes, it's the magnitude of this decision that bothers me. Adventurers should never be entrusted with these kind of decisions in any sensible setting. They don't know enough about what they are doing and don't have the power to contain the situation if when something goes wrong. If there are better people in charge that can deal with this (and there are here), let them.
     
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  22. Nevill Arcane

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    First thing they would do is to try and communicate with the immortal to verify our side of the story and determine who is he and just how dangerous he is. Since the corpse man knows Nine's identity, I don't see why he would withhold that knowledge if it was a way to get back at us.

    The question then becomes, would anyone care enough? The world have been through 2 wars that killed 2/3 of its population. Would they risk anything?

    Necromancers are killed on sight for a good reason. I don't know where making our association with the Fallen, whether we are willing or not, public will land us.

    At least Albrecht seems friendly enough.
     
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  23. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Honestly, I'd still take that chance and hope that they see the difference between stupidly putting on a magical item and knowingly trying to bring back what we suspect actually is a fallen lord. I think (or hope) the king would at least see that difference since he kind of likes us and we did already help with the Watcher business.
     
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  24. Jester Arbiter

    Jester
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,493
  25. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    8,175
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    Edited my votes.
     
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