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865044 No. 865044 ID: d36af7

You all meet, at midnight, in the middle of a flying castle that's about to explode.

Which of you owns this place, or is it held jointly between two or more?
What sort of landscape is below it?
Who's trying to summon a demon, which one, and for what larger purpose?
Who's trying to interrupt that ritual?
Who's trying to patch the damage to prevent an explosion?
Who (or what) inflicted that damage in the first place?
Which of you snuck in to rob the vault while everybody else is distracted, and what were you surprised to find there?
Which mighty artifacts, if any, do the lot of you collectively have on hand?

Who are you people?
https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4587981
428 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 910015 ID: bb5006

rolled 7, 5, 8, 7 = 27

Mysterious people talking in Old Realm who were obviously way better equipped than Bandits and weren't even native to the area was definitely enough to tie this curious event back to the Realm in Light's mind, and she definitely wanted to 'talk' to one of them.

Since she couldn't be terribly sure that they wouldn't be able to use magic to spot an ambush now that she knew they spoke the sorcerer's tongue, she resolved to put caution in the wind as it were, and traveled back to the Stormwind Rider and turned back into a human to explain the situation to the Bog Soldiers, and how the present plan was to silently drag people off into the dead of night without any of their wizard friends seeing, and if possible, silently slaughter their horses to leave them stuck foot slogging it. Her thought process behind all this being that since these weren't normal bandits, they obviously had a reason and a plan for kidnapping these specific people, and they wouldn't risk them getting hurt, and while it would be a bleeding shame and an outcome she would greatly prefer to avoid, she had centuries to get over a few humans dying if she was wrong. So, steeling herself, she got into a position where it would be almost impossible for a normal human to see her, Shamblers heading to a similar position around the horses and the Daughters taking up their own position, and waited for the opportunity to put her hand around someone's mouth and pull them into the darkness unobserved.
>>
No. 910016 ID: afdebc

>>909991
Well, Lute will share the information with Bridget, pointing out the cavalry's likely location on the map created earlier, and then she's off to catch some sleep.
>>
No. 910018 ID: 2007b6

>>909998
>Out of interest, would an athletics excellency let her do heavier lifting and pulling, to the point that she could have lifted the wagons by herself?
Corebook p.127 lists "tipping over a loaded wagon" as requiring a strength+athletics total of 18. Lifting a fully loaded wagon all the way off the ground, maneuvering it through a 180-degree turn, and setting it back down gently enough to avoid breaking the axles, would be at least a little bit more difficult than Bridget can manage, even with an athletics excellency. Might be attainable with stunting and/or virtue channels, but there's more than one wagon to move, and she's already facing penalties from fatigue.
>>
No. 910175 ID: 2007b6

>>910015
So, you're attacking the camp in the ruined fort, before dawn? First critical decision in an ambush like this is whose job it is to hit what.

Assets:
-Light of the Moon Cleansing the World
-six "daughters" limbering up for the dance of death, extruding splintery claws from their pallid fingertips
-twelve "shamblers"
-one "creeper" (child-sized, stealthy, sorcerer capable of two more spells today)
-remote access to Mother Bog's main essence pool (excessive use will announce your presence and her involvement, similar to an anima banner but in increments of 10 motes rather than 4)

Targets:
-two sentries in light armor
-three guys lying down, also in light armor
-one unarmored guy doing chores around the camp
-apparently leader, in heavy armor
-eight horses
-four humanoid silhouettes inside the dome, presumably hostages

So far their plan is to, first, have four of the shamblers climb halfway up the wall as quietly as possible and root themselves in place. Then they grab the sentries, pull them down, hoist Daughters up, one of them for each of the remaining riders. Other eight shamblers climb under their own power and grab the horses, intending to wrestle them into submission. They don't have any good anti-armor weapons, so that leaves you and the creeper to deal with the black knight and whatever's in the dome. Rooted shamblers would also be functioning somewhat as a reserve force, available to step in and deal with the unexpected.

Of course, you're the boss here, and most of them literally have mud for brains, so the plan is wide open for revision.

If you captured somebody alive (say, one of the sentries) and then spent ten minutes drowning 'em in a mud puddle as a ritual sacrifice, that'd be a handy option for recharging the willpower that creeper needs to cast more spells. Much quicker than getting a full night's sleep.

Might be possible to cast Virtuous Guardian of Flame from a concealed position at the base of the fort. It's transferable, but only once per casting. Question is, should the protection be handed off to Light herself, saved for one of the hostages (transfer requires a touch), or retained to protect the creeper itself?

If a quick-cast Stormwind Rider starts to look like the best option for extraction, what's the priority order on who to pick up?
>>
No. 910177 ID: bb5006

The present plan that I had was less start an open conflict, and try to silently grab a sentry when nobody is looking so I'll have a hot moment to interrogate him before the actual fighting happens to get a better idea as to what their purpose is for all this, since I may not know much, but I'm pretty sure magic is a fickle beast.

While that doesn't change the overall plan all that much, it does give it a longer time table, and if things like like they are going FUBAR, the order of the Stormwind Rider to pick everyone up is the Child first, since they would naturally be closest from casting the spell, then the hostages, then the daughters, then the shamblers, and lastly me, since I'm an Exalt, and I should be able to survive an assault for at least that long.

Plus, on top of her confidence that she'd be able to survive with tooth and claw, if things get loud enough to warrant a full attack, she would have a flame guardian put on her to help cover her while she's drawing fire for everyone getting on the escape vehicle.
>>
No. 910239 ID: 2007b6

>>910177
Okay, so who's going up to the base of the stubby tower to grab the sentry? The more you bring, the better your odds of success on the grab (five attackers per target being the usual point of diminishing returns), but more pairs of feet trying to be sneaky means more chances to step on a dry twig (or whatever), get noticed. Daughters are no good at stealth on their own; for the strike plan, idea was to have shamblers carry 'em most of the way.
>>
No. 910245 ID: 2007b6

>>909998
>Since Lute was kind enough to direct Bridget towards the airship crew, Bridget will seek them out.
They've mostly settled down for the night. Unpacked a lot of tents for folks whose houses burned down. One guard, armed with a spear (the tip of which glows ice-blue, bright as a torch, and leaves a trail of mist when she gestures with it) is engaged in a philosophical debate with Jo the anhule, mostly on the subject of trade secrets and national security. When the guard spots Bridget, she says "Hey! You're this spider monster's boss, right, you and that vulture lady? Did'e really used to buy and sell misbehaving children, or is that a load of loxie-plops?"

>How close is she to needing to roll for fatigue?
Safe range for fatigue is a number of hours equal to your stamina + resistance + applicable specialties. Assuming that specialty applies to inflicting disproportionate force as well as receiving it, that'd be nine hours. Four hours of limit break, three assembling that armored coffin, and I want to say four more as part of the rescue efforts in town, puts Bridget currently at a -2 internal penalty from fatigue. Fatigue can be shed with rest (one per three hours), sleep (per hour), or shaken off with Willpower or Conviction channels. Total fatigue penalties exceeding your stamina + resistance is the point where you collapse from exhaustion. Never involves an actual roll.
>>
No. 910259 ID: bb5006

At the moment, Light is the only one going to secretly snatch a sentry, mostly because of the whole "More you bring, more noisy you are" thing. The actual plan will be set up afterwards, since depending on the information they get from the victim, the details could easily change.
>>
No. 910266 ID: 2007b6

>>910259
So, if you're going to go ahead and do that without further preparation, you need to roll for it.
>>
No. 910284 ID: 9646f1

rolled 10, 8, 7, 7, 8, 6, 4, 10, 8, 3, 1, 3, 6, 10, 7, 3, 4, 10, 9, 7, 3, 10, 9, 7, 5, 10, 9, 8, 6, 9 = 207

>>910245
“There has been no child slavery while I was present, which has been brief. Now, I wish to charter a voyage, payment to be made in smithing. I can provide for you in a day what others might make in a week, or, given a week, I can provide work of volume and quality that mortals would took over for a month. I will accept whichever offer leaves soonest.”
>>
No. 910293 ID: 2007b6

>>910284
Guard wakes up the captain, who has a lot of pointed questions about weight and direction and making it back home before winter. They'll be ready to leave in two days (that is, on the morning of the 25th; Haslanti calendar says the week goes sunday-monday-mercsday-vensday-marsday-jovesday-saturnday, which is confusing since past-life memories say the days used to be in a different order and didn't have crunched-up names). If Bridget can forge an exceptional-quality sword before then, using only "slightly irregular" (substandard, possibly cobalt-contaminated) feathersteel bar stock, the captain figures that's proof enough those skills are worth the risk involved. For a normal person, with adequate tools and materials, that would require three weeks of work per attempt at difficulty 3, or two weeks at difficulty 7. Such a tight time limit more or less forces the latter option, and substandard materials impose an external penalty, so you'll need at least eight successes on the roll. If you're willing to spend some XP, a fifth dot of Craft (Fire) would improve the odds, and then five days of training for Crack-Mending Technique would allow in-flight repairs, enabling the airship to travel faster by making fewer stops while taking greater risks with high-altitude currents and overclocked engines.

Jo the genderless spider-demon, meanwhile, says their airship could be ready to go in a matter of minutes, as soon as the wasp and Legbreaker get back from wherever it was they ran off to, and has no serious commitment to a schedule. The smaller airship is also significantly faster.
>>
No. 910306 ID: b8257f

>>910293
Bridget thanks the captain for their consideration of her offer, and boards the smaller ship- how are she and Jo communicating? Bridget still hasn’t picked up any dots in linguistics.
>>
No. 910320 ID: bb5006

rolled 3, 6, 9, 7, 10, 6, 8 = 49

Alright, I thought that was what the 30 something dice were for earlier, so that something like this could be pulled from that until I ran out.
>>
No. 910331 ID: 2007b6

>>910320
You need to roll a new bucket full of dice every time, both because a single declared action might involve several separate rolls (in this case, stealth, climbing/jumping, Join Battle, a grapple attack, climbing back down/falling safely, and reestablishing stealth) and so you can't judge OOC how much of a risk to take by knowing how your next action's dice will land.

In this case, you've got decent dice pools for all that, so Light gets a running start, scrambles up the wall, grabs the sentry by the mouth, twists around, and lands at the base of the wall, flat on her back, captive in front of her. One hand stopping him from screaming, other on his wrist to prevent readying a weapon. His buff jacket feels like it's been discreetly reinforced with rigid plates of something nonmetallic - maybe ironwood - and it's cool to the touch, suggesting some sort of enchantment, though Light doesn't have enough Lore or Occult to be sure of the details (and blind guessing would go against Temperance).

Only sound was a momentary squeak and a dull thud; nobody else in the camp was looking in the right direction at the right moment, as far as you can tell. If they noticed, it probably seems like the sentry just slipped and fell off the wall.

What's the next step? Planning to do the interrogation right here, or carry 'im further away from his friends first?
>>
No. 910333 ID: 2007b6

>>910306
Jo natively speaks only Old Realm, but can attain temporary conversational fluency in other languages thanks to the Mimic Of Tongues charm. However, lack of grammatical finesse makes it difficult to present a persuasive argument in either direction through the filter of magical translation - in mechanical terms, a +3 "cover" bonus to MDVs against spoken social attacks. The charm doesn't help with writing at all.

As previously noted, the small airship can't set off until the other two crewmembers are found and returned, or adequate replacements are recruited. Legbreaker and the agata navigator were last seen heading north-northeast, toward the town of Bear Pond, along with Force of Ordered Thought.

If you were looking to recruit replacements, both of them would need, at minimum, two dots in Sail and one in Lore, the navigator would also benefit from Awareness, and for longer-term operation the engineer would need either Lore 4, Occult 3, Craft (Vitriol) 3 or the equivalent in specialties applicable to omen weather engines.
>>
No. 910344 ID: 4888b8

>>910333
Ah, that’s “could be” not “would be”, a misunderstanding then. Well, it seems her best path forward would be in bear pond, or at least that direction.

“Any notion of how far ahead or to what aims their trip is part of?”
>>
No. 910423 ID: 3e9bb0

rolled 7, 10, 8, 3, 6, 2, 9, 5, 1, 9, 2, 5, 5, 6, 5, 8, 5, 2, 2, 1, 7, 8, 2, 4, 2, 7, 9, 10, 8, 5 = 163

I’m planning on dragging him back to where the Bog Creatures are, which is far enough that he would need to make a solid yell to get attention.

When Light is comfortable that she’s far enough, she’ll hand the job of keeping him restrained and immobile to 5 of the Shamblers, keeping her hand covering his mouth.

“You have two options, either you’re going to tell me everything you know about why you’re here and kidnapping those people, or I’m going to show you first hand why we’re are called Anathema.”

She allowed her caste mark to shine momentarily, just long enough to let this person know she wasn’t bluffing about her status as she moved her hand down to his throat, ready to kill him in an instant if he tried to signal for help, or try to attack.
>>
No. 910432 ID: 2007b6

>>910344
"Rescuing some stolen princesses or priestesses or something, before they could be auctioned off as slaves?" Jo makes a pedipalp gesture which could be interpreted as a shrug. "Something like that. Sounded like fun, but I still had work to do, and they were in a wild hurry, and somebody has to keep an eye on the ship."

>>910016
>the cavalry's likely location on the map created earlier,

Okay, if the map created earlier was the hour hand of a clock, with the nameless town/airship crash site being the pivot, and noon on the clock face being due west, the kidnapper cavalry fang would be roughly 40 miles away as the crow flies, at the far end of the minute hand when the clock face shows 12:20.

>>910423
Okay, you manage to tie his elbows behind his back using his own belt, stuff a sock in his mouth, then drag him by the feet, down the hill and behind a fallen log, all without making anywhere near enough noise to attract attention.

Back at the fort, someone shouts "Hey, wake up! Istvan's missing!"
>She allowed her caste mark to shine momentarily
"...and there was a flash of light, over there by the trees! Definitely not just fireflies this time, sir!"

Underneath your hand, you can feel Istvan the sentry's bruised and grass-stained face quirk into a smug smile.
>>
No. 910446 ID: c8a0f5

rolled 4, 9, 5, 2, 4, 2, 10, 1, 2, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6, 6, 8, 4, 1, 5, 7, 1, 6, 4, 1, 10, 10, 2, 6, 9, 1 = 140

If her query was able to hear the voices of his compatriots, clearly she hadn't gone far enough, but this was fine enough to her plans, even if she needed to get a bit more messy this way.

She looked to see if the man, apparently Istvan, had a knife, and if he didn't she used her sharp and seasoned hands and teeth to quickly kill him, and dress up the scene as a violently bloody mess with the man's throat ripped out and his guts torn open under his armor and his eyes smashed, having the bog soldiers disappear into the underbrush and trees while she bolted up the trees before they happened to catch sight of her, hiding herself in her trap door.
>>
No. 910653 ID: 9646f1

rolled 8, 9, 3, 6, 2, 8, 7, 1, 10, 3, 3, 3, 1, 7, 7, 5, 2, 3, 10, 3, 7, 3, 8, 5, 1, 4, 7, 7, 8, 8 = 159

>>910432
>I still had work to do, and they were in a wild hurry, and somebody has to keep an eye on the ship

“Dedication is admirable. I will attempt to retrieve them.”

Now, since I don’t have exact quardinates, and I’ll have to make at least two jumps, what are my margins for error here? Do I need to roll some sort of intelligence lore check to get the guessing right? The intention is to activate IKB for the scene, then MCL twice to cross those 40~ miles and try to find the crew. Hopefully she’ll alert them to her presence- them, and anything else nearby. Her mind drifts back for a moment, thinking over the restraints and burial she preformed. The symbols of the Unconquored Sun would hopefully provide the restraints some measure of protection from anyone who might try to dig that... thing... up and recover it for her brother. Had she adaquitly appeased it, such that no po spirit would terrorize the land? Had anyone been watching her secretly, waiting for the right moment? Could Embri be trusted to help? Or would she awaken the beast from its metal prison?

Shaking her head, she cleared distracting thoughts away. No time to dwell on what she could not fix. Those she could not help were innumerable, better then to focus upon the task at hand, that more might be salvaged. And focus she would. It would not do to have her body flagging at a time like this, not when there was still work to be done

So IKB + MCLx2 is a total of 2WP and 26m, then I stunt to regain motes and spend a WP point to negate fatigue for the scene. That should leave me with 11/21/8 in my perf/pers/WP pools.
>>
No. 910674 ID: 2007b6

>>910653
Spending WP negates fatigue for just one action, not an entire scene, thought it also reduces the total fatigue penalty by 1. Channeling Conviction suppresses fatigue for a full minute and then reduces the penalty by a number of points equal to your Conviction.

Navigation over land is based on the Survival skill. Looks like you got at least two successes, which seems like it should be enough to allow two steps in a straight line toward a bright light, even if they happen to be very long steps.

Bridget crashes feet-first into the center of the kidnappers' camp. Passing through the solar-powered force field deals five dice of lethal damage which is enough of a 'deliberate attack' to bypass Element-Resisting Prana and enough of an environmental effect to ignore armor, but natural soak still works. Clearly a new scene, so re-activating Iron Kettle Body?

>>910446
Light peels away the reinforced long coat, draws the raider's sword, and prepares to eviscerate him with it, but in the back of her mind, Mother Bog gurgles "Dibs!" Not actual words, of course, but a visceral empathic claim of precedence in distribution of spoils, the growl of a dog whose supper is about to be taken away half-finished.

Two Shamblers, a Daughter, the Creeper, and the still-living prisoner have left in the general direction of Mother Bog's main body, aboard a hundred-mile-an-hour sorcerous stormwind. The sword and reinforced buff jacket (which, presumably due to enchantment, only weighs about a fifth of what it should) were left behind, along with the remainder of the platoon.

New hiding spots are soon found. Then, a blazing golden comet crashes into the kidnappers' camp.
>>
No. 910685 ID: 9646f1

>>910674
>Clearly a new scene, so re-activating Iron Kettle Body?
Yep, that’s what I meant by “IKB”.

Does Hardship Surviving Medicant Spirit negate internal penalties to navigation, like fatigue? Also, does fatigue affect my static defense values since they’re dice pools? If so can I spend another WP to put myself at no penalty right, since I will have spent two WP bringing the total penalty to 0?

Bridget is surprised there’s only three guards with the hostages- perhaps they already encountered the Leg Breaker and escaped, or even bested it? Or maybe they split up, and there’s more hostages elsewhere? She thought the fang was supposed to be larger, but if they’re not all here that could mean trouble.

stunting to implying that 3 of the guards have left, presumably in the direction of Clensing Light Of The Moon to investigate the disturbance
>>
No. 910693 ID: c8a0f5

rolled 7, 1, 9, 8, 8, 10, 5, 6, 1, 3, 6, 8, 5, 10, 6, 5, 5, 7, 2, 1, 4, 10, 2, 8, 10, 5, 2, 8, 10, 3 = 175

'Fine, be like that and take just 1 living tribute as opposed to a different living tribute and a heap of corpses you cantankerous old bog. Take all the fun out of hunting mortals like in the old plays.' While she was obviously 'talking' to Mother Bog, light wasn't particularly sending her thoughts to said cantankerous old bog.

Instead, she focused on her targets. It looked like only a few of the guards had actually gave pursuit, which suited her just fine. She was, after all, more than capable of taking them in a straight fight.

So, seeing who among the group of people looked the most able to defend themselves, she shot through the air like a flash of moonsilver, teeth and 'claws' bared as she went straight for the throat, letting her anima baner flare to fulfill her Anathema quota of terror, since clearly a gold flash of light falling like a meteor from the sky meant that something like a golden Anathema was over there, and she wasn't going to let herself be left completely at the gates.
>>
No. 910707 ID: 2007b6

>>910693
>Does Hardship Surviving Medicant Spirit negate internal penalties to navigation, like fatigue?
No.
>Also, does fatigue affect my static defense values since they’re dice pools?
Yes.
>If so can I spend another WP to put myself at no penalty right, since I will have spent two WP bringing the total penalty to 0?
Yes, if you've got enough willpower keeping fatigue penalties under control isn't too hard. In the longer term (mechanically speaking, to get that stamina + resistance 'safe zone' fully recharged), you'll need twice as much time resting as you spent in vigorous exertion.

>Bridget is surprised there’s only three guards with the hostages
Three guards and four horses outside the wall of sunfire. Inside, cowering in terror after having almost been stepped on, three shrine maidens and a small child. Kid's maybe ten years old, coal-black skin and reddish hair in cornrows braided with dozens of little bells. Other three look like they might be sisters, ranging from 14 years old to mid-20s, probably from some aristocratic Calinti family - they look just like younger versions of the middle-managers on that plantation Bridget liberated, apart from wearing ceremonial robes (now shamefully torn and travel-stained) and having hundreds, maybe thousands of piercings. Little steel rings with dangling tags, each embossed or engraved with a word or short phrase in Old Realm. Enough to maybe function as light armor.

The one sensible exit to the old fort, a door leading to stairs down the outside, is still barricaded shut.

>>910693
Two of the other Haltans and the black knight are coming down the hill toward you on horseback. (How'd they get the horses out of there so quickly?) Knight swings that chain at you, you catch it and run past, yanking him out of the saddle. Attempting to rip his throat out with your teeth runs into some problems: you've only got wimpy flat human teeth at the moment, his throat's wrapped in tempered steel, and the steel is covered in icky-tasting tar. Still, he's flat on his back and seems to be stunned.

The other two were a ways behind, and are now catching up. They've got swords, and the high-ground bonus from being on horseback. If they catch up to you while you're still standing next to the guy in plate armor, you'll be surrounded, which makes it harder to dodge or flee and means you need to pick someone to turn your back on, giving them free unexpected attacks.
>>
No. 910710 ID: c8a0f5

rolled 8, 4, 2, 9, 2, 1, 7, 4, 4, 9, 1, 5, 10, 3, 10, 9, 3, 2, 6, 7, 5, 6, 7, 3, 2, 6, 8, 9, 3, 4 = 159

The fact that her target had armor around their neck, and she hadn't trained her jaw muscles to be able to rip clean through plate armor while she was in her mundane form was annoying. So, she did what was most likely going to be one of her last transformations for the week as she turned into what was arguably one of her most terrifying forms. A fully grown, 1500 pound bull moose, half of that weight being on the black rider. More as she consciously tried to put as much weight on the rider's head to crush it like an overripe watermelon.

As soon as she was confident enough, or they were starting to get a bit uncomfortably close, she would use the fact that she was a fair deal larger than a horse to try and go after the mounts and rob most skilled looking rider of the two of their substantially diminished height advantage.
>>
No. 911338 ID: d9acdc

rolled 5, 7, 2, 4, 9, 5, 2, 2, 10, 1, 5, 2, 5, 6, 9, 3, 7, 8, 8, 8, 2, 6, 9, 3, 10, 9, 1, 8, 5, 1 = 162

>>910707
Bridget attempts to comfort the young as best she can given her appearance. Instinct tells her to embrace them, groom them, and reassure them that they can overcome such hardship. Experience of course informs her actions more appropriately- rarely do others find reassurance in the presence of a wyld-tainted. Gingerly she folds their sleeping furs and clasps them shut, chagrin rising somewhat as she notes the Guild symbols engraved in the metalwork. Returning them she prompts action somewhat gruffly, using her full golden stature to command authority when fear prevents trust:

"We return to the village, if you wish. Anything of import should be gathered promptly. Inform me of relevant details so we might make the best of things. And know that should life here prove too difficult, the Unconquered Sun will provide for you, through me."

With that, Bridget turns to the captors.
"Let us leave in peace and bother the innocent no more. Those who repent may find new life as my wards. Repeated offences are intolerable."

Her last brief message should be clear enough as a threat to those who would move against her designs.

Assuming she doesn't gauge them to be an immediate threat outside the firewall, she will examine the device projecting it. Surly they have some remote means of activating and de-activating, or are immune to it's effects somehow. Otherwise, this is their destination, or they have time to waste or one of these downtrodden captives is actually one of the captors? Perplexing.
>>
No. 911356 ID: 0640da

rolled 4, 3, 10, 4, 7, 4, 9, 2, 6, 6, 1, 7, 4, 5, 1, 4, 3, 10, 1, 2, 4, 5, 2, 7, 3, 5, 1, 2, 4, 1 = 127

Morse itches. Her whole body feels wrecked by flecks of death, growing inside her and overtaking her previous form. She feels sick to the bottom of her stomach, too. Or is it that the bottom of her stomach is sick? How can something be sick if it is dead? The philosophical questions build and build, coming to a head as she continues to train her body. The transformation, the taint... it feels like torture to Morse. But there's a certain... bliss in that torture. Something that excites a part of her... eyes close, and she starts to relax a little more inside this nightmarish coffin.

"Come to think of it..." Morse mumbles to herself. "I haven't eaten in days." The statement she utters speaks to nobody in particular-- after being alone long enough, she'd taken to talking to herself. Sometimes, when she focused... when she paid attention, she could even hear a small voice speaking back. "I had a meal when I left the Noss Fens. A full meal... enough meat to fill my belly. Did I have a meal since then?"

Animals did not hold fear of her... she wished they would. "Staying close is the worst mistake an animal could make..." The rations she was given were salted, jerked meat. It was gone within a week. It barely sated her need for flesh... nor did the crocodile corpse she peeled from the surface of the water, or the dead fish floating among the fetid swamp. Those meals gave her a stomachache-- not as powerful as the one she was experiencing now, but... the deadly bog water had seeped into their scales and bones. She had to sip from the waters around the Well of Udr to survive as she paddled her boat across the open bog... then, when she reached a tributary leading to the river, there was the rabbit.

The bunny stared at her, as soon as she arrived... and she stared back. No movements were made as she reached for the animal-- tried to touch its silky fur, to remind her of something warm again, after weeks of suffering in the cold, nasty swamp. But a voice resounded in her head... 'NO', it said. The land around her blackened, and the rabbit squealed-- and then, fell over. Dead. Morse trembled and held the rabbit in her hands, setting off again in the boat she took for the journey. The rabbit's dead eyes stared back at her as she floated forward, pushing with a paddle. She had no expression as she stared back at the rabbit, but she felt a tinge of remorse. It died because of her. She knew it was in a better place, but... something felt wrong about it. Like it was calm. Like it knew what was coming from here on... and it had accepted it.

Her need for flesh sated, she would sail for weeks. Her ship wobbled at times, threatening to capsize in the river. She would drink from the water, but more often than not she would float, entrusting her passage to the Neverborn. She knew they would never let her down... they had never let her down before. But her arrival on the shores closest to her target were nothing short of a miracle.

"I could have eaten fish, along the way. I could have had my fill. I didn't need to ration the rabbit... I could have eaten. Eaten every day. Maybe I wouldn't be hungry now. Maybe I wouldn't be thirsty... urgh..."

There was the body she picked up from that village... mangled as it was by bandits. "But it was burnt and dead. Not fresh." When she asked the bandits for meal, they stalled-- and when help arrived, there was not a meal to be found. Those bandits truly took more than she gave to them... but revenge will be filled in kind. As she starved literally, they too would starve spiritually... never able to reach the level of self-actualization she would have given them, had they been loyal-- had they stayed.

"Fresh, meat..." She'd wanted it for a long while now. When was the last time Morse had... truly fresh meat? Not something roasted, not an animal, but something really... rare. Bloody. Morse smacked her lips. "I can almost taste it... fresh human. That's strange. I don't remember how long it's been. Was it... mm. Was there anything fresh since I reached the Tabernacle?"

Morse thought back to the Tabernacle. The desire to bite down into the nape of another acolyte passed through her mind more than once. More than twice. Nearly every day, she'd resist the urge to sink her teeth into their flesh... more than a few times, she lost herself and ate outside of the feeding times. But they didn't mistreat her. Every week, just for her, a pound of flesh at her doorstep-- not always recognizable. Sometimes, even human. Importantly, it was rare... bloody. Delicious. Yes... they knew her tastes. They cared for her, there.

...out here, nobody cared. Nobody valued food. Nobody understood her needs. Even when she requested it, they would stall for time... "...I should have eaten a few of those bandits. I didn't push them hard enough to listen to me... and now I suffer for my kindness. Truly a lesson from the Deathlords to this unfilial servant." The abyssal drools, wondering about their taste... and it would only be a wonder, for they were long gone by now. And yet, here she was... inside this box. Hungry, and alone. "A message taught in parable, as I would teach, would be preferable to experience... but perhaps this is the growth you desire for this one, my lords."

Morse sighed. This box was so very, very lonely... really, at this point, she just wanted someone to talk to. Anybody would do... truly. Even voices in her head would be preferable to this dull, dull silence...
>>
No. 911460 ID: 2007b6

rolled 10, 1, 5, 4, 5 = 25

>>910710
Light of the Moose parries a sword-strike with her antlers and headbutts the assailant. In the wake of that crushing blow, his horse is down with a broken leg, rider pinned underneath.

The black knight's fighting chain is still wrapped around Light's foreleg. He whips the other end around so it catches on the barbs of her collar, uses leverage from her own movement to pull himself up off the ground and onto her back. In mechanical terms, a two-action flurry of rising from prone and an attack to grapple. He seems to be better at that sort of stunt than you'd expect from even an elite mortal soldier, but didn't use any obviously supernatural power. Could be a god-blood with a relevant Excellency, or a student of some supernatural martial art... or any number of types of actual gods, demons, exalts, anathema, etc., in disguise and trying to keep a low profile.

The only kidnapper still on horseback seizes on that momentary distraction to land a slash at Light's flank: seven dice of raw damage, reduced by her natural lethal soak of two. Rolling for that.

All this has happened in the first few seconds. Some of the daughters and shamblers have broken cover and are charging in to assist, others haven't quite mentally switched gears away from the 'ambush' plan yet.

>>911338
All four of the folks inside the dome nod their assent; they're entirely willing to be taken back to the town where they were yesterday, and prefer not to be separated from each other.
>examine the device
It's a fist-sized translucent crystal statuette of a smiling tyrant lizard, with some artistic liberties to fit it into a compact shape. No moving parts, no response to gestures or speech. Seems to be fully self-contained, no sign of a remote control dongle. There's an essence-conductive spot on the nose, where a fingertip could be placed to charge it, but cautious pokes with your anima suggest it's already been fully charged and will simply continue to "wind down" like ephemeral clockwork without further input.
>>
No. 911461 ID: 2007b6

>>911460
>rolled 10, 1, 5, 4, 5
Light of the Moon Cleansing the World has taken a single level of lethal damage, filling her -0 health box. Six hours of rest or twelve of moderate activity will allow it to heal. Normal people would need to worry about bleeding and infection, but the Second Stamina Excellency (along with a solid mundane Stamina + Resistance pool, and standard exalt resilience) means she can essentially ignore such risks under normal circumstances, and has little cause to fear them even if somehow supernaturally intensified.
>>
No. 911468 ID: bb5006

rolled 2, 3, 8, 6, 5, 7, 6, 4, 5, 8, 8, 1, 3, 3, 7, 5, 8, 6, 10, 5 = 110

>>911460

Light was more shocked by the Black Rider's continued survival after having his head stepped on by a Moose more than she was by them being surprisingly adept at mounting a rampaging animal in record time, though those did form a clearer picture of exactly what she was dealing with. Of course, she had an idea for how to respond to the more annoying than expected soldier. Using her essence fueled muscles that were bigger than this puny person, Light flings the rider off right into the body of the other rider and his horse.

While she wasn't directly in control of them, she did do her best to communicate a desire to capture the rider alive for 'information gathering' but at this point she was pretty sure she would just leave his corpse near the edge of town to freak some people out, or maybe keeping him mostly dead as a weird traveling companion or something. It looked like this whole thing was going to be a miserable failure on every level but at least she didn't invest all that time and energy into trying to set up an ambush since if she had, the other Anathema would still have come by and would have ruined her work anyway.
>>
No. 911486 ID: 23b7bd

rolled 3, 2, 7, 1, 5, 4, 9, 3, 6, 6, 2, 7, 3, 1, 9, 2, 3, 2, 9, 8, 5, 2, 4, 6, 8, 3, 9, 5, 1, 10 = 145

>>911460
Bridget addresses the captives “If there is nothing to keep us here, then we leave. Stay together for the duration.”

Bridget then fashions the furs into a makeshift bindle tied across her chest, the young ones safely nestled within like babes swaddled for a long journey. The leftover clasps are easily reformed with a swift breath of air and a firm grip to help keep everything in place. After everyone is secured it’s a trivial matter to return- just two long steps in the right direction.

Oh right, mustn’t forget to bring the sunshield, don’t want the passengers DOA.

Mechanically, that’s Craftsman needs no tools to supplement her fashioning an assistive device to secure and ease the task of carrying everyone, followed by two uses of Mountain Crossing Leap, for a total of 27m and 3WP.

I think I’ve made 3 posts since my last count, so if we assume 2 dice stunts, then I’ll choose to recover 8m and 1WP. I spent one WP inbetween counts to negate fatigue earlier, so that evens out. I’ll spend 7 then from my peripheral on CMNNT, and 20 from my personal on the two MCL, then restore 8 to my personal leaving me at 1/9/5 for peripheral, personal, and temporary willpower reserves.

Bridget will probably need to sleep soon.
>>
No. 911531 ID: bb5006

I am bored, so I am going to write a thing.

Light… To say she woke up would be doing a disservice to the state she had been in. Came to would perhaps be a better word for it, or freed from her mind. She was on her hands and knees completely naked in a brackish swamp trying to evacuate the foul liquid from her lungs so she could breath. As soon as her life wasn’t in any kind of immediate seeming danger, she started to notice things, first and most deafening was the fact that she was starving. Not for food, but for something else that she could feel beating in the back of her head like the marching drums that played behind the Legion when they marched. The next thing that she noticed was that there was a strange power in the air, water, and life all around her that she didn’t really understand, but she was a tiny part of this power, and it felt like a voice in the back of her head, compelling her not so subtly to go after a certain person who’s face she could see. As soon as she tried to think back to how she got here, she was met with a wave of intense physical pain as she remembered her bones glowing through her skin and melting through her body in places, which explained her lack of clothes at the moment save a single choker, an issue she would need to remedy as soon as she got to town.

Then, she noticed that she had a new set of ears and a tail that she didn’t remember getting, and at the very least the ‘how she isn’t a melted corpse’ part of the equation came clicking together in her head. “I’m an Anathema.” She wasn’t talking to anyone, there not exactly being anyone around that she could sense, but something like that wasn’t just something someone thought to themselves. She didn’t even really know how this could have happened, after all, Anathema were supposed to be demons that possessed those that turned their backs on the Immaculate Philosophy, and while she was always a bit looser with who she shared her bed with than the priests particularly liked, she couldn’t really think of any decisive moment where she betrayed the faith. Maybe murdering that Dynast, but she could hardly be blamed for that, he was being a monster and terrorizing everyone she cared about. Regardless, heading directly into town seemed like a dumb idea with that bit of knowledge. So, rather than doing that, she fought the orders in the back of her mind, and went about slaking this thirst for a particular doe that appeared in her mind’s eye as a laser focus.
>>
No. 911539 ID: bb5006

After having slaked her thirst for Heartblood for the first time, Light found it to be one of the best feelings that she’d ever personally experienced, and she spent the better part of the next week locked in an almost perpetual cycle of hunting some new animal she wandered across and roaming through the woods in stolen skins, and for the most part, it helped. With time, the raw shock of becoming aware as a foul demon inhabiting the once ruined body of a (moderately) righteous woman and making it whole again faded over time as she explored her new strengths and skills like a child playing with their new toys during Calibration to help keep the spirits at bay. Either fortunately or unfortunately depending on who’s point of view you want to take, she was so caught up in experiencing all of everything she could with this new found keen senses and perspective, that she missed the subtle voice of her ‘owner’ in her subconscious playing as just another piece of her instincts slowly herding her towards a village to slaughter them wholesale. The bog needed a fair force for some unknown gambit or plan that she was keeping deliberately hidden, and Light had no particular interest in. However, the ploy was foiled by Light first coming across a woodsman’s house in the form of a squirrel before she came to the village, and they caught her attention far more than slaughter.

For a time, she lived in their roof as a squirrel, watching from afar as she watched them, almost fascinated by the mundanity of these people’s lives. She watched their drama unfold as the Woodsman’s wife, Fire Blossom of the White Orchids, suspected her husband, Might of the 1000 Year Oak, of sleeping around in the nearby town with tavern wenches. She suspected she should just leave it alone and maybe find a Tavern Wench considering she had spent the better part of her adult life doing such and she would be down to sleep with someone like herself if she came in, but then it hit her. That was how a normal person was supposed to think, and she’s not a normal person anymore, she’s a demon that’s supposed to ruin the lives of those of impure faith. So, she plotted and thought over the plot of as many plays as she could remember watching ever since her host was a child.

Then, in a moment of clarity, she remembered the tale of “Spilt Tears of Blood and the Cursed Lover” where a woman was in a similar predicament that the woodsman was in where she was cheating on her wife, and then she was courted by an Anathema, and her heart was consumed as the Anathema stole her form and seduced the faithful wife and served as a festering blight in the community until the children of the dragon came and purged them for their corruption, and saved the faithful who fought against the rot in their midst. Clearly, she had something to work off.

Starting the next day, as soon as the Woodsman headed deeper into the woods, she followed him, and a fair enough distance from his house, she shifted back into her true form and seduced the woodsman, the fact that his love wasn’t enough to rebuke her advances was proof enough of his impure faith so far as she was concerned, and moments before he could finish, she ripped open his rib cage, staring him dead in his pain wracked eyes as she bit down on his heart to drink as much blood as she could like the story said before eating his heart. This was where she ran into the first complication in her plan, unlike animals, she had no idea how to acquire the skin of a human. Not exactly one to give up at the first sign of impossibility, Light took the knife that the man had on him, and skinned him as best she could, and draped his skin over her and she prayed, almost to the dragons before she realized how unbelievably stupid praying to the thing she was supposed to be opposed to was, that it would be enough.

Predictably, it wasn’t, so as soon as she went to enact phase 2 of her brilliant plan, the wife ran off into town alerting them to the presence of a monster in the woods that killed her husband, and the whole town went on guard while Light congratulated herself on a mission success, since she played the part of the Anathema as well as she could, and while it didn’t follow the original story, she got the entire town on guard against corruption and stuff that left them open to Anathema, and that was part of what she guessed she was supposed to be doing as she headed moose northward
>>
No. 911540 ID: 2007b6

>>911486
>rolled 3, 2, 7, 1, 5, 4
Wits + Survival roll for navigating back to the town is unsuccessful. You've discovered a key disadvantage of running around in seven-league boots: when the terrain is hilly or forested (and this area is a little of both), one or two steps off the path can land you beyond the horizon. Enough stars are visible that Bridget can easily orient herself relative to the poles, but it's nighttime, and even if local landmarks were visible they wouldn't be all that useful because she's so new to the area.

More specifically, Bridget has landed in a murky chest-deep pond. One shore is a sheer cliff with a lot of crumbly-looking sandstone, probably not safe to climb. The other side is a smooth slope, reeds growing from a type of clay that'd be very useful for certain kinds of pottery - and a momma ox-dragon, aiming her horns at the shiny unexpected arrival and making startled "gronk" noises, while two calves huddle behind her.

Ox-dragons are comparable in size to yeddim (taller at the shoulder than Bridget herself, and over twenty feet from nose to tail), but much less frequently domesticated. There's a number of reasons for that: their diet leans more toward grass, roots, and tubers, rather than avocados and other fruit, and they're less drought-tolerant, so it's harder to bring enough fodder and water for them on long trips through unfavorable terrain. By temperament, metabolism, and leg geometry, they're more suited to short sprints rather than all-day plodding along. Most of all, they're irrepressibly aggressive in defense of their young, so attempts at selective breeding tend to end in trampling or impalement.

>>911468
You manage to throw off the guy in plate armor, knocking the remaining rider off his horse in the process. He keeps a hand on that chain, which is still tangled with your collar, and manages to inflict another level of bashing damage by nearly strangling you.

Two unattended horses continue toward the treeline at a walking pace, and are very surprised when the vine-limbs of ambushing shamblers manage to lift them all the way off the ground.

Five of Mother Bog's Daughters in full battle fury, and the remainder of the shamblers, pile on to the dismounted bandits, quickly disarming and restraining them. Looks like you won.

With The Spider's Trap Door, you could cover your tracks and make it seem like the three who rode out just completely disappeared, or ask them questions (you can't speak Rivertongue all that well as a moose, but Mother Bog and her children always understand what you mean, so a Daughter could serve as an interpreter), or do any manner violence upon them, as you prefer.
>>
No. 911541 ID: bb5006

rolled 8, 3, 1, 5, 3, 6, 3, 9, 10, 6, 2, 9, 10, 9, 1, 8, 8, 9, 9, 7 = 126

>>911540
Appearing to have won in an almost surprise even to herself, Light transforms back to her more talkative form as the last transformation she'll likely need for a good number of days and finally uses the sensation of limbs once again to unhook that stupid chain from her collar as she hid the tracks to prevent anyone from interrupting her THIS time.

"Alright, I'm not sure how much it particularly matters at this point since it looks like the hostages have left the compound, BUT since I marched out here for half a day to try and reenact an Immaculate Morality Play and a certain someone got in the way-" She emphasized the last part to Mother Bog, even though she was still going to follow through on what she had originally planned and just give her most of the soldiers that she got, even if she was mad it would be poor form to not do that, "I'm kind of curious as to the why go out of your way to kidnap a few shrine maidens for the Realm? Also, anyone that tries to give me any lip for breaking the script or tries to claim innocence in any of this is dying." She gestures for the creatures to constrict a bit harder for good measure to show that she wasn't bluffing.
>>
No. 911559 ID: bb5006

It was hard to know what was going on in Light’s mind when she came across the second village after she set the first village on high alarm for ‘something’ out in the woods, a result she still considered a success, but she couldn’t exactly stay around there since she was terrible at lying. But with the second village, she took a subtler approach and snuck into the town in the dead of night to steal some bland clothes that didn’t stick out, and she decided she’d try to reclaim her old life. After all, she had a life before she had become an Anathema, and while it wasn’t Lookshy, a nice quite village tucked in the middle of nowhere, it wasn’t particularly hard for a beautiful woman to get a job serving patrons at a bar. And indeed, it wasn’t, she just walked on in, and charmed the whole bar like it was nothing, and got to work a few minutes later. But, there was one tiny issue with this whole thing.

Everything about it felt hollow and wrong to her.

Starting from minute one her clothes felt less like a fun expression throughout the day, and more like an itchy and confining prison. The job that she had slowed pace from fast paced and difficult to keep up with at times had become something she could almost do in her sleep, and the things the people talked about just felt so hollow now, but on some level, she knew that she was the only thing that had changed.

But, she had time now, so she downed another mug of ale, and for the first time that she could ever really imagine, she tried to empathize with the other Anathema. How many of them were like she was now, alone in a crowd of people with the only instructions being their own guts and the stories that they had heard about themselves. She had been planning on continuing her train of thought when she realized she was starting to gather a crowd when she realized she had just downed her 10th drink in half an hour and she wasn’t even failing to pretend to be drunk. Not wanting to particularly be bothered by the group of impressed onlookers, she slipped out the front door, and like a shadow she was gone. It didn’t take long before she got to the edge of town before she realized she had a few choices she could make. Either she could stay here and practically torture herself by embracing the mundanity of her old life against her screaming instincts or embrace the isolation from people. The thought had barely formed in her head before she found herself tearing her clothes from her body and stashing the remains near enough to the town that someone would probably find them. She had only borrowed them for about 6 hours though, so she wasn’t super worried.

But after that, she was faced with a more philosophical question that she didn’t really think she was prepared to handle. Should she try and follow a more personal moral compass or try and stick to the narrative that she was a monster of uncountable proportions who should destroy that town she was just in by her very presence, and to be entirely honest she kind of didn’t want to do that. As she reached a nice place to sleep for the night, she started to really think about it, and she realized, the 7th legion, the Realm, probably these little towns all the way out here had some kind of protection against bandits and other more terrible things, but there always seemed to be more, and they were rarely enough to avoid tragedy as a whole. So, she thought about trying to start a crusade to clean up the bandits of the world, but then she realized that would be stupid. The 7th legion, for as much as they train, use the bandit attacks on the village to train and prepare for an active Realm invasion too, so it would be kind of dumb to get rid of all the threats. She could easily have come to some real decision, but until she came up with something better, she was going to play out the plays she’d seen for years and years and be a force of bloody reckoning against the people who were a serious threat that she came across, but she’d leave some disorganized force to be a nuisance for years to come if they couldn’t dig them from their ground.

As soon as she was about to go to sleep, content with the decision she had already made, she realized she had been at this conundrum for the larger part of the night, since it was less than an hour before sunrise. Not letting that particularly get to her, she went to sleep anyway.
>>
No. 911570 ID: 2007b6

>>911541
>for the Realm?
The black knight laughs. "Fuck the Realm! To hell with the usurper Empress and every last one of her decadent bastard spawn." He's got just a trace of a Marukani accent.

That guy he got slammed into seems to be wide-eyed and paralyzed with terror. The other one, who was pinned under the crippled horse, is clutching a charm made from brass and twisted hair and muttering a prayer, something about 'may her four-jointed fingers guide me.'
>>
No. 911577 ID: bb5006

"Oh, so you're more from Lookshy huh. I guess that's only a few hundred miles away, but I guess that means you aren't exactly a Wyld hunt and are closer to normal bandits, so I can play this out like a confrontation between bandits and an Anathema is supposed to play out."

As she talked, she walked over to the bandit who was muttering the prayer, and ripped his heart out through his throat before taking a bite out of it.

"Actually, you know, I'm from Lookshy, and you don't sound anything like a native. Plus, I don't think I remember anything about any four jointed fingers in any of the parables I was taught growing up. Also the boss guy in the camp was pretty obviously from the Realm. Are you sure that this is all normal banditry that just so happened to kill half a town in a day?"
>>
No. 911581 ID: 23b7bd

rolled 3, 6, 2, 2, 3, 3, 10, 7, 6, 1, 4, 7, 10, 1, 10, 4, 4, 4, 5, 3, 4, 7, 4, 9, 9, 2, 8, 3, 2, 3 = 146

>>911540
Ah, well, this is less than ideal. Bridget is unsure if this creature will respect the natural order of things, but will find out soon enough she imagines. Slogging towards firmer ground, slowed but not halted by the deep mud, she puts her back to a large stone, forcing the creature to risk injuring itself if it chooses to charge. A hand extends, palm out, with her golden caste mark clearly shining through her third eye, a warning of what exactly stands before them.

Mechanically I’m trying to stop the creature from attacking to reduce risk of harm to Bridget’s current wards. Spending a mote to make anima flare to the 8 point level (also she has the permenant caste mark, so does that flow all the time?)
>>
No. 911600 ID: 2007b6

>>911577
>ripped his heart out through his throat
This has several anatomical implausibilities, but given that it's just a matter of killing an extra who's already been rendered helpless I'm inclined to allow it as the benefit of a 1-die stunt. If you want to get good information out of these guys, though, you'll need to roll something, probably involving Investigation.

Also, now that you've got his helmet off, the black knight turns out to have Appearance 3, so one of your derangements activates accordingly.
>>
No. 911619 ID: 3e9bb0

rolled 6, 5, 3, 2, 4, 10, 4, 6, 10, 3, 3, 2, 1, 7, 3, 2, 8, 2, 8, 2 = 91

Light finished eating The henchmen’s heart, and she started off looking to see if anyone would talk (wits+investigation, 4 dice, Sexond Wits Excellency 4 motes for 2 automatic successes)

If nobody answered the question well enough, she had a good idea, at the hand. “Now come on, we’re all in the wrong here. I mean, I’m a savage demon who’s supposed to kill indiscriminately and represent everything that the dragons represent, and you decided to kidnap people and from random chance I happened to think this way was more important than the corn that you guys stole. Plus, we both fucking hate the Realm, so we have at least that much in common.” Light’s still stained arm and face with the blood of their ally probably didn’t help the situation. (Charisma + Socialize, 6 dice)
>>
No. 911638 ID: afdebc

Lute Silhouette dreams.

Glassy cords innumerable wind around each other, twisting and turning and knotting- frozen in a complex pattern, hinting at some greater order or pattern, just out of reach. Stars flicker, not in the distant sky, but trapped within the threads themselves, as insects caught in amber. A design more complex than any constellation in creation's sky, the captive stars move and whirl and dance, riding their crystal rails. Not randomly, but with a clear (if inscrutable) purchase- meaning contained within motion.

The dreamer's presence stirs at the center of the web of crystal and light. Responding to her will, the stars shift in their latices, and new patterns image. Images, words, thoughts, sounds, smells- ideas and experiences reviewed and recorded and sorted- flow back and forth.

No real progress here, just a fluff piece trying to establish some more details on Lute's manse. Sort of an architectural scaling up of a fiber optic dream catcher. Archives + Sympathetic Dream Link + Gumela bound + thematic fun.
>>
No. 911705 ID: 2007b6

>>911581
Three successes, and no sudden or otherwise threatening movements, is enough to de-escalate the situation, at least for the moment. Those four people you just rescued from the figurative frying pan https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2011-07-22 are soaking wet and starting to shiver.

Given how much peripheral essence she's already been burning, Bridget's anima banner is going to take some time to cool down to the 8-mote level.

Permanent caste mark means you've got some cosmetic feature that's unmistakably associated with the anathema. When your anima isn't actually flaring, though, it could be passed off as an ominous birthmark or blasphemous tattoo rather than instant proof of supernatural power, and appropriate clothes, heavy makeup, or other mundane techniques might be able to conceal it.

>>911619
The "black knight," who's the same man that was ordering the watch schedules back at the camp in the ruined fort, explains that he looks a lot like a well-bred patrician of the Realm (apart from his large, flat nose) because his mother was a scion of House Cynis who visited Marukan on some diplomatic pretext in order to seduce their patron god, Hiparkes. She avoided scandal by summoning a demon courtesan and ordering it to perform blasphemous chicanery, transferring the resultant pregnancy to a mare for the last few months. He was raised by a blackmailer and a priest. If you're interested in joining up with the Cult of the Syrinx Prophet Executioner and helping them work toward the Realm's downfall, well, he's not exactly part of the inner circle himself, but he knows how to get in touch with them, and could arrange a meeting in exchange for sparing his miserable life. They'd surely be glad to accept aid from such a mighty Anathema.
>>
No. 911706 ID: bb5006

rolled 9, 1, 11, 19, 10, 1, 19, 14, 11, 1, 18, 13, 13, 11, 2, 19, 6, 15, 13, 1 = 207

"Neat, a cult. Well, I won't kill you, but..." She went ahead and started ripping the clothes off of the extras, and tied up the people, she knew that it wouldn't exactly hold anything much stronger than a child, but it should help with what she was hoping for.

"Well, walk with me," she obviously wasn't talking to the prisoners, but the Shablers and Daughters keeping them held in place, "since I've got some questions about this whole deal before I make any hasty decisions. First, you never REALLY explained what you were doing with the hostages you took out, and if you're trying to go against the Realm, why exactly are you attacking a random no-name town in the middle of nowhere? How many people are there, that sort of thing. Who knows, if you answer well enough, there might even be a bit of an extra reward, and I might even take off those ties."
>>
No. 911731 ID: a0618b

rolled 1, 6, 10, 6, 8, 6, 6, 10, 6, 9, 1, 2, 3, 10, 2, 3, 10, 5, 6, 8 = 118

>>
No. 911736 ID: 2007b6

>>911706
>what you were doing with the hostages
Bringing them to Bear Pond to be auctioned off as slaves. Pretty sure there's more to it than that, wheels within wheels, but the kid with the bells was the one in charge of that deeper plan.
> why exactly are you attacking a random no-name town in the middle of nowhere?
Cover for a recruitment drive. Distract and discredit some Immaculate missionaries. Possibly other plans. The Syrinx Prophet Executioner knows of many things yet to come, and uses that knowledge to orchestrate multilayered plots so subtle, none but the mad and the soulless will hear her storm approaching until it's too late.
>How many people are there,
He's got plenty of grandiose speculation, but you rolled enough successes to be pretty sure it's almost all bullshit. A cell-structured insurgency setup has successfully prevented these low-level agents you're interrogating from obtaining any useful information about their own organization's size or disposition, beyond direct points of contact and other need-to-know.
>>
No. 911737 ID: 2007b6

>>911706
>ripping the clothes off
>bindings
No need for that! They've got actual rope in the saddlebags, and even a set of adjustable shackles.
>>
No. 911746 ID: bb5006

Alright, so possibly the last post for some time, since this is a short time skip for Light setting a path for the next 5 days when she is training a new charm, and how she intends to act for that time unless something stops her.

But with the new found and somewhat bogus information, she was 80% sure she had to kill this cult, and there were two directions she could have gone in. Towards Bear Pond, or along the path the Corn was being stolen.

Since only one of those was entirely confirmed to have something to do with the cult, she decided to start the slow march back into town, which would take 50 miles by foot while the Shamblers and Co. carry the tied up with actual bonds (and still stripped naked) prisoners of war, and it would have been about 4 days if she were handling it normally, but she wasn't going to handle this normally. She wanted to make an advance, so she was going to recreate some of the more brutal training conditions she had to go through for her mandatory military training like any citizen of Lookshy, but since she wasn't actually training the prisoners, she was going easy on them.

She was pushing through 10 hours of marching at whatever tempo that the shamblers could keep up without dropping the prisoners, but the standard military tempo is ~3.5 miles an hour for prolonged marches like this. While the prisoners were allowed to rest, she spent 8 hours of combat training with a daughter and asking Mother Bog for assistance in learning how to manipulate her own essence to try and practice infusing her limbs with her essence for a more decidedly lethal attack that armor wouldn't stop, 5 hours sleeping, and the other 1 hour hunting for food and water to keep everyone from suffering while she was doing this.

When they would have arrived at town on the 4th hour of marching on the second day, they stayed a few miles outside of its borders and rested up for the extra 6 hours.

On the third day, she threw a blanket of illusion over the group to keep them hidden from non-anathema eyes (and possibly Anathema, if they manage to have a Dodge MDV of less than 3 like most extras) and marched out through the town on the path that the Corn was taken down, avoiding the caravans running back if there were any still running at that point, and stopping to rest near the waypoint as Light assumed it was a bandit hole up, and wanted to surveil it for a time, so they set up camp with a shambler who wasn't holding one of the prisoners (they had grappled a horse that had either been left behind or eaten)to come and get her if anyone entered or left so they could get the drop on the messenger.

If nobody came, she would finish her training before she went on in to search under the cover of Spider's Trap Door to try and slaughter the bandits to a man, not that she'd know there weren't any bandits there.

With help from Mother Bog and the Daughters, that should count as a trainer, even if Mother Bog doesn't know the specific charm, she knows about essence, and she is fighting clawed opponents like she wants to emulate, so with the mentorship, that should be 5 days of training for Claws of the Silver Moon or 10 if that's decided that it doesn't count (Strength 3, Essence 2, not a favored attribute) and 12 exp. Because it is incidental time, she increases her survival from 3-4 (5 exp) and from 4-5 (7 exp)for a total of 24 exp spent.
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No. 911879 ID: 2d86b4

Waking up from a dream was always something that Arberus hated. The dream world was perfect for him, free of restrictions and judgements. Waking up and realizing who he was was always the worst part of the day.

He wasn’t stuck in any normal dream. Past the nightmares and mad thoughts that consumed his dreams Arberus slowly managed to drag himself back to the waking world, his mind still foggy and dazed. Green light flowed around him like cracks in an egg and urgent need to get out struck him.

Reaching out Arberus gripped the newly formed cracks of the Chrysalis Grotesque. With a wet pop he emerged, his former cocoon oozing a foul clear liquid. Gasping and sputtering on the ground he had no time to collect himself before the remnants of the Chrysalis Grotesque shattered, releasing a blinding green light and choking cloud of fine emerald-colored dust.

Mere moments passed before the dust and liquid surged forth to coat Arberus’ body in its entirety, carrying with it large chunks of his former resting place. Too tired and still stuck in a half-dream fog Arberus could do nothing but writhe on the ground as whatever was happening worked its way to completion.

Then, after a few minutes, the fog lifted. Pulling himself off the ground Arberus looked over his body and the results of whatever the hell that was. It was armor. He felt connected to it in a way that was hard to explain with words. More importantly, he somehow knew what it could do.

He knew what he could do.

And at that moment he smiled. He took a deep breath and let his new-found powers take him. He needed to kill someone. He wanted to kill someone. No anger, rage or fear but an Urge as deep and essential as breathing. It felt good. Certainty felt good.

‘So I guess I’ll just find someone. Maybe some temple nearby has… someone. I bet… I can make people watch and they won’t even care. How do I know that? How very odd.”

With that thought Arberus activates Innocent Petal Assumption for three motes. On response to his anima banner flaring.

‘That’s a thing that happens. I’ll have to keep it in mind. I wonder how long it will last for…”

When his flaring banner finally fades Arberus makes his way to the nearest temple, figuring that there would be a worthwhile snack there. He trusts his Innocent Petal Assumption to protect him on his way there. He’s playing it by ear at the moment.
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No. 911917 ID: bb5006

>I’m sorry if this isn’t particularly long, but I need some time to practice writing about an entirely alien perspective I hadn't really gotten the number of before

Conscious life. The concept seems so married to the idea of humans in this day and age, where mankind has become so overgrown and the dominant force in its ecosystem, that so many forget that mankind was not the first, and it is doubtful that they will be the last, even if you don’t include such forces of the infinite expanse of the Wyld or the endless legion of demons in Malfeas or the Celestial Incarnae who will presumably survive any test of time or trials. However, even the first creatures to be aware of their own drawing of breath and give name to themselves to worship the Primordials were like infants compared to what had existed since at least as recently as the Primordials rending creation from the Wyld and has witnessed almost all of the history that has been long since forgotten.

However, the acquisition of this life system’s new most powerful champion is the focus of this entry. It started, some few months ago as a number of the Dragon Blooded marched around the perimeter of her murky body and began preparing for something, she kept an eye on them the same as any swamp would given the circumstances, and by nightfall she learned what it was they were there for as she felt, for the first time since the Tribe cut off all contact with her centuries ago, the essence of a Celestial Exalt. She watched as the men rained devastation on the body of what she already decided was to be her newest ‘child’, amazed that they hadn’t died as they were left entombed right alongside a cache of some other valuable treasures she had collected over the eons.

And from there, the bog dragged the tomb into a deep part of her body where she had the majority of her bodies waiting to be reborn as her children, and rather turned it into a rocky womb where the vines and roots of the swamp broke through to repair the child’s broken body while the music of a forgotten time filled the waters, both comforting and ensnaring the human soul until slowly and inevitably it was worked into the system of Mother Bogs incomprehensible body, doomed to return to her murky depths on death rather than seeking out Lethe or the Abyss, and before the child was ready to emerge as a new servant, an emerald was placed against her, and any memories she had of her time being nursed back to health were stolen.

It gave the child a brief direction, aware that this one was more willful than her siblings, so the bog didn’t interject as she felt the new child fail at her first orders, only to succeed at collecting a decent number of bodies for siblings from a nearby bandit encampment. It continued like this, until it decided to stop giving overt missions unless there was something that it needed, death and sacrifices flowed from where this child tread, all that needed to be done for sure was to keep a number of shamblers behind to retrieve the bodies. She had offered to allow them the use of a few of the trinkets it had around its body, but she had refused at the time in favor of taking a more naturalistic approach.
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No. 912012 ID: 2d86b4

Here's my character sheet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1muwZ_UcbVbCvRfyO4EgNJ8tNkpSCSp7MyTiEIXMHlyY/edit?usp=sharing

References Sheet:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17IR1GVwCmT3yze1xQe9yaZZmSz5xy2Ulka9BzvackYQ/edit?usp=sharing

Should be pretty decent.
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No. 912035 ID: 2007b6

>>911746
>She was pushing through 10 hours of marching at whatever tempo that the shamblers could keep up without dropping the prisoners, but the standard military tempo is ~3.5 miles an hour for prolonged marches like this.
You've got five human prisoners, and seven intact horses. One of the Daughters is interrogating the horses separately; they seem to know some things their riders didn't. Sundown of the first day after leaving the fort, a glorious azure chariot comes careening down out of the sky. From the rapidly dissolving wreckage tumble three barrels and the charioteer, who resembles a crude imitation of a human toddler sculpted out of mostly twigs, mushrooms, tar, and a chihuahua skull.

First barrel, the heaviest and noisiest, contains axes, various other hand tools that might plausibly serve as weapons, and cast-iron cookwear, all of good solid construction originally but ill-maintained and encrusted with dirt, along with... leather goods? That bundle may have originally included waterskins and/or backpacks, but all of it long since decayed to the point of being structurally unsound, and the whole mess smells absolutely terrible.

Second barrel contains a tightly packed bundle of thin yet sturdy white cloth, red cords anchoring it to complex feathersteel struts, which unfolds into a large tent and associated camp furniture (similar to the stuff in the background here: https://mangabat.com/chapter-serie/1088887170/chap_63.2 ) The whole set is eleven thousand years old. It was originally commissioned by Ahlat during his departure from the North, offered by him as a celebratory gift to Oa-Tē (inventor of the Ghost-Eating Technique) one year and nine days after that charm's first successful use against the White Ram, enchanted to be self-repairing during The War, eventually left in a museum in Meru as a historical curiosity, lost when the Mask broke, presumably spent the Shogunate in some private collection. Bagrash Köl lived in it for the decade before he had an empire; after the Eye of Autocthon turned against him, the bundle ended up as flotsam on the White Sea, in a barrel the same size but much fancier, which was plucked out of the River of Tears in a fisherman's net, joined a scavenger lord's caravan on the way to Nexus, and was intercepted by brigands. Then, while the brigands were fleeing a losing battle with the Seventh Legion, Mother Bog ate them and took their worldly goods for her own. Humans need things like map tables and tents to shelter sprouting battle-thoughts, yes? Mother bog has seen or heard of many, many battles over the eons, and whichever side had at least one of the same sort of being as Light Of The Moon Cleansing The World - apparently they're called "anathema" these days - in a tall enough plan-growing tent, would pretty much always win.

Third barrel has wheels of wax-coated hard cheese at both ends. Between is a jumble of trail-ration-grade bread, random assorted fruits and vegetables (damaged in the crash but otherwise fresh), loose raw cotton fiber (seeds and all, meant as padding or tinder), and a dozen very fancy boots with earthenware jars of salt tucked inside. Eleven of the jars are intact, one shattered. With salt to preserve the remaining horseflesh, plus bread, cheese, and greens for the Haltan expatriates (they'd rather starve than take a single bite of any of the available meat, and one actually vomited when he saw Light wolfing some of it down during the initial butchery, but for whatever reason all four of them eagerly regard carrots and other root vegetables almost like some rare, exotic delicacy) you won't need to slow down to forage for at least a week or two. The horses can probably survive at least that long just by grazing, so long as they don't need to run or carry any significant weight.

Those fancy boots, Mother Bog took from Seventh Legion patrol chasing the same brigands who brought her the tent. Once attuned, they'll let you and five Daughters, or four and the black knight (but not the Haltans, they lack control of essence) march ten mph, a hundred miles a day, as easy as breathing. Self-adjusting, incredibly comfortable, but wholly unsuitable for a shambler's tireless tree-trunk legs, and somewhat too large for a creeper. Speaking of which, the new arrival knows two other spells besides Conjuring the Azure Chariot: Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry which (once you scrounge up some minimal ritual supplies, mostly incense and paper) can be used to permanently secure the 'loyalty' of almost anyone you can 'persuade' to hold still for an hour, and Unstoppable Fountain of the Depths which can be used for demolition, fire suppression, short-term area denial (a line about twenty yards long for ten minutes, plus subsequent flooding), or simply as a source of clean water.
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No. 912044 ID: bb5006

rolled 8, 5, 4, 5, 7, 4, 8, 1, 9, 8, 6, 6, 8, 2, 7, 1, 6, 5, 6, 5, 5, 6, 10, 7, 4, 10, 1, 8, 5, 7 = 174

The first thing that Light felt, as she saw the chariot was hope that this wasn't one containing a more direct mission, since she already had found one for herself, and she hardly needed another one to distract her. Following the immediate sigh of relief when it was supplies for the less hardy in her train and a chance to live it up pretending to be human in a more personally friendly way, she went over the contents.

The first thing that really caught her eye was the cooking pots, she'd need to clean them up a bit, but otherwise, this was remarkably similar to what she had been using in Lookshy, followed by the boots, which she had never gotten to wear, but they unmistakably reminded her of home. The last things she noticed were the weapons, since she guessed that a creeper would be able to use those in a fight, but she was only able to use specialty weapons following the Tent, which she couldn't even begin to guess the historical context of, but was an extremely nice tent nonetheless, triply so for someone who tends to sleep naked in trees and abandoned animal warrens.

Regardless, the first thing she did after putting on the boots for that nice comforting feeling of home, she asked first how much weight that the Chariot could carry, when that didn't matter since there were 17 people not including the Haltans here and that it could only hold 4, she had to ask the Shamblers how fast they could keep up carrying the humans, or how fast they could keep up if 1 of the daughters and enough of them to escort the minor haltans back to mother bog on foot while the rest helped carry the cargo.
>>

rolled 7, 5, 3, 10, 8, 5, 8, 6, 8, 1, 2, 1, 8, 4, 6, 1, 10, 3, 5, 2 = 103

All right, a new day in the nameless village. The traitor daystar is shining, and Lute Silhouette has things to do.

She's got two days before her ride leaves (unless she finds a reason to part ways and interrupt her voyage and training in sail).

For local concerns, does the situation with Edgar and the surgeon require further attention to ensure they live up to their potential? Does Lute's attempt to seed a cult for the Sandpoint Devil seem to be working, or does it require further reinforcement?

If she's looking into whatever happened here, a good lead seems like going to question that death knight Bridges the Sun and Moon entombed while she remains helpless. What are my options for traveling out there? Walking seems like it might be tight on the departure deadline, and along hike wthou dots in survival may be a bad idea. I'm not sure if the chancel can be used to shorten the distance meaningfully, and Bridget isn't back to play mountain leaping ferry (and her presence at an interrogation might complicate matters besides).

Rolling for information gathering and such, so probably investigation, possibly supplemented by EST as needed (conservatively, not willing to blow my whole personal pool playing 20 questions right now).
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No. 912123 ID: 9646f1

rolled 7, 6, 1, 8, 7, 5, 10, 1, 4, 7, 8, 4, 10, 1, 6, 1, 7, 6, 1, 3, 10, 9, 8, 9, 2, 6, 8, 7, 2, 8 = 172

>>911705
Lost in the swamp. Mortals are wet, which isn't good for them usually. Dangerous fauna and swamp ground mean there's no safe place to stop here, but if they stay cold and wet they risk hypothermia, maybe disease. Increased elevation should help with navigation, might be enough of an edge to get them back to the village in one leap or, failing that, somewhere safer to stay the night.

"Apologies for your discomfort" Bridget states to her wards, "My error has misplaced us. If any are skilled navigators, speak now. Regardless, I search for safety. Please remain in your sling for now."

By the time her speech is finished, Bridget has reached the top of this "outcropping", which turns out to be little more than a stray boulder, seemingly at least somewhat for this inconvient wet divit. Firm enough at least to gain purchase and look above the trees.

Mechanically, activating Monkey Leap (the scene long one) for 4 motes, Bridget crests the treetops and tries to get her bearings to find the village or somewhere less soggy and dangerous to make camp.
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No. 912170 ID: 0640da

rolled 6, 9, 8, 4, 5, 5, 8, 6, 6, 7, 2, 8, 4, 10, 10, 4, 8, 5, 6, 4, 5, 4, 4, 8, 3, 10, 9, 6, 7, 8 = 189

The silence was starting to get to Morse. No, well, it had gotten to her-- past tense. She could swear that she was hearing voices again... whispers in a low tone. They sounded familiar-- was someone out there, coming for her? A ghost of the Princess, or perhaps a gullible mortal child?

"Hello?" The abyssal called out, and the whispers became altogether silent. Her brows furrowed, and her lips sealed shut again. Nobody was out there-- and if they were, they weren't talking to her. She remained wrapped in her prison of iron, before the subtle whispers of a faraway place made hushed sounds once again...

"Hello?" The abyssal called out again, half-wondering if she was going mad-- and the whispers became silent once more. "I can hear you, you know..." Morse whimpers softly. There's a long pause. "Are you just going to watch? I want out..."

There's something of a groan in the next whisper. She heard that for sure. "Hello? Anybody? Respond to me, please! I just want to hear a voice... any voice!" This box was stuffy. It felt like it was closing in on her, like she was suffocating. "Please! Talk to me!"

And with that yell, Morse's voice quiets down, and her body becomes less stiff... she feels comfortable now, a rare thing to experience when you are in the most confining cage you have been in for your entire life. She feels relaxed and at ease... because this time, when she asks for someone to talk to... something talks back.

((I'd like to purchase a point of Whispers (3XP?) and pray to the Neverborn for guidance to a location where they would most like Morse to be right now. Not a full 'break open this cage', but Morse wants someone to talk to. I say we give it to her. The roll should cover the relevant prayer... and I'll channel Conviction, if possible. Morse wants to reinforce her beliefs subconsciously.))
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No. 912233 ID: 2d86b4

Leaving his house Arberus was stunned by what he saw around him. The hell happened here? This wasn't his doing, he was rather sure of that. The idea was upsetting, like showing up to a game after everyone was finished playing.

On the other hand, this might be salvageable. Although his neighbors might be dead (Who cares? He's seen people die a thousand times in his dreams. He'll see thousands more die. Maybe. Thinking about it too much ruins the fun.)

'No, no, nooo. I don't know what happened here but I am not taking the blame for this. I wanted, for... ugh!'

Like breathing, like blinking, Arberus becomes the Scented Skinless Serpent. His withering skin and new bright colors didn't frighten him, but it did confuse him. 'I'm... not really sure what my limits are. How wonderful. And I'm glowing. I could read a book any time I want. How amazing. Now, what was I doing?'

Arberus makes his way around time, ignoring most people or giving them a quick wave as he tries to find someone who might be worth fighting. A monk, or a spirit of some kind. He's lived here his whole life, he should recognize someone. Hopefully the glowing and alien-form will help attract the attention of a decent adversary.

He really, really, wanted to tackle someone.

(Spending another 10 motes and 1 wp for Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai. Glowing bright enough for people to read. Spent 13 wp total. If these posts count as +2 stunts then I've spent a total of 9.)
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No. 912461 ID: 2007b6

During the middle of the day, the sky turns black. Not clouds, nor an eclipse, just the sun deciding to shine everywhere else but here.

South of town, just beyond where the airships landed, an arc twists and chars, a curved line drawn by some cosmic surveyor's compass across the actual ground instead of a mere map. Blind doves erupt and fly from the border, shrieking like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Silvery sand begins to trickle down, quiet like snow. It accumulates on every exposed surface to a depth of approximately half an inch, over the course of - depending on how you measure it - slightly more than one minute, or 7/8ths of an eternity, or exactly five days.

>>912170
Training time for Restless as the Dead, Corpse Needs No Food, and one dot of Whispers is complete. A woman wearing nothing but feathersteel boots and a necklace of barbed silver chain (with no clasp, how did she get it on? There aren't even any signs of the individual links being welded shut) rips the cage apart with her bare hands. The Neverborn want you to lead her west, uphill, to the mine, and give you words to say which will make that happen. Most of the speech is very nearly true.

>>912044
Training time for Claws of the Silver Moon is complete. You've tracked the stolen granary contents to an abandoned copper mine out in the hills to the west; a solid majority of the bandits who were escorting the wagons are now dead or dying, from an astonishing variety of causes. Infighting, wild animals, self-inflicted sword up the nose (all the way to the hilt), unnaturally accelerated leprosy, frostbite (it hasn't been that cold, even at night), poison gas...

Inside the entrance to the mine, something vaguely humanoid, with violet eyes as big as mangos and floppy skin like too-large clothing, says in Old Realm "This is not what we agreed to transport. This is not what we agreed to be paid. Where is the remainder?"

>>911879
A young man clad in spike-studded ivory armor emerges from the basement of a collapsed poultry-butcher's shop. When he announces that he's a terrible demon come to kill them all, the crowd scarcely notices. A passing bricklayer casually suggests he visit the Immaculate missionaries to "get that sorted out," as if homicidal mania were an embarrassing type of rash for which monks dispense the proper salve. Some small child asks whether he's the one who did all that funny stuff to the sky, which is currently flat black around the horizon, with a gradually increasing number of lurid, sickly-green sparkles directly overhead.
>>912233
At the mission's rented storefront, the abbot - an elderly man with a jade-tipped spear, clad in the undyed linen robes of a third-coil monk - has much the same question. Seems to be mostly rhetorical, though, since he moves right along into gestures thanking the earth, sky, and sea, as part of assuming Five-Dragon Form. He, and five second-coil disciples, form a loose ring around the armored... being... that they cannot firmly identify as anything but Anathema.

Deep, vegetal instinct tells the newly-minted Green Sun Prince that they all expect him to make some deeply tempting offer before the fight begins in earnest. The one with the red belt and the axe imagines you offering to spare whichever two of them betray the other four; the one with the pale blue bandolier of knives imagines a prestigious position as your herald and lieutenant; the one with the white belt and the sledgehammer imagines a promise of endless luxury, particularly chocolate-covered strawberries; the nun with the green belt imagines being offered one of the others as a personal slave (and seems to take it as a given the red-belted one would volunteer); black belt and seven-section staff imagines being kept in a gilded cage like one of the Guild's comm-sorcerers, spoon-fed terrible occult knowledge; the abbot expects you to whip out a tub of ambrosial icecream laced with some alchemical formula that'll cure the ache in his left knee. All six intend to righteously refuse such temptations, but there's some twinge of doubt whether they actually could. Certainly, none of them expect more than one or two of the others to accept, or for any of the faithful to tolerate blatant apostasy and treason, so violence is clearly imminent.

>>909917
Embri makes it back to town with about half the stolen grain, three live yeddim - a male and two females - and 50 reasonably intact troops behind her. Right in the middle of the market square, some weirdo in heavy armor is trying to argue philosophy with the Immaculate missionaries - unless you spend 3 wp to realize he's actually starting a very physical fight. Vines (or vine-shaped things, the color and texture of which more resembles bare bloodless muscle and sinew) are growing fast enough to tear up cobblestones, but nobody seems to pay much attention to that, either.

On a related note, anyone on the scene with dodge MDV 3 or less (quite a few of the nonheroic bystanders, but no monks or exalts) is struck by Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai's servitude effect. If Arberus announces that he needs something, there may well be a riot as all those people rush to provide it.
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No. 912467 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 7, 10, 4, 2, 5, 2, 8, 9, 5, 9, 9, 4, 5, 8, 9, 7, 2, 6, 5, 3, 2, 6, 2, 9, 4, 8, 9, 7, 7 = 178

Morse feels... liberated, but uncomfortable as she stands next to the woman who freed her from her prison. The neverborn were right, but what could it mean? What compelled them to ask her to say those words... Morse shakes her head. It's the first time she's been asked by crazy gods in her head to ask a stranger 'Do you love me?', and she hopes and prays this will be her last. She feels uncomfortable, knowing that her savior will be an unfortunate casualty of her curse... and that's just what the Neverborn desire. She thinks back to how it all went down...

---

THERE WILL BE AN ABOMINATION. THESE ARE THE WORDS YOU MUST SAY TO TEMPT HER HEART TO SERVE YOU.

Morse isn't quite sure this is exactly what they said-- she can't be sure of anything. She could have been in there months, weeks. She did not sleep, or drink, or eat-- everything was vague. Even after the... abomination arrived, she could not tell the voice of it apart from the voice of madness. Still, her parched lips parted...

"Do you... love me?" She mumbled, her voice hoarse. Something must have possessed the abomination-- in moments, it seemed like, she was tearing the cage open with her terrible claws. She was exactly as the Neverborn described and more-- she hadn't expected them to be so... so... real...

Vulnerable, and still bound, Morse's face was visible for Light to see. And it was both relieved, and scared... scared of what?

"...I don't know you, but... I think you were sent to help me. Please. Set me free, savior of mine."

---

Well, now Morse was doing the good duties the Neverborn asked her to-- taking this woman to the mines, as they asked, and dealing with the Violet-Eyed Fellow. Morse speaks in Old Realm herself, being a learned woman fluent in multiple languages. "Your delivery was waylaid by a solar-- its goods stolen by a common thief. My emissaries sent me to protect it, but their power was too great and I was far too late-- it is clear that your precautions, flimsy as they are, were inadequate." Morse gives a bow of politeness. "I seek to receive compensation for that mistake... would you deny the courtesy of an emissary of my dark lords? If it be willing, I can always tell the Bishop that our aid has been refused and any hope of an alliance is lost... I'm sure he would be more than willing to let me advance to the backup plan, if it must be so. Let me just say... I love the backup plan." Morse's smile widens, her mask retrieved and her expression as inscrutable as ever.

This is Manipulation, yes?
>>
No. 912470 ID: bb5006

rolled 6, 8, 3, 4, 5, 9, 1, 5, 1, 7, 2, 5, 6, 1, 6, 3, 4, 1, 6, 9, 8, 8, 1, 4, 7, 7, 1, 1, 7, 8 = 144

"Do you love me?"

Light wasn't entirely sure what she was feeling as her essence enhanced claws ripped through the Tomb that she felt like she ignored for too long, like there was a huge build up, and this was the payoff to something she wasn't aware of as she was asked that simple question, but something about either the question itself, or the person asking, but it felt like it cut deeper than anything she'd had been asked before, and like there wasn't any defense she could have had against it. So, she did the only logical thing she could possibly have done, and pulled Morse out of the tomb into as tight a hug as she could muster.

"Of course I love you, I never stopped loving you. I just didn't know where you were all this time." Her words definitely sounded true, but they didn't feel like they were coming from herself.

--------

Light wasn't particularly well schooled, a fact she was well aware of. The fact that she recognized Old Realm at all was only because everyone knew that wizards talked in that tongue all the time, since it was magically significant or something. But fortunately, the violet eyed person wasn't JUST talking in Old Realm as she monitored everything from his posture to what she imagined his tone of voice was sounding like to see if he had any particular aggression towards them and if she needed to initiate preemptive violence.
>>
No. 912472 ID: 0640da

= Hours Ago =
"...you do?" Morse squirms uncomfortably in the tight hug... she doesn't feel any resonance building. This is unusual-- usually, the Neverborn notice when she's even thinking about other people and give her a hit of their fury... the touch of another body is not something she's felt since, since...

Morse pushes Light away and escapes her embrace, falling down on the dirt floor behind her. She scrambles to her feet, and scrutinizes the abomination. "If you've been looking for me, then why didn't you rescue me? Those years I was trapped in that vile Lord's carnal cage... did you just put it off? Leave me there to suffer?"

It's difficult to tell, but... it looks like Morse is angry. Ruh roh. "Don't lie to me. I'll know if you are lying..." 3 motes to channel Scathing Cynic's Attitude, which more or less overdubs her words with those of the Neverborn if she does lie to Morse.
>>
No. 912474 ID: bb5006

"I don't know, alright. I wasn't looking for your tomb, I just stumbled onto you by accident and I wanted to help you because I know what it's like to be left for dead in a coffin like that. But the second I saw you I felt something. Something that, deep down, a piece of me has missed for longer than I can imagine, which I guess helps support to my guess that Anathema reincarnate like a virtuous enough person."

She sank to the floor herself, the obvious rejection cutting deep, even if she was going to try and fix this as soon as she could. "So I don't know what you mean by 'Carnal cage' but I'm sorry I couldn't have been there to save you any sooner."

For what it was worth, not a single thing she said rang as insincere or even a half lie.
>>

rolled 4, 4, 8, 3, 5, 2, 4, 8, 5, 10, 10, 8, 2, 10, 3, 5, 3, 3, 1, 7 = 105

>>912461
Wha- Liger? Daystay, I know I was just calling you a traitor but that wasn't an invitation to run away! *Grumble* very first mission to creation and somehow back in Malfeas before even getting the chance to get homesick.

>Given that Lute and Bridget have exotic mobility options, and time and space just got glitched out pretty badly, I'd be willing to say they can be anywhere in the area when it arrives in Hell, and get a week's worth of training or other downtime activity done on the way.
I'll spend the 1 week training jump and 2 xp on my second dot in sail. If possible, I'll also use the downtime to have Lute duck back into her workshop in the chancel, and craft glass ammunition (shuriken, knives, arrows) to have stored elsewhere for future use. Rolling for that, plus using the appropriate arm for crafting successes.

Post having Lute pop out into the action pending, probably going to be aiming for Light and Morse.

>>912047
The transportation question is less relevant now, but I am still interested in if Edgar took Bonesaw on as a student or assistant, and if the cult seeding attempt is working or not, since that informs if I'll be following up on those.
>>
No. 912476 ID: 2007b6

>>912467
>I can always tell the Bishop that our aid has been refused and any hope of an alliance is lost...
"Before we determine who must pay the blood price for this breach-of-pact between us, I ask to clarify: your master, the apheliotrope Ebon Rime, wielder of the bow Expiring Vigilance and high priest of the Syrinx Prophet Executioner, has successfully claimed theological authority across some broad region of the burning lands? Far-off temples submit their doctrinal disputes to his arbitration?"
>>
No. 912477 ID: 0640da

She's telling the truth-- well, sort of. That beginning bit sounded like a lie-- she didn't need the Neverborn to tell her that she opened the coffin because Morse spoke the words she was told in a dream. Clearly, she's unwilling to admit something, but... it won't cause harm to her. More important, now, is to digest this information and make it something useful again.

Morse thinks about this for a bit, looking her over... "Raksha? No. Tail and human form, but not so inhuman as to 'boggle the mind'... that would make you a Lunar Exalt. Chosen of Luna, prone to change and corruption of their form... the closest of the creation-born to rejecting itself as the true children of the Primordials have chosen to do." Morse pauses, pawing for her mask before clutching and adjusting it to fit. "Perhaps the best and the worst of the celestial family. You supported the Solar's corrupt agenda when they were fat and lazy off their ill-gotten goods... and vanished without punishment as you betrayed them without second thought. Karma must have stepped in where the laws of deities and man could not... you smell of the Wyld, and look the part of a Raksha's pet creature too. Undoubtedly, your current source of power must stem from something outside creation... which would be more upsetting if all the whole of uncreation was not soon to be for naught in oblivion. I figured the rumors of the Lunar's return would be true, I just didn't expect to meet one-- ah."

Morse breathes deep, as if she's pieced together a puzzle. "So that's where you come in. You would be... the other half of a two part set, a joyous union split in twain by the vagaries of man and their wretched schemes. Please, do speak up where my assumptions strike ill-- the path to knowing, to knowledge is to have both stupid sides of a story and then to laugh at their discrepancies. Are we designed to come together, as rust and iron or wood and rot?"

You know, this rather SOUNDS like her Solar Mate. But this is definitely not a Solar. A solar would not look this distressingly corpse-like-- even Morse's eyes are faded. Also, she sounds more like she's picking a fight with Light than questioning her...
>>
No. 912486 ID: bb5006

"I have no idea what you're talking about with any of this Exalt stuff, but I know I'm not a prince of the earth, I'm an Anathema and a former barwench and soldier of Lookshy." As she talked, her spirit stoked by the spirit of this adversity, she rose back up from the ground, and put Morse into a tighter more restrictive hug.

"You're maybe the second other person like myself that I've ever met, and if we're supposed to go together as a pair like I guessed and you said, you'll need a lot more than some disparaging words to try and keep me from loving you."
>>
No. 912487 ID: bb5006

rolled 2, 3, 1, 9, 3, 10, 8, 8, 4 = 48

>>
No. 912488 ID: 2d86b4

>>912461

Arberus thanks the bricklayer and admits to the child that he’s just as confused about the whole thing as the kid is. He admits that it’s possible the Heaven’s are shaking in fear for the violence he was going to inflict upon this town, but he honestly doubts it.

“Oh, by the way. The people I plan on killing should have some nice things on them. You might want to loot there still bleeding corpses when I’m still around. After I leave I imagine it’s going to be a lot harder to take what you want.”

The fact that he was telling this to a child didn’t bother him in the slightest. The fact that he was telling a kid to loot a dead monks body did amuse him greatly.

“Also, there may be some collateral damage. So you might want to head home until the screaming stops.”

---

The one thing that did surprise him was just how normal and expected this all seemed to him. Of course this was going to lead to violence. He knew that, wanted that, when he left his house. He still did. But he was after a mindless type of violence. A comedic form of gore and splatter.

There had to be a way to make that possible. He would make that possible.

There was a more pressing matter at hand, however. An odd thought that buzzed in his mind with ear-ringing irrelevance. And so Arberus spoke and asked his question honestly.

His words were tinged with magic. A curious type of rebellious subtext. ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ bled into them, demanding that those who heard them question for themselves. The intent was simple: To inspire desire for that which was denied to them. Not because Arberus cared, or wanted to control them, but because… it was fun.

“Old man, why does your knee ache? Right now, I was going to kill you. And these people who surround me so. I was going to let these streets run red with blood and use those around me as a shield against your aggression. But then I looked at you. And your knee aches.”

Arberus pauses, looking over each of the six men. Did he know them? Maybe. He never left the house much. He doubted he could kill all of them, even if he used the peasants as a distraction. Maybe one, before he was forced to flee? At the moment none of that really mattered to him. His mind was focused on more important things.

“So what’s up with that? Can I help with that, or shall we get to why I’m here? This town painted red, or my help fixing that knee of yours?” He tilts his head, a blank expression on his face. He sucks air through his teeth. “Well. I. We’re all here. I’m here. And I’m here. So what are we going to do while I’m still here? It’s time to use me, don’t you think? I want to use me. So let’s make up our minds. Let me know how your knee is doing? Or should things die? Maybe I’ll die, for certain others will. Or your knee? Why put up with that damn thing, anyways? Is it worth it, to die, when this can go so many other ways? I’m not judging, I just want to be Me.”

----

Using Stoke the Flames to inspire thoughts of rebellion. Something to make dealing with an Anathema not seem so bad. Trying to see if this old guy has a better idea for where I can express my violence. I imagine there should be someone who I can kill to help this old dudes knee.
>>
No. 912491 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 4, 6, 3, 4, 6, 3, 7, 6, 4, 3, 9, 9, 7, 2, 7, 10, 8, 3, 5, 10, 10, 4, 9, 7, 7, 2, 7, 3, 3 = 170

>>912476
"Naturally, although I say this with reservation as I think you have misunderstood as to the nature of my statement. All temples, in part, end their disputes in the place where all ends, and where the jurisdiction of one begins it connects through cycles to others. My master, my Bishop, would not be pleased for your confusion of him for another, but would merely like a lowly apostle as I to aid in the resolution of disputes which chiefly concern him-- that is to say, those which involve powerful artifacts that belong to and are created by one party, but through trickery and elaborate ruses find their way into the hands of another. There is a life that flows through magic, good sir, and that life can create or... extinguish just as easily." Morse snaps her fingers-- an illusory blue flame flickers to life, before she ceases its existence and extinguishes it. "Now, you ask me as to what concern my master has for this petty dispute among smaller sects and covens and cults, I would say to you that you owe us one for the possession of this artifact and are now going to resolve this with our help, and as allies, or find yourself crushed beneath the weight of the tomes of greater gods than you or I. As a woman who defines herself as not being prone to violence but yet finds herself in the position of oppressor quite frequently, I would much rather prefer we resolve this together than work at ends. We can resolve this simply, and with little bloodshed. But we--" Morse gestures at her entourage. "--need a full account as to what your original, poorly constructed plan was-- and more importantly, to where yours and mine goods have both gone."

Morse is earnest in teasing the information out of his lips, but her words are riddled with more confusion and deceit than a high-school yearbook. She is, in very uncertain terms, offering to help complete the deal in exchange for an artifact that, apparently, he was supposed to have possession of. I'm actually not totally sure what a lying roll is, even though there are many half-truths. Have a pile of dice?
>>
No. 912493 ID: 0640da

>>912486

Morse doesn't open her lips to mention her past life. It isn't hers anymore-- it is the life of someone who has died. She won't talk about her days as a barmaid, singing songs to customers and plating food on tables-- because those weren't her days. That wasn't her life. But hearing it from the lips of another... it makes it hard to resist the lull of temptation. The desire to ask more about her... to learn about her. And then she does it again... the hug. The tight squeeze.

"...then you will die as a result of your infatuation. All things betray, and love and life are no exception-- they blacken and blister as anything else. Doubly so when the object of your affections is cursed, born under the wrong star as you were born under a wrong sky. There's no other excuse as to why you would be matched to this one, as lowly as I am and terrible as my deeds are and will become. I recommend you discard th-this childish notion." Oh, god. Morse bit her tongue.

"...now, unhand me. For your own safety. You are my savior, as holy and wretched as you are, and I have a task I am indebted to perform for you. Your perishment would sadden me greatly, for no other reason but that I would like to repay the favor in the way my lords tell me how." Morse tries to struggle out, but her strength is insignificant. Her shamisen still sits, not far away... "To be clear, I desire you to let me go not out of love, but shallow, cruel, unkind respect. Please. Let mine arms be as free as they ought to be after my length of imprisonment, and do not extend it further..."
>>
No. 912499 ID: 2007b6

>>912491
>an illusory blue flame flickers
>rolled 2, 4, 6, 3, 4, 6, 3, 7, 6, 4, 3
The brief flame reveals a pale, noseless face, a hand curled below the shapeless wrinkly chin with one finger extended up to the tiny lipless mouth. After an awkward pause the finger twists bonelessly to point forward, accusing.

"You are lying to me. You know almost nothing about this fellow Ebon Rime, not even the proper name of his weapon."

Another pause.

"This is good!"

A grisly approximation of a smile.

"It likely means neither of you will need to be paying with your own blood, at least not for this particular breach, and, since I have thus been deceived, it is permissible - by the exact letter of the nondisclosure clause - for you to discover certain facts through my actions, or lack of actions. Not for free, of course, now that I have seen through you. Jade would be an acceptable bribe - particularly red jade - or a few thick logs of cedar or teak or black ash or any other rot-resistant wood, or perhaps a large quantity of water-or-meat of sufficient purity."
>>
No. 912509 ID: bb5006

Light still wasn't able to understand the Old Man, but she recognized that he moved into the opposite direction of violence in his voice, but she also suspected she was going to have to carry something fairly heavy in the immediate future, and then she really noticed it.

"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"

-------

"Well you know, I don't particularly care about that. After all, sometimes you just have to do what you know you know is right, even if it means death and pain. Besides, what could you possibly have done that could make you unworthy of at least one person's love."

As if in utter defiance of the warnings, Light planted a single kiss on Morse's forehead, squeezed tighter for a moment, and let her go, since it would have been really terrible for her to keep her locked up so shortly after freeing her, even if it was in a softer and nicer prison.
>>
No. 912512 ID: 2007b6

>>912475
>I am still interested in if Edgar took Bonesaw on as a student or assistant,
Nothing formalized yet. Lot of other work to do, and they're still getting to know each other.
>and if the cult seeding attempt is working or not,
Second- and third-generation rumors are already circulating; the idea has settled in to local culture like maggots into an untreated wound. Whoever's supposed to be in charge of guarding hearts and minds is apparently asleep on the job. Question now is: do you want to stir it up into a frenzy, maximizing short-term payout? Or try to build a more enduring institution?
>>
No. 912518 ID: 9646f1

rolled 5, 1, 6, 10, 10, 6, 3, 2, 8, 9, 4, 9, 4, 7, 3, 10, 10, 1, 2, 1, 8, 8, 7, 1, 2, 2, 8, 1, 9, 6 = 163

The gears in Bridget's mind slowly whirred and clicked, steadily creeping towards a conclusion most onlookers likely shared: This Probably Isn't Good.

Unpacking her wards, Bridget made preparations for the journey. They would need food, and rest before they set off. To her small group, huddled on the boulder she makes a statement, back turned to the sliver sands baring the way home:

"Unknown occurrences halt progress. If prior any worked for your captors, they are unlikely to receive compensation anymore. Consider working with me to return to the village. I will provide tonight.

Bridget sets about gathering provisions for the night- wood, food, something to recover their strength. After they awake, the long journey across the sands begins.

It's going to be a while before she gets home, isn't it?

Mechanically, Bridget activates Craftsman Needs No Tools to help her start a fire, and then meditates for the evening. If fatigue is cleared by not working, rather than sleep, can she just turn inward rather than totally shutting off for the night? If she really does have to sleep, four hours should suffice for more recovery- will she still get WP recovery for that?

On the trip across the endless desert, Bridget first trains the second survival Excellency. Then, she trains Food-Gathering Exercise. Finally, she trains another lore Excellency, the First Lore Excellency (I think that's the one I need). If it only takes a few days to train the first two, hopefully she can keep her wards fed while crossing the desert. Otherwise, we just hope they can keep up.

Budget accounting: made two posts since my last check in, and I've spent 4 motes (since JamesLeng said I didn't need to spend anything to flair to the 8 more level I wasnt going to count that)
If I recover motes from both posts, and WP from this one, minus the cost of CNNT that leaves me at
1/5/5 I think. Also spent 24xp just now.
>>

rolled 3, 6, 5, 10, 1, 3, 1, 6, 9, 6, 9, 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 8, 8, 2, 8 = 105

>>912512
Sounds like it's too soon to do any further pushing with those two then. Let's wait and see how things develop naturally and then if they need course correction.

>stir it up into a frenzy, maximizing short-term payout? Or try to build a more enduring institution?
Enduring seems like the more strategically useful option. Although this is of course assuming the mortal expatriates manage to survive, if Lute were writing them off, the short term payout would be a lot more expedient.

>>912493
>>912509
Morse Song and Light's touching moment is interrupted by an appreciative (and sincere) "D'awwwww."

An interloper stands nearby (where both are reasonably sure no one stood before) wearing fine robes, unmarred by the stains or dust from travel.

"You devotion in the face of adversity is quite touching, but you needed worry your pretty little ears. If it were within her dead gods' power to deny such bonds of love, they almost certainly would have already."

I'm assuming with high lore and occult, and with Kimbery and her other akuma being involved in the deal to capture and trade solar sparks, that Lute has some idea how solar-lunar links are normally supposed to go, at a least a very broad idea how the solar-abyssal flip was supposed to have gone, and is making an informed guess filled in with a little direct observation just now.

>>912509
>"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"
"Why, we're in hell, of course!" Lute answers cheekily in the same tongue (as if this were the most natural thing in the world), from where she had been leaning against the wall, off to the side of the mine entrance and (formerly) out of the creature's line of sight.

Can I roll a lore check to see if Lute recognizes what that is?
>>
No. 912564 ID: 0640da

rolled 1, 5, 4, 8, 9, 7, 5, 2, 1, 7, 9, 1, 2, 6, 8, 2, 7, 6, 5, 2, 6, 1, 10, 10, 2, 9, 10, 6, 2, 4 = 157

>>912499
Morse turns to Lute and Light, expressionlessly puffing out her chest and clarifying the terms of the deal to them in Rivertongue. "I have successfully convinced our friend here to strike a deal with us. Lute, Light, please present him with a quantity of red jade, rot-resistant wood surfacing or meal and water equivalent to the price which I have haggled for with my superior linguistic arrangements."

Completing her self-aggrandizing lie, Morse coughs lightly and speaks again to the violet mango-eyed fellow. "I probably should mention that it is not a lie, friend, that I work for a Bishop who would be very pleased with your arrangement. The artifact that has been stolen by this caravan is of particular interest to the Tabernacle. We shall secure what you desire at once."

Morse hears that they're in hell, and doesn't seem to comment on that-- she already assumed as much from the change of scenery. If she wasn't immune to thirst, she'd be parched.

= Hours Ago=
>>912549
>>912509

"And what, pray tell... do you know of my 'dead gods', stranger?" Morse hisses. "Know that their words ring among their followers even now... you only have to listen to hear an answer to your prayers. The less could be said for mortal gods-- their communication hinges on false hope and lying tongues. Perhaps you may not know as much about them as you claim to-- a fact I will rectify over the course of your insignificant existence."

Morse retrieves her shamisen from the ground next to her coffin, and plays a few notes... she needs to re-attune herself, which costs a few motes. Her anima flares-- a deep ooze drips out of a third eye, as she expends 8 motes (and a scene or 20 minutes) to slowly re-attune herself to her artifacts. During this time, they are not effective on her-- Read Motivation should be as normal.

"...I think the more important question is who the both of you are, and what business you have in this place. I thought for sure that arrogant solar had planned my imprisonment for a decade or more." Morse makes a few strums on her shamisen, nodding. "For know that she feared me for my name and my power-- I am a preservationist of history that operates in darkness. Morse Encoding of Forbidden Lore, Wrapped in Song-- at your service."

Morse makes a deep bow to both of them-- she assumes they are together, after all. When she bows down, more anima-ooze drips onto the floor beneath her, forming a vantablack pool of void-stuff devoid of color... this is not how animas are supposed to look. They should be... shiny. At the very least, she should have an aura... this is more like she's, she's leaking...
>>
No. 912583 ID: bb5006

"Well, I have an idea on how we can get a lot of water extremely fast, and I guess I could try and scavange for some grain, but we would need a mill to turn it into meal. But... How much of a price did you negotiate for?

"Also, what? How is that a 'normal' sentence, last I heard people don't just randomly go to Hell." Light was clearly more worried about the fact that they wound up in Hell than about the price Morse had negotiated, since she wasn't entirely even aware of what she was negotiating for.

-----

"Well, I found this place and thought that it looked like a pretty obvious watchpost for this cult I had found, so I took a few days to rest and finish training my body into a solid weapon before I really took them on since I had just marched almost 80 miles in the last few days. There obviously weren't any bandits or cultists to kill, but I found you and I decided I would free you, and right before I started to tear it open you asked if I loved you, I said yes, and we got into this conversation."

Light was starting to burn up as she leaned up against one of the walls of the basement they were in, half trying to hide the fact that she half desperately wanted to sleep with everyone in the room to help clear her head, especially since there didn't seem to be any real opening to bring it up without being rude like if she were in a bar, and half trying to broadcast it to them both to hope that an opening would come up.
>>
No. 912604 ID: 2007b6

>>912509
>"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"
The cave-thing responds in crisp, formal Rivertongue, like an uncanny impression of some professor from Lookshy's own Academy of Sorcery, "My field of study is mercantile dealings with foreigners. Any 'weather' phenomena that may occur are your own problem to deal with."
>>
No. 912704 ID: 2d86b4

A thought crosses Arberuses’ mind. Using words to make others take actions and forcing them to speak had an odd surrealism to it. ’Repeat after me, “You may not speak”.’ A temporary amusement. This random desire would no doubt pass quickly enough, replaced by some urge to walk someplace or eat a sandwich. But the simple fact that he could, and hadn’t, made it all the important to him that he did.

“You know,” Arberus speaks his thoughts aloud. “ ‘Why’ Is just as good as ‘Why not’. To me, at least. For now. So how about I add some clarity to this matter of…” He doesn’t finish, and instead looks around him at those peasants so magically enthralled by him. Peasants? People. Peasants were boring to kill but people? Those were fun.

“Hey everyone!” Arberus waves his right hand in the air, trying to draw attention to himself.

“Do what I say for a moment, will you? Who am I!?” The answer he was hoping for was ”I/we don’t know!”

“Neat, huh? Neat neat neat… Everyone, ask this Monk here who I have to kill to help fix his knee! Keep yourselves at the ready, if he doesn’t tell us we’re going to eat his face. That sound alright with everyone? Don’t worry, I’ll help.”

He smiles a bit at himself and looks the old Monk over again, ignoring the five others that surround him.

“There, that was nice wasn’t it? I suggest your idea be a good one. I’m killing something. The question is, is your knee going to feel better afterwards? Or are you just… going to be… uh. Dead?”
>>
No. 912718 ID: 2007b6

>>912488
>Using Stoke the Flames to inspire thoughts of rebellion.
You need to specify how many people you're targeting, and roll for the actual social attack.
>>
No. 912719 ID: afdebc

>>912564
>>912583
>"And what, pray tell... do you know of my 'dead gods', stranger?"
Lute responds with a grin. "Am I wrong, deathknight?"

>I think the more important question is who the both of you are, and what business you have in this place.
>I found this place and thought that it looked like a pretty obvious watchpost for this cult I had found
"Lute Silhouette Speculation in Comet's Reflection.

"My own business here is rather similar- investigating the recent bandit assault of a nearby village, and the cult that had a hand in the orchestration. I have questions about your involvement, Morse Song, and the infantry force you lead before your subsequent defeat and interment."

>>912583
>"Also, what? How is that a 'normal' sentence, last I heard people don't just randomly go to Hell."
"Oh yes, it's quite extraordinary. Demons are far more likely to fall out of cracks in their prison than others are to fall in. And miles of creation's landscape crossing over is practically unheard of!"

Perhaps unsettling, Lute seems more enthused and intrigued by this inexplicable turn of events than concerned.
>>
No. 912747 ID: 2d86b4

>>912718

Just the monks right in front of me. The weaker peasants should already be under my control. Should be three motes total.

Temperance 1 means 1 automatic success.
>>
No. 912748 ID: 2d86b4

rolled 7 = 7

---this one should work---
>>
No. 912770 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 5, 10, 6, 9, 9, 1, 2, 6, 5, 9, 4, 10, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3, 8, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 9, 1, 3, 4, 2, 2 = 135

>>912583
>>912719
= Hours Ago =
"You are not entirely incorrect, given my lord's disdain for procreation, but you err in assuming too much. I'm going to pre-empt that this is a running theme for you. There are many permitted forms of sexual bonds under the Neverborn, with the conditions that it furthers the cause of this Creation's demise. There are many... lesser Deathlords that find themselves pre-occupied with these sorts of tawdry behaviors... much to the dismay of those who work beneath them." Morse snorts, and expends 3 motes analyzing Lute's statement... she sees no lie.

"Fine. Sit with the Lunar who refuses to introduce themselves, and I shall tell you of my goals. They are very simple-- enough that an egg could understand it, let alone two presumably competent adults-- but, for your listening pleasure... I shall sing them in verse." Morse gestures in front of her, and begins to sing a song, playing a currently mundane instrument...

Tabernacle northern
underneath a frozen star
A simple priestess studies
until she is sent afar
A mission of importance
will keep her and it apart
She was sent out to find a tool--
a cold unmelting heart.


"So, I suppose you have questions. I can answer all of them... and I hope you like music, because I prefer to respond with the medium I am most comfortable with. Ask away-- and make it clear what you want to know."

= Present Moment =
"Why are you two acting like this is a big deal? Simple laws of entropy. Creation will break down and become more simple, and worse, over time." Morse makes a light dig at Malfeas. "My heart is still here, and my compass still points true towards that... backstabber, Embri. The town should have come with it, since my destination did as well."
>>
No. 912773 ID: bb5006

"It's not that I'm refusing to introduce myself, I just haven't introduced myself to another Anathema, so I'm not sure if I should use my Anathema name I use to scare mortals before I kill them, or my actual name that I was born with. Like, is there any formal procedure to this stuff? Also, there are plenty of tales of Anathema sleeping with hapless victims, so of course it would make sense that you'd be allowed to have sex."

But, beyond her lack of knowledge which name to use, and understandably doubting that she should introduce herself as 'Light of the Moon Cleansing the World', she let herself hear the music, half humming along to the music like any proud citizen of Lookshy.

"Alright, I have a few questions. What's the Tabernackle, and what's this Unmelting Heart?"

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

"Well... If we have no idea what's happening, other than we're apparently in Hell, is there anything we need to know to avoid dying? I mean, this isn't something that basic training can prepare you for."

She had gone from instantly worried to thinking in tactical possibilities of what could possibly coming to attack and how they could make the field as asymmetrical in their favor as possible.
>>
No. 912774 ID: 2d86b4

rolled 8, 1, 1, 8, 6, 2, 5, 5, 1, 3 = 40

>>
No. 912801 ID: afdebc

>>912770
Lute had meant to reference the lunar bond, not sex, but the way Morse's comments make Light squirm are certainly amusing.

>Ask away-- and make it clear what you want to know.
Lute's going to ask about Morse's mission, and her involvement with the bandit / cultist plot against the nameless village (and if Morse is honest, Lute is going to very quickly find out Morse had nothing to do with that plot and is head chasing something completely different).

>>912773
>is there anything we need to know to avoid dying [in Malfeas]?
"Oh yes," Lute responds, and begins counting out hazards on her fingers.

"The Silent Wind is perhaps the most universal danger. Adorjan slays all in her passage, but detests noise and song. For this reason there cannot be silence without death, and throughout the demon realm, music and song is played in an attempt to keep the Silent Wind away. Our companion should be a great help, here.

"If darkness should fall, do not listen to Erembour's horn, lest you wish to spend the remainder of your life underground, hiding from the light.

"Malfeas' very air is a poison that will kill mortals in a week, but we of course are not mortal. I suspect a portion of Creation's air may have traveled with us, though.

"Clean food and water is also much harder to come across in Malfeas, although for the moment we enjoy the bounty of our displaced piece of Creation.

"...of course the local area is also something of a danger, as every curious or interested demon nearby will be drawn by the appearance of this Creation-born bounty, seeking to claim or exploit it. This is going to be a problem for the local mortals, unless they are placed under the protection of a suitably powerful patron.

"There are of course, other dangers, but that depends a great deal where we are in hell. Malfeas is vast, and contains many layers."
>>
No. 912812 ID: 0640da

rolled 8, 4, 7, 10, 7, 2, 2, 9, 2, 3, 2, 2, 8, 8, 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 8, 3, 5, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1, 9, 10, 5 = 145

>>912773
>>912801
"I suppose you'd like me to drown out the noise for everyone in this part of creation... which I can, in fact, do. I can prevent everyone from listening, but... what's in it for the Neverborn? What reason do you have to use my powers to preserve the lives of mere mortals, marching towards death at a sluggish pace?" Morse is listening to the insinuation that she'd help with an undisguised disgust. "I only seek my artifact. The lives of those who got in my way are forfeit. Of course, I'm not going to stop them from listening to the music of death, if they so please to each dawn."

What can Morse (and by extension, Oblivion) get out of this deal that could possibly tempt her? Lute will need to think about this, if she wants the blanket of Morse's protection.

= Hours Earlier =

"Is that all? Well..." Morse plucks her shamisen, and the world plunges into darkness around the two exalts. In the distance, wrapped in a regal robe, a regal looking old man wearing what appears to be an ancient tapestry looks over an arid steppe. The ground is cold, and it sends a shiver to the two listeners...

The Bishop of the
Chalcedony Thurible
Listen to his words.

For us sinners he has
written a great bible
Listen to his words

Geomantically unstable
The Hidden Tabernacle is
not just an old fable
It is real

As real as you or I
Or this damned ugly blue sky...


The Bishop waves his hand, and the sky darkens...

But not for long...

The lands around him begin to dry up and blacken, and the spire of a terrible steeple begins to crack through the earth, tearing into the sky. This-- this is the true form of the Hidden Tabernacle, and as the steeple rises the rest of the dark cathedral follows.

Yes, not for long...

Creation's days are numbered
It's charted in the stars
We live we die we eat we breathe
We sing out our dull song

But he sees the truth, he sees the way
He sees beyond the scars
He knows us in our deepest hearts
And he knows who we are

The Tome of Endless Night
is his most infamous book of light


The bishop lies at his study, scrawling out scrolls that extend like ribbons in all directions, scrawled with almost illegible Skytongue. If Lute or Light knew how to read it, they'd be reading Morse's memories of the contents of the tomes themselves.

But the thing you may not know is
That it's not his only work
For his motto is obedience
(a task he has not shirked)
To the Neverborn below
and though they find creation vile
When he designed all these tools
They let his mistakes slide a while
Each one is packed with power
Each one is filled with death
Some make you melt your fingers
But this one gives you cold breath
And if given to a zombie
it reinforces flesh
And the jar it is contained in
can resist that wintry touch
But compared to what's inside
that jar doesn't matter much...


Several visions of artifacts the Bishop has created flash by, but Morse grabs them and throws them to the side-- she clears the table with her hands and sets down a jar. The jar contains a frozen heart, and ice crystals begin to form on the table below... before the scene fades to darkness, and the Bishop can be seen again-- facing a great demonic creature. It appears to be a demon amphibian of some sort-- a massive beast, surrounded by clutches of eggs and crooning. The Bishop, for his part, looks different-- Morse has taken great care to present his corpse-like war form, a black and ugly beast, in this moment of fighting. She refuses to color history any other way.

The Unmelting Heart of Tellerauthelot...

At the start, there was a great battle
A test between two faiths
Tellerauthelot prayed to demons of weakness
And the Neverborn he praised

But as fights wore on...
His blades found no purchase
And though he dealt damage
It'd regenerate

And so the Bishop had a moment of grace
He fell to his knees and he started to pray
And though the beast's poison
withered him away
He had an epiphany
That I'll share today

He realized that this beast was hurting inside
That though it had lived long
sustained on its pride
That it really quite truly
had wanted to die
In its deepest of hearts
and yet not its mind

And so the bishop called out, he cried...


The Bishop, nearly defeated, extends out a hand... and the beast stops its violent attack, staring back at the Bishop.

"There is a place after this one
A place where we are all equal
Where no more shall suffer
and there is no more light
you'll be with your family--
they'll be at your side
And we'll all be together
And there will be no war
for there will be nothing
out here left fighting for
To find this solution
You should listen and pray
It'll change all your hearts
if you do this today..."


"And the Bishop..." Morse interrupts. "Then spoke five words of truth. The first was forgiveness, the second was death. The third was winter, the fourth was breath. And the fifth was beauty-- and well, it would seem, that the terrible beast then began to scream..."

The beast trembles, and shakes... and snarls. In old tongue, it curses and insults the Bishop... notably, Morse's lips are not moving as it groans, and freaks out. The beast bounds around the room, banging into walls. The room, and their environs, seemingly shakes as this ethereal projection of a beast bounces around-- of course, the room is still perfectly still when the beast collapses, and turns translucent.

Sixteen red hearts
Did beat in its chest
And one by one
a decision was made
That beautiful crimson
then began to fade
Replaced by a chill blue stream.

Sixteen blue hearts
now froze in his chest
And expression had froze on his face
For in his cold mind a new ice age set in...
And his hearts had taken his place.


The beast, and all her illusions, vanish. The world is bright again.

"So, that's what I'm here for, and I had-- before that bitch, Embri, got her grimy paws on my heart again. The bandits had it before her, and I took them as a consolation prize. Too bad ill gotten gains are short held in one's hands..."

((Post so long Preview broke, uh oh. Hope it turns out fine.))
>>
No. 912820 ID: bb5006

Light took a few moments after the song finished to really digest, clearly the gears turning in her mind as she tried to keep focus on the actual meaning. "Okay, I think I get it. The Tabernacle is a church dedicated to a more powerful servant to your gods called the Bishop who, much like you, want to see all of the world dead. He created a lot of artifacts, but the only one that's relevant are these 16 frozen hearts, one of which was either stolen or lost and you were sent out to find this one."

As she tried summing up the song in plain language, she stood up and stretched as modestly as she could, and crossed the room, sitting down next to Morse before she could start up another song, weaseling her head and shoulder under her arms in such a way that she was as out of the way as she possibly could have been and wrapping her arms around Morse's waist, clearly not abandoning her stated goal of loving her regardless of any dangers to her health.

"So, while I was originally headed towards the copper mine at the end of this trail, going after this 'Embri' person sounds like a good next step. After that, then where are we going?"

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

"Well, I can think of a fairly good reason for you to be the person who plays music, since otherwise you'd have to listen to me trying to sing old military tunes as loud as I can possibly manage, and I don't think anyone can honestly say they want to hear that. Besides, if this Silent Wind kills Embri, then who knows if corpse disposal is going to just toss your artifact in the garbage, or the incinerator or, or mass grave. We wouldn't know from here, and it might become that much more secluded and harder to find than you would have been if I hadn't found you.”

As Light gave her reasoning, she started heading back to the village at a snail’s pace compared to what she was able to with these boots on, gesturing to come on as she hoped everyone would get the message.

“Besides, I have a number of servants that should be getting close enough to a hidden building in the village that I would really prefer them surviving, since they have collectively the ability to travel at several hundreds of miles an hour, a point to point transportation faster than that, the ability to create food, water, and soldiers, and send messages to anyone that particular creeper has met, create a flaming sword that guards people, move earth, and brainwash people, and about 30 untiring soldiers, and 15 infiltrators who can hold their own on the battlefield easily, and I’d greatly prefer that they not die until we get out of here, we might need them for personal protection even if we let the town die to whatever forces attack it for being a piece of creation.”
>>
No. 912864 ID: 5f3f48

>>912812
>Skytongue. If Lute or Light knew how to read it
Linguistics 2 (Native: Old Realm, Others: Rivertongue, Skytongue)

Granted, Morse has only heard Lute using Rivertongue so far.

>What's in it for me
*Eyeroll* "Your life, the life of your companion, and any hope of surviving long enough to accomplish your mission? I did not ask you to protect the mortals. If you would prefer useless to minstreldom, you may hand me your instrument to play, or lend it to one of Light's servants."
>>
No. 912888 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 4, 10, 8, 3, 6, 2, 9, 5, 6, 3, 1, 2, 1, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 4, 3, 9, 3, 5, 5, 1, 9, 8, 7, 3 = 159

>>912864
>>912820

"...fine. I'll provide your... musical cover. But I require that we schedule sermons for the Neverborn at dawn and dusk." Morse relents, after imagining the torture her Lunar mate was about to put her through. "I also want raw flesh or blood to drink. Endless music is thirsty work." Morse begins to play the Drowned Shamisen, plucking at the strings and... eugh. Never stopping for more than a few seconds.

"That just leaves the matter of payment for this fellow as my concern. As an expert with, dare I say, Akuma-like levels of knowledge, you ought to know what kinds of rot-resistant trees grow in this hellscape. Sources of pure, clean water-- perhaps a stream of some sort we could fill barrels up with, meat from humans... trade should not be difficult to achieve. Although my goal is to get the Unmelting Heart, the Neverborn have tasked me with this as well."

= Hours Earlier =

"...do not get too close. The stench of the Wyld is overwhelming." Morse covers her face and turns away... that sounds like an excuse as any to hide her red face. "But you are correct. The Neverborn have told me that my most effective move is to lead you to the copper mine. After that, I suppose we'll know from there..." Morse's musical instrument stops for a few moments as she struggles to adjust to the nuzzle and hug... she's not really capable of escaping the grapple of the opossum at this time.

"But the Neverborn never said anything about you, Lute. What, in fact, are you planning to do? You have heard my tale, and my goals. Do you wish to stand in my way, or are you going to bend as the willows do and aid my cause of retrieval? I assure you that I do not renege on a debt of gratitude, and my mercy shall be reserved for those who aid me."
>>
No. 912892 ID: c8a0f5

"I'm not going to make any promises about not getting as close as possible. Of course, I could think of a few ways to get closer, but I guess that can wait until we're alone, and I can definitely wait until you're comfortable with whatever the Wyld smells like."

Not one to give up, Light pressed as much of herself against Morse as she could without getting in the way, hoping to leave what she was under the impression was a distinct smell on her clothes. After all, the best way to get used to something like that is constant exposure. Either that or Morse would ditch her clothes like herself, she'd count either outcome as a win on her side.

"But that's neat, if you know about this copper mine, do you also know what's there? My guess is the base of this cult."

--- In the present ---

"Alright, I'm actually kind of curious about this religion of yours. As for the fresh blood and meat, just for clarification, what kind of ratio of human to animal would you be satisfied with, also, would you mind if I ate at least the Heart with you?

"Anyway, like I said, I have a 'servant' under my control that can summon a fairly large source of water that can run for days. It might be a tad bit of work to try and barrel it, and we'd probably need a wagon to carry enough, but that shouldn't be terribly hard. The only issue is that they should still be in town with the rest of my small army."
>>
No. 912937 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 7, 5, 4, 9, 1, 4, 4, 9, 9, 10, 4, 4, 1, 6, 8, 1, 10, 6, 2, 4, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 7, 1, 1, 1 = 152

>>912892
=Hours Ago=
"Ech. You're staining my good robes. Just because I don't have an attachment to physical things does not mean I feel a need to strip to my flesh... why don't you take a long bath before trying to cuddle me with your terrible scent?" Morse's face is slowly becoming more impossible to discern as her artifacts finish attuning to her. She presses a palm against Light's face and tries to push it away, but ends up pushing Light into a lap-pillow. Grumbling, Morse acquiesces to her circumstances.

"Cult? There's a cult? I don't remember hearing anything about that. If they were hired by a cult, their employer had a base down near Bear Lake. The mine is where a deal was to be made, one most important to the employers. As to whether Bear Lake came with us, we shall soon find out-- but let us attend to the closer location first."

= Present =

"...I'm finding you more appetizing the longer I spend time with you, Light. Yes, we may eat the humans together." Morse plays an ancient folk tune as she talks, mindless and not paying attention. "And, I don't know about his particular tastes, but I rather prefer 100% human to any ratio of human and meat. Not that I need to eat... but it is pleasurable to me, to consume flesh. I can barely resist myself when I see a corpse as it is."
>>
No. 913020 ID: bb5006

"I might be getting them a tad dirty, but there's a lot more to life than being trapped in anything so restrictive. But fine," Light finally acquiesced to Morse's desire to NOT have her clothes stained with road dust any more than they were already. As she got up, however, she took advantage of the fact that she was substantially faster and still comparatively an 'unknown' variable to steal a kiss from Morse before pivoting on her heel to sit down next to her. "If you wan't me to take a bath, there's a small stream near enough here that I've been getting water from the last few days I was training, but you have to join me to make sure I get clean enough for you.

"Beyond that, there's definitely a cult. Something dedicated to someone they called 'the Syrinx Prophet Executioner'. They had taken some slaves from the nearby town for sale, but there was a bigger plan in Bear's Pond. I had a few agents captured, most of them Haltan, like you would expect given the region and the people, it was a cell based organization, so they couldn't point me anywhere useful. I had planned on finding the cult base out here since the hypermajority of the bunch went out this way, but even if it isn't their HQ then I guess it still wasn't a waste of time, since I met you, and the other most beautiful person I've ever met." She felt almost like she appended that last statement, but the only things she'd really gathered about the so called Lute is that she was probably either an Anathema, a terribly trained Dragon Blooded, or otherwise not a threat level essence user in direct combat, and she seemed to want her to follow her heart, which in retrospect wasn't exactly a trifling amount, but still was hardly enough to really strike up a conversation.

"Anyway, I still don't know the 'rules' of this, but you should call me by my actual name. Hundred Flowing Sweet Rivers, or just Rivers. I mean, I normally call myself Light of the Moon to people before I kill them, if I let them know I'm there, but that's not really who I am. Plus, how confusing would that be to have a Light and a Lute." She gave Lute a smile, trying to lighten up tensions a tad and give Lute a more natural entry into the conversation without hostilities.

---- Present time ----

"Well, the main reason I ask about any Animal-Human ratio is because the town lost a lot of people in the town either went missing or dead, so the actual people should probably be killed as more of a delicacy. Beyond that, there's doubtless an Immaculate Presence in the town, and they probably would harass us to no end if they found out about that. On the other hand, fresh blood and meat is extremely easy to find in a big enough quantity keep either of us from going thirsty if you're half as good a hunter as I am.

"Again though, we don't really need to worry about the cave dweller's demands, all we need are some barrels and a cart to pull them in, and we can just use magic to handle that." Rivers was starting to get a tad bit annoyed, since she had brought up the fact that she already had the answer to the cave person's price three times, and while the whole 'not dying from being too quiet' thing was probably more important, it didn't seem to be getting through to everyone. "Besides, why would we pay him with people, that would just be awkward."
>>
No. 913346 ID: fe298b

rolled 5, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 6, 7, 5, 3, 3, 6, 8, 1, 1 = 53

Something new spoke in Arberus' mind. It wasn't the only voice that tied itself to his mind, but it was currently the loudest. Although it had no actual voice it still had a sound. A sort of telepathic accent.

It reminded him of a deeply voiced spoiled-child.

'"Kiiiiiiill theeeeeeem.'"

He tried 'speaking' back. He wasn't too sure how communicating worked with this... Him? Spirit? Demon? He didn't care. So he spoke aloud.

"It'll be funner if we have this guy help us find people to kill. Besides, this is my town, I'd rather kill the people I want, not just... anyone."

'"I don't caaaaaare. Kill them allll. Then suck the marrow from their bones. Come on, do iiiiiit.'"

The voice sounded hungry, but it didn't sound wrong. Arberus had a point to make though.

"Okay, so you know how money works, right? When you do work for someone they pay you in Jade and gold and other forms of currency. Imagine: If we work for this Old Monk then he can pay us. In Murder-Jade. Think about it. I don't know where the best things to kill are. But if anyone is doing to help us eat something good, I imagine it'd be this guy."

'"KILL. THEM. ALL.

"Will you just stop and think about it? What's better; killing this Old Man right now, or using him to find even better things to kill? Because I'll make you a deal, if it makes you feel better. If this Monk can't help us find a nice snack we'll just do things your way, alright? But if you think about it - Him paying us with the blood of his enemies seems like a good consistent way to get what we want."

'". . . You don't have to talk out loud for me to understand you AND WHEN ARE THINGS GOING TO DIE?!'"

"Yeah." Arberus smiles, it's all teeth. "When are things going to die?"

---

Waiting for the Monk to respond. If he doesn't offer me a target that placates the Cup I'm going to order everyone under my servitude effect to body-block the other monks while leaving the old monk alone. I'll mad-tackle the Old-Monk and hopefully the other monks will be distracted/unwilling to kill the civilians that are body-blocking them. I'm not ordering the civilians to attack; just trying to put them into a position where the monks are going to have to kill them to get to me. Like a wall of meat.
>>
No. 913390 ID: 2007b6

>>912488
>>912704
>>913346
>Waiting for the Monk to respond. If he doesn't offer me a target that placates the Cup
If you're not yourself proposing a deal the False Grail is interested in, that clash of wills means you spend 1 wp (which puts you at 9/10) and gain one limit (which puts you at 4/10 thanks to Greater Curse) and your action - attempting to establish surprise/roll Join Debate prior to social combat - automatically botches.

Arberus spends several minutes rambling incoherently, getting into a loud argument with an outwardly unresponsive cup he's holding in his off-hand, and generally making it look like he's out of touch with reality to the point of being a danger to himself and others. The crowd finds this all clownishly amusing, and the spiked armor squeezably cute; monks take the opportunity to warn everyone that he's clearly possessed by something malevolent, and that civilians should stay back.

>rolled 7, 8, 1, 1, 8, 6
Social attack on the monks, enhanced with Stoke The Flame for 3m, a two-die stunt, and a +3 bonus from monologue-based aiming, also fails... mostly due to a -3 external penalty from conflict with the False Grail's Urge, and Arberus's total lack of expertise at public speaking, but the fact that the monks have decent Integrity and correspondingly solid Dodge MDVs could have also contributed. MDV penalty from relative Appearance is canceled out by bonuses from going against Motivation, since you're basically asking them to betray the very principles they've dedicated their lives to upholding. That would further mean, even if the social attack did succeed, they'd be forced to resist it even if they were out of willpower, unless they'd been psychologically broken by (willpower + essence) consecutive days of unrelenting misery and despair, or correspondingly nasty mental magic.

>rolled 5, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 6
That's another botch, on what should have been an easy Dex + Athletics roll to avoid tripping over some meaty root that heaved up the cobblestones while you were speaking. Arberus will be starting off the battle lying prone.

> I'm not ordering the civilians to attack;
Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai's Servitude effect drives them to give you what they think you really want, not necessarily to follow your exact tactical directions.

Since Arberus already mentioned out loud an interest in having everyone here collectively eat the elderly monk's face, that UMI is driving an angry mob to attack the monks with lethal force. Each of the color-coded second-coil monks has Arberus in front and teammates to either side, so there's room for two peasants to attack each of them from behind. Let's say one grappling, the other with a knife. Up to the monk in question which of those gets an automatic unexpected attack; the other can roll dexterity + stealth vs. the monk's wits + awareness, which is at a -2 internal penalty since they're distracted by the more obvious threat of Arberus himself.

Sifu is under attack by five peasants, but gets a +1 bonus to his wits + awareness rolls since he was watching the crowd and has enough applied theology to know that Anathema can subvert the weak-minded with alarming ease. He's also standing on a wooden crate (which happens to be full of individually wrapped cakes of soap) for a +1 high ground bonus to DV. Anyone trying to stick a knife in the old man's kidneys would be further hampered by an exceptional chain shirt enchanted with the Elemental Benediction of Earth (6L/4B soak, no mobility or fatigue) under his robes, plus natural soak bonuses from Five-Dragon Form and, when necessary, Five-Dragon Fortitude.
>>
No. 913446 ID: afdebc

--Past--
>"But the Neverborn never said anything about you, Lute. What, in fact, are you planning to do? You have heard my tale, and my goals. Do you wish to stand in my way, or are you going to bend as the willows do and aid my cause of retrieval? I assure you that I do not renege on a debt of gratitude, and my mercy shall be reserved for those who aid me."
"Well, my previous journey, investigation into piracy, and diplomatic mission have all been effectively put on hold with this unexpected sojourn hell-wards.

"For now, I would accompany you investigating this cult's activities, later I may seek to protect this exiled land by delivering it to the protection of a demon lord, rather than let it be wasted by the squabbling and warring of lesser demons over its bounty."

Morse obviously has no reason to care for this region, but she might be tempted by the rewards of a demon lord's favor. And as for Rivers, well, deals with the devil are part of the story of anathema, no?

>out to steal the heart from Embri
A thief, to steal from the Thief? Most amusing indeed!

Lute will decline to take sides in this conflict for now, as she has met the Lady Embri previously. She might perhaps be able to negotiate a compromise, if Morse is willing to consider such a resolution.

--Present--
>you ought to know what kinds of rot-resistant trees grow in this hellscape. Sources of pure, clean water
Lute raises one eyebrow and reminds Morse that hell is a vast and varied landscape, and it's not as if she has encyclopedic familiarity with all of it.

That said, the most readily accessible source of those materials is likely to be, well, here, in the banished area. Malfean plants are usually metal, and water is less common than dust or acid. The stuff of creation is rare and valuable in hell.

>"Besides, why would we pay him with people, that would just be awkward."
Not to mention logistically difficult, and almost certainly overpaying (given the rarity of mortals in hell), and a terrible waste of potential.

Lute will support River's proposal for bribing the creature (although I'm still waiting on the results of my roll to see if I can recognize what it is >>912549 which might factor into how we handle it).

Okay I really struggled with this one for whatever reason, and cheapen out not writing proper dialog for half of it, but at least we can move on now.
>>
No. 913886 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 10, 4, 8, 5, 7, 10, 10, 4, 2, 7, 9, 3, 4, 7, 3, 1, 4, 3, 5, 5, 2, 8, 10, 6, 8, 6, 4, 6, 3 = 169

>>913446
"As far as I can tell, the 'rot-resistant' explicitly requests we prepare him something suitable for water and food storage or construction." Morse shakes her head. "You wouldn't need rot-resistant wood if you were just making a table. He's not just trying to find something mortals would ascribe value to... hmm. I know you mentioned not having encyclopedic knowledge of Malfeas, but surely you must know what holds value in the eyes of demons. Perhaps we can sell him the soil of Creation, or maybe a few frogs from a nearby demense."

Morse plays them out all the way back to the town-- it's quite a trip for them, so she won't be making it back with her group anytime soon-- unless Lute or River has something to say about it.

"Earlier, you mentioned making a deal with... demons. Which demon in particular are we dealing with...? I typically don't go out of my way to summon in things that could make my mission a failure, let alone strong enough to lock me in a cage." Morse has read how these books go before-- you summon in a powerful demon, then you're getting kicked into the sun or come down with a case of demon worship. It almost never goes well for you-- otherwise, why would a demon bother to bargain with the idiot who summoned them knowing that they'd lose in the deal? If Morse were a demon, she'd get tired of being called in for petty things like plumbing and pickle jars rather quickly. "I see no reason why asking a demon to help us wouldn't end up with half of us on fire and the other half of us content with the fire we are now on."
>>
No. 913956 ID: 2007b6

>>913886
>rolled 5, 10, 4, 8, 5, 7, 10, 10, 4
I'm going to treat that as a Wits-based Academic Knowledge roll, to which your specialty is applicable (not that it actually mattered in this case). The Tome of Endless Night does mention, in the course of it's sweeping cosmic narrative, certain living creatures banished underground long before the first humans were created. This particular species is known to be native to the tunnels around the City of the Mountain Gateway, right on the other side of the Blackcrag Mountains from the Bishop's domain, which could easily be misconstrued as evidence that you're only a few hundred miles from home.

With six net successes, a comprehensive diagram of the Underpeople's entire domestic economy, mostly derived from first principles, coheres in Morse's mind in a single moment of blazing clarity. No roll will be needed for appropriate follow-up questions... so long as they're quick enough to be plausibly within the span of IC short-term memory, or you figure out some way to write it all down, and then still have those notes available for reference.

The violet-eyed underpeople want red jade as raw material with which to construct an industrial heat source, because air supply and smoke disposal for more conventional flames are a very serious problem with no routine access to the sky. They want water because it doesn't rain down there, and any natural watercourses would have long since either been tightly secured or become the subject of blood feuds, and defensive strategies probably depend heavily on control of choke points, so even a relatively small additional reserve might allow disproportionate strategic gains. Protein-rich food, likewise. Lumber, however, would almost certainly be primarily a prestige good, like gold foil and non-essence-conducting semiprecious stones are on the surface, or possibly a form of currency like the Guild uses silver. Trees don't grow in caves, so it would have to be imported, and down in the cold and damp, rot would be a constant concern no matter what it was being used for.

The one you're speaking with is not a demon (or at least, has shown no actual sign of being one; some sort of possession, or impersonation by, say, a Neomah or Gethin can't yet be ruled out, if you're feeling particularly paranoid), and does not seem to be aware of the surrounding region's transit to the Demon Realm, dismissing the associated omens (to the extent they were noticed at all) as a meteorological oddity relevant only to surface-dwellers.
>>
No. 914037 ID: fe298b

Arberus lies prone, tripped up by the plants and roots rupturing from the ground. He’s surrounded by five heroic-mortal monks which we're going to assume have combat stats comparable to elite soldiers, who are armed with, in clockwise order,

1) a two-handed axe (disciple of Hesiesh)
2) several fine-quality throwing knives with Lucky Rock enchantments (disciple of Mela)
3) a sledgehammer (disciple of Pasiap)
4) a target shield and cestus (disciple of Sextes Jylis; also carrying a longbow, not readied)
5) a seven-section staff (disciple of Danaa'd)

They are surrounded by at least ten peasants under thrall to Arberus, (more than ten, really, but that's as many as can make melee attacks at once).


There's also a fight between the senior monk, standing on a soapbox, and five (or more) peasants.

--
One doesn't get to be a second coil monk without years of vigorous training and hard work. The average folk tended to forget that each of them was a master among men at combat. So as the normal townsfolk under the influence of this vile Anathema tried to sneak up on the lower of the disciples of the dragons, they were in for a surprise.

The Deciple of Hesiesh, his rage burning hot as he fought to keep it under control, went into a low down stance, tearing his feet into the hard ground to give himself a better position to spring into action, creating just enough of a stumbling block that his knife wielding attacker ran the risk of tripping rather than landing true while he focused on the real battle ahead. (Join Battle Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Sextes Jylis steadied herself to see the compassion of the noble dragon free her attacker from the Anathema's clutches. (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Pasiap readied his rather large hammer in grim acceptance of the work he was about to have to undergo, and offered a prayer to heaven for the chance to engage in toil. (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Mela prepares her knives in a stance more perfect than the others, the result of training for a half dozen hours daily in combat to seek perfection, and a half dozen hours training in temperance, to remind herself that perfection is an internal goal, rather than external (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

And the Deciple of Daana'd braced herself for combat, reciting the holy scriptures in lieu of any arcane knowledge or essence to weave into spells, readying her staff as a reminder that she has to be the root of her growth, and there were no magical shortcuts (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Sifu was an old man, he had been an aide to the Wyld Hunt for almost half his life before retiring. He'd seen Anathema routed and slaughtered, but he had always been the one who seemed to hunt them. Now his chosen prey seemed to have him cornered and without any Exalted backup. And so, he prepared himself for one last fight, either to go down in history as a mortal who the Dragons blessed with the courage to slay an Anathema, or as a Martyr dying in Glorious battle. (Wits 3+Awareness 3, Willpower on Valor Channel, 9 dice before stunts)

--

Wasting no time Arberus rises with inhuman speed and leaps towards the Sifu, soaring above everyones heads and aiming to tackle the Old Monk and crush him to death.

Using Principle of Motion to Rise, Jump, Grapple, Clinch.

----

White. It was the color of the cap of the Imperial Manse, symbol of the unyielding earth weathering any amount of punishment hurled at it. And the color of the Sifu’s spear tip as the Anathema hurled towards him. He stabbed his Spear into a joint in between the Anathema’s leg and groin, stepping down from his box for a better angle and to be out of the direct path.

4 Dex, 5 Martial Arts, 3 Specialty, 2 accuracy, 1 stance, +3 Valor,

---

Arberus takes the spear full force to crotch and twists his body in the air, ripping the tip out of groin and spraying green mist instead of the expected crimson blood. Not done yet he smiles and grabs the spear tip as he falls, using it to pull himself to the Monk while still mid-air.

Using Bitter Heart Unbleeding x2 for 11 motes.
----

This act of invincibility shook the hearts of those around him. That blow could level a house and Arberus took it laughing. .All the Disciples engaged against Arberus were forced looked deep within themselves to resist the fear of fighting this seemingly immortal madman.
-----

The Sifu had seen countless demons, from marauding Fae, wayward gods, and Anathema far more skilled than this foolish upstart. He had no fear about this fool. (Valor 3+ Stunt Morale)

The deciple of Hesiesh had never had a chance to be in a real fight. He had been in street fights on the Blessed Isle before he joined the Immaculate Order, but even through all his training he still felt his blood boiling to a fever pitch and he felt more than a little pumped up. (Valor 4 + Stunt Morale)

The Deciple of Sextes Jylis felt sorrow more than anything at the threat of this Anathema, and her nature wouldn't let her back down, lest she fail the innocent people (Compassion 3 Morale Check)

The Deciple of Mela turned her thoughts inward. This was her chance to express her perfection, and on top of that be indulged in her vice should she manage to succeed (Conviction 3 Morale Check)

The Deciple of Pesiap however, turned outwards. He had to keep himself grounded, and remind himself that this troubling piece of hard work was his required penance for his life of gluttony before he turned his life to the dragons. (Conviction 3 Morale)

The Deciple of Dana'd had to explore this feeling, after all, she hadn't encountered much that could even shake her, so this had to be something supernatural, and it was her own progress if she learned about the roots of whatever caused this herself (Confiction 3 Morale)

----
Stepping out of the path of the Anathema was much easier than one would imagine. The Brute was strong, to be sure, but he lacked the skill or speed to stand up to even a Mortal who had trained under the chosen of the dragons. By the time that the demon came crashing into the soapbox, the Monk was already on the ground beside. (Knockdown Resistance 4 dex+0 Athletics/Resistance, hopefully 3 Dodge instead for the way it was stunted)

Arberus had no grace or fine tactics. He uses the spear to pull his body to the Monk, slamming them both onto the ground with incredible force.

"KILL. THEM. HURT. JUST EAT HIM ALREADY DO IT."'

"I AM! HAHAHEEHEH! Come on then, let's take a look at that knee! Remember, this YOUR FAU -" a pause in the madness. "I'm going to eat your face."

No art or finesses. Arberu just holds the old man in a bear hug and rolls around on the ground with him, slamming hard onto nearby building and dropping an already rickety built overhang on-top of them in the process. The way he looked at it, it didn't matter what came falling down so long as it hit the Monk first.

Needless to say he was making good at what he said and was munching down on the face the whole while. It wasn't very effective, but it was bloody. And very, very painful.

---

The old Sifu manages to resist, however, wedging his spear as best he can between Arberus and himself to avoid being impaled and mauled to death.

--

From a distance the Disciple of Mela pulls out a dagger with a bag of 8 devil screaming powder attached to it. She throws it at Arberus and although the dagger itself does not go through his armor (being helplessly deflected) the powder itself works it’s magic, enter Arberus through every crack in his armor.

This simply results in more screaming.

--

It’s at about this time that Malice finishes waiting for the perfect opportunity, still hidden, and snatches the axe-wielding monk's weapon as they wind up for a strike. Malice grabs the axe near the head with one claw, and around the monk's hand with prehensile tongue. With her other wing she chops the wrist, breaking the monk's grip and leaving him with a wet empty hand.
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