Game Thread Round 4 - oztk, quiksilv, zinrokh - Page 2 - RPG Crossing
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  #16  
Old 08-23-2019, 04:47 AM
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Tobias Lancaster Featuring Khelben Ishii
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"Pfft, teacher's pet"

Tobias turned slowly and stared at the Goblin who promptly acted as if he hadn't been the one to mock him. Then Ikol then launched into his answer of Cuculainen's question which was surprisingly sensible. As the Nilbog returned to his place by him and Berthe Tobias met his eyes and nodded once.

"Please don't encourage him." Khelebn warned, "I've met the insane like him before and they'll keep going for near forever." They were getting close. The Lich was counting the number of heads that still had to ask questions at the table and after this there would be fewer than half remaining. "Don't keep them waiting," he hissed at his host, "if they get bored they won't be as taken by what you say."

After a quick glance at Berthe to make sure the Dwarf wasn't about to go Tobias stood once again to address the adjudicators of their fates. "Unless you are writing a tragedy it seems that a well-liked rule breaker and a just king make poor choices for just about any story. Once again the culprit, and theme, of the poor circumstances behind our world's problems are in fact unjust rules. However," Tobias gave a little bow to Cuculainen, "you seem to have specifically tried to steer away from the portion of this story that is ruled by law and delve into the more complicated idea;" Tobias sighed briefly as if he couldn't believe he was thinking along the same lines as the insane jester, "free will."

The possessed Elf thought for a moment before continuing, "It seems to me that it would be easy for the Nine to intercede in everything. You certainly have the power and the means to have direct influence in nearly everything. So why wouldn't you?

I know that there was a time when I would have wished with everything I had that you had stopped me from entering a certain tomb a decade ago. Just a flick of one of your fingers could have kept my brother and I from entering the dark tunnels that led to his death and my...problems."
Khelben began to bristle but said nothing, yet. "Though meddling with my fate would have saved me lots of heartache there's no telling how different my life would be. I definitely would not be here. The events in that place made me the Elf I am today."

"Ill take that as a compliment, Tobias." Ishii remarked smugly. He often told Lancaster that the reason the young Elf had accomplished anything was by the Lich's experience and link to the arcane and it finally sounded like his host was getting the right idea. "You should have almost died ages ago." The undead mage smirked in Tobias' mind.

"Shut up, Khelben," Tobias said seemingly at random before smoothly transitioning back into his statements, "There were plenty of times I almost gave in to the presence inside of me. How many were likely to have died or been mutilated if that had happened? Of course the pertinent question is, could you have know all those years ago how I would have changed? I think the answer is, 'No'."

"So if we go back to your story, Master Bard," he addressed the old man, "You absolutely did right to let the situation play out. Killing the king before he killed the man might have brought about the same situation. Killing the Man before the incident would been impressive but it still could heave been the catalyst that sparked a rebellion to take away the kingship.

Perhaps the incident could have made the king realize his own shortcomings, de-crown himself and make the kingdom rulerless. Maybe the other kings see it working well and voluntarily abdicate their own thrones too."
Tobias shrugged as if to say 'it could happen' before continuing on, "Of course that would be so unlikely that I think saying 'it would never happen' is justified."

"What I think is that rules are important to maintain a functional society but, as we have already pointed out, an overabundance of rules actually makes society less functional and inhibits the ability of a person to be themselves. You could have arbitrated and ruled that the fighting ought not to happen instead of allowing the people who live in your protection to choose their own path but then the Nine would be the rulers of everything thus have eliminated their ability to choose their own path.

It's sad when people beneath you make poor choices but as Ikol stated earlier, if they don't make their own mistakes they'll never learn. I might argue that one of the number one rules in your big old book is to not remove a person's ability to choose their own paths and that by controlling which side of the war won might have might begin to share ground with mass-murderers. What is murder but the ultimate act of free-will removal on a large scale?"


"I can't help but feel like that was partially directed at me, Tobias." Khelben said with mock aggrievement, "I've told you before that some people just don't deserve to live. Some people are a drain on society, some impose their will cruelly over others, and well; some are just really annoying." Khelben directed their eyes towards the Nilbog but Tobias quickly pushed back and the mage didn't fight it. "Remember that just because I want to kill some who deserve it doesn't automatically make me a terrible being."

Khelben's tone was just a little indignant but Tobias didn't have the energy to try and argue with his inner voice right now. The Elf had literally never spoken so much one sitting before in his life and was feeling very tired as a result of it; that and because he'd offered most of his life and energy to the control of the Nine. Tobias sank back into his stool and rubbed his head again while waiting for the Dwarf to give her response.
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  #17  
Old 08-23-2019, 06:22 AM
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Berthe takes a standAfter her snap reaction to Strixís question, the otherís answers, Cuchlainenís song, gives Berthe time to think. That her imaginationís gone is still sinking in, still both loss and gain. The lute-strums that might once have set her soul ablaze in color twing-twang in black and what, far away, but hours writing a sonnet? Sheíd never have managed that before without getting distracted. And the work of writing it seems to have clarified her thoughts a bit.

"Uffda. Now thatís a tough-un." accompanied by a large sigh, rocking back and forth on her stool a bit. "Iíve got no experience in stuff of this scale, and itís tempting to say Iíd just let you all decide, and Iíd stick to my strengths, do the knives-in-the-ribs-in-the-dark bits." her mouth purses unpleasantly as she rushes past the words, as if they taste bad "But then Iím just a tool, right?"

"And I see where the elf and the goblin are coming from, arguing to do nothing, probably what Iíd have done before I made my sacrifice -- do I get that back, by the way? If I win this thing? Things are a bit boring without it, is allÖ" Berthe trails off as she catches up to her mouth, realizes what sheís said, wonders again if she even wants it back. But now that sheís confessing, asking awkward questions, might as well go whole hog "And honestly, when you took my imagination, you took my whole reason for being here. For a while now, Iíve just wanted to go home, back to my family. Do nothing. Been trying to say what you want to hear."

Bertheís gaze had slowly dropped here, from shame, but now she looks up at the judges more directly in the eyes.

"But they werenít nonsense, my answers. My babbling, my poem. All I want at this point is Freya and Magnus, but I got a real opportunity here to make the world better for Ďem, and I canít walk away from that. You gotta stand up for what you believe in. Might not always work, mind. Iíd guess rulingís a bit like being a parent, and Thor knows the number of times Iíve tried to tell Freya something just for her to turn around and do the exact opposite, just outta spite. But that doesnít mean you give up, just let your kids do whatever they please. And sometimes they do listen -- those Beardlings did jump off the rope, brave little things!"

"So. ĎA world where the low ride highí-- Iíd like that. Iíve been low, donít want Freya to know that. ĎA world without kingsí -- itíd have problems, sure, but the kings have had a turn, letís try something else. We should help that man. Try to do it peacefully, mind, give him advice, try to broker peaceful progress with the king. But Iíd have flown in there, saved him before he was executed. Supported and smoothed out the revolution. Tried to protect the fledgling republic against the neighbor kings. Put my thumbs on the scale for what I believe, where I could."

"Not sure itís right, not sure itíd help. But like my sonnet said, Ďless war, more musicí -- Iíd fight for that. To do so otherwise would be to leave the world an orphan."
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  #18  
Old 08-23-2019, 07:52 AM
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Kalas
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Kalas stands, floating over the lip of the table on a cloud, electricity cracking all around him. He waits for a few moments for all eyes to focus on him, then addresses the group, his thunderous words filling your ears.

"Power. That is why you have come here, and that is what one of you will have when this contest is over." he says in a booming voice.

"The power of the Nine is beyond anything your mortal minds can comprehend. The power to create and the power to destroy. Power over the mind, over the flesh and over your environment. Such power is not to be taken lightly." His hands move behind his back as he continues.

"And so my question is one that will tell me about yourself and how you would handle that power. I would ask that you donít patronize me by talking about morality or other metaphysical disposition, because trivialities like good, evil, law, and chaos are beneath me," he continues, making it clear he does not want a lecture on alignment.

"If any of us had the ability to go back in time and destroy a tyrant like Ogrim Foolsdoom we would do it in a heartbeat, because of the millions of innocent lives it would save. Such theoretical questions are a waste of time, however. Such a significant change in the timeline is beyond even the power of the gods.

While we cannot go back and right past wrongs, we can change the future. And so my question to you is this:

If you had the opportunity to kill a baby that had an 80% chance of growing up to be a mass murderer, would you do it? What if the chance was 50% instead? Tell me why, so that I may have a better understanding of who you are."
  #19  
Old 08-23-2019, 10:49 AM
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Ikol
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As Berthe finished up her rambling and sat down, Ikol stared wide-eyed at the judges and nodding in the dwarf's general direction to a mouthed a silent warning "Communist". Ikol was relieved when the next judge stepped up and took his mind off the Red Peril lerking two seats back...

Mr. Poor-Weather-forecast thundered out his question. This judge was all business, no fluff, straight to the point like a lightning bolt. Ikol respected that, the greatest challenge the nine had thrown at him thus far was testing his attention span.

"Well as a personal rule... I don't murder anyone younger than myself." Ikol stated thoughtfully "So regularly I draw the line at eleven year olds... apart from Fra'lak... he was eight and I was nine... but he came at me with a knife and a mean look on his face..." Ikol shook his head at the memory "anyhow, generally I avoid infanticide where possible."

"Now your proposition forces me to reconsider my previously indicated stance of non-interference in such matters. You see there's no telling what chain of events would be set about by his death... but on this occasion we know there's a good chance that the little one's gonna grow up to be a bit of a wrong'un" he paused stroking his chin in thought.

"Mass-murderer? well I mean the Feds define that as four or more... can I get a show of hands... anyone here killed less than four people in their lifetime?... nope, didn't think so... but if we're talking Ungrim Fudge-doom levels of genocide... well, that's a little different. Ikol conceded.

"Before we put the bronze staff to the swadling..." Ikol interceded acting out the murder with a couple of practice swings with his fool's sceptre "Have we considered other options... if we could get in there nine months earlier... well castrating the father would sit better with me... I'm not talking time travel here, but if we know the kid's coming... maybe stopping the father... you know... would be simpler... cut the problem off at the root as it were..."

Ikol held his hands behind his back and paced back a forth for a moment.

"If child murder is the only option... if we're hundred percent sure... do it... make it quick and painless though... like a meteor or carbon-monoxide. Once we get to ninety-nine percent, then it gets tricky... I mean if your job is to go out kill possible future serial-killers and tyrants it's pretty easy to wash your hands of the ninety-nine... but that one innocent... that blood's gonna stain" Ikol argued.

"Suppose the trickiest percentile is the fifty-fifty so..." Ikol withdrew a gold coin from his robes, tossed it into the air, deftly catching it and covering 1 = Heads, 2 = Tailsthe result with his other hand.

"Heads mean deads, tails we bails" he explained.

Ikol removed his hand to reveal the coin's face
Dice Coin toss:
D2 2
(2)

He looked up to meet Kalas' intense stormy glare, "looks like the little one safe from me."




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Last edited by Zinrokh; 08-23-2019 at 11:06 AM.
  #20  
Old 08-24-2019, 02:32 AM
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Tobias Lancaster Featuring Khelben Ishii
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"If you were to have asked me a month ago I might have given a different answer." Tobias began his reply while sitting pensively on his stool. Instead of sitting straight up now he leaned forward with his hand partially supporting his head and partially rubbing his jaw. "If that question were prompted in reference to a generally evil or pesty race like a goblin..." Tobias froze suddenly as he remembered his audience then stammered and tried to correct, "er, a kobold I would have said 'yes'. It'd be worth the risk of getting it wrong to potentially save many lives.

However, as I've become more enlightened in during these challenges I'm afraid I must say 'no' to every instance."


Khelben sighed as his host rambled on about saving lives but remained entirely out of view for now. It seemed likely the Nine would mostly agree with Tobias; while he doubted the Nine were as good intentioned as the Elf whose soul he shared they were nothing but a big group of non-participators. The odds that these men and women of the Square wanted someone who was going to kill dispassionately seemed unlikely. Even if they had been looking for someone who was willing to do their dirty work Tobias would not likely agree to it. The lich would in an instant, he had not been shy about culling the herd, so to speak, but Tobias never let him perform that boon to society anymore.

He missed it. Sometimes it felt like the only times he got to get any good killing in anymore was when a mark fought back. "No, let's take them alive," Khelben mocked Tobias' voice to himself and sighed. Well, with any luck if Lancaster was adopted to the Nine they'd use him like an apprentice and Khelben would get to do some of the dirty work after all. It'd be hard to resist a direct order from the Square even if it did go against one's 'morals'. The hand that Tobias wasn't using to support his chin slowly tightened, the leather of the glove creaking as it rubbed against itself.

"This goes back to free-will." Tobias didn't specifically notice the glove, he had other things going on in his head and so kept speaking; oblivious to the drama going on with his parasite. "Just like the last question. I wouldn't endorse preventative assassination to keep two kingdoms from quarreling and I certainly couldn't ok it for a kid that might become someone less savory in the future.

What if he made different choices and became a savior instead of a killer? A person's fate can change like that,"
Tobias made a motion to snap his fingers but found them clenched in a fist instead. He purposefully relaxed his fingers and snapped with his other hand instead. "I've learned that the hard way myself.

Does a person like that deserve to be watched? Of course? Should he be stopped before he goes off and murders a bunch of people?"
he shrugged, "maybe. Ideally he would be stopped once the weapon is in his hand and ready to drive it through his victim. Right at the moment his fate is solidified and he crosses the line to evil."

"Sometimes I feel like you have no respect for me at all, Tobias. Even after I shared all that history with you." Khelben sounded hurt but these kinds of quips at each other's expense were nothing new, regardless of how much more Tobias understood his Lich now. "Maybe I won't speak to you any more." He said feigning insult before realizing there were better ways to get under his host's skin, "Or maybe I'll not stop talking. I'll just keep talking forever. and ever. and ever."

As Ishii rambled on the hand that had supported Tobias' chin went to rub his brow instead to try and alleviate his growing headache. He had told the lich he'd try to make their arrangement work after Khelben's big words and, truthfully, Tobias still wasn't sure how serious he or the lich had been at that moment. The only thing he was sure on was that neither of them wanted to die.

This is a very long sentence but I'm not sure it's a run-on. Is it?While Tobias didn't regret the choice made in a delirious moment of weakness after the last trial he was in a better head space now than he had been right after being drained of his essence and so wasn't so confident he could cross that line again like he had with the knife that had only teased him with a chance to escape Khelben forever.

Further complicating matters was that now that his mind was a little clearer Tobias had been beginning to realize that despite how odious Khelben had been to him all this time the fact was that most of the good the fighter had managed to do was accomplished using the strength he had gotten from the Lich. By his own argument the Nine should have ended Khelben right before he had killed off his party the day he 'crossed the line' but here Khelben was now doing more good than evil; even if it was 'supervised'. If they had gotten rid of him then many of the people that Tobias had saved would now be dead.

The words were already out of his mouth and the Dwarf was taking her turn to speak so his turn was passed but Tobias couldn't help but wonder now if his verdict on preventative killing was too liberal. A perspective he hadn't thought possible after hearing the Goblin's take on 50-50 odds.

"Gods." Khelben interjected into Tobias' periphrastic monologue and ending his own torturous one, "you're such a baby."

"Shut up, Khelben," Not sure if this happens before or after your talk but it's available if you want to play off it Tobias sighed into his hand to find that the Lich had already gone silent allowing the fighter the opportunity to focus on Berthe's answer and, more importantly, the final question.
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  #21  
Old 08-24-2019, 08:08 AM
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Back to the bar
"If you had the opportunity to kill a baby that had an 80% chance of growing up to be a mass murderer, would you do it?"

The choice of a bar stool as her seat was proving more appropriate than Berthe could have guessed. How many times had Berthe heard some variant of this discussion play out? It started about two beers in -- enough to feel edgy, still sober enough to be pseudo-intellectual. The bros (It was always men. Always) were generally against baby-killing from a position of general discomfort, with one or two ubermensch wannabes, hiding behind some abstract philosophical principle. Such bull sessions was an occupational hazard for a brewer; she hadnít expected it would be for an adventurer. But there was a bit more on the line here, than a usual barroom discussion.

The goblin meandered on about irrelevancies as usual before well, Berthe couldnít control herself and mutters incredulously, a bit louder than intended "A coin? Youíd flip a damn coin?"

Toby. meanwhile, continued his obsession with free will (Something off with that boy) and then, as Berthe slips off the stool, runs her hands through her hair, takes a deep breath -- he mutters something Berthe can barely hear into his hands and she whirls on him. "Excuse me? What kind of playground tactic is this, name calling just as Iím about to speak? First, Hobb-, errrr Half- umm WHATEVER, now youíre telling me to shut-up and calling me Kelpie? Why do dwarves get no respect? I expect such nonsense from the goblin -- yeah, thatís right, I saw you mouthing ďcommon impĒ-- but from you? Honestly. Freya was better behaved by the time she was five. Now if you donít mindÖ"

Berthe twirls back to face the table, her cloak flaring out dramatically, and decides she needs a little more dignity and stature after the mind-games, and starts floating a few feet off the ground, before taking a deep, calming breath.

"AnywayÖIíd kill the baby. I already have. I left that poor pudgy Bifur to die, for the chance of saving more kobolds. Yeah, yeah." Berthe waves her hand, batting away imagined objections "I can hear you. ĎThat was different. The blubber wasnít a baby; I didnít kill the porker, I just didnít save him; fattie wasnít the one killing the koboldsí etc. etc."

"Irrelevancies. All of them. Same with the numbers, the percentages - all these details are beside the point."

"No, I've heard a million of these questions, and the point of them is accountability. Why do we feel worse about killing the baby then about letting it grow up to kill others? Because it's more clearly on us, thatís why. And the percentages - thereís always doubt, uncertainty. But you make a decision with the best information you've got; saying "we can't know for sure" is just trying to weasel out of responsibility. The coin!" Berthe turns to Ikol and snorts "I've never seen such a transparent attempt at avoiding accountability!"

"My mom...I donít know if you know about my mom, maybe you read that Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubertbook by Flaubert spilling all my family secrets? Well, she was a terrible mother, and so am I. Just like her I am -- I was -- always in my head, elsewhere, somewhere better. Just like her, my family wasnít enough for me. But when it came time to face up to her to her actions, admit her affairs, pay the debts she used to fund her lavish life, my mom...ran away. Killed herself rather than explain what she did. "

Bertheís voice is quavering a little, but sheís still flying high, chin up, forcing herself to meet the eyes of The Nine.

"I decided young that, whatever happened, whatever I did, that Iíd own it, face the consequences. And Iíve done the best I could -- I didnít just disappear on Magnus and Freya, I told them I was leaving, why I had to. I havenít been perfect -- I havenít told them about the potions, yet -- but Iím going to. When I get back." If I get back...

"Iíd kill the baby, and Iíd feel awful about it. It would haunt me. Every night I've thought about that beautiful big Beardling. I owe it to him; I could have saved him, and I didnít. I wonít hide from that. And once on The Nine, I wonít hide from the responsibility that comes with that power. Whether you use your power or not, youíre responsible for it, and Iíd face that. I wouldnít try to weasel out of doing what needed doing."

Berthe pauses for a second, as if done. But then her serious face melts into a wry smile and she canít help adding "I always was the one to tell Freya to go to bed, to say Ďno, you canít have one more cookieí, to punish her; Magnus was too soft." Shrug. "But itís part of the job."
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  #22  
Old 08-24-2019, 09:57 AM
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The Druid
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The Druid of The Coast

There is but one more question to come from the Nine before they deliberate and choose who will join their circle. The honor of this last question falls upon one who has been quiet up to this point. The Druid has been keeping careful notes through this whole process. Some of the fellow of the nine he clearly likes, others he seems to simply tolerate. For most of the Nine, he probably fell into that last category himself. "There are many things I would like to ask you. But, for the sake of time and fairness to all, I will stick with one. To properly frame this inquiry, I must share an anecdote first."

The Druid steps forward, and a sprout comes up from the ground behind him. It grows at an incredible pace, taking only a fraction of a second to spring offshoots, grow branches and leaves, and twist until it forms a comfortable looking chair. The Druid takes a seat in this newly grown chair before continuing on. "You will have to forgive me, bad back and all. Standing around all days really does a number on it, as I grow older." This statement may have seemed out of place, as The Druid, when not altering his shape, appeared young enough that he shouldn't be ailed by such physical conditions just yet. Perhaps something about his 'natural' lifestyle preserved a look of youth that betrayed his true age. "In any case, consider this. A terrible forest fire is at hand and completely consumes a small village. There is great death and destruction, as homes were burnt, some people and many animals and livestock were lost to the flames and smoke. Some would say it was the greatest tragedy this town had ever known. And yet, the fire itself was necessary. It is a part of the circle of life, as the flames cleared years of fallen debris, burned up invasive weeds and insects, and even provided the heat some of the tree's seed's needed to germinate. A few years after the fire, the forest is healthier and more abundant with life than it ever had been before. Even the town recovered and grew more prosperous. I don't tell this story for you to consider the morals of the fire, or starting one, but simply keep its impact in mind."

For a moment, The Druid adjusts his seat in the chair, as it is obvious his current position was not providing enough relief to his sore back. "Why did I tell this story? What is the purpose? Well, I won't leave you guessing. It is about Unity! You see, we as the Nine are all individuals. We all have different motivations, opinions, and goals that quite frankly oftentimes conflict with each other. And yet, we still work together as a cohesive unit. When a decision is made as a group, and a course of action is determined, we are unanimous in the execution and support of that decision. It doesn't matter if the individual thinks it is wrong or right by our own estimations or matches our objectives, talents and goals. Like the fire in the forest, sometimes these actions hurt, even personally. Yet, we all know their importance. It has to be that way, or else our organization would falter. A failure of the Nine would end in catastrophic results for our world, and simply cannot be permitted."

Again, The Druid pauses, this time not to shift his position in his chair, but to take a moment to gaze and size up each hopeful to join the circle. "I am not going to ask you to put yourself into a hypothetical situation and tell me what you would do. I believe that past behavior predicts the future. For my question, I want you to only discuss things you HAVE done. Tell me, all of us actually, about a time where, for the greater good, you had to put your own interest aside, and support a decision you did not agree with."
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  #23  
Old 08-24-2019, 09:43 PM
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Ikol
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The last judge, as with those before him, softballs another question to the tragic-hero contingent of the Three... that would be the other two... Ikol sighed... and then not attracting enough attention sighed once more loudly and more dramatically. The jester then scrambled to his feet.

"Firstly just for the record, the dwarfette accused me being an 'accountant' in her previous answer... such a statement is slanderous and false and I wish it stripped from the record"
he whipped about to face Bethe "That coin was my coin, not someone else's. I do not count money for others or need anyone to count for me... don't go trying to force your heteronormative patriarchal socio-economic systems upon me, thank you very much."

Well that's cleared up

"Back to the question. I'm sure she has a answer for you... a real smooth one... a tear-jerker" Ikol stated suddenly agitated. "Oh, I left my darling Fajita... ooooohhhh my mummy issues.... ooooooooooohhhhhh wherefore art thou Magnus... Oh me family... for the greater good" Ikol gave Bethe a look that said 'I know what your up to'. Returning his attention to judges he continues...

You got to take the fight to them now, Ikol. Like Granny used to say 'Crush your enemies, drive them before you and hear the lamentation of their lady folk'

"I left my family too. I don't even know how many kids I got... huh? What?" Ikol paused to converse with his own likeness upon the tip of his sceptre "Forty-seven, where'd you get that figure from?... you were counting?... eww! you were watching?... but that's just the females?... what about the dudes?... pfft I'm preternaturally virile... none of them?.... biology-smilology..." Ikol tore himself from his inane tangent "Well i'm going to put a sack over you next time" He cleared his throat before continuing "My point was, once again this question really doesn't lend itself to the culture or the experience of those of other ethnic backgrounds... I mean no offense but other than the dark lord there... it's pretty 'white' in here. This setting needs diversity quotas... give us 'so-called' monstrous races a chance.

"Goblins raise their children communally and we tend toward polyamory, so I'll be offering no heart renchers from that overused trope" Ikol smirked, withdrawing a potion of Giant's Strength from his vest "Nor do I have any substance abuse issues to share. My use of mushrooms is entirely spiritual and legal under Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances act." . Ikol than took a sip of his brew, before turning the bottle up and letting the contents slosh upon the stone floor.

Now where's that elf...

"Now this guy, he's got issues, trust me I know. 'Kelly' was it, your Nilbog's name?" Ikol threw the accusation at Tobias indicating him for the court "Maybe together they can contrive a little tale for you, have you nodding alonging with it... something entirely relatable... Oh I'm a good person... Oh how fate turned upon me... Oh my innocence corrupted by an older more knowledgeable man... oh but my goodness shall triumph... yadda-yadda-yadda... conclusion 'I did it at a cost... for the greater good'"

Ikol turned to Tobias suddenly his eyes feverish "You should be glad of your psychological parasite if it offers you any guidance" Ikol spun back pointing a clawed finger at an empty space between two judges "That! Is entirely UNHELPFUL! Those batari bastards have been dancing... clad in naught but their tiki masks for the last ten minutes..." At Ikol's anger the ghostly figures, (seemingly visible only to the jester), stopped their thrusting and gyrating, turned their masked faces to him and disappeared in puffs of smoke.

A further etheral goblin, had scrambled onto Tobias' chair and was peering into the elf's ear. "Boss, that ain't no Nilbog, that's some dark booyahg, he's carrying" it offered before Ikol dismissed him with a thought.

Ok, Ikol, maybe you should try and contrive an answer yourself now.

Oh, Hammersted. Tell them about Hammersted, you were a hero that day... sort of.

The Story of the Seige of the Human City of Hammersted
The goblin host had lain siege to the walled city of Hammersted for little over a month. Our encampments encircling the city, denying them supply and aid. Such tactics did not sit well with me; in all my long years – all 10 of them – I had never mastered patience.

I paced back and forth within my richly appointed pavilion, filled with the campaign's spoils. As always the host has set aside a fine dwelling for me. Such was the necessity of maintaining order amongst the goblins. A jester must be placated, least he turn to creating chaos and disorder amongst his own.

I grabbed a finely wrought goblet from the table, filling it with harsh goblin wine, swirling and giving it a nose.
he said as a sommelier might speak of a fine vintage. Then I grabbed a second goblet, the wine sloshing from the brim as I filled them.

"Master Oakenleaf, drink with me" I requested of halfling merchant how had been my keeping as my 'guest', "Let us toast, to... to... us?" I ended with a shrug of my shoulders.

The halfling took the proffered goblet, giving a worried look at its contents and wrinkling his nose at the pungent aroma somewhere between mushroom soup and sour wine. I turned from my captive draining my cup before tossing it over his shoulder to clatter upon the floor.

"Master Oakenleaf, do you care for riddles?" The halfling looked up but was cut short of an answer as Ikol continued. "Of course you do."

"Let me think now... of yes thats a good one Ikol"

"My tongue is red,
My hunger limitless as I spread,
I grow and grow until I'm quenched,
only when i'm really drenched,
I lick and eat all I can,
city, land, elf and man"

"What am I?" I finished spinning around to face the halfling suddenly, making the halfling drop his goblet. "Well?"

"A fire?" answered the halfling. A manic stare drained from my face replaced by thoughtfulness.

"Yes, yes, quite so... a fine idea Master Oakenleaf, thank you". I stalked over to a nearby desk, picked up a scroll and gently, almost reverently placed it into a candle flame, watching the end catch.

I approached a pile of spoils. My free hand stroked a priceless elven tapestry, taking in its strange beauty before touching the flaming scroll to its end and watching the fabric begin to burn. I spun about seeking other items - a wizard's tome, a pile of silken robes, the pillows and cushions upon his pallet - all were set ablaze.

As if waking from a trance, My mind returned to me, as the tent filled with smoke, my face lit by the flames. "Master Oakenleaf, it has been a pleasure, it is only fair you be given a chance at freedom". I withdrew a key from his belt. The halfling's eyes went wide with sudden hope. I took a step toward the cage before halting. "too easy..." I grabbed a chest from the side, the halfling knew only too well what it contained. He had observed my neurotic self reveling in his collection of keys, I always claimed each one held a "a mystery to be unlocked". I dropped the cage key into the chest, closed the lid and gave it a good shake, before tipping the contents onto the floor before the cage.

I gave a bow, before turning and skipping over to a table now half ablaze, picking up this sceptre and patting away the flames that had just begun to singe the edge of my satchel. With those belongings he skipped out of the tent humming cheerfully to myself to begin my travels throughout the world...


"You might ‘why’ I choose this story to tell you. Well... The siege of Hammersted failed that day. The forces of the city sallied forth against an army in disarray, as they fled or fought to save their burning encampment. The people of the city heaped praise upon their unlikely hero... A halfling merchant who had escaped his wicked goblin captor. He had set the blaze that had saved the city. A simple halfling merchant with mismatched eyes and an odd brass sceptre the head of which bore the likeness of hideous smiling goblin... that hero was me... amazing where a little makeup can get you." Ikol ended.

"Fire, loss, greater good, a hero even... and true story. I gave up everything that day, my people, my position, my life up to that point...I believe that meets the criteria of your question, your high Leafiness."

Well that's the best an incarnation of chaos might offer.



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Last edited by Zinrokh; 08-24-2019 at 10:29 PM.
  #24  
Old 08-25-2019, 05:41 AM
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Tobias Lancaster Featuring Khelben Ishii
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Tobias blanched and Khelben laughed (very nearly out loud) at Berthe's outburst. This was one of the reasons he didn't have any friends. At times it was hard for him to recall that he wasn't the only one who could hear his side of the conversations with his inner voice. Despite the fact that Ishii could 'hear' most of the thoughts in his head Tobias felt more satisfied and sane when he spoke aloud to his tormentor.

"I genuinely apologize, Madam Dwarf." he stammered, "I was talking to...myself and meant no disrespect to you."

"You know she's not likely to believe you. Just like all the others," Khelben grinned in his mind and Tobias had a hard time resisting the urge to tell the Lich to be quiet again.

"Kelly? Nilbog?" Tobias was confused for a moment. The Elf was not aware of the peculiar goblin variant and had to think about Kelly for a second before realizing the Goblin, like the Dwarf, simply hadn't heard the name 'Khelben' correctly. All in all it appeared the little creature was rather mad. Ikol seemed plagued as he was by inner voices but the jester made an interesting point to the fighter.

"Did you hear that, Tobias?" Khelben chuckled at him, "you should be thankful for me. Since I offer you guidance and help." The smugness in the Lich's presence was unmistakable.

Tobias winced, "I have no Nilbog, Master...Goblin." The Magus might have gone on resisting the attempt to make himself seem as unstable as he felt sometimes but the Goblin seemed to have other problems since it was currently yelling at empty air. For the first time he thought that he might actually be lucky to have a semi-helpful soul mixed in with his own. Could the years of their past have been more symbiotic than parasitic if he had truly appreciated the benefits rendered by the Lich Wizard? Even if it contrasted so heavily with his own psyche?

It might be a train of thought that merited more time than he currently had to devote to it. The druid posited his query and memories came to Tobias in a flash. He had managed to not think about this tale for a long while but now it seemed an appropriate time. Time to tear at old wounds and finish the challenges of the NIne.

After settling into his camp stool a little more Tobias began his tale with a sigh.
The one time...
 

Tobias took a long slow breath. "There. Hopefully that answers your question, my lords and ladies." Tobias bowed to those who would be judging his entry to the Nine and then nodded at the other two next to him. "I truly wish you the best of luck. And you," he pointed at the Goblin, "don't forget your promise of magnanimousness should you win."

"You mean after that sob story you're going to make me listen to you congratulate the opposition? Gag me with a spoon." Khelben pseudo-choked, "You know if you'd let me take over like I asked you wouldn't even have to remember killing her and bonus," he added with fervor, "I could have had the pleasure of killing something."

Tobias struggled with the urge to tell the Lich to 'Shut up' once again.

Ishii sighed. "Regardless, good luck to you, Tobias. Keep in mind I'll never forgive you if you lose and I might take a nap if you win. Neither of us wished for this arrangement but I guess the best we can do is make the best of it. Wouldn't you say so?" The Lich smirked.

A stunned Tobias stared into space. "Um...Thank you?" He knew their relationship had made many changes during these trials but he had never expected to hear anything even remotely supportive from the undead mage. Maybe this was the start of something new after all.
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:58 PM
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The endBiting her lip, clenching her fists, Berthe was just managing to keep herself from interrupting the goblin's mean-spirited attacks on her when the potion came out.

She clenched the legs of the stool in her fists and turned a bit pale as Ikol took a sip, but the sheer provocation of pouring it out onto the floor was too much. "NO! STOP!" As she attempted to rush over to stop him, her wrist caught in the stool leg, sending her tumbling to the floor.

Don’t cry, don’t give ‘em the satisfaction.

And though Berthe didn't cry, the goblin had succeeded in getting into her head. The equilibrium she had regained while laboring over her sonnet had evaporated. As Ikol told his tale she twitched antsily, her eyes returning again and again to the 'Drink Me' bottle she had pulled out to show The Lord High Commander Cockatiel. A cold sweat dripped from her as Tobias went on, and on, and on, and onand on. Berthe wished that she hadn't made her sacrifice, that she could lose herself in a daydream once more. But the end catches her off guard -- not that Ulla was the werewolf, that had been obvious -- but that Tobias, the soft lad who wouldn’t kill the mass-murderer-baby, could manage a mercy-killing.

And at last, it’s Berthe’s turn. The last question. The last answer. The end. After this, she’d either be a demigod, or able to go home to her family...if The Nine let her go.

left-aligned image
"Y’know, you almost got me" she’s managing, somehow, a cool conversational tone, staring at Ikol "Almost got me to switch stories. Have a great one -- 'Don't go in, please listen -- alright, alright, if everyone else wants to -- I *told* you it’s bound to be trapped, the whole place is Kobold construction' that’s right, more Stonecunning. But I couldn’t give you the satisfaction of putting me off my game."

Pasty faced, eyes flicking around the room and back to the bottle again and again -- Berthe did certainly not look on top of her game. But the words come, smooth, loud -- maybe a little too loud, a bit manic.

"But then it struck me - 'Unity'. Two tales of possession, of bodies twisted and minds warped, of being controlled by things beyond their power. Let’s make it three."

"I was, until my sacrifice, possessed by my fantasies, my daydreams, my wild imagination. I wouldn't be here if not for my possession." she looks at Ikol and Tobias in turn "Would you?"

"But I'm free now. And for a while I didn't even want the job anymore. Honestly, I mostly want to get back to my family. But I can't turn down the chance to make the world better for them. I certainly don't trust these two to do it. Ikol - well, the less said the better."

"And Tobias -- " She takes a few steps closer to the elf "Dear, that story was a cry for help if ever I heard one. Don’t do it, son. There’s always a way out. There was for my mom, there was for Ulla. There is for you."

"But my story, Druid. I’ll keep it short; you already know most of it. I’ve just left out one detail: Freya and Magnus...I left them -- tried to leave them -- long before I became an adventurer."

"Now I'd always had fantasies of being a hero, of being like Bulby, but they were just that. Fantasies. We all have them. Nothing to blow your life up over. But then when Freya was the same age that I was when my mom killed herself... something snapped. Like if I didn't leave then, right then, that was it: my life would never change. Work, soccer game, work, PTA meeting, work, cook dinner...over and over until I died."

"So I left. Just up and left, not a word to them, not a word to anybody. Third day on the road, and though I didn’t want to go back -- oh hells no -- I had to at least tell them, explain. Wasn’t right to just vanish. I sat down to write them a letter, got as far as the greeting before ... everything changed. I had to go back. My life might be hell, but two lives were going to be hell without me there."

"So there you go. Unity. Taking one for the team. Greater Good." She turns to Ikol "Got your tear-jerker. Hope you liked it."

Her story finished, something leaves Berthe. Her body hangs loose, her voice is quieter, calm. "Oh, and one more thing. When I got back home, and Magnus, bless his heart, only yelled for three hours. And when he finished yelling, he sat down, and that very first night drew up an agreement that when Freya was old enough to move out, I could try the whole adventuring thing for a while." Berthe shakes her head "I never deserved him."

"Part of that agreement was that I write home on the regular, always with the same greeting, the one that had made me come back. So..." Berthe digs her last sheet of paper out of her bag "If I don’t get the job and don't get to go home, if I've seen too much, well" she turns her back to The Nine, downs the 'Drink Me' potion, and starts to write. "Just get them this letter, would you?"

And maybe it's just the potion, maybe it’s something deeper, but for the first time since Berthe’s sacrifice the world feels alive again.

Dearest Magnus and Darling Berthe,
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Last edited by oztk; 08-25-2019 at 09:04 PM.
  #26  
Old 08-26-2019, 08:19 AM
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The seven representatives of The Nine follow the stories closely. Some nod encouragingly, some scowl and mutter. Some sit in rapt attention, others appear to be impatient, while others betray no response at all. Finally the last tale ends.

Berthe drinks a potion. As if reflecting her thoughts of her children, she shrinks to little over a foot tall. The Druid, bemused and amused, accepts the letter she offers, held high above her head.

The throne in the center rises up again. Rostamoinen says, "Thank you for your answers. They were... interesting. We have much to discuss. You'll excuse us, if we ask for some privacy." His throne descends, and with a wave of his hand, a glimmering dome of energy encloses the table. No sound passes through, but the aspirants can see the debate raging inside. Kokobiel Strix pounds the table in anger, and Mifflewerf Fettlegrew laughs at inopportune moments. Cuchulainen scowls and spits on the floor at least once per speaker.

After seeming ages, Rostamoinen raises his hand, and the other six cease their arguing. He says a few words, and all other six nod, with varying levels of enthusiasm. With a wave of his hand, the shimmering wall falls away. His throne turns to the adventurers.

"We have come to an agreement..."
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