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  #61  
Old Dec 5th, 2020, 12:26 PM
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Dealing with the DevilThe imp lays down a platter, summons and fills your glass, and places a napkin in your hand. The food is amazing. The wine is heavenly. It reminds you of what you have eaten and drunk in the Feywild. In fact, with cat stepping into mirrors, Levistus throwing rainbow glitter, and Dandelion sporting rather devilish faces and behaviors, the line between fey and fiend is... kinda blurry. I mean, what's really the difference?

Jerry takes a deep breath in. "The difference between the Pact Certain and the Pact Insidious is substantive." It's hard to listen to Jerry because you keep remembering that Jerry is actually an enormous insect wearing a powerful glamour. But yes. Pacts. "A Pact Insidious is more specifically contractual by items, with boons defined and responsibilities listed. A tit for tat."

"Very limiting," says Levistus, who has lit a cigarette. "So picky-picky."

"A Pact Certain is more of a binding of trajectories, with each side trusting the other to follow the intention of the pact, with boons from the patron and responsibilities of the warlock loose and undefined."

"Much more interesting," says Levistus. "Much less paperwork. No checklists."

"When the terms of the Pact Insidious are satisfied, both parties are released from the Contract, the warlock's powers are reversed, and her soul is free."

Levistus traces a tear down his cheek with one perfectly manicured finger.

"The Pact Certain is fully satisfied only on circumstances of the warlock's death, at which point the soul is forfeit, and belongs--"

"Now hold on," Levistus interrupts. He puts his cigarette down without looking and the helpful imp slides a glass ashtray under it at the last second. "This is assuming certain things -- one that you die. Maybe you don't! Second this sonorous phrase 'the soul is forfeit' -- well what does that mean? Let's examine. Should you die (and you may not) you wouldn't be thrown in some kind of pestilent pit of lemures, or pronged by a pit devil for all time. You would be a princess, in hell, should you retire from the mortal plane, a princess!"

"Well," says Jerry pedantically. "That's all part of the negotiation process."

Levistus shushes him. "You want to nickel and dime it, baby, we can play with nickels and dimes. Dog gets a collar. You keep your Zhent. Maybe I'll throw in a new head for your cleric. You can visit Dandelion every so often. Couple of potions and you nuke the Spider, eff up a few more minotaurs, I fade away, you fade away until I need you the next time. We make a new pact and put a lot of ink on paper, couple more potions, maybe you've got another dead friend, you want a couple more toys."

Jerry inhales, shuffles the papers, and begins to drone: "Well of course, I recommend Pact Insidious, if you don't want to spend eternity in hell. Now. If you make a list of your requested boons, just here, we can--"

"OR," Levistus interrupts, "We join forces. Take my hand. You and me. Partners in trust. Pact Certain. And then the real boons open up. Imagine -- what's the next evolution of our lovable Ripper? What if we could bring back Halia with no memory of her death? You want imps to attend your beloved Nan? We could make them invisible -- so she'll never know why she stopped dropping her glasses all the time... need I offer more?"

Jerry looks at you drily and raises his eyebrows. "The answer to that is yes, if you're wondering," he says hopelessly.

Last edited by lostcheerio; Dec 5th, 2020 at 12:27 PM.
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  #62  
Old Dec 5th, 2020, 02:24 PM
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She actually is a good enough to actor to believe that she is calm, drinking exceptional wine, at this elegant table. She thinks: He will not let me die here. If I say no, I still walk, so he can try again. He plays a long, long game.

He won’t actively kill her dog or friends, today, though he could take the collar. Ripper would revert. Fine. She likes her dog, in any form. She believes they got away. Nell came after her. If he actively kills them, she will find a way to hate him more than she hates Vyerith. Infinity plus three. He doesn’t want that.

But the sticking point is Halia. All he has to do is nothing, and he owes her knows nothing, and then, Halia died for her. Because of her and her clever coin. That's a true thing that will be always true. She can’t live with that. So she is likely going to take some kind of---

Then he offers to fix Anya.

Stay out of my forking cleric's head!Words pour out of her, like Hellish Rebuke, deep and angry, but in her voice, not his. Custodi me de manibus vestris te sexus clerici caput!

She realizes almost instantly who she’s yelling at. What she is yelling at. The rage. The spark so blue in the endless ice. She is not calm, she was never calm, and her inherent grace leaves her. She knocks her wine over, ruining some blank pages, the food, and she is standing with her chair tipped, already five feet away from him. Her hand is at her mouth and she feels her cheeks are wet. When did she start crying?

She walks in little circles, muttering, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. She looks to him. He hasn’t smote her, so maybe all the Prices kick and fuss. Teenage rebellion. She says, quietly, Anya won’t forgive it, if I trade the eternal of piece of me for her. She would have a hard enough time with this as it stands. She would want me to trust that Torm will do it in his time.

And he is maybe smiling now, because if she’s talking about details, and she is, he knows he has her on his hook.

It is a slight relief that he has fundamentally misunderstood something about her. So. He can’t see through all her layers. Just most. She says, to make things clear between them, I don’t want Halia to forget. I mean, if she’s ---if she’s in Hell, the, the, the lemures and the prong devils or whatever, maybe soften that? A lot. No one wants a sad, sorry, shaken Halia, under the bed, repenting, seeking therapy and doing good works. I want back the cool-eyed assassin who stands up and takes a shot at Erinyes.

This isn’t romance, for all her father called Halia her Zhent. Fidelity and love and the inevitable, attendant coziness and domesticity don’t really interest her. She’s interested in loyalty. Like him.

Irritating, chilly, always dismissive, sand-on-her-skin Halia has won hers today, unreservedly. She’s literally trading her soul here. So she wants Halia to intuit, when she sees Fioravanti slinging Eldritch blast, exactly how Fioravanti answered her sacrifice. Halia may be Zhent4Life, but Fioravanti is pretty sure that remembering? Will make her Fioravanti’s creature first. She needs that loyalty, because Halia has hers, and she’s not into unrequited.

To let Halia remember is to forge a kind of hell-pact between the two of them, though only time will tell if it is certain or infernal. Thinking this, she sees how deeply his she is. It shames and shudders her. She turns away from the understanding in his eyes. It probably amuses him.

I need to think. She paces in circles around Nell. Jerry wants her to take Insidious, but Jerry is a bug.

Perhaps Insidious is worse for her, because she is BAD, very bad at details and ticky-tocky boxes. If he owns her and not her actions---well. Does he know what he is getting?

She says to Jerry, There are things I simply will not do. I’m an unrepentant killer and an agent of chaos, but I will not be a murderer. I mean, unless we’re counting Elmer Barthan. She feels absolutely fine with what she did to Barthen. A++++ gacking, would gack again. But that’s her moral ground zero.

Maybe she should walk. Take her chances. She already rebelled, left, refused the Price’s path. She could do it again. She ran off to find literally the most uptight and virtuous Torm-crafted companion on all the planes to march around with, definitively killing evil, hating Spiders---and then it hits her.

Was her rebellion never a rebellion at all, but the exact path he needed for her take? Tymora! Her love of goodness, the fact that she finds earnesty and kindness to be so endearing---perhaps this makes her the daughter he needs, this generation?

Deposed, he said. Do you mean to set me on a path after all that belongs to Geryon? Oh. Yes. She feels perfectly crafted for that, and if that's so? There was never a way out, no matter how cool and independent she felt herself to be. PRICE, PAH! I DO WHAT I WANT! Hilarious, from where she stands now.

Her own smallness in the great machine of generations of Prices feels so very, very small. She can feel the chains of a destiny tighten around her; her will is nothing. She is nothing, for all his pretty, petting words.

What do I want? For you to know and respect my limits. Halia back, remembering, but the same. And, ugh dammit, maybe you step in if it ever becomes dire with Anya. But it’s subtle, so she never knows. No, to Nan. No house imps. No little eyes. She’s fine. Yes, to Ripper. He and Marigold escaped, I am assuming, and if that’s wrong, you fix that, too. You don’t block any path I find to immortality, in any way. (Yes, she is thinking of the Geode. And the Fey. He is actually right, she might not die. Shshe is 19 lole always sort of felt that to be true!) You are never an active or causal agent in my death.

She has heard that it is better to be a shoe shine girl in Lathander’s bright palace than to rule in a hell, but it was always said by mealy mouthed dull sorts who couldn’t hold their liquor.

Hells, yes, I want to be a princess, and I want to know what that looks like, and if any of mine find their way to Baatar when they kick it, then they come to my court. No lemures for my beloveds. Though she doubts she will see any of her friends there. Well. Maybe Halia.

I want a copy of the contract, and no Monkey’s Paw BS. If we ever end up in court, Jerry and Anya defend me, and you make sure she has a path to get there.

She looks long and hard at Fell Nell. And yeah, I really want that axe.

She turns to the Bug. Jerry. What am I forgetting?

 

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Old Dec 5th, 2020, 03:32 PM
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Dealing with the DevilJerry sighs and shuffles papers. "So, it sounds like we're looking at a Pact Insidious here, very nice choice." He chews meditatively on the quill he's been using to write down your notes.

"Looking at your list of requested boons, let me make sure I got this straight okay? We are looking for---" Jerry raises his droopy lids in emphasis "---absolute clarity ok? That's best. Absolute clarity."

Levistus leans in, listening obediently. He is, you recognize, lawful. Very lawful.

"Boons requested:" says Jerry.
"Number one you want him to not be in your cleric's head. Might need some clarification on that one, what you mean by in, what you mean by head, what you mean by he, what you mean by be, who you mean by cleric.
Number two you want your Zhent raised but not mind-wiped.
Number three you do want him in your cleric's head, but only if it is 'dire.' Need to qualify dire.
Number four -- this is the item related to the dog, need to clarify what you want.
Number five you want a hell visit, to investigate your options in terms of princesshood, and the possibility of your own infernal court, minions, etc.
Number six you want to put an axe to Fell Nell.
Okay? Did I get that all?

Now your responsibilities:
Number one you agree to destroy an unlimited and unspecified amount of evil-aligned, neutral-aligned, but not good-aligned entities.

And your prohibitions:
As aforementioned murder of good-aligned entities
Imps in the house of Nan
That the infernal party block or otherwise inhibit your path to immortality via other means
That the infernal party cause or allow your death -- this is a little bit murky, we need some clarity here for sure.

You want a copy, court trial, yadda yadda--"


Levistus holds up a hand and Jerry goes silent.

"You want to know what I want you to do? I'll tell you. I want to get out of this F****** PRISON." When he says this the temperature drops to the point that the next breath you take is pure frost. The world shakes and rattles Jerry's glamour ripples and you see a black carapace for a second. The wine glass in Levistus' hand breaks into 1000 shards that then go zeroing in on Jerry's face. He sneezes.

Levistus brushes down his lapels. Breathes in his nose out his mouth. Looks down at his hands. "Step one," he says in a very controlled voice. "Destroy Geryon, the USURPER WHO RULES STYGIA BY THE FALSE PERMISSION OF THE DOG ASMODEUS AND THE IDIOTIC NEGLIGENCE OF HIS B**** ZARIEL."

More shattering, more frost, more controlled breathing. He looks up, his eyes swirling back to blue.

"Step two, profit." He shakes a little, you realize, that's laughter.

"Now my girl, let me share two facts with you. Fact #1: You have been scryed upon, quite mercilessly, by the Spider, for days. Sending Anya away, her fervent Torminess repelled Geryon's cleric's scry.Something happened, some weakness, some moment of lax attention, that made it possible. I can give you a thingy that stops that. Fact #2: I think I just have to say one word here and that is: Wings."

He motions to Fell Nell. "You can pick your color."


Last edited by lostcheerio; Dec 6th, 2020 at 06:33 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2020, 05:27 PM
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Jerry. I love that you are helping me with this.

Wings.

I appreciate it. But I am just not an attention to detail person. She touches his shoulder. A mistake, if this is glamour, because, yeah. That’s a bug.

WINGS.

I am saying all these very specific items not for you to codify them exactly, but to try to get you and the Ca--- the---- my--- This devil here. Levistus. To understand the spirit of the deal that I would sign.

WIIIIINGS

Not the letter of law, which interests the---he---my father more than it does me.

WINGS WINGS WINGS. Where do they go, when you are sleeping? She will need a Vallos tailor for sure. How tight do they FOLD? Do they DISAPPEAR? Or are they always present, nestled and rustling?

I am a big picture type, I think we are looking, if we are really going to do this thing, at something Certain. But I want the contract to reflect the spirit of these details I’m providing. She really calmer now. Avarice is relaxing, really.

THEY SHOULD BE BLACK DEAD DEEP BLACK LIKE HER HORNS BUT WITH A SHEEN LIKE OIL THAT SHOWS EVERY SHADE OF PURPLE IN SUNLIGHT AND MAYBE OTHER SURPRISING COLORS IN OTHER LIGHTS.

I say these quite specific things, to both of you, to get a TONE set, yes? Life is short, death is long. I won’t trade a lovely minute for eternal agony.

Wingswingswinsgwingswingswingswingswingswinsgwings wingswings

She turns to her father. Now, you have said specific things back, and that tone must be fully present as well.. I hear what you want, and I am willing to walk toward it, knives out. You want out. Of that----ice. You want Geryon deposed and otherwise ruined. Can he be killed? Is that a thing? You want your kingdom restored. All that sounds---I mean. A war on a Hell is very much in my aspirational wheelhouse.

Jerry? Is that a thing that you can Draft? Dispense with details, and get the TONE exactly, perfectly specifically right?

I do have questions. The scrying – how close was it? Do they know my plan? Do I need to rethink? Have they found my testosterone party up by the entrance?

And how does one become a Warlock? Would I need to train? Is it ---immediate or? How does it work.

Also, yes. Wings seem nice. I would like wings.
Very casual. She would not trade her soul for wings, but she might trade someone else’s...

 

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  #65  
Old Dec 5th, 2020, 06:09 PM
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To be Clear: You Are Making A Deal with the DevilJerry sighs an acre of fiendish air.

"So, you do want Pact Certain." He uses his thumb to tediously start erasing notes on a piece of parchment, leaning over the desk. Scritch, scritch, scritch...

"The scrying. Yes! Good question! I have an idea!" Levistus says. He flourishes one elegant arm and sends everything on the desk fluttering to the ground in an inky pile. Jerry lets out a small sob.

"Step 1: Stop the Scrying! Step 2: A better disguise!" Levistus extends his hand and POOF in his hand appears two potion bottles.

"Here we have two potions of Polymorph. Infinitely better disguise. With this, and stopping the scrying, you're in like Flynn. Plan is a go."

POOF another potion appears. "Forgot you had a dog."

POOF another potion. "And a dwarf."

He leans over and sets the potions on the desk in a perfect little row. Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink. All facing forward. All corks uniformly inserted.

"Can he be killed, you want to know. Well, killed? Perhaps not. Locked for centuries in an infinite block of... snot? glue? acid? Head shoved neck deep in a horse a**? Something like that, entirely arrangeable. I get my girl back THAT DAMN GORGEOUS B**** ZARIEL, I get my throne back, Stygia is mine -- ours -- and he has to send his trash avatar to go beg scraps from the king, or slither the far realms, or inspire cultists in low level quests."

He puts his feet up on the desk. Boots. Sensible. No hoofs. No tail.

"Now let's talk about the fun stuff. Wings. Warlocks. Becoming a Warlock is as easy as making the pact. We shake hands, we're good. Wings are a little more complicated. For now, you manifest the wings on demand, once a day, for ten minutes or something like that. As you get stronger, learn more, advance in your training, you get them more often, and longer. When they're gone, they're gone. When they're there, they just... appear."

WHOOSH! An absolutely majestic set of black wings explode out of his back and extend up into the trees. They're strong and broad and black as night, and beautiful. He gives Jerry a side-eye. He gives Nell a side-eye. And then FWWWOP he puts them back and they are gone.

Last edited by lostcheerio; Dec 6th, 2020 at 06:34 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2020, 07:48 PM
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Her father is smart. And genuinely terrible. And winged and beautiful and evil. He knows how to work on her; she is willing to be worked on.

She is calm now, interested and engaged and almost...excited? Not crying and trembling yelling in infernal and spilling wine. She asks for a new glass, and gets it. She asks for a cigarette and gets it. She asks for wings, and yeah. There is a pattern here. A pattern she likes.

She tells herself, she was already going to do it. There is no stopping her from doing it. Dead Halia is a trump card. There is not a single road she sees in which she wouldn’t do it.

But he has moved the focus to presents, and her being special, with a special job, and wings. Her dog---the excitement of his unfolding into MORE. Marigold safe. Fell Nell's head. It’s not like she forgets that this is desperation, and a bitter thing, and a loss, and a terror. It’s just...he makes it all so much easier to swallow. She thinks of CouCou’s warlock, so loyal, so devoted. SO IN A HELL NOW. And yet – her father seems to have never stopped with the seduction of this minor warlock, who never even saw the Cat. Only the small-sample ubiquitous waif. This is testimony, and he sent that old man to be testimony; her damnation will not be entirely unpleasant.

She waits to see if poor old Jerry comes up with a contract that truly catches the spirit of the thing. A contract in which:

Her father wants her to go on an extended war on a Hell, to work all her life to free him, help him get his girlfriend back, to submerge his greatest enemy in some kind of vile bodily effluvium. It will likely cost her life, and the sooner it kills her and the less she achieves, the less pleasant her eternity will be. The closer she gets, the more she manages for him, the more power he will have to make her eternity delightful, which he will do.

She wants to NOT die now (or ever, frankly, which he will not oppose), not get her friends killed, not do evil, actively kill evil (with the wide-eyed, bitter understanding that her actions to kill one evil are all to simply supplant it with another), have fun times and pleasures and shiny things, and, at a minimum, not be tortured nor have any Hellsbound allies tortured for all eternity when (If? IF!) she dies.

On top of that, the spirit of the thing promises a certain amount of indulgence and patience on both sides.
He is law and she is chaos. He is vile, purely self-interested and manipulative, she is basically good. (Though TBH, self-indulgent and also manipulative.)

Also? It has only just occurred to her: HE PICKED OUT NAN. To shape her in these ways. Nan was his unwitting chisel, used to form her. And yet? The world is full of terrible chisels. He picked this best, dearest one for her. So. There is that.

While they wait, she asks him for the SCRYING STOPPER! What is it, and AN AXE, and oh! Where are her sisters. Or aunts. She is only 19. Surely one is 40 or 50, one 100 or so, one ought to be an elder. Her kind can live a century and a half. Are they alllllllll dead? In a hell? Whose? HOW IS THAT GOING FOR THEM?

These are valid questions.

No matter his answers, if Jerry comes up with a contract that is as specified above, she is absolutely going to sign.

What choice does she have, considering that she is her specific self? Exactly as he formed her.

 

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Old Dec 6th, 2020, 06:58 PM
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The Deal is DoneLevistus swirls his hand and it all disappears: Jerry, the papers, the desk, the forest, the world.

It's just you there with him, on the frozen plain, next to the wall of ice. In his hand, he holds a sparkling gem on an invisible chain. It's clear, with flashes of blue and white. The most pure diamond, cold as ice.

"Now we understand each other perfectly," he says. He clasps the chain around your neck, looking at you with such explosive pride you feel the reverberations of everything you ever wished to see in the faces of your stupid mortal parents, distilled into those crystal blue eyes. As he's putting it on he flips his finger under the Harpers pendant and says: "This is cute. You should keep this. It works."

"We won't be able to meet again like this. I won't be able to reach you without the cat or the waif as intermediaries. These are just echoes of me. My prison forbids it. I am ten miles deep in it that way." He points to the glow. "And it freezes me. But know that you are mine now. Mine as long as you live, and mine thereafter. My will is your will. My life is your life. And darling girl, your will is mine. My life is yours. This is the pact."

He closes his hand over yours and you feel the frigid gem on your sternum, cold enough to pierce your heart.

"You'll cast your spells from this now," he says. "You can crush that stupid flute or give it back to whoever gave it to you. Your power flows through this from me. It is a gift from me to you, and therefore from you to me. You may call on me any time, for any reason, and if it is possible for me to come to you, I will. And now to seal the deal---"

He waves his hand again and the forest comes back. Still frozen. Nell still standing there with her elbows out, her eyes keen on searching out that dumb bard that was hiding under a rock. The devil holds a huge axe, very simple and sharp. No decorations, no ornaments, just a straight stick and a massive silver blade.

"I wish I could make everything this easy for you. But we can take this chance to end this here and now. A massive blow to your enemies. Instant renown."

He hands you the axe.

"Do it," he says.
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Old Dec 6th, 2020, 07:35 PM
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It’s done, and she is no longer her own. She signed nothing. She has no copy. No clear terms. Just a mood, an intention. A vow that only he spoke. At least it sounded reciprocal.

She does not want to accept his proud look, or even accept acceptance from this source. but Tymora, she is so hungry for it. She touches the gem. It chills her fingers. All gods, he is truly, truly evil. But she is his child. And he is her father and her patron. Family. What are you going to do?

Something in her stretches and basks in this wholly new thing. Parental approval.

And, hey! Maybe she won’t die.

She looks at the Erinyes.

Not today anyway. Not to this. Maybe not ever.

Does she have my matching sending stone on her? she asks her father.

If so, she will take it before she does the grisly part. No need to get it bloody. And she wants it, badly. Nan is coming to Alfriston. If she must be about her father’s business---oh, and now she must, for all that she was after Spider anyway--- she needs to have a way to know, should trouble come to her small village after her Nan is installed.

She stares into the frozen eyes. They do not move. She wonders if Fell Nell can see her as she lifts the axe, shoulders it, considers the angles. She doesn't want to be in the arrow's path, and yet she wants to do it with one blow. Tidy-like. A clean cut.

She is not an axe person. She is a little knife person. But this feels light and ready in her hands. A simple, bestial thing with a single job.

She choosees her spot. Squares her hips. The axe swings. It’s so tidy, with time turned off. No arterial blood to spray her outfit, ruin her hair. The head stays right where it was before. Just unconnected.

She twines her fingers in the red hair, gathering it, and jerks the head down. It's hard, dragging it out of time, but just at first. Then it is hers, as loose in the frozen afternoon as she is, swinging freely from the gathered hair. The frozen body hangs.

She isn’t going to keep it. She isn’t a sicko. Just...it’s a gift.

She look sat the devil and tries to smile, but finds it is not an effort. Tymora, but she’s a sucker, and a soulless one, grinning at her manipulator like it’s her wedding day and he is come to walk her where she must go next. Now she can't stop smiling. She is an optimist, at heart. This whole thing? Probably a very good idea, really.

Thanks, Da.


 

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Old Dec 6th, 2020, 08:13 PM
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And Then After Her Soul Was GoneAs soon as you say, "Thanks, Da" time WHUMPS back into forward motion. Everything is loud. Birds and breeze and Fell Nell dropping dead on the ground. Your fiendish father's face disappears in a puff of affirmation, his words echoing in your head: "Be strong to the end. When you feel yourself hesitate, remember who your father is." And then he's gone.

You drag in breaths of fresh air, feeling like you've been holding your breath for an hour, feeling freer and better than you have felt maybe ever. Feeling powerful. The head swings from your hand, and you turn to run and find Marigold, Ripper, see if Halia is alive. There, as you turn, in the middle of the clearing behind you, is a large box tied with a big blue bow.

You tear it open.

Inside you find: A Ring of Mind Shieldingring. Four potion Polymorphbottles. A Cloak of Elvenkindcloak.

You remember to check Nell's corpse. Here's what she has: The other side of your sending stone. Very distinctive devilish black plate mail. A very distinctive devilish black longbow and sword.

Last edited by lostcheerio; Dec 6th, 2020 at 08:15 PM.
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Old Dec 6th, 2020, 08:33 PM
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She takes it all. She wishes she could wear plate, because ... Damn.

She hopes those scryers see the HEAD. She turns with it, 360, giving them a

big. fat. look.

at their pet Erinyes. Or a chunk of her, anyway. Instant renown, indeed, Da.

Then she smiles and lofts a vehement middle finger, giving them a good look at that, too, as she theatrically puts the ring on.

Scry me now, Spider-Forking Cleric-of-Hell! she thinks.

Well, he can, for an hour. Dammit. She begins attuning. And then she runs, the head jauntily a-swing, in the direction of Alfriston, looking for her friends. STEALTH 22She is quiet, quiet, quiet. Because the scryers can still see her, and they could be reporting to Vyerith and Pins.

A LOT HAS HAPPENED. But she has not forgotten Vyerith. Not for a second.

She heads back the way she came, calling, MARIGOLD, MARIGOLD! via Amulet. Her dog and the Halfling must think that she is dead! She has to get to them, especially poor Rips!

And Halia. No res item in the package. She hurries, super quiet, to see if her soul, handed over in the spirit of the thing--- no codicils, no paper, no Jerry, no stipulations---has re-purchased Halia’s life.

 

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Old Dec 7th, 2020, 08:20 PM
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Halia is Fine!You run, very stealthy, toward where you saw Halia fall. You have presents to distribute! The potions, the cloak, the news that their team leader is now on handshake terms with an archdevil! But all of that wonderment is going to be ashes in your mouth if Halia isn't up and stalking around. Well, she's not up.

You see through the trees that she's sitting on the ground, legs crossed, head in hands. Marigold and Ripper are nearby but kind of off to the side, and as you approach and they see you, carrying the big box, Marigold flags you down and makes like slicing motions across her throat, and points at Halia.

"She's not hit," Marigold says, not understanding what happened. "But I think she's under some kind of charm. She's super mad and she says she's just waiting to be transported to the river of blood and fire to meet her terrible doom? She says that we should remove our masks, 'fell beasts,' and she says that--"

Halia is standing up.

"Ah, have you come to torment me in this form now, fiend? Well do your worst. I care not!" she says. No need to insight check her. She thinks she's in hell, and this whole "actually you're fine" thing is a cruel trick.

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Old Dec 7th, 2020, 10:45 PM
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Is it terrible ---hurrying to her friends with triumph (granted, an expensive one) snatched from the jaws of the absolutely the lowest she has ever been, swinging Fell Nell’s head by the hair---is it terrible how god-cursed delighted she is to hear proof that Halia is absolutely Hellsbound?

But Nan is going straight to the bosom of Lathandar. Sister G's coin toss will be between eternal happiness or eternal joy, she is that un-damned delightful. Anya will be escorted personally by Torm to some celestial library where he will gently kiss her forehead and boom out, MY BEST MOST ORDERLY BELOVED PLEASE MANAGE MY CARD CATALOG, at which point she will enter an eternal state of organizational ecstasy. Ripper is a dog. All dogs go to a lovely glory. Nan told her so, when Patch died.

Meanwhile, Stygia will be wall-to-wall with Pooits and devils, devils and Pooits. Awful. So yes, a part of her is pleased that Halia will be there.

Her second reaction is to be floored with Marigold’s absolute confidence that Fioravanti would get out of the whole Erinyes thing. She realizes that this is innocence. Marigold truly doesn’t know how close they came.

But Ripper? Ripper knows. He has been travelling with her since day one. He has lived a whole full dissipated fey life, decades upon decades, before hitting a reset button that didn’t quite reverse him back to zero. In Ripper’s head, she died. He lost her. She sees it on his face.

A word about Ripper:

Ripper is a Bugbear’s trash-wolf. No matter his form, he loves his food and petting; he is rascally and given to kleptomania and carnal excess. He sees no harm in making waggle-eyebrows at anyone, and is cheerful and ungrudging when rebuffed. Even if every town birch-dog or chambermaid or stable hand turns him down, well! He will never be truly lonely as long as people keep upholstering things.

But with Anya and Fioravanti, Ripper is not a trash-wolf or a druid or a fey-kept pet.

He is their dog.

For Anya, his alpha, he is an obedient animal who sits when she says sit and sleeps in a tight, contained ball near the foot of her bedroll. Personned, he is an attentive, even gallant, companion who silently offers the cleric his arm when the terrain gets rough.

With Fioravanti, his friend, his packmate, he is adoring and demandingly, unrepentantly physical. (Here the narrator must repeat, he is her dog: their relationship is as sexual as bean paste, or Nan’s tatting.) He shoves his ears into her hands for scratching, jams himself down her bedroll headfirst to be warm, or, if they are in an inn with beds, he waits until she is asleep and then pushes her with his feet until he has the middle. He likes to breathe her breath and yawn dreadful smelling yawns into her face. He is careless of her body, treating it as if it was an extension of his own.

When he thought her body was dead, it was like losing half himself.

Marigold is pantomiming Hell things and saying worried worries about Halia, but when Ripper sees who Marigold is nattering to, he loses all of his humanity, except the form. He is a dog with thumbs, loping to her, whining, then walking in distressed little circles around her, muttering and half-howling and lurching at her, ramming his forehead into her horns.

Rips, buddy, hey. Look, I’m fine, I’m fine. She wants to stop time herself and reassure him, but she fears for Halia, who is still sure she is in a hell ----though she had not crossed the river yet, apparently, so nothing truly horrible, no lemures or prongings had yet been arranged, so that’s a comfort, though maybe she should have taken the memory wipe after all and---

Halia? She says. Her Zhent, prepped for torment, is dangerous and thorny, and she needs to---

Ripper, keening, bangs her shoulder with his, then stuffs his nose into her neck to sniff at her.

Ripper, come on, bud. I’m safe. You’re safe. I need to talk to Halia.

Ripper drops to his knees and tries to cram his face into her butt, which, no. She shoves at him, and spins away, while he keeps knee-scooching, trying to get behind her.

It’s my dog, she says to she says to Marigold. He just, I mean---He’s upset. She shrugs. They both know he is her dog. Hidden Halia and furious Marigold saw him person mid-air to have a go at Vyerith. So Marigold is laughing her arse off. Poor Halia, though, stares wildly, dangerous, seconds from violence.

Fioravanti locks Ripper’s face against her hip, her free hand buried deep in his thick hair to scratch his scalp and hold him there. DOG! YOU ARE FINE I AM FINE IT IS FINE! His arms band tight around her legs, and Ripper weeps relieved tears onto her leathers.

If Halia was okay, Fioravanti knows, she would be arching a superior eyebrow and saying, I comport myself in ways that never lead to a giant man trying to snuff at my bunghole near a public road, but you, Fiora, with all your openness and charm and easy-going ways, have clearly chosen a different path.

But Halia is not okay. So.

First, to Marigold Fioravanti says, sternly, You should have her halfway to Alfriston by now! Next time I tell you to bug out, bug out. No sneaking back to help me. I’ve been at this longer than you.

Sure thing! Next time I will leave you to die, for sure, if you say that’s what’s best, Marigold says, rapidly, her voice gone sing-song in that rappy way that absolutely means she is lying. Fioravanti loves her for it.

Ripper is now calm enough to stand. She pats his wet face. Good dog. So. Now to Halia.

She sets the box down, and takes a soft step toward her friend, lifting the head.

Halia. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. If it makes you feel any better, Fell Nell gacked me, too. I went down. Marigold threw me some healing, and then I ---

MADE A DEAL.

---except she can’t say it. The words will not be said, and she understands that it is not allowed. She tries it via message. No. Not even silently, mind to mind. She does not have permission to tell Halia. Or anyone.

She blinks. She is a warlock now. Everyone will know she made a deal with something when they see her gifts. But now that she thinks of it, she never heard a single Warlock talk about their pact in specific terms. They don’t. Maybe none of them can? All she knows is, she can’t.

But her mouth is still talking! The sentence finishes itself, smoothly, zero pause, finished for her in the same way Hellish Rbuke comes out, but in her own voice: --- found a way to handle it.

She lofts the head. And look, I brought you something, eh. A present.

The dark eyes stay wild. So she tries memory. A soft one, silly, almost. A thing no devil would discuss.

Look, when you die FOREVER, yes, you're absolutely going back to hell. I mean, you were just there. So you know where you're bound. Maybe you even deserve it, but only because you refused to have fun at the dinner party that I threw you. Refused! I was being extremely delightful, as you may recall. And you sourly ate a POUND of cheese and barely touched the main course, though I had Trilena make those tiny chickens in the port and wild mushroom sauce. Barely touched the wine! Eschewed the cookie plate! ... You dressed beautifully though, so there is that. I will not let them torture you, because that was an exquisite jacket.

Is it working? Halia hasn’t gotten stabby or run yet, so maybe so.

That night? You told me, There are Minotaurs by Cragmaw Castle. You said, an Erinyes hunts a Mortal woman up and down the Triboar Trail. And you guessed who my Da might be, remember? Well. I met him. I met my Da. Not who you thought, but you were not far off.

She is skating close, but so far, she is allowed to say these things. Because they happened, and Halia was there.

So yes, you died. But I called you back. I will always call you back from any Hell, unless I precede you.

She lets her voice begin to rise, dropping the lightness, serious now.

And when you finally do come to a Hell, it will be Stygia, and I will be there first. The worst part, for you, is that I won’t let you bind your hair up in such a vicious wad, and you will have to be more pleasant at my parties. No one will dare to torture you. You understand? No one will DARE. I shall not allow it. Do you hear me?

THAUMATURGY! WILD EYES!

I. Will. Not. Allow. It.

And FWOOOOOOPPPP!!!!!!! To punctuate, to make sure Halia understands, she pops out her huge new gorgeous wings----

She gets a terrible itch on her shoulder blades, she hears the whoosh, the air displaces by her ears----and nothing happens. Just her dark cloak, billowing.

ENRAGING! IT WAS SUCH A PERFECT MOMENT! Theatrically speaking.

Still, she believes she is getting through.

She sets the head down. Kicks it to Halia like a child’s ball. And this she does right. Fell Nell comes to rest face up at Halia’s feet, blank and bloody eyes staring up.

You came when I called for help. You lofted an arrow at Erinyes for me. So I called you back from hell and got her head for you.

She shrugs, and summons the coldly sparking blue ball of an eldritch blast, and tips it back and forth, finger to finger, then letting it subside.

You aren’t in a hell, now. I promise. But even if you were---Nothing bad awaits there, my friend. Do you understand?

If Halia does, she’ll smile, and get the box.

perception 18 noseGood. Ripper? SMELL THE AIR. Where the fork has Vyerith Candor got to?

 


 


 

Last edited by Fillyjonk; Dec 8th, 2020 at 05:30 PM.
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Old Dec 8th, 2020, 07:31 PM
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It is a New Day; It is a New WorldHalia stands up when you talk to her. She looks tired. But she looks, oddly, younger. You think of Halia as old enough to be your parent, but looking at her now brought down to nothing, she is strangely transparent to you. You see she's maybe ten years older than you are, not twenty. In your estimation as a very young woman, Halia is still categorically "old." Was this a devilish byproduct of whatever happened to her? Or was she always this age, and she has just been sufficiently undone for you to see it?

She looks closely at you, her face inscrutable. Then she stiffens. Her stiffening is like other people relaxing. "I believe you," she says. "And I thank you. I am... beholden. I--"

She bends down and picks up three arrows from the ground. She runs her finger along one of them and it comes up sludgy red. She takes a deep breath and expels it forcibly. "I went to the Shadowfell, when she took me down. I have no god. Maybe I should get one. Or just not go taking aim at devils. I think I was there for... a long time. I'll tell you about it sometime. Right now I feel pretty good."

She flexes her fingers and cracks her neck. "Really good."

Ripper reports that he can't sniff Vyerith nearby. However, the bard was using feet to run on the ground, and therefore he can track him. He feels like he has a strong scent to follow and it heads toward the mountains.
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Old Dec 8th, 2020, 11:15 PM
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22 stealth
↴ MOUSEOVER TO SEE TEXT HIDDEN BY BLANK TOOLTIP!!! ↴

She points a sharp finger at Halia to message, her other hand on the cold, cold diamond at her sternum.

You aren’t beholden for shiz. If any was beholden, it was me. She’s instantly furious, uninterested in debt and tallies. Loyalty, or nothing. You died! YOU DIED! You knew what that winged birch was! You knew that arrow was suicide, but you saw me getting slaughtered, and you---HALIA! She is in a temper, but all at once, she turns on a bit of silver and is laughing. Okay, so, we might could call it even, except, do you KNOW much I cheated at that ribbon game?

She flashes her letter-tiled fair prize ring and grins. And then, more soberly. I know the Shadowfell, myself. Time is long there. Yes. Anya and I---Yes. Gods or no, we went there. We’ll talk of this, one day, you and I.

Ripper says, He is not close. Not close enough to smell. But maybe track? He looks mad. Her dog hates Vyerith Candor, too. Her dog hates anyone she hates, and that is one of the many magics of dogs.

Marigold is making WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!! eyebrows. She points again, and now when she messages Halia, she says the same things to Marigold, via the Amulet.

Don’t say anything of import out loud. (Halia, if you need to speak, give my sleeve a tug and I’ll message and open up a channel.) I’m being scried. Give it another forty-five minutes and they won’t have access---I’m attuning a new ring. Vyerith is too far to kill fast enough...we need to make the scryers think we’re going back to Alfriston.

She digs out the cloak of Elvenkind, and she feels a stiffness in the folds. She pauses. Checks. In the pocket, she finds blindingly white paper, so thick it is almost cardboard, folded into thirds and sealed with a blue-white wax that feels like dry ice---so cold it burns. She tucks that away in her bag with the pots. She’ll want to read that. Later. Carefully. But looking at Halia’s younger face, her slick, spare movements, extra oiled...

She asked for Halia-the-same, untortured, unruined, but with memory intact, unbroken. She got her...not the same. But not worse or ruined. Maybe better? The clock turned back.

The spirit of the thing, she said.

Her heart leaps up into her throat. She is thinking of Lady Bones. The reading!

AVENGER present --- A person (CAT????) you have already met (Cat.), who has connected with you mentally (CAT!). This person has a powerful drive to avenge past wrongs (GERYON TAKES STYGIA and the hot birch whose name she has forgotten), to right an injustice (Asmodeus!). This person may be using you to ---(The full stop matters, indicating he is using her, sure, but maybe not JUST using her?) may be trying to connect (CONNECT!) to feelings of vengeance that you may already have inside your mind. (WHICH SHE SUPER DOES!) Be on your guard. (Well....) Because it is in the upright position, I interpret that this person is a positive influence in your life (!!!!!....wellllllll), and can be trusted.(!!!!! Look at Halia. Look at Ripper...the spirit of the thing.... Is this her Da? Evil. Okay, yes. Evil. But maybe he loves her?)

The depth with which she wants this to be so sickens even her. The echo of years and years of barking up the Pooit tree.

Still, she is a naturally buoyant person. And everyone is alive, and they are going after Spider, and they WILL find Vyerith. The truth is, Fell Nell's head was a gift for him, but in the moment, Halia needed it. So. She touches her purple blade. She will give him something else. Her spirits are high and hopeful.

It’s a loaner, but attune! She says via amulet to the halfling, draping the cloak over Marigold, who is instantly swamped in the folds. She passes her a few pins from her disguise kit so the girl can contain it and walk in it.

They head back to Alfriston, chatting out loud about nonsense. Middle of the road. Clearly done adventuring. Theatre for SCRYERS....

As soon as she feels the ring attune to her, blinding their watchers, they stop. They are now at least halfway back to Barthen’s. Halia, for all she got ten years back, likely is Resurrection sick and exhausted.

Can you get home from here? We’re late to ORCs. And that impetuous, mad dorf may just decide to charge up the ramp and get full-on porcupined.

Whatever the answer, she presses Fell Nell’s sending stone into Halia’s hand. Any trouble on the way back you call us. She thinks about the sounds of huge wings beating, that valiant, stupid arrow lofting. Cold Halia on the ground, gone graceless and even colder. She messages to add, I don’t mean just today. You call, I’m there. I think you know that. I'll come and see you before I go to Vallos.


Then she checks Halia’s gear. Like her seemingly endless supply of fitted jackets, her assassin’s rig has tiny stitching and an immaculate cut. Fioravanti wants her tailor's name, but she is more interested in what’s in the sheaths. If she’s rocking mundane crap, Fioravanti passes her back one of her own blades; Marigold keeps the other, for now, if Halia allows. She'll return it when they are done at Wave Echo.

As they turn to go their separate ways, Fioravanti tips an imaginary hat and then she uses an exaggerated version of Halia's own slide and half step off the road; she knows these moves from when she WAS Halia, stunting for Hamun Kost. POOF. She disappears. both rolled a ten lolRipper, redogged, is still thinking of tracking, and Marigold is too busy pinning the cloak into a manageable shape. But Fioravanti kills it.

 


 


 
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Last edited by Fillyjonk; Dec 9th, 2020 at 12:31 AM.
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Old Dec 9th, 2020, 12:50 PM
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The Meeting PointYou separate from Halia and turn back to follow the scent of Vyerith toward the mountain. Ripper is on it, like a boss, for a while, and then it's gone. Gone completely, not faded or weak. It happens this is right about where you were in the process of murdering him, before he poofed. Fortunately Ripper picks up the scent of Pens, and you guys follow it up the road. 500 feet or so past that, Vyerith shows up again in the scent profile, Ripper reports, loping along with one eye squinted and one eyebrow raised up, audibly sniffing. In a bit, Vyerith disappears again, and he doesn't pick up that particular cloying half-elf odor of Drakkar Noir or whatever it is, at all. But he follows Pins and you make your way onward into the mountains.

When you approach the appointed meeting place, you see the landmark that Gundren had established -- a giant oak tree split by lightning. Subtle as a hatchet, that damn dwarf. You cut off the trail and find the three of them eating a trail lunch in a cluster of mossy boulders. Sildar Hallwinter and Daran Edermath are shoulder to shoulder, feeding each other small biscuits and pontificating on brotherhood -- from this you assume that Sister G did her channel divinity on them before they left Alfriston, and is at home praying. Gundren reports that they've been spying from this position for a while, and apart from the usual patrols that he has timed down to the minute, the only irregular thing was one borc rushing through, headed for the cave perhaps.

He tells you that there's going to be another patrol along in just a few minutes and he's urgent to kill them, put on their clothes, and run up the path to the mountain, which is right over there, and he's ready now, and he says excitedly that he plans to explain the fact that he has a hammer instead of an orc weapon because he took it off a dwarf.


OOCThere's an orc patrol coming that will have two orcs in it. You will absolutely be able to easily kill them given you're hidden and have superior firepower and there are six of you. So you can just RP doing that and however you want to manage the approach then.
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