Game Thread Ch. 6: A Friend of the Devil - Page 8 - RPG Crossing
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  #106  
Old Oct 1st, 2021, 05:18 PM
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Intimidation...winning friends and influencing people
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Bander really wants to fling an insult at the upside-down secretary, something to vent his anger, but it was just too easy of a mark to insult a man with a name like Thoob. He couldn’t help the almost childish insults that came to mind -Thoob the Boob, for one, but he didn’t give voice to them. Instead, the old soldier settles for physical violence, a well-worn path in his soul.

Grabbing Thoob the…’personal assistant’…by the front of his robes, Bander drags the man from his inverted position in the red arm chair and forcibly assists him to his feet. Then shoving the man along in front of him through the grand hall and towards the outside door Bander says,

”OK Thoob…you and me, we are going to go step outside and have a little chat. You are going to tell the Eye every forking thing you know about Kadroth and about what is going on in this damnable place. And before you get any ideas about refusing or hiding shat from me…just remember I’m the forking Eye and Levistus sees all.
Dice Intimidation:
1d20+5 (12)+5 Total = 17
Dice Guidance:
1d4 3
You want to go messing with that kind of forking Mojo? I’m guessing that that is well above your forking pay grade.”


Passing Oar and Huarwar in the doorway, Bander gives the two of them a nod and says,

”My new little buddy Thoob and I are just going to go have a forking chat. As long as he gives the Eye the answers I need, then we will both be back in a few moments. If not, well, I’ll be back.”

Bander gives Thoob a growl and a firm shove out the door. Then grabbing a hold of the man again, he shoves the personal assistant against a nearby wall and holds him there with a hand firmly gripping the front of his robes.

”Ok Thoob time to start spilling it before I have to do something you will forking regret.”


OOC
 


 



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  #107  
Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 01:48 AM
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But Thoob Had Plans of Being a Main Character
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Bander you yank this fool to his feet, wind his robes around your fist, and march him outside like a raw recruit who had the nerve to tell you no, or wait, or why. He peels away easily from the chair where he fell, and comes tripping and slipping after you, feet barely connected with the ground. Oh the sweet simplicity of this maneuver -- it slides on as familiar as an old shirt. This guy: younger, smaller, and unsure. This face: wan, worried, apologetic. His limp limbs, your military bearing, the fine art of overwhelming of an underling. But you don't stop there, with that familiar mechanism, although he would have given up anything you need just because you ask. You go one step further and flex: The Eye. How does that feel? Not a soldier, not a Sargent, but the Eye. One of. The kid shudders.

"I was just trying to see if Avarice is in there!" he explains. "She doesn't use doors! And what if -- I thought maybe Kadroth might need my help. Did I mention she doesn't use doors? No check in, no check out, no use of doors. It's got to be so you can never tell when she's here or when she's out. I have a list. I need to look out for Kadroth!"

You give him a firm shake.

"Please, don't be angry. I'll help you. I want to! I'll tell you what you want to know. Do you want to look at my list?"

Oar, you pass Chrystrom as he's escorting Thoob outside. It seems like he's already busy with a job interview, so Huarwar offers to continue the tour, and show you the two rooms on the east side of the great hall.

"Hunting duergars? Probably Miss Avarice. As soon as she heard about them moving in, she went out on the hunt. Now, here, this is where the servants sleep," he says, opening the first door. What you see here in simple furnishings supports that claim. Against the west wall are three crates of torches next to a large, stacked pile of cut wood. "You know they cook, clean, sleep, stuff. I was going to hang here when I first got here, but then I got to be a warlock... and I guess... you know, we sleep in the tower or something." He shrugs, just performing a little bashfulness like hey little old me just warlockin' in a tower. Gee whiz. Ah, this dude. "And this is the kitchen. Oh hey! There's Fel and Karou!" This kitchen reeks of fish. It is furnished with stone ovens, a fireplace for roasting skewers of meat and boiling soups, and wood-block countertops. A portly cook in a very clean, very pressed uniform busies himself at a table while a kettle belches steam over a fire in the hearth. A kennel by the door holds a pair of goats. Fels Suparra, the cultist who was at the gate with Huarwar when you came in, is also here, bending over a pot that's boiling on the stove.

"Oh hi!" she pops a piece of fish in her mouth, and wipes her hand on her robe, "I'm sorry we didn't meet properly at the gate." She smiles and extends a purplish red hand. "I'm Fel. This is Karou -- he's our cook. He's a wonder with fish, truly a wonder. What he can do with this same old knucklehead trout, with just a few spices, by the Ice Prince, is a revelation."

"I'm a villager. I belong to the village. I don't worship the devil," Karou clarifies. "I am only here to cook. Not worship." He raises a warning finger at Fel. "Ten Towner. My soul is mine. My soul and my recipes. No one touches them."


The Soothsayer
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Tru, Birdy tells you she got the coins from a mystic in Ghootmere who taught her to use them. She lays the coins flat on the tray and sighs, scootching forward on her chair. "The future is a shifting fog. Look for shapes. Connect them through the figures. Filter them through the houses. Divination is three things." She starts each coin spinning as she says each word: "Insight. Imagination. Inspiration. Now slap it down, girl. Don't wait so long. Berries or not, I'm not going to teach you more than that. When the coins fall, all will see. And my interpretation is as good as any. " You wait, and slap. Roses. Bells. Blades. You turn each coin over to see what figure is on the back of each House sign.
Your heart coin: The Witch, in the house of Roses.
Your quest coin: The Iceberg, in the house of Bells.
Your doom coin: The Giant, in the house of Blades.
The soothsayer squints at you. She lays one gnarled finger on the heart coin. "The witch on the heart coin," she says, "predicts an enchantment. Prepare for enchantment, he for you, you for he." She closes her eyes, opens one, closes it again. "I see a little lad. This is a swirling love, and consuming. But when the heart coin lands in the house of Roses means that you will settle and root, and your love will be sweet." Her voice growls, the words incongruous with the sound. But that sounds right. Twirl around, settle down, a house, a garden. Who cares. Boring. Normal. You just want to hear: "But the quest coin." The soothsayer laughs, low and rattly. "The coin honors you! You know the Master who waits and plots for freedom in an iceberg the size of the world! Imprisoned there by Asmodeus--" she spits on the ground "--and supplanted by Geryon--" two more spits "--and the jailer who prowls, Amon. But you, you--" she leans over the quest coin, close enough to lick it. "The house of Bells on the quest coin means communication. Bells to the Iceberg. Speak to him! You! I show you the fog, today, tonight. Tomorrow may be a wind, but ring your bell for him. Ring it!" More coughing that resolves into laughing, and she seems to have almost forgotten the third coin. "Oh, this." she thumbs the face of the giant. "To you everyone is a giant, little one. Doom is everywhere. But, aren't you bigger than everyone? Remember the meaning of the coin. Beware to be bigger than you are. Or you will be met with violence, and never live to plant that rose garden, with that little man."

Falfen, you tap your coins down gently with a finger. Your long legs bend under the too-small table, knees stretching squares in your hide pants as you try to sit there with her on a stool. She looks up at you intently, and at the coins, and then she closes her eyes.
Your heart coin: The Goddess of Shields.
Your quest coin: The Bright Star, in the house of Rivers.
Your doom coin: The Ghost of Rivers.
"Here is the one who has your heart," she says. She looks at you closely, peering, judging. "You see her as perfect or... you see her, you worship her. But oh, don't love her. In the house of Shields, she isn't safe. Where is your mother, child? She should protect you from her, or is it her from she." She goes silent for a minute, her eyes closed, as if sleeping, but then her voice comes back louder, clearer. "You are the fixed light in the night sky. You won't change, through seasons, through wars, through cycles of the years that flow through you like water. You are the only one who will never change. You are the star in summer, when the river flows. Hang onto it when you see it, and don't be afraid. Another pause, and deep breathing. Then her voice, very low: "The one who is coming for you is already dead. Rivers on the Quest card. Rivers on the Doom card. Poor, poor sad ranger. Your doom is in your quest. You have heard his name already, haven't you?" She frowns. "He moves in a channel, in a canyon, in the cold. He's a hunter. Beware, beware."

Haela, this ridiculous fakery neither impresses nor perturbs you. Keep it vague, Soothsayer. Eeeeverything's a metaphor. Any dichotomy is like any other dichotomy, until the sides of the coin start to look like each other, and light can mean black, and death is life, and people say "Oooh" over how things might converge that don't. Ever. You slam your gauntlet down.
Your heart coin: The Gambler, in the house of Rivers.
Your quest coin: The Feast of Roses.
Your doom coin: The Madness of Rivers.
"Why not sit? Let me look at you, daughter. Let me touch you, and remember. There are no dwarves here." Whether you sit or give her your hand, she closes her eyes and says, "Dwarf, you love your home. You are your home. You are a dwarf, what more can you be than the place you are from? I see your city." She opens her eyes and a tear rolls down from her eye. The one that's not Bander's. "You will never see it again." Bulls**t. Maybe this is the fog you see today, you shady old b**ch. Shapes in the fog. What a load of slag, of scoriæ. "I'm sorry," she says. "But you are changed. You will never go back there. You are now a traveler. Your love tumbles. Your place is no longer at the home forge, but at the forge away. " She puts her finger on the quest coin and sighs, jabs at her eye with her hooked finger. "The Feast of Roses. There is a gem mine in Termalaine. There you will find a bounty. No." She gurgles in her throat and then shouts: "I see a table set for ten! Ten plates, ten to feast, and a red beating heart on the plate of each." Her eyes roll and she arches in her chair. Both her eyes turn black and her voice drops.

Now it's a man's voice, suave, cultured. "Haela Starshield. Beautiful. Well met! You hate them. Well, I hate them too. The grey crawlers, mouths full of grit. Abominations against the very idea of a dwarf! And you know, you're so right. Let's do away with all the mystical bulls**t and the symbolism. Here we will speak clear, you and I. The duergar Xardarok Sunblight is building a weapon to take out the Ten Towns. That plain enough? Auril has promised him this, in exchange for scattering the Dalefolk into the cold. And when the grey villains are ready, they will attack. The forge in Sunblight Fortress is the heart of a red dragon, fueled by living sacrifices, and it burns day and night. They don't sleep; they won't let it cool. They gnash and clang, swinging their hammers. That thing that's growing there -- whatever he's cooking from all this stolen chardalyn -- has got to be destroyed." With a great effort the old dwarf regains control of herself. She coughs and spits blood onto the ground. "Poor girl," she says, her voice quavering. "Poor girl. You are body and soul in the House of Rivers. Your life is a cycle of no returning, and the only way to get back to anywhere... is to die."

Ziusudra, when the other voice speaks from the dwarf, the heat inside you roils and sears. What is an enemy? A person who hurts you? An obstacle in front of you? A definition, an idea? The hatred you feel from inside you is categorical. There's no specific target but everything that is this. This dwarf, this house, that voice, this is all -- off course. Ziusudra's mind searches for the right word, but there's only a NO! to answer the No! and yet you manage to sit, and hold the hate inside your body, and listen. The dwarf looks at you haggard, and speaks to you hoarse. The ways you could kill her, you slap down the coins. Bloody. Broken. Bashed. Dead. Dead. Dead.
Your heart coin: The God's One Blessing, in the house of Wands.
Your quest coin: The Mountain of Bells
Your doom coin: The Gambler, in the house of Shields.
She whispers, ragged: "I see the beast that is in you. He sours your heart coin. He seethes you with dark magic. It's a sick blessing from no god. Wands on the heart coin are a power that only you can hold. And that's you, that's why you like it, because -- No collaborators." She says the word as if it's filth and wipes her hand across her mouth, leaving a red streak. But that's not you. That's not you. Who is she seeing? You, your reason, your mind, clings to another meaning for this coin: The God's One Blessing, in the House of Wands. The blue hood of Migal. The sweet, pure magic he shows you when you pray. The visions you've had of blue figure leading the red figure. Together. She waits, expecting some response, but you say nothing. That's a failure and a triumph. Just to hold on. She sighs and resumes the reading, almost rushed now. "The mountain. There's only one mountain in the Dale and that's Kelvin's Cairn. Bells in the quest coin. Communication. What can you tell a mountain? What can the mountain tell you? Now. Here, your doom." She's definitely rushing now, almost racing you. Racing what's building inside you. "Look here, the house of Shields." She leans in, intense, reaching. "That means yes, there is hope, cleric, even for you. You have a gambler inside you. He will reach for the rewards and cast aside your protections. But you need them around you! Your shields, they will save you from his recklessness, they will--"

You want to listen. You want to hear her. But he is done letting you hear. He thanks her. He curses her. He pours from you in blaring heat, and the dagger flies. There's torture in it, and suffering, and pain. But inside you there is also a No! enough to pull the blade aside and end her quickly. She blinks and grins, and sighs, and dies. In the house of the devil, the demon will rage. This is hard and horrible, but even in the worst of it, there is this defining fact: The demon is cruel, and you are not.


OOCI hope the divination makes some kind of sense. There are six houses: Rivers, Roses, Bells, Blades, Shields, and Wands. There are fifty-three figures, not all of which you have seen. The coins are magic, and they show what they show. If you have any questions, please ask.

Birdy is dead, dead, dead. We're not in combat.
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  #108  
Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 06:27 AM
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As Birdy explains how to use the coins, she covets them. She wants to snarfle ‘em, like she did the Mysterious Ring of Joachim Ringlenatz, but one can’t go about robbing old ladies, even evil ones. One should not rob dwarves either, apparently, even in fun. He was p***ed, that dwarf. Well, dwarves don’t play like Hin play, except he (enragingly) does. She thinks of how oddly the anger sat on his merry, scruffy face, how it could find no lasting purchase there. Maybe---Birdy chides her for taking too long, and she slaps the spinners lightly down.

After her reading, Tru goes to the window, floored and churning and wild with hope. Doom coin? Well, sounds bad, as dooms do, and she can be a little too big for her britches. She’s been told. Heart coin? Bit romantic, but a proper Hin story, just as she's always planned. All she truly cares about is quest.

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Her heart is her doom, and both are trapped in Grimskalle. Bells. An iceberg? No, Birdy, not Levistus. There is only one man trapped in ice who matters to Ingetrude Frostblossom, and it is not that devil.

A chance to talk to Osco? Bells! Ring out for him! Today, tonight---how does she ring? How?

Hin really like bells, she thinks nonsensically. They have a whole festival about them, on the longest day of summer. You blind-grab a handbell from a bucket and then run around barefoot, drinking shandies, testing your tone against others, finding yourself a merry octave, and then you play the old songs and eat a lot of fruit. But if she---

!!!!!! this is huge, but she cannot right now with this!!!!!Levistus speaks. Not to her, to Haela. Dire news about the Duergar, but that is for another day, when today's promised bells are muffled in snow and the moment has passed. This is proof. If Tru had bells to Levistus, he would be telling her about the dragon's heart, not the shield maiden. No, the coin meant Osco! I can talk to him. Today, tonight. There is a way, what is it, what is it, what is it? She turns back to the window, now praying in a way that is little more than a blind, wordless reaching for her god, all of her on fire.

The temperature pops up 10 degrees, and it feels like it is coming from inside her, at first. Oh, but she is burning. Too late, she understands; it’s a wrongful heat coming off Zuisudra ---no. Not him. That thing inside him. Before she can so much as gasp, Birdy is dead.

The whole situation shifts around them. Her eyes get big. Beside her, Willow in Snow rustles and cranes its lookers and says, Oooooopppssss, in its weird wood-raspy way. She feels the pop and flare of panic, but she shoves that down. She can panic later. There is a way to talk to Osco, and it is today, and so she cannot fuss about with demons and a murder on this bell day. But--how bad does this mess up Bander?

What she has to do now is help her friends. **** me, Zuis, tamp that thing down, can you? She glances at the cleric, seeing if he has a leg over it or if he is a danger to them now, seeing how deep the abyssal hooks are set, andinsight 17 if there is any way that she and Sarenrae can help him find himself.

Then she is in motion. She is not sad about Birdy’s death. It was coming at her anyway, and soon; Tru lived for two years in a hospice. Not just her mother there. She saw a lot of old, slow, painful dying. She looks at the handle in the heart, and perhaps, for Birdy, this is better. Birdy herself just told Tru she was ready for her hell. She is more worried for their cleric. And—****! She has to get Cap’s long missing eye. She has to.

Is she really going to go digging into—ugh—she soothes herself by first picking the coins up and pocketing them. Bells! Bells to the iceberg! Maybe the coins know how and will tell her. And anyway. Anyway. Birdy is not going to need them where she is going now, she thinks, and shudders.

She uses her small, deft hands to spreads the papery lids wide. Birdy’s skin is still faintly warm. She shudders and gags a little as she slips one clever little finger under the round, slick meat of Bander’s eye and pops it out. She wraps it in her pocket handkerchee and slips it into the small leather pouch that holds her spices.

She gently closes the one eye left in Birdy’s warm, dead face, so it will stop accusing her. She says a quick prayer for Sarenrae's mercy---for Birdy, for Zuis, for them all. Then she rises; she considers the corpse.

We came in by a secret door. Who knows we are in here? We could just slip back out...What evidence we killed her? Well. Coins in her pocket, and an eye tucked up safe beside her precious store of cinnamon. But that evidence all points at her, not the others, and that seems good. Oh, hey. Maybe she's being too big for her britches right this second.

She looks back and forth between her friends, and---well, she only knows one thing for sure: I gotta find Cap. Now. She goes back out through the burned library and the secret door, and down the stairs. When she sees no Bander in the tower, she goes out, the shrub hustling along in her wake, searching for him.

 


 

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  #109  
Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 12:02 PM
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Oar shakes Fel's hand and looks around to take a seat.

"Fel, Karou ... how wonderful to meet you. How wonderful to taste your fish soup," he says with a hopeful glance at the cooking pots."So who supplies these wonderful spices? How do you get them into your kitchen when the ports are closed? Can your supplier also get in teas?"

If he is offered soup he will give it his full concentration, particularly if it is good. He'll politely answer any questions, but won't interrupt the pleasure otherwise.

Once he is done, he will help with dishes, stoke fire, clean out ashes in the stove ... whatever needs doing as he talks to Huarwar, Fel and Karou.

"So...this Ice Prince ... is that a name used for the one you worship? And you all are trying to end the Rime then, right? How you going about doing that? Because from what I can see, it isn't waning any at all."







 


 


 
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 09:22 PM
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Falfen listens intently, his insides knotting and wincing, but his face remaining outwardly calm as the watcher gives his reading from the coins. The first prophecy, the goddess of shields, rolls over him, scratching up painful memories. He remembers his young friend in the clan, Yves, slowly drifting away, joining the others in pushing him away. And he, a motherless child with an angry father. No one to protect him. Then, he stops, breath catching a bit. "Is she talking about you?" he asks the spirit inside him. He has almost no time to think about this when she is off to the next. The dwarf comments on his steadfastness, the north star-like nature of his character. This rings true, and while who he is has been a sore spot his whole life, this doesn't bother him like it might have just a couple of weeks ago, given the comfort he feels with his new companions.

Then the dwarf talks to him about his doom. His mind reels. Who hunts him? Is the dwarf referring to the owl-face? Is he dead? Falfen shudders, but before he can think much further, he is spooked backwards as Birdy's countenance is taken over and a man's voice swells from her body. He withdraws to the back wall, hands clutching his crossbow tightly, reaching for the storm until the voice subsides and Birdy returns.

Breathing heavily, the sorcerer looks around uncomfortably. Twice now, things that should have been child's games have turned supernatural and serious. There are powers he doesn't understand at work, and he feels suddenly small around all this. He is just starting to back away into the secret door again when Ziusudra's knife plunges into the dwarf.

The next moments are a blur. It is only his hunter's discipline and his respect for the quiet and powerful outsider that keep his lightning and crossbow from exploding into Ziusudra's back as he waits a split second to ensure that the cleric doesn't attack Tru or Haela. He rushes back into the room, kneeling over the dwarf when he is sure Ziusudra is no longer a threat and looks to apply aid, but a glance tells him it is too late. He stands, eyes flashing, staring around the room as Tru begins to dig Birdy's eye out of her head. "What in the name of all that is wild and good is going on? Are we to murder someone in every town in the Dale before we are through?" he shouts. He staggers a bit, mind spinning and retches. Has he cast his fortune in with the wrong lot? Is this dream of his belonging to a found clan just a fantasy? He stumbles to the secret passage and points his crossbow forward, keeping watch. When Tru rushes past him moments later, he turns to look at Haela and Ziusudra. "I don't know what comes next, but I do know that we should not be separate in this keep if we want to get out alive. I recommend we stick together and not be found in here. Pull this shut behind you if you come." He turns and follows after Tru.



 


 
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  #111  
Old Oct 4th, 2021, 08:45 PM
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As she passes, she reaches up for Falfen’s arm and squeezes it, warm and firm, because he is distraught. She tells him, Friend. Storm friend. We murdered no one here.

She does not say, Though we may yet. He’s shaking. War is hard, and his good heart is soft for all it’s wild.

A demon murdered that poor old woman in a blink; any of us would have stopped it if we could have. Even Zuis. Most especially Zuis. Perhaps he does not know about the demon? Does Haela? Tru met it when it shoved Sarenrae’s good healing back into her hands, blackening them. She includes the shield maiden as she says, A demon has our ally as a hiding spot. Birdy was murdered, it’s awful, but never by our friend. Meanwhile, we are in a nest of devils, and Bander needs his eye. She shrugs, helpless. She will have feelings about digging the---the --- she will have feelings later, when Cap is pacted up and all her friends are safe.

She hurries on, seeking her one-eyed friend, the last piece to his puzzle dripping goo into her pocket handkerchee, and oh, but she is going to have to burn that.

 


 

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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 04:20 AM
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As soon as the blade left his fingers and found Birdy's flesh, the demon released him and Ziusudra spilled forward from his cross-legged sea and on to his hands and knees. His slight frame was visibly trembling and the urge to to throw up the rich meat he had eaten before was strong. Behind him he heard the commotion of his companions, the conciliatory tone of Tru and Falfen's outrage.

"...I apologize...I wasn't able...to restrain it..." A hand to his face. He was sweating. There was a pallor to him, like the rich loam of his skin sat upon a sea of ash. Once he was able he stood and made to follow the rest out of the room. "If you wish to restrain me, I will not resist."

Internally, he reached out for the demon and
Dice Religion:
2d20+6kl1 (14, 14 (keeping 14) )+6 Total = 20
1d4t 3 Running Total = 23
asked a simple question - why? Why her?


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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 09:57 AM
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Haela Starshield
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Haela, radiating not-quite-scorn, sits for the old woman. Sad old devil-chaser or no, she will not begrudge her the closeness of a kinswoman. And whether it is magic or fakery or some strange, misshapen, misappropriated skill that Hethyl uses on her, Haela cannot deny that the words are well-chosen. The blows strike home.

How could they not? Is this not the ancestral fear that haunts all dwarves: to lose - however it comes about - their place to be? Speaking to Brom had raised that old ghost: the fear, the pain, the heart-and-bone-deep ache of diaspora that he - like so many dwarves - had had to learn to live with. Hethyl too, of course. Misguided as she was, she could never lose that aspect - core, seed, slow-burning ember - of dwarfiness.

Haela suffers the blows, but she is unshaken. Not defiant, not defensive, and no longer scornful. Hethyl Arkorran does not know Haela Starshield, but... she speaks truth of a kind. Perhaps Haela will never go back. Perhaps she will die out here in the Rime, slain in battle; perhaps she will return, one day, too deeply changed to take up her former life once more. Perhaps her place at home is lost to her, now, forever. She knew this must be a risk, did she not, of setting out into the world? Of course she did. And so Haela Starshield remains unshaken, but... saddened.

"Termalaine. Fine," she says when Hethyl's voice drops, and "we'll kill the Duergar where we find them." More than that, she does not see the need to discuss. And then Ziusudra kills the old dwarf.

Haela had stepped back, as a courtesy, to give the others privacy. Now she steps forward, the Killie Special springing to her hand, eyes blazing. She doesn't understand what's happened, and as she takes in the scene - Zius' hand outstretched, the blood welling from Hethyl's chest - the room seems to shrink around her. It was not a large room to begin with, but now it seems that each and every one of you is within arm's length of that fierce, diminutive warrior, her broad blank shield, her shining silver axe...

Then she looks at Ziusudra, and hears his apology, and shoulders her weapon. She's still not sure what's going on, but there's nothing now to gain by fighting. Dwarves are not squeamish about their dead, but before Ingetrude does what she needs to do Haela steps over to Hethyl's quickly-cooling body. The only way to get back anywhere is to die.

"Oh well," she says, sadly, "you're dead. Better luck next time."


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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 11:49 AM
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Dónde está el baño?
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Bander turns his head one way then the other, seeming to study this ‘personal assistant’ with each one of his eyes, almost like a wolf trying to decide just how to rip out its prey’s throat. He spends an especially long time with the black orb staring inches from Thoob’s face.

Ok Bander…you came crashing out here all full of piss and vinegar…and rightly so...but you didn’t give much thought to what exactly you were doing. Nothing quite like charging the enemy lines with no idea what to do after first contact, damn it man. Ok so what do I want to know? Who the fork is messing with my eye? What does Kadroth got planned? What the forking hell is all this ‘Eye of Levistus’ shat? Where the fork is the latrine in this place?...Damn I’ve got to piss…

Bander releases his hold on the secretary, smooths the man’s robe with a pat, and takes a half step back. Then with a look that hovers half-way between a smile and a sneer, Bander says,

”Ok Thoob you show me this list of yours…and then you’re going to tell the Eye what exactly you know about Kadroth and his plans for me and this place. And don’t go playing forking dumb. I saw you with your ear to the door, I know you know more than you are supposed to. So you’re going to forking spill it all.”


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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 09:41 PM
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DownstairsBander, Thoob immediately extracts a clipboard from the depths of his robes, shuffles some papers around, locates the one he's been looking for, and hands it over. As you scan a bunch of blue names on parchment, he wants to lean over your arm and point at this and that. His cold fingers cling onto your elbow as he fills you in on details.

"Blue indicates most important, but here, see this... this is ice blue, that indicates more important than that. Kadroth is blue but he's actually red. Avarice is ice blue but she's actually paler than that. You might almost say, you might almost say she is white. Then here, dark blue, that indicates--" Thoob is neither blue nor red, he is a pale pinkish damp color, with dark hair stuck down to his forehead. How much of his explaining can you really tolerate? Here's the list:
Thoob's ListKadroth (master) (Hears from the Master (archduke of Stygia (deposed)))
Avarice (master) (real master (fanatic? warlock? Arcane Brotherhood))
Cultist (fanatics): Fel Suparra, Hethyl Arkorran (Birdy (Mystic (suspect?))), Boneman
Cultists (regular rank): George & Gerald, Terrance, The Mozz, Tally Blueboots (mission {X} { }), Thoob, Ghirbi "Miss Brilliant" Long, Jake, Herak, Cana Dern, ____ Uder (?), Sissy Yajath
Warlocks (pacted): Huarwar Mulphoon, Astrix (mission {X} { }), Acate Fray, Anguish (Out)
Prisoners: Crannoc Siever (Speaker (ill)), Servants: Lanthis Alderdusk, Elprekt Norbrav, Mylbara Norbrav, Tam Sharf, Dassir Ravenscar
Servants (paid): Karou, Mere, Alassar Sulmander, Gretchen Greyleaf


Oar, you hang out with Huarwar and Fel in the kitchen eating the best soup you've had since The Royal Arms in Luskan. Fel doesn't know much about the plans to end the rime, beyond finding a stronghold which they did, staying strong which they are, and making a solid home base for Avarice. Karou tells you the secret to his supply chain hookup is a teleportation circle here in the castle. Fel seems a little terse about him spilling the beans like this, but Huarwar admits it's true: The cult can bring in firewood, weapons, people -- it's pretty handy. The way Karou talks about having access to a well-stocked kitchen like this, you feel like he'd shake the devil by the hand for quality ingredients (and maybe he has).

"You like tea, hoh hoh?" he asks you. Fel and Huarwar are still sitting at the little table, but Karou beckons you over to the sink and you bring your dish, covering your conversation with tidying up. "You want to buy some tea? I have tea. I have some some fruit, some hibiscus, this black tea with ginger right here..." He shows you several packets of tea, nothing to fancy, but smells acceptable. "I sell you all this for 60 gold. But this here..." He pulls a small packet out of an interior pocket of his chef's coat. The label is familiar: Helena's Heavenly Tea. Bremen. "This didn't come in on no shipment. This is mine. I will sell it to you for 1000 gold. Do you want to sniff?" The label reads "Aviator Skybrew" and the tea smells nutty, with layers of ozone, and corn.


Meanwhile UpstairsTru, you collect the eye from the dead dwarf. It pops right out, only attached by cursed magic, and is a glassy ball in your hand. No need to look too closely -- you saw what you saw, and it's rightfully your friend's eye -- so you tuck it away. As bloody as they are, the concerns of this moment and this room are small, compared to the words booming in your head: Iceberg. Bells. Iceberg! Bells! You think of Bells and Icebergs. And that's when you see it: hanging from Ziusudra's hip as he steps lightly away from the corpse of the seer, a bloody dagger in his hand. I know this isn't technically what you were rolling Insight on.His BELL. His holy symbol! Forged in Easthaven by John Wolf and Haela while he watched. Dang. It rings when he casts, when he... like fireworks in your mind. It must have some connection to this troubled cleric! This is good and bad. Trusting Ziusudra has been a clear, linear progression for you, as every action builds on the last -- his sacrifice, his choices, risking himself for the party, his quiet aid. But now... you know he is in peril. If he is the key to the iceberg, and how could he not be? there's a bell right there, he has to be fine. He has to!

Falfen, you reach urgently out to the wild spirit. Is she talking about you? Maybe a breeze, a distant rumble, a reindeer's call. But there's nothing there when you call out, just the firm angles of the building, the tame fire in the hearth, the woven rug, the spindly furniture. Just as the walls keep out the wind and the roof keeps out the rain, this place shields you from her. Separated! Caught! In here, there are corners, not caves. In here, there are lists, not herds. The dagger flies, and you stagger into doubt, spiral into it, sick and suddenly strange. But wait. Here is Tru, solid, warm, efficiently retrieving the eye, scooting out the door. Here is Haela, assessing the corpse with the same facial expression as she might use if she were checking an ingot for a stamp. No one could be less drawn into this weirdness than she, even though a devil just talked to her direct. But then there's Ziusudra. You don't know him well, you don't understand what's going on, and you have little experience with brotherhood, trust, forgiveness. But there's one thing you know: pain. And in these moments, where control for his body is wrenched away by some ferocity in his mind, you see it on him in agonized layers that you understand. Powerlessness. Held fast. It chokes you thinking about it. "A demon has our ally as a hiding spot," says Tru.

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Haela, when the world contracts, you expand. It's not really a dwarf thing, getting bigger like this. It's not an aspiration you have, to tower over people. There's a dizziness that comes with it, and a recalibration that feels more like sinking than rising, but it's really just a moment. Even big, your legs are still your legs. Your head is still firmly stuck onto your neck. Whatever this woman says, and whatever knight you turn into, and however big or small you are, you are dwarf, and no one and no fate and no quest can take that away. It feels good to be this. There is pain in the loss of home. Because a dwarf is her home, that's true. But as you say, that pain of loss is the dwarf too. Out of the mountain, beyond the tunnel. Bigger, farther, but just as tough. And yes, you know chardalyn. They're magical stones, mined from the earth by the Netherese, discovered millennia ago. Brittle, black, they could absorb magic and release it when shattered, but they fell into disuse when gem magic was developed by the deep gnomes. Gems were easier to carry, and left prettier powder. Chardalyn itself isn't evil, but it can be corrupted by evil magic, and corrupted chardalyn is known as Black Ice.

Ziusudra, immediately the dwarf is dead, you humble yourself. Without hesitation, you give yourself to them. It's a huge thing, and hard, or it would have been last week, but now it's almost easy, and obvious, because you need them. Your shields. This is exhausting. You are exhausted. Mustering your flagging will to confront this enemy, you ask yourself: why? why her? You reach inside, intending to plunge in deep, and find the beast down there. Far. As far as it takes. But no, he's not buried. His breath is waiting right there when you turn into your mind. Right there hot and huge and horned. And his answer to you, in his brimstone voice grinding and scraping like coal on coal, is shadowed and smudged and uneven and still so brutal: Because I wanted it.


OOCTherru, I've given you what Haela would reasonably know with an 11, but for your OOC knowledge: a while back, Vislands crit on knowledge of Black Ice / Chardalyn. This was before he found the two pieces of chardalyn that contain the Telekinesis spell, so it would have been in the Easthaven chapter, but I don't have the exact post. If you can't find it, I will look.

Filly, I didn't get a clear sense of where you wanted Tru to go. If you meant to have her run down through the tower and out into the courtyard, Bander is there with Thoob.

All who were upstairs, I need to know how you left the room, and if you made any efforts to cover anything up, rearrange, trick, misdirect, etc. I need rolls for that effort, whatever makes sense for what you do. If you just leave it, that's fine too.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 10:58 PM
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Because I wanted it.

The words echoed in his mind, fading until they became like the memory of a nightmare, a dream. Something about the demon's presence inside him erased itself, perhaps that was part of the nature of possession itself. But the evidence that couldn't be erased was reclined in the small chair in front of him. He looked down to his open palm. His heart was not broken for her, or what he had done. But he was unnerved. Each kill was intentional for a member of the House and her slaying had been done at his hand, but not of his will.

He breathed, counting internally, calming himself. One by one his fingers curled in. He was coming back to himself now, back in control. But he knew now he could never be sure, not while that being still made his soul its home. This was a problem.

"Wait." But there was a more immediate problem. He pushed himself to his feet, hopefully before the others left. "I did not kill this woman of my own volition, but regardless if she is found like this there will be problems for us. I think we must get rid of the body. I could move her outside myself, but Avarice. She could be anywhere and we do not yet know her loyalties. And we know they are watching."


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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 01:48 AM
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Orwinton 'Oar' Grinstyrwi
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Oar hears nothing but tea.

"Those are great quality!" he agrees with Karou. "I'll take all of those regular teas for 60 gp ... and of course I want the others, but I'm not sure where my substantial deposits of gold are. Last I knew I think the dwarf had them and we were going to melt them into statues of krakens attacking a ship."

He looks around. He really wants this tea. And he knows he is just short of the cash.

"Tell you what, could we do 900 ... and maybe I'll go find that dwarf who has my money and be back here. But, aren't you afraid to keep 900 gold pieces stashed away in a kitchen? Last time my group came into a kitchen, we ... never mind."

He looks at Huarwar and asks: "Can you lead me to wherever my travelling companions were put up for the night? "And follows Huarwar out if he leads.

And then, as soon as they leave the kitchen, Oar whispers: "Where is this teleportation circle? And what kind of port is that anyway?"






 


 


 
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:58 AM
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Speak to him! Ring your bell for him. Ring it! All this other bull****, like a devil cult and hiding a demon’s murder, needs to go sit down, because there are bells to the iceberg, and only today. But it has to wait.

Zuis, she says and runs to put a hand on his shoulder. You are good. No one blames you. She looks to her friends, hoping this is true. She has to go. The eye is a weight, all she can think of are the bells---But of the four of them in this room, there is exactly one sneak thief, one criminal. Okay so, Sarenraea, a body. Be with me, she begs her god. Be with me on bad business.

This is all so dramatic. The shrub is pleased.

Some ideas, she says. First one is, help me search the room. See if we can find something to hide her in, like one of those good, magic bags. No time for Ritual, she casts detect magic and scans Birdy’s room, then searches it and the body, shuddering, fast and dirty with help if any of them will rise (or sink, this is sinking) to it.

You know who would be good here? Joachim Ringlenatz. He makes jokes about bashing speaker’s heads in, throws out helpful honey colored bits, and Tru would guess he can look right into pitch darkness and not blink. Tru is a blinker. This is killing her. But outside, she stays calm and sure, because Zuis feels bad enough.

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If she finds no helpful bag of holding or suchlike magic, she says, Okay, idea two. We put her in the secret passage to the library. Who could find that but a dwarf, and Birdy said there were no more. There is no heat source in that passage. It can be---it can be a tomb. In that place, she'll rest untroubled, at least for all the Rime. We clean up, make the bed. We had no way into this room, as far as they know. She is just gone. The end.

That’s the easy way. Last, we get serious and try to frame someone. I like Kadroth for it; he's a tool. That is all the plans I got. If you have better, say so now, and tell me how to help. If you want to try the frame job, I’ll go down and try to steal Kadroth's knife. I'll go now and find Cap and meet you all either in the big room or back here in fifteen minutes---depending on what plan you pick.


As soon as she knows if she needs to rob Kadroth or do something else for them, she's gone, down the stairs and out into the courtyard. WHAT THE HELL ARE THE BIRDS HERE FOR? Oar! Oar! After she worked so hard to make sure Hell did not control their escape route, he has dragged all of their beasts and no doubt their belongings to this bad place. Ah, well. Goliaths are 7 to 8 feet of pure, cold chaos. They will do what they will do. And if Cap pacts---Big If---it will not matter. Oh, look, here is Oar, himself, looking about with Huarwar, now a Warlock of Levistus. Have you seen The Eye? I need to find him. What do you need, Oar?

If Oar tells her about the tea, she thrusts 200 gold at him (more if he needs it) so he can go back and get it. We are all meeting up in the big room--I THINK--- as soon as we can.

She runs to Bander, who is about to make some poor administrative nothing wet his pants. She grins. Hey there, Cap. Can you ditch the minion? We need to talk. She moves away from Huarwar if he is still there, and sends Thoob back to---well, who cares. Away is good enough for her. As soon as he is gone she drags Bander around the corner

Outside, she gives Bander his eye and catches him up on how she came to have it and tells him he can keep the handkerchee. Forever. What now?she asks. Should you put it in? What will happen? Maybe we should keep it in your pocket and go see Kadroth and start up this initiation? Which means pact, which means negotiations with an actual arch-devil who JUST SPOKE TO HAELA STARSHIELD THROUGH A DEAD DWARVES MOUTH AND THERE ARE BELLS AND--- Ohhh, Ingetrude, she tells herself. One thing at a time. Out loud she tells her three-eyed friend, Whatever you decide, I have your back.


 


 

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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 11:02 PM
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The pressure of Tru's grip on his arm brings Falfen's emotions down and he listens as she explains what she knows of Zius and he watches the quiet man offer to be restrained, momentarily helpless. Falfen knows the strangeness of a voice in you, powerful, the feeling of being full of energy you can't control. And this being in Ziusudra is wicked; the spirit in Falfen has always been benevolent, even if she has caused the pain of separateness from others. He feels for his companion. A demon inside you is something Falfen can't comprehend, but he can understand. And Ziusudra has been stalwart since the moment he was rescued from his fate. Falfen gingerly touches the man on his shoulder. "I believe you. I believe you. It seems many of us carry something inside of us. I had not understood all of your powers to come from a demon; is this true? Are you in constant danger of being controlled?"

Regardless of the answer, Ziusudra seems to be in control of himself at the moment and he is right that the body cannot stay here. While Falfen will keep his eye peeled for any change in Ziusudra, he will help him now. "We need to get out of here now. Whatever that was that spoke through the woman probably saw Ziusudra kill her. But...." he shudders at the thought of Tru scooping at that eye... "it probably doesn't see us now. So even if it tells someone, sealing her in this secret passage seems safest. If they can't find her, there is no proof." If his companions will allow, he will help them carry the dwarf and anything bloodstained into the burned library and reseal the door behind them. Then he will follow Tru to Bander, hoping to gather the party together.


 


 
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 10:06 AM
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Haela Starshield
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Haela does not say: I blame Ziusudra. But... demons and devils (not counting the ones that occasionally rise from the depths to annihilate the holds of dwarves who have Delved Too Deep) are abstract notions to her. She does not understand Zius' condition; and she is not now in her most understanding humour.

Haela has been learning to appreciate these strange, stretched-out people she has been travelling with... but Hethyl was one of her own. Lost and lonely, yes, far gone into foolishness; but a dwarf. The sight of Ziusudra killing her - whatever the extenuating circumstances - is not one Haela will forget.

She leaves Falfen to see to the penitent Zius - the humans can see to their own - and nods tersely to Tru.

"A tomb is well. I will see to it."

Without further comment, she scoops up Hethyl's corpse. It is surprisingly light.



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