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Old 06-12-2021, 07:15 AM   #181
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 56 (2021-06-09)

16th of Ratanu, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

It was getting quite late when Yana woke me with a peck on the cheek. “Have you made plans for the next two weeks, yet?” she asked. I looked at her with confusion. “Two weeks? What’s in two weeks?” I suppose I’d been too focused on detecting treachery or intrusion in yesterday’s encounter with the Azura priestess to get the calendar right. She had said these prophesized events would happen when the moon began to wane, which would happen in two weeks, not four, since we had a new moon now. She should have said “at the full moon”. Then it would have been painfully clear to me, for my body regularly shuts down when the moon is full.

Only Wolfram and the bartender was in the common room when Yana and I came down. That suited our big friend perfectly. He had just received his breakfast, and Yana and I ordered, too. I asked Wolfram what he thought about the river thistle. He didn’t recognize the name, but when I clarified that it was the drug I’d given him yesterday, he said it worked fine. Yana was concerned he’d get addicted if he took it regularly, but I assured her I could manage it.

Xipil arrived and began to speculate that the demon in the prophecy might be Volkir. This was the demon of whirlwinds, lightnings and flanking attacks, he reminded us. Grogg wouldn’t like the lightning aspect…

Xipil also asked if we learned anything from the Ashtarites, yesterday. I said not really; we were meeting them again tonight. When Xipil began asking about the schism, Wolfram said we should move to one of the private booths. There, he wondered if one of the Ashtarite factions was allied to Tivito and Elik. I found the very idea offensive, and although the two Ashtarites had mentioned something about it, I didn’t believe they were certain of any such alliance.

We figured that Grogg might want to weigh in on the discussion, and went upstairs to knock on his door. We could tell long before we got there that we wouldn’t be interrupting anything. Grogg was eating and Hylda was drawing.

Wolfram suggested that someone wandered about in Byblos with the spirit-seeing ring, to look for the demon. Xipil didn’t think that the demon had arrived yet. I added that we wouldn’t know how to identify the demon. If we were lucky, the ring would tell us that a certain person had something magical about them – that was all the others were able to see when I was possessed.

Wolfram burst out that there had to be a Tivito temple somewhere in Byblos, and the demon would obviously be held there. Neither Yana nor I had heard about Tivito having temples. If one suspected possession, one should go to any temple and explain one’s suspicion, she told the foreigners. Since we do have chapels and temples, unlike Tivito, I realized that there had to be Ashtarite priests who knew how to contact them. They might not want to have anything to do with that despised organization, but I was certain they had received instructions for how to reach out. I promised to find out how this worked today.

Grogg wanted to do his stitching on Kraa, as the Azura priestess had said, and after the others had discussed how best to do this, I proposed he could do it at the Tiri temple tonight, since we were going there anyway.

Xipil studied a cloth rag that Grogg had embroidered a fox and a raven onto, and discovered that it was magical. He wanted to analyze it, and I took that as a cue to leave. Xipil was worried that I’d get myself into trouble, but so far, Ashtarites hadn’t bothered each other directly, taking out their grudges on friends and family instead. Yana and Xipil were Ashtarites themselves, so they’d be safe, and I told Grogg and Wolfram I had confidence in their ability to hit back if they were attacked.

Xipil also asked if we were going to the Terrace of the Evening Sun today. I told him we’d go if we had time after I had made my Tivito inquiries. The others asked Yana and me to retrieve the wagon deposit while we were out, but Wolfram decided we needed the wagon to transport him through the city this afternoon, and gave us the gold to pay for that. We’d reinvest the deposit.

The building had been practically empty earlier, but when Yana and I made our way downstairs, the common room was crowded. People were having lunch and talking. It wasn’t difficult to discover that these mercenaries had watched a parade. With lions. Lord Mir had apparently told Nulius to show off.

Yana and I left the common room and entered the meeting room above the chapel. The two guards were there, but the older one was asleep. The younger commented that I hadn’t taken his advice about pickpockets. I sighed deeply and removed my dress. To please Yana, I wasn’t wearing my weapons or my armor, so I was completely bare now. I spread my arms and gave the young guard a challenging stare, but he was too stunned to speak.

Yana and I climbed down to the washstands and cleansed ourselves. I dressed, and we went inside the chapel. Lero was praying, and I knelt beside him to pray as well. I didn’t feel the same calm as I had before, and Lero noticed it too. We interpreted this to mean that I shouldn’t ask what I was planning to, so Yana and I left again.

The young guard was still flustered by my earlier display. I warned him about his sense of humor, that many would take offense at it. I didn’t mind if he joked with me, as long as he could take it as well as he dished it out. He stammered that I was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but take another jab at him as we parted. “You’ll see me later!” Yana and I walked out, and I detected possessiveness in the way she held on to my arm.

The wagon place looked closed, but we decided to knock anyway. When we neared the door, a seemingly sleeping man stood up and knocked for us. The door opened, and we went inside. Since Yana had dealt with these people before, I let her take the lead. She handed over Wolfram’s gold coin and quickly arranged for a wagon tonight. “Three hours before sunset?” she asked. “Two and a half,” I replied. To be sure we weren’t late, we had to be at the temple district two hours before the day died, but the drive from here only took around ten minutes. I thought it better to have some extra time with the Ashtarites before the wagon left without us.

“One can’t complain about the security of this place,” I mentioned to Yana when we had left, in case she had failed to spot what I had. The people inside had tried not to act like it, but they were all alert, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all armed as well. The routine at the door, with them opening it for us the way they did, spoke of a trap, or at least an alarm.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:27 AM   #182
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 56 (2021-06-09)

We walked over to the temple district. Crossing the city took longer on foot than in a wagon, but we weren’t in any kind of hurry, and could look at the sights and breathe in the busy mood of the crowds. Yana held my hand, stroking the back of it with her thumb, and after a while, I realized she was writing letters, repeating the same promise over and over: “…U T-O-N-I-T-E I-M G-O-N-N-A F…” Holy Mother! I blushed furiously and tried to pull my hand free. Our fingers were interlocked, and Yana tightened her grip with a smirk. If not for the blush, I believe she would have let me slip free, but it was obvious I didn’t have to defend us at this time. “Wouldn’t you like that?” Yana asked coyly. I swallowed and cleared my throat. “Yeah, but you didn’t have to be so vulgar about it! What if anyone noticed?”

My heart had stopped racing by the time we reached the gate to the temple district. Yana’s free hand fumbled a bit with her purse before she noticed that I had no intention of putting any money on the big book. Once we were inside, I apologized. “I’m sorry for what I did in the meeting room above the chapel, earlier today.” Yana’s blatant promise of sex had to be payback for that, but she said not to worry about it. She might have felt a slight stab of jealousy at the time, but thinking back, she found the incident amusing, particularly the look on the young guard’s face, which she compared to a fish on land.

We trawled the temple district for Your signs, and eventually found one just inside the northern gate, old and weatherworn. We focused our search there, but found no other signs. If You still have a presence there, it has to be under the guard towers, and I didn’t want to traipse inside them. I didn’t look forward to being challenged, even though I was confident we could talk ourselves out of trouble. If I hadn’t known of any other places where my questions could find answers, we would have gone inside, but as it were, we’d find a friendlier welcome at the Cracked Kettle.

We set the course for the eastern gate, but hadn’t gone very far before Yana stopped me. “Did you see that woman guard we just passed? Wasn’t that the Ashtarite priestess from yesterday?” I turned and looked at the retreating backs of the three temple district guards. One of them could be her, but it was hard to tell from behind.

We ran to catch up. Hearing our quick steps, one of the other two turned and met us. “Can I help you, ladies?” The other two guards stopped a few paces further on, watching. I made eye contact with the woman, and it was indeed the priestess from yesterday. “I’m sorry to bother you, captain, but could you tell us the way to the Anati temple?” The guard was already positively inclined towards us, but the combination of politeness and flattery – the man was certainly not an officer – should boost relations even further. If not, the insinuation that we wanted to undress might help. Why would one want to visit an Anati temple, if not to bathe? The guardsman explained in detail how to find the temple. While we talked, I signaled to the Ashtarite that I wanted to talk, but her body language said no. When we left the guards, Yana asked why I hadn’t contacted the Ashtarite, for she hadn’t noticed my gesture. I explained, and said she didn’t want to talk to us now.

The Cracked Kettle wasn’t as crowded now as it had been yesterday. We went inside and down to the chapel, stopping for the cleansing ritual on the way. There were a few people in the chapel, and I looked them over. On the far side, a man and a woman looked like they were watching over the others, so we approached them. We greeted each other, and I learned that the man was my equal in rank. That made him the one I sought.

I asked if he knew the procedures for contacting Tivito while assuring him I knew of no situation that demanded their intervention. We Ashtarites have reasons not to want Tivito to poke their noses in our business, and neither Lord Madan’s possession nor Wolfram’s ash-breathing bear shape made me even consider asking Tivito for help. At the time, I didn’t even think of Wolfram’s problem as one that according to the law, should be handled by Tivito.

The Slitherer didn’t know of any procedure, beyond reaching out to temple district guards. He looked at my simple, grey dress. “If you’d been a noblewoman, there is a place in the north-western part of town where you could go.”

I asked about the conflict between Ashtarites. The Slitherer assured me everyone was welcome here, and he recommended the bounty hunter guild if I needed somewhere safe to stay while I was in town. He tried to keep the conflict away from the Cracked Kettle. “May the Mother of Snakes hold you and yours safe in her coils,” I intoned, and got a similar blessing in return.

When we returned to the guildhall, it was obvious that Grogg and Hylda didn’t want to be disturbed, so Yana and I went up to the third floor and knocked on Xipil’s and Wolfram’s door. We told them what we had learned about Tivito, and I said to Wolfram that we might be able to set a trap for them.

Yana put down her sewing kit and joined me in going downstairs to the common room. One of the bands that had seen the parade was still there, and we got them to tell us about it. They were very excited about the lions, but when they started to repeat themselves about the exotic creatures, I asked if they had seen any Alderas. None of that family had been present, and the mercenaries thought they were busy at the palace, debating with other nobles who should be the next king. There had been some Larmas in the parade, though, and they had proclaimed that there would be no war between Larma and Aldera. I suspected that these were Lord Mir’s prisoners, forced to tell a lie to soothe the populace and possibly trick the other Larmas. We spent some time making small talk with the mercenaries before returning to Xipil and Wolfram. Grogg and Hylda walked in while we were telling what the mercenaries had said.

I told Grogg that I was an expert on snakes, and that if he spotted any that he thought might be a dragon in disguise, he should tell me so I could check it out, and let him know if this was a real snake or not. Grogg just glared at me, and sent Hylda to bring us all dinner.

After the meal, I offered Wolfram a syringe of river thistle, explaining that I could give him a faster effect with a smaller dose that way. He was skeptical, but agreed to come over to my room to look at the equipment. Xipil came as well. He had seen similar equipment in Odon’s camp, and wanted to compare that to what I had.

I explained to Wolfram how the syringe worked, that it would allow me to inject the drug right into his blood. If he drank the liquid instead, it had to go through his stomach before slowly being taken up by the blood stream. Since he had just eaten, that process would take even longer. I promised the injection wouldn’t hurt very much, and he accepted. I measured up the correct dose, found a vein on his neck and gave him the shot.

Wolfram left most of his weapons with Hylda, and Xipil hid the star box under her bed and recommended that she locked the door while we were out. It didn’t take long before the river thistle started to affect Wolfram. Now we were ready to hit the town.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:16 AM   #183
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 57 (2021-06-20)

16th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

We jumped into the wagon and ordered the drivers to head for the temple district. We chose the west gate this time, for Yana thought it would be the least busy gate at this time of day. The drive went smoothly, and we descended on the plaza before the gate in no time. We asked the drivers to go the eastern gate and wait for us there.

Wolfram looked at the coin book and asked if he should donate. Most people did, but not all. I said no, since I didn’t believe the money would be put to good use. Xipil did give, though, and Wolfram followed his example.

We took the smaller roads through the temple district, to avoid crowds. Even so, we passed quite near the central Mitra temple, close enough to observe around forty priests drilling with weapons. Being the main religion gave them privileges. Other people were quite strongly discouraged from bringing weapons inside the temple district.

Passing through the park before we got to the Tiri temple, we saw two priestesses eyeing us from a bench. Wolfram waved to them, and they approached us. We greeted each other, and then the priestesses told us we looked dirty. My eyes narrowed, but Yana squeezed my hand lightly, and I kept my mouth shut. Wolfram commented that he had just polished his armor. The priestesses were looking for someone, and they thought we were the ones. I said we might as well go with them.

Wolfram belived this was a trap, but when one of the priestesses summoned four more with a whistle, Grogg took one glance at them and said that this was a trap he’d gladly walk into. The newcomers were around Yana’s and my age, and rather pretty. Not that I had eyes for anyone but Yana. They led us towards the Anati temple. Wolfram protested that this wasn’t where we were supposed to go, but I told him to relax.

The girls took us through a side entrance to the temple and left us in a small room with glaringly white walls. After a few minutes, an older priestess – maybe around thirty – arrived and showed the way to a dressing room. There were chests for our clothes, and I smuggled my knife belt into one and put my clothes over the weapons. Grogg was familiar with places like this; he and Lunari used to frequent them. Wolfram was uncomfortable, despite the river thistle. He didn’t like undressing in the presence of women.

When I was done, I asked Grogg if he needed assistance, since he only has one good arm. He said that Kraa would help him. Xipil offered to help as well. Yana and I sat down and enjoyed the clumsy show. It took quite some time for Grogg and Wolfram to finish. I don’t think it helped that we were watching.

Then a bell chimed, and the inner door opened slightly. “The first to cleanse may come now,” a voice intoned from the other side. I stood and pulled Yana with me. The priestess at the door didn’t allow me to bring anyone, so I let go of Yana’s hand. The priestess took me around a large pool, and to an Anati statue holding an urn on her shoulder. She asked if it was long since I cleansed at an Anati temple. I had never done this before, but I only said “yes”.

The priestess rattled off a ritual about me being dirty in body and soul. I knelt and touched the floor, praying to You, trying to drown out the priestess’s words of devotion to Anati. I wasn’t comfortable with this at all, and it didn’t help that a sudden chill seized me, as icy water poured from the urn. After a minute, the priestess told me to go to the pool. I felt no anger from You, so I did as she said.

The pool was much warmer, and it felt good to lower myself into it. There were bars of soap and small cloths for washing, but I didn’t feel like I needed to use them. I sat on the underwater bench, facing the dressing room, so I would see Yana when she emerged from there.

The next person to come out wasn’t her, though. It was Xipil. The priestess was stunned by the strange creature but went through the same ritual as she had done with me. When Xipil joined me in the pool, he was very cautious about the water, dipping only his toes at first. When he felt that the water was comfortably warm, he went under for a long time, until the priestess had fetched Grogg. Then he came up and began washing away his makeup.

Finally, it was Yana’s turn. She yelped when the cold water hit her. Then she slipped into the pool. She sat down near me but put some distance between us so we wouldn’t offend the priestesses with unseemly behavior. I scooted over and put my arm around her shoulders, staring challengingly at the priestesses.

Since Yana held my attention, I didn’t notice Wolfram until he sat down in the pool, as far away from us girls as he could. Then two priestesses approached and reminded us that we were there to wash in Anati’s honor, and to put away dirty thoughts. The one who wasn’t speaking looked disdainfully at Yana and me. Yana squirmed under the gaze, but I held her tight and met the priestess’s eyes. She definitely didn’t like us being so close. I would have understood if we had been doing anything other than simply sitting together, but as it were, I thought the Anati priestesses were prudes.

A third priestess came over, and the three of them did some ritual of cleansing on Yana, Xipil and me. I didn’t like that at all. It made me feel dirty and in need of a chapel for a proper cleansing. When they had done Grogg and Wolfram, too, they thanked us for coming.

The bell chimed again, and the Ashtarite priestess came in. She got the same treatment as us, and then all the Anati priestesses left the room. “So good that all of you came,” the Ashtarite said after soaking in the pool for a few minutes. She explained that this maneuvering gave us a safe place to meet, and that it showed us that non-Ashtarites can be good people, too. She still didn’t give us her name, though.

Wolfram asked if we could speak freely here, and when the priestess nodded, he went on to reveal the visions that the Azura high priestess had shared with us. The Ashtarite was astounded that we would share this with her. There was no need for me to interrupt Wolfram’s story, for he was remarkably concise and correct in spite of the river thistle dulling his mind.

Wolfram’s story made it clear that we were a capable nest. The priestess wanted us on her side but warned us it wouldn’t be free of risk. Wolfram said he was going after Tivito. That was a big task, and difficult, the Ashtarite replied, but she might be able to help.

The Ashtarite wondered if she could trust Lord Mir. She had received two letters from him, and the latter seemed like a reply to a question she hadn’t asked. We explained the situation about the Aldera family, that Isa had declared herself queen at the Evening Fort, but her brother controlled the army. I believed the apparent rivalry between them to be an act. The second letter had given permission for Ashtarites to enforce the law themselves in their holy places, in land that Lord Mir controlled. The priestess was concerned that this was an empty promise, if Queen Isa was the de facto head of family. We didn’t reach a conclusion on this topic, as we didn’t know Lord Mir well enough. At least, that was my view on the matter.

We discussed demons and dragons. The priestess was surprised to hear Grogg’s story about how he defeated Palo and hurled the dragon back east.

I asked where I might find the other Ashtarite faction, and learned that they used to meet at the Terrace of the Evening Sun. The priestess recommended that we didn’t go there. There might be people from her side there, spying, and they’d spread the word that we weren’t to be trusted.

Then we discussed how to lure out Tivito. I offered to feign madness, and the priestess suggested giving a poor sod an overdose of crow’s toes, which would make them seem possessed. Or we might find a haunted house and make a big deal about it. Xipil cast a spell, and suddenly Grogg dove under and tried to fish up something from the bottom of the pool. I looked questioningly at Xipil, and Wolfram told everyone that Xipil had pranked us. Grogg lunged at the lizard man, who ducked away. He said he could make any place look haunted.

We agreed to meet again in the bath at sunset in two days. That would give me time to preach for the other Ashtarites. The priestess would come back every second day after that if we didn’t show. She did Anati rituals when she left, and I frowned at her. How could You accept her as a priestess when she acted so disrespectfully?

I wanted to leave, too, so I’d be in time for the Meet at the Terrace of the Evening Sun. Xipil said he was going to check out the temple of Tsovin and Vagan. I asked Yana if she was coming with me. She agreed hesitantly. We told the others we’d meet them at the guild tonight.

Yana and I left the others to soak a little longer. While we were dressing, Yana reminded me that if it didn’t go as well tonight as I hoped, someone might try to take it out on our friends. I bit each of my knives ritually. “They’ll be all right.”

Since we were in a hurry, we decided to take the wagon. I asked the drivers if one of them could remain at the plaza to alert our friends that the wagon would return shortly, but they both had to stay with the wagon. That was fine, I told them. They would probably get back before the others had finished dressing, and I thought Grogg and Wolfram were going to the Tiri temple to sew up Kraa or whatever. Xipil was going to the Tsovin and Vagan temple, so he wouldn’t be needing the wagon for a while either.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:31 AM   #184
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 57 (2021-06-20)

The Terrace of the Evening Sun was a fancy restaurant, and Yana and I were decidedly underdressed. By the secret markings, we had come to the right place, and despite my signaling to the two guards outside the grand door, they looked at us like they wanted us to crawl back into the gutter we came from and die. I argued that we shouldn’t be barred from attending a Meet just because of our clothes, but the guards wouldn’t budge until I paid them a gold coin and agreed to wrap my cloak around me, so nobody inside would be offended by my cheap, grey dress.

One of the guards escorted us inside, to another grand door with a carpeted staircase beyond. Yana and I went down and found fancy washstands. I undressed and washed away all the Anati filth. I hardly noticed Yana joining me in the alcove, which was large enough for two; I was so busy scrubbing.

The Meet hadn’t started yet. There were around twenty people in the temple, and they were all dressed up in fancy clothes. I noticed the young guard from the guildhall, but since he was clearly embarrassed to see me, I just swept my eyes to the next person, pretending that I didn’t recognize him.

I knelt at the altar and prayed for You to give me the right words to say to these people. The conversation fragments that reached my ears gave me the feeling that there was much that needed to be said, as well as this being a place for talking. There were some exotic snakes here, but I focused on the people.

A middle-aged man came in and put his hands on the altar, signaling that the Meet was beginning. Everything was as it should be. That soothed me. It should be possible to reason with these people. The priest preached patience, which wasn’t very well received. I could feel the eagerness in the room, the willingness to act immediately. “Our time will come,” said the priest, but the congregation didn’t care to wait. Something would happen soon, and I feared bloodshed.

When the official part of the Meet was over, the young guildhall guard bolted. I didn’t think I had scared him earlier, so he was probably going to tell someone about me. He wasn’t the only one to leave, but the others weren’t in such a hurry as him. The ones who remained talked among themselves, as they had before the Meet, or to the priest.

Yana looked questioningly at me, and we rose and approached the priest. His name was Jaryn. I said we had just arrived in Byblos, and it was horrible to hear about Ashtarites in conflict with one another. Jaryn agreed. I challenged him with the rumor that people at the Terrace of the Evening Sun used You to obtain advantages in society. At that, the priest pulled us into a side passage, where we wouldn’t be overheard.

Jaryn explained that this faction worked to amend the King’s Law to give our cult equal status to Tivito. To achieve this, they cooperated not only with Tivito, but with Elik and Kabal as well. I agreed that this goal seemed good and fair at first glance but warned the priest that one must look beyond the illusion and see the truth. Since Your divine law supersedes any man-made decree, nothing should stop us from following Your word. I would rather operate in secret than have our beloved fellowship become another Tivito. I had witnessed personally how they abused their privilege, and as much as it pained me to admit, some of our brothers and sisters misuse Your blessings for their personal gain. An amendment to the King’s Law would only make them bolder in their abuse.

I tried to convince Jaryn to reopen negotiations with the other side and warned him there would be a bloodbath if we couldn’t talk civilly to our brothers and sisters. He feared the repercussions if he were to be seen with them but allowed me to relay his views. It saddened me to hear him say he wouldn’t even consider breaking off the cooperation with the other cults. It seemed we had a long way to go.

Yana and I returned to the guildhall. When we approached the building, we could see that a powerful light was shining behind Grogg’s thick curtains. The light suddenly disappeared. We went inside and knocked on Grogg’s door, hearing laughter from within. Wolfram opened and asked how we were doing. “Not bad but not that good either,” I replied. Looking inside the room, I didn’t see Xipil, so I asked where he was. Wolfram believed he was still at the Tsovin and Vagan temple. “Can we reconvene in the morning? It’s getting late,” I said.

Grogg asked me to look at Kraa. He and Wolfram had to have done something to the spirit raven, for I could see it without the ring. Kraa had grown considerably, and I complimented Grogg that it had become a troll raven. Hylda whispered something to Wolfram while they eyed Grogg. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what happened next, so I wished everyone a good night.

Going up to our room, Yana commented that I was clever to come up with this size thing for Kraa. “Couldn’t you see it?” I asked. “Maybe there was something to what the Azura high priestess said, that I can see things others can’t? I suppose Ashtar has blessed me with more gifts than I knew,” I finished with a smile. As I had mentioned below, it was quite late, so Yana and I went to sleep without any hanky-panky.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.


17th of Ratanu, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I woke when the city came to life and began to stir. Yana mumbled something unintelligible and clutched my arm to her chest. I got the meaning. We’d had late nights and late mornings since arriving in Byblos.

When I woke again, Yana had turned around, ready to gaze dreamily into my eyes as soon as they opened. I returned the stare with a smile until Yana closed her eyes and leaned in. The touch of her lips against mine set my brain on fire. A small voice in the back of my head said I had things to do today, but I squashed it. Yana sensed that I wasn’t fully into it and pulled back. “What’s wrong?” I gathered my wits. “We have a busy day ahead of us, and can’t stay here forever,” I said. Yana pouted theatrically. “And I who planned to make good on my promise…” She glanced down, sending shivers to the place she had vowed to kiss. I swallowed. “Begone, foul temptress!” I exclaimed. A whiff of worry blew over Yana’s face, but then we both collapsed into giggles.

We went for breakfast in the common room. Hylda went to the bar to pick up something for her and Grogg, but Xipil and Wolfram joined us at the table. Hylda stopped by our table to trade dirty jokes with Wolfram, bringing out a new side of him, before returning upstairs.

Talk at the breakfast table was light-hearted. We had secrets to discuss, so we didn’t linger. We went up to join Grogg and Hylda in their room. Kraa, still visible, was perched on the footboard of the big bed. I walked over and petted it. Wolfram asked incredulously if I could see the spirit raven. “Yes, of course,” Grogg and I replied on top of one another. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the others,” I said to Grogg, shaking my head sadly.

I explained what Yana and I had learned at the temple last night. Wolfram asked what Tivito got out of the deal. If the other cults got equal status in the law as them, their relative importance would be reduced. I didn’t have an answer for him.

We planned how to lure Tivito into a trap. After much debate, we agreed that we would leave Byblos, and that Wolfram would turn into the demon-afflicted bear form and spread ashes and terror in the countryside. Tivito shouldn’t be able to resist an investigation.

Before we left town, we should check if there was any mail for us at the Tsovin and Vagan temple. Xipil wanted to show Grogg to some people he had met there, so only Wolfram and Hylda remained at the guildhall to pack. Yana dressed me up as Biskutello again.

We dropped in at the wagon place and arranged for them to drive us out of town in three hours. We split up at the temple entrance and agreed to meet up back at the guildhall. Yana and I went to the post office where I introduced myself as Biskutello and asked if there were any letters for me. They brought out a box and asked if I wanted to open it in private, but I said it was all right to open it right there. The postal worker extracted a scroll and pushed it towards me with the seal hidden against the table. I slipped the scroll into my pouch and thanked them.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-03-2021, 10:48 AM   #185
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 57 (2021-06-20)

I brought out the scroll when Yana and I were alone in our room again. The seal was that of the Evening Fort Alderas, indicating that Queen Isa had sent the letter, or at least knew about it. Yana was curious about the letter, since we weren’t expecting a missive from the queen, but I broke the seal myself, in case someone had hidden a poisoned needle inside it. My caution was unwarranted, and I hadn’t really expected a trap, but better safe than sorry, I thought.

I read the letter out loud for Yana. “There is no Pak or Groman here. Thank you for sending Kraa to visit. Come back any time.” It was signed by Queen Isa, politely but unnecessarily. Nobody else could have written those words. I dismantled the Biskutello disguise, washed my face and brushed my teeth, while Yana sat down with her needlework. Xipil and Grogg came knocking an hour later to remind us it was time to leave. I showed them the letter.

We ordered the wagon drivers to exit through the eastern city gate. We drove past a village, and Yana and I climbed out and walked back while the others waited out of sight. Ideally, there was an abandoned farmstead somewhere we could use as a base for our operations, but after talking to the villagers, it seemed unlikely that we’d find such a place. On the rare occasion that a family moved or died out, the buildings were seldom left unused for long, at least this close to the capital. Yana proposed that we used the place that Wolfram haunted; we wouldn’t need it long.

With Yana’s idea shared with the others, we left the main road and searched for an isolated farm. We came to a small hamlet where Yana and I got out of the wagon. After verifying that the two of us could spend the night at the tavern, we sent the others on to find a suitable farm. We hoped that the farmers that Wolfram scared away would come to the hamlet for safety, and our task was to ensure that someone reported the terror to Byblos, where Tivito would learn about it.

The villagers kept to themselves, despite our attempts at striking up conversation. Yana took out her needlework again and made a veritable field of flowers on our table as the day wore on. Since we could easily be overheard, we spoke of inconsequential things. Yana picked the topic of the current fashion in Byblos. She mentioned the guards at the Terrace of the Evening Sun and said that while she didn’t expect me to dress up in a manner that they’d approve of, she encouraged me to wear something a little more flattering than the grey rags I had taken to, lately. Yana emphasized that I was beautiful, even in the grey dress, but thought I looked even better when I wasn’t wearing pauper’s garb. She promised once more to make me something jaw-dropping. “After you’ve completed your all-the-flowers-in-the-world project?” I asked. “Yeah…” Once again, I got the impression that Yana didn’t really want to talk about that. “So, did you see that woman at the caravan market? The one who wore nothing but two scarves, one around her chest and the other wrapped like a skirt?” “Yes. You’d have killed in that outfit,” Yana opined. “Er… no pun intended.”

Suddenly, it was night-time, and the locals cleared out of the tavern. The proprietor, Ari, wished us good night and retreated to a back room. I told Yana we needed to listen for anyone approaching from the farm and offered to take the first watch. We prayed together and hugged, and then Yana lay down on one of the benches to sleep. I held her hand and watched her drift off.

After a while, I heard a deep, rumbling noise in the distance. I believed it was Wolfram, roaring to scare the farmers. I paid close attention to sounds from outside, expecting someone to come running in a few minutes, but all was quiet.

It took more than an hour before someone arrived. I first heard the clopping of hooves, and then a yell, “Monster bear!” I looked out the window. An injured man on horseback shouted that he would go on to Byblos to alert the authorities there. A frantic woman dragged a child after her. The boy looked to be around ten, and the woman barely old enough to be the mother.

Ari appeared, wielding a candle and a rolling pin, and instructed me to open the door. The rider continued along the road as I had hoped, although he didn’t seem used to riding. The woman brought the child inside, drawn by a familiar face and voice. Our host provided tea, and I got the woman to relax and tell her story. Her name was Meilan, and the boy was Narn. According to the woman, her family had woken up in a room full of ash. That should draw Tivito out, I thought. Ari didn’t seem very happy about Byblos being warned, but there was nothing he could do. I guess he’s had run-ins with Tivito before.

One sip of the tea alerted me to a mild sedative, and I signaled to Yana that she shouldn’t drink. We needed to remain vigilant. It wouldn’t do to have Tivito find us sleeping.

Ari offered to lend the terrified visitors his bed and said that he’d stay awake. “Get some sleep if you can,” he told Yana and me. When the three of them left the room, I asked Yana to take over our watch. “Wake me in two hours, or if anything happens,” I told her.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.

Everything was quiet, Yana reported when she woke me with a touch on the shoulder. There had been some muted sobbing from the next room, but they had apparently found sleep eventually. I gave Yana the bench again, and we traded watches until the sky began to brighten.


18th of Ratanu, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Yana didn’t approve of me not changing into a nicer dress, but I said I would rather muck up one I didn’t mind throwing away if it got too dirty. I didn’t want to say outright that I anticipated violence today, but Yana understood nevertheless.

Ari emerged from the back room as soon as he heard our voices. He offered breakfast on the house because of the terror we had learned of last night. When we had nearly finished our meal, we heard horses approaching and slipped outside. The riders were two soldiers who must have set out from the larger village on the main road just as the sun peeked over the horizon. How reassuring it must be for the villagers that the king’s men waited until dawn to investigate! We passed them with polite nods.

The soldiers dismounted in front of the tavern and went inside. Yana and I sneaked around the hamlet and hid where we could see them when they headed out to check on the farm. The soldiers passed after a few minutes, accompanied by the tavernkeeper. Wolfram had done a good job of scaring poor Meilan, and she wouldn’t be a dependable guide for a while.

Yana and I followed the trio at a safe distance and remained unseen. We watched from afar as the soldiers poked around a farm. All the doors and windows at the main building were wide open. The soldiers eventually discovered that what had attacked the farm had been supernatural and told Ari that they would fetch the right people to handle this. They warned him to keep everyone away from here until help came.

When they had all left, Yana and I went up to the farm. The tavernkeeper had pointed out a smaller farm across the fields to the soldiers, and from the obvious bear and ash tracks leading between these two places, Wolfram had haunted both. We hadn’t arranged a time or place to meet the others, so the best we could do was to poke around the two farms and see if we ran into our friends. I couldn’t imagine them not keeping watch over the area. If it was just Xipil on watch, we might not find him, but he’d surely see us.

We reached the other farm after a few minutes. This place was devoid of people as well, but we spotted the top of Hylda’s head sticking up from behind a stone fence down the road. The others were sleeping, and I thought it lucky that it was Yana and I who came here, and not the soldiers, for Hylda hadn’t been paying attention at all.

Hylda woke Grogg, Wolfram and Xipil, and Yana and I told them what we had observed in the hamlet and at the other farm. Yana believed the two soldiers would be escorting Tivito here and thought we should spare them. I agreed with the sentiment, but worried that someone would decide that we could have no witnesses to what we were about to do. I predicted that we would be sending the Tivito investigators to You after we were done questioning them.

We spent some time planning. We decided we would ambush Tivito at the larger farm, since that was where the two soldiers had been, and would likely take them first. We didn’t think it likely due to the threat of the rumored monster bear, but if they did decide to split up, they would probably do it after verifying that the first farm was safe.

Finding shovels at the farm, we buried most of our equipment in the field, in case we had to flee. We wouldn’t want Tivito to get their hands on our belongings. While Grogg and Wolfram wielded the shovels, I knelt down and prayed for guidance. Should any lives be spared? Or would You unleash me upon Your enemies?
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-09-2021, 09:09 AM   #186
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 58 (2021-07-07)

18th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

Your instructions were that if anyone were to die here, someone had to fall asleep and not wake again. Our plan was to take someone alive to interrogate them, so I should be able to arrange their deaths in accordance with Your decree.

We prepared for the coming battle. Xipil put frog venom on his arrows and I dosed out Your holy venom on my four knives. Xipil was returning to spy on the little hamlet, to observe how many men Tivito sent. Wolfram offered to stay in the main building of the farm, where he would make growling noises and draw focus towards himself. He made the rest of us promise solemnly not to delay, fearing he’d be overrun if we didn’t come to his aid quickly enough. I suggested that Grogg and Hylda stayed in the stable, and that Yana and I could hide in the combined tool shed and chicken coop. It wasn’t much more than ten meters between the houses, so it wouldn’t take us long to hit the enemy in the back while they were preoccupied with Wolfram.

Yana was really skittish about the entire operation and kept trying to find ways to avoid bloodshed. I felt for her, but didn’t think she contributed positively to the planning at all. The only good thing to come from her complaining was that we decided to keep the violence indoors, so any nosy farmers didn’t see what we were doing.

Yana also wanted a clear exit strategy. We agreed that if the enemy counted twelve or more, we wouldn’t try to take them on, and that if we had to split up and flee, we would meet at the stone circle, several days east of here. I argued for meeting up at the bounty hunter guild in Byblos, but the others said they didn’t dare to return to the capital if they were seen.

Everyone took their positions, except that Grogg joined Wolfram in the main house and insisted on Hylda cramming herself into the tool shed with Yana and me, despite my protestations that it would be too crowded. When Wolfram and Grogg had disappeared into the main building, I took Yana to the stable, leaving the door to the yard ajar so she could have some light, and so I wouldn’t have to move it on creaky hinges to slip out and backstab Tivito.

Yana was nervous, asking how we were supposed to communicate with Xipil. I tried to calm her down, but it wasn’t easy, as I felt a barrier had been erected between us. My awkwardness made her more assertive, and she challenged me with why I hadn’t met her eyes all day. “A kiss for your thoughts?” she offered. My quick peck which barely brushed against her lips left her decidedly unsatisfied, and she asked more directly what was wrong.

“I watched you while you slept,” I confessed. “Was that creepy? With nothing distracting me, I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.” Yana’s warm smile melted away my jitteriness, and we hugged. “It’s all right,” Yana whispered in my ear. “I’m safe with you.” Then she pulled back, suddenly self-conscious. “I didn’t drool, did I?” I shook my head. “No, you were as perfect as always, looking so cute and innocent in your sleep…” “Unlike when I’m awake, you mean?” Yana put on a face. “You can fake it like the best of them, Yana, but you aren’t cute, you’re steaming hot, and there’s nothing innocent in the way you look at me. I know what you’re thinking,” I said, my eyes smoldering like hers. “And you had no such thoughts yourself, ogling me in my sleep?” Yana challenged. I would have denied it but for my burning face.

“I wasn’t only thinking about that,” I claimed, and Yana raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “I had no need of the candle, so I blew it out, and then it struck me how different you looked when there were no shadows playing across your face. I kind of pierce the shadows without thinking about it, but they’re there, and I have to concentrate to adjust my sight.” I held my hand in front of one of Yana’s eyes. “It’s a bit like this. You can see my face just fine with your other eye, but there is something blocking you from seeing perfectly. Now imagine that you can make my hand fade away, just by focusing your will, and you can make it come back. You can make the hand as transparent, or opaque, as you want. Shadows conceal, but they convey information, too. If someone is hiding behind a corner, the sun can cast their shadow into the street and betray them. So, I don’t remove shadows completely from my sight, except when there is no light at all, like in the tavern, behind wooden window shutters.”

We held hands in silence while Yana digested all this information. A door opened, interrupting our soul-gazing. It was Hylda. She crossed to the main house and went inside. We could hear laughter from Grogg and Wolfram. Maybe that was what drew her. Or maybe she just grew bored, sitting alone with the chickens? Now that I had squared things up with Yana, I wouldn’t have minded Hylda’s company, but I wasn’t so eager as to call her over. I did prefer to be alone with Yana.

Tivito took their time, and Yana and I grew hungry, so we relocated to the tool shed and ate raw eggs. Wolfram, Grogg and Hylda had access to the food cellar, so they wouldn’t starve, and Xipil could probably find some fruit. If I knew him right, he had found an orchard where he could climb a tree to keep watch from.

An hour after our meal, Xipil came back. Three of the king’s soldiers had arrived, and we didn’t want them to find us. We moved to the other farm, and sat down behind the stone fence where Yana and I had found the others this morning. Xipil went to spy on the soldiers, and returned after an hour, to say that we should get back to the ambush site, since the soldiers weren’t going there, but they would probably find us if we stayed. They were doing the rounds, warning people to stay away from the farm. Xipil said that the soldiers gave the impression that Tivito would come tomorrow.

Yana and I took it upon ourselves to raid the food cellar and prepare parcels of food for everyone, so we’d have enough on hand, both today and tomorrow, and wouldn’t have to break cover, in case anyone defied the soldiers and came to see what the big fuss was about.

I took Yana and our food over to the stable. We ate and talked, and then it was time to go to bed. We prepared hay to lie on, and I was about to ask if Yana would make good on her promise, but I noticed she had grown apprehensive again. “I’ll protect you,” I promised, wrapping my arms around her.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-09-2021, 09:24 AM   #187
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 58 (2021-07-07)

19th of Ratanu, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

It was full dark when Xipil came inside and woke us. Someone was approaching the hamlet, and he wanted to borrow my eyes. Whoever it was had a single lantern, but the light was directed forward, so Xipil couldn’t see anything behind it. “Hey, sleepyhead,” I said to Yana. “I’m going scouting with Xipil, but I’ll be back soon.” I smiled reassuringly, forgetting once again that she wouldn’t be able to see it.

Xipil and I sneaked towards the hamlet. There was indeed a light approaching from the north. Xipil climbed a tree and I stood behind it, peeking out. “It’s a party with several horses,” I reported, squinting at the distant people. “The lantern is attached to a small cart, like the one we had. Let’s see… There are one, two, three, four riders, and one horse pulling the cart. The guy in the cart looks like a servant or worker. The others look more like fighters. The two walking behind, too, and Ashtar is warning me about them.”

I returned to the farm, moving as quietly as I could. The light from the strangers’ lantern didn’t reach me, but they might hear me if I wasn’t careful. Xipil stayed to see if they passed the hamlet.

I took the rounds, waking everybody, and telling Grogg and Wolfram to get ready. An idea struck me, and I picked up a sharp knife from the kitchen. It wasn’t nearly as good a weapon as my own knives, but I needed one without venom on it. If this was Tivito, and they were foolish enough to bring only one light source, I was going to sneak up on whoever carried it, slash them across the hand, snag the lantern and throw it into the well. Then everyone would be at a disadvantage, except me.

After giving Yana a good, long hug, I guided her to the corner of the stable and took up position inside the door to the yard. Wolfram had transformed into a bear and was now making tracks out there. Hylda returned to the tool shed.

I could see the lantern light approaching, but Tivito stopped out of sight. They didn’t say much, but I surmised they had found the ash tracks Wolfram had made last night, and was examining them. I discerned the word “magic”.

Suddenly, Kraa began making a ruckus. Tivito stayed out of sight, but I could tell they perked up. A hen had found its way into the stable and was sleeping just out of reach. I know that even birds belong to You, despised as they are, but Kraa’s kraaing had me on edge, and I got another idea. I asked Yana to look away and decapitated the hen, using the kitchen knife. I picked up the twitching corpse and held it against my stomach, dousing myself in blood. Even though she couldn’t see very much, Yana knew what I was doing, and her mouth dropped to her chest. I moved over to her and put the knife in her hand. “Can you cut up my dress so it looks like bear claws did it?” I asked, bringing a smile to Yana’s face. It wasn’t easy for her in the dark, and I guided her as best I could, directing her not to damage my cloth armor if at all possible. When she had cut three gashes across my stomach, she wrenched the hen to get more blood out of it.

Several minutes passed without anything happening that I could see. Then I heard two people sneaking towards the stable. They went around the back and listened at the door to the corral, but Yana and I held our breaths, and they continued along the wall. I crossed the room and watched them appear from behind the tool shed, taking position in front of the door. An owl flew around them and back to the people outside the fence.

The two men wielded burning daggers, and were clearly going to open the door and find Hylda. I whispered, “Hide in the hay!” to Yana and moved out on silent feet. I was about to make a distraction when an arrow struck one of the men in the back. He fell to the ground, twitching. The other man made a burst of light which nearly blinded me, but apparently didn’t spot me despite looking in my direction.

Grogg came charging across the yard, howling gutturally. He was going to protect Hylda. He swung his maul, but missed the standing knife mage. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved when Grogg was this angry, but I drew a throwing knife and hurled it at the enemy. I would have struck him in the throat if he hadn’t ducked behind the shed. He must have seen me after all!

Wolfram stayed out of the fray, cowering outside the main house, out of sight of the other enemies, whom I couldn’t see because they were on the other side of the stable. Wasn’t Wolfram supposed to make bear noises and draw everyone’s attention? Even in bear shape, he was a chicken.

The man I had attacked hid behind the tool shed. Hylda called out for Grogg, who swiped at the now standing knife mage, but his target retreated towards me. I drew a melee blade while crossing the distance, and skewered his neck. He dropped to the ground again. As he fell, You reminded me that someone should die in their sleep.

Wolfram got up on his hind legs and peered over the roof at the ones I couldn’t see. The hidden knife mage came charging up behind me, but since he hadn’t seen me move, he misjudged my location and failed to make his attack. Grogg ran up to him and gave him a mighty blow, forcing him backwards. I drew another knife and stabbed at his neck. Because of the injury Grogg must have inflicted, I didn’t feel like wasting my precious venom, and only attacked with the same blade that had killed his friend. It didn’t penetrate as deeply as my last strike, and the man retaliated, making me dodge backwards acrobatically. He himself retreated a step from Grogg, but the troll just followed, as a bright light erupted on the other side of the stable. Grogg foolishly tried to kick the armed man, but he parried, cutting deeply into Grogg’s leg, and following up with a stab through Grogg’s chest armor. It smelled of charred troll flesh. Estimating that the knife mage couldn’t keep fighting much longer, I ran to the corral fence.

Daylight shone down on the farmyard, bathing Wolfram in light. He should still be in cover from the enemies’ direct lines of sight, though. I climbed the fence and dashed across the corral, hearing more than seeing Grogg squishing the knife man into the ground with an overhead swing of his club. “Stay away from Hylda, you swine!” the troll roared.

Now that I had moved out from behind the stable, I could see the rest of the enemies. Three of them stood in a cluster, with one holding a shield. Two more stood further behind, one near their cart. The light spell above the farmyard only shone down, and neither I nor the enemies were lit up by it. They had other lights, though, so even my friends should see them if they dared to look. Someone yelled, “If there is anyone sapient there, show yourself before we destroy everything!” Oh, Lady! Yana!!!
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-17-2021, 07:33 AM   #188
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 59 (2021-07-14)

19th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

I put away my knives, then moved along the corral fence, pretending to stagger, clutching my bloody and torn stomach with one hand and supporting myself on the fence with the other. While I didn’t move very fast, my mind raced. I needed a story to tell to the enemies, something to convince them I was a maiden in distress. If they let their guard down, I’d wreak havoc among them.

Maybe… I was traveling to Byblos with my friend and my brother. Bounty hunters captured my brother when my friend and I were busy buying food or whatever, and not knowing why, we decided to follow. Since my brother had been taken in plain sight, there were enough witnesses, but none had dared stand up to the bounty hunters. We asked around if anyone had seen them whenever we came to another village, and eventually figured out that they had left the main road and probably weren’t real bounty hunters. What they wanted with my brother, I couldn’t tell. We managed to track them down not far from here and I sneaked into their camp while they slept. My brother wasn’t there, but when I turned to leave, there was a giant bear looking at me. It swept its claws across my stomach, then looked disdainfully at me, like it was saying that I could go away and die; it didn’t have to bother with me anymore. I found my way back to my friend and she patched me up as best she could. Moving away from the bandits, my friend stumbled and hit her head. I saw the contours of these buildings against the night sky and pulled her there. I nearly died from fright when I realized the bandits had followed, but as they came near, they saw the light of a lantern approaching, and they hid. Then two men with burning knives arrived, and a fight broke out.

I hoped Tivito wouldn’t search me and find my belt of knives, but if they did, I’d say I took them from the bandit camp. If they somehow had seen me attack the knife mage, I’d say I was aiming for the bandit troll, but being unskilled, I had nearly hit the knife mage.

The knife mage corpses had burst into flames, and Grogg and Hylda tried to put out the fire, as it threatened to spread. The Tivito trio, hiding behind a big shield, repeated the order to show ourselves: “Step out now; you’re obviously not the ones we’re looking for!” It was the man nearest me who did the talking, and I staggered along the fence, moving almost straight for him. “Come out! We’re Tivito and we have the right to kill those who don’t do as we say!” the man continued. I noticed a fourth man behind the shield. I had only seen these people from a distance, but I was sure he hadn’t been with them earlier. He didn’t look nearly as majestic as the rest of them, and I figured he was an underling of some kind.

Grogg roared and a burning corpse came flying from the other side of the stable, landing with a thud and rolling nearly all the way to the men hiding behind the shield. Three of them began to retreat, but the fourth picked up a clay jar from the ground.

A voice a few meters to my left instructed me to stand completely still. I must have been too focused on the others, for this man stood in plain sight, aiming his bow at me, obscured only by the darkness. I pretended to squint into the dark and changed directions. I didn’t move straight for him, but slightly to the right, both to emphasize that I hadn’t seen him and to cut him off from easy retreat to his companions. I pretended to be in shock, wounded and confused, and the act worked, for the man lowered his bow. I pointed towards the trio who were now lit up by the fast-burning corpse, and asked the archer with a trembling voice if he was with them, or if he was one of the bandits.

As if my pointing was a signal to attack, Xipil and Wolfram fired at the enemies. In the corner of my eye, I saw Xipil hit the shield, but Wolfram penetrated one of the enemies with a crossbow bolt. The speaker fell, but the others helped him back on his feet.

“Really? There are bandits?” the archer said, still speaking softly so only I could hear. I continued forward and began to tell my story, intentionally incoherently. I broke up the sentences with dramatic sobs. The archer was wary and retreated, telling me not to approach so fast.

“The orchard!” yelled one of the other enemies. They realized that Xipil and Wolfram were hiding among the trees north of the farmhouse. Wolfram replied a command, “Send in the zombies from the north!” He didn’t sound very convincing, so I shrieked with terror, “No, not the zombies!” I would have to amend my story to incorporate them. Maybe my friend and I had to sneak past the living dead in order to get away from the bandit camp. Wolfram shouted something about a jar of poop, which didn’t precisely reinforce the threat of zombies arriving. The archer seemed afraid, though, and kept retreating. I staggered ahead, still with my left hand clutching my fake wound. “Please! You must help me. Where’s north? No, where’s south!?”

Xipil sent another arrow and it struck the same man Wolfram had just hit. I sensed he died, but his friends tried to pull him along. Then an explosion rang out somewhere in the orchard. The other burning corpse came flying and rolled to a stop against the first one.

“I’m sorry. If you want to live, you must get away from here before we return,” the archer told me. I continued in his general direction, still begging for his help. The other Tivito cultists ordered their servant: “Horses!” The archer instructed me to stand still, aiming his bow at me again.

Grogg charged out from among the farm buildings, hellbent on destroying the evil horses, or possibly their riders. Hylda called after him, for he had forgotten his maul. I defied the archer’s orders and didn’t stop. He fired, and his eyes widened in surprise when I dodged acrobatically. He dropped his bow, drew a knife and retreated. “Get away from me!” I produced two knives and threw one of them at the archer’s neck. He ducked.

I drew another knife as Grogg crashed into the shieldman. I feinted with my left hand and stabbed with the right, pricking the archer in the neck. Xipil bellowed, trying to scare the horses. Most animals are restless around him, but these seemed well trained and didn’t bolt.

The archer hurled his knife at me, but I dodged easily, feinted and attacked again in the same manner as before, drawing a little blood. I wanted to keep the archer alive, so I was attacking with the blade that had spent its venom on the knife mage. “This is a warning. If you surrender now, I won’t kill you tonight!” I threatened.

Wolfram ran into the melee, joining Grogg and Xipil. One of the enemies had mounted and began to ride away. My opponent tried to run, but I followed. He turned and put his hands up when he realized I was faster than him. “I surrender!” he claimed, but I wasn’t convinced of his honesty. “Get down on your knees,” I ordered, putting away one of the knives. I drew it again immediately, realizing that the archer was trying to cast a spell. I mirrored my earlier attacks and put a poisoned knife through his neck. Too bad; I had wanted a prisoner.

Another cultist had mounted, despite Xipil’s attempts to frighten the animal. Wolfram didn’t mess around, and cut deeply into the horse’s flank with his longsword. The horse fell and the heavily armored rider crashed into the ground. Grogg lumbered after the first rider with amazing speed. Not even Xipil could have kept up with Grogg and the horse. I ran to help Wolfram, who threw himself at the fallen rider.

Xipil had control over the servant, who seemed terrified of him. I tried to stab the neck of the rider, but I missed. Wolfram, half on top of him, growled for him to stay in the mud like the Tivito bastard he was. “Kill the slave, and I’ll surrender!” the rider said. I didn’t wait for Wolfram’s response and stabbed at the foe’s neck, hitting his mail coif and doing little damage.

Wolfram told me to stop, and to help Xipil instead. He was pinning the rider to the ground and had full control over him. Xipil asked if I could calm the servant down. “Kill the slave! It’s the only chance for you to survive what they’ll send after you!”

I tried to ask the servant calmly why the other man wanted him dead so badly, but he was too terrified of Xipil to respond coherently. That the fallen rider insisted we killed the man didn’t help. Xipil went to find rope to bind the captives. Across the field, it looked like Grogg had failed to overtake the other rider. Maybe I could take another horse and cut him off before he reached Byblos? I assumed that’s where he was headed. I knew how to ride, but I would need Yana’s help to find out if any of the horses were fit to carry me through the night. I thought my quarry was more skilled on horseback than me, but I hoped my diminutive figure would allow my horse to catch up.
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You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-25-2021, 03:10 AM   #189
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 60 (2021-07-21)

19th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

The other captive wasn’t being cooperative when Xipil and Wolfram tried to remove his armor and tie him up, and I didn’t have time to wait for them to finish. I placed my hands on the neck of the hysterical servant and applied pressure to the right spots. It didn’t take long before he passed out. His chest wound didn’t look immediately fatal, so I figured Xipil could deal with that in due time.

I stood up and shouted, “Hala!” Old habits made me use an alias in front of enemies. Yana came running with Hylda in tow. I asked my girlfriend – my girlfriend!! – to check if the remaining horse was fit for a ride through the night, and to bring it to meet me at the gate of the farm if it was. I dashed off to retrieve my throwing knives but heard a whinny behind me and turned to see the horse galloping away. I ran after it, stopping only to instruct Yana to find my knives before they left, if they decided to go before I returned.

The horse thundered across the fields at a break-neck speed, and only the open landscape allowed me to keep it in sight. After fifteen minutes, the horse caught up to another, one of the two that Xipil had successfully scared away. My original quarry kept going, but I managed to catch the other one. Mounting, I thanked You for the dark night. Dresses aren’t best suited for riding, and I felt the one I was wearing was climbing uncomfortably high up along my thighs. If I didn’t push it down occasionally, it would have bunched up around my waist.

I soon came upon the village on the main road. My plan was to ride to Byblos and hope I arrived before the fleeing Tivito cultist. Even though it was the middle of the night, some lights were lit in the village, and I slowed down. I didn’t want to be spotted, not with a bloody dress and on a horse that was much too fine for my current appearance. I took advantage of the slower speed to refresh the venom on my knives.

As luck would have it, a particularly fine horse stood tied up outside the inn, and there were soldiers guarding the entrance. The horse still breathed heavily. The Tivito cultist had to be inside! I went back to the outskirts of the village, where I had seen clothes hanging to dry in a garden. I fastened the horse and changed into a new dress. It was too big for me, but when I fastened my belt around it, it didn’t look too bad.

I sneaked back to the inn. The soldiers weren’t watching the back door, so I entered that way. The innkeeper’s family slept on the floor of the back room, and I could tell they had just fallen asleep. The cultist must have thrown them out of their room when he arrived not long ago.

I continued through to the common room. Three soldiers sat in a corner, talking about a guy who was receiving first aid. They were going to escort him away when the doctor finished with him. The soldiers had a lamp but didn’t pay attention to what was happening in the shadows, and I made my way upstairs unseen.

There were three doors. I picked out the most likely one. I listened briefly, then opened the door a crack. An officer sat on a chair in the middle of the room, asking someone if they were doing all right. I got the impression that there were two more people there, the cultist and the doctor. I closed the door as gently as I had opened it and went back downstairs. I poured three glasses of beer, emptied my vial of river thistle into them and brought them up to the door. This would prove fatal, so I hoped to be able to poison the cultist first, then stop the other two from drinking.

I knocked softly on the door so the soldiers below wouldn’t hear, balancing the three glasses on a tray with my other hand. “I said no-one should disturb us,” a gruff voice exclaimed. The officer opened the door, hand on his sword. He blocked the view into the room, which meant the others in there couldn’t see me either. I curtsied and held out the tray of beer, trying to look as if I had just been woken up to bring them this.

The officer misunderstood, taking my heavy eyelids as a seduction attempt. He came outside and closed the door behind him. “Go sleep with someone else!” he demanded. “But, but… I’m sorry!” I whispered hoarsely, forcing out a tear. The officer turned to go inside, but I rammed a knife through his neck. Your holy venom killed him immediately, and the words of the Ultimate Prayer, the conclusion of our burial rites, blazed through my mind: “O Ashtar, open Death’s Door and welcome this soul!” I hadn’t intended for anyone but the Tivito cultist to die, but You showed acceptance of my decision by bestowing potency to the venom. Without Your will, venom is powerless.

I tried to lower the corpse gently to the ground, but the man was heavy, and I had to balance the tray of beer glasses. The noise as he hit the floor was overwhelming, at least in my mind. I put down the tray and sheathed the knife. The soldiers downstairs had stopped talking, but I heard no movement from them. When they began talking again, in hushed voices, I realized they were afraid that the officer would hear them. They were uncertain if he had gone back inside.

I put my ear to the door. Someone cursed in a foreign language and then called the officer – apparently a lieutenant – incapable. Another voice said he was going to try to do something about the other’s headache. The angry voice told the doctor not to go anywhere.

After preparing my knife with more venom and worrying that the vial was nearly empty, I dragged the corpse to the side so it wouldn’t be visible when the door opened. When the soldiers’ voices grew louder and more relaxed, I picked up the tray again and went inside. “No!” the bedridden cultist exclaimed angrily, trying to sit up. He instructed the doctor to chase all civilians out of the building, himself included. The doctor turned and saw me and blinked with surprise. The cultist was making magic gestures in the air, so I ducked around the doctor and dropped the tray on one of the beds so the glasses wouldn’t shatter and alert the soldiers. I drew both knives and plunged them into the cultist’s throat before he could finish his spell.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 07-25-2021, 03:21 AM   #190
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 60 (2021-07-21)

The doctor opened his mouth to scream, but I put a blade against his neck and hissed, “If you want to live, lie down and put your hands behind your head!” A small yelp had escaped him, and chairs were being pushed back downstairs. I opened one of the window hatches and climbed out. In my hurry to get away, I slipped and landed heavily on the ground. Fortunately, the soldiers guarding the door around the corner went inside to see what the uproar was about, instead of looking for someone trying to escape.

The soldiers made a real commotion, which woke the other guests at the inn. They started screaming when they realized that someone had been assassinated uncomfortably close to where they themselves were sleeping. The entire village woke up, but nobody dared look outside, lest they see something that would get them involved. I retrieved the horse and made my getaway. I don’t think anyone saw me.

I took the road to the east, certain that the clopping hooves had been heard. When I had put the village behind me, I took off to the south, towards my friends. I took a slight detour to see if I could spot the horse I had chased originally but didn’t waste much time looking for it when I didn’t find it immediately.

Yana waved at me when I approached the farm. The glaring light that had hung over the farm was gone, and I had no lantern, so I wondered for a second how Yana recognized me in the dark. “The others are fighting over who gets to kill the slave,” she informed me. I forgot all about Yana’s mysterious eyesight and focused on what was important.

Xipil, Wolfram and Grogg were standing outside the main house. I dismounted over the fence and ran up to them. You told me the slave had to die in his sleep, and I didn’t trust the others not to wake him first. Grogg raced me to the door and smacked me right in the stomach. I shook off the surprise and followed him inside. Xipil and Wolfram swore at Grogg for hitting me, but Grogg didn’t pay them any attention. “For Ogra!” he declared and kicked the sleeping captive in the head, an impressive feat considering that he was lying in Hylda’s lap. The force of the kick sent the man flying and left him hanging out the window. I sensed he was dead, killed in his sleep as You requested.

I fell to my knees and put my hands on the floor, sending prayers of gratitude down to You. Leaving, Grogg said over his shoulder that I could just give up; the slave’s soul was now with Ogra. I smiled inwardly at his ignorance.

Wolfram came inside and asked if I needed first aid. My cloth armor had softened the blow, and I thought I should be able to walk off the pain, so I said nothing and focused on my prayer. Wolfram put down a first aid kit next to me and walked out.

I heard light footsteps approaching. It had to be Yana, for a nice tingling sensation suffused me, then coalesced between my legs. I quelled the feeling; I was praying and couldn’t allow my body to distract me. Yana informed me the others had left.

I wrapped up the prayer and stood, perhaps a little sooner than I had intended. “How are you feeling?” I asked, taking Yana’s hands. “Fine,” she replied. “Hylda and I found some money on the Tivito cart. You can have my half.” I told her we should share, and she opened her pouch and handed over ten gold pieces. “Did you find my knives?” I asked, putting the coins away. “Yes. I considered giving them to Wolfram for safekeeping until you came back …” My eyes narrowed, and Yana continued hurriedly, “but of course I didn’t give your holy weapons to an infidel! Here they are.” I got the impression that this wasn’t the real reason Yana hadn’t given my fangs to Wolfram, but I let it slide. She watched me bite the knives before putting them away, and I could tell she had skipped this ritual when she picked them up. “I pray that Ashtar will forgive your transgression,” I said solemnly. “But I blame myself, too. I failed to give you instructions. It may be for the best that you didn’t take any chances. I wouldn’t want you to poison yourself. But in the future, know that I only put venom on the tips of the blades. It’s safe to bite closer to the hilt.”

Yana was eager to leave, but I didn’t see the urgency, having dealt with the fleeing cultist. I tried to keep the conversation going, asking if Yana could make my new dress fit better. She thought this one was an improvement over the old, grey one, but wasn’t best pleased that I had stolen it. “Can we go now?” she asked impatiently, picking up the first aid kit and giving it to me. I opened the kit and rummaged around. “What’s the rush? The guy who escaped won’t tell anyone but Ashtar about us, and She won’t betray me.” This kit was of fine quality, and I decided to scavenge it to upgrade my own. “The others believe that the owls will alert Tivito that this mission failed,” Yana explained.

I put my arm around Yana’s waist and sighed. “It’s probably best if we got moving then.” I realized nobody was guarding the other captive. “So, who killed the other prisoner?” I asked. “Um… They let him go,” Yana replied. “They what!?”
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
coronatiger is online now   Reply With Quote
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