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In the castle, in the hallway before the chamber where Bannerlord Adelfred admitted peasants for audience, the dusty prisms of sunlight falls on a curious fountain. From what reservoir the waters are drawn--or how--you do not know; whether by Phylaxian sorcery or a piece of inspired engineering or a by donkey working a screw pump somewhere far below, you do not know--but what interests you, principally, is the shape in which the sculptor has rendered his marble. A stone figure stands there--a warrior--with a sword hilt proudly held to his chest--the way they are held on the funeral biers--and with a basin at his feet where the waters fall and gather--but no blade, or rather, a blade of liquid, which, in that light, if not for the sound of rushing water, seems almost the illusion of a fabled steel--in the Eldenese, mythril--a cold alloy indeed. The contradictory union of soft and hard, edge and edgeless, even if unintentional, strikes you as almost perverse. A sword is a sword, and water is water, and never their natures should meet.

But you have not long to think on it. Another guard, another summons, taking you this time--not to the reception chamber, as you expected--but to a private, intimate study, bearing all the usual signs of a devoted use.

Bannerlord Adelfred IV appears younger than even the rumors tell. He possesses still that ruddy complexion and unwritten brow more befitting of a young maiden than a man come of age, not to mention a husband, a lord, and, you've heard recently, an expecting father. There is a beauty all about him too, not handsomeness, certainly not the arranged coquetry of the shrewder sex, but something paradoxical, akin to the fountain, a firmness and elasticity united. He rises from an enormous leather backed chair as you are announced, and carefully runs his eyes over your face. You admit, you are less pleasing to the eye--bald, bearded, not quite sober--but you expect the weather of your years has left its indelible marks. It is that which he reads--if he can.

"So you are Oswald," he says, half as a question. "You are whom they call 'Oswald the Brave'."

"We are very rarely what men call us, my lord."

"Then please, if you would, dispense with the formalities." He touches his heart. "Fred. Or Adelfred if you must." He returns to the chair and gestures to another across from him. You remain standing. A light breeze drifts in from the embrasures above you, moving the young lord's delicate blond curls.

"Why have you summoned me, my lord?"

"May I ask you something?"

"If that was your purpose, a messenger would have sufficed."
>>
>>4541848
He tilts his chin forward and presses his fingers to his lips. "After your remarkable victory in Acherenon, you never again rode into battle. I have checked this," he flicks his fingers toward the shelves of scrolls, tomes and codices that surround you, "within the, admittedly narrow, limits of my collection. Your name simply vanishes after that battle. Now, a loss, a rout, some kind of humiliation or disaster, that I could fathom--an injury," he looks up brightly, and examines you again, as though he might have missed a peg leg or hook for a hand the first time. Finding nothing, he continues, "But to desert your trade in the zenith of its genius, with no shortage of business--forgive me, but that is plain folly." He pauses, waiting for an answer to the unasked question. You offer none. "My father, he must've known about you?"

You offer a curt a nod. Adelfred III was even a friend, once upon a time. A good man to bring with you to a feast. The son however, has not inherited the father's appetite.

"Yet he never called upon you. He knew, but he never called. Does it strike you as strange?"

"Do you call upon me, my lord?"

He falls silent, looks at the place where his colored tunic forms a valley between his legs. He glances toward the lines of light from the embrasures, then meets your eyes--then yes, you see there again the contradiction that forms him, the keenness of the gaze contrasted with the sensitivity of the rest; there was no word for it but beauty. "Why did you never ride after Acherenon?" he asks.

>Don't answer; the past should remain as much [Haunted]
>Some victories come at too great a personal cost [Dishonored]
>There's no challenge in constant victory [Apathetic]
>Write-in

This will be a fairly slow moving quest. I will be aiming for one big update per day so as to really work on my writing.
>>
>>4541851
>It is better to retire at your peak than to be remembered for your failures.
>>
>>4541877
+1
>>
>>4541877
+1
>>
>>4541877
+1

Here we go!
>>
>>4541851
>Write-in
Family and wife, found the perfect woman and started a family with her with many kids.
>>
>>4541877
+1
>>
>>4541934
This too
>>
>>4541851
>>Some victories come at too great a personal cost [Dishonored]
>>
>>4541851


I think this: >>4541934
and this: >>4541877
can go well together
>>
>>4542092
+1
>>
Wait this isnt mount & blade quest
>>
>>4542092
Sure I guess?
>>
>>4541877
>>4541934
If there's no objections, I'll be combining these two as per consensus (but with ample poetic license in interpretation). Vote closed so I can start writing.
>>
"Acherenon," you say, "was my greatest victory." You would have left it at that but for the young lord's brow; for all his learned wisdom, he does not understand, so you go on, after a pause. "In my youth, when I was still a solider of the line, I stood with one of the melité."

"A myrmek? I've only seen drawings."

"There were few of them about then--mercenaries, outcasts of their hives; fewer now but great warriors all, in many ways greater than men. This melité and I, though we stood together only briefly, were bitter rivals--which, I suppose, looking back, is another way of saying we were close friends--and of its way of life, we knew little, and what little we knew was wholly alien to us. On occasion, however, it would say something which struck us, or at least myself, as possessing great wisdom--however irreconcilable our differences. It told me once, of a certain ritual, whose name--" you utter a series of sharp clicks and guttural trills, in poor imitation of the complex mandibular taps and clacks of the myrmek language, "has no equivalent in the tongues of men, but which I have come to call gloricide, the act of killing the eminent in their moment of highest achievement."

"The scholars do not mention this."

"It is a practice reserved for their martial castes, it would not arise in the exchanges of scholars."

"Go on."

"As I understand it, the myrmek have a shared memory, something in their biology well beyond my comprehension--the purview of the aforementioned scholars--that enables all their experience to persist in a collective subconscious. Because of this, their sense of individuation, of the self--even of experience--is not as consuming as Man's. They are creatures that dream each other's lives, their experience blends and bleeds together as one blood, the low with the high, to an average which is their whole purpose to improve. This is why gloricide, why,the melité will break apart the chitin of their own thorax and crush their own hearts with their own claws. For the melité--for all the myrmek--the great deeds alone are allowed to endure, are never to be touched by the corrosion of subsequent failure--even of lesser triumphs; for them, death is preferable to rust.

Achereon was my greatest victory. I shall not have a greater. I should have died. I should have ripped the heart open from my own chest. I am not one of the melité, I lack such furious conviction. I did not die. I sustain the memory now in the small ways I can; a bygone laurel untouched, at least, by the dross of this present wastrel." You cup your palm toward yourself. The young lord folds his hands atop one another and stares at the mound of his knuckles, eyes half-closed, lost in thought.

"Then you really are not Oswald the Brave," he says. "Then who are you?"

1/3
>>
"A father. A husband. A widow. A man bereaved. I had three sons and four daughters and a good woman and a good house, in Tel Betheldur."

"Had?"

"Plague took them--all but the eldest. War, I suspect, has taken him."

"I'm sorry."

"Yet, that will not bring them back."

The barb registers but briefly--a small gathering of his brow, soon unknotted. He sighs, overcome by greater worries. "You've by now guessed why I've called you?"

"I wouldn't presume to know my lord's mind."

He scoffs, looks up, annoyed, then gestures again to the chair across from him. "Will you at least sit?"

You remain standing. "We are not equals, my lord."

He begins to drum his knee in agitation. "Will you then lend me your arm, if I command it?"

"If you command it, my lord--"

"I do."

"Then I must seek refuge elsewhere, in another bannerdom."

"Then I must throw you in my dungeons, for disobedience."

"Then you will have an obedient prisoner--"

"Yes?"

"But not my arm."

"Will you at least listen to what I have to say?"

"My ear is lent."

"A veritable financier of the human body!" Unable to sit still any longer, he rises and moves toward the embrasures, scattering the single stripe of light all around him, casting his silhouette in gold. "Are you fond of war, Oswald?"

"War is terrible."

"As is my wife's cooking, yet I eat it when it is presented to me."

"You are fond of your wife."

"And you are fond of battle."

"And you are not?"

He turns from the window, his face hidden in shade. "It has only a historical interest for me. What it may win, what its ultimate outcomes might be, that alone is salient."

"Violence is crude and primitive."

"Yes!" he begins to nod eagerly, as if you'd made an excellent point, but seeing your ironical smile, he soon stops and frowns. "But by that, I see you mean it is eternal."

"My lord is wise."

He returns to the embrasure, pressing his palm against the stone beside, leaning. "A realm without war, without battle, the bannerdoms united, is that really so far beyond our imaginations?"

"It has been imagined before. Even attempted."

2/3
>>
"It has not," he spits out the words. "It has always been a hollow ambition, corrupted by greed, egoism, or else doomed by incompetence. This land was given to me, you understand, Oswald, it was given to me by my father, by his father, by his father's father. I should have no attachment to this place, or its people. It is my forefather's blood that runs through these stones, not mine. I should have no love for this place, with its drafts and its creaking doors and its simple men that work so closely with the earth. And to me they are all nothing, chattel and property to my name. And to my overlord, it is all his kennel, he whistles and the dogs come and the hounds race after their master's prey--but I am not my father, and not my father's father, and though I bear their names, I cannot ever again waste these souls entrusted me, this good land and its keepers--both of which, yes, I love--to the vain pursuits of lesser men." This tirade the lordling delivers in a restrained passion, like the glow of lightning in the clouds before they thunder. He returns to the chair, throws himself in it, and sags like old clothes. "Treasonous speech, I know," he says, rubbing his eyes. "If you have lent me your ear, lend me now your thoughts as well."

>Remain silent, the concerns of bannerlords are not anymore your concerns
>Advise acquiescence, better a small and uncertain sacrifice to save most, then a large, certain one to save them all
>Advise rebellion, what should be and what is, are in his keeping--and his own heart, denied even once, will never again beat as strong or swift
>Write-in
>>
>>4543052
>Advise rebellion, what should be and what is, are in his keeping--and his own heart, denied even once, will never again beat as strong or swift
>>
>>4543052
>Noble words My Lord. But words do not win wars. Neither does conviction. A thousand good causes have been stifled by reality. Ask yourself if you can actually win.
>>
>>4543052
>>4543069
+1
>>
>>4543069
+1
>>
>>4543069
Support.
>>
>>4543069
Support
>>
>>4543052
>Advise acquiescence, better a small and uncertain sacrifice to save most, then a large, certain one to save them all
>>
We got cucked out of a family.
>>
>>4543069
+1

>>4543656
True
>>
>>4543069
+1
>>
>>4543069
+1
>>
>>4543069
>>4543071
>>4543147
>>4543217
>>4543342
>>4543741
>>4543789
>>4544068
Vote closed.
>>
There he sits, the young lord, and young he is, in heart, in face, in spirit; and in his smallest gestures flits image of your eldest son--even your own image, once upon a time--the abundant energy of life yet unlived; mighty deeds still in dark.

His father was a goodly, generous man, beloved of the people. A man who would, on some occasions, put on his jackboots and go down into that same earth which his progeny just now spoke of, and sit with the men of his fields, take their cider, take their children in his lap, take their abuse and love with equal levity. He was that man, but also a cold and timid soul on whose neck the yoke had been drawn, and because drawn, and because felt through all his life the strong, undeviating weight of its iron, all rebellion crushed and scoured before even the thought could unfold. Not that he loved his people and his land less, but that he lived in a box only a little bigger than the one they've laid him in, the bricks of which were laid in his spirit, ten generations ago.

The great Overlord, Mordred, who rules but one sixth of this realm and who has ruled, by unknown sorcery born of his Phylaxian blood, for two hundred years hence--know him? Yes; fought for him. The victory in Acherenon was his victory, and his, the final triumph and the last word. His reach in this place is tenuous enough, far away from his bannered spires in the Rine--but ever watchful his eyes and swift his mighty arm. His greed you know well, and long has he searched for you to bend and hammer into his killing instrument and long have you evaded him--lived a second life; loved and lost. But, thinking back, had not even you dreamed to sit on the exalted throne, with the whole realm's roads and rivers and mountains laid in miniature at your feet, and to reshape it all in your name? One wonders whether power corrupts or if it merely attracts the corrupted to its flame. One marvels at this noble lord, his heart and his beauty stirring something in you long suppressed, and you know you would follow him unto death, for he would never pale before it. But this, you keep to yourself.

"Noble words, my lord, noble convictions. But words do not win wars, merely begin them, and all but few convictions falter at the sight of blood. A thousand good causes have borne ten thousand-thousand men to their deaths, smothered by cruel reality. Ask yourself if you can win--moreover, ask yourself, at what price is that victory purchased?"

"At any price. My own life."

1/2
>>
"Do not tempt the gods, my lord, do not tempt them for their greed is infinite." Yet even as you say this, your heart jolts at the sight of his unyielding eye, a resolve so iron and true that it could by itself inspirit men. You sit down and lean forward, speaking with increasing animation. "You must consider that everything in your hand is put to stake, not least your life--or having won the exalted throne will you let another sit in your place and do the work that remains undone?--but all that you hold dear--what is your arm, what is your offered neck to the littlest finger of your firstborn child? The honor of your wife? Ask yourself, my lord, at what price, at what price will you achieve victory?" He rests his forehead upon his fists, in almost the gesture of prayer. "When the die is cast, my lord, even the gods will not save you." A silence falls. Outside a crow calls, and one more distant, answers.

"He would do this thing?" the lord whispers, looking up at you with desperation, the hands still clasped in that gesture of penitence. How cruel the gods that put fire in the hearts of tenderfeet! Better cold, better dark, better quiet dying coals' content.

"This," you say, "and worse. And if you tremble, and if even an inch is given in your heart, then rethink it all. Forget this, raise your son, love your wife, treat justly your peasants, oversee this land you love so well."

"And wear the yoke," he says, bitterly. Finally he leans back and sighs. "I wonder, what would your melité do?"

"We are not myrmek, my lord, but men."

"And what would you do?" he retorts.

"Once, I would have answered you in the way that you wish, when I was--or when I pretended to be--what other men saw in me. Now, I would," your voice breaks, despite your best efforts, "what would I do to see--no, not even to see--just to hear, just to catch my little girls voices again, their singing from the yard when they jump rope. My son's little patter of feet, my wife's call to supper. No, not even to see, just to hear their little chorus one more time; sometimes I dream--" you swallow thickly, and your voice dims. "What I would do, I scarce not even dwell upon. I am this Oswald, and no longer the other."

"Yet, that," says the lord, leaning forward and touching gently your hand "will not bring them back." He pats your knuckles and rises, holding his arms behind him, and returns to the embrasure. "You will, of course, stay for supper and suffer my wife's cooking as I do. I need the company."

>Decline the invitation, you have your hovel; the lord, his castle [scene with Oswald in the village]
>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>Write-in
>>
>>4544269
>>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>Accept the invitation, it's been a while since you've broke bread with anyone but the geese [scene with Oswald and Adelfred's wife]
>>
>>4544269
>Accept
Love your writing anon
>>
>>4544279
>>4544302
>>4544348
>>4544408
>>4544559
>>4544673
>>4544723
>>4544763
Vote closed.

>>4544763
Thank you, I'm trying my best.
>>
There is no arguing with the lord once his mind is made. He does not allow you even the excuse of your soiled clothes, putting the whole of his staff and all his castle's facilities at your disposal. Thus you are--in the same way that you were summoned--dismissed, and for next few hours subject to the maternal fussing of stiff-lipped maids.

----

Down in the village, the men moved upon the fields, testing the flesh of their soil and their cattle with goads, or else with fingers. The great castle Adelfred stood high at their backs, still and faintly blue as distant mountains, and the fractal shadows of their crop fell upon their boots; upon their faces, the oval darkness of their hats. Sons followed their fathers, at all times ready for the wordless gesture, but also invariably glancing toward the cheeks of the water-drawers, the women-washers, the white kerchiefs and white aprons and the baskets of clothes and the urns of water held against their waists, and the sensual, feminine movement of their hips against that weight--and all of them--the maidens and the men-- aware of the Overlord's call. The threat of war and the deeper threat of death, inoculates these nerves to the fear of rebuff; they tremble with the thought of urgency, feeling every second the weight of their fated dice in the cups of their gods.

Among these tributes, roams a hideous lout, a small-eyed ogre with bad teeth, for whom the road is always clear, even of animals. His given name is Gregor, of which he has chosen only the last syllable for use. This Gor is an ape in strength. This Gor speaks but little, for words come fully formed into his head but are broken apart in his mouth, and in consequence of his self-imposed silence, and his penchant for petty theft, the villagers have cast him in the role of dullard and demon--and he has, by slow, reluctant rehearsal, learned to play his part. See him, hat in hand, beg the farmer for a "s-s-s-spot of work". See him offer to pull the plow, like one of their cattle, move--even eagerly--to put on the yoke, to earn an honest wage. See the farmer spit and send him off. Cursed child. Thief. Ogre. Idiot. See the farmer's daughter hide, the children run or stare or throw pebbles. Then, see him resign himself to mute darkness, and to vengeance. He knows he is ugly and he knows he is mute and he watches the same fresh-cheek and the same apron with a brutal heat, brutal longing tightly lidded. In the horns of war, he hears only this: that his four strong limbs might finally crush with no limit, follow its long-checked impulse for violence to its final end. The trees and rivers do not take on new significance for him. No fear is conquered by that greater fear of death. Fear he has mastered, violence mastered, for when the villagers-- and the world--do not love him, what remains?

1/5
>>
He begins to relish horror. He tortures the weak. When the days go short and the snows fall and the minstrels arrive with new tales, he, huddled, far from the fire, listens also with the maidens and the men. The former become the princesses, the latter the princes; he becomes the monster.

Today his prey is Goodwin, with the fair, straight hair pleated down the middle, and his trusted mare trotting beside him. Goodwin strokes his mare's neck, while it pecks at the strawberries in his hand. It has been a good day and his satchel is heavy with the days earning. Gor need say nothing. He simply appears. Even the tall mare is nearly swallowed in his enormous shadow--but today, the boy Goodwin will not retreat. The money he has gotten selling his fish traps will buy that token which his favorite will wear to remember him. It is dearer than life. And because war is near, he has begun to imagine himself a warrior.

He is quickly disavowed of that notion. Gor pummels him twice as worse out of sheer pleasure, out of the sheer activity in and of itself, out of the cruel differences in their design, feeble against fierce, comely against grisly. He knows what the money's for; he has seen Goodwin's favorite, and the eyes of many others on Goodwin, among which--like a king!--he may choose to bestow his token. He does not truly hate Goodwin, but he must destroy something. Crawls Goodwin on his palms back on the road, and follows Gor to punch in his teeth. The shadow passes over the mare again and she kicks her hind legs, striking Gor true, staving in his ribs. He falls forward to his knees, the earth quivers at so great a fallen bulk, like the fall of an oak. Blood spills out over his teeth, seeping into his gums. His breath is closing within him. He realizes in a panic that he will die, will die with his rage still burning in him; and still burning that fire--comes darkness.

----

You dine with lord Adelfred in his father's clothes (which fit you but loosely), wondering of the motives behind such hospitality. If the lordling seeks somehow to convert you for his war, you will entertain his flattery, even as it comes to nothing. The lord is there already, in his dining hall--a smaller darker one, than the great one he reserves for special occasions--sitting at the head seat and conversing quietly with someone bending down to his ear. Seeing you, he points gravely to the seat on his left.

"My Lady will be with us shortly," he says, with the same gravity, as though his Lady were a natural disaster. The servant is dismissed. You take the appointed seat. "My father's clothes are put to some use at last. I was thinking to enlarge the necks and use them as saddle cloth for my horses."

"How well the living honor their dead."

2/5
>>
"Their dead may not always honor their living, in which case their living owe nothing. Spirits?" The lord allows one of the attendants to pour wine for him and gestures to your empty glass. Used to stronger stuff, you decline. "Tell me, Oswald, is our Overlord's palace very great?"

"Greater than this, you mean?"

"It isn't a competition."

"You would lose," you say. "But no, it is not a competition. In Mordred's hall, much is done by sorcery and still more from the homunculi he has fashioned from his own dark blood."

"Indeed?" The young lord speaks softly, swirls his glass. The servants busy themselves placing candelabras and lighting wicks.

"Yes. I don't know how many. Some as slaves, others as his personal guard and few, very few as--" The door opens. Lady Adelfred enters. The fire of the candles bend toward her, as if in submission to her radiance. She glides to the seat on the lord's right, already held open for her, and carefully sits down, nursing her burden with tender care. You cannot help but stare at her--not for her beauty--which is great indeed, and altogether different from the lord's, her husband, more cold, like a sculpture of steel.

"My wife, Elizabeth. My love, this is the Oswald I've told you about." The Lady nods, ever so slightly, her eyes downcast. You realize you are still standing, and sit down, still unable to tear your eyes from her. "You were saying, Oswald, about the homunculi," says the lord. Her eyes flick toward you and back. There is no mistaking the ringed pupils, the artifact of Mordred's sorcery. "Slaves, guards and...?"

You swallow and finally look away. "Wives."

"Concubines, you mean?"

"No," you say, glancing again at the Lady. The young lord continues to swirl his glass, a half-amused grin on his face. The food mercifully comes, with the lord loudly declaring which are his wife's attempts and which the house cook's. Gradually the initial shock fades and you can see the couple as they are, their affection like the gentle, invisible heat of sunlight on glass; far out of reach that sun, but still warm. Whatever the circumstances that led to this union, you put them out of mind and enjoy the supper--what parts of it were not touched by the Lady's hand, anyway; the lord was quite astute in his culinary judgement.

Near the close of the pleasant supper, you are interrupted by a messenger storming through the doors to whisper something in the lord's ear. The lord rises instantly, folding up his sleeves. "Will you excuse me Oswald?"

"Really, darling, and we've just sat down to eat," pouts the Lady. The lord bends down and kisses her hair.

"A chance to practice, my love. Nothing more." He turns to the messenger. "Is the chamber prepared?" It was. "Instruments?" They were. "How bad?" Quite bad. "A challenge, eh?" says the lord, rubbing his hands.

"You must excuse my husband, sir, his philanthropy sometimes intrudes on his good manners," says the Lady.

3/5
>>
"Practice, my love, merely practice," he says, apologetically.

"I'm sorry, what is...?" you say.

"My dear husband has got it into his head that he is a healer and in his incorrigible charity he has declared this pursuit to all the peasants of his bannerdom. Consequently they arrive at his gates--at the most inopportune of times--" she directs this to the lord, who shrugs, "to beg his services--which as you see, he is all too ready to supply." This earns yet another kiss of her hair, and smoothing of it to the sides, as if to say to it, be still till I return.

Healing is, of course, the most delicate and complex of the Phylaxian arts, therefore also the rarest. In all the time you served Mordred, not once had he attempted it, preferring the more unsubtle schools of alchemy and elemental sorcery, the so called "golden red", the pedigree of the ancient Phylaxian warmages. To apply such a high art to so low a purpose is a marvel in itself and your old curiosity gets the better of you. "I beg the Lady's pardon--" you say, but the Lady seems to have foreseen this possibility and dismisses you with a twist of her head, earning yet a third kiss from her husband.

"Come, Oswald, come. You may learn something yet, despite all your wisdom."

The chamber is on the same floor, almost a conservatory for the amount of glass and light. An large wooden table stands in the center, while diagrams of the body and its various organs are hung from easels around it. Outside the chamber waits a young man, of slight build, boyish, sporting a bruised cheek and an eye partially swollen shut, but without these, you'd guess, quite handsome. The actual patient is in a worse state. A hideous creature, barely a man, whose shins extend well past the edge of the operating table. The lord's attendants have already cut open his clothes and turned him on his side, revealing a severe internal wound, a dark purple spreading from his back to his stomach.

4/5
>>
Lord Adelfred works quickly and efficiently. Muttering an incantation, he waves his hand over the lad's mouth and the lad's breath seems to go out of him and into the lord's cupped palm. This he gathers into a ball, like tumbleweed, and places it carefully into an offered jar. The body lies still as death, and meanwhile, leeches are placed on the wound to drain the excess blood. A series of carefully chosen incisions are made to grant access to the internal organs. Little white shards, which you take to be bone fragments, are painstakingly removed from his innards, using metal instruments. Finally, the lord is presented with another jar, this one containing a small wriggling inchworm with a thin, needle-like horn at its head. This the lord lifts up with two fingers and with the most delicate of movements, pricks his own thumb with the horn. The blood does not drip, but stretches out like string, one end stuck to the needle's point. The worm is placed into the wound and soon disappears in the flesh, all the while unspooling the lord's blood from his thumb. The lord's eyes close in mute concentration, moving quickly beneath their lids, as if in dreams, and a quarter of an hour passes in total stillness. Finally, the worm emerges again, poking its needle head just below the nape of the patient's neck. The thread of blood is severed with a word and a touch of the lord's hand, and the worm returned to its home in the jar. The attendants stitch up the incisions, patting them with a floury white powder, while the lord goes to the jar of congealed breath, and, satisfied with the attendant's work, reaches in, takes out the ball of air and places it near the patient's mouth, where it flows like smoke into his nostrils. He gives some further instructions to the others, clapping them on the back for a job well done, then collects you from the door (ignoring completely the other boy, who looks up at his lord in wonder).

Only when you are in the hall again, does the lord allow himself to stagger and hold your arm to steady himself. His face is pale and his hands deadly cold. "No," he says, smiling. "It's nothing. A little wine and fire will fix it." He tries walking again, but again stumbles and again relies on your arm. "Not to the dining hall, please," he says, licking his white lips. "To my study." You must nearly carry him there, but finally, you arrive and place him on his enormous leather chair.

"Shall I call for someone, my lord?"

5/6
>>
"No, no. She will worry, you see. Just," he gestures weakly behind him. "In the desk; bottom drawer." There you find a dark bottle and a wooden mug. You pour out the amber liquor and must bring the mug to the lord's very lips for him to drink. Slowly the color returns to his cheeks. You rise to offer him a second draught, but he has fallen asleep. The Lady comes in shortly thereafter, her maids in tow, having perhaps, foreseen all this from the beginning. She enters alone, and remains at at the door a moment, watching her husband doze, the fading lines of light from the embrasures running over his face and lap. Then she draws close and places her white hand through his blond curls, bending down to kiss them.

"My love," he mumbles, still half-asleep. "It was only practice." The wife shushes her husband, still running her hand delicately through his hair, the other placed gently beneath her burden, and the sight of all this inspires such an anguish that you excuse yourself and do not stop until you are at the fountain again, deceiving your tears with water from the basin. Very dangerous, this lord, to rouse you so easily from so long and deep a slumber. Very dangerous. You almost feel that you could not see this happiness destroyed--a perilous thought.

You retreat in haste back to your hovel.

Two days later, Lord Adelfred IV declares that he will not give his men to the Overlord's armies anymore, and begins preparing his little village for war.

>Attempt to convince the lord out of it
>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
>Flee to another bannerdom, shutting off what has been summoned in you, for good
>Write-in
>>
>>4546577
>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity

Acherenon may be our greatest victory, but I would be remiss if we couldn't offer what little help we can. This is a great folly, but damned if it doesn't remind us of our foolish youth.
>>
>>4546577
>>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
Fuck a wizard, ranged makes my dick soft. What else are we going to do? Booze around?
>>
>>4546577
>>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
How can we do anything less?
>>
>>4546577
>>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
Brainlet here. Is the lord's wife a clone or something?
>>
>>4546577
>>Attempt to convince the lord out of it
>>
>>4546766 (checked)
>homunculi
I assumed she was one of the homunculi he was just talking about, presumably containing the overlord's blood. Not 100% sure though
>>
>>4546577
>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
>>
>>4546577
>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
>>
>>4546577
>Attempt to convince the lord out of it
>>
>>4546577
>Offer your services at least in an advisory capacity
>>
As I initially suspected, this quest has devolved too much into the form of a novel. I'm having ideas for plot and character which I can't discard or turn into an interactive narrative--beyond the kind of meaningless votes I've presented so far. So, back to the drawing board. Apologies.
>>
>>4548597
The quest is over then? Damn, that's a shame. You had good writing, maybe you could write a novel with those ideas. I've heard it's a mark of a good QM to be able to reuse characters and plots on the fly, but your problem seemed more overarching in nature. Good luck for the future, man.
>>
>>4548597
I'd say offer more breaks in the narrative, let the anons decide how to react. It was shaping up to be a good quest, mate.
>>
>>4548597
Its okay to have a focus and some pre establish parts to the quest, it can make for a richer experience, particularly if the in game universe and lore is well built up, we don't need to worry to much about plain bland NPCs at the start.

>>4548807
Don't mind the large blocks to much, but I think cutting out a bit of the body language descriptions could help streamline things.
>>
>>4548597
Gay and bluepilled
>>
>>4548597
You're a good writer, OP, thanks for at least announcing this ending. Hope you come back with a better plan soon.





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