The year is 606, and in your home— the country of Corcaea— the souls of mankind belong to demons. The phenomenon through which men can become monsters is known as the "Catalyst." Curing this phenomenon is your life's work. You are Father Richard Anscham: foremost researcher of the Cataylst, the lord of light, father of compassion, defender of Eadric (the city of shields), founder of a blasphemous congregation, keeper of an ex-demon's trust, ally to many, savior of the holy capital city of Calunoth, and the leader of the Church of Mercy.You've been called a demon of faith by many. Sure, the piety you possess may have been reinforced through eight years of imprisonment beneath the Church of Mercy. But despite being a glutton, a masochist, a preacher, and an unhinged man who has literally weaponized his trauma: you have never once lost faith in the Gods. The faith that the King of your theocracy has placed in you (to head the research on the Catalyst, to defend your country, and to lead the Church of Mercy) is well-founded— and not simply because of your devotion, or that King Magnus is the only man in Corcaea who outclasses your authority and power.While any person can pray to their God, some who have spent a lifetime in devotion can use their body as a vessel. "Invoking" a God permits pious humans to wield the might of their patron as if it were their very own. Despite everything you have done, you alone are capable of invoking every single God (up to two at a time). The limits of your soul itself has been tested in the last week, thanks to the frequency and intensity in which you do so. Many may call you an addict, but your behavior is not without due cause.A nefarious cult of suicidal, blasphemous traitors have called themselves "Inertia." This enemy to your countrymen has worked for decades to destabilize the theocracy. They've successfully wormed their way into your nation's holy cities, disrupted the countryside, turned prosperity into famine, and have tried to actively kill your family. The last solid day was spent dealing with Inertia's first open assault against your home. They've burrowed deeply below your city, but despite every advantage they possess, you've come out the victor.To say that you and your people have been ran ragged from fighting an enemy who intentionally tries to create demonic outbreaks would be the understatement of an age. Given your precarious public image, the dire straits that your city has been pushed to, and a promise you made to the Goddess of Mercy, today's timing could not be better! You are going to give a public sermon at dawn. That's in less than two hours. There's a lot that needs to be seen to before that can happen, but yesterday was the last day of your life that needs to be filled with overwhelming, convoluted, and nonsensical decisions.
>>4600195Today you are keeping things simple. Today you are going to get cleaned up, see to your church, and do your damn job.>A] Go get cleaned up first. Even if you don't care much for your own image, you don't need anyone moving around the castle to see you like this.>B] See to your church first. Your ex-demon son left a man strung up from the floor to the ceiling in there yesterday, and you're positive no one wanted to clean it up.>C] Do your damn job first. Go sit down and lay out what is going to be expected of you this morning and afternoon.
>>4600196>C] Do your damn job first. Go sit down and lay out what is going to be expected of you this morning and afternoon.
>>4600196Google Drive (Timeline of events, meta infographics, character info, maps, calendar, and much more!): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1LkahIC8EcwHBPbrkEODUMH9iwQhxkFvB?usp=sharingDiscord (Update notifications, art, music, fan projects, etc.): https://discord.gg/24cmNWpTwitter (Thread announcements): https://twitter.com/Alaric50857350Archive (Feel free to +1 if you like the thread!): http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Catalyst%20QuestStranger to our fiction? Catalyst Quest is an original dark fantasy setting with an unreliable narrator. We work hard to incorporate all well considered input— even when it means trying to punch out an orc riding a giant centipede— to make sure player decisions matter as much as possible. The power you've earned is immense, and you are FAR from oblivious. The image attached here to the left is a concise reference for the abilities you've acquired, with a disclaimer about our unconventional protagonist. (It's optional reading!) Prompts presented will always be made for intelligent, in-character choices. That said, please feel free to ask questions at ANY time. In addition to the setting and character info available, I am VERY happy to aid in answering any questions about the world you inhabit, the characters you encounter, and the situations you face.Schedule?: 1-2+ updates Monday-Thursday. Full sessions Friday-Sunday, with updates as often as votes permit. All times listed are in EST.Voting windows?: No faster than 30-60 minutes a pop mid-session, though we will likely keep the same slower pace as our last thread to better facilitate discussion.Mechanics?: Typically we use 1d100, bo3. Situational modifiers, bonuses and maluses are based on the prompt selected and are applied before the roll. Percentage of success is most often used. Because of the narrative focus of this quest, and the unusual situations you all often find yourselves in, this is subject to change. Write-ins can make a huge difference!What if I don't like what someone else is doing?: SPEAK UP! Even if a vote is listed as mutually exclusive, I take all votes and discussion into consideration. Vocal opposition is always strongly considered.Setting and character info?: All of our supplemental material is optional reading. I aim to make the quest as accessible as possible, but feel free to ask questions at any time! If you're ever looking for more info, the Google Drive link is kept up-to-date with all supplemental information.
>>4600195>B] See to your church first. Your ex-demon son left a man strung up from the floor to the ceiling in there yesterday, and you're positive no one wanted to clean it up.
>>4600196>C] Do your damn job first. Go sit down and lay out what is going to be expected of you this morning and afternoon.We can get Adwin to clean up his own mess before the sermon. And hey, we're finally delegating!
>>4600196>C] Do your damn job first. Go sit down and lay out what is going to be expected of you this morning and afternoon.I second telling Adwin to go clean his room.
(Awesome turnout, you guys are spectacular. Going to lock the vote in ten (10) minutes.)
>>4600207(Thanks man! Good to have ya here.)>>4600209>>4600269>>4600275>>4600282>Do your damn job>>4600223>>4600269>But get Adwin to go clean up his mess before the sermon(For those new to our crazy show I LOVE to incorporate every possible vote. Even if it doesn't take immediate effect, it almost always dictates priority or at least has some impact on your personality and motives. Fear not if you do not have majority! Your guys thoughts and contributions mean all the world. Vote is LOCKED! Writing now.)
>>4600297https://youtu.be/kc8pse0w9nkIt's been a matter of minutes since you last saw the ex-demon in your company. Adwin Sebastian Anscham (AKA the former demon of interpretation) is like a son to you. Telling him to clean his damn room is not out of the question. Particularly not when the 1000+ year old master artist has chosen to occupy the main choir of your church, seeks to paint it from floor-to-ceiling with the likeness of his Catalyst, and thought that it would be alright to turn a man into party banners from polished floor to vaulted ceiling.Adwin is predictably adjacent to the Church of Mercy, in the company of five loyal citizens who followed you here from the outskirts of Eadric. The artist was showing them to empty rooms. They have yet to enter. You breathe a sigh of relief. All of them politely raise their heads to you, despite being stricken with extreme exhaustion and trauma.You politely nod in turn to the citizens, give them a "good evening," and take your boy aside.He's still covered head-to-toe in bloody fabric. Old bandages cover the lacerations he incurred last night on more skin than not. His blonde curls remain matted under the veils covering the likeness of yours and Mercy's son. It's uncanny, and out of respect for you aiding the embodiment of Interpretation in choosing a new form. Adwin is scarcely five days old in his current state of being— not even the Goddess of knowledge seems to know what that is yet— but he looks up to you like a parent. "Is something the matter, Father?"Your healing is without compare, but you still use a gentle hand while leading his slender form to a nearby wing of the castle. "Please ensure that the blood is cleaned out from the Church of Mercy before dawn.""You still are lacking a steward." The artist sounds offended, but you can't make out his facial features behind the blood-caked cloth on him.Not everyone cares as little for their image as you do. Good thing you're still the father of empathy. "You are no housemaid. You know— you know how much today means to me. I ask for your assistance out of respect for your ability, and for the deceased. We brought a supply of lye soap from the capital. You know where to draw water." You pull back, and move to leave. "By dawn, Adwin. Please!"He's already rolling back his sleeves. Grumbling. "Yes, Father.""Come find me if you get any of those bandages wet!""Yes, Father—"The sheer scale of your castle makes it ill-advised to hike all the way back to your own quarters in order to get ready for the rest of the day. Heading outside into the starry night, you find a particularly pleasant space in your gardens to get off your feet. Tall trees are floating with fireflies, and yellow roses carry sweetly along the muggy and warm air. It feels like a Dream after what a long night you've had. (1/2)
>>4600344The back of your well-worn and beloved journal is fished out from your satchel. Its leather backing supports a preliminary stack of parchment. The satchel itself is used to keep any blood from getting on the pages from the filthy robes adorning your broad frame. There will be Time to get cleaned up later. For now, you mentally run over what's to be expected of you in the hours ahead.The love of your life wishes to join you in the sermon. Despite the extreme toll invocation has taken on your very soul, you intend to summon the Goddess of Mercy before dawn. Easing the effort it takes to maintain the summoning is possible through demonstrating your love, affection, intimacy, light, and healing.The rest of the event is entirely up to you. Some previous Fathers or Mothers found it beneficial to provide as little distraction as possible— particularly in times of hardship. Your message is not even as important as its delivery, and what the people can take away from it. You could lead into the sermon with an informal address to the people, and try to gauge the crowd.You are certain that the mere manifestation of Mercy will be enough to get people talking. Guiding the people to interact with Mercy may also be prudent, but these are troubled times. Making at least a rough outline for the sermon would be helpful for something to fall back on.A collective prayer to the Goddess would also be conventional, but you've never been much for tradition. Neither have some bolder past leaders, who preferred to make demonstrations of their faith. Leading a mass healing, promising to extend the day, or aiding your citizens with a bond of warding defense would bode well for public relations. It would also surely kill you in your current state.As a preacher, you're confident in your ability to give an impassioned address. This is nothing you haven't completely improvised before. It's just so rare for you to have the occasion to really prep for something like this. It's no wonder you're feeling aimless and overwhelmed. But the eldest priest of Mercy in your company has been indisposed of. The most veteran staff you have are across the city nursing their own wounds. The other churches all have their own way of doing things, and you are NOT about to go asking the Father of Vengeance for advice on how to lead your own congregation.You're NOT entirely on your own. There's a nagging feeling that you REALLY should have Mercy here before committing to any decisions. She's hardly the Goddess of intelligence or wisdom, but these are Her children, too.>A] Summon Mercy.>B] Do not summon Mercy just yet.>1] Go get cleaned up first. You'll summon Her somewhere with more privacy.>2] You'll wait until sunrise.>C] Write-in any ideas you have out the gate. (Prompts will be provided with specific suggestions for the sermon in subsequent updates).
>>4600347>B] Do not summon Mercy just yet.>1] Go get cleaned up first. You'll summon Her somewhere with more privacy.
>>4600347>>B] Do not summon Mercy just yet.>>1] Go get cleaned up first. You'll summon Her somewhere with more privacy.I like the idea of a mass prayer and then summoning Mercy after it, it will make the people feel like their prayers are finally being answered even if we know the truth. It is more about delivery right? Guide things in such a way that the people feel like THEIR faith is being rewarded. That is what Inertia was missing right? Mercy is the god of empathy so I am sure she will figure out what we are getting at, we need to make the people feel like they have not been abandoned.
>>4600374+1 The addition of their faith being rewarded is a sound idea
>>4600374Isn't that being a bit deceptive? I'm not sure Mercy would like that we would be misleading the congregation. I could see more of a staged hype up for her arrival that challenges Her own lack of faith in Humanity. Let Mercy look out to a sea of hopeful faces that are still worthy of her blessing.
>>4600355>>4600374>>4600402>>4600418>>4600510(Wonderful stuff dudes. Going to reconcile this in the next update. Vote is locked here! Writing now.)
>>4600543Two out of three items on your agenda can be cleared long before calling upon your partner for Her thoughts. You pack up your things, and head off to go clean up. Along the way, you have ample Time to gather your thoughts. Over the next half hour, you make the hike from the gardens...Past the Church of Mercy (Adwin can be heard scrubbing at the floors, which puts a spring in your step)...Through long stone halls...Under countless panes of high stained glass...Past many burnt out candles...Beyond the vacant keep (only one of your priests of Flesh is guarding the gate, but you trust Brother Garrick with this building's defense more than any other man on earth)...Past the keep's main hall (the cooks and tenders are likely all asleep)...Up one flight of stairs...And finally arrive at the washroom adjacent to your great chamber.The adjacent living quarters are normally occupied by two of your priestesses, who are predictably not back from their efforts out in the city. Even if they didn't normally occupy this chamber, you REALLY don't want to linger. There's scarcely an hour left before dawn. A cold washbasin is drawn up, filled with clove and thyme.A lunatic is slightly smiling in your reflection. The blatantly unflattering image are more than just intentional. You took on a significantly less heroic appearance from a demon of interpretation to save your friends lives, but it was about more than just that. The inhuman coloration to your eyes and hair is the work of Agriculture and Mercy (respectively). Hitting over 310lbs has more to do with regular overindulgence, and voluntarily assuming a relationship with the Goddess of excess. The dramatic changes to your image over the last year were welcomed, and you have seized every chance at practicing what you preach. You're a priest of self-acceptance, the father of compassion, and not even last night's exertion was going to keep you down. Confirmation of how radically different you look from your last public sermon certainly won't stop you now.As quickly as you're able, you get yourself cleaned up. A number of plans flit across your mind for how to lead the morning's sermon. The countless lacerations over your hands, arms, and torso are taken care of. The worst of them are properly dressed. The impalement wound through your calf is completely healed through, and the gold scar on it is still stunning. There's little that can be done for the borderline black around your eyes, how scruffy your hair is after working through the night, or for the ruined belt and shirt you had on during all of the day's exertion, but it's fine!(1/2)
>>4600669The priestess of Spirit in your company saw fit to burden you and your previous dungeon-delving companions with enough clothing to outfit you all for ten days. It's in the endless bag you've been carrying, thanks to your alliance with Archdemon Yech. You locate exactly one belt and two sets of clothes that might fit. The belt requires some elbow-grease, but it's a rousing success! The trousers fit! Strong-arming the buttons into place basically gets the job done, but this is also fine!The leader of the Church of Dream was generous enough to entrust you with a set of enchanted robes. They can clean themselves, change color and cut on command, and even adjust for changes in size and texture. You can easily compensate for the mundane, ill-fitting garments you currently have on. A tailor is incredibly low on your priority list.The bottom two fasteners on your shirt decide to give up when you exhale. You'll have someone look after such a trivial matter later today. This is all a matter of honesty. Truth is one of your foremost tenets. And as tempting as it is to make promises to the people, you don't want to mislead anyone.You've been seriously debating the merits of making a false promise to your congregation this morning, but the Goddess of truth would not take kindly to you manipulating the hearts and minds of your people. Especially not in the year 606. This is not the city of wisdom. You could tell almost anything to your congregation, and would have your word taken at face value. You're the lord of honesty. You of ALL men are expected to say precisely what you mean. To fetter your speech with falsehoods in the halls of Mercy's church is the greatest sin you could conceive of.These are also incredibly dark times, and you haven't entertained the notion without giving it some serious consideration. The city is no longer literally on fire, but tensions are running high. Many of your enemies may be sitting in the pews. Many lives have been lost just in the last day, and almost every other element you can conceive of may be working against you. There is a famine. A few thoughts of rotten fruit being pelted at the Father of Temperance for preaching restraint in your current condition isn't too outlandish.So is the dreadful thought of how garish you'd look in nothing but bright yellow-gold. You set a hand to the robes in your possession, and politely ask for the garment to clean itself. All of the blood and grime on the item vanishes. It would be respectable to wear the most formal attire expected of your station for this event. Appearances are important for a man of your (considerable) stature, no matter how much you dislike acknowledging it.(Options in next post.)
>>4600671>A] It wouldn't be out of the question to wear less traditional attire. Gilded black robes have served you nicely this last week. You intend to help your people feel as if they have not been abandoned, while still remaining loyal to your creed of integrity. There's no need to sensationalize an already tragic situation. Especially not when Mercy's faith is already so stressed, you both are grieving, and you mean for this sermon to emphasize the REALITY OF HUMANITY'S PLIGHT.>B] The most flattering garment possible needs to be utilized, and nothing less. You'll go in all black, despite the connotations with the Church of Vengeance. It's what your people are used to seeing you wear. You want the delivery of this sermon to be its focus. Giving the public a better image, and using a few tricks of the eye to mask your weight is TECHNICALLY NOT A LIE. Neither is leading your congregation to believe that Mercy has appeared thanks to their prayers. (Majority vote required. Please be advised that this is in direct violation of your tenets, and Mercy may take VERY poorly to the idea.)>C] You'll suck it up, and wear the excessive ceremonial garments that are expected of the lord of gold. It's hopelessly tacky, and is going to be brutally unflattering, but that's alright. You're going to compensate for it by being as honest with your public as you are with your image. It's NOT GOING TO BE EASY. But by hyping up Mercy's arrival of your own accord, you'll be reinforcing your station, proving to Mercy that you have faith in HER ability, AND will reward legitimate faith in the people. You want to give them hope. Not lies.>D] Write-in. (Please feel free to ask if you have any questions about what attire may be appropriate, or for further clarification on these prompts!)
>>4600672A; though if you lads want a C, we'll give you a C! I do like the thought of leading our people in mass prayer, as it'll help make them feel like apart of a community, and that they aren't alone in the struggles and prayers. Possibly after Mercy is summoned, as I think it'll go nicely as an end to our sermon.
>>4600855It'll certainly be a lovely ending, I mean.
>>4600855>>4600857(Hell yeah bud. Looks like we had a bit of a dropoff in activity tonight, timezones sure are fun kek. I'm going to leave this open til morning! Appreciate you all so much, hope you guys have a great one. I'll be back for another session soon.)
>>4600672>A] It wouldn't be out of the question to wear less traditional attire. Gilded black robes have served you nicely this last week. You intend to help your people feel as if they have not been abandoned, while still remaining loyal to your creed of integrity. There's no need to sensationalize an already tragic situation. Especially not when Mercy's faith is already so stressed, you both are grieving, and you mean for this sermon to emphasize the REALITY OF HUMANITY'S PLIGHT.
>>4600672>>A] It wouldn't be out of the question to wear less traditional attire. Gilded black robes have served you nicely this last week. You intend to help your people feel as if they have not been abandoned, while still remaining loyal to your creed of integrity. There's no need to sensationalize an already tragic situation. Especially not when Mercy's faith is already so stressed, you both are grieving, and you mean for this sermon to emphasize the REALITY OF HUMANITY'S PLIGHT.I also want the collective prayer. In such divisive times any sense of unity is going to be very important. Try to wear something that brings out the relic, perhaps something a bit more special for these trying times? Speaking of the relic, I wonder if we could use it to ally everyone with each other for a short amount of time. Nothing says unity like feeling the pain of your fellow and truly appreciating the efforts and sacrifices of your comrades. We could try this after we summon Mercy if spirits are high so more people would be onboard. Not sure what the limitation on the relic is BUT this is pretty much what we made it for all that time ago back in the abyss. Bringing the hearts of humanity together, to spark hope not in the gods or the future but in each other. Just an idea.
>>4600672I think it we should start out with A and switch to C once Mercy has arrived. Start with humanity's plight then move on to the hope for the future.
>>4600855>>4600857>>4601103>>4601108>>4601192>>4601198(Good morning everyone! Don't see why we can't incorporate all of this! Vote is locked here. Writing now.)
>>4601209https://youtu.be/2XtvRB1mMWoYou're certain that simply thinking of lying isn't a sin— but you're an incredibly pious man, and feel a lot better for murmuring a request for forgiveness.The tattered, slashed, and mistreated robes are shrugged on. One hand is placed to your chest. "Lend me an appearance befitting of the leader of the Church of Mercy. In these divisive, and most trying times, please keep it dignified. Make it a bit more special than gilded black. Something to bring out my Relic."The cut on the garment rapidly changes. The length elongates almost to the floor, to accommodate the prestige of your station. The sleeves take on a substantially more refined shape and style, along with several layers underneath. All of the cloth lends significance to your motions. Along with the additional layers over your frame, a higher, v-neck collar takes form. It's draped with two cloaks that draw the eye down, and emphasize your height rather than your bulk. You grin, and turn slightly to see the fabric properly. It's spectacular.All of the color on you slowly lightens. You're reminded of a diminishing solar flare. Around the collar, sleeves, and hem are deep golds that border on black. The bright promise ring on your left hand is a pop of color next to it. Though you're still holding your Relic, you can tell that the chain and locket will stand out clearly against the darker, and devastatingly tasteful hues. The rest of the item takes on a traditional gold, in gently fading shades. The center of the garment is slightly brighter than the rest, that would compliment the dawn itself.It's all infinitely too refined for anything but a public sermon, the cloaks are fun, the length of your sleeves aren't obstructive, the layers totally conceal that your undershirt and pants don't fit, you probably look twenty pounds lighter, and it's absolutely perfect.A few precious seconds are spent trying to tame the gold through your hair. There's no question in your mind that you don't want to sensationalize this sermon. You'll start with humanity's plight. Grief is still sticking sickly into your heart and mind. In less than a week, you've buried thirty people. Twenty-eight of them were your own clergy. Many people who you'll be seeing today will surely have lost their own friends and family. You want them to know that they are not alone in their struggles or prayers. A collective prayer would be incredibly nice. It could be led by you, to tie into bringing Mercy before your gathering. The Goddess' faith in humanity may have faltered, but you both know that there is hope for the future. Everyone present will hopefully feel the same way.(1/2)
>>4601244This isn't about the Gods, at the end of the day. The people are losing faith in themselves. They don't think that the things they care for will ever reach them. Not now, and certainly not in the future. They're turning to Inertia out of desperation for belonging.You clutch your Relic all the tighter. You've been carrying it nonstop for almost two days now. It's been granting you complete relief from your pain, as in just the last day you've:-Barely slept-Crossed the entirety of Eadric twice (which is no small feat for a man your size)-Performed surgery on the damn floor-Went bouldering all through the night-Incurred countless cuts and lacerations while climbing-Fought hard enough to help your allies take down several dozen enemies without invoking in any given battle-Got shot in your leg-Plenty more that is temporarily escaping you due to aforementioned sleep deprivationNormally your memory is immaculate, but the severity of your sleep deprivation is interfering with your cognition. There's a couple of things you've been forgetting, in all honesty.Mercy explicitly asked you to summon Her just before the sermon. You came up here to do so in a more private capacity. The Goddess of Compassion would absolutely understand if you deviated from your original plan a little, given the severity of recent events. But it's worth thinking about.You also practically forgot that you were still holding onto your Relic. If you want to use it to unite the hearts of your people— or even make the suggestion to the congregation— you need to take it out of your hand. You're a masochist, and should probably test the absence of pain (and what will no doubt be a sharp contrast to it) in private.There's less than an hour left until dawn, and it will take half an hour just to get back to the Church of Mercy. However! You are one of the most efficient workers to have ever lived. The church has been seen to, you got cleaned up, and you've done your damn job. It's just a matter of getting things off the ground. People may already be arriving for the service. You shouldn't linger.(Options in next post.)
>>4601251>A] The pain relief you've been granted has been keeping you sane and able to work. You're getting incredibly dependent on your Relic as a result. This is a problem.>1] Just test taking it out of your hand, and see how bad things are. Immediately resume holding it if things are too grim.>2] You're legitimately frightened that you're going to lose track of the Time or compromise your ability to think if you release your hold on the Relic. Keep it in hand. You'll play the sermon by ear, and see if people are even receptive to the idea of using the item before releasing it from your grasp.>3] Take off the Relic, and wear it around your neck like usual. You'll steel yourself first, and do everything in your power to keep your composure. (Write-ins are welcome.)>B] Summoning Mercy is not something you should do lightly. Especially not with the condition you're in. Your soul literally hurts.>1] Stick to your current plan. It's going to be MUCH HARDER to keep the crowd under control by yourself, but you really like the agenda you've come up with, and Mercy should understand.>2] Summon Mercy right now. She can do whatever it was that She wanted to with the church itself before making an appearance. It won't be nearly as dramatic, but you are willing to accommodate Her former request.>C] Write-in (any additional comments, plans, information, or whatever else you might want to do in this rare moment of respite.)
>>4601252(Had some serious difficulty posting, don't know why the instructions got cut off.)>Please choose one option from A, AND one option from B.
>>4601252>A] The pain relief you've been granted has been keeping you sane and able to work. You're getting incredibly dependent on your Relic as a result. This is a problem.>>1] Just test taking it out of your hand, and see how bad things are. Immediately resume holding it if things are too grim.>B] Summoning Mercy is not something you should do lightly. Especially not with the condition you're in. Your soul literally hurts.>1] Stick to your current plan. It's going to be MUCH HARDER to keep the crowd under control by yourself, but you really like the agenda you've come up with, and Mercy should understand.
>>4601255>>4601266(Locking the unanimous vote for A1 and B1! Writing now.)
>>4601429Mercy should understand how hard you're trying to set things right. Delaying her appearance until later in the sermon is not only more reasonable. This should aid both of you in spreading the good word, and with instilling hope. The locket in hand was Her gift to you, too. This is your Relic. It was your hope when you first reshaped it that you could bring the hearts of humanity together.You still hope that you can do so now. Your Relic thankfully has only a few limitations. The most cumbersome is that it can only perform one function at a Time.Deep, red indentations are in the palm of your hand from clutching onto the item for hours on end, through combat, extreme exertion, and even surgery. There's no denying your dependency on the Gods to function, but the fact that you've come to rely on your Relic just to work unfettered is alarming beyond belief. You have to at least try to see if you're capable of getting by without it.No one is nearby. The door is closed. The makeshift catch-and-release system you devised with its chain is unwound. You gently set your Relic down on the small table beside the wash bin, and preemptively grab a washcloth to bite into. The intent is to immediately resume holding it if things are too grim, so you keep your palm poised directly over the locket (just to be safe).You release your Relic.A battering ram might as well hit every joint in your body. Your breath catches, and with it is increased awareness of just how tight your chest feels. Explosive pain is all throughout your legs and shield arm, and pleasure all wrapped up into it. An ache in your core and throughout every limb has you want to pass out on the spot. There's no fewer than three dozen cuts on your arms, hands, and torso. Despite each one being cleaned and dressed, it's their pleasant stinging that tips you over the edge.Rather than scream, or have any sort of sane reaction, you stand for a long minute with your nails digging into the wood underhand. Relishing it. Leaning into it. The washcloth is gently set aside. It feels like you must have a fever. The degree of exhaustion on you from lack of sleep has a sharp sting in your dry eyes, pressure in your skull, and a longing to rest that should have been heeded over one week ago. It's a miracle that you're alive.The way you're breathing is absolutely indecent. The desire to moan or draw out more is almost irresistible. Every wound is begging for you to draw out more sensation from it.Purely out of terror of wasting a single further second, your Relic is taken back into your hold. The pain stops instantly.You gasp, and breathe hard for several moments. Your pupils remain dilated. The sweat on your brow, and the erratic way you've been fighting not to scream lingers with an intense need to get back to the pain.(1/2)
>>4601482Frustration has you pull clean, cold water into a separate wash basin. Splashing your face with it barely helps. It's also sharply intense, and nearly as refreshing as hurting for several beautiful moments. It's taking you way longer to calm down that usual. You're certain that the lack of sleep, and the spiritual pain that your Relic can't relieve is mostly to blame.There's no way you can risk being seen like this in front of your congregation. There would be no end to it.>A] But you're going to try anyways. Use the remaining few minutes at your disposal to try take off your Relic, and keep it together. You're certain that you have the resilience to control your response to this on your own. (A VERY HIGH ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED. A major success may make it easier for you to manage your response to pain in the future! Be advised that a catastrophic failure may run the risk of you rushing to your sermon, or worse. As always, write-ins may provide additional bonuses.)>B] Don't risk anything on a day as important as today. Keep your Relic in hand, discard the notion of using it during the sermon, and get going. You have just a little over half an hour left.>C] Write-in (anything additional you would like to add is welcome.)
>>4601484>B] Don't risk anything on a day as important as today. Keep your Relic in hand, discard the notion of using it during the sermon, and get going. You have just a little over half an hour left.
>>4601484>>B] Don't risk anything on a day as important as today. Keep your Relic in hand, discard the notion of using it during the sermon, and get going. You have just a little over half an hour left.It was worth a try, maybe save it for another sermon.
>>4601484>B] Don't risk anything on a day as important as today. Keep your Relic in hand, discard the notion of using it during the sermon, and get going. You have just a little over half an hour left.If we could safely practice existing with the pain before the sermon and hold the relic during the sermon I'd go for it.
>>4601484Very intrigued by A, but this sermon is too important not to have B. I'd love to test our resilience, but I also don't wish to give our congregation a heart attack when we do it either.
>>4601509(That's absolutely an option.)>>4601489>>4601500>>4601520(With the insurance that you'll stop the effort before running out of time (it will give a small malus in addition to your other bonuses and maluses), would you guys want to utilize these few minutes to test your limits with your Relic? Or just go straight to the church? I'll assume anyone who doesn't reply of course is sticking purely to B as written, but wanted to stress the potential for the opportunity.)
>>4601528(Hadn't initially considered that you guys would want to do this now just to try and build on the skill, seems obvious in hindsight lol. But yeah I'll leave this open for another thirty (30) minutes just to be safe.)
>>4601528Can't risk any malus, this too important. Just go straight to the sermon.
>>4601528If we could have done it with no malus, sure. But I don't want us going into this with any more negatives. So just B.
>>4601528The temptation is strong, I will admit. If the other anons are on board, I would be willing to. If not, I do understand fully, as this sermon is very important not just for us, but for our people as well. I can understand restraint being exercised here. We can always try it after our sermon, and before we rest.
>>4601489>>4601500>>4601509>>4601520>>4601539>>4601560>>4601572(Appreciate your patience guys! Vote is locked here. Writing now!)
>>4601636It was worth a try. You'll save the event for another sermon. This event is infinitely too important for you to risk adding ANY extra difficulties. Testing your limits can maybe come later today. You have placed to be, and not a second to waste. The satchel, sword, and shield are safely left in the grand hall. There's no need for any of it where you're going.Back downstairs.Through the keep's main hall. (No one is in sight, but you hear footsteps down the corridor.)Into a crowded hallway! There's a whopping three women from your castle's residence.One particularly polite, fairly young, and battle-hardened tender realizes you're headed their way first. "Good morning, Father Anscham!" She elbows the woman next to her.Her company all whip their heads around towards you. Everyone's got deep bags under their eyes, but look delighted to see you. A choir of, "good morning, Father Anscham!" follows from the other two."Good morning." You don't repress your grin. The brightest of the bunch is still a few minutes too early for her greeting. "Odd to see anyone heading this way, at this hour."They're all wearing the nicest clothes they possess, have tidied up, and aren't equipped for work in the slightest. Every last one of the women seems particularly amused by your comment. The eldest of the group has the start of gray in her done-up hair, which she motions to smooth back as you all walk. "It's not every day that there's an event to attend. I hope we haven't kept you."A slight nod of your head, and you politely excuse yourself.There's chattering at your back, which you pray can only be good things. Silence carries through the rest of the vacant keep until you get to the exit to the building. Brother Garrick is still at his post.The colossal priest of Flesh calls out in his husky voice as you stride towards the gate. "Morning, Father Anscham!""Good morning, Brother Garrick. You won't be attending....?"You're only teasing, but he seems bothered. "Another Time. Best of luck."The man held off a siege for you almost on his own less than two days past. It's understandable that he wouldn't want to leave the post for anything. "I'm certain that Flesh would look kindly on your commitment to the keep's protection. You know Mercy and I certainly do. Please look after yourself."A sniff. Hopefully he isn't coming down with a cold. "Yeah."As you head for the door, a call is made after you."Thanks for getting Oz out of there."The two of them had to have talked when Brother Osmund came to help at the gate. You saved his fellow priest of action from overwhelming odds in a prison break. "I wish I could have helped sooner.""You did plenty. Go on!" Brother Garrick motions to shoo you away, which you eagerly oblige.Past many burnt out candles, and under countless panes of high stained glass, you catch the last of the night. Dawn should be breaking any moment.(1/2)
>>4601742After hurrying down many long, stone halls, there are voices coming from the Church of Mercy. It's music to your ears. In addition to what must be one hundred people quietly chattering, three of your priestesses' nearly identical voices carry across the air. The triplets in your clergy— Agnes, Susan, and Tilda Willoughby— have gone to absurd lengths over the course of their career to be a safe, sane, and neutral party in your employ. Their loyalty is almost without compare, yet they get no end of trouble from your fellow clergy for using a lighter hand in war and chaos. It is precisely thanks to their efforts that you have three capable, respectable sets of hands to help today. They're directing people towards seats, and reassuring everyone that the service will begin shortly. Maintaining order.Sister Tilda's bright, and slightly less professional demeanor is further reassurance. She's quietly talking to a few people nearest to the front door. Helping to remind everyone present that the Church of Vengeance cannot set foot within your church's high halls. That there's no danger, so long as everyone keeps their hands to themselves and remains civil. That everyone present is under the care of the Mother and Father of protection. That this is the city of defense. That their service will be honored, and respected.They're all a blessing, and you want to do your clergy proud.There's only a few minutes left to spare.(Options in next post.)
>>4601744>A] For your priestesses to be so calm and orderly, Adwin must have finished cleaning up the church before they arrived. You'll do their diligence justice, and make an equally professional entrance. Come in through a side wing, and get right up to the altar. You won't wait to address everyone. Don't give any hecklers the opportunity to rile up the crowd. Begin preaching right away. THIS is the time for it!>1] You're keeping this beyond by-the-book. Give the most impassioned speech you can muster. You're going to stun these people into silence.>2] Tie in your appearance to the start of the speech, to at least deal with any ruffians who might try to yell over you or disrupt the proceedings otherwise.>B] Come in through the main entrance. Spend a minute sizing up the congregation as you walk up to the altar. The Church of Mercy is massive, and bright enough at dawn that you may have some difficulty seeing to the back of the crowd. It might be best to give everyone a minute to process just how extreme the change in your appearance is, too.>C] Enter through a side wing, but wait a moment to get behind the altar. Make an informal address to everyone present before you begin.>1] Do not even acknowledge how you look. Keep the subject off of you personally, and make this about the audience.>2] You're sick and tired of having to deal with it, but tie in the change in your image with how many sacrifices have been made to get to where you are today. It should be as fine an opener as any.>D] Write-in. (While there aren't too many other ways you can enter, feel free to write in as much or as little you specifically want to say or do upon entering the building. You'll have a few minutes before dawn. Your QM will keep things tasteful and respectable in any event.)
>>4601746>B] Come in through the main entrance. Spend a minute sizing up the congregation as you walk up to the altar. The Church of Mercy is massive, and bright enough at dawn that you may have some difficulty seeing to the back of the crowd. It might be best to give everyone a minute to process just how extreme the change in your appearance is, too.It will also give the impression that we are walking our from among their own ranks, this is pretty hype.
>>4601773+1, we'll have to thank the Sisters and Adwin after this for helping us out.
>>4601746>B] Come in through the main entrance. Spend a minute sizing up the congregation as you walk up to the altar. The Church of Mercy is massive, and bright enough at dawn that you may have some difficulty seeing to the back of the crowd. It might be best to give everyone a minute to process just how extreme the change in your appearance is, too.
>>4601773>>4601780>>4601925>>4601958(Alright! Unanimous vote for B is locked! Writing now.)
>>4601976https://youtu.be/rBS-KTbgT8QThe gilded stone and majestic double doors at the front of the Church of Mercy are calling to you. The beat of your heart easily outpaces your rapid steps as you stride over to the entrance, and swing both doors wide open.Several hundred people fill every single seat of the packed pews, and simultaneously turn at the creak in the entrance.As you move to close the doors behind you, the chatter redoubles nearest to the gilded altar. High peaks of gilded, physical worship towards Mercy reach for the sun in all of their beauty.There's a few daring individuals on the second floor, leaning over the metal railings below gradually brightening stained glass. The vaulted ceilings echo with their commotion.The center aisle has been cleared. A few people are standing in side wings, admiring the aureate paintings and statues that adorn the halls of your holiest institution. At the noise, they also file in. Leaning around high pillars, the number of eyes in the massive chamber are even greater than what you first expected.From floor-to-ceiling, the entire building is practically sparkling in the last of the evening's light. The church of the sun will be practically blinding in a matter of moments, but even in the low light it makes your heart sing. You've never seen a turnout this enormous.Sister Tilda rushes over, with her daisy-yellow skirts all aflutter. A nervous smile beams up at you from the fit young priestess. "Father Anscham!" Her gaze flits to the two other Sisters much further down the church for help. She whips her head back towards you and mouths, 'you look great!'The eldest of them, Sister Agnes, seizes the moment. "It was my idea to leave the doors closed, Father Anscham! Please excuse the impropriety!"You shake your head at her, and look for something to prop the entrance open with. Tilda helps you locate two substantial wedges of stone nearby, and that's that. You head down the aisle from the very rear of the congregation, and slowly assume a more mellow expression.Countless faces in the crowd are familiar to you. The seats closest to the door have at least ten covert priests of the Church of Vengeance sitting around in plainclothes. James is among them, in the most normal attire you've seen the man in in all your life. No codpiece. No ridiculous hat. The middle aged minstrel has his hands folded in a mockery of prayer, and winks at you just as you realize you're staring at his face.Further down the way are many of the men and women you've saved in days past. Some survivors of the riots and flame look like they haven't done so much as sat down since yesterday morning's fights in the street. Mixed in with them are the youngest of the impromptu guards you met up with last night, who retook the high walls of your city's outskirts.(1/2)
>>4602052There's even more faces among them who are complete strangers. Plenty of them are confused. Several look outright offended. There's hushed whispers from neighbor to neighbor, all the way up to the front of the aisle. Everyone stays shockingly civil. There's no outbursts. Either they've been threatened, or the sheer amount of confidence you're carrying yourself with is quieting any protests or debasement.A smirk crosses your features at the end of the lengthy procession. The elderly man who's confession you heard last night is sitting opposite Adwin. They're both front-and-center, just on opposing sides of the aisle. Your boy has completely cleaned himself up, but made the shroud over his face significantly more opaque. There's no nod towards you. He knows how important this is to you, and likely doesn't want to risk giving anyone fuel for further gossip. The artist must be oblivious to the sinner at his side, though.The veteran with half of his face missing confessed last night to inviting heathens and cultists into his home. The traitor said he would be here today, after accepting your invitation to the sermon— and by all the Gods, did he keep his word. The only people sitting even remotely closer are a few elderly women, and several veterans who must also have impaired hearing.A handful of young children can be seen with their parents in the balconies above. They, along with the entire rest of the congregation falls silent as you reach the front of the altar.It is the dawn of war, and Eadric's defender has made himself known.Your people will remember that the leader of the Church of Mercy has returned with the rising sun.>A] Step up to the altar. Invite everyone to return a traditional greeting with something conventional. "Blessed be the day." Then launch into your sermon. (You're not going to sensationalize anything, but you really want to make this memorable.)>B] Remain in front of the altar. Nerves are not going to get the best of you. You can address the public, and keep your cool. "Good morning." (Feel free to specify if you want to make the address to "everyone," "my children," etc.) Then open with some discourse about why you're all here today.>C] Write-in. (Feel free to add virtually any details you want, or just the gist of what you'd like to convey. Your QM is happy to take direction such as "touch on the war effort without being too grimdark," "open with something lighter to try and set everyone's nerves at ease," "don't sound pompous," etc.)
>>4602054A; something lighter, to ease the nerves. We can touch onto the war effort and Inertia, without be being too grimdark. Talk of the struggles we face, not just individually, but as a city, and a nation. We can interweave Mercy into the sermon as it goes on.
>>4602088+1 but I would like us to move in front of the altar at some point so we can explain our appearance. It would also put us in a good position to invoke Mercy on top of the altar and gently help her down, with golden stairs if necessary.
>>4602108I like that kind of imagery, just make sure we move from behind the alter to in front of it with the confidence befitting of our station.
>>4602088>>4602096>>4602108>>4602117(This is really nice guys. Super super nice. This one will probably take me a good while to write up to my standards. For obvious reasons, when I say the vote is locked I seriously cannot incorporate additional contributions into the post after this point! Writing now.)
>>4602179https://youtu.be/TOxJpPiFe0kThe morning light hits every window in the Church of Mercy as you step up to the altar. Color from thousands of pieces of painted glass reflects onto weary faces. The platform you move to stand on puts you heads and shoulders above every sitting citizen before you. Most people know you as soft-spoken, and gentle even at the worst of times.The last of your nerves were left at the door. With your hands trailing over the gilded altar for only a moment, you keep your head held high before your audience. All the melody and resonance in your voice projects with the heart of a preacher, as you call out to the first congregation of your return. "Blessed be the day!"Several hundred souls have their eyes to the bright gold of your frame. The objects of worship at your back. The holy Relic around your neck. All the rays of the sun peeling in through high windows from all around.Several hundred voices reply, "blessed be the light."The entire building resonates with each blessed word for many long moments after. You could sing. It's one of the loveliest things you've ever heard.Only after the last of their voices have fallen do you speak once more. A sincere smile paints your features. You broadly gesture towards a stunning beam of sunshine that's pouring down into the aisle just in front of where you stand. "I was beginning to think morning would never come!"A few nervous laughs agree somewhere in the back. Priests of Vengeance. Through many more voices in the center of the gathering. Men and women who lost families, fought, and nearly died to protect your city just hours past."She's even more stunning than I recall. What a relief. Even our days have felt dark as of late."You pause, just to give everyone a moment to reflect.No interruptions.The pitch and tone of your voice softens considerably, while projecting all the way to the back of the building. "Which is why I have never been more grateful as I am today. Not only have we all risen to greet the dawn! Not only have we been blessed by the light of Mercy! But we all are here to witness this morning together."Your smile falls. "The efforts of every last man, woman, and child here today is why we have been able to greet the dawn. I cannot hope to know all of your stories in one thousand ages— because not a SOUL here can EVER claim to know another as we know ourselves! Those sitting to your left and to your right may be a sister, a neighbor, or a friend. We cannot hope to understand the story of their lives in the same way that THEY know it! But."Your eyes fall straight to the man who confessed to you this morning— who gives you a grim stare— before you sweep your view down the entire aisle. There must be two hundred people lined end-to-end in their seats. Most are looking to you with serious self-pity in their eyes.(1/6)
>>4602448You've never sounded more convicted in all your life. "We still try. Every last one of us has known the tragedy of mankind. From the walls that have been built and REBUILT by our family's hands, to the toil of our hands in EVERY field, to the burdens that our mothers bear, AND TO EVERY LAST SOUL who has STOOD UP to FIGHT for what they believe in: you should be commended."It's enough to make you cry, but you keep your voice as steady as your message. "The challenges we all face may be different. But we are all enduring. We are all able to look to our neighbors, to our loved ones, and to our own reflections to KNOW with ALL our hearts of the HUMAN CONDITION."Another long moment passes in silence.You move to get in front of the altar. "This is the city of empathy! Is it not?!"A few particularly impassioned cries of, "YEAH!" from several people in the center and front aisles.You get in front of the altar, and shout back at them, "I am still STUNNED that no one has thrown any rotten fruit at me! With the state of affairs?! Have you SEEN how ill-fitting my appearance is?!"There's some serious laughter throughout the building. You holler to the loudest of them. "They have! It's a miracle! Mercy be praised!"You wait a good minute or two for most of the laughter to die down.Your smile persists. "Truly. Thank you all for behaving so civilly. This is precisely what I am speaking of. I can't begin to imagine how upset many of you must be with me, with our nation, and even with each other. And rightfully so."Complete silence takes over the building, while you grimace. "As the lord of compassion— I wish to practice what I preach. I did not preach at you all just to make an excuse for my weight. You all know that this is a demonstration, but you did not come here knowing what, or why, or how I would go about sharing my tenets."A gesture to yourself. "This is a demonstration of self-acceptance. Not denial, and never surrender."Some confused glances go your way. Those who get it are at least slightly amused. You've got their interest, and gladly explain. "MY personal demons are ones I can not only confront! I don't have much choice but to share them all with you—" Some more agreeable laughter. You pause a moment, scowling, and continue. "—so you all can imagine that I am aware of what I face. I can accept the choices, mistakes, and every other difficult challenge that comes my way! I can demonstrate empathy towards myself, even if there is no guarantee that others may do the same in my place!"The laughter completely stops. It gets them thinking significantly harder.(2/6)
>>4602450You make another broad gesture towards everyone present. There's instantly uncomfortable shifting from the crowd, while you explain further. "The choices you have made, the mistakes you have lived with— whether you've wanted to, or not— and every other challenge you have OVERCOME to join us all here TODAY is PROOF that you— yes, you! All of you! That EVERY single soul gathered here today is JUST as capable of compassion! I do not ask that you love whoever is sitting beside you. I don't even ask that you love yourself."You bring your hands together, and firmly call out to the congregation. "That's far and away the most difficult thing I could ask any of you for. Don't worry. We are all simply gathered here today in the hope of hearing something worthwhile. Possibly even just to see the Church of Mercy at dawn. And I can't blame you."You can't help yourself, and gesture to another stunning window beside one of the high, vaulted arches. "She's beautiful. I do not need to remind you all that the doors of my home are to remain open. But no, I do not speak of the building. I speak of empathy. I speak of light. I speak of compassion, and the emotion that resides in us all."Another long pause. This is too important."If you all please, I would like to propose something incredibly unusual."There's some excited murmuring through the crowd.With a smirk, you promise, "She will exceed your expectations."The chatter stops.You bow your head, and clasp your hands. "I'll ask Her to join us once we've finished."The outburst of excitement from every pew threatens to become an uproar within a single second.You lift your head, and call out clearly. "Let us pray! Not for the Goddess. Not for our church. Not for the theocracy, and not for the war!"The crowd quiets down."Let us pray for our souls. For the hearts of humankind. Let us pray to one day feel as if we have a sense of belonging— and to know beyond any doubt that we are not alone. Not so long as we live. Let us begin. Merciful Goddess..."The crowd follows you in a formal prayer, repeating after every pause in your speech. "Merciful Goddess." There's a few people obviously mumbling, simply mouthing the words, or who can't follow along. The simple fact that almost all of them are trying to make the effort is enormously encouraging.(3/6)
>>4602451"...we ask that you listen. Listen to the struggles that we face as a city, and as a nation. Listen to the thanks we give to our family and friends. Listen to those of us who have had no one to turn to, but have spoken out today nonetheless. Listen to your people. Listen to our efforts. Listen to our sacrifices. WE are listening! We hear the spark in our fellow man. We hear the fighting in our streets. We hear our family and friends. We hear those who have had no one to turn to, and who have spoken out today! We are tired of division. There is no place for darkness in the city of Mercy. We pray to hear of hope from. Each. Other.""...from each other."It takes everything you have to keep it together, but you firmly close the prayer. "The Gods are Merciful."Every last soul in the building that you can see gladly repeats it. "The Gods are Merciful."Lifting your head, and unclasping your hands, you call out once more to the church. "I would like to ask that you all remain in your seats, and respectfully keep your voices down."Nervous energy stirs through the crowd like a live wire. There's plenty of excited chatter despite your request, which is amplified both by the building's natural acoustics, and the sheer volume of people.You stand, and patiently wait, and make it clear that you aren't moving a muscle until everyone quiets down.They eventually do.It's going to hurt, you know it's going to hurt, you tense, and turn, and brace yourself against the side of the altar. Both eyes closed. Deep breath. There's no need for you to speak in order to invoke your partner, but you want to be clear. The tone of your voice rings out in an instant with divinity, light, and the impression of gold at the back of the gathering's mind. "Mercy. We are gathered here today in respect, and devotion. We wish to share in all that you represent. The Father would like to share this beautiful morning with its Mother. Would you please join us?"You can't see, let alone think. A surge of light, and comfort, and an incredibly soft finger that's pressed just slightly up against your lips halts any noise from escaping. There's a pain within your very soul that should kill you where you stand, but YOU practice what you preach. You stand. You endure. You look to the altar, and to the form that begins to rise from its surface as if She were made of the sun itself.(4/6)
>>4602452https://youtu.be/TnoyRnGmnlIA manifestation of your Goddess makes a serious show out of suddenly brightening the day. Every ray of light in the building redoubles in heat and intensity for a split second. Simultaneously, a stunning, elegant, and shapely female form rises in liquid metal from the altar before you. Your white knuckles part from the surface in an instant. No matter how much pain you're in, you can breathe deeply, and look to the love of your life without any fear in your heart.She takes on a more human appearance with each passing moment. A shroud of immaculate gold-thread forms into a tasteful, modest dress that is entirely befitting of the Goddess of Temperance. Her sun-kissed skin is only visible across Her gorgeous face. No grieving veils. No illusions. Her smile dances with speckles of light, which is cast from the gown now shrouding a mother's form. Honey-coated eyes, copper-flushed cheeks, and the love of your life smiles sweetly at you. There's a bob to Mercy's sunflower-yellow curls, as She lets you take Her gently by the hand.The two of you create a gilded staircase from the altar for Her to rise onto. Her significant height almost rivals yours, though She stands far above anyone else in the room before descending from the altar. Her gown has a train, which further emphasizes each step.She comes around towards your side, and practically hangs off of your arm. There's a peck on your cheek that puts a skip in your heart. You try not to look too mortified, as a Goddess whispers in your ear, "good morning, Richard."You masterfully keep your composure, and give her the biggest smile you can muster. She obviously wants to introduce Herself, and you don't mind giving the sun incarnate a little spotlight.The crowd is slack-jawed, and utterly speechless.Grace incarnate turns towards the city of Mercy, and calls out in a melodious, otherworldly tone. "Mankind is Merciful."A few people look like they're going to cry. Several women break down completely. Mercy politely excuses Herself from hanging off of your arm, and leads you gently by the hand to walk up to the nearest lost soul. It's an elderly woman, who's completely beside herself.Your partner kneels down beside her, and doesn't do anything to overwhelm the woman any further. Save for calling out to everyone present in the same light, and gentle tone, "We see the hands of Mercy on each and every soul gathered here today. You all have reached out to one another in the absence of Our light. Our love. Our hope."The plural isn't pretentious in the slightest. She's literally referring to all of mankind's compassion. Most of the audience isn't going to pick up on the fact that She's making a dig at the people's inability to aid one another, too. It's probably for the best.(5/6)
>>4602457A deeply alarming thought crosses your mind in the same instant. Mercy IS the embodiment of all of mankind's emotion. Parsing the way She speaks to you has been an ongoing ordeal for the entirety of your relationship. The two of you didn't even discuss if She's ever done anything like this before, let alone what you both might say. The common man is going to have a wildly difficult Time of making heads or tails of Mercy's speech at best.Your partner is also visibly overwhelmed by how many people are present. She agreed to this appearance wholeheartedly, and insisted on joining you, but She may have not realized how taxing it would be to have several hundred individuals focused on Her.>A] Politely ask Mercy to join you back at the altar, and for you both to resume the sermon together. You'll help to explain to the crowd anything particularly obtuse. She won't take offense, and would probably be delighted by the suggestion. This is a DEITY, and you are not about to let anyone try to drag Her down. Conversely, you don't want Mercy to get too carried away, as well.>B] Let the Goddess of Compassion mingle for a few minutes. Back Her out the SECOND She seems to be getting too overwhelmed. No one's to blame for how delicate your partner is, and this would be a good opportunity to stress the merits of overextending empathy. The Gods do not need to be literally put on a pedestal, and this IS STILL the church of restraint. You could even segue into the changes you and Mercy wanted to instate in the near future.>C] Write-in. (To say that this is a complex situation would be an understatement. Once more, please feel free to give any suggestions or guides to your QM on how to handle things. Even if it's in general terms, I'll be more than happy to work with it! E.g. additional subjects to segue into the sermon, things to watch out for in the crowd, things to watch out for in Mercy, etc.)
>>4602464>B] Let the Goddess of Compassion mingle for a few minutes. Back Her out the SECOND She seems to be getting too overwhelmed. No one's to blame for how delicate your partner is, and this would be a good opportunity to stress the merits of overextending empathy. The Gods do not need to be literally put on a pedestal, and this IS STILL the church of restraint. You could even segue into the changes you and Mercy wanted to instate in the near future.
>>4602508(Appreciate you man, and thank you all for the phenomenal kick off to the thread! You can expect 1-2+ updates Mondays-Thursdays. I usually manage more, but just wanted to give you all a heads up since more likely than not it will be around that number tomorrow. I'll still be around to answer any questions.)
>>4602464>B] Let the Goddess of Compassion mingle for a few minutes. Back Her out the SECOND She seems to be getting too overwhelmed. No one's to blame for how delicate your partner is, and this would be a good opportunity to stress the merits of overextending empathy. The Gods do not need to be literally put on a pedestal, and this IS STILL the church of restraint. You could even segue into the changes you and Mercy wanted to instate in the near future.Have us be vigilant while doing this though. We don't actually know how vulnerable she is to getting hurt while invoked.
>>4602464B, and when she gets overwhelmed, A. Though showing Mercy overwhelmed and emotionally vulnerable will do wonders to giving the people empathy for the Goddess of Emotion, and may make them consider her plight in a more humane way. It'll certainly give them food for thought, and will hopefully allow them to be more considerate of not only themselves and their community, but their Goddess as well. There is a limit though, and I'd like to practice some restraint if she does feel too overwhelmed. Emotions are our strength, not a weakness. The same with kindness, and empathy.>>4602546I do support being vigilant, but I feel like I should mention this. Attacking the Goddess of Protection, in front of hundreds of worshippers and the Lord of Defense, in the heart of her Church? I know these cultists have a deathwish, but even that has it's limits.
>>4602464>>B] Let the Goddess of Compassion mingle for a few minutes. Back Her out the SECOND She seems to be getting too overwhelmed. No one's to blame for how delicate your partner is, and this would be a good opportunity to stress the merits of overextending empathy. The Gods do not need to be literally put on a pedestal, and this IS STILL the church of restraint. You could even segue into the changes you and Mercy wanted to instate in the near future.I agree with the other anons, back out if things get too much.
>>4602508>>4602546>>4602631>>4602709>>4602712(Thank you very much for all of your patience guys! As I expected, my morning was packed with stuff and I'm having to run off to work. The vote will remain open until I'm back so I can make the next update to my standards. ETA 8-9 hours. Really appreciate you all, thanks again for the stellar turnout for the thread! Hope you all are having a great day too.)
>>4603000Same to you, man. Good luck with the stuff happening in the real world!Also holy shit, CHECKED.
>>4603000Same. Certainly hope you have a nice day!
>>4603067>>4603124(Thanks so much guys. It was insanely hectic but I made it!)>>4602508>>4602546>>4602631>>4602709>>4602712(Locking the vote here! I will be home likely in less than an hour. Locking the vote early so I have some time to brainstorm beforehand. B then A, and noting all these write ins for sure! I'll let you guys know as soon as I can get to writing.)
>>4603346(Home at last and ready to rock. Writing now!)
>>4603436https://youtu.be/Kwvzd3tkTRkThe Goddess of emotion flits all the love in Her eyes across the massive crowd. They have all eyes on Her, while Mercy gets to Her feet. She breaks immediately down into tears, is overwhelmed before She's even started, and smiles all through it. The elderly woman at the Goddess' side slowly gathers her own composure, while a VERY human looks passes wildly around the church. Your home. Your family.Taking both of your hands in Her own, Mercy finds the right words to say. "I am sorry."If a pin dropped at the front door, you'd hear it as loudly as the beat of your heart. The hold you keep on a pair of the loveliest hands in all the world is kept all the tighter.No one dares to breathe.It's downright painful to try and process just how much emotion is moving across Her fair features. Mercy continues, couldn't look more overjoyed, has anger all through Her sorrow, and it's clear to every last person that can see Her that She's feeling for every last one of you here."For every heart that has not healed. For every falsehood ever spoken. For every drop of blood that Our fingers could not wipe away. For your tears, your sorrow, your pain, and for each and every moment you have felt We were apart. I'm sorry. And I will never ask for any one of you to forgive me."She's going to completely collapse within seconds of seeing so many people gathered. Nervous laughter, and immediate horror mixes into Her symphony of sentimentality.You gently take Mercy against your side, and lead Her back to the altar. She legitimately can't keep it together, and leans hard against your shoulder the moment you both come to a stand still. Her shoulders are wrecked with sobs, while that lovely, horrible, incredible smile persists. It's shredding your own heart to pieces.There's plenty of people sitting in the crowd who look as if they're entertaining the prospect of killing the Goddess where She stands. Many more are fighting with themselves to not shout, or to get to their feet and demand explanations. Plenty more are crying, or look like they can't possibly have hoped to see something like this before they've died.It's a lot to take in. Too much to leave them without any guidance. There's flecks of gold surfacing and sticking fast to your hands, but they're not budging from supporting your partner for an instant. The sheer intensity of the invocation is still intertwined with your speech. You mean every word as you call out to your congregation. "The Mother of CLEMENCY has demonstrated a valuable lesson: that the EXTENT to which we feel is JUST as important as our emotions themselves! Mankind possesses something which the Gods THEMSELVES lack! Something that I have failed to demonstrate to you all, and that Mercy cannot purely embody DESPITE it being an integral part of Her being! Do you know what this strength is?!"(1/2)
>>4603532Hundreds of fascinated, and desperately curious faces look out to you in the dawn."I speak of RESTRAINT!" Mercy's sobs are all mixed into a broad smile, as She beams up to you. You smile straight back at Her, before turning once more to the crowd. "Respecting our limitations, and extending our hearts towards those we love! For KINDNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS! Emotion is our STRENGTH!"A little mist comes to your eyes, while the Goddess at your side dries Her face. She follows right through with the message. "How you spend each and every moment is more than a choice. The way that the world impacts your mind, body, and soul is what shapes your hearts. Mankind strays towards what will heal their harm."Her smile wilts. "To do so is the greatest kindness anyone could hope for. You all have made the choices that seemed best to you. Each, and every moment. Even if your choices have brought you pain... even if you have chosen to not act. That is what has brought you all here today. Not to wait. Not to listen. Not to learn. We are all feeling for ourselves. For each other. For those we hate, those we love, and those we have yet to even know."Most of the angriest faces in the crowd are chastised enough to stay their hands and comments.You're watching them like a hawk, but speak to everyone who cares to listen. So far as you can tell, every last soul in the building is hanging on yours and Mercy's every word. "It is human to suffer. But we must FIGHT the temptation to WALLOW in our sorrow! Do not spurn your grief."You're not going to cry in front of several hundred people. You choke down the wave of agony, and look to your lover. "Do not turn from joy."She gives you a broad smile, and turns towards the crowd. "Your Father is right. There is beauty to be had in temperance."There's enough verve in your voice to fill an entire church. "DO NOT BE MISTAKEN! We cannot out-think our emotion! We should not repress them, and we should certainly never deny them to ourselves! But we— and I speak of ALL of mankind— WE possess the incredible ability to dictate our own actions! We can harness our strength of CHARACTER! We can MAKE THE MOST of the HUMAN CONDITION!"You lower your tone, and let its divinity carry your message. "Not just for our Goddess. Not just for our community. Not even just for ourselves."You're choking up. It's alright."We can all try to be more considerate."The deity beside you shares a pained smile, as you take a minute to compose yourself.Looking back out towards the crowd under the morning sun, you're greeted by thoughtful faces. They're actually thinking about what you and a Goddess have said.(Options in next post.)
>>4603535>A] That's a DAMN FINE NOTE TO END ON. Close out the sermon.>1] Keep it incredibly brief. This is the year 606, and it's actually a miracle no one has spoken out of turn yet. "The Gods are Merciful.">2] Add a little more embellishment. (Write-in anything else you want to add. General direction for your QM is totally fine!)>B] You would like to touch a little more on some HOPE FOR MANKIND. You've done a LOT of research in the last two weeks alone, and would like to incorporate some of your findings. It's the main reason you went into your dungeons, after all.>1] Self-acceptance is what saved Adwin from an eternity of torment. Really drive home the theme of empathy towards oneself.>2] Giving others a chance is what led to you befriending Praxilyos. Empathy towards others has incredible merits for closing the gap between mankind (and demons too, but you'll omit that for now).>3] The only reason you survived your encounter with the demon of agony was because of Harvey's wisdom. Preach a little more about the importance of knowing when to NOT get caught up in emotion.>4] Aldreda's plight brought out the best in your unruliest friend, helped bridge Harriet's and Sullivan's distance, got Walter some respect from the Father of Knowledge, and has challenged almost everything you knew about demons of Spirit. She's a testament to what a difference one person can make on a community. Share the lessons you've learned from the brief time you two shared together.>C] Closing out the sermon by touching on the differences between mankind, Gods, and demons would not only highlight the most major revelation you made from your work beneath the Church of Mercy. It can serve as a cautionary tale to any enemies in the audience, humble those who are struggling to keep to themselves, and grant hope to the pious. You can tie in Mercy's behavior, your overall message, and what you all are fighting so hard for. It might not fit tonally, but THESE ARE DARK TIMES. You're willing to risk spoiling the mood and upsetting the more gentle souls in the crowd.>D] Write-in.
>>4603538A1; we'll save the rest for other sermons. They need time to process and think about what we've said already, and I'd rather not confuse them now.When should we commit our next sermon, lads? And what shall it be about?
>>4603566(You're a gift anon. Seriously appreciate the enthusiasm and thoughts.Going to hit the hay early tonight and should be back by morning. Vote is open til then!)
>>4603654Thank you, and I could same the same for yourself. Hope you have a restful night!
>>4603538>D] Write-in. QnA session?An open dialog always helps people work out their doubts and mixed emotions.Just have people line up and ask questions, fucking convention style.
>>4603538>>4603728I fucking love this. Let Mercy sign their memorabilia too :^).
>>4603728Several hundred people, all trying to talk to a Goddess not known for her communication prowess?*puts on Mercyglasses*Let's do this! We faced worst odds before!
>>4603662Thank you very much!>>4603728>>4603731>>4603754>just have people line up>and ask questionsThis is the year 606, and there are exactly five people in this building capable of openly corralling several hundred individuals. You know there's a handful of covert priests of Vengeance at the very back, and Adwin up front. The majority of the crowd are strangers.Are you all sure you want to do this?
>>4604033Have them raise their hand tho, one at a time. Easier logistics. Make it like a classroom, the class of Mercy.
>>4603566>>4603728>>4603731>>4603754>>4604054(Alright bois. You have faced worse odds before!As always, dice are being used to represent the chance of something happening that may be out of your hands. Given the scope of what you're attempting, we're doing something a little different.)>WHAT COULD GO WRONG?>Roll 1d500. AVERAGE of 3 will be used.>-80 OPEN DIALOGUE (There are hundreds of uneducated peasants gathered in this building who are going to want to speak to their Goddess. Under normal circumstances, this would be a disaster.)>-55 SOUL ACHE (Now is an INCREDIBLY poor time for something to go awry.)>-25 GODDESS OF EMOTION (Mercy is REALLY taken aback but the audience. There's probably a good reason why.)>-24 SLEEP DEPRIVATION (Spotting a problem in your current state would practically be a miracle.)>-20 INERTIA (They're everywhere.)>-20 THE SOULS OF MANKIND... (...belong to demons. This large of a gathering is always a SERIOUS risk.)>+100 MOTHER OF RESTRAINT (Under normal circumstances, your partner would have no issue handling a situation like this. That said, She's a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd.)>+40 FAITH OF A GODDESS (This modifier is DOUBLED while in the halls of your church.)>+30 INSPIRING LEADER (The idea of someone challenging your authority right now is almost unthinkable.)>+25 SISTERS OF SECURITY (The Willoughby Sisters are on standby. Whether or not they can invoke right now isn't certain, but you know they're here to help.)>+25 EYES OF VENGEANCE (The allies on your side will be quick to spot anyone who tries to cause trouble.)>+25 BLASPHEMOUS CONGREGATION (You delegated security to the most ingenious minds in the nation.)>+25 LORD OF DEFENSE (No one is getting hurt here if you have ANYTHING to say about it.)>+25 FATHER OF COMPASSION (You'll be damned if anyone is pushing Mercy past Her limits, or doing a thing to cause anyone else in your church any trouble.)>+10 EASIER LOGISTICS (There are no classrooms in Corcaea in the year 606, but you can hope everyone will understand and respect your request for civility!)(The total for all modifiers is +81.)
Rolled 488 (1d500)>>4604112MAY WE GAIN THE CHARISMA OF AN ARCHDEMON.
>>4604117(Holy shit n i c e)
>>4604119BIG BUCKS NO WHAMMIES.
Rolled 246 (1d500)>>4604112POWAAAAA
Rolled 129 (1d500)>>4604112I'll close up the dice rolls then.
>>4604117>>4604125>>4604181(Absolutely beautiful. With the modifier, averaged, and rounded up to the nearest decimal that is a 369 out of 500! Not bad at all. Vote is locked! I am utterly swamped once again despite today allegedly meant to be more chill. Going to plug away at this update nevertheless! Writing now.)
>>4604210(Been nonstop today. Despite by best efforts I haven't been able to write. Going to have to update when I'm back home. I'll try to make up for it with some more art tonight. ETA 3-4 hours on the post. Thanks for your patience everyone!)
>>4604422(FINALLY HOME! Writing now.)
>>4604756It's a damn fine note to end on. "The Gods are Merciful."The light in your eyes lifts further at every reluctant, ecstatic, or reverent face. It must be over half of the church that echoes the conclusion to your sermon. "The Gods are Merciful."There's a song in your heart, as you call out to each and every soul in the building. "Please remain seated!"They do.You love this. Every last soul. Every brick on every surface. From the vaulted ceilings, to the stunning stained glass reflecting onto the floor. There's no dust to be seen, despite the heat and beams of sunshine coming in from the day. You lean towards your partner, and say in the softest tone you can muster, "an open dialogue always helps— always helps people to work out their doubts. Their mixed emotions."Terror shines through a smile just as excited as your own. "This would mean the world to you, would it not?""We can do this." You take her firmly by both hands. "We've faced worse odds before!"The Mother of Feeling is not known for Her communication prowess— and neither are you. Both of you pause.Everyone needs some time just to process everything that's been said. Mercy can't afford that luxury, and neither can you. Still, every passing second feels like it's taxing you more than the last. There's a strong urge to clutch at your chest, your stomach, or to be held by the lover at your side. It's almost as if the ache in your soul is reminding you of the desire for love. For light. Forcing yourself to stand even a foot or two away from your Goddess is only making the pressure worse from within. It's not suffocating, though. The pain is perfect.Sweeping Mercy into your arms, She makes a sound of delight so precious that you could die on the spot. A force of personality that could rival an archdemon's carries from your voice into the sunlight on the air. "Thank you for your patience! Now: Let's make Our message clear!"This should be fun. A mischievous tone is assumed, while exchanging sweet glances with the woman in your arms. She couldn't be happier to have your attention, while you call out to the congregation. "Listen closely, and repeat after me!"The church falls silent. They're amused. Mercy smirks at you, and knows exactly what you're up to. You give her a look that says 'please be patient, I know this is silly, but thank you for entertaining me.'(1/3)
>>4604986A light-hearted invitation for mimicry carries up to the second floor, and all the way to opposite end of the aisle. "This is the Church of Mercy!""This is the Church of Mercy," they repeat, with no amusement."The lord of defense can protect me!""The lord of defense can protect me." A little reassurance. Mild alarm from some. Serious gratitude from many others."But only if I respect his request..."Many confused and worried looks pass through the church. A lot of people mumble. "But only if I respect his request...?""...to remain seated, and quiet."Serious worry. "To remain seated, and quiet.""...I will raise my hand if I have a question..."They're starting to get it. "I will raise my hand if I have a question.""For Mercy."The cacophony of discussion that breaks out instantly threatens to become a deafening roar.The Goddess at your side straightens upright, and breathes a single word. Its intensity drowns out all other noise, and brightens the sun itself. "Quiet."Silence falls over the entire church once more. The majority of the crowd looks terrified.Though Mercy still looks horribly distressed through the broad smile She gives to you, a light and mellow tone speaks out to the gathering. "Do not make Father Anscham repeat himself. Please quietly discuss among yourselves what you wish to ask."While a choir of whispers erupts throughout the aisles, you realize through the pain and pressure within you that Mercy is leaning hard against your hold.Gently parting an arm to lift Her chin, you try searching Her eyes for a moment. She couldn't be harder to read. It's a bed of chaos. You whisper, "what's wrong?""They hate me." It looks like She wants to die all over again.(2/3)
>>4604992https://youtu.be/rOWxjBrrPvYFwip.Every nerve in your body kicks into high-gear at the familiar sound of an incoming projectile. At least fifty people scream. Keeping your lover in your arms, you turn as quickly as you can into the line of fire.An iron knife melts into liquid yellow-gold just an arm's reach away from your back.All the gilded material slows in mid-air. It comes to a halt just inches from your robes.The remains of the weapon splatters uselessly onto the ground.Mercy leans even closer, though She's glowering over your shoulder. Anger is red-hot across Her features. You're not surprised that She melted down iron with a single glance.At least fifteen priests of Vengeance instantly get up at the rear of the church to head straight over to the source of the attack. There's also thirty-something men who have gotten to their feet, and simultaneously move to follow up the dagger.They all had weapons hidden on their person, and were clearly testing to see if they could even try to land a hit. Throwing knives, and several more small weapons are all unsheathed. In a flash, you realize that a cult would never be stupid enough to try and kill a Goddess. Inertia has a death wish, but this is something else.They're seeking to do worse to you, your fellow church leaders, and the Gods Themselves than to simply take your lives.They want to destroy humanity's faith in us.Before you can make another move, there's a flash of radiance from within the form nestled against you. It's hardly blinding. Just a flash of the sun against the surface of a pond. A speck of light in your eye. A single voice that rings out with love in Her heart."Stay your hand."Spots dance in your vision only for a moment longer. Panic doesn't seize you. No one has yet to scream. There's no injury, no damage, and no assault that you can tell.At least not until you whip your head around, and stare in horror at thirty-something men who have been melted into puddles of gold. Some of their ankles are still slowly dissolving.The citizens that were sitting and standing around two now-vacant pews could not look more terrified. Screams are building from many women and children in all directions.Mercy has taken Herself from your grasp, and has backed up considerably. Not towards the altar. She looks like She wants to run from the entire gathering. She looks like She's going to panic. A breathless apology is made as the Goddess pulls further back, with bloody hands over Her heart. "I'm so sorry. They were aiming for me."She's going to cut the invocation short. You can't leave Her like this.You can't leave a slowly retreating, panicking crowd like this.(Options in next post.)
>>4604998>A and B are mutually exclusive.>Majority vote will decide.>A] This is going to be a catastrophe if you can't get things under control. It's one thing for your own reputation to be in shambles, but you can't let Inertia try to destroy Mercy's image. Let Her go. Damage control has to be your #1 priority right now, and Mercy should know that you'll see each other again as soon as you're able. You'll crack down hard on keeping order. Leave the minutiae to your staff, and order everyone in the building to remain calm. (You'll do everything in your power to keep a handle on everyone's composure, if nothing else.)>1] Don't take any risks with further action or orders. Wait a minute, and try to assess how your security team will tackle the problem.>2] Buckle down, get into the crowd, and go investigate the metal that's left of these cultists. Make sure the priests of Vengeance don't give away their identity or go making matters worse, too.>3] The lack of knowledge you have on what security procedure was developed is crippling your ability to handle it. Get to the back of the church with James, and try to discreetly discern what additional security measures he has in place. If at all possible, gather some information on if security wants to evacuate the church or keep everyone here.>4] Write-in.>B] Catch Mercy by the arm, and ask Her to stay just for a moment longer. She never should have been asked to deal with such a large gathering. Now you know. The two of you have to sort this out. The difficulty that Mercy has with humanity obviously has only been getting worse, and it feels like you're going to lose Her if you can't figure out what She's going through. Ask Her to talk with you somewhere safe. You love Her. There are FAR greater stakes here than just the reputation of this sermon, or your return, or even this gathering's opinion of Mercy. (There's also the matter of your Relic, that you CANNOT risk Mercy cutting off humanity from Her ability again, and that you're also pretty certain your security team kept you in the dark so you would have NO distractions if something like this happened.)>1] You just need to say something to your congregation first. Point out that the Goddess of Defense has saved the lives of hundreds, and possibly prevented an outbreak from occurring. Apologize, and leave the rest to your priestesses.>2] Don't sugar coat anything for the crowd. Simply call out to everyone to remain calm, and for your clergy to handle the situation until you return. Mercy needs you, and you are not about to let a bunch of traitors and heathens stop you from continuing to restore faith in mankind to a Goddess.>3] Write-in.
>>4604999B; we're sorry that we've allowed violence to enter there sacred halls, no matter the scource. And we're sorry for failing to make all of loyal citizens feel distress and distraught in the halls of Mercy.The same goes for Mercy. It was never our intent to panic and overwhelm you. The responsibility lies not with you, Mercy, but I.Come Mercy, please preside over the final rites for those led astray from your light. I'm sure it may calm both Mercy and the crowd down if Mercy herself commences with the rites from those who refuse the warmth of her dawn, and fail to respect her tenets in our home.This is not a disaster, only an opportunity for faith and goodwill to prevail on both sides, in spite of Inertia's actions on this day. The Gods *are* Merciful.
>>4604999>>B] Catch Mercy by the arm, and ask Her to stay just for a moment longer. She never should have been asked to deal with such a large gathering. Now you know. The two of you have to sort this out. The difficulty that Mercy has with humanity obviously has only been getting worse, and it feels like you're going to lose Her if you can't figure out what She's going through. Ask Her to talk with you somewhere safe. You love Her. There are FAR greater stakes here than just the reputation of this sermon, or your return, or even this gathering's opinion of Mercy. (There's also the matter of your Relic, that you CANNOT risk Mercy cutting off humanity from Her ability again, and that you're also pretty certain your security team kept you in the dark so you would have NO distractions if something like this happened.)>>1] You just need to say something to your congregation first. Point out that the Goddess of Defense has saved the lives of hundreds, and possibly prevented an outbreak from occurring. Apologize, and leave the rest to your priestesses.God dammit babe you need to STOP melting people!
>>4605073Our babe is a God, stop damning her! :^)
>>4604999>>B] Catch Mercy by the arm, and ask Her to stay just for a moment longer. She never should have been asked to deal with such a large gathering. Now you know. The two of you have to sort this out. The difficulty that Mercy has with humanity obviously has only been getting worse, and it feels like you're going to lose Her if you can't figure out what She's going through. Ask Her to talk with you somewhere safe. You love Her. There are FAR greater stakes here than just the reputation of this sermon, or your return, or even this gathering's opinion of Mercy. (There's also the matter of your Relic, that you CANNOT risk Mercy cutting off humanity from Her ability again, and that you're also pretty certain your security team kept you in the dark so you would have NO distractions if something like this happened.)>>1] You just need to say something to your congregation first. Point out that the Goddess of Defense has saved the lives of hundreds, and possibly prevented an outbreak from occurring. Apologize, and leave the rest to your priestesses.We all have those days, babe.
>>46049992BSignal the priests to surround the gold puddle. Out of sight, out of.. Well, a little less on the mind. Bring mercy by the hand, telling her to trust you so she doesn't freak out, and apologize for the gruesome display. It's not a nice thing to say, but the fear on her face might make them think twice about what happened. An attempt on your life is not a fun matter, and i'm sure it's a feeling a few audience members will know already. Just, be humble, try and comfort everyone including mercy, and don't let things get any more out of hand.
>>4605345Sorry, it's 1B. Phonepostin'
>>4605049>>4605073>>4605078>>4605152>>4605345>>4605346(Hell yeah guys. Good morning! Going to lock the vote here, and will try to update before work. Writing now!)
>>4605381https://youtu.be/VU6XEqaghdcYou catch Mercy by the arm. A look of love, and pain, and complete trust passes between the two of you. There's no need for you to tell Her that everyone makes mistakes, or that you would sincerely like for Her to stop melting people. She wants to be near you. She's so frightened She could die, and it's not for the congregation. It's not for Herself. The look in Her eyes says that your partner is scared to death that She's ruined your life's work."Do you trust me," you whisper.Tears part from Her long lashes with a shake up and down of those beautiful curls. "You never need to ask."The instant you slide from Mercy's arm into one of Her hands, She returns the hold with a death grip. The two of you make an urgent procession down the aisle, cutting the screams in the crowd short. Everyone's getting to their feet to better see what's happening. Before security's view is completely obstructed, you make a gesture to the approaching priests of Vengeance to circle around the bodies.Or rather, what's left of them. There's no evidence of humanity here. Gallons of liquid gold steams off from the heat that was applied to the forms of nearly thirty men. Their remnants are running down the aisle. It's no doubt gotten on the soles of multiple people's shoes. Hems of dresses. A few people are crying, and almost everyone is looking around in terror. No one knows who to trust.Your voice rings out to the entire audience in humility, and agony. "I apologize for the gruesome display!"The hold on your hand tightens even further. No physical pain registers, but your heart cracks at Mercy's expression.Hopefully Her distress will reassure at least someone in the audience. The screams have already died down, at least. There's nothing in the world that the lover of comfort would rather do than to set everyone's mind at ease. You continue, "Mercy has saved the lives of HUNDREDS here today! This was not merely an attempt on Her person! Her quick action has potentially halted the weakness in our hearts from spreading! We cannot permit our enemies to bring the effects of the Catalyst, nor the presence of demons into the halls of our home!"There's a loud clicking at the back of the chamber, as someone closes a door to a side wing.Your conviction rings out over all of the church's distress. "This is not a disaster! THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY for FAITH, and GOODWILL to prevail on BOTH sides of this conflict! In SPITE of Inertia's actions, THE GODS ARE MERCIFUL!"(1/3)
>>4605433The church is silent as you lower the fever-pitch of your words to soft, sincere apology. "No matter the source, there is no excuse for violence to enter these sacred halls." In a far quieter tone— just to the woman at your side— you murmur, "I'm sorry for overwhelming you. You never should have been put in this position. This is my responsibility, and—""Richard." She's beside Herself. The sweetest smile in all the world begs you, "you do not need to apologize for anything.""You'll want me to." You cast a miserable stare to the metal on the ground, as the covert operatives of Vengeance perfectly play the part of many overly-protective citizens."Excuse us!""Please get back.""Mercy. Father Anscham. You shouldn't come anywhere near this.""No disrespect meant, but please step aside. This can't be safe—"There's further discussion on the perimeter of the church. There were many more agents working for your men scattered throughout the entire building. They're obviously searching every last soul throughout the gathering for obvious weapons, hostility, or signs of anyone trying to escape. Fortunately, almost all eyes are on you.All you can look at is your partner, and the anguish swimming in Her gaze. The hold between you two is softer and sweeter than anything, but you redouble it by taking both of Mercy's hands in your own. "Could you please say a few words for the deceased?"It destroys Her composure. A blonde and beautiful head of honey-scented hair is all you can see for a moment, as Mercy collapses against you, and cries hysterically. "Yes. Of course. You wonderful man. Of course I will. I am so sorry."Leaning down to Her ear, you whisper, "this has not been easy on any of us. We understand. It's alright."She hugs you tightly enough to take the air from your lungs. More nodding. A muffled, "I love you.""I love you, too."The two of you part. The Goddess sniffs, and wipes Her eyes. A fair voice calls out to the entire crowd that's gathered. "Father Anscham has made a noble, virtuous, and honorable proposition. One befitting of the lord of compassion: To say a few words for the fallen. Despite the threat that has been posed to the sanctity of Our home, we have still witnessed a great loss of life. I do not speak for only those lost here today. I weep for the anguish that has resulted from every voluntarily cause of pain. I weep for the children deprived of their mothers and fathers. I weep for those who are still grieving."She's still crying, and chokes out, "I am so sorry for all of your loss. Be it by my hand, your own, from violence incited, or in the name of protection. Let us pray for a swift resolution to this conflict."(Options in next post.)
>>4605439>A and B are mutually exclusive.>Majority vote will decide.>A] You can't leave Mercy like this, and the crowd has been dead silent. You're certain the situation is handled, though. Tactfully and respectfully excuse yourself from the congregation, and go privately comfort your partner. >1] Stay nearby, but find somewhere relatively safe. You don't want to walk anywhere right now.>2] Take Mercy to the keep. It's obvious that She's actually extremely vulnerable in this form, and you aren't taking any more risks than necessary.>3] Write-in.>B] You seriously need to stay put. You'd be torturing Mercy to keep Her here any longer, so thank Her for everything, and release the invocation.>1] Try to continue gauging the crowd, and explain the situation as best as you're able.>2] Write-in.
>>4605447B1; we'll talk with Mercy before we rest. Might as well finish this sermon in a way that may help the people make sense of this.>Closing out the sermon by touching on the differences between mankind, Gods, and demons would not only highlight the most major revelation you made from your work beneath the Church of Mercy. It can serve as a cautionary tale to any enemies in the audience, humble those who are struggling to keep to themselves, and grant hope to the pious. You can tie in Mercy's behavior, your overall message, and what you all are fighting so hard for. It might not fit tonally, but THESE ARE DARK TIMES. You're willing to risk spoiling the mood and upsetting the more gentle souls in the crowd.I'd say there's no risk of us spoiling the mood, and upsetting the more gentle souls in the crowd now.
>>4605447>>B] You seriously need to stay put. You'd be torturing Mercy to keep Her here any longer, so thank Her for everything, and release the invocation.>>1] Try to continue gauging the crowd, and explain the situation as best as you're able.Things are never simple, are they.
>>4605645To be fair, we did overreach a bit with the convention-style QnA. That wouldn't have been simple even if we did properly prepare for it.
>>4605656Look at the bright side, 30 less cultists and everyone know we want to let people talk to god while the cultists want to be dipshits. I think it was worth it. Also this sermon would have not ever been simple, especially after everything that happened so far.But i digress, the statement was more for like, the general state of affairs. Can't ever catch a break right?
>>4605658>look at Mercy's sideI get you. At least the worst of the fighting is over with for now. We can focus on other less pressing yet still important stuff, like our health, the roads, the dungeons, food, etc. Which reminds me, we should ask for some volunteer cheese-makers relatively soon, so we can start trying to mass produce cheese with the help of our flask, and we're going to need to see to the scholar's home as well.
>>4605675Side note. This night is going to go down in history, i was thinking maybe we should give it a name. Something with the feel of "the night of broken glass" in nazi germany you know? Something evocative that permeates the scene but it also isn't partisan or over the top. I was think "The Night of Embers". from all the fires going up embers would have been flooding the city streets, the primarily stone houses would have kept the heat too. Any other suggestions? Think we can brainstorm something better.
>>4605688The Dawn of Gilded Gold?
>>4605697Way too over the top. Show some restraint anon :^)
>>4605688>>4605697>>4605697(This is such a touching idea holy shit you guys. I love it. Please feel free to throw out any other ideas you have. Will still be about three more hours before I can write.)>>4605461>>4605645>>4605656>>4605658>>4605675(And seriously appreciate all of the discussion and votes, thank you dudes! Vote will remain open for now.)
>>4605740("Throw out" sounds terrible lmao. Work is rotting my brain. Should say "share." You hopefully know what I mean.)
>>4605703The Twilight of Inertia? Night of Fallen Ash (Ashfall)? The Tempest? The Dawn of Dick?Night of Smoldering (or Burning) Embers does have a nice ring to it though.
>>4605745Too late. Into the bin it goes :^)
>>4605750I had already done so, disowned.
>>4605755>rip my self-esteemIt was nice while it lasted.
>>4605748>>4605750>>4605755>>4605766Over here wheezing from laughing so hard :^) 'The Night of Embers' is incredibly tasteful. Something like 'The Night of Golden Embers' or 'The Night of Ash' or even 'The Smoldering Night' could be nice too. I might put it to a vote a little later.)
>>4605787The Ashen Tempest?
>>4605789(That's really nice too man. I'm pretty sure I'll put up a vote with the suggestions so far with the next update! Should be less than two hours before I can write!)
>>4605461>>4605645(Locking the unanimous vote for B1 here, along with all the discussion and write-ins. Wonderful stuff dudes. Writing now.)
>>4605964https://youtu.be/tVP-aWrFwXEIt's not as if there's any risk of you spoiling the mood of the crowd now, but it's with a heavy heart that you try to give Mercy a brief good-bye. "You need some space away from all of this."Every illuminated inch of Her body is screaming that She wants to run. It's torturing your lover to keep Her here for a second longer. A feather-light touch takes Her fingers back between yours. The sobs that are distorting Mercy's speech threaten to worsen as She kills the urge to sprint away, holds onto you all the tighter, and gives a worried smile. "I promise we will see one another again soon.""Before I rest."The smile falters. She couldn't look more worried. "I am so sorry. You are going to be in so much pain.""Please don't be." The rest of the world might as well not exist. You don't mind the thousand eyes staring as you lean a Goddess' head against your chest, and whisper in Her ear. "Things are never simple, are they?"Miserable, nervous, adorable laughter falls from Her lips. "No. Never."You're seized by a strong urge to kiss Her. It would be horribly tasteless given the bodies on the floor. A deeper hold suffices."Let's go back to the altar, love." Mercy's muffled reminder of just how poor your physical state is right now is sweet enough for the two of you to tactfully head down the aisle.The instant you reach the metal structure, and a firm platform to stand on, your partner releases the invocation.The world is blinding.-----Panicked, frequent repetitions of your name come from at least ten voices by your side, while an entire church waits in silent terror.They probably think that Mercy killed you. You drag yourself upright with a ragged breath. The motion shouldn't be agony— you keep forgetting the Relic isn't around your neck, it's in one hand— but the pain is somehow worse than what you expected. Your free hand goes out to your side, as you say with a voice like death, "I'm fine."Your abuse of Dream is something Mercy can't completely heal, and you wonder if you passed out purely from the severity of your sleep deprivation. It takes your vision as second to adjust, as you try to stop persisting with the residual effects of the invocation. All the gold and heat takes several moments to completely dissipate from the edges of your sight. Acclimating to the haze of fatigue on you once more is much easier.The trouble is that the pain isn't physical. It isn't from the absence of a Goddess. Trying and failing to shift and adjust away from the unrelenting internal strain does nothing to alleviate the pressure.(1/5)
>>4606242The sight of exactly as many bodies as who you've buried in under two weeks is not as painful as what you're currently experiencing, but it's not helping.In just over one day, you have called upon Mercy and Agriculture a cumulative total of six times. You shouldn't be hurting. You should be dead.In the last two weeks, you have invoked as often as you did during your entire descent through Ostedholm's ruins. You should not only be dead— your soul should be in pieces.There's vague questions of concern for your health, if you need water, if everything is alright, if Mercy's hurt you, and so on."Just— just give me a minute."You've had punctured lungs that weren't as severe. It doesn't feel like you're bleeding out. It's like you're bleeding in. As if the lingering fullness of soul that you know and love more than anything else in the world is still building.It's terrifying, and one of the most beautiful sensations you've ever known. If you weren't mistaken, you could almost say you feel satisfied.The thought is laughable. There's a war to win. A promise with Mercy to uphold later today. Questions to ask Agriculture. The work with your Relic. Meetings to attend. The dungeons. Roads. The confessions you heard to. A famine to treat. A scholar's research. Your health.You try clearing your throat, and fish for a handkerchief in abject horror as a wet cough seizes you. It's not blood that comes up. It's gold.You cough at least a few tablespoons full of liquid gold. The terror on your features is probably visible to the gathering of people on either side of the altar, who absolutely should not be up here. You accept a chair from someone nearby, scoot it away from the altar so you're clearly visible to the entire church, and try to gather your composure.This is nothing. You gesture for everyone to sit back down. No words needed. The entirety of your congregation silently complies. There are no demands for answers. They know you will provide them.As everyone settles back down into the pews, and the group of incredibly worried priests and citizens around you awkwardly sits on the floor, you call out clearly. There's enough exhaustion through your tone to calm Storm Himself. "I would like to help you all make sense of this."Many worried and weary faces are begging for an explanation. Some reassurance. Anything."Today we have seen a Goddess. I would like to tell you more about the Gods, starting with Mercy. Mercy would never hurt me. I would also like to tell you more about humanity. My mistakes are a prime example of how not to conduct oneself."Some nervous laughter from the congregation puts more light in your eyes, but does nothing for your scowl."I have brought myself to harm. I know it's a sin. But we all know that to err is human, do we not?"(2/5)
>>4606246A low and quiet, "yes," and "yes, Father," carries throughout the congregation's murmurs.Most of them are replying by now. It's incredibly encouraging. "Then you all know the key differences between mankind, and the Gods."Pausing to give everyone a moment to process the implication, it seems that most people can't connect the dots. It's alright. This should help you piece out your thoughts just as well. "I would like for nothing more than to serve Mercy with the— with the same immaculate devotion that She has demonstrated towards us all today."You give a knowing look to Adwin, who has not moved from his seat during the entire service. "We can justify our own interpretations of our Goddess' creed."He's obviously had zero doubt for your ability the entire Time, and gives you a slight smile at the statement."As a mortal man—" You need to clarify. "No matter what station I hold— I strive to protect and heal my family. All of you. No matter what you may think of me, I want nothing but the best for all of you. Even if it comes at the cost of my personal protection and health. You all saw that I would have taken a blade on Mercy's behalf without question. I did not hesitate to call upon Her for our sermon, despite how exhausted I was before we even began the service. Both of these things are in violation of my tenets."Taking a seriously more personal tone is helping to put a lot more people at ease. "We could dispute our personal definitions of these things until the sun has set once more on the church." There's color coming back into faces— particularly at the premise of challenging your actions, and your own definitions of your tenets. They're excited, and thinking, and you couldn't be happier. "Mercy does not have this luxury. You saw that— despite the importance of this event, and how badly She wished to look after you all— Mercy could not stop Herself from feeling for us all. It brought Her intense distress. She made the grotesque display you all saw. She is at odds with Her very nature, but MUST embrace it, because that is. Who. She. Is."You look around the entire church, from aisles, to balconies, to those sitting around you. "Mercy is our protection. She is our emotion. She is our sun, our gold, our light, our love, and the hands that heal. She is honesty. She is ALL of our empathy, and THAT is why She could not remain here with us."(3/5)
>>4606248"I'm sorry for making you all a promise I could not immediately keep. But She will endure, and feel for all of us so long as She is permitted to. She can only be who She is. There is one, crucial, and final distinction I would like to make to you all. It's going to upset many of you, but I believe that with the— with the the severity of current events, that it is warranted. I hope you all understand now that I have told you all about the fundamental differences between Gods, and humans."It's very simple. "We are obviously not Gods. I would like you all to know why no one here is a demon."The entire church perceptibly leans in. A few particularly dramatic individuals gasp—especially James, who you hear all the way from the back."There is no need for fear," you tease. "Though King Magnus would likely not wish for me to share this information with you—" Everyone leans in a little closer. "—and Mercy may not appreciate me upsetting you all—" The collective frustration is building. "—we are not all gathered here in the Church of Mercy to see Father Anscham. You want answers, and..."You lean back, with a twinge of bittersweet nostalgia. "...and I am here to tell you about the Catalyst."No one dares to make a sound.You habitually scan the crowd, and confirm that the priests of Vengeance in your employ have seen to all of the damage. If there were any trouble-makers lurking in the shadows, they would have made themselves apparent by now.It's with a deep breath that you continue. "I've heard the rumors. I know! It's alright. I have been called a demon of faith— and I see the looks on your faces. Some of you may still believe it. But to call a man a demon should not be done so lightly. It comes from a place of misinformation. We do not simply become demons from loving something. We become demons from becoming consumed by something. This is not a healthy fixation that I speak of. This is not obsession. This is not devotion, and it is certainly not faith."You couldn't be more passionate. It's your guiding principle. "Faith is what will guide us in these trying times. Demons do not speak of the Gods themselves as they have STRAYED from ALL that the Gods embody. They become something else. A monster. Devoid of our connection to light, and love. Devoid of all humanity."Pouring your gaze over the crowd once more, you call out, "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking what your Catalyst might be, aren't you?"At least half the crowd looks mortified. You grin at them. "But now you all know that I am no demon for making the suggestion! Isn't that right! I'm certainly not a demon of the mind!"The majority of those who looked offended sigh, or laugh a little.(4/5)
>>4606251Some sour faces remain, to which you call out, "these are incredibly dark times. I promise you all, the doors of my home will remain open. This conflict will not be resolved in a day, but our decisive actions are precisely what has helped to deescalate the violence. You all have been fighting valiantly. Please continue to serve yourselves and your families— just as much as I wish to continue to serve you, my family, our King, and our country. This IS the city of empathy."Everyone quiets down."I know we are all significantly more considerate of ourselves and of our neighbors for what has transpired here this morning. This is a cautionary tale. One of humility. I want nothing more than to bring you all hope for our home, and for our future. I would like to close on one final note to you all: The greatest result of my recent findings."The Church of Mercy is as quiet as a sunrise."We are not confined by the same trappings as Gods or demons. It's as Mercy said. We ARE the choices that we make. That is our potential. Not one aspect. Not what we think we are. Not our Gods. Not even our Catalyst. We are the embodiment of ALL that is."It's rough, but you get to your feet, and give a stiff grin to the crowd."It is what we can be that makes us human. Have a blessed day."The entire group that's been sitting beside you quietly gets to their feet— along with several hundred other individuals. Your priestesses shift into high-gear, and start badgering the crowd that the service is over, to give you space, and to make an orderly exit from the church if they do not intend to stay for prayer or shelter.You're down thirty cultists, and the people know that you're willing to facilitate discourse about the Gods while Inertia makes a fool out of their cause. It was seriously overreaching things to try and hold a Q&A with this large of a crowd, but this wasn't going to be easy no matter how much you planned for. At least two hundred people are now all mildly calling out their thanks, including every single soul that rushed to make sure you were alright.You are NOT going to cry in front of several hundred people, but it's one of the sweetest things you've heard in your life. A few people are even helping to hold doors open for one another at the end of the aisle. You quickly reassure everyone present (you don't recognize a single one of these men, and are sure they must all be priests of Vengeance or kind citizens,) that you're alright.You'd consider this a success.(Options in next post.)
>>4606263>A] Go back to the keep (probably with some help. Ray will be at the keep for further assistance, surely.) You still have a LOT you want to do today, and can get a little choked up on the way out. It'll feel great. There's a lot to plan and to think about along the way, too. The day has only JUST started.>1] You'll invoke Mercy first thing when you get somewhere safe and quiet. Regardless of whether you speak to Her about all of this first, or work with your Relic, you want Her there.>2] Try to find a way to deal with your Relic first. Mercy should be able to help with after-care better than anyone, and you don't want to distress Her if it doesn't go over well.>B] Linger. You're going to get SWAMPED with questions and this could drag out for HOURS and there's NO HUMANLY POSSIBLE WAY to answer every question your congregation is going to have, but make it clear that you'll STILL try to talk. (Specify a time frame for a more personal discourse, e.g. a few minutes, an hour, until nightfall, etc. A ROLL WILL BE REQUIRED even for a brief pause due to the size of the crowd.)>C] Go find James and the Willoughby Sisters. Thank them sincerely for all of their help, get sentimental, and make sure Claymore, Walter, and Father Pevrel are alright too. You can also try to help them keep things orderly. It's the least you can do. Just make it CLEAR to the congregation that there will be no further questions.>D] Write-in.->The following is a purely optional prompt.>Your declaration of war on the cult of Inertia will go down in history. (It also spanned threads 22-24. To say it was one of the longest days of your life would be an understatement.) If you would like to coin a respectful name for yesterday's events, please feel free to vote from any of the following. MAJORITY VOTE WILL DECIDE:>"The Night of Embers">"The Night of Golden Embers">"The Smoldering Night">"The Night of Fallen Ash">"The Ashen Tempest">"Ashfall">(Write-in.)
>>4606273C, then A2. We can at least say thank you before we leave, and make sure our other friends are alright as well. Then we make a Beeline for the Keep. After our talk with Mercy, we will give Dream his due, for all of our negligence to his creed.Even though I helped suggest some of the names, I'm terrible at choosing things like this in general. How can I not be indecisive, with such a bounty of wonderful choices? :^)
>>4606273>>C] Go find James and the Willoughby Sisters. Thank them sincerely for all of their help, get sentimental, and make sure Claymore, Walter, and Father Pevrel are alright too. You can also try to help them keep things orderly. It's the least you can do. Just make it CLEAR to the congregation that there will be no further questions.>A] Go back to the keep (probably with some help. Ray will be at the keep for further assistance, surely.) You still have a LOT you want to do today, and can get a little choked up on the way out. It'll feel great. There's a lot to plan and to think about along the way, too. The day has only JUST started.>2] Try to find a way to deal with your Relic first. Mercy should be able to help with after-care better than anyone, and you don't want to distress Her if it doesn't go over well.No more invoking until we fix the roads. This is going to get really bad really fast, that debuff is going to be over 100 by now.>"The Night of Embers"Or>"Ashfall"I like both, whichever is fine for me.
>>4606273>>4606537I'll second this. It is time to rest and Dream.>"The Night of Embers"
>>4606537>>4606565>>4606782(Vote is locked here. Writing now!)
>>4607034https://youtu.be/QL9_rPPyCMQIt's easiest to find Susan Willoughby first, thanks to her incredibly high and clear voice. She's ushering everyone out from a side wing, and masterfully keeping things from becoming too congested. Conversely, the main aisle is completely occupied.You inch your way over to your priestess, keeping to side wings, while being bombarded with dozens of questions. Countless kind souls ask if you're alright. You repeatedly reassure them that you're fine. Thoughtful young men want to know more about Gods, demons, and mankind. You swear up and down that more answers will come, but that to consider what's been said will serve Mercy, Spirit, and Time well. Harmless inquiries are made as to when your next public service will be. You can't give a date, but tell everyone that it was on your mind even as the sermon was ongoing.More smiling faces are left behind you, as you finally reach Sister Susan. She's as composed as can be, but looks up to you with a haggard face. Her fondness for fasting extends even to a famine. It's seriously alarming, but adult women are one of the lowest priorities for supplies. She surely knows what she's doing.The two of you frown at one another. "Father Anscham." A slight bow of her head, shrouded in the deep-yellow hood of her traditional robes. "Thank you for the service."The frown on your face lifts. She's openly wearing her holy symbol. It's a simple pair of outstretched hands, hung on a simple yellow ribbon around her neck. The symbol is made of painted metal rather than gold. You've never seen anyone ever openly wear a traditional holy symbol of their church other than yourself, or a fellow church leader.It puts a skip in your heart. "Thank you for all of your service. The order you maintained on the outskirts of our church could be felt by the entire congregation. I'm certain that we all have you to thank for maintaining our home's dignity throughout— throughout such a trying experience."The tension through the exhausted young woman's body softens. Another, simple bow reveals brunette, and neatly-pinned hair. You catch the edges of her lips quirk up. "To live is to serve, Father."There will be more time another day to really get to know her. "To live is to serve."You promptly excuse yourself, and go to find Tilda. It looks like the youngest of the triplets is just down the side wing, nearest to the front door. She's accompanied by Agnes.The younger of the two has her narrow brown eyes light up— and she practically catapults herself towards you. While a running start towards a hug is a terrible idea, you brace yourself, and try not to laugh as the priestess expertly stops just a foot away from you."Gotcha.""Two can play at this game!"A big hug ensues.(1/4)
>>4607114She's delighted. The contrast between her musculature and just how soft you are is particularly pleasant. "That was wonderful! And Mercy? Bless the borders, Father Anscham. I don't think I've ever heard of a preacher who's willing to share so much with the people! What an impression! What a sermon! People will be talking about this for an age..."Most bystanders snicker, or silently look on with amusement at your clergywoman's lack of propriety. She goes on, while Agnes calls over to you both."Please excuse her." The eldest of the triplets stays firmly at the door. A daffodil pair of gloves gesture for Tilda to get going, which the spritely young priestess pays no mind to.Ruffling her scruffy, shortly-cropped head of hair (which Tilda is beyond delighted by), you part just enough to appease Sister Agnes' request. "Thank you both so much, for— for all of your efforts."Agnes snips. "You are very welcome.""Was a huge pain in the rear, Father Anscham, but you're welcome!" A cheeky grin passes from Tilda, to her sister, to you.The mortification on Sister Agnes' face says she's about to go on a tirade.You beam at both of them, and happily cut Sister Agnes off. "I can't thank you both enough. Please look after each other, and to the rest of the crowd. I will be indisposed for some Time. If there is ANYTHING in the way of an emergency, you can find me in the keep. Please do not interrupt my rest for anything less than a matter of life or death."The melody of their similar voices replies in unison. "Yes, Father."You and Tilda grin at each other, and engage in one more bear hug before parting ways.Somewhere up on the second floor, you catch James leering over the balcony to the crowd below. Getting to him takes at least ten minutes thanks to the crowd on the stairs, but you eventually manage. It's stunning to see that the top floor has already been cleared out. It's just you, and the minstrel. He must have chosen the spot to have a little more privacy, while still keeping an eye on affairs.Walking to his side, you only barely lean on the rail next to your ruins-hopping friend. "Quieter up here." Klepto's voice is as vibrant as the incoming day. "Wouldn't want to miss a thing." A glance pours over you. "Looked real messed up for a few minutes back there. Scared everyone straight. Did you mean to do it on purpose...?""No." You couldn't look more horrified. "No. Never. I have— I have been pushing myself harder than anyone rightfully should."The two of you assume whispers. Returning James' scrutiny doesn't bother him too much. It odd to see such a flashy individual in only a brown tunic, leggings, and a few bags. "I almost didn't recognize you."(2/4)
>>4607118A smirk passes over your tamed hair, the extravagant garments you're wearing, and all of your height and bulk. "Could say the same for you." The man's light falls as quickly as it came. "Not sure which extreme is doing you worse, but we're worried. You know. Everyone?""Are Walter, Claymore, and Father Pevrel alright...?"His scowl could kill. "Don't deflect. I'm serious. And they're fine. Just outside of the church. Walter's with Cardew. Claymore and edgy old rot-eye didn't want to come in for obvious reasons." Claymore couldn't disguise his appearance even if he tried, and Father Pevrel's reputation in the city would have been bound to upset many people. You frown harder than even your minstrel can manage. "I can't tell you how much I've needed the support." It's fine to get a little choked up. "Thank you so much.""Don't hug me, Richard." He's only teasing, but makes a show of taking a step to the side.You make a show of shoving your hands in your pockets. "I'm about to go and get some rest. Actual rest. If there is a legitimate emergency, please come and get me from the keep. I'll be in the quarters beside Spangle's and Electrum's room."The jester's frown somehow deepens. "That's not what I was referring to, Dick."The frown you've been offering back softens. "I know. I am only so ragged from just how much I have been doing to push myself." You've sworn up and down that you're done discussing your appearance. "Now is really not the Time."A single poke is made towards your waist, though he doesn't make contact. "You can do better than this."You move to leave. "Thank you again for everything."He calls down the walkway, as you head back the way you came. "You owe me!"With a wave over your shoulder, you gladly insist, "we will figure something out. I promise!"Heading down to the first floor, your eyes light up half the building having already cleared out. There was no need to assist with maintaining any order, despite you having every intention of doing so.A prompt, discreet, and Timely departure is made down a side aisle...You take a number of hidden corridors...Snake around the back of an herb garden...Circumvent the main gate with a back door...And take a favorite secret staircase within the keep to avoid all detection.Exiting from the supply closet on the keep's second floor, you head to the vacant great chamber. Ray was nowhere in sight, and you strongly suspect that he's with Walter to comfort Sister Cardew.It's alright. Everything will be fine.You look to the small, golden locket that hasn't left your hand through all the dawn. There's a small trail of dried blood along your palm that you never felt, thanks to the total absence of pain that the item provides. Fallen ash is stuck to the edges of your skin where you haven't properly cleaned off evidence of yesterday's events.(3/4)
>>4607121It was the Night of Embers.The pain in you is not going anywhere. You're terrified of just how severe things are going to be when you have to work on the roads later today, or early tomorrow.However long you rest for, Mercy will have to understand why you're waiting to speak with Her again. This is actually killing you.You go gather your shield, Piety, and the satchel containing the rest of your most valued possessions. It's all dragged with you across the nice wooden floor, under the comfortably paneled ceiling, adjacent to a large canopied bed. An absurdly comfortable chair is found. You conjure some water, and get situated beside a nice end table. A short prayer is made to Dream, while you eye up the bed beside you.Only one thing stands between you, and getting some proper sleep: You have to find a way to deal with your Relic.>A] Set it down and do nothing else to assist with the pain. You're going to overcome this issue through sheer force of will, faith, and respect for your image. Stay as detached from this as you can. (This is to try and eliminate all associated bonuses AND maluses associated with pain.)>B] This is a sickness that's been inflicted on you. A large part of you resents having masochism. It's uncomfortable, it's weird, it's destroyed your reputation with many people, it makes combat embarrassing, and injuries are becoming unmanageable. (This is to try and remove all bonuses associated with pain, to have normal maluses, and to keep your mind clearer.)>C] You sincerely enjoy your borderline immunity to pain. It's not something that bothers you. It's just become a burden. You want to be able to control this part of you, so that what you enjoy through your body is no longer a barrier for your mind. (This is to try and remove all maluses associated with pain, to retain the bonuses, and to keep your mind clearer.)>D] There's probably a lot that can be done to help this process. (Write-in any additional measures you would like to take to make this easier. They can and will cause an effect! The subsequent update will have a roll, and your strategy may provide bonuses as well!)
>>4607127>>C] You sincerely enjoy your borderline immunity to pain. It's not something that bothers you. It's just become a burden. You want to be able to control this part of you, so that what you enjoy through your body is no longer a barrier for your mind. (This is to try and remove all maluses associated with pain, to retain the bonuses, and to keep your mind clearer.)Not trying to make the most of this would be an insult to Agri as the god of excess. We are going to have our cake and eat it too.
>>4607127>C] You sincerely enjoy your borderline immunity to pain. It's not something that bothers you. It's just become a burden. You want to be able to control this part of you, so that what you enjoy through your body is no longer a barrier for your mind. (This is to try and remove all maluses associated with pain, to retain the bonuses, and to keep your mind clearer.)
>>4607127C; it may be a sickness, but one that will serve us well in the future. I have no doubt that there will be times where we will be working through great pain, and not everyone has the chance to weaponize it like we do. I will suggest restraint in the future, as the point of pain is to tell your body when it's reasonable to stop hurting yourself, not to encourage further harm. There is a limit to the masochism that we will handle.A prayer to all the Gods would help ease the nerves, and have the flask at the ready, to numb the pain if needed. Maybe a muscle relaxer beforehand so we don't tense our muscles as much, and lessen the strain on them when the pain hits.
> A] We're stronger than this. We can get through this by sheer willpower alone. Our pride won't let us down.
>>4607127>>A] Set it down and do nothing else to assist with the pain. You're going to overcome this issue through sheer force of will, faith, and respect for your image. Stay as detached from this as you can. (This is to try and eliminate all associated bonuses AND maluses associated with pain.)PUSH IT TO THE LIMITWALK ALONG THE RAZOR'S EDGE
>>4607131>>4607165>>4607181>>4607232>>4607234(Wonderful dudes. As previously stated, these votes will be incorporated into bonuses for a roll that will be called in the following post. Vote is locked. Also I'm home for the weekend! Should be able to run quite a few sessions. Writing now!)
>>4607256>>4607256https://youtu.be/i1nGx4DX83UYou are going to have your cake and eat it too.A prayer is made to all of the Gods. A few special words are given to the Goddess of excess.From an endless flask of an archdemon you request, "something to lessen the strain when agony hits. To relax the muscle, and to numb the pain if needed." The humble item is uncapped. Chamomile, berries, spice, black seed, and a pungent herb you've yet to try fills the air with a thrilling scent.You set it aside.Pushing yourself to your absolute limit could not feel sweeter. It's a sickness, of course. You know there's something that's warped in your mind, body, and soul. But it will serve you well in the coming war. The holy Relic you've been gifted is still a blessing. It always has been. So is your borderline immunity to pain.This is not necessarily trauma that you want to weaponize.It's pleasure.Setting your Relic on the end table at your side, you take a deep breath, and part your hand from the item. It's been held for so long, it sticks momentarily to your skin. You have to pry it off from the dried blood and ash underneath.The crunch of cultist's gore peeling off the skin from the palm of your hand finally registers.A scream instantly builds in your throat. The noise is utterly indecent. So are the dozens of lacerations all over your body that were only recently cleaned and treated.You're going to try and stay detached. Mercy was not capable of healing you through anything during the sermon. You register the assault of a dozen arrows, blows from swords against your defense, and the sting in your joints from climbing for hours.A hitch in your breath has you turn around to frantically check that the door behind you is shut. It's closed. There's no one here to hear you bite down on the side of your knuckle, and groan through the building tension.An ache is through your shoulders, back, and core. It's not a healthy burn. At your weight and height, you've still been eating and drinking more than you should. Carrying over 310lbs would be bad enough had you only hiked across the entire city multiple times in the last whole day. As it is, the large volume of tea, rations, protein-filled whey, imports from your hideout, and every bizarre drink you've ingested in the last day is still not enough for your needs. It feels like you're starving.Yet acute hunger pains are the least of it. Your positive response to the sensation is the least of it. It's fine. You're ill. You know that you have a problem, and it's fine.Getting shot in your leg destroyed most of the sensation in your left calf. Mercy's work to save your life left a gold-filled scar. The skin around it and all the muscle within is tingling from severed nerves, and hours of activity after the fact.You want to make the most of this.What you would I have to do to get a sensation out of the wound?(1/2)
>>4607321Performing surgery TWICE on the floor in under twelve hours has your neck stiff, and your hands aching.Your fingers are twitching over the end table. You draw a little blood out from your hand from trying to repress a scream. Forcing yourself to relax feels impossible. The urge to lick at the blood trickling down the side of your knuckle is overwhelming.I'm stronger than this.There's lingering pain in your jaw from Father Pevrel socking you across the face. A familiar, accompanying ache is also in your gut from the other blow he landed.Your feet ache in the best of ways.Your head is killing you exactly how you like it.Your eyes are sorer than they've ever been, and you'd like to keep going.You should ABSOLUTELY have died from exhaustion at any given point in the last day, and you are STRONGER than the unbelievable urge to scream, and dig down, and draw out MORE.For the Goddess of Indulgence.For the joy that's building in every agonized fiber of your body.Temptation is sitting right there on the table beside you.But you're not going to binge, or break, or inflict any more harm on yourself.Right?>WALK ALONG THE RAZOR'S EDGE>Roll 1d100. Best of 3 will be used for your OVERALL success, but ALL THREE DICE will be used to determine exactly how you keep your composure.>VERY HIGH ROLLS may permanently increase your ability to handle pain!>VERY LOW ROLLS may have catastrophic results!>HAVE FUN!>+10 SHEER WILLPOWER (You can do this!)>+10 FATHER OF RESTRAINT (This is not the first time you've tried putting limits on yourself.)>+20 MASOCHISM TANGO (Pleasure from pain isn't always such a bad thing!)>-31 PRIEST OF EXCESS (Despite your best efforts, you are notorious for having poor impulse control.)>-26 SLEEP DEPRIVATION (There is a LOT working against you.)>(All modifiers add up to -17 to each roll.)
Rolled 64 (1d100)>>4607322I have faith.
Rolled 27 (1d100)>>4607322Keep it together Dick!
>>4607322Obi Wan Cannoli, you're our only hope!Both to break the tension and because I'm hungry :^)
Rolled 71 (1d100)>>4607322Rollan
>>4607325>>4607328>>4607400>>4607428>>4607441(My duuuuudes! Alright. After modifiers that leaves us with a 47, 10, and 54! 54 being the best of 3. Could have been far worse. Vote is locked here. Will write in just a few. Have a retro Catalyst meme edit in the meantime.)
>>4607502https://youtu.be/hTcBnxxuAls?t=2Both hands grip the edge of the end-table, to keep your teeth away from the new injury. Your nails dig into the wood, and scrape off a few splinters under your nails. It's perfect. The pain and pressure feels like everything you need, and more. One hundred praises fall from your lips to all the Gods, and you gasp through it, and fight with everything you have to not bite on your lip.Keep it together.The flask you set aside is swept up. A shaking hand kicks back warm, filling, numbing, liquid relief. It's bitter, and sweet, and you can't stop yourself from having more.Have some faith in yourself.At least a minute must have passed by before you come up for air. The container is breathlessly slammed down to the table, and shoved away. It's going to take at least a few minutes to get any pain relief. Nothing hurts more than the sight of mistreating a gift from one of your best friends, but you legitimately do not trust yourself to inspect the container. Wiping at your lips— it's impossible to resist. Before you can hesitate or regret a thing, the bite wound on your knuckle is sucked at. Consuming blood in any form is terrible for the human body, but you can't stop yourself.The invocation you made to Flesh and Vengeance late last year flashes into your mind. It mixes with the bitter taste of copper. The urge to take on more injury is an internal battle that you want to desperately win. Biting at and teasing away bits of your own skin shouldn't feel so good. The texture and taste is I shouldn't be doing this at all.There's something horribly wrong.The ache in your chest is not from any physical pain, as you slowly part your lips from the top of your hand. It comes from a place of ecstasy, and deep concern. The odd taste of the exotic herbs and spices from whatever you just drank is a poor mix with your own blood. The ragged injury reflects the deep indentation on your palm from the Relic you'd been holding onto for hours to not risk something like this from occurring.It's going to scar. You feel sick.Deep breaths.The edge is coming off of the worst of your pain. It's more than enough to risk getting up to go clean and dress a new wound.You hesitate to move.There's no reason to panic. You can control yourself. You're not going to break down. This is something you are going to work on.Moving in any capacity redoubles the piercing sensation in every last one of your joints, but you can do this. Getting to your feet is manageable. So is getting to a nearby wash basin, getting clean water, and dousing the injury with far more force than necessary.The world goes red.(1/2)
>>4607539Dressing the site of the wound comes with a steady hand, despite not remembering what you may have just done or said or your irregular breath. Not too much pressure. There's enough of it through every inch of you.A few desperate prayers of gratitude are made towards Agriculture, before you slump down onto the bed fully dressed. On top of the sheets. With your hands where you can see them. Biting into the sheets and pillows to scream can't hurt.Your throat is sore from giving a twenty-minute sermon without having any water. It does still hurt to scream. You can't bring yourself to hold anything back, and try not to cry through it.It helps.Rolling onto your back and staring at the canopy above isn't nearly as painful as you were expecting. Whatever you drank is finally kicking in. The obscene gasps gradually lessen. So does the pressure behind your eyes, the burn on your knuckles, and all the rest of your pain.It's with a clearer mind that you try to reassure yourself. No one was around to see a thing. You didn't try choking yourself, and barely binged. The minor injury you incurred on yourself should heal in a couple of days. What you did drink was medicinal, and can't kill you. There's been no catastrophic damage. No sprains. No breaks. You kept it together, and worked out some frustration.A comfortable haze settles around the edges of your mind. The pain relief ramped up rapidly. It did nothing for your hunger— which is so painful, you curl in on yourself to try and get some relief— but it's a major improvement.It was an invocation to Mercy and Flesh that pushed my threshold for pleasure and pain past its breaking point.An invocation to Flesh and Vengeance may have done the same for my taste for blood and gore.You've preached to hundreds that the Gods can only be what They are. You've told some of your nearest and dearest friends that the way that the Gods work through you is a reflection of that very same fact.That this is a blessing.The urge to crawl under the sheets is almost unbearable. Everything feels fantastic.This is not exactly progress, but it's a start.(Options in next post.)
>>4607545>A] Get some rest, even if going to sleep hungry will cut into your rest. (A1, A2, and A3 are mutually exclusive. Majority vote will decide.)>1] Put up a "do not disturb" sign on the door. You trust that you'll be woken up if there's an emergency— even if it's days from now. You lost a LOT of blood recently, and need rest to recover.>2] Leave a note to be woken up in exactly one day. It will give you actual rest and recovery, though you run the risk of the situation to your northern borders worsening before seeing to the roads.>3] Post a CLEAR message that you need to be roused well before sunset. You will try to get some proper sleep again after the roads are seen to. It will feel terrible to only get a few hours of rest, and it will compromise your healing, but you're willing to make the temporary sacrifice for the city's security.>B] Listen to your body. The famine has seriously taxed resources, but you DO have some rations still stored from your venture into the dungeons. It's already portioned out, and you know you won't overeat. You'll bring everything else to be stored with the rest of the keep's supplies just as soon as you can.>1] You'll eat only enough for an average man's requirements, even if it's nowhere near what you actually need. The sick and injured are not eligible for special treatment in this crisis, and you are no exception.>2] The amount of distress you're in from what you've just dealt with, and the work you need to do with the city's roads rates more than a standard supply of provisions. Have enough to meet your actual caloric needs. Even at a deficit for weight loss, you still require almost double what an average man at your activity level needs.>C] Stay up just for a few minutes longer, and inspect the drink you chugged much more carefully. You hate treating anything Yech gave to you poorly, and trust yourself to not have any more.>D] This is a blessing that will require further research. It should be easy enough to incorporate this sort of thing into your regular schedule.>1] But resolve to not undertake something like this again without supervision. (A separate prompt will be provided at a later point in time to determine who, if no one is specified.)>2] You can do this, will not back down so easily, and won't have anyone else involved. This is a personal mission of compassion.>3] Thank Agriculture for everything. You're confident that the strides you've made in grounding yourself are what made this possible at all.>E] You're still incredibly upset.>1] Make a formal prayer to Mercy to ask for forgiveness for bringing yourself harm. Ask for restraint in the days ahead.>2] Make a formal prayer to Dream for restful sleep. (You know you're going to have nightmares either way.)>3] Take the exorbitant amount of Time required to make a formal prayer to all of the Gods. It will cut into your sleep, but it will make you feel substantially better. (It always does.)>F] Write-in.
>>4607547(This prompt will remain open for at least the next 7 hours.)
>>4607547>C] Stay up just for a few minutes longer, and inspect the drink you chugged much more carefully. You hate treating anything Yech gave to you poorly, and trust yourself to not have any more.
>>4607547A2, when we finally get to it. Best take advantage of the rest, we'll need all the energy and recovery we can get for the roads ahead.B2, but supplement heavily with liquid rations from the flask, and maybe something extra to aid in recovery.D2,3; E1,2. We can do a formal prayer to all the Gods when we wake up and on our way to see to the road, to try and not waste further Time.
>>4607547A1, we've done a monumental amount of work and we have neglected rest for too long. Our SOUL hurts. I don't want to sleep endlessly, but 1 day is too little Time. 3 days seems a fair max.B2, eat at a weight deficit, but make our rations supplemented with the flask, see if we can make a thick chowder or chicken soup, something we can test to use in the days ahead to feed our people with the flask if necessary.D2, can't rely on the gods for everythingE1 And E2, we love our Lady, and Dream daddy is looking out for our wellbeing even if he sends us nightmares.
>>4607581Hydration is important, so if others vote for A1 then I advise a large gulp of water is in order.
>>4607547>>A] Get some rest, even if going to sleep hungry will cut into your rest. (A1, A2, and A3 are mutually exclusive. Majority vote will decide.)>>1] Put up a "do not disturb" sign on the door. You trust that you'll be woken up if there's an emergency— even if it's days from now. You lost a LOT of blood recently, and need rest to recover.We are dead ass gonna fucking die if we invoke anything again, especially with the intensity needed to fix the roads. Take a BIG break, the worst of it is over. Everyone else can handle it. have faith.>D] This is a blessing that will require further research. It should be easy enough to incorporate this sort of thing into your regular schedule.>2] You can do this, will not back down so easily, and won't have anyone else involved. This is a personal mission of compassion.We are gonna do it guys, neutralize the feeling of pain.>E] You're still incredibly upset.>1] Make a formal prayer to Mercy to ask for forgiveness for bringing yourself harm. Ask for restraint in the days ahead.>2] Make a formal prayer to Dream for restful sleep. (You know you're going to have nightmares either way.)Dream my man I know we did you dirty so many times but what can you do. Some cool visions to prepare us for everything would have helped, dipshit. (don't say that last part)
>>4607581After sleeping on it, I would like to make an adjustment to my vote. 3 days rest and reassess if we need more once we are woken up. Real hard cap of a week's rest.
>>4607691I would like to remind people that we promised to fix the roads soon. I remember the man being antsy about it being more than the day of the sermon. Plus, we are on a time limit with trying to avert as much of the famine as possible.
>>4607581>>4607703>>4607691Damn, you are right about the road thing. Then we should rest for the day, fix the road, and go back to resting for the rest week. We still need to take care of ourself, since we can't save our country if we run on fumes all the time.