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Hello! Don't frequent here often, but I'm bored enough to give this a shot.

You, our main character, are turning 17 today. For most people that would be reason enough to celebrate alone, but for you, this is the most important day of your life yet. You see, your parents, in their great wisdom, essentially sold you into identured servitude, a form of slavery, when you were 5. Since then, you've lived and worked for the Simh -family, one of the most prominent merchant families of the town. But all that is past. As fully aged citizen now, you're no longer bound to your parents finances and are just about to breathe air as a free person first time in 12 years. Welcome to the world of Quairn!

But first. Are you a boy or girl?
>>
>>4665472
girl
>>
Boy
>>
>>4665472
A MAN. A MAN FULL OF CHEST HAIRS, A FULL HEAD OF HAIR, AND PUBES AS LONG AS THE EYE CAN SEE.
>>
>>4665472
boy
>>
Seems like the boys have it.

The office of young Jordan Simh is clean and smells of tobacco. Only persons present are he and the notary. The old man drones on and on, until finally he comes to the end.
>...by the powers granted to me by this city and the Kingdom of Quairn, I declare you as a free subject of our majesty. Now, I could record you here as you were born with, Ethan Rastell. However, seeing your family history, I could do an exemption and let you choose your own name. Your father was quite a character and not everyone remembers the name Rastell with good intentions, a fact your cousin has done little to redeem. I can also see that your identured servitude has been longer than usual and maybe you want to distance yourself from your family. The choice is yours,

Do we keep the name Ethan Rastell or choose our own name?
>>
>>4665513

Change it to Ethan *Rad*stell

Emphasize we are cooler than our shitty old family
>>
You collect your belongings, shake hands with both men and step out. You feel almost melancholic, even when you hope you never have to see these halls again. The slow afternoon buzz fills the main hall as you walk accross it. Suzie is working on the counter. For the last six months she has been your boss, but now you are equals.
Hello, Suzie. I'm leaving. I believe you have something for me
>Hello, Ethan. So this is it, then. Yes, I have a few things to give you.
She hands over a small coin purse, and a bag.
>Your savings, personal belongings and spare clothes. I threw in some bread. Nobody should left our house with empty stomach.
You thank her and feel a pang of pain in your heart. Suzie was never your friend, but you've known each other for years. Leaving her like this feels... wrong.

How should we leave?
>>
>>4665538
"Take care of yourself"
>>
>>4665546
You mumble your farewells and turn away. As you leave, you consider your options. You have dreamed of this moment for years now, but you never had solid plans. Everything feels so surreal. You almost turn the corner that leads to the bunkhouse that held your own bed, but catch yourself in the proccess. Right. You don't have a bed for tonight. Time to make stock of your belongings:
>old notebook that you used to learn to write and read. You keep it to refresh your memory from time to time. And well, paper is expensive.
>your papers. The declaration the notrary gave you. Your diploma proving you're literate. Short letter of recommendation from Jordan Simh. Claims you are able seamster and errand boy. These things are mostly true.
>50 pieces of copper. Barely enough to last two weeks of accommodation on the shady side of town.
>two sets of spare clothes
>the bread Suzie gave to you

What now?
You want to meet Father Alfonz, the closest thing you have for a father figure.
Your cousin still lives on the edge of the good part of the city and is the last living member of your family. It could hardly harm to ask him for a roof over your head and maybe for a job as well. Your faily owns you that much.
You also still have some contacts on the artesans guild, maybe they could help you land a job.
Or you could just leave this city, although it has been years since you have stepped outside of it.
>>
>>4665566
>You want to meet Father Alfonz, the closest thing you have for a father figure.
>>
>>4665566
>You also still have some contacts on the artesans guild, maybe they could help you land a job.
>>
>>4665585
>>4665589
You decide to visit Father Alfonz first and then the artesans guild. They're pretty close anyway.

Father Alfonz is part of the Brotherhood of Garr, whose grey robes are a common sight on the poorer part of town. Their humble chapels dot many cities of the Kingdom and offer services for the poor. For the last few years you've visited their daily ceremonies whenever you've had time and Father Alfonz has become kind of a confident for you.

As you enter the local chapel you thank Garr or whoever is listening for your good timing. The noon service is over, but the members of brotherhood are still present and only preparing for their afternoon tour trough the slums. A familiar figure greets you. Tim? Jim? You can't remember his name.
>Greetings, Ethan! I hope everything has been good for you! Come, there is still some soup left if you're hungry!
I thank you, brother, but could you tell me where Father Alfonz is? I need to talk to him.
>Of course! He is in his chambers. I take you know the way?

As you enter the chambers, you immediately notice something is amiss. Your mentor is not his usual jovial self, but is huddling in the corner of the room. Clearly something has upset him greatly.

Unsure how to proceed, you stand there for a moment. After a while Father takes in your presence.

>Ah, Ethan. I'm sorry, I did not see you. How can I help you today?

What do you say?
>>
>>4665628
"Hey Father, finally got my freedom! Before that though...are you doing okay? Anything I can help you with?"
>>
>>4665633
>Oh, nothing you should consider yourself with. It's just... Oh well. I guess you're old enough to know these things. It's witchcraft. Cultists of Meera, to be exact. You know, for over fourty years I along my brothers have done everything we can to help the poor and turn the evil away trough good deeds and compassion, and again and again the downtrodden turn their hopes into dark arts to steal what they think they're owed. Again and again we have to put down our ladles and salves and do harm for the greater good. And I feel it is harder each time. Maybe it is better I step down before my lack of conviction causes our downfall...

>Apologies, I am rambling. You were saying you are a free man now? Let me take a good look on you... Yes. You are a man now. It feels like it was yesterday when you stole the shoes from brother Jim and tried to sell them to him back! I wonder if he still holds a grudge about that.

>So, what are your plans? I can't offer you much, but a young man like you needs all the help he can get to avoid the wicked ways, no matter how good his character is to begin with.
>>
>>4665679
"You've done so much for me, Father. I've since sought to be a kinder and Godlier man because of you. I do not think it is conviction you lack- you are right about combating evil with love and kindness. Say...maybe I could help? Perhaps the actions and words of a younger man from a poor upbringing who turned his life around will reach their ears better than those of an established and powerful religious organization. If you don't mind funding me for food, travel, and shelter, I could spread the good word and try to convince those who seek to turn to their dark arts to shift their gazes back towards the light!"
>>
>>4665693
>Your enthusiasm is commendable Ethan, but there are many things of the dark arts you don't know, and for a good reason. I already fear I've disclosed too much for someone uninitiated like you. If you truly want to help me, go and live a good life and warn anyone against making deals with the devils.

>But if you really feel the calling of Garr, you should travel to some of the island monasterys. The one in Ikhan is closest, I believe, unless they managed to fix that bridge in Greyholm.

>But now I feel our time is up. I leave you with these thoughts and hope to see you soon. If you still feel like the Brotherhood of Garr is your calling tomorrow, come see us, before twilight if possible.

>Oh, and if you lack a bed, you can of course sleep in the lodge, even if I don't recommend it for someone so young.
>>
>>4665725
I suppose we head off and look for work in the Artisan Guild then, after giving the Father our thanks
>>
>>4665725
>>4665757
As you exit the chapel you notice that the brothers look more strained than usual. It seems that the news about cultists have affected them all. You try to recollect what you've learned about dark arts during their ceremonies or the few classes the Simh -Family was forced to grant you for an education. It's not much. It all boils down to "DON'T DO IT, YOU DUMB FUCKER! SELL YOUR HOUSE, WHORE YOUR SPOUSE TO THE NORTHERN BARBARIANS IF YOU HAVE TO, BUT NEVER DO DARK ARTS!". You think you understand Father Alfonz a little better now.

As you close in to the Artesan market, the familiar commotion brings back memories. This was a place you spent much of your childhood, before new regulations made hard menial labour illegal for anyone under eleven. There are still scars on your shoulders as memories from that time. But you had friends back then.

"Artesans' guild" is actually not an official guild, but a loose coalition of smaller guilds, whose interests meet more often than not. Most of your acquainstances are from Tailors' Guild, but you also have some contacts in Tanners' Guild as well. Seeing (or smelling) the urine soaked environment of the latter bunch, you decide to meet the tailors first.

You spot your destination. Golden spindle is a teahouse favoured by guild members and you see many half forgotten faces lazing around its patio, enjoying the rays of late summer afternoon. You nod to them as you enter the surprisingly cool interior.

You feel a small jolt as you see the person you were seeking for. 'Madam' was pretty back then, but she has lost most of her beauty after *the Incident*. Garr witness, you hated that bitch back then, but she thaught you some of your most valuable skills and after a few year elsewhere you've noticed that her harshness was not extraordinary. And she has contacts.

>EEEH, * she exclaims*. HAVEN'T SEEN YOUR UGLY MUG IN A WHILE. THREE YEARS, IN FACT! WHATEVER FLEW YOU IN THESE PARTS, LOVE? RUNNING ERRANDS?

How do you respond?
>>
>>4665776
Well, gotta sleep. See you later.
>>
>>4665776
Okay, I'm back. Seeing that there were no suggestions, lets just assume you politely asked for a job.

You notice that her chubby roundness has turned into obesity thanks to her immobile lifestyle and sugary tea she drinks through a straw all day long. Only a person with stable income can afford so copious amount of the stuff, so she must be doing something right in her life.

>I CAN GIVE A WORD FOR YOU, LOVE, BUT I AM PARCHED. BUY ME A DRINK AND WE CAN TALK.

You glance around the counter and look for prices. Ten copper pieces for a glass, that's several meals worth of money and significant portion of your savings.

Do you agree to buy her a drink or do you try to speak to tailors directly? Or do you throw in the towel and see if you have better luck with tanners?
>>
>>4666274
It's an investment. A steep one, but it'll probably pan out.

Pay the ten copper. And chat her up nice 'n polite, too.
>>
>>4666274
I say we go to the tanner's

Also heads up OP, you may want to give more time between posts instead of double posting. As fun as the fast pace was with you yesterday, it makes it hard for other people to jump in and get invested- just a little tip!
>>
>>4666274
Try to find an alternate method to get a job.
Perhaps we should go to one of the islands the Father spoke of...
>>
>>4666629
>>4666636
>>4666642
You manage to turn down the offer without managing to turn it into a complete mess. After exhanging a few pleasantries and insults you leave the place with sour temper. After all those years the old crone wouldn't even give you a few words for free... Fuck her. How hard can it be to land a job?

Your crumbling stomach reminds you that you've not eaten as a free man yet. Thank the Maker Suzie put this bread into your bag. As you munch the tasteless lump, your feet bring you at the old Nasser's house. It's smaller than you remember and time has not been kind to now shady storefront. "Nasser and son: flax, wool and garments" -says the plaque.

The bell chimes as you enter the store. Unlike the store, Nasser looks just like his old self, bald and ageless. Clearly he don't recognize you, and why would he. Ten years ago you were one of the dozens of slaveboys and -girls that toiled in his dusty backroom, when that was still legal.

>Hello, young sir! How can I help you today?

His smile vanishes as you explain who you are and why you are here.

>Sorry, boy. We don't make clothes anymore ourself. It's all from overseas and down the river. You should know, things aren't like they used to in clothing business in this city. The remaining tailors in these parts are more... up market. Say, you could use a new shirt yourself!

A glance reveals that the shirts in his racks are of poor quality, which fits his story. After leaving the store you waddle towards the tanners' corner. Maybe buying Madam a drink would have been the right thing to do... Too late to regret that. Maybe you can fix things with her later, but your lean coin purse reminds you that you need a job sooner than that.

Nose tells you that at least the tanning business of the city is doing dandy. With some trouble you manage to find your old buddy, Max. He is built like a blacksmith, has a messy hair and beard and wears a spotty apron and not much else.

>Ethan, was it? How's it doing, maan? Still working for Simhs?

No, I am a free man now. Starting today, in fact. Speaking of which, do you have a position here? Man's gotta eat.

>Oh, gongrats, man *whistle* We'd like to have all the folks we can get, but the thing is, there's no room to run a bigger operation here, and dad refuses to relocate outside the city for all the good reasons. You know, I think he makes up another reason every time we talk about it. So until that happens or we lose one of our own, we don't have open positions. Sorry.

He stops for a moment.

>Or, wait a bit. I said there is no room inside, but old Burt complains how he is getting too old to drive the piss cart alone. What say you? Could you be his helping hand for, say, five coppers per day? You're good with animals, right?


How do you respond?
Is this it? Nothing else has shown up, but perhaps it will work for the time being before you can land a real job, or you get lucky in some other way. Or join Brothers of Garr.
>>
>>4666729
Let's take it. As you said, it's probably gonna a short term thing.

...how good at animal handling are we, by the way? Did we maybe have a pet in the past?
>>
>>4666729
Let's take it. Something is better than nothing. Maybe we can save up and head to those monestaries.
>>
>>4666807
>>4667189
It's been a week now since you took the job. Old Burt doesn't talk much and that's as well. Man is nearly as dumb and stubborn as the beast pulling the cart. You don't hate animals, but the young ox is making your work harder and messier than it should. Your work day begins before dawn, you make the tour trough city's outhouses from wealthiest to poorest to collect urine for the tanners and it's well into afternoon until you can call it a day and have a dip at the beach. You wish you could afford soap, the smell isn't coming properly off.

During this time you have managed to save ten pieces of copper more than you began with, totalling sixty now. Your daily expenses are a couple of coppers per night for a bed in cheapest bunkhouse you could find (you slept one night at the Brotherhoods lodge, but it's more a hospice than anything else and you fear you will catch a plaque or worse if you stay there) and a meal or two depending how much of the free soup offered by brothers you could get.

Another new routine you have now is attending the evening mess with the Brothers of Garr. The pews of the chapel are much emptier than during the noon service, which makes sense considering those have catering. The message is also much darker. While the day sermon consists of messages of virtues such as humility and gratitude, the evening word warns against doing evil. Nacrotics. Greed. Lust. Each of these get their share of berating and ridicule. Still, the lion's share of caution goes against the supernatural. Father Alfonz and others never go into specifics, but you learn of some of the symptoms and signs dark arts cause to their practicers and environment. They give vague descriptions of some of the false gods and demons that hunger for the souls of mortals. Meera the Homewrecker. Rixtus the Iconoclast. Kalem of Abyss. If you recognized any of their idols and symbols around you, you should leave immediately and alert the Brotherhood, officials or anyone else who could help.

You chat with the brothers about the possibility of joining up. They aren't very enthusiastic about your prospects of meeting the qualifications for an initiate, but the only way of knowing for sure is to travel to a monastery Ikhan or Greyholm and seeing for yourself. Whatever the case, you don't think you can take the piss cart much longer.
>>
>>4667877
How should you proceed?
Travel to Ikhan, a sleepy fishing village further down south on the coast either via road (about a week on foot) or spend your savings to travel with a boat? You should be able to get to the monastery from there with relative ease.
Travel to Greyholm, whose island status is more figurative one as it is located on a mountain top. It's located further inland, four days of walking up river (or a ferry boat if you can afford it) and one day of travel northward. There has been no word from them for over a month now, not since the bridge was broken down during storm. Maybe they have fixed it by now.
Or maybe this is not our career? Maybe you should try contacting your cousin. At least he should know something about your parents and where they fucked off after selling your hide 12 years ago. You know you'd want to share a few choice words with them.
Or you could try to adjust to the smell and wonder how many years it takes until the chemicals of tanning business melts down your brains and you end up as Burt.
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>>4667882
Travel to Greyholm
>>
File: Quairn-map 1.png (150 KB, 438x470)
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>>4667893
Fuck your cousin. The man was probably an useless drunkard anyway and you'd rather meet your family after you turned yourself into something other than a beggar.

You purachase a waterskin and as much beef jerky as you think it will take to reach the village of Tuk four days ahead. Fifteen pieces of copper poorer you march to the Tanners' corner. Quitting your job was easier than you thought. Max wasn't happy, claiming that the old Burt would complain twice as hard now that he had had a helping hand for a time. Still, he was understanding and even gave you his old boots as a parting gift.

With your belongings in a bag, it's time to visit your old chapel for the last time. It's early morning and not many people are present. Sadly the good Father is also away, so you leave a written message.

It seems that there aren't any rafts leaving upstream today and it is not like your possessions weigh much anyway. On foot it is. The road sees relatively heavy traffic this time of the year thanks to local farmers carting various agricultural products to and from the city. Your first day on the road is relatively uneventful and you thank Max in your prayers for gifting you the boots. Now that you think about it, you have never walked such long distances in your life. The strain is considerable, but manageable. And you forgot to buy a hat. Thankfully the few copses dotting the landscape offer some shade. You sleep hiding in one, too tired to bother with shelter.

Your dreams wake you up. It's still dark save the full moon, but you don't feel like going back to sleep either. You can't remember what it was. Something dark. And it's so cold! Shivering and yelping from pain thanks to your aching feet you slowly get up. It must be a hour before sunrise, at least. The trees cast creepy shadows around you and remind of your dream. What was it? Something about skeletal hands on your throat... You don't want to remember.

You try to warm up. The pain wakes you up properly, but anything is better than this icy feeling. After some stretches you feel merely elderly and try to find your way back to the road. Thanks to the moonlight, you find it with little trouble.

Compared to yesterday, this section of the road is barely traversed at this hour. You glance around and only see a cart far ahead of you and... something travelling behind you. You can't make up what it is, but whatever it is, it's big. And dark. Well, it's none of your business. Could be a travelling circus all you care.
>>
>>4668405
Good quest so far. Just keep on walking.
>>
>>4668435
The second day. You catch up with a band of travelling merchants before dawn and they're happy enough to let you travel with them to Tuk. The four of them don't go far enough in their hospitality to offer you a place in their cart. Despite the blisters on your feet giving you trouble, the time flies faster thanks to the idle chatter. You learn little that is useful, but talking to someone for hours after the week you just experienced is refreshing.

>...Anyway. That's how you do it. But tell me, why exactly were you travelling to Tuk? Usually people on these roads go all the way to Inron. Family business, perhaps?

Actually my destination is Greyholm. I intend to join Brothers of Garr, or at least give it a try. They say it is not an easy task.

>From what I have heard, your information is correct. I have great respect for the brothers, but they seem awfully picky on who they aspect into their ranks. How hard can it be to give kind words and soup to the poor? Never been to Greyholm myself. It was supposedly a big town centuries ago, before the Druuk destroyed most of it.

Druuk?

>You haven't heard of them? That's all good, they were hunted to extinction after the Last war. Although some rumours pop up now and then on the more remote merchant routes, I haven't seen any evidence that any of them survived. Half man, half beast. Some say they had canine heads with thousands of teeth, but the one skeleton on display in Royal museum of Inron looked more like a mokey to me. That reminds me, if you ever got a chance to go there yourself, you absolutely must, because...

This is new information to you. Your mental image of Greyholm was some castle on a lonely mountain, but now that image is clearly wrong.

As the sun sets, your band of five arrive at the small hamlet that lies roughly halway between Tuk and Lint, the city you called home. The merchants are wealthy enough to afford a room in the Inn, but five pieces of copper... You showeled a whole day of urine for that kind of money. On the other hand, you don't want to sleep under open sky without a blanket ever again. As a compromise, the innkeeper lets you sleep in the haystack for a whole piece of copper. Highway robbery, but loosers can't be choosers.

The second night of nightmares wake you up again. Once again the details of your dream escape you, but the feel of dread stays longer. At least you are not so chilly this time around, but once again you rise up way before than you would prefer to. After a slight warm up you sit down and wait for sunrise. It would be rude to leave alone and you enjoyed the company.

As you sit and think about nothing in particular, you become aware that once again there is a dark form on the road in the direction you came from. Two makes a pattern, they say. You are afaraid to take your eyes from it, fearing that it will appear closer if you do. As the first rays of sun appear over horizon, it vanishes. Was it really there?
>>
>>4668498
Be wary. Wait for dayfall with one eye open and with our hand next to any weapon we might have.
>>
>>4668508
Properly spooked, you wait for the others to wake up. After what feels like a small eternity, the merchants emerge from the building.

>Ach, morning, young Ethan. Slept well?

Your experience starts to feel less important, so you don't say anything about it and instead respond in kind. As you set up on the next leg of your journey, you notice that the landscape has changed somewhat. The open fields aren't as commonplace and the copses turn into small forests. Before long you walk in the shadow of the unbroken canopy of trees. Bandits aren't unheard of in these parts, but the merchants are more wary all the same. This fits you, as you ponder that dark thing you saw. What the fuck was it? Maybe it was all inside your head? Fuck, maybe it's real AND inside your head! You start to feel pretty shitty assleep deprivation and fatigue sets in and you're full of beef jerky and nothing else. And the forest. You've been in forest once before when you were very small. You think. Maybe that was another dream. By the Maker, you'd wish you were somewhere else, had a nice, big bowl of broth with some turnips on side and maybe a pretty girl to talk to. Your daydreams come to a halt as one of the merchants notices something and signals to stop. A short way off the road lies a brown mound. You are chosen to inspect it closer. It's a dead animal, but nothing like you've seen before. Big, hairy, with long face like a horse or a mule, but...

>Elk.

Says one of the merchants. Elk? You've only ever seen crude drawings of elks. You didn't know they lived so close to the city of Lint. The carcass looks fresh to your untrained eyes, but you can't determine the cause of death. It wasn't starvation, that's for sure, and you can't find any obvious signs of trauma or sickness. It's like the animal just fell on the roadside.

>Well, it doesn't smell rotten. What say you all? Should we butcher it? Shame to waste all that meat.

There are few objections and soon the animal is dragged to a clear ground and cut open. No sense in trying to harvest all the meat, you don't have enough salt on you for curing and you don't have time to cook it all anyway. The merchant doing the cutting divide it on uneven piles. It's clear he has done this before, but not many times.

>Hey, Ethan? Want some round? You can roast it when we reach the camp in about an hour. Bet you're full of that jerky already.

Do you take the fresh meat from the mysterious elk?
>>
leave the meat...seems fishy
>>
>>4668621
Take tho meat, no need to be impolite.
>>
>>4668700
>>4668863
You decide to take the meat out of politeness, but you definitely will not eat it, at least not before oberving how it will affect merchants.

As your companion predicted, you arrive at a small loggers camp within an hour and stop for a dinner. Lucky for you, some fellow travellers arrived there first and had already lit fire in the firepit. One of the merchants brings out a kettle from the cart, intending to boil the meat. pretty soon muddy riverwater bubbles happily in the pot while skevered pieces of meat sizzle right next to it. Just to fit in, you fry your own morsel as well. Even without spices and salt, the smell is mouth watering.

After the meat is ready, it's really hard to resist chomping it down immediately.

Someone roll 1d3, result of 1 means Ethan can't resist the siren song of slighty burnt elk meat.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d3)

>>4668892
Rollan
>>
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>>4669027
With some difficulty, you put the morsel down.

>What's the matter, kid? You food will get cold.

It's alright. I ate some of it (a lie) and want to save some for tomorrow.

>You're fool by doing that. By then it is half as good. It is at its best right now!

Nevertheless, you stick to your decision and eat some jerky instead. It tastes like rubber in your mouth, but better safe than sorry.

Not much later you stop for the night. You should reach Tuk tomorrow. Instead of seeking a palce to sleep in some of the few farmsteads and lgging cabins you come accross occasionally, your band decides to sleep under the shelter of a large tree. The merchants sleep int their cart while you're allowed to share the blanket with the mule. Beats sleeping on hard ground again, I guess.

After a short conversation the merchants decide to start another fire, if only to keep animals away, as well as some of the mosquitoes which seemed to conjure themselves out of thin air as the air got colder.
>>
>>4669427
Boom
>>
>>4669427
You gather around the fire to share stories before going to sleep. The enroaching darkness reminds you of your dream and strange experiences during the last couple of days. The fire keeps you warm for now, but its illumination is limited. The only thing beyond its sphere of illumination you can make out is the riverbed that reflects some of the moonlight. Even the road is invisible, even if you know it is the, only a dozen paces away.

>You, know, Phil, sometimes I...

The merchant stops mid sentece. You look up from the fire, but at first everything seems normal. Then you notice that the rest are frozen in time, gestures and expressions perfectly still. Only their eyes are alive, darting wildly across each others and you. Panicking, you try to move yourself and it seems whatever spell has taken a hold of your companions doesn't seem to affect you. Not yet, at least. You try to help the others, but beofre more than touching one of them you notice the now familiar shape standing just beyond the edge of illumination. The fire goes out. The mule screams.
>>
>>4669445
Someone roll a 1d100 roll for speed and 1d12 for direction
>>
Rolled 66 (1d100)

>>4670035
>>
Rolled 6 (1d12)

>>4669445
>>
>>4670089
>>4670101
Hmm, looks like we're stumbling towards the river.

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck... Your nightvision has not kicked in yet, so the only things you can see are the moon and the vague shape of river. That's as good direction as any for your panic struck lizard brain and you barrel towards it, keepinf your head low. Twigs scratch your arm and neck, but you don't slow down. Suddenly the ground below turn into mush and then you jump trough some reeds into the water. It takes a second to reach the surface and you gasp for air. You were never some prodigy in swimming, but you can handle yourself in water. After a few strong strokes you turn into your back to see behind you. The shade is there and ... looking at you on the bank. Then it starts to move. You immediately resume your impromptu swimming practice with redoubled effort. Luckily the stream isn't strong at this part, but the river is dozens of paces wide. After a short time that feels like an eternity you reach the opposite shore. A short glance back reveals that the shade is in the middle of the river, not walking on water, but on.. a hole? A small vortex of water circle a black spot of nothingness wherever it stands. The shade closes in slowly.

How the fuck did you end here and what do you do now?
>>
>>4670733
Run
>>
>>4670733
Book it and look for some shelter/a thicket to hide in
>>
>>4670828
>>4671125
After a couple of deep breaths you start to make yout way trough the thick undergrowth. After a short way you found your way to a footpath that runs alongside the river. Locals, animals and local animals probably use it. After a few minutes of sprinting, you slow down to a jog and then a brisk walk. It is not like you wouldn't want to move faster, but you are simply too exhausted. Also the land is more swampy treacherous this side of the river and you can barely see anything. Quick glances back strongly encourage you to move on, as the shade does seem to keep following you. You think. It's hard to make out a formless dark figure in a forest at night, moonlight or not. Every shadow could be it and every time you consider stopping, there seems to be another one that could be your assailant.

Pretty soon your night becomes a nightmare of starting and stopping to catch your breath and looking for directions, only to then again start a mad dash further along the paath. You definitely don't want to stray for the river, because you know practically nothing of the land this side of the river and your fear of getting lost is nearly as strong as getting caught. Before long you're running on pure adrenaline.

It's been hours now (or maybe just some minutes, you've lost your sense of time), you're wet, cold, sweaty and dirty. Three days of walking didn't prepare you for this, they might have done the opposite. Your clothes have torn, the already healed blisters and callouses in your feet have opened and hurt like hell. You haven't had the chance to ever pour the water from your boots, so they slosh and squeak as you jog. Finally you run out of stamina and stumble to the ground. Blackness follows.

Cont.
>>
>>4671181

Light. What? Are you dead? As you senses return to you, you wish you were. It's daytime, you think. Morning? You hear bird calls at the distance, but that's where the pleasant things end. You've probably pulled more muscles than you can name and your breath come with a rasp. You also have a fever. With groan you open your eyes and try to pull yourself up with little success. You'd cry if you only had the energy.

>Oh, so you are still alive, boy?

The jolt you feel proves that maybe you still have some life left in you. You search the source of the voice, which reveals itself to be a huge bear of a man clad in furs.

Barely, you whisper and then have a fit of cough. Who are you?

>Just a fellow traveller. Found you laying where you are. Couldn't wake you up. Helped myself with your purse. *He shows your coinpurse and shakes with a yellow grin* Figured you were dead, so it would be a waste to leave it.

Hey! That's mine!, you state the obvious.

>Well, kid, seeing your situation, there's pretty little you can do about it. Of course, now that you're alive, that would be robbing instead of looting, and I only practice former if I absolutely have to. So, what say you, that you instead give this money to me, and I help you into Tuk as a reward. I may even throw in a discount!

He laughs. You don't really have an option on the matter. The man introduces himself as Grigori and practically carries you on his soulder like a piece of ham. The shaking and general nausea would make you throw up if you'd had more contents in your stomach. After about an hour the pathway becomes a road and not soon later you see the palisade that surrounds the town of Tuk. Seems like fright really does grant you wings, you were closer than you thought.

As the southern gatehouse comes into view, Grigori puts you down not so gently.

>Well, I'm sure you can crawl the rest of the way. I have business on the dockside. Farewell. It was ,y pleasure.

He pauses for a second.

>Though, I think I did gave you a discount, didn't I? Here, these are yours.

He throws a small handful of coppers onto your feet. and then vanishes.

After collecting your strength for a minute or two you pick up the coppers and count them. 8. 8 pieces of copper on your name, torn clothes on your back, muddy boots and pain. Probably pneumonia as well. Alone on the gates of a town you know little of. This day was starting well. Painfully, you nudge yourself towards the gatehouse, considering your options.

Well, you do need help, that is for sure. The Guards should let you in, as you're clearly not a threat. What to tell them? Where to go next? You think there are only a couple of Brothers of Garr in Tuk, but they should help you if no-one else. If you can find them.
>>
>>4671206
Find some brothers of Garr. Tell them why you went on the journey, what happened in it, and how you got here.
>>
>>4671206
We limp over to the guards and try to do our best imitation of an upper-class accent. Maybe it'll garner more sympathy.

>"Excuse me kind sirs, I appear to have been ambushed by some marauders on my journey here. Would you be so kind as to let me in so I can recover my strength?"
>>
>>4671336
>>4671364

You almost make it to the gate before you're spotted.

>Goodness, man. What happened to you? Let me come down and open the gate.

With a squeak the gate opens ajar and strong pair of arms grab you and carry to a hard bench. A pair of guards clad in leather inspect your wounds.

>You look like you've bee run over by a herd of bulls, what happened?

You give them a slightly embellished version of the events of the last night. Instead of mentioning the shade you tell that your group was attacked by some unidentifiable individuals and you've been on the run ever since. You try to sound more posh than you are, but either the guards don't buy or don't care. After exhanging some words with their higherups, you've handled trough the town towards the guardhall. Lint wasn't big city by your understanding, but compared to Tuk it is huge. Barely any building here have more than one storey and you doubt more than a thousand people live here. Most things are build from wood, only the largest streets have copplestone and most ways have only some planks on the ground protecting the pedestrians from ever present mud.

Your sightseeing tour trough the town comes to an end when you reach the guard hall. You've let into cell, fact which suprises you but you're too worn out to protest.

>If what you say is true, we should hear reports about the remains of your camp within the end of day. The road from Lint is widely travelled, someone has to have seen something. Meanwhile you will wait in custody, we will send someone to nurse your wounds.

After a short rest in solitude you are visited by a scribe, who writes down an official report of the events. Only after that an old apothecary comes, bandages some of your wounds and makes you drink some horrible tasting tinctura that should help with the fever.

After hours of waiting with only plain water, you've led into the office of the guard captain. He is a stocky, round, bald man with massive moustaches and nose that makes him look like a drunkard. The eyes, however, are keen and calculative.

>You must forgive us for locking you up like that. You never know what kind of cooky plot those forest bandits come up with next. Better safe than sorry, eh?

>With that out of the way, lets get into business. I am sorry to inform you that somebody did found the camp you described, but your companions were nowhere to be seen. What is even stranger, that their cargo seem to more or less untouched, they even found the mule from the nearby grove. We don't know whether the assailants hope to collect ransom over their heads, but this sure is one of the strangest cases I've ever seen.

What happens with the cargo?

>We keep it for the time being in case we hear from the kidnappers, the family or some other party of interest. I have already sent a squad to secure it, in case the looters haven't stolen everything, that is.

Can I get my stuff back?

Cont.
>>
>>4671436

>That can be arranged, but only after We have catalogued all the items.

You are led out of the office and set free.

As you are exiting a building, a guard tug your shirt.

>Psst. I heard what the old geezer said about your belongings. What I understood from the report is that yours consists of a single bag of clothes and papers. No need to keep those back from you. Come to the northern gatehouse later this afternoon and we can pinch them for you from the cart for a couple of coppers. The scribe will understand, it's only less work for him,

You thank him and say that you consider it. While he's there, you ask him some directions around the town. The river and the bridge you were supposed to arrive is north of the town, as are the docks. Then right inside the walls there are some warehouses and markets. Administrative centre, where you are, is roughly at the centre. The western side is where the better folk live, while the eastern side is for workers and poors. Southern side of the town is a mix, as many locals enter from the southern gate to trade furs, game, grains and whatever else they forage or grow. He doesn't know where the chapel of Brothers of Garr is, the local river god is more popular religion around here, but he suspects it is on the eastern side.

8 pieces of copper, empty stomach and a torn shirt, where to go next? You suspect you have at least a few hours to decide if you want to take the deal with the corrupt guard or not. Grigori said he went to the docks, but you doubt you have a good chance of getting your money back, at least not without getting involved with the guards again. You could buy new shirt, but that is little sense if you can get your spare clothes back.
>>
>>4671485
Well, I'll probably write something tomorrow, replies or not.
>>
>>4672961
Thanks. The only advice I can give is to offer more clear choices at the end, like this at the end of it.
>do thing 1
>do thing 2
>write-in
Also, break up your paragraphs.
>>
>>4673192
Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, that sounds pretty obvious in hindsight. I try to stick to it and see whether things wind up.

You stumble into the East side of town as instructed. After asking around for directions, you find your way into an old warehouse looking building. Only some familiar symbols over the doorframe and a small plaque tell that you've found the the chapel you were looking for.

After nobody answers to your knocks, you enter and see a lone brother sleepin on one of the pews inside a large room that take most of the building. Dust dances in the afternoon sunlight and the place looks like it doesn't see as much use as the chapel back home.

You nudge the sleeping form.

>WHa- Who are you?

-He asks in gruff voice.

Hello. My name is Ethan Radstell. I Come from Lint and I intend to join the Brotherhood if I'm able. As for my appereance, well...

You tell the unabridged version of the events to the brother, who listens with growing sense of concern in his eyes. After you conclude your story, he ponders for a while.

>If what you have told me is true, there is something terrible afoot indeed. If only the others weren't in Greyholm to help with the bridge repairs. Come, lets get you something to eat while I consider all this.

You exit the main hall and enter a small kitchen at the back of the building. The brother gives you some stale bread and sausages from the pantry, which you wolf down without second thought.

As you finish your meal, he brings some implements from the room next door and put them on the table. Among them is a box, from which he produces a cheap looking ring. After he put it into your finger, the quartz on top of it turns black.

Cont.





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