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File: DnyJ8bqWkAE03XI.jpg (141 KB, 800x1200)
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Four years have passed since what is now called “the Sunwell Crisis” - a time when the infamous Sunhawks, led by prince Kael’thas Sunstrider, attempted to summon the demonic Burning Legion into this world. In a desperate struggle the mad tyrant and his slavish loyalists were defeated - and a new age has begun for the elvenkind, one of recovery and prosperity.

But you are ‘Lynestra Dawnstrider’, the last Sunhawk. And currently - the errand girl to the robber baron of Strahnbrad and the Shadow Council's bitch. Having to juggle your allegiances to the dark wizards and Alterac's brigands was always going to be a challenge in itself - but the worst is yet to come, as the list of the Syndicate's enemies is ever growing. Having just survived a close encounter with a new menace: Stromgarde's undead allies, you are in desperate need of recovery and rest.
Who knows, if you're getting either?

>Google document, constantly updated
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-jPBo0HRy-9zORO12ZO325ka3L1e2Bsjrtzo9RDlO20/edit?usp=sharing

>Twitter, because you have to have one these days
https://twitter.com/sunhawkqm

>Previously, on the Last Sunhawk
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4929317/

Hopefully, you've spent this break doing productive things, like playing story campaigns of Warcraft III. We're back.
>>
Rolled 2, 1, 5, 2 = 10 (4d6)

EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: Everything hurts, all the time (4)
Fate Points: 3

Time to present the duke with a heroic tale of your exploits. You've never been much of a storyteller, but this could be the first time someone ever listened to you.

(Dazzle +0)
>>
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"Are you feeling well?", the boy lord inquired, looking at your pale face with concern. "Perhaps, it's a bad time for a social call. You don't look..."

This was not the moment to show weakness, admit the pain of either flesh or soul, beg to know if anyone visited you. Of course people visited you. Brooks had a vigil over your bed. You're the hero of the day - and your exploits should be immortalized in a saga. Or at least a tale. Such was already emerging deep from within your vast soul, pushing through insignificant memories and unbecoming self-pity - you just needed to open your mouth.

"I'm great!", you were a little too quick to assure his grace. The decision to stand on your feet to demonstrate just how well you were feeling was a little bit too hasty too - as immediately, you twisted your face in a grimace of ungodly suffering and collapsed on the edge of the bed again. Speaking the following spiel through your clenched teeth, in a hiss, perhaps also has been a mistake. "An armored corpse... Fought many like them in the liberation war. Can't... Can't keep me down."
To see yesterday's child - and perhaps, even today's child - raise his eyebrow skeptically at your assurances was the biggest humiliation of your entire life, at least of those you could remember at the moment. It was quickly topped by a clearly insincere agreement from the Dryden lordling:
"Yes, I've... I've heard that you did very well. Please, sit. You have nothing to prove to me."

In your experience, people that claimed that you have nothing to prove to them, tended to be lying. For your sake, out of pity. You've just felled a death knight, and he was pitying you. You needed to take control of the situation, fast.
"Still, he was... A very dangerous foe.", for some reason, your tongue was not obeying you quite as well. Words were slurring in your mouth. You were stumbling. You needed to stop trying to speak so fast, but pausing would look even worse. "One of the few, few still remaining in these lands - of his breed and caliber. I'm proud to have been... The one to do it - not diminish the heroism of the rest, but, not to boast, I was the one who stared him down..."
"I was told.", duke Dryden interjected, hoping to end this story before it even managed to begin. "I assure you, I know of your contributions - and I'm here to commend you on your bravery."
He sighed, gesturing barely.
"I can see with my own eyes, that you were in the thick of it. There's no real need for me to hear this again, especially when you need to rest."
>>
Again, you were being shut up during your moment - but this time, by a human child. Not even being on the death row in the dungeons of Dalaran felt this badly - and for a few seconds, you were silent. After breathing in deeply - and immediately regretting it - you've closed your eyes and nodded.

"As you wish, your grace.", you've let out. "I was just hoping to deliver these news myself. Still... Since you have heard what happened already, I wish... I would like to..."
You thought on your wording for a second too long, and lord Dryden intervened.
"I understand. Well, according to the sources - many different sources - you've found several of my men dead. Then you've chased after their killers, tracked them down, and those turned out to be a death knight and an army of undead."
He spoke calmly, factually. If he was nervous, his facade did not betray it - he probably had time to panic over it, long before he ever entered this room.
"You took initiative and engaged in a verbal duel with the fiend - then, you've engaged in an actual duel. In the chaos of the battle, you've received a heavy blow - but still persisted. I was even told that you prevented the enemy's retreat somehow, with magic."
He remained still for a moment, thinking if he should or should not say something. You've known the next words that came out of his mouth, before they actually sounded.
"Sir Mercer has qualms about this particular decision, but..."
Of course he has, you wanted to say, but bit your tongue. To be perfectly fair, your daring move has immediately costed lives - and while Mercer would undoubtedly prefer it to be yours in particular, you lived, and you'd hear no end of it. Soon enough, you will be engaged in fierce debates on the subject of many potential deaths you averted by not letting the enemy to fight another day.

"...but the fight was resolved in our favour. The enemy is dead, and the dead are avenged."
Your prudent mind would not let the many things wrong about that story slip - namely, two. The duke focused exclusively on your great contributions, and neglected to mention contributions of everyone else - including very possibly saving your life, while you were on the ropes. There was simply no way he did not hear about that part, and there was no way he was leaving it by accident.
>>
"And what happened then?", you inquired carefully. "Did they burn the body?"
"There was not much left to burn, from what I was told.", the duke smiled faintly. He enjoyed imagining that. "As for his armor and weapon, sir Mercer asked for those to be granted as spoils of war. I saw no reason not to grant this request, although I did remind him to clean it first."
And now Mercer had magic armor - as well as a weapon. Grand.
"After that, they've returned to the town in haste. There were fears about this being merely a distraction, about the supposed main force sacking Strahnbrad while you were away. Clearly, this did not happen - and things have been relatively calm. I've summoned the council, and decided to send runners to other lords - warn them of the danger and come back with news. They're yet to return."

"I could...", you breathed in sharply. Again, a mistake. "If there's anything I can do, your grace..."
"The best thing you can do for Strahnbrad right now, is to rest.", the human shut you down in an instant. "You have a great need of it. Now that I've answered the question of what you can do for our grace, please answer, what our grace can do for you. Do you need anything? Beyond peace?"

>Write-in
>>
>>4992051
Welcome back QM.

>>4992057
Classic dice for us at this point, I suppose we'll be verbal diarrheaing all over the place.

I don't suppose you forgot Bondweaver and we actually did slightly better than our roll may indicate? It may be too much to hope, but I gotta try.

---

I'll avoid voting right away since I want to ask the other anons what they think about the Duke's question. Is there anything we want from the Duke?

I personally think we may want to ask for Jarad's tome that Mercer is keeping. We'd like to do some light reading.

Maybe news from the council discussions and any news the runners return with.

I dunno what else at the moment. Those are my ideas to start with.
>>
>>4992195
>I don't suppose you forgot Bondweaver
I don't think Bondweaver should apply in this scenario. You're not really making friendly conversation - you're trying to puff up your chest and pretend that nothing is bothering you, while also cementing your place as THE hero of the battle.
But I'm willing to listen to counterarguments.
>>
>>4992108
Seduce him for the heck of it
>>
>>4992209
Nah, you already wrote out the whole series of posts, I'm not sure why I asked. I was more asking if you forgot it if it applied, I wasn't insisting it did.

Though I will say that this...
>[Dazzle] I'm not fine, I'm great! Present a heroic tale of the battle, from my perspective.

...sounds a bit different than...
>you're trying to puff up your chest and pretend that nothing is bothering you, while also cementing your place as THE hero of the battle.

As the first greentext to me just sounded like enthusiastically telling the tale from our point of view.

Though to counter myself a little, the earlier vote regarding our opinion on the Death Knights attacking Alterac certainly indicates we are more than a little full of ourselves for having helped slain a Death Knight. So it makes sense in the end.
>>
File: lynestra.png (103 KB, 256x256)
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https://artflow.ai/

>>4992195
I support asking for whatever our "predecessor" left behind, though whether we'll actually get anything is another matter.

>>4992108
>"Your Grace, I require strong alcohol. B-but, only to allay the the pain, you see. I can assure you that I am most certainly not some sort of inebriate."
>>
>>4992333
lol, I could definitely see us saying this had we chosen Possessed by Spirits. Hell, I could still see us asking for a drink even without the flaw, we've been through some shit.
>>
>>4992108
Well, I have to sleep now, so I'll submit my vote for now.

>Ask for Jarad's tome and for the results of the discussions between the council, plus any news the runners bring back.

>Ask for a strong drink, our ribs still hurt.
>>
>>4992108
Backing the request for the tome, seems like a safe bet.
>>
You've thought on the matter very briefly - it did not take long for you to pinpoint several things that you could ask for. One of them, you had a feeling that you wanted - the other, you needed.
"If I'm not too bold, your grace...", you began. "It's several things I wish to ask for. Firstly, I would like some strong wine - for the pain, of course. Strictly for the pain."
The boy duke nodded without hesitation:
"You need not even ask.", he assured. "Anyone in..."
Your state, he was going to say, but he bit his tongue. The pause was short, but it did not escape your notice.
"...your situation would receive it. We have no shortage of alcohol - although it may not be as delicate as you're used to."
The words were not spoken with mockery - but in a genuinely apologetic tone. He wished he could provide you with the refined thalassian wines instead of whatever poison you would have to pour down your throat, probably made out of beets and the dreaded potato, with which humans seemed inexplicably obsessed with.
"I'll make do.", you nodded slowly. "It's for the pain only, your grace, I'm not some..."
You've heard a saying somewhere, that a man only becomes an alcoholic once he begins drinking alone. Should you be using very large quantities of the strong drink to numb the pain, you would have to find yourself a companion. In any case, you did not finish the sentence, only gestured vaguely to show your disdain for these sad people.

"As for my second request, I would like the grimoire of one Jarad.", your change in subject came quickly and suddenly. To the duke, it must have been like a whiplash.
"Jarad?", he asked, blinking.
"My predecessor.", you confirmed. "I was told that before me, the Wake's man here was a human named Jarad, of whom little more remains than a grimoire. It's that tome that I want."
"I knew Jarad, yes.", the Dryden scion confirmed with a slow nod. "Sir Mercer should have his book now, he's... Taking a look at it."
Nothing you haven't already known from Church, but it was good to have it confirmed from another source. Trusting another warlock on his word, no matter the triviality of the matter, was always a fool's game.
"I'll see..."
What I can do.
"...to it.", the duke muttered, before asking. "What's your interest in it?"

>I've been told Jarad died a death, circumstances of which I consider suspicious. The grimoire may have answers.
>Mercer is not a warlock, he's not even a mage of any sort. This book won't be useful to anyone in his hands.
>Each warlock is a researcher, of sorts, so grimoires always have useful knowledge in them. I strive to be better, and serve this kingdom better.
>I know a friend of his, Godfrey Church. I think it's right that Jarad's things pass to him.
>The grimoire is the Wake's property, and the Wake has decided that I am Jarad's successor. I don't mean no disrespect, but this tome already belongs to me.
>What's YOUR interest in it?
>Am I not entitled to this reward with no questions asked?
>>
>>4994840
>>I've been told Jarad died a death, circumstances of which I consider suspicious. The grimoire may have answers.
If nothing else, if the guy really did blow himself up with a dumbass spell it'd be worth looking into what spells he was researching so we avoid the same mistake.
>>
>>4994840
>I've been told Jarad died a death, circumstances of which I consider suspicious. The grimoire may have answers.
>Mercer is not a warlock, he's not even a mage of any sort. This book won't be useful to anyone in his hands.
>>
>>4994875
+1
>>
>>4994840
>>I've been told Jarad died a death, circumstances of which I consider suspicious. The grimoire may have answers.
>The grimoire is the Wake's property, and the Wake has decided that I am Jarad's successor. I don't mean no disrespect, but this tome already belongs to me.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

I've really expected a tiebreaker by now, but very well.
>>
"It is about the manner of his death.", you answered without a moment of thought. "Warlocks perishing by their own spells is not unheard of - dark magic does not tolerate mistakes - but considering the circumstances..."
The duke tensed a little in his seat. It bothered him, that you came to this conclusion.
"You think he might have been killed?", he asked directly.
"It's not impossible.", you allowed. "Anyone in my position would be nervous. I'm not saying Jarad was definitely murdered, and I am next - but it would soothe my soul, if I knew there was no foul play. This is why I'm asking to see the tome."
The boy did not answer you for several long moments. He was thinking - and it did not take a great sage in the matters of human emotions to know, that his thoughts were dark.
"Sir Mercer also suspects something.", he confessed then. "And I'm concerned that both of you independently came to the same conclusion."
"I did not.", you reminded.
"...same suspicion, then.", the boy spoke with some annoyance at your semantics. "From what I've heard, it seemed very much like some mishap. Jarad was a talented wizard. And while it's true that he did not seem the sort to make mistakes, it's as you've said..."
"...there is always a danger.", you finished for him.

For a few seconds, both of you have sat in silence. The problem of Jarad has long been in the background for his lordship, it was evident. And now you've not only reminded him of it, but all but confirmed existence of some nefarious conspiracy. "Who could have done it?", the boy was now wondering. "How many enemies do I have, and what do I do now?".
He demonstrated some admirable resolve by not speaking any of those questions out loud, instead only letting them obviously torment him.
"You'll be provided the tome.", he nodded at you. "It's not likely sir Mercer will find much, regardless. And perhaps it would be wise of you to speak to him of his findings, if there's opportunity. If you come to any conclusions, one way or another..."
"I'll inform you right away.", you assured.

Another few seconds of silence. Heavy, grim. It would be wise to change the subject - but sadly, most other thoughts that entered your mind at the time were also heavy and grim. Perhaps, it was not right to lay even more on his youthful soul. But perhaps, some things needed to be said now.
>>
>So, he's not upset that I'm from the Shadow Council? Because I can't imagine the entirety of Mercer's retinue has gone deaf when the death knight mentioned it.
>Change the subject back to the Death Knights of Strom. Tell him everything I know, except, perhaps, the fact that I've neglected to inform him about them before.
>Inform him of everything I know about the Argus Wake, and their agenda. He needs to know they're not his friends.
>Perhaps it's a good time for him to know, why am I really here.
>I could not help but notice that sir Mercer bears some grudge against me.
>On the matter of Jarad... Who was he? What did he do?
>Perenolde or Falconcrest?
>How did his lordship come to rule this place? I can't imagine it was easy.
>Time for some idle chit-chat. Let's gossip about some people, who are currently alive. [Specify]
>[Write-in]
>>
>>4997845
>How did his lordship come to rule this place? I can't imagine it was easy.
>Compliment his dashing looks and stately manner.

Thinking on it, this is is a good chance to get close to the duke since his retainers aren't hovering around. He already seems to like us, or at least treats us favorably, and it doesn't really seem like he has any confidants here. More importantly, it would probably rustle Mercer's jimmies.
>>
>>4997937
Is it wise to ask him about that knowing that his father must've died when he is so young? (probably violently) Given that the seemingly relatively young Brooks was taken in by the Elder Duke sometime earlier.

Also kinda weird for a 60 plus year old elf to be hitting on a teenager.

>>4997845
>Change the subject back to the Death Knights of Strom. Tell him everything I know, except, perhaps, the fact that I've neglected to inform him about them before.

Alternatively we could chat about Sherman's guardian figure, the priest, the Duke doesn't seem to appreciate him for obvious reasons but Sherman painted a good picture of his moral character. Maybe lighten the mood, slightly.

I do want to tell him about the wake, but first I'd like to ask him about why no one seems to care that the wake is part of the shadow council. Perhaps in typical Alteraci fashion they have chosen to ignore the character of their allies in order to benefit from their alliance. Best not to blurt out how evil they are before seeing if he even cares, we wouldn't want to out ourselves so readily as a traitor.
>>
>>4997973
Grannies tell people how good they look all of the time, there's nothing weird about paying blandishments. Yet comparatively, we're not much older than him, and "Lynestra" is some pretty stranger from an exotic land. Who better to confide in? True, it may turn out poorly, as we are as charismatic as a cold potato. But it's also an opportunity to build a rapport while Mercer isn't here to shout us down.
>>
>>4997845
>>4997845
>>How did his lordship come to rule this place? I can't imagine it was easy.
My concern with the deah knights option is we'll continue to provide info he already knows about from the others, and look foolish. Also don't want to keep banging on about his enemies - hopefully asking about his rulership is a bit less fraught.
>>
>>4997937
supporting
>>
I feel like this is a big one. Let's see if we get a tiebreaker.
>>
>>4997937
+1
>>
If we are going for a compliment and trying to ask about his past, do we want to use an early FP given we have low Dazzle?
>>
Rolled 5, 2, 3, 3 = 13 (4d6)

>>5000568
Great idea.

(Bondweaver +2, Fate point +2)
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: Everything hurts, all the time (4)
Fate Points: 2

You've already had an idea as to how lighten the mood, even if slightly so - you just needed a way to get there. Every second you've spent looking at each other in silence was the second this already difficult morning had a chance of becoming unbearable.

"In any case...", you suddenly looked up and tried to smile. "I have faith that everything will be well, because I have a complete faith in how you're approaching things."
The boy blinked. He was glad to hear that, although he did not yet understand where you were going with this:
"You do?", he inquired. "I'm glad to have made an impression, but I don't quite understand when that happened."
Hook, line and sinker. If you were to judge by yourself, everyone enjoyed hearing good things about themselves - and when they said things like this, it was an invitation to say more good things about them, in extreme detail. Your only problem right now would be overdoing it - as you did not quite know where the line was.

"When I was first riding through these lands, I did not intend to make stops.", you confessed. "My stay here was originally an accident. And to confess, I did not think much of the Syndicate either. I've thought that honor and nobility are lost to this land."
May have gone a little too far, but it will probably matter little. The main course was well on the way.
"...I was never more glad to be proven wrong.", you finished, not too quickly. "Here, I've seen patriots, capable soldiers and most of all - a lord. Not a robber baron, not a bandit captain, but a lord."
"A lord.", the duke rose his head a little.
"A lord, from a tapestry - maybe not of the present day, but certainly of tomorrow.", you assured. "Have you looked in the mirror, your grace? Fair, bright-eyed, tall... If the political situation was different, you'd be betrothed - if you are not betrothed already."

Lord Dryden has gained a little bit of color in the cheeks.
"That's... Still being discussed.", he gestured weakly. In the instance, your imagination went wild. What kinds of bandit princesses dwell in these parts, that he'd have to wed for a hundred more men at his command?
>>
"Not that I'm just saying that you'll be a handsome lord in a few years.", you noted then. "It's about now too. You're calm and collected beyond years, you know when to speak, and when to listen. You're not too familiar - but not too distant either. Where I come from, we call this a 'stately manner'."
The lordling smiled a little. He was glad that you noticed, and that you valued it.
"I've learnt how to act by looking at my father. His lordship always said that he's here to rule vassals, not a gang - and that he'll act like a lord, king or no king.", he hesitated for a moment. "At times, I wonder if it's entirely appropriate. Not all of my men seem to be inspired by the image. But..."
...you appear to like it.
"We will not be a syndicate forever. I feel like when this land grows tamed again, once we crown a king, manners will become fashionable again."

"Your father.", you caught on. "Was he much like you?"
"Better than me.", the young duke assured you. "In all regards. He was a warrior and a knight, a man of great honor. All who knew the name of Richard Dryden, could attest to that. He followed the king loyally into the war..."
What it meant was, his loyalty did not waver once Alterac aligned itself with the orcish horde, and against the alliance of men.
"...and once the war was lost, he was stripped of lands and titles. Many years have passed, since he returned to his homeland - and it's during those hard years, that I was born. He was forced to travel from court to court, until finally an opportunity to reclaim Alterac has come."
And that would be the plague of undeath, that utterly devastated most of the opposition the Syndicate would otherwise have.
"He assembled a great number of adventurers..."
Bandits.
"...such as sir Mercer on the way, promising a new kingdom, a haven in the mountains. Once he reached these parts, an even greater number of patriots would join him too. He was one of the founding fathers of the Syndicate - has been there when lord Aliden had the charter signed."
>>
"Sir Egmund is not from Alterac?", you inquired quickly, before the story concluded with lord Richard's recent death.
The way he spoke of the events clearly implied that there was a separation between "adventurers" and "patriots" - and that Mercer belonged to the first group. For some reason, this knowledge bothered you.
"Not from Alterac, no.", the duke shook his head. "My father met him in Lordaeron, when sir Egmund was not yet a knight of Alterac, but instead a hired sword. I know little of his past, but the important parts - that he saved my father's life multiple times, and has been a great friend to both of us. Without him, I would not be here - so I forgive the man for the lack of war stories."

For a moment, he was quiet, considering something. You already knew what.
"If only he was there on that fateful day...", he muttered.
"What happened?", you asked, very cautiously. The wound was likely fresh in his memory - but the boy did raise the subject himself.
"The details, I fear I will never know.", the duke clenched his teeth. "My father went to negotiate with the Alliance men. A truce - perhaps even a union against the common enemies. Their leader was an honorable man, or so it seemed, and a parley was agreed to - under its flag, my father should have been safe. Instead, once he arrived, they slaughtered him like an animal - him and every man he had with him. Those who surrendered, were hanged 'like the common criminals they were'. That's what was written in the letter we received soon after that. Together with a demand of unconditional surrender."

The boy closed his eyes, falling quiet. His hands should have been quaking with rage - but instead, a melancholy must have washed over him, and a moment of weakness with it.

>The old duke was too trusting and too honorable in a time that does not reward or forgive honorable men. There is a lesson to be learnt here.
>Although it is an unfortunate end, we all die - the good and the wicked. The duke's honorable life, not his death, is something he should be remembered by.
>I'll just be silent.
>>
>>5001399
>Although it is an unfortunate end, we all die - the good and the wicked. The duke's honorable life, not his death, is something he should be remembered by.

I don't want to influence the good boy duke to be more "pragmatic". His attempts at retaining the seemingly lost honour of Alterac's past are the only thing that are preventing his men from being a band of marauding thugs and the only way Alterac will transition into a stable nation with solid institutions is if the people leading it and upholding those institutions are honourable and rational people.

If there is a similar situation to his father's then we can simply encourage him to scout and investigate the other party more thoroughly and come prepared with a big stick, but the cloak and dagger shit while entirely appropriate on occasions and sometimes necessary is not how you wanna do things on the regular.

Hell, while there will be plenty of deeds both dark and dumb that we'll probably end up undertaking, some of them necessary, it'd be good to have an ideal ourselves to aspire to.

I'm super paranoid about Mercer being an alliance spy or a secret warlock now.
>>
>>5001399
>>Although it is an unfortunate end, we all die - the good and the wicked. The duke's honorable life, not his death, is something he should be remembered by.
>>
>>5001399
>Although it is an unfortunate end, we all die - the good and the wicked. The duke's honorable life, not his death, is something he should be remembered by.

Just seems fitting given the defeat we suffered and our (likely selective) memory of the prince.

>>5001825
We'll deal with him... probably. We'll have to set aside some time to stalk him later, if only to dig up some dirt on him.
>>
>>5001399
>>Although it is an unfortunate end, we all die - the good and the wicked. The duke's honorable life, not his death, is something he should be remembered by.
>>5001825
It's suspicious, but not yet suspicious enough to throw accusations around. Is Stromgarde in the Alliance at this point?
>>
>>5002811
I'm not sure, we are in MoP timeline and Danath apparently leads Strom as of right now, so I'd say that if they haven't rejoined the Alliance yet they will soon.
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: Everything hurts, all the time (4)
Fate Points: 2

"My condolences.", you spoke quietly. "The loss of such a man is a loss for us all."
The duke only nodded, silently. He was grim, and you had little doubt that his this thoughts right now were of two things - of revenge, and of how hopeless the thought of such a revenge was. Who made the fatal decision, all those years ago? How many people did it pass down in the chain of command? Were these people even alive anymore, you wondered, or were they the remnants of the northern Alliance, of which so few remained now? If it were the old union, it was dubious if there was anyone even left to take revenge on now. And if it were the new men, men of the south - they had the whole might of their flag behind them.

He needed to be guided away from those defeatist thoughts - and you already knew what to say.
"A lesser man...", you began cautiously. "...would allow this tragedy to blacken his heart. It's the most devious quality of evil men - they make more of themselves."
A brief pause, and a glance spared at the boy. He was at least listening to what you had to say, looking at you.
"I didn't know your father.", you admitted quickly. It was best to get this out of the way. "But I think I knew men like him, noble men, who valiantly fought for what they believed in. They have not always met good ends, yes - but we all die. I would say that we're all equal in death, but we're not."
You tried to stand from your place, for extra flair - and, after a few seconds of effort, you managed to. A step was made away from your bed and across the room, and you've struggled to keep the grimace of pain away from your face. Now was not the time.
"When the just perish, they leave behind a noble legacy. Memories of their heroism, of their righteousness, of their sacrifice - if there was such a thing. They live on in death, inspiring us with their example from the beyond. And when, in turn, death comes for the wicked, they leave nothing but our scorn, our contempt - if even that."
You inhaled deeply, and attempted a smile.
"His grace Richard may have died, but I have faith that he did not leave you. I see his legacy in you, your lordship, but also in this land, in his noble name, in the men he has forged - not brigands, but soldiers. His spirit persists in everything he has built. And I think that if he was here now, he would be proud that you carry on his works."
>>
The young duke listened to you speak silently and attentively - and as you talked, you desperately tried to see some meaning in those slightly watering eyes of his. When you finished, a great silence stood between the two of you, until...
"It is a harsh time in the kingdom of Alterac...", the boy smiled very faintly, shaking his head. "When it is a foreign witch that delivers a rousing sermon, instead of our own priest."
You frowned a little:
"I did not mean to proselytize, your grace. If I was out of..."
"No, no.", the boy quickly shook his head. "It was a good speech. I liked it, I thought it was wise. I have never looked at things in such a way."
He too rose from his seat and made a step:
"Thank you.", he looked you in the eyes, and spoke earnestly. "I think that's what I needed to hear."
You felt a strange feeling in your heart - a warmth of the sort you've rarely experienced. It was difficult to pinpoint, and you did not get the opportunity - this moment lasted very briefly, just like the duke's demeanor.
"...and.", he shifted into a different tone, speaking more quickly, business-like. "I think it gave me an idea on how should we proceed, and deal with this undead matter."
You blinked.
"How?"
"All in due time.", he assured quickly. "You need to rest, not occupy yourself with these problems, as I keep reminding you. Besides, it is half-formed. I need to think on it a little more, in peace."
Before entertaining any protest from you, the young duke has already headed towards the door - and when he stopped by it, it was only to reaffirm briefly:
"It was a good conversation. We need to speak more, in time."

And so he departed, leaving you alone - for the time being. Like him, you've also had plenty to think of, when it came to the matters of the future.

>I need to get in touch with Church. He had some scheme in mind, and I don't want to waste time.
>Just before I've scryed - such a dirty word - death knights in the capital city, I've found some things I need to follow up on. Preferably, right now.
>We still have all those problems discussed on the last council. If I handle them, while the duke is preoccupied...
>The grimoire... It's important - it feels important, for some reason. It never leaves my mind.
>I'm in no state to do any of these things. The best thing I can do is reintregrate myself into the court's social life.
>He is right. I am in dire need of... Recovery. A healing touch of a priest is what I need. We have a priest - the duke just reminded me of it.
>>
>>5002823
Just like Stormpike dwarves, who are also a very present power in Alterac, Stromgarde is in a strange legal position right now. It's not officially a member state, and whatever military aid the Alliance provides comes in the form of volunteers, not the actual army. Still, the connection is there.
>>
>>5002873
>>He is right. I am in dire need of... Recovery. A healing touch of a priest is what I need. We have a priest - the duke just reminded me of it.

While following up with Church so we have at least one ally in the Wake or handling the mine so we can progress this fief's interests or especially following up with the grimoire to pursue the truth of this conspiracy at home are all prominent issues on my mind, I think we need to heal ourselves before anything else. That, and we haven't talked to the priest at all yet as far as I recall.

I do want to get on with those other things very soon though. We've spent plenty of time introspecting, socializing and sleeping, all of which were very interesting but we've got shit to do.
>>
>>5002879
Thanks for the clarification.
>>
>>5002873
>>I'm in no state to do any of these things. The best thing I can do is reintregrate myself into the court's social life.
>>He is right. I am in dire need of... Recovery. A healing touch of a priest is what I need. We have a priest - the duke just reminded me of it.
>>
>>5002873
>He is right. I am in dire need of... Recovery. A healing touch of a priest is what I need. We have a priest - the duke just reminded me of it.
>>
>>5002873
>>He is right. I am in dire need of... Recovery. A healing touch of a priest is what I need. We have a priest - the duke just reminded me of it.
I really want to get in touch with Church, but agree it's for the best to heal up first.
>>
Truth be told, you were never quite sure just what you expected from these lands before you first crossed into them. For some reason that you could not quite grasp, you've always imagined it to be teeming with bandits - and while it certainty was the case, you always failed to imagine all the other people who had to live there. Somebody cooked food to all those brigands, someone patched their shirts and their trousers. An organization as supposedly huge and threatening as Syndicate could not all survive just by raiding and taking other people's belognings, could it? A gang can only be so big, before...
Maybe some of it did, you thought to yourself idly. This Falconcrest man seemed like more of a raider than a lord, from what little you heard about him. And if he was, was he a typical specimen when it came to the leaders of those merry men, or were most a little bit more like duke Dryden?

It was the sight of Strahnbrad that inspired you to these thoughts, each time you laid your eyes on it. It was almost bizarre, how normal things seemed here - there was a working inn, there were tradesmen - and not just thieves, bartering with each other with their loot. In the distance, you've seen a herd of goats, being watched over by what looked like an old shepherd with a crooked stick. A pair of men were working on fixing the roof of what seemed to be a home. Maybe, when the time came, these very same men would don orange masks, and the old shepherd would change from a stick to a rifle - but right now, all of them were doing honest work.
Maybe, that's how they thought about you, as they watched you cautiously, from afar. You've seen your own thoughts reflect in their eyes - shortly before they turned away, not eager to meet yours. You were not communing with unspeakable horrors, you were not about to burn this place down and feast on the souls of whatever poor bastards were unfortunate enough to meet your wrath. You were just walking. Hobbling, really.
Then again, you thought a few moments later, you were probably projecting. By now, these people should have been less used to an elf, than a warlock.

Regardless, maybe everything you've just told the duke wasn't conceit. Maybe this place really had a chance.
>>
File: The Priest.jpg (691 KB, 1920x2485)
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EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: Everything hurts, all the time (4)
Fate Points: 3

This wasn't a walk of leisure - you mostly abandoned this sort of nonsense ever since you were crippled, and with what's been done to your ribs, you'd much prefer to stay in bed. However, once you've tasted that hooch that was brought to you to dull the pain, a much better idea visited you. Rather than wallow in your misery and wait for the priest to deign and bless you with his attention, you'd rather find him yourself, and douse him with water until he started helping. Have one of your demons drag him away from whatever pig pen he was sleeping at by force, if necessary.

However, once you've made it far enough from the castle, another thought occurred to you. Just how would you know where this holy man was presently located? Something told you, the church was not your safest guess. The local watering hole? Maybe, but he might have been as well somewhere in a ditch - or maybe, he really was in a pig pen. Before you overexerted yourself looking for him through the entire town, you had to be certain just where you're going. A quick flight of the Eye of Kilrogg could take care of that...
...or you could just ask a local - was, for some reason, the second idea you've had.

"Do you know...", you turned to some black-haired boy of about eight, whose face you've spotted in a window.
"YOU!", your sharp ear twitched, as a shout came from behind. Slowly, you would turn.
Such luck - the priest just happened upon you by himself, and he was even standing. Not without difficulty - the hefty, red-faced man was staggering from side to side, and the finger he was extending towards you was visibly shaking. Of course, even without so much as looking at this embarrassment of a priest, you could tell he's had a bit too much. There were plenty of audible clues - for example, the tone in which he was speaking to you.
"I... I see who you are!", holy father shouted loudly, stumbling forward. "Your face... Your face won't hide it!"
You've resisted the urge to look behind you and check, if there was anyone else there. It was you he was speaking this nonsense to - everyone present knew that, and "everyone" was quite a list of witnesses. The child in the window you were just trying to speak to, the pair of workers on the roof, a seamstress on the rocking chair, a pair of barely sober armed men passing by - they were all around you both already, like an audience in a circus.
If you wanted not to make a scene, it was already a touch too late.

"The soldier of the apocalypse cometh!", the priest bellowed. "Her fiery talons reach for your souls! Run, you fools! I'll... I'll shield you! I'll stand against the eternal night she brings!"
>>
>[Exertion] Shut him up. Forcefully.
>[Movement] Deflect the focus to him. He's drunk. He's embarrassing himself.
>[Mind Palace] Is there something wrong with this man?
>Sigh, and walk away. There's nothing to be won from being in this situation.
>Against my better judgement, what else does he have to say?
>[Write-in]
>>
>>5005734
>[Mind Palace] Is there something wrong with this man?

Lets try and figure out what his problem is, besides being drunk.

We want his help and we told Brooks that we'd treat him well, or at least she stressed that we should given that he raised her. So, forcefully shutting him up or deflecting to him in order to embarrass him probably isn't a great idea.

Though I'll admit I'm curious to hear his rantings to see if he somehow knows something legitimate about us and isn't just going full doomsayer or being bigoted against warlocks.

Also, QM, isn't our fate points at 2, not 3? Or did we gain one for some reason like maybe this guy can detect our Aura or something?
>>
>>5005758
>Also, QM, isn't our fate points at 2, not 3?
No, I'm pretty sure I got that right.
>>
>>5005766
We used one here >>5001276 >>5001304

So, unless we regained one, I think we are at two. Not that I'm complaining if you say we are actually are at 3, just trying to stay honest.
>>
>>5005734
>[Mind Palace] Is there something wrong with this man?
>>
>>5005734
>>[Mind Palace] Is there something wrong with this man?
>>
>>5005734
>>[Mind Palace] Is there something wrong with this man?
>>
Rolled 2, 3, 4, 5 = 14 (4d6)

He is drunk - that much is clear. But is there something else than wine at play?

(Mind Palace +2)
>>
The aura of corruption around you, you remembered then. Even some without any special training, magical or divine, could sense that there's something off about you. Why wouldn't a priest be able to pick up on it?
For some reason, this conclusion felt a tad unsatisfying, but most things in life weren't. You had to play with the hand you were dealt.

Only about a few seconds have passed between when you first began thinking about the issue, and the conclusion you've arrived to. The priest was still before you, and people were still staring. None of them were terrified, thankfully - but they were very much bewildered, and you were very much in the focus of their attention. If something was not done, it was very likely that a crowd would form to observe the commotion.
It was also likely that at some point, the priest would get close enough to swing at you with his fist, but in all honesty, you were far more afraid of him tripping over his feet and hitting his head, than harming your person.

"I see... I see them in her eyes!", the blob of a holy father yelled, as he rolled towards you. "The flames of Xoroth that shall devour the land..!"

>[Exertion] I don't want to upset Brooks by doing physical violence onto him. But can I intensify my aura, scare him off somehow?
>[Prudence] Roll my eyes, keep a straight face, make eye contact with a man nearby. Someone needs to get this man to bed.
>[Dazzle] Father, you need to WAKE UP!
>Stay awhile and listen.
>[Write-in]
>>
>>5006724
>>[Prudence] Roll my eyes, keep a straight face, make eye contact with a man nearby. Someone needs to get this man to bed.
>>
>>5006724
>Stay awhile and listen.

I'll vote against my better judgement.

Though I will say it is probably best we get this man some rest, no amount of social alacrity is going to return this man to the real world at the moment. It's a shame, we kinda need his help.
>>
>>5006724
>>[Dazzle] Father, you need to WAKE UP!
>>
>>5006724
>[Dazzle] Father, you need to WAKE UP!

This won't end poorly.
>>
>>5006724
>>[Dazzle] Father, you need to WAKE UP!
Last chance to get through to him, I guess.
>>
Rolled 5, 4, 4, 4 = 17 (4d6)

Thinking on what to say was hard. For some, it might have even taken several days, to come up with what you're about to do.

(Dazzle +0)
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: 1
Consequences: Everything hurts, all the time (4)
Fate Points: 3

For you, it certainly would have taken a few days - because in this situation, faced with a drunken priest clearly out of his mind, no other idea came to you other than letting go of your cane, grabbing him by the shoulders and shouting in his face:

"Father!", you screamed at him, trying your utmost to shake the man. Some of him shook - but you weren't certain if it was much more than his fat. "Father Delvin! You need to snap out of it! Father Delvin, wake!"
Someone in the crowd laughed - and rightly so, because the situation was, in fact, a bit comical. Even you found it slightly amusing - now that the priest was still continuing his doomspeaking in earnest, despite his voice wobbling and jittering much like the man himself:
"It has... Has happ... Ened be-fore!", he desperately cried to someone. To his woe, if anybody was listening to him before this moment, no one did so anymore. "Be... Beware! Beware the winged b-b-bea... st! The m-m-mother of storms! It'll... Be... Brought yet!"

Needless to say, despite your honest efforts at awakening the man from whatever half-fervor, half-drunken delusion he was suffering, it did not work. It only tired him, and you, and the latter - significantly so. This is when your own, slightly inebriated mind, started coming up with different ideas. Perhaps, if you managed to get your hands on some water...
Before any of it came to pass, however, the Syndicate men finally intervened in the commotion. It were two men - one of them definitely familiar to you from the crypts, the dark-haired brigand who was the first to strike at the death knight, while the other was a new face. Gently grabbing the priest by one hand each, they began dragging him away from the street - and you - and to the old church, where he would, hopefully, sober up.
Father Delvin was still making attempts to break free and rush towards you, but they were hopeless and doomed. All you could hear before a silence came was:
"No, fools! The flame! It's yet to come! The flame!"

And then, the farce came to an end. A few people still lingered, perhaps hoping that something else interesting would happen, and eyeing you cautiously from the distance. Your part in this, however, was done - just as was your patience with the man.
This was a collosal waste of time. It did not seem like you would be healed today - and maybe not even in the nearest few days. At least you've managed to get out of this situation without anything violent happening - you did not have it in your heart to harm or embarrass the man. He did not deserve it.
>>
Still, now that this particular road was closed, you needed something else to busy yourself with.

>That scheme that Church was promising me a place in.
>That potential hiding spot I've found while scrying.
>The silver mine, the one allegedly filled with flesh-eating spiders.
>The mystery of the grimoire.
>The problem of unlawful taxation by Falconcrest's men.
>The problem of me not yet being the duke's chief advisor.
>The problem of me being still too sober for this pain.
>My uncle did not raise a quitter. I am following up on the priest problem.
>>
>>5008811
>The problem of me not yet being the duke's chief advisor.
>The problem of me being still too sober for this pain.
>>
>>5008794
That ain't a bad roll, shame we have the charisma of a particularly malformed piece of plywood.

>>5008811
>The mystery of the grimoire.
>The problem of me being still too sober for this pain.

If we can't get fixed up we'll just do the next best thing for the pain. Actually, probably a terrible idea as it'll inhibit our faculties more than the pain, and we kind of need those for the mystery on the homefront, but we've had a rough day.

I don't think we should do anything dangerous or physically strenuous, we should make sure our home is secure from sabotage or ill intent by solving this mysterious murder, seeing what that cellar was and generally socializing. Then we can choose to do the silver mine thing which should solve our Falconcrest issue or see what Church had in mind. Just my opinion though.
>>
>>5008811
>>The problem of me not yet being the duke's chief advisor.
>The problem of me being still too sober for this pain.
>>
The first thing that you needed to do was to dull the pain - both the one that came from your ribcage, and the subtler one, that came from beneath it. Father Delvin was clearly both unwilling and incapable - and you knew only one other certain way. Alcohol - in copious amounts.
You could, of course, ask for more strong wine and consume it in your quarters. That would certainly avoid you some potential embarrassment, from whatever your inebriated mind comes up with. But drinking alone, as you already recalled that day, was a surefire sign of an addict - which you most certainly weren't.
No, you needed company.

And there was only one logical place to look for it in - the local watering hole, one you've already passed by multiple times - if never entered. It was a small, shoddily built establishment, the entrance to which was decorated with a large sign denominating the place with a rather overly ambitious name: "The King's Respite". If there was any king that would have sought to spend a night here, it would certainly not be any king you've heard of. Even if you were a bandit lord of Alterac, you'd think of your reputation twice before setting your foot into the doorway...
...but the circumstances were, admittedly, unusual.

Upon entering, you've found that the insides of the tavern were exactly what you were expected. There were some local men here, likely the duke's soldiers - who drank, and gambled, and argued with each other over who slept with whom, and when. One of them was warming his bones by the barely burning fire, while one was drinking alone - that one was certainly an alcoholic.
There was a bartender - a picture perfect example of his kind - fat, balding, with a spruce moustache. He was busy cleaning glasses - which, as you were told, was every bartender's primary job.

Once you've entered, however, every noise in the tavern has gone a little bit... Not quiet - but quieter. Even had you been blind, you would have noticed how everyone present was eyeing you - some with caution, others with curiosity. You've not even spoken a word - and already, you've become the star of the show.
That was a first.

>Mysteriously and silently sit down in the darkest corner. Someone will approach me. Surely.
>Join the gamblers at their table. I'm not sure what we're playing, but I'm in a betting mood.
>Join the lone alcoholic. We'll tell each other of our plights.
>I feel lonely all of the sudden. I wish my human friend was here.
>Hear ye! For the next hour, every drink is on me..! By the stars, I hope I actually have coin.
>Just order a drink, like a sane woman would. I've not come here for reverly, it's for medical purposes.
>>
>>5009795
>>Join the gamblers at their table. I'm not sure what we're playing, but I'm in a betting mood.
>>I feel lonely all of the sudden. I wish my human friend was here.
>>
>>5009795
>Join the gamblers at their table. I'm not sure what we're playing, but I'm in a betting mood.

I see we've not yet fully embraced our latent alcoholism. That can change. The best way to sooth both our physical and spiritual pain is, without a doubt, by indulging in as much vice as possible.
>>
>>5009795
>Join the lone alcoholic. We'll tell each other of our plights.
>Just order a drink, like a sane woman would. I've not come here for reverly, it's for medical purposes.

Do we even have money?
>>
>>5009795
>>Join the lone alcoholic. We'll tell each other of our plights.
>>Just order a drink, like a sane woman would. I've not come here for reverly, it's for medical purposes.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

This decision will be resolved by a tie-breaker.
1 - join the gamblers.
2 - join the lone drinker.
>>
For a moment or two, you've felt deeply split - on one hand, you've come here to drink away the pain. On the second thought, however, the idea of gambling was somehow significantly more enticing than poisoning yourself senseless. Who knew - maybe once you've experienced sufficient excitement, the pain would just go away.

"Amusing yourselves, I see. Is there room for one more?", you asked while you were still approaching - hobbling, really.
The question was, of course, purely rhetorical. What were they supposed to do? Say "no, we were just about to finish"? Get up and leave? You knew well they were in no position to refuse your company - and when the response came, it was utterly unsurprising.
"Of course.", one of them spoke quickly, nodding to you several times. The merry brigands, all as one, would immediately move their chairs to free the space for you - and one of them even got up from his seat, to give you his spot.
You half-expected him to quickly depart from the tavern altogether after that, yet you were somewhat surprised, when it didn't happen. The gambler would then reach for another free seat, moving it closer to the table - he had every intention of remaining.

"I didn't know your kind plays, your ladyship.", one of them spoke to you, a younger man, who clearly struggled to grow himself something on his chin. You immediately dissected his tone, and came to a conclusion it wasn't meant as an insult - he just felt the most intense need to say something, and this was the first thing that came to his head.
This "your ladyship" sounded a bit unnatural from his mouth, same as it would sound from just about anyone at this table. You were dealing with men of no particularly high breeding, and all of them had only a vague idea of how to act in your presence. Nobody would dare to so much as swear within your earshot, and you could sense the caution which they suddenly adopted. There were no Mercers here.

A silence would stand at the table until you've spoken, even beyond this table. Every soul in this watering hole was waiting for something.

>I've been an avid gambler for as long as I can remember myself. Whenever I see the opportunity, I indulge in it.
>Prod them a little further. "By my kind, you mean..?"
>I recognize some of the faces here from our recent ride. We've shed blood together - now we're one and the same. Don't treat me any differently.
>I've decided to get to know the ground troops, so to speak.
>I take it, Jarad didn't spend much time mingling with you?
>I've come here to have fun. My fun will consist of taking every possession you're foolish enough to bet.
>Lay them down, and be silent while you're doing it.
>I'm just killing some time. Don't search for meaning where there is none.
>I'm not much of a player at all - I just wanted to see your smiling faces up close.
>>
>>5011550
>Prod them a little further. "By my kind, you mean..?"

Try not to come off as offended, we just want to know whether he means elves or warlocks.

Then...
>I recognize some of the faces here from our recent ride. We've shed blood together - now we're one and the same. Don't treat me any differently.
>I've come here to have fun. My fun will consist of taking every possession you're foolish enough to bet.
>>
>>5011550
>I recognize some of the faces here from our recent ride. We've shed blood together - now we're one and the same. Don't treat me any differently.
>I've come here to have fun. My fun will consist of taking every possession you're foolish enough to bet.

Hopefully we can clean these guys out and come out of this with enough money to buy some drinks and hobble off with full pockets, too. I presume that our stint as a crippled hobo wasn't very profitable, and the Wake sure won't be giving us any actual currency.

Or we could lose the clothes on our back and our cane, too. It's not impossible, with our luck.
>>
>>5011646
I suppose we could also ask for a stipend from the duke. I was thinking of asking for one when he asked us what we wanted, but I thought it a tad crass.
>>
>>5011649
Not a bad idea. One of our primary goals is to retire, so even allowance money will help. Though we should at least tie up a few of our other schemes before we stoop to begging.
>>
>>5011550
>I've been an avid gambler for as long as I can remember myself. Whenever I see the opportunity, I indulge in it.
>Prod them a little further. "By my kind, you mean..?"
>I recognize some of the faces here from our recent ride. We've shed blood together - now we're one and the same. Don't treat me any differently.
>I've come here to have fun. My fun will consist of taking every possession you're foolish enough to bet.
>>
Rolled 5, 1, 2, 6 = 14 (4d6)

You've spent a significant portion of the recent fight struggling to stand - and to breathe. But who knows, maybe you've manadeged to make an impression still?

(Exertion +2)
>>
You raised an eyebrow quizzically and gestured towards the bold man.
"Now, when you speak on 'my kind', you refer to elves, to sorceress, to..."
The brigand's expression shifted quickly. You've had no doubt that there, on the road, he was a far braver man, far louder and looser with words. If your first meeting happened a bit differently, there would be no "ladyships", and his eyes would not quickly shift in such a barely subdued panic. You've had to admit, that deep within you, there was some wicked joy at how you've managed to instill fear even when brought so low - but you've not allowed it to cloud your mind for longer than a splinter of a moment. This is not why you've come here, this is not what you've wished to do, and this is not how you were about to treat these people.
"I'm not so fragile that I've taken offense. This is an actual question.", you clarified quickly, and heard the man exhale quietly, as relief washed over him.
"Elves, your lad'ship.", he answered, significantly less tense than he was just a second ago. "And sorceress too, dark or otherwise. Much respect to your crew - but I've always tried to stay clear of them myself."
"I've always thought that elves are higher than that.", another player blundered, although he has not noticed yet. You were not about to make an issue out of that. Even when he made it so much worse for himself. "But mayhaps you're just not typical."

You've pushed your lips together closely, and breathed out through your nose.
"No.", you've spared a moment later, shaking your head. "I suppose I'm not anymore. Still..."
You've leaned back on your chair - and resisted making a grimace yet again - as you've steered the subject closer to what you intended to accomplish here.
"I think that you misunderstand my whole nature. I don't know what Jarad was like, but I've not come here to lord over you.", you declared. The men at the table were listening - as was everyone in the whole room. Even the drunk by the counter has turned, to listen to what you've had to say. "I don't even necessarily consider myself better. As far as I'm concerned, after we rode together, shed blood of the damned together, we're of the same banner."
Your eyes quickly darted towards the exit, where you've first seen that sigil.
"Of the same kind, even. We're killers, we're deplorables, on whom the great lion spits, we're the duke's people."
>>
Rolled 2, 3, 4, 3 = 12 (4d6)

This did not produce the desired effect yet. The air was still still and silent, and even a little tense.

Movement +2
>>
Luckily, you were quick-witted enough to not let it stay that way long.
"The way I see it, there's only two differences between me and you. Firstly - none of you are old enough to need a cane yet."
This has come so out of the left field, the brigands couldn't help but burst out laughing. Even those most reserved and cautious couldn't help but crack a smile at the unexpected dry humor from your humble person. This wasn't completely unknown to you - you could, on occasion, share a good jest. But it was rarely enough. Still...
"And the second?", a bandit with a lazy eye inquired, expecting more.
"And secondly, I'll be the only one walking out of here with more than a shirt on my back once this is done."

It was either the alcohol, or the bloodshed you've lived through together - one of the two. Perhaps, both. There was no other explaination for why these hardened killers were taking all of this so well. One after another, they began moving more of their treasures across the table - watches, bracelets, earrings, coins - all fruits of nothing but honest labor.
This was going to be an exciting couple of hours.
>>
The game...
>[Prudence] I did not lose my cool face to face with a death's herald. My bluff must be immensely good.
>[Twilight] There's actually the third difference - I know magic, and they do not. I'm here to win, not to play fairly.
>[Dazzle] Go easy on me. I'm new to this.

The bets...
>Make modest bets. Try not to loose things I can't afford to lose.
>Make significant bets through the game. It's time to live a little.
>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.

The small talk...
>Maybe they will appreciate my heroic stand better than the duke. He wasn't there, that was the issue.
>This tomb was nothing. Back in the day, I've fought a war in a different world!
>Halligan, huh? Haven't seen him riding with us. What does he even do?
>I know from reliable sources that the duke has a plan, and a good one. Everything is going to be fine.
>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?
>What a priest you have here. He's truly something.
>Gambling is good - but I've always wanted to get my hands dirty. Go on a raid.
>Falconcrest or Perenolde?


The alcohol...
>Let's keep it civilized.
>[Prudence] I'll keep myself from excesses.
>I'll know when I've had enough!

Write-ins are appropriate.
>>
>>5012483
The game...
>[Prudence] I did not lose my cool face to face with a death's herald. My bluff must be immensely good.
>Fate Point, if other anons are up for it.

The bets...
>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.

The small talk...
>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?
>Halligan, huh? Haven't seen him riding with us. What does he even do?

The alcohol...
>I'll know when I've had enough!


I certainly don't speak for every anon, but this seems like a chance to properly celebrate our victory.
>>
>>5012483
The game...
>[Prudence] I did not lose my cool face to face with a death's herald. My bluff must be immensely good.
>Yes, Fate Point, throw those dice!

The bets...
>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.


The small talk...
>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?
>Halligan, huh? Haven't seen him riding with us. What does he even do?
>I know from reliable sources that the duke has a plan, and a good one. Everything is going to be fine.

Fine with dissing Mercer and figuring out what Halligan's game is, but I also want to get a feeling for how much the Duke's men trust him as compared to Dryden senior.

The alcohol...
>[Prudence] I'll keep myself from excesses.

Enough to have some fun, but lets not lose all sense of temperance. Can you imagine our former comrades from back home seeing us joyfully drinking this human swill made out of potatoes?

That, and I don't want to wake up naked in a pig pen despite potentially actually winning the jackpot.
>>
>>5012483
>[Dazzle] Go easy on me. I'm new to this.

>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.

>This tomb was nothing. Back in the day, I've fought a war in a different world!
>Halligan, huh? Haven't seen him riding with us. What does he even do?
>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?
>I know from reliable sources that the duke has a plan, and a good one. Everything is going to be fine.

>I'll know when I've had enough!

We'll be rich or we'll be riding like Godiva, all in!
>>
>>5012483
>[Prudence] I did not lose my cool face to face with a death's herald. My bluff must be immensely good.
No Fate point, this is pure fun

>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.

>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?
>Halligan, huh? Haven't seen him riding with us. What does he even do?
>I know from reliable sources that the duke has a plan, and a good one. Everything is going to be fine.

>[Prudence] I'll keep myself from excesses.
>>
>>5012921
Bonus picture
>>
It doesn't matter now since most of the votes seem to be already in, but I could see another way of dealing with the game to be to use Mind Palace to analyze the odds and do things like card counting and stuff like that, and for small talk I could see us regaling them with heroic tales of the Sunhawks both as a way of bragging/storytelling and as a sort of nudge to give them some to aspire to be, though they are probably only inspiring to us with our rose-tinted glasses.
>>
>>5012483
The game...
>[Prudence] I did not lose my cool face to face with a death's herald. My bluff must be immensely good.

The bets...
>If I lose THIS ONE, I'm riding through the city BARE.

The small talk...
>Maybe they will appreciate my heroic stand better than the duke. He wasn't there, that was the issue.
>I know from reliable sources that the duke has a plan, and a good one. Everything is going to be fine.
>Have you seen Mercer parading around in that armor, as if he earned it?

The alcohol...
>[Prudence] I'll keep myself from excesses.
>>
Glad to see the tie broken, but no post today. It won't be good enough.
>>
>>5013116
>It won't be good enough.
What do you mean by this?
>>
>>5013118
I think QM means that with the time they have available they won't be able to write up a high enough quality post to satisfy their standards.
>>
>>5013132
Ah, undestandable. Thanks
>>
Rolled 1, 5, 5, 6 = 17 (4d6)

There's been many before you, who were dealt a bad hand and won. Still, to win in a game of chance, one must always have a bit of luck.

(Prudence +3)
>>
Rolled 3, 6, 1, 6 = 16 (4d6)

After the averted slaughter just days prior, this is more than a game - this is a celebration of survival, no, of life itself. But the line between enjoying yourself and utterly losing your head utterly is so thin, and it's so tempting to cross it...

(Prudence +3)
>>
The drinks were poured. The drinks were drunk. As the whatever draff the humans have brewed burned your throat, you've thought only one thing - you were about to celebrate yourself a liberation from four years of utter misery, and may whatever gods that dwell in the endless cosmos help the one, who dares to interfere.
The game itself was rather easy - "the twenty one", you've thought it was called. Especially the first hand you were dealt - a king and a nine. You've read plenty of books that had games of chance as an element, and thus were pretty certain you knew how this business worked. All you had to do was not twitch your face unnecessarily, and pay attention to how the others at the table behaved - and you would have mostly won already. The one-eyed gentleman to the left of you, for example, was clearly uncomfortable with what he's just seen.

The truly difficult thing was to try and get as much enjoyment out of these few hours as possible. And what have you ever found more enjoyable than gossip?
"It was an honor to ride with all of you.", you remarked, raising your cards from your hand. You've allowed yourself a smile. "Never would have I expected a death knight to be fallen by... Such an unlikely group. I suppose that's what the best heroes are - unlikely."
"Damn right, we're heroes.", a man with the strongest of accents chimed in. You couldn't even place it - what in the name of all stars above was that supposed to be?
With a light gesture, he signaled the dealer to hand him another card, while beaming at you with a smile. You blinked at the sight of it - the man seemed to have decorated his jaws with gold. In the mean time, he continued his spiel.
"...next time, we're gonna drag Arthas up north from his throne, and seat our asses on it. If they're all so easy to kill, won't be a problem."
In another time, you would have grimaced at this attempt at a jest - you've never found joking about dark forces funny. Right now, however, you were more bewildered than upset - and judging by the sudden silence at the table, so was everyone present.

"Sailor boy.", one of the brigands was so shaken by what he's just heard, he accidentally showed his hand. He didn't notice - but more enterprising souls have. "That, uh, already happened. The king of the damned croaked. Did you... Did you not know that?"
>>
"What?", the goldentooth flapped his eyelashes, than narrowed his eyes. "You're pulling my leg, right? There's no way that happened."
"That did happen.", you pressed, incredulous. "Several years ago. There must have been celebrations in every corner of the world. How could you possibly not know that?"
"Hold up.", there seemed to have been another slow gentleman at the table. "If the king's in the ground, how come there's still dead folk? Who did we just kill?"
"Not the king, genius.", a less than patient brigand rolled his eyes. "When the evil kings die, all their people don't just die too. That's fairy tales. No, they stick around - and mark my words, they've probably made themselves a new king. Because that's how evil is - it survives past the people who committed it."
"That's rather sophisticated.", you raised your brow.
"Maybe.", the philosophically inclined man shrugged his shoulders. "Now, are the rest of you folding? Because I'm not seeing cards on the table."

One player after another revealed their hands. Only one, the one-eyed Gryff, decided to fold - the rest were quite a bit braver. Some have limited themselves to two cards - other risked more. The "sailor boy" has, in fact, reached for more than he could grasp - having overdrawn by just one single point.
Needless to say, you were a victor, and you've watched with the most insufferable expression how the treasures were moved across the table towards you. It was a good thing you've began winning early - you didn't bring much in your pockets. It could have gotten awkward.
“Well-well.”, you turned up your nose. “Would you look at that - you seemed to have spent all your luck before I arrived. Are you satisfied with how I robbed you, good men, or would you like to lose a little bit more?”
Your carefully chosen words managed to affect everyone. Grumbling and growling, the syndicate men started reaching for their purses.
>>
“And on the matter of the twice departed knight of Strom…”, you’ve spoken still. “I believe the duke has a pretty good idea both where he came from, and what to do with him and his kind.”
“The duke?”, sailor boy blinked.
“Duke Dryden.”, you reminded. “Did you not know that you serve him too, or were you under impression that “Duke” is a nickname of his? I’m privy to his thoughts, of course. Needless to say, I can’t reveal too much, but he has some interesting ideas.”
“The duke?”, another brigand inquired. “Not, uh, Mercer? Sir Mercer.”
“The duke.”, you pressed again. “I’m not certain what ideas sir Mercer is having right now - maybe they’re clever as well, I do not know - but I’m talking about the boy. I barely even had to suggest anything - he seems to have everything thought about already.”
“Well, tell us then.”, the ‘philosopher’ demanded impatiently.
“I can not. I simply don’t trust you after how much I’ve taken from you - who knows how many of you just turned foreign spies, agents provocateurs?”
That particular joke did not land. You were hasty to make another.
“It’s a matter of military intelligence right now, and I’ve not had enough to drink to be babbling about it.”
“Somebody get the elf more to drink!”, a call was made.

The drinks were poured. The drinks were drunk. You were careful not to drink too quickly, and too much - you've long learnt that no matter how dignified and civil a creature is, it can be reduced to incredible lows when it's had enough. A careful balance must have been upheld between being a bore, and making company to the priest in the animal pen.

"Mercer...", you muttered under your nose. "Sir Egmund Mercer. No, he didn't think up that plan - the duke did. And he didn't win that fight either - we all did, collectively. Well, some may have contributed a little bit less, some - a little bit more, but there was most certainly input from all involved."
The brigands waited patiently, seeing where you were going with this.
"...so the natural question comes to my mind, why is he parading in the trophy armor as he killed the beast?"
"You're saying it should have been split!", somebody suggested quickly. You've admitted to yourself, that you've just had that idea too. Something must have been in the brew.
"Taken away, and split.", you raised your glass to the idea. Everyone drank. "You get the helmet, this gentleman gets the left boot, that one gets the right boot..."
>>
"And what do you get?", the seaman with the dazzling smile inquired.
"And I get nothing.", you've spoken through your teeth. "I don't want anything from that corpse. It's in bad taste, and a bad omen too. Why not carry his banner too?"
The brigands sensed your sudden swing in the mood - and drank to your swing in the mood. Then they drank to bad taste. Another hand was dealt - and admittedly, this one you've lost. It did not upset you in the least - first of all, you didn't lose anything you've had before, and secondly, you intended to get it back quite soon.
"Good effort at reclaiming your possessions...", you commented, gesturing for another hand to be dealt. "But we're done when I say we're done, And we're done when I've worn the shirts off your back."
Few complained - the celebration of your person was just winding up, and it was going simply too well to end it now. The idea of ending up shirtless also, for some reason, seemed to have intrigued some of your opponents for a reason you did not care to understand.

You've almost entirely lost track of time. By the time you were talking something about the duke's other trusted advisor, hours could have passed. It certainly felt like hours since the last time anybody cared about the game - whatever was going on in the tavern has grown way bigger than the game. The crowd has gone bigger too - and they were all going through the town's supply of swill like alcoholic locusts. Some - the weak - were weeded out, but others have come to replace them.
"And Halligan...", you were not entirely sure how you got to this particular subject. "...what does he even do? Haven't seen him riding with us, most certainly."
"You've just got it for everyone today, don't you?", a voice came. Different than the rest, yet familiar. You've had to turn to recognize it, but when you did, your lips thinned in a smile.
"Corporal!", you called. "My good human friend, come join us. You're exactly what this occasion called for. Glad to see you in good health.”
The woman, still in her travel clothes, did her best to push through the crowd and towards you - not without some difficulty - and when she has, your drinking companions have parted to let her through. Pressing her hands agaisnt the table, she leaned in:
“You too.”, she spoke. “When I’ve returned and heard you’re awake, I've visited your room, but... You’re clearly out of the bed.”
She sniffed barely, and tried to hide her concern.
“...and having fun, I see.”
"In a strictly civilized and controlled manner.", you spoke loudly, so the entire establishment can see. "Don't you worry yourself, corporal, I know when to stop the merriment. Nothing unhinged is going to happen."
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: 1
Consequences: Alcohol-induced idiocy (2)
Fate Points: 3

"IF I LOSE...", you proclaimed loudly, the cup in your raised hand. "...I SHALL RIDE THROUGH THIS TOWN, BARE! BARE AS THE DAY I WAS BORN INTO THIS FORSAKEN HELL!"
"And no tricks!", somebody called from the crowd. "No magic mist, or turning us into eyeless moles!"
"No eyeless moles!", you've allowed graciously.
"Through the town, and back!", someone yelled. "Else it doesn't count!"
"Through the town, and back, fine.", it has been decreed.
"And you stay that way through the night!", another demand has been made, by the overly optimistic sailor.
"You wish, wretch!", you've gestured into his direction with the half-filled chalice, accidentally spilling a few drops. The good people of Alterac laughed - probably more at your proclaimation, than your clumsiness.
Once the crowd quieted down, you've narrowed your eyes, and your voice chilled.
"But.", you purred. "Should these fine people lose... It's them the ride of shame awaits. Through the city. Back here. The whole process."

You weren't certain that you would explain how did it get to this, if you tried. You weren't that drunk - you've had control of most of your faculties, and you've thought remembered most of the events up until this point. You weren't sure if it was you who came up with the idea, or if it was suggested by someone - but you had little care. You've faced an occasional loss this day, but your hands have been almost overwehelmingly winning, and the wealth you have amassed was completely obscene. This was not going to end in any other way, but your complete triumph.
Thus, you were somewhat disappointed, when your victory was delayed - when your shoulder was grabbed by good Sherman Brooks, surely with newfound determination to decide what merriment is acceptable, and what isn't.
"One moment!", she yelled, as she pulled you away from the rest. Unwillingly, you followed.

The alteraci and you moved for quite a while - all the way until the far corner of the establishment, where she put her hand on your shoulder.
"I don't think this is a good idea.", she told you -firmly and predictably. She was looking at you like an adult, speaking to a child - despite being decades younger.
"And I think that I've been winning.", you huffed. "My thanks for watching over my dignity, but... I don't think there's a need."
>>
The woman remained unconvinced.
"You've been mostly winning.", the brigand corporal corrected you. "You've lost some too."
"A minority."
"More than zero. Why do you think this one is a sure thing?", Sherman pressed the matter. "I don't want to come of as a nag. I've played a little too. And I supported you, when you went all in, remember?"
"I remember.", you nodded slowly. "It happened twenty minutes ago. How drunk do you think I am?"
Sherman inhaled deeply, and closed her eyes. After breathing out, she looked at you again:
"You're doing a stupid thing. Please, reconsider. And if you go through with it, at least stop there."

>Write-in
>>
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>>5014098
>No. I won't lose. But even if I do consider it a gift. Let these pitiful creatures see what true perfection looks like for once. Hell, I'd happily take the ride on a fine morning tomorrow so they can prepare themselves for the spectacle.
How many more rolls will there be for the big bet?
>>
Of all the times we could roll like a god(dess) we do it during our time celebrating and playing Blackjack. Lady Luck has a queer sense of humour.

If there is one final roll involved we should probably use our previously unused Fate Point on it, to counter our mild drunkness if nothing else, thankfully our pain is gone.

I'm a bit too busy to contribute a write-in at the moment, but in a few hours I'll either submit my own contribution or vote for another person's write-in.
>>
So, we've exchanged pain for alcohol-induced intelligence.

>>5014098
>"My mind is as clear as a mountain spring, Sherman. Never in my entire life have I been as lucid as I am right this moment."
>Spread our arms as far apart as possible as if giving an arm span measurement.
>"I am THIS intelligent right now. So tell me, friend, what troubles you? A little merrymaking has never hurt anyone."
>>
>>5014098
>>5014102
Sure. This is pretty funny.
>>
>>5014098
Supporting >>5014121

However, add...
>"Fine, after this I'll stop. I won't try anything crazy to win everything back"
>Grin
>"Just for today though, I make no promises about tomorrow."
>>
>>5014102
Supporting and adding
>It's time for me to have a little release in life.
>I am not afraid. I have nothing to lose but my shell.
>Don't act like you two won't be watching in the front row.
>>
Well, I have no idea what to make of that. Let's do it again, but this time differently.

>I don't mind losing. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Might even ride in the morning, for I have no fear!
>I don't think BROOKS would actually mind me losing. Might be actually on the front rows.
>I'm as sober as... I can not come up with a witty jest right now, but I'm actually quite sober and responsible for my own decisions.
>This is all in good fun, probably happens all the time here. Why is she so upset over me finally unwinding?
>She speaks sense. I must end this madness... For today. Right after I make this last bet. We play this one last game, and then I'm going to bed.
>Losing would be shameful, but the point is, I'm not going to lose. I'm a supreme player, of the sort this place has never seen. Brooks should watch out for them, not me.
>[Prudence] Hold on, she's right. What AM I doing?
>>
>>5014631
>I don't mind losing. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Might even ride in the morning, for I have no fear!
>I don't think BROOKS would actually mind me losing. Might be actually on the front rows.
>I'm as sober as... I can not come up with a witty jest right now, but I'm actually quite sober and responsible for my own decisions.
>This is all in good fun, probably happens all the time here. Why is she so upset over me finally unwinding?
>>
>>5014631
>Losing would be shameful, but the point is, I'm not going to lose. I'm a supreme player, of the sort this place has never seen. Brooks should watch out for them, not me.
>I don't mind losing. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Might even ride in the morning, for I have no fear!
>This is all in good fun, probably happens all the time here. Why is she so upset over me finally unwinding?

Is this coherent? No, but drunks rarely are succinct or coherent.
>>
>>5014631
>I don't mind losing. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Might even ride in the morning, for I have no fear!
>I don't think BROOKS would actually mind me losing. Might be actually on the front rows.
>I'm as sober as... I can not come up with a witty jest right now, but I'm actually quite sober and responsible for my own decisions.
>This is all in good fun, probably happens all the time here. Why is she so upset over me finally unwinding?

You know from where I came from, it's not considered a proper celebration without half a dozen people riding nude.
>>
>>5014631
...Basically I feel all these prompts fit what we seem to be going for.

>I don't mind losing. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Might even ride in the morning, for I have no fear!
>I don't think BROOKS would actually mind me losing. Might be actually on the front rows.
>I'm as sober as... I can not come up with a witty jest right now, but I'm actually quite sober and responsible for my own decisions.
>This is all in good fun, probably happens all the time here. Why is she so upset over me finally unwinding?
>Use a Fate Point on our last bet if it requires a roll.
>>
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We may want to stick to picking one or occasionally two options going forward for the sake of the QM's sanity. And keep write-ins to a short sentence or two. It was fine when there were two or three voters, but dealing with the Anonymous gestalt mind when there are a bunch of ideas floating around can be a handful.

Also, I'm seeing some new IDs (presumably lurkers) popping up now that booba have been added to the equation, which is not wrong, but kind of funny.
>>
>>5014631
>>5015168
Fine, if I had to pick only a couple I'd probably pick...
>I don't think BROOKS would actually mind me losing. Might be actually on the front rows.
>I'm as sober as... I can not come up with a witty jest right now, but I'm actually quite sober and responsible for my own decisions.
>>
>>5015168
Now now, I've been here from the start as a one post id since I phonepost
>>
>>5015168
>The probability of a naked woman is introduced
>Engagement skyrockets
Magical. Post soon.
>>
"Look...", you closed your eyes and kept them that way for a long time, as you tried to come up with a witty retort. "You're worried, I know that, I see that, but there's no... Cause for that. I've just had a little. I'm loosening up, for once in my life."
The human sniffed through her nose again, purposedly loudly, to get the point across - as if afraid you'd miss it otherwise. She really was treating you like a child.
"It doesn't smell like 'a little'.", she told you quietly. A moment later, she must have realized it would help to speak in a less hostile tone. "Look..."
"HEY!", a shout was heard from the tables. A man - who you weren't sure you recognized anymore - was waving his hand at you. "Elf! You're coming, or you've chickened out?"
"Hold..!", you raised your hand in turn and nodded to him briefly. "Hold on..! Just a moment."

"All I'm saying is...", Brooks darted her eyes away, thinking about something. Then, it suddenly occured to you. "Think about sir Egmund. What do you think he's going to..."
You've let out a pained groan:
"I am so tired of hearing about sir Egmund from everyone!", you whined, grinding your teeth. "If his opinion matters so much, I'm... Riding in the morning! Will melt his heart, and he'll finally..."
You gestured vaguely through the air, unable to quite finish your point. You hoped that the rest would be understood without need for long words, but from Sherman's eyes, it certainly did not seem like you're in for much understanding.
"You're riding, then.", the corporal raised her eyebrow. "It's not even on a bet anymore, you've decided it's happening."
"I've decided that...", you raised your hand in a gesture of infinite patience. Then, a clever thought occurred to you. "...that I'll be... Definitely doing that, if you don't drop the matter. And you shan't! You shan't, for... You want that yourself, don't you?"
The corporal blinked, acting as if she did not know perfectly well just what you're speaking of.
"What?", she spoke her line in such a flat tone, even the worst actors of Eversong would look good compared to her.
"ELF!", an impatient patron yelled for you again. You've resisted the urge to throw a hex his way, and instead just waved him away. You've had a more important matter right now.

"That's why you're talking about it so much.", you shrugged your shoulders, pulling at the proverbal thread. "For plausible deniability. You're all as if: 'No, don't do it!', but what you're actually trying to..."
You stumbled through your words, not quite able to come up with the way to finish the sentence. You exhaled, with strength.
"I know people, I see through it all. So don't act as if you won't be in the front rows."
>>
Brooks pushed her lips together and raised her chin, breathing in quickly. For a few seconds, you've just looked at each other - you were waiting, while what her expression was trying to convey, you weren't quite certain.
"You're drunk.", she informed you again. She opened her mouth, clearly wishing to say something else - but instead, she simply stood there for a few seconds more. Then, she sharply turned on her place and pushed into the crowd.
"I've heard not a 'no'!", you yelled in her back, your lips widening in a glad smile. You were clearly the victor here.

It did not take you long to push through the crowd and back towards the table - not in the least bit, because the people quickly parted before you, so you could hobble to the rest of the players. The atmosphere in the establishment was almost like that on a military parade - you were walking through the inn like a conqueror through a subjugated city, with the locals looking at you with awe and respect. In a way, that's exactly what you were - having taken from the locals everything they've had to give - and now, the time has come for a victory lap.
They were already waiting for you, with clear impatience. In your absence, the brigands have stuck two tables together, because the number of the players has grown - and they've even fetched a new deck for the occasion, a far prettier one, with intricate pictures on their backs. The crowd was loud - but the gamblers were silent, each looking at you - like you've noticed before, their small time rivalries with each other have long become unimportant compared to your skill, gravity and daring. This was not a game with the brigands and you - it was a game of them, versus you. Just like it was a celebration of you.
And by the stars, did it finally feel good.

"Took your time.", the foreign sailor grinned, when you've finally sat down. "You're ready?"
"What were you two talking about?", the philosophically inquired gambler asked of you.
You did not answer the either question - only lifted your hand in a queenly manner, and spoken:
"Deal."
>>
>[Prudence] My bluff has already proven its worth. I am the bluff goddess.
>[Mind Palace] As I've mentioned before, I'm quite sober and in full control of my... Head. And I'll prove it, by employing the complex technique of card counting.
>[Exertion] I shall let them know, it's not in their interest to win against me.
>Afer this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
>Suddenly, I have the cold feet. I don't want to play.

You also need to decide whether to use a Fate point or not.
>>
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>>5017038
That was a pretty funny scene altogether

>>After this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
fuck it lol
>>
>>5017038
>Afer this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
>>
>>5017038
>[Prudence] My bluff has already proven its worth. I am the bluff goddess.
>Use Fate Point

This whole gambling stint has been real fun. That being said, I think we'd be immensely embarrassed the following day if we actually had to ride through town naked, we'd never live it down despite our pride in our body at the current moment.

I think we'd realise the stakes of us losing, after all, I think we did succeed on the roll to hold our drink, we only ended up mildly sauced instead of blackout drunk. Not to mention this isn't about us riding through town naked, I think all our winnings and all our possessions are on the line, our amulet and cane included, we cannot afford to lose those.

I don't think we can dissuade the patrons from winning with a little fire, they are surely determined to see us naked and besides, using magic is against our agreement. We are probably too sauced for card counting, so bluffing it is, lets hope our drunk expressions serve to confuse our opponents rather than reveal our mind.
>>
>>5017038
>>[Prudence] My bluff has already proven its worth. I am the bluff goddess.
CAN'T WIN IF YA DON'T PLAY.
>>
>>5017038
>>Afer this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
Intoxicated elf + card games = profit
>>
>>5017038
>>[Prudence] My bluff has already proven its worth. I am the bluff goddess.
>>
>It's a tie episode
Somebody change the channel!
>>
>>5017038
>Afer this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
Alright. I think the odds of winning a bluffing game against a table dead set against you is very slim. So instead, we should control our losses and try not losing our pants as well. Come out of this game with our possessions intact, if not our pride.
>>
>>5017879
To clarify, when you are referring to losing your pants, do you mean as a material possession? Because losing the game purposedly directly results in the pants coming off - as the absolute majority has decided.
Material possessions are no longer an object of the game.
>>
>>5017887
>material possession
Yes. Well good to know the only thing we're losing is our dignity.
>>
>>5017894
Is your vote still the same, then? I don't want a situation again, where people have misunderstood what they're choosing.
>>
>>5017038
>>[Prudence] My bluff has already proven its worth. I am the bluff goddess.
>>Use Fate Point
>>
Completely random aside: I'm pretty sure the fancy deck of cards has the top surfaces marked, so someone in the know would be able to tell who had which cards.
>>
>>5017898
Yeah screw it. Can't say I'm not tempted by the what will happen when we lose. Chalk it off to a bad drink.
>>
Never change, /qst/.
>>
>>5017038
>>Afer this conversation, I've decided I shall lose purposedly. It's a strategic maneuever, meant to achieve goals far beyond this petty game.
>>
>Nine votes in a quest with the usual participation of 3-5
Either there's some vote rigging going on, or what this quest lacked all along was boobs.
Throwing the match wins, post soon.
>>
It was of little doubt, that your final hand was bad. Terrible, even - an eight of hearts, and an eight of clubs. Of all cards, you've just happened to receive those that were mathematically unlikely to win with. And when you've looked up from your cards and at the faces of those around the table, you've had a feeling that they must have known how precarious your situation has been.
You could have done something. You could have bluffed, no matter how unlikely it was to succeed. You could have accused your opponents of cheating. You could have, above all, taken a risk and asked for one more card. Common sense dictated that while anything above 5 would be a disaster - and the deck was full of such traps - you could have received just what you needed.

But... Why should you have done any of those things? Would it not be more exciting, more intriguing, to lose? It would be scandalous, most certain. But what was life without risks and mistakes? Would it not be worth it to see the look on Mercer's face? Would it be not be interesting to look and see, if Brooks really stands there, in the front row? Would people mock and jeer at you, or would they stand in awe at the sight of utter perfection of the highborne?
You were not drunk enough to silence a little voice on reason in your head, that reminded you of the lasting consequences you'd never be able to live down, should you actually do such a thing - but it's not even as if you really had to go through with it. Certainly not right now. You'd sleep, then wake - probably not even in the morning, but later, much later. You and the rest of this town would have to suffer through the inevitable hangover too - and by then, the next morning would come. So many things might change in two days. Plenty of time for you to think things over, make a decision - weasel out of consequences somehow, should the sober you want it.

Really, what were you losing, by losing? Nothing.
>>
In the state of sweet self-deception, you must have stared at your cards for at least a minute. The world was patient, the world was waiting patiently for you to admit defeat. The world knew, that nobody with a winning hand would be silent for so long - and that made each second of your dallying all the more sweeter. How little did the fools know of what was going through your head at this moment! Still, appearances had to be kept.

"You know well...", you declared, revealing your cards and leaning on the back of the chair. "That winning with these cards is impossible. Let's pretend that you won fairly."
The "King's Respite" erupted with the cheering so loud, it must have been heard all the way at the border of the kingdom. The brigands laughed and embraced each other, and spoke false comforts to you - and with each of them, your suspicion of the unfair play was shifting into a realm of certain knowledge more and more.
You remembered - or listened to - none of them. You were far too preoccupied with the future now, both incredible and horrid, to pay attention to the present - until suddenly, you twitched awake and demanded what you really wanted - another drink, "to wash down the taste of defeat" and "gain some courage". What began as an attempt to quieten the pain has now become a quest for utter oblivion, and losing yourself in the clouds of alcoholic fumes.
You remembered little of the rest of the celebration, when it came to specifics - at some points, you vaguely perceived your own limbs moving in dancing motions, and even discerned some music to which it was happening. For some reason, you and everyone else present would often laugh - and after that, they would clap you on your shoulders. It happened over and over again - although you could not recall what were you laughing about, nor could you quite remember, why the rest have stopped laughing then...
>>
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At some point, the drunken stupor became a sleep - long, calm and entirely dreamless. It was like a blanket of darkness and blissful non-awareness covering you from head to toe, a little, temporary death - and when, occasionally, the outside world let itself be known, it came with a sharp, piercing pain in your head that immediately made you retreat back into the dark.
For some time, you've managed to keep it up - but soon enough, too soon, the horrid invasions of lights and noises into your sleep have become too numerous, too potent to ignore. Trying to resist the pull of reality has only made the pain worse - it has already claimed your soul, grabbed you by the throat and was now dragging you into the kingdom of unbearable suffering.

"Would you please...", you hissed through your teeth and tried clenching your fists, to make your demand seem more powerful and threatening. "Dim the light?!"
That was a mistake. The sound of your own voice was like a hot nail being driven through your brain, and such an intense sensation has caused you to cringe, shiver and open your eyes. Another mistake. The candlelight has already managed to pack quite a punch through your closed eyelids - direct exposure to it was about a thousand times worse.
"Had a little too much?", an idiotic question was asked immediately. It took you an ungodly amount of time to remember who it belonged to.
Had you been poisoning yourself in a different time and different circumstances, a whole load of interesting personas could have been waiting for you to wake with a terrible hangover. After this particular night, however, corporal Sherman Brooks was by far the most likely one to have the time and patience necessary - so that's exactly who it was. Who else? The duke?

"Stop gloating, and give me some water...", you groaned through clenched teeth. It was a harrowing experience, but you were not going to get it by being proudly silent.
A jug was moved into your direction, across some flat surface that looked like a table or a night stand. You were, unfortunately, not quite yourself yet to understand where you were, and if this was your room - and if so, which of the two. The only reason you were certain it was not a pig pen was, you've never seen a pig pen quite so brightly lit.
>>
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>I... Rode a horse. No. No, no, no, I couldn't have really...
>So, WERE you in the front row?
>Wait a minute, I realize now! They were cheating!
>What about the coin?! Is the coin alright?!
>Why does my leg hurt so much? I was... Dancing? Why would I do such a thing to myself?
>That smell... It's sulfur. Why sulfur..?
>My body. I want to vomit out my entire body.
>I am terribly, terribly sorry, before a lot of people.
>So... This is how we celebrate in Quel'Thalas.
>I regret nothing.
>[Twilight] I regret nothing
>Please, just... Go away.
>Try to preserve my dignity by groaning incomprehensibly instead of speaking.
>>
>>5018044
>So... This is how we celebrate in Quel'Thalas.
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>I... Rode a horse. No. No, no, no, I couldn't have really...
>Wait a minute, I realize now! They were cheating!
>>
The game was rigged when they brought out the fancy cards, good spot to the anon who first noticed it.
>>
>>5018044
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>So, WERE you in the front row?
>Wait a minute, I realize now! They were cheating!
>Why does my leg hurt so much? I was... Dancing? Why would I do such a thing to myself?
>That smell... It's sulfur. Why sulfur..?
>I regret everything

In that order.
>>
>>5018044
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>I... Rode a horse. No. No, no, no, I couldn't have really...
>So, WERE you in the front row?
>Well who else was there then? Did I do something even more stupid?
>I regret nothing.
>So... This is how we celebrate in Quel'Thalas.
>>
>>5018044
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>So, WERE you in the front row?
>Well who else was there then? Did I do something even more stupid?
>Wait a minute, I realize now! They were cheating!
>That smell... It's sulfur. Why sulfur..?
>>
>>5018044
>I remember... The bet. Did I go through with it?! I think she looks upset. I've gone through with it already, haven't I.
>I... Rode a horse. No. No, no, no, I couldn't have really...
>So, WERE you in the front row?
>Wait a minute, I realize now! They were cheating!
>That smell... It's sulfur. Why sulfur..?
>>
Attempts to pour some water down your throat, without knocking the pitcher down on the floor or missing your face entirely, took a humiliatingly long time - especially as the corporal, who leaned with crossed arms, made no attempt to help you in any way. Wetting your parched lips and burning throat improved your state by an inch - but you still had a long way to go, until you've reached any semblance of a normal state.
Thinking was still painful - but the problem with the hangovers always was, you couldn't help but think - especially when you recalled just what happened the previous night. The deeper into the festivity your memories stretched, the less you could recall coherently - but you've had a feeling, that not everyone was as forgetful as you. Brooks especially, for example, seemed to have been far more aware of the recent events than you.

"You look mad.", you've uttered, simply and briefly. You did not have the strength for the famous elven eloquence. "It's... Because of the bet, isn't it? I've made a bet, and then I lost, and I did... What you've warned me against, I think. On a horse."
Brooks smiled at you - and while your mental faculties have not recovered fully, your wits were not so dull that you've taken this smile as a good sign. It was not.
"Is that what you think? That it's going to be that easy?", she raised an eyebrow. "You lose the bet, you do the shameful thing while drunk, and then you have utterly no memory of it?"
"Well...", you groaned, wriggling on your bed and trying to get your head higher on the pillow. The fact that you've still had a bed and a pillow, at least, was a good sign. Once in a better position, you've thought on the matter for a few moments, but your imagination failed you. "...yes. Yes, I think that."
"Well, that's not what happened.", Brooks huffed through her nose. In a twisted way, she seemed to be enjoying whatever misery you've suffered. She must have believed you deserved it. "You did lose the bet. The one bet I've insisted you not to make, before you brushed me off. But you didn't end up honoring it - not yet. People - the ones that already sobered up - are very excited about when it will finally happen. I've heard Pious and Corsair talk about it this morning."
>>
Perhaps, had you been in a better state, the first thing that left your mouth would be an emotional response. However, the most pressing concern you've turned out to have was different:
"...who are these people?'", you grimaced, and then pressed your hands against your face, before slowly sliding them down. You weren't sure what this was meant to achieve, but it achieved little.
"The gamblers from the yesterday.", Brooks explained almost helpfully. "Don't fret, you'll get to know them even better."
Corsair must have been the one with the accent - probably kul-tiran accent? - the sailor. And Pious... You've had very little idea which of the brigands Pious was meant to be. Maybe the one who talked about life and death, and evil and good?
This train of thought, however, did not last long - as it was pushed out by a different, more pressing one.

"So, I take it, you weren't in the front rows, then.", you closed your eyes and groaned. You were desperate for a victory here - of any sort. "There were no rows to stand in."
"...are you coming on to me while sober too?", the corporal canted her head to the side. "Are you being serious, or is this a joke?"
No matter what your intentions possibly could have been, this managed to be much harsher than anything else you've expected to hear this morning.
"We'll talk about this later.", Brooks raised her hand quickly, aborting this conversation before it got the chance to get any worse. "You have enough on your plate right now."

For a while, you were silent - but the only thing that silence achieved was bringing more vague memory to the surface. You spoke quickly, changing the subject.
"I remember... I remember riding a horse.", you've forced out of yourself. "If I didn't do it, then why was I on a horse?"
"Because you were going to war.", Brooks answered to you readily. "At least, according to you."
"To war?", you blinked. For a moment, you even forgot about your headache. "With whom?"
"I'm not sure, truth be told.", Sherman admitted. "I wasn't there for the beginning of it. When I came, you were already saddled. Talking about how you were not just going to ride through the city, you were going to ride 'all the way there', to 'show them all'. How you were going to 'do it like a soldier of the apocalypse you are'."
>>
You exhaled, forcefully:
"Did I say anything else?"
"Plenty.", the corporal nodded briefly. "But I did not make sense of most of it. Sometimes, you'd speak in elven tongue - I think you were trying to sing. Some sort of a warsong. But the worst of it was when you started summoning demons."
You blinked, and twitched in your place, trying to sit and not quite managing:
"Did I hurt anyone?"
"If you did, we'd be having a different conversation.", the corporal pointed out. "But you scared plenty of folk."
That explained the stench of sulfur... But Brooks was not done.
"Pious tried telling you that the bet is off, and you can get off your horse - but you tried to kick him, and shouted that you don't need anyone's pity, and that if they 'don't want it', you're doing it by yourself. I think that your plan was riding against 'them' while naked, with an army of demons by your side, but I'm not sure. We wouldn't let you move from the spot for a long time - so you stopped trying to take of your clothes, and began crying. You told me that you're being ridiculous, and you understand it now, and that you're going to bed."
"...stars above.", you've muttered under your breath.
"...except when we parted, it turned out to be a trick - and you galloped away. We've found you in a five minute ride from the town, sleeping in a ditch, with no signs of the horse."


>That's terrible.
>That's brilliant.
>If that's all I did while drunk, it's pretty mild, and I have no opinion on my escapades.
>>
Still, there was the matter of your bet. Now that the alcohol's dark shadow no longer was the drive behind your reasoning, you've had an opinion on what you apparently yet have to do... It is, apparently, what you wanted - you could still recall, how you've lost the game purposedly, out of your own volition...

>What I wanted while drunk is irrelevant. It's ridiculous, and I won't be doing it - and that's the end of it.
>It's not anything to be proud of, but I still see no harm done. I'm sure many here did far worse things, and lived it down.
>Actually, the idea is still enticing even when I'm sober.
>My opinion on it solely depends on opinions of other people - such as, just for example, Brooks here, or the duke.
>>
>>5020094
>That's terrible.

>>5020104
>My opinion on it solely depends on opinions of other people - such as, just for example, Brooks here, or the duke.

Now that we're not throwing an ethanol-fueled tantrum anymore, we should probably give the counsel of our only friend in the entire world ever its due consideration. Glad to see that the war still haunts us no matter what, by the way.
>>
>>5020094
>That's terrible but it could have been worse.

>>5020104
>My opinion on it solely depends on opinions of other people - such as, just for example, Brooks here, or the duke.
>>
>>5020094
>>If that's all I did while drunk, it's pretty mild, and I have no opinion on my escapades.
>>5020104
>>It's not anything to be proud of, but I still see no harm done. I'm sure many here did far worse things, and lived it down.
>>
>>5020104
>That's brilliant.
>It's not anything to be proud of, but I still see no harm done. I'm sure many here did far worse things, and lived it down.
>>
>>5020094
>>That's terrible but it could have been worse.
You know I thought I might have burned the tavern down

>>5020104
>>It's not anything to be proud of, but I still see no harm done. I'm sure many here did far worse things, and lived it down.
>>
You've listened to the tale of your escapades with a grim expression on your face - you've liked none of what you've heard, except for one thing - in your heart, you knew that things could have been much, much worse. You could have burnt down the tavern, to name one thing. The entire city, even. As it was, your misadventures have been merely embarassing, instead of dangerous.

"Well, I...", you began to mutter, and paused. For a long time, you would not be able to figure out what to say next. "...truth be told, I don't know what to say. Probably not my finest hour."
"I hope so.", the corporal exhaled through her nose. For a reason you could not quite put your finger on, she seemed to have been taking it even more seriously than you. "I hope that when all is said and done, you learn a valuable lesson about excess and insobriety."
You scoffed, suddenly feeling a little less apologetic:
"I think I have a right for some debauchery every once in a few years. Recently, I've... I've been through a lot."
The corporal opened her mouth, and then shut it as she gave some thought to what she was about to say. You've seen it in her eyes - although your behaviour has been less than stellar, she knew that on some level, you were right. So, she looked away and remained silent instead.

You've spent some time just like that - in silence. You were hoping that now that your mind is no longer being assaulted by sounds, the pain inside your skull would fade away - but it was a false hope.
"So...", you sighed heavily. "What now?"
"Now? Now you remain here, while I requisition you a bath. You'll have the time to sober up, while I petition the duke to intervene in the... 'Wager' situation. I reckon that he's already aware of it, and his feelings on the matter are about the same as mine."
"The duke?", you flapped your eyelids. Thoughts moved slowly through your brain, like mules laden with pig iron. "What for?"
"So he publically forbids you this ride. People here love their games, and take their wagers very seriously - so it's best to arrange that it's not your fault that your dignity is preserved. You have no choice but to obey."
>>
Admittedly, this made some amount of sense - if one was to treat this not as a merriment it was, but instead with gravity and importance Brooks seemed to. Even now that the cloud of alcohol was no longer obscuring your judgement, you couldn't earnestly say that you could relate. You did not sign over your soul, and neither were you about to duel to the death. The matter was merely about a few minutes of... Of what, being the center of attention? Being envied and wanted? You severely doubted this is the first time Strahnbrad saw something like that occur either. It was still nothing to be proud of - but... To call for a duke's intervention on your behalf? Over a silly card game?

"Well, you've put a lot of thought into this...", you began.
"Someone had to.", Sherman shrugged.
"...but don't you think you're being overdramatic? Drunken antics like that had to happen here before."
"A few times.", the corporal allowed. "A man runs streaking through the town - barely even an event. People here are wild. I don't think anyone even got disciplined for it."
You gestured towards Brooks silently, indicating that she only illustrated your point.
"The difference is, you're not a man.", she continued. "If you go through with it, it will be very difficult for you to live it down. No matter what you do, people will remember you more as for having your teats out that one time. You talked about achieving something, going down in history, remember? Do you still want that, or do you want a mark of shame on you?"

>Fine. If she wants to help this badly, she can involve whomever she wants.
>I'm an adult in my sixties. I'd prefer to handle this myself, without involving an actual child.
>Whether I ride or not is my business, not hers. She's my friend, not my nursemaid.
>The important question is, why does she care?
>>
>>5021672
>I'm an adult in my sixties. I'd prefer to handle this myself, without involving an actual child.
>The people of this shithole would certainly never forget me that's for sure but that's better than owing the duke one.
>>
>>5021672
>Fine. If she wants to help this badly, she can involve whomever she wants.

Honestly, we've had our fun, but she's right, we may laugh at the idea of showing the peasants our body and lounging about while they stare at are body sculpted by the gods or whatever but really it'd just be embarrassing, kids would point and stare, mothers would cover their kid's eyes and remind their daughters not to end up a harlot like us, we'd never live it down and it would taint the image people may have of us in the future whereas we might otherwise be recognized for the heroine we hopefully will be.

Besides, we have more than our reputation to think of, if we are gonna work with the duke we may as well avoid sullying his image.

If Corsair and Pious and that gold-jaw guy and whoever else want to see us naked privately and if we are insistent on showing them, then all they have to do is ask and all we have to do is acquiesce, but lets not ride through town. I seriously doubt refusing to do so will seriously damage our esteem in their eyes.

We've killed our pain and had our fun, lets go do something not too strenuous and investigate Mercer or the Grimoire or that little basement thing a little ways away or something.
>>
>>5021672
>I'm an adult in my sixties. I'd prefer to handle this myself, without involving an actual child.
>The important question is, why does she care?
>>
>>5021672
>I'm an adult in my sixties. I'd prefer to handle this myself, without involving an actual child.
A private show to the gamblers in the tavern is not a bad idea though. We'd still honor the spirit if not the letter of the deal.
>>
>>5021672
>I'm an adult in my sixties. I'd prefer to handle this myself, without involving an actual child.
>The important question is, why does she care?

Look, let's just find these guys, explain that we're a very, very bad drunk, and burn their nose hairs off if the message is not received. No need to bother the duke about something so trivial. And apologize to Brooks. Seriously, she could have just left us in that ditch if she wanted to.

>>5022048
While I do agree with this assessment, Anons will try anything to get a description of some libidinal imagery, even if it takes the entire quest off-course.
>>
I'm going to make a note of how the sudden and mysterious engagement spike has disappeared into nothing, and we're back to our usual numbers.
Don't think I haven't noticed, or that I won't remember.
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: None.
Fate Points: 3

"It's best not to involve his grace.", you spoke after a few seconds of consideration. "It's below him. And it's below me, to ask for help with it. It's better if I... It's better for everyone if I just handle this myself."
"You won't be doing it.", the corporal reminded. "I'll do it. Your name won't even..."
"And it's below you to do it.", you groaned back. "I feel ashamed already I've had to rely on you to not sleep in a ditch - and I'm sorry you had to..."
The sentence remained unfinished. You both understood what you meant to say.

"Well...", the corporal looked at you with a shade of skepticism that deeply hurt you. "If you say that you'll handle it yourself, I trust you."
"Thank you.", you've spoken earnestly. It was somewhat of a miracle, that after yesterday, she had any trust in your judgement at all.
The corporal turned to leave, but briefly stopped and reminded you:
"I'll arrange that you're given a bathe - which you really need - and something to eat. Once you recover..."
"I'll find myself something productive to do.", you assured quickly. "I've rested enough."
The woman nodded quickly - then, she opened her mouth to say something else, but instead closed it, nodded to you again and left through the door.

You were once again left alone in your room - your second room, that is, since not even Sherman Brooks was bold enough to try the wards on your original dwelling. For the time being, you've remained in your bed, lying there with eyes shut - but soon enough, the time would come to wash the stench of yesterday's shame from your body, brave the sunlight and finally - as you've told the corporal - do something productive. Something truly productive. But what?

>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy.
>Follow up the scrying with a physical scouting - examine the point of interest.
>I need to do something big in order to redeem myself. The silver mine. That's what I need.
>...or the Falconcrest problem?
>And what of good Church?
>>
As you've thought on all kinds of possibilities and opportunities, another thought bothered you. Just a few minutes earlier, Brooks promised to have a serious conversation with you - and you've had no doubt that eventually, it would happen. To anyone else, it would probably be an insignificant, petty matter, dwarfed in importance compared to the troubles that faced you and the rogue state you were adopted by.
Not to you.

Brooks was a human. And she was a woman. She was a foreigner, who neither truly knew what you were fighting for, nor even knew your real name. The things you've told her could probably be chalked off as drunken delirium - and what you've told her this morning, while sober, as a clumsy jest that did not mean a thing.
It was a jest, yes. And it was rather clumsy, in the hindsight. But did you really mean nothing by it? And yesterday, was it the wine that forced those words in your mouth, or did it just make you say them out loud?
Nobody is listening to your thoughts now. Nobody can judge you, or force some consequences on you, good or ill. It is just you, and your heart, and you looking within it. Do not overthink this. Do not answer any question, other than the one you're facing right now.

Your heart. Is it beating just a little faster right now? Is it attraction that you're feeling?

>Yes.
>No.
>>
>>5022718
>>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy.

>>5022743
>>No.
oh no no no, things can only get worse here
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

>>5022718
>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy.

Well, time to get back to work.

>>5022743
1 is Yes, 2 is No. Sometimes people don't have the luxury of choosing who they are attracted to. I like Brooks though. But, we haven't developed our relationship with that many characters yet, so it is too early to choose favourites.
>>
>>5022833
The dice have spoken, Brooks is our forever best human friend but nothing more. Well, at least as far as I'm concerned, Yes could still win the vote if other anons vote for it.
>>
>>5022718
>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy

>>5022743
>Yes

>>5022833
>>5022763
>Post asks not to overthink things
>Immediately begin overthinking
>>
>>5022248
The lesson is simple; tits = engagement

>>5022718
>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy.

>>5022743
>No
>>
>>5022743
>>It's time to finally investigate the Jarad conspiracy.

>No.
>>
It really was wiser to do something meaningful - it would be much easier to look people in the eyes, if you had some purpose to your actions, beyond trying to get out of the devil's contract you apparently signed. There were many enticing things, none of which you've even begun to approach - but none of them compared to finding out just what happened to Jarad, and whether foul play was involved.

In order to warm up your sluggish, ailing brain, you've briefly recalled everything you knew about the case - which was surprisingly a lot. Jarad was a warlock from the Wake, and a friend of Church - and if you remembered correctly, Brooks even believed they knew each other from "before". Jarad managed to kill himself, as well as unknown number of the duke's people, at least some of whom knew him closely - who knew, maybe he had his own Brooks as well - and all of it happened during a botched spell. There was a location to this ritual, although, to be frank, you were not certain if anything was left there by now - this death might have occurred weeks, if not months ago.
The grimoire was in Mercer's possession, who - for some reason you were not yet aware of yet - suspected that something was rotten. For that reason, he withheld Jarad's grimoire from Church, so he could investigate. Just yesterday morning, you discussed the matter with the duke. The exact results of this conversation were a little difficult to remember, but you've figured he would order Mercer to hand the tome over by now.

That was a lot. While it was quite probable that you'd succeed in doing all of the important things pertaining to this investigation, it would be good to approach the matter in an orderly manner. If only you knew for certain, what the first step should be...

>Speak to Mercer, and get him to hand over the grimoire.
>Take a look at the grimoire without Mercer's permission and knowledge.
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.
>Talk to character witnesses, try to find out more about the deceased and the circumstances of his death.
>[Write-in]
>>
It seemed that you were to be an investigator of sorts - like the sort the Spire sends, once the matters are too complex or sensitive for the guard. While it was true, that investigators operate solely with facts, they also listened to their intuition. You've had one too - a suspicion was already forming in your gut, telling you who exactly is to blame for what transpired.

>Duke Dryden could have easily ordered his death, and nobody would ever suspect him.
>Mercer is responsible. He's the first and natural suspect.
>I do not trust Church, and his involvement here. He's to blame.
>Halligan, like always, has nothing to do with anything. How convenient.
>As was proven in that troll tomb, Syndicate members are not the harmless thugs they might appear as. It's them.
>It is probably the Argus Wake - either the entire organization, or someone high-ranking within it.
>Alteraci politics - from beyond this particular court - killed him.
>I sense the stromic hand.
>An outside force is responsible - someone whom I haven't met yet.
>...could it be me?
>No one is responsible but Jarad himself. He got sloppy, and paid the price.
>>
>>5023863
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.
>No one is responsible but Jarad himself. He got sloppy, and paid the price.
>>
>>5023863
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.

>>5023867
>Mercer is responsible. He's the first and natural suspect.
>I sense the stromic hand.

Perhaps they are one and the same.
>>
>>5023863
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.

>>5023867
>Halligan, like always, has nothing to do with anything. How convenient.
>>
>>5023867
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.

>...could it be me?
>No, Mercer is responsible. He's the first and natural suspect.

Perhaps Mercer didn't do anything wrong, but he is probably the most important person of interest right now.
>>
>>5023863
>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.

>>5023867
>Mercer is responsible. He's the first and natural suspect
>As was proven in that troll tomb, Syndicate members are not the harmless thugs they might appear as. It's them.
>>
>>5023863
>>Find and inspect the scene of the crime.
>>5023867
>>Mercer is responsible. He's the first and natural suspect.

I do think we're leaning a bit too hard into assuming Mercer to be shady mostly because he's been a regular asshole to us, but given he squirreled away the tome I figure he's a better place than most to start.
>>
>>5023980
This wouldn't be the first time a warlock's ambitions outpaced his abilities. You've heard of many cases of your kind being undone by undue pride - and although sometimes, it was less... Unsubtle than the fiery demise Jarad apparently suffered, warlocks were by no means strangers to dramatic, terrible deaths. A summoning going out of control. A spell of burning hellfire being allowed to consume the sorcerer for a second too long, as he thinks to outlast his enemies. Warlock's own lifeforce being tapped one too many times, for that matter. Not even moody gilnean poets have died by their own hands more often than warlocks had.
Jarad could be no different.
So, why didn't you believe it?

>>5024729
As far as your understanding of the court went, Halligan was still a bit of a dark horse. He was no warrior - at least, to the best of your knowledge - and unlike the rest of the Syndicate, he probably committed his thefts with a quill, not with a knife. He was a steward. He oversaw finance - but how many other things as well? Could he be a spymaster? Or, perhaps, a spy? On the behalf of Strom, perhaps.
This was a baseless thought - an accusation you would never find yourself making out loud. You had no evidence against anyone - period, but with Halligan, you haven't had a motive or opportunity either. How exactly was he to murder Jarad? Did he leverage some old debts against the Burning Legion, made them cast fire down from the sky?
No, probably not. But it was foolish to discount this man entirely. Not everyone who appears harmless and irrelevant actually is. You needed to find out more about him.

>>5024765
...yes, you traveled through time and space, to this backwater some weeks ago, so you could murder a human you've never even met - presumably, so you can later take his place, as a court mage to a boy lord - ever your dream job. And the reason you've drunk yourself half to death yesterday was actually so you forget about it, else you let it slip or give it up under torture.
Focus.

>>5025794
What about the Syndicate itself? Maybe not people like lord Falconcrest or lord Perenolde, but down to earth killers, like those Pious and Corsair characters, or even Brooks? They were capable of fighting a death knight - even if numbers were on their side - why not warlock? Especially if taken by surprise, Jarad could find himself with no time to even understand he's dying. Or maybe he did have the time to defend himself. Maybe those Syndicate men who died with him were actually ones he managed to kill before succumbing. But what's the motive?
>>
>>5024505
>>5024765
>>5026755
No. The first and most natural suspect was sir Egmund Mercer. If you remembered correctly, the man expressed some contempt to Jarad already. He didn't like or trust the Wake - same way he did not like or trust you. There's the motive - flimsy and nonsensical, just as his reasons for his disagreeable attitude - but a motive nonetheless. Admittedly, you didn't have much when it came to the means and the opportunity - just yet, that is - but you did have one more element.
The cover-up. Or maybe even the motive, who knows? Mercer confiscated Jarad's grimoire after death, and refused to give it up ever since. He is "looking for the killer". He is "investigating". Perhaps, a foolish thing to do - if he didn't bring up foul play to begin with, who knows if you'd come to believe in it yourself.
But perhaps not. By decrying this death as a murder, Egmund places himself beyond suspicion - why would a killer ever want to draw attention to his slaying? And furthermore, after "investigating" for some time, he could very well finger whatever party he wished. Mercer's black little shriveled heart was full of hate, and you had no doubt that if he really was looking to frame someone, he had quite the list of possibilities. And you were there somewhere too.

But above all, you wanted it to be Mercer. At least a part of you did. Uncovering his guilt would mean the opportunity to make him go away, and an opportunity to finally breathe easily.
Who knows. Maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe it's him.
>>
It took you hours to get outside your temporary quarters - once the hot bath arrived, you didn't wish to crawl out of your bed, and once you were clean, you did not wish to get out of the bath. You would take far less time, if the elements managed to chill the water - but wish just a flicker of your fingers, you could reheat it, again and again. If your teacher ever saw such careless and mundane application of your dangerous craft, he would have had a stroke out of anger.
What truly mattered was, you eventually managed to go outside and get a breath of fresh air - that, for some reason, felt like a lungful of poison to you after yesterday's night. It took you a minute to adjust - and a minute more to find someone to call out, grab by his hand and loudly demand directions to the spot of Jarad's death. People looked at you even more oddly now - as if they weren't quite sure how to behave with you. At the very least, they didn't snicker behind your back - so not all was lost.

Reaching the site of the tragedy took you some time - whatever spell he was casting, Jarad decided to show some responsibility and weave it outside of town - on some meadow not far from the local forest. Reaching it took time and effort - but compared to agonizingly slow walks through Silvermoon City, this was nothing but a brief walk.
And once you've reached it, there was no mistaking it for anything else. Perhaps, even those unburdened by knowledge would be able to tell that something terrible transpired here - despite the lack of bodies. Nature has not yet reclaimed this place - and it would be quite some time til it had. You didn't expect it to. The inferno called down by dark sorcery was neither the life-giving flame of the dragons, nor the nigh-mundane fire of the primitive shamans. It was a power corrupted to the core. Even now, weeks after it raged, you could feel the echo of the cosmic chaos lingering in the air akin to an ugly scar. It remained here long after the winds have blown away the ashes, and would remain here long after you leave this place.


>[Mind Palace] Assuming everything I know about Jarad's death is true, what COULD have happened here?
>[Twilight] How would I go about murdering a warlock and making it look like an accident?
>[Prudence] Focus on the dark presence. What can it tell me?
>>
There is no reason you can't choose all three options. The real choice here is probably what to spend fate points on, if anything.
>>
>>5027083
>>[Mind Palace] Assuming everything I know about Jarad's death is true, what COULD have happened here?
No Fate
>>[Twilight] How would I go about murdering a warlock and making it look like an accident?
Fate
>>[Prudence] Focus on the dark presence. What can it tell me?
Fate
>>
>>5027083
Supporting >>5027278

We saved those Fate Points when we could've won big on our bet or prevented some measure of embarrassment on our part earlier, may as well use them here. There are only a few tasks we are up to until we are healed, and this is among the most important, so we should use them here.

I think we ought to save one for if an accusation comes our way or if we need to make an accusation ourselves or if we need to do some social sabotage and plant evidence if that is the route we end up thinking is beneficial.
>>
>>5027278
this
>>
>>5027083
>>5027278
Supporting as well.
>>
Rolled 2, 5, 5, 6 = 18 (4d6)

Mind Palace +2
>>
Rolled 5, 5, 5, 1 = 16 (4d6)

Twilight...

(+1, Fate point)
>>
Rolled 1, 6, 6, 6 = 19 (4d6)

Prudence

(+3, Fate Point)
>>
>>5028803
>>5028804
>>5028807
wow we should get wasted more often
>>
>>5028803
>>5028804
>>5028807
>>5028818
...I concur.
>>
File: Infernal.jpg (92 KB, 1280x720)
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EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: None.
Fate Points: 1

It was the easiest thing in the world to calmly breathe in, reach out to the foulness that lingered in this place and disturb it, let it waken, scream - then, you merely had to listen. You've always had that - the gift for listening. Years ere, when the prince's army assisted the wizards of Dalaran - ever poor in humility and gratitude - one of the haughty masters of the arcane told you something you would remember for the rest of your life.
"The high arcane...", he lectured you then. "Is like a cat of good breeding. Dignified, civilized, calm. But fel is a chained, rabid dog - unpredictable and dangerous to its own 'master'."
Like all famous lies, it had elements of truth in it. Difficult to predict - at times, yes. Dangerous - maybe, but nothing worth doing is safe. But unknowable, incomprehensible - no. You knew that well by now. Where a wizened mage of Dalaran would try and listen, but only hear maddened roar of a beast, one a man could never hope to make sense of, you've seen patterns where others would only see chaos. Something that could be measured, compared to the already well familiar, something that - to those who cared to try - simply made sense.

It were long years since you've seen a spell like this, but you would not mistake its ripples for everything else. That pained wailing you've heard with your skin and bones was the pained cry of the Nether between the worlds - the power of the warlock ripped through it, as it called to the distant stars that burned with rage, and then, it would be dealt an even deeper wound when they answered. It was a summoning spell - one of considerable power. It was no lowly imp or the footsoldier of the Legion Jarad called for. Your predecessor would not settle for less than an infernal - a terrible construct of fire, stone and fury, that would easily tower over your felguard. Some specimen, you've known, could even be as tall as the castle walls.
These terrible creatures were amongst the greatest examples of Legion's might - and summoning one successfuly would be a badge of pride for any warlock. Even attempting and failing required power that few truly possessed. The risk... The risk was significant. Summoning and controlling such a thing were two entirely different things. For mortals, attempting to do so was always either a sign of hubris, or desperation. But when it succeeded... By the stars, when they succeeded! The sight of an infernal descending from the sky in a great ball of fire - the sight alone was sometimes enough to decide a battle and make the enemy flee for their lives.
>>
You've known the purpose of the spell now, and were completely confident in your knowledge. A lesser woman would take a look at what remained of this once beautiful place, remember what she was told, take it on its word and never think on it twice. Jarad's reach exceeded his grasp, and he died by the flames he attempted to bring down. Case closed.
But did it hold up to scrutiny, and what you knew about magical theory? Just how could this spell go wrong, and how did it?

Something was happening, as you stood on this meadow, your eyes still closed, your breathing - calm and steady, your thoughts racing in your head. The pain in your chest was gone - completely, without a trace, as if it ceased together with ceasing to be important. The fog inside your skull - it too was gone, and not merely the shameful vapors of the yesterday's night. It was the fog of the last four years that faded away, without you even ever noticing. Perhaps, it was wiped away this very night. Perhaps, it was what you needed all along. Nothing else burdened you now, but the ethereal world of ideas and theory, facts and conspiracy. You cared not for the implications or risks, as you were solving this riddle.
It was as if suddenly, for the first time in ages, you were awake.

One thing you knew for certain was, Jarad did not succeed in the summoning spell one way or another. Only a complete and utter fool would look at the ground made bare and assume that this is the spot where an infernal once stood - the giant would not limit himself to killing its summoner and those unlucky enough to be immediate witnesses. If it would then head to the closest population center and lay waste to it, until nothing remained - and last you remembered, the town still stood. Even if one was to argue that the creature decided to take the scenic route and go on a rampage elsewhere, there would be unmistakable footsteps for you to see.
Not to mention that if he actually was summoned, there was simply no way you wouldn't hear about it. Even if the entire town decided to keep it a secret for some unfathomable reason, it would not be a secret they'd manage to keep.

So, rampaging infernal did not kill Jarad. What else could have happened? He could have tapped into his lifeforce one time too many to afford such a powerful spell. He would then die - and all the chaos he attempted to control would be unleashed, killing the onlookers. This... Made a lot of sense - so you've mentally made a note of it, as the most likely explanation. If he died during the spell, results would quite probably look like this. If Jarad was truly drunk with power, he could have even drained those with him - and tnen still die. For some reason, you've liked this theory less.
>>
There were two other theories that also held varying degrees of water. One - Jarad simply lost control of the spell. It was certainly possible, but not terribly likely. If such a thing happened, you'd expect it to happen in the beginning of it - in which case, it would simply fizzle out - or the end of it, which would probably result in the summoning being technically succesful - just not in the way he would have preferred it. You've already established it didn't happen.
This was theory B. Possible.

The third and last explanation that did not go into the realm of conspiracy was mundane - Jarad made a mistake. Not in trying the summoning at all, and not at handling the spellpower. He could have drawn the circle incorrectly, or in chanting the spell, or failed in creathing the material component - no, that one would have resulted in the spell fizzling out, not failing in such a catastrophic manner. It was one of the first two - some small, technical mistake that could have very well costed him his life.
There was a lot of possibility for errors with dark magic, but no room for them. This is why complicated summonings like this were never, ever eyeballed - no matter how confident you were, you always relied on your grimoire, on your research and the research of generations past. Ironically, this opened another possibility for an error - the grimoire being at fault - but if your own hand penned the spell that got you killed, the book was hardly to blame.
>>
As for the matters of murder... You would have to collar your imagination, and restrict yourself solely to the facts you've established. There was no reason to create new entities - you've known that the summoning of the infernal was attempted, but it was never finished. All you needed, was to ask yourself questions and answer them in a simple manner.

Could have Jarad been murdered, despite everything you've established? Yes - yes, there was plenty of room for conspiracy here still.
Could have Jarad been murdered directly and violenty, and the results to be consistent with what you've seen with your own eyes? Yes. The area was open - he could have been shot in an inopportune moment, or stabbed in the back. The results would be consistent. Theory C.
Two things bothered you about this particular scenario, however. One - you withstood a blow with a flail thanks to a defensive charm that Jarad no doubt knew too. Well, maybe he simply had no time and was caught utterly unaware. But was he so unaware, that he forgot to prepare a soulstone? It was the greatest trick a warlock could ever pull - cheating death, with the help of one magic artifact he'd prepare himself. There were limitations in place, and great inconveniences, and there were good reasons for why warlocks did not just keep rising from the dead whenever something terrible happened...
But unless he was turned to ash on the spot - with all of his belongings... No soulstone? He prepared for weeks or months, quite likely, for what was possibly the crowning achievement in his life. He was doing something incredibly dangerous - and knew about it well in advance. And he neglected to preserve his soul? He was certainly full of himself to summon an infernal - but this full of himself?

But as you've kept wondering about this, another - even more insidious possibility - suddenly graced your imagination. What if Jarad was helped in making a mistake? What if his grimoire was tampered with? The very thought chilled you to the bone. There was no betrayal fouler and more unexpected than the betrayal by what you think to be your own hand. And yet - a few letters changed, a little dot there, and the entire spell can be disrupted. To intentionally cause such chaos, however, one would have to know what he's doing - not to mention have access to the book itself, and the skill to make the alteration unnoticed. Still, a terrifying thought - something even someone as prudent and cautious as you could have fallen victim to. Theory D.

In the end, you were left with a lot of theories - and a lot of questions unanswered. What really happened here? And what were you to do now?

>Write-in
>>
>>5028914
Let's see about securing the grimoire. We could probably scratch off one or two possibilities if we can figure out what Jarad was studying and how meticulous he was.

I'm not sure if anons would prefer to deal with Mercer or try to secure it covertly.
>>
>>5028914
I briefly entertained the idea of him being forced to summon the infernal due to him being in dire straits, but this seems unlikely as he apparently hadn't summoned an infernal before and the undertaking of such a summoning apparently requires quite a bit of prep, (at least for the initial summoning, I don't know if after the initial summoning you can just quickly summon them like we did before) plus we would surely hear about it if he was ambushed or attacked by such a large and powerful force that he was forced to resort to a truly desperate gamble such as this.

I guess the obvious next step is to obtain the grimoire, examine his work ourselves. Although I think we should just quickly do an examination of the area for other signs of mundane conflict or struggle or even perhaps tracks of people who came to observe the scene and its aftermath, maybe we can find a odd sign of an observer who doesn't belong and heads in a weird direction.

Personally I think we should head to the duke, he did say he would acquire it for us or order Mercer to hand it over, it shouldn't take long, Mercer should have no grounds on which to resist the duke's orders. If he tampers with it or hides certain parts of it we may be able to discover such a thing through our examination, or we could sneak into Mercer's quarters or office after the fact regardless to find more information both about Mercer or any hidden pages of the grimoire he may have ripped out or copied for his own use. (potentially) Either way, we shouldn't make the initial acquiring of the grimoire harder than it needs to be, finding out later that he tampered with it or is hiding portions of it for himself will only help incriminate him if he is the culprit.

Finally, after we acquire the grimoire, but before we do any potential sneaking around or throwing around any accusations we ought to get an account of what Jarad was doing in the time leading up to his death and also an account of his character and what his duties seemed to be. (whether they be things he volunteered for, things the duke wanted him to do, or what the Syndicate can speculate were his orders from the Wake were)

We may also want to examine that cellar as part of this investigation, it is so nearby that I think these things could be related. A Wake spy could be sleeping in that cellar, putting up the Eyes that have been watching us, or it could house some unknown party that is related to this incident, or it could be some other native faction that isn't friendly to our Syndicate buddies.

Generally before we make our final accusations or whatever we intend to do to benefit our own interests we probably ought to get a better picture of all the possible culprits, and what they were doing leading up to Jarad's death and what they are like. That is assuming we don't find definitive evidence right away that points to someone in particular.
>>
>>5028914
Occam's razor says he fucked up from a combination of hubris and laziness. But sure, let's check out his personal belongings and notes for possible signs of tampering. Then find a way to access his grimoire.
>>
>>5028941
Support. We can't be sure of anything until we study his grimoire.
>>
File: The Marshal.jpg (503 KB, 1209x1634)
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One thing was certain - if you were to truly... "Crack the case" - by all that is holy, you've even begun to think like one of those detective characters - you needed to narrow down what was possible to what actually happened. There were ways to do it - speaking to character witnesses, researching the key players and their agendas... Most certainly not staring at the ground for hours, however - despite your success with tracking down the undead a few days ago, you were no ranger. Finding odd footprints weeks after they were left was somewhat outside of your area of specialization.
The first and most important thing you could do, however, was getting your hands on that grimoire. Luckily, you've already discussed the matter with the duke and found him agreeable - all that remained was to finalize the transaction. No matter how difficult the opposing party would make it.

Sir Egmund Mercer was not difficult to find. Although your sharp elven ear has failed you when you tried to track him down by the sounds of clinking his newfound trophy armor would make, eventually you settled for the second best option and looked for the owner of the most unhealthily bloated ego around. That led you straight to the practice yard - where, if your ears were to be believed, Syndicate men were engaging in some good, old-fashionded archery, instead of handling the clunky dwarven guns. The sight of such a civilized approach almost made being here worth it.
Observing it from a distance from his spot by an aged tree, there stood the duke's marshal himself - as bald as ever. Whatever conversation you were about to have there should have remained private, lest either of you begins shouting. It took you a moment to realize that he was not wearing the armor you expected to be on him - but in the hindsight, it was probably somewhat foolish to expect him to do so.
"Sir Egmund.", you greeted, as you were getting closer.
The man turned his head and regarded you brielfly, pretending as if he didn't hear you approaching:
"Dawnstrider.", he barely bothered faking mirth. "What can I do for Argus Wake's newest toadie?

>Remain civilized, polite. Ask him about the recent battle at the tomb. How are the men holding up?
>How about some gratitude, for one? I expected to earn some respect after the victory I've won for him.
>Clearly, he wants to have a conversation about whatever malfunction that plagues him.
>I feel like we've started on the wrong foot. I'm aligned with the duke and the kingdom of Alterac, not with the Argus Wake. We're on the same side.
>He can do his job, like a good little peon. We're allies, so he should swallow his feelings and start acting like an adult.
>I'm investigating the murder of my predecessor, and he's the prime suspect. What was his relationship with the deceased?
>Just trying to do my job. I want Jarad's grimoire - and after that, I leave.
>He should be very well aware of what I want. Let's skip the rest of this tedious conversation.
>[Write-in]
>>
>>5031072
>I'm investigating the murder of my predecessor, and he's the prime suspect. What was his relationship with the deceased?
>Just trying to do my job. I want Jarad's grimoire - and after that, I leave.

No need to demand gratitude, we know the worth of what we did, but it wasn't our victory alone, Mercer and Sherman did their parts, as did the rest of the Syndicate men. That being said, we may have made a showing of being more civilized than him when we met with the duke's council but we are here for a specific reason and shouldn't waste time on niceties particularly as he isn't keen on sharing such niceties with us.
>>
>>5031072
>I'm investigating the murder of my predecessor, and he's the prime suspect. What was his relationship with the deceased?
>Just trying to do my job. I want Jarad's grimoire - and after that, I leave.

Oh God, there's no way that someone hasn't told him about yesterday. Hopefully our unique impression doesn't make the investigation more complicated than it needs to be.
>>
>>5031181
I didn't want things to go that way, but alas, I was outvoted and now must embrace embarrassment and despair!
>>
>>5031072
>>Clearly, he wants to have a conversation about whatever malfunction that plagues him
>>I'm investigating the murder of my predecessor, and he's the prime suspect. What was his relationship with the deceased?
>>
>>5031072
>>I'm investigating the murder of my predecessor, and he's the prime suspect. What was his relationship with the deceased?
>>Just trying to do my job. I want Jarad's grimoire - and after that, I leave.
>>
>>5031092
+1
>>
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 0
Stress: You'll live.
Consequences: None.
Fate Points: 1

You breathed in very shallowly, and resisted the urge to even consider saying anything other than what you're here for. Provoking you was probably his intention here anyway - and you had very little chance of making a friendly conversation with his man.
Maybe, should he turn out to be innocent of this wrongdoing - and not right now, but in some time, you would learn how to tolerate each other. Every book of fiction you've read had a character who was very unkind to the hero, but after a series of trials and tribulations, some respect between the two was established - and oftentimes, the true reason was uncovered, as to why that hard man was the way he was. It was all fiction, of course - but maybe, this sort of thing really happened in reality.

"I've come about Jarad and his grimoire.", you announced, trying not to speak too loudly. Who knows which of the duke's men had a particularly sharp ear?
"Really?", the knight huffed, raising his scarred brow and acting surprised. He wasn't. "Yes, I have his book. What do you want with it?"
"I'm investigating his death - and after taking a look at the site, I can't rule out foul play.", you've spoken earnestly and watched, if his face would twitch in a way that betrayed fear. "The summoning he was attempting - the ritual must be detailed in the grimoire. I'll take a look at it, and see if there's any flaws that could have resulted in what happened."
"So, you don't need somewhere to vomit onto.", Mercer emtted an enlightened 'ah'. "Congratulations on you swift recovery."
"Thank you.", you answered dryly. Then, you paused. "Will you surrender the book, sir Egmund?"
"I have not surrendered anything in my life, witch.", the man sneered. "You'll have the book, because I allow it."
He must have interpreted your silent look as an awaiting one, because he rolled his eyes and explained to you, as if he was speaking to a child:
"I don't have it with me, and I'm not going to my chambers at your demand. It will be brought to you by a servant - to the whatever room you'll be spending this night in."
"Thank you for your cooperation, sir Egmund.", you answered calmly. How much of his willingness was because of the conversation you've shared with the duke? Did he have any choice in the matter now? Was your conversation even necessary? It was a pity there was no way to know.
>>
"...and have a good day. I see that you're quite busy.", you nodded to him, beginning to turn away. Then, you suddenly stopped before making even one step - a maneuever you've also read from a book - before turning your head back. "Actually, sir Egmund, one more thing suddenly occurred to me."
The man inhaled sharply, through his nose. He was trying to exhibit the patience of a saint - but it was clearly costing him effort:
"I don't like dramatic pauses. Get on with it."
You've stepped back - or rather, a bit closer to the man than you were originally, and spoke thoughtfully:
"If there was foul play involved, it stands to reason that someone must have committed the slaying. I would never suspect you, sir Egmund, but just for the sake of formality - what was your relationship with the... Dearly departed?"

The bald man's lips thinned in an unpleasant smile, and he shook his head:
"I see. Well, for the sake of formality - do you have a little book to write it down in? - I hated this snake's guts. When I heard that explosion, I forgot to even worry about the men with him - I was too relieved that this miserable fuck was dead. If this wasn't his own doing, then whoever did him in has done us all a service - not just the people of Alterac, but the whole world. The grass is just a little bit greener, and the birds sing just a little cheerier, now that Jarad of Nowhere has left us."
"I understand.", you dipped your head. "Was there any particular reason you felt in such a way?"
"There was.", the man raised his head. He felt in control of the conversation all of the sudden, and thus you needed to prod him.
"Would you care to enlighten me?"
"I despised him, because he was a treacherous climber, who came here with this interesting idea, that he could come to rule those lands himself. Instead of the people of the duchy, he reported to the vipers whom even the orcish Horde used to consider backstabbing scum, and he had a pretty big rapport amongst them. Could make it all the way to a leadership position, if not for his untimely death. Alas."

You've received your answer - and in time, you would receive the grimoire too. Your business here was done, unless you had something else to say, some questions to ask.

>[Write-in]
>>
>>5033586
>Ask for more details on the character of Jarad, his ambitiousness aside was he the type of person who seemed lazy or arrogant? (his ambitiousness aside, again)

>"He said that? That he intended to rule these lands himself, directly?"

>Ask about the people who died in the explosion and why they would be accompanying him. If he is not forthcoming or doesn't know much, ask for the names and locations of their friends or next of kin so we can ask them for more information about Jarad and those he associated with.

This last one is kind of a "we may or may not do this" thing. Depends on if anons want to go along with my suggestion.

>Try and provoke him into either immediately accompanying us to hand us the grimoire or getting a servant to let us into his room to hand us the book.

We can try and do this by saying we'll head to his room right now and ask a servant to open his door and fetch it for us or something, since we don't want to waste time. Basically, even if he denies accompanying us or only he has the key to his room and need not fear a servant letting us in, maybe we can make him paranoid enough from fear of us breaking into his room to root around for stuff to come along with us so as to hand us the book right away.

The point of this is just to hurry things along so we don't have to wait, and also to prevent him from tampering with the grimoire to erase evidence now that he knows we are on the case, though he may have done so already if he is the culprit, if there even is a culprit.
>>
>>5033607
I for one am 100% in favor of this plan, despite the chance of this backfiring spectacularly.

>>5033586
>"On second thought, there is no need to send a servant to fetch the grimoire. I shall simply show myself in right now - I know a felguard has a talent for opening doors."

We are a lady of fine pedigree, a seasoned leader of soldiers, and a powerful sorceress. This sad, strange, little man does not get to tell us 'no.' The duke has given us his permission to look into Jarad's untimely demise, and we are not going to twiddle our thumbs and wait until Mercer 'feels' like cooperating.

On a different tangent, if what he's telling us about Jarad is true, then there's a non-zero chance that the Shadow Council decided that they didn't like Jarad and arranged to have him disappeared, only for his replacement to conveniently ride in on a fiery steed not long after. We probably shouldn't shirk our evil goon duties too often just to be safe.
>>
>>5033586
There's nothing we can squeeze out of him but japes now. Leave.
>>
>>5033607
Uhhhh do you really think that this is going to work anon? Seem likely to antagonize him needlessly
>>
>>5033607
supporting this but we can do without provoking him. just demand he order a servant to fetch it now if you really want it urgently.
>>
>>5034116
I have no idea if it'll work, it may auto-succeed/fail or it may be a roll. Who knows? But as I said, it could save us some time or prevent any last minute alterations.
>>
"Is that what he said?", you inquired in a neutral tone of voice. "That he intends to rule these parts?"
"Not out loud.", Mercer huffed easily. Admitting it wasn't particularly difficult to him - he saw no difference between his claim, and what Jarad apparently did. "It was implicit. In how he spoke, in how he ordered the men around. He came here to carve out a little kingdom of his own, become this land's shadow ruler, whispering into the boy's ear - which he did every time he wasn't out on one of his secret witch tasks."
"Did it work?", you prodded. "These men that died with him, were they his men?"
"They were our men.", sir Egmund cut you off. "Good, loyal men. Buckley, Taraldsen, Miller - if they rode with him, it wasn't for his honeyed poison - it was for the gold and the thrill. Nothing wrong with either."
You've felt your eyebrows furrow involuntarily.
"Each one of them was worth a thousand gnats like Jarad. Or you. Pity they had to die with him."

You nodded briefly - to your own thoughts, not to the man. From him, you've heard quite enough, and only one thing remained:
"Fascinating. And on the second thought, sir Egmund, it would be better if I take a look at the grimoire now. If you arrange for someone to fetch it from your quarters - now - I would be grateful. If you wish, I could also go myself."
Mercer turned on his place, facing you fully for the first time. His eyes were narrowed - not in a tense expression, but in a mocking one. The lack of respect and fear in his voice was apparent from the tone alone.
"I'll do no such thing."
You've tried to speak without changing your tone:
"Why is that?"
"Because I'm not done inspecting it myself. Because I want to wait until you're sober enough to not ruin the pages with your vomit. Because I don't feel like it. Take your pick.", Mercer shrugged his shoulders. "You'll get it on my time, and you should be glad you're getting anything at all. Drunken, lecherous whores aren't usually allowed anywhere near the matters so sensitive."

>[Exertion] Who do you think you are, worm?!
>[Movement] His guard is down. Hurt him. Hurt him, and humiliate him.
>[Mind Palace] He doesn't like me. I understand. But it doesn't matter. It's still in his best interests for me to have the grimoire.
>I won't lower myself to this exercise in establishing dominance, or to making a tearful plea. I'm quite capable of waiting... Or picking the lock on his door.
>>
>>5034556
>"And what would a knight know of fel magic? Of fire and shadow, light and void, demons and the twisting nether? Unless said knight were not a knight at all, but a witch like those he claims to despise!? Or are you claiming to be a learned academic, a scholar? You!?"

>[Exertion] Who do you think you are, worm?!

>Use a god damn fate point.

This probably isn't the wisest course of action. I actually think the Mind Palace option or simply demuring and going off to break into his room is both wiser and more likely to succeed by far. Mercer isn't afraid of us, he is more physically capable than us, perhaps even if we weren't maimed he still would be, and I doubt even if his guard is genuinely down that we could inflict a worthy injury upon him with our bad leg, not to mention it would show that we aren't above being provoked ourselves and would get us in trouble.

Words however and a little flame for show probably won't earn us more than a scolding by the duke, and if we fail the check we'll probably merely end up embarrassed. I'm a little tired of playing nice with him though, despite previously being an advocate for staying within the bounds of reasonable behavior and playing ourselves as being above his insults, such as at the council meeting with the duke and his advisors.
>>
>>5034556
>>I won't lower myself to this exercise in establishing dominance, or to making a tearful plea. I'm quite capable of waiting... Or picking the lock on his door.
>>
>>5034556
>I won't lower myself to this exercise in establishing dominance, or to making a tearful plea. I'm quite capable of waiting... Or picking the lock on his door.

Despite my earlier post advocating for the rapid escalation of this playground argument that we've become entangled in, since Mercer seems willing to hit back after our provocation, we may be better off walking away from this without causing a scene. We can get back at him... after we plan our petty revenge. For now, let's just focus on unraveling the mystery of Jarad.
>>
>>5034556
>I won't lower myself to this exercise in establishing dominance, or to making a tearful plea. I'm quite capable of waiting... Or picking the lock on his door.
>>
You supressed the urge to shout and make a scene. You were an officer and a lady. No matter how tempting it would be to begin stomping your foot in the ground, you needed to refrain. You were simply above this schoolyard nonsense.

"Very well, sir Egmund.", you've nodded calmly. You were certain that not even a muscle twitched on your face, before you turned away. "You were heard."
You've hobbled three entire steps, before Mercer spoke again, clearly feeling the need to have the last word:
"Jarad lacked in humility, so the world humbled him. There's a lesson there - for all of us."
You did not give him the satisfaction of even slowing down. Your thoughts were far away from this petty brute regardless - your mind was already on the grimoire, and what were you to do when you had your hands on it. What conclusions were you to make, if the ritual there was flawless - what to do, if a mistake was made there - and how would you tell it from the fruit of an evil intent. "When", you thought to yourself, as if your thoughts could echo. When. When. When were you to do it? Speaking hypothetically, if Mercer was involved, were you really to give him time to destroy all traces of it? Then again, if so, he probably had plenty of time to do it already. But then - another problem. Were you to allow him to dictate his terms to you?

>[Twilight] Of course not. We're picking the lock.
>...with the hammer of my felguard.
>Nothing can be gained out of acting rashly. I'll tend to another part of this investigation.

When the decision was made, your mind returned to the theory you've built - perhaps, less than a theory, a suspicion born in your gut. You've just spoken to Mercer, at great length. You've looked at the site, considered the events and inspected what little evidence you could find. What now, detective?

>My gut feeling was right. He's involved.
>I'm far less certain now. It's someone else.
>>
>>5035299
Question QM, is there some way for us to mix our teleportation circles and eye of killrog to be able to teleport a eye of killrog into his chambers if we were to briefly have access to his room? Or can an Eye of Killrog simply bypass walls and doors altogether on its own?

I ask because I'm wondering if it would be possible to set things up so that we could have a "camera" into his room, to catch him in the act of doing something suspicious.

I'm also just considering if that is a viable alternative to breaking into his room and looking through the grimiore. I'm just a bit concerned about the time, if we break in and just stand in there reading it, that could take time and he could come back, which would be trouble. So would taking it and then reading it elsewhere, with the rather obvious complication of us having obviously stolen it.

Though if such a thing isn't possible I'll vote to stay the course.

>[Twilight] Of course not. We're picking the lock.

>I'm far less certain now. It's someone else.

I was never certain it was Mercer at all, I just thought of the possible culprits that we actually know anything about he'd be the most likely one.
>>
>>5035334
I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. The teleportation circle is incredibly unsubtle, and the Eye of Kilrogg can't pass through solid matter or through anything smaller than its dimensions. Otherwise it would be a perfect spying tool.
>>
>>5035299
>Nothing can be gained out of acting rashly. I'll tend to another part of this investigation.
>I'm far less certain now. It's someone else.
>>
>>5035299
>[Twilight] Of course not. We're picking the lock.
>I'm far less certain now. It's someone else.

Lord, hopefully we don't embarrass ourselves after acting all cool, though it would certainly be in character.
>>
>>5035299
>Twilight] Of course not. We're picking the lock.
If we’re going to do this then at least use a fate point
>>
>>5035813
On picking a lock? Not even deciphering the grimiore or saving it for an accusation, or sneaking away unseen from our theft of his room, but just the lock? If we wanted to use a fate point we probably to obtain the grimiore we probably should've used it earlier to browbeat Mercer into handing it over.
>>
Rolled 5, 5, 2, 3 = 15 (4d6)

Picking a lock is not as difficult as many imagine it to be, but still requires some proficiency. Not to mention, doing so without getting caught...

(Twilight +1)
>>
Fiction, in your experience, has greatly overstated the skill needed for some good, old-fashioned skulduggery. In your even more youthful years, you've read countless terrible novels where the hero was taught the "ways of the shadow" by some secretive master, who often went by a name like "Darkheart" and "Stygian Blade". No matter how much you've read - and you've read far more than you'd ever admit, you never really managed to understand why one needed to learn the ways of the shadow to know how to stick a man with a knife, how to wear padded shoes or - just for example - how to stick a lockpick into a keyhole and wiggle it a little. Now being a warlock - that was a truly challenging path...
So, while there were some defenses against which you wouldn't be able to tear through in your sleep, you've really doubted Mercer relied on any of those famous dwarven locks. The real difficulty would be getting past through whatever guards he may have standing by the door, or whatever witnesses that may happen to be there. Granted, you did not have a lockpick - but it was dubious that you couldn't fashion one, or acquire one in the town of rogues. Even someone like Brooks should...

Suddenly, all thoughts froze inside your head, as your eye caught a single, unsettlingly familiar sight - standing somewhere in the twilight, there was a death knight, with the two pits of nothingness in his helmet directed right at you. Immediately, before your mind could even fully comprehend what it saw, you've staggered back and raised your hand, igniting a spark of felflame between your fingers...
...and then your tension disappeared into nothing, and you've let out a relieved hum. It was no enemy you've seen standing in someone's house, waiting in
some sort of ridiculous, contrived ambush - that such a thought even occurred to you was a sign that your mental faculties still did not recover fully. The reason why this sight was so familiar was very simple - it was a suit of the trophy armor, arranged on a rack and stood in the corner of an unlit room.

It took you a second to recover from your fright fully, and lower your guard - and only then, several things occurred to you. Firstly, if this was a suit of trophy armor, logically it must have meant you're standing by Mercer's own house - as by the brief look at things, it certainly was no armory. And secondly...
You've seen it through the window. Which was open wide.
You've slowly turned your head and looked back. It was early, hardly the proper time for breaking and entering - but you were here in the first place for the reason of being unwilling to wait until nightfall. Luckily, no one seemed to be around to see you crawl inside - for the time being...

>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.
>This is probably my only chance to get inside without witnesses. Fortune favors the bold.
>>
>>5037208
>>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.
This was a bad idea but it's too late to back out now
>>
>>5037208
>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.
>>
>>5037208
>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.
>>
>>5037208
>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.
>>
>>5037208
>>[Prudence] First, inspect the interior closely, look for booby traps or anything of that matter.





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