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For eternity- between the many wars and earth-shaking rise and fall of would-be Zephyr kings, in and amongst the innumerable ages and time periods- there has always been the fundamental Breath. Created along with the rest of known existence, in the time before the death of the Nine Divines and the beginning of known time, the Breath has always been a great source of power for thinking peoples. It is a cornerstone of the universe- practitioners of the Breath have served every role in the storied history of Avara: conquerors, scholars, and philosophers alike.

Utilized properly, the Breath can enable one to exhale fire, channel lightning into their bones, wield an earthen fist, twist the land underneath one's feet, or even fly though the very air- and yet, it is not the only path to power. Those untalented with the animating respiration have found their own paths to strength: indeed, in the modern era, the power of Breath is challenged by arcane magic, Necrotheurges, and even the ever-advancing march of technology.


You are young, still, but reaching adulthood in the small, mountainous human nation of Keronna, a traditionalist monarchy ruled by a powerful Zephyr king- Keronn the Seventh. He is (as you have been brought up to believe) an infallible god-king; chosen by the Breath and talented beyond belief in its ways. The three separate ongoing wars plaguing the Zephyrdom of Keronna have laid its populace rather low, but you are something special and worth noting as you come of age:


d20 system, Bo3 rolls. Character statistics are simply explained here, human average being a 4, human un-augmented peak being an 8. Breath is always a zero unless one is trained or discovers the specific paths to its manipulation, with a 1 representing basic first-time gnosis.

-Endurance-: Measure of hardiness. Characters may have separate stats for [PHYS/MENT] if their toughness is substantially different.
-Power-: Measure of force. Characters may have separate stats for [PHYS/BRTH/ARC] if they have multiple Power-based skills.
-Cunning-: Measure of guile and agility- separated into [PHYS/SOC].
-Smarts-: Measure of intellect. Not separated under normal circumstances.
-Breath-: Measure of Breath manipulation and knowledge rather than pure strength (see Power). May have subskill ratings.

(TALENT): A (TALENT) is a special skill, normally acquired at birth or through great training and tribulation. It a mark of power to have mastered a great multitude of them, and they usually provide bonuses to rolls or extra dice. Could represent a powerful technique, signature spell, or other unique ability.
>>
>An inheritor of one of the lesser ancient Breath practicing families, you've learned the basics of Breath and have kept yourself in good physical shape as is necessary for employing the Breath in combat. Your conventional education is average at best and any more esoteric studies have gone by the wayside, though if you join the Keronnan legions, you may receive an officer's training. Maybe you too can join the ranks of the Zephyr-king's heroic Gale Knights, if you wield your father's sword and plate well. (High END [PHYS/MENT] and PWR [PHYS/BRTH], above-average BRTH. Average SMRT, low CNNG. Combat TALENT.)

>Aspiring alchemist that you are, you've devised a Breath-combinatory method of magical alchemy. It's not completely unheard of, but your intellect and skill has carried you to adulthood through peddling elixirs and potions, though your physical state has suffered from neglect after many long nights and self testing of prototypes. You own a small shop- by no means wealthy, but doing alright. (High SMRT, above-average POWER [ARC], above-average BRTH. Average CNNG, Low END [PHYS] and PWR [PHYS]. Utility TALENT.)

>A street bum, a malcontent and vagrant orphan. Your experience with Breath stems from a revelation that came to you after being thrown into a river by a patrolling footman and barely surviving, pulling yourself up onto the banks and gasping in the very vital force of Breath itself. Certainly, you have a lot of talent.. but not much else- and being just another one of the street dregs, you're destined for a conscription office sooner rather than later. (High BRTH, above average CNNG [PHYS], average SMRT, low END and PWR. ??? TALENT.)
>>
>>5256348
>An inheritor of one of the lesser ancient Breath practicing families, you've learned the basics of Breath and have kept yourself in good physical shape as is necessary for employing the Breath in combat. Your conventional education is average at best and any more esoteric studies have gone by the wayside, though if you join the Keronnan legions, you may receive an officer's training. Maybe you too can join the ranks of the Zephyr-king's heroic Gale Knights, if you wield your father's sword and plate well. (High END [PHYS/MENT] and PWR [PHYS/BRTH], above-average BRTH. Average SMRT, low CNNG. Combat TALENT.)
>>
>>5256350
>An inheritor of one of the lesser ancient Breath practicing families, you've learned the basics of Breath and have kept yourself in good physical shape as is necessary for employing the Breath in combat. Your conventional education is average at best and any more esoteric studies have gone by the wayside, though if you join the Keronnan legions, you may receive an officer's training. Maybe you too can join the ranks of the Zephyr-king's heroic Gale Knights, if you wield your father's sword and plate well. (High END [PHYS/MENT] and PWR [PHYS/BRTH], above-average BRTH. Average SMRT, low CNNG. Combat TALENT.)

Fuck the mystery box. I hate surprises.
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>>5256350
>>Aspiring alchemist that you are, you've devised a Breath-combinatory method of magical alchemy. It's not completely unheard of, but your intellect and skill has carried you to adulthood through peddling elixirs and potions, though your physical state has suffered from neglect after many long nights and self testing of prototypes. You own a small shop- by no means wealthy, but doing alright. (High SMRT, above-average POWER [ARC], above-average BRTH. Average CNNG, Low END [PHYS] and PWR [PHYS]. Utility TALENT.)
>>
>>5256350
>>An inheritor of one of the lesser ancient Breath practicing families, you've learned the basics of Breath and have kept yourself in good physical shape as is necessary for employing the Breath in combat. Your conventional education is average at best and any more esoteric studies have gone by the wayside, though if you join the Keronnan legions, you may receive an officer's training. Maybe you too can join the ranks of the Zephyr-king's heroic Gale Knights, if you wield your father's sword and plate well. (High END [PHYS/MENT] and PWR [PHYS/BRTH], above-average BRTH. Average SMRT, low CNNG. Combat TALENT.)

Is this drowned quest but reversed
>>
Leaving this vote open for another hour, as it's a bit important.

>>5256421
I'm not super familiar with Drowned Quest, but I don't think this quest is a rip of much of anything. At least not knowingly.
>>
>>5256481
NGL I thought you were the QM who runs drowned quest. It's just similar aesthetics and the OP picture uses the same colors as their OP pic.
>>
>>5256350
>>Aspiring alchemist that you are, you've devised a Breath-combinatory method of magical alchemy. It's not completely unheard of, but your intellect and skill has carried you to adulthood through peddling elixirs and potions, though your physical state has suffered from neglect after many long nights and self testing of prototypes. You own a small shop- by no means wealthy, but doing alright. (High SMRT, above-average POWER [ARC], above-average BRTH. Average CNNG, Low END [PHYS] and PWR [PHYS]. Utility TALENT.)
>>
>>5256350
>A street bum, a malcontent and vagrant orphan. Your experience with Breath stems from a revelation that came to you after being thrown into a river by a patrolling footman and barely surviving, pulling yourself up onto the banks and gasping in the very vital force of Breath itself. Certainly, you have a lot of talent.. but not much else- and being just another one of the street dregs, you're destined for a conscription office sooner rather than later. (High BRTH, above average CNNG [PHYS], average SMRT, low END and PWR. ??? TALENT.)
>>
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>>5256359
>>5256366
>>5256369
>>5256421
>>5256487
>>5256517


The night lights of the Keronnan capital, Turekh, shine down upon you, Jovann Aurech. You are the scion and second son- though still your father's heir, your older brother long since lost to the battlefield- of the Aurech family. Each day of your childhood after you could walk was spent swinging a wooden waster in strict, foundational drills. Generations of strong upbringing and warrior skill truly shone through in your easy manipulation of the weapon on those first days.

Once you were old enough, after your muscles had grown strong and your mind was ready, your mother began to teach you the secrets of Inhalation and Exhalation. This you were not as immediately skilled at as with the blade, but all the same, you learned your family's ancient arts..


>You learned a greater way to channel Breath into weapon play, building upon your strengths as your family always had. Your Breath is crimson and tinged with iron, almost like blood. (TALENT: One Blade, One Breath. When you fail a combat roll by one while fighting with a melee weapon, you instead succeed. You can also expend this to gain a flat bonus to a combat roll, but this will exhaust the Talent until you have time to rest and regain your strength- usually a good night's sleep.)


>You learned the esoteric art of Bladebreath, channeling your Breath into arcs of powerful, silvery cutting energy. Your Breath is airy, light, and refreshing. (TALENT: Bladebreath. You can utilize your PWR[BRTH] attribute to make attacks at range, so long as you're in fighting shape and not mortally wounded or crippled. You can expend the Talent to unleash a great slicing arc in combat, exhausting the ability to use Bladebreath but making an attack against many surrounding enemies and gaining a bonus to damage.)


>You learned Earthbinder Stepping, the art of cementing one's feet into the earth at any given moment to lend resilience, leverage, and strength behind blows. Your Breath is heavy, filling your lungs with the scent of moss and dirt. (TALENT: Earthbinder Stepping. By activating the Talent, you gain a bonus against any attempt to move you against your will, your END[PHYS] goes up by two, and attacks you make deal a substantial amount of extra damage, but you cannot move. You can expend the Talent to instead be able to move at a modest, jogging pace for five minutes time while still gaining its benefits.)


Your mother taught you the basics of Breath manipulation along with this unique skill through a regime of hard work almost as brutal as your blade tuition, and you learned to cope. Blending the two together was the hardest part of it all- and that was after regular schooling, lessons on etiquette and tending to the family's affairs when you were old enough to be trusted with minor work.
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>>5256654
Alas, those were younger days, before the wars. Five years ago, when you were only fourteen years of age, your brother went off to fight in the war in the North against the foul Necrotheurgic scourge, and never returned. This left you as the sole heir, and your lessons only become more vigorous.


Tonight, however, you are emancipated. Once the moons pass below the horizon, you are a legal adult, free from your father's strict tutelage and your mother's gentle reprimands. As you sit on your family's veranda alone this late night, staring at the luminescent sky, you realize you are at a serious crossroads in your life unlike any other before. There is not one, but three separate foreign threats encroaching upon your fatherland's borders, and no one would shame you for going to serve in the Legion like your father and brother before you.

Of course, you could also strike out on your own to the hinterlands of Keronna. It is not unheard of for men such as yourself to seek glory in adventure, though less so in these times when all non-noble able bodied men over a certain age have some measure of service forced upon them for the aid of the Zephyrdom.

And finally, you could always look to submit yourself to another, older and more powerful family's will in order to scrape up what you can of a more powerful Breath secret.. though that is often a long road, and not one your father subjected him to when he won your family's titles in war.

>Seek out the Zephyr-King's court in Turekh to pursue an officership.

>Strike out on your own to the west, into the mountains of Keronna and towards the smaller villages that dot the hardy countryside. Surely, someone will have need of your skills.

>Find a great family with a Master of Breath to study under, someone who might teach you the glimmerings of a greater secret of Inhalation and Exhalation.

>Write in?
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>>5256654
>You learned Earthbinder Stepping, the art of cementing one's feet into the earth at any given moment to lend resilience, leverage, and strength behind blows. Your Breath is heavy, filling your lungs with the scent of moss and dirt. (TALENT: Earthbinder Stepping. By activating the Talent, you gain a bonus against any attempt to move you against your will, your END[PHYS] goes up by two, and attacks you make deal a substantial amount of extra damage, but you cannot move. You can expend the Talent to instead be able to move at a modest, jogging pace for five minutes time while still gaining its benefits.)
>>
>>5256656
>>Find a great family with a Master of Breath to study under, someone who might teach you the glimmerings of a greater secret of Inhalation and Exhalation.
>>
>>5256654
>You learned the esoteric art of Bladebreath, channeling your Breath into arcs of powerful, silvery cutting energy. Your Breath is airy, light, and refreshing. (TALENT: Bladebreath. You can utilize your PWR[BRTH] attribute to make attacks at range, so long as you're in fighting shape and not mortally wounded or crippled. You can expend the Talent to unleash a great slicing arc in combat, exhausting the ability to use Bladebreath but making an attack against many surrounding enemies and gaining a bonus to damage.)

>Seek out the Zephyr-King's court in Turekh to pursue an officership.
>>
>>5256654
>You learned the esoteric art of Bladebreath, channeling your Breath into arcs of powerful, silvery cutting energy. Your Breath is airy, light, and refreshing. (TALENT: Bladebreath. You can utilize your PWR[BRTH] attribute to make attacks at range, so long as you're in fighting shape and not mortally wounded or crippled. You can expend the Talent to unleash a great slicing arc in combat, exhausting the ability to use Bladebreath but making an attack against many surrounding enemies and gaining a bonus to damage.)
>Seek out the Zephyr-King's court in Turekh to pursue an officership.
>>
>>5256656
>You learned the esoteric art of Bladebreath, channeling your Breath into arcs of powerful, silvery cutting energy. Your Breath is airy, light, and refreshing. (TALENT: Bladebreath. You can utilize your PWR[BRTH] attribute to make attacks at range, so long as you're in fighting shape and not mortally wounded or crippled. You can expend the Talent to unleash a great slicing arc in combat, exhausting the ability to use Bladebreath but making an attack against many surrounding enemies and gaining a bonus to damage.)
>Seek out the Zephyr-King's court in Turekh to pursue an officership.
>>
>>5256654
>You learned a greater way to channel Breath into weapon play, building upon your strengths as your family always had. Your Breath is crimson and tinged with iron, almost like blood. (TALENT: One Blade, One Breath. When you fail a combat roll by one while fighting with a melee weapon, you instead succeed. You can also expend this to gain a flat bonus to a combat roll, but this will exhaust the Talent until you have time to rest and regain your strength- usually a good night's sleep.)

>>5256656
>Find a great family with a Master of Breath to study under, someone who might teach you the glimmerings of a greater secret of Inhalation and Exhalation.
>>
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>>5256661
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>>5256867

>Bladebreath, Pursue officership

With the twin moons watching and after some consideration, you resolve yourself to head to the Great Palace's courtyard tomorrow. First thing after breakfast. Sleep comes soon after, you spending what will likely be your last night in your family's ancestral home until you return with glory- or in an ashwood coffin, an officer's classical final resting place.


The morning passes quickly- you sit down for breakfast with your father, mother, and sister at the family's modest dining hall. Service is slower than in your younger days, owing to the trimmed down waiting staff- only two of the original twelve remain. Father, the lean brown-haired predator that he is, only eyes you with an inscrutable expression when you announce your plan to proceed to the King's legions, meeting your ultimate declaration of destiny with a grunt.

"Don't get yourself killed, Jovann. We don't have another son to spare."

Mother, on the other hand, is incensed in her own way. Her voice has never risen above a gentle admonishment in your life, but they pour out now, her wispy voice telling you about how bloody those wars are and how few true Keronnan sons return from them. In the end, she seems to begrudgingly accept that your decision is made.


Vivian, your younger sister, has her own way of reacting that surprises you. Throughout the theatrics of breakfast she refrains from all but the barest niceities of polite society, and when the meal ends she runs up to you and, in a most unusual display, gives you a tearful hug.

"Jovann, must you go?!"

She presses a small token into your hand and runs up the stairs bawling, leaving you alone with the small metal piece. It is an engraving of a purple lily on silver- where did she get the money for this?

Gained Vivian's Token.


At last, it is time. You gather up your things: a small well-made pack, some rope, a sleeping roll, firestarter and messkit with rations, and your father's beautiful plate, round shield, and longsword. With a pouch full of a few dozen gustsilvers and a pair of stormgeld at your waist, you say your goodbyes to family and set off down the road.
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>>5257193
It is not a long journey to the Zephyrking's palace, and the streets are relatively empty so early in the morning. Your short walk only serves to reinforce your decision as you spot at least a dozen crippled men working in a nearby clerical office, their youth stripped from them so cruelly by the jaws of Keronna's foes. They need a leader like yourself- someone who can pull them through the fire of battle safely.


Arriving at the Great Palace's outer gates, you are met with a short line of merchants and a few others you suspect to be like yourself- petitioners for officership- all waiting for the palace guard to admit entrants.

You see three other candidates, and though the process for noble officership is kept a closely-guarded secret amongst the people of Keronna, your father has given you the foreknowledge that making relationships with other candidates can be both a blessing and a curse. Perhaps now is a good time to do so?


>Approach the blonde-haired woman, dressed in an arcanist's robes and armed with a long, crystalline staff

>Go to the older, scarred man, arrayed in what looks to be an enlisted man's mail, armed with a mace and wooden shield

>Visit with the red-haired boy, likely having just hit adulthood as well, clad in a set of intricate leather and wielding a great axe

>Keep to yourself for now


If you have any questions about your inventory, from this point onwards, any poster can request an inventory check by adding >Inventory Check to a vote or pre-vote post- unless it doesn't make sense for you to have access to it. It'll also be posted when there are any major changes.
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>>5257195
>Visit with the red-haired boy, likely having just hit adulthood as well, clad in a set of intricate leather and wielding a great axe

They seem like a person of good birth. We should make friends with other nobles like us.
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>>5257195
>Visit with the red-haired boy, likely having just hit adulthood as well, clad in a set of intricate leather and wielding a great axe
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>>5257195
>>Visit with the red-haired boy, likely having just hit adulthood as well, clad in a set of intricate leather and wielding a great axe
>>
>>5257195
>Go to the older, scarred man, arrayed in what looks to be an enlisted man's mail, armed with a mace and wooden shield
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>The red-haired boy

The morning air thick and dewy in your nose, you walk up the road to the small crowd. Everyone is milling about, talking in quiet, reverent tones, and you come to the young, fiery-haired man's side just as he finishes a conversation with a pale faced merchantman.

He turns, and you get a better look at him. As you expected, this individual is near your own age, his features dotted with well-groomed peach fuzz and only a single long scar across his cheek.

"Oh, another candidate, eh?" He extends a gloved hand. "Orland Koterine."


You are vaguely familiar with the family- Orland has doubtlessly traveled a long way. From what you know, the Koterines stake their claim in the deep south of Keronna, along the borders of the great Southern desert and the conflict line with the horde-like One Tribe. It's not an easy place to eke out a living, much less a productive fief, and despite his family's relatively low standing Orland's pride shows through clearly.

Meeting his hand halfway, you clasp it. "Jovann Aurech. A pleasure to meet you- as a peer and fellow lord both."


Over the next ten minutes that pass, Orland exchanges information with you; he describes his fighting experience with the lithe, insectoid southern fighters of the Tribe and the way his family has taught him to employ his Breath: a dancing dervish-storm of speed enhanced strikes.

You in turn share with him the surface details of your own Bladebreathing style (much to his excitement), and your own singular experience of joining a border expedition to the East where the battlefield with the technologist Gorvan Republic lays.

Eventually, your conversation ceases as the towering outer gates open and a silver-plated officiant exits to direct everyone- no human being, but a Breath-powered golem, pointing the merchants and petitioners to where they need to go. The unmoving face of the golem soon turns to the four of you that remain and speaks in its distinct monotone.


"If you wish to submit yourself for the Zephyrking's commissioning, follow this construct. Be forewarned: this process can prove harmful to life and limb, and no redress for injuries will be offered from the Palace to any who survive failure."

Without hesitation, you march along behind the golem as it spins on a heel and moves deeper into the palace. All of your three fellow candidates follow behind you, and you enter the Grand Palace for the first time.
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>>5257279
The Grand Palace is a wonder of Keronnan architecture. Each window is faceted, Breath-shaped glass; each paving-stone smooth and flattened. Even the grasses and bushes are trimmed and cut with the telltale signs of Breath, the lingering faint green Exhalation apparent to your trained eyes.

There is not long to gaze at these beautiful sights, sadly. The silvery golem steps quickly to a large side door under an inconspicuous natural stone overhang, and with a series of rapid gestures and pre-programmed channelings of Breath unlocks some sort of mechanism.


"This is your final chance to turn back, candidates. After you enter this door your candidacy will have officially begun, and withdrawal conditions become considerably more difficult. Do any of you wish to remove yourselves from the candidateship at this time?"


No one steps away and as the moment passes, the machine pushes the doors open to reveal a small, well-lit blackstone chamber. There are four great steel doors across the way, and four large chests, each somehow labeled with a name- yours is the third door in sequence, JOVANN AURECH engraved in your native Kre tongue.

The golem closes the large door behind the four of you, and the woman mage turns to face it. "So, what's the process here? What are we doing?"


"This process is known as the Acumination- the technique of sharpening or giving something a point. In those chests, you are to place all of your belongings, save for a single weapon of your choice. Weapons will be provided for those of you who did not come bearing a suitable one. Once you are prepared, you will depart through your door. A multitude of challenges will await beyond, some of which may bring you into conflict with other candidates."


Motioning to the doors beyond, the golem continues.

"Everything beyond these doors may be regarded as an enemy of Keronn the Seventh and his bloodline and is subject to the laws of war, though cooperation is not forbidden. If you emerge from the Acumination, you will have proven yourself to be worthy of an officer's commissioning. Better performance is worth a better placement."


The golem, seemingly having finished its speech, falls silent. The room is quiet save for the flickering of the torches until the veteran man speaks up.

"And the process for withdrawal?"

"Each room has a way to withdraw from the Acumination."


And with that, the other three candidates separate, heading to their own chests. You do as well, taking your time to doff your armor correctly, and, having finished, see that the woman and the veteran have already departed.

Orland, though finished, waits for you.

"So. If I see you down there, are we friend or foe?"


>Friend

>Foe

>Circumstances will dictate my answer
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>>5257281
>Friend
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>>5257281
>Friend
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>>5257281
>Friend
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>>5257281
>Friend
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>Friend

Looking down at the slightly shorter man, you nod genially. "We will meet as friends, Orland Koterine. Just be sure you make it that far."

With a hearty laugh, the young man turns, hoisting his heavy axe over his shoulder. "You do the same, Jovann. Good luck." With that, he's gone, leaving you alone with the third steel door. Time to get ready properly.


Mother's voice comes through clear in your mind as you harden your resolve, a memory of her first lesson as clear in your head as the sun in the sky.

"When you breathe you are merely sustaining yourself. When you Breathe, you are enhancing yourself, drawing creation into yourself. When you need to use this strength your mind must be clear, focused and full of intent. The first technique of the Breath, then, is mundane: just relax, Jovann."

And so you do, the airy silver threads flowing into your lungs until you are full with the Breath, and you open the door to descend down a set of the blackstone steps. It is only a dozen stairs before you reach the end of the passage, entering into a large tiled room.


Immediately, your nose is beset with a thick, musky smell- and as your boots hit the bottom of the floor, you spot something. Two large, muscled, brown-skinned humanoid creatures stand across from you. They stand menacingly, one armed with an axe and shield, the other with a club strapped across its back- but they are frozen, bereft of even their chests rising in the base action of breathing. Perhaps there is some challenge you must issue, or this early trial will grant you the benefit of striking first?


Placed squarely behind the two humanoids is a tall steel door, not unlike the one you entered through, and a twin rests to the East; that door is emblazoned with some multi-pointed symbol you do not recognize. There's also a pile of what looks to be storage containers over in the western corner, though what they contain cannot be discerned from such distance.

>Engage the two creatures with a wide Bladebreath slash

>Charge the one with the still unslung weapon [#1], hoping to take a foe out before the fight even begins

>Sneak around the edge of the room to rummage through the boxes and bags

>Try to go around the creatures and get to one of the doors [which?]
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>>5257437
>Charge the one with the still unslung weapon [#1], hoping to take a foe out before the fight even begins

When we use the Bladebreath slash is it exhausted for just that combat, or until we take a rest?
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>>5257442
Each use of a Breath technique takes up a percentage of your Breath that you've drawn in- refilling your lungs with Breath takes an action in combat. One single blade slash won't exhaust your Breath, but if you use the Slicing Arc ability, it will exhaust your Bladebreathing Talent, leaving you unable to use Bladebreath at all until you've gotten a good night's rest- that's really for targeting dozens of opponents rather than a pair, though.
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>>5257449
>Engage the two creatures with a wide Bladebreath slash

Ok I'll change my vote to this then.
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>>5257437
>Engage the two creatures with a wide Bladebreath slash
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>>5257452
>>5257458
>Engage both creatures with a Bladebreath Slash

Rolling PWR(BRTH) vs no enemy action!

Please roll 3d20 + 5, bo3.
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>>5257749
Sorry, just one d20 + 5 per poster, best of three- will be 3d20 total.
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Rolled 15 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>5257754
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Rolled 7 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>5257754
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Rolled 1 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>5257749
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>>5257829
When the first roll of the game is a crit fail
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>>5257839
>That's just how it goes in Stinky Breath Quest
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>>5257757
>>5257767
>>5257829

20 vs No Contest!

Writing now.

>>5257839
Luckily, uncontested rolls are unaffected by criticals one way or the other- for example, there's really no way to absolutely fuck up or greatly succeed at chopping wood when you are focused and competent.
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>>5258284
The chamber rings with the sound of empowered Exhalation as a great swinging cleave of your longsword splits the air.

Breath at 85%.

>20, 12, 6
You watch keenly as the silver-tinged crescent quickly crosses the distance, impacting solidly on the monstrous opponents and cutting a deep, black-bleeding laceration on both of their chests.

??? #1: Wounded
??? #2: Wounded


Unfortunately, the pair shudder into action after your strike lands. The unfamiliar beasts roar incoherently- not in any language you know- and charge towards you, even wounded as they are!


In but a moment they are on you, pressuring your defense and swinging wildly. Trained warrior's instinct tells you that their vicious strikes are not directed by any natural precision. Were that greatclub or axe to land, though, it would be at the least painful.


Moving in your defensive stance, you handle them well but don't manage to get the upper hand- the one on the right's powerful club swings are just enough to keep you on the back foot, and you can't pressure the one with the shield while the clubman is going after you so aggressively. You'll have to make another move to change the pace; if you keep backing up, you will surely hit the bottom of the stairway.


>Stop ceding ground and simply fight more offensively, trusting your body to weather their blows

>Focus heavily on defense and wait for a counter-attack opportunity

>Jump back, potentially exposing yourself but allowing for another great slash of Bladebreath to target both foes

>Write in?

There are five states of health: Healthy, Scratched, Wounded, Crippled, and Incapacitated. Unaugmented human beings function normally at Healthy and Scratched, suffer a -2 penalty to all d20 rolls at Wounded, a -5 at Crippled, and are unconscious at Incapacitated.
>>
>>5258310
>Jump back, potentially exposing yourself but allowing for another great slash of Bladebreath to target both foes

Might as well try to take them both out at once and hope we don't get hit. It's not like they have any skill to take advantage of the opportunity. We can refill our lungs when they're both dead too.
>>
>>5258310
>Maneuver into a position where the clubman obstructs the shieldbearer and go for the kill
It's pretty simple, if one is blocking the other we can divide and conquer.
>>
>>5258310
>Maneuver into a position where the clubman obstructs the shieldbearer and go for the kill
>>
>>5258313
>>5258328
>>5258330

>Maneuver into a position where the clubman obstructs the shieldbearer and go for the kill

Write-in wins.

Rolling PWR(PHYS) vs PWR(PHYS) with tactical advantage!

Please roll d20 + 2, bo3.
>>
Rolled 10 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5258382
>>
Rolled 20 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5258382
>>
>>5258382
Rolling for the monstrous club-wielder.
>>
Rolled 11 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5258382
>>
>>5258388
>>
Rolled 5 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5258391
JFC, I have mega-autism.

>>5258385
>>5258386
>>5258389
CRIT! Writing now, nice.
>>
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>>5258385
>>5258386
>>5258389
>>5258394
>Move so that the clubman blocks the shield and axe wielder and go for the kill

In your mind you formulate a quick solution to the problem- naturally, if you move offline of the axeman, you can take advantage of the club-wielding brute and drastically reduce the number of foes in the equation. A series of short, quick steps move you out of the way of another overhand swing and to the side of the creature, where you take advantage of the opening and give a strong overhand slash of your own.

>CRIT, 12, 13 vs 7

The attack lands with a wet thunk, scything through the creature's flesh and nearly bisecting it in conjunction with its previous injury. The thing collapses and as you watch, it dissolves into a puddle of black-brown sludge in a heartbeat.

Undeterred by the fate of its comrade, the axe-wielding monster moves up- but alone it proves no match for the martial skill you have acquired over the years. Immediately put under a rapid assault of thrusts, strikes and slashes, the beast falters and falls; numerous wounds across its body fade with rapidity into that selfsame brownish goop. Breathing in and out, you recover your supernatural prowess and your normal wind. If this is how the whole Acumination is, you'll pass easily.. but you have yet to see how the difficulty might escalate.


A grinding noise emanates from the door on the opposite side of the chamber, jerking you out of your thought and putting you back on guard- the wide steel portal opening before you to reveal a much larger room in front. The door with the strange symbol, however, remains closed to you. On the floor not far in front of you, red writing appears by some supernatural means.

A Legion commander must be able to handle themselves in the crucible of personal combat.

This is curious- you'd hazard that this commentary or instruction will follow you throughout the challenges. Maybe it can be a source of information to you.


In any case you have progress to make, and speed will doubtlessly improve your performance. A moment of rummaging in the corner's loot yields a few items of use- a pair of alchemical smokesticks that will generate a small cloud of greasy, grey smoke when cracked open and tossed, a small waist-bag to hold them in, and a spare steel dagger. Better than nothing.
>>
>>5258433
Ahead of you lies the open room where three large statues tower high to the dark ceiling. From this distance you can see only their major features- the first a great blackstone griffin, creature of legend and mount for the Zephyrking's Gale Knights. The second is a white pillar topped with a pair of normal horses, with some sort of writing ringing its structure.


The third is a historical figure, one you recognize even with the dim Breathformed lights in this place: Harvengen the Progenitor, the rumored founder of Breathing arts. Details on Harvengen were minimal in texts you've studied due to the ancientness of the subject matter, but the Progenitor was as near to a divine as any creature has been since the death of the Nine Divines so long ago- through his study of the Breath, he managed to condense that power into a dense liquid that enabled him to multiply his strength and comprehension a hundredfold.


You would have to approach the statues to get a better look, or you could attempt to decipher the strange symbol to the side.

>Enter the room with the statues

>Try to decipher door 2

>Write in?
>>
>>5258436
>Try to decipher door 2
>>
>>5258436
>Try to decipher door 2
>>
>>5258439
>>5258440
>Try to decipher door 2

Advancing across the stone chamber, you make your way up to the tall steel door. It towers above you in a similar manner to the one that opened after defeating the sludge-beasts, but this one remains shut. The grand bronze symbol mounted on the front is not one you know well- perhaps the closest comparison would be a simple magnetic compass, but the points are inconsistent and misaligned. You put your mental skill and training to the test as you notice some of the prongs look to be moveable..

Rolling SMRT vs puzzle difficulty!

Please roll 1d20-2, best of 3.

A roll that beats the DC will have Jovann solve the door, while with a failure I'll post a picture of the puzzle for anons to solve if they'd like to- though there is another path open.
>>
Rolled 19 - 2 (1d20 - 2)

>>5258629
>>
Rolled 8 - 2 (1d20 - 2)

>>5258629
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5258629
Cool concept QM, keep up the good work
>>
>>5258666
>>5258675
>>5258676

17 vs Puzzle DC: 15!

A success, writing now.
>>
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Rolled 3 + 4 (1d20 + 4)

>>5258762
This has never really been your greatest strength- your deduction and reasoning capabilities have always been passable, but not a hallmark of great acuity for you.

>17, 6, 19

It takes some time, but even with your middling talent, puzzling it together is by no means impossible. After a few minutes of fiddling, you discern that the malleable symbol is modeled off of a compass- but it also serves as a map for the immediate area! Each of the paths that you could take are there, and you're able to form a mental image in your mind of where each of the next rooms will lead, should this symbol prove accurate. By simply moving the arrows from their base configuration to where they "should be" if it was a compass pointing up, you get an idea of your future.

More writing appears as you conclude the puzzle and the door grinds open.


A keen commander is a living commander.


Beyond the door lies a long corridor- empty and quiet save for a slightly lighter shade of tile and a second door in the distance. Was this door itself the challenge of this room, or does something else unseen yet lurk? It is hard to tell, but you do know that behind that door should be another room.


Either way, you must choose- proceeding into the room with the statues, or the long, empty corridor.


Squares on the map denote rooms, arrows denote doors. The symbol surely does not give the layout of everything that remains in the trial- just a glimpse of the immediate paths.


>Proceed carefully down the corridor

>Enter into the room with statues to see what lies beyond

>Look for a way to withdraw- you've had enough

>Write in
>>
>>5258799
>Proceed carefully down the corridor
>>
>>5258799
>Proceed carefully down the corridor
>>
>>5258799
>Proceed carefully down the corridor
>>
>>5258805
>>5258874
>>5259302
>Proceed carefully down the corridor

Writing now! Today will be a slower day for updates, but should able to keep the regular pace every other day of the week moving forward.
>>
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>>5259846
The corridor's eerie emptiness gives you pause, but pushing forwards looks like the wisest move. Creeping with each step you quietly advance, wary for traps all the while, but as you reach the end of the long hallway none materialize. The door in front of you- a comparatively small, dark oaken affair- is even unlocked, revealing a curious sight indeed.


This chamber does not open out into that same tiled floor that has become the standard for this trial: instead, a long stretch of hardened dirt and sand covers the ground. A half-dozen ruined buildings are halfway submerged in the low dunes- weathered by time or a similar force- and in the distance a quarter of a mile away is a large chasm.

As you move out into the room, you note the high ceiling emitting a light and heat comparable to the hot midday sun; for the moment, this is a welcome reprieve from the dimly lit preceding corridors. You even swear there's a gentle breeze whipping the sand around your booted feet.


As you trudge further into the sand and closer to the chasm, you spot another interesting feature: a small, four sided obelisk. Upon further inspection, the ruins have nothing of note to offer you other than their still-sturdy stone as cover, should you be faced with magic, Breath, or a volley of arrows- but the obelisk is filled with sharply etched Kre writing.


A shortcut is never free. Choose your price or turn your back.


Engraved on each of the four sides is a depiction of something: on the northernmost side, a large rocky-looking golem, the south, a quadruplet of the same pair of creatures you clashed with in the first room, one armed with a longbow and the others with melee weaponry and armor; and on the east and west, a green diamond-like shape and a wide spiraling circle. Neither of the symbols bring any recognition to your mind, but they do look vaguely like runes- a technique some arcanists use to channel their non-Breath based magic into reality.

Below each of the sides of the obelisk is a small bowl, and laid gently at the base of the structure there is a tiny vase with water. It won't be enough to fill more than one bowl.


The chasm itself, apparently the goal of this room, is deep- deep enough that you can only just make out its sandy bottom. If it is a shortcut like the obelisk says, jumping down would extract a perilous price.

>To hell with this- face the statues in the other room

>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [which one?]

>Jump down the chasm: it'll hurt, but you can probably do it without killing yourself. That's only about a fifty foot drop. [Risk of injury.]

>Write in
>>
>>5260092
>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [South]

Our Breathblade is specialized for killing multiple enemies so let's go for the southern trial.
>>
>>5260092
>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [South]
>>
>>5260092
>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [South]
>>
>>5260092
>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [which one?]
East, green diamond-like shape
>>
>>5260097
>>5260114
>>5260116
>>5260467
>Fill one of the bowls with water and prepare yourself to face another trial [South]

Writing now; another trial facing Jovann down!
>>
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>>5260780

Centering yourself again, you take a second to Breathe in and draw the longsword out of your belt before using your off hand to decant the tiny vase full of water. It fills the bowl perfectly, not a bit left in the thing afterwards.

A ear-splitting grinding of stone accompanies the last droplet of water as you look around for any threat. Nothing in the distance, nothing by the ruins, and nothing in the sky- and then you peer over the edge of the chasm.


Deep below, the rock and sand floor is now host to a long stairway that is building itself out of nothing but the constituent dust it sits on, slowly creeping upwards to you. At the end of where you can see into the chasm, there is now a large cave entrance, and the sounds of clashing steel echoes outwards ever so faintly. Someone is fighting beyond- so of course, you pursue.


The staircase finishes its actualization and you rush down it, descending into a cooler, darker environment. It takes only a heartbeat for your brown eyes to acclimate to the area.

You move with speed, striding into the cave ahead without fear. Smells hit your nose before any other sense as you enter the torch-lit cavern: the scent of oiled steel and blood, and the stench of that foul black-brown sludge.


Inside, your chosen trial stands atop a hewn, raised platform- but not alone. There, in the midst of the four monsters you selected (as well as what looks like the rock-golem, towering a good four feet above your head) is the veteran soldier, swinging his mace with concerted effort.

Bereft of a shield, he has to focus on agility for defense, and it's serving him poorly. In the short time that the stairway took to materialize, the older man has been studded with a pair of arrows and what looks like a nasty bludgeoning wound to the shoulder. He is thoroughly engaged- it doesn't even seem that the trooper has noticed your entrance.


The raucous combat draws most of your attention, but you do also notice an open doorway at the end of the cave, past the platform and clearly leading deeper into the trial. Written in red at your feet is a message that you didn't see appear.

Sometimes it is best to have costs paid by others. Sometimes it is worthwhile to invest in a troublesome tool.
>Move past the fray, leaving your competitor to fight alone and pushing on

>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once

>Push all the Breath in your lungs out in a Cleaving Arc, doubtlessly evening things up [Expends your Bladebreathing TALENT.]

>Write in
>>
>>5260916
>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once

They may give us more points for completing the trails faster but I have no doubt they also give us points for helping the other contestants. This is a leadership exam.
>>
>>5260916
>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once
>>
>>5260916
>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once
>>
>>5260916
>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once
>>
Rolled 10, 12, 15, 3, 7 = 47 (5d20)

>>5260932
>>5260942
>>5260961
>>5261006

Rolling PWR[BRTH] vs enemy END[PHYS]!

Rolling END[PHYS] vs enemy PWR[PHYS]!

Please roll 1d20 + 1 and then 1d20 flat, bo3 for each. Total 6 rolls.
>>
Rolled 12, 10 = 22 (2d20)

>>5261015
No offence QM but wouldn't it be easier just to roll 2d20 and apply the +1 to the first roll?
>>
Rolled 1, 3 = 4 (2d20)

>>5261015
>>
Rolled 5, 7 + 1 = 13 (2d20 + 1)

>>5261015
>>
>>5261017
Yeah, that's perfectly fine; as long as 6d20 total get rolled it works for me.
>>
>>5261017
>>5261018
>>5261020
CRITFAIL vs enemy END, 10 vs enemy PWR, this one's gonna hurt. Writing!

>>5261017
As an aside, we'll roll like this for the rest of the quest. If a post asks for multiple rolls, each anon can roll each relevant roll.
>>
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>>5261042

>Jump in, using your Bladebreath to strike at as many enemies as you can hit at once

With no doubt in your mind you rush into the battle with a wide swing of your longsword and a bellowing warcry! The energy of your blade flies forwards in that ever-familiar crescent, and..


>CRITFAIL vs 10, 12


.. the silver slash glances off of the taut leather armor of these vicious beasts, both of them unharmed by your attack. You've been able to consistently penetrate leather armor with your Bladebreath for the last three years, so to see it deflected like that is disheartening. However, your attack has at least drawn some attention, and substantial attention at that: the lumbering stone golem turns towards you and takes a crashing swipe in your direction while two of the beast-soldiers sprint and lunge with weapons extended. Suddenly, you are engulfed in a battle for survival of your own; only a spare moment in the conflict allows you to catch a thankful glance from the veteran fighter whose load is lessened greatly.


Under the withering hail of blows, there is naught you can do but deflect, dance and do your best to block.

>10 vs 15, 3, 9

You're now Scratched.


You manage to miss out on most of the punishment, prioritizing the avoidance of the golem's slow and crushing blows- one impact from that thing could likely launch you halfway across the room. As your whirling, lethal dance continues and minor scratches pile up, you note a fortuitous strike from the sole ally in the room- the archer monster collapses into a splotch of color onto the floor as its head tumbles off of the stone.


"Young lord, hold their attention a bit longer! Your sword won't do much good against the rock creature, but once I'm free-" the soldier grunts with the effort of resisting a sidewards chopping blow from his foe, "-I'll strike it from behind!"


So long as your opponents don't get lucky you can probably hold out for a few more moments, but it is possible your fellow competitor has some cunning plan in mind. Perhaps he intends to allow you to be hit through his slowness, so that he can then take you down on his own- you will be taking on the lion's share of the risk in this plan.


>Go along with the plan and batten down the hatches

>Push your enemies with your blade- don't hold back the attack, even though you won't be able to defend well against them

>Get out of here, you've helped enough

>Write in
>>
>>5261255
Breath at 85%.
>>
>>5261255
>Go along with the plan and batten down the hatches
>>
>>5261255
>>Go along with the plan and batten down the hatches
>>
>>5261289
>>5261310
>Go along with the plan and batten down the hatches

Rolling END[PHYS] vs multiple enemy actions!

Please roll 1d20, bo3. This roll is contesting multiple different types of attacks, so I'll show the modifiers after the rolls go down.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>5261534
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5261534
>>
>>5261539
>>5261689
Anyone want this third roll? I'll hold for another 30 minutes or so.
>>
Rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13 (3d20)

>>5261930
Moving on then!

>>5261539
>>5261689
14 vs enemy PWR[PHYS], 11 vs enemy PWR[BRTH]. Rolling and writing now!
>>
>>5261255
"Aye, I will hold!" you shout back to the old soldier. Saying it and doing it, though, are two different things!

As the twin dog-faced fighters to your front swing their club and spiked blade your way, you bring your sword up with the flat up to resist the impacts. Your defense is impeccable at this level of opposition, and having now shaped up and learned their patterns, it is hard for the foes to even nick you.

>14 vs 3, 5


And of course, even in the best of times nothing is perfect. Tuned instincts scream out at you and with a dizzying turn you rotate to face the stone titan just in time to see it charging back a gargantuan blow, empowered with a green-gray nimbus of Breath power! There's not enough time to dodge out of the way, but you bend a bit, desperately trying to make it miss.


>11 vs 5


It is a close call, but the great fist of the blocky golem whizzes past you without striking you at all, the aura of energy humming as it dissipates into the air harmlessly. It's a difficult feat to detect the intricacies of Breath in lethal combat, but it isn't hard to tell that the force of that blow was terrifying.


You have held up your end of the bargain thus far, the defense feeling like it has gone on for ages (though, really, it has only been fifteen seconds at most). A palpable sense of relief overcomes you when a solid THWACK reverberates through the cavern, the grizzled veteran leaping into the air and cracking the towering golem's head-stone with his mace. It stumbles back- one, two and off of the stone, falling into a mere pile of rocks.

The remainder of your foes are mopped up with another spitting slash of blade energy and a slamming blow from the soldier. Having more time for observation now, you can tell that your newfound ally is not fast but does carry a prodigious strength that you're able to complement well by way of your personal talents. Troublesome tool, indeed, you think.


He huffs with exertion as the last one topples and turns to you, covered in wounds, extending a hand. "Erbol. You were quite a fortunate gale breezing through, there, my boy!"

Erbol sits down on the side of the standing stone, sucking in great gasps of air.

"So," he wheezes, "what is your name, my friend? I owe you a favor after that."


>Give him your name, and propose a more solidified alliance

>Decline to give him your name and part ways

>Write in- perhaps a more nuanced agreement
>>
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>>5262055
After concluding with Erbol, you walk up to the door, open as it is. Beyond the threshold, a light wind blows and carries refreshing organic air to your lungs- the next room is filled with tall greenery, trees and bushes dotting the area.

A wide, spacious shore surrounds a deep lake, and across the room you observe a pair of doors- one bears the emblem of crossed swords above it, the other a simple upwards arrow. No clear threat shows itself, but with the bushes so thick and grass so tall, anything could lay in wait.


>Move through the grass to the far wall, try one of the doors [which?]

>Examine some part of this room more thoroughly [what?]

>Leave and make your way back to the desert room on the first floor, or somewhere beyond that

>Take time to rest and recuperate here [Your Scratched status can be improved to Healthy by taking a full, uninterrupted rest. Since you do not need to sleep, this would take two hours.]
>>
>>5262055
>Give him your name, and propose a more solidified alliance
>>5262057
>Examine some part of this room more thoroughly [what?]
Look into the lake and see if there's anything of note inside.
>>
>>5262059
+1
>>
>>5262059
+1
>>
>>5262059
>>5262061
>>5262069
Alright, looks like this takes it. Writing.
>>
>>5262057
With Erbol in tow, you make your way through the verdant garden. A sense of peace fills your head as you finally enter a room free of puzzle or foe; you have only been in here for about thirty minutes, but already fatigue's insidious tendrils have started to take root.

The old veteran speaks up, moving along behind you surprisingly quietly considering his large frame. "What trials have you faced so far, Aurech? Mine started off awful rocky; a flame wraith in the first room and then two nasty saw traps. Nearly took me head off, 't be frank."


Evident on Erbol's stout frame are the remembrances of those encounters- small, blackened burn marks on his thick cloak, a pair of slight lacerations along his chin and left shoulder- but he bears it stoically.


"I happened upon a doublet of those dog-monsters to start with," you respond, stepping over a thicket on your way to the shore, "then moved on to a desert-like room with a vase of water and an obelisk to select some foe. It appears that the trial I chose from that room added to your combat, no?"


Erbol inclines his graying head. "Yes. The golem waited for me in that room, but not five seconds had past 'ere those four joined in. If you hadn't come up behind them, it woulda been my last breath."


You shrug amiably. "All is well that ends well, then. What make you of.. that?"


Pointing downwards, you mark a strange observation indeed. It takes a moment to see it through the depths of the water, but down perhaps thirty feet is a trapdoor at the bottom of the lake, engraved with an image of a vast maw full of teeth. Upon fully taking it in, a subconscious shudder runs through your body- whatever is down there must surely be dangerous.


"What I make of it is that I don't reckon I could swim down there in my state, young Lord Aurech. If you're proceeding that way you're proceeding alone, to my shame- I think it best to take the eagle's way to the sky, over yon."


Father spoke to you vanishingly rarely about the Acumination- more in general terms than anything else- but he did tell you in the past that the selection process was focused on overcoming a set amount of danger or adversity, rather than a given number of trials. Should you take the plunge, it might be enough to end this endeavor for you in success.


>Go for a swim and challenge whatever it is that lies in the door beneath the lake

>Stay with your companion and take the eagle door

>Try to convince Erbol to take on the sword door- more danger means a faster end to the trials

>Write in
>>
>>5262199
>Go for a swim and challenge whatever it is that lies in the door beneath the lake
Danger=Fast
>>
>>5262199
>Go for a swim and challenge whatever it is that lies in the door beneath the lake
Who dares wins.
>>
>>5262199
>Go for a swim and challenge whatever it is that lies in the door beneath the lake
>>
>>5262202
>>5262203
>>5262206
Pretty unanimous then!

Rolling SMRT against unknown effect..

Here goes nothing; roll 1d20-2. As usual, bo3.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5262253
Rolling for opposing effect.
>>
Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>5262253
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>5262254
>>
Rolled 11 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5262253
>>
>>5262255
>>5262262
>>5262823

9 vs opposing 18. Writing!
>>
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>>5263092
You consider the vast lake for a moment- more danger immediately means this will be over quicker; despite the ominous feeling, it makes most sense to face this problem now rather than tire yourself out with many lesser ones.

Rolling your shoulders back, you turn to the venerable enlisted man. "I must pursue this challenge by myself, then, Erbol. Good luck."


"Same to you, young lord- I hope to see ye' on the other side."

Erbol sits in the grass near the eagle's door, catching his breath and using a strip of his cloak to bind his wounded shoulder as he watches you prepare for your dive.


With your cloak stripped off- too heavy in the water- and your weapon in hand, you fill your lungs with Breath and air and wade in. Swimming is not a particular specialty of yours, but plenty of thorough training has ensured a modicum of familiarity, and you kick down through the crystal-clear water with relative ease.

That same foreboding feeling is only exacerbated as the water pressure wears on you and you've soon hit the bottom, adjacent to the maw-engraved door. Rotating your body, you pull the small handle and swim in.


>9 vs 18


The darkness is pervasive on the interior of this place- you can hardly see five feet in front of your face! You turn about to try and orient to the entrance, but someone or something has closed the trapdoor, leaving you here in the dark and utterly bereft of any sort of illumination. From the way the walls feel on your hands, this is a natural underwater cave.. but your mind is cautious and on edge. Something feels wrong.

Abruptly and seemingly out of nowhere, there is another red message floating in the water in front of you, dim but readable.


Boldness must be reinforced by prowess, or it is merely recklessness.
>>
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>>5263253
Out of the darkness comes a sizeable prehensile tentacle, edged with sharp barbs! It lashes out at you and with as dark as it is, you are unable to dodge or react to the ambush in any meaningful way. It cuts through your clothing and leaves a thin but deep slice down your abdomen. Damn, that stings.. and it's still in the water with you, its own natural habitat.

You are Wounded, and take a -2 to all dice rolls until you recover.

With the cuts piling up you are feeling the burn, but thankfully, you were lucky enough to retain your Breath and air after that strike. You rapidly run through your options, bracing yourself against the wall and keeping your sword up in the water while your mind races, eyes flicking from side to side as you watch for another attack.

Two turns until you run out of air.


>Use your knowledge of Breath to Exhale light into the water

>Attempt to surface in this cave and find some land to fight from

>Slash wildly with your Bladebreath into the darkness from whence the tentacle last came

>Find a way to withdraw from the challenge

>Write in
>>
>>5263255
>Use your knowledge of Breath to Exhale light into the water
>>
>>5263255
>Use your knowledge of Breath to Exhale light into the water
>>
>>5263255
>Use your knowledge of Breath to Exhale light into the water
>>
>>5263257
>>5263274
>>5263326

Alright, our first non-combat use of Breath takes it.

Rolling BRTH against basic technique difficulty.

Let's get 1d20+4, bo3.
>>
Rolled 14 + 4 (1d20 + 4)

>>5263448
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5263448
>>
Waiting for a little bit to see if anyone throws down that last roll and then we'll move on.
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>>5263457
>>5263484

If you can see, you can fight. Pushing the Breath out of your lungs and into your mouth you form a coherent, multi-shelled construct of energy, spitting into the water. Doing it this way instead maintaining a constant stream of sputtering light allows your focus to be fully on the fight with whatever lies ahead.

>18 vs basic technique difficulty(8)!

Breath at 65%.


The warm, silvery light comes out of your mouth and spins in the water, the size of a large orange. It sheds only a bit of radiance at first, outlining the nearby wall, but then it kicks into gear and the equivalent of a colossal roaring bonfire springs into brilliant luminescence.

This cave is the first thing that the new light shines on, and you can see that only a few small islands (more like large stalagmites, honestly) poke up from the bottom of the deep pool. They might hold your weight or they might not, but they are certainly not ideal for fighting and balancing, and the nearest is still a modest minute-or-so swim distant from you.


A stone's throw length away in the cave's murky waters lurks the now-illuminated sea creature. It has the mass of a Horde spiderbeast or one of the Technologist tanks, maybe seven or eight tons and twenty feet long! An array of sharp, slicing tentacles surrounds that same maw that was engraved on the trapdoor's face- you were, in a way, forewarned.


For now, the light seems to have caused it some small discomfort- enough that it has backed off of any immediate offensive, but already as you observe it has shrouded its eyes with some sort of second, darker eyelid. You have the momentum, if but for a moment!

Next turn, you'll need to surface or begin to drown.


>Expend what remains of your Breath in an all-or-nothing Cleaving Arc- it's large enough that it will be hurt grievously, perhaps killed by the many slashes

>Send a Bladebreath strike at it, moving towards one of the islands so you have something to hide behind while recovering air and Breath

>Crack open the smokesticks- you're not sure if they function underwater, but anything is better than open space- and swim away, focusing on defense

>Write in
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>>5263622
>Expend what remains of your Breath in an all-or-nothing Cleaving Arc- it's large enough that it will be hurt grievously, perhaps killed by the many slashes

All or nothing! This better work.
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>>5263622
>Send a Bladebreath strike at it, moving towards one of the islands so you have something to hide behind while recovering air and Breath
All or nothing is a terrible idea when 'nothing' means drowning while a monster squeezes the life out of you.
>>
>>5263643
>>5263992
Waiting for another hour or two for a tiebreaker and if not I'll just roll some dice.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>>5264271
Rolling for tiebreaker..

1- Cleaving Arc
2- Bladebreath and swim away
>>
>>5263622
By the Divine Corpses, that monstrosity is huge! The techniques you've honed over so many years of youth are not explicitly designed to this end, but surely they will prove sufficient to get you through this frightening encounter. They have to.

Your lungs burning from holding out for so long, you begin to exhale the argent, pale Breath, it binding around your arms and blade in a crisscrossing net of lines. This is the most powerful attack you were taught- the Aurech Cleaving Arc!


With a mental exultation the power is released, a fifteen-foot spiraling slice of aetheric power cutting through the water and barreling towards the beast at full speed.

Breath at 0%.


Rolling PWR[BRTH] vs enemy END[PHYS]!

Please roll 1d20+2!

One way or another, this last roll will be the end of Jovann's Acumination experience. Thanks for sticking with the extended intro to combat and stats.
>>
Rolled 17 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5264485
>>
Rolled 13 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5264485
watch this 1
>>
>>5264489
Looks like it turned out well. I was really nervous when I saw it wasn't Bo3
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>>5264494
Luckily, still bo3 like everything else- all rolls in the quest are unless specifically stated otherwise!
>>
Rolled 6 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>5264485
Nat 1
>>
Rolled 8 + 4 (1d20 + 4)

>>5264489
>>5264491
>>5264499
19 vs enemy's roll here, and writing!
>>
>>5264485
Swimming upwards as fast as you are- so urgently trying to reach the surface and pull wind air into your lungs- you do not spare more than a passing glance at the effect of this majestic blow. Your head breaks the plane of the water and, lungs screaming, you breathe in.

>19, 15, 8 vs 4

But you don't have to watch. Whatever organic substance this sea creature is made out of, it is certainly no armor against this kind of damage, and the beast nearly explodes when the impact of the Cleaving Arc strikes it, the single slash splitting into a dozen on contact with its target. Even though the monster is under the water, purple gore and viscera rocket into the air, inhuman screams echoing about the cave. While you greedily gulp down breath after breath of musty air the thing perishes without more than a thrashing death rattle, quickly sinking beneath the now-murky waves in a myriad of bloody chunks.


You take a moment to think after many long seconds of filling your lungs. That.. is quite possibly the best Cleaving Arc you've ever thrown out, equal to or even better than your father's masterful strikes. Is it something about this dungeon, some inherent property kicking all of your Breath techniques into higher gear? Or is it simply the crucible of live combat, true risk and danger putting you in a different state?

Both theories swirl around in your brain as you clamber up onto one of the stalagmites, setting your feet and looking around for more threats while the orb of spinning light still persists. There are none to be found, but you do catch one last thing, noting another floating message superimposed onto the ceiling above you.


Well done, Jovann Aurech. Your Acumination is complete.


A blinding flash of light emits from it as soon as you read the last word and a dizzying animus of motion shifts around you. It pulls you across space, somehow, dragging you ethereally through the ground above your head and, a half-second later, you stand in a small but opulent dressing room. Two blue-velvet chairs and a wooden door fill the room, but you also take keen note of your father's plate and a resplendent navy cloak- the mark of a Legion officer in training!

You've done it- after that trial that was only at most an hour, but felt like days.

[1/3]
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>>5264557
A knock on the door jolts you out of your victorious reverie, and the entryway is pulled open shortly after. At the doorstep a kind-looking but scarred middle-aged man- skin as pale as snow, does the Zephyrking have those ferocious inner-mountain tribesmen as palatial servants?!- stands, dressed impeccably for the court and carrying a small tray.

"Candidate Lord Aurech, many congratulations! I am Howynd, your adjutant and humble servant from this day onwards. A pleasure to meet you."

You incline your head, sopping wet as it is. "A pleasure to meet you as well... Mister Howynd."

"Ah, no," he gently rebukes, "just Howynd, please, Lord Aurech. I have no status but yours, if that makes sense. Please, take a towel and a refreshment."


Howynd closes the door and sets down the tray filled with towels and biscuits before he continues, your stomach rumbling ravenously as you grab one with a complete disregard for politesse.

"In a half hour or so, master Aurech, one of Zephyrking Keronn's Breathweavers will summon your to the court to have your performance examined. As your adjutant to be, I can tell you that you have passed by a wide margin- nothing historical, but nothing to scoff at either, milord. I daresay you may have your pick of Legionary positions."


If what Howynd says is true, that would be a great honor indeed. By joining the Legion- even by simply submitting yourself to this candidacy- you have locked yourself in to the Zephyrking's direct will. If he or one of his agents trusts you enough to choose your specialty, then you have won not simple acumen, but glory as well!

Seeming to notice you fading off into a tired daydream, Howynd ushers you into one of the chairs, pulling a blanket out of thin air and draping it over your shoulders. By the Divines, that is warm..

[2/3]
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>>5264560
In your dreams, you stand in the midst of three great thrones, each tall as the city's Keronnan Spire and wide enough for a giant's foot- or perhaps you are unbelievably small. Three men that look not unlike you sit in them, each adorned with three different sets of regalia- all loyal retainers of the Zephyrking, all glorious and powerful servants of that burgeoning, living divinity.

You recognize subconsciously that these will be the three paths laid out before you in the King's court- the Inquisitor, the Imperator, and the Potentate.

Each are separate but important branches of the Legion- the Inquisitor's singular, decisive actions behind enemy lines and great heroic charges into battle; the Imperator's command of great Legionary armies and strategic prowess, and the Potentate's clandestine operations and often aetherically manipulative mastery of the battle space. All have their place amongst the great rolling war machine you have bound yourself to.


All which remains is to choose.

>Inquisitor

>Imperator

>Potentate
I'll be leaving this vote up for a bit longer than usual. Thanks again for bearing with the introduction, and I hope you're all enjoying SoB Quest so far!
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>>5264569
>Potentate

All of these sounds good but I'm a sucker for clandestine operations.
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>>5264569
>Inquisitor

Imperator would be great, but the character is best as an Inquisitor.
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>>5264569
>Imperator
>>
>>5264569

Now's also a great time for any lore/character questions if there are any- especially regarding these three options.
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>>5264658
What was the position our brother served in the war? Does the Potentate position make use of breathing more than the others?
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>>5264660
Jovann's older brother was of the Legio Imperator.

Potentates are the "operatives" of the Legion, so there are certainly unique Breath techniques that are particularly suited to their style of covert action and work. That being said, all of Keronna's Legionnary officers are Breath-users in some fashion and none of them can be considered slouches in their respective fields.
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>>5264569
>Inquisitor
Bladebreath just seems best for running in and killing everything around you. Too instantaneous for dedicated effective battlefield control, not quite suited for generalship.
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>>5264569
>Inquisitor

Those renders look cool, what do you use to make them?
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>>5265072
Worth keeping in mind that while Bladebreath is currently Jovann's only TALENT, there will be opportunities to acquire more, and the ability to pick up other, less jaw-dropping Breath techniques as well.

>>5265639
I'm not a super talented drawfag or anything, so it's all pre-generated assets from Inkarnate.
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>>5265646
>all pre-generated assets from Inkarnate
I love them because they remind me of Baldur's Gate a lot, plus some minor autism.
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>>5264569
Dreams are vivacious flights of suppressed fancy, and before long you are shaken awake from yours by Howynd's calloused hands. "Lord Aurech, now is the time. The Breathweaver calls."

You stand from the chair, donning your heirloom plate and attaching the greatcloak with the adjutant's practiced help. He moves fluidly for a man his age and when you are fully dressed, he lets the door ajar into the hallway. You proceed into the Grand Palace's inner corridors, following your attendant with the new cape whipping behind your every step.


The journey to the court of whatever Breathweaver Lord this is- probably a senior Marquis or even a Duke, considering the importance of each officer to the Legion's continued success- is not a long or interesting one. At the end of the many turns, guarded by two brass-plated soldiers, is a modestly-sized pine door waiting open for your arrival. You stride through as Howynd moves off to the side, and a majestic scene is displayed before you. Rather than the Breathweaver Lord you were expecting- "Breathweaver is an honorific given to Lords with adept control of this fundamental force," Mother's voice echoes in your head- there is a Chorus of Breathweavers forming a gestalt avatar!

The seats in this chamber house a half-dozen men and a single woman of immense power- a Duke's royal symbol, three Marquesses, and a Grand Duchess' noble emblem! Each has their mouth open, Exhaling wisps of energy in a rotational fashion, creating the entity that sits in the room's gilded throne.


It scrutinizes you, the composite form's seated body exuding an aura of dominance and wisdom. Your etiquette training is utterly unnecessary here as you kneel instinctively and the Chorus' avatar nods.

"We greet you, Jovann of the family Aurech, second-born and heir to that noble lineage. Stand and be judged."


With the multi-faceted voice ringing in your ears, you stand up, doing your best to keep your back straight and your eyes forward. Sharpening your resolve, you hazard a confident greeting to this epochal power. "I greet and submit to this honorable Chorus. It is my honor to be judged by such prestigious and patrician beings."


In a blur the Chorus has created a wide, floating projection of you walking through that first steel door. They look on impassively as each of the trials pass by: your first engagement with the dog-bipeds, the curiosity displayed in the desert room, aiding Erbol with the burden you gave him, and finally your investigation of the lake and precarious fight with the cave creature. Considering the great rarity it is to have an opportunity like this to review your own action, you take it entirely for what it is, hungrily digesting every morsel of information and self-feedback while the gestalt observes.

Eventually, after watching the whole thing twice over, the Chorus' avatar silences the floating display, speaking again in that booming multitone.
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>>5266002
"This entity has determined you are fit for service within the Zephyrking's divine Legion, Lord Aurech. You are judged as worthy and in addition, this entity assesses you as beyond the minimum level for officerhood. It is within our power to offer you choice of duty, should you desire it."


Just as your prophetic dream predicted, the creature extends a hand from its seated position, three symbols materializing in front of you- the cross bladed axe-mark of the Legio Imperatus, the flame and rapier mark of the Legio Inquisitorum, and the open-handed dagger of the Potentarum. Mind made up, you touch the middle of the three, your fingers wrapping around this incarnate chit of your new calling.

>Inquisitor

"You will be one of His sharpest tools, His precise and puncturing implement against His foes. With this choice you set yourself on the path of an Inquisitor, Jovann Aurech, for now and forever. HAIL TO THE LORD OF THE FIRMAMENTS, IN HIS NAME DO WE CONSECRATE THIS SYMBOL!

The small token vibrates in your closed hand and your skin itches in the hand you hold it in; shimmering teal lines begin to form on the back of your palm, searing themselves into your hand. The symbol of office you hold is now a part of you, gone from your grasp and emblazoned into and on you. In wonder, your index finger traces the slightly raised skin.


A slight pop emits from the throne and when you look up, the avatar is gone, dissipated into the mundane air. Though the assembled nobles look haggard and tired from their exertion, each stands and gives you an opportunity to make their acquaintances in brief while they congratulate you. A marquess of a province you've only visited once, the Grand Duke of all of Keronna's eastern border lands; all of them are personages of political power and strength. This is clearly part of your reward as well, for while you are no great political scholar you are aware enough to know that these are relationships that can now be leveraged- for good or for ill.


This gathering concludes in record time, a veritable army of attendants filtering through the same doors you entered from. These sponsoring nobles of yours exit shortly after, tended to by their servants and already listening to reports from their advisors and assistants, leaving you alone with only Howynd for company.

"Well, Howynd, what's next?" you inquire.


He smiles widely. "Lord Aurech, you are now a fully-fledged member of the Zephryking's Legion. There are a number of things to do- we must requisition your arms and armor, speak to your Inquisitorum mentor, and recieve your first assignment, though in what order we do so is within your hands."


>Go to the Imperial Armory and retrieve your new gear

>Have Howynd take you to your Inquisitorial mentor

>Make your way to the Legion Authority for your first orders
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>>5266006
>Go to the Imperial Armory and retrieve your new gear
>>
>>5266006
>Go to the Imperial Armory and retrieve your new gear
>>
>>5266006
>Make your way to the Legion Authority for your first orders
>>
>>5266002

>Go to the Imperial Armory and retrieve your new gear

It is time to see the spoils of your efforts. You get moving, conveying to Howynd as you go your desire to retrieve your gear. The adjutant nods knowingly, and he guides you in relative silence until you reach the exterior of the palace where you spot a familiar face making his way out of the building: your peer, Orland Koterine, wearing his own blue-tinged cloak! He looks exhausted, trudging across the courtyard with an adjutant of his own- a younger woman, much in contrast to Howynd- traveling to some destination unknown. You raise a hand in greeting. "Hail, Lord Koterine!"

With your exclamation, vigor seems to fill Orland's body. He turns to greet you, excited and suddenly hale as a mountain ox. "And a windkissed greeting to you, Lord Aurech! Finished the trials, did you?"


"Aye," you proclaim in a false baritone, "with ease, for I am the most storied candidate to ever emerge from these hallowed halls!"

Chuckling, the two of you clasp one another's forearms- as is traditional for warriors- and you pat the red-haired fellow on the back. As you bring him into this half-embrace, you see a sword-crossed axe mark on the right hand- it seems as though he has chosen or been chosen by the Legio Imperatus.

Noticing your attentions, he completes the greeting ritual and takes a respectful step back. "An inquisitor to be, then, right? Congratulations to you, Jovann. Well-earned, I am sure- if only we had crossed paths in our trial, might that we had both achieved greater than we did."

You nod thoughtfully before responding. "Alas, then, that whatever contraption or council oversees that process could tell we were too strong together, Orland. Where are you headed?"

He motions across the Great Palace's courtyard, well beyond and into the streets. "Straight to the armory for me. I want to see what kind of options I've got as a soon-to-be High General of the Legion."


Both of you laugh at that and, walking together now, you make your way to that long, wide building sitting in the city center: the Imperial Armory.

[1/2]


Second post to follow a bit later. I've added a few Pastebins that contain some useful information; these will be in the OP in threads after this one. || Encyclopedia: https://pastebin.com/SGR0YsCB || Character Overview: https://pastebin.com/vhEsRwf8 || Talent Library: https://pastebin.com/hPx4MeTu || Quest Mechanics: https://pastebin.com/DP1mhfqx
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>>5266220
Now that it is well past midday, the streets are a bit more crowded- filled with life, brimming with men and women at work and children at play. These crowds thin out when you near the Armory, though; too many incidents have happened in the past with blade-happy guards for mothers to let their children play within a city block of the place anymore. It is a very urban building: which is to say rather ugly and uninspired. You're not an artisan or connoisseur of architecture, but the thing is an eyesore- perhaps that is why it is here, buried in the city center where it is surrounded by much greater works of art and masonry.

The Armory is assuredly a great bastion of firepower and surety against any attack or raid; you approach this squat abomination and observe not one but three Breathweavers armed with powerful, teal-tinged Breathbound staves, flanked with a squad of armored infantry and crossbowmen each. If what you've heard is true, such a storied staff can greatly enhance a Breathweaver's talents- at the cost of locking them in to their current level of gnosis forever. The Imperial Armory, then, must be an extremely valuable asset- those three men alone in their robes and breastplates could cut down dozens of footmen each without breaking a sweat, and each of them have paid a dear cost indeed to gain their strength.


Advancing forward, you and Orland present your hands and in turn your inimitable symbols of office, that unimpeachable proof of Legionary allegiance and fealty. Many an infiltrator has tried to counterfeit these pseudo-tattoos, but none have succeeded in known time; the guardsmen wave you past with a steely eye on your side-worn swords. Clearly they consider you to be no threat to the facility, even armed as you are.

The interior of this expansive arsenal is truly gargantuan, towering Breath-forged sparklights delineating every 10 meter distance on the floor. Men rush back and forth, golems lumber about carrying massive crates, and the hustle and bustle of the Armory surrounds you and engulfs you. Luckily both Howynd and Orland's attendant (Yuval, as you learned) are aware of the area you must head to, and so between the many marked lines on the floor you fall into step with the furious pace of this place, hustling to that distant office at speed.


Shortly you reach a door marked "Issuances", with an adhesive sign taped to the door. Written in a barely-readable scrawl, it angrily states "OFFICERS ONLY!!!!". With a deep breath in, Howynd opens the door.

[2/3]
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>>5266539
Behind a short desk sits a short, fat man- idly you think he reminds you of this place's architectural layout- dressed in one of those Gorvan-style "wifebeaters". Sweat soaks his every move, the paperwork on his desk utterly covered in.. fluids. It takes a moment for this creature to look up and notice you but eventually he does, and a bellowing grunt emerges from his chest.

"OHOO, more fresh candidates then? Well, your Lordships, I hope you aren't hoping for any sort of special treatment. Follow me and I'll give you what you're due."


The rude little workboss opens a door behind him and your party follows, looking on in awe at the absolute disregard for decorum or even basic civility. The stockroom beyond is filled to brimming with, well, not exactly pristine, but above-adequate wargear. Serviceable weapons and armor line the walls, with crates full of backpacks, water skins and basic survival gear along the ground. In the back corner, where the squat man is still walking, there's a large glass case with a display set inside- maybe something a bit higher grade?

You watch as he opens the display and a pair of men run around in this small warehouse-within-a-warehouse, filling a pack for each of you and gathering up items. The fat man motions for you to come up to the display, which you do. It's beautiful: there are many items within that would cost you a year's wages or more (at least from what Howynd says the Crown will pay you).

"Take one. That's all you get, beyond whatever else you want from out in the rest of the warehouse. Standard gear list's 'ere." He shoves a small scrap of parchment across the table. "Sign."

With the two backpacks at each of your feet, you both stare into the display case. What do you take?


>A Breath-woven dagger, imprinted with the essence of ice- a solid strike could cause minor necrosis in a limb; a glance, perhaps frostbite.

>A small yellow Ionite gem on a golden necklace; channeling Breath into it will form a solid meter-wide flat shield in a single direction for as long as you can feed Breath into it. Stronger impacts against it will necessitate more Breath, or it will break.

>A red ruby talisman; channeling Breath through it will cause a blade of flame to spring up from it, shaped to the desire of its wielder. Too long without reinvigoration of Breath and the blade will sputter and die.

>A green Breath-gathered heartwood bowstring, empowered to strike true and in deadly spots


Some of these things are tricks you can do already, sure, but anyone with any knowledge of Breath knows that artifacts and items lessen Breath consumption for equivalent effects.
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>>5266544
>A red ruby talisman; channeling Breath through it will cause a blade of flame to spring up from it, shaped to the desire of its wielder. Too long without reinvigoration of Breath and the blade will sputter and die.
>>
>>5266544
>A Breath-woven dagger, imprinted with the essence of ice- a solid strike could cause minor necrosis in a limb; a glance, perhaps frostbite.
>>
>>5266544
>A red ruby talisman; channeling Breath through it will cause a blade of flame to spring up from it, shaped to the desire of its wielder. Too long without reinvigoration of Breath and the blade will sputter and die.
>>
>>5266544
>A red ruby talisman; channeling Breath through it will cause a blade of flame to spring up from it, shaped to the desire of its wielder. Too long without reinvigoration of Breath and the blade will sputter and die.
>>
>>5266596
>>5266621
>>5266806
>>5266885
>A red ruby talisman; channeling Breath through it will cause a blade of flame to spring up from it, shaped to the desire of its wielder. Too long without reinvigoration of Breath and the blade will sputter and die.

Alright, writing now! Fair warning, this post might take a bit to write up.
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>>5266544

A specific piece catches your eye: the crimson hilt, that ruby-tinged jewel-cylinder. You point and the foreman puts on a special glove to reach inside and take it out. "Not a bad eye there, lordling. Take good care of it; it's been in the display long enough I thought it'd never leave."

With your newfound materiel and treasure, you both set out for the Legion Authority. Of course you keep your father's plate and sword, those being better than any standard-issue gear you could get at the Armory as a Legionary lieutenant. Orland's grabbed himself a longspear and a set of javelins, mentioning something about "we can't all be Breath-slinging heroes".

This walk is a longer one, across the city's main bridge and through a pair of full districts, and Orland is talking a mile a minute with any thought of fatigue long gone from his mind. He tells you about his family's struggles with the bug-men, about his sister's impending marriage to some fool of a Marquis from the western coast, and then finally the conversation comes around to you.


"Well, I wager I've chattered on enough about my own issues and thoughts," the red-haired man opines, "here, let's see, let me ask you something.. why'd you join the Legion, Jovann?"

>"Glory, gold and the Crown's favor, I suppose." [Power]

>"It was the right path for me at the time." [Destiny]

>"All sons of Kreonna should- those who don't are cowards." [Duty]

>Write in


The conversation continues for a bit afterwards and you arrive at the Authority within the hour. It is still a truly massive building, but unlike the Imperial Armory someone with a clear eye for beauty has created this thing- its towering spires and convex domes complement each other wonderfully. Orland takes the lead this time, moving into the building and up to one of the dozen desks labeled for initial assignment. He waves a genial goodbye as you part ways once again and the administrator escorts him up the stairs and to the right.

You also proceed along- no lines for the Zephyrking's officers, though this place is filled with despondent-looking conscripts awaiting their orders for training- and step up to the desk where an old, graying woman sits before speaking.

"Lord Jovann Aurech, Legio Inquisitorum."

She looks up as you approach and nods quietly; without saying a word, the lady directs you down the hallway to the right as she hands you an already-filled-out slip of paper. Makes sense, someone had to have known you were coming here.


[1/2]
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>>5267458

Another trip down a long hallway later, the stairs go downwards and you enter a startlingly familiar blackstone walkway, studded at intermittent points with doors and gates. You locate the one you were directed to without too much trouble and make your way into one "Lord Baron Heronus Alivandan"'s office after a knock and an invitation in.


There are no desks in this wildly disorganized place, you realize- only a throng of corkboards and a horde of hastily-posted adhesive scripts, all joined together by fabric and string. In the midst of the wild nexus of information is a black-robed and bearded man, holding out an open hand at you while mumbling all the while.

"Greetings and well met--" you begin before he snaps his fingers and closes and opens his hand a few times; you oblige and put the slip into his palm.

"Mm, yes, good, another Epsilon-grade Weaver.." the strange man intones, wandering about the room with his other hand on a red-colored thread, "yes, you will do nicely for this assignment here."

Watching carefully, you follow this walking eccentricity as he weaves a web with his footsteps, bouncing from board to board and making little notes on the occasional script. After a bit, he stops so abruptly that the two of you nearly collide; he looks up at you and begins speaking rather clinically.


"Jovann Aurech. Competent warrior, average Breathweaver, modest intelligence. Greatest strength: versatility and adaptiveness. Suited best for training mission accompanying more senior Inquisitor as part of 14th Legion, Detachment TK. Orders for departure tomorrow at dusk."

This black-robed baron hands you your slip back with nary another word- and indeed, inscribed on the slip are confirmed travel orders for departure to the fourteenth Legion of the Zephyrking's army, an internal policing unit. Internal policing?!


>"This has to be a mistake, Lord Baron. I excelled on the Acumination- is there no other assignment?"

>"I disagree with your assessment of my best posting, Lord Baron; perhaps a more direct role might be more suitable."

>Accept the assignment, as miserable as it sounds
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>>5267458
>"It was the right path for me at the time." [Destiny]
>Accept the assignment, as miserable as it sounds

We'll prove our might in the mission.
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>>5267458
>"Glory, gold and the Crown's favor, I suppose." [Power]
>"I disagree with your assessment of my best posting, Lord Baron; perhaps a more direct role might be more suitable."
>>
>>5267458
>"All sons of Kreonna should- those who don't are cowards." [Duty]
>Accept the assignment, as miserable as it sounds
>>
>>5267458
>"Glory, gold and the Crown's favor, I suppose." [Power]
>"I disagree with your assessment of my best posting, Lord Baron; perhaps a more direct role might be more suitable."
>>
At a toss-up for the vote! I'll leave it open for another 30 minutes and then get to rollan.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>>5268620
1- Accept
2- Ask for a more direct role
>>
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>>5267463
With a measure of grace you do not truly feel, you nod at the Baron. "As you wish, Lord Baron. The will of the Zephyrking be done."

The short Inquisitor nods firmly. "Deference and obedience acknowledged. Confirm that this assignment is more than it seems, worthy of talent."

One final and awkward acknowledging nod later, you depart this place with Howynd in tow, headed deeper into the building. The last thing on your short to-do list is a meeting with your Inquisitorial mentor- whatever that means.

Yet again you prowl the halls of the Legion Authority's Inquisitorial section, this deep dungeon-like block of offices and war-planning rooms. Men and women of various rank walk about and move with purpose, coming and going in and out of this place in a bewildering display of administrative efficiency. Father's lessons taught you much of the basics of war- tactics, movements, formations and exploitation of an enemy's weaknesses- but also strategy. This building is as vital to the war effort as five whole Legions put together.


Even as distracted as you are by the absolute pace of this place, you do notice the several downward staircases as you descend- one, then another, and another, and a fourth. The air is cool and crisp this deep.

"Howynd, where in the name of the Firmament are we going?" You question, one more staircase passing you by.

"Here we are, Lord Aurech. Lord Duke Alabaster Teornim's chambers."

Wait, the Bastion of the North is going to be your mentor?!

Duke Teornim- the Bastion of the North, Purifier of the Necrotheurgic Scourge and renowned hero of the Zephyrdom- is to be your personal mentor. This is an honor beyond honor, prestige beyond prestige! That hammer-wielding man is a literal legend: you have read books telling of his exploits since as early as you can remember in your childhood. Each and every story was always filled with larger than life deeds and a near-peerless mastery of Breath, crushing blows and destroyed ruins of enemies strewn in his wake. And now your adjutant is opening the door into his office!
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>>5268765

The door opens and there, standing in all his legendary stature-

Is that really the Duke?

The man inside looks like he could be Duke Teornim's grandfather, maybe. The skeletal structure, the way his face looks, and where the muscle used to be are all about right, but the slight gut and silvered hair are not remotely emblematic of the action hero that you worshipped as a child. Evidently, the look on your face says it all as he gives a wry smile, the corners of the man's mouth pulled up.

"That bad, is it? Please, come in Jovann. Thank you, Howynd."

Your adjutant gives a bow- how does he know my attendant's name?- and exits, leaving you alone in the room with the shell of a war-saint.


"I greet you, and apologize for any misconduct, Lord Duke," spills out of your mouth in a stumbling apology, but he shrugs and waves your comment off.

"No, I would be just as surprised were I in your place. It's not good practice to parade around ancient war heroes, so I haven't seen the light of the streets in my old regalia in.." he raises a thinking hand to his chin as he pulls up a pair of velvety chairs, "oh, I don't know, fifteen years?"

A strange feeling rises in your throat. "What would the Crown gain from keeping someone like you out of public eye, Lord Duke?"

"It's not the best look for the Zephyrdom, no? I've aged supernaturally fast after that damned death curse."


You hadn't heard anything about any sort of death curse, but Alabaster goes on.

"No, after the Necrurges pulled that off, I was retired. I think I could still keep on trucking, but they reassigned me to this job. Not that it's a bad one, mind."

He plops down in the chair, his ornamental armor jingling, and you follow shortly after.


"Tell me a bit about yourself, Jovann Aurech. I have your files here, but in my time I've come to find that knowing my men personally is important."


>Give him a balanced accounting of yourself, just as you would anyone else

>Be brutally honest, telling the old man of your every failure and regret

>Embellish a bit, making yourself out to be more of a success than you truly are

>Write in


As an aside, I'll be on a work trip the next few days; expect next update on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. As always, I'll try to answer questions and such when I can.
>>
>>5268769
>Give him a balanced accounting of yourself, just as you would anyone else
>>
>>5268769
>Be brutally honest, telling the old man of your every failure and regret
>>
>>5268769
>Give him a balanced accounting of yourself, just as you would anyone else
>>
>>5268843
>>5268921
>>5269408
Looks like a balanced account takes it. I'm unfortunately still stuck with workshit, but I should have an update out by Friday. Thanks for patience and flexibility, anons.
>>
>>5268769


Briefly you consider other approaches to the conversation- mayhap an extremely honest retelling of your life would endear you to him, or an embellished hero's tale might invigorate the older man- but in the end you decide to tell the story just how it actually is. The hour wears long- a small, dripping water-clock in the corner marks the hour as half past three in the afternoon- and you finish up your story, having spoken for a long while on all of the things that make you who you are.

Throughout your autobiographical exposé, Alabaster focuses on you intently. He never wavers in this intense, direct observation of you, always listening for every detail and often asking questions about the particulars; your sense is that his interest in you is truly genuine. This is not just a desk job for the former Bastion, but rather a new calling and a place to employ his talents in a different manner.


You conclude the spoken journey of your life with today's events- leaving your home, the Acumination, and your trip throughout the city to where you are now. Silence finally reigns in the chamber as the Duke considers your words, leaning back in his chair.

"It seems to me," he says, sipping a goblet of water, "that you've got a desire for adventure and growth above all else, Aurech. Good. You'll need that: you can't stagnate out there in the field. You've got marching orders to the 14th Legion, then?"


You nod and pass over the small parchment chit, and Duke Teornim looks it over before handing it back. "I wish you good luck and fortunate winds, young Lord. There are too few men of your kind: stay safe, and be not afraid to invoke my name or reach back if you need my help with anything- so long as I don't have to leave the office, of course!"

With a bout of laughter, the Duke wishes you goodbye and sends you back up the long stairs, Howynd at your flanks.

[1/3]
>>
>>5275140

The remainder of the afternoon passes quickly. You're shown to your small but well-furnished officer's apartment here in the capital, located not far from the Grand Palace, and Howynd hands you a small blue crystal- a whisperwynd, to contact him should you need him in the night. After the long day, there is little else to do: you tend to your gear, affixing your new cloak fully to the armor and getting a feel for the redflame blade.

Sleep comes quickly when you finally lay your head to rest, even with thoughts of the drudgery to come dragging down your subconscious mind. An internal security Legion is almost as bad as one of the Penal Legions in terms of the actual duties involved. Collecting taxes from unruly farmers, squashing bandits and taking care of pests is hardly glorious- but if the Authority believes this is worth your talents, so it shall be. Not like you have much choice in the matter at this point, apparently.


You rest soundly unbothered by dreams, waking just as dusk comes to meet your carriage outside the building. The wait thankfully isn't long before it rolls up, the two white-and-blue speckled Galecharger horses in the harnesses whinnying and ready to rush off into the nascent fog. A pair of well-armored footmen bearing crossbows dismount and guide you and your attendant into the interior of the vehicle where another man sits- in fact, it is none other than your new friend, Orland Koterine!

"Orland?" You react, surprised, "They assigned you to the 14th as well?"

He shrugs. "Common training assignment is what I was told. It'll be good to be by your side, o' Conquering Hero," Orland says somewhat snarkily. His cloak has been changed- a pair of lieutenant's wedges on the shoulders- whereas your own Inquisitorial emblem is the only addition to your own cloak of rank. Curious.


[2/3]
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>>5275141

Travel over the high mountain hills of the capital region is not as bad as it could be- there are no bandits foolish enough to try and steal from right under the Zephyrking's nose, nor are there any dangerous beasts that haven't been completely hunted out or bent to domestication. The conversation with Orland is pleasant and comes naturally; he has as little of a clue as to what the 14th Legion is doing as you do. Before long, things devolve into a card game of Ioran Windspeaker amongst friends, and this is how you spend the night of your first day of travel- and the morning of the next.

After going back and forth with Orland in a few dozen games, he puts away his set and you look out the window to see morning sun cresting over the edge of the Zitemos mountain range, the carriage tilting upwards in its climb already. This scenery is beautiful without compare, and you and your companion are stunned into silence as the second and final day of the journey draws onwards. Notably, while the scenery is majestic by way of its towering mountains, great waterfalls and pine forests, there is little sign of human life- even the small villages you pass by along the occasional river seem almost completely uninhabited, though no destruction or clear signs of destitution mark these places. It is as though hundreds of peasants and yeomen simply picked up their livelihoods and went somewhere else, leaving behind only stubborn hermits and the like.


Having now traveled for many hours, you come upon a tall, long set of switchbacks. The carriage driver, sounding stressed, asks that the four of you please limit your movement and so you do, sitting unmoving as the treacherous path up the trail rocks the cart perilously. Finally, though, the man's skills prove sufficient and you come upon XIV Legion's camp, the wooden palisades and trenches seated atop a wide, flat plateau.

The carriage stops short of the gates, citing that this is exactly where he was told to drop you, and then departs with his escorts- leaving you to your own devices here with Orland. You're technically early to report, not being due until the end of the day- this leaves time for some investigation of the camp, the men or even the surrounding area, so long as you're quick about it.

>Report to the camp commander immediately- no point in wasting the Legion's time

>Explore the camp nonchalantly to see what the place is like

>Try to get to know the Legionnaires here and see how they compare to those you've met in the past

>Have a look around the area surrounding the camp

>Write in
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>>5275145
>Explore the camp nonchalantly to see what the place is like
>>
>>5275145
>Have a look around the area surrounding the camp
>>
Alright, we'll leave this one open for an overnight tiebreaker and then get back to the usual 2-a-day schedule tomorrow.
>>
>>5275145
>Have a look around the area surrounding the camp
>>
>>5275164
>>5275421
>>5275666
Having a look around takes it. Writing now.
>>
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>>5275145

This is a expansive area, and you won't have much time for personal expeditions after you report in. This plateau is a strong defensive point at the base of a gargantuan mountain; off in the distance a green pine forest emits the scents of these early spring months. You bump Orland with an elbow. "What do you say to a leader's reconnaissance, Lord Orland?"

He gives a wide grin in return as your adjutants look on. "That sounds like an excellent idea, Lord Jovann."

The pair of attendants start to head into the camp, Howynd glancing over his shoulder and mentioning something about "setting up accommodations befitting your station", which conveniently leaves the pair of you free to head out. Walking on foot is a fair bit different than traveling by carriage, but years of training and rigorous exercise have left you both in more than sufficient shape for the short trek around the nearby area, even with it being as rocky and inclined as it is. Moving casually at a comfortable pace, you and Orland pass around the outside of the camp itself a few times. The fortifications are mostly textbook Legion work- tall, sharpened palisades emplaced near a set of long trenches with thick, Breath-grown brambles along the edges. It's not an easy thing to assault, even if it were undermanned: with the main gate of the camp enclosed, it would take proper siege equipment to destroy.


Beyond the camp, though, are a number of unknowns. Your enthusiastic companion points off in the distance, near the horizon and towards the forest. "Isn't that smoke there, in the forest? Looks like it's not too far away, no?"
You look to the forest and spot the slight and wispy smoke that Orland's pointing at. Looks like it's originating from inside of the forest somewhere.. hm.

Nodding, you set a hand on your companion's shoulder. "Well, no better time than the present, right? Best to check that out. Maybe we can get some sort of knowledge as to what's going on here without having to get it from the camp commander."

"Makes sense to me," he says, and he straps his axe-belt on a bit tighter as the two of you march off into the greenery.

[1/2]
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>>5276553

The woodland is thick and filled with life, rabbits and deer bounding about the thickets and timbers. No clear trails through this place are marked in any way, and you end up having to push through several thick bushes and thorny glades on your way towards the smoke, each and every step paid for in grumble-inducing scratches and pricked fingers. After an hour of rough going, though, you do arrive to the site of the rising smoke- a small campfire, already burnt out and ashy. Orland approaches as you stay back, him leaning down to take a closer look at the remaining embers while you inspect the ground for signs of life. Moments pass quietly with the both of you engrossed in observation, but it isn't long before a rustle in the nearby bushes draws you from your inspection.

Crouching deeper in the bushes from whence the noise came are a pair of children- one young boy, perhaps twelve summers at most, and a younger girl- who are utterly filthy. The boy holds a slingshot drawn back fully and pointed at Orland's head, but upon noticing your attentions he gently releases the tension in the sling and slowly moves a finger up to his mouth in a universal shushing noise before slinking off into the bush with his companion in tow.

"Damn, nothing of note here. Looks like all pine ash, no special ignition method or anything that I can tell. Jovann, anything on the ground over there?"

The child is moving slowly enough that you could still pursue him easily and with as short as his legs are, you'd probably catch him, at that.


>"Nothing here either. Back to the camp it is, then." [Head to report]

>Rush after the kid and interrogate him [Any specific questions?]

>Leave the child be but keep looking around
>>
>>5276572
>"Nothing here either. Back to the camp it is, then." [Head to report]
>>
>>5276572
>Leave the child be but keep looking around
>>
>>5276572
>>Rush after the kid and interrogate him [Any specific questions?]
Kill him
>>
>>5279761
Anon, what's going on big guy?



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