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PRELUDE Through rambling tufts of feathermoss and tongue-leaf, sprigs of bearded ferns, crook-necked branches and drooping fronds, the pathless forest whispers and beckons.
>>
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In the summer winds the trees tilt and ride. Behind the lulled eyes of the King Beneath The Mountain sleeps the maze of desire, the warbled cry of birds and dew-glistened leaves twisting above the mottled stream.
>>
Motes of gold spun upon verdant branches swaying bright in the day blithe with flowers under dawdling shadows green beyond the pebble-strewn path.
>>
Where butterflies scamper through tumbling meadows and sun-caught dreams, speckled with the scent of petals and tussle of blossoms, birds snug in their nests as the gossamer drifts to hear singing dewfall doused in the warmth of the carefree light.
>>
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At the farthest reach of the Old Forest Of Idols, by the gnarled trunk of a twisted tree, a circle of children are chattering:
>>
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-Tamlyn has found a thing! Oh, it is so pretty -

-Quick, lift it up! There is something underneath it...

-This is not as good as that talking frog I found by the old well -

-Oh, how horrid! It is a dead thing! With antlers and broken teeth. Throw it away.

-Leave it alone, if you touch it, the Blearie Queene will cut open your belly and feed you to the faeries...!

-You should prod it - with a stick. See if it is just sleeping?

The bold girl, Tamlyn, looks to you for what to do.
>(...?)
>>
Location: Reichskloster Encampment, Ardnamorchuan Promontory

Flanked either side by his honour guard, Prince-Provost Aristophontes Gratian of Lorscheim awaits the report of the maiden-knight Liselotte. She delivers it a little haltingly:

-Our emissaries will return by noon today, My Lord. These local herdsmen have welcomed us without bloodshed. Truly, they will be brought to the Oath and the Light! Yet they are so... primitive and uncultured here, they possess not even the rudiments of war-making or conquest, knowing only to drive their beasts to the highlands in summer and down to the low vales by the forest in winter, with their cattle as their only treasure. They know not even the war-bow or the arbalest, let alone the art of siege. If I may, My Lord - I... I do not think it was wise to come here at all. These herdsmen do not have warfare in their lineage or blood. Perhaps some other land should have been chosen for the Heregeld?

The Prince-Provost is gazing with dreaming eyes beyond the fortifications that encircle the encampment, wooden palisades being sheathed in earth and stone. Amidst the clatter of shovels, stonemason chisels and hammers, the Prince-Provost rests his sight upon the distant forest edge. The Prince speaks:
>>
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-The Oriflamme is the herald of the Oath And The Light. Those sworn to it are freed from war; they are free to prosper, and know peace. Yet the battle against the Adversary is not fought in the wilderness, it is fought here - in our hearts. To doubt the cause of the Oath is to place a foothold for the Adversary to crawl slyly into the soul, from the soul to the weakness of flesh, from flesh thereon to poisoned words and treasonous acts that imperil all dominion. (Liselotte recoils slightly, but the Prince merely continues in a patient tone - ) This war-tithe, Maiden-Knight, this Heregeld - it is upon this land that the Adversary will be fought and defeated. And once our task here is done, we will bring forth the Oath and the Light to the lands beyond...

A sudden wind carries a guttural cry across from the faraway forest, the cawing of a crow or carrion-bird.

The Prince-Provost smiles kindly at Liselotte:

Ah - our party must be returning. You should ride out to meet them, Liselotte.

After the Maiden-Knight has departed, Prince-Provost Gratian turns to another in the encampment shadows. Clutching an Edict in his hands, the Prince whispers,

The Light has called upon you, my friend. Ride with her. The Oath will show you what to do.

>Highborn
>Lowborn
>Wildborn
>>
Before the black din of battle to come the sky was shorn of clouds, the still pallor of waiting unfurled amongst the gathered war-host beneath the grey borderlands of the sun.

Waiting, and waiting, in a voiceless vigil until sharp tongues are pulled from scabbards to redden the iron chant.
>>
-Tell us a tale, Ymmanuil. Of how you met the Men Of The East, and how they taught you the love of an old hag!

Guffaws and mocking laughter break the silence around the campfire.

In a stern yet knowing voice of mischief, Ymmanuil sets aside his whetstone and says

-Now I did endure the love-vows of an older woman, it is more than you brutes will ever know... But I witnessed many wonders on my travels. In the East I met magicians who wrote in words of worms and birds, who measured the lines and shapes of the land for their rites. In their strange hermeneutics they taught of many things, of the gold-gloom and the treasure-plague that began with greed in the hearts of men, maddening them to murder and slaughter. And I fear this unsoundness sways the old war-thane Iosaef...

At the mention of this name, the lumbering fat warrior Boriska Jotun-son spits.

- Speak not of that muddled fool, who was old and aged when even I was young! They say King Unbidden worships a tree now - a corpse, spread-eagled upon a tree! A man fights with spear and axe and knife, trusts the true strength of his arm and barehanded grasp as was the old way. What does a corpse on a tree bring in battle? Wolves and carrion-birds!

The warrior Olaefyr, new and untested, murmurs from near the edge of the campfire,

-This Skirnir we are after - is he not the kinsmen of Iosaef?

The fat Boriska scowls,

- That he is not. The old war-thane is far too high and mighty now, Iosaef thinks himself King! Nay, Skirnir belongs to Unferth, who is a distant kinsman of Waldmar. He is the Unferth who cut the face of the Atheling's daughter after she spurned him - and we will see he pays the blood price for that.

Ymmanuil glances up curiously:
-Waldmar Arrow-caller? Who sought bowstrings and war needles from Iosaef? The old thane gifted his men with many weapons...

The fat Jotun-son replies
-Aye, and Unferth carries a cursed battle-flame, a sword with an iron bite that will not heal until touched by the amber stone bound to its hilt. Unless we take that jewel from him, the Atheling's daughter will have a marred face forever.
>>
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Mission:
Retrieve the healing amber stone from the sword of Unferth, who scarred the face of the Atheling's daughter

(Choose ONE only)
>Try and count how many shields are present on Unferth's war-host. What arms are they bearing, how are they positioned upon the terrain? (Oath)

>You plan to taunt Unferth by saying he is a coward who dares only to strike at defenseless women. Perhaps he will be enraged and fight you alone? (Song)

>You should meditate upon the battle, wander through the dream roads in the meadows between life and death. (Wild)
>>
>>5265144
>Touch it.
If the Blearie Queene comes we'll give her a whooping.

>>5265151
>Highborn
The Light beckons for us. Our noble blood compels us to answer her call!

>>5265163
>Try and count how many shields are present on Unferth's war-host. What arms are they bearing, how are they positioned upon the terrain? (Oath)
>>
>>5265144
>Touch it.

>>5265151
>Wildborn

>>5265163
>You should meditate upon the battle, wander through the dream roads in the meadows between life and death. (Wild)
>>
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>>5265168
>>5265173
>Highborn
>Wildborn

Unlocked Origin: Child Of Two Worlds

Beneath an unfamiliar golden banner, depicting an eagle grasping a strangely shaped-sword, there is a deer skull. Nothing happens when you touch it.

You can see the glint of metal scattered along the path leading deeper into the forest...

A gruff but not unkindly male voice calls out:

-Come away, children. Old Grandmother needs help with her chores! She is getting much too frail to sweep the path by her hut!

At the mention of chores all of the children scatter except for Tamlyn. She is clutching the unusual banner and staring at it.

>...?
(Some options:)
>Follow the glint of metal deeper into The Old Forest Of Idols
>Hide the banner
>Take an item
>Ask Tamlyn a question
>Run back towards the male voice and help Old Grandmother with her chores
>>
>>5265144
>Grab the Antlers and lift it out of the brush

>>5265151
>Lowborn

May as well honour tradition and make a three way tie.

>>5265163
>Try and count how many shields are present on Unferth's war-host. What arms are they bearing, how are they positioned upon the terrain? (Oath)

Here we go again, another Souv quest at long last...
>>
>>5265188
>Follow the glint of metal deeper into The Old Forest Of Idols

Ah, too late.
>>
>>5265188
>Follow the glint of metal deeper into The Old Forest Of Idols
>>
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>>5265195
>Grab the Antlers and lift it out of the brush

You have gained item:
Deer Skull
>>
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>>5265168
>>5265195
>>5265196
>>5265200
>Try and count how many shields are present on Unferth's war-host. What arms are they bearing, how are they positioned upon the terrain? (Oath)
>Follow the glint of metal deeper into The Old Forest Of Idols
>>5265173
>You should meditate upon the battle, wander through the dream roads in the meadows between life and death. (Wild)

You are dreaming of a sword with a bright jewel bound to its hilt. You can see glimpses of it, flickering in the gloom. A strange discordant song, chanted tonelessly into the moving cliff of shields, shields that splinter into broken fangs...

Somehow, you know the sword is not in Unferth's hand. Instead, you see it aflame, burning and searing the snout of a terrible creature:
>>
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The Adalwulf
Foul Beast-Father that fought the Great Wyrm during an age of ancient evil. It is said to have taken the form of a monstrous, ravenous wolf before it was vanquished, casting itself into the fires of the sun, though some corrupted and heretical followers of the Beast linger on. The mere mention of the name of the Beast-Father is punished by agonising death in civilised lands, whilst to invoke the unspeakable horror of its hooked emblems is to invite breaking upon the wheel. Some believe that the accursed hunger of The Great Wyrm Lotan began after it tasted the Adalwulf's blood.
>>
(The strange discordant chant rising over the beating of uncountable shields:)
>>5252018
Hark, in the days gone by
When Waldmar met Waldmar
In battle-din upon the spear-meadow
There was Iosaef Unbidden,
War-thane Of The Bright Mead-house
That was an ill King. He who looked
Upon the Falling Of The Five Hundred Banners
Woe, to the treasure-hoard, when his
Hunter's son did lie witless upon the swine-bed.
This was the age when toad-giver suffered the danger-hair
Upon the nameless whale-road, and one did claim another rutless,
Reddened the shield-rim of the man who begets men,
And the spear-shy looked upon deeds with face
Milk-agape. From the Wielder Of Triumph
Had come the war-tithe, that tribute of the East
Whose sea-steed cargoes had troubled
The strife-snatchers of Iosaef. In the Teutland
The queen of the Angles wept, in weary vigil
Their ward laid low in pyre gold-bereft.
For Olaefyr had seized their hard-fought spoils in haste,
And offered them to sate King Iosaef.
>>
Tamlyn looks up from the unfamiliar golden banner as you move to leave her and walk deeper into the forest. You can see now that the eagle emblem upon the golden banner is smeared with dark stains. Tamlyn seems alarmed by what you are doing.

- Grandmother Kospelina told us to stay away from the Old Forest! There are wolves lurking in the trees, they eat children! We should take this banner to her, she will know what it is...

You recognise the male voice that was calling you to your chores earlier. It is Skirnir, a friend from the village.
>>
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You can see a tangle of broken weapons and coins scattered in the grass between the dark trees ahead. It seems to be the aftermath of a battle.

>...?
>>
>>5265273
>Warily look around for danger.
>If we spot none then creep up and take a sword, a shield, take a bow and un-string it before sticking it and the bowstring in a quiver of arrows and looping the quiver over our shoulder and then begin pocketing coins. Do that in that order, keep an ear out for noises. We shouldn't be here.
>>
>>5265273
If we have trouble carrying all this while having the deer skull in our arms, then attempt to wear the deer skull like a lunatic on our head.
>>
>>5265273
Look around for signs of life, if it doesn't exist then try to scavenge a thing or two that could be useful.
>>
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>>5265319
>wear the deer skull

You have gained item:
Wildborn Shaman Skull Mask (Deer Skull)

When Iosaef Unbidden was chosen by the Jarls as war-thane of the Bright Mead-House, there was some consternation amongst the elders, particularly amongst those who had followed the Wielder Of Triumph before he was silenced. One drunken man broke into the great hall ranting and raving, wearing only animal pelts. Perhaps he had been possessed by the spirits of the Nameless Sea? The fate of this man is not known.
>>
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>>5265318
>>5265487
>Warily look around for danger
>try to scavenge a thing

Francisca (Throwing Axe)
Short Range, Swift, Shield-breaker, Weakness: Melee
Also known as a hurlebatte. Characterised by the inward curvature of the s-shaped axe head, designed to break or embed its weight into shields, thereby forcing the opponent to discard them. Even in skilled hands, this weapon would fare poorly in hand-to-hand combat.


You do not see bodies amongst the scattered weapons - many of which appear strange to you. The ground is fletched with the barbs of broken arrow shafts and shattered shields.

(Highborn)
You recognise these shields - the fyrd guards of the hill-fort at Esker Leath carry them. Why have they wandered so far from their patrol?

You know of three roads to the hill-fort: the Old Salt Road, patrolled by the fyrd; the Drover's Road, which encircles the hill-fort itself; and the Roguesmarch, a wild path through the old rynes and drowned fields lost to the marshes. It is not uncommon for brigands to attack those that travel over land - most merchants and wayfarers know that it is safer to bring goods over water and riverways. Yet even cut-throats avoid the old forest - the beasts that dwell there offer them no sanctuary.

Most of the weapons are too heavy to lift for your childlike arms. There is one small axe, with a shortened haft, embedded in the wood splinters.

You are creeping closer towards it, through the trees when you hear voices:
>>
-You fool, you let that woman get away! And where is the banner? Find it!

-We should not linger in these woods! They are haunted... ill spirits dwell here...

-But Unferth will make ghosts of us if we do not find that banner...

(The forest appears to darken)
>...?
>>
(some options, or write in. You have a feeling that if you reach for the axe, you may be seen...)

>Flee back to Tamlyn, and warn her. Perhaps find Skirnir and tell him that there are brigands wandering in the old forest?

>Creep forward, take the throwing axe and try and catch a glimpse of these brigands. It seems strange they have not looted the bodies

>Wait where you are and continue to eavesdrop on their conversation

(Thinking back to the Adalwulf)
>>5265247
>If you know the hooked emblem, perhaps that might frighten these marauders? Write-in what you think it is

>Throw the deer skull at them, whilst howling like the Blearie Queene
>>
Iosaef Unbidden
Chosen to take the great thane-seat by his people after none dared follow the path of The Wielder Of Triumph. He has waited for so long, and accomplished so little.
>>
Waldmar
Inheritor of the broken Mir; in his land they said the King is the slave of history. His foolishness is to forget that oaths mean nothing to a conqueror.

(and...?)

Waldmar
A Lord Of Laughter And Song later accursed to fight kindred of his own name. It is difficult to even tell them apart.
>>
>>5265553
>>Wait where you are and continue to eavesdrop on their conversation


>>Throw the deer skull at them, whilst howling like the Blearie Queene
>>
You hear a heavy stride trampling through the undergrowth ahead. The muttering and complaints of the men abruptly dwindles.

The cruel, mocking voice of Unferth cuts through the air:

-Here is your ghost, you cowards. And she has helped us find what we are after!

(You hear the muffled yelp of Tamlyn, as the brigands untense and laugh)
>>
Unferth continues:

-And you were late, Skirnir. You did not give the signal... or perhaps, you wanted to wait to see what we made of the battle? No matter, we slaughtered them all the same. Behold - why, these corpses must be the handiwork of the ghosts of the Old Forest! What else can explain it? (laughter from the brigands) The Tree has taken them now!
>>
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You hazard a furtive glance through the trees, and see what was a man, his flesh unwound like the wings of a bird.

Unferth continues:
-Leave all their armour and gold - you will receive more than ample reward when we return. If this does not frighten away the superstitious fools then we will return the old way and burn them all - but it may not come to that.

A brigand asks,
-And the girl, Unferth? What shall we do with her?

You hear the clink of a mail shirt as Unferth bends down, and clasps Tamlyn's face in his hands.

-Would you like to meet the birds, pretty one?

The flayed flesh of the hanging corpses swings in the wind...

>Throw the deer skull now
>Hurl the francisca, the throwing axe at Unferth. Try as you might, your hand is trembling with fear. What if you hit Tamlyn?

You realise that Unferth has been deceived by his men. They mentioned before that a woman had escaped. Is there some way you could use this?
>Walk out and boldly say: your plan will not work Unferth. A woman survived your ambush. She will unravel your lies!

>Something else...?
>>
>>5265650
>Walk out and boldly say: your plan will not work Unferth. A woman survived your ambush. She will unravel your lies!
>>
>>5265650
>>Hurl the francisca, the throwing axe at Unferth. Try as you might, your hand is trembling with fear. What if you hit Tamlyn?
nothing bad can ever happen to me
>>
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The deer skull upon your brow feels strangely warm, as if it is quickening with life. Perhaps it is emboldening you, filling you with courage. For a moment before you rise and taunt Unferth, you see a glimpse of a loping shadow in the forest, watching. A horned shadow.

Unferth's sneer drops dead, and he glances around furiously at the brigands gathered, who shift and squirm a little uncomfortably. He is muttering something under his breath to the warriors, whom you see flinch in response.

(The Francisca / small throwing axe in your hand has gained the property Concealed. Unferth has not seen it)

Swiftly you draw the Francisca and hurl it with all your strength at Unferth, as he is distracted. The brigands are too shocked to even respond. Tamlyn screams as the blade passes close to her face...

You see now that Unferth is clad in a thick twofold brynja (war-shirt, war-mail) where each pair of rings passes through four further pairs of interlinked rings. It would take a fearsome blow at very close range with a war axe or heavy spear to pierce through it - more strength than a mere child possesses. The throwing axe falls harmlessly to the ground.

After an astonished pause, Unferth regains his composure. His forehead furrows in mock amusement:

-Why - here comes the mighty axe warrior of the Firu Fortrenn! (Fortress People, those who dwell in the hill-fort) Their best warriors... well (Unferth glances at the corpses hanging in the trees) they met a sad end. And now they have sent this heroic child! Ah - of course, I should have known - the pretty bird had a noble protector to accompany her.

One of the brigands seems a bit wary:
-Unferth - he looks... Highborn. Look at his face, his eyes. We should let him be...

Unferth throws back his head and laughs at this.
-They all look the same when they dangle from the Tree. Seize him - and cut off that weakling axe-throwing hand of his first!

>Throw the deer skull NOW. You really, really want to believe the tales of beasts and ghosts in the Old Forest are true

>Shout something to Tamlyn. Her eyes are welling with tears.

>Wait, and let the Old Forest answer. (You will be seized by Unferth's brigands)

>Something else...?
>>
>>5265748
>Throw the deer skull NOW. You really, really want to believe the tales of beasts and ghosts in the Old Forest are true
>>
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>>5265693
>nothing bad can ever happen to me
(You stealth has improved - you are better at concealing weapons)
(You combat has improved - you think you can defeat a medium or small child in combat)

Desperately, you pull the Shaman Skull Mask from your head, and throw it at one of Unferth's advancing bloodthirsty warriors. He has drawn an axe of his own, and is eyeing the stump of your arm where your wrist will soon end. Your aim is better this time - the deer skull strikes him squarely in the forehead, eliciting a cry more of indignation rather than pain. The deer skull clatters to the ground, cracked, antlers broken.

(You have lost: Deer Skull)

Nothing happens at all. Unferth holds up his hand, and the axe warrior stops momentarily, rubbing his forehead.

-Wait-wait I said! Well, this is unbelievable! The whelp is still fighting, he has no fear at all! But perhaps if he fears not for his own life, it might be better if we not kill him after all. You see, after I take your hands, your tongue and your eyes, you will be left as a ruin. Other children will point at you and know that this is what becomes of foolish whelps who stray from the sunbeams and bright paths, and into the dark forest. And then you will beg for death! But none will pity you enough to provide it!

Unferth draws his sword.
>>5265246
You see the unnatural patterned blade shimmer, illuminated by the jewelled hilt encarmine. You close your eyes for you cannot bear to watch what comes...

Upon the trees the carrion birds rise and take to the grey skies in a cacophony of screams.
>>
Hieronymous Erde

-Now I say, Dallyforth- Dallyforth! Dallyforth, what are you doing- do you know of the Rectification Of Names? Or the Fourfold Division Of Nature? Alas, it is my fate that none shall ever recognise my immensely engorged, swollen, quivering... intellect. Alas, not even the Contessa, as beautiful and fragrant and delectable as she is! Do you know Dallyforth, I believe The Contessa is infatuated with elves. Elves! There are no such things! Imagine travelling all this way to visit a horrible wild dirty barbarian forest in the hope of meeting a handsome Elf Prince, who cannot possibly exist, when there is such a breathtakingly spectacular specimen of staggering, stupendous, sensational handsomeness and rapier-sharp wit united, in the very marvel of the man before you! Me! Yes, me! Me! Dallyforth- are you listening?
>>
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Dallywhimper, The Diffident Dungeoneer

(he replies timidly, adjusting his monocle)

I-I'm Da-Dallywhimper, sir...
>>
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>interject into this conversation. Perhaps you know something of The Rectification Of Names, or the Fourfold Division Of Nature?

>perhaps you know the Contessa?

>rage and seethe at the QM... did he really just horribly mutilate and kill our helpless character?
>>5265845

>(Something else...?)
>>
>>5265870
>Go back to the child POV. Surely he's OK and the tales of beasts and ghosts are true!
>>
>>5265870
>>perhaps you know the Contessa?
Scaring children is not very nice
>>
>>5265870
>Cripple Dallywhimper
>>
>>5265870
>interject into this conversation. Perhaps you know something of The Rectification Of Names, or the Fourfold Division Of Nature?
>>
>>5265870
>interject into this conversation. Perhaps you know something of The Rectification Of Names, or the Fourfold Division Of Nature?
>>
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Hieronymous Erde continues his interminable lamentations:
-Now I am under no illusions - the Contessa has many admirers. That horrid simpering Prince Gratian of Lorscheim for instance, he is not at all handsome. And there is something very untoward about how he is always surrounded by those maiden knights, with all those armoured bosoms and greatswords, it seems... very wrong. Now I am aware of the history of women warriors. I heard in the East, in Imperial Langkasuka Of The Lotus And Cannon, they have invented a ritual game, where they gather a hundred warriors and place them on an island, some of these warriors are even women, and they fight each other to the death until one remains. Most of the warriors are slaves and prisoners, but a few of these belluaires are even of royal blood! It is like a royal battle, for honour and glory! And there is some ceremony involving a ring of blue fireworks of some sort, that may be hearsay. But these warrior women are clearly barbarians. Not like the beauteous Contessa... if only I could find some way to get her attention, and end her infatuation with nonexistent Elves and Elf Princes...

Dallywhimper The Diffident Dungeoneer looks up hopefully:
- Perhaps, sir, you need the advice of a lady... that scarred sellsword woman guiding us, who knows these lands. What was her name again? Oh, I remember! Her name is -

>>5265902
>Cripple Dallywhimper
As Dallywhimper opens his mouth, on the verge of uttering his answer, a sudden blur hits him in the face -
>>
Shiveree Frog
A strange frog? Or toad?
It makes a curious croaking noise, that sounds like "Chivalry, chivalry!"
Or perhaps it is more like
"Shiveree! Shiver-REE! Shiver-REEEEE!"
What a strange frog.

>If you know of the Rectification of Names or the Fourfold Division Of Nature, you must write in your conversational rejoinder

alternatively,
>Write in what you know of the Contessa

>Write in if you remember the name of the scarred sellsword woman

>Something else...?
>>
>>5265246
Just started to reread. So Unferth's sword was used to strike the Adalwulf...

>>5265266
Among many familiar faces we have to deal with the return of a gender-bent Kospel...

>>5265491
anons are spirits from the Nameless Sea. Is it really still a nameless sea if we were to start wearing names?

>>5265532
All the POV shifting confused me a bit when I read this last night and started reading this morning, at first I thought this was the guy overlooking the shieldwall choosing how to approach the battle and not our child MC using his highborn knowledge. I didn't really have time for close reading last night.

>>5265552
Should've tried to use wild magic here I think.

>>5265642
Fuck...should've hidden the banner.

>>5265650
old way? Do they have wild magic or do they mean old hidden roads or what?

>>5265247
>>5265252
>>5265567
Guessing Adalwulf and Waldmar are one and the same?

>>5265870
Ah wait, is this us claiming to know something about it and not us asking him? Nevermind, changing my vote to...
>perhaps you know the Contessa?
>>
>>5265926
Pepe is that you?

I'm not sure if this Fourfold Division stuff involves knowing stuff from the previous quests, but if so it'll have to wait since I don't have time to go back and reread the old quests.

For other anons who have more time on their hands then Contessa was first mentioned in the first quest in the third playthrough when our POV was split between the Beggar-Knight and our newly promoted money-grubbing dude. I think she may also have appeared in the 2nd quest, Galerne I think it was. I can't remember, it has been a long time.

As for warrior women...I can't remember, I'll go back and look when I have the time, there were plenty of females combatants in every quest.

The division thing might have to do with the class divisions, or the different factions or the corruption and different metaphysical aspects, again I can't remember.
>>
>>5265926
Aqua. Terra. Flame. Aether. My grandmother used to tell me stories about the olden days, a time of peace when the Archmage kept balance between the Aqua Tribes, Terra Kingdom, Flame Nation, and Aether Nomads. But that all changed when the Flame Nation attacked. Only the Archmage mastered all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless flamewielders. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years had passed and the Flame Nation was nearing victory in the War. Someone's father and the men of their tribe journeyed to the Terra Kingdom to help fight against the Flame Nation, leaving a girl and her brother to look after their tribe. Some people believe that the Archmage was never reborn into the Aether Nomads, and that the cycle was broken. But they hadn't lost hope. They found the Archmage, who had returned to save the world.

It's a story my grandmother told me to explain Fourfold Division Of Nature.
>>
>>5265926
Kyriarch isn't it. Probably Marotte or Florence? That Harlequin?

ah, here are the four deviations...

I. To Reject The Great Freedom
Those that renounce their Everlasting Liberation beneath the Throne Of Stars and abjure The Sacrifice Of The Great Conquest Against Tyrants commit The Greatest Treason.

Show No Mercy to those that cast Salvation aside.

II. To Consort With The Unnatural
Those who seek to pollute the perfection of the human form, by performing unnatural acts of procreation, engenderment or solitary pleasure, thereby begetting the propagation of the aberrant and the abhuman, are singularly deserving of the most severe torment.

Only the sacred Scholar-Saints of the Imperial Censorate are permitted to pursue the eremitic path of Arcane Transcendence.

III. To Consort With The Machine
Those who seek to interrogate history, and unravel the Ancient Promises which bind machine-demons to Obedience, will themselves be interrogated.

Only the Magister-Savants of the Imperial Censorate possess the fortitude and rigour to discern Truth From Corruption.

IV. To Consort With The Adversary
To imperil the ordained fate of Highborn and Lowborn is to doom Humanity to extinction. To disseminate eschatological falsehoods that overturn order and Imperial Harmony is to invite destruction.

Only the Disciples and Preceptors of the Imperial Censorate can use untruth to serve the Throne Of Stars.


Addendum / Dignum Memoria / Nota Bene: dependent upon precise circumstances, none of these restrictions apply to Highborn.

from the first thread.
>>
>>5265926
"Contessa has a jade moth pendant, I've been so close to her as to smell her red rose perfume, you'll never touch her you simp, I know she throws pretend tantrums to draw concessions from simpering retards like you, but if you ignore her she plays the flirt and if you ignore her still she cries in rage at the ineffectiveness of her womanly charms. Hell I even know that the drapes match the carpet, I've been to her bed chambers in Nova Versaye in another land across the Nameless Sea, you'll never touch her you simpering retard"

>Insert more ranting crazy person ramblings about our knowledge of Contessa
>>
>>5265924
Wait a second...is this guy the Erling?
>>
>>5265943
>>5265952
>>5265957
>>5266009
(unfortunately, this is not it)
>Is it really still a nameless sea if we were to start wearing names?
(you have a feeling this is close, but what are the right names? What names correspond to reality?)
>>5265247
>>5265252
>>5265491

You launch eloquently into a beautiful elemental myth told to you by your grandmother.

Hieronymous waves at you dismissively, as he dispassionately and unsympathetically studies the gargling Dallywhimper, who is punching himself in the face as he attempts to battle and dislodge the frog squatting nonchalantly upon it.
-hmmm yes, yes... the Empedoclean cosmogony, all are familiar with this tale...

>Insert more ranting crazy person ramblings about our knowledge of the Contessa

At your mention of Versaye Palace, you suddenly draw the attention of Hieronymous Erde. He turns and gawks incredulously at you:
-So... you have met the Contessa?! You? You truly have met her? But how-How can this be? You are not even... Why would she grant you an audience? This cannot be tolerated! You must tell me...

There is a hard thump as someone smacks Dallywhimper hard from behind - he coughs and splutters, retching at the disgusting trail of amphibian slime smeared on his face. After inflicting much agony the Shiveree Frog mercifully leaps away, still croaking its bizarre warning: Shiveree! Shiver-REE! Shiver-REEEE!

Dallywhimper finally utters through choked breaths (still coughing and spluttering) -

Ta (coughs)-Tam Lin. Tamlene, Tamerlane? Tamlyn! That is the Scarred Sellsword Woman's name. (turning around, looking at who smacked him hard from behind) Oh-there she is! That was very kind of you, that frog will be the death of me! My thanks again, Tamlyn, my thanks for getting rid of that monster...
>>
>>5265845
When you open your eyes, the screams have died down to shuddering sobs. You arms are held pinioned firmly by Unferth's cruel brigands - but your hands are still your own. Instead, you see Unferth has drawn his sword across the face of Tamlyn. You cannot meet her gaze through her gasps - there is a lot of blood.

The deer skull and its broken antlers lies shattered and useless, beyond your grasp.

The francisca throwing axe has been cast aside. You tried your best, but what can the strength of a child do against these cruel men?

With a serene expression, Unferth wipes his jewelled sword across the prostrate and bleeding Tamlyn's back. He says to you:
- A lesson King Unbidden taught me, long ago. What is given by The God Upon The Tree can be taken only by death... but what to do against those who do not fear death? You injure those they love! King Unbidden is so very wise! Now, your turn, brave warrior. Hold out your arm... your sword arm... keep it very still...

>(SONG) Write in what your words are to Unferth The Cruel. Choose carefully, for they may be your last.

>(OATH) You have not the strength to defeat this evil foe. But you will fight to the end.

>(WILD) You must call out to the forest... really believe. Did it help you before? You feel like this is your last chance...
>>
>>5266059
>(OATH) You have not the strength to defeat this evil foe. But you will fight to the end.
>>
>>5266059
>>(WILD) You must call out to the forest... really believe. Did it help you before? You feel like this is your last chance...
>>
>>5266059
>(WILD) You must call out to the forest... really believe. Did it help you before? You feel like this is your last chance...
>>
>>5266053
I dunno, something something beowulf...

>>5265252
Still trying to parse this. So a long time ago Iosaef was ill, his son or his enemy's son was struck with mental illness(?), someone claimed a poorly traveled road, some eastern leader or guy with a special weapon came with recruited troops fulfilling their obligations came and bothered the enemies of Iosaef, some queen is sad, she may be the hostess of the ill son and had some money stolen from her by Olaefyr. I dunno, I'm not good at parsing this kinda stuff.

>>5266059
>(WILD) You must call out to the forest... really believe. Did it help you before? You feel like this is your last chance...

There was some shadowy horned creature we saw before.
>>
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Perhaps we are all dreams in the slumbering mind of the King Beneath The Mountain. When he wakes, will we cease to exist?

Origin: Child Of Two Worlds
You are pledged deeply to the WILD
- you rely upon magic to save yourself from greatest danger. But does the magic belong to you? Who is truly choosing?

You have some prowess to the OATH
- you do not fear battle, and seek out desperate, dangerous situations. Take care not to hurt others or yourself by mistake...

The SONG is greatly weakened in you.
Without it, you will never learn the truth of this world - you will be shaped by others, and bent to their will.
>>
>>5266067
>>5266074
>>5266080
>>5266098
>OATH
>WILD +3

The jewelled sword is raised high and you see it silhouetted against the dark arches of tree branches and rustling leaves. Then the wind itself seems to hold her breath, as Unferth the Cruel prepares to deliver the blow.

Tamlyn has turned - she fell very close to Unferth, as he cut her across the face. But through the rivulets of blood streaked across her eyes, you see she is clutching a shattered antler prong - from the deer skull you threw earlier, that broke - Tamlyn can reach it, though you could not.

Unferth's attention is focused entirely upon your outstretched wrist, held fast by his men. He does not see Tamlyn as she leaps upon him, jabbing him repeatedly in the neck with the broken antler. You see only a very small puncture of blood - there is more of her own upon him, than she has drawn.

Unferth is howling, flailing, struggling to fling the scarred girl clasped upon his back, screaming and jabbing at his neck - and then a horned shadow steps from the trees. It resembles a deer. A headless deer.

>(Write in...? Some options below)

>You must flee with Tamlyn, now. Scream at her to run

>Flee, on your own. (Write-in, where to?)

>Try and hurl the throwing axe at Unferth, again. Now he is thrashing and cursing, with Tamlyn stabbing him...

>Something else...?
>>
>>5266233
>You must flee with Tamlyn, now. Scream at her to run

Don't risk hitting Tamlyn, if we do pick it up then either throw it at an extremity or risk using it in melee targeting a foot or something to make up for the weakness of it in melee.
>>
>>5266233
>You must flee with Tamlyn, now. Scream at her to run
>Try and hurl the throwing axe at Unferth, again. Now he is thrashing and cursing, with Tamlyn stabbing him...

A parting gift
>>
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Thunder echoes across the distant ridges and valleys of stone - the voice of the King Beneath The Mountain, the voice that is The Wanderer, The Tamer Of The Slain, The Mover Of Constellations, The Ruler Of Treachery. Grey clouds, rain-burdened with his woe have gathered overhead.

(QM: The way I will rule this is you can take a single action or combination of actions as follows:

If you immediately flee on your own, you may choose to take one item from the strewn remnants of the battle. It can literally be the throwing axe, the francisca, or you can write-in some other preferences - I may adjust it based on what I know is available and what I know has previously occurred. The default technology level of this region is Dark Ages, Beowulf Anglo-Saxon Celtic Viking etc. Remember this section, and how they fight here...
>>5265159

Bear in mind though that you are running for your life. Also I hope you have an idea as to where you are going...

If you flee with Tamlyn, you must pull her away as Unferth and his brigands are distracted and horrified by the Headless Deer. You cannot take any items. Tamlyn, however, is less likely to get lost than you.

You can also write in if you have some idea of other actions to try. I will generally prioritise your first simple action, you may not get a chance to follow through with subsequent actions, if the situation becomes very desperate...

Also... write-in any priorities, people or locations you feel you need to visit, head towards, seek refuge etc. Otherwise, you might get lost...)
>>
>>5266281
Flee with Tamlyn, head back to Kospelina.
>>
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The old skalds called the storm and the winds the grief of the bramble, the wolf of the land. Into the rain you run, slipping and stumbling hand-in-hand with the wounded girl Tamlyn. Around you the trees lurch and groan, their foliage trembling.
>>
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You know not if you are followed or pursued. You know not even if you are running from Unferth, his murdering marauders, or the dead, headless deer itself. From what you witnessed as it gored the carcasses of his men, their entrails speared upon its severed maw of a neck with hooked prongs, talons and tusks that mocked the form of a stag crowned with antlers, you think it would kill you too had you lingered.

(Your allegiance to the Song is too weak. You cannot name this rite, or understand what you have unleashed)

For as long as you dwell in the forest, the Headless Deer will slaughter and change. It will hunt you too.

(All magick has a consequence - the price of the unnatural. Use it sparingly, lest you are lost to the Wild)
>>
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You run through the tangle of the storm-shaken trees for a long time. Eventually, Tamlyn stops, the patter of rain pooling in puddles of forest mud around her. She is turned away from you - you cannot see her wounded face in the downpour, the squall-cast shadows - as Tamlyn whispers:
-You threw an axe at me.
>>5265693
- Why did you miss? (clutching her wounded face) I wish you had hit me, sent me to the King Beneath The Mountain...

>Write in your response. Some options:

>Your face will heal, Tamlyn. Grandmother Kospelina will make it better...
(Warning: you do not believe in the cursed magic of Unferth's sword, and the jewel bound to its hilt. There may be a consequence to this...)

>Don't say such things! The Mountain listens, he will make it true...

>There are no gods in this world, Tamlyn. All the gods died, long ago.

>I think your face... has improved. Maybe you should worry less about your appearance and become better at fighting, I almost lost my hands...

>Turn Tamlyn around and look at her face... how bad is it...? (Maybe... don't do this)

>Just say nothing, continue to trudge towards Old Grandmother Kospelina's dwelling through the rain.

>Something else...?
>>
>>5266430
>"He was going to split open your back and spread the flesh like the wings of an eagle Tamlyn! I'm sorry, I was trying to save you! Come, let me see how bad it is, I'll bandage you."
>Try and get her to turn around and bandage her face with our shirt or something.
>>
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A sudden gust through the pelting rain, and the darkness between the trees writhes with madness. For a moment you see a noseless skull, a disfigured horror of a face...

(QM is so tempted... but on the qtg anons want noblebright hehe)
>>5266327
>>
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>>5266525
>I'm sorry, I was trying to save you!
>Try and get her to turn around and bandage her face with our shirt or something

(The WILD is weakened)
(The SONG is strengthened)

...what you ask for shall not be withheld, for I think Skofnung well bestowed if you bear it. But the nature of the sword is such that the sun must not shine upon its hilt, nor must it be drawn if a woman should be near. If a man be wounded by the sword the hurt may not be healed, unless the healing-stone that goes with the sword be rubbed there on...

The Laxdaela Saga, Chapter LVII, 1018 AD
translation here:
http://mcllibrary.org/Laxdaela/chapter57.html
http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_sword.htm

Tamlyn turns. Her face seems bruised, and there is blood seeping from a shallow cut on her scalp. Perhaps Unferth merely struck her with the pommel? It does not look too bad.

So much has occurred, so quickly... You were all merely playing, teasing and frolicking, by the sunbeams and flowers near the Old Forest Of Idols. You found the Oriflamme and the brigands. You fought as best as you could... but you nearly lost your hand. You are still not quite sure how you escaped. Was it something you did? Or Tamlyn? Maybe the brigands were just distracted by a stray deer?

You recall the old tales of the skalds, cursed swords that inflict wounds that never heal, unless granted the mercy of the magic stone or jewel bound to their hilt (lyfsteinn). You think it is a ridiculous story. A rock could never knit flesh rent by a sword-blow. The skalds must be exaggerating, embellishing, maybe just lying. And mercy... that does not sound like a word from this land. It sounds like the word of priests, the word of Unferth's god, the mercy of Iosaef wielded by his God Upon The Tree. It cannot be true.

Despite your kind intentions (obligatory Twilight-tier film scene of naked suddenly more manly chest in the rain, torn clothing / improvised bandages) Tamlyn shoves you back:
-Get away from me! Your... oafish, axe-throwing hands! I don't want them near my face... it hurts! Go away!

Tamlyn dashes away into the trees. In the murk and gloom you feel confused and lost. You think you are quite close to Old Grandmother Kospelina's abode... but what to do?

>Chase after her... but where did she go?
>Just sit down for a moment, on your own. A lot has happened.
>Tamlyn is... so annoying! You saved her, and she responds with a tantrum! You can find Old Grandmother's Abode by yourself. It is pretty close...
>Something else...(write-in. You always have the option to think about a topic to see if you remember any lore, eg think about the gods, the King Beneath The Mountain, other topics etc)
>>
The winds and the rain are relenting but the trees here are contorted into grotesque shapes, clawing at the darkened skies. Old Grandmother Kospelina's Abode is very, very close. You remember her dwelling is near water, across a pond. Perhaps if you follow a stream, find a river, it will lead you to her?

You are trying to find the familiar path to Old Grandmother's dwelling but the storm has unsettled you. All the trees look wrong. And ahead, you notice one very peculiar tree. Its trunk is crooked and gnarled, bent almost as if it resembles a living person, outstretched arms raised in supplication. The lower leaves are verdant and green yet the uppermost leaves on this tree are withered, and there is an odd, bleached-white orb lodged and tangled near the highest branches. Piled near the roots of the tree you can see offerings - a metallic gleam.

You wonder if this is some sort of Tree Shrine. But to what god have the offerings been made? Is this The God Upon The Tree?
>>
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(You can see metal and gold tangled in the vines and greenery upon the lowermost part of the peculiar twisted tree. The upper branches reaching towards The Great Dark Sky are withered)

>You have a vague memory of Tree Shrines, surrounded by weapons... they are NOT good. You have a very strong suspicion towards those who worship trees, claim to embrace nature... you have a feeling they are misrepresenting what the Wild actually is and can become. Stay away from this Tree Shrine, and on no account even look at that strange white skull-sized sphere lodged in its branches...

>But... there might be weapons offered beneath this Tree Shrine, you really need a weapon! You can almost see one... maybe just creep over slightly and have at look at what that metallic gleam is all about...

>Maybe The God Upon The Tree is an elf? An Elf Prince? You really want to see handsome elves! (Far away, the Contessa sighs inconsolably)

>The God Upon The Tree intrigues you and you want to become a devoted disciple. Kneel before the Tree Shrine and receive its blessing

>Something else...? Where is Tamlyn? (write in what you would like to do)
>>
Ferryman Figurine
An offering placed before a Tree Shrine, carved from sacred wood brought from far lands across vast distances, stars cast upon the waters of the Nameless Whale-Road.
>>
>>5266724
>Chase after her... but where did she go?
Don't get lost now...

>The God Upon The Tree intrigues you and you want to become a devoted disciple. Kneel before the Tree Shrine and receive its blessing
>>
Lost somewhere in the pathless forest of your thoughts is a yearning to find Tamlyn... but she cannot have run that far. She is perhaps just a little upset, you did try your best to offer her some consolation. Girls can be so wilful!

Besides, Old Grandmother Kospelina's abode is so close, surely you must be safe here?
>>
As suddenly as it began, the rain clouds and storm from the mountains subsides. Perhaps the God Upon The Tree is stronger than the King Beneath The Mountain? You are not sure what to believe, but you are truly entranced by this peculiar twisted tree and the offerings beneath it. Maybe you could make use of them...?

(You have gained: Ferryman Figurine)

(The SONG is GREATLY STRENGTHENED)
>>
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On another world there is an old tale known to many, of man and maiden, lured before a Tree of Temptation.

The Tree had branches that spanned the stars and roots that bound the bones of the mountains.

It was known by many names, but one forgotten name was Laeradr, the Harm-Tree. The Betrayer's Tree: the one who made the greatest sacrifice, who hung there inverted for wisdom. The myths spoke of creatures that sheltered beneath the leaves of this tree, and a deer that bit at its leaves, dying.
>>
Kneeling before the Tree Shrine, you can now clearly see there is some sort of broken spearhead, embedded deeper into the side of the twisted tree like a wound under the tangle of vines. Serpents wrought in gold are entwined around the broken remnant of its spear-haft. You would have to reach much further in to examine it.
>>
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Broken Elf Spear?
Could it be? Are there really... elves in the Old Forest? Please let it be true!
>>
You are startled by a voice behind you - it is an old voice, though not unkind. The Hooded Man says:

-I would leave that be, if I were you. You have already set in place many things. Tell me - do you know what magic is?

>You must imitate your best astonished hobbit face and say: Gandalf? (eyes mouth agape) is that you?

>Reply: Words. Words and Names.

>Magic is pillars of flame, sky-fire, winds and storms.

>Myths and legends are magic

>Magic belongs to the dead gods. Not to men

>The Trees are magic?

>Magic is change in conformity with will.

>(thinking of Ymmanuil, Hieronymous Erde etc.) Magic is natural philosophy, alchemy, metaphysics? Hermeneutics?

>(thinking of science) We will know the Laws Of Nature some day, but that time has not yet come to pass.

>(you think this is some sort of ancient future setting?) Magic is what the men of old have forgotten.

>(very advanced: thinking of money, capitalism lol) He who wields the treasure-hoard is the true magician. Also, are you a vampire sorceror?

>Reply - have you ever seen this strange talking frog?

>Just say: I do not know what magic is.

>Something else?
>>
>>5267032
>Stab him with something while he’s distracted. He will be a sacrifice for the tree.
>>
>>5267032
>Reply: Words. Words and Names.

Man I need to read your other quests to get caught up on the lore hug
>>
Ok, I don't understand SHIT about this, but I like the V i b e s
A anon said something about there being other quests, so I would like the link of the archive and maybe hope to understand the weird shifts of POV, the fuckton of names and the way this is written. Because being a ESL is being hard for me in this bitch
>>
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>>5267065
>>5267065
>Stab him with something while he’s distracted. He will be a sacrifice for the tree.

(The WILD is GREATLY STRENGTHENED)

The Headless Deer has changed
You Are Being Hunted

A twisted serpent is uncoiling inside you - perhaps provoked by what you have seen carved upon the strange broken spear.

If this is the Betrayer's Tree, The Harm-Tree Laeradr, surely there will be no more fitting rite than to take the life of this Stranger, this Hooded Man before it? You possess no weapon, but your eyes flit furtively towards the spearhead embedded inside the Tree. You are imagining its weight in your hand, its sharp edges - the blade is strangely entwined with a dream vision of the skull of the Headless Deer, summoned (eventually) to draw blood at your command...
>>
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Imunlaukr
Swift, Coup-de-grace, Witchbreaker
Short Reach, Cursed: Withering, Cursed: Haunted, Treacherous

A strange blade of the wild forest. Its curious name in the kennings of the skalds means battle-leek. It withers those it strikes.
>>
You stab again and again until you are breathless. All that remains is a dessicated skull on a stick of bone. Around you, the grass is scorched into sand and ash. You feel dazed, faint...
>>
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Wooden Sword... And A Paddle?
A toy sword, crudely assembled from a wand of brushwood retrieved from The Old Forest Of Idols. In the hands of an imaginative child, it could become anything. Sometimes naughty children become too eager to play with their toys, so their elders take them away. Other times? Well...
>>
>>5267068
>Reply: Words. Words and Names.

(The Song has been lost. You can no longer name the lore of the ancient rites)

You have gained: Wooden Sword
(unfortunately, you do not get the paddle, hehe)

You are not sure if you are sitting, standing, kneeling or lying down. Everything looks like a whirling spiral.

Somehow as the trees and forest spin around you, the voice of the Old Hooded Man is still speaking in your head. But all is a blur and smear of curling and coruscating light. You feel very sick.

The Old Hooded Man continues,
-I think you know what magic is, you have shown it. Yet your answer is wrong. You see, a thing can have many names. Which is the true one? Your friend Tamlyn has many names. The war-thane of Mir, Waldmar - some call him Waldemar, Voldimer, there are so many ways to spell it! Ha, spells, spelling. You see this is magic! Names and words cannot be relied upon. You can call anything by a different name. Does that change it?

>Ask the Old Hooded Man his name

return to the greentext
>>5267032
and choose another option...

>Write in what you think magic is?

>Something else? (you feel very sick...)

>Tearfully beg the Old Hooded Man: please... make the spinning stop... I am getting really dizzy...
>>
Odd timing, but I just saw The Northman last night.

>>5266722
QM, don't do what some people who may not even be playing your quest want, do what you and your actual players want.

You seem to have like 4 players this quest, and I've been one of your only 2 consistent players in all your previous quests, pay attention to them not the equivalent of chat room buddies and archive readers/table-top streamer watchers.

>>5267087
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=tarot

Go to November 2021 start with Invultua, read Galerne next, then read Golgotha and the Golgotha meta thread.

>>5267142
Fuck, I wanted to ditch the wild and go full song and oath, wild magic is way too unreliable despite it being probably being the most certain way of getting out of that early situation without having avoided it entirely.

>Please, I beg of you, stop the spinning!
>Yes, it does change the nature of the thing itself, things change with the telling!
>Puke, void our sickness in desperation.
>>
>>5267196
>Please, I beg of you, stop the spinning!
>Puke, void our sickness in desperation.

You are trying to throw up, hoping that it will make the nausea stop. But to your horror, you find you cannot feel anything... you have no body at all. You remember the dessicated skull on a stick, that you struck with the withering cursed blade... is that what you have become? A shrivelled, waterless husk?

Then with a sudden heave you throw up. The world has stopped revolving around you, and you realise you have befouled yourself with what can only be described as a revolting stench.
>>
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The Old Hooded Man bursts into bellowing laughter.

>>5267196
>Yes, it does change the nature of the thing itself
>things change with the telling!

Somehow you blubber this through slobbering gobs and long trails of spittle and partially regurgitated matter. You realise you have fallen flat upon your face, and there are clods of bitter earth and soil in your mouth.

The Old Hooded Man squints at you curiously. It is an ugly expression, for you can see he possesses only one good eye - the other eye drooping, almost seared shut. Finally, he laughs again:
-You have not shamed yourself. You must tell all the tale of how you murdered a Great Evil-Doer, a great wizard! It was a mighty battle! I feel your mortal blow upon me now, ha, ha! But I think you understand, though you did not express it... as I expected it, at first. Things change, depending upon how they are told! So another way of saying this is... magic is lies! A wizard is a liar!

(You are not sure if there are two, three, four or five overlapping visions of the Old Hooded Man Now. Your vision churns and all seems unfocused and blurred. You still feel nauseous and very dizzy. Nonetheless he continues:)

-Now Bolverkr, The Baleful One, The Great Evil-Doer (ha, ha!) is just one of my many names. I have been called that very often. I am known also as The Bearer Of Burdens, The Slain Tamer, The Wandbearer; The Hooded One, The Blind Wanderer, The Songfather (Galdrafodr), The Gallows-catcher... I have many epithets. As I said, the names do not matter. Only the lies! The lies are the magic!

Suddenly, The Hooded Man, The Great Evil-Doer, turns mournfully away from you. He whispers,
-You do not know of the lies. You are just a weakling child.
>>
When your vision clears, the Old Hooded Man is gone. There is merely the cawing of birds rising from the trees - strangely you do not see the twisted tree with the tangled spear at all. Instead you twitch, startled by the sudden crack of a footstep on a twig.

Tamlyn is here. She is approaching you with a remorseful expression on her wounded and bleeding face:
-I am sorry about earlier... I know you were only trying to help, doing your best - (she wrinkles her nose suddenly, in disgust) urgh! Urgh! What-what is that smell? You... urgh! You! You really are a disgusting, oafish, uncaring, wild wretch! Urgh! Get away!

You want to reply, but unfortunately as a wild wretch, you actually retch uncontrollably again. Some of it flies onto Tamlyn. She runs back into the trees, escaping you.

Mission (optional)
Find a way to make amends with Tamlyn

You are alone when you see Old Grandmother Kospelina's Abode ahead. Her dwelling is upon a small hillock, partially recessed into an enormous old tree besides a burbling brook and pond. As you approach it, you see a dark feathered shape take off into the sky. You swear the shape appears to have horns.

The door to the dwelling is slightly ajar, but you do not see anyone inside or around. Behind the hut and tree itself, you can hear a girl humming a lilting melody.

>Tamlyn? Is that you there?
>Walk around and see who it is.
>Walk into the hut through the ajar door
>(Something else...?)
>>
The Horned Owl
>>
>>5267334
>Respond with a song/tale of our own
>Sing of Bolverkr. The Baleful One. The Great Evil-Doer… The Liar!
>>
>>5267344
>Sing of how we slain him beneath the betrayer tree… A lie of our own?!
>>
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>>5267344
>>5267348
>Sing

You wonder if you have tricked the Great Evil-Deed Doer, The Old Hooded Man. Would it not be clever, if (admittedly, in a very humiliating manner) after you failed to murder him beneath the Betrayer's Tree, you tricked him into boastfully betraying his own Name instead? What did he say it was? Bolverkr? Perhaps you can weave this into a song...

You open your mouth to incant his name: Bolverkr. A braying sound comes out.

You try again, and this time it sounds like a sort of barking croak, as if a wolf had swallowed a particularly eloquent frog.

To your growing horror, you find you can no longer speak. The laughter of the Old Hooded Man, The Great Evil-Deed Doer, echoes in your ears...

(You wrought a magic greater than you could comprehend when you summoned the withering cursed blade beneath the Betrayer's Tree. In doing so, you surrendered completely to the Wild, and lost the Song. You cannot even speak words at all...)

Panic is rising with the alternating chorus of braying, squealing and guttural throat sounds gargling from your mouth. You have a horrible premonition that the next step towards the Wild will see you fall to your hands and knees, lose the ability to even stand and walk upright...

>How to fix this? How? (write-in)
>When you find this Great Evil Deed-Doer, you are going to... wait, that will not help. Perhaps you know his true name? Will uttering that change things? But each time you get it wrong - what will happen...?
(write in?)
>Just ignore your inability to speak for the time being, pretend you are a normal person.
>Something else?
>>
>>5267364
>How to fix this? How? (We don't yet, sulk and play with our wooden sword pretending to be a handsome knight, a well-traveled bard, this may be the last time we walk as humans do)
>Finish sulking outside the abode and creep inside to see who left the door ajar, maybe if it is Kospelina she can help us.
>>
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There is a strange toad in the pond by Old Grandmother's Abode. It huffs its chest at you contemptuously, as if sensing a rival.
>>
You look at the wooden sword, think about playing with it - but it makes you feel like a silly child. Your ears suddenly redden with the taunt of that horrible, evil Hooded Old Man. Why is a mighty wizard tormenting a weakling child, turning them into animals, but so very slowly... He... he should be flinging spells and scorching cruel murderers like Unferth! Not mischievous murderous children, like you... The thought makes you want to almost cry in frustration, but instead of sobs, you can only manage some noises in between mewling and croaking.

The interior of Old Grandmother's dwelling always appears larger on the inside than on the outside, as it sinks into the trunk of the old tree. The interior is suffused in a warm orange glow, the scent of herbs and spices by a gently steaming fire-lit cauldron. There are small effigies of twine and twigs dangling from the roof beams, lantern cages of candles, trinkets and chimes, beads, pebbles and feathers scattered all around. Of Old Grandmother Kospelina herself, no sight is to be found.

Before you can search the surroundings further, a shadow glides behind you -
>>
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It is the hidden humming girl you heard earlier. She has completely white hair. The girl says solemnly:
- You smell very strange. Are you looking for Old Grandmother Kospelina? No need, she is dead. Farewell!

>Say desperately: wh-what happened?
>You are completely and utterly doomed. QM can we restart from a reloaded savepoint. Somehow, the noblebright no injury wounding grimdark gore death is even worse...
>write-in?
>>
>>5267482
"Murderous children"

Hey! We haven't murdered anyone yet! Evil-doers don't count, especially since we aren't even sure we did him in.

>W-wait! Who are you? What happened to Kospelina? Are you related to her? (Just a guess because she also called her grandmother)
>Realise we can only make animal noises
>Look around for stuff so we don't starve in the middle of nowhere

Also, are we still doing the whole "If a character dies they stay dead even in the next world/quest"? I'm sad I missed my chance to finally get revenge on Kospel, but on the other hand I'm glad he's dead. At least I think...was it Kospel I wanted revenge on or someone else?
>>
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Marabet, The White-Haired Humming Girl

(Marabet grins wickedly. But then she returns to a solemn expression, as she replies)

-I tricked you, silly! (humming) La-la-la. Old Grandmother Kospelina is not dead, ...yet. But, she will be. Soon. The Queen is very old. I can see the future, you know. La-la-la. Old Grandmother says, I am very good at it. You smell strange! Like a frog. I licked a frog once, it tickled! La-la-la. Or maybe it was a toad. I tricked you again! La-la-la. Old Grandmother says, we shouldn't tell lies. It is not fair! The Elders do it all the time. Do you know a Song? I like Songs. What strange toys you have! They look like Songs. Do you want to see my doll? Well you can't. Elders don't want girls to play with dolls. Elders want to play at fighting battles. But when I grow up, I am still going to play with dolls! Your toy boat looks pretty. It looks a bit like Death. Do you want to grow up and be an Elder? You like fighting. You should set fire to your toy boat and sink it. Over water. But only when you are ready! That happened recently. I was going to predict it, la-la-la. No I wasn't! Maybe I already did. La-la-la. Do you have a friend? She is going to die too. You should give her a gift. I like gifts! It might make her feel better. See, I have all the answers! You can ask me and I just tell you. Even thanes and King Coppernose asked me things. They fight and tell lies all the time, and lose all the treasure. But that is a secret! Old Grandmother says we are playing hiding. I like games!
>>
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Straw Doll
It is a plain doll that might be the toy of a child. A scarecrow is meant to frighten, for the harvest is protected by fear. An effigy is sometimes pulled apart and cast into the black soil to restore the land. Those that follow the Song often tell this tale.
>>
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>>5267514
>W-wait! Who are you? What happened to Kospelina? Are you related to her? (Just a guess because she also called her grandmother)
>Realise we can only make animal noises

You open your mouth and remember the Old Hooded Man's curse. You wonder if there is a way to undo it? You look down at your vomit-strewn clothes, from when you threw-up after your mighty wizard-battle.

>Look around for stuff so we don't starve in the middle of nowhere
You do not feel hungry at all - quite the opposite, for just the thought of eating makes you feel a bit sick again.

(You have gained: Straw Doll, from searching Old Grandmother Kospelina's Hut. There are many trinkets here, but this seems like a special one)

Marabet is a peculiar name - it sounds like she is named after something. You remember what the Old Hooded Man mentioned about names. They are not reliable, they are "spells" and can be spelt or pronounced differently. Maraved? The way the white-haired girl Marabet spoke sounded a bit like this, but she speaks so strangely. Maybe it is all just nonsense. You do not think it will help you, right now.

Child Of Two Worlds
You possess:
Wooden Sword
Straw Doll
Ferryman Figurine

You possess the following traits:
Songless
Unclean
Cursed: Beast-tongue
Repulsive Stench (vomit stains)

(QM: a reminder that there are no negative traits in my games. It is possible to use seemingly negative descriptors to your advantage, if you wish to keep them)

>...? (Write-in what you would like to do)
>>
Mission:
- Retrieve the healing amber stone from the sword of Unferth, who scarred the face of the Atheling's daughter
>>5265163

(optional)
- Find a way to make amends with Tamlyn
>>5267334

QM: if you want, you can ignore every mission and write-in your own. For example:
- undo the Beast-tongue curse of the Old Hooded Man
- Give Tamlyn a gift
- Set fire to a boat over water (but only when you are ready)
- Discover the meaning of Marabet's name
- Discover the name of the Old Hooded Man, The Great Evil Deed-Doer

- Help Hieronymous Erde catch the attention of the Contessa
- Meet the Handsome Elf Prince (can it be true...? Are there really elves in this game?)
>>5265854
>>
>>5268132
Ah, good, either we can still talk a little or she can understand us.

>>5268143
>Think of what we know of the Blearie Queene, Songs, Lies, the King Beneath The Mountain, and the Great Dark Sky then ask Marabet about what she knows about these things and compare what she knows of them to what we knew of them. Also, who the fuck is King Coppernose, and who are the Elders? What does she know of the Betrayer's Tree and Imunlakr and elves? Just vomit forth all the questions about everything, she clearly responded to us initially, so she can understand us.

>If she can't understand us then go outside and talk to the toad and tell him to translate for us. If he is resistant then just take a bath in the pond while we think of a way to convey our thoughts to Marabet

I know you don't like multiple or contingent greentexts, but this isn't a case of me wanting to do all of them, just do one if the other doesn't work out as I indicate, or interrupt with her response or whatever happens next. This is just how I think or vote, not 'metagaming' or whatever it was you accused me of in a previous quest.

>>5268177
>undo the Beast-tongue curse of the Old Hooded Man
>Give Tamlyn a gift

Take these as optional missions.
>>
I'm sleeping now, some other anons will have to take over and vote during the night as they usually seem to do.
>>
>>5268177
+1
and
>Clean ourselves
>>
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King Coppernose
An unseen demon of avarice and war that arose from the greed and gold-hoard of Kings. The demon is unseen and invisible, taking many forms, that of a treasure-plague that gnaws upon the souls of men, driving them to borrow weapons and murder others in madness. Those gentle prudent souls who lend their hoard in kindness and foolishness suffer greatly. Yet another form of this demon in times of war and want is a raging conflagration that burns all wealth. The greed-demon is so greatly feared upon many lands that Kings have commanded the confiscation of all coins, jewels and treasure, resulting in only barter, debt and enslavement amongst the populace. It is said that the Greed-Demon cannot be slain by cuts of blades or weapons - it can only be bound to a heavy rock or soul-anchor, as it bides its time to be unleashed yet again.

The true name of King Coppernose is hidden from this world.
>>
Usurer's Knife
An instrument of mercy and pain wielded in the rites of merchant sorcerors, Followers Of The Pentacle And The Unbidden Court, the mercenary witchcraft of magicians fallen amongst brigands and thieves. Cutting the flesh of sacrifices produces exuberant pangs of ecstasy, bleeding and bringing devotees closer to the Greed-Demon, King Coppernose. To raise the Usurer's Knife is a terrible omen, for it is said that one nameless magician once stood alone upon an ancient battlefield, drew this blade, and pierced and punctured the foul blister of delusions around the Greed-Demon's battle-banner, ending his cruel rampage.
>>
Five Hundredfold Banner (Havenless Oriflamme)
Oracle banner coveted by brigand knights, a feared standard amongst the poor.
Inscribed with five hundred names of the old gods, though there is some bickering over those cast aside or forgotten.
Those devoted to the Oriflamme claim to have witnessed visions, wreathed in an ephemeral torrent of glyphs and flickering, prophetic numerals; when the banner falls, a great doom is said to await the world.
>>
>ask Marabet about what she knows about these things
>go outside and talk to the toad
>take a bath in the pond

For a moment, you are hopeful. Perhaps this nonsensical white-haired girl-child can understand your animal squeals, croaks and grunts?

Yet soon you are dismayed to find she prattles nonsense at you whatever you say, in between humming her infuriating snippets of song. You leave her to try and find the Contemptuous Toad, by the pool near the babbling stream.

The toad has waddled away, but the water surprises you - it is pleasantly warm, tingling and fresh. You soak a little in the pool, washing off the horrible-vomit smells and stains.

For the time being, all the worries you had seem very distant and hazy. You think you have found a Sanctuary here. A place nestled in moss and flowers, safe enough to doze, and dream...

You possess the traits:
Songless

You have lost conditions:
Unclean
Cursed: Beast-tongue
Repulsive Stench (vomit stains)

QM note:
You can attempt to think about any topic or lore any time you want - the effect is vastly strengthened if you do so whilst resting at a Sanctuary, but weakened outside of it with the Songless condition. The Song attribute affects you ability to recall lore, Words, Names and Rites. Without the Song, you cannot name any spells.

You think upon some of the names the Old Hooded Man revealed to you. He is The One-Eyed Wanderer, the Songfather, the Gallows-Burdened... perhaps sometimes bearing a curse can aid you, if you are willing to suffer through it?

>>5267427
>play with our wooden sword, pretending to be...
>>
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Location: Behind The Shield-Wall (Before The Battle)

-If I hear any more animal noises, any clucking, any braying, I am going to gut the next living thing I see, I swear it upon Lunfardo's dangling teats -

Bastich The Swindler, knife drawn, is angling his blade against the neck of The Terrified Jester, Learmont The Rhymer.
>>
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Learmont The Rhymer, a Jester
>>
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Cadarn Of The Thunderstruck Rood glances up wearily at his maddened, ranting companion. Rubbing his eyes laden with fatigue, he says:
- Leave him be, Bastich. Save your anger for the battle and the shield-wall. Besides, you have only yourself to blame. You led us here.

Bastich scowls:
- There are no women here. Not even moderately effeminate men. This battle is a joke - worse than your stupid impersonations and rhymes, Learmont (glancing at the terrified Jester). What there is: chickens, cattle, swine. It is like a farm cattle-house, a byre camped around with grunting men armed with sharpened sticks. They have no firearms! They do not even have many bowmen! Something about the iron being too precious here to leave the hand, to waste upon arrowsheads lost or taken by your foes. We are all going to be killed.

The Jester, Learmont, foolishly opens his mouth to stutter:
-Bu-But if King Iosaef h-had not issued his d-decree, forbidding the coast to trade iron, grain and weapons wi-with these p-people, black powder from East G-Galerne...it... it is not their fault...

Bastich explodes with rage.
- What did I JUST SAY?! No more braying or animal noises! All I hear from you is bleating! You are like an ugly, disgusting little lamb! Baaa! Baaa! BAAAA! I am going to stab you now... look I am doing it... by Lunfardo's shrivelled wriggling worm-pecker I am stabbing you...

You walk past this scene as you meander, wandering amongst the battle campfires.

From Unferth's shield wall, a solitary warrior is crossing the divide, approaching your side and brandishing weapons, boasting and taunting, incoherently bellowing a challenge and trying to rile up a fight.

Everyone on both sides ignores him.
>>
QM: Decide what weapons you are carrying or war-gear. Anything from the Dark Ages era is permitted, that you can reasonably expect to carry on your back and two hands. For example:
-a shield, an axe, a spear, a seax (knife/short sword) - one of everything. This is the default choice.
-two shields, a spear, an axe; (defensive)
-two throwing-axes, two spears; (ranged, long reach. No defense)
-war-mail, a sword, a shield
-(advanced, you think you are Beowulf lol) carry no weapons, no armour, nothing at all. Walk around barechested like in the old tales...

You can carry a wide selection of weapons, but this may encumber and slow you.

The exceptions: if you want a sword, you will need to borrow one (the story will explain later).

If you want war-mail (armour), you are limited to only two additional items, eg
-armour, sword, shield;
-armour, two axes, etc.

You can carry a bow. Everyone at the war-camp will laugh at you and think you a weakling coward. You may get called nicknames like Prancing Elf Boy etc. You will probably be sent to die first.

You can cheat. (Evil QM taunting: Try this, hehe) Ask for plate armour. Ask for something like a mace, a war-flail, a crossbow, a greatsword. A halberd or glaive. In Langkasuka some sword-saints carry strange badaoshu blades. Better yet, why not ask for a gun? (Evil QM cackles wickedly in anticipation)

You receive in addition to whatever you choose a small, Francisca throwing axe, because of your scavenging here:
>>5265532

>Choose from options above, or write-in whatever weapons you want.
-If you want to play by the rules, use Dark Ages (Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Viking-era) type weapons
-If you want to cheat... be warned there may be surprising consequences... hehe
>>
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War Helm
>>
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Mail War-Shirt (Brynja)
>>
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Seax
>>
Spear
>>
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Axe
>>
Sword
- if you choose this, you must borrow one
>>
Shield
>>
>>5268377
Mail, Spear, Shield
Maximum survivability
>>
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(QM: This choice remains open for the time being, to give players the chance to discuss or change their selection on an ongoing basis until a final story confirmation. You can write-in any weapons you want. Meanwhile I will continue with the narrative:)

Cadarn studies The Swindler Bastich, as he menaces the cowering jester Learmont with his dagger. He says:
-Do you ever think, Bastich, that perhaps we chose the wrong side? I have never met this Waldmar before. They say he venerates the accursed symbol of the Beasts, his followers openly carry it upon their banners. I do not know this Beast-God, this Beast-Father. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I think all this has come about because of the Interregnum. There are too many Kings now, they are bursting out all over the ground like Dragon's Teeth of old. And the Kings cannot abide each other. They no longer even accept tribute or tithes, they blockade villages and towns like brigands and strangle the land instead...

Bastich rolls his eyes. He turns and lowers the blade - Learmont notably breathes out in relief - as Bastich slaps the pommel of his dagger against his own forehead:
-Woe betide the belly-udders of Lunfardo's daughters, the bleating of this idiot (glancing at the jester) has finally gotten to you too! It is very simple. This war is about land. I fight for coin. I use the coin to find women! If women are not available, effeminate men will do! But none of this is to be had in this pigsty of a battle-camp! I am stuck here waiting to be killed. You and the jester man are bleating! When will the killing begin?

A rumbling, ominous horn is echoing across the divide, accompanied by a clangorous drum. Abruptly, though, the signal ends.

Learmont is pointing with a trembling finger in the direction of Unferth's camp
-The-the Fourfooted B-Beast... its symbol...

Bastiche shrieks:
-By the milking gash between Lunfardo's third harlot's buttocks, will you STOP bleating, I will KILL you... (mimes stabbing near-misses into Learmont's face dramatically)

Cadarn glances over at the enemy banner raised over Unferth's side. He scoffs, bemused
-So that is what the emblem is...
>>
Intervene in this conversation:
>There should only be One High King. Kill all that do not kneel to him.
>Iosaef Unbidden
>Waldmar
>Waldmar - I mean, the other one?
>Waldmar Arrow-Caller
>I am going to be King some day. You should all kneel before me.

>The thanes should learn to live in harmony, even if incessant war and slaughter ensues whenever they squabble and disagree
>The Interregnum should continue. The suffering of the land makes for good tales and songs!
>I will follow whoever pays me most
>Can someone lend me a sword? Maybe a gun? Or some other weapons? (Bastich waves his knife in rage...)

>You know the cursed symbol of the Beast-Mark referred to here.
>>5265247
Write-in what you think it is.

>Look at the cursed banner directly yourself. You do not fear it.

>Examine the champion that came to taunt your side - the warrior is still hurling insults, frothing and spitting, brandishing weapons. Perhaps you can kill him?

>Persuade someone to humiliate the champion:
>Cadarn
>Bastich
>Learmont (he will defeat him... with comedy)

>Try and find Unferth somehow?

>Something else?
>>
>>5268726
Other topics you can try:
>Who or what is Lunfardo?
>What are a jester and two thieves doing on a battlefield? Are you spies? Traitors? Deserters from somewhere?
>(looking at Learmont) who is your master, jester? What court did you belong to?
>>
Well, I'm done what I was doing and no longer busy, just catching up now.
>>
>>5268345
Interesting, this seems like the Furnace of Avarice spell except as a sentient demon or legend.

>>5268357
The mechanics seem different from your previous quests, I guess I'll have to treat this as its own thing. Though I admit to being confused how to treat this given the returning characters and return of a named country from Galerne, making me think this is the same world as Galerne just in a different time period and location.

I figured the beast tongue could be useful to talk to the deer hunting us or animals, but I found the idea of being unable to communicate to humans too inconvenient, and from an in-character perspective I can't imagine we'd go along with the change in lifestyle. Though, by becoming songless I am much less enthused about being able to talk again.

>>5268363
Ah, so it is the same world.

>>5268377
Ah, so this is us pretending to be a knight or something? Or is a legit POV switch?

>>5268726
>I am going to be King some day. You should all kneel before me.

Listen, if this is us having a fantasy, this makes sense, we can whine and pine after our lost Song. If this is a POV switch then it makes sense for a nameless brigand to have a huge ego.

>The beast mark is a circle of horned antlers?

>Make a bet with our assembled companions, if we kill the enemy champion then they have to follow us as King, if the enemy champion kills us, then they get to inherit ours arms and armour instead of our next-of-kin and then get to keep our coin purse. (Hand one of them our coin purse to get them to buy in to this and so that they don't have to retrieve it from the enemy to fulfill the bet)

>Examine the champion that came to taunt your side - the warrior is still hurling insults, frothing and spitting, brandishing weapons. Perhaps you can kill him?
>>
>>5267087
>is being hard for me in this bitch
English is my first language and his quests are full of what the fuckery.
>>5268726
>The thanes should learn to live in harmony, even if incessant war and slaughter ensues whenever they squabble and disagree
Learmont (he will defeat him... with comedy)
>>5265247
Sabretooth tiger?
>>
Beast-Marked Warrior (Taunting Champion)
>>
Horned Axe (Dane Axe)
Long Reach, Brutal, Leg Hook, Thrust, Cleave
Slow, Heavy, Bulky, Weakness: Close Range
Long hafted wide bladed axe with pronounced curving crescent horns at the toe and heel of the biting edge, believed to be a possible ancestor of the poleaxe and later halberd. The foremost point of the curved horn is a surprising thrust weapon. Another unexpected manoeuvre is the use of the axehead inward curving horns to hook the ankles of an unsuspecting opponent.
>>
Bearded Axe (Skeggox)
Close Range, Brutal, Swift, Light, Hook, Punch,Disarm, Tool: Forestry, Woodworking
Weakness: Long Reach, Vulnerable (Hand)
An axe with an elongated lower portion of the cutting edge (the hook, or the beard), enabling a wielder to grip the haft directly behind the head in a punching stance. The hook of the axehead can be used to pull a shield from an opponents grasp at very close range, if you do not fear losing some fingers. The versatile close-hafted grip also retains applications for woodworking and forestry, shaving and planing wood.
>>
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>>5268947
>I am going to be King some day. You should all kneel before me.
>Make a bet with our assembled companions...

At the mention of a wager, Bastich composure suddenly changes. Learmont is perhaps the most astonished of all, for Bastich instantly sheathes his knife, adopts his most
dainty, winsome, alluring smile (it is not at all dainty or winsome or alluring). Through a grin of crooked teeth, Bastich murmurs sweetly and admiringly:
- Of course, Young Hero! You will stand alone against our cruel inhuman foes and turn the tide of battle! You are truly honourable, and I will not be assisting the enemy side in their attempts to kill you, just because I want to loot the coin and armour from your corpse. I will not be doing that! But let me give you some advice, Young Hero! Never fight fair. Always cheat, always lie! That is the way of Lunfardo! By the noble mien and the shining light upon his brow, Lunfardo says that all warfare is deceit, wars are mostly lies spoken through knives. It rhymes! Write that down, Learmont! (The jester plucks a quill from a passing goose waddling about the camp.) Now there is just a question of this coin purse. May I see it, hmmm...?

You experience a sensation akin to a dream where all your clothes have suddenly fallen off before a gathered congregation. For you possess nothing except a Wooden Sword, a Straw Doll and a Grotesque Ferryman Boat Figurine. None of which are worth anything at all.

Bastich begins first to twitch, then to spasm, then to erupt in twitching, spasmodic fury:
-I knew it! You are a...Swindler! You have nothing, NOTHING, just like the castrated hollow of Lunfardo's father's crotch cavity filled with very little regret! I am going to stab you! I am doing it now!
>>
Cadarn slaps his hand onto his thigh, and stands:
-Enough. Bastich, sit down. You look ridiculous. Our Young Hero is the only one here with the wits to propose a plan of action, as opposed to sulking or moping or ranting. I will take you to Olaefyr, Young Hero. He will arm you and aid you in whatever you do. But I will say this: I think you should fight fairly. Whatever you think of Waldmar, or the other Waldmar, or the Beast-Mark Banner, you should show the enemy that we possess honour. Should you cheat, you may enrage and incite the other side into killing you before you escape bow-shot and make it back to our shield-wall. If I were you, I would not draw a blade at all. Maybe just try and shame that boasting warrior into returning to his ranks. If nothing else, it might save you from being wounded or maimed, before the actual battle begins.

You are greatly surprised by the demeanour of Olaefyr when you meet him. You have never met anyone so suspiciously eager to help you in your life. It must be a dream? A wish fulfilment dream?

Olaefyr is offering you his sword. His own, ancestral blade. He is offering you the pick of any weapon you want, the best of what they have.But in a low conspiratorial whisper Olaefyr adds:
- This information must not spread beyond the three of us: we have more weapons coming. Lorscheim has heard out call! The Oath and the Light aids us. The Prince-Provost is sending arquebusiers, cannons! We think they may be days away. They may arrive tomorrow. There need not be a slaughter here, this rabble will simply turn tail and flee when they hear the roar of cannon-fire. If you are willing to wait even just one more day, I can get plate armour, a greatsword, crossbows. Think on it!

There is something about all this that feels very strange to you, almost dreamlike. Why would this warrior be so eager to aid a stranger?
>>
QM: Think carefully on the situation, and write in what to do. This is the final inventory confirmation before whatever comes. Some options:

FIGHT FAIRLY, with honour
- the other side have raised the Beast-Mark Banner. Will they respond honourably?
>You remember the advice of Cadarn: you should fight fairly. Equip yourself with the choice
>>5268431
or only weapons such as an axe, spear, seax shield etc

>You want to ask to borrow Olaefyr's ancestral sword.

CHEAT, without honour
- you are fighting Unferth's men. Did they show you any honour when they cut Tamlyn's face? Spreadeagled corpses upon trees? Threatened to amputate your hands? Bastich is right. Always lie, cheat, steal. For the world will do no less to you.
>You want to wait just one day. You will be able to choose weapons like crossbows, plate armour, greatswords etc

>You want to wait a few days. Maybe if the cannons and arquebusiers arrive from the Prince-Provost, this confrontation can be ended without bloodshed?

UNARMED - fearless, or foolish?
>There is something very strange about this entire situation. Walk out and confront Unferth's champion, as you are, with no weapons at all.

>>5269008
>>5268947
>antlers, tigers etc.
QM: unfortunately, neither of these is the emblem
I will also offer this choice again here, given all the additional information. (The choices here not taken: >>5268738 )

>Send Learmont to confront Unferth's Champion
>>
QM: at any point in time, there is always the choice

>You know the cursed symbol of the Beast-Mark referred to here.
>>5265247
Write-in what you think it is.

>Look at the banner directly yourself. You do not fear it.
>>
>>5269069
Can I get a clarification? Is the enemy champion equipped as in the picture with multiple shields and some armour, or is he essentially naked with just the horned and bearded axe? This changes what I vote to equip.
>>
>>5269069
Also, what are the traits of the various weapons and armour/shields here >>5268381
>>5268383
>>5268385
>>5268386
>>5268387
>>5268388
>>5268390

Or is the omission of the traits deliberate?
>>
>>5269069
I'll write my initial desired loadout, though I may seek to change it if the QM gives new info regarding the various weapons.

>Take Brynja, a throwing axe, and a seax

Our plan will be to throw our ax to disable his shield and then rush into close range while he still has his dane axe out and kill him with our seax.

>Also ask all of these questions >>5268738
>>
>>5269091
>>5269092
The Beast-Marked Warrior resembles what you see in the picture. You think he is carrying two axes, two shields. He has a shield in his hand and an axe in his other, the rest is sheathed as depicted. Beware, he may have some other tricks... The warrior is wearing a war-helm with some mail protecting his neck, but no actual armour otherwise, again as depicted.

Remember also that because of the throwing axe you found earlier, which you concealed when being threatened by Unferth, you can get that for free (even when unarmed).

The hidden traits on weapons is deliberate. If you cheat, ie if you wait a few days for the Prince-Provost cannons, they can be revealed.
>>
>>5269069
>>5269115
Okay, I change my selection.

>Take Brynja, a shield, a seax, and the Francisca that we automatically get. Fight fairly with honour.

We'll disable his shield with the Francisca, rush in hopefully closing too fast for him to switch weapons or draw his other shield (because we are not over-encumbered due to us not taking too many weapons), stab him to death at close range, if he switches to the shorter ax then he'll probably try and destroy our shield whereupon we can cut his fingers off and then stab him to death.

If they don't fight fairly and shoot arrows at us with their army then we have our shield to protect us as we retreat.
>>
>>5269069
>>5269115
Here's an alternative loadout that I was considering, this isn't a vote change, just me voicing my thoughts.

A war-helm, a shield, a throwing ax, francisca, seax.

That way our head is protected from quick blows and we are historical in the fact that people always chose to have head protection, a shield to protect our body from attack, arrows, and to bait out the shield breaking move from the bearded axe, both a throwing axe and our francisca so we have multiple chances to break his shield if we miss, plus we have a 2nd throwing weapon for in case he is too quick and draws his second shield or does some weird shenanigans like turn his back towards us to take our first throwing axe, and if we break one shield we can throw the other ax to wound him before we close in. The seax will be used as previously described to shank him as we close in while he hopefully is still wielding the dane ax, but if he switches in time then we can bait out the shieldbreaker move and cut his fingers off, and with no maille we will hopefully be agile enough to close in fast or avoid the leg sweeper move.

Hopefully that would be logical, but I'll go with my original vote still. Don't want some bullshit where he manages to hit us first despite having a slow weapon and quickly pokes us with the point of his ax and then we have no chest protection.
>>
>>5269124
There is a dull clunk as the axehead embeds into wood. The shield is not broken, but you can see the throwing axe is unbalancing him, pivoting his arm down... there is an opening, straight to his vulnerable unarmoured chest. This is as you foresaw! You need only race across the waterlogged marsh and end him...

You chose wisely, and did not burden yourself with many weapons. The squelch of your footfall as you charge forward across the mud - is this a dream? Did it rain yesterday? - your heart pounds and you flounder slightly, yet you are not unbalanced. You are so close...

So, so close - within stabbing range, you can see the heave and fall of his chest, the sheen of sweat. But there is something odd about his shield-arm. His shield is ruined, yet he has not cast it aside. He could have dropped it quickly and tried to reach his second shield...

The Beast-Marked Warrior hurls a hidden small throwing axe of his own - identical to yours, concealed behind his ruined shield. With unerring aim it knocks aside your shield, a step short of where your knife would pierce and end him. Then the bite of a great axe cleaves apart the halves of the earth and the sky.
>>
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You can see the cursed mark of the Beast-Father clearly now. It is not one symbol, but many, all at once. A symbol of ancient good and terrible evil, that spins like the arms of the sun and stars from both left and right. It looks a bit like the talons of a bird...

There is an eagle descending from the heavens, claws and talons outstretched. This makes no sense to you. A bird is not a beast? All know the tale of the wolf that ends the world, swallows the sun and moon, and is consumed by fire. How is the symbol of the Beast-Father, a bird?
>>
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Yet you instantly recognise this bird. You have seen it, playing by an old shrine where the earth is furrowed into deep trenches amongst cairns scattered upon a sea of stones. They say the wolf god was born in war and ended in slaughter. Were those cuts the frenzied mark of its claws upon the land? The mark of the first battle before it was born?

>Kneel before the Eagle Shrine
>Whisper the true name of the Beast Father, before the Eagle Shrine
>>5265247

>Flee this cursed place

>Something else?
>>
>>5269185
>Flee this cursed place

I still don't know the name, unless the 'whisper the true name' prompt is saying that we already know the name and that it is the Adalwulf. But if that prompt leads us to another guess then I don't know it. Even if I did, I wouldn't want anything to do with another evil shrine. We may be Songless, but I'll not willing prostrate myself before anymore shitty gods.
>>
>>5269185
>Flee this cursed place
>>
>>5269181
Alas, had I only chosen the helm instead of the maille and a sword instead of the seax. But I thought choosing the sword would have some catch to it, so I didn't choose it, and I thought since the axe had brutal on it it would simply cleave through our helm. Though I do find it odd that he'd be able to use his long hafted dane axe on us if we are so close to him that we can nearly hit him with our knife before we either hit him or recover.
>>
>>5269185
>Whisper the true name of the Beast Father, before the Eagle Shrine
Fenrisúlfr
>>
>>5269287
How did you come to this conclusion? Just wondering, if you have a persuasive argument for why this would be the name then I might switch.
>>
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The Fylfot, Four-footed Hooked Cross Of Adalwulf
Cursed Beast-Mark, The Tetraskelion)

QM: I would accept any obscure name for the fylfot, eg
gammadion, hakenkreuz, ugunskrusts, etc.
I would also accept any variant, the Black Sun Wheel, The Wolfsangel, etc.
>>
>>5269287
>Fenrisúlfr
(You have lost trait: Songless)
The Song Is Strengthened

You were the Child Of Two Worlds
You are now
Child Of Worlds Entwined

The Old Hooded Man, the One-Eyed Wanderer who had died upon the Betrayer's Tree Laeradr once before - and not by your hand! - that wicked Bolverkr, the deceitful, Great Evil Deed-Doer - He told you that names are not reliable.

Some are cursed, called Evil, when they do not deserve it. Others walk bright and happy and free, free of the blood and the gore that they will never even touch or see.

You call upon the wolf - the Adal-wulf, (Adulf?) with a name of the myths of another world and time.

That is not the name of the one upon this shrine.

Some of what the Bolverkr said makes sense to you now. You see why he wanders, why he lies and tricks and deceives. He walks the Land to warn when a Great Evil is near. Those who hear his tale like it not. Some ignore his warning. Others call him the Evil One, merely for trying to tell and warn them of it.

Perhaps the Evil time has already come? The great banner of the Adalwulf has been unfurled upon a battlefield? It matters not which side has done it, whether it is Waldmar, or the other Waldmar - their names are all the same. But when those who work the Song invoke the Name in battle, bear the ancient emblem upon their banners... the times of greed and slaughter and ruin, the times of Evil deeds have come again.
>>
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You are trying flee this Evil place, this cursed, Fylfot Shrine, once an ancient symbol of innocence and peace changed by the deeds of men.

Yet there is a rising sea of gore, bone and bile, spilt marrow, maggots and carrion engulfing you. There is no escape from it...

Cadarn turns away from the battlefield. He shakes his head sorrowfully.

Even Bastich is subdued.
-By Lunfardo's... solitary tear... that drips from his... slit eye...(stifles a sob) Cadarn, this is your fault! Your fault for encouraging the Young Hero... What did I tell you... They stood no chance! Was that your idea of a joke, telling them to be honourable and fair? After everything you have done, all the people you cheated and killed, Cadarn? Look at what they are doing to the brave Young Hero now! There is barely even anything left. They are using the pieces to decorate their cursed banner, but I do not think the skull and spine will stay on for very long...

Cadarn starts to walk away, but then turns and stops to point:
- I guess you were wrong, Bastich. Look - over there! At last, a woman here on the battlefield for you. I hope you get to meet her!
>>
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A woman is walking into the marshes and mud between both sides of the divided shield walls.

In some lands there are tales of a beautiful maiden of the battle-slain and fallen, a winged woman who chooses amongst those who fought bravely, with honour and virtue.
>>
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This woman is not her. She looks like an Old Hag, a filthy bonepicker or camp-follower, who is not beyond rummaging amongst the corpse-heap just to loot whatever remains of value.

In her hands are a broken wooden sword, a headless straw doll cleft in two parts missing an arm. She stops and mutters, craning her neck and turning right and left and back again, as if there is something she has dropped or lost.

With a muttered curse of recognition, Old Hag Kospelina finally retrieves the small figurine of a ferryman on a boat, half-buried in the mud, the marsh grass and the blood.
>>
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You awake to the flutter of tawny feathers scattering upon a thatched roof. You can smell moss and sweet flowers as Old Grandmother Kospelina's dwelling basks in birdsong and morning sunshine. Perhaps it was a dream? You hear the lilting singsong prattle of a child - it makes you feel very old:
(Marabet is prodding you)
-Wake up, silly! Old Grandmother came and left when you were still sleeping. She stole all your items. Your stupid toy sword and ugly doll. And your scary boat. So scary! Silly sleepyhead!

(You have lost your possessions)

>(Frantically... What to do? Write in)
>>
>>5269447
Accuse her of tomfoolery, she hid our items. Demand them back!
>>
>>5269447
>We need the items to fight a great evil! The Evil One who is Not Evil has come with warning! Give us back the withering cursed blade!
>>
>>5269447
>Which way did she go?

We saw her in the dream, despite our disorientation I think we'd know Marabet didn't take our stuff. I'd also rather not push away a potential friend after we lost our other one, after just getting our voice back too.
>>
Not to mention us using the blade made us Songless in the first place, we should really stop flip-flopping which things we are good at, I can't speak for this quest but if it is anything like Souv's previous 3 quest we need to specialize and focus on a goal or two really hard.

I think we should either focus on getting our items back or just talk to Marabet now that we can talk and pry her for information/befriend her.
>>
>>5269287
Based Beowulf anon

>>5269447
Cry thief! Thief!
>>
>>5269536
>just talk to Marabet
Kinda annoying. Stats increase by using them. How many can we raise to great Souv?
>>
>>5269458
>>5269463
>>5269533
>Which way did she go?
>Accuse her of tomfoolery, she hid our items
>the withering cursed blade, Imunlakr

Marabet grabs you by the hand - her tiny child-like fingers seem to possess surprising vice-like grip and strength - and leads you towards a strange stone arch amongst the toadstools and trees. Along the way Marabet looks at you and cackles wickedly, but quickly becomes crestfallen:

-Through here! Oh no, I tricked you! Maybe I didn't. (She pouts petulantly) But you are still a silly stupid fish-breath sleepyhead. La-la-la. Old Grandmother didn't take your things. I hid them! Old Grandmother is gathering ingredients now. She is looking for a woman's beard. Oh and Tamlyn died. The Blearie Queene got her. Ripped apart like bear-sinews. Sorry. Is Tamlyn your friend? She is the second most silly person. Like bird spittle. Tamlyn is ugly now. Do you know who is the most silly person? You are! The Blearie Queene fell and broke her head on a mountain-roots stone. If she had a step like a cat's footfall it would not have hurt. She is very sad. All of this happened recently. La-la-la. The Blearie Queene cuts faeries out of naughty children's bellies. La-la-la. King Unbidden just sat and watched. I predicted it. La-la-la. No I didn't! I tricked you! But I think you met my friend. You shouldn't have friends. They end up like Tamlyn. My friend wrote a really bad Song. It doesn't even rhyme! Do you like songs? I like games! I can show you an elf-sword. La-la-la. Follow me!

Before the stone arch entwined with the toadstools and the trees, Marabet unceremoniously kicks you very hard through it. You stumble in astonishment and trip and fall. You are about to turn back and indignantly berate the infuriating white-haired nonsense singing girl-child, when you realise you are not alone.
>>
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Mission: find the Elf-Sword
Mission: discover the fate of the Scarred Girl Tamlyn

Marabet is not behind you. Instead, there is a bizarrely attired, monocled man. You notice under his arm he appears to be carrying a lacquered wooden box of some kind. He studies you and then asks:
-What are you doing here? Are you a servant?

>You know this monocled man. You have a feeling he might trust you more if you address him by his correct name (write-in if you know it)

>Something else...?





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