[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / vm / vmg / vr / vrpg / vst / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k / s4s / vip / qa] [cm / hm / lgbt / y] [3 / aco / adv / an / bant / biz / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / gd / hc / his / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / news / out / po / pol / pw / qst / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / vt / wsg / wsr / x / xs] [Settings] [Search] [Mobile] [Home]
Board
Settings Mobile Home
/qst/ - Quests

Name
Spoiler?[]
Options
Comment
Verification
4chan Pass users can bypass this verification. [Learn More] [Login]
File[]
Draw Size ×
  • Please read the Rules and FAQ before posting.
  • Additional supported file types are: PDF
  • Roll dice with "dice+numberdfaces" in the options field (without quotes).
  • There are 19 posters in this thread.

08/21/20New boards added: /vrpg/, /vmg/, /vst/ and /vm/
05/04/17New trial board added: /bant/ - International/Random
10/04/16New board for 4chan Pass users: /vip/ - Very Important Posts
[Hide] [Show All]




File: AotM.gif (1.06 MB, 960x540)
1.06 MB
1.06 MB GIF
I watched curling, branching patterns of golden light flare across my fingers and wrist in response to the flexing of my divine numen. They faded as a flame sputtered to life from nothing, flickering placidly above my outstretched forefinger. I held the fire to the tightly rolled bundle of shredded cannabis flower poised between my lips, and breathed in deeply. Smoke scorched my throat and filled my lungs, but more importantly slowed the racing of my thoughts. I looked upon an alley between a rundown apartment building and an abandoned storefront. It was only dimly lit by a flickering streetlight, its eerie violet glow intermittently revealing a scene of carnage. Two plebs lay scattered in pieces against a chainlink fence. Hard to tell much about them; only one corpse still had part of its head and that part wasn't its face.

Greater magic was necessary to reveal the truth of the scene before me. Lines of power lit up all across my arms and chest, golden light shining through the bleached cotton of my tunic as the soul of the universe bent according to my whim. Reaching into the realm of pure thought, I summoned the wisps of consciousness still clinging to the bodies before me. A ghostly shape stepped past me, its eyes burning white as two more figures appeared in the alley. One was desperately seeking to climb the fence; a dark skinned young woman with her hair shaved down to stubble wearing a blue tracksuit. Her bloodied hands clutched at the links of the fence as she tried to pull herself up.

Her companion stood between the fence and the beast, his mouth twisted into a snarl and his hands wrapped tightly around a metal pipe. He was perhaps twenty, dark of hair, pale, and muscular. I admired the man's bravery as the bestial figure approached. It was the largest, but also the least defined. It appeared as little more than a hulking shadow, formless at the edges.

The beast lunged at the young man, who spun around with the pipe raised like a club. Yet even as he smashed the beast across its hazy muzzle, the creature's claws tore into his chest cavity. I heard the faint, ghostly crack of ribs breaking as he fell back against the fence and slumped to the ground. His translucent essence poured from great rends in his illusory flesh, overlaying the very real mass of coagulating blood and gravel that surrounded the man's corpse.

The shadow opened a wide maw. Its long yellow teeth appeared clear and present despite the incorporeality of the rest of its form. Those teeth ripped the man's face off, and took a good portion of his skull with it. With a wave of my hand the woman climbing the fence, the beast, and the man it feasted on all vanished; I didn't need to see the rest. Only the reality of the gore remained. Whatever creature had preyed upon these people, it was anathema to the divine will of the principium primum.

[1/2]
>>
Before I could consider the matter further, I heard a soft chime within the sanctity of my mind. Reaching into the folds of an elaborately embroidered black and gold sash around my waist, I retrieved a thin hexagon of colorless beryl. The flat plane of the gemstone displayed an image of my superior officer as I glanced at it. Procurator Anastasis was pictured standing before a wooden podium adorned with a crest depicting the rising sun. He was a venerable, balding man with grey wisp of hair and ponderous jowls dangling from his neck.

My heart sank at the sight of the man's stern grey eyes staring down his beaked nose, but I placed my thumb upon the center of the crystal nonetheless. "Magus," his gravelly voice intruded upon my thoughts, "you're being recalled."

"Sir, I'm already on location," I protested. "Something foul was responsible for what happened here, and there may be more victims."

"I understand, but this is coming from the top," he replied. I could detect irritation and anxiety leaking through the mental connection established by the crystal. I was sure he could feel my anger in turn. "The Magisterium is aware of the situation. They've sent a full squad to deal with it. You're to return to the office immediately."

"Sir, I-" but a psychic squeal interrupted my thoughts, a lance of pain shooting across the back of my head.

"I'll brook no argument, Magus," he interrupted. "This is a direct order from your superiors. You're to report back immediately for reassignment. Understood?"

"Understood," I thought back, feeling the connection severed a moment after. I tucked the crystal back into the folds of my sash, mind swimming with possibilities as I raised the crutch of my joint once again to my lips. I quickly formed a theory to explain the Procurator's behavior; whatever this thing was, someone powerful wanted it captured. They must have pulled strings to make sure their loyalist would be the ones to bring it in.

>Defy your superior, attempt to track the anathema.
>Orders are orders. Return to the office.
>Investigate the immediate area before returning.
>Write-in
>>
>>5313252
>Investigate the immediate area before returning.

Orders are orders and it seems like the appropriate resources are being dispatched to deal with this issue, I see no signs from the narrative that we are uniquely qualified to deal with this threat either.

Though I suppose the line about "their loyalists" could imply that there are certain powerful people or interest groups that don't have our organization/nation/whatever's best interests at heart and that we are not such a self-serving individual.

I guess this could also be a moment meant to define our character, but dealing with this ourselves or securing the creature for our own "side" - if we have one - probably isn't worth the hassle and consequences we'd suffer for disobeying orders, but they should have no room to complain if we take some time and loiter around for immediately available information to pass onto the squad that is coming or just to tuck it back into the corners of our mind for later.
>>
>>5313252
>Defy your superior, attempt to track the anathema.
>>
>>5313252
>Investigate the immediate area before returning.
>>
File: Lauretum Novum.jpg (312 KB, 1600x914)
312 KB
312 KB JPG
>Investigate the immediate area before returning.

My attention drifted from my conspiring peers to the slaughter around me. I examined the scene in a new light, a frown creasing my brow. The chainlink fence was still whole, the creature didn’t go through it. I noted a series of indents in the brick of the apartment building on my left, and then another series of indentations further up. Claw marks, left where the creature forced its fingers into the baked clay. They led up three stories and then stopped abruptly in a section of the wall between two windows. One of them was broken, and its sill was cracked.

I walked up to the wall and then stepped onto it, my boots gripping perfectly to the vertical surface. My walk continued, body suspended perpendicular to the ground below me, up to the window. There I crouched down and extended a hand into the apartment beyond so that I could see by the dim light of my markings. I found that yet another scene of bloodshed awaited me. Passing a leg through the window, I then fell with practiced ease to the floor on the other side once gravity resumed its hold upon me. My boot splashed down into a pool of semi-gelatinous blood, not yet fully soaked into the hardwood floors. The corpse of a grey-haired woman lay with its throat jaggedly slashed in three places beside the window, her expression slack and eyes lifeless.

The apartment was but a single small room poorly furnished with a bed, a table, and a few chairs. There was a hearth filled with embers against the wall to my right, and its door had been ripped off the hinges. I could see more bodies scattered haphazardly across the hallway beyond, and smell the heavy stench of death on the air. Stepping out of the apartment revealed that the trail of destruction continued up the stairs.

It was quiet except for the droning of a sator in one of the apartments. I could hear the familiar voice of Praeco Laurentius reciting the evening traffic; one of the auxiliary skylanes was closed and volucres were being rerouted appropriately. There was no creaking wood, no shouting tenants, none of the noises I would typically associate with a rundown apartment building. Granted, I couldn’t exactly blame people for evacuating after the bloodshed that evidently took place.

Climbing the stairs, I followed the path of blood and destruction up to a roof access that had been torn apart. The door had been steel wrapped around a wooden core, but that thin layer of metal did less than nothing to prevent the beast from smashing its way through. Exiting onto the roof revealed a forest of chimneys, six in all, and the skyline of Lauretum Novum stretched out across the horizon. The glittering lights of volucres sketched dotted lines of red and white around the towers of glass that dominated the city’s heart. In the dying light of the sun there was a visible haze of smog blanketing everything.

[1/?]
>>
File: volucris.jpg (431 KB, 1920x817)
431 KB
431 KB JPG
The monster responsible for so much bloodshed was nowhere to be found. There were claw marks in one of several chimneys and cracks in the ceiling of a neighboring building where the beast might have jumped. Presumably what I had witnessed was not the end of its rampage, there must have been more innocent blood spilled elsewhere to alert those with more influence than myself to the threat.

A thought struck me. I knew where the beast went. Where did it come from? I’d seen it stalk towards that couple in the alley, so it must have then climbed up to the window and continued its rampage inside.

Descending to ground level, I passed untouched but no less abandoned rooms on the second floor and the first. There was no blood below the third story, except where it had seeped through the floor onto the second. I exited the apartment building through a set of steel-caged glass doors and made my way towards my parked volucris sitting on the curb beneath the streetlight. I walked past it to park beyond the opposite sidewalk where massive, clawed feet had sunk into the soft earth.

I followed the tracks to what had once been a copse of dense vegetation that had since been torn apart. The ground was muddy and rent with deep furrows, the trees bore gouges from a clawed beast, and thorny bushes had been forced apart to make room for an oversized frame. Strangely, only a single set of tracks led away from the site; the ones that I’d followed. It was as if the creature had simply been dropped, fully enraged, into the middle of the park.

Emerging from the woods some minutes later, I heaved a frustrated sigh. Returning to my volucris, the hatch on the vehicles left side raised with a thought and I ducked my head to climb into the richly furnished interior. My thoughts were a jumble of outlandish theories. Could a magus have dumped their pet abomination into the middle of nowhere with space-bending magic? Could one have summoned a larva from beyond creation and lost control? Was it a case of extreme body modification gone awry?

As I puzzled over these questions, the volucris lifted into the air with a quiet hum. I was briefly forced back into the padded leather of my seat by the force of its acceleration, but once the acceleration tapered off I was able to sit comfortably. I needed only to briefly focus on my destination, the volucris and the beacons arrayed throughout the city would do the rest.

It only took thirteen minutes to reach the Central Administrative Building via the air. The one hundred twelfth floor was given over entirely to the Office of Special Investigations; my employer. The volucris landed in a narrow space on the roof some forty eight stories above. One thousand, six hundred feet above the city I was greeted by a young man in the plain black uniform of a servus. He jogged up to the still opening hatch of my volucris and folded himself practically in half as I climbed out, extending an envelope in both hands.

[2/3]
>>
I accepted, brushing past the man on my way towards the elevator. The envelope ripped itself open so that I could extract the letter from within. Written on official OSI letterhead and dated for tomorrow, it was a press release regarding the rampage I’d discovered. It expressed sympathy for the victims of what it termed a ‘terror incident’ and stated that the investigation was ongoing.

“Who asked you to give me this?” I asked, halting on the landing pad and turning back to the servus.

The young man startled, turning away from the view to meet my eyes. He was pale and slender, with brown hair to his shoulders and a crooked nose. “Maga Servilla, Magus,” he answered.

I knew the woman, we’d worked together to hunt down a black market enchanter some months ago. She was competent but an eccentric mess of a human being otherwise.

>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.
>Swing down to Maga Servilla's office. It seems she knows something.
>Stop by your own office, you'd like to access the reticulum to search for further information.
>Write-in
>>
>>5313535
>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.

Lets not be tardy, we can follow up on this incident on our own time assuming our next assignment isn't urgent.
>>
>>5313535
>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.

>>5313568
Agreed. We can dawdle a bit on the way back to base, but once we're here we shouldn't keep the boss waiting.
>>
>>5313535
>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.
>>
>>5313535
>>Swing down to Maga Servilla's office. It seems she knows something.
>>
>>5313568
>>5313571

Backing this. We should keep our ears open to see if the official story here matches our assessment of the scene?

The mention of "loyalists" suggests some politics, and politics suggests that this incident could have manufactured for an advantage.
>>
>>5313535
>>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.
>>
>>5313535
>>Stop by your own office, you'd like to access the reticulum to search for further information.
>>
>>5313250
>Latro
Is that a Gene Wolfe reference?
>>
>>5313889
No, but I've heard those books are good. Latro just means mercenary or bandit in Latin. Latrones, the plural form, is also a game akin to chess or go.
>>
File: Office - Procurator.jpg (306 KB, 1920x1223)
306 KB
306 KB JPG
>Report directly to Procurator Anastasis for reassignment.

Filing away the fact that Servilla knew something about the rampage, I turned away from the servus once more and resumed my walk. There was a short wait before one of the six elevators chimed to get my attention, its thick steel doors sliding apart to permit two other magi off. I boarded as they left, a light marked ‘112’ turning blue as my foot crossed the threshold. The interior was a cage of polished steel, and I found myself studying my reflection in the wall beside me.

My features were typically

>Ditian; a hawk nose and high cheekbones framed my pale grey eyes. I was fair skinned and wore my straight blonde hair short. Running a hand along my square jaw, I felt the rough stubble of a long day.
>Keldetic; auburn hair fell in waves to my shoulders, framing a face anchored by hazel eyes, full lips, and a fleshy nose. Freckles were scattered liberally across my pale skin, and a bushy mass of curly hair sprouted from my jaw.
>Chahari; I wore my black hair in a mop of curls around my ears and cultivated a thick, luxurious moustache. My nose was hooked and thin, parting a set of pale green eyes which contrasted with my bronze skin.
>Athagian; my skin was the color of burnt clay and my hair grew in a mass of very tight curls close to my scalp. Dark, almond-shaped eyes and a thick, straight nose anchored my face, my full lips framed by a short goatee and moustache.

Other servants of the state boarded and discharged on my journey down forty-eight floors, but I paid them little mind and they returned the favor. I stopped imitating Narcissus when a soft, mental chime alerted me to the fact that I’d reached my destination moments before the doors opened. Stepping out into a sea of cubicula, I navigated the traffic of black-robed servi on my way to the office of the Procurator. The local OSI branch was laid out such that the floor was divided into two sections: low-ranked staffers in banks of small, partially enclosed workspaces took up two-thirds of the space; offices for magi, officials, and high-ranking servi were reserved for the third.

The Procurator's office was at the end of a hallway flanked on either side by rows of windowed suites. Many of my peers had their blinds drawn, Maga Servilla among them, but I peeked in on several others as I passed by. A towheaded magus by the name of Anteros was deep in a meditative trance, his hands resting on the top of an eagle-headed statue carved from onyx. In another room I saw a grey-haired fabricatrix named Lyta hard at work carving divine sigils into a perfectly spherical ruby with a jeweler's precision.

[1/?]
>>
I knocked twice on Anastasis’ door and heard the man bark, “Come in.” Stepping through, I found myself in a well-appointed office. The Procurator sat at a wide desk opposite the entrance, framed on either side by walls of windows looking out over the city below. I walked around the edge of the room to avoid a sitting area in front of the entrance, taking in the trophies he displayed on shelves along the left wall. I recognized a warped and mutated skull from a case some years ago; a magus possessed by a particularly insidious larva. I wondered if the beast might be something similar.

“Certainly took your time getting here,” the Procurator grumbled, but there was no venom in his tone.

“Skylane was closed,” I said, leaving out that I was entirely unaffected by that closure. Upon reaching the desk I pulled back a chair and sat opposite Anastasis, folding my hands in my lap. “What’s my next assignment?”

Procurator Anastasis opened a drawer to his right and pulled out a folder, tossing it across the desk to me. Flipping it open, I found the scared face of a platinum blonde man in his twenties glaring contemptuously back at me. “We detected illegal access to the reticulum and traced it to an apartment belonging to this man. His name is Gwilym ap Myron, though he uses the alias Calcitratus. He has an existing praemandata authorizing his arrest in relation to the theft of an artifact called the Heart of Yaser from the New Laurentine Museum of the Arts last month. We believe he may be part of a larger network and we're interested in learning more about his associates."

I didn't answer right away, preferring to review the contents of the dossier I'd been given. For the most part, it told me nothing that the Procurator hadn’t already. This Gwilym had a long list of priors, including armed robbery and kidnapping. His name and alias had been attached to a number of gangs over the years but I got the sense that he was more of a mercenary than anything else. “I assume the apartment has already been raided,” I said.

“You assume correctly,” Anastasis replied. “Place had been cleared out, but we found a jury-rigged cradle wired up to one of the subterranean animula. The local vigiles have kept the place on lockdown since two days ago.”

>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.
>Ask if there have been any updates from the squad dispatched to deal with the beasts.
>Bring up the brief investigation you did of the apartment and its surroundings.
>Excuse yourself; it’s been a long day and you’d like to be done with work.
>Excuse yourself; you need to go ask Maga Servilla about that press release.
>Excuse yourself; there’s still time to go check in on Calcitratus’ apartment.
>Write-in
>>
>>5314156
>Athagian; my skin was the color of burnt clay and my hair grew in a mass of very tight curls close to my scalp. Dark, almond-shaped eyes and a thick, straight nose anchored my face, my full lips framed by a short goatee and moustache.


>>5314158
>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.

Illegal access to the reticulum? That's an interesting crime. "Reticulum" is Latin for "network", so I assume this is some sort of magical darknet?
>>
>>5314158
>>Chahari; I wore my black hair in a mop of curls around my ears and cultivated a thick, luxurious moustache. My nose was hooked and thin, parting a set of pale green eyes which contrasted with my bronze skin.

>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.
>>
>>5314179
>some sort of magical darknet?
Pretty much. I would compare the reticulum to the early internet. It's a tightly controlled network which relies upon waystations called animula to transmit data across the Imperial territories. Connecting to it requires a direct mental connection typically achieved through cradles, enchanted devices designed to facilitate such a connection. Use of the reticulum for anything other than the advancement of State aims is forbidden, as is access without official clearance. Illegal access to the reticulum is a very broad accusation that could include anything from sending spam messages to hacking into a secure Imperial database.
>>
>>5314158
>>Keldetic; auburn hair fell in waves to my shoulders, framing a face anchored by hazel eyes, full lips, and a fleshy nose. Freckles were scattered liberally across my pale skin, and a bushy mass of curly hair sprouted from my jaw.
>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.
Don't think boss will be happy with us having inspected despite his orders, and the squad is none of our business. Why he called us off our job, however, is our business.
>>
>>5314193
So less like a darknet and more like hacking into ARPANET. Oh, that's much worse.
>>
>>5314156
>Chahari; I wore my black hair in a mop of curls around my ears and cultivated a thick, luxurious moustache. My nose was hooked and thin, parting a set of pale green eyes which contrasted with my bronze skin.

>>5314158
>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.

On one hand I'm slightly hesitant to reveal that our mind is still on the case we were told to drop. On the other hand it is natural to be curious and we still need to know where our superior and his superiors stand and what the political situation is, even if we know in character, we don't OOC. At the end of the day it shouldn't interfere with our work just yet, barring the greater situation forcing itself into our life.

I was gonna add mentioning our brief investigation, but the other squad will probably find everything we found anyways and it was more for our own sake to keep in the loop in case the the incident comes up again, wouldn't want our superior to know we weren't really stuck in traffic and weren't obeying him to the letter. Perhaps when we follow up with Servilla our perspective will prove useful and save lives but for now maybe it is best to keep things close to the chest.
>>
>>5314158
>Ditian; a hawk nose and high cheekbones framed my pale grey eyes. I was fair skinned and wore my straight blonde hair short. Running a hand along my square jaw, I felt the rough stubble of a long day.
>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.
>Ask if there have been any updates from the squad dispatched to deal with the beasts.
>Excuse yourself; you need to go ask Maga Servilla about that press release.
>>
>>5314225
>Ditian

>>5314194
>Keldetic

>>5314188
>>5314209
>Chahari

>>5314179
>Athagian

Going to call it for being not!Indo-Iranian and asking about motivations.
>>
>Chahari; I wore my black hair in a mop of curls around my ears and cultivated a thick, luxurious moustache. My nose was hooked and thin, parting a set of pale green eyes which contrasted with my bronze skin.
>Ask about your sudden reassignment and its motivations.

Folding the dossier closed, I returned my attention to the Procurator. “I’ll get started looking into Gwilym’s associates, but before I go, may I ask what motivated my reassignment?” I was careful to keep the irritation that I felt out of my voice but Anastasis narrowed his eyes at me nonetheless.

“Politics,” was his answer. He practically spit the word. “I received a message regarding certain jurisdictional issues I was previously unaware of,” he continued in a sardonically polite tone. “Some free advice: put it out of your mind, Magus Ascaius. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that these things happen.”

An eyebrow twitched at the sound of my Ditian name. Thrice-damned Imperials insisted on suffixing ever word with -us, they sounded childish. Was Ashkai truly so hard to pronounce? I bit back my irritation at the small slight, and rose to my feet with the dossier tucked under one arm. “Thank you, Procurator. Am I dismissed?”

“You are. Get some rest, Magus. That’s an order,” he replied, delivering the line entirely bereft of any mirth. I got the sense he truly meant it as an order. An order I wasn’t sure I intended to follow. Bowing my head, I turned sharply and made for the door. The tension drained from my shoulders once I stepped out into the hallway, and I released a held breath as my thoughts turned to the future.

>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.
>Disappear into your own office for a while, plug into the reticulum.
>Begin to track down one of Calcitratus' known associates.
>Head over to the New Laurentine Museum of the Arts to investigate last month's robbery.
>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.
>On second thought, maybe getting some rest isn't such a bad idea?
>Write-in
>>
>>5314411
>>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.
Shouldn't take too long, then we'll head to Calcitratus' appartment.
>>
>>5314411
>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.

I'm not sure burning our candle at both ends is wise, at least not too much. However, talking to Servilla and following up on one time-sensitive lead should be okay, though determining which lead is most time-sensitive may not be that easy.
>>
>>5314411
>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.
>>
>>5314418

Seconding.

I'm getting a sort of "post-industrial magic Roman Empire" vibe from the setting.
>>
File: Good.png (103 KB, 203x193)
103 KB
103 KB PNG
I'll go ahead and call it for talking to Servilla, post won't likely be out until tomorrow due to other obligations. Thanks for participating, I'm having a good time pulling all this out of my ass.
>>
>>5314411
>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.
>>
File: Maga Servilla.jpg (233 KB, 1587x1984)
233 KB
233 KB JPG
>Knock on Servilla's door, see if she's available.

I decided that it was time to follow up on Servilla’s cryptic press release, so I stepped up to her door and knocked. “A moment, please!” she shouted through the door.

Through the strips of grey plastic which composed the office blinds I could see snatches of light flashing in the darkened room. An eyebrow climbed my forehead, my curiosity blossoming, but I resisted the temptation to intrude uninvited. A few minutes passed, the light slowly intensifying, until at last I felt a burst of divine power wash over me which set the hairs along my arms standing on end. It was a moment afterwards that the office door jerked open, the Maga standing in the threshold.

Servilla was the youngest of the full-fledged magi in the branch at twenty-five; a fair-skinned woman with striking, unnatural violet eyes and bleached hair she wore in crimped waves to her jawline. She painted her lips dark red and favored her formal robes, masses of black and gold fabric swallowing her slender frame. A choker at her throat bore a heavy gold crucifix which pulsed subtly with divine power to my enlightened eyes.

“What were you working on in there?” I asked, unable to help myself.

“I’m sure you’d like to know,” she replied with a teasing lilt and a smirk. “Come in, I’m sure you have questions.”

I followed the Maga into her office and Servilla shut the door behind me. The room was dark, but only for a moment. The flip of a switch bathed the room in bright white light, revealing a scene of total disarray. Papers and melted candles lay scattered haphazardly around the corpse of a teenage boy with his throat slit. His eyes were wide open, tracking Servilla and I as we made our way past him to her desk; a reventum, a soul returned to its body temporarily. That certainly explained the magical pulse I’d felt.

Books sat in piles all around Servilla’s chair, while the contents of a dossier were scattered across her desktop. I recognized the boy’s face in one of the photographs, though he wasn’t quite as pallid in his picture. “This is about the press release?” she asked, once we were seated across from one another.

“Correct,” I answered, tearing my attention away from the boy’s lifeless eyes. “How did you get it, and what do you know about the creature responsible?”

She drummed her fingers, allowing a silence to stretch between us until finally, “I got it because I have a friend in the press department, and that same friend told me a certain Magistra Versuta might be involved. She recently made a very sizable donation to the New Laurentine Museum of the Arts and a few frequent patrons have noted pieces being taken off display as of late. Including a certain knife said to cut the fabric of creation.”

[1/2]
>>
Though part of me wondered whether Calcitratus’ theft of the Heart of Yaser could have been related somehow to the Magistra’s donation, I kept my theories to myself. “So you’re saying that one of the most powerful people on the continent bribed a museum in order to gain access to this sacred knife, all so that she could more easily part the veil? For what, to summon larvae? It all sounds very circumstantial,” I pointed out, unable to suppress my skepticism. “Who benefits, and what do you get by telling me this?”

Servilla reclined in her chair, arms crossing as she considered me. “So cynical, Ashkai. I don’t have all the answers, I just thought I’d do you a favor by passing along what I know,” she lied through a smile.

>Thank her for the information and excuse yourself.
>Try to wheedle out her true motivations. [Roll vs 18]
>Who’s Magistra Versuta, exactly?
>Ask about the dead teenager.
>Write-in

I’ll briefly explain the dice mechanics I intend to use. Rolls will be 2d20 using degrees of success and failure. To use this challenge as an example, given three sets of 2d20 at least two of those sets must sum to eighteen or higher in order to find out more information. All three rolls exceeding the DC would be a critical success, no rolls passing would be a critical failure, and only one roll passing would fail.
>>
>>5314841
>Try to wheedle out her true motivations. [Roll vs 18]
>Who’s Magistra Versuta, exactly?
>Ask about the dead teenager.

Do we roll now or after the vote is called?

Anyways, if possible I'd like to act without being someone's pawn. I'm willing to step on some toes and hurt some feelings to make sure we aren't being used, otherwise we should know as much about the situation and this possible theory as possible
>>
>>5314850
Go ahead and roll now. It might lead to some strategic voting, but it gets the dice out of the way so I can start writing.
>>
Rolled 16, 16 = 32 (2d20)

>>5314873
You want three separate people to roll 2d20, yes? Just to be clear, not one person rolling 6d20 divided into 3 sets?
>>
Rolled 8, 12 = 20 (2d20)

>>5314841
>>Try to wheedle out her true motivations. [Roll vs 18]
>>Who’s Magistra Versuta, exactly?
>>Ask about the dead teenager.
Hope I don't fuck up the role.
>>
Rolled 1, 15 = 16 (2d20)

>>5314841
>Try to wheedle out her true motivations. [Roll vs 18]
>Who’s Magistra Versuta, exactly?
>Ask about the dead teenager.
>>
>>5314949
Correct.

>>5314949
>>5315013
>>5315221
That's a success vs DC 18. At some point I might put together a character sheet with dice modifiers and all that, but for now I'll just try to set DCs appropriately for your level of competence. A DC 5 task for you might be a DC 35 task for someone else.
>>
I’m really enjoying this, QM. Especially considering >>5314475
Can we get an infodump on the setting? Not too much as I’m sure you wanna reveal most of that through writing, I’m mostly just wondering the tech level. You said chain-link fence earlier and had a sci fi city as an update image which was named what I assume is the name of the city we’re in, which makes me think either urban fantasy or sci fi fantasy
>>
>>5315254
I would say it's more science fantasy, I'm shooting for a feel somewhere between 1980 and 2080 but leaning more towards the latter.

The Imperium governs the world from the city of Dis, its strength predicated on its magi. Magi who overthrew the Emperors of old and created the Magisterium to share power and avoid any further messy civil wars over succession. The Magisterium have built a world of remarkable convenience, with enchanted devices for every imaginable purpose. Food is free it's so abundant, and medical care is similarly offered at no cost through public clinics. Housing has proven a bit trickier, but it could certainly be worse.

The welfare state exists largely to keep the plebeians fat and happy, the Magistri believe it is imperative to do so if they wish to maintain power. Their absolute iron grip on magic allows them to control every aspect of what the plebs watch, listen to, and read. That iron grip also leads to a sort of irregular tech level, with cell phones, flying cars, and full-dive virtual reality but only a very limited internet.
>>
>Try to wheedle out her true motivations. [32, 20, 16 vs 18]
>Who’s Magistra Versuta, exactly?
>Ask about the dead teenager.

I sucked my teeth and winced, advising her, “You should put in more effort the next time you expect me to swallow a line of bullshit this foul. I don’t believe you’re dumb enough for a moment to pass this along for free. Either it’s crap and you’re trying to distract me, or hurting the Magistra plays into your goals. I’m going to assume its the former unless you tell me otherwise.”

There was a flash of panic behind her eyes, it only lasted a moment but it was there. I narrowed my eyes at Servilla across the desk. “You need me for this, don’t you?”

“No!” she blurted out too forcefully. Panic, frustration, and finally defeat; the Maga’s expression shifted wildly in those few seconds before the resignation set in. “Fine, okay, maybe. I’m not sure there’s anyone else I’d trust to pass this along to, and you’re right that I want to see the Magistra’s name tarnished.”

“What did she ever do to you?” I asked. “In fact, what has she done in general? I can’t say the name Versuta rings any bells.”

Servilla waved a hand dismissively through the air as she explained, “She made some big discovery foundational to the theory of false apotheosis. It was twenty years ago and she’s done nothing since, but her seat on the Magisterium allows her near limitless funds for her research.”

“Somehow I feel like that’s not the whole story,” I cut in. “Only the most powerful of magi can begin to consider false apotheosis. Likewise, she must have powerful friends within the administration to have secured her seat. Why do you want to get involved in the games of the Magistri, anyway? You’ve got a long life ahead of you yet, Servilla. There’s no sense throwing it away over politics.”

I could see the gears turning in her head as a silence stretched between us. I decided to give her thoughts a push in the right direction. “I’m not opposed to helping you, Servilla, but you need to be honest with me about what I’m getting involved in.”

“If you must know,” she sighed, pointing at her face. “It’s in the eyes, Ashkai. The violet eyes are a calling card, the Magistra has them as well. We belong to a faction within the Magisterium which believes that Imperial law too strictly binds what is and isn’t acceptable research. The Magistra has pursued a course which even we find distasteful by summoning larvae and implanting them into human host. I really can’t tell you anything further. Not without angering some very powerful friends of mine.”

[1/2]
>>
Staring across the desk at Servilla, I stroked my moustache and considered the situation. The way I saw it, there were two likely possibilities. Either the rampage was the culmination of the Magistra’s rash experimentation, and Servilla’s faction was capitalizing upon a mistake; or, Servilla’s faction sabotaged the Magistra to manufacture the rampage so that they’d have a reason to investigate. The Magistra might have foiled whatever their plot was by ensuring her own loyalist were the ones to retrieve the beast, and Servilla’s faction might suspect that I’d be sympathetic to their aims because I discovered the slaughter. The details were still hazy, but a picture of events was beginning to take shape.

Regardless, there was another question I was burning to ask. “What’s with the dead kid?”

“I needed to bring his soul back temporarily in order to search his memories for evidence related to his death,” she explained, reaching up to indicate the crucifix at her neck. “It helps that I can let this thing do the heavy lifting for me, otherwise it’d probably burn me out to keep his soul around for so long. Pretty gruesome though, the kid was just a dealer who racked up more debt than he could pay off.”

>Agree to help Servilla by looking into the Magistra.
>Thank Servilla for the information but make no promise of your involvement.
>State plainly that this seems like a foolish endeavor and refuse to help.
>Write-in
>>
>>5315583
>>Thank Servilla for the information but make no promise of your involvement.
Better to keep our options open, don't want to make any promises yet.
>>
>>5315583
>Thank Servilla for the information but make no promise of your involvement.
Let's make sure she's on the up and up, first.
>>
>>5315583
>Thank Servilla for the information but make no promise of your involvement.

I concur with the others so far.
>>
>>5315583
>Agree to help Servilla by looking into the Magistra.
>>
File: Cradle.jpg (2.7 MB, 1409x1541)
2.7 MB
2.7 MB JPG
>Thank Servilla for the information but make no promise of your involvement.

My hand fell back to Calcitratus dossier. I drummed my fingers against it, saying, “I need time to think about what you’ve told me, but thank you for telling me this. I know you're taking a risk revealing this much to me.” It was as political an answer as I could muster, implying my interest but promising nothing. “I do have another case to look into, so unless there’s anything else?”

“No, don’t let me keep you. I’m procrastinating anyway,” Sevilla replied, rising to her feet and making her way around the desk.

I stood to join her and she walked me past the boy’s corpse, opening the door for me. I slipped past her into the hallway, but before she retreated into the confines of her office Sevilla drew my attention with a hand at my elbow. “I’m trusting you,” was all she said before the door closed.

Frowning in the wake of that conversation, I reached into my sash and pulled out the thin, hexagonal sheet of my crystal. It responded to my conscious desire, displaying the time across its face. It was seventy three minutes past thirteen*; curfew would take effect outside of permitted recreation districts in seventeen minutes. I was exempt, but it meant fewer civilians out on the streets and fewer volucres in the air. Tucking the device away, I headed for my office, finding it:

>A scene of organized chaos, not unlike Sevilla’s. How long had that takeout been there?
>Spartan and organized, with everything in its place and little thought to decoration.
>An image of home, scented with incense and comfortably furnished.
>Write-in

The back right corner of the room was dominated by a cradle; it was a gaudy construction of black leather and gold anchored to the floor on a heavy platform. That platform concealed the truly enormous number of cords and wires required to power the cradle and connect to the reticulum. Golden essence flowed through the body of the machine, and a solidly blue diagnostic panel indicated that it was ready to form a new connection.

[1/2]

*Imperial law divides the day into sixteen hours consisting of ninety minutes each from midnight to midnight. Each minute consist in turn of forty seconds. Smaller measurements of time are identical to our own. Curfew begins at the fourteenth hour every day and ends every morning on the fourth hour. An exception is made for permitted entertainment districts, where businesses may remain open until the second hour of the day but cannot open earlier than the ninth.
>>
My desk was squeezed into the adjacent back corner, but the rest of the room was dominated by:

[Pick Two]
>A shrine to Ashkhet, the Shining Mother; goddess of the Sun and of your homeland.
>A ritual circle inlaid across an exposed section of the bare cement floor, perfect for fine manipulations of the soul.
>A workshop stocked with gemstones and precious metals, the basic tools of an enchanter.
>A library housing a subset of my collection from home, all the most useful texts I owned.
>Write-in

Navigating across the room, I tossed Calcitratus’ dossier onto my desk and sank heavily into my office chair. It was indulgent, but I allowed myself a moment to massage the ridges of my cheekbones and the indentations of my temples. Once recovered, I turned my thoughts again to the future.

>Plug into the reticulum, do some digging into either Calcitratus, Magistra Versuta, or both.
>Begin to track down one of Calcitratus' known associates.
>Head over to the New Laurentine Museum of the Arts, it seems a locus of conspiracy.
>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.
>On second thought, maybe getting some rest isn't such a bad idea?
>Write-in
>>
>>5316096
>Spartan and organized, with everything in its place and little thought to decoration.
We're a serious kind of guy.
[Pick Two]
>A ritual circle inlaid across an exposed section of the bare cement floor, perfect for fine manipulations of the soul.
>A library housing a subset of my collection from home, all the most useful texts I owned.
Both seem very useful.

>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.
I'm hesitant to taking rest, never know which clues will disappear if we don't move fast enough.
>>
>>5316095
>An image of home, scented with incense and comfortably furnished.
If you're going to spend a lot of time in a place, might as well make it comfy.

>>5316096
>A library housing a subset of my collection from home, all the most useful texts I owned.
>A ritual circle inlaid across an exposed section of the bare cement floor, perfect for fine manipulations of the soul.
Reference books are an essential tool, and having our own work space is convenient. Any enchantment stuff is probably better done in a larger workshop, though. As for Ashket, we'll just have to make our worship a thing we do at home.

>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.
Either this or tracking down known associates, but I think doing a quick pass will be productive.
>>
>>5316095
>An image of home, scented with incense and comfortably furnished.

Was originally gonna go with spartan and organized, but I feel as if having an office furnished like home could still imply a serious outlook by implying we practically live at the office and really burn that midnight oil working.

>>5316096
>A ritual circle inlaid across an exposed section of the bare cement floor, perfect for fine manipulations of the soul.
>A library housing a subset of my collection from home, all the most useful texts I owned.

I wonder if the shrine has utility beyond merely offering an appropriate place of worship in our office, I think there was mention of divine magic and things like false apotheosis, plus it is a personal touch that makes it more interesting than the other three choices, but these are what I think are most useful.

>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.
>>
>>5316096
>A scene of organized chaos, not unlike Sevilla’s. How long had that takeout been there?
>A shrine to Ashkhet, the Shining Mother; goddess of the Sun and of your homeland.
>A workshop stocked with gemstones and precious metals, the basic tools of an enchanter.
>Plug into the reticulum, do some digging into either Calcitratus, Magistra Versuta, or both.
>>
Calling it for
>An image of home.
>A ritual circle
>A library
>Check Calcitratus' apartment.
>>
File: Sigil of the Demiurge.jpg (194 KB, 900x900)
194 KB
194 KB JPG
>An image of home, scented with incense and comfortably furnished.
>A ritual circle inlaid across an exposed section of the bare cement floor, perfect for fine manipulations of the soul.
>A library housing a subset of my collection from home, all the most useful texts I owned.
>Head over to Calcitratus' apartment to scour it for missed clues.

The apartment seemed like my most pressing concern. The local vigiles would probably only keep the site actively monitored for a day or two at most, and after that it was open to any conspirator who might have missed something in their rush to escape. Pulling the dossier closer, I flipped it open to check the address listed for the apartment. Then I pulled out my crystal, its face blackened except for thin strips of clarity sketching a map of the city’s streets. A blue dot appeared at the apartment’s location; it was deep in the forest of housing blocks called the Strues, masses of haphazardly constructed towers where plebeians could apply for open rooms at no cost. The money saved on rent went more often than not into the pockets of thugs. Residents were frequently beaten to death in order to create vacancies for paying outsiders.

I flipped the dossier closed, surveying the trinkets decorating my desk. On its left side, amidst photos of my family and beside a cedarwood acerra, sat an egg-shaped silver censer engraved with intricate patterns of ferns and flowers. The top was perforated to allow for smoke to escape while preventing the incense within from burning out. Lifting the lid by the carving of a dove which served as its handle revealed a mound of grey ash sitting within, crowned by the burnt remains of a piece of agallocha I’d placed inside that morning. Bleached of its fragrant oils by the heat, I crushed it to nothing with a thought.

Setting the lid aside, I opened the cedar incense box and retrieved from within an irregular lump of wood so dark it was nearly black. Heavier than its small size would suggest, the fragrant oils saturating the wood began to bubble and boil from its surface as soon as I dropped it into the censer. The interior of the burner was kept at a constant temperature to ensure the oils evaporated slowly and evenly. Thick, white smoke began to drift from the agallocha and its sweet, floral aroma filled my office.

I replaced the censer’s lid and closed the cedar acerra, then reached beneath my desk for a worn briefcase. The dark leather of its construction was scuffed and discolored in a number of places, and popped stitches stood at odd angles along its seams. I shoved Calcitratus’ dossier inside, then zipped it closed. My attention drifted towards a section of the floor at the center of my office where the thin carpet had been stripped away to expose the cement beneath. There the sigil of the Demiurge had been engraved in gold, many nested symbols of power intended to allow a magi to mantle the principium primum’s creative urges.

[1/2]
>>
File: The Strues.jpg (406 KB, 1920x823)
406 KB
406 KB JPG
The sigil allowed me the focus necessary and metaphysical authority to project my consciousness into the anima, but I didn’t think the technique suitable for scouting Calcitratus’ apartment. To free one’s soul from one’s corpse was never an entirely safe endeavor, the denizens of the anima could be fickle at the best of times. Besides that I’d be unable to interact with the material world, and thus unable to retrieve any evidence I might uncover.

Dismissing the idea, I picked up my briefcase and made for the door. I navigated around the sigil and through a pair of thickly cushioned divans cluttered with books, then exited into the hall. On my walk towards the elevators I noticed that most of the servi had left for the day while I’d been occupied with the Procurator and Servilla, though I didn’t pass a single row of cubicula which didn’t still have at least one diligent pleb with their head bowed over their desk. Most of them were cognitores, legal experts responsible for presenting the agency’s case in court when suspects were brought to trial.

There was no wait at the elevators, as soon as I depressed the button I heard a soft mental chime and a set of heavy steel doors slid open. After a short ride up to the roof, I stepped out onto the landing pad and walked across the darkened tarmac to the volucris I’d arrived in. It was parked in a spot labeled forty-nine in big yellow numbers. Technically any of the vehicles on the roof were mine for the taking, but I tended to use the same one each time if only out of habit. The hatch on the volucris’ left side raised as I approached, and it was airborne nearly as soon as I sat down.

The apartment complex that Calcitratus had been traced to was one of innumerable dilapidated tower blocks stretching across the northeast corner of Lauretum Novum. It was serviced by a ferravia, rusted awnings covering the station which the snaking steel track ran through. I was looking for apartment number sixty-three ninety-one, a window unit roughly halfway up the building’s south face.

>Land the volucris on the roof and navigate down to the apartment.
>Land the volucris by the ferravia and navigate up to the apartment.
>Attempt to locate the apartment from the exterior and enter through the window. [Roll vs 20]
>Write-in
>>
>>5317014
>Land the volucris by the ferravia and navigate up to the apartment.
A bit slower, but we won't alert anyone in the apartment with the sound of our landing.
>>
>>5317014
>Attempt to locate the apartment from the exterior and enter through the window. [Roll vs 20]
>>
>>5317014
>>Attempt to locate the apartment from the exterior and enter through the window. [Roll vs 20]
Crit fail break neck
>>
>>5317014
>>Land the volucris on the roof and navigate down to the apartment.
>>
>>5317069
>>5317500
>>5317606
>>5317785
Go ahead and give me three rolls of 2d20 vs 20. Post might not be out until tomorrow or Tuesday due to other obligations.
>>
Rolled 8, 2 = 10 (2d20)

>>5317951
Rollin'
>>
Rolled 15, 20 = 35 (2d20)

>>5317951

Hopefully this works?
>>
Rolled 4, 14 = 18 (2d20)

>>5317951
>>
>>5318020
>>5317973
>>5317962
Regular failure, wrong apartment.
>>
>>5318025
>inb4 we walk in to a tennant being beaten to death
>>
File: Athagian Gangster.jpg (151 KB, 1500x1500)
151 KB
151 KB JPG
>Attempt to locate the apartment from the exterior and enter through the window. [10, 35, 18 vs 20]

Assuming that Calcitratus’ apartment would be on the sixty-third story did allow me to guess roughly at what elevation it should be. On a hunch I directed my volucris to the south face of the building six thousand three hundred feet in the air, and found myself pressed down into the seat at an awkward angle as it spun sharply and rocketed off in that direction. The hum of its acceleration was briefly all-consuming before tapering off to a subtle vibration once the vehicle began coasting slowly along the line of windows.

The apartments obviously weren’t numbered from the exterior, so I was left to guess as to which one might be my destination. It was hard to make anything out through the dark glass of the windows, so my volucris twisted to face the building and the orange glow of its headlights intensified. Revealed was a middle aged man in his bed, who blearily raised an arm to shield his eyes from the light. My volucris drifted right, allowing me to scan for the presence of vigiles or a black market cradle.

At first my efforts resulted in little more than disturbing the plebs and violating a young couple’s privacy, there was no sign of anything illegal going on. Then, through the sliding glass door on a balcony, my headlights illuminated a debauched scene. It appeared that the wall between two neighboring apartments had been knocked down to create a suite, where one of the innumerable local gangs had decided to take up residence. The space was littered with makeshift furniture, clothing, half-eaten takeout, and crates. A woman lay passed out naked on a bare mattress while two men dressed like bouncers for some low-rent canaba sat playing cards and watching an overly dramatic febella on a large, flatscreen sator. In the room adjacent I spied an older, Athagian woman sitting at a table with a man from Serica while they bagged up some kind of pink powder.

The volucris stopped suddenly in mid air, jerking me to the right. The two thugs watching the sator raised their arms to shield their eyes from the light, while the Athagian woman stared dumbstruck at me. It was the Sericean man who reacted quickest, throwing his chair back and sprinting out of sight. I watched him yank open the glass door on the adjacent balcony a moment later, and then hurl himself off the ledge. Rather than fall, the man glided away as though some kind of perverse bird. An exertion of my will saw him thrown back by a powerful gust of wind, slamming into the balcony's ledge and then tumbling head over heels through its open door.

[1/2]
>>
File: Sericean Gangster.jpg (174 KB, 1800x1800)
174 KB
174 KB JPG
A pop followed by the cracking of my windshield drew my attention to one of the thugs, who was standing now and pointing a weapon at my volucris. He was athletic, his clothes worn but well-made, with a dark goatee and a thin moustache. The weapon he held was crude, an enchanted tube designed to hurl a bolt of force at its target. It was the work of an amateurish enchanter, and as lines of divine essence lit up beneath my skin it erupted into a shower of molten metal. Its wielder was left screaming as the flesh of his hands was cooked away, exposing charred bone beneath.

My volucris slowly twisted in midair, the hatch on its left side opening so that I could step out onto the ledge of the nearest balcony. A hop carried me to the floor, my boots clicking against the cement. The thug who still had the use of his hands stumbled away from me as his friend collapsed to his knees, still screaming at the ruin of his extremities. A frown creased my brow, and I silenced the racket with a thought. A long wheeze tore its way from the injured man's throat while I gently extracted the air from his lungs, granting him the mercy of unconsciousness. Only after he'd slumped forward did a twitch of my fingers undo the latch, an invisible force sliding open the balcony door.

There was silence as I entered, and I saw that the Sericean man lay slumped awkwardly against the wall in the other room. The Athagian woman had backed herself into the corner, staring at me wide-eyed and terrified. The still-conscious thug on the other hand was edging slowly towards the door, likely hoping to make his escape.

>Ask politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask not-so-politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before.
>Tend to the unconscious woman, she looks a bit bruised up.
>Write-in

>Leave peacefully.
>Leave no survivors.
>Offer to heal the gangers before you leave.
>Write-in
>>
>>5319427
>Ask not-so-politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before.

>Leave no survivors.
>>
>>5319427
>Ask politely for directions to room 6391.
>>
>>5319427
>Ask not-so-politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before.

>Leave peacefully.

Our mistake led to this but they should know better than to attack someone like us whether or not it is self-evident who we are or not. Tempted to kill everyone since I'd rather not have someone alert our quarry that we are on his case, but this situation doesn't warrant such excessive force.
>>
>>5319427
>Ask politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before.
>Leave no survivors.
>>
>>5319643

Seconding. No need to kill everyone, but maybe take a sample of the pink stuff?
>>
>>5319455
Supporting
>>
>>5319427
>>Ask not-so-politely for directions to room 6391.
>>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before

Don't know if we should kill them or not, but is no one worried about the woman ?
>>
>>5319531
>>5319700
>Manners maketh man

>>5319455
>>5319643
>>5319762
>>5320158
>>5320168
>Oi you, Fucker.

>>5319455
>>5319700
>>5320158
>BORN TO DIE / WORLD IS A FUCK / Kill Em All 1989

>>5319643
>>5319762
>Give peace a chance

Writing to ask some questions and kill some gangbangers.
>>
File: clown.png (153 KB, 293x286)
153 KB
153 KB PNG
>>5319426
>six thousand three hundred feet in the air
Going to issue a correction here, I had a brain fart and this should be six hundred thirty, not six thousand three hundred.
>>
>Ask not-so-politely for directions to room 6391.
>Ask about the pink powder, you haven’t seen its like before.
>Leave no survivors.

I eyed the would-be escapee warily. He was shorter than most, but stocky and broad, with cropped hair and a broken nose. Light flared across the backs of my hands as I grabbed my chin and the back of my own head, twisting my neck to the right until a series of staccato pops rang through the room. They were drowned out by the much grislier cracks of the thug’s neck, his head seized by telekinetic force and twisted far beyond its natural range of motion.

He slumped lifelessly to the ground as my concentration slipped. I repeated the motion, twisting my head to the left and snapping the unconscious thug’s neck in the process. It was theatrical, but theatrics could be useful given the right context. Rolling my neck from side to side, I languidly worked the tension out of my muscles before crossing through the smashed out section of drywall into the room with the Sericean and the Athagian. I killed the former with a thought, eyes flaring with divine light for the half second it took to burst all the blood vessels in his grey matter.

My attention shifted to the sole survivor, the woman had pissed herself and the smell of it was rank standing so close. She looked on the cusp of a heart attack, eyes flicking in every direction like a cornered animal searching for escape. “What is your name?” I asked, unable to keep a hint of disdain from creeping into my tone.

The woman stuttered for a moment before she managed, “Maleda.”

“I need two things from you, Maleda,” I told her, counting on my fingers for her benefit. “I need directions to room sixty-three ninety-one, and I need to know what this pink powder is that you were bagging out. Utter a single word that isn’t in answer to one of those questions, and you’ll die a quick death just like your friends.”

She was going to die regardless, but there was a smoldering ember of hope in her eyes. Licking her lips nervously, she answered, “The sixty-third floor is two stories up, and room ninety one should be at the end of the hall. Go left after you exit the stairwell. We call the powder rosea, I don’t really know what’s in it but we’ve been getting it from a woman called Kimyagar.”

An eyebrow climbed my forehead at the name. It was the Chahari word for a brewer of divinely imbued elixirs. Rogue alchemist were a rare thing, given that they were hunted mercilessly by the State. “How have you done business with this Kimyagar in the past? Did you meet in person?”

“No,” Maleda answered, shaking her head. She’d calmed somewhat under my questioning, but was clearly on edge. Her fingers worked nervously at scabs along her forearms, blood seeping from the infected sores. “It was all through agents and runners, we never met her. Arranged the buy at a popina in the city called the Ditch by talking to the bartender.”

[1/3]
>>
File: Serviens Marcus.jpg (114 KB, 659x800)
114 KB
114 KB JPG
Satisfied with the information provided, I gave Maleda the same relatively merciful end that I gave the Sericean. All the blood vessels in her head burst, the sclera of her eyes staining read as she collapsed to the floor. Her body twitched for only a moment before lying still. The sator still droned, a woman frantically complaining of her husband’s infidelity was surreal accompaniment to the violence I’d wrought. Killing wasn’t something I enjoyed, but it would’ve been too risky to leave the four of them alive.

Pacing across the double rooms, I checked briefly on the unconscious young woman. She was slumped face down against the stained mattress with pink powder on her nose and semen crusted on her lower back. Too thin, with short blonde hair and bruises distorting the proportions of what might otherwise be a pretty face. She would live, and had remained unconscious so was not a witness to my presence. I shrugged, and left her there, grabbing a small plastic bag of rosea on my way out.

The hallway was crowded with trash and what I dearly hoped was animal excrement. A man was sleeping by the door of the gang’s suite, but he stirred only slightly at my exit. I picked my way down the hallway to the right until I found an access to the stairwell. The horrid stench of rotting garbage assaulted my senses as soon as I opened the door. I coughed involuntarily, then buried my face in my elbow before venturing in. Two flights of stairs saw me to the sixty-third floor, odd that it was higher up than it ought to be. Perhaps there were hidden floors somewhere further down the building.

Emerging from the stairwell I braced myself for another scene of urban decay and neglect, but found instead a relatively neat hallway. There was trash, yes, but no vermin openly nibbling on the dead flesh of a man’s foot. I considered that an improvement. Checking the nearest door, it was numbered sixty-three seventy-eight. The one to its left was seventy-nine, and so I continued my journey down the hall following Maleda’s directions. I’d expected to see local vigiles standing guard outside, but upon arriving at my destination it appeared to be a normal apartment like any other. Come to think of it, where did Calcitratus even get the hundreds of feet of gold wire necessary to connect a jury-rigged cradle to the animula underground?

I had a revelation standing there at the threshold; there was an access point to the reticulum hidden in the building somewhere. That’s what the two missing floors contained. Calcitratus didn’t connect to the animula directly, he just hopped on to the existing connection used by the hidden cradle. It was just a hunch, but it made a lot more sense than running seven hundred feet of gold cable through the building without being reported on by any of the residents.

[2/3]
>>
File: Calcitratus' Cradle.jpg (1.59 MB, 1665x1368)
1.59 MB
1.59 MB JPG
Raising my fist to the door, I rapped my knuckles twice against the wood. Footsteps within progressed towards the doorway, and then I heard a deep voice ask from the other side, “Who is it?”

“An agent of the Magisterium,” I answered, twisting my will. The lock came undone with a heavy click, and the door swung open. The vigil on the other side stumbled back, reaching for a club at his waist only to hesitate at the sight of me holding my crystal aloft, its clear face displaying an image of my own along with the seal of the Officium Specialis Investigationis and details about my employment. My name was omitted.

The vigil relaxed, if only slightly, and I returned my crystal to my sash. He was a large man, as tall as I was, dressed in plain black fatigues which sported two red stripes across the breast pocket to indicate his rank; serviens. Obviously Keldetic, the man's tattooed face was framed by a bushy beard and long auburn hair. "The OSI, eh?" he asked, looking me up and down. "Figured the spooks would get involved sooner or later. I’m Serviens Marcus,” he introduced himself, holding out a hand.

I shook it, and then stepped past him into the apartment once introductions were out of the way. It was small, like all the other apartments in the building. There was barely enough room for the cradle, a bare mattress, and a small frigidarium. A mess of tubes and cables extended across the floor and into a torn up portion of the wall, where a glowing pipe of divine essence as thick as my wrist lay exposed. All around it cables had been cut and spliced together to make new connections, forming a chaotic tangle with no obvious beginning or end.

The cradle itself was less jury-rigged than I’d expected; it was an old model, beat up and stained but perfectly functional. The diagnostic panel on its side showed solidly blue, indicating it was ready to form a new connection. On a hunch I kicked the nearest floorboard, but there was no hollow echo to suggest a hidden compartment in that particular location.

Marcus stepped past me, walking over to the frigidarium and opening its door to retrieve a bottle of beer from within. A hiss rang through the room as he twisted off the cap in his palm.

>Investigate the cradle itself, try to access its diagnostics to see what Calcitratus was up to.
>Ask Marcus if he’s seen anyone lurking around.
>Ask Marcus about the raid on the apartment.
>Search for any hidden stashes.
>Write-in
>>
>>5320610
>Search for any hidden stashes.
>>
>>5320610
>>Search for any hidden stashes.
>>
>>5320610
>Ask Marcus if he’s seen anyone lurking around.
>>
>>5320610
>>Investigate the cradle itself, try to access its diagnostics to see what Calcitratus was up to.
>>
>Search for any hidden stashes.

Standing in the entry, I closed my eyes and focused my thoughts. Light flared beneath my tunic and a pulse of deitas rippled through the air. I felt everything; the grime between the floorboards, the bits of food stuck in the Serviens’ beard, the crusty texture of the stains on the cradle. My sense of touch expanded beyond the confines of my mortal form, and through it I detected something curious. There was a perfectly square piece of drywall elevated relative to the rest of the wall around it.

A thought rendered the plaster to dust, and revealed a small compartment carved out of the wall just barely large enough for its contents; a few hundred fiducia in wadded up chartulae plus an oblong gold rod carved with an elaborate array of divine sigils. I noticed the symbol for lightning repeated a number of times, in a number of different context. My best guess was a weapon akin to the one fired at my volucris earlier, but of a much higher quality.

>Peel off a few fiducia for the Serviens, it’s customary.
>You’ll pocket it all yourself, rather than participate in bribery.
>Write-in

>You’ll submit the lightning rod as evidence, maybe the fabricatores can do something with it.
>You’ll keep the lightning rod for yourself. As a trophy, if nothing else.
>Write-in

>Investigate the cradle itself, try to access its diagnostics to see what Calcitratus was up to.
>Ask Marcus if he’s seen anyone lurking around.
>Ask Marcus about the raid on the apartment.
>Leave, look for the hidden cradle.
>Leave, check out the Ditch.
>Leave, go home and sleep.
>Leave, go hand off evidence.
>Write-in
>>
>>5320825
>You’ll pocket it all yourself, rather than participate in bribery.
>You’ll keep the lightning rod for yourself. As a trophy, if nothing else.
>Investigate the cradle itself, try to access its diagnostics to see what Calcitratus was up to.
>>
>>5320825

>Peel off a few fiducia for the Serviens, it’s customary

Competent detectives know when to work the system and when to fight it - making friends with street-level enforcement is just common sense.

>You’ll keep the lightning rod for yourself. As a trophy, if nothing else.

Maybe we investigate it ourselves and learn something?

>>Investigate the cradle itself, try to access its diagnostics to see what Calcitratus was up to.

But dont touch anything first! Really examine the installation itself. If this isn't the original cradle, it could be bait or a trap. Potentially the real cradle in the missing floors contains our culprit?



Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.