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Tuesday, 21st December, 2010, 12:36 AM #621
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Ach. Poor Dranko, famous for dying. The guy just can't catch a break. Heh.
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Tuesday, 21st December, 2010, 02:32 AM #622
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 06:46 AM #623
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
A long update, but probably the last one before the new year. Happy holidays everyone!
Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 322
What Rosetta Was Doing
It takes just over an hour – and a very busy hour at that -- to reconstruct the ritual chamber. Most of this is spent procuring the backup sets of reagents and repositioning the poles, while Kibi uses stone shape to spot-fix numerous instances of cracked masonry and splintered rock. In the middle of this clean-up, Praska lifts her head and blinks confusedly.
“Dranko?” she says in a small voice.
The half-orc, using the decanter of endless water to spray away some of the gore, looks up. “Yeah.”
Dranko sighs. “You’re still Mokad. You’re not fooling anyone.”
Praska chuckles. “Yeah, I’m still Mokad. You got me.”
“And who’s this?” says Dranko, hoisting up Cor Kek’s headless body.
Mokad’s eyes go wide. “You killed Cor Kek! He must have been trying to rescue me.”
“Why would he have bothered?” asks Dranko. “I mean , you’re kind of a jerk.”
“Perhaps he was my friend,” says Mokad, his voice flat. “You probably understand that.”
Aravis scoffs. “You would have used him the same way you use anyone else. Like Praska.”
“You know nothing,” Mokad sneers. “You assume that because someone doesn’t share your world view, they cannot maintain friendships? I guess it’s true what they say, about how narrow-minded you goody-two-shoes types are.”
Aravis chuckles. “You mean to say, you would not have sacrificed Cor Kek, to bring back the Emperor?”
“Of course I would. And he would do the same for me, in a heartbeat, and rightfully so. Because we are willing to make what sacrifices are necessary in order to make the world right for us.”
“Why do you want to bring the Emperor back so badly?” Ernie asks. “Is he going to bring you all puppies or something?”
“The Emperor is the rightful ruler of Abernia,” says Mokad.
Dranko drops Cor Kek to the ground. “Yeah?”
“Yes. And King Crunard is a usurper.”
Dranko walks over to stand above Mokad, still chained down and anchored. “I would tell you that you could discuss this with Cor Kek in whatever afterlife you believe in, but we’re about to annihilate your soul.”
Mokad laughs. “Ah, yes, the Ritual of Seven Stars. You think it’s going to annihilate my soul?”
“That’s what it says on the box,” says Ernie.
“Maybe when you’re done, your wizards should take another look at the fine print.”
Kibi motions to the corpses of Mokad’s would-be rescuers. “Your friends wanted to stop it badly enough.”
“Oh, it will kill me just fine,” says Mokad. “But you may find that my soul will not so much be annihilated, as bent on revenge from the afterlife.”
“That’ll work, too,” says Dranko. “Frankly, I don’t see how it would be much different than now.”
Mokad is silent for a few seconds, then speaks again. “What do you suppose is going to happen to Praska when you finish this ritual?”
“You won’t be inside of her,” says Dranko. “That’s pretty important.”
“Do you want her to have any remnants at all of her old personality?”
Dranko narrows his eyes. “Why do you ask?”
Mokad chuckles again, a sound the Company has grown to detest. “Because I can see to it that she doesn’t.”
“Fine,” says Dranko, turning his back to Mokad. “You do what you need to do.”
Mokad shifts, stares at the ceiling, and becomes quiet. His eyes are glassy.
“One last thing,” says Dranko. “Everything you did to me when I was younger, I forgive you for.” Then to Aravis: “I trust you, and believe in you. Let’s do this thing.”
For the second time Aravis begins casting the Ritual of Seven Stars, assisted by Kibi, Grey Wolf and two Ellish sisters willing to take the risk. A few minutes in Mokad lifts his head one final time. “Almost done,” he says. “This is your last chance, Dranko. Praska as you know her hangs by a thread. If you wish to ever see your friend again, you will let me go.”
Dranko shakes his head at Aravis. “God speed, Mokad. God speed. Delioch will protect her, no matter what you do.”
“Then I’ll see you on the other side,” says Mokad, and these are last words he utters. The ritual progresses and he becomes comatose for the remainder. Three hours later, as all five of the ritualists toss handfuls of alchemical powders onto Praska’s body, a tremendous white light shines up from the altar like a pillar of divine wrath, a flame strike in reverse, and for ten long seconds the girl’s small body issues a piercing double-scream, man’s voice and woman’s voice mixed in suffering. Her back arches, and it seems that her silhouette will snap from the strain she exerts on the chains that hold her in place.
The light fades, and Praska’s body settles on her stone slab, and the energy bubble surrounding her fades away.
Ernie and Dranko rush to her side. Ernie casts heal.
“Praska, are you there? It’s me. Dranko.”
Praska’s eyes flutter open. She bends her neck to see the two faces at her side, their expressions studies in anxiety.
“Ernest? Dranko?” Her voice wavers, but carries the overtones of curiosity and mischief that Mokad could never emulate.
Dranko’s face breaks into a grin. “Took us long enough to figure it out.”
Morningstar, suspicious to the last, casts detect thoughts, and everything seems normal.
As Kibi moves to unwind the chains that bind Praska to the altar, Aravis steps forward. “Praska, what’s the last thing you remember?”
“I was in Hae Charagan. Just now. I was eating some stew. It wasn’t very good.”
“What year is it?” asks Dranko.
Praska realizes that no one else is laughing at the question. “1831,” she says. “It’s July.”
Dranko sighs. That was 13 months ago.
“Remember that day Mokad took you captive, and poisoned all of us?”
“Oh, Gods, yes,” says Praska. “That.”
“While Mokad had you kidnapped, he prepared your body as his little place to run to when he died.”
Praska says nothing for a second. Then: “What does that mean?”
“Well, we killed him, months and months ago now…”
“Really?” Praska interrupts. “You killed Mokad? Good for you!”
“Not really,” says Dranko. “We killed his body. But his soul then took over your body.”
Praska seems to take note of her surroundings for the first time. She sees all the trappings of the Black Circle, and the bloodstains on the stone. Kibi lifts the last of the chains from her legs. She seems suddenly pale, tiny, afraid.
“He has been riding around in you ever since,” says Dranko grimly.
“I don’t see how,” Praska protests. “I was eating in the temple, about five minutes ago…”
“It’s August,” says Ernie. “And it’s 1832.”
Praska gasps. “My Gods!”
Dranko motions to the bodies piled in the corner: “They came to stop us from freeing you. They failed.”
Praska sits up and rubs feeling back into her legs. “So, what has he… have I… been up to all this time?”
“Trying to destroy the world,” says Dranko.
“Really? I didn’t succeed, did I?”
Ernie is just suspicious enough to pop another dimensional anchor onto Praska. “It’s just to keep you safe, in case they try to grab you again,” he explains. “And no, you didn’t succeed.”
“Wow,” says Praska. “I’ve been trying to destroy the world as a Black Circle priest. Once you know I didn’t actually do it, it’s kind of neat, when you think about it.”
Grey Wolf clears his throat. “Except for the part where you killed me, and Aravis twice, technically.”
“Oh,” says Praska, at a loss. “Sorry about that.”
The Ellish sisters offer to take care of Praska, since the Company really ought to be heading to that Spire meeting about now.
“Well,” says Praska with a smile. “I can see that you wouldn’t want to invite me, if I’ve been trying to kill everyone all this time. Mokad! What a bastard!”
Dranko nods agreement. “He really was kind of a prick. But now we’ve dispersed his soul, and I trust Delioch will have pity on him.”
“I hope Delioch gives him a wedgie, honestly.”
“We’ll be back, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow,” says Dranko. “Stay out of trouble.”
Flicker has just about finished scooping all the magical plunder from the battle into his bag of holding. Morningstar insists that her share of the treasure be accounted for in minor magical items – weapons and armor, mostly – that will then be used to equip her Daywalkers.
Kibi uses stone shape to temporarily entomb the bodies of their foes, until they can return with more time to consider proper disposal of them. They only leave out Cor Kek, whose body is stripped of all but clothing, enchanted with gentle repose, and stuffed into the bag of holding along with the loot.
“Time to go,” says Aravis. “Let’s hear what Rosetta has to tell us.”
The Greenhouse is packed.
“Sorry we’re late,” says Dranko, as the Company enters via the front door. “We were unavoidably detained.”
The members of the Spire already present turn and stare at the gore-splattered party. Lady Cornelia, High Priestess of Pikon, can’t contain a gasp. “What happened to you?”
“We’ll talk about it after the meeting,” says Aravis. “First we want to hear what Rosetta has to say.”
Kibi ignores the many guests and flags down Eddings. “Ale, please. The good stuff from the basement.”
“Make it two,” says Ernie.
Ozilinsh hops over to them, buzzing with his usual energy. “Nice to see you all, though I daresay you’ve looked better. Everyone alive?”
“Two thirds of our mages died,” Grey Wolf deadpans.
“But they got better,” Ernie adds quickly.
The archmagi Fylnius and Alykeen are there, nibbling on cakes and chatting with Rosetta herself. Dranko can’t help himself.
“Well, Rosetta! You’re someone we haven’t seen in a long time!”
She looks over from her conversation and nods politely, though Morningstar thinks her look conveys ill-concealed suspicion. She is gesturing with her left hand as she speaks; her right hand is stuffed into a pocket of her shirt.
Salk, foremost of the archmagi since the death of Grawly, comes guiltily out of the kitchen licking his fingers and being roundly tsk-tsk-ed by Eddings. He joins Duke Nigel, who is talking with a woman the Company does not recognize. The Stormknight Dalesandro and King Crunard’s advisor Yale come down the stairs; most of the guests have come that way, via the secret room connected to Ozilinsh’s tower. Yale bows before the Company.
“Nice to see you all again!” She notes the spattered blood and adds, “Looks like you’ve been plying the trade.”
Dranko can’t help but notice that King Crunard himself is conspicuously absent, and asks after the health of His Royal Majesty.
“Troubled,” is Yale’s reply. "He does it to himself, of course, as he has been doing for his entire reign. As you may recall, the King is not naturally immune to the Masking, and so conducting certain aspects of his business has always taken a toll. As such, he has enforced downtime, so his brain can recover, after hearing too many reports of too many things he is not equipped to handle. I’m both happy and displeased to say the Masking is deteriorating rapidly, though I think it’s probably a net benefit. Anyway, his life is not in jeopardy, and he should recover within a few weeks. I am authorized to speak on his behalf until then.”
“It’s an honor to have you here,” says Dranko.
“Really, the honor is ours,” says Yale, “given the great deeds done by your friends.” As an afterthought she adds, “And you too, I suppose.”
Dranko forces his smile as he seethes.
“Where’s Wellington?” asks the archmage Alykeen. “I was hoping to talk to that boy.”
“Sorry,” says Yale. “He’s been assigned. He’s with the… Salk, what do they call themselves?”
“’The Happy Harriers,’” says Salk with a laugh.
“Ah, yes,” Yale continues. “Wellington, Glade and Royce have joined with Junaya and Jerzembeck’s team, and they are all currently in the Gahantropalas Forest, repelling an invasion of ‘forest demons’ that’s threatening the entire population of the island. Apparently there are thousands of them now, so we have our other elite strike team dealing with the problem. I mean, since you’ve been off doing things no doubt equally important to our collective safety.”
Rosetta snorts, but everyone else in the room nods, as if it’s beyond question that the Company spends all of their time engaged in vital pursuits.
“We should start,” she says, “but I suppose we can wait a few more minutes for the last couple of attendees. Koenig and his apprentice are coming, correct?”
“So we have time to change?” Morningstar asks, forcing a laugh. She does want to get out of her gore-soaked robes.
Rosetta raises an eyebrow, only now realizing just how sickening is the Company physical state. “You will be telling us what you’ve been up to, I trust?”
Dranko gives her a pointed look. “You’re the one who summoned us to this meeting, so you should probably go first.”
“Yes, I did, so why don’t you hurry along and clean yourselves up.” She waves vaguely with her left hand.
“You know what?” Dranko takes a step toward Rosetta. “I’m pretty sure we can have this conversation without you being so condescending.”
Rosetta smiles. “I’m not being condescending. Perhaps you shouldn’t project.”
Over the mind link, Dranko fumes. I hate her so much.
Aravis chides. No bloodshed in the Greenhouse!
Ernie joins in the hate. We took her out of God’s Thorn; we can put her back!
Morningstar sighs. I just want to hear that she did some good for our side.
While they wait for the last stragglers, making small talk, there’s a crash from the center of the room. Fylnius had just put his feet up on a low table, and it snapped in half, dumping plates and mugs onto the floor.
“I’m so sorry!” the old elf exclaims.
But many of the others remind him that the waves of extreme luck, both good and bad, are still rippling through the world, and he can hardly be blamed.
Aravis grumbles. “I was hoping the Greenhouse was immune to that.” He repairs the table with a mending cantrip.
“Especially given what we have in our basement,” Morningstar adds.
“What exactly do you have?” asks Salk.
“A giant Black Book of Evil,” says Dranko. “Also some black goo that turns people irrevocably evil.”
“Not true,” Ernie protests. “I got better!”
“Yeah,” says Dranko, “with both a wish and a miracle. And anyway you should be proud that I know such a long word!”
Yale looks thoughtfully at the table. “That is why Portia and Attrius aren’t here, you know. They’ve been assigned to guard the High Priestess of Corilayna, who many people are blaming for the rash of bad luck.”
Dranko nods. “But it’s not her fault, is it?”
“We don’t know,” says Yale. “She maintains personal innocence, but she is clearly hiding something.”
Several of the Company leap immediately to the same appalling guess.
“Corilayna fled,” says Ernie, eyes going wide. “In advance of the coming storm, just as Drosh did. Think about it. When Drosh fled, souls weren’t going to the afterlife until another deity stepped in to take His place. And now Corilayna has left, and everyone’s luck is going bonkers because no one’s regulating it.”
“As soon as another God takes over the aspect of luck, things should go back to normal,” Dranko says. “But the Adversary is coming, called by the Black Circle.”
“We think he was trapped somewhere beyond the Abyss,” adds Aravis. “The rituals in Het Branoi were designed to break down the barriers that held him. But we stopped that. He’s still trapped. But the Black Circle almost certainly still has something planned. Something new.”
“Yes, says Rosetta. “The Black Circle does indeed have something else planned.”
Conversation quiets down at this, and as the archmage Koenig has recently arrived, Rosetta declares it’s time for her to share her important news. With her right hand still in her pocket, she tells her tale.
“I have been on a secret mission, shall we say, since you all saw me last. I apologize that I didn’t tell you where I was going, but the knowledge of where I was, in anyone’s head, could have compromised things at any time. It’s the Black Circle I was dealing with, and as you…” And here she looks pointedly at the Company “… are particularly aware, their divinatory prowess is unmatched.”
Aravis mutters over the mindlink. That does make a convenient excuse for her, doesn’t it?
“The Silver Shell has certain counter-divinations, ways of finding out what the Black Circle is up to, and I am now in a position to tell you about something I have recently learned. A fortunate stroke of luck has occurred in the last day, allowing me to infiltrate the heart of the Black Circle in Kivia.”
There are many murmurs at this, and Grey Wolf manages to keep a straight face as he says, “Really!”
“Yes,” says Rosetta. “And it was no mean feat, I assure you. Few people on Abernia could have done it.”
“How could they possibly have accepted you?” asks Dranko innocently.
Rosetta outwardly ignores the intimation. “I was well-disguised. I have certain spells at my disposal known only to the Shell, and I was able to divide my mind, leaving one half exposed to the Black Circle. For all intents and purposes, I was a member of the Circle. That half had a carefully constructed history, and a personality different than my own. I told them I was from a branch of the Black Circle near Bederen, and gave them some intelligence that they could have found out anyway – events on Kivia, and nothing to do with Charagan, I assure you. I needed to provide them with bona fides, and an excuse for being there. It got me in the door. The other half of my brain was able to slowly make investigations into what the Black Circle was up to.”
Rosetta waits for the whispers of the assemblage to die down again, before pointing to the unfamiliar woman who had been chatting with Duke Nigel. “I would like to acknowledge my partner Etria, who was vital in keeping me alive, uncompromised and sane. You are probably not familiar with Kai Kin – a city on the southern coast of Kivia…”
Ernie pipes up. “I hear they have delicious custard!”
Rosetta stops her narrative and peers at the halfling. “You know about Kai Kin?”
“I’ve uh, heard the name, in conjunction with the dessert.”
“It’s in a country called Ocir in south-central Kivia,” Rosetta explains. “They are extremely insular, xenophobic, but still one of the more powerful countries on the continent. They have a large army, and the Black Circle is very strong there; though they are not intimately tied to the government, they wield a great deal of influence. Remember, in Kivia, the Black Circle is seen as benign, which we all know is a lie. But certainly well-meaning citizens of Kivia – and you also know this from your previous visit – are inclined to give them life energy in return for answers to questions.
“I think the use of all that collected life energy is currently an integral component of the Black Circle’s main ongoing plot, a plot I believe to be dangerously close to its conclusion. That is why I called this emergency meeting, the moment I learned what it was.
“I confess, though I had been in the Black Circle temple for months, I had been somewhat stymied. I knew that there was a scheme brewing, and I knew who had information about it, but they are extremely capable when it comes to keeping secrets. Even from me. I knew that their high priest, an extremely formidable man named Cor Kek, kept extensive notes on this project but in a place I could not access.”
Ernie can hardly contain himself, knowing that Cor Kek’s remains are currently in Flicker’s bag of holding.
“But you were able to access it just recently,” Grey Wolf prompts.
“Yes. Because after many months of scratching around the edges – and I can’t explain this, and I worry that this is part of a trap that is still in the process of closing – all of the Black Circle leadership in the temple at Kai Kin teleported away, en masse, all at once. I realized that that was my chance. I burned several scrolls, some of them the only ones of their kind in the possession of the Silver Shell, and I managed to force entry into the inner sanctum of Cor Kek beneath the temple. I found his notes, took them, and immediately teleported out, to a designated sanctum in the temple of Pikon in Hae Charagan. I then spent the next hour reading Cor Kek’s journal. I thought time was probably of the essence, and having read Cor Kek’s plots, I am now certain of it. I don’t know where he is, but I assume that any moment he will discover the theft."
She scratches her nose awkwardly with her left hand.
The old woman Etria speaks up suddenly. “You can tell them what it cost you , you know.”
Rosetta rolls her eyes, but Etria just stares at her, so she pulls her right hand from her pocket. It’s black, withered, shriveled to half its original size. All of the fingers are useless twigs.
“The cost of holding Cor Kek’s journal turned out to be my right hand,” she says simply. “It cannot be regenerated. I did divine ahead of time that it wouldn’t be fatal, and thought I might not have the time to remove the traps. So I went ahead and opened it, and this is the price I paid.”
No one speaks for a few seconds after that. Rosetta only seems annoyed that she was asked to bring it up.
Morningstar breaks the silence. “I hate to be rude, but given all we know about the Black Circle, how do we know your mind has not been compromised?”
Rosetta puts her ruined hand back in her pocket and nods to Morningstar. “Etria?”
Etria stands up. “As you most of you know, I am Duke Nigel’s court wizardess, and have been for many years. On Rosetta’s recent mission, I was her failsafe. In Kai Kin there is a section of the city in which they house the foreigners. I spent three months cooped up in a small boarding room, only coming out for meals, and to keep up my front as a merchant. In that room I used a number of magical spells and devices, designed to monitor Rosetta’s mental state at all times. We had a means to teleport her away if anything went wrong. Fortunately nothing did. Inasmuch as you can trust my judgment – and I am a wizard of no small means – I can say that Rosetta’s mind has not be tampered with during the operation.”
“I would feel better if we could question you under truth magic,” says Morningstar.
“I would be happy to let you,” says Etria. “I understand your desire for certainty.”
“Etria,” Rosetta snaps. “You don’t have to do that. We all know that you’re fine.”
“No, I think Morningstar is correct,” says Etria. “You know how strong the Black Circle is. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.”
High Priestess Cornelia casts several truth spells, including zone of truth and detect lies, and Etria appears to believe everything she says concerning the mission. When that appears to be enough for the assembled dignitaries, some of the Company grumble. “We were questioned under truth magic,” says Morningstar pointedly, “but that didn’t stop you from suspecting us anyway.”
Rosetta sighs and looks directly at Morningstar. “I don’t believe – I never believed – that you are consciously working for the Black Circle, or betraying us in any way. But you had prolonged contact with them without knowing the extent of their power, and I still think that that level of scrutiny was, and continues to be, entirely warranted.”
She thanks Etria, who sits back down.
“Let me get to the heart of the report,” says Rosetta. “Why we are all here. And I know you say this house is inviolable, but When Cor Kek returns and discovers his journal is missing, he will try to divine our whereabouts, and they may have a means to penetrate it.
“It turns out that the Gate at Verdshane, which Ozilinsh’s company so commendably sealed up, you especially, Aravis, is only one of two weak points between Volpos and Abernia. The second one, heretofore unknown, is the one the Black Circle is currently attempting to breach. It is, according to the journal of Cor Kek, an enormous ring of gartine, in Il-Drosh, in Kivia. Even the Black Circle’s knowledge of this is imperfect.
“There is a series of ravines in Il-Drosh, covered by a magical fog, they think, and warded from all divinations from without. Even inside, the Black Circle believes divinations will not function. It is a heavily enchanted area. No one has a visual record of having been there. And the gate – this skysteel ring – is supposedly guarded. Droshian necromancers set an army of undead to guard it many centuries ago. It is not entirely dissimilar to the gartine arches we have seen elsewhere, in that it needs to be activated in some way.”
And at the mention of this tremendous gartine ring, the Company’s thoughts are harkened back to a poem, a set of five verses found by One Certain Step in his church library almost two full years ago. Four of the five of these verses have long since been deciphered, their predictions and warnings come to pass. But the fourth never made much sense until this very moment.
read the signs as the shadows flow
see a fearsome emerging foe
light must rive the last of five
but don’t expect to come back alive
read the signs, you are not alone
those from lands that the foe called home
are fighting the war on a distant shore
to barricade the circle door
know them then by their mix of blood
man and holbytla and child of wood
know them each by their foreign speech
in the court of cats on the day of reach
tell them the door is close at hand
the foe can come forward in any land
his armies will roll through a skysteel hole
and turn their home to a bed of coal
go with them to your certain doom
and be the one in the lightless room
if the light will thrive you must contrive
to go with them to the last of five
…to be continued…
Last edited by Sagiro; Sunday, 2nd January, 2011 at 03:58 AM.
Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 01:57 PM #624
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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Merry Christmas and happy holidays, Sagiro & Company.
>"You must spread some experience around before giving points to Sagiro again."
Anyone else infuriated by this lil' pop up?! Even for people who I can't even remember giving XP to/or the last time I did...this comes up! Sucks.
BUT, have a very merry and I'll lookin forward to the continuing awesomeness in 2011.
(Group drawing might be done by then too.
*SD's universal post disclaimer: In case it's not obvious, for the thick of skull or thin of skin, as with all posts on the interwebs, all of the above should be read/taken as "IMNSHO" and are not intended as "insult" or "attack" to anyone or any other opinions/preferences involved.
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Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 02:07 PM #625
Guide (Lvl 11)
All those times Rosetta spoke so respectfully about Cor Kek & his might, I can't believe that Dranko didn't drop Cor Kek's head in front of her.
- Bob Huss
[H]e's dead and poisoned and possibly insane on another plane. It's a very stylish death, but a definitive one. - Piratecat
Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 02:39 PM #626
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
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Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 06:03 PM #627
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
I love that Mokad keeps inspiring doubt. I don't know about your players, but I kept worrying that Praska was going to come back without her memories, or personality or something. Also, I love the fact that the Black Circle attack had collateral benefits--keeping the other side's high-level people occupied can pay off in unexpected ways.
I'd give you some xp, but I can't. At this point, I'm surprised that there's anyone left who can.
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The Journals of Konrad Jagger, Licensed Diabolist, a storyhour I write set in the same world as Aphonion Tales, but about different characters.
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Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 08:40 PM #628
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Thursday, 23rd December, 2010, 08:51 PM #629
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Friday, 24th December, 2010, 03:49 PM #630
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
So... is he dead and gone and annihilated this time, or is his soul still out there somewhere, moaning and plotting? Or is that just a bit of an open question?
Also: how long has the campaign gone on in game-time? I've always assumed, somehow, that the passage of time was roughly equivalent to the real-time 15 years you've been playing, but if they killed Mokad "months ago" and Step received his prophecy "two years ago", then, not so much. 5 years of game time? They were summoned to the tower in 1828?