A Rose In The Wind: A Saga of the Halmae -- Updated June 19, 2014


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    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga of the Halmae -- Updated June 19, 2014

    **In addition to its regularly updated form on these Boards, this Story Hour is being collected into PDF form through the generous work of StevenAC. For those who wish to read the collected first 35 chapters in PDF form, they can be found here: http://stevenac.net/rosewind/StoryHour.htm. Otherwise -- and for the most recent updates and comments -- read on!**

    ###

    Good things happen on Fajitas’ birthday. Six years ago, Spyscribe commemorated the day by introducing the Story Hour http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-h...tml#post730523 Her reasons for beginning the story hour were that she was (a) compulsive and (b) poor. Our reasons for beginning this one? Well, we are (a) obsessive and (b) not exactly rich. Bottom line: it is again Fajitas’ birthday, which makes it a perfect time to begin this chronicle of the new Halmae campaign, which began a couple of months ago. We could never try to be Spyscribe, but we hope we’ll tell an enjoyable story, with much gratitude to Fajitas for giving us the story to tell.

    Much has changed since the end of the campaign chronicled in “Welcome to the Halmae.“ A couple of the players moved away (we miss them!) and Spyscribe, lured by the inexorable draw of a career, has taken a (short-term) position across the country. A few players (including Ilex and jonrog1) have joined the group. And in the Halmae, sixteen years have passed since the end of the last campaign. Ekht’s fire still burns; Kettenek’s halls still ring with justice, and Sedellus’ cold wind still blows over Alirria’s seas. The shape of the Halmae remains the same, but her political climate has changed.

    . . . And – since we didn’t have our acts together well enough to have a full post ready by today, more time will pass before the story truly begins. But watch this space.

    In the meantime, a taste, in the post below: the introductory text that Fajitas provided us when he handed us each a player packet.

    Happy birthday, Fajitas.

    Ellinor and Ilex
    Last edited by ellinor; Friday, 20th June, 2014 at 02:09 AM.
    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga Of The Halmae. It's like "Daughter Of Welcome To The Halmae." Um, literally.

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    And so it begins

    Her name is Roseanna Giulietta di Raprezzi.

    Her friends call her Rose.

    The Church of Sedellus calls her The Sacrifice.
    Before she was conceived, her mother sought to save a city by offering up “her children yet unborn” as a Sacrifice of Death. The woman thought she was sacrificing her fertility. What the lurking Goddess, the Dark Mistress of Fate, of Autumn, of Trickery and Deceit thought she was offering, none can say for sure.

    Now Roseanna is sixteen years old, the age of majority in the Halmae.

    And she is tired of waiting to see what Fate has in store for her…
    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga Of The Halmae. It's like "Daughter Of Welcome To The Halmae." Um, literally.

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    ř Ignore spyscribe
    So excited to read about this! The hints I've gotten so far have been fascinating...

    Thanks for writing it up for us!
    Welcome to the Halmae
    Where all the fighters are strong, all the sorcerers are good-looking, and all of the familiars are above average.

    Now with sequel goodness! A Rose in the Wind: A Saga of the Halmae

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    ř Ignore Ilex
    This is a test: if you have been a truly loyal reader of Spyscribe's story hour, then you have heard me mentioned, though only the truest of the true believers will recall it. But think back. Once, a discussion arose about the implied Buffy reference in the title of the story hour, "Welcome to the Halmae." Spyscribe and Fajitas explained that neither one of them had intended to make the reference, despite being huge fans of the show. Spyscribe added that her roommate surprised both her and Fajitas by calling attention to the Buffiness of the title.

    I was that roommate.

    I spent several years hearing Spyscribe's stories of this game. I read the story hour, since so many of my friends were involved. I even sat in on a session once. The whole time, though, I was convinced that this was not for me. "I'm a geek, sure," I would think to myself, "and certainly when I created elaborate adventure games to play outdoors with my friends as a kid, I was doing something akin to this and loving it. And absolutely I enjoy board games that have some plot and character to them, especially when I play them with this exact group of people. And it's true that I become obsessively fond of long saga-ish TV shows. And there's always the fact that, like others in this game, I'm a writer, but ... nah, D&D just isn't for me. It's all, y'know, math."

    As this new campaign began to take shape, Fajitas, WisdomLikeSilence, and the rest of the group went to work.

    Time passed.

    At some point, I noticed vaguely out of the corner of my eye that they were all laughing at me a lot, fondly, like proud parents (also evilly, like vampire sires, but let that go) ...

    ... and I was far too busy contemplating the details of my character's theological stance to care.

    It now seems only fitting that I'm teaming up with Ellinor to begin the new saga. Hope you enjoy, and, of course...

    Happy Birthday, Fajitas!!!

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    I am looking forward to more excitement from the Halmae. Thanks for starting this up, and Happy Birthday, Fajitas!
    Enemies are the price of Honor.
    ~Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, Wizard of the First Order

    Fear. Fear attracts the fearful. The strong. The weak. The innocent. The corrupt. Fear. Fear is my ally.
    ~Darth Maul

    No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.
    ~Yoda

    I don't want the Tyranny of Fun to become one of PF RPG's design principles. That's 4e's province, and I'd happily leave it that way.

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    I look forward to it.

  7. #7
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    I Defended The Walls!

    ř Ignore coyote6
    Hey, belated congratulations to Fajitas on the Leverage ep. Great fun!

    But, man, GMing for your boss has got to be hard. "Uh of course Kormick crits on a 16. Any word on raises?"

    Sent from my MB860 using Tapatalk
    - 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

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    Thanks, Coyote! Glad you enjoyed.

    GMing for the boss isn't too bad. The harder part is not geeking out about the game while at work...
    Welcome to the Halmae
    A Rose in the Wind
    Pimping for Justice was Just the Beginning...

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    24x01

    A breeze ruffled the torn jerkin of the beaten Questor at Tavi’s feet. The sun was rising.

    Staring at the Ehktian holy symbol hanging around the man’s neck, Tavi was sure he knew what was going on here . . . but he wasn’t ready to admit it, even to himself.

    “Should we take him back to the Inquisition for questioning?” Twiggy asked.

    “Or there’s an alley right there,” Savina replied, pointing.

    “Savina, my dear,” Kormick said, “are you suggesting we drag an unconscious man into an alley to interrogate him? How far you’ve come.”

    Tavi grabbed the man under the shoulders, pulled him into the alley, and threw a bucket of something – it was water, once – over the man’s face. “Wake up,” he barked.

    The man gurgled and opened his eyes.

    Time for answers, Tavi thought. “Why did you attack us?”

    “For the bounty.”

    Tavi’s bad feeling about this instantly grew worse. “Who offered the bounty, and what are the terms?”

    “Some Hennan family. Di something. Offered fifty thousand gold for the capture of . . .” the man propped himself up on an elbow and looked around. His eyes finally settled on Rose. “Her. Capture her, bring her to the Temple of the Questors in Pol Henna, ask for ‘Lira.’ ” He slumped back down and closed his eyes. “The notice said not to kill anyone. We didn’t kill anyone. —Did we?”

    The man passed out again. Tavi, his bad feeling confirmed, squelched the urge to kick him—this man wasn’t the real target of his anger.

    “Fifty thousand gold. Wind’s ,” Mena swore and smacked the wall beside her, mirroring Tavi’s feelings perfectly. “So every Questor from here to Pol Henna is looking for us.”

    “Probably on the other side of Pol Henna, too,” Kormick pointed out.

    “Diego said our mother was under control. He must have been wrong,” Tavi told Rose.

    “This bounty was set by your mother?” Nyoko gasped. “What kind of sick woman would put a bounty on her own child?”

    Tavi had asked that question, or variations on it, many times himself. He knew the answer. “A desperate one, who thinks it is the best way to protect Rose. She’s wrong about that, but she doesn’t know it.” He reached in his mind for a memory in which his mother let anyone else make a decision about Rose. He couldn’t find one. “She probably never will.”

    In retrospect, Tavi couldn’t be surprised that their mother had taken such drastic steps. When she had herself left home at 16, trying to escape the marriage her father had arranged for her, her father had done the same thing to try to bring her back. Tavi had hoped she would avoid emulating her father’s heavy-handed abuse. He now saw that she was beyond caring about heavy-handedness.

    Tavi put his arm around Rose’s shoulder and squeezed.

    For a moment, all was quiet. But the sun was up now, and carts clattered in the distance. They had their answers. They bound the Questor and brought him to the Hall of the Inquisition to be dealt with.

    As they explained what had happened, Lord Ono sat behind his desk, his head in his hands. He pressed his thumbs against his temples before looking up.

    “Some Inquisitors are capable of going their entire careers without being attacked. You’ve been attacked twice in three months.”

    “We understand how unusual this is, Lord Ono-san,” Tavi replied, as deferentially as possible. “It appears that our mother has set a reward for Rose’s return to Pol Henna. But we understand the importance of our work here in Cauldron and wish to continue it. We do not want to create any inconvenience for the Inquisition.”

    Lord Ono got a far-away look in his eyes. “I long for the days of mere ‘inconvenience.’” He paused. “But we must put a stop to this at once. An attack on Signora di Raprezzi-san is an attack on the Inquisition, and it is unacceptable.” Lord Ono rang a bell near his shoulder. In a few seconds, a runner appeared. “Fetch Yudai and Mawu,” Lord Ono said.

    ###

    Savina recognized the first of the two names. Prime Inquisitor Yudai had led the initial Inquest into the Hillside District, and had allowed the Alirrian heresy there to continue.

    “I don’t know where Yudai-san personally comes down on the Affirmation,” Lord Ono said, as if reading Savina’s mind, “but he is a servant of the Inquisition and Kettenek. When it comes to ending an attack on the Inquisition, he’ll be helpful.”

    “And . . . Mawu?” Savina asked.

    “Mawu-san is exceedingly good at her job,” Lord Ono replied, cryptically.

    “What is her job?”

    “Torture,” said Lord Ono.

    At that moment, the two Inquisitors arrived. As Lord Ono discussed the situation with them, Savina took in their appearances. Prime Inquisitor Yudai was in his late 40s or early 50s, with salt-and-pepper hair and a goatee. He seemed almost to blend into the environment, with a look as gray and nondescript as his robes. Chief Questioner Mawu was an older woman, short and rounded, with deep wrinkles, steel-gray hair, and intense, heavy-lidded eyes. From her shoulder hung a folded leather case, which she stroked in an apparently absent-minded gesture.

    Yudai bowed. “I am Prime Inquisitor Yudai.” He turned to Savina. “Signora Savina-san, I understand we are indebted to you for two reasons: your work in Hillside and your role in last night’s drama. I am sure you did not enjoy being groped by Aga Aki-san, but I assure you his embarrassment was enjoyed by many of us.”

    Savina was surprised by his genial nature. She was not ready to warm up to him, but it was a start.

    Mawu made no introduction, but continued to stare and stroke her leather case. Occasionally she whispered something inaudible, as if comforting an unseen pet.

    Savina didn’t doubt that she was good at her job.

    Lord Ono waved them off. “Go. Find the perpetrators. Do what you need to. Send a message that this will not be tolerated.”

    ###

    Outside Lord Ono’s office, they hesitated. How does one stop an entire city from pursuing a bounty, and apprehend the attackers, all at once? Finally, Kormick voiced what was hiding in everyone’s mind: “We need to get more information from our prisoner. He passed out before we really got going.”

    For the first time in their acquaintance, Mawu spoke. Her mouth smiled, but her voice was hard and even, like a spade dragged against rock. “Would you like me to ask him some questions?”

    Twiggy shivered. It was a question to which every answer was wrong.

    As they descended the stairs to where the Questor was being held, Yudai peppered them with questions about the Questors’ practice of pursuing bounties and rewards.

    “We’re not trying to stop them from pursuing bounties generally, just from attacking the Inquisition,” Twiggy said. The Affirmation protected legal Ehktian activity, including the pursuit of appropriate bounties. After his errors in Hillside District, however, Twiggy didn't quite trust Yudai to understand that they weren’t here to prosecute Ehktians for being Ehktians. “We bear no ill will toward the Questors.”

    “Ill will is irrelevant, Twiggy-san,” Yudai responded. “Sometimes we show mercy by cutting off hands and feet.”

    “Hands and feet,” Mawu repeated, softly, stroking her leather case.

    Twiggy wondered what they had gotten themselves into.

    ###


    Tavi watched the cage as Kormick cranked it up into sight. Inside, the Questor was awake, and pacing the two-step diameter of the cage.

    “What else do you want to know?” the Questor volunteered. Tavi wondered if Mawu’s assistance would be necessary, after all.

    “Your name, who you were working with, how you met them,” he snapped.

    “I’m Tavek. The boss man – he’s the one with glasses – we never got his name. The woman is Odelette. We met at the Questor chapter house. Boss man said we could share the bounty if we worked together.”

    Kormick strode over. “That’s three names. There were four of you.”

    Tavek crossed his arms. “I’ve been very cooperative,” he said, and shrugged.

    “And you think you can stop now?” Mena stepped forward. “You put our friend in danger for a paycheck, and you lost. It’s over. You want a challenge? Try being honest.”

    Tavek cocked his head defiantly. “I have been honest, I assure you.”

    Kormick stood very close to Tavek. “Understand: you need to tell us everything you know.” He gestured at Yudai and Mawu. “I’m from the murder capital of the Eastern Continent and these people terrify me.”

    Tavek made no move to speak.

    Kormick waved to Mawu with the international gesture for “he’s all yours.”

    Mawu unfolded her leather case. Inside there was a series of shiny metal instruments. Mawu purred at them like pets. She pulled out a few long needles, so thin they were difficult to see. “Tavek-san,” she said, “you had better come with us.” She unlocked the cage and turned the needles so they caught tiny glints of light. “My friends and I have some questions for you.” She walked slowly toward a nearby door and—eyes wide—Tavek followed. Nyoko, following Mawu’s nonverbal signals with a look of resignation, followed as well. Tavi recalled one of Nyoko’s early descriptions of the Adept’s responsibilities as Witnesses: “see everything, hear everything, be prepared to testify.” Tavi wasn’t sure he had realized, fully, what that entailed until this moment.

    “She’ll find out what he knows,” said Yudai, after they’d left.

    The minutes passed slowly as they waited. Eventually, Nyoko emerged, pale, from the side door. Mawu and Tavek followed immediately after her. “Such a dramatic response from such tiny instruments,” Nyoko whispered to Tavi, quiet enough that Tavi thought no one else could hear.

    “It is a technique based on acupuncture,” Mawu answered, as she slid the needles back into their spaces in the leather case. Tavi tucked “super-sensitive hearing” away in his memory.

    Nyoko reported the answers she had witnessed. The name of the fourth attacker was Ellisen, and he and Tavek were romantically involved. At sundown, they had planned to escape through tunnels in the North of the city and rendezvous with the other attackers at a place in the Ketkath known as the “silent waterfall.” Odelette had her own so-called “foolproof way of evading the law,” which Tavek did not know, but he knew that she had been staying at the Inn of Opulent Luxury. The man with glasses had not described an escape plan at all: he’d said he planned to “walk out the main gate of the city.”

    “That is all he knows,” Nyoko said. “Truly.”
    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga Of The Halmae. It's like "Daughter Of Welcome To The Halmae." Um, literally.

  10. #10
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    In the interests of full disclosure and general amusement, I should probably mention that in this session, Yudai and Mawu were played by my father and mother respectively.

    I should also say that nothing I have ever done in the campaign freaked my players out as much as my mother's role-playing of Mawu...

    ...until very, very recently, that is.
    Welcome to the Halmae
    A Rose in the Wind
    Pimping for Justice was Just the Beginning...

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