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  1. #201
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    Ber Games

    Session 35

    During our waiting period for the 2nd audience with Bruse Shantus, we take some time to gather more information about Pemberton and his business in Ber. So we ask for directions and are led to a wooden hut bearing the Pemberton Industries sigil. Unfortunately, Mr. Pemberton is absent and currently represented by an orc named Bradko. Said orc, who's clad in the proper suit of a businessman, claims to be Mr. Pemberton's sales agent and explains that his boss is currently on a business trip to southern Ber.

    What's truly surprising though is the fact that Bradko happens to be the very same orc we saw roasting marshmallows with Mr. Fordren when we just arrived at court. And as Mr. Fordren and Mr. Pemberton are direct competitors, we do find this fact pretty odd at least. So we ask Bradko about his ties to both industrialists as we suppose that this guy is making a fool of either of the two or at least spying on one of them.

    As we chat a bit with Bradko, we do realize though that he seems to be on good terms with both of them and assures us that he wouldn't do anything that could hurt either one's enterprise in Ber. On the contrary, Bradko seems interested in supporting both Permberton's and Fordren's interests to the best of his abilities. So maybe the two businessmen are only making everyone believe they're competitors while secretly sharing tech or something like that...

    Anyways, we ask Bradko to deliver a message to Mr. Pemberton where we ask him for a short chat about the Shaggy Mk.2 and the automaton's specifications. Plus we wish to thank him personally for his help in Sawyer. To our surprise, Bradko hasn't even heard of Sawyer or Macdam, which is really weird as this is the main hub of Permberton Industries. He agrees to deliver our message though.

    Next, Auryn plans to set up a dueling contest to gain more attention. Carlyle isn't so sure whether this is such a good idea as she'd risk giving away too much of her fighting style to possible future opponents like the danorans, but she assures her partner that she'd only be using basic techniques that will certainly be enough for the drunkards she'd expect to challenge her.

    (yeah, she's got a lot more confident than she'd been about a year ago)

    Auryn's assessment turns out to be right in the end and she manages to send all challengers either running or to the ground after one or two precise hits. Meanwhile, Carlyle stands at the sidelines of the dueling circle and spots Rush Münchhausen who's seemingly unable to pull free from Merton Goncala's firm grip. He overhears the hothead debating with the far more somber but half-deaf half-orc about whether or not he should teach that shining elvish knight a lesson. Merton wins the argument by saying that no one, not even Rush, would want to defy Madame Lya Jierre's orders. Seems as if someone's at least trying to avoid attention or trouble.

    After Auryn's fighting session, we continue discussing our theories about Oddcog. We do talk about the possibility that the gnome hiding with the Bruse could be yet another Obscurati mission and that he might be using the growing industrialization of Ber to build yet another colossus. After all, it was Grappa who made Borne go rogue and he wouldn't be around this time. We keep that thought in mind and are then called to our audience with the Bruse.

    Inside the court's castle, we meet up with Lya Jierre and her two bodyguards and are then brought to the audience room where the Bruse's two counselors are already waiting for us. It takes some time for the Bruse to finally arrive and he seems both irritated and amused at the situation presented to him. He says that he doesn't wish to decide yet which side to choose in this competition, so he'll just let a game decide whether the privilege of questioning Tinker Oddcog shall go to Danor or Risur. He mentions two challenges but leaves the details up to grand vizier Zarkava:

    The lizard woman explains that the Bruse asks of two tasks that need to be completed before any team may even have a chance of seeing the gnome. One of these tasks is the completion of the Cantabrilla Railroad, a tedious venture that's processing much slower than the Bruse originally wished. The other task is dealing with Cavallo de Guerra, his old companion and stubborn rival.

    For the Cantabrilla Railroad challenge, each team is assigned to a construction company: either the Liss company or the Griento building company. Each company has to complete 18 remaining miles of track until their contract is fulfilled. And whichever company finishes first will determine which of our two teams will be winner of this contest. Zarkava then says that his Bruseship has decided that that Danorans shall meet up with the Griento company in Renza while the Risuri shall support Liss who started in Reo Pedresco.

    The grand vizier then adds that the remaining tracks are to be constructed in the untamed riverlands and includes bridges that need to be erected. After she finished her exposition, we ask the grand vizier for a minute of privacy as we wish to discuss our proceedings. We then privately talk about the idea of convincing the Bruse to let us side with Griento instead as we know him and trust that his enterprise will include a solid workforce. In the end, we decide to stick with Liss however, as we could use our good connections to Griento (which are yet unknown to everyone else) for a far more subtle strategy.

    After our moment of privacy, Zarkava explains the situation of Cavallo who resides in Citada de Cavallo at the northern coast. She says that the old orc is an old companion of Bruse Shantus and Vairday Bruse back from the time when the first Bruse united the tribes of Ber. But while Cavallo de Guerra respected Vairday, he's been quite reluctant to accept Bruse Shantus as his superior. On top of that, he refuses to pay for the railway that shall connect his city and the rest of Ber. So the Bruse asks the emissaries from Risur to convince Cavallo to change his mind on both subjects.

    Then the grand vizier shocks us all when she reveals the Bruse's challenge for team Danor: Instead of making Cavallo bend the knee, he wishes them to discredit the old orc by making him attack the border keep of Man Hill. Which is on Risuri ground and manned by our compatriot soldiers. Zarkava adds that the Bruse surely doesn't wish war with Risur and expects the risuri navy to obliterate the small attack force which would then allow Bruse Shantus to strip Cavallo of his responsibilities and ranks.

    Besides these two tasks which would both earn one point, there will be three additional points to be awarded by the Bruse, Zarkava Ssa'lit and Kenna Vigilante. As the game is set to start tomorrow morning with the first sunrise, neither of the teams is allowed to leave the summer court before this time. In addition, each team shall appoint their members which will be noted on a special list. The teams are not allowed to directly harm each other, but this doesn't rule out third-party interference.

    Lya takes the first turn to announce her team which consists of herself, Rush, Merton, and her servants Inez and Ulrik. Then it is our turn and we register Carlyle, Auryn and Margit as part of our team. By leaving out Flying Spark and still-undercover Burton, we plan to utilize the third-party rule to use them for possible interception missions later. We also ask Kenna Vigilante for a complete copy of the game's rules so we may see the full picture all the time.

    The audience ends and the Bruse announces that he's going to enjoy seeing and hearing about our progress.

    (So... Bruse Shantus just confirmed that he's more interested in sports than in everything else. Which was totally not surprising, even if the Man Hill mission was ludicrous in our eyes. We later discussed whether this game would be lunacy or an actually clever strategic plan.

    The Cantabrilla Railroad challenge would force Danor and Risur to invest heavily in a bogged down infrastructure project and we guessed that this one could have been the idea of Kenna Vigilante.

    But Cavallo was a whole different topic. Sure, the risuri mission of reasoning with the stubborn orc would spare him a lot of hassle, even if it would have been foreign agents that'd solve internal beran problems. But an attack on Man Hill would bear the risk of igniting a war between Risur and Ber, two nations with rather friendly relationships. Even if he could call it a rogue attack later, the damage would still be done, especially in times when Risur and Danor were about to make a lasting peace.)


    After the audience with Bruse Shantus is officially over, we immediately discuss the issue of the Cavallo challenge. We agree that the relationship between Risur and Danor will inevitably take massive damage should Lya go through with her mission. After all, Bruse Shantus just openly called for Danor to incite Cavallo so much that he'd be tricked into attacking his neighbors. Auryn believes that we need to talk to Lya before the game officially starts to lay out the consequences for Danor and her peace efforts should she really try to make Cavallo attack Risur.

    We believe that she'd be reasonable enough to find a more clever solution for the Bruse's strange challenge and also for the issue of our Oddcog troubles. After all, Lya is such a no-nonsense person that she'd most likely be fed up by the minotaur's idea of “fun” already. Carlyle agrees, but he'd like to wait for Lya Jierre to make the first move as he would like to assess whether she's truly willing to cooperate. Since she's been the one who called herself advocate of peace, he says, she's actually the one who'd lose most of all.

    While we're still talking, we realize that Team Lya is about to withdraw from the castle, so we decide to follow them at a distance. When we see that they are entering the danoran tent, we turn invisible and approach the tent to listen to their conversations. What we do hear are disturbing cries coming coming from Ulrik. After a while, the cries ebb off and Ulrik starts speaking in a much more mature and calm voice. A voice that could very well belong to Nicodemus. Lya then explains to this person that she's very much in trouble and lays out some of the game's details, especially the part where she shall convince a foreign Lord to attack Risur. Nicodemus answers that he understands her troubles and that he'd suggest making a deal with Risur as far as this is possible. However, her mission has to be given priority in the end.

    We withdraw back to our own tent as we expect Lya to ask for said deal soon. As we expected, Lya shows up not much later and utters the wish to talk about this delicate situation she's been put in by Bruse Shantus' challenge. She adds that she has really no interest in risking all of her work and effort towards a lasting peace with Risur because of one mad Bruse and his stupid game. We agree as we're not really keen on playing this game either and add that the Bruse has put all of us in a very dangerous situation. So we suggest to skip the parts where we'd be true competitors, just do our thing and then bring Oddcog to a neutral place where both factions would have the chance to question him together.

    It appears as if Lya doesn't personally object to our plan, but she hints that her orders include bringing the gnome to Cherage which hardly qualifies as a “neutral place”. From her subtle comments we also get that these orders include Obscurati interests, so someone higher up in the organization most likely wishes to see Oddcog be brought to to Cherage.

    So we take these hints as a basis for asking Lya whether she still feels obligations or any sense of affiliation with this group which is so clearly behind creating and letting loose Borne in Flint and therefore threatening to destroy our city. When Lya, again, tries to convince us that her contacts are really just trying to make the world a better place, we call her out on this naivete that doesn't seem to fit the canny, clever Lya Jierre we know. We agree that some party of this organization may have a noble goal in mind, but even she should be open enough to see how much terror, death and destruction their actions have brought to Risur.

    Lya then confesses that the Ob's are mainly interested in getting Borne back under control so he won't wreak any more havoc and we answer that this doesn't make the situation any better at all. Borne, we explain, is not only a sentient being, but having him being controlled by a secret organization could be even worse than letting him run free. After all, he'd be the best weapon of mass destruction any wannabe-tyrant could dream of.

    “But don't you see?”, she replies “No one could or would use such a weapon as he'd be instantly targeted by all other nations of Lanjyr. He'd be seen as a threat, yes, but one that doesn't harm anyone as long as every nation keeps their peace.”

    Auryn and Carlyle both shake their heads in disbelief.

    “But the Obscurati are no nation which would be targeted by anyone. They act in secret and cannot be held accountable for their actions as long as they remain in the shadows. They don't have to fear any consequences as long as they're not being caught by the officials. So no, an Obscurati tyrant could indeed do whatever he wishes with Borne and this thought is truly frightening.”, Auryn says.

    “Speaking of Obscurati actions...” Carlyle adds, “They seem to fear us, too, as some of them already tried to assassinate us. And they even used your bodyguard as would-be assassin, therefore trying to blame the attack on you. So I'd think twice whether or not to trust them, Miss Jierre.”

    Lya appears to really think about our last few arguments and then promises to use her place in the organization to gather more information and maybe lead the Obs to a less destructive course. We reply that while we do find her idea noble, we also believe Nicodemus to be one of these fanatics who wouldn’t let go of his reins at any cost. We do signal that we're open to conviction and also interested in having a peaceful chat with Nicodemus, but don't believe that he's ever going to agree to such an offer.

    During our talk with Lya, we also realize that she must have been geased already as she's trying to avoid certain words or facts. All in all she then offers to hold back with her Cavallo challenge should we agree to finish our track shortly after her team. We agree that this is a fair offer indeed but explain that we'd have to discuss matters of such international impact with our king. So we suggest that we and her use our magical supplies to talk to both king and sovereign (and only them!) to discuss our mutual agreement before we take any action. Lya agrees to this suggestion and we make an appointment for an hour before sunrise to meet again.

    (Phew, this was a pretty long and hard talk. We both like Lya and think her engagement to King Aodhan to be one of the best moves for peace, so we'd love to see her hard work come to fruition as we got that she's really interested in making peace.

    Auryn harbors some doubts about Lya's ability to empathize though as she remembers their talk about Elfaivar and doing penance for their forefather's sins during the peace summit. And Lya didn't seem to understand her problem with the abducted women either. She just wishes that Lya could be the intelligent and wise leader she'd think she could be)
    Last edited by Lylandra; Tuesday, 16th April, 2019 at 10:55 PM.
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  2. #202
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    Of friendships, deals and lies

    Just when we're about to discuss about how to proceed further, we spot a flock of birds emanating a magical aura. As we don't know whether these avians have been sent by the beran referees or whether they are actually danoran spy birds, we decide to ignore them for now and just let Carlyle link everyone's mind so we may communicate telepathically.

    Regarding Lya's deal, we do hope that she'll get a positive reaction, so we don't have to take more drastic measures than we'd like to. Should our plan fail however, we agree to immediately contact Damata and Ejeka Griento to get them on board. Fortunately, Lya and company are completely in the dark about our connection to the family as even Luc Jierre didn't know that the Grientos and the Fernandez were more than just people who conincidentally traveled in the same train along the Avery Coast.

    We also discuss the roles of each official and inofficial member of our team and decide that Margit will be officially in charge with managing and securing the Liss construction site. Flying Spark, who may take more liberties in his approaches as he's falling under the third-party rule, shall be both guardian and optional saboteur should Team Danor decide to take actions against Liss' tracks.

    Burton will use his camouflage and disguise skills to get hired by the Grientos so he can act as spy, contact and possible saboteur later on.

    (yeah, we always read the fine print, even if using Flying Spark who's clearly our co-agent as “third party” is certainly not intended. It did put quite the risk on both him and Burton, but the former is a deadly magical cannon with wings and the latter is the best deep cover agent we've ever seen)

    Just when we're finished talking, Flying Spark announces that he's hungry for poultry and goes hunting for the birdies. Meanwhile, we cast a couple of Sendings to King Aodhan. We explain our dilemma that the Oddcog mission has the potential to threaten the peace process with Danor, add that we may strike a deal with Lya which may endanger getting Oddcog exclusively and ask how to proceed.

    Aodhan responds that Oddcog has to be our top priority as the Obs' actions already threaten all of the world. However, we're free to agree to any fair deal of the Danorans. In response, we tell our King more about Lya's mission for Man Hill and ask for the outpost to be warned immediately. We also ask for financial support regarding the railway construction and for maybe one-upping our already generous offer for the minister of dragon affairs. Last but not least we mention that Lya might very well be a full Obs agent now.

    In return, we get the coordinates for the Impossible and are asked to attend to a meeting aboard as soon as we're allowed to do. Which is after sunrise. So at least we'll be able to get a bit of sleep.

    Shortly before sunrise, Lya Jierre returns to our tent and declares that sovereign Han Jierre agrees to our deal. Before she leaves again, she hands us a small chest containing a lily crest which we identify as the same fleur de lis that's symbolizing betrayal in danoran culture. We're very obviously disappointed by this development, but have to give Lya some credit for at least giving us an honest and honorable warning about her intentions.

    As we now know what to expect from her team in the upcoming challenges, we decide to waste no time and put up a sending to Damata Griento in which we tell him that we'll have to meet him as soon as possible regarding his company's latest job for Bruse Shantus. He replies that we may meet this very same morning and calls for a meeting point near Renza.

    After this message, we meet till sunrise and then teleport to the Impossible where Chief Inspector Delft has already been waiting for us. We tell him all about that mess we and Lya Jierre got ourselves into without sparing him all the details and add that it'd be really wise to officially end the engagement of King Aodhan and Lya Jierre. We then brief Delft about the game's rules and stress out the situation for each of our colleagues, especially as everyone who's not Margit, Carlyle or Auryn may intervene freely at the risk of being targeted themselves. Then we add that it would be quite interesting to get our hands on Ulrik, Lya's manservant, as he has voluntary first-hands experience with the Nicodemus transfer process and might be a key figure in understanding how this process works. So this might be a good mission for a second RHC team.

    Regarding the railroad challenge, we discuss our financial framework and Delft responds that we'll be given appropriate allowance soon. We also ask our boss to get more information on Pemberton as we might try to ask him for an assessment of our plans for Borne should the Oddcog mission fail. And we really don't wish to hand someone top secret information we hardly know or hardly know whether or not to trust.

    Should Lya be able to convince Cavallo to attack Man Hill, the fortress needs to get a warning and possibly reinforcements, the sooner the better. Delft promises that he'll do whatever he can and asks us to keep him informed every now and then.

    (which is something we really tend to forget during abroad missions... it's basically “everything's fine as long as we don't call you, mom”)


    Fortunately, we also get a map and illustrations of Renza, so we may just try to teleport there directly. One lucky Carlyle-port later and we find ourselves in a harsh landscape near a smaller town. There, we ask for the head of the Griento company and are being directed to Nagranha, a sort of construction outpost.

    There, we meet with Damata who's really curious why a publisher and a pianist would be interested in railway construction. Then he spots the difference in hairstyle (Carlyle) and hair color (Auryn) and ask whether there's any kind of secret he needs to know before we proceed. We hint that there may be more to the two of us than meets the eye, assure him that we're truly his friends and that we don't wish to get him into trouble by telling him more about our mission than he needs to know.

    Then we tell him that it would be of utmost importance for us that he finishes his part of the railway shortly after Liss as there will be a team of Danorans joining his men very soon who'll try to speed up the construction process. We promise Damata that we'll make up for any bonus payment he may lose due to the delay and hint that we may put in a good word regarding getting him involved in the construction of the most likely soon to be announced Risur-Ber railway.

    Damatra Griento agrees that he still owes us a favor for saving him and his name when he was indebted to the Familia and so he promises to do the best he can to cause an unobtrusive delay. We take some time to discuss ideas on how such subtle self-sabotage may work and immediately think about spreading the obvious rumors about how a proper Danoran treats their workforce: They mistreat anyone below their status, dislike foreigners and try to control everything with a rigorous routine while being foreign lunatics themselves. On top of that, getting the Danorans involved was another one of the Bruses' strange “fun projects” which may cost the hardworking beran employees their jobs.

    (trying to play the nationalist strings a bit. We know that berans tend to be a proud lot who hate being controlled)

    In addition, Damata may try to appeal to the Danorans by letting his workers do their jobs extra carefully and slowly by checking every routine process at least twice. Senor Griento appears to warm up to these proposals and we end our brainstorming with a healthy breakfast. Before we leave again, we promise Damata to stay friends who'll come to his help again should he ever need it. Oh and we also ask him to say hello to Ejeka and the kids.

    Next, we plan to get in contact with Liss constructions and assign both Margit and Flying Spark to their temporary new jobs. When we return, Flying Spark informs us that Lya Jierre and her two servants already left the summer court and boarded a ship while Merton Goncala and Rush Münchhausen simply “vanished”.

    So we do the map-landmark-teleport again (and again, Carlyle's lucky streak when it comes to successful teleportation continues) to get to Reo Pedresco. From there, we lend horses to go to Aigotsura where we plan to meet up with Soutan Liss, owner of the Liss construction company. We're quite surprised though to see the lizardman in a friendly chat with none else but Mr. Pemberton who's drinking a... water cocktail with celery. And there we thought Fordren was the eccentric one.

    Pemberton is trying to sell construction robots to Senor Liss and he's advertizing them under the new “Made in Flint” label, which they obviously (at least to anyone stemming from Flint) aren't. We're curious how Pemberton could have gotten wind of the label as he's never been much of a player in Risur, but we'd first take on his fake flintish bots.

    So we approach the duo, introduce ourselves to Senor Liss and say hello to Mr. Pemberton whom we've already met back in Sawyer. We then state our pleasure to meet them both under such convenient circumstances as we already tried to contact Mr. Pemberton at court.

    “There is just one small detail that we have to mention before the honorable Senor Liss decides on whether or not to buy these magnificent automatons: Unfortunately, they are not made in Flint, but most likely made in Macdam. Which is well known for its industrial prowess, but not at all affiliated with the esteemed circle of industrialists who established their supreme standards in Flint”, Carlyle adds, smiling confidently all while knowing that he probably just ruined Mr. Pemberton's advertisement.

    “Oh yes, yes, but they are produced in Flint, Risur. Pemberton most recently bought a grand production site there.” Pemberton says, trying to save his face.

    “Is that so? Lord Vantrys never mentioned Pemberton Industries applying for membership. Also, you'd most likely be able to name your factory's registry number then?”

    “Gentlemen, there is no need for nitpicking, even if Mr. Carlyle is absolutely right about the label. I guess we can settle this little dispute with an appropriate discount on the automatons?” Auryn inserts, finally causing Liss to look both rather confused and happy when Pemberton agrees to reduce his price, even if he's still unable to afford all of them.

    We take this as an opportunity to tell Liss that Risur would love to provide the difference and sign a second bill for Pemberton which allows him to claim the debt at the risuri embassy. Before the surprised railway construction specialist can ask us why the heck Risur would help him out this way, we explain the Bruse's construction challenge to him and ask him to allow us to support him. As we already secured him a lot of bots, he doesn't really know why he should decline our help and so we introduce him to our colleagues Margit Stenz and “dragon tyrant” Flying Spark, who'll both look out for any signs of danoran troublemakers.

    Pemberton starts blinking heavily and seems less amused when we mention dragon tyrants, even if we initially don't understand why an industrialist from Macdam would have any troubles with these creatures. Liss takes a good laugh though and he welcomes the faerie dragon aboard his enterprise. We also warn Liss about possible sabotage attempts and are being told that he already has had troubles with roaming bandits before. We promise to try to hire additional mercenaries to protect the construction site, even if Mr. Carlyle and Auryn will have to take care of another mission and be absent for the next couple of days.

    After informing Liss, we then turn to Mr. Pemberton and ask him for a short talk in private. We then thank him again for his help in Sawyer and hint that King Aodhan might wish to strengthen the bond between Macdam and Risur in the future. When Pemberton is a bit irritated by the fact that we, being risuri agents, take so much interest in a colonial city like Sawyer, we tell him that the security of Kellandia is of personal value to us.

    Before we go into further detail regarding the colony, Auryn switches subjects and lauds Pemberton for the creation of the Shaggy Mk.2, a truly fearsome creation. However, she'd like to share one weakness of the bear-shaped automaton with Pemberton, as a sign of her goodwill. She then talks about how she had been able to free her partner from the Shaggy's clutches by striking a small cogwheel near its paw.

    Suddenly, Pembreton is pretty much enthralled by the technical topic, tells her all about the paw's joints and asks her how she'd fix this weakness. As Auryn is not really that well-read in terms of technology, she suggests to hide the joint behind an additional layer of metal plates.

    Carlyle takes the opportunity to point at the striking resemblance between Shaggy and Fordren Industries' B.E.A.R. He adds that the Shaggy is unmistakeably the superior creation, of course, but asks whether someone of them might have taken inspiration or more from the other.

    “Oh, no, not, this is merely a coincidence. It appears that the Old Fox and I simply prefer the shape of a sturdy bear” Pemberton explains while unsuccessfully trying to tell this obvious lie. He then takes much effort to try to convince us that he has never had a closer relationship with Fordren and would not spy on his enterprise either. But he's so bad at telling these lies that we almost get the impression that he's not even trying.

    However, as soon as Auryn hints that she does know Mr. Fordren personally, Pemberton gets totally interested in hearing her opinion on his competitor that she has to put quite the effort into changing subjects again without sounding rude or suspicious.

    All in all, we get the impression that Pemberton does lie more than he speaks the truth when it comes to Fordren. He denies having ever been to the KATE (another lie) and we suspect he's been there because of Fordren as well as Pemberton Industries didn't officially exhibit their craft at the fair. We talk a bit about Guy Goodson as well and this time Pemberton doesn't even try to hide his disgust for the deceased industrialist. When we then tell him that it was Fordren Industries that profited most from Goodson's death (a semi-truth as Vantrys profited just as much), Pemberton utters a short laugh and claims that it is deals like these that show the Old Fox' ultimate cleverness.

    After a while, Pemberton excuses himself as he's still got business to do at the summer court, takes his servant-bot Maggie and leaves.

    (This whole talk with Pemberton was ultimately weird and we tried to wrap our heads around his possible relationship with Fordren. Our best guess back then was that Pemberton had been a senior student of Fordren, maybe even an admirer, who at some point broke up with him, took some of his schematics, improved them and established his own business.

    But I promise you, it will get even weirder once we go out and try to see Fordren's side of this relationship.)
    Last edited by Lylandra; Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019 at 12:12 PM.
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  3. #203
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    I had to go back and re-read your adventures with Senor Griento. It has been a while.

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    Having a good relationship with the Griento's, i expected the constables to request his half of the railway to complete. Clever players .... took me totally by surprise to use him as the inside source to sabotage his own railway.

    I had much fun to puzzle the players with the Pemberton/Forden relationship. Fordren is not part of the original adventure (in a way he still is) but suits some major secret political changes that fits my campaign.

    Fordren is the danoran industrialist who bought Auryn when she was sold as an eladrin slave and the way this guy was written in Auryns story fitted a certain mindset to perfectly to be ignored. So i decided to use the orginal pemberton but to change his name and my interpretation of certain agreements changed his relationship to risur. Yet there was an other original character in the adventures that could take up the mantle of Pemberton. I was really happy it worked out later.
    Last edited by Tizbiz; Wednesday, 24th April, 2019 at 07:28 AM.

  5. #205
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    As to Lya Jierre: My players had a very good relationship with her. I think that she had to have worked very hard on the peace between risur and danor. And at this point of the adventure she is still torn between her own goals and the Ob's . I thought that she would be pissed by the bruse's cleverness to use danor to clear up his domestic political mess and she would not want the constables to think she is their enemy.

    Hinting the constables that she is going to play dirty was her way to save her face. It resulted in both sides really trying to avoid as much bloodshed as possible.
    Last edited by Tizbiz; Wednesday, 24th April, 2019 at 09:10 AM.
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  6. #206
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    Well done getting in Lya's thought process. I always read these session reports and think how amazing it would be to play with your Zeitgeist and WotBS groups, and then I realize that I probably would not be able to keep up on the role playing front.

    Seriously, great work to you and @Lylandra.
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  7. #207
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    Old Fox

    Well, thanks

    We took quite the effort in trying to win Lya over and she's still alive by adventure 8 (we haven't seen much of her after the beran episode) but we don't know about her true colors right now.

    Actually we'd be glad to find another regular player who isn't annoyed by our rather slow pace and has enough time to play regularly. Or a DM who is as much into interweaving character background and development with the prepared plot as we are. And I do think that you'd fit in quite nicely

    regarding the RP, it kind of emerged from our online-RPG past where all development is character-based and there is little pre-structured plot. Plus I regularly exchange thoughts with both Tiz (we do have a forum where I write down some of Auryn's thoughts) and Carlyle (being married has its merits in this regard as well). Who is really good at portraying different kinds of characters even if paladin-esque types tend to be his favorites.

    ---

    We take some time to travel back to Reo Pedresco and hire a group of half-giant mercenaries to protect Liss, his workers and his shipments.

    (As we already knew the city from our time preparing to play the Fernandez family, asking the right people was quite the easy feat.)

    After that, we try to get more information about Mr. Pemberton's future interests before we head to Citada de Cavallo. So we teleport back to the summer court and ask for either him or Bradko. The local merchants tell us that they haven't seen Pemberton for a while, but then direct us to a local tavern where Bradko tends to spend his evenings. To our surprise, said orc is enjoying the company of Mr. Fordren and Brakken Heffanita who seem to be having a friendly chat over some ale and wine.

    As Carlyle knows that Auryn isn't too fond of getting too close to Fordren, we both try to stay in the background and just observe the strange trio. But since we don't actively try to hide and aren't really unobtrusive people per se, this plan fails pretty soon and we're being invited to join their chat. Which we do, even if that means a lot of teeth clenching for Auryn.

    We start the conversation by asking Fordren about his business in Ber, and more specifically at the summer court and find out that he's been establishing his business in this country for quite a while which is kind of surprising as he's not really known for meeting risuri working standards and berans are even stricter when it comes to exploitative working conditions. When asked about Lya Jierre, he says that no, she didn't hire him to support her strange Ber game team.

    (Which is actually a relief as we discussed this scenario earlier and Auryn told Carlyle and Margit that she'd out Fordren as being a slaver as a last resort to remove him from the table. Even if that meant breaking her deal with him. Plus he'd most likely never be able to set foot into Ber after that.)

    We hint that Pemberton might be a competitor then as he's currently desperately trying to make a name for himself. After all, he obviously used the Shaggy to one-up Fordren's B.E.A.R and hired the very same Bradko as his representative.

    When we mention Pemberton, Fordren turns quite sour as he seems to be in Fordren's bad books. But then again, he doesn't wish to go into more detail about their relationship or break-up. When we suggest that Pemberton might have stolen or copied schematics from Fordren, he neither denies nor confirms it.

    “The little sparrow does what he does. We'd better leave it like that.” Fordren says with a good amount of bitterness in his voice. Which is something completely new in his repertoire and we don't really get whether that “little sparrow” is meant to be a real nickname or simply mockery.

    (The german word for sparrow is actually used sometimes as a rather old-fashioned nickname for children or lovers, especially in its diminutive form.)


    We then tell him more about our experiences with the B.E.A.R. and tell Fordren about possible design flaws, including the programming. Like Pemberton, he's very keen on hearing our opinion and immediately jumps at smaller details. Plus it seems as if he's quite aware of the B.E.A.R.'s weaknesses.

    After his technical interest is satisfies, Fordren then changes the subject (again, very surprisingly) to ask us about our reasons for coming to the summer court. Brakken already told him that we were trying to get an audience with the Bruse and he had obviously been asked by the Bruse's men to lend them some automatons, so there must be a bigger story behind all this.

    At first, we try to hide our intentions behind replacing the deceased ambassador and trying to negotiate trade deals, but then we both non-verbally agree to tell him a bit more about our concern about Borne. We explain that the Bruse is currently employing the man who helped building the Colossus which is why we'd like to ask that man, Oddcog, a few questions.

    “Helped whom? I'm pretty sure that this Oddcog fellow didn't have the resources, nor the intellect to be the driving force behind such a construction and the risuri government didn't order that magnificent creation either, am I right?” Fordren adds calmly, but with a certain amount of curiosity.

    As we don't really have reason to believe that Fordren is actually part of the Obs -after all, he's more of an egocentric than a misguided or fanatic idealist – we finally decide to tell him more about our knowledge of the conspiracy behind Borne's creation.

    “Very well then.”, Carlyle starts, “I guess that more secrecy only plays into the conspirator's cards at this point. So let's bring some light into this obscure situation.”

    He then carefully explains that the people behind Borne are a group of influential international conspirators who, at least partially, believe that they're trying to make the world a better place. Some of them, he says, are truly altruistic individuals, while others will fanatically follow their part of some plan we haven't fully figured out yet. He tells Fordren a bit about their suspected cell structure and their fondness of hiding their industrial structures in Bleak gate pockets. The Colossus Borne is by far the most terrifying of their endeavors and he's quite glad that the Obs cannot really control this gigantic child.

    Fordren appears to be truly impressed by Carlyle's description of Borne, especially when it comes to fusing mind and machine. We are both quite concerned that we just did a big mistake by telling him so much that he might be interested in joining the conspiracy, but when Carlyle asks him about his own thoughts on the Obs, Fordren frowns for a moment before giving us quite the surprising answer:

    “I believe that they should be stopped at any cost. As theoretically inspiring as this creation may be, such a being should have never been brought into this world and these people are lunatics who try to control the uncontrollable. They should be taught that they've gone too far.”

    Now it is Auryn who's looking at her old enemy in disbelief as she really didn't expect Fordren of all people to be so reasonable. But then she realizes that an unstoppable force like Borne is a threat indeed to the industrialist's own strive for supremacy and she quickly focuses her thoughts again.

    We then talk a bit about Leone as another constructor of Borne, a fanatic who was able to control metal as a means of showing Fordren that these Obs are dangerous individuals on top of that.

    “Oh my, these powers remind me of someone these Berans talk about a lot: Maybe he's simply a progeny of this ancient Steel Dragon. Have you tried to trace his family's bloodline yet?”

    “We had this thought as well. But we're not... that well read in Dragon Tyrant bloodlines”, Auryn says while being intrigued that he's actually the first other person to come to this conclusion. Especially as she knows that Fordren isn't really that interested in anything beyond his personal goals.

    He then fascinates a bit about the theory behind Borne a bit as he's clearly interested in this mind-making magic or technology, even if he adds that this is highly disturbing. When Auryn reminds him that Borne appears to be a sentient, albeit child-like being and that stopping him might just mean murdering an innocent, he laughs a bit and adds that being empathetic with the most unusual of creatures is so typical for her.

    “Not with all creatures” she replies coldly, which makes Brakken raise an eyebrow in response.

    “And though I have to admit that the very core idea of the Obs of creating a better world is admirable indeed, I have to condemn their means and implementations of their plans. World peace and harmony between all people of Lanjyr should be the result of a mixture of hard diplomatic work and free minds coming together, not of people being forced to agree with one another. What's peace worth if it is nothing but the result of forced obedience, and not of free will?”

    “Holding the mirror straight in front of me. You truly are a fascinating woman.”

    Fordren's gaze locks at Auryn and for a moment it seems as if his grey predatory stare is dueling with her violet defiance. Then he turns more amused by the whole situation, even if his eerie fascination still lingers for a few moments.

    Carlyle realizes the tension between the two and so he shifts the subject back to Flint where he explains that the Obs are being a financial threat to Fordren Industries as well. After all, they were in league with the Kell Guild who stole a few shipments of raw materials. This triggers a rather emotional response from Fordren who turns visibly angry.

    “So you say they've STOLEN from ME?! They'll regret the day they put their filthy hands on MY property!” he shouts, breathing heavily, his eyes filled with pure fury.

    Carlyle is surprised for a moment as he didn't expect such an outrage over such a seemingly marginal loss, especially not by a man of his stature. Auryn on the other hand winces for a split second before putting up a perfect poker face.

    (She obviously got flashbacks that moment even if Fordren never directed his rage at her and simply left the scene whenever he had been dissatisfied by her stubborn defiance. But she knows his temper quite well.)

    After this short outburst, Carlyle continues to say that Michael Carlyle may provide further insight into what has gone missing. He also mentions that it is likely that Fordren Industries might already be infiltrated by Ob members, so Fordren better check up on his own staff. He adds that the RHC already checked on Vantrys' workers and it seems as if this company is - fortunately – clean of Obs influence. Carlyle then takes this as opportunity to shift the subject yet again (he's really riding a slippery slope it seems) to ask Fordren about his interest in investing in risuri industrial companies.

    Fordren relaxes pretty quickly and explains that he's trying to expand his business there and that he already has realized that one has to be honorable to stand a chance in today's changing environment. Goodson seemed like a good bet at the times, he says, even if he wasn't too content with that man's personal choices. He states that he's got a lot of respect for Risur as the nation stood the test of time which is another reason why he wishes to have good trade relations with the Risuri.

    Carlyle agrees that this sounds like quite the good and even admirable plan for a Danoran. He adds that trying to adjust his business model to the local customs, especially in countries like Risur and Ber (where failing to meet the standards can get you beaten up by the Executores), is generally a good idea. Regarding Risur, he explains that there is this newly formed circle of Industrialists who set a new standard on production quality and working conditions, so anyone who wishes to stand a chance on the flinter market should probably think about joining them.

    Fordren seems to be interested in this new movement, especially if his business partner and soon-to-be nephew in-law Vantrys is among its founders. Auryn then mentions that the circle was formed after a long history of civil protest among brave risuri citizens, something she calls both admirable and sympathetic. After all, Risur has become her home away from home which is why the people of Risur and their prosperity mean a lot to her. Even if they mostly belong to different races and follow different traditions than her own. So she kind of has two places to call home and hold dear right now.

    “Is that so? Well, then maybe the two of us have more in common than you think. Maybe... you will even understand me in time.” Fordren says with a reminiscing sigh.

    We then take a full circle to discuss the Obs again and Fordren signals that now that he knows more about these people, he has decided that they are indeed his enemy. After all, they are a threat to his business and his power.

    “This is something we'll never have in common. In my opinion, power is not what you take but what you are being given by others. Their combined support, their trust, even their love. That is true power.”

    “You're right, Miss Auryn. We won't come to an agreement here. You should keep your dependencies for yourself.”

    After a few minutes of small talk, Fordren asks Brakken and Bradko to excuse him and the two of us as he'd like to have a private chat with the two agents of Risur. He then leads us to the beach of the summer court's large lake and explains that he'd like to talk about his relationship to Pemberton again. He admits that the two of them do know each other quite well as both of them studied engineering in Danor at the same time. We then ask him why Pemberton would deny any connection of them at all, but Fordren insists that he doesn't wish to go further into detail with the little sparrow. Again, we sense this strange, almost tender bitterness whenever he talks about this “little sparrow” (to our surprise, he never calls him by his first name).

    He then tells us that he'd like to leave it like that and vanishes into the night.

    ( That was a pretty long and intense talk. In a hindsight, all of Fordren's strange behavior totally made sense, but back then we left the evening with even more questions than we had before.

    I'll discuss the impact of Fordren on Carlyle and Auryn in a later post, when the two of them had more time to talk about him and Auryn's struggle to leave her past behind as this is yet another intricate subject. But now to this part:

    First, he's declared himself to be an enemy of the Obs, yay! Even if this means that Fordren might play the role of temporary ally in the future and Auryn will have to deal with him. Still this is far better than having to fend him off constantly because he's trying to get his hands on Obs tech and use it for his own gain.

    We took a bit of a risk to out the Obs to him, but we were pretty sure that he's too selfish to even think about lending the Obs his knowledge and inventions.

    Then there is his strange fondness of Risur which we could not really place as he's a born Danoran, even if he has little ties with his home nation. We initially thought that he'd try to sell weapon to both parties should a fifth Yerasol war break out which is why he'd like to be on good terms with both nation, but his intentions seemed fully honorable. But then again, Fordren has never been a cheat. Ruthless, yes. But he'd rather crush his enemies than poison them with intrigue.

    Add his strange relationship to Pemberton and his sudden rage regarding the Kell guild's theft to the equation and we were thoroughly confused.

    So after this session, we tried to make sense of both Pemberton and Fordren and created this little fact sheet to test a few theories. You may guess which one(s) turned out to be right, but here are our facts plus a few of the theroies:

    Fordren:

    - Uses "little Sparrow" as nickname for Pemberton
    - Seems to dislike/feel bitter about Pemberton, but doesn't want to talk about him
    - Doesn't see a competitor in Pemberton
    - studied engineering in Danor and stems from Danor
    - became really angry when we told him about the theft of his shipments
    - has honest intentions regarding Risur
    - has no relations with Lya or the Jierre family
    - Is worried about the Obs and will fight them
    - Is as fascinated as Pemberton when it comes to tech, especially in terms of fusing mind and machine.
    - Has a "second home" that is not Danor
    - Solely interested in personal power
    - Linked Leone Quintal with the bloodline of the Steel Dragon (which is something not even Harkover Lee thought of)
    - Is still interested in Auryn and enthralled/fascinated whenever she speaks about their past

    Pemberton:

    - Uses the "old Fox" as nickname for Fordren
    - got angry when we talked about Flying Spark being a Dragon Tyrant
    - totally lied about his relationship to Fordren. Both know each othre quite well and it is highly unlikely that Fordren stole designs from Pemberton
    - cheats for benefit
    - is honestly interested in technical details of all kind
    - was highly interested in Auryn's relationship with Fordren
    - knows the B.E.A.R. quite well
    - had been quite surprised when we appeared in Ber and Sawyer
    - doesn't know jack about Flint and flintish industry
    - dislikes Goodson
    - had been to the KATE, even if he denied being there
    - he's operating from Macdam (Fordren confirmed that he's stemming from there), but studied abroad in Danor

    Theories (ranked from likely to crazy):

    - Pemberton and Fordren both studied in Danor where they befriended each other. Maybe they were simply close, maybe they were lovers. Pemberton stole something (designs?) from Fordren which is why Fordren is mad about Pemberton. Still he doesn't deem the one who abused his trust to be a worthy competitor ("little sparrow"), so he just views him with disregard. Pemberton on the other hand is still fond of and even idolizes Fordren, even if he cheated on him. Which is why he secretly follows him. So he's no competitor either.

    - Pemberton and Fordren are the very same person as he's a shapeshifter who tries to own the industrial market and play games in the mean time. Fordren is the "original" act, which is why he's much more defined. We didn't see magic on either of them as a shifter's abilities are natural.

    - Fordren is a former Dragon Tyrant, which is why he's still thinking of Ber as his original home. Because of that, he's obviously forced to live in exile. Pemberton is the only one who knows about his little secret which is why he turned so angry when we mentioned dragons. No one insults dragon-senpai! They most likely met at a danoran university and were pretty close. Fordren fears that Pemberton may spill his secret, so he doesn't want to talk about his little weakness. Would explain why Fordren got so mad about someone stealing his property. And why he'sl obsessed with power. And Auryn.

    Oh and did I mention that both are named after recent popes? Francis and Benedict. But that's just a funny coincidence. )
    XP Tormyr, Andrew Moreton, RangerWickett, Tizbiz gave XP for this post

  8. #208
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    Ooh, there is in this post an idea I wish I'd had myself. You said you're in adventure 8 now? I don't want to spoil anything.

  9. #209
    There was an idea I intend to steal for myself in here, I wonder if it was the same one

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    orcish diplomacy

    Now I'm curious. But no spoilers

    Any yep, we're currently chasing Kasvarina's memories with Cherage and Methia being the last two missing stops on our list.

    ---

    Brakken soon leaves the tavern as well to wish us a good night. He casually mentions that this chat turned quite weird indeed and that he also sensed that there had been a lot of tension he couldn't lay his finger on, especially as he couldn't sense Fordren's emotions and thoughts at all.

    “I have never seen such a secluded mind. Well, the sovereign of Danor came close, of course.”

    The minotaur then turns to Auryn and looks her straight in the eye.

    “But you...”

    “What about me?”

    “You appear to really hate this man. That fire inside of you is so hot, yet your words were precise and cold. I wonder what happened between the two of you.”

    “Yes, I do. But we came to an agreement, so unless he breaks his vow I wouldn't either.”

    “The price of peace. I see.”

    Then Brakken leaves as well and soon it is only the two of us standing at the beach in a moonlit night. After he's gone, Carlyle expresses his astonishment about Fordren's open statements and his stance regarding the Obscurati. He stresses out that, of course, he has different reasons to go after them than we have, still knowing that he's basically on the same side as we are is quite the relief.

    Carlyle then states that he'll never forget what Fordren had done in the past, even if he found the man he saw today to be quite sympathetic. Auryn is understandably more hesitant to agree, but she gets what he's trying to say. Even if she's going to need time to get the thought sorted that Fordren may be a potentially on their side against the Obs.

    (Needless to say that she felt very uneasy despite the rationale telling her that it'd be better for Risur this way. From her point of view she just had fought a mock battle against her enemy. Even if she knew that his bitterness had been no bluff at all)


    After this short exchange, we take the fastest route to Citada de Cavallo. We arrive very late and get rebuffed at first as the guards of Cavallo de Guerra aren't really keen on upsetting their lord by letting the hoof-lickers of Bruse Shantus into his castle. We react pretty much dismayed by the impolite treatment and return that we deemed Cavallo to be more honorable than to berate risuri ambassadors who are also Knights of King Aodhan.

    Acting royally pissed seem to do the trick and so we're soon allowed to enter the castle. Our guide, an impressive half-giant woman named Alonsa Folián even invites us to sit at Lord Cavallo's banquet table and explains that of course we'll be given a room for the night. If we don't mind sleing in the room next to Lya Jierre's who arrived earlier that day, she says. So it seems like the competitors didn't wait to make their moves either.

    Before we enter the banquet hall, we spot one young orc who's looking sickly and who seems to have an injured leg. The child is quickly shoved aside though and we remember that being sick is said to be a sign of weakness or corruption in this part of Ber. Alonsa also mentions the banquet being part of a series of festivities being held after a large abandoned dragon hoard had been discovered recently.

    We're then being introduced to Cavallo de Guerra who's both annoyed and amused by the fact that Bruse Shantus sent not one but two foreign entourages to go on his nerves. Both we and Lya insist that this wasn't our idea of fun or diplomacy either. We stress out that Risur, being Ber's closest neighbor, tries to keep good relations with this country which is why we are ready to help find a way to end the strife between Shantus and Cavallo. We then mention the bond between our two nation, especially in terms of freedom, but also in to their combined effort against the Dragon Tyrants in the past.

    Lya takes this as an opportunity to claim that this kind of approach is so typical for the Risuri... clinging to the past, hiding behind the accomplishments of old Kings who are long dead and trying to derive an ancient debt from something that happened 200 years ago all while they are only interested in benefiting their own nation.

    “Isn't it funny how the danoran ambassador speaks of benefiting Risur when her own nation is so keen on benefiting from this whole situation that she'd try to convince the honorable Cavallo de Guerra to attack their neighbors? Only to lure him into a trap laid out by Bruse Shantus? And that said ambassador doesn't appear to think twice about the possible result of what could very well be the start of a war between our two nations. A war that would benefit neither Risur, nor Ber, but only Danor.” Auryn throws in confidentially as if she'd only waited for this opportunity.

    Lya appears to not take any offense by Auryn's statement and we get that she's politician enough to separate her job from her personal feelings. She replies that Risur does look down on the “barbaric” tribes of Ber for sure which is why they'd always try to patronize their neighbor.

    “Enough of this bickering!” Cavallo finally shouts after he's already been silent for quite a while. “A banquet is meant to be enjoyable! Bring in the food! Let the music play!”

    As neither Lya nor we wish to upset our host, we cease the purely political animosities and feast on fine beran food and wine. During the banquet, Cavallo de Guerra confirms that his people have indeed stumbled across a dragon lair near Lago Fuego, including a large hoard with quite the amount of treasure. He mentions that the treasure was brought to his castle to be secured and appraised, and even hints that he may allow his honored guests to take a look at a true dragon's fortunes.

    From his chat with his sea chieftains, we also get that Cavallo's navy seems to be troubled by either fey or sea monsters as his ships got attacked recently by unknown entities. He also doesn't get why he should pay for these damn tracks that Shantus would like to see connect citada de Cavallo with the rest of Ber. After all, he could find some workers who'd ram these “sticks” into the ground, but alas, he lacks the steel to forge said metal sticks.

    We use this as an opportunity to mention that Cavallo's wine is of a pretty good quality and add that growing decent wine in Risur is no easy feat. So we might be able to negotiate trading wine for risuri steel.

    As evening turns to night, Cavallo's four sea chieftains grow tired of faked etiquette and wine, so they turn to stronger spirits and reminisce about their past plundering. Some of them don't seem to be too fond of peace, Risur and having peace with Risur, so Auryn decides to do what she does best and starts singing beran shanties. The chieftains are positively surprised to hear that fresh take on their traditional songs, so they chime in and invite her to share a few spirits with them. Needless to say that she's getting heavily drunk in no time. Which doesn't keep her from singing though.

    Carlyle takes this as an opportunity to keep an eye on Lya Jierre. The tiefling doesn't seem to be too keen on listening to shanties all night long, so she withdraws to her room. Once she realizes that Carlyle does follow her, she turns around and greets him with a disarming smile.

    “Not what I'd expected from a man Bruse Shantus calls 'his rival'. But then, I don't know what I should have expected either.” Lya says casually and then turns to a window to gaze at the night sky.

    Carlyle isn't in the mood for small-talk so he just says that he believes Cavallo de Guerra to be a wiser man than Shantus. He then tries to talk Lya out of following that Man Hill plan again as Auryn just put her cards on the table and Cavallo will be wise enough to avoid such an obvious trap. Lya agrees on his wisdom, but adds that this old warrior surely has much of his fighting spirit left. She then deflects any further attempts to read her true intentions and wishes Carlyle a good night.

    As Lya does enter her room afterward, he uses the opportunity to take a sneaky stroll through the castle. This way, he does get a peek at the dragon's hoard and stumbles across a pair of orcish teens who are being worries about the girl's brother's condition as it appears that the young boy is infected by something malicious. Carlyle, knowing quite a bit about diseases and infections, remembers the sight of the young orc's leg and combines this image with the girl's description of his symptoms. He then realizes that the boy might just be infected with dragon worms, dangerous parasites which are immune to all sorts of fire, even a dragon's.

    When he tries to share this news with his partner, he finds her utterly intoxicated but still humming while the other sea chieftains seem both drunk and drowsy.

    “Din'now that senorita could take so much. An' I always thought Risuri to have sticks in their arses...” one of them mumbles before his head drops on a wooden table.

    Carlyle picks Auryn up after making sure that she isn't really poisoned or anything. Which means that he basically has to drag her to their room as she cannot walk straight. She doesn't mind though as she takes this as an opportunity to get closer than necessary.

    “You smell sooo good” she babbles while completely ignoring her surroundings.

    “I know”

    “You look good, too. Why do you have to be so handsome?”

    “These are matters we should discuss on the morrow. Now you need to rest.”

    Carlyle then brings her to bed and, after making sure that Auryn is asleep, decides to finally get some sleep as well. Only to realize that Lya Jierre (who's sleeping in the room next to us) is just as an uneasy sleeper as Auryn (at least when she's not passed out from drinking too much).

    (Auryn being drunk made her lower her restraint in terms of showing her affection for Carlyle and yes, she totally got the hots for him. As I mentioned earlier, her emotions during that time were quite a complicated mess and Fordren added another layer of complexity. But it seems like Carlyle didn't wish to complicate the situation even more. Either that or it would have just felt wrong for him to even take the least bit of advantage of someone who couldn't think straight.)


    The next morning, Auryn has one of the worst hangovers in her entire life. And as Cavallo's castle is pretty close to the sea, we're both being woken up early by squawking seagulls.

    “Now I know why you hate these birds...” Auryn mumbles, hiding her head underneath her pillow.

    Fortunately, Carlyle is very much used to help other people sober up in the morning, so he prepares an antitoxin and orders smoked fish for breakfast. After consuming both medicines, she's quite well again (even if she's still pretty tired). But to Carlyle's surprise, she does remember everything she said the evening before, so she reminds him with a chuckle that she still got to discuss a certain someone's smell.

    Before the situation turns too awkward, Auryn explains that she's still attracted to Carlyle no matter what, but adds that she can usually restrain herself from acting inappropriately. Which, she confesses, isn't easy, but manageable. Carlyle seems a bit surprised by her need to distance herself from her attraction and asks her why she'd feel the need to do so.

    “I just don't wish to overpower or harass you. Yes, I am attracted to you and yes, I'd love being close to you. But I got the impression that you don't really feel the same for me, despite our strong bond and our mutual trust.”

    “But that's not... I am just reserved and you know that. Showing affection wasn't appropriate in my past life, and I'm still not used to it.”

    “So you've never been interested in any woman for four centuries?”

    “Oh, I have been. More than once.”

    “And you've never shown them any sign of your affection?”

    “I have.”

    “Huh.”

    “These were different times and different women. But I'd like to make a suggestion: After we finish our work here, we should spend an evening in one of these cozy tango bars. We both love dancing, don't we?”

    Now this lightens up Auryn's mood quite a bit and she says that she'd love to do so. After this is kind of settled, we then talk more about this mysterious infection and whether curing Cavallo's grandchild could help us getting the old orc's ear. Carlyle says he's quite sure that the boy got the dragon worms and extracting them is usually a painful and slow procedure. When he mentions the parasite, Auryn remembers that these worms lay their eggs in warm waters and are often caught while bathing in places where dragons lived and bathed. Which is really odd as the boy seemed to young to be part of an expedition to Lago Fuego.

    We also discuss helping Cavallo to get rid of these “sea monsters”, especially if they turn out to be fey. But then, we need more infos, so we decide to go looking for the sick child first.

    Before we can get that far, we stumble into a messenger who delivers a mysterious message from a certain Elias who writes very eloquently that he's been captured by a tribe of goblins who he had tried to help. He asks to be freed and gives a rough description on how to find him. We're quite surprised to get this letter by sheer coincidence, but agree that Dr. Recklinghausen – who we're quite sure is the true identity of said Elias – might just be the one we need to help the sick orc boy. Seems as if fate smiles on us today.

    After breakfast, we first wish to take a look at the grandchildren of Cavallo de Guerra to see if more of them got infected with dragon worms. We find them playing in the courtyard while being watched by Corta Nariz who's both Cavallo's daughter and the mother of the infected child. Auryn takes it on herself to make a good first impression on Corta Nariz and asks her whether she may play with the kids. The orc woman doesn't mind and Carlyle invites her to a game of chess in the mean time.

    Carlyle takes the opportunity to chat with Corta and is being told that Cavallo's scouts drained Lago Fuego, which had been some sort of sacred place of the local goblin tribes. They later found the abandoned hoard in a nearby cave. Carlyle explains that these goblins might just be the cause of her child's infection as goblins often catch the dragon worms and they may be transmitted by swallowing contaminated water.

    Corta understands this reasoning, but she insists that her child never bathed in Lago Fuego. She adds that there have been more cases of these parasite infections lately with sailors who enjoyed the hot springs near the harbor. Now that Carlyle has the full picture, he guesses that there has to be a subterranean connection between the reservoir of the waters of Lago Fuego and said hot springs. He adds that he cannot do much more for the boy as these worms are immune to magic and he's already treated in the best way he knows. But he does recommend to close the hot spring baths for now as these waters are most likely the source of the infections. And he also offers that we may take a closer look at the Lago Fuego area.

    The of them also talk about the railway and her stance towards Bruse Shantus. Carlyle stresses out that the railway will improve Cavallo's financial situation on the long run, even if he has to make a one-time investment in the Bruses' project. He explains that the wine he tasted yesterday was quite exquisite and that he believes that it may sell quite well in foreign countries like Risur. Especially if Bruse Shantus agrees to construct a second railway which connects Risur and Ber, which will reduce the risks of bandit raids and allow for much cheaper exports. And should her father be interested in good relations with Risur, we might just help negotiate importing good risuri steel to Ber.

    Regarding the Bruse, Corta explains that she knows that Shantus hasn't always been this indifferent towards his people's needs. When he asks her what could have happened to the Bruse to change his attitude that much, she just shrugs and answers “The tribes happened to the Bruse. The tribes can wear down the even sturdiest of minds and the greatest of warriors.”

    Carlyle nods calmly at her statement and then says that being a good, patient and diplomatic politician is a much different task than being a good warrior.

    (So we basically try to do what we're best at: helping people, gaining their trust and establishing good relationships. We also enjoyed our verbal sparring with Lya Jierre who's just as sassy and clever as we thought her to be. She made more than a worthy opponent during this challenge, even if she got the “bad guy” task and basically had to start playing dirty after we outed her intentions during the banquet.

    Oh and we instantly loved Corta Nariz for being the one who holds everything together in Cavallo's fortress. She's just serious business.

    And as this is the end of session 35 and there were a lot of “Auryn's thoughts” on this episode, I'd share a few of them especially as they will come up again in session 36 and 37.

    All in all she had been quite surprised that she'd been so much in control during our talk with him. She got the impression that she had finally been able to meet him on equal footing and to verbally “dance” with him. Auryn also believes that he's going to honor their agreement despite the fact that he cannot let her go either. They are still in this weird power struggle which both of them took from a personal to a more philosophical level.

    So she strongly believes that her true power depends on having allies she can trust and people who believe in her. Kind of like the power of the King of Risur depends on the trust of his people, but in a less metaphysical way. Fordren, on the other hand, believes that raw power is power and Auryn thinks that he'd love to regain his power over her. Despite the fact that he'd never broken her will and all of her submission had been an act.

    She also knows that she has to actively put aside her urges to take revenge on Fordren. After all he might be a powerful ally against the Obs and she wishes to follow the true path of Vekesh. So exacting revenge on Fordren would only cement her being weak, too weak to let go and change. On top of that, she started to believe that maybe even Fordren could change in time, even if it wouldn't matter much to her.

    Seeing Fordren showing true emotions also changed her view a bit. What if he desired power so much because he had been hurt or rendered powerless in the past? But even if she had these thoughts, she wouldn't bring herself to feel sympathy for him. And that is where her troubles with Carlyle began.

    Rationally, she totally understands his “sympathy” and his rather positive view on the man as Fordren honestly and believably swore to act against the Obs. As an agent of Risur, bringing the organization down has to have priority over personal feelings and he's her fellow agent. On the other hand, she felt as if Carlyle wasn't able to understand what Fordren had done to her. That he had brought her very close to breaking down, to the edge of the abyss.

    Yes, Carlyle had been there, too, but he had been able to eliminate the one who brought him there while Fordren lived and she had to live with him. Which is why she really needed his unconditional support. And also why any kind of positive emotion towards Fordren felt like betrayal, especially as, in her society, the husbands would be the last and strongest line of defense.

    And of course she knew that she could rely on Carlyle no matter what. She just thought that he'd never understand her or feel the same way she did. Which is... also true for Auryn's attempts to show her affection. She really didn't understand why Carlyle would be so reserved towards her when he stated that he'd been more direct when it came to other women. In her opinion, this could only be either because he was only doing her a favor and wasn't really interested in her or because he felt so much for her that he was afraid to repeat the situation he had with that Vantrys daughter.

    So yeah, it's complicated )
    XP RangerWickett, Tizbiz, Tormyr gave XP for this post

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