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ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

Lylandra

Explorer
As we're about to retreat, we receive yet another message from Lya, asking for yet another parley. This time, she discontentedly congratulates us on what appears to be our victory for this challenge as her camp is being a total mess, orcs are screaming for their mommies and she fears that Griento is about to commit suicide.

(fortunately, we knew that Griento playing falling into utter despair was part of our deal. Auryn had been really worried for a moment)

As we see her move as a gesture of surrender, we promise Lya to release all of Griento's captured workers so that poor Griento and the rest of his workforce may understand that the Banshee of the Swamplands was, in fact, no one else but Auryn. Oh and sorry for causing a panic with the dragon projection. Lya then asks us to release Ulrik as well and we, again, explain that we don't know of his whereabouts.

“I understand”, she says, “But should you by any chance happen to get into contact with my young servant, then promise me to do your best to get him released. He's a loyal boy who won't betray me or Danor. Using force against him won't do any difference and I don't wish to see him harmed.”

Carlyle raises a brow in return as Lya wasn't so reluctant when it came to the other workers in her crew.

“Well, should he by any chance happen to be the guest of Risur, then I'm sure that he'll be treated humanely. We don't torture little boys where we come from and I guess it says a lot about your secret service that you simply assumed that we would do so. Still I'm thankful that our little competition turned out to be way more honorable that we anticipated, so thank you.”, he says and offers her a handshake as a sign that this game has ended.

Lya shrugs in return, shakes our hands and then orders Inez to teleport her back to Seobriga. Just when she's about to leave, Carlyle warns her to not make any grave mistake because of her defeat, but lets her go anyway. And while we got the gut feeling that Lya isn't the kind of person who'd just

storm into the Bruse's throne room to pull off some last minute backstab against either the Bruse or our team, we prefer to play it safe.

So we let Margit be in charge of the whole "release of our prisoners" process and ask Flying Spark and her to care for Griento should he really turn out to be depressed. We're pretty sure that Damata is simply putting up a show, but better be safe than sorry when it comes to your friends. Next, we take the skull of Cheshimox with us and ask Andrei to guard Liss until the whole construction process and this game are both officially over. Then we teleport back to Seobriga as well.

We arrive at the Summer Court's teleportatin circle shortly after Lya and announce that Liss just finished his part of the railway. We're brought before Grand Vizier Zarkava and repeat our announcement after which she asks us for a full report on our tactics and an event log of what happened in Camp Liss during the game. She then informs us that Lya Jierre reported a rules violation as one of her teammates, Ulrik, had gone missing. We return that we honestly don't know where Ulrik might be and that we got nothing to do with his disappearance and Zarkava seems content with our statement.


(Walking a thin line there, of course. But, again, not a violation of the game's rules as we got no direct involvement in Ulrik's disappearance)

The grand vizier adds that the matter of Lya's manservant will be looked into as soon as possible. Carlyle then mentions that we brought a special gift for the Bruse with us, a token from ancient times which we'd like to present to him: The skull of the Dragon Tyrant Cheshimox. The lizardwoman grins broadly in return and says that this might just be to the Bruse's liking, without a doubt.

We have to wait for quite a while then before all of us and Team Lya are summoned before the Bruse and his two advisors. Each of the two teams is given an opportunity to make a final statement before the judging and Lya starts by reminding the Bruse that allying with Danor will lead to a grand and prosperous future for Ber. Also, she and her team acted far more honorable than ours with our focus on illusion and deception and her manservant still missing.

Carlyle takes the opportunity to point out that the Bruse asked our teams to do him two favors while we actually did him five: We didn't just finish the railroad first and got Cavallo de Guerra to come to an agreement with the Bruse, but we also stopped the gnoll army's advancement for an indefinite time, layed the groundwork for a lasting peace between Risur and Ber by showing the Berans how to calm the sea fea and brought back the skull of Cheshimox as a gift for the Bruse. He then presents the artifact, and promises to tell the Bruse the story of how we came into its possession should he wish to hear it.

The Bruse simply nods at the two proclamations and then calls for the judges to make their votes. First, he hands the two "technical" points to Team Risur as we obviously won both challenges. Kenna Vigilante is the first one to cast her vote and she explains that she had been disgusted by the game's premise from the very start. Which is why she'd give her point to the loser team, Danor. We nod in silent agreement. Zarkava comes next and she states that the Risuri very obviously had shown more interest in a sustainable and equal partnership with their neighboring country than the Danorans, which is why she'd give her point to Risur.

Lastly, the Bruse raises his voice. He seems to understand that his vote doesn't really matter much at this point, so he scratches his head, shrugs, and then announces that he never really liked the Danorans anyway and thought our sabotage attempts to be much funnier than theirs. Especially the dancing robots. But the projected dragon was a bit over the top and disturbing. Still, his point goes to Risur, which leaves the final scoring 4:1 for Risur.

The Bruse then orders his guards to "bring the Tinker" and asks us to wait outside the throne room. We do as we've been asked and wait for what seems to be an eternity. Which leads us to the thought that the Berans must have put great effort into making sure that neither of our parties would be able to simply snatch and abduct the gnome. During this waiting time, Auryn congratulates Rush Münchhausen for his clever trick with the immovable rod, but it seems as if he's not really interested in her genuine praise and instead takes the opportunity to boast about his other feats. Which... makes her lose interest pretty fast.

After a long while, Team Risur is finally being called to the throne room. Kenna Vigilante asks us whether we'd like to question the gnome behind closed doors and we agree that this would be best in terms of secrecy.


(Yeah, you probably should have taken our offer to question him together when we first arrived at the Summer Court, Madame Jierre. Time to learn to cooperate next time. Seriously, we really put great effort to work with Lya instead of against her, and her being so stubborn only made us try harder because we know that she's intelligent enough to understand that we're the reasonable ones.)

After the doors are closed, we remind the Bruse and his advisors that we'd like to take Tinker along with us after the questioning and none of them seems to have any problem with our request. Then two of the palace guards present a small, black-haired gnome who seems to be talking to himself about machines or so. We try to approach him with all courtesy, but he seems to ignore our presence at first as he only got his machines on his mind. Which turns out to be quite literally the case.

“Don't you understand? Can't you big folk LISTEN?!” he says, quite manically, carefully stroking a little, mechanical ball, “They're talking to me, talking all the time. You just need to listen! No one ever listens!”

We remember that a certain Alexander Grappa did manage to talk to his golems and to give them a mind, so we don't simply brush Tinker off as being crazy.

“Who's talking to you, Mr. Oddcog?”

“The MACHINES of course. They're ticking and tocking and talking all the time. Just listen to them.”

“I'm afraid we can't hear them. But we know other machines who talked to us.” Auryn says softly. “Could you teach us? We wish we could understand them like you do.”

“Yes, they had names, too. Colin and Linus and Hunting. Do your machines have names, Mr. Oddcog?” Carlyle adds, looking at the gnome.

Oddcog seems a bit overwhelmed by our response, then confused and then he finally produces a pocket-watch, presses a button and loudly proclaims that “this wasn't my idea!”. He then counts down from sixteen, leaving us totally baffled for the moment. Then we suddenly hear a loud, whistling sound and a massive detonation happens right above us. We still don't know what's happening and so do the Bruse and his guards, but we do know that this is an attack and that someone is trying to kill us and possibly Tinker. So Carlyle reaches out to both Auryn and Tinker Oddcog to get all of us out at once.

“Please, don't try to resist my spell. I'll get us to safety.” he explains as calmly as anyone could ever be in a situation like this and casts a teleportation spell.


(He did think about saving the Bruse as well for a moment, but then realized that our mission was to get Tinker at any cost. So he didn't want to risk losing him.)

We reappear in the teleportation circle in Slate, but then realize in shock that we're missing one gnome in our party. So Carlyle risks teleporting directly into the throne room (even if he has only “seen it casually”) to get Tinker, only to see the gnome approach the Bruse with a small, mechanical ball in his hand.

“It wasn't my idea! I'm sorry!” he repeats before vanishing in a massive flash of light as the ball in his hands explodes in yet another massive detonation. Lumps of flesh and... strange, mechanical parts erupt from the place where Tinker had been standing a moment ago, brutally wounding Bruse Shantus in the process. Before we can even try to heal the burly minotaur, Kenna Vigilante and the guards rush to their Bruse, grapple him and break his neck as if was a simple twig. Then they turn to us.

We draw our weapons, ready to defend ourselves against whatever kind of coup this might be. Auryn tries to enchant some of them with her music, but these creatures seem to be totally immune to her spell.

“Whatever they are, they are certainly not humanoid. I guess they might be constructs” she shouts. Carlyle tests her theory with a few kukri slashes, only to see it confirmed when these “guards” reveal lots of mechanical parts underneath their flesh. So we don't hold back against these mechanical simulacra – except the Kenna one – until the throne room is struck by more explosives. Among these is some sort of gas grenade which starts spreading poisonous gas, so we make a beeline to the exit door. From which we hear the sound of ongoing combat on the other side.

Just when we're about to open the door, Rush forces it open from the other side, revealing that the Danorans are fighting a group of guards led by none else but Pardo, minister of rebellion.

“You're opposing them as well, I see. I hope you don't mind teaming up for now?” Lya suggests with an unnatural calm while she's striking against one of the guard-doppelgängers with her vibro-rapier.

We don't mid at all and focus on Pardo first and foremost. The gnoll reacts by casting clerical magic at us, which comes as a massive surprise as we didn't know that 1) constructs are able to do so and 2) the dead tyrant Gradiax is actually able to grant them spells.


(seriously, this shook at least Auryn on a metaphysical level as she was pretty certain that Gradiax wasn't a god. Which also meant that the sheer power of belief could be enough to cause miracles to happen)

The gnoll proudly proclaims that his dragon god will soon rule over all of Ber as it had been in the olden days and that he already revealed himself in the fields of Renza.

“Sorry to disappoint you, but that was actually me fooling your army with an illusion.” Auryn says with a most disarming smile, which causes Pardo to turn visibly angry in return.

“Bloody blasphemy!” he screams, throwing yet another foul spell at Auryn. But it turns out that his spells are no match for the sheer combat prowess of Team Danor and Team Risur. We decide to knock the Pardo-bot out and dissect the other guards. We then take Zarkava, who's still completely overwhelmed by the turn of events, and leave the palace alongside Team Danor. On our way out, we come across several guards which we check for mechanical parts. As soon as we realize that these are real orcs, goblins and minotaurs, we quickly inform them that a fake Tinker suicide-bombed the Bruse and that fake Kenna killed Shantus shortly after. They accompany us to a safe spot outside the palace where we try to explain what exactly had happened during the interrogation.

One by one, more soldiers and guards arrive at our meeting spot, exchanging information and, after a few moments of reconsideration, they explain that the palace had been bombarded by the nearby ammunition test facility that Tinker Oddcog had been working in. We offer them our help, but it seems as if the Berans prefer to take care of the situation themselves. So we simply warn them of the duplicant robots and decide to let them do their thing.

Minutes later the bombardment stops and we're being told that the situation is under control now. Carlyle then turns to Zarkava to ask her for one final audience with the Bruse. She's a bit skeptical at first, but he tells the minister that he's able to both talk to and send recently deceased spirits to the afterlife, and the Bruse may have crucial information he'd like to share before passing on. Also, he's used to interacting with spirits and values their input as much as he values the opinion of living people.

The minister finally agrees and leads Carlyle to the place where Kenna had killed the Bruse mere minutes earlier. She then returns to send for Cavallo de Guerra as the old orc would be Shantus' official successor.

Meanwhile, Carlyle calls the spirit of Bruse Shantus and apologizes that he wasn't fast enough to save him from the assassins. He then guesses that Shantus wouldn't be too happy about his demise, but the Bruse seems to be surprisingly calm. The minotaur explains that he's been pretty much surprised by his sudden death, but feels no remorse at this turn of events. After all, he died in a fight, even if he doesn't understand why Kenna Vigilante would have killed him. Carlyle does his best to tell him about the betrayal of Oddcog, Pardo and the robotic doubles, and he also promises him to avenge his death by bringing justice to the gnoll. He then asks Shantus for more information about the gnome as this might be crucial in finding and arresting Tinker.

Unfortunately, Shantus doesn't know much about him either. He tells Carlyle that Tinker had worked in many different research facilities, but he didn't really get along with the other researchers. So he switched projects continuously. He got fed up by the annoying gnome eventually and was actually quite happy when he first heard about the Danoran's request to interrogate Tinker and to take him away. Carlyle asks him whether someone else besides the Danorans had shown any interest in the Oddcog, but Shantus explains that no one cared. Only “his good friend Pendragon” and the “sly Folder” showed up occasionally to sell him their new tech.


(He obviously meant Pemberton and Fordren but couldn't get their names right. Oh and he actually called Fordren “Foltern” in German, which means “tortures” or “to torture”. Quite fitting.)

Regarding Pardo and his cult, both had unnerved him royally, but he thought the gnoll was rather cute in his stubbornness and superstition, and his advisors had told him to keep an eye on the gnolls, so he kept him around. Still he wouldn't have thought that the giggling lunatic would have had the guts to stage such a coup. Last but not least, he asks a favor of Carlyle: To get him a certain bottle of wine and give it to the future Bruse Cavallo as a parting gift. He then says that he hopes Cavallo will have better luck with the terrible job of being Bruse of Ber.

“I guess that's all, Mr. Carlyle from Risur. Farewell.”

Shantus then pats on the deva's shoulders for a last time and it seems as if he's transferring a part of his authority to Carlyle, who does his best to open up the spirit's path to his ancestors.


(I know I repeat myself when I say that "I know this isn't how it is supposed to work by the rules" but speaking to spirits and 'sending' them is too damn awesome. And yes, Carlyle's player has played FF10 and loves it. He's totally our Yuna ;) )
 

Tizbiz

Explorer
I was very lucky that Mr. Carlyle decided to try to teleport away. Only because of that i had enough time to actually kill Bruse Shantus.

Concerning Lya's not cooperating with the RHC i reasoned, that she was under orders to get exclusive access to Oddcogg and was waiting for a better chance to get him. People often make unreasonable decisions because of politics.

As to the speaking to the spirits, i really prefer to roleplay that. If it helps to deepen the players enjoyment, i try to don't bother with rules as written too much.

I am looking forward to Lylandras next story, because of her characters reaction to risurs state secrets.
 
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Lylandra

Explorer
Carlyle then returns back to the rest of us and tells us about his final encounter with the Bruse. We both agree that we'd need Margit at our side immediately as her divintaion magic might be crucial in finding out more about the Oddcog's whereabouts. Or whether he's still alive at all. Besides that, we'd like to attend to the interrogations of the Pardo and Kenna duplicants which are to be questioned as soon as the Executores arrive at the summer court.

It takes a while for Cavallo and his daughter, Corta Nariz, to arrive at court. He immediately speaks to the courtiers and soldiers and harshly condemns the cowardly attack on the late Bruse Shantus, whom he had always respected despite their differences. He also promises to nip this rebellion in the bud, then turns to us and directly asks us whether we'd support his campaign against the rebel gnolls. We reply that we'd love to, but add that we'd have to officially ask our government first, as this could be seen as risuri intervention in a civil war. Cavallo understands, even if he's not a big fan of too much talking and would like to see an end to this rebellion as soon as possible.

The old orc is then inaugurated in a short but grandiose ceremony and sworn in as the new Bruse of Ber. And it appears as if all of the summer courtiers are honestly celebrating Cavallo's ascension to Brusedom. However, it takes only a few more hours and the new Bruse finds himself surrounded by petitioners who are eager to make use of the new situation.

After a while, Cavallo rolls his eyes and bellows “Enough of this! I got a war campaign to plan!” before pulling his daughter aside to ask her to handle the other requests in his stead. She agrees, then looks at us and shrugs with a smile before patiently taking care of the petitioners. We spend the rest of the day trying to get to know more of the courtiers and sending messages to Risur to inform Delft and Lee about the death of Shantus, the disappearance of Tinker and the new Bruse's request.

(We're pretty sure that she's going to micromanage the shit out of Ber and the various tribes' requests. All while handling her kids AND her father. Someone give that woman a medal.)

When that long day finally reaches its end, both of us are assigned one of the still intact rooms of the summer palace and simply fall into our beds.

The next day, we wake up early to attend to the scheduled interrogations of the duplicant prisoners. However, the two robots seem to be pretty much inert and inresponsive. When the Executores can't get any information at all, we offer them to examine the robots with all kinds of magic and medical procedures. The Executores agree and we find out that these duplicants appear to contain no blood and function only by mechanical means. What we do find are traces of Witchoil, which may or may not hint at an Obscurati involvement. Margit also unsuccessfully tries to scry Tinker and it appears as if he's being warded by some other magic. Still this does mean that the gnome is still alive.

We inform the Zarkava about our findings and add that we're not the best tech experts, so it might be wise to find someone who knows more about robotics. We mention one Alexander Grappa, who'd be perfect for the job, but who's unfortunately not available at the moment (and we don't know whether we can trust him right now), before adding that there could be other candidates as well: First there's the obvious two: Fordren, who's residing at the summer court, but whom we don't trust, Pemberton, who's absent and who we don't really know much about, and Justin Rollins, whom we do trust but who's also a Risuri who works for the King of Risur. Which could have political implications.

Zarkava thinks about our proposal for a while and then decides to call for Mr. Fordren. Carlyle nods, takes a quick glance at Auryn and says “I guess you'd prefer to have me ask him if he's available?”

“I'd be glad.”

Carlyle then leaves the duplicants to search for Fordren in his company's tent. To his surprise, the man didn't even increase his security level after the attacks on the palace and is currently busy doing negotiations with a beran military official. When he notices Carlyle, he quickly finishes his deal and turns to the deva.

“Ah, Mr. Carlyle. What can I do for you? More B.E.A.R.s for the RHC?”

Carlyle shakes his head and then proposes that the new Bruse may have need for his expertise as he'd need to find out more about the mysterious assassins who killed Shantus. He hints that helping the Bruse might give him an advantage over his competitor Pemberton in the future, so this might just be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the businessman.

Fordren seems immediately interested and expresses his fascination with all that modern military tech that had been used for the attack on the summer palace.

“Not my invention, that's for sure. Though this arsenal is truly one of a kind. Gas grenades... what brilliance. Should've come up with this myself”

Needless to say that Carlyle is internally disgusted as said grenades had killed a lot of innocents just a day before. The two continue to chat about what could or could not have been a development of Fordren Industries and it appears as if even the insightful Gabriel Carlyle might have found his match in the sly talker that is Francis Fordren.

After a few minutes, Carlyle appears to be quite unnerved, as he states:

“I know you're well versed in your deals and loopholes, but let me make one thing clear: I've spent centuries dealing with scheming nobles, sly businessmen and silver tongues, and I'm far too old to get confused or distracted by words.”

Fordren smiles mischievously at such blunt honesty and switches subjects immediately.

“Speaking of distractions, I hope that the adorable Auryn Galadin is in good health as well? I've heard rumors that she'd been in the palace during the attack.”

“I guess she is. Shall I show you the duplicants?”


(Carlyle was quite unnerved that he couldn't read Fordren at all. He only seemed honestly interested in tech, but beat totally around the bush when it came to a possible involvement of his tech in the attack on the palace. He also couldn't get whether Fordren was trying to tease him regrading Auryn, whether it was playing to his obsession or simply a twisted sense of honest concern.)

Carlyle leads Fordren to the basement where the two inert duplicants are kept and explains that both of them are responsible for the assassination of Bruse Shantus. Problem is, they don't appear to work anymore and Ber needs answers. Fordren starts examining them immediately and appears to be utterly captivated by the tech. As he handles the heavy duplicants with much ease, we secretly guess that he could have a hidden prosthetic or advanced bionic arm, but keep quiet about our assumptions. Also, we try to make sure that the industrialist doesn't gain too much info from his analysis as we really don't want to see him reproduce said duplicants.

After quite a few moments of “fascinating” and “brilliant”, Fordren turns back to us (and the Executores) to state his findings. First, the duplicants are mere puppets who need puppeteers, so there must be someone controlling them remotely. Second, this mechanism is probably related to soul magic as he found traces of Witchoil, where one could easily place a fragment of someone's soul. Therefore, getting info from them will be nigh impossible as the duplicants themselves have no memory.

Based on this assessment, we examine them a second time and check for planar magic. As Fordren said, we find traces of Bleak Gate energy which may help in developing means to spot a duplicant in the future. Unfortunately, we aren't really able to trace back the energy trail to a concrete person, so we can only guess that the real Pardo and “Kenna” are hidden somewhere safe.

Last but not least, Auryn issues one final thought: What if lunatic Pardo tries to become the god of all gnolls and ruler of all Ber by developing and driving a dragon tyrant duplicant?
 
Because there is a scene in Book 8 which calls out for it to be Ape shaped and human was close enough, although I am now tempted to make it a transformer
 

Lylandra

Explorer
You mean the King Kong reference? I actually thought Borne to be a metaphor for the "robots gaining consciousness" debate, hence the giant android form. For his intended ritualistic use, I'd say that the added stability of a quadruped would make sense though :D
 

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