RP by Comment


I’m bored.

First three people to post a comment are the adventuring party.  I do all rules.  World is like in the “soulsborne” games, you can have some cheap combat powers but nothing amazing.  Should have some kind of weird signature weapon, like giant scissors or a sharp hat.  When you get bored of the game (or just want to make room for a player to replace you) let me know and your character will get an exotic death or reward commensurate with how long you lasted in the game.

Out of character or metagame comments in parentheses.  No more than one comment per person between comments by me, altho I’ll let you have a parenthetical out of character one if you really feel it necessary.  I might be willing to edit a mistake in a comment for you if you like.  I’m favoring past tense but I’ll probably slip up and I know most people prefer to RP in present tense, so whatever on that.



The spring felt like summer already, but what were seasons anymore?  The moon was somehow always visible despite the cosmically gigantic black clouds boiling around it, the air alternating bitter little lashes of rain and muggy swells of humid vapors.  Thunder rolled and lighting cracked like snake tongues or vague sheets of ghost-like energy.  As you awakened to the world, you hated it.

Something drew you from the place where you were.  Something shivered your timbers like the veriest of pirates.  You awakened in some kind of mild bondage from which you can escape – wound over with vines or wires, half buried in dry mud, etc.  You were wearing interesting and minutely detailed garments.  You had a name and looked cool.

(Describe all these things, and your escape, and how you feel about the drawing and the shivering upon your soule.  Go.)


  1. cartomancer says

    Mardonius Calderon disliked the rain intensely.

    It would have been difficult to unwork the knots of the tightly-wound net that held him fast at the best of times, but with his long cascade of red hair plastered to his face and fingers slipping in the wet the task was nigh impossible. He had been at this for over an hour, dangling from the branch of a tree like some over-ripe fruit ready to fall. The scraping and juddering in his head from whatever ambient sorcery arced through the place wasn’t helping either.

    Eventually, hands worked raw with fraying his bindings, something gave. The net collapsed outward and he fell to earth. It was progress, of a sort, he supposed.

    Fortunately nothing had been damaged in the fall. Even his padded satchel of hastily-packed laboratory glassware was intact. Mardonius drew himself up to his full height, six foot three and rake-thin, and pulled in his long grey greatcoat to ward off the cold. He rummaged in its many deep pockets for his gilded pince-nez spectacles and the embroidered leather gloves that were at once affectation and vital protection in his work. His thick woolen scarf billowed and snapped in the wind, which was getting worse as midnight approached. It was no night for a disgraced alchemist even one in as much trouble with the powers that be as he, to be abroad alone.

    Satisfied that all was in order, Mardonius pulled a weighty velvet bag from his belt, and undid the cord. The sharp-grained dust inside smelled of sulphur and old ruins on the verge of collapse. It wasn’t the most elegant of weapons, but a handful of noxious powder to the face generally did the trick in most situations. If that didn’t work then a good wallop with the bag usually sorted things out. A quick swig from his proprietory emboldening tinctures, and he was ready to make his way towards destiny.

  2. Joe K says

    Narcisse pushed away another layer of the rich feather-stuffed blankets that had been piled on top of him. They’d felt so warm and comforting before but now they were a stifling burden and he was gasping for breath by the time he was free. The smell of rot was heavy in the castle, despite all the bodies having been brought outside for a proper bonfire. But a night in a castle was still a treat, with all the luxurious art and grand furniture. He and the other villagers had their fun ransacking the castle, and he had even found himself a beautiful outfit of embroidered hose and a silky tunic patterned with rampant unicorns. Whoever wore them once was probably just a pile of black bone shards and ashes.

    The nearest window had been smashed in the fight, and a cold wind ruffled through the castle, rustling around debris and making Narcisse shudder, even after being swaddled in those blankets for so long. A rain began to fall, blowing inside by the wind and splattering on the stone floor. Where was everyone now? The castle was silent, no cheering and hollering from the halls as there had been not long before. The stink of rotting blood turned his stomach, and he felt that he couldn’t stay another moment. His bell had rolled beneath the royal’s bed, and he had to pull it back out carefully, lest he cut his hand on its razored edge. It jingled merrily as he righted it, and he cringed to imagine what things it might have awakened… Nothing came rushing out of the darkened halls, no vengeful ghosts of those slain not long before. Had the other villagers left him behind? What if they saw him come tottering out of the castle and imagined he was a royal they had missed? He peered outside before he dared take that risk.

  3. says

    The emboldening tinctures were a strange thing. How much of the effect was true alchemy and how much simple narcotic? To Mardonius the sensation of the oppressive humidity in the air turned into an embrace of delicate rose petals and the lightning and moonlight filled the darkest recesses in electric blues and greens. But through that all there was the call. He could almost see it, like a spasmodic rippling umbilicus before him, leading through the thick of the forest and down.

    He did not immediately hear the footsteps behind him over the weather’s tumult. Those who laid the net trap had come for their ensnared prey just a little too late. But a little challenge never hurt anyone. How could Mardonius sense this impending attack? (if he has an ability to notice surprises describe how it works, otherwise just describe how he’s feeling before the ambush catches him.)

    Narcisse could see crucified, pilloried, shackled, caged bodies burning outside. There had been no plan, the various implements of royal justice repurposed in the low courtyard that faced the village proper. But something was amiss. Everyone was gone – not a living soul in sight. And the fires clearly should already have burned out, but they persisted. Was that flame more pale than natural? An effect of an unusual chimical used for fuel? The smoke was similarly pale, boiling away into the sky, torn to bits by random drops of fierce but sparse rain.

    Something was calling to him. Or was it more like a tugging? Like some unknown entrail, perhaps the liver, was tethered to the tail of a lazy horse a mile away, dragging him at a walking pace. He couldn’t resist stepping out into the rain, staggering on. As he went, he thought of the baron’s final words, cursing the village. Amusing that pieties went out the window in such times. (describe his role in those events a bit more, like if he was swept up with friends or relatives, or had been a servant in the house, or something else.)

  4. cartomancer says

    Mardonius could feel that something was amiss. Years of working with the bones of the earth and the humours of the cosmos had attuned him, somehow, to the hidden flows of matter beneath the surface of reality. What was it old master Venkstrom had called it? Vibrations in the plenum, or some such thing? The Order of the Crucible had their mystical nomenclature for all aspects of the Art, but Mardonius had never really paid that much attention to it. Nevertheless, experienced practitioners often reported a sixth sense when it came to percieving unusual substances in the prima materia of the world around them. The tinctures brought it into much sharper focus.

    Whatever it was, he could sense, albeit as if through a darkened retort, the approaching presence of something altogether hostile. There was iron there, and fulminating aqua regia, and the faint tang of salt skittering with bound thunder. Living beings, he supposed, human most likely, and probably the ones who had set this trap for him in the first place. Iron was a bad sign. Blood or weapons or both, there was a force in iron that boded ill for anyone forced to confront it.

    His mind raced. There would be a confrontation, he supposed, if he didn’t run or hide somewhere. He could, perhaps, find himself an advantageous position from which to rain down his noxious powder. That might turn the tide. Though if they had bows or fire or there were more than two or three of them, it would be unlikely he could hold out for long. He doubted he could reason with them – their anger was almost palpable. In a moment, he decided a distraction was the best course of action. And he had better get back to civilisation, or what passed for it in these parts.

    There was smoke rising from the castle on the hill, maybe a mile in the distance. Feasting fires, perhaps? Or a celebration bonfire to mark some great event? That would be his best chance of finding shelter, maybe even support, with which to survive in this peculiar backwater place.

    Rummaging through his pockets, he quickly located the reagents he needed. sal aeratus, natron, al-Rummah’s solution, that should do the trick. Lobbing the mixture as far as possible to his right, Mardonius bolted left, through the dead woods, towards the castle. As the concoction fizzed and boiled on contact with the air, he could only hope that the smoke and noise would cover his escape.

  5. says

    His keen alchemical senses were good for catching some very specific information about important bodies in the area, but not so much at pinpointing precisely where they stood. Most of his pursuers were indeed caught up in the smoke, swiping and colliding with each other as they tried to converge on Mardonius. But the path he chose led him right into one of them.

    It wasn’t anger – it was hanger. He’d heard tell of starving fishermen moving farther inland to pursue other prey, that they’d come up with a deranged justification for eating anything they caught – that if you were ensnared in a fish net, you must be a fish. He was emaciated in the face, eyes bulging from hollow sockets rimmed red, his oiled leather rain clothes heavy on his stooped body, but somehow wielding that yard long two-tined fork with furious strength. “Mackerel!,” he cried.

    But both Mardonius and his foe were weak in the body, wobbly. The fisherman was a little slow on the swipe and they collided with each other, flopped around each other like the stems of withering weeds, and staggered apart. Nothing obstructed Mardonius’s egress now, save the possibility of a fork in the back.

    That and the call. He couldn’t make himself run to the village. Something drew him the other way, down toward a thickly wooded valley. (if he has another trick to lose the pursuit, deploy it. or try some kind of combat strategy.)

  6. cartomancer says

    Mardonius felt a great sense of pity for the starving fisherman in front of him. He was not, by nature, a vengeful person, and he had seen enough of poverty in this world to know the poor were rarely at fault for their condition. Nevertheless, pity has its limits, and it is hard to feel sorry for someone trying to gut you with a fishing spear.

    He took stock of the situation. The man had the advantage of reach, but a pole-arm is a poor choice in cramped conditions. The trees were thicker on the ground directly to the east, and Mardonius figured that his wretched assailant would not be skilled enough to avoid the tightly-packed trunks and ground cover as he swung to stab at him. With any luck the fork would become lodged in the vegetation, and he could use the time to fling sulphurous powder in the man’s eyes and make good his escape.

    He ducked low and rolled out of the man’s reach, before scrambling crabwise for the thicket as fast as he could. “Pollock! Cod! Lumpfish!” he shouted, hoping the man’s cracked mind would be distracted momentarily by familiar names and thoughts. Then he readied his powder bag and grabbed a handful of dust for the coup de grace, eyeing the path down into the valley and plotting his course out of this gods-forsaken wilderness.

  7. Joe K says

    It had been a long time coming, and all those clandestine meetings in barns had kept the villager’s spirits high. His brothers had been particularly eager — their hard work paid for the Baron’s lavish banquets that they would never be invited to. It had been the most exciting night of any of their lives — bursting into a place they weren’t allowed, the whole town flowing in and making their pain known. But now, splattering rain washed the blood and ash into warm black rivers across the cobblestones, and there was no sign of that life or excitement. Narcisse pulled his roquelaure tight against the cold, his fine stolen clothing already growing damp with the trickles of rain creeping around his collar. The blackened bodies in their cages and shackles seemed to melt in the water, and he kept his eyes from them. They lingered in his periphery like living shadows. What was this force calling him away? Just his desire to flee the grim place?

  8. says

    Mardonius had to weave between trees and through obstacles along the way to dodge the forkman, which slowed them enough for the others to close some distance. In areas the ground was slick from the oppressive humidity and the hunted and the hunters slid as deftly as they could.

    Mardonius seemed to have the advantage in all that, and by the time he reached the thicket, his strategy served him well. Eyes burning, lungs ragged from the effort of chase, the fishermen collapsed over stumps and branches, groaning hoarsely like sad dogs.

    But now he was closer to the source of the umbilicus and his senses or the drugs gave that vision greater clarity. He could see it, though if vanished without constant scrutiny – a whipping red tether from his body, extending through the trees to some unknown source. At that point, seeing was believing. He knew this was some kind of weird reality. (Did he try to fight it in some way, or follow the pull to satisfy curiosity?)

    For Narcisse the worst thing about the strange desertion of the village was not knowing. His friends and family should have been there, should have been wondering about him, or celebrating victory, or hiding evidence for when the next noble tried to install himself in the castle. But his fancy shoes bore him onward at a pace approaching a run.

    The village was atop a hill and the valley below was so thick with trees and laborious to enter and leave that it had never been cleared – and that was where he was headed, feet sliding over moist pastures, sky rumbling with thunder, thin cracks of lightning too close for comfort as he went.

    He reached the place on the hill where the slope became so steep it was an open question whether it was safer to leap to a treetop and climb down that, or to carefully descend clinging to roots and rocks in the hillside. But something was wrong. On the treetops were man-sized shapes. Great birds of prey, looking at him? He could not tell. (does Narcisse’s bell just ring all the time as he goes, or does he have a way to stop that? how does he intend to descend?)

  9. cartomancer says

    Mardonius had many character flaws, and he knew it. But by far the biggest was an irrepressible sense of curiosity. You didn’t get thrown out of the Order and hounded from the Free City of Verdalia for just the usual sort of alchemical tinkering. Whatever this siren call was, whatever force was drawing him to it, he wanted to know the details. Von Schechter’s Compendium Motionum was woefully incomplete, any apprentice who could work a calcinator knew that. It certainly didn’t cover anything like this.

    Mardonius plunged forward, through the looming trees, to see what the source was.

  10. Joe K says

    Narcisse’s bell clanged dully — the clapper inside was just as heavy as the weapon itself, but it still jangled as he slipped over the wet ground. Was this where everyone else had gone to? All of them drawn by this force to be eaten by those things lurking in the trees? It didn’t seem wise to climb trees while those things were so capable of perching atop them. He hunkered low, looping the bell’s rope around branches and stones to attempt to slow himself — he was already wet, if the ground weren’t so jagged he might have considered just sliding his way down. Was awful fate was he being drawn toward?

  11. says

    The figures in the treetops unfurled their wings – the harpies of Perinor, just like in the village stories! But they were just stories. If the harpies had ever really been down in the valley, Narcisse would have seen them before, wouldn’t he? They were birds the size of a man, headless, but with a giant crone’s face upon the breast. They lolled tongues in a tasteless display of gluttony.

    In trying to play it safe with his rope on the hill side, he had opened himself to attack! They were unbelievably fast, which had him entirely on the defensive. He dodged the first massive set of talons by leaping off the slope, but instead of falling to the ground, he had bounced off a large branch and ended up in the tree canopy. A massive face burst through a bough and snapped at him, and leaping away from that he found his arms snatched up by giant bird hands.

    They dragged him out of the tree and into the air. Unbelievably, he still had his rope and bell in one hand. The rope had come free of wherever it was moored originally, but now slowed the harpy’s process in getting him airborne. That’s when he discovered they were so hungry for him that they were not cooperating on the kill. The others attacked the one that gripped him, and he fell free through the canopy down into a gnarled thicket.

    The thicket had a narrow path through it, something like a deer trail? He didn’t remember it was the calling in that fearsome moment, but he immediately decided which way to run. All along the way, harpies pierced the thicket in random grabs, nearly catching him.

    Ahead there was a clearing with some kind of obstruction there. A moving obstruction, with a long grey greatcoat, thick woolen scarf, and rain-slicked long red hair.

    Mardonius had a feeling he was nearly to the source of the umbilical cord when he began to hear gabbling cries and tumult in the thicket behind him. Glancing back thru the pince nez glasses he saw a young nobleman running his way in silk and unicorns – harried by monsters from above.

  12. Joe K says

    The young man’s fine clothes were drenched with rain and splattered with mud. His dark hair lay in black tendrils splaying into his eyes, and he could barely see through them as he ducked about for safety. He carried a heavy razored bell that slid about in his wet hands. He looked to the stranger with desperation, unable to decide if he ought to beg for help or warn the man away from the danger.

  13. cartomancer says

    Mardonius was relieved to see another human soul who did not appear to wish him harm. Though what to make of the figure’s garb and situation was anybody’s guess. Fancy hose and tunic, clearly some kind of heraldic crest woven in there… was that the white unicorn of the House of Bragante? Too fine for a herald or a retainer, that’s for sure. Though why was this down-at-heel aristocrat dragging a sharpened brass handbell with him and being pursued by those… things?

    Ye gods the smell of them was terrible. He had been warned, when he left the last village, that travellers and livestock sometimes went missing in these parts. Stolen away by the bird-women of the deep woods. He had thought such talk to be mere ghost stories, but no, clearly the folk wisdom had something to it after all. Well this was turning out to be a bugger of a night.

    Still, perhaps if he helped the hapless blueblood he might make a powerful ally. Patrons were thin on the ground, after all. But what to do? they were flapping and swooping just out of reach, and he was far too tired for a frontal assault even if he could throw his burning powder high enough to hit them.

    Aha! there, over there, a massive, gnarled oak riddled with knot holes. That would do. “Over here M’lord” Mardonius shouted, as he fumbled in his pack for the last of the explosive clay he had prepared three nights ago, back at the inn. Ramming the substance into one of the tree’s inner boles, he rummaged for his tinderbox and a an old candlewick to act as a timer. Even if the beasts were not caught in the hail of splinters, the resulting fire would probably keep them at bay while the two of them escaped.

    “Run, M’lord! Get as far away from this tree as you can! We’ve got ten seconds at most to be clear when I light this cord!”

    Mardonius began to run himself, capering and juddering as the adrenaline began to wear off and fatigue reassert itself. He could only hope that this strange nobleman had figured out the plan.

  14. says

    The tall red-haired man made some kind of preparations for Narcisse reaching the clearing, then explained it in a hurry and lit the cord. As the harpies pursued him into the clearing, they realized they had two options to squabble over. Three harpies, two meals – whoever ended up in solo pursuit would clearly make out like a queen. In the struggle to be that bitch, they had a little tussle in the air.

    Did Narcisse run the same direction as the redhead, or split up to take advantage of harpy problems? Did Mardonius look back to see which way the noble ran, try to head the same way, or not?

  15. cartomancer says

    Mardonius would like to think that this nobleman, whoever he was, was going to follow his lead. He cast a brief glance over his shoulder to check, but his first and most urgent priority was not being anywhere near the old tree when it exploded. So he carried on charging away in his initial direction.. It dawned on Mardonius that, maybe, if the noble didn’t realise what was going on, he might get caught in the blast. Blowing up your only ally at the first meeting – not a great look, was it?

    Perhaps it was a touch arrogant to assume that someone he had only just met was going to grasp his plan immediately and fall in line without questioning it? Well, perhaps it was, and it was that kind of thinking that had got him thrown out of Verdalia in the first place, but in his mind Mardonius was just helping out a stranger in need, and expected at least a little gratitude in return. He repeated his call again, though his breathing was very ragged by now “Run M’lord! This way! Get away from that tree NOW!”

  16. Joe K says

    Narcisse ran along with the stranger, then diverted sharply in hopes of distracting the creatures from their attack. His wet shoes slipped in the mud but he ran with all the last dregs of strength he had. He couldn’t even quite fathom what was going on — the monsters, exploding trees… The mind had ways of reverting to simple animal instincts when it needed to.

  17. says

    At first the harpies took advantage of them running the same direction to forestall their squabble, but it was just forestalling, and Narcisse’s diversion twisted them in a knot long enough for the explosion to go off. Perhaps Mardonius miscalculated, or perhaps something within the tree reacted with the explosive, or perhaps lightning had struck at the same time, but the explosion was so massive that both men were knocked off their feet by the rumble and tumult.

    As they rose to hands and knees to take stock of the situation, they could see each other at far ends of another natural path, bits of flaming sticks and sparks raining down between them. The moment’s demands had them almost comically mirroring each other’s actions, looking first at each other and then back to the pursuers. They saw nothing of the harpies and quickly got to their feet in case of any further surprises.

    A wave of smoke billowed out between them, but not so thick they couldn’t see each other. Maybe time for a proper introduction?

  18. cartomancer says

    Mardonius made a mental note to perhaps avoid blowing things up so readily in future, at least as a first response to his problems. One could get a reputation for that sort of thing. Still, it had worked this time, more or less, and the nobleman was just about intact at the end of it.

    “Hail, noble sir!” he just about managed to croak out with a lungful of sooty air. “and, I suppose, well met!” That was the sort of thing the aristos said to each other, wasn’t it? Mardonius had always found dealing with the upper orders a trial. He was of middling stock himself and carried his class’s usual awkward feelings of disdain for the toffs’ friviolous lifestyle and inadequacy in the face of their social prestige. If he had known that the man before him was only dressed as a nobleman he would have cursed himself for allowing his pretensions to court the rich and influential to slip out. But Mardonius didn’t know – all his prior dealings with men of that sort had been conducted through facilitators, even when they had sorely needed his skills.

    “Allow me to introduce myself. Mardonius Calderon of the Order of the Crucible. Formerly of the Order, anyway. I’m something of an independent operator these days. You’re probably wondering what brings an alchemist like me abroad on a horrendous night like this. Well, let’s just say I’m on a little research trip. I seem to have wandered far from civilised parts and ended up tramping round these gods-forsaken woods alone. There’s something very strange going on here, something almost alive and sentient calling out to me. I want to know what it is. Perhaps you too have felt it? Perhaps it has drawn you away from your entourage or your hunting party?

    In any case, these woods are crawling with mad fishermen as well as those harpies that were trying to make you their lunch. It is not safe for us to linger – they may come back. Do you know of anywhere we can shelter until sunrise, or a road back to less dangerous parts?”

    He rummaged in his coat pockets again, alighting on a small ceramic medicine jar, and offered it over: “ointment for your wounds sir?”

  19. Joe K says

    Narcisse shook himself off, his ears still ringing with the explosion and his muscles rubbery from the escape. He nodded to Mardonius — noble sir? — he didn’t quite have time to process what it meant.
    “Well met, I am Narcisse of Ville d’Espoir. Th-thank you for your help. I suppose I owe you my life.”
    He glanced around, the woods seeming unfamiliar, despite being not so very far from home. Of course things looked quite different with the air choked with debris and smoke.
    “I feel something drawing me away as well — I would have suggested we return to my town, but I don’t know that it will let us retreat. Have you ever felt anything like this?”
    He gratefully accepted the ointment, though his wounds were so grimy with soot and mud, would they do much good?
    “If we could see where we were, I might be able to lead us to the trade route. I don’t know where we’re being led though. And what’s this about fishermen?”

  20. says

    Almost unconsciously they were both walking again in the same direction, like Mardonius’s mention of it gave their feet license to resume course. They could both tell – it wouldn’t be long now. Not much time for conversation before they reached the source. What would it be?

    (maybe one more round of convo here, then BOOYA.)

  21. cartomancer says

    “Yes M’Lord”, said Mardonius, “I had a run-in not half an hour ago with a very rough bunch. Sad really – the poor wretches were so maddened by hunger and the malevolent atmosphere of this place that they were more ghoul than man. I think I lost them with a smoke bomb, but we had best look out for concealed net traps while we linger in these parts.

    Tell me, M’Lord, if it is not a secret, what is the story behind that unusual bell you are carrying. Is it a family heirloom? A relic from some saint or ancestor? Does it have magical properties, or some kind of legend attached to it?”

  22. Joe K says

    “Ah it’s a– it’s a weapon,” Narcisse said, raising the heavy thing to show the razored edge. “Part of the old cathedral before they tore it down. Supposed to have some holy property… I haven’t gotten a chance to use it much though.” It clanged dully as he walked. “Good and heavy at least.”

  23. says

    The sheet lightning rolled through the clearing ahead, temporarily blinding the travelers. When they regained their vision it was in time to see a stone table ahead, moistened with rain. A person standing on it turned to face them. Another ribbon of lightning higher in the trees illuminated their form dramatically, then subsided.

    The person crouched in an awkward squat in order to be closer to their level, but did not step down from the table. They wore cheap leather armor, and were so completely bald as to seem they never grew hair in the first place. They had a slight beak to the nose and subtle makeup of the lips and eyelines. They waved the travelers closer and spoke with a masculine voice, smoky and mirthful.

    “Ahh, the heroes have arrived. Dismal night for a quest, eh? Come, come closer.”

    Mardonius and Narcisse could tell this was the place that was drawing them in.

  24. cartomancer says

    “hero, eh? An edifying form of address, certainly, but you flatter without cause. I make no claim to heroism and never have.”

    Mardonius was a little bit surprised, to be honest. The clearing was appropriately dismal and otherworldly, almost druidic in its trappings, but what to make of the strange figure squatting on the stone slab? Leather armour suggested some kind of traveller or adventurer – too slight for military, too substantial for everyday folk, and the make-up suggested a streak of individualism that made it unlikely they were part of some official group. But that was just speculation. Clearly this individual was the source of the call, or at least heavily connected to it. He was very uneasy with the situation. Caution was called for.

    “I think I will remain at a distance, if you don’t mind. For the time being, anyway. You will, I hope, forgive my circumspection, but I’ve already been attacked twice this evening. Questions arise. I do rather like to know who and what I am dealing with before I agree to anything hasty, particularly in places of obvious power and danger like this.

    Do you have a name at all? In fact, who are you and what brings you here? Come to mention it, why did you bring us here, and how? Do you know who we are, or have you just been calling to anyone who will respond? You mention a quest – are you proposing one or commenting on our wanderings thus far? And why should we trust you?”

    He carefully rested his hand on the powder bag in his pocket, but tried to make no outward sign of hostility. He hoped that Narcisse hadn’t noticed him shuffling ever so slightly backwards, so that the other man would bear the brunt if there there was a sudden attack.

  25. Joe K says

    Narcisse gazed up at the mysterious person with guileless eyes. He had never seen this person in his life, why would they have summoned him here? He was so lost in the mystery that he didn’t notice Mardonius edging behind him.

  26. says

    “But you are heroes, or you wouldn’t have been called here. I can explain… At any rate, they call me Patches the Trusty. It’s only slightly in jest. I’m the first to admit I’m a bit sharp on a trade, but I keep to my word. It wasn’t I that summoned you I’m afraid. Come on then…” Patches sat down at last, at the edge of the table, one leg dangling and one folded up to their chest.

    “I was called by the same power as you lot, but alas, because I was the first to arrive, my role will not be that of a hero. I’m bound to that power to be its voice, to tell the heroes where to go. It will be easier to explain if you’re not so bashful. Have a look at these runes, eh?” They gestured to the surface of the stone table and a ripple of unnatural light danced across it.

  27. Joe K says

    Narcisse glanced nervously to Mardonius, then approached the table to have a look. A hero! Could he really be a hero? He didn’t feel very heroic, but why else would someone so humble as himself be summoned in this grand way?

  28. cartomancer says

    Mardonius narrowed his eyes. The place seemed a good deal less menacing now. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to show a bit of caution. Narcisse may have found himself enthralled by the label of hero, but Mardonius was quite a lot more cynical. In his experience the people society called that were generally anything but.

    “Very impressive runes you have there.” He said. And they were indeed impressive. His alchemically-heightened senses were buzzing with the sheer force of them, as if the surrounding stone were barely able to contain their presence. He edged ever so slightly forwards, but still left plenty of room in case things should turn nasty.

    “Are they also the work of this mysterious power of which you speak?”

  29. says

    Patches got back up into a crouch on top of the stone and crabwalked to the side, leaving the main run of the runes in plain sight for the heroes. They pointed to parts of it as they spoke. “Right then, here we are. These runes were made by servants of the power, to communicate his will. There’s a bit of a genesis myth here and here. He was born into a world of iniquity to cleanse it of sin, stripped of his blood here, yadda yadda…

    The important bit is that the implements of his exsanguination must be recovered so that he can regain the power to save our world from its own wickedness. Peace, love, that kind of thing. A god who can challenge the Horned Throne, eh? Why not?

    Of course you aren’t conscripts. You can take the implements and run. They will be powerful artifacts, and valuable. Only downside is that other heroes may someday come to collect them from you. Keeps life interesting. What do you say then? Quest for these items?”

    Could Mardonius read the runes? What does Narcisse think of questing? The world seems rather off today. Any questions about other mysteries?

  30. cartomancer says

    Mardonius squinted at the glowing shapes carved into the living stone. He recognised some of them, or so he thought. There was meaning there, but they were quite different from the alchemical symbols he was familiar with. Not so different that he could discern nothing, however. He cast his mind back to when he was an apprentice, and old Venkstrom had insisted he learn the futhorc alphabet of the Boreal Peoples. This wasn’t that, but it was related, he could tell. Boreal Futhorc was a syllabic system, so the simpler runes probably spelled out names. Redeemer-and-redeemed? The Horned King? The Cycle Renewed? Mardonius wished he had paid more attention to the ancient languages now. The really intricate runes were almost certainly pictograms, however. That scar-and-droplet one probably meant blood. The stylised sun disc perhaps power or light or divinity. And maybe the long thing with the splayed bits at the end was one of these “tools of exsanguination”? The story checked out.

    Hmm, the blood of a god? Was that literal, or symbolic in some way? He was more than familiar with the basic concordances of the elements and the humours that underpinned classical alchemical theory. The sanguinary humour, in its warmth and wetness, corresponded to elemental air. Perhaps this mystery could shed some light on the more esoteric aspects of that medium? Perhaps, if there was even a hint of truth here, secrets of metaphysics as yet unknown might be his to finally understand.

    “Tell me about these instruments then, and what significance they hold in the grand scheme of things. Are you saying that this avatar of a divinity must have its blood restored to return its powers, and the only way to achieve this is via the tools of its original unmaking? Or is that not how such things work? I notice you said “instruments” plural. How many of these things are there? Are they kept together, or separately? And who has them?

    I mean, I’m free for the foreseeable. I suppose restoring peace and harmony to the world will make a nice change from any other sort of employment I might consider.”

    Deep down, Mardonius wasn’t sure he believed such fanciful claims about fallen gods and putting the world to rights. Nevertheless, if even a fraction of this stuff had some validity to it, there were secrets here that might even have the Order begging to take him back in.

  31. Joe K says

    Narcisse gazed down at the runes, mind still swimming after all the rushing around and explosions.
    “Why us?” he asked. “Why were we summoned in particular?”

  32. says

    “He was incarnated in mortal flesh, quite unassuming. These are the tools that mortals used to kill that body. A scourge, a loop of thorns, a bag of nails, a cross, and a spear. Their power is obvious to the mystically inclined, so they’ve been snatched up by collectors of sorts – some human, some not so much. The one I’m most keen to see is the spear, of course. That sounds like a thing of beauty. I’ll let you know where to find them, you bring them back here. The power that drew you here in the first place will help guide you back.

    You might’ve noticed the world’s gone a bit funny on you since yesterday. You’re men apart. You’re different from other people, outsiders at heart. He can sense that. It gives you a connection to him, and he’s heightened that. Things’ll get back to normal for us all once the quest has ended.

    So what do you say? Try for the spear first?”

  33. cartomancer says

    A spear eh? Well, why not have a stab at that, thought Mardonius.

    Sounds more useful than a bag of nails anyway. Or at least more saleable. Though, judging by how these things tended to go, there would be mad cultists marching under the banner of the bag of nails before too long.

    “Well I’m game if you are, Narcisse.”

  34. Joe K says

    “Outsiders, hm…” Narcisse mumbled. “Very well, I’ll do it. If the world’s gone funny, is there any hope of it returning to normal once we’ve done this?”

  35. says

    “Great, great! Heehee hoohoo haha…

    Oh yeah, the world is more funny right now for you and I. It’s more like, when it’s done, you’ll go back to the less funny side of the world, with all your little friends and neighbors, eh?

    Now then, if you want that spear, you’ll have to travel to Longine Keep. You get to the foothills south of Mount Syr, you can’t miss it – built into the face of the mountain itself. Not sure more particular where in the keep it is, but the master of the thing took to calling himself ‘The Centurion.’ Best him and the spear is yours! Or rather, this God’s, should you be so kind.”

    They gestured to the other end of the valley from where you both had entered. While its contents were as yet unknown to you, it was the opposite direction of cannibal fishermen and harpies. You’re both aware that in the non-funny world, that way lies open farmland rolling down to a small town hemmed in by dikes. Mount Syr would be across the Deep Sound in a rural area of the Kingdom of Nantian.

  36. cartomancer says

    “Mount Syr”, Mardonius mused, half out loud and half to himself. “That’s quite a trek.” He did a quick mental review to check whether he had made any powerful enemies in the Kingdom of Nantian, and, much to his surprise, concluded that he had not.

    “We’ll need to secure passage across the Deep Sound somehow. And then it’s quite a trip on from there, so we’ll need provisions for overland travel. Perhaps we can stock up when we leave the valley and reach the Lowlands. Food, tents, medicine reagents for my supply, that sort of thing. Do you have any contacts in this region, M’lord? Someone who could help us resupply. Or even provide somewhere for a good night’s rest? Maybe hook us up with a company of soldiers or something?”

    He remembered Patches too

    “Or you, our mysterious friend. Is there any assistance you can give beyond just directions? As the spokesperson for some transcendent deity surely there is some help you can give us on our way?”

  37. says

    (I know player 2 IRL and getting him to post was like pulling teeth. Too little attention span or interest, was doing it out of a sense of obligation. Is there no communication in this household? I don’t want that kind of favor because it’s ultimately a frustrating disappointment. Plus we never got a player three. C’est lavie.)

    As the last man standing, let’s say Mardonius got the prize. Although at some point, Patches did sneak up behind him and kick him off a precipice. You know how it goes. Nonetheless, he got all the items. Did he bring them back? If he gazed upon a resurrected Jesus and changed his mind, did he kill him again? Or did he just sell the relics and stroll into the sunset? Lay it on me, brother.

  38. cartomancer says

    Mardonius turned the sacred tools over in his hands once more. Since the resurrection ritual they had lost most of their unearthly glamour, but what was the point of a tool really, if not to be used? So the experiment had proved a success in the end. That was a novelty.

    The individual standing before him, sadly, did not have much by way of unearthly glamour to start with. He was a great disappointment really, given how much he had been hyped by those in the know along the way. That Centurion at Longine Keep had been practically apoplectic in his denunciations. What would he think if he could see this scraggly, shifty-eyed and entirely ordinary creature now?

    “So you are the avatar of the Divine Creator here on earth, right?” said Mardonius. “Or the Creator’s son? Or its projected spirit? Nobody here seems to have a good grasp on the specifics of all that.”

    The other man did not say anything. Mardonius wondered if he even spoke the same language. He was just about to try communicating in one of the other tongues he knew, when the man made a slight murmur.

    “Dunno really. I’m just some guy caught up in the middle of all this. It’s just as confusing for me as it is for you.”

    Mardonius should have been taken aback, but, strangely, this all made perfect sense.

    “Do you have grand thaumaturgical powers then? Or secret wisdom to lead the sentient peoples of the world into a golden age of peace and prosperity? Does this creator god speak to you in dreams?

    The other man shrugged.

    “No, none of that really. I’m just an ordinary person trying to get by down here. I lived in these parts for about thirty years before these weirdos in armour came and tortured me to death. Started my own carpentry business, went out drinking with a dozen mates, ordinary human kinds of things. Then my bastard ex-boyfriend Judas turned on me, I got murdered, and things got a bit vague for a few thousand years. Now, turns out, I’m back. I suppose I ought to thank you. Do you need any display cabinets made?”

    “I could probably do with a few new lab benches” said Mardonius. It was refreshing to deal with people who didn’t think of rewards in terms of mystic secrets and temporal power all the time.

    “I think I’ve figured it out” said the carpenter. “This god, the one who created me and put me down here on earth… it was feeling a bit surplus to requirements. Took a look at human society after millions of years of growth and evolution, saw that something big had happened, and all without the slightest input from creatures like it. Decided to see what all the fuss was about and had a go at making a human itself. That would be me. Seems it got the recipe right too – even down to the weak knees and occasional bouts of indigestion.”

    “And all this redemption and moral renewal and remaking the world for good business?” said Mardonius

    “You know what gods are like. Deeply insecure, figure that they have to meddle. I think the god had the idea that I would be an icon for the regular humans, all because I was made by its hand, not the usual way. But once I was here… well, it didn’t have the first clue what redemption and moral renewal would look like. I remember when I was in my early 20s. There were distinct feelings of unease from above. As if it wanted to enact some kind of big plan now I had come of age, but it just didn’t know where to start. Morality and society are complex things. Turns out the gods are no better than we are at figuring them out.”

    Mardonius considered this for a second. “And now? Clearly the god wanted you back in the picture after all this time. Do you think it has finally figured out what it wants to do with the world?”

    “I don’t think it has really. I certainly haven’t been let in on any great plan for remaking reality. I think it has decided that we’re responsible for doing that ourselves, and we can do the hard work of coming up with the good ideas. It was never very good at that. I don’t think any of the gods are, to be honest. Mostly they just try to claim our igood deas as their own.”

    “But why now? Why has it called on me and my erstwhile companions to cross continents, fight monsters and daemons, climb mountains, solve riddles and stop wars? All of that was to bring you back. If you’re not the key to some grand plan, what was the point of it all?”

    “I think the god just felt sorry for me. Wanted to give me a second chance, you know? It had gone to the trouble of creating a character and seeing how that character was doing in the world, I don’t think it was ready to move on and make another one. It wanted to keep my story going.”

    “Couldn’t it have just… I don’t know… brought you back?” exclaimed Mardonius, waving a hand for emphasis.

    “Well, maybe it could” said the other man, “but I get the feeling it had a taste for storytelling now. It wanted my return to be… interesting. Dramatic. Memorable. It had watched humans with their storytelling ways too much, and wanted to be a part of that. So it came up with a story for you, or anyone who would listen, and watched to see how it turned out.”

    “And now the story is over?” Mardonius asked.

    “I think so” said Jesus. “Your story, anyway. That part of it at least. I think it wants to watch mine again now.”

    “You’ve been renewed for another season?”

    “Yes. Yes I have. And, quite frankly, I don’t think I want this season to be a miserable tale of tragedy, betrayal and cosmic horror like last time. I think I’ll do this one as a romantic comedy instead”.

    “Not exactly the norm for religious myth, eh?”

    “Well if the god doesn’t like it then it can go and watch something else. Though I think it will. It doesn’t have much of a frame of reference for narratives. It seems to just be content to go along with whatever happens in front of it.”

    “Maybe steer clear of that Judas fellow and people like him this time, eh?”

    “I’ve always had terrible taste in men.”

    “Lose the beard and get a haircut maybe? It makes you look like a sucker for his type. Not that I’m exactly the person to go to for fashion and relationship advice. I just mix stuff up in beakers and run around doing quests for suspicious powers beyond my ken. I’m sure you’ll do fine whatever happens.”

    Jesus thanked Mardonius and wandered off down the valley to resume his life in the world. Mardonius watched the rays of the setting sun for a while, then started strolling in the opposite direction. Perhaps the tools would fetch a modest price at auction? He had acquired a small fortune in trinkets and gewgaws from the last years of adventuring, and he felt that a quiet few months tinkering in his lab would be just the thing after all that trial and hardship. But first a good meal was in order. He could murder some buttered toast right now.

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