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Thread LXXVII:
Still a wee bit under the weather, but hopefully due to get some employment.

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Lamia%20Legacy%20Quest
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LamiaLegacy
Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQmQwKEEOM
Story Thus Far: http://pastebin.com/MTh1RQiP
Season: Early Spring

Money: 975
New Backpack - (Sealed)
Kozak Bladesx2
Repeater - Unupgraded

Sasha: Skill list
Ranching +4
Scholar +3
Marksmanship +6
Natural Ability (Lamia) +3
Intrigue +4
Casting (Draconic+4 Roc+3 Leviathan+3 Troll+1 Elemental+1)
Falconry +1

The thaw cam earlier this year than you'd remembered it. Less than a week had passed since the battle between the Bralin and the Krasick when the telltale spittle of spring rains had started. The deluge that followed was everything you remembered spring to be, damp, cold, but welcome promise of change from the world of white you'd been in for months now.

The river, acting as a drain for the entire valley, rose several feet in a single night, the waters turning muddy as it carried months of rain and snow towards the sea. You were concerned that the river might take your bridge with it, but it's held so far. James' crew have nonetheless been watching it with great interest, and have set up a vast webbing of rope in the hopes of snaring any errant boulders or trees before they serve as battering rams. Nevertheless they've sent survey teams upriver in the hopes of finding problems before they build momentum.

The ranch, and the help, have had all eyes on the cattle, given the calving season is near upon you. Normally, the onset of the spring floods leaves you with at least part of the herd stranded on either side of the river the bridge gives you a new option, cordoning off pregnant cattle on one side of the river. Under the tutelage of Tai, Zhou's beastfolk prove themselves capable herders, and manage to drive the skittish animals over the bridge. As far as you're told, the beastfolk still in Phoenix lands are largely shepherds when they aren't being conscripted as mercenary cannon fodder. The three youth's of Zhou's band have taken up their own watch, guarding the henhouse other small livestock with zeal.

Marie, grounded due to the rains, has sought other diversions and has attacked her language program with gusto. Tatiana has gotten to the point where she can hold simple conversations in your language. Artyom, not so much. Nevertheless, she's expanded her language crusade to taking over Tai's work with the beastmen with not insignificant help from Liama and her shadows, a reassuring olive branch that was offered, and very obviously a way for Liama and the shadows to kill their boredom of guarding someone who's at relative peace, for the moment.

It's early morning, and you've grabbed a steaming bowl of porridge from Tai's kitchen before retreating into your fathers office. You sit in silence, listening to the crackle of the fire as you plan your day.

How is our captive doing? Have we done anything about getting the Nitor to foot the bill for getting us some more reliable rifles for our men?
Finishing your food, you set the bowl aside and look down at the letter you got from the Nitor branch command. While thankful for your help dealing with the Kingfisher's men, they apparently lack the authority to arm a fighting force that's not under their remit, even a baker's dozen of bestfolk expatriates. Captain Keel had warned you that it would probably turn out this way, but you'd still hoped you wouldn't have to foot the bill yourself. Even so, the Nitor'd graciously offered to send a few more patrols in and around the trade route. Keel himself had a few words with you when you first got back, and after a thorough retelling of what you had learned had agreed to second a squad or two of his men once you had acquired some 'actionable intelligence' from your captive. "After all, it is in the United Free Kingdom's best interest to avoid any unecessary hostilities." He'd said.

No matter, until your 'prisoner' is healed enough to talk there's not much to learn on what is happening beyond the mountain. A more model captive you couldn't have asked for, even with two beastfolk guarding him, the centaur hadn't made a single move to remove the blindfold. The cheek had healed nicely, and he'd probably be able to talk if it weren't for Tatiana being insistant on properly setting the loosened teeth she had managed to save. Just as well, your first interrogation attempt had resulted in him launching an oversized molar toward you when he had tried to mumble out his name. You'd backed off as Tatiana fussed around resetting the errant tooth.

Looking at the nitor letter once more, you hazard the idea of asking the Nitor about the lagoon you've still got a gateway to in your backyard, and if it'll be be up for auction anytime soon, but you figure to let it rest. At least until you talk to Keel, no sense badgering the Nitor high command until anymore for the time being. No sense in annoying them overmuch.

Heading downstairs, you relieve Tai of dishwashing duty and watch him sprint to go help with rest of the hands watch the cattle. From here you can just barely see at edge of the compound, examining the cattle the three beastfolk who had pulled herd duty were moving his way. Beyond that, invisible in the light drizzling rain is the construction crew, likely working to protect the bridge and road they had spent so much time building.

From the bunkhouse you see Tatiana step out and exchange a few words with Artyom, who's been waiting near the entrance for the merest hint of any wrongdoing on the part of your prisoner. His deference to her now seems justified, and while you can't see it, the royal features must be awfully pronounced if a Hussar that far north from the capital was easily able to identify a 'princess'.

>is healed enough to talk
Can he wright? If he never sees Tatiana then it's fine, right?
He is literate, yeah, but your grasp on Casimiran Rune script is... rough... to say the least, so you'd have to use an intermediary like Artyom or Tatiana.
I'd say use Artyom.
Though, I intend to let Artyom kill him after he talks unless he somehow swears loyalty to me and Artyom is okay with it, so Tatiana would probably be fine too.
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It's still early, and the weather is filthy, but you run upstairs and grab a charcoal pen and a pad of paper and tuck them under the your hard wearing leather overcoat and scuttle out across the compound towards the refurbished bunkhouse. Seeing you approach, Artyom steps off to the side respectfully, following you in as you beckon. Safely out of the rain, you shake what mud you can off and head to the prisoners room.

Inside you see Tatiana tending to the wounded centaur with the pair of beastmen flanking him, replacing the herbal packing she's had him stuff in his mouth for the last week or so. Hearing you enter, she approaches.

"Something you needed?" she says in your language, terse and stilted,

You produce the pad and pencil, "He can't talk, I know, but he can at the very least write."

"Too early, medicine is... how you say, confusing." She huffs in frustration before slipping into a low whisper in Casimiran, [He is likely not entirely lucid. The poultice is helping manage pain, but it is a potent drug.]

[You seem awfully concerned about him.] You say.

[I'm not one to let any die lest I can help it. Would be remiss of me not to abide by what I learned. Besides, he's been a most cooperative patient. Moreso than my previous one.] She says, shooting a pointed look at Artyom.

[He's also your enemy. Krasick claims to have exterminated your line, remember?]

She's about to say something, but huffs once more and leaves, slamming the door behind her.

Carefully you approach the bound prisoner who cocks his head towards the sound of your slithering. Nodding to the guards, you undo his wrist bindings, and while he's amidst rubbing feeling back into his hands, you shove the pad and paper into them.

[Can you write?] You ask. A nod.

[While blindfolded?] A grimace, followed by a wince as mouth muscles move when they shouldn't.

>What do you wish to ask? (Specify multiple if you wish.)
>Remove blindfold? Y/N
Are we in the room alone with the prisoner, or is anyone else in here with us?
In the room at the moment are Artyom, two Beastmen guards making sure he didn't take off the blindfold, and yourself at the moment. There are windows however.
Are there blinds or shudders? If yes, close them and take off the blindfold.
Write your answers to the questions I ask you.
(Make sure to let him finish writing out his answers.)
>Name, House, rank
Have Artyom translate if we can't figure it out.

(The name should be easy, as it's just the sounds and doesn't have any real meaning, but if we can speak as well as we do, then simply understanding the alphabet should be easy. Not that hard to do if it's not like moon runes. If they use a similar system as the Japanese or Chinese do, then we're fucked for reading their script for a while.)
Stay completely behind him the whole time.
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You move from window to window, drawing the drapes closed, gesturing to the beastmen to move the captive to the table in the center of the room. It seems once he's gotten the gist of their pulling, the centaur gets up of his own accord and lets himself be led to where you indicated. Lighting the lamp on the middle of the table, you position yourself behind him and motion for them to remove the blindfold.

With Artyom on the other side of the table, the first thing the captive centaur sees is the larger hussar's burned face staring down at him, and the harsh light reflecting off Artyom's breastplate. Rubbing his eyes, blinks a few times before attempting to look around, only to be stopped at a harsh command from Artyom.

[I am not going to bother with the pleasantries.] You say from behind him. [I'll ask questions, and you will write the answers on the paper. You understand?]

You watch him scribble something on the paper. Artyom peers over it. [He understands.]

[Who are you? I need your name, what house you belong to, and your rank.]

He pauses, seemingly fighting the urge to look back towards the voice coming from behind him, before going back to the paper. You see a series of intricate rune script letters being written on the page. You're about to say something when he finishes, setting the pencil down. Taking the sketchpad, Artyom looks at it for some time before saying aloud. [Vernon, House Dijkstra, standard bearer and bannerman to House Krasick.]

>What now?
Eyes on the paper.
Why is someone from House Dijkstra fighting in Krasick's battle-lines? (If we already know that they were close before scrap this question and go with the second.)
Why is Hose Krasick sending you to fight House Bralin?
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[Eyes on the paper.] You say quickly. He does so. [Why is someone from House Dijkstra fighting in Krasick's battle-lines?]

Artyom picks up the paper. [We are sworn to House Krasick.]

[Why is House Krasick sending you to fight House Bralin?]

More writing, [Bralin refuses to acknowledge Krasick's claim on the throne. Pacification orders. We are sworn, so we answer the call to arms.]

From Veles' primer on the Casmiran you know that there are many houses in the Casimiran lands, namely the Szlachta. Familial marriage contracts bind alliances between the houses. While you've never heard of this House Dijkstra, it is likely that such an obligation in place there.

You're about to ask another question when Artyom asks one of his own. [When did Krasick call your house to arms?]

You watch Artyom follow the words [After the announced their claim, so that would be after they became regicides then?] He says fiercely.

Vernon simply shrugs.

How many houses are sworn to Krasick as of now? Which ones?
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[How many houses are sworn to Krasick as of now? Which ones?]

He begins writing, and continues it for a good fifteen minutes. No flowery names like he did for his own house either, just quick and hard work. Upon finishing, Artyom reaffixes the blindfold to him and looks at paper, before walking out of the room, beckoning you to follow.

Exiting, you watch him hand the list to Tatiana, who's been waiting the other room. [These are the ones who follow your families killer. Purobka was not much on politicking, and I am a soldier. I know not these names.]

She looks through the list. [Most of the southern houses. A good number of the border holdings that probably got bought with promises of land from the kozaks. I don't see any of the houses that made up my Father's crownlands however. Though some of the names that are not here are telling. Who is the prisoner, anyway?] She says.

[Vernon of Dijkstra.] You say, [I'm not familiar with your houses, so I have no notion of who that might be.]

[Dijkstra, small holding, border village that acts as a trading post between Krasick and the Kozak's beyond. I recall their head of household being named Vernon, or something of that sort. He might be the head of household. Reputation as a fairly agreeable and valorous individual if so.]

You look at her, puzzled, [You remember all that?]

[Never paid to not go through learning who vassals are.] The heir apparent says, [Though I must admit I didn't pay much attenton to politics of the realm, being far from the throne as I was. The Vernon of Dijsktra I heard of must have been of some import if I were to hear of him.]

Gonna pause for the night here, will pick up tomorrow, early I hope.
Okay Chem. I'll go ahead and post my reply now, though. 'Night.

Before we assume that they are the same, we should make certain.
After we are sure, the next thing we need to confirm is how many houses have been exterminated. Whether whole-sale, or just enough to make them not be a problem for a while. After that, any additional information on the Kozaks and how their civil war is going. . .
Do either of you have any particular questions that you want to ask that I haven't thought of?
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[Before we assume that they are the same, we should make certain.]

[Oh I believe it is fairly certain. Dijkstra is a sworn vassal of Krasick, if they were on campaign they would assuredly raise their levies, Dijkstra included.] Tatiana says, fiddling with an assortment of herbs she had laid out earlier.

You frown, [Strange for someone purportedly so noble to be working with the likes of Krasick.]

She looks up at you, [As I continue to tell Artyom, it is highly unlikely that the entirety of House Krasick are all scheming bastards. Their head, for sure, but once upon a time Lord Krasick's grandsire was a famed herbalist and naturalist, learned most of what I know from his notes. He also spent a great deal studying the bees his son made their fortune with. That same son spent that same fortune on campaigns, reclaiming land considered firmly bandyta territory. Many of their vassal families owe their fortunes to the holdfasts the Krasicks founded, including Dijkstra. A good third of the land they had last seized was handed over to the Kozaks when my father renewed the contract and married my mother, the Ataman's sister. Late lord Krasick handed it over willingly, but I can imagine it not sitting well with his heirs or another member of the family.]

[I thought you said you didn't pay much attention to politics.] You say, somewhat taken aback.

[I didn't, but I did listen to my uncles tales of history when I was with the Kozaks. Why House Krasick are doing what they are doing remains a mystery, but one can make some reasonable guesses. That aside, we are getting off topic, my point is there are likely as many honorable houses sworn to Krasick as there are rogues.]

[If the Krasick didn't exterminate half of them, as they apparently did to Sigismund and his family.] Artyom says sullenly.

Tatiana interjects, [Well we already know that to be untrue, they can't have exterminated the line for I am here. Bralin is a very long ways from the capital, stories do tend to exagerate the further you get.]

[They did destroy Purobka though.] He says, which causes her to quiet.

Defusing the situation you direct Artyom back into the room before turning back to the princess-in-exile. [Was there anything specific you wanted to ask?]

[At this stage in his recovery? No. I doubt anything of merit would come of him, putting words to paper gives time to prevent slips of the tongue. Besides, he is clever, I think he already deduced that he is in custody of Kutkhs just by the sound of your movement alone. Footsteps are telling, and a two legged or no legged Casmirian will not live for long.]

With that in mind, you leave Tatiana to her business and re-enter the room. Artyom has positioned himself such that the prisoner is facing him, and away from the door, the blindfold is off and the burned hussar is giving the other one hell of a mean mugging.

>Leave him for now.
>Question him more. (Specify any additional questions.)
Two more questions and then we'll leave you to continue your recovery.
First: How many houses have been exterminated, if any, who?
Second: Who do you think is winning this war at the moment?
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[Two more questions and then we'll leave you to continue your recovery.] You say, and the impassive prisoner gives a nod.

[How many houses have been exterminated, if any, who?]

Once he's finished Artyom takes the paper, reads it, and clenches his fist in anger. [He says that Purobka is the only one he knows about, and he only knows of it from me, to which, he offers his condolences.] He says through gritted teeth.

[Alright, and in your opinion, who is winning the war at the moment?] You say as Artyom returns the pad on the desk, picking it up once the prisoner has finished his testimony.

[Krasick is deadlocked with those that reject its claim. The north would not see them hold the throne, and there are economic rivals to be dealt with. Not to mention allies in name only that may turn at a notice. As for who has the upper hand? He can not say.] Artyom says, reading off the paper.

Thanking the prisoner for his time, you have them reaffix his blindfold and move him back to the corner he was in to begin with. You leave him in the capable hands of Tatiana who reenters the room upon seeing Artyom storm out. You linger in the common room of the bunkhouse a bit, gathering your thoughts on what you want to do next before you jump out into the rain again.

Record the list of House names into >common< for later, if McCain isn't busy tell him about what we've learned, and then (if there is nothing else that comes up or requires our attention) head to Veles' for some more Magic training, maybe play with Daisy.
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You call Tatiana over and show her the slip, [This is a list of everyone our 'guest' says is working with Krasick, do you think you could translate the names into my language? If only so I'll have an ease of reference.]

She nods, taking the parchment. [Just as well I learn the names as well. I doubt they all had a hand in Krasick's plot, but it would be good to know who they are. Mayhaps the names will remind me of somthing.]

Thanking her, you head outside and catch sight of McCain standing next to the cattle enclosure. Figuring there's a lull in the cattle activity, you beckon him over towards the house. Dispensing of the usual pleasantries, you let him know what you've learned from the so-called Vernon of Krasick.

He lets out a low whistle, "Land claims? Fuedal contracts? Seems a right bit over my head in all honesty. Doubt their system mirrors what we have in the United Free Kingdoms, but the gist of it seems similar to the older nonsense. Well out of my league. Though if there's one thing that'd touch off a war, land claims would do it."

"That's my figuring as well." you respond. "Tatiana seems to have a grasp on it, though how much her stoicism is natural and how much is her not wanting to consider her family being dead remains to be seen."

"She's pretty unreadable, that one." McCain says, crossing his arms. "Though she seems fairly straightforward."

"You got any suggestions?"

"Prolly best to get a group over there when the weather clears up. Stake out some claims, might have mercenary work available. S'much do I hate to admit it, we'll have to get stuck in to resolve it one way or another."

"That's what I was worried about as well." You say, "I'm going to have a chat with Veles. Might need to learn more from him if fightings our only recourse."

Leaving him, you head back to the gateway near the tree behind the house. Opening it, you scamper through and shake off the water as best you can. Looking into the rookery, you can see your falcon Daisy, resting on her perch, beyond you can hear sounds from the main cavern. Veles must be working on something again.

>Work with Daisy.
>Work on magic with Veles. (Specify)
Hmm, it's still raining, so it's not really a good time for that. I suppose we'll work with her once it stops. Let's work on more Magic. Let's work on our pyromancy some more, see if we can't figure out something OTHER than flamethrower.
(Fireball would be nice. . .)
First, tell Veles what we learned too.
Alright, to expedite things, I'm gonna need a 1d20+4 roll.
Rolled 13 + 4 (1d20 + 4)

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You opt to leave working with Daisy for another, dryer, day and head down to Veles' lair. Inside you catch the sight of the old snake taking a fleshing knife to a hide, spread taut on a wooden rack. Seems he's stripping the last bits of meat off the skin. In the corner, you can see Dahz patiently waiting as Veles removes a particularly fleshy bit from the hide. "Hey, you busy?" You ask quietly finally dislodges the chunk of meat and tosses it to his dog.

The old snake pauses, "Oh, greetings Sasha. I did not hear you enter."

"Lies, I saw you tense up when I entered the room." You say, laughing.

"Be that as it may, I would do well fashion a better method of detecting visitors. Did something in particular bring you here today?"

"Nothing particularly urgent." You say, stretching. "Figured I may as well brush up on my magic, burning things up close is all well and good, but I'd rather burn from afar."

"So you wish to learn the arts of our forbearers, the draconic school? That, I am well equipped to teach. Though not in here." He says, setting the knife down and picking up his catalyst blade. "Follow me."

You follow the old snake back up through the rookery and into the gateway room. He heads up to the second level and you see him beging to channel something. Tendrils of frost begin to snake out from his blade and out the opening into the rain. Heedless of the moisture, the ice spreads further and you see it begining to form various shapes along the ridge on the mountain.

"As I have said before, our magic works best as a manifestation of our will. Visualize how you want these ice targets destroyed and then attempt to do so."


Figuring you had best play to your strengths, you move to the landing and look to each target. The closer ones you are able to hit with a projection of fire, but for the further ones you can't quite reach before the drizzle sputters and chokes your flame. Thinking on it, visualize a ball of flame, contained and produced it with a flourish. You then make a show of throwing the flame at the further targets. It sputters and sizzles against the rain, but carries on, half flying half floating until it hits the target. The conflaguration consumes it, and the next one over. You smile with satisfaction as Veles looks over your handiwork.

"Not quite, how I would have done it, but without a catalyst, I would say it is a goodly effort." He says, nodding appreciatively.

>How would you have done it?
>Keep training, make small talk while you do so.
Rolled 13 + 4 (1d20 + 4)

>How would you have done it?
>Keep training.
(Going ahead and rolling for training)
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"How would you have done it?" You ask, slithering aside to give Veles room.

"Like this." He says, raising the blade one more and pointing it at one of the furthest targets. You watch as a beam of light, or rather, a jet of fire emits from the tip of the blade, piercing through the furthest statue at witch it points. First it just seems to have penetrated, but then you see something blossom within the target, and it shatters outward, blowing itself apart.

"There is no need for theatrics when it comes to our magic. It may help you visualize, but it ultimately superflous, and dangerous if you become reliant on it. If you must do show, do it in the spell itself." He says, pointing the blade at yet another target. You cover your eyes as a brillaint ball of fire emits from the tip, taking on the head of some sort of beast, the roar of the flame giving it voice. The flaming head approaches the target, biting down as flames engulf the surroundings. You look back at Veles, still standing impassively, pointing the blade. "Need I continue?"

"No, I think I got the gist of what you are trying to say." You sigh, waiting for Veles to recreate the targets.
This time you focus on just the fireballs themselves. Without a catalyst, you manage roughly five of the them before you're spent. As you rest, you tell Veles about what you learned from your prisoner.

"So you believe Krasick's aggression is a purely territorial one?" Veles says, recreating the targets once again.

"Tatiana seems to think so, but I'm guessing by the look on your face you don't agree?"

"Their claim on lands would be a valid Casus Belli, for sure, but it does not account for what we've seen. Not entirely. For example, if they wished to expand, why raze Purobka? And the advisor of Purobka, what's become of them?" He asks.

"I don't know." You admit.

"Curiouser and curiouser." He says, scratching his chin.

You spend the better part of the morning like that, letting Veles recreate his icy targets and blowing them to smithereens. You also confirm that you can manage about five of them before exhaustion sets in, though given how drained you feel you wager three would be safer in a running battle. It nears lunch by the time Veles excuses himself from the target practice, stating that he wants to tan that hide he was cleaning, or at least start it. He left an open invitation for you to watch, but he'd rather you didn't fling fireballs inside his house.

>What now?
Thank him for his help and head back for lunch.

From what I can tell, he's doing more of a "Scorching Ray" than the magical fire-bomb that I was looking for. Scorching Ray is still very useful in it's own ways, though.
I think we may want to find a bayonet for our rifle to use as a focus.
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Feeling hunger fighting with fatigue, you bid the Veles farewell and open up the gateway back to the house. The rain has diminished some by midday, but still makes its presence known. You slog your way to the kitchen just in time to get in the queue for Tai's latest meal. You watch the phoenix man open up the oven and produce several large dough turnovers, moving them into the pile with the rest. You're not one to say no to a good meal, so you wait your turn and take yours out onto the porch.

Halfway through the beef and potato pasty, you catch sight of one of the nitor patrols riding hard towards the camp. From the porch you see them reach the compound, dismount and make a beeline for Liama's encampment. From here you can just catch snatches of a hurried conversation before Liama tearing out of her tent heading towards you.

"Something the matter?" You ask, alarmed.

"I'll say, Nitor patrol says they found 'Two Hands' or at least what's left of him."


"Along the road to the mountain. In the woods a bit."

"Still alive?"

"Don't think so, they've got their third waiting near the body, just in case."

You look longingly at your meal, half eaten sitting in the parchment wrapper.

We can eat on the way. We need to investigate this. Wrap the food back up (mostly) and get moving. (I'm also pretty sure that we could probably down a whole stake in around two bites If we wanted to.)
Eat what we can on the way. Take our rifle, just in case.
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You grab a spare piece of parchment and bundle of the meal. "Go get our McCain, and tell him to get the wagon. Not gonna wade through the mud on the fakes account."

A short time later you and Liama are riding in the carriage, with McCain tending the reins, an intent expression on his face. Traveller and Greenbriar half roll, half drag the wagon through the mud of the main compound onto the trestle bridge. Thankfully, the new road bears the weather far better and you roll along after the nitor officers. It's about two thirds of the way to the tunnel itself you see the third rider waiting. Pulling up, you disembark as the ranking nitor swings himself off his horse. "Caught sight of somethin' white and red on patrol, only really stood out since most of the snow round here's melted." He says, leading you into the underbrush.

Ducking under a branch, you finally find what he saw. Leaned up against the tree lay a corpse, the sightless eyes of the faux McCain staring straight ahead.. Good condition, though you can tell he's been dead some time.

McCain begins rifling through the body. "Wager he got knicked when he came through and sicced the phoenix on the ranch. Here, look. Cuts here and here. Stab wounds, partially healed. Prolly fled out into the woods." Fighting against the rigor mortis he raises the corpses left hand. "Prolly would have made it, but seems he had a fall or two, dislocated fingers. How long he sat, here, no clue, though he looks thin. Either the cold or hunger got him."

He's interrupted by a tap on his shoulder from one of the Nitor soldiers. "Umm, I know this is well beyond a serviceman's pay, but we've got orders to let the Captain know if we find that particular McCain. Bodies not to be moved too much." You look at the two, and then over to the third who's mounting up and riding off, doubtless to report the development to Keel.

Rolled 14 (1d20)

Well, that's one less thing to worry about, if this isn't some kind of trick. Now, don't get me wrong. It's unlikely that this isn't the actual corpse, but something feels off.
>Perception roll
Take a look at those wounds. Stab wounds seem inconsistant with the fighting around our place. Should be gunshot wounds or something. If he had been stabbed, someone in his organization seems to be cleaning house.
You should make a Per roll too.
(Unless you think 14 is fine, at least.)
"Just wanna make sure he's dead." You say, bending low to look at the body. "Stab wounds seem evenly spaced apart."

"That wolf lookin' lass in Zhou's troupe had a pitchfork that day." McCain adds..

"That'd do it."

The body's remarkably well preserved, though the cold would do that. Grisly work, looking over the body, you've half a mind to rumamge through his clothes, see if there's any intel on the kingfisher, but the Nitor guys seem edgy. What strikes you as curious is the fact the coyotes hadn't gotten to the body. The damn buggers would have kicked up a hell of a storm if they'd stumbled across him if he'd sat long. You turn and look around at the area.

"Artyom and I went scouting around this area a while back, heard something but figured it nothing." You say.

"Think it was this bastard?" McCain asks.

"Might have been." You say, you're not sure how to feel about that.

Liama, shivering slightly in the dampness prods one of the Nitor cavalrymen. "When do you figure Keel'll show up?"

"Few hours, if he's not indisposed. Prolly will bring a wagon. We've been after this outlaw a long while." He responds.

Rolled 12 (1d20)

Voice our concerns about the fact that no coyotes haven't even touched the corpse, despite the fact that we KNOW that they're around the area. Look around the area some more.
See if there is any evidence of a camp nearby. This all seems far too convinient. Do we have any detection magic? This seems like a good setup for a magical trap.
I agree. Veles would be nice to have right now.
Alright, will roll that into the next update. Gonna pause here for now because it's gonna be a weekday and I'm crashing hard besides. As always thanks for participating, and I hope you guys enjoyed the thread so far.
Thanks for the thread so far, Canid. Sorry my participation has been so spotty, been trying to no avail to get out and shoot my fucking suppressor.
Alright. Thanks for running, as always. 'Night.

I wish I had money to get shit like suppressors, but I have no job. The most I could afford is a Mosin or a 10/22.
What's your AO?
Southern Indiana.
Ah, poo. Would have taken you out for a shoot were you around these parts.
Yeah. The worst part is that there's really no-where that I can go to shoot. I mean, I could ask my grandpa on my step-moms side to take me to the police range (He was a well respected police chief a long time ago, so they let him use the range if they aren't doing drills), but I don't really like to bother him. Especially due to the fact that I can't pay him for the ammo that I use.
>nowhere that I can go to shoot
-If I had any guns.
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"Something's not right. I know my woods, coyotes are a damned epidemic around here. Why haven't they touched the body?" You ask, looking around some more.

"It's been damned cold, maybe he got drifted over?" Liama suggest teeth chattering.

"Well, to ape a saying from my foreman. I don't like it, we should probably split up and see if there's a camp nearby. This thing reeks of a trap."

Leaving the nitor to guard the body, the three of your split off. Liama and you follow the treeline both ways, looking to see if anything catches your eye whereas McCain heads deeper into the woods. The search is to avail howeever, and the sounds of hoofbeats signals the arrival of Keel, with several more Nitor in tow. You make it back to the rest just in time to see Keel kneel near the body.

"Would have rather have taken him alive, though given his escape the last time, this is prolly for the best. Fitting too. Men have told me you sense a trap?" He aks, rising and dusting off his knee.

"Just wonderin' why the bodies in such good condition, been there weeks."

"Cold prolly had a part of it, but yeah now that you mention it its a bit odd." He says, turning his head towards a rustle in the underbrush. You follow his gaze to see your McCain step out.

"Ain't anything out in the woods other than trees and water." The thoroughly soaked former partisan huffs, "You find anything?"

"More of the same."


"Diddle for squat." You hear her call from down the lane. "Keel's men rode right past me, figured I'd ought to head back."

"Well, we can send of the schola, it'd be a while but I think Vanderbilt is doing some divining in the phoenix cavern. Hoping the residual magic from that machine's died off that we can get a sign of where they spirited off to."

>You do that.
>Could always go through the gateway.
>They could use the gateway.
However, It would be faster to get Veles down here. He's also a ''bit'' more experienced.
"Well, we could go through the gateway, still haven't sealed up that link. Could have him back here in a few." You suggest. "Though, I mean, we've got Veles just as far away. Doubt he'd object to checking it out for us."

Keel ponders it for a second, "True, he did do a good job with bypassing the barrier, though with brute force more that anything. If it is a trap, its likely one the phoenix concocted, or a bit of magic of his own."

McCain, surprisngly, agrees with Keel. "Bugger did have the same pact marks I had. If this bastard actually made the pact and not just tattoo'ed a copy, I'd imagine he'd be dabblin' in magic unfamiliar to your friend in the mountains."

"I don't think its anything he couldn't handle."

"You don't know curses out o' First Wood like I do." McCain says grimly.

"Well, any which way you put it, you're using the portal. So can we head back and get out of this rain?"

"Agreed." You say, feeling the rattling shiver of the cold setting in as well. Liama's bigger, but has been out in the nastiness a bit longer today. You watch as she almost zips inside the carriage, and you follow her, lighting the lamp on the inside, more for the heat for any light.

"Who you planning on going with?" She says once McCain finally gets the horses in motion.

>Work with the Schola
>Go get Veles
You think that the Schola would be a better choice, yeah? I'll trust you on this.
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"You think that the Schola would be a better choice, yeah? I'll trust you on this."

Liama yawns, "Mum said she tried very hard to make sure the schola were one of the best when it came to magic mysteries. Not sure if a corpse qualifies."


"Not particularly, just damned cold, was on last patrol with the shadows when the nitor came in. Didn't have time to dry off."

"Speaking of the shadows, how Marie and you lot getting on. I saw you working together."

She frowns, "I don't think Marie will ever forgive me for the 'injustice' she thinks my mother did. Though things have been, civil to say the least."

You ride in relative silence to the ranch. Upon arrival, Liama heads to her camp, probably to dry out. McCain, seemingly unaffected by his imposters death, goes back to the cattle pen to oversee his business some more. Keel, having left his entourage to watch the body, is the only one that follows you back to the gateway. Concentrating, you open it and let him step through first. Slithering in, you're greeted by the warm, if still damp, air of the psuedotropics. Following Keel through the cave, you emerge on the shores of the lagoon. You're struck on how much they've managed to clear from the wrecked Phoenix ship already. On the other side of the bank, you can see the Schola artificer, Vanderbuilt, messing with some... contraption. On approach, he holds up a finger to you two and begins cranking the handle on the device furiously.

"Seems he's a bit busy." Keel says leaning against a pile of scrap from the wreck and removing his cap.

>Watch Vanderbuilt work.
>Talk with Keel about the prospects on the cavern.
>Talk with Keel about the prospects on the cavern while watching Vamderbuilt
We can pay attention to both.
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Keeping your eyes on the artificier and his antics, you voice something that's been bugging you a while. "What're you gonna do with this once your done here?"

"This what?" You can almost hear Keel's eyebrow raised.

"This cove." You say, gesturing around as Vanderbuilt places the device on the ground. It begins whirring furiously and you watch as blue light shoots out. You watch as tendrils begin to spiderweb out following the ground as the artificer follows the main trunk.

"Prolly let it be. The 'owner' hasn't responded to any summons to explain how they'd let the phoenix the run of the place, and if what you mentioned last time you caught McCain is true, he's got his nose in more than a few things he shouldn't. It'll likely become state domain. Are you interested in it?"

You shrug, "Dunno yet."

"Well, it'd take some investment, but I wager it'd be a fairly safe harbor with time and, well a significant amount of work. Shame it's so damn deep in the swamp though, not like you can get from here to Riverport or Snake's Landing easily."

"And if I did want it?"

"Probably something you'd have to take up with Colonel Braun."

You nod, watching as the last of the blue light dims, and you see the artificer cursing to himself, marking the spot before retrieving his device. "Was there something you needed?" He says, walking towards you.

"Found the corpse of 'Two Hands'" Keel says quickly, "Reason to believe there is a booby trap of a magical nature. Would like the schola to have a look."

"Oh, what made you think that captain?"

You answer for him. "Body has been in the woods for at least a week with no sign of decay. Outside of wounds that had looked to be partially healed we can't determine cause of death. In the cold, the body would probably keep, but this area's prime coyote territory and they didn't get to him either."

"Curious. Well, until I get these damnable ley lines mapped for Val I can't go anywhere. Something's sapping the charge on the illuminator faster than I can build it up."

Any idea what's sappin' your sentrycharge? Ya think a spy is doing it?
"Any idea what's sappin' your charge?"

"No idea. Could be a massive ley line that got tapped, could be more sabatoge from the Kingfisher." He says, spinning the handle on the device once more.

"Well, what would you need to do to fix it?"

"Well, if its the former, a sufficiently large jolt of magic had ought to bank up enough to restore the line. Or we could wait for it to refill naturally, but that'd take years."

"And if its sabatoge?"

"Might be a trap to stop people from doing the former, covering their magical tracks. If that were the case, they'd prolly set it up so as to drain any person trying to fiddle with the line. Would need to overload it most likely."

"So your solution both ways is to hit it with magic as hard as you can?" Keel asks.

He sets the device down once more and activates it, covering the ground with blue light. "Yeah pretty much. Banking on it being the first, Illuminator gives off enough energy to trace the lines, and if I use it enough it had ought to refill. If not, well, same deal, just gotta do it faster. I hope."

"Doesn't seem very productive."

"Well, sadly, I'm not a massive font of magic and Val's reserves are being tapped trying to divine out the kingfisher another way, lest we get another source of magic, the illuminator's our best choice."

Do you think that I could help? If I can melt through solid rock with (mostly) normal fire and not really be tired, I can only assume that I've got a lot in my reserves.
Throw me a 1d20+1 roll if you would.
Rolled 19 + 1 (1d20 + 1)


"Well, I did bore in here, admittedly with the help of Veles. You want me to give it a go?"

He gives you an appraising look. "Well, I mean I guess. Though if it is a trap..."

"Brute force had ought to do you said, yeah? What's the harm in letting me give it a go?"

"Fine." He says, heading to a table and grabbing a long metal rod, which he inserts into a hole, drilled into the rock. "Try and channel into this conduit. If you feel it begin to drain you, let go immediately."

You take the metal in hand and begin to focus on it. No willing fire, just concentrating hard on the energy itself. You begin to feel a warmth, starting in the rod, then extending down it. You almost gasp in shock as you begin to feel the floor along the ley line from the inside. Behind you, you hear the whirring of the activated device, and see a the light begin to illuminate the ley line, pulsing a brighter blue in time with your heartbeat. Focusing harder, you will more energy into the line itself. Tendrils of light snake around the place, almost fully illuminating the entire cavern. The few nitor still working in here stop to watch the spectacle as you channel yet more energy into the rod.

Eventually the feeling of a dam bursting makes itself present, and you gasp as a flood of energy leaves you. Breathing heavily, you let go of the conduit. The light remains though, and you look back to see the illuminator feeding off the line itself.

"Well I'll be knackered." Vanderbuilt says. "Looks like it was drained, though by the looks of it I think you shaved a few years off its recharge time."

"Good." You say, panting heavily. "That solve your problem."

"Almost." He says, looking at the display of the line. "Something's not quite right."

You watch as he follows the projection. "What's not quite right?"

"The line's awry. Its current path, doesn't match the signs of where it used to be. As if... well as if something changed it." he says, ducking down into the tunnel where the kingfisher's goons had vanished. You make to lug yourself after him, but stumble as your fatigued body fights with its own coils.

Keel ducks underneath your arm and pulls you upright. "You alright?"

"Just a bit tired, that's all." Between the two of you, you manage to follow the artificer down into the tunnel, where he stands at the entrance, staring at something. The blue light runs along the floor before it splits, part moving to where the device they had was, and the other moving to the wall, where it moves up, fattening into an oval.

"Whatever the hell they used... it changed the ley lines. Moved them, physically. Whatever it is was horribly destructive, and it left and imprint of the portal."

"What's that mean?" You ask.

"Well, given time, we might be able to reconstruct it, and in doing so... follow where they went."
And that's it for this run I think. As always, thanks for participating, and I hope you enjoyed it. Cheers.
You think they see this happening too?

Thanks for running Chem. 'Night.
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Is the mountain range supposed to extend along the coastline?
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Yes. The mountains cut off most of the southern continent from where we are, and we have the only known rout through them on our property.
I'll make it a point to note that civ map mockup isn't to a uniform scale. The centaur lands are significantly larger, but it gets the gist across.

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