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“-take to the left! Do not fight her alone!”

Snow-covered branches zip by as forest grows denser, enough to hide you from sight. You manage some distance from your pursuers but your sprinting pace drops, and you find yourself spending precious moments leaning against a tree trunk and steadying your breath.

Three mercenaries. They recognised you despite the hooded cloak purchased days previous, and you had to sidestep the thrust of a dagger before bolting off into the then-sparse trees at the side of the road.

So far you have outrun them, but you don’t know how long you can keep doing so with pain searing through the side of your chest. Your wounds are still far from fully healed, and the footfalls coming from behind you signal that you don’t have time to wait for the pain to subside.

You turn as your first pursuer darts past your position, spinning to face you from a few paces away.

A girl in an outfit that is... well-suited for the weather. A large fur-lined coat hides her lithe physique, her ears are covered by a thick squarish hat that flattens her dark hair, and the lower half of her face buried in a gray scarf wrapped tightly around many times over.

Her skin, the little that shows, is dark, and held in gloved hands are a pair curved guardless daggers held underhanded and at the ready.

You place a hand on the black wooden scabbard at your hip and reach for the hilt of Myrril’s sword.


Your opponent is agile.

[ ] Stay evasive, land light blows.
[ ] Bait an attack and counter.
[ ] Find an opening for a decisive strike.

[ ] You refuse to hurt them.
[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade.
[ ] Holding back is a risk you won’t take.
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Previous: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=swordexile
>[ ] Find an opening for a decisive strike.
>[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade.

Killing them isn't our goal, but keeping then alive isn't either. They made that decision for themselves when they attacked us.
>[ ] Bait an attack and counter.
>[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade.

happy to see this running again, though i won't stay here for long (it's 1:14 am were I live)
>[ ] Bait an attack and counter.
We can't afford to play reactionary when there are others after us.

>[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade.
Though it would be nice if they didn't.
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(Have a good night, anon.)

] Bait an attack and counter.
[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade.
>[ ] Bait an attack and counter.
>[ ] You won’t stop someone from running into your blade
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This girl was the one who struck out while you were on the road. Her attack then was to make a light cut, which suggests her weapons are poisoned.

Whether that guess is right or not, if she was looking to kill you’d think she would have aimed for a more vital point. Their goal might be to subdue rather than that.

Myrril’s sword is shorter and straighter than your own, and its reverse is topped by a short false edge. You draw the weapon, holding it centered in front of you with both hands.

Your opponent shifts back but doesn’t react. She doesn’t need to; her two allies can’t be far behind, so you’re forced to make a move.

You close your eyes, shutting out the whistling wind, the chill.

A breath, a step forward.

A breath, another step.

Snow crunches beneath your feet. A stinging. Your focus wanes, but your eyes remain closed.

Another step.

Silence breaks. Back, then forward. Sweeping motions, a feint to one side, a dash to the right.

Metal clashes, bouncing off your parry. Her momentum is unabated, dashing past, twisting into a stab with her other dagger.

You spin, pivoting on your right foot. Her weapon parts the cloth of the front of your loose jacket by half an inch before you step out of the way, then slash with your sword through her wrist. Her eyes grow wide, blood traces the arc of your blade, and the girl in the winter coat drops her dagger.

The two of you are still close. You turn Myrril’s sword to the side then jab the pommel just above the girl’s stomach, and she crumbles to the ground with a breathless yelp.

Yelling and frantic steps, and you’re out of time. You sheathe your blade and circle around the prone girl, sprinting away again from her approaching allies and deeper into the forest.

It's not much more than a few minutes later when you stop again, panting and trying to ignore pain in your side.

You’ve reached a clearing and within is a settlement, too small to be called a village as just some thatched-roof homes and a larger sawmill. It’s still the afternoon, but you don’t see any people about.

You could consider it lucky if the settlement was abandoned. You don’t know how far your pursuers are, and a place to rest and hide would be very welcome now.

But you grow uneasy on your approach. There’s a stillness over the place, a strange and unnerving quiet. When you grow closer you think you see movements, but you can never place where they’re from.


[ ] Wonderful. You still need a place to hide.
[ ] Slow down. Try to see what you’re walking into.

[ ] Just find a wall to collapse against.
[ ] Get into one of the smaller homes.
[ ] Walk through the village, look around.
>[ ] Slow down. Try to see what you’re walking into.

>[ ] Walk through the village, look around.
At the very least, try to find a defensible position.
>[ ] Wonderful. You still need a place to hide.
>[ ] Get into one of the smaller homes.

Maybe a beast attacked the village? Seems like that's what's going on to me anyways.
(This quest is on a somewhat random update schedule, by the way.

I'll probably average 'bout 3 posts a day for the next few days.)
>[ ] Slow down. Try to see what you’re walking into.
>[ ] Walk through the village, look around.
This seems too good to be true, let's do some scouting first.
Heeyyy, I remember this from way back when. Unfortunately, I didn't participate in it but good to see this running again.

>>[ ] Slow down. Try to see what you’re walking into.
>>[ ] Walk through the village, look around.

As much as I'm worried about the mercenaries, they'll probably be held up trying to patch up their friend. We might have enough time.
[x] Slow down. Try to see what you’re walking into
[x] get into one of the smaller homes
You remain cautious, walking slowly towards the silent homes. There’s three built loosely side-by-side, facing a larger structure close to the sawmill on the further side of the settlement. You head through the space between two of the smaller houses.

The snow shows no footpaths or prints. The mill is by a flowing river that still spins its wheel and, save for your own ragged breathing, the distant sound of the turning, creaking wood is the only thing you can hear.

Again, subtle movements at the corners of your vision. Something you can’t quite track, though you think it came from one of the thatched-roof homes.

Something comes into sight when you step into the open center of the settlement, and immediately you wonder how you didn’t see it earlier. It’s in the open, but you have difficulty telling what it is.

You see a figure of vague and translucent dark, something that seems more a silhouette or shadow than anything solid.

It resembles a person only barely. The sight of it has no depth, no proper sense of dimension, and the best you can discern is a thin body, a sharp, snouted head, twig-like limbs, and hands with long nails or claws. It stands taller than you, swaying on the spot in an odd, jerky fashion.

The scene feels strange. Unnatural.

A movement to your left. Definitely from one of the homes, the one furthest from you.

Another movement. You are just in front of the other two thatch-roofed houses. You turn towards your right.

Behind a glass-less window in the house of wooden logs, in a room long left unlit, is another figure. It makes no noise, and unlike the other it isn’t moving. Instead both its thin hands are raised, seemingly with palms facing outwards.


[ ] Approach the thing in the middle of the settlement.
[ ] Enter the home to your right. Perhaps it doesn’t mind company.
[ ] Check the home to your left first. Hope it doesn’t have an... inhabitant.
>[ ] Approach the thing in the middle of the settlement.
We need to know right now whether we'll be dealing with more than just two enemies, so we can react accordingly.
>>[ ] Approach the thing in the middle of the settlement.
>[ ] Check the home to your left first. Hope it doesn’t have an... inhabitant.
>[ ] Approach the thing in the middle of the settlement.
>[ ] Approach the thing in the middle of the settlement.
If these things are dangerous it'd be best to confront the one out in the open so we have a better chance of running away.
You step back and lean against the house, trying to ignore the non-presence at the glass-less window.

The thing is just there, completely still.

What are you supposed to be doing?

You need a place to rest hide from the mercenaries. For now you have to hope that they’re slowed from having to help their ally, because you aren’t eager to enter this building.

You straighten and turn left to the second house. The door is unlocked, so you grab the handle and push it open.

Standing immediately in front of you is a silhouette, barely outlined in the darkness of the abandoned home. Its tall, thin form is as a statue, and if it had eyes you think it would be staring at you.

Instead you have the feeling of a gaze as intangible as the figure, a prickling down your neck that near makes you reach up to loosen your scarf.

You look into its translucent, featureless head.

Not empty, then. You pull the door closed with a soft thud, then return to your spot of wall at the first house.

You want to know if these... things, are dangerous, but they are not making the task easy. You are confident that the figure behind the window has not moved.

Sighing, you push yourself off the wall again and start towards the settlement’s center.

The figure there twitches at slow, random intervals. Like the others it does not react to you, but something does change as the distance shortens.

The afternoon light still passes through it, but somehow it seems more solid.

Something hangs in the air. An intangible thing that creeps as an undertone to the sound of the sawmill’s wheel, to the sound of silence.

Something most akin to an emotion, but alien. Something most akin to hostility.

Its twitching stops.


[ ] Keep moving closer.
[ ] Turn back to the first house with the figure by the window.
[ ] See if you can go around it, to the larger building and the sawmill.
>[ ] See if you can go around it, to the larger building and the sawmill.
>[ ] Keep moving closer.
It's a ghooooooooooost~
>[ ] Keep moving closer.
>[ ] Turn back to the first house with the figure by the window.
well its hostile.
>[ ] Keep moving closer.

Learn through experience and all that. We wanna know what's up with these things we gotta get up close and personal with one.
>[ ] See if you can go around it, to the larger building and the sawmill.
Try and do this where it can see you, maybe that'll help convince it we're not here to fight.
I'll back these. Adventure and such!
In the first place, you are only looking for a place to rest; you do not need to learn about these things. If you left it alone you could take a way around, or take a chance with a stiller one of its kind.

But you do not want to turn around uncertain. You take another step forward.

Then immediately flinch away from the figure’s screeching hiss. The piercing sound rings through the settlement, pounding at your skull, tearing away your sense of balance.

You stumble back and stare at the shuddering shape, watching as it jerks and spasms forward, reaching out with its spindly fingers.

There’s your confirmation, as well as your next problem. You did not consider what you were going to do if it came to this.

Did you plan on fighting it? Your pain has dulled compared to earlier, but still your body can take little more stress.

Whether sharpened steel would even work against the thing is another question.

You glance around rapidly, trying to keep the approaching figure in sight. You can barely keep your thoughts focused through the horrible noise.


[ ] Hit it with your sword.
[ ] Turn and run into one of the smaller homes.
[ ] Get around it, to the bigger home and sawmill.
>[ ] Get around it, to the bigger home and sawmill.
>[ ] Get around it, to the bigger home and sawmill.
>[ ] Hit it with your sword.

>[ ] if it looks like we hurt it then, get around it, to the bigger home and sawmill. Otherwise, flee the village.

Let's sort this out first. We want to know if we can actually hurt this thing. Oyherwise running into a confined space with a bunch of them after us will be the end of us.
The silhouette’s arm seems to elongate, stretching out. You jump out of the way as it claws down, its thorny fingers growing in size as it sweeps through where you stood. The hand makes shallow marks in the snow and continues through the earth, swinging down below the stumbling thing before shooting back up into its previous, smaller size.


You dash past, dropping down and tumbling as its other arm snaps up with unnatural speed and swipes above your head, running towards the sawmill behind it.

The noise drowns out your footsteps. You come to the larger building in front of the mill, finding its entrance, pushing it open, then spinning around to slam the wooden door shut.

The screeching stops. The cloud of hostility disappears.

That... was something.

The pain in your side has returned. You slump against the door and slide to the timber flooring, feeling like all energy has left you.

You look around, then promptly wish you didn’t. There is another figure here.

The building is one long room. There are windows but the sunlight is filtered by curtains. Across from the door, from where you are, is a translucent-black silhouette slumped in a dark corner.

This one is similar to the figures you saw in the first two houses. More transparent than the shuddering one outside, and completely still.

It moves when you finish that thought.

Only slightly. You could barely see it with how difficult it is to distinguish its features, but you think it raised its head.


[ ] Approach the figure in the corner.
[ ] No. You are not moving. The floor is comfortable.
[ ] A window faces the settlement. Shift a curtain, check outside.
>[ ] Approach the figure in the corner.
As non-confrontationally as possible.

Again, we need to know if this one will suddenly attack us.
>[ ] A window faces the settlement. Shift a curtain, check outside.

Sure, but it was approaching the last one that made it hostile.
Perhaps if we wave or try to greet it from where we are now?
>[ ] A window faces the settlement. Shift a curtain, check outside.
>[ ] Approach the figure in the corner.
>[ ] A window faces the settlement. Shift a curtain, check outside.
You take a moment before standing and checking the nearest window, pulling the curtain to look outside. The violent figure is near the house, shaking and swaying, but otherwise it and the rest of the settlement are exactly as things were when you arrived.

You have been here for a while and seen no sign of your pursuers, as if they have retreated to tend to their ally or simply decided to not continue chasing. The latter, if you had to guess; there would have to be rumours about a place like this, so you suspect they had previously heard how, well, haunted the settlement is.

Either way it seems you do not have an urgent time limit. You could run into the mercenaries again later, but that is a problem for then.

You leave the curtain covering the window and face the figure in the corner. You are only two paces away from it, as close as you were when the one outside became hostile.

It remains unmoving when you take a tentative step towards it.

“Greetings?” You say with a raised hand, to no reaction.

It finally moves again when you come closer and crouch down. From its slumped position in the corner the figure raises its right arm, smoothly and very, very slowly. The outline of its narrow limb is indistinct against the rest of its form, and you have to shift to the side to see what it is doing.

It points to the door.

Then it moves again to point to behind it and to your right, seemingly to a blank spot on the wall.

It lowers its arm, then reaches out again to point to you.

You try to focus on its barely visible finger, tracing a line from its tip. The figure is pointing to the left side of your waist, and you brush the scabbard of Myrril’s sword.

Its snouted head seems to sway. Its arm stretches and lengthen outward.

Despite how slow and gradual the change is, or perhaps due to such, your heartbeat seems to pause at its action. The figure’s finger passes your hand, and stops by your first blade.

Then it withdraws, and points to itself.


[ ] Try asking the figure something (what?)
[ ] Go to where it was pointing. The sawmill?
>[ ] Go to where it was pointing. The sawmill?
>[ ] Go to where it was pointing. The sawmill?
Can't quite puzzle out what it's trying to tell us. It wants our swords for something at the sawmill?
[ ] Go to where it was pointing. The sawmill?

Well, when in doubt...
It is jarring. From the two that simply stood, to one that acted with feral wrath, to this figure curled up in a lightless corner.

You cannot tell what it is trying to convey.

“Are you asking for my sword?”

It repeats an action. The figure’s arm extends, pointing, then withdraws. The finger turns to the figure, pointing at its chest.


You stand, shaking your head. “I apologise, but I do not understand.”

That might not be entirely true; you are starting to have an inkling of what its request is. The idea is not something you want to think on.

The arm lowers. You watch it for some time, but the figure remains motionless.

It pointed behind itself to an empty spot. You walk to the other end of the room, past a row of empty bed frames, and leave by a second door to find the sawmill not a dozen paces away.

That is where the figure was pointing to, you think. The mill has stairs as its entrance but when you get to their base you notice something to the side.

Partly hidden behind the mill is what looks like a transparent pile of gray substance, similar in appearance to the shadowed silhouettes. You realise that impression is more correct than you thought; it is one of them.

For this figure it is even more difficult to see where a features begins or ends. You approach cautiously, keeping distant and looking for anything that could shed light on what happened to it, what happened to the settlement.

You come to the side of the mill facing the river, and see something that manages to be more unsettling.

The best you can describe it is as a mass of thorned vines around a stump-like object.

The central pole roughly matches your height and appears organic, uneven yet smooth, as if grown into its shape of ebony-like make. Red ink marks its surface, an unrecognised script of edges and sharp angles patterned to some unknown logic.

The unsettling part is the vines. Thick ropes of the same blackened material, the brambles are covered in some viscous liquid. Each pointed thorn slowly drips the substance into the snow, forming a wide circle around the object tainted to the shade of tar.

> Observations, guesses, conclusions. What is going on? What are you supposed to do?

Nothing terrible will happen if you post something ‘wrong’. Random thoughts and incomplete theories are fine.
>[ ] Go to where it was pointing. The sawmill?
Is it asking us to kill it? Or saying we should have our sword ready for where we're going? Although I'm not sure why it singled out our original sword over Myrril's
the silhouettes are the souls/spirits of the people that lived here and are bound to the pole, which drains them of substance and uses it as a power source/to corrupt the area. Our sword is somehow special and able to kill the spirits/souls or able to break the ritual
This is pretty much what I was thinking. I also think the spirits are suffering and trying to die, somw by provoking violence and others by merely begging for it.
I seem to be getting that vibe too. Shades? Echoes, perhaps? Either way, they seem to want something from us but I'm not entirely sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Perhaps the totem pole is a repository for something? Someone?
I had a similar thought, though it's interesting to note that (with the exception of the last pile of substance in >>1393013), the figures seemed to retain more cognitive function the closer we approached the pole - the first two giving no response, the third responding with anger, and the fourth making a clear attempt at communication. I have to wonder that holds any significance.

If the pole and the vines are to be taken as separate entities, we may consider some separate possibilities: that the pole and vines are in opposition to one another - one having been there naturally, and the other having been placed there to disrupt the natural order and thus cause this situation; or, that one is the cause of the other - the pole perhaps condensing some kind of abstract spiritual matter into the blackened material the vines are composed of.

The possibility that the viscous liquid that covers the vines is yet another entity may complicate things further, but perhaps I am overthinking things.
No, no... Please keep thinking. I can't believe that I blew over the vines and the totem pole bit since literally...

>>The unsettling part is the vines. Thick ropes of the same blackened material, the brambles are covered in some viscous liquid. Each pointed thorn slowly drips the substance into the snow, forming a wide circle around the object tainted to the shade of tar.
As far as what we are supposed to do is concerned, the figure earlier seemed to be miming a slashing motion, implying that we are meant to be cutting something placed here. We can probably disregard the gray pile, which leaves the vines and/or the pole.

Given the symbolism of the things before us, and the fact that the figure seemed to indicate our sword would be sufficient (rather than, say, an ax), I would guess that we are intended to cut the vines away, thus freeing the pole, though I would hesitate to do so right now without further deliberation and investigation.

At the very least, the pole seems more natural, and is located within the vines, implying that it was there first. If anything is meant to be here, I imagine it should be the pole rather than the vines.

Could the vines simply be the same material as the viscous coating, but solidified?

Or possibly the vines are intercepting something meant for the pole, condensing it into liquid and preventing it from reaching its intended destination?

Or perhaps, given the emphasis on how the brambles are what's coated, the liquid is some sort of poison or other defensive mechanism to harm anything that would touch the vines and their thorns?

I'm honestly just blindly guessing at this point.

It would perhaps be good to get some clarification, with regards to the line
>The unsettling part is the vines. Thick ropes of the same blackened material,
what exactly the material is the 'same' as.
The entities are made of black stuff so probably that is what the 'same substance' is referring to.
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(Oh wow. I didn't expect so many responses. This is super cool to read.

I should probably be telling you guys that next update is tomorrow, so about 9 hours from now.)
You do not understand any of it.

The nature of the figures. What they are. Why one was driven mad. Why another seemed to ask for a blade in its chest. Why one lies as ethereal nothingness next to you.

The purpose of the object before you. What it is doing to the figures and the land around it.

Without anyone’s guidance, with little knowledge of spirits, magic, and things past mundane, it is all beyond you.

Why do you not walk away?

It might be curiosity. The desire to see the strange and wondrous corners of the world that you once held could be keeping you here, to see things to an end.

Or it might be simply because the shadowed figures were asking for help.

You are not sure how you saw them when you first arrived at the village. Something man-made, and not alive? A sort of animal or beast you haven’t seen before?

Your perception might have changed. You’re sure that is what it was, for the figure in the lightless corner, and perhaps the figure with raised hands behind the window.

A call for help.

You approach the object. The air grows more unpleasant with each step. The circle of tainted snow is wide, and squelches like mud under your boots.

Being close to the object is suffocating, as if it were the source of an invisible smog. The pole’s twisting script burns into your eyes, and each drip of the foul liquid carries a tangible weight that bears you down.

The figure in the corner gestured to your first blade.

... You may have an inkling of why.

You take hold of the hilt, pushing down memories bubbling to the surface, and draw your sword.

You still do not understand anything. All you have is conjecture and instinct.

Better than turning away, perhaps.

You point and lead the blade through a rising and falling slash, cutting through the brambles at the sides of the object. The foul substance oozes from each snaking tendril, globs of the liquid sizzling where they fall and burning small holes into the corrupted snow.

The thorned vines shudder, then fall away from the stump-like object they held.

It is difficult to tell, but there is a change. The red ink on the pole fades, and though the snow in the area is still a horrid shade the air seems somehow lighter.

What you did feels like a wild guess. You sheathe your blade and, with some trepidation, head around the larger building and back towards the middle of the settlement.

There you find a faded figure collapsed, with three others surrounding it like a cloud of smoke. Those three figures are crouched and reaching forward with their hands, tracing their thin fingers over the face of the fallen silhouette.

The incredibly bizarre sight continues for some time. Then they stop and move back, and in a slow, smooth motion the collapsed figure stands.

An empty pause, then the thin, snout-headed shadows turn. Two glide away, returning to the smaller homes, and two come to the larger building. One stops in front of you standing by its door. It reaches out to touch your cheek with three narrow fingers.

You stop yourself from closing your eyes and suppress a shudder. The figure withdraws slowly, then continues into the larger house.

An odd, but distinctly peaceful silence blankets the settlement.
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(Not quite done. Check back... after two hours?)
Interesting. Are these shadow people... just shadow people? Like they were never humans at all? Maybe they were always like this. Maybe someone saw them, grew scared and afraid, and then made that totem to bind the 'monsters'.
We didn't destroy the totem, though. We cut away the vines that were surrounding it.

Not to say that it necessarily isn't the totem that is making them docile, of course. But given that it was one of them who sent us to the sawmill in the first place, I doubt they are being bound, or at least bound forcibly or unwillingly.

I'm confused as to the significance of the vines being apparently made of the same substance as the people. Hopefully we'll get an explanation at the end of all this, out of character if nothing else.
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(I'm not sure how much man-behind-curtain I should do. It's fun to talk about how things were put together, but...

Well, I don't really mind. I'll have some answers at the end, and for anything else that pops up that wants clarifying.)
Your... adventure, of sorts, took very little time. You spend more in the house by the sawmill, sitting cross-legged against a wall and chewing through some of the travel rations in your backpack.

The two silhouettes stayed in the room the entire time. They make for unusual company, given that they do not move or make any sound.

At that point you were accustomed to their presence. You are not sure what that says about you as a person.

You are out before another bell passes, pulling up hood of your brown travelling cloak and following the river east. The settlement is near the edge of the forest, and much of it here was cut down to be turned into timber some long time ago.

In appearance there is nothing unusual, but leaving the settlement feels like entering another world. Or returning to one, rather.

Fittingly your thoughts turn to your previous problems. With only sparse trees and stumps, you travel across a landscape little better than an open plain in terms of cover.

But while you do meet someone as you continue your path, it is far from someone you expect.

It is someone you thought you had left behind.

Sitting on a stump, wearing a woolen gray hat and cloak, you first think him a traveler. On your approach you wonder how cautious you need to be, whether you can avoid the contact.

He notices you, and your breath catches.

A boy of fourteen. Round features in his youth, mousy hair and soft eyes both light brown.

You squeeze out the words.

“Ran. What are you doing here?”

The boy stands. A face normally meek, gentle, now holding a pained and sorrowful expression.

“I was looking for you.”

He walks forward. In one hand, a scabbard of a dark, undecorated timber.

“Or hunting you. I don’t know.”

Only one pace of distance. He draws his weapon.

A straight short sword. Thin, elegant. Forgekeeper make.

That blade. That blade is-

“One of my brother’s,” Randulf states. He holds it out with both hands.

“I’m here for him, Sieglind. For everyone who was lost that day.”

You need to say something.

You need to run.

You need to fight.

“Will you let me have my revenge?”


[ ] Draw your sword.
[ ] You can’t.

[ ] It’s cruel to say nothing.
[ ] It’s crueler still to speak.
>[ ] Draw your sword.
>[ ] "If you wish to have it, you must take it for yourself."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume we have much more experience than he does? We probably outclass him in terms of martial skill. It'd be better to just take him on and get it over with, because we can't go back.
>[ ] You can’t.

>[ ] It’s cruel to say nothing.
Cut us down or let us pass, he will find no revenge here. It is a poor excuse to hide his true emotions either way.
>[ ] Draw your sword.
>[ ] It’s crueler still to speak.
>[ ] Draw your sword.
>[ ] It’s cruel to say nothing.

Tell him we aren't going back.
>[ ] Draw your sword.
>[ ] It’s crueler still to speak.
He advances on those words.

You back out of the way of his first swing, pulling up Myrril’s blade to block his second.

“Why don’t you wield his sword?”

He is not strong. He attacks without technique or skill, just brandishing his weapon.

“Cut me down, like everyone else.”

You stagger with each parry.

“Mother, Father,

Cousin Sten, Aunt Brenna,

and Brother.”

You stumble from another blow, taking steps back.

“Fight, Sieglind.”

A pursuer. An obstacle. Wield your blade, make a way through.

Your hands do not move.

“How can I? How can I fight you, Ran?”

“Leave your guard, then. Let me take revenge.”

“I can’t.”

You stare back, gripping the hilt of Myrril’s blade enough to make your knuckles white.

Your journey is not yet done.

“I will keep going. I cannot fall here.”
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A pause. The tension in the quiet, mousy-haired boy seems to relax.

“You did change a lot. But I think you’re still you.”

He steps forward. “What happened on that day, almost two weeks ago?”

Blood. Something that should have been joyful, turned nightmare.

“Were you the one who killed them?”

You- “I was.”

Randulf sees your hesitation, and a quiet smile grows when he shakes his head. He brings up his scabbard to sheathe his weapon.

“I took his life, Ran.”

No matter the confusion that clouds that day, that fact will not change.

“I know.”

The younger boy stops in front of you.

Silent moments pass before he speaks.

“You know, Sieglind? I want to think that you’ll return.

I know you shouldn’t. I don’t know what the house would think, and what would happen to you if you did.

Even so I want to think that you will. I want to believe that one day you’ll reach the end, and when that happens you’ll come back.”

He looks up at you. Ran always seemed small even considering his youth. At your first meeting, and for a long while beyond, you would rarely find him not hiding behind his brother.

“Please stay alive, Sieglind.”

Your response is a quiet nod.

You barely know what you are looking for, but you don’t intend to die until you find it.

And after you do, perhaps fate would let you see home again.
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And that's the end to A Sword's Exile #2!

Usual stuff:
Previous threads here http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=swordexile
Announcements here https://twitter.com/boxofmithril

There's a bunch of stuff that wasn't explained because, you know, out of character, but I'll go ahead and clarify some things. If you have questions just throw them at me.

Anyway, thanks for showing up!
Thanks for the run! Again, very glad to see this up again.

Be seeing you next time.
I think we're all still somewhat confused over the whole deal with the village - what the reason behind everything was, what the significance behind all the things we saw (or didn't see) were, and what the expected (or at least intended) course of action was.

I'm assuming here that these things won't actually be important later on, but feel free not to talk about it if our lack of in-character understanding will be relevant later on, since knowing will certainly make it hard not to metagame a little.
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The thing about explaining this thread is that, while there's a bunch of stuff that were set so I could follow rules or logic when writing the settlement of shadowy stuff (so that it feels cohesive and not totally random), there were also many details that were totally up in the air.

Depending on what I'm doing with my plan, explaining stuff is a lot like looking behind a DM's screen or a magician explaining a trick. Disillusionment guaranteed, basically.


The silhouettes were originally based on house spirits. Kikimora, but I really didn't try to keep any resemblance. There was no way for Sieglind to really learn about them though, so they could be anything.

Spirits that once lived alongside the humans working the sawmill or humans and cursed into their current forms. You can consider the former 'authorial intent', but really I hadn't decided because I didn't need to.

It's not that clear in my writing, but the vines were made of the same wooden stuff that the pole was made of. Discussing that is even more man-behind-curtain.

If you ask for a concrete explanation, this is what I'd give:

The pole is what lets the shadows have some place in the world. Otherwise they kind of exist elsewhere and aren't really powerful to interact with reality.

Why the pole was put in to place - my thoughts on that is based on the house spirits idea. Legends for those kind of spirits often talk about them being useful and helping keep the house clean or livestock fed or something. Someone who could see them might have recognised their help and put the pole there.

The vines would have been made by a similar method, hence same material, though not necessarily by the same person and definitely not for the same purpose. More about that is spoilery, but you might be able to guess based on Shooting Stars.

There were some unexpected choices, but for the most part you guys didn't manage to escape the rails.

The rails are infinite. Forever.

(If I've left something out, again just ask.)
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Lemme also talk about why this quest takes ages to run:
Because every update takes like 2 hours of me staring at google docs and banging my head on a table.

Being clueless is my default state when QMing, but A Sword's Exile is for some reason particularly challenging in planning and in writing.

So I'm going to ask for feedback.

I want to know what you guys think so far. Just tell me if there's something you liked or disliked, or whatever random thoughts that pop up.

That's a request for Shooting Stars as well. It seemed well-received, but I don't really know what people thought.

My hope is that, somehow, this'll help me be less lost.

Ha. Ha.
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Huh. I was honestly expecting a sort of 'correct' interpretation for everything like I imagine a fair number of writers do, but I do like this method too. Though, if the intention from the start was to have the details flexible, I guess trying to closely examine the minutiae was just pointlessly confusing myself?

>The rails are infinite. Forever.
Sure they are, OP. Sure they are.

Not being a QM myself, I can't put too much weight on my words, but I imagine being a QM somewhat like being a GM or DM, in that a lot of it is being able to adjust (read: run damage control) based on the decisions of your players.

The general idea I get for how to go about this seems to be a lot like what you've already done here, which is to sort of guide players such that their trajectory invariably takes through a series of points which advance the story (preferably with the points numerous and flexible enough that any one of several may be used for any one instance of progression).

One feature of this method is that you'll still have to throw out large portions of notes regularly when players invariably do something completely unexpected, so don't feel bad when this happens.

Naturally, there are other ways to go about things, like building the majority of the setting first, and running a more exploratory-focused game, with the narrative conflict arising from how the players interact with the world around them. I'm not sure how well this would work here, though.

With regard to your writing, I haven't noticed any glaring flaws, so I'm not sure what to say. Your style isn't, for instance, so dense and verbose that I have trouble getting through paragraphs - while being descriptive is a merit in itself, I'm pretty sure I've been turned off from some quests due to that in the past.

For what it's worth, I haven't disliked any of the things that I've read from you (or at least, that I know are from you).

I’d say comments and observations are never pointless. Even if they don’t change anything obvious or if whatever’s being dug at and discovered isn’t actually there, they always help me direct the story.

There’s been lot of posts and random things people have said in both my quests that influence my writing - expected considering the medium, 'course - but it’s not always direct and I’m pretty bad at making it as clear as other QMs do.

A lot of posts or short comments can influence a character's perspective and affect how they act and develop, but even if I try to acknowledge it in writing there isn't often an immediate ‘this lead to this result’.

More relevant to when I asked for theories in this thread: the details weren’t fixed, but which interpretation I chose depended a lot on what you guys wrote. And if someone’s words inspire an idea there’s space to make up the details to go with it.

Explaining that changes the effect, so I probably shouldn’t have typed that or much of my previous post. Though it is interesting to talk about, and I figure there’d be other QMs that take the same approach. So this probably isn’t all that new.

I have no idea, actually. I’m just making things up as I go.

>For what it's worth, I haven't disliked any of the things that I've read from you
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But yeah, asking for feedback always ends up vague.

I’m really indecisive when planning for this quest. I always end up spending ages revising my plans and not getting anywhere, which is pretty much why this thread was delayed and how this quest went from thread #1 > two months dead > thread #1 again.

One problem is I don’t even know what appeals about A Sword’s Exile. I don’t know what anyone thinks or how anyone reacted to any of the events of either thread.

I don't know if people are here for the action, the story, the characters, or whatever else.
I don’t know which scenes were well-received, what had an impact, what made an impression.

‘Feedback’ might not be a good word to use because it seems to make people think you’re expecting a review. I just want to hear some thoughts, so that I might understand what the heck I’ve written and hopefully gain some idea of where I'm going.
As someone who didn't participate in, or was even aware of the original thread, I can't speak for what went right or wrong there.

However the new 'first' thread was appealing to me for a few different reasons. For one, I found the concept that you introduced of swordsmen and their bond-mates to be intriguing. I also enjoyed the melancholic air surrounding Sieglind and the story of why she's running away and I would really love to learn more about what happened and why. Most of all however, I really enjoyed the parallel story you told between Sieglind and Myrril's situations and the way the two intersected.

I guess to summarize it in a less rambling way, I enjoy the world-building that you do and the strong way that you write your characters and have them interact with eachother. Something about your settings and characters just manages to be enchanting to me, GFQ is similarly like that for me.
>what appeals about A Sword’s Exile.
Cute main character

There's not much action, no combat system, I don't know if choices made during combat even matter or is that just a fluff;
story, is there a story? We're just running away, so far;
characters, maybe but there's no recurring characters.
All the appeal right now is focused on the main character. Cute, sword, mysterious past and running away from something. Yes, it's a trope type but it's working right now.

I agree what the anon above said but it's only the second thread so far. We'll probably get to the meat of things sooner or later.
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I had learned a few things early for what people liked about GFQ that helped a lot in guiding its direction and tone. Swords didn’t start off as blank as my other quest, but knowing why some of you are here is still really useful in figuring out what’s ahead.

So, thanks fellas!

Though I didn’t expect ‘cute’ to be something. Is this the power of anime images?

Combat is something else that I really need to figure out. There isn’t a system in place, more just... logic?

For the previous thread and the first vote in this one I think there’s choices that could be argued as ‘wrong’. The problem is I can’t give you a concrete system, and because of that I don’t know if I should be punishing anyone for picking certain choices.

Though I’m also just looking to see anon’s thought process and reasoning, because it helps me write. That kind of applies to every vote though.

... Still thinkin’ about it.


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