Four years have passed since what is now called “the Sunwell Crisis” - a time when the infamous Sunhawks, led by prince Kael’thas Sunstrider, attempted to summon the demonic Burning Legion into this world. In a desperate struggle the mad tyrant and his slavish loyalists were defeated - and a new age has begun for the elvenkind, one of recovery and prosperity.But you are ‘Lynestra Dawnstrider’, the last Sunhawk, hiding from the law in the land of human cutthroats. There, even those of them you've considered friends have revealed themselves to have dubious loyalties and secret agendas, while those that oppose you openly have turned out to be harboring shocking secrets. With Mercer's grimoire and his little book of secrets, you could very well be on the verge of ousting and destroying him, should you simply wish so - you just need to resolve the dwarf situation first.>Google document, constantly updatedhttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1-jPBo0HRy-9zORO12ZO325ka3L1e2Bsjrtzo9RDlO20/edit?usp=sharing>Twitter, because you have to have one these dayshttps://twitter.com/sunhawkqm>Previously, on the Last Sunhawkhttps://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2021/5049040/
“Whit abit yer kin? Ye have a kin?”Kin..! The very memory of your brother, your only living kin, stung and hurt you in a way that almost made you forget about the the embarassment you’ve felt - almost. In another time, you would spend a minute feeling sorry for yourself - but right now, you were faced with a dwarf snarling at you and wincing in a manner that suggested silence was not a valid answer to his question. He would have little appreciation for dramatic pauses and enigmatic non-answers.“A brother, yes.”, you began. Then, in the same very breath, you’ve continued. “But he…”“Weel, hoo abit ah insult th' memory ay yer kin, loch ye insulted th' memory ay mine, eh?!”, the dwarf canted his head to the side and stared at you expectantly. You’ve waited out several seconds to make sure he’s done, and you may speak.“Well, since you ask…”, you raised your head.“Not glad yoo’ll be, ah bit. Ah bit yoo’d be screamin’ fur a duel or whit nae’, fur the achin’ honor of Brightblaze Cindersorraw, ur Longshanks Drearymug, ur Felflame Darkbad, ur whatever your fowk’s nam is.”You breathed in quickly, hoping to get a word in before he interrupted you:“My name…”“...bunch ay nonsense, aw ‘at. Changed th’ name of yer folk - fine, yoo’re blood elves now. Whit fur yer callin’ yoorselves Trueblade Scumvengeance? Ye want tae yell it tae th’ warld hoo tormented yer ur? Ye want revenge, go get revenge. Don’t greit tae be seen. Main hae bin wa ye allied wi’ th orcs tay - hey, watch at whit ye mistreated me intae!”You inhaled quickly and opened your mouth - but this time, it was just a test to see if the dwarf was going to speak over you loudly the moment you would. He did no such thing - so a moment later, you would raise your hand and inquired:“So, while I am deeply sorry for any offences against your kin I might have committed - although I’m still not certain what they are - your repeated insinuations that me, or my people, are somehow responsible for the deeds of the few… On that regard, I refuse to apologize. For indeed, they were the deeds of the few, not the many. You see, while the sun king was distracted with such minute matters as taming a hostile world and saving us all from extinction, he couldn’t manage every affair that was happening across the cosmos - so he had to delegate some responsibilities to a pack of jackals that stayed behind, in complete safety. His majesty would never stay behind himself, of course, he knew responsibility and honor, a true frontline general..."
"...risked his life for our people more times than I can count - unlike some others we both know. No, they would never be caught dead saving our people - they've had other important matters on their plate, such as squatting in the palace... In any case, some executive power and a significant deal of authority - a regency, even - had to be given to the people whom the king believed to be honorable men - and he had no way of knowing that power would corrupt them in an instant. Indeed, instead of governing in the interests of our people, they’ve abused the power his majesty has entrusted them with. The alliance with the orcs - the forsaken, really - that’s widely known to be Halduron’s doing, his ties to the former ranger-general are no secret, anyone who has a pair of eyes can see what happened there. They enriched themselves too, by the way, and fabulously so - the lord-regent does not have enough coin for an infirmary on the Falconwing square, but for his good co-conspirator Rommath and his friends in Dalaran, there’s funding to refurnish half the city. These were top-down decisions, every single one of them - made without the sun king’s knowledge and consent. Had he been on the throne in practice, and not merely de jure, none of the offences you speak of would have ever happened - and neither would many other things. So if you wish to lay blame on someone, master dwarf - I can give you names.”For the first time in some time, you laid your eyes on the wildhammer and saw that he was still listening, with his eyes wide open, and this strange expression on his face, a strange mix of fascination, confusion, bewilderment and shock. Either the tale you were spinning touched him to the very core of his being, or you may have been speaking just a little too long, and a little too passionately.>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”>”And by the way, “Cindersorrow” is a perfectly good name. I would go by that.”>”Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.”>”You look like you have a question, master dwarf. Go ahead.”>”Apologies, politics tend to wind me up. I’ll get off the soapbox.”>I may have gotten a little passionate, but this was the detailed explanation that the situation called for. I apologize for nothing.>He looks confused. Very well, let me repeat from the beginning.
>>5118805>”Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.”>”Apologies, politics tend to wind me up. I’ll get off the soapbox.”>”You look like you have a question, master dwarf. Go ahead.”Yes! It’s back, I’ve been waiting for it.
>>5118805>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”>He looks confused. Very well, let me repeat from the beginning.The truth needs to be told! Wake up, people!
>>5118805>>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”>>”You look like you have a question, master dwarf. Go ahead.”
>>5118805>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”After a while...>”Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.”>”You look like you have a question, master dwarf. Go ahead.”And jeez, we really went on a whole minutes long monologue there, huh?Welcome back SunhawkQM, I've been eagerly awaiting your return. I trust your holidays were pleasant?
>>5118805>>”And by the way, “Cindersorrow” is a perfectly good name. I would go by that.”Great to see you back.
>>5118805>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”>”Apologies, politics tend to wind me up. I’ll get off the soapbox.”
>>5118805>”...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath, not me. And maybe Aethas as well, his involvement is not quite as direct, but there are some very interesting coincidences involved in…”>”Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.”>”You look like you have a question, master dwarf. Go ahead.”
“Ah…”, the dwarf meekly tried to speak up.“...Lor’themar, Halduron and Rommath - and not, I would like to press this, me. Maybe one can include Aethas into this list - while on the surface he looks like a self-made man, with some tensions between him and the rest, one can definitely see how desperately he’s trying to sit on both, equally corrupt, chairs - the regent’s cabal and the Kirin-Tor, that is. His status definitely improved lately, and the fact that he still boasts power and influence after the Bell fiasco, it’s definitely curious. One would think there would be some controversy, but of course, the lord-regent only saw a very convenient opportunity to whip up some jingoistic fury to justify the current alliances. Not entirely unwarranted, mind you, but it’s both amusing and tragic how eagerly the elvenkind devoured the propaganda slop being fed to them, instead of asking any questions about the Sunreaver involvement in the debacle. I vividly recall the article I’ve read on the day of…”You blinked then, only now seeing that the wildhammer has feebly raised his hand. “Yes, master dwarf?”, you inhaled and raised your chin. “Do you have a question?”“Aye. Ah think sae.”, Angus spoken a little bit quietly, with the tone of someone devoid of hope. “Sae, ur ye usually…”He didn’t finish, but only vaguely huffed and looked into the distance, digging into the ground with his foot. “I’m not clairvoyant, master. If you could, perhaps, finish the question…”“Ah…”, the dwarf opened his mouth again. He was uncertain, concerned and most of all - caught off-guard, all three things you could feel he rarely was. “Ye know, forgit abit it. Ah dorn’t want tae ken.”You narrowed your eyes, trying to see if he was laughing at you. Then you turned your head towards Tzerak, still towering over both of you, to make sure he was not giving you attitude either - as you noticed how the dwarf briefly looked in his direction. The demon remained stoically stone-faced - or at least adopted this expression once you’ve turned.“In any case…”This was it. The dwarf was too broken and too tired to resist, which meant you finally had the initiative. This was the moment. You could very well ask or say anything, and he would go along with it, as long as it rids him of having to participating in more political discourse - at least until he recovers, and remembers that you’re an unwanted guest, and he has no obligation of tolerating you.>[Write-in]
>>5120933>"... master dwarf it seems clear to me that I am standing before a formidable fighter and while we are not terribly far away from dwarfish holdings,it still strikes me as odd to have met you here alone. Your earlier words seemed to suggest another reason for your solitude, one going beyond a simple personal preference. Now master dwarf I understand if this subject matter is perhaps a bit too personal, but given our different yet somehow I feel similar circumstances I must inquire what twist in the weave of fate could have brought you this deep into Alterac"
>>5120933Ask him if he’s to share a swill of his beer
>>5120933>"Now that we have reached something of an understanding, mayhaps we could sit somewhere before we continue this conversation. My bad leg is giving me a difficult time after today's excitement, and I would prefer to speak with you in a less confrontative setting."
>>5120933Supporting >>5120972 and >>5121056>Briefly glance up to check where the sun is in the sky, we weren't rambling for hours were we? Sometimes it gets hard to keep track of the time.
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 1Stress: UnmovedConsequences: Walking on the sunshine.Fate Points: 1You briefly glanced upon the sky, as you paused. The burning celestial ball has moved since the last time you’ve remembered it - so you really did lose the track of time in all of the excitement. While the roof over your head for the night was not strictly mandatory, it was desirable - and you’ve not yet decided if you’ll be returning to Strahnbrad this day. “...I have a bad leg, master dwarf.”, you’ve spoken. Your left hand gestured to it, while your right still held onto the cane. “Could we, perhaps, sit down, so it can get some rest? Maybe we could speak more then.”“Ye want tae come intae mah hoose again?”, the dwarf opened his mouth. There was a bit of fear in his tone, before he regained a bit of his strength and violently shook his head. “Nae! Nae efter th' lest time. An' if yoo're gonna gab again, ah am probably gonnae go barmy!”First of all, calling his dwelling a “house” was rather charitable. Secondly… “Then maybe you’ll talk this time, I’ll listen.”, you raised your hand in a gesture of peace. “I get the feeling that we are not so different, you and I…”You’ve always wanted to say this exact phrase.“...and maybe it wasn’t an accident that we’ve met. What do you say, master Angus?”The dwarf thought on the matter for a moment - and from the fact that he seemed to lack the theatrical mannerisms, it must have appeared to be some genuine doubt in his mind.“Ah say nae!”, he replied stubbornly, beginning to head further into your direction, or more specifically - past you.While he did continue refusing you, you were not at all convinced his attitude was coming from a place of reason, rather than some good, old-fashioned dwarven stubborness. You’ve said a lot to mend whatever was between you. What you needed was just one final push.>[Prudence] How do I make him finally let bygones be bygones? >[Mind Palace] What about dwarven hospitality? Do I know enough about wildhammer culture?>[Twilight] I’m a wounded veteran. He would never be able to live with himself, if he turned me away. >[Dazzle] “You’ve asked me earlier, if I have kin.”>I’ve never said that I want to sleep under his roof. Maybe we could talk outside.>This is not a good idea.
>>5123664>[Prudence] How do I make him finally let bygones be bygones?
>>5123664>I’ve never said that I want to sleep under his roof. Maybe we could talk outside.
>>5123664>[Prudence] How do I make him finally let bygones be bygones? This is what Prudence is for, insight and cultural knowledge.
>>5123664>>[Dazzle] “You’ve asked me earlier, if I have kin.”Nothing like a good sob story
Rolled 1, 4, 6, 1 = 12 (4d6)There has to be something.(Prudence +3)
Indeed, there is. In fact, the solution was so simple, it’s a mystery how it didn’t occur to you earlier. No words could mend the rift between you - it was time for action.“What if I bring you something to drink?”, you spoke into his back, as he was shuffling towards the ruin, two baskets in hands. That got his attention. The dwarf turned and huffed, raising his heavy brow:“Ye think ye can buy me wi' a mug ay ale?”You’ve thought on the trick question for a second or two, before bluntly nodding:“Yes, I think so. Can I?”The wildhammer suddenly let out a genuine, heartfelt chuckle, touched to the core by your unabashed sincerity. A piece of his picked treasure spilled out of the woven wicker, as he wiped his lips and shook his head:“Fine!”, he shook his head, leaning in to open the trapdoor, so he could slip inside whatever dungeon he dug out in the cellar. “Gonna ponder it. But yoo're better brin' a lot mair than a mug. An' yoo're nae gonna tooch it.”You knew it. Even if he traded with someone to get alcohol - the second most essential component of dwarven life - just after air, the prospect of getting some for free was a lot different. There was just one insignificant detail when it came to this deal…“Well, I can’t bring it to you right now, but…”“That's yer trooble, nae mine.”, by now, you could see only a part of the dwarf’s hairy arm, as most of him has already climbed outside of your line of sight. It closed the trapdoor with a loud noise, and that was almost the last you’ve heard of him. “Come back when yoo've got it.”What a fruitful meeting with this most interesting dwarf. A wildhammer, even! Their exploits during the Third War were one thing, but Angus spoke true - your people were close friends until the very recent times. Maybe in these strange parts, they could be again. A dwarf friend was the best one could possibly have - their people were plainly incapable of treachery.However, it did not seem like you were going to get much more out of him just yet. Which posed a little bit of a problem - returning to Strahnbrad would probably mean running into Mercer, and you weren’t quite sure if you were ready just yet. You weren’t sure of a lot of things, you thought to yourself, as you once again sat against the tree trunk with your spoils of war in hand.One thing you were certain of...
>His irrational hatred for me aside, we have a lot in common - we are both opposed to the Shadow Council, to start. We should be on the same side.>He’s clearly hiding his dark knowledge, even from the duke. He’s paranoid and unstable, and there’s a great greed in him. He needs to go down for the sake of everyone else.>I’ve never had any intentions of being his enemy - but clearly, he’s not as noble. I am through with turning the other cheek.>I was fine with our petty rivalry, but when he involved Brooks into his schemes, he made it personal. >It doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do - I’ll show him to be a traitor, and then he’ll hang. He should not have crossed me.>It’s important to stay true. My opinion, and my actions, will be largely defined by whether or not I’ll find the evidence of guilt.>Personal feelings and silly idealism don’t factor into this. This writing will provide me an angle, and I’ll use it, no matter what it is. >[Write-in]
>>5125187>His irrational hatred for me aside, we have a lot in common - we are both opposed to the Shadow Council, to start. We should be on the same side.
>>5125186>Personal feelings and silly idealism don’t factor into this. This writing will provide me an angle, and I’ll use it, no matter what it is.
>>5125187>I’ve never had any intentions of being his enemy - but clearly, he’s not as noble. I am through with turning the other cheek.
>>5125187>It’s important to stay true. My opinion, and my actions, will be largely defined by whether or not I’ll find the evidence of guilt.His opposition to the Shadow Council may align his interests with ours eventually, but regardless of his experience and skill at arms, he is a petty conjurer at best and allying with or blackmailing one man of his skill isn't worth crossing our host, the duke. Justice should be our priority, especially with how we encouraged the duke to act.If he is guilty of causing Jarad's death or that of others then he should be exposed and dealt with. If not, then perhaps we can tolerate one another. I am mad about Brooks, but it is entirely within reason for Brooks to follow her orders and for Mercer to be suspicious of us.I doubt we'll stare down Mercer and blackmail him though, he isn't afraid of us, especially if he actually did kill Jarad, he probably will just resort to violence. Not to mention I honestly think that he has every advantage if we were to oppose him. Remember, we do not know that he is guilty yet. He is also a long serving retainer of the duke's bloodline, at least outwardly, who would the duke trust, us or him, it is an easy question to answer. Finally, in a fight, remember, he has that armour which will give him...I can't remember...but like +2 or 3, he'd fuck us up unless we fought him with our summons and no other intervening help for him - which we cannot count on as he is also a warlock and a leader of men besides - and it'd still be a tossup.Please reconsider.
>>5125264alright I change my vote >>5125209to this, mostly because I was already considering it and the vote seems pretty split so far.
>>5125187>It’s important to stay true. My opinion, and my actions, will be largely defined by whether or not I’ll find the evidence of guilt.Mercer has called us a gnat, a drunk, and a lecherous whore, and only most of those things are true. Our reward for meekly offering an olive branch to that deplorable man has been hateful insult after hateful insult. He is, for lack of a better term, a bully. Earlier we wisely walked away from a confrontation because we had nothing on him (except, perhaps, a higher total lung capacity), but we've been making steady progress on that front, and the paranoid scribbles in his journal prove that he is more vulnerable than we initially thought. Still, the time has not yet come for our sweet, syrupy, venomous, petty revenge. One day, we might finally have enough influence to throw a collar around his neck and walk him around like a dog while that woman of his watches. For now, though, the best thing we can do is act demure and try to win the duke's favor.
>>5125419>Mercer has called us a gnat, a drunk, and a lecherous whore, and only most of those things are true.lol, great line>>5125187>>Personal feelings and silly idealism don’t factor into this. This writing will provide me an angle, and I’ll use it, no matter what it is.
>>5125187>>It’s important to stay true. My opinion, and my actions, will be largely defined by whether or not I’ll find the evidence of guilt.
…is whenever you were unsure what to do, you could always rely on the teachings of the greats - two men, who have never once in your life steered you wrong. One of them was, of course, was his majesty, the Sun King - while the other was your uncle. You remembered one time early in your life, a rare occasion when you’ve seen your brother before your adult years. He has briefly returned from the border to spend his leave with his only family - you remembered well how clean his armor was, and how cleanly shaven and groomed he looked. He ruffled your hair, asked you how is your learning going, and listened to you for a whole hour, when you rambled about this one book you’ve read, even though he could not care less about the adventures of princess Callista and her woodland friends - far from the last time in your memory, when he only pretended to care. At the dinner, he talked to you less - his other kin was the real reason he came home. He spoke a lot with your uncle about matters that seemed immensely boring to you at the time. Even though now you knew better, you could not remember the specifics of it, no matter how hard you tried. It was something about him being wronged or passed over for a promotion… Either way, he kept nagging about it in that tone that made it clear - he expected help here, something far more than a simple word of encouragement. He was offered advice and wisdom, but Auberon seemed more concerned about getting his due - and getting even, with or without his kin’s help. In a particularly shocking moment, he huffed and loudly spat out: “I should kill him for this!”. That part, you remembed it well. Anyone would. Your brother immediately turned away, regretful and ashamed of what he just said. But your uncle didn’t even raise a brow. He was rarely the one to openly speak judgements. He only nodded sagely and spoke in this wise tone that would forever stick in your memory, he spoke those exact words: “My boy, sometimes one can be so blinded by the desire to win, you forget about what’s truly important”. He paused for a moment, and then asked: “What of your honor?”. It wasn’t a particularly world-shattering revelation, but the context, and the sympathetic, knowing tone with which those words were said, somehow manage to make them the most powerful words in the world. Auberon only opened his mouth, closed it, pursed his lips together and nodded. He remained with you for the rest of that day, looking strangely both defeated and relieved. He never spoke of this matter again, no matter how much you asked, and you would never learn just what managed to sow such anger in his heart, that he spoke of death so easily.
Mercer was, without a doubt, a blight upon your miserable existence. You’ve done him no wrong, but only made every attempt to respect his authority. Whatever slight against himself or the people of Alterac he imagined, you’ve not done it, and he knew it, yet every day, he made it ever more clear how badly he wanted you gone… Or worse. Was that a reason enough for drastic actions? Would framing him for the slaying of Jarad, even if he did no such thing, be understandable? Perhaps. Many in your place would take the first opportunity to make sir Egmund regret every word out of his mouth, especially when the opportunity so grand presents itself. But that wasn’t you. Scheming against a fellow officer - even though you were barely on the same side - would be simply unworthy. It didn’t matter how loud-mouthed Mercer was. The land that gave you refuge was now in a state of war - and he was almost definitely a vital asset of the war effort. As long as he remained such, as long as you had no definite, solid proof of treachery, something both you and the duke would definitely believe... Searching someone else’s quarters for the evidence of a murderous plot was one thing. Plotting murder yourself, because someone was rude to you, was slightly different. That wasn’t the way you were raised.Still, it was difficult to believe that someone who so meticulously collected his thoughts into a journal - and took such extreme length to hide said journal - has managed to write down nothing incriminating. As you flipped through the pages of his little book of secrets, you’ve noted several things - first of all, he had a surprising love for numbers. Whole pages of his journal were dedicated to nothing but numbers in relation to names, most of which you didn’t recognize. What did they mean? Gambling debts? Bribes? Both? You didn’t know yet, but somehow you doubted that even Mercer could claim with a straight face that those were birthday dates. Secondly, occasionally sir Egmund wrote things down in what was clearly a cipher. It wasn’t often - understandably. You yourself could testify that working with ciphers could be a royal pain, even if they were your own - but one could only imagine what he was trying to hide. After all, that was the last line of defense - at this point, he assumed that his journal was already in the hands of his enemies.
In part, however, you got lucky. Very lucky - Mercer has thoughtfully kept everything on the matter of a few names mostly in the same sections. All of them were particularly cipher intensive. The young duke, the old duke, lord Perenolde, lord Falconcrest, Jarad, Church, Brooks, Nagaz, as well as someone only named “Elysa”. Another glance at the sun spared. You’ve had time to research at least a few of those names, before you needed to even consider such things as food, rest, shelter or your triumphant return to Strahnbrad. And if this matter was really only about justice for the slaying of Jarad, you only needed one. >[Pick three]
>>5131161>The young duke, Elysa, Brooksnot particularly interested in the past right now, not when what we are looking for is likely in the present or near future. Now I don't think he is a traitor but he might have written something about the young duke we can use.Elysa might be us, but even if that is not the case learning about a new figure in all of this could be useful.Brooks now this is a personal matter entirely and I understand if the others decide that we have more pressing matters to attend to, however knowing definetively on whose side she is could be more valuable than petty politics at this moment.On an unrelated note perhaps if the elves spent less time polishing their armor and actually guarding the border they wouldn't have lost Quel'thalas in the first place.
>>5131161>Jarad>The young duke>ElysaTempting as the idea of reading gossip to get dirt on people we know is, it might be more prudent to look for any clues that can help us decide what to do next in our investigation. Learning about Jarad is a must, since we still know precious little about him, and a detailed if biased perspective can help us going forward. The duke is at the center of everything that happens here, so there could be some information pertaining to him that can help us. Elysa is a gambit, though that may be the woman that we passed over in Mercer's house, and really, the only person that we know absolutely nothing about from that list.
>>5131157I'll admit it may not have been the wisest thing for me not to vote for Detective Dawnstrider but in fact The Nail when I chose to pursue truth, but as I said then and will say now, you'd want those bonuses more when lying and sabotaging then you would investigating, probably.>>5131161>Jarad, the Old Duke, ElysaThe core objective, the trusted friend he might've had a hand in murdering, and the mystery box.I think Jarad holds some of the same benefits that looking up Nagaz might reveal if he has Shadow Council connections and his hate for warlocks is feign or more complex than it appears. Looking him up is also the most immediately important.There have been some hints that he may have betrayed the old duke to the Alliance or helped kill him, at least if I remember correctly. If so, it would help us persuade the young duke to take action against him with a personal connection, or it could show Mercer to have been steadfast, at least in the past, which could help us trust him more assuming he isn't a murderer or doesn't try to kill us.The mystery box could just be his thoughts on his lover(?) and thus entirely pointless, but I think it is something interesting.I think looking up Church, Nagaz or Perenolde could hypothetically reveal information about Mercer's potential associations, or it may not. It'd also just be nice to know about these figures from another point of view.I think we already know he hates Falconcrest and that there isn't anything more there. I think Brooks and his relationship is simple, that of commander and loyal soldier, though obviously the Brooks connection is personal to us, it isn't as important in this limited time we have.
>>5131204>perhaps if the elves spent less time polishing their armor and actually guarding the border they wouldn't have lost Quel'thalas in the first place.That's fuckin' slanderous nonsense anon, are you some kind of traitorous fake-elf? I swear on me mum, you've got sum nerve bruv!But for real, did the elves not have good border security or something?
>>5131342I'll change my vote to >>5131457 as it has the same general idea and the votes seem to be split.
>>5131467>That's fuckin' slanderous nonsense anon, are you some kind of traitorous fake-elf? I swear on me mum, you've got sum nerve bruv!Just capable of self reflection, but I understand if that isn't viewed as a very elfish trait.>But for real, did the elves not have good border security or something?Given how they ditched their allies and bunkered down in quel'thalas and still lost both wars I would say so, can't even blame the incompetence of a certain ranger general on this one.
>>5131161>Jarad>The young duke>the Old DukeElysa might be the woman we saw sleeping, but it could also be his secret mistress. I think it is ultimately irrelevant to our investigation or interests.
>>5131161>>Jarad, the Old Duke, Elysa
Rolled 6, 3, 4, 1 = 14 (4d6)Deciphering the Jarad section...(Mind Palace 2)
Rolled 3, 4, 4, 3 = 14 (4d6)Sir Richard Dryden...
Rolled 4, 2, 6, 6 = 18 (4d6)Elyza...
You’ve spent enough time contemplating unraveling this conspiracy, or reflecting how you feel about it, or preparing to do it. It was time to get some answers - was there evidence that Mercer conspired against his betters or not? And if he didn’t - after all, you’ve long suspected he has no actual direct involvement in Jarad’s death - did he actually investigate the matter, and if so, what were his findings? And what of the old duke, sir Richard Dryden, this good friend of his? Admittedly, this particular suspicion might have been born of the more petty side of you, the one that wished sir Egmund would be guilty of at least something… But the fact that there was some writing on the duke’s father there was incredibly suspicious on its own. The fact that Mercer felt the need to write in cipher was even more incriminating. Men who have nothing to hide don’t even know what a “cipher” is. And it was awfully convenient how the death of the old duke left sir Egmund with an easily influenced child lord in tow…Could you, or could you not, make a case that sir Egmund was a traitor? Not merely to the duke, but to yourself?Jarad. Or rather “Jarad?” - sir Egmund seemed to be very much uncertain as to whether or not it was his real name. There was plenty of writing on his matter - chaotic and disorganized as it was. Endless lists of names and places shared the page with conspiracy flow charts. Between the lines, Mercer kept notes of what Jarad said at different times, whom he shared dinners with, and he even wrote an occasional quote, much like he had with you. “New army!”, one such note threatened in a rather cryptic manner. Almost right after it, there was a date - just a few months ago, according to the human calendar - and an explanation next to it: “Disappears again w. Church”. A few lines later, another date: “Dined with the boy, 2 hours” - you required no explanation as to who this boy could have been. “Nagaz visits”, about a week later: “Area surveyed”.It looked like Jarad was quite the busy bee, starting from the moment he arrived about two years ago: “SC sends theirs, named Jarad”. Almost from the very beginning he’s been doing something that frustrated Mercer to no end - either tending to some affairs in town, buttering up the boy duke and his court (in particular, he seemed to be quite chummy with Halligan, it was just one private meeting after another), or attending to some secretive business that Mercer clearly did not know much about.
As for the former, Mercer couldn’t hide his annoyance over how influential Jarad was getting (“ANOTHER ONE!!!”). And as for the latter… Often, he would have at least some idea as to who was involved - “Wake”. “Church”. “Nagaz”. “Church”. “Lerent”. “Church”. Those repeated again and again. Unlike you, Jarad seemed to be very involved in the Wake’s day to day business - which could have pointed towards him either being a true believer in the cause, or using the organization for his own ends far more effectively than you, and being far closer with the leadership. There were other names there too - but those were local, alteraci, and you assumed that they were syndicate men. Maybe even the very same that perished in the unfortunate inferno together with him - when it cams to these gentlemen, sir Egmund did not seem to have much of an emotional response to their tight friendship with the warlock. Highly curious.Another curiosity was the aforementioned vertical list - a list of names. You vaguely recognized a few of them, in fact, but you didn’t even need an overt familiarity with these figures to know their exact nacture. “Sharharost”, “Kuprin”, “Ardalilah” - these were demonic names, belonging to the otherwordly creatures of different breeds and calibers. A large number of them were crossed out, and you had a nagging feeling that if you were to take a closer look at Jarad’s grimoire, you would encounter them again. What could this mean? On what basis was he eliminating them? You've had a suspicion, of course, but for now it was just that - a suspicion.Then came the flow chart. Jarad was in the center of it, of course, and various incomprehensible lines were leading to and fro. The demons whose names you’ve just read did not factor into it - but local political figures have, extensively. Some lines were straight, others zig-zagged, some were composed of unconnected dots (which your gut told you probably meant something Mercer was not certain about). While it was an exciting look at how sir Egmund’s paranoid mind worked, it told you utterly nothing, except confirming again whom Jarad could have been possibly connected to, without lending you any information as to what the connection was. It contained nothing unexpected as well - there was Church there, and Nagaz, and the three of his high-ranking officers, Lerent being one of them. Falconcrest and his vassal lord, whom you knew Church served. A wavy line connected lord Falconcrest and Jarad, but a straight line connected Falconcrest and Lerent. Church, Jarad and Lerent formed a triangle - and all corners of this triangle were connected to Halligan somehow. The tomes on the nature of the Old Gods had nothing on this endless web of interconnecting lines, as this mess was enough to drive the sanest elf alive to the brink of utter madness.
In short, if sir Egmund really did write something along the lines of “I’ve finally killed the damn bastard”, you would not find it in the plain text. In fact, he did not write anything on the matter of his death at all - nor on the matter of the aftermath, or the implications, or anything of the like. If the only knowledge you’ve had of Jarad came from this little book, you could very well reasonably come to believe he never died at all - and the only clue you could have possibly had, pointing otherwise, was how after a certain point Mercer simply stopped writing about the man’s daily routine, as if he just lost interest. Quite interesting behaviour from someone, who reportedly believed that Jarad was murdered by a third party.It was very likely that anything truly interesting would be hidden in the block of cipher. Alas, all your initial attempts to break it were met with failure - it was clearly a bit more complex than the simple substitution kind you’ve been hoping for.>[Fate Point] I’ve come this far, I can’t give up now. Think!>Book of lies, I have a specific question about Jarad. Do you have an answer?>It’s a fight I’ll win another day. I can draw enough conclusions from this already, let’s move on to the old duke.
>>5138842We should regain our Fate Points upon resting yes?If so, then it may be worth using it here. On the other hand, it may be worth preserving the Fate Point in case we are intercepted upon our return to the castle by Mercer or the Duke. Either for lying or for a fight.After all, we should be able to return to this entry later in we preserve possession of the books, or we can ask specific questions.I think Halligan is our next suspect after Mercer, though Mercer's books are still worth investigating as they seem to be a treasure trove of info.>Book of lies, I have a specific question about Jarad. Do you have an answer? Are there any specifics on Jarad's and Halligan's connection or for that matter any specifics on how Mercer knows Halligan is connected to the three points of the triangle relationship?
>>5138842>[Fate Point] I’ve come this far, I can’t give up now. Think!>Book of lies, I have a specific question about Jarad. Do you have an answer? How much time elapsed between Jarad's last private meeting with Halligan and his demise?Fortune favors the bold - or in Lynestra's case, the stupid. We can get fate points when our flaws make our life more difficult, so we should be able to net at least one if it comes down to a sweaty lethal confrontation, though I seriously doubt it will. As for what we've learned so far, I'm curious about just one thing. Even though it wouldn't mean anything on its own, it would be incredibly sus if Jarad decided to go through with his big ritual shortly after one of his regular Grindr hookups with Halligan.
>>5138842>[Fate Point] I’ve come this far, I can’t give up now. Think!
>>5138842>>[Fate Point] I’ve come this far, I can’t give up now. Think!
Rolled 2, 2, 5, 1 = 10 (4d6)Will hitting your head help?
>>5140383No. Only alcohol can.
You stared down the endless string of letters and numbers until they’ve started floating before your eyes and blending with each other, yet still refusing to give up whatever method guided this chaos. Barely audibly growling, you’ve raised your hand and slammed your palm into your forehead. The clarity still refused to come - and also, now your forehead hurt. You couldn’t solve this riddle right now - not here, without a comfortable chair, a light and a large supply of ink and parchment to test out different theories. You’ve briefly glanced over the ruined hut - and then shook your head. Even if Angus wished to provide you with what you needed, he almost definitely didn’t have it.The only thing that you could do now was try and figure out what you could from what Mercer was kind enough to write outside of the cipher. It was clear that he believed that Halligan and Jarad shared some sort of connection - but what sort of connection was it? You narrowed your eyes, as you tried to spot as many instances of “Halligan” or “H.” as you could - and indeed, there were many. Almost every time Nagaz or Church came to visit, Halligan was mentioned as having had a chat with them - what were the contents of those chats, Mercer never mentioned, which suggested that Mercer either did not know, or it was so blindlingly obvious to him, he didn’t feel the need to put it into writing - after all, it was important to remember that Mercer was keeping those notes not for you to discover, not even for a spy network, but purely for himself. You momentarily abandoned reading this particular chapter of Mercer’s ramblings and quickly flipped through the pages - was there a Jonas Halligan chapter that could shed a little bit more light on his role in the events? No, you discovered a few moments later, and were a bit surprised by the notion. Mercer even kept notes on the Stormpike clan and the Frostwolves orcs that battled it out in the Alterac Valley - mostly their troop numbers - but he did not consider Halligan to need his own section. It was strange, and it bothered you immensely - that was not how you would behave, if you were in his shoes, but perhaps it made sense somehow.
After flipping the pages back to Jarad, you once again began looking into various times Halligan popped up - only to discover a few times where sir Egmund did provide you with some bits of information. First of all, there was one time when Jarad was out of town, but Church still came to visit - and he seemed to seek out Halligan specifically. Once again, Mercer was frustrated enough to put his grievances into writing: “Fucking traitor!”. It was quite easy to guess both who Halligan was supposedly betrating, and for whom - it was beginning to look like Halligan was the Shadow Council’s very own t…“FUCKING FALCONCREST!”, you could almost hear Egmund growl, as you’ve spotted another outburst of rage on the page’s side. It seemed to relate to another one of Church’s visit, this time with Lerent of all people - and this time the entirety of the duke’s council dined together, discussing “5-7 new shadow cunts”. So Jarad - and possibly the others - lobbied for the expanded presence of the Argus Wake in Strahnbrad? And apparently, Mercer blamed lord Falconcrest for it - which made sense, if Lerent and Church were involved, they were probably there to represent him, as well as the Shadow Council. Obviously, it did not end up happening - to your knowledge, you were the only representative of the Argus Wake in the young duke’s domain. Even if there could be some others - outside of Strahnbrad, in one of those smaller villages in his fief - one would expect one of them receive a promotion, instead of you ending up with the job after quite literally falling into it by pure accident. Still, it was interesting, and very well shed some light on how Mercer believed Halligan to be connected to the two warlocks from the Falconcrest’s half of the kingdom. As far as he was concerned, Falconcrest and the Shadow Council were plotting to take over the duchy together - and Halligan and Jarad were their voices.Could have sir Egmund murdered Jarad to prevent the takeover, or to send a message? Possibly. But as far the other suspects went… Could anyone else with their fingers in that pie kill Jarad over a disagreement about how the power should be divided? Quite possibly. You took another look at what should have been Jarad’s last days - a meeting with Halligan about four days earlier. No details. With all this newfound information…>I’m starting to think it could actually be Mercer.>I knew Halligan had to be involved in something.>I did ponder that Church has his own agenda…>Falconcrest or Shadow Council. One of the two. He overstepped his bounds and paid the price.>There’s all sorts of motives, yet still no evidence that Jarad’s cause of death was anything but his incompetence.>I don’t know what to think anymore.
>>5140462>I knew Halligan had to be involved in something.I don't think it is Mercer. Now, to be fair, him being mad at Falconcrest or Halligan doesn't mean he isn't part of the Shadow Council, he could just be mad at their faction and mad that his faction is losing ground internally, but I doubt it. It is still possible he killed Jarad, but at the very least I don't think he is a great fan of the Shadow Council, regardless of his budding demonology interest.It could be Church, but despite his sleaziness and how little we know about him I'm inclined to take him at his word that he and Jarad were friends. I don't think he would try and lie to us in anticipation that we would suddenly take an interest in Jarad's death and seek to expose the truth without any sort of ulterior angle.Halligan may have been chummy with Jarad, and depending on how genuine their friendship was the mere timing of his death may not be enough to determine that Halligan wanted a bigger slice of the "pie" but we should at least investigate him considering Jarad's recent meeting with Halligan.Also...>Is there anything about the Wildhammers in his diary?
>>5140462>I’m starting to think it could actually be Mercer.We're not in front of the duke making an accusation right now, so speculation is still okay. With this new information, the case against Mercer becomes rather compelling.Not only did Mercer have the most to gain from Jarad's murder, but Jarad's continued existence was a threat to the status quo he wants to uphold. Together with Church and Halligan, it seems the three have been working diligently to expand the influence of the Shadow Council in Alterac (the two of them are likely in it for themselves, an important though not immediately relevant fact). From what we've read of Jarad and seen in his grimoire, he was industrious, intelligent, powerful, and had deep connections with the Shadow Council. He was their main man in Strahnbrad, and eliminating him cleanly would deal a harsh blow to the organization on top of throwing a wrench into Falconcrest's plans. Not enough to stop them, obviously, but it would take time to replace a man like that. Time enough for Mercer to clean up some of Jarad's influence and prepare for the replacement.I could write a novella on why I think Mercer has a strong reason for wanting to summon demons, or why Lynestra's got put on the fast track to the Wake's inner circle, but I think I'll hold off on that for a while.
>>5140462>>I did ponder that Church has his own agenda…
>>5140462>There’s all sorts of motives, yet still no evidence that Jarad’s cause of death was anything but his incompetence.
>>5140462>There’s all sorts of motives, yet still no evidence that Jarad’s cause of death was anything but his incompetence.The lack of solid evidence or red herring despite all the work and leads we chased makes me think that it was simply bad luck and incompetence.
>>5140462I'll switch to support >>5140599 as you've convinced me after I did a closer reading of the recent story posts.>>5140980I wouldn't give up on Mercer yet. Certainly the stuff we just read at least gives Mercer a motive, and if I understand that the implication of us having to use a fate point to try again correctly then we have failed to properly decipher or analysis the Jarad section entirely. There isn't so much a lack of evidence per se as that we just plain failed the roll twice.
>>5141123The mind palace rolls relate to understanding the cipher. How you interpret all other evidence is up to you, not the dice.On the side note, this is something I considered before. Do you think this quest needs a glossary of characters and maybe even terms? If so, what kind of information would you want there?
>>5141132Ah, yes, I understand, I'm just tired. I meant to type "failed to properly decipher the cipher or analysis the Jarad section entirely".I think a glossary of characters would be good, I personally don't have trouble keeping track of who is who but then again I've reread each thread multiple times. For other anons it would be good, and while I can remember who is who, I certainly have started to forget relevant details of any number of things besides names in the wait between threads.Regarding what information should be there, I think any information that makes WoW a unique fantasy setting or is different from the norm should probably get an entry. Important bits of history specific to Lynestra's past or Blood Elf history or the history of Lordaeron (the continent not the country) or the recent wars should probably be included. Maybe relevant stuff regarding cosmology, magic, technology, organizations too. I could go on and on.The point is not that you need to explain everything about WoW, the point to to explain terms that are relevant to this quest, Lynestra and her current situation. That probably means that in the character section you might want to include aspects of our relationship to said characters, what Lynestra has observed about them and any relevant plot points we may have forgotten involving them. So, we've done a lot of character exploration regarding her past, defining the terms involved in that may help. Terms relevant to Alterac may help, as well as stuff related to Warlocks or the Shadow Council. Stuff that would help new players interested in your quest get familiar more quickly.A big part of why I did my initial wikia dive and infodump back in the first thread was because I didn't understand a lot of the terms or know what was going on and a lot of the stuff from Warcraft 3 no longer felt familiar to me nor came to my memory easily.
>>5141132I think having an infodump could a bit intimidating to newcomers and returners. Maybe a short blurb about the key characters and a handful of recurring background terms (the Third War, Alterac, Quel'Thalas).
>>5140462>>There’s all sorts of motives, yet still no evidence that Jarad’s cause of death was anything but his incompetence.
>>5141547Well, it'd be in a pastebin presumably, so I don't think it'd intimidate anyone. I also assume QM would make it like...you know, an actual glossary. So it'd be like you said in all likeliness, a short blurb following the term.Of course if it were up to me it'd be lengthier so as to also be helpful as a quick resource for players already invested in this quest, but seeing as it isn't up to me and is probably best used to get new players up to speed, better go with your version of things.
You’ve once read that the three components of a crime are the motive, the means and the opportunity. Based on everything you’ve just read, Mercer had quite a significant motive - he clearly viewed the enroarchment of the Argus Wake, the Shadow Council on these lands as a threat. In his mind, they were not allies, but enemies - just like Stromgarde and its death knights were. And there was only one thing a man like Mercer would see fit to be done with enemies. What about the means? As far as all evidence you’ve found told you, Jarad died in a ritual gone wrong. How exactly in went wrong, what were the circumstances - so far, you weren’t sure. Jarad could have naturally lost control of the spell - although the duke described him as talented, even great men are capable of making great mistakes. Jarad could have been shot - that could also lead to him losing control of the spell. This uncertainty led you to hitting the wall when it came to opportunity - and unless the ritual in question, torn out before you, held the answers… You were, sadly, back on square one. The only concrete, solid thing you’ve had on him, the only thing you could present to the duke was him letting off steam in writing. You’ve always had doubts yourself about this whole “Mercer killed Jarad” business - perhaps, he seemed too obvious - but now, you’ve began truly questioning this theory. If he’s to blame, surely there would be evidence pointing to him?But there wasn’t. Disliking warlocks was not the evidence of murder. Tensions with the Argus Wake were not the proof you needed - it was a known quantity already. Even him keeping track of Jarad’s movements and allies could be explained away too - and really, isn’t it very similar to what you’re doing right now? The same court, that would conclude that Mercer is guilty on the basis of investigating Jarad, would also conclude that you’re plotting to kill sir Egmund based on your thefts and home invasion. You’ve had no doubt that if both of you were put against the wall, your excuses would sound pretty much the same.Maybe no one killed Jarad. Maybe he just died on his own, and you’ve found no evidence pointing to otherwise, because it doesn’t exist. But then again, what evidence could one even find..? The body was turned to ash, the eyewitnesses died in an instant, so much time has passed since the event, and as for the journal… It would be foolish to expect Mercer to write down a detailed confession just for your convenience. If this sort of thing happened in a book, you would call it idiotically contrived.
Your index finger idly played with the torn out page with the dead warlock’s handwriting upon it, while your eyes slowly followed Mercer’s. Not on the matter of Jarad anymore - but on the matter of the duke. Perhaps, he wrote down a detailed confession at least on that matter. By the Sun, your life would be so much easier, if that’s what happened.Sadly, it wasn’t. Mercer’s writings on the subject of sir Richard Dryden were far more dry, brief and rare - nothing like the novel about Jarad’s daily life. In plain text, it was nothing but a list of names in order: “Vanndar Stormpike”, “sir Karnwield the Seeker”, “Nagaz”, “Tyranis Malem”, “Staffron Lerent”. The first two names were written in noticeably dfferent ink from the rest - which implied the passage of time. The second name - the knight - was also crossed out. Of those people, some of them you recognized better than the others - Nagaz, Lerent and Tyranis were, of course, the leadership of the Argus Wake together with that Iresoul human (the only one not listed). Whoever this Vanndar Stormpike character was, he was clearly a dwarf from the Stormpike clan, a part of the Stormwind’s Alliance - they lived here, in the Alterac mountains. The only one you recognized in no way was sir Karnwield - he must have been a knight, but anything beyond that was not known to you. Being crossed out, he might have been the least or the most important out of the whole bunch.There was some code there too - not too much - but once again, it was not some substitution cipher you could break effortlessly. Still, the presence of the cipher alone did imply that sir Egmund has something to hide…Yet again, no confession. No concrete evidence. What did this all mean? And what were you to do now?>By now, Mercer surely discovered that I took his grimoire and his book of lies. I must strike the iron while it’s hot and confront him. He doesn’t know I couldn’t break the ciphers.>It’s too early to give up. The real evidence may be in the code - if I break it, it may be the bloodied knife I’m looking for.>I need witnesses. Church and Halligan both prominently feature here - they are a good start.>The answers will lie in the grimoire, and the page that Mercer tore out. Is there, or is there not, a flaw in the ritual? I must find out, no matter how much time it requires. Too much hinges upon this single thing.>Perhaps this is not enough for a conviction, but none of this makes sir Egmund look good. Presenting it to the duke is a good idea. It will at least warrant an investigation.>Mercer does not strike me as someone who spends all of his time at home, and I did tidy up before I left. If I return all of this where it laid, I may win a great amount of time.
>>5142621>It’s too early to give up. The real evidence may be in the code - if I break it, it may be the bloodied knife I’m looking for.
I think the information within the code is critical, otherwise Mercer would not have gone through the trouble of obfuscating it. Having said that, I'd like the opinions of some other anons - Church is a valuable witness, but could he also help us determine if there's a flaw in the ritual as a fellow warlock? We'd probably have to cut a deal, but if the ritual is fine, we'd have empirical evidence of bloody murder. Could we even trust him? Whacking Jarad seems to run counter to his goals, but that's not proof of innocence.
>>5142925>Whacking Jarad“This girl was great. They used to call her Soapbox Sunhawk. I swear by the sun, she’d make your war crimes sound like damn capers, pardon my language. She was glorious, she was divine. She’s slain a lot of draenei too. Ah, salute, lieutenant!”“No more soapboxes, brother.”“What?”“I said no more soapboxes. Maybe you’ve not heard, you’ve been away a long time. I don’t yell from soapboxes anymore.”“Easy, will you? I’m just making a little jest, that’s all there is. I’ve been merely japing.”“It doesn’t sound like you’re japing at times. There’s a lot of men around.”“I’m only making a jest, we’re on our leave. You just came home, I haven’t seen you in ages, I’m making a jest, and you’re getting skittish. My apologies, sister, I didn’t mean to wound you.”“The fault is mine. It’s fine.”“Elu'meniel mal alann. Now go home, and get your fucking soapbox.”
>>5142621Damn, I wasn't expecting the code to be so hard to break, we may not have rolled well regarding Jarad the second time, but our first rolls for the first two subjects were fair. More evidence in my mind that Mercer is some kind of spy. Think about it, our mind palace of 2 means we are pretty clever and assuming our roll averages out to no additional success or failures that is what we get, yet this cipher Mercer has developed exceeds our standard capabilities to crack. I wish in hindsight that we'd used our FP for a +2 instead of to try again, especially for something as important as this.I still think the cipher is the key, but there are other avenues that may be easier to pursue or lent us additional information or additional context, and I think interviewing relevant people or witnesses is a good start. Church and Halligan almost certainly won't be able to confirm that Mercer killed Jarad, (if they could, why wouldn't they have done something about it already?) but they probably know something that could help.I don't think our deceptive capabilities are high enough to trick Mercer, even if we could get The Nail to apply to our roll, and the risk of him just resorting to violence or just going to the duke to reveal that we broke into his home and stole his shit is pretty high.>It’s too early to give up. The real evidence may be in the code - if I break it, it may be the bloodied knife I’m looking for.I think this is the key, it sort of required a leap of faith or bout of impulsiveness to even risk finding it and if there is any actual hard evidence it would be in here, not in the minds of people who probably didn't kill Jarad or witness his death personally. (As far as we know at least)
>>5142621>>It’s too early to give up. The real evidence may be in the code - if I break it, it may be the bloodied knife I’m looking for.
>>5142621>Mercer does not strike me as someone who spends all of his time at home, and I did tidy up before I left. If I return all of this where it laid, I may win a great amount of time.
The solution to this whole mess laid in the cipher. It must have - what Mercer already involuntarily revealed to you might have been borderline incriminating, but whatever he tried to hide must have been a hundred times worse. There was simply no other reason you could possibly imagine for why he used the cipher, if it was not to hide something that could destroy him - which made it all the more frustrating that you couldn’t do it. You needed to be able to write, you needed time - a lot of time, maybe even days, depending on how intelligent Mercer was. You needed…You clenched your teeth and slowly breathed out through your nose. Endlessly thinking about trying to make a breakthrough was not getting you anywhere - and staring at those letters and numbers was not getting you anywhere closer to the solution. It was only frustrating you further and draining your desire to even try. You needed to clear your head. Try something else before returning to your search for meaning in this ink ocean of nonsense. You once again found yourself idly turning pages - not even trying to look for anything particular now, but searching for anything that might occupy your head for the time being. Mercer wrote a lot - his favourite subjects seemed to have been troop movements, numbers and rumors he heard from nearby lands. It was fitting for his role as a marshal, perhaps - but something about it all just seemed strange. A man of Mercer’s position was not truly expected to even know how to write - and his notes on Jarad and the old duke were not at all connected to his position. He was surely plotting something - that, you’ve already found out - but could it mean he was some sort of a spymaster? He did serve the duke’s family for two generations - if there was anyone the boy would have given the responsibility to, it was to someone who knew his father. But if Mercer was serving him, wouldn’t he be aware of everything going on at those “private dinners” between the boy lord and the others? The most charitable reading of it all would be to assume that the young duke doesn’t want the Shadow Council on his lands either - and when sir Egmund was expressing his frustration, he was speaking for them both, about the concession they were forced to make against their own wishes and better judgement…But what if he neither plotted on his own, nor did so on the duke’s behalf? What if he was a foreign spy? Perhaps, for the Alliance - there was no love between the southern kingdoms and Alterac right now. Perhaps, for lord Perenolde. You couldn’t quite remember if…
“ELYZA”.You blinked suddenly, trying to recall if you’ve ever heard that name before - perhaps, in an idle conversation that you’ve overheard, but you simply could not remember it. It was true, of course, that you did not know everyone in Strahnbrad yet - it could very well be Mercer’s mistress. Did he… Send his men to spy on his woman? The thought of the syndicate men hiding behind corners, looking through spyglasses from the bushes to see if there’s anything suspicious in how she talks to the butchers and cobblers - it was simply too entertaining. And while you’ve known well that you should have used your time better, the morbid curiosity easily wrestled your common sense into submission. Who was this mysterious Elyza, and what did she do to earn a section of her own? Was she, in fact, that woman you’ve seen in his house?Your eyes quickly began darting across the page - and almost immediately, you were disappointed. Mercer’s writings seemed to have very little to do with anyone who could have lived in Strahnbrad - it was mostly him keeping track of correspondence this mystery woman was sending to him, with an occasional note serving as a reminder what exactly was written. So unless sir Egmund was a believer in courtly romance and love conquering all things - including distance - they were probably not that close. They were much closer than that. Elyza wrote to him far more often than it was considered acceptable in the polite society - often, two or even three times a month. While Mercer rarely clarified what were the contents of those letters, the few times he did puzzled and confused you. “Moved to lord Dandred’s safehouse” was somehow the least suspicious of them all. “Nagaz appears for the first time”. “The deal is finalized”. “The boy is brought up”. “The forsaken problem”.Your curiosity was peaking again and again with each second - to the point it was beginning to kill you. How much you would give up, just so you could get your hands on those letters! They were not anywhere you’ve searched - that you knew for sure - but maybe he had some sort of a hiding place where he stored them. Maybe in the cellar…The roads not taken, you’ve lamented to yourself quietly. This was interesting to the highest degree - because this very much looked like spy correspondence. This Elyza was spying on someone for him, but who was this unforunate man? You’ve continued reading, hoping he’ll drop a name that you’ll recognize.“Family gathering”. “Aliden’s losing it”. Your eyes continued frantically moving downwards. “Suspicious hunt? Lord Darrell croaked”. “Elyza Perenolde MY ASS!”
It was an appropriate moment for a dramatic gasp, and so you’ve let one loose. Then you briefly looked behind your shoulder - this would be also an appropriate moment for sir Egmund or some man of his to suddenly materialize and take you by surprise. Such a thing failed to transpire.“Elyza Perenolde”! Oh, she was a mistress for sure - but not sir Egmund’s own. Mercer was getting correspondence from lord Aliden Perenolde’s lover! Regardless of what she did or did not reveal to him, or if she even knew she was acting as a spy, this was a few notches above keeping an eye on your own household. Mercer was spying on the Syndicate’s very leader - or at least one of the leaders, depending on whom you ask. That was…>...treason. Lord Aliden might or might not be the rightful king, but he’s certainly not one of the duke’s enemies. I can’t imagine any of this was sanctioned either.>...dangerous and irresponsible. The Syndicate is made up of dangerous men, and lord Aliden is at the head of it all. This “Elyza” will surely die if she’s found out, that’s certain - but the boy might face grave consequences too. >...highly curious. What this tells me is, Mercer is indeed acting as a spymaster. The only question is, who is he working for - and does this person know?>...actually commendable. I’m now certain that Mercer is neither on Perenolde’s, nor on Falconcrest’s payroll - and certainly not aligned with the Shadow Council. He might actually be a good, loyal man.>...interesting, but irrelevant to me right now. If I had those letters, it would have impacted my decisions, but this is not the bloodied knife I’m looking for.>...disappointing. Mercer is turning the court against me right now, and all I have is happenstance and speculation.
>>5147039>...highly curious. What this tells me is, Mercer is indeed acting as a spymaster. The only question is, who is he working for - and does this person know?Well, I'm certain Mercer is a spymaster. Which, funnily enough, is one of the roles I wanted us to inherit when I lamented our stat build in the first thread, or if I didn't say it, I thought it at least.It doesn't necessarily mean that he is working for the Alliance, though I think he is. He could've merely been working for his own interest or out of ideology and the incident with Lord Dryden senior merely being a coincidence or alliance of convenience because the senior Dryden did something he didn't like or something. Or he could just be acting as a loyal retainer to the junior duke and keeping tabs on his faction's leadership, a wise move.Whether it is treasonous or not is uncertain, it depends on the laws regarding espionage, and in any case we serve the duke and our own personal goals before the Syndicate's greater objectives.Whether it is irresponsible depends on whether or not the duke knows about this or not, if he is gave his permission then it is fine, but if not then it is certainly dangerous. The woman almost certainly knows what she is doing, hence the mention of safehouses and the like, her own life is in her own hands and she probably knows it, no need to fret over her and Mercer's choices.Ultimately this is another lead worth pursuing, finding the letters or discovering whether the duke ordered Mercer's spying or he did it of his own initiative could damn Mercer, or not.
Y'know, having just briefly skimmed through the old threads for fun, it is kinda clarifying the reason why Halligan supports us when we talk to the duke during his council. Now that we know he is in bed (perhaps literally) with the late Jarad and Falconcrest, it makes a lot of sense that he'd support us suggesting to the duke that we pay Falconcrest off.I have had the thought that if Mercer turns out to be loyal to the young duke then perhaps we could break bread with him and work with him to oust or reduce the influence of Halligan. That is, if we are still intent on a anti-shadow council agenda. Getting rid of Halligan would also force the Shadow Council to rely more heavily on us in this area, and perhaps more on Church in his respective area. If we later discovered Church to be an ally or spy for the Alliance, or even just self-interested instead of fanatically loyal to the Shadow Council then we could form a potent bloc representing our own interests or that of a strong independent Alterac.Even if Mercer is working for the Alliance or some other party, we could perhaps fail to mention that to the duke in exchange for coming to an accord with Mercer in order for him to drop his Alliance ties and work purely for the young Duke's benefit, or that of Alterac as a whole. Alternatively we could be truthful with the duke but ask for mercy on Mercer's behalf provided he work for the duke wholeheartedly, though I doubt the duke would be merciful if Mercer had something to do with his father's death.
>>5147039>...dangerous and irresponsible. The Syndicate is made up of dangerous men, and lord Aliden is at the head of it all. This “Elyza” will surely die if she’s found out, that’s certain - but the boy might face grave consequences too.It's seeming more and more like there will come a time when we're going to have to throw our lot in with either Perenolde or Falconcrest if we decide to stay in Alterac. Between Falconcrest growing influence and Perenolde's claim to the throne, sucking up to one of the would-be kings is going to be necessary if (or more likely, when) things get violent. Mercer having a spy sleeping in the same bed as Perenolde as well as his antipathy toward Falconcrest kind of endangers not only the duke, but us.If nothing else, we may be able to use what we've learned overall to twist his arm and make him finally cooperate with us, but that's a whole other conversation. We're veering off track, and there are other leads we haven't explored yet.
>>5147039>>...highly curious. What this tells me is, Mercer is indeed acting as a spymaster. The only question is, who is he working for - and does this person know?
>>5147039>>...interesting, but irrelevant to me right now. If I had those letters, it would have impacted my decisions, but this is not the bloodied knife I’m looking for.
>>5147039>...dangerous and irresponsible. The Syndicate is made up of dangerous men, and lord Aliden is at the head of it all. This “Elyza” will surely die if she’s found out, that’s certain - but the boy might face grave consequences too.
>>5147039>...highly curious. What this tells me is, Mercer is indeed acting as a spymaster. The only question is, who is he working for - and does this person know?
There was a saying about judging the book by its cover, but never in your life would you imagine that sir Egmund Mercer - this crude and obscene brute of a man - would turn out to be someone so involved in spycraft. While you’ve never taken the man for an idiot - he had to be at least cunning to survive for so long in the dangerous world of cutthroat politics - you’ve also never taken him for some mastermind, who has men embedded in the enemy’s highest echelons.Although… Was it really fair to say that Perenolde was the enemy of his, or even his rival? The only thing you could have gathered for certain, is that sir Egmund did not outright receive orders from lord Aliden. While he did speak of his intelligence and decision-making skills unkindly in a few of his notes, there was no outright hostility there - while the same could not be said for lord Falconcrest. Perhaps, it wasn’t that Mercer infiltrated Perenolde’s court - lord Aliden could very well have a man in the duke’s council without even knowing about it. It wasn’t an insane, completely off the wall assumption to make - with how much contempt sir Egmund seemed to have for the bandit chieftain, he could very well come to view his rival as a lesser evil - and push the duke into its direction. You’ve had, of course, no proof of that angle - at least just yet, and you could very well be wrong. But some angle must have existed - there was some agenda that Mercer was following, for one reason or another. What were some other possibilities?Well, firstly, there was the Alliance and Stromgarde - it was very difficult to think of them separately. While it was very tempting to imagine Mercer as some freedom fighter, who heroically undermined the Shadow Council out of the desire to keep Alterac pure of demonic influences and indepedent of warlocks and their schemes, the Argus Wake was not simply some cabal that ruled Alterac from the shadows. By all accounts, they were invited in and allied with, because of how useful they would be against the Syndicate’s enemies. In the future, Alterac would surely regret allying with Nagaz and his ilk - the orc outlined his plans for this world in no uncertain terms - but in the short term, Stromgarde and its southern allies would benefit immensely from getting the Syndicate to fight or expel its own allies. Also, it was important to remember that sir Richard Dryden died, when the Alliance men ambushed him at the negotiations - and you did already entertain the thought that Mercer may have been involved in that. Why would he ally himself with Stromgarde? Why not, that was the real question. The duke already told you that he was not alteraci.
Mercer could have also served the duke loyally. It was an open question whether or not the young lord knew of his man’s spying efforts - but even if the boy was ignorant, it didn’t rule out the possibility. Sir Egmund may have well viewed himself as a regent of sorts, who had to sully his hands with the matters his liege was too young and too naive to understand. It didn’t even rule out him serving any other outside interests - he could be very well helping Stromgarde for what he viewed to be as the boy’s good. Or maybe Mercer was actually following his exact will - that, perhaps, was the worst possible scenario for you. But again, the absence of any details regarding the duke’s private meetings was highly suspect…It was a long shot, but Mercer could be aligned with the Horde. The orcish Frostwolf clan, of course, settled the mountains of the Alterac valley, and their conflict with the dwarven imperialist brigade dragged far more than one little tribe into the conflict. The Syndicate barely involved itself into this particular conflict, as there was nothing to be gained from getting between two superpowers, but sooner or later they would have to deal with the squatters on their mountains. And it’s not as if the Frostwolves were the only Horde presence in the region - the Banshee Queen’s undead were warring with Stromgarde also, trying to claim the human lands for themselves. Their reasons were easy to deduce from the telling name they chose for themselves alone - “The Defilers”. With how much contempt they seemed to have for the living, the forsaken were dubious allies even to their own “brothers” in the Horde… But Alterac had a history of dubious alliances. If Mercer wanted to see Stromgarde lose, he could very well seek help of those who are already trying to accomplish exactly that. After all, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.Truth be told, it was still quite difficult to imagine a man like Mercer plotting in secret - everything about the man seemed so violently unsubtle at the first glance. He didn’t even try to hide his contempt for you, Jarad, the Shadow Council, lord Falconcrest or anyone at all - but perhaps, being so overt placed him beyond suspicion. You’ve had irrefutable evidence on your hands, saying the man was far more cunning than he appeared - and honestly, now that you’ve broken your teeth against his ciphers, there was no possible claim of intellectual superiority you could make.
It was frustrating. Immensely so. The evidence you needed was right there, right in front of your eyes - you just had no means to read it. Without even a clue as to what type of code you were faced with (or even what language it was written in), it could take you anywhere between days and an eternity to solve this puzzle - and while it was happening, Mercer would have long learnt that you discovered his plots. He may have already been in front of the duke this very moment, spinning a tearful tale of what a misunderstood hero he is, and how the Shadow Council killed its own and was now fabricating a case against him, and fabricating evidence too, why not. By the time you would arrive back to Strahnbrad, the riddle finally solved and the journal in your hand, the duke would already fully believe that it was written by Nagaz himself. And from the time it would probably take you, it would be plausible too. But what choice did you truly have? Mercer did not give you any solid ammunition. He did not reveal his true allegiances, he did not write down confessions. It’s not as if he was some puppet show villain, proclaiming: “It was me all along, fools!”. If you were making a rhetorical argument, you could claim that if Mercer elected to shroud some information in both cipher, and also an actual demon with orders to kill anyone who tries to get his hands on it, that information must have been immensely dangerous to go to such lengths - but Mercer could claim that he was just hiding the coordinates of Syndicate safehouses and buried treasures. Oh, why is the cipher on the same page with the trivia on the matter of the dead duke’s father? Well, there’s only so many pages in a journal, and parchment is expensive. He was using the space available. You needed what was hidden in the cipher, but breaking the cipher was beyond you. In neither of the three sections have you encountered anything even vaguely familiar to you in principle - and while you did briefly have what you thought to be a flash of genius with the “Elyza” code, you were soon in for a disappointment - the theory about the hidden key did not hold up either. You needed a whole legion of helpers, or maybe one of those fabled gnomish machines - but the only one you could possibly turn to was Church. Could you trust him? And even if you did, was he really a better codebreaker than you? It could just turn out to be another waste of time… But wasn’t the prize worth the risk? Whatever Mercer felt the need to hide…You blinked. You opened your mouth, bit the tip of your tongue and closed it again.…were you looking at it the wrong way?
Perhaps, it was not at all about what Mercer was trying to hide. Consider, for a moment, everything he did not feel the need to hide. He did not conceal the name of his spy in Perenolde’s court. He did not conceal the names of his co-conspirators - or whatever they were - in the curious case of sir Richard Dryden. He did not encode the names of Jarad’s demons. While, perhaps, none of this was something that would get Mercer hanged, it was something that you personally would at least consider hiding - especially the spy. He didn’t. He had unbreakable code, and he didn’t use it to protect the name of his source. But something else, on that very page, was so much more important to conceal? What could it possibly be, and why were you just not buying the notion?Could it be, that it was not a code at all? Could it be, it was more of a… Con?Maybe the cipher was not familiar to you for the simple reason that it was not a cipher at all. Just like a shell game, in which the con man would lead the idiot tourists to believe that the ball was in one of the cups flashing before their eyes, maybe it was a string of nonsense meant to endlessly waste the time of whoever stole the journal. He would have tried to look for some sort of ultimate secret that Mercer was hiding, a secret that was simply not there at all - and in the process, achieve nothing but losing time and manpower. The demon and the cipher were not two layers of protection, they were two layers of traps. The demon was merely the physical trap - but the cipher was a far more insidious one. After all, if someone got his hands on the journal, it already meant one thing - he already discovered that Mercer was a schemer. No amount of cipher could prevent that at this point - in fact, it could only make the case more solid. The best thing he could possibly hope for then was winning some time - either to track down and dispatch the thief, or to perform the necessary damage control, or to flee. It was an incredibly petty trick to attempt - but it worked, didn’t it? You were only a few minutes away from…It finally clicked - and when you’ve looked at the endless lines of numbers and letters once more, they suddenly made sense in the way you would have never expected. The cipher would simply reveal no valuable information, it never could have, and the sooner you accepted that as a fact, the sooner you would start actually making progress. But if the cipher was not hiding a single thing, what were you to do now? Were you to remain here and try and find something useful in the other entries? In that case, the sun was beginning to go down - you would do well to prepare yourself for spending the night in the wilderness. Was it, perhaps, time for you to return and either confront the man, or seek his hidden letters? Or, you’ve pondered to yourself as your fingers idly played with the bloodstone amulet on your neck, it was time to involve outside forces?>[Write-in]
>>5150049>It's about time that Church and I had a chat.First, we need a fresh perspective on... everything, really, we've become too focused on one lead when there are others to explore. Second, unless we were sloppy, there's no proof that we broke into Mercer's house or even witnesses to attest to it, and 'I went to meet with Church about evil warlock stuff' gives us a splendid alibi that nobody (sans one hermit dwarf) could really dispute if he corroborates it. Third, Church was probably looking for someone to take Jarad's place when we conveniently fell onto his lap, so we'd be able to net important details about the situation that Mercer seems to have omitted.
>>5150049>I think it's past time we return and present our findings to the Duke
>>5150724>seconding thisI do not trust church
>>5150715Supporting this too. The question will be how we actually approach Church - I don't think we should open with revealing we have Mercer's diary & grimoire, but we still need something nuicy so we aren't just going to him to ask for info for nothing.
>>5151463Right. We should probably approach him as if we want to take him up on his offer (which, we probably do, to strengthen our position in the Wake which will benefit us no matter what our long-term goal is), and see if we can learn anything about the situation that way first.
I think my ID changed.Anyways, I've been too busy to really sit down and think about what I want to do next or to properly go over what we've discovered so far so as to know what to do next.I did have the thought that involving Church may not play to our advantage depending on Mercer and Church's true allegiance. If Mercer is actually loyal to the duke and is anti-Shadow Council, then we probably wouldn't want Church to know without being sure Church isn't loyal to the SC. Also, if what Lynestra believes about the cipher just being one big distraction is true and not just the QM prodding us to try another angle for variety's sake then the whole point of going to Church to help with the cipher is pointless to begin with.But, I also don't want to go to the duke yet, I don't think we've discovered anything damning, and our own behaviour is not really within what most would consider acceptable bounds considering our lack of results.I think we should either camp in the wilderness and try and regain our FPs by sleeping and give the diary and the other books another crack, or we should look for the letters. We could also interview Halligan or Church for more clues regarding Mercer or try and find more witnesses to the moments before Jarad's death.There are probably other good options, but I haven't had time to review the all the posts involving our investigation of the books or stuff just prior to it.
>>5151670The cipher realization is true, you've succeeded on the final check. It is a complete waste of time, and you did waste some hours on it.If the tie is not broken by tomorrow, I'll roll a tiebreaker. This is a big decision.
>>5151670There are a lot of things that Church can help us with, though. Covering our ass after we broke into someone's house, for one, though we should avoid explicitly mentioning anything related to the truth of that if possible. There's also the matter of the ritual, which we haven't puzzled out, and the fact that looking into Jarad's death has gotten us more dirt on Mercer than information about the person we're actually supposed to be investigating so far.Even if he's completely drunk on the Shadow Council's Kool-Aid, he's also the one that inducted us to occupy the cushy position of his erstwhile comrade at the exclusion of actual established members of the Wake, meaning that he's at least marginally invested in building a cooperative relationship with us.
When I have the time today I'll go over our investigation so far and either try and persuade anons into a new direction or cast a tiebreaker vote, assuming someone else doesn't.I will say that as it stands right now if I had to choose between the two leading votes I'd vote to go see Church, I really don't think we could adequately explain ourselves to the duke with our still meagre social skills and no Fate Points.
>>5150049I'll support meeting Church first, and if possible, return the diary if Mercer has not realized that it was stolen.
>>5150049Well, I've gone over our investigation. There are a few things we could do still with the books we have, though they probably involve either hiding in the wilderness or going to see Church to get some help or a hiding spot. We still have to cross-reference the demon names we found in the journal with Jarad's grimoire. We never actually explicitly tested Theory D regarding if Jarad's grimoire was tampered with, we choose to look for stuff regarding Theory B which involved learning about Jarad's and Mercer's skill levels in Fel magic, so there is that to do. So, those are the things we still have to do regarding the books, that and we still have to examine those symbols in the books and the torn out page.We could also try and find evidence of Jarad's direct murder. This would probably involve interviewing people, Halligan, Church, the kin of Buckley, Haraldsen, and Miller, (the guys that died with Jarad) perhaps some others. The relatives or friends of the guys with Jarad could hypothetically have been the killers, assuming Jarad intended his ritual to be a secret, the friends and relatives of the guys with him would be some of the only people who knew where they were going and thus making it likely that either they were the killers or they told someone who would then go on to kill Jarad, I doubt it though. Church and Halligan being obvious Shadow Council connections, perhaps some internal political struggle or personal rivalry resulted in Jarad's death. We'd probably have to return the books though so as not to be caught with them or forced to prematurely end our investigation and explain ourselves to the duke.We could also change our goal. Instead of finding justice we could change our goal to trying to get rid of Mercer or to ally with him. If we chose to get rid of him, we could forge his handwriting and write incriminating things in his journal. Alternatively we could ally with him against the SC. Since we seem destined to clash with the SC, it'd be a good move if only we could overcome our mutual distrust and dislike of one another, it'd also smooth over the problem of having to make our case to the duke if we could come to an accord with Mercer.Finally, if we do go to the duke then I think we should be honest. Don't try and incriminate Mercer, just reveal we didn't find anything indicating Mercer killed Jarad, that Mercer is a warlock wannabe and a spymaster, etc. Our own behaviour is incriminating but not horribly so, just a little B&E and temporary theft, the Syndicate probably do worse to each other on the daily.As for my vote...>Go see Church, we could use his help and now would be a good time to find out if we can trust him and where his loyalties lie. We also need a safe spot to continue researching these books.
Although you’ve struggled over the decision for some time, in the end the only thing that made sense was making contact with Church. While you could endlessly agonize of whether or not he’s trustworthy or not, it wasn’t as if you were going to wed the man - you only needed to find out what he knew, what he didn’t, what did he think about Jarad’s death, and he did not necessarily have to be told about anything that could incriminate you in any way, or reveal your hand. But how would you go about contacting him? You were only vaguely aware of where he would be right now - Church seemed like a busybody, who’d not spend every waking hour by his lord’s side. How were you to ever know…Of course. The bloodstone amulet! Your fingers fished out the necklace from your pocket, and without much thinking you would let it rest on your neck. You’ve had some understanding of how this particular artifact worked - the Argus Wake would never entrust the secret communications of their order to something any layman could use, like a magic mirror. No, you needed a spark of fel to awaken it - and this was such an easy task for someone of your skill, it barely took any effort at all. Your gut feeling proved right - the red gemstone encrusted into the necklace gleamed briefly, as it was stirred awake. It still failed to provide you with any useful effect, so you’ve sighed and muttered:“Find me Godfrey Church.”The eerie gleam of bloodstone did not react with a shimmer, and no ripples went across its surface. You bit your tongue, thinking: if there was any command word or ritual required to use it, you would surely be told - besides, answering the summons of that forsaken sorcerer ere did not require much from you at all. There had to be a simple solution, something that you were expected to understand on the intuitive level.“Akris nor…”, the foul sounds of eredun, the tongue of demons, came from your lips.To anyone else, it would appear that you were chanting a magic spell - perhaps trying to bring another profane unholiness into the forest of Alterac, but this impression would be far from accurate. While the words of eredun did inherently carry more power within them than your native tongue, the only thing you were really trying to do was repeat the request you’ve just uttered in a different language. Whether or not it worked was dubious - as you did not even manage to finish your utterance - but it did provoke some sort of a reaction.
>>5153256Bright, fiery letters were beginning to emerge on the surface of the stone - even looking at it from the above, you could make out the very familiar shapes of demonic letters. Lifting up the amulet and turning it around to see - and then bringing it closer, as the letters were particularly small - you’ve read:“I seek to buy soul shards at a fair price in coin or chattel.”“Nok.”, you’ve muttered with some amusement, and shook your head, in case the amulet could sense and understand your gestures.Quickly, the letters would fade away, and instead new ones would be burnt into the surface - just like before, in the demonic tongue there was written something along the lines of:“A coven of two needs assistance to slay sir Raleigh of Southshore in a raid. The loot will be divided according to the master’s will.”Intriguing - or maybe deplorable, depending on who this man was, but that wasn’t really your concern right now. Instead, you blinked and shook your head again:“Nok.”Another moment has passed, and another writing was beginning to emerge:“At the bidding of councillor Iresoul, I seek an orc female, wife of one Mankrik. Has anyone knowledge of her?”“Nok!”, you’ve spat out, frustration beginning to sound in your voice. “Akris nor Church!”This time around, it has taken longer for the bloodstone to flare with new letters - several long seconds, the amulet has spent in the muted pondering.“Priestess Delanera?”“Nok!”, you clenched your teeth together and growled out. “Church! Godfrey!”“Godric Hersch?”“Have you lost your wits, damn trinket?! This one is not even similar!”, you threw one of your hands up in the air. “Church!”“The hierophant commands: if you seek action against the Church of Holy Light…”, the eredun runes began to emerge. You did not let the amulet to even finish spelling out the message.“GOD. FREY. CHURCH.”, you felt your hands trembling lightly. If the magic of the amulet did not begin showing you the image of the human in the very next moment, you had every intention of shattering the accursed thing against the rocks.
>>5153263The pregnant pause between the trinket and you gave you time to breathe in deeply and try to calm yourself down - just a little. You did not succeed - but it did distract you for long enough, as eventually the amulet must have either sensed its doom approach, or it finally managed to hear you. It did not conjure the man’s image - not did it even sound with his voice, but you could almost hear it as you’ve read the fiery letters:“Oh, it’s you. Not gracing me with your visage, I see. Did I displease you somehow?”So he did not see you - but it was something that you could potentially do. Well, you were not about to outright tell him that you could not figure out the device. With a force of will, you’ve engraved his own amulet with the following non-answer:“Your amulets are horrid.”“We know.”, Church responded very quickly. You could almost sense the somber resignation emanating from those letters. “Now, to what do I owe the pleasure?”“It’s too long to explain.”, you’ve answered through the amulet. >Can you meet me near Strahnbrad, presently?>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?You hummed to yourself then, and added:>It's about Jarad and his demise.>It's about Mercer. I think he's plotting something.>We have a few things to discuss about the Argus Wake.>Itt's about the grimoire you wanted. I have it.>It's about Strahnbrad, and our dealings there.>It's a very urgent social call.>I've added nothing. I'm mysterious that way.>[Write-in]
>>5153280>Can you meet me near Strahnbrad, presently? >It's about Jarad and his demise.
>>5153263Is the universe so cruel and spiteful that it reduces us to comedy routines with a derpy bauble's pseudo-AI?>>5153280>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?If anything we need a place to seclude ourselves that does not involve us prematurely encountering the duke or Mercer and being forced to relinquish our stolen literature or explaining ourselves before we have solved this mystery. That certainly rules out staying here.>It's about Jarad and his demise.I don't think we need to reveal anything more to at least get his attention. Though I'm sure he'd be more eager if we revealed we have Jarad's grimoire, we need that for evidence and I'm not willing to give it up even to get on Church's good side until we present our case.I think we should keep our goals in mind. While it'd be nice to get involved in whatever business Church thought we'd have together or to have a nice social call or to get on his good side with the grimoire, we are solving the issue of who killed Jarad first and foremost. That probably involves finding out what Church knows and/or spending time seeing if Jarad's grimoire was tampered with or examining the torn out page of Mercer's book.If we can I'd like to avoid letting it slip just how badly we may or may not suspect that Mercer killed Jarad until we are sure he did or how much he hates the Wake. I wouldn't want to get Mercer targeted if he turns out to be innocent, as he could be a useful ally against the Shadow Council.It'd also be nice to get an inkling of how loyal Church is to the Shadow Council, but we can't do everything on our sudden meeting. That is, if we even can meet.The joke about this being a very urgent social call is tempting to make though.
>>5153421>Is the universe so cruel and spiteful that it reduces us to comedy routines with a derpy bauble's pseudo-AI?Yes.
>>5153462Why us though? Why not those damn Scryers or Mercer? We deserve better!
>>5153491this is a lie, we are an elf we deserve everything we get>>5153280>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?>It's about Jarad and his demise.
>>5153280>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?>We have a few things to discuss about the Argus Wake.
>>5153280>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?>It's about Jarad and his demise.
>>5153280>>I need to meet you, urgently. Where are you?>>I've added nothing. I'm mysterious that way.The urgency should be enough!
“I need to meet you, urgently.”, your next sending spelled out. “It’s about Jarad.”Church did not respond for some time - you imagined, he was distracted - using the amulet was quite intensive on the mind. You used the brief window given to you to look around yourself - was there anything worth being distracted by yourself? An armed patrol, perhaps, or a search party looking for some lost literature? Nothing of the kind - not yet, at least. You’ve darted your eyes back to the gemstone, and a moment later, fiery letters would emerge on its murky surface.“What about the old man?”You huffed. The warlock was incredibly good at becoming tiresome quickly - and if he was aiming for beating his previous record, this inane question was a good start.“His untimely death.”, you reminded. Then, without giving him breathing space, you continued. “Where are you right now? I will meet you there.”After some time more, the burning message of your about to be co-conspirator has appeared once again:“I still can’t feel half of my body, and she wants directions. Alright - you know where Strahnbrad is by now. Ride out to the south from it and past Tarren Mill. It’s not too bad if you get spotted - you have the right face.”By that he meant, of course, the fact that the forsaken patrols have no reason to suspect your allegiance to either Argus Wake, or the Syndicate. You looked like their ally. After a second more, another piece of writing from Church came:“Then keep moving east past the dwarven fortress and through Thoradin’s wall - if you’ve slept under a rock in the last few years, it’s wrecked and unguarded right now. After you pass it, pretty much the first fork on the road to the north, and you’ll see a manor. We’re there.”By “we” you assume he meant a contingent of either the Argus Wake, or Falconcrest’s faction of the Syndicate. Perhaps, both. “Is it the first fork then, or ‘pretty much’ the first fork?”, you’ve inquired with exasperation.“I think it’s the second fork.”, he confessed swiftly. “Don’t fret yourself, you won’t miss the place.”“Why won’t I miss it?”, you demanded, but no answer came - not after a moment, not after a minute.You narrowed your eyes, giving the amulet a suspicious glance. A command in eredun flew from your lips, but it found no response from the gem - it was spent, barely a spark of magic was left within the bloodstone amulet after your brief chat. The only way Jarad could hear from you now would be if you screamed really, really loudly.“You’ve made a powerful enemy today, trinket.”, you exhaled through your nose.
You've had your directions then - and unless you were missing something, they sounded risky, but not particularly so. Men like Church would have to make that trip all the time, and he was fine enough to at least hold an amulet right now. It was only the matter of how you approach it.>[Exertion] If I’m to ride, I’m to ride with flair - again. The gnolls and brigands will flee at the sight of my terrible steed - this time, definitely.>[Prudence] Don’t bother hiding and chat up the forsaken patrols on my way instead, should I meet any.>[Twilight] Dwarven fortress and a forsaken outpost? Let’s try to avoid any undue attention. >[Movement] I’ll ride like the wind. It will save time, and whatever obstacles I’ll face will simply be left in the dust. >On the second thought, let’s not meet Church. It’s a fool’s errand.
>>5157358>>[Prudence] Don’t bother hiding and chat up the forsaken patrols on my way instead, should I meet any.
>>5157358>[Prudence] Don’t bother hiding and chat up the forsaken patrols on my way instead, should I meet any.It is tempting to cut loose and ride with style, though.
>>5157358>[Prudence] Don’t bother hiding and chat up the forsaken patrols on my way instead, should I meet any.Getting a better lay of the land and having a nice chat never hurt anyone, hopefully.
>>5157358>[Exertion] If I’m to ride, I’m to ride with flair - again. The gnolls and brigands will flee at the sight of my terrible steed - this time, definitely.
>>5157358>>[Exertion] If I’m to ride, I’m to ride with flair - again. The gnolls and brigands will flee at the sight of my terrible steed - this time, definitely.
Rolled 5, 2, 4, 6 = 17 (4d6)The decision seems to have been made...(Prudence +3)
Rolled (1d00)This roll is of no concern to you.
Rolled 3, 2 = 5 (2d10)Let's try that again.
would have voted for Extertion, but probably best I didnt get the chance too as it would have lead to another stalemate situation.What wonderful numbers, pic very much related
>>5158896I think we succeeded though or did we not
EX 2, MOV 2, TWI 1, PRU 3, MND 2, DZL 1Stress: UnmovedConsequences: Walking on the sunshine.Fate Points: 0Thoradin's wall was one of the most ancient structures on the continent - at least, of those built by men. Once upon a time, a great king ordered it built to shield humanity from trolls - and the wall served that purpose wonderfully. Nowadays, however, it was considered to be more of a monument than a plausible defensive structure. A monument of what exactly, was a point of contention - and you’ve thought to yourself, that you can only make your own conclusion once you see it with your own eyes. In order to reach it, however, you would have to ride for quite a while. First - down from the Alterac mountains, where you were likely to encounter ogres, harpies and Syndicate men in equal measure - and you were not quite certain who you were mere wary of. Your demonic steed could have warded some of them off, signifying you as too dangerous of a target, should you have laid on theatricity a bit more - but after the last time, you were worried about losing focus in the excitement and falling into a heap of trouble instead of scaring it away. In the end, your fears were all for naught - while you did encounter a few Syndicate men, who came out of their ambush as a sign of good will, they did not seem to have any interest in you whatsoever, seemingly recognizing you as an agent of the Argus Wake. Although being shot in the back was still a valid possibility - one you watched out for - it also ended up just a paranoid phantasm that failed to materialize into reality. Also to mention, you’ve noticed that the fiery hooves of your demonic beast made curious prints in the snow, so you slowed down for a bit to observe them more closely.This little curiosity came to an end as soon as you’ve left the snow of the mountaintops behind and began descending into what you’ve known as the Hillsbrad foothills. That, perhaps, was the most perilous part of your journey. To the south of the road laid a dwarven fortress - and while the war was over, at the sight of you the more old-fashioned of the mountain folk might just have decided to shoot anyway. To the north was Tarren Mill - and while the forsaken were nominally the allies of your people… Well, your heated political discussion with Angus the Wildhammer made your thoughts on this particular alliance clear. Forsaken were quite notable for, calling it politely, aggressive foreign policy. It was understandable at the beginning - once the Butcher King has lost control over his undead legions, they found new warlords to follow and immediately began slaughtering each other.
The forsaken were the victorious faction, one led by the so called Banshee Queen - formerly an elf much like you - and somehow, through means you still did not quite understand, she’s led her people into the ranks of the orcish Horde. The free undead have spent some time securing the lands they already owned and purging internal enemies - although the initial reports allowed in by the regent-lord were vague, you’ve definitely heard some news about the second attempt at an uprising against their overlord (there was a jape to be made about how the undead were revolting, but in the current circumstances your sens of humor was failing you).However, once the internal matters were disposed of, the forsaken have turned to the external matters - and that’s when a veteran of the Sun King’s army in you began finding some news concerning. The forsaken no longer were content sitting in their own lands and rotting away in peace - instead, they’ve used the new war of orcs and humans to expand into Stromgarde and northern Lordaeron, butchering the living and raising them into undeath. The drums of the regent lord’s propaganda never lost their triumphant beat, as the news kept arriving one after another - the forsaken take Southshore! The forsaken take Andorhal! The forsaken annex Stromgarde and place a new king on the throne - long may he remain dead! Maybe you were simply too old-fashioned to accept the undeath as a new way of life. Or maybe you didn’t know all the things the Regent knows. But every time you’ve heard about a place that Kael’thas fought to liberate from the Scourge falling to undead again, you wondered if he - and you - would have even bothered, had you known.Tarren Mill was now within your sight, and although it was still a distant silhouette, you couldn’t help but notice what a far cry it was from a little lordaeronian town it once was. Newly built walls and towers rose from the ground, suggesting that this once insignificant place now had immense strategic value - and that the Banshee’s forsaken were stronger and more present in this region than ever before. “Present indeed.”, echoed in your head, once you saw two riders, armed and armored. They bore Sylvanas’ colors - and right now, that meant only one thing. An opportunity to fish for information.
“Hail, deathguards.”, you spoke, your hand raised.The undead soldiers were three - two males and a female, and each of them rode a skeletal horse, armored same as they were. They were here on patrol, and seemed to have only a mild interest in you before you slowed down to meet them. The two in the back seemed like grunts - one, much like his steed, was reduced to barely more than a skeleton, while the female seemed to have been stitched together from different bodies. The third of them you immediately recognized as an officer, although a low-ranking one - so you focused your attention on him and his boil-covered face.“Hail, living one.”, the dead man spoke back to you, his jaw clicking back into place each time he finished a word. He inspected your steed for a moment, and although he did not seem phased by it whatsoever, he did briefly and sincerely (although very dryly) compliment it before getting back to business. “Nice horse. What business does a blood elf have in this land?”“Magister Dawnstrider from the Silvermoon city.”, you’ve introduced yourself calmly.You were barely even deceiving him. The deathguard had no reason to suspect you of anything, he had no clue (or even any real interest in) who you are, nor could he have possibly known about you being a fugitive in your homeland. It was all a matter of keeping your calm, never speaking too much or too little and not seeming afraid of anything - him, for example. Church was right - as long as you were careful, nothing bad could have possibly come out of this conversation.“I…”Well, what was the general gist of your story?>I’m a servant of the state, I’m here to survey the lands and gather intelligence.>I’m an adventurer. I’ve heard the Horde is in need of assistance in this region, and I’m here to help in any way I can.>I’m a treasure seeker. I’m here to kill and rob the outlaws of the Syndicate for easy and entirely lawful profit.>I’m a political dissident seeking refuge in Hammerfall, as is my legal right.>I'm a scholar. I'm here to inspect troll ruins. Would the deathguards be interested in hearing about troll history? It's very fascinating.>I’m serving a private interest and investigating the rumors of Stromgarde fielding death knights.>I’m in a coven, and I’m riding to Stromgarde to meet its other members. How lucky am I that the war is long over!>My reasons here are personal. I’m on a revenge quest against the dwarves of Dun Garok.
>>5159107I don't think any option that might indicate we may be an independent trouble-causer or some sort of less legitimate sort is wise. I personally think either indicating we are an intelligence agent from the homeland or choosing an option that would lead us to discuss a specific topic of interest for us is wiser.Saying we are an intelligence agent could potentially net us a wide latitude and cooperation with these guys, though it may cause trouble down the line for us if our story ever comes into conflict with someone else or they find us working for Alterac.The other option I see as being worthwhile is saying we are curious about the rumours of death knights working for Stromgarde, though that may invite questions into who the private interest we are working for is.I guess saying we are in a coven could lead into info about how safe (or not) Stromgarde is and the nature of any conflicts there as the Forsaken will probably correct us if we aren't right.Boring these guys to death (heh) with trivia about troll history sounds like it would be funny, and it makes perfect sense with our high Prudence to be knowledgeable in such matters.I am a bit confused on who controls Stromgarde and the capital city specifically at this moment. I recall a prior conversation with the duke and his advisors regarding Danath Trollbane leading Stromgarde, but if this is just after MoP does he actually control the territory and the capital specifically at this point? The wikia doesn't seem to indicate as such but maybe I just need to read more closely.>I’m a servant of the state, I’m here to survey the lands and gather intelligence.
>>5159107I would like to pretend to be a scholar, but troll ruins seem difficult to believe from a blood elf.Similarly bringing up death knights is just asking to get us involved in some kind of shenanigans.So yeah I am gonna go with the us seeking revenge story, since that is close to the truth with the only outright lie being the target of our anger.>My reasons here are personal. I’m on a revenge quest against the dwarves of Dun Garok.
>>5159107>I'm a scholar. I'm here to inspect troll ruins. Would the deathguards be interested in hearing about troll history? It's very fascinating.For you see, nearly three millennia ago, the noble Quel'dorei, joined by their human allies, fought a decisive battle against the Amani trolls at the base of the Alterac Mountains...
>>5159107>>I’m a treasure seeker. I’m here to kill and rob the outlaws of the Syndicate for easy and entirely lawful profit.
>>5159566Stromgarde city is controlled by Danath Trollbane - the rightful king returned and took the city, and some other places as well, back. Also, this came up a couple of times - Prudence doesn't necessarily mean knowledge about different cultures and histories (that's Mind Palace), it's more so about engaging different people (mostly high society) in a careful manner and behaving yourself. "Careful" is actually the keyword with Prudence - if whatever you're doing can be described by it, you're probably doing something governed by that stat.
>>5160156Ah, good to know.I was mostly going off Prudence being cultural knowledge from the description in thread one about "navigating maps, cultures, etiquette". My bad.
>>5159107>I’m in a coven, and I’m riding to Stromgarde to meet its other members. How lucky am I that the war is long over!
>>5159107>My reasons here are personal. I’m on a revenge quest against the dwarves of Dun Garok.Guess I'll have to break the five way tie.
>>5159107I'll switch to...>I'm a scholar. I'm here to inspect troll ruins. Would the deathguards be interested in hearing about troll history? It's very fascinating.
Rolled 1 (1d2)Tiebreaker, go!
“...I’m from the Falthrien Academy.”, you’ve answered then. “Far from home, I khow, but there’s many uses for a learned woman, even here.”“Ah.”, the deathguard in the front nodded to you understandingly. “You’re here to help with our alchemical arsenal? Very well, then. We can escort you right to the apothecaries.”Answering “yes” to this question would not only distract you from your journey even further than this momentary distraction has, it would also expose you as a fraud within about ten minutes or so.“Ah, no.”, you shook your head. “While I wish your Royal Apothecary Society nothing but success in their research, they’re working hard day and night to protect us, I fear that my area of specialization would not be of much help to them.”The skeletal forsaken tapped his boney chin then, before clacking:“I think I’ve heard of your academy. It trains wizard, doesn’t it? You’ve filled your pretty head with books, and now you’re here to use it to destroy our enemies. That explains the horse too. You’re here to burn the Syndicate to a crisp?”Again, agreeing with him meant begging to be conscripted into the Banshee’s war effort. And while there existed circumstances in which that would be desirable, this was not the time and place:“Don’t let my steed deceive you.”, you nodded to him then. “Although my expertise in the dark arts is great, in these times I use my 'pretty head' for peace, not war. In short, I’m no mercenary.”“Peace..?”, the forsaken mouthed skeptically, looking you over.The trio of horsemen and you shared a few moments of silence, looking each other over, and you were just about to open your mouth and finally deliver an answer, when the woman suddenly raised her head:“Hold on a moment!”, she narrowed her faintly glowing eyes. A gravely growl was suddenly “It all makes sense now! I know exactly who you are, elf.”You’ve felt a cold drop of sweat rolling down your back all the sudden. A sudden urge to glance at her in a panicked way was born somewhere in your reptile brain, and you immediately strangled it.“Do you?”, you inquired calmly.“That architect the Hammerfall dregs wanted.”, she spat out. “Entire Kalimdor is not enough for orcs - they want to settle here too. Here to make Lordaeron a better place for the living, eh?”Again, you’ve killed a sigh of relief about to leave your lungs. And although answering “yes” would end this conversation immediately, you’ve felt compelled to deny the accusation - there was too much hostility in her tone of voice.“If only in a very roundabout way, perhaps. I fear the warchief’s subjects in Hammerfall will have to wait for a while longer - I’m no architect either. I use my knowledge to help people in a subtler way.”The forsaken glanced at each other, sharing dumbfounded looks.
“Well, spit it out then!”, the officer turned to you and demanded. “Who are you?”“I’m a historian. I’m here to learn about the past of this land, so the grandsons will not repeat the mistakes of their grandfathers.”There was some feeling of things left unspoken left in the air, so you’ve quickly added:“I’m here to find out more about the local trolls.”“Trolls?”, the leader of the dead men cast an incredulous look at you.“Trolls.”, you’ve confirmed with a firm nod.“Trolls?”, the female forsaken blinked in the back.“Repeating your question will not change my answer, deathguard.”, you’ve raised your chin. “But it carries a risk of making this already tedious conversation last until the next dawn.”“What use is a demon horse in researching trolls?”, the woman deathguard inquired.“It’s quicker than walking.”“Why… Trolls?”, the skeletal forsaken inquired. “They’re savages, they live in tents, they eat each other, and thanks to our efforts, they’re nearly extinct. What more there’s to know?”“You better be talking about the forest branch of ther kind, private.”, the officer turned and cussed at his subordinate. “I won’t have you talking about our allies that way, in front of our other allies.”“Sorry, sir.”, the skeleton clacked. “I didn’t mean the Darkspear tribe, of course. I have a lot of respect for them and their fascinating culture, and I love them like brothers, each and every one.”“Much better.”, the leader of the patrol glanced at you again there. “He has a good point, however. What’s there to know about these savages?”“I’m very glad you asked.”, you nodded readily. “Many people dismiss the Troll Wars as something only important as the beginning in the history of human-elf diplomacy, or the history of human magecraft. But the Amani trolls are actually quite fascinating in their own right, with - indeed - vibrant culture and ancient traditions, many of which actually date back to the times of the war and are still present now. FOR YOU SEE…”“No!”, the horseman raised his hand then. “No, no. I know that tone of yours, living one. If I don’t shut you up right now, you’re going to talk for hours. I’m right, aren’t I? You look like the sort that just keeps gabbing and gabbing with no end in sight. You’re the sort that does it every single time.”“It only happened once or twice, actually.”, you mumbled to the side.“Well, we’re not a patrol here, not a lecture. So nevermind my question. How about you tell us what do you want, so we can keep doing our duty to the Queen, and you can go on and get eaten?”>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>I’ve been thinking about giving a lecture in Stromgarde, a human city. How are our relations after the war?>I’ve been accosted by brigands who call themselves the Syndicate. Anything you can tell me about them?>Do I detect some tension between you and the Horde from Hammerfall?>I want to know more about Tarren Mill and what you do here.>[Write-in]
>>5162826>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>I’ve been accosted by brigands who call themselves the Syndicate. Anything you can tell me about them?Really I just want to know if they are going to attack the Syndicate from the south. I don't want our new found friends to be caught unawares considering their fears of being attack by the Forsaken.I don't think we'll learn anything about the Death Knights through the Strom angle given the cover we chose to go with. Kind of a waste of an opportunity to be honest, but at least we'll probably be seen as innocuous, and if we have to bumble around in any tombs when we choose to look for artifacts with the Wake then we should have a good excuse among these folk.
>>5162826>>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>>I’ve been thinking about giving a lecture in Stromgarde, a human city. How are our relations after the war?
>>5162826>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>I’ve been accosted by brigands who call themselves the Syndicate. Anything you can tell me about them?
>>5162826>>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>>I’ve been accosted by brigands who call themselves the Syndicate. Anything you can tell me about them?
>Are there any dangers that await me on the road?>I’ve been accosted by brigands who call themselves the Syndicate. Anything you can tell me about them?
“Well, there’s nothing you can help me with right now…”, you muttered then.“Splendid. Then we will be on our wa…”, the forsaken officer began, but you were not about to let him finish.“...but I could have certainly used some help when I was accosted by brigands in orange masks. Syndicate, I believe? They’ve made me a pay a toll for passing through their territory, and it seemed to me like they have a free reign over these parts. I’ve thought you were supposed to make the roads safe.”“Our roads.”, the officer cut you off. “The queen’s dominion does not spread into Alterac’s mountains.”“Yet.”, the female in the back chuckled at her own words, as if it was the funniest thing in the world. “Yet.”“...you want to get back home safely, your highness, take a boat or a zeppelin. Alterac belongs to them, and the Plaguelands… Well, the Plaguelands are the Plaguelands. It will be a decade at least until they’re tamed - tamed for our kind, not yours.”“That’s disappointing.”, you’ve frowned. “One region that truly needs to be scoured of the living, and you’re not going to do it? You’ll just… What, let them have Hillsbrad?”“Watch your tongue, living one.”, he spat. “They don’t have Hillsbrad, the Forsaken do. The Banshee Queen allows them to exist for now, because they’re barely an inconvenience to us, but a major source of pain for Strom. When something changes, so will our approach. It’s smart, I would have done the same in her place. So stick to your trolls and leave strategy to your betters.”“Alright.”, you raised your hands in a gesture of peace and shook your head. “So, the Syndicate is… Well, it’s behind me now. Is there anything I should watch out for?”“Syndicate again.”, the skeleton from the back clacked.“Again?”“Again!”, he replied merrily.“This faction is led by some Falconcrest character.”, the patrol leader answered to you unnecessarily. Maybe despite his harsh exterior, just like you, he hasn’t had a real conversation in a while. “They say he’s a lord, although that’d surprise me. He and his ilk are vicious, and it’s a good thing. He has a real grudge against Trollbane, and keeps hounding Stromgarde like a hungry wolf. I even hear that he actually held the city for some time.”“He held Stromgarde?”, you inquired.“Yes, but it was before Trollbane somehow returned, even before we took it. Before I was stationed here too, so I don’t know all the details. Anyway, he lost it now, but he’s still at war with Stromgarde, as I understand it.”“And it’s good for you, because the enemy of your enemy…”, you didn’t bother finishing, knowing that he would.
“Now you’re getting it. Falconcrest’s a bastard, and we’ll kill him and his ilk due time - but he doesn’t go out of the way to target us, and we do the same. Because if there’s one thing we can agree on, Stromgarde’s the real problem. They say they’re independent and not part of the Alliance, but they keep getting and sending volunteers and keep squatting on Forsaken lands thanks to Alliance’s patronage.”Oh, it’s their lands now.“Why don’t you just crush them like bugs?”, you’ve blinked. “...stick to your trolls.”, the officer sighed audibly, before feeling inexplicably oblieged to explain. “We’re in a cold war with them. Slaughter a patrol every once in a while, have a border skirmish. We make it a hot war, we take it to their walls, and Alliance takes it personally.”“I’ve thought that Stromgarde’s not part of the Alliance.”, you pointed out. “That would be a violation of the treaty.”“I hate to break it to you, living one, but they won the war. The treaty is just a formalized humiliation, it means whatever they want it to mean, and it doesn’t stop them from doing whatever they want. And what they want is for Stromgarde to go back to the living, and for us to just quietly disappear from the region. Or even better - from everywhere. I hear that there’s a human movement for retaking Lordaeron - the kingdom, our kingdom - and giving it back to the living refugees and their descendands. They fled our land, while we died for it. What claim do they have?”“I admit, I can relate.”, you muttered in response.“Mark my words, in some five years humans will come here to scorch us all from our lands. In the name of great justice and greater good, of course, because calling it genocide would be rude.”, the officer spat on the ground.A silence stood between you for a moment, before you inquired.“So, do I have to stay clear of stromics too, if there’s a cold war?”, you inquired. “With your face? Count yourself lucky, you may even get to enter the city itself. They’ll watch you like hawks, of course, and clap you in irons for spying, if you don’t restrain your endless curiosity there, but you can probably enter and do some business.”“Like in the good old times.”, you sighed.“There were no good old times.”, the female forsaken scoffed. “So, are we done now?”>I suppose we’re done.>There’s something else, actually…
>>5168591>I suppose we’re done.
>>5168591>>I suppose we’re done.
>>5168591>I suppose we’re done.None of this is really news, but hearing it straight from the horse's mouth makes me feel like our chances of coming out on top of this whole Syndicate situation are slim to none. If it's not Strom, then it's the Shadow Council, and if it's not the Shadow Council, it's the Forsaken. We still have plenty of business to finish in Alterac, but giving some serious thought to an exit strategy would be wise.
>>5168827From a practical point of view I agree, but storywise I don't think that is the best option. We've spent practically the entire quest so far in Alterac getting to know these characters and trying to earn trust and find a place to fit in. I don't particularly fancy abandoning it. I'd like to think that if we can strengthen Alterac and support a unifer we could absolutely change canon and make a strong unaligned Alterac, or at least make an Alterac that is strong enough to force the various powers to the negotiating table rather than just steamrolling Alterac to have a stronger position on the map against their adversaries.Plus, there is still the chance for us to obtain one of those artifacts the Shadow Council is looking for, with one or more of them we could probably create any number of canon changes and force any opposition to heel.That being said, if Alterac doesn't work out then so be it, there is the rest of the setting to explore. Initially in the first thread I posited that we could simply obtain some starting capital and contacts in Alterac before moving on and then move between places using those contacts as necessary.Still, I think we were just finding our feet here in Alterac, we explored our backstory through dreams and write-in choices, we chose our goal to find love, it seems a waste to just abandon the characters we know because some grunts told us what we already know both in and out of character. We knew Alterac was screwed in canon, if we didn't want to stay then we probably should've left in the first or second thread.
>>5169204Oh, I do think we should stay. Things actually seem to be going pretty well at the moment, and there's still plenty to be done Alterac. I'm more referring to building up a nest egg so that we'll have a way out if everything goes up in smoke than actively looking to leave.
“Well… I suppose we’re done here.”, you nodded then and took the reins of your steed once more. “My thanks, deathguards.”“Begone.”, the patrol leader answered to you and without a word more, the forsaken and you parted their ways.It did not take long for you to disappear out of each other’s sight, and for Tarren Mill to be left behind as well - but what the dead man told you has stayed with you for the remainder of your journey. With Strom and its death knights, Mercer and his schemings, with Jarad and the Shadow Council, you’ve almost forgotten about the forsaken too. All of the sudden, you’ve found yourself with newfound understanding of why old king Perenolde did what he did. The Syndicate was not merely surrounded by the enemies from all sides - the enemy was already within it also. With the tensions between Aliden Perenolde and lord Falconcrest added to this foul brew, it was a small wonder that they allied with something they knew for a fact to be the Shadow Council. The men of Alterac likely knew all too well, or at least suspected, just what the endgame of Nagaz and his ilk is - but it was better to have a dubious alliance with the dark powers, than no alliances at all. And where did it leave you? The situation did not resemble a sinking ship enough to flee from it just yet - even in the worst case scenario, the Syndicate had some time. But if it all truly came crashing down… What if you didn’t amass enough gold to live like a queen somewhere, where nobody would ask you questions? What would you do? Where would you go? To the goblin cartels, where you’d serve as a glorified mercenary, fighting their oil wars? To Hammerfall, where you would remain and hope that Quel’Thalas respects the Horde’s unwritten traditions enough to not drag you out to face court martial, when you’re inevitably discovered? You were so bothered by these grim thoughts, you almost didn’t notice Thoradin’s wall rise before you until you were right in front of it. You’ve seen it only once before - back when your people were still a part of the Alliance of Lordaeron, fighting to destroy the Scourge and reclaim Lordaeron, your army was traveling through these parts. There was not much fighting to be done on this side of the wall, so you did not linger for too long - but you did stay around long enough to get a good look. Even back then the wall was in a miserable condition. It may have been built to last, and it served its task of protecting against the troll incursions well - but the Burning Legion made short work of it, and it barely slowed them down. Still, many of you marveled at the broken structure, and for a good reason - to this day, it remained the finest achievement of human architecture. You even remembered prince - only a prince back then - Kael’thas stopping by the group of gawking soldiers, you amongst them, and sharing in your wonder. “We will see it all restored.”, he told you all then, and you believed him.
Time and further conflicts saw the wall brought even lower than all those years ago. Nowadays, nobody even bothered to repair and close the gates - what was the point, when the wall had so many wide gaps, several armies could march through at once? It was a small wonder that the Syndicate could slip in and out so easily! In a few of those gaps, you’ve seen some half-hearted attempts to at least build a stockade to close them, but whoever tried it - be it the stromics or the forsaken - they clearly gave up on it a long time ago. Whether they lacked the resources, the manpower or the interest, you could not know. Either way, the great wall of Arathor, its gates once the choke point that separated the foothills from the highlands, now could serve only as a vantage point for adventerous scouts - if they were bold enough to scale it. And a monument. You supposed it served as a monument too. There really was something haunting about these ruins - not beautiful by any means, but something that made you stop in your tracks and take it all in, remember your last time here, and how different it all was back then. This land, the world, elvenkind, you. Earlier, you’ve briefly pondered that once you see it with your own eyes, you would know what do those stones represent. Well, now you have.>It’s a gravestone of the old order. Arathi Empire, the Alliance of Lordaeron, both of them are long gone. Nothing remains of them but some rocks, which the new world cares none for.>It’s a legacy. It’s true that nothing lasts forever, and in time all of us will be gone - but our works will endure. Maybe one day, I will create something that will outlast me, remind the world that I existed.>It’s a scar left by mankind’s hubris. Together with humans, we could have reclaimed the entire continent. Instead, Lordaeron turned on us. We still endure, what’s left of them? >It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.>It’s a symbol of our folly. Our crusade against undead seems unreasoned and naive now - what did we really accomplish? And what did we accomplish after we left this place behind?>It’s a sign of hope. Neither Stromgarde, nor the Forsaken have dominion here. They’re not all-powerful, and not infallible. Alterac might have a future yet.>It’s an omen of the coming strife. This place is too important to be left to history. It may remain abandoned for now, but much blood will be shed for it before long.>These are just old stones. They mean nothing.
>>5169828>It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.
>>5169828>>It’s a scar left by mankind’s hubris. Together with humans, we could have reclaimed the entire continent. Instead, Lordaeron turned on us. We still endure, what’s left of them? >>It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.>It is the spark that ignites fantasies of rebuilding it just for its own sake or as the capstone on our achievement in the hypothetical future where we have created a strong Alterac and found love.We'll build a wall and make the the Stromic people pay for it...or something.
>>5169828>>It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.>>It’s a legacy. It’s true that nothing lasts forever, and in time all of us will be gone - but our works will endure. Maybe one day, I will create something that will outlast me, remind the world that I existed.Melancholy, but with a bit of hope that maybe this time it'll be different.
>>5169828>>It’s a scar left by mankind’s hubris. Together with humans, we could have reclaimed the entire continent. Instead, Lordaeron turned on us. We still endure, what’s left of them?>>It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.
>>5169828>It’s a scar left by mankind’s hubris. Together with humans, we could have reclaimed the entire continent. Instead, Lordaeron turned on us. We still endure, what’s left of them?>It’s a window into the world that made sense. We fought for a good cause, and we’ve done so gladly. Our homeland was proud of us. Then, something went terribly wrong.>It is the spark that ignites fantasies of rebuilding it just for its own sake or as the capstone on our achievement in the hypothetical future where we have created a strong Alterac and found love.
It was a monument to the roads not taken, the what ifs, the might have beens, a million possible worlds that never came to be, because at some junction someone made the wrong turn. Sometimes, it was others - these were the easy turns to see and accept. Much of the blame, after all, could be laid on the foul lordaeronians, who would rather see their lands consumed by the plague than step over their pride. “Consorting with dark powers!”, you remembered a man screaming trumped-up charges at you, your people and your prince. Crimes against the Alliance! The only crime you’ve committed then was achieving an impossible victory for a pack of these detestable rats, when you could have tended to your own! Oh yes, you’ve won the day - pushed the undead back further than was ever thought possible, when outnumbered fifty to one. The humans have thanked you well enough - with dungeon cells for the entire vanguard, and with a chase for everyone who ran the moment they’ve managed to comprehend the terrible betrayal. You were fortunate enough to experience the depth of their gratitude first hand. The tribunal did not even last an hour. The walls of the cell you were thrown in were grey and cracked, much like this relic stretching through the foothills, and you’ve shared it with ten others. Somewhere far away, prince Kael’thas, just like you, was waiting out what he thought to be his final hours. You wished you could say that you remained strong that night, and accepted your fate with dignity. You haven’t. Few have. You’ve known that come next morning, the best you could hope for was to be amidst the first to be hanged - if you were even lucky enough to get such a quick, merciful execution. So when the rescue did come after all, when the doors of your cell were opened, you’ve thought it to be a miracle. Looking back, you knew you were wrong. This was merely another step on the terrible road, which on that day just might have become an inevitability.
What followed after was a desperate escape to another world. More battles on a foreign land, on the orders of someone you’ve never even heard of before. A bold invasion against the undead and their Butcher King - and a humiliating retreat after. Stranger and stranger alliances, one after another. Stranger and stranger wars too. You’ve remembered the first time you began asking yourself questions - it was the first time you’ve spilled the blood of your kind, an elf about your age. He was staring at you with wide open eyes, feeling more betrayed than afraid of what was coming. With his last bit of strength, he lifted his head, looked at you and asked: “Why?”.And you’ve answered: “For our people”. You’ve dreamt of what you’ve done then more than once, and of the words you said to him. It was a terrible thing to do, you knew that well. Whether it was a wrong thing, however, you still weren’t so certain. You didn’t want things to turn out the way they did - but what other choice did you have at the time? Oh, it was so easy to judge the deeds of the Sunhawks from the safety of home and with the benefit of hindsight. But at every point, you’ve done what you’ve thought was right. Were you to let your people starve, just so others could thrive in their stead? Were you to repeat the sins of Lordaeron and turn your nose up at those, who would march with you against a madman who sought to extinguish the world? Were you to allow thieves to take what could have very well been salvation of the elvenkind? Were you to follow some dubious prophecy, instead of the guidance of your own king? Never once in your life have you done anything, intending to shame your homeland or make your people suffer. Every single time, you’ve chosen the right thing.And still, somehow, one day you woke up a villain of the story. How did that even happen? What terrible turn have you made that led you down that road? And what you should have done instead?Maybe it was precisely at this damn wall. Maybe that was the moment you’ve all crossed the rubicon, without ever knowing it. Maybe the moment you’ve reached this very spot, one at which you were standing at this very moment, you should have turned around and gone home.
Well, you didn’t have that option anymore. Your king has died his second and final death. The Sunhawks were finished years ago - you were last one. You probably would never see your home again. And even those efforts you were starting now - this pipe dream of building a nation (a nation of humans of all people!), right now they were looking oh so very dubious. You did not stand at the head of an army, but instead rode into a bandit camp with a bag full of stolen books, trying to achieve some very nebulous goals.This was not the highest point of your life, that much was true. But it was not the lowest either. The fact that you’ve lost before didn’t mean you would keep losing forever. There was hope, there were still cards left to play - promising ones at that, and just like the that evening not so long ago, you could still both win and lose big. So you had to try, you had to keep going, you had to aim higher and higher - not just find survive, but live. Not merely find love, but find yourself a fairy tale happy ending. Restore not just Alterac, but why not this accursed wall too? Why not? Why ever stop?For the alternative was being remembered as being both a villain and a failure of one. The alternative was scurrying and hiding like a rat for your entire life, or lying down in the mud and accepting death. Neither of these choices were choices at all.Instead, you resolved, you were going to win. And the first step on that road was just behind that monument to you.
>Somewhere not here...“This is unnecessary.”, is spoken by someone in a grey cloak, as he’s looking over a wounded man. “We both realize it.”His unwilling company is a human, whose hands begin wriggling in his bindings the moment he hears these words. He gives up soon - it only takes a moment. His strength is spent, and he knows well that the struggle is pointless. He nods slowly, defeated, and opens his mouth. What leaves it is too quiet to hear.“Finally. I’m glad we finally came to an understanding.”, the cloaked man kneels down and gets closer to his companion. “I don’t believe either of us need to hear the question again. Please, go ahead.”A moment passes, and the human’s answer is given. The cloaked figure winces and lifts up his hand to wipe off the spit and blood from his cheek. “...disappointing.”, the cloaked figure mutters under his breath.He throws a glance at the holy symbol hanging from the prisoner’s neck. His lips are pushed together into a thin line.“I can’t say that I don’t admire your defiance, sir.”, he speaks with a genuine nod. “But I also can’t say that I understand it. We’ve both discussed this woman plenty, before things took a turn for the unpleasant. You’ve told us that you sensed her nature well. And this is where I’m losing you. A paladin like you, throwing his life away for someone like that? If you won’t answer anything else, you can at least explain yourself.”The paladin breathes in - it is a difficult, pained, labored breath. Speaking is difficult by now - but he finds the strength.“Yes.”, the human nods barely. “I knew what she was. A glance was enough. The Light has blessed me with that gift.”He lifts his chin then, and stares down the chief of his captors. A grimace of pain fades from his face, if only for a single moment, disappears to give way to an expression of disgust.“I know true evil the moment I see it.”The cloaked figure meets this stare with his own, calm and unimpressed:“No. Not evil. Spare me your fanatical babbling.”, he rises from the ground and exhales. A moment of silent contemplation follows. “I don’t suppose you want one last opportunity to talk?”The paladin’s eyes are an answer enough.“I see.”>Your loyalty to the tenets of your order is admirable. You deserve a clean death.>You’ve wasted far too much of my time to enjoy my mercy. I shall leave you to that of the local fauna. >I’m no butcher. You may live, should you manage to recover your strength. Warn anyone you wish. You'll find it will achieve little.>We have a luxury of time. Let’s see if your feelings on the matter change tomorrow, or the day after.
>>5172718>I’m no butcher. You may live, should you manage to recover your strength. Warn anyone you wish. You'll find it will achieve little.Oooh, POV shift. Someone from the Spire hunting us I guess? And I guess the human is one of Argent Dawn Paladins that escorted us from the beginning in the first thread?Our other flaw is coming into play, and unlike Crippled it hasn't paid dividends for us yet, only gotten this guy on our trail.
>>5172718>We have a luxury of time. Let’s see if your feelings on the matter change tomorrow, or the day after.
>>5172718>You’ve wasted far too much of my time to enjoy my mercy. I shall leave you to that of the local fauna.
>>5172718>>You’ve wasted far too much of my time to enjoy my mercy. I shall leave you to that of the local fauna.Punished Hawk - A Soldier denied her Home
>>5173009Why are we still here? Just to suffer?
>>5172718>>You’ve wasted far too much of my time to enjoy my mercy. I shall leave you to that of the local fauna.
"In the usual circumstances, I would have granted you a quick death.", the cloaked man leans in to tighten the bindings on the paladin's wrists. "But with your stubborn silence, you've thrown this privilege away."He takes a step back to observe his work for a moment. With a slight movement of his leg, he kicks away a sharp rock that could be used to cut the rope. The knight has no way of reaching it, but no chances are to be taken."Your order has made many enemies here, in the Plaguelands.", the interrogator muses idly. "They outnumber you about hundred to one, to my knowledge. I wonder, what are the odds of your battle brothers happening to stumble upon you, before some ghoul smells your fear?"The paladin clenches his teeth. The bindings tighten, but hold. Nothing is said. "No ineffectual death threats?", the cloaked man lifts his eyebrow. "I'm surprised and humbled. Let us hope you'll keep your dignity even when you're eaten feet first."The only answer given is a hateful glare thrown in silence. The man turns on his place and nods:"He's given us enough. We move south."
And that's that for this thread. I'll probably start the new one on a tuesday. As usual, it's an appropriate time for feedback, and I once again apologize for not posting as often as I did in the early days of the quest. My new job is demanding.
>>5174059Not much that comes to mind for me to say, I enjoyed your writing as always. I did take notice of the return of our ability to use Fate Points to reroll failed checks being integrated into our prompts instead of you hoping one of us brings it up in between the roll and your posting, it works much better this way. Perhaps it returned even earlier, but I only really consciously noted it this thread.I hope your new job doesn't stress you out too bad. While I lament the slower pace, there is nothing to be done and real life takes precedence, we can wait.I'll archive like I usually do in a little while, assuming someone else doesn't beat me to it.
Thread archived: https://lws.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=The%20Last%20Sunhawk%20QuestHope to see you all next thread!