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Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:23 pm

The Makuu la Dhahabu Kiti leers and preens from its post on the hill, its smooth, sandstone rock belying its rockrete skeleton and the years of ignorance and despair that has truly given its walls strength. Its gargoyles, grotesque mimicries of toppled, tortured gods, cast long shadows about the wilds of Swaadi. Heavy weaponry lines the battlements, patrolled by young fanatics that do not realise that they rape their own country and cast their brethren into darkness and poverty. To the north, east and south are the tithe villages, broken settlements filled with slaves and beggars. To the west is the Villa von Klossner, an imported decaying, stately manse from Juno.

You have come a long way to witness this cathedral: dodged patrols and braved hunger to look upon this monument to intolerance. You will bring the established order crashing down - for the Swaad, for your warband, and for the gods. Your task is no easy one, but the compact is struck and the time is ripe. Where do you begin?

[To remind you, you can only complete one Secondary Objective this week, and should avoid working towards other Secondary Objectives (though there may be overlap). Included in your response, can you state which Objective you work towards?]


Last edited by The GM on Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:27 pm

Gracious meets up with Twisby just outside Iwani in the mid-morning. Gracious sinks into a mock bow and extends his hand; Twisby nods their head slightly.

"Greetings, friend. You are a hulking brute with sparkling eyes: you must be my contact! I have the honour of being Gracious Obscura, but you can call me Gracious - or Grace, if you're being informal."

"I Am That Which Is Shall Be. I Am The Herald Of Reason Over Faith Sent Here To Bring Light To Dark Places."

"Well, I'll just call you Twisby! Well met by moonlight, yeah, though the sun is shining. It seems we have some holy work to do, friend."

"This Planet Is A Testament To The Stultifying Power Of Faith Over Discovery. It Is Not Holy Work We Do: It Is The Necessary But Profound Work Of Enlightenment In Darkness."

"OK! So that's great. That's great. And here's how we're doing to do that. You see, this village here, Iwani, they're poor, see, like they all are, bit weedy, bit sick, not because they've been dossing around on the sauce - more my sort of thing - but just because they simply haven't the food. Seems their medical man keeps 'em alive - must know a thing or two! Rumours have it though that he's sick. Physician, heal thyself? Hah! Seems he can't."

"...What Is Your Point?"

"I'm saying we go in, we see what we can do. I'll be your preacher, your prophet; I'll go in and smooth things over, say that we're two travelling souls on pilgrimage, got caught in the war and all, got a little food and all - actually, three souls, my mate Sten's on his way, and he's always ready with the booze and snacks, actually - we'll spin it right, and then we'll set you up as a medical type, see, win their trust, maybe heal this medicine man and all. I'm thinking, place like this, good place to, you know, talk about the three rings - not my cup of tea, really, but I know the motions and the signs I think - not at first, but we'll lead into it - lovely unifier of people, that One, I always think. Once the rot sets in..."

"Let Me Summarise. We Go In. You... Talk. Your Friend Talks. Food Is Offered. I Treat This Man And Offer Aid. We Win Their Trust. And Then We Open Their Hearts To The Grandfather."

"Well, that last part's flexible, you know, we'll see what it's like on the ground: but that's the gist. What do you say?"

"...I Say I See The Logic In It And It Seems Pure Enough To Attempt In This Flawed World Of Ours."

"So... yes?"

"Yes."

"Let's go, then. Sten should be here any minute..."

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:40 pm

The strange pair make their way towards the village of Imani, joined by a hungover Sten and the bracing sun. When they arrive at the settlement, they find a small collection of mud huts, roofed with grass, and an array of curious stares from sick, hungry-looking people. Behind them, a small flock of thin, sickly goats bleat unhappily. Besides the ashes of a died-out fire, a bare-chested, unhappy-looking Swaad man is tied to a pole, berated occasionally by the passing elderly man or woman for his bad behaviour.

It is easy enough to be directed to the tent of the unwell Mkuu, and, glancing towards it, Sten mutters something about a non-Swaad woman staring back at Trisby. What does the group do?

[There is another Heretic in town. Do you want an Interaction? If so, are you available for Skype? If not, how does Gracious avoid it?]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:41 pm

Let's Interact: I can Skype.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:53 pm

But first: Gracious goes about the village, making initial introductions and pleasantries, Sten carrying some food to offer out. The idea here is to win friends and influence people.

I also want Sten to be keeping an eye out for anyone he reckons might be receptive to something a bit harder than trail mix...

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:15 pm

Gracious goes about the village, his smile wide and his hands outstretched. The villagers, though a little taken aback by his pleasantries, quickly warm to him - especially when Sten offers them food. It is not long before a Junian preacher by the name of Miriam Jung comes to greet them - Sten, always uncomfortable around the priesthood, sidles off.

Miriam Jung is a thin, spidery woman with small spectacles on her tiny nose. She speaks gently, greeting Gracious to the village.

"It seems our village is quite the popular one," she smiles. Gracious and her engage in small-talk, and though she is a little guarded, she too melts before the sheer weight of Gracious' sleazy charm. She is a missionary, not affiliated with the local Makuu, but having journeyed to see it. She has found Imani to be a gentle place, impoverished but getting by, and she seems glad for Gracious' presence and food.

"There has been quite the commotion," she notes. "A pair of strangers came into town last night, a man and woman, and they ran into our local miscreant, Kubwa." She gestures breezily to the man tied to a pole, before leaning in conspiratorially. "The idiot shot one of them, before somehow losing his gun to his victim and running off. What happens to him now is anybody's guess, but he has become quite the bore. I hope they cut his throat, Emperor Willing."

Elsewhere, Sten picks out some likely targets. He is practised at seeking out such people, and there are a few thuggish-looking men with bloodshot eyes and heavy hangovers. Surely they don't enjoy anything stronger than local herbs, freshly prepared, but obscura drives those kinds of people wild. Moreover, they seem to be connected in some way to the man tied to a pole: the way they glance at the victim guiltily, and he glares back in humiliated fury..

From the Mkuu's tent steps a young, Swaad woman. Preacher Jung tells Gracious that she is Furuha, the Mkuu's daughter, and a kind soul who helps run things when her father is away.

"Welcome to our village," Furuha smiles, eyeing the nearby Twisby nervously. "My father is busy with two other visitors, but perhaps when they are done we can all break bread together. It is kind of you to share your food with us: what brings you all this way?"

[Unfortunately the other player is not available right now, but is also up for an interaction. I propose that you go about your business in the village until then? If you need to talk to the Mkuu, then he will come out after a time while the other characters are resting up or something.]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:39 pm

Gracious extends a hand.

"Charmed, charmed, thank you so much for having us, and we're so sorry to impinge, of course - that's why we brought our own provision, though we're getting a little short now, of course - that's what happens when you travel across the plains. Messy, messy war that this is, don't understand the details myself - heretics they say! - and I only here to pilgrimage. You see, Sten and I - we go way back, you know? - trying to improve ourselves out here, I wouldn't say we're really good at attending sermons but we mean well, we're getting better: anyway, so we got encouraged to come out here for a pilgrimage - asceticism of Swaad and all that, very holy place - and it was really great when we landed - oh, what's it called, big city, um..."

[He names a plausible city to have landed at.]

"So we had to come to the Makuu obviously - didn't want to do it easily, so we didn't take a shuttle or anything - which was for the best because it was about then they started shooting them down. The war started... well, you know about that. So we hired Twisby over there - not really sure what they were here for, understand they were bodyguarding someone important but was Surplus To Requirements and then it all kicked off down here - they're muscle, you know, but also a dab hand at the old Medicae? So we set off - it's been quite a journey - and now we've finally made it to the Makuu - which is great, great - but I sort of, you know, thought it'd have been liberated by now. What's... what's been happening...; ah, sorry I know, I do blab on!; tell me about yourself! what's it like here: I'm interested. Can we help at all?"

[Gracious is trying to establish a clear alibi for why he's here. The intent is to make clear that Twisby is sort of an outsider - so it doesn't seem strange that Gracious and Sten know each other better - but to endorse him all the same. I want Furuha to like Gracious on a personal level, hence asking about her: he's turning on the charm to full.]

*****

Meanwhile...

Sten - who is a more taciturn sort, though nothing like Twisby - will try and establish a rapport with these chaps, maybe buy a bit of the local herb with food from them and socialise, get them to relax - offer round some cheap booze - and try to find out what the story is with them and the chap on the pole - with the aim of reporting back to Gracious later.

Twisby will stand awkwardly, but listening to Gracious's story: they will recall the details of the lie - which is not altogether totally a lie, from a certain point of view - so as not to Contradict later. They stand and think about the component anatomy of various villagers, and consider the benefits and disadvantages of splicing an extra pair of lungs.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:13 pm

Furuha seems positively overwhelmed by Gracious’ torrent of words, but it is not long before she finds herself enraptured by his pure enthusiasm and the undisciplined mode of his speech. When she first came to speak to Gracious, she seemed a little agitated, but laughs happily as she enjoys the spectacle of their introduction. By the end of it, she seems relaxed and cheerful, and Gracious knows that she would eat of his hand.

“It sounds like you’ve had quite the journey,” she responds meekly.

“You think we need ‘liberating’?” Preacher Miriam asks calmly, smiling slightly in a way Gracious doesn’t quite like. “Of course, Sadaka has suffered, but things are quite calm here, I think.” She does not offer it by way of conversation: it is a statement, nothing more, and easily brushed off with a warm smile. The people here seem quite at ease with him and his story.

“I am Mkuu Tendaji’s daughter,” Furuha tells him, “He is a great man, but must travel, and I watch things in his stead.”

She goes on to discuss more about her father’s good works, his charity and medical wisdom, visibly deflating as she does so. It takes a bit of cajoling from Gracious to remind her that she was asked about herself, not about the local Mkuu, and she laughs apologetically.

“I am sorry,” she replies, “I am not very interesting myself.” But when Gracious talks to her, she clearly has a head on her shoulders, and apart from the constant self-deprecation she is enjoyable to talk to. Occasionally, her thin hand plays with her curly, black hair, and she hangs off Gracious’ every word with a kind naivety.

It seems that the village of Imani is in great need indeed. Goats are dying from sickness and the herd is growing thinner and thinner. There is barely enough food to eat, and the water from the Makuu seems to make people ill. The Imani people are hungry, thirsty and diseased, and the number of workers declines day by day. The food that Sten has brought will save lives, and the group can help further by mucking in with the goats, but the real cause of their woes is the sickness that makes the herd so weak.

*****

Elsewhere, Sten is earning himself the hostility of the local thugs. They didn’t take kindly to being asked for herbs in the morning, and assume that he is some sort of creep with the way he stands awkwardly with his tiny stature. Most of all, it seems to be a bad time. Whatever is going on between them and the man on the pole, it seems to be causing some friction, and Sten quickly extricates himself from further awkwardness.

Twisby learns that an extra pair of lungs would assist them in the prevention of airborne illnesses that might be festering in the dirty mud streets of Imani. On the other hand, the operation would be difficult and the filthy conditions might cancel out the health benefits overall. It is something of a conundrum, and they are absorbed in the matter for some time.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:35 pm

[Oh Sten. Sad trombone.

I think I'm going to hang tight for now because the natural next step seems to talk to Mkuu, and so I need to wait for the other player.

Standing request, please: I know Sten is better at reading people. When he gets a good chance - and he's around Gracious and so is less likely to fuck up! - I'd like him to properly assess Miriam - I'm mildly suspicious but "liberated" was a weird comment - although mostly me OC thinking it was more a siege situation in terms of the local chaos warband than it is, I guess.]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:42 pm

[The platoon guarding the Makuu has sent forces to deal with a local warband, but it is not a siege situation - they are a good dozen miles away, and now largely defeated as the platoon makes its way home. However, there are constant threats, the Makuu is isolated, and 'liberated' would not be an overly strange thing to say.]

Sten slinks back to Gracious, planning to inform him of his lack of progress a little later. Maybe Gracious will even forget to ask him - though he never does. Putting that from his mind, Sten scopes out the preacher. She talks gently and calmly with a quiet assurance that Sten finds a little creepy, but other than that she seems very difficult to read. Maybe if he spends more time around her, he'll be able to figure out what she's about.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:51 am

The door to the Mkuu's hut opens, revealing a wizened old man with a wraith-like face. His eyes are kindly, but his movements are slow and tortured. This is Mkuu Tendaji, and he has come forth to greet the new arrivals. He is flanked by Vex and Laval. Vex is a man in his thirties, of average height but imposing in black carapace armour ornamented with studs and rivets. His face is thin and lined, creased into a heavy frown, and a dark bruise flowers across one side of his face under the helmet. His hand hovers warily near the grip of the vicious-looking whip coiled at his side. Laval hangs back a little, nervous of demeanour but light on her feet. She is a young, lean woman with braided sandy hair, her clothing simple aside from the protective flak cloak and the sword and pistol on her hips.

The group make their way over to Gracious and Trisby. Gracious is a small, lithe man. He is dressed in clothes which are... practical; but also clearly chosen for a certain look. It is obvious that he cares about appearances - but has made some adjustments to the environment. He carries a constant energy, hardly still for a minute, and is expressive in action and voice. Behind him is Trisby. They are tall, broad-shouldered, almost beast-like in their size. Their arms slightly too long, a heavy cloak covering a humped back, their face is a mass of scars and stitches. In contrast to their partner, they stay still: their eyes begin to study the old man intently.

The morning sun is starting to beam down on the streets of Imani, where villagers mill about and make their way to their daily tasks. Joining the conversation is the Preacher Miriam Jung and the Mkuu's daughter, Faruha.

"And who are these newcomers, then?" the Mkuu asks.

"This man here is Gracious, father,” Faruha responds, “He has come with his friends and given us food." She smiles shyly around the group. "You are all most welcome."

Gracious speaks first. "Hi! Good to meet you both, you're the, um, you're the people who dealt with the gent outside or something, yeah?"

The man on the pole moans slightly, having been tied there overnight. He can't hear the conversation, but seems deeply unhappy with his situation nonetheless.

Laval steps forward, visibly drawing up her courage. "It was just a minor incident. Nothing to make too much fuss about."

"I am sorry, Laval." Faruha bows her head.

"It's fine," Laval returns, smiling. "We can put it behind us, I'm sure."

"Hah!” Gracious laughs. “Well it seems it made quite the kerfuffle anyway, and all! No worries, I guess: tempers must be high, it's all rather stressful... well, nothing like it must be here, we've just come in across the plains, you know, avoided most of the - why are you here?"

"Truly we are blessed with so many visitors in such a short space of time," Preacher Jung adds wryly.

Vex bristles, as if to speak, but glances at Laval and says nothing.

"We're here to help these people,” Laval explains. “I hope that isn't going to be a problem between us."

"Oh, he's a friend, Laval, you must not worry," Faruha insists.

"You know him?" Laval asks.

"Well, we just met, but he gave us food and he seems so friendly."

“I mean there's a holy church right there, right?” Gracious quizzes Preacher Jung. “Obviously - obviously you –” he turns to Laval. “ - no, not a problem! What can you do, eh: not sure we can do much - though this gent looks a mite sick: Twisby?”

Twisby slowly turns to look at Gracious, then back at the old man. “Yes. That Much Is Clear.” They return to being deep in thought.

Mkuu Tendaji smiles. "Another new friend coming to cure my sickness. It is quite hopeless, my young friends. I am old, and I have lived -" he begins coughing from the exertion of walking to the conversation, hacking up blood.

Laval hesitates, possibly a little taken aback by the rapid-fire speech, but turns to the Mkuu with a grimace, "Please, don't strain yourself... here, lean on me."

"Thank you, my young friend."

Gracious fills the silence. “Ah, they do say death comes for us all, but it's not so bad, eh? Let's look on the bright side... I don't know, though, blood, yeah, blood seems bad, though I mean, I wouldn't know, you know.”

The preacher, Miriam Jung, seems somewhat amused. "Yes, it is typically bad," she observes.

“This Man Is Dying Of The Consumption,” Twisby informs them. “It Is A Disease Of The Lung. A Cure Is Known.”

Laval nods, frowning.

“...ookay,” Gracious cuts in, “So, sorry, Twisby's a bit like that, you know, he sort of just says things without thinking if they’re particularly SENSITIVE.” He nods to Faruha.

Somewhat abashed, Faruha smiles. "I understand."

Laval looks back and forth between Twisby and the preacher, clearly wanting to say something but struggling to vocalise it.

The Mkuu nods slowly. “Yes, consumption yes, but it seems none of those standard cures seem to do the trick. I've long since come to terms with it all, my friends."

"Perhaps a happier topic of conversation is better, hm?" the preacher advises.

Faruha sighs, making as if to leave. "I should really be tending to the goats."

“Oh – ” Gracious volunteers, “Do you, do you want a hand, or anything? Goats I can about manage I think! Ha!”

"Oh, well we're always short-handed..." Faruha admits. She visibly blushes, turning to embrace her father, who smiles and bids her along.

“Alright,” Gracious smiles. “Well: Twisby, you report back, you know, use some of that scintillating conversational wit, yeah?”

Laval looks to the Mkuu, "You mentioned that they needed treatment? Shall I take a look and spare you the trouble?"

“Ah! I suppose we could all go and look at the goats,” Gracious suggests.

"I feel like some of us might scare them." Laval looks pointedly at Twisby, and perhaps Vex.

"Oh, I'm at my wits end with them,” the old Mkuu sighs. “Nothing seems to do the trick. But if any of you can find a solution, I shall be very happy indeed."

He smiles at a joke only he can hear. "All these young people with their solutions and energy," he notes. "I get exhausted just looking at you all."

“Ah! Sorry old man! People say I exhaust them: was born with tippy toes, you know! Can't stop, won't stop, don't know the difference.” Gracious spins to Laval as if the conversation never skipped a beat. “Good point! Twisby is not good with animals - he, oh there was an incident with a cat, oh it wasn't - that was back in the city... but who knows, you know?

Faruha looks positively horrified, while Jung chuckles.

“Oh, not like that! He didn't hurt it... Just didn't like him very much.”

"Why don't the three of us go," Laval intervenes. She pats Vex affectionately on the arm as if to reassure him. His frown deepens.

"Sure, I would like that," Faruha nods.

The three make their way towards the fields. It's not a long walk, but the smell from the animals intensify as you approach. Even to an untrained individual, it is clear that the goats are sick. They are thin, unhappy and slightly green, as if stained with disease. The smell reminds the newcomers, somewhat problematically, of putrefaction.

“Oh...” Gracious exclaims, “Oh dear. Poor things!” He is actually genuinely distressed - or seems such. Laval frowns, sparing barely a glance for the goats before turning a suspicious eye over Gracious, watching closely for his reactions. After a moment she sighs and turns back to the animals, inspecting them carefully.

The herd is small, and there are workers milling about, but the movements of the villagers are slow and pained, and there are plenty of ways the three can help.

“So, um, how long have they been this way?” Gracious asks Faruha. She doesn’t respond, as if lost in thought. "That one is about to give birth." She points at one of the goats, which looks more bloated than pregnant. It bleats miserably, stumbling about ungainly. "We may have to help the kid on its way."

"I can do my best," Laval offers.

“OK. Um... hot water?” Gracious suggests. “I think you need hot water for this sort of thing, keep stuff clean, right?”

"We have no water to spare," Faruha sighs.

“Shit, of course, of course.”

"I've better," Laval notes, patting the satchel on her hip. "Though normally I'd save it for people, if these are your livelihood..."

"You must save your water,” Faruha insists “Though you are kind, Laval."

Gracious leans forward. “Well, uh: Laval, you seem the medical type, why don't you lead, and I'll follow?” He waves his fingers: slightly long, quite dextrous. “Dab hand if you need to, uh, if anything needs holding.”

Laval sets her teeth and rolls up her sleeves. She looks to be expecting the worst.

“Is something wrong?" Faruha asks.

"These animals are... not well. I fear that for all the skill in the world, this is still likely to... not end well. Still, we must keep hope." She glances at Gracious.

“Yeah, sounds good, better than assuming the worst before we start, eh?” Gracious nervously smiles.

"I pray that it is not so," Faruha murmurs. She looks genuinely afraid, but smiles softly towards Gracious. "This would be the third failed pregnancy this spring."

Laval runs her hands over the goat's flank, then shakes her head sadly. "I don't believe we can save the kid. But the mother may live, if we work hard."

"We can't lose the mother,” Faruha stutters, the fear returning to her voice. “I don't know what we'll do if that happens."

“Listen, it'll be alright,” Gracious reassures. “We'll find a way, you know?”

"We'll find a way,” Laval echoes. “Have faith." She smiles, but it's a grim one.

With your reassurances, Faruha smiles, but the pair can see in her eyes that she is smiling just for them. With nothing else left to do, the individuals get to work.

It is a grim business. The mother goat bleats in pain, and it is necessary to make an incision to deliver a bloody, half-formed foetus. It sticks in the mother's abdomen, trailing behind her like a terrible portend, and Gracious and Faruha barely stops the goat from bolting as Laval delivers the dead kid. It is touch and go, but the mother goat is saved. She looks at her foetus with what seems to the individuals present as sadness, before tottering away in obvious pain.

“Goodness...” Gracious exhales. “Will she be alright?

"For now," Laval responds. Her mouth is set tightly, her expression full of anger, disgust and fear, but Gracious cannot quite fathom why. Faruha, for her part, is noticeably pale, and excuses herself swiftly.

"I am sorry," she manages, before she goes. "Thank you for trying, thank you for saving her... thank you."

"It's alright," Laval tells her. She shakes her head. "Things will change."

Gracious waves sadly, before seizing upon Laval’s words. “Oh? You've got a plan?”

"I..." Laval looks down at her bloodied hands, shudders and tries to wipe them on the parched earth. "Things can't go on this way."

“Here, let me...” Gracious pulls a handkerchief from his wrist. “Here?”

"If it were mine, I'd burn it after... but if you don't mind... thank you."

"Oh, sure...” Gracious returns. “I've got a couple more, still! Got a thing about... I like to keep clean, you know? Hard on the road. Hah! Still, pilgrimages aren't meant to be easy, they say.”

Laval nods gratefully. After rubbing the worst of the blood from her hands, she withdraws a container of purifying gel from her satchel and uses a little of it to cleanse herself. "You're here for the cathedral, then."

“Yeah... well, I mean, I was, still am, but that was before the - I arrived six months ago, just before the war- it's all been chaos - me and my friend Sten, together - well, we decided to travel hard, you know? But... Still, we're - I'm wealthy, not that it matters much at the moment, but we came with a good bit of food, which has helped kept spirits up... little luxuries, but it makes the days go.”

There is a slight tension. Both individuals know that the Makuu is currently weak, and that a number of warbands have sent forth their infiltrators to do the work of the gods. The timing of their visits is a tad coincidental, though there is still the possibility that both are nothing more than humble travellers.

“It's more than most people here have," Laval observes.

“Yes, well, I've not been stingy.”

"Listen. You seem nice, but..." Laval tries to force a smile, but it falls a little flat. "I mean, I've no reason to think you're up to no good, but...

"...but you've no reason to think I'm up to good?"

Laval nods wearily. “I hope you don't intend to take advantage of these people."

"What's there to take advantage of?" Gracious notes. “... actually, now that I think on it, what's your story?

Labal hesitates, seeming to choose her words carefully. "I heard that these people were suffering, and I came here to... help them."

Gracious nods, unsatisfied. "... I mean, I don't mean to be funny, but where did you hear about them? Like, uh..., I mean, I'd heard there were a few villages about, didn't have much preconception, mind. You a missionary?"

"I'm a healer,” Laval responds. “People talk, you know. The poor folk work the land, they know where the healers live, where the food goes, where sickness is."

"And your friend's your bodyguard, that how it is?"

"Everyone needs friends." She seems a bit defensive. "What about yours? There's something wrong with him."

Gracious pauses. "... Yes, yes, I know, but you try getting a bodyguard to get you across the plain in a pinch when it's all going to hell."

Laval sighs. "I'm sorry. That was blunt of me."

"And he's a bit of a miracle worker with the ol' Medicae, so we don't ask too many questions about who trained a brick Stackhouse to do surgery."

Laval looks sadly at the mess left behind from the impromptu operation. "I'm a little on edge, I'm afraid. This was an unpleasant business."

"They're... really sick, aren't they," Gracious frowns. He looks down sadly.

Laval nods. "So... you're a man of faith?"

"Ha! Of sorts. Honestly, I'd be the first person to say that my attendance at sermons never used to be exactly regular, but it wasn't for want of trying: bad habits, you know. Decided to pull my finger out and try and do something good for my soul..."

"Did you speak to the local preacher, Jung?"

Gracious grins. "She's an odd one, ain't she? Very Jovian, all the way out here... I think she sees right through me to the scared boy beneath!"

"I'm not usually one to question the clergy, but she is... certainly odd,” Laval frowns.

"Can't quite place it though – ” Gracious agrees, before changing tack. “Probably nothing. Priests tend to be a little intense, in my experience. Which, you know. Understandable."

Laval takes a deep breath, studying Gracious warily. "This," she gestures curtly toward the nearest sickly goats, "If I'm quite frank, doesn't strike me as entirely natural. And it concerns me that she is not more concerned."

"...and the same with the old man?" Gracious asks, after a thought. "Twisbs seemed quite sure about their unconcernedness."

Laval shrugs. "Where there's smoke..."

"There's two mysterious diseases?"

"They're looking a little..." Laval stops, shakes her head.

"... A little what?"

"Well, green." Another hesitation, then a quick gesture as if to dismiss the notion. "I'm not very familiar with goats, but it doesn't seem like a good colour to me..."

"I mean, that's obvious enough... sorry to tell you your trade. They smell.... rotten."

Laval nods, maintaining cautious eye contact. "I'm sure there must be something that could be done for them. Maybe by a person of sufficient... faith."

Gracious is, for a second, lost for words - a rare occurrence. He seems puzzled. Laval sighs sharply, glances around to see if any of the locals are too close. They are tending to their goats, out of hearing distance.

"... Is everything OK?” Gracious asks. “I feel... just feel like there's something you're dancing around! Best to spit it out lest it cut you in two, that's what my mother used to say! Ha! Bless her heart.”

There is a long silence: a strange, stilted silence. Gracious is suspicious: sometimes telepaths can read the minds of others when given such a length of time. Moreover, Laval is studying Gracious intently, eyes a little distant. She suddenly snaps back to the moment with an embarrassed smile.

"Ah, you're back with us...!" Gracious exclaims.

"I think some conversations are best not had in the middle of an open field, no?" she suggests.

The pair glance towards one of the mud outhouses, currently unoccupied but for a few bleary goats.

"Some of my best conversations have been in fields,” Gracious notes. “But you have a point. Let's go check on the health of those goats and you can spill your beans or whatever, you know, yeah?"

"If my suspicions are right, we may have a lot in common..." Laval nods and moves towards the building, sparing some attention for the goats but mostly checking that Gracious is following. He follows. Once fairly sure that the conversation is hidden from prying eyes and ears, Laval exhales.

"There's more powers in this world than medicine or the futile prayers of the desperate, you know?"

"Like I said: say what you really want to say." His manner is slightly sharper, as if a layer has been dropped.

"Fine,” Laval shrugs, though clearly struggles with bluntness. "This is the work of a wych or daemonologist. And it would take another such to reverse it."

"And you'd know one of those in the vicinity, eh?"

"I might. Or you might.”

"Ha! I don't, I'm afraid, keep quite that kind of company."

“Do you really want to help these people?"

"Yes, I definitely do. Of course, your next question should be...?"

"Who you are working for?" Laval shrugs. "I don't entirely care."

"As it happens, by the way, I don't keep quite that company," Gracious affirms.

"That's inconvenient,” Laval remarks, “But... maybe you can still help. I'm not quite sure myself how these things... actually work."

"Well, well. A new hand?"

"Hand?" Laval looks confused, uncomfortable.

"Whoever you're working for - and if you tell me yours - well, you seem new at this, maybe?" Gracious pauses. “Maybe I misread... You could be Inquisition, you could be Officio Assassinorum, you could be - dare I say it - some servant of a dark power whose shadows trembles the sky."

Laval chuckles at that, genuine amusement seeming to briefly lift her dark mood. Gracious presses on.

"But what you seem is briefed, but not completely. My advice: don't ever expect to know everything - it's more fun that way."

"I serve Change,” Laval relents. “There, happy?"

"Ha! Good, there it is. And me?"

"Not Plague, and I'd be surprised if it were War." Laval shrugs. "Not sure."

"I tend to sleep around - which is a double kind of answer, and that itself is the answer, you know? Seems like your sort of riddle..."

Laval smiles again, again seeming genuine.

"So the three-ring circus has pulled up in this burg..." Gracious sighs.

Laval nods. "I suspect the so-called preacher, but I confess it no more than a hunch."

"Yes, I know what you mean. But let's set that aside for a moment. Ultimately, we, here, are both opposed and working together... that's maybe not so good."

"We could be friends," Laval offers.

"We could. I'd like that. But it won't end that way."

"You want the best for these people, I want the best for these people."

"And the best for them isn't what they've got. You ought to talk to Twisby."

"Perhaps, at least, we can save any enmity for when the collateral damage would be our true enemies, not these poor folk?"

"Yes, I'd like that - better for me. Can we save the goats, too?"

"Of course. But neither of you have any skill at ritual magic."

"Twisby might know a little, you know, I don't know him that well - my contact said he's got a smart head on those shoulders. Then she laughed a lot... I'm not really sure they're his shoulders, you know? Not in any original sense - but he's not a very sticking with the original sort of person." Gracious muses for a few seconds. "Anyway, I'm circulating about "no, probably"."

"Vex knows a little,” Laval notes. “But, between you and me, I'm not sure getting him to do it would be the best idea."

"What's his deal?" Gracious asks.

"He's a little..." Laval taps her fingers against her skull and makes a hollow knocking sound. "Don't tell him I said that." She smiles.

"Ah, I see. Very brawn, and they didn't put a brain in."

"He means well."

"Heh. What happened with the gent on the pole?"

"He punched Vex. And then shot him."

"...I mean, was there a preamble...? I’m not judging, you know, some of my nicest dates have started that way, but..."

Laval shrugs, looking perplexed. "Not really... I think he sees himself as the biggest braggart in town."

"Ah, one of those,” Gracious nods sagely. “He's got mates, too. Shifty sorts - I sent Sten off to talk to them, see what he could get. He had that hangdog expression, so I imagine he fucked it..."

"Vex took offence and gave him a bit of a drubbing,” Laval continues, “Then the villagers took offence at the attempted murder and... gave him more of one, by the look of it."

"Well, can you blame them?"

"Faruha says that they smoke herbs, lay about and don't pull their weight." Laval shakes her head.

Gracious thinks for a while. "I mean, I could probably get them onto some harder stuff for a bit, if they're going to make trouble... or we need them on side."

"People are a resource we need."

"Honestly, that's what I'm best at: bit of a dab hand at narcotics, you know? Chyms just make sense. Like dancing!"

Laval nods, "It's a useful skill. I've dabbled, but I wouldn't call myself an expert."

A few seconds pass. "So, the Preacher," Gracious announces. "You reckon you could sense if she's... if she's externalising her consciousness in an unorthodox manner, and all?"

"Not really. I've a bit of a hunch for these things, but I wouldn't catch an expert, I don't think."

“It seems to help these people we need to rumble her game - one way or another."

"We could always kill her and hope it resolves everything,” Laval remarks. “Though that could backfire on us spectacularly."

"Ha! Direct. So what I'd do is get those louts we talked about before hopped up on something a bit strong and violent, get them up and active, you know?"

Laval nods.

"Cause a little, ahahah, chaos,” Gracious goes on, “Preacher dies in it, we save villagers, very sad, they stole some medical drugs, not their fault, have a little mercy, eh? … And of course, in chaos sins lie: so who knows how she died?"

"It's a solid plan."

"That's if we want to kill her, anyway: do we? Seems like that would take a couple of nights to bed in, anyway - make it seem more plausible."

"She's a problem for us whether my hunch is right or wrong," Laval notes.

“Exactly. I think we do want to kill her. But just now when we wander into town? Bad plan. Looks bad. Why don't you and Twisby put your heads together on the medical business? There's nothing to say you mayn't make progress together - or at least force her to show her hand."

"Time's short," Laval observes.

Gracious hums in agreement. "I think we do it tonight, or tomorrow night. Which'll it be?"

"The old man knows his business; I doubt we'll find a mundane solution,” Laval remarks. “But I'll try, certainly. I'm inclined to say tomorrow. Slightly less suspicious, more time for us to rig things to fit our story."

"My thoughts, your words. Sounds like a plan. I'll spend some time helping in the village - I'm good with people, you know. But say, you know, hi to the goats for me.”

"Good. Well, I've goats to see to. Oh, and Gracious?"

"Ah-ha?"

"Not to put too fine a point on it: I was here first." She smiles.

"Ah! Alas, alas; I can't turn off my charm. But duly noted."

"I hope we'll have no problems."

"No no: just, you know, don't expect me to push - what I'm saying is, I'll close it down as a line of active enquiry, but..."

Laval shrugs. "I think we understand each other."

"Good to meet you." Gracious sticks out a hand - unlike many of his gestures, it's not over-played. Laval shakes it, still smiling, but with a slightly cold undercurrent.

"And you."

The pair part ways: there is work to be done.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:05 pm

Gracious makes his way back to the village proper. True to his word, he pitches in and helps out around the village - he is attempt to properly ingratiate himself with then. When he has moments, he'll try and engage with the local layabouts - having quietly talked to Sten and castigated him accordingly - and will try and smooth things over with them - perhaps offer them a little decent booze if the opportunity arises.

"Hi! Uh; sorry, just trying to - you know, I like to talk to everyone - so how are you doing? What's up, eh: shame about your mate there, seems a bad business - do you want to talk about - no, no, fair, so what do you do for fun around here, eh, you look like gents a bit bored, do you keep the village safe, then, you look pretty strong - yeah, nice flex! - so tell me about that..."

And so on. Mindful of what Laval said, he'll be a little more careful in his actions with Faruha. He is naturally quite flirty - that won't turn off - but he won't be actively trying to make a move. Indeed, he'll turn the conversation to Laval a little bit, get Faruha to sing her praises. [Gracious is not fantastically motivated by romance/sex except as a tool/aspect of leverage or control over others. He's read Laval as desiring Faruha - it is convenient to him if he can fan that desire, as understanding the desires of others gives power over them - so he's interested in fanning the flame of that affection. If Faruha turns out not to be into Laval - and were to overtly make a move on him - he wouldn't push her away - but we shall see.]

Meanwhile, Twisby will - if the old man permits - have taken a few samples to analyse. They will spend some time trying to analyse the illness - does it look like a natural one? They will use any appropriate Forbidden Lore skills in order to analyse this.

Sten will be with Gracious - not taking an active role, but Gracious needs to smooth things over a little with Sten and the toughies - so if Gracious feels he's had some success, he'll try and bring Sten in on the good feeling.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:29 pm

The villagers are happy for Gracious' presence. They have received food from him, seen him get on well with the leadership of the village, and now they benefit from his work and good-nature. Though Gracious' actual efforts to assist with the workload sees him quickly exhausted and unable to help more, his presence and good humour is nonetheless enjoyed by the villagers, who graciously avoid mentioning how ill-suited he seems to farming.

Eventually, Gracious is told to take a break and saunters over to the layabouts about town. Despite his best efforts, the thugs seem on edge and hostile. In no uncertain terms they tell him he is not welcome, and without some grand show of friendship, they are distrustful of strangers. It gets to the point where Gracious' manner is a little grating, and one of them, a young woman, Ola, has her shackles raised.

"You leave us alone, white man," she tells him. "Or I will make you leave."

Elsewhere, Twisby obtains the samples from the accomodating Mkuu and analyses it. It matches consumption - but the Mkuu assures Twisby that he has tried all the known cures for the illness. Twisby notes from the old man's calm demeanour and typical body heat that he is unlikely to be lying. Yet, if this is not consumption after all, Twisby has no idea what this sickness is. It may be a particularly rare disease, or perhaps something darker.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:33 pm

Gracious sees Faruha returning home with Laval in tow. He smiles at them, and, seemingly emboldened, Faruha takes Laval's hand. It is not clear whether this is romantic, or simply an act of friendship, but it marks a step in a happy direction.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:45 pm

I'm not quite sure what to do now: what is likely to happen in the village in the evening?

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:25 pm

Gracious has the village friendly and can start manipulating them more directly to do his bidding. Meanwhile, he can attempt convincing the local thugs to treat him with more respect: though charm has failed, there are other ways of bringing them on side. More pressingly, he is being directly challenged by one of them, who is implicitly threatening him with violence.

The village itself will continue in its work. Things are relatively quiet, but Gracious is in a position of relative power and can certainly act to make things not so. It all depends on what Gracious wants to achieve other than endearing himself to the locals.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:40 pm

Another angle does in fact present itself to Gracious in the early hours of the evening. The man tied to the pole, who Gracious learns is called Kubwa, is cut free by the Mkuu. For his crimes of attempted murder, he is sentenced by the kindly old man to muck up after the goats for the next few days. It is an absurdly lenient punishment, and there is some unhappy whispers among the gathered crowds, but Kubwa is somehow still dissatisfied. He has been humiliated today, and he is angry at all those who disrespected him.

On the other hand, Kubwa has little choice but to do as the Mkuu commands. He slinks off towards the goats, alone, potentially vulnerable to those that would corrupt him.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:06 pm

OK, thanks.

I think it makes sense, therefore, for Gracious to go and have a word with Twisby. For this, I think they probably take a walk around outside the village - "just to get a lie of the land, you know" - if anyone asks

When they are a way out:

"Twisby, hi, hi, how's it going, good? Not so good? How's the old man? Still sick, I'm guessing?"

"He Has Not Manifestly Recovered Since This Morning."

"Right, right. Weird, eh? Bit spooky - listen, I was talking to Laval - by the way, you and her share some, uh, some fundamental interests, know what I'm saying, her and Vex are here on our sort of - anyway, the point is, she reckons it's voodoo, magic - same with the goats, too - maybe that preacher, who's a bit weird, right - maybe it's her - so we should look into that; I made a deal with Laval - well, an agreement - we're going to work together to save this burg - which means controlling it, right - but we need to get rid of the preacher, which means I need those thugs to respect - basically, I need you to go beat up some people."

"Laval Serves That Which Is Change?"

"Didn't I say that?"

"No. But It Was Understood. And You Want Me To Enact Violence Against Those In The Village Who Idle Their Time Away? For What?"

"It's part of the act, you know, the act, you're my bodyguard - and hey, isn't that basically what you are anyway?"

"No. I Am Far More Than That, Gracious. But I Shall Do This Thing. Who Shall Be Made An Example Of?"

"There's this one called Ola..."

"Fine. And You?"

"...not sure yet, we'll see what happens."

[Twisby goes off. The goal is to set some boundaries via intimidation with the thugs - Gracious suspects that might be the way to win a bit of respect, if nothing else. Meanwhile... well, I've just seen your new post - I'll respond to that.]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:09 pm

Gracious will go off to talk to Kubwa. He'll try and get a read on what the best approach will be, and if it looks like charm will work, he'll use that. He'll offer up some drink and get him to drown his sorrows, talk to him a bit. The goal is just to get another point of view of events in the village - and perhaps control another pressure point.

If it looks like Kubwa might express an interest, Gracious might even indicate he could get some harder stuff.

Are Vex and Laval still around?

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:51 am

Gracious and Twisby get to work, taking different approaches to help pin down the support of the layabouts in the village.

Twisby approaches the One Named Ola, and informs her (and the group that she is with) that Gracious is not to be disrespected. To help bring their message home, they swings a closed fist at Ola's face. With the monstrous synthmuscle and petrified bone within their fist, they hit extremely hard. They nearly knock Ola's head off, and, staggering back, she flees, clutching at her dislocated jaw.

The rest of the group stare, horrified, at what Twisby has done with a single punch. None of them say anything, and Twisby repeats their message. Gracious Is To Be Respected. They nod quickly with fearful swallows. Satisfied, Twisby stomps away.

Elsewhere, Gracious tries the softly softly approach with the apparent leader of the thugs. Kubwa is sulky and not particularly sociable, but after a couple of jokes and some kind remarks from Gracious, he laughs and opens up. To Gracious' sympathetic ear, he notes that Faruha is "A bitch" and that her father is just some "Decaying old coot." He doesn't see the point of tending dying goats all day, especially when he can just take the food he needs from others that do. He appears a selfish man, complaining and spoilt, and simply agreeing with a smile seems to do the trick.

Kubwa accepts drink readily, and leaps on Gracious' indication that he could get some harder stuff. Of course, Obscura is highly addictive, and if Kubwa is not careful, he could soon be nothing more than Gracious' pawn.

Throughout the day, Gracious has seen Laval helping around the town, helped a little by Vex. Laval keeps glancing at Gracious, probably to keep tabs on him, but her expression is inscrutable.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:21 pm

In the evening, Gracious is invited to dine with the Mkuu, along with his daughter, Laval and Vex. The group makes a fine display of camaraderie and friendship. Mkuu Tendaji is leaving Imani for a few days, to help the people in Kidofini in return for a new goat, and given it has been a time of relative upheaval in the small village, it is something of a celebration. Marula spirits are served, and the libations flow.

As the meal dies down, Vex awkwardly approaches Gracious for a chat.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:56 pm

[Alright, sorry about the delay.

I am ready to interact now.]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:16 pm

Stuff before the meal:

Gracious will talk to Lawal a little about Obscura.
"Now, this is strong stuff, right, like it will make you feel really good, really really good, but you have to be strong to handle it - like, if you're not strong in the real way, it'll just fuck you up good - I reckon you can - I mean I'm sure you can handle - do you want some? Listen if you want - have the first dose up front - if you like, we can talk about payment later - sure there's something you can do - but I'd have to get some more doses - I have a stash, none on me, you know - just got this one - hope that's OK?"

[Gracious offers Lawal a dose of Obscura. The others doses *are* on his person - this is a lie - but you also don't tell your clients where the drugs are, so.]

Meanwhile...

Twisby is going to have a think about the possibilities of manipulating the fabric of the warp in some manner in order to fix what is wrong with the goats - or at least detect if something is interfering with them. They are going to attempt to, in effect, build a Psycnicience-esque device that specializes in detecting warp/psyker/corruption phenomenon to do with living flesh - or at least asses how hard that would be to do.

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by The GM on Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:44 pm

It is a pitch that Gracious has made to dozens, if not hundreds, of others before. Though each one is personal, tailored to the individual and a special offering before Slaanesh, it is a task at which Gracious excels. Kubwa snatches at the chance to try obscura, and without much hesitation injects it into his veins. It is clear that Kubwa has never taken such a strong drug before, and the effect on his pupils is nigh instantaneous. He lets out a long sigh, as if dying a small death, and a dreamy look comes over his face.

"Now, that, is more like it."

[Gracious has begun a Seduction of an NPC. This means Seduction to Chaos (but can also involve sexual seduction). Gracious can attempt to advance the Seduction once per (real life) day, if he chooses. Once he has succeeded a number of times equal to the target's Willpower Bonus, the target is considered Seduced to Chaos. Each day, however, should represent an escalation of heresy. You can see the Tome of Excess for more details. A successful Seduction, besides having a new ally, gains Infamy and Corruption.

Furthermore, getting individuals hooked on obscura is a corrupting act, and Gracious gains 1 Corruption point. I'll edit the thread.]

Artefacts that can sense the interacts between real-space and the immaterium are older than humanity itself, and though knowledge of them is rare, Twisby's brain contains all kinds of interesting information. They believe that they could create such a device. An occultist artefact, or something instilled with the faith of mortals, forms the starting point: a device by which mortals already try to glimpse the gods. From there, the artefact must be instilled with some power from the other side in a dark ritual designed to channel the warp through skeins in time and space.

[Twisby, having passed his Forbidden Lore (Warp) Test by approximately a bizillion degrees, knows of a suitable ritual: The Ritual of True Sight.

The Ritual of True Sight
An artefact of faith, or occultist significance to mortals, should act as the receptacle, and, ultimately, the heart of a technological device to read signatures in the warp. The artefact should be placed in the centre of a ritual circle that in some sense signifies the immaterium: this can be anything from treatises on the warp to the occultist patterns of warp-maddened prophets. The ritualist should then speak words of power to encourage the melding of the two realms.

Once the ingredients are amassed, the ritual is represented by a Hard (-20) Forbidden Lore (Warp), affected as normal by ritual modifiers. If successful, the artefact is imbibed with the requisite energies and a Challenging (+0) Tech-Use Test can construct a device that can read those energies. Note that the technological device is not necessary: someone holding the artefact can simply be imbued by its power nonetheless. Using the artefact grants the Psyniscience (Per) +20 Skill. If the user already has Psyniscience, they can use the artefact to benefit from a +30 modifier.

The cost of the ritual is that a tear in realspace is opened, and phenomena seeps in. Those partaking in the ritual gain 1d5 Corruption Points, and roll once on the Psychic Phenomena Table, at +10. Finally, use of the artefact continues to pull the bearer towards that tear. Whenever the character benefits from the artefact, they gain 1 Corruption Point. If they pass the Psynsicience Test by 4 degrees or greater, they gain 1d5 Corruption Points.]

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Re: Turn 1 Thread

Post by wren on Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:59 pm

Gracious leaves Lawal to it - he makes sure he's sitting safely on a blanket or something to enjoy his sensations, then goes off to find Twisby for an update.

[OK: I'll assume that Gracious and Twisby meet up before the meal and exchange information on these things.

Gracious passes to Twisby some pages of his unholy tomes - Twisby takes what he needs.

We can now pass to the meal.]

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