Turn 4 Thread

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:25 pm

What bad luck. Marina is half-tempted to give up, claim she did what she could, and get back to satisfying her own needs. But she did make a promise. She'll have to keep poking around.

"Thanks," she tells the man absently, thinking about the problem. A moment later she recalls that she probably ought to do something about him. He has cooperated, which makes this awkward.

"Say, if I let you go home, are you going to tell on me?" she enquires. "See, you answered my questions, so the rules are I don't hurt you. But I've let people go before and had them turn on me, and then I have to spend forever hunting them down and getting my revenge. So. Are you going to tell on me?"

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:26 pm

"I... I'm not going to say anything," the wounded man responds. His very body seems to deflate as he makes his confession of cowardice. Marina is certain he is telling the truth. 

*****

Elsewhere, Laval is lurking about the abandoned huts of the near-centre of the settlement. It is pleasingly empty. The soldiers have no interest in moving from their garrisons, and the townspeople are keeping an informal buffer zone between themselves and the military garrison. It is in this no man's land that Laval waits. Her objective complete in Kifodini, it may be time to move on: but with the mind-link still established, Laval still able to communicate with Gracious.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:32 pm

Marina nods and smiles, only semi-conscious of how unsettling her grin is.

"You're free to go then. Thanks!"

*****

Conscious of hunger and thirst, Laval slinks in and out of huts, stealing food and water where she finds it until she has replenished a travelling stock. She is not proud of her behaviour, but needs must.

Do you need anything else from me before I leave? she asks Gracious. She sends an impression of her location in case he wants to find her. She wants out of Kifodini, but she doesn't really want to leave things so strained between herself and Gracious.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:54 pm

The man limps away, nursing his broken rib and groaning in pain. Marina watches him stumble back to Kifodini, and hopes that the man can explain his injuries. Perhaps he was attacked by a simba

*****

Laval feels Gracious' reply reverberate in her mind. He's not too busy, and seems to want to telepathically chat.

[Are you free for an Interaction?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:57 pm

Marina moves on immediately, circling a little way around the village so that if anyone follows the direction he came from, or if he changes his mind about secrecy, she will not be trivial to find. She wants to start searching for wych-tracks (what sort of tracks to wyches even leave?), but she's reluctant to put her head down to search so close to the village without the cover of darkness. Maybe she'll have another nap 'til it gets dark.

*****

[Yup yup.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:11 pm

From their respective positions across the troubled town of Kifodini, Gracious and Laval communicate through their mind-link. A lot has happened in the last few days, and their mutual weariness, perhaps, is felt through their connection.

What do you need? Laval's thoughts still have a somewhat stilted, flat quality, lacking emotional nuance.

I suppose I just wanted to ask how, uh, how you were - what's next for you? Gracious responds.

Oh. A pause. I'm not sure yet.

It just struck me that this might be the last time we talked.

Oh.

I don't know. Some dangerous... who knows what might happen, when what happens next happens.

Laval transmits a vague sense of assent. Do you want to yell at me?

I was assuming you didn't... Gracious continues, That you had no interest in - that our goals would diverge.

I can't stay here.

A sense of confusion. I have no intent of staying here either. And... why would I - why would I yell?

You have every right to be angry. My foolishness put you in danger.

It makes a change from my own foolishness. I'm alive. My goals - I did what I wanted - I... I'll always keep laughing until I take the wrong step and die. Ha! But until then... Do you want me to be angry at you? Would it make it easier?

The link opens a little, Laval allowing a sense of warmth into her thoughts. No. I just imagined you still were. I am sorry, for what it's worth.

I'm not saying I don't feel... - the anger I feel isn't because I was almost hurt. It's because you almost were. You were. Don't be... oh, I don't know. Don't be a pawn. Don't let your story end the way psyker's stories always end.

I wouldn't do otherwise if I had the choice again.

No, I know.

Aside from not starting the whole mess, she adds.

I don't think I'll ever... I don't get people. Gracious explains. I don't get feeling attached to them. Gods know how I'd ever hope to understand the bond you had with him.

No, I know. I don't hold it against you. You got under my skin at the time, but I guess you were trying to.

No, oddly. I know what I'm doing when I try to get under someone's skin. I was giving you the truth. My truth, anyway.

A faint amusement, wan and barely there. Ah, well. Sorry for underestimating you, then.

Sadness. Oh, Laval.

Gracious, I don't want to split up, she confesses. I realise we might have to, but...

No. I don't... I don't either. I don't get it. I don't... why would I... this isn't how.

Amusement again. You haven't got me fully figured out yet. Maybe that's it.

Yes, I suppose so. I'll lay my cards on the table: I'm planning to head to the villa next.

Sensible.

Let's face it. If the rumours are true... I suspect I might find it a useful place to have influence in.

Yes. I need to check on Faruha, see if she killed herself. Misery, resignation.

...why would she...?

She was planning her first foray into magic, Laval explains. Not many ritualists survive their first time.

Ah, you mean accidentally.

Yes. I hope I'm done with provoking deliberate suicide.

I'd like to give you platitudes. But you're the expert.

Do you know which way yo- the murder cult went?

Ha. My cult - you see, I'm growing! - ran off - or what's left of them did. Seems the Kifodinans got most of them. Not sure if Ari survived - but I think we would have heard if they'd found her body?

If they didn't have the sense to hide their trail, Imani's probably crawling with soldiers by now. It is a gloomy observation.

Mmm. I was going to head back there. I still have some of my stuff there, like Sten.

We should. See what we can salvage. But I suspect I'm out of places to stay.

There's always Sadaka, Gracious suggests. Grim, I know. But manifestly full of houses and beds.

I suppose. Is there still food and water there, though?

Not sure - I didn't go. Could be worth an explore.

Assent. Gracious, you have influence with the people here now, yes?

Yes.

Can I beg another favour? An undercurrent of thought jokes: I'll soon owe you more than a lifetime's worth...

What?

Do something for the refugees from Sadaka? Convince them that the persecution Nuru encouraged was mistaken? There are children here from Sadaka, beaten and starving, living in hiding for fear of the mob.

There is a pause.

Too much to ask? Laval enquires nervously.

Just... you care, is that it?

Yes. Wary confusion. It's not so strange, is it?

I understand the concept of compassion. Another pause. I'll do this for you.

Thank you. Sincerity, warmth, then a sudden cut-off as an edge of misery starts to creep in.

? A wordless question from Gracious.

Sorry. I'm not totally in control of my emotions right now.

A pause. That's an odd sort of way of putting it. Are you normally?

Yes? They happen, but they don't get in my way.

Ah, I see, yes.

And I can usually control what I broadcast. Embarrassment, the desire to laugh it off.

Ha! I can't conceal that it's interesting to see a little of your head. You've seen enough of my psyche. Such as it is.

If I could let you in, I - well. I might consider it.

How kind. Sadly my mind remains firmly inside my own skull.

A pause, a brief sense of a jumble of emotions - humour, pity?, jealousy? - then a cut-off again. Ugh, she transmits at last, I'm... really slipping. And I mocked you for not thinking clearly.

You've had a pretty awful week. Have you ever faced a mob like that before?

Not and had to stand my ground. You can't get away from mobs as a wych. Imperials, Chaos, everyone loves a good wych-hunt. Humour, though it feels slightly unnatural.

Sad.

We're still here because cornering a wych tends to go poorly for the mob.

Yes, I suppose that's true.

I've not much skill in a fight, but even I can play conduit to the warp if I must.

What is the warp like? Gracious asks.

Horrifying.

I don't mean - of course I've travelled in it - but - yes.

And wild and full of power and entirely beyond what I can wrap my mind around, she continues. Vex loved it, like standing in a storm and screaming and not hearing yourself over the thunder. Mostly it burns like fire through mind and body, and is full of things that want to eat your soul. And what you saw when we stood and fought? The warp was extremely kind to us. We had no right to be so lucky.

I suppose it awaits us both.

Oh, everyone, near as I can tell.

Ours and the worshippers of the Corpse God the same?

I'm not very sensitive myself, but that's what those say who are good enough to feel the souls slipping out of the dead. It's an uncomfortable topic. There's a pause, then Laval changes the subject. What did the people make of the daemon? I'm guessing Nuru's reputation is not very good any more?

Gracious thinks. Oddly, it hasn't come up. I think people would prefer to forget that part.

Well there's good sense in that.

Honestly, so would I. I wonder what death will feel like. What will follow... There are those who serve the gods eternally, one hears.

Yes, so they say. If you work hard enough for one to intervene against the hungry daemons.

Is that why you do it?

No. Honestly I'm not afraid of oblivion. The lead-up will be unpleasant, but so are many things.

Heh. I can't work out how I feel. I don't really believe in things, I just keep on keeping on.

Maybe you don't need to, Laval suggests. Make the best of what's here?

Warmth. Well, I suppose if you're not leaving... He changes the subject. I must be going. I'm vaguely aware I've been talking to the Mbuu about weather for the last ten minutes, but at some point I should probably re-engage my brain there. Let's meet up tomorrow on the outskirts and head to Imani.

Assent. The link will break when I sleep, but until then you can think at me if your plans change.

Where are you now?

Laval sends a brief sequence of images pinpointing one of the abandoned huts in the no-man's-land between where the soldiers have garrisoned themselves and where the villagers are confident to go.

...Lonely.

Better lonely than lynched, Laval returns. I don't have friends here. Except you.

... yes. If you want to talk, just... think.

It's okay.

Then... I'll be seeing you.

It's funny how he thinks he needs to say goodbye, in a sad sort of way. She's still right here. But of course he's not used to communicating idly whilst doing other things, so she respects his wish to leave the link dormant for now.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:44 pm

The mind link proves to be a peculiar kind of torment over the hours that follow. She is sorely tempted to reach out constantly to Gracious for reassurance. With the habits she has formed, it is a constant low-level act of will to not broadcast whatever is running through her mind. But it is not really his comfort she wants, because he is not Vex. The silent, guarded link is a constant reminder of what she has lost. She is very tempted to sever it, but cannot bring herself to let go of that one remaining lifeline.

She does not sleep.

Even as darkness draws in, she cannot sleep. The acute terror of facing the mob has faded back to a familiar dread, but it is still too much. There is nobody to watch over her while she sleeps. Every little noise in the night could be a threat. The stretches of silence between are almost worse. She listens to her own breath and prays for the night to pass peacefully. While she is at it, she gets up on her knees and prays in earnest - silently, knowing that the contents of her thoughts are no secret to the Great Manipulator if He chooses to listen. She gives thanks for the blessing of ritual magic, for the strength that saw her through despite everything, for the mercy of the warp that could have destroyed them so utterly for daring to draw so much power. She prays for Vex's soul. And then the tears come at last.

She gives up on trying to sleep. The weight of grief will not let up. She cries quietly, a skill learned from years of living and sleeping in close proximity to others who may be just as miserable, but who want to sleep uninterrupted. She cries until the tears will not come any more. She cannot escape the memory of seeing him die. And the happier memories that she draws upon to displace it are almost as painful, because they are gone and nothing she can do will bring those times back.

She will need to regain control of herself by morning. There is work to be done, plans to lay. And she still fears that if she exposes the depth of her vulnerability to Gracious, he will betray her or - worse - simply abandon her. No, come morning she must put the mask back in place, return to the mission. But surely she can take this one night for herself to grieve.

*****

Not so very far away, Marina has no trouble sleeping. Her faith in her concealment is absolute. She dozes comfortably in the heat of the sun, waiting for night to fall and grant her the freedom that she needs to search for tracks. If she can find any sign of the wych's passing, she will be back on the trail. And if not, well, it's time to start targetting some of these leadership figures, perhaps, in case they know where Laval went.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:00 pm

The night in Kifodini passes quietly, but it is a charged, uneasy quiet, like the calm before a storm. The townspeople are erratic at the best of times, but, with the soldiers here, there are all the ingredients for something truly awful to happen. Throughout her grief, Laval can only hope that Gracious has enough control over the mob. 

*****

Night falls for Marina without incident, and she returns to the hunt. She starts with where she knows Laval was: the battlefield sight where Vex Carrion died. She searches at length for tracks, but it is a challenging task: there are so many footprints, some older than others, and Marina is trying to distinguish Laval's particular tracks from everyone else's. Fortunately, Marina has hunted elusive prey before. She tries to get a feel for what the battle must have been like, discounting those tracks which are too fresh. She establishes the locus point where the mobs charged at, finds those tracks facing outwards, that point from which the hellfire rained down.

She smiles with pleasure as she finds the imprinted tracks of a heavily armoured man. The townspeople do not wear armour, and these tracks seem heavier than a guardsman in flak. These footprints most likely belong to Vex. Beside them, much lighter, are the tracks of a woman's feet. It is no guarantee, but it is a start, and Marina resolves to follow them.

They lead back into Kifodini, and Marina stalks them like a ghost, evading the attentions of weary soldiers. Fortunately, few Swaad settlements are paved, and the tracks do not let up when she reaches the centre of the town. She is very close to the soldiers' garrison, and Marina takes care to move quietly as she closes in on the woman's movements. The tracks lead in and out of huts, as if the figure was constantly on the move: as if the figure was taking care not to be found. The revelation emboldens Marina, and she continues to follow the footprints, eventually being led to a small hut between the centre and outskirts of town. Listening with sharpened ears, she hears a woman inside, quietly sobbing.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:22 pm

Marina does not know how to deal with crying. If this were truly a target, she would pay no heed to their feelings. But this, if she is not mistaken, may be someone she has to talk to. She dithers outside the hut, trying to convince herself to go in and approach the maybe-Laval. But what do you say to a crying person?

People can't cry forever, right? She'll just pick a vantage point, wait for the sounds to stop, give it a bit of time, and then tackle the situation. And that gives her time to figure out how to approach this.

It's a long time. By the time Marina decides to get it over with, dawn is not so very far away. Maybe two hours at most. If she waits any longer, people will start to wake up. Maybe her target is asleep? That's a comforting thought. Sleeping people are easy to deal with.

She stalks up to the hut, footfalls silent. The door poses a problem. If the woman is sleeping, she should be able to ease it open without waking her. But if she is awake, she will almost certainly notice. Marina gambles on stealth. It is the wrong call. As soon as the door is open far enough for her to catch sight of her target - definitely not asleep, pressed back against the wall in fear - she feels an assault against her mind, snaring her limbs and holding her in place.

"Wait," the woman whispers desperately, "We can talk, don't do anything rash! I don't want any trouble!"

The pressure eases and Marina forces herself to step forwards, letting the door swing back behind her. The compulsion is still an uncomfortable tug at her mind, but she can push past it.

"Sure," she says, spreading her hands to show that they are empty of weapons, claws retracted, "We can talk."

The gesture does not seem to reassure.

"What do you want?" the wych demands.

"You're Laval, right?"

"I- yes. Who are you?"

The mental assault does not cease, but the nature of it changes. Marina feels the other woman's mind knifing into hers, stripping away defences and searching roughly for answers.

"I'm Marina," she manages. She has thought about what to say, but it is difficult to string the words together coherently under the mental assault, "I'm here to- the Lightbringers sent me- I-"

She puts her hands on her head, grimacing, as the wych rummages through memories, pressing ever deeper and more personal.

"Stop it!" she hisses. "Stop stop stop I'm your ally!" Without thinking about it, her claws have unsheathed themselves and she finds she has stepped forwards until she and Laval are face to face in the darkness. She does not know what she means to do. But the wych stops, and Marina steps back, gasping.

"What was that for?" she demands, although now it is done she can see why the wych would have done it. Laval is staring at her with horror and revulsion. Marina is used to people feeling that way about her. There is a tense, uncomfortable silence. "Marina Pardalis," she says eventually, lamely, knowing that the psyker already knows. "I'm here to help with your mission."

"Alright," Laval says, and then again with more conviction, smoothing the disgust from her expression. "Alright. I can use you. This is... this is good."

"I'll say," Marina grumbles, rolling her shoulders uncomfortably and trying to shake the sense of violation from her mind. "I'm amazing."

"Well. So. What do you know?"

So they sit in the darkened hut, Marina completely at ease with her goggles on, Laval desperately uncomfortable with the killer's barely-seen presence. Laval explains the mission, and the situation, and the bare sketch of a plan as to what to do next. Marina listens politely, nods along, daydreams about hunting soldiers in the name of this crazy plan. Eventually it seems like Laval wants her to say something.

"We'd better get you out of here before dawn then," she opines, not looking forwards to trying to smuggle a wych out of the town in broad daylight. "We can meet your friend out there."

Laval acquiesces, still stunned and a little appalled. She defers to the hunter's judgement, letting her scout ahead and choose a path to take the pair out of the village and into the town.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:59 pm

Marina leads Laval through the town, assisting the wych wherever she falters. Laval is tired and stressed, and she stumbles about clumsily in the darkness. Nonetheless, they are almost out of Kifodini when...

"Who goes there?" 

Marina and Laval freeze, hidden behind a farmstead barn. A citizen of Kifodini has awoken from his slumbers, and is waving a brazier about trying to find the source of the noise. The danger isn't posed by the man himself - Marina could rip him to shreds - but by the fire he is throwing about. If a soldier sees the flames and thinks it is a signal, all manner of hell is about to befall the pair. That light needs to go out, and fast.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:21 pm

Laval hesitates, formulating an appropriate lie, contemplating a compulsion. Marina does not hesitate. She knows only one way of getting what she wants.

"Shhhhh!" she hisses, loud enough for him to hear. She slips round the building and out of the shadows, claws out. "Go back to bed. I promise, you don't want any part in this. Put the light out and get out of here, or you find out why."

Laval inches nervously after her, trying to get close enough to exercise her will on the man if things go south. She hopes that Marina's strategy will work, but she is ready to compel silence if she must.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:33 pm

The man stiffens at the sight of Marina, turning his brazier to illuminate the heretic's face. He seems afraid, but resolute, and when he sees Laval's face over Marina's shoulder, his mouth twists into a snarl of pure hatred. Before he can say anything, Laval forces her psyche within his mind. He drives the brazier into the dirt, extinguishing it instantly.

But, as if Tzeentch itself is cruelly answering Laval's thanks, the warp is not so kind.

For a split second, Laval and Marina glimpse the shadow of the warp. An abyss of tentacled, slimy things reaches out towards them, monsters in the guise of mutant men slither out, and the souls of Swaadi civilians scream in daemonic hellfire. Though the terrible vision soon subsides, they soon hear the screams of townspeople from inside the farmstead. The sound carries over the troubled town of Kifodini. There is nothing left to do but flee.

[Laval gains 4 Corruption Points. Marina gains 3 Corruption Points.]

As her weary feet grind the grass of the wilds, Laval bitterly curses the town of Kifodini, the distant sound of angry voices behind her. This town has brought her nothing but misery. Unbidden, the telepathic echoes of Vex fill her soul. His hate, his pain, his frustration. It gives Laval a strength she does not know she has, and the pair disappear into the night, pursued, but soon lost, by soldiers behind them.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:50 pm

Once the initial thrill of fear has worn off, once they are far enough from pursuit to be safe, Marina throws back her head and laughs. What a way to start a relationship! This one's going to be fun.

Something about the madwoman's laughter gets into Laval's head and she finds herself laughing too, though she is far from happy. Maybe it's a kind of hysteria. Maybe it's laugh or cry. And then the act of laughing lends the surreal situation a kind of humour. She wonders what the soldiers must think of what just happened. Though she knows deep down that only terrible things will come of this, the only picture that springs to mind is one of baffled Imperials looking at each other and shrugging, searching under rugs and behind furniture for the daemons that the farmers saw.

Sorry, she transmits facetiously to Gracious, Didn't mean to wake you up.

And then she collapses to the ground, finally out of fucking Kifodini.

"We waiting for your friend?" Marina asks. Laval nods. "You should sleep," she observes, "You look terrible."

Laval does not want to sleep. Especially not here and now. Maybe not ever again. But she does not want to make conversation either. She stalls too long.

"What?" Marina frowns. "Don't you trust me? Even after poking about in my head?"

Laval sighs. "No, I trust you." It's true enough, for now. She saw no betrayal in the woman's mind.

Rather than argue the point, she lies down and pretend to sleep. It's nice to lie down, at least. But there is no way she can sleep so close to Marina. Not after what she saw in her mind. Even lying here with her eyes closed is difficult to stomach. So she starts subtly skimming the hunter's mind. Cautiously, taking no risks. It is not easy. Marina's defences are surprisingly strong. But she gets through every so often, listening in on surface thoughts and hence telepathically watching the killer watch her pretend to sleep. What a way to start a relationship.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:55 am

[Can I clarify which friend you are waiting for?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:33 pm

[Gracious. "Let's meet up tomorrow on the outskirts and head to Imani." Possibly need an interaction for him meeting Marina, but not necessarily.

Also, what do you mean clarify. She only has one friend. ),: ]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:54 pm

[I thought you might have meant Faruha, but I had no idea why you thought she'd show up! Noted, I'll start organising an Interaction on Facebook.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:08 pm

Gracious asks what's going on.

Had some trouble getting out of town, Laval responds. Running away now. Think I'm fine.

He doesn't respond again for a while. Presumably he's sorting out the aftermath of her escape from town. Eventually his thoughts reach for hers again.

Laval.

Here.

What happened?

I got caught sneaking out of town, and then the warp happened. I didn't think it was too bad?

A dozen people are dead. Thought you ought to know.


Surprise, alarm. What?

The soldiers.

Oh no.

Anyone who talked of seeing... whatever. I think I've kept a lid on the people for now. But they're going to blow.


Laval projects an impression of swearing without words - a jumble of frustration and hatred.

No luck on the Sadakans either, I'm afraid, Gracious continues. I did try, but it seems we don't live in compassionate times.

Thank you anyway.


A mental shrug. It was worth a try. I don't think the squad who went Imani-wards have returned.

We'll have to be cautious then.

I'm not sure if I should leave yet or stay to see the soliders gone. The uprising is coming, you know.
Pride. Regret. But too early.

It will be bloody.

You could begin travelling now, or wait until morning and I'll travel with you. But you have more reason to travel under, uh, darkness.

It is morning. More or less.

It is? Gah.

It will be light before we get to Imani either way. I'll wait for you.

Alright. I can't wait for that fucking rock to fall.


Agreement. A series of projected images, pinpointing Laval's location not far from Kifodini's limits.

Got ya. Got food? I could probably bring you some leftovers for breakfast.

Yes, I stole some. More would be nice though, I wasn't expecting to feed two. I found a new ...ally.

... Oh?

Or she found me, really.
Distaste, resignation.

Same warband?

No, but sent by them. Someone must have seen we were in trouble.

What's she like?
Curiosity.

Awful. You might get on. Or not. I'm not sure.

I like awful, sometimes. What kind of awful?

She likes torture. A lot.


Boredom. One of those. An image of a chess piece - a pawn. It is wielding a whip.

Amusement. Appreciation. She's quite good at killing things. So I'm not exactly going to turn the gift down. But I'm not enthused.

No, that type can be useful. And torture can be fun and holy; but torturers tend to be a bit self-obsessed. In my experience, anyway. She met you on the outskirts, then?

No, she snuck up on me in the night.

Hence the incident?

No, that was later. Some farmer nosing around. I'm... not particularly sneaky, especially when I can't see where I'm going.

Alright. What have you told her about me?

Almost nothing, just that you're a friend of mine. She seems to think you're in charge of Kifodini?

Ha. In some sense, not that they know it. It may be best to keep our rivalry on the down low?

Oh, absolutely. The last thing I want is her thinking that offing you is in my interests.


Appreciation. Amusement. It may yet be. But I don't think we're there yet.

Slight embarrassment. Well, I wouldn't want her doing it either way. I owe you that much.

Thanks. Honestly, the same; I can at least appreciate a tit-for-tat. When the Makuu falls, what's your next plan?

Eat my weight in real food and then sleep for a year? Honestly, back home and see what's next on the to-do list.

Where's home?

The Lightbringers.
Discomfort. I thought you wanted to go back to sleep? You'll never manage it with me chattering inside your head...

You're quite right. But I don't think I will now - the squads are back from Imani...


Fear, curiosity.

What's left of them, anyway. Ari must be alive. Amusement, pride.

That's good? Continuing concern.

It looks like they're leaving. Dawn at the latest, I'd guess. I'll slip out after that.

Fear again, sharp and then stifled. Which way? Do you know yet?

Back to the Makuu, I think. Stay away from that side, I guess.

Pulling their forces back in? That might be a good sign...

They look bored, frankly. Lots of wounded, not much reason to stay here...


Disgust, loathing.

Achievement. I think we've weathered it.

What a hero.
Amusement.

Squad's just come back after you. They looked pissed for having their time wasted.

I shall add them to the list of enemies I have mildly annoyed by running away from them.

Truly you are one of the great monsters.

I wonder if I get credit with Tzeentch for mildly annoying that daemon? Hah.

I imagine you did, but also didn't, but also did, but also half did and also upside down. If I understand your ultimate master's nature, anyway.


Laval transmits amusement, tinged with mild horror at the irreverence. Well, I don't like right-side-up anyway.

Ha ha! Right. I'll meet you in a couple of hours. What does this new friend of yours look like?


Laval responds with an image - hazy at first then snapping into sharper focus with concentration. Like all her transmissions it's not as clear as reality, but it shows a tall, armoured woman wearing goggles and grinning like a maniac.

Alright.

*****

Laval waits with her companion for Gracious to arrive. Dawn has risen, and a hazy, yellow sun creeps over the horizon like a stalking beast. It throws a shimmering warmth over the Swaadi wilds, and reminds Laval and Gracious of how tired they feel after limited sleep. Kifodini has not been the most relaxing of places to visit, and perhaps both are glad for the town to be behind them. They meet on the slope of a shallow hill, out of sight of the town, and on the right side to avoid any marching soldiers.

Gracious smiles and yawns. "Ha, so, uh, it's, uh... it feels like it's been a while, you know?"

Laval looks shattered, but her new "friend" seems well rested, staring un-self-consciously at Gracious from beneath goggles that are now pushed up on her forehead. "Yeah," she responds, "It does."

"You must be Gracious!" Marina exclaims, "Hi!" She grins enthusiastically. It is not a friendly expression.

Gracious responds with a similar grin. He puts out his hand. "Hi! Gracious - and you are?"

"Marina!" She reaches out to shake. Her hands are cybernetically reinforced with an exoskeleton of steel and exposed synth-muscle, though the palms and pads are unobstructed.

"Good, uh... strong handshake. Good sign, yeah, uh... So you're new to the area, eh? Laval been telling you - situation's a little delicate, now - well..."

Mind the claws, Laval warns, watching them shake hands.

"Ooh, ooh, could you get me a soldier? No, I suppose they're leaving..."

Claws?

They come out of her fingers.


"Ha! Time enough for that," Gracious responds aloud. "I think you've missed the action for now, though."

"Shame. So what do you do, when you're not pretending to be a preacher?"

"Drugs, mainly."

"Hah! Ooh, do you have any Rose?"

"I don't have any on me. But if you're interested, I could probably make you some."

"I love Rose. It's so good." She licks her lips, smiling. "You don't take it?"

"First rule of dealing is not to get high on your own supply."

"I had a Rose addict once." She sighs, looking wistful. "He was the best, I loved him to pieces."

"And then he was? In pieces, I mean."

"It was very tragic."

"Ha! What you need to do is give them something to make them more durable also."

"What I need is better disinfectant."

"Infection?"

"Yeah. Such a shame."

Don't encourage her, Laval admonishes silently.

Speaking as someone who is as mad as a basket of hammers. She is mad as a basket of hammers. As such, I'm enjoying this. But point taken.

I regret reading her mind.

How deep did you go?

Too far.


"So we're off to Imani?" Gracious continues, "Got some things to check on there."

Yeah. It's a mess!" Marina exclaims.

"You were there?"

She nods and thumbs towards Laval. "Tracking her. Their Mkuu went sorcerous and killed a bunch of cultists." Laval winces a little, but stays silent.

"Faruha."

"Yeah, that's the one! Burned a bunch of them to death and the rest ran off barefoot into the wilds like a bunch of idiots."

"And her?"

Marina shrugs. "Iunno?"

"Did you see someone with... distinctive mutations? You'd know what I mean."

"Nope. Only saw the one person, and she wasn't a mutant."

"Right."

"Oh, and the fleeing idiots, but I don't think any of them were either."

"Ah well. Maybe some of them are still alive." Simultaneously he speaks across the mind link to Laval. What is your plan in Imani? Especially now you have this one in tow.

"Well they've only been in the wild a few days, so maybe. I could fetch them, if you need them?"

Mostly just damage control for Faruha.

"Oh, I generally find the wild makes people," Gracious opines. "Wouldn't want to interrupt the testing path, eh?"

"I wonder if they'll eat each other..." Marina muses.

Hammers.

Then I need to move on and find a way to get influence into the Makuu itself... Laval continues. She's good at kidnapping, that might help.

Well, you've done good work there already, I suppose. I was going to suborn the Villa first, as I say. The Deacon is the link there, I think?

I hear they have good contacts with the Makuu? Laval queries simultaneously.

Perhaps we'll meet each other halfway? You tunnel through their minds, I their souls, and we'll dig until we see daylight?

The link goes silent briefly on Laval's end, then there is a sense of agreement, though it feels a little hollow.

Are you alright?

Yes. Just... yes. Remembering.

?

You're getting much smoother at telepathy.

I like it. It feels smooth.


Out loud, he picks up the conversation with Marina. "So did you bring any current playthings, Marina? Or are you sans?"

"Mm? No. Can't feed them. Can barely feed myself."

Gracious begins to move in a way that indicates a desire to start walking. As if inspired by the thought, Marina attempts to reach into Laval's bag, presumably in search of food. Laval pulls away irritably. "Yes, let's get moving," she agrees, walking away from Marina.

Marina looks vaguely offended. "I'm hungry," she protests.

Gracious reaches into his bag and brings out a crust of stale bread and some sort of local sauce in a brown pot. "Here."

"Thanks!" She accepts the food and tears into it hungrily as they start walking.

Laval. Do you know of any way a non-psyker can become one? Properly, I mean. Not Spook. I...

I haven't had time to think about it. But I'm sure it can be done.

No, of course. I'm just...

Sometimes powers manifest after attracting the attention of the Changer of Ways. I imagine ritual magic could achieve a similar effect...

Hardly without risk. Poor Twisby. But such are the ways.

I'm not as strong as Vex was, but if Faruha survived, she might be able to help me...

I suppose we'll see.


He strides on, making small talk with Mariana and Laval in turn, sometimes simultaneously, even. He seems enamoured by the chance to have two ways to hear his own voice.

As they walk towards Imani, Laval thinks about Gracious' request. If nothing else, it's something to take her mind off worrying about what she may find when she gets there.

[Buying Daemonology +10]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:43 pm

The hidden lore of psychic ascendancy and its connection to the daemonic is known by very few in this galaxy. However, the Lightbringers have this knowledge, and Laval has studied well under her mentors. She knows of one ritual, but it is very perilous, requiring both a delicate hand and an iron fist in the ritualist’s control of the warp. The Lightbringers preach that all things can change – but magic, the literal force of change – can often mutate and twist the present in ways that are not predicted or desired.
 
The Rite of the Royal Birth is dedicated to the Great Conspirator, Tzeentch. Nine shaman – sages, wyches or elders who are respected for their knowledge – must be arranged in the shape of a crescent moon. They are to be surrounded by candles that complete the gaps in the shape between them, and forms the ritual bounds. The individual to be infused with power – known as the Changeling – must be placed within the ritual bounds, and the shamans must hum meditatively and ruminate on matters of philosophy, sorcery and the warp. The ritualist (who may be one of the shamans) must then speak the words of power as the throat of each shaman, one by one, is slit with a golden knife. Each death represents the opening of a floodgate, the power of the warp growing more and more difficult to control with each drop of blood. The ritualist must direct this power into the Changeling. From there, both the ritualist and the Changeling must, through sheer will, harness and control this warpstuff, lest it reshape the Changeling in ways not desired.
 
Many Changelings survive this experience, but most can no longer be described as human. Transformed into psychically charged chaos spawn, their minds devolve, becoming dangerous, frenzied wych-beasts. Yet the powers unleashed are also highly perilous for the ritualist. If the warp is not harnessed, then the full might of the immaterium can be unleashed, mutating reality and breaking the ritualist apart with magics.
 
The more powerful the shaman, the more power infused into the individual. Ancient heresies circulate that the Emperor was once infused with power in such a ritual: a hypothesis that, if true, would threaten to bring the whole Imperium crashing down under the weight of its own hypocrisy.
 
[The Rite of the Royal Birth works mechanically as follows:
 
To undertake the rite, the ritualist must possess one of the Forbidden Lore (Daemonology), Forbidden Lore (the Warp) or Scholastic Lore (Occult) Skills. If they possess all three, then they gain a +10 modifier to their Willpower Tests in the ritual.
 
At the first death, the ritualist must take an Easy (+30) Willpower Test. This Test is modified by ritual modifiers as usual. At each death, the ritualist must retake the Test, but at one band more Difficult than the last. For example, the second death requires a Routine (+20) Willpower Test, the third an Ordinary (+10) Willpower Test … and so on.
 
If the Test is ever failed, then roll immediately on the Psychic Phenomena Table at +10, a number of times equal to the number of the death. For example, if the ritualist fails on the third Test, they roll three times on the Psychic Phenomena Table at +20. The effects of each Psychic Phenomenon should be applied before moving on to the next Test. For each roll on the Perils of the Warp Table, the ritualist takes 1 Corruption Point. If the ritualist is incapacitated by any Psychic Phenomena, they suffer an additional 1 Corruption Point but are not incapacitated until the end of the ritual. Note that death does not count as incapacitation for these purposes!
 
Once the ninth Test has been taken, the ritualist’s job is mostly over, and it is down to the Changeling. The Changeling must take an Arduous (-40) Willpower Test to contain and harness the power of the warp. This is affected by ritual modifiers as usual, and can benefit from Assistance from the ritualist. For each Degree of Failure, the Changeling gains a mutation as if through a Failing. If they fail by 4 or more Degrees, the sheer energies of the warp either destroy or irrecoverably spawn them (PCs can burn Infamy to avoid this fate).
 
Once this Test has been taken – whether or not the Changeling succeeded – the Changeling gains the Psyker Aptitude and the Psy Rating (1) Talent. This means they can spend further XP gaining Psy Ratings and Psychic Powers.
 
There is no Cost involved in the ritual, other than those incurred by failing Tests. There is no Price of Failure, other than those incurred by failing Tests.

Note that the Rite of the Royal Birth is intentionally very difficult. Becoming a psyker is an impressive feat, and most go mad in the attempt. If the ritual does not result in any psychic phenomena or mutation, then all involve gain 1d10 Infamy for this legendary feat and mastery over the warp.]

By midday, the village of Imani is visible in the distance. A farmer notices the familiar faces, and by the time the group arrive at the village proper (is Marina with them?), there is a small crowd of worried but smiling villagers. Faruha is not present, however. When Laval asks after her, she is returned with scared expressions. One woman, one of the older individuals of Imani, speaks up.

"She's gone wrong, that one," the woman alleges. "Been delving in things beyond our ken, and she's paid the price."

Inquiries suggest that Faruha can be found in the Mkuu's hut, and that she has not come out all day. What does Laval do?


Last edited by The GM on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:51 pm

On being assured that Laval does not have any particularly exciting business in Imani, Marina excuses herself to find a nice spot to take another nap. She is not afraid to enter the village, but she's been up a long time now and wants more sleep.

Laval goes straight to Faruha, worry tight in her gut.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:39 am

[Given Gracious is also planning to talk to Faruha straight away, this should be an Interaction. Is 3pm a good time?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:54 am

[Yeah? I think so. Or any time really until this evening, at which point I'm playing a different game.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:24 pm

Laval and Gracious are pointed by faltering hands to the Mkuu's hut. The village of Imani fear that place, and it is hard not to feel the same sense of dread when approaching its cracked, wooden door. Laval knocks to announce their presence, then tries the door. It opens, just as Faruha's voice cries out for her to be left alone. Inside, Gracious and Laval see the changed Mkuu of Imani.

The first they see is a pair of long, wicked talons in the place of fingers. They click, almost like the sound of a beetle's mandibles. They drip with a black, dangerous ichor. Her skin seems darker, before Gracious and Laval realise that she has grown thin, wiry, black hairs from head to toe. It's replaced the hair on her head, where her eyes have split and multiplied like that of a fly. Her nose has extended slightly to resemble the proboscis of such a beast, and she scuttles and chirrups away from the light.

"Gesht awaysh!" she manages, her voice muffled and strange. She hides from the light like a mad beast. Laval recoils briefly despite herself, horror and pity mingling on her face before she gets a hold of herself.

Gracious stands there, his face a mix of emotions, before hardening into a grimace. "Fucking hells."

"Faruha, it's me.... oh, Faruha..." Though her hands tremble slightly, Laval steps into the building and approaches warily. Gracious leans against the inside of the doorway and watches.

"I trieshed," the thing mumbles, "But I cansh't... cansh't think..." Almost reflexively, Faruha is startled from her position by Laval's movements and darts to the other side of the hut.

"It's alright, you don't have to be afraid of me," Laval continues, trying to make her voice gentle and hide the tremor, "It's me, Laval, I'm here."

Can anything be done? Gracious telepathically asks Laval.

Faruha does not seem quite able to register what Laval is saying. When the wych steps closer, she suddenly pounces, her talons flashing through the air. Laval jumps back, missed by a whisker, and the beast retreats into the corner of the room, its many eyes blinking. "... Schlaval..." it says, as if trying to remember. "Schlaval..."

Probably not, Laval responds. The thought is grim.

Could you take her out of this form, put her mind elsewhere?

Her mind is affected, look at her.

The vessel shapes the contents. But I see what you mean. I trust your expertise.

"Help me..." Faruha says, her many eyes flashing with recognition. Its voice is muffled and piteous, pleading. "Help me, Schlaval..."

Laval makes no further attempt to approach, but continues to speak, meaningless platitudes and reassurances.

If ever there was a thing to ask for an intercession for... Gracious begins. Well. He clears his throat. "Are you... does it... are you in pain? Can... I could try to alleviate... at least make you more... some sort of sedative?"

Faruha begins to shuffle closer to Laval. She looks up as Gracious speaks. "There ishk no... eschkaping... thishk," she mumbles, her talons clicking. "There ishk no... eschkaping... thishk. There ishk no..." she loses track of her words, before glancing back to Laval with an inscrutable expression.

Laval tries her best to hide her fear and project reassurance. "Does it hurt, Faruha? Something for the pain? To forget?"

Faruha contemplates slowly. "Youshk... want to... killshk me?" She stumbles a little closer to the wych.

Laval... Gracious warns.

"If you want," Laval offers, trying to keep her voice steady, "Only if you want. I meant a drug, to make you feel better, to help you be calm."

I know, she returns to Gracious. 

Faruha half-collapses, falling to her knees. "It hurshts," she moans. "It hurshts."

"Obscura, Gracious," Laval asks. "If you still have it... don't move too fast..."

Gracious readies of a dose of Obscura and moves slowly towards the thing that was Faruha.

Give her more than she needs, Laval notes.

Enough to...?

As Gracious hesitates, Faruha looks at him, her many eyes welling with tears. From her mouth she begins to slaver, twitching and sobbing.

Enough to put her to sleep, Laval answers. A gun can finish the job.

Gracious slowly nods, readying a double dose.

"There there," Laval murmurs, "There there, Gracious is going to make you feel better."

Faruha does not move as Gracious steps closer, and, if Gracious chooses, he can administer the dose. But, for Laval, something suddenly is terribly wrong. Laval feels it. Something is terribly wrong. It's in the way one of Faruha's eyes looks up at Laval. It's that glint, of an intelligence that is not hers.

Wait, Laval suddenly communicates. She glances around nervously, trying not to make any sudden motions. Did you feel that?

Gracious pauses, his hands on the injector. No.

Something's not right. I don't- But I don't see what else we can do...

... What did you...?

I don't know. But be on guard, the Obscura might not work.

"What's the matter?" Faruha asks, her voice suddenly returning to normal. Gracious begins to back away slowly towards the door.

"Faruha?" Laval offers.

Run, Gracious tells her.

"Yeshk?" Faruha falls to the ground, slowly crawling after Gracious and the drug that will alleviate her terrible pain.

Something's up, Gracious insists. Already frightened, used to receiving telepathic prompts, Laval reacts to Gracious' prompt and backs away fast.

"Pleashk..." Faruha begs. "Pleashk, Graschious... friend... Schlaval..."

She may be more than mutated, Laval remarks. Possessed?

Yes...

I don't know what to do.

The pair reach the door. If they choose, they can step out and close it behind them. "I was never your friend, Faruha," Gracious tells her. "I was just a thing that happened to you." Let's leave her for now, he adds.

Faruha absorbs this information, struggling to comprehend it. "Whasht?" she manages. "I donsh't..."

Laval winces.

I wonder if that might provoke... Gracious suggests. But Faruha simply begins to sob, great hacking sobs that leave her essentially paralysed on the floor of the hut.

Gods, possessed or not, can't we just...? Laval thinks.

Can you not look at her with your mind? Gracious asks. See what lies within?

I'm not that sensitive. There's something terribly wrong, that's all I know.

"... helpshk... helpshk... helpshk..."

Gods. It... Gracious trails off. Laval starts crying, and he reaches out to her. 

A sudden flash of fear reverberates through Laval's mind. Killing her might release what's within.

Yes. That is my thought. Like the fruit...

Faruha lies on the floor, crying most softly when she hears Laval's tears. It seems to comfort her, in some strange way, and her sobs become less physical, less paralysing. Granted the slightest of respite, she huddles into a ball on the round.

A daemon tried to get inside Vex once... The thought from Laval is faint, almost absent-minded, perhaps not intended to be voiced across the link.

That voice... Gracious notes. Her voice changed. You heard it?

Yes.

Faruha slowly calms, her body uncurling. Laval stiffens, then makes an effort to relax. "We.. we have to help her..." she voices aloud, voice wavering. Don't force a fight...

You don't have to, Gracious comments. I understand you want to.

"I'm sorry Faruha," Laval says aloud. "I'm so sorry this happened to you... please, forgive me for being afraid, I just..." I don't want it to give up on one idea and try a more direct one.

Try saying the names of the gods? See if whatever is inside her responds.

Faruha stands. She looks absolutely exhausted, and wanders over slowly to a chair. She collapses into it, and looks up at Laval and Gracious. "I - I - think it's gone, for now," she stutters. "Can I please have water?"

"Oh, thank Tzeentch," she exhales. "Yes, I have a little."

Faruha reaches out with a trembling hand, her fingers still gnarled into long, daemonic talons. Swallowing fear again, Laval offers what she has. "I should have waited for you," Faruha admits bitterly. "I should not have tried..." she takes the water, and drinks it greedily, slurping it slightly through her mutated mouth. "I checked so many times, Laval, I..." she wipes away a mass of tears. "I'm not safe," she finishes.

Gracious stays silent, tensed by the door.

"You are inexperienced," Laval nods, "You've done better than most on their first attempt..." She wipes her own tears, still stifling further sobs. "I- I don't know what to do for you."

Laval... Gracious warns. This... I've got a bad feeling.

I don't know which is which, concurs Laval.

"There's something in my soul, Laval..." Faruha replies. "It sits there, and spreads like a mass of worms. It says this village never belonged to us, or you, or Lord Tzeentch. It says it is just the beginning of the relapse. It says..." Faruha sniffs. "It says it will take me."

This sudden coherence... Gracious continues. It feels off. But I may be shooting shadows.

My best guess is this is Faruha, the other the daemon trying to convince us to kill her. But I'm not sure.

"A servant of Plague... the enemy never relents." Laval exhales, clenches her fists. "We must be able to do something."

"What do I do, Laval? Gracious?" Faruha asks.

"Can you tell us a little more about what you were trying to do?" Gracious asks.

"Keep resisting it," Laval urges. "It feeds on despair. Have hope, and I will try to find a solution." I will not willingly give this village back to Plague, she tells Gracious.

I understand that. You fought hard for it. We fought hard for it.


"There is no hope without despair..." Faruha responds, but she nods. "I was trying to make the evil ones go away. Those that come here to butcher us and steal from us. I..." she looks down, almost apologetic. "I'm sorry Gracious, I know that these are your... but they are bad for Imani. I thought... I am the Mkuu... that..."

Gracious scowls as Laval responds. "You succeeded."

"Fuckers," Gracious curses. "Wonder where they are now. Was Ari with them?"

"I... it is hard to remember," Faruha confesses. "Yes, I think so. I think it came and she fell to the ground. When I awoke she was gone."

Laval considers what to do. I believe our options are exorcise it - which runs the risk of it simply jumping hosts - or kill her and hope we can deal with the daemon if it manifests.

I like the former more. I'm going to find Sten, see what he can tell me...

You're not the primary target for becoming the next host, Laval notes. The bitterness of the thought is softened by resignation and a certain warmth.

If it gets out, we're all targets... Gracious responds.

Faruha shifts slightly, a little uncomfortable by the silence. "Laval... where - where is Vex?"

Pain slips across Laval's expression before she catches it. "He-" she swallows, "He's dead."

Faruha looks shocked. "... How?" she asks.

I don't want to leave you here with it... Gracious notes.

"A preacher," Laval tells Faruha. I... yes.

"But... but why: why didn't he stop them? Why didn't you both stop them? I..." Faruha stifles a sob. "I'm sorry. That... that isn't fair."

"We tried." Tears form in Laval's eyes again. "We tried, and... and. I'm sorry. Listen, there's no time for mourning."

"But you must have tried... please," Faruha begs, "If it is not too painful, I would like to know. Why did a preacher come for Vex?"

Gracious telepathically communicates a sense of apprehension and warning, but Laval presses on. "Our mutations. I tried to help someone in Kifodini, and they saw our mutations. Faruha, please, I need to go and set things up to try and help you. I wish I could stay with you, help you stay strong, but I can't."

"So... so it was an accident?" Faruha asks, "No, please, stay with me just awhile. I haven't spoken to anyone for what seems like so long."

It is trying to hurt you, Gracious notes.

"Faruha, I- I can't." The pain in Laval's voice starts to be accompanied by a certain hardness. "It's too painful to talk about." I know.

Do you think there's anything of Faruha left at all? Gracious asks.

"Well, at least he was surrounded by friends," Faruha acknowledges, nodding. "I'm sure you both did all you could. You were there also, Gracious?"

Yes. Probably, Laval responds. "I.. I'll come back to you, Faruha. I'm not abandoning you. I just need to.. to try and figure out 

Gracious doesn't answer Faruha, he just stares uneasily at her. She stares back for a few moments, before her face falls. "You see me as a monster," she sighs. "It is true. It is why I keep myself in here, so my friends and people do not despair. I will not give the beast within that." She nods in recognition of Laval's words.

Laval nods back. "Stay strong, Faruha. I'll come back for you."

Faruha remains silent as the pair leave the hut, closing the door behind them. They look around to see a small crowd of Imani villagers, looking on with trepidation and worry.

"You did the right thing in keeping her in there," Gracious tells them. "We're proud of you - very resourceful. Laval is going to think and see if there's any medicine or other way of helping her."

Laval nods.

"We didn't keep her in there," one of the villagers responds shakily. "She was - well, I don't know - so we carried her there, and there she stayed of her own accord. We bring her food, and sometimes she takes it."

Don't take everything I say aloud at face value, Laval tells Gracious. I can't help but try and play the game.

In there? No, I know. But equally... Gracious turns to the person that spoke." Do, uh... have you seen Sten - I need to, uh, have a word?"

A few villagers nod in response to Gracious' inquiries and point in the direction of a nearby hut. There, Sten is asleep, somehow having slept through the entire commotion, propped against a wall. The two heretics separate, exhausted by their travels and with possibilities to explore.

Throughout the conversation, Laval has considered the specifics of two rituals that might be of assistance. The former is the Ritual of the Changing of the Ways. A rite dedicated to Tzeentch, the ritual represents the ultimate malleability of the warp, and its power over mortals. Those who have impressed the Great Deceiver have sometimes woken up the next morning, all their mutations changed, demonstrating the ascendancy of the immaterium over the body and Tzeentch's purest expression of change. Such things can be brought about by terrible ritual, and the most powerful of ritualists have even claimed that it can reverse the death of those long passed. But often the changes can multiply, for the warp is fickle and does not obey the commands of mortal wills.

The Ritual of the Changing of the Ways requires the channelling of magical power, and only wyches can perform its rites successfully. The ritual must take place in a location pleasing to Tzeentch: for example, a place of worship dedicated (secretly or not) to the Lord of Lies, a place blasted with magic, or a place of occult learning. There, the individual to undertake the Change must be ritualistically sacrificed with nine, separately prepared blades, and their blood collected and burned on enchanted braziers. As this goes on, the ritualist must call out in defiance of fate, deriding that which pretends to be unchanging whilst unleashing their magical power. At the height of the ritual, the braziers must be pushed over to cause a great fire: that, if the rite has been successful, will envelop the target of the ritual, but will not burn them or their surroundings. When the fires clear, the individual will be alive, and changed.

[The Ritual of the Changing Ways can only be performed by a psyker. The ritual requires a Very Hard (-30) Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) Test. The Cost of the Ritual is 1d5 Corruption Points, and 3 rolls on the Psychic Phenomena Table due to the sheer magics unleashed. Where it would make sense, the effects of Psychic Phenomena are permanent in the location affected. The Price of Failure is the permanent death of the target of the ritual, and a roll on the Contempt of the Warp Table, with a +10 modifier for every Degree of Failure after the first.]

Laval also considers the possibility of exorcism. It certainly can be done: the followers of the Corpse God have been known to perform such feats. Yet the Imperial rituals are not easily performed by the Acolytes of Chaos. They work on dogged ignorance, a blind faith that strips the humanity away and becomes an anathema to chaos. Such things are not easily replicated by one who has had their eyes opened a long time ago. Fortunately, however, there are dark rituals detailing the expulsion of the daemonic, and Laval knows of them.

The crucial first step is to learn the alignment of the daemon. Once learned, the ritual must reflect the god that commands the spirit. At the heart of the ritual is the idea that the ritualist is granted favour over the daemon possessing the victim. This favour can be granted in a variety of ways, and the ritualist is encouraged to perform a task unique to themselves, thus inviting the warp's esteem directly onto themselves. What is key is that the manner of acquiring favour should be specific to the correct deity, if the immaterium is not instead to angrily strike down those who ignorantly ask for gifts. Even those dedicated to gods other than the daemon's can earn the warp's favour in this way, no matter how briefly, though it is more difficult to achieve. 

If favour is granted, the daemon is coaxed forth of the victim and must be directly mastered by the ritualist. If they should fail to master the daemon, then the daemon is given ownership of the ritualist's soul, and possesses them. If successfully mastered, the daemon can be sent elsewhere - or, with sufficient will - banished entirely.

[The Rituals of Exorcism work mechanically as follows. The ritualist performs an act glorifying the desired god. If the act designed to gather favour is impressive enough to provide Infamy, then the ritualist gains +10 to the ritual for each point of Infamy gained in this way. Moreover, for each point of Corruption gained, the ritualist gains +5 to the ritual. The ritualist should then take a Very Hard (-30) Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) Test, rolling off the Infamy or Corruption Characteristic, modified as usual by ritual modifiers (note that aligned Heretics may be at penalties to banishing daemons of a different alignment).

If successful, the daemon is exorcised from the target of the ritual. Note that this does not guarantee their survival: once exorcised, a heretic must immediately take a Challenging (+0) Toughness or Willpower Test or perish. An exorcised heretic permanently reduces their Fellowship by 3d10 and their Wound threshold by 1d5. They also gain 2d10 Corruption Points, gain the Skill Psyniscience (Per) at +10, the Fearless and Resistance (Psychic Power) Talents and the Dark Soul Gift of the Gods. They gain immunity from incurring any further Gifts of the Gods.

At this point, the ritualist must take a Daemonic Mastery Test (modified by ritual modifiers) against the daemon. If failed, then they are possessed. If successful, the ritualist can use the daemon to try and possess another individual. The daemon and this individual should take Opposed Willpower Tests and, if the daemon is successful, it possesses the new host. Alternatively, the ritualist can make the Daemonic Mastery Test at a -20 penalty to banish the daemon outright on success.

Alternatively, the ritualist can have it so that the possessed individual takes the Daemonic Mastery Test (modified by ritual modifiers) against the daemon. If the possessed individual succeeds in the Test, they have control over the daemon and can invoke it like a PC. If failed, the individual suffers 2d10 Corruption Points and remains possessed.

A final alternative is that the ritualist may attempt to bind the daemon more securely within the current host, rather than exorcising it completely. This poses no risk to the possessed heretic. The ritualist takes a Daemonic Mastery Test (modified by ritual modifiers) against the daemon. If they succeed, the daemon is sent dormant into the host. It will slowly prey on the host, and once the host reaches maximum Corruption, it will manifest fully, killing the host. In the meantime, the daemon cannot establish control or be invoked. If the ritualist fails this Daemonic Mastery Test, they are not possessed - instead, the currently possessed character suffers 2d10 Corruption Points and remains enthralled.

The Cost of the ritual is 1d5 Corruption Points, along with the risks involved in the ritual. The Price of Failure at the Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) Test is 2d10 Corruption Points for the current host, and a roll on the Contempt of the Warp Table at +10 for each Degree of Failure after the first.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:57 pm

A little later, Laval sitting alone with the surviving dataslate, pondering, Gracious reaches out to her again.

Laval.

Here.

Can... uh... can we talk? This is fine, I mean.

Of course. Her thoughts are calmer now, with less emotional bleed. Or out loud, if you prefer. Either's fine.

I like this. So I talked to Sten. He confirmed her story - that she was, uh, trying to stop... yeah. They're mostly scattered.

I've thought about the situation, and I think you're right. I don't think we spoke to Faruha at all - or if we did, then she is enough under its influence that it makes no difference. That confirms what Marina said as well.

Oh? Where DID she go?

Marina? She said she was going to have a nap and disappeared over the hillside.

Right.

We could set her on the daemon,
Laval suggests. And Ari, if you can find her?

Not sure where she is. I'm not keen to stay here long. I don't... I understand you want to fix this.

I don't want to cede this place to Plague. But... maybe you're right.

Ari might be able to... Faruha - or that thing - said that she... maybe she has some insight into what it is? Sten was useless, although he has invented three new toxic substances in the last week. ...Guess how he discovered they were toxic?

Oh dear.

It's OK, he keeps a supply of Stimm to stop heart failure.

Oh dear. It's a warp entity,
she continues, a servant of Plague, probably a relatively powerful one since it's smart.

You're sure it's Plague, then?

What else would it be?

She was acting against the... my... The only thing it won't be is Change. And probably not the Blood God.

I doubt a servant of the Blood God would restrain itself from striking against me, no. Insectoid doesn't seem right for Slaanesh.

Suffering, manipulation... I don't know. Could be either. But we took this place from Plague, so I think that probably is the best guess.


Acknowledgement.

Honestly, Gracious continues, I just don't want to spend long worrying about it.

I can't exorcise it. Won't. So it's kill her and then face the daemon directly, or leave well alone.

May I be callous for a moment?

Are you ever not?
Humour, warmth.

You wound me. When the Makuu falls, or is falling, a demon might be a useful asset to... employ. I appreciate the obvious... problems.

Yes.

It's either that, or we set our pet trained killers on it now and damn the consequences. Take it up to that fucking hill...

Setting aside pride,
Laval muses, Imani is a useful asset, at least to me. It's a place we can sleep relatively safe and walk abroad without worrying about lynch mobs and fanatics.

Yes: the same for me, in honesty.
Fear, revulsion, memories of Kifodini.

But is it worth fighting a daemon, possibly a powerful one, over?

Honestly: my feeling is no.

Oh.
Sadness. I forgot. Vex never got round to warning you - I suppose you may already know.

What?

Your disguise, that hides your mutations, it's not impenetrable. A sensitive wych will feel it.

I'd assumed as much.
Pleasure. I like it that way.

Warmth from Laval, tinged with sadness.

I look forward to being truly fearsome and scaring the life out of some poor sensitive in years to come. Honestly, I don't remember feeling the way that humans are meant to feel. A monster on the inside, the smiling face outside - it's all I've ever been. It'll just be more... real. A flash of sadness, quickly covered by humour.

I'm a little jealous, Laval confesses.

Ha! Your lord is not known for its subtle gifts.

Not just that. Though also that. A lot.
Humour.

You'll miss being... blending in?

It's certainly made my life harder. Oh well, maybe I'll commit ritual suicide someday to change it up.

Don't do that.

I might get better.
Humour.

Heh. I can only imagine you growing in terrible splendour and beauty.

You are a terrible flatterer.
Amusement, appreciation.

I can't imagine you as one of those mewling wrecks that becomes those who walk too close to the flame with nothing to show for it.

A mental sigh. Faruha. Maybe I should have tried to forbid it...

It happens, you know.

Oh yes, to most who try it.

It's like me and fucking pleasure cults.

Ha!

Can't stop them. There is something within the human soul that calls out, that is drawn in. Chaos is. Oh, you've got me all sentimental even, and I a cynic. Laval...

?

Sten told me something else. It was his fault. What... He took initiative.


Worry. He interfered? Is he alright?

Which I have expressly forbidden him from doing since the time he almost blew up an entire city block. He snuck to the ritual circle after Faruha had prepared it, erased a sigil.

I'll say. We're lucky Imani's still standing.

He was fine.

Well, at least that's a less catastrophic interference than possible...

I have communicated to him my express disapproval. Indeed - but perhaps it was not your teaching nor Faruha's folly that led to this?

I mean, maybe if I'd warned you this wouldn't have happened, so... I can't hold it against him too much.

There. Some hope for you.


Amusement.

My intention is to leave tonight, Gracious announces. Probably I will sleep after dinner, and we will make our way in the middle of darkness. ...would you like to have dinner? It may be... we may not see each other again.

Gracious, are you asking me on a date? I didn't think that was your style.

No! Not as... such. More a last meal.


An uncomfortable pause. We're not going to keep working together, then?

I... I would like to.


The emotional content of the link is muted, Laval clearly not transmitting whatever she is feeling.

But we're going in different directions and we have different goals, Gracious continues, Those who hired me may not look kindly on shared glory. I would... I would very much like to... I don't..

Fine.


A mass of emotions from Gracious. Laval... Fuck.

I'm sorry, that was short. I didn't mean...

No, it's... I care about you, OK. I like you. Fuck. I don't like anyone! I hate this!

Should I... apologise?
The thought is still peculiarly flat, lacking depth.

It's not your fault. Why would it... You're just engaging. You have depth, and warmth. You recognise my bullshit for what it... no-one does that and still...

I like you.

You saw inside my hollow head and you still... Oh. Good?

I don't regret liking you. It's... it's been good.

I would... I don't want this to be goodbye goodbye.

I don't want this to be goodbye at all. But.

No?

Why would I?

But you're going to the Makuu. I'm heading into the villa.

I don't think I can just walk up to the front gate and waltz in.

I... I'll be honest. I was assuming one of our lucks was going to run out.

Yes. It seems likely. To be honest, your odds are better without me.

I don't want to... I don't want you to...


Another telepathic silence from Laval.

Do you have another way? Gracious asks.

You mentioned that the villa has good links with the Makuu. I suppose I hoped...

Oh!

Other than that, I guess it's let Marina start kidnapping soldiers until we hit on something useful.

I had assumed... your mutations...

That would be a bit of a problem, yes.

I would love it if you could come with me to the villa. If there was a way...

I fooled a couple of people in Kifodini, but Nia saw straight through it. I am sorry she died.

So am I.

I could commit ritual suicide and hope that I get better more subtle. But I'm not keen.

Well. The villa has grounds. I'm reasonably sure I could get in there, and in any case I might need backup...

I would love to be your backup.
Tentatively, the flow of emotion resumes - hope, relief, an undercurrent of fear.

From Gracious, happiness. Right! I'm still leaving tonight, though. Whatever you want to do about Faruha, it happens soon.

I can't save her, I don't know that I can fight a daemon... I guess it's write this one off as a failure. Marina prefers to travel at night anyway.
Distaste, exhaustion.

Get some rest now. Let's eat later, rest some more, and then set off.

Laval wordlessly expresses a certain weary disbelief.

?

Can't sleep.
Embarrassment, a mental shrug.

Not at all?

Maybe I'll have some success without that lunatic staring at me...

I could probably make you up something.


Mistrust slips from Laval's thoughts into the link, rapidly replaced by guilt.

A simple sleeping draught should be within even Sten's capabilities. Though I'll do it. If you wish. What do you want?

Safety?
Self-deprecating humour. But I'm not getting that, so.... I wish I could convince myself that neither Marina nor the daemon would murder me in my sleep.

Right. I'll keep Marina busy?

With what? Why don't you sleep, since you actually can.

...alright... I'm going to be kipping at the back of the building me and Sten are in. You know the one?

Yeah. I'll... do inadvisable rituals or something.

Well... you could not?

You know I used to think summoning daemons was dangerous? Ha!

If you really feel a need to do something, do it. If not...

No, I'm just kidding around. I just seem to spend all my time lately enumerating the ways in which magic could kill me.

Well, you can always sit round and make conversation with Sten while I snooze. Or see what happens when I dream... I don't tend to remember my dreams.

I actually haven't tried that...

Would you like to?

Sure, why not.

This appears to be a plan that starts with me getting comfortable, and given that I'm sleeping on a battered bedroll, that will take some concerted effort. I guess I'll see you in a bit...

You don't think me staring at you accusingly would help you sleep?

If you were staring at me in a vaguely threatening manner, I think I'd be far from asleep.


Amusement, a certain satisfaction.

But maybe you'll catch that in my dreams. Who knows? See ya!

Happiness, warmth, then silence from Laval.

True to her word, she stays quiet and out of Gracious' way for a while, giving him time to get to sleep, then makes her way to the place where Gracious and Sten are staying. She waves a little awkwardly to Sten, murmurs a polite greeting. If he is amenable, she makes hushed small talk, trying not to wake Gracious.

And then she accepts Gracious' invitation, curious to find out whether she can spy on dreams. She reaches out gently, subtly so as not to disturb his sleep - repeatedly if need be - skims for surface thoughts. If it proves easy, she goes deeply into his psyche, curious to explore his new plans and his feelings about her, but if it does not go smoothly she does not try hard. Mostly she is interested in observing dreams.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:13 pm

The unconscious mind is surprisingly difficult to penetrate, without the conscious thoughts and desires to betray weaknesses or open doors. Moreover, subtlety is paramount, lest the victim of the magic awake. And yet, Laval is an accomplished telepath and knows this particular mind well. She allows the feeling of swaying to fill her mind, her body reflexively shifting to the rhythm that will allow her to slip under the veil of dreams and into what lies beneath. Having meditated and found that rhythm, Laval allows her twisted mind to reach out its tendrils, to simply expand and find its way into its home away from home. She enters into Gracious' mind, ready to experience his dreams and find his psyche at its most vulnerable, and yet most powerful. Does she seek to influence his exposed mind at all?

[Just waiting on Wren for details of his dreaming.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:12 pm

To the sleeper, a dream can sometimes form the illusion of something like a narrative. Ideas and sensations and thoughts intermingle, a whirlwind of information and impressions intertwine, and the unconscious mind sorts and makes them into something whole. Laval, having invaded Gracious' unconscious mind, perhaps gets a feeling for this kind of narrative. But, approaching the dreams from an external perspective, she experiences them for what they really are: chaos.

There are pictures, slamming through Gracious' mind as if being fired from a gun. A painfully thin man convulsing as spittle drools from his lips. A woman, screaming as her nails scratch and splinter across the floorboards. Laval's face, standing over Gracious, a smile of something like affection or perhaps victory. Glory, loss, hatred, ecstasy. Places crafted of ancient stone. Forests that burst and scatter into flames. Chemicals strewn together into potions of bubbling and fumes. Laval cannot quite get a hold of them all, cannot quite hold on long enough to understand fully, to get more than an impression. It is somewhat frightening. Behind this chaotic mind are secrets, absences, complications and darkness, and though Laval can guess at them, they are all the more horrifying for their brevity of influence.

After Gracious wakes, he and Laval eat once more in Imani before moving on. It is an amiable time, where the worries of their compact can be set aside - or at least enjoyed - in a competitive and engaging back-and-forth. Having finished a homely goat's-blood soup, Sten pops in and notes that everything is set up for the group to leave. Gracious turns to Laval, to confirm that she is coming with him.

[I'd like to avoid another Interaction, as Wren wants to move forwards with the compact. Is Laval going to the Villa?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

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