Turn 4 Thread

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Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:14 pm

[It is now Turn 4. Please use this thread for posting this turn. Gracious and Ari are now able to complete another Secondary Objective: which one do you choose?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:27 pm

I'd like to choose "Find and nurture the corruption at the heart of the Villa", I think.

Could you just give me a reminder of where things are at with Gracious and Ari so I can set the scene in my mind?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:22 pm

"Wake up, for fuck's sake, wake up."

Ari bursts awake screaming, power blade immediately in hand. Hasnaa jumps back with a string of expletives, narrowly avoiding being impaled on the assassin's weapon. Ari barely notices. Her soul has been travelling for what feels like years. Brothel palaces of beauty that conceal monsters and insanity. Irresistible treasures that weigh too heavy on the soul. The corruption of pleasure itself, transformed into pain, its bearers never knowing the distinction. Hell.

"Ari, Ari, listen to me, damn it..."

This place is... dimmer. It is like the colours have been drained from Ari's vision. On Hasnaa's face there is a speck of blood on her forehead. It doesn't match the stains around her mouth. It is imperfect... Ari cannot stop focusing on it. 

"Ari! We don't have time for this!" Hasnaa slaps Ari hard to the face. It hits like a bucket of cold water, and for a moment Ari's black, inhuman eyes fix on Hasnaa with deadly intent. But the murderous feeling passes, and reason returns.

"The rest have run off," Hasnaa explains quickly. "I dragged you some of the way after them, but, well, look." She points into the distance. "See those two dust clouds. One of them is our idiotic friends. The other, I reckon, is soldiers. I bet our lot haven't even noticed them yet, but the soldiers have. They've changed direction. We gonna do anything? You with me?"

*****

Elsewhere, Gracious Obscura is having rather a less fraught time of things.

As a guest of honour, he has been invited to stay at Mkuu Mosili's hut. It is much larger than any in Imani, and is even decorated - if somewhat primitively. A bowl of freshly slaughtered meat is served up to him, and a hunger Gracious didn't realise he had is being sated. 

The Mkuu seems worried. He is nattering on about the soldiers occupying the town, and Gracious is responding almost on autopilot, reassuring him. Lieutenant Naasir has occupied the church and central huts, only permitting the Mkuu to stay where he is. Yet soon Sergeant Macha will return after hunting the Slaaneshis, and the soldiers will surely move on. They already have their tithe, and with the marauders seen off, their job will be finished. Gracious imagines it is far nicer for the soldiers at the Makuu than in Kifodini.

Vaguely, chomping on the delicious meat, Gracious wonders where Laval is. It occurs to him, that, should he like, he can communicate with her by thought.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:35 pm

As if on cue, Gracious hears Laval's voice within his head.

Do you need anything else from me before I leave? she asks.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:10 pm

Ari scrambles into action. She grabs her gun and armour, and then heads over to the lab where Sten works. She threatens him until he gives up a couple of doses of Satrophine, one for her and Husnaa (I defined Gracious as having took 10 with him - so there should be some still here.)

She then explains to Husnaa that they are going to run off and get closer, maybe to draw off the soliders, maybe not - it will depend on numbers and what the situation looks like.

---

Gracious responds to Laval. [I would like an Interaction?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:51 pm

Sten knows Ari, and though the threats make him work a little faster, they aren't necessary for him to hand over the satrophine. Ari injects it hard, and exhales in relief to finally get her fix. Her muscles bulge as her eyes seem to move into her head, hyper-aware and blood pumping fast. At her side, Ari sees Hasnaa having much the same reaction. They get running. 

Their feet pound the dirt, kicking up plumes of dust. Ari feels the warmth of the air as she cuts through it like a javelin. She feels the movement of blood within her veins, her pulse increasing and increasing until it feels something will burst. She smells the dust and the grass, each grain of aroma savoured and focused upon. They are gaining on the soldiers, but the pair stop once they can see them in more detail. Ari grimaces as she sees that fleck of imperfect blood on Hasnaa's forehead, but forces her attention on the task at hand.

There are twenty of them, moving fast on the Slaaneshi cultists. The cult still hasn't noticed it is being pursued, but the soldiers are only 300m away and they're going to notice soon for sure. There certainly are a lot of those soldiers, but Ari does carry a sniper rifle and has a good 500m on the other side to play with. She'll need to get a little closer if her bullets are to reach them, and there is no cover to speak of, but perhaps she can work havoc on them at range. Alternatively, those soldiers will descend upon her cult and almost all of them will die. What does Ari decide to do?

[Just realised that I haven't got round to Ari's satrophine addiction. I think 1d5 Corruption per real-world day is too punishing, so I'm going to make every two days count as one for the purposes of addiction. Still, it's been a while, and Ari gains 9 Corruption Points.

In terms of mechanics for combat, Ari's gun has a maximum range of 450m. A lasgun has a range of 300m (and they will be suffering from -30 for Extreme Range: Ari, meanwhile, has a telescopic sight and suffers no penalties for range). The enemy have a magnitude of 35. A sniper rifle is not ideal for fighting hordes, but Ari has good conditions for sniping.

Noted on the Interaction.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:56 pm

Ari will get a little closer and focus on the killing. She aims for shots that will kill slowly, rather than ending lives instantly - perhaps thinking of the pain she saw in her dreams.

She'll ask Husnaa to get a little closer and draw the solider's attention, staying out off the range of their bullets in the main but distracting them from the sniper fire.

---

Am available now if you wish.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:06 am

[Ari is mutating! She did not achieve a Slaaneshi gift, so she has the following options. Before resolving combat, I'll see what your choice is, as it may be relevant.

Steel-hearted: Having stared into the depths of the warp, it is hard for Ari to feel fear. She reduces all Fear ratings by 1, to a minimum of 0. Furthermore, Slaanesh's instils some of its bottomless contempt for those dedicated to worship of the Emperor. Ari reduces all Fear ratings from such individuals by 2, to a minimum of 0.
Boneless: Some of Ari's bone tissue dissolves, weakening her but making her more flexible. She permanently loses 1d10+10 Strength, but gains 1d5+2 Agility.
Burning Body: The character's body is permanently aflame, but the Dark Prince gifts Ari invisible flames that none will notice until it is too late. Those grappling with Ari must take a Challenging (+0) Agility Test each round or take 1d10 damage. They are invisible, and so do not betray Ari's position.
Chaos Organ: Ari's chitinous right hand develops fully into the razor-sharp crab claw of a Daemonette. She gains the Natural Weapons (Claws) Trait with the Razor Sharp Quality, but cannot hold or wield anything in that hand (so cannot use two-handed weapons).

What do you choose?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 3:48 pm

[See above for Ari's mutation.]

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.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:04 pm

Burning Body, I think. I assume they affect anyone getting close enough to touch Ari whether she wants them to or not?

---

Gracious will mention the refugees from Sadaka casually in his conversation with the Mkuu. "I just think... the better thing is - I mean, Kifodinans are important - but you've had so many of yours pass; it seems unwise to push out those who can help the village recentre - heal wounds, be magnanimous, aye?"

There's little that can be done for the Sadakans directly - and he doesn't think he'll get much traction from the mob - but he's encouraging the Mkuu to heal wounds and to embrace the refugees - even as second-class citizens of Kifodini, that is he supposes better than death. He can't see an obvious problem with it - and Laval seems to want it, for whatever reason...

The plan is, as stated, to prepare to leave for Imani as soon as the soliders will let them - and thereafter make his way with Sten (and possibly Ari), if she lives, to the Villa. But I suppose we'll see what develops.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:41 pm

Ari sprints forwards, throwing her body to the ground after each spurt, before springing up like a wild simba. Hasnaa gives pursuit, but she is behind by the time Ari lines up a shot. The soldiers haven't noticed and are gaining on the Slaaneshi cultists fast, who, in their infinite laxity, haven't noticed their pursuers. Ari opens fire. Despite the muffling of the weapon's suppressor, the noise rings out over the wilds and the soldiers turn. They see her horrifying form, but hastily barked orders from their sergeant keeps them in line. Lasfire begins to ring out.

The soldiers, well-disciplined under fire, split into two squads. One runs in the direction of Ari, whilst the others lay down suppressing fire on the cultists. The Slaaneshis dive to the ground in panic, but there is little cover and armed only with pistols, they can do little but begin crawling away from their aggressors. Ari cannot give them much attention. She aims, and fires, blowing out a kneecap. She aims, and fires, missing the neck of a soldier by a whisker. She aims, and fires. She aims, and fires. She aims, and fires.

The incoming squad are starting to come into range for their rifles, and Ari curses as a flurry of suppressing fire pins her against the dirt. She can't take her time with her shots without risking catching a las-round. To compensate, she increases her weapon's setting to give it more stopping power. She watches as Hasnaa runs directly at the soldiers, not quite close enough to distract them fully from the sniper, but starting to attract their attention. Elsewhere, the cultists are being gunned down by methodical semi-automatic fire, caught in the open. At this range, few of their wounds will be fatal, but all pretence of cohesion has abandoned the cultists and they are scattering like insects, scuttling along the floor.

The whipcrack of lasfire forms a constant beat. Ari keeps up a steady rate of fire, sometimes putting a soldier down, sometimes grazing a shoulder, sometimes missing. Though the satrophine dulls the pain, Ari winces as she is struck by the odd round, burning through her armour and leaving lasting wounds. Her body contorts to avoid further shots, but there are simply too many flying towards her. She looks for Hasnaa, and sees her starting to crawl away from the conflict. Ari cannot blame her. Her friend was brave to run directly into those guns in the first place.

Ari reloads the weapon with a practised ease, the steady rate of fire delayed by mere moments. She has almost downed the squad sent to deal with her, leaving a string of men and women howling in pain and fear. But the Slaaneshi cultists have completely scattered, leaving half of their number behind, and the other squad is running to reinforce their comrades. Hasnaa has fled. The cultists have fled. There is nothing else that Ari can do for them. Springing to her feet with a hiss, she sprints away from the soldiers of the Makuu. 

Her boots pound the dirt of the Swaadi wilds, her satrophine-infused mind relishing the run. She has done well: those cultists would have been slaughtered to a man if she had not intervened. On the other hand, those left must survive deep in the wilds with no equipment or resources. It's a training process of sorts. Those still alive are bloodthirsty killers, experienced under fire and, perhaps most importantly, lucky. When they inevitably turn on each other in the wilds, only the most brutal and skilled will return.

[Ari has suffered 8 Wounds, and so is on 7 Wounds.]

*****

Mkuu Mosili grimaces slightly. "It's true that there's been too many corpses of late," he acknowledges. He hesitates, though, and Gracious realises that the Mkuu is scared. He dares not try to deny the mob their blood, for fear that his head will be added to the pile. If he is to be convinced to do anything, he must be sufficiently emboldened.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:20 pm

Ari retreats back to Imani, cautiously, to lick her wounds and to find Hasnaa.

---

Gracious begins to reassure the Mkuu - "look, look, certainly it will be troublesome - but the thing is, if you don't try to control the mob, the mob will control you - you're certainly possessed of the charisma - I'm sure, look - ulitimately aren't you the chief? And you aren't denying the mob their blood, to completely - unite them against the common enemy! That's what I - that's what I'd do."

He is attempting to charm the Mkuu into at least attempting the above.

When he's socialising and interacting with other key figures in Kifodini, he'll also casually bring up the Sadakan refugees, and try to influence their opinion. His goal is to make the resistance that Kifodini can bring stronger by getting them to see the Sadakans as a resource to be exploited, rather than a vermin to be exterminated.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:00 pm

The Mkuu shakes his head, charmed by the compliments but not persuaded. "I'll do my best," he promises, before abruptly changing the conversation. Gracious does not think Mosili will do anything to put his neck on the line. After dinner, Gracious talks with Kele and makes some progress towards granting amnesty to the Sadakans, but their hatred and contempt is ingrained deep, and the mob is still working out their leaders. Consumed by fanatical mentality, negative emotions are easy to sell - reconciliation and peace are less popular. 

The hour is getting late, and Gracious settles down to sleep. He is afforded a comfortable goat-hair rug to rest on, and sleeps soundly into the night. When he wakes, it is to the sound of soldiers hastily preparing for battle, orders yelled from squad to squad.
 
Sorry, Laval’s voice echoes in his mind, Didn’t mean to wake you up.
 
Groggily, Gracious picks himself up and moves with the scared Mkuu Mosili to outside the hut. A farmstead on the outskirts of the town seems aflame, but, when Gracious rubs his eyes, he realises that it is simply surrounded by townspeople with braziers. There are sounds of screaming from the area, and soldiers are running fast towards the illumination.
 
“It seems the soldiers have it handled…” the Mkuu suggests hopefully. He may be right. But the more the soldiers interact with the people, the greater the chance that Kifodini’s antipathy towards the Makuu will be detected. What does Gracious do?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:12 pm

Alright: having tried his best, or at least tried, Gracious won't push the Sadaka issue further.

---

Gracious decides to wander a little closer and get an eye on what's going on. He's ask Laval if she knows what's occuring.

He won't get too close to the action - but he does want to get close enough that he can tell if the villagers and the soliders are at odds.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:24 pm

Gracious watches as a squad of soldiers go running into the night, stablights fixed to their rifles, pursuing some foe that seems to have moved outside the town. At the farmstead, blearily eyed and terrified townspeople splutter about daemonic presences and wychcraft. Gracious can barely make out Lieutenant Naasir's face in the darkness, but he seems unfazed and cold. He delivers a curt order to his soldiers, and the shooting begins. It is over too quickly for anyone to run: within seconds, the dozen or so men, women and children who spoke of daemonic visions are dead. The suddenness of it shocks Gracious, and he backs away with fear.

Gracious looks around to see other onlookers, who watch with fear and fury. He makes a slight hand gesture, a gesture that communicates stay. The rest of the town does nothing as the soldiers collect the bodies for the pyre. It is a fresh humiliation of Kifodini, another example of their pride quashed by their own, hypocritical cowardice. Gracious just hopes that the soldiers leave the town soon, before someone here finds their courage.

[If you'd like to go ahead that Interaction, feel free. I can't stay up to watch it (getting up early tomorrow) but if you put it on a joint Skype conversation, I'll be able to read it in the morning.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:25 pm

[Righto.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:49 pm

Had some trouble getting out of town, Laval telepathically remarks. Running away now. Think I'm fine.
 
Right, Gracious responds. He falls silent for a while. Laval.
 
Here.
 
What happened? he asks.
 
I got caught sneaking out of town, and then the warp happened, Laval explains. I didn't think it was too bad?
 
A dozen people are dead, Gracious returns. Thought you ought to know.
 
Surprise and alarm echo from Laval’s mind. What?
 
The soldiers, Gracious begins.
 
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.
 
From Laval there is an impression of swearing without words - a jumble of frustration and hatred.
 
No luck on the Sadakans either, I'm afraid, Gracious notes. I did try, but it seems we don't live in compassionate times.
 
Thank you anyway, Laval thinks.
 
Gracious gives a mental shrug. It was worth a try. He pauses. I don't think the squad who went Imani-wards have returned.
 
We'll have to be cautious then, Laval notes.
 
I'm not sure if I should leave yet or stay to see the soldiers gone. The uprising is coming, you know. From Gracious emanates a deep feeling of pride. It soon becomes regret. But too early.
 
It will be bloody, Laval remarks darkly.
 
You could begin travelling now, or wait until morning and I'll travel with you, Gracious tells her. But you have more reason to travel under, uh, darkness.
 
It is morning, Laval returns. More or less.
 
It is? Gah.
 
It will be light before we get to Imani either way. I'll wait for you.
 
Alright, Gracious accepts. I can't wait for that fucking rock to fall.
 
A sense of mute agreement filters over from Laval’s mind. Gracious sees a series of projected images, pinpointing Laval's location not far from Kifodini's limits.
 
Got ya, Gracious confirms. 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. From Laval comes a wave of distaste and resignation.
 
Same warband? Gracious asks.
 
No, but sent by them. Someone must have seen we were in trouble.
 
What's she like? Gracious queries, his thoughts charged with 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 resonates from Gracious. One of those. He projects an image of a chess piece - a pawn. It is wielding a whip.
 
Laval responds with amusement and 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? Gracious presumes.
 
No, that was later, Laval confesses. 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, Gracious responds. In some sense, not that they know it. It may be best to keep our rivalry on the downlow?
 
Oh, absolutely, Laval agrees. The last thing I want is her thinking that offing you is in my interests.
 
Gracious’ thoughts mirror Laval’s appreciation and amusement. It may yet be. But I don't think we're there yet.
 
Slight embarrassment filters from Laval’s mind. 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? Laval jokes. Honestly, back home and see what's next on the to-do list.
 
Where's home?
 
The Lightbringers. Discomfort echoes in Laval’s mind. I thought you wanted to go back to sleep? You'll never manage it with me chattering inside your head...
 
Gracious pauses as he hears orders yelled from the other side of the town. The two squads sent after the Slaaneshis have returned, and many of them are badly injured. Some have not returned at all. You're quite right, He notes, But I don't think I will now - the squads are back from Imani...
 
Laval communicates fear and curiosity as Gracious continues. What's left of them, anyway. Ari must be alive. Gracious expresses amusement, pride.
 
That's good? Laval continues, with continuing concern.
 
Lieutenant Naasir’s response to the returning soldiers is swift. He seems to have tired of this town, and is eager to leave for the relative comforts of the Makuu. Though he is busy organising stretchers for the wounded, and supplies for the short journey, they should be setting off by dawn at the latest.
 
It looks like they're leaving, Gracious reports. Dawn at the latest, I'd guess. I'll slip out after that.
 
Fear rings out again from Laval’s mind, sharp and then stifled. Which way? Do you know yet?
 
Back to the Makuu, I think, Gracious clarifies. Stay away from that side, I guess.
 
Pulling their forces back in? That might be a good sign...
 
They look bored, frankly, Gracious notes, Lots of wounded, not much reason to stay here...
 
Disgust, loathing runs freely from Laval’s mind. Gracious, however, communicates a sense of achievement. I think we've weathered it.
 
What a hero, Laval remarks amusedly.
 
Meanwhile, Gracious watches as the squad of soldiers sent after Laval return to Kifodini. They have come back empty handed, and do not even seem sure that they were even pursuing anything. The platoon now regrouped, Lieutenant Naasir is not waiting on any of his soldiers to return. Gracious lights up a cigarette and watches the soldiers coolly from a building, collecting together some food.
 
Squad's just come back after you, Gracious notes. 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.
 
Gracious is relatively ignored by the busy soldiers. He watches as Sergeant Macha makes her report to the Lieutenant. He is too far away to hear her, but off the firelight he can read her lips for the odd word. Mostly destroyed. Fled. Sniper. The lieutenant nods. He seems satisfied with Macha's report, and gets back to the business of organising the departure from Kifodini.
Laval communicates amusement, tinged with mild horror at the irreverence. Well, I don't like right-side-up anyway.
 
Gracious silently laughs. 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.
 
Gracious makes his goodbyes with the Mkuu. He promises to be back within a week or so, and to hold tight until then. Though Mosili makes some protestations - along the lines of "What am I going to do?" – Gracious reassures him and parts on good terms. He leaves just after the soldiers. A few farmers are already awake, but Gracious is well-liked in Kifodini and his passing is not treated with suspicion. Soon, Kifodini is behind him.
 
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, it does," Laval agrees.
 
"You must be Gracious! Hi!" Marina 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 advises telepathically.
 
"Ooh, ooh, could you get me a soldier?” Marina requests. “No, I suppose they're leaving..."
 
Claws? Gracious queries.
 
They come out of her fingers.
 
"Ha! Time enough for that," Gracious responds to Marina. "I think you've missed the action for now, though."
 
"Shame,” Marina responds. “So what do you do, when you're not pretending to be a preacher?"
 
"Drugs, mainly."
 
"Hah!" Marina pauses for a heartbeat. "Ooh, do you have any Rose?"
 
"I don't have any on me," Gracious confesses. "But if you're interested, I could probably make you some."
 
"I love Rose. It's so good." Marina licks her lips, smiling. "You don't take it?"
 
“First rule of dealing is not to get high on your own supply,” Gracious notes.
 
"I had a Rose addict once." Marina sighs, looking wistful. "He was the best, I loved him to pieces."
 
"And then he was?" Gracious smiles. "In pieces, I mean."
 
"It was very tragic," Marina muses.
 
"Ha! What you need to do is give them something to make them more durable also."
 
"What I need is better disinfectant," Marina suggests.
 
"Infection?"
 
"Yeah. Such a shame."
 
Don't encourage her, Laval darkly communicates.
 
Speaking as someone who is as mad as a basket of hammers, Gracious begins. She is mad as a basket of hammers. As such, I'm enjoying this. But point taken.
 
I regret reading her mind, Laval responds.
 
How deep did you go?
 
Too far.
 
"So we're off to Imani?" Gracious asks aloud. "Got some things to check on there."
 
"Yeah,” Marina smiles. “It's a mess!"
 
"You were there?"
 
Marina nods and thumbs towards Laval. "Tracking her. Their Mkuu went sorcerous and killed a bunch of cultists."
 
Laval winces a little.
 
"Faruha," Gracious notes.
 
"Yeah, that's the one!” Marina confirms carelessly. “Burned a bunch of them to death and the rest ran off barefoot into the wilds like a bunch of idiots."
 
"And her?" Gracious asks.
 
She shrugs. "I’unno?"
 
"Did you see someone with... distinctive mutations?" Gracious presses. "You'd know what I mean."
 
"Nope,” Marina answers, “Only saw the one person, and she wasn't a mutant."
 
"Right."
 
"Oh, and the fleeing idiots,” Marina grins. “But I don't think any of them were either."
 
"Ah well. Maybe some of them are still alive," Gracious returns conversationally. Silently, he communicates with Laval. What is your plan in Imani? Especially now you have this one in tow.
 
Marina ponders Gracious’ remark. "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, Laval advises.
 
"Oh, I generally find the wild makes people," Gracious remarks to Marina. "Wouldn't want to interrupt the testing path, eh?"
 
"I wonder if they'll eat each other..." Marina grins.
 
Hammers, Gracious comments to Laval.
 
After damage control, I need to move on and find a way to get influence into the Makuu itself... Laval considers Gracious’ aside. She's good at kidnapping, that might help.
 
Well, you've done good work there already, I suppose, Gracious remarks. 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 notes.
 
Perhaps we'll meet each other halfway? Gracious suggests. You tunnel through their minds, I their souls, and we'll dig until we see daylight?
 
The link goes silent briefly, then there is a sense of agreement, though it feels a little hollow.
 
Are you alright? Gracious asks.
 
Yes. Just... yes. Remembering. Laval registers Gracious’ curiosity. You're getting much smoother at telepathy.
 
I like it, Gracious admits. It feels smooth. He turns to Marina. "So did you bring any current playthings, Marina? Or are you sans?"
 
"Mm?” Marina responds, “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 her thought, Marina attempts to reach into Laval's bag, presumably in search of food. Laval pulls away irritably. “Yes,” Laval says, “Let's get moving."
 
Marina looks vaguely offended. "I'm hungry."
 
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!" Marina accepts the food and tears into it hungrily as they start walking.
 
Laval, Gracious thinks, 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, Laval comments. 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, Gracious observes. 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. Gracious 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.
 
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, 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 Gracious do?
 
*****
 
The night before, and Ari has been tracking Hasnaa. Her friend had not gone very far, but Ari had to run a fair distance to evade the pursuit of the soldiers. Coming back to the scene, the light of the day is beginning to fade, and Ari is not much of a tracker. It takes her the better part of the evening to find Hasnaa, hiding in a patch of long grass beneath the shade of two hills. Upon seeing her, Hasnaa shyly makes her way down.
 

“… Hey,” she starts, awkwardly. It’s hard to tell exactly what she’s thinking. Her eyes pass over Ari's heavy injuries. “You ok?”

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:12 pm

Gracious goes to see Faruha, natch. If Laval doesn't come with, he'll soon update her.

---

Ari sits on the grass.

"...no. I'm all fucked up, here" - she gestures to her body - "and here..." - to her head - "it's just... ugh. What's the point in finally having some power if it's so hard to use? What's the point in any of this? What are we doing, Hasnaa? What are we doing with our lives? What's the fucking POINT?"

She thumps the ground in anger.

If Hasnaa acts to comfort her, she will respond and welcome it.

If she acts otherwise, I'll decide based on what she does how she reacts.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:47 am

[Given Laval is also talking to Faruha right away, this should be an Interaction. How is 3pm?]

*****

Hasnaa shuffles slightly, but does not come closer. Ari realises, perhaps accompanied with a wave of loneliness, that Hasnaa is afraid of her when she's angry.

"Whatcha mean?" she asks cautiously, "You downed eight of those fuckers. Some of them aren't ever getting up again. That's something. That's... fun."

She bites her lip. "And those bastards would have killed all our friends if we hadn't been there. Sure, those idiots will probably start going crazy in the wilds, but a little craziness never hurt anyone."

Despite her fear, she leans in slightly. "I don't think I actually give a shit about them," she confesses. "What we're doing, what the point of all this is... it's to be free, and experience it all. You should have been there," she smiles, wistfully, "When I was running at those guns. For the briefest moment, I was fearless. I was a fucking god." She shrugs. "Then reality kicked in, I guess. But I'd do it again."

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:42 pm

Ari slowly smiles.

"That sounds awesome. I'm so glad... I'm so glad you got to have that moment! I..." - she sighs slightly - "it's still me here, Husnaa, under... all of this. Still Ari. I'm... I'm glad you're here with me. That we get to do this together."

"Do you want to stay in Imani? Or... I want to go, far from here... maybe even out there" - she points up - "I think Gracious could find us a way. I hate him, I think - just some other fucker come to wreck us for his own purposes - but..."

"Do you want to come with me?" She holds out a hand to Husnaa.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:26 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.

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. Gracious thinks through some options. He has heard of mutants who have gone bestial. The danger is they forget who they are, and strike at others, or otherwise act like the creatures they resemble.
 
Those daemonically possessed, meanwhile, can for some time hide their possession, and the daemon inside often evades psychic detection. Over time, the mutations will grow, but some strong-willed individuals can control the possession within, letting it out occasionally before channelling it back into the depths of their soul. Their fate is damnation and destruction, but in the meantime they can learn to wield terrifying power.
 
Most individuals do not have this choice. Most, when possessed, are completely and forever enthralled to the daemon. In the majority of cases, the daemon will simply seek to escape its mortal coils. The possessed individual's body will mutate at a rapid pace until the daemon bursts forth in a gory mess of blood, and wreaks destruction before disappearing to the warp. In some cases, the daemon stays, though their motivations are as myriad as the warp is chaotic.
 
Gracious thinks through the reasons that a daemon might wish its host to be destroyed. One option is that destroying the mortal bonds of a daemon will release it. It will most likely wreak havoc before eventually being banished back to the warp. Furthermore, causing death and suffering can satisfy a daemon’s infernal will.

"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.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:29 pm

Gracious is going to go to Sten and get him to tell him everything he knows about what happened with Faruha, and anything else that's been happening since he's been gone.

He'll also tell him to make preparations to leave for the villa - he intends to leave in the next day or so. Gracious is considering leaving Laval to deal with the Faruha problem.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:35 pm

Other than the whole ritual business, not much has happened for Sten in Gracious' absence. Without the Slaaneshis, Imani has been fairly quiet and dull, and Sten has pissed away the time experimenting with new chems, ingesting them, stabbing himself with Stimm to avoid heart failure, and nursing horrible headaches in the aftermath. However, he does admit to Gracious that he messed up the ritual circle, noting that Faruha was planning to do something against the cult. He is sympathetic to and a little abashed by the point that (1) Faruha did do something against the cult anyway and (2) Sten put the entire village in terrible danger.

Sten nods and gets to packing up: he can be ready to leave in under an hour, once he's packed up the chems and found some food for the journey. If Gracious wants to leave Imani quickly, he can. 

Indeed, though he is friendly with Laval, Gracious is mindful that the glory of bringing down the Makuu is not something that should be lightly shared. If she wants to be slowed down by helping some local cultist, the more the better.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:09 pm

Gracious reaches out to Laval. 

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. Once Gracious is in a deep slumber, she attempts to cipher through his dreams. What is Gracious dreaming of?

*****

Hasnaa hesitates, staring at Ari's hand. It is long, pitted with black chitin, mimicking the form of a vicious, crab-like claw, but still, ultimately, human. But, after a few moments, she takes it. 

"Fuck Imani," she replies definitively. "And fuck Gracious. We can kill them all, go wherever we want." She pauses, a wicked smile appearing from ear to ear. "Our world is chaos, Ari. It's a playground. And there aren't any rules to follow anymore."

"Let's kill Gracious. Let's burn Imani down. Let's find those idiots and make them our slaves. Let's dance and kill and torture until the Dark Prince himself takes notice."

She smiles warmly towards Ari. "Let's do all that together. You say you're Ari. But you're not. I've known you since you were a kid. You're so much fucking better."

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by wren on Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:05 pm

I'm not sure Gracious would have conscious knowledge of his dreams: feel free to write something for Laval. Themes: gaining power/apotheosis, loneliness, complicated feelings of affection/rivalry/deference/defiance towards Laval.

I'm really keen to move along to the villa ASAP - at current post rates things are taking a while to do small things and I really want to progress stuff!- so I'm going to say that unless Eleanor does something, plans will continue as described above - have dinner, leave at night - and Sten and Gracious will head towards the villa - hopefully with Laval in tow?

---

In aid of the similar things, w.r.t. Ari.

Ari smiles confidently. "Alright! Let's fucking do it. Let's find Gracious and the wyches and fucking do for them."

Ari is going to start tracking them - Hasnaa - but they won't go to Imani. My aim is for them to catch up to Gracious near the villa, again in the aid of progressing things along rather than being stuck in one place. I'm a little worried about my PCs being directly antagonistic, but I think I have an idea for how that's going to resolve - but this turn has been quite low on actually doing stuff, so I want to push it on.

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