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Rolled 1 (1d5)

You are Royce of the line of Grimuald, a lineage steeped in black magic and tyranny, last living descendant of the Horned King. The time is right to reveal your legendary bloodlines survival after a hundred years in exile, for the Emperor is mad: every day more capricious, more erratic, more unstable, favorites beheaded and fools put in charge of an empire slowly falling into chaos while being anywhere in the All-Sovereigns line of sight becomes increasingly hazardous to health and livelihood. You have an appointment to see him in ten minutes.

You check yourself over as you prepare to make your entrance, listening with one ear to the enraged ranting of the Prime Royal at his current appointment, hoping that he doesn't simply cancel this rare "working day" and retreat to the harem wing again. Finally your time has come after a lifetime in hiding and moving from town to town, surviving as...

>[Pick Two, or sacrifice a Fate Point and pick three]

>A Sorcerer

An illegal occupation, but a family tradition. Secretly practicing with what little magic you have left in your veins and learning to control your inheritance.

>A Knight

A free rider, overcoming the fear of sorcerers that all horses have and mastering the saddle as few sorcerers ever do. Only mediocre in straight battle, your reputation is for cunning and good fortune.

>A Man-At-Arms

A sellsword, and a good one with a flare for dirty fighting. You've had success leading small mercenary units with clever tactics and quick decision-making, gaining a feel for the ebb and flow of battle and using abhuman soldiers to great effect.

>A Freeman

Farmer, hunter, and eventually skilled blacksmith: turning your back on your heritage and learning to control the family insanity in pursuit of a normal life. Fate was not so kind to your ambitions.

>A scholar.

Steeped in ancient lore. Your knowledge covers a little of most every topic, but your practical skills are in engineering with a specialization in fortress design and your esoteric learning in history with a specialty in magic and monsters.

>An Alchemist

One of the few branches of magic legal throughout the Empire, you have turned to it as an outlet to practice and become an acclaimed, though never quite accepted and always suspected, alchemist.

>A Trader

As with the family magic the dynasties treasure was spent freely by mad kings, but from the remnants you built a new life. Your caravans turn profits from odd routes and work closely with the abhumans many cities shun.

>Cast Ye Votes
>>
>>1673533
>Sorcerer
>Man-At-Arms

A sellsword spellsword if you will, what kind of system are we using here?
>>
>>1673533
>Scholar
>Knight

We've always been on the lookout for a purpose in life, and aim to find it under a demonic master. On search for rituals or hellgates, we make use of our martial abilities and fortune to protect ourselves.
>>
>>1673558

I'm basically ripping off Aspiring Emperor Quest for mechanics: d20 unless an oddball roll is called for, best of three to meet or exceed a target number. 20 is a great success, 1 is a dramatic failure. 20s and 1s mutually cancel, multiple 20s lead to greater heights of glory while 1s do not similarly multiply.

As per the OP roll, you have two Fate Points (one, plus the number rolled). fate points can be spent once per session to add a +5 before an important roll or negate a 1, or burned permanently Rogue Trader-style to get you out of death or add a +10. Spending one now on an extra Background will burn one, but you can gain fate later by accomplishing goals on the road to returning your Dynasty to dark glory (side-missions don't count) or particularly epic actions.

It should be noted that you will gain your magic powers later, perhaps sooner depending on side-missions, and the Sorcery background just gives you a head start and more refined control.
>>
>>1673533
>A Sorcerer
>A Knight
>A scholar.

Lets sacrifice a Fate Point.
>>
>>1673570
>>1673560
>>1673558

Going with Scholar, Knight, and Sorcerer (combination most voted-on) unless another vote comes in in the next few minutes.
>>
>>1673580
>>1673570
>>1673560
>>1673558

>One Fate Point remaining

You stand in a long line of applicants, supplicants, and leeches awaiting the grace of the Imperial Presence. Your light padded tunic bears the shoulder emblem of a simple blade and wing, the symbol of a free but landless Knight, one of several in the long line. You alone earn the suspicion of the uneasy guards, however, since your eyes constantly flicker to the glowing dagger floating just before you with the faces of mocking revelers in fine dress reflected on it. You ignore the omen of assassination to come at a grand feast, and wait to be ushered in to the see the Imperator.

The guards escort out a grim man in the uniform of a legionary general, battle-scarred and bearing the red dragon emblem of a great victory. You feel sorry for the fool who spoke truth to power, but his misfortune bodes well for you: the Emperor having him hauled away or killed on the spot would have been a sign of sure disaster, but the Heaven-sent Liege has pretensions of fairness and often balances cruelty and punishment with extreme generosity and mercy. You can only hope this pattern stays true.

You are ushered in through a doorway of pure silver, the fine tiles under your feet set with designs in jade and the high windows covering the vast throne room with colored light reflecting off the piled treasures and trophies of the third longest-lived dynasty in the world, and the second most powerful. So much wealth and power, all in the greasy hands of the almost shockingly fat man you see lounging on the marble throne.

The Emperor waves a jewel-encrusted hand at you, idly fondling a beautiful mistress with the other, fine robes stained with sauces and the remnants of a meal still scattered around him. "So, a knight. A knight my sweet, a poor one too! Been a while hasn't it?"

He doesn't wait for her response, and wheezes into a more upright position, "What brings you here, Vagrant Sir?" he breaks into chuckles as he improvises your title, obviously proud of his wit.

>From least to most risk, risk carries reward

>Present yourself as a supplicant at his mercy.
>Present yourself as wise man who can advise him.
>Present yourself as a fallen king, but a fellow sovereign visiting his court.
>>
>>1673625
>Present yourself as wise man who can advise him.
>>
>>1673625
>Present yourself as wise man who can advise him.
This is exactly us. But rather than your run of the mill wise guy in robes, we'll present ourselves as a learned, rugged veteran who's seen the world and read far and wide in many languages.

>>From least to most risk, risk carries reward
I think that's a bit overt. Breaks immersion a bit, in a game that consists of nothing but narrative otherwise
>>
>>1673625
>Present yourself as wise man who can advise him.
Let's see if we can earn his ear
>>
>>1673642
I don't think it really breaks immersion per se, a little direct but it does give anon an idea on what would be harder to pull off than others, so they don't choose what they would see as the easy/trap option based on their misconceptions of the setting. Plus, this is 4chan, some anons need all the help they can get to not make outright stupid decisions or just go along with stupid decisions because it was the first thing posted. Just my opinion though, you can take it with a grain of salt.
>>
>>1673637
>>1673642
>>1673643
>>1673655

Exactly as blue said, and this is how options will be ordered from here on out, but it was a bit on the nose and I'll keep that in mind.

"I have come to offer my wisdom, o Emperor, as a scholar and warrior both. I have read great words in tongues familiar and strange, and seen the doing of great deeds, even had a hand in a few myself. I can advise you from the experience of both, and offer you the fruits of the union of esoteric learning and bitter experience."

The Emperor raises a colored and finely tailored eyebrow, though somehow still splattered with wine and sugary sauces, and considers your words...

>Roll 1d20, target is 15, best of three.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>1673685
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>1673685
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>1673685
>>
>>1673688
>>1673689
>>1673692

>Target met


The Emperor laughs, shaking the shoulder of the Royal Consort with a swollen hand, "A pretty speech! A pretty speech from the young man, but I hear many pretty words. Come," he beckons you with a glittering hand, "come stand beside my throne and advise me on the days work, we will see how your pretty words hold up."

You begin to walk towards the throne and assume the traditional place of an advisor, but he stops you with a gesture, "First though, first, I would seek your counsel on another matter. The general just here was... He was less than polite in expressing his... doubts." His smile is nasty, obviously thinking himself very clever at this test of loyalty, "Doubts about my decisions! So tell me, wise adventurer, thee of rugged experience, should he be stripped of rank and titles and set aside for one more loyal, or was I perhaps... Too harsh? or not harsh enough, eh wise man?"

An obvious trap, but perhaps one you can spin to your advantage: the Emperor as a rule surrounds himself with flatterers but sometimes gives great leeway and favor to those who carefully walk a fine line of dissenting opinions, as a monument to his humble nature and wisdom as a leader, and at other times turns on lickspittles in a rage for wasting his time. This must be done carefully, for the Emperor can have a long memory when it suits him and a love for twisted irony.

>Advise the Generals execution as a traitor
>Advise that the Emperors punishment fit the crime
>Advise that he be given a chance to redeem himself
>Write-in
>>
>>1673715
let him prove himself, if you kill him you have lost a potentially good tool, if he fails execute him, if he dies, he wasn't any good anyway.
>>
>>1673715
>>Advise that he be given a chance to redeem himself

Dead men can't serve, your majesty. Except as an example and I don't believe your courts needs one right now.
>>
>>1673723
>>1673727

You decide to risk it, "A fool to be sure, but the Red Dragon has never been given lightly. I counsel to give the general a chance to redeem his failings and bring greater glory to the Empire. If he succeeds, he will have learned his lesson, if he returns a failure then he is surely a traitor, if he dies in battle then he was not worth our time anyway and a Generals burial will quiet those who would complain at a traitor death. A war hero is a terrible thing to waste, after all."

The Emperor strokes one of his several chins idly, considering your advice and for a moment forgetting it was supposed to be a test of your loyalty.

>Roll d20, target 16, best of the first three.
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>1673765
may the gods guide my dice
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>1673765
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>1673765
>>
>>1673810
>>1673805
rip
>>
>>1673795
>>1673805
>>1673810

>Target not met

"Hmmm, not an answer I would expect from a wise man, but when are Emperors ever wise, eh?" He looks to either side, a subconscious habit from before he had the majority of his advisors exiled or killed, before he speaks again: "But I suppose you may be right, I might be wrong after all, perhaps a war hero is as bad to waste as a virgin eh! Ha! but I don't think we should trust a man of foolish words in charge of anything truly important, we'll give him something simpler to prove himself with." He turns to the Royal Mistress, "Arinna my sweet, your cousin will have to wait for his command, I'll be taking him off the Generalship of the Sandstone Hills and giving it to General Desmond after all. We'll see how he handles the hill tribes and consider it from there !"

She nods graciously and gives you a vicious glare, you've made an enemy today. Worse, you know that frontier: under-supplied with little chance for loot or glory, and nobles and merchants raising bloody murder at every raiding party that slips through. You can only hope that Desmond is a miracle-worker.

"Next!" bellows the Sovereign, and a flustered little man in fine dress is dragged in by triumphant guards, his clothing bearing the emblem of a major House, though not one you recognize. Skipping ahead in line, not a good sign for this little fellow.

"This man," the Emperor points at him as if there could be some confusion if he didn't, "was one of my administrators of the Treasury, in charge of collecting royal tributes and managing taxes from the Crownlands. But he STOLE. FROM. ME!", Everyone else in the room flinches from his rage, and his return to calm is almost disturbing. "He stole, just like all the others before him, neglected his responsibilities while he grew fat! Grew fat and wealthy while hired book-keepers grew his ill-gotten gains! What are we to do with this man, my not-so-Wise-Man, eh?"

>Execute him and his book-keepers
>Ask about his fellow conspirators
>Pardon and exile to smooth things over with his family
>Write-In
>>
>>1673871
>>Ask about his fellow conspirators
>>
>>1673871
>Ask about his fellow conspirators

It may yet be the tip of the iceberg this small kernel of corruption that has been uncovered
>>
>having internet issues, particularly connecting to Captcha. Bear with me.

>>1673898
>>1673900

You ponder the unfortunate man, too greedy to be overlooked in even this reign, he can't ave been managing that much theft by himself. "What about those who were with him? He did not work alone, did he?" The Emperor stops as if he didn't consider the book-keepers and others as fellow criminals, but more as props to the crime: "Yes, yes, quite right must not forget the scum that aided him! BRING THE INVESTIGATOR!"

A man in the uniform of the Imperial Eye, the secret police of the Empire, shuffles in. You fight to contain your unease, the Eye are responsible for hunting down sorcerers and survivors from families condemned to death as well, and you are both. He launches into a spiel immediately and without prompt, "The accused had turned his entire office almost wholly to pilfering and re-directing Royal monies, with an infamous black marketeer from the Southern cities in charge of investing his stolen gains and caravans out of the Eastern Baronies ferrying goods. Most of the records were lost, destroyed beyond the ability of the Eyes alchemists to restore by some compound of their guilds own making, though they knew it not." He holds out a bottle, with a simple symbol you recognize from a very old circle of Alchemists, though you're ignorant of its modern use. "The Black Marketeer refuses to give up his clients secrets, professing the loyalty and reputation of his family, Southerners" He nearly spits, "but from what we can tell the properties and trade interests he acquired were extensive and well-hidden. My men are working at their best, but we cannot yet know how deep this foulness runs."

>Advise their executions
>Advise that only the ringleaders be executed
>Advise leniency
>Other (Write-in)
>>
>>1673958
>>Other (Write-in)
Allow those involved to be detained by the eyes, and allow said eyes to pursue the investigation, so that all the rot may be cast out.
>>
>>1673979
Seems like a good choice of action
>>
>>1673979

You lean in close to the Emperor, a stage whisper to reinforce your role of the shadow behind the throne, "My Emperor, I advise letting the Eye keep those involved on hand as they see fit, to further the investigation. This rot must be cast out, no matter how deep it runs."

"Yes, the Emperor mutters, yes. My reign is a reign of, a reign of justice! Let no wicked men escape!"

The Eye bows and retreats, shooting you a brief grateful look, the poor administrator drug behind him. His relief at not being killed here and now replaced by terror at his destination: the infamous tower prison of the Imperial Eye.

Next is a scholar, supposedly of great renown though you have never heard of him, in flashy robes that appear to be a high-class imitation of the dress of the far-Eastern universities with subtle details just slightly off. He offers the Emperor a prized collection of rare tomes for his library, works thought lost in past Library Fires or invasions, in superb condition.

The Emperor seems bored with the man, being a sovereign with little interest in books and written knowledge. You could intercede here to examine them further, or let events run their course and the man be dismissed with a lashing for the wasting of royal time.

>Ask to examine the books
>Do nothing
>Write-In
>>
>>1674070
>>Write-In
>*Offer* to examine the books, ostensibly for the Emperor's benefit

"While I'm sure your Highness has better use for his time than poring over such tomes, they might fetch a pretty prize from the right collector. If your Highness so wishes, I can have a look at them later to determine if this man's gifts possess any true value."
>>
>>1674070
These write ins are great,>>1674102
It has my support
>>
>>1674102

"Hmm? yes, yes that will do. determine if these are truly gifts worthy of the royal house. Put your scholarly nature to good use. Guards, dismiss him."

The man seems a bit put off by the Emperors last statement, more focusing on you being referred to as a scholar than being waved off as if he were not even present. Odd. He seems to hesitate when he leaves the books behind, ushered out too fast to make a move to reclaim them.

Next is a young girl, barely a teenager, from the Eastern baronies, who overcomes her shock at the state of the Emperor and brings forward a long list of complaints concerning her father and brothers assassination by a certain Baron Cynric and her Aunts alleged unlawful betrothal of her to the same.

You've heard of the man, he crushed a peasant rebellion in a valley you once idly daydreamed of settling in as a simple farmer when you were young, practically razed it to the ground in fact, and he's known to keep unsavory company. Once again the Emperor is bored, having little time for "Eastern Baronial nonsense", and orders her silence when she really starts to get going with the list of supposed atrocities.

"Is this worth my time? The Emperors time, the Empires time!, to bother with the feuds of eastern barons? Advisor, advise, how much credence should we give this stripling girl?" You feel for her, a girl from a part of the Empire known for producing fighting men and little else, pretty but too young for the Emperors tastes and too old for a number of his hangers-on, if rumors are to be believed. An investigation would become one of those troublesome things that the Emperor would have to hear about regularly, while failing to act could degrade Imperial authority even further.

>Recommend that she be sent away, a waste of time over a distant feud
>Advise that an investigation should be carried out, despite the inconvenience
>Offer to take on the case yourself, serving as the Emperor emissary and assume responsibility for the results.
>Write-In
>>
>>1674148
>Offer to take on the case yourself, serving as the Emperor emissary and assume responsibility for the results.
>>
>>1674148
>>Write-In
>Advise decisive action to curtail feuding.

"The Barons rule their baronies as they see fit, so it might seem the girl is doing little more than reporting on the natural state of things."

Make a show of giving the girl a mildly distasteful look to mirror the Emperor's opinion, but continue with, "However, widespread feuding also fosters unrest, particularly where military might and the family alliances of nobility are concerned. If the situation is still brewing, better to take it off the kettle early on. Appoint someone competent in charge of the matter and bring this Baron Cynric to heel."
>>
>>1674183

"My Emperor, I believe I have a solution that will let us make sure Justice prevails without troubling the head that bears the greatest of crowns."

He looks at you oddly, before remembering his own words of a moment before and nods. "Of course, advisor. What do you suggest?"

You take a deep breath, asking such a responsibility of any other ruler would have been madness on your first day, "I can see to this matter personally, accepting all responsibility and acting as your agent to determine guilt and innocence."

The fat ruler nods, seeming to draw out of his bored stupor at simple murder and conspiracy with your offer to shoulder the burden. "Yes, my advisor," he points to you as if there were many behind the throne, as there once were, "will see to this matter himself, and determine the truth of your words." He turns to you, "Do not fail me, agent of the Imperial House." Even young Lady Ifield winces at the announcement of something that should go without saying: An Emperor that must remind his agents not to fail him is one that is failed often.

Coming in next is a man in the simple, but tasteful, clothing of a moneylender. He offers a chest of gold coins as a gift, and proposes to loan the Imperial House a staggering amount of money at low interest. A suspicious offer: Everyone knows that the Dragon Crown is in debt and has never paid back so much as a copper piece.

Still, the Emperor seems enthusiastic: too often his amusements are constrained by matters of mere budget, and the nobles who manage the Crownlands are often very unhappy with their property being seized to fund binge-feasting and the purchase of foreign oddities.

>Approve of the moneylender
>Ask to examine the coinage, for what you don't know
>Ask that the loan be held ff until the Moneylender is checked out by the Administration
>Write-In
>>
>>1674236

>Missed your response. If you like, I can do a tiebreaker roll and change the result if you win.
>>
>>1674268
No need
>>
>>1674264
>>Write-In
>Graciously inform the moneylender that the Emperor accepts his gift. Have the man be directed to an opulent guest suite (to show him favor while keeping him close) and assure him that the matter of finalizing the loan will be promoted past matters of lesser import in the Administration. (This way the officials still get to check the guy out, while expediting the process is stressed to avoid drawing the Emperor's ire.)
>>
>>1674353
Yea, would certainly do to look into the money lender
>>
>>1674353
>>1674433

"Of course my Emperor, such a gift is a sure sign of character and proper respect for the Imperial throne-"

The Emperor cuts you off, "If he was truly respectful he'd gift me the whole sum eh, HA!", Strangely, the man doesn't seem as bothered by the clumsy, idle threat as a moneylender who deals with kings and Emperors should be. However, he does seem slightly miffed that the loan is not simply finalized on the Emperors say-so, and seems almost ready to question your imposition as one who arranges rooms and gives orders to make the life of His Grace easier, but thinks better of it. It's a poor life strategy to question someone who may be the Emperors current favorite too loudly, almost as poor a path as being the Emperors favorite.

The last man in is a wealthy miner from the Northern provinces and the Captain of a Free Company of Knights. He claims to have discovered a vein of rich, very good quality iron in mines long thought played out and currently ceded to local tribesmen in the border regions. He offers to split the profits from their joint mining and military venture 50/50 with the Imperial House in perpetuity in exchange for a sizable loan. A good deal, for iron of the quality he offers isn't cheap, except that his Knightly companion is a fake and the company he represents disbanded years ago. The Emperor, however, is practically rubbing his hands with glee at the good fortune of this working day.

>Expose the fraudulent Knight
>Ask to have the ore examined by a miner and blacksmith
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1674466
>>Other (Write-In)
Reveal, in a whisper, that the knight is a fraud, and advise to have the ore examined. Tell him that if the knight is a fraud, but the ore not, we can take full advantage of the vein ourselves.
>>
>>1674486

You lean down and whisper that the Knight is no knight at all, but the ore should be tested to see if it is of the claimed quality or not. The Emperor grows visibly furious at the idea of someone cheating him, the irony lost on him alone, and you hope that you can convince him not to explode on the men in full volume.

>Roll, best of three. DC 16
>>
Rolled 17 (1d20)

>>1674571
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>1674571
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>1674571
>>
>>1674582
>>1674580

The Emperor restrains his fury, and tells you to proceed. You see the grinning men out, the wealthy would-be miner and the "knight" in a uniform that wouldn't be accepted as a brothel-costume in a good establishment. At least the false knight has the decency to be nervous speaking to you, and you try not to laugh at his obvious relief when you break off "talking shop" citing your busy schedule.

The antechamber is cleared, and servants scurry forward to remove the now fly-covered remains of the Emperors last meal as he finishes blindly stamping papers and announces he's ready for the next. His waddling off the throne is a sight, almost more corpulent standing than reclined. "I bid you farewell, may-be-Wise-Man, we'll see how your advice today turned out, and there may be... benefits in it for you, eh?" Arinna bids you farewell, her lovely face a mask of icy politeness. She must favor that cousin.

Left alone in the Throne Room, you grab a half-empty bottle of wine from a servant no doubt taking it to the trash heap, the Imperial court now infamous for keeping the servants out of the leftovers, and a tray of untouched sweet breads from another. The platters are made of the finest gold and silver, set with precious and semi-precious stones, reminding you of ancient tales about the treasures of a Djinns palace and kingdoms where Dragons ruled. Your ancestors made do with stonewear that set poison alight and the skulls of enemies.

The stack of precious books sit in a corner, awaiting your attention, and there is yet the matter of the ore to attend to before you can even begin making preparations for the trip East. Though the Emperor was never one to focus more on the effectiveness of his servants than their appeal in the moment, you have a horrible feeling that your favor or disfavor will all come down to the success of general Desmond at his frontier post. That, however, is beyond your control until you gain enough leverage to support him, but matters here are not...

>Speak to the Imperial Expedition Master about your trip and escort
>Examine the books
>Go see the Imperial Smith
>Other (Write-in)

Apologies for how rusty I am and the frequent interruptions, it's been a long time since I've run one of these
>>
>>1674721
>>Examine the books
>>
>>1674721
>Examine the books
>>
>>1674721
>>Examine the books
>>
>>1674740

You turn your attention to the tomes, looking them over in growing wonder... Until that wonder turns sour. Yes, they seem authentic enough, lost works that would be prized by any collector in the Empire or beyond: Aethelwulfs legendary On war, Annitas' infamous Rule of Steel... But on closer inspection the prose itself is a poor imitation, a forgery! Yet the forgeries are masterful, in every way appearing to match their origins and age aside from small inconsistencies, and to the untrained eye they would appear perfectly authentic. But why? They were gifts, not false goods for sale. Then, of course, you see it: emenating from the lesser works, the books rare but not unheard of or lost, the ones that on closer inspection seem to be actually authentic: Sorcery.

You look around, you are thoroughly alone with your pilfered food and drink.

>Find a servant and alert them to the forgery
>Risk examining them with magic
>Attempt to smuggle the books out
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1674777
>>Risk examining them with magic
can we cast some sort of spell to conceal us or alert us to someone coming?
>>
>>1674777
>>Risk examining them with magic
>>
>>1674777
>Risk examining them with magic
>>
>>1674789

Not yet, you know there are perception charms that more experienced sorcerers can caste to make themselves difficult to notice, but you do not know them. Alarms you can do, but they require rituals you don't have time for and components you (partially) don't have.
>>
>>1674789
>>1674796
>>1674799

Checking again to make sure that no one is present, you focus your small power onto the page. You see the spell with your expanding awareness, woven into the ink of the now very slightly levitating books, and resonating strangely with the forgeries stacked around them...

>Roll, DC 10, best of three.
>>
Rolled 17 (1d20)

>>1674810
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>1674810
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>1674810
>>
>>1674821
>>1674840
>>1674858

>Target met

You delve into the magic inscribed in the books and see... A signal ad a sponge. Not for water, but for knowledge. You test the spell, lightly feeling it out with your higher senses, and see your probing echoed in the forgeries. More, the forgeries appear blank when viewed from the correct plane. You think you know why.

Some time ago, a thief stole much of value from the Emperor by concealing himself within a gifted statue that was swapped out for an authentic tribute from a vassal island nation. The Emperor, of course, blockaded them into a rebellion he failed to crush and as a result turned a dozen island territories into a rebel league and pirate haven, but someone must have seen a good trick and deemed it worth repeating.

The paper in these forgeries is specially treated in a way that old Alchemists grimoires were, to store massive amounts of information in magic ink, layer upon layer. The sorcery in these books would simply draw the whole text of the library into the blanks. A stroke of genius, and one that reveals a bit of the thieves motive: why waste a window to break in and steal a handful of priceless works when you could steal the whole contents of the libraries knowledge in one fell swoop? Of course, the question is what do do with it.

>Report the forgery, foiling the plan
>Contact the 'scholar' and attempt to extort him
>Your Kingdom will have need of a great library, resolve to hijack the plan for yourself
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1674888
>Other (Write-In)
Can we try and alter the magic in the book so that it won't leave the books in the library blank?
>>
>>1674888
>Report the forgery, foiling the plan
Might as well start earning favor
>>
>>1674905

You can, but it would be very difficult (DC 18) without a proper workshop. You've been told that there's a living space prepared for you, and you may be able to pursaude the palace staff to let you examine the works in your quarters. getting the equipment you need in the Capitol would be a challenge though, and making it yourself would take too long.
>>
>>1674911
Hm. I guess we can report the forgery, but let's see if we can't keep the books.
>>
>>1674918
>>1674907

You retreat back into the waking world, wiping drool off your chin and taking another swig of fantastically expensive honeyed wine to clear the foul taste from your mouth. You call for one of the Administration staff, and are greeted with an attentive young man in a formal coat.

"Thank you. After examining these works I have determined that all but the most common are forgeries, though why one would give a forgery away I do not know. I would like to keep these books, however, to examine them later in more detail."

He looks at you skeptically, mulling over your request.

>Roll, DC12
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>1674954
>>
Rolled 9 (1d20)

>>1674954
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>1674954
>>
>>1674954
you alive prosper?
>>
>>1675486

Real life interfered

>>1674977
>>1674979
>>1675027

The staffer decides to err on the side of the Emperors whims and calls for servants to carry the books to your quarters, and quickly mentions his full name to you should you require anything else. Someone has ambitions.

You walk out onto one of the Palaces many terraces overlooking the Jeweled City, the Emperors home practically a town unto itself. You cast your awareness out and see the cairns of the old Dragon-Kings who had once reigned here, priceless bones buried under royal guard and Draconic curses, the walls of magic that protect the vacant and crumbling castle of the First Emperors from sorcerous threats, and the Legion on parade heading down the Victory Causeway.

The crowds cheering it are mostly there for the free bread and ale that are customary than any enthusiasm for the campaign: Another deposed foreign royal granted the use of a Legion to regain his throne on flattery and whim, a grasping attempt to strengthen an arthritic grip on the Empire by establishing indebted border kingdoms. Too bad the outcast prince at the head of the parade is the worst prospect yet, hated by both sides of the civil war engulfing his desert home and almost as hopeless a ruler as the wearer of the Dragon Crown. For a moment your heart burns with jealousy, but you calm yourself: all things in time.

For now, you have work to do.

>See the Royal Smith about the ore
>See the Expeditions Master about your trip to the Eastern Baronies
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1675569
>See the Royal Smith about the ore
Should check that first, we can check with the expeditions master right after.
sorry QM, real life interference can be a bitch
>>
>>1675569
>>See the Royal Smith about the ore

Any anons have any ideas on things we might should do other than organizing our trip to the Eastern Baronies?
>>
>>1675586
Well, studying those books later tonight is definitely something. We could also start trying to build up connections, not sure how to go about that right at the moment though. It is fairly early in the quest, I'm sure we'll figure out a direction to take.
>>
>>1675569
>See the Royal Smith about the ore
>>
>>1675596

I realize I left this out of the OP by mistake while editing for post length, but the ultimate goal is to eventually rebuild the fallen kingdom your ancestors ruled with an iron fist, restoring your dynasty of necromancers, shapeshifters and dark sorcerers to glory. How exactly to go about it is the open question.
>>
>>1675638
Oh that I understand, I mean in the short term more than anything.
>>
>>1675583
>>1675586
>>1675604

You walk away from the sight of the martial parade, the Legions as strong as ever though the Empire crumbles around them. You take the gleaming marble steps down to one of the lowest floors of the Imperial residence proper, the Palace Forge. While the true Master Smiths are to be found at the guild hall elsewhere in the city, one of their best is always on call here should a smithing emergency arise. You question the logic, but you're glad to have the Imperial Smith here all the same.

You meet him in a forge with enough open space to be a ballroom, should the other 40 in the palace ever be occupied, a strong no-nonsense dark haired man who looks slightly lost in the space. All around you are rows of the finest tools, like the personal kitchen some wealthy merchants keep with pretensions of cooking for themselves and similarly unused. You were concerned that you'd be dealing with somebodies cousin foisted on an easy post, but from the looks of him the Guild at least has its head in the game.

"You're the... Probationary advisor?" You stop for a moment, reflecting that you don't actually know what your title is, and simply shrug. "I've looked it over, and for all appearances it seems to be good ore." He pauses and hefts it in his hand, as though feeling the weight, betraying a flicker of uncertainty. "Was there some reason to look more closely, Advisor?" He looks at you a moment, then catches himself, "Excuse me, Sir Advisor?"

>No reason, just a check on a business venture
>You seem not quite so sure, do you feel something off?
>The Knight-Captain with him was a fake.
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1675704
>>You seem not quite so sure, do you feel something off?
>>
>>1675704
>You seem not quite so sure, do you feel something off?
>>
>>1675704
>You seem not quite so sure, do you feel something off?
>>
>>1675715
>>1675719

He stops and looks uncertainly at the ore in his hands. "It's silly I know, but I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong with it. For one thing it's almost too good, metal content this high is rare and the rock it's in just seems odd for the quality, but I'm no miner." He tosses it in his hand again, "But most of all it just feels wrong, and I can't put my finger on it." You pick a chunk of ore out of the basket as well, slightly surprised at how light it is in your hand.

>Action? (No presets)
>>
>>1675756
Cut the chunk of ore into half. Check the contents carefully.
>>
>>1675756

>pay a visit to smiths guild

Perhaps we might have our questions answered there, or suppose they could point us towards someone knowledgeable in mining.
>>
>>1675756
>break it in half
either with heat or impact like a hammer & chisel

clearly this isn't iron ore, but dragon excrement
>>
>>1675756
Take some ore, break it open. Take some other ore and try to have it smelted.
>>
>>1675790
>>1675764

You hold it up, staring suspiciously at it before turning to the Smith, "You have a hammer and chisel here I can use?" he laughs and waves at a rack of shining hammers and chisels on one wall, "be my guest, Sir Advisor."

It's been a while since you've worked with hammers, not since the last siege you took part in actually, but you have it open in short order. The inside is strange. For one thing it contains almost none of the red tint of iron, for another...

"Alchemy," you announce and hand it off to the Smith, "those patterns in the stone, Alchemy. I'm no expert, but the inside betrays it."

"Gods above, the inside is like dust!" he pinches a piece of the interior and pulls it out, crumbling it between his thumb and forefinger. "I've never seen the like, a thin iron shell around loose rock. Strangeness and dark." You note the expression, a saying from the swamps to the south-center of the Empire and a strange homeland for a master smith.

You have your answer now: a scam, the Emperor must be considered an easy mark with so many trying to take a piece on the rare working day, and alchemy showing up again. The guild maintains tight control, one reason why you never sought out legitimate practice under its wing, so it's hard to see why they would be backing criminals unless some circle has gone rogue. Rogue enough to work with sorcerers, in fact. Quite a feat considering that true sorcerers are rare even outside the territory of the Imperial Eye, much less in the city of their dread tower.

>Go to the Smiths Guild, and see if you can find out where the original ore came from
>Go to the Alchemists Guild, and ask about their recent activities
>Go to the Eye and tell them there are rogue Alchemists backing criminal ventures
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1675857
>Go to the Smiths Guild, and see if you can find out where the original ore came from
We can take the info to the Eye after
>>
>>1675857
>>Go to the Smiths Guild, and see if you can find out where the original ore came from

>>1675865
>We can take the info to the Eye after

Should we though? Might find useful friends.
>>
>>1675857
>>Go to the Smiths Guild, and see if you can find out where the original ore came from
>>Go to the Alchemists Guild, and ask about their recent activities
>>
Rolled 17 (1d20)

>>1675865
>>1675889
>>1675890

You thank the smith and take the basket of ore with you out of the palace, calling on the staffer you met earlier and acquiring a Palace emblem for your arming coat and slipping out a side gate to avoid any watchers on the lookout for a man with a basket of false ore.

The streets are crowded with the half-hearted revelry of the military parade, a celebration of free food and drink ironically creating business for the food carts and taverns. The walk from the heart of power down to the Smiths Guild is shorter than in many cities: all the important districts are arrayed around the palace complex like the spokes of a wheel.

You're sent to the shorter line for important persons, treatment you could get used to, and before too long are ushered through the tastefully furnished stone-and-timber Guildhall bustling with men and bond-Dwarves to meet with a white-bearded man who takes the ore from you and examines it wordlessly for a long moment.

"Most strange, most strange. Alchemy yes?" He doesn't wait for an answer, poking at the crumbling interior, "I'm afraid I can't be of much help, this guild doesn't specialize in that sort of thing, though i would like to keep one of these halves for a desk oddity if you don't mind."

"I'm more interested in where the ore came from before its transmutation, if you can tell." He looks at you, sudden interest leaping into his eyes. "A challenge yes, but I think we can manage. I think so." He holds up the ore chunk, "I'll get back to you on this. We're not so busy as we'd like to be, the adventuring Prince and his retinue prefer foreign make in their swords, and the Legions always prefer the more... Economic product. We keep samples on hand of each regions ore for testing and cataloging, and with this odd mix of trace minerals I think I may be able to narrow it down. Thank you, Sir, for the diversion."

You leave, carrying the basket with you, and pause a moment before the Smiths Guildhall, deciding where to go next.

>Back to the Palace to plan your trip
>To the Alchemists Guild
>To the Tower of the Imperial Eye
>Other (write-in)
>>
>>1676033
>To the Alchemists Guild
>>
>>1676033
>To the Alchemists Guild
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>1676046
>>1676153

You continue on, past the palace again as the sun sinks lower in the sky, heading for the Alchemist spoke three districts over and weaving through the thinning crowds as a precaution. A fascinating way to plan a city, truly, each district radiating out and simply growing larger and poorer until it hit the outer walls, goods and services mixing between districts only in the outer half inhabited by the common laborers.

You come at last to the Alchemists hall, set in an old district that was once home to the Imperial Sorcerers as well as underground necromancers, now occupied only by the ascendant alchemists and bands of stranger specialists who slipped through the Prohibitions; Forusian fire-mages and the like.

The Guildall is not so ostentatious as the Smiths, but in other ways less humble: it would take much coin and labor to maintain the perfect state of arrested decay that the Guildhall invokes, just the right amount of crumbling masonry and ivy growth to give a feeling of aged secrets. You try not to look down on these lesser practitioners in disdain, reminding yourself that you too are little more than a scavenger of bygone knowledge.

Your Palace crest gets you better service than in the Smiths hall, perhaps a sign of the Alchemists fall from favor after the siege of rebel Kemet, and you are quickly ushered in to see a Master. In contrast to the servants outside, he seems almost bored until you set the other half of the ore chunk on his desk. "What can you tell me about this?"

He picks it up, fascinated by the pattern within, "It's in our purview certainly, though I can tell that you went to some simple smith first. Not a Guildsman I hope, this fellow shouldn't be allowed to hold a chisel! At any rate, the pattern is very strange and unknown to me, the tools used almost antique! In fact, I don't believe I've seen this technique in use in my entire career. Much less used in this fashion! Of course we do keep our eyes out for the journeymen rushing to cheat their way to wealth, but this level of work would take an experienced hand learned in the obscura of our order. Intriguing."

He calls in others, and soon you stand outside an arguing knot of men whose conversations you can hardly follow, until one exclaims "How could this happen? We keep a careful eye out, every new technique is entered into the Lists as soon as it enters wider circulation, even the Eye approves of our measures!"

>Ask what they can tell you that's useful
>New techniques, but what about very old ones?
>Sketch the symbol you saw on the vial the Investigator found
>Other (write-in)
>>
>>1676265
>>Sketch the symbol you saw on the vial the Investigator found
>>
>>1676265
>Sketch the symbol you saw on the vial the Investigator found
>>
>>1676265
>Sketch the symbol you saw on the vial the Investigator found
>>
>>1676265
>>New techniques, but what about very old ones?
>>
File: symbol-of-freedom.jpg (168 KB, 650x650)
168 KB
168 KB JPG
>>1676960
>>1677006
>>1677146

You grab a handful of sand and spread it across a small table, both items set aside for this purpose with paper costing what it does, and draw the symbol you saw on the vial seized from the corrupt administrator. The Masters crowd around the table, "That's an old symbol, almost forgotten. An ancient circle wise... and very foolish. It's a dark part of our history, and not one we often speak of."

Everyone else grows silent, and you can almost feel them close ranks. Goddamn alchemists, this is why you never joined the guild. "here, this really is Guild business," the man piping up bears the green belt of the Pure Circle, the internal police of the Guild, "but we would prefer to handle this ourselves. Let us present you with a token of our gratitude, and trust in your ... Discretion."

The purse he tosses to you is substantially heavy, even for a Knight on Palace business, but implicit with accepting it is that you'll keep this matter to yourself. Men who double back on bribes are not received well in the Capitol: once bought, stay bought is the rule.

>Accept the bribe
>Demand more
>Refuse it
>Other (Write-In)
>>
>>1677505
>Demand more
A favor for a favor, our proximity and support to the emperor could bring them a great boon. Also ask that they share what they can once their investigation concludes- claim it is for practical economic security from counterfeit goods.
>>
>>1677505
>>Other (Write-In)

As a cover, we have a vested interest in this as well due to the false knight who accompanied the man with the ore, for honor and such. Take the bribe, and insist on involving ourselves. They could consider it a personal favor to a man who has the emperors ear. Still think can find something of value in this be it allies, followers, or loot.
>>
>>1677505
This>>1677570
>>
>>1677593
>>1677570

Majority win, adding a little of >>1677561 that isn't incompatible.
>>
>>1677604
>>1677593
>>1677570
>>1677561

You nod and put the purse in your own bag, seeing everyone present visibly, if ever so slightly, relax. "Still," you begin as the Purity man exchanges an annoyed glance with a Master bearing a blue symbol you don't recognize, "there is the matter of Knightly Honor, and specifically these criminals lack of any rightful claim to it. I must insist on involving myself in this matter if the authorities are not, consider it a favor to the man who has the ear of our Emperor. At any rate, I will need to bring some information back to the Palace to avoid such scams from being successful in the future."

They seem unsure, the Purity man visibly holding back an outburst at you, but you see the flickers of greed in their eyes: a chance to win back royal favor and a place in the Palace

>Roll d20, best of the first three
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>1677621
>Roll d20, best of the first three
>>
Rolled 6 (1d20)

>>1677621
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>1677621
>>
>>1677624
>>1677625
>>1677643

The old Master speaks first, obviously holding seniority, "Very well, I'm sure you'll be an asset! We'll be sure to share any information that is..." he falters for a second as he tries to find the right words, Pertinent to your efforts, and you do the same with us eh?"

"Suits me. What can you tell me about this dark time? History it may be, but it doesn't seem to be so bygone after all."

This time it is the Purity Ring man who speaks, "They were a circle of madmen and fools, who rejected the authority of the Founding Families and the proper order of Guild. They believed that Alchemy was the 'Peoples magic', whatever that means, and dabbled in foreign magics, even sorcery! Of course when they would not listen to reason, they were destroyed. Obviously we have some... Copyist here, a common group of thieves dressing their misdeeds in grander clothes, and they will be brought to justice. That is all there is to it."

From the looks on the faces of the others, there's a bit more to the story, but you're unsure if you should press for more answers now.

>Thank him and leave
>Ask for information on the last time this Ring operated and any rumors of survivors
>Ask the others if there's anything the Purity Master may have 'forgotten' to mention
>Other (write-In)
>>
>>1677684
>>Ask for information on the last time this Ring operated and any rumors of survivors
>>
>>1677684
>Ask for information on the last time this Ring operated and any rumors of survivors.
>>
>>1677778
>>1677808

"When was the last time this schismatic Ring was in operation? Have there ever been any rumors about survivors?"

"300 years," this one bears the silver of the Guild administration, the servants of the Gold borne by the Founding Families and the highest Circles, "but even then it was the discovery that one of our eldest Masters had been a Brotherhood survivor in secret," a flash of anger in the eyes of the Purity Master, was the name of the renegade circle such a great secret? "This was discovered only on his death. His only living apprentice had died in a fire within the Guild library some years before, so I cannot see how the renegade philosophy could have been passed down to current times. All of their old members were accounted for, or at least fugitives matching their description were known to be dead, and their books and materials were seized and burned. It must be as the Purity Master has said, a banner of criminals and nothing more."

Something tells you he's not quite as confident as he would like to appear, but Alchemists are ever guarded with those outside their order.

>Thank them and leave
>Ask if there were any other details left out of the story of Schism
>Ask about the Brotherhood
>Custom
>>
>>1677867
>>Thank them and leave

Best not to pry too deeply
>>
>>1677867
>>Thank them and leave
>>
>>1677867
>Ask if there were any other details left out of the story of Schism
>>
>>1677867
>Thank them and leave
Should get to dealing with the expedition now.
>>
>>1677867
>Thank them and leave
>>
Anyone else in favor of perhaps meeting up with General Desmond before the both of us set out?

Helping him succeed would be mutually beneficial, and having a high ranking military officer as a friend couldn't possibly hurt.

Further, picking up some hired muscle might not be a bad idea, can't hurt having a few men that serve us directly.
>>
>>1678658
Yeah that's pretty sound.
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>1677980
>>1678499
Should be the last unannounced interruption for a while.

>>1677876
>>1677894

You take your leave, a servant actually escorting you out and holding the door for you: if there's one thing the Guild hates, it's people inquiring into their business. Depending on how this shakes out, you may have to keep a careful eye on your food and drink for a while.

The crowds are thinning out, the day winding down and the loudest drunks stumbling home or moving to the seedier taverns and brothels. Activity is often scarce in the First Ring of the city, the heart of the Districts, and as you walk on you feel distinctly alone.


>Return to the palace and see about the Eastern expedition
>Return to the palace and research the 'Brotherhood' in your personal collection of Tomes
>Go see General Desmond at the Legion docks
>Custom
>>
>>1678846
>>Go see General Desmond at the Legion docks

Going at night would be a bit more discreet, we can see about the expedition in the morning.
>>
>>1678846
>Left off a bit of text in editing

>Activity is often scarce after dark in the First Circe, business after dark mostly moving to the private Manses of the Second and the crowds to the outer circles. With only hurrying messengers and the street cleaners shoveling manure for company, you feel distinctly alone.
>>
Also, where exactly is the frontier which General Desmond is being sent to?
>>
>>1678914

A line of sandstone-heavy hills serving as a boundary between an Empire-owned peninsula and the tribal nations beyond, to the southeast. The peninsula is home to a vitally important port city as well as gold and salt mines owned partially by the Imperial House and partially by independent merchants, a popular target for raids by materially poor semi-nomad tribes who always flee at the approach of the Legions and return to trouble the miners and ships again.

>>1678852

You take off, heading straight down the smoothly paved road to the docks. The smell of the sea and an undercurrent of the sewage piped from the city proper at its outlet reaches you as you head down a hill towards more crowded districts. As you pass the zone of wealthy establishments and into a belt of smaller, but still affluent, shops, you begin to keenly feel the absence of the private guardsmen outside the centers of commerce behind you. You've learned to trust your instincts and put a hand on your Knights sword as you walk, realizing that several of the men waking behind you and across the street have been following you for some time. Coincidence perhaps, but something feels wrong.

>Hurry towards the crowded districts
>Try to lose them in a side street
>Confront them
>Custom
>>
>>1678963

To the southeast? Well, I should think we could possibly work something out in the eastern baronies for some support then, or perhaps take a detour down that way ourselves. Wild ass tribesmen could possibly be put to work and brought to heel, maybe give support to one of the stronger warlords in hopes of unifying the region into a client state, that has closer ties to us than the emperor. In any case, I'm sure that we could find some way of finding our way there after we tend to our other business.

>>Custom
Ambush them in a side street, a narrower approach rather than being in the open and the advantage of first strike should be able to tip the scales. We do have a reputation for cunning after all.

Just fine with waiting for more anons Prosper, I don't suppose anyone would be against a lore dump if you're willing. You spoke of abhumans and monsters?
>>
>>1678963
I don't really have any good ideas so I am supporting >>1678999
>>
>>1678999

Thank you. I suppose that's what happens when you drop off for 6 hours at a time without notice.

Abhumans are the other races who inhabit the world, though in few places are they strong or numerous enough to form their own kingdoms or oppose human expansion. The most numerous and widespread, almost universal, are the most recognizable kin of man; the forest people, dwarves, and in the south and far north apemen.The Forest People and Dwarves are obviously closer kin to each other than to Man, but followed very different paths: One race roaming the wild places in isolation and rejecting change, while the other embraced technology for the strength to war with Man and became his slaves in defeat.

Many stranger Abhuman races exist, hybrids of Man and the more magically powerful monsters and supernatural beings, some claiming ancestry from gods, demons, angels, and dragons. These live in small populations scattered away from the seats of human power. All the races that challenged man in the days of stone and bone are smart, adaptable and agressive, so few have died out entirely and in many places are simply part of the local color: it's a common saying that to get a feel for a region you should seek its food, drink, and monstermen. In some nations these oddities have found niche positions within human populations or, rarely, risen to become a ruling class. In the more civilized areas of the world, the seats of great empires and kingdoms, many believe them to be a myth. There is a raging debate among priests and scholars as to whether several races were ever true relatives of Man at all, or arose independently.

Monsters are a fuzzier category: a term for things more dangerous than the usual wildlife with connotations of being somehow magical, although most apex predators that survived Mans rise from stone to steel are at least partially magical or clever enough to border on Abhumanity. In the most wild regions the distinction grows greyer still, as creatures without magic or special wit like towering cave-bears and great cats with teeth like short swords still live, or stranger things still on wild foreign shores. The greatest of all monsters are the Dragons, though very few are left after Men forced them from the populated areas in great and bloody wars. The last known on this continent were those who were strong enough in magic to resist being enslaved by the specialized sorcery of the First Emperors and dying in their wars, and have seldom been heard from since. As stated, magic allows unnatural unions of all sorts to bear fruit, and many strange races have sprung from strange couplings.

>>1679066

>Writing
>>
>>1679066
>>1678999

You duck out into a side alley, walking with purpose to give the impression that you have business at its end. You hide behind a pillar supporting an idol to a small god from the West, a kingdom bordering your own homeland and one some scholars have suggested may have been inspired by one of your own ancestors. you say a small prayer, to Svarg as a god and and a watching ghost, and lie in wait as the men approach your alley with quiet footsteps.

>Roll d20+2, best of three. Target 12.
>>
>>1679175
Nice lore, totally hoping we can get some great beast or another as a pet/familiar at some point.
>>
Rolled 11 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>1679175
>>
Rolled 8 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>1679175
>>
Rolled 6 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>1679175
>>
Rolled 2 + 2 (1d2 + 2)

>>
>>1679237
>>1679309
>>1679319

>target met

You allow one man to pass by before striking, killing him quickly with a stab to the gut before bringing your viscera-coated sword up to fend off his club-wielding companion. They have the look of common thugs about them, though a few who brandish their daggers at you could be caravan guards or city watchmen in plain clothes. They recoil from you as you appear, and before they can nerve themselves up to attack you surprise them by going on the offensive. You kill the man with the club outright, slashing under a clumsy attempt to block, and stab the dagger-man behind him in the thigh with a continuation of the same smooth movement. Someone throws a rock at you, but your padded arming coat takes the brunt of the blow. Before you can continue your advance they break and run, the quieter second group hanging back across the street quickly following.

You step over the bodies and watch them go, considering a pursuit. It would technically be illegal, as would straying too far from the scene without alerting a Watchman, but perhaps a knight with a position at court would be granted more leeway?

>Wait for a watchman
>Leave a note for the watch and proceed to the docks
>Pursue for vengeance or answers
>Custom
>>
>>1679393
>>Leave a note for the watch and proceed to the docks

Check the bodies before we get on our way though, could be some information, few bits of coin to add to our purse.
>>
>>1679410
This goy has the right idea.
>>
>>1679410
>>1679415

You smile as you bend to rifle through the pockets of the first man: someday you will be a king great and feared, and when that time comes at every city your army takes you're going to have to remind yourself not to start looting common soldiers corpses out of habit.

Both men yield a fair bit of coin: several silver pieces, most likely their half up front, and a few copper coins of mixed denomination. One thing to be said about the Empire: You know what you're going to get with its coinage, a far cry from the more chaotic regions where mints raise and lower their precious metal contents on a monthly basis to cheat mercenaries and tribute.

The only interesting thing you find is a small chunk of that same counterfeit ore, though as you hold it the feel and look is slightly different: it's a piece broken off that should be past the outer shell of metal and into the crumbling interior, but while it's rougher and poorer all around it doesn't seem to have the same alchemy-borne division.

You leave a note with the bodies, making sure to leave little blank space and lettering on both sides to avoid the paper being stolen, and head off to the docks. You are not followed again, and soon the sea-and-sewage smell grows stronger as you pass by the layered walls into the night-lit circles of the city. The number of young soldiers and whores about grows larger as you near the Legion docks, and the number of drunken challenges to duels grows less: the Legions might look down on Knights as extensions of the province militias with delusions of grandeur, but they know how dangerous a real fight is and those from the Eastern baronies are not eager to dance with the equivalent of a Huscarl.

You reach the headquarters of the legion dockmaster, built fort-strong in bygone days when no distinction was made between the Legions funding and the Emperors petty cash: a mob of rioting demanding their back-pay can grow disquietingly orderly and disciplined when faced by a line of unfortunate Watchmen.

The dockmaster is outside, arguing with the merchants contracted to supply the Legions food for the journeys to and fro the Capitol, still one of the most important military ports in the Empire, and you pause to consider the black-bearded giant of a man before you rush in.

>Interrupt, demand to see Desmond as an Agent of the Emperor (technically true)
>Wait, ask to see Desmond concerning his audience with the Emperor
>Wait, quietly tell the man you are a supporter of Desmonds at court
>Custom
>>
>>1679489
>>Wait, ask to see Desmond concerning his audience with the Emperor
>>
>>1679489
>Wait, ask to see Desmond concerning his upcoming deployment.
It's best to not publically mention the emperor's tantrums while meeting a dissenter (no telling who's listening or watching us now).
>>
>>1679521
>>1679553
>combining

You wait for the man to finish haranguing the merchants down a reasonable price, and guess that the expedition is Desmonds by the mentions of the short notice so soon on the heels of 38th Legion sailing in support of Crown Prince Rogval; they must hate these last-minute appointments, the Legions as a rule are in love with planning ahead. Your patience is rewarded when he dismisses them and turns immediately to you, obviously smelling the blood and shit from your fight on you but electing not to comment.

"Well? Here to tell me the Emperor has decreed that Knights replace the cavalry of the Legions?" The man is nearly in a rage, but instantly pales with regret at his poor choice of words. Such speech isn't a wise career move at the best of times, in these it could mean death.

"I'm here to see Genera Desmond regarding his upcoming deployment and his order," you say, alluding as heavily as you dare with so many ears around. The dockmaster simply nods and directs you to the Generals ship, hurrying to get clear of you: Speaking ill of the Emperor in the presence of one of his agents is bad, but being connected to anything he deems a conspiracy against him, and that is much, is nearly as dangerous as learning a sitting Emperors name. You grin to yourself, so many charming traditions brought to the world by our ancestors.

You reach the Generals flag galley, flying the proud pennant of the red Dragon, and walk up to a sentry. The young man looks almost happy despite sitting out in the sea-spray on a parade night, likely something to do with command being changed from a consorts cousin to a decorated veteran. As he calls up to alert the ship, you wonder how long it will take before your hand in this event becomes gossip among the legionnaires.

The General himself comes down to meet you, gesturing you away from the bustling ships t the end of the dock, where the roar of the ocean crowds out your voices.

"I believe that's the smell of a good stabbing on you, Wise Man. you certainly know how to make an entrance at court."

>If two options are equally risky, choose the one with the most flash
>An entrance yes, but one that made me more enemies than I'd like
>Not half as loud an entrance as yours, general
>Custom
>>
>>1679634
>>An entrance yes, but one that made me more enemies than I'd like
>>
>custom
"I unfortunately ran into a bit of... trouble, on the way here. However that is currently irrelevant."
>>
>>1679797
Backing this.

Let him lead us inside before we continue speaking.
>>
>sell sword
>sorcerer
Why not be a spellsellsword
>>
no dying
>>
>>1679890
OP pls
>>
OP YAMEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
>>
>>1679797
>>1679634
Supporting
Let's make sure the Legion doesn't lose anymore great generals to fool's errands.

>>1679808
He lead us to the end of the dock so no one on his ship or nearby could figure out what we're saying.
>>
>>1680530
Good idea, we should still check around there though. Whenever OP awakes or something
>>
>>1680530
>Let's make sure the Legion doesn't lose anymore great generals to fool's errands.
Maybe...but losing good generals might be a way to collapse the Empire faster. If the generals are incompetent, common soldiers may be willing to join us instead.

While we're waiting for OP, this may be a good time to think about what our plan is.
>>
>>1681093
Ah, but why waste good talent when we can make it an asset?

Common soldiers will follow orders, a general or two and some mid ranking officers are who you want on your side.
>>
but where was OP
>>
>>1681364

OP is kill.

Day started early and I just now got back home. Writing in a moment.

Once this thread hits autosage I'll be running at per-determined times to avoid this three-day slow-burner bullshit I've inflicted on you all, but the constant unpredictable interruptions may continue to plague this quest as it has all my previous ones despite scheduling.
>>
>>1682017
Sounds good, and I don't mind the interuptions too much.
>>
>>1682017
Work long days myself usually.

Don't mind a slow pace too much, so long as the quest keeps going.
>>
>>1679797
>>1679808
>>1680530

"I ran into some minor trouble on the way here. Unfortunate, but no irrelevant to us. Your sentries seem rather proud of that Red Dragon banner, almost enough to balance their regret at being out in the cold instead of whoring: it speaks well of your reputation with the ranking men, and I've come to trust that more than official histories or acclaim."

He smiles, and for a moment seems almost sad: "I'm glad of it. The earning of that banner, this crest," he points at the detailing of the scarlet drake in flight on his armor, "was one of the proudest in my life.I believe you're a bit young to have remembered the battle of Olean, but the Legions do not forget easily. They know they can depend on me to bring them what glory can be wrung from a bleak desert at the far end of the world, and send more of them home to spill their pay at the whorehouses than a vainglorious Consorts cousin on his first command."

That surprises you, even for a private conversation far from prying ears.

"I believe I can speak plainly to you, Wise man. Little birds sometimes whisper in my ear, as I believe they were supposed to have whispered to some Western kings of old, and they tell me that you took a risk on me: staked your newfound reputation at court at least partially on my success, a dangerous move for a man who seems to know the Emperors moods so well. Even more dangerous for you to turn around and report the man you'd hitched yourself to for... Foolish words." He smiles and waits for your reply.

>Ask him if you look like a fool yourself
>Inform him that this happy state of affairs only lasts as long as your position
>Tell him that you intend to support him at any rate (truth or lie)
>Custom
>>
>>1682088
>>Ask him if you look like a fool yourself
>>
>>1682088
>>Ask him if you look like a fool yourself
>>
>>1682088
>Tell him that you intend to support him at any rate (truth)
>>
>>Ask him if you look like a fool yourself
>>
>>1682090
Support
>>
>>1682090
>>1682093
>>1682107

"Do I myself look like a fool?" when the General shakes his head, smiling, you continue; "Then am I likely to speak like a fool myself?"

"I suppose that depends, but so far I think not." The battle-scarred veteran turns to you, more serious:

"I've seen men like you come to court before, thinking that the Emperor is an easy stepping stone to their goals. They failed, and died bad deaths. If I had a friend who was like to make the same mistakes they did, I would be like to warn them from dangerous paths. Do you think I have any such friends in peril, Wise Man of the Palace?"

>Stay neutral
>Assure him that you know the Emperor is far from a safe stepping stone
>Affirm that he could have such a friend in you
>Custom
>>
>>1682129
>Assure him that you know the Emperor is far from a safe stepping stone
>Affirm that he could have such a friend in you
We're here meeting with him, so I think our intention is fairly clear
>>
>>1682139
This
>>
>>1682129
>>Affirm that he could have such a friend in you
>>
>>1682129
>Affirm that he could have such a friend in you
"There are no men like me."
>>
>>1682139
>>1682141
>>1682142
>>1682156

>Had half of this pre-written and lost it by mistake in writing the other half

You smile, "There are no men like me."

You can't help but allow your Power to surface only slightly, adding a slight edge of soul-chill to the wind that an experienced campaigner would know in his heart, but not quite in his waking mind. The slightest hint of the black winds of Sorcery. "You still could have a friend in danger in myself, honored General, as I am frequently in peril, but I am well aware that the Dragon Crown is not so safe and sure a stepping stone as those before me may have believed."

The General considers you, "I am not sure whether I am seeing confidence or madness, but all the same I owe you a debt of gratitude, so I will tell you this: get what you are after and get the palace behind you on the best terms you can manage. I believe we may be able to help each other in your time in those halls, but until the Emperors health begins to fail him such that his administrators and family take charge, Gods help us then, no one who stands close to the throne will be truly safe. Look on it as a battlefield: choose a reason to be there, an end within the good reach of your means, and hold fast to it. To attempt to crest the wave of Imperial favor forever is surely death, for even if you survive to times past the Emperors health, the brawl for the Marble Throne will not like to be so kind to you."

He takes a deep breath, like a healer delivering an unfortunate prediction for a patients health, "You especially walk a dangerous path. You know what you're attempting, to stride the fine line of the favored dissenting Thane. It may bring you rich reward for the nonce, but if you ever grow too firm in your discord or too meek in your agreement you will be cast aside or worse, found to be a Waste of Time. You should never hear those words applied to your person, and be careful in heir use as a threat, for it is not one to be made lightly among those close to the Emperor. You must not counsel from the heart, but force moderation in all things, never object to his whims or most deeply-held illogic but provide a humble check on safe decisions, and always remember that you have more rivals than the empty throne room should be able to hide, and every one of them knows how easy it is to knock down a man walking a narrow beam. Some from personal experience."

He claps you on the shoulder, "Now that I've hopefully scared some wits into you, I ask if there's anything else worth discussing before we both become as waterlogged as this rotten dock?"

>Arrange for a contact through a secure Knightly courier, and bid him goodnight
>Ask how his post in the Southeast could be improved
>Mention Eastern Barony levies and tribal client nations
>Custom
>>
>>1682205
>>Ask how his post in the Southeast could be improved

Who to talk to, old friends, etc
>>
>>1682205
>>Mention Eastern Barony levies and tribal client nations

Fortune favors the bold
>>
>>1682225
This
>>
>>1682205
>Ask how his post in the Southeast could be improved
>Mention Eastern Barony levies and tribal client nations
Both!

A courier, no matter how loyal or secure, can always be leaked or intercepted.

In this world, written letters may as well be a noose around our neck, ready to be tightened.
>>
>>1682262
I mean, I kind of thought mentioning the baronies and tribal clients was something of an ambitious upgrade to asking how his post can be improved really.
>>
>>1682225
>>1682230

"There is a small matter: I will be taking a trip to the Eastern baronies soon, and while I'm there I will have full authority as an Agent of the Imperial House." the Generals eyebrows shoot up, beyond even an Agent of the Emperor, an Agent of the Imperial House has vast authority on his mission, "If I can, I may take the opportunity to raise some local mercenary bands and send them your way. I know the loot is poor, but perhaps land would tempt some spearmen out to the frontier?"

Laughter, and the General shaking his head, "Do you not think I haven't had this idea before now, Wise Man? The Merchants out that way run their trade on serf plantations, barely better than the old chattel slavery of the First and Middle Emperors, they're death-set against the Yeomanry and even more against turning the land used for their... less scrupulous crops to honest plow. You think gold and salt are the only profit the merchants carry from that lonely place?"

You continue undeterred, "What about uniting some tribes under a stronger warlord, one beholden to the Empire, or to us? Combine them into a few client states that can do us some good or eat least be used to check each others raiding."

Desmond cocks his head to one side, as if his thinking favors one ear, "Mayhap, but only that. The tribes hate each other too much to cooperate, too many blood feuds, which is why they raid in small bands instead of larger confederated armies. I suppose to our luck, but I would welcome such a fight all the same. Perhaps a joining of the schemes would do it, there's precedent from some coastal pirate kingdoms that we had to put down a hundred years ago for outsiders coming in as overlords and uniting subject tribes under their banner. The problem would be the sustainability of it; deserts and brushlands to the Southeast are poor in iron, and while some of the poorer Baronial lands may be not very much the better in terms of farmland iron is mothers milk to the men of the old wanderers blood. There is tin and copper, enough perhaps for a decent side-trade through the Sandstone Port, but while some might be accepting of bronze equipment from the wisdom of the old tails smiths who specialize in the making of Bronze arms and armor are few and far between." Your mind starts whirling, old childhood stories f past glories and glories to come from your ill-tempered father in his ravings. Dare you risk playing your hand so soon? "We would need either a steady source of weapons, or a number of skilled bronze-smiths for the shaping of scale and spearheads for any lasting vassal state to function, and even then we may just be creating a greater problem down the road if the Empire grows any weaker."

>Set up a secure courier and bid him goodnight
>Ask about anything else that could improve the situation at his post
>Tell the general you may have a source of good bronze-smiths, but it will take time
>Custom
>>
>>1682282
>Tell the general you may have a source of good bronze-smiths, but it will take time
May as well stay on topic.
>>
>>1682262

>Forgot to refresh before posting, Writing

Knightly couriers are a bit different, many bands of Free Knights and even those sworn to noble families run many underground interests in the empire, and have long-standing feuds and alliances all their own along the Imperial roads and fields, with a long-standing tradition of uniting against the less friendly forces of law and order. The couriers are the only truly effective postal service Empire-wide, and exclusive. They carry messages in secure ciphers by default, but a special code and a certain careful choice of words and vagueness about the identity of your pen-pal would be needed here.

>>1682267

Somewhat different, the other option concerned improving the supply situation and securing funding for some fortifications, possibly complicated by the drug-running merchants wanting to play things a little fast and loose. More on that in a moment.
>>
>>1682293

Fair warning, something I should have made clearer in the post, but while this is the easiest solution to the problem, for certain values of "easy", this opens up the first risks of your lineage being found out by another party. Your dynasty is old, and there are die-hard tribes in the most remote wilderness regions of the Westlands who hold to very old traditions and brook no outside authority but the bloodline they worship. Getting them to apprentice Eastern-Barony colonists will raise some eyebrows if their identity becomes known.
>>
>>1682282
>>Ask about anything else that could improve the situation at his post
>>Tell the general you may have a source of good bronze-smiths, but it will take time

May as well go all in, setting up with a courier as well I suppose.

Though, anons I should hope we'll not go all out and attempt war with a bunch of united tribals behind us. We should set as large a web as possible of usable assets before revealing our hand.
>>
>>1682300
Hm, I had thought using some levies from the eastern baronies as an extra source of manpower for the fight, not actually settling them.
>>
>>1682305
Supporting this.

Trying to solve the Eastern Barronies sounds like quite the task...

As per what the General said, what do we actually want to get out of our time in the Palace? Because we should try for as short a tenure as possible.
>>
>>1682313

Build up assets and allies, weaken the empire some and strengthen it in ways beneficial to us, then seize power.

Perhaps not the actual throne, right off the bat, but at least carve out a piece for ourselves should the emperor end up dead.
>>
>>1682212
>>1682262
>>1682267

You consider the General: Intelligent, politically savvy, perhaps ambitious and a man who loves battle, but also at heart a man of honor and a loyal son of the Empire if not its current ruler. He seems like the kind of general who would make a lifelong study of war and its history, and you doubt he hasn't read a review or two of the campaigns against your ancestors. You'll have to be certain of one of two things if you give him cause to suspect you: that you can kill him quickly, or that he won't have reason to be your enemy.

for the moment, you switch trails: "I'll think on that, but in the meantime what else could be done to make your job easier at your new post?"

He waves at the ships, "More of these to begin the tale with: the most of the important Imperial ports have a dedicated supply fleet for their guarding Legion, for times like these when the reserves are all called out at one time and space on merchant galleys is at a premium, but the Sandstone Port has been overlooked so long most in the map-rooms don't even consider its vulnerability, or the difficulty in keeping the raids down to levels the merchants can stomach. Find me ships and I'll find you an escort of fast war-galleys to protect them, and perhaps a little profit for you in the margins if you happen too have some stake in their owning.

"Then, of course, we come to the state of the almost nonexistant forts defending Salthaven and the Port, down to earthen hillforts and clay walls for lack of timber and good stone. Get me good materials, a single shipment, and I'll do my best to improve the line. Of curse, there are those who wouldn't want to see the safety of the frontier enhanced all too much: goods lost in a raid is as good excuse for missing inventory as any, if you take my meaning."

"But perhaps you are a miracle worker, eh Wise Man?"

>Goodnight
>Goodnight+courier
>I can get Bronze, don't ask where
>custom
>>
>>1682309

The fight is basically a slow-burning, sustained brushwar. You might march past the hills and clear out any tribes who don't flee at your approach, but more will migrate down from the harsher deserts and it starts all over again. The legions are basically stuck playing US Border Patrol/38th Parallel Marine with swords. You might be able to just clear the hills while he's in command to make you both look good and avert execution, but it won't be a permanent solution.
>>
>>1682325
>>Goodnight+courier

I suppose we can work out the bronze as we go along, I should think getting invested in some shipping would be beneficial to us in the long run whatever we do. Keeping the border loose could work out for us as well.

>>1682331
Gotcha. So, the solution I'm seeing is using a small band of our own with us at the lead and confronting tribes that way rather than marching in with an army. Would be a ways off I should imagine.
>>
>>1682325
>Goodnight+courier

Securing some supplies / a stake in some merchant vessels sounds like a good idea!

What is our current financial standing?

We could delve into the gold that the moneylender provided to the Emperor - which we still need to investigate.
>>
>>1682336

It all depends on what your goal is in the area.

>>1682344

You've got a bit of wealth by Knight standards, supplemented by a small living stipend as long as you have a position at court, but presently you have the total funds for maybe a single good merchant galley or two shoddy ones if you spend everything you have. If you're going to steal from the Emperor, learn from the treasury Administrator and don't get too greedy.

I'm going to have to call it a night here, writing quality is degrading past even my standards and my typing speed is approaching some sort of awful reverse superpower. Continued tomorrow, early if possible although it may be another long day.
>>
>>1682358
Appreciate ya running.

Well folks, I think we should hold off on buying into shipping, sort out our business in the baronies and that business with the alchemists then see where we stand on funds.
>>
>>>1684041

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