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You put the finishing touches on the summoning circle on the floor in front of you, then step back to look it over before you proceed. Demonology is a risky business and it pays to be careful when even the weakest of demons can still tear a grown man limb from limb. After taking a few minutes to inspect your handiwork, you place a stone bowl at the center of the circle. In it are wooden coins on which you have carved the symbols required to call the specific demon you need, along with a small wooden figurine to make the trip worth its while.

Stepping back again, careful not to mar the circle, you take your place and speak the words. The language of Hell sounds hollow and unnerving, yet it rolls off the tongue remarkably easily. The symbols on the coins glow white hot and the coins themselves catch fire. The figurine likewise burns away with unnatural speed, and the plume of smoke that boils up from the bowl begins to take shape.

But first, who are you?

> The Hedge Witch
> You didn't want to become a witch, but circumstances didn't leave you much choice. Your village would have starved if you hadn't bargained with a demon to save the harvest. Now your soul is irrevocably tainted, or at least that's what you were taught growing up. But the last year has shown that there's a lot that you don't really know. Demons are still largely a mystery to you and this is a dangerous profession even for those who aren't flying blind, but there is no denying the power it offers. And if you are truly damned, then what's the harm in delving deeper?

> The Apprentice
> Demonology is dangerous, but there are ways to mitigate the risk. You've been blessed with an excellent mentor who has taught you a lot about how to deal with demons. However, veteran demonologists are often involved in dangerous schemes of their own, and you could easily end up getting drawn into something nasty. Of course you might already be up to your neck in that something, your mentor has been unusually tight-lipped as of late.

> The Renegade
> This wasn't what your life was supposed to become. You were one of the faithful, trained to kill those who traffic with demons. But you saw things, and worse, those things saw you. One of them, in an act of monumental spite, gave you a gift that now burns in your brain and threatens to tear your mind apart. You need answers, and damned as you are now you won't find them among the faithful.

> The Heretic
> What is a heretic really, though? The church teaches that trafficking with demons is a mortal sin. But you have traveled far and seen too much to believe that. No, you're not a heretic. They are the heretics. The knowledge you spread is divine truth, while the doctrine the church peddles is a man-made lie. These creatures, these "demons," are as much a part of holy creation as the sky and sea. To declare them blasphemous is itself an intolerable blasphemy. The inquisition hunts you for your beliefs, and if they catch you, they will kill you.
>>
>>2570027
The Heretic!

We crave knowledge and the advancement of humankind!
>>
>>2570043
But I could go with the Renegade too, it seemed very ibteresting....aaaaaarg, I'm torn on the first choice!
>>
>>2570027
>Heretic
>>
>>2570027

> The Heretic
>>
>>2570027
>The Heretic
>>
Now writing for the Heretic.
>>
>>2570027
> The Renegade
> This wasn't what your life was supposed to become. You were one of the faithful, trained to kill those who traffic with demons. But you saw things, and worse, those things saw you. One of them, in an act of monumental spite, gave you a gift that now burns in your brain and threatens to tear your mind apart. You need answers, and damned as you are now you won't find them among the faithful.
>>
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You are Marcus Fowler, heretic. Or at least that's what the church, in its arrogance, calls people like you. They have made many claims over the centuries, all of them supposedly the word of God, yet all of them distinctly self-serving. But they are the dominant power here in Torien, and so you have been forced to hide what you believe, and run when you are discovered.

That is why you are currently summoning a certain associate of yours. The smoke from the burnt offering takes the shape of a man made of silver, his six arms each holding a glowing mask. His name is Keboro, a demon of the 3rd Circle, and his prophetic abilities have saved your life on more than one occasion.

"Hello Marcus," the demon's voice rings like the chiming of a bell.

"Greetings Keboro," you say with a slight bow. Over the years you've learned that it pays to act respectfully toward most demons. As alien as they might appear, they have an almost human vanity that is easy to exploit if one puts a little effort into it. "I have called upon you to ask your counsel. I suspect that I may have lingered in this village for too long."

Keboro looks about the tent, his head raised as if smelling the air with a nose that his featureless face clearly does not have. "You are right to suspect that," he says. "Should you remain here for another day, death will follow. It may be your own, or it might belong to another, I cannot tell. But if you are still in this village by sunset tomorrow, someone will meet a violent end here."

You frown. That was what you were afraid of. You've been careful, but there is only so much that you can do. Eventually someone always starts nosing around and realizes that maybe the "traveling merchant" that arrived in town isn't just a merchant.

"My thanks, Keboro." You turn and take another bowl from the small table next to you, holding it out to the demon. "Please, take this offering as payment."

Keboro holds out one of his masks. The chicken's blood lazily rises from the bowl, flowing through the air and into the mouth of the mask where it vanishes in a puff of smoke. Though he has no mouth of his own, you can feel the demon smile.

"As always, it is a pleasure doing business with you. Farewell, Marcus."

With that, he folds his six arms across his chest and evaporates, leaving you alone in the tent.
>>
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You sigh, then walk out of the tent and into the early morning light. The air is still crisp from the night before, but all the familiar sounds of day have already begun to drift across the village of Easterbrook. Ibrahim, your assistant and fellow 'heretic,' is waiting for you outside the tent.

"Is it as you feared?"

"Yes," you reply. "Our cover has been compromised again. We'll need to leave before tomorrow night."

The large man nods and says "I will begin packing the wagon. When do you wish to leave?"

> Immediately, no sense in taking any more risks.
> Tonight, I may be able to plant a few seed of doubt before we leave. (Seek to convert one potential demonologist)
> Tomorrow. There are more people here willing to question the order of things. (Seek to convert multiple potential demonologists, risk of discovery)
>>
>>2570270
>Tonight, I may be able to plant a few seed of doubt before we leave. (Seek to convert one potential demonologist)
>>
>>2570270
>Tonight, I may be able to plant a few seed of doubt before we leave. (Seek to convert one potential demonologist)

Gotta build that cult early... and find out what we know.
>>
>>2570270
Tonight
>>
>>2570270
>> Tomorrow. There are more people here willing to question the order of things. (Seek to convert multiple potential demonologists, risk of discovery)
>>
>>2570270
> Tonight, I may be able to plant a few seed of doubt before we leave. (Seek to convert one potential demonologist)

An apprentice is needed, always two there must be. A master to hold the power and an apprentice who craves it.

...Wait that's the wrong evil book...
>>
Now writing for Tonight.
>>
>>2570261
Are you Kals, the Demesne Quest QM?

>>2570315
+1
>>
"Tonight. There are a few people here that show promise. I'll try to sow the seeds of doubt, but be ready to leave soon."

Ibrahim nods again and sets to work packing up the camp that the two of you have been living in this past week. It's a modest thing, but it's been enough to maintain your cover as a traveling merchant for at least a little while. You've even been able to make a little coin on the side, thanks in part to the fact that you can acquire things that no faithful Ephesian can.

With that settled, you start walking toward the center of Easterbrook. It is like many other villages in Torien, more a collection of scattered buildings dotting the land than anything else. It is centered around a few shops whose trades are necessary to scrape out a living here, and already the sounds of work can be heard from within them. You spy a few familiar faces walking the paths from the outlying farms to the shops.

You see a brown-haired girl with a basket heading into town. You recognize her as Edith, a young woman whose family tends an orchard downriver from Easterbrook. Like many of the village's youth, she had been intrigued by your tales of the wider world, especially by how much more common magic was outside of Torien.

Another sight is a young man running past some of the shops, laughing all the way, with two much less happy looking men trailing behind. If you had to guess, that's probably Karl. In your short time here, you've already become well acquainted with a few of his antics. He never was one to simply accept what he was told, and he was very eager to ask you questions about all the things people could do in lands not under the Ephesian church.

You stop and look at where your walk has taken you. You are currently standing in front of Agatha's shop, though the old weaving woman isn't really the one running it anymore. Her granddaughter Hannah does most of the work these days, but from what you've picked up 'innocent' conversation, she's not particularly content with that arrangement. She's certainly good at it, but she from the sounds of it she doesn't want to live out her life in this quaint place.

> Go talk with Edith, her interest in magic might makes her a good candidate
> Go save Karl from whatever he's gotten himself into now, his problems with authority could prove useful
> Go into Agatha's shop and speak with Hannah, her desire for adventure could leave her open to many things
>>
>>2570382
> Are you Kals, the Demesne Quest QM?
No.
>>
>>2570397
>You've even been able to make a little coin on the side, thanks in part to the fact that you can acquire things that no faithful Ephesian can.
So that's the reason we got found out quickly? Somebody put the two together? Guess we're not totally the clever sort, sold something that piqued the wrong interest.

>>2570397
Let's see, the kid with authority problems could be useful but if many demons are like that other one he'd probably be a pain to teach the right manners. Being just interested in magic is a bit of a hard sell.

Between a troublemaking kid and someone with a passing interest in magic, I'll vote Hannah. Because being good at maintaining a shop is closer to our real profession and also... we're posing as a merchant. It just sort of makes sense to me that if we pick someone up, it's somebody with evidence of skill related to what we do.
>>
>>2570397
>Go into Agatha's shop and speak with Hannah, her desire for adventure could leave her open to many things
>>2570403 made good points
>>
>>2570446
Oops I ment >>2570442
>>
>>2570442
> So that's the reason we got found out quickly? Somebody put the two together? Guess we're not totally the clever sort, sold something that piqued the wrong interest.
There's a balancing act to it. If you're trying to convert people, even if you're subtle about it, you'll always be found out eventually and you'll need to burn the identity and move on (demons make that a lot less of a hassle than you might think). Commerce in the forbidden can accelerate that, but a small amount won't speed up the process by that much.
>>
>>2570442
+1

>>2570457
Why'd you delete your post?
>>
>>2570478
Name/Trip out of my own quest. I don't like doing that.

>>2570442
This is good logic. Backing.
>>
>>2570475
I see. Hopefully we won't have to burn too many identities before we can make a place to return to.
>>
Now writing for Hannah.
>>
You open the door to Agatha's shop. A small bell mounted next to the doorway rings, and a voice from another room shouts "I'll be there in just a moment!"

Looking around the shop, it's a small, rather cramped thing, but one that has clearly been well looked after. A variety of fabrics hang neatly from racks along the walls, and the floorspace is largely dominated by wooden machinery. A door at the back opens and Hannah emerges carrying a basket containing a mix of thread and tools.

Her face brightens a bit when she sees you. "Good morning, Marcus!"

You smile back. "Good morning, Hannah."

"Are you here for more of those scarves? I've another two if you're still interested in them." She set the basket down on a counter near the door and points over to one of the racks on the wall. "I'm sure they'll fetch a fine price at one of your next stops."

You avoid bringing up the actual fate of several of the pieces that she's already sold you, namely being served up to a demon as an offering. Craftsmen in Torien tend to dislike the idea that their work is destined for destruction, and that's before you get to the entire issue of dealing with demons. "Yes, I'm actually going to be heading out soon, and I though I might stop by and see if you had anything more before I moved on."

"Oh." Hearing that you're leaving soon seems to bring her down a bit, though that's common among young people who have been interested in your tales. There's so much to the outside world that they might never see for themselves, and many gobble up the little bits and pieces that you feed them. But Hannah rebounds a bit, fiddling with her blonde hair and continuing. "Well, I suppose Easterbrook is a bit small for a man of the world like you."

"There's nothing wrong with Easterbrook," you say, "but there is just so much to see out there." You motion theatrically toward the door. "I could spend my entire life on the road and I wouldn't even come close to experiencing all of it."

Your words hit as hard as you hoped. Hannah's lips briefly purse tightly in a look of pain and longing, but it's quickly quashed. You see an opening, there are a number of things that you could do. You could even make Hannah think that they were her own idea, if you play your cards right.

> Plant the idea that she could be a merchant like you (try to recruit Hannah as a follower, moderate difficulty)
> Leave her with some ideas from elsewhere to feed her desire for more (try to start Hannah on the path of demonology here in Easterbrook, low difficulty)
> Write in
>>
> forgot my image
Of course.
>>
>>2570599

> Plant the idea that she could be a merchant like you (try to recruit Hannah as a follower, moderate difficulty)

If we don't have them tag-along, what's the point of taking the risk to begin with?
>>
>>2570599
> Leave her with some ideas from elsewhere to feed her desire for more (try to start Hannah on the path of demonology here in Easterbrook, low difficulty)

Mybe leave her something that when she is able to leave it will let her know where we are or let us know to come get her
>>
>>2570599
>Plant the idea that she could be a merchant like you (try to recruit Hannah as a follower, moderate difficulty)

Try to focus not so much on her following us, but more on the idea that she has enough merchantable skills to operate as one, if she's willing to learn the trade as she goes. Say that traveling merchants often look for good apprentices, but wait for her to mention interest, and mention that she looks content here. Truly adventurous types hate being called out on being "merely" content.
>>
>>2570646
>>2570599
Also, because I want her to keep an open mind, and frame it as learning more about the world as well, not just working.

Since that can transfer softly into demonology, us teaching things that the ordinary people here can't teach, later.
>>
>>2570599
"Not to say it's not daunting, but it's certainly as much of an adventure as anyone could ask for. All the different types of people, local customs...sometimes I wonder if I might need to write a book of it all, once day, ha!

Of course, if I did that, I'd hope it'd serve well to educate anyone who wanted to be in the same field. I've found you can only improve through exposure to new things, you know.

>>2570646
>>2570655
...And these two yeah definitely. Didn't see them pop up.
>>
>>2570599
>Plant the idea that she could be a merchant like you (try to recruit Hannah as a follower, moderate difficulty)
>>
Looks like recruit wins, so please roll 5d10.

Also, here's an overview of how rolling will work in this quest (for now, anyway, subject to change as I figure out what works well).

Players roll 5 d10s and the number of rolls that meet or exceed the DC determines the outcome.

0: Critical failure
1: Major failure
2: Minor failure
3: Minor success
4: Major success
5: Critical success

Players can have allied assistance with a roll, in which case they roll a number of additional d10s determined by the skill of the ally.

The situation may modify the roll, giving the player either circumstance bonuses or penalties in the form of a flat modifier to the roll.

If the result is a minor or major failure, players can choose to add a bonus to a roll through bargaining. This comes at a price chosen by the players from the following list:
- Risk of immediate damage.
- Risk of immediate short term penalty.
- Risk of future long term penalty.
- Guaranteed harm to an ally, if present

The probability and severity of the negative consequence are determined by the size of the bonus being added. Critical failures cannot be bargained away, nor can bargaining result in a critical success.
>>
Rolled 7, 2, 10, 9, 6 = 34 (5d10)

>>2570690
>>
Rolled 6, 7, 8, 6, 2 = 29 (5d10)

>>2570690
Oh boy.
>>
Rolled 9, 10, 10, 3, 3 = 35 (5d10)

>>2570690
>>
>>2570694
> 4 success = Major Success
Now writing.
>>
>>2570715
So the DC was probably at least 5. Not too difficult, but I wonder if we can summon something that'll help our charisma in the future.
>>
"You know, seeing some of your work, I'd say that you could probably do well for yourself as a merchant."

Hannah blushes slightly at the compliment, "Really?" But then she shakes her head. "I mean, I'm just a seamstress, I don't think I'd last long out there."

"Maybe not alone, but I don't travel alone either. You met Ibrahim didn't you? He came in here with me a few days ago."

She cocks her head in thought. "That Mashari man? Yes, just in passing. He seemed a bit... odd."

"Yes, well he's a long way from home. We've been traveling together for some time now, and it's made my journey quite a bit easier." You leave out the fact that the key way he's made it easier is that he's frighteningly good at killing people. "Not to say that it isn't daunting sometimes, but it's certainly as much adventure as anyone could ask for. With all the new people I've met and the new customs I've encountered, why, I could probably write a book on it someday."

"I-" Hannah starts, then stops, clearly conflicted. But after a moment of hesitation, she powers through and asks "I don't suppose you'd be willing to have some more company on your journey, would you?"

"Really?" you ask, doing your best to pretend to be a little surprised. "I mean, I'd be delighted to have you along, but you see like you have a fine arrangement here. A lot of people would be content with having a shop to call their own."

She grimaces slightly at that. "A lot of people, maybe, but me? No. I've been thinking about this for a while now, but I think I want more than just this. And now that my brother is old enough to mind the shop, I'd like to try traveling."

"I was planning on leaving tonight, if that's an issue."

"No, no I don't think it will be. I've brought this up with grandma before, and I don't think she'd be that surprised to hear about it now. I'll be ready to leave tonight."

"Well, in that case, this isn't the goodbye that I thought it might be. I'll bring my wagon by tonight, and we can be on our way." You make your way to the door and smile back at Hannah "I'll see you then."

She flashes a smile back at you that almost makes you regret how blatantly you've been manipulating her. "See you then," she says cheerfully back at you.

Stepping out of the shop, before your conscience bothers you any more, you start back down the path again. You still have most of a day before you leave tonight, there may be some things that you can get from the market for your journey. Or maybe you could...

That train of thought is cut short by a stern voice from behind you. "You there. Hold."
>>
>>2570825
Here we go.
>>
You stop and turn around. Standing before you is a middle-aged man garbed in reddish-brown robes and carrying a walking stick. A medallion around his neck bears the emblem of a wheel with twelve spokes, the symbol of the Ephesian church. Unless you've missed your mark, he's probably the priest of the local circuit. Villages like Easterbrook are too small and insignificant to have their own priest, so the Ephesian church has some who traveling between villages, presiding over the naming of children and blessing marriages and the like.

That would explain why Keboro said that death would come soon. If this priest just arrived, he would probably have been greeted by youngsters with questions. Questions that they would only be asking if someone like you had been telling them tales about the wider world.

"You're the vagabond who has been filling the heads of these simple folk with poison, aren't you?" he says, more scolding than asking.

> Deny. You heard it's a nice river somewhere.
> Argue. Who is he calling a vagabond?
> Leave. You know where this is going, so you're going somewhere else.
> Write in
>>
>>2570835
"Odd thing to call 'stories about my travels', if that's what you mean. Ease yourself, priest; if it's my so-called 'poison' you worry about, I intend to take my leave by nightfall. You'll need not concern yourself with my presence come the morrow."
>>
>>2570848
>>2570835
Second.
>>
>>2570848
Sure why not
>>
>>2570848
I dont have anything better so il go with this
>>
You frown at the priest's characterization. "An odd thing to call the stories of my travels, if that's what you mean."

That earns you one of the priest's fingers pointed accusingly at your face. "Then you do not deny that you have been spreading tales from the heathen lands that have turned their backs on God."

"I am a merchant," you say, holding out your arms to each side. "I have been to many places in my time, some of them beyond Torien. There, I am happy to relieve those heathens of their valuables. And is there something wrong with telling stories of how I swindled those who turn their backs on God?"

It still stings a bit, being force to call Solace a mere god, when in truth He is so much more. Being barred from even using the name of someone who gave so much to this world, all because of these Ephesians. But you don't let it show. You can't let it show.

The priest's face scrunches in frustration. "If that were all you were saying, then no, but some of what I have heard recounted is far from that. You have spun lies about the heathens, telling our innocent children of how they live, making it sound as if there is goodness outside the embrace of God's chosen representatives on Oresa. As if there could be goodness without God!"

"I have said no such thing," you protest. "I tell what I have seen to those who ask what I have seen. I have never said that what I saw out there was good."

Technically true. You never called it good per se. Of course, even a strictly factual story of Masharak or the Habori Empire wouldn't necessarily sound that bad either.

"But if it is any consolation," you say, striking a conciliatory tone, "I will be leaving this village anyway. I am a merchant, after all. I have bought and sold what I could here in Easterbrook, and so tonight I will depart and you will no longer need concern yourself with me."

The priest pauses for a moment, mulling over what you have said. His eyes narrow. "Very well then. Leave this village and do not return. But know this, if in my own travels I hear any more about you or your twisted stories, I will see you broken on the wheel." And with that threat, he leaves.

The pendant around your own neck, concealed under your clothes, rumbles ever so slightly at his murderous intent. Another of Keboro's works, it has come in hand before, though this time it was a touch obvious.

Your walk to the market is much less upbeat than it would have been only a few minutes earlier. The priest's threat is not an unusual one, being the classic punishment of the Ephesian church. But it is grim nonetheless. Being tied to a wheel, facing the sky, with every bone in your limbs broken, and left for the beasts and the elements. It sickens you to think of what these people are doing, all supposedly with the blessings of Solace.
>>
The market at Easterbrook is a small thing, much like the village itself. You pause to take stock of what you have, and what you need. Your deal with Keboro this morning used up the last of the chicken blood, but you still have some art to sacrifice. Looking through your coin purse, you see you have 15 silver Trents.

Sacrifice comes in two forms: Art and blood. Crafted items are the most common form of art used in sacrifice, and blood is self-explanatory. Thus far you've preferred chickens for blood sacrifices, since they are relatively easy to acquire. Storing them or their blood has sometimes been a bit of a hassle though, so you generally buy them as needed.

There's also the issue of Hannah. She'll probably have some supplies of her own, but you doubt that she'll be well equipped for the road, being as inexperienced as she is.

> Buy some supplies for Hannah (5 silver)
> Don't

Also

> Buy one chicken (4 silver)
> Buy two chickens (8 silver)
> Don't

> Write in (anything else you might want to buy)
>>
>>2571024
>Buy some supplies for Hannah (5 silver)
Good to be somewhat thoughtful.

>Buy one chicken (4 silver)

I can't think of anything else at this hour so g'night QM. I'm eager to see where this goes, don't die on a wheel overnight anons.
>>
>>2571024
>Buy some supplies for Hannah
>Buy two chickens
>haggle those price down if we can
>>
>>2571092
> haggle those price down if we can
You know I totally forgot about that. Roll 5d10 for haggling. This will be regardless of the number of chickens purchased.
>>
Rolled 9, 3, 9, 2, 10 = 33 (5d10)

>>2571100
>>2571037
+1
>>2571024
>> Write in (anything else you might want to buy)
Trade goods. What do we normally spend our money on?
>>
>>2571024

> Buy some supplies for Hannah (5 silver)
> Buy one chicken (4 silver)
>>
>>2571092

Second, also, look around for any cheap and offerable knickknacks for a lesser entity. Preferably 2 or less trents, assuming we can summon other things.

A goal would be to eventually find an item with a weak being bound to it that we can call on at will without a circle.
>>
Rolled 9, 9, 5, 7, 8 = 38 (5d10)

>>2571100
>>
>>2571103
> 3 successes = minor success
Now writing for supplies, one chicken, and some trade goods.

>>2571103
> Trade goods. What do we normally spend our money on?
Any sort of finished good really, things that balance being small and light with being decently valuable. Textiles, like what Hannah mentioned you already bought, are a common one. Particularly good tools are another. People also sometimes sell old valuables, so you'll occasionally find everything from ancient jewelry to books to the odd sword.

For the most part, the stuff you've acquired in Easterbrook is clothing, so for now that's what you've got. You'll be able to sell that later, once you've moved on.
>>
You pick out a few thing for Hannah that she might not have thought of. It would be just a bit embarrassing for everyone involved if she started regret her decision simply because of the hardships of life on the road. The chicken gets you a strange look from the farmer selling it, since he's pretty sure he already sold you one, but nothing more than that. You even manage to find a collection of carpenter's tools at a decent price, bringing the cost of the day's trip to 8 silver.

Soon you're headed back to your and Ibrahim's little camp. With the priest's threat still occupying your thoughts, it would probably be best to leave this village for the freedom of the open road. Unfortunately, a handful of Easterbrook's children intercept you on the way back, and begin barraging you with all manner of questions.

"Mister merchant! Why do you have a chicken?"
"Mister merchant! Do they really piss standing upside-down in the south?"
"What do the elves do when it rains mister merchant?"
"Are there really lizards that wear clothes?"
"Mister merchant, my da said that you're full of shit. What does shit mean?"
"Are you really leaving today mister merchant?"

It appears that at least one of them overheard your conversation with the priest.

With a laugh you start trying to respond "It's for a friend, and no, and they get rained on, and yes, and ask your father, and yes." This only seems to confuse the children more, since most of them can't tell which answer is for which question. They continue swarming around your feet, peppering you with even more questions. The chicken seems most displeased with this state of affairs, and buawaks loudly from the small cage you are carrying it in. As the children close in, your hand instinctively curls tightly around you coin purse, which is good because you're pretty sure you felt at least one of the children grab for it in the confusion.

Eventually, a slightly older boy, who seems to be old enough to know that he's not supposed to like you, comes running up from behind the pack and starts shoos them all back to their homes and families. He shoots you a glare before running off after the younger children, herding them back toward the village.

Your arrival back at your camp is greeted by a far less pleasant sight. There are two men there that you do not recognize, each clad in gambeson and a helmet and carrying a sword and buckler on his hip. The two appear to be arguing with Ibrahim. You can only hear fragments of it at a distance, but you can make out enough to deduce that they're talking about Ibrahim's heritage.

The medallion around your neck hums ominously.

> Intervene diplomatically. It would be best to resolve this non-violently.
> Let Ibrahim handle this. He probably won't kill them. Maybe. Hopefully.
> Create a distraction.
> Write in.
>>
>>2571186
Intervene diplomatically. Let's see what this is about before letting things get violent.
>>
>>2571186
>> Intervene diplomatically. It would be best to resolve this non-violently.
We told the priest we'd be leaving, nothing more to see here. I think Ibrahim was delaying for us.
>>
>>2571186
Intervene diplomatically. It's worked so far, and I'd rather not be stuck talking our way out of hiding bodies on hannah's first day; that's more of a 'third day' thing.
>>
Roll 6d10 for diplomacy, Ibrahim assisting as best he can (aka not very well).
>>
>>2571186
>Intervene diplomatically. It would be best to resolve this non-violently
Last thing we want are missing persons
>>
Rolled 1, 6, 6, 2, 3, 2 = 20 (6d10)

>>2571209
Do you take best of 3 or just the first?
>>
>>2571218
Just the first, though I may revise the dice mechanic as the quest progresses.

> 2 successes = Minor Failure
Writing.
>>
>>2571222
We can bargain, right? Or do we get to do that after the results?
>>
>>2571224
Sorry about that. Yes, you can bargain. Would you like to bargain up to a minor success? You can apply either a +2 bonus through bargaining, which will get you a minor success, or a +3 which will get you a major success.

> Don't bargain, go with minor failure
> Bargain up to minor success (requires +2)
> Bargain up to major success (requires +3)

Going for a +2 will get you a chance of some negative consequences, while a +3 will have a higher chance of worse consequences.
>>
>>2571232
>Going for a +2 will get you a chance of some negative consequences,
What does that mean, we roll again?
>>
>>2571232
>Bargain up to minor success (requires +2)
>>
>>2571232
+2

>>2571238
I think in this context we'll have to bribe them or something similar.
>>
>>2571238
If you bargain, you'll roll another d10. Depending on how much you needed to bargain there's a greater or lesser chance of something bad happening that will stick around. In this case, the DC for the initial roll was 5, so you'll need to bargain up by +2 in order to boost that 3 here >>2571218 up to a 5, which will turn the roll into a minor success. You could bargain to boost the roll by +3, which will turn it into a major success (not critical though, because you can't bargain into a crate success), but that will increase the odds of a bad thing happening, as well as its severity.
>>
From the looks of it, people want to bargain by +2, so roll me another d10. Bad things will happen on a 1 through 4.
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2571253
Okay, I'll bite
>>
>>2571253
>>2571258
What would have happened if it was a failed roll? Would we still get the minor success?
>>
>>2571269
Yes. You'd get a minor success on the diplomacy roll, so that would resolve the situation, but a bad thing would happen as well. Like, for example, the men might break something of yours.
>>
>>2571273
I see. That's pretty cool.
I starting to really like your dice mechanics.
>>
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You quickly make your way to the camp. Hopefully you can avoid having to bury those two men. "Hold on," you call out.

The two men and Ibrahim stop arguing and turn to look at you as you approach. You suddenly feel awkward for having called out to them while you're nowhere near close enough to actually talk to them, forcing them to just stare at you as you jog toward them, but it's too late now. Thankfully, they're willing to wait long enough for you to arrive.

"Peace, please," you say. "I've already spoken with the priest. We'll be leaving tonight. There is no need for violence."

The two men look at each other, puzzled. "Priest?" one of them says to his comrade, then turns back to you. "The fuck are ya talking about ya cunt?"

Now it's your turn to look puzzled. "Aren't you the priest's men?"

"Fuck no," the man shouts. "We don't work for no cunting priest!"

"We're with the Company of the Hat!" the other man says, proudly pointing to a patch on his gambeson bearing a crude red hat.

You almost throw up a little in your mouth. Mercenaries. Armies marching to war are never pleasant for the surrounding countryside, but mercenaries are particularly brutal. If these two men are foragers for a mercenary company, they're probably considering just killing you and taking everything from your camp.

Your eyes narrow. "What are mercenaries doing in Easterbrook? There isn't a war on here."

The first man chuckles. "Nah, but word is there's gonna be anotha Grand Mission, so all of us is goin down to Varena to sign on. We'll get tons a gold and fuck tons a cunts and kill tons a Shar and go to Heaven for it!"

You had heard rumors that there was to be a new Grand Mission, but you had thought that they were just that. Rumors. It would be stupid to launch one now, the city-states of Masharak repelled the last one and they've only gotten stronger since. But if there are mercenaries gathering at Varena, then there must be money in it for them, which means that something major is going to happen.

The second mercenary pipes up, jabbing a finger at Ibrahim. "And no sooner have we started out than we run into this cunting little shit. A fuckn Shar. Probably a spy or some such, here to- to-" He struggles for a moment with something to say before settling on "to spy on us!"

You sigh and slowly press your hand against your face. The man doesn't seem to know that the Shar, the real Shar, not simply the humans from Masharak, are giant bipedal lizards.
>>
"He's not a spy," you say. "He's my assistant."

"Assistant for what? Wanking? You one of them man fuckers? Like taking it up the arse?"

"No," you say, putting on your best impression of a man of great authority. "I am Thomas Davin, son of Roland Davin, heir to the Yarrick and Davin Trading Company. If you men wish to serve your company well, then take this message back to you commander. I can arrange for you men to have supplies provided to you, at a generous rate, if you will provide me with a cut of your spoils."

The two mercenaries look confused. One of them pipes up. "What? You want some of our loot now?"

"In exchange for high quality provisions at all stages of your journey." You reply, trying to smooth over his sudden confusion. "Surely you would appreciate some fresh food? Perhaps better quality bedding? Such things can make a long journey far more comfortable. If you inform your commander, I'm sure that he would be willing to hammer out terms for a long-term supply contract."

The two men pause again and turn to each other. "A bedroll would be nice," the second says. Then they turn back to you.

"Alright," the first says. "We'll go tell the captain about your offer mister Davin." He prods your chest with a pudgy finger. "But you'd better be good for it, or we'll make you fucking regret it."

With that, the two men turn and trundle off down the road, heading away from Easterbrook to the north.

Once they're out of earshot, you turn to Ibrahim. "Come on, let's finish packing the wagon and get out of here before they come back."
>>
Tbh, now that I've learned who they were, I wish we had shanked them.
>>
I'm going to break here for the night. The quest will resume in about 13 hours (5 pm EST, 2 pm PST). I'll pick up then with the meet up with Hannah and the three of you hitting the road.

Any comments, feedback, or questions are quite welcome, I'll respond to them when possible. I may be able to get a few in before I go to bed.
>>
>>2571294
Like I said, the dice mechanic is interesting and something I've yet to see in quests, I think it will work well. I like that allies can give you bonuses too.

The story seems to be interesting too but the whole "Church" is actually super evil and everyone is a dick might be kind of a cliché. Still, too early to judge.
>>
>>2571294

I'm liking the setting so far and the dice mechanics are nice too as the other anon mentioned.

If I understand correctly the God these people follow is another demon called Solace? is that it?
>>
>>2571299
Well buddy the church has always been super evil and self serving thoguht out all of history so not really a cliché but more how it is since we havent been brain washed into there bullshit from birth we can see though the lies.
bet that prist has a bitch boy at every town he go to.
>>
>>2571294
I like the dice mechanics. I'm wondering how we'll meet new demons, but that's probably for later.

>>2571299
Consider that since demons exist, their harsh viewpoint might actually be entirely justified depending on the caliber of demon summoners and related run-ins they've had in the past. Depending on the particularities of these demons, one bad deal may sufficiently mar a nation against any ideas related to them. We know one who can share decently prophetic knowledge, and magic, and that's just one demon who could absolutely turn a nation against itself if used correctly or asked questions related to rulership, and so on. Not even counting how more hellish that would make large scale warfare. Amazingly, they're a starter for us. Just with the one tiny problem of what they'd ask for in return for such knowledge. Then there's the inevitable problem of, oh, I dunno, being manipulated by an ancient inhuman entity you're paying to trust into the likely endeavor of causing you to need them to survive.

If there are demons who can craft magic trinkets (like our murderous intent sensing necklace), trade basic powers or loan strength, or simply fight at far above human competence (as was hinted at) and so on; crushing someone on a wheel isn't super evil at all, for both making a statement and maintaining community among the populace. Forbidding the truth is essential to that end, assuming at least someone in the Ephesian Church knows why they do it, as so far for them it seems to be working.

The priest threatened us, but waited for validation and was open to us just setting on our way and not being his problem, or Easterbrooks. It's still too early to judge, but the people of Easterbrook appear to be living relatively well enough, if ignorant. They have kids that want adventure but that's kids, they don't overtly look like they're suffering under the oppression of their church at all. They are good, happy cattle.

It's a tragedy, really. They could know and be so much more. We probably can't save most Ephesians from their crude institutional blindness. Payday soldiers and potential war notwithstanding.
>>
>>2571294
Actually, I do have one kinda relevant question. What do we know of Solace?
>>
>>2571249
>>2571232
What's the difference between the consequences of bargaining up to a minor success versus keeping a minor failure?
>>2571253
>>2571273
Is it possible to reduce the consequences of bargaining, or improve our odds in it?

>>2571293
Same, but it'd look bad for the new recruit.

>>2571299
>>2571680
I concur on the novel dice mechanics.
>>
>>2571294
Are you following darkwood quest on akun? Your setting reminds me of that one.
>>
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> mfw people asking questions about my quest

>>2571350
>>2571758
Marcus believes that Solace is neither a god nor a a demon, but something above them. The Ephesian church and the demons that Marcus has spoken with both agree that Solace made the world. However, demons claim that he also made them and the many gods, while the Ephesian church teaches that demons and false gods are the creations of mankind. Demons also claim that Solace watched over the world for a time, but disappeared about 700 years ago. The Ephesian church teaches that he's still watching over the world.

>>2571299
This >>2571680 hits some of the main points. The Ephesian church isn't particularly evil. What they are is a combination of desperate and the product of centuries of doctrinal drift. There are a lot of good, justified reasons to be wary of demons. Keboro? He's a third circle demon. Demons go all the way up to ninth circle. Keboro is also one that the heretic deals with regularly because he's reliable and personable. There are demons that aren't anywhere near as nice. Societies that don't have rules for dealing with demons don't last long. That said, the passage of enough time can twist those rules.

>>2571893
Bargaining up to a minor success means that what you're trying to do will succeed, it's just that you're opening yourself up to negative consequences unrelated to that. For example, if you're trying to force open a door, bargaining into a minor success will get the door open, but it comes at the risk of injury. The chance and severity of the negative consequences are determined by how much you had to boost your rolls through bargaining.

>>2571991
Hadn't heard of it, may look into in the future.

As for new demons, Marcus does know several more, it's just that this first section hasn't really brought them up and it's been a bit more structured than the rest of the quest will be once you hit the road. The upcoming story post will introduce the rest of them.
>>
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The sun is starting to sink low in the sky as you finish packing the wagon. There's just one final thing to handle before you go meet Hannah and leave Easterbrook behind. Traveling the road at night can be dangerous. Even if you don't run into another soul the whole time, simply negotiating the rough and sometimes muddy ground can be difficult in the dark. Most merchants prefer to travel by day and make camp during the night. Of course, you're not most merchants, and quickly putting some distance between you and Easterbrook would probably be wise.

You take a brief moment to consider your options. You know of at least a few demons that could help you in this situation. You could enlist the aid of one or maybe even two of them for your journey.

> Remeer, 4th Circle demon of illusion. He could conceal you during the night, helping to keep you safe from brigands or wild beasts. But he sometimes likes to play games with those he deals with.
> Karkordon, 4 Circle demon of beasts. He can command wild animals, and that would certainly protect you very well. He always drives a hard bargain though.
> Vedek, 3rd Circle demon of growth. He can make many things stronger and hardier, and a temporary boost to both you, Ibrahim, and your horses would make you a tough target for brigands and beasts.
> Setra, 2nd Circle demon of sleep. She can put things to sleep, such as anyone who might accost you on the road, and will probably work for cheap. Though she'll want to chat along the way, and that might complicate things with Hannah.
> Tethis, 1st Circle demon of hunting. He could guard you well during the night, and as a first circle demon his services will be much cheaper. However he's a bit scatterbrained.
> Don't summon a demon (Skip ahead to meeting with Hannah)
>>
>>2572036
>Remeer
>Tethis
>>
>>2572036
>Tethis, 1st Circle demon of hunting. He could guard you well during the night, and as a first circle demon his services will be much cheaper. However he's a bit scatterbrained.

Seems safe enough. Mostly only worried about the others making it harder to ease our newbie into the whole demonology thing.
>>
>>2572036
>Tethis
> Setra
>>
>>2572036
>> Tethis, 1st Circle demon of hunting. He could guard you well during the night, and as a first circle demon his services will be much cheaper. However he's a bit scatterbrained.
>>
>>2572036
Is it possible to pick up a demon that's in the material plane already?

Perhaps one that's possessing someone or haunting a place

Getting someone who knows the mortal plane would be useful.
>>
>>2572048
+1
>>
>>2572074
I wonder if we could propose a demon into possessing someone as the form of payment for their services...
>>
>>2572036
> Setra, 2nd Circle demon of sleep. She can put things to sleep, such as anyone who might accost you on the road, and will probably work for cheap. Though she'll want to chat along the way, and that might complicate things with Hannah.
>>
>>2572074
While there are demons out and about in the mortal world, it's not exactly common, and it's draining for them to stay for extended periods of time. Possession and haunting are abilities of specific demons, not all demons are capable of that.

The easiest way of getting in touch with new demons is actually to ask for a referral from a demon that you consider reliable. They often have buddies that they'll recommend (and who will in turn recommend them to others). As mentioned at the beginning, you can call a specific demon with a series of symbol added to the ritual. That sort of "phone number" is a thing that demons trade around.

Now writing for summoning Tethis.
>>
>>2572036
>> Tethis, 1st Circle demon of hunting. He could guard you well during the night, and as a first circle demon his services will be much cheaper. However he's a bit scatterbrained.


I would like Setra, but I don't think Hannah is quite ready to be seeing us deal with demons already
>>
>>2571249
Just for clarification , do the +2 and +3 indicate the amount needed to turn a failed dice roll into a successful one? Or something else
>>
>>2572154
Yes. When you roll Xd10, there's a DC that determines which of those rolls are successes and which are failures. Bargaining applies a flat buff to the rolls (bargaining +1 increases those rolls by 1, +2 by 2, etc.) in order to turn failures into successes and thus the overall roll into a minor or major success. But the larger the bonus from bargaining, the more likely and more severe the negative consequences that might come from it.
>>
>>2572036
Setra sounds like a chill person.
Also could you explain the different circles?does it simply mean that demons in higher circles stronger/more powerful?
>>
>>2572140
If you find demons through other demons , then how do you find the initial demon?
>>
>>2572036
> Setra, 2nd Circle demon of sleep. She can put things to sleep, such as anyone who might accost you on the road, and will probably work for cheap. Though she'll want to chat along the way, and that might complicate things with Hannah.
>>
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With the exception of your ritual gear, the wagon is packed and ready to go. With Ibrahim's assistance, you mark out a summoning circle and carve the runes for Tethis into a handful of wooden coins which you place in a bowl. The hunter's particular preferences makes the appetizer offering obvious, albeit somewhat unpleasant. Blood, and not just any blood. Ensouled blood. You make a small cut upon your arm with a carefully cleaned ritual knife and let some of your blood drain into the bowl. You place the bowl in the center of the circle and review it while Ibrahim bandages your arm.

With everything in place, you speak the words to call Tethis into the world. The blood in the bowl boils away greedily as the coins burn, and the smoke quickly forms into a massive black shrimp. Its many limbs twitch excitedly as it regards you and rapidly speaks in a chittering voice.

"Daniel! Daniel! Good to see/smell/taste you again!"

"Hello, Tethis," you say with a bow. "I go by Marcus now."

"Ah yes yes yes, Marcus. Good to see you Marcus." It's head tilts back and forth inquisitively "Something you need? Something you want?"

"Yes, Tethis. I've called upon you to ask for your aid. I need to leave this village tonight and the road ahead may be dangerous. I would be grateful if you could protect me and my companions during the journey." After a moment's thought you add, "covertly, if possible. One of my companions might find your appearance intimidating."

"I could do this," Tethis says quickly, bobbing up and down. "Yes yes I could. For a price."

You think for a moment. Aside from more blood, you have a number of things that you could offer him. You have the chicken purchased earlier today, which would be more than generous as payment for an escort. Art is another option. You have both a large amount of textiles of varying quality as well as the carpenter's tools.

"And salvage," it says, after a brief pause. "I want salvage rights."

Ah. That might complicate things a bit. Tethis wants the right to drain the blood out of anything he kills during the night. Now, that might not be such a bad thing, seeing as it's not really a cost to you. But it might make him quick to pick a fight if he gets to claim anything he kills, and that could complicate things if you run into someone on the road that you don't actually need to fight.

Pick one or two of the following, picking two will make the deal very easy
> Offer more of your own blood (Easy)
> Offer the chicken (Very Easy)
> Offer some of the textiles (Medium)
> Offer some of the carpenter's tools (Medium)
> Offer salvage rights (Easy)
> Write in
>>
>>2572213
> Offer more of your own blood (Easy)
> Offer the chicken (Very Easy)
It won't be a terribly significant amount of blood, yes?
>>
>>2572183
Circles equate to power, yes. A first circle demon has basically only its own physical abilities (though they might be quite formidable, like with Tethis). A third or fourth circle demon will have substantial magical power. An eighth circle demon is a creature of monstrous power, an incursion by one is almost always an event of widespread significance. Ninth circle demons are almost never seen in the mortal world, but when they are it's always for a specific purpose, and they're usually in and out before anyone even knew they were there.

>>2572189
You either have a mentor who puts you in touch with one, or you gamble with a general summon rather than a specific summon. General summons are considered very dangerous, since you don't know what you're going to get, and there's no shortage of demons who will manipulate you into burning down your whole life for them and then leaving you holding the bag.
>>
>>2572213
> Offer salvage rights (Easy)

I mean people could just say it was a vamp that did it.
Lol we should go for this then make a killing saleing antivamp gear
>>
>>2572213
>Offer more of your own blood (Easy)
>Offer salvage rights (Easy)
We could mention that if there's someone we don't want to fight, we could make up a sort of signal for that? A hand gesture perhaps.
>>
>>2572246
I mean, you could try to arrange something like that. Just remember >>2572036
> However he's a bit scatterbrained.

It'd be something to roll for when it happens.
>>
>>2572278
Well, I'm sure everything will turn out fine. What could possibly go wrong?
>>
Alright, winner seems to be your own blood and salvage rights.

Roll 5d10.
>>
Rolled 10, 6, 8, 6, 10 = 40 (5d10)

>>2572305
>>
>>2572307
Huh.
> 5 success = Critical Success
Now writing.
>>
>>2572236
Assuming there's a demon plane as there is a mortal one , what's it like?
>>
>>2572329
The demon plane is Hell. It's a very gossipy place.
>>
And for some reason I seem to have lost my name.

Also slight delays, the next post might take a little bit longer.
>>
>>2572337
Do the demons have ordinary demon lives and jobs like mortals?
>>
>>2572471
Bet Tethis stocks demon bread real good.
>>
"Ensouled blood now, salvage rights during the night, and additional blood at the end of the journey."

The last point frustrates Tethis slightly, but after a moment he relents. "Thchtchthchthcht. Very well."

"Also, I want you to agree to not fight someone we encounter if I make this sign." You gesture with a raised fist, followed by and open hand pointed to the side, and then a raised fist again.

"I will watch, and hold if I see it." It turns its head to the side and leans toward you, a beady blue eye starring straight into yours. "But I will have the promised blood."

"Yes," you say reassuringly. "You will."

Tethis pauses for a few seconds, practically an eternity for the constantly bouncing shrimp. "I am placing trust in you, Marcus. Yes, trust. I trust you will not disappoint."

You nod, and smear the summoning circle. Tethis immediately bounces out of it. In a flash he takes off running around the camp, up and down trees, darting in and out of view. He even briefly dashes off over a distant hill, before bolting right back to the camp, all in a matter of seconds. Your two horses, for their part, are a bit nervous at the sight, but they have seen and smelled stranger things in their time with you, and they mostly remain collected. The chicken you bought is less calm, bwuaking at the sight and fluttering against its cage.

Tethis finally scampers over to you and looks up expectantly. "We go now? Yes?"

You scratch Tethis behind the ridge of one of his neck plates, earning a sound like a rapid drumbeat. "Yes, let's go."

Packing away your ritual materials, you and Ibrahim get underway.

It is dusk as you approach the heart of Easterbrook and with it Agatha's shop. As the sun dips below the horizon and darkness settles across the landscape, Tethis slowly melts away into the night.

A little flash of blue light blinks quickly where his mouth was. "Still here," he chitters. "Still here."

You bring the wagon to a stop outside Agatha's shop, step down, and walk to the door. There is some light coming from the upper floors, though the downstairs seems to be dark. You try to open it, but are not surprised to find it locked. You knock on the door, and hear a voice from the upstairs say something indistinct.
>>
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A minute later, the door unlocks and opens. Hannah is standing in the doorway, dressed more heavily for travel, and with a look on her face that is equal parts nervousness and resolve.

"Hello Marcus," she says. "I'm-" She pauses, then steels herself. "I'm ready to go. Ready as I can be, anyway. If you could give me a minute, I'll just go say my goodbyes to my brother and grandma."

"Of course," you say with your best kind smile.

She ducks back into the shop and you hear more indistinct voices. Eventually she emerges again, this time with a young man next to her. You recognize him as the older boy who shooed away the young children earlier today, and he seems to be giving you an even harsher version of the glare he gave you then.

"You're Marcus?" he asks.

"Yes."

"I'm William." A pause, and then, "Hannah's my sister." Seeing him up close, you can more easily see the resemblance. His blond hair matches Hannah's, and you can see a bit of a resemblance around his eyes. All in all, he's young and a bit thin, making him not the most physically impressive looking boy you've ever seen. Still, he seems to be trying very hard to be as intimidating as his slight frame allows.

"Your older sister," Hannah says with a slight tinge of frustration. The look the two exchange makes it clear that William does not approve of Hannah's decision to go with you.

"My sister," he repeats firmly. He turns back toward you. "You'd better take good care of her, or else."

You carefully don't point out how meaningless that threat is, and instead try to sooth his concerns, however slightly. "She will be safe with me, you have my word on that."

He seems to accept that, or at least he accepts the fact that he can't get much more than that. He turns back toward Hannah and, after a moment, the two embrace one another in a tight hug. A few quiet words pass between them that you can't make out, but eventually they release each other. You and Ibrahim help Hannah up into the wagon. There isn't quite enough room for her up front with both you and Ibrahim, but there's a nice spot in the back for her to ride in.

The first few minutes pass in silence as the weight of what she's doing starts to sink in for Hannah. But as you're leaving Easterbrook behind, she half asks and half says, "I would have thought that traveling by night would be dangerous."

How much do you want to tell her?
> Lie. Lie all the way home.
> Half truth, tell her that you have someone to keep you safe from brigands. Let her think you're talking about Ibrahim.
> Three-quarters truth. Tell her that you've picked up some magic tricks in your time that will help. Use the pendant from Keboros as an example and let her think you're talking about items.
> Truth. Tell her that you have made a deal with a demon.
> Write in.
>>
>>2572532
> Half truth, tell her that you have someone to keep you safe from brigands. Let her think you're talking about Ibrahim.
>>
>>2572531
They can be pet. Huh. Huh...

>>2572532
>Three-quarters truth. Tell her that you've picked up some magic tricks in your time that will help. Use the pendant from Keboros as an example and let her think you're talking about items.

Let's just temper it with the frame that these sorts of things are much more common outside of these lands, which is true, and the reason we can't be so open about them here. On top of being valuable and ripe for thievery, they're rare. Since I fully expect problems, if we only indicate Ibrahim and problems get solved without him acting then our lie is caught.

Hopefully, that'll provide good enough ground for a delayed segue into what we're actually about, later.
>>
>>2572532
>>2572553
Supporting
>>
>>2572532
this is great so far op, excited for more!
>>
>>2572532
>>2572553
>>
>>2572532
4/5 Truth

Tell her everything but never use the word demon.
>>
>>2572553
+1
>They can be pet. Huh. Huh...
Demons?

The next time we shop, we should gather more intel like maps, merchant almanacs, and general town catalogs and requests.
>>
>>2572591
this

it all depends on if she already knows what demons are/has been warned by her church/priest/elder/community about them

it would be better just to start with magic and work up to 'summoning magic'
>>
>>2572597
He purred like a drum. That counts!

Also, definitely for the shopping at our next stop. Information is sort of what we need most right now. For instance, if there is a Grand Mission starting up again then we may want to avoid it, or find a way to take advantage of it. Maps and stuff to picture where we are and where we're going will be useful no matter what we wind up getting into.
>>
Alright, now writing for mostly true, but avoiding mentioning demons.
>>
>>2572532
>> Half truth, tell her that you have someone to keep you safe from brigands. Let her think you're talking about Ibrahim.
>>
>>2572613
Btw is the grand mission some kind of war?
>>
>>2572734
It seems like a crusades-type thing
>>
>>2572737
And what are those? I'm not a westerner so I'm not familiar
>>
>>2572749
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades
Religious wars.
>>
"Under normal circumstances, yes, it would be. Brigands and beasts and such can be quite dangerous for the average traveler," you say, motioning to the darkened land around you. As you put more distance between you and Easterbrook, the fields and farms that surround have gradually given way to shrubs and then eventually true forest. All of it is shrouded in darkness, with only a crescent moon and a lantern to light the path ahead.

Hannah is clearly trouble by that, looking out into the pitch black undergrowth with a little bit of fear showing through the brave face she has been trying to put on. You quickly add, "however, we are not the average traveler."

Now she looks more puzzled than afraid. "No?"

"No. You see, we have several people and things protecting us. For example," you say, point over to Ibrahim. "I once saw Ibrahim here beat four armed men with only a chair." You leave out the part where he did not simply beat them with the chair, but killed two of them with it and then drowned the other two. Hannah doesn't need to know about that just yet. You also didn't see all of it, as you were face down in the mud for most of that fight. Hannah never needs to know that.

"I do not boast," is all Ibrahim says in response, leaving Hannah to regard him with some amazement.

"Aside from that, I've picked up a few tricks and trinkets in my time." You reach under the collar of your shirt and fish out the pendant from its hiding place. "Like this."

"What is that?" Hannah leans over to get a better look at the silver pendant, glinting faintly as in sways back and forth in the lantern-light. "A pendant?"

"It vibrates when someone nearby has murderous intent." You remove it and offer it to Hannah to hold. "Very useful for warning us of bandits and such, so that we can avoid them."

She takes it slowly and looks at the tiny, teardrop shaped lump of metal. "Amazing, I've never heard of something like that. Is it some sort of magic? How did you get it?"

"A weak sort of magic, yes," you admit, trying your best to make it sound like nothing particularly out of the ordinary. "I bought it from an old, silver-haired man in Dontero." Technically true. You bought it from Keboro, and you were in Dontero at the time. You're not entirely sure if the demon even has hair at all, but if he did, it would almost certainly be as silvery as the rest of him. "Supposedly he made it himself, but you can never be completely sure about these things." Well, she can't be sure about that. You can, however, since you saw him make it with your own eyes. "They're apparently much more common in the west. It's helped keep me safe for some time now."
>>
After looking at it for a minute, Hannah hands the pendant back to you and you slip it back around your neck.

"And lastly, I have found that some of the beasts in these parts can be, how shall we say, bought off."

"Bought off? As in bribed?"

"More like distracted. Offering up things like that chicken over there to a hungry beast can help you get to safety, if only because they're more interested in the chicken than you. It's one of the reasons why I buy them."

All of your explanations seems to have calmed Hannah's nerves a bit. After another few minutes, you notice that she seems to be getting a bit tired. Understandable, back in Easterbrook she probably didn't have much reason to be awake this long into the night. You rummage around in the part of the wagon that you can reach and manage to fish out a blanket and something that might have been a cushion in a past life.

"In any case, you might want to try to get some rest," you say, offering them to Hannah. "The view's generally not much to look at during the night, and it's a few days journey to..."

Where are you going, anyway?
> To the city of Geldor, a prosperous trading hub on the Palar River. If you're looking for excitement, fast living, and fantastic sights, this is the place to go. Unfortunately for you, there are also going to be plenty of people keeping an eye out for heretics like you.
> To the town of Adensfal. It's a coastal town that sees plenty of merchant traffic on top of its bountiful fishing industry. Information from all of the world is easier to come by here, and some of it might even be true.
> To the foothills of the Salverg Mountains. There are a collection of mining towns there where you could offload your textiles at a large profit. It's a bit out of the way so it should give you a nice, quiet place to start bring Hannah around to your way of thinking.
> To the Kelta Lowlands. Not a whole lot in the lowlands themselves, but it is along the way to the city of Varena. If there really is a Grand Mission massing there, then there will also be plenty of opportunities for you. Plenty of danger too, but that's the life of a heretic.
>>
>>2572776
>> To the foothills of the Salverg Mountains. There are a collection of mining towns there where you could offload your textiles at a large profit. It's a bit out of the way so it should give you a nice, quiet place to start bring Hannah around to your way of thinking.
>>
>>2572776
>> To the foothills of the Salverg Mountains. There are a collection of mining towns there where you could offload your textiles at a large profit. It's a bit out of the way so it should give you a nice, quiet place to start bring Hannah around to your way of thinking.
I would go with
> To the town of Adensfal. It's a coastal town that sees plenty of merchant traffic on top of its bountiful fishing industry. Information from all of the world is easier to come by here, and some of it might even be true.
for the intel, but loyalty is more important than intel. Especially if losing that means outing you're a heretic.
>>
>>2572778
>>2572776
Seconding.
>>
>>2572776
>To the foothills of the Salverg Mountains. There are a collection of mining towns there where you could offload your textiles at a large profit. It's a bit out of the way so it should give you a nice, quiet place to start bring Hannah around to your way of thinking.
>>
>>2572776
To the foothills!
>>
Salverg seems to be the clear winner.

Roll 1d10. For no particular reason.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d10)

>>2572813
>>
>>2572813
Random events here we go
>>
Rolled 2 (1d10)

>>2572813
>Roll 1d10. For no particular reason.
>>2572815
>concern
>>
>>2572817
I wouldn't be terribly concerned given the fat ton of extra allied dice you'll be getting.

Roll 9d10
>>
Rolled 9, 10, 3, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 6 = 55 (9d10)

>>2572818
Who's contributing what to the dice?
>>
>>2572819
Your base five plus two from Ibrahim and three from Tethis.
> 5 success = Critical Success
Writing.
>>
>>2572823
Excuse me, that should be one from Ibrahim.
I cannot into maths.
>>
>>2572608
>He purred like a drum. That counts!
Heh. It must be moments like this that brought Marcus over to heresy.
>>2572608
>Also, definitely for the shopping at our next stop. Information is sort of what we need most right now. For instance, if there is a Grand Mission starting up again then we may want to avoid it, or find a way to take advantage of it. Maps and stuff to picture where we are and where we're going will be useful no matter what we wind up getting into.
>>2572776
>> To the Kelta Lowlands. Not a whole lot in the lowlands themselves, but it is along the way to the city of Varena. If there really is a Grand Mission massing there, then there will also be plenty of opportunities for you. Plenty of danger too, but that's the life of a heretic.
It occurred to me if there's a Grand Mission then most of the zealots that would be policing against heresy or converting more faithfuls would be out in the war. Making it easier for us to slip by, and find vulnerable targets from those disillusioned by the war.
>>
The Hannah seems to have a little trouble at first due to the bumps and jostling of the wagon, she does eventually doze off. About an hour later you're planning on doing the same. You're about to tell Ibrahim to wake you when he wants to get some sleep, but he holds his hand up to stop you. He also brings the wagon slowly to a stop, and though that causes Hannah to stir slightly in her sleep, she thankfully doesn't wake.

After listening for a few long seconds, Ibrahim whispers to you. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"That raspy gasping sound."

You try to pick out anything in the night, but all you hear are insects, the occasional bird, and the wind in the trees. "No," you finally whisper back. "What was it?"

"That was the sound of a man being stabbed in the back. Repeatedly."

"Where did it come from?"

Ibrahim points off into the darkness to the left of the road. The terrain slopes up somewhat in that direction, but the trees and brush are dense enough here that it's difficult to tell by how much in the dark. "Over there, I think."

You wave in that direction. After a few seconds, a blue light out among the trees blinks back at you. It seems that Tethis found something.

"I'm going to go take a look," you say, climbing down from the cart. "Stay and watch Hannah."

Ibrahim seems to consider objecting, but ultimately decides against it.

You take the second lantern and after a minute of struggling with the old thing manage to light it. You start off through the undergrowth and immediately regret it. It's cold, wet, muddy, and tiny branches and twigs are constantly scratching at you. But it's too late now, so you power on up the hillside toward where you saw the light. It's not long before you break through into what looks like a small bowl in the side of the hill. You spy over at the far end a large flap made out of some heavy fabric. It's blocking almost all of a cave entrance, with just a tiny bit of light peaking out from around the edges.

Just outside of the flap is a corpse. You look around the clearing and spy the legs of another poking out of the brush. Walking up to the one outside the entrance, you bend over to examine it and see the body is very freshly dead, blood still oozing from numerous open wounds. The body is, or more accurately was, clad in gambeson. It's been shredded horribly, but you manage to locate the place where the mercenaries from earlier had their emblem, only to find nothing there. It seems these were just regular bandits, not that there's much difference in the end.
>>
Rising to your feet, you push aside the flag and immediately regret that too. It's a small cave, more of a nook really, and the interior has been splattered with gore. Tethis is there are well, his mouth latched on to one of the two corpses inside the cave, greedily draining the body of blood.

The demon manages to pry it jaws from the body just long enough to chitter "Mine. My salvage. Get your own."

You sigh. It seems that Tethis has some food guarding issues.

You go over each of the bodies as Tethis finishes sucking them dry of blood. Their gambeson is all completely ruined, torn and stabbed full of countless holes and covered in filth. Their helmets, boots, and gloves all seem to be in decent shape, however. For bandits anyway. Among them they seem to have a sword, a pair of axes, a halberd, a half dozen knives, four bucklers, and a pair of shortbows plus arrows. Unfortunately they didn't seem to have anywhere near as much coin as they had weaponry. You only find 10 silver pieces between all of them.

They had some supplies as well, and after a few trips back and forth between the camp and the wagon, you've loaded all of it and are underway again.
>>
>>2572933
Let's loot them and let tethris have his drink.
Can we gather some of their blood too for future demon deals.
>>
Alright, I'm starting to run out of steam for the night, and the typos seem to be telling me it's time to rest. I'll be back again tomorrow at the same time as before (5 pm EST, 2 pm PST) and resume with the trip to Salverg.

Until then, if anyone has any comments I'd love to hear them, and I'll try to answer any questions before I crash.
>>
>>2572941
Okay, see you then. Thanks for the session.
>>
>>2572941

Does Marcus know of any magic besides demonology? Moreover, do any of the demons he knows know of any demons who might ne willing to teach him for a price? How valuable is a stereotypical human sacrifice, summoning-wise? Does the sacrifice's virginity of lack thereof have an impact on its value? Is reverse-summoning, i.e., traveling to the demon realm via ritual circle possible?
>>
>>2572941
its still to early to tell, but so far so good keep it up
>>
>>2572941
Could tethis harm us?
Is there a way to bind a demon to your will outside of a circle?
How important is the wording of agreements, and can you make a demon do things they don't want to?
>>
>>2572949
> Does Marcus know of any magic besides demonology?
No.
> Moreover, do any of the demons he knows know of any demons who might ne willing to teach him for a price?
Not really. There are several forms of magic that Marcus knows of. Demonology is one of them. Magic from the many small gods is another, generally referred to as exaltation. It's basically the flip side of demonology. While demonology is decentralized and individual, exaltation is centralized and communal. Both are banned in Torien by the Ephesian church. There's also sorcery, which taps directly into the power of the ether with no middlemen like demons or gods, but its hard as balls. As in, it takes can take decades to get what a demonologist can get with a handful of deals or an exalted can get simply because their god picks them. It's generally only used heavily among the elves, whose long life span gives them an advantage in that regard. There is also necromancy, which is banned by basically everyone because it burns souls for fuel. The Ephesian church itself has a ritual that creates Ephesian Saints, which are powerful mages that seem to conform to none of those categories, but they are few in number. Marcus doesn't know much about the specifics of the ritual, other than that it apparently requires something that the Ephesians call Black Wax.

That said, there is more to demonology than simply summoning demons and crafting items. More powerful demons can set up long term contracts where in you make regular sacrifices to them and they give you a specific set of spells that you can cast, determined by their own powers. The services of such demons are in very high demand outside of Torien though, and many won't talk to people in Torien because they don't see much profit in it (believing that demonologists in Torien aren't going to live long anyway, which is often true). Marcus would need to prove that he's worth such a demon's time, and that will itself require working his way up and building his rep in Hell.

> How valuable is a stereotypical human sacrifice, summoning-wise?
Blood sacrifices are boosted in power by being ensouled blood, or last blood, or both. Ensouled blood is the blood of a being with a soul, like a humanoid, sharfolk, merfolk, etc. Last blood is if the sacrifice is fatal. Ensouled last blood (bleeding out someone like a human until they die) is pint for pint the most valuable blood sacrifice you can make. That said, it's not leagues better than a lower animal's last blood. But some people still do it, which gives demonology a bad rap in some places.

> Does the sacrifice's virginity of lack thereof have an impact on its value?
Virginity doesn't matter for the purposes of a blood sacrifice.

> Is reverse-summoning, i.e., traveling to the demon realm via ritual circle possible?
It's been done. Not a lot, but it has happened. A handful of people have even survived the process. Marcus, however, has no clue how to do it.
>>
>>2572976
> Could tethis harm us?
Yes. He doesn't because he is the bestest boy yes he is.

> Is there a way to bind a demon to your will outside of a circle?
Only with their true name, and even then sealing a deal with a demon's true name mainly just makes it honestly want to carry out the spirit of the deal. It doesn't actually bind them to a summoner's will.

> How important is the wording of agreements, and can you make a demon do things they don't want to?
Important, but not as much as the demon actually liking you and wanting repeat business. Thing is, demons can cheat, and a lot of them do if given the opportunity. This is one of the reasons why people shy away from general summons. You want to deal with a demon that has demonstrated some trustworthiness.

As for making a demon do something it doesn't want to, no, not really. Demons do what demons wanna do. That's one of the reasons the Ephesian church bans dealing with them. Demonology is dangerous, even demonologists will admit to that. The only people who deny it are ignorant, crazy, lying, or some combination of the three.
>>
>>2572997
Do deamons have some kind of compulsions we could take advantage of? Clearly they have some preferences, but compulsions?

Also, do lower circle daemons serve the higher ones? Do we know something of the ninth circle?
>>
>>2572987
>>2572949
Sorry, my brain stopped working and I completely missed the "of" in your first question. The answer to this
> Does Marcus know of any magic besides demonology?
Should be yes, as mentioned in the answer to the second question. Marcus knows about all the stuff in those big blocks of text.
>>
>>2573010
> Do deamons have some kind of compulsions we could take advantage of?
They have several compulsions that Marcus is aware of, but trying to take advantage of some of them might be tricky.

Well, one of them is easy to exploit. All demons have a compulsion to try to ascend through the ranks to the ninth circle, and they do this by making deals with mortals to get sacrifices to fuel their increase in power. That's why demons are willing to work with mortals at all.

The others are a bit trickier. The other main one that is widely known is that all demons are compelled to try to prevent the destruction of the world. Now, like most of their compulsions that is buried under layers of rationalizations (in this case "the world is where I get my sacrifices from" is a common one). It can make identifying compulsions difficult, the demon itself might not even know about it since whatever it is might seem to make logical sense on its own.

The root of these compulsions is in the fact that demons aren't exactly independent creatures. They're technically all fragments of Hell Itself, sometimes called "the Many Arms of Hell." Now, there is no one mind that represents Hell Itself, but the combination of all the underlying compulsions present in all demons does hint at the desires of Hell Itself.

> Also, do lower circle daemons serve the higher ones?
No one really serves in Hell, not for long anyway. Lower circle demons try to avoid bothering higher circle ones, but even then it's not really a master/servant setup. Because demons are both extremely resilient and constantly changing, it's sometimes hard for even other demons to force a demon to do something it doesn't want to do.

> Do we know something of the ninth circle?
A bit. They are extremely powerful, bizarrely quiet, and they all act with a singular purpose. Most other demons think that the ninth circle have become completely enslaved to the underlying compulsions of Hell Itself, and they consider becoming a ninth circle demon something close to true death. From what the lower circles have pieced together and passed on to mortals, most demonologists think that rising in circle rank somehow brings the demon "closer" to Hell Itself, along with its compulsions, and the ninth circle is the point where they are completely lost.

What terrifies a lot of demons is that even if they know all that, they can't actually stop themselves from trying to become one of the ninth circle anyway. One of the really dangerous things about eighth circle demons is that they're constantly hatching insanely convoluted plans to try to outsmart themselves, beat the compulsion, and bust themselves down to a lower circle in order to avoid losing themselves as a part of the ninth circle.
>>
>>2573055
>What terrifies a lot of demons is that even if they know all that, they can't actually stop themselves from trying to become one of the ninth circle anyway. One of the really dangerous things about eighth circle demons is that they're constantly hatching insanely convoluted plans to try to outsmart themselves, beat the compulsion, and bust themselves down to a lower circle in order to avoid losing themselves as a part of the ninth circle.
wot
>>
>>2573057
They're walking toward the light, but if they reach it, they will die. They don't want to die, but they can't stop their legs from carrying them toward the light. So they do crazy things to try to move back the way they came even as their legs carry them forward, and they can sometimes end up hurting a lot of people in the process.
>>
>>2573055
Is it the same for gods? do they become closer to their realm by ascending in power? would a powerful sorcerer be able to temporarily break the compulsion of an 8th circle in exchange for its service?
>>
>>2573073
>>2573073
> Is it the same for gods? do they become closer to their realm by ascending in power?
While the small gods do have one compulsion in common (preventing the destruction of the world), otherwise they are very different from demons. Unlike demons the small gods are each a distinct, static, and often times stubbornly unchanging individual. As such they tend to meet violent ends. The world (I should probably mention that it is named Oresa, since apparently I haven't done that yet) went through a massive war about 400 years back in which most of the small gods died. Their fixed and stubborn nature led to a long chain of obligations and alliances spiraling out of control until the whole world was at war. That's one of the reasons the Ephesian church became so powerful, they stepped in to fill the void after the dust settled, and their message rejecting the small gods as false was certainly appealing after the war.

But a lot of time has passed since then and the small gods have replaced most of their losses. They've also hammered out a treaty among themselves to prevent a repeat of the last war. The balance of power is shifting again and the Ephesian church is growing desperate. The small gods have finally managed to change at least a little bit. In part thanks to the influx of new blood, but also partially due to the realization that they came dangerously close to failing at their one and only job. Now they've learned from their mistakes and are staging a comeback.

> would a powerful sorcerer be able to temporarily break the compulsion of an 8th circle in exchange for its service?
Potentially, there isn't a whole lot that a powerful sorcerer can't do. Of course, killing such sorcerers is one of the things that the ninth circle is compelled to do, because such sorcerers also represent an enormous threat to the survival of the world.

The elves, who brought sorcery to the world, came to Oresa in the first place because they blew up their own world with reckless sorcery. Exactly which group of elves is to blame is a matter of some debate, but every group claims it wasn't them.
>>
>>2573091
At what point does a sorcerer become powerful enough to warrant an archdemon coming after them? do they have to mess with stuff they arent supposed to first? How do gods rank compared to demons in power?
>>
>>2573091

Thanks for the quest so far man, looking forward to seeing more of it.

you mentioned earlier that necromancy uses souls as fuel, assuming souls are actually real in the setting, are demons here in the soul-torturing business and gods on the soul rewarding business or those souls don't go to their realms?
>>
>>2573094
> At what point does a sorcerer become powerful enough to warrant an archdemon coming after them? do they have to mess with stuff they arent supposed to first?
The only people who know that for certain are the ninth circle, and they're not a talkative bunch. Generally they just show up, either kill someone or wreck something, and then leave. They are the only form of demon that doesn't need to be summoned, and can simply appear in the mortal world unbidden.

> How do gods rank compared to demons in power?
Back when the small gods still walked the surface of Oresa (they don't anymore, that treaty I mentions strictly prohibits it), a single small god was superior to a single ninth circle demon. Problem was that ninth circle demons are a perfectly coordinated team, not individuals. Operating as a group, the ninth circle were superior.

These days the small gods work solely through intermediaries, namely a small number of angels (also restricted by treaty) and their exalted, mortals empowered with magic from the small gods (the amount they can put in a single mortal is also restricted by treaty). Angels vary in power, but are usually somewhere around 5th or 6th circle in power. Exalted are magically powerful, but fundamentally they're still squishy mortals. In a direct magical matchup, they might be able to equal a 4th circle demon, but if they got blindsided then even a 1st circle demon like Tethis could kill one.

>>2573095
The Ephesian church teaches that demons torture evil souls in Hell while good souls join God (Solace) in Heaven after death. The demons firmly deny being in the soul-torturing business. The small gods claim that they live in Heaven and that Solace isn't there. Also they say they're not involved in the soul rewarding business and moreover that no one is. According to them souls either cross beyond the veil if they attain enlightenment or reincarnate if not. The demons say that the small gods are full of shit and the small gods are really eating the souls of their followers through prayer.

The elves say that everyone else is wrong and that souls dissipate back into the ether upon death. The Habori Empire says that the elves are idiots because how else do you explain the immense number of people with damaged souls born in the Kingdom of Alarish after their extensive use of necromancy over the generations if you deny the idea of souls reincarnating you prancing twigs. The dwarves of the Dvergan Empire say that the elves and Habori are obviously both wrong because non-dwarves are incapable of arriving at correct answers, therefore something else must happen to souls other than reincarnation or dissipation.

In short, it's a big mess.
>>
>>2573115
>in short, it's a big mess

Love it!
>>
>>2573115
This is cool.
>>
>>2573115
Nice like the lore and how you kinda swaped a few things from the gods and demons that people would most commonly see each side doing
>>
>>2573115
haha love the last paragraph
>>
>>2573115
If people are born with damaged souls locally where necromancy is used extensively that would more likely be an indication that the area itself has been tainted by necromantic energy that harms souls as they enter bodies
>>
>>2573219
you're full of shit

t.dwarf
>>
>>2573115
Super, super into the lore, Like, obsessed with lore in general, but I'm kind of invested in the quest now and want to see where this goessss...

So we raided some bandits. Does Tethis have any insight into how they died, being a hunter demon and all?
>>
>>2574096
Tethis knows damn well how they died, since he murdered the shit out of them.
>>
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After three days of travel, you arrive in the town of San Laurent, one of a dozen towns in the shadow of the Salverg mountains. The woods encroach more aggressively here than down in Easterbrook, and the rugged hills have kept the town packed together in a narrow slot along a large stream. Buildings of hard stone match the harder people here, but you're confident that they'll be interested in the softer wares you have to sell. They're only human, after all.

Hannah is taking a turn riding up front with you while you steer, and she's doing a poor job hiding how fascinated she is with all the new sights. After the fourth time someone catches her staring and she looks away embarrassed, you say "you know, we'll be here for at least a few days, maybe more than a week. You'll have plenty of time to see the sights and meet some of the people."

"I know, it's just-" She pauses and looks over your shoulder at one of the local blacksmith shops, which at a glance looks much more impressive than anything in Easterbrook. The demands of the nearby mines and quarries must be substantial to support not just one establishment but several.

"I've just never seen a town like this. With the forest all around and yet so much happening here."

If she thinks this place is busy, you wonder how she would handle a true city. It's not completely quiet, sure, but it's still just a town. But you suppose everyone has to start somewhere.

"Well, with any luck we'll be adding a little bit more to that. We'll need to speak with the local authorities, the mayor, town elders, or their equivalent, to see where we can set up shop."

Asking a few of the townsfolk gets you directions to a meeting hall off the main market square. Out front of the building is a group of people. One of them is a middle-aged man who is likely a local, and he appears to be in the middle of an argument with a much better dressed man. Standing next to the well dressed man, but staying out of the argument, are two more men, one a scribe or assistant of some sort, the other clearly a bodyguard by his size and armament.

"I don't care," says the well-dressed man. "I paid good money for that property and I expect to get what I paid for! Now do your damn job and sign the damn paper!"

"Look," replies the local replies exasperated. "I'm sorry if no one told you, but there's no way we're going to help. It's just too dangerous." He points off to the west, to somewhere much further upstream. "There are things up there that-"

"I don't care! Just clear the road up there! You've got plenty of men on hand, send some of them!"

"They all know what happens to people who go near that place, trust me, you'll not find a man in this town willing to work up there for the kind of money your offering."

> Wait until the argument is done, then approach
> Watch from a safe distance, attempt to eavesdrop
> Approach and intervene diplomatically (bring Hannah)
> Approach and intervene diplomatically (don't bring Hannah)
> Write in
>>
>>2574158
oh. I thought they'd started killing eachother and he'd rolled in and finished the job.

disregard me.
>>
>>2572997
>Yes. He doesn't because he is the bestest boy yes he is.
Is that Marcus's thoughts or QM? He sounds like a hellhound.
>>2574158
Thanks Tethis. How did he know whether it was okay to kill them?

>>2573091
>Potentially, there isn't a whole lot that a powerful sorcerer can't do. Of course, killing such sorcerers is one of the things that the ninth circle is compelled to do, because such sorcerers also represent an enormous threat to the survival of the world.
Is it possible for a demon to enslave oneself or sign a contract to prevent them from entering the 9th circle? Much like how victims of lycanthropy chain themselves before they turn to avoid harming others?
>>2573062
How do they drop themselves back to the 7th circle?
>>
>>2574160
"I happen to be an expert in things up rivers that people won't deal with for small amounts of money. Marcus is the name, and demons selling fine armaments is my game. How might I be of assistance?"
>>
>>2574167
Same, or it was a 3rd party that did so.

>>2574160
>> Approach and intervene diplomatically (bring Hannah)
Just a friendly traveling merchant offering his services. Look at how noble we are. Hannah, take notes.
>>2574185
+1
We could also loan our bodyguards.
>>
>>2574160
>> Watch from a safe distance, attempt to eavesdrop
>>
>>2574160
> Watch from a safe distance, attempt to eavesdrop
>>
>>2574160
>> Watch from a safe distance, attempt to eavesdrop
>>
>>2574160
>Watch from a safe distance, attempt to eavesdrop
>>
Watching and eavesdropping seems to be the winner, now writing.
>>
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Hannah peers over at the argument. "What's going on over there?"

"I don't know," you reply, "but I'd like to. Let's wait and listen for now."

"If you're not willing to do your job-" begins the well-dressed man.

The local seems to lose his patience at that. "My job," he interjects, "is to look out for the people of San Laurent. That means not sending them up there to die just because some spoiled lowlands brat didn't bother to investigate the property he was buying!"

The well-dressed man bristles at that. "Watch your tongue with me you little hill troll, or this town will need to find a new mayor."

The lowlander's bodyguard takes that as his cue to step toward the mayor and loom over him menacingly. The mayor, for his part, does a decent job standing his ground against the much larger man.

"And that new mayor," the smaller man says, "will tell you the same thing that I told you. You can wave around that money and that paper, but it won't convince anyone here to die for your mistake."

"Why? Because they're too afraid of a few ghost stories to just clear a few trees?"

"They're not stories. The people who go near that manor? They don't come back. Call it haunted, call it cursed, call it whatever you like. It's not worth it." He motions around the town with his hands. "You think people here avoid it because they scare easily? These are miners we're talking about. This is already hard, dangerous work. But there are risks and then there's that place." The mayor glares at the well-dressed man. "Don't believe me? Go up there yourself."

The well-dressed man scowls, then turns and nods to his bodyguard. The burly man punches the mayor hard in the gut. The smaller man doubles over, dropping to his knees coughing.

"I'll give you a few days to reconsider. Good day sir," the well-dressed man says with disdain.

He then turns and starts walking down toward the main market, his two lackeys in tow. After they leave, you and Hannah hurry over to the mayor and start helping him to his feet.

"Here, let me help," you say.

Hannah gets on the other side of the mayor and helps to steady him. "Are you alright?"

"Fine, I'm fine," he replies, then winces. "Except for my pride, maybe." He takes a moment to recover, then looks you and Hannah over. When he doesn't recognize you he asks "Who might you two be?"

"My name is Marcus, and this is my assistant, Hannah. We're traveling merchants." The last bit causes Hannah to blush slightly, but the mayor doesn't seem to notice.

Pick two.
> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
> Ask who the well-dressed man was.
> Ask what is going on with the manor upstream from the town.
> Ask about the town of San Laurent.
> Ask about broader news for the foothills, maybe acquire some maps, almanacs, catalogs, and the like.
> Write in.
>>
>>2574430
>> Ask who the well-dressed man was.
>> Ask what is going on with the manor upstream from the town.

Buy rumors, sell news.

...I think that's the saying.
>>
>>2574430
> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
> Ask who the well-dressed man was.
>>
>>2574430
> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
> Ask who th> Ask what is going on with the manor upstream from the town.
> Ask about the town of San Laurent.
> Ask about broader news for the foothills, maybe acquire some maps, almanacs, catalogs, and the like.e well-dressed man was.

Everything! Also how do we feel about human sacrifice?
>>
>>2574509
>Everything! Also how do we feel about human sacrifice?
>>2574430
>Pick two.
>>
>>2574535
But why though? Are we pressed for time? Is something going to interrupt the conversation?
>>
>>2574430
>> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
The main reason why a trader would be here.
>> Ask what is going on with the manor upstream from the town.
and maybe a new opportunity to earn money if we can help with the problem in a more cost-effective manner than the local populace.
>>
>>2574550
I imagine it's a combination of that and so we don't go for >all the options all the time.
>>
>>2574554
Well, if I had to pick only 2

> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
> Ask about broader news for the foothills, maybe acquire some maps, almanacs, catalogs, and the like.
>>
>>2574430
>> Ask for permission to set up shop in town.
> Ask about broader news for the foothills, maybe acquire some maps, almanacs, catalogs, and the like.
>>
>>2574550
The mayor also has stuff to do. He can talk to you, but not forever. He'll hear you out on some things and answer some questions about other things, but eventually there's going to be another person coming to see him and you're just some random dude to him, so you don't really get to monopolize his time.

There are other people in town you can ask other questions to, but this is your chance to ask things that you need to get from the mayor specifically. Or you can come back and see him again tomorrow, he'll probably have a little time to talk again.
>>
>>2574553
+1
>>2574160
>"Well, with any luck we'll be adding a little bit more to that. We'll need to speak with the local authorities, the mayor, town elders, or their equivalent, to see where we can set up shop."
So there's still another person to obtain permission from?

>>2574571
Would taking the quest hook earn us favor from him?
>>
>>2574593
> So there's still another person to obtain permission from?
No, just the mayor, Marcus was just listing the things that the people in charge might be called.
> Would taking the quest hook earn us favor from him?
I mean, if you solved the issue somehow or got the lowlander guy to go away or something like that, then sure, he'd be a lot happier.

Anyway, now writing for permission and manor.
>>
"Another merchant huh," the mayor says, coughing slightly and straightening himself out. "I don't suppose you're going to have your little lady here punch me too?" He chuckles, then coughs again.

"No, mister mayor," you say.

The mayor shakes his head and holds up a hand. "Just call me Tobias, no need for any of that mister stuff," he says with a smile. "Anyway, how can I help you Marcus?"

"Well, as I said, we're traveling merchants. We just arrived in town today and we were looking to buy and sell some wares here. We thought it would be best to ask permission from whoever was in charge here first though." Your repeated use of the word 'we' makes Hannah smile sheepishly and fiddle with her hair a bit, though she seems to be getting a bit more comfortable with the idea.

"That's mighty considerate of you," Tobias says. "A lot of other folks seem to think they can just barge in here and order us around." He frowns at that, looking in the direction the well-dressed man walked off. Then he turns his gaze back to you. "What wares were you planning on selling?"

"I have good quality textiles from Easterbrook. Clothes, sheets, decorations and the like. Plus some knick-knacks I've picked up along the way." Probably best to explain away the equipment from the bandits that way. No need to tell Tobias exactly what they were or how you got them.

Tobias thinks for a moment, stroking his beard, and then nods. "I'm sure some of the people here would appreciate that. There's a clearing just a bit to the northeast of the market, just up the road past Galen's tavern. It's not the most central place in town, but enough people will see it that it should work. Word will spread pretty quickly that there's someone new in town. Miners like to drink and chat after a hard day's work, and their wives will gossip at even a hint of something new."

"Thank you Tobias. Also, I couldn't help but overhear something about a cursed manor."

"Ah, that. Since you're new here, I should probably warn you about that. A ways upstream to the west, there's an old manor from the Fallen Age."

That takes you by surprise. The Fallen Age, what the Ephesians call the Age of Miracles, was more than 400 years ago, and the Great War destroyed most things from that time. If it could survive the war and then remain standing after being unattended for that long, there might be something special about it.
>>
"It's been empty for centuries now," Tobias continues, "but the old thing stayed in surprisingly good shape that whole time. Scavengers picked it clean long ago, but about twenty years back people started hearing strange things from up there during the night. Some men went up there to investigate and disappeared."

Huh, so the problem is a much more recent development. "You think something there killed them?"

"I don't know," Tobias replies with a shrug. "None of us do. Another group went up to try to find the first, and most of them just vanished too. The only one of them who came back said that he hadn't gotten near the old manor, but that all the rest who were ahead of him were just there one moment and gone the next. A few people have tried to go up there since then, but no one who got anywhere near that place returned. We still sometimes here grinding sounds from up there, like someone scraping stone on stone."

At that point, the two of you hear a shout coming from the direction of the market. "Tobias!"

You both turn, and see a large man with red hair jogging slowly toward you. "Eric!" Tobias shouts back. As he arrives next to the three of you, Tobias continues. "Is something the matter?"

"Yes, you remember how I told you a few days back that old man Henry took two of my hens?"

Tobias lets out a weary sigh. "Yes. Yes, Eric, I remember that."

"Well just today I saw him with those same hens! When I confronted him, he had the gall to claim they were his!"

Tobias turns toward you and whispers "I think you might want to go, this is going to be a pain."

"Right, thanks again Tobias."

"You're welcome, Marcus," he says, smiling and waving as you depart. "Best of luck with your venture."

Walking back to the wagon, it's not long before Hannah excitedly says "Oh wow, a real life cursed manor!"

> Encourage Hannah's interest
> Caution Hannah
> Write in

Also pick something to do
> Start setting up shop
> Investigate the tavern. In vino veritas, loosened tongues might be willing to tell you more about what's going on here.
> Investigate the local market, you may be able to find some maps, catalogs, almanacs, etc.
> Investigate the local shops, you may be able to find a buyer for some of the wares you've brought with you.
> Investigate the manor, because what's the worst that could happen?
> Write in
>>
>>2574974
>Encourage Hannah's interest

>Investigate the tavern. In vino veritas, loosened tongues might be willing to tell you more about what's going on here.
>Investigate the local market, you may be able to find some maps, catalogs, almanacs, etc.
>>
>>2574974
>Encourage Hannah's interest

>investigate the manor
or
>investigate the local market
>>
>>2574974
>> Encourage Hannah's interest
Embrace the adventure.

>Also pick something to do
Is there a limit?
>>
>>2574158
Did Hannah notice the sudden increase in stuff?
>>
>>2574974
>Caution Hannah
>Start setting up shop
>>
>>2574974
>> Encourage Hannah's interest
An excellent way to give her a reason to start wondering about the supernatural world. Hell, if we somehow 'help' people while doing it, she might think more about becoming an apprentice.

>> Investigate the local market, you may be able to find some maps, catalogs, almanacs, etc.
The tavern would open later, so better to visit the market or shops while they're still open during the day. Knowing more about the land would help in making a fast getaway if the worst happens.
>>
>>2574998
One please. For the sake of my mental health.

>>2575000
Thankfully no, it wasn't really that much by volume, especially buried under all the other stuff you have. Plus she never really got a good look at what was in the cart at the start of the trip. It was night, after all.
>>
>>2574974
>Encourage hannah's interest
>Investigate the local shops

We'll need money before we can start buying
>>
>>2575012
>One please. For the sake of my mental health.
I thought you were a demonologist?

>>2574974
>> Investigate the local shops, you may be able to find a buyer for some of the wares you've brought with you.
>> Start setting up shop
What's the difference?
>>
>>2575057
You're going to need to set up at some point. Unpacking stuff will take time. Setting up is also more of a general move that leaves your options open while investigating the shops focuses on finding a buyer to sell stuff to faster. You know, just in case you need to get out of town quickly. Going to the market is the opposite, you're looking mainly to buy there. Going to the tavern is the general info and rumormongering pick.
>>
>>2575012
>>2574974
In that case, I'll switch to just
>Investigate the local market
For now.
>>
>>2575090
If it's a general move then going for a plan seems better.
>>2575040
+1, need that dosh. What's our wallet?
>>
>>2575100
You currently have 17 silver.
>>
Seems like encourage and market are the winners. Now writing.
>>
You chuckle at Hannah's enthusiasm as you climb back onto the wagon and start down toward the market. "And one from the Fallen Age, no less. When armies of demons battled false gods in the open," you say in a dramatic tone. "When magic could grow a forest like this in a matter of days," you say, leaning over close to Hannah and motioning out toward the woods surrounding San Laurent. "When mighty heroes and terrible villains struggled with one another for the souls of all mankind." You chuckle again and shrug. "I'll admit, it's an exciting thought."

Hannah smiles wryly at your theatrics. "Is finding this sort of thing normal for you?"

"Well, I don't find a ruin from the Fallen Age in every stop, if that's what you're asking. But do I find something new and interesting?" You nod. "Certainly more often than not." You turn to Hannah and give her a smile. "There's still plenty of magic left in this world, if you're willing to go looking for it."

The look of delight on Hannah's face when you say that is a radiant sight. It causes your heart to tighten a bit, reminding you of everything you're keeping from her. Would she be so delighted if she knew who, and what, she was really dealing with?

"But for now," you say as you bring the wagon to a stop in market, "I think we should look for some local resources. Maps, catalogs, almanacs, and the like. The market should be a good place to start, and that will help us figure out what will be cheap here and now but sell well elsewhere and in the future."

Hannah nods, and the two of you fan out through the market, Ibrahim staying to watch the horses and wagon.

The map turns out to be the easiest to find. With all the mining going on here, the local area has seen a lot of surveying. As expected the terrain is rough, and the map you acquired has two sections marked out as hazardous. One to the west along the stream, apparently called Boden's Creek, is presumably the Fallen Age manor that Tobias mentioned. The other is quite a distance to the southwest and is marked 'Elves' along with a comically inaccurate depiction of what the mapmaker apparently thought elves looked like.

Strange, you don't recall hearing about elves in these parts. What would they be doing this deep in Torien? And for long enough that it made it onto a map? Perhaps it's simply outdated information. Maybe elves were sighted there once decades ago, and the idea that there are elves there has just stuck around in the local memory? It might be worth investigating in the future.
>>
Hannah is able to find an almanac and leads you back to it, since you're the one carrying most of the money. The meager planting schedules and focus on game seasons indicates that the locals don't do as much farming as they do hunting and trapping. In that case, you might be able to pick up some hides or even furs for sale elsewhere. You think you saw a lodge further up the road from the meeting hall, that might be a could place to check. Alternately, there may be hunters at the tavern boasting of their exploits.

It also seems to indicate that copper coinage isn't as valuable here. You could exchange some of your silver Trents for copper Darrens. Here that would get you 10 copper Darrens for a single silver Trent, when elsewhere 1 Trent is equal to 8 Darrens. You'd probably want to do that before you leave.

At the end of the trip, you have some information, but a little less coin.

Roll 6d10 for bartering.
>>
Rolled 3, 4, 6, 6, 5, 8 = 32 (6d10)

>>2575415
gib intel
>>
Rolled 10, 6, 8, 9, 10, 10 = 53 (6d10)

>>2575415
how many people should roll?
>>
Rolled 2, 3, 3, 1, 6, 9 = 24 (6d10)

>>2575415
Let's go!
>>
>>2575446
Just one is enough

>>2575434
> 4 successes = Major Success
Writing.
>>
>>2575446
with a roll like that probably not many
>>
It was surprisingly easy to get a good deal on the map and almanac. The people of San Laurent must not get freewheeling merchants through very often, since they don't seem to realize just how valuable some of this is. They must deal mostly through long term arrangements, ore for food over the course of years and things like that, so they're not up on how much money can be made with more tactical trades. You manage to pick the two up for 3 silver, bringing your current total to 14.

Hannah also impresses you with how quickly she's getting into the swing of things. They say the best cons are two man affairs, but apparently having a pretty young woman as your assistant makes people a lot more pliable. A little buttering up from her certainly made a difference.

As the day winds to a close and the market and shops begin to close up for the night, you bring the wagon around past Galen's tavern. The sign bears the name 'The Giant's Thumb' in stylized lettering and shows a massive hand with its thumb raised. The sounds from inside tell you that the night's crowd is already starting to arrive. Beyond the tavern are a few more buildings, one of which is thankfully a stables, followed by a small open field, no doubt the spot Tobias mentioned.

Your horses are quite tired by the time the wagon rolls to a stop for the night, and Ibrahim quickly sets to work bringing them around to the stables for the night.

Sort out sleeping arrangements for your stay in San Laurent, stabling cost will be included.
> Find a room in town for all of you. This may complicate any demon summoning you want to do, since you'll be sharing a room with Hannah. Also might be scandalous among the local townsfolk.
> Find two separate rooms, one for you and Ibrahim, the other for Hannah. This is more expensive, but it is socially acceptable and leaves open possibility of summoning demons without Hannah's knowledge.
> Find a room for Hannah, you and Ibrahim sleep in the tent. This is cheaper and socially acceptable. Demon summoning will be easy, but you'll be some distance from Hannah if anything bad happens.
> Everyone sleeps in the tent. Complicates demon summoning, but it's cheap. The townsfolk also probably won't notice.

Also do you want spend the evening
> Unpacking. This will allow you to begin commerce bright and early.
> At the Giant's Thumb. This will potentially get you some information, but will delay any merchant business until later in the day tomorrow.
>>
>>2575586
>> Find two separate rooms, one for you and Ibrahim, the other for Hannah. This is more expensive, but it is socially acceptable and leaves open possibility of summoning demons without Hannah's knowledge.


>> Unpacking. This will allow you to begin commerce bright and early.
>>
>>2575595
Going with this guy
>>
>>2575586
>Find two separate rooms, one for you and Ibrahim, the other for Hannah. This is more expensive, but it is socially acceptable and leaves open possibility of summoning demons without Hannah's knowledge.
>Unpacking. This will allow you to begin commerce bright and early.
ideally well be here a while so keep to the story and don't rush
>>
>>2575597
The Palpatine approach works. Be polite, pleasant even. Until it's time for the win.
>>
>>2575595
>>2575586
Second.
>>
>>2575598
>>2575605
+1
Be sure to caution Hannah about letting people into her room, especially after a night in the tavern.
>>
>>2575586
>>2575595
this
>>
Two rooms and unpacking it is.

Roll 6d10 for bartering on the rooms.

Next story post will probably be the last for the night.
>>
>>2575595
This
>>
Rolled 7, 6, 8, 8, 1, 5 = 35 (6d10)

>>2575645
Now let's see here...
>>
Rolled 9, 8, 1, 7, 5, 8 = 38 (6d10)

>>2575645
>>
>>2575652
> 5 successes = Critical Success
Writing.
>>
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You spend the evening helping Ibrahim get everything unpacked, sorted, and ready to go for tomorrow. Thoroughly exhausted from a day of travel, bartering, and setting up, you decide to call it a night and treat the three of you to decent lodgings for a change. The Giant's Thumb has a few rooms free, and you arrange with Galen to rent out two of them for your stay. Galen, looks at you, then at Hannah, then back at you with a sly grin. You manage to get away with only paying 6 silver for two rooms for a week, quite a steal.

Ibrahim quickly ducks into the room the two of you will be sharing, leaving you to walk Hannah to her room. She stops in the doorway. By the look on her face, you can tell there are so many things that she wants to say. But after a moment's hesitation, she doesn't say any of them. Instead she quickly leans forward and gives you a peck on the cheek.

"Goodnightmarcus," she says hastily and then shuts the door in a desperate bid to save herself from embarrassment.

You pause outside the door as your hand slowly confirms that yes, your cheek still exists and that no, her lips did not burn your horrible heretic flesh. You're also pretty sure you hear a soft giggle from the other side of the door before you head back to your room for the night.

There, Ibrahim is lying on one of the two beds. His eyes are closed as if asleep, but you know him well enough to know that he isn't. You also know him well enough to recognize that accusing silence he's giving you.

"What?" you ask.

"I said nothing," he replies.

You frown. So he wants to play it that way. "You were thinking something. What was it?"

After several long seconds Ibrahim says, "I was thinking how odd it is for a man willing to risk all for the faith to enjoy deceiving pretty young women as much as you do."

"What the blazes are you talking about?"

He motions with his head very slightly towards Hannah's room.

"I haven't lied to her," you say defensively. You've been very careful to walk the fine line between being honest and deceitful. Your ability to do that is the entire reason you and Ibrahim have made such an effective team. Surely he can see that.

"Lying would be understandable," Ibrahim says. "We are in the lion's den and must lie to survive. No, you have told her half-lies. A man who tells lies merely hides the truth. A man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it."

He says no more, and you're too tired to argue with that nonsense. Instead you lie down on the first real bed you've slept on in weeks and go to sleep.
>>
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The morning greets you more quickly than you would have expected. You rise and look over to Ibrahim's bed. Unsurprisingly he isn't there. Knowing how hungry he gets, he's probably gone to get something to eat.

You open the door and find yourself looking out into a massive, towering room. The ceiling looms high overhead, so high that you can barely see it. The walls are adorned with brilliant red and gold banners and at the far end is an enormous window of stained glass. The light that streams in through the window bathes the cavernous chamber in orange hues and makes you feel like you have stepped into a furnace.

In the center of the chamber is a great eagle made of fire, looking down upon you with empty black eyes.

"Huh," you say.
>>
...So we might be late getting to breakfast.
>>
>>2575811
...close the door.
>>
That's it for tonight. The quest will resume Monday at the usual time (5 pm EST, 2pm PST). Depending on where this thread is I might continue with it, or I might start a new one.

I now have a twitter account for updates.
https://twitter.com/DemonologistQM

Thread is archived, it can be found here.
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Demonologist%20Quest

As before, I'll be around for a little bit longer so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. I'd also love to hear any comments you might have.
>>
>>2575833
Always a fine response.
>>
>>2575842
Thanks for running! Don't have much to comment of, but I feel like that might change the next session.
>>
>>2575842
If you're going to start a new one, post link from here so it's easy to get to.
>>
>>2575811
Right first of all BE POLITE & RESPECTFUL we're probably dealing with a demon or small god and the last thing we want to go is insult them.
So politely inquire as to who we are addressing and why they have brought us here.
>>
>>2575842
Also question: aside from becoming 9th circle can demons die? For that matter has the number of demons in the higher circles just been constantly increasing as the lower circles empty upwards?
>>
>>2575854
Will do.

>>2575858
> aside from becoming 9th circle can demons die?
Yes. They can be killed violently, it's just really hard. About as hard as killing a small god. But there are just so damn many of them compared to small gods that, until you get a high level demon, it's never really worth the effort when you could banish them instead.

There's also the fact that demons don't have infinite memory capacity, and low level demons have a lot less than higher level ones. A first circle demon only has about 20 years worth of memory. After that, as they gain new memories they also lose old ones. It doubles with each circle, so by the eighth circle you have demons with over 2,500 year memories.

But on a long enough timescale every demon is essentially a ship of Theseus. New bits are added to replace old bits, and eventually the demon is made of entirely different memories than before. This is why true names, which are tied to the the nature of that demon, will change over time. It will take a while, potentially centuries depending on the demon, but eventually true names become out of date.

> For that matter has the number of demons in the higher circles just been constantly increasing as the lower circles empty upwards?
The higher circles do take losses. The ninth circle, for all their power and teamwork, go up against people who are powerful enough to blow up the world by accident. Even if they do absolutely everything perfectly, some of them can still die just because high level sorcery is insanely destructive. Plus a bunch of them died in the Great War, and their ranks refill slowly.

The eighth circle also takes losses because they're engaged in insane schemes to save themselves from becoming ninth circle, which often involves conflict with the mortal world. And an eighth circle demon is absolutely the sort of thing that people are willing to put the time and effort into killing permanently. The eighth circle demons are willing to take that risk though, because failure basically means death anyway.

Also, even if a demon goes full speed ahead with no reservations or second thoughts, it can take hundreds or even thousands of years for them to work their way up to the ninth circle. New first circle demons pop into existence all the time, and they slowly rise through the ranks, with each step up being harder than the last. As a result the ranks of demons are very much a pyramid shape, albeit with a weird bulge at the top because there are usually a bit more ninth circle demons than eighth.
>>
This is a really neat quest you have going here. I'm interested.
>>
Caught up and I'm interested.
>>
This quest is amazing! Please keep it up! It scratches that The Amulet of Samarkand ich I still have after reading that book series so long ago, if this quest get long enough it might if turned into book form have chance at selling to fans of the The Amulet of Samarkand book serie. And as always thank you qm for being one of those who make /q/ such a great place!
>>
Agree with the others.. Just finished reading and it's a great quest so far!
>>
>>2575411
hi QM, of the demons we know, who would be the least... off-putting... to someone who might want to get into demonology?

Our gateway drug, as it were. The friendly neighborhood demon who has a taste for consuming artwork and isn't going to scare the poor girl off?
>>
Excellent quest, anon ! I love the fact that the 5-6 demons we're closer to (Thetis, etc...) are like a dark pokemon team.
>>
Deciding that it is entirely too early in the morning for this sort of thing, you shut the door.

Several seconds pass as you wait listening at the door to see if that angered your visitor. While you don't hear anything like a great fiery bird from the other side of the door, you do feel an odd sensation of wind blowing across your back. You turn around and find that you are no longer in your room at the Giant's Thumb. Instead you appear to be in a long corridor made of finely polished stone stretching off into the distance, with windows set into the wall along the left side.

Outside one of the windows is the bird, it's head turned to the side and one of it's empty eyes peering into the hallway at you.

"Oh. I'm still asleep, aren't I."

The bird nods.

"Well, I suppose that's a relief."

You walk over to the window and look out, trying to see past the bird to determine where you are. Past the flames you spy the ocean, stretching out to the horizon. Looking down you see that the 'building' you're in appears to be floating above the water.

Turning back to your fiery visitor, you adopt the respectful tone that you often use when dealing with demons. "If I may be so bold, to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?"

The bird seems a little surprised by the question, or perhaps by the fact that you asked it quite calmly. It might be used to people being a bit more surprised than you are.

> Ask politely about who it is and what its intentions are.
> Ask impolitely
> Explain to it that you have experience dealing with strange entities
> Explore the building
> Try to wake up
> Write in
>>
>>2583178
Dropped my name.

>>2581882
Setra is probably the one who fits that description the best. Though she definitely doesn't look human, she isn't that threatening in appearance and is generally quite personable. Keboro could also fit the bill. Vedek looks like a stereotypical imp, which may or may not be too off-putting for a person's tastes, but he's a professional by nature.
>>
>>2583178
>> Ask politely about who it is and what its intentions are.
>>
>>2583178
>Ask politely about who it is and what its intentions are.

May as well humor whatever it might want seeing as we're here by its choice. Don't go ahead and explain why we're so calm though, we're not that stupid.
>>
>>2583178
"I'm Marcus the Merchant, it's an honor to make your acquaintance, I'm sure. To what do I owe this pleasure? It's not often that I'm visited in my sleep, but perhaps not so rarely as you'd expect..."

Polite, humble, confident. This isn't our first rodeo.
>>
>>2583221
>>2583223
>>2583261
Agreed
>>
Now writing for asking politely.
>>
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"I am Marcus, traveling merchant. It's an honor to make your acquaintance, but I am curious. To what do I owe this pleasure? It's not often that I am visited in my sleep by such a radiant being as yourself."

The bird stares back at you for several seconds in silence, leaving you to wonder if you offended it somehow, then it spreads its wings and takes flight. You're about to ask if you said something wrong when the floor beneath you suddenly tips over. The entire hallway twists and warps, turning until the floor becomes a wall and the wall lined with windows becomes the floor.

The windows open, sending you falling toward the water below. All a dream, you remind yourself. This is all a dream. Unless the bird was lying.

That last thought occurs to you just before you hit the water. You expected it to be cold, but it isn't. It's strangely warm. And... shallow? Looking down, you see a submerged log, propped up by a rock sitting on the bottom. This isn't an ocean, its... a pond? You right yourself in the water and swim back to the surface. Poking your head above the water, you look around and find that the building you fell from is nowhere to be found. You're also not in an ocean, but in a small lake surrounded by rocky hills and forest on one side and fields on the other.

You spot a pier, and an old, sad looking shack where the forest and fields meet. It takes you a moment to realize what you're looking at, it's been so long. You're in Stalhaven, where you grew up. This lake is Evon's Eye, you used to go swimming here as a child, when the summer heat grew unbearable. You start swimming toward the shore, but as you get closer the water itself seems to pull against you, as if it doesn't want to let you leave.

After struggling against the water for several minutes without making it any closer, you pause to catch your breath. As you float there beneath the noonday sun, you hear laughter from the shore. Looking for its source, you spy five children running down through the fields toward the lake. Though three are trailing behind too far for you to see, you recognize the two in front. Adam and Robert, but in their youth, no older than eight if you had to guess.

Wait, you know what this is. Reliving memories from an outsider's perspective, seemingly trapped in the scenery while your life plays out before you? You've been on the receiving end of this before, this is a mental probe. Whatever is doing this, it's trying to delve into your mind. It's looking for something, something in your memories.

> Take a defensive stance. These are your memories, you have the advantage here.
> Go on the offensive, try to push into its mind to find out what it is and why it's here.
> Let it look.
> Try to wake up.
> Write in.
>>
>>2583376
>> Take a defensive stance. These are your memories, you have the advantage here.
>>
>>2583376
Go on the offensive.
>>
>>2583376
>> Go on the offensive, try to push into its mind to find out what it is and why it's here.

info
>>
>>2583376
>Go on the offensive, try to push into its mind to find out what it is and why it's here.
>>
Offensive wins.

Roll 5d10.
>>
Rolled 2, 8, 2, 9, 8 = 29 (5d10)

>>2583424
blize
>>
>>2583435
> 3 successes = Minor Success
Writing.
>>
We should probably barter with a demon for a defense method/knowledge or trinket from mental probes in the future.
>>
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Well, if whoever this is wants to have a look at your memories, then two can play at that game.

You look around. To sift through your memories, the person on the other end will have to be 'here' as well. At first you see no one else, just you and your old childhood friends. You even spot yourself among the three other children as they approach the lake.

But after a moment you spy something very much out of place. A large black eagle, almost as large as your eight-year-old self, is perched on the old pier. It seems to be focused on your past self, and you take the opportunity to stealthily move toward it through the water. Though the lake doesn't seem to want to let you leave entirely, it does let you approach the bird.

Once you're close enough you burst out from the water, grabbing for the bird. It lets out a startled squawk and tries to take flight, but your hands grab ahold of its tail feathers and your combined weight it too much for it. The two of you tumble backwards into the water, a mess of feathers and flailing limbs and clawing talons. Beneath the lake's surface you struggle with it, trying to get a better hold of the bird, but its wild thrashing makes it difficult to simply hold on, let alone find better purchase.

After a few seconds of fighting, the bird is able to right itself in the water and begins flapping its way toward the shore, dragging you along with it. As the bird hauls you up out of the water and on to the sand, it slips free of your grip and takes off into the sky.

The sounds around you, however, are very distinctly not that of Stalhaven. It sounds more like the pounding of surf and the calls of seabirds. You slowly rise to your feet and look around. Evon's Eye is gone, as is the familiar landscape of your youth. Instead, you stand on the beach of a true ocean, and the water that clings to you feels suddenly smells of salt.

Off in the distance is a city with immense walls of clean gray stone that you recognize it immediately. Tharongard, a major port on the Habori Sea, to the southwest of Torien. Interesting. If this is a childhood memory of the person on the other end of the link, then he's probably from the Habori Empire.
>>
You hear a voice from down the beach, away from the city. It's an older woman, along with a group of about a half dozen children. She points further down the beach to a building sitting upon a rock outcropping in the distance.

"And that shrine there is where she rose to divinity," the woman says to the children following her. "The sorcerer Maldavian fought our lord on this very beach, seeking to imprison our lord and Avena once again."

You start moving toward the group, when the sand beneath your feet begins to rumble. The driftwood on the beach slowly pieces itself together, rising up from the sand in the form of a humanoid creature standing between you and the group.

> Fight it. If whoever is on the other end of the probe is also trying to sift through your memories, then his defenses might not be as solid.
> Run. You might be able to get around it and discover whose memory this is.
> Talk with it. Now that you're in the other person's mind, you might be able to force a truce.
> Try to wake up.
> Write in.
>>
>>2583542
Talk with it
>>
>>2583542
>> Talk with it. Now that you're in the other person's mind, you might be able to force a truce.


so, as I was saying before, To what do I owe this pleasure?
>>
>>2583542
>> Talk with it. Now that you're in the other person's mind, you might be able to force a truce.
Well hello there
>>
>>2583542
>talk with it
So long as we're not in danger we should learn what we can about whoever's trying to snoop around in our head
>>
Talking wins.

Roll 5d10.
>>
Rolled 9, 8, 5, 3, 3 = 28 (5d10)

>>2583562
Go, diplomacy!
>>
It didn't work, did it?
>>
Rolled 9, 8, 2, 5, 9 = 33 (5d10)

>>2583562
WIN
>>
>>2583564
> 2 successes = minor failure.
Do you wish to bargain? +1 will get you a minor success. +3 will get you a major success.
>>
>>2583578
You only take the first roll?
>>
>>2583579
Correct.
>>
>>2583578
I'll vote to bargain for a minor success.
>>
>>2583581
Oh.
>>
>>2583579
Though to clarify, a minor or major failure can be turned into a success through bargaining. Depending on how much you need to boost the rolls (in this case, +1 to get up to a minor success, +3 to get up to a major success) that carries an increasing risk of other negative consequences. Though you will succeed at the thing you were rolling for, it will simply cost you.
>>
To keep things moving, I'll go with bargaining +1.

Roll 1d10, bad things happen on a 1 or 2.
>>
Rolled 9 (1d10)

>>2583613
I'll take the plunge.
>>
Alright, now writing minor success.
>>
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"Alright," you say. "I'm starting to get an idea of who you are, and I think you're going to want to agree to a truce."

The driftwood creature shifts back and forth, but says nothing.

"This sort of probe is short range, so I'm guessing you're physically in San Laurent. You're from the Habori Empire, which means you're probably here at the behest of one of the small gods. And this is not weak magic, so you're probably an exalted."

The creature lunges at you, but it's sluggish and there's enough distance between the two of you that you're able to step out of the way. The creature lands in the sand as you move of to the side. It scrabbles back to its feet and starts slowly trying to circle around you, but again its actions are slow. The attention of the other person in this link is still on searching your memories, so this creature isn't as deadly as it could be.

"Go ahead and try," you say. "You can't kill me while you're also rooting around in my memory, and now I know there's an exalted from the Habori Empire in San Laurent. If you want me to keep that a secret, you're going to need to talk."

It looks like it's about to attack again, when a woman's voice echoing from above interrupts it. "Stop. Meet with him."

The driftwood creature hesitates for a moment. After a few seconds, another voice speaks, this one a man's rumbling up from below. "No buts. Face him."

The creature begins to twist and tremble, it's wooden body cracking open and dark fabric spilling out. In its place appears a dark-haired woman in fine robes wearing a pair of golden chains, one around her neck, the other around her waist. Hanging from the chain around her neck is a diamond shaped medallion. She looks less than pleased.

"Who are you," she asks accusingly. "You're certainly no traveling merchant, you know far to much about what is happening here."

"I told you already," you reply, "my name is Marcus."

"I've seen enough of your mind to know that isn't true either."
>>
She is about to say more when the voice from below interrupts. "Aisha, stop. Being combative is no longer necessary." The sand shifts as an enormous snake emerges from beneath the beach, the man's voice rumbling from its throat. "We are formulating a new plan."

"You have been able to deduce a great deal, Marcus." It's the woman's voice that echoed from above, but this time coming from nearby. You turn to look at its source, and see that it is coming from a crow perched on a piece of driftwood. "But tell me," she continues, "what makes you so confident of your position that you think you can dictate terms?"

"I know that the Ephesian Inquisition would be very interested to hear that the false gods have a foothold this deep inside Torien, and I'm willing to guess that you don't want them to know that." You shrug. "I am a merchant, I understand leverage."

The crow contemplates this, then says "True, but judging by what we've gleaned from your mind, you also have things that you don't want the Inquisition to know, don't you?"

> Deny. It's still a nice river.
> Bargain. We each have something on the other, maybe we can make a deal?
> Try to wake up. The exalted isn't in your mind anymore, it should be easy to break the link now.
> Write in.
>>
>>2583728
>Try to wake up. The exalted isn't in your mind anymore, it should be easy to break the link now
>>
>>2583728
>> Try to wake up. The exalted isn't in your mind anymore, it should be easy to break the link now.
>>
>>2583728
>> Bargain. We each have something on the other, maybe we can make a deal?

I want to know more, we are already ousted, it's important to know what we are dealing with, and they won't tell on us by fear of being told
>>
>>2583728
>Bargain. We each have something on the other, maybe we can make a deal?
I don't want to spurn an opportunity but I also don't want to be a small god's bitch.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

Vote is tied, so I'm going to roll it. 1 is trying to wake up, 2 is bargaining.
>>
Now writing trying to wake up.
>>
"That may be true," you say. "But even if you know some of my secrets, I think you want to keep the inquisition far away from this place. You keep my secrets, and I'll keep yours."

You don't wait for them to respond, with the exalted here in her own mind, this is your chance to end all of this. You close your eyes tightly and slap yourself hard across the face. The sudden sting shocks the life back into your body, your real body, and you can feel your mind pulling you back into the waking world.

As the dream begins to dissolve, you hear the serpent's voice fading. "This isn't over."

When your eyes open, you're in your bed at the Giant's Thumb. The sounds of the early morning drift in from outside and, as in the dream, Ibrahim isn't in his bed. Just in case, you check the door. The only thing you find is an ordinary hallway of the Giant's Thumb, somewhat chilly and drab looking in the early morning light.

> Go see Ibrahim. You need to tell him about the dream, in case the small gods decide to try something.
> Go see Hannah. Now that you're set up in San Laurent, it's commerce time, and there's a lot for her to learn about being a merchant.
> Go see Tobias, the mayor. There's definitely something going on in this town and you want to know what it is.
> Go see Galen, the proprietor of the Giant's Thumb. He might know some rumors about what's been happening lately.
> Summon a demon (which one?).
> Write in.
>>
>>2583856
>Go see Hannah. Now that you're set up in San Laurent, it's commerce time, and there's a lot for her to learn about being a merchant.

First you get the dosh. Then you know the rest.
>>
>>2583856
Do we know of any demons of the first or second circle who can provide low-profile information or protection? It might be worth quickly briefing Ibrahim on the situation, then summoning a bargain-basement demon to tilt the scales just a little bit, but that only works if we can get help that's more subtle and reliable than Tethis was.
>>
>>2583874
Reemer or Setra seem to be the most subtle. One's an illusionist and the other is sleep medication, respectively. It might not be a bad idea to get prepared.
>>
>>2583856
>> Go see Hannah. Now that you're set up in San Laurent, it's commerce time, and there's a lot for her to learn about being a merchant.
>>
>>2583874
>>2583878
If you want subtle protection, Vedek is also an option. He can just make you temporarily stronger and tougher and things like that, he doesn't even need to stick around. He's also decently well informed and well connected, so if he doesn't know something himself he probably knows someone who knows it. He is a third circle demon though.
>>
>>2583856
>> Go see Galen, the proprietor of the Giant's Thumb. He might know some rumors about what's been happening lately.
>>
Now writing for going to see Hannah.
>>
Deciding that it's time to get started offloading your wares, you stop by Hannah's room in case she hasn't already headed down to your wagon.

You knock on her door. "Hannah?"

You're greeted by the sound of something falling over and a hurried "Ah, yes Marcus. I'll be out in just a minute."

A bit over ten minutes later, Hannah emerges, a little less radiant that she was yesterday. It would appear she's not exactly a morning person. Still, she has a certain determination about her that makes you think she'll be just fine.

"Good morning, Hannah," you say with a smile. "Care to join me for something to eat?"

She perks up noticeably at the suggestion. "That sounds wonderful."

"And while we're eating, I was thinking we could go over our plans for today. We've got a lot to do."

In some ways, this morning proceeds as many of your morning have before. Hannah's presence is the main difference, and you have to admit that having her as a student makes the day more enjoyable. She's eager to learn and eager to meet new people, both fine qualities in an aspiring merchant. After breakfast, you head out to the clearing where you've set up shop. Ibrahim is already there, and the three of you get to work.

Tobias was right, news that you're in town spread quickly, and quite a few people come by just to see what the commotion is all about. San Laurent's children can be seen lurking around the edges, watching you with great interest. In your experience, it'll be a day or so before they grow bold enough to descend upon you with questions about the outside world.

Only a few people actually buy anything at this point, most are just investigating, but at least a few people take the opportunity to purchase some of what you're offering. Hannah does her best to assist you, mostly following your lead, and even Ibrahim pitches in where he can.

Roll 7d10.
>>
Rolled 6, 9, 5, 2, 6, 8, 10 = 46 (7d10)

>>2584096
>>
Rolled 10, 1, 2, 5, 7, 4, 4 = 33 (7d10)

>>2584096
>>
>>2584104
> 6 successes = Critical Success
Writing.
>>
>>2584104
>>2584129
Niiiiice
>>
In all honesty, you can't really think of how the morning could have reasonably gone much better. Oh sure, it would have been nice if the Ephesian church decided to make you a Saint or if the Mashari water demons gave you a half dozen nubile elven dancing girls, but staying within the realm of possibility it couldn't have gone much better.

The miners in San Laurent were quite taken with some of your textiles, and with Hannah's help you sell about a third of your supply at a high enough price to make a tidy profit. The old carpenter's tools you acquired in Easterbrook sell decently enough as well, and while you don't manage to sell any of the equipment you 'acquired' from the bandits on the way to San Laurent, one of the townsfolk does mention that Tobias the mayor might be interested in purchasing them, though you'll have to go see him at the town hall to arrange that.

Hannah is adapting to the role of merchant quite well. She was already able to be a passable salesmen for textiles thanks to her time in Easterbrook, though you're working on helping her rely less on already knowing the people she's dealing with. For the morning you gain 30 silver, bringing your total to 38.

You also pick up some information in passing about the well-dressed man you saw yesterday. Apparently his name is James Selkirk, a prince of the Selkirk trading clan. They're a wealthy family of merchants from the northeast, and James has been looking to raise his standing within the family by expanding their network into the mining towns of the Salverg foothills. The townsfolk don't think much of him, being both a lowlander and an arrogant prick. The town is already buzzing with word of how he bought the old manor upstream and then had one of his thugs attack the mayor when Tobias told him that he wouldn't be sending any men to help clear the road to it.

As for the old manor itself, most people don't seem to know much about it. You get the impression that a few of the miners you talked to might know more than they're letting on, but they're rather tightlipped about the subject.

It's a little past noon when you decide to take a break. The initial rush of people checking out your wares for the first time seems to be dying down, and that leaves you with a bit of an opening to do something else if you want it.

> Talk with Ibrahim in private about the dream. If that exalted really is here in San Laurent, the two of you will need to be on your guard.
> Talk with Hannah about how she's doing, maybe try to find a way to hint that you can teach her some magic.
> Head back to your room at the Giant's Thumb to summon a demon (which one?)
> Go talk with Tobias, the mayor. He might be able to tell you more about what's happening around town, or failing that he might be willing to buy some equipment.
> Write in.
>>
>>2584266
>> Talk with Ibrahim in private about the dream. If that exalted really is here in San Laurent, the two of you will need to be on your guard.
gotta look out for number one
>>
>>2584266
>> Go talk with Tobias, the mayor. He might be able to tell you more about what's happening around town, or failing that he might be willing to buy some equipment.
>>
>>2584272
This
>>
>>2584266
>>2584272
>>2584280
supporting this.
we made enough profit for today, its dangerous to walk around with too much money at hand.
>>
>>2584272
Supporting. Maybe mention magic to hannah, but only after speaking with Ibrahim
>>
Now writing talking with Ibrahim. Next story post will likely be the last for tonight.
>>
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You ask Hannah to take care of the shop for a moment while you and Ibrahim go acquire something. Once the two of you are alone, you begin telling Ibrahim about last night's encounter.

Ibrahim listens intently as you recount the events of the dream, occasionally interrupting to ask about specific parts. In particular, what the old woman on the beach was saying to the children around her, and the fact that there were two voices, a woman's from above and a man's from below. He also asks about the amulet that Aisha, the robed woman, wore, though you did not see it well enough to tell him much.

"Avena, the Risen Angel, and Trokranok, the Earth Dragon," he finally says after you have finished. "Small gods of the new breed, raised to divinity after the Great War. Their cult is powerful in Masharak as well. We must be careful, they are a cunning and ruthless enemy."

You vaguely remember the names from your travels, though there are many small gods squabbling for power and followers in the lands outside Torien and it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all of them when they're not a part of your everyday life here. "The Earth Dragon," you say. "I take it his followers have powers over earth?"

"Yes," Ibrahim replies. "And if what you saw were the childhood memories of this 'Aisha,' then she is likely one of his exalted."

"That might explain the grinding sounds Tobias mentioned, she could be the one causing the trouble at the manor" you say, rubbing your chin in thought. "But why would they be here, in San Laurent of all places?"

Ibrahim shrugs. "Trokranok is god of earth and love. He was a dragon in life, and his cult is his new hoard. He values only three things, in this order: His wife Avena, then himself, and then his followers. Everything else in this world only matters as a future part of his hoard. If his followers are in San Laurent, it is to take it and make its people his."

"And Avena?"

"Avena is goddess of sun and lies. She was an angel in life and has kept their warped view of the world. She cares little for motives, only results matter to her. In her eyes, a good deed done because of manipulation is still just as good. Deception is like breathing to her, and planting secret cults throughout the world is something she is well known for."

You look out across the landscape. Rugged mountains to the west tower over you, while to the east a great forest stretches out for miles before eventually giving way to rolling farmland. "This deep in Torien, they would need to keep it a secret. Even if they had a hundred exalted here, there's no way the Ephesian church would allow the false gods a foothold here." After a moment's thought, you turn back to Ibrahim and ask "Would they be willing to kill us to keep their presence here a secret?"

He nods. "Trokranok would kill us to scratch an itch. Avena would kill us if she believed that it would result in more good than not killing us."

"Well, that's reassuring."

"I do not see why."
>>
That's it for tonight. I'm going to be way to busy to run Tuesday, so we'll resume Wednesday at the usual time (5pm EST, 2pm PST).

In the mean time I'll still be available to answer any questions, so please feel free to ask. I'd also love to hear any comments you might have on that you think of things so far.
>>
>>2584334
>Small gods of the new breed, raised to divinity after the Great War
Oh boy, here we go.

Thanks for running the quest!
>>
>>2584337
thanks for running
>>
>>2584337
Thanks for running. As for comments, man, fuck all the small gods. One does a little bit of an outreach and the only thing they offer is some garbage tier "yeah but I'll tell on you so listen to me." Biiiiitch. Fuck yourself up the ass shit colored dragon, and fuck your god waifu too. We should find a clever way to out their foothold here without getting caught but, eh, rather make money.

Also, Ibrahim is great.
>>
>>2584266
Also some of the miners probably became secret cultists out of fear from shitty dragon making rocks fall in their mines. Probably.
>>
>>2584337
Ibrahim a best.
>>
>>2584337
Henlo OP
What is there to gain from killing a demon? Could we use magic or some shit to steal their abilities?
What if we trick one into becoming an obedient slave? For example thethis , he seemed foolable enough.
>>
>>2584687
Given what OP said earlier demons aren't anymore 'bound' to deals than a human. They work for pay and the honest ones are honest because it improves their reputation and increases the chances of future work/pay.
>>
>>2584687
There's not much to benefit to be gained from killing a demon other than that demon will be dead. There are sometimes still reasons to do it, such as if it's a particularly powerful demon and killing it will actually meaningfully reduce the number of high power demons. Killing a demon is also the only reliable way to ensure that a demon will keep a secret. Generally speaking if a demon knows something and makes it back to Hell, all Hell will know within a few weeks. Hell's water cooler talk is infamous.

And finally, there are a small minority of demons that can take things way too personally and make it their mission to ruin someone. Because permanently killing a demon is so hard, if a demon really wants to wreck someone's life and they're willing to spend a lot of time and energy to do it, there's not much your average person can do to stop them for long. It's intensely irrational for a demon to do so, and it can be an enormous waste of sacrifice, but some demons are very human in that they can be deeply irrational creatures who will pursue grudges even when it doesn't make logical sense to do so. And if you get one of those demons after you, pretty much your only way out is to kill it.

This is one of the reasons why veteran demonologists try to be polite toward demons. While you're not likely to get a demon that will hold a grudge to an irrational degree, if you do get one and you piss it off the consequences could be disastrous for you. Better to just play it safe and be courteous to all demons.

As for tricking a demon into being a slave, >>2585095
is an accurate description of the main problem. You generally can't bind demons to your will in ways they don't want. Under normal circumstances, a demon will uphold its end of a bargain for the same reasons a human would, things like reputation, repeat business, or a particular payment setup (this is one of the reasons most veteran demonologists will always try to arrange it so some of the payment comes after the service is rendered).

You can seal a deal with a demon's true name, and that creates an honest desire on the demon's part to honor the spirit of the deal as best they understand it, but even then you still need to get the demon to agree and it can still say no beforehand.
>>
>>2585583
So basically we shouldn't piss off our summons and if someone sets a demon on us we gotta pull out all the stops to destroy it assuming we make it mad at some point.

Got it.
>>
>>2585619
Bear in mind, if a demon comes to kill you and you bounce it back to Hell, it's not going to really hold that against you. Well, it might be a little annoyed, but only briefly and not so much that it will come after you just to satisfy a grudge. It's not really that big a deal to them.

And most demons don't bother going after people on their own time just because it's not worth it. It's expensive to them and there's no real profit in it. But it only takes a handful of demons across history who decide to pull a Count of Monte Cristo at the expense of everything else for people to realize that's a potential danger and take steps to avoid it.

Also, for Marcus specifically, permanently killing a demon isn't really an option for him right now. He just doesn't have access to the kind of resources or raw power that would be necessary to do that. For him, the best defense is to not be in that situation in the first place.
>>
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You sigh. It seems that Ibrahim's understanding of sarcasm is rather limited. Also, the small gods have a secret cult here is San Laurent, complete with an exalted. But more importantly Ibrahim doesn't understand sarcasm.

"I'm going to have to teach you about sarcasm at some point."

"Is that something that will help us against the small gods?"

"Probably not, but you should know about it anyway."

You pause for a moment to consider your options. You could head back to the wagon and continue hawking your wares. The morning rush may have died down, but there are probably still people who will buy what you're selling. It will also give you the opportunity to perhaps bring Hannah around to the idea of trying a little magic tonight.

You could also go talk to either Tobias the mayor or Galen at the Giant's Thumb. Now that you know about the small god presence in San Laurent, you might be able to get a feel for how widespread it is. The miners are likely to be more careless with their talk around Galen, so he might know quite a bit about what they're hiding, and finding out if Tobias is aware of the small gods could tell you a lot about how far they've sunk their claws into San Laurent.

And finally there's the issue of your newly refilled coin purse. Avoiding thieves is second nature to you, but spending some of this silver might still be a good idea.

> Head back to the wagon and speak with Hannah. You might still be able to get to her by tonight.
> Go see Tobias the mayor. Maybe you can get an idea from him how widespread the small god cult is in San Laurent. Failing that, you heard he might be interested in purchasing the equipment you got off the bandits.
> Head to the Giant's Thumb and talk with Galen. He might have heard something from the miners that they aren't telling you.
> Go to the market and spend some of this silver that's burning a hole in your pocket. While this isn't the most money you're ever had, you're not entirely comfortable walking around with a lot and you might be able to pick up something useful.
> Go to the lodge to see about acquiring hides and furs from the local hunters and trappers.
> Go investigate the old manor. What's the worst that could happen?
> Write in.
>>
>>2588002
>> Go to the market and spend some of this silver that's burning a hole in your pocket. While this isn't the most money you're ever had, you're not entirely comfortable walking around with a lot and you might be able to pick up something useful.

I am sure we could buy precious metals or something akin to gems (geodes maybe) if a god of earth is blessing the mines. Perhpas talk about the quality of the ores with the sellers, see if there has been a sudden raise in the extraction rate or quality of the ores collected. It would also help turn our silver into something more portable that will be worth a small fortune when we go to a trading town.
>>
>>2588002
We already know they're here, and that's enough of a problem. Having to explain things to Hannah along the way is an issue. Ibrahim may not understand sarcasm but he may be right about telling her the truth.

Let's start leading her down the dark side. (we've done this before, right? How hard could it be?)

....
>>
What if we just.... Left?

I mean, it's not like we really care about this place. We could conclude out business and just move on.
>>
>>2588041
You certainly could do that.
>>
>>2588041
I mean, we have invested in this town. Let´s finish selling the merchandise. We can, for example, bluff that he have set up a death man´s swicht to call the inquisition on their asses if we or our companions happen to die.
>>
>>2588014
seconding. Minerals will be sold cheap and in larger quantities than usual here.

Do we have a hidden compartment on our wagon? If not, we might want to pursue such a thing. It could help hide our actually valuable valuables and/or any small items we'd want to keep but also keep out of others' sight.

>>2588052
I was just thinking that. If the gods don't leave us alone, we can disguise ourselves and start shouting heretical things at people to bring inquisition attention, though that might work against us.
>>
>>2588057
I would rather imply that we have a letter to the church stored up and that that letter might be end up in the hands of a member of the clergy if we end up in any kind of predicament. They can proselytize all they want, as long as they don´t fuck us over.
>>
>>2588002
>> Go investigate the old manor. What's the worst that could happen?
Who wants to bet that the manor is the source of our local problems?
>>
Market wins.

Roll 5d10 for COMMERCE.
>>
Rolled 10, 6, 5, 1, 4 = 26 (5d10)

>>2588104
>>
>>2588113
Hey, enough for a minor success
>>
>>2588113
> 3 successes = Minor Success
Writing.
>>
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You head down to the market to see what you can acquire with your new silver. The price of gemstones and the like will probably be lower here than elsewhere, so you should be able to pick up something to sell elsewhere at a substantial profit.

It doesn't take long for you to find someone selling jewelry as well as a handful of cameos, most of them engraved gemstone. The works, mainly onyx or amethyst, are at once both pricey and an absolute steal compared to what someone might pay for them elsewhere. You're honestly surprised to find items of this quality in a simple mining town. You expected some of the raw material, not finished products. It seems that there are at least a few people in San Laurent who know quite a bit about working gemstones.

Continuing your search of the market, you also find items more along the lines of what you were expecting. Raw, unfinished stones, for relatively cheap compared to what you've seen down in cities like Geldor or Dontero.

Overall, you do fairly well. By the end of the afternoon you've spent 26 silver on items that you're confident you can sell for twice that amount elsewhere.

You're heading back to the wagon when you spot a man clad in the red-brown robes of a Ephesian priest in an alcove just off the market. He's younger than the one you met in Easterbrook, and he appears to be speaking with a group of children. Though you can't quite make out what he's saying, you recognize the look of someone who is utterly failing to convince a child of something that he believes should be obvious.

> Get close enough to eavesdrop.
> Intervene.
> Ignore them, head back to Hannah and the wagon.
> There's still a little time left in the day, you might be able to speak with Tobias about selling the bandit equipment.
> Write in.
>>
>>2588255
>> There's still a little time left in the day, you might be able to speak with Tobias about selling the bandit equipment.
Keeping it is a waste of space and weight
>>
>>2588262
Same. Shed the dead weight off onto some wannabe adventurers if we can.
>>
>>2588255
>> There's still a little time left in the day, you might be able to speak with Tobias about selling the bandit equipment.
>>
We should take Hannah with us to improve our odds.
>>
Now writing for talking with Tobias.
>>
>>2588360
She'll ask questions about what we have, and why.
>>
>>2588434
Then take Ibrahim with us? Can he help?
>>
>>2588255
>>> There's still a little time left in the day, you might be able to speak with Tobias about selling the bandit equipment.
>>
>>2588485
we can use the opportunity to probe him about Galen and the manor
>>
You decide to use the last bit of daylight left to go see Tobias. Sure enough, he's still at the meeting hall, wrapping up the last of the day's business.

"Ah, hello Marcus," he says as you walk in. "I've already seen a few people with new clothes, so I take it you've been busy?"

You nod. "Yes, you were right about word spreading quickly."

He smiles at that. "San Laurent's a tight nit town."

You wonder how true that is. If so, he might already be a servant of one of the small gods. Of course, it's possible that he doesn't know they're here. He didn't give any indication that he did yesterday.

"Now," he continues, "is there something I can help you with?"

"I believe I mentioned before that I've picked up odd knick-knacks in my travels. I heard a rumor earlier today that you might interested interested in some equipment for arming townsfolk?"

Tobias looks just a bit surprised at that. "Yes, yes I am. You have weapons?"

"A few, mostly scavenged or picked up where I saw a bargain," you say, trying to gloss over the issue of how you acquired them. If you ignore the fact that all of the equipment falls into the first category and none into the second, what you said is technically completely true. "But they seem to be in decent shape."

He seems to accept that and nods. "With the mines doing better and better every year, things have been picking up here. I've been trying to put together a militia just in case our good fortunes start attracting attention from unsavory sorts."

"Some of the things I've seen for sale in the market today were very impressive." You decide to take the opportunity to probe slightly, to get a feel for how much Tobias really knows about what is going on here. "It seems San Laurent has been doing very well for itself. Any idea as to why?"
>>
The mayor simply shrugs. "To be honest, I'm not really sure. The mines have just been unusually good these past years." He pauses for a moment, as if something just occurred to him. "Safer too, come to think of it. Call it luck, or God's will, or what have you. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth." He then sighs and adds "It probably won't last though."

"Why do you say that?"

Another shrug. "It's just the nature of things, cycles of boom and bust. There's really no escaping it in a mining town. You might have a good run for a while, but over a long enough time everything evens out in the end. Right now though we're doing well, so I'm going to try to make the most of it. No sense in burning daylight." He looks out the window, where the sun is sinking low on the horizon. "Speaking of which, we're just about out of it. I'll send someone over tomorrow morning to work out a deal for the equipment you've got."

"I look forward to it," you say as the two of you walk out of the meeting hall. You part ways, Tobias heading to his home while you start back toward your wagon. From the way he spoke, you get the impression that Tobias is either a very skilled liar or he honestly doesn't know why the town has been doing better lately.

The sun has disappeared below the mountains by the time you rejoin Hannah and Ibrahim at the wagon. You show them the gems and jewelry that you acquired at the market and can't help but grin at the look of wonder on Hannah's face. It seems she's never seen good quality engraved gemstones before, and her reaction gives you a little boost after a long day's work. Ibrahim stays to close up while you and Hannah start walking back to the Giant's Thumb.

Hannah yawns. She's done well for her first day, but it looks like she's running out of energy for today.

> Try to start Hannah on the path to demonology tonight. If San Laurent is anything like other towns you've been to, tomorrow you'll be swarmed by the town's children.
> Just turn in for the night. Tomorrow is another day, there will be plenty of time for that sort of thing.
> Walk Hannah to her room, but afterward head downstairs to the tavern to try to find out something from Galen or the miners.
> Write in.
>>
>>2588614
>> Try to start Hannah on the path to demonology tonight. If San Laurent is anything like other towns you've been to, tomorrow you'll be swarmed by the town's children.
It's what we brought her for, right? Best to start subtle, though.
>>
>>2588657
Seconding
>>
>>2588614
I feel like he must be building up quite a bit of equipment for a militia if they've been doing good for years and he hasn't sourced any just yet. Or it's actually just that difficult to scrounge up equipment for arming people in a town that has multiple blacksmiths? Seems weird. Cultist.

>>2588657
Thirding.
>>
>>2588684
The town has blacksmiths, it's just there's way more money to be made making other things. The way he put it gave Marcus the impression the militia thing is basically a "just in case" side project.
>>
Starting Hannah on demonology wins.

Roll 5d10.
>>
Rolled 6, 10, 6, 7, 6 = 35 (5d10)

>>2588740
>>
>>2588746
> 5 successes = Critical Success.
Writing.
>>
>>2588746
Ayyy
>>
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>>2588746
Nat 20, bitches.
>>
>>2588753
>>2588746
Perfect.
>>
>>2588753
Are the DCs the same for every roll in the quest, or do they vary depending on the situation?
>>
>>2588773
They vary depending on the situation.
>>
You decide to try bringing Hannah around to your way of thinking tonight. Best to start off subtlety, though. Slowly work your way toward the subject. "You seemed quite taken with that amethyst engraving. I take it you haven't seen a work like that before?"

Though she is clearly still tired, Hannah perks up excitedly at the mention of the jewelry. "No, I had no idea people could work gemstone like that. It was so detailed, like something an expert woodcarver would make. Only it was a gemstone."

You chuckle. "Gem cutting is not an easy thing to do, I was actually a little surprised to find something like that in a town out in the foothills. Well, maybe in another realm, but not here in Torien."

She turns to you, clearly curious. Good. "It's more widespread outside Torien?"

"Yes, a lot of things are, really," you say nonchalantly, knowing the idea is exciting to Hannah but trying to play it off as mundane to one as well travelled as yourself. "It's much easier to focus on a craft when you have magic to handle many of the other burdens."

She ponders that for a moment, then says "I can't imagine a Saint stopping to help with the harvest these days." She then immediately catches herself, stumbling to explain what she meant, when out of context her words might sound a touch heretical. "I mean, obviously they used to, but nowadays it seems like all they do is lead armies."

You let out a sigh and nod, making it clear that you understand that she doesn't harbor heretical ideas. After all, that's your job. "It's a sad thing when people use something as wonderful as magic just to tear down buildings when they could be raising them." Inwardly you wince at the trite phrase, but it does its job, so you can't really complain.

"People use magic to make buildings?"

There we go, that's the opening you had been waiting for. "Hard to build cities of glass without it," you say with a sly smile.

Hannah looks confused, like she's pretty sure she didn't hear you right. "Cities of what?"

"Cities of glass," you confirm. Then you put on your best impression of confusion and say "You haven't heard of the glass cities of Alkora?" Of course you know she almost certainly hasn't, but it makes for better bait this way.

"No!" The look on her face is a wonderful mix of awe and eagerness. You could get used to having her look at you that way. "There are glass cities? Where? How?"
>>
"Alkora, the central desert of Masharak. The elves there make entire cities of magical glass, enchanted so that they can turn to an opaque silver mirror and reflect the light on command." That part certainly took some getting used to when you first arrived there. Looking at it felt like the city itself was trying to blind you. Thankfully you were able to acquire a pair of the tinted spectacles that most of the city's inhabitants wore. "Most of it can change color too, so they could can transform a building into a huge piece of stained glass, swirling with all manner of colors and hues. Its an amazing sight, really."

Hannah visibly struggles to wrap her head around the idea, then asks. "How do they do it?" She's so engrossed in the conversation that she doesn't seem to notice that you've both arrived at her room at the Giant's Thumb, and you just shut the door behind you.

"Well, the cities are home to a lot of creatures, not just elves. Some of them have powers over substances. There are beings there that can make it easier to shape glass. They even have creatures that can conjure water out of thin air."

"Creatures? What do you mean?"

You've danced around it as best you could, but it seems the time has finally come. "Demons," you say.

"They," she starts, then covers her mouth as she realizes that she was speaking far too loudly for the subject matter. She continues at a loud whisper. "They build their cities using demons? But that damns you!"

"They don't think it does," you reply softly.

Hannah pauses, then asks the question that you knew was coming eventually. "Do you?" After a few seconds of silence in which you don't answer, "Marcus?"

You sigh, and start the explanation that you've given many times before. You dearly hope it doesn't sound as practiced as it really is. "Hannah, I've seen a lot of things in my travels, the Alkoran cities are just one. But from everything I've seen, I don't see why it would. I've seen demons, even met a few, and honestly? They're people. Some of them are the scheming villains from the stories, but some are just honest folk like us. They may look strange, but I've seen a lot of strange things in my time, and I've found that strange isn't always the same thing as bad."

Though she remains still, you can tell from the look in her eyes that Hannah's mind is reeling. All she manages is the standard response. "But God said that dealing with demons is a mortal sin. Your soul will burn in Hell for all eternity if you do it."
>>
"The church says that's what God said. But I've seen what people in places like Masharak do with demons. They water fields to grow crops when there's a drought. They help mothers give birth to healthy children. People there deal with demons so that their children will grow up strong and bright and well-fed. And many of them still worship God at the same time, because they don't think that God forbade it." Technically true, most worship the small gods, but Solace cults are both common in Masharak and open about their beliefs. "They believe God is kind, and they don't believe that God would condemn someone for wanting to take care of their children." After a pause, you state the obvious. "Nor do I."

After that it's Hannah's turn to state the obvious. "You think the church is wrong."

"In this case, yes. I do. I don't think they're bad people, but I think they're wrong when they say God forbade contact with demons."

The two of you sit in silence for a painfully long minute. Then Hannah speaks up. "Marcus," she starts again. You brace for the worst, but then she asks "If I wanted to speak with one, how would I do that?"

That takes you a bit off guard. "What?"

"You said that you had met demons before." The look on her face doesn't perfectly hide her fear, but it also shows no small amount of determination. "I'd like to as well. I want to see for myself."

> ABORT
> Suggest she take some time to think it over. It's a big decision.
> Agree to summon a demon for her. (Which one?)
> Write in.
>>
>>2589036
> Agree to summon a demon for her. (Which one?)
>Setra

The text on Setra says she likes to talk, also her domain is sleep, so shes not likely to cause any trouble
>>
>>2589047
this
>>
For the record, here's an overview of the demons you regularly deal with.

Tethis, first circle demon of the hunt. Looks like a giant black demon shrimp. Friendly in disposition, but lacking in attention span.

Setra, second circle demon of sleep. Looks like a harpy. She's very much the stereotypical chatty demon. A gossipy creature among already gossipy creatures.

Keboro, third circle demon of fate. Looks like a man made of silver with six arms. Enjoys the theatrics of the demon/summoner relationship. Likes sounding spooky.

Vedek, third circle demon of growth. Looks like a classic imp. He's a consummate professional, but balances that with a degree of friendliness.

Karkordon, fourth circle demon of beasts. Looks like a well dressed man with a reptilian head. Very formal, like Vedek only without any of the friendliness.

Remeer, fourth circle demon of illusion. Looks like a big maw with an eyeball in it and arms dangling down. Bit of a trickster, but mostly harmless.
>>
>>2589036
>summon her a demon
>keboro
A professional, that is undoubtedly a demon but doesn't look like a terrible, evil monster. Pay/give an offering to him and have her ask keboro something, coach her in demon etiquette first of course.
>>
>>2589053
>Enjoys the theatrics of the demon/summoner relationship. Likes sounding spooky.

He might give her the wrong ideas about demons, he enjoys playing to the stereotypes and spooking noobs
>>
>>2589036
>> Agree to summon a demon for her. (Which one?)
>Vedek
It says he's a professional and has a degree of friendliness. Sounds perfect for an introduction to what Demons are about.

>>2589053
>>keboro
>A professional
Did you mean Vedek? cuz all I see for Keboro is that he likes to be spooky.
>>
>>2589057
That could be true as well.
I interpreted it more as him enjoying being dramatic and vague, and liking sounding all mystic and wise.
Maybe we should go with Vedek then. It'd be hard to go wrong with a friendly imp I suppose.
>>
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>>2589024
She's so adorably naive.
>>
>>2589063
Sorry, I had posted just after he put up the demon reference, and hadn't read it yet. that was just my impression of keboro from our first interaction with him.
Seeing the reference now i think Vedek is the best option.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Looks like a tie between Setra and Vedek, so I'll roll to keep things moving. I'm not exactly a fast writer.

1 for Setra.
2 for Vedek.
>>
Now writing for summoning Vedek.
>>
>>2589063
>>2589073
+1
>>
"Alright, if you're sure, I know how to get in touch with one. I'll need to get some things." You get up to go retrieve the items you need from your room. "You can wait here." You pause in the doorway, then add "And if you change your mind, we don't have to do this."

Hannah smiles nervously, but shakes her head. "Thank you, but I won't."

You nod, then quickly duck into your room and dig out your ritual kit. You also have a few carved wooden figurines that you made to pass the time on the road to San Laurent. Those should suffice for a short summoning simply to answer Hannah's questions. Ibrahim sits up when he notices that you're bringing your ritual kit to Hannah's room, but thankfully says nothing. You're already tense, you don't need his sass right now.

Hannah watches intently as you begin preparing the summoning circle. You can see fear in her eyes, but also curiosity and anticipation.

"When he arrives," you say as you finish marking out the circle, "it's important to be polite. Demons appreciate respect from a summoner. After all, we're the one calling him to come here, the least we can do is be courteous about it."

Hannah nods. "Makes sense."

"Also try not to stare. It can annoy demons just as much as it annoys humans. This may be the first time you've met a demon, but it's definitely not the first time he's met a human."

"I'll try," she says with a shy smile. "That's all I can promise though."

With that, you speak the words and the offering burns away. The smoke takes the form of a small humanoid with wings. Between his gaunt build and a height of a grand total of two feet, he doesn't look too intimidating. Of course to a first time summoner even something small can be frightening if it is alien enough. Vedek, however, has only a few noticeably inhuman features, the most obvious being his large, bat-like wings.

"Hello Vedek." you say with a slight bow. While Hannah is busy staring at the demon, you quickly mouth 'Marcus' to Vedek in order to prevent any potentially awkward questions.

Vedek appears to get the message, as he replies "hello Marcus." He then looks over at Hannah, who realizes that she is staring when you definitely told her not to and quickly looks anywhere else. The earns a raised eyebrow from Vedek, but little else. "A new friend of yours, I presume?"

"This is Hannah, my new assistant. Hannah, this is Vedek, demon of the Third Circle."

"A pleasure to meet you," the demon says. "Any friend of Marcus is a friend of mine."

Hannah, for her part, does manage to curtsy despite her nervousness. "Nice to meet you too, sir."

"Hannah has heard about demons but never met one. She wanted to meet one for herself, to see if there was any truth to the stories."
>>
Vedek thinks this over for a moment, opens his mouth to say something that you're pretty sure wouldn't be very polite, but then shuts it again. Instead, he nods. "Fair enough. Well, you're usually good about compensation, so if this is on your tab, sure. I'll talk with your friend."

"Compensation?" asks Hannah.

"Demons don't work for free, we can't afford to. Being in the mortal world at all takes energy." Vedek steps back to the edge of the summoning circle and points down at the bowl in which you burned the initial offering. "That's why Marcus burned that little figurine, it was a sacrifice to make the trip worth my time."

Hannah blinks at that, perplexed. "Just that little figurine? You don't take people's souls?"

The demon chuckles slightly. "Girl, I couldn't take your soul even if you offered it to me, which you can't. Demons don't deal in souls, just sacrifice."

"What sort of sacrifice?"

"Lots of things. Anything that someone put time and effort into making, really. That or blood." Hannah starts to look a little frightened to hear that, but Vedek continues. "Doesn't need to be a person's blood, any animal's blood will work just fine, and it doesn't need to be lethal."

"You make it sound so... trivial." Then she says softly, like someone realizing that what they thought might sound a little silly spoken aloud, "The church says that you take a person's soul and torture it for all eternity."

"That church of yours says a lot of things about us." Vedek shrugs. "Honestly, it's not surprising. Mortals gossip, same as demons, and after long enough the truth and the gossip drift far enough apart that they tell completely different stories. The only people who torture souls are necromancers, and we don't deal with them."

They carry on for a few minutes, mostly Vedek briefing Hannah on the basics. While the Ephesian church claims that demons are the creations of mankind, Vedek explains that Solace, the being Ephesians call God, made Hell, and that all demons are simply outgrowths of Hell. Thankfully, the conversation doesn't linger on the topic of Solace. Given how touchy demons can be about Him, you're very grateful for that.

When it becomes clear that the conversation has shattered enough of Hannah's previous beliefs about the world that she'll need some time to process everything, Vedek turns back to you.

"So Marcus, aside from talking with your friend, was there anything else you wanted my help with?"

> No, pay Vedek and call it a night.
> Yes. Vedek is a growth demon and could make you tougher temporarily. That could help if the small god's followers come calling. It might be awkward to explain it to Hannah though, and you've already given her a lot to think about.
> Write in.
>>
>>2589207
>> No, pay Vedek and call it a night.
Hmm... unless someone has a better idea for a write-in, I think this the best way to end a great introduction, with her image of us maintained as it is. I think the benefit of getting some toughness immediately is outweighted by the benefits of not spooking her further tonight by showing her how we deal with demons regularly, yet.
>>
>>2589215
Supporting
>>
>>2589207
Does he deal in information? Could we gather info on the small gods around this place?
>>
>>2589207
>Write in.
If demons love gossip ask him if there's any interesting news from hell and then pay him for his time.
>>
>>2589207
>>2589215
Maybe we should have Vedek give Hannah some form of boon. Let her experience the positive effects of a demon's influence firsthand. Not necessarily the toughness perk, maybe like a trinket or charm
>>
>>2589207
> No, pay Vedek and call it a night.

Wrap it up for now.
>>
Seems like the winner is ask about some gossip, but otherwise pay him and call it a night.

Now writing.
>>
You shake your head. "That's about it." But then you think for a moment and add "Though if you've heard anything juicy through the grapevine, I'd pay for that."

After pondering for a moment what you might be interested in, Vedek says "You heard about the new Grand Mission?"

You nod. "Yes, I heard some mercenaries talking about it. Seems like things are getting serious."

"Right. Masharak is buzzing about it too. They know they're the target, and they're ready for it. Looking forward to it, even."

Puzzled, you ask "Why would they look forward to a massive invasion of their own lands?"

"The Ephesians will be fighting on Shar land," Vedek says. "The Shar see that as a chance to break the armies of Torien under favorable circumstances, then launch a counterattack." That startles you. Repelling a Grand Mission is one thing, but an actual Shar invasion of Torien? Vedek continues. "Between them and their merfolk allies, things are going to get ugly. The Shar have something new, some sort of smaller and more refined hand cannon. The city-states have already tested it in battle against each other, and seeing it in action is something else."

"That sounds disturbing," you say. The Shar might not be able to reach this far north, but there is still plenty of Torien that is warm enough for them. And the merfolk can strike much farther north, though only along the coast. Between the two of them, the vast majority of Torien's population would be threatened.

"There's another thing," the demon says. "There's a cabal of other demonologists in Torien, and they're planning something big."

Your brow furrows at that. Cabals of demonologists are rare inside Torien. Normally joining a larger group just means more chances to be discovered and broken on a wheel. If there's a cabal active in Torien, it must be for a reason important enough to risk a horrible death. But what?

"I don't know what exactly," Vedek says, "but it involves some kind of amulet that both the cabal and the Ephesian church are looking for."

Once again you're thankful that the Inquisition bans even talking to demons. If they were willing to relax the rules even a little bit, just enough to benefit from the gossip of Hell, they'd probably have the names of every demonologist in Torien inside a week. Instead, you have access to all this information and they don't.

"Thank you Vedek, you've been a great help," you say, offering Vedek another figurine.

The demon grins as he takes the wood carving. It burns away almost immediately after he has it in hand. "Pleasure doing business with you Marcus." He turns to Hannah and nods. "And you, Hannah."

Hannah is a bit overwhelmed by the entire experience, but she manages to say "Goodnight Vedek."

The demon smiles more gently this time, then vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Hannah sits down on her bed, and remains silent for a time. "A lot to take in?" you ask after a little while.
>>
Hannah opens her mouth, then closes it again. When she finally speaks, she's so quite you can barely hear her. "I knew that there was a lot I didn't know about the world. That's why I decided to come here with you. I just-" she fiddles with her hair as she searches for words. "I just didn't realize that what little I thought I knew was also wrong. Maybe I was wrong about everything." She looks down at her feet, her hair falling over her face. "Maybe I was wrong to leave."

You sit down on the bed next to Hannah and gently put a hand on her shoulder. "Is it wrong to see what's over the next hill," you ask softly, "just because you find something different from what you thought before?"

"No."

"Maybe you were wrong about things before." She looks over at you, a little puzzled now. "Maybe not. But right now you're out here, looking for the truth. That's admirable. That takes courage." You brush a strand of her golden hair out of her face and tuck it behind her ear.

She looks back at you with a shy smile. "You think so?"

"I know it. It took me a long time to come to terms with what I learned about the world. You're struggling with it now, but you'll get through it. And when you do, the whole world will open up before you."

Hearing that, her smile broadens, and the last bits of melancholy leave her eyes.

You grin at something you just realized, and it comes out of your mouth before you really consider the consequences. "This probably wasn't what you were expecting when you asked a man to work a little magic in your bedroom at night, was it?"

Hannah's face flushes red, and you're actually quite impressed by the speed and force with which she grabs you and shoves you out the door. "Goodnightmarcus" she says quickly and then slams the door behind you, leaving you out in the hallway.

Realizing that your ritual kit is still in her room, you knock on the door.

"Isaidgoodnightmarcus!" comes Hannah's voice from the other side of the door.

"But my things..."

"I'll give them back in the morning!"

You sigh, then walk back to your room. Ibrahim's eyes are closed, as before, but this time he is also smiling.

"You shut up," you say.

Ibrahim chuckles, but says nothing.

You collapse onto your bed and swiftly fall asleep.

You find yourself sitting at a table downstairs at the Giant's Thumb, drinking something that tastes vaguely like peaches. The entire rest of the tavern is empty, except for a dark-haired woman who walks over and sits down across the table from you.

"I have a business proposition for you," says Aisha.
>>
Sorry about the wait, that's all for tonight. I won't be able to run this Thursday, so the quest will resume Friday at 5pm EST, 2pm PST.

As always, I'll be around to answer any questions and I'd love to hear your comments.
>>
>>2589348
Who was aisha again? One of the smaller gods?
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>>2589362
An exalted of the small god Trokranok. She was the one poking around in your head previously.
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>>2589369

thanks man, see you
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>>2589348
Thanks for running OP, GOOD STUFF
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>>2589344
Man, this is warmest coziest demon summoning quest ever.

>>2589348
Thanks for running!
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>>2589492
>Man, this is warmest coziest demon summoning quest ever.
Agreed really helps that the demons and their offerings remind me much more of something like Loa rather than traditional demons.
>>
>>2589344
I like all your characters so far, they're all different from one another and fun. The 'demons' in your setting are interesting too, not just fallen angels trying to cause as much damage and misery as possible.
>>
Do you have a twitter DQM? Might help with turn out when you run and would make my life a lot easier if nothing else.
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>>2590473
https://twitter.com/DemonologistQM
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>>2590505
I was wondering could you sacrifice more esoteric things to demons? Like, for example, taking into account that music is art, what would count as a sacrifice and how potent would that be.

-Singing a popular song to the demon
-Singing a song to the demon that the demon didn´t know until then
-Singing a song that you have composed yourself to the demon, making him the first listener.
-Singing a song to the demon, giving it all the scores and copies of the lyrics, so it is the only one who knows it.
-Bringing an accomplished band or opera singer to interpret any of the prior.
-Organizing a concert exclusively for the demon

I mean, would doing an interpretation of already popular art count as a sacrifice, as a play or so, or perhaps it is only limited to certain demons who "consider" it a sacrifice. What would have more value, the shitty fanfic you spend hours writing or an overprinted classical piece which quality is renown?
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>>2590769
Additionally, does the emotional value that the demonologist gives to the sacrifice (spending two months of work for a landscape painting instead of just buying one it the market) influence on the value the demon gets back as sacrificial revenue?
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>>2590769
There are some strange sacrifices that do work, but the traditional ones are traditional because they tend to be the most convenient or efficient.

Music isn't a common sacrifice because the physical destruction of the sacrifice is required, and it's kind of hard to do that with a song. While composition sheets can sort of work, it doesn't really capture much of it and so it isn't a very efficient sacrifice.

>>2590770
The emotional value that the demonologist gives to the sacrifice is irrelevant, what matters is the person who made it. A demonologist can buy something off of someone else, sacrifice it, and gain the benefit of the maker's investment. In lands beyond Torien, there is a fair bit of cultural tension regarding the making of art for the purposes of sacrifice. It's kind of a downer knowing that this thing you've put time and effort into making is basically just fuel for a furnace, and it can create some really warped attitudes toward art.

Ironically, this leads to some people preferring blood sacrifice because they actually see it as less dubious. The blood of a chicken is just a chicken's blood, no more, no less.
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>>2590810
Does the maker´s skill matter for the purpose of the sacrifice or just the effort invested? Would a toddler´s finger painting ever equate to the Mona Lise, if both have the same amount of "soul" (effort, time.etc.) in them?

Also, do precious materials (gold, rare inks) give more value to the sacrifice, as they represent an investment (if only financial) of the artist in the piece?
>>
>>2590824
The maker's skill matters, albeit for somewhat roundabout reasons. The amount of time that a person has devoted to a craft across their life has a magnifying effect on the power invested into their work. A toddler's finger painting isn't worth much in part because the toddler hasn't been around for very long, and so there isn't this long history of work they've done in the past. If someone who spent a year training in a craft and made something in a day, it wouldn't be worth quite as much as someone who spent ten years training at that craft and made the same work in a day.

That said, some things that might be considered low quality work can absolutely still be a valuable sacrifice.

As for precious materials, those tend not to make a huge impact, with some exceptions. Precious metals rarely do much for a sacrifice, the value invested in them is simply too indirect and gets watered down along the way. They can help a little bit, but efficiency is generally low, and so you're almost always better off using that gold in commerce with other mortals. Rather than sacrifice something made of gold, you're generally better off selling the golden item because mortal humans care about that sort of thing more than demons. Then you use the proceeds to buy some wood and the services of an expert carver to make you a sacrifice out of wood.

Materials that themselves took devoted craftsmanship to make are much better for improving the value of a sacrifice. If a particular ink is rare because there just isn't much of it around, that won't do much. But if it's rare because the process of making it is hard as balls, that could do a lot more.
>>
>>2590835
How strong is a demon's sense of duty? Will a demon be willing to risk it's life to complete a deal that it has made?
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>>2590835
Good thing we picked up someone who has skill with textiles.

>>2590835
Given it's time and effort that increases the value of something, the maker's investment or so, does that mean that value increases correspondingly with many hands on them? Or would it stay as a flat combination of efforts?

I'm thinking stuff like statues (Renaissance works where they'd have teams of sculptors headed by the artist), busts, fine jewelry, and at the extreme of those examples something like Fabergé eggs, where there's almost always more than one person's work on the things. The same for many famous and large art pieces which had less skilled assistants working on specific details.

I'd ask about where architecture fits into this, but I'm not sure it's really possible to chunk off a pretty building and hand it to Tethis. Which leads into my last question, if the art is torn or defaced (painted over white in parts) does it lose a corresponding amount of sacrifice value?
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>>2590928
Someone is planning to summon a ninth circle demon to impress hannah.
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>>2590956
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>>2590894
They aren't magically obligated to fulfill deals unless you have their true name, but they usually try to fulfill deals for PR reasons
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>>2590894
Define "risk it's life." If a demon gets stabbed enough that its body dissipates, it simply reforms back in Hell. A demon would absolutely be willing to risk that, since it's no big deal to them.

But true, permanent death? Most wouldn't. There are some who might, but your average demon's sense of duty does not extend to dying for real.

>>2591244
Be careful about assuming that it's usually true though. There are a lot of demons that will try to cheat, some out of shortsightedness, and some because they know that a demonologist in Torien might not have much of a future. Some will do it in small ways, others in large ways, but a lot of them will try to cheat at least a little bit. The ones that Marcus deals with regularly are ones that he has found to be trustworthy. And the reason why it's a relatively short list despite there being millions of demons to choose from is that he's thus far only really added to that list view references, which adds a degree of safety. If you just picked a random demon out of a hat, you're probably not going to get something as trustworthy as Tethis or Vedek.

>>2590928
Team efforts are generally slightly less efficient, since the collaborative process can sometimes produce a sort of destructive interference in the investment of power. That said, it's usually not by much, and a group project can still make for a good sacrifice so long as it isn't too heavily divided.

Defacing or damaging art does diminish the value. It basically starts to "leak" the power that was invested in it. This is one reason why "fresh" art is generally preferred, since time will wear away at the work and thus eat into its value as a sacrifice.
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>>2591465
>the collaborative process can sometimes produce a sort of destructive interference in the investment of power.
Awesome. That means that some of the best sacrifices would be quick commissions by good artists that we could just pay for. Also means it's probably not too worth the money to repair old art, unless it's a fabulous work that's being refurbished by a fabulous artist, since just buying a piece would be more efficient.

It also answers where armors and swords fit into this, since in many things it seems to be the work investment into the end product that holds the power, rather than the parts that make it up. Things like dyes, paints, mosaics, or certain types of rope and thread, and proper smelting and iron quality, can take anywhere from ridiculous skill, specialized skills, or requiring specific industrial capacities to actually be worked.
In this, it's better of us to sell arms and armor we can't necessarily ascertain the value of and buy better things to sell/sacrifice. Also, it means the sort of outlandish pretty clothes a flaunty noble tailors to themselves would make a fairly valuable sacrifice.
>>
"Oh my," you say. "I know that ladies of the night are not frowned upon in the Empire as much as they are in Torien, but I didn't expect you to be quite this forward. Wouldn't you at least like a drink first? That should help wash out the taste of your previous customers."

"A business proposition," Aisha stresses.

"It's still a business," you say, sipping on your drink. "The oldest, as a matter of fact."

She sighs and rubs the bridge of her nose. "My master has instructed me to make you an offer. We have a job for which we are willing to pay you."

You raise an eyebrow and give the exalted woman an incredulous look. First she tries to go rooting through your memories, then when you turn the tables on her she starts mewling about a job offer? "Last night you were trying to invade my mind and dig through my memories. After that, why should I work for you when it would be so much more satisfying to watch you die broken on a wheel?"

"You are a demonologist." You start to object when she continues, saying "we've seen enough to know that." Her expression softens ever so slightly, like stone turning into hardwood. "I'm sure that you understand the need for secrecy when operating in lands under Ephesian control. If you had the ability to read the minds of others, wouldn't you use it to investigate what others know? To determine if they might be a threat to your cover and thus your life? We are in a similar position, you and I."

You scoff at that. "I doubt that very much, since I am not sleeved firmly around a dirt dragon's prick."

"Treating with the gods is forbidden here, just as demonology is, and I do not wish to be broken on a wheel any more than you do. Moreover, I have the safety of my congregation to consider, just as you are concerned for the safety of your companions."

"How noble of you to worry about people who are only in danger because you put them there."

Of all the things you've said so far, that seems to irritate her the most for some reason. "The blessings of the Earth Dragon have saved many lives here," she insists. "Mining is a hard and dangerous profession even with magic. Without it, a miner's life is likely to be brutal and short. But by the power of my god, with me as his representative, San Laurent has known prosperity, health, and happiness."

"And all it took was letting a shit-stained lizard pump you full of his power." You place a hand over your heart. "Truly, I cannot help but be touched by your virtue. Though I imagine that quite a few men have been touched by what's left of your virtue."

Aisha sighs again before speaking sternly again, trying to steer the conversation back to business. "We are willing to provide you with the summoning symbols of two demons whose skills we believe you will find useful."
>>
That intrigues you. An exalted would have access to any information their god wishes to provide, who in turn would be able to draw a wealth of knowledge collected by its followers over centuries. Aisha could theoretically provide you with the symbols needed to contact a wide assortment of demons that her fellow cultists have already determined to be trustworthy over the years. Your eyes narrow. But of course there is always a catch. "And what do you want in return for putting me in touch with these demons?"

"We want you to summon one of them for us and use it to solve a problem in San Laurent."

"If you have the symbols needed to summon them, why not simply do it yourself?"

"I am exalted," she says, holding up the diamond-shaped emblem hanging from the chain around her neck. "The Pax Deorum requires that I openly display my affiliation, and we do not want all of Hell knowing that there is an exalted in San Laurent. We do not have anyone else trained in demonology here, and it would take months to smuggle one in. You are a free agent, if you handled the deal it would not be immediately connected to us."

"So what is your problem, and what is the demon you want me to summon to deal with it?"

"A man named James Selkirk recently arrived in San Laurent. He is poking around here in ways that will almost certainly get him killed by errant magic leftover from the Great War. He is a son of a wealthy merchant clan and his death here would likely bring an investigation. To avoid that, we need him to leave San Laurent. The first demon that we will provide is capable of crafting mental compulsions. We want you to implant one that will make him agree to a deal that one of the locals will present to him, then leave San Laurent and travel to the town of Eronsreach. After the task is complete, we will provide you with the symbols for the second demon."

> Agree, but insist on her footing the bill for the sacrifice.
> Demand both sets of symbols in advance.
> Demand additional payment. (Specify)
> Demand something else. (Specify)
> Refuse.
> Inquire about something. (Specify)
> Write in.
>>
>>2591648
>Agree, but she foots the bill for the sacrifice.

I take it we really don't like the small gods.
>>
>>2591637

Wait. Why are we so unfriendly. I know they tried rooting in our mind but no reason to call them names and such.

I want to demand something more but I don't know what exactly we need. Money? Material wealth? Seems boring.
Magical power? They definitely won't make us an exalted.
Maybe demand some shit which will be useful for future sacrifices.

Anyway agree and make her foot the bill.
>>
>>2591637
Damn, I share Marcus' opinion of not liking small gods because they're basically pseudo-enslaving people through promises of power, protection, and good old worship and bargaining tenets of servitude, but geeze, he must still be quite mad at the whole completely unwarranted mind invasion thing that could've been substituted by talking over a drink in the first place.

>>2591648
At least it's not a terrible proposal... Hm. We'll have to explain ourselves to Ibrahim and Hannah, though, so that goes with voting for a deal.

>Agree, but insist on her footing the bill for the sacrifice
>Demand additional payment. (Specify)
Pay some silver, too. If she argues, haggle that diverting ourselves to solve this problem, even for the reward of more symbols, is going to take away from time we could be spending on making money through our cover job. In this way, we're being paid for the service and the opportunity cost to ourselves- a symbol to summon a demon we don't even know we'll make good use of isn't a compelling argument enough.

>Inquire about something. (Specify)
Ask how aware their congregation is of us, and what kind of defenses, if any, the noble Selkirk has. We saw that he had some guards, if that's it, then this won't become too complicated.
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>>2591687
We were excessively rude. Maybe apologize when we accept?
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>>2591679
>>2591687
I got the impression that people really didn't like the small gods and decided to run with that.
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>>2591711
I don't see them as too different from demons given what we currently know. I'd like to apologize for the rudeness.
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>>2591687
It's probably worth inquiring about useful magic trinkets as part of the trade as well.

>>2591711
I was thinking he had encounters prior to this that did not go so well. Likely Ibrahim, too, based on what he said. Then there's the whole having your mind looked into by powerful magic simply because somebody wanted to be cautious. Honestly, it could go either way.
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>>2591648
Agree with the caveat that they foot the bill for the sacrifice, like >>2591679 said. Also ask for more info on the second summoning sign.

I agree with apologizing for our rudeness and trying to establish the politeness and diplomacy that we use when dealing with demons, but let's not get chummy. This chick and her god are not our friends, and from I understand they never can be.
>>
>>2591648
> Agree, but insist on her footing the bill for the sacrifice.
> Demand both sets of symbols in advance.
> Inquire about something. (Specify)
What is the magic up the hill?

Also does the freshness of blood effect how good of a sacrifice it is?
Does one kind of animal make the best blood, or are they all more or less equal?
>>
What about we ask her of the name, of another demon in addition to the two promised?
>>
Might be wise to ask for more details about who exactly we'll be dealing with before anything else
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>>2591791
Seeeconding.
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>>2591791
Yeah that's probably wise
>>
>>2591648
>> Inquire about something. (Specify)
Ask about what the second demon's specialty is, just cuz
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>>2591711

voting for not apologizing, fuck her and the small gods
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>>2591867

I could settle for adoting a polite manner NOW that we are business partners, but not apologizing for what was said.

as for my vote this is good >>2591700
>>
>>2591711
It's less that I don't like the small gods, and more that I don't appreciate having our privacy endangered and being put in danger. I don't think we should apologize, but let's tone down the rudeness to just being stern. We don't have to like them but this is a business transaction all the same.

>>2591648
> Agree, but insist on her footing the bill for the sacrifice.
> Demand additional payment. (Specify)
Either silver, like >>2591700 said, or gems and jewelry we can hock later, OR some divine-ass trinkets. The more magic objects we have, the better, I say.
>>
Winner seems to be agree, but with conditions including:
- More info on Selkirk
- Info on the second demon's abilities
- Her covering the sacrifice
- Additional monetary payment
Also, I'll tone down the rudeness.
Now writing.
>>
>>2591932

I know anons want to tone down the rudeness and all, but I must say, really liked Marcus insults, he has talent. Looking forward to her pissing us off again so we can insult her some more.
>>
>>2591961
yeah DQ can write
>>
You mull the offer over for a moment before deciding that you need more information before you're willing to commit. First, the matter of the second demon. "What are the talents of the second demon?"

"Minor flesh sculpting, able to manipulate a person's external appearance," Aisha replies.

A little underwhelming, Remeer's illusions could generally handle similar things in an emergency, but that could still be handy under the right circumstances. Then there's the issue of what this job will actually require. "If I'm going to do this, I want to know what I'm getting into. What sort of defenses does this James Selkirk have?"

"He has a total of three bodyguards, all of them strong, experienced, and well armed, but entirely mundane. He also has an assistant who is mainly a scribe and accountant, plus a manservant. Including Selkirk, none of the six possess magical talent. They are currently staying at the local hunting lodge."

"And this compulsion, how will that work?"

"The demon will need to physically touch Selkirk in order to implant it, meaning you will need to get Selkirk and the demon in a room together. It cannot easily pass for human, so you will need to be discrete." Ah, that might complicate matters. You were hoping that you might be able to do it from a distance. "Tell the demon that you wish for Selkirk to agree to a deal proposed by a man named Gabriel Bauer and then travel to Eronsreach with haste. We also ask that you mention nothing of the small gods or myself to the demon. Our involvement here must remain a secret."

You spend some time pondering the deal. Three guards, an assistant, a servant, and Selkirk himself to deal with. A demon that needs to be very close to do its work, but can't blend in among humans. It could be tricky, but some of your own demons might be able to help deal with those issues.

"I'll agree on one condition," you say after a period of silence. "I want material compensation as well, both to cover the sacrificial costs as well as coin. You will be diverting me from my work as a merchant, after all, and I'm sure the mighty Earth Dragon can cough up some silver."

Aisha frowns, but says "Name your price."
>>
"I want 40 silver Trents in addition to the symbols and sacrifice."

She thinks for a moment, then says "I will agree to cover the sacrifice. Tomorrow I will send a man named David to meet with you. He will provide you with art and livestock that should be sufficient for the sacrifice. As for additional coin, we'll give you 5 gold Karens," she offers. That comes to roughly 30 silver. She raises a hand, index finger pointing up. "But only if you handle the matter this upcoming night, so that Selkirk will agree to the deal and leave the following day. If you take any longer, we will only give you the symbols and sacrifice."

"Agreed."

"David will be by your wagon around noon. Good day."

Both Aisha and the tavern around you ripple and distort, fading into a swirling mass of shadows. Your eyes slide open, and you're back in your room at the Giant's Thumb. The sun hasn't quite risen in earnest yet, but the sky is bright enough that some of the people of San Laurent have already begun preparing for the coming day.

You remember that you still need to get your ritual kit back from Hannah's room, especially if you're going to be summoning a demon for tonight. You also remember that she threw you out after you made a teasing remark and that she is definitely not a morning person.

You knock on her door. "Hannah? Are you awake?"

You're surprised to hear her say "Yes, I'll be right there."

That turns out to mean a bit longer than you think it should imply, but eventually Hannah opens the door. She doesn't look tired exactly, more troubled than anything else.

"I cleaned up from last night. Your things are over there," she says, point to the back of the room.

Sure enough, any trace of the summoning circle is gone, and your ritual kit has been carefully packed and sits on the room's second, unoccupied bed.

> Ask Hannah if she wants to talk about last night.
> Stick to business, she just needs some time.
> Write in.
>>
>>2592203
>> Stick to business, she just needs some time.
>>
>>2592203
>Stick to business
>>
>>2592203
>Stick to business, she just needs some time.
A return to normalcy to let her adjust properly is probably better than talking about how weird that shit was.
>>
>>2592203
Ask her
>>
>>2592188
So, summoning Remeer to illusion up our new boy might be the solid idea. As for getting close to the noble himself... probably just continue posing as a merchant? We already have cred built here from selling stuff, so pretending to act as an unassuming middle man to get him to shake our new demon's hand would probably be the idea.

I have some trepidation about these new demons though, we don't really know them. Or their attitudes. Any plan now is a toss up until we actually summon him and discover their personality. Also, it occurred to me she doesn't mention their names or specifics of how they may behave. Big Dirt probably didn't give her anything but the symbols out of caution.
>>
>>2592306
Depends on what our boy looks like, and how good the illusions are. We could potentially make him look like a small animal, like a cat or a dog.

Does the contact need to be skin-on-skin, I wonder?
>>
>>2592316
We'll definitely have to ask.
>>
>>2592328
It's also pertinent to know specifically what kinds of illusions he can make. Can he make it look like Mind Control Fella isn't there at all? Can he fool all five senses and make our target not even know he's been touched?
>>
Now writing sticking to business.
>>
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You decide not to press Hannah. She's probably still trying to work through the idea that the doctrine she grew up with might be wrong. Rethinking your entire image of the world isn't something that can be done in a single night. This will take time. The two of you head down to the wagon to prepare for the day ahead. Ibrahim is already there, and by sunrise you're ready for the coming onslaught.

Then the children descend upon you.

Having had a full day to convince both themselves and their parents that you're not a horrible monster who will steal them away in the night if they make eye contact with you, their curiosity has overcome whatever fear they might have had.

The first is a pair of boys, almost certainly more interested in showing each other up than actually talking to you. But the three that come after them seem genuinely interested in you, your wares, and particularly Ibrahim. It seems that they've never seen a Mashari person before. Soon more arrive, and before long there are a dozen crowding around Ibrahim. They begin bombarding him with questions, like how long it took for his skin to tan so much and didn't it hurt, or whether people from the south really keep scorpions as pets, or what the sun looks like from up close because apparently they think Masharak is physically closer to the sun.

The man looks at you desperately, helpless against the bouncing balls of energy and silly noises, many of whom don't even come up to his waist. You smile triumphantly, enjoying the sight before going to save him.

It doesn't take much to distract their attention form Ibrahim. Showing off a few trinkets from here and there, the spectacles you got in the Alkora desert, a spyglass from Dvergan, an arrowhead from Argashk, are enough to keep them focused on you. The boys seem most interested in hearing about the orc raiders of Argashk, while the girls are fascinated by your stories about the elves, both in Alkora and beyond.

Pick one.
> Tell stories about elves.
> Tell stories about orcs.
> Ignore the annoying pests, focus on COMMERCE.

If you chose stories, pick one of the following.
> Keep it factual.
> Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder.
> Spin wild tales about the outside world. What could go wrong?
> Answer according to Ephesian church doctrine.
> Write in.

Regardless of choice, roll 7d10 for the morning.
>>
Rolled 5, 6, 6, 10, 3, 10, 3 = 43 (7d10)

>>2592634
> Tell stories about orcs.
> Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder.
>>
Rolled 2, 10, 8, 5, 2, 3, 6 = 36 (7d10)

>>2592634
>about elves
>truthful

Phone posting is pain
>>
Rolled 2, 4, 1, 2, 9, 9, 1 = 28 (7d10)

>>2592634
>Tell stories about elves.

>Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder
>>
>>2592634
>> Tell stories about elves.
> Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder.
Hannah might be listening too
>>
>>2592306
There's a slight issue if this new demon ends up being particularly prideful in his appearance and is offended by the gesture.
>>
>>2592634
> Tell stories about elves.
> Keep it factual.
>>
>>2592634
>Tell stories about elves.
>Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder.

>>2592736
Honestly hadn't thought of that. After all, if Big Dirt is an extra real arse, these could just be trap summons he prepaid priorly to kill whoever summons them next specifically for the infrequent case of a traveling demonologist. Unlikely, extremely, but possible? Maybe.
>>
>>2592634
>>> Tell stories about elves.
>> Keep it truthful, but with a fanciful bent. Encourage their sense of wonder.
>>
Going with elves and truthful but with a fanciful bent.

Also
>>2592646
> 4 Successes = Major Success
Writing.
>>
"Ah, the elves, they're a strange people. They're not from around here, they're from far, far away."

"Like from Hapsbrook?" asks one of the children, a particularly young boy with freckles. Having looked at a local map, you're pretty sure he's talking about another town about forty miles from here.

"Oh no," you say. "Much farther away than that."

"Farther than the south?" asks another child.

"Even farther than that." You gesture to the south with a long, sweeping motion. "So far, you have to reach the end of the world and keep going." You raise your arm, point up into the southern sky. "Out there, past the end of the world, is the aether. And far past that was another world, the one the elves came from."

"Then how'd they get here?"

"Magic."

"Magic?!" a dark-haired girl blurts out, startled. "But Father Hammond says that's bad!"

"Ah, but the elves used sorcery. The demons and the false gods and necromancy are bad," you say, in a deep, dramatic tone mainly used for speaking of villains. Then you return to a gentler tone. "But the church teaches us that not all magic is bad. The Saints have magic, given to them by God. And then there are sorcerers, who use the magic of the aether. And there's nothing bad about the aether, it just is, like the mountains or the trees. And there's nothing bad about using stone from a mountain to build a house, or using wood from a tree to keep a fire going. So the church says that sorcery is okay."

In fact, one could say the same thing of demons, except that it would definitely be heresy.

A somewhat pudgy boy pipes up hopefully. "Then can I be a sorcerer?"

"Well," you say, trying to avoid crushing his hopes too hard. "Sorcery is really hard, and it takes a really long time to learn. Even if you started now by the time you could really do anything, you'd be old and gray." He gets a bit down at that, but all in all he takes it better than most do when they have their dreams crushed. "But the elves live a very, very long time, so they can become powerful sorcerers even though it takes a long time."

"How powerful?" another, taller boy asks.

"So powerful that they destroyed their own world, and all their homes, so they had to come and live here, on Oresa."

"Why would someone smash their own homes?"

You smile sadly at the innocence of the question. "Well, the elves don't all agree about what happen. They all say that it was one of them, using sorcery. But all the groups of elves all blame each other, and none of them will admit to doing it."
>>
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"Like the Toms and uncle Henry's old spear?" asks a girl at the back.

"No!" shouts a boy, presumably one of the Toms.

A second boy points to a third. "He's the one who broke it!"

"Nu uh," says the third. "You two broke it!"

You chuckle. "Exactly like that. But when they came here, all the good spots were taken. So God tried to find them a place to live. Some settled down in the far west, where the mountains finally end and there's another ocean. There God raised up new islands for them to live on. Some went far to the north," you say with an exaggerated shiver, clutching your arms close to you as if cold. "Where they built cities in huge caverns of ice and keep warm by sewing magic stones that are always hot into their clothes. And some went south, and live in towering cities of glass that they can turn to silver mirrors or to any color of the rainbow. Those cities are so shiny that they can hurt the eyes, which is why they make these."

With that, you take the tinted spectacles you were showing them earlier and place them on the face of a girl at the front of your audience. They're a bit too large for her, but she manages to hold them on to her face with her hands. "Wah?" She looks around frantically. "Everything's so dark!"

You smile. "Well, that's the point. It's so bright there that it hurts your eyes unless you find a way to make it darker." A few of the other children try to grab for the spectacles, but you manage to retrieve them from the girl before the others can take them.

"I hear the elves are really pretty," says a brown-haired girl.

You nod. "That they are. Slender and graceful and beautiful. Just watching one move is a treat, and watching one dance can take your breath away." You catch yourself getting a bit too wistful there, and quickly change the subject. "But if you look closely at them, you can see all sorts of strange things about them."

"Like what?"

"Well," you say, leaning toward your audience and lowering your voice slightly, as if telling them a dirty secret. "You need to look really close, so close that you need shaped glass to look even closer than your eyes can see. But if you can do that you can see that they don't really have hair."

"What?" a few of the children shout.

"They're bald?" asks the brown-haired girl. "But what's on their heads?"

"They don't have hair. They have feathers. Long, long feathers on the tops of their heads as soft as the softest down. You see, elves are a lot like birds. One of the reasons they're so light and graceful is that if you look in their bones, you can see that they're full of air." As you go on, the brown-haired girl steadily looks more and more horrified. "And their skin? That skin that looks so smooth and perfect? It isn't really skin either. They're covered in tiny smooth scales." The brown-haired girl gapes at you, shocked.
>>
Since she is momentarily too stunned to respond, a boy next to her pokes his head forward and asks "You mean like chicken feet?"

You point to him and smile. "Exactly like that."

"Elves are chicken people?"

"Well," you say with a chuckle. "They might not like to put it that way. But if you saw one get offended, they do get all puffed up like one," you say, pushing out your chest and stomach with your hands clutching your sides.

The boy next the brown-haired girl breaks out laughing and starts mussing her hair. "Kathy was getting dreamy about chicken people!"

She turns bright red and starts trying to grab at the boy's hands. "Shut up Matt!" she shouts.

You grin as the boy runs off shouting "Kathy loves chicken people! Kathy loves chicken people!" The brown-haired girl is close behind, trying in vain to cover the boy's mouth with her hands.

You look over at where Hannah and Ibrahim are handling the shop while you distract the children. You can tell from her eyes that Hannah is beaming at you, though she is covering her mouth with one hand to keep from laughing.

"Excuse me," says a voice from behind you. You turn and see a weathered looking man with a gray beard. "Mister Marcus? My name is David. A friend of mine wanted me to talk with you. She said you needed a few things. Please, if you could come with me?"

> Go alone.
> Go with Ibrahim, leave Hannah to mind the wagon.
> Go with Hannah, leave Ibrahim to mind the wagon.
> Refuse.
> Write in.
>>
>>2593042

Go alone. Leave Ibrahim with Hannah in case there are more of them. We should be able to get ourselves outside of a sticky situation with some extra help if needed.
>>
These are some weird ass elves.
Love it.

>>2593042
>>2593050
Seconding. Also, if they were planned something our murder sense would tingle.
>>
>>2593042
Go alone, he's probably with Aisha. Try to keep our eyes out for an exit in case there's trouble and we need to bolt.
>>
>>2593042
> Go alone.
>>
>>2593042
Ah, the innocence of Youth. Always refreshing.

>Go alone.
>>
>>2593042
>> Go alone.
These are some interesting elves.
>>
Consensus seems pretty clear. Now writing going alone.
>>
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You nod to David. "Alright, I'll be with you in just a moment." You walk over to Ibrahim and Hannah, who are wrapping up a deal with an elderly woman. "I need to go with David over there to work out a deal, can you two mind the shop while I'm away."

"I'll be fine," Hannah says with a sly smile. "Though I don't know if Ibrahim can handle the children for long."

Ibrahim already seems to be looking warily at the pack of children, like a deer watching a pack of wolves.

You wait until Hannah has turned back to talk with the older woman. "Don't worry my friend." You meet Ibrahim's gaze and very briefly put a stern look on your face. "Stay with Hannah." You motion with your eyes toward David, then continue. "I should be back soon."

Ibrahim seems to get the message, nodding slowly. When you turn back to David, there's a smile on your face again.

Stopping by briefly at the Giant's Thumb to retrieve your ritual kit, David leads you to a small building across the stream from the main market. It's a two-story building with a small first floor and substantial jettying on the second. Most of the actual ground of the plot seems to be dominated by a walled off section at the back. The sounds of several chickens can be heard from both inside and out back.

David opens the door and leads you inside. Though the chickens are by far the most vocal of the building's inhabitant, there are also a large number of rabbits, both inside and out back.

"You farm rabbits?"

"I do nowadays," the older man replies. "Even with help from... my friend, eventually the body just gets to old for mining."

A clear your throat. "Speaking of your friend, I take it she told you some of what I'm going to be doing."

He scoffs a bit at that. "Only enough to know that it'd be better if I don't know exactly what you'll be doing here. Apparently you need blood, and the rabbits here will do. Just please don't take the chickens, we need all the eggs we can get." He points over toward the corner of the room. "There's also a box on that table over there that she said to give to you."

Walking over to it, you open the small wooden box. Inside are a collection of wooden coins, a rolled up piece of paper, and an amethyst cameo, similar to some of the ones you acquired yesterday. The wooden coins are already marked with a set of symbols, which are also written on the piece of paper along with "Preferred name: Telemok, 4th Circle."

"If you plan on doing whatever it is now," says David, "I can wait outside."

> Summon the demon here, now. That will give you an idea of what sort of being you're dealing with, and then you'll be able to formulate more of a plan.
> Tell David you'll be back after dark. No sense in doing it now if you can't get it up to the lodge in broad daylight. Nightfall will make a lot of things easier.
> Ask David why he's helping Aisha.
> Write in.
>>
>>2593193
>Ask David why he's helping Aisha.
>>
>>2593193
>Ask David why he's helping Aisha
Then:
>Summon the demon here, now. That will give you an idea of what sort of being you're dealing with, and then you'll be able to formulate more of a plan.
Meet him before we need him, etc.

Last vote before I crash. G'night QM.
>>
>>2593193
>> Tell David you'll be back after dark. No sense in doing it now if you can't get it up to the lodge in broad daylight. Nightfall will make a lot of things easier.
Eh, I just prefer to summon demons at night more.
>>
>>2593193
>Tell David you'll be back after dark. No sense in doing it now if you can't get it up to the lodge in broad daylight. Nightfall will make a lot of things easier

Also, let's keep David out of the general area when we summon. If the demon sees him then it could blow operational security for Dirt Drake.
>>
It occurs to me that asking why he's helping Aisha can be rolled into the other options, so I'll just include that as well as whatever you guys pick.
>>
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>>2593193
>> Ask David why he's helping Aisha.
> Summon the demon here, now. That will give you an idea of what sort of being you're dealing with, and then you'll be able to formulate more of a plan.
Why not drain blood like in pic related, instead of killing.
>>
>>2593221
>>2593219
>Also, let's keep David out of the general area when we summon. If the demon sees him then it could blow operational security for Dirt Drake.
+1. What operational security?
>>
>>2593193

>>2593219
Second.
>>
>>2593228
>>2593219
Oh right the whole they don't want hell to be aware of their small godliness being here and all the hush hush stuff, yeah. Changing my vote to seconding leaving this.
>>
>>2593193
>Tell David you'll be back after dark. No sense in doing it now if you can't get it up to the lodge in broad daylight. Nightfall will make a lot of things easier
>>
>>2593221
If you're looking to get a small amount of regular blood, sure, you can do that. If you want a larger amount of last blood, which a 4th circle demon will probably ask for as part of its payment, you'll need to kill a rabbit or two. Also if you want to summon a second demon to help, that's probably also going to be necessary. They were going to eat them anyway.

That said, the "appetizer" to call the demon up in the first place probably won't take a fatal amount of blood.
>>
It looks like telling David you'll be back after dark wins. Writing (including asking about Aisha).
>>
>>2593254
I was thinking more about draining oxen and other work animals in the future, and was wondering if holy men might notice such things.
>>
Also this next story post will probably be the last for tonight.

>>2593263
> was wondering if holy men might notice such things.
Yes, that's generally the sort of thing that tips people off that there's a demonologist about. In part because outside of Torien that's a thing demonologists do all the time. Formally, even. Farmers (and slaughterhouses) outside Torien sell blood and the right to take blood all the time. While there's been a lot of talk about art as sacrifice in this thread, as I've mentioned before, a lot of people prefer blood sacrifice. It's a fairly simple thing in a society that has a lot of animals and doesn't get into thorny issues of the role of art and craftsmanship in society.

Fun side note: It's also a reason why whale migratory patterns are really important to merfolk tribes, many of whom practice demonology in addition to worshiping the small gods.




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