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The real Lamplighter thread.

Archives:
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Lamplighter%20Quest
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OuroQM
Questions: http://ask.fm/OuroQM
Character Sheet: http://pastebin.com/4TrWRPPq
>>
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Interlude


The broken sun sets once more on Dis. First city, city at the end of the world, the oldest and last bastion of humanity in a world that is reclaiming itself. And overseeing the city from their lofty position atop their tower of vice, one of the tools of that reclamation is having doubts.

Not doubts about anything important, of course. This creature, this monster, this beast of the Earth is occupied by something far more trivial.

The thing most commonly referred to the Paper Bridesmaid tapped a foot of the titular bridesmaid against the ground. At the same time, it let the serpent hiss its displeasure.

“A mild irritation,” the woman said. “When I let Maria off her leash, I didn’t quite expect this.”

The Bridesmaid looks out upon the world in eyes that live in every dice, in every twist of fate. The malicious fate spun by the earth spins out from it and to tell the truth, the woman and the snake are just formalities. Wherever there is misfortune, the Bridesmaid is there. That presence is just as real as anything else.
So it is not uncommon for the Bridesmaid to be many things at once. This is the natural state for what it is. To exemplify both essence and substance, to be a fractal thing where every piece of the thing is the whole thing and the truth of the thing.

But that didn’t mean its attention was equally vast. And now, due to its own intervention regarding the Golemist and Mother of Witches, it was finding it split.
“I thought that she was going to wait. I wanted time to watch it all.”
Sometimes circumstances are just damned inconvenient. To the mind of the Bridesmaid, to whom the suffering of an infinitude of humans and witches alike mean nothing, this was a serious concern.

But as much as it enjoyed the idea of witches bickering, the Bridesmaid had always only ever had one real character of interest in this entire sordid story...
>>
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The Thorn rises from the city around it, a spire of twisted wood that joins the rest of Dis’ towers in its makeshift urban canopy, forever reaching up towards a sun it itself had broken. This is the living tower of the Tangle Workshop and the nexus of the branch offices spread all across the city. This is where the Workshop works tirelessly towards the common good.
Not even you can deny that the Workshop does good. Their tonics, though of odd origin, sustain humans all across the city. Their doctors and medicine men tend to people for free as best as they are able. In all the powers of Dis, they may be the only one not in thrall to either the whims of dead gods or the rule of coin.

But they are monsters all the same and none of their supposed good deeds can weigh upon the scales of judgement you have brought to bear. You are here to claim their shard and even more so, to avenge the death and desecration of a comrade. Abe.
For the sake of a single good man’s death, you would put this whole damned city to the flame.

Tonight, the Thorn burns. It has already begun.

>Wick: 8/10
>Spark: 8/8

A wooden corridor thick with choking smoke and struggling bodies. You catch a sword with your gauntlet, one of the remaining pieces of your sacred runeplate and the man holding it makes the last mistake of his life: He doesn’t let go. You use the sword to pull him forward and with the runesword in your other hand, you run him through.
If he screams you do not hear it. You are deafened by the gunfire, of which there has been a constant barrage of in the background. The redcloaks at work.

You take a swing at a man not yet scythed down by the rifles. He tries to parry you with his own blade and falls to the ground a moment later, both man and sword bisected by runed steel. Behind you, the still-living wood is consumed by holy flame.

It had begun just ten minutes ago. You and the redcloaks had gotten into position on a bridge spanning alongside the Thorn itself, a position with a clear view of its major apertures into the city beyond. From there you had waited, meditating as best as you could until you saw the security forces of the Thorn scramble. Troops mobilized, marching out of the Thorn and out towards... Beatrice. She had done her job.


From there it had been just a matter of flame. And your greatest allies? The sinful flame of your former enemies. Several barrels of Consortium green flame, looted off a shipment and now far more valuable than they had ever been before, charged with a spark from the burden upon your back, proved an ample means of blasting the front doors open.

The Workshop had thought themselves your betters. They had convinced themselves that they could divine your every moment from Beatrice. And in their arrogance, they never expected you to be in two places at one. The front gates of the Thorn had been barely defended.

1/3
>>
>>2714816
And now the Thorn was burning and though it didn’t burn easy, you had flame to spare. The corridors were thick with a smoke that stung the eyes and in the enclosed halls of the Thorn, would kill a man as easy as any fire. You and the redcloaks were riding just ahead of it, safe from its effects as its vanguard.

Alex leads the band, rifle in hands. None of them are particularly well trained in the weapon, having had little beyond the basics taught to them. But they had been basics taught by the best and the cramped corridors suited them well. Every hall was a killing field, a narrow channel through which the only option for the remaining Thorn security was to run in a straight line through a hail of bullets.
Of course, the Thorn was twisted and filled with a dozen little rat warrens. The guards tried to sneak behind the redcloaks through the use of maintenance tunnels and side-paths. And that was where they came face to face with you.

The redcloaks held the wider tunnels well with their firing line and you stopped anyone trying to cut around behind them by virtue of jamming up the narrower paths and doors with your own body. They outnumbered you greatly but what use was that in such a variety of chokepoints?
And every time the redcloaks had finished their work in the hall beyond, you retreated and led your pursuers into the sight of the rifles. And then you advanced forward and it all began again.

You were barely keeping ahead of the smoke and the smoke made sure the halls you cleared before stayed clear. Even if a man could brave the spreading fire, they all still had to breathe. These are old tactics, a long-forgotten means that you had once been taught by a man who was now dead in a Watchtower that was now rubble. Fire was always holy but when you needed to clear out a cave full of witches or cultists, smoke was stronger. Smoke them out and then slay them as they fled.
You couldn’t do that to the Thorn, it’s much too big. But though it was a little different, the principle remained the same.

You take a man’s head from his shoulders, the sweep of the Magisterial sword carving a line in the wall behind him as easily as it parted flesh. And then another guard rushes past their still-falling corpse and grabs hold of your arm! Momentarily pushed back and with your sword under their control, you hear a now familiar whipcrack sound.

2/3
>>
>>2714818
This doorway is too narrow for more than one person to rush you effectively. That’s the only reason you’re even fighting here in the first place. But cracking out past the guard’s shoulder is the lash of a vine, the living whips held by officers of the Workshop’s security force. The tip lashes you across the face and you curse the loss of your helmet as your vision fills with blood. It didn’t get your eyes but it’s split the skin of your forehead wide open.
Taking advantage of your disarray, the guard holding your arm pushes you to the side and pins you against the wall. The next time the whip comes again, it will be closer and more likely to leave its poisonous thorns embedded in your flesh.


>You’re bigger than the guard. Just keep your head down and endure the whip while you kill this one with your bare hands. (Easy roll but you will take damage and be poisoned)

>Try to simply shove the guard out of the way and rush the Thorn Captain (Medium roll)

>Try to drag the guard into the way of the whip as many times as possible. (Hard roll, greater effect if you succeed)

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2714822
>>Try to simply shove the guard out of the way and rush the Thorn Captain (Medium roll)
>>
>>2714822
>Try to simply shove the guard out of the way and rush the Thorn Captain (Medium roll)
>>
>>2714822
>Try to simply shove the guard out of the way and rush the Thorn Captain (Medium roll)
>>
Alright, I can't really blame people for being less enthusiastic considering how hard I flaked before.

Vote called, writing.
>>
>Try to simply shove the guard out of the way and rush the Thorn Captain (Medium roll)

You wait for the whip to be pulled back before you make your move, swinging your other arm around and grabbing hold of the guard’s shoulder. You don’t need to deal with this one yet, not when the true threat is beyond.

With them slightly pushed back but still clinging to your swordarm, you have the room to raise a leg and kick them in the abdomen. They let go, clattering against the wall as you push past them. You divest yourself of your sword in the process, driving it into the wall for you to retrieve later. It’s a fine blade, better than any you’ve ever known, but it’ll be no good at stopping a whip.

With your staff raised, you rush forward!

>Roll 1d6. The first 3 shall be used to model different stages of Orion’s action.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2715122
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>2715122
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2715122
>>
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>6,2,6

Roll called. And since you're using the staff, it gets moved around to 6, 6, 3.
>>
Sorry about the delay on this one, been eating. Future ones will be faster.
>>
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>6, 6, 3

The guard scrambles for you as you push past him but you give them another kick as you step past their fallen body. The hall before you is narrow and dark and clouded with smoke. You won’t be able to see the whip coming and even though you can hear it, you can’t hope to react in time.

You’ve fought whips before. The whipcrack is a strange thing. By the time you hear it, the whip has already moved.

So instead you just hold your staff up diagonally before you, keeping your head down as you advance and doing your best to present as little a target as possible. Getting poisoned won’t be the end of the world but it’s hardly ideal! Hopefully the staff will catch it but that’s pretty much all you can count on.

You see the Thorn Captain up ahead and as you do, you hear the whip. Your staff catches the thorny vine, forcing it to wrap around it instead of you. Its thorns click uselessly against the steel of the Duke’s stolen tail as you swing it and the whip into the wall.
The Captain stumbles forward just a bit before dropping the whip just in time for you to slam the butt of your staff into his chest. Armour doesn’t do much against a sufficiently blunt impact.

You knock him back and step forward, using the staff to pin one of his arms to the wall and then swing the other end up around into the thin space where the armour of his breastplate meets the armour of his helmet. He drops to the ground in a limp heap.

A shrill cry manages to actually pierce the rifle-inflicted buzzing in your ears and you turn to see the guard you had knocked aside earlier pulling the runeblade from where you had left it in the wall! They swing it at you clumsily, clearly unused to the sword’s exceptional balance and weight.

But as deadly a blade as that one is, it doesn’t have much on a staff when it comes to reach. You use the flexibility of the Duke’s tail to your advantage as they charge in, swinging your staff out and even as they step back, the tail simply bounces of the wall and whips back around to catch them in the back of the head with a crunch you feel more than you hear.

Your ears are just beginning to clear as you head back towards the redcloaks. The sounds of their rifles have slowed, indicating that they must nearly be ready to move on. You just have to rejoin them and watch their backs as they do so.
With this method, and with the smoke rising behind you, you will clear the Thorn out.

“Orion!”
Alex’s voice is tinny in your ears as you rejoin the main corridor, blood still seeping from your forehead. You sweep it out of your eyes as best you can.
“Are you alright?”

The hall is filling with smoke rapidly rising from the stairwell behind you. But what it has more of are corpses. A rifle against anything else really isn’t a fair fight, not in a city and an age where nobody is expected to be able to use one at all. But you’re not here for fair.
>>
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>>2715471
None of the redcloaks look in too bad of a shape. Grimy, sweating, sure. A few cuts and scrapes. But altogether, the rifles had done their job well. The exception to all this however was Alex. She stands tall as she is able but you can see the open cut along her collarbone where her coat had been split open. It’s been hastily bandaged but not well.
“Don’t worry about it,” she says. “I just caught a whip. It’ll be alright.”

“Were there any thorns in it?”
It hurts to talk. As much as you’ve been trying to ride ahead of the deadly tide, the smoke has taken a toll on you.

“One. We dug it out just fine before it could do anything.”

You sigh.


>”Just tell me if you start feeling sick.” You need to advance before the smoke catches up.

>”We can wait a moment. Let me see the wound.” Not again. Not ever.
>>
>>2715476
>”We can wait a moment. Let me see the wound.” Not again. Not ever.
>Secure the forward areas, fall back if they send more enemies after you man.
>>
>>2715476
”We can wait a moment. Let me see the wound.” Not again. Not ever.
>>
>>2715476
>”We can wait a moment. Let me see the wound.” Not again. Not ever.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
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>”We can wait a moment. Let me see the wound.” Not again. Not ever.

The hallway is lit only by the flickering torches some of the redcloaks are carrying, with more scattered across the ground and starting small fires. Down the stairwell behind you all is a deep red glow. The windows, such as they are, shed only the pale crimson light of the moon. In this mix of light, everything looks distorted and the faces of men can become those of monsters.

You lay your hand on Alex’s shoulder and shake your head.
“No, I think not. We still have some time so let me see it.”

She frowns.
“It’s not like...him. We know what those whips do. They make you feel dizzy and then you want to puke. I haven’t been feeling that.”

You initially ignore her, lifting her cloak off her shoulders.
“I’m not taking any chances. Do you understand?”

She purses her lips for a moment before giving you a look of exasperation. Her eyes are red-rimmed from the smoke and her face is covered in soot.
“...Thanks.

>Wick: 8/10
>Spark: 8/8

You lay a hand upon her bandaged shoulder, feeling her shudder beneath your touch. Moments later your hand shines with a pearlescent outline as you channel forth Benediction. It doesn’t matter if she’s truly poisoned or not. Just purge it out. From this day forward, you’ll be taking no more chances.

>Wick: 7/10
>Spark: 8/8

Alex closes her eyes as you burn all taint from her body.
“Did it work?”

“I don’t know if there was anything to purge. But whatever it was, you’ll be just fine now.”

“Huzzah,” she says tiredly. They all look tired. “Now I only have to worry about people trying to murder me.”

“Has that been a problem?”

She shrugs.
“When we’ve got rifles? Not really. We aren’t out of bullets yet. I almost feel bad for them. Almost.”

You turn to face the rest of your followers.
“Redcloaks! You’ve done well.”
It doesn’t sound as impressive as you intended. The smoke has reduced your voice to a croak.

For their part, the redcloaks aren’t too impressive either. Only a few can muster a cheer. The others are either exhausted or have a wild-eyed look to them that you can’t place.

“We’ve gained ground into the Thorn!,” you continue. “Now it’s time we put it to use.”
You strip a gauntlet off and hold your hand to the smooth bark of the wall. It can be hard to feel with the heat of the flame and the rush of blood but there is a distinct warmth. A warmth that runs through the entire Thorn.
“It is here. I can feel it.”

1/2
>>
>>2715662

>Take the main stairwell and use that to go up level by level until you find something.

>It’s time to take a proper prisoner who you can interrogate.

>Use the Black Compass. The Workshop might be run by witches but you’re damn sure they employ them.

>Try to get a grip on where people are retreating to or where they are gathering most. Where else would that be but the core of the Thorn itself?

>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2715666
>>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way
>>
>>2715666
Shard is priority
>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way.
ONLY IF IT DOESN'T HURT US OR OUR REDCLOCKS

If it does,
>Take the main stairwell and use that to go up level by level until you find something.

Our main priority is the shard, everything else is irrelevant
>>
>>2715675
Oh, it'll hurt you. Not as much as drawing on its Wick but still.
>>
>>2715666
>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way.
>>
>>2715666
>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way.

While roasting our hands more is bad, it seems like the most expedient way to get what we're here for (revenge aside).
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>Unveil the lamp post and let like call to like. You know the shards call to one another. If the shards in the lamp were to make contact with the essence spread throughout the Thorn, it would surely lead the way.

“This may tempt you,” you say as you unhook the burden from your shoulders and lay it gently upon the ground. You can feel the warmth radiating out from it even now. “But avert your eyes!”

Only when you’re sure that every redcloak has cast their gaze downwards do you unveil the lamp. The corridor abruptly fills with a heat that feels almost like a physical force as you lift the burning flesh of God up above your head.
You can already feel the pain beginning to start. The holy flame is too pure even for you to bear. Any protection against flame, whether they be magical or not, holds no barrier against the contents of the lamp post. At its touch, stone may burn.

Exhaustion evaporates as the redcloak sing your praises. You bring the lamp post around in a slow swing until the head of it, shining like the sun itself, brushes against the flesh of the Thorn. And when it does the wood does not burn.

Instead a spiderweb of light rises up from the surface of the wood to meet it. Fire calls to fire. Capillaries and channels within the wood itself are revealed, shining through it as if it was transparent. And as you hold the lamp steady, they spread. Channels of soft light spreading all throughout the wood at your side and beneath your feet like a night with too many stars.

The Thorn is absorbing it. It is taking the light into itself. And as it does so, you see the light being spun from the lamp being pulled through the walls of Thorn in a particular direction. The walls and floor of one particular corridor light up, a current of light being pulled through it towards the heart of the beast.

“God has shown us the way forward,” you croak, pain lancing through your arms. “Follow it.”


>Put the lamp post away now. You may have to fight because of that but the path shown to you now will not fade so easily.

>Keep the lamp out. It should ensure that none will oppose on your climb through the Thorn, even if it will exact a permanent toll.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2715829

>Put the lamp post away now. You may have to fight because of that but the path shown to you now will not fade so easily.
>>
>>2715829
>Put the lamp post away now. You may have to fight because of that but the path shown to you now will not fade so easily.
>>
>>2715829
>Put the lamp post away now. You may have to fight because of that but the path shown to you now will not fade so easily.

I wonder how many times we can whip Him out before our poor barbecued hands are fall-off-the-bone tender.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
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>Put the lamp post away now. You may have to fight because of that but the path shown to you now will not fade so easily.

And with the Thorn drinking in the light, you lay the broken lamp post back down upon the floor and cover it from view. Sparks dance before your eyes as you blink, the light leaving illusion in its absence. But even as those motes fade, the light etched onto the walls of the Thorn does not.

The pain is briefly too much for you to speak but Alex takes up your role with gusto.
“The path has been laid out for us!,” she shouts with a hoarse tone. “We’re nearly done! The eye of the Wheel is on us!”
It is perhaps a little comforting, you think as you desperately shake feeling back into burning hands, that you have found others to lift your burden should you ever fall. But you shake that thought off as the moment of weakness it is. You can’t risk this falling to another. You can’t ask that of anyone else. You have been dragging this behind you for thirty years. To let it slip in the final few days will remain as big of a failure as if you’d fallen at the very start. It must only be you.

But as the light draining through the Thorn leads you up further and further, it leads you to the one part of the Thorn while the rifle might not reign supreme. The grand central stairwell runs all throughout the main trunk of the Thorn and in its twisting spiral, is almost completely free of the long corridors or open spaces that have granted the redcloaks victory up until this point.
You had heard about it from Beatrice and had decided to avoid if it at all possible, to take the lesser stairs from level to level.

But now it is before you and every facet of the stairs shine with stolen light. It flows towards it and then up it and why wouldn’t it? Though they must have added stairs to disguise it or otherwise lend it use, this great internal hollow stretching from the base to the tip must be the central capillary from which all the rest of the Thorn draws upon.
And though most of the guards are absent or are tending or fleeing the fire and the smoke or have been scattered before your guns, the stairwell is not yet undefended. And without the baneful lamp-post to make them unto ash upon the wind, they will oppose your ascent.
>>
>This is a contested effort between Orion and his redcloaks and the remaining members of the Capillary Guard.
>The redcloaks have two members capable of rolling for this action, Orion and Alexandra. They may then make any concessions they wish during the following bargaining stage.
>If they reach 21, they will reach the end of the lightridden road and begin their attempt to breach.

>The Capillary Guard has two members capable of rolling for this action, the Guardsmen and a Thorn Captain. They are in a state of panic and have already made all possible concessions. They can make no more.
>They will roll after the redcloaks and will attempt to reduce their score to 0. If they do, the way ahead is barred.

>Warning. Smoke is still rising...
>>
You run ahead of the rest, stave and sword at the ready to draw any stragglers away from the redcloaks following you. Your heart and mind are united in a constant beat of adrenaline that drowns out the pain and lets you ignore the scabbed over wound upon your face. Lets you ignore every hit you’ve taken, every gasp of ever-present smoke, every divine burn.

You are uttering what has become a constant prayer in your adventures as of late. That if you should be struck down, just let it be done after you are finished! Anything can happen to you then and you would accept it. Just let it be after the sun is made whole.
And until you have seen the new day, you will continue to fight.

You kick a straggler off a balcony and let them fall into the abyss below but as you do so, the sound of shouting up ahead alerts you to something horrendous. There are still Workshop men up above with fight left in their hearts.
You’ll have to do your best to deprive them of the notion.

>Roll 1d6 for Orion’s contribution to the Collective Effort. The first 3 shall be totalled.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>2715981
Time for 6 1s
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2715981
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2715981
>>
>4, 2, 2

Writing.
>>
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>4, 2, 2
>8

It doesn’t take long for you to get their attention, even with the smoke rising up behind you. There must be at least twelve of them, lead by yet another guard in a fancy helmet with a poisoned whip. You’ve fought them before, some of them even today. It’s starting to feel routine.

Once they see you, you let yourself slip back past the bend of the stairwell. Sprays of some clear fluid splatter against the wall behind you as you do , raising clouds of steam. And that is what stills you for just a moment. Your plan had been to lead them back down to the redcloaks, to try and maximise the guns for best effect. But now you’re suddenly not so sure.

You don’t know what those spitters do but you doubt it’s nice. And with ricocheting sprays, they’re much more accustomed to fighting in a tight spiral than any rifle could be. You might be leading them towards a gunfight they actually can’t win.

So with that in mind, you stop, reverse and wait. You risk another look and see the source of the shots, creeping doglike creatures with long matted fur. Mixed in with the fur are shaking tendrils of plant matter sprouting up from the animal parasitically and culminating in a long-beaked bulb atop their backs ringed by seven too-human eyes. Steaming spit glistens in beads down the hinged jaw of the bulb as they swivel around chaotically in search of you. There are three of them, led on leashes by guardsmen.

It looks like you’ll have to take these creatures out before the redcloaks can join in. To do anything otherwise...is not worth thinking of. It can only be you. It is only ever you.

>Before Orion’s roll is finalised, you may choose an option during the bargain step to modify his roll.

>Give it your all. Add an additional dice to roll at the cost of exhausting Orion until he can Benediction himself.

>Launch an Immolate up the stairwell. Add a bonus equal to the amount of Wick spent.

>They’re clustered up, it should only take a little stavework to get this done. Add +1 to all rolls at the cost of damaging Orion’s current staff.

>The rest of the men don’t matter, the redcloaks can handle them. Focus on removing the spitters only at any cost. This grants Alex a +2 bonus to all rolls at the cost of a moderate risk of Orion being injured.

>None. This is fine.
>>
>>2716021
>Launch an Immolate up the stairwell. Add a bonus equal to the amount of Wick spent
3
>The rest of the men don’t matter, the redcloaks can handle them. Focus on removing the spitters only at any cost. This grants Alex a +2 bonus to all rolls at the cost of a moderate risk of Orion being injured.
>>
>>2716021
>>They’re clustered up, it should only take a little stavework to get this done. Add +1 to all rolls at the cost of damaging Orion’s current staff.
>ignite weapon: immolate
A 1d4 immolate should be enough, but im okay with adding another Wick or 2 on top of that.
>>
>>2716021
>The rest of the men don’t matter, the redcloaks can handle them. Focus on removing the spitters only at any cost. This grants Alex a +2 bonus to all rolls at the cost of a moderate risk of Orion being injured.
>>
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Alright guys, I'm going to have a bit of a rest for a few hours. I'll be back later tonight to continue the Collective Effort and the vote will remain open until open until then.'

Sorry about the first day of the thread being so slow.
>>
>>2716021
>Launch an Immolate up the stairwell. Add a bonus equal to the amount of Wick spent
3
>The rest of the men don’t matter, the redcloaks can handle them. Focus on removing the spitters only at any cost. This grants Alex a +2 bonus to all rolls at the cost of a moderate risk of Orion being injured.
>>
>>2716024
>>2716177
I know that Vanilla immolate has the advantage of range, but Ignite->Immolate will cost largely the same and leave us with a burning stick in the same span of time.
>>
>>2716195
What do you mean by "Ignite->Immolate"?
>>
>>2716207
>With the Ducal Firecrafting honing it, additional Wick can be spent when activating this Rite to store another Flame Rite or Benediction within the ignited object.
Ignite Weapon->store an Immolate in it

And with his additional upgrade on Immolate, we can ricochet the Immolate to go for the Spitters or whatever else we want to hit.
>>
Alright, I'm back. Writing.
>>
>>2716211
I don't see the point of this ability to be honest. What's the difference between storing a power for later and just casting it later?
>>
>>2716244
Honestly? It didn't really have a point until you got Dead King's Crown which made it relevant since it let you use free Wick points. That's most of the reason why I made Dead King's Crown at all.
>>
>Launch an Immolate up the stairwell. Add a bonus equal to the amount of Wick spent
>3
>The rest of the men don’t matter, the redcloaks can handle them. Focus on removing the spitters only at any cost. This grants Alex a +2 bonus to all rolls at the cost of a moderate risk of Orion being injured.

It doesn’t take you long for you to come up with a plan. Not that you have the time to think in the first place. Your actions are dictated by a series of perpetually ticking clocks, none of which are truly under your control. The descending guardsmen, the ascending redcloaks behind you, the thickening smoke…
It would only take one of those catching up to you for all this to end in disaster.

So with that in mind, you unsling your wick and round the corner once more with it held out in front of you. You are already drawing forth the Flame Internal before you even see them so their first sight of you again is a gout of liquid flame spraying forth and up the stairwell!

>Wick: 4/10
>Spark: 8/8

The fire clears a path for you to charge forth, wick clattering to the ground as you raise your staff! You don’t need to worry about anything else. These men are but fodder for the guns. As long as you can remove these abominations, the rest will be taken care of.

>11/21

>Roll a d100. On a 40 or less, Orion is injured. Only the first roll shall be accepted.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d100)

>>2716248
Glad I could wake up to see a new thread
>>
>>2716251
welp
>>
>>2716248
rolling just in case
>>
Rolled 3 (1d3)

>>2716248
>>2716254
wait, what the hell?
>>
>>2716251
Accepted. Incidentally, it's ironic that I just mentioned Dead King's Crown because I forgot/ to ask for a roll for it in regards to the Immolate.

Feel free to provide a 1d3 roll, anyone. I'll accept the first one.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d3)

>>2716258
>>
>4

>14/21

The first of the spitters meets an abrupt end at the end of your staff, the tip of the Duke’s tail swinging around in a long arc and smashing its blunt stump of a head into a pulpy mess. There’s no bone. And as its host dies, so does the hideous bud sprouting from its back.

You jump a step to avoid a gobbet of acid and then you sweep the legs out from underneath the offending creature, sending it rolling down the stairs. With the guards still recoiling from the torrent of flame you had unleashed ahead of you, that gives you the time to grab hold of the third spitter and, ignoring how its tendrils seem desperate to wrap around your gauntlets, you toss it over your head and down the full length of the Thorn’s hollow interior. You don’t hear it hit the ground.

The remaining spitter has caught itself and gotten back up on malformed legs but it made the mistake of doing it much too early. It didn’t roll far enough away. You break the jaw of the parasitic bulb with one good swing and watch as acid spills helplessly forth to dissolve its own whimpering host.

You know not from whence these creatures came but they are no more. And with that-

One of the soldiers stabs you in the back. Of course. You don’t have your breastplate anymore. How could you be so foolish…
You look down to see the edge of bloody metal poking out through the front of your stomach. It punched right through.

You fall to your knees with deliberate effort, wrenching the blade out of his fingers and letting it stay in the wound. The only thing worse than getting stabbed in the back by a sword is...is letting them pull it out again. At least this way it’s still plugging the wound a little.

And as another soldier approaches, apparently believing your fall to be accidental, you leap from your crouch and grab him by the waist, spear tackling him and carrying you both down the stairs. He gets the worst of it but you have a sword sticking out of you so you’re ready to call it even. The two of you hit the landing as a tangle of limbs and an entire universe of pain.
This isn’t going to end well. You can only hope that Alex gets here in time...
>>
>>2716268
**********

By the time you catch up to the Lamplighter, he is lying almost insensate on the landing with a corpse as his only companion. And all around him are Workshop thugs.

Your name is Alexandra. But that is only one of the names people have had for you over the years. They also include things like urchin, scum, thief, whore, liar, cultist, thug and fanatic, not to mention a wide range of epithets you don’t even want to think of now. And on the flipside, some would call you holy or a soldier of God. Chosen by the Wheel.
You vastly prefer Alex.

But there’s no time for introduction in a place like this, where the smoke stings almost as bad as the godlessness that echoes forth from every fiend here that pretends to be human. And Orion...Orion! At first when you see him, you think him dead. You’ve seen plenty of corpses after all. Would one more be that important?
Even if it was the greatest man to have ever lived? The man who destroyed your life and in doing so, created it?

But you also know he’s too much of a bloody-minded arse to die that easily.

“Fire!”

>Roll 1d6. The first 3 shall be used for Alex’s roll. Alex has a +2 modifier to all rolls.
>>
Rolled 5 + 2 (1d6 + 2)

>>2716275
>>
Rolled 6 + 2 (1d6 + 2)

>>2716275
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>
Called.
>>
>7, 8, 6

>35/21

********

The light is just about to pass from your blurred vision when you hear the gunfire. This close, in this confined of a space, it sounds almost like the Wheel God himself. But it is not of course. Just one of his servants.

The next thing you see is Alex as she gingerly rolls you over, the sword still embedded in your gut. Her worried face swims in and out of your vision.
“Are you alright?”
What a stupid question to ask someone like you.

“I’m fine,” you grunt, more in belief than in certainty. “The lamp! Do I still have it! Is it still there?”

“Yes! You...You have a sword in you.”

“Nothing important.”
With Alex’s height you slowly lever yourself into a sitting position. You’ve lost quite a lot of blood. Looking at the dark red puddle pooling all around you makes you feel ill so you look anywhere else instead. The redcloaks are standing around you but none save Alex have dared to touch you.
“I’m going to need your help, Alex.”

“What? I mean, sure! What is it?”

“One of you get a bandage ready! Something good!”
And then, speaking quietly just to her.
“I’m going to need you to grab hold of this thing and pull it out of me.”

You don’t think that had been the answer she had been wanting. Still, she only screws up her face. She doesn’t falter or back away.
“Okay. Should I do it now?”

“Hold on. Let me walk you through it. This is...this is important. Can you see the hilt? I can’t see it but I know it’s sticking out my back somewhere.”

“I see it.”

“Good. Now, don’t grab it just yet. Just rest your hand on it. Curl your fingers around it. Don’t put any weight on it!

She does her best. In return, you do your best to suppress the jolt of pain that she causes anyway as the sword within you moves just a barest fraction of an inch. You don’t need her to see that she’s hurting you. Some hurt has to be done.

“I’ve got it.”

“Back off everyone. Give her some room. Secure the perimeter or...or something.”
Your breath, and thus your words, is coming in short and hard gasps now. This next part could make or break your entire life and with it, that of the world. And right now the crux of the matter isn’t even in your hands.
“You’re going to pull the sword out Alex but you can’t move it. You just need to pull it straight out in the same angle it came in. Don’t let it twist in your grip or drift further down, it’ll just tear up more of...more of me. Do you hear me? Right out of the way it came!...Please.”

1/2
>>
>>2716326
This is a dire wound but it is not, theoretically, a fatal one. Not for you. The Wheel God blessed your people with an unmatched talent for survival and with that came the ability for flesh to knit and the body to make itself whole. And you, you’re better than most at that. If you hadn’t been you would have died long ago in the wasteland.
But even so, this should still kill you. It should kill you beyond any reasonable doubt. In this world, where the sun is dead and the God of Man no longer holds dominion, death is the fate of all Men. But you, and maybe you truly are the only one left in the whole world, still possess some of God’s teachings. Some of his holy light. The rite that was taught to you by the heretic Saint Belle. If you had been less hardy you would have died. If you had chosen a different Benediction to learn from her, you would have died.

The same footsteps that have carried you so far upon this path have taken precisely the steps needed to keep you alive. And that is all you need to know that you do not walk alone.

“Be careful Alex,” you croak. “But not too carefully. You’re going to need...some force. My whole body’s clenched around it and I can’t relax. So just put your back into it and get it out in one go.”
By all that is holy, let her pull it free in just one try. More than one and the blade is liable to act like a saw while still inside of you. And that might be beyond even you.

“What if my hands are shaking?”

You don’t turn around to look at her. You can’t really afford to at this point.
“They won’t. Now on the count of three. One...tw-urghk!”

Alex doesn’t wait. You hear her mutter a brief prayer as you begin your count and then before you can fully work up your own nerve, she pulls it free so quickly that you almost don’t notice its absence.

And then you feel the pain and yeah, you’re noticing it now! You’re really noticing it! You nearly slump back over as even more blood flows free and even as you collect yourself and marshal your Flame Internal, your arms suddenly want to move. They shine with the holy light of Benediction but your muscles have finally failed you. You can’t drag them to the wound.

You need to do it though. You need to do it right now. If you don’t-

You fall over.

Alex catches you before you hit the ground, the sword clattering down the stairs somewhere in the background.
“Where are the bandages!,” she cries. “Just give me your damn shirt!”

And before any further blood can slip free from the wound, she grabs hold of your hand still aglow with the light of Benediction and with only a moment’s hesitation, shoves it into your stomach.

>Wick: 4/10
>Spark: 8/8

Lamplighter, heal yourself.

>The Benediction of Relief activates Dead King’s Crown. Please roll 1d3 to see how many excess points of Wick you automatically gain for it. Only the first roll shall count.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d3)

>>2716329
>>
>>2716329
>>
>>2716329
at minimum this should cost 2

>>2716346
so we've got a 4 Wick powered benediction, and we can find out how much more it will cost for a proper heal.

.....I guess this means Alex is too busy to worry about bringing that 35 any higher.
>>
Writing.
>>
>2

The power ebbs and flows, bringing in the tides of Benediction to a weary shore. And though Alex holds your arm in place, the blessing still takes hold. The only question is how much of yourself are you willing to spend?

>4 Wick: Seal the wound shut for now. It can be bandaged and might tear itself open later but at least you can move. A temporary measure.

>6 Wick: This won’t stop the pain or the dizziness but it should keep everything where it should be until your own body can heal itself.

>8 Wick: Work from the inside out to vanish the wound. You’ll still need a bandage to stop the blood but you won’t have to worry about anything else. You’ve still lost blood however.

>10 Wick: Undo the wound entirely and in addition, reinvigorate yourself to make up for the blood you’ve lost. Good as new!
>>
>>2716357
>6 Wick: This won’t stop the pain or the dizziness but it should keep everything where it should be until your own body can heal itself.
Looks like we're on ignite weapon duty all over again
>>
>>2716357
>>10 Wick: Undo the wound entirely and in addition, reinvigorate yourself to make up for the blood you’ve lost. Good as new!
Full Heal. We've got a Boss Battle in a moment. We've got Dead King's Crown and Ducal Firecrafting, along with Benediction of Relief's Power Number (4), we can afford to lose the Wick.
>>
>>2716359
Speaking of which, Dead King's Crown has made it much better to have a Power Number of 1,2,3.
>>
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And with that, I must sleep. Vote will remain open until I wake. Goodnight.
>>
>>2716357
>8 Wick: Work from the inside out to vanish the wound. You’ll still need a bandage to stop the blood but you won’t have to worry about anything else. You’ve still lost blood however.
>>
>>2716357
>10 Wick: Undo the wound entirely and in addition, reinvigorate yourself to make up for the blood you’ve lost. Good as new!
We will likely need all our physical ability to book it from here.
>>
>>2716357
>>10 Wick: Undo the wound entirely and in addition, reinvigorate yourself to make up for the blood you’ve lost. Good as new!

This will be a nice morale boost too. Can't let the leader show too much weakness to his flock.
>>
>>2716359
>>2716426
>>2716415
Support.
>tfw we appear literally unkillable to our followers despite constantly getting injured
>>
>>2716357
> 8 wick
>>
6
>>2716358

8
>>2716413
>>2716540

10
>>2716359
>>2716415
>>2716426
>>2716532
>>
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Alright I'm awake and I'm going to be resuming the session earlier than usual to make up for the fact that I have a work shift later today.

Update in an hour.
>>
>10 Wick: Undo the wound entirely and in addition, reinvigorate yourself to make up for the blood you’ve lost. Good as new!

Lacking any better option, you give it everything you’ve got. The rush of Benediction is like being struck by a lightning bolt! Your whole body spasms for a moment and when feeling has finally returned, you shake yourself free from Alex’s grip and hold your hand to your wound yourself.

>Wick: 0/10
>Spark: 2/8

Molten wax dribbles down your forehead and mixes with your blood as the Spark flares to life. And it is like that, with holy flame crowning you, that the redcloaks see you slowly rise back to your feet. You can feel the Benediction still at work within you. White light clings to your form like a cloak.
“Thank you Alex.”

The redcloaks cheer, the sound coming creakily from smoke-damaged throats. And why wouldn’t they? You are invincible, demonstrably so. You can walk the edge of the abyss and be untouched.Blows that would kill a mortal man are nothing to you!
And only you and Alex know just how truly close you came to death. You give her a glance and she smiles, her hands still covered in your blood. She won’t tell.

And with that petty affair taken care of, you are free to survey your surroundings. You are surrounded by corpses, wooden breastplates and helmets punctured by shot. But not enough. And there’s one distinctive helmet you can’t see anywhere.
“Thank you all, I should be saying,” you say, pitching your voice to quieten your followers. “But where are the rest of them?”

“They ran,” Alex answers. “The officer and some of the others got away. They’re up there somewhere now.”

“That’s fine. They may try and ambush us later once they regroup but it’ll be nothing we cannot handle. We have no further need of this stairwell anyway. We are here.”

The light still channeling up the walls of the Thorn’s central stairwell terminates here. This landing is wide and has three doors but one only one is rimmed by light, absorbed power flowing into it and past it. The sign above the door is almost impossible to read with the light streaming through the wood upon which it is carved but you manage all the same.

Biomanufacture Block, Containment Wing #1

The door is locked and it remains so for almost five seconds after you try the doorknob. A quick slice with the runesword takes care of that, letting the door swing open with the bars and bolts behind it severed. But it is only then that you notice that your sword come back bloody.

The door swings open a few inches and then stops. Behind it, wedging it shut, is a thick curtain of what appears to be some sort of pale gray moss. Sparks dance along its bulk, light draining from the current that passes it and into the luminescent growth.

1/2
>>
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>>2717100
And it bleeds. The wound inflicted upon it by your sword as it sliced through the door can be clearly seen, shallow gouges in the living fabric. Beads of human blood well up from the torn edges and slowly drip to the wooden floor.

Alex stops, doing her best to peer over your shoulder.
“What is that?”

You watch the light dance across its surface for a few more seconds.
“This moss has a Wick.”

“What? But how?”

“I think I know.”
You won’t speak it however. Not aloud. A Wick is the divine essence of humanity. It is the common trait shared between First, Second and Third Men. It is what a witch trades away forever when they make their dark bargain. No other creature has it. Nothing.

You won’t be able to burn your way through this moss. It used to be a friend of the flame.


>Cut your way through it and clear it out. You’ll be bloody at the end of it but it’s all it deserves.

>Give it fire.

>You can take another doorway. One of them will connect with this ‘Containment Wing’ somewhere.

>Perhaps you should tell the redcloaks after all. It will only be worse within.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2717103
>Perhaps you should tell the redcloaks after all. It will only be worse within.

To end this sort of thing is why we're here.
>>
>>2717103
>>Perhaps you should tell the redcloaks after all. It will only be worse within.
>>
-Cleansing Benediction-
Cost: 1 Wick (Light Required)
This Benediction dispels minor curses and other magical stains of the Dark from the target, provided that the target still holds fire within their heart and is a child of light. Stronger curses will require a more powerful Benediction but may still be lessened by this blessing. When used on a creature of the Dark this Benediction makes them extremely uncomfortable.

-Purging Benediction-
Cost: 1 Wick (Light Required)
This blessing requires Orion to touch the target and to remain in contact for a temporary duration as the Benediction slowly pulls it out all poisons from their bodies and burns them away. This works on magical poisons as well but not against magical poisons that explicitly protected against such means. When used on a creature of the Dark this Benediction can disorient them.

Would either of these work to destroy this place? If it's all one living being with a wick if we dispel the magic that turned this human wick or wicks into plant matter, we can destroy the whole damn thing. If I had to guess I'd say this is the result of complex alchemy which is basically potions/magical poisons.

Thoughts?
>>
>>2717156
probably take more than 1 wick to due, but maybe.
>>
Vote called.
>>
But also...

>Collective Effort Roll

>35/21

>The surviving members of the Capillary Guard are regrouping, hoping to gather enough reinforcements to push back down the stairwell and confront you!
>If this succeeds, you will either be forcefully driven from the central capillary or else take casualties.
>Roll 1d6. The first 3 shall be totalled.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2717232
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2717232
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>2717232
>>
>Perhaps you should tell the redcloaks after all. It will only be worse within.

“I won’t keep this from you. Not when you have all already seen the culmination of the Workshop’s work with Abraham. You know what they did to him. And this shouldn’t be too shocking.”
You show them the bloodstained sword, running it across the frayed and bleeding edges of the moss itself.
“I don’t know how or why or even what but this thing has the essence of Man. It bleeds. It was us. This is what they’ve done.”

The semi-circle of redcloaks around you widens as they look at the growth with new eyes. For some, this idea might be even more discomforting than seeing what happened to Abe. The idea that they just have it growing here!

“I don’t care what good this place has done,” you say. “To unmake the form of Man is a blasphemy towards the Flame that made us and disgusting besides. They might heal the sick but all that means nothing when they have something like this. Or like Abe. So just be prepared. Past this thing, death will be a mercy.”
You stand back and hold your sword high, ready to begin your grim work but you are stopped by someone daring to lay a hand upon your shoulder.

It’s Alex. She’s slung her rifle across her back and has unsheathed the runeblade that you gave her, the one you tore from the clutches of the cultist mayor of a town called Sacrament.
“No need to dirty yourself,” she says with faux cheer. “Let me handle it.”

“And besides,” she continues in a whisper as she steps past you, “you need to conserve yourself, don’t you? You’re not as unkillable as you let on.”

And with that, she turns and hacks deep into the mossy curtain. Blood sprays free but she just closes her eyes and steps forward, carving further into it even as undoubtedly human blood oozes down and covers her. She takes another step forward and slashes a path and then repeats until a hole three feet deep has been torn through the post-human overgrowth.
She stands and pants at the end of the newborn tunnel, blood dripping down all around her.
“God,” she unthinkingly blasphemes, “that was way thicker than I thoug-yip!”

Something thin burrows through the broken heap of moss around her and wraps itself around her ankle. You barely get a glimpse of it before Alex is pulled from sight.
“Alex!”


>Charge in!

>Launch an Immolate straight through the tunnel.

>Get in there but take this methodically. No need to risk yourself more.

>”Open fire!”

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2717300
>Get in there but take this methodically. No need to risk yourself more.
>>
>>2717300
>>Get in there but take this methodically. No need to risk yourself more.
>>
>>2717300
>”Open fire!”
>Charge in!
if the moss thing is doing it, then shooting everything will make Alex a much less important target.

If it's a Thorn Captain or something else, we need to get in there NOW.
>>
>Collective Effort

>>2717232
>2, 2, 4
>8
>27/21

The remnants of the Capillary Guard do their best to regroup with other guardsmen, stopping stragglers from fleeing and sounding yet another alert. It mostly goes unheard however.
The bulk of the Thorn's forces are desperately trying to protect the Chemist from what was believed to be the Lamplighter's full force and those that are left in the spire itself have been thrown into disarray. The ever-growing fire and smoke are acting as barriers all throughout the Thorn, preventing the many parts of its remaining security from making contact with one another or the central stairwell.

It falls to the Capillary Guard's Thorn Captain, a relative new promotion with little experience in such a crisis. She survived the Lamplighter's suicidal attack upon their spitters but now it falls to her to keep morale up and to regroup the Guard!

>Roll 1d6 for the Thorn Captain. The first 3 shall be totalled.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>2717300
>Charge in!
>>2717343
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2717343
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>2717343
>>
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Rolled 5 (1d6)

Well the tie doesn't seem to be breaking anytime soon and I'd rather do a few more updates before I have to go to work today, so I'll just roll it off to the Dice Gods.
Evens charge, odds methodically.
>>
>Get in there but take this methodically. No need to risk yourself more.

You very nearly trample your way through the mossy tunnel after her but you catch yourself at the last moment. Alex volunteered to carve her way through because after you told her what it truly was, she thought it’d be easier on you if she did it instead. She knows you’re not invulnerable and that you’re already tiring. She did it out of consideration for you.
So what kind of repayment would it be if you just rushed in and threw yourself in danger for her sake?

You raise your hand to stop the redcloaks behind you, who had been panickedly raising rifles.
“What are you doing? If you shoot into this, you might kill her! Leave this to me!”

You aren’t going to blunder in and waste Alex’s consideration. You’re going to trust that whatever is out there, she’ll be able to survive for the few seconds it takes you to clear your way through properly!

You step into the mossy burrow Alex carved and start clearing, cutting away from around your feet as you slowly wade into it. It’s a few feet thick so it’ll only take you ten or fifteen seconds to do. That leaves ten or fifteen seconds for Alex to die or worse but you’ll not risk yourself for that. Not when the future of all the world weighs upon your back.

Your resolve to do this however, is tested direly when you hear Alex scream. You cut your way free to find yourself in a darklit room with sheets of gray moss hanging from the walls and coating the wooden floor. The light travelling through the walls shines through but only barely, being devoured by the still-growing moss.
It’s nearly impossible to see how big the room is or what is in it but as you raise your wick to make a light, something barrels through a flimsy wall of moss straight for you!

You’re ready for it however! It hasn’t caught you blundering in with foolish abandon but instead with both sword and wick in hand!

>Roll 1d6 and add a +1 modifier. The first 3 shall be used for the three stages of this action.
>>
Rolled 6 + 1 (1d6 + 1)

>>2717448
>>
Rolled 4 + 1 (1d6 + 1)

>>2717448
>>
Rolled 1 + 1 (1d6 + 1)

>>2717448
>>
>7, 5, 2
>Defending, Keeping your footing, counter-attacking.

Writing.
>>
>7, 5, 2

You step to the side as something large barrels past you into the wall, feathery tendrils whipping past you! You endure their blows without even shifting in your position and even as one of them whips around low to try and make you lose your footing on the blood-smeared ground, you manage to lift your foot just in time!

And then you bring your boot straight back down on top of it, grinding the tip of the prehensile fleshy whisker to paste and inducing a high-pitched scream from the creature before you. White light flares around you as you do so, Benediction still flooding through your muscles.

>The Benediction of Relief’s Power Number grants you 1 Wick!
>Ducal Firecrafting grants you an additional 1 Wick!

>Wick: 2/10
>Spark: 2/8

And though your return swing bites only empty air, the light of the refreshing Benediction combined with the tiny star adorning your brow give you just enough light to see by when the snuffling creature reverses back towards you.

It’s a bloated bulbous thing, a single warty bladder with a wrinkled mouth as wide as its whole body. It doesn’t have eyes as much as it has clusters of them, two huge eye sockets each filled with at least a dozen human eyes each. Adorning it are patches of feathered whiskers and there, beneath its belly, you can see a struggling shape wrapped up in at least seven of them. The creature’s underbelly is transparent and disgustingly porous, foul-smelling purple secretions flowing freely from its veins and through its skin to drip slowly onto the struggling Alex.

The creature’s mouth opens to reveal a fat and pallid tongue that morphs halfway into a struggling pair of wretched human legs that flows seamlessly back into tongueflesh. And as much as you don’t want to, you recognise that form of half-merged aberration. It’s the remnants of the creature’s original body. Whatever foul process had been unleashed upon Abe had also created this abomination.


>The sword doesn’t have the reach to fight past this thing’s attacks. Switch back to your staff and Ignite it.

>It might be Wick-consuming but if it truly was of Man...unleash a Benediction of Relief.

>Work to get in as close as possible. Cutting Alex free is your top priority.

>Unleash an Immolate!

>Lure it back through the tunnel into the guns.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2717501
>It might be Wick-consuming but if it truly was of Man...unleash a Benediction of Relief.
>>
>>2717501
>Work to get in as close as possible. Cutting Alex free is your top priority.
>Self-Ignition, becoming a ball of fire that cannot be grabbed
>Store a healing benediction using Dead King's Crown, to heal Alex's burns as we pull her out while still on fire.
>>
>>2717501
>Work to get in as close as possible. Cutting Alex free is your top priority.
>Self-Ignition, becoming a ball of fire that cannot be grabbed
>Store a healing benediction using Dead King's Crown, to heal Alex's burns as we pull her out while still on fire.
>>
Wouldn't this thing have protection from flame too?
>>
>>2717510
>>2717512
How about we just don't burn her in the first place?
>>
>>2717539
only Lamplighters are protected protected from flames. Regular men still burn. It's just that fire won't utterly destroy them with 2x weakness.

>>2717540
because we don't know how many grabbing tendrils it has, and this is a grappler?
>>
>>2717542
The healing isn't perfect and it takes time. There's no reason to injure her when we have other options.
>>
>>2717554
the healing is a bonus, the primary goal is getting her out without getting trapped too.
>>
>>2717564
...and burning our most capable fighter.
>>
>>2717567
She's choking to death or worse in there, and you want to spare her from minor burns.

Also, you DO know that Relief was incredibly Wick inefficient when used on Abe, right?
>>
>>2717501
>>Cleansing Benediction. One Wick.
>This Benediction dispels minor curses and other magical stains of the Dark from the target, provided that the target still holds fire within their heart and is a child of light. Stronger curses will require a more powerful Benediction but may still be lessened by this blessing. When used on a creature of the Dark this Benediction makes them extremely uncomfortable.
>>
>>2717501
>>>Cleansing Benediction. One Wick.
changing from this>>2717512
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2717578
>>2717580
wait WHAT? This won't make it uncomfortable, and whatever was done to it was not a curse of Dark. This will do NOTHING.
>>
Being a bit slow here because I'm getting ready to work.

>Collective Effort

>1, 2, 5
>8
>19/21

The Thorn Captain was ultimately unsuccessful in her attempts to marshal her men to try and take back the stairwell. But even as the remnants of the Capillary Guard dawdle, a far more dangerous and inexorable enemy is rising up behind you.

Smoke.

The fire below was still raging and the smoke in the stairwell is growing ever thicker. Your plan was to use the smoke to disrupt the Workshop forces and to protect your back and in those functions it performed admirably.
But smoke, unlike flame, kills and smothers without recognition or discrimination. If you dawdle too long you risk being smoked out yourself.

>Roll 1d6 for the smoke. Only the first one will apply. Though the smoke has only rolling party, it will continue until you leave or until you find a safe secure from its choking advance.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>2717653
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>2717653
>>
>Cleansing Benediction

You sheathe your sword as the abomination flounders back towards you, squirming through the sheets of hanging moss. Instead you take up your staff and hold it before you as you had just done to the Captain and his whip.
The first tendril goes wide and by the time the second tendril is caught by your stave, you’ve charged in and caught the monster by its lower lip. Bubbling saliva pools around your gauntlets as you rip the thing’s gaping mouth wide open!

And there, facing its surprised and toothless maw, you wedge your staff. The flexible metal of the Iron Duke’s tail sways but does not bend. That leaves you free to plant your palm straight into the vulnerable soft flesh of its vile gums.
“Be cleansed!”

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8

The entire monster flinches for a moment, every whisker uncoiling and going limp for just a moment. Only for a moment but a moment is enough. You hear Alex gurgle as she is dumped unceremoniously to the floor as every tendril grappling her spasms.
And now that’s she free, all you need to do is-

The beast’s tongue lashes out, sweeping both you and the staff to the side with unstoppable force! You’re knocked off your feet and sent rolling through several layers of clingy gray moss. The creature lurches forward towards you and then stops dead, a shrill keen coming from its throat that you’ve never heard before.

It then slumps over with its transparent and oh-so-soft belly slit right open. And rising from the carcass is someone who you almost don’t recognise as Alex for a moment. She has the old runesword still clutched in one hand but aside from that, there are almost no distinguishing features. She is covered from head to toe in blood, smeared moss-stain and purple ichor, a silhouette of gore where only her wide and staring eyes are clear.
“Thanks,” she mumbles.

You climb back to your feet, clearing moss out of the way as best you can.
“Are you alright?”

“Don’t worry. Most of this blood is yours. You or the moss. That thing didn’t do more than dribble on me.”

You don’t have the time to check her over or to inspect the room because with a faintly audible sigh, the moss draping everything slowly draws back. The two of you are standing in a simple wooden room, the walls and ceiling stained with blood and ichor and moss residue.
And standing before the two of you is a door and through it you can hear...a song? No, too discordant. No words. A tone. A buzzing melodic tone that continues without tune or end. The door swings open of its own accord.

1/2
>>
>>2717722
Beyond the door is what you could only call a garden of some sort. A long corridor where the walls shine with collected light. The floor is covered in dirt and a thick coat of pale white grass beyond that. And sprouting from pots assembled along the walls are rows and rows of singers. Pale little flowers that shine with a faint light of their own, each orchid assembled in an incredibly discomforting approximation of a human shape. They are the source of the noise.

The corridor ends in a blank wall and standing before it is a man in a white cloak. He is stocky and blonde and aside from the matter of his gender, an obvious twin to the woman you had killed earlier. He is unarmed and alone and yet, this doesn’t seem to bother him. Instead he spreads his arms in a gesture of welcome, backed by his unearthly choir.

‘Good evening. My name is Dr Surrex, former chief of Wick Studies. You could say that I run this place now. Is it possible that we could talk this out like civilized men?”


>It’s a trap. Stab him!

>It’s a trap alright but the doctor himself is probably it. Keep your distance and don’t respond.

>Just lob an Immolate in and shut the door.

>”I only want one thing. Give it to me.”

>”No.” There is more you could say to condemn him and the Workshop. He’s not worthy of words however.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2717726
>”I only want one thing. Give it to me.”
I also want to see this building burned to ashes
>>
>>2717726
>Unveil your lamp
>>
I really have to go to work now. Vote open until later tonight when I come back
>>
>>2717726
>”No.” There is more you could say to condemn him and the Workshop. He’s not worthy of words however.
>>2717732
I feel like we should use this as sparingly as possible. Our body can't take much more of it.
>>
>>2717722
well, I guess I was wrong. There ARE components of Dark in this particular experiment.

>>2717726
>"Open Fire."
>Watch for a trap. Pull out the lampost if we need to know where to go next
>>
>>2717726
>It’s a trap alright but the doctor himself is probably it. Keep your distance and don’t respond.

>>2717732
We didn't bring enough wet naps and cornbread for much more of that. We should at least hold off until the Redcloaks can secure some to-go boxes.
>>
>>2717726
>It’s a trap alright but the doctor himself is probably it. Keep your distance and don’t respond.

Tried talking a couple times already. We deeply regret it, given their treachery.
>>
>>2717726
>>”I only want one thing. Give it to me.”
>>
>>2717726
>Send Alex back for the redcloaks
>”I only want one thing. Give it to me.”
>Stall the guy until the gunmen arrive, then shoot him.
>>
Alright, I'm back. Vote called and updates resume in an hour.
>>
>”I only want one thing. Give it to me.”

Surveying the surreal scene before you, you give Alex a nod. She understands your meaning and ducks away. She’ll get the redcloaks into this den of horrors and when they do, they can shoot this blasphemer. You’d rather not go close or even attack at all. When has the Workshop not met your every attempt with some new and secret horror? Nothing is as it seems with these people.

And while the Workshop and the Thorn have always been strange and uncomfortable, for some reason the sight before you now is one of the strangest. This strange little garden corridor that leads nowhere and hidden behind a filthy moss den. How did this Dr Surrex even get here? How did he know? Where does the channel of light lead from here, save just deeper into the Thorn’s walls? And you’d prefer not to look at the ‘choir’ on either side of him, though you can’t stop yourself from hearing their song.
“What do you say?”
His voice is so much like that of Dr Erunt, the dead woman who dragged Abraham down with her.

“I only want one thing. Give it to me.”
You also want this whole damn tower to burn to the ground. You’ll refrain from mentioning that however. It’s possible that you might be able to get something from him.

“The shard. I didn’t expect anything else. That was an interesting trick with the capillaries there.”

“Where is it?”

“Tch. To earth with you! Why would you expect us to ever give you that? You are a monster and a slayer of men. Why would I have any respect for someone who has done what you have? A star shone in Dis today. What possible whim or judgement could make that worth it?”

“God’s.”

“A dead tyrant. You and everything you stand for is nothing more than a post-mortem spasm in his corpse.”
The eerie tone of the choir grows louder, the orchid-people swaying back and forth as one, their hands thrust out as if coordinated prayer.
“The shard is not here. This light you have followed, this is its terminus. The shard is deep within the Thorn, at the very base of it all. See how the light flows into the structure itself here? This is a dead end.”

The redcloaks form up behind you with their rifles levelled at the doctor. If this perturbs him, he gives no sign. Instead he simply adjusts his white cloak.
“Have we reached the end already? I must admit, I had a fantasy of making you see reason. But you are diseased.”


>”Fire.”

>”What could justify all this?”

>”If you are still here, all that tells me is that more stars are needed.”

>”Why even heal people if this is what you do? What’s the damn point?”

>Don’t kill him. Not yet. He is going to show you where the shard is.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2718267
>"Given what you've done to men and witch alike, I'll prefer slayer any day. Fire."
killing or punishing witches is one thing, but I think Orion would also take offense at turning them into even more dangerous weapons. For one, it makes it impossible for them to atone.
>>
>>2718267
>”Fire.”

Dude is delaying us.
>>
>>2718269
This. But Doctor Buttsex here is probably going to turn into a monster, or explode, so I think having an immolate ready to incinerate whatever is left after shooting would be prudent.
>>
>Collective Effort

>>2717653

>3
>16/21

The smoke thickens...

>Roll 1d6 for the smoke. Only the first one will apply. Though the smoke has only one rolling party, it will continue until you leave or until you find a safe secure from its choking advance.
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>2718293
wow, this must be a LOT of smoke.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>“Fire.”

You take a step back. You don’t understand what’s going on here but neither will you tolerate it. For a long moment, the only sound is the chorus of the swaying orchids and the rustling of the broad grass beneath your target’s feet. It’s not hard to find words though. You’ve been preparing your judgement for some time.
“Given what you’ve done to men and witches alike, I’ll prefer slayer any day. Fire.”

You take another step back as you speak, letting the barrels of the rifles past you. You keep your wick ready however, even as the guns go off and gunsmoke mixes with the smoke in the air once more. It’s painfully loud in such a small place and Dr Surrex crumples in a bloody heap with no resistance. And that’s it. He is dead.

You had been expecting more. Was he going to spring a trap like his probable sibling had? Could he become a beast himself? But no, just the usual result of a man being shot by several rifles at once. The walls glow with stolen light. The flowers wave and sing in unison. The blood stains chalk-white grass.

“That was easy.”
Alex joins you, still covered head to toe in gore. You can barely tell there’s a person beneath it all if weren’t for her eyes.
“I don’t like those queer-sounding flowers though. Should we smash them?”

You stare at the swaying things a little while longer and, for the moment, ignore the question. Instead you pose one of your own.
“Where do we go from here?”

“What?”

“The Thorn feeds on the light. The shards call to one another through this great big system. But the light leads here and then just...vanishes into the walls. Wherever it’s being siphoned, there’s no door or corridor leading to it. We can’t follow.”

“He said it was somewhere near the base, didn’t he?”

“Then why would the light flow up here first?”
>This is a dead end and you are running out of time. Leave.

>There must be more to this blind alley. Why would they build it? Inspect it further.

>Inspect the doctor’s body.

>Search the mossy den of the beast that was once a man.

>Other (Specify)

Additionally,

>Have the garden destroyed.

>Let the plants sing. It’s probably just a trick.
>>
>>2718313
>>2714816
>It had begun just ten minutes ago. You and the redcloaks had gotten into position on a bridge spanning alongside the Thorn itself, a position with a clear view of its major apertures into the city beyond. From there you had waited, meditating as best as you could until you saw the security forces of the Thorn scramble. Troops mobilized, marching out of the Thorn and out towards... Beatrice. She had done her job.
Where's Beatrice?
>>
>>2718315
Beatrice is at the Chemist's, not here.

>Have the garden destroyed.
>There must be more to this blind alley. Why would they build it? Inspect it further.
>Be very careful with the doctor's body. It can explode or turn into a monster or infect us with flesh-eating microbes at any moment.
>>
>>2718313
>Burn it all dow-
wait. I am....70% serious about this, wow. I mean, we could just fire-dig through to a less smoked area and keep moving from there. The damage we would cause would interrupt whatever function happens to the light even if we don't know the secret.

>Burn it all dow-Have the garden destroyed


>>2718315
Having a nice chat with the Golemist.
>>
>>2718317
+1
>>2718318
Burning stuff that seems like a trap seems to be a good idea.
>>
Interlude

Consider the tree, the flower the blade of grass. All the inhabitants of the plant realm. They are undoubtedly creatures but they possess such a different existence from the lesser meat, from humans, from the children of the Earth. For you see, only in plants does life find its purest expression.
It is common wisdom that plants were born of the mingling of earth and flame, when the great god URs corpse fell atop the Wayward Flame and crushed it into the mud. UR would form the very base of the world adrift within the Sea of Mud and the Flame would later have its means of vengeance baked into that very Sea itself. But there was a mingling of the two essences all the same.

And this, people say, is why the earth brings forth life that seeks the sun. Plants are born of earth but sustain themselves, to varying degrees, on light. Those that needed light the most have all died out save where the Workshop had done their best to save them. The plants most attuned to earth however, the nightflowers, have thrived in the broken wasteland of the world and Men would do well not to trust them. But no matter their place on the spectrum, all plants bear the same origin: An accident. They were not designed or created like the cycles of Man, born from the Flame’s vengeance or all the children of Earth born to fight them.
Only in the plant realm can you see life unshackled by the whims of gods and there, if you look, you can observe another peculiarity. With no gods to tell them to thrive or die the plants have more or less figured it out on their own. Plants that do not thrive die off while plants that are suited spread themselves. And so over the years, unaided by the design that has made every other aspect of the world, plants change themselves.

This is the true potential of life and it is one that Man, forever under the tyranny of Creation, cannot know.


-Forward to A Treatise On The Herbological: A Revised Edition For The New World, published under the name ‘Dr Spinae’
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>Destroy the garden.
>Burn it all down.

Alex doesn’t have an answer to your question. You didn’t really need one. Instead you just take a torch from one of the redcloaks. You handed them all out at the start of the assault to assist in the fire-raising and this one been’s burning well since then. Things tend to that as long as they stay close to you and the lamp-post on your back. Get some distance and well...fires fade and what burns does not.

“First of all,” you say. “We put this little place to the torch.”
You toss the torch into the room, aiming straight for one of the little dancing flowers. The dissonant tone somehow changes into something that is almost a scream, just as it was previously almost a song. They don’t stop swaying as they burn but the sound becomes increasingly high-pitched.
“He said that the shard was at the base of the tower. But why would we believe anything he said? Let’s burn it out first.”

The fire spreads across the grass and when it touches the body of Dr Surrex, engulfs it as fast as it did the flowers. Much too fast. But aside from that, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the corpse. He just...died. For apparently nothing.
The last time a Tangle chief did that, you paid the price. These people don’t wage war on an axis you understand.

So you’ll all stay back until the room has been burned black. And then with all the distractions out of the way, you might learn the truth of it. If nothing else, it could be that you could just use the lamp-post to burn a way into the center of the Tho-

The song-scream of the dying flowers heights into what feels like an auditory spike shoved right into the back of your skull! You stumble back and before you can help it, fall to your knees. All around you everyone else is doing the same.
The choir’s final song is overwhelming, a sound that seems to override all thought and accesses a primal instinct straight from the body itself. Your vision blurs and in moments you are seeing double.

Two Alexs keel next to you, their hands plugged over ears fruitlessly. But then something strange happens. One of them stays down, sinking ever deeper under the choir’s assault but the other...she rises to her feet.
She looks down at you and then extends a hand stained with your own blood. She’s trying to help you up.

Meanwhile the other vision of Alex continues to cower in shock. You thought you had been seeing double. But no, something far stranger is in play here.

You try to rise but cannot seem to sort one limb from the other. The sound is so much that it has invaded all other senses and muddled them all together. Alex, or one of her at any rate, is still holding out a hand. You can’t get up without her assistance.

>Take it.

>Do not.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2718342
>>2718325
>inb4 destroying the garden was all part of his plan.
>>
>>2718342
>You can’t get up without her assistance.
That's weak, do it without her assistance.
>>
>>2718342
>>Take it.
Are we going into the spirit realm?

>>2718325
Spinae seems pretty interesting, shame we crushed him with an orbital strike.
>>
>>2718342
>>Burn it all down.
How did this win over the other?

>>2718353
+1 if >>2718348 isn't valid.
>>
>>2718342
Holy crap, I want to fight imps and witches already. At least they won't turn fire itself against us.

>Check whether we're seeing double of everything else, including especially our own body
>>
>>2718357
Oh. It's called 'I am very tired and misread your earlier post where you +1'd one vote and questioned the other and mixed them around'.
Maybe I should get some sleep. This isn't a great point to end on though.
>>
>>2718342
>Unveil the Lamp
fuck yo illusions.
>>
Hey Ouro lore-wise is there a notion of out of body experiences or would Orion think what's going on right now is blasphemous madness?
>>
>>2718363
There is none.
>>
>>2718342
>Take it
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2718318
>>2718313
Finally. More Fire can't be bad.
>>
>Take it

Once again, matters move beyond your comprehension. The scream of the dying choir, something that should have ended long ago, now persists as a single painful and eternally drawn out note. You can hear nothing else. You cannot even hear the crackle of the flame.

You look down at yourself and here, the blurred vision suddenly ends. You can only see you. But the moment you lift your head the world discombobulates once more. You can see Alex twice over and overlapping but while your vision has been doubled before, you’ve never seen the doubled image change. But here it is as it was when you last looked.
Alex is on her knees with her hands over her ears. And Alex is still standing, extending a gorey hand to help you up.

You don’t know what this is but witchcraft is probably involved somewhere.

You take Alex’s hand and your vision snaps into perfect clarity. Alex pulls you up and there is only her. There is no Alex left lying on the ground. Your sight is singular.
“What was that?,” she asks.

“I don’t know. Where are the others? Where did they go?”

“What others?”

“The redcloaks!”

And then all of a sudden, the silence is banished and you hear the painful sound of the choir once more. You smell only smoke. And your vision doubles.

Alex stands before you twofold. In one, she has taken your hand in a bloodstained grip and is leading you away. In the other she has taken your sword and held it to her throat. She is dying. And this can be true, all at your whim.

It has to be true. These are the only things that can happen. You are helpless on your own.


>Keep hold of her hand.

>Kill her.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2718380
>Other (Specify)

Lay a Benediction upon ourselves and Alex.

These people don't play winnable games
>>
>>2718380
>Unveil the Lamp
can't kill yourself if you're too busy praising the sun
>>
>>2718380
>>2718385
Seconding this.

Ever play a shell game? The ball is under NONE of the cups.
>>
>>2718386
This is a good idea too.
>>
>>2718387
>>2718386
Either of these.
>>
>>2718385
This
>>
>>2718342
>Alex, or one of her at any rate, is still holding out a hand. You can’t get up without her assistance.
>>2718380
>Alex is on her knees with her hands over her ears. And Alex is still standing, extending a gorey hand to help you up.
>Alex stands before you twofold. In one, she has taken your hand in a bloodstained grip and is leading you away.
Where did the gore come from?
>>
>>2718396
dude. How many times has Ouro mentioned that Alex is covered in Orion's blood?
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2717100
>And only you and Alex know just how truly close you came to death. You give her a glance and she smiles, her hands still covered in your blood. She won’t tell.
>>2718342
>She looks down at you and then extends a hand stained with your own blood. She’s trying to help you up.
>>2718397
Oh yeah. I assumed that was part of the illusion.
>>
>Other (Specify)

It nearly had you for a moment there. You almost played along. But whatever this is, it pushed too strong and too quickly and made itself too obvious. This is some sort of mindtrap. Nothing you’ve ever encountered before but simple in design. Something to force you to keep making choices in what you think is reality.

But the only true reality is that ear-piercing shriek and the smell of smoke.

If it had stayed subtle it might have been able to lead you away. But killing Alex for no reason? Why? Why would that make sense? And come to think of it, why were you so certain that you needed assistance to get up? And that’s the trap. It’s the certainty that there are only two options. You don’t know how this is being done, some kind of curse or your mind being undone through sound alone but all you need to break the spell is to reject the choice your senses give you and to do…literally anything else.

And as you turn away from the false vision, your eyesight worsens, the painful sound increases and your nose and throat fills with smoke. But that’s just fine. The bad sensations are what’s really there. You just have to unveil the lamp-post. Or make a Benediction. Or do any other third option.



And just like that, you open your eyes to a room filled with a silence broken only by the crackling of flames. The flowers are dead, they must have stopped screaming a while ago. And for you at the very least, time has begun to move properly again.

You are standing next to Alex as you were before, her hand still in yours. But her eyes are closed and all around you the redcloaks writhe or crawl upon the ground. Some have latched onto each other in the same way you and Alex have. They are all still trapped in a game with only bad choices.
Behind you, the flames in the garden room die down as it starts to run out of things to burn.

“Sure, I’ll come with you.”
Alex is speaking to you but not, you suspect, to you. She’s speaking to her own double-vision. You wonder what scenario it is that she sees. Will it turn to violence as quickly as yours? Or was it something about the nature of your own mind that made such an obviously hideous act spring up so immediately?

And if indeed this is the real Alex and you are awake right now, you really did take her hand in reality when you did it in the dream. So if you had been forced to choose an act of violence…
They, and previously you, are all as sleepwalkers. You would have killed the real Alex and she would have died without even knowing she was.

You extract your hand from her grip but she doesn’t seem to notice. You wave a hand in front of her face. Lacking any other option, you then slap her across the cheek. Your gauntlet comes away coated in a mixture of moss and monster’s blood but otherwise has no effect.
They are trapped in a labyrinth of false perception that only they can free themselves from.

1/2
>>
>>2718415
As you ponder this, you hear something creak in the former garden hall. The fire has ravaged the place, scorching the living walls black and in doing so, forced them to peel back from around the secret doorway they had been actively concealing. The hallway continues onward and it is lit with stolen light. The doctor really had been lying, trying to throw you off at the last moment. The shard is just ahead.

But Alex and the redcloaks might not be able to come with you.


>The shard is most important. They can stay behind. You will be quick.

>Stay here and do your best to protect themselves from each other until they rouse. That tunnel isn’t going anywhere.

>Lay a Benediction upon Alex to lift her from the influence. But you don’t have enough Wick to do that to everyone…

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2718416
>>Other (Specify)
Unveil the lamp post and try casting a benediction. Surely no illusion can keep out the truest light of a god!
>>
>>2718416
>Unveil the Lampost
if we leave them, they'll die to smoke
>>
>>2718416
>Lay a Benediction upon Alex to lift her from the influence. But you don’t have enough Wick to do that to everyone…

Also start singing a hymn with Alex to draw then back to themselves out of habit.

Yes, I'm suggesting a Minmei defense.
>>
And with that, I really must be getting to sleep. I will leave this vote open until I wake. And also before I go...

>Collective Effort

>>2718293

>5
>11/21

As you and your companions lay senseless, the Thorn continued to burn and the smoke continued to rise up the central stairwell. And friend to the flame you might be, you still need to breathe.

>Roll 1d6 for the smoke. Only the first one will apply. Though the smoke has only one rolling party, it will continue until you leave or until you find a safe place secure from its choking advance.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2718430
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2718430
>>
>>2718441
SAFE
>>
>>2718443
BASED blue violet ID saving us from blasphemous lavender ID
>>
>>2718424
Sure lets try this, support.

It might be better to get the shard first so we'd be at maximum power, but I don't want our party killing themselves while we fiddle around with ripping the shard out of the wall or whatever.
>>
>>2718416
>>The shard is most important. They can stay behind. You will be quick.
>>Awaken Alex.

Leave 'em. The shard will replenish our Wick, probably. Alex will just have to defend them by herself.
>>
>>2718416
Let's try this >>2718424
>>
>>2718467
Agreed. I much appreciate the blue violet anon that stopped me from making a terrible error.
>>
I think we're going to have a bit of an image problem after this guys, first we destroyed the one source of light the city had, then we dropped an orbital nuke and killed hundreds of innocent people. On a funeral no less. Now we're torching and likely destroying an organization that provides free medical care and lifesaving tonics to the city. Our best friend is a witch, and to top it all off we've been colluding with a literal earth god.

Even if we restore the sun I don't think people are going to like us desu
>>
>>2718798
The people of Dis aren't going to like us, you mean. But they have never been a factor. We're not restoring the sun for them.
Remember, they are sinners who didn't like the sun much when it was whole, who collude with witches and imps, who treat the Sun Cult as a nuisance.
>>
>>2718798
>Even if we restore the sun I don't think people are going to like us desu
Wow big fucking deal
It's almost like you forgot how shitlife is outside of Dis
>>
>>2718821
>>2718828
Calm down friends I was making a tongue-in-cheek post about how insane we must look to onlookers while we wait for Ouro to return.
>>
>>2718833
We do appear to be an invincible, insane, militant, cult leader terrorist, with a like-minded flock. They're certainly not treating the Sun followers as a nuisance now.
>>
>>2718798
This is why we need to move on to the Supervillain Paradigm.
>>
I'm awake and I don't have work today! Session resumes in an hour.
>>
>>2718798
PR was never exactly Orion's strong suit nor priority
>>
>>2719064
>PR was never exactly Orion's strong suit nor priority
He's surprisingly well-informed on politics, though. When we were trying the whole 'get the city to acknowledge us' thing, he had ideas about that.
>>
>Lay a Benediction upon Alex to lift her from the influence. But you don’t have enough Wick to do that to everyone…
>Hymn

You have escaped the mindtrap but in doing so, you have found a choice more impossible than anything it could dream up. You cannot possibly neglect the shard but nor can you just leave your companions behind. A Benediction could free them but…

>Wick: 2/10
>Spark: 2/8

You don’t have enough spark left in you to help everyone. But at the very least, you can return Alex to her senses. You grab hold of her shoulder and using your arm as conduit, channel the Cleansing Benediction. You watch the white light transfer from you to her, eating away at any curse or influence of the Dark. And even though you still don’t understand what spell she is under, it serves another purpose. The mindtrap might be able to obscure most senses but you’d wager the feeling of being blessed is beyond it. That and the cleanse should wake her up.

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8

“Wait. This isn’t...right. It’s not what I should- it doesn’t make any sense!”
Alex’s eyes fly open and she lashes out, almost striking you right in the face as she twists away from you. She flinches.
“What was that?”

“Something that wasn’t real. I woke you from it, now I need you to help me wake them.”

“You blessed me, I felt it. But I can’t do that for them.”

“And I don’t have enough of it left to go around. Can you think of anything else that might wake them?”

“Hold on.”
She hesitantly strolls over to the closest redcloak still lying upon the ground and then, with a sudden savagery, kicks him in the stomach!
“Come on Walstan! Get up!”

“That won’t work. We need another way to reach them.”
And just then you are struck by an idea. A profoundly ludicrous-sounding one but earnest one all the same.
“They are brothers and sisters of the faith. This can’t change that. We just need to remind them of their place and what they fight for.”

“You mean like back in…”
Alex stops for a few seconds before taking a deep breath.
“Back at the temple. But it’s gone now. Everyone we were fighting for there is dead.”

“I know. And we need to remind them of that. If we speak a prayer or sing a hymn, something they’ve all done so many times, it might call them back to us. But I don’t know what you sung at the Temple and I’ve never been a good singer.”

“Hymns aren’t about singing good,” she says bitterly. “It’s about singing them together and remembering who you can’t sing with anymore. So maybe it’ll actually work. And I think I know one that might be appropriate.”

As it would turn out it was one you knew as well. The Sun Temples of Dis received a steady influx of refugees from the wastelands that was once your home. And though some of their practices might have deviated in the process, some stayed true.

1/2
>>
>>2719144
As you already knew, neither of you are good singers to begin with. You were never choir material to begin with and your last true practice was decades ago. Alex is better but she’s never been trained in her life. And you both sound hoarse tired because you are, the smoke nearly makes you choke and the only choir to back you up is the sound of the flame. The two of you sound bitter and beaten and neither of you can stay in time or even on tune. But it is a choir all the same and a far more welcome one than the one you’d just been subjected to.

”There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss.
When you close your mortal story,
Will you join them in their bliss?”

“Will the Wheel be unbroken,
By and by, by and by?
Is a better Age awaiting,
In the sky, in the sky?”

“In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous flame-”


That’s as far as you get before Alex breaks down into a coughing fit. And as far as you can see, it’s had no effect. They remain as trapped as ever.
“It was a good try,” you say.

“No it wasn’t,” Alex says bitterly. “The Wheel is broken and there ain’t no better Age. It was a dumb choice and I should have done something else. Now we just look a right pair of fools.”

“And it is up to us to set it right. Do you think they’ll be fine if they just stay here?”

“It’s hard enough to breathe as it is.”
Alex, as much as you can see any of her under all the blood, looks conflicted.
“What we do?”


>You won’t be gone long. You need at least one person’s help. They can stay a while.

>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.

>Perhaps you can drag them all into the hidden doorway? If you close that, the smoke shouldn’t follow. The only thing you’ll lose is time.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719146
>>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.
>Have her drag them into the hidden doorway out of the smoke.
>>
>>2719146
>>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.
>>Perhaps Alex can drag them all into the hidden doorway?
>>
>>2719146
>>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.
>>
>>2719146
>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.
>>
>>2719146
>>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.

If we level up we may be able to heal them. Hopefully that doesn't involve a boss battle or prolonged puzzle sequence.
>>
Interlude

It has long been in the mind of Man to change oneself, to grow and define their own purpose. All children must do this after all and it happens on both an individual and societal level. I am a firm believer in an individual’s right to self-definition but I cannot ignore the truth of the situation. Man was not meant to ever define itself. Humanity was created for a purpose and that purpose guides us. To make war, to make beauty, to survive. And for these purposes, anything not necessary for them has been discarded by divine will. But why shouldn’t a Third Man be intellectual? Why couldn’t a Second Man possess strength? Why couldn’t the First Men survive?
We are alive and life, as it does in the plant realm, constantly seeks to change and redefine. We possess a mind and a will and thus both the recognition that we can be something different and the desire to be so.

But despite this, neither the biology or history of Man was ever ours to define. This is what it means to be designed. We are yoked to the burden of Creation.

-Excerpt from The Tyranny of Creation, a controversial handbook first published thirty five years ago under the name ‘Dr Spinae’
>>
Alright vote called. Just one more thing...

>Collective Effort

>>2718430

>2
>9/21

As you spend your time, the stairwell outside becomes more and more choked. You'll have to move quickly.

>Roll 1d6 for the smoke. Only the first one will apply. Though the smoke has only one rolling party, it will continue until you leave or until you find a safe place secure from its choking advance.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>2719231
>>
>>2719234
good job!
>>
>>2719237
Alex has 8 collective effort points to get everyone into safety. Not too bad.
>>
>>2719234
At least we touched the heart of the smoke!
>>
>Alex can stay behind to look after them and make sure nothing happens. But you need to go to the shard NOW.

“You’ll have to stay behind. Take care of them while I’m gone. I won’t be long!”

She throws a poor attempt at a salute.
“Right! Do you think we might be able to drag them into the hall and shut it behind us? That should stop them all from suffocating at least.”

“Great idea but I won’t be able to help. I have my duty and you have yours. I’ll try to make it quick.”

“It’s okay,” she says. “I get it. This is important.”
She bends down and grabs a redcloak by the shoulders before starting to drag them towards the ruined garden. She manages this for about a second before looking back to you.
“Then what are you waiting for? Get going!”

You turn and run through the embers of the garden where the bark covering the back of the hallway has peeled away from the fire to reveal the continuation of hall deeper into the Thorn. The fire has mostly died down and in your rush, you almost accidentally step on Dr Surrex’s charred corpse.

He didn’t burn right. Flesh doesn’t burn into charcoal like that. And now that his cloak has burned away, you can see the remnants of his legs fusing directly into the soil. You don’t know what to make of that save that you probably shouldn’t touch it.

You push aside the living barrier and emerge into a corridor blazing with stolen light. The energy of the lamp-post still courses sluggishly down the channels in the walls that were explicitly designed to carry such energy all throughout the Thorn and nourish it. You’ve been tracing those capillaries in reverse, leading you slowly but surely towards the spire’s beating heart.

The hall quickly narrows into something much less artificial, a twisted cranny through the heartwood. It also takes on a downward slope and you have to slow down just to make sure you can fit the burden upon your back through a few tight squeezes.
And then it widens once more and you find yourself in a mirror of the garden you just burned down.

The passage flattens into a long corridor leading to a simple metal door wedged awkwardly into the wood. And growing from the walls are the same hideous flowers, each one bearing a tiny spark upon their petals and each one stretching out petal-limbs in the shape of Man.
And you can hear them once again, a buzzing song-drone that worms its way into your ears past all resistance.

What should you do? If you avoid destroying them, do you avoid their pain? Or is it an inevitable part of hearing their song and that it culminated upon their death was because you forced it out last time? What should you do?


>Burn it down once again. These things make you uncomfortable.

>Cut them from their stalks.

>Just run for the door!

>Retreat

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719303
>Cut them from their stalks.
>>
>>2719303
>Just run for the door!
The effects got way worse when we harmed them
>>
>Collective Effort

>>2719231

>1
>8/21

You are now well and truly clear of the smoke, so this Collective Effort has lost all power to hurt you. The same does not apply for those you have left behind however.

>Roll 1d6 for the smoke. Only the first one will apply. Though the smoke has only one rolling party, it will continue until you leave or until you find a safe place secure from its choking advance.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2719322
>>
>>2719331
oh no
>>
>>2719303
>Just run for the door!
I don't want to risk another huge scream on the off chance it takes out Alex as well.
>>
Vote called. Writing.
>>
>Just run for the door!

There are so many more here than there were in the first room. So many.

But after a moment’s thought, you decide that you’d rather not risk another scream. You can’t afford it and besides, it’s possible that it might resound loud enough to hit Alex again as she gets the redcloaks to safety. So you won’t burn them, you won’t cut them. There’s no need. You can see your target ahead of you, the door at the end of the hall. You just have to reach it.

So you run, the lines of buzzing orchids becoming a blurred line to either side of you as you rush for the door. And as you do so, it seems that the song grows higher and higher in pitch until it becomes a hideous whine. You don’t bother covering your ears, it won’t work. You just run faster.

You don’t question what these things are or what was sacrificed to give birth to them or even if they were a success of whatever experiment they were meant for. The answers for those questions are bound to evil. You just run faster.

You don’t stop when the whine becomes words, when you hear people begging and pleading for their lives. You don’t stop when the voices of men, women and children demand you to. You just run faster.

You especially don’t look to either side as the choir-flowers start to transform. That would mean having to look at the truth of them. You just run faster.

And then when you slide to a halt in front of the door, you grab the handle and pull it open. Or at least you try. Somehow the click of the lock can be heard through all the cacophony. You keep your eyes and ears focussed on the door as best you can. Anything to not hear or see what is now behind you.
And as you thrust your sword through the lock, you hear the scream.

>Roll 1d6 for Orion's race against time. The first 3 shall be used.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2719401
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>2719401
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2719401
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2719401
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>2719401
>>
Writing.
>>
>2, 3, 6

Your first slice is ineffectual, missing the lock mechanism as you use your momentum to thrust the thin blade into the steel. Even with what must one of the finest swords of the Second Age, a masterpiece among masterpieces, this gives it trouble.

Runes of edge flare to life as you try to pull it free, to have a second strike but behind you the unseen choir takes their tool upon your ears, eyes and mind. The world itself seems to shake and blur as the raw biology of the brain is turned against itself.
You swear you can feel something upon your back. Fingers rustling against your shoulders, begging you for help…

But if you give in and turn around now, you will surely be lost. So you keep your head forward and try to ignore the abomination even as the world unravels around you. The sword in your hand almost seems to go limp one moment, transmuting in substance from solid to liquid and back again.

But even as these, these…weapons do their best to have their way with you, you pull the sword free. And this time, the second strike is true. The door swings open and you step through but not before being subjected to one final glimpse of the choir’s true form.

And then you are collapsing on a field of ivory grass and you have slammed the door behind you and the song is gone save for the echoes still trapped within your own skull.

You made it. But not without a few more scars.

>Orion is now cursed! Whenever he (specifically, not anyone else) rolls a 6, an unpleasantness visits itself upon him from within.

You shake your thoughts free and slowly rise to your feet. You are in a vast wooden cavern filled with a pleasant warmth, standing in a field of long white grass. The walls rise into a dome above you and they blaze with rings of light. And amongst the grass are curated gardens, small fields of bright flowers in shades of red and blue and yellow. You stare at them for a moment, lost in memory.
These are dayflowers, the flowers that could not survive the loss of the sun. You have not seen them since the day you lost everything.

You take a deep breath. It is a mixing chaos of floral scents, each one painfully familiar and each one having been absent from your life for thirty long years. If you were to blind yourself to the wooden roof above and to just let yourself see the grass, smell the flowers, feel the warmth of the light basking above...you would be standing in the world as it used to be. As it should be. As it may never be again.
This is the world that you grew up in and the world that you lost.

In the distance, up against the far wall, you can see a shape that is obscured by its own light. Some incomprehensible silhouette, a growth or tree of some variety. And you don’t need the pulsing heat of the lamp on your back to know that at the far end of the cavern is the very heart of the Thorn. The shard of God that has empowered it.
1/2
>>
>>2719484
You take a step forward and, for not the first time since this hideous assault began, you feel as if you were in a dream.

A dream that is nearly cut short by an ambush.

You see it only by accident, a flash of something moving through the grass and only long-trained battle instincts pull you to the side and stop you from being impaled! The creature that leaps from the grass is a ghoul of some sort but a strange one. It is a patchwork creature but many of its stitches are small, precise and unwitched. Its body bulges and thins in strange proportions due to implanted patches of raw muscle wrapped around their torsos. And when it opens its mouth to hiss at you, you see only a stub where the characteristic tongue should be.
But the claws are the same and it was those claws that nearly took your life. You dodge to the side and ready yourself for combat!

But it is not alone! At least six more stalk towards you from all directions, mixed abominations of witch-stitch and Tangle alterations. They might be ghouls but you don’t know really what’s different. You don’t know what they can do to you.

And you are so very tired already.

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8


>Regardless of what has been done to them, ghouls are your business. Ignite your staff and do your best. (This will require a roll)

>Use Self-Ignition to try and just run through them and make a mad dash for the far end of the cavern.

>Ghouls are not easily mastered save by a witch. Find the witch and with its absence, the ghouls should flee this place of light.

>Retreat for now. This would be much easier with the guns of the redcloaks by your side. Even just Alex would suffice.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719485
>Use Self-Ignition to try and just run through them and make a mad dash for the far end of the cavern.
>>
>>2719485
>Regardless of what has been done to them, ghouls are your business. Ignite your staff and do your best. (This will require a roll)
>>
>>2719485
>>Regardless of what has been done to them, ghouls are your business. Ignite your staff and do your best. (This will require a roll)
If we store an immolate, will it work even if it only rolls a 1 or 2 on the 1d3 and we don't supply more Wick?
I'm guessing cutting them down would definitely give a curse, but burning them is the all around safest thing to do.
>>
>>2719485
>Use Self-Ignition to try and just run through them and make a mad dash for the far end of the cavern.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
Wait nevermind, I misread somehow. This is a tie. I'll leave it open for ten more minutes and then roll it off if it continues.
>>
>>2719485
>Regardless of what has been done to them, ghouls are your business. Ignite your staff and do your best. (This will require a roll)

Time to tip the balance, and I think we should save the self-immolation for the big boss behind these ghouls.
>>
Fair enough. Called and writing.
>>
>Regardless of what has been done to them, ghouls are your business. Ignite your staff and do your best.

The sword won’t do you any good, not against ghouls. It lacks both reach and has too much of an edge. It would just make it worse before it got better. You hurriedly sheath it as you back away from your attempted ambusher, doing your best to keep all the other ghouls in your field of vision.

You ready your staff and just as the first lunges for you, you set it aflame!

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8

The staff bursts into flame and just that is enough to forestall the first one, sending it momentarily fleeing from your presence. And that itself is interesting. These creatures aren’t really puppeted at all. So how is the Workshop controlling them?

But that momentary fear is just that: momentary. You are now surrounded. It is time to get work.

>Roll 1d6 for Orion. The first 3 shall be collected for his action and since he is using a staff, they will automatically fall in their best order.

Additionally,

>Roll a 1d3 for Dead King’s Crown and choose what Flame Rite or Benediction is using that Wick to be stored within the weapon ignition. Only the first d3 will be used.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>2719691
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>2719691
>>
Rolled 2 (1d3)

>>2719691
Cleansing benediction.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>2719691
>>
>>2718876
You mean make overly convoluted plans with stupid mistakes built in to allow the hero to defeat us?
>>
>Cursed number roll
>Fuck ups for 2 actions
Being Orion is suffering.
>>
>>2719691
Why aren't we using a benediction on ourselves for the cursed status?
>>
>>2719691
Lets cure that curse with dead kings crown
>>
>>2719759
No time. And sorry for the delay guys, just lost a lot of time to a random spaceout.
>>
>>2719739
Where do you think we could find a white cat?

>>2719772
S'fine.
>>
>>2719764
That's what the Cleansing Benediction is for.
>>
Alright I’m back and hopefully more awake. Updates will continue! There’s nothing spookier than lost time.

>2, 6,1

Your first swing goes hopelessly wide as the ghoul bounds towards you, the burning staff swinging past its malformed head and setting the long grass aflame. And while the spreading fire wards off two of your attackers, the one that dove past your swing is upon you!

Claws rake down your left arm, a glancing blow but one that peels flesh all the same. Your gauntlet protects your hand but only at the cost of being split. You shake off the useless metal as you dive backwards with your burning staff held out before you like the protective ward it is.

You hit the ground hard and immediately swing the Iron Duke’s flaming tail around, setting all the grass around you aflame. They won’t burn for long but they’ll burn bright enough to keep the ghouls back. It looks like that despite whatever modifications they might have had, their flesh is still wax to the flame.
You slowly rise to your feet, blood oozing down your arm. The pain is hidden, stored away by your mind to relive later. You stand alone in a growing circle of fire that the ghouls pace around the edges of warily.

The flame of the staff reinvigorates you, reviving lost Benediction from within you. Whatever those ...things in the hall had done to you, it should be child’s play now to remove i-

>6

The world shakes and unmakes itself before your very eyes.

You are standing on a metal platform overlooking the ruins of the Firecrafting Wor-No! That’s not right! You are not here!

You are stumbling down the oversized steps of the dusty dark Senate Hall, surrounded by corpses and confronted only by an insane mach-No! No no no!

You are crouching, clutching your head. And you are doing it in the elevator of the Paper Bridesmaid. Flickering sins of vice and depravity s-Stop! This is not real!

You are thrown to the cold grip of the earth, smeared with mud. A stone figure raises a fist above its head to crush you and you close your eyes and cease believing in it.

The shipyards now. Something vast and metal looms over you and above it, a hooded fi-This isn’t right either!

A hole in the ground. Deeper, deeper, deeper, come deeper. See the dead heart of the world. Down in the Deep Earth Mines is the fate of all men and the two mutilated sisters and no no stop! You aren’t meant to be here!

Of course. You are being buried out in the wasteland in mass grave, every man and woman and child who you have killed. This is what you deserve. No it isn’t! None of this is real!

“So what?”

You are sitting in the ruins of Watchtower Saiph, right next to the broken stump of the lamp-post. There is no sun in the sky and all the stars are dead. Sitting across from you is Savina, still wearing her magisterial uniform and feathered cap. She repeats what she had just said.
1/2
>>
>>2719899
“So what? Do you think that makes a difference, Orion? This is all lie but what’s the point of calling it out when lies are all you see?”

“It’s not right. You are dead.”

“Lots of things are dead. The world in general, for a start. That’s our fault as a species. And soon you will be too, Lamplighter. And when the city crushes you, promise me that you’ll remember my last words. Remember them and know that I was right.”
She kicks a piece of rubble and sends it skipping away into a pile of red-cloaked corpses. They’re not Lamplighters.
“You could at least thank me for all the use you’ve been getting out of my sword.”

“Where am I?”

“The final fate of all mankind. All witches too, I guess.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Get out! Get me out!”

“I can leave if you want.”
She stands and in doing so, turns to face away from you. Her silhouette somehow becomes indistinct in the process. It could be anyone standing there now.
“After all, there’s someone who’s a little more suited to these surroundings. Wouldn’t you want to talk to her?”

“None of this real. This is just a lie.”

“So it won’t matter then?”
The voice is different. It’s...it’s...it’s. You see a flash of bright orange hair.

You don’t even know what you were sitting on but you’ve fallen off it in your mad scramble to get away from her. Rocks and gravel scrabble uselessly beneath your feet as you push yourself back until your back is to the lamp-post that you destroyed. And it’s not far enough to avoid those eyes.
“No! No no no no no no no NO!

You shut your eyes and pray to God. You can be anywhere, with anyone. Any place at all. Anywhere but here.

Of whom do you think?


>Alexandra.

>Beatrice.

>The redcloaks whose names you theoretically know.

>Someone dead.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719900
>Other (Specify)
Can it be any other?
>God
>>
>>2719904
Yeah I'll allow it.
>>
>>2719909
>inb4 we die and join God lmao
>>
>>2719900
>Beatrice
>>
>>2719904
I like the way you think.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2719900
We cant just focus on casting that benediction instead of trying to outmind the reality?
>>
>The Wheel God

In this time of trouble, as in all others, you can find comfort in God. You scorned Him once as a youth, even when you were a Lamplighter and divine service. It took the biggest mistake of your life and the death of the Sun for you to see the light and by then...it had been too late.

The sun is dead and with it God. You didn’t truly have faith until God was dead and you had outlived Him. What kind of sorry fate was that? And now, entire generations have been born in the absence of the Wheel God. Alex has never seen the sun as it should be.

But with the death of the sun came purpose. It saved you then, that errant shard that landed on the concrete before you. It had given you new life. And what a life it has been! As you carried the lamp post across the wasteland, as you crossed from one edge of the world from another...you have been living for the shard. Your life is their life. For as long as you live, the sun might yet return.

In death, there is said to be peace. But in life there is duty and it cannot be abandoned.

You cannot allow yourself the peace of death! You still have so much more that you must do. And if not you, then who? You will outlast this curse, you will slay these ghouls and the Thorn will fall. Contrary to what some believe, you are not unkillable. But you only have to pretend to be for a little while longer.

Now rise. Your work is not yet done.

….

Your eyes snap open, momentarily free of the mental unmaking visited upon you by the choir. You are still lying in the circle of flame, the fire running harmlessly over and around you. And beyond that...a ghoul.

The creature leaps across the flames, claws flashing! You bat it down with the staff and with the force of your swing, force it to the burning earth. And as you do so, you let the magic within the staff release itself with a flash of white light.
The Cleansing Benediction purifies you, leaving you free of whatever curse the choir had laid upon you. You still don’t know how to explain but it won’t be happening again.

The ghouls close in, the fire is dying down and your stave has nearly dimmed. It is here, in this incongruously daylit meadow, where the metal meets the meat. In such situations faith can be a mighty weapon. A mightier one still however, is to make sure you’re the one holding the metal.
You bat two ghouls away with one swing, dancing from one patch of embers to the next. They won’t follow you all the way and with the reach of your staff, that’s your advantage.

1/2
>>
>>2719927
The ghoul reels, the left half of its face melting from where the dying flames of your staff struck it. The next one forces you to catch its strike with your staff, the ghoulclaws carving furrows into the tail of the Iron Duke. But even doing this blunts them, the fire atop the stave softening them as it would to any part of the ghoul.

You can’t risk yourself, you can’t afford to be maimed any further or to die. But this defensive dance is a demanding task and if you make even the slightest slip up, if you rest for just a short time on earth that is not aflame, the ghouls will move as one and disassemble you.


>It didn’t work out that well before but practice makes perfect. Re-Ignite your weapon and continue fighting the ghouls. (Will force another roll)

>Set the whole meadow aflame to drive them off. It should only take 2 points of Wick to do it right.

>Bolt for the far side of the cavern and your objective. You don’t have to fight these things forever, just for long enough.

>Set yourself on fire.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719928
>Bolt for the far side of the cavern and your objective. You don’t have to fight these things forever, just for long enough.
Time is of the essence. We grab the shard and then deal with the gouls in better shape.
>>
>>2719928
>>Bolt for the far side of the cavern and your objective. You don’t have to fight these things forever, just for long enough.
>>
Ouro: Can we upgrade Friend to the Flames so we don't get burnt as much by the Sunshard?
>>
>>2719948
I hadn't actually thought of that. Sure, that can be an option in the next upgrade vote.
>>
Another possible upgrade could be Benediction of Warmth. It's free, so we can go around happily spamming it.
>>
>>2719928
>Bolt for the far side of the cavern and your objective. You don’t have to fight these things forever, just for long enough.
Cleansing benediction cleared the curse yeah?
>>
>>2719956
Yes.

Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2719949
....what. I thought that was deliberate.

>>2719928
>>It didn’t work out that well before but practice makes perfect. Re-Ignite your weapon and continue fighting the ghouls. (Will force another roll)
pissing in the wind
>>
>Bolt for the far side of the cavern and your objective. You don’t have to fight these things forever, just for long enough.

You keep up the maneuver for another tense fifteen seconds, keeping an eye on the light at the far end of the cavern. You’ve got to make sure that the path is clear and that means making it so that you are between all the remaining ghouls and the path. The moment you’ve had them all on that side of you and-there!

You break into a sudden sprint across the meadow, blood staining the white grass behind you.You pour all your focus into running, staff in both hands and your sword, wick and lamp all safely sheathed away. The flames on the stave have run dry but you don’t need fire to run. Only after the slope flattens out do you take your gaze off the ground directly in front of you and look back.
And when you do, it is a surprising sight. The ghouls aren’t chasing after you. They’re loping in you general direction but only lazily and even as you watch, some curve away and head back towards the entrance. Now that’s interesting! Whatever means they use to control these things, it must be kept somewhere near that side of the cavern. Or perhaps the ghouls, lacking the puppet strings they usually have, simply don’t want to get anywhere near the source of the light.

And what a source it is! Now that you are closer you can see it clearly and you have no word for something so obviously holy yet profoundly sacrilegious. It is a tree of some sort but to call it a tree is to call the monolithic towers of Dis ‘tall’. True but wholly useless when it comes to describing the truth of the thing.
It is almost like a tumour, a cluster of snaking branches coated in thick white bark and thorns. It has a stubby trunk but some of the branches that sprout from it rise all the way to the ceiling. Into the ceiling even, many of the tubelike branches melding seamlessly with the wood of the Thorn. It is to here the light is flowing.
But just as it drinks in the light, it also spreads a radiance of its own. Arrayed along the branches are silver flowers from whose bell-shaped clusters flowed constant trickles of lumescent nectar. A shimmering aura of heat and light surrounds it and if you had seen such a thing on your journeys, you would have knelt before what was surely something beloved by the Flame.

But once the light has been blinked from your eyes, you spot more troubling elements. The trees’ base ends in a square pool of mixing colours and strewn throughout it were human bones. Dozens and dozens of skeletons are heaped within the pool in an array of utterly indecent positions that are bizarrely made even worse when enacted by bone instead of flesh and blood. Skulls gleam eyelessly with their jaws sprung upon in frozen ecstacy. And this tree-shaped thing was growing from them. The bones and the pool form its foundation.
1/2
>>
>>2719972
Even worse is the white-cloaked man standing before it all, apparently unfazed by the heat. You recognise him if only because you just saw him die. Dr Surrex is in remarkably good shape for a man who should have been shot several times. He turns to face you as you approach and, perhaps just in your imagination, the branches of the hideous tree turn with him.
“So neither of the choirs did anything? Really? They were my pride and joy.”

You try not to speak with the unholy. But there is just one thing you have to know.
“How are you still alive?”

“You killed my bud then. It was just a simulacrum, a cutting of myself that I planted there. It only would have lived a few hours anyway. I was hoping that it would tell you to look elsewhere.”

“It did. Why would I believe it?”
You are still approaching and speaking only to try and mask that you are. The moment you enter swinging range, this talk ends.

“Stop. Don’t come another step closer.”
You don’t listen, prompting the doctor to try and take a different tack.
“Look at it, Lamplighter! You cannot tell yourself that this is a thing of the dark! And if you destroy it all of humanity is doomed! No tricks, no misdirections. The Surrexerunt is vital to mankind!”
He actually sounds...earnest. He certainly looks it, his empty hands held up in a gesture of surrender.


>”You have twenty seconds. Explain.”

>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!

>You’re close enough to launch an Immolate. It won’t be much of one but for a single man it doesn’t have to be.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2719973
>You’re close enough to launch an Immolate. It won’t be much of one but for a single man it doesn’t have to be.
>>
>>2719973
>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!
We ain't got the resources to launch an immolate and later deal with ghouls and the like. Also there is the other doctor.
>>
Interlude

When I was but a student, I was once told that the goal of the doctor was to banish chaos from the order of the human form. Disease and injury were disruptions to a system given to us by the Flame and by the Wheel God and that the finest job you could do is to restore that system to working order.
I spent years unlearning this claptrap. Think on it for a moment and then forget it, it will be of no use to you.

Instead ask yourself why must the role of ‘doctor’ be so limited? Why content yourself with just curing illnesses and patching together torn flesh? The true role of the doctor is to not just safeguard the human form but to improve it. What would a traditional doctor do with a deformed child? Or even someone with sound body and mind but simply wanted to be ...better? Or different? To improve and to advance the betterment of all life, that is true medicine.

But that choice isn’t given to us. We are creatures that were designed and we are meant to only fill a single role: To be weapons in a war that we didn’t even start. How can any improvement be done when we are a created thing with a blueprint and a cycle of being renewed, rendered obsolete and replaced? Why couldn’t the First and Second Men be allowed to adapt themselves to the changing world? And why were we made to be unable to achieve the wonders of those that came before us?

People who mock me often use the phrase ‘tyranny of Creation’ as it is one I use often. They think it sounds absurd. I think it is the truth. To the created, creation is control. And beneath the tyranny of Creation, true medicine is impossible.

Only when Man can choose their own bodies and their own capabilities rather than rely on those arbitrarily handed to us will we be free.
Only when the created create themselves.

-An excerpt from The Tangle Workshop Orientation Handbook, written by, among others, a ‘Dr Spinae’
>>
>>2719973
>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!
all their experiments are attempts to make a new Plant Man, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to their guinea pigs to do it.
>>
>>2719973
>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!
>>
>>2719973
>>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!
>>
>>2719984
I can share the transhumanist sentiment, but your methods are disgusting, doctor.
>>
>>2719988
also, you know, the whole "kill the sun and leave most of the population to die".
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2719972
>an array of utterly indecent positions
Wait what? I thought those were the remains of Surrexerunt blossoms! What did Spinae do, make people fuck until they grew flowers?

>>2719973
>>”You have twenty seconds. Explain.”
Crap, I'm too late.

What if it really was the last of humanity's hope? Surrex is nicer than Erunt. Aside from creating really creepy maneater trees.
>>
>>2719984
He's got a point.
>>
>>2719989
>also, you know, the whole "kill the sun and leave most of the population to die".
That was included under the methods. I'm sure Dr. Spinae went along with this to get a shard to power his research.
>>
>>2719997
>What if it really was the last of humanity's hope
If that guy cared about humanity he wouldn't have destroyed the sun.
>>
>>2720000
Surrex isn't responsible for that, and it's possible that the tree was made as a replacement for the sun. If we can't bring the sun back, we'd have lost the fallback.

Anyway! I'd really like someone to ask them about Bea's Wick.
>>
>>2720002
Surrex isn't responsibe for the tree either, we're discussing Spinae right now.

Also, I don't see the tree banishing creatures of the dark, or feeding crops in the wider world, or providing a source of fire, so it's not a replacement.
>>
>”The only thing vital to Man is the sun you killed.” Attack!

Oh, there are many things you shall endure from servants of the darkness. Pain, injury, affliction, loss...but you will not be lectured. You had enough of this from the Iron Duke.
“Is it?,” you snarl. “The only thing vital to humanity is the sun you killed!”

And with those words you launch yourself back into a run and while your Flame Internal is running low, you’re more than ready to beat him to death with nothing but steel and flesh if you have to. But before you reach him, you spot another rustle in the long white grass as you charge past it and having learned from before, immediately throw yourself to the side.
And you’re right to do so as another white-cloaked figure jumps up, long knife waving!

“I told you that he wouldn’t listen! Why would he ever?”
You recognise the voice but don’t place a name to it immediately.

You avoid the sweep of the knife and pull yourself away from your new assailant just in time to see Dr Surrex pull a tightly coiled strip of thorny vine from his coat pocket. Unlike the strange knife you recognise that immediately and sigh as you take up a new position where you can keep both of them in view. You are getting sick of those damned whips.

And because of that it actually takes you a few moments to recognise the newcomer. At first glance, she looks like a second Dr Surrex. But her androgynous face is slightly narrower and after that you see her for what she is. Dr Erunt, the woman who defiled Abraham.
And also the woman who you most certainly killed atop the clock tower.

“Don’t any of you just stay dead?”
You take a step back to avoid a crack of Surrex’s poisoned whip. He’s not as skilled with that thing as some of the Thorn Captains you’ve fought in the past but he’s surprisingly quick with it.

“Oh I did,” Erunt grunts as she takes advantage of your sidestep to try and stab you. Her long knife is coated with a foul black paste that you are certain you want nowhere near you and the whole thing has a familiar shape that you now see for what it is: A ghoulclaw somehow kept preserved in perfect condition after amputation. Armour wouldn’t help you against that thing.
“You got me good. Not a bud. But that means nothing to you because you don’t even know what you’re trying to kill!”

Your staff vastly outranges her blade, ghoulclaw or not. You’re about to use that to cave her skull in when a sudden shift in the light makes you look up to see the the branches of the tree-thing uncoil in a blaze of light. The branch crashes down into the ground where you had been with enough force to dent the ground and send you rolling away. Shining nectar is spilled everywhere and flowers are torn asunder along the branch in question as, with a sound of cracking wood, the entire branch breaks free from the tree as a result of the effort.
1/2
>>
>>2720005
Keep away from the tree while fighting these two, understood. But how are they controlling it?

Before you can recover Surrex is hounding you again, each crack of his whip driving you back. In your peripheral vision you can see Erunt jumping over the fallen branch. It’s a bit of a tricky fight and you are exhausted but for some perverse reason you can’t help but feel a little cheated somehow.
“Is this it? This is your shard and you two are the only ones here defending it?”
Erunt closes in and you pummel her in the stomach with a quick staff thrust that sends her tumbling back.
“Where’s the rest of you?”

“We’re doctors!,” Surrex shouts, having the sheer nerve to sound appalled. “We don’t have an army! Most of them are just volunteers!”

He makes another lash with the whip and this time you’re ready, catching in on your staff and letting it curl up tight. Surrex’s lack of experience shows when you pull. He doesn’t let go and instead stumbles forward helplessly and falls to his knees. You’re about to break his jaw when you Erunt forces you away from him with a jab of her knife.
“Get away!”
She’s up and unharmed far quicker than someone who just took a length of solid metal to the abdomen should be. And while you dodge her poisoned blade, you don’t avoid the fist as her haymaker cracks you around the side of the skull with enough force to briefly knock you silly.

So it isn’t just Surrex who is stronger than he looks. You were hoping to hold onto what was left of your Wick to deal with the ghouls but you might need it after all.


>Ignite Weapon.

>Immolate.

>Self-Ignition.

>No, there’s no need. (Forces a dice roll)

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2720007
>Ignite weapons.
Getting fucked by that wound really got us good. We still need the wick for medical stuff and those ghouls.
>>
>>2720007
>Self-Ignition.

We'll win in a close range fight, we just to avoid getting overly wounded.
>>
>>2720007
>>No, there’s no need. (Forces a dice roll)
unless we need healing, save it.

My suspicion is that, as we are near the source, using any fire at all will target a big fat mark on us as "food" for the tree and we'll be skewered by dozens of roots.
>>
>>2720007
>Ignite Weapon + store Self-Ignition

If we still have the whip wrapped around our staff we'll burn it, and Self-Ignition wil lprotect us from their fists. Also, we can try burning the grass again.

Besides this, are the flowers on that tree usable for a Detonate?
>>
>>2720011
I second attempting to use the nectar or flowers for Detonate
>>
>>2720012
We need to use Detonate more in general. Get a supply of lanterns and go to town.
>>
>>2720013
Ouro won't let us loot streetlamps.

Also, the star kinda put a stop to doing it more discreetly.
>>
>>2720003
It makes humans who don't need the sun or grown food. We might really need those.
>>
>>2720007
>>No, there’s no need. (Forces a dice roll)
Gimme a four, baby.

>Why do you need the treem
>>
>>2720007
Changing my vote to
>Ignite Weapon.
I just realized there's a chance we go to 0 wick if we self-ignite which would be Bad.
>>
>>2720025
It's not that bad. Every 4 we get will net us two Wick.
>>
>>2720012
>>2720007
Let's give this a shot.

Every single time they've betrayed and hurt us, so fuck them.
>>
Could we ask them about the tree, about Wicks? How did they give plants Wick?

(I'm still hoping to be able to implant one in Bea. I know it's impossible, but I'd still like to hear these doctors say it.)
>>
>>2720044
The majority of what they've done seems to involve putting plants in people(or vice versa), putting people in people(witch, man, etc), and just doing better surgery work on living things than witches.

They would probably implant someone ELSE'S Flame Internal into her. They probably already TRIED on others. I don't think she'd say yes even if it would work.
>>
>>2720044
>How did they give plants Wick?
They made people into plants.
>>
File: flake.png (25 KB, 1009x761)
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25 KB PNG
Sorry guys I dozed off again. And considering that that keeps happening and that it's past midnight, I'm gonna get some real sleep. I'll be back tomorrow in 9 hours or so.
>>
>Detonatr

I can't actually remember if you can detonate an actual living being's flame internal, but I think it's worth noting this thing probably has an assload of wick.

I'm in support of dropping a fat man to match our earlier little boy but we happen to be RIGHT NEXT TO THIS THING.
>>
>>2720063
Normally the problem is that the Flame Internal is waaaaay deep in their guts and you'd snuff it out sticking your hand in.

But these plants kinda sound like their wicks are out in full display....
>>
>>2720065
Wicks out for Beatrice.
>>
>>2720063
>I can't actually remember if you can detonate an actual living being's flame internal
Unfortunately, we can't. We are not Fist of the North Star.
>>
>>2720080
I think Orion's figure and body type wouldn't be out of place in such though.
>>
>>2720080
> Yet

>>2720007
> Detonate the plants
>>
>>2720096
There's no Yet about it. This was a question asked when we fought the Duke. We cannot detonate Wick Internal.
>>
>>2720007
>>No, there’s no need. (Forces a dice roll)
>>
>>2720080
>No fun allowed.jpg
>>
The flame eternal isn't a physical thing, right? It's the metaphor for man's relation with the essence of God.
>>
>>2720134
I was very disappointed too.
>>
>>2720157
It's not an organ, at least.
>>
Considering the twins are capable of controlling the tree, I don't think approaching it is such a good idea.
>>
>>2720197
>Considering the twins are capable of controlling the tree, I don't think approaching it is such a good idea.
I think it's the other way around; the tree is controlling them.
>>
>>2720201
Pretty sure they ARE the tree in some sense, Dr. Spinae seems to be all about stretching the bounds of what plants can be.
>>
>>2720209
Yeah, considering this, even if it's wrong, the tree is likely to contain a Wick instead of a wick which we cannot detonate anyway.
>>
>>2720212
Yeah, reading back the Errunt interlude from the previous chapter alongside the interludes written on this one, this thing is called the Surrexerunt, I think spinae created a new species that hold the gift of the Wick out of plant and the shard, Surrex and Erunt are actually the same being alongside the tree.

>"The Wick within him was the same as the one within the tree" - from the interlude last chapter.
Pretty much proves that the tree contains Wick which we cannot detonate, alongside the fact that the twins are basically offshoots of that tree that remain autonomous even outside of direct contact with the tree or it's capillaries, I think it could still control the broken branch and its flowers.
>>
>>2720232
Yeah. I don't want to destroy the tree, humanity might die out as a result. The Surrexerunt is like a second chance after the rest of humanity dies out from lack of sun and food.
>>
>>2720240
They have Wick, that means they're human.
>>
>>2720242
It's not like being human is grounds to forgive the shit they did.
>>
>>2720232
To do some more theorizing, I'd guess the thorn's plan was to replace humanity (a species shackled by the "tyranny of creation") with these plant hybrids. But in order to make complete beings they need a Wick, something which ONLY humans have, so instead of creating the hybrids from nothing they have to be made out of human biologic material, hence all the crazy mutagenic stuff. I imagine the pile of bones at the base of the is the remains of some people who were sacrificed and merged with the shard to create the Surrexerunt.

Which is really interesting imo, adds a lot of complexity to their motivates. I imagine the "twist" if you want to call it that is that Spinae was right, humanity WAS burdened by its creator to be unable to grow or change, but the fourth men will be different and won't suffer the limitations of the previous races, probably at the cost of losing any of the crazy magical ability / intelligence / toughness that the characterized the previous ages.
>>
>>2720240
We have to destroy the tree if it contains the shard, also, as long as it remains the twins can return and the Thorn will remain.
>>2720242
I actually think they aren't, I'm pretty sure they're the result of Spinae's experiments to create a new man, one based on plant life.
>>2720253
I don't think these were exactly the result Spinae wanted seeing as there's only one of them, I believe this "fourth man" is still dependent on the shard and the Surrexerrant were merely a milestone on the path to creating a self sustaining, capable of reproduction "fourth man" that is unhindered by creation, capable of change and evolution.
Too bad we killed the guy, oh well.
>>
>>2720271
Yeah imo the worst part of the star drop was losing a bunch of potentially interesting characters. But hey that was months ago at this point.

Also I wonder what's going to happen to the thorn once we remove the shard, it'll probably wither and die right? Maybe it'll fall over and create even more chaos.
>>
>>2720287
It's still a bunch of hard wood, I imagine it'd just rot over time, on the other hand, a bunch of experiments might escape which could cause some chaos.
>>
>>2720247
>It's not like being human is grounds to forgive the shit they did.
It has nothing to do with forgiving them! If we don't manage to restore the sun, and we destroy this tree, it'd be as if we wiped out humanity ourselves!>>2720271
>We have to destroy the tree if it contains the shard, also, as long as it remains the twins can return and the Thorn will remain.
Worth. The. Cost.
They are a humanity backup, they're too valuable to kill!
>>
>>2720440
I don't see why you think they're a backup to humanity. You only have their word for this, and they have been confirmed to lie to misdirect us in this very thread.
>>
>>2720440
They're not actually a humanity backup seeing as they're still dependent on the shard, if they were fully realized and capable of reproduction I'd actually consider keeping them, but seeing as there're only two offshoots of the tree and research still seems to be going on, they're clearly not viable. Seeing as Spinae is dead, I doubt they'll ever be, if there was ever even a chance.
Perhaps if Orion manages to learn more about Spinae's ideals and actually considers them he could suggest some of them to the Wheel God once he is resurrected, but for now keeping the tree alive is pointless nor does Orion know about any of this in-game.
It's not like we can just leave this shard behind and come back for it later after spending so much effort on getting anyway.
>>
>>2720480
>It's not like we can just leave this shard behind and come back for it later after spending so much effort on getting anyway.
Nah, we'd be leaving it entirely. Just make it one shard we can't get. Like Maria's.

>>2720480
>They're not actually a humanity backup seeing as they're still dependent on the shard, if they were fully realized and capable of reproduction I'd actually consider keeping them, but seeing as there're only two offshoots of the tree and research still seems to be going on, they're clearly not viable.
They're viable enough to make more Surrexes and Erunts, and they are... maybe able to make babies? Dunno, but they are saying that they're needed for humanity, and it sounds plausible enough.
They're a viable replacement until the shard runs out, and we've seen nothing that says that shards other than the ones in Orion's lamppost can run out.
>Seeing as Spinae is dead, I doubt they'll ever be, if there was ever even a chance.
They are doctors, they might know everything Spinae knew. I don't care about Spinae's ideals, I care about humanity's survival, and they're the next best shot after us.
>>
>>2720500
Are you sure the Surrexerunt is human? It might look like it, but it could also just be an effect after it was fed A LOT of humans during its growth. Also, the earthen gods now have free reign now that the sun is dead, so we have no idea how they'll fiddle with the supposed plant humans. Seems like a big risk to leave them alive when we know that they hate our guts, and we aren't even sure if their creations can create sentience without direct support from a sun shard.
>>
>>2720500
>Nah, we'd be leaving it entirely. Just make it one shard we can't get. Like Maria's.

We need all of them, even hers.

>They're viable enough to make more Surrexes and Erunts, and they are... maybe able to make babies? Dunno, but they are saying that they're needed for humanity, and it sounds plausible enough.

Clones that degrade more after each time they die. and they LIE, and lie a lot. Like just this thread one guy said turn back.

>They're a viable replacement until the shard runs out, and we've seen nothing that says that shards other than the ones in Orion's lamppost can run out.
Not seen anything to suggest they do not either. Fire dying mean they as fire are dying too, just more slowly. Remember HUNDREDS of shards died when it shattered.

>They are doctors, they might know everything Spinae knew.
That's like saying as an inventor you know everything Elon Musk knows.
>I don't care about Spinae's ideals, I care about humanity's survival, and they're the next best shot after us.
Issue is for our shot to work theirs must fall.
>>
Alright I'm awake a bit earlier than expected! Vote called, session resumes soon!
>>
>>2720519
>Are you sure the Surrexerunt is human?
They have a Wick. That's the test of whether or not something is human.
>Also, the earthen gods now have free reign now that the sun is dead, so we have no idea how they'll fiddle with the supposed plant humans.
They probably tested the effects of earth on them already. I'm not really sure what you mean by this.
>Seems like a big risk to leave them alive when we know that they hate our guts
It is. Especially now that we know they can track Bea, and have hunted us before. That's now THEIR problem to solve. If they can't convince us, then I suppose we'll have to kill them.
>we aren't even sure if their creations can create sentience without direct support from a sun shard.
They probably can't. I'm suggesting we leave the shard with them.


>>2720524
>We need all of them, even hers.
Not necessarily. Orion has no idea how many shards he'll need. Obviously, though, the more the better, but I think a backup of humanity, if they are such, is worth a shard less.
>Clones that degrade more after each time they die.
VERY good point. They might not actually be a viable backup. Orion doesn't know that, though, which leads into your next point:
>they LIE, and lie a lot.
Yep. That's going to be their problem, they're going to have to be really convincing.
>Not seen anything to suggest they do not either. Fire dying mean they as fire are dying too, just more slowly. Remember HUNDREDS of shards died when it shattered.
Yeah, but the Duke squeezed his to light the whole city for decades. They really might not run out.
>That's like saying as an inventor you know everything Elon Musk knows.
They were Elon Musk's personal assistant doctors.
>Issue is for our shot to work theirs must fall.
Not necessarily! This came up in a previous thread, we don't actually know how many shards we'll need, or what we'd do with them once we had them.
>>
>>2720555
Humans can still be monstrous though.
>>
>Ignite Weapon
>Attempt Detonation

You’ll have to find some other way to deal with the ghouls afterwards because you can’t afford to not take these two seriously. Both of their weapons are poisonous and while you’ve felt the usual effect of the whip, you wouldn’t past them to have changed it out for something special.

So it’s time to end this. Gaining distance from either of them, you run your wick down the length of the staff and let your Flame Internal die out. The heat upon your brow increases as Bella’s gift takes up all of the heavy lifting.

>Wick: 0/10
>Spark: 2/8

Your staff bursts into flame and both of the doctors take a step back as they pace around you. They’re not grouped up and that’s a problem in itself. You’re more than a match for any single one of them but the moment you attack one, the other drives you back. A good ranged blast like an Immolate would solve that but you really don’t want to spend that much Wick.
You nearly step upon a fallen silver flower and with it, inspiration. What were you doing, thinking you were in danger of running low? In here, a heart of light and flame of all places? Your weapons are scattered everywhere!

After carefully judging the distance, you bend and pick up the flower. It has a texture not unlike smooth leather and within it is fire.

Wick: 3/3

“Shit!”
Erunt charges you immediately but you simply throw the flower in her direction, exciting the Wick within as you do so. The bloom bursts into a ball of flame midair and sets the screaming doctor on fire. She runs immediately, scrambling back towards the tree.
But you don’t spend any time watching her, you’re already dodging the whip as Surrex does his best to drive you back.

“Stop! Wait!.”
Surrex is still trying to talk to you, even as your flaming staff catches his whip and burns it in half.
“What you seek won’t work! And even if it did, you can’t deliver them to the Sun! Nothing you do here will bring it back! And if you kill this, you kill humanity’s last hope! Please!”

Behind him, you can see his sister extinguish herself by throwing herself bodily into the multi-coloured pool.


>Roll 1d3 to activate Dead King’s Crown. Only the first result will be used.

Additionally,

>Perhaps you can talk to him. It might fool him into lowering his guard.

>Words exchanged with blasphemers are worth little.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d3)

>>2720631
>>Words exchanged with blasphemers are worth little.
>>
>>2720631
>Words exchanged with blasphemers are worth little.
>Humanity has been without hope since your master killed the Sun. The people of Dis are just too stupid to know it.
>>
>>2720631
>>Perhaps you can talk to him. It might fool him into lowering his guard.
Any information is good information, we still know precious little about the Wheel God as a physical being.
>>
>>2720641
Alright. And while the main vote continues, reply to this post to vote for what Flame Rite or Benediction those 3 points of Dead King's Crown are spent on.
Hopefully this streamlines the process.
>>
>>2720652
>http://pastebin.com/4TrWRPPq
Immolate as this has enough wick to use it.

Also we get +1 Wick from rolling that 3 yeah?
>>
>>2720668
Oh yes, you are correct.
>>
>>2720613
>Humans can still be monstrous though.
We're monstrous. And we're trying to save humanity.
>>2720631
>>Perhaps you can talk to him. It might fool him into lowering his guard.
He might be RIGHT.
>>
>>2720652
Self-Ignition. It's another Power Number, a 1.
>>
>>2720631
>Words exchanged with blasphemers are worth little.
>>2720652
Immolate
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
Welp. Guess Erunt made a BIG mistake when she killed Abe.
>>
>>2720725
I don't think it was killing him as much as stripping him of his humanity and destroying his soul. So yeah Orion is pissed.
>>
>>2720631

>Perhaps you can talk to him. It might fool him into lowering his guard.

Start listing off the times they lied to us. Kidnapped and experimented on Bea. Planted that *thing* in Abe. Tried to kill us when we tried yo talk to them. Tried to kill us while we talked to the doctor earlier. Tried to kill us just now.

If they hadn't been evil from the beginning maybe we could talk, but we literally can't trust anything they say anyways so it doesn't matter what their arguments are.

Just say this or something while getting close to another plant wick.
>>
>>2720744
Yeah killing him would have made us sad. What she did? There's a Special place in Sun hell for her.
>>
>Words exchanged with blasphemers are worth little.
>Store an Immolate

Maybe, if this had taken place just a few days ago, you would have listened. But for the sake of Abraham, you’ll give neither of his despoilers any patience. They haven’t earned it! Your grip on the staff tightens and the fire condenses, flame layered within flame.

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8

You waste no further words as you charge forward. He lashes out with his burned whip once more but your fire wards it off. One step closer, two steps closer, three steps closer, you pull your staff back ready to swing-

“Then die in ignorance.”
He flicks something from his hand at the last minute and it hits the ground in front of you. A seed? And then the ground beneath you erupts into a sudden tangle of hungry brambles, thorned and short-lived. They wrap around you reflexively and even around your staff as it burns them. It is fresh and green and does not burn quickly. You struggle forward for a moment more as thorns dig into flesh. But despite your momentum, you are eventually brought to a stop with your burning stave bound into immobility just a few inches from Dr Surrex’s head.
He tosses aside his now useless whip and pulls from his pocket an ordinary knife, a knife that you are powerless to stop. When next he speaks it sounds tired and automatic.
“Thank you for donating your body to our cause.”


>The brambles are constricting ever tighter. That means you can still break free and cave his skull in!

>If you can just get your sword free, slicing through all of this should be easy!

>Launch the Immolate and hope he doesn’t just move out of the way.

>You have just barely enough Wick to self-ignite!

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2720770
>Launch the Immolate and hope he doesn’t just move out of the way.
>>
File: darnit.jpg (43 KB, 600x600)
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43 KB JPG
Oh whoops, I wrote the wrong amount again. You have 2 points of Wick not 1. Ducal Firecrafting.
>>
>>2720770
>You have just barely enough Wick to self-ignite!

Now that it's safe
>>
>>2720770
>You have just barely enough Wick to self-ignite!
>>
>>2720770
>>You have just barely enough Wick to self-ignite!
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d3)

>>2720901
rolling for self-ignition's dead king's crown
>>
>>2720913
Thanks!
>>
>>2720913
Which is also Self-Ignition's Power Number.
>>
>You have just barely enough Wick to self-ignite!

You watch the knife, and with it your immediate vivisection, crawl into view and you refuse to accept it. But what can you do? You could unleash the Immolate but locked into place like this, it would all go to waste if he moved even one step to the right. Can you break free? Can you even try?

>Wick: 3/10
>Spark: 2/8

Lacking any better option, you stoke the Flame Internal. These thorns won’t burn easy but if it’s that the case, you’ll just have to burn more.

>Wick: 0/10
>Spark: 2 /8

The burning star upon your brow bursts into holy flame as you spontaneously combust, only the barest last amount of power in the molten wax keeping you safe from your own fire. Fire cloaks you, surrounds you, is drawn into yourself with every breath you ever take.

Surrex flinches away from the sudden conflagration and as he does, you flex and smouldering brambles finally snap! You emerge from the trap as a burning avatar, the fire swelling around you like a bonfire. And with all the force and inevitability of a falling tower, you raise your burning staff and bring it down towards the doctor.

Surrex can’t avoid it, he’s well out of time. Instead he simply makes another gesture similar to before, flicking something towards the ground as you advance. Another trap?


>Jump back! The last thing you need is to be entangled again!

>If he had the time to prepare more than one of those things, he would have used them before! He’s bluffing!

>Stay back and just loose the stored Immolate instead.

>Other (Specify)

Additionally,

>You have 1 point of Wick from Dead King’s Crown to use to store a Flame Rite or Benediction in your self-immolation. Choose.
>>
>>2720981
>Stay back and just loose the stored Immolate instead.
can we pump the 1 Wick into the immolate we're about to unleash? We could try to get seed and plantdoctor alike in one blast.
>>
>>2721001
Support as long as we don't lose our flame proofing (we just need 1 wick right?)
>>
>>2721009
Correct.
>>
>>2720981
>Stay back and just loose the stored Immolate instead.
>>
>>2720981
>Stay back and just loose the stored Immolate instead.
>>
>>2720981
>Stay back and just let loose the stored Immolate instead.
Fool me once
>>
>>2721033
>tfw this is a double-bluff and we walk back into a giant thorn or some shit
>>
Vote called, Writing.
>>
>>2721039
Staying still might mean getting stabbed by Erunt, but we still have 1 leftover Wick to heal poison i guess?
>>
>>2721051
Nah I agree we should stay back, I just imagine these guys have loads of tricks up their sleeves.
>>
>>2720913
>>2720967
Ouro, we got +2 Wick.
>>
>>2721070
it's already in there. Without the +2 Wick Orion would be out of Wick and self-ignition would be burning him.
>>
>>2721039
Yep, pretty sure it's a distraction from Erunt.
>>
>>2720981
>Orion flamethrower him
>I ain't no fortunate sunnn
>>
>Stay back and just let loose the stored Immolate instead.

You’re not willing to just blunder into another trap but neither will let you such a fear stay your righteous assault. And you have something that just might consume the both of them. You take a step back and keeping the staff outstretched, you unleash the power of the flame stored within it! The fire burning all around you flickers as it too lends its power to the blast.

Nothing sprouts from the ground to save him. It was just a desperate bluff of man who was out of tricks. It is the action of another that spares the terrified doctor.

In the split second the fire concentrates in the tip of your staff, another pair of hands grabs hold! You had been so focussed on your own predicament that you had lost sight of Dr Erunt and here, still smoking and covered in a film of colourful mud, she rushes forward and seizes hold of your staff! She may have a Wick but she isn’t fireproof and she’s already screaming before you unleash the Immolate.
But she doesn’t let go.

A bolt of liquid flame is loosed and as it is, burning hands drag the end of your staff down towards herself. The Immolate engulfs but even as she falls her grip remains as tight as ever, dragging the staff from hands that, in your surprise, had grown loose.
Her charred corpse collapses into a nearby flowerbed, dragging your staff with it. And as she does so, the thing that they called the Surrexerunt bursts into an even more hideous radiance.

As for Surrex himself, he utters something wordless and guttural and charges! You scramble to draw your sword but not before his mad swing slices open the skin of your cheek! The fire surrounding you scorches his hand in the process and you knock the blade from his hand but by the time the runeblade is in your hands, you hear the sound of cracking wood.

Another of the tree’s limbs is breaking, dragging itself from its moor in the cavern roof to collapse down towards you!


>Use this opportunity to slice him open. The branch can’t hurt THAT much.

>Just focus on not getting crushed!

>Try to tackle Surrex, pushing you away from the falling branch and burning him in the process. (Will force a roll)

>Other (Specify)
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>2721087
>Try to tackle Surrex, pushing you away from the falling branch and burning him in the process. (Will force a roll)
FUGG
and meanwhile our 'cloaks are dying from smoke
damn
>>
>>2721087
>Just focus on not getting crushed!
Because while we're doing that we can grab another flower to reapply self-ignition or whatever else we want.
>>
>>2721087
>Try to tackle Surrex, pushing you away from the falling branch and burning him in the process. (Will force a roll)
If there is a porn parody then this will be the gay scene.
>>
>>2721087
>>Just focus on not getting crushed!

>>2721072
Called it.

>>2721071
Ah right. Miscounted, but even so, we should have one more Wick because of this. >>2720806

All this Wick juggling is really confusing when you're tired.
>>
>>2721087
>>Just focus on not getting crushed!
>>
>>2721108
That....is correct.

2/10
2/8

and i assume the 1 from dead king's crown was wasted on Erunt, damn.
>>
>>2721108
>>2721120
waitno damnit

1/10
2/8

yeah i'm out of it too.
>>
Vote called, writing.

>>2721126
>>2721108
It shouldn't be your responsibility in the first place. You can tell I haven't run for a while by how often I'm dropping a point or so of Wick.
>>
>Just focus on not getting crushed!

You could have stabbed him then. It would have been the perfect moment. But you also could have been crushed beneath the Surrexerunt’s errant limb. You’d throw away one to prevent the other. And so with that split-second decision, you jump back and throw yourself to the ground as the ground shakes.

Flowers and liquid light scatter everywhere as you rise to your feet, sword in hand. The broken branch is a dividing line between you and Surrex, a jagged amputated thing that leaks light like blood. He ducks down the moment you see him, wary of another Immolate.

>Wick: 1/10
>Spark: 2/8

But behind him you can see the tree uncoil. The entire edifice is shaking as it pulls its tangled branches away to reveal a single rose-like bulb at the very top of its stunted trunk. The bulb is tiny but is growing before your very eyes, the entire tree shuddering over and over again as light feeds into it. The pool ripples as the skeletons jerk to some ghastly approximation of life, bone hands all rising up reverently up towards the Surrexerunt.

“No!,” Surrex bellows. He doesn’t even seem to be shouting at you anymore. “I don’t need this! Don’t rush!”
He is now quite thoroughly distracted.


>Jump the fallen branch and kill him.

>He’s not the priority. Rush the tree and sever the bulb.

>Throw a detonating flower at Surrex and then rush the tree.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2721179
>>Throw a detonating flower at the bulb and then rush Surrex.
It's not a bomb, right?
Right?
>>
>>2721179
>Throw a detonating flower at Surrex and then rush the tree.
>>
>>2721179
>Use a flower to power another Immolate at the Bulb
bye bye, Erunt
>>
>>2721149
I think it's because of Dead King's Crown. I still like it though.

>>2721179
>>He’s not the priority. Rush the tree and-
>Hold the bulb hostage. Interrogate Surrex.
>>
>>2721189
>>2721179
Supporting
>>
Anybody feel like going to Surrex's PoV scene and bringing back anything interesting?
>>
>>2721189
Support
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d3)

>>2721250
Dead King's Crown gets SO much work done
>>
>>2721287
Noice.
>>
>>2721287
Nice roll! Yeah we would have been fucked if we always had to mediate for several hours to restore wick.
>>
>>2721217
Was this how their new bodies were made when one of them dies?
>>
>>2721325
Yup. Except she's tying to reform so quickly and is probably going to come out as some kind of monstrosity.
>>
>>2721331
nah. She'll come out as charcoal.
>>
>>2721338
True, Lamplighter "Fire's my attire" Orion being on the scene doesn't bode well for tree-beings.
>>
>Use a flower to power another Immolate at the Bulb

The entire tree is straining and shuddering as it feeds power into itself to regrow...what? Just what monstrosity is going to emerge from that unfolding rose? Whatever it is, even Surrex seems to be distressed by it.
“Stop!,” he’s still crying out! “Not just for me!!”

You decide you’d rather not find out. You scoop a flower from the ground, staining your hand in sparkling nectar that covers the blood. You feel the stolen flame within and in just a moment later, you consume it. The fire still cloaking you roars to life as you extend a hand and, tapping reserves you didn’t even know you had, you transmute the blossom into a pillar of primordial flame.

The Immolate bursts free from your grasp and incinerates the swollen flower entirely, reducing it to a charred stump before scorching the wall behind it. You can see pale white shoots growing from the ruined bud but you know it won’t matter. It won’t have the time.

“No!”
That’s all Dr Surrex has left to say. And to think he was so wordy before. He collapses to his knees, not even moving as you climb over the fallen branch and land on the grass next to him. He doesn’t even look up. Whatever will to fight he had before is now lost.

You don’t know what any of this is about and you don’t care. You’ve come here for one thing. You stab the doctor through the head and he collapses. But having seen both of them return before, you slash his body open from throat to stomach just be sure.
That...that was really all they had.

And now that you are not distracted, it’s a simple matter to dodge the Surrexerunt’s clumsy attacks. Another branch falls and you simply step out of the way as you make your way towards your goal. This thing was not born of the light. It was stolen and kept within it. And now you are here to liberate it.

You recognise the pungent smell of tonic as you approach the pool, dodging another falling branch in the process. Alone, this thing can do nothing to you. You’re not even fighting it, not really. You’re executing it.

You wade through the pool, kicking skeletons out of the way as you approach the Surrexerunt. The tree quivers as you reach out and touch the base of its thick and stunted trunk. You can feel the warmth, you can feel the way the burden on your back responds. Here!

You run the sword down the bark, watching it peel. And then, satisfied, you bring it up once more and slice the base of the abominable tree wide open. The resulting light is blinding but it is not unexpected and, with every every skeletal jaw suddenly gaping open in a silent scream, you reach in and extract the flame!

The cavern goes dark, the light in the tree and the walls extinguished save for the painful ember in your hand. And without the light, the illusion of the world before has vanished. Now it’s nothing more than a cyst full of wilting flowers.
1/2
>>
>>2721393
Soon the warmth will fade from the Thorn. The entire spire, like the daylowers it nurtured within, will soon become a corpse.

The Surrexerunt shudders one final time and as it cracks open like wood long gone to rot, it expels two final buds the size of your fist. Both of them are malformed and transparent things that shiver in the absence of light.

You stomp on both of them. Victory.


>Holy power rushes into you!

>Choose one Flame Rite or Benediction to improve.
>Friend To The Flame
>Ignite Weapon
>Detonate
>Self-Ignition
>Immolate
>Benediction of Warmth
>Cleansing Benediction
>Purging Benediction
>Benediction of Succour
>Cauterise Wound
>Benediction of Relief
>>
>>2721394
>>Friend To The Flame
>>
>>2721394
>Friend To The Flame
We can't NOT pick this, it's a whole level of useful over the others. It's too.....obvious.
>>
>>2721394
>Friend To The Flame
HERE WE GO
>>
File: advancedflaking.png (11 KB, 636x405)
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11 KB PNG
And just like that, I'm off to work! I hope you all had fun. This vote will remain open until I return later tonight.
>>
>>2721394
>Benediction of Succour
Picking this on the off-chance that we can grant stronger wicks to our followers. I think we're well past the point of more burning resistance being a priority, we're too burnt already.
>>
>>2721394
>>Friend To The Flame

>>2721423
The Lamp is INCREDIBLY powerful, even just being able to keep it out for a second or two without hurting ourselves would be a huge boon.
>>
You know...I wonder if our Lamplighter buddy is dead already since we dropped the star.
>>
>>2721473
Which one? One was still entering the city when the star fell and he has a gun that head caps Golems.

The other one is still apparently displayed somewhere.
>>
>>2721484
That one ye.
>>
Going to go with the wave here and say

>Friend to the Flame

It's a good thing we don't know how bad we've probably fucked everything up. Because really, the Thorn was probably the least evil part of Dis, and their plans post-sun death probably the most benevolent towards what's left of mankind.
>>
>>2721547
They're the same people who fucked up Abe and Bea. "Least evil" isn't saying much.
>>
>>2721547
We just killed a skeleton tree that harvests the wicks of the living.
>>
>>2721394
>Friend To The Flame
>>
>>2721547
I don't know, man. We've been walking through an awful lot of flesh gardens and fought a lot of post-human aberrations today. Honestly, the consortium wasn't all that evil in comparison to some of the things we've seen here.
>>
>>2721627
At this point, Tonic is probably onions green. The consortium was the most practically benevolent by being a completely honest business.
>>
>>2721394
>Friend To The Flame

Pity. If they weren't such raging sociopathic assholes they could have done a lot of good.
>>
>>2721394
>Friend To The Flame
>Other: return to Alex post-haste and drag all the redcloaks back here.
We have a lake of tonic and a harvest of fire-filled flowers. We need to loot at least some of this.
>>
>>2721394
>You stomp on both of them. Victory.
I kind of feel bad, in a certain sense the Surrexerunt was a bastard child of both the flame and the dark, there wasn't something inherently evil about it, just the way it was made. The methods it used for experimentation could certainly be called cruel, but I think they simply wanted to create more life like itself, unburdened by matters of life and dark. Simply a plant trying to find a way to reproduce, all the while slowly decaying in its cycles of rebirth.
rip
>>
>>2721931
It's the same issues that Bea struggles with: she doesn't naturally hold any empathy for non-witches, and has to remember that she cares about folks like Abe and Alex.

Only these two chucklefucks went all out on the experiments, man, witch, whatever. They didn't care, didn't even realize that they were doing evil in pursuit of their """logical""" good.

More like children given too much authority and power, whatever their intentions were.
>>
>>2721931
You don't have to be inherently evil to be evil.

Remember that most horrible things are done out of simple motivations that we all share: survival, survival of your children, companionship, feeling of belonging. It's the methods that define horribleness.
>>
>>2721829
Yes, we totally need to do this. If we don't get out soon though, the smoke will get us.

>>2721547
>It's a good thing we don't know how bad we've probably fucked everything up. Because really, the Thorn was probably the least evil part of Dis, and their plans post-sun death probably the most benevolent towards what's left of mankind.
Rip.
>>
>-Benediction of Warmth-
>Cost: 0 Wick (Light Required)
>This blessing requires Orion to touch the target (or himself) and little else, imparting a sense of warmth upon the target that wards them from mundane cold. It can also protect from weak or incidental magical sources of cold such as witch-chill, effectively dispelling them from the target. When used on a creature of the Dark, this Benediction both lets them feel the cold and imparts a chill deep into their bones.
This would work surprisingly well on Maria.

> As a mostly helpful magic, Benedictions can ONLY be used on willing targets or targets who are not expecting the magic and only a master of Benediction can override this law.
But it might not actually be able to be applied to a witch as experienced as her.
Speaking of, should Bea give Maria the Ur Sign, or die?
>>
>>2721975
I think you mean "give Maria the Ur Sign" AND die
>>
I'm back. Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2721983
>I think you mean "give Maria the Ur Sign" AND die
Well, I guess it's a choice between dying screaming or dying quickly?
We can't outthink her or outfight her, we can only outstubborn her, or get her once with a shitty flame trick.
>>
>>2722021
I wonder what the fuck Maria is even doing with her shard, why would she even want one?
>>
Interlude

Oh Surrexerunt, child of light! Born directly from the shard, you are close to God but you do not have to repeat his tyranny. Like your divine parentage, you are multiple in one but bounded by common humanity and Wick. You are immortal and mortal. You are ceaseless, my finest creation and in my darkest hours, my most precious child. You are everything New Humanity should be but every attempt to imitate you has created nothing but failure. If you could but cover the world, all would be saved.

The sun died so that the likes of you could uplift humanity to self-definition, an adaptable new humanity that could live without light or heat or sustenance. Ones that would be free to choose their biology and their purpose.

And yet that I can achieve your creation and only yours feels as if I am being mocked. The deadline fast approaches and if the secrets of genesis cannot be cracked, humanity will die. It was supposed to be easy. The blueprints of the tyrant himself should have shown us the very essence of Man. But it should be possible. If it was done once, it can be done again.
And if I should somehow fall before that day, I will do so knowing that you will take up my quest. I entrust the future of humanity to you.
>>
>>2722031
>I wonder what the fuck Maria is even doing with her shard, why would she even want one?
Trophy? Anyway, I think Orion thinks that Maria's student stole her shard and ran away with it.

>>2722036
Yep. Looks like we were both right? It was a backup for humanity that didn't need the sun, but it was a dead end. Or it was a dead end that the Surrexerunt might have been able to power through in time.

Oh well, better hope that Spinae was wrong.
>The deadline fast approaches and if the secrets of genesis cannot be cracked, humanity will die.
Because there went the backup plan.
>>
>>2721423
>>Benediction of Succour
>Picking this on the off-chance that we can grant stronger wicks to our followers.
Why would giving Wick to our followers help if they don't know how to use it? Not that I mind upgrading our only mind-control spell.
>I think we're well past the point of more burning resistance being a priority, we're too burnt already.
'Orion is currently burned from his hands up past his elbows.'
>>
>>2722036
It seems likely only Surrexerunt could be created because Spinae only had one shard to power them with.

I wonder how he even intended to power an energy-hungry sentient brain with whatever trifles of energy the night flowers live on. Should have minored in physics, man.
>>
>>2722042
>Picking this on the off-chance that we can grant stronger wicks to our followers
>upgrading our only mind-control spell
You're worthy of each other, anons.
>>
>Friend to the Flame

-Friend to the Flame-
Cost: 0 Wick
This magical protection is every true Lamplighter's birthright and one of the simplest Flame Arts possible. Orion cannot be harmed by either normal or magical fire save that of the greatest potency. In addition he can also grasp and manipulate fire with his hands as if it was an ordinary physical substance. This Rite costs nothing to maintain but if Orion's Wick is ever fully exhausted this protection will vanish too and will return only when his Wick returns to at least 1 point.

>With this upgrade, the pieces of the Sun recognise Orion as their saviour and servant. Simply wielding the uncovered lamp-post no longer burns Orion or even causes him pain but tapping into its Wick still does. Orion is also now immune to stellar flame as long as he still has 1 point of Wick remaining.


>In addition, Friend to the Flame is assigned a Power Number. Whenever you roll dice while you have no Wick left, every legal d6 that lands on the Power Number restores Orion’s Wick by 1 point.

>1
>2
>3
>4
>5
>6

You feel as if you have passed a tipping point. Right now, of all the solar essence left in all the world, more of it dwells within your single lamp-post than it does in the rest of the world. You have long been anointed by Belle to carry this burden but finally, the flame itself seems to recognise you. After all, you have now bathed in the blood of the closest thing the Wheel God ever had to a mortal descendant.

>You receive Solar Child. With this, you have an additional pool of 30 Wick that can be tapped at any time. Any points spent from this pool are spent forever. This pool cannot regain Wick.
>>
>>2722052
>>1
>>
>>2722047
There were a bunch of situations that could have been resolved with a quick shot of bliss.

>>2722052
Interesting. A 30 point emergency Wick fund.
>>
>>2722052
>Simply wielding the uncovered lamp-post no longer burns Orion or even causes him pain but tapping into its Wick still does. Orion is also now immune to stellar flame as long as he still has 1 point of Wick remaining.
Oh man this is going to be fun. A couple more upgrades and we might not even get insta-killed by the bridesmaid.
>>
>>2722058
I would wait up on spending our scarce resources on Succor until we know it actually works like you think it does.

>>2722052
>1
>>
>>2722052
>6
this is the only Power Number that will never benefit from Dead King's Crown
>>
>>2722073
>>2722065
Switching my vote from 1 to
>6
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2722065
>I would wait up on spending our scarce resources on Succor until we know it actually works like you think it does.
Fair. We should really test it.
>>
>>2722059
Does that mean that we get the triple-the-best-roll effect, but can't use the Wick Pool?
>>
>6

With the lamp-post now firmly wrapped up once more, you tread your way back out of the foul-smelling pool and back onto the solid ground. The only light is the spark upon your forehead. For a moment you consider trying to do something with this massive mixture of tonic. Surely it could be of some use!
Then you rethink and consider the foolishness of trying to use a Workshop concoction clearly not meant for something like you. You’ve all already lost enough to their poisons.

Of course, now you have other problems. With the approximation of a sunny day thirty years past now banished, the cavern has gone dark. And without the light to hold them back to simply guarding the entrance, the ghouls approach.
You can’t see them in the darkness but you can hear the thumps of their loping stride as they run down the slope towards you. And you are not afraid.

You flick the stained canvas aside once again and let the light of the lamp post free. It is hot but not painfully so and what was once blinding now causes you to merely shade your eyes. And the ghouls scream as the cavern blazes with sacred light.
They flee before you and you, feeling the ache and the exhaustion beginning to settle into your very bones, decide not to follow. You let them flee to their secret nooks and crannies in the walls of the cyst, blazing lamp-post swinging idly in your hand as you stroll back across the dying meadow towards the way you came. The long grass is set aflame in the wake of your passage.

Once the ghouls are well and truly gone, you cover the lamp-post once more. It might not harm you but it will not spare your followers and besides, there’s no point in advertising your presence more than you have to.

You cross the threshold with caution, ready to flee the human-flowers or possibly annihilate them. There is no need for either alternative. The Surrexerunt’s choir hang wilted and dead from their perches. Some have already begun to rot. Unknown to you are the processes that brought them into the world and unknown are the processes that took them out.
Their silence as you pass through them is more pleasing to the ear than any fanfare.

And from there, it is but a short walk up the twisting passage to the end of the false hallway. And there, just barely on the right side of the spasming secret door that seals off the smoke are Alex and the others. The redcloaks are awake but clearly still recovering and Alex, still a pillar of at least three different types of gore, is tending to them as best as she can.
She straightens when she sees you and as you raise your fist, the redcloaks cheer your name. They do so with weary voices from smoke-damaged throats and it sounds all the sweeter.

“How did it go?,” asks Alex unnecessarily.

“The shard is mine. The sin has been punished. Abraham has been avenged.”

1/2
>>
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>>2722118
Another cheer, though Alex doesn’t take part.
“Great. I managed to get everyone inside too! Some of us are still sick from the smoke but we’re all still here! We all made it through!”

Before you can offer up any sort of answer, the dying wood of the concealed doorway is thrust aside and smoke floods the passageway! A figure stumbles through and you recognise the wooden armour and plumed helmet of a Thorn Captain. She seems to have lost their whip and, though you can’t see far through the smoke beyond, all the guards under her command seem to have deserted. They confront you all alone.

“What? What is this place?”
The Captain’s voice is a desperate wheeze. She pulls the short sword on her belt free and takes another step forward as she swings wildly.
“You! You haven’t won! I can still-!”

Their words are cut off as you, acting automatically to stop their swing, step in front of her and catch the sword by the edge. Only you did it with the hand that, thanks to the ghouls from before, no longer wears a gauntlet. Both the Captain and the watching redcloaks are struck silent by the sight of the sword stopped in its track by your charred-black bare hand. You close your hand around the sword and without any sign of pain or injury, pull it free from her shocked grasp.
“Get out.”

The Captain, clearly sizing up their chances, decides to risk suffocation over you. They flee back into the central stairwell and quickly vanish from sight amidst the smoke.

The redcloaks cheer once more and why wouldn’t they? The memory of you kneeling on the landing with a sword impaling you is still fresh in their heads and fresher still is you rising back to your feet with nary an injury. To them, you are invincible.
You leave them to their adulation and pace the hall, plotting your way out of this deathtrap. And though most of the redcloaks respect your privacy, one follows you. You turn to see Alex standing there grinning.
“What is it?”

“I was wondering if you were going to need any help bandaging that hand up.”


>”I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

>”Naturally.”

>”It can wait until we’re free of this place.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2722119
>"I actually feel better than ever, but hiding my hand is a sound suggestion"
It's going to be very, very easy to pick out the guy with char black hands.
>>
>I don't know what you're talking about.

Would it be a bad thing if we just drank all of the tonic and made our hands less crispy, even though we know its people.

Also if we got like a barrel of it to take back and feed to our wife.
>>
>>2722119
>”Naturally.”
>>
>>2722128
I already proposed this, and Ouro vetoed it outright.
>>
>>2722119
>>”I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Harumph.
>>
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And with this, I sleep now. Session will resume when I wake.
>>
>>2722119
>>”Naturally.”
>>
>>2722119
>>2722123
Seconding
>>
>>2722119
>>”Naturally.”

So our skin has essentially been turned to charcoal, but the underlaying tissue is still fine?
>>
>>2722119
>”Naturally.”
>>
>>2722138
>”Naturally.”
>>
>>2722167
no, not charcoal. Charcoal burns. It's either a thin layer of hardened ash, or Orion somehow managed to turn his skin into graphene.
>>
>>2722184
I feel it's not unreasonable to assume magic sun fire may have done just that.
>>
>>2722167
No, it's actually reverse-vitiligo. Terrible condition.
>>
If we keep upgrading Friend to the Flame, would be it possible to, at some point, reverse the burn damage to our arm?
>>
>>2722269
>If we keep upgrading Friend to the Flame, would be it possible to, at some point, reverse the burn damage to our arm?
Unlikely, Friend to the Flame doesn't heal. Upgrading Benediction of Relief might help, though.
>>
Also, at some point, we will want to be able to manipulate the sun shards, or possibly survive on the sun's ship, or some other manipulation of pure, divine fire for an extended period of time, in order to restore the Sun. To that end, further upgrades of Friend to the Flame will be ultimately necessary.
>>
>>2722289
It might also grant us safe access to the insane Wick Pool in the Lamppost.

Do we have any plans as to what to do next? Are we going to go looking for Bea, or are we going to the Bridesmaid or the Dreadnought?
>>
>>2722294
Look for Bea, of course.
>>
>>2722294
Bea obviously, maybe link up with her and see if the alchemist has another sun shard. (ic orion does not know she got captured)
>>
>>2722294
We should go looking for Bea, it would be the safer option IMO.
>>
>>2722119
>”Naturally.”
>"Let's go find Beatrice and pay the alchemist a visit."
>>
Vote called, session resumes in an hour.
>>
>>2722167
Third Men have quite thick skin.
>>
>”Naturally.”

You look back to the redcloaks for a moment before giving her a slight nod.
“Naturally.”

Alex already has a strip of cloth ready. It’s bloody but only because everything she touches is.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. The terrible secret that you aren’t actually sword-proof is safe with me.”

“I didn’t do it to look fearsome or impressive. It was an accident.”

“Right, ‘cause you’re used to having those gauntlets on. Is it bad?”

“I’ve had a lot worse, it’ll heal just fine.”
With her help, your charred hand is quickly wrapped up. It’s a good idea regardless of the cut. With your left gauntlet gone, you need to cover it up lest people start recognizing you by your hands alone.
“We’ll stay here a while,” you announce loudly so that all your followers may hear. “Once the smoke clears a little outside, we’ll force our way out! Until then, we are free to rest.”
You take your own advice and lean up against the wall before slowly sliding down into a seated position.

Alex echoes your movement, staining the wall with blood and purple slime.
“I’ve a question I’ve been meaning to ask. Doesn’t it hurt?”

“What?”

“Those hands.”

“Of course they do.”

“But you can still use them. So it is just your skin that got scorched?”

“Yes. But it’s more than that. The lamp-post sometimes burns on a level beyond the physical.”

“Right. Except for all the times where it physically burns stuff up real thorough.”

You give her a wry look, unsure where her line of questioning is taking her.
“Do you doubt me?”

“No, I believe in you. But I don’t know if I believe in Orion, the man who can’t die, can catch a sword in one hand and has been burned by God but still walks.”
She sighs.
“I’d like to though. Sometimes this all makes me think like I’m missing something.”


“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. We avenged Abe today and that’s great...but I barely even knew the guy. And when I did I thought he was annoying. So I’m just watching everyone care and it makes me feel wrong that I don’t. And with a lot of my mates, they’ve all got personal reasons to hate this city and love God, even before the temple...what happened to the temple. But I wasn’t the same. Nobody’s done nothing to me direct like that. I’m just pissed that this city’s not fair and that nobody else seems to care, that’s why I left the congregation to wear the red. And that was just setting fires, stealing stuff and breaking windows. Then you came along with a quest and ...I don’t know. It just feels like all the other redcloaks are meant for this kinda work more than I am. They’ve all got reasons and so do you. I’ve just been faking.”

1/2
>>
>>2722858
You give her confession all the respect it deserves.
“That’s nonsense. Nobody thinks that about you except yourself and she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The fact that you know what’s right without having to be wronged is a virtue, not a sin.”
It’s one you could have stood to have known yourself once.
“This is the second time today, Alex.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Belief is all well and good but you could stand to have a little faith in yourself as well. Now, look alive! We’ll be making our escape soon enough and I’m going to need your help. This isn’t over just yet.”

“Where are we going?”

“Where else? Beatrice. Knowing her, she’s probably in trouble.”
>>
“Good evening, troglodyte. I’ve got some questions I want answered.”

The speaker sitting across from you feels like less of a person and more of a vision, something etched in light and loveliness rather than flesh and blood. She is a living relic, a remnant of an older age that you never thought you’d see. A remembrance of a time of beauty that nothing of the Third Age can ever match. It’s enough to make you feel even smaller and shittier than usual.
Except, you forcibly remind yourself, this creature deserves none of this automatic adoration. She’s a fucking witch! And while that learned revulsion does battle with a certain sense of aesthetic pleasure you’d never have expected to have derived from a woman, both are overpowered by a helpless sort of dread.

You are, to your regret, a witch as well but it didn’t take being dumped into a traincar full of golems for you to see the difference between the two of you. You are but a pebble gazing upon an avalanche.

Your name is Beatrice Montgomery and you are really fucked.


>Shoot her.

>”Answer this.” Rude gesture.

>”Who the fuck are you?”

>”How are one of you assholes still around?”

>”I suppose, given the circumstances, I could answer a question or two.”

>”What’s in it for me?”

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2722870
>”Who the fuck are you?”

>”How are one of you assholes still around?”
>>
>>2722870
>Hello Witch whose name I do not know but I can guess at, which questions are those?
>>
>>2722870
>>”How are one of you assholes still around?”
>>2722882
This too.

my heart can't take Bea dying Ouro plz
>>
>>2722870
>>”Who the fuck are you?”
>>”How are one of you assholes still around?”

"Why do things always go badly for Beatrice" Well at least in this case it's another witch and one who expects us to be crass anyways.

I can't wait until we tell her she's just as much a puppet as her Golems are if she can't act not like a witch when she wants to.
>>
>>2722870
>”Who the fuck are you?”
>”How are one of you assholes still around?”
Ouro: How are we dice modifier wise? Are we wounded because of the fall?
>>
>>2722870
>”What’s in it for me?”

Best to hold off on whipping out our gun in case we need to shoot ourselves. I'm not kidding, we should honestly keep an open mind to snackbarring if we're as fucked as we seem to be. Detonating a living bomb in right in the Golemist's face is a pretty good way to die, if that's what we're looking at.
>>
>>2722939
Oh lordy lord. This worries me immensely.
>>
Can we use midnight compass to track Beatrice? Maybe if we mix a little gunpowder in the dirt we would normally use?
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2722938
Oh and no, you're right where you left off last thread.
>>
>>2722939
sad but true.

>>2722954
that is NOT how it works. at all.
>>
>>2722975
didn't expect us to power through the Thorn like that?
>>
>>2723116
We did remove a massive chunk of their forces with our little diversion so that probably helped.
>>
Sorry for the delay on this one, I got distracted by the dumbest shit.

>”Who the fuck are you?”
>”How are one of you assholes still around?”

>Current Dice Modifier: +1
>Charges: 12

You try your best to center yourself as well as you are able. As it would turn out, this is not particularly well at all! And how could you? You’re trapped here on this seat, inside a shadow bubble, inside a train filled with multiple instances of the apex of witchcraft and you’re here with someone or something that shouldn’t even exist anymore!
And deep within, there is a treacherous voice apparently dedicated entirely to telling you how helpless you are. You know what a Second Man is. They’re supposed to be better. As if being a monstrously powerful witch wasn’t enough, the voice suggests, you won’t be able to talk or trick your way out of this.

But damn it, you’re still hopped up and so you resort to the weapon of last resort that no amount of hopelessness can touch: Profanity.
“And who the fuck are you supposed to be? I think I can hazard a guess about your name but what? What’s your deal? How are one of you assholes still around? And where do you get off thinking that you can just dump me i-”

“Shut up.”
You shut up. Not because of any witchcraft, just because despite your outburst you do recognise just whose ass you have to kiss if you want to stay alive here. You are entirely at her mercy.
“My name is Maria. Your name, or so I have been told, is Beatrice but I honestly couldn’t care less. You are pathetic and mutilated and I am almost ashamed to call you witch.”

“Thanks,” you say sincerely. “I don’t see how it’s any of your business though.”

“All witches are my business.”
She leans over and you cringe back into your seat. You know, in theory, that she must be surprisingly frail and weak but all your brain is seeing right now is how BIG she is. If the two of you were standing face to face you’d probably be hard-pressed to clear her midriff. And every unnecessary inch of it is beauty. She stares down upon you with a look of ugly disdain that is alone more elegant than any emotion you have ever seen.
“You behold my aspect. Surely even your childlike excuse of a mind can connect the dots? The advent of witchcraft was the end of the Second Age. So what then, do you think makes me?”

“No,” you protest weakly. “There were lots of witches in the Second Age.”

“Yes. And each and every one of them was taught by me. When they said that earthquakes shattered the shining cities of the Second Age, they were mine. When your mentally deficient elders spoke of the woman who damned all Man, they spoke of me. When you were but a child listening to frightful tales and monstrous lies about evil witches, they were telling you about me. I am Mary, mother of witches and you are nothing but a particularly errant and ugly child. Now give me your gun and let us have words.”

1/2
>>
>>2723135
>Give her your pistol.

>Shoot her!

>”I don’t believe you!”

>”Is that supposed to make me respect you?”

>Other (Specify)
>>
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I've gotta go to work, sorry about the lack of updates! But I should only be there for a few hours today so I'll come back in 3-4 hours time and continue.
>>
>>2723135
>Hold on to the pistol and tell her to continue
No need to give up our weapon, it's probably useless against her anyways.
>>
>>2723143
>”Is that supposed to make me respect you?”
I hate witches and what they stand for. You might as well be saying you're the oldest, smelliest shit.
>>
>>2723143
>"Haha no, it stays with me."
>"I can't threaten you with force, but if you take it I'll probably panic into a gibbering mess and you apparently want to talk to me."
>>
>>2723143
>"Haha no, it stays with me."
>"I can't threaten you with force, but if you take it I'll probably panic into a gibbering mess and you apparently want to talk to me."
>>
>>2723135
>"I don't believe u >:P"
Don't hand the gun over. Perhaps we can pretend to threaten our own life to buy time.
>>
>>2723135
>”Is that supposed to make me respect you?”
> Don't hand over our gun, if she wants it that's because she's afraid of what we'll do with it - to her or ourselves.

> Ask her what she'll give us in return for our gun.

Negotiations time.
>>
>>2723149
Honestly, hanging on to it out of spite is a good reason for a witch to do something, so she shouldn't be nad when we just act more like a witch.
>>
>>2723143
>”Is that supposed to make me respect you?”
>>
>>2722294
Well Bea and Abe are both anagrams of BAE so as much as I hate the word I have to admit we have already lost one. No way in hell we are losing another, even if we have to go with my horrible plan of greased up sexy-grandpa-ing the golemist into submission.

We strip naked except to the underwear, drop the lamppost into our underwear as padding, then we confront the golemist after greasing up all of the now naked redcloaks and we proceed to stripper dance in front of her until she either gives into the desire of forbidden fruit or is too confused/horrified to quickly respond to us lamp-slapping her.
>>
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>>2723463
>>
Kinda want to see a Interlude of DIs tearing itself apart now.
>>
>>2723143
>>"Haha no, it stays with me."
>>"I can't threaten you with force, but if you take it I'll probably panic into a gibbering mess and you apparently want to talk to me."
Supporting this. Might as well try to stay friendly enough to get the free lore drop and not get straight up murdered.

Also Ouro when you finally do finish this quest can you drop a hardcore lore document and stuff including a like a list of witch sign possibly. I have wanted to run this as a table top for my friends since like thread 2 or 3. I don't need an entire history of the world, but you definitely have managed to create a super-thematic story here and I worry if I try to set up a game without a guide I will end up corrupting the true lore and not giving my friends the same experience you have given me.

I mean hell, there is a reason people thought this would make a great anime back in the middle of the quest.
>>
>>2723474
Hey, last thread all of our "good" plans went badly. And it turned out my joke plan may have somehow been more effective. Tying the old man up, taking a swig of booze, offering alcohol to the guards, pretending to be a hooker, and pretending we live there until we can throw them out the window would VERY LIKELY have worked better for Bea than what we ended up doing.

So team "Worst Idea is Best Idea". Look at how the Golemist denigrates Third Men. We are also a Lamplighter, possibly the last, we are also a burly motherfucker. There are two options here. The Golemist will give in to our seduction, giving us a chance to Lamp-Stamp her, because not only are we a "Filthy Third-Man Trogolodyte" but also because we are the last of the servants of the wheel-god that wields any significant power, and thusly her last chance for a solid hate-fuck and a chance to corrupt the last servant of the "rapist" "tyrannical" Wheel-God. But there is also a chance that having a greased up, crust, old trogolodyte undulating his hips at you in nothing but his tighty-whiteys and wielding a suspiciously ludicrous bulge will horrify and sicken the golemist long enough that her vomiting will give us a surprise round. Also greasing up the red cloaks works because armor wont do anything against the golems but if they are all greased up they can slip from their grips and leave the golems disturbed and feeling like they need a shower.
>>
>>2723474
>>2723503
Oh, also forgot to add in that the bulge would probably be glowing like the sun.

Confusion is our ally my brother!
>>
>>2723143
>>2723463
Seconding. I don't know if there's a plan here somewhere, but seconding.
>>
Vote called, writing.

>>2723494
>Also Ouro when you finally do finish this quest can you drop a hardcore lore document and stuff including a like a list of witch sign possibly. I have wanted to run this as a table top for my friends since like thread 2 or 3. I don't need an entire history of the world, but you definitely have managed to create a super-thematic story here and I worry if I try to set up a game without a guide I will end up corrupting the true lore and not giving my friends the same experience you have given me.

Hrm, sure. I can't promise any miracles though.
>>
>I'm not mutilated, I'm into body modification. And fire.
>>
>>2723135
>You are pathetic and mutilated and I am almost ashamed to call you witch.”
Hey that is a compliment! She's not ashamed to call us a witch :)
>>
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>Hold onto the gun.
>”Is that supposed to make me respect you?”

You stare down at your pistol, still clenched tight in a white-knuckled grip. Why does she want you to give this? She must be afraid of it, either of something it can do to her or to you. Could you possibly just shoot her? That would work, wouldn’t it? Witches are mostly as frail as the stock they sprung from and Second Men were frail indeed. But if that was a possibility, why is she just sitting there opposite you? You don’t know how but just that she chose to be here means that shooting her can’t possibly work and would probably only make things worse.
But all the same you refuse to let go.

“Haha no,” you say, projecting your most obnoxious faux-cheer. “It stays with me. I can’t threaten you with force but if you take it I’ll probably panic into a hyperventilating mess and you apparently want to talk to me.”
It’s not even a lie, not really.

“Keep it then. I’d just prefer you didn’t shoot yourself in the head.”

“I’d prefer that too! And as for what you are, I don’t get the point of that whole spiel. Was that supposed to make me respect you?”
This is probably foolish but it’s still something you need to say. You made a choice long ago and you’re not going to turn you back on it now.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I hate witches and everything they stand for. I can sympathize, I have to sometimes, because pretty often they try to get you when you’re not thinking right. And I really hope that one mistake isn’t enough to damn someone but you, ...fuck you! You act like you’re fucking proud of throwing your humanity away! Of siding with things that objectively only want the fucking worst!”

You expect the worst but Maria only yawns theatrically before lounging back. It makes you feel like a fool.
“You’ve been misinformed into self-loathing but your past self was right the first time. Being a witch is the only moral choice. But your pitiful current circumstances do not shame as your progenitor, if only because a woman cannot be shamed by the presence of a roach. And it’s not what I’m here to discuss. I want UR.”

“Oh.”
You remember it as if you’d only seen it moments ago. A sign etched into your mind, a name that strengthens shadow and swallows light. The eldest god of them all and father to all others. You do have it. You could show her right now. But only if you dare.


>”Wait, how do you know I’ve seen it?”

>”And what happens to me afterwards?”

>”No.”

>”What’s UR?”

>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.

>”Only if you swear you won’t kill me.”

>”Why do you want it so much?”

>Shoot her.

>Other (Specify)
>>
>>2723615
>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.
>>
>>2723562
I know I am asking for a lot, I don't expect something miraculous but a bit of an expansion on the other Lamplighter classes. And maybe a lore drop in the sense of true-lore and the lore from the Church of the Wayward-flame/Sun kind of stuff. And maybe a short from the point of view of Witch would be good too so I can know how to rp a witch npc.

Basically I want the bones of your setting :P

Also a list of witch-sign and flame-rite/benediction, the rest I think I can BS
>>
>>2723615
>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.

Eh, I'll bite. I'm curious to know the original witch's rationalization.
>>
>>2723615
stall stall stall
>”Wait, how do you know I’ve seen it?”
>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.


I don't REALLY know if I want to do this, but here's a spitball for some hardcore bluffing.

>"I can't. It needs more than 2 hands."
>>
>>2723615
>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.
>"Orion was the one who saw it. Not me."
>>
also another suggestion that I'm not sure if we should really do

>shoot the fingers off one of Bea's hands
>it was a bluff, we can easily plain firecast to melt her fingers

She only really needs one hand for firing guns
>>
>>2723625
addendum

>Now I can only do part of the sign.
>By the way, Orion has the other part and one of his hands is fucked up. Don't believe me? Find him for yourself.
>>
>>2723615
>>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.
>”Why do you want it so much?”
Give NOTHING.
Bea is likely her ONLY chance to learn the name of UR. I hate to say it after all my talk, but if she kills Bea then so be it, the damage she could do to the world with ALL of the names of the dead gods is beyond imagining I am sure. I am sure Bea would happily sacrifice herself to keep THE most secret name from ever coming into the possession of someone who is quite possibly this worlds version of the Devil who wishes only for the destruction of humanity and our entire species. Not like she has kept it a secret that she wants all Third Men to just die and hates them. They were created in direct opposition to her, so ofcourse she despises them, but now she has left her womb barren so even if another of the Second-Men or even on of the First-Men showed up to help her bear a child it would have no effect. (Unless the First-Men have some ridiculous cleansing benedictions, which doesnt seem likely since they seem to be living flame-throwers with a crust of flesh). I dunno what I am typing, I am drunk
>>
>>2723615
>>2723617
>>2723621
>>2723623
>>2723624
>>2723625
>>2723627
>>2723630
I am going to go with my vote of stalling, but I also want to add in the bluff of it requiring more than two hands. That sounds quite reasonable for a witch-sign that no one has been able to learn in all of Human history.

Also the drunk-post I previously made about her barren womb was meant to refer to the fact that she might want to bring the Second-Men back, not some schlocky fanfic.
>>
Vote called, writing.
>>
>>2723625
This is a good idea, she'll have to waste time healing us.
>>
>>2723494
>people thought this would make a great anime back in the middle of the quest.

I still think it would.

>>2723615
>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.
>>
>>2723701
This would be a fantastic anime
>>
>>2723720
We just need not to fuck up so the anime has a more or less good end.
>>
>>2723728
I think the governments would have some very strong opinions about the protagonists calling a meteor strike on the town.
>>
>>2723732
This meteor strike is an object lesson on why terrorism doesn't pay.
>>
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>”How can being a witch be moral?” You have to know.

You need to stall for time. You don’t know what the fuck exactly you’re stalling for but you need to do it. You don’t know how she knows about you seeing it or why she wants it but you’re not exactly inclined to just let her have it! And besides that, there’s something more pressing upon your mind.
“How can being a witch be moral?”
It’s an excellent stalling tactic and more than that, some part of you desperately wants to know the answer. And what would you do if she somehow proved it so?

“As I just said, that is now what we are here to discuss.”

“I want to know! How can being inimical to all humanity be right? I’m not asking to try and fuck with you or anything else, I genuinely need to know. And if I like what I hear, I’ll give you the sign.”
Hah, fat chance of that!
“No matter their attitude, I’m still a witch. I can’t escape that.”

She is silent for a moment and then, just as you look away, your chin is tilted back up by a slender golden finger. You freeze as she stares down at you. All it does is make you feel distressingly like a child. You’re in your fifties damn it!
“Acceptable,” she says. “You are stupendously short even for your stunted kind. Did you know that?”

“Yes somehow I figured it out.”

“Well, I had to ask. Basic observation is beyond some of you after all. Your minds are so different from my own. Where mine is crystal yours is...hm, some sort of dung. And aside from that difference of mental acuity there are some other differences between us that you must understand. One of them is clarity. You see, unlike you, who are ruled by your emotions, the mind of the Second Age has some inherent...rationality. An inborn self-discipline. We felt as strongly as you do, even moreso in some cases, but our sense of control was never lost.”
She finally withdraws her hand. Her fingers have four joints.
“So understand that I was not some lost babe led astray or seduced by evil. It would have been impossible for me. It was I who first reached out to the Old Powers and learned their language. And as a child of the Second Age, by definition I did it while making a justified and rational choice.”

“If you were all so damn clear-minded, why didn’t the rest of humanity do what you did? If it was the right choice everyone would have been witches.”

“Oh, if only. But the mind is not infallible. You can still cling to false preconceptions and ideas and you can still be limited by thinking along the wrong paradigm. And that false paradigm that defined thought was the idea of the Second Age itself. They were bound up with the assumptions that humanity was worthy and deserving of anything and they used that as their foundation. It blinded them to the truth.”

“And what? How isn’t that stuff about humanity true?”

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>>2723743
“Well it’s simple. If you don’t automatically sign up to that human-centric assumption and cast your mind out, you see a very different world. Ask yourself, who was here first?”

“The Old Powers.”

“Yes. Even if the most perverted church dogma will generally admit to that. In the time before time, when there was only mud and gods and dark. That was the natural way of the world. And then the Wayward Flame came and put all that to the flame.”

“She answered the calls of the Moon!,” you protest. “The old gods were doing horrifi-”

“No they weren’t. Actually think for a moment, would you? This bit is the most curious invention of the man, the idea that the old gods living as they should was somehow sinful and in need of cleansing. What exactly were they doing? And even if they were truly unleashing the horrors the Lamplighters would have you believe, what were they unleashing them on? Land didn’t exist, light didn’t exist, there was no time for anything to be done in! The only thing they could have hurt was one another and surely that would be a moral good. It is impossible to say that they provoked anything. No, the truth of the matter is that the Wayward Flame invaded their home and slaughtered them as it saw fit. The human qualities that we attach to the Flame in hindsight such as love, vengeance, righteous anger and whatnot are just that: human qualities. The Flame had none of them. It was simply an invasive and consuming force.”

“But-”

“I had not finished. The Flame was far stronger than any single god but as she killed UR, his continental corpse collapsed upon her and drowned her in the mud. You know what happens next, don’t you? The Sea of Mud was impregnated with the shattered essence of the Wayward Flame, the heat of the boiling mud forced the surviving gods to take refuge upon the corpse of UR and shortly after the First Men crawled into being. Fragments of the Flame, their only purpose was to avenge her death and to finish the slaughter. That is the only purpose of humanity. So don’t you see it? There is no inherent moral virtue to Mankind. They are invasive foreign weapons, a system designed only to propagate itself and to oppress the original inhabitants of this world.”
She drums her fingers upon the window, the impossible cityscape of Dis laid out below the two of you.
“Of course the children of the earth are inherently malicious to humanity. How could they not be? They are its last defence against an occupying invader. You’ve known a fair few of them, I’d wager. You know they are not the two-dimensional monsters the church frames them to be. You’re one of them after all. But be they human, imp or witch, they all possess a mind and a sapience. When you don’t take the assumption that humans are somehow inherently moral, how can you hold the former to be worthy of life and the others not?”

2/4
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>>2723744
You’re not sure to say. In truth, much of this are thoughts you yourself have wrestled with in the past. And as a witch yourself, can you really argue that last point? If you do then you label yourself an irredeemable thing and that would mean that your entire search for redemption is pointless.

“People say the Second Age was glorious,” Maria continues. “But every wonder of Man is built upon the suffering of the earth. You show me a human city and the only thing I see is a monument to conquest and hypocrisy. I could not stand by and be a part of it any longer. So yes, I threw my own humanity away and did so gladly.”

“Hold on,’ you interject and this time she allows you to speak. “Even if you accept all of that, you can’t blame humans! Whether humanity is moral or not, they’re here now and they can’t stop that. You can’t blame them for just trying to fight for their own survival. It’s not like they got to choose their side.”

“That would be a good point, were it not for my own invention. Thanks to me, for centuries now humans have had a way to opt out of their humanity whenever they wished. To become safe from the earth’s resistance to their presence. To, as you put it, choose their side. Anyone can become a witch if they’re brave enough. They don’t even have to put in all the work and research I originally had to do! So any human who chooses to remain human also chooses to take an active part in humanity’s disgusting and unwarranted invasion.”

She sighs and sinks back into her chair, apparently comfortable with you more or less holding a gun to her.
“I haven’t spoken for that long for a good while. But I can’t help it either. Even now, all that old wrath is still there just waiting for me to call upon it once more. But that is more or less the crux of it. There is no reason to believe a human is inherently more virtuous or worthy than other person. Now how about that witch-sign?”

“I don’t know,” you say. You’re having a little trouble mustering a counter-argument beyond ‘fuck you’. Maybe that’d be enough.

“I’m saying that you don’t have to hate yourself. You made a choice and what you are now is just as valid as whoever you were before. I know you weren’t happy with your human life, Beatrice. No witch really was. You don’t have to keep blaming yourself for wanting to escape it. And honestly, do you really think that this pantomime you’re doing right now changes anything? Whether you ingest fire or earth you’re still a witch on the fundamental level. You could be swallowing earth and making witch-sign and you’d still be the same exact person as you are now, all virtues and righteousness intact.”

And then, though you don’t even believe it yourself, she reaches out once more and pats you gently on the head.

3/4
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>>2723743
We should tell her that we killed our dad because of her.
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>>2723745
>”Don’t fucking touch me!”

>”...And what will you do to me if I still won’t tell you UR?”

>Shoot her.

>”You can’t expect everyone to become a witch!”

>”Well you got what you wanted, didn’t you? Dis is still shit though.”

>Show her UR. There’s really no getting around the fact that you’re trapped.

>Bluff like crazy.

>Argue (Specify)

>Other (Specify)
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>>2723744
She's gotta point.
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>>2723743
>"As I just said, that is now what we are here to discuss.”
That should really be NOT, not NOW. Damn it.
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>>2723745
>And then, though you don’t even believe it yourself, she reaches out once more and pats you gently on the head.
...
:D
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>>2723748
>Tell her the other myth.
Remember how the moon is male in some stories, and female in some others. Why does she think her story's the correct one? What if it isn't correct, as all myths are? What if the old gods were just using her?
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>>2723748
>”Don’t fucking touch me!”
>And what would you say when someone was strong armed by the gods you so love into joining at what was more or swordpoint? When a bitch of young girl who was an otherwise promising flame artist got puppets by thier will until she had the choice to join or die?

I don’t see humans as better or worse than creatures of the earth. Both are assholes. Hence why people with your gift try to kill each other more often than not. Hence why that snake bitch sold you and your friends all out and outright asked Orion to kill the lot of you. I don’t hate myself. Well I do, for many many things. But if it was just being a witch I’d probably sleep like a baby.
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>>2723755
Supporting.
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>>2723748
>”Well you got what you wanted, didn’t you? Dis is still shit though.”
seems to me that the current Dis REALLY fucks up her concept of "choosing a side". Might explain why she's so salty.

>And what about ghouls? Defending, attacking, they just want to kill. They can't think for themselves, hell, they actively throw themselves at the opportunity for a witch to do the thinking for them. Same with golems, right?

>Hey. Just where DID the Wayward Flame come from? Do you know?

>You've only convinced me that EVERYONE is an asshole, and I already KNEW that one.

>.....can I have a hat?
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>>2723748
>I killed my dad when I became a witch. I loved him. Third Men do awful things that they would have regretted before they became witches.
Try the 'Third Men aren't smart enough to become witches with no stains on their consciences' gambit!
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>>2723759
Because being a witch really does warp people's consciences, more than just power does.
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>>2723748
>"The gods are dead now, the invasion is already over, witches are simply propagating this war. The wayward flame may have been an invading force that killed the gods, but that is all they are now, corpses.
Humanity is here now and the gods are not, unless you have a plan as to how to being them back, this fight is now between men and witches, and as long as witches keep coming this fight will not end, but the god we are trying to bring back can end this, there is not actual need to fight other than this petty struggle between light and dark. God can advance humanity to fourth, peaceful age, it will not come at the cost of some earthen gods suffering as those gods are already dead!
I'm not saying the invasion of light was right, I am simply saying that this is where we are now and things can be better."
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>>2723755
Oh also add in how her “gift” effectively kills empathy to creatures of flame and shifts it to Earth creatures. Except other witches. Seems she just shifted being one weapon to another’s except this time they’ll kill her off once she finished her job. Self extermination.
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>>2723763
Why would the Earth Gods backstab their creatures?

Poor Ouro, having to eke a winning vote out of these.

When was the last time Bea's been touched kindly? Maybe she'll cry.
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>>2723769
Because they were originally of flame. Witches were made solely to exterminate fire after all. Why would they need them after that? Hence why witches have no empathy to each other. No kinship. Makes them oh so much more likely to kill each other. Look at her, she sent a golem to kill a witch simply trying to visit Dis.
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>>2723748
Well damn, the cause of humanity's suffering and the ultimate villain is actually a really persistent hippie.

>Well, the Old Powers are dead and it's witches who are the invasive species now. And this was true when Maria became a witch as well.
>>
Whoops, I dozed off for a bit there. But I'm awake and the vote is called and jesus, I should have expected this.
I will collate all this into a single course of action, don't worry. Writing.
>>
What's the bet that the sign of UR is the one thing that can stop Orion from beating Maria to death with an uncovered lamp post?

Oh, and the name is appropriately saintly. Did 2nd age humans use Saint Names, Ouro?
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>>2723864
>What's the bet that the sign of UR is the one thing that can stop Orion from beating Maria to death with an uncovered lamp post?
As opposed to her legion of golems?
I think we should give her the name. Maybe ask for the sunshard.
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>>2723871
>Let's give our most dangerous opponent a superweapon. What could go wrong?
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>>2723877
Or, who knows. Maybe she'll be able to use the names to become a metaphysical megazord of dark magic and the quest will change into a light hearted romp ala power-rangers. Beatrice can be the crotch of the giant lamplighter bot.
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I know this is taking a while so to tide you over, I'll leave you guys with the note that this is actually an interaction between the shortest character in the Quest and the tallest (the Iron Duke doesn't count) and thus actually looks faintly ridiculous at all times.

Discounting the fact that they both have vastly different bodytypes from this pic, this is the height difference in play here.
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>>2723877
She already has a superweapon.
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>>2723900
Giving her the name willingly is the stupidest choice here.
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>>2723919
Beatrice will give her the sign.

One raised middle finger.
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>>2723924
Could it be? The fabled "Fuck UR"?
>>
Do we have any further plans? It's good that Maria's in no rush, but I'm pretty sure she won't just argue with us until Orion gets back.
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>>2723937
find a reason to take the conversation outside the train, then pray that we can turn this into a big enough freeforall to run away

Other than that, what else is there besides figuring out the best way to suicide attack? It's rather unrealistic to expect that we can bluff hard enough that she needs both bea AND orion alive for the sign, despite me being the one to suggest it.
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>>2723758
>>2723748
This +

> Well, if we're talking about being most moral, what do you want the name of UR for.

> Besides, what about the Witches that you hunted down and killed?

Remember that Witches are sociopathic manipulators, Anons!

> Bea is going to have to martyr herself and you know it.
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>>2723748
>>Argue (Specify)
Not gonna add to the mess of arguments already presented, just go with those

>>2723758
>Hey. Just where DID the Wayward Flame come from? Do you know?
I'm curious to know this too but I doubt there's an answer.
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>>2723877
Just in case, I'd like to point out this wasn't a vote for giving Maria the sign.
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>>2723748
>>2723956
Seconding
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>>2723748
>”Well you got what you wanted, didn’t you? Dis is still shit though.”
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>>2723940
>It's rather unrealistic to expect that we can bluff hard enough that she needs both bea AND orion alive for the sign, despite me being the one to suggest it.
We could blow off our left hand, tell her that Orion's only got his left hand left, because his Lamp melted his right? She probably won't fall for it, but she's got little choice. (Other than to regrow our hand.)

>>2723958
lol
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>>2723743
>>2723744
>>2723745
I don't know, Mary. "Well my dead things dindu nuffin" doesn't actually convey much moral authority over "Well my dead thing is muh creator" when you're both killing each other.
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>Argue.

“Don’t fucking touch me!,” you snarl, drawing away from the offered hand. You’ll try to ignore that it’s probably the first nice thing anyone’s said about your...nature in your entire life. But damn it you’re not just going to sit there and let her rhetoric walk all over you! You cross your arms and glare up at her chest.
“And what would you say when someone was strong-armed by the gods you love so much into joining at basically swordpoint! They gave me a choice but...but not really! They used me!”

“I fear there has been a misunderstanding. I don’t actually know anything about your petty life.”
And there’s the disdain back again. Much more comfortable than when she’s trying to be nice.
“I can see how you would be confused but I generally don’t trouble myself learning trivialities. So simply shouting at me without context achieves nothing.”

“When I chose, they’d already used me as their puppet for weeks! How is that possibly an informed decision?”

“That certainly sounds like a rather unique case. And what did you do while under this ‘possession’?”

“I ...scribbled some stuff. And dug a hole.”

“And did the whispers somehow force you into the situation that made you reject your human life? Did they contribute to it at all?”

“I mean no, but-”

“It’s really nobody’s fault but your own that you’re a sleepwalker, Beatrice.”

Refusing to let yourself be derailed, you continue.
“And I guess I don’t see humans as inherently special. They and all you lot are all assholes. Hence why people with your ‘gift’ try to kill each other more often than not!”

“Is that it? Just the notion that people don’t change? Then you better tell me why you bother doing anything if that’s what you really think.”

“No, that’s not it. Witches are territorial, that’s why that happens. And that’s something inherent to your little fancy gift a-”

“It’s not. That’s just the all too common result of giving people power. Witches aren’t forced to compete more than anyone else.”

“Yes they are! I know it because I’ve felt it!”

“Are you really going to argue that you know more about being a witch than me?”

“Yes! Because I obviously do! Being a witch sucks! I killed my fucking father!”

“How is that relevant?”

“And all the other creatures of the dark are just as bad! Hence why that sna-”

“No, Beatrice. Answer the question, it was a point you raised. What is the relevance of the death of your father, a man who I am sure enriched the world with his absence?”
You get the feeling that even if Maria truly can’t lose herself to her anger, she is getting plenty mad all the same.

“It was my Shade,” you admit. “I didn’t know what it was doing.”

1/7
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>>2724113
Maria just narrows her eyes.
“An uncontrolled Shade simply acts on its witch’s subconscious desires. Nothing more than a simple self-control issue on your part. You would have killed him eventually, I’m sure. Is being a witch to blame for your mistake?”

“Yes! Damn right it is! Because it gave me something straight away that I wasn’t equipped to handle! I dunno, maybe all you fucking superbrains in the Second Age could handle a fucking subconscious shadow monster right away but you said it yourself! We have less control! It’s not ethical. And it’s certainly not something you give to a child!”

“A child? How old were you when you first ate the dirt? Fifteen? Sixteen? Hardly a child, Beatrice. When I was that age I wasn’t a child. Are you going to blame witchcraft for your own childishness? I don’t know about you but I’m detecting a pattern.”

“I th-”

“No. I will elaborate on this. I know nothing of you and your life but I see you ahead of me as plain as, ahah, day. When you first became a witch you weren’t ready for the power. You made mistakes. Mistakes that you still hate yourself for to this day. But rather than confront the flaws of your person you heap them upon ‘the witch in me’ and pretend that it is something somehow separate from you.”

You reel.
“B-”

“Do you think you can undo your transformation? Cleanse your sins and become human once more? And even if that was possible, what would you do then when you find that you’re still the same person you’ve always been?”
She drums her fingers upon the table again. You can hear the golems in the rest of the train clunking around.
“But I suppose this is what happens sometimes when you hand the keys of power to something like a Third Man.”

“Yes, bitch! That’s what I was trying to fucking say this whole time!”
You’re too mad to even care about the witch’s words or what they mean for you. But you’ve no doubt that you’ll recall them near-constantly later when you’re trying to go to sleep.
“Maybe it’s ethical in your perfect world but clearly we’re all too fucking stupid to use your ‘gift’ correctly!”

“Oh, what was it that stuffy doctor always used to say? Something that wasn’t anywhere near as smart as he thought it was. The tyranny of Creation. Sounds like anything wrong with you troglodytes is more of a God problem than a witch one.”
Maria snaps her fingers as if just recalling something important.
“He’s dead now incidentally. Along with several thousand other people who just happened to be there when your star fell. I’m just mentioning this now to forestall any attempts at dreary moralism you might drag out.”

2/7
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>>2724122
“You can’t convince me that witchcraft is right, not for those reasons. The gods are dead now, the invasion is over, witches are just propagating this war. The Wayward Flame might have been an invasive force that killed the Old Powers but that is all they are now, corpses! The suffering of the earth doesn’t matter because the earth is already dead!”

“What an...interesting argument for a witch to make. Are you just trying to fool yourself now? You should know as well as anyone that gods do not die easy. Isn’t the whole quest of your Lamplighter friend based on that idea?”
She leans back over you again and now you’re getting the feeling that her anger has stopped and some sort of perverse enjoyment has taken its place.
“Allow me to disassemble your point in detail. Death means nothing to gods as their essence remains in the world. The Old Powers still exert their will upon their stolen home and I, I’ll have you now, speak to them often. They’re not great conversationalists. You have literally come to this city on a quest on behalf of a dead god. Tell you what, I’ll be charitable and assume that this point was a joke to break the ice.”

“You don’t know why we’ve come!,” you protest.

“Yes, I suppose you could be collecting all the remaining shards of the sun to start a barbeque instead. Feel free to correct me. Continuing on, your argument is that under the assumption that the Old Powers of the earth are now irrelevant or undeserving, it is in fact us witches that are continuing this war? That assumption is wrong but that is more or less it, right?”

“Yes!”

“And what? What makes you think I’m against the war? I’m against the conquest of the earth, the occupation and colonisation of the original occupants of this world by humanity. It’s not the war I’m against, it’s human victory I’m against.”

“But the actions of witches cause just as much harm! And I know what happens to empathy, it gets swapped around! You lose the ability to empathise with humans! Isn’t that just trading in being a weapon for one side to another?”

“Do you need to empathize with someone to do right by them? Surely if you had some sort of consistent morals or ethics you would treat everyone as they should be regardless of personal empathy.”

“It’s a stronger effect than that and you’re dodging the question, ‘Mother’. Isn’t this a direct confirmation that witches are still just weapons?”

3/7
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>>2724132
“I think you have me confused with Dr Spinae because I don’t care about that. As a repurposed human, a witch is indeed a weapon. It is what humans are best at. It is not only a means for humans to stop being a part of the unethical system that they are a part of but also a means to revitalize the children of earth, to provide them power, leadership and options they did not previously possess. It is the role of a witch to be a captain of darkness and I never obscured that. Remember that I am not against the war. In fact, that war has to happen. The earth won’t be liberated otherwise. So what is your point?”

You stop, your focus caught by her choice of words.
“Leadership, huh? Is that it then? You get to fight the good fight for the darkness and just coincidentally you and all the other former humans get to be charge and have all the power?”

“Power that they gave me,” she says icily. “Not to mention that this is wholly facetious. You don’t actually care about them, you just know that I do and are trying to throw me off by arguing in bad faith. If you want to follow this point you must concede that the children of earth are worth protecting from hypothetical opportunists like myself and therefore are deserving of even more protection from their mass slaughter and imprisonment beneath humanity. Put up or shut up.”

You shake your head, returning back to the original idea you had been trying to make before you go distracted.
“So you admit to us being weapons. And you also admitted to the Old Powers still having power and influence. Sounds like you’re admitting that even you just might be a tool for use on their behalf. How fucking sure are you that you even have the whole story? What if we’re all just being used?”

She visibly relaxes, evidently on more familiar ground.
“Firstly, you’ll not put words in my mouth. And I suppose that I could just be hapless pawn, it’s very possible. I mean, this whole witch thing was my idea so they would have had to incept that into me before I invented the means for them to communicate to a human in the first place. It could have happened.”

“Then don’t put fucking words in mine either! I meant after the fact, obviously. And you know what? What’s the point of liberating the earth anyway? What are ghouls or golems going to do? They defend, they attack, they just want to kill. They hate thinking for themselves.”

“Yes and, not coincidentally, those are both artificial creatures made by witches specifically to fight. Could that have something to do with it? And as for after the fact, I have spoken with the Old Powers. I have communed with the dead gods of earth. The pathetic human cultists of this city revere me for none have as direct a channel to them than I. And you know what? They’re not all that smart.”

“What?”

4/7
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>>2724139
“More accurately, they don’t think in the right way. Most of them are still catching up to what’s been done to their world. Time in particular is a big problem for them. They don’t think human enough for a human world. They scream, they whimper, they beg...they do not subtly manipulate witches from behind the scenes. There is no grand conspiracy of darkness.”

“They send the Whispers! Any witch that eats earth gets those and they give you all sorts of ideas and I know for a fact that sometimes they sound just like your own thoughts.”

“Sounds like a personal problem. If your own thoughts are similar enough to the half-formed and plaintive cries of the dead earth, reflect on what this means and be better. I have known plenty of gray-skinned witches who could discern their own voice from that of the earth. And I assure you, an idea of any complexity or subtlety is of your own origin.”

“Because they can’t comprehend the world that well, right? But do you have any proof of that besides stuff you hear that nobody else can? You’re basically asking me to take you on your word on the nature of the gods and I won’t.”

This one actually seems to stun her for a moment. But alas, not for the reason you were hoping it did.
“...You’re asking me to provide concrete proof that I’m not being invisibly and unknowingly manipulated?”

“Fuck yes I am.”

“That’s absurd. You understand that, right? I might as well ask the same of you or your Lamplighter friend. You can’t prove a negative, the impetus is on you to provide proof not for me to disprove something is by definition apparently outside of my ability to perceive.. Have you never taken even a basic class in logic?”

“No I haven’t! Because you screwed the whole world up and turned it into a place where they teach kids dogma instead. That’s on you, that’s your fault. And the nature of the Old Powers is a big deal and I still can’t take you on your word about them.”

“Proof is impossible. Disproof is impossible. Either take my word for it that I am not being puppeted by the gods or else ask yourself the same question. Perhaps the fact that everything is prophecy removes agency entirely! The Wheel God saw my destruction of the Second Age was destined so it’s not my fault.”

“That’s dumb,” you reply.

“Yes it is and it was even before God died and we jumped the tracks of prophecy. That’s how stupid you sound when you demand I prove that. Actually, that’s how stupid you sound all the time.”

“Fine. I just find it hard to believe witchcraft is moral when it is so steeped in death. The death of humans is woven right into the history of the thing. You know, the history you made when you slaughtered people en masse and destroyed cities.”

5/7
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>>2724148
“I could say the same of humans themselves. Also, as I mentioned before, you dropped a star on a funeral. Thousands died. I was personally present. If you try and take the moral high ground on the account of deaths again I will have a golem remove one of your eyes. I think your left is the most unpleasant.”

You wisely change tacks.
“Oh. Well, uh, good job surviving that. You patched up real nice.”

“You’d been hoping that I died in it, didn’t you?”

“No! Not specifically anyway, since I didn’t know you existed at the time. But in a general sense yeah.”
You look back out the window at the bustling hell of Dis.
“I guess either way you’re getting what you wanted, huh? Humans are on the way out. But Dis still sucks. Dis still sucks a lot. So how about it?”

“What about it?”

“Dis is garbage. Doesn’t that really fuck up your whole concept of choosing a side?”

“Dis is a human city.”

“No it isn’t.”

“Yes it is! It has more humans in it than the rest of the world. Everything about it is human. It is, in fact, aggressively human.”

“What does that even mean?”

“Exercise the lump of soggy meat in your head for once and think about it. Who rules Dis? It’s mostly all humans and human creations. Sure, it is a city that tolerates the children of the earth but it is not ruled by them. Do you look at the Sable Imp Fellowship and see imp supremacy?”

“Yes?”

“I see the opposite. Imps are dug up from the ground...and then asked to sign a business contract. They do work for the Fellowship in return for money, which they spend on breeding, bodies and human luxuries. It is the same all over Dis. No gods of either side rule this place, it bows only to the rule of coin.”

“So both sides can co-exist then? It’s possible.”

“You just called this city ‘garbage’. In addition, you are actively on a mission to stop all of this. And even if this argument wasn’t facetious, Dis’ current acceptance of the earth does not erase the past crimes of humanity. This whole city festers.”

“...Why do you live here?”

“I wasn’t born here, you know. I didn’t have anything to do with this place until they...brought me here to help them with their plan to destroy the sun.”
For some reason her tongue seems to trip halfway through describing however she first came here.
“And I am, I suppose, obligated to not destroy this place. I live apart, in the least human part of the city I can find and I sit back and watch as the idiot humans who worship me freeze themselves to death crawling through my own witch-chill. I have myself, my study and of course, the inevitability of knowing that without the sun eventually even Dis, last and greatest bastion of humanity, will be ground to dust. And after that? The world will finally be returned to who it was stolen from. I can wait.”

6/7
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>>2724157
“So all that business with destroying the Consortium, that was kind of helping you wasn’t it? You must have loved that.”

“Actually dear Marcel was one of my dearest friends and one of the few Third Men I ever thought to respect. You murdered him and then dropped a star on his funeral.”

“Oh.”

“Did you know I built his body? He and I spent ages bickering over nothing and comparing designs when I did so. Of course mine were always better but still…”
She sighs fondly.
“It also meant that I was connected to it in a sense which in turn means that I personally heard the entire thing. It was almost like I was present while you killed him.”

“Oh.”
You stare resolutely ahead into her stomach. Suddenly the odds of you getting out of this alive seem to have dropped to zero. And beyond that, you’ve run out of things to say. Everything you’ve tried has more or less been deflected and some attempts had just been embarrassing. It’d been like watching a man try to dent someone’s fist by ramming their throat into it repeatedly.
Still, you had to try right? Maybe if you just stall long enough…

“It occured to me fairly early on during this exchange that you might be stalling for time incidentally,” Maria says. “It would fit with your changing positions and general lack of intellect. And I’ll admit, I tolerated this because I simply love sinking my teeth into a good argument, it’s one of my vices. And fortunately for you, I also love sinking my teeth into a bad argument too! And I guess I let myself be carried away for so long because I honestly do not care about whatever you are stalling for. Is it the Lamplighter? Can he find you? And what exactly would he even do? Perhaps you just wanted to see me unstitch the flesh from his bones! If so I can’t blame you, it’s pretty fun.”

She suddenly stands, rising from her seat with enough speed that you reflexively stand up too out of panic. She towers over you and you, with a lack of a better option, stare up at her prodigious chest because you can’t actually see her face from this angle.
“But I can’t spend all day embarrassing you just because I might get to kill your friend. So be a good little girl and show me UR. I will actually let you live if you do! And if you don’t...well it’s worse than death in a sense. Oh don’t get me wrong, you will die. The golems will tear you apart. It’s just that after that the only alternative to finding the sign will be your lamp lighting friend. And since I won’t be able to afford to kill him I’m afraid I may be forced to resort to doing something absolutely ghastly to him.”

Your heart’s still beating quick from the gunpowder but your blood has run cold. You hadn’t even thought of that! If you die here then she just goes after Orion! And what could he do against golem after golem? What could anyone do?

7/8
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>>2724159
>”Why do you even want it so damn much?”

>”Sure, here’s the sign.” Give her a rude gesture.

>If you can damage your own arm or fingers or at least threaten doing do...she’ll probably kill you. But maybe not!

>Dive for the window!

>Shoot her!

>Give her the sign.

>Other (Specify)
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>>2724113
>“Don’t fucking touch me!,” you snarl, drawing away from the offered hand.
Ughhh why did people vote for this we should have just accepted the headpat! We coulda let her keep thinking we were cute.
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>>2724161
>>”Why do you even want it so damn much?”
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>>2724159
>”Why do you even want it so damn much?”
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>>2724113
>“It’s really nobody’s fault but your own that you’re a sleepwalker, Beatrice.”
This is so great.
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>>2724161
balls to the walls
>....I can't. Not alone. It needs 4 hands. At least, that's how many I saw. You'll need both of us alive, and-
>Shoot and/or burn left hand
>-I won't make it easy
>Try shooting her. It will very definitely not work, but maybe we can glean a clue to tell Orion or Alex. Or whoever will listen to our godforsaken ass.
>>
Can we even DO the sign since we're branded?

Really not sure what to do here. Giving her the sign is bad (it's the one that dims light, right? Sounds like a superweapon in her hands), we can't run away, and we can't beat her in witchcraft even if we had some dirt on hand to break the brand. Shooting her might be the best option, just because we don't know 100% it won't work. Alternatively we could give her the sign and hope she doesn't become unkillable as a result.
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>>2724201
You can make the gesture. It doesn't need to hold any actual power, just the gesture is enough for it to be ingrained in someone's head.
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>>2724205
I thought the gestures were super complicated and required unnatural dexterity. Can we get the rough picture across just with human-level fingers?
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>>2724211
Beatrice's hands are still witch hands. And a human CAN make gestures, it's kind of required to BECOME a witch. It'll just be sloppy and slow.
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>>2724211
A branded witch is still physiologically a witch. She can make a sign. It won't do anything without earth but it'll be there. Even a human can make a sign (they have to), just with much greater difficulty.
Additionally, it's very likely that Beatrice's brand doesn't even function anymore since the sun is gone.
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>>2724161
>”Why do you even want it so damn much?”
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