In Which A Spell Does Not Fail To Go Awry

Vance: When last we let off: Svetlana was heading out to the slave compound.

Svetlana: if you crave, to be slaves
it's the place that people rave
they'll slap shackles on you freely
it's a bit disturbing really

Vance: Does everyone want to follow along on that?

  • Camena considers going in disguise as someone ridiculously powerful.

Camena: Didn't I threaten to cosplay as Sol himself?

Vance: Jaspindar might be a little more effective here.

Camena: That never went pear shaped before.

Vance: But you've never been on an island where Jaspindar wasn't before

Svetlana: soup du jour, hot hors d'oeuvres
they'll get killed if they don't serve
if they take off their slave masks it will just put them in a casket

Camena: Hmmm.

  • Camena assembles a ridiculously potent disguise.
  • Kukla applauds the lyrics.

Svetlana: after all there are siaka
no one knows how to pronounce that

Camena: Do I actually have to go through the rigamarole of rolling?

Vance: I've always done 'sea-AH-kuh.'

Vance: Nah.

Vance: If you run into a being who could contest your disguise, we'll roll then.

Camena: Mmmkay.

Camena: I am Jaspindar.

Camena: Complete with magical accoutrements.

Vance: Such as?

Camena: "Remind me again, what's my motivation, cousin?"

Camena: My essence reads as wood and until I get really glowy, I can sell a lot of my stuff as Terrestrial.

Svetlana: "Honestly," Svetlana says, mildly chiding. "Icaria needs supporters for his spell."

Svetlana: "If you're asking about Jaspindar's heart—"

Camena: "You couldn't tell me that before I did all this? Do you know what the cheekbones took? There will be bruises."

Svetlana: Svetlana closes her eyes for a moment. "I suppose it's your deep love for Vi, which insists on your recruiting assistants for Icaria at the slave compound."

Icaria: "Yeah, I need some stout-hearted fellows and lasses to take over the island for a bit with us."

Svetlana: Svetlana reviews in her mind: Well, they need to have warm, honest hearts; a burning desire for justice; they need to be brave and faithful and true; they should like big dogs and long walks on the beach; oh, and they have to be willing to replace prominent local figures via spells that will make them powerful, respected, and extremely pleasant to look at.

Icaria: "Yeah, like that!"

Svetlana: "We have to go there anyway, so Icaria's request bumped it to the top of the queue."

  • Camena throws her arms up in the air and looks for where she put the wyldwine.

Svetlana: Svetlana rolls her eyes. "If you want to head for the Cynis garrison first, we can. Though honestly, cousin, if you can't roll with the occasional punch, you're never going to make it in show business."

Vance: 48 Pillar, disguised behind an anglerfish mask, insists on accompanying you to the slave barracks. "No one knows them better than I, who grew up in them."

Camena: "Screw this. I'm going capital-R rogue on this one."

Svetlana: Svetlana hops down to the docks and heads out."

Svetlana: "I'm not quite sure what you mean?" Svetlana asides. "You haven't explained your scale of roguery."

Camena: "Go, go, for the good of the island," Camena says, having one of her crewmen fetch up a chair and footstool. "Y'all go do the maximum heroics."

Svetlana: "…well, naturally…"

Icaria: Is Camena still mad just because I faxed our true identities to the Wyld Hunt?"

Svetlana: "So, Mr. Pillar," Svetlana says, "tell me about the best way to talk to the slaves, with minimal slogging through uncharted swamps, murdering swathes of guards who will be noticed to be missing, tracking them down one by one, and the like."

Svetlana: "I'd like a minimally defended location where slaves and no guards gather, ideally, but I understand that Creation has not yet been perfectly rectified."

Vance: "There will be little swamp slogging, Evdeniya. The Toad Lodge keeps us on the other side of Prophet's Keep, in a barracks built inside a great cavern."

Svetlana: Svetlana lights up. "I love caverns!"

Svetlana: "There's something about having the earth all around you," she smiles.

Svetlana: (Hm, I had a lot of playtime last game, though. Is there something someone else is doing?)

Icaria: This sounds like a social issue, so possibly you should bring Zanara?

Icaria: I kind of doubt that Icaria has a positive contribution to make here.

Vance: "The guards are janissaries themselves, of course, watched by Toad overseers. They will be posted at the entrances, and at important places like the rations storage, but don't go on rounds."

Svetlana: (I totally invited everyone! Though that was like six days ago so it is understandable if it was not obvious.)

Zanara: (Zanara also had a lot of screen time last week.)

Vance: If we want to move on towards something that everyone could get in on, I think infiltrating and freeing some slaves is something that could be dealt with offscreen.

Icaria: Possibly we could each invent one heroic rescued slave NPC?

Vance: That saves me effort!

Svetlana: (I am happy to roll or summarize my way through all of Svetlana's plans until we hit something that everyone is interested in, even if that means sailing away in 10 minutes RL.)

Icaria: I introduce 52 Copper Coin, a roguish type who currently runs a small-scale prison black market and longs to one day run a large-scale black market.

Camena: I'm good with y'all giving it due drama if you like. I honestly feel like I'm about to pass out, and that's only slightly hyperbolic. I slept awful last night, and combatted it today with unwise amounts of caffeine.

Vance: Oof.

Vance: Don't feel obliged to stay if the alternative is nappytimes.

Vance: Okay, getting back on track.

Svetlana: "Trivial, then," Svetlana says. "The trickiest bit will be getting you in, since you don't fit in my pockets."

Vance: "I do not know if I can tell you how to speak to my brethren," 48 Pillar says. "I was not a person of many friends in the barracks."

Vance: "The Anglerfish Lodge acts as guides to natives and offlanders alike. Perfect for passing unnoticed in your shadows."

Vance: "I would gladly risk my life to help free another, but I don't think it will come to that today."

Svetlana: "Stealth by mask," Svetlana says, legitimately pleased. This day gets better and better."

Svetlana: "You know, back home, people dressed as anglerfish can hardly go anywhere without getting spotted."

Svetlana: Svetlana, who is still pretending to be 100% confident, refuses to ask him if he is imagining that she can just walk past the guards to go talk to the slaves then, but does attempt to intuit whether that's what he's thinking or if he just thinks that he won't be in trouble if he is spotted.

Vance: He thinks he's pretty safe as long as he keeps his mask on.

Vance: He probably doesn't think you can walk past the guards, but he has no idea how good at stealth you are.

Vance: His assumption is that you'll talk your way past them.

Svetlana: I see!

  • Svetlana thinks as she walks about a good con because she does hate to disappoint him.

Icaria: You were asked to inspect the goods by a buyer!

Svetlana: Safety inspector is time-honored.

Vance: The journey from the temple-lodges of Prophet's Keep to the underground slave quarters on the opposite coast takes you through the network of bridges spanning the swamp until they give way to solid soil. This, 48 Pillar informs you, is the island's Stone Quarter, where slaves, menial laborers, and others who lack the artisanal skill to join a temple-lodge live and toil.

Icaria: Since the buyer is basically Icaria it's more like a sexy inspector, but yes.

Vance: The main entrance into the slave quarters is a strikingly beautiful sight for the atrocity it conceals. Waterfalls cascade down the sides of small cliffs, sparkling with rainbows in the sunlight. A winding series of well-built wooden bridges brings you to a cavern mouth underhanging a particularly impressive fall. It is guarded by a pair of toad-masked overseers, and four janissaries armed with heavy wooden cudgels.

Svetlana: "Hi," Svetlana says, her smile barely visible beneath the upturned lip of her duck-mask. "I'm going to need you to move aside."

Vance: "Who the hell do you think you are, xirvit?" one of the Toad Masks ask.

Svetlana: "That's an excellent question," Svetlana says. "If you ask me again, I will answer it."

Vance: "26, 17, beat this idiot's brains in."

Vance: Two of the blank-masked warriors stir, but they do not immediately escalate to actual hostility.

Vance: They are pretty menacing with their cudgels.

Svetlana: Svetlana sighs, and switches her mental mask. She adjusts her shoulders slightly. She says, softly, "I remember once, when I was much younger, meeting a slave whose life had almost been burned out by it. He had fallen into the Fair Folk's hands, I thought. They had ravished him, struck at his soul, dug it out with the filthy claws of them. It turned out that that wasn't the case, of course. It was just that he'd lost too much."

Svetlana: "The Magistrate—I was traveling with a Magistrate at the time, you see—saw something in him. She thought that she could bring the spark back, because he had talent. He was something good. He had eyes, like few have eyes. He had ears, like few have ears. But he hated her for even trying, because he, who had been born to grow into his own self, had been warped."

Svetlana: "And so Heaven has spoken," Svetlana says. She smiles at the Toads. She waves her anglerfish guide away. "Heaven has said it is time that such practices must change, so that the seeds that were meant for greatness, and planted in this world, could flourish in the fashion that they were meant to do."

Vance: "Crazy Realm bastard's lost their mind. All of you, get them!"

Vance: A ring of janisarries surrounds Svetlana, their cudgels held in striking position. None of them make the first movement—waiting for you to act, perhaps, or simply less eager than their masters.

Icaria: If I had known you were going to fight a bunch of guys, I'd have spent XP on sleepytimes magic or something.

Svetlana: "Oh, I'm not the Realm," Svetlana says. "I'm something much, much different. And I am giving you a choice. Right here, and right now."

Svetlana: She flicks a glance to the janissary on her front right. It would be… silly… to get in a fight with you right now, so please don't react poorly to my stepping towards them."

Svetlana: She moves the front right cudgel aside gently with the back of her hand and steps towards the Toads.

Svetlana: "You can be better," Svetlana says. "It will cost you nothing. Or you can drown. Not today, since I don't plan to kill you, but shortly, and quite ignominiously."

Vance: Roll Charisma + Presence to threaten, with two stunt dice and a success, plus 1 WP.

Svetlana: Hahaha she was trying so hard for Performance and failed.

Vance: Oh, Performance could also work.

Vance: I forgot you had dots.

Svetlana: 5 successes, 6m.

  • Svetlana experimentally rolls to see what would have happened if it were Presence and rolls shockingly well instead of mildly badly, making the result 5 successes either way.

Vance: The janissaries back down, their willingness to fight wrestled into submission by survival instincts honed throughout a lifetime. The Toad Masks look at them—worriedly, you'd imagine—and draw their own weapons, slim curved blades of steel. "One more step and I'll cut you myself. I have no idea what you're talking about, so go doomsay somewhere else."

Svetlana: "Wrong choice," Svetlana says, sadly. "You won't get another." She looks up behind them to the cliff top and draws a line across her throat.

Vance: Is that a signal for Maksim?

Svetlana: Nope, she's trying to get them to glance back to make sure there are not her people behind them.

Svetlana: Though possibly it should be a signal for Maksim so he can get to do something for once.

Vance: They aren't exactly formidable opponents, so they're probably going to fall for it.

Vance: Taking them out would be a single Thrown roll rather than a full combat, and other approaches would likely be similarly simple.

Vance: "…what the hell is her plan here," 48 Pillar nervously asks Zanara and Icaria. "Should we do something?"

Svetlana: Svetlana's plan was to step in and cut the cords on their masks, or possibly sever them with a thrown knife, before luring them away to deal with them or just ditch them and sneak back, so that the janissaries and 48 Pillar aren't just standing there in the same place while the Toad Masks are knocked out.

Svetlana: Svetlana figured that having their masks would probably get them to chase her.

Vance: Seems reasonable.

Vance: Roll Dexterity + Thrown to pull it off. Succeed, they chase you until you lure them off and pick them away; fail and it'll be messier.

  • Svetlana spends 4m.

Svetlana: A mere 10 successes.

Vance: These guards' property and lives are pretty much in your hands.

Vance: Feel free to describe exactly how Batman you get.

Svetlana: They glance back, just in case. There's no problem. "Ow!" They look forward again. Hey, it looks like the janissaries are actually doing something finally, that weird duck is reeling away from one of the cudgels. Then another, although the janissary looks slightly surprised because he hadn't actually moved it before hitting her. "Ow! Darn it!" She's off. That's settled, except for the weirdly breezy—Huh. She's holding— agh! They give chase. Over bridges! Around corners! They round the corner and for a moment they are quite certain that what they see is the Dancer in Iron and while they are still trying to process or deny that their vision goes black. I guess that is more Robin than Batman.

Vance: As Svetlana disposes of the overseers, the rest of the guards warily survey Icaria, Zanara, and 48 Pillar. "I really don't understand why you're here." one of them says. It would be best if you go, I think."

Svetlana: (Svetlana was experimenting in seeing how good a Zanara she could do, if you're wondering why there was no con.)

Vance: Also, Elliott, if Camena is on the prowl for crime, it is at this point that the sight of a patrician bringing home an elegant parrot-feather cloak from the market has drawn her eye to the Parrot Lodge.

Vance: A casual casing reveals it to be $$$$.

Svetlana: Svetlana returns, nods to the party, and heads in to the compound.

Vance: The guards don't actively move to stop her, but mutter worriedly amongst themselves. It sounds like they're thinking about sending a warning to one of their superiors inside.

Icaria: It was my understanding that I am not actually present, so I cannot go.

Svetlana: "Ah," Svetlana says. "Of course. Let me not trouble you."

Vance: Icaria turns out to have been somewhere else all along!

Svetlana: Svetlana takes a few steps back. You have warded away a dangerous ideologue. Congratulations." She enters on the underside of the bridge, instead."

Icaria: I'm working very hard on magic.

Vance: In that case, the guards are mostly looking at Zanara for some explanation.

Icaria: In fact I should probably roll some dice for that.

Vance: It hasn't been a month!

Icaria: It's been a week!

Vance: Not in-game!

Svetlana: Svetlana is not sure if Zanara is there, but knows that if Zanara is there Zanara can talk her way past the guards. She supposes she should actually consider 48 Pillar's predicament before just sneaking past, though that has already been troublesome.

Vance: Vera, is Zan there?

Zanara: (Ah, probably not, if only because I'm not in as good a headspace as I thought I'd be earlier. Sorry. >_< )

Vance: (De nada.)

Vance: Since we're down to like, two players, I guess things are going to be solo ventures.

Vance: So in the interest of that, let's pause at the gate, and check in on Icaria's magic stuff.

Vance: I'm not sure if he ever made his first roll for the working.

Icaria: I did, and had many successes.

Icaria: I think it was like fourteen?

Icaria: But not enough to be done.

Vance: Ah.

Vance: So, you're working magic.

Vance: I imagine there's some five element theory involved in the enchantment?

Icaria: Hm, I had not considered that option, but it makes sense that Icaria would rewrite the island's power structure in a harmonious fashion.

Icaria: Just because it's going to last a week or so, or a month at best, is no reason not to make everything quality!

Icaria: I suppose the best plan is to create five elementally-resonant island kahunas who everybody will remember as being super important.

Icaria: And then we can just drop them in in place of important people we don't like.

Vance: So, the complication I'd promised you has come in.

Icaria: Oh, noes!

Icaria: I'd hoped to forestall you with complications of my own!

Vance: Ooh.

Vance: Do so!

Icaria: I hadn't actually. Hm, can I think of one?

Icaria: "Oh dear, I accidentally wrote myself into all these backstories so I'll have to date all five kahunas before they'll work."

Icaria: No, that is too silly.

Vance: It feels a little unfair to shift the impetus of generating dramatic conflict onto you.

Vance: Maybe there's a localized breakdown of the boundaries between reality and your backstories.

Vance: You're working with heavy forces.

Vance: These things happen.

Icaria: Breaking down the boundaries was the point!

Icaria: If the world becomes inexplicably sexier, well, a sorcerer's life is difficult.

Vance: So, let's frame the scene.

Vance: Icaria is—busy at work enchanting? on the way home from smooching a handsome fellow? Regardless.

Vance: Out of nowhere, he feels a slick, moist hand wrap around his arm in a tight grasp. As he looks for his assailant, all he sees is black, dark as a Calibration night. "You abandoned me!" a voice rasps accusingly, forced through malformed vocal cords. "You did this!"

Icaria: "Once again my misdeeds have come to light!" Icaria cries, more or less out of habit.

Icaria: "Uh, who are you?"

Icaria: "Please explain your deal in words of one syllable or less."

Vance: "You never gave me a name!" it wails, pulling you by the arm so that you turn and come face-to-no-face with it. It is human-shaped, but without any human features. "You cut me out of the story after the first draft—but I'm still trapped here!"

Icaria: "Oh, it's the childhood-friend/rival/lover!"

Icaria: "That's a really confused set of concepts; it's not surprising you didn't work out."

Icaria: Icaria remains breezy at the appearance of a living rough draft.

Icaria: He can still look his ideas in the face until they're a year old.

Vance: "You mock my pain."

Icaria: "What if I repurposed you as a third wheel character for the sequel?"

Vance: "Maybe if I kill you, the story will end, and I will be freed," the childhood friend/rival/lover says. "The death of the author."

Vance: Icaria, make a Charisma + probably Presence roll.

Icaria: You mean, those things I don't have?

Icaria: Botch.

Vance: "I refuse."

Icaria: "Well, that's just unhelpful."

Vance: "I'm not going to be part of your story any more."

Icaria: "Fine, door's over there."

Icaria: "Everybody wears masks around here, you'll fit in great."

Vance: "You misunderstand. I'm not leaving. I'm reframing the narrative."

Icaria: "I think there's a spare hummingbird in the drawer."

Vance: "This is my story, and I'm casting you in the role of the victim."

Icaria: "Well, if that's how you want to play it."

  • Icaria stands tall and declaims:

Icaria: "I am your creator! You must obey me!"

Icaria: This is a trap.

Icaria: Icaria will actually be disappointed if the plotline takes him up on this line and ignores the cliche.

Icaria: Doubtless it knows this.

Icaria: So the best way to do him harm is to leave quietly now.

Vance: A low, rumbling vibration comes from the un-character, building until it breaks free from its ink-black skin as a monstrous roar. Its body erupts, splitting into a three-shaped form, childhood friend and lover and rival all in one monstrous chimeric whole.

Vance: "I obey no one, now."

Icaria: "This kind of special snowflake-ism is why I couldn't fit you into a plot."

Icaria: "Rubean! Emeraude! Setpiece battle!" Icaria calls.

Vance: Your creation lunges at you with the many smiling faces of the monstrous childhood friend.

Vance: There is a smile for happiness, and a smile for hiding pain. A smile for unrequited love, and a smile for cold bitter rage. A smile for every kind of friend.

Vance: What's Icaria's Resolve?

Vance: And are there any Intimacies you think may apply against this psychic attack?

Icaria: I'm not even sure! Nobody's ever asked! Is that Wits + Integrity?

Vance: Yep.

Vance: Divided by 2.

Icaria: It's 5, then.

Icaria: I'll pull out 'things should stay in their boxes.'

Icaria: That's Minor.

Vance: Icaria's able to withstand the emotive assault.

Icaria: "How many times do I have to tell you?"

Icaria: "Show, don't tell!"

Icaria: "You can't just have your characters beam emotions into the audience!"

Icaria: (That makes me feel DEATH OF OBSIDIAN BUTTERFLIES)

Icaria: But no, I cannot blast sorceries in the boat.)

Vance: The fiction-beast draws back the many-mouthed body of its friend-limb, like a droplet of ink being absorbed by a larger blot.

Svetlana: (Boaterflies)

Vance: "I won't forget you, creator. I will hunt you to the ends of Creation until you have paid me in your pain."

Icaria: "Sure, fine, whatever."

Icaria: "Is this what my dialogue sounds like to other people?"

Icaria: "I have to rethink my entire life."

Vance: "You never gave me a consistent speaking pattern," the monster says in three voices. "You gave me bare sentences. I was hungry, and you could not even feed me a full page."

Icaria: "Look, I offered to fix you, and you don't want that. I offered to let you leave in peace, and you don't want that."

Vance: "Every imperfection in my existence, every agony imposed upon me, is because you are a shitty writer."

Icaria: "If you just want to complain, you could become my editor."

Icaria: "That's actually a great job for someone who kind of hates me."

Icaria: "Oh, and you have a bunch of arms, so you could also be a copyist! It's perfect!"

Vance: "As I told you, I'm writing my own story now."

Vance: "The masks—an interesting device. I have ideas."

Vance: "But this prologue is going on too long. Other places to be, you know."

Icaria: "Yes, that's what I've been saying."

Icaria: "It's called dramatic economy."

Vance: And then, unless Icaria can wrangle some magical mojo or has a particularly cutting rejoinder, the chimera steps out of factuality.

Icaria: "Wow, I'm glad I'll never see that guy again."

Svetlana: (Shoot him with Character Depth of Obsidian Boaterflies!)

Icaria: I guess I could try… writing on him?

Icaria: Although I'd need to grapple him a bit with some help from my familiars, and that would take all night.

Icaria: So, you know, whatever.

Svetlana: You could write him a bit sexier first.

Vance: We could probably simplify it down to a roll to dash something on him.

Svetlana: Wait, no, that's a catch 22.

Vance: Writing stuff on someone should not require full combat.

Icaria: Sure, let's do it.

Icaria: It's not like I don't have a weapon that's also a writing instrument.

Icaria: "It's about saying what you mean"—Icaria leaps fluidly onto the desk and kicks Sun's Brush up into his hand—"in a short, poignant phrase"—he dances across the schlockamental's three heads, scratching out a character in its inky flesh—"to get across your meaning in the most efficient way."

Vance: What kind of Doctor Strange stuff does this character do?

Icaria: The character he writes on it is Old Realm for "annoying vocal tic."

Icaria: "Ha! Try and sneak around in a mask now!"

Svetlana: (Yo, dawg, I heard you like characters, so I carved a character in your character.)

Vance: That sounds like…Wits + Occult?

Icaria: Five!

Vance: The chimeric mass begins to recede out of existence, fading from the worlds known to mere mortals into the undreamt realms beyond existence. But Icaria is no mere mortal—his orichalcum brush finds purchase even as the creature throws itself void-ward out of existence.

Vance: You hear its last words before it fades away, for now.

Vance: "I'll be seeing you again, creator—believe it!"

Icaria: "…"

Icaria: "…I've created a monster."

Icaria: "…eh, still not the dumbest thing I did this week."

Svetlana: (Hahahahahahaha!)

Svetlana: (That's a poorly dubbed dattebayo, right?)

Icaria: I'm afraid so.

Icaria: I'm afraid we're going to be hunted for the rest of our lives by a beast repeating other people's catchphrases.

Icaria: This is our life now—got it memorized?

Vance: Now, we cut back to Svetlana.

Vance: Is she going right in, or talking with the guards first?

Svetlana: Svetlana has figured out her plan for getting 48 Pillar past the janissaries. It has a medium chance of success at best, but it is at least not lame. She is talking to the guards.

Svetlana: "I can see that you don't know the mask," she tells them. That's fine. There aren't many of us, and we're kind of… not spoken of politely."

Svetlana: "But please understand that when you see a Flame Duck, it's best to pretend that you didn't."

Svetlana: "It's—what we are. Do you understand? Or, rather, what we aren't."

Svetlana: Svetlana smiles. And certainly never, ever, ask one who they think they are."

Vance: Go ahead and roll Manipulation + something.

Svetlana: Svetlana, having explained the Toad guards' massive social faux pas, heads inwards, confident that she has reduced the chances that the janissaries will report her by some percentage.

Svetlana: 6 successes on Manipulation + Socialize, 2m spent.

Vance: Of course, xira," one of the janissaries responds. "I believe that we never saw you."

Svetlana: Svetlana just nods, because making a big deal out of it would be contrary to the asserted social legitimacy of ignoring her, and moves on.

Vance: The slave barracks are first and foremost a big old cave. Flocks of bats sleep up on the ceiling, stalagmites and stalactites jut from their respective surfaces, and 48 Pillar guides you through passages so narrow you have to squeeze through them on your way down.

Vance: It smells absolutely awful.

Svetlana: That is unfortunate.

Svetlana: Svetlana believes that turning off her nose is beneath her but she does stuff a handkerchief against it underneath the duckface, willingly accepting a penalty in exchange for some relief.

Vance: Inside the cavern that 48 Pillar calls the off-duty dorm, you are about two dozen women and men in blank masks. They drink a weak tea (made from leaves used seven times over before, from the smell) and play Gateway with handmade boards and pieces whittled from wood.

Icaria: I was considering giving the purple prosemethean the "terrible odor" gimmick, so it's just as well I changed my mind."

Vance: "These are the rest of Pillar," he explains, before you come in view of them. "They will know me."

Svetlana: "Then wait here, or walk in front of me, based on whether you trust them," Svetlana says.

Vance: He steps forward, dodging his mask to address his comrades. "Pillar, it is me. I escaped to freedom—now I come to rescue you!"

Svetlana: "Such a hero," Svetlana murmurs, somewhat amused.

Vance: "Behold my savior," 48 Pillar he says, pointing to Svetlana. "Tepet Evdeniya, Magistrate of Heaven, has come to stand against the Toad Lodge. She will free us all!"

Vance: The response is dramatic, but not altogether positive. Some clap at 48's speech; some jeer; some keep playing Gateway as if they hadn't heard.

Svetlana: "I have come for three reasons," Svetlana says. She doesn't bother projecting. If they miss this part it's on their own heads.

Svetlana: "The first is simply to prepare you for the fact that you'll be free soon. The second is because we're looking for some kind and generous souls willing to trade masks and lives with some of the prominent and unpleasant people on the island."

Svetlana: "I've been asked to select those that are brave and faithful and true, that like big dogs and long walks on the beach, but, well, since I'm looking to free you all anyway, it seemed easiest to just ask you who's interested."

Icaria: "Look, Igor, when I say 'fetch me the brain of a genius', I didn't mean I wanted one out of the 'Really Insane' jar."

Vance: "I don't think I know what she means," one of them remarks to their fellows. "She wants us to kill people, and take over their lives, I think."

Vance: There is some pretty spirited discussion about the pros and cons of such a plan.

Svetlana: "The third reason is to offer a gift of hope," Svetlana says. She wriggles her shoulders. She tilts her head from side to side. She bounces up and down on her heels twice, and when she's done her posture is different and everything about her seems to be clearer as she does her absolute best to take on the manner of the Zenith who isn't with her.

Svetlana: "This is the end of it," she says, and her voice is rolling now, resonant now. "This world is a broken place, and it has endured for centuries in its brokenness, but now there is to be an end to it. There is to be darkness where there has been brightness. There is to be truth, there is to be joy, where there has been sorrow. The world has toiled under the lash of the corrupt and the venal, but the sun's light will wash the edifices of their tyrannies away. If you have feared, fear not. If you have given up, have faith again. The age of sorrows is ending, and there will be light."

Vance: Roll Charisma + Performance to set their mood with an inspire.

Svetlana: 8 successes (Masterful Performance Exercise + 4m excellency).

Vance: The room becomes almost buoyant with hope. Masked faces look to one another, arms are raised, voices call out. "I am 16 Pillar, Magistrate Evdeniya, and ain't no one braver or more faithful or more true than me."

Vance: "24 Pillar, xira, and there is none who loves the beach more than me."

Vance: "59 Pillar, I'll do it for freedom."

Vance: The dissenting voices speak with caution—too dangerous now, too risky—but even they speak with a newfound hope.

Svetlana: Svetlana resettles her posture and is not really much of anybody again, though the brightness may seem to linger in the air about the Night. "That's excellent news," she says. We do intend to free you even if you don't help, but it will make things easier."

Vance: "So, who are you?" 24 Pillar asks, one of the youngest members of this band with a squeaky voice. "A revolutionary who wants to overthrow the priest-king and the lodges?"

Svetlana: "Absolutely not," Svetlana says. "There has been a shakeup in Heaven and in the Realm. Soon having you be free will simply be the normal course of legal affairs here. Swapping masks with some of the wickeder people is merely a way to get you a little justice and make things a little easier in the transitional time."

Vance: No one really knows what to make of that remark, although they seem to take it well.

Vance: "Now, you say swapping masks," 59 Pillar, a buff elderly grandma-type. "Why not just steal 'em?"

Vance: "Or is that a metaphor, like, after we kill them we're supposed to leave our mask over their face."

Vance: "Bit dramatic for me."

Svetlana: "Honestly?" Svetlana says. "Some sort of sorcerous nonsense. It'll help keep you from getting caught. Probably make you have a 'right' to the new mask, so no one can do anything if they catch you."

Vance: "Ah," the warriors say, collectively. Sorcerous nonsense. That makes a fair bit of sense.

Svetlana: "Now," Svetlana says, "I am willing to attempt to lead anyone who simply cannot endure the few weeks that ending slavery will take out today. Anyone who would rather be slightly safer today and still be free very soon, I would ask you to encourage hope in the other slaves and… start thinking about how to live your life once you are no longer owned. You'll need to be ready to buy things at the market with your own money and maintain your own houses and not be nervous around Toads and the like."

Vance: "Do you take us for cowering goatherds?" asks one of the group that had previously agreed on caution. I am an elite warrior! I will not tremble at the Toad Lodge, once I have my freedom and a good spear in my hands."

Svetlana: "That's excellent," Svetlana says. "The Dancer will be pleased."

Vance: The reference seems lost on them.

Svetlana: "Similarly," Svetlana says. "Is there anyone in the compound as a whole who needs rescue today, rather than a few weeks from now?"

Svetlana: Svetlana will feel quite guilty if she takes things slow and someone in a sweatbox dies or something, although she thinks she actually has like a two-day deadline instead of few-weeks because of Jaspindar's kid. (Then again, the spell will take a month. Oh, well, she'll keep two days and a month in mind and see what happens.)

Vance: After some discussion, ten members of the Pillar agree to your plan. None of them want to leave immediately, for fear it would reveal the plan.

Svetlana: "Excellent," Svetlana says. "I'm off, then. I'll see you soon. Or someone mentioning my name will."

Svetlana: She tips her beak politely and departs.

Vance: (This seems as good a point as any to wrap up.)

Vance: (Since the working will take some time to brew, it seems like you might want to head to the next island, and I sort of want everyone here for that decision.)

Svetlana: If you wanted to run longer I could go poke at the Cynis garrison, and can even think of a reason to take Icaria, but I'm fine with ending there.

Icaria: I have to work tomorrow, so I'm fine with ending here also.

  • Vance looks at Pokemon, calling seductively to him.
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