In Which We Decline The Chance To Parley

Vance: Could you give me a quick reminder of what the goal of having Jaspindar check in on the currency was?

Svetlana: Um um um.

Svetlana: I think I was seeding the idea that it might suddenly start rising in value.

Svetlana: By having someone in authority check for it having done so.

Svetlana: Er, price, not value, really.

Vance: Gotcha.

Vance: I will likely keep pestering and re-pestering for details because economics defy me and I want to make sure it plays out interestingly

Svetlana: Thanks! ^_^

Vance: So, it looks like we all are here?

Zanara: I am, in fact, here!

Icaria: I continue to exist.

Vance: Elliott, exist, dangit!

Vance: I need to ask Camena some questions about her boat.

Camena: Sorry.

Camena: I was fixing me some chicken tikka.

Icaria: Oh, I want some chicken tikka!

Icaria: I wish I was unsick and could go places without giving people diseases.

Vance: Yum.

Camena: Then marry me. That's the only way you're getting it.

Vance: What kind of boat is the Sparrow?

Camena: Oh god you're going to make me know boats?

Icaria: Hm.

Camena: That's a thing I should know more.

  • Icaria considers Elliott's qualifications as a husband.

Vance: I don't expect you to know any more than me.

Vance: It it a sails boat or an oars boat or both?

Camena: Sails.

Icaria: I'm not sure what my mother would say about me bringing home another liberal arts major.

Icaria: Or, like, a dude.

Svetlana: It's obviously a boat that was won in a rap battle.

Camena: Not a ship-of-the-line or anything. Probably a nice, mid-sized trader, getting as much cargo as it can without sacrificing too much mobility.

Svetlana: I mean, Wor Raps backwards?

Icaria: Presumably it's art-powered.

Icaria: I'm not really sure how much seraglio you can put in a boat and still have it float.

Camena: Whatever floats my boat.

Vance: Good point. You are a sorcerer.

Vance: Any boat magic at play?

Camena: None that we've established, but if not now, I'd probably love to do something where it can move forward on water power alone.

Svetlana: Currently it can, she said, and ducked.

Icaria: Well, water promotes wood.

Icaria: I think.

Vance: I'm fine letting you retroactively introducing some Terrestrial-level workings.

Camena: Mkay. It can glide forward, sluicing water when the wind is dead or ill, but it's sloooow going and not super maneuverable.

Camena: Basically, it can't get becalmed.

Vance: How's it do that?

Icaria: I've introduced air conditioning.

Icaria: Because I need a cool, non-moist environment for my important literary work.

Camena: Basically the ancient equivalent of a secret riverboat.

Vance: Big old wheel and all?

Camena: Mostly under the water, so not that visible. But it's powered by a spell that makes it REALLY fun for water elementals to rush through. Like a free slip-n-slide.

Vance: Nice.

Icaria: My magic probably involves tiny air elementals with fans.

Vance: Remind me to charge you some of your Solar XP for it at the end of the session.

Icaria: It was a trick!

Camena: Wait, then, I'm not that into it.

Icaria: Yeah, my Solar XP is to teach everybody important life lessons.

Icaria: Like, dots in Socialize.

Vance: Oh, sorry. Still costs XP, just waiving the rolls.

Camena: Or rather, I don't really like the idea enough.

Icaria: Yeah, I'm not spending XP on air conditioning.

Svetlana: Svelteringlana sighs in regret.

Vance: At this point I feel like I should say up front that my planned intro involves you getting becalmed.

Icaria: I'm cool with that.

Camena: That's fine.

Vance: I just didn't want it to feel like STORYTELLER PUNISHMENT.

Camena: "Icaria! Summon your MANLIEST AIR ELEMENTALS."

Vance: So, now to start IC.

Icaria: Agnate, ho!

Icaria: Also, stop seducing my elemental children!

Camena: Can't. Ifrits are too hot.

Icaria: I can't summon those, owing to their hotness (and Essence) being too powerful.

Camena: Quickly! Gather the dragon balls and wish for a hot firedude.

Icaria: If Icaria had a few more points in Introspection he'd realize that his "my elementals are my babies" stance is a way to avoid having to deal with the ethical problems inherent in sexy summonings.

Camena: But they're not Aunty Camena's babies.

Vance: The trade routes between Prophet's Keep and Tourmaline smell of incense and salt—"the storm mother's perfume," some of your crew call it. On the third day of the voyage, the winds that have filled your sails go out, leaving you becalmed off the coast of Prophet's Keep. Sailors curse at the sky haplessly, then set to gambling with dice and cards and singing bawdy chanties.

Icaria: "Agnate, ho!"

Camena: "If this is another actual storm mother, I shall be ever so pissed."

Vance: Is Camena a redhead?

Camena: Nope. Black of hair.

Camena: Although I imagine she does experiment with dyes.

Camena: At the moment, it's mostly black, but there's an argument you could make for some of her vermillion stripes to be red.

Svetlana: I'll slip into a gambling circle, because that's about what I can do about becalming.

Icaria: How do you feel about underwater assassinations?

Icaria: We may need you to delete a storm mother.

Svetlana: Ooh, I even have two golden hoops with feathers, so I don't have to wager a draft on the Imperial Treasury.

Camena: Camena shoos Tran back to the hold to spare her more Anathemizing and then flares her caste mark and starts making vague declarations/veiled obscene remarks.

Svetlana: I'm pretty solid on underwater assassinations, assuming that swimming is not Sail.

Icaria: Seriously, though, I have a huraka.

Vance: That does seem like a valid replacement for wind.

Icaria: "And here you were wondering whether your existence served any purpose."

Vance: Do we know anything about how exactly they do their thing? My only recollection besides then being bears is that they're kind of like Storm Shepherds from Seventh Tower.

Icaria: Hm, they can control the wind and their breath shatters deception.

  • Svetlana reads about huraka. That is so inappropriate. What is this summons whose breath penetrates disguises garbage, Icaria?

Svetlana: I told you neither of us was the three-headed story beast!

Icaria: "Technically their breath shatters deception."

Icaria: "Arguably your disguises are merely the reflections of a secret inner truth."

Camena: "Icaria, your philosophy is more flexible than a Sesus sex-crobat."

Icaria: Anyway, since he's a bear, and quite strong but not super bright, I'm assuming Agnate can push winds around through pure muscle power.

  • Vance reads that the wrong way.

Vance: Oh, right, Agnate is his name!

Svetlana: "I find it extremely sound reasoning," Svetlana says, "but would like to express skepticism that elementals are designed as gateways to underlying cosmic truths."

Vance: I will admit that I thought you were Cloud Tortoise-ing Tourmaline.

Icaria: It's not my fault if you jacked my naming scheme.

Icaria: To be fair, I jacked it from Sailor Moon.

Icaria: Although my Emeraude doesn't carry on like hers did.

Vance: So: the great bear of wind Agnate spills forth from your anima, coiling its way around the mast so that it can fill the airs with the gust of its exhalation. The crew takes in the novelty of it, though not enough to be distracted from their pots of winnings.

Vance: The mast strains a little more than is comfortable beneath the force of the elemental's breath. It could benefit from reinforcement.

Camena: Stop trying to make me spend Solar XP!

Icaria: If necessary I will just have my nimbus tow the boat.

Vance: I mean like, physical reinforcement. With Craft or some such.

Icaria: We need some kind of… wood tailor.

Svetlana: Svetlana squints at it. "I can make a brace," she agrees. "Though it does rely on your having ample wood to spare."

Svetlana: Svetlana tries to visualize why masts are not infinitely thick to begin with.

Icaria: They have to bend but not break.

Icaria: Also, weight.

Camena: "I suppose I can spare some. It's a poor ship that leaves port without timber."

Svetlana: "Maksim?" Svetlana calls. "Where's your nest, dear?"

Vance: The wood elemental flies down from a patch of rigging it has turn into a bundle of viney overgrowth, and perches on your shoulder.

Svetlana: Svetlana asides, "It's not likely to be conveniently in the form of a brace, but his snack wood tends to be quite tough after he's worried it a while."

Vance: "Maksim!"

Icaria: Vance has the Pokémania!

Vance: His nest is, in fact, filled with scraps pilfered from the Sparrow's spare timber. It should provide enough for the brace, and maybe then some.

Svetlana: "I should probably have rhymed," Svetlana admits. "Little Max, my little Max, fly down from your nest to me, the breath from that strange windy bear is causing our fine mast to creak?" She ponders, then skritches him under the chin. "Mm?" she asks him. "You like that better, don't you."

Icaria: "Oh, man," says Icaria. "Now I'm going to have to start rhyming, too."

Camena: "I find blank pentameter will do just fine."

Icaria: "I can't allow myself to become the normal one."

Svetlana: "Well, feel free," Svetlana opines.

  • Vance groans.

Camena: "Does anyone hear the mast groaning?"

Camena: "Could we maybe speed up the bracing just a bit?"

Vance: That was me at the pun, not the mast.

Vance: But either way works!

Camena: I know.

Camena: But I'm an ass.

Icaria: I mean, I could always just ask Agnate to blow slower.

Vance: From the description, it sounds like they're not really bright enough to do this kind of thing on their own.

Svetlana: The assembly shows clear influence of medical braces, because Svetlana is a slightly better doctor than woodworker and an absolutely terrible sailor, but the premise should be reasonably sound. She does not appear to actually rhyme during the work itself except once when encouraging Maksim to bring her some of the vines as well.

Icaria: Although I'd need to come up with a rhyme and also wouldn't be an effective way to farm Craft XP for Jenna.

Vance: All that preparation sounds worth a two die stunt.

Vance: +2 dice, +1 success, gain 1 WP.

Svetlana: …7 successes.

Vance: So, rather than a jury-rigged solution to being becalmed, this is more in the way of an upgrade to the ship's mast.

Vance: Huraka-power isn't going to break it no matter how dramatically appropriate it would be!

Vance: That sounds like a major project, and it sounds like you fulfilled one craft objective, for a reward of 3 gold XP and 1 silver XP.

Svetlana: "I might have overdone it," Svetlana admits, as she looks at the ornate lattice of hardened wood, regular wood, and vines embracing the ship's main mast.

Camena: "I think it's like to start a fashion, cousin."

Vance: Agnate's mighty breath and Svetlana's retrofitting leave the Sparrow sailing smoothly through the windless seas, losing barely any progress at all. At this pace, it'll be a fortnight to landfall at Tourmaline, less if the wind picks back up.

Camena: "Remind me to give the wind a stern lecture."

Svetlana: "It's tough," Svetlana says. "Wood that quality's actually hard to get outside the east, which is not where you'd normally be sailing. It might look like random timber a mospid's been chewing on, but it's solid stuff."

Vance: After a few hours, you draw near a less fortunate vessel becalmed on this route. The make of the ship is both distinctive and familiar, a dragon-prowed longboat that all of you have seen in the docks of Gloam some time in the past. Svetlana's nose picks up the scent of someone that she and Icaria have met once before, in a dockside teahouse: the boisterous, good-humored Lord Dunne.

Svetlana: "I used to throw chunks of it at people, who were never very appreciative."

  • Svetlana tries to find the main page for the logs so she can remember who that is.

Icaria: Some big fella with his own ship.

Icaria: I think he's like a Viking-equivalent?

Vance: Quick summary: He's a guy who showed up, tried to bribe you, and said stuff about his cousin usurping what was rightfully his.

Svetlana: No, that's sailing, viking is when you're climbing a rough trail.

Vance: I don't think you/we ever got more detail than that.

Svetlana: "Oh," Svetlana says. "It's Dunne."

Camena: "We're not finished. Still quite a ways to go, Svetlana."

Icaria: "I can't summon bears for everybody!"

Icaria: "I mean, I guess I can, but there's probably some reason why I shouldn't."

Svetlana: "Maybe for us, cousin, but that guy over there is definitely Dunne."

Camena: "Isn't it my job to be the rude one?"

Svetlana: "I have not been informed of such a ruling by the Heavenly Bureaucracy."

Vance: The longboat raises a smaller, blue-colored sail, which is of course the standard naval signal for a parley under the peaceful auspices of Venus.

Svetlana: How many people over there, about?

Vance: <An appropriate amount for a boat of that size.>

Svetlana: "Oh, Venus! I think he's flirting with you, Icaria."

Camena: "See, Icaria! Now you can have one giant man instead of multiple smaller ones."

Icaria: "What? No, that never happens."

Svetlana: Mostly wondering if we can take the crew if it turns out there is a reason not to make an extra bear.

Svetlana: But that's something to leave to Camena, really.

Camena: My intention was that the Sparrow was more than a skeleton crew, but not really full-on fleshy.

Vance: Your tactical assessment is that it'd probably be ugly and unpleasant to fight a boat full of people.

Svetlana: Take = "fit on our boat".

Vance: Oh!

Camena: There are other meanings, too.

Vance: Both ships are cargo vessels, so I imagine the Sparrow would have enough space to fit them somewhere, potentially.

Vance: But that's probably going beyond the limits of what you can smell from across the sea.

Svetlana: Svetlana intends to keep pretending to be confident until it blows up in her face or proves definitely useful so naturally she can defeat a boat full of people, if necessary by tying them up with paperwork until she finishes beating them to death.

Icaria: I can blow up the boat from a distance if an atrocity is actually called for.

Camena: So can I.

Camena: We are actually a decent power at sea.

Svetlana: "Are you going to flirt back?" Svetlana says. "Say something to him! Like… another flag, I guess."

Svetlana: Svetlana waves a hand dismissively. "The crew can probably translate."

Camena: "He's waiting for your most sensual semaphore, dear boy!"

Icaria: "I'm not feeling it."

Vance: When did Icaria become captain?

Svetlana: "Oh, well," Svetlana says. "I'm having trouble thinking up puns for Icaria anyway."

  • Camena looks over and gestures for the boys to raise a blue flag in return.

Svetlana: "Ooooooh."

Camena: "Fine. No telling what booty you might have been able to plunder from the encounter, but if you insist, I suppose I'll do my job."

Vance: In response to your flag of parley, the longboat launches a small shuttle, churning the sea between ships as its oarsman row towards you. It's a small entourage, Svetlana's nose determines—just the captain himself and a handful of rowers.

Camena: "Then again, maybe we don't have to choose," Camena says, whistling her approval. "Not everything's an either/oar, I guess."

Camena: "Hail," she yells down, balanced atop the railing.

Svetlana: "I've heard," Svetlana asides to Icaria, "that pirates do it in the naval."

  • Icaria considers this.

Camena: "That's full of ship, dear cuz."

Icaria: Maybe we should just let Camena sleep with him.

Icaria: At this rate Icaria is going to wonder if she's equally clueless, romantically, and is just hiding it better.

Svetlana: "That's anatomically inaccurate," Svetlana says. "Under practically all conditions."

Camena: "Practicality is just a challenge."

Vance: "Lord Burnham Dunne of the Aldudugga, requesting permission to come aboard, captain." The Sparrow's crew lowers down a rope ladder for them to come aboard. The lord is a mass of a man, with a beard reminiscent of a ram that snuck past the shearing season unnoticed and a personality to match. He vigorously shakes the hands of the crewmen that raise him aboard, leaving them with small gems and ringlets of precious metal. "You can't imagine my surprise at meeting you again. You seem to have bent the very wind to your will!"

Icaria: "I have many beautiful children."

Camena: "We can neither confirm nor deny," Camena says, arching an eyebrow with equal parts interest and surprise.

Vance: "And who is this?" he asks, singling out Zanara with a glance of singular interest (not Camena, though, who he hasn't met either). "You, my lady, are a bonfire in a sea of candles."

Zanara: "…well, that's a new one," Zanara says—she's mostly been keeping out of the way of the people who know what they're doing on boats. "I am Zanara. I take it that you have crossed paths with my friends before, then?"

Vance: "I found myself in a most embarrassing position, I'm afraid—my crew made fools of themselves ashore, and your friends did me the favor of restraining their mischief. And then there was some business with a giant pig, or so I am told. How did you come to meet them?"

Zanara: "We practically tripped over each other," Zanara says, smiling.

Vance: "Those with great passions in their hearts are drawn to each other, perhaps?" he muses, with a joking smile. As overly familiar as he is, his demeanor doesn't suggest anything untoward. "The piercing brilliance of your eyes, the elegance of your bearing, the timbre of your voice—everything about you is the aspect of greatness."

Icaria: Wow, it's almost like NPCs can have their own preferences outside my shipping grids.

Icaria: I don't like it!

Zanara: (He is hella barking up the wrong tree, but that's fine too.)

Vance: You don't think he's actually hitting on you.

Svetlana: Svetlana evaluates the crew that came with him.

Icaria: He's almost as bad at not hitting on people as I am at hitting on them.

Svetlana: Svetlana is mostly assessing their weapon quality.

Vance: The rowers are a mixed bunch—only one a Northerner, the rest looking like they must have come on at foreign ports. All of them have similar tattoos made of curving arcs, spiky lines, and other geometric shapes. They aren't openly carrying any weapons, and the weapons they have hidden are your basic knives, brass knuckles, etc.

Svetlana: "Icaria," Svetlana murmurs. "Do the tattoos mean anything to you?"

Icaria: Hm, do they?

Vance: Has he spent any time in the North?

Zanara: "If I seem so great, it is only because I reflect those around me," Zanara says.

  • Camena goes off to do captain-y things, since apparently she's not Dunne's type. Which, fair enough. The beard'd have to be the first thing to go, and he doesn't look the sort to part with it.

Icaria: I have not!

Vance: Then they do not.

Icaria: Nor am I familiar with gang signs.

Icaria: Unless they've marked themselves with Old Realm characters for "sudden yet inevitable betrayal."

Icaria: Although even that could be ironic.

  • Camena harps at various crew members to batten things. Presumably, hopefully, things that ought to be battened.

Vance: "Oh, but of course. I myself have had ample opportunity for reflection, what with the wind abandoning us. I'd hoped to rally a few brave souls from the Hundred Kingdoms and Great Forks, but it seems I'll be making do with crabs and gulls."

Icaria: "So, anyway, y'all want a bear or something?"

Vance: Lord Burnham cranes his neck to admire Agnate at work. "My crew is simple and superstitious, and to sail with the aid of a yoked spirit would doubtlessly violate their nautical mores." One of his crewman nods emphatically; another spits. "We have more pressing concerns—our supplies of food and fresh water will only last so long, and some of my crew seem to have picked up some Gloamish fever. I would be indebted for any aid you can provide."

Svetlana: "Tell me a bit about the fever's symptoms?" Svetlana says. "I've read a bit about it, but mostly with an eye towards containing outbreaks in times of economic upheaval, rather than treatment direct."

Vance: "Alas, I'm a captain, not a physician, and our ship's doctor only speaks a damnable dialect of Foresttongue. They've gone strange colors, had hallucinations, nausea, sweats. Some of it's probably just malingerers, but it's put some of my best sailors on their backs."

Icaria: "I know a bit of Foresttongue, if necessary."

Zanara: "As do I," Zanara says.

Vance: "You're welcome to come back onto my ship, though a tour of the sick ward is hardly the best I could offer you."

Svetlana: "It's fine," Svetlana says. "It would be embarrassing to allow some picayune pestilence to keep me from going wheresoever I choose to go."

Vance: "At the very least, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer you your choice from the captain's liquor cabinet. I'm something of a collector of Creation's rare vintages—my cousin couldn't steal that from me."

Icaria: Helping people is so complicated!

Icaria: And all because of racism against bears.

Vance: There's probably a reason the Heptagram doesn't just bind an air elemental to every ship in the Realm's navy.

Svetlana: "You," Svetlana says. She points at a sailor. "Christoph. Could you mention the food and water thing to Camena and find out whether she wants to spare some?"

Vance: I'd posit they're too dumb to really do that, functionally, unless the binding sorcerer is there to provide instructions.

  • Camena clambers down towards them.

Camena: "She doesn't, really, but she will, knowing full well it means three-quarter rations for her own."

Icaria: Nah, I don't think that's it.

Svetlana: "You must've inherited the family goodness," Svetlana smiles.

Icaria: Although it is hard to manage spirits with no spiritologist.

Vance: "You have my crew's gratitude, Captain Camena, and my promise to repay this debt whenever I next see you, even if my grandson's grandson must seek out your granddaughter's granddaughter to fulfill it."

Camena: "Let's hope this particular debt does not become a matter of probate, Lord Dunne."

Vance: "Ha! You're a captain who calls them like she sees them. Why not let me make a first installment of my payment with some celebration?"

Svetlana: Svetlana visibly tenses, even though she knows that celebration almost certainly doesn't mean he's going to whip out two scimitars and grow ten feet tall and green and try to kill everyone. Magistracy habits die hard.

Icaria: People from the North party hard, Svetlana.

Camena: "As you please," Camena says, growing icier by the word. Even her bearing has changed, stiff as a stuffed-coat Guild factor.

Vance: He's gonna try to read her intentions.

Vance: What's Camena's Guile?

Camena: 6.

Camena: She's using Shadow Over Day.

Vance: Well…

Vance: He botches.

Vance: So, what's a reason she isn't being icy?

Camena: That syntax is making me have micro-seizures.

Vance: That's why I used visual emphasis!

Camena: She isn't being icy because she's intimidated by a better sailor.

Vance: The captain offers you a ride back to his ship on the oarboat. "I'll have to signal my crew, and let them know of our good luck."

Camena: Camena nods her assent and, firewand slung across her shoulder.

Svetlana: "As there are no rooftops to shout it from," Svetlana says, "This seems sensible enough."

Vance: Camena, Svetlana, and anyone else interested are ferried over to the Aldudugga. Lord Burnham lights a makeshift torch of grease and kindling that gives off thick-white signal smoke as you approach.

Svetlana: Svetlana cleans her favorite medical darts along the way, the metal gleaming ominously.

Camena: Never a poor guest, Camena brings a fist-sized bottle of wyldbrandy.

Vance: "I'll have to trade you drink for drink, to match your generosity. Y'ffre, fetch the liquor cabinet."

Svetlana: Svetlana will murmur, "Ah, someone who speaks Foresttongue might be appreciated…" if neither Icaria or Zanara board.

Icaria: I can come along, although, alcohol.

Vance: The crew that hauls you aboard is, like the rowers, a mixed bunch, with fewer Northeners than you'd expect. All of them have the same tattoos.

Icaria: I check for occult wackness.

Vance: Perception + Occult.

Icaria: Four!

Vance: Do you have AESS up?

Icaria: Let's say yes.

Vance: Okay. There's no magical anything in the tattoos—if they do have a weird occult purpose, it's not a functional one. The ship in general is what you'd expect it to be, viewed through your enlightened eye.

Icaria: Ah, so.

Vance: But you get a weird feeling, something you've never experienced before. It is as if someone is right behind you, out of your sight but so close to touching your back—that same chill is what the feeling of something in the blind spot of your mind's eye is giving you.

Icaria: I try… turning around?

Vance: The captain's drink cabinet, a splendid thing of burnished ebony that rests on clawed feet of jade, is brought up on deck, and Lord Dunne offers you all your choice of liquors. There are V'neef wines that go back to the year of the Great House's formation, Medoan ghostmead, firepollen cider, and a strange clear liquor that smells faintly of tubers.

Icaria: But anyway, it looks like occult wackness is a go.

  • Icaria considers possible causes of this phenomenon.

Svetlana: Svetlana picks the one that smells the most interesting and pours herself, or lets him pour, two mouthfuls' worth. She sips it while leaning as best as anyone can against the wall in a cabin on a ship which isn't really a very good leaning because with all of us in here and the furniture it's probably awful crowded.

  • Icaria does not drink. It's a bad day for introspection.
  • Camena takes the smallest drink of the ghostmead, but then unstoppers her own brandy and pours herself a double before setting it in the cabinet for any others.

Vance: Fine wine is probably very yummy when you have super-taste.

Icaria: So is fine poison.

Svetlana: Yeah, Svetlana was going to waive the indulgence before she suddenly realized the benefits of super-taste in this situation herself. The only reason she isn't drinking more is that she can get a lot from a little and the smell.

Vance: The ghostmead is, Svetlana's nose reveals, honey and fermented yeddim milk. Will Camena find out?

Zanara: Zanara doesn't drink to excess as a rule. She will work on a single glass of wine for the duration.

Svetlana: Svetlana does not alert Camena because she assumes Camena knows these things.

Vance: Lord Dunne pours himself a glass of the wyld cider, admiring the bottle's label. "Mm, this could easily become an old favorite," he says, after his first sip. "Once again, the onus falls on me! Why don't I be helpful, hm? You wanted to see our infirmary?"

Svetlana: Svetlana is mildly disappointed at the absence of ghosts, though. Although possibly she wouldn't be able to smell them. Logically it would be equally hard to taste them, though, so it's mox nix.

Svetlana: "I do," Svetlana agrees.

  • Camena makes a polite show of captainly interest in the make of the ship and its disposition, while actually sussing out if there's anything of value.

Vance: "I'll show you there myself," he says, pouring another glass of brandy to take with him. "Strong drink aids against infection."

Vance: Camena, roll Perception + Sail.

Svetlana: "That's logical," Svetlana agrees.

Svetlana: Svetlana squints at the shelf, but doesn't casually pick up a bottle in response to that to bring along for as yet undetermined medical purposes unless he has something really cheap, which he probably doesn't.

Camena: A surprising 6 successes.

Vance: He leads you down through a hatch into a passageway almost like a spiral staircase, an incredibly baroque feat of shipwrightery.

Svetlana: "Why."

Svetlana: Svetlana coughs, then says, "I mean, impressive."

Vance: The sick bay is kept hot and smoky by a great brazier placed in the center, filled with a dense green pile of moss that burns almost agonizingly slowly. Sick sailors are laid out on beds that are little more than benches, retching and tossing about. You see a figure rapt in observation of a patient whose forehead has gone bright magenta with her fever. Lord Dunne barks out a mispronounced greeting in mangled Foresstongue, and the ship's doctor, a large baboon with tattoos dyed into their fur. Zanara, Icaria, and any other speakers of Foresttongue are able to make out the gist of the doctor's response—something along the lines of "what is it this time?"

Icaria: "Just some neighbors checking in," says Icaria in perfect Foresttongue.

Icaria: "Got everything you need?"

Svetlana: Svetlana spends a few moments blinking before she just closes her eyes as the simplest way to stop.

Vance: The physician isn't actually speaking perfect Foresttongue—they're speaking in a far Eastern patois, and are also limited by the constraints of baboon physiology.

Icaria: I'm not going to tell the native speaker they aren't doing it right.

Svetlana: Svetlana assesses. OK. At the bottom of a spiral staircase on a ship, Icaria is talking to a baboon. Who is a doctor.

Icaria: That's frankly less complicated than your own backstory.

Icaria: People are so darn prejudiced.

Icaria: Baboons, Solars, satraps… why can't we just see each other as individuals?

Vance: "Do I look like I have everything I need? Sailors are sick with strange colored flu, they become my responsibility, and since we have no medicine for this of course the only balm becomes my time and effort. Give me the shade of a sprawling tree, a basket of warm bread, fine poetry, and a callipygian lover, and I will have all I need. Until then, don't waste my time."

Svetlana: Svetlana experimentally checks her own pulse for signs of irregularity, since pinching oneself will not wake one from a hallucination. Afterwards, barring a surprising twist, she opens her eyes again. Hm.

Vance: Reality appears to be real.

Icaria: How are we for relevant medical supplies?

Vance: Good question. I wouldn't think that the Sparrow would have anything but the most basic supplies, unless Camena says otherwise.

Vance: Anyone carry stuff on them?

Icaria: I mean, I can summon a caladrius if I gotta, although apparently people are going to be weird about things.

Icaria: I'm not a doctor. I'm just a knower of all stories.

Vance: Are you just making elementals up now?

Vance: It's that or my memory has finally given up and turned around three times and gone to bed.

Icaria: No, that's a real legend!

Icaria: They also appear in Masters of Jade, being monetized by the Guild.

Vance: Huh.

Icaria: They devour illness and fly up into the sky, where the light of the sun burns the sickness away.

Camena: She's got lots of opium and similar, if you need anesthetics.

Vance: I'm guessing that was Minton!

Camena: But otherwise she's tapped.

Vance: But yeah, you don't think summoning would be well received on this boat.

Svetlana: Svetlana inclines her head to the baboon, says, "If I may," and without waiting for an answer, moves over to a patient and begins to study them. Their scent, mostly, which is honestly amazingly informative, but also their pulse, the tightness of their skin, temperature, color—though that's going to be pretty useless, likely—and a bit of trying to intuit the overall movement of the life energy that is within their flesh.

Icaria: Welp! I'm out of ideas.

Vance: Roll Perception + Medicine, but with any relevant Awareness-based bonuses from super-senses.

Svetlana: 9 successes, 11m + 2m to hide them.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: What's Svetlana's Resolve?

Svetlana: 3.

Vance: Would you care to magic it up higher?

Svetlana: No Integrity Charms, but I'll spend a Willpower for a point given that it's an awful weird time to need Resolve.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Icaria? That weird feeling you've been having very suddenly changes.

Icaria: Occult shenanigans!

Icaria: Oh, man, tricked by fairies again.

Vance: As Svetlana looks at the patient, it is like the jaws of a trap shutting closed around her.

Svetlana: That is not listed anywhere in the Book of Delightful Physicking!

Vance: She knows what they are sick with—just by chance, she transcribed a rare medical treatise on the disease in her early days as a scribe, and her memory of it is crystalline and perfect. These sailors are sick with the Five Color Plague, a disease created by the terrible Germ-Wrights of Jesra, on the Dreaming Sea. It can change its symptoms as cunningly as an octopus, camouflaging its presence as an outbreak of numerous different diseases.

Vance: It is a fatal illness if it is not treated within a year and a day, and its cure is ransomed out by the Germ-Wrights for an exorbitant cost. It could be found elsewhere, but it would be preciously rare.

Icaria: That's delightfully unlikely!

Camena: Do these Germ-Wrights do bespoke work, or is it really more of a workshop method?

Icaria: I suspect they are imaginary.

Vance: Svetlana takes on all of this knowledge, as well as an impulse to act on it, as a Defining Principle.

Icaria: And this is why I don't drink.

Vance: You can resist in a Decision Point by calling on a Defining Intimacy that opposes this and paying 1 WP.

Vance: At this time, Icaria can make a Perception + Occult roll to figure out exactly how this works.

Svetlana: Alas, while I have a precisely relevant Intimacy, I have not pumped it up past Minor.

Icaria: I'm spending five personal motes and getting ten successes.

Vance: Essentially: Svetlana is in the digestive tract of a carnivorous quest-giver.

Icaria: Although at this point it's basically a toss-up between shitty fairy diseases and "whole goddamn boat is fairies."

Icaria: Aaaaaand it's the second one.

Vance: The Intimacy can't be weakened by usual means, will drive her to act, and can hop on to others.

Vance: It doesn't actually usurp free will beside denying you the choice of inaction, though—you act as you normally would.

Icaria: Even though it would be fun to see a Limit Break.

Vance: You don't think that this is harmful to the subject in itself, but you don't really know what the end result is.

Vance: That's a different Charm.

Icaria: "Oh, yeah, I've seen this before," says Icaria, technically sort of correct.

Icaria: "I've got something on the boat that might help for a little while."

Svetlana: I'm having trouble conceptualizing this, because I'm tripping over a Defining Principle of relatively local facts and a Defining Principle that doesn't warp free will.

Icaria: You could think of it as a fact that you regard as obvious, much like "slavery bad, yo."

Vance: It does warp free will, because it takes away your ability to not act on this knowledge.

Vance: It just doesn't proscribe how you act.

Vance: It's Defining in strength because it's weird unnatural influence that's hooked into your mind.

Icaria: I presume it takes it away mostly in the sense of "do something or suck Limit," mechanically.

Vance: If you want to make a point of defying it, I guess.

  • Icaria considers what Svetlana's Limit Break would even be at this point. Probably some kind of obsessively-heroic audacity.

Svetlana: OK, so leaving aside what it does to me mechanically, what is it in-world? Overwhelming certainty in the facts plus overwhelming clarion call to action?

Vance: I think it's sort of like when your brain puts a really irrational priority on a task that doesn't merit it.

Icaria: Sort of like "I know the solution, and lives are on the line! What can I do but help?"

Vance: You have Defining-level certainty in the accuracy of your diagnosis and the clarity of the supporting memories.

Icaria: I mean, it's not really an irrational priority; it's just compelling her to implement an imaginary solution to an imaginary problem.

Vance: I don't think you consciously experience a compulsion until you start not acting.

Vance: But whatever you do will probably feel very "right".

Svetlana: OK. I'm having trouble envisioning a Defining-level certainty in anything factual but regular certainty plus a ton of stubbornness should be the same.

Vance: Not in the sense of "the correct course of action to treat the illness," but in a feeling of conviction.

Vance: Yeah.

Icaria: "Yeah, we have to do something about this. And I have just the solution. But, we'll need to hurry."

Icaria: What's my evaluation of the glamour levels of individual sailors?

Svetlana: Sorry for the confusion and slow reaction!

Vance: NP.

Vance: What do you mean by glamour level?

Icaria: Are these guys human victims, or are we surrounded by hungry bit parts?

Vance: They don't have any magic floating around them.

Vance: The digestive tract is built out of events.

Icaria: Sigh. I guess blowing up the boat from the inside is out of the question.

Icaria: …oh, wait.

Svetlana: "," Svetlana says. "Lord Dunne, I think it would be best to use the bear after all."

Icaria: Svetlana isn't affected by the organs.

Icaria: Because I did a sorcery to make that exact thing not happen!

Vance: Oh-ho!

Vance: So you did.

Icaria: We never blew out the last level of that.

Svetlana: But it fell to a Major Tie, which might not be competitive.

Vance: This is wonky shaping retroactive mind-warping influence, but influence nonetheless.

Icaria: I call upon the power of friendship!

Icaria: I allow the limitless knowledge of my diamond mind to flow through our bond as comrades, sluicing forth to dispel false theories!

Vance: The way it worked was that if one of you succeeded against the influence, all of you did, right?

Vance: So I guess I need Resolves.

Icaria: I think the rule was "it can't affect one of us unless it affects all of us," but yeah.

Icaria: I've got 5.

Svetlana: "Icaria, we need to get to the Dreaming Sea." Although perhaps this, itself, is just a dream…

Icaria: With a specialty in bad logic.

Icaria: So, 6.

Vance: Yeah.

Camena: 4 for me.

Icaria: I'll spend magic if I gotta.

Vance: It'd be good.

Icaria: I'll spend six personal motes, then, because I will not be wrong.

Icaria: EVER.

Zanara: I am so glad I am friends with y'all because my Resolve is 3.

Vance: Okey-dokey.

Icaria: I'm only good at one social thing but at least I have that.

Vance: Svetlana feels the memory-tendrils of whatever this is entering in to her mind, filling her with knowledge of a disease and an island and a quest, but then the wall of her bonds with her circlemates slams down on them, driving the intrusive motivation away. It settles for taking a bite out of the protective working, degrading the Intimacy down to minor.

Vance: Svetlana still has all that knowledge, but is aware that those memories aren't real.

Icaria: Wow, I should do apparently-pointless workings more often!

Icaria: Especially given that it turns out doing Celestial work is totes within my grasp.

Svetlana: Svetlana recoils from the patient, then bolts up the stairs, grabbing Icaria's hand on the way but just tugging him if he doesn't start running rather than letting him stop her.

Icaria: "Yeah, let's, uh, let's get that thing I mentioned."

Vance: Lord Dunne laughs heartily. "Leaving so soon? We can't be having that."

Svetlana: Svetlana shouts a Realm equivalent of "Hey, Rube!" the first time she hits an obstacle and can spare breath to.

Vance: Roll Wits + Athletics or Dodge to find a way out.

Svetlana: Svetlana completely ignores Lord Dunne because she is good at bolting. 7 successes, 2m.

Icaria: Three.

Svetlana: (Or 8 successes if Fleet of Foot counts.)

Vance: Svetlana manages to drag a somewhat hapless Icaria out of the sickbay, even as Lord Dunne lunges to snatch at her. She loses him down the twisting passageways of the belowdecks, but is left not entirely certain of where she is.

Vance: Did Zanara and Camena go down there?

Camena: Camena is still wandering around under the auspice of 7 successes looking for valuables

Vance: Oh right!

Vance: Well, now that you have uncovered some secrets, I will give you 7 successes worth of explanation OOC.

Vance: Assume this is the result of Camena and Icaria comparing notes

Svetlana: Svetlana heads towards the smell of water or the smell of Camena, if either of them is reaching her on an air current suggesting an open path. Otherwise she just heads towards the smell of water.

Zanara: Zanara probably stuck with Camena, if only to give her cover (and to be able to claim she's had more than the one drink)

Vance: The crew is lean and hungry—they've all been getting fed on. Not enough to soul-eat them entirely, although some of the sailors in the sickbay could well be soulless.

Vance: The ship is unique in its construction, even if you ignore the spiral staircase. You can't even begin to imagine how this thing was made.

Svetlana: Svetlana was planning to keep close enough to Icaria to at least track him by ear, rather than completely abandoning him, but the typing of the description of that plan was interrupted by the description of being in the twisting passageways, so fairy trickery may have led to a complete separation. Or he may be right next to her, it is unclear.

Vance: It is not a cargo vessel, but that doesn't mean it's without its treasures—Lord Dunne has some incredibly expensive taste in decor. Ceremonial swords dating back to the Shogunate hang crossed over his bed; platinum fixtures grace the ship's ballroom; a twenty-foot tall portrait of a one-eyed nobleman draws a gasp from your lungs at the quality of its brush strokes.

Vance: I assume Icaria's right with Svetlana, since she was pulling on him.

  • Camena contemplates whether or not the raksha might be willing to make her a Bag of Holding in order to better rob them.

Camena: I'm assuming we're all more or less gathered with a moment to regroup?

Vance: Well…

Vance: I assume Camena has an applicable Crime Intimacy?

Camena: Several!

Vance: Not taking the chance to do some art theft would probably give you Limit.

Camena: Oh, that is not a concern. Camena is not going anywhere. She very much intends to be here when Lord Dunne arrives.

Svetlana: (Also, I'm escalating my Intimacy of hating Crimes That Didn't Actually Happen.)

Vance: Ding!

Camena: With the mark of the Eclipse right on her brow.

Vance: Well, he can hardly resist an invitation to something that dramatic.

Vance: Do folks want to regroup before confronting him?

  • Camena folds her arms behind her and turns to face the painting, all so she can do a dramatic turn-around caste mark reveal when he arrives.

Vance: Svetlana can probably find her way to you by smell.

Svetlana: Svetlana would love nothing more than to regroup, although she must first spend ten minutes running through passages found in the BBC studio.

Vance: Some pirates probably get beaten down in the process.

Vance: (All sailors become pirates once revealed to be evil.)

Icaria: "Fucking hell," says Icaria, incensed beyond measure, once he actually gets a chance to breathe. "I really do hate fairies."

Icaria: "It's like if exposition were evil."

Vance: (That sounds like an Intimacy.)

Svetlana: "They're fairies?" Svetlana says. "That's going to keep me up all night."

Icaria: Yeah, it honestly makes more sense than the one I had for hating ghosts.

Icaria: Icaria wants people to explain their deal in an orderly way and behave in dramatically-appropriate fashion.

Icaria: And fairies do that but there's no inner truth to it.

Svetlana: "I thought they were bad things subcategory d: miscellaneous, which makes less sense though it is more orderly."

Icaria: They're the junk food of drama.

Icaria: "Well, I'd have to dissect one to be sure, but this kind of self-generating dilemma is classic raksha work."

Icaria: "Also I'm not sure how many people here are or are not fairies, or if it's just an evil raksha boat or something."

Svetlana: Svetlana kicks the boat, and then says, "I think Camena's just up ahead, anyway."

Camena: "Just our luck, eh, Zan?"

Vance: You regroup in the atrium outside of the master bedroom. There's a fountain and some flowerbeds planted around it.

Zanara: "We do seem to attract this sort of thing, don't we?" she says, sighing.

Camena: "I suppose it is within a Solar's nature?"

Vance: The ceiling of the chamber is painted sky blue with streaks of cloud, but it's not like Hogwarts or anything

Camena: "You'll like this, though. I'm about to finally try a bit of righteousness myself."

Svetlana: "Guys," Svetlana says. "Bad boat. Fairies. Sounds like you know, though."

Zanara: "I knew you had it in you," Zanara says, smiling.

Vance: After a pause sufficiently long to gather yourselves, invoke scene-long Charms, and share information, Lord Burnham Dunne appears.

Camena: "Oh don't get too glorious in your gloating," Camena says with a smile. "Most of it will at least be a lie."

Icaria: Skin of… no, that won't do.

Icaria: I'm summoning my nimbus nearby in case I might need it.

Icaria: Oh, god, a pun name.

Icaria: I should have known!


Camena: Pun?

Icaria: (The benefit of reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is that 'fairy' never sounds ridiculous or unscary again.)

Icaria: Burn 'em down.

Camena: It's actually a Shakespeare thing.

Camena: Burnam Wood marches to Dunnsinaene.

Camena: But yeah, there's that too.

Vance: He walks differently, now. His arms reach down near to the floor, swollen with thick cords of muscles and backwards-bending. The weight of him is gone, cast off in the form of glistering metal feathers that orbit around him. His eyes are gone strange, with many pupils staring out accusingly from them, and his beard is the ice of frozen time. "Come, my sweet persistent friends. Let me explain my motives and history in a straightforward manner."

Icaria: "Oh, my god, he's evil."

Icaria: "No wonder I never wanted to sleep with him."

  • Camena pivots to face him, the mark of the Eclipse on her brow and a thin aura of golden light playing across her skin.

Camena: "Yes, I think that might be the best and most appropriate way to begin to honor the pacts our kin made so very, very long ago."

Vance: "I see. The Chosen of the Sun! I had heard stories of your return, but I am a skeptical faerie. It was not until I saw you, Zanara, that I dared to dream that I might see your delicious golden light again."

Camena: "Less flattery, more chattery."

  • Icaria hears Dunne spelling the word wrong and grinds his teeth.

Svetlana: "We should probably burn the boat and salt the sea so it can never grow again," Svetlana opines.

Camena: "The sea has salt enough, cousin, but a fine thought besides."

Vance: "I am, as you have most likely gathered, a faerie prince of the Winter Folk. Once, I ruled over my freehold as its true monarch, one with the land and with my people, infinitely just and infinitely tyrannical."

Camena: "Gods above, this waxes expositional and I don't even know why I thought it might go differently," Camena says, flat as the horizon.

  • Icaria staggers a bit as the fairy throws out internally paradoxical and meaningless self-description.

Camena: Does this kind of spiritual assault on poor Icaria count as a violation of Eclipse peace? :stuck_out_tongue:

Vance: "Oh, the glories of my reign. I captured the egg of souls from the Siege Revolving and fastened into a shining cask in which I might keep the most delicious dreams. My cataphractoi trampled over rival tribes of madness, etching the image of empire onto the Wyld. Merchant princes sold us their greatest treasures for handfuls of leaves and albatross droppings."

Svetlana: "…wait, that's why it tastes likes that?" Svetlana says, coming to a sudden understanding about the sea. "But that's staggeringly expensive. I think it makes stuff up, cousin, so you should probably ignore all this bibble-babble."

Camena: "Can we put a pin in your, no doubt, skillful recollection of your sordid reign and turn to the present? We are not all immortal."

Vance: "But of course, I was betrayed. My traitor-cousin seduced my limbs away from me until I was nothing but a head, and stole my crown for his own. Now he sends my shining knights onto dreary prosaic battlefields to drag back human souls by the throng, and begs for the slaves the merchant princes bring. It is all very much fallen into ruin and disrepair, for his rule is one of infinite folly and infinite failure."

Camena: "Of course not. Go on then."

Vance: "And now I bring this tale to its point—I seek out heroes! The warriors and sages and tricksters of Creation, mortal but bold, to come with me and reclaim what is rightfully mine."

Vance: Would people like to bolster their Resolves against the plot hook?

Icaria: I am calling upon my Intimacy of "Goddammit I hate fairies."

Vance: The plot hooks don't engage with Intimacies. Like Hypnotic Tongue Technique.

Camena: Camena sits at 6.

Icaria: Then I shall spend a Willpower and four motes, for 8.

Icaria: And also I Join Battle.

Camena: Nooooooooo!

Svetlana: I have no practical means of bolstering my Resolve, so 3.

Camena: No Joining Gosh-darned Battle!

Zanara: Sans intimacies or other forms of intervention, 3 here as well.

Icaria: We're under magical assault!

Camena: Wouldn't mental coercion of this sort violate Eclipse peace?

Vance: The anima power prohibits attacks and inhospitality.

Vance: I'm unsure, though willing to debate, whether this is an attack.

Vance: The main reason I think it's not is that it does not cause any actual harm.

Camena: I'd say normal influence isn't, but you literally described this as akin to Hypnotic Tongue Technique.

Camena: It bypasses the usual social system, suggesting that it is every bit as much a warping, changing, twisting power as shaping is.

Vance: Conceded.

Vance: It's definitely storytime shaping.

Vance: And harmful shaping would definitely be a truce violation.

Svetlana: I think that cutting off his arm and calling it a helpful medical procedure would still be a violation of truce.

Svetlana: Probably clinching him and forcibly trimming his beard would be the same, and this seems to be in between.

Vance: Would "this raksha is rules lawyering the Eclipse oaths really hard to get away with this by forcing people to spring the trap on themselves" be an acceptable answer for y'all?

Icaria: It's pretty heavily against the spirit of the law.

Camena: D'accord w/Rand.

Icaria: Like, if the trap was inside an incredibly desirable object d'art, that's one thing!

Icaria: I mean, I'm open to a solution to the problem, but it seems like this makes the Eclipse protections pretty toothless.

Vance: Well, that is a majority.

Icaria: Although, the problem kind of persists regardless if we actually want to rescue the sailors.

Icaria: We probably have to attack him if we want to do that.

Svetlana: Svetlana did not continue running until she reached the deck or immediately attack because she trusted Camena, Camena presumably trusted the Eclipse stuff because it's supposed to be darn solid.

Vance: Which means this guy has broken Eclipse truce. Oh dear.

Camena: I think that's not notionally possible for them to do, but it does get into weirdness.

Vance: Camena's anima flares iconic, and she speaks the law of the Unconquered Sun in her voice.

Camena: I'm okay with this.

Vance: It sounds like thunder and the dawn.

Camena: Is it as terrible as the morning and the night?

Svetlana: (The other alternative is that we somehow gave just cause, e.g. because Camena's boat has attacked this one while we were in here or something.)

Vance: You cannot discern words in the glory that fulminates from her mouth, but her meaning strikes clean through the false semblance of selfhood that calls itself Lord Burnham Dunne, whose true name that is not, and he is made afraid.

Vance: Howling in anguish, he cowers as the light casts him into shadows before finally dispersing. "That's not fair," he shouts. "I tricked you into doing it of your own accord! It's not my fault you walked into my maw!"

Icaria: "It kind of is."

Vance: He is at the least as fucked over as someone who broke a bound oath.

Camena: "Well, then. Someone really should have made us a better offer."

Vance: "Then let me make you one," the raksha says, reconstituting the pleasing aesthetics of its corporeality with an effort of will. "My story was true, and I seek to the aid of heroes. If you were to aid me, I will offer you the service of my cataphracts in the liberation of Gloam. I swear it on the mask and the arc."

Svetlana: "Which story is supposed to have been true?" Svetlana asks Icaria quietly.

Camena: "And are those the appropriate things by which to swear in earnest and in good faith?" Camena asks, a shot in the dark.

Vance: "You need not bind my words, Lawgiver. Those of my kind are unable to break a promise."

Camena: "Not what I asked."

Icaria: "True in the very technical sense," Icaria notes.

Vance: "A tribe of madness that cannot break an oath have no understanding of swearing a vow in bad faith. But to those of the slaves that perish, like you, that is an accurate statement."

Camena: "You know, were I you, I might not be concerned with any of us doing some perishing. It seems like long odds on that, at least today."

Icaria: "Yeah, the thing is, if I wanted an army of imperfectly trustworthy spirits, I'd just make one."

Camena: "The Twilight scores a valid point."

Vance: "You are a fine summoner, Icaria. Most clever, binding a huraka to sail the sea without wind. But I was the one who took the wind away. Once I have drawn my power back from the freehold and reclaim my true title, I will be even greater. My hosts ride with my power, and is great enough to contend even with those of your Celestial light, prove themselves puissant in ways you would never have imagined."

Vance: This is a straightforward, ordinary instill roll.

Icaria: I straightforwardly hate fairies.

Vance: The context of the Tie he wants to inspire in you is that he's powerful and useful.

Vance: Does your hatred contradict that?

Vance: also, do Svetlana and Zanara have Intimacies that could raise their Resolve against this?

Icaria: It definitely does.

Vance: K.

Icaria: Fairies are bad because they're inherently false and unpredictable.

Icaria: I can't make use of them because there's no truth there.

Zanara: I straightforwardly hate slavers and he's brought it up at least three times by now.

Vance: I think he was very specific about it being his cousin who deals with slavers, not him.

Icaria: He's got dudes in the basement.

Svetlana: Based on what I know about this guy, I'm gonna go with "I despise the theater," but I'm OK with getting a Minor bonus instead of a Major one.

Vance: Despising the theater sounds extremely valid.

Vance: There's no indication any of his crew are slaves.

Icaria: They're down in the hold suffering from weird illnesses and having their souls nibbled. It's close enough.

Zanara: And what do powerful raksha do? Buy slaves, eat their souls, and sell them back at a discount. This jerk wants the high life back, that's all.

Vance: A false prejudice in this case, but that doesn't stop it from boosting your Resolve!

Svetlana: That'll take Svetlana's Resolve to 6, then, if Major adds +3.

Vance: You all resist his insinuations, and the impinging web of destiny that underlies them.

Icaria: "Nah."

Icaria: "Anyway, I think we'll be going, and we'll be taking your soul-sick sailors with us. They're in need of medical treatment."

Icaria: "Albeit not the kind you suggested."

Camena: "And the painting," Camena adds. "Reparations."

Vance: The raksha snarls, but knows it is helpless to act against you without incurring the wrath of heaven.

Vance: "Look, if you're going to go through with the mystery disease quest, would you at least let me glean some of the sustenance from it?"

Vance: "…and the fencing my treasure quest."

Svetlana: "Hey," Svetlana says. There's a note of sincerity in her voice. "Do you, ah, I mean, besides stuff like power, do you have any redeeming qualities that justify your, you know, existing?"

Vance: "My dear Svetlana, I have made Creation a place in which a daring soul may find there way aboard a pirate ship whose doctor is a baboon. I will admit that it is no high art, but isn't the world just a little better for the absurdity of it?"

  • Camena walks over to Dunne, her look about as good as cold iron.

Camena: "So guess what you get to promise me now?"

Vance: "I am no famine-stricken peasant to be strongarmed into a contract. You may hide behind truce, but you cannot strike at me without breaking that."

Svetlana: "That's letting the means usurp the ends," Svetlana mutters.

Camena: "Oh, honey. Do you think the curse is done with you? A little bit of sizzle and dusting and we're cool?"

Vance: "Nor will I permit you to take any sailor away. I am the ship's captain, and I maintain certain privileges by that authority."

Vance: "A curse offers you no leverage unless you have the power to retract it. I had heard that no one could escape a broken oath sworn before one of your Caste, no matter what."

Svetlana: "Listen," Svetlana says, with enough passion in her voice to attempt an instill of her own. "Art is truth. Art comes from truth."

Vance: Roll it.

Camena: "But this is no oath, good lord. At least, not the one you're speaking of. If I'd bound the two of us by wit and will, you'd be just right."

Icaria: Preach it, sister!

Svetlana: Svetlana botches.

Vance: Oh, yikes.

Svetlana: I admittedly rolled the worst possible pool for it. I was going to roll both possible pools and ask, but, y'know, that was so appropriate, so I stopped at Charisma + Presence.

Vance: "Your words remind me of a great faerie philosopher, Hurling Wheel of the Heavens. They taught that the truth of Creation was the art of the Makers, imposed on the Wyld against its will. Your truth and your beauty is built from the suffering of falsehood."

Vance: "Did you know? That existence is itself a sin?"

Icaria: "People are constantly telling me that, yes."

Svetlana: "Mm," Svetlana admits.

Zanara: "How can existence be a sin?" Zanara says. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

Camena: "As long as they're the right sins. Wrong sins? The fun ones."

Svetlana: "Though, in fairness, nonexistence isn't hardly a nothing to brag about neither."

Vance: "But it is not the sin of the slaves that perish. The fault for Creation lies solely on the many-headed Ancients, the enemies that your gods chose you to defeat. Their wicked hands made a wicked world."

Svetlana: "I'm sorry, Icaria," Svetlana says.

Icaria: "Look, you're probably correct about having been wronged in some ancient and complicated way, but it's difficult for me to judge that in this context and you're hurting people now."

Vance: "They forced the truth of the linear and the irreversible upon the tribes of madness."

Icaria: "So, you know. I'm going to start carrying people to safety. You can try to stop me if you like."

Vance: "Wait, I'm hurting people?"

Icaria: "Don't think I can't tell if someone's been soul-nibbled!"

Icaria: "I'm a librarian."

Vance: "Oh, for the love of… Ygain, Estrijan," he says, picking out two of the sailors who have crowded around to watch this showdown. "Have I ever 'nibbled' on your souls without your permission?"

Vance: "Nope, Captain. Once a week, after dinner, just like we always do."

Vance: "Yeah, it's great."

Icaria: "…I can't cope with these weird ethics. Forward, somebody else."

Vance: "The barbarians of the North make such bargains with the Winter Folk. They let us taste of their dreams in exchange for, well, all manner of needful things. They tattoo their skin, to show us that we may approach them and bargain."

Vance: "My crew continues the practice abroad."


Vance: Would you like to strengthen your hatred for raksha?

  • Camena pinches the bridge of her nose.

Icaria: I won't give him the satisfaction!

Icaria: Like, literally, he'll just eat it.

Icaria: Also going higher than Major feels wrong.

Vance: Oh, I thought it was Minor.

Camena: "Fine, fine. Let's talk terms. Or let's talk talking terms. A promise of good faith between you and me when the both of us return to Gloam; we'll hear the whole of your plight and either part in peace or join you in common cause."

Camena: "Will that suffice?"

Icaria: "This is a terrible idea."

Camena: Camena resists adding: you expository, soul-slurping dingus.

Svetlana: "I don't want to hear the whole of his plight. I am not immortal."

Camena: "Point to my cousin. A reasonable summation of your plight."

Vance: "I would be willing, Captain, but I'm afraid the journey I've charted won't be bring us back to Gloam."

Zanara: "I don't particularly care for the plight of a beast that eats souls, even if his victims are so foolish as to barter something inviolable for mere trinkets."

Vance: "I sail now to reclaim my throne."

Camena: "Hardly inviolable," Camena says under her breath, not sure whether or not she wants Zanara to hear. "And we sail now to do other things, and fulfill other oaths."

Icaria: "It's been a serious annoyance. Don't do anything that would make me decide to stop ignoring you."

Icaria: "Goodbye."

Vance: "If you wish to ensure we meet again, you could take up one of my quests. Bring one of the infirm aboard, steal a bauble, whatever catches your fancy. I will be able to bring us back together the same way I arranged for us to meet today."


  • Camean was about to steal the painting.

Icaria: That's how they get you, Camena.

Icaria: That's how they get you.

Svetlana: "I'm reluctantly impressed by the management of the soul-eating," Svetlana says, "to be honest, but I also consider it extremely magnanimous of me not to urge your fiery destruction after you tried to trap and apparently eat me? I'm not completely sure."

Camena: "I don't know how, but I suspect that our fate-y friend is either involved, or laughing at me from very far away, and either way, he really needs to start loving something else that I can burn to the ground."

Camena: "Does the quest-binding thing still happen if you give me the painting?"

Vance: "Has to be stolen. I can cover my eyes, if you'd like."

Camena: "No, no. I am saying. You give me the painting. You. Give me. The painting."

Vance: "Oh, alas. Under the duress of coercion by a Chosen of the Most High, I am compelled to hand over possession of the painting against my will," the raksha says, without a hint of irony.

Camena: "…I don't believe you."

Icaria: "Just… just let it go."

Vance: He frames the painting between his fingers, and smooshes, and the painting is made down into a size that he is able to easily hand off to you.

Camena: "…does this, in any way, endebt me to you or entangle me in your affairs?"

Vance: "It sure is a shame I lost that portrait in an art mugging. If anyone were hoping to fence it, well, there's someone in the Imperial City they should talk to."

  • Camena doesn't accept the painting.
  • Camena curses loudly and walks behind a conveniently placed shoju screen.
  • Camena emerges an instant later as an exact and perfect duplicate of Dunne.

Icaria: "Okay, we're letting it go. Seriously, that's what's happening."

Vance: "Not in the ways you might imagine. It gives me no power over you, nor does it incur any cost. I can arrange the scenery of the world and the course of events to a certain extent, with deft touches, but not in a fashion inconsistent with what you would have done."

  • Icaria begins trying to drag people out the door.

Vance: "And… it is a little bit like keeping livestock. But I promise, no eating."

Camena: "Reeeeeeal nice reputation you got here."

Camena: "Shame if something were to happen to it."

Icaria: "I will greenmaw-drag you off the boat if I have to!"

Icaria: "We can have a moistening contest."


Icaria: We all know you don't have an Athletics excellency!

Vance: "…that's actually an interesting threat," the Captain says. "Give me a pitch. How do you ruin me?"

  • Camean blinks in surprise.

Icaria: And Emeraude is a lady greenmaw, and… somebody help me out here?

Icaria: It's like smug assholes are her catnip.

Icaria: And getting you to burn down his office is his catnip.

Svetlana: (I so want to give this guy something for Vance's sake and want to be dragged out peacefully for Icaria's and my own.)

Svetlana: (So torn!)

Camena: "Well, I was imagining that I'd go around to the many and sundry courts, and mortgage my kingdom—my once and future kingdom," she adds with a flourish of her Dunne-limbs. "I don't know. Maybe for some money? Servants? Whatever. The prize doesn't matter. Only the debt."

Camena: "Or I could lose a hundred duels! Or be crowned the world's worst lover by Venus herself. I think we know a guy that knows a guy on that one?"

  • Camena might be losing perspective.

Vance: "Did your mother never tell you not to accept faerie gold? There is no finer counterfeiter than a raksha in debt!

Icaria: Vance can have a raksha lord who hates us.

Vance: "Disgracing me has potential—but I could just abandon this form for another!"

Icaria: I'm snapping my fingers to summon Emeraude and dragging Camena out by force.

Vance: This seems as good a time as any to call an end.

Vance: The raksha gains a Tie of "Camena (Kismesisitude)".

  • Icaria tries to think of a milieu-appropriate form of "don't feed the trolls" that he can yell over the curtain.

Icaria: Sorry, Camena, but it's for your own good.

  • Svetlana gains a point of Limit at some point.

Camena: "And I can do the same, a hundred hundred times, Dunne. I am a Lawgiver. I am a Crowned Sun. I am heir to all the Sun's law and glory and even his pettiness, and so help me I will devote the fire inside me to your ruination because I am still a very small woman, even blessed by great powers indeed."

Icaria: Agh, I can see him getting fatter!

Vance: Camena, could you make everything from "I am heir to the Sun's…" on an Intimacy?

Camena: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Icaria: Please imagine this conversation happening with the three of us vanishing into the distance while Camena yells her oaths of defiance.

Vance: Oh, yeah.

Vance: Maximum anime.

Camena: Oh, that was totally what I imagined.

Vance: She even found some bread to have hanging out of her mouth.

Icaria: You guys can't make me be the sensible one.

Icaria: That is the ultimate insult to my existence.

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