Saturday, August 16, 2014

Martyr King Character Chat 28

This is the character chat after session 28 of The Legacy of the Martyr King campaign.  It happened on the game wiki after the campaign session.  The GM wrote the dialogue of Emily and Carmine Gray, and the players wrote dialogue for their own characters.

- Castor -

"An interesting story, indeed. What have you learned about the soulstones? Have you recreated the process of creating them? Do you know how they were once made? What is the source of their power, and what accounts for their different flavors?"

- Emily Gray -
"What we view as reality is a tapestry of minute jumpgates leading to the six different elemental dimensions. The combination and type of jumpgate defines the object. Fire in our world is just a cluster of mini-portals to the Dimension of Flame. The ocean is a vast swath of portals to the Dimension of Water. In the Golden Age humans discovered they could use opal to force one of these jumpgates open. A soulstone is thus simply a mini-jumpgate to a elemental plane that has been forced open and enlarged - contained safely, and made harvestable. It is, of course, far more complex than that, but that is the basic gist.

"Although I have heard that the Narset peoples have recreated the formula for making Soulstones, we have not. And now, with the collapse of their civilization due to the earthquakes and the fact that they have been conquered by the Dorians, I'm afraid it is lost forever. However, we have gathered a reasonably large number of soulstones, over a thousand, for our own use."

- (Nut is unconscious) -
Nut rides hard, pushing Emre faster than an any emu should be able to maintain. He has to escape his unseen pursuer. He heels Johnny Bravo, king amongst horses, and the rider and mount leap out of the jungles of Karindora. "The plains of Breya," Nut thought- "now there's somewhere I can lose him." He pops another soulstone in the cart and shifts into high gear. The rearview mirror gives him a glimpse of the inevitable, and he can finally tell his stalker- Hervey, astride the Rock. And gaining quickly. Hervey draws his calamitous wand and begins to fire, shots that become Dwarven hands that seek to grab Nut. Nut leans low over Rihanna's reins- afraid, confused, helpless. Off to his left he can see a glowing throne, and knows that if only he could divert to it, he'd be safe- his mount swerves to avoid a small, lifeless body and carries Nut away from it forever. Hervey is within arm's length. Nut turns invisible, and leaps off Emre just as Hervey fires again.

Nut awakes, hands bound and invisible, on the floor of a prison cell.

- Castor -
The Reclaimer's explanation of the world was reasonable, if incomplete. It failed to account for the existence of Azriel and Demphiel. Or for the so-called gods who left their guardians to protect the opal weapons, and who struck down the earlier champions who'd won them.

"And in humanity's quest throughout the other planes of the 'multiverse', did it not meet other intelligent beings? All these planes, were they all empty?"

- Emily Gray -
Emily smiles sadly. "Contrary to all logic and reasoning, it appears that we were alone in the multiverse. We searched far and wide (the multi-verse is a large place), but found nothing that could begin to approximate intelligent life. Yes, we came across spores, bacteria, strange lifeforms in the abyss. But nothing that had evolved even to have a spine."

"This upset the ancients, as it upsets our theologians now. Why are we alone? Why did nobody else make it? Why are we so special? Perhaps once you reconnect the worlds, the other colonies of man will have answers."

- Castor -
"I see."

Regardless, there was some kind of powerful entity acting on behalf of a God of Light. Motivated by vengeance for a alleged usurpation of his power (the 16th king?). Fixated on killing the 'false martyrs', or -- apparently -- the descendants of Richard James.

"You said fifteen soulstones failed during the Cataclysm. I know of fourteen sites on Cain where such thinks likely occurred. Do you know all the sites?"

"And what do you know about the earthquakes?"

- Emily Gray -
Emily flushes slightly, a bit taken aback. "Fourteen? No, well ... I mean that's the number we have, but I thought...? Because you've actually traveled the world...?" She looks at Carmine, then back at Castor. "Well, I can only assume that your knowledge is as incomplete as ours. We know that 15 soulstones detonated, so there must be 15 splinter zones, or perhaps two splinter zones on top of one another."

"About the earthquakes, we can only assume they are of the Dorian's doings. And they have been growing in frequency and power for the past few months. We must stop the Dorians before they are able to complete whatever twisted plan they are concocting."

- Castor -
"Tell me about the descendants of Richard James. I assume each one didn't have a single male heir. What happened to the offspring that didn't become kings?"

- Emily Gray -
"They grew and prospered, and spread. James' line was not prolific, but they did have the occasional second or third child. Each contributed in his own way to humanity's rise. However, the Dorians have been systematically eliminating this line since about one thousand years ago. We believe that you four, in addition to Saffron and Remi, and the only Kings left."

- Castor -
"The Narset believe that each elemental plane has its own god. In fact, they attribute the actions of the Dorians and their growing power to the machinations of a God of Light. What do you know about these entities?"

- Emily Gray -
Emily laughs. "Oh, you don't believe those old wives' tales, do you? The God of Light? Azriel, Avatar of Light? He's nothing more than a story the Dorians have drummed up to scare the peasants. Oh sure, maybe there is some man who they dress up in phosphorescent clothes and stick fake wings to, but Angel? Don't make me laugh. There's no such thing!"

- Castor -
"Yes, of course."

"These other worlds, that we've been disconnected from. There's been no contact at all with them? All the portals are closed?"

- Emily Gray -
"Nothing that's quantifiable or sustained. There are rumors of course, of people slipping through the cracks every once in a while. We strongly believe that Martin Bard, the Elf who corrupted Remi, was from a separate plane. But we are unable to re-open any of the jumpgates without the blood of Richard James - your blood."

"Although, to be honest, every offworld jumpgate that we have found was destroyed - something during the Cataclysm must have cause that. However, there must be offworld jumpgates around still - we just haven't found them yet. Do you know of any?

- Castor -
Castor had come to similar conclusions about Martin Bard. He'd wanted to reconnect the worlds, using Remi and that red plant. Saffron had spoken once of a dream she'd had, of a world full of elves and red trees. Presumably Martin's homeworld, perhaps the homeworld of all the elves. Castor wondered where Bard was now. Perhaps Remi could tell them more about what he'd planned.

Castor was drawing other conclusions as well, but he still did not have the whole picture. He needed more information.

"I don't. The Orcs seem to have their own, smaller jumpgate network. But that one leads to Breya, and surely you're already aware of it."

"How many of these kings were there? You said the 16th discovered how to make soulstones. How many more generations were there before the Cataclysm? And what do you know about that last king?"

- Emily Gray -
Emily waves a hand. "The Orc jump-network, just like the Minaret jump-network are self contained. We do not believe they lead offworld. No, the Jumpgates we are looking for would likely be far larger than a door, as they would need to be able to account for inter-world trade and commerce."

"How many kings were there before the fall? Given the approximately 1900 year time frame, We speculate about 60. Only the first 20 or so are heavily chronicled. Of the so-called 'Martyr King,' we know very little. It appears he did little in his time to distinguish him, other than be witness to the collapse of his empire."

"Your group is something on the order of the 130th generation of kings. Which means that approximately 2 to the power of 130 of you is Richard James." She smiles sweetly. "Luckily we believe that the blood is impossible to dilute with baser men or even baser races, such as orcs and elves."

- Castor -
The Root of the World.
Where the ancient kings ruled from a grand fortress, with jumpgates to their many domains. Castor had learned that much from scraps of ancient documents he'd studied. Aymeric had seen such a place once, in a dream. While they were in Karindora.

"Tell me about yourselves. How long have the Reclaimers been here? How did this civilization start, and where does your information come from?"

- Emily Gray -
"Breya was lucky. There were a few cities that suffered the Catacylsm less than the others. For a hundred years or so we tried to live in the old ways, but it proved impossible. Eventually we moved out of the cities, away from flickering lights, faulty defense systems, and incomprehensible texts, and into the wilds."

"For a little over 800 years we thrived in the wilds, rebuilding our strength. Then, slowly, our ancestors rediscovered the cities. They began to relearn what had been lost. For the past eleven hundred years we have be reclaiming the cities, reclaiming our culture, and reclaiming our world. But it is ... difficult without a King to lead the way. Some of this "magic" only responds to his touch and the attempts without him are frustrating."

"We actually had a King about 600 years ago. We called him and his line the Silver Blood, for the Silver Age to echo the Golden one. But his line was murdered by the tribals. I believe you met them on the way. Those of us who refuse to move out of the wild. We don't believe the tribals had anything specific against the Kings - they just wanted to move on."

Emily smiles dreamily. "600 years without a King. And now we have four."

- Castor -
"Thank you for your answers, Emily Gray. They were very helpful. I'll have to think on where we learned here."

"I have two requests. One, do you have supplies and magical gear we could use or buy? We'll need all the help we can get."

"Second, I need to ask you to bring Nut back in. These discussions are too important for him not to be involved. He may one day be the only one of us left."

"I assure you he's not dangerous to you. He just.. does not like to be seen. And.. has issues. We're working on it. Keep him bound if you feel it necessary."

- Carmine Gray -
At the mention of Nut, Carmine speaks, and even Emily's brow darkens. "The King's blood has spoiled in the veins before, but it is disappointing to see it in person, and in our time. No, I do not believe that I will hazard to let that psychopath into the throne room again. You underestimate the depths of his depravity. And I dare say you will live to regret it."

Emily smiles meekly to soften Carmine's words, but it is clear she feels the same way.

Carmine continues. "Regarding supplies and magical items, I dare say I will not ransom my kingdom to guild the heroes of old. I see you've plundered the orc's empire, and you will not plunder my own. Whatever you want, you must buy." Emily shoots Carmine an angry glance, and the King rolls his eyes. "However, my darling wife insists that you not leave without some token from us. You may each have one soulstone of any color you like. Emily seems to think that they will be better used in your hands than powering our city or war machines. I disagree, but at least this I don't have to deal with the constant badgering."

"So, what soulstones would you each like? Speak up quickly, or I shall change my mind."

Emily, bright red at this point, does her best to smile.

- Castor -
Castor turns to look at the king.

"Tell me about the Kings with the spoiled blood."

- Carmine Gray -
Emily opens her mouth to speak, but Carmine continues. "Blood does not make a good ruler. Power can corrupt and confuse, and especially when that Power is unearned. Imagine a child raised knowing that they are special, knowing that they will one day lead humanity, in one way or another. That they have powers nobody else even dreams of. It is rare, but sometimes Kings are not all they should be."

"Certainly, these men and women are always great. But are they good? Are they kind? Are they just? Richard's blood is power, but it is up to the man how to use it."

- Avaryn -
In a way, it seems like Avaryn has just joined up with this strange band of travellers. Although they've come a long way since her initial meetings with the party, their mission and her role in it still seemed somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Avaryn was not one typically interested in politics. From her youth in Mildan, Avaryn had really learned little of gods, including this Martyr King that was the subject of so much talk. While there had existed myths and fables about some deities or other...she barely even remembered hearing them, let alone of their content. Being in a port city, perhaps she had a bit of an idea that different groups seemed to have ranging interest in all of this...Dorians had said the name "martyr King,' before, she thought. That was the strongest mental association she had.

But overall, she didn't care much. She could have asked her companions for sure, but they interested her little, in the be honest, she had hoped that her role and purpose in being sent alongside them would have been made much more evident by this point. Instead, she had witnessed some heroic fighting, family feuding, and seemingly random, delerious actions by her ninja companion, who she was more than certain was completely insane.

This young Jesse Prayer guy seemed to have some detailed worldview she had somewhat feigned interest least, when things got weird. He seemed to think that his version of this god, this Martyr King, had been connected to the creation of soulstones and jumpgates. Moderately interesting history, at best, until Jesse went to sample everyone's blood to activate the jumpgate. Everyone's blood...except Avaryn's. The soulstone was dark, just like her own energy, and so, had it not needed her blood?

Did this explain something about her otherworldly origins, Avaryn had to wonder. Was this somehow...relevant to her? Not only to her quest, but to her...existance? She wanted to shrug off such concerns as irrelevant, but she couldn't help but be haunted by her dreams of Cainan. He had taunted her, saying that she could not pass over into the light.

Avaryn couldn't let it go, try as she may. What was she? Were these jumpgates, soulstones, and the line of Richard James somehow part of her shrouded story? Her interest was no longer feigned. As sure as her and her unicorn's spirits pulsed with dark energy, this mythology was an integral piece in Avaryn's otherworldly nature, she was certain. These Reclaimers suddenly became invaluable to her, and she was desperate to learn more.

- Castor -
Castor's first inclination was to defy this king. To spit his disdain for them back in his face. He knew nothing of them. Of what they had been through.

But some of Carmine's words cut into him, in a way he had not expected. He realized something then. Something important.

"If you'll excuse me a moment, I need to discuss this with Nut. He deserves to hear what we've learned."

"And I've monopolized your attention anyway. I'm sure my companions have their own questions." He eyes Avaryn, who had been shifting nervously in his peripheral vision.

He turns and walks toward the door they led Nut through.

"Oh, and I'll take a dark soulstone."

- Emily Gray -
Emily motions to a guard, who brings over a dark soulstone and hands it to Castor. "Make good use of it."

"Would anybody else like a soulstone?"

- Castor -
Castor sips a brew that will let him see Nut when he's hiding before walking in the room. He needs to look him in his eyes.

Nut is face down on the floor, tied up. Castor takes a seat next to him.

"I knew a man once. Not the easiest man to like. Violent. Dangerous. But reliable. He lived by a code. You could trust him with your life. And I did."

"That man was my friend. And, more than either of us knew, my brother."

"I learned a lot today, Nut. And I understand some things that I didn't before. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know that everything hinges on us. On what we do. This will be our legacy."

"And so I need to know. Are you still that man? Because I could use his help right now. And if you're not, I need to know that too."

- Nut -
Nut looks up when Castor walks in. He connects eyes with his long time friend, and tries to evaluate whether he's currently invisible. The vanishing power seems to have stopped responding on command, instead responding more to feeling and emotion- most of the time Nut was unclear whether he could be seen. He sees a small pool of blood, sprouting from emptiness, and consciously probes himself to deduce that his wrists are cut from struggling with the manacles. When had the bleeding started? Why hadn't he tried the lockpick stashed in his belt? No matter, he'd remove them in due time. He realizes that Castor has been putting words into the air, catches "violent... dangerous... friend... brother... legacy" and infers that Castor must be giving a rousing battlespeech. "Hear hear!" Nut chimes, confident that his spirit must have been lifted by Castor's words.

Information was conveyed, about history, life, the world as we know it, and the future. Nut tries to wrap his head around the scientific miracle of magic. This, at least, seemed to sit well on his psyche- machines and devices had always been more palatable than mysticism. Nut wraps the Martyr King and the Dorians, the gods and the angels, souls and faith, all up in one neat bundle, categorized as "Antiquated". A king of old that saw his mechanical empire fall rung truer than a king of old who should be worshipped. Gods remain non-existent, angels become soulstone super-users. Soulstones become the pinnacle of a highly advanced society, a mere battery of great power and variety. This conclusion sat well with Nut, his fragile mind quite easily accepting and adapting to a new world view. He could remember first learning of the gods, but he'd never believed it... right? Probably. He could still not understand why the Dorians worshiped an obviously inferior king, but nothing had changed there.

The two converse at length, then Castor stands to leave, assuring Nut he's doing everything he can to ensure his release. Castor had obviously been holding something back, some bit of information that contains the key. Why were we so important? Why were we the false martyrs? Nut voices his concerns. Castor, hesitating, reveals the line of royal succession. "That explains our compatibility with the gates." Nut nods his head in understanding. "Royal blood, the right to rule over humanity, I should have guessed. But," he postulates, "who sits the throne when this is all over?"

Nut extricates the lockpick and begins removing his manacles. He whistles a few low notes, plans for a robe worthy of a king floating through his mind. He is no longer aware of Castor.

- Avaryn -
Avaryn nudged forward, seeing that everyone was eyeing her.

"Could I maybe ask for....a dark soulstone?"

Eyebrows were raised. Avaryn stared fixatedly at the ground, not one used to overt attention. She willed herself to speak at no one in particular, questions still nagging at her.

"You all seem to know a lot about soulstones and jumpgates and...all that. Have you ever heard of anyone being...affected by their use? Animals even...or people?"

- Emily Gray -
Emily motions to a guard, who brings over a dark soulstone and hands it to Avaryn. "Make good use of it."

"Regarding your condition ... it is unusual. Yes, animals are sometimes tainted by the splinter zones, but humans only rarely." Emily motions to a man, who brings over a small glass vial with a needle in the end. "We'd like to run some tests, if you don't mind."

- Avaryn -
Avaryn looked around at her companions anxiously. Were these people to be trusted?

She wanted to know, though. That desire for information overpowered her usual instincts for self-preservation. She had half a mind to offer up her unicorn for testing instead, no. This was the kind of opportunity she had been waiting for.
Swallowing deeply, she rolled up her armor to the elbow and presented her forearm to the hulking man. She looked away in silence.

- Emily Gray -
The man draws some blood, then leaves. "This may take a few days," admits Emily. "Do you have any other questions?"

The Inquisitor listened to Castor and Avaryn. Castor's questions had uncovered a lot, but Aymeric had questions of his own.

Nothing seemed right. He felt more confused about the world, his purpose, and the purpose of his comrades. His recent dream of seeing his parents staring over him in a flaming tent, then being brutally murdered by Chamberlain Forrest, the High Priest of the Order of the Inquisition, was a shock. It all seemed so...real. Aymeric felt that this was a deeply rooted memory. Aymeric began to try and work things out. If the Dorians wanted the line of Richard James dead, then why did High Priest Forrest change his mind and save Aymeric after slaying his parents? It was Forrest after all who hand picked Aymeric from the monastery to join the Order of the Inquisition.

One scenario played out in his head. Forrest, the High Priest of the Order, who was sent by the High Council of the Dorians to destroy the line of King James had discovered Aymeric's parents were part of the line. Following his orders, he killed them. But a higher power (perhaps the Reclaimers) sent a sign or some sort of message to Forrest that killing this infant would be disastrous to his faith and the world. So Forrest saved the child, brought him to the Cocori Islands and put him in the care of the monastery where one day Forrest returned and plucked Aymeric for the Order of the Inquisition.

Still, there were other scenarios. Perhaps Forrest was a Reclaimer Agent who infiltrated the Dorian Empire so that one day Aymeric would end up in this very spot. How did the Dorians find out that Aymeric and his comrades were of the line in the first place?

But it was time to speak up. "As you may know, I.....up until last year.....served the Dorian Empire as an Inquisitor. I sought those who would use Soulstones for evil purposes. What can you tell me about the Dorian Empire and how they fit into your story? What is their goal in all this? Also, do you know of one named Forrest Chamberlain?"

"And to answer your question, I wish for a Fire Soulstone."

And as he waited for the answer, Aymeric focused his uncanny ability to sense the motive of Emily and Carmine. Things were not always what they seemed.

- Emily Gray -
Emily nods to a guard, who brings Aymeric a red Soulstone. "The Dorias are just another power-hungry empire, like the Narset before them. They will fall in time, but it would be best if we hastened their demise and did not allow them to reach our shores. We have plans, involving you five, which may end the threat for good. As to you, young inquisitor, they are masters of deception and propaganda. I am sorry that you fell under their sway."

Aymeric carefully studies her speach, eyes, skin - there seems to be nothing amiss. She is holding nothing back, it seems.

"I am not sure who this Forrest Chamberlain is, though the name sounds familiar."

"If I may," Jesse Prayer jumps in "your highnesses. I believe Forrest Chaimberlain was a High Inquisitor a few years back. He's moved onto more bureaucratic pastimes of late however, and my spies tell me he is currently stationed in Kathmar. If I may be so bold, why do you ask?"

- Castor -
"I too would like to hear what you know of the Dorians." Castor says upon returning to the throne room.

He pulls out the multi-colored glass cube they'd found long ago. "As well as what you know about this."

- Emily Gray -
Emily almost squeals in delight. "A Seeing Cube! Oh Carmine, how wonderful! Our last one broke in a round of experiments when I was a child, and we have not located a new one since. These Cubes, which belonged to some minor cult in the Golden Age, allow the viewer to see the elemental threads in objects. They are fascinating things, and fun besides!" Emily clears her throat, and tries to regain her composure. "We'd love to borrow it, if we may?"

- Castor -
"Ah, so you've seen such things before. Maybe you can tell me why the descendants of Richard James contain white elemental threads, and what that means. See for yourself."

Castor hands over the cube, as well as the seventh side.

- Emily Gray -
"Unfortunately, we don't know why you appear to contain white threads. There is no 'white' element as far as we can tell, but we do know that only 'Kings' have these threads."

- Castor -
This 'white' element source -- what Maven would call the Old Man -- the Reclaimers have no knowledge of it. I wonder why.

"How will you oppose the Dorians if they reach your shores? Do you know of their soulstone-driven war machines? Do you have such things to match? Do you know what kind of capabilities they have?"

- Emily Gray -
"If the Dorians reach our shores, or cross the Breya-Krass tundra, then we are lost. We could never hope to meet their army in open battle. Our forces are strong, but not one hundredth of the size of the Dorian's."

Emily smiles and leans forward. "No, we have a much more devious plan. Kathdoria may be the religious center of Doria, but Kathmar is the political and military head of the snake. If we were to destroy or occupy Kathmar, the vast Dorian Empire would fall to pieces. The rebel factions, including the Kaimai, Narset, Mildan, and even Madran and Cocori, would quickly overwhelm the empire."

"And how do we propose to send our small army into Kathmar?" Emily's smile broadens. "You have three guesses."

- Maven -
Quite rudely, Maven has only been half-listening as he considers which soulstone to request. At long length, he nods and taps twice upon the red stone already in his Orcish crown.

"By boat?" he guesses tentatively.

- Emily Gray -
A guard brings Maven a red soulstone, while Emily shakes her head and lifts one finger, to signify the number of guesses. "No, our method is far more direct. Would you like a clue? We can only do it with your help - that is, the help of Kings."

- Castor -
Castor chuckles. "Clearly she's talking about a flying ship. One piloted by Patrick, which he crashes immediately. He'll probably be really excited about that. He's never destroyed a flying ship before."

"But that seems unnecessarily complicated. Let's just use the jumpgates."

- Emily Gray -
Emily points at Castor. "Bingo. We need you to sneak into the Charcoal Minaret, and activate the jumpgate to let our army through. Once through, our army will have no trouble occupying and holding the currently under guarded capital - as well as killing everybody in charge. It will mean the end of the war. Funny nations can fall if a handful of people die, and a different handful takes their place."

"Sound easy? It won't be. The Charcoal Minaret complex is one of the most heavily guarded installations in the world. You will need a good plan."

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