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The story thus far...
You are Mordragon, a suit of living armour wandering the lands. Previously, you have proved your worth to a spirit by defeating him in single combat, looted an asp temple, deduced the location of the last Winged Valley, learned the basics of magic and assembled a party to disrupt the plans of the Silver Eye necromancers. After repelling a dire wolf attack and escaping a horde of undead, you continue your journey towards the mountains...

In your inventory there is:
157 coins
The books: "Fundamentals of Arcane Transformations" (read), "Common Elemental Magic", "Armour Enchantment", "Alchemist's Handbook", "Common History", "Animated Constructs"
Wooden tablet of fear (uncharged)
Alchemist guild crest
Mana Potion
Protective amulet shaped like an eagle's head
Recharging Sol Gauntlet (1 use/day)
Silver coin with 2 circles engraved on each side
Magical poisonous snake necklace
Scout disc (operated by Diodorus)

Previous threads: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Living%20Armour%20Quest

--------------------

You ride quickly for a while, making sure the undead are well behind before slowing down to your regular pace. Looking forward, you see the mountains looming in the distance; the Darkwood part of your journey is soon to end. However, before you reach them, there is one more night to be spent among the trees, vigilant against the threats that the accursed forest may send your way. Your party is thankful to you in this regard; as a living armour, you have no need for sleep and can maintain watch for the entire night.

You note that sometimes Gwyndolin, the former necromancer and ranger of the party, stays up late to read one of the books he brought with himself, a simple orb of light illuminating the pages. You exchange a few words with him over the nights he spends awake. He's calm and quiet, depressed when you bring up his past, parts of which connected to necromancy he refuses to share. Apparently, he was born into a woodsman's family, where he learned his trade. He still enjoys working with nature, spending time in the wild. On an occasional night, Eos also tries to shake him out of his loneliness, but her efforts are met with distant disinterest. Still, both of you try to breach the wall of solitude that surrounds him, and over time, Gwyndolin comes to accept it.
>>
>>5203611
You make a brief stop at a mining town connected by river to the shore cities of Neruem. It is your last respite before crossing the Near Mountains, a light of civilization and gregariousness amid the Darkwood. You contribute 20 coins towards restocking supplies, and once this is done, you begin making your way through the winding mountain passes and valleys nestled between snag ridges. The cold of late autumn is felt more sharply high in the mountains; the chill winds are blowing hard, and those of you that are subject to the weather's whims (which is basically everyone except you and Eos) wrap warm cloaks around themselves tightly. You're taking a less-known path, since Diodorus advised that the main one to the east is frequented by bandits of all kinds, in spite of dwarven patrols. However, the Mage of Tefar shows a sign to stop one day, looking with a frown at the Scout Disc. It seems you can't escape danger even here.
"Trolls." -- he explains briefly.
"Will we have to fight?" -- one of the knights asks.
"Possibly. They are barbaric, but not outright evil; we may be able to negotiate access through the pass. Then again, there will almost certainly be a price."
"Are there a lot of them? We may indeed be able to best them in battle." -- Irithyll, the head knight, asks.
"About a dozen, but they're large and powerful; it'll probably take two of us to take one down."
"My magic will see us through. I can cast an invisibility spell." -- Folqitun replies confidently.
"Invisibility is good, but they could still find us by the footprints appearing seemingly out of nowhere. It's a gamble whether they'll notice us." -- Eos doubts the solution.
"We could take a detour and go through the more well-known pass, but it'd take us through the Darkwood again, and that's bound to bring trouble, not to mention the lost time." -- Diodorus responds. -- "Seems it's your call again, Mordragon."
>"Let's see if we can negotiate access."
>"Invisibility sounds good."
>"It may take longer, but let's go through the eastern pass."
>Write-in
>>
>>5203616
>"Let's see if we can negotiate access."
>"Invisibility sounds good."
One of us to negotiate, while the rest sneaks by, ready for surprise attack if necessary.
>>
>>5203616
>>"Let's see if we can negotiate access."
>>"Invisibility sounds good."
>>
>>5203616
>"Let's see if we can negotiate access."
>"Invisibility sounds good."
>>
>One of us to negotiate, while the rest sneaks by, ready for surprise attack if necessary.
(I assume that's what the other anons meant with their votes as well)
Roll 1d100 Bo3 DC: 40
>>
Rolled 22 (1d100)

>>5204339
>>
Rolled 49 (1d100)

>>5204339
>>
Rolled 10 (1d100)

>>
>49 - Success
"I will distract them by negotiating while you move through the valley under the veil of invisibility." -- you announce your decision.
"I'll start preparing my magic, then." -- Folqitun answers, and starts to cast, already concealing other party members one by one.
You ride ahead. The trolls are as you remember them from back when you were still unconscious and subservient to the king. They stand 4 to 6 metres tall, with thick, gray skin covering robust bodies. They wear sheepskins as cloth and carry simple weaponry like clubs and large slings. One good hit from these and you'd be crashed into a ball of iron parts instead of an armour.

The trolls notice you, and spread out, making sure you can't ride quickly past them. They talk between themselves in a deep, coarse tongue. One of them steps forward once you reach their perimeter, and addresses you in broken Shoretongue.
"Stop. Who you?"
"I am Mordragon, a suit of living armour. I seek to pass through this valley, if this is okay with you."
"No. You pay price. We let you go through. This how it will be."
"What is this price, then?" -- you ask, noting that the trolls have approached you in a vague semicircle.
"Hmm..." -- the troll thinks for a minute, then talks to his tribestrolls in their language. That's good -- their speech conceals the movement of your companions behind their backs, as is evident by the hoofprints appearing not far from here.
"You give horse for snack. We let you go." -- the troll announces.
"Is there room for negotiation?" -- you ask, trying to prolong the discussion. -- "I could give you my gold, or some of my weaponry."
The trolls start talking between themselves once more, looking once in a while at your mace and sword.
"Weapons too small for us. Gold no use. We don't trade. Give horse."
"I'm an adept dancer, maybe I could teach you in exchange for passage?.."
You keep making pointless suggestions for some more time, while your party members cross the valley and leave once out of sight. In the end, the trolls let you return, not taking your steed, though they very well could, "because we in good mood". You find Folqitun waiting for you at the starting point. His forehead is wet with sweat. Providing invisibility to over a score of people seems to take its toll on endurance. You pass through the valley quietly, two horses making few enough sounds to remain concealed from the troll tribe.
>>
>>5205617
You journey forth. The mountains slowly grow low, and montane, then regular forests cover your way: you are in the Wildlands beyond the Near Mountains now. Soon enough, you find a trail through the cold woods and, after a few days of travelling along it, find a town. Stopping here to restock the supplies and ask around for directions, a combination of Diodorus' knowledge and local wisdom offers you three ways in which to proceed.

The first, western path will take you through the forests to the coast. The wildlanders say there has been a surge of magical energy there, which could spell both ill and good fortune for your expedition. The southern way will last the longest, and take you through lands of persevering people occasionally repelling demonic invasions from portals opening there. You could probably recruit half-demon warriors in that territory; now that you assess the party, it may be of insufficient number to defeat the whole Silver Eye, which could very well convene if the event described in the encoded paper is important enough. The third, and most direct way, is to go through the Deathbog. It would probably take a beastman guide to see you through, but the Swamptown, sitting in the middle of the namesake, is famous for fearless adventurers, which could, once again, be useful in growing your party.
>Go the western route, through the woods and along the coast. See what wild magic offers you.
>Go the southern route, through dangerous lands occasionally invaded by demons.
>Go the straight route, through the Deathbog and Swamptown.
>Write-in
>>
>>5205621
>>Go the southern route, through dangerous lands occasionally invaded by demons.
>>
>>5205621
>>Go the western route, through the woods and along the coast. See what wild magic offers you.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

1 - Southern route
2 - Western route
>>
>Go the southern route, through dangerous lands occasionally invaded by demons.
Your party stays at numerous inns for a few days, enjoying the pleasures of civilization before going forth into the wilderness, yet eventually you continue your journey, turning south. The wildlanders advised you to keep to the road, for strange creatures lurk in the hilly forest surrounding you. As you advance, it only grows denser, and the villages fewer. One day, you notice something crunching under your steed's hooves. At first, it seems almost like snow, but upon closer inspection it's white ash, falling slowly from the gray sky. Patches of ash end as quickly as they began appearing, leaving you questioning what exactly that was.

You find a village here, the first in many kilometres you've covered. Making a stop in it for the day, you ask the locals about the ash and find out it is a holy forest to them, forest of the Burnt God; the Ashen God.
"Didn't think we'd find the dead gods' cultists here. Though I guess the Wildlands if anywhere should house this strange folk." -- Diodorus remarks once you learn of the local faith.
"Who are they?" -- you ask.
"Ah, I thought you wouldn't know. It's in the name, basically. There is an array of "dead" gods around the world. They were killed for some reason, yet kept living in a way after their death. These people worship them, and occasionally commit ritual suicide to emulate them, sometimes getting something in return. That's about it. I'd say we better leave the locals to their own devices and get back on the road quickly."

You learn there is a shrine in the holy forest, though nobody knows exactly where it is. "Keep seeking and you'll find it." -- is the best answer you got.
>Leave this place quickly, as Diodorus advised.
>Seek the Shrine
>Write-in
>>
>>5207742
>>Seek the Shrine
>>
>>5207742
>>Seek the Shrine
>>
>Seek the Shrine
For such a grim religion, the villagers seem paradoxically welcoming, gregarious, if not particularly lively.
"How can you be so open and warm when you worship such a morose deity?" -- you ask the village elder.
"Why wouldn't we be? Faith isn't enveloping everything in our lives. Besides, dying doesn't mean becoming full of gloom, sorrow, or vindictiveness, so your presumption that the Burnt God is dark and ominous, or whatever, may be erroneous."
"So your god could be as kind as you folk are?"
"Could. Or could be as grim as most' impression of him is. You won't find out until you talk to him. He favours us, so I can say he is benevolent to his followers at least."

You decide to seek the Shrine. Most in your party aren't enthusiastic to stay for longer than necessary, but agree to wait for you in the village. Gwyndolin asks to go with you, curious of this strange faith as well. At dawn, you depart, returning to the road and backtracking a bit to where patches of ash begin appearing. Then, you dive into the woods.

As you walk, not really knowing where, the ash on the ground thickens. It quickly rises up to your ankle. While this does impede your progress somewhat, the footprints are clearly visible and can be retraced back to the road. There is no life here except for naked trees, and eerie silence follows you everywhere. You find your footprints; it seems you were walking in circles. Making clear waypoints now, trying to stray from the known path, you keep walking. Then it happens again. And again. And again. The cold sun is in its zenith now, overlooking your efforts.
>Turn back. This is getting you nowhere.
>Press on. "He who seeks will find it."
>>
>>5209348
>Turn back. This is getting you nowhere.
We're just wasting time for magic-altered pilgrimage.
>>
>>5209348
Press on. "He who seeks will find it."
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

1 - Turn back
2 - Press on
>>
>Press on. "He who seeks will find it."
You keep trying to find your way through the woods, stumbling upon your footprints a couple more times, but then it just "clicks" and you suddenly advance deeper than ever before. The trees here bear red, dry fruit and gray, oddly enough, alive-looking leaves. The ash covering the ground slowly rises once again, reaching up to your knees now. It is considerably harder to go on, but you don't stop.

Then, the wind picks up. It howls in the branches, and the dense forest whispers and hums in symphony with the gale blowing harshly and suddenly. The ash, risen by the storm, crashes against your and Gwyndolin's cloaks like mighty waves. Your footprints... they could be covered if this goes on. Then again, you're closer than before towards your goal. Perhaps this is but another challenge you're meant to overcome.
>Go forward. "He who seeks will find it."
>Retreat. This is too dangerous.
>Send Gwyndolin back before the footprints are erased, but go on yourself. You can't risk his life, while you are way more endurant.
[I will keep this vote open for about 12 hours instead of the usual day or two, since I want to get through this a bit quicker.]
>>
>>5210358
>Go forward. "He who seeks will find it."

Maybe you should've just simplified or abandoned this bit, then? Seems like the the amount of hours we have to spend on this is disproportionately high for the challenge our armor is facing, kek.
>>
>>5210358
>>>Send Gwyndolin back before the footprints are erased, but go on yourself. You can't risk his life, while you are way more endurant.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

1 - Go forward
2 - Send Gwyndolin back and go forward
>>
>Send Gwyndolin back before the footprints are erased, but go on yourself. You can't risk his life, while you are way more endurant.
You stop and turn to your companion. Amid the rustle of trees and the howl of the wind, it is tough to get your voice across, but you try nevertheless.
"It's dangerous for us to go further. I'm immune to bad weather, you are not. You should return while the footprints are still there."
"No. I'll make it towards the end." -- he answers brazenly.
You are puzzled a bit by this response.
"We could get lost. You could die here if you go on. I can wander with no sustenance or water, you cannot."
"I have already been forsaken by everyone I know. This is worse than death. I trust you. Enough to ensure that I am safe under your protection."
You stand there for a bit, under heaps of ash beating against you. You make one last effort to send Gwyndolin back.
"This is not a request. It's an order. Go back, or you'll face punishment."
"No."
"Fuck's sake."
You go on together in the end. It takes several more hours to get through the storm, but as sunset illuminates the trees, you find it. The Shrine. It is in a meadow where the ground is not covered in ash, it is black with literal charcoal. Tall stones, black, unreflective and pierced by cinder veins, jut out of the ground and surround a platform, in the middle of which a white gem glows dimly.
>>
>>5211144
You approach the platform and, not really sure what to do now, touch the gem. A sudden new feeling, a burning pain shoots through your hand, forcing you to draw it back. You look at your fingertips. They are white-hot, almost melting. However, your touch seems to have activated something. Out of the stones and the ground, a little black tempest of a vaguely human shape forms, with only red eyes visible behind the swirling veil.
"A new face. Or should I say "helm"? What is your name, armour? I have not seen you before."
"My name is Mordragon."
"And yours?" -- The Burnt God asks, addressing your companion.
"Gwyndolin."
"Mine is probably already known to you. I am Sathezel, the Burnt God. What do you seek here? Why did you come to me?"
"I want to know more about you first." -- you answer. -- "How did you die? Who were you before your death?"
"It's an old story. I was a demonic god once, but my followers turned against me and used the very hellfire I possessed to burn me and drive me away. A lot has happened since then, and both me and my followers changed, but that's the main tale."
"Is it okay to make your appearance like this? Aren't there other people that desire to meet you?"
"My followers are few and far between. Besides, it's not every day I see a living armour with a soul."
"Could you give us a blessing of some kind? We are on our way to defeat a necromancer sect and could use any help."
"I could, yes. You did pass my challenges after all. But it's strength depends on whether you'll offer something in return."
>Offer one of your items to Sathezel in exchange for power. [which one? what kind of power? (approximately) e.g. snake amulet in exchange for magic]
>Ask for a simple blessing with no offering.
>Ask Sathezel another question... [write-in]
>Write-in
>>
>>5210378
It's supposed to be long and somewhat repetitive to question your choice of seeking the shrine. But yeah, perhaps I should've added more challenge.
>>
>>5211146
>Ask if he wants to play some chess in the dirt, while we're here and tell him our story
He seemed interested in us, let's use it to our advantage.
>Offer to spread his name among godless people you meet on your journey
This could appeal to him and it'd be cool to give him some more recognition. Maybe he can give us something that grows in power with his status?
>Also ask if he could charge your tablet

>>5211158
Yeah, I figured that. It doesn't really work for quest format - it's obvious that all we have to do is voting "go further" and waiting. As you said, some content while we're travelling + facing the various disadvantages of leaving our group and travelling for many hours would be enough to cause doubt without making the quest itself boring. Sorry for criticizing, just trying to help by giving player's perspective.
>>
>>5211269
+1
>>
>write-ins
"How about I share tales of my adventures? Maybe play some chess?"
The Burnt God laughs silently for a few moments.
"You're one curious armour. Sure. Let's play, and talk. Though it'd be hard without pieces... Oh, I know. Gather the red fruit..."
You quickly slice away at the fruit to craft crude shapes, make a playing field out of the charcoal floor, then the game begins. You've told about your adventures many times in the villages you stopped by, and accumulated quite a bit of experience in entertainment; each tale was more colourful than the previous, while keeping true to reality, of course. Sethezel listens to your monologue silently, making careful moves on the board at the same time. Gwyndolin sits by your side, watching the game unfold. As your tale nears its end, your king is being steadily driven into a corner.
"... and that's where we are now."
"Checkmate." -- the Burnt God says, moving one of the pieces. -- "Good story. Been a while since I heard any, not many adventurers among my folk, sadly."
"Worth a boon, you think?"
"For sure. What'd you like?"
"Could you charge this tablet?" -- you ask, taking the Tablet of Fear out of your bag.
"Trifle." -- he says, passing his misty hand over it. The runes carved on the tablet briefly glow red before fading again.
"I thought maybe I could offer you more, though not something tangible. What do you think of spreading your name among the people of the world?"
"Ha! You want to become my prophet? Curious. Why not. Now, I know you'd expect a reward, but I don't want to reveal all my cards on a simple promise of service. Come back when you convert 300 in my name, and I'll share one secret location containing part of my legacy with you. As an advance I can offer something else though. Brute force isn't really my style, so no direct damage ones, but I can provide an enchantment of sorts that'll allow you to use one of my spells so long as you bear my mark. There's three options. The first, a Smokebody spell. Pretty straightforward, turns you and everything you carry into smoke for a few minutes. You can fly and reappear wherever you want. Useful for more subtle tasks. The second, Feareater. You'll be able to consume fear out of your surroundings and either empower or protect yourself using it. Could go well with that tablet of yours. The final one is Ashen Shield. Protects against both magic and physical harm. Doesn't nullify it completely, but dampens the blows pretty good. Another perk is that it can be cast on allies, so useful if you want to work in a team... So then, which one will it be?"
>Smokebody
>Feareater
>Ashen Shield
>Ask a question about one of the spells [write-in]
>>
>>5211269
That's ok, feedback is welcome.
>>
>>5212811
>Smokebody
This is far too useful to not take it.
>Ask how long does it take to recharge.
>Ask if the spells have any stories tied to them
Since they're aligned with his current form, but he wasn't always the Burnt God.
>>
>>5212811
>>Smokebody
>>
>Smokebody
>Ask how long does it take to recharge.
>Ask if the spells have any stories tied to them
"I'll go with Smokebody." -- you reply.
"Very well. Stretch out your arm. It's going to sting a bit."
You do so. The Burnt God extends his own mistlike hand and makes two strokes on your forearm, forming a small charred cross. It does hurt, though considerably less compared to the white gem embedded in this shrine. You feel a surge of heat permeating throughout your body.
"Done."
"Alright. How long does it take to recharge?"
"You should be able to use it for about five to fifteen minutes, depending on how much you decide to carry while in smoke form, every day."
You flex your arm a bit, looking at Sathezel's mark.
"Do these spells have a history behind them? You weren't the Burnt God forever, after all."
"No, not really. Just some tricks I learned while I was trying to... was wasting my time throughout the centuries. It's been a while since my death, got to keep myself occupied. The time before it though... well, I lost most of my abilities from back then. They were a bit more savage than what I'd offered you. The Moondrinker, they called me... But that's one story I'd like to keep to myself. Now, I guess our business is done. Be on your way, and spread my name among the people of the world. Now, Gwyndolin, was it? Don't want to forget you. What do you seek here? Why did you come to me?"
"I'd prefer a private conversation. Is that fine, Mordragon?"
"Sure. Keep your secrets if you want."
You distance yourself from the Shrine and await your companion beyond the treeline. It takes about 20 minutes for them to finish the conversation. Once Gwyndolin returns, you start making your way back to the road.
"You adamant about not sharing what you were talking about?" -- you ask, walking heavily through the thick ashen blanket.
"... Asked where I can find other dead gods." -- he replies after a brief pause. -- "Also some advice about the future. Not much use for words I've already heard though. Eos is always telling me not to be defined by my past, to look to the future. But how can I look forward to it if I don't even know what I want?"
>"Take your time in finding your way. You've got all life ahead of you to figure it out."
>Write-in
>>
Alright anons, it would seem you all abandoned me, but I'll still stick around until the thread is bumped off, so if any of you return I'm here checking the thread, waiting to write even if only for one player. I can kind of understand why this update would be ill-received, with this weird philosophy coming back, but, well, I like writing it once in a while, so that's how it is. If it's for another reason, as I said, I'm here to receive any feedback. Just very sad that the quest I've grown invested into over the past months dies like this.
>>
>>5214071
>"Take your time in finding your way."

>>5216494
F-Fuck.
I just bounced off of the
>one dialogue
>write-in
It's so barren and unappealing.
Providing varied choices is one of the pinnacles of successful quest, so if you wanted to write Mordragon's line, you should've just written it this update and put us back with our party to make some real decisions. Sadly, you can't rely on anons' imagination without providing them with prompts. It's weird but makes sense from player's perspective.
One more thing you should consider is to start using other characters than MC for scripted philosophical stuff, as in: don't make Mordragon engage in long dialogue with some deeper meaning without giving us any prompts. Geralt-mode makes it hard to connect with quest's character, since he basically just becomes an outlet for you at those moments and sometimes feels like an NPC whose lines we only control at random.
Ultimately I don't think the quest's content is bad, but the form/approach needs changes, so that it's actually appealing to the players while still letting you throw your philosophy in. We're all stupid here and just want to club monsters in the head, learn cool magic spells and some anons also like to make friends and help people.
>>
>>5216555
Yeah, with the prompt fuckup I wanted to go for something like "you can use this generic line, but there's a write-in for if you have any more interesting ideas", but at the end it turned out like simply lazy and alienating writing. For philosophical bits, I thought I was keeping Mordragon's replies neutral outside of prompts which deal with crucial stuff, but turns out it's different from your viewpoint, huh.
Thanks for the feedback and returning to vote, update will arrive this evening utc+3.
>>
>"Take your time in finding your way."
"Take your time in finding your way. I am still looking for a purpose myself, so you're not alone at least." -- you reply.
"... Thanks. That's a bit reassuring." -- Gwyndolin responds after a brief pause.
In spite of ash covering the ground, you get out of the forest quickly. Magic must have impeded your progress on the way to the Shrine, and with no supernatural obstacles in front of you, the walk back is over soon. You return to the village when the night is already creeping across the land. Folqitun and Irithyll with the knights don't pry into your visit, but Eos and, to a lesser extent, Diodorus are curious what you talked about with the Burnt God and interested in the deity itself. You heard Gwyndolin giving the same brief answer he provided to you.
>Share details about your visit. There is nothing secret there.
>Refuse to reveal what you talked about with Sathezel.
>Share part of what you conversed about... [write-in]

You continue your journey south. The weather gets worse. The rains and chill winds of late autumn strike suddenly and heavily against your party. Your companions wrap themselves tightly in their warm cloaks and ride in depressed silence. Until one night. You stand on watch, as usual, and notice one, two, three, a thousand snowflakes descending lightly from the sky. Winter has finally arrived. While winds may still bring about snow storms, at least you don't have to ride in endless mud, and the water won't find its way under the cloak, bringing rust to your plates.
>>
>>5217890
Over the weeks you spend on the road, forests become sparser and hills start rising in your path. Villages become more common, if not as lively as in summertime, and soon enough, you find yourself entering Asthur, one of the greatest cities of southern Wildlands. With the threat of demonic invasion ever-present, it is built much like a fortress, yet the street life still blossoms even in the cold months of winter. You note the weaveries where the woodwool of the south is transformed into tough, yet flexible and light armour. There's also an odd amount of brothels all around. "Succubi." -- Diodorus explains succinctly. It is from him that you learn about the renowned Asthuran Demonological Institute as well.

With funds of the expedition running low, your companions take up small jobs to earn some money. You are left with a couple weeks' worth of time to spend in the city.
>Visit the Demonological Institute to learn about Sathezel. He is of demonic heritage, after all. [may be taken with other options]
>Recruit halfdemons around the taverns, help against the Silver Eye in exchange for part of the spoils.
>See if the mayor needs help with anything. You think you saw the guards and the city militia (army?) hurrying around. [may be taken with other options]
>Practice magic. Diodorus didn't waste time and taught you even during evenings of your journey south. It is time to apply the theory.
>Work as well. Money is always useful.
>Write-in
>>
>>5216494
Just like >>5216555 said, one dialogue is too boring

>>5217890
>Share details about your visit. There is nothing secret there.

>>5217891
>Visit the Demonological Institute to learn about Sathezel. He is of demonic heritage, after all. [may be taken with other options]
>Work as well. Money is always useful.
>>
>>5217890
>Share details about your visit. There is nothing secret there.
>>5217891
>Visit the Demonological Institute to learn about Sathezel. He is of demonic heritage, after all.
>See if the mayor needs help with anything. You think you saw the guards and the city militia (army?) hurrying around.
This might mean work too.
>Ask about people's faith around here.
>>
>Share details about your visit. There is nothing secret there.
You tell Diodorus and Eos that you shared tales of your adventures with Sathezel and promised to spread his name around the lands in exchange for a spell and the location of unknown treasure in the future.
"Nice." -- the nymph responds. -- "I was really on the fence whether to join your trip or stay, now I wish I went after all. This god seems like a curious guy to talk to. My own fault, I guess."
Diodorus, however, is a little worried.
"Well, you have your own head on your shoulders to decide whom to help, but I'd be careful about making deals like this. Demons are known to be tricky and vindictive; if you promised something, make sure to deliver on it."
Future will tell the implications of your choice...

>Visit the Demonological Institute to learn about Sathezel. He is of demonic heritage, after all.
The Institute is a grand, but austere building, with massive towers standing tall above the city, several inner courtyards and walls decorated with runes, their second function being protection against the escape of demons studied within. The main hall is illuminated by light falling from tall windows. There are marble statues of the greatest demonologists who studied and taught in the Institute. High ceilings are supported by monumental stone columns, and a great stairway of hardwood leads to upper floors. The hall is full of students and professors hurrying around on their own business. You ask some where you should go to make a request about information, and they direct you towards the library located in one of the towers.
>>
>>5219119
The silence of this place is in sharp contrast to the hum of voices and steps of the main hall. Several tall wooden bookcases split the room into spacious walkways. From what you've been told, this is but the first level -- there are many more archives like this extending far up almost halfway to the top of the tower. Students occupy long tables, silently looking through ancient and modern texts. You approach the librarian's desk.
"I'd like to make a request."
"I'm listening." -- the librarian answers, looking up at you, a bit puzzled by your voice, like most are.
"I'm interested in learning more about the demon named "Sathezel". Is there anything on this subject?"
"Well... There are a lot of demons out there, some namesakes among them. It's going to be tough finding anything unless you know something specifically about the one you're looking for."
"Hmm... He is known by the title of "Moondrinker". Will that help?"
"Now we're getting somewhere... But, well, since you're not a student or otherwise associated with the Institute, I assume, we can't let you just look through our library like that. Either way, unless you know where to look, it'd be a looong while before you find anything. However, we, the librarians, can search for you for a small fee of 20 coins. You should return in a couple of months and we'll likely be ready to provide you with results, if we find any."
>Agree to pay for the search
>Reject this offer
[I have not forgotten about other votes, they'll appear in later updates]
>>
>>5219120
>Reject this offer
>Tell her you'll give her 2 gold if she can point you to a competent demonologist instead
Hell naw, we're gonna pay someone if they can provide us answers now, not in "months, maybe".
Can we take our helmet off easily to make people uncomfortable? It could prove useful for intimidation or just for fun.

Would be nice if you added gold count with this update, since otherwise we gotta scroll up to like first post which says 157g, and then it turns out we actually have less because we used 20g ever since and total sum was never updated, lol.

If you have enough steam, you should do multiple-choice updates when needed. Like here, if this is the only thing we have to do in library, just leave the vote open and continue with narration to the other votes/activities. This is the only quest that I know where updates are cut so abruptly by minor sometimes choices and it feels pretty bad.
>>
>>5219136
>gold count
You have 137g at the moment.
>multiple choice
Every day more of my retardation is exposed by anons. Ye, the problem here is I split up large updates like this one to not overload myself + ideas come slowly and I'm still drafting religion for
>Ask about people's faith around here.
However, point taken, next update will probably wrap up the Asthur waypoint.
>>
>>5219161
Sadly I can't help with not overloading yourself, drafting stuff, etc. You should ask QMs from /qtg/ about how they solve problems you have for best help.

I would bring it all up earlier, but I was honestly afraid it would either annoy or discourage you to gave shit pointed out each update. Most of the things I say are simply a result of noticing there is a problem/room for improvement and recalling how do Herald/Reptilian quest have done those specific things, since those guys had nearly perfected QMing. Though as I said, it all falls apart on purely-writing advice, since I can't really compare text of different style/content/volume and I'm not a writer.
>>
>>5219161
Fuck you
>>
Anons, there are some rangeban problems again (happens quite often, as you see), so there won't be any updates for now.
>>5219196
I wasn't asking for your help with it, just explaining my reasoning for splitting up updates. A bit discouraged that there are so many fields where I'm doing poorly, but not annoyed. If you notice something wrong, do point it out and I'll try to improve.
>>
>>5221045
At least there is room for improvement!
>>
I'm back. Hope there's still someone to vote here.
>Reject this offer
>Tell her you'll give her 2 gold if she can point you to a competent demonologist instead
You take a brief pause, thinking about the librarian's offer, then swiftly pull two coins out of your bag.
"I'll give you this much if you point me to a competent demonologist who can actually answer my questions, here and now."
The librarian looks at you with a mix of amusement and surprise.
"Well, I wouldn't hope most professors are readily available, the winter exams are approaching, after all, but... Go to the northwestern tower" -- she points out the vague direction. -- "and you'll find the faculty of Demonic History. They may be able to help you out. If not... well, my offer still stands."
"Thank you."
You drop the coins into the librarian's outstretched hand, then leave her, following her directions. You find the faculty indeed, but most of the teaching staff are on lectures or doing practical work, so you have to wait a bit for someone to become free. You eventually find a professor willing to answer your questions. There's not much detail in his story, but you learn that about a millennium ago, there was a demonic prince named Sathezel. For some reason or another, he sought one of the moon goddesses, but when granted a meeting, attacked her and drank her blood. After that, Sathezel's demons turned on him and the prince was killed. It is not known what happened to him afterwards, although it's quite obvious considering his current state.

>Ask about people's faith around here.
The belt of cities stretching from Orbrin in the west to Asthur in the east is a melting pot of various cultures and beliefs. The human part of the population believes in the Wandering Gods of old, though you find a few Sol worshippers as well. The former you only heard a little of previously, but as you converse with people, you find out the gist of it is in the name. There are a myriad gods walking around the world, nameless, yet more powerful than the ordinary man. They may bestow blessings upon wherever they may be passing through, if they are treated well. The religion is vague on what kind of difference there is between a god and a regular stranger, with some gods vastly more powerful than the common man, and some very weak, almost humanlike. "In every wanderer -- a god" -- they say. Perhaps there is a truth to this.
>>
>>5228758
Some of the halfdemons believe in demonic gods -- the more benevolent ones, anyway -- but the administration keeps a close eye on this religion and does not hesitate to purge any cults dedicated to more cruel or evil masters. Hailing from the west, some yet worship the Secret Gods of the Lan and Altine kingdoms. Their names are kept away from the masses, only granted to chosen ones by the gods themselves, becoming forgotten once a wish is made.

Some are part of the Moon Cult, mostly dark elven immigrants. There are also those that worship the Ascended of the seraphim, this religion coming from beyond the southern mountains. Heroes of old elevated to the status of gods, some performing feats even nowadays, trying to get accepted into the pantheon, No one's succeeded in a long while. Finally, some, hailing predominantly from the Branded Coast of the Iron Men to the south, do not worship any gods at all.

>See if the mayor needs help with anything. You think you saw the guards and the city militia (army?) hurrying around.
The architecture of Asthur is peculiar. They don't display a vivid or opulent style, but the decorational minimalism and precision of colour somehow feels really comfy. Same can be said about the building of the city administration. It is very simple to traverse and pleasant to the eye. You wait a bit for the mayor to finish his other meetings before finally being admitted into his study. Introductions out of the way, you ask Ginkain what you came here for:
"I see a surprising level of military activity here. Is something the matter?"
"Yes, actually. Earlier, I've received reports of a demon portal opening to the south, near the mountains. The surrounding villages and Asthur itself are mobilizing an army to throw the invaders back and close it."
"Could I help somehow? I've a group of about twenty."
"That would be welcome. But what do you ask in return?"
"We're heading for Mount Soffra to the west since there's evidence of Silver Eye activity there. I'd be grateful if you could help with that."
"I can do that, but in what way? I'd be willing to lend you several dozen of my soldiers, even with a mage perhaps. Or would you prefer to be paid in gold? I could offer 6000 coins for this job. 300 each for twenty people, a good month's pay. Or anything else?"
>"The soldiers would be welcome."
>"I'll take the gold."
>"On second thought, this sounds like too long of a detour."
>Write-in
>>
>>5228762
>>"The soldiers would be welcome."
>Write-in
plus 1000 coins
>>
>>5228762
>"Just a few dozen soldiers and 3000 coins would be be welcome. See, I might not have to eat, but the rest would greatly appreciate not having to worry about rations."
(if the things move on)
>Ask soldiers about their beliefs
We could potentially use the Smokebody to make them consider praying to the Burnt God somewhere down the line.

If we get a mage, could he wear us in combat to double the effectiveness? Like, we'd to the stabbing, slashing and he could cast spells, be a second pair of eyes to us, etc.
>>
>mix of soldiers and money
"Is it possible to get both a few dozen soldiers and two or three thousand coins? That'd help with the rations and other logistics."
"Yes, yes, of course. In precise numbers... I'll assign 50 men from our standing guard and pay 2000 coins, is that alright?"
>"Yes."
>"I'd like to adjust these numbers..." [specify ratio]

With the deal struck, you inform your companions about the new mission. Eos, ever the wanderer, supports the decision, curious about demons, however dangerous they may be. Diodorus and Irithyll, while not happy about the detour, concede that defeating demons is a worthy endeavour, and with a reward to boot they support it as well. There is some grumbling among the knights, but they yield to Irithyll's unquestionable authority. He must be an experienced commander to attain such a level of trust among his soldiers. Gwyndolin silently accepts it. The only problem is Folqitun. He outright refuses to participate in the campaign.
"I didn't get paid for this. We should just keep on the road to the Silver Eyes. Their eradication is our primary goal."
"Which is exactly why we're acquiring additional resources." -- Diodorus parries. -- "It's best to play safe rather than arrive with our meagre force and find out there are scores of cultists waiting for us at Soffra."
"By "playing safe" you mean dying by the hands of demons?"
"You're exaggerating. There are hundreds of militiamen to back us up, we're not just going headlong into a battle we can't win."
"Go on without me then. I'll rejoin you once you return."
"Your magic could be useful in the coming battle." -- Irithyll argues. -- "Invisibility or illusions are valuable no matter what fight we find ourselves in."
"Hm... Argh... Fine! But know that I won't risk my head for some lowly militia."
"I'd rather not hear that about soldiers." -- the head knight replies coldly. -- "They're putting their lives in danger, just like we do... But that's a conversation for another time."

The army assembles outside the walls of Asthur. While the mobilization isn't full due to the portal being minor, over a thousand men gather still, not to mention several demonologists from the Institute. You approach Diodorus some hours before the march begins.
"The invasion is minor, but the army is pretty large. Why is that?"
"Demons are hard to defeat." -- the mage replies. -- "Thing is, they feed on emotions, and the middle of battle is like a feasting table for them. Anger. Hatred. Fear. They devour it all and get stronger. Which is why we must either somehow block them from consuming emotions or deploy overwhelming force. We do both -- the demonologists the former, the army the latter -- just to secure our victory."
>>
>>5230865
"I see... I've recently had an idea for a tactic to increase our power. Could a mage wear me, allowing me to perform the fighting part while casting spells himself? Maybe serve as a second pair of eyes for me?"
"That'd be possible, yes. Nice idea, actually. But I'd advise against using it too often with the same person. You see, magic isn't exactly safe, in excessive amounts hazardous even. It could warp surroundings or even one's body and mind. And inside you is a pretty strong magical field; correct me if I'm wrong, you survived even draconic fire, yes?"
"That's right."
"Yeah... It should be fine to wear you for some battles, but every day? I'd not recommend it. But, well, it doesn't seem like you intend to do that, so go ahead with your idea, it seems like a good one to me."

>Ask soldiers about their beliefs
You depart. The portal is a week's march to the south, would've been quicker if it wasn't winter. The vast forests and hills are silent and white. Most struggle in the cold, except you and Eos due to your magical nature. The soldiers huddle around the campfires every evening. You join them some days, asking about their faith, sometimes using Smokebody to pull them to Sathezel's side. Most are wary, some respond with interest. You count them, 20 souls' attention is attracted. However small, part of your promise to the Burnt God is fulfilled.

With the army nearing its destination, you approach Eos one day.
"What do you think about demons? Are they evil?"
"You sometimes ask hard questions out of the blue, aha... Well, I'd say no-o-...-t really. It's quite trite, but the wolves aren't evil because they eat sheep, same logic here."
"Wolves aren't conscious, demons are." -- Irithyll adds, happening to ride nearby. -- "To choose by one's own volition to inflict harm upon others is pretty much the definition of evil. They seem to exist just fine in their damned dimension."
"Ahh... Touché." -- the nymph responds. -- "But still, perhaps their dimension is unbearable to them? There's supposed to be a reason for them to invade us. What do you think, Mordragon?"
>"No matter whether they're forced to do this by their nature or not, if they inflict harm, they're evil."
>"I'd say if it's in their nature to inflict harm, they're not truly evil."
>"Evil and good is relative. What is good for them, is evil for us. There's no definitive answer."
>Write-in
>>
>>5230865
>40 soldiers and 2.5k
>"I'd say if it's in their nature to inflict harm, they're not truly evil."
>"Evil and good is relative."
Same thing as with drug addicts that go further and further to get what they feel like they need.

Can I have a tiiny request, QM? Please just put a reddit spacing between text and choices, my mobile app makes all formatted text yellow and it's hard to tell the difference at first, lol.
>>
>40 soldiers and 2.5k coins

"I'd like to shift a bit towards money. Could you provide 40 soldiers and 2500 coins?"
"That is fine, yes. We are in agreement then."

...

>"I'd say if it's in their nature to inflict harm, they're not truly evil."
>"Evil and good is relative."

"I'd say if it's in their nature to inflict harm, they're not truly evil. And ultimately, evil and good is relative. What is evil for us, is good for them."
"I think so too." -- Eos replies. -- "Besides, there are various circumstances that complicate things and shift actions towards one side or another. It's really hard to answer the primary question decisively."
"Even if it's all relative, in the end, they are evil for us, as you said." -- Irithyll responds. -- "That much is enough to determine how we should act, that is, oppose their invasions."

The march is nearing its end. In the distance, the Rift Mountains stand, named for the various portals, demonic or crossdimensional, opening near them. The ground gets warmer, shedding snow to reveal cracked earth. You are nearing your destination. The soldiers wear armour and carry ready weapons as they move, to prepare for possible surprise attacks.

The officers of the army are called for a strategical meeting, and you join them. The main strategy is agreed upon to be envelopment, but there remains a question of whom to send to kill the demonic prince-overlord, most probably leading the enemies. Eyes turn to you.
>Agree to strike against the commander. Suggest your idea of carrying a demonologist inside you.
>Suggest your idea of carrying a mage inside you, but argue that you'd be more useful as a powerful frontline unit.
>Write-in
>>
>>5233276
>Agree to strike against the commander. Suggest your idea of carrying a demonologist inside you.
>>
>Agree to strike against the commander. Suggest your idea of carrying a demonologist inside you.
Your proposal is met with agreement. One of the higher-ranking demonologists, Mruin, is assigned to work in tandem with you. He is a quiet type, but with an obvious intelligence behind his curious eyes. "Let's do our best, shall we?" -- he says calmly when you eventually meet. You can only hope to keep both him and yourself safe. Your own companions will be backing you up as you pierce the lines, seeking your objective.

The day of battle is finally here. In the distance, a hill with a rift on top is visible. It's swirling maw occasionally throws up a demon. There are already a couple hundred of them, redskinned, horned monsters; departing quickly was a prudent decision, after all. You take Mruin inside yourself, group up with the knights, led by Irithyll, and prepare for battle.

The army spreads out among the trees and fields, already warped by demonic corruption, attempting to quickly encircle the hill, but their manoeuvres are noticed by the invaders. The demons quickly take up arms and charge down the hill at the hurriedly formed lines of militia. The enemy is met with crossbow bolts and arrows, some falling dead, the tougher ones shrugging off the projectiles and keeping the charge.

The battle is a dread sight. Towering a whole meter above the highest man, the demons hack and slash at the lines of Asthurians. The demonologists start casting their spells, sapping the strength of the enemy. It is time for you to strike. The greatest of demons -- four-horned, large, imposing -- stays behind, conjuring magic to aid and reinvigorate his army. Before you can engage him, there remains the task of piercing the frontline. You give the command for your companions to follow you, and charge.
Roll 1d100 Bo3 DC: 62
>>
>>5234626
dice+1d100
>>
Rolled 54 (1d100)

>>5234626
>>
Rolled 56, 27 = 83 (2d100)

>>5234626
>>
>>5235631
goddamit
>>
>56 - Failure
Just as you are riding to crash into the demons' flank, you hear Mruin whispering something. Well-learnt, arcane words and a flow of mana into your mace make it light up in a magical flame.
"Demonsbane. It should be easier to deal with them now."
It is easier indeed. You make a test swing at an oblivious demon. While previously, your weapon would just break a few bones and get stuck, this time it outright tears out a chunk of flesh, spraying and evaporating it, leaving a searing wound behind. The demon makes a groan wet with blood, then clutches his wound and falls dead.

You aren't the only one using magic, however. The mage-prince finishes casting whatever spell he was preparing, and many demons' weapons are engulfed in hellfire, their strength amplified against the inferior human weaponry. The demonologists, luckily, prepare a counter-spell relatively quickly and snuff out the fire, but some of those more distant from the frontlines retain it -- including those opposing you on your way to the prince.

While Demonsbane fire is indeed more effective against demons, it doesn't help that much against cold steel. One of your hits breaks your balance, and as you struggle upwards, you receive a heavy blow from a hellfire-engulfed broadsword. It makes your plates buckle -- the demons' strength is quite formidable -- not only that, it burns your inner structure as well, as is evident by sparks of wild magic springing up from the point of impact. Judging from the gasp of pain and crack of ribs from inside you, Mruin is also wounded.

However, your companions come to your rescue, helping you cut and smash your way through the horde. While weakened from a hellfire hit, you eventually reach the sorceror-prince. He turns his attention towards you, standing as high as you are riding a horse, wielding a shield and an axe so big it'd be two-handed for a human. His armour, an uncommon item among the enraged, barbaric demons, blocks his vital spots. There are a couple of amulets dangling from his neck as well, their purpose not clear. With the knights keeping his minions at bay, you are left alone to deal with your adversary.
>Blast him with the holy fire of the Sol Gauntlet. It's never let you down so far.
>Block and parry while Mruin weakens the demon prince.
>Write-in
>>
Thinking about maybe running the quest in sessions. Since I'm a neet, I'm free most of the day and evening utc+3. Let me know when you'd be up for it, anon(s).
>>
>>5235662
>Block and parry while Mruin weakens the demon prince.
Not using fire against a demon lol

>>5235664
I'm on and off randomly, so sessions personally don't work for me.
>>
>Block and parry while Mruin weakens the demon prince.

Roll 1d100 Bo3 DC: 74
Just roll all three dice at once, there's nobody else here to do that.
>>5235669
Daily updates it is then.
>>
Rolled 73 (1d100)

>>5236615
>>
Rolled 99 (1d100)

>>5236615
>>
Rolled 81 (1d100)

>>5236615
>>
>99 - Success

"I don't think I can win this alone. Anything you can do to weaken him?" -- you ask your ally demonologist.
"Yeah, buy me some time."

You watch the demon's motions, looking for the earliest signs of an attack to parry it. He strikes fast and hard, hits crashing like a tsunami even against your formidable grip. When one of the blows breaks through your defence, you're thrown off your horse, and as the sorceror-prince raises his axe above you, uttering unknown words in the cruel, roaring tongue of the demons, you think you're done for, but everything suddenly changes with the mage inside you finishing his spell. Currents of magic wrap themselves around your enemy, turquoise, ethereal chains weighing heavily on his body.
"Ghost chains. His strength should be greatly diminished now."

It is as Mruin said. Your enemy's movements become sluggish, imprecise. You deliver a hit, then another, then another. The flanges of your mace crack open the demon-prince's armour, and seemingly all that's left is to destroy his flesh with Demonsbane fire. But the fight is not over yet.

Your adversary, crimson eyes full of hatred, raises his hand and cries arcane words as a ball of magical energy forms in his palm. It suddenly bursts into magical arrows, and for a moment you think they'll impact you, but Mruin comes to your rescue again. A shield forms around you, and the missiles shatter on impact, exploding into iridescent light. You hear the demonologist inside you breathing heavily.
"Damn... That's probably it for me. You'll have to finish this yourself."

Alright. You only need to deliver one decisive hit.
>Make a risky move to get through the demon-prince's defences. [autosuccess but receive minor damage]
>Keep fighting the way you did. Even weakened, he is a formidable opponent. [roll against low DC]
>Use Smokebody to breach his defences. This will leave Mruin exposed, but your companions should be keeping the demons at bay. [autosuccess, but..?]
>>
>>5236867
>Keep fighting the way you did. Even weakened, he is a formidable opponent. [roll against low DC]
Let's not torture the mage lmao
>>
>Keep fighting the way you did. Even weakened, he is a formidable opponent. [roll against low DC]

Roll 1d100 Bo3 DC: 25
>>
Rolled 66, 91, 82 = 239 (3d100)

>>5238026
inb4 failure
>>
>>5238065
Neat rolls.
Update in the morning utc+3 (probably)
>>
>91 - Success

The demon-prince adopts a defensive stance now, clearly tired from all the spellcasting and fighting, very much aware that you can end his life in one mace's swing. It doesn't save him. You rush forward; your first hit is blocked by the shield, but you do not relent and deliver another one, severing his forearm with Demonsbane mace as he raises it up for a swing, making the prince drop his weapon. He roars in pain, while you make the final attack, stabbing him in the chest with the tip of your mace, making a huge, charred hole. He falls on his knees, then on the ground. The duel is won.
"Cut off his head and get on the horse. I'll declare him dead. That should sink their morale."

You do so, pocketing the amulets he was carrying in the process. Raising your visor to let his voice spread farther, you listen as Mruin cries out in the tongue of the demons. For a few moments, the battlefield becomes silent. Then, they run. Not all of them, some stay behind, intoxicated by emotions, but they are quickly cut down. The army chases the demons to the portal itself, and the demonologists, however tired, get to work, closing the rift quickly and efficiently.

Both you and Mruin are lauded as a heroes for your contribution to victory. However, the celebrations are short and limited. The soldiers, drafted suddenly, long to return home after the campaign. The march back begins.

You tally the losses among your group. Three of the knights have sacrificed their lives for victory, some of the remaining 14 battered, but alive. You note that you feel perpetually tired as you ride. It seems the hellfire blow has taken its toll on your endurance. However, there is plenty of time to rest at nights spent awaiting dawn. Slowly, but surely, the damage is healed, as arcane strands comprising your inner structure re-weave themselves. You reckon if you sustained any more, you'd probably be irreparably (without magical intervention) wounded.

You ask Diodorus about the amulets you obtained. He works on identifying their effects in the evenings after the day's march. As you near Asthur, he reveals the results of his research. Both of them are rather simple in nature. One is a minor booster to spellcasting ability. The other is a bit more interesting, it contains a purification spell of light magic, capable of dispelling minor curses if pressed against the cursed object. You have no idea how the demon-prince came to possess it, but it is what it is.
>Keep them for yourself.
>Give the amulets to your party members. [which and to whom?]
>>
>>5238973
You reach Asthur. With the end of the year nearing, the streets are slowly starting to become more lively in preparation for the New Year's celebrations. You are provided your reward by Ginkain: 2500 coins, 40 soldiers and 2 battle mages specialised in demonology, as agreed. They are led by Rifrun, a somewhat experienced commander, not as much as Irithyll though. There remains a question of how to distribute the wealth among your party members.
>Split it equally between everyone.
>Spend it on rations in a centralised manner. These should last for about a month for your core companions; the soldiers the mayor provided carry their own for the same time. Then again, your party could live off the land for a while; you've done already done it a couple of times between far villages.
>Spend a portion on battle potions at the alchemist's.
>Write-in

With the money allocated, you need to chart the course of the next step of your journey. Mount Soffra is within a couple weeks' march to the west. You could also make a detour to the northwest, visiting Ctis, the City of Monsterslayers, in the Magelands, named so for the wild magic dominant there. You would also pass Soth, the Lake of Dreams. There is also the option of, however hard it may be, recruiting an ent to your cause by visiting the ent forest to the north.
>Go the straight route. You've spent enough time here.
>Take a northwestern detour to Ctis and Soth.
>Go north to see if you can recruit an ent, then return to Asthur and go the straight route.
>>
>>5238973
>Give the magic boosting amulet to Eos
>Keep the one with purification spell
>>5238974
Oh right, we get to keep these guys. I totally didn't misinterpret this during the negotiations lol.
>Split it equally between everyone.
Yeah, let them get whatever they need.
>Go the straight route. You've spent enough time here.
Ents are cool, but let's not take any more detours.
>>
>>5239001
+1 this anon
>>
>Give the magic boosting amulet to Eos
>Keep the one with purification spell

The purification amulet can come in handy should you stumble upon a curse. As for the magic booster, it is reasonable to give it to a magic user. Eos replies with a "Thank you" to your gift.

>Split it equally between everyone.

You decide to just split the gold equally, allowing your companions to decide what to purchase themselves. After a day's worth of looking around shops, you learn that both the mages and the knights, while dedicating some of the money to obtaining rations, spent a lot on various magical items such as potions and protective anti-necromancy trinkets. This makes you wonder if you should do so yourself.

There are several shops available to you. The first is the alchemist's. While you cannot ingest potions, so most of the enhancement ones are out of the question, you could very well use throwable flasks, like back when you destroyed a horde of undead with an Arcane Unbinding one, or smoked out the cultists with Toxic Gas.
The following are available:
>Explosive -- 40 coins
>Freezing -- 50 coins
>Toxic Gas -- 50 coins
>Arcane Unbinding -- 60 coins
>Mana Potion -- 30 coins
>Caustic -- 50 coins
>Write-in?

The second shop deals in simple trinkets and scrolls containing one-use spells.
The following goods are available:
>Fireball scroll -- 100 coins
>Blink scroll -- 60 coins
>Magic Missile scroll -- 50 coins
>Physical block talisman (annulls 1 physical attack of moderate strength) -- 40 coins
>Magical block talisman -- 70 coins
>Write-in?

While you are still looking (and feeling) pretty good, you could also remove the little rust pieces that you got back during autumn rains from your plates and oil them. With Diodorus' help, you could also purchase materials and magical equipment required to enchant your weaponry, but that's bound to cost a lot.
>Take care of your plates -- 20 coins
>Enchant your mace for Lightness, allowing you to wield it with one hand -- 200 coins
>Enchant your short sword for Sharpness, making it hard enough to cut through armour with some effort -- 200 coins
>Write-in?

There are also other shops...
>Write-in what you seek

You have 267 coins to spend.
>>
I'll be checking the thread for the next few hours before night comes, so if you have questions/suggestions, I'll try to reply quickly with prices or whatever interests you.
>inb4 what the fuck is this economy
I am pulling the prices out of my ass, there is little system behind them.
>>
>>5240273
>necromancers
Heh, what are they gonna do, rust our steel?
>Take care of your plates -- 20 coins
>Enchant your short sword for Sharpness, making it hard enough to cut through armour with some effort -- 200 coins
Potions are nice, but kinda gimmicky and I just like enchantments.
Unless other anon has some ideas.

>>5240274
Please give the list of our companions and tl;dr on who they are.
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>>5240343
Eos -- she's the wanderlust nymph who you agreed to protect for a year or two as she travels with you. Needs to come into contact with water once every week or two. She's helped you out in several battles with her water magic, but without a water source she's very vulnerable. A bit egoistical. She's also very sociable and likes spending her time at various festivals or simply getting drunk in taverns.
Diodorus -- he's the Mage of Tefar, one of the cities in Neruem. You helped him by obtaining the Winged Valleys spirits' feathers for his research. In exchange, he taught you the basics of magic (and still helps you with that). He is also the mastermind behind the expedition against the Silver Eye, he contacted the Lantern Knights for help, hired Folqitun and provided funds for the whole initial travelling supplies & logistics thing. Regarding abilities, he is a powerful mage and quite knowledgeable about the world.
Irithyll -- he's the head of the Lantern Knights (not overall, just those that joined you), which are the elite of Neruemian army. He's an experienced commander and fighter with a strong sense of right and wrong.
There are also 13 knights with him, all excellent fighters.
Folqitun -- the mage Diodorus hired. Specialises in utility spells, e.g. invisibility, illusions, night vision, warning wards, etc. Quite arrogant.
Gwyndolin -- former necromancer and ranger that you agreed to guide and protect for Diodorus. In the process of studying other schools of magic. Young. Quiet, calm, distant. Doesn't like talking about his necromancy-related past (you still haven't learned why he had taken up the dark arts).
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>>5240393
Thank. These could use reddit spacing, heh
Okay, so we have 3 mages, ex-necromancer turned ranger and 14 knights in our close party, and then 2 demonbane mages and 40 soldiers in our extended party.
I have two more questions. Who are the Silver Eye we're after and did we ever inquire Eos about using blood as a substitute for water?
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>>5240417
>reddit spacing
Damn, yeah, didn't think that through.

The Silver Eye is a necromancer sect with a twist. While regular necromancers bind souls to the dead, reanimating them, the Silver Eye imprison souls in golems of steel, thus enhancing their combat abilities and resilience.

You did not talk with Eos about it, but some ooc answer: controlling blood is the domain of blood magic, which is forbidden except for healing purposes. Water magic deals with, surprise-surprise, water and ice. A bit of purification/cleansing too, maybe some other liquids.
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>>5240343
>Adding Mana Potion to shopping list
>>5240465
Damn, we're gonna have to talk to Dio and Folq about getting protection since we might be vulnerable to binding.
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>Take care of your plates -- 20 coins
>Enchant your short sword for Sharpness, making it hard enough to cut through armour with some effort -- 200 coins
>Mana Potion -- 30 coins

First things first, you head to the blacksmith and get your plates in order. He prepares a cleansing solution and methodically washes away any rust there is. After that, he oils them to prevent further rust formation. You leave him pretty pristine.

Next order of business, you do the big investment of enchanting your sword for Sharpness. Purchasing various magical powders, crystalline formations and whatnot, you let Diodorus take it from there. He etches some small runes near the base of the sword, then places his hands upon it and stays like this for about an hour, pouring magical energy into the sword, modifying its structure. Once he's done, you make a few test swings at the sturdier offcuts in a woodworker's workshop. Goes like a hot knife through butter. Should work on armour as well.

The last thing you do is obtain another Mana Potion. While most of them you can't ingest, mana is essentially concentrated magical energy. Your inner structure absorbs it to heal and strengthen itself just fine.

>Go the straight route. You've spent enough time here.

With that, you depart. Looking over your little army marching on through the snow, you wonder whether it is enough to confront the cultists. However, before you arrive, quite literally on the first night of travelling, a stowaway is brought to you. In a warm, hooded cloak, a girl stands before you. Her feet are bare and crimson, the snow beneath them melting quickly. A mark of demonic corruption.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Lilith."
Common name among their kind, as you've learnt staying in Asthur. She's a (half-)succubus, that much is obvious.
"No, I mean, what are you doing here?"
"I'm, uh... lifting men's spirits?"
"Anything useful?"
"I... I have a dagger, so I can fight. Also, I can make you feel good, if you want..."
"I'm an armour." -- you state matter-of-factly.
"Love finds a way..." -- Lilith says, looking at you with a mix of fear and resolve. She has little on her besides her cloak and the blade.
>Send her away before you're too far on the campaign.
>Let her stay. You are curious how she plans to seduce you.
>Take pity on her and let her stay. For now. Perhaps she'll prove useful, after all.
>Write-in
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>>5241646
>Bring her to Diodorus and the two demon experts. Ask what you should do about her.
We have no experience with succubuses, so I'd prefer to ask experts here if these demons are known to lie/backstab and if bringing her will cause problems.
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>>5241646
>>Let her stay. You are curious how she plans to seduce you.
must coom
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>>5241646
>>Send her away before you're too far on the campaign.
Reject Thots.
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>>5241646
>Bring her to Diodorus and the two demon experts. Ask what you should do about her.
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>Bring her to Diodorus and the two demon experts. Ask what you should do about her.
You find the mages' tents and ask them about succubi.
"They inherit their high sex drive from their ancestors, that much is certain." -- Anatoly, one of the demonologists, answers. -- "That could cause problems among our lads if you don't keep an eye on her. As for whether she's more prone to treachery... Not really. You can trust her as much as you would any stranger. Halfdemons can be alright lads, part of the soldiers here are ones, actually, but you can't tell whether she's reliable or not without getting to know her."
"You said she has little on her, right?" -- Diodorus continues. -- "Perhaps she's as harmless as she says. Though not much use for her, either. It's your call whether to send her back to Asthur or let her stay."
So, little useful information. At least you now know she's (relatively) similar to humans in mind.
>Let her stay for one reason or another.
>Send her back after all.

Regardless of what you decide to do with the succubus girl, your main objective lies farther to the west. Part of your march goes through the southern reaches of the Magelands, but any magical beasts that this land spawns seem to be cautious of your numbers, and you pass the territory with little difficulty. The mountains greet you with freezing passes after you leave behind forests warped by wild magic. In a few days, you reach your destination. Mount Soffra, one of its slopes, facing towards a valley, opens up with a grand gate to the ruined dwarven hold. Lights dancing behind the gate are smothered by distance. Flanking the entrance are towers, chiselled out to resemble standing dwarven warriors, clutching monumental axes, overlooking the approaches to the hold.

Diodorus uses the Scout Disc once again. There's not much to be learnt unless you reveal the Disc by sending it down the gates, but the Mage of Tefar reports that the towers beside the entrance house ballistas. Disabling them one way or another would be beneficial for the eventual assault. There's also the option of infiltrating the hold using Folqitun's invisibility magic to learn the inner structure and enemy numbers, carry out sabotage, or outright assassinate the leaders, though that's bound to be difficult.
>Use Smokebody to climb the towers and kill whoever is on watch at the ballistas.
>Use Folqitun's magic to infiltrate the hold. [write-in objective]
>Carry out a rapid invasion of the hold.
>Write-in
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>introduce waifu
>lurkers appear
I now know the recipe for a successful quest.
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>>5242715
>Let her stay for one reason or another.
She can stay if she agrees to help us.
Send her to Eos for now. She can get succ some clothes and probe to figure out what's her deal.
>Use Folqitun's invisibility to infiltrate the hold.
>Use naked succubus as a bait to make them open the gates, follow inside to get intel and see what options you have.
Wonder if we can sabotage anything with our metal-cutting blade.

>>5242718
Feel free to turn up the heat, but god, please no romance shit. I won't be able to stand the cringe. And be warned that allowing a harem (keeping multiple coom npcs) will make the quest go to hell.
Also reply to all votes when you update, those (1)s are a powerful weapon. And one more annoying thing: please avoid mixing the vote chronology like you did in last 3-4 updates - you could've just put shopping update before asking what path should we take.
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>>5242747
>Also reply to all votes when you update
Noted.
>please avoid mixing the vote chronology
Huh, I got positive feedback about this back during the first thread. It's just that sometimes I know what I want to write, but the sequence of events turns out weird. I thought I could juggle the order of voted actions in favour of narrative cohesiveness, like delaying what was voted on to later updates so I can insert something I planned but didn't get the opportunity to introduce (e.g. delaying departure to make a shopping interlude). Also trying not to "cut off" the updates on little decisions, advancing the plot as much as I can.
>please no romance shit.
>mfw prepared a plotline about "can your mecha-arcane heart truly love?!?!?!"
In all seriousness, I appreciate your (and other anons'?) formatting and quest organisation advice, but please leave the actual plot to me. I'll write what I want to write, however cringeworthy and trashy it may be.
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>>5242881
>got positive feedback about this back during the first thread
Weird, I was there and don't remember it. Either way, I personally find it annoying, because it boils down to "why did we vote for what we're doing now two updates ago?".
>I'll write what I want to write, however cringeworthy and trashy it may be.
Well of course lol. I just didn't think you had anything in mind yet and would like to avoid the stuff that is painful to me if possible. But honestly, seeing that we're an armor it could be interesting instead of obnoxiously boring, dunno.
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>>5242715
>Let her stay
>Use Smokebody to climb the towers and kill whoever is on watch at the ballistas
Cum on them all
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>>5242715
>Let her stay for one reason or another.
>Use Smokebody to climb the towers and kill whoever is on watch at the ballistas.
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>>5243007
>>5243161
We can only use it once a day, btw.
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>>5243814
You can use it for a set amount of time (5-15 mins depending on how much you carry) every day, but the amount of times you use it per day is unlimited. So you could go around in smoke form for 1, then 2, then another 2 minutes in separate time chunks. Though it does take some time for it to kick in for balance reasons.
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>>5243843
...huh
I still liked my idea better lol
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>Let her stay for one reason or another.

You make it clear to her that you only keep her around so long as she is useful. Lilith "is ready to satisfy every single one of your demands~". In spite of the succubus' tantalizing behaviour around the soldiers, Eos, whom you assigned to be responsible for her, manages to keep the halfdemon in check.
Back in the present...
>Use Smokebody to climb the towers and kill whoever is on watch at the ballistas.

Roll 1d100 Bo3 DC:80
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Rolled 42 (1d100)

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Rolled 45 (1d100)

>>5243968
I bet using her as a distraction would be easier, kek