This "session" was held as in-character discussion via e-mail.
Amber initiates discussionEdit
"Wait a moment," Amber said. "Wouldn't whoever it was that hired this caravan to ambush us with the soulbreaker orb know that they would be incapable of activating it? Either our enemies are more ignorant than we thought, or perhaps this web is more tangled than I had anticipated." She looks to the rest of you on the Coatal. "Thoughts? This seems to reduce the chance of it being one of our known adversaries. Certainly they must have expected us to potentially come out of this alive, or worse (and apparently) with the Orb ourselves."
"I think pursuing the matter with that train of thought will get us into more unneeded trouble. Our abilities to address the problems at hand are already stretched thin. I propose we wait and let whoever did this, whether we know of them or not, to come back to us. If we keep a keen eye and ear out, we can stab them in the back first before they try again," Takara pauses, "Alternatively, maybe a bunch of stupid humans found the Orb and didn't know what the hell to do with it."
...some time later.
"I've been thinking," Takara puts up a hand to stop the potential comments at once, showing he is quite serious at the moment, "we've had it in our heads to pin the Deathlords against themselves. An ambitious goal; one that has proven to be quite complicated. I propose a trip to the Blessed Isle. I feel we are underestimating the forces of the Realm. Our journeys have laid a path which seems to inevitably affect all of Creation. We cannot forget who lies at the center. If we can influence, or better, control the Realm. We will have a very large resource at our disposal. We may even want to consider using the Deathlords against the Realm in a more direct manner. They seem to shy away, controlling the outer territories. If they fight against the Realm, it will be weakened, a perfect time to pull the floor out from under them and watch them crumble."
"This may very well be true, Takara, and I for one would like to see the Realm... altered... as much as you, though perhaps of a different means. However, will we be mighty enough to stand then against the whole of the Deathlords as they crash against us? We are strong, yes.." She pauses, thinking about her words. "But we are not Incarnae.
"To twist the deathlords to more directly strike the Realm is akin to telling a group of tribesmen to fell a mammoth. They -will- manage to succeed, and there is nothing the mammoth is able to do, though it is large and mighty itself. And crushing the Realm, however useful it may be, is not a wise decision. Nor would I recommend us to rest inside said mammoth's belly."
She takes a sip of her drink, returning to thinking. She pipes up once more. "It's possible too that whomever sent the orb is testing us." Her fingers trail over the brim of her hat. It is in her lap, for once, not on her head, though decidedly still hers. "Not to say that that makes them our friend, or our enemy. Someone strikingly bothersome in either case."
"Before you two go much farther, note that the caravan had no need to activate it." Fern leans forward, extending an illustrative finger. "Soulbreaker orbs can be set ahead of time. That one might have been set the moment you left the Walker's palace. Proper adjustment of the timers takes considerable skill, I might add, and it is by no means obvious to the untrained eye whether or not they're set correctly. The Walker probably had one of his underlings trigger the orb, and the fellow miscalibrated it somehow."
Amber drops a catchphraseEdit
"True as that may be, let us be honest. Any foe plotting to destroy us with a specific artifact of any sort is obviously underestimating our prowess and ability. Artifacts are our specialty, especially now that you're back on board, Fern." Another pause. "Perhaps that is it, in fact. They are not anticipating that you are back with us. Or rather, they know you are not back with us, seeing as though we assisted in, ahem, killing you. Thus they are attempting to use that fact for their advantage, which makes them rather predictable, or at least easily prepared for."
Takara extends the analogyEdit
"Why would anyone try to kill us? I mean, us as we have appeared. With the exception of the Mask of Winters, everyone else thinks we are mercenaries; they don't know who we really are. We only killed Fern to prove that a) she wasn't our ally and b) to show we were not the Champions of the West. Ironically, if we're not acting as our false identities, we are in hiding from whoever may be trying to cause us harm, if that is the case.
"Amber, I don't think that analogy is not correct. Once the Realm is destroyed, the institution is still there. We have them bring the mammoth to its knees, subdue the tribesmen, then take the mammoth for ourselves to do our will. Alternatively, this could very well mean the mammoth..." Takara stops, rolls his eyes clearly thinking 'Fuck this analogy,' "This could mean the Realm thinks it is still in power to a degree, even if crippled when we're controlling it from the inside."
Amber is skepticalEdit
"You do realize the tribesmen are the deathlords, correct?"
Largo startles everyoneEdit
Largo rises from his seat, having heard enough. “I’d have to put my bets on the First and Forsaken Lion, in all honesty. Think about it; he was the one who tore Fern’s limbs off, he was the one who broke my scythe, he was the one who tried to raid our First Age tombs, and yet afterwards, we always ended up getting something out of it. At every turn, he seems to have pushed us away from the exact place we needed to go, when he could, and each time, we almost waltzed past. I think that he’s been “supporting” us this entire time, attempting to mask it as animosity. What’s to say that he hasn’t tossed this to us as a present for trying to pit the Mask of Winters and Walker in Darkness against each other?” He grimaces at the thought of a Deathlord ally, but continues. “He knows our intentions and thinks that he’ll win out in the end, so he thinks that helping us will bring us closer to the endgame.” Largo paces a bit, then turns around. “See where I’m coming from?”
Fern is uncertainEdit
Fern's eyebrows make a concerted break for her hairline. She steeples her fingers and hums low in her throat. "Yes... I see where you're coming from. I'm reluctant to follow you there, if only because the idea of a Deathlord ally is one of the more bizarre things I've heard recently, and that is saying something. On the other hand, we already have at least one ally among the Yozis... I'm willing to consider bizarre things, when they conform so eerily well to the evidence at hand.
"That said, giving us this orb -- if he assumes we use it for anything like its intended purpose -- can only play right back into his hands. It's a tool of mass murder, after all. Unless the Lion thinks I can repurpose it, of course, which is not at all out of the question..."
Considering this last, she settles back into her chair, fingers still steepled, half-smiling. You recognize the signs of a Fern happily immersed in a technical problem.
"Well, Largo, I think you know how I feel about bringing things closer to a proverbial Endgame," she smirks. "But I'm not entirely certain that he's acting out of kindness if it is his action. Perhaps Fern is correct in that he intends us to use it in some traditional fashion. Of course, he does not know that you are alive." She turns to Fern, giving her a nod. "Altering the function of the Orb is paramount. It's that or destroy it, and I would hate to do such a thing to a gift, no matter how unintended." Another sip of her drink, the tea growing cold. "Mm. Though, I would not be against another ally amongst the deathlords, even in face value only. Such things are wonderful tools, though they do not make tools of their members."
Largo is displeasedEdit
"I never meant to suggest that he was giving it to us out of kindness. He thinks he is using us, and so he thinks he is simply giving us the means to accomplish HIS goals, however they may coincide with ours..." He growls with displeasure. "Unfortunately, aside from the Silver Prince, he is the one Deathlord we have had the most contact with…" Largo gives Shahra a pat on the head, "And he is the easiest to reach..."
Amber attempts sarcasmEdit
"So what are you saying we do, Largo? Just call him up and go 'Pip pip, cheerio, thanks for the gift, ta'?" She purses her lips. "Well, probably not in those words.."
Takara snipes itEdit
"Amber, I was thinking along those exact lines. I liked to be direct in matters and quite plainly, it will tell us how he plays into this by his reaction, if at all. Besides, I've never met the guy."
Takara lights another hand-rolled cigarette.
"Fern, how might the Orb be altered? That alone could very much direct our next course of action."
He looks around the room, surveying everything. "Did Kai sleep through her alarm again?"
Fern startles out of her reverie. "You want to do what? Have you lost your minds completely? Just because he's propping us up covertly does not mean he won't kill us all if we try to call him out." She gives a frightened little parody of a laugh. "If I'm to replace any more limbs, I want to do so on my own terms." Her right hand clenches on her knee, wrapping around the implanted sphere of the replacement joint. The fingers flex and release in a nervous, shaky rhythm.
After a moment, she manages to reassert her self-control. "Right. The orb. It will be easiest to repurpose it into something approximating its original function -- soul manipulation on a very large scale." She starts ticking off possibilities on her fingers. "I could, for instance, keep its effects the same, change the target -- say, render living beings immune and have it shred ghost corpus or gods' bodies instead of souls anchored to mortal flesh. I could use it to destroy only hun souls with no po attached, attacking hungry ghosts and the walking dead.
"With more time, effort, and materials, I could remove its destructive tendencies. It could be turned to some form of mass mind control. I could change its blast so that it artificially bolsters the will or Essence-manipulating ability of everyone in the radius... It may even be possible to use it to awaken mortal Essence," she muses, quirking an intrigued eyebrow. "Assuming we're willing to deal with the resulting chaos, of course. Hmm.. The effects would probably be temporary, but if... Oh! And perhaps -- it would break new ground, and the Silurians would be apoplectic -- oh, goodness, it could even become an enormous attempt at Abscissic binding! Thousands of demons or elementals, all in the same five-mile radius, bound at once..."
She trails off into excited magitechnobabble, sketching diagrams in the air.
Character Thoughts and ReactionsEdit
Followed by Session Forty-Three, TBA