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  1. Brightness Kareana sat with her head between her hands, muttering quietly to herself. So few remained after the bloodshed of the recent nights, with the Radiants taking matters into their own hands, failing more often than not. Now there were three senior Radiants left besides her; a far cry from the twenty-four she had started with, and populated with at least one traitor. She figured that she would be dead already if more than one of them had been working with Odium, yet the clandestine murders at night continued, Kir stabbed in his sleep, so the scouting party was by no means free of evil influences. The Breakaway seemed to be shielded against Re-Shephir’s shadows, or at least they had not ventured into her domain yet, so one of Cadamum, Adi or Adhom Inem was still responsible for the murders. Kareana frowned. It would not be too difficult to kill all three. She had blackbane in her bag, and the Radiants were notorious tea drinkers. It would be a simple matter of slipping some into everyone’s portion, guaranteeing she was the only one left after the mess the scouting party had been. A few now-terrified scribes and mostly terrified soldiers remained, and they had the data Dalinar wanted. If she were able to expunge the remaining lackey of Odium and get Radiant reinforcements from properly vetted men, it would be a step in the right direction. Yet Adi and Cadamum were experienced Radiants, and Adhom Inem showed good potential; besides, she could hardly call herself honourable by avoiding a difficult decision by condemning the innocent with the guilty. And explaining what had happened to Dalinar would be...difficult. Approaching footsteps clicked on the stone tiles, and Kareana lifted her head in time to see Adi trotting towards her, the same furrowed look of concentration and anxiety on her brow which she had had since the expedition began. Of the three senior Radiants, she trusted Adi the most; she had admitted to leaving a long glyph message in the rock the night Gilglin was murdered, and judging by its length and location she had done little else at the time; besides, she had a general air of honesty about her. The grooves of thought in her forehead were plowed particularly deep, though, and Kareana’s caring instincts took over. “What’s the matter, child?” she asked, sidling up next to her and studying her face. She was distraught, and it came through in her speech, which became scattered and broken. “I just know—later today—I’ll have to choose between—Cadamum and Adhom for who’s going to die—and I could end up picking the wrong one and dooming the world. What if I got it wrong, Brightness? Would I be reviled for—for what I did? How can we get out of this mess?” Kareana took Adi’s shoulders in a firm grip, but trembled internally. She had been thinking of how she was going to approach the situation, but what about the near-child upon which she was allowing their fate to be hung? She was shortsighted, at times. But she could not be here. “Listen, Adi. Your decision today, be it right or wrong, will not cause anyone to despise you, and if it does, that’s a reflection on them and not you. The Almighty won’t let us doom the world, and he’ll watch over you no matter how you choose. We came up here knowing there would be risk, yes?” Adi nodded tearfully. “Well, we’ve had to take those risks, and you’ve already won your share of them. You took it when you helped condemn Merinira. Almighty willing, the risk will be equally in our favour tomorrow. But even if it isn’t, we’ll still take it. Strength before weakness, child.” That straightened her up. Drying her tears, Adi nodded at Kareana. “Well, thank you, Brightness,” she said, pausing awkwardly as Kareana inclined her head in acknowledgement. Her voice trailed off. “Well...I’m going to find the other two now, if you’ll excuse me.” “Of course,” Kareana said softly. Watching the child make a bumbling retreat, she suddenly smiled. It was high time she took her own advice. She had been a bystander in the fighting amongst her Radiants for too long. Starting now, that would change. Grabbing a conventional broadsword and latching it to her belt, and taking one of the half-Shards from her pack which Dalinar had set up, she tailed the girl at a distance. This time, she would ensure that the aftermath of a decision would be strictly under her control. On the forty-fourth floor, Adhom Inem glared over the fire at Cadamum. He knew the man had to be the final Sympathiser to Odium. The girl was too innocent to have been going around murdering people, especially given that she had spent the night carving a message into a rock wall—what self-respecting murderer did that? Yet the four Radiant squires with them made the question of dispatching the man a much trickier one. Cadamum would be expecting the Surge of Division, and Adhom doubted an arrow or knife would be quick enough to pierce his defences, based on watching him fight in the past. Adhom gritted his teeth. He had to find a way to get at him! Yet there seemed to be no chink in his armour, at least in a public setting like this one. Lunging over the fire would certainly be effective if the two were alone, but the squires could easily arrest his progress if they had to. And perhaps it was best that the squires were there, or he’d have been dead a long time ago. Cadamum certainly hadn’t backed away from murder before, and with so few of them left now... A pair of running footsteps sounded in the hallway. Cadamum pivoted to face the door, giving Adhom a clear view of his exposed back. Yet two of the squires were watching him with eyes that radiated warning. For the first time, he felt seriously discomfited. Were they also with Odium? Or was the paranoid atmosphere of Urithiru simply seeping into his bones? Either way, he had cause for concern. The pattering stopped, and Adi appeared in the doorway, looking more concerned than usual. Understandably so, of course; she did not have the clarity afforded to him by the situation. However, he had come prepared to convince her, and immediately began launching into his explanation. Cadamum’s hands were creeping towards an array of daggers at his belt, and so he made it as quick as possible, trying to look Adi in the eye while keeping the other eye trained on the traitor's hands. It wasn’t easy, and the skeptical glances from Adi made it even more difficult. As he pled that Cadamum had been unable to prove he had not murdered, she finally silenced his explanations with a wave of her hand. Adhom felt sick. Was he being left to die? “If you don’t believe me,” he shouted, feeling a sudden burst of passion, who do you trust? Him?” He jabbed in the direction of Cadamum’s back with his knife. Adi bit her lip, blood trickling down her cheek. Suddenly, she snapped too. “I don’t trust either of you!” she yelled, drawing her knives. “You two sort this out! I can’t...I’m not condemning either of you!” Adhom’s heart sank. Not the answer he needed to hear. For his part, Cadamum grinned. “Suit yourself,” he said, and released the dagger in his hand. Adi yelped, jumping out of the doorway into the main hall as the dagger whizzed past her head. The four squires stirred, but the two Adhom had noted earlier were far faster, sinking their blades into the others. They died almost silently, their screams cut off by the steel sliding into their lungs. Looking up, he saw both Cadamum and his squires facing him. He was a powerful Radiant, but not that powerful. He would simply have to see how many of Odium’s scum he could take with him. Whirling, he went for Cadamum’s head, Lashing himself to the opposite wall for additional unexpected momentum. The Ghostblood seemed taken aback, barely moving himself out of the way of the oncoming blade, and Adhom felt a hint of satisfaction as the edge of his sword skirted along the other man’s shoulder, drawing blood. The satisfaction was short-lived, however, as Cadamum’s own sword came with impressive speed at his own head. Too disoriented from the Lashing to effectively move, it hit true, and Adi’s quickly retreating figure was the only Loyal Radiant remaining in the expedition. Adi flew down the hallway as fast as her legs could carry her, away from whatever Cadamum and his men were doing in there. Adhom Inem was likely already dead, and she was the only one left who could warn Kareana and get her to stop their threat before it was too late. Internally, she berated herself for her stupidity. How difficult could it have been to just choose? But you had to go and choose the wrong person, and doom us all! Kareana would be furious when she heard what had happened. Or perhaps she’d be understanding. It could be hard to tell with that woman, at times, but right now she was the Radiants’ best hope. As she turned a corner, still sprinting doggedly, a silhouette jumped into her vision from behind the wall, and she screamed, awkwardly braking but still slamming into the mail-plated Kareana and falling to the paving-stones. The brightlady was taken aback, but maintained her footing, pulling Adi to her feet. “You gave me a fright there, child. What’s the matter?” Too exhausted to cry at the memory, Adi related her tale. Kareana’s lips tightened as she related the betrayal of the squires, and she sighed at Adhom’s death. “There was nothing you could have done by staying, Adi, though I wish things had gone otherwise. It’s too late to berate ourselves for our blunders at this point, and our best hope is isolating the squires and killing them, then dealing with Cadamum. Do you figure the three are still on the forty-fourth floor?” “Probably,” Adi replied, wiping the blood from where it had run down her cheek and turning down the passage where she had come from. “At least one would be, to watch for my return, probably. Though they probably think you’re still holed up in the Breakaway—I know I did, or I’d have had you help.” “That's not exactly excellent news,” Kareana said grimly, “but Ellira and Errdal can probably hold the Breakaway for now if they have to. If they don’t expect me, we can probably scatter them here. But I’ll need your help. You will be required here, Adi—I can’t watch my back for those shadows without you, and it’s high time you started striking at these false Radiants now that they’ve unmasked themselves.” Adi breathed deeply, allowing Kareana’s words to sink in. “Okay,” she said, and peered around the doorframe leading to the forty-fourth floor. Her breath caught in her throat. Motioning Kareana to also look, she took in what she observed. Led by one of the squires she had seen earlier, a regiment of about four dozen of the shadowed figures was forming, oily black spears and shields and swords coalescing from seemingly nothing. A marching beat shook the floor, led by the back rank of shadows, which seemed to be the ones responsible for the discordant drumming reaching her ears. It was an impressive force, given that two or three of these shadows could give a Radiant trouble, and there were few of them left anyway. Ordinary soldiers would be hopeless against such a force. The squire motioned, and the section pivoted, heading perpendicular to the doorway towards another point in the hall. Realisation flooded Adi with dread. “They’re heading for the lift system!” she hissed to Kareana, who only nodded grimly. “If they reach it, they’ll get the Breakaway, and cut off the Oathgate!” “Then we follow them!” Kareana replied, and pushed past Adi into the open chamber, producing her Shardblade. Bracing herself, Adi did the same, and charged after her mentor. She would make Cadamum pay for the deaths of her companions. Kareana charged out of the doorframe, swinging her Shardblade at the two nearest shadowed figures, who were taken aback. Their blades of shadow somehow managed to block Kareana’s initial wild strokes, but the neatly formed ranks collapsed, and consternation reigned in the chamber. Behind her, Adi had already speared a shadow with her Blade, and was fending off another with her dagger. She was awfully quick with it, and Kareana stopped worrying about her as she began having her own problems. Her Shardplate marking her as the greater threat, the shadows thronged around her, jabbing with spears and slashing with swords. Somehow, her Blade managed to intervene, chopping the weapons apart, and occasionally ending a shadowed form. Unlike what Errdal had reported, these units actually seemed to die, their essence in the Cognitive Realm disappearing entirely when she struck. Perhaps it was the cost of allowing the shadows to roam so freely far from Re-Shephir’s lair. Or perhaps it simply made them more dangerous—some of their weapons had blocked a Shardblade, after all. Setting to her task with renewed determination, Kareana struck out at the soldiers around her, not relying on the Blade’s destructive power as some did, but maintaining the forms she had been taught, and looking for the gaps in her enemy’s. A slice here, a thrust there, and the ranks began to collapse further, with perhaps half the shadows dead. Adi was making quick work of a group of three that came up behind her—was that Soulcasting the girl had used on that one shadow behind her? She was full of surprises, and good ones to boot. Cutting down two more figures in her way, Kareana renewed her charge, Adi in tow, aiming for the squire who led the group. They met halfway, blades clashing again, and Kareana left Adi to do most of the work with the shadows as Cadamum’s squire produced an aluminum sword. Easy to block a Shardblade with, and potentially deadly in the hands of a skilled user. Sparks flew as the blades met, and the remaining shadows surged, forcing Kareana back again. She gritted her teeth. How on Braize was she supposed to fight this many enemies at once conventionally? Adi was already desperately fending off a group of five shadows, which were wisely staying out of Blade range. That left her a dozen or so. There was nothing to be done, then, except use Surges. Breathing deeply from one of the two large gemstones she carried, she drew enough Stormlight for a low-powered Surge of Division, which pulsed out from her in a wave of heat and light. Adi gritted her teeth as her torso was burnt, but Kareana had no alternative. The shadows quaked as well, their forms loosening, and she wasted no time. Their cluster of attack was easy to hit with a Blade, and only one of the dozen escaped immolation. Kareana was pleased to see that none of Adi’s five were giving her trouble either. Grinning, she blocked the vengeful squire’s quick strike, twisting her Shardblade as she did so to cut off the vanguard of his sword. He back-pedalled, frantically attempting to escape the wheeling arc of light which Kareana’s blade had become, but he instead fell, tripping over an outcropping which a thousand years of crem buildup had magnified to many times its initial size. He stumbled forward, overbalancing, directly into Kareana’s thrust. Behind her, Adi swept the legs out from the final shadow, which crackled and dissipated into nothing. A sudden silence fell, broken only by the crackling of small fires that Kareana’s Surge had begun. That’s right, Adi’s injured! Kareana remembered, rushing over to the girl. “How badly were you burnt?” she asked, kneeling over her. “Not too badly,” she replied, “though I don’t know Progression, so you’ll have to take care of that.” Kareana winced. “I don’t exactly know it either,” she admitted, “so you’ll have to manage. Sorry.” The word felt odd in her mouth, especially to her subordinate, but it was also necessary—the girl had every right to be annoyed. “I had to scatter those things somehow so I could deal with the squire.” “It’s not an issue,” Adi replied. “Strength before weakness, as you say.” The ghost of a smile flickered across her face. “Come on, let’s use the lift to get back to the Breakaway. Walking off my injury will be best anyway, and I’m sure Errdal and Ellira want to know about this attack.” “Remind me again why we’re entering on this level?” Adi whispered, following Kareana off the lift onto the floor below the Breakaway. “If there’s a battle up there, we’d have heard it by now.” “I’m not worried about walking into a battle,” she retorted, “but walking into a battlefield where the shadows have already won. That’s a trap I’m not putting my leg in. I’d have obviously headed straight up if there was any commotion, because we’d need to help. But this situation calls for caution.” “D’you reckon anyone is left in the Breakaway that the shadows would care about?” Adi asked. While Errdal was a Shardbearer, and Ellira had shown herself to be eerily competent, neither were Radiant. And the Breakaway was a good distance away from the Oathgate platform, enough that there were entry points that were closer to the gates on the lift system. Of course, given how forces were amassing, Cadamum might have had enough of the shadowed warriors to destroy the Breakaway with one group and secure the Oathgate with another. Suddenly, Kareana’s concerns didn’t seem so far-fetched. She gulped. Was she going to have to fight those shadows again? Kareana had fallen silent beside her, and Adi turned to look at the woman. The same set and determined face as always looked out, the eyes iron with resolve. Yet her posture suggested only weariness. “Brightness, if you can’t make it through another one of these battles…” “No, child,” the reply came. “I will endure as many battles as I need to get everyone down to safety and warn Dalinar that Urithiru is inhabited by traitors and Odiumspren. Remember, we were placed on this mission because Brightlord Kholin thought us able to handle any potential dangers. That includes armies of ancient spren. Worry about your own health—you’ll need to if we get into another of these scrapes.” Adi nodded. “As you say, Brightness.” She glanced around the passageway, which was narrowing and starting to ascend. The familiar golden and blue strata here gave her hope—normally the Midnight Mother’s creations made those bleed to red or purple—but caution was still necessary. She squinting, casting her eyes into the distance, and to her surprise found a Shardblade-wielding figure already standing in the doorway. She nudged Kareana, who muttered assent. “I see him. Though I think that’s Errdal, judging by the stance.” As they drew closer, Adi saw with relief that it was indeed the Shardbearer who had accompanied Radler on that fatal expedition, in what seemed like so long ago. Had it really been less than a week? It seemed unthinkable that a party of traitors could wipe out their entire group that quickly. Though we certainly did enough of their work for them, she thought grimly, wincing at the memory of failed murders and executions. For his part, Errdal peered back, and Adi saw his knuckles tighten on his Blade, then loosen and dismiss the Shard when he saw them. “Kareana, Adi!” he exclaimed, smiling. “It is you two. I’d worried you were shadows coming up to attack us again.” Adi felt a spike of alarm, and Kareana’s eyebrow visibly rose. “Again?” they said, Kareana’s indignance mixing with Adi’s worry. “When?” demanded the other woman. “An hour or so ago, Brightness. After you and Adi left, they assaulted us, a group of maybe fifty—” “Four dozen,” Adi muttered. “—pouring through that gateway. The soldiers were shaken, and I was as well, but Ellira and I managed to rally them. They were harder to kill than in the chamber, I think, but the deaths seemed permanent.” “I felt the same, oddly enough. Casualties?” Kareana’s voice was certainly strained. “Five dead and seven wounded, mostly those caught unaware in the initial rush. A lot more are shocked, though, and barely survived the mental strain. Once we grouped up, they were easier to handle, though without my Shard and Ellira’s daggers…” His voice trailed off, and Kareana resumed. “Where is Ellira? Wasn’t she supporting you? I don’t fully trust that girl.” “I don’t either,” Errdal replied grimly, “but she’s had two chances to kill me in the middle of combat and hasn’t yet. I think she went—” Errdal’s next words were cut off as a resounding boom echoed throughout the chamber, then the marching beat of drums. Adi heard Kareana swear under her breath, and looked askance at the brightlady. Errdal wasted no time, however. “Get inside the Breakaway!” he yelled, shoving both women towards its entrance, and slamming the doors to the area behind him as the three sprinted through. Adi panted, her legs already exhausted, but Kareana pulled herself up. “We will hold this door,” she announced, raising her voice. “Every person not a Radiant, which should be everyone that was in this room five minutes ago, should exit immediately towards the Oathgate platform. That is an order. We will meet you there later. Am I clear?” Assent was murmured, scribes and soldiers making their way with various speeds towards the direction Kareana had indicated. A group of soldiers tried to approach Adi, clearly wanting to help despite knowing it was hopeless, but Kareana affixed them with an icy enough glare that they saluted, retreating back down the hall. Adi looked back at the door. The red and purple veins in the rock weren’t just spreading, they were creeping up the door, and approaching the handles. Drums shook her ears, and she winced, bracing herself against the onslaught that was to come. Darkness slowly suffocated the window slats, leaving only Kareana and Errdal’s Blades to cast thin rays of light about them. The chamber shuddered again, then lay still. Adi closed her eyes as the veins reached the handles, pulling on them with sudden force and strength. The doors flew open, and chaos began anew. The shadows always came first, Kareana decided as she watched the doors to the Breakaway physically crumble, and an army twice the size she and Adi had faced down earlier emerge from its depths. The squire here had evidently learned, and was in the far back, using his aluminum-coated blade to urge the thronging army into the Breakaway chamber. Plans of holding the doorway immediately evaporated upon the sudden onslaught of figures, and Kareana stood back-to-back with Adi and Errdal, almost unable to distinguish the oily figures from each other. Her Blade was again a wheel of light, albeit a slower one than last time, as there was no alternative to that fighting style even if it tired you quickly—whatever those shadows actually were, their weapons bit like real ones, and only by covering all of herself could she keep the hordes from simply crushing her. Behind her, Errdal did the same, though less defensively, and Adi continued awkwardly squished between the two of them, yet still picking off unwary shadows and deflecting stray blows which threatened to hit the Shardwielders. Kareana had to admit to herself, even as she again fought for her life, that she had two of the bravest companions she’d had the privilege of fighting with. Errdal fearlessly took the offensive with his Blade, striking at the shadows in the gaps between their weapons and shields, and forcing them into an awkward defensive, while Adi seemed to find it nothing to throw herself between a blade and one of her companions to save them. She had already blocked Kareana from being hit twice, and had managed with her spear-work and small manoeuvrability to avoid damage. Yet it was undeniable that they were losing. The second wave of shadows slammed in after the first, the disarmed and limbless replaced by fresher and stronger forces, if the concepts of strength and energy could be said to apply to the constructs. Some of these had what looked to be pikes, and were staying out of Shardblade range, forming into a ring around the encircled defenders, behind the sword-wielding constructs which still hacked away. Kareana winced, seeing what was about to happen seconds before it did, yet unable to use Division to prevent it without outright killing her companions in the process. That didn’t stop her from unleashing a concentrated storm on the figures in front of her, however, which crackled to pieces against the blast of fire and wind. Then the ring closed, the ordinary soldiers receding to make room for the charge, and Kareana saw several things happen at once. Most immediately, in front of her, were four pikemen with their spears levelled at her chest. Division would be too slow, and an ineffective blast was more of a risk to Adi than a help to her. So she rolled out, ducking beneath the long spears and swinging her Blade, watching in satisfaction as all four figures jerked and died. However, a mass of shadows immediately filled the space between her and Adi, leaving the girl stranded with Errdal as the rest of the ring closed. Horrified, she let her guard drop for a brief moment, feeling her Shardplate suddenly double in weight as it cracked underneath the weapons of the shadows, but Kareana had eyes only for Errdal, whose lack of Plate had cost him dearly in the assault. Though his Blade had cleft nearly a dozen of the figures as he died, only one needed to get through, and now he lay prone on the floor, gazing with sightless eyes at the ephemeral pike protruding through his chest. Adi, to her credit, was facing off well against the crowd of shadows, ignoring Errdal’s corpse and using her energy to frantically block the jabbing spears and blades of her enemies. She had only moments, though. Snapping out of her reverie, Kareana let her Shardplate, which felt only like lead, drop to the floor, cutting the straps with her dagger which she held in her safehand. Making wide sweeps with the Blade to clear room for herself, Kareana beckoned Adi over, and the child hurriedly disengaged from the group she was fending off. Kareana was pleased to see that the crowd of shadows had thinned, returning to perhaps slightly more than the fifty or so she had encountered earlier. However, combined with the squire, who was approaching the rapidly tiring women like a circling whitespine, she wondered if the two of them could take on such a force. Cutting down two more shadows with her Blade, and watching as Adi Soulcast four more into oblivion, Kareana resumed the grim battle, feeling her arms grow more tired with each stroke. Next to her, Adi was flagging as well. “Can’t give up—now,” she grunted, darting her sword into another figure, which collapsed. “Life before—death. We can’t—leave things as they are now—we can’t die yet.” Kareana laughed, feeling Adi’s confidence infuse her with a burst of fresh energy. Spinning, she caught another shadow’s weapon, sending it flying into a neighbour. “You speak well, Radiant. We will hold this yet.” She only wished she was as confident as she sounded. With the squire drawing ever closer to them, and the shadows continuing to die, it would be only a matter of time before the deciding move was made. Half a minute and five more dead shadows later, as both Adi and Kareana continued bleeding in multiple places, she was proven correct. The squire raised his arm, and the shadows all disengaged, retreating to behind him. Walking forward, he addressed Kareana. “You put up a brave resistance against the Lord Odium. Surrender now, and he may deign to spare your immaterial lives. We are always looking for new servants.” A humourless smile touched his lips. “Or you may die here, exhausted and overwhelmed. It is your choice.” Kareana spat at the ambassador's feet, and he recoiled, glaring at the brightlady. “Very well, then,” he responded. “Death it is.” Without warning, the shadows attacked with renewed vigour, pressing Kareana back against the wall of the enormous chamber. Adi stayed beside her, but she was having to contend with the human squire at the same time, who was far more skilled than the shadowed copycats. A resounding clamour could easily be heard every time the two clashed blades, the squire’s heavy overhand strokes forcing Adi to her knees, holding her sword above her in a desperate attempt to ward off the blows. Beside her, where Kareana’s Blade could not reach in time, a shadow stabbed, its spear entering Adi’s side and causing the girl to scream in pain. Fighting for her own life, Kareana could only watch as Adi’s sword fell from numb fingertips, and the squire’s blade swept in one last motion, cleaving the head of the last member of the expedition loyal to Dalinar. So I really am alone, then. Odium has already won. No. She would not—could not—accept that. She screamed in rage, unleashing a Surge of Division almost unconsciously—with no allies for her to hit, it worked wonderfully as intended, the squire hissing in pain and the shadows shuddering, as they had before. Kareana took the opportunity to lay about her with her Blade, and the very advantage of the compact group when assailing her now became a liability as strokes killed five at a time. The shadows that could quickly retreated, once more making a ring around the squire. There were a mere handful left, at least compared to the numbers she had faced down earlier, but her body was screaming in pain, particularly her arms. She was definitely too old to be carousing around fighting Odium’s spawn. But as Adi had said, there was no choice. It was in the First Ideal from the beginning. Life before death. Strength before weakness. So she did the only logical thing for any outnumbered and exhausted force to do: charge. The squire was unfazed, meeting her Shardblade with the aluminum-coated rapier he held. It had a strangely heavy weight to it, if that wasn’t simply her torpid arm speaking for her. The shadows seemed to stay back, refusing to engage with her. A duel, then. That’s the fairest odds I’ve been offered all day. The squire parried with a vengeance, his thin blade whipping around to strike at Kareana’s exposed sides. Off-balance, she tried to pivot away, but had slowed too much from sheer exhaustion, and she felt cold steel pierce her upper leg. Groaning but staying upright, she swung weakly at the man’s exposed head, but he ducked easily as he withdrew the Blade. One, two, powerful strokes, and Kareana felt her Blade drop, her fingers reverberating with the clash of the metals. Looking up at the Sympathiser, who was clearly relishing his victory, she felt her heart speed up as he drew back to plunge his sword into her. My heart is speeding up. It seemed like such an odd detail to latch onto when she was about to die, but it was somehow important. Ten heartbeats. My Blade... The sword moved forward, but Kareana was faster, a final burst of energy allowing her to roll beneath the thrusting blade and stand on the other side, summoning the Blade through the back of the squire. He fell without a word. Kareana hit the ground before the last shadow had completed its screech of death, skewered on the end of her Shardblade. She had never felt so utterly exhausted in her life. And yet I must keep going, she reminded herself. There's a whole room of non-Radiants waiting to be slaughtered if you don’t act! Overcoming the sluggishness of her brain, she tried to get up, and found that one of her legs felt like lead, and that the other was numb. Odd, that—there had been sharp pain there before. She looked down, and saw blood still oozing from it in a thin red trickle. Well, it was little wonder she was in no state to be moving around. Suddenly, she began laughing. There she was, the victor and only survivor of a great battle, and she could not lift a leg to help herself. Brightness Kareana, Captain Radiant, Shardwielder, warrior, force of nature, lay prone and useless. Heedless of Errdal and Adi’s corpses, she laughed, unable to process the ridiculousness of the situation, laughed until her sides began hurting and she was gasping for air. After a good minute, however, she began sobering up, her breaths coming more evenly and slowly than the shuddered gasps she had been taking. A sudden pain in her bad leg flared, then subsided. She looked down, and saw her wounds close, her dizziness subside, and fresh energy flow through her veins. Standing with ease yet with wonder, Kareana looked down into her pouch, and saw with horror that almost an entire gemstone had been drained. Well, apparently I lied to Adi when I said I didn’t have Progression. Though it only works on myself? Either way, this was probably the greatest gift she could have been given—perhaps there would be no Stormlight left after the first trip, and perhaps she would remain stuck at the top, but there would be no usage of the Oathgate if she was lying half-dead in the Breakaway. Thank you, Almighty, she prayed, and ran with renewed vigour for the doorway leading to the Oathgate platform, taking care to put the sack of gemstones behind her to avoid accidentally inhaling more Stormlight. With happiness, she noted that her assistants were already well ahead, as she was unable to see them, and she blessed the Almighty again for unthinking obedience. It wasn’t always ideal, but here it had saved many lives. Making the final turn into the Oathgate complex, she was greeted by two jumpy soldiers, who brandished their spears at her before studying her face. “Brightness!” one exclaimed, dropping his aggressive stance. “You’re here! Where did the others go?” “They’re dead,” said Kareana simply. That sobered the room up, and silence fell among the chatting scribes. “And we all will be soon, if we don’t use this opportunity to get away. Klavin!” “Brightness?” a young soldier asked, stepping forward. He was barely old enough to shave, Kareana mused, but he had a cool head about him, and she had observed him calming the troops earlier after the first attack. He’d hold them together for long enough, and had an ordered mind to remember what he was told. She began again. “You get a battlefield promotion to second-in-command, now that all my Radiants are dead. Lead this group after you arrive in the Shattered Plains to Dalinar’s tent immediately, and tell him that Urithiru has been overrun by the servants of Odium, led by a man named Cadamum. Brightlord Kholin and his forces are to avoid the city, particularly the thirty-eighth floor, until he has a trained, powerful and trustworthy group of Radiants to reclaim it. Within the scribes’ notes is everything we know about the city. I, Kareana, testify to this report and its accuracy, and am not giving this in person in order that I might defend the Oathgate from above. Do you have all that?” Klavin’s face was knitted in concentration. “Yes, Brightness,” he said hesitantly. “Repeat it back to me.” He did, and switched only two words. Kareana was impressed, correcting him and having him lead the dishevelled party onto the platform, Vamah’s sorry regiment forming a ring around the distraught scribes. It was unlikely to do much good if they were attacked, but it was better than nothing. As they filed up, one of the scribes tapped Kareana’s shoulderplate. “What about Ellira, Brightness?” she asked. Damnation alive, that girl! Kareana felt like screaming at someone, probably herself, but she kept her face straight, though her lips were drawn in a thin line. “She’ll have to find her way here, or help me hold the shadows back at the top. I’m not responsible for her wanderings. If she chose to disobey my commands, I can only assume suspicious motives. We’ll wait a bit, I suppose, but time is precious here, and I can only countenance so much delay.” “You will not need to tolerate much more, Brightness,” a voice came from behind her, and Kareana spun around. Ellira stood there, a smug expression on her face, and Kareana began to wonder if she had wanted the girl back after all. Indigo Weasel (Adhom Inem) was lynched! He was a Loyal Knight Radiant Worldhopper! Violet Axolotl (Adi) was killed! She was a Loyal Knight Radiant Worldhopper! Errdal was killed! He was a Loyal Shardbearer! You will discover the ultimate fates of Kareana, Ellira and Cadamum after El finishes her section of the writeup. After a few delays, AG6/AN7 is over, and Odium’s Sympathisers have triumphed yet again! Congratulations to Quartz Zebra, Ivory Dragonfly, Plum Rhinoceros, Scarlet Octopus, Saffron Iguana and Salmon Meerkat for engineering a narrow late-game victory. Please DO NOT log out of your anonymous accounts yet, or post with your regular ones in this thread (though you are free to, and are indeed encouraged to talk with your anon account). Identity will still be presumed to be anonymous as we vote for the annual dissemination of non-Sanderson passes. This year, the passes (of which there are three) should go to the individuals who exhibited a consistent dedication to and engagement with the game by, for instance, engaging people in PMs, being an active or frequent participant in the thread, using their CRs and sticking with RP, etc. Everyone who participated in the game (so yes, Toucan will get two votes from the original and the pinch-hitter) will submit a ranked list of five people in their GM PM who they believe to have best exhibited these qualities, or otherwise demonstrated a desire or ability to maintain and encourage thread activity. You have until 9:00 PM EDT on Saturday 25 January (so about three and a half days) to submit or modify this list. At the end of that time, El and I will use the STV (Single Transferable Vote) system to select the top three players, who will be awarded a pass to run a non-Sanderson game. Thanks to everyone for playing, and tolerating your slow GM as he constructs an overly long final scene. While I’ll give most of my final thoughts after voting has taken place, I’ll note quickly that the post count on this AG was lower, but I think each person was able to stay at least somewhat engaged over the course of the game, which was wonderful to see—outright inactivity was very low. And I loved all the RP, especially the people who took it beyond the first few cycles. Expect my next game to have some kind of minor reward built-in for that, as it was fun to read and then later kill you in a manner more befitting your character. Final playerlist to be posted with correct identities after voting is over. Some doc links for those who want them: Eliminator Doc (The Knights Errant) Spectator/Dead Doc (The Tranquiline Halls) Master Spreadsheet (forthcoming) Thanks again to everyone for playing and providing an awesome start to SE’s new year. We couldn’t do these games without you.
  2. StrikerEZ was lynched! They were a Traitor with a vest item. Kidpen has been attacked and killed! They were a Loyal with a knife item. Village wins! You have caught all of the traitors! Player List: This game ended up way more complex than I intended originally. I wish I could've given it the proper time. I'm very sorry everyone for all the delays and the huge pause at the end of the game. Life handed me some hard crap and then I got really busy irl. I hope you all still had fun. Thank you for bearing with me and being active. I want to finish all the story when I get the chance. I just couldn't go any longer without putting up the results for you. I've felt so horrible about it. Thank you so much for playing!
  3. MR38: The Council of Elrond The light of the clear autumn morning was now glowing in the valley. The noise of bubbling waters came up from the foaming river-bed. Birds were singing, and a wholesome peace lay on the land. Elrond rang the warning bell, announcing that the Council would be starting soon. The faces around him were grave, and right to be so. The situation was far more dire than he wished it to be, but it seemed that such was ever the fate of Middle-Earth. At last, the ring bearer arrived, and Elrond bade them sit on his right in a place of honor. With every seat now filled, he rose to his feet, and the chamber fell silent. `You have all done well to come,' said Elrond. `You will hear today all that you need in order to understand the purposes of the Enemy, and how he has brought about the troubles which called you here. There is naught that you can do, other than to resist, with hope or without it. But you do not stand alone. You will learn that your trouble is but part of the trouble of all the western world. The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring, the least of rings, the trifle that Sauron fancies? That is the doom that we must deem. `That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say. though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world. `Now, therefore, things shall be openly spoken that have been hidden from all but a few until this day. And first, so that all may understand what is the peril, the Tale of the Ring shall be told from the beginning even to this present. And I will begin that tale, though others shall end it.' Then all listened while Elrond in his clear voice spoke of Sauron and the Rings of Power, and their forging in the Second Age of the world long ago. A part of his tale was known to some there, but the full tale to none, and many eyes were turned Elrond in fear and wonder as he told of the Elven-smiths of Eregion and their friendship with Moria, and their eagerness for knowledge, by which Sauron ensnared them. For in that time he was not yet evil to behold, and they received his aid and grew mighty in craft, whereas he learned all their secrets, and betrayed them, and forged secretly in the Mountain of Fire the One Ring to be their master. But Celebrimbor was aware of him, and hid the Three which he had made; and there was war, and the land was laid waste, and the gate of Moria was shut. Then through all the years that followed he traced the Ring; but since that history is elsewhere recounted, even as Elrond himself set it down in his books of lore, it is not here recalled. For it is a long tale, full of deeds great and terrible, and briefly though Elrond spoke, the sun rode up the sky, and the morning was passing ere he ceased. Of Númenor he spoke, its glory and its fall, and the return of the Kings of Men to Middle-earth out of the deeps of the Sea, borne upon the wings of storm. Then Elendil the Tall and his mighty sons, Isildur and Anárion, became great lords; and the North-realm they made in Arnor, and the South-realm in Gondor above the mouths of Anduin. But Sauron of Mordor assailed them, and they made the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, and the hosts of Gil-galad and Elendil were mustered in Arnor. 'The Last Alliance was victorious, yet it did not achieve its end. Sauron was diminished, but not destroyed. His Ring was lost but not unmade. The Dark Tower was broken, but its foundations were not removed; for they were made with the power of the Ring, and while it remains they will endure. Many Elves and many mighty Men, and many of their friends. had perished in the war. Anárion was slain, and Isildur was slain; and Gil-galad and Elendil were no more. Never again shall there be any such league of Elves and Men; for Men multiply and the Firstborn decrease, and the two kindreds are estranged. And ever since that day the race of Númenor has decayed, and the span of their years has lessened. 'In the North after the war and the slaughter of the Gladden Fields the Men of Westernesse were diminished, and their city of Annúminas beside Lake Evendim fell into ruin; and the heirs of Valandil removed and dwelt at Fornost on the high North Downs, and that now too is desolate. Men call it Deadmen's Dike, and they fear to tread there. For the folk of Arnor dwindled, and their foes devoured them, and their lordship passed, leaving only green mounds in the grassy hills. 'In the South the realm of Gondor long endured; and for a while its splendour grew, recalling somewhat of the might of Númenor, ere it fell. High towers that people built, and strong places. and havens of many ships; and the winged crown of the Kings of Men was held in awe by folk of many tongues. Their chief city was Osgiliath, Citadel of the Stars. through the midst of which the River flowed. And Minas Ithil they built, Tower of the Rising Moon, eastward upon a shoulder of the Mountains of Shadow; and westward at the feet of the White Mountains Minas Anor they made, Tower of the Setting Sun. There in the courts of the King grew a white tree, from the seed of that tree which Isildur brought over the deep waters, and the seed of that tree before came from Eressëa, and before that out of the Uttermost West in the Day before days when the world was young. `But in the wearing of the swift years of Middle-earth the line of Meneldil son of Anárion failed, and the Tree withered, and the blood of the Númenoreans became mingled with that of lesser men. Then the watch upon the walls of Mordor slept, and dark things crept back to Gorgoroth. And on a time evil things came forth, and they took Minas Ithil and abode in it, and they made it into a place of dread; and it is called Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery. Then Minas Anor was named anew Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard; and these two cities were ever at war, but Osgiliath which lay between was deserted and in its ruins shadows walked. 'So it has been for many lives of men. But the Lords of Minas Tirith still fight on, defying our enemies, keeping the passage of the River from Argonath to the Sea. And now that part of the tale that I shall tell is drawn to its close. For in the days of Isildur the Ruling Ring passed out of all knowledge, and the Three were released from its dominion. But now in this latter day they are in peril once more, for to our sorrow the One has been found. Others shall speak of its finding, for in that I played small part.' Then he fell silent, and the others began to tell their tales. Welcome to MR38! Housekeeping The game will begin Friday, November 8, at 8:00am Eastern Time. Cycles will last 47 hours and end at 7am Eastern, with the new cycle posted at 8. PMs: You may PM other players one-on-one so long as you include me. Group PMs are not permitted. Secrets: None Impartial Moderator: Contact @little wilson if you have any issues with the game. Lynch Rather than death, lynches (or 'elections') in this game result in the player elected being added to the Fellowship of the Ring. Upon election, their alignment will be revealed and they will be removed from the game. The game will end when seven members have been elected. Two votes on a player are required for an election to occur. A tied vote will result in all tied candidates being elected. If there are more players tied than seats left, RNG will be used to determine who fills the last slot(s). Alignment Free People of Middle-Earth: You have come to the Council of Elrond to ask counsel in these trying times, and have been asked to choose a Fellowship of the Ring to go east and destroy it forever. You win if the Corrupted have fewer than three members in the Fellowship at the end of the game. Corrupted Servants of Sauron: Perhaps you came to this Council, but the sight of the ring made you lust for its power. Perhaps you were already Sauron's before you set foot in Rivendell. Either way, you want the Ring, and will not let it be destroyed. You win if there three or more of your members are elected to the Fellowship. You have a private doc in which to communicate, but no kill - instead, you may nullify one player's vote as a group action. (This will be revealed in the vote count, including their name missing.) (Numbers are subject to change based on player count.) Cosmetic Roles This game is intended to be focused on RP, so below are listed some possible roles to get you started. Please let me know if you know you won't RP at all - you're perfectly welcome, and I'll have free reign over those characters in writeups. (You RPing would be better if you can, though!) There is no prize for using these roles, but you are encouraged to do so! We aren't using strict LotR canon (obviously), so feel free to make up your own story as to why you're here. (Eg, if someone wants the Ringbearer to be a dwarf, go for it! I don't care. ) Ringbearer: The One Ring hangs heavy around your neck. Through great peril, you've brought it here at last. Now you have been granted a respite from your travel, and are enjoying the peace and beauty of Rivendell. The Ring tires you to keep, but you will go on if you must. (Note: Only one person may claim this role, for obvious reasons. ) Ringbearer's Companion: You came here with the Ringbearer, defended them against danger beyond your dreams, and you're incredibly relieved to be safe at last. You worry for the health of the Ringbearer if they keep the Ring, but will follow them to the ends of the world if you can. Clandestine Attendee: You aren't supposed to be in this Council. You're currently hiding and watching, hoping no one spots you, but the stories being told are too fascinating to keep away! (Note: this role can stack with most others.) Ranger: You protect the Northern lands from the evils that stir in the dark. You are here because wicked things have been growing more frequent and more deadly of late, and the Rangers may need help soon in stemming the tide. Heir Uncrowned: You are the descendant of Elendil, rightful heir to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. You bear Narsil which is broken, and fate has brought you here to play a role which you do not yet know. (Note: again, best that this is only one person.) Dwarf of Moria: You, somehow, managed to escape the terror that is in Moria. You have come to tell of how that terror has been awoken again, and because you did not know where else to go. Dwarf of the Lonely Mountain: You come from Dain who leads the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain. Life has become more troubled of late, with dark things happening - perhaps a messenger of Sauron appearing, even. Elrond's Council: You live here, in Imladris, and have proven your wisdom over the centuries to Elrond. You are here for your wisdom, for Elrond trusts you and values your counsel. Man of Gondor: Something compelled you to come here, perhaps a vision or a dream. All you know is that here your questions will be answered, and perhaps you can find help as well. Gondor has been attacked in greater numbers of late, and Mordor is active again. You hold for now, but you know you cannot last forever. First Finder: You don't hold the Ring at the moment, but you are the one who found it first, and held it for many years before passing it on and coming to live in Rivendell. You feel a bit of obligation, now - you started this, you ought to finish it. Elf of Lorien: You have come from Galadriel in Lothlorien, bearing a message from her of great import. In her wisdom, she sees many things, and her knowledge will be important to the Council. Elf of Mirkwood: You come from the Mirkwood, from Thranduil, with urgent tidings. Perhaps Gollum has escaped - perhaps something else! Elf from the Havens: You are from the far west, from Cirdan in the Grey Havens. You came to Imladris to talk with Elrond about sailing to the West, but are invited to this council for your wisdom. One of the Wise: You are a great being, long skilled in the arts of magic and power, and have fought Sauron since the dawn of time. You are the one who recognized the Ring for itself, and ensured it was brought here. Player List Quicklinks
  4. MR38: Cycle 1 - Who Will Take The Ring? Elrond looked at the council before him. If these are who must decide the fate of Arda, I truly hope that the strands of fate somehow twist them together that they can succeed, for I cannot see the way. Those scattered around the room were a motley collection. They had come from across Middle Earth: Kavan and Bombur spoke of Dale and the Lonely Mountain, and Phellom of troubles in Mirkwood. The Rangers, Beren Adaeldah and Striker, were no strangers to his sight, either. But the halfling Scar, the Ringbearer, was wild and strange to his sight. At least Astranwir the Blue was a comfort to him. Perhaps Saruman had been corrupted, but Astranwir had always been an aide and a friend. But aloud, he said, “The Ring must be sent to the Fire, to Mount Doom from whence it came. Some of you must do this. If we are agreed that it must be destroyed, then the only matter remaining is to choose the bearers. “It will be a path of greater peril than perhaps any of you have yet faced. Do not take this burden lightly. And should the quest go astray... Middle Earth may fall to Sauron forever.” He looked slowly around the chamber. “Who will do this?” MR38 has begun! GM PMs should be sent out within the next five minutes. (Writeup may get more added to it later.) Cycle 1 will last 47 hours, until 7am Eastern time. As a reminder, the lynch is different in this game. Please read the rules, they’re very short. PMs are open but must include me and only two players. Wilson has asked not to be included. Player List Good luck! EDIT: The numbers as originally stated in the rules are correct. The Fellowship has seven spots on it, and the Corrupted win if three spots are filled by its members.
  5. Welcome to LG53: The Fate of the Forum. This is a Semi-Blackout game of Spambots vs. Eliminators. Our dear Admin Chaos has given me the information about several Spammers who have infiltrated our forum, and are impersonating members of our community. He has tasked us with removing them. Luckily, we Eliminators have an advantage. We know all about the abilities of the Spammers, but the Spammers are unfamiliar with us. Spammer Roles: (Not all roles will be included) Vodiyehi: Has a script that can make thousands of posts per day. If Vodiyehi targets you, no one else will be able to do so. Only Votes and Lynches will be able to target a player. Babaji: Has access to Near Eastern magic that can inspire love or hate. If they target you with love, you will end up joining them. Luckily the cooldown for this is yearly, so they’ll only be able to get one of us before we get them. If they target you with Hate, you will die, no matter what. This can also only be used once. SookeSiled: Posts lots of corrupted URLs and infects computers. If they target you, everyone on the forum who didn’t use their computer will also target you that night. Beirst1928: Built one of the Best Firewalls known to man. Immune to everything except the Lynch. Temptation: Absolutely terrifying with Code. They get into the code and corrupt it. If they target you, your action will do exactly what you didn’t want. You will accidently ban a player instead of protect them. Or you will accidentally reveal your IP address instead of PM them. Or something. And then they will know what and who you are. Vashikaran: They’re rather good at deleting code, so if they target you, there is a good chance that your account will be temporarily disabled. The Spammers do have their own server to talk in, and as a group can get an account deleted every Weekend. I’ll be doing my best to hunt them down myself, so hopefully they won’t all be in play. But I will check in at 11:59 PM PST every Week to check who you guys have vote on, and that player will be banned. Mechanics and House Keeping: Open PM’s. Cycles are split into 2 Turns: Weeks which have a lynch, and Weekends when the Spammers get their Kill. Tied Lynches are decided at Random. At least 0 votes are needed for a lynch. Not all village roles are unique. Quick Links:
  6. LG33: Aftermath - Death (This was supposed to be put in a few turns ago but since I hadn’t done it until now, it might as well go here.) The Crockery stood bleak and cold on a sunny day in autumn, seeming to drain light from its surroundings. A solitary figure stole up to the building and knocked, making ripples of sound pass through the air, hollow and unheeded. “Yes?” the warden’s voice drawled. “Something for El’the Alveron, sir,” the voice replied softly. “Letter from his parents or something, not that he’ll be able to read it!” he snorted, and the warden laughed with him. “Come on, bring it in then,” the Warden said. “Mind your step, this way...” The Skindancer smiled, wearing a pretty little boy’s face, stolen off of the streets for the moment. Not like anyone would notice, or care. It followed the Warden down stone hallways, looking curiously around. It heard voices, coming through the walls all aroudn it. He even knew a few. Notable among them was Stryker Nox, whose voice was only recognisable through its unique timbre. Its words and tone were... “please, sir, help? I’m lost, I don’t know where I am. Can you help me? I’m lost...” It shook its head, moving onwards. Stryker might be recoverable someday, but unlike Locke, his insanity was fullblown and unusable to them, for the moment. Locke was the focus here. The Warden stopped and chose a ring without even loking at his ring of seemingly identical keys. He inserted it with a loud, metallic click into the door, and opened it cautiously. “Ah, come to rescue me from this poor excuse for a prison cell?” a voice drawled in a perfect, haughty nobleman’s tone. The Skindancer smirked. Locke had never liked his Cealdish body, and his mind had gotten a little confused in the transfer, so he simply remained very, very Vintish. “Letter from your parents, sir,” it said, hoping Locke would recognise him. Locke went still, then turned to meet its eyes. He nodded, once. Then he slapped his hand on the table. “Well? Bring it here, boy. I won’t get up on the whim of a servant boy!” It put the letter on the table, hesitating for a moment. The letter wasn’t important, of course. Locke had... a gift, perhaps, if one could call it that. His creation of insanity was focused, shaped. If played precisely the right way, he could shape others to his ends for a time, before anyone noticed they were insane. The price, unfortunately, was a bit of his own sanity. All Locke needed was for the Warden to enter the cell, pulling the Skindancer away from Locke. “Don’t go getting too- uuungh,” he said, eyes rolling up in his head. Locke glanced imperiously at the Skindancer, who backed away quickly, and then crouched over the Warden. “I am Vintish,” he said, words dropping unnaturally heavily from his mouth. “I am not insane, and deserve to be freed. I have far more power than you, and it would benefit you to release me.” He smirked and spoke normally to the other Skindancer. “See you in a couple days. Show yourself out, would you?” It grinned back and ducked out the door, soon skipping down the steps of the Crockery and into the world again, with nary a soul the wiser. After that, things started going downhill. Locke emerged, of course, victorious. But he found the University still, and quiet. Only a few students even attending anymore, so many were insane, dead, or expelled. In fact, he soon came to realise that he was the only non-Master at the school left. That wasn’t useful at all. He needed other students, people who would follow him, who weren’t ostracised or insane. And those were difficult to find. Naturally, they could still try to simply make everyone else go insane, but that was boring, and Locke preferred dramatic plans. Besides, the still-alive students were getting warier, staying in their homes and buying irritating amounts of protection. Finally, the last straw came. Cluny had been doing his best to keep Locke sane and on track, and reining in his megalomania. When Cluny, too, died... Well. Things got interesting. Locke was still an El’the, after all. And a Sympathist, too. Doors began to be stuck shut and unopenable but by carving holes through them. There were holes in the floor leading down to nothingness, fires bursting out of nowhere, water pouring from a solid ceiling in the middle of a meeting of the Masters. No one seemed to care, though. Or not enough. They were all in Imre, partying and not paying a whit of attention to the University. Well, except Chalks, who had wandered out when the Warden went completely insane and unlocked every prime-numbered door. (Fortunately, most of them were empty.) So Locke decided to be dramatic. On a cloudless night, one of the last warm days of fall, a barge sailed slowly down the river and moored just near the bridge in Imre. Every riverside tavern was full to bursting with expelled students and townsfolk celebrating the recent lack of deaths (mostly because they wanted an excuse to celebrate, in all honesty), but the river itself was dark and still. A glimmering was seen in the night. Or would have been, if anyone had been paying enough attention to notice. But no. No one noticed until the first boom split the air, and a stream of sparks soared high into the sky, heralding the golden outline of... a letter. L. Those who weren’t too drunk to do so rushed outside at the urging of their friends, staring up at the lines hanging in the sky. There was another boom, and another letter rose up in a stream of golden sparks. O. R. They stared up at the letters slowly joining the first L (which wasn’t even fading yet). LORD LOCKE ALVERON Then the letters exploded and blinded everyone looking at them on the riverfront, just for entertainment. There was, in fact, one sober person in the entire riverfront, who was shaking her head at the antics of the fireworks. “I think this has gone on rather enough,” she commented to the assassin sitting next to her, eating ice cream. “I’d rather agree,” he said, smiling. At first he’d been such a closedmouth boring person, but Dele had eventually gotten him to open up like she eventually did for anyone she came into contact with. “Be a dear and go deal with him, mister?” she asked. “Usual payment, plus smoothies afterwards!” The assassin laughed, looking down at the petite little heiress. At first, putting up with her antics had only been a necessary burden, but he was growing to enjoy them. “Smoothies it is,” he agreed, hoisting himself to his feet. “Mind giving me a lift?” She giggled and waved her fingers at him, speaking Wind through a mouthful of ice cream. He grinned, feeling the wind whisking him ofrom the ground. He absolutely loved this feeling of flying. When he touched down on the stones of the University, Locke was only just returning from his little expedition. He’d cleaned up - couldn’t bear to have the stench of soot and grime on him. It would not do for a nobleman to appear less than perfect. He’d decided, in any case, that that would be his grand finale for here. Once he left, the University would be entirely ruined, without a single student, and while it would recuperate, that would take months or years. And Locke had a different plan. Something far more important. He’d packed his bas last night, and soon enough he woul dbe off to Vint, to take power there and extend the power of the Vintish Empire throughout the whole of the known world! Unfortunately, he didn’t quite get that far. While he’d been preoccupied with imagining the glory of the soon-to-be-Empire, the assassin came up behind him and jabbed an iron dagger into his neck. The assassin stood back, watching with satisfaction as Locke dissolved into a pile of screaming ashes. “I do hope that’s the last of them,” he muttered. Louder, knowing Dele’s Wind was still nearby, he said, “Dele, dear? Those smoothies sound absolutely wonderful.” HE heard a giggle, and was whisked off his feet again. THUS ENDS THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF HOLLY AND IRON Come back next year, for the third iteration! The Students have won! The Skindancers have lost! Orlok was killed! He was a Skindancer who had studied in Sympathy! Burnt was attacked by Skindancers, but didn’t die! Final Player List 1. Queensteph - Vintish Noblewoman Student Master of Archives 2. Randuir (Telar Pike) - Yllish Commoner Student 3. Hemalurgic Headshot (Noremac Quwester) - Aturan Nobleman Skindancer Master Physicker 4. Aonar (Aodhan Breacadh) - Edema Ruh Skindancer in Naming 5. Wilson (Sloan Walker) - Cealdish Commoner Student 6. Straw (Medicus Novis) - Yllish Commoner Student 7. Paranoid King (William Opuscule) - Yllish Commoner Student in Physicking 8. Ornstein (John Springer) - Aturan Nobleman Student in Physicking 9. Jondesu (Vell) - Yllish Commoner Insane Student in Archives and Sympathy 10. Drake Marshall (Greyson) - Cealdish Commoner Student in Physicking 11. Assassin in Burgundy (Jurdaan Longfell) - Yllish Commoner Student 12. Burnt Spaghetti (Dele Fajro) - Vintish Noblewoman Student in Naming 13. Orlok (Locke Alveron) - Cealdish Commoner Skindancer in Sympathy 14. Magestar (Magestar) - Vintish Nobleman Insane Student 15. Alvron (Stryker Nox) - Cealdish Commoner Insane Skindancer in Alchemy and Artificery 16. Arinian (Darian) - Aturan Nobleman 17. Stick (Stick) - Aturan NobleStick Student in Archives and Physicking 18. Darkness Ascendant (Balthazar Myrrh) - Yllish Commoner Student 19. Cluny the Scourge (Cluny) - Aturan Nobleman Skindancer Master in Arithmetic 20. Silverblade (Ryth) - Cealdish Commoner Student 21. Amanuensis (Esuan) - Yllish Commoner Student 22. BrightnessRadiant (Amelia) - Aturan Noblewoman Student in Rhetoric & Logic and Archives 23. Eolhondras (Eolah) - Yllish Commoner Student 24. STINK - Yllish Commoner Skindancer in Linguistics 25. Hael (Glavion) - Edema Ruh Insane Student 26. Sart (Titud) - Edema Ruh Insane Student in Rhetoric & Logic 27. Joe (Chalks) - Yllish Commoner Insane Student in Rhetoric & Logic and Linguistics Docs Master Spreadsheet Spec/Dead Doc Skindancer Doc Game Thoughts (more may come later but some explanations are needed now) GM Mistakes There were a lot of these, unfortunately. It’s a big game, and such things are bound to happen. Some of them were minor (like Drake PMing someone while he was expelled) and didn’t affect the game. I won’t mention most of those because there were plenty and I don’t think I could even remember them all. The major ones were as follows (in no particular order): 1. University actions allowed in Imre. By the time we realised that this wasn’t supposed to happen, it already had for about a cycle, unfortunately. This would’ve changed the game significantly - Burnt, for instance, could’ve either used Wind or amassed the protection she had. Not both, or not in such a short time. It might have also reduced the traffic in the Grey Man and overall allowed the Skindancers to have more of an advantage over the village in the late game. 2. Wind could spy on the Skindancer doc. This was a bad call, and I didn’t like it from the start. Let me clarify, quickly: Burnt asked to spy on anything Aonar said “not in public”. Which she didn’t actually intend to include the doc, but I read it as worded that way because she did want that. I vacillated a long time on whether that should be allowed at all, but finally allowed this: Each message of Aonar’s sent in the eliminator doc (there were about 15 of Aonar’s that turn, only 3 of which were truly incriminating) had a 5% chance of being overheard. Normal PMs had a 50 or 75% chance (can’t remember which, but it doesn’t matter enough to look it up). Burnt happened to roll one of those, and thus caught out Aonar. What Aonar pointed out later was that Burnt should’ve had to use Holly or Iron in order to spy on that doc, because the Skindancers would’ve been protecting themselves with Fae magic. This would’ve been a much better ruling had I thought of it, but I didn’t. Secondary note: Burnt only used that power once again (on a villager), and after that stopped doing so because she was uncomfortable with having that power. For which I thank her, and I agree. The reason I was so uncomfortable with this ruling is that it compromises the security of hte eliminator doc. This is a terrible idea, generally. One of the most important advantages the eliminators has over the village is perfect, non-public communication in which you can (usually) trust every member. Compromising that makes it much more difficult for the eliminators to do anything because they can’t communicate nearly as effectively. Thus, compromising the doc is a Bad Idea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it turn out well, particularly when the evil team isn’t informed that they could be compromised (LG26 and Rae comes to mind, for instance). 3. Steph shouldn’t have been raised yet. This one is... complicated. Essentially, the first time Steph could’ve been raised to Master (assuming that there’s the same turn delay as with other elevations, which isn’t necessarily supposed to be the case) was when she was at the Grey Man in Imre, and thus not attending the University. Now, the rules state that if you’re not attending the University you cannot be a Master. You’re replaced with an NPC until you come back (or the next PC if there’s one available, and then you’re second in line). So, probably, Steph shouldn’t have been raised for another turn. If that had been the case, I’m nearly certain she would have been expelled by the Skindancers, who would’ve been (nearly) safe at that point. She wasn’t, because I (probably) mistakenly said that she should be raised anyway, thinking about how any other elevation can be raised while in Imre. This resulted in a few hours’ delay later on while I tried to figure out how to set it the most right. (I ended up just making her pay tuition, rather than deelevating her, basically because the call had already been made and while it was rather detrimental to the Skindancers as is, the call was done and I could’ve change it. Just like I couldn’t have changed the spy-on-Skindancers call after I’d made it. GMing is irritating like that.) Other Problems with the Game/Changes for Next Game First of all, yes, there will be another run of this. Come back in a year or so and play! Wilson and I have already discussed it extensively and started making the spreadsheet (which will be so much better than the current one is). Right. Problems we noticed with the game, some of which have fixes and some of which do not yet. Social Classes Vints have a lot of power. Seriously. A lot. And the 33% increase to tuition does nothing, particularly if they don’t even go to the University and just stay in Imre, spending substantially less than they would on tuition, and able to buy a great deal. So we’re introducing a 25% chance of being roleblocked each turn, unable to go to Imre and only having the general action period available. Hopefully that is enough. Similarly, Edema and Cealdish are very poor and it’s rather difficult for them to do anything. Particularly if Edema Talent Pipes stats are particularly low, which some were. That doesn’t exactly make sense flavourwise, so we’re adopting Hael’s suggestion of a base stat for them. They won’t be guaranteed to get the Pipes, but they’ll all at least have a decent chance. Cealdish have their discounts increased to 20%, as well, and I believe the Aturan detriment to arcane fields has been increased. If anyone has any suggestions on further improvements, those would be welcome! Cealdish, for instance, still only makes a difference in Imre, and otherwise has no effect. I’m not certain whether that’s enough for them or not. There’s also a question of how harsh those penalties should be just because of the question of how equal the game should be. Should every player be on equal terms, or is it okay to have some more powerful than others? Vints still are without doubt more able to do things than Edema Ruh, without worrying about money or having to deal with tuition reductions. Et cetera. University Fields So, the three arcane fields that aren’t Naming are all getting a boost. One person went into Sympathy. Orlok. Because there was an exploit (also getting fixed - you can now not take a loan out from Devi if you’ve defaulted already on one. He was going to become Master, give someone else Malignant Sympathy protection, and have one of them take out huge amounts of money and never pay it back because they didn’t need to worry about mommets.), rather than because he wanted it as a whole. So, this field needs a bit of extra attraction. A couple possibilities have been raised - the one I’m currently leaning towards is that mommets can target players, rather than only people who were killed. To use an Upgraded Mommet like that, though, significantly increases your insanity bonus (as you’d expect of something which can kill). Someone else raised another possibility, though, which I can’t quite remember right now... @GMs from last game? Nearly certain it was one of you three. Alchemy and Artificery were similarly underpopulated. These are difficult fields because not only do they increase your insanity, but also you can only practice them while attending the university and they don’t grant any additional action periods. Next time around, you’ll have a shared item-creation period, so that regardless of the general action you can always (while attending) be making more items. Arithmetics might also be changed, though we’re not certain how yet. It’s nearly entirely passive actions, which is boring for the Arithmetician. Naming is an interesting one. So... we ruled, this game, that you couldn’t learn new Names once expelled, on the basis that every other field can’t learn new abilities, so Naming shouldn’t be able to either. Which makes sense. The counter to this, however, is that it means that Namers can safely use all of their names without being afraid of more insanity. If Burnt had been able to learn new names, she would definitely have one by now. She used Bone four times, meaning a 100% chance of learning a new name, and so would have had at least a 1/12 chance of going insane for up to twelve turns. Maybe more, had she used the new Name and received more Names. If she had gone insane, the game would’ve been essentially won for the Skindancers. She is the only reason they lost. So that did have a material impact on the game. What it means in general is that Namers, once expelled, can use any of their names with impunity and not have any risk of going insane. I’m... not sure that’s any more balanced than letting them learn new Names. Thoughts on this would be appreciated. I’m not sure which way is actually better for the game. Also, not a problem, but I’m really sad no one got Plum Bobs or Bonetar. That would’ve been such fun. Imre Black Market First of all, two people placed contracts in the entire game. Two. And neither were taken. I am sad. Besides that, though, the Bodyguard/Assassin prices need significant tweaking. Or rather, the formula does. Because they remained too low for too long - had the prices been the same as last game, they’ve have been about 10 Talents higher. (They weren’t because base stock is based on number of players, and we had more this game.) So that was something of an issue with way too many Bodyguards and Assassins in the game. Oh, also. Bodyguards and Assassins will also probably have an upkeep fee. This’ll mostly come into play with Bodyguards, where you’ll have a (probably small) fee to pay each turn to keep them around. Apothecary There was a ridiculous amount of protection in this game. The Horse and Four’s increase to 40% protection, the lower price of Bodyguards, and Grams, primarily. So Grams are getting increased to 20 talents. Other than that, this is fine. Eolian The Eolian isn’t getting changed, but I’ll use this space as an excuse to point out that Lopen has horrible dice and the first four rolls for the Eolian were all failures. Including two who had a ridiculously high chance of success (12 or 13 out of 15, I think). Poor Wilson and Eol. Devi’s Was not used at all. Well... I think it was used once. Only change is that you can’t take a loan out if you’ve defaulted on a previous one. Gambling Den This is a new thing! To flesh out Imre, there will be a Gambling Den. (Credit goes to Alv for the idea.) Won’t fill out the details here, but it should be fun. Other That’s about it for problems with the game. The most major, I’d say, is that there was too much protection in the game. That made it very difficult for the elims late game - everyone had grams or bodyguards, practically. Burnt had two Grams. If she hadn’t been expelled, she’d have taken five turns to actually go insane. As is, it’d take three. Assuming she didn’t buy another bodyguard or gram before then. If anyone saw any other problems with the game or has any other suggestions, please mention them. Most of these were suggested by Wilson or Orlok, as they saw firsthand that these things were problems. More suggestions are always appreciated. Callouts Steph, for being the only Student to achieve Mastery. Randuir, for making ⅓ of the posts in the game when he was alive. (Seriously, you can see it recorded in the spreadsheet. It’s ridiculous.) Hemalurgic_Headshot, for being voted on a ridiculously long time after he became Master and uncomplainable. Aonar, for amazing RP and terrifying Naming suggestions that I’m sad I didn’t get to see. Wilson, for doing her own thing and ignoring the University despite her class. Also for being my surrogate mod and extremely helpful, after her death. And for creating this game in the first place! Straw, for original (if not terribly helpful) posts of graphs and pie charts. Paranoid King, for doing your best not to be a mayor. Ornstein, for... making no sense? Jondesu, for playing even while travelling/hospitalised, and doing pretty well until he went insane. Drake, for being the most involved in keeping to the spirit of the books. Assassin, for saying nothing and then dying. Burnt, for being the only person to stop the Skindancers from winning, and also for all of the ice cream dates with assassins. Orlok, for doing the absolute best he could with very limited materials late-game. Magestar, for a rather excellent character for me to play with. Alvron, for wanting his character to have the mind of an innocent child once he went insane. Arinian, for buying the only Bloodless in the entire game. Stick, for having an awesome death (and coming really, really close to surviving, too). DA, for an awesome character until he had to drop out. :/ Cluny, for somehow surviving almost the entire game despite heaps of suspicion the entire time. Silverblade, for being sabotaged first turn, escaping, and then doing nothing. Amanuensis, for being on the streets for the entire game (excepting Term 1), and somehow surviving every single time until killed by an Assassin. I dub thee Queen of the Mercenaries. Brightness Radiant, for learning a lot this game and learning that tunnelling is a bad idea. Eolhondras, for a fantastic music submission and hten not getting it anyway. Also for blocking an attack and knowing that Alv did that, and then neither you nor PK ever saying anything about it. >> Stink, for successfully and correctly calling out Cluny for being unsportsmanlike before I even knew there was a problem. Thank you. Hael, for being a good sport about being Edema Ruh and rightly calling out Jondesu for not realising that. Sart, for (along with Joe), going into Rhetoric and Logic. I was sad when you went insane, because R&L was mine last game and I wanted to see someone use the Law of Contraposition. Joe, for excellent order submissions even when insane. There’s a lot of chalk drawings inside the Crockery now. And to my co-GMs! Drought, for having slightly better dice than Lopen, adn staying up later than you should in order to help out. And finally, Lopen, who deserves more credit for running this game than I do. I made the spreadsheet and did writeups, but he’s the one who actually input and output all the PMs, dealt with Imre, and so on. He very likely did more work than myself and Drought combined, and I could not have run this game travelling like I am without him. Enormous thanks to Lopen for being a fantastic co-GM. Things I Learned Mods are nice. I’m getting a lot better about making calls, but I’ve now GMed or co-GMed 10 games (officially; counting what I did for LG32 and to a lesser extent LG18 and LG20-21, you could reasonably say 11) and I still used Wilson extensively once she died. Part of that was because she created this game, but part is also just because outside, unbiased advice is really, really helpful. Use your mods, everyone! That’s what they’re there for! Writeups were fun this game. I strayed away from the Life theme, which is rather sad. I should’ve used it for a QF, perhaps, with significantly fewer writeups than the ~20 required this game. Pity, that. I did like the tone of this game’s writeups, though, and the mix of seriousness and silliness. Sometime I’ll bring Varda back and flesh out her character a little more, because I was unsatisfied with it, but otherwise this game was good. I wasn’t terribly good at actually getting the writeups done on time, though. Which is okay, I know, but I dislike it immensely. There were reasons - mainly school and then travelling - but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to get them done. So I apologise about that. Lastly, don’t GM games while travelling! Playing them is fine (for me, at least). I’ve done it plenty before. But the only other time I was travelling was for QF18, which was much less complicated and the writeups for the second half of that game never got finished. GMing while travelling is very, very difficult. Having to do a writeup late at night after seeing 2-3 attractions in a day is not something that I wanted to do, and often I just fell asleep instead. (As with this aftermath, for instance. I lay down to start writing, fell asleep instead, and woke three hours later enough to tell Lopen/Drought to say that the game is over, and I’d post the aftermath when I finished it.) I do not recommend it. At all. Well. I had a ton of fun this game, and I hope all of you did. There a lot of rough spots and mistakes in the game, but the ultimate aim is to have fun, and that much I hope was achieved. See you all next time!
  7. LG19: Twinborn City After seeing your peaceful village collapse- literally- with infighting and treachery, you fled to a nicer place with many companions. You attracted other twinborn with your promise of equal rights for everyone with allomantic and feruchemical powers. Although you had to exile a few dissidents, it's been quiet here. But then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. you found a dead body in the city, stabbed through the heart. Were you the murderer, or will you be a victim? There's only one way to find out. Factions Day and Night Map Actions Items Powers Allomancy Enhanced Allomantic Powers Feruchemy Kandra Blessings and Info Very Rare Occurrences If you were in LG11, most of the rules will be familiar to you, however, a few have changed. Kipper and Elbereth and I are GMing this game. The game will start one week after this was posted, on Tuesday 29 March. Rollover time will be determined then or between now and then.
  8. I have a theory that the Shards correspond with the 16 Metals of Allomancy and Feruchemy. I have no idea if this applies to Hemalurgy, I'm assuming for now that it does not. Anyway, the method I have used to gain evidence to support my claim is to take the different ways metals are classified and try to equate them to factors influencing Shards and their magic systems, such as Connection. After an epiphany while studying the Feruchemical table, I have figured out how Shards can be Realmatically oriented, as is done in the Feruchemical table. I'm not touching the Spiritual Feruchemical aspects, as the Spiritual Shards have not had enough screen time to get any conclusions. Anyway, a Shard's Realmatic orientation affects what people do to use the magic system. Honor, the Shard I have equated with pewter, has people interact with the Surges by physically inhaling Stormlight. Preservation's magic system involves physically swallowing metals, while Ruin's involves physically stabbing someone with a metal object. That's all for the physical Shards, Cadmium and Bendalloy being the Shards of Preservation and Ruin respectively. It should be noted that Cadmium and Bendalloy are in fact Feruchemically physical metals. Cognitively, things get interesting. Endowment is a Cognitive Shard, requiring Awakeners to form a picture in their minds of what they want their Awakened objects to accomplish. Devotion, also a Cognitive Shard, requires that Elantrians occasionally put themselves into the correct frame of mind, like Aon Omi requiring people to have positive feelings for the people in the room. Dominion, interestingly, equates with brass, which is a Feruchemically Physical metal. The symbols that seem prevalent among all forms of Selish magic seem to be more important here, being essentially branded with the symbols. Forgery also has physical symbols, but all Selish magic is a mix of Devotion and Dominion, AonDor and Dakhor are simply the most pure forms. I actually had this theory for a while, but the Selish Shards were messing me up. Also, if anyone has any theories about the relationship between Shards and the metals, PM me. I will be more than happy to examine your theory.