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Back in Tremredare, the precinct had a saying. Watch gets called out for anything—a stabbing, a brawl, the sort of drek that ends up with someone iced and floating facedown in the canal in the morning, the sarge always asks: “Did you check the intimates?” Get your mind out of the gutter. Thing is, when it comes to murder most foul, there’s only so many possibilities: the wife who’s had enough, the controlling husband, the possessive ex, the violent brother, the angry sister, the debt-ridden friend, the disgruntled business associate, the former colleague with a grudge… And so the circle expands, layer by layer. But you always check the intimates, first. It’s those closest to us that we don’t see the most clearly. Who have the power to hurt us the most. We trust them. And so we let them in. We tell them our deepest secrets, our darkest fears. We laugh with them, work with them, drink with them. We stay in the same building, rub shoulders every dawn and dusk. It’s surprising, what the intimates know about a person. A good investigator always hits the street and starts listening first, rather than talking. You can learn a lot about the vic that way. Who they were, what the people closest to them thought. Maybe you can’t ever really know a person, but their intimates are your window into their life, their character. We see but through this window darkly. Still, it’s better than dead nothing. Investigation’s gotta start somewhere. The intimates. We let our guard down around them. That’s why betrayal always cuts deepest, doesn’t it? In the end, it's not strangers who cause so much suffering. It's those close to us. It began, as these things often did, with a knock on the door, at dawn. No rest for the wicked, as the saying went. It was far too early, and the dawn light that poured in through the cracks in the shutters was a thin, bleak grey. The candle sputtered and flickered, throwing shadows over the confines of the office and its single occupant. Blinking blearily, Kast stared at the case file he was trying to close and wondered if it was worth the effort of getting up and answering it. A dark case, that one. He hated working missing persons cases, but they’d flipped for it, and Wyl had won, and that meant his business partner was up at the arse-crack of dawn looking into a cheating case to do with five ducks, and Kast was in the office, wondering if he felt like answering the door today. Somedays, it felt like it wasn’t worth the effort. Missing persons cases. They got under your skin. Her name was Lu. Rumours that she was somehow connected to Cat Lekal, but Kast didn’t believe them for a second. You didn’t come all the way to the remote reaches of the Western Dominance to hide from the games the nobles played. Better places to hide elsewhere in the Final Empire, with the sorts of luxuries the nobles seemed accustomed to. The brother was the one who’d reported her missing. He’d come all the way from Gamsbrook to speak with them. Wyl hadn’t liked it. “Long way to walk, just to talk to us,” he’d said, lighting up his pipe. Busying himself with the familiar motions of flint and herbs. “You blame him?” Kast raised an eyebrow. “Desperation drives people to do stupid things. You know this.” “Bah,” said Wyl, eloquently. And then, “There’s stupid, and there’s no damnfool reason.” He saw the resemblance, in the sketch they’d been given. Kast thought it’d been seared into his memory, by now. The wary way Lu glanced out at you from the sketch. There was that tentativeness, the hesitancy. You saw it too, in the way the brother had perched at the edge of his seat. Hadn’t felt at ease around them. Maybe that should’ve been the first sign. Told you so, Wyl had scribbled on the back of a receipt from the grocer's and stuffed into the case file. Kast marked it as SOLVED, even though they weren’t going to see a single clip for it. They shouldn’t have taken the case, he thought. But missing persons cases. They spoke to you. He didn’t think it right, that people could go missing, could wander off the face of the world and drop off into vast emptiness with not a soul to worry or care about them. Call him sentimental, he supposed. He didn’t think that anyone should be lost, just like that. Someone had to go looking. Knock on the dark spaces of the world. Sometimes these spaces gave up, surrendered the people they’d eaten. Sometimes the darkness was hungry. Sometimes it felt like they were just trying to stop the tide with a shovel. There was an ocean out there, enough to drown in. Kast’d been to Lansing once, a very long time ago. He’d seen the ocean, and wondered at what lay there, beyond such immensity. Sometimes, the darkness was just what lurked in the recesses of the human heart. He’d gone out to the woods, and dug, where the marker was, and he’d found her, and part of Kast wished he hadn’t, wished she’d remained lost, because there was a certain finality to finding a body, or bones. And although there was agony to never knowing, you could often console yourself, that they were alive, somehow. People vanished for reasons of their own, all the time. People vanished everyday on the streets of Tremredare and they’d solved only a tiny fraction of these and they gnawed on your conscience, both the dead and the lost. No matter how hardened you were, how bitter, how much drek you saw on the streets of Tremredare, you never quite let go of that hope. Kast’d seen street-crusted veterans head outside for a smoke and then quietly fall apart in solitude when hours turned into days, and then that lost child turned up murdered. But he’d found her bones, and he’d done the dirty work, the work a good investigator was supposed to do. He’d hit Gamsbrook, and knocked on doors and listened. And he’d done some careful surveillance of his own. Long nights. He wasn’t getting any younger. It’d been a dispute over money. The brother was deep in debt, and trying to shake off suspicions that he’d killed her. He buried her out there, deep in the woods, but then he’d been seen, and then they’d gotten him to talk. You did what you had to. There were always ways. The intimates, Kast thought. You always had to talk to the intimates. And sometimes...Sometimes, it was those closest to you that held the knife. People always thought about danger as coming from without. But the most terrible sins were not committed by strangers but by one who wore the face of a loved one. Not for the first time in the past decade, Kast Speirs wondered wearily how he had come—not so much come, as fallen, he supposed—from the Tremredare City Watch to running a small investigation business in the arse-end of the Western Dominance. The knocking on the door grew brisk, a staccato series of sharp knocks. Right. There was no point in putting it off, any longer. “Coming!” Kast growled. He shut the case file, and reached out for his cane. There was the familiar pain, grinding in his knee and hip like shards of smashed glass as he got up, but at least the cane took the worst of it. It was looking to be one of those days again. He measured the paces to the shutters in familiar stabs of pain as his body kept the score. They’d set the office up on the second floor, and not for the first time, Kast questioned the wisdom of that decision. But he’d been younger, then. And his leg hadn’t been that bad. “What is it?” Kast snarled, cracking open the shutters. He blinked owlishly in the morning light. He recognised Douza, the blacksmith’s boy. Far as Kast heard, Douza wasn’t keen on the trade. One of the worst-kept secrets in Fallion’s Tears, as it were. Worse secrets lurked in this village. “You’re wanted!” Douza called up, cupping his hands about his mouth. “What for?” Kast snapped back. “Another murder! By the tanner’s!” “Get Wyl!” What was the point of having a business partner if he couldn’t get on his feet and read the crime scene every once in a while? Part of Kast regretted the thought: it was best to get as many eyes on the scene as possible. Likely as not, they’d pick up on something each other missed. That was how they worked. Why they went into business together, among many other things. Secrets. You couldn’t get anywhere in this village without stumbling into one. It was Kast’s job to know things, and to ferret out things people’d rather he didn’t, after all. “Mayor says to get you too!” Douza shouted up. “And Wyl says to tell you to get!” Kast sighed. So that was how it was going to be. Wyl wasn’t the sort to send out a whistle for a lark. Never had been. And damnit, Kast trusted his judgement. “Tell them I’m coming.” Flakes of ash fell from the iron-grey sky. They dusted everything in a thin coat, even as the cold wind dashed them into broad glass windows and shutters. The low buildings of the village bunched together, as if hunkering down against the assault from the windward slopes of the mountains. The last of the night mists wreathed both land and mountains, but had begun to thin, and to dissipate with the light. The red sun bathed the mountain slopes in a ruddy glow, like freshly-fallen embers. Kast wanted to stop, to take in the view, but there was no time for it. Fallion’s Tears was quiet in the early morning light, and for a while, Kast allowed himself to believe he was the only one soldiering on, cane pressing into gravel and dirt. A wisp of smoke curled upwards from the tavern, while the blacksmith’s forge had gone cold. The metallurgist’s shop was shuttered, and even the customary line at the grocer’s or baker’s was missing. Slivers of pain stabbed into him with each step. It was getting worse. He resigned himself to another visit to the apothecary. Eventually. After he closed the other five cases waiting for him, back in that study. And after getting the milk. And he had to go out and walk the ground, get a feel for what happened with the Leas Fel case. The mountains rose up, an intimidating and jagged wall, wherever you looked. Nestled on the slopes, you could make out the ashmount Morag as well, on a clear day, the sort where the air was crisp and the sky the hue of pale fire. Fallion’s Tears was the sort of place where nothing happened. It hadn’t seemed a bad place to settle down in, and even though there were days the work ran thin, Kast rather thought he preferred that to drowning in the stabbing, assault, robbery, and rioting cases that seemed rife in Tremredare. He liked the quiet, and felt the stillness soothe the restless part of him that never stopped looking for the next threat. Fallion’s Tears was the sort of place you came to forget what life made you and to bury your wounds and ghosts. He limped on. The question of where everyone was soon became clear. A throng of villagers gathered around the tanner’s, on the outskirts of the village. Gawkers, no doubt. Drawn by curiosity, because it sure as hell wasn’t the stench of the drying hides. He worked his way through the crowd, step by painful step. “Took you long enough,” Wyl said. He was studying the corpse. Kast took a quick glance around. There was no real watch in Fallion’s Tears, just a band of volunteers who more or less overlapped with what the village called a militia. These were currently holding the crowd back, which Kast was at least grateful for. The last thing they needed was the scene to be contaminated. “Sorry, got held up. You know what precinct traffic’s like at this time of the night.” The doctor was nowhere in sight, which Kast supposed could mean anything. No sign of Mayor Wilson either, which didn’t seem right, given Douza had come in a hurry to get him. “Right, wisearse,” Wyl’s sidelong glance was both mildly amused and judgemental. “What do you make of this?” “You didn’t get Douza to pull me all the way here for any old murder,” Kast muttered resentfully, but he was already here, and so he grudgingly worked the scene. Vic was Bartholomew—he recognised the build and the wild beard, and suppressed the immediate flicker of empathy. That came later. Blood pooled on the dirt, sticky, but some of it drying. Dead for a while then, best as Kast could make out. If Wyl wanted a time of death, he was better off waiting for the doctor. The thing that struck Kast though was how horrific it was. Blood everywhere, some of it plastered on the sides of the tanner’s shed, and daubed everywhere, in the dirt, on the wooden walls of the shed, and even the shutters: KILL YOU ALL EVERYONE GONNA DIE An indecipherable mess of sticky blood, and then: WHEN THE KOLOSS COME “Koloss?” Kast murmured, trying to keep his voice calm and even. “Not without the Lord Ruler’s say-so, surely.” “Been rumours,” Wyl said. “Haven’t you been listening? That traveller who came through the other week. Mists-addled, they say. Raving about a wild band of koloss.” “You don’t put much stock in it, either.” “Suppose I don’t,” Wyl said. He stuck his pipe in his mouth and kindled a flame. He took a long drag from it, exhaling pungent smoke. “Well, what else’ve you got?” Kast turned back to his examination of the scene. “More staged than the Leas Fel one.” Leas Fel—they’d assumed it was a stabbing but it hadn’t felt right, and then now another one on top of that. Fallion’s Tears wasn’t a large village. Most of those here knew each other all their lives and it had taken years for them to accept the duo from Tremredare among their number. Sometimes, Kast wondered if they’d really made it at all. “You don’t say,” Wyl cocked an eyebrow at him. “Any more words of wisdom, then?” Anger flared. Probably didn’t help that his leg still hated him. “Why don’t you stop the damned fishing expedition and just tell me why the hell you had me brought here,” Kast said, trying to get ahold of his temper. “There’s ‘don’t contaminate the investigator’ and there’s being bloody cryptic for no bloody good reason.” “It’s a murder,” Wyl said. “Obviously. Within a week of the last one. Almost never happens here. That’s almost immediately cause for concern.” “Yeah.” “And the daubings. Meant to terrify, as you rightly noticed. It’s staged, almost ritualistic.” Kast folded his arms across his chest and leaned on the cane. “Still not getting to the point,” he said, shortly. “Indulge me,” Wyl said, “For a few moments more. Look at the body.” Kast breathed in deep and reigned in his temper. He looked at Bartholomew’s corpse. Reluctantly, he knelt, gripping the cane, and fighting against the screams of pain from his bad leg. He saw signs of a struggle: the broken fingers, and bruising. Staining on Bartholomew’s hands made it difficult to tell if it was blood under his nails or just pigment. “Same MO,” Kast said, eventually. “Chest wound, with significant blood loss at the scene. Staged, but Bartholomew actually died here.” He frowned. There was the gleam of something metallic, glinting a sullen ochre in the morning light. He reached out and moved the body enough to dislodge it, and his heart nearly stopped. It was a sharp, gleaming metallic object, about half as thick as Bartholomew’s wrists, tapering to a lethal point. It was a spike, the sort you saw in Steel Inquisitors. Unmistakeable. A spike. A fecking, Lord Ruler-cursed spike. Kast had never wanted to see anything like that in his life again. He knew then, why Wyl had insisted. Of the two of them, he was the one who had the dubious benefit of experience in this instance. Memories Kast would rather remain buried. It was the past, and it was dead now. Why not let it stay dead? But the present wouldn’t let them, Kast thought sourly. And there was the matter of what the present owed the past. And Wilson—as Mayor, her instinct would be to preserve calm. The whispers had already started, infesting the village of Fallion’s Tears with fear. Exactly as the perpetrators had planned. “I think,” he said, almost-conversationally, “This must be the worst thing you’ve ever had me take a look at, partner.” KILL YOU ALL. EVERYONE GONNA DIE. WHEN THE KOLOSS COME. Wyl smirked, and the corners of his tired eyes thawed, just a little. “You’re welcome. I still owed you one for that outhouse. Spent hours digging through drek just to find the missing lockbox. You’re a real arse when you want to be.” “Sure,” said Kast, absently. He stared again at the blood-encrusted spike. Bartholomew had died for this. Kast knew he kept a vial of bronze locked in his drawer at all times. What did the killers want with a Seeker? And why had the spike been left behind? There were so many questions, and the trick (always the trick) was to find the answers before the killer—or killers—escalated again. But as the sun rose over the village of Fallion’s Tears, and the new day was birthed in bloody light, Kast thought he heard only the harsh caw of distant crows. LG74: You Want It Darker (aka a homage to Meta's game and tradition) “If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game [...] If thine is the glory then, Mine must be the shame You want it darker We kill the flame.” —’You Want It Darker’, Leonard Cohen Tucked away in a desolate corner of the Western Dominance, as far as the crow flies from Tremredare in the West, House Heron’s traditional seat of power, the quiet village of Fallion’s Tears has recently been shocked by a series of gruesome murders. Mayor Wilson has appealed for calm, even as outlandish rumours abound of a warband of koloss heading in the direction of Fallion’s Tears. Nothing ever happens in Fallion’s Tears, they say. Pity everything started happening all at once. First those awful murders, and then all that talk of koloss. But who among you could’ve committed such a terrible act? You’ve known each other most your lives—haven’t you? What buried ghosts from your past will emerge in the ashen light of the red sun? There’s always another secret. And everyone has a past, or so they say. When will yours catch up with you? General Rules: Factions: Roles: Cosmetic Roles: I wish to acknowledge some friends and colleagues who helped me with the rules of this game. Credit for the original ruleset goes, as always, to @Metacognition, as this is based off LG1 and the three successive AGs. The Committee offered helpful suggestions that tamed the thicket of decisions. I am especially grateful to @Wyrmhero, @Claincy, and @Mailliw73 for providing invaluable comments that helped eliminate mistakes and improve the game in numerous places. I am grateful for their generosity. If any mistakes remain, the reader may look these esteemed professors up and ask them why they did not correct them. Sign-ups are open now and will close on Friday, 26th February 2021, at 2300hrs SGT (GMT +8). Quick Links:
I noticed that there wasn't a cosmere line thread out there, so I decided to make one. The rules are: Find a line or passage from one of the cosmere books, and post it here. The, one at a time, people have to guess what scene or part of a book the line is from. If this gets too hard, then we will change it to guessing the book. I'll start off. "Strength does not make one capable of rule; it makes one capable of service."
Hello all. So lately, this site has been rather quiet, and I want something to liven it up a bit. So, I present to you, the Game of Consequences! This is a game I invented with my friends a while back. The basis was, it was sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books, except every choice you made put you in a deeper and deeper hole. So no matter what you did, you just worsened the situation. Occasionally, the Storyteller (basically a GM) would be merciful and restart their Bad Luck pool if their actions would lead to their demise - because the point of the game is that you cannot die, but must live in eternal suffering. Alright! Let's play! (Additional Note: Gameplay will be in bold, regular chat will be normal. Thank you! ) Choose a person, place, and thing.