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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Stinger has shown loyalty and competence. For most, that would be enough, but Razor is nothing if not suspicious. He'll grill you on the usual points, why you didn't immediately intervene against the seditious pair you encountered, some vauge question to have you prove your loyalty.

But what he really wants to know is how well you can read your native tounge.
07-16-2017, 05:59 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"Why didn't you intervene?"

You were honestly expecting that, even though you're groggy.

"Wanted to listen. Hoped to find out who they were, to report them once way was clear. Changed mind when I heard they were planning to start... mutiny? Is that word?"

"You don't know what it means?"

"Not exactly. Not word I have heard often. Believe it is bad."

"It means, essentially, a takeover attempt. We get them occasionally. A group that thinks leadership is too strict tries to attack Council members, we fight them off, and then dismiss them. We don't see a lot of them because, if you're banished from the Marshguards, you really don't have anywhere else to go. It's not something you risk lightly."

"They also said they were working for, what was the country, Kandria, I think."

Razor doesn't show any reaction.

"I didn't ask what you heard yet. But thank you for volunteering that information."

He turns around for a moment.

"Stinger. Do you miss your homeland?"

You feel a little sick.

Razor's question immediately calls up a hundred painful memories you spend your days trying to block out. What was done to you. What you did. Who betrayed you. Who you betrayed. The countless excuses you fed to yourself about how you didn't have a choice.

It was a miserable place, and you put yourself through hell trying to get away with it. When you can pull yourself away from the pain, you answer him honestly.

"Yes," you say.

Razor looks at you very carefully. He can see the pain written on your face, the truth behind your answer.

He nods in understanding, then hands you a sheet of paper.

"I believe this is written in your own language. Can you read well enough to tell me what it says?"

You glance at the paper. He's right - you know this language well, and your old life forced you to learn it better than most in your country.

What does the message say?
07-17-2017, 01:38 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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It's...it's a magic spell.

"Magicians" were common in your country. These people claimed to have dark power and the ability to curse those who they disliked. If you didn't pay them due or show them respect, it was said that misfortune would befall you. Of course, the more prominent magicians had persons under them who could make that misfortune happen.

The paper contains a curse, strongly worded, but not unfamiliar. It prophesies destruction if the proper sacraments are not made to the one who called forth the curse.

Most of the time these are signed with a seal or sigil, something to let the recipient identify who to pay sacrament to. This one is burnt where the sigil would be.

You're not too superstitious but...something like this...it's unnerving.

At least this is the only one floating around...right?
07-17-2017, 04:32 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"It is a curse," you say.

"A curse?"

"How can I put this... our wizards, they sell their magic to the wealthy. Sometimes they offer to destroy a rival. Sometimes they merely make threats. But their 'magic', it is not the real thing, not what is in the stories of your wizards. It is the 'magic' of having people who will do your bidding silently."

"Crime bosses, then."

"That is a way to look at it, yes. And this, this is a curse. A warning. It says that misfortune will come to the person who received the letter, unless the wizard receives his due."

"A protection racket," Razor muses. "But one involving a country across the seas. How on earth did they get involved in this..."

"One more thing. Each wizard has a sigil. It is what identifies them, so that the client may pay them without knowing their true name. And so each letter is marked with it."

You hold it up and point to the scorchmarks where the sigil should be.

Razor scowls.

"So we can't identify the wizard?"

"More than that. Legend has it that defying the wizard will cause him to burn the sigil. Every wizard I have known has had no such power, of course..."

"But maybe one is the real thing," Razor says, finishing the thought for you.

"It is hard for me to believe, but..."

"Not for me. Not for anyone on this continent over the age of thirty. We've seen real magic with our own eyes." He pauses. "Thank you for your time, Stinger. You may leave now."

You consider just leaving. But, this meeting has left you curious about a few things.

Of course, Razor doesn't much like answering questions. You'll have to think carefully about what to ask.
07-18-2017, 02:47 AM
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thriggle
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Did they get away? They said they're starting moonity tomorrow!
07-19-2017, 01:36 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"What happened to the, conspire... no, not the word... the other two?"

"Conspirators?"

You think that's the word. You try it out a few times.

"Yes. The con-spir-a-tors. Did you catch them?"

Razor frowns.

"One of them. Unfortunately, Chips only struck the helmet on the other one. And I'm not counting on our captive revealing their accomplice."

That would not have happened if it had been left to you. But that's not your concern at the moment.

"They were plotting to start a... mutiny. That was what they said."

"Yes, you and Chips have both reported that already."

"Then, the one who escaped... they might go ahead and start it."

"I'm aware of that possibility. Your concern is appreciated, but unless you have a particular idea how to track them down, this conversation isn't telling me anything I don't already know."

Now that he mentions it, you do have an idea.
07-19-2017, 01:54 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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I will start mootiny first.
07-20-2017, 01:07 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"Back in my homeland, we have a saying. The man who is robbed will buy stronger locks."

Razor gives you a confused look.

"I think you'll need to clarify what you mean," he says.

"This, mutiny. If Sisters think we are ready for one, they will be afraid to act. They will think we have stronger locks."

"So, what, you want us to stage a mutiny? That's absurd. Among numerous other issues with that plan, who could you get to lead it? It's a paradox. They'd need to be someone who people would believe capable of rebelling, but it's too sensitive a task to give to someone I couldn't trust completely..."

His voice trails away. He has the same thought you did.

"Mudviper," you say, and he nods.

"You might be on to something. I don't think we need to get an actual false rebellion going, though... just make the idea of it seem real enough that the Sisters think it's better to bide their time and see what happens. Our conspirators seemed to be depending on them acting quickly, after all."

He looks lost in thought.

"Can't come directly from her, though. They know I'm starting to trust her, it would look too much like a ploy. Needs to be someone acting on her behalf..."

He smirks.

"Ah. Of course. They'd know the blowdarts came from you. But they don't know your angle yet."

"What are you saying?"

"I want you to question our prisoner, and give them the impression that you and Chips were plotting your own mutiny, for Mudviper. They'll either try to get you involved in their plan, or find some way to warn their accomplices."

You get clarification on a few words, but you soon understand what he's asking. You agree to it, and go into the other room to question the prisoner. Razor is careful to stay out of sight.

They're still groggy. Probably because they didn't have the resistance training you did.

"What do you want?" they ask, slowly glaring at you.

"Your name, for a start."

As you wait for the answer, you think carefully about how to handle the rest of the interrogation.
07-20-2017, 03:17 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Dang this guy likes to talk. Splittongue was it?

Gonna have to use the universal language of intimidation. When you first came here, people found you unnerving before you began to get the culture around here. Time to channel some of that. Remove your armor and show him your tattoos. They were for cultural purposes, benign really, but you've been told by a few they are...what was word?? "Freeky"
07-20-2017, 05:43 PM
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Dragon Fogel
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"Splittongue. Don't think it means I'm going to say much to you."

You think back to your early days. Before you found this swamp, and before Rider put you in Bluesight's unit.

People were afraid of you. You could only grasp why because, to a degree, you were afraid of them; they spoke words you barely understood, and dodged your gaze in the streets.

That was back when you still showed your coming-of-age tattoos proudly. A small dog on the back of your hand represents the short time you have been on this earth, fiercely barking at the long serpent of mortality. A sign of your determination to survive.

But the people here only saw beasts.

You take off your outermost layer of armor, and roll up your sleeves, folding your arms for maximum effect. You're not that muscular, perhaps, but you're hardly scrawny.

"A pity. I gave you all that time for a nice relaxing nap, and you repay my kindness with silence."

"Hmmph. We're not telling you anything."

"No? Perhaps if you realize all that I know, you will be more forthcoming."

You might need to bluff here. Splittongue said "we", and that's when you've realized something important - he's been out, and has no idea that his partner got away.

So if you convince him that his partner is already caught, he might let their name slip out carelessly. That would make things quite a bit easier.

The best option you can see is to imply that his partner's already talked. He'd likely blurt the name out in rage, to say nothing of what other information he might be willing to part with.

So. How can you pull off that ruse?
07-21-2017, 03:07 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Language isn't your strong point. Hoping to catch the nuance of his words will just lead to confusion, but his tone, his body language, you can learn a lot from that.

Splittongue knows you aren't in a normal cell. Imply this is your own chambers.

It is difficult getting information when two people talk, so I let one sleep. If they are friendly, they leave, if not, they sleep.

Of course there's only Splttongue in here now. Let them do the math.
07-21-2017, 04:43 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"You don't know anything."

"No? I heard you talking. I know you work for Kandria. I know you tried to set up the lady Mudviper. I know you are starting mutiny. Just from that, I know more than enough to give you big trouble."

He's sweating, but he's not talking. He must be hiding something even worse.

"Did you sleep well, Splittongue?"

"You knocked me out!"

"And I gave you comfortable bed to lie on. Could have been more crowded. Only have one room, after all, and it is hard to question two people at once. But, fortunately, there was no need to keep both of you in here."

He seems confused for a while, then defiant.

"Pah! I see what you're up to. You want me to think Blackhorn spilled the beans so I won't hold back. But she'd never blab. You're not getting a peep out of me."

That was... almost too easy. You worry he might have caught on, and given you a false name. You need some way to figure out if he made a genuine slip-up or if he's trying to lead you down a bad trail.
07-22-2017, 01:58 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
like a wild, sexy Dick Cheney

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BLACKHORN? how funny. You know blackhorn. You two go way back. She was the first one who laughed at your sweet tats. She gave you a great backrub that one time you fell off of the swamp-horse.

(That is not a drinking metaphor, there was a literal creature called a swamp horse and you SHOULD NOT try to ride it because your back will get SORE.)

Anyway Blackhorn was coincidentally the worst name this person could have said. Just let them on that you know they're full of it and give them the bad needle.
07-22-2017, 04:30 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"You do not quite understand the position you are in, I see. You think Blackhorn trusts you."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Blackhorn and I, we go back quite a ways. Back to when I first came to this swamp. It was bad times for me, then, but Blackhorn understood me."

"So what, you think you can trust her? Think she wouldn't be involved in this business?"

"No, no. I know she is involved. Because I asked her to be."

He sneers.

"You trying to pull something funny? We've been on this assignment since we were both in Kandria. You can't trick me with your mind games."

He's probably not bluffing. If he thought he'd picked the wrong phony name, he'd be acting more worried. But he seems primarily confused, convinced you're just trying another approach to get more out of him.

"Perhaps you need some more sleep, then."

You fire your last dart at him. You'll need some time to restock.

You step out and tell Razor that Splittongue's partner was Blackhorn. He thanks you, and says he'll take it from here.

You're worn out, so you opt to leave it at that. Hopefully, this "mutiny" business will be cleared up by the morning.

---

"Hey, wake up, kid."

You're now Marshall again, and you can't really tell how long you've been asleep. Corvus is glaring at you - it's not a comfortable position to wake up in.

"What's going on?"

"We've reached camp," Yvonne says. "Rider's resting, finally, or at least he says he is. He wants you to go pay a visit to your captain in the infirmary right away. We should have breakfast ready for you by the time you're done."

Well, that seems clear enough. Is there anything you need to take care of before seeing Captain Long?
07-23-2017, 01:27 AM
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Tuesday
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You can't do anything about the epic cramp in your neck or the beginnings of a dehydration headache right now, but you may as well check to make sure your book's still there.
07-23-2017, 01:32 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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Your neck hurts, and you have a bad headache. Your throat feels dry, too.

But you'll have to wait. You're headed for the infirmary, anyhow, so if you need any help you can probably get it afterwards. What matters at the moment is the book; you quickly check your pouch and pull it out. It's a little awkward closing the pouch again, but you'll have an easier time doing it now, while you're sitting down.

You clutch the book carefully, and walk to the infirmary tent.

The medic gives you a glance.

"You feeling all right? I'm afraid I don't have much expertise on the human body, have to go by my books. Your arms don't grow back, right?"

"That's, um, right," you say. You feel a little awkward about the question.

"Just wanted to be sure. Now, you're here to see the other human in care, Yvonne tells me?"

"That's right."

"I'm Robert. Not sure how long you'll be around, but we can worry about that later. Follow me."

Robert leads you into a tent, and Captain Long is lying on a bed that's clearly too small for him. It looks like there's a big block of ice on either side of him, attached to complex machinery.

"We're keeping him cool. Do try to be quick; he shouldn't be contagious, but if you've got something, it might complicate his condition."

"Thank you, I will."

You head over to him as Robert steps out. He looks at you, his eyes weak.

"Marshall," Long says. "Wasn't expecting to see you here. I suppose Rider can't help testing his theories, though."

"Theories?"

Long slowly raises his hand and points at your book.

"He trusted you with that. He must think you can work out how to use it."

You look down at the book and open it as best you can. What are you supposed to do with this?
07-24-2017, 01:10 AM
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thriggle
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The story is just a framework in which to couch the formula discovered by your father.
07-24-2017, 01:54 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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You start flipping through. You already read enough to grasp some of the plot.

There's a Prince Namde, and a commoner named Frei. They have a passionate affair. But Namde's mother, Kasa insists on an allegiance with the Aedrans, and so Namde has to marry a foreign princess to cement the alliance...

Somehow, the names jump out at you this time. You imagine connections between the central characters, how they interact throughout the novel. You process the pages faster than you thought poassible, and your mental diagram updates almost immediately.

What you see at the end... you wouldn't be able to describe it to anyone else. If you were to draw it, it would just be a mess of lines that don't seem to be pointing anywhere else.

But... you know, just know that it's a metal.

And now, when you look at Captain Long, you see that metal everywhere. No, not quite... you see small pieces of it, flowing through his body. It's hurting him. You need to stop his pain...

A moment later, you feel something moving from your missing arm. Then you see it. A brightly glowing arm, much larger than the one you lost, moving towards the Captain.

Your ethereal arm reaches in, and the toxic metal flows into it. You withdraw it.

A moment later, you see Captain Long sitting up, smiling, and a large chunk of oddly-colored metal floating in the air in front of you.

Then you pass out.
07-25-2017, 01:10 AM
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thriggle
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Wake up naked on an operating table.
07-25-2017, 02:48 AM
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Tuesday
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Wake up with a bunch of curious grebling scientists poking at you
07-25-2017, 04:36 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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You wake up, and you're not alone.

There's a number of greblings here, all wearing that same protective suit. But they seem to have opted for distinctive colors, at least, so you can tell that Robert is among them.

"Terribly sorry!" he says. "Um, I was conducting an examination after you fell unconscious, but it seems something you did registered on Theodore's instruments, and, well, quite a number of us have questions now."

"I've got a question, too," you say groggily. "Where are my clothes?"

"Ah. Yes. Well, er, Dominique's studying them right now, something about ether readings. Oh, but you probably shouldn't worry about getting dressed just yet, you've got heat stroke. Should be fine in a few hours, but I'll need to keep an eye on you until then just in case."

You can barely even remember what happened. Your arm still aches... except, you realize, after a moment, the pain is in the arm that isn't there any more. The arm you still have doesn't really hurt at all.

Perhaps Long or Rider can explain something about this later. For the moment, you're still trying to clear your head. And maybe get some of these greblings to give you some space.

What should you do?
07-26-2017, 01:05 AM
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Tuesday
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Ask for a drink and some quiet time, if they'd be so kind. You're a li'l overwhelmed rn.
07-26-2017, 01:08 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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First things first. You're thirsty.

"Can I get some water now," you ask. "And, um. Could the rest of you give me some space."

"Sorry," Robert says. "We, um, can get a little over-enthusiastic. I'll see what I can do."

He starts wandering around, asking various other greblings to leave. As he does, another one wanders up to you with a glass.

"Sorry about that," she says. "Yvonne was hoping to get you breakfast, but, well, then you collapsed. Robert said you shouldn't eat for a bit, but water's all right. I'm sure he'd tell you himself if he weren't so busy."

"Thanks," you say, taking a sip. "Er, what's your name?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Simone. Mostly I study the way sound travels, but as that's not a large part of our experiments out here, I'm also in charge of food preparation. And I lend a hand when someone else is overworked. Poor Robert here has had to check on all the humans today just to make sure the rest of them aren't sick."

"Oh. Is anyone sick?"

"Well, he hasn't had a look at Rider yet, but Captain Long seems to have made a complete recovery thanks to whatever you did. Pubert has some minor injuries, probably due to being tied up. Corvus has a headache, but is otherwise fine. Starling has some symptoms he couldn't identify by himself, seems to be a common swamp disease though. And Rivers is fine physically, but he wanted to refer her to Belle for a psychiatric evaluation. Oh, but I guess I shouldn't talk too much about that, though."

"Probably not," you agree. You're curious, but it's really not your business. You look around; it seems Robert's finally cleared most of the other greblings out, though he seems to be having an argument with the one looking over your clothes. From what you can hear, it sounds like she's quite insistent about staying.

Well. Now what?
07-27-2017, 02:29 AM
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thriggle
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I guess you'll have to get up starkers and wander over to see what all this ether business is about. Unless you can borrow some oversized grebling clothes somehow.

Is that your Flame's thrower? Why are they interested in that?
07-27-2017, 11:58 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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You're really not in the mood for this. You pull off the bedsheet as best you can with one hand, and use it to cover yourself.

Then you get up and walk over to where your uniform is hanging up.

"What's all this fuss about my clothes?"

The greblings glance at you. Robert starts apologizing, but then the other one turns her eyes on you. You think Robert said her name was Dominique.

"Your clothes are practically soaked in ether. Now, I don't know much about wizardry, but I assume this was your first casting. And more broadly, that you don't really know how to control it."

"Casting?"

You suppose that might be what you did. It's a bit of a blur now.

"That's what I figured. Ether's basically the raw energy wizards manipulate - and most people, human or grebling, can't do anything with it at all. But the handful who can, well, they can work wonders with it. So, just take a moment to imagine what an untrained magician could do with a big pile of ether."

"Cast spells all over the place without realizing it."

Dominique nods.

"Exactly. And that's nothing but trouble, obviously. So I was attempting to siphon it off into your glove here."

She points to a strange device, attached to your throwing glove. A wire connects it to your clothes.

"But, there's a lot that can go wrong. So I've got to keep an eye on the ether, since no one else on our team has any knack for managing it at all."

"Wait," you say. "Does that mean you're a wizard?"

She shrugs.

"You could say that. Not much good at actual spellcasting, though. I just have enough ether-sense that I can make tools that work with it. Anyhow, that's why I'm still here; I figure you don't want your clothes to go floating off with you in them or something."

"I suppose that's fair," you say. You feel a little awkward right now.

"If I were you, I'd lie down and wait for this business to be done. Robert's still got to keep an eye on you anyhow, right?"

Well, she's got a point. Still, as long as you're up, maybe you could ask her some questions, since she seems to have some idea of what you actually did.
07-28-2017, 01:52 AM
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