Me 2012

Poll RPG: The Crown District

"Mmm." Smoke curled one arm up to touch Master Corydalis's forearm. She hadn't meant to mock-faint into his lap: she'd been aiming for his shoulder and missed. Now that she was here, she hadn't quite figured out how to leave. He had a very comfortable lap. Lying in it was probably taking too much advantage of the casual atmosphere. "No, you sound like you have everything under control. Although, wait, I am a concerned about my apprentices, who will be arriving tomorrow. I normally have them run errands for me and do independent work, but I'm not sure that's advisable given the atmosphere. Could I -- I don't know -- get a local assistant? Someone who know their way around and could keep my boys from stepping into any hornets' nests?"

"Certainly that can be arranged." Master Corydalis was still smiling at her, with that devastating smile he'd employed at their first meeting. His legs shifted under her. He had a very  comfortable lap. Those long legs and strong arms provided plenty of support.

"Thank you, sir. You're very kind." I can't get up now, Smoke told herself. That'd make it look like I flopped against him just to extract a promise or something. I need to make getting up look natural. "How far is it from Courthall to the Trade District, do you know? I've not gotten my bearings in Hallston yet."

"Not far. Two miles or so, perhaps. The address you gave for Curry This might be two and a half. We're in the Crown District now."

"Oh, are we?" Smoke straightened; the draka gracefully assisted her, as if strange people fell into his lap all the time. Maybe they did. She gazed out the floater window on her left, away from him, and watched the Crown District. It had a lot of ancient mansions and manor houses. To Smoke's eye, they were over-ornamented and sprawling. She liked the height and grandeur and cleaner lines of Crescent Bay's skyline better. As residences for a single family, they were imposing. She couldn't imagine the army of maids needed just for dusting. "Are we going to pass the Palace?"

"Not exactly. You'll be able to glimpse it on the right, when we reach Candid Street. But we'll be several blocks shy of it. We could ask the driver to detour, if you like."

Smoke turned to look past him. He'd obligingly leaned back so she could see out his window.



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Me 2012

Poll RPG: Dramatically Alarming!

The master enchanter gave Corydalis another of her wide-eyed looks, ears canted downwards in dismay. "No! Not at all; I need to know these things to do my job. How are you going to keep my work from being sabotaged, or me from being run off by your partisan legislators?" She put a hand to her forehead dramatically. "This is extremely alarming!" With a little twist of her torso, she swooned backwards towards him.

Startled, Corydalis caught her in his lap, one arm behind her shoulders. His other hand crossed over her chest catch her arm against her side and ensure she didn't slide off. "Er. Master Smoke?"

She cracked open one eye, as if spying surreptitiously. "My hero! You'll protect me, won't you?" Smoke gave him a little mischevious smile and added, "All right, maybe not that alarming. But I admit it is disconcerting. How do I keep out of all these machinations?"

He chuckled. "In fairness, until you came into my office this morning, actual sabotage or circumvention of the wards had not struck me as at all probable. If Pouring Magic was willing to to conduct sabotage, the wards would have been the place to start, not something they'd attempt two years after the accusation. Moreover, nothing in the investigation indicated P.M. had engaged in any wrongdoing. There wasn't just insufficient proof: there was no evidence. The two companies have an acrimonious rivalry, but that's a far cry from criminal conduct or tortious interference," he answered, gazing down at her. Her slight frame felt beguilingly comfortable against his lap. This is not professional behavior,he told himself. Laugh at her joke and help her sit up. Instead, he found himself shifting his legs to provide better support for her back.

"So you don't think they've done anything unethical." As Smoke started to sit up, the floater turned up a steep slope and gravity tipped her against his chest. She paused, her cheek snuggled against his lapel.

"Eh." Corydalis raised one hand enough to waggle the fingers. "Unethical is a much broader term." Encompassing things like cuddling up to one's contractors, he reminded himself, and then countered with, oh, lighten up. Holding her for thirty seconds is nothing like sexual intercourse, and it's not like she's throwing herself at me to get the contract. She already has the contract. He cleared his throat and continued, "I judged W. E. guilty of avoiding work, a tendency exacerbated by a bad personal relationship with Courthall employees. And P.M. guilty of nothing worse than pursuing the contract with uncommon vigor, exacerbated by a vindictive streak. Neither company has stirred up rumors of bad behavior outside of their conflict with one another, and nothing within the conflict has any evidence. It felt more like the situation when the wind knocks over a vase, and two siblings hear the crash and immediately point to the other. "He did it, Dad!"" He smiled at Smoke again. "As an unrelated party, I did not anticipate any trouble for you from them. And I still think sabotage by Pouring Magic is unlikely. But Courthall security is investigating the sabotage given your information. And I did position a lookout to keep an eye on your new gatherers. We'll be increasing overall security in the buildings starting tomorrow to watch for saboteurs. Are there any other particular measures you'd like me to take to assure your safety, or that of your work?"



* It was archangelbeth's idea, and yes I rolled it. :D

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Me 2012

Poll RPG: In the Details

Smoke watched him, ears tilted in a listening pose. "What are the details, if I may ask?"

Next to her in the floater, Corydalis grimaced. On the one hand, gossip did not become a person in his position, and on the other, the details might be relevant to Smoke's work. "It's hard to decide where to begin. You know the stereotype of corruption, where lawmakers hire their friends and relatives to do work instead of hiring the person best suited to the job?" At her nod, he continued, "It is rarely so simple as that stereotype. Sometimes one befriends people because one admires how well they do their job. Or one's relation offers the best rate for a contract. Or some other objective measure shows them the most qualified."

He gestured with one hand to wave that aside. "But you get the idea. It is difficult to pick apart relationships or be assured of true objectivity.

"Windbreak Enchantments was first hired by the government .fifty-seven years ago. Their work was, at the time, considered good. When Courthall's were the only buildings in that part of the city to survive the Hallston Inferno forty years ago, Windbreak's reputation improved to impeccable. They started trying to convince us to switch to a new style of wards -- more costly upfront, but cheaper to maintain -- thirty-five years ago. Twenty-eight years ago, when my predecessor and the general opinion of the day concluded the new method well-established and sound, we made the switch. Around that time, the company accepted an apprentice, Rain. Rain's older brother is now Representative Kite. He was mayor of Hallston at the time. One of W.E.'s masters, Berry, married Ash, the brother of the Duchess of Deeplakes.

"Since then, Windbreak Enchantment's founder has retired. Four partners, including now-Master Rain and Master Berry, ran the firm for several years. Then Rain left under acrimonious circumstances, the details of which do not reflect well on either side. Rain founded her own enchantment firm, Pouring Magic. Representative Kite has tried, several times, by various means, to place the contract for Courthall with Pouring Magic. The Duchess of Deeplakes was adamant about maintaining the contract with W.E. The manuevering between the two has become the source of its own feud."

Corydalis took a deep breath. "Two years ago, the maintenance department started having communication issues with W. E. Our department claimed they weren't keeping agreed appointments, their department claimed the appointments didn't exist or were at another time. They said Courthall wasn't taking necessary steps, our side said we'd never been told to do so, etcetera. We changed the contacts on both sides, things settled for a couple of months, then got worse. Pouring Magic has been courting my people in maintenance, to convince them we should switch. The Duchess of Deeplakes found out and accused Pouring Magic of sabotage. Not of the wards, mind you -- at the time we didn't have any problems with the wards themselves." Corydalis spread his hands. "But of the ruining the professional relationship, by stealing or forging correspondence between us. Courthall security conducted an investigation and found no evidence of this. But by the time we did start having issues with the wards, the atmosphere was thoroughly poisoned. Windbreak Enchantments is convinced of bad faith on our part, and most of my subordinates are convinced of bad faith on theirs. I went to Crescent Bay to find you, Master Smoke, because the local situation is simply impossible. And I didn't ask you to report to maintenance because they are justifiably embittered by months of dealing with fleas, rats, ants, and enchanters who insist all three are directly or indirectly their fault. Moreover, I don't want to bring the weight of the duchess's disapproval down on them, and likely you, in addition to everything else. So. That is how I end up with you as my direct report." He smiled wryly. "Are you sorry you asked yet?"



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Me 2012

The Sun Army (72/80)

TME Header 072

It had been a week since Jinokimijin had taken his captive and his son from the Moon Etherium, and only Duty kept Ardent there. Duty and, perhaps, Justice.

She’d rescued nineteen enslaved mortals from the Moon Etherium, which was work worth doing even if nothing else was. They deserved better than glamour-addled minds, sexual slavery, and the particularly vile ‘games’ that one secretive club had used them as playing pieces in. It was work that would have been much easier to do with Miro there to help.

She missed Miro, and hated herself for missing him. In her mind, she went back and forth trying to decide if everything he’d told her was a lie, or if he’d been a dupe of his father’s, or something else entirely. And was he still alive? He had to still be alive. If the phoenix rose could steal the Heart of the Etherium from its queen, it could surely cure someone of over-channeling. He’d still been alive when Jino took him. The news from the Sun Etherium had frustratingly little about Mirohirokon, but he was the crown prince now, the King’s only son. If he’d died, that would be news.

In spare moments, Ardent pecked at the other questions that badgered her. Folks who’d been to the Sun Etherium agreed with Miro’s assessment of his mother. She’d run the Sun Etherium openly the way Fallen had run the Moon Etherium covertly. Some felt sorry for her, being deposed, or reviled Jinokimijin for his illegal coup. But none of them actually wanted the Sun Queen back on her throne.

Play Until Collapsing Dreams started farspeaking Ardent again after Fallen’s dismissal from the Moon Court. Ardent invited the other fey to drop by her apartment.

“I see you haven’t fixed the wards yet,” Play remarked, as soon as she teleported in. She was still all in white, and wearing a tall, muscular form instead of her more usual slender self.

Ardent shrugged from where she sat, sprawled in her couch pit. It’d only taken a few minutes to repair the cosmetic damage to the walls, but ripping out the ruptured wards and replacing them would take hours. “Too busy with everything else. I’m not keeping anything valuable here.”

“Except yourself.”

“Yeah, well, anyone who can get through fey invulnerability won’t be deterred by a few little spells, either.”

“It’s not just about stopping intruders. It’s about giving you some warning.”

Ardent smiled at last. “It’s good to see you haven’t really changed, Play. How’s Storm?”

“Grieving.” Play sighed and slid into a feline curl in the couch pit across from Ardent. “We’ve got recorded images of The Marvel, you know, but it’s…not the same. He could rebuild it, in less time that it took to make it the first time, but it’s years of work. And what if something like this happens again? I need to be able to promise him it won’t. That nothing like this will ever happen again. And I don’t know how to do that. Short of capturing my own phoenix rose. Which has occurred to me, believe me.” The white catgirl stared at Ardent. “Is Fallen coming back?”

“I don’t think so.” Ardent sighed. “I was as perceptive as a flying mole when it came to Miro, mind you. But they were definitely using me to target Fallen. They hauled her all the way to the Sun Etherium. She’s useless to them now, but I don’t see them letting her run home to lick her wounds and plot revenge.”

“Good.” Play bared pointed teeth in a snarl. Even the inside of her mouth was white. “I hope they kill her.”

Ardent crinkled her nose. “That’s a lot of retribution for one sculpture, sugar.”

“I’m not talking about just one sculpture and you know it. She’s poison. She deserves death.”

The satyress didn’t argue further. She wouldn’t’ve killed Fallen herself, but she sure wasn’t going to mourn her. And it was out of her hands, anyway. “Oh, right.” She fished the tracer golem and Ocyale mirror out of her locket and rose to hand them back. “It was still tracing Fallen for a couple of days after Jino grabbed her, before it ran out of sun aether. She never left the Sun Etherium.”

Play made her gesture of ownership over the tracer golem as she accepted it. “I have to get myself one of those Sun channels for experimenting, one of these days.”

“Hah. I don’t think they’re gonna be so easy to come by as they were a week ago.” Ardent moved to sit beside Play, and put a hand on her side. “Play, thank you. For helping me out. I never would’ve gotten the phoenix rose out of Fallen’s hands otherwise.”

Play met her eyes. “You figure it’s better off in Jino’s?”

Ardent crinkled her nose. “I dunno. Yes. I think so. Fallen meant to destroy an Etherium. If Jino had planned to do that, he would’ve already, when the Moon Etherium and the Sun Etherium were both depleted. Now there’re no High Court channels in either Etherium. I dunno if he’ll be any good for the Sun Etherium, but this’s better for us.” I hope. “And if it was a mistake, it was mine, not yours, and I appreciate you helping me just the same. I’m sorry I got you and Storm hurt.”

“Yeah.” Play dropped her gaze. “You know I didn’t blame you, right? You’re not responsible for Fallen being a vicious little monster. It was just…I was scared.”

“I know. And you did right, helping me without letting Fallen know that’s what you were doing.”

“Heh. So you did notice that.”

“You know I did.” Ardent smiled, then sobered again. “And…Storm? Does he blame me? He doesn’t have me blocked but I haven’t heard from him since.”

“No, he doesn’t blame you.” Play’s voice was low. She swallowed. “I think maybe he blames me, though. Not in so many words. He hasn’t really talked about it. But I’m the expert. I’m the one who’s made him live in a fortress for years because I want to be careful. And then I let this happen.”

“‘Let’ ain’t exactly the word, sugar.” Ardent gathered Play up in a hug. “I don’t know how anyone would protect against what Fallen was doing with that bird. Storm’s gotta understand that.”

Play leaned into her and sighed. “He does. Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t. Garbage like this isn’t supposed to happen, Ardent. You know I’m not the type to throw up my hands and say ‘no help for it!’ I am not quitting. There’s a counterspell that’ll work even against exceptions like that Justice-deprived extractor. And I’m going to find it.”

Ardent held her close, smiling. “I bet you will, too, sugar.”

§


Ardent had seen Whispers Rain a couple of times in the ensuing days, too. They tried to talk. It didn’t go very well. Ardent wanted to forgive her. She came to my side, at the end, and risked herself to stand up to Fallen. Even Miro’d told her he forgave her.

But: Rain betrayed me, and he could have died because of that. He could have spent the rest of his life as Fallen’s slave.

And: he lied to me. Why should I care so much about what might have been? Why should I hold a grudge when he didn’t?

A part of Ardent still loved Whispers Rain, but she didn’t know how to trust her again.

I just want to go back to Try Again and forget all this.

But Ardent stayed anyway, doing what she could to fix the mess in the Moon Etherium, and wondering if it wasn’t as hopeless now as it had been when she’d been there fourteen years ago.

On the afternoon of the seventh day, the army from the Sun Host arrived at the outskirts of the Moon Etherium. Its leader wanted to speak with the Moon Queen, and with Ardent Sojourner.

§


Ardent teleported to the ridgeline to see for herself. She half-expected the whole thing was a prank by the random Moon Host denizen who’d passed the message along. It was not a literal army, fortunately. It wasn’t even mostly Sun Host. There were twenty-one Sun Host fey, plus a hundred or so of the most mortal-looking barbarian fey Ardent had ever seen, plus a couple hundred actual mortals. They were a disorderly mob, gathered in conversational groups. By their appearance they covered the entire range of mortal ages, from babes-in-arms to small children to stooped, elderly ones.

A couple dozen of the barbarian fey wore armor of mortal styles and bore mortal weapons. There was no cohesion to them – the armor and weapons were those of a dozen different worlds. Ardent could not think of a single sensible reason for this. If the Sun King wanted a fight, he had the phoenix rose. What difference would a handful of armed fey make?

She shrugged inwardly, landed at the top of the ridge, and walked down to meet the host. Moon Host fey gathered within the aether to watch. Every fey was used to being immortal, invulnerable, and impossible to imprison, but the events of the last week had shaken everyone’s confidence. Ardent knew they were nervous. She didn’t feel great about this situation either.

Members of the mob of newcomers whispered amongst themselves as she approached. For no reason, some started to bow in her direction, after a dozen different mortal fashions: dropping to one or both knees, or pressing forehead to the earth, or curtseying, or bowing with arms together or at their sides.

One of the Sun fey, a large man dressed in their high court regalia, walked to meet her. His only concession to the aether-poor Broken Lands was his long white hair gathered into a doubled braid instead of floating behind him. One of the strangely mortal-looking fey walked next to him. She wasn’t wearing armor, but instead a multi-layered gown. “I am Tiqodomiqon, Justiciar of the Sun Host,” the Sun fey said. “Do I have the honor of addressing the Lady Ardent Sojourner?”

“I dunno how much of an honor it is, kid, but yeah, that’s me. What’s going on?”

“May I verify you?”

“Be my guest.” She waited while he cast the spell to take her aether signature.

“Lady Sojourner.” He kneeled to her, with a motion to the crowd behind him. All the ones who weren’t already kneeling did so. The barbarian fey next to him lifted her layered skirts and curtsied with her head bowed.

“Uh. If this is for my benefit, please stop,” Ardent told them. “What are you doing?”

“Please allow me to present Diani of Cairwelint,” Tiqodomiqon said, with a flourish to the barbarian fey beside him.

“Uh.” Ardent stared at Diani. She looked like a mortal from Cairwelint, with their characteristic death-like pallor to her skin, barely tinted with pink and orange, and a narrow, raised ridge of a nose. She had wrinkled skin around her eyes and mouth, like a middle-aged mortal. Stubby mortal ears.

And she brimmed with aether, like a fey.

“My lady.” Diani rose from her curtsey. “We have come to express our gratitude to you, for securing our freedom.” She spoke the fey language well, but with a distinctive accent.

“Diani is a mortal name,” Ardent said, stupidly.

“Indeed, for I am…or at least was, until three days ago…a mortal woman,” Diani said.

“What.”

Diani smiled, adding more wrinkles to her face. “The King of the Sun Host, Jinokimijin, may the gods honor his name forever, freed the mortal slaves of the Sun Host. When he did so, he offered us several choices, at your behest. We could go to the mortal world here, what you call your ‘Old World’. Very few of us were from this world. We could remain in the Sun Etherium and wait until the fey shard travels back to our original worlds. We understand that in most cases, the fey do not know when this will be, or if it will happen in a mortal lifetime. We can try to make a life for ourselves here, in the fey shard, either in an Etherium or in the Broken Lands. And, if we wished to remain permanently in the fey shard, we could become…fey.”

What,” Ardent repeated.

“If I may?” Tiqodomiqon glanced to Diani, and she nodded. “One of the powers of the Heart of the Etherium is to affiliate fey with the Etherium. It is rarely used, because fey can affiliate themselves. But King Jinokimijin discovered, or perhaps rediscovered, that the Heart may be used to affiliate…non-fey. Making them fey. All the barbarian fey you see here were mortals who chose affiliation with the Sun Etherium, and then chose to unaffiliate. Making them barbarian fey, beholden to no Etherium.”

“Free,” Diani added. “Like all fey beings. We who chose this path can no longer be harmed, caught, or held prisoner. Because of you, Lady Sojourner.”

“I swear before Duty and Justice that I never talked to Jino about freeing you,” Ardent said. “I had no idea there were even this many of you.”

“Ah, but you spoke to his son of it,” Tiqodomiqon said. “My brother, Prince Mirohirokon, gave you his word. King Jinokimijin wishes you to know that the Sun King will honor his pledge.”

Without thinking about it, Ardent took a step towards Tiqodomiqon and grabbed him by the front of his coat. She hauled the tall, broad-shouldered fey to the level of her face. He allowed it, looking a little bemused but unafraid. “Is Miro—” dead – she couldn’t say the word, couldn’t say did I kill him? Justice, just tell me, “—tell me he’s alive,” she finished, in a choked whisper.

He dropped his eyes. “He is alive,” he said, but she still held her breath, certain there was a but coming. “Yet gravely ill, with a sickness aether cannot treat.”

Ardent set the Sun fey down and took a step back. “I have to see him.”

“I have a mission to speak with the Moon Queen first, and deliver these people to their destinations, but I will be glad to escort you afterwards—”

“No,” Ardent said. “That’s fine. I know the way. Lady Diani—”

“Just Diani, my lady. I am no noblewoman.”

“Me either, Diani. Me either. Anyway, it’s great to meet you, and awfully nice of you to have come all this way just to say thanks, and wow, that’s a lot of walking boots you must’ve brought, good on Jino for that.” Ardent turned to the rest of the crowd too, and raised her voice. “So, you’re all very welcome for whatever small part I played in getting you free. And I don’t know if anyone’s apologized to you yet for you being captured in the first place, but let me apologize for that. It was a crappy, unjust, wrong thing to do, and against every fey Ideal, and you don’t owe me – or anybody else – gratitude for fixing that. We owed you that. We owe you a lot more than that, and I don’t know if you’re ever gonna get back enough to make up for the time and homes and families we took from you. And I’m sorry for that too. Uhh.” She waved vaguely to them, and some of them, especially the children, waved back. “Anyway. Good luck to you all, and I hope I get to see you again someday, but I gotta go now. Bye!”

They looked confused as she waved again and backed away. Then one of them started cheering her name. Soon they all were, despite that being a terrible congratulations-you’re-free speech. Ardent didn’t stop to question it. She had to go.



Don't want to wait until the next post to read more? Buy The Moon Etherium now! Or check out the author's other books: A Rational Arrangement and Further Arrangements.
Me 2012

Poll RPG: The Master of Ceremonies

"I told you I could help, Master Corydalis." Master Smoke gave him a playful smile. Corydalis smiled back, and then ducked his head quickly as one horn caught on a tree branch along the path to the street. Watch where you're going, not just her, he reminded himself. What are you, besotted? You shouldn't be staring like that at a contractor in any event. He schooled his eyes forward as Smoke said, "I feel silly for not knowing, but, um, what exactly does a master of ceremonies do? I mean, here at Courthall. I gather it's not like the theatrical equivalent."

Corydalis chuckled. "Not exactly, no, although sometimes the job does feel like directing a three-ring circus. I am the head of those functions of Courthall that are not directly related to governance. So, for example, maintenance, catering, scribe and messenger services, Courthall security, groundskeeping, entertainment, events planning -- these departments all ultimately answer to me. The representatives and nobility have some personal staff, and they organize the committee and general assembly meetings and other affairs of governance."

Smoke's blue eyes rounded, her ears canted to the side as she gazed up at him. "Oh. That sounds like a lot of work."

"It is," he said, ruefully. "But I have a great deal of help. When I have too much to do, it is almost always my own fault."

"How is that?"

By now they had reached the street, and Corydalis spread his wings and held out a hand to flag down one of the patrolling floaters. He handed Smoke into its cab, then followed behind her. "Because it means that I have chosen to do work myself that I ought to delegate to someone else. Or I have chosen the wrong delegate for a job and I need to hire the right one. There are some fires one cannot avoid having to put out oneself, of course. But the art lies in getting the right people pointed in the right directions, and then loosing them to their tasks. If I do that properly, there's nothing left for me to do."

Smoke leaned back in the floater seat, her grey features thoughtful. "That still sounds like a lot of work. So if you're in charge of all the non-governing stuff, who do you report to?"

"The prime minister," he told her.

She gave him a sidelong look so alarmed that Corydalis laughed. "You report to the prime minister?!"

"Don't worry, it's not contagious."

"I don't mean -- that is -- what are you doing managing a replacement enchanter personally?"

"My job." He gave her another rueful smile, and added, "Badly. The details comprise a complicated political equation."



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studious

Roleplaying in Different Media

Talking about using Discord for an RPG reminded me of how the media in which I play a game shapes the game. Every medium has its own strength and weaknesses. For example:

Face-to-face: In-person games have great advantages in speed. It's much faster when you can see and hear players clearly. You can use physical props readily: miniatures, dice, and game boards are easy to use in-person. But there are disadvantages to face-to-face: there's no built-in, automatic record of game play. You have to schedule a time and you can only play with the people who show up. During play, the GM either has to prepare for a variety of different player choices, or limit player choice, or be good at improvising. I find game play less immersive in person: it's hard for a GM to play multiple NPCs at once who are presenting different perspectives or arguing with each other. It's also hard for a player to convincingly play characters who are very unlike the player.

Video or voice-based games: I have little experience with these, and what I do is mostly "this is an inferior version of face-to-face." The only advantage I know of over face-to-face is "you don't have to physically get people in the same room". If there are others, they've eluded me.

Online scheduled games: My own experience with this is mostly on MUCKs, but it's played similarly for me on other text-based chat clients. This style approximates face-to-face in that participants all show up at a scheduled time, all play and respond to each other in real time, and stop playing at the end of the session. The advantages of this style: it's easy and natural for the GM to switch between characters, and participants can easily be characters who are nothing like themselves. The GM still needs to prepare/improvise, but usually has a little more time to think between actions, because play is slower. Disadvantages: play is slower (everything has to be typed). There are "virtual tabletop" tools out there; I don't know if these come close to the ease of setup of real props now, because I haven't tried them in years.

Online unscheduled synchronous games: This is the MUCK style of "you show up when you want to roleplay and play with whoever's there". I have never found this to be a very satisfying model of roleplay, because it's hard to tell a story when you don't know who will be involved in it or for how long. Sometimes this encourages burnout -- people who are hyperinvolved and always on and always playing until they flame out after a few months. But I've known other people who made it work. The main advantage over scheduled is in the name: you don't have to schedule play.

Email or forum-based games: These play fairly similarly in my experience. Participants play by posting to the email group or forum. Play is asynchronous: you send a post to the group and you get responses hours or days later. Email is good for games that are driven by conversation or player actions that don't require die rolls. They are terrible for games with a lot of combat or anything else that requires die-rolling. It's good in that you don't have to schedule a time for it, and bad in that it can result in burnout -- people can't look away from the game for fear it will get away from them.

Discord is an interesting medium for a game because a Discord chat group has a persistent history. MUCKs and many chat clients only show you the activity while you are connected to them. Discord will let you scroll back to the start of the chat, if you want.

Discord can be set up to give notifications, or not, so it's easy to see if a chat is active or to ignore it.

For various reasons, my own preferred play is unscheduled and asynchronous. I am generally okay with responding in a time frame of "several hours" and run into issues when it's "a few minutes".

And I am thinking: how do you structure a story so that it best accommodates my style of play? For example, I know that if I want to play a combat-heavy dungeon stomp, I'm best off doing that face-to-face.

But if I want to have a game where:
* Play is unscheduled and unsynchronous
* Participants are involved at varying levels of commitment: some people respond quickly, some respond slowly

What kind of features built into the story will best enable that?

One thing that I discovered while playing with Bard Bloom was that telepathy among the PCs was extremely useful for keeping a game active. All the players could talk to each other without the GM needing to be involved in the conversation, even if the party was presently split up.

Splitting up the party had advantages in forum/email play that it doesn't have in most other forms of play: it allows the GM to interact with each player on that player's priorities, without them getting trampled over by players who respond more quickly. This requires a pretty active GM. In theory, you could get this same effect in Discord by splitting the party between different chat channels. I'm not sure how well it would work in practice.

Mostly, I am thinking about story features like "telepathy": things you can set up so there's an in-character explanation for something that is useful/needed due to out-of-character reasons. What if there's a story explanation for why characters are more or less active at different point in the story, for OOC reasons? One of my friends used to play a game where the characters all had a curse that sometimes one or more of them would turn into a gemstone, and the other characters would have to protect them. The "curse" took effect if the player was absent that week. This isn't a very compelling storytelling hook by itself, but it's the kind of thing I'm thinking about. What if the game took place on an astral plane, and characters act at different speeds depending on arbitrary factors (that amount OOCly to "how available were various participants?") How do you structure this so that players don't feel like they're disadvantaged if they're not around as much?

Anyway, I am kind of stuck on what kind of stories lend themselves best to the format, and what kind of system. So I wanted to write this out and see what other people thought. :)

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Me 2012

The Reckoning (71/80)

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After several days, Jino felt as if he’d been working as the Sun King forever, and yet that he’d barely made a start on all that needed to be done.

For many years, Jinokimijin had been accumulating information for this coup: not just on the phoenix rose and other potential weapons with which to overthrow Ele, but on the people of the Sun Host. Taking power was the least important part of his plan. Far more crucial was what he did with power once he had it. One of his tools had been frequent conversations with Mirohirokon to learn what his son’s soulsight taught him. Jino had taken careful notes on whom he could trust, what their weaknesses and strengths were, who was beyond hope of reform, and more. He’d spent years piecing details together because he had not wanted to give Miro the obligation of being judge and jury over the Etherium. Miro didn’t trust his Gift with decisions of such weight. Accordingly, Jino had intended to take that responsibility for himself, and never tell his son how much he relied upon his judgment. Not that Miro’s soulsight was Jino’s only source, but it was perhaps the one he trusted most.

A side benefit of having conducted most of his determinations in advance was that he didn’t need Mirohirokon’s aid now. That was as well, given that such aid was not available.

His new Justiciar, the former prince Tiqodomiqon, had been zealous in freeing captive mortals. Their plights varied, from abused creatures tormented by sadistic fey, to bloodsport gladiators, to the pampered, glamour-confused pets of one of his older sisters.

Jinokimijin had separated the abusers among the Sun Host into a few categories. Fey who’d been peripherally involved in abuse, of either mortals or fey, he took no particular action against beyond making it clear that his regime would be different. If Jino was to be fair, the category of “peripherally involved/tolerated” included most of the Etherium, including himself. It wasn’t practical to take preventative measures against them all. The next category involved those who’d been integral to the abuse – slavers and fey like Fallen, who’d manipulated fey into torturing themselves. Some of these, Jino judged reformable and their faults relatively minor, based on Miro’s insight and his own research. With that group, Jino used the phoenix rose to rob them of fey evasion and elusiveness, but did not imprison them. Instead, he put them under tracer watch, and made sure they knew that the only thing that would keep them safe from captivity was the good will of his reign. If they didn’t want to end up in chains, they’d need to behave. With worse offenders, and ones that Jino had little hope of improving, Jino also constricted their ability to hold and use aether. That rendered them much less of a threat to any mortals they might find.

All these effects were reversible, Jino informed his victims, if their behavior and character improved.

Then there were the ones Jino had no hope for: ex-Queen Eletanene; ex-crown Princess Sivakavivi; ex-Justiciar Wodorarava; ex-Chancellor Ovaratata; two exceptionally cruel slavers, Gonoqatoto and Polavatova; and Shadow of Fallen Scent.

He had mixed feelings about including Shadow of Fallen Scent among his victims. He’d released her from their pact after she’d been forcibly unaffiliated from the Moon Etherium – no point in taking the chance of her somehow gaining ownership of a phoenix rose again. But he was still holding her prisoner. On the one hand, he had no doubts that Fallen was a dangerous, vicious monster. The torture she’d made him personally endure was among the least of her crimes. On the other, she wasn’t a subject of the Sun Etherium. Since her crimes had been committed in the Moon Etherium, it’d make more sense to let them punish her. It would’ve been a good political gesture to offer the Moon Queen their criminal back. But returning her to the Moon Etherium for trial meant putting her among her allies. That they’d cast her out in her absence did not guarantee that the Moon Etherium had either the capability or the will to neutralize the threat she posed in person.

In the end, the deciding factor was that Jino had the power to make sure Fallen could do no more harm to any fey. He had no legitimate claim to authority beyond raw power anyway, so why let the lack of jurisdiction stop him now?

Jino had the seven brought, bound and gagged, before him during full Sun Court. His court proceedings were open, so they had hundreds of onlookers, including many whom Jino knew despised him. But they were all silent for this, stunned by the sight of fey who were now as helpless as mortals. Tiqodomiqon presented the seven by name, and lists of their wrongdoings. The Justiciar read every charge aloud: mortals they’d enslaved, or killed, or had killed, fey they’d bullied – many to suicide – possessions they’d seized or destroyed, fey lives ruined, and so forth. It took over an hour.

When he finished, Jino spoke. “To ensure that you can enact no more cruelties of these kinds, you have each been stripped of fey evasion, elusiveness, and invulnerability. I have also severed your connection with aether. You will be exiled to the mortal world, where you will remain for one hundred and twelve years, until the fey shard returns with the next cycle. This is not a death sentence. You remain unaging. You will not die of exposure, dehydration, or starvation. It is a kinder fate than many of your victims received, and better than you deserve.” And I don’t do it for you. “But you will not be invulnerable. I suggest you learn to respect mortals, if for no other reason than because they can kill you now.”

Jino paused for a moment to let that sink in, then continued, “If you wish, I will give you new trueshapes of your choosing. You may find life in the mortal world easier if you look like one of them, but I leave this up to you. You may express your preference now, and say any final words you have for the Etherium. We’ll begin with – oh, you, Polavatova.” He motioned to Tiqo, and Tiqo used a flick of aether to dissolve the gag on the former slaver.

“This is a joke,” she said. “I haven’t committed any crime, and you are no King. You’ll always be a disgrace, Jino.”

“I really don’t care, Pola. Do you want a new trueshape for your exile or not?”

She flared her nostrils. “Yes. Male, human, large and strong as possible, handsome, of the dominant ethnicity for wherever you’re dumping us.”

Jino shaped a homunculus for her, and set it to one side.

The next slaver didn’t bother complaining about the process. He had the same gender and ethnicity preference as Pola, but asked for average size and high overall fitness. Then Gonoqatoto licked his lips and said, “You said this wasn’t a death sentence.”

“Yes?”

“Most mortals of the Old World die of disease long before age claims them. May I have our fey invulnerability to disease restored?”    

Jino considered this, embarrassed that he’d not thought about disease at all. “Yes. All of you will.”

Gono bowed. “Thank you, gracious Sun King.” Pola glared at him.    

When she was ungagged, the crown princess spat in his direction – to no effect, given the twenty feet between them. She cursed him, the court, the Etherium, offered some consoling words to her mother, and rejected the offer of a new trueshape. The ex-chancellor was much the same, and the ex-Justiciar added in some threats to his posturing.    

When it was Fallen’s turn, she asked, “Which mortal country are you leaving us in?” Her spirit had broken when the Moon Etherium threw her from their High Court and unaffiliated her. Jino assumed she was plotting, or trying to, but she’d given up complaining.

Jino smiled and stroked the phoenix rose, which he had perched on the arm of his throne. “It’s a surprise, Fallen. I shan’t ruin it for you.”

She sighed, softly. “Then a human woman, beautiful by whatever the local standards are, and as fit as possible given that constraint.” Fallen swept her gaze over the court. “You are next, you know,” she told them. “What your King does to us…it’s only a matter of time before he does it to you. Or maybe it will be worse for you. He sacrificed a great deal to get the power he has now. You know he’ll never let it go, don’t you? You’ve bowed to a tyrant. You’ll never know freedom again. How long before you start beheading your enemies, Disgraced Jino?”    

“I’m not beheading you, Fallen. I’m pretty sure the rest of the Etherium is safe,” Jino said, dryly, and moved on to his ex-wife.

Ele stood erect, as haughty as the queen she’d once been. “Better to live free in the Old World than under the thumb of a slimy, treacherous slug like you, Jino,” she said, scornfully.

“Slugs don’t have thumbs. Do you want a new trueshape, Ele?”

“No. Let the mortals see me for what I am. Let them learn respect. I am Queen Eletanene of the Sun Host, and fey powers or no, they will learn I am a force to be reckoned with.” She surveyed the assembled, and sniffed. “You will all learn.”

Jino wondered for a moment what Ele’s real body looked like, and if she would still be proud if he stripped away the tall elegant golden form she’d assumed. This isn’t about punishment, or humiliation. This is about making sure they can’t hurt anyone again, he reminded himself. He gathered the homunculi he’d made for the others. “Great. Who wants to come with me to see this lot off? It’ll take a few hours.”

Amalatiti and Tiqo both wished to come; Jino let Ama do so but asked Tiqo to stay and keep an eye on things. One of Ele’s husbands, Ivotinono, wanted to come, even though Jino wasn’t visiting her punishment on any of them. Two of Jino’s other partisans asked to join them: Miro’s old friend, Talo, as well as Jino’s Surety, Tari; he let them. Jino asked three other individuals to attend: Kimikireki, Ele’s second husband; a deposed Chancellor, Deqavaneqan; and Manemafate, one of Ele’s pet bards. All three had been open in their condemnation of Jino’s coup, although they’d not been on his list of those who needed to be curbed. They were not pleased by Jino’s request, but they agreed to come. Probably because they assumed he’d make them if they declined. How much harder will this job become, once people realize I’m not going to force compliance with my requests? Guess I’ll find out when that happens.

Jino took the phoenix rose on his arm. He pulled out one of his extractor rings, and used it to restore just the part of fey invulnerability that protected them against disease. Then he gathered the seven prisoners and seven witnesses together, and used the bird to teleport them fourteen miles east-by-northeast. A second later, he jumped the group again, and again, with only the occasional pause to orient himself via scrying ball. While every fey was used to teleporting around the Etherium, teleports in quick succession like this were rarely necessary outside of a few specialized games. After a score of jumps, Ele complained, “Surely we’re outside of the Broken Lands by now? This doesn’t look at all familiar.”

Jino teleported them again. “I’m glad you’re lost already. We’ve only a few hundred more jumps to go, don’t worry.” He followed that statement with another port.

Talo paled. “A few – hundred – more teleports?” he asked, his words taking on a staccato rhythm as they were interrupted by ports. “I regret – volunteering – already.”

“I did tell you it’d take a few hours,” Jino said, before his next teleport.

“I thought you – meant walking.” Manemafate grimaced.

“And leave them just a few hundred miles away?” Jino triggered another port. “No. Where they’re going, they won’t be able to get back before the fey shard moves on.” An hour and a half later, Jino stopped in the midst of a vast plain of tall grasses and brush. A wide, winding river snaked past them, while a few strange twisted trees dotted the landscape. Jino transformed Polavatova into his new mortal form and unbound him, then left him behind as he teleported the rest of the group away. “You’re not even going to exile us together?” Ele said, stunned.

“No. You’ll have years to find each other, if you want to. Think of it as giving you purpose,” Jino said. “You and Sivaka will stand out, anyway.”

“Please, your majesty.” It was the first time Sivaka, Ele’s daughter, had acknowledged his title. “At least let me stay with Mother.”

Jino looked at her for a long moment, then shook his head. “No, Sivaka. Your worst problem is that you’ve spent too much time with Ele already.” He teleported them onwards.

He left them scattered across thousands of miles of land, in wildernesses some miles from the nearest mortal habitation. Fallen asked for a mirror after Jino transformed her, and he provided her with one. “I look like death,” she remarked. Birdsong and the chirping of insects echoed in the forest around them. “This is what these people prefer, is it?”

“The paler the better, as I understand it. I can change you to something else if you prefer. It’s of no matter to me,” Jino told her.

“It will do. I wonder what hideous tongue the locals speak? I suppose I shall find out, if wild animals don’t kill me first.” Fallen turned from them and started downstream alongside the wooded river they were near.

Ele was the last exiled. Jino stopped the group in a forested glen, and she turned to her husbands. “Ivo, Kireki – come with me. My prince-consorts. You still have all your powers. He has no legitimate authority over you. Don’t look at him. Look at me. You pledged yourselves to my side. You owe it to me.”

Despite her words, Ivo and Kireki both glanced at Jino, nervously. Jino didn’t speak. He didn’t want to leave Ele with a fey tool at her disposal, if only because the humans did not deserve a tyrant. But Ivo and Kireki were not monsters. He wouldn’t punish them for what they might do under the influence of their wife.

“Are you testing us, Jino?” Kireki asked directly. “Why did you bring us here? Do you seek an excuse to exile us as well?”

Jino shook his head. “No. Witnesses. That I did as I said I would. That they were exiled, not killed.”

Amalatiti had taken a seat on a fallen log, and smiled at them. “Of course I’d back his majesty up, but at this point, everyone expects me to back Jino. No one expects you to.”

Ele spat at her daughter. “You treacherous little beast. I should’ve strangled you in the womb.”

“I hate you too, Mom. Can we go now, Jino?”

“Wait,” Ivo said. He took Ele’s hands, and kissed her forehead. “I loved you once, Ele. But you drove our child away from us, by your own actions. And this…you brought this on yourself. I won’t go down with you.” He stepped away.

She curled her lip at him in disdain, then turned from him to Kireki. She took her fourth husband’s face in her golden hands. “And you, my love? You know I’ve always favored our daughters. Do you think they will forgive you for deserting me?”

By Sun Etherium standards, they were not alike: Kireki was a strong, broad-shouldered man with dark brown eyes and an oval face. Ele stood a few inches shorter, her frame lean and willowy, her face carved in smooth, delicate lines, eyes amber-bright. But they both had gold-dusted skin and long white-blonde hair, long fey ears, both tall by human standards. They were a matched set. Ele had always insisted her husbands match her. Kireki drew her hands from his cheeks and clasped them between his own. “They already have,” he said, softly. “Your favoritism did not make them your selfless minions; it merely spoiled them. Ele, there is no justice here. Jino is a usurper, a destroyer, a tyrant. I know. But that he is wrong does not mean that you are right.”

Jino listened with the same bland expression he’d worn for all the other insults he’d endured. He’d thought, after everything he’d been through, that words had lost their power to wound. He’d thought himself beyond the need to defend his actions or impress the populace with his righteousness. But Kireki’s quiet, flat condemnation stung anyway. In the earliest days of Jino’s marriage to Ele, Kireki had been his favorite fellow-husband, the one who’d been kindest to him, the one who’d been most fatherly and attentive to Miro. Of course, Kireki had scorned him as much as anyone after the divorce. I truly could not care less what Ele thinks of me. But I guess part of me still misses the friend I thought I had in you, Kireki. He tensed his jaw and let the scene unfold.

Ele had curled her fingers around her spouse’s. “I am your wife and your Queen, Kireki! I command you to stay!”

“I will not.” He freed his hands. “The pledge we once exchanged, I long ago repaid, and you long ago betrayed. I owe you nothing. Goodbye, Ele. And…may the Ideals show you the way.” Kireki turned back to Jino. “I am ready to depart.”

As Ele launched into an obscenity-laced tirade against them all, Jino teleported himself and his witnesses away.



Don't want to wait until the next post to read more? Buy The Moon Etherium now! Or check out the author's other books: A Rational Arrangement and Further Arrangements.
Me 2012

Poll RPG: Burbling with Excitement

Master Corydalis looked, if anything, more astonishing than he had at their morning meeting. He'd changed as well, into a jacket with a long, swishing train and a high front: considered a feminine cut in Lightshel, though it looked good on every gender. Corydalis, with his broad shoulders and narrow hips, wore it very well indeed. As she stood beside him, she thought he was even taller than she'd thought, until she realized from his stride that he was wearing high-heeled boots:. Heels were masculine choice, for the extra height they gave and the elegance they lent a man's walk.

Absorbed by the look of him, the striking contrast between gold hair and black skin, the feel of his muscular arm beneath her hand, Smoke almost missed his question. Her words tripped over themselves to make up for the pause. "I had a great day! The supply store was out of treated oakleaf, which is my usual durability reagent for gatherer spells. But I'd heard titanium-gold wire was superior, and they had that. So I got it, and a book on techniques, and it was amazing! There are so many applications for the stuff, and it has a lot of properties that will make information spells much better. For instance, I have an analysis spell that I use on all my gatherers, and with this wire, I was able to make it a much more detailed spell. It's much better at pinpointing the source of anomalous reports, whether it's interference through the Wall, or a physical event, and even what kind of physical event: weather, water, fire, physical disruption by living or nonliving material. Also, it'll make the gatherer itself more resilient against that kind of interference."

Smoke beamed up at him as she babbled on, "and that's not even all! I haven't finished the book yet, because I needed to get all those gatherers set up. Which I did! Five of them. But I'm looking forward to rest of the monograph because my work is so dependent on good information, and this is a treasure mine. I do hope it's not overstating the matter." She ground to a halt, abruptly realizing she'd been burbling technicalities at a non-practitioner. Her ears tilted back. "My apologies, Master Corydalis, I didn't intend to ramble on. I hope your day went well?"

He smiled, setting Smoke at ease. "My day was fine, if not so engrossing as yours. When will your work of today bear fruit?"

"I'll check them tomorrow. They'll have records of any activity that happens between setup and then. There's some overlap with the new ones and the one I set up yesterday, so I'm curious to see if they give different results. The new ones will indicate ant activity inside the wards even if the ants don't cross the barriers -- that's a feature of the new wire! -- so I can find where your carpenter ant nests are, since they're likely to be inside the buildings."

Corydalis's eyes lit. "Now that is excellent news."



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Me 2012

Poll RPG: Genderfluid

Smoke had only brought one change of clothes to Hallston. They were expecting their wardrobe to catch up with them when the apprentices did, tomorrow. But they didn't want to wear the same clothes to dinner when they'd been tromping around dusty rooftops in it all day. Not that they'd changed for dinner yesterday, but Master Corydalis's day suit had been more formal than what Licorice or Blackwood were wearing. So they stopped at a ready-made clothing store instead of going back to the hotel.

They browsed through the sorts of things they usually wore: long jackets in rich colors or dark ones, silk scarves, crisp shirts, and the like. None of felt right, and Smoke found themselves drifting towards fancy, frilly clothing.

An evening gown like the sun rising caught their eye, dyed firey red at the ankle-length hem to pale yellow at the high collar. It had a matched short jacket with lace cuffs, lending it an air of professionalism despite the long, draping skirt. It didn't have the beading or jewels of the most formal gowns.

Smoke didn't own anything like it.

They tried it on, and stood before the dressing room mirror, staring at a feminine reflection. Slowly, Smoke exchanged enby earrings and put on a pair of female ones she had in her jacket pocket. She was surprised to find how much she liked the drape and swish of the dress, the hidden girdle that slimmed her waist, the way the jacket sugested more bust than she possessed, the cheerful pastel colors, everything womanly about it. She wanted it at once, and second-guessed that desire almost as quickly. Is this the right kind of dress to wear to a dinner with my new employer? Why did I ask my new employer to dinner anyway? Do I want to be female because Master Corydalis is so very imposingly male? Am I afraid that being enby is too much like competing with him, and I can't? Am I trying to conform to some ancient stereotype of little female paired with larger male? That sterotype doesn't even work for draka, their females are taller. Smoke's train of thought derailed as she tried to imagine a person bigger than Corydalis. ... usually taller. Maybe not taller than him. Would Master Corydalis find a smaller male more appealing? Do I care this much about what he thinks? Is  this about him?

Or do I just want to wear a pretty dress and be female for a few hours?


Smoke rolled her eyes. The whole thing felt like a debate that ought to have been settled a century ago, when gender-signal earrings fell into fashion and people stopped policing the gender identities of others. But here she was.

She made sure the expense form fit in one of the gown's pockets, then strode out of the dressing room with the skirt swishing pleasingly about her ankles. "I'll take this, please." She let the clerk talk her into matching slippers, but held the line when he tried to persuade her to add costume jewelry or a flashier pair of female earrings. She didn't want her outfit to be too fanciful.

When she returned to Courthall, she found Corydalis already in the House of Chambers' lobby. "Oh! I hope I've not kept you waiting long, sir."

Corydalis half-turned at the sound of her voice. His motion froze, arrested, wings raised slightly for balance. Then he completed the move and delivered a courteous bow. "Not at all, master enchanter. I came down from my office only a moment ago."

Smoke relaxed, returning a curtsey. "Good timing, then. Did you have any place in particular in mind? Someone recommended I try Curry This and it sounded good."

"I've not been there, madame, but I am game to try." He offered his arm. "Please, lead on." As she took his arm and they glided out of the giant lobby, he asked, "So, how did your first full day at Courthall go?"



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Me 2012

Rumors and Information (70/80)

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It took three days to remove Fallen from the High Court. In addition to her physical evidence, Ardent convinced two of the thugs who’d tried to abduct Miro and the one she’d caught trying to rob her to testify that Fallen had coerced them into their crimes. Others came forward with more details about Fallen’s corruption and misdeeds. Fallen had a variety of methods for indebting and obligating fey to her, from promising artists grants and visibility for their work, to threatening to destroy their creations, to catering to their darkest desires. Once she had someone in her debt, she would ask small favors to drag them deeper into ethical murk, tricking them into enabling much worse acts. Fallen would generously ensure that their complicity remained hidden – and they would end further in her debt for that. It was social manipulation built on fear and secrecy, instead of mutual support and trust. The method had been remarkably effective.

To Ardent, the most appalling part was that Fallen had re-enabled the slave trade in mortals. It was one of her dirty, well-kept secrets, partly because Skein of the Absolute had no tolerance for mortal slavery, and partly because it made a much better handle for control when the fey recipients had to fear discovery and the revelation of their crimes. But some fey, like Stalks Hunter, had supported Fallen’s quest to build a new Etherium because she’d promised them the abuse of mortals would be acceptable in it. “Why should we treat them like people?” Stalks had said, unrepentant. “They’re not people. They’re weak, fragile, powerless, nothing. When one gets broken, who notices? If I choose to be careless with my toys, whose business is it besides my own?”

Ardent found herself helping the Justiciar – whose debt to Fallen now manifested as a puppy-like eagerness to prove he did not support her misdeeds – look for surviving mortals to free. The queen also wanted evidence against Fallen’s worst cohorts. Some of Fallen’s allies refused to give up on their patron, or were determined to obstruct the investigation because they knew they could not make it through the coming purge unscathed.

Days were not enough. Months probably wouldn’t be.

But then the rumors started about what had happened in the Sun Etherium. There wasn’t much contact between the two Etheriums, as normal teleports and farspeaking could not breach the hundred-eighty mile gap between them. But some barbarian traders and wanderers travelled between the two, bearing news and stories that soon turned to wild tales. By the morning of the third day, the Moon Etherium seethed with them. The wildest said Jinokimijin had returned and slaughtered the entire Sun Court while the Sun Etherium’s wards were drained. Others contended that only the Sun Queen was dead, or that no one was dead, or that the Sun Queen had executed Mirohirokon and Jinokimijin had killed her in revenge. Everyone agreed that Jinokimijin was now the ruler of the Sun Etherium. There were further rumors that the Sun King had declared war; upon whom or what varied.

Shortly after the Moon Court convened on the third day, amid rumors of a bloodbath in the Sun Etherium, the High Court ended their deliberations. They ruled that, for the good of the Etherium, Shadow of Fallen Scent was removed from her post as Surety to the Queen. The ruling was unanimous.

It didn’t end with Fallen’s removal. It only began.



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