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File: 1659658239173.jpg (Spoiler Image, 175.26 KB, 1024x1024, Moon.jpg)

 No.761609[View All]

>Iron King Ischyros, the Far Seeker, sets down the fourth and final Report of the Agatecastle Investigation, and sips the coffee Sister Root had set before him. They are the only ones to occupy the conference room on this Cycle.

>Mabin, High Director of the Lux Deorum, is uncharacteristically absent.

>"Sister," Ischyros says, keen to take his mind off anything other than his confidant's absence. "Make a note about this Concord program. It desperately needs some security updates. I mean, have you read this Report? Seems just about everyone's exploiting it one way or another."

>"Yes, sire," the Sister says. She casts another glance at the conference room's sealed and enchanted door. "…Th-this Report was late in coming, I note. Do you think Mabin's absence may be–"

>Before she can finish that sentence, the door flies open. With quick and long strides, a lanky white Diamond Dog, his clothing ruffled and stained by dried blood, enters the room. Sister Root gasps, fishing for the medical supplies she always carries in her saddlebag.

>"You must forgive my tardiness, your Majesty," High Director Mabin says as he takes a seat, taking care to not let the dried blood flake off as he fishes his cigarettes from his coat pocket. "I had an unexpected rendezvous with a certain Noble and spent the past hours in a most gripping discussion."

>Iron King Ischyros scoffs. "Surely we have known each other long enough that you do not need to hide your personal affairs behind euphemisms!" he says. "Truly, it seems the missus was–"

>"No, no," Mabin interrupts. "I speak plainly, but allow me to be even clearer. The Noble who accosted me was none other than Lady Offbeaten Path, of House Titanite."
599 posts and 4 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.


>Or wait….

She quickly shoots a message to Mountain pointing out that those could be any castles agents, and given all the discrepancies maybe he saw a mistake?


I will message Mountain and remind him that every Castle would be built to the same standard, as setting up in this one was no more byzantine than our own.


I'll message Mountain pointing out the details of the number of years since the collapse from different survivors we've encountered lining up with the Abbey's sacred numbers.



Mountain steals another glance at his comp, earning a scowl from Mogao.

"Something distracting you, Knight-Brother?" Mogao asks.

>"…Just organizing my thoughts," Mountain says. "You could stand to do the same."

Mogao's eyes widen at the insult, but Mountain presses the advantage.

>"Nothing in any of that footage showed Ironcastle materiel or regalia," Mountain says. "You have the word of only a single witness – yourself – to attest to its existence. Even the skiffs and gunships were unmarked. This evidence would not indict Ironcastle in any reputable court of law."

"I know what I saw," Mogao protests. "The dragon is under the effect of some spell or Mutation which prevents remote viewing and recording. Other survivors would attest the same."

>"Other survivors, you say?" Mountain asks. "Lucky for you, we have one in our custody. And their account differs from yours – down to the very time frame of the attack."

Mogao pauses. "…Bring them here."

>"Your demands are not our highest priority," Mountain says. "Our investigation is. And currently we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Until both you and the Necromancer guarantee our safe return from here–"

"I don't remember giving you a say in the matter, saboteur," Mogao sneers. "Don't worry about the Necromancer. I have the both of you in check."

The Necromancer sighs and shrugs.

>"I do not suppose that *I* will be afforded a chance to cut in anytime?" the Necromancer asks.


>I wonder what number his skeletons will have.


I read Campfire's message and then bring it up with Mountain, instructing him to ask the Necromancer what the 'Knights of the Gravepyre' would remember in their own timeline. Then any other skeletons who rose from Agatecastle's fallen.


Deadweight continues to maintain a low profile.


Lost waits until nobody is looking in her direction to gently prep for if she has to pounce on Mogao for a quick kill.


When Mogao sees Mountain glance at his comp again, his eyes narrow. Several more AR displays open up around Mogao, displaying the very meeting-chamber in which he stands, only from different angles. Cautaa winces and motions for you to get back from the door, but Huitlapan shakes his head, and jerks his chin in Lost's direction.

[1d10+2] Mogao search roll, has to beat DC 10 to reveal Lost from stealth

>Mountain turns to the Necromancer. "Here's your shot: I have a question for you."

>"Go on?" the Necromancer says.

>"Ask your undead – the ones you've gathered from Agatecastle – what year they believe the destruction of Agatecastle took place."

>The Necromancer pauses. Then, in the next moment, a cold, clattering sound clicks from him, like bones rolling down across icy stones. Your companions and many of the Ironcastle forces shudder and brace themselves as it rolls over them. After some delay, the sound echoes in reverse, as the army of skeletons clatter their answers, the clamors building up in a great avalanche that crashes upon your ears.

>"Hmm hmm hmm…" the Necromancer says. "Ask a thousand people a question, come away with a thousand and one answers."

>"Come again?" Mountain asks.

>"Not all of them can remember," the Necromancer says. "The agony and ecstasy of the death-throes often obliterate the memories surrounding the moment of death. But those who do have given me countless contradictory responses. Some say four years ago, others five, others nine. Ten, sixteen, fifteen, thirteen, eighteen, thirty-six, forty-five, nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine…"

Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6


I, too, mentally prepare myself to set someone or something on fire.


Deadweight narrows her eyes.


Lost readied herself but waited.

>Let us see if this galvanizes him, or makes him reconsider.


I will wait now, tense.


The angels fan out from around Mogao, continuing their search of the room.

[1d10+2] Mogao search roll
[1d10+1] angel search roll

>"The defense calls its witnesses," Mountain says. "You can hear it straight from the source, your very countrymen. Something isn't quite right about any of our accounts. Almost nobody can agree as to when Agatecastle fell, even if you have certain theories about how it fell – theories you cannot substantiate. This goes beyond any of us, and you won't find the answer by picking a fight here."

"THIS CHANGES NOTHING," Mogao declares. "I saw the ringleader myself, an agent of Ironcastle. His arrival directly precedes Agatecastle's collapse, regardless of anything else."

>"You saw him, presumably, in an Ironcastle dress uniform," Mountain says. "But anyone can steal Ironcastle garb and put it on… you'd know that very well, wouldn't you?"

"Tch…" Mogao sneers. As you can recall, the first meeting you had with him saw him clothed in Ironcastle armor, which he used to pass himself off as being on the expedition.

>"I am afraid I must agree with ser Mogao," the Necromancer says. "Just as his demands are not your priority, your mission is not mine. I am here to liberate this Castle, myself. As someone from the sky, I have no stake in who truly is guilty in this murder mystery. I am bound for Ragnarok, and have need to gather my aesir."

"Hhhhhheheheh," Mogao laughs, regaining himself. "I said this changes nothing, Knight-Brother, including your position here. The Necromancer has no intentions of letting either of us go."

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7


>Well what now? See if the Necromancer will abide by attacking Mogao with us? Ask him about the diases with staffs?


>Bringing up the daises sounds like a good idea. Did anyone get pictures?


>I did.
I will message Mountain and suggest he ask about the Sun and Moon staffs, accompanied by a couple selected pictures I took while inside each of the small shrinerooms


Deadweight keeps out of sight and makes sure her allies aren't in immediate danger.


Xu flips through her pictures folder. ["Selfie… selfie… snail… dais! Here we go."]

Xu airdrops you a couple of images of the twin daises. She has at least one selfie with each. Firmgold's pictures look like the safer choice to use.

The angels ramp up their patrols as Mountain looks at his comp again.



>"Would it surprise you to hear that Ironcastle has itself been the target of sabotage?" Mountain asks.

Mogao doesn't respond– but the fact that he hasn't shot back an insult might be a good sign.

>"Cultists and terrorists rambling about oncoming ecological disaster shook up Ironcastle some months ago," Mountain continues. "And some of them had particular interest in the old legends of the Moon and the Sun."

Mogao's eyes widen… but this time, in genuine surprise, and recognition. The wind has been taken out of the sails of his fury and bloodlust– at least, for the moment.

>Mountain glances again at Seneschal Colonnade Reprise, who gives him a small nod.

>"I don't suppose…" Mountain continues. "Something similar happened in Agatecastle?"

"…Did you come this far just to chat about current events?" Mogao retorts. He's absolutely hiding something.

The Necromancer makes an exaggerated motion of checking a non-existent watch on his wrist.

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #2 8, 10 + 1 = 19


Lost could put two and two together and moved to try and bolt out of the room to the safety of another one.

[1d10] Evasion

Roll #1 5 = 5


I listen intently.


Deadweight spies one of the angels about to find Lost, and she tries to swiftly fly to where she is, out of sight of the angels and Mogao, and pull her out of there.


Roll #1 3 = 3


I message Mountain to say yes, because until this issue is solved all events are now current events. The desiccation of this murdered castle must be prevented.


As Lost darts for the door, an Angel fires a force blast at it, slamming it back shut before she can escape. The force knocks back Deadweight and the others, cutting them off from her.

Mogao snaps around to face Lost. "There y– you?"

>"Mogao!" Mountain shouts. "Hold it, we aren't finished!"

"Perfect timing…" Mogao begins. "…We're going to need all the help we can get against the Necromancer."

"Shit!" Cautaa hisses as he and the others scramble to get back up. He tries the door, but it's held fast now.

"Do we break it down?" Xu asks. "Or try the stairs?"


Deadweight's heart sinks when Mogao spots Lost. When Xu asks what they should do, she's conflicted.


"Steadfast, can you force it open?"

the Brotherhood ally attempts it [1d10+2]

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10


Lost panics for a moment, bouncing on her hooves as she pondered her thoughts before having an idea as she moved to the railing of the level overlooking Mogao she was on. "Wait! I… I have a question for the Necromancer. You mentioned a Ranga Rock or something? What is that? Why do you need some many skeletons for it?" she said trying to get the attention off of her and maybe get Mogao to not kill her.

She also quickly looked down to her comp seeing if she had any kind of chat she could open with Mogao so she could ask another question. She sent it hoping he would get it.

>Mogao this road will end with all of us just dead and desecrated by this monster. How many of your fellows has he enslaved so they can't even find peace after death? I can't say I know Ironcastle wouldn't do it, but I believe they wouldn't and I know they wouldn't do something as enslaving your dead to ruin this world even more."


"Here goes nothing."
I try and summon up some flaming homing magic.

Roll #1 2 = 2


You light your hair on fire in preparation for a dramatic entrance.

The door is heavy, and the sounds too muffled for you to hear through it, but you can hear that Lost is talking, and doesn't sound to be in pain, for the moment…

Lost sends a message to Mogao as she talks to the Necromancer. The former raises the device to his eye level, so as not to let Lost leave his sight. He reads… and if nothing else, the message gives him pause.


Just as the Necromancer prepares to answer Lost, Steadfast rears up onto his front legs, and kicks the doors of the meeting-chamber down. Wood shards and screws go flying as the rest of the expedition team bolt into the room, and find Lost unharmed.

Mogao takes a step back in surprise as he performs a headcount, and finds himself nearly evenly numbered with these new intruders. "Nobody told me I was throwing a party in here…" he remarks.

>"As I was saying," the Necromancer says. "I have traveled the lands beyond these Castles, and I have traveled much of this one. Within and without its great walls, I have heard much whispering from a select few.

>"A tale of hope, believed nothing but a fairy tale by the masses. A tale holding that some time in the distant future, you will not have to hide away in these Castles, fearing their eventual destruction by the things you crudely call 'the Dreaded Ones.' That you will be free to roam the whole of the world, neither hungering nor thirsting nor knowing any other want… your paths lit by two great lamps, the Moon and the Sun."

At the word "Moon," Mogao's eyes light up. He recognizes the term– and it holds great emotional weight for him.

>"There are some in this world who are searching for a way to bring about this possible future age… but it shall not come without strife… This is what is called 'Ragnarok.' Not all shall survive Ragnarok to see the future that lies beyond it. This price has given these whisperers pause… a hesitation that keeps them from bringing about Ragnarok. but I know no such trepidation. I march toward it, with an aim to win it. And I invite all who seek to see what lies beyond it, offering a place at my side. Is that so terrible an aim?"

Mountain and Reprise exchange knowing glances. Something in that speech seems to have confirmed their suspicions.


I quickly thank Steadfast and move through the entrance
"Oh good, you're safe Miss Hope."
I will pause to listen to the Necromancer's speech before I say "Any conflict will bring followers to its cause, willing or not."
I then message Mountain that Mogao found Lost, and we had to breach his camera room.


I trot into the room rocking my new cut.
"That would explain the weird temple, secret rooms, daises, scepters, and whatnot. I told you all there was something to that sun business. You weren't the one that took the silver scepter, Mogao?"


Deadweight's caught somewhat off guard, but not for any longer than would be unfitting for a knight. She keeps a neutral stance.


Lost shot another message to Mogao

>Listen how he speaks these words as though dying is the best possible thing thing that could happen to us. How he wants to 'guide' us into a future where he has final say over everything we do. What future is that? Maybe we will die eventually, but is it not better to die free and fighting someone who wants to conquer your will?

She looked up to the Necromancer "I see, Do you know any of the signs of Ragnarok?" she asked just trying to keep him talking so she could maybe unite the castle dwellers against him.


Mogao smirks, trying to keep up a bold front despite the sudden turn of numbers. "I don't know what you're talking about."

>"It is said…" the Necromancer continues. "The destruction of these eggs you call Castles shall precede Ragnarok."

Mogao and Mountain's eyes widen, their pupils shrinking.

>"I find it hard to fault this reasoning," the Necromancer says. "When the last place to hide is undone, what else is there to do, but to stand and fight, and to greet the future openly? To hide in a rotting shelter from that which awaits you with interminable patience… the height of cowardice."

"I'll kill you," Mogao intones.

>"I should certainly hope you'll give it a try," the Necromancer says. "No hard feelings if you fail; my offer of alliance shall stand, whether you live or die."

Mogao, with red eyes, barely manages to force his gaze away from the monitors, to you. Remembering that the audio feed of the monitors is compromised, he types a message.

["I can get you behind his enemy lines. No matter how many undead he's got on his side, they'll crumble when he's destroyed. I'll draw his attention, and you'll strike from his blind spot. What do you say?"]

Cautaa, Huitlapan and Xu look at the message with blatant disbelief. Sapphire's desktop icon fumes with angry emoticons.


>Better the enemy we know? At leas Mogao might let us out of here.

She sent to their private team chat.


Deadweight messages the private team chat.

>As much as I hate him, sounds like we're on the same side for this fight.


A moment passes, then Deadweight switches to private DMs and messages Lost solely.

>You did a good job talking to him.
>Deadweight is typing…
>I'm also really glad you're safe. You had me worried for a sec there.


I will move through Concord to send Mogao a message
[If we have your guarantee you will allow Ironcastle souls to leave uninjured and uncontested.]


"Oh, drat, I figured it was you."

>Might as well if we can get some guarantee he won't go nuts and fry us afterward.


She sent something back

Thanks :)


For a second, Mogao looks at you with surprise; he didn't seem to think that would work.

["I still aim to find out whether or not it was an Iron soul who destroyed Agatecastle… but if you REALLY had nothing to do with it, you're free to go,"] Mogao types.

>"You may be interested to know," the Necromancer says. "Ragnarok is not the only name by which this concept is called. If we should encounter another term in our future wanderings, do not be too hung up on the specifics."

Mogao slips away from the camera's view, and kicks aside a floorboard. From below it, he withdraws a long staff, with a handle of azure, and a flawlessly ivory spherical head. A lenticular image can be seen within the sphere; simultaneously, it depicts a crescent, a half-circle, an empty circle, and a full circle. Your minds bend as you behold these overlapping, contradictory images all at once… Mogao looks dizzy as he holds it, as well.

>"We are investigators," Mountain says. "Getting obsessive on the small details is our business."

>"I find that to be a dull pastime," the Necromancer says, as he begins to stretch his many limbs and roll his neck. "I am, as I have ever been, more for action. The little things sort themselves out over time. On that subject…"

Mogao holds the staff before him, and in the space ahead, a tear rips open, in the shape of an azure diamond, containing a heart. Mogao, and more specifically this staff, seems to have been behind the portals' creation…

A Comp message comes from Seneschal Reprise. ["Get ready!!!"]


A beat passes.

>Deadweight is typing…

No other message appears.


Deadweight switches to Mogao's group chat and messages him.


Deadweight unsheathes her claymore.

>Tactician, declaring 4


[Of course I didn't. Clue me in on this sun and moon business. Especially the sun. I've got a burning desire to know more.]
Burning homing magic, take two.

Roll #1 8 = 8


She sent one last message to Mogao

>I understand you, and if I lost my home and everything I cared about, I would also seek vengeance on those who took it, but I hope you find what you are looking for one day.

Lost_Hope is Typing…

I just wanna say I'm really happy I got to meet you Deadweight, no matter what.


Deadweight looks down at her Magicomp.

>Deadweight is typing…
Me too.
>Deadweight is typing…
I love you.

Wasting no more time, her head shoots up to the portal, and she immediately leaps into it.


I will start walking towards the tear.


She looked down at her own, freezing as her visor darkened to hide her blush. she took a long moment before reaching to type a response.

Lost_hope is typing…
I love you too

She moved to step through the portal as well.


File: 1679374871351.png (1.49 MB, 1331x1040, L-8 F-4 v4.png)

"You've got some strange priorities given the situation we're in…" Mogao complains, but sends you an invite to a private voice chat.

The portal deposits you in a small public ampitheatre atop a hill. The clattering of bones to the north clues you in that you've been dropped behind enemy lines. To the northwest, surrounded by legions of skeletons, the Necromancer stands tall. Further north, the angels' eyes alight with an icy flame. Knight-Brother Mountain's expression sinks, and he raises his hoof, his order building as he inhales a deep breath…

All at once, the angels under Mogao's command press the attack, bombing and shooting at the Necromancer's forces. Mountain bellows directions to the Ironcastle forces, who break the bluff of their offensive formations to secure the injured and get to better ground.

As for the Necromancer, he stands upon a singular leg.

"So, you have chosen to fight me as a puppetmaster… very well. I shall only hope that your marionettes can keep to the rhythm."


He reclines in the air, balanced upon that leg, and many arms reveal themselves from beneath his cloak, folding themselves into ornate poses of limb and hand. The Necromancer releases a soft breath… and a bitterly cold storm brews overhead.


Attribute: Ice
Tags: Spell; Automatic
Effect: For four turns, every Combatant not allied with the User shall suffer 1 Ice damage per turn. If four turns pass and this effect is not dispelled, increase the amount of damage done by this effect by 1. Repeat until Dispelled.
Duration: Until Dispelled
Recharge: Once per Combat

The Necromancer begins to dance.



I join the chat.
"I used to experiment with magical artifacts. Turns out that can be as bad for the mind as for the body. Go figure."

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