Welcome one, and I welcome you all to the tale of a world called Thespia.
Here is the odyssey of one that clings to this world with no face of their own! In a place where magic is fundamental to all of creation, all who live wear their lives upon their face, where a fire might wish to be the cooking fire of an inn!
Previously the Faceless was tasked with pursuing the Lord of Bikel Manor by the elders of the liberated Guisi. There, he would find resolution to the errant behavior of the Danhor sworn to his duty.
Odette, a Guisi woman and archer whom recently began to renounce her Arche in favor of her original one. Hers was a tale of honor that drove her to lie to herself for years that she loved a man that she did not as a husband only to make her father happy. Now, she travels with the Faceless as a friend, and perhaps more on the journeys to come.
Mira, a Guisi girl on the cusp of womanhood and would-be hero of Guisi contracted with a Greater Beast on par with a forest lord. Though timid, her shadow shows bloodlust and anger to those that have hurt her and her people. For now at least, she accompanies The Faceless to see through the resolution the Guisi require to their tragedies.
Upon arrival at the village of Bikel, the Faceless was confronted with guardsmen that begged for their life. The kind nature of The Faceless won over and the Reaper's mask he wears rebelled. On the fringe of losing the only face he has, a familiar presence approached him and told him to use the characteristic of his true self: Understanding was the answer, and that allowed the Faceless to regain control.
Having broken into the Manor of Bikel in pursuit of Lord Grant, the Faceless now stands over the portly little lord?...
If you have questions...
And a log of the quest!
And The Faceless!
A posh velvet bedroom with a window hanging open as the frightful wind causes it to clatter against the masonry. Looking around, you would see heart shaped pillows dyed red and every stitch whispering gossip of secret affairs and lewd encounters. The woman that you'd swiftly knocked out lies upon the floor on the sad furs of a bear that begrudge its new owners for repeated defilement. And sat upon a chair is you, presiding over a fat Hylon squirming like a pig from Mira's mighty thread that's coiled around his body binding his arms and legs like a thick sausage.
Odette stands beside you, arrow knocked and bow ready to fire at a moment's notice. Mira grips her thread with deadly sharp eyes, yet she frowns and then squints her eyes, somewhat troubled by something.
“I-” The sausage squeaks and Mira's venomous needle pokes at the apple of his throat with a dangerous gleam.
“I did not permit you to speak scum.” You snipe as you debate over what to do. You'd not expected this “Lord Grant” To be so... thick and sad. It almost leaves a foul taste in your mouth, More than anything, it makes the part of you that is the reaper burn evermore with fury that a swine such as this would damn those that follow an Arche that wants nothing more than the peace of their own lands.
With a deep breath, you exhale deeply in this room stinking of lovemaking and posh perfumes. It makes you shudder, again in deep disgust.
>[“What have you to say for yourself, Lord Grant?”]
>[“Do you know why I have come for you?”]
>[“I can't believe this coward's the one that's tortured you all.”]
Standing up, you hail yourself as higher than the Guisi, horns out you are a monstrous visage with piercing dagger-like eyes. Glaring down, the morsel of a man writhes in fear.
With a vicious, snarl“What have you to say for yourself, Lord Grant? You know why we have come for you, yes?”
The portly lord looks up to you with fear turning into confusion, “I-I am not... He is-”
Realization dawns upon you at the first of his stutterings, your eyes turn to Mira. With a flick of a serpent-like tongue her face scrunches up in a mix of revilement and disgust, “He's scared, but he's not lying. And- Why does this place reek so badly?”
Odette can't help but to chuckle. You decide that it's not the best time to explain what a man and a woman do together with the girl.
“What by Luna... And here I thought we'd- Where is Lord Grant?” You say with urgency.
“Th-The young Lord is in the audience chamber sharpening his b-blade. My lady and I, we were guests to this estate. You...” The tied Hylon starts to say something defiant and then quickly realizes his position and holds his tongue.
“I?” You lean down and the man turns away. Grabbing him by his freshly washed hair, you turn his face up to yours, “I... what?” You say into the coward's eyes.
With a whimper, the Hylon opens an eye, shaking in your grasp, “You know that I w-would be puh-pleased to show you the way! Please, Sol do not kill me.”
>[“Show us the way.”]
>[“We have no need of you. Crawl into some hole until our business is finished.”]
>[“No. I think I'll gut you. It'll suit the color of this room.]
Letting the man go, he falls to the floor face-first a sudden cry of pain as he breaks his face against the floor. “My nose! I taste my own blood!”
“We have no need of you. Crawl into some hole until this is over. Get in our way and you die.” You say as you press onward, leaving for the door without steam emenating from it. As Mira and Odette follow with violent backwards glances, you hear a cry from the steam-filled bathroom and catch sight of a black and white dress.
“Are you a servant?” You say aloud to the one trying to hide. “Come out, I will not harm you.”
With a few moments of trepidation, a slight woman steps out, cheeks flushed from the heat and otherwise solid-colored eyes denoting her identity as a Danhor. Her eyes shift to the Hylon bleeding upon the floor and the woman knocked out, “P-please, do not harm me sir. I've only ever done as I was asked.”
“What is your name?”
“Tabatha, Sir.” The maid bows, visibly shaking.
“Is this broken Hylon speaking the truth?”
“Lord Grant told all houseguests to wait in their chambers. The guards spoke of the possibility of a visit from the Reaper... We were told to guide you, the young lord would boldly face the legendary shadow of Aurel.” The maid speaks swiftly, spilling everything as though her life depended upon it.
>[“You're a fine woman, you should find other masters.”]
>[“Guide the way for us then.”]
>[“Boldly face? Does he really mean to duel me?”]
Looking the maid over, her solid Slate-gray eyes and unmarred skin paired with night-black hair and a bust that fills out her frilly dress nicely, you find yourself saying with an almost perverse smile,“You're a fine woman. You know, you should find other masters to serve.”
Odette cuts you a sideways glance, the cusp of a frown upon her lips. She raises her bow just as the maid begins to smile at your oddly placed compliment.
Terror takes Tabatha's eyes as she's staring down the shaft of an arrow.
“Don't.” You say to Odette with a stern tone.
Odette levels the arrow for an unseen bullseye between the woman's eyes. “If you stand in our way, your life is forfeit. I am watching.” With that, Odette lowers her bow as it gives a disgruntled sigh for lack of blood.
“Show us the way Tabatha.”
The maid is let past the three of you and with a prim, yet rigid posture she leads the way. The three of you, Guisi in frightful visage follow after down the highly decorated hallways that speak of wealth and prosperity through generations.
Other maids hurriedly get out of the way of your procession to the audience hall.
Your party approaches a pair of door guards that look over the three of you, and them to Tabatha.
“Maid, what are these foul creatures in your escort?”
Tabatha rigidly turns her head and then looks up to the guards, “This is the Reaper, come for Lord Grant. The others are part of his entourage.”
“The Young Lord waits.” The guardsman states before opening the door for you, a rather queer gesture when the theme of the night is a murder.
Mira leans over to whisper, “Is this how Hylon normally act?”
Odette turns to her, “Only when they have something to prove.”
You maintain an ominous silence. Through the open door, you step through and are greeted to a young man presiding upon a Lord's chair. His youthful face does little to hide the arrogant highness of his cheek-bones, the golden tint to his eyes and the rich vibrant colors noteworthy of any Hylon. Yet the dark rings of madness hang under his eyes and there's a sterness to his glare not unlike a tyrant.
Guards stand before him at either side, yet he stares forth without fear. “What a creature. Which of you happens to be the Reaper? One of the two that look like Bitch-Goats?” Odette and Mira shake with rage. “Or the one that's likely fucking them?”
>[“Do you insult all guests in your audience, little Lordling?”]
>[“Do you know why we have come?”]
>[“You look more like what I had expected. Though I imagined you taller.”]
>[“This is too easy, shoot this worm.”]
>[“Draw your sword, we duel.”]
“Do you insult all guests in your audience, little lordling?” You speak with your ominous presence intermingling with the tension in the room. Both parties understanding that only violence could be the answer. A fact that makes Dramir feel more than just smug.
Lord Grant remains in his chair, leaning lazily against the back with his guards before him and a blade resting upon his lap like a slumbering lion. “Only the ones that deserve as such after slaughtering my men. I've heard of your work at the labor camp. All those accursed Guisi freed? After I slay you, I'll need to see to it that those loathsome peons be purged.” Lord Grant takes his blade in hand, still sheathed and rises slowly from his chair, standing short next to his guards.
“They all die, and my father is avenged. You die, and my men are avenged. Poetry, no?”
You grimace at his words, and the tension runs thicker. Odette keeps an arrow in her bow, ready to fire.
“Let it be known that I am not unfair.” Lord Grant steps forward. “I declare to all that wold witness. I, Lord Grant, shall face the reaper alone. Should Sol see me fall and Luna take me, I bequeath the Manor upon him and all it entails. Should he fall, the Guisi rebels are to be eradicated. Should either party violate this, they forfeit this duel.”
Lord Grant turns his head sidelong, uncaring of you and your party. “Do you all hear me?”
Looking up, you see a number of Danhor looking down upon the audience hall in observation. Many Danhor bear witness to his statement and you can feel their blood go cold at the thought of Bikel being bequeathed to the Reaper. What Lord Grant just said could very well be the doom of this town along with the rebels if this goes wrong...
Odette puts her bow away, letting it vanish by its threads into her being. “We've been cornered.” She says through clenched teeth. “I was going to shoot him, but...”
“If you do that, the duel is forfeit and the Danhor have their last order, to exterminate the Guisi.” You say with solemn understanding.
“Reaper, are you ready to defend yourself and your dishonor?” The young Lord unsheathes his word as his sword sings a prelude to a bloody dance, casting the sheath worthlessly to the side.
>[Transform your scythe into a sword, “Yes I am.”]
>[“Odette, fire. We'll silence them all if need be.”]
>[Walk away from the Duel, this cannot take place.]
If we go into the duell we should try to win it "fairly" because having command of the Danhor seems important.
Otherwise simply go on a murderspree without having to face the Hylon.
It's a pretty classic choice here
You can see as many as three dozen adult Danhor watching. A few children held close.
It is true, the spectators are not part of the duel and therefore not subject to the rules. You could threaten Lord Grant with that knowledge, though the Danhor may not appreciate that at all.
Right now, The Reaper remains a mostly neutral entity towards them. They're judging your actions.
I think I'll throw in a vote to mention that loophole, not as a threat, but pointing out that Lord Grant was unfortunately not vigilant enough in protecting his subjects.
get into his skin a bit more.
“As the challenged party, do I not get to choose the contest?” You say with a carefully probing word.
Lord Grant stares at you with mounting fury, “That right is reserved for one that a Hylon considers their better. You, Reaper, stand beneath me.” Spittle froths at his mouth dryly in his anger.
With an outstretched hand, you flick your hidden scythe from around your arm and hastily transforms into a long thin blade not unlike Lord Grant's. “You do know, that with the terms of your duel...” You say while observing the shapeliness of your newly formed sword, “That while my allies cannot intervene, neither are you permitted to stop them from slaughtering your assembled people.” Your eyes turn from your blade to the furious young lord as he realizes the impending threat. “Bear, Viper. Do not slaughter the young Lord's subjects.” You smile, “For he needs his enemy to mercifully preserve their lives.”
“How... Dare you!” Lord Grant says as he sinks into a fencing stance, blade tapered forward and ready to lunge. “I am Lord Grant of Bikel, Jack of Blades. Defend yourself Reaper! I'll have your life!” Lord Grant's Red Blade hums still a prelude to violence.
Dramir, unfamiliar with fencing, you take on a truthfully haphazard stance, sinking forward as though to mimic him. Hearing him proclaim himself Jack of Blades gives you a minor flashback to when you(Dramir) clashed with the King Of Blades. A generation ago... A Jack of Blades would sit beneath a king, right?”
How will you move? How will you fight?
>Your blade sharpens itself in anticipation of Hylon blood. The edge of the blade glimmers with a bloodthirsty smile.
>[Dance just out of the reach of his blade, use cutting wind to tear him to ribbons.]
>[Step in close, decrease the length and increase the thickness of your blade. You'll shatter his weapon.]
>[Fight evenly and fairly with even swords. There will be no foul play on your part aside from enhanced abilities.]
>[Keep to his back, and have your sword bend its blade at will to cut him to shreds.]
>Jack of Blades
You're going by card deck aren't you?
Does that mean there's an Ace beyond the King?
>[Keep to his back, and have your sword bend its blade at will to cut him to shreds.]
Like he blocks and the sword bends to wound him?
Yes. Dramir's Scythe not only sharpens itself, but also seeks out flesh. It can move by itself.
Do you remember the encounter Dramir had with the King of Blades before getting ambushed by the siblings? His name?
I think an Ace would be much too circumstantial for Hylon. Sometimes greater than King, others lesser.
>>[Fight evenly and fairly with even swords.]
>[Use cutting wind and bending blade when he plays his own trump card]
keep a closed hand.
>[Step in close, decrease the length and increase the thickness of your blade. You'll shatter his weapon.]
>Acer of Gracia
Is that your attempt to make "Ace" into a name?
Before the official start of the duel, the door opens and a Danhor announces, “The Concerto Crickets have arrived. Please hold as they set up!”
Watching from just beyond the crowd of Guisi and behind a spell of trickery lie the siblings standing in observance of the duel. As the Concerto crickets walk in, and set up the sister snickers to herself, voice hidden by the spell, “It's incredible how they always know when something's going to happen. How many cycles we must have gone through to figure out where major events were to occur...”
“Indeed.” The brother replies dryly as usual. “Far easier to follow them to a moment of excitement than to seek it by oneself.”
“Say, isn't it amazing how poisoning a fat lord's cake can inspire his son in such a way?” Rava says with a sadistic smile.
Her brother turns to her, staring quietly before returning his gaze to the scene about to unfold. “Nay, T'is tragic. Yet this sacrifice, all of it, will enable the Faceless to see the end.”
Rava suddenly becomes... uncharacteristically stoic. “All of this, for the end.” As she smiles, Avarr notices a flaw in the threads of his spell.
With a wave, they vanish once-
The crickets finish tuning their instruments and the conductor turns to you and Lord Grant whom stand ready once more. With a smile and a tug of his black vest he takes white conducting rod and turns to his orchestra of crickets. With a wave, they begin.
Lord Grant, furiously makes the first move, closing in swiftly with speed that surprises even you as he drives in with a forward thrust that you narrowly sidestep. With a flick of his hand, his blade slashes across the horizon despite the recent thrust and clashes home with your blade, forcing you to block the blade from disembowling you as he slips back, lashing out with a swift thrust as you narrowly sidestep the strike and preparing already to block his nimble blade as it assuredly clashes with yours again. Prepared this time, you parry, forcing the blade away and ride the momentum to bring your riposting slash in line with his neck.
With a chroeographed grace, Lord Grant backsteps and leans, performing a stunning flip to evade the assault of your blade even as it erects itself to the prospect of carving him.
In a sudden motion, Lord Grant steps forward and swings across the horizon as you forcefully block once again, the clash of your blades ringing out in the hall as it becomes an exchange of blows by a bloodthirsty silver and a singing red. Both blades dance in an elegant fusion of twists, evasions, parries, and outright clashes, each seeking the blood of the other's master.
The exchange of blows rain down upon the other until the two of you block and press into each other's guard. Lord Grant sneers, “Impressive for a monster to defend himself against a Jack of Blades.”
“T'is nothing.” You say, “When I've crossed swords with the King of Blades.”
Lord Grant's eyes go wide and you take the moment to have your sword bend its blade around his and slash from his eye to across his cheek as he pulls away and you force him farther with a push. With a slash into the air, you let his blood fly from your sword onto the cold hard stone of his own floor.
“You demon! How- How dare you!” He shouts, clutching his eye as threads tighten around the wound. “And you lie! The King of Blades has been gone since long before my birth! That trash that ruined three generations of the title, King Of Blades, and as a Jack I seek to make it mine.”
“Acer of Gracia, no lie. I fought the King of Blades... And Won.” You say with a smug conviction as you've gotten underneath the prat's skin. He glares at you through his remaining eye and pulls away a bloody hand as the threads around his wound pull tighter from his newfound conviction.
“I will kill you. I will kill you and then it will be known that I have surpassed Acer. They will bestow upon to me the title of king and this broken house will have honor.” Lord Grant steadies his blade into his stance, ready once more to dance the dance of death with you. Something strange is happening to the Lordling it's almost as if... Why does he give you the same sensation of fate manipulation as a... Pact?
“Have you made contract with that blade as it sings serenely of violence and death?”
Lord Grant grins, the dark circle under his eye vanishing from mirth and amazement, “You trash, you think a Hylon would ever pact with anything beneath him?” His blade's song lies uninterrupted, “Our own magnificence is our pact! Defend yourself, for your head is mine!”
>[“Tall talk for someone with one eye.”]
>[Stand guard, be ready for anything.]
>[No chances, unleash a blade of wind.]
>[Transform your weapon into a spear. Let him rush into it.]
>>[“Tall talk for someone with one eye.]
>[ Do you even know of any blade other than a sword? An arrow, an axe, or even-”]
>>[No chances, unleash a blade of wind.]
don't mention spear incase it might come useful later
Readying your sword parallel to the ground and just above your head, you begin to ensnare the threads of the hall's stagnant air, recruiting them into a blade of wind. Lord Grant stands opposite, staring at you with that condescending pride you know all too well of Hylons. “Tall talk for someone with one eye, do you even know of any blade other than a sword?”
The threads of air are drawn tightly.
“Such as an arrow?”
The threaten to escape, yet they are forced into an invisible blade by your tyrannical scythe. Opposite, the song of Lord Grant's red blade grows louder, the blade visibly vibrating to be heard by all.
“An Axe?” You say and the blade of wind is completed, the threads of fate upon the air resign themselves to a temporal fate as an extension to the blade. Red musical notes begin to fly from the singing blade as her master's innate abilities reach their current peak.
“Or even... Ventus Falcem!” You call out as you sweep your blade across and unleash a powerful slicing gale.
In response, Lord Grant unleashes a wave of his own... in the form of his blade's ballad. Red lyrical scripture flies from the singing sword in quivering waves that dispel the enslavement of the air and a red flurry of a song is launched at you, forcing you to use your actual blade to slash through every melodious blade.
Your transformed scythe laughs as it tears up the musical scripture, yet it takes multiple blows to fend it off, and every cut sends meddlesome vibrations running through your body.
Amidst the flurry of song, Lord Grant comes down with a helmsplitting overhead slash that you block deftly only to feel one last sonic attack flow through you, making you suddenly feel extraordinarily woozy. The blow itself is not crushing, yet you find yourself brought to your knees to Lord Grant's viciously smiling satisfaction.
“That is right Reaper! Kneel before the song my Red Sparrow sings! This is the supremacy of a Hylon! To bring forth the power of the otherwise unworthy simply by laying hand upon them. This is why we rule! This is why you should roll over and die! Let Thespia become brighter with your death!”
You struggle against his blade as your feet weakly wobble out from under you. The constant barrage of his Sparrow's Red song disorienting and weakening you with ever second that it sings... This could be your death...
>[Listen to the hopes of Mira and Odette... Empower your will, tighten your threads.]
>[Hear the true heart of this boy... Perhaps if you understand?]
>[Speak to the Red Sparrow, turn his own blade against him.]
>Cry out for help... Dramir can't win... They're always watching...
Followup. The question here is:
>Turn to your allies for a powerup, relying in those that believe in you.
>Understanding the enemy to deprive him of his convictions against you.
>Pull his current power base out from under him.
Deus ex Rava/Avar.
well in that case,
>To bring forth the power of the otherwise unworthy simply by laying hand upon them
we would simply need to prove that this brash, unfocused little lordling is "unworthy"?
As the Hylon Lord maintains the force of his blade upon you, her song continues to weaken you. With your strength and dexterity waning and Dramir's abilities not up to snuff to counter such a power, you tap into the part of you that you've come to understand is... different.
Listening beyond the harsh vocals of violence, beyond her ballad of blood, you can hear the voice of the sword humming to herself in a tranquil melody as she ignores the ramblings of her master. You feel a part of you slip away as though you're experiencing a scene beyond your own body.
The land is white, with a spotlight of docile grass upon which sits a woman that looks like... a Protean covered in red feathers with wings instead of actual hands. She hums a sweet song that you feel is foreign to most places considered thespian.
“Red Sparrow?” You say, making the Protean aware of your presence.
Suddenly, she stops singing and turns to look upon you. Short red feathers covering her face, and punctauted with a beak instead of a nose and mouth. “Oh, you... Were we not fighting? Is this really a time to talk?”
You approach, and she does not shudder nor shy away.
“Do not come any closer.” She says with a serenly sweet voice.
As you take another step, you see a glimmering gold cage appear barring your advance upon her. “He will not let me. I am to be used by the young Master. The power of Hylons... it is grand, no?”
“You are... trapped?”
“Indeed, I am, So? I sing sweet and pretty, and dance with a cunning edge. As I am here, t'is my one and only pledge.” She says without a care in the world as she sings her violent ballad once more.
You feel a twinge of weakness run through you as she begins again, “Wait, wait! What if... What if I can free you?”
She stops, looking upon you with a suddenly willful stare, “Then I'd cut this boy's heart out and make him sing his own song.”
Squinting your eyes, you flicker back into the present situation, Lord Grant's blade has stopped singing and you begin to force him back inch by inch as he tries to understand what's happening. “How can I free you?” You say aloud.
“What? What by Luna are you speaking of? Die you mad beast! Sing Red Sparrow! Sing!”
There's a moment of hesitation from the sword, “Break my cage.” And the traumatic overture begins again.
Enslaving the air, your gather enough for a sudden shock of your wind blade to send the young Lord Grant backwards, giving you a moment's of reprieve as you once more take a knee.
“How?” You say, asking the sword.
“How? I'm simply better than you, monster.” Lord Grant brushes off the half-baked wind blade and raises his sword for another cascade of Red Sparrows powerful song.
>How will you break the Sparrow's cage?
>[Rush Lord Grant and break the blade before the song begins.]
>[Re-enter that out of body world and bend the bars!]
>[Reach into the threads of fate...]
As impending death looms before you, there is a fissure, a schism that you can just barely make out, one that you can just about reach into. With a hand that is less than Dramir's and more your own, with a will capable of changing fate, you grasp onto those threads feeling through the entanglement of all caught up in this conflict.
The Lordling himself, his sword, the Danhor that observe, the Danhor that serve, the Guisi that were oppressed for a murder and then freed...
These threads thrum, and are wound tightly by the will of this linchpin, this Lordling. Everything that he affects, everything that he should do, will do, and even his death. You feel how he's mastered his demise for this night, set it back so far away. Beyond your reach... However...
You feel the threads that connect to The Red Sparrow and grip them, pulling them away from the convoluted web that he would construct, and as you do, the firm grip you have upon those key threads pulls them loose. As they slip from his grip, you sense the sensation of sheer panic echo as you return to your natural awareness.
As Lord Grant brings the blade down for the killing blow, the Red Sparrow flies from his hands. Then, in an obtuse phenomenon of chance, the sword spins in the air before falling upon its master and impaling him through the collar, down to the heart, and protruding through his hip.
Falling to his knees, the light leaves the young lord's eyes as he falls to the floor, dead.
The Danhor onlookers stare at the strange spectacle with widened eyes, stun and shock overtaking them as they try to make sense of what happened.
You attempt to find that fissure again, to reach there, yet it is to no avail. What a strange ability. Is this something you'd always had?
The guardsmen that stood keen watch rush over to their departed lord's side, checking him for any signs of life. One finds none and rises, hand upon his sword. The other calls out, “Wait!”
Stepping up beside his companion, he looks up at the other Danhor and then to his companion. You hear him say quiet and low, “If we declare foul play now, we'll need to go to war. I'm sick of this asinine bloodshed, aren't you?”
Relenting, the other guard draws his weapon only to lay it down. “Very well. Reaper. You are the winner of this duel.”
The other Danhor seem concerned with the implications, especially with the... result of the duel.
“No foul play was to be had, the young Lord's sword turned against him. The Cursed Scarlet Sparrow will be dealt with by our new... Master. The Reaper of Aurel. As the late Lord Grant had declared, the winner of this duel bears the right to command us.”
“May he live for a hundred years and more.” The other guard nearly chokes out in disgust.
With that, the conflict between the Guisi and Danhor of Bikel and surrounding villages would come to a close... Perhaps?
Act 1: The Faceless Reaper... End.
I'll be giving you guys a resolution recap of the major choices as presented by Rava and Avar. Then they'll give you the choice to pick a new face.
There'll be some issue with this whole Lord of Bikel business as with all that The faceless will need to do, he'll be an absentee lord.