PREVIOUS THREAD: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/45315400/
CHARACTERS AND PLACES: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19gNVgtevar647l4ZumUaVH6GlJzvxLlDNKaH8DrQMWE/edit?usp=sharing
WEBCOMIC 'CAUSE Y'ALL ASKED: http://wildwestscifi.net/gallows-humor/13683-gallows-humor-prologue
You are Brianna la Croix, journeyman necromancer, and you and your lovers have decided that the best way to recover from the stressful and painful application of prosthetics is to entertain a fucking Duchess.
No, /you/ have a problem with over-working.
Jewel and Cherry were nice enough to help you clean the house up before going to convey the invitation to Her Grace. Amy's still getting used to actually having wings again, which has resulting in more than one case of you and Nathan getting clocked in the tight quarters, but you get a meal going and coffee and tea both ready for when your guest is to arrive.
Fetch is on the lookout for her, and he announces her arrival in Lakehallow into your mind in formal tones.
You take a deep breath and await the polite knock on your door. You're not waiting long; it's just as prim and courteous as you could have hoped for.
> "Your Grace. Be welcome as a guest to my home."
> "It's nice to meet you, your Grace. Tea or coffee?"
> "Afternoon Henrietta, c'mon in. We've got lunch comin' up."
God damn that took too long to write and make happen. I shoulda been abed fucking hours ago. Votes will remain open.
As always thoughts, feelings, questions, comments, and critique are welcome and appreciated.
Thank you all for reading and participating!
Well, IC we don't know that the Duchess seems to be nice, so we should err on the side of caution. She's the ruler and rulers are usually pretty strict about how they are talked to.
>> "It's nice to meet you, your Grace. Tea or coffee?"
>> "It's nice to meet you, your Grace. Tea or coffee?"
It is also pretty uncommon for rulers to take your refusal of their invitation to visit in stride and actually visit YOU in full friendly manner.
> "It's nice to meet you, your Grace. Tea or coffee?"
So, in this scene I'm totally seeing future-Bri. The one who is a sweet old grandmotherly woman, exceedingly friendly and generous, but with no interest in formalities. You know, the type that would have the queen over and treat her no different from her grandkid, offering tea and tutting about her needing more food and such. With undead servants putting lunch together, cuz she is much too old to be concerned about what people think of her.
If Bri were actually at that point, I would have swapped "Your Grace" for "dear," but I figure Bri's too young to go that far yet. But still, I feel like we're getting an insight into Bri's hopeful future. And it seems adorable and perfect.
>implying the duchess knows Bri age
We could alway say that we are older then we look and it's all thanks to necromancy.
But i preferer to let Bri's friendship with her develop a little bit before starting jokes with a noble.
Yeah, joking with somebody you don't know (and especially who doesn't know you) is a very delicate matter. If you pick the wrong topic (anything that can be serious can be risky) you might hurt the new relationship, as I have found out. Bad topics are among others: religion/beliefs, politics, money, illness/death (this is basically the "no-go topics for small talk" list), but it certainly includes severed hands without warning and implying "evil" ways to make yourself younger. And using "dear" without looking like a great-grandmother doesn't fit.
I liked Cloud Slasher, Sonic Ascent, and Crescendo, but here we are.
I think we can assume that everyone discussed the name at some point, perhaps during the actual construction of it.
But you bet your ass I'd name my wraithsteel appendix.
I get it, but this isn't a harpy. This is pair of wings which, while very important, isn't exactly the same as a harpy. It's like I named my weapon John Smith.
I'm not sure what I'd name mine. I guess it would depend on what kind of object it would be... Maybe Optimus Prime?
Dudes... I don't even play this game, but I read this while drifting by and...
WHO THE HELL NAMES YOUR ATTACKS!?
It's not a weapon, it's a body part. The body part of a harpy, so a harpy name is fitting. Of course, harpies use their body parts as weapons, too, but that's only "other uses", because the primary use is flying. Like Nathan wouldn't call a wraithsteel leg Excalibur, even though he would also kick people with it.
Eh, I know I'm gonna sound like a giant faggot, but this isn't a choice that will just go away in a thread or two. These shittily named wings will be part of the party for the rest of the quest.
And in the spirit of not having to suffer through that bs I'm gonna ask, nay, plead with Vox to have a re-vote.
Yeah, it would be a retcon. But it was literally named one vote ago and compared to the entire length of the rest of this story it's best I ask for it now.
I know Vox ain't gonna do it, but I gotta try.
>This is the name of a weapon, not an attack...
How does that make it bet... Ya know what? Nevermind... I momentarily forgot what board I was on.
My bad, said weapon, meant wings.
Doesn't change the fact that it's never been said that harpies call everything with compound names.
Just because Falling-Knives and Diving-Shadow are name for harpies doesn't mean this applies to everything else.
Okay, maybe harpy-themed name is a better word. But certainly not a weapon name.
And true, I wouldn't give my foot a person name (only my dick, something like Big Little John, since that's what people do in RL), I would give it a walking/running/standing-related name.
I would have been fine with Vox picking a name, but I'm also fine with Soaring Song since IMO it fits (soaring for flying well, song for something harpy-like).
That's your opinion. For me (as somebody who also plays an instrument), crescendo is "music getting louder", I just don't see the connection to wings/flying that soaring has.
As I feel it (and everything here is opinions) it's less about being harpy name format and more about the combination of flying + harpy-theme.
Yeah, I get what you mean, but what's important here is both how it sounds and what it represents.
Here the "crescendo" means a growth in intensity but it also alludes to taking flight.
That might be, but it just doesn't have the same connotation for me. Crescendo wouldn't be a bad name, Soaring Song just resonates better for me.
And I didn't even vote for anything, because it was deep in the night for me. From the other proposals in the last thread, I liked Sonic Ascent most, again because of the combination of flying and harpy-song.
to be honest, I was tempted to make some sort of machine themed ____Drive
Although considering her current demonic loadout, it would not be terribly out of place to have a chuuni DARKNESS name for the wings.
>all this bitching over a name
Remember Verve? How her name made her very lively and excitable and shank-happy?
Naming the wings Soaring Song directly emphasizes the main thing they're meant for: Letting Amy fly again. I don't think Crescendo or Sonic Ascent would have crippled them, but both of those have to do with building up / rising sound rather than flight, which means they'd've shaped themselves to help her singing/shrieking more than to help her fly better.
Yay, Nate can walk again!
I know it's probably not accurate but I have it in my head that Amy was using harpy magic to lighten him up and carry him around over her shoulder whenever we needed to get anywhere.
>Naming the wings Soaring Song directly emphasizes the main thing they're meant for: Letting Amy fly again. I don't think Crescendo or Sonic Ascent would have crippled them, but both of those have to do with building up / rising sound rather than flight, which means they'd've shaped themselves to help her singing/shrieking more than to help her fly better.
Crescendo might have made the wings amplify the effect of Amy's singing the longer she sings.
Sonic Accent might have focused on flight speed, especially when taking off or flying up.
Gift of Hope would likely have enhanced the ability of Amy's singing to boost morale.
Soaring Song I expect will be focused on helping Amy fly and sing longer.
Stay strong. Retcons kill quests and anyone who is too butthurt over the name of these wings is someone you don't want sticking around being salty about every decision that doesn't go their way.
Retcons kill quests.
I usually don't ask for retcons.
But this isn't a QM thing I want retconned.
It's a stupid players, the same types that wanted to name the wings "shankbird" thing I want retconned.
Every name should have given her flight back as we are naming a pair of wings. All naming them does is determine secondary abilities/qualities. A name related to silence, quite or assassination would likely help Amy be quieter and anything to do with cutting might give the ability to launch bladed feathers.
The name Verve is the reason that Nathan has a "Dancing" (to use the D&D term) weapon. A name around cutting might have made it a Vibro-sword and something related to protection might have made it a "Defender."
I'm ambivalent to all 4 names because I can see that all it will change/enhance is her special abilities. Wings are wings and they grant flight.
Yes, I know that, just that I find Soaring Song to be somewhat... lacking? I personally would have preferred Crescendo which I find more elegant. Now that's just my personal opinion, the choice has already been done anyway and I don't think it would be worth it to retcon just for that.
>The name Verve is the reason that Nathan has a "Dancing"
I would have liked if it was called "Miséricorde" which also happens to be french. I wonder what power it would have given...
No, it's not absolutely fucking stupid.
It's still bad and way too wordy and too literal.
Crescendo is soaring song in more elegant and metaphoric terms.
The same reason we didn't name Verve Spirited Killer
If this was something YOU did as a QM that you felt was badly done, that would be one thing.
But retconning this would be picking some players agency over others unless you could get everyone from the previous vote in.
For a Goddamn name. I would be pissed personally if I made the vote last thread and it just got thrown out and changed without being able to be here for the re-vote, also.
>ld be pissed personally if I made the vote last thread and it just got thrown out and changed without being able to be here for the re-vote
Welcome to the club! That's what happened to me.
The players chose Crescendo the first vote, not soaring song.
Player agency has been discarded twice.
once when vox said "FUCK NO" to shankbird. Which was a good call.
And once when crescendo didn't immediately win for being the non-stupid option in the lead.
Why not disregard player choice a third time for one last end all be all mega vote!
Yeah, but that's to keep the flow of the game going. Is he going to leave votes up for days at a time so that people can come vote?
Just move on, this isn't even super critical for fucks sake.
So salty that one vote didn't go your way that you're shitting up the quest.
I'd expect most of the people from the first vote to be there for the second.
If Crescendo had actually been the most popular, it would have won the second round just like the first.
>ust move on, this isn't even super critical for fucks sake.
Actually, if it was any other choice, I wouldn't give a shit.
but i'm gonna have to see Soaring Song every day for the rest of the quest. Maybe not EVERY day, but it's not going away. like I'm stuck with Kat, fetch and verve.
and if soaring song won fair and square, sure, i lose.
It didn't though, Crescendo did.
Crescendo lost 3 to 4 in the second vote.
And I was asleep, so it would have been a tie.
i bet you voted for shankbird didn't you?
>I would have liked if it was called "Miséricorde" which also happens to be french. I wonder what power it would have given...
Armor piercing and possibly relatively painless killing strikes.
>but i'm gonna have to see Soaring Song every day for the rest of the quest. Maybe not EVERY day, but it's not going away. like I'm stuck with Kat, fetch and verve.
Stop being so goddamn autistic.
>and if soaring song won fair and square, sure, i lose.
>It didn't though, Crescendo did
HOW DID CRESCENDO WIN WHEN IT HAD FEWER VOTES?
Also, all the people that didn't vote for either one would have re-voted as well.
Fucking saltfag rules lawyers bitching about shit are even worse on /tg/ than IRL.
Time we could be spending playing, we're instead forced to deal with your whiny bitch-ass "Muh elegant idea waaaaah-sn't picked, boo hoo boo hoo please cater to me above every and anyone else who participates"
I hope we can all ignore you and move on.
Alternatively, if we're going to re-vote then I want Shankbird put back on the list.
It had more votes than Soaring Song the first vote.
The one where Vox exercised the veto.
3 or 4 for crescendo.
1 for Soaring Song.
Just have the vote up on like, that strawpoll site. We can play while we vote. Keep it up 4 24 hours, senpai.
I was asleep and I would have voted for Soaring Song. And there have been probably 10 other people who would have voted one way or the other. Now it is 8 hours since the last post and all that has happened is salt. Could we just move on with the quest?
Yes, I'm happy that a choice won that I would have voted for, but most of the other choices (including Crescendo) would have been fine, too. There's no need to draw out the argueing. I am completely against a revote, except if it is between totally new options (i.e. no Soaring Song, no Crescendo, no Shankbird), because else half the players would be butthurt no matter what wins.
Vox seems to imply a re-vote would be pretty easy as fuck without slowing down the quest.
i think we should have that re-vote.
I agree though, if we re-vote, a bunch of new options, all Vox-created, so if I get stuck with something retarded it's not because of one of you guys.
Shit, I'd be down with that too fampai. Just give me a heads up when it's going to be so I don't get fucked again. Heads up, Crescedo vs Soaring Song.
That or, y'know, all new Vox-created options like that other anon suggested.
These are the results of the recent Referendum on New Zealand's flag.
Notice how the option that was initially winning stopped after the choices were pared down and people voted for one of the remaining ones.
Just because it's winning at first doesn't mean it's the actually favoured option.
My friend, I'm not hosting a new vote. I called my shot and I'm gonna stick to it. The reason that I didn't call for Crescendo is that I felt, and still feel, that the Shankbird votes were made in good faith and that they deserved a voice in the new vote.
I'm sorry, but that's the call.
I can guarantee samefagging from SOMEONE if we do anything but final destination.
Oh hey, I can change ip address? Looks like that can happen too.
The only revoted I could accept is this, all new options and of not then I swear to shit post more than this one salt fag ever could, with dynamic IPs for every fucking vote.
Yep pretty much. Specifically because I don't like you. I haven't liked a LOT of decisions Vox has made and not cheated, but I specifically want just you to be salty enough to leave and never come back.
Besides now you'll be paranoid about possible cheating and get convinced it's happening every time you lose a vote because you have shit taste.
you're projecting pretty hard right now.
The fact that you would ruin this quest for dozens of others, including Vox, just to spite and make me leave
>Implying that will work
makes you a giant autistic sperg machine.
Seriously, reread what you just wrote.
Damn. A guy goes out to pick up his check and get some breakfast and everything just blows up.
Folks, we're all friends here. I've given my reasons for how the vote went, and at this point if those reasons were mistaken, I'm gonna call it a learning experience and move on.
Votes called, writing. Thank you for your patience.
Again, I'm not a fan of Soaring Song, but if that means the thread is gonna get that messy... just wow...
It's just a name, people. In a story no less. Your life isn't over.
Vox, you relly are a trooper if you have to deal with pettys fellows like these on a daily basis...
Guys, it's not that bad.
The fact that you keep a thread up 24 hours, even when you aren't QMing is pretty fucking board selfish. If every quest acted like this quest, quests would be banned for literally shitting up /tg/ 24/7.
Like, when you're away, people are going to talk since you've given them a space to do so.
Sometimes they're going to argue.
And sometimes they're going to shit on each other.
No, he shouldn't be surprised that something up constantly with no real activity in it devolves into shitflinging.
Remember, there's a reason the quest general was banned. It was up 24/7 and just provided a place to shitpost.
>Changing the subject. We can all agree that Nathan's mom went Griffith and sacrificed all her men and all the people she once saved using her Seer powers?
Likely, she might even have seen a future where she needed to be a villain in order save even more lives. She could be pulling a gambit so that Bri and co have the best chance of succeeding in this mission.
She may have replaced a worse threat as Boss #5.
She prevented "Lora" from telling Bri her true name which allowed Bri to get to know her with fewer preconceived notions.
Bri entering New Hell before she is defeated may set up a no win scenario.
There are a lot of possibilities.
So he should bow his head and silently agree to the shitposting, 'by silence do you agree' and all.
Vox never said "I can't believe this is happening". He said "this is ridiculous".
Go fuck yourself, mate.
Hmm, I'm not sure she would have sacrificed all her men in one go. It's more likely her squad was caught in a trap and she had to make a choice. That or just the shock of having to choose on the battlefield between saving [Insert Name Here]and [Insert Name Here] just made her crazy.
There is also the possibility she hid entirely lying for some reason...
You open the door with a welcoming smile. Henrietta's dressed for travel - and you can see the faint gleam of mail armor, just under her collar - but there's no mistaking her fine clothes or the regal posture.
Unlike most nobles you've been dragged in front of, though, that bright look in her green eyes is genuine interest and human warmth. Where the hell did /that/ come from?
There's a man with her, a commoner if you're any guess, with the whipcord muscle of a soldier and the coppery feeling of old death and old pain clinging to him, along with fresher, smaller deaths. A killer, then - and a chef, if you had to bet.
"It's nice to meet you, your Grace. Tea or coffee?"
Henrietta smiles a little guiltily. "I'm afraid I've been spoiled on rather high-quality coffee at home. I wouldn't want to impugn -"
"It's straight from the Harrow," you interrupt, stepping back into the house to wave her in.
"/How/?" the Duchess asks, amazed. She steps inside the small house and gratefully takes the seat you offer her; from the slight waver on her feet, she's still recovering from her first experience on the Dumbwaiter.
"A lamia bribed me with it so she could write my story," you answer. "Who's your...friiiiieeend?" you hazard.
"I'm the cook," the killer says with a shrug. He has eyes for the stove where Amy is working. "Her Grace needed a bodyguard. You learn cooking from a dungeonbreaker, miss?"
Amy looks over her shoulder at the cook while you're pouring the coffee; her metallic wing moves so she can get a good look at him. "How'd you know?"
"Met a few in my life. They handled the seasonings same way you are, trying to get as much flavor out of as few supplies as possible. And most folks don't have armored salt shakers."
Amy grins brightly. "Got some pointers for me?"
"If you don't cut me to ribbons with those fashion statements, sure," the cook agrees; he rolls up his sleeves, scrubs his hands and arms up to the elbows in the wash basin, and settles in near Amy at the stove.
You share a look with Nathan, shrug, then sit at the table with Henrietta.
"He's enthusiastic," Henrietta tells you, almost by way of apology. "He's been part of the staff since just before I was born. They hired him on when he was a boy, out of the orphanage. The cook of the time needed an apprentice."
"Mm," you muse.
> So how'd he become a killer?
> Thanks for coming all this way
> You seem fairly eager to speak with me, your Grace.
As the person who suggested Shankbird in the first place, I have absolutely no problems with it being vetoed.
Can't say I'm a big fan of Soaring Song- I'd prefer something one-word- it's not terrible.
>I'd prefer something one word
That seems common to the people who actually were pitching a fit.
Is there any rason why a complicated single word is somehow better than two simple words?
You stir sugar into your coffee until you can taste your teeth rotting and take a sip. "Thanks for coming all this way, your Grace. I...believe I underestimated your sincerity."
"Many do," Henrietta agrees, with a faint shrug. "Think nothing of it, Ms. la Croix."
"Brianna works," you offer.
Your eyebrows raise into low orbit, but Henrietta's expression remains one of interested dignity, and you let it slide.
"Glen wasn't what I expected," the Duchess admits. "It seems like a place that knows, very well, who and what it is. What I've seen of Lakehallow also suggests a place that knows itself, and that knows peace...though the Lakewarden was glaring daggers at me the entire time I spoke to her."
"Starfall agreed to incarcerate her. She was convicted for having the wrong family name," you say, helpfully.
"...Offering her amnesty would just be an insult at this point, wouldn't it?" the Duchess asks.
"Yyyeaaah...just let that one slide, Ettie," you advise. "It's had time to scab, even if she's still bitter. All you'll do is open a wound that's had time to heal."
Henrietta stirs her coffee, frowns slightly, and then flicks her green eyes to you. "I came to talk business, but now I'm unsure if I want to."
> Eh. Lay it on me.
> Nah, I get it. Don't kiss on the first date and all.
I Told You So
Seriously, I saw this coming a mile away. It didn't happen with Verve because the quest was still young and not much about Nate was set in stone, or at least known to the players.
There isn't much to do but shrug and move on, though. I think it's fine to complain and be salty just to emphasis how many different timezones of anons there are.
>> Eh. Lay it on me.
Do you have everything you need for your perfect cinema experience? Popcorn? Soddy Pop? Flamethrower?
You are thankfully given some additional time to think by the timely arrival of the meal. Amy sets bowls down at the table and passes them out to the folks that don't have chairs, including bringing one outside for Jewel (there's only /so much room/ in this house).
"Your friend -" the cook begins.
"Lover," you correct.
"Shoulda known. You /lover/ has good instincts. Keep that spice rack supplied and you'll be in bank forever."
"Noted," you agree.
You have to admit, his advice definitely brought out the flavors here.
With your plate about halfway eaten and sufficient time to think, you finally gesture at Ettie with your empty coffee mug. "Lay it on me, your Grace. Honestly, I've been dying of curiosity ever since Captain Marsh told me about your interest."
"What's the case you'd make for necromancy?" Henrietta asks, resting her chin on her laced fingers with her elbow on the table.
"I wouldn't," you answer, honestly. "Lots of necromancers are assholes playing with dangerous shit for bad reasons, and they go on to hurt people for shitty reasons."
> Maybe I should tell you about my family first
> Legalized necromancy is something I feel needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis
> Just because I got fucked for a shitty reason doesn't mean the law is bad. I just wish your soldiers would apply some damn nuance.
To Soaring Song's credit,
it's much better than Sonic Assent (yuck)
and Gift of Hope.
Should just be called hope if you want something basic.
Soaring Song is a strong number 2.
It's just that Crescendo happens to exactly be what a delightful word that, when applied to wings, evokes the imagery of both soaring and music outmatch and overcome Soaring Song in all capacities.
But will it never be mentioned to avoid triggering us crescendo-fags? Or because she actually wouldn't mention them. Because then all this pointless arguing and accusations of saltiness and threats to hack vox's quest just have both our name ideas ruined and y'know what, I'm actually not to mad about that.
Back home from Deadpool and god, it was worth seeing in theaters. And I came back to some news that further made my night.
The Mourners: Scum of Shatterdown KS is /live/, folks: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/197021008/mourners-scum-of-shatterdown
I know folks have asked about supporting my writing before, and honestly I still feel weird about the idea of a Patreon. But for folks that liked Mourners, or who like what they see in the sample chapters? This'd help make a lifelong dream of mine a reality.
In a related story, TFW the full-color cover is too big a file to attach to the post. Here: https://i.imgur.com/GNmtQfQ.jpg
Votes called, writing shortly. Thanks for your patience, folks, and for sticking with me this far.
The cook finishes his plate and starts cleaning up; Amy's attempt at protesting is silenced by the flattest glare you've ever seen directed at someone. You could check the level on a shelf with it.
You refill your coffee cup and give Henrietta a curious look. "Do you mind if I smoke?"
"Not at all," Ettie (who thought that was a good nickname?) answers, pleasantly.
You pack your pipe and light the bowl; after a few thoughtful puffs, you speak up.
"This is gonna require talking a bit about my family. The la Croix - are you familiar?"
"To an extent," the Duchess says with a nod. "I'm given to understand that you helped invent some of the underpinnings of modern necromancy, and have provided history with a list of...colorful individuals."
"You can say 'crazy assholes'," you assure her. "We do."
"It's different, when it's not coming from family," Henrietta says with a little smile.
"Heh. You have me there. So - the la Croix have been necromancers for, well, ages. And to be honest, we were assholes for a long time. It took a major revolution in how the family was lead, as well as being thrown out of most decent nations, before we started working actively on not being assholes. And we are /still/ working on that, because death is seductive, and because necromancy can be very good at destruction. It's so /easy/ to reach for revenge, to get back, to get even. And we've spent generations counteracting that, or trying to, by teaching respect and compassion for the living and the dead. We're still not always successful."
You let out a small puff of smoke. "A lot of necromancers don't have the advantage of a wise mentor or a family to support them. Those who choose to study death are often those who were wronged, or who experienced loss that they just can't live with. Driven by pain or by madness, they reach for death to forget the pain of living. But that /never works/, so all they really do is treat people like objects or, worse, resources, and become a blight on the living. And when they reach that point..."
You sight. "When they reach that point, the la Croix make one last attempt to make them back down. Sometimes, in rare cases, they do. Usually we kill them and banish them beyond the Veil so they can't do further harm to the living."
Henrietta leans in, fascinated. "Have you ever considered cleaning up the profession?"
"We get asked that a lot. It's not our job to police life and death, your Grace. And sometimes...sometimes revenge is a choice someone has to make. We cut down those that have become a disease upon the living, but to be quite honest, there's sometimes when people need killing, and times when victims deserve their vengeance, and it's not always or even usually our place to decide that. The la Croix /serve/. We serve communities, nations, armies, patients, whatever fits our temperment, but we serve. Sometimes, very rarely, we lead in the service of others. But we never /rule/."
"I can respect that," she muses. "...Tell me, aside from culling the madmen, what do you think would be the greatest aid in making necromancy...better?"
> Respect for death and the dead
> I'm not sure it's possible
>Therapy sessions. You want to become a necromancer? You get tested, make sure you're not batshit loco. If you're going to use the dread forces of death to raise an army of the dead and damned, no license for you, execution if you practice. Planning on operating a funeral home and want to talk to spirits to check on funerary arrangements? Long as you can prove you're not a bunny strangler, here is your license.
>Respect for LIFE
The problems happen whe people stop caring, when they CHOOSE to stop caring. Very little can be done about that beyond teaching people to respect themselves and strangers.
>Respect for death and the dead
But more the kind of respect that you'd have for like a shark or a tiger, as in "wow that thing is beautiful, and it can also turn me into ribbons and feel no remorse."
>Respect for LIFE
I like the cut of your jib, anon. Necromancy is built on sacrifice, quite literally. If you can't respect what you sacrifice, then you don't have a problem sacrificing it.
Which can lead to zombie armies.
I figure that doing this helps legitimate students learn the stuff, get the help they need with a support system if they start looking like they're gonna go full zombie army, and it helps point out some of the people who might otherwise seek out necromancy for wicked ends. Not ALL, granted, but it'd help start a trend of well adjusted, reasonable people legally practicing and studying necromancy.
>> Respect for death and the dead
And also what this guy said about LIFE
Has Ettie seen our minions yet? Fetch is a shining example of Honorable Necromancy. And Vim and Vigor are the repurposing of a Dishonest one.
No, he was ok and stood at the roots of La Croix going in ok direction too.
Lora's magic preserved him in that ok state, instead of going batshit like long-term liches usually do.
>> Respect for death and the dead
"Most peopel who get into necromancy do so for the wrong reasons, and don't have anyone to teach them better. The only reliable way to get a decent necromancer is to make sure there taught by a decent necromancer."
You consider the question. No one's ever put it quite like that to you before, though you've had thoughts along those lines now that you're thinking about it again. What was it your Aunt had said, when you were a little girl? "Everybody wants to rule the world," she'd told you. "Everyone who's ever lived has a master plan to make it all better."
And power /is/. That lesson seems so relevant to your life, these days.
"Some of it is that a lot of necromancers don't have any respect for the dead that they abuse and enslave," you tell Henrietta. "...But honestly, it's also because they have no respect or compassion for /life/ either. They burn through their life force and throw the innocent over granite slabs to cut their throats, and they stop caring. They become the kind of monsters that hurt them in the first place, and if they could be guided away from that path, you can do a lot of good with necromancy. Fetch?"
Fetch bobs into the house and bows before Henrietta. "Your Grace," he says, courteously.
"Sir Fetch the Nightfeather is my familiar. He values honor, loyalty, chivalry, and the defense of the weak and helpless. He embodied those virtues, from somewhere inside of me, because when I created him I knew on some level that I needed them in my life."
"I live to serve," Fetch says, humbly.
"Curious, Henrietta muses. "It is my pleasure to meet you, Sir Fetch."
"Necromancy saved my life," Nathan says quietly. "It's helped Brianna treat countless wounded people and give others a second chance they wouldn't have had."
"Anyone, in any profession, can go bad," you note. "Necromancy isn't evil. But it attracts those who have been pushed too far, and there's no hand to help pull them back."
The Duchess nods. "I've made my decision."
"Oh?" your eyebrow arches.
Henrietta opens one of her breast pockets and sets down a small, finely-made ring of wrought gold and platinum, set with a small seal.
"A token of my favor," she explains. "As you have said, the laws against necromancy are not necessarily bad laws for the circumstances. But I have no interest in perpetuating injustice, nor in ostracizing those who could reach out for help. I will be issuing a decree, when I return to my home, that empowers those who wear this seal to practice necromancy free of the law's constraints, and to, at their discretion, take custody of convicted necromancers from the law. Right now, you are the only bearer of this ring. I will take your advice as to any others who might recieve it."
You /stare/ in vaguely stunned silence.
"Further, I am going to extend you an offer. I don't expect an answer now; in fact, I won't be /accepting/ an answer now," she adds. "My duchy exists in dangerous ignorance of necromancy. Your tale, and Cherry's, have convinced me that knowledge is needed to best serve my subjects. I would like to fund a school of sorcery, to be built here in the Dungeon, and retain you to teach what you know there."
>"Gimme a minute."
>>smoke all of our cigs at once
>>literally just light them up and pull them down to the cherries in one long drag
>>pass out from oxygen deprivation
>"LORA I NEED AN ADULT"
Alright folks, I need to pass the hell out. Votes will remain open until I wake up in the morning.
As always, questions, comments, feedback, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated.
Thank you all for reading and participating!
> "Show me on the doll where she touched you Bri."
> "In my hope for the future Lora! IT FELT WEIRD!"
Wait, she wants us to make a Not!Hogwarts? The necromancer with magic hands and big black cock?
..Fuck it. Why not? At the very least, Nathan can be a smithing professor and swordmaster, and Amy can be the music teacher and aerial combat expert. And I hear those druids grow some /really nice/ bud.
>Wait, she wants us to make a Not!Hogwarts?
No, she wants us to make a school that actually teaches common fucking sense and ethics with Necromancy as an aside, so pretty much the exact opposite of Hogwarts and you should feel bad for even thinking that we would ever fuck up so much that our school would have "Nice guys, Jocks, Nerds, and Delinquent" houses so that babies little brain doesn't burn out from complicated concepts when reading.
>Ah yes, Hope for the Future, right above the pituitary gland and below the heart
>.....wait, what? That doesn't even make SENSE
>What do you mean, I'm point right at it.
>And I can't see WHERE that finger is pointing. I LITERALLY CANNOT COMPREHEND WHAT DIRECTION IT'S POINTINGRIGHT NOW. I NEED AN ADULT
We should introduce Henrietta to Borsh and Lista at some point, not to mention Silence (though that can wait until she gets over the after-effects of iron poisoning). Gotta get our allies connected, yo.
It might be a good idea to put this plan on hold?
I mean, we're tied up in the dungeon for the foreseeable future. Necromancy is already legal down there, so the ring doesn't do us any immediate good. And while we're down there, we can't exactly give the Dutchess our two cents regarding whether some necromancer's a decent person who happens to like fiddling with corpses, or if he's going to go full Dawn of the Dead.
So, if she issues that decree now, she's going to attract a lot of controversy while unable to produce meaningful results that'd reassure people she knows what she's doing.
It would be much better for her to hold off on that idea until we can spare the time to travel back with her and do the meet and greet with the various nobles and public officials who would otherwise immediately assume that we're some kind of baby-eating elder lich.
>Oof, you all give me too much to live for. I never expected to get an opportunity this big, not in my entire life.
>Whatever my answer, I should note that at some point, I was planning to stop by my hometown, seeing that whoever would be left there would lack a necromancer.
I thought she was deferring an answer on the school idea, but announcing that she'd made up her mind on the ring-and-pardon system. The former is "I would like" while the latter is "I will."
I think the plan is that as of now only Bri gets a ring. Setting up the system /now/ will let people get more-or-less warmed up to the idea before anything actually happens, rather than "Hey Necromancy's okay now if I say so and oh look I said so for this lady and she gets carte-blanche to decide if it's okay for anyone else".
On the contrary, exactly the opposite is going to happen. People aren't going to warm up to the idea UNTIL we're personally involved, putting a human face and understanding to the decision and directly addressing concerns. Announcing it now literally is saying "Hey Necromancy's okay now if I say so and oh look I said so for this lady and she gets carte-blanche to decide if it's okay for anyone else. No of course you don't get to meet her, she's busy in the Dungeon right now."
If she makes the announcement and leaves us out, she'll be grilled over how she plans to vet prospective necromancers and where she got her information.
If she makes the announcement and mentions us as a source or an advisor, people will want to grill US on how we plan to vet prospective necromancers and where we got our information. If we aren't there to answer, then they'll make what they view as the most logical and rational assumption: we're an evil lich, the dutchess has been mind controlled, and this is all the first stage of our plan to infiltrate our dark acolytes is to society. After that comes our thousand-year reign of terror.
When they hear we're in the fucking Dungeon, they're going to think even worse of us. To the rest of the world the Dungeon is a place where criminals are thrown and monsters live. As far as they're concerned we must be a criminal monster by association.
...You're not wrong. Henrietta's young enough to maybe not have thought this through but thankfully there's folks on hand (Joseph, Bri, the cook, Harry...) to point this out to her. Thanks for that, though, as I honestly had not thought that one through. Which I guess is what I get for writing after midnight with no coffee.
Still handling Morning Shit, almost done.
Maybe for now just announce it as a special pardon/license for a specific necromancer who's the exception to the usual rule, and who's done nothing but good in the Duchy. Unveil the rest of the plan later, when the mechanisms are more solidified and/or Bri is there to answer questions.
There's no need to announce it right now at all. Her ruling doesn't matter in the Dungeon, only in her lands, which is where the people who need convincing are. By definition, the only time we'd need the pardon is once we're in a position to explain ourselves.
We don't currently need a pardon; we served our original sentence (exile until we recover the jewels that Bridgette gave us), and haven't committed any new acts of necromancy since (unless bringing the undead topside counts, which I suppose it might).
We still come to the surface occasionally, though, for short enough trips that we can't commit to justifying ourselves to the entire Duchy. It'd be pretty inconvenient if we had to use necromancy up here and got ourselves arrested again.
You stare at Henrietta in blank shock while your pipe burns on its own.
"...That's not the reaction I was quite expecting," the Duchess prompts.
Ettie gives you a puzzled look. "The fuck do you mean, /what/? This is great news, isn't it?"
"I - you - there - /urrrgh/." You take your hat off so you can put your head on the table. "I don't think you have any idea how much personal shit you just stuck your foot in, Ettie. I appreciate the spirit of the offer, I totally do, please don't think I'm ungrateful."
"What are you talking about?" the Duchess asks, confused.
"Your Grace," the cook speaks up, from where he's leaning against the shelf. "I realize you're young - I say like I'm /so much older/ - but there's some shit you're missin' here. At a bet, the la Croix have been hedge witches for ages upon ages, and have been shat on and slapped around by academia for as long as there's been academia."
"Got it in one," you confirm.
"Which means that in the sense of her family traditions, you just asked Bri here to go rogue," the cook continues. "An' her head's on that fine woden table of hers 'cause it sounds tempting."
"Also true," you mutter into the oak.
"...Oh. But - wait, how do you...?"
"We write things down and share them with other branches of the family. We leave copies in emergency dead drops passed down from father to daughter and mother to son. And on the off chance that something honestly gets lost or forgotten, the Dead typically remember."
"There's also the issue of you maybe loosing this arrow a bit early, your Grace," Nathan interjects. "If you publish your decree now, your subjects may not understand what's going on. I would suggest, were I you, to instead let your officers know that Brianna's welcome to go out and about the way she is, and handle any...decrees...when we have twenty minutes straight to let your subjects meet us."
Henrietta frowns, but nods. "You may be right. But keep the ring, please. Quite aside from being relevant later, I had it made for /you/."
Amy laughs, prettily. "Sounds like you made your decision awhile back."
"Maybe," Henrietta agrees, wryly. "...Maybe I think Starfall shouldn't be the garbage dump for the problems others refuse to solve any more."
"Maybe you're running off at the mouth," the cook warns. "What the fuck did I tell you about scheming?"
"People can't reveal what they don't know," Henrietta answers, rolling her eyes. "Why do I waste you in the kitchen again?"
"Because if you sent someone to peel me out of it I'd serve them to you for supper," the cook answers, with a savage grin. "I think we've overstayed our welcome, you Grace. Ms. la Croix, thank you for your hospitality. Miss Amy, it was a pleasure to work with you."
"Come back again sometime," Amy offers.
Hands are shaken, and Henrietta and her cook leave.
"So," Nathan asks. "What'd you think of her?"
> She has good ideals. Luckily she also has that cook, so hopefully he can keep those ideals from getting her killed once she runs them into reality. Good intentions and all that.
>She's either going to usher in a golden age of change and progress or cause some of the biggest disasters this age has ever seen.
>Or you know get killed in some stupid way before she accomplishes much of anything at all.
>She has good ideas but also needs guidance in executing them. Holding on to that cook is a good thing.
I do like Henrietta, with the right actions she'll make some major changes.
"She made eye contact and didn't say things like 'where are your associates' and 'this is your last chance to repent'," you say in a vague tone.
"...Bri?" Amy asks, worried.
"She touched me in my future. She fingered my hope, Amy, I need an adult."
"/Bri/," Nathan says with a laugh.
"She licked my happy feelings!"
"Damnit Bri," Amy manages, doubled over in mirth. "I wanna /live/, quit it!"
You give your lovers a broad smile and put your hat back on your head. "Awkward offers aside, I think I like her. It's nice to see a ruler with good ideals. It's nicer to see 'em with competent help so that they translate into something actionable. That cook..." you frown. "I'd bet you good coin that he's got one of those Pasts with a Capital Letter but I'm not sure it's my place to inquire."
"I got that feeling myself," Nathan admits. "Though it's a good thing he spoke up. If Ettie'd been fingering your daydreams any harder -"
"I'llbeinmynestyoufuckers," Amy squeaks.
You stand and catch her collar, playfully. "There's a Hero in my bed, pretty bird. Go get 'im."
Nathan coughs. "Door's open. Jewel is /right there/."
Jewel shuts the door with almost indecent haste.
"...Okay, that was honestly the entirety of my objection."
* * * *
You need to decide what to focus on with your training while you wait for Natalia's challenge. Nathan is open to continuing your swordsmanship.
"Thing is," he tells you, solemnly, "if you're gonna do it, I need you to stick with it. If you ditch on me again I'm not gonna waste your time or mine. I told you before that the sword is something you live every day."
> Train with Nathan
> Learn from the Caretaker
> Focus on your knowledge of medicine and healing
* * * *
The levels below have had some time to shake back out to normal.
> Visit River
> Check on the Mine
> Check on Brigette
It's been a bit more than a week and Jewel still has Cherry's lantern, but neither have come to you with their decision.
> Leave them alone
> Learn from the Caretaker
> Visit River
> Leave them alone
I don't want to train with Nathan. Bri is not a frontline warrior. She needs to learn more necromancy from the Caretaker.
> Learn from the Caretaker
We need casting more than we need swording. And honestly, I'd rather not yank Nathan's chain any more.
> Visit River
We haven't really talked to our sister in a while. Let's see how she's doing. I wonder if Lark ever made a move?
> Leave them alone
There's a limit to how long we should wait, but if they don't have an answer for us yet, we should let them have a bit more time.
Please greentext your votes, my friend. It helps when I'm countin' 'em up.
Also, this vote extension brought to you by: an invitation to game from a friend of mine. I'll see ya'll in thirty or so.
> Learn from the Caretaker
because Learning from Papa Bones is quite
> Visit River
Time to see how thing are flowing over there
Time to see if Jewel is ready to pop Cherry's
> Learn from the Caretaker
We got to keep our prime focus prime; it's the thing only we can do.
> Check on the Mine
This is the most recent and the most changed and the most directly affecting our near future; Brigette'll keep.
Nicely, of course.
We are nearing uncomfortable levels of thread being close to limit when I have to go to work soon. If folks have questions, comments, feedback, discussion, or theories to share, now would be a /great/ time for those.
Or real life is going to eat my last hour.
I'm gonna re-open the vote and leave it open, and hopefully the thread will be useable when I get home at around 10 PM EST.
Discussion, questions, comments, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated.
Thank you all for reading and participating!
>> Learn from the Caretaker
>> Visit River
While I would love to train with Nathan, at this point we honestly have 0 chance of doing something routinely and to be honest our necromancy/support abilities are 'unique' and therefore a bit more needed for our future endeavors. Also I'd like to explain this to Nate in a straight up honest way and not a 'I don't feel like it' kinda vibe.
On the subject of Jewel/Cherry, I feel we need to at the very least inquire as there is a chance they could jump to the thought of 'This is working out alright how it is so why should we go all possession?' type of thing. Which would go against the whole reason it was brought up and cause more problems than it would solve if we just 'let them be'.
My two cents.
> Train with Nathan
The caretaker is someone who I feel is much better for his advice currently.
The last few things he has taught us are devastating already in most situations and Brianna is still lacking with her swordsmanship.
>Learn from the Caretaker
We need to finish up our Journeyman period and get on to graduation. As for Nathan's offer, explain that, as much as we'd like to continue studying with him, for the moment the daily discipline needed for it isn't feasible. When and if that changes, we look forward to it, but this isn't that time.
> Visit River
Time for some family time with Sis, and see what she thinks of Lark.
> Leave them alone
For now. Don't just let them wallow in indecision for forever, but we're barely past the *minimum* time we required for this trial status, it's not nearly to the point yet that rushing it is called for.
You decide to shoot straight with Nathan.
"I...I'm /interested/ in swordsmanship," you tell him. "I like the discipline, and I like improving. I /love/ spending time with you. But as much as I like it, I provide something to our team that you and Amy can't. And I need to focus on that, both for our immediate needs and for...well, for whatever happens after. I can't stay a journeyman forever."
Nathan nods and claps his hand on your shoulder. "I understand that. I /respect/ that. I take it you're gonna be moving back into the Atheneum for awhile?"
"Yeah," you say with a sigh.
"I'll let Amy know and we'll get packed up."
You look at your tiny house with a wistful sigh. "It'd be nice to actually use the fucking house we got paid with sometime."
"I know, right?"
* * * *
You decide to let Jewel and Cherry be for awhile, though you do pay attention to them while you're living your life over the course of the week (and resuming your lessons with the Caretaker). Jewel elects to move into the Atheneum with you and your lovers, though she takes her own room. You often find her reading, often aloud to Cherry, though during the times she reads quietly you often find Cherry out of her lantern, reading her own book. Both of them warm up very readily to the Caretaker, though Jewel remains distant with Brigette.
Often, when Jewel is sleeping, you find Cherry singing a quiet lullaby to her from inside the lantern.
"Brianna, why is it that you argue with me about taking a break from your studies but, not an hour ago, put a knife through your own hand without so much as a clarifying question?" the old lich asks, pointedly.
You rub the fresh scar on your palm. "That's not the same."
"OF COURSE IT ISN'T, THE BREAK SHOULD BE EASIER! GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIBRARY AND DON'T COME BACK FOR AT LEAST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS!"
After you escape the old lich - you haven't /lived/ until an ancient undead sorcerer has chased you with a broom - you decide to visit River. The Lichyard is feeling cleaner, more pure, though there are many fresh graves; plenty of Keepers and residents of Split needed to be interred after the battle in the Mine.
Asking around gets you directed just outside of town, where River is leaning on her shovel and having a quiet smoke. She's been crying recently, though from the look of the fresh graves around her, you can guess why. It's never easy to bury people you know.
Her ears twitch and swivel when she hears you coming, and she smiles when she turns her head and sees you. "Hey sis."
"Hi. My teacher threw me out for the day and night."
"Mine's giving me a moment's peace," River notes, gratefully.
> How've you been?
> Long few days?
> Got a light?
You shake a cigarette out of the case that Lark gave you - you use Lora's for the few cigars you still own - and stand near River, close enough to be there for her and just far enough to not be in her bubble.
"Got a light?" you ask.
River gives you a somewhat guilty look and whistles softly. Part of her shadow lifts and separates, revealing itself to be small, flattened imp about the size of a kitten. It - he? - flaps up to River's shoulder and sparks the end of your cigarette with a snap of its fingers.
"My thanks, Mister...?" you inquire.
"Zachary, at yer service," the imp says politely. The tiny creature is almost all wings; his scrawny body is dressed in a sharp suit, and tiny glasses adorn his nose, but his wingspan is almost comically large, and they have to bend and twitch to help him balance. "Under contract to Miss River la Croix, of the la Croix family (adopted), for a period not to exceed one lunar month from the time of agreement."
"Charmed," you tell him, with a small smile. "I'm Brianna la Croix. And this is sisterly business."
"You have sixty minutes of free time as outlined in our contract," River tells the small demon, and he nods once before vanishing in a wisp of smoke. River gives you a guilty look.
"Rough couple of days?" you ask her, softly.
"...Buried a lot of friends," she admits.
"Been there. It's rough shit. Now a bad time to ask about the demon?"
"...Depends on why you wanna know, sis."
> Demonology's bad business, River. Stay out of it.
> Just wanting to make sure you're still being careful.
> Honestly? I'm curious as to why Robert knows it, and why you agreed to learn.
>> Honestly? I'm curious as to why Robert knows it, and why you agreed to learn.
>It is risky business.
Necromancy doesn't have a lot of good credit, and I doubt Demonology does either. It could be a bum rap, since it doesn't have to be evil. Evidence being the lovely deal the smith has going and the fact that one of Amy's friends during her 'servitude' was an incubus. It's that as a field, it's one that's almost easier to fuck up and get yourself screwed over.
So long as River's being careful, I don't see much need to throw stones.
> Honestly? I'm curious as to why Robert knows it, and why you agreed to learn.
As a necromancer, it would be hypocritical for Bri to call a field of study she isn't that familiar with "bad business".
All that she needs is a concrete deal, basic and with as few gaps or loopholes as possible.
Honestly, he's probably there to be her assistant or a teaching aide, and to help River understand certain things that Robert can't help her with, being /dead/ and incorporeal.
You give River a sideways glance; the elf is hiding behind her red hair, but it's not as effective as she wants it to be, what with needing to get her cigarette to and from her mouth.
You take a drag on yours. "I'm guessing that guilty look on your face is because of the warning I gave you before."
"...Yeah," River admits. "That, and my first one got loose and I got a scar in the spot whores put their tattoos trying to get it back to Hell."
"Eh, growing pains," you say with a shrug. "Everyone's first or third zombie runs amok. I'm pretty sure that's /more/ understandable with demons. I'm more curious as to why Robert knows this stuff and is passing it along. I mean, demonology and necromancy have a sort of on-again-off-again relationship, but..."
"He's very old-fashioned, Brianna," River explains. "He didn't precisely die a hero. Robert mellowed out in death, but he was interred in the Lichyard to keep him from coming back."
"Oooof. From the total asshole era of the family?"
"Exactly. He's really calmed down in death and come to realize how much of his behavior was totally unacceptable, but he still has the knowledge. And, well..." River trails off. "I don't want him in my head forever. I don't even want him in my head for /much longer/. But he'll put up a fight when I go to banish him. He says that there's more to being a necromancer, to being a la Croix, than just what you know. That you have to be creative, to solve problems, to do what's needed. Right?"
"Right," you agree, watching River's face thoughtfully.
"So if it'll take me years to learn the raw necromancy needed to defeat him, I'll need another tool. Demons can help me with that. Robert helped me summon an old friend of his so I could practice controlling and commanding them. You can't just order demons around or they'll fuck you up faster than a serrated knife. You need to lead them, and earn their trust."
"Did he pick an imp because they're easy?"
River flashes you a wide grin. "No. He picked an imp because they're devious, cunning, often spiteful, dangerous, and independant. Imps kill more of their summoners than any other species of the Secondborn and there are more rogue imps in the Iron Lands than any other kind of demon. The trick is to build their constraints around the type of tasks you want aid with, and then accept those constraints /even in emergencies/."
"Why not, say, order him not to harm the innocent?" you ask, fascinated.
River quirks a slim eyebrow. "Who's innocent to a demon?"
"So if I want him to aid me in battle, for instance, I have to carefully construct circumstances in which he is permitted to harm the Firstborn and when he must stop. I can't make blanket statements if I expect him to participate /at all/. As it happens, I've forbidden him from harming the living through action, indirect action, or purposeful inaction. I don't need help fighting."
"So what's he do for you?" you ask.
River shrugs. "He's my factotum. He's not here for much longer, but while he is here, it's been quite an education."
> I think I approve. It's important for a la Croix to have their own identity.
> Sounds like you've got this all sewn up. What's the catch?
> ...This is leading to some needlessly dramatic showdown with Robert, isn't it?
You adjust your hat and tuck one hand into your coat pocket.
"Y'know, I think I approve. It's important for a la Croix to have their own identity, and it woulda sucked if you got saddled as being 'the elf one'. Just, y'know, general senior-family-member warning to be careful and keep the common good in mind."
"I will. You know I will," River promises. "Once I've got Robert banished, I was going to ask the Caretaker if he would take me on as his apprentice. I can split time between him and the Lichyard so that I can still help the people here, and...well, continue to serve my sentence."
"Figured out why it's a punishment?" you ask, solemnly.
"Yeah," River agrees. "...But I think it was just. And I like the work."
"I like the work too. It just drives me to drink."
> Tell her about Lark's interest
> Suggest she visit the Mine
> Say nothing
Just as a warning folks; we're coming up soon on the opportunity to split the party. You may want to decide, or discuss, on who you want to go where, why, and if you want either group to try to recruit some of the side characters.
As things stand, Amy will want to go to the Roost (she has business to finish there), and Nate will want to go to New Hell to confront his mother.
I share this >>45392555 Anon's wariness on splitting the party. Bri can't really go to new hell because of Nate's mom, and Amy has other shit to do, which begs the question, who's going with Nate?
I think Nate can wait on New Hell to go with Amy.
Bri COULD also go with Amy, but then I think she should prepare arguments for when she gets to talk to Natalia one last time.
That said, SOMEONE should be coordinating around what the minotaurs told us AND the escape path.
Jewel?I mean, it's not going to particularly involve fighting until Nate actually goes down.
Natalia did say she'd summon Nathan to come fight her, right? Why don't we go take care of the Roost, and then deal with Natalia. Having the harpies on our side is going to be very useful, even if though they shouldn't go anywhere near New Hell (fire and feathers don't mix, after all).