This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)

Storyteller

None of the six who spent that night in the clearing slept much,
whether through sentry duty or the thought that it would not be twelve
hours before they reached Hyacinth Castle, and whatever was to be
decided there.

They awoke, or at least saw in the daylight, to an overcast sky that
threatened rain. Dew lay damply on the ground, soaking through
their clothes and making the preparations to break camp a decidedly
unpleasant experience.

Before long, though, their effort had shaken the water from them and they set off on their way northward towards the castle.

“Only 'few hours t'go,” said Jebodiah as once again the old scout moved
ahead of the rest of the group. “We'll be there 'afore noon.”

Hawthorn snorted and shook his mane, spraying out droplets of
water. Cain moved over to him and placed his hand on the horse's
neck. If they shared their thoughts, Cain made no effort to
enlighten the rest of the group.


Ilandra

Grumbling irritably at the dampness around her, Ilandra ran to catch up with Cain and Hawthorn.

“Ugh, I'm still damp!” she grumbled to herself. “Morning, Hawthorn.”
she hesitated a few seconds before holding Cain's free hand. “Looks
like it's not long now before you don't have to carry so much stuff
like this…” the forced cheeriness in her voice didn't quite manage to
hide the (incredibly ill-concealed) irritation at still being damp.
“Also, where's Nyano?”

(OC: have you ever got a cat wet? easiest way to get a homicidal creature in less than 5 seconds…)


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano pops his suprisingly dry head out from amongst the packs on Hawthornes back, then drops himself neatly onto the ground.

“Here I am! Are we going now?”

He chews absentmindedly on the back of one of his paws.

“I hope we get their soon, I think my father might be there.”


Ilandra

Ilandra did a brief double-take at the sudden appearance of the raccoon then looked up at Cain, tugging on his sleeve.

“How come I'm not allowed to ride in Hawthorn's saddle bags?” she asked, in a small voice. “And he's dry!”

She sniffled a little.

“I need a hug!”


Storyteller

“I, er,” spluttered Cain. “I suppose you can, if you like.
Ride in the saddlebags, that is. There's enough space.
Though, er…” He quietened his voice to a whisper. “But
the other two don't know yet, do they? You know, about you
changing shape. They might sort of freak out…”

He thought for a second, then realised what he had forgotten, and hugged Ilandra.


Ilandra

“I'd rather have a piggyback…” Ilandra murmured, winding her fingers in Cain's hair. “Or ride in your pockets…”

She kissed his cheek.

“You're right, they probably would freak out… though Jebodiah already
knows… I don't think very much gets past him. To be honest, I wasn't
surprised that he didn't seem to mind Nyano's sudden appearance.” She
looked down at Nyano. “What if your father's not at Hyacinth Castle? Do
you want us to help you find him?”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“Well if he's not there, I bet we'll find a clue! I'm on a quest,
that's how things work, or at least thats what Prince Abel told me
once, and he knows EVERYTHING.”

He pauses to think for a minute.

“Nobody told me if I was allowed to have people helping me on my quest,
but you're older than me, you probably know how it works better than I
do. If it's ok, could you help me? I'm only a little raccoon, and this
is a big quest.”


Ilandra

“I can't see why not… it might even be on the way to where we're
going…” Ilandra said. “I don't know about being allowed help on
quests, though I've never heard of anyone not being allowed help on
quests… so we might as well help you.” She looked at Cain. “Unless
you have something else in mind…”

He shook his head.

“Yeah, we'll help. Though I need to have a word with you.”

OOC: Just to clarify, the last sentence was spoken by
Ilandra to Nyano… sorry, I re-read this after a few days and it
didn't seem clear to me so I figured I'd clarify for just in case
anyone else gets confused…


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano looked relieved, he straightened his little raccoon shoulders and met Illandra's eyes.

“Thank you. I should admit that I was a little afraid of doing such a big quest all by myself.”

He checked to see that no one who wasn't a Hyacynth, a Poppy or a
horse was nearby. When he was certain they weren't being spied
upon he turned back to Illandra.

“What is it you want to talk to me about?”


Storyteller

Nyano rolls Perception (4) + Kenning (1) = 5 dice, difficulty 6.

2 successes!

Ilandra: Honeysuckle, noble
Cain: Poppy, noble
Jebodiah: Hyacinth (barely), peasant
Solid Snape: Hyacinth, peasant
An Hero: Hyacinth, peasant
Hawthorn: Absolutely a real horse.

Jebodiah's eyes seem to shine even brighter now that you're looking for
traces of glamour. They are clearly magical, but it's not a
result of any cantrip you know of. It also feels somewhat alien
to the body in which it resides – it doesn't look like the golden eyes
are intrinsically Jebodiah's.


Ilandra

“Well my cousin bumped into us recently… and she erm…” Ilandra
looked a little sheepish. “Can I just ask that you don't use Cain as
bait? I don't mind anyone using me as bait, but… it just bugs me.”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“What?” Nyano looks confused. He takes a second to think. “Oh, you mean
the plan! I wasn't going to use anybody as anything without asking
them. It was just an idea. Besides, your cousin must have been
confused, it didn't involve using either of you as bait separately. It
was just a way to make your wedding more secure.”

He pauses for breath.

“You are going to get married, aren't you? They sent an assasin to one
of our big parties, I bet they'll send another one when you get
married. It doesn't really have anything to do with bait. The plan was
to send the entire party to Mortalia once everyone had arrived, but
without telling the servants. So that the assasin gets left in a castle
full of guards with no guests, and Hugh arranges a big party for you in
Mortalia.”

Nyano wrings his hands.

“I didn't really want anyone to get hurt.”


Ilandra

Ilandra looked stunned.

“Oh.” she managed after a few seconds. “Well, in that case… may I
offer our sincere apologies… I mean mine and Akane's. I'll see that
her wires get uncrossed again the next time I see her…”
She jumped down from her perch in Cain's arms and bowed to Nyano.

“I am so incredibly sorry for this misunderstanding… It was very
sweet of you to take our safety into account like that.” she dropped
her voice. “Would you mind being a page boy?”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“Do I get to wear a big white tabard, and a hat with a feather in it?”

Nyano's eyes sparkle at his imagined finery.

“I'd do anything for a hat with a feather in it.”


Ilandra

“Of course! And you'd get to carry a velvet cushion and everything!” she said.


Storyteller

Ahead of them the three peasants had stopped at the crest of the hill and were staring at what lay over it in silence.

As the nobles reached the top, they saw why.

The forest finished abruptly in a line stretching far into the east and
the west. In front of them lay a bowl-like valley almost as big
as the entirety of Poppy kingdom, with not a tree in sight. It
looked like every square inch of it had once been carpeted with
hyacinth flowers, barring the occasional rock and the magnificent
gleaming spires of the town and castle set exactly at its centre.

No longer, however. The castle's fairytale spires were battered
and crumbling, showing gaping holes and smashed stone where once the
walls were bright and gleaming marble. Its defensive walls,
insubstantial though they would have been in the first place, lay in
pieces. The surrounding town hadn't fared any better – scuttling
figures could just about be seen rushing to and from several burning
buildings. Where once bloomed flowers as far as the eye could
see, now there were but wilting stems and patches of blackened ash.

Taking up a good quarter of the valley, though, were two massed
armies. Thousands; tens of thousands of soldiers stood in rank
and file, facing their opponents over a few hundred yards of flat
land. Their pennants, variously in red and white, left no doubt
about what was going on.

Toward the farther side of the valley, Red forces from several houses
stood together in protection of a row of giant siege engines that even
now rained stones upon Hyacinth castle. Nearer to the watchers
stood the Whites, looking to outnumber the Reds slightly.

In the middle of the expanse that separated the armies, several mounted
nobles with opposing flags stood presumably in heated conversation
prior to the battle. Though almost five miles distant from Nyano
and Ilandra, the sense of tension was apparent even to them.


Ilandra

Ilandra surveyed the chaos before her.

“I think I might still be able to get us to the castle… but I don't
know how much soldiers care about diplomatic immunity…” she said,
doubtfully. “Mind you, we're not a big group so we might get by…”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano looked at the spectacle before him. His soul slowly turning numb at the sheer number of faeries in the field.

“My father's down there” he muttered to himself quietly. Then he came back to himself and looked up to Illandra.

“Do we even want to go to the castle now? Maybe we should ask the man with the strange eyes.”


Ilandra

Ilandra looked across at Jebodiah.

“We still going to the castle?” she asked. “Cos that's an awful lot of soldiers…”


Storyteller

“Weeeehl,” said Jebodiah, who didn't look like he'd expected a
battlefield either. “It does look a bit unfriendly down 'ere,
don' it? It ain't the armies Oi'm worried 'bout, they ain't
loikely ta notice us. But tha castle's still bein' shot at by
them tre…bur…things.”

He stood in silence for a few seconds.

“Still,” he said, stepping forward then turning to face the
others. “You's all free ta' make 'yer own decisions. Me,
oi'm carryin' on. Oi've come too far, an' made too many prom'ses
ta back out now.”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano ducks back into Hawthorne's saddlebag, obviously figuring that he'll let the horse make the scary decisions.


Ilandra

“We made a promise to Nyano that we'd help him on his quest and he said
he had a lead that would take him to the castle.” Ilandra said. “I
don't like the fact there's trebuchets… but we could try asking the
generals to back down if it's too much of a problem… alternatively we
could just get moving and see how it goes…”


Storyteller

“Sloight problem there, miss,” said Jebodiah. “Though we don'
'ave ta go through th' armies ta get ta the castle, Oi think we moight
to get ta their war m'chines. 'Course, we could always wait 'til
the battle's over. Whoever wins, Oi'm sure the tre…things'll
stop.”

He thought in silence again.

“Though Oi'm sure there'll be Hy'cinth soldiers out there. If Oi
can stop them – if Oi can stop any'a th' peasant folk bein' killed for
this damn war, Oi'm goin' to!”


Ilandra

“Oh for the love of…” Ilandra grabbed the older guy's arm and started
marching towards the castle. “We are going to sort this mess out. Right
now!”


Storyteller

Jebodiah shot Ilandra an unnerving golden glare and removed his arm
from her grip. With a hand signal he waved the two other peasants
into position at the front of the group, while Cain and Hawthorn –
still with Nyano in his saddlebags – following on behind.

The six of them headed down the gently sloping side of the
valley. Though the sun shone brightly overhead, what it shone on
would not have been pretty in any light. Either side of the wide
track on which they travelled, wilted hyacinth plants sulked on every
available patch of soil. Now and again, swathes of trampled or
burnt plants marked the marches and skirmishes of some army or another.

The path curved slowly to the right before heading directly to the
castle, taking them further from the massed troops. Though they
passed several small houses on the way, there was no-one in
sight. Once or twice, a flick of a shadow behind a rock or a
rustling in a patch of taller vegetation may have been an army's scout
patrol, or then again it could have been their own scout. Either
way, nobody approached them or demanded to know who they were.

After nearly an hour, their path led them through the streets of the
town that surrounded Hyacinth Castle. The buildings that had been
burning earlier had been extinguished and no new ones appeared to be
alight, though the destruction around them was near total. As
many houses lay in ruins as still stood intact, each of the latter full
to bursting point with displaced peasants. The six of them
received no shortage of angry, sad and questioning looks as they picked
their way through fallen timber and chunks of stone towards the castle.

The first set of gates, those in the utterly ineffective defensive
wall, somehow still stood – and not only that, they were still
guarded! Two men, clearly nobles and so presumably low-ranking
officers, stood either side of the closed wooden gates. Their
uniforms featured white details alongside the traditional Hyacinth
uniform.

The group paused for a moment fifty yards or so from the gates –
Jebodiah in front, flanked by the other two peasants, Ilandra close
behind, then Cain and Hawthorn with Nyano poking his head out of the
saddlebags – as half a ton of rock fell screaming from the sky and
smashed one of the castle's smaller towers into rubble. Another
plume of dust joined the many others in rising into the noonday sky.


Ilandra

Ilandra rolled her sleeves up, cracked her knuckles and took a step forward.

“Well, come on then!” she said, walking towards the main entrance. “What's the worst that could happen?”


Storyteller

“Well, ah…” said Cain, but it was clear that no-one was paying
attention. Ilandra was heading straight for the gate and the
peasants, buoyed by her enthusiasm, were joining her. He sighed,
shared a knowing glance with Hawthorn, and the two of them plus their
rodent cargo followed on after the other four.

Closer in, they could see the expressions on the guards' faces.
'Panicked' was probably the word, though 'fretting' would also do just
fine. It was abundantly clear that more than anything else they
wanted to be anywhere but guarding the gate of a collapsed wall whilst
rocks rained down around them.

Both of them made the effort to concentrate as the strange group approached.

“Halt!” said the larger of the two. “Who goes there, and what's your business here?”


Ilandra

“I'm duchess Honeysuckle and I demand an audience and a cup of tea!”
Ilandra told them, pushing past. “Oh and this is my retinue… run
along and find your duke for me…”

She waved lazily towards the castle in a shooing motion, still walking towards the castle.


Storyteller

The smaller guard moved across to whisper to his colleague.

“That's a, er, pretty odd retinue you have there, Miss,” he said once
the whispering had finished. “Er, your Grace. If you really
are a Duchess.”

“Anyway,” continued the larger, “even if you are, you can't have an
audience with the Duke. He's, er… He's not here.”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

[Private
to GM: Two nobles and a couple of peasants is an odd retinue for a
duchess now? Also what is Nyano's actual rank. If you don't pick
something, he's going to start refering to himself as an Earl when
trying to impress commoners.
]

Nyano popped his head out of the saddlebag, twitching his snout at the guards.

“Not here?” He squeaked “What do you mean not here? This is his castle isn't it?”

He looked at the guards in procyon shock. “Do you mean to say he's refusing us hospitality. That's terribly bad manners.”

He put on his most mournful expression as he appraised the guards, “I
wouldn't want to be the poor gateguard responsible for refusing
hospitality to a Duchess when it's raining giant rocks outside. I do
hope she won't take it personally.”


Ilandra

Ilandra looked at the guards, sadness emanating from her every pore.

“But… but… I really really wanted that cup of tea…” she said, her
eyes brimming. “Couldn't you at least let me in? I am not lying! And
besides, I'm allowed any retinue I damned well want! It's the point of
being me!”

She flashed Jebodiah an apologetic look.

“Can you not see the giant rocks raining down? Come on, My house is
totally neutral, even if he was in I wouldn't hurt him!” she looked at
the guard. “Pretty please?”


Storyteller

[Private
to Nyano-Sgiathatch: A man with eerie gold eyes and only one horse
between the lot of them? That is *fairly* odd… Nyano's
rank can be pretty much anything you like (below Duke, obviously).
]

The guards looked nervously at each other.

“Well, ah, the castle is rather the target of the rocks. If you
really must take shelter inside I suppose you're welcome, but,
ah… Outside might be a lot safer.”

The guards whispered to each other again, not quite quietly enough.

“But the Duke said 'not even the King and Queen themselves!”

“Do you think he's really going to care anymore?

“What?”

“Look, the siege isn't stopping, is it? Any minute a rock could
kill us, or him. Does guarding the gate of some smashed-up wall
even matter now?”


Ilandra

“Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!” Ilandra gushed, bouncing up and hugging the first guard. “Now please let us in…”


Storyteller

“Wait, we didn't agree…” spluttered one of the guards.

The other sighed. “Look,” he said, “there's probably someone else
watching the gates, and if we let you in they'll probably give us guard
duty here until the Reds are at our throats. Go that way,” he
pointed to the right along the wall. “Two hundred yards.
The wall's collapsed enough you can just walk right through.
We'll be looking over here and whistling quite loudly. Got
it? Er… your Grace?”


Ilandra

She leaned towards the guards
“You know, if you like I can give you asylum on my land…” she said,
in a low voice. “There's no sieges there cos we're neutral…”
She hid this by hugging both guards again before skipping towards the hole in the wall that they'd pointed out.

“Well come on then!” she called to the others.


Storyteller

With varied shrugs and confused expressions, the others followed
Ilandra south along the wall until they reached a likely-looking
collapsed section. The ground was strewn with enough rubble that
walking across it was difficult, doubly so for Hawthorn. After a
few minutes, though, they had all made their way safely to the other
side.

All around them were what would once have been gardens, though they had
suffered even worse than the land outside the town. Not only were
withered patches of grass and smouldering black scars more commonplace
than healthy-looking areas, but six or seven large rocks and their
associated craters marred the once flat ground.

From inside the wall, the castle's state was even more apparent.
As they watched, even though there had been no direct hits in a good
five minutes, parapets and crenelations cracked off from the main body
of the castle and fell to the ground in plumes of dust and shrapnel.

A side entrance to a reasonably intact-looking section of the castle
stood not far from them. It was unguarded – in fact, inside of
the wall they had not seen a single living soul, in marked contrast to
the packed houses and activity in the streets outside.


Ilandra

Ilandra wandered over to the door, looking back at the others.

“Let's see what's inside…”

Cut to the chase, Renton


Storyteller

Cain left Hawthorn outside, trusting that he would look after himself
and not get hit by anything. Nyano jumped out from the saddlebags
and headed inside with the rest of them.

Once inside the door, it became readily apparent where all the people
they had been expecting were. Though they could just about escape
notice by standing just inside the door, and there seemed to have been
no great alarm at the door opening, peeking around the corners revealed
the place to be swarming with soldiers.

It was entirely possible that some quirk of fate had led them straight to the Hyacinths' barracks.

At the far end of the room, a door led out into what presumably was the
rest of the castle. In the way, though, were various signs of an
army in panic – soldiers rushing about the place, heavily-stacked
weapons racks, piles of armour and shields, and so on.

“Roight,” said Jebodiah. “This weren't exactly 'ow Oi 'oped this bit'd go. Any oideas, people?”


Ilandra

“Sweet lover of…” Ilandra murmured under her breath. “I have a plan.”

She turned to Cain.

“Don't panic… I'll try not to get hurt.” She told him before melting into her cat shape and setting off down the hall.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano looked after the duchess and figured that one raccoon wasn't
going to be particularly noticeable in that mess. So he hurried off
into the crowd after Illandra.


Storyteller

“Wow!” exclaimed the young man with the swords. “So she really is a Duchess!”

Slowly, deceptively slowly, the others turned to look at him.

“Oh, shit. Whoops.”

“Did you hear something?” came a soldier's voice from across the room?

“Yeah,” said another. “Must be someone arsing around. Let's take a look.”

The bandanna'd man's eyes flicked back and forth in a panic before
alighting on a set of cardboard boxes of varying sizes in the corner.

“Quick!” he whispered. “Get inta' the boxes!”

Cain rolls Dex (3) + Athletics (3), difficulty 6: 7 successes!
Jebodiah rolls Dex (2) + Athletics (0), difficulty 6: 2 successes!
Solid Snape (Radar: Yellow (Pursuit mode)): Auto-success!
An Hero rolls Dex (3) + Athletics (3), difficulty 6: 3 successes!

Leaving naught but clouds of cartoonish dust behind them, the four of
them hid themselves inside the containers, just as the first of the
soldiers rounded the corners.

“Huh,” said one of them. “Maybe they went outside?”

Nyano and Ilandra, roll some Dex + Stealth if you
want to actually sneak rather than just try to get overlooked by being
animals.


Ilandra

Ilandra carried on down the hallway, mewing quietly whenever she
thought she was being watched too closely, looking for a room that
contained someone that looked like a duke.


Storyteller

Ilandra snuck through the door of the barracks, with Nyano following in
the shadows close behind. The corridor beyond opened out in each
direction, with numerous doors leading off. Upstairs and
downstairs were both much the same, with occasional locked doors and
destroyed sections forcing them to try other routes through the
castle. Passers-by paid them little heed, in the main having far
more urgent things to occupy them than the ingress of local wildlife.

Meanwhile, back in the barracks, a sequence of mightily stupid soldiers
had completely failed to notice the slow but steady progress of four
large cardboard boxes across the floor. They sat near the door
for some time, unable to escape from the soldiers' gaze since the door
was visible from all over the room.

With luck, though, after a few minutes a call to muster came from
outside and the majority of them kitted up and left. Presumably,
something was going on out on the battlefield…

Once outside the room Jebodiah and the old scout shared a hushed
conversation, and the latter disappeared with haste down a corridor.

“What was that about?” Cain asked.

“Jus' gonna foind sommat fer me,” the old man replied. “Pers'nal business.”

Cain pressed the point no further, and the three of them headed up through the castle in search of the Duke.

Two floors up from the barracks, Ilandra and Nyano had worked their way
around to what they assumed from the carpets and the elaborate
furnishings to be the nobles' area of the castle. Not a noble was
in sight, though, and they passed by a few servants and guards.

It wasn't long before they reached a great marble staircase, its
grandeur only slightly marred by the fact that it was missing several
large chunks. Downward it stretched to what must have been the
main entrance, whilst up a floor the stairs ended abruptly with another
door.

Just like the gate there were two guards here, also nobles. They
did not wear the military uniform that the soldiers wore, though –
theirs was much more elaborate and featured more shades of blue and
purple than any dress coat should have. They looked determined to
the others' terrified, despite the fact that a missile had clearly
removed several of the steps not twenty feet in front of them.


Ilandra

“Bingo!” Ilandra muttered to herself, approaching the group.

Now to see which of these likely lads is gonna take me to Hyacinth

She morphed out of her cat form, still wandering over to them.

“Hi, I seem to be lost…” she fluttered her eyelashes at the two guards. “I was looking for a guy…”


Storyteller

The guards eyed her warily. “Looking for a guy?”


Ilandra

“Yeah, kinda tall-ish, attractive and slightly spineless… Know anyone matching those characteristics?” she asked.


Storyteller

“Spineless?”

The two guards shared a knowing glance.

“That's not a very polite way of referring to His Grace, if indeed you
were. Besides, you're in the wrong place. He's out on the
battlefield with the army.”


Ilandra

“He so isn't! I checked and the lovely gentlemen told me that he'd be
around here. Wasn't that nice of them?” she said, drawing herself up to
her full height (of 5'4″). “Come on, he'll totally want to see me! I'll
make it worth your while?”


Storyteller

“I doubt you could make it worth our while, Miss. Besides, if
he's not with the army then we don't know where he is, so we can't take
you to him anyway.

“Now, is there anything else we can help you with? In case you
hadn't noticed, it's not exactly safe for you to be around here.”


Ilandra

Ilandra rolls to see if they're bluffing.
You rolled 1 success using 5d10 with the World of Darkness 1st ed system with a target of 6 ((1,3,9,4,2)).

“Hmm, so you won't mind if I look around?” she took a step towards them.


Storyteller

While not 100% sure, you're pretty confident they're not quite telling the truth.

“Yes we will, I'm afraid. Regardless of where His Grace is, we still have orders not to let anyone beyond these doors.”


Ilandra

“OK, OK… I'll back down…” she said, putting her hands up. “What
could I do to help you change your minds? I'm unarmed, as you can see
so I'm no threat and I have nothing to do with the war.”


Storyteller

“We all having something to do with the war these days, Miss. And there's very little you could do to convince us.”

He straightened up a little taller than usual, pushing the seven foot mark.

“Our loyalty was the reason we were chosen for this position, you know.”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

While they're distracted, Nyano attempts to sneak past.


Ilandra

“Fine.” she pouted for a second or two then took in a deep breath. “HEY
YOUR GRACE! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE, I WANNA MAKE YOU AN OFFER OF
SANCTUARY!”

“Sorry guys, did I forget to mention I have a totally neutral house and
a hospital and loads of vacancies for extra people?” she asked.


Storyteller

There was a protracted silence, during which the guards looked somewhat nervous.

Nyano took the opportunity of the loud noise to sneak past the guards undetected, to stand between them and the door.

“You have a house?” asked one of the guards skeptically.


Ilandra

“Erm, yeah. Don't you know who I am?” she asked, smiling mischievously.
“I'm from House Honeysuckle, sent on behalf of the duchess… will you
let me in now?”


Storyteller

“Well…” said the other. “No. We have our orders.”


Ilandra

“Couldn't one of you at least let him know I'm here and want to help
him live?” she asked. She was trying to make it clear she wouldn't
leave unless she saw him.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Having accomplished his first trick, Nyano was about to try for his second.

Sadly he is a very small raccoon, and in front of him was a very big
door. He could hear the guards talking to Illandra behind him, so he
figured he had a couple of seconds before they looked around.

He took one quick step forward, then another, and finally with the
third step made a flying raccoon leap towards the doorhandle…


Storyteller

“Maybe we could if we knew where he-“

Click.

Nyano, dangling a foot or so off the ground, swung open with the door. The guards turned around in surprise…

Ilandra, if you're about to do what you told me OC,
do so. Nyano, if you're about to do something other than drop off
the doorhandle and look into the room, post that too.


Ilandra

“Bingo!” she said as she morphed back into a cat and ran into the room.

Once inside she looked around.


Storyteller

The guards paused for a second in shock, having thoroughly not expected to be outfoxed by unexpected wildlife.

Given their bare headstart, Nyano and Ilandra raced into the room beyond the doors.

The room was expansive and expensive in equal measure, all carpeted in
a rich bluey-purple and wallpapered with similar shades.
Portraits and hunting trophies took pride of place on the walls, though
the room was dominated by a gigantic bay window perhaps thirty feet
across. It would doubtless have been magnificent when it let in
the morning light, but now it let in the afternoon light and a hefty
draft.

The reason for this was readily apparent, for not far from it a tangled
mess of floorboards and a protruding rock marked the site of the latest
impact.

And, in front of that rock and looking down at it with considerable
irritation, stood a man blond of hair and blue of eye, pointed of ear
and pointed of boots and seven feet between them. He turned to
face the intruders, golden buttons on his blue frock-coat glinting in
the remains of light from the window.

His lips stayed untelling, though his eyes flashed with what might have been malice or might have been amusement.

“My, my,” he said, his voice sugary-sweet and reeking of danger. “And what have we here?”

Behind Nyano and Ilandra, the guards that had briefly tried to pursue
them caught the look in Duke Hyacinth's eyes, and stood rooted to the
spot.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Catching the dangerous look, Nyano defaulted to his natural cuteness.

Clutching one paw in another he turned to the tall man and asked:

“I'm sorry to bother you sir. But I'm on a Quest. Have you seen my father?”


Ilandra

Ilandra morphed back into her fae form.

Man in uniform alert! Roll willpower!
0 Successes!

“You're Duke Hyacinth?” she managed, walking slowly and (she hoped) seductively towards him.


Storyteller

“Your father?” asked Hyacinth. “Can't say one has, but then one tends not to associate with his…”

He faltered as he noticed Ilandra.

“What?”


Ilandra

Ilandra shook her head a little, as though she was trying to clear her mind.

“Well, you're pretty and they said such bad things about you and it's surprising…” she burbled.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano was so caught up in his quest that he failed to notice the duke's distraction.

“But but you must have seen him. The messenger said he was here. His name is Serendil.”


Storyteller

“Well, one does try to keep up appearances,” said Hyacinth, flicking
back his hair, “but it has become somewhat more difficult of late.

“Now,” he said, turning to Nyano, “if you are looking for a member of my staff, you had better ask my-“

He would have continued but for the sudden appearance of Jebodiah at
the door. The old man pushed his way past the stunned guards and
into the room, waggling his walking stick at Duke Hyacinth.

“Duke Hyacinth!” he shouted, his voice carrying remarkable
fervour. “You have abused this country and its people long
enough! The people of the Duchy of Hyacinth demand your immediate
abdication!”

The Duke just chuckled. “So,” he said, “one sees the curse has
driven you mad after all! One knew it could not have taken long.”


Ilandra

“You cursed Jebodiah?” Ilandra tore her eyes from Duke Hyacinth and seemed slightly less distracted. “But why?”


Storyteller

“It was his punishment, for wanting to know- Ouch!”

The Duke was interrupted mid-sentence, as was becoming the fashion, by
a darkly clad figure vaulting in through the window with his bandanna
trailing behind him. The old scout landed virtually on top of
Hyacinth, bowling him to the ground, the weight of him supplemented by
the furry bundle he carried under one arm.

“Jebodiah, it's all set up,” he said as his grappling hook retracted of its own accord.

“Oh, and… Nyano, was it? Did you mean this guy?”

He dropped the furry bundle to the floor, from where it unfolded itself into a rather burly-looking adult raccoon.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“DAD!”

Nyano rushes over to his father.

“Are you hurt? Is everything ok?”


Storyteller

Serendil grunted, and stepped forward to hug his son – standing heavily on Hyacinth's arm in the process.

“I'm fine,” he said, “but man, am I surprised to see you! How did you even know where I was being held?”

With two people at once standing on his prone form, Duke Hyacinth finally exploded.

“Peasants!” he screamed. “Get off me this instant!”


Ilandra

“On come now, Dukey, they obviously haven't seen each other in a
while… and neither of them are peasants.” Ilandra said. “Least, I
don't think they are…”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“There was a messenger… Didn't you send him?”

Nyano looks confused for a moment. “Anyway, you're ok now. And we have our castle back and everything.”

He fishes at his belt for something, and pulls out his boomerang.

“I know you say that violence is bad, but isn't this one of those special exceptions you don't like to talk about?”

He holds the boomerang out to his father.


Storyteller

“You know,” said Serendil, “I think it might be.”

Almost as if summoned by the prospect of extreme violence the youngest
of the three peasants burst in, knocking the doors back on their hinges.

“You will pay for your crimes!” he shouted in Hyacinth's general
direction, severely over-estimating how cool he sounded. “Prepare
to meet your doom!”


Ilandra

“OK, see this is where politically it gets kinda tricky for me…”
Ilandra said, looking at Nyano and the Duke. “Kinda hard to maintain
neutrality in the middle of a fight.”


Storyteller

“Oh, One has had enough of this,” said Hyacinth from the floor. “Guards!”

The guards didn't move – not, this time, out of fear of their master,
but rather out of fear of the poppy-red and summer-gold sabre held at
their throats. Around Cain, poppy petals still floated gently to
the floor from where his sword had appeared.

“Right,” said Hyacinth. With one impressively swift motion he threw the scout and the raccoon off him and stood up.

“This is all getting unnecessary violent,” he said. “Does no-one here wish to talk sensibly about any of this?”


Ilandra

“Thank you! Yes, that is what I wanted to begin with and those loyal
guards wouldn't let me…” Ilandra said, exasperation creeping into her
voice. “Violence is not really the ideal way of sorting this out…
let's sit down and talk and sort out the problem over some tea.”

She placed emphasis on the word 'tea' letting everyone present that it was a major hint.


Storyteller

Cain, assuming the threat from the guards to be over, moved across the room to join his fiancÈ.

“Right,” said Hyacinth again, gesturing to a table that would
comfortably seat them all. “Is everyone going to be sensible
about this, or is one still about to be attacked?” He glared
particularly at the man with the sword, who looked questioningly in
Jebodiah's direction.

“We sit,” said the old man.

“Nyano,” said Cain, “your quest is nearly at an end, yet I'm sure what
happens next will be of utmost importance to our House. Would you
and your father care to join us?”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“Well if you ask, we can't really say no can we?”


Storyteller

“It wasn't a command, Nyano,” said Cain. “You can do as you please!”

Nevertheless, Nyano and Serendil took their place next to Cain at the
table. Before sitting, the Duke pulled on a rope that set bells
ringing in some far-off and possibly disintegrated part of the castle.

“Well then,” he said as he took his seat at the head of the table, “I assume your… group all came here with a purpose?”


Ilandra

“Yes, we did.” Ilandra said, fixing the duke with a very feline stare.
“Basically, your people are unhappy with you and so are your
neighbouring lands and we want to know what you plan to do about it.”


Storyteller

“What one plans to do about it? Surely you've seen the view from
the window? What can one do when half one's land is occupied by
one's enemies, the other half by one's allies, and one barely has a
castle let alone an army?”


Ilandra

“Well, you could abdicate… I'll do you a deal, you abdicate and I'll
let you live on my lands.” She said. “Oh and drop that whole 'one'
stuff… what's your name anyway?”


Storyteller

“Abdicate? Abdicate?!” Duke Hyacinth practically exploded. “I've never been so insulted! Nobody abdicates! Name me one Duke who ever did!”


Ilandra

“One who doesn't wanna get killed.” she said, standing. “You've been
offered a free life in a way close to what you're accustomed to, take
it or leave it… otherwise, it looks like you're pretty much gonna get
killed.”


Storyteller

“Now, now. Did you not wish to talk sensibly about things without resorting to violence, but a few minutes ago?”

He gestured to the doorway, in which stood a servant bearing a teapot and a stack of cups.

“Did you not want tea?”


Ilandra

“TEA!!!” she cried, excitedly running over and hugging the Duke then
running to the servant and relieving him of the teapot and a cup which
she took back to the table and sipped at purring loudly. Seeing the
looks the others gave her she poured them a cup each and returned to
her own. “Besides, my hands are pretty much tied… I wouldn't get away
with killing anybody even if I wanted to…”


Storyteller

“Well then, now you have admitted your threats to be somewhat empty, do
you have any other suggestions, or may one return to governing his
country as best as he is able given the circumstances?”

As if to make the point, a loud crash of stone against stone echoed
around the room, shaking fragments of plaster from the ceiling.


Ilandra

“Oh but my friends here can, all I have to do is turn a blind eye or
claim to be here against my will…” she said, looking at the ceiling.
“The real question is, do you want to get out of here alive or not? Cos
the way I see it you could stay behind or come with us… Unless Cain
has any objection?”


Storyteller

“I suppose not,” said Cain. “Though I have no idea where we're
supposed to be going when we leave here. Wandering aimlessly with
a dispossessed Duke could be a bad plan. Er… Ilandra? Are
you okay? You look kind of… funny.”

Sorry to have to ask this, but… Stamina + Survival plz.


Ilandra

Roll for stamina + survival
You botched using 4d10 with the World of Darkness 1st ed system with a target of 9 ((4,2,3,1)).

“I feel kinda icky…” she managed. “'ll kill 'm m'self!”

She pulled her scissors from her bag and began to glow slightly.

You rolled 2 successes using 4d10 with the World of Darkness 1st ed system with a target of 8 ((9,7,8,4)).
Jebodiah watched Ilandra more intently.

“I'll destroy you!” she shouted, brandishing the scissors.


Storyteller

Right, here goes.
Ilandra attempts to use SortÈ magic to sever all Duke Hyacinth's fate strands.

Ilandra burns 1 temporary glamour.

Ilandra burns 1 Willpower for an autosuccess.

Ilandra rolls max(Glamour,Willpower) = 5 dice, difficulty 6.
4 successes + 1 autosuccess = 5 successes!

Hyacinth rolls max(Banality,Willpower) = 5 dice, difficulty 6.
2 successes!

Ilandra wins by 3 successes.

Ilandra gains 3 temporary Banality points.

Ilandra, still swaying and fading into the background, suddenly stands
in shadow where once the afternoon light lit her well. A shiver
went down the spine of those watching – all except Duke Hyacinth.

The Duke's eyes widened, staring into empty space, then… then they blackened. He sank to his knees whimpering, then his muscles spasmed and he began to scream in agony.

Duke Hyacinth has substantial numbers of strands
severed. His friends, family – what little of them remain are now
gone from his heart. His alliance with the White Houses, and his
connection to his own House, still remain – as does a connection with
Jebodiah that you've never seen before.

Duke Hyacinth rolls Int (2) + H.Wisdom (2), difficulty 6, to understand the magic.
2 successes!

“You!” he screamed through the pain as he glared at Ilandra with his eerie black eyes. “What… have you… done?”

Tea drinkers:
An Hero rolls Sta (3) + Survival (1), diff 9 – 0 successes!
Solid Snape rolls Sta (3) + Survival (4), diff 9 – botch! WTF?

Meanwhile, the heroic young man attempts to stand up, but staggers
woozily into the table. The old scout simply falls off his chair
backwards!

Ilandra, Sta + Survival diff 6 please.

Ilandra's temporaries: Glamour 4, Willpower 1, Banality 6.


Ilandra

“You tried to kill me! I'm going to make you suffer!” she replied.
Roll to stay conscious.
You botched using 4d10 with the World of Darkness 1st ed system with a target of 6 ((2,1,1,3)).
Burn a temporary willpower to stay conscious.

She carries on severing the threads before passing out.
“Avenge my death…” she burbled as she sunk to the floor.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano finally snaps away from his horrid facination with the scene
before him, he turns to his father and gestures subtly at the boomerang
and whispers:

“Dad! The guards!”


Storyteller

In but a moment, the room virtually exploded with activity.

Brace yourselves, this post is a la longcat.

Ilandra attempts to use SortÈ magic to sever all Duke Hyacinth's fate strands.

Ilandra burns 1 temporary glamour.

Ilandra rolls max(Glamour,Willpower) = 5 dice, difficulty 6.
3 successes!

Hyacinth rolls max(Banality,Willpower) = 5 dice, difficulty 6.
2 successes!

Ilandra wins by 1 success.

Ilandra gains 1 temporary Banality points.

Hyacinth's reputation amongst his allies was severely damaged.

Duke Hyacinth just about managed to gasp the word “Guards!” before his screaming continued anew.

Ilandra, the poison finally having taken its hold of her despite her
strength of will, collapsed to the ground. The shadow faded and
evaporated around her, leaving her body slumped on the ground.

The guards, hearing screams, rushed into the room with sabres drawn.

“What's going on here?” shouted the taller of the two. “Who's
that man screaming? And why are there two raccoons in here now?”

An Hero rolls Stamina (3) + Survival (1), difficulty 6: 1 success!

At the other side of the table, almost unnoticed, the young man
staggered slightly and grabbed hold of his chair, barely managing to
stay upright.

Cain dropped to Ilandra's side, and shook her by the shoulders. “Ilandra!” he shouted. “Ilandra!”

He stood again in a shower of poppy petals, his sword once more at his side. He turned, slowly, to face the Duke.

“Right, son!” said Serendil. “Stand back. It's my duty to
protect you from all these horrible violent people! PACIFIST
BOOMERANG!!”

Serendil rolls Dex (3) + Something-like-Thrown (3) = 6, difficulty 5 + extra opponent = 6.
4 successes!

Guards roll Dex (3) + Dodge (1) = 4, difficulty 6.
4 successes!

Serendil flung the boomerang in a wide arc, cutting across the two
guards. It struck against both their swords with a satisfying
clanging sound, sending both of them flying backwards and sliding ten
feet across the floor.

The raccoon caught the weapon as it returned perfectly to his hand.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“Good job Dad! You're an example to us all, you didn't even hurt them!”

Nyano turns his eyes on the fallen guards.

“You two should be ashamed of yourself, rushing in here and swinging
weapons about. People might get hurt! Put them away and give up, you're
seriously outmatched.”


Storyteller

“We only came in to see what the screaming was about!” said one of the guards, lifting his head slightly from the floor.

“The man over there in the frock coat, he was screaming. I think
he's whimpering now. Is he some kind of friend of yours? We
didn't see him come in…”

OC: You're about as clueless as the guards.
Close inspection of his ring or sword would reveal him to be Duke
Hyacinth, and you remember that the Hyacinths are on the opposite side
of the war to the Poppies – but without that inspection, you don't
remember who he is or why he's here.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano turns to look at the strange pointy man, before responding to the guards.

“I haven't a clue, he's no friend of ours. Anyway we have everything
under control here, shouldn't you be patrolling or something”


Storyteller

“It, er, doesn't look very under control to me. There's people on the floor, and that man over there has his sword drawn!”

“Besides,” continued the other guard. “You can see this castle's
under attack. It's not safe to be here. If everything truly
is under control, I suggest you leave immediately.”

Meanwhile, Cain was simmering gently.

“You,” he said slowly to the semi-coherent Duke. “You're responsible for the poisoned tea, aren't you?”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“The tea was poisoned?”

Ignoring the still supine guards, Nyano turned quickly to his father.

“We shouldn't let the tea servant get away!”


Storyteller

“What?” exclaimed the butler. With a second's thought, he started
to make a run for the door behind the guards. For their part,
they began cautiously to get to their feet, still nervous of
rodent-launched projectiles.

Cain raised his sword, slowly but surely, to Duke Hyacinth's neck.

“What did you put in it? What was the poison?!” He paused and lowered his voice. He'd noticed the ring.

“You're Hyacinth, aren't you? Duke Hyacinth.”

The Duke stiffened noticeably, and looked up at Cain. For the first time, he noticed the ring on Cain's finger too.

“Duke… No, you're too young. I remember… I don't remember. Are you Duke Poppy?”

“Prince,” said Cain. “Well, that would make us on opposite sides,
would it not? And this would be my sword at your throat.”


Storyteller

“PEACE AND LOVE ANKLE ATTACK!” shouted Serendil, flinging the boomerang
and neatly taking out the servant's ankles. He fell to the floor
with a painful-sounding thud.

“Well,” he said to Nyano. “At least we didn't get around to having a cup of tea, eh?”

“I believe,” said Cain, “that being the case, it would be normal for me
to demand that your join our side or that I kill you. However,
bearing in mind how many times I recall the Hyacinths switching sides over the past three years, I'm not sure the former is a good idea.”


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“And don't you go anywhere until all of this is over!”

Nyano shouts at the butler.


Storyteller

“T' others may 'ave lost their mem'ries,” said Jebodiah, moving around
behind the Duke and jabbing at him with his cane to make the point,
“bu' Oi 'member exac'ly who y'are and what ya've done. Yer
death'd not even begin ta make up fer it.”

“One does not-” the Duke began, but a swift crack on the back of his
ankles from Jebodiah brought his neck into contact with Cain's
sword. His eyes widened, and he seemed on the verge of tears.

“Alright, alright, One… I… I give up. What do you want from me?”

Jebodiah smiled.

“This.”

With one swift motion unexpected of a man of his age, Jebodiah grabbed
the signet ring on Duke Hyacinth's finger, spun him round so as to pull
the ring off, and pushed him back against Cain's sword.

Cain stood, mouth agape, as his sword ran with Hyacinth's blood.

Slowly, inexorably, his smile widening with every step of the motion,
Jebodiah slid Duke Hyacinth's signet ring onto his right index finger.

Out in the valley, the few Hyacinth flowers that had survived the fires
of war died and shrivelled into blackened stumps. The ground
shook, even though the shelling had stopped, and the soldiers of the
armies stopped mid-sword swing. Something was wrong. Very
wrong.

And all around those who stood in the late Duke's reception room, the castle started to waver and fade…


Nyano-Sgiathatch

“MURDERER!” Shouts Nyano as the castle dissapears around him.

He takes a great big raccoony leap towards Jebodiah trying to grab the finger that has the ring.

“You don't deserve to become a noble like that!”


Storyteller

Nyano rolls Dex (3) + Brawl (0) = 3, difficulty 6.
2 successes!

Jebodiah rolls Dex (2) + Brawl (0) = 2, difficulty 6.
0 successes!

Raiden^H^H^H^H^H^H Nyano… wins!

Diving across the table, Nyano bowled Jebodiah over and swiped the ring from his finger almost as soon as he had put it on.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano tries to head back the relative safety of his father, but as the
flagstones dissolve beneath his feet he notices their predicament.

Without any idea what else to do, and remembering that he is a proper noble, he puts the ring on.


Storyteller

Nyano slipped the ring onto one of his claws, it somehow managing to
fit despite the biological differences. For a moment, it felt
strange and tingly.

Then it smashed.

The room flooded with red-tinged light, and in an instant not only were
the walls and floor real again, but the smashed windows and crumbling
stonework was as new. Poppy-red pennants flew from every pristine
and shining tower, and the repaired encircling wall was hung with Poppy
banners.

In the valley, the stumps of Hyacinth flowers and even the boulders and
scorch marks were scythed away as a wave of poppy flowers spread out
from the castle across the land as far as eyes could see.

The Whites, to a man, turned and fled as they saw and felt that the
land was no longer theirs. Deep in the castle's basement, a
strange device shattered and the barrier that once fenced Hyacinth land
was gone.

Ilandra and the old man blinked and opened their eyes, their unconsciousness gone with the effects of the poison.

Days' ride to the south, a strange look crossed Regara's face.
Not joy, and not resignation, but something. Something knowing.

Weeks' ride to the north, in a tall and jagged tower like an obsidian
tear cried from heaven, in a room so high all of Fairyland could be
seen, a young man removed a small white token from a board to replace
it with a red one.

Further away, a distance beyond distance, early Spring would never be the same again.

House Hyacinth was no more.

At the centre of it all stood a raccoon, swathed in red light and
swirls of Glamour. And he knew, just for that moment, that all
was right with the world.

Nyano gains 1 permanent Glamour.
Nyano gains 1 dot of Title.
Ilandra, feel free to reset your temporary Glamour/Banality/Willpower to pre-Sorte levels.
Nyano gains 10 XP.
Ilandra gains 10 XP.