Author Topic: A tense exchange  (Read 1158 times)

Plushiecompanioncube

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2019, 07:11:11 PM »
Hello, it's me again. Are you still knocking about? The other crackpot kicked it. Good to see cultish nutjobs can survive, will need that for the future. Just wanted to check in while I still have the chance to check in to the inter(dimensional)web. Keep praying. Someone's listening.

P.S: Rage all you want, I could still kick your ass with my lascannon behind my back...

BioSpark

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 12:11:13 PM »
Hail Gruumsh, strongest of all, knower of all, conqueror of all.

"Well, well, well.  Just when you think you have the measure of an orc, he proves you wrong."

Pardon?

"Revel in this moment, Tung.  Gruumsh, knower of all as you rightly state, has humbly admitted fault to you, his lowly servant.  This is rare, my eye of Gruumsh."

That name again.  I have done something terrible and you are very pleased.

"Do not ruin the moment with your angst.  Bad things happened to bad people.  There, justification.  Moral guidance.  Is this not what you pray for, for answers?  Direction in times of ethical crisis?  Gruumsh will help you.  They deserved what they got, Tung.  Now, tell me the story of your victory."

We infiltrated a goblin stronghold.

"A small ruined fortification filled with dead goblins, rotting vegetables and sleeping guards.  Yes, I saw that.  Stronghold is a strong term, do you not think?"

It would have been an appropriate term had we not carefully incapacitated the sentries and interrogated them for vital information which was, ultimately, of incredible strategic importance.

"Granted.  You could simply have rushed them.  They were only goblins, after all.  Hardly a threat."

About that... I seem to be incapable of avoiding blows when fully immersed in a combat situation.  Need I ask why?

"I do not require thanks.  If you were truly dedicated, you would cast aside your armour and fight like your ancestors, tooth and claw against unfeeling, impersonal steel.  That bone axe of yours, it is a warrior's weapon.  Bone.  Bone is good for orc.  Steel is for man, leather is for man."

That would be suicide.

"It would provide tremendous motivation, no?"

...

The goblins had taken and imprisoned a horse.  Possibly for sport.  They do not seem to care much for beasts except for food and sport, little savages that they are.  Beshka seems to have it tamed.

"You have no means of removing it.  Unless you plan on eating the creature, surely a mercy killing would be the 'right' thing to do?"

Beshka seems to have a problem with that line of thinking.  I hope we can find an alternative.  She values life.  That is important.

About the place were store rooms and barracks.  We neutralised several threats.  Quite brutally, I am ashamed to admit.  Jiro seems to have a moral objection to murdering creatures in their sleep.  Were goblins worthy of life in the first place I might agree.  He has a strange moral code.  We agree, to my surprise, on several issues involving morality, respecting our superiors and society in general but it would seem but he has a very... soft heart.  If he is not careful it may be his undoing.  I think I will have to protect him like he protects me sometimes.

Our informant told us three useful things.  That his leader rode a kind of lizard, that his leader had befriended a 'scary lady' and that the castle had a flight of stairs leading to a basement.  We have confirmed the first.  The informant seemed too stupid and too scared to lie so we prepare for the worst to come.

The goblins took a throne room or other large indoor area.  Somebody was displaying false moving images to them depicting a great goblin victory at Sandpoint.  We took the opportunity to voice our interpretation of the events of the day.

"Yes, I witnessed nearly one dozen acts of correction.  I respect your technique, Tung.  You give no thought to the state of the premises you fight upon, nor the state of your companions in the aftermath.  I do not often see such a fantastic display of gore.  The battlefield truly is your canvas."

I am not proud.

"But you should be, Tung, and rightly so!  Nothing demoralises quite like being struck with the loosened head of a former companion!"

A means to an end, my lord.  Vermin they may be but at least we did not prolong their pain and suffering.  Except for perhaps the creatures fighting Fripflop.  They seemed to suffer for a while.  He is a competent fighter but that... companion of his, she fights all wrong.  Everything about her is wrong.  She smells wrong.  Gruumsh, what is Samantha?

"You are aware of the concept of a machine, yes?"

To an extent.

"That is a close approximation."

... in the form of a human?  That is horrible.  Mortals are not qualified to make life.

"Really?  They do it all the time.  Just because this one is not organic, you find it offensive?"

Unnerving more than offensive.

The goblins had a... shaman?  A bard?  I do not know what it was, nor what it was shrieking but it was silenced.  I hope we were not planning to interrogate him.  I had clearly established with the party that we did not plan to ask questions of any of these beasts.  I need to ask that regularly now.  Jiro is still a little upset about the Suto situation.  Jiro tries hard for us, he should not be upset.

"He will come to terms with what you are soon enough.  He will have to.  You're hardly capable of changing your nature now, eye of Gruumsh.  You have come too far."

Their numbers, originally approaching one dozen, dwindled to nothing.  All that was left was their leader sat upon a saddled lizard.  It looked like Fripflop but monstrous.  They called it "gecko".  It must be a creature from the southern lands, I have never laid eyes on one before.  I would have remembered.  The beast scaled the walls as if it were magical, though judging by the residue upon my axe, I suspect it was merely quite sticky.  Significantly more sticky now...

"Was it necessary to remove its legs?  A beheading is usually more effective."

I wished to prevent it from climbing further for fear that Jiro would attempt to mount it a second time.  He was very brave by trying to halt the beast's progress but a second fall would surely have injured him.

"So you sought to incapacitate and grievously wound the creature, prolonging its suffering before the kill?"

Not... precisely my aim, no.  It would perhaps have been a regrettable side effect in the course of vital, unavoidable conflict.  That sounds like you are implying that I have begun to torture those I fight.

"Victims, Tung.  Use the correct terminology.  But yes, needless cruelty suits you, my child.  It suits your race, it suits you.  You should indulge more often; it will soothe your inner demons."

It will soothe you.

"Ha, precisely!"

The goblin chieftain fought well.  Fought well for a goblin, at least.  I do not know where he found heavy armour so well tailored to a goblin.  Made by his slaves, I would suppose.  Well... he didn't fight well.  He carried blows well.  I think he injured me but it was hard to tell.  I do seem to be bleeding.  I struck him and he remained standing, which I am unaccustomed to, but he fell to other means...

"When you went for the jugular and attempted to poison him, yes."

Please, I am still uncomfortable about the venom.  But yes, when I... bit him, yes.  I cannot control that impulse.  I want to control it.  His meat was sour.

I seem to have, in my rage, defiled a shrine.  I am told it is to Lamashtu.  That was the name of the goblin god from before.  Lamashtu does not seem like a good god.  Do you know them?

"Not personally.  We do not all know each other.  Do all orcs know each other?  All gods are not created equal and from what little I know of her, you have nothing to fear.  Defile in my name, by all means.  I very much approve of that.  It sends a powerful message to the deity you have chosen to disrespect and robs them of what little power they still posess."

My lord, have you any temples?  Any altars?

"My house of worship is the battlefield, Tung.  My altars are those who fight in my name.  This is why your conduct in battle is so important, you embody my teachings, you convert, you inspire, you lead others by example.  This is what it means to be an eye of Gruumsh, an avatar of divinity.  Do you understand the awesome responsiblity?"

I think I do.  Thank you for your trust.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2019, 10:37:35 AM »
Hail Gruumsh, strongest of all, knower of all, conqueror of all.

"A moment.  You have been very rude, Tung.  You have been travelling with all of these new friends for so long and yet have never formally introduced me to any of them.  Tell me about your friends."

You know about them already.  What is there to tell?  They fight by my side, each with their own strengths that offset our own individual weaknesses.  They are my trusted friends and I would happily fight by their side through most any ordeal.

"No, Tung.  Not who.  What."

You clearly have some grievance to air.  Speak plainly, we have both accepted that you are my superior in every way.  You have no need to belittle or intimidate me further, I lost any urge to resist many years ago.

"Very well then, hasty young ingrate.  Jiro.  Tell me about him."

He... is a defensive fighter.  Trained in a more exotic, precise style than the brute force approach I prefer.  Quite agile.  Very honorable, good at conversation, better in formal settings...

"What.  Is.  He.  WHAT RACE."

... half-elf?

"YOU HAVE BEEN TRAVELLING THESE PAST WEEKS WITH A HALF-ELF AND HE STILL LIVES?!"

Half-elves are not elves!  Half-orc is not orc!  He has never spoken of elven culture, has none of the bearing and few features of a pure elf, never even discusses elven religion!

"AN INCOMPLETE ELF.  READY TO TURN AT ANY MOMENT.  HOW CAN YOU TRUST THAT WHICH WILL SURELY BETRAY YOU, HE WHICH LAY WITH YOUR ANCIENT ENEMY?!"

I do not know anything of his partner!  They may be elf, human, half-elf... we do not discuss personal matters!

"I DO NOT MEAN HIM.  All times are the same to the divine.  All humans are the first and the last, all orcs, all ELVES.  Your lives are so brief there is little point in observing at any smaller scale than the whole.  His line purposely diluted itself.  But fine, you insist on travelling with him?  You "trust" him?  Then do so.  And when you lay, dying on the cold ground, his boot on your back, do not expect to be welcomed into my kingdom with open arms.  Do not expect aid."

Do not concern yourself with what I expect.  I expect trial and hardship.  Such is the way of the barbarian.  Such is the way of Gruumsh.

A strange journey today.  We interrogated the chieftain.  He confirmed much of what we already expected.  Jiro threatened torture which seemed rather unusual for someone of his moral outlook and inflicted a number of flesh wounds.  His technique is inefficient, I would have broken bones first.  Our actor professed her undying love for... Ripnugget?  I have some deep concerns about her...

"Then kill her."

That is not how things are done in human society.  We have discussions instead.

"So do elves."

Who also have a much higher life expectancy and better quality of life than orcs.  Their way may not be better but it is better suited to this world of commerce and politics that I have been forced to live in.

"Thin ice, Tung.  Dangerously thin."

We found the basement.  Fought a bugbear and his wives.  Presumably wives.  Maybe Ripnugget's.  No matter, they all died.  Perhaps I should have visited the rage upon him but he hardly seemed a threat.

"He was to Jiro.  How quickly you forgot the bond of trust in favour of your own interests."

Naked and laid prone.  He should not have evaded my blows.

We found some goblin infants.  Garren was keen to do the right thing and silence them permanently.  Jiro seems to find the idea abhorrent.  I do not think he sees the bigger picture.

"What do you expect?  He is a liability."

I do not agree.  I feel like these creatures should be slain, yes, and certainly before breeding age.  Maybe he has a point.  They are innocent for now and without the guidance of their peers, who knows, they may be... tolerable...

No.  They should not be allowed to live.  The day I meet a goblin capable of the intelligence necessary to deviate from the disgusting behaviours exhibited by every example I have personally witnessed, on that day I will admit fault.  For now, I will overlook the mistake we are making.  If this ends badly, I will not accept responsibility.

"Whatever brings you comfort.  You agonise over your moral choices too often.  Black and white, good and evil, orc and ELF.  Things are simple, Tung, as are you.  You disagree with something?  Strike it down.  Demand.  Kill.  These are the tools of the orc diplomat.  Words have no weight and no substance but history, true history, that is written in blood.  Surely a language simple enough that even you could read it, yes?."
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2019, 04:24:19 PM »
Gruumsh...

"MY CHAMPION!"

No.  I am nobody's champion.

"Such a display of single-minded carnage, Tung!  Such anger!  Such a complete disregard for yourself and others in the pursuit of the KILL!"

I am no hero today.  If I cannot use my strength to save those I care about then what is the point of all this endless fighting?  Gruumsh, my lord, my eternal overseer, I could not save him.

"The half-ELF?"

He had a name.  Jiro.  It must be remembered.  He is our champion.  He threw himself bravely into a fight he could not win, unarmed and outmatched.  He did it to save me.  He saved all of us.  Never before have kin of man nor elf shown me such kindness.  Gruumsh... save him.

"You wish for me to bring him back from the dead?  Gladly.  Would you like a zombie?  Perhaps something more exotic?"

Resurrection, Gruumsh.  I pray for a resurrection.

"Oh no, young Tung.  You shall not have that."

What will it take?  How much more sacrifice, what other profane acts do you desire I carry out for you?  No price is too great.

"No price?  Be careful about what you say to the gods, hasty one.  But no, it is not about the price.  Mortal Tung, naive Tung, it does not do to meddle in the affairs of other gods.  If Jiro wishes to be resurrected then it must be by the hand of a deity with a little more interest in his philosophical outlook..."

Excuse me?

"Very well, I will rephrase in terms you can understand.  Jiro good.  Jiro is a good person.  Yes?"

Yes.

"Gruumsh bad.  Bad Gruumsh.  Gruumsh is a bad god, yes?"

... yes?

"Jiro may have gone to a good place.  If this is the case, I certainly have no interest in being there.  Good gods have long memories and, hypocritically, preach forgiveness but seldom practice it.  No, Jiro may be resurrected but not by Gruumsh, I will have no part in it."

You could.  I think you're scared of the other gods...

"Do no attempt to employ reverse psychology, Tung.  We both know you lack the intelligence for it."

Reverse psychology sounds like... magic, maybe?

"Imbecile.  Jiro is dead, Tung.  Gruumsh will not help him.  It is as simple as that.  Now, the fight.  Tell Gruumsh your story."

I am uncomfortable that you have so easily dismissed somebody who fought by my side.  Somebody who helped secure many of the victories you celebrate.  One of us.

"Us is a term for your tribe, Tung.  Jiro was not that.  Barbarians should not make friends.  Friends die easily and often.  Barbarians die, too.  The battlefield doesn't care if you are a good person, if you didn't deserve death.  I am sorry for your lost elf.  There.  Do you feel better now?"

Half-elf.

"Yes.  Two halves now, by my count."

You are disgusting.

"And you chose to worship me.  Continue."

We explored some other rooms.  Nothing much to report on.  Bedrooms for the most part.  The end of the tunnel through the temple we were exploring ended in darkness.  It appears that the whole structure was not in active use.  We found the other Jiro's bedroom.  The man I split.

"A lot of that going around, eh?"

I want to leave Jiro's body here for now.  Maybe he will be comfortable in a human bed.  It looks clean and is surrounded by things his people like.  Books and such.  Music.  Humans like these things.

We found a large door.  Forced it open.  An orc was inside, praying to Lamashtu.  A large statue.  Is Lamashtu truly so disgusting to behold?

"Worse.  Mortal depictions of gods are traditionally poor.  Usually if a mortal takes it upon themselves to create a 20-foot tall depiction of their god, they are so beyond rational thought that they are lucky to add the correct number of limbs.   Lamashtu is an evil god with an unhealthy obsession with fertility and a inclination toward inflicting birth defects.  If you saw her in person, you would vomit.  You would gouge your other eye.  You would beg for death.  Yes, Gruumsh is "bad", Tung, but Lamashtu is deranged.  Incidentally, I have a friend of yours here..."

"PIG.  COWARD.  INBRED."

"She is such a keen judge of character!"

My quarry lives?!

"No, no.  She does not "live".  You took her eye, Tung.  You offered her as a sacrifice to me?  Well, here she is.  I would ask if you would like to talk but... well, she is a little busy just at this time."

Did Lamashtu not come for her?

"She will, the frothing beast cares for her own in her strange, strange way.  When she tires enough of hurting children to realise that one of her devotees is on the wrong plane, she will come running.  For now, you have provided me with an amusing diversion.  Do you know how much pain a soul can endure, Tung?"

... no...

"Truth be told, neither does Gruumsh.  This priestess of battle does, though.  In depth.  It is quite marvellous how quickly such a dismally stupid creature can learn in such a short time, is it not?"

Indistinct wailing punctuated with creative, petty obscenities can be faintly heard whenever Gruumsh speaks.

I did not sacrifice her to you for torture.

"She took your friend and you complain about her treatment?  What do you think I do with most of your sacrifices?  I am BORED, Tung.  There is precious little that evil gods can do to fill the endless millenia.  This is why we intervene in mortal lives."

You... yes... you are right.  She deserves this.

"She does, Tung.  You did this.  You are responsible.  You gave her what she deserves and you should be proud."

She beckoned me into the church.  Said she'd been expecting me.  Demanded a challenge.

"I would like to know upon what grounds you refused.  I would have supported you in an honourable duel, Tung.  You would have had the aid of your lord Gruumsh."

I would not.

"Ha!  You are learning quickly too!"

She was clearly goading me into a pointless, one sided fight.  She knew she had the upper hand.  It was later proved that she had reinforcements ready, superior equipment and more combat experience.  She was trying to offend my honour.

"She did not succeed?"

I did not respect her opinion after seeing her choice of deity.

"Well said."

She was angered by this.  By much, in fact.  Very angry in general.  She called down her pet from the darkness above and slammed the door shut.  Her pet, some hellhound or similar with the power of flight, shrieked at us.  It seemed to unsettle everybody.  Garen was locked out of the room and also seemed cross.  Everybody was angry or scared.  It was not a pleasant situation.  I plunged my axe into her but she somehow shrugged off the blow.  I did not strike so hard or so true when I hit the other Jiro and he was cut clean through.  Gruumsh, what was she?

"Orc.  Stronger stock than half-ELF.  Better stock."

She fought back.  I was struck with a blow so hard that I did not feel it.  I could not feel anything.  All red, red all over me.  Red on the ground.  I think I saw bone.  My vision was blurring, sounds muffled.

"Yes, you nearly died, Tung.  You came exceptionally close."

I saw a thunder cloud form.  Beshka, I suppose.  She is very upset now.  She tried very hard to stop this.  I was dimly aware of Jiro beside me.  Like he always is.  Was.  Always beside me, always supporting us, always dependable.  He fought the orc without a weapon.  He knew he was to die today.  I could see it in his posture.  He did a bad thing, Gruumsh.  Bad and good all at once.  His sacrifice saved us.  If... if you will not bring him back, please tell me, did he...

"What."

What is his heaven, Gruumsh?

"Dull and inferior."

Oh.  Did he get there?

"I could not care less Tung, truly I could not.  I expect so.  I will not check for you if that is what you are trying to ask."

Oh.  Very well.

I am glad you accepted my offering.  I hope it was to your liking.

"About that.  Defiling the idol of Lamashtu by offering its eye to me was in the right spirit, yes, and certainly will upset the unholy mother but... why?  There is no significance to you taking the eyes of other creatures."

I thought you wanted eyes.  Right eyes.  I take right eyes now.

"As an act of self-sacrifice, Tung, SELF-sacrifice!  Oh... never mind, just do as you will..."

Gruumsh, why do I have hooves now?

"Tung, you are an endless font of amusement today.  Tell me, why do you think you have hooves?"

I think the warrior priestess cast a spell on me.  They are lasting longer than most magic does.  When will they go away?

"Oh my sweet child.  No, you have been given a gift by Lamashtu."

Is this boons again?  I do not care for boons.

"How incredibly rude.  Have my boons not been beneficial?"

I still feel sick.

"You will learn to adapt.  This, however, is not a boon.  Consider a boon a gift.  You perform well, you please a god, you receive a boon.  Yes?"

Yes.

"Now consider what happens when you upset a god.  When you hurt a god.  When you defile their places of worship and harm their followers.  Consider if this hypothetical god were, perhaps, inclined toward vengeance and physical deformity."

Oh no...

"Two-Toe One-Ton.  Ah, I apologise, I know that your slave name upsets you but that is such a satisfying turn of phrase, is it not?"

Ugh... very well, I can see you do not intend to help.

"Do not come crying to me expecting sympathy when you started this fight all by yourself, young one.  Gruumsh did not tell you to bring harm to other gods."

It was implied.

"You interpretation, not my law as written.  It was not my will, it is not my problem.  Obviously I approve, yes.  Find yourself a cleric who cares; it should be trivial to undo the damage for a price."

The belt, then.  We took the priestess' belt.  It is magical and the others think I should wear it.  Is it beneficial?  I do not notice much of a change.

"Beneficial?  To some, yes.  I fear that you may not notice the effects as much as most would."

Those effects being?

"Oh, you will find out in due course.  Before you start sobbing again, no, it is not a 'boon'.  Boring mortal magic, that, and nothing more.  Well, probably nothing more."

The sound of hooves on earth and very heavy, laboured breathing can be heard.  The overall effect could best be described as "wet and bestial"

"Ah, speaking of the unholy mother, I fancy that Lamashtu draws near.  No doubt looking for a lost, furious little lamb.  Do excuse me, young one, I have unwelcome guests."

The sound of thunderclaps, distant bellowing, frenzied animalistic bleating and booming maniacal laughter echo through Tung's head.  Gruumsh is having quite a day.  Tung, without noticing, begins to nervously chew on his calloused knuckles.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 09:22:55 AM by BioSpark »
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2019, 03:43:10 PM »
Hail Gruumsh, strongest of all, knower of all, conqueror of all.

"Oh Tung.  Sweet, noble, Tung.  Bearer of the moral high ground, paragon of virtue."

What.

"Killing babies, Tung?  Is that what you've stooped to?"

Goblins.  Killing goblins.  Before they could cause a problem for the good people of Sandpoint.

"For shame, Tung.  In the future, those goblins could have achieved things.  May have been ambassadors for their people.  May have been the exception."

You are mocking me.

"Oh yes.  Entirely.  You know, I am confused.  I have no quarrel with goblins.  Hardly worth the effort.  Why do you hate them, I wonder?  You do not hate humans though you have suffered by their hand.  You do not hate ELF despite their long history of oppressing your people.  Why goblins?  Why does the predator care about the bottom feeder?"

In this case the bottom feeder is a swarm of filth imbued with a sense of entitlement.  I have yet to find a single goblin who didn't believe that all the good things in the world were theirs to take.  Yet to find one willing to talk, even among its own fellows.  They are at best a disorganised group of ineffectual, juvenile pirates and at worst represent all that is wrong about mob rule and its hive mentality.

"The same has been said about orcs.  Do you not recall why your family were killed, forgetful one?"

They were killed by intolerant humans.  They were killed by misinformation and narrow minded hatred.

"... I am at a loss.  You have an omniscient being at a loss for words, Tung.  Truly, it is as if you do not even realise what you are saying.  You understand the term 'hypocrisy'?"

Orc fights to rule.  Orc fights to conquer.  Goblin fights to survive and to steal.  No ambition, no purpose, just small minded, petty violence with no direction.

"Well, I have clearly touched a nerve.  I hope your justifications help you sleep at night.  Maybe you are angry because you have suffered such a humiliating defeat?  What news of your travels?"

Beshka returned to town for supplies.  I killed some goblin children.  She returned.  Suspects nothing.  If I am questioned, I have nothing to hide.  Came back, brought healing.  Explored further, found a long staircase, found a half-demon woman.  Angry.  Cleric.  Hurt us badly.

"Look at you.  So terse.  You realise that you, an orc of 45, are throwing an actual temper tantrum because your nasty little prejudices were challenged?  What would mummy and daddy think?"

We regrouped.  Healed.  Went back.  Ready to enter the cleric's office.  Think she is going to mock us.  Think she is going to be killed for it.  Overconfident.  Smug.  Dishonorable.

"Mr. Pot seems to have quite the opinion of Mrs. Kettle."

WOULD YOU KINDLY BRING AN END TO YOUR INCESSANT UNDERMINING OF ME?


Gruumsh has no more to add.  His voice, now just a distant and uncharacteristically jovial giggle, echoes through Tung's head for some time.  Tung feels the bile in his stomach begin to churn.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2019, 08:10:49 AM »
Alright, out with it.

"Whatever do you mean, my champion?"

Let us, just this once, avoid the conversational pleasantries and get it over with.

"I have really no idea what you could be referring to, Eye of Gruumsh.  Does something trouble you?"

I have a jackal's head.

"Oh.  Yes, that.  You're... you're in quite a bind there, aren't you?"

Are you stifling laughter?

"No, no.  No.  Absolutely not.  I am just... *cough*... thinking of something humourous I heard from another god recently."

Name them.  You do not converse with other gods.  You consider them beneath you.

"You have to admit, this situation is a little amusing, Tung.  It is a good look for you.  It will certainly improve your rapport with the locals.  Mortals love dogs."

Look, we have slain our foe, yes?  Brutally.  Mutilated the corpse, smashed altars, ensured the safety of the town from goblin invasion and dealt a sizable blow to the mother of monsters.  I think I have earned your attention for a moment.

"You only had to ask.  This is a new side of you.  Normally I am used to a more tearful, apprehensive Tung.  This new assertive Tung is quite different.  You are actually truly upset!"

My friend was murdered by a cultist.

"Sticks and stones.  And such religious intolerance!  Did you learn that from your parents?  I certainly did not teach you-"

Stop.  Just stop.  All I want is for you to revive him.  I am certain that you can.

"I will not."

Can not or will not?

"I have stated it twice now.  I will not again."

Then provide us with the resource to have him revived.  Surely you can manage that?

"Manage?!  Watch that tongue of yours.  You are taking things just a little too far, pup.  Nurture the anger, let it drive you but never, for one moment, forget your place in the pecking order.  You, a lowly orc warrior on the brink of exhaustion, you have the gall to attempt to insult Gruumsh?"

That is not entirely what I meant.

"Oh no, no, we both know it is.  Now you lie.  Now you presume I cannot see you lie directly to me.  One-Ton, you will correct your tone and your behaviour at once or it will go very hard with you.  Am I understood?"

... yes.

"Now what were you doing?"

... I was being foolish.  I was upset.  You did not deserve to be spoken to like that.

"And what are you?"

Your servant.

"ETERNALLY"

*Tung's vacant eye socket begins to itch.  He feels a familiar emotion welling up and has to make a concetrated effort to hold back his tears.*

I am thankful for your guidance.  I am thankful for the treasures that our victories have brought us.  We will find our own way to generate the money.  I will do it in the name of Gruumsh.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2019, 01:04:38 PM »
Hail Gruumsh, strongest of all, knower of all, conqueror of all.

"Ah, you have a civil tongue in your head now?  It is about time.  After all I do for you and have done for your people.  Disgusting."

How long have you known my people, my lord?  Father said you came from the old times but was never very specific.

"Since their birth, young one, but the problem with oral tradition is it often loses detail in the telling.  Allow me to enlighten you.  I have known them since a band of oppressed travellers met on the plains one fateful morning and decided to band together as a tribe for mutual protection.  They have known me since the evening of that same day.  I know not how long ago that was, such trivially short spans of time are not worthy of my attention.  I believe that you mortals had not yet discovered that black powder substance that some mortals are so obsessed with.  And the world was colder, then.  Fewer creatures upon it.  Why must you all BREED so frequently?"

Propagation of the species, natural urges to leave a legacy... I suppose there are a few reasons.

"Yes, and all disgusting.  But not like you.  You who have taken so many lives but created none in return, your approach pleases me."

Not another boon.

"Oh, a minor one.  After all, you celebrate a great victory today, yes?  I see that the Lamashtu worshipper and her pets lay dead but a stone's throw from her own altar.  That, too, will upset the mother assuming she still has enough sense about her to even notice.  Yes, a small boon for now."

I feel... the same?

"You are not exerting yourself.  It will become apparent to you when the time is right."

I see.  Well... we found a wall made of coins in her chambers.  It appeared to be part of a trap or mechanism.  I do not really understand the distinction.

"They are the same, just that a mechanism kills you by making life too easy, making you slow and fat.  A trap kills you by burying foreign objects in your body. Both are to be avoided by your kind."

Hmm.  The wall was an illusion, I think?  Somebody said something like that.  It looked real enough and seemed solid.  No matter.  We found how to move it and passed through.  There was a very large door with an ornate lock on it.  It looked like a receptacle for a 7 pointed star.  I did not understand the significance of the icon but it was probably a reference to Lamashtu.  Everything down here is Lamashtu, goblins or Runelords.  You know, I still do not think I understand what a Runelord is.

"Do not trouble yourself with pondering that.  You will not discover one.  If you had, you would already be dead."

Like the tarrasque you told me about?

"Somebody has been paying attention.  No, not like the tarrasque.  Although to be eaten alive would be quite the poetic end to your career.  Goodness, what fun that would be to watch.  And I know you enjoy poetry, yes?  I wonder when the beast is next due to awaken..."

Pardon?

"Oh, nothing.  Just thinking aloud.  Tell me, what year is it?"

I do not know.

"Hmm.  Pity."

There were strange things down there.  Another torture room.  Sabina doesn't seem to think it was for torture but I think it was.  I think she just wanted to feel okay about taking the knives in there.  I do not think I care about what she does with any items down here, there is a bad energy all around, stealing will make no great cosmic difference.

Incidentally my lord, what was behind that locked door?  We did not find any seven pointed keys.

"When will you learn that I have no intention of solving your problems for you?  Would you really like that, for me to hold your hand throughout your entire life, make your decisions, decide your right from your wrong, deprive you of any illusion of choice or free will?  Tung, that sounds almost like slavery to me.  Like a self-imposed prison of philosophy."

I...

...

"Sometimes I wonder if leaving you at the circus would have been the best thing for you.  For a bararian your lack of confidence and desire for rigid certainty are very poor traits."

My charging headlong into conflict got Jiro killed.

"Oh, you blame yourself?  Good. Take responsibility for one less ELF.  After all, had you truly lived up to your potential and fought her head on, why, he would surely be among the living now.  It is obvious to anybody with sense."

Please.  Please do not do this.  We are healing him.

"You are healing death?  HA!  No, fool, you are CHEATING death.  Do you not expect to pay a price for that?  'tis a dangerous little endeavour you embark upon, interfering with the natural order.  Why, do you suppose, is it that necromancy is such a universally despised concept?  Still plenty of time to reconsider, leave him dead, let him travel to his meek little paradise.  Why, he might even see his wife again.  And here you were contemplating taking him back into a life of conflict.  How cruel.  How bereft of tact you are."

It is what he would want.

"He was not strong enough to survive and you think he would desire a second attempt to play the hero.  You think that the conflict to follow will become easier to resolve?  That foes will become weaker?  You are more of a fool than I first thought.  He is destined to die again.  BOUND.  You are certain to lose him again.  I cannot make this any more clear.  But no, please, defy me.  Prove you know better.  When you fail and you most certainly will, do not speak his name unto me again.  Do not mention him.  I tire of your insistence that he added anything of value to the world."

... he did.

"I have heard enough.  Speak of fighting.  Speak of blood.  Cleanse my troubled mind of this ELF-talk."

A crab.  We fought a crab.  It made its home in a gold helmet.  We think it may be valuable for research purposes and are taking it to the next city where they may be able to give us a fair price.

"You are welcome.  I do not require thanks, not that you bothered to offer any."

For...

"Do you seriously believe that crabs in solid gold giant-sized helmets exist in nature?  Tung, how would such a creature enter a temple?  What would it eat?  Where would it find a helmet like that and how would it kill the occupant or retrieve the helmet before whatever DID kill the occupant took it?  And even then, what warrior would wear a solid gold helmet, so heavy and soft?  Tung, stupid Tung, you saw fit to challenge me?  Did you not order, nay, DEMAND that Gruumsh provide you with the necessary resources to perform a resurrection ritual?"

You manifested a crab?

"Think about it, young one.  Any other god would have created a pile of treasure, made a magical item, loaned you the service of an altruistic priest.  You would have had your prize and learned nothing other than to beg and to want, there would have been no value, no appreciation.  When Gruumsh provides you with a time of plenty it is in the form of battle!  You had to SLAY your treasure to earn it, do you not see?"

That... is a valid point.

...

Thank you.

"Do not ever test me again."

I will not.  Thank you, my lord.


*In the depths of an unpleasant, dry and lifeless plane, a tremendous humanoid sits and ponders.  He watches through a green eye crackling with energy, he looks upon a more vibrant plane.  He carefully considers the facial expression and mood of another, much like him but far smaller.  There is nothing to read in that open, trusting face.  The oaf believes him entirely.*
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2019, 08:03:29 AM »
Hail Gruumsh, strongest of all, knower of all, conqueror of all.

"Well, well, well.  Haven't we been busy?"

Every day is a gift to be savoured.  Wasted time is wasted life and the pursuit of a productive existence is noble.  But you have something in mind?

"He lives.  You have resurrected the dead, Tung, or at least have demanded that another perform the task for you.  Tell me, why do you feel appropriate to defy fate?  To rob another of his place at his god's side, of his family in the afterlife, of his eternal reward?"

The choice to return was his as much as ours.  I trust he felt no obligation to return when called.  But then, I do not know what happens when we die.

Gruumsh... what is death like?

"You live in eternal pursuit of the deaths of others, innocents and antagonists alike yet you only now choose to ask this question.  Only now after one brush too many for your liking, is that it?  That you consider Gruumsh callous is laughable.  But no, insensitive Tung, I will not withhold this information from you.  Please, ask me your questions."

Will it be painful?

"It depends on how it happens.  Almost certainly.  For many it is the worst pain they will ever experience.  For the truly lucky, they either pass in their sleep or their minds break from the agony before the moment of passing, rendering them unable to notice."

Is there an afterlife?  Will my spirit endure?

"Remain faithful and yes, there is a privileged place upon holy ground waiting for you.  Defy your faith, shun your heritage and I cannot say."

But I have committed terrible deeds throughout life.  What of them?

"What indeed?  Terrible is relative to those who would pass judgement upon you, Tung.  Certainly were you the worshipper of a valourous, saintly sort of god then yes, you would already be quite doomed.  Do not forget that you worship a celebrated god of pain and war, my child.  Whilst yes, there is room for vast improvement in your conduct, you have not strayed far enough from the path yet to warrant such worry."

I have tried my hardest to serve you completely, my lord.

"Effort is not enough.  Without results, good intentions mean nothing."

I see...

I sent Lursa's axe along for analysis.

"The only pureblood you have met in months and you finally learned her name?  I am sure she would be thrilled."

It generated a lot of excitement, as did the gold helmet.  Unfortunately I feared we would not receive adequate compensation for a gold helmet in Sandpoint.  I also had a citizen assist me with some words.

"Yes, I saw your letter.  Tung, you do realise that a barbarian has no need of a last will and testament?"

Oh?

"Traditionally your weapon is bequeathed directly to the opponent who slew you, preferably bequeathed directly into their skull.  Anything else becomes the property of scavengers, similar to how you came to obtain that belt of yours."

If nothing else, I wished to state that I have no intentions of being resurrected, should I die and that decision be made.

"You don't wish to return to battle?  Coward."

I do not wish to leave your side should I earn a place there.  If I do not qualify, my soul is not worthy of a second chance and I will gladly accept my fate.

"A coward and a sycophant.  You know better than to attempt flattery.  You are saying what you think I wish to hear.  Or are you truly stating, please do correct me if I am wrong, that should you be condemned to a demon-haunted pit of filth, you have so little self-esteem now that you would simply lie down and accept that you had earned your torment?"

Who am I to judge myself?

"You retain your humility at least.  You've been thinking again, haven't you?  I can always tell."

Lots of time to think.  Lots to think about.  It has been a trying month, Gruumsh.  I have witnessed more death than I think I ever have and all because of goblins.

"That wrath portal probably played a part.  But let me not distract you from another racist tirade."

I have no further to say on the matter of goblins.

"Liar."

We chartered a boat.  The captain seemed upset despite having clearly been told that we were bringing cargo aboard.  No matter, he was paid for his efforts.  Paid too well, I thought.

"When did you learn the value of money?  Until recently your currency was blood."

When it becomes so abundant, you start to take an interest.  We have enough money now to buy a small town's worth of property.  We could be doing so much good with this money.

"And yet you resurrected a waste of flesh."

And purchased many powerful enchantments.

"I approve of this.  You certainly need all the assistance you get on your misguided quest to even consider following in your parents' shadow."

Besides, Jiro was not a waste of flesh.  He died to protect me.

"Justify a poor tactical choice however you'd like.  I thought you respected his intellect.  You are a poor judge of character."

He is alive now.  The process was very confusing.

"I note that you didn't join in with the clapping of hands and the singing?"

Praying to another god?  Of course not, you would have harmed me.

"Clever boy."

They would not have welcomed my contribution, I am sure.  I was happy to observe.  Clerics are very powerful, aren't they?  What were your clerics like?

"Not like that.  In the old days the occasional priest would call upon me for favours.  To bolster their strength, mostly.  Tung, becoming a conduit to the divine is not something that comes easily to your race; realise that.  Prayers to me are seldom answered and favour is more infrequent still.  My priests tend to pray in blood and offerings.  If it pleases you to do so, you could consider yourself a priest of Gruumsh I suppose.  Maybe a paladin, reinforce those foolish notions of virtue you seem to have developed?"

I am a barbarian.

"Do not forget that.  It pleases me to know that your head is not entirely in the clouds."

Jiro has rejoined the group.  We did a little shopping, saw the city.  A local museum paid us handsomely for the helmet.  I think Sabina lied about it.  I think Sabina isn't a good person.  What does Gruumsh think?

"Gruumsh is literally incapable of caring less."

Then she must not be good or you would be telling me to kill her.

"Ah, there's that logic again.  Do not second guess me.  Listen and obey.  You place is not to think, do you not understand this yet?"

Hmm.

"And while on the subject of thinking, why are you talking to that ELF about the afterlife?"

Curiosity is only natural.

"Not for your kind."

I want to learn more about this world.  I want to interact with it in ways that don't involve killing things.  Maybe even create something, leave a lasting legacy.

"You're already attempting, ineffectually, to spread my word.  What more do you hope to achieve?"

I want to write.  I want to tell our story.

"HA!"

It is not so ridiculous!  I have already begun to learn...

"Just what the world needs, more self-indulgent whimpering POETRY.  ELF talk, Tung, that's what poetry is!  And it WOULD be poetry, I know your mind all too well.  But yes, learn your words.  Perhaps when faced with a dire fate in the future, you could turn your foe aside with an impassioned speech?  With heartfelt, tearful oration?  I am sure that with your lack of grace, your inability to communicate and your unfortunate dental affliction-"

Yes.  You have made your point.  It would still be useful to be able to write.

"You time would be better spent indulging in physical pursuits.  Learn to torture, Tung.  Still a creative way to express yourself, yes?  Is that not a compromise?"

Don't like torture.

"Of course you don't.  That slave brand still itches, I assume?"

Not a slave.  Performer.  Don't want to talk about that.

"Ever the cooperative conversationalist.  Wasn't that a creative pursuit?  Didn't 'performing' bring joy to hundreds, One-Ton?"

DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

"My word, how irritable.

Oh, one more thing, Tung.  Inconsequential, really.  That ELF of yours?"


What.  What about him now?

"You can tell him from me, tell him to his face, that if he ever attempts to have you question your faith again he will learn exactly how much Gruumsh wishes to see him dead, yes?"

I... won't.

"Hmm.  You would prefer that my wrath came as a surprise, perhaps?  Or are you too much of a coward to dare cause offense?  Tung, it is a lonely world indeed without any friends and never forget, Gruumsh is the oldest and truest friend you have.  Do not test this relationship."

You won't kill him.

"You challenge me?  What a thoroughly stupid notion, One-Ton.  We shall see how long your nerve holds in time."
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A tense exchange
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2019, 07:48:56 PM »
Tung meditates in his room.  This is normally a peaceful time but not now.  He is on the verge of something terrible and he doesn't know what.

"Imbecile."

Tung's eye socket begins to burn.  He drifts quickly to sleep.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?