Federation-Apocalypse Session 178a – The Councils of Holmes

Angkor Wat, the front side of the main complex...

No it's NOT named after you! Get that ego under control why don't you?

With the platypus trading expedition departing early tomorrow morning, it would be their last day in Cyrweld for a bit…

Kevin was spending the last day in port at the moment sorting things out with a young lady, getting a local mansion (since he’d decided to keep up a presence in Cyrweld), seeing if the wolf-matron has reached a decision or wanted to talk (or if the local council of nobles would want to), and helping repair and crew Raphael’s ships in case he figured out how to open the door and wanted to come along.

Raphael decided to go looking for the door opener… An expedition with a 99% chance of pirate attack sounded entertaining and he’d always loved a puzzle!

Kevin left that more or less up to Raphael and Marty. Raphael was the diviner and detective work really wasn’t his thing! He was in charge of random speculation and of vast bursts of raw power!

Raphael went to check the captain’s cabin on the biggest ship first. It certainly seemed the most likely place! Even if it wasn’t there, there might be some clues… Presuming that it hadn’t been carried into the city and either lost of stowed away as Kevin suspected.

If it had, he might have to resort to a major locating spell, but he wanted to hold off on that for a bit. Kevin’s reckless spellcasting attracted quite enough attention already!

Kevin, still sulking a bit for being blamed for tipping the universe, made a few sarcastic comments about “giant flares of techno-magic tipping the world towards technology” – but, while the idea of “techno” as a type of magic was kind of interesting (and presumably existed somewhere) he had other things to do at the moment – such as searching for the old captain’s log, diary, shopping lists, unpaid bills, and where he kept his gloves.

Still… Techno-magic. Could you shove portions of the manifold past the industrial revolution and straight into the information age? That might be worth looking into later on!

There was indeed a captain’s log, along with cargo manifests, crew listings, and a number of balance sheets that looked like they were in the process of being consolidated when disaster had struck… The gloves were on a shelf in the closet above the boots and next to a hat. It looked like the man had been a bit of a neat freak.

Raphael checked the glove box first for tradition’s sake – although he had to wonder just where that ancient tradition had come from in the first place. Still, an organized guy was useful; he would have put it in a safe place rather than leaving it laying around.

Still, there didn’t seem to be any reasonable candidate-items around.

He tried a history divination to scan through the last couple of days the captain had actually been in his cabin…

It looks like the pirates had gotten back the “previous” day from a major haul. Casualties were high from an unexpected side trip into some ancient ruins the captain had decided to investigate. They had found the ruins to be pretty much picked clean and were about to call it quits when they stumbled upon the eggs. Bringing the eggs with them, they ended up fighting a monster most of the way back to the cove, but figured they had lost it in the midst of a supernatural fog near the bogs to the North. Returning to the cove, they began to unload their spoils as the captain began tallying the losses, spoils, and expenses. As he was finishing the tally of the dead and preparing to write letters to the families of the lost, a commotion broke out in the docks. The captain ran to look out the window – and saw something that horrified him. He’ run back to his desk, grabbed a key, a book, a cloak, and a ring of some silvery metal nearly a foot in diameter and two inches thick. With that in hand, he ran out the door in a hurry while wrapping the cloak around himself.

Well bother! Was it the ring, the key, or the book? Or maybe even the cloak or something the man had in a hidden pocket?

Huh. He knew what conclusion Kevin would jump to; he’d pick the ring, just because keys and books and cloaks had other functions.

Meanwhile, Kevin was intercepted by a courier in the streets with a summons to the Council of Nobles.

Well, why not? Nothing else was too urgent today.

The Council of Nobles met in a rather small – yet ostentatious – house with a coat of arms displayed prominently in a number of locations. What really stood out about the place was the air of concentrated money and power; the large gardens around the house obviously required a sizeable and skilled staff to maintain, the servants were almost invisible, yet ever-present, there were a set of guards wearing red armor who quietly blended into the background, and there was a rather large fountain that seemed to be enchanted to play music by controlling the flow and path of the water – and a specialist musician playing it.

Kevin was escorted through the – rather empty – house and to a small conference room off the main hallway. There he found a number of the heads of the various Clans seated at the table with a rather large chair seated at the elevated portion of the table opposite the door. In that chair was a rather forgettable-looking bear.

He was presented with a selection of drinks by a servant that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

(Bear) “Ah, you must be the one everyone is talking about. I am Prince Salison. Pleased to meet you. I am sure you have met some of the others here in the room, but let us continue with the introductions anyway.”

There were many introductions. Kevin, of course, introduced himself in the Angkor identity – but did throw in the “Warden of the Marches” title.

(Salison) It is rare for us to get a visitor to our fair city with such power and wealth. I have heard tale of some of your deeds since arrival and have found myself quite impressed. Not since the arrival of the Great Nine-Tails has one of such power as yourself shown up. Luckily she arrived during our darkest hour in a tale we all know quite well, but I have to say some of the nobles wonder what brings you here and if your arrival portends another similar near disaster. While I believe this sort of omen to be utter nonsense, I fear the nobles are a bit superstitions about these things and would like assurances on your intent.

(Kevin) “Hm. Well, I came here for two reasons – for a vacation and to allow the various people across the worlds who wished to speak with me to catch up and do so. Your city is a pleasant place, so I may establish an aspect here for a long time – but that should present no danger to your realm; the conflicts I play a part in are generally not resolvable by violence – and where they are, it is not likely to occur in this realm. Your realm is interesting, enjoyable, and pleasant – but not pivotal in the War of Souls.”

(Salison) “The War of Souls? I imagine this is a war that has been raging across the Great Sea? I must also confess to not being familiar with the term “Aspect” in this context. I will admit that I am pleased you have chosen our city to come relax in and sample the local pleasures. I trust you’ve found things to your satisfaction.”

Kevin checked with the local Thralls – but, as expected, the “Great Sea” was only a reference to one of the oceans around this subcontinent, not to the High Seas realm.

(Kevin) “Ah. No, the War of Souls crosses many universes. As far as an “Aspect” goes, I will simply be maintaining a portion of my existence here, as I do in several realms.”

(Salison, looking only slightly surprised) “I’ve heard tales of other universes before, considering the sheer number of traders we get here in our fair city, it’s only natural. However, the idea that one can leave a portion of their existence behind is fantastical to say the least. Tell me, by chance are you one of the Creators? If so, please forgive us for not showing the proper hospitality to begin with.”

(Kevin) “Oh, I didn’t have anything to do with creating your universe! Mine tend to be more specialized. Creating universes really isn’t that tricky anyway; it’s just holding them stable that takes a lot of power.”

That led to a lot of murmuring amongst the nobles.

(Salison) “Interesting, then it seems we have a most rare guest indeed in our fair city. And that you should take it upon yourself to assist us with our bandit problem, helping the Rabbits with their internal disputes, and helping the Platypi with their… financial difficulties is most generous of you.”

(Kevin) “I hope I haven’t upset people… Those were rather minor interventions.”

(Salison) “Not at all, although I must admit you’ve concerned a number of people with the amount of wealth and power you’ve shown. As I said before, the last time someone with similar power showed up, our city was quickly under siege and receiving visits from near mythical heroines.”

(Kevin) “Well, hopefully that will not happen. I am not, however, a prophet; my talents lie in other areas. If something like that does happen because of my presence – or while I am here in any case – I will deploy my resources to fix or prevent it.”

(Salison, turning to Marty – a slightly later arrival) “And what about you Martin of Clan McCaw? Are you also a Creator from another place come to visit our fair city or have you come for more mundane reasons?”

(Marty) “I’m less experienced in the Creator game than Angkor, but I came for the same reasons. Besides, he likes what I can do with a knife.”

(Salison) “Fair enough. Now the Commander of the City Guard has requested I ask this, although I think it in bad taste: could you give us an explanation about the nature of those children that have been attending to you and even participating in your battles? He tells me that his mages are quite upset over what “implications” of what they see, although I am not sure I understand what he is talking about.”

(Kevin) “It’s simple enough: youngsters who opt to enter my service are granted a variety of powers and enhancements, including immunity to aging and resurrection in Kadia if they’re killed. They remain bound to my service until they grow into those powers, a process which will require several centuries. Of course, after that, they may continue to enjoy those powers and benefits until they tire of their lives and wish to reincarnate and find new challenges.”

(Salison) “Interesting, well I am sure that will keep the mages and scholars busy for quite some time, but that isn’t my problem I think. Now, it is probably rude of us as hosts to keep you here as we pester you with questions. Unless the nobles have any absolutely urgent questions to ask, I would say you are free to return to your business.”

Well, there didn’t seem to be any further questions – although it was obvious that there would be a heated discussion going on as soon as they left the room.

Marty went to check on Raphael and see what he’d found. His last check-in had said that he was currently investigating a bar… He’d probably get a drink too – well, OK, FIRST.

Kevin wandered off to try and impress that lioness-girl he had his eye on… Would his new – and wildly enthusiastic about him – panther-girl concubines be a plus or a minus in her eyes? She already knew that he kept a harem of course, but would the “he’s great!” report from them balance out the “too many girls already” factor? Would the inevitable touch of jealousy induce her to compete or to step back? Would the report of the Thrall-powers attract her?

Hm… Judging by the local standards, the most likely attitude would be dismissive as long as he was spending time with her; they were only slave-girls, and the only important part of that relationship in her eyes would be the report on how much fun he was.

Well, that and how they – and she – were treated. Of course, by the local standards, he was already acting most extravagantly. Not only was he polite and obliging, but he was providing slaves, valuable presents, and a potential life of luxury… The tour of the new estate he’d just purchased and staffed as a “local household” said quite a lot about THAT.

The young lady did see a downside that Kevin was more-or-less blind to – but it was pretty standard for wolf-types; he’d be very possessive / protective once she was “his” – but he would tend to provide everything that was needed. That wasn’t too bad… Wealth, power, servants, and luxury as a pampered consort in a term-marriage was an excellent prospect.

She wasn’t so sure about this “Thralldom” thing though. Immortality and the other benefits were pretty attractive; but handing over her will like that… Still, it was temporary, and it looked like the “price” would just be a stint being his consort even if it wasn’t quite a term-marriage. If she was going to be doing that anyway… well, there was no rush about deciding on Thralldom.

It took her a few minutes to realize that – in skipping over to consider THAT decision – she’d pretty much made up her mind on the “consort” part.

She sealed that part of the deal towards the end of the tour.

After his divination-trance was over, Raphael had opted to go with some mundane detective work – counting the bodies to see how many had escaped, checking to see if the Captain’s body was among the fallen, and then – since he was NOT amongst the dead – checking the ships log for clues as to places he might have gone.

Comparing the crew list against the thralls’ count showed a total of three bodies missing. It didn’t take long to find that the three missing were the captain, the cook, and the supplies officer.

Reviewing the log showed a few passing references to a family in the city, but it seemed like he took care to avoid writing down anything that might tie them to himself. He did mention a tavern his crew frequented a lot in town and that his supplies officer had gone to see “Gustav” shortly before the attack.

Hm… It hadn’t been THAT long ago. It looked like… the lower classes tended to age rapidly, the middle class and nobles tended to age at 20th century rates, and the truly powerful could be nigh immortal. This tendency was most exaggerated with the foxes; one-tails typically didn’t make it to forty, common 3-5 tailed foxes had fairly normal life expectancies, and the near mythical nine-tails were nigh immortal.

Raphael determined that the tavern mentioned was still in business and headed for it. Maybe he could pick up some additional clues and information there!

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