Epic - Book One: The Epic of Ean

by treave
Chapter One: Humble Beginnings
Chapter 1.1: To The Beginning
Chapter 1.2: A Small Step
Chapter 1.3: The First Power
Chapter 1.4: Sargon's Ambition
Chapter 1.5: The Battle for Memphis
Chapter 1.6: Tendrils in the Desert
Chapter 1.7: Memphis Falls
Chapter 1.8: Return to Sumeria
Chapter 1.9: A Hand for Trust
Chapter 1.10: At the Walls of Akkad
Chapter 1.11: Prince's Folly
Chapter 1.12: Dam If You Do
Chapter 1.13: The Flood of Akkad
Interlude: Ean of the Akkadian Empire (circa 2300 B.C.)
Chapter Two: Lord of Sumeria
Chapter 2.1: King
Chapter 2.2: Ten Years Later
Chapter 2.3: The Empty City
Chapter 2.4: Tuwanu of the Dead
Chapter 2.5: Battle Plans
Chapter 2.6: Cautious Commander
Chapter 2.7: Misstep
Chapter 2.8: Sumeria Again
Interlude: Ean, Sumerian Wanderer (circa 2000 B.C.)
Chapter Three: The Sands of Egypt
Chapter 3.1: End of the Old Kingdom
Intermission: The Gieloth Cult
Chapter 3.2: Before Heliopolis
Chapter 3.3: Heliopolis - The Night Before the Storm
Chapter 3.4: Beneath the Temple
Chapter 3.5: Fight in the Dark
Chapter 3.6: Incubator
Chapter 3.7: Smothered Flames
Chapter 3.8: Deadly Herbivores
Chapter 3.9: The Sceptre of Ra
Chapter 3.10: Sekhenun's End
Chapter 3.11: Learning
Chapter 3.12: The World is Your Oyster
Chapter 3.13: Egypt Aflame
Chapter 3.14: A Dark Proposal
Chapter 3.15: Astarth's Game
Chapter 3.16: Babylon Strikes
Chapter 3.17: Fortress Tjaru
Chapter 3.18: The Night Before Battle
Chapter 3.19: Solitary Scout
Chapter 3.20: Deadly Desert Deathmatch
Chapter 3.21: Battle for Tjaru
Chapter 3.22: Hold the Wall
Chapter 3.23: Dawn of the Middle Kingdom
Chapter Four: Search for Power
Chapter 4.1: Setting Sail
Chapter 4.2: Aphrodite
Chapter 4.3: Vagaries of the Love Priestess
Chapter 4.4: The Palace of Knossos
Chapter 4.5: The Love Potion
Chapter 4.6: A Tangled Web
Chapter 4.7: The Labyrinth of the Minotaur
Chapter 4.8: Power
Chapter 4.9: Daedalus's Tower
Chapter 4.10: Escape from Knossos
Chapter 4.11: Greece at War
Chapter 4.12: Mehrune's Whereabouts
Interlude: Ean, Reawakened Immortal (circa 1900 B.C.)
Chapter Five: The God-King's Ambitions
Chapter 5.1: A Tiny Little Hunger
Chapter 5.2: Curse and Blessing
Chapter 5.3: The Marks
Chapter 5.4: Mehlu
Chapter 5.5: Gudersu and the Gutians
Chapter 5.6: Gamilsin
Chapter 5.7: East of Babylon
Chapter 5.8: Contingency Plan
Chapter 5.9: Nusku
Chapter 5.10: The Next Step
Chapter 5.11: Revolution
Chapter 5.12: Anbar-Shi
Chapter 5.13: The Besieged Border Fort
Chapter 5.14: Terror in Tjaru
Chapter 5.15: Invade the Delta
Chapter 5.16: Lying in Wait
Chapter 5.17: In the Shadow of Olympus
Chapter 5.18: Peak
Chapter 5.19: Thunderstruck
Chapter 5.20a: Tea-Time With Zeus
Chapter 5.20b: Ruin of Olympus
Chapter 5.21: Cataclysm
Interlude: After the Cataclysm
Chapter Six: The Changing World
Chapter 6.1: What Happens Next
Chapter 6.2: Foundation of Empire
Chapter 6.3: Rendezvous in Athens
Intermission: Terasphagos (~1890 B.C. / 5 A.C.)
Chapter 6.4: The Gutian Dilemma
Chapter 6.5: The Hidden Hand
Chapter 6.6: Ten Years to the Founding
Chapter 6.7: Hattusa Kneels
Chapter 6.8: The Rift Incursion
Intermission: The Empire (30 A.C.)
Chapter 6.9: Miasma Maze
Chapter 6.10: Lodestone and the Rift
Chapter 6.11: The Second Terasphagos Incursion
Chapter 6.12: Son of a Breach
Chapter 6.13: The Great Wall of Korinthos
Chapter 6.14: Purple Rift
Chapter 6.15: A Void Full of Balls
Chapter 6.16: Sphere Diplomacy
Chapter 6.17: Playtime
Chapter 6.18: Home is Where the Heart is http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?posts/2331315
Interlude: Escape
Chapter Seven: Pretenders to the Empire
Chapter 7.1: Prelude to a Storm
Intermission: State of the Empire (~3rd Millennium)
Chapter 7.2: Diogenes Camna
Chapter 7.3: Death, Banquets and the Idea of Love
Chapter 7.4: Surfacing Memories
Chapter 7.5: Murderous Rat, Cunning Snake
Chapter 7.6: House Arrest
Chapter 7.7: Spinning a Web
Chapter 7.8: Travel Plans
Chapter 7.9: Scheming in Crete
Chapter 7.10: Guns and Glory
Chapter 7.11: Cold Winds of Change
Chapter 7.12: Initiation Rites
Chapter 7.13: Into the Darkness
Chapter 7.14: The Wolf's Question
Chapter 7.15: The Wolf's Answer
Chapter 7.16: Shadow on the Steppe
Chapter 7.17: Fort Euphraxes
Chapter 7.18: Silent Fort
Chapter 7.19: Ambush, Campfire and the Young Soldier
Chapter 7.20: Massacre at Fort Euphraxes
Chapter 7.21: Ban's Butchery
Chapter 7.22: The Cursed Sword
Chapter 7.23: Diogenes the Hero
Interlude: Awakening
Chapter Eight: The Divine Throne
Chapter 8.1: The More Things Change
Chapter 8.2: The Lady of the Martyrs
Chapter 8.3: Meeting the Band
Chapter 8.4: First Aid
Chapter 8.5: The Sacred Tree
Chapter 8.6: The Tree of Life
Chapter 8.7: Winds of Omen
Chapter 8.8: The Clear Blue Sky
Epilogue: Flowers of Inanna
Another Epilogue: Somewhere in the multiverse...

Chapter One: Humble Beginnings

Chapter 1.1: To The Beginning

Chapter I: To The Beginning

The pain recedes, and you begin to gather your thoughts.

You are a member of the royal guard serving King Sargon of Akkad. Your earliest memories are of the dusty streets of Kish. As a street urchin, you cultivated a talent for fighting in brawls. You may not have been the strongest, but you certainly were the quickest, and sometimes the dirtiest. You never thought that you would ever join the army, but you did.

King Sargon had a lust for war, and conscription for his army was constant. Short as life may be in the army, at least life there kept you fully fed. However, your elevation to the king’s personal troops barely a year later was not due to your skill and bravery in combat, though you demonstrated no shortage of those. Instead, you rescued him from the attentions of a massive boar on one of his hunts near the Tigris. A daring bait, a cunning trap, and many lucky spear jabs later, you had become – temporarily - one of the king’s favored. It was fortunate that your promotion was not begrudged by that of your fellow soldiers; the boar fed them well for a week.

It was soon after the hunt that reports of a fallen star came in from a village north of Uruk. Apparently, the star had been predicted by some dusty ancestral royal stone carving to fall during the time of King Sargon’s reign. Whosoever was found worthy of the star would be bestowed eternal glory by Enlil himself, who had sent the star to earth to honour the great mortal kings. The king, ever so eager to claim divine favour, sent a retinue of his royal guard along with his chief astrologer. Twenty of you departed from Akkad. The astrologer and his apprentice kept to themselves, poring and muttering over strange numbers that you did not understand.

And so off you went.

The village proved hospitable enough, and the maidens willing. On the next day, you set forth with five of your brothers-in-arms, the astrologer, and his apprentice to investigate the fallen star. As you crested the grassy hill, you beheld the smouldering crater before you…

You shake your head. You saw something in that crater, but are unable to recall it. The images flit around the edges of your mind, refusing to be drawn into focus. You can only remember a darkness that moved as if it were alive, and screams…

Well, they certainly screamed well enough.
Too bad their bodies were a bit too fragile for our size, eh?
You’re a bad joker, mate.

You can’t help but laugh. It seems as if you’re hearing things.

Well of course you are, you violent monkey.

You close your eyes. You count to three, three being the only number you can count to, and you open them, and you stare at the crater. There is nothing there now.

There wouldn’t be.
Yeah, we moved into you, didn’t we?
We’re going to try and make you into a… kkk kkzzh masterpiece.

Your mouth is dry. For the first time since you’ve woken up, you open your mouth to speak.

Don’t bother understanding. It’s clear you are no mindless brute but you won’t understand what we are… yet.
I’d really have preferred that you were a more aristocratic figure – you know, charming, good with a sword.

“Well, I am good with a sword.” There was more than one voice. Are they demons? Or are you going mad?

A bit lacking on the charm, and don’t talk back. I bet we could train and pretty you up. Demons wouldn’t do that to you now, would they?
Anyway, it’s a bit tiring to be exhausting our speech so soon, so we’re just going to take a little break.
But don’t feel lonely, we’ll be back. After all, we are going to be spending the rest of eternity together…

The voices subside, and you sigh. It seems like this is going to become a pretty bad week.

You are an immortal now. That much is not in dispute. You will never age; you will never die. You will regenerate from the worst of wounds. Even utter and total cremation will not stop your ashes from reforming… eventually.

In addition, you are slowly discovering new abilities you can do with your undying body. Your senses are sharpened - you can hear a pin-drop a metre away. You can rattle tiny objects with your mind. You can will your skin to become a shade darker. You can give your nose an extra pointiness to it. You can create tiny little sparks with which to singe your enemies, or cool them down with a gentle breeze. All of these powers, and more, are yours to command and develop.

The only drawback? Living with a host of voices in your head. Sometimes they give good advice, sometimes bad. And you are not able to act without their consensus. Does that make you a puppet? Maybe. Probably. But the voices do not appear to force you to decide except at critical junctures, so you might think of it as kindly counsel from a gathering of priests at council.

Still, you are immortal now. And as one, you will find your adventures spanning from the fertile plains of Mesopotamia to the far flung reaches of the stars themselves… should you develop your powers correctly. You have the potential to shape cultures and empires, and advance the state of humanity; or to bring it all down and enslave nations with necromancy. Of course, you aren't the only immortal around, and even mortals can be more ingenious than you give them credit for at times...

And who knows? At the end of the universe, you might even find the answers as to why you have been saddled with all this weirdness…


Proper choice-making update incoming, so basically you guys are going to be the voices, and this is going to be a pretty high-powered campaign. Think God-Emperor of Mankind, and you have an idea of what the guy can rise to become. You can't die, but make the wrong choices, and you can miss entire centuries at a go, missing out on the chance to influence humanity's development.

Chapter 1.2: A Small Step

Chapter 1.2: A Small Step

The voices have really gone silent.

Taking a deep breath, you get off your back and stand up. There is no more pain – you feel more alive than you have ever felt before. Everything seems clearer and sharper. Your physical condition seems to be better than it ever was. Still, you can’t afford to waste any more time on wondering about yourself. You look around the area, trying to see what has happened to the others that came with you. It does not take you long to find them. Your brothers-in-arms are dead. You are pretty sure of that, seeing as their limbs and heads are now located quite far apart. The astrologer appears to have met the same fate.

“Where is the apprentice?” you wonder.

A second later, your question is answered. A slight shriek is heard from behind you. Wasting no time, you turn around swiftly, drawing your sword and preparing for combat in one fluid move. The apprentice lies sprawled before you, his skin even paler than usual. Even though he was about your age, you had not spoken to him before this throughout the trip, as he had seemed more inclined to keep to his numbers and charts together with his master.

He looks up at you, his eyes dark and wet. Trembling, he asks a question.

“Do you hear them too?”

At that moment, a figure climbs up over the hill and waves at you. Both you and the apprentice turn to look.

“Hey. Hey!”

A tanned youth who does not look much older than yourself sprints down to meet you.

“There’s someone alive after all! I was looking for my sheep and then I came upon this crater and then you guys came banging up the hill in your armor and shields and then something happened… and you were all dead.” without pausing to catch his breath, he rattled off his summary of events. “Not all of us, it seems,” you reply. “Does anyone know what happened, exactly?”

As the sole military figure left, you decide to take a more commanding tone. The apprentice scrambles to his knees and shakes his head, before starting to mutter to himself. The shepherd just grins at you, seemingly relieved just to see someone that wasn’t scattered all over the field.

“No, not really. It seems like I’m getting someone speaking to me in my head, though. I’m sure I’m just unsettled after seeing all… that.” He gestures around at the corpses.

You narrow your eyes. It seems like you are not the only one to hear the voices. As if on cue, you hear the muttering start up again.It looks like the voices are waking… along with the darkness, again flitting along the edges of your mind’s eye.

“So, what are you going to do?” you ask the shepherd.

“I still haven’t found my sheep, for one. I’ll probably be on my way in a while. Do you need me to guide you back to the village?”

What an optimistic and cheerful guy. You turn to the apprentice.
“I’ll be fine… just let me rest for a while. I’ll go back to the village.” he murmurs.

You close your eyes. The muttering is getting louder. You decide on your next course of action…


A. You attack without any warning. You can take them. The shepherd looks strong but he is unarmed, and you are confident of dispatching him in one blow. The apprentice can be dealt with easily. No one must know of what happened here. You can blame the failure of the mission on them later.

B. You try to persuade them to not tell anyone the full truth of what they’ve heard and seen here, particularly about the voices. Having had the pleasure of being in the king’s presence before this, you know he will not take kindly to any survivors returning empty-handed. You request the apprentice to concoct a suitable, astrologically-flavored tale for the king as an excuse. Hopefully your lie is not exposed.

C. You ask the shepherd to accompany you and the apprentice to testify to the king about the truth of the events that happened, including the voices that now chatter in your head. King Sargon may be cruel and unyielding, but he is also known to be just. Surely he will understand the situation and allow you a reprieve.

D. You flee into the wilderness. You do not fancy returning to the king at all, and something about the fallen star has changed you. You do not know what, but you feel as if the answers lie elsewhere. Where your path leads you after this is up to the gods.

(I will try to execute any of the choices made to maximum efficiency. You can also suggest alternate choices to be considered, if you want, and if any information is unclear there's the option of asking me to describe it in further detail. Trying not to pack too much detail into the update itself, though I've fleshed out large amounts of the events.)

Chapter 1.3: The First Power

Chapter 1.3: The First Power

Trust me, it's better to make friends than enemies right now.
Better to keep an eye on them, eh?

"You are sure of this?" you think.

Well, unless you want to try killing them?
I'm afraid the nays have it on that one, brother.


You listen intently to the voices dispensing their nuggets of wisdom. That last one sounded a bit iffy, though. It appears as if they have reached a consensus, and you are struck with a sudden compulsion to obey. Grinding your teeth, you wonder if this will be your fate for the rest of your life; still, you have seen firsthand the ‘treatment’ that madmen receive from the priests. The voices are right. You should not speak of them.

The shepherd is looking at you expectantly, waiting for an answer.

“We’ll have to submit a report to the king. However, His Majesty sent us out here to obtain the favour of the gods, and if we are to return with tales of dead soldiers and astrologers he will not be happy. Do you have any suggestions… uh…” Pausing, you look at the apprentice. You still don’t know his name.

“But if we flee… yes, yes I see. Of course.” The astrologer’s apprentice nodded at the air. You get the feeling that he is not paying attention to you. “Sargon’s interest in the star will lead him to hunt us down for answers anyway. I’m not sure whether we can hide from that man for long.”

“It wouldn’t be much of a problem for me. No one notices a shepherd.”

“At any rate, I never planned on running.” you remark brusquely. “So here’s the plan: Uh… astrologer. You know what the king expects of the fallen star. Can you deliver him something that he will believe while saving all our heads?”

The apprentice sneered. “My name is Shulgi, soldier. And yes, I’ll think of something to tell him. My master was Sargon’s closest confidant after all.” He seems to grow more confident the more he talks, his dark eyes bearing a glint of amusement. You’re not sure if he had ever behaved this way before. “However, for your… no, our plan to work, I’ll need the shepherd to come with us.”

The shepherd was surprised. “Why is that? I have no intention of getting myself involved in this mess, my friends.”

“Don’t be a simpleton. What better way is there to demonstrate the truth of our story than to have an honest shepherd boy vouch for it? Wait, you are an honest shepherd boy, aren’t you?”

The shepherd closed his eyes. A brief moment later, he opened them, staring straight at Shulgi. “Fine, I’ll come along. The name’s Naram, by the way.” He smiled at Shulgi and held out his hand. “No ill feelings, friend, but I’ve always preferred the simple life. I’ll help you two out if that’s what you want, as fellow survivors.”

Shulgi grasped his hand firmly and gave a pale grin in return.

You shake your head. “Right, well, my name is Ean and now that we all know each other well, we better be getting back to the village. I’m surprised that the rest of the guard haven’t been sent out to look for us already.” Naram nods and begins to walk. “I’ll guide you back. I know these plains like the back of my hand.”


Chapter 1.4: Sargon's Ambition

Looks like B takes it. I'm going to have to try and make the choices more interesting if we keep getting overwhelming consensus. Let's hope Ean has sufficient powers of persuasion to capitalize on his mind-reading later on. >_> On an off note: had you picked another character, you would have had a slightly different set of powers to pick from. There is some overlap, but due to the natural strengths of the characters they gain certain powers earlier than others.

You'll have access to almost all the powers in their rudimentary form by the end of the chapter, though.

Chapter 1.4: Sargon's Ambition

So how does it feel, being able to peek at minds?

"It's unsettling. I was just saw Murea the other day, looking at a flock of sheep passing by. There was a strong throb of lust coming from him; I'm not sure whether it was for the sheep or the boy guarding the flock."

Could be both. No, probably both.
Anyway, this is going to be some useful ability you have here, little monkey.
At least, it's going to stop your gullible butt from getting fooled by people all the time.

"If I were gullible, I'd never have survived living in the streets."

You stand up from the bath. Now that you've freshened up and look somewhat presentable, you are ready to go before the king.


"So what you are telling me... is that the star that killed my best astrologer and some of my personal guard was a message from Enlil?" Sargon the Great sat upon his throne, gazing intently at you. You gulp. This was the man that had conquered all of Sumer, and his presence remained commanding despite his age. "Yes, my king. Master Ammun's apprentice, Shulgi, may explain it to you better than I can." You keep your head bowed, waiting for Shulgi to begin his explanation.

Shulgi too keeps his head down as he begins to speak, radiating a great sense of earnestness. "O Great King, when we reached the star, Enlil's visage appeared in divine light before us. I, Ean and the shepherd Naram were overawed by His presence and we dared not look at Him directly, as we are with Your Majesty right now. Master Ammun and the other soldiers were struck down by Enlil's light when they gazed upon His face."

I can almost hear the capitalizations in his words. Pretty nifty skill, that one.

You ignore the voices. Shulgi continues his story. "Enlil then declared, in a voice that was both as loud as thunder and as gentle as a cooling breeze, that King Sargon the Great, descendant of His bloodline, had honoured the throne of Sumer with his deeds. He decreed that King Sargon the Great would thus sit on the throne for all the cycles of the world, and that all which is not yet his shall become so before the end of time. This is what Enlil has decreed, and He has spared our lives so that we may convey His word to Your Majesty."

Sargon stares at the three of you, deep in thought.

"You, shepherd. Naram, was it not?"

"Yes, my king." The shepherd was calm and collected. You are a bit envious, as you stuttered and stammered the first time you met the king yourself.

"You have done great service as a messenger of Enlil. From now on, you shall want for nothing. You need only speak and I will grant even a city unto you."

"You are too kind, my king. I am a humble shepherd and have wanted for nothing before this. All I need, my king, is to live my days out peacefully."

"You are sure of this, Naram?"

Naram nods. "Yes, my king." He pauses for a while, uncertain, before adding, "Well, a bag of gold would help me live quite a bit more peacefully. By this time I'm sure my fellow villagers will have divided up my sheep and claim that beasts had gotten them."

Sargon laughs out loud. "Good! Very good! You shall have your bag of gold, and should you ever require more, you need only ask. In the meantime, enjoy the hospitality of Kish. I will arrange for you to tend to some of my own flock." Turning his gaze to Shulgi, he speaks to the apprentice. "Ammun was always too brash for his own good. I am glad that he has left behind an apprentice as capable as you. From now on, you shall be the chief astrologer of the palace. I am sure you will read the stars and guide my purpose well." Shulgi smiled. "Thank you, O Great King. I could ask for no better."

Finally, Sargon turns to you. "Ean, my trusted soldier. You know the decree of Enlil." You say, quietly, "Yes, my king." A wide grin spreads across his face. You can feel the bloodlust and naked ambition pouring from the king, and you wonder how one man could hold so much drive.

"We will begin preparations for the invasion of Egypt immediately. Those crocodile-loving bastards have been a thorn in my side for a long time, and as Enlil has spoken, we have all the divine favour in the world to crush them." chuckled the king. "I want you to ride with me, as my second-in-command. You have grasped much glory in your short time of service to me, yet I will offer you more. Together we will scatter the Egyptians and take the Nile for our own."


A. You accept the king's order to march on Egypt together with him. It is your duty to do so, and you see no reason to defy him. Crushing the Egyptians would gain you great standing in the empire. Besides, since the arrival of the fallen star, you have been struck by inspiration with several military concepts you want to put into practice.

B. You decline the king's order. He would not take offense to your refusal, of that you are certain. You don't trust Shulgi and Naram fully just yet, and you plan to approach them to investigate their intents and purposes. You might be able to learn more about them and about the voices should you stay behind.

C. Fuck this shit! say the voices. You agree. You flee into the wilderness.

Chapter 1.5: The Battle for Memphis

Am I that bad at making choices seem equally attractive? Ah well. A takes it by a landslide.


Chapter 1.5: The Battle for Memphis

The decision was made for you to accompany the king and lead his army. In his absence his eldest son Rimush would govern the city-states of Sumer.

During the journey, guided by the voices, you made great improvements to the military organization and logistics of the army. By the time you reached the sands of Egypt with the mighty Sumerian host, all five thousand of the men were well fed and disciplined. Your ability to read other people allowed you to group the men and appoint leaders efficiently to ensure there was little conflict within the army. Indeed, as you exercised your power, you found that it grew; now you are able to catch flashes of actual thought, instead of nebulous intentions, when you are in physical contact with another. This did not come without drawbacks, however. It was difficult for you to be in combat initially, as in the rush of battle you picked up every single dying scream; all of the rage, fear and hatred assailed your mind and you were lucky not to have fainted in the middle of the battlefield. Soon you learnt to tune it out, although a disquieting rumble of emotions always surged through you whenever battle was joined.

The great discipline and coordination of the Sumerian army utterly broke all Egyptian resistance. All across the desert, they could only muster and scrounge up bands of a few dozen warriors to feed the well-oiled fighting machine that you have created. The efficiency of your organization was clear to all the warriors of the army, and even the king, himself no slouch at military matters, was greatly impressed. He began to rely more and more upon you to direct the battles.

By the third month of your arrival, the Sumerian army was already at the gates of Memphis, capital of the old Egyptian kingdom.

Your army still boasted 4800 men ready and willing to fight, buoyed by their constant victories. On the other side, surprisingly, the Egyptians had managed to gather close to 3000 warriors from all over their kingdom. You wonder where they were hiding all this time, but it was definitely a futile effort. Your army had better armour and equipment, were far more disciplined, and outnumbered them by nearly 2000. The conclusion was foregone.

At least, if it wasn't for what came next.


As your army lines up opposite the enemy in formation, a sudden sandstorm kicks in from inland, blinding your army's vision.

This is a real problem, guys.
On the bright side, we've found at least one of them.
Judging from the strength of this effect, it's probably hiding amongst those eye-liner wearing poofs on the other side.

Hearing those enigmatic words, you have questions that you want to ask them, but the coming battle takes priority. Suddenly, you hear screams and the clashing of steel from the right flank. Turning to look, you see a horrible sight.

Jackal-headed beasts are manifesting from the sand and tossing soldiers aside like rag-dolls. At the same time, a massive roar arises from the Egyptian lines. As the wind quietens and the sand settles, you see that the Egyptian warriors have begun to charge, with at least a hundred chariots leading the way. The jackal monsters are still wreaking havoc on the right, although their numbers have lessened - mundane bronze appears to have an effect on the beasts. King Sargon laughs. "Monsters! Demons! Do they think that will stop me? The gods themselves are with me! Warriors of Akkad, we go now to claim all of Egypt!"

He leads his chariots in a head-on charge at the Egyptian army. Numbers and technology are on his side, and he should be able to break through just like he has with all the other enemies he has destroyed over the years. You hear a sudden howl. A few of the jackal-beasts have noticed the king's charge, and they bound after him, breaking off from the flank.


A. You ride after the king to support his head-on charge and ward off the jackal-beasts. You would do better to defeat the Egyptian army first. According to what the voices have said, you could be able to end the jackal-beasts if you hunt down the cause amongst the Egyptian army using your slight telepathic ability. You are the only one who can do this.

B. The right flank is collapsing. Feeling a wave of terror rising from the men still holding a flank, you go to rally the men there and destroy the jackal-beasts. The king is an experienced warrior himself, surrounded by some of the best warriors in the army. He should be able to manage the frontline while you prevent a total rout on the right. If you do not support them right now, they will flee.

C. Seriously, fuck this shit, says one of the voices. You agree. You flee into the wilderness, away from the battle.


Again, if anyone needs information that they think can help them to make a decision, feel free to request for it.

Chapter 1.6: Tendrils in the Desert

Chapter 1.6: Tendrils in the Desert

He's not concentrating on us at the moment so... run that motherfucker down!

The voices were excited. You decide to do this the Sumerian way; crashing into the enemy with the full force of your two asses followed by a hundred pounds of wood, all the while ululating the war cry of your people. The old man's arms flail in the air as he disappears underneath the chariot with a sickening thud. You hear his bones snap.

Then, your chariot jerks to a sudden halt.

Is that supposed to happen?
Oh no, no, this is one of those types... RUN!

Even with the warning from the voices, you barely manage to register what is going on before a mass of ropy, black tendrils erupt from underneath the chariot, wrapping around anything they can touch. A few of them manage to grip your left leg just above your sandal, causing you burning pain wherever they have touched, and in that moment of contact it truly hits home how different this thing is. The torrent of alien thought flooding your mind resolves and focuses until you pick up one strong signal directed at you repeatedly:

come from afar to kill us but find only your own death come from afar to kill us but find only your own death come fro-

You hack away at the tendrils. Clearly the monster means you no good. Your slashes cause its grip to loosen for a little, and you take that opportunity to leap away from the chariot. Your jump carries you a good two metres away, putting you well out of the tendrils' reach. You land on your left leg, and the pain causes you to sink to the ground. Looking at your ankle, you see that the tendrils have eaten away into the flesh. The braying of your donkeys behind you tell you that they are done for.

As suddenly as they have appeared, the tendrils withdraw back under the chariot, and the old man crawls out jerkily. He stands and moves towards you in a floppy manner, putting one foot ahead of the other like a badly controlled puppet. You can see his broken bones sticking out at weird angles. His open wounds have exposed the morass of slimy black tendrils writhing within his body. The old man's jaw drops open, and it speaks to you in Sumerian.

“You come so far to kill us. I know your masters.” Its voice is guttural and harsh. “We will not be denied this land. All serve us. All feed us. Even you.”

Trembling, you get to your feet and grip your sword tightly.

Don't worry, we've got this one beat. He's just mouthing off.
Aye, look at it. Barely holding its host together now. Your loyal donkeys did a good number on it.
Here's a tip: That thing usually has a big weak spot in its host's lower spine.
Big honkin' orb, looks like an eyeball. You can't miss it.

“What is this thing anyway? You lot owe me a long explanation.” you complain.

Hey, no problem, man, we'll tell you a story about them.
After you get rid of it, mind. So focus.

You focus. The old man has staggered close, and it suddenly pounces, attempting to embrace you with those corrosive tendrils bursting from every orifice.


A. You move suddenly, faster than you ever have. Your swift and explosive movement disrupts the timing of the old man's pounce, and you slip easily behind it. With one strike you hack open its back, exposing the orb. The tendrils grab you. You ignore the pain and drive your sword into the orb.

B. You concentrate your thought. In mid-pounce, the old man is unable to change its trajectory; you slam it to the ground with the power of your mind. It struggles mightily, but you just need to be able to hold it there for a second. As you draw close, the tendrils wrap around you and begin eating away at your flesh. You endure the pain. With a yell, you cut apart its spine and plunge your sword into the exposed orb.

C. Stretching your hand out, some sparks float from your fingers, towards the thing. It runs right into the floating sparks and they ignite, wrapping the thing in flames. Its momentum, however, carries it right into you, knocking you down. Despite the searing flames, you kick aside the weakened creature and cut deep into its back, where the skin has melted to expose the orb.


(Don't be concerned with the injuries. This is mainly a power-selection update. The thing is defeated no matter which option you select; its own choices drove it into a corner, so to speak. This wouldn't have happened the same way had you chosen differently before, of course.)

Chapter 1.7: Memphis Falls

Chapter 1.7: Memphis Falls

As you smash the orb with your sickle sword, the old man's broken body drops to the ground, like a puppet whose strings had been cut. The black tendrils shrink and evaporate, and soon there is no hint they ever existed. You turn to look for the king, but he is no longer there. King Sargon, in fact, had staggered off to get another chariot and plunge back into the battle while you were occupied with the monster. He should be able to take it from here. You stoop to take care of your wounds... and realize that they do not hurt anymore. In fact, they have begun to scar, fresh pink flesh growing where the tendrils had eaten away at your body.

Guess we forgot to mention that, did we?
This is just another one of the nifty tricks you can pull.
Congratulations, by having us with you, you won't be able to die!

"You mean... I'm immortal?"

To just about everything I'd say.
But don't get too eager about it, when you get stabbed it still hurts like a bitch.
It's a small thing, really, so just think of it like a... a bonus or something, for letting us stay in you.

It's a bit too much for you to process. Immortality? To live forever? This was something you never sought - you don't know what to do with eternal life. Your pleasures in life were simple, not grand. But you suppose that you should deal with this one step at a time. For now, you have to find out just what that thing was.

You know the stars, right? Up in the sky? Well, that thing came from beyond those stars.
It's not the only one of its kind. They tend to gather in seats of civilization.
When you get a lot of people in one place, power tends to accumulate there. Political, military, economic... you get the idea.

You don't really get the idea, but you let the voices continue.

So these things will creep in and try to take over all that power.
Of course, given how damned ugly they are, they need to hide in hosts, disguising their presence.
There's many types of them out there, but they all share the same desire: to lord over humans as you would over cattle.

If they gather in seats of power, you have to wonder: were there any of them in the royal capital of Akkad?

Probably. They are not always at the top of the hierarchy, though they will try to infest those who wield power.

You look at the old man. His head-gear and kohl markings indicate that he is a member of the priestly caste. Definitely an influential member of Egyptian society. If there was more like him in Sumeria...

You shake your head. There were more important things to take care off right now. You pick up an abandoned spear from the ground and head back into battle.


Memphis falls that very night. The royal family had long fled the city though - the servants indicated that the pharoah and his kin had ran for the sea. Over the victory feast in the palace's great hall, Sargon lamented that he would not be able to strangle the pharoah to death with his bare hands. He has made no mention to you about the thing in the desert so far, and so you do not bring up the issue. As you made your way around the hall, the men praised your name to the gods; your heroic rescue of the right flank had endeared you to them greatly.

Before you could take your place besides King Sargon at the table, a messenger walks in and kneels before him.

"Hail King Sargon the Great, brave conqueror of Ebla and Phoenicia, and now Egypt, and places many more. I bring word from his loyal son, King Rimush, priest-king of the Akkadian Empire."

Sargon's brow darkened at those words. "And what word would my prince bring me?" The messenger gave a slight smirk of satisfaction, as if irritating Sargon amused him.

"King Rimush hereby decrees: The gods of old have sent a divine message that they have stepped down to make way for a new chief of the heavens. As defender of the faith, the king of the Akkadian Empire must obey and worship he whom the gods have chosen. King Rimush is aware that his brave and venerable father might feel disinclined to change his worship at this time of his life, but the people of Akkad and all of Sumer are also loyal subjects of the gods, and cannot be ruled by one who would disobey them. King Rimush would gladly lay his crown before King Sargon should he return and pay homage to the new god. If not, in a token of his good faith, he will leave the barbarian lands ruled by King Sargon unmolested, and hopes they can get along as good neighbours from this day onwards."

Treacherous son, who would've thought that?

A loud roar of rage erupts from around the hall. The men were clearly disapproving of Rimush's actions. Sargon chuckled. "That is a lot of words for such a simple message." He sprang from his chair, his speed belying his age, and sunk his dagger into the messenger's chest. The messenger expires with a surprised gasp, his hands clutching at the king's cloak. Kicking the corpse to the ground, King Sargon gives you an order, "Ean, take his head and wrap it up. After we are rested and fed, I will be returning to discipline my son... and Shulgi."


A. You return to Sumeria with the king. You are interested in finding out what Shulgi and Naram have been up to while you were away. Furthermore, the voices suspect there may be more of that thing you fought in the desert hiding out in Akkad - if true, it would be best to root them out.

B. You remain behind as governor of Egypt and the lands stretching between it and Sumer. Sargon leaves you with five hundred men to hold the peace while he goes to bring his wayward son to heel. While developing Memphis and consolidating your - well, technically the king's - rule, you may also find out more about the black tendriled creature that had been lurking here.

C. You flee into the wilderness. Ruling and politics and treacherous princes are not your cup of tea.

Chapter 1.8: Return to Sumeria

Chapter 1.8: Return to Sumeria

You decide to ride with the king, back to Sumeria. He is pleasantly surprised at your decision, and tells you he is glad that you will be fighting at his side. On the way back, however, you catch him glancing at your rapidly fading scars once in a while. You sense some suspicion from the king on that regard, but he makes no mention of it at all throughout the journey.

The trek takes the better part of two months. On the eve of crossing over into Sumeria proper, King Sargon convenes a war meeting with the captains of his army. The leader of the scouts that had been sent out ahead was due to make his report.

Things did not sound good: Shulgi had made himself the focus of this new cult. Apparently the high priest of the empire had been possessed by a demon, and Shulgi publicly exorcised this demon in front of hundreds as a display of his power over the old pantheon. From the eyewitness accounts, it was clear that this 'demon' was of the same sort you fought in the desert. Shulgi had proclaimed himself a god made flesh, though he seemed content to allow Rimush to undertake the tedious burdens of day to day ruling as king. The news of the public exorcism, spread by Shulgi's network of cultists, had by now swayed most of the populace in the empire to worship this new god.

Looks like that boy was smarter than you are.
He didn't even have to march for months through a desert to get his job done.
Man, whoever got him was lucky.

You tell the voices, inwardly, to shut up.

On the military front, Rimush had recalled all of the professional soldiers to be stationed in Akkad. The cities on the outskirts were protected by local guards and militia. None of the soldiers should not be a match for your battle-hardened army, though you should prepare for lengthy sieges should you attempt to take any of the great walled cities of Sumer.

Of Naram, there was no news: he had disappeared shortly before Shulgi made his move.

Upon hearing all this, the king glanced at you again. He remains quiet for a while, before standing up, his brow furrowed.

"Well, I can't let this go on any longer. If I have to tear my own city down to teach my own son manners, I will! We march on Akkad immediately!" He appears to be inclined to try to finish this mess quickly by attacking the problem at its source. The captains roar their approval, and leave the tent to prepare. Before you can leave, the king commands that you stay, and dismisses his guards. "I have something to discuss with my most trusted warrior regarding the battle." You know that he is going to ask about the monsters, the healing, and Shulgi's betrayal, and how you are involved in all this. You can feel it.


A. You confess all of the truth to the king, submitting yourself to his judgement. It would not do to hide secrets from him before confronting another who may be as undying and powerful as you are.

B. You lie, making up a story about how you did not know Shulgi had lied about the divine proclamation from Enlil, and that the only thing you know about the star was what he told you. You swear you have no idea about your healing, nor about the monsters.

C. You kill the king. You are stronger, faster, and with no guards around you can blame it on Shulgi's 'divine powers' easily. The army will follow your command with no trouble.

D. Before the king can say anything, you turn and flee into the wilderness. No, seriously, just fuck this shit, man. You're just a soldier, you never asked for this.

Chapter 1.9: A Hand for Trust

One-sided victory for A. So here we go!


Chapter 1.9: A Hand for Trust

You loyally confess all that has happened. As the king listens to your tale, you feel his rage growing. He walks towards you and grabs you by your tunic.

"You dare steal that which the gods have bestowed upon me? You thief! You little bastard!" King Sargon pushes you away and draws his sword. "Not only do you take what is rightfully mine after all I have given you, you conspire with others to keep me in the dark! What do you think I should do with you, traitor?" You have no reply. His claim to the powers granted by the voices aside, what he accused you of was true. You feel a tumultous rush of emotions from the king; sorrow, envy, fear and anger mixed together, confusing and clouding his mind. He lets out a small sigh.

"You are loyal to me, are you not?"

"Yes, my king."

"Give me your hand."

The king tosses his axe at your feet.

"I'm sorry... my king?"

"Your hand. Give it to me. If your story is true, you will not need your shield-hand. You are immortal, are you not? What use has an immortal for a shield? Give your hand to me as proof of your loyalty."

Well, he's right. Don't worry, you can just pick it up in secret and it'll reattach quickly.

Having resolved to submit yourself to the king's judgement, you decide to follow his orders. The voices reassure you, and you kneel before Sargon. Grabbing the axe, you grip your cloak in your teeth to muffle your screams. You raise the king's axe and hack away at your left wrist. The bronze bends as it hits your bone, and even with your strength it takes multiple chops before your mangled hand is separated from your arm. The king watches in amazement as the bleeding stops in a matter of minutes. As you struggle to your feet, the king picks up your severed hand and walks out of the tent, beckoning you to follow. You do so unsteadily. He strides to the center of the largest campfire, as the soldiers part before him. The crowd murmurs curiously at the sight of the king and you tottering after him.

"Soldiers! Brave warriors of Akkad!" shouts the king."Be comforted! I have communed with the gods regarding the deeds of this Shulgi. They assure us that Shulgi is a false god! He is a sorceror preying on the weak with tricks and magic! The gods have also bestowed upon us a means by which we shall all be protected from his foul sorcery. All they require is a blood sacrifice... and our greatest warrior, Ean, has nobly volunteered his own hand!" The king holds your hand aloft and shakes it. Blood spatters everywhere.

The crowd oohs and aahs, very impressed by your courageous sacrifice. "O Enlil! O Ea! Let this be our sacrifice to you, a gift from my most loyal and courageous subject, so that you may protect us while we smite the foul sorceror that pretends to rule above you!" With a dramatic flourish, the king tosses your hand into the fire. You watch as it chars and blackens. The crowd cheers, and several of the captains pat you on the back, awed by your faith. You can only force a weak smile.

There goes reattachment.
Well, don't worry, kiddo. It'll grow back. Eventually.
On the bright side, I think the men really liked that little show. You're like this living embodiment of the dutiful soldier now... an avatar of military loyalty.

You guess you'll have to take whatever consolation you can get.


The army's march to Akkad is unimpeded. Buoyed by the sacrifice of your hand, they are filled with fervor and belief in the divine. Your wound is regenerating slowly; your palm seems to have reappeared, but the limb is still useless for manipulation. Arriving at the gates of Akkad, your army makes camp just beyond the range of the shortbowmen on the walls. The army readies itself for a siege, building weapons of war. Calls for the denizens of the city to surrender are ignored, and the gates remain shut. The king muses that he had ordered escape routes built that only he knew about, and sends the scouts off to search for them. Many turn out to have been collapsed by the enemy. On the fifth day of the siege, you receive word from one of your scouts. They have discovered an unguarded passage into the city under the western wall, possibly the last one left of the king's escape routes. The king turns to you and gives you a choice.

"We will make use of this opportunity well - part of our army will assault the walls as a distraction, while a small group sneaks in via the tunnel to open the gates. Ean, I want you to be in charge of one of these operations. With your abilities I am sure you will succeed no matter what you decide to do."


A. You lead the assault on the walls with two hundred men. You will show your strength and prowess in front of the entire army by taking the walls even with one hand missing. Unfortunately you will have to use all your ability to manage the climb with one hand, and you will be unable to ward off any arrows headed your way.

B. You lead the tunnel operation with a small band of ten men. This is the last open passage and would end the siege quickly should you manage to open the gates. You may also decide to split up and search for Shulgi once you are in the city. On the downside, this could be a trap set by the crafty astrologer.

C. The king has you under watch now. To reject the choice and flee into the wilderness, you would have to cut through the king's troops. You say fuck it and begin cutting anyway.

Chapter 1.10: At the Walls of Akkad

Chapter 1.10: At The Walls of Akkad

Going into that tunnel is probably going to get you buried alive.
I don't fancy spending a thousand years trapped with you under tons of rock, so let's do the other thing.

You do the other thing. The walls of Akkad are formidable, but you can scale them easily. At least, you could if you had two working hands. The king instructs some of his royal guard to infiltrate the tunnel, and begins preparing the rest of the army to storm the city once the gates are opened. He then pulls you to one side. "If you find my son, kill him. But Shulgi must be captured alive." You can tell that Sargon plans to extract the secrets of immortality from Shulgi. You nod, acknowledging his order.


The assault begins at dawn. In the dim light, you sneak forward with your men, carrying the tall ladders which are vital to your success. Their height advantage and the range of your shortbows means that your archers are unable to provide covering fire without being peppered by arrows themselves. Your one-handedness means you opt to go without a spear, bringing along just a shield, a sword and an axe.

Two hundred metres more to the walls. So far so good - the guards at the wall must not be very alert, despite the torches you see patrolling the top. Then again, Sargon had left the least competent troops behind to guard his kingdom. The man was not big on defense.

One hundred metres more to the walls. If your luck holds, you might be able to get to the top of the walls and take them by surprise.

Fifty metres more. No such luck. You are within range for your telepathy to begin sensing the enemy, and you feel one of their minds startle. A shout rings out. "The enemy! The enemy is here!"

You reply with a yell of your own. "Men, fall into position! Shields up and ready!" The men, well-drilled, form a phalanx and raise their shields as one - just in time, as a rain of arrows begin to fall upon you. You hold your shield above you and lead the march to the walls. From behind, you hear the occasional scream as some of the arrows manage to find their way through the shield wall, whether it is by luck or by skill.

Thanks to your timely orders, most of your men do manage to survive to the wall. The slight incline of the walls means that the climb won't be as laborious, but it also means that the archers have a free line of sight to continue shooting. Sargon's soldiers begin raising the ladders, bracing them just beneath the top of the wall so that the archers would not be able to remove them.

You would not be able to scale the ladders while holding your shield, so you sling it across your back. You look up. The climb is about fifteen metres.


A. You let your men go ahead of you. They can climb, albeit slowly, while protecting the ones below them with their shield. You need to play this smart - a slow and steady ascent will ensure you manage to reach the top of the wall. This mission is a distraction and there is no rush.

B. You go first, fuck the shields, you'll just try to read when the arrows and rocks are coming and somehow dodge your way to the top of the ladder with one hand. The men will be awed. You just hope you don't fail and plummet to the ground - that would be pretty bad for morale.

Chapter 1.11: Prince's Folly

Chapter 1.11: Prince's Folly

You did not come all the way out here to cower behind the shields of your men.

You leap up the ladder, climbing with one hand, to the cheers of the soldiers. Being on a ladder, you have little room to maneuver; your telepathy and swift reactions allow you to evade the worst of it, hopping and swinging around the ladder's rungs like a monkey on crack. Still, the volume of the arrows ensures that some of them nick you anyway. The pain is bearable, and you concentrate on not letting any strike you in the head – that would be extremely unfortunate. The soldiers raise their shields and follow behind you at a much more sedate pace.

Halfway up, a lucky soldier manages to drop a rock straight on your head. Stunned, you are forced to stop moving, and an arrow promptly strikes you in the shoulder, You are too distracted to keep your composure, and two more follow, burying themselves in your arm and thigh. Your feet slip... and step on a flat piece of wood. You regain your grip and spare a glance behind you. One of the soldiers has moved up behind you and used his shield to give you a foothold. Grateful, you continue your climb with renewed vigor.

It is a difficult climb, and by the time you near your target, you are still bleeding from a few dozen cuts, with many more that are healing. No less than ten arrows are still stuck in various parts of your body, making you look like a pincushion. The arrow through your cheek particularly irks you. You jump the last metre of wall, clearing the top and pouncing on a surprised archer, smashing his face in with your good hand. As the enemy soldiers surround you, you draw your axe. You move in anticipation of their intentions, ducking, whirling, and darting through the melee. You could have taken them all, all three hundred of them, if not for your wounds. Slowed down by the injuries you have suffered, your body cannot keep up, and you find yourself taking more and more cuts which begin turning into near-fatal misses – fatal for a mortal, at least. Exhaustion, it seems, is still a factor in your fighting capability.

Still, you buy enough time for your men to clamber over the wall. They rush to your aid, hacking and slashing their former comrades with righteous indignation. The battle goes well, and you feel that you could actually win the wall. Their arrival provides you some respite from the endless combat, and as you slow down your pace, you feel your lighter wounds beginning to knit together. A tall, cloaked man appears from the melee and charges you with a sword. You recognize him.

Rimush, son of Sargon. You wonder what he is doing on the walls; he was never the sort to lead an army from the front, unlike his father.

“Prince Rimush, your father bids me take your head.” You greet him curtly, stating your intention. Rimush sneers at you and aims a slash at your neck. “That's King Rimush to you, Ean. How you are still stinking up the army with your dirt-like existence is something only my father can explain. Now, get off my wall.” You deftly parry his blow, before realizing that something is wrong.

You cannot read the prince. Where there ought to be waves of emotions and feelings, you can feel nothing but a blank void. Has Shulgi done something?

Yup, probably that kid's learnt how to block you out.
It's going to be tricky business for you. Don't rely on your mind-reading too much.

“What's the matter?” taunts Rimush upon seeing your hesistation. “Lord Shulgi has bestowed a blessing upon me. Do you fear how strong and quick I have now become? This is power only a god can give!” Gleeful, he continues to attack. Still, even if you cannot read his mind, his skills are only about as good as the average grunt. He seems to have been terribly misled of the nature of Shulgi's 'blessing'. You have the edge in experience and skill, and despite your handicap, you easily disarm him of his weapon within seconds. His sneering face turns panicked and he tries to grab for your weapon instead. You land a kick to his chest, sending him sprawling. As you put your axe to his neck, he cries out.

“I... no, mercy! Mercy on me! I renounce Shulgi! He is no god, the protection he claims to peddle is false!”

Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that...

Seeing that you remain unmoved, Rimush changes his pleas for mercy. He offers you information, instead, hoping it will save his life.

“I have been at Shulgi's side, and I know what he is planning. If you promise to spare me, I will tell you everything! If you don't hear what I have to say, you will die. You and my father both!”

(Well, let's try out a simple two-part choice)

A. You agree to listen to him. What he says could be of tremendous importance – if Shulgi was planning something, you have to know what.

B. You do not listen to his words. You do not trust him to tell the truth – listening to his lies may affect your decisions in the future, and lead you into trouble.


1. You spare him... and drop him off with his daddy once you have secured the wall. The king might want to hear what he has to say with his own ears. What King Sargon does with him after that is none of your concern.

2. You spare him, and let him leave unharmed. Sometimes the voices in your head are capricious and illogical.

3. You spare his body the burden of having to carry his stupid head any longer. It would be easier to bring just the head to his father later. Anyway, the King requested a corpse, but he didn't mention if you needed to bring the whole thing.

Chapter 1.12: Dam If You Do

A last minute surge sees A3 winning with 9 votes.

Chapter 1.12: Dam If You Do

"Fine. I'll listen. Tell me what he is planning, and I will release you."

Rimush smiles at you. You cannot believe that this man is a son of a king, let alone able to take the throne. He begins to spill what he knows.

The city of Akkad, like all other Sumerian cities, was irrigated with a complex series of levees, canals and dams controlling the flow of water from the great rivers nearby, the Tigris and the Euphrates. While you were in Egypt, Rimush had been instructed to begin construction of certain channels of water directly into the city. Shortly before the siege began, Shulgi had left the city with a few dozen of his cultists. Rimush tells you that while we were distracted by the city, Shulgi had begun plans to flood Akkad. He will do so once the king has entered the city himself, and in the ensuing confusion seal his victory by unleashing a few thousand of his loyal cultists in an ambush on the king. As far as you can understand, the crux of the plan hinges on a particular dam just north of here. That is where Shulgi is camped with his men.

How strong do you think the flooding waters will be?

Prompted by the voice, you ask Rimush that question.

"I do not know. Shulgi claims it will be strong enough to drown many of your forces."

You nod. "Thank you for the information, Rimush." You see a wide grin of relief over his face, which just as soon turns into fear as he sees you lift your axe over your head.

"Wait... you promised. You said you were going to release me?"

"Of course. I release you from this mortal coil." you quip, and bring your axe down on his neck.


"Traitors! Your king is dead!" you bellow, lifting Rimush's head aloft. In death his fearful expression has frozen on his face, giving him a decidedly undignified death mask. Many of the enemy break and flee the battle, while others fall to their knees and surrender, pleading for mercy. You have won the wall relatively easily, thanks to Rimush's death.

Now you need to decide what to do with the information he has given you.


A. You head to the dam, alone. No point taking the king's men with you if it is a wild goose chase - he already has reasons to be suspicious enough as it is. Of course, you do send Rimush's head back to the king with your compliments. Judging from the distance, if everything goes well you can make it back before the king notices you are missing.

B. You return to the king with Rimush's head, though you do not tell him about the trap. Knowing the king, he will march into the city, and you will be there with him. Rimush was probably lying anyway.

C. You return to the king and tell him about the trap. You allow the king to decide what to do with the information that has been given. You will follow his orders when he gives them.

D. You toss Rimush's head over the wall. Maybe it's not a bad idea to stop laying your life down for king and country. You walk into the wilderness.

Chapter 1.13: The Flood of Akkad

Chapter 1.13: The Flood of Akkad

The king did not seem terribly pleased when you returned Rimush’s head to him, though he commended you for following his orders. His other gambit involving the tunnel had failed. The men in the tunnel had apparently been killed by a fire-breathing beast, and a sole survivor was left to tell the tale. That did not concern you right now, however. With the walls taken, Sargon’s army was free to liberate the gates. What was meant as a suicidal distraction had turned out to be the impetus for your victory. Most of the enemy soldiers had scattered during the assault on the walls, and there was virtually no resistance as your army marched through the streets of Akkad. The citizenry’s nervous faces stare out of the doorways of the city’s buildings.

As you rode alongside the king in your chariot, Rimush’s words played over in your mind. A flood and an ambush. You wonder if he was right. King Sargon was not told of this; losing your hand had made you irritable, and the voices agreed that this was the choice that made the best out of a poor situation. You are not sure if you agree.

You hear a rumbling in the distance.

That’s… probably the water. Guess Rimush was telling the truth after all.

The rumbling grows louder, and becomes a faint roar. The march has stopped, and the soldiers look around, confused.

Sargon may have wronged you, but the soldiers are your men, and don’t deserve to die like this. “Get to higher ground! Climb! Enter the buildings and reach the roofs!” you scream. “The city is about to be flooded!” Nearly a quarter of the men fall out of formation and enter the nearest building at the sound of your orders.

The king grabs you, furious. “Ean, what do you think you are doing? What are you babbling about? You better have a good reason for this if you do not want to be left without any hands!” You think quickly. Feeling a bit more prudent than before, you reply, “My king, that roar means the city is about to be flooded. My priority right now is to get you to safety, so please follow me.”

“Very well then.” The king gives a dismissive snort, and faces his troops. “Men! Your king orders you to reach the rooftops immediately! There is a flood coming, and we shall all be swept away if we do not do so!” The remaining soldiers make to do so, but before they can move, you hear screams coming from the building where the first of those who heeded your warnings fled to immediately.

The cultists. It looks like Shulgi has planted them inside buildings, hoping to carry out his ambush once any surviving soldiers from the flood had fled inside seeking shelter. You feel water starting to lap at the soles of your sandals. The flood was coming too.

“The enemy is waiting for us inside the buildings, but unless any of you fancy taking a long swim, we better go in there and drag their entrails out! Be careful, but be quick!” You give your directions to the troops, and then run towards the nearest building together with the king. A dozen cultists were inside, brandishing long, crooked knives. They fought with great tenacity and fanaticism – their zest to kill the enemy in Shulgi’s name made them seem impervious to pain. You dispatch of them just the same, the king following behind you.


Reaching the rooftop, you survey the condition of the battle. A torrent of water was raging through the streets, sweeping away any stragglers that had not managed to get to safety. Cries of battle and bronze hitting leather could be heard from the buildings all around you. Several rooftops had your troops and Shulgi’s cultists engaged in combat. Sargon’s army was scattered, though your timely warning had allowed most of them to escape the brunt of the flood. Their superior discipline and skill should win them the day against the cultists, who have nothing but enthusiasm going for them.

“My king… my king! I have something urgent to report!” You turn and see one of your men climb up onto the roof, his clothes sopping wet. You go to help him up. As you reach for the man, he looks up at you and freezes. “You. I did not expect to see you here.” Upon seeing his face, you freeze too. You feel a flicker of panic in his mind, which soon faded from your perception and became a blank, unreadable void.


You mutter his name aloud, attracting the king’s attention. He glances at the soaked Shulgi, and grins. “So the little mastermind has decided to give himself up? That is very noble of you.” Shulgi bows mockingly. “King Sargon. I was looking forward to our little private meeting. It's such a pity you brought your loyal dog along.” The king chuckles briefly before replying. “Silence. No more words. I will have many, many questions to ask you after I cut off your arms and legs.” Sargon draws his sword. “Ean! Capture that traitor, and do it quickly! You shall never want for anything again after this.”

Whether or not you agree with Sargon, you know Shulgi is too dangerous to be left to his own devices. You lunge at him, your own sword at the ready. Shulgi draws his dagger, a crooked affair similar to those his cultists wield, and tries to ward you off. He moves faster and stronger than most other people, and you cannot read him, but still, you are better. Some of the soldiers that managed to fight off the ambush had already begun to gather on the rooftops – they see your duel with Shulgi, and cheer loudly. The first few exchanges happen without anything of note, but soon you manage to understand his amateurish movements. Your blade flashes past his guard and nicks his cheek, drawing blood. Shulgi grimaces in pain and gestures with his free hand. To your surprise, a small jet of water shoots up from the flood waters and hits you in the face. Shulgi takes advantage of your distraction and closes the distance, attempting to sink his dagger into you. You manage to recover and step back in time; the dagger merely opens up the front of your chest to the bone – no big deal for an immortal. Shifting your footwork quickly, you dart back forwards, faster than Shulgi can react, and run him through with your sword.

The king begins to clap. “Wonderful, Ean! Now, cut off his limbs and interrogate him.” Shulgi grins weakly. “What a great dog you are, Ean. He takes your hand, and even so you still obey his every word.” You open your mouth to retort. Suddenly, he cackles and clasps his hands over your temples. “I’m not going out like this, you bastards, not without a fight!” Before you can say anything, your head is assaulted by blinding pain. Shulgi mouths something that you cannot hear past the pain, and you instinctively rip your sword upwards with all your might, out of his body, cutting the astrologer into two. The bisected man falls backwards into the swift-flowing waters.

“No, you fool!” Sargon comes at you, grabbing you again. “I told you to capture him alive!” Your head still hurts tremendously, and as you look into Sargon’s furious eyes, you finally hear what Shulgi said: kill King Sargon. You lift your sword against your will.

Uh.. no, we’re not the ones doing it this time. That guy must’ve put a suggestion on you.
Nifty trick, that. But it’s still weak. You can fight it.

The voices encourage you as you fight the compulsion – you are definitely not going to let Shulgi give you any commands. You concentrate your mental focus to resist Shulgi’s suggestion, holding your arm back by pure willpower. You succeed, but just barely.

The king, however, was not amused. Not realizing that he had escaped death by a whisker, he spits at you. “I see now. You would raise your sword against me. You have killed my son, you keep the secrets of Shulgi’s immortality from me; now you plan to kill me, and then you would be king of all Sumer and Egypt! Does your treachery know no bounds?” He points his sword at you, his hostile intent clear. The king will probably try to disable you and do to you what he planned to do to Shulgi. You can tell that any words are useless. Sargon is too far gone in his bitterness.


A. You fight, and kill the king. If Sargon, Shulgi and Rimush could have so much fun playing at ruling, why should you not reign yourself? After all, you have put two of them out of the picture yourself. Clearly you deserve to be king much more than any of them – it is your right.

B. Whether you think fighting the king is futile, or that you cannot find it in you to raise your sword against your liege, the solution remains the same for you. You dive into the waters, letting them wash you right into the wilderness. Ruling does not interest you anyway – you are a man of battle, not of court and politics.

Interlude: Ean of the Akkadian Empire (circa 2300 B.C.)

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Ean, King of the Akkadian Empire
circa 2300 B.C.

Physical capabilities:

Has reached peak human levels. Can lift up to 300 kg and run at speeds of more than 40 km/h. Exhaustion is still a factor for now, both physical and mental.

Esoteric powers:

Telepathy – can read emotions from a distance, depending on the intensity and mental strength of the subject. Intentions can be vaguely understood in close proximity. Touching someone allows direct reading of the mind; at this time, it can only show the exact intention of a person at the time of physical contact.

Telekinesis – able to rattle and knock light objects around. The concentration required to use this power means that precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Body manipulation – has developed the ability to control slight changes, such as little wrinkles, slightly differently shaped eyes, hair colour, and other minute modifications to the body.

Elemental manipulation – can perform very minor manipulation of earth, water, wind and fire; making little pits in the ground, moving droplets of water, summoning a gentle breeze, and creating little sparks. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Regeneration ability:

Average. Small cuts can fully heal in minutes, while more serious wounds may take days. Missing parts can take months to recover, depending on the complexity and size of the part.

Takes care of his followers, and loyal to his friends. Undertakes his responsibilities seriously. Amenable to bending the truth a little for his own benefit at times.

Chapter Two: Lord of Sumeria

Chapter 2.1: King

A 13
B 5

Big choices coming up. The votes for each category will be counted separately.


Chapter 2.1: King

The king crumples to the ground as you draw your sword from his body.

I guess you're top dog now, buddy.
We should be having a looooot of fun on the seat of power...

The Akkadian Empire is in a state of shambles. The city of Akkad itself has been devastated by the flood. Your new ministers tell you that you'll be needing to bring in crops from the other city-states for years to come. Your once great army is scattered; your murder of King Sargon in full view of the soldiers was not greeted with joy by all. Clearly their adulation of you did not extend to the point of regicide. Many of them still remain, but more than half of the surviving soldiers have run back to their homes, deserting your service. Shulgi's cultists are still roaming around the empire, preaching of their god's return. You had searched for his body immediately after the flood waters have receded, but luck did not smile on you then. In far off Egypt, news have come of the Pharaoh regaining his throne. He does not have a good disposition towards the Empire at this moment, and may prove to be a threat. You do not know if the black, tendriled monsters that the voices warned you about are still around in Egypt and Sumer; they form yet another danger to your reign.

There are many decisions to be made to set the direction of your kingdom, and you are to be responsible for all of them.

The year is 2300 B.C.


1. Military

A. You institute a mandatory draft of all able-bodied men of age in Akkad. The farms have been ruined and they have little to do anyway. This should increase your forces by about 500 men.

B. You demand each of your subordinate city-states send you a tribute of 100 men. This should double your forces, increasing them by 1000 men.

C. You institute a draft and demand a tribute of manpower, increasing your forces by 1500 men.

D. You do nothing and retain your standing force of a thousand professional soldiers.


2. Rebuilding the City of Akkad

A. You prioritize repairs of your walls. The battle and the flood have wrecked the walls protecting Akkad, and should you delay repairs any longer, they will crumble, causing you to spend more time to rebuild them.

B. You prioritize the reconstruction of the farms and the irrigation channels that sustain them. The flood has severely damaged the surrounding farmland, and if you want to reach self-sufficiency in terms of food, this is crucial.

C. You prioritize the restoration of the city's buildings. Trade and entertainment have been ground to a halt with the siege and the subsequent flood. This will help boost the happiness of the citizens.


3. Society & Religion

A. You suppress Shulgi's cult mercilessly wherever you can find it, sending your soldiers to root out the cultists and kill them.

B. You outlaw Shulgi's cult, but do nothing drastic to cull the cultists. They have too much popular support to be dealt with violently.

C. You do nothing about the cult. With Shulgi gone they should die out on their own.

(E) You introduce the cult of Ean above all other gods, establishing your own divine status.
(G) You promote worship of the old Sumerian pantheon
(N) You declare that there are no gods, and introduce, way before its time, secularist philosophy.

(Example of vote format: A(E) for suppressing Shulgi's cult, and introducing your own.)


4. Internal Diplomacy

A. The city-states of Sumer shall bow before your every whim, the way they did before Sargon. You rule them with an iron fist, demanding a quarter of their food and coin in tribute.

B. You rule moderately, introducing a representative system where each city-state elects a councillor to voice their concerns to you. You increase the requirements for their tribute; 30% of their food and coin will be extracted to fund the smooth flow of this system.

C. You allow the city states to be more or less autonomous, as long as they contribute 20% of their food and coin every season, less than they would have paid to Sargon.


5. External Diplomacy

A. You invest in establishing friendly relationships with the various states around you who are still nominally client-states of the Empire (expanses of Syria, Lebanon and the Middle-East).

B. You demand tribute from the states around you to rebuild the Empire; dissenters will find an army of screaming charioteers outside their walls.

C. You leave the other states alone. There's a lot more to deal with at home anyway.


6. The Matter of Egypt

A. You send peace missives to the Pharaoh of Egypt, in hopes of establishing a friendly relationship.

B. You send the head of an ass to the Pharaoh. You're coming for the crocodile-lover sooner or later.

C. Fuck Egypt. They can rot in their sandy shithole.


7. Technological Advancements

A. You focus research on military advancements. Your troops will be better drilled and more disciplined. Advances in logistics allow you to project your power further than any other kingdom. Composite bows and spoked wheels will be introduced. You will be militarily dominant for the centuries to come.

B. You focus research on economic concerns. Introduction of a more sophisticated trade system with legal protection those who engage in it and a single currency for all cities in your empire are but some of the advances you will discover.

C. You focus research on the arts. You cultivate a culture of love and beauty, finding more and more creative uses with the materials you have access to. Your citizens become more appreciative of the wonders of the world.

Chapter 2.2: Ten Years Later

State of the Empire circa 2290 B.C.

The military still remains weaker than it was under Sargon, ten years into your reign. The core of the army was made up of a thousand aging, but extremely proficient and hardy veterans of Sargon's campaigns who had remained loyal to you. To that, five hundred young men of Akkad had been drafted over the years, and you have also received another thousand men from the city-states of Sumer. The new recruits are relatively green and untested; the only experience they have is in hunting down cultists. You introduced many new inventions to improve the military. The composite bow, allowing your archers to outrange any army in the region. Shields were now made of bronze instead of wood and leather. Breastplates were forged to further increase protection. Spoked wheels allowed your chariots to move faster and more steadily. You brought in horses to replace donkeys for their greater strength and speed. The voices tell you where to find transparent stones that distort vision when gazed through - you make a note to find a way to use that militarily. Your army may lack experience, but the new technologies more than make up for it.

The reconstruction of Akkad's farmland progressed well, but not as well as it could have. Drafting the young had left the labours of rebuilding on the shoulders of the older men. They grumbled, but they worked hard to restore their livelihood. In the end, you order your soldiers to aid the reconstruction process, which slows down training but ensures that the farmland recovers enough to feed much of Akkad's population. The economic state of the Akkadian Empire still remains rudimentary, with little trade occurring between cities.

The persecution of Shulgi's cult, however, did not endear you much to the people. He had gained a considerable following. Many, even if they were not cultists themselves, had a friend or family member who was. Your hardline stance of execution of any self-avowed cultists created great turmoil in the city in those heady, early years. It was only by securing a food supply to keep everyone fed that you staved off rebellion then. By now, the cultists have all but vanished from Akkad. You declared a return of the old gods to primacy in the Sumerian religion. This served to alleviate the rising tensions caused by your suppression of the cult, though reconversion is slow. Your priests still work hard everyday to convince your people of the supremacy of the old pantheon.

The combined demands of food, tribute and manpower did not please the other city-states under your rule. They sought to gain their freedom once they heard Sargon was dead, and you were forced to participate in a few skirmishes to bring them to heel. As the dust settled, you proposed a system where each city would send a representative, and together they would advise you in council. The leaders of the cities seemed pleased at the idea of having their voices heard, and accepted your proposal provided they were granted a small stipend from their tributes to fund their life in Akkad. Externally, you extended a friendly hand to your client-states around you. Tribute from them is meagre, but they do pay it, and relations become more pleasant than they were under Sargon. It is good to be liked by your neighbours.

Egypt, on the other hand, you taunt and mock. You send the Pharaoh the head of an ass with a note telling him that you're coming for his ass soon. From all accounts, the Pharaoh was enraged, yet he did not dare to send your messenger back with just his head. Your men later brought you news that he was attempting to broker an alliance with your client-states with which to encircle you - the Pharaoh was rudely rebuffed thanks to your savvy diplomatic tendrils.


Chapter 2.2: Ten Years Later

Ten years on, you have not aged a day. This has not gone unnoticed by some of your close attendants, though they pass it off as nothing more than the king being blessed with youthful looks. Today there is a meeting of the council that you have created. It is usually ghastly, with plenty of jostling and positioning from each representative to secure the most beneficial results for themselves. Still, a decade of politicking has inured you to their tricks. Being able to read their intentions help - there was a reason why you selected a small room as the council chamber.

Akkad is now almost self-sufficient in terms of food, and you are considering reducing food tribute in exchange for more manpower. Before that, however, there is a pressing issue you need to solve.

"Councilors." The representatives fall silent, and turn to look at you. "It has come to my ears that members of the Shulgi cult have begun to preach openly in your cities. Particularly in Kish, Lagash and Girsu. Have I not made it clear that any and all cultists are to be killed on sight?"

The representative of Kish begins to speak up. "My king, we have followed your orders faithfully, but our soldiers do not dare to act too overtly. These cultists have a strong following amongst the populace. To kill them like dogs in the street would cause an uprising." The representative of Lagash chimes in, supporting Kish. "Can we not begrudge them some slight religious distraction? After all, our citizens are constantly sacrificing the fruits of their work to uplift the glorious empire. We all know Shulgi was false, but if the peasants think otherwise, let them. It does not matter as long as they devote their work to Akkad."

You sigh. All these years, you have found no sign of Shulgi or Naram. You do not think they would be foolish enough to appear before you. Still, Shulgi's cult is proving to be a long-lived thorn. You wonder if he is not directing them from the shadows.

In your healed left hand you hold a missive from Tuwana, a city-state under Akkadian protection along the coast near Egypt. Apparently the Pharaoh had gotten tired of his diplomatic efforts to coerce your client states to turn against you, and had decided to use force. Tuwana was begging for help against the Pharaoh; the man apparently had an army of ten thousand troops. You wonder if the numbers in the report were right, or if the Pharaoh had conjured his army out of thin air.

Ten thousand men! Your mind boggles at trying to organize the logistics for it. Still, no matter the numbers, Egypt has become an overt threat, along with the resurgence of the Shulgi cult.


A. You send your army off to fight its first real war against Egypt. You cannot leave the Pharaoh to do as he will with people that are under your protection. Ten thousand men or no, you will smash them, as you have before.

B. The cult takes priority. As the city-states appear unwilling to fully enforce your decree on this, you make them shape up by sending your army around to kill the cultists again. Letting them fester while you focus on external threats may be risky.

C. You do both, splitting up your forces. You will not have all the manpower you need to beat down the cult quickly, but you cannot ignore the threat from Egypt either.

D. You do nothing and instead spend your time building up a harem. A king must have sons!


Extra options for A, B and C:

1. You go to Tuwana, whether alone or with your army. Maybe you can fight off ten thousand men by yourself. Surely Tuwana still has some forces for you to command.

2. You stay in Sumer, whether alone or with your army. You can investigate the cult yourself, since their longevity is suspicious.

Chapter 2.3: The Empty City

Chapter 2.3: The Empty City

Five hundred Akkadian men would be sent to suppress the cult. You bring the rest of your army with you, leaving behind only some militia to guard Akkad. The march would be long, and you arrange for a system of messengers to keep you constantly updated of events in Akkad and near Tuwanu. As you go along, you call on your other client states to bring aid. Tuwanu had already sent word to them before this, and it does not take them long to mobilize.

By the time you see Tuwanu in the distance, your numbers have more than doubled. Two thousand Sumerian warriors, and nearly three thousand more from twenty five city-states paying homage to the Akkadian Empire. To command so many men was a rare feat; Sargon was the last one who did so. Tuwanu, surprisingly, was still unmolested. The Pharaoh's army was nowhere to be seen. You wonder if the Egyptians were only making empty boasts. You send your scouts ahead to make contact with the city.


"My king, the city is utterly deserted. We found no one at all. There were also no signs of battle, so we do not think the city has been invaded. " You ponder this information. According to the scouts, food and trade items were left untouched, so it is unlikely that the citizens evacuated either. The last message you received from Tuwanu, a week ago, stated that they were delaying the Egyptians by engaging in diplomatic talks, and hoped you would arrive soon to put the enemy to the sword. Near the city, you find signs of encampment, but they were clearly abandoned recently. Was the Egyptian army here just a week ago? Your army is tired after the months of long travel, and now you have to decide what to do next.


A. You have your army occupy the city and settle in. This will give them good beds to rest in and good food to eat, improving their morale after the long march. You will also be able to defend yourself more easily should the Egyptians return to attack. You can perform your own investigation of Tuwanu while inside the city.

B. You camp your army outside the city, setting up proper encampments, and send men inside to scavenge for food, though they will not be able to rest up as much as they would have inside the city. Should the Egyptians attack your men would be caught in the open, but you need to investigate and make sure the city is safe.

C. You give your army's a night's rest in makeshift camps and abandon Tuwanu to move on the next day, towards the Egyptian border fortress of Tjaru. Since you're already all the way out here, you might as well go all the way to Memphis.

Chapter 2.4: Tuwanu of the Dead

B takes it.


Chapter 2.4: Tuwanu of the Dead.

The flickering torchlight did not make it easy for you to peruse the records your scouts had gathered from the halls of Tuwanu's missing ruler. You had been here for three days now, reading through sheafs of writing. The records ended just days before your arrival; the last event written down was regarding the arrival of one of the Pharaoh's high priests.

That's... very suspicious, don't you think?
It sounds very very familiar.

It was, especially given your encounter in Memphis a decade ago. At this point you are quite certain that the black monsters had something to do with the disappearance of the city's people. You stand, and walk out of your tent. The men were milling around, keeping themselves busy in the cold night. The air was dry but breezy, and on a clear night such as this the lack of vegetation meant you could see for miles into the distance. Suddenly, the wind halts, and all is silent. You sense a presence in the distance, one you had not felt for some time - the alien entity, or at least, another similar to it. You begin to give orders, alerting the men to get themselves into a prepared state. At few minutes later, a panicked murmur spreads through the camp. One of your adjutants runs to you, dropping to his knees to make his report; the night perimeter scouts had returned, and spoke of a vast Egyptian host marching towards your army under the cover of darkness. They had melted out of the night as if casting aside a shroud. The Egyptians were only an hour away, and you have to make your preparations swiftly.

You order the men to begin getting into formation, backs against the walls. There is no time to retreat behind the walls, and given that you still don't know what happened to the inhabitants, you think it would be a bad idea to put your army inside to await the Egyptians. Your guess is proven correct scant minutes later, when the men closest to the city walls begin shouting. Human-shaped shadows formed on the walls, and at the gates. As you proceed to see what the commotion is about, you spot one of your soldiers poking at the shadow with his spear. With no warning, it swiftly engulfs him, trapping the soldier within. You hear him screaming, and then gurgling... and then silence.

Your army promptly backs away from the city walls in fear. You can tell they're about to cut and run. You thank the voices for not having you put your men within the city, though now you have to do something to prevent them from just scattering and getting hunted down by the approaching Egyptians. That would be extremely counterproductive, especially coming all the way out here. Luckily, their training and military focus pays off, and the veterans, most of whom had been on the flank you saved from the jackal beasts so long ago, were familiar with seemingly supernatural phenomenon. They help calm the other soldiers down, and begin ordering them back into their lines. Some of them have noticed that the shadows in Tuwanu did not venture out of the city - in fact they did not move at all. You get the men to keep a healthy distance away from them.

The shadowy figures of the Egyptian army appear over the horizon. There certainly were many of them, and at least they were human and not sand monsters... but by the way they were moving, most of them did not appear to moving like any living human you know. Lurching, certainly. This might be trouble. It is too late to run anyway.

You'd better make your men a bit braver by giving a little of that dramatic speech, eh?


A. You give a speech about brotherhood and sticking together against all odds, appealing to the pride of being united under the Akkadian Empire. The Egyptians practice foul sorcery and massacre cities, but your strength and steel shall prevail.

B. You give a speech about how you have been guided by the gods to this very spot to cleanse these affronts to nature. You show off your regenerated hand and throw some sparks from it to further 'prove' that you have been blessed by the divine.

C. You let loose a bloody warcry and just start the fucking battle by charging headlong with your chariot. Screw speeches, and screw tactics - you're going to find that alien thing in the army and stomp it quickly. That should end things.

Chapter 2.5: Battle Plans

A 8
B 5
C 1


Chapter 2.5: Battle Plans

You give your best shot at making a rallying speech; you shout, gesticulate, and roar. You pontificate on the glory of fighting back to back with a brother. You laugh off the lurching horde approaching you - surely they are no match for your disciplined warriors. They cheer, but the Akkadians cheer the most. The gist of your speech seemed lost on those from the client-states. It seems that they have come here out of fear of the Egyptians, not out of any loyalty to you or the Akkadian Empire. Still, with the Egyptians from the front and the shadows at the back, they appear to have no choice but to fight. You make your final battle plans.

You have:
200 chariots, each crewed by 3 veterans equipped with spears, shields and bows.
800 Akkadian spear-men, led by 200 veterans, divided into four phalanxes of 250 men each.
400 composite bowmen, an equal mix of veterans and regulars.

The client-states have:
1000 militia
800 javelin auxiliaries
500 bowmen
500 spear-men
50 chariots, crewed by 3 men each
10 camel cavalry

The enemy's composition is still roughly unknown, but they do outnumber you, from what you can observe, though they have only about a hundred or so chariots between them.


1. Front-line Composition

A. The Akkadian army takes the front, with the client-states bringing up the rear. Your greater strength will break the Egyptian advance more easily, allowing the lesser-skilled client-state warriors to mop up.

B. The client-states do not seem to be as steady as your men - you put them in the front. Use them up and throw them away, rather than having them vanish on you once battle is joined.

C. You order the lines to be a mix of units. This should help boost morale for the client-state warriors, though the effectiveness of your own soldiers will be reduced by this.


2. Overall Strategy

A. You play it cautiously, holding your position and letting the enemy come to you while being shot at, using the superior range of your bows. You do not know the extent of their numbers and it would be folly to charge in.

B. You go on the offense - if the enemy traps you between them and the shadows on the Tuwanu walls, the situation would be grim. You have your chariots lead the vanguard of the assault, old-school Akkad style.


3. You...


B. Stay back, directing the battle best as you can. Given the capabilities of the enemy, you need to be able to react to situations as they develop, and you cannot do that in the thick of combat.

C. RUN!!!!! Into the desert you go, your nerves broken by the shadows and the horde.

Chapter 2.6: Cautious Commander











Chapter 2.6: Cautious Commander

The head of a rotting, shambling corpse tumbles to the ground as you dispatch it; you have lost count of how many you have disposed of so far. All around you, men fight, scream and die. Your decision to have your men mixed in with the warriors from the client-states helped to bolster morale all around, but your formations were shoddy and porous as a result of that. The dead warriors of the Egyptians swarmed through holes in your ranks. Your position at the rear of the formation was overwhelmed quickly, and you found yourself in the thick of the battle soon enough. Your army was split up into pockets of resistance amongst the enemy horde, though they fight tenaciously to survive.

Luckily, the rain of arrows you ordered had thinned up the Egyptians enough that their living warriors, riding in chariots, pulled back to allow the mindless zombies to stream ahead and do the dirty work. Your archers had retreated to the back, barely a few metres away from the wall, and there you had ordered them to remain still. Most of your chariots were dismounted around you, as they bat away the oncoming horde. You duck as a curved blade whizzes over your head, and destroy another Egyptian zombie with a swing of your sword. The enemy was fragile and unskilled; a good, clean hit would return them to a state of death, same as it would for any living being. Their numbers were the only real problem. You realize your men will be tired out before they run out of undead to return to the grave. In more rested and disciplined conditions they might have been able to outlast their opponents, but the brutal melee was taxing on a human body. The casualties were beginning to rack up, and you sense that the flow of the battle may tip against you very soon.

You gesture to one of your guards to blow the horn.

You had to reform the lines now, or risk losing your army. As the horn rang out over the battlefield, you see your army beginning to rally together and cut their way slowly through the horde, executing a fighting retreat. The Egyptian commander notices it too, and in the distance you note the torches of the charioteers moving. With another gesture, your own charioteers get back on their carts, and your archers raise their bows. The Egyptian chariots begin to charge. It appears that they have learnt to fear the range of your bows, as a darkness, blacker than the night itself, envelops the chariots to throw off your archers. The first volley does not catch many of the chariots, as they fade in and out of the shadows.

You order the horn to be blown again.

Your army, caught within the undead horde, start jostling around and hunkering down into position. The presence of the un-drilled client-state warriors makes the progress slower than you would like, but soon they were all huddled up behind their shields. The darkness melts away from the Egyptian chariots, and they smash into the melee indiscriminately, attempting to cut down friend and foe alike. Right on cue, your well trained archers release the second volley, this time right at the chaotic battleground itself. Your tactic appears to have kept friendly fire to a minimum, though executing this at night has its risks. The arrows fell both zombies and chariots easily. You feel the alien presence again, this time right in the thick of the battle.

The horn blows a third time.

You charge, leading your chariots in. You head right for the presence. Your chariots trample down all in their way as you lead the formation to weave between the pockets of your own men. You spot the distinctive headgear of an Egyptian priest; without pausing, you run right over the man wearing it. A few dozen chariots follow after, crushing bones and tearing flesh. You wheel around to finish the job. Suddenly, your sight is blinded as everything goes black, and you feel something smashing into you. You hit the ground and roll to your feet almost instantly. As your sight recovers, you see the black tendrils again. The broken body of the priest, moving according to the will of the monster inside it, crawls towards you. You feel the palpable disgust and fear from your men.

The monster pounces at you again and you have no time to draw your axe. You grapple with it. The tendrils wrap around you and begin eating into your flesh, but knowing that those wounds will heal, you press ahead, attempting to reach its back and rip the core out. This one proves stronger than the one you engaged outside Memphis, though, even with the serious wounds your chariots have inflicted upon it. You lose your grip, and the tendrils manage to secure your limbs, holding them apart. Even with your mighty strength, you are unable to break free. Your men rush to free you, but they are captured by the tendrils themselves and begin screaming in pain as their flesh is devoured by the creature. You grit your teeth and focus.


A. You summon all your mental strength and attempt to hammer the creature with a tremendous telekinetic blow.

B. You plunge your mind into the alien creature's, seeking to rip apart its mental psyche with a psionic assault.

C. You command your body to change its shape, allowing you to slip free of the tendrils' grip.

Chapter 2.7: Misstep

You can't resurrect him in an undead state, you'd only be helping along his regeneration. It is possible to keep him subservient with the right mix of powers, yes.

B by a landslide, it seems. Oh well.


Chapter 2.7: Misstep

Let's fry the critter's mind! Yeaaaa-

In hindsight, it may not have been the brightest idea to go bravely diving into the mind of a creature you barely comprehend, with powers you have yet to test. Your brutal, unskilled assault on the thing's psyche works, fragmenting it into a million pieces, but in the process a psychic backlash travels back along the pathway you have created for your attack. Before you can put up a defense of your own, a flood of mental activity gushes into your brain. Terrible, unknowable thoughts fill your mind. You see rapid flashes of weird and twisted scenery, with structures that seem to twist around themselves, defying comprehension. You see pillars of light rain down from the heavens, destroying the twisted towers with fire. Strange and horrible creatures live, grow and die. Their tendrils stretch towards a big, blue marble suspended in an endless void.

It's time to pull out of here, man!

The voices cut in and out of your mind, trying to snap you out of it. You barely register the tendrils loosening their grip as you collapse to the ground, and sink into sweet, merciful darkness.


Wake up. Wake up, boy.

You snap open your eyes. It is dark and musty, and cold. You take a few moments, staring into the gloom, to get the measure of your surroundings. You appear to be lying on a slab of stone. You get to your feet, and begin walking. All around you are stone walls, and pillars, and carvings you do not recognize.

Not to spoil the surprise, but we've been calling you for ages.

You ignore the voices. Time certainly has passed - that much you know, but how much? The voices are unsure. Apparently they were put into sleep for quite some time from the backlash. The path brings you to a dead end illuminated by sunlight. You look up, and begin to climb the wall. It does not take long before you are out of the dark halls. You look around you, and find a familiar sight.


The city was more abandoned and decrepit than you had left it. Its walls and buildings were crumbling away. The cold wind sweeping in from the direction of the sea awakens your senses. You close your eyes, and stretch out your mind. You are surprised to find that you can now reach further than ever. All you find throughout the area around the city, though, are camels and lizards and birds. There were no human minds to touch. You turn and look at the ruins you had emerged from. Above them was an arch, upon which was carved a sentence in Sumerian:

"Here sleeps King Ean of the Akkadian Empire, who shall awaken one day to lead us to glory."

You were sleeping a long time.
It had to be so... your mind didn't seem able to handle all the knowledge the thing held.

The fragmentation of the creature's mind under your assault had another side effect other than putting you into a coma - you were now haunted by glimpses of knowledge from their alien civilization. There was a whole repository of knowledge buried within your mind, but to access it in its entirety would probably do worse to your brain. It would be ill-advised to attempt such a stunt, and you decide to decipher it slowly. It may take you decades, or even centuries, but sooner or later all their secrets will be open to you.

You wonder what you should do next. You should probably seek to find out what has happened during your slumber.


A. You head towards Egypt. The Egyptians have a debt to pay, and their history of collaboration with those monsters means that you can probably find out a thing or two on the way towards reclaiming that debt, even if you have to leave a trail of bodies all the way to Memphis.

B. You head towards Sumeria. Has the Akkadian Empire prospered in your absence, or has it fallen? You need to know, and possibly retake your seat of power. Ten years was not enough to implement all the reforms you had planned, and there is more you have to do in Mesopotamia.

C. You head north, up the Levantine coast and into the Anatolian plains. You feel like exploring new lands, and what better time than now? The wilderness beckons.

Chapter 2.8: Sumeria Again

A 1
B 10
C 4

Back to Sumeria we go!


Chapter 2.8: Sumeria Again

"I am Shulgi. I shall raise my head at the end of the tyrant's reign. I will return to Akkad. I will renew Girsu and Lagash. I will construct my sanctuary for the gods. I will restore the blessings of the Earth."
~ an unknown priest preaching the Shulgi prophecy.

"The King sleeps, in the West. The Curse befell him, and the Curse befell Akkad. Let our future sons take heed. The King will overcome Ereshkigal and wake. The King will return, and Ereshkigal's Curse will be no more."
~ fragment of a tale kept by the Sons of Marduk.


The Akkadian Empire, which you ruled for a mere ten years, was no more. As you journeyed towards Sumeria, you collected the various different myths and legends that have sprung up around its collapse.

"Ereshkigal's dark creature could not withstand Marduk's strength, blessed by Enlil. In a strong gust of wind, it vanished. In being banished to the Underworld, Ereshkigal's champion dragged the God's soul with it. Marduk was Cursed, and he slept. His loyal spears built him a resting house and stayed guard for fifty cycles." proclaimed a storyteller you met in Emar.

"Shulgi returned after a hundred cycles in the waters of Enki, as his priests had predicted. He sat at the head of the gods. None could defy him. All bowed before him. He wed Ninhursag to restore the Earth. The land, afflicted by a Curse since the slumber of Ean, revived." preached a priest of Shulgi in Mari.

"The demon Shulgi drained the vitality from the land with a devastating flood. Crops withered and flocks died. Akkad grew weak under the Curse. His reign was long and terrible, lasting more than a hundred cycles. The kings of the great cities of Sumeria rose against him but to no avail. They were destroyed by his black sorcery and his vile champion, Humbaba." whispered an old man in Ashur.

"A wandering shepherd, claiming to bear the light of Enlil, entered Akkad in the hundred and sixth year of Shulgi's reign. Anu was with him. Inanna was with him. The city of Akkad was burnt to the ground by pillars of light from the heavens, as punishment for Shulgi's wickedness." read a tablet you discovered near the ruined walls of Akkad.

Akkad itself was no more, and had been gone for more than a hundred years; you had slept for nearly three hundred. The once fertile farms around Akkad, which you had tried so desperately to restore, was gone. Your name is barely even remembered, as your feats were now ascribed to a new god, Marduk. A small cult named the Sons of Marduk had sprung up around your personal myth, preaching of your return, though they wield little influence. A short reign of ten years had been overshadowed by Shulgi's rule of a hundred. Of your legacy, you notice that your introduction of the horse and a proper wheel has aided in increasing trade, as the people have invented better, faster and more comfortable wagons. The armies of the city-states of Sumeria still practice the drills you introduced, though their weaponry has stagnated. Significant advances have been made in other aspects of life, though. Oil lamps had been put on every street, at every corner. Outside of the ruins of Akkad, farms in other cities were thriving with new practices claimed to have been passed down by Shulgi, who was called a demon or a god depending on who you asked. There was even a rudimentary mechanism by which water was piped directly into the homes of the richer citizens of the city.

Sumeria was fragmented at the moment. The collapse of Akkad had left a power vacuum, and the city-states currently struggle for supremacy over each other and reunite the former territories of the Empire. The rising powers are Assyria to the north, and Babylonia to the south. You wonder where your fellow immortals are...

The year is 2000 B.C.


A. You make contact with the Sons of Marduk, who are based in Sippar, the nearest city to what is left of Akkad. With their aid you proclaim your divine return and take power to battle Assyria and Babylonia, and restore the Akkadian Empire.

B. You offer your services to one of the two powers of Sumeria. You plan to climb your way up the ranks of the court, and work something out from there. There have been rumours of weird occurrences within the ruling ranks of both Assyria and Babylonia, and you wonder if the black creatures are involved...

B1 for Assyria.
B2 for Babylonia.

C. You leave Sumeria, your curiosity satisfied. An immortal life stretches out ahead of you, and you would like to take the opportunity to explore the world and embark on greater adventures.

C1 to head West, towards Egypt and the desert.
C2 to head East, into the exotic kingdoms of Central Asia.
C3 to head North, travelling along the Mediterranean towards the Grecian coast.

D. You remain in Sumeria, but incognito. You settle down and live a quiet life without arousing suspicion, moving from place to place. As you do, you try to introduce new technology and progress into the lives of the Sumerians, helping them as best as you can.

Interlude: Ean, Sumerian Wanderer (circa 2000 B.C.)

Ean, Wanderer from Sumeria
circa 2000 B.C.

Physical capabilities:

Has surpassed peak human levels. Can lift up to 500 kg and run at speeds of more than 60 km/h. Physical exhaustion is no longer a factor.

Esoteric powers:

Telepathy – can read emotions from a great distance, depending on the intensity and mental strength of the subject. Intentions can be understood in close proximity. Touching someone allows direct reading of the mind; at this time you can read anything up to a day from a person's current thoughts.

Telekinesis – able to rattle, knock around and levitate objects. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Body manipulation – has developed the ability to control slight changes, such as little wrinkles, slightly differently shaped eyes, hair colour, and other minute modifications to the body.

Elemental manipulation – can perform minor manipulation of earth, water, wind and fire; making pits in the ground, moving little sprays of water, summoning a strong breeze, and creating small gouts of flame. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Psionics - able to unskillfuly scramble a person's mind with physical contact, leaving them in a catatonic state. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Restoration - able to heal others of small cuts and wounds visible to the naked eye. Requires tremendous amounts of concentration and will exhaust Ean easily.

Regeneration ability:

Average. Small cuts can fully heal in minutes, while more serious wounds may take days. Missing parts can take months to recover, depending on the complexity and size of the part.


Takes care of his followers, and loyal to his friends. Undertakes his responsibilities seriously. Amenable to bending the truth a little for his own benefit at times. Slightly bitter from the loss of his empire, and dislikes the Gieloth.

Chapter Three: The Sands of Egypt

Chapter 3.1: End of the Old Kingdom

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Chapter 3.1: End of the Old Kingdom

The voices urge you to travel back towards Egypt...

The Old Kingdom of Egypt had not fared much better than the Akkadian Empire. As with Mesopotamia, the climate took a change for the worse soon after you were brought into your deathly slumber. The great Nile floundered and failed to rise to its once great levels. Agriculture and trade in Egypt were severely affected, and it did not take long for brother to turn against brother, ripping the Old Kingdom apart in civil war. All this you learnt soon after your arrival in Memphis, the ancient seat of power. That power has greatly declined, however, and the Memphites now struggle against the Heracleopolitans and the Thebans to reunite Egypt under one Pharaoh. A new cult had emerged amongst the Memphites, favored by the current Pharaoh of Memphis, Wankare. Amidst the displeasure of his subjects, he had decreed an end of the worship of the Sun God Ra. Heliopolis, once the center of the sun cult, had become the center of worship for what you instantly recognize to be a black-tendriled monster.

Your long journey back to Egypt has given you time to uncover a bit more knowledge about these nemeses of yours from your once-scrambled mind. These things call themselves the Gieloth, and they hail from beyond the stars. They appear to feed on humans in some way, though you still don't know what exactly they devour from men.

Gieloth worship appears to be prevalent only in Memphis, and the other Egyptian rivals for power do not appear to be influenced - or at least, the monsters haven't openly shown their hand there. That they now dared to be worshipped openly means that Memphis must be their stronghold of power in this part of the world. Now that you are in Egypt, could you do something about this? The Gieloth have yet to discover your arrival, and whatever move you make next may reveal your presence.


A. You remain in Memphis to deal with that wanker of a Pharaoh. By assassinating the main supporter of the Gieloth, you can then proceed with a plan to turn the Egyptians against their black-tendriled puppetmasters.

B. You head to Heliopolis. As the religious center for Gieloth worship, scourging the place should bring down the religion quickly and show the people that the things are not to be feared.

C. You leave to assist the rivals of Memphis against it. You plan to provide aid and counsel to Heracleopolis and Thebes so that they may prevail and help you smash the Gieloth.

Intermission: The Gieloth Cult

Intermission: The Gieloth Cult

"Our lords crawled from a fallen star. Our lords were three. Abbaseth ruled the sands. Pahnrath ruled the night. Sekhenun ruled man and beast alike. Our lords raise us to be gods as they are. Lord Abbaseth walked among us to protect our city. Lord Pahnrath came among us and told us the secrets of the dead. Lord Sekhenun raised man to be as the lords.The Ilu Limnu from the East was jealous of them. The Ilu Limnu led a vast army of evil spirits to destroy our lords. Lord Abbaseth and Pahnrath were slain by the demon."
~ an excerpt from the records of a Gieloth priest circa 2150 B.C.

The Gieloth have been revered as gods as far back as the Third Dynasty of Egypt, long before you obtained your own immortality. Their cult was usually content to stay in the shadows. Some three hundred years ago, two of the three 'lords' of the cult were destroyed by a being from the East called the Ilu Limnu. You think that this was a reference to your doing. Since then, they began to step up their preparations to rule openly. They finally succeeded by getting their hooks into Pharaoh Wankare's father, Acthose, who dared not declare his worship openly at the time, but indoctrinated his son into the religion. Acthose died mysteriously, and when Wankare took power, he immediately acted in favour of the cult. Currently the cult has priests in every city under Wankare's control, though they have been banned in Heracleopolitan and Theban territories. There is little love for the cult amongst the people of Egypt, but the higher ranking officers in the standing army have been infiltrated by it with Wankare's blessing, and military support maintains the cult's standing in the kingdom.

Heliopolis was desecrated by the Gieloth, and apparently the last remaining lord, Sekhenun, makes his throne there as the true power behind Egypt. He is attended to by a population of three thousand cultists. There appear to be a smattering of lesser lords, minor deities, who are called Children of Sekhenun, present in both Heliopolis and Memphis. Every week, six young men and six young women, selected by cultists from the cities of the Nile Delta, are sent into the Great Temple of Heliopolis as tribute to Sekhenun. They are never seen again. From what you can gather, Sekhenun's powers are to 'raise man to be as the lords'. Every fifty years or so, some prominent cultist is selected to become a Child of Sekhenun. Somehow, Sekhenun transforms the cultist to become an existence akin to the Gieloth themselves.

Upon knowing all this, you make your decision.

The last of the Gieloth Lords of Egypt will also fall by your hand.

Let's go for the triple kill, brother.

Chapter 3.2: Before Heliopolis

Too late, the die is cast!


Chapter 3.2: Before Heliopolis

There were a few ways you could enter Heliopolis. The walls were twenty metres high - you could scale them, but it would be terribly suspicious if you were to be spotted. The gates were guarded, though they remain open because of the constant streams of tribute from all over the Nile Delta. You could walk right in, but only if you find the right excuse. You could pretend to be a pilgrim or one of the weekly human tributes. From what you know, there are no secret escape tunnels under the walls, unlike Sargon's Akkad.

Of course, you could boldly walk up to the gates and start a slaughter from there.

You prepare your supplies; rope, torches, and a couple of daggers. You no longer have access to a great treasury, and have to make do with what you can scrounge up from the alleys of Memphis. Before you embark on your journey, though, you may still have some things to do in Memphis. It is a huge, bustling city despite the hard times it has fallen on recently. Using your abilities, you feel confident of recruiting a small team of capable men and women to assist you, should you decide not to go it alone.


A. Scale the walls under the cover of night, sneaking into Heliopolis.

B. Pretend to be a humble believer, and sneak in with a pilgrim caravan.

C. Replace a human tribute and get sent right into the Great Temple to meet Sekhenun.

D. Tear the fucking gates off the walls and begin the purge. ALL TENTACLES MUST DIE.


1. Hit up Memphis to recruit people to aid you in your planned expedition.

2. Go it alone.

Chapter 3.3: Heliopolis - The Night Before the Storm

A1 - 1
B1 - 5
C2 - 3
D1 - 1
D2 - 4

B1 takes it by a just a bit. Time for some infiltration. As per request I've included some extra equipment which would not be too inconspicuous for a cover story - it'll be detailed where relevant.


Chapter 3.3: Heliopolis - The Night Before the Storm

You reach Heliopolis at dusk, travelling with a caravan of faithful pilgrims. With you are four companions that you had recruited in Memphis and probed with your mental capabilities. You were confident that they would be suitable for the task you plan to undertake.

Kamun and Samun, brothers and ex-soldiers who had deserted the Egyptian army after the Gieloth cult took hold. Handy with weapons.

Akil, son of a Heliopolis priest who was ceremoniously fed to the new god during the take-over. He knows the city and the temple's layout well, and has many contacts within the city. He was kind enough to spot you some coin to outfit yourself better, back in Memphis.

Mutyre, a singer you picked up at a public house. Well-skilled in the arts of thievery, she was orphaned at a young age and was forced to live as a street urchin. She used to run with some tomb-robbers, and is fairly good at picking out booby-traps.

What a band of minions - did you really pick them off the streets?
At least it's more distractions you can toss at the things.

You'll take what you can get. The guards wave you into Heliopolis with little problem - they do not even look at the pilgrims as they filter through the gate - it seems that security is not very tight here. Still, it was a smart move to disguise Kamun and Samun as caravan guards so that they could walk around with shields and axes on display. The cult is confident that no one would dare harm them, and on the streets of Heliopolis the cultists strut around, secure in their status. Obelisks dot the city, proclaiming the superiority of Lord Sekhenun. Many other stone pillars have been toppled and litter the ground; they probably belong to the sun god who has been dethroned. A great step pyramid towers above you, dominating the city's landscape. The sun sinks behind the step pyramid, turning the sky a dark purple.

"The Temple of the Sun." whispers Akil. That is your destination.

Upon reaching a tavern, Akil pays for a room, and leads everyone to it. You freshen up, and look at your companions. They seem to be a bit tired from the journey. A loud gong rings out, signalling the start of the fifth prayer ritual of the day. Apparently the Gieloth cultists have three prayers each day, and the courtyard in front of the pyramid would be thronged with the faithful. The prayers were officiated by Children of Sekhenun. Before you can say anything, though, Akil speaks up. You already know what he is going to say, though.

"Master Runi," he calls you - for that is what you have introduced you by, "I would like to propose a plan. For years now we have been planning to restore the God Ra to his position. The old priests that hide out in Heliopolis know of a ritual that will allow Ra to descend and defeat the evil Sekhenun, but we need the Sceptre of the Sun to do so. That sceptre is within the Temple of the Sun. I know that you have come here to slay Sekhenun, but I believe divine aid will help you do so more easily."

Samun gives a small snort. "Why did the priests not use it in the first place when that thing came to occupy Ra's temple?" Kamun sighs and says, "The ways of the gods are mysterious. We'll leave this decision up to you, boss."

"It's just mere superstition, but if we're going into the temple, it might not hurt to search for the Sceptre too." says Mutyre. You look back at Akil. "How will this ritual be conducted?"

"The ritual must be conducted at the top of the Temple of the Sun. The Temple itself is guarded, but all throughout the city my contacts are ready to fan the flames of rebellion. Once we have started the distraction, the priests will be able to reach the Temple and conduct the ritual when the sun is at its zenith. All we have been waiting for was just a chance to enter the Temple and obtain the Sceptre, as we could not find anyone brave enough to volunteer."

"I guess it was a good stroke of luck for you that I happened along, eh?" you grin. Reading him, you know that had you not appeared, his 'rebellion' would have waited forever to find someone willing to enter the temple. It could be a waste of time to hunt for the sceptre, but a rebellion as a distraction would be useful.

Tonight, you will plan and rest. You consider the choices that are laid out before you.

The Gieloth cult conducts three prayers; at dawn, noon and dusk. Each gathering will be thronged with Heliopolis cultists and pilgrims, swelling the number of people in the courtyard to a few thousand. There were two viable entrances to the temple if you wanted to get in undetected - a side entrance, lightly guarded at times of prayer, and a secret tunnel that Akil claims was commissioned by his father.

There always are secret tunnels, aren't there.

Alternatively, you could always just march right in through the front door and start the killing.

1. When to Enter
A. You enter during a time of prayer (specify the time).
B. You enter outside a time of prayer (specify the time).

2. How to Enter
A. Through the side entrance.
B. Through the secret tunnel.
C. Through the front door.

3. Akil's Rebellion
A. You tell Akil you agree with his plan, and tell him to contact the rebels. To coordinate your timing, he will be occupied with the rebellion and can't guide you through the temple.
B. You tell Akil you will not carry out his plan, and tell him to keep your own scheme a secret from the rebels. He will come along and guide you through the temple.

Chapter 3.4: Beneath the Temple

Chapter 3.4: Underneath the Temple

"We won't need the Sceptre, Akil."

The young man was crestfallen that you decided not to go along with his plan. You know that he had been betting all his hopes on you aiding him to overthrow the Gieloth cult. "Master Runi, without the Sceptre, we will not be able to defeat Sekhenun! Only Ra's mighty fire can scourge the evil god from his temple!"

You raise your hand to silence his protest.

"First things first - how good are your rebels at fighting, Akil?"

"Well, we've had some practice... some of them served with the Heliopolis militia and have taught us how to fight."

"Have they ever fought in a real battle before?"

"N-no, sir."

"Secondly, how many of them are there?"

"There's more than five hundred of us, and we're all willing to lay our lives down to defeat these heathens!"

"That's five hundred lives on your hands, Akil. Their deaths are on you. There are a few thousand cultists, and like it or not, your friends will die. Can you live with that, knowing that they would have lived if you had not raised the banner for revolt?"


"You are not cut out for this, Akil. Trust me. I know of a way to destroy Sekhenun for good, without sacrificing the lives of your friends. It is enough that we risk our own lives to save theirs." Inwardly you hope that what worked against Sekhenun's brethren will work for him - or else your bravado would be for naught. "We will sneak into the Temple at the next dusk prayer, using Akil's secret tunnel." Akil looks down, disappointed. You sense that he is not fully convinced of your ability to take on the Gieloth without divine aid.

"Time to get some rest then, brother." Samun nods at Kamun, and the both of them prepare to turn in. Mutyre had apparently nodded off, it seems, on her own bed. You look out the window. The Temple of the Sun, blacker than the night itself, looms in the darkness.


The tunnel entrance was in a hole under some planks of wood, in an abandoned shack close to the temple. There were very little guards around - you had counted only three as you made your way from the inn to the shack - most of them had flocked to the courtyard to attend dusk prayers.

Loyal little drones, aren't they?

You and your companions descend down the ladder carefully. Twilight has taken away most of the natural light available. You reach the bottom of the ladder first, and light your torch. The others do the same as they join you.

"I guess the cultists were too stupid to think that there was a tunnel here." quips Mutyre confidently. "Maybe. Only the high priest and my father knew of this entrance. It was how I escaped the temple when they came." Akil replies, in a subdued manner. You gesture at him. "Lead the way, then."

Akil walks to the front of the group nervously, and begins to head deeper into the tunnel. It is narrow enough that you have to travel in single file. You follow, and then Mutyre, with the soldier brothers bringing up the rear. The tunnel was roughly carved, and did not exhibit the same polish the Egyptians usually applied to their stoneworking - clearly made for a more utilitarian purpose. As you proceed, the air grows colder. "Where will this tunnel lead to?" Kamun whispers from the back of the line. "It's a bit cramped." Kamun and Samun were considerably bulkier than you, and the narrow tunnel was a tight squeeze for their frame. "We'll come out in the kitchens."

"Oh good, I hope there's food. The dates we had for dinner weren't very filling." laughed Mutyre.

"That's strange." Akil stopped suddenly. You nearly walk into him. You sense a strong feeling of puzzlement from him. "What's wrong?"

"The path branches into three ways. This wasn't here when I came through here before."

"You were here as a child, weren't you? You might have missed it." offered Mutyre.

"No, I don't think so. I remember seeing the plans Father gave the workers. The tunnel does not branch. This was not here before."

"The cultists know about this tunnel, then. That's the simplest explanation." you say. "They are the only ones who would have the opportunity to expand it."

It's the simplest explanation, but it doesn't make things simple for you.
So, where to now? Should you probe the path a bit?

The voices give a sound suggestion. You tell your companions to wait a bit, and squeeze your way past Akil to stand at the fork. The leftmost path tilts slightly upward, and the air is warmer. The central path keeps at your current level, and widens out a few steps beyond the fork. The rightmost path tilts slightly downward, and grows narrower. The air wafting from that passage is cold.

You close your eyes and spread your mind out cautiously, only probing tentatively lest you give yourselves away. The leftmost path leads to a group of humans... cultists. There is a feeling of pleasure and contentment. Probably it is the way to the kitchens that Akil mentioned.. There are other humans in the central path - in that direction you feel fear, loathing and a sense of resignation from them. There is also a weak alien presence... probably one of the Children. In the rightmost path, there is again a Child of Sekhenun, but beyond that there is a strange barrier you cannot penetrate. You feel the Child on the rightmost path begin heading up the pathway, towards your party.

You must decide, and decide quickly.


A. You move up the left path, towards the kitchens. Best to stick to the original plan. Humans you can deal with swiftly and without any fuss.

B. You go straight, on the central path. Judging from their emotions, it is possible that the humans there are prisoners of the Gieloth - if so, freeing them can gain you information and more aid to defeat the cult.

C. You charge down the right passageway. The Child does not know you are here - your telepathy assures you of that. You can surprise it, defeat it, and check out the strange barrier. You suspect it is a shortcut to Sekhenun.

Chapter 3.5: Fight in the Dark

C still takes it.


Chapter 3.5: Fight in the Dark

You beckon to your companions to follow you, and move quickly down the right passageway. You think to surprise the creature, and take advantage of that surprise to dispose of it. You feel it drawing closer. You break into a light jog - the narrowness of the passageway restricts your freedom of motion. In fact, it grows more and more narrow as you head further down... this may not be good. You can barely fight here. Your movement slows down, and you are forced to begin moving carefully as the rocks get in the way of your limbs. The grunts and complaints of Samun and Kamun far behind you tell you that the two brothers probably cannot get any further and have blocked up the whole passageway.

It was too late to turn back now - the Child was approaching at a quick pace, and it would catch up with you before you could retreat successfully. How could the Child move in such a confined space? As you round a particularly tight corner, you have your answer. You hear a horrified gasp from Mutyre, following behind you.

The Child wears the body of a priest, but barely. The limbs are horribly elongated, and with every step the flesh appears to squeeze along the walls. The way the body bends shows you that bones are no longer a factor in its movement. It stops as it spots you. You sense alarm, puzzlement, and panic. No time to complain about the tightness of the space. You act.

You sweep your left hand forward in an underarm throw. Your arm scrapes against the rocky walls, drawing blood, but you ignore it. The dagger in your hand flies true and embeds itself in the Child's head. It lets out an inhuman shriek, and at that moment you draw closer swiftly, forcing your way through the narrow, rocky path. At times rock gives way, at other times your flesh. No matter. Reaching the Child, which is scrabbling at the dagger in its forehead with long, thin fingers, you smash it in the face with your torch-wielding hand and grab its head with the other, preparing to scramble its mind. The skin of the body bursts open as the black tendrils finally flow out in desperation and wrap themselves around you.

The Child shrieks again, and a brilliant blue glow surrounds the tendrils. There is a slight tingling sensation, and then a painful jolt that wracks your entire body. Sparks fly. A crackling, sizzling sound resonates in the musty tunnel. The glow subsides, and as you recover, you feel even more surprise coming from the Child of Sekhenun. It seems that you are the first to resist this attack without being knocked out.

You press your advantage and grip the tendrils surrounding you. They begin to glow blue again, and you realize you have to free yourself before the next attack comes. With a mighty pull, you rip the tendrils off the monster's body. The thing falls back, crying out in pain and fear. As you stride towards its fallen form, you see it start to flow out of the host, trying desperately to escape you. In its black, jelly-like form, it manages to crawl down the narrow tunnel faster than you can catch it. You curse your luck and try to catch up to the blob slithering away into the darkness.

Rounding another ludicrously tight corner, you come face to face with the barrier your mind could not penetrate before. It was a mundane looking little wooden door, set into the tunnel's dead-end. The Child must have escaped through here, but the door was closed now. You cannot sense what is on the other side. It is a total blank wall in your telepathic perception. As you reach to push it open, the voices murmur. Danger lies on the other side.

Mutyre and Akil finally catch up, panting. Their clothes are ragged from navigating the narrow tunnel. You feel their horror at having seen the Child's form, and also admiration at your ability to defeat one with your bare hands. They say nothing while they regain their breath. It looks like Samun and Kamun were too big to make it down the tunnel.

You look at the door again. Small, wooden, innocuous. There were no carvings or markings of any kind.


A. You ask one of your companions to open the door. After all, this is what you brought them along for. You should recuperate for a while and get ready to face whatever lies beyond - your strength is in combat, not opening totally harmless-looking doors.

B. You leave the door alone and head back. The voices appear to feel danger from the other side, and you might want to explore the rest of the tunnels and the temple to get more information.

C. Fuck the door. The Child is beyond. The Child has tentacles. That's all you need to know. You kick the stupid wooden door down, smashing it into pieces, and stride through into whatever lies beyond. ALL TENTACLES MUST DIE.

Chapter 3.6: Incubator

Chapter 3.6: Incubator

You step back from the door.

“Could you take a look at this for any traps?” you ask.

Mutyre comes to your side, and peers at the wooden door. “Hold this for me, Akil, and give me some light to work with.” She passes her torch to Akil, and begins to run her fingers across the door deftly, muttering as she works. You lean back in the gloom, watching the both of them, and feel your flesh begin knitting itself together.

“The door seems safe. I can’t find anything wrong with it at all. It’s just a door.” concludes Mutyre, completing her investigation. You make to go over and open the door yourself, but before you can say anything, she pushes the door open, and walks in. Akil follows her without a word.

You hurry to catch up with them. The other side of the door is utterly dark, and you still can’t hear or sense a thing from within. The lights from their torches have been extinguished. You call out to them. “Akil? Mutyre?” No response. You take a deep breath and brace yourself – you can’t abandon them now – before walking into the unknown. You take a step into the chamber beyond.

You hear the door closing behind you. The floor is… soft. It squishes when you step on it. Almost immediately, you feel a wet, slimy substance slapping on your face and wrapping around your limbs tightly. The torch goes out, smothered by the mysterious substance. You feel tendrils entering your ears, probing into your brain – they go in deep, uncovering your purpose here, your immortality, your knowledge of the Gieloth... As suddenly and as quickly as it begins, the probe stops. The substance falls away from you, leaving you gasping.


You hear a smooth, feminine voice in your mind, the sentences floating in and out of existence.

so you are the one who defeated Pahnrath
you made what you stole from Pahnrath your own, immortal

It’s Sekhenun.

it looks like her body still recognizes her own mind

Quick, get some light!

Your torch is gone, but you hold your hand aloft and conjure a small orb of flame. The flickering fire lights up the chamber you are in, allowing you to see where you truly are. It is not a pleasant sight, and part of you wishes you did not see it.
The room is not very big. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all lined with a shiny, black slime. There are ten large translucent sacs protruding from the slime. Dark veins run all along the sacs, and within you can see smaller Gieloth curled up into a mass of tendrils. They move and shift as you look at them. Closer to you, Akil and Mutyre have been trapped in the slime. They are held aloft, eyes closed, as black tendrils swarm all over their body. Your telepathy and your other psychic abilities are not working here. This room appears to be insulated from outside influences, just like –

a womb

You can see the source of the voice now. A young woman, dressed in golden jewelry fit for the Pharaoh himself. Dressed only in golden jewelry. There is plenty of her tanned skin on display, and even in your current circumstances you can’t help but admire her lithe form.

Keep yourself focused! This is why we told you to visit more brothels, dammit!

The voices do have a point. You stare at her, straight in the eyes. The woman opens her mouth and speaks, in the same voice that spoke to you directly.

“Pahnrath lost her mind, but I managed to rescue her body for other uses. Now she nurtures and teaches the children. They sleep in her sacs, and she gives of herself to make them stronger.” Sekhenun walks over to one of the sacs and places a wonderfully manicured hand on it. “You were the one that hurt this child, weren’t you? Even now it recovers, thanks to Pahnrath.” You can’t tell whether the Gieloth slumbering in that sac was the one you attacked just moments before. They all look the same to you. It squicks you out a bit to know that you are standing inside a Gieloth, though.

“So, why are you here, immortal? Are you here to complete the job and kill the last sister of the House of Me’kras? Or are we here to exchange words? ” She looks at you, expressionless, her dark eyes glittering in the fire you held up. “Then again, a dog of the gods can do nothing but hunt now, can it?”

Wow, this is a wordy one. Her siblings seemed more single-minded. Are you going to kill her now?
Don’t believe anything this tentacled bitch tells you, but we shouldn’t have to tell you that, yeah? Also, these things don’t really have ‘she’ and ‘he’, if you get what I mean, so don’t get distracted!

You keep quiet and think for a while. You cast another look at Akil and Mutyre. They remain unchanged, but you know you cannot afford to take your attention off Sekhenun to free them. She could beam her voice into your head, but she appears uncertain of your purpose here. What the remnants of Pahnrath found in your mind doesn’t appear to become part of her knowledge. Her telepathic abilities might be dampened by the nature of the room too, just like yours. The room itself shouldn’t harm you, as it recognizes you as itself. These are the things you speculate on, as you think furiously to find a way out of your situation. If any of your guesses prove false...

But there is one thing you can bet on.

You might be able to defeat Sekhenun here, if the contest comes down to just pure physical strength.


A. You leap at Sekhenun, relying on your physical ability to win the day. You’ve fought Gieloth face to face before, and you are confident in your strength to succeed. You cannot sustain your fire while you fight - you'll just have to rely on your instincts to battle in the darkness.

B. You light up the place with your fire. BURN ALL TENTACLES! This should distract Sekhenun enough that you can free Akil and Mutyre, before deciding whether to fight or flee.

C. You engage in Gieloth diplomacy. She might tell you more about this conflict between the voices and the Gieloth that you have found yourself unwittingly participating in. Besides, this is the first Gieloth you have met that hasn’t wrapped you up in tentacles and tried to eat you.

D. You turn and run, kicking that fucking wooden door to pieces as you bravely charge back into the tunnel. It is a very bad idea to fight a Gieloth while standing inside another Gieloth. Who knows what could happen?

Chapter 3.7: Smothered Flames

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A - 3
B - 7
C - 6

Chapter 3.7: Smothered Flames

You know, maybe we should talk to her.
Oh I can't believe this, we have a tentacle-lover in our midst! Traitor!
Well, those black wriggly things do kinda look hot...

You are surprised. A small part of the voices are in favour of trying to resolve this by talking to the Gieloth. The voices begin to get bogged down in debate. If you could add your will to the minority of the voices now, you might be able to use their split to do something that you have never done before...

You decide not to. The voices complete their consensus, and you act.

Light 'em up, sonny!

You toss the orb of fire at Sekhenun. She does not seem surprised, and makes no effort to move. Instead, she puts one hand on the wall and gives you a winning smile. It seems that the Egyptians practice good oral hygiene. A curtain of black slime drops down from the ceiling. The fire splashes against it, burning the slime. There's no time to waste - you conjure gouts of flames from your hands, trying to light up the entire room. The slime roils as the fire scorches it. Where your fire lands, it continues to burn. You run at Mutyre and Akil, throwing some fire at the slime around them. The tendrils' grip on their bodies noticeably loosen, and you rip them off the wall. Their bodies flop lifelessly to the ground. Silently, quickly, you check their breathing. They're still alive, but don't appear to be regaining consciousness anytime soon.

Unfortunately, your fight is not yet over. You realize the light is going out. Looking around, you see the slime rolling over the fire like a wave, extinguishing the flames as easily as you had made them.

"That was very noble of you, saving your companions and taking your eyes off me." You hold your hand out again and create another orb of fire. In your other hand you draw your sword. Sekhenun is still standing where she was, hand on the wall, smiling. In the next instant, the slime begins to rise up, wrapping around your legs. The pressure is stronger than before, and you feel the bones in your feet begin to creak. You try to break free, but the hold is strong and you are unable to do so immediately. "You know, I rather fancy a good, long chat with you. You are exhibiting some very interesting behaviour for a dog. They tend not to act as you do after so many years..." As the slime reaches your waist, you hear a loud gasp from Sekhenun.

She looks behind her. You notice a small stone stairway leading upwards. In the next instant, the pressure around you loosens, as the slime settles down. Sekhenun snaps her head back and glares at you, her smile gone from her face.

"Leave my temple now, immortal. Your murder of my sisters was unfortunate, but understandable, and I won't seek vengeance for it. You may come after me again if you wish, but I must ask you to leave now."

That last word resonated in your mind as well as your ears. You sense a tremendous pressure radiating from Sekhenun - it is so strong that you can feel it even with your telepathy disabled. She appears to be extremely agitated and distracted by something that has just happened.


A. You beat a calculated retreat, dragging Mutyre and Akil's unconscious bodies with you. Once you regroup with Samun and Kamun, you can decide what to do next. Pressing your luck here would be unwise.

B. Sekhenun seems distracted. If you move fast enough, you might be able to reach her. You came here to kill her, and if you let her out of your sight now, who knows if you'll get a second chance. You might get crushed, but what the hell - do you feel lucky?

Chapter 3.8: Deadly Herbivores

Chapter 3.8: Deadly Herbivores

You cannot believe your eyes.

You had escaped Sekhenun - the last sight you had of her was her shapely posterior ascending the staircase. Akil and Mutyre had awoken on the way back, surprised to find themselves clamped under your arms. You find Samun and Kamun at the tunnel crossroads fighting off some unnaturally tenacious sheep.

"What's going on?"

The sheep baa'ed and snapped at the two brothers, as they tried to push the animals away with their shields. You can feel a murderous, mindless frenzy from the sheep. You're not sure if sheep acted this way. "We don't know! There was screaming from upstairs and these sheep just came trotting down and began biting us!" You sigh. "Stop playing around with them." Drawing your sword, you cut down one, and call for the brothers to finish the sheep off. They do so, quickly. "So, boss, what did you find down there?" asked Kamun. "Nothing good," you reply. "We found Sekhenun, but she escaped. What's going on in the temple?"

Samun shakes his head. "We don't really know. We went and checked out the other path, the one not leading upwards? It was a prison, but no one was there when we came. Lots of bones, though. Didn't find anything interesting there."

You think about what to do next. Retreating and waiting it out might be the best option, especially given the arrival of these weird sheep. "Maybe we should go back out into the city. We can keep a safe distance away from the temple and find out what is going on from the streets. This place is too dangerous." suggests Mutyre. Kamun speaks up, cleaning his sword of sheep's blood. "We're probably discovered anyway, why don't we just fight through the temple and take Sekhenun's head? The cultists are probably in disarray right now." His brother agreed with him heartily.

"I really think we should obtain the Sceptre of Ra, Master Runi. You know how powerful Sekhenun is now. Why not have Ra himself aid us in scourging his temple?" Akil had returned to being focused on the Sceptre as your only chance of victory.


A. You take Mutyre's advice and retreat into the city. From there you can find out what has happened, and perhaps undertake a second plan of attack into the temple.

B. You take Kamun's advice and charge up into the temple from underground, searching for Sekhenun. She is no longer inside that room, and in an open field you feel confident of beating her.

C. You take Akil's advice and head for the Sceptre's place of keeping. Having a god backing you up really can't hurt, and in the commotion you may have a chance of carrying out the ritual.

Chapter 3.9: The Sceptre of Ra

C wins. Going for Ra.


Chapter 3.9: The Sceptre of Ra

You decide to obtain the Sceptre of Ra. Now that Sekhenun knows of your arrival, it wouldn't hurt to have something to fall back on, should you need the extra help.

"How are we going to carry out the ritual, though?" you ask Akil.

"I'm not sure, only the old priests know how to perform it. We could sneak back out of the temple and give it to them, afterwards."

"We'll just have to decide after we get it. Lead the way, then." You and your companions follow Akil upward, into the temple proper.

The Temple of the Sun was a chaotic battlefield. Packs of bloodthirsty sheep roamed the corridors, lunging at anyone and anything in their way. The cultists were locked in combat - they might have the advantage of arms, but the sheep had the advantage of numbers. A single lapse in concentration could mean doom at the jaws of a dozen sheep. With your telepathy and Akil's knowledge of the layout, you manage to successfully navigate the temple without catching the attention of any cultists. There was the occasional pack of sheep to put down, but they proved no danger to you. Every once in a while you would catch a brief flash of Sekhenun's presence at the edge of your senses, but it never comes closer.

The chamber housing the Sceptre was small, though ornate. At the center of a stone altar lay the Sceptre itself, a long, golden rod topped with a depiction of a hawk's head, the rays of the sun radiating from it. You can feel that it is no ordinary object, despite its plain appearance. There is something more to it... but you do not know what. It was guarded, but no longer - the guards lay dead at your feet, killed cleanly and quickly by Samun and Kamun with little fuss. Akil and Mutyre inspect the chamber's entrance, checking for any traps. With a nod, they give you an all clear signal, and you walk into the chamber first; you don't want to repeat the scenario you had underground.

You learn pretty well, don't you? Now don't do anything else stupid.

The Sceptre is almost at hand. Your companions follow behind you. As you are about to lay your hand on the Sceptre itself, you feel someone behind you.

It is a familiar, but old presence.

"It is nice to see you again."

You turn to see a decrepit old shepherd, hunched over, a gnarled staff in his hand. His robes are tattered, and you see numerous gaping wounds inflicted across his face and body. They appear to be healing, but slowly. His features flicker and temporarily take on a more youthful bent, before wrinkling again. Samun takes a step forward, axe at the ready, but you raise your hand to stop him. The old man grins a gap-toothed grin at you. You do not return it.

"Well, you have certainly looked better. This is the last place I'd have expected you to be in. I suppose the sheep are yours?"

Naram nods. "Don't be so surprised. You hear the voices too. You know what our purpose on this world is - to cleanse it of those black demons. Of course I'd come here, to their final bastion in these lands."

"Is that what you have been doing for the past few centuries?"

"That... and a few other things. But let us not waste time reminiscing. I need the Sceptre of Ra - with it I can end this last Gieloth Lord once and for all."



"It's a Lady."

Naram stares at you. You blink and gesture at him to continue. He coughs, and does so.

"Anyway, this Gieloth Lord... or Lady, if you want to call it that... is strong. My wounds are proof of that - I barely escaped it. We cannot beat it on our own, but I know how to use the Sceptre of Ra to summon our master into this world and defeat it."

"Our master?" You are puzzled. The voices have told you of no such thing.

Uh, we didn't think it was important... but we can explain it later.

"You appear to be gifted with less competent aides, old friend. I will explain it all, but first we must..." he trails off. You sense what has stopped his words. Sekhenun is approaching, and she is angry.

"Quickly, Ean! Give me the Sceptre, or we will all be slain here!"


A. You give Naram the Sceptre of Ra. He claims to be able to use it, and as Sekhenun is drawing near, this would be of immense help in the fight to come.

B. You give the Sceptre to Akil. You will attempt to distract Sekhenun's attention while your companions escort Akil to the priests - they know how to use it too, and you do not trust Naram with its power.

C. You crush the Sceptre with your mighty hands. What use do you have for a god? This was the real reason you sought the Sceptre - to destroy it so as not to tempt your resolve to bring down your foes with nothing but your own strength!

Chapter 3.10: Sekhenun's End

Chapter 3.10: Sekhenun's End

The voices are silent.

We'll let you decide on this. We're... ah... washing our hands of all responsibility.
We should be giving him a way back here, but honestly, we don't really want to see that insufferable twat again either.

You have the opportunity to act with free will right now. It seems that the voices aren't too keen on bringing this Ra back either. Since they're unwilling to be responsible for this, though... well, you don't really care for gods anyway.

You crush the Sceptre with your hands and stomp on the pieces. Naram is dumbfounded. "You... traitor."

Well, that's it.
He's going to be really, really pissed if he ever finds out you did this.
We just have to make sure he never finds out. Stay optimistic, guys!

"If we work together, Naram, we can beat her -"

"YOU BLASPHEMER!" Naram jumps at you, his elderly form growing lesser in age. His hands close around your throat but you easily force them apart. He begins screaming and ranting. "Do you have any idea of how many worthless divine artifacts they have all over the place that they claim are able to summon the gods? Do you have any idea how long I spent trying to find something that could bring our masters back again? First Shulgi, and now you turn away from our masters!" His form changes again. Muscles bulge, his teeth lengthen into needle-like fangs, and his fingers turn to razor-sharp claws. You find his strength increasing rapidly, and you kick him away from you.

Masters? Didn't he talk about just one master before?

Naram roars in anger as he completes his transformation, standing a whole head taller than you. Samun and Kamun move to attack, coming from each side of him in perfect harmony. Their swords bite into his sides, but Naram does not appear to feel it. He bats them aside with a casual swing of his trunk-like arms. "How do you know this was not another of the fake artifacts, Naram?" you ask. "If Sekhenun knows, she would have destroyed it too."

"She doesn't, you fool! She doesn't know!"

"What don't I know?" Sekhenun stands in the doorway behind Naram, dressed in a tunic that was much more modest than her previous outfit. Her face was a mask of anger. You probe at her mind - there are shields up. You can't penetrate them - but you have no reason to believe she is not as angry as she looks.

Uh oh.

"Naram, we can beat her if we work together." you whisper urgently.

Sekhenun attacks before he can reply, her arms morphing and dividing into numerous tentacles that wrap around Naram's body. In the next instant, he changes form again, shrinking down into his normal size before darting underneath the tentacles. Sekhenun laughs, childlike. Her extended tentacles come shooting back towards Naram's back. You rush forward to guard him - as it is, he is still ostensibly on your side. It does not take more than a swing of your sword to cut down the tentacles. Sekhenun hisses at you. "So you are a dog after all. You disappoint me." You hear Naram give a small chuckle. He leaps over Sekhenun while her attention is focused on you, and lands behind her. You prepare to attack at the same time.

"I will not fight besides one who would betray me. Enjoy the hospitality of the Gieloth. May you rot for all eternity in their belly." Naram mutters angrily. Then he runs, dashing off into the corridors of the temple. "Wha - hey! Naram!" A sudden movement from Sekhenun snaps your attention back to her. She leaps at you while you're off guard, taking on a clawed, lithe form. You fend off the first couple of blows, but the third scratches your skin. You realize instantly that your regeneration isn't kicking in.

She's one tough cookie. She knows how to nullify the regen.
Oh man, maybe we should've just sucked it up and got the twat back to help us?

You shrug mentally. This just means that you have to fight as if you were mortal; you have not forgotten how. You adopt a defensive stance - your speed matches hers, and Sekhenun has little skill in battle. You taunt her with this. "You aren't very good at fighting for a god, are you?"

"I'm not a god of war, I'm a god of science!" she retorts, angrily.

Taking no more than a few more scratches, your countering strikes drive her back out of the chamber and into the corridor. In close combat, you are in your element. She was foolish to engage you like this - you are no Naram. You notice, however, your attacks weren't giving her any damage. Every cut you make in her body regenerates in mere seconds. You also don't see the tell-tale signs of host possession - her wounds bleed normally, with no signs of black tendrils writhing underneath.

Frustrated at being unable to reach you, Sekhenun gives an annoyed yell and falls back to using her limbs as tentacles. That proves to be a fatal mistake - you know how to fight tentacles very well, and she does not use it any better than her sisters used their tendrils. You duck and chop your way past their predictable flailing - giving her no time to shift her shape again - and you remove her head as she gasps in surprise. Wasting no time, you kick over the headless body and cut open the spine... only find that there is no core. It appears to look like a normal human spine in all aspects.

"Runi!" You hear Mutyre yelling from within the chamber, where they were taking care of the injured Samun and Kamun. "The head!"

Sekhenun's head had sprouted little tendrils which it was using to try to crawl away from you. You can't help but grin as you walk over to it, and put a foot on it, stopping it from moving.

you dog


You dog. Get your foot off me. I yield.

"Begging for your life? Do you think I would trust you to be left alive?"

I don't expect you to. I trade my life in return for information. Your leash has told you little, Pahnrath's knowledge is fractured - I can give you more. I am the most learned of my sisters.

Having said that, her mental shields drop, and her mind opens up. You tentatively probe it - it appears that she will not be able to overpower you psychically, and it isn't a trap. Sekhenun's head looks up at you, expressionless. You do not feel any hope coming from her, only resignation.

"The last time I did this, I slept for three hundred years."

Information overload. We know too much for any human to digest even in ten thousand years. I will give you just enough that it will not fry your brain. Again.

"And for that, I let you go?"

If you wish to be something other than a mere dog, yes.

The head closes her eyes. Naram's sheep appear to have done a thorough job of cleaning house, as you sense no other living thing besides sheep in the temple. No matter what you choose, her power is broken here.


1. Sekhenun's Deal
A. You accept her offer of information.
B. You refuse her offer of information.


2. Sekhenun's Fate
A. You take advantage of her open mind to shatter it, just like you did with Pahnrath. You will take all the information.
B. You crush her head under your foot. She holds no hope for herself - show her that she is right.
C. You seal her head in a nearby jar and take it with you. You've always wanted a pet Gieloth!
D. You allow her head to crawl off. You are an honourable immortal, and even with your enemies you honour your deals.

(Some options might seem redundant, but it'll contribute to Ean's personality. Also, if you choose to pick information, there's an upcoming choice on what you will learn about.)

Chapter 3.11: Learning

AB – 1
AC – 4
AD – 8
BB – 3

Interesting. Let's move on with the choices, which will be counted separately. It's an early Christmas!


Chapter 3.11: Learning

"If I accept your deal, and let you go, what will you do? Will you continue preying on people and recreate your own cult?"

So concerned with these mortals, aren't you? There's no need to worry.

"The reason I came here in the first place was to stop your predations, you shetentacle. Of course this is a concern."

Hah. I can subsist on lesser beings than humans. Enough small talk. Do we have a deal, dog?

You hope you won't regret this. "We have a deal, then."

Then you are no dog. I am pleased.


1. What You Learn

Sekhenun's knowledge is considerable. As the eldest of the noble sisters of the House of Me'kras, she has the advantage of knowing the full purpose of the Gieloth's arrival here, as well as information regarding Gieloth infiltrators all over the world. There is much you can seek, but there is little time and she can only impart to you full knowledge on one topic.

A. You seek to know about the conflict between the Gieloth and your 'masters'. You want to find out the nature of this conflict, your role in it, and all else Sekhenun knows of this war you find yourselves in. She may be no historian, but the voices have been less than forthcoming and she knows far more than you do at this point.

B. You learn of the Gieloth's purpose here, and the extent of their capabilities. Why did they come? What do they want? What is the organization of their civilization? Do they have factions? How powerful are they? How long do they live? As Sekhenun is an accomplished researcher of her people, you will come to know more about the Gieloth than even most Gieloth themselves.

C. You ask about the current status of the entire world. The Gieloth are not present in just Egypt and Sumeria, but have spread wherever humans have gathered. Their information network is extremely well built and they appear to have a method of communicating over long distances. Sekhenun will pass on both what she knows, and also an ability to tap into those communications.


2. What You Gain

Your first meeting with Sekhenun did not go too well, though she was intrigued by your dedication to your comrades. Helping Naram against her did not exactly endear yourself to her, but she is extremely grateful that you have accepted her deal and committed to fulfilling your end of the deal by letting her go free. In good faith - and because she thinks being on your bad side seems to be a terrible idea - she offers to teach you one Gieloth power before she crawls off.

A. Sekhenun secretes a toxin that you gather in a vial. The toxin will be able to greatly slow down, or even stop, regeneration of immortals of your kind. There is only enough for a single dose, however. She also teaches you the theory behind producing it on your own, but it is extremely complex - you realize you would need to be a master of bodily manipulation to be able to create a gland that allows you to secrete it on your own.

B. Sekhenun weaves together some fragments of Pahnrath's knowledge and explains to you how to use that knowledge - manipulation of light. You can now absorb light from a limited area, allowing you to cloak yourself in darkness or temporarily blind others. There may be future applications of light manipulation as you develop this power.

C. Sekhenun teaches you a way to forge a weapon that would act as a living extension of yourself. She starts babbling about morphic resonance and other weird terminology which you don't understand. What you do understand is that as long as this weapon is with you, all your capabilities and powers are increased. As you grow in strength, so does its effect. She dubs it the Honourblade, in honour of your honourable conduct. You are not sure if you should really rip out your own rib to make it, though.

Chapter 3.12: The World is Your Oyster

CC takes it in the end.


Chapter 3.12: The World Is Your Oyster

You feel your brain wobble as the knowledge pours into you. Before you can analyze any of it, a loud babble of alien tongues assails your mind. You shout out in confusion.

Sorry, I forgot to teach you how to tune it out. Hold on.

The torrent of alien voices subsides as Sekhenun helps you filter out the chatter.

You should be able to pick up important messages in the network as they appear now. I've moulded your brain to be able to receive and filter the messages -

"You did what to my brain!?"

Oh, I'll spare you the explanation. You wouldn't understand it anyway. What you can do now is just receive. You can't transmit. I'd have to drastically change your brain for that.

"I think I'll skip on that one." Friendly as she might seem, allowing her so much access to your brain would be too naive even for you.

You'll also find that I've given you knowledge regarding the creation of an experimental weapon I have been working on for my people for the past decade. I call it the Honourblade, a name befitting one as honourable as you. Don't you think it's an absolutely lovely name?

You can't tell for sure, but you feel a slight mocking to her tone.

"What does this... uh... Honourblade... do?"

Don't be lazy. All the information is in your own mind now. Go read up on it yourself.

"Right, right. Thanks, I guess." You get up, and remove your hand from where you have placed it, from Sekhenun's forehead. "You are free to go. Where will you head to?"

If you're concerned that I'll resume my prior activities... no, I won't be doing that. What I just did for you labels me as a traitor to my kind - not that I particularly care, they don't do much for me anyway - so it'd be best if I went into hiding for a few centuries. Oh, don't worry about me. I'll survive.

"I'm not worried about you."

Sekhenun's head crawls off for a while on multiple little tendrils, and then stops.

Here comes my ride.

One of Naram's sheep comes bounding around the corner, its sheep tongue flapping as it does. Sekhenun extends her tendrils and latches onto its head. The tendrils enter the eyes, ears and nose of the sheep, and you see her head begin melting into the sheep. "That's disgusting." you say. The sheep trembles a while as the head completely melds with it, and then opens its mouth. "Oh, I'm sure you'll see much worse in the future. Run along now, if you don't want to be buried under a ton of bricks." So saying, the sheep trots over to a nearby wall and presses a brick in with a hoof. The temple begins to shake and tremble, and Sekhenun runs off, commandeering the body of the sheep.

"We'd better go too!" you yell to your companions, who are still pale in the face from all they have seen and heard. You see Akil picking up Sekhenun's headless body, slinging it over his shoulder. "By the gods, Akil, what are you going to do with that?" Akil shouts back at you, "Proof! Master Runi, it's proof that we killed Sekhenun! This will end her cult once and for all!"

Ah. Smart boy.

"You guys have some answering to do once we escape the temple, so shut up for now." you warn the voices. They do so. The balance of control in your own body seems to have shifted ever since they allowed you to do as you wish with the Sceptre. You exit the temple, running out into the courtyard just as it crashes down behind you. That was an exhilarating run, but you would not like to repeat the experience. Around you, the remnants of the cultists stare in shock. Countless dead sheep and guards lay sprawled across the place, their dead bodies lit up by the torches. It was just after midnight. As your companions sink to the ground, catching their breath, you gesture at Akil to toss Sekhenun's body in front of you. He does so. You grab the body by the leg, and dangle it up in front of you. "Your false god is dead!" Your voice booms across the courtyard. Their shock turns into disbelief, and then panic. The cultists flee, running until their legs take them out of Heliopolis. It looks like this city will be free of the cult's influence with no further hassle.


Now that you have accomplished your mission in Heliopolis, you begin analyzing the knowledge you have received from Sekhenun. You also question the voices on the existence of these masters. According to them, the masters are all 'twats' and 'jerks', and they call themselves 'gardeners', while the Gieloth are treated as weeds. The masters had a presence here nearly two thousand years ago, but something happened and they were kicked out. The voices won't tell you what happened.

The communication network of the Gieloth is already awash with news of Sekhenun's disappearance, but you fail to catch what the other Gieloth feel about it, only that they think it is an extremely newsworthy event.

"The world is a globe. Wow, who'd have ever thought of that." you mutter. You begin organizing the information in your mind, marking out areas of interest.

The Children of Sekhenun are still rife in the place despite Sekhenun's defeat. Their infiltrators remain in place in the courts of all three warring states of Egypt; Memphis, Heracleopolis and Thebes. Left to their own schemes, undirected, they would probably just prolong the war.

There is a strong Gieloth presence in Babylon, but their Assyrian counterparts have not managed to infiltrate into high society thus far. They are active, however. The two would-be successors to Akkad are still warring for supremacy.

The North:
Far in the cold north, there appears to be a rising power that has united the squabbling tribes. More and more Gieloth are starting to venture there, attracted to the growing civilization.

The West:
Across a great ocean to the west, the Gieloth are thriving. There, their greatest stronghold lay. It is the center of their power on this world, now that their Egyptian base has been destroyed.

The East:
The Gieloth have a presence in the Near East population just a few months travel from Sumeria, but further east reports have come in of the Gieloth there having been wiped out by hunting dogs - probably a reference to immortals.


A. You decide to remain in Egypt and clean up the Children. The task should be easy, and you plan to advance the growth of Egypt. Your work here is not yet done.

B. You return to Sumeria. The Akkadian Empire shall rise again! Well... even if it doesn't, you want to cultivate Sumerian society further and continue where you left off.

C. You head north, investigating this 'rising power' referred to in the Gieloth reports. The emergence of a new kingdom not from the ashes of some old empire is an event worth observing.

D. You get on a boat and start paddling west. The Gieloth will learn to fear you and your daredevil bravery! Crushing their greatest stronghold on this world single-handedly might even spark an exodus of Gieloth as they fear to stand on the same planet you are on.

E. You trek east. You can take out the Near East Gieloth on your way, and find out what has happened in the Far East. If other immortals have appeared besides the ones you know of, it might be good to get in contact with them.

Chapter 3.13: Egypt Aflame

Looks like we didn't let Ean go amok and turn into a puddle of goo by removing the limiter. Yay.


Chapter 3.13: Egypt Aflame

The forging of the Honourblade landed you in bed to recuperate for two months. Both the removal of the rib and the forging process itself strained your body… but at last you were healed. There was no time for further rest, however. During your convalescence you had indicated to your companions your wish to rebuild Egypt. They were pleased at this, and you asked for them to begin gathering information. Today you meet to discuss what they have discovered, and your plans for Egypt. You raise yourself off the bed, clutching the Honourblade to yourself – you had carried it with you all this while to improve your recovery rate. It truly is a wondrous sword; you feel lighter, stronger, and more alert just by having it by your side. When you first grasped it after completing its creation, you imagined you heard a sound akin to "roofles" in your mind, but it has not reappeared since. Hopefully that disturbing sound does not recur...


The meeting was attended by your companions, as well as several of Akil’s friends; there were two old priests, Donkor and Funsan, a brash young man that Akil introduced as the leader of the militia, Netzi, and a matronly woman named Anath who was the head of the local crafts guilds in Heliopolis. This was your first time meeting them, but you hear they are the most influential people in the city now that the cult has been destroyed.

“Good morning!” You greet the table cheerfully as you walk down the stairs.

“It’s afternoon, boy, have you no manners?” snaps Donkor. So it is… the sun seemed suspiciously high for morning. You grin in embarrassment and give your apologies. You’re in a good mood today – it’s been so long since you could move around freely. Taking your seat at the table, you wave at Akil, who you’ve asked to chair the meeting.

He coughs, and begins. “Well, since we’re all here, let’s start by explaining what we know so far.” You begin listening intently. As is your habit, you summarize the facts up in your mind at the end of the exposition, to make it easier for you to analyze your next move.

Pharaoh Wankare was still in control of Memphis, but his hold is tenous. The collapse of the cult had led to the other cities in the Nile Delta rising in open rebellion. The situation is a total mess, and from your own occasional tapping of the Gieloth network, you know that some of Sekhenun’s Children are formenting the chaos in the outside cities against those still advising Wankare. You wonder why that is. Akil estimates that Wankare’s rule would not last the year, but his fall would further fragment the cities of the Nile Delta as they struggle to gain control of Memphis.

Samun and Kamun’s report on Heracleopolis, where they had relatives, show that the ruler of Heracleopolis, a veteran Egyptian general by the name of Astarth, was marshalling his forces in preparation to invade Memphis in six months time. Astarth is popular with both his people and certain cities in the Nile Delta, and if he takes Memphis, he will be hard to dislodge from the throne. He is a warmonger and would likely set his sights further afield regardless of whether Egypt is able to sustain more wars. Gieloth hold some sway in his court, but not at the highest levels of council.

Thebes had been visited by Mutyre, and she found that the Thebans had not engaged in much military build-up. Although outwardly they seemed uninterested in participating in the Egyptian civil war, they appear to have sent emissaries to Babylon. You are unclear about the nature of those emissaries, and the Thebans remain reclusive and secretive so far. The Gieloth have amassed some significant influence in Thebes.

“Well, it seems like the best course of action is to focus on Memphis for now.” you conclude. Akil agrees. “I suggest that we act quickly before Wankare is deposed by others, defeat him ourselves and install a Pharaoh of our own on the throne. I have a name for your consideration – he is of royal blood and would be acceptable to everyone – Wanketh, a cousin of the current Wankare and vocal critic of the regime. He’s currently hiding out in Cairo.”

“I think there is another choice for Pharaoh.” adds Mutyre. She looks at you. You nod, knowing what she is thinking. Before you can say anything, Akil exclaims in delight, “Of course! Master Runi, you can take the throne yourself! You are powerful and noble. Surely Egypt would flourish under your rule!” You glance back at Mutyre, raising your eyebrows. She just shrugs.


1. The Future Pharaoh

A. You choose to install Wanketh as the next Pharaoh. By all accounts, he is a just, level-headed, if naive young man, loved by the people, and will make an excellent puppet king.

B. Akil is your choice. He has been a loyal companion, and you feel he has the administrative foresight to run a kingdom. With you as an advisor he would be a fine king.

C. You agree to take the throne. With your knowledge of the Gieloth, and your immortal powers, you will be able to inspire the people of Egypt to greater heights.


2. Strategy

The issue of Memphis’s prospective rulership was not the only one you had to solve, however. The divided cities of the Nile pose a problem to you - should you unite them before attacking Memphis, or should you go straight for Wankare's head? Heliopolis itself had a militia of five hundred men, ex-would-be-revolutionaries all, ready to fight, but the other cities too had their armies, and Wankare himself boasted of a professional army numbering nearly two thousand men. By defeating or convincing the other cities, you would be able to add men to your army, but to do that the Gieloth influencing those cities must be stamped out.

A. Uniting the divided cities under your banner would allow you to gather enough men to face Wankare's own army, making the task of besieging Memphis easier. There is a risk of not being able to unite them in time before Heracleopolis invades, however.

B. Time is of the essence - you go straight for Wankare and the throne of Memphis. The battle would be tough, and you cannot count on the other cities not interfering. The other cities rebel not because of a desire for independence, but because of Wankare's misrule. You are confident you can wrap this up by cutting off the head of the snake.


3. Ean’s Tasks

Defeating Wankare and the cities also means defeating the Gieloth influencing them. In this, you have the biggest part to play.

A. You take charge and lead the militia in open warfare, hoping to force your opponents to surrender with brute force. Your prowess on the battlefield should net you victory with ease, and flush the Gieloth out into the open as you have before.

B. You leave the army’s training and direction to Samun, Kamun and Netzi, while you work in the shadows to hunt down and assassinate Gieloth, as well as their other sympathizers in positions of power. You are the only one who can reliably detect and defeat a Gieloth infiltrator – no other person can perform this task.


4. Heracleopolis

The city of Heracleopolis is about to invade Memphis in half a year, but they may also be convinced to send aid. Their aid would cost you, however, and you are not sure if you should send emissaries to them.

A. You seek help from Heracleopolis, accepting the conditions they may impose upon you.

B. You offer Heracleopolis a truce should you take power successfully in return for them ceasing their invasion plans.

C. You send emissaries to Thebes attempting to get them to invade Heracleopolis a a distraction, accepting the conditions they may impose upon you.

D. You ignore Heracleopolis. Why bother letting Astarth know of your plans when you will be coming to eat his food after you deal with Wankare?

Chapter 3.14: A Dark Proposal

AD takes the second part.


Chapter 3.14: A Dark Proposal

"What are you?"

Those were the first words Wanketh spoke to you after Wankare's troops were soundly defeated before the walls of Memphis, and the Pharaoh himself killed in battle. Five hundred against two thousand may not have sounded like great odds, but two thousand nervous, undisciplined, demoralized men against you were nigh impossible odds. You had first lured the Pharaoh's army out of Memphis by using your ragtag band of five hundred Heliopolitan milita as bait - Wankare himself lead the surge out from the gates of Memphis to prey upon your men, eager to let loose his frustration at his kingdom's state by slaughtering the enemy. Their indiscipline was soon turned upon them. In an open field, with no walls as protection, they were prey for your chariot instead. You had deemed this the best way - leading from the front - to ensure your men survived the battle. Taking Wankare's head in the first few minutes of engagement was just the icing on the cake.

But it seems your display of martial prowess has drawn too much attention. Wanketh, who had come escorted from Cairo by Samun and Kamun prior to your march to Memphis, waylaid you in the palace before you had time to wash the blood off of you.

"What are you?" He repeats his question. You sense that he fears the power you have displayed.

"I am but a general serving your cause, my liege." Wanketh gives a bitter laugh. "I know of no general so young and so skilled that served Memphis. You look Egyptian, and you certainly speak the language well enough, but are you truly of my people?" He strides up to you and grabs your tunic. "Or are you of the monstrous black cult that befouled my cousin's mind?" You shake your head. "I am on your side, Pharaoh. You may ask my comrades from Heliopolis if you do not believe me." Obviously, that does not convince Wanketh. "Why would your friends speak against you? I have my eye on you, Runi." Letting go of your tunic, he turns and walks away, towards the throne room. It looks like he knows of Gieloth infiltration, and he suspects you of being one.

A week after your victory in Memphis, the usual suspects convened again, this time with Wanketh and a couple of his advisors in attendance. He had not spoken to you after his confrontation. At this meeting, you learn that most of the cities on the Delta have thrown their lot in with Wanketh. Defeating Wankare swiftly had impressed them greatly, and Akil had the presence of mind to get the Heliopolitans to go around giving Wanketh the credit for that victory. You still had to solve the problem of the Gieloth agitators, but that could wait for now. There were three hold-outs; Avaris, Bubastis and Pelusium, who publicly declared their support for Astarth.

Astarth had used their backing to stand against Wanketh, claiming that Wanketh's dynasty had lost its legitimacy with Wankare's misdeeds, and a new dynasty was needed to revive Egypt's greatness.

The three cities had the most developed army in the Nile, and had long been siding with the general, who enjoyed military support even before Wankare came to power. It would require considerable effort to defeat one of them, let alone three. Each of them had a standing force of more than 1000 men.Your current army stands at a total of 3000, including levies from the other cities, while Astarth could likely muster up the same number from Heracleopolis alone, with perhaps more to come from the towns and villages he controls. Astarth's planned invasion is still three months away.


A. "We should move against the three cities and unite the entire Delta under our rule." Netzi, leader of the Heliopolitan militia, was in favour of attacking Avaris, Bubastis and Pelusium. He reasons that by conquering the three cities, we would not have to worry about them joining in on Astarth's side when he marches on Memphis.

B. "If we move on the three cities, Astarth will make a move on us too. It is best for us to do nothing and build up our forces." Akil counsels caution - we should take advantage of this respite to build up our army and strengthen relations with those cities who have already submitted to our rule.

C. "We could just attack Astarth head on. Defeat him. Once he is done for, the three cities will naturally fall in line. If we do not, we risk getting sandwiched between them and Astarth in three months' time." Wanketh speaks up after convening with his advisors. They think that a swift strike, just like the one you performed on Wankare, would remove Astarth's threat once and for all.


The council dispersed as the issue was unsettled. Wanketh was unwilling to force his opinion on his new allies - paranoid though he might be, the man knew that his current rule was shaky, and he would need you and your companions to consolidate it for now. It was decided that the decision on the three cities would be made tomorrow. You are the last to leave the chamber. As you head out the door, one of Wanketh's advisors appears before you - Kumare, you believe his name was, a dark, skinny man. The both of you are alone in the chamber.

"Master Runi, what do you think of the current situation?"

"It is quite a mess - all our options seem to be risky."

"There is another way."

"What do you mean?"

"Astarth must die. He is the only one holding his little fiefdom together - his appointed heir is a weak man with no support, and there is no one in his court who would be smart or powerful enough to take the reins of the kingdom. Once he is gone, all of our problems would be neatly solved... and he must go soon, before he sends his armies against us."

"And... how do you propose he die?"

"We assassinate him."

"Why do you need to tell me that?" you wonder.

"Astarth is a great warrior and a well-guarded paranoid. He has no vices to make use of. An ordinary man would have a poor chance of succeeding, but you, Master Runi, are no ordinary man..." Kumare trails off.

"I am just an ordinary man, Master Kumare. You flatter me."

"Oh no, no. You are extraordinary, Master Runi, your exploits have made that clear. If you are willing to help us out, both the Pharaoh and I would be extremely grateful."

You wonder what Wanketh knows of this. Kumare hides his emotions well, but you can sense that something is not right with this offer. "No matter what, we would appreciate your input on how to deal with the threat of the three cities. This is just an extra, little request." Kumare smiles obsequiously.


1. You participate in the plan to assassinate Astarth. There may be something wrong, but you are an immortal and you trust in your strength and wit to get you out of tight situations. You can save tens of thousands of lives by grabbing this chance to take Astarth out before he launches his war.

2. It is too dangerous to enter the enemy's stronghold on the word of a man you do not know. If it truly is a trap and you are unable to get back in time, or worse, Memphis could fall to Astarth easily. You are the only one capable of standing between Astarth and his domination of Egypt; you cannot risk yourself so recklessly.

Chapter 3.15: Astarth's Game

Chapter 3.15: Astarth's Game

You march from Memphis with two thousand soldiers, as Wanketh wished. Sending out all of your forces would have been an open invitation for Avaris and their allies to attack while you were gone, and so some troops had to remain to defend Memphis and the other cities. Hopefully they would be able to hold out if anything happened. You had rejected Kumare's proposal - his shiftiness made you wary. Before he left you managed to place a hand on his bare, left shoulder, but you only managed to read some vague thoughts about Astarth before he smiled at you and walked away.

The journey up the Nile was surprisingly hassle-free, even with the crocodiles around. Astarth made no attempt to stop you from reaching Heracleopolis. When you reached the walls, you saw why.

The walls of Heracleopolis were formidable, built up even taller than that of Akkad. Archers lined the walls, eager and sharp. To storm this city would mean paying the price in blood. You rode to the front of the gate in your chariot, gauging the enemy. The archers held their fire, and a horn sounded. You steeled yourself, wondering if arrows were going to come your way.

To your surprise, the gates open, and a chariot rides out, a large banner flying behind it. A roar rings from the walls. "Hail King Astarth, Pharaoh of all Egypt!"

Astarth had come out to meet you. You wonder if he is here to talk, or fight. His chariot pulls up besides yours - Astarth is flanked by two of his guards on the chariot, while you were alone.

"Runi, I believe? The man who single-handedly brought down Wankare?" He smiled at you. He was a bear of a man; he would have towered even over Samun and Kamun. His grizzled face and scarred body were trophies of decades of battle, and he carried himself with a pose of extreme martial confidence.

"That was the credit of my Pharaoh. What do you have to say to me, Master Astarth?" He laughs, a hearty, roaring laugh. "Oh, don't stand on ceremony. I am here to negotiate the terms of your surrender, and of your future rank in my army."

"What makes you think that I would not just take your head, and your city with it?"

"Because you have lost, just by coming here. By now your Pharaoh should be but a corpse in his bed."

You stare at Astarth. He does not appear to be lying.

"What are you talking about?"

"My men have put a knife in his back... and they prepare to poison Memphis even as we speak."

You lunge forward and put a hand on his neck. His guards immediately raise their weapons, but Astarth orders them to stand down. He continues talking to you in a calm tone. "If we fight here, I fear none of us will escape unscathed. You may even kill me, true, but if I die, Egypt loses its last leader capable of uniting the kingdom. Spare your men a bloody battle. I have use for strong warriors such as you."

You ignore what he says, concentrating on reading his mind. The entirety of Astarth's plan is laid out before you. It seems that after recognizing your prowess, the plan was always to get you out of the city so they could execute their plot. Wanketh would die, and the city's water source poisoned - the blame of the poison would fall on the Pharaoh, whose death would be hidden from the public. Astarth had even prepared scapegoats who would claim to be cultists who had influenced the Pharaoh into doing such mad things. The fear that struck all the other cities would have brought them under Astarth's influence. The plot was targeted at Wankare, but since you brought Wanketh into power, they had to adapt instead.

You curse yourself for not vetting Wanketh's advisors further, but you realize that ever since the battle of Memphis, the Pharaoh, suspicious of you, had been in close counsel with them - you had not seen them at all until the day of the meeting itself. You had thought this a direct war of subjugation... but Astarth did not see it that way.

"Why do you look so surprised? Did you think me some dumb brute, a dictator who ruled his city through force of arms? Join my army, Runi, and you will be second only to me."

"Do you think I would join with a man who has just killed an entire city?"

"But I haven't. My men prepare to poison Memphis, yes, but they will not do so for two more days I can cancel that order, my messengers just await my command. You are powerful - if you bow to me, I will have enough strength to conquer Egypt swiftly, and no need to poison the city."

He is telling the truth. The man had set up a relay of messengers all along the Nile - he could get a message to Memphis within a day or two.


A. Your hand still on his neck, you scramble his mind. You cannot suffer such a man to live. Taking advantage of the confusion over his sudden collapse, you ride back to your army, and sound the order for a retreat. If you ride downstream ahead of the army, you might be able to reach Memphis before they execute their plan.

B. You kill Astarth by breaking his neck, and while his men are in shock from the loss of their leader, you get your troops to take the city. You will not make it back in time to save Memphis, but by doing this you will set yourself up in a position of power to take over Egypt yourself.

C. You accede to Astarth's demands, and agree to be his right hand man. He is correct in that his rule would be able to unite Egypt, and is that not what you have been fighting for?

D. You agree to surrender to Astarth, but that night you sneak out, back to Memphis, once you are certain the order to prevent the poisoning has been given out. Astarth can have Egypt, but certain advisors to Wanketh are to die for their betrayal. and you plan to extract your comrades from the city to prevent Astarth from getting his hands on them.

Chapter 3.16: Babylon Strikes

Chapter 3.16: Babylon Strikes

Astarth was every bit as ruthless the man you thought he was. He had agreed to spare the men you had brought with you from Memphis, but only If they would follow him as you have. Many did. Some did not, and they died, cut down by Astarth’s warriors as they knelt in front of him, cursing your name as they did so. Luckily, your companions who had been with you since Heliopolis did not cling to some misguided sense of loyalty to the late Wanketh, and they were granted positions in the new regime, along with Astarth’s stooges who had betrayed the last royal of the Eighth Dynasty. You took the effort of embracing every last one of them just to ensure that they weren't an alien monster or immortal waiting to stab you in the back. Despite their general shiftiness and naturally untrustworthy demeanor, you found nothing else out of place. As for the general populace, the craftsmen and traders and farmers of Egypt... few cared which king you sided with. ​
Astarth's administration was a strong one, despite your misgivings, and you could concentrate on putting an end to Sekhenun’s legacy in Egypt. You briefed him on the Gieloth, giving him only enough information to let him understand their danger and their tendency to infiltrate human courts – he gave you ten years to hunt down every last one in his kingdom after hearing your words. You did it in three.​
In the mean time, Astarth had launched a campaign against Thebes before he had even settled into the comfy throne he had brought to Heracleopolis from the old palace in Memphis. His reckless ambition was such that he did not listen to your advice to wait until you had completed the task of exterminating the Gieloth in his own kingdom. Though Astarth was a good strategist, and a fearless warrior, the Thebans held out well with the aid of Gieloth sorcery. His spies proved to be of no use, as the Gieloth infesting the court were unnaturally good at sniffing out his attempted plots.​
Near the beginning of the fourth year of his reign, as you had just completed mopping up the last of the Children of Sekhenun in the Nile Delta, you intercepted a message from the Gieloth – a message sent from the ones in Babylon, to those in Thebes. The Babylonians were sending an army against Egypt. In recent years, Babylon had gained the upper hand against Assyria. A decisive battle just six months ago had ended in the death of the Assyrian king – they were a broken lot at the moment. It was no surprise that the well-trained and Gieloth-influenced Babylonians, flush with victory, would march to aid the Thebans, who were harboring the last of the Gieloth in Egypt.​
Eight thousand Babylonian soldiers were headed for Egypt. You were in Heliopolis at the moment, visiting your friend Akil, who had been appointed governor of the holy city. Astarth was still south near Thebes – he had recently taken the town of Dendera, just a few days’ march from Thebes itself. The going was slow, however, as at every turn his soldiers were frustrated by Gieloth conjurations. This has led him to finally send a missive to you, asking you to get down to Thebes so that you could continue your Gieloth hunt in the south. He had more than ten thousand men with him, a great host gathered from all over his kingdom, as he aimed to crush Thebes once and for all. The Nile Delta itself remained lightly defended – if you were to summon all available soldiers, you would not get more than one thousand men. Three years of war with Thebes had drained most of the manpower available.​
There was no time to inform the Pharaoh and wait for his orders to return to you... you will have to make this decision on your own.​
A. You gather whatever men you can and head to the long neglected border fortress of Tjaru. The Babylonians were about a month away from the fortress right now. You will meet Babylon's army there and break them – they cannot be allowed to pass Tjaru and invade the fertile, populated regions of Egypt. You send a message to the Pharaoh telling him of the incoming Babylonians. Astarth can take care of himself.​
B. You send out orders for the cities to defend themselves the best they can in your absence, before you ride swiftly to reinforce Astarth as per his request. Your arrival in the southern battlegrounds would spell doom for the Gieloth; Thebes would simply fall soon after. It is much more important to end this civil war and reunite Egypt. Then you can turn the entirety of Astarth’s army on the invading Babylonians.​

Chapter 3.17: Fortress Tjaru

A - 13
B - 6

You'll be getting a character sheet once the Theban issues are resolved. And of course, we've let Astarth know what's going on. Waiting for his reply wouldn't do any good, though.


Chapter 3.17: Fortress Tjaru

You could not let the Babylonians enter the Nile Delta proper. Not only would that mean bad news for the populace, Astarth also relied on the lush Delta's agricultural strength to supply his vast army. Given the number of mouths he has to feed, any interruptions while he is still on campaign would probably give a chance for the Thebans to turn things around.

"How many of them are there, Master Runi?" Akil sits opposite you, watching concernedly as you pore over a map of Tjaru and the surrounding region. "About eight thousand, if my information is correct. I'll need every advantage I can get." You roll up the map, and ask him to send out word to all the cities, telling them of the urgency of the matter. The travel to Tjaru would take a week; the soldiers should gather in less than two. You would have another week, maybe slightly more, to prepare for the arrival of the Babylonians.


The fortress was manned by a skeleton crew of about a hundred men. It was once a mighty place - you remembered Sargon being given a tough time at Tjaru, back in the day. Although you are the defender this time, that does not comfort you.

Though the fortress had been neglected, the men stationed there had done a good job of maintaining the mudbrick walls over the years. It was surrounded by a moat which was deep enough that you would have to swim rather than wade across it. Tjaru was built at a natural chokepoint. The north wall was bordered by the sea - no army could pass there. A particularly crocodile-infested tributary of the Nile ran past the south - even Gieloth would not enjoy the swim. To avoid the fortress, the Babylonians would have to move further down south, into the desert and off the roads - that would be extremely foolish, and if they did so you would no longer need to worry about the army. The desert would take them.

Speaking of crocodiles, the men of Tjaru have apparently started rearing them in the moat. Their beady eyes shone with brutish intelligence, and one almost took your leg in an amazing leap when you stood too close to the water.

You checked the number of men that you could field - there was more than you expected, surprisingly.

You had 1000 professional soldiers from the Nile Delta. Of these, 200 were from Heliopolis, and had served as your personal retinue for the past three years. They were led by Netzi, the former militia leader and now captain of your personal guard. He has impressed you with his quick thinking in the past three years. They were highly disciplined, trained by you personally, and equipped with the best weapons and armor Egypt had to offer. Another 300 were from Avaris, Bubastis and Pelusium. These consisted of the bravest and strongest warriors in the Delta, and answered to a Kharun of Avaris, a young, untested but valiant fighter. Though they lacked the sheer discipline of the Heliopolitans, their skill in battle more than made up for it. The remaining 500 soldiers came from all over the Delta, with varying amounts of battle skill and experience, and then there were the 100 soldiers stationed in Tjaru, led by a crochety, experienced old soldier called Menos. The soldiers of Tjaru seem earnest and well-motivated, but have not been blooded in any combat.

Together with the soldiers you brought, you had gathered a thousand more volunteers. When the call went out, many militia-men and civilians took up arms and joined your ranks. There were 300 militia in this lot, lightly equipped and armed, and 700 Egyptians from all walks of life. There were beggars, farmers, craftsmen, traders, and even a few fallen nobles in the lot. Unfortunately, you did not have the armory to outfit them all, and neither did Tjaru. Most were armed with nothing more than sickles, shovels and axes.

The fortress of Tjaru itself provided more men. Though your arrival signalled the fleeing of most of the population, roughly 500 men stayed behind, forming an impromptu militia. The man speaking for the militia was Thero, a local guild leader. They were all as untrained as the civilians that had followed you all the way out here, but at least they brought their own equipment.

There was still a week before you expect the Babylonians to arrive. Preparations must be made. There were many things to do, but a few matters in particular caught your attention...


Organizing the mish-mash of men you had was a nightmare. There were too many loyal but unskilled arms, too little experienced men. You appreciated the extra bodies though. You would have to delegate some control to adjutants in order to manage this force. This had to be done early, so that the men recognize the chain of command.

A. Netzi would take on the duties of organizing the militia; something he has done before with the Heliopolitans, besides his command of your personal guard. Kharun would be given watch over the professional soldiers - as a soldier of Avaris, he has the training and mentality to do well despite his youth. He might not be able to carry out your orders to a tee, however.

B. You need Netzi to act as your right hand man here due to his experience in working under you. He will oversee the professional soldiers. Menos is an old and experienced soldier - he should know enough to be able to whip the militia of the Delta and Tjaru into a cohesive unit.


Then, there was the matter of the civilians. Some of them were infirm and elderly; you wonder why they even bothered to show up at Tjaru. You were grateful to them for answering your call, but...

A. You prepare the civilians for battle. All were Egyptian, all would fight! Of course, they would not be on the front-lines, but you will have them train intensively with the militia for the coming week. Hopefully something of their training would stick.

B. The civilians would just get in the way if you thought of them as a fighting force. There were a few physicians in the rabble - you have them instruct the crowd in the means of wrapping up wounds, comforting the wounded, and generally how not to panic when someone is bleeding all over them. You get some of your personal guard to give pointers and some light training to them about combat so that they can at least try to defend themselves.

C. You send the civilians away - you don't think they can do much good here and you do not want them to throw their lives away.


Not all of the civilians were useless - some were craftsmen and builders. These men you had a definite use for, but you only had time for one engineering project...

A. There was a breach in the northern wall, right above a particularly steep, rocky face towards the sea. It is unlikely that the enemy would gain entry from here, but if there are Gieloth along, they might find a way. You get the hole fixed up so that you would not have to worry about dispatching sorely needed manpower to guard it.

B. You have had some ideas on the way to Tjaru regarding terrible new inventions designed to launch boulders and assorted heavy objects at long distances. There is plenty of ammunition for you to use in Tjaru, and there could be more... creative uses, if need be. You get the men to start building these machines of war on Tjaru's walls according to your specifications.

C. The plains in front of Tjaru are ripe for trap-laying. You have numerous deadly pitfalls constructed beyond the moat and carefully concealed. In addition to that, you order the preparation of fire-traps which will light up and hopefully funnel the Babylonians right where you want them, if not outright burn them.

(Choices here counted separately)

Chapter 3.18: The Night Before Battle

Chapter 3.18: The Night Before Battle

The week passes quickly. Under your directions, Netzi and your personal guard drill the soldiers. You might not have much time, but the results of the drills are satisfactory in bringing up the overall level of your army. Menos takes charge of the militia. Under his watch, the militia's fighting ability did not go up by much, but his crochety behavior and experience has given his men a certain affection for the old man. They moved well together as a unit, if nothing else. The civilians began running duties. Learning how to bandage wounds, training in the basic principles of self-defense, keeping track of supplies, procuring supplies... all these were done, and more. You get a feeling that they were happy to be able contribute.

The craftsmen and builders were ordered to construct traps all in front of Tjaru. The fortress had been designed into the lay of the land well, and the Babylonians would have no choice but to head into trapped territory if they wanted to pass. There were pitfalls concealed under the ground, and carefully constructed fire traps which could be lighted by some brave scouts. You had designed their orientation so that if the Babylonians stayed still and hunkered down, you had a clear path for a chariot charge, crushing them between your wheels and the flames. If they moved backwards the fire would cut off their retreat; forward, and they walked into a funnel, ripe to be picked off by rocks and bows.

You only needed to worry about their army managing to breach the fortress and overrun your men - you were supplied easily from your western gate, which led out into the Delta and was unaccessible to the Babylonians. If it settled into a siege situation, you could wait them out easily. Time was on your side... you think. With the Gieloth, you can never be certain what new tricks they bring to the party.

You look out across the horizon. The night sky stretched out before you. A night like this was when you engaged in a duel with another Gieloth and lost your kingship - surely history would not repeat?

Far off in the distance, you notice specks of light appearing.

The Babylonians were here.

It is likely they would only move a bit further till they were in sight of Tjaru before they rested. The attack would be tomorrow. Only an insane and foolish commander would order his army to siege a fortress immediately after a long march. Still, if they are already here, you might want to send scouts ahead, using the cover of darkness to gain more information before the battle commences. Kharun of Avaris volunteers to scout, with fifteen of his men, which was the best you could have hoped for. Scouting requires great bravery, and you know most of the men you have in Tjaru, loyal though they are, would fear going out to check on an army in the dark. You cannot afford to spare Netzi and your personal guard - should anything happen to them, your army would be bereft of leadership. You cannot keep an eye on every single soldier.


A. You decide to send out Kharun to scout. He does not seem to be the most stealthy of folks, but you're sure he wouldn't decide to charge into an encampment of 8000 men. He's reckless, but not stupid. You are needed in the fortress to make a customary morale-boosting speech during the pre-battle feast.

B. You decide to send out Kharun to scout, and you go with him. You can temper any reckless behaviour, and also attempt to feel out any Gieloth while you are there. They can serve as distractions for you, or vice versa, should things go wrong, ensuring that information gets back to the fortress.

C. You have them all stay in the fortress to feast and prepare. You scout alone. A single man has a greater chance of being undetected than a group. You wouldn't need to worry about bringing your soldiers back alive, either. Just yourself.

D. There is no need to scout. You will face them head on when they appear. Skulking in the dark is for fearful warriors, and you are brave!

Chapter 3.19: Solitary Scout

Chapter 3.19: Solitary Scout

Though Kharun was surprised - and impressed - by your insistence on scouting by yourself, Netzi did not react in anyway. "Well, let's hope you get a good load of info back for us." he says. You nod. The man, once almost as brash as Kharun himself, had mellowed out in his years serving you. Your own seemingly reckless actions have ceased to surprise him long ago. Wrapping yourself up in a dirty, stained cloak, you set out.


Once you were out of sight, you closed your eyes and let your body flow. You haven't taken on your original form for a few years, but it was as easy as slipping back into an old sandal. You were Sumerian, after all, and you still remembered how to speak the language.

The camp was easy to find - you just had to follow the lights and the noise. The Babylonians had set up patrols around the perimeter, but they were easy for a lone operator to evade by sensing their presence telepathically. You skirted the camp, moving carefully in the dark and noting down what you saw.

There were definitely enough men to make up 8000 troops. Getting an exact number would be impossible, but 8000 was close enough. Their discipline was superb and morale was high. The way they carried themselves was better than most of the men you had back in Tjaru. The Babylonians continued to rely on the horse chariots you had introduced, though they appear to have made some minor improvements to the harness - but you can't be sure without taking a closer look. This was a formidable army - you wish you had men such as these.

You sense that there are two Gieloth in the camp. One of them was walking around - surprisingly, this one was not in the form of a priest, but of that of a general. The other was inside the largest, most ornate tent.

Near the back of the camp, some distance away from the other tents, was a weird looking contraption. It appeared to be a tower on wheels, with a platform at the top, and weird metal rods sticking out of it. You had never seen its like before, and it appeared to be the only one of its kind in the camp. Had they brought this thing all the way from Babylon? You ask the voices what it was, hoping that they'd know if it was related to the Gieloth.

Nope, we have no idea what it is. Never seen one of those
It's probably something they could use to bring your fortress down, though, if it's out here.

Not much help there.

There was some movement in the camp. You focus again. A small group of five men and the Gieloth general had rode off from the camp on horses. They were headed towards the fortress - probably to conduct some scouting. This was a great chance!


A. You go after the general and his scouts. Leaving the camp was his mistake. You will ambush him and drive your Honourblade through his black, tendriled core. This would hurt the morale of the Babylonians greatly.

B. You infiltrate the camp as one of the soldiers. Even though the general was a Gieloth, he could probably do nothing more than scout with just five men. You are more concerned with that strange tower and what it does - if it could bring down your walls, it needs to be destroyed tonight.

Chapter 3.20: Deadly Desert Deathmatch

Chapter 3.20: Deadly Desert Deathmatch

The tower could wait. It was huge, ungainly, and likely to topple into one of your traps tomorrow. You turn from the camp, and go after the Gieloth general instead.

Approaching from an angle, you catch up with them before they reach the fortress. You leap, pouncing on the closest scout with your bare hands. As he falls from his horse, his neck broken, you land and draw your sword in a circle. The unnamed Honourblade flashes darkly and takes off the legs of another scout. Without pausing, you run at the general, who has reined his horse back. He is tall and commanding, with piercing eyes that almost seem to shine in the dark. Before you can reach him, his remaining men jump in front of him, the three of them attempting to take you on. You don’t even allow them the time to reflect upon their folly.

As the last of the scouts collapse in a bloody heap, you hear the Gieloth speak. “That was beautiful. Your skill is unmistakeable.” He - or she, you really are never sure with these things - claps loudly, having gotten off his horse. In the dim starlight, you can barely make out a smug smirk on his face. “You fight as well as the rumours say, Ean.”

You do not bother to retort. This man… no, this thing just sacrificed his own men to watch you fight them. You grip your sword tightly. It responds to your anger, pulsating rapidly in your hands. You keep a calm head, however. The Gieloth knew of your Sumerian name. This makes him dangerous in more ways than one. You step back from the general and take up a defensive posture.

He draws his own sword, a large, gleaming silvery crescent that reflected the moon’s light as though it was the moon itself. His eyes shone with a gleam. “I am Baran, son of the god Marduk and High Commander of his armies.” He pronounces the name Marduk slowly, as if savouring the taste.

I think… this guy is bad news.

“Lord Marduk himself is completing the subjugation of the Assyrians, so I fear I will have to be the one who kills you, dog.” Baran points his sword at you, grinning, and moves. He turns into a blur; you could barely follow his movements before his sword clashes against yours. Even if you could read his intentions, you’d defended just in the nick of time – his speed is superior, and so is his strength. That one clash had left your arms shaking. Blow after blow comes raining down on you, and it is all you can do to deflect them.

“What is wrong, Ean? Are you not the man who slayed the Three Sisters of House Me’kras?” laughs Baran, as he brings his sword down on your head. You sway to the left, allowing the blade to graze your shoulder – but that leaves you open for the follow-up kick to your ribs, coming from the right – you bring your elbow down and deflect the kick – it lands harmlessly into the sand, Baran does a pivot with that foot, and he is suddenly within your guard, face to face. He smashes his sword hilt into your chest and you tumble backwards, sprawling into the sand. You recover and roll away just as his sword slices into the ground just where you were moments before, and then lunge forward as fast as you can. This time, you catch him off-guard, and he barely manages to bring his sword back up to block a ferocious strike from your Honourblade, executed at full strength. Baran almost sinks to his knees momentarily, before giving a grunt and pushing you back almost casually. He slashes at your chest with a loud yell. You put up your sword to parry, and use the momentum from his slash to guide your own blade towards his chest in one swift, fluid movement. Baran’s eyes widen, and his left hand swings up and grabs your sword by its blade. His brute strength stops your slash entirely, and tendrils erupt from the wounds of his hand, wrapping around the Honourblade. His mouth twitches smugly.

“I caught you.”

You give him a smirk, mirroring his own.

I caught you.”

Channeling your powers through the Honourblade, you unleash a psychic assault upon the arrogant Gieloth. He screams as his mind unravels. Pressing your advantage, you attempt to scramble and shatter his brain… and your assault rebounds on you. You reel from the full force of your own attack, but luckily you had your own defences up – you avoid scrambling your mind this way. You step back, temporarily disoriented.

Baran gasps for breath as he drops to his knees. He clutches his head and chuckles. “Nabu, you bastard. I didn’t even know you put a shield on my mind. I guess I owe you one, brother.” You pant and stare at the Gieloth. His brother must be a tremendously powerful psychic to create a defense capable of actually rebounding an attack on the attacker. You cannot try one as long as it is up… which means you will have to find another way to take Baran down.

Your opponent yells and comes at you again, more ferocious than before. This time, however, you have begun to adapt to his attacks. There is no time to concentrate and use your other powers; you will have to take him down with your physical prowess. You match him blow for blow, your attacks grazing each other as you desperately deflect and strike back with all you have. Dark steel met bright as the speed and strength of the attacks delivered by him and you begin to increase, sending the sand around you flying. From a distance, it looked like a small sandstorm had started up. All of a sudden, you notice an opening on his right. In the fast-paced heat of battle, you instinctively take it before your telepathy can even warn you of the danger – and almost immediately you pay for your mistake. As you slice off his right arm, Baran’s crescent sword comes screaming in from your left and tears your abdomen open, as you step backward just in time to prevent him from cutting you into two at the waist. Your guts spill out into the sand as you scream in pain. Black tentacles shoot from Baran’s arm socket and wrap themselves around your throat. He laughs again, mocking you.

“Not good enough. You don’t think fast enough, dog!”

You choke on your reply. Your consciousness was fading fast.

Well, that was stupid of you!
Maybe you might want to stop fighting at high speeds if you can’t handle it?

If you’d slowed down for an instant during the exchange of blows, you’d have been dead, but you can’t even concentrate enough to tell the voices that.

At least that Gieloth bitch gave you something to work with.
We’ll do something to help you out, but this is not going to be pretty for your body afterwards. Hope you can take it, kiddo.

It’d probably be better than dying here without defeating Baran. Guided by the voices, you focus on the Honourblade, willing your sense of self to merge with the blade borne of your own body. It shrieks, flaring with power…


A. Your long neglected telekinesis powers come to life with a vengeance. Instead of using them to push or smash, you focus it into a hold… a hold strong enough to crush stone. You hit Baran with all you have. He barely has time to scream before you compress him into a little meat ball the size of a human head.

B. The air crackles with an intense charge. You concentrate it into a pillar calling the heavens... and the lightning replies. You sustain the lightning strike with the last remnants of your flagging consciousness. The Gieloth general is fried to a crisp as a billion volts light up his body for long, agonizing seconds. His body bursts into flame, and you can see the black tendrils turning into ashes within the blinding light.

C. Your focus creates a giant spear of bright energy, seemingly out of thin air, in front of you. The dark desert glows as if illuminated by the sun. Baran’s eyes widen in surprise. As it shoots towards him, he brings up his sword to deflect it – to no avail. The spear burns through his raised arm and weapon without stopping and pierces his core. As the spear dissipates into the cold desert air, the body of the Gieloth cracks and crumbles into ash.

Chapter 3.21: Battle for Tjaru

Chapter 3.21: Battle for Tjaru

“… and out in the desert, I met the Babylonian general and slew him. These are the marks of my battle! He was a tough foe, but he is now dead, and tomorrow you face a snake without its head!” Your men cheer as you say that.

You had managed to get back to Tjaru, even in your broken condition. Your massive gut wound had closed up on the stumbling journey back, but it is still giving you tremendous pain. You could barely walk, let alone run. In addition to that, you are having a hard time utilizing your powers – they appear to be drained, and although you can use them, they’re not as strong as they should be. The voices run a check on your body, and tell you that this condition should clear up in a day or two. You hope that the battle tomorrow will go well…


A loud horn jolts you from your rest at dawn. All around you, soldiers are rushing to their positions: the Babylonians have arrived. You get up and begin making your way to the walls gingerly; you still feel weak and dizzy. At the top of the walls, you see the Babylonian army arrayed before you, resplendent in all their glory. The tower was there, looming over the army at the back of their formations. The sun rose behind them. They had picked a good time to begin their attack – the glare of the rising sun would throw off the aim of your archers. You see Netzi walking up and down the walls, giving orders to the archers. You are confident he will find the proper timing to unleash the arrows.

With a roar, the Babylonians began their charge. More than half their number came forward on foot, shields at the ready. They approached courageously and quickly, all caution thrown to the air. Clearly they were not expecting any traps… and so they walked right into it. The pits did their work. Men tumbled into the stake-lined pits, rushing headlong into their doom. Within the first few minutes of arriving in the trapped area, you could sense the Babylonians beginning to falter. A few of them begin turning to run. You watch as another thousand men came forward to help their comrades from the traps; this time they approach more cautiously. You wait… and once they are within range, you raise your hand and gesture at one of your officers. He holds up his bronze mirror, facing the sun, and gives the signal.

From the flanks of the battle, a dozen foolhardy men of yours, who had camped beyond the protection of the walls last night, lighted the fire. The flames sprang up as if from nowhere, running along channels hidden under grass and sand. More than six thousand Babylonians were trapped in the sea of flames, unable to move. This battle was yours to lose, and you haven’t even committed any of your forces to it.

Then, the skies darkened. You felt a stirring of power from the tower, which had remained still since the start of the battle. The platform at the top of the tower was empty before, but now you see a man… no, a Gieloth there, encircled by the weird metal rods you had spotted before. His hands appear to be gripping the rods. Then, the rain falls. Slowly at first, but surely getting heavier, and then – the fire subsides. The Babylonians begin to cheer, but their shouts of joy are cut short and they fall silent, all at once.

From the Gieloth at the top of the tower, you could feel thousands of psychic extensions leading to each and every soldier in the Babylonian army. The disturbingly silent soldiers begin to move towards the fortress again. A line of men spread out in front of the bulk of the forces and marched quietly in perfect precision and total synchronicity. They marched without any instinct of self-preservation, as the entire line was almost wiped out by your traps – and were promptly replaced by another, and another. The Gieloth must be controlling his army manually from the top of that tower. You hazard a guess that it might be amplifying his powers, similar to how your Honourblade increases yours. This might be troublesome…

The Babylonians would reach your walls soon. They had brought along ladders, and would likely bridge the moat with the ladders and then use more ladders to swarm up the walls. There was too many of them for you to pick off if they mounted a direct assault. Though their numbers have diminished, there was still more than five thousand at the front, with nearly two thousand held in reserve in front of the tower.


A. You lead a daring chariot raid against the tower. Even in your weakened state, you should have enough telekinetic power to damage or topple the tower once you get into range. You might get caught by the two thousand men guarding the tower if they move from their position, but you’ll just have to fight your way out. Your men are already shaken by the sudden rain and self-sacrificing nature of the Babylonians. Having them actually engage with a numerically superior army that appears to know no fear would be even more disastrous - if they flee the walls, Tjaru is lost.

B. Your walls are strong and you can still reduce their numbers as they march. You will just have to trust in your men to hold the walls as you fight along with them. You will not allow yourself to be swayed into changing your plan just because the enemy Gieloth can now puppet his army around. You have confidence in your soldiers. The Babylonians might not break, but they still die like normal men. You will slaughter them as they attempt to climb Tjaru.

C. You have kept a last resort, a trump card of a sort. The voices had told you about a fault line near Tjaru while you were digging the pits. You had then lined up the pattern of the pits in such a manner that you could more easily nudge the fault line with your elemental manipulation. By using the Honourblade to amplify your powers again, you can cause the land to quake and rupture, creating a fissure that would not only swallow up most of the Babylonian army, but also drop the tower along with the Gieloth into the bowels of the earth, ending the battle in one decisive move. However, in your weakened state, you have no idea what pushing your limits further would do to you…

Chapter 3.22: Hold the Wall

Chapter 3.22: Hold the Wall

Three hundred years later, the brief ten years of your doctrine still remain instilled in Sumerian soldiers. Even under Gieloth control – or maybe because of it – they moved remarkably well as a unit, each man forming a firm brick in their shield wall. They did not falter, as normal soldiers would, and this made their formation all the more impenetrable to your ranged weaponry. Were it not for the numerous traps you had laid, they would have made it to the walls with ease. Their bows outranged those of Egyptian make, and soon your own archers, despite their height advantage, were having to duck in fear of being skewered by stray Sumerian arrows. Still, the weather made it far harder for them to hit you, and you figured it would be hard for them to climb the walls in the rain too. You wonder if the Gieloth couldn't stop the rain once he had started it...

The Babylonians reached the moat, with less men than they had started out with, but still enough to outnumber your soldiers three to one. They began dropping their ladders to span the moat, but the first few who crossed were snapped up by the crocodiles, who proceeded to eat the ladders too. Most of the men moved back, and they began to file into line at the gate. You were fine with that. Arrows and rocks rained upon them, but for every one you killed, two more lined up to take their place, shields at the ready. Their tight formation and sturdy shields made sure that they could well survive your attacks once they had hunkered down into position... and they did not move from their spot, camped in front of the gate. They made no effort to raise their ladders. You move to the top of the gate, wondering if you could get a huge piece of rock to drop on them while they weren't moving. You notice that the rain was getting heavier... the clouds were darkening even further, and gathering above your head.

Something was wrong. The air began to buzz around your ears. Your eyes widen, and you yell at your men to find cover. There is a blinding flash, and a roaring sound. Fast as you are, you can't dodge lightning yet. You are blown clear of the gate, tumbling back inside the fortress, as a lightning bolt strikes the top of the wall. There is another flash, and another strike.

That tower was bad news after all.
Looks like your first guess was right – it allows the Gieloth to do what he does better.
I suppose it isn't as handy as your Honourblade if he's going to have to lug that big phallic object around whenever he goes to battle...
No offense to your smaller phallic object that does the same thing, but being shorter certainly makes it more manageable in size.

“No offense taken.” As you clamber to your feet, you grit your teeth. Your wounds were still healing... but there was no time for pain. You let out a loud yell and charge back to the top of the wall, rallying whichever soldiers you could pick up to go with you. On your way, you pass Menos, who nods at you and begins preparing his militia to reinforce the men on the walls. Many of your soldiers had gathered near the gate to heap rocks upon the Babylonians – that lightning strike would have taken out a few dozen, easily. You need to keep morale high. As you reach the top of the wall, you find that the Babylonians have raised their ladders. Already their soldiers were engaged in battle with your men, and pushing them back. There were many of them already on the walls – you cannot let more up. Focusing on the hooks of the ladders that you can see, you make a silent, gripping motion with your both your fists, and snap them off at the top. That should buy you some time. Then you charge into the fray.

The rain has made the walls slick, and you watch your footing as you dance into the chaotic melee, reaping bodies with your sword. The Babylonians fought particularly well – they were strong and skilled, but each of them seemed to have a certain rote to their skills. It was not easily noticeable, but they would hold their blades so before a attack, and move there to dodge, and turn just so before a feint. There were several variants to their movements, but it was nothing a really keen-eyed and experienced fighter couldn't spot. Unfortunately, you didn't have even a hundred of these in your army, while they had thousands of good if dull warriors. You kept up the attack, attempting to clear the walls. You just didn't have enough men to guard every spot, and for every ladder you knocked down, more sprang up out of your sight, while you were distracted by more enemies. You are not sure how long you hacked your way through the rain, how many ladders you destroyed, how many men you killed, but you did notice that with every passing minute, the Babylonian soldiers grew better. They had began to adapt to your movements; now, instead of angling their blade so before an attack, they began to angle their blade so before turning their blade thus when you moved to attack their weakness. This was still nothing you couldn't handle, but they were gradually inflicting more and more casualties on your men. All of a sudden, the last Babylonian collapses in a gurgle of blood, and then there were no more. The Babylonians made no further attempts to scale the gates. You wonder if they had given up. Walking over to the edge of the scorched, crumbling wall, you scanned the area.

The Babylonians were retreating in an orderly manner. Judging from their number, you might have killed more than five hundred men as they tried to claim the walls, before they pulled back. Your own men did not fare much better, however – even with the advantage of fighting on their own walls, more than five hundred were wounded, with at least three hundred more dead. Of these, many of them were professional soldiers, who had been in the bulk of the fighting. Tomorrow, the militia would have to begin to take up the slack. The civilians have much work to do today. The rain clouds did not let up, and you begin orders for the wounded to be treated and the dead to be buried.

The Babylonian army did not move for the rest of the day, but you note that they had already set up camps, apparently preparing to be here for at least another night. No chance of them going back immediately with their tails behind their legs, then.


That night, you receive a visitor in your head.

Greetings, mighty immortal.

The sound in your head was unmistakeably that of a Gieloth.

I am Nabu, commander of the Babylonian forces currently arrayed against your brave warriors.

You could not respond out loud, seeing as you were having dinner with your men. You settled for thinking really hard back at Nabu.

“What do you have to say to me?” Him beaming his voice into your head wasn't really a surprise to you – you had caught a flicker of communications between the Babylonian forces currently outside your fortress and Assyria. You presumed 'Lord Marduk' had something he wanted.

It has been fun testing your abilities – I was particularly impressed at the way you turned Baran into a little ball, and how you noticed the little learning subroutine I implanted into the soldiers, but I fear the test must end tonight. My lord Marduk has decreed that I should break your mind and take your body before him. He has no interest in Egypt anymore... only you.

With that, you feel his tentacle on your brain, pressing on your mind. Instantly you realize the sheer extent of his psychic abilities. He would be formidable enough without his tower, but with it, he could shatter your mind with one push. It wouldn't be permanent, but you would certainly go into a coma for quite some time as your mind repaired itself. You resist the urge to break out into a cold sweat somehow, and keep your calm while chewing the tough crocodile meat that were part of the cellar stockpiles.

“Why have you not done so?” You keep your questions simple and cautious.

Why, has Sekhenun not told you of me? I am surprised. I would have thought her gossipy enough to reveal all the internecine politics of the Gieloth!

You hear a slight tone of amusement, but you keep quiet.

Suffice to say, I have no love for my lord, nor the foolish little errands that he sends me out on. There are far greater concerns we should be facing than dealing with petty little Earthling squabbles.

You sigh. “Can you get to the point? I'm trying to have dinner here, if you haven't noticed.”

Sekhenun was right, you are pretty rude. Here is what I propose... I will bring you before Marduk... unbroken. Then you shall take him by surprise, and slay him.

“What do you get out of this?”

I will get what I want, you will get a bountiful reward from me, and Marduk will get what he deserves. Is that a good enough answer?

“Not really. Next question: How can I trust you?”

It's simple. I could break you right now and send my army to fetch your body once your men are in disarray. I won't. Tomorrow morning, you will come to the Babylonian camp, alone. I will dismantle the tower as a sign of good faith, when you are a hundred paces from the gates, and once you are with me, my army will retreat. Your men might even think you died heroically to chase us away. Wouldn't that be nice?

This Gieloth was particularly talkative. Then again, the ones you had met since awakening from your slumber were quite chatty, unlike the two you had dealt with before. What should you do? He was holding your mind hostage to try to get you to accede to his demands – on the other hand, could he really deliver on his threat?


A. You accept his offer, and prepare to head to Sumeria with this weird Gieloth. Having felt his power, you have no doubt that he could crush your mind should he choose to, and with you gone, the leaderless fortress would fall with the next assault. His words may not be entirely truthful, but you don't think you have any other choice. You can decide what to do next after you arrive in Sumeria.

B. You pretend to accept his offer. Tomorrow, once he dismantles the tower, you will use his own foolishness against him and destroy his army. He is no threat without that sorcerous building of his, and in close combat, you are confident you can strike him down before he can concentrate his psychic abilities on you.

C. You grasp the Honourblade tightly and steel yourself against the impending assault – you will reject his offer and call his bluff. You do not trust a single word he says, and if he could have crushed your mind that easily you are sure he would have done it a long time ago. You beat his forces back today, you will continue to do so tomorrow, and the day after that, until every last one of his men is dead.

D. Rather than having him crush your mind, you'd rather sacrifice yourself to destroy him! YOU UNLEASH THE EARTHQUAKE! If the tower was still parked where it was, he'd plummet, along with it, into the abyss.

Chapter 3.23: Dawn of the Middle Kingdom

Chapter 3.23: Dawn of the Middle Kingdom

"Let me think about this while I get some fresh air." you think to Nabu, and to your men, you say, "I'm going up on the walls for a bit." Your men nod at you, subdued; a few dozen more of their comrades had been lost tonight to their wounds. Many would not live to see the day... and if Nabu attacked, all of them wouldn't. At the walls, you look at the tower in the distance. In the night it looked even more monstrous than it was in the daytime. You could just about make out a faint human figure at the top of the tower. Nabu, probably. You wave at him.

Ah, so there you are. I am looking forward to being able to meet you in person. One way or another.

"I don't think it's going to work out, Nabu. Your offer is much appreciated, but I have another option here."

Which is?

You do not respond, but instead raise the Honourblade aloft.

You sure you want to do this?


I guess we'll see you around, then. In a thousand years or so.
Don't get killed before then, kid.

You close your eyes, and focus on the Honourblade again. For just an instant, you can feel the earth. You feel every grain of sand, every rock, every little critter hastily burrowing away from the area, knowing what comes next. You feel the fault, an ugly, jagged line snaking across the land. You feel the pits that you have dug... and you bring down the full force of your will on the fault, The Honourblade wails, and so does your body and mind, screaming in protest at the stress you are putting them through. You can almost feel your body trying to tear itself apart from the forces you are playing with. Still, it works. The earth quakes.

Oh shit. This was well played, immortal.

You steel your mind, waiting for the parting shot, but it never comes. Instead, you watch as the rumbling ground opens up with a hideous, cracking noise and the tower tumbles into the depths, along with the screaming Babylonians. All around you, the Egyptians have rushed to the walls to see what has happened. It takes a few minutes for the fact of the matter to sink in... but when it does, they begin cheering and celebrating. "Master Runi!" You hear Netzi behind you, and you turn to meet him.

"... who are you? Why are you dressed in the general's armour?" he hisses.

You put a hand up to your face. You must have lost control of your shape-shifting, reverting back to your Sumerian appearance. You see Netzi putting his hands on his sword, ready to draw. No one else seems to have noticed you yet, lost in their celebrations. "Netzi." you whisper. His eyes widen. "How do you know my name?" He is caught off guard for a second, and you take that chance to run past him. He does not order your men - no, his men now - to chase after you.

You would not see him again.


After leaving Tjaru, you drifted from town to town. The first thing you realized was that you could no longer hear the voices. The second thing you found out was that your wounds no longer healed faster than normal men. You were powerless. You had none of your former capabilities to call open. You were still very fast and strong for a human, but you no longer surpassed human limits. Your telepathic abilities were similarly gone, leaving the world a darker, less comfortable place for you.

As for what happened after...

Your Egyptian persona, Runi, became hailed as a demi-god, a son of Osiris who defeated a demonic cult and then escorted a 10,000 strong Babylonian army to meet his father in the underworld. These tales spread far and wide across Egypt thanks to your old companions. Astarth himself encouraged the myth of once having a demi-god that served under his command. You attended your own funeral in secret - you had no corpse for them to bury, but a carving of you was entombed in a small pyramid near Heliopolis, along with all the wealth you'd earned in Astarth's service. Your companions grieved dearly for your departure, but you knew you could not reveal yourself, not while Astarth was alive.

Marduk did not act after losing his army at Tjaru. Having lost his two most powerful lieutenants to you, not to mention nearly all of his 8000 men, he seemed content to rebuild his strength and bide his time in Babylonia. Astarth, however, was not so patient after crushing Thebes. Five years after the siege of Tjaru, he launched an assault into Sumeria. You were not there with the army - somehow you didn't feel like getting involved - but you know, from the tattered, limping remnants of the Egyptian army hobbling back home, that it ended badly. Netzi lost his life leading the troops against the cities of Sumer. The campaign had went well at first, but once they entered the Sumerian heartland, a year after they set off from Egypt, Marduk had struck back. Rumours told of vast armies of shadow, though of course, you couldn't confirm it.

Astarth survived, but he was a broken man. The wounds from Sumeria left him in constant pain and sickness. He was never able to go to war again. Ten years after his disastrous campaign, he died in his bed, as his wounds finally took their toll. Before he passed on, he did one surprising act - he adopted your old friend Akil as his son. Akil had been working tirelessly to administer Egypt while he was off campaigning and during his frequent periods of sickness. There was no struggle for power from his generals, no horrible civil war tearing Egypt apart again. The memory of the last one was still fresh in everyone's minds, and Akil had already proven himself capable of running the kingdom.

He ascended as Pharaoh after Astarth's passing, with Mutyre as his consort. That was another thing that surprised and pleased you - you had no idea they had become that close. Around that time, a Child of Sekhenun, who had escaped Thebes before its fall, raised its head trying to start a cult near Heracleopolis. You were close to that city at the time, having visited Memphis to witness your friend's coronation. You decided to try to destroy it before it could grow into a big problem for Egypt.

You overestimated your human strength. The attempt succeeded, but it nearly cost you your life. It took months for your wounds to heal, but at last Egypt was totally free of any Gieloth influence. Before you left the villagers who had nursed you, grateful for your help in stopping the cult, you gave them the name "Runi", so that people would know that the myth was still alive. You spent the next twenty years travelling around Egypt, slaying bandits and helping people under that name, but you never stayed around to take credit for your deeds personally. After all, you still didn't age - it seems a bit of power still lies within you, keeping you eternally young. The Honourblade, your faithful companion, too remained perpetually sharp. You could not change its shape, or get it to perform any of the feats you could have done before, but at least you didn't need to waste precious coin keeping it well-maintained.

You knew that by using the name "Runi", Akil would know you were still alive, and be comforted. He sent out men to look for you, but always you managed to slip away, leaving behind nothing but your deeds. If he met you, you would have to explain it all to him. It was simpler to stay away.

And so, time passed...


The port city of Pikuat was bustling. You had ended up here, trying to find work - bandits were rare nowadays, and with it, grateful villages who would offer food and shelter as thanks. Akil's grandson proved to be an even more capable ruler than his grandfather was, and Egypt was thriving. You muse that you might have to raid your own tomb for treasures to sell if this goes on. You think it might be time to move on from Egypt - maybe back to Sumeria. From what the voices have last said, it would take at least a thousand years for your powers to recover in full. It would be a long wait.

Today you were headed to meet a noble lady, who had sent out a call for able warriors to escort her on a trip. It appeared to pay very well, enough to last you at least another season, so this was a job that you could not miss. You reached the meeting point at an inn - there were many, many other strong men from all over Egypt and elsewhere gathered. Competition was going to be strong. You had registered under the name of Runi; it was a very popular name nowadays. There were little step pyramids devoted to you all around the Nile Delta.

"Master Runi?" You turn and see a slender, young girl looking up at you. "Yes, that's me."

"Ah, I didn't get the wrong person after all! I am a handmaiden of Lady Mehrune. She'd like to meet you now." Mehrune... that was the noble lady that had put out this job notice. It looks like you were in luck today. You follow the handmaiden.

She leads you to a room upstairs. "Lady Mehrune is right in here, please head in." You do so... and as you enter, you hear the girl step in after you and bolt the door. You feel your skin prickling.

"I see you are utterly oblivious without your powers, dog."

You know that amused, mocking tone of voice. Turning around, you see you weren't wrong. The young handmaiden had taken on a familiar form.


"It's been a long time, hasn't it? It's a good thing to see you haven't aged a day."

She hasn't, either. You wonder what she wants with you, after all this time.

"It looks like you've made good use of the weapon I taught you to make, too." she continues, glancing at the Honourblade hanging from your waist. "Have you named it yet?"

"No, not yet. Why are you here?"

"Looks like time hasn't cured your lack of manners."

"I prefer to find out what I'm getting into before I start being polite."

Sekhenun sighs. "I'm here to ask for your help."

"I don't think -"

"Yes, I know what has happened to you. I'm telling you that I have a way to fix it. Now, will you shut up and let me tell a story?"

You shrug.

"Anyway, there is something happening with the Gieloth. I am not sure what is going on myself, but there have been... problems."

You know what she is talking about. Despite the loss of your powers, you still had access to the Gieloth network, and recently you had caught many flashes of encrypted messages you could not decipher, though those messages were tinted with feelings of panic.

"At any rate, I need your help to look into this - consider this a plea. In return, I will show you how to get your powers back. I mean, I do need your strength in this - so it's not like I'm doing this out of the goodness of my own heart."

"Your own black heart, you mean."

"Ever the charmer, I see."

"So, how do you propose I get my powers back?"

"It's simple. Lady Mehrune is hiring some armed escorts to go to Crete. We will go along with her, and there we will find the artifact that will revive your powers."

"That sounds really mysterious and shifty. How can I trust you?"

"Oh for Me'kras's sake, you -"

There is a knock at the door, interrupting Sekhenun. "Are you there, Sekhe? Lady Mehrune is calling for you."

"I'm coming!" she calls, in a young, innocent voice. Then she turns back to you, irritated. "Look, dog, take my offer or not. I don't care, but decide quickly. You can have fun waiting a thousand years trying to evade death for all I care." You guess the choice is simple...

A. Go.

B. Don't go.

Chapter Four: Search for Power

Chapter 4.1: Setting Sail

Chapter 4.1: Setting Sail

“Fine, I’ll go. I was planning to move on anyway.”

“Perfect.” Sekhenun smiles. “I was about to scream for help if you didn’t agree.”

She unbolts the door and opens it. You follow her, wondering what you had gotten yourself into. It was not long before you were introduced to Mehrune, descended from one of Akil’s relatives who had found themselves nobility when he became Pharaoh. She passes by without even sparing you a further glance.

The preparations for the trip took up the better part of the week. Besides you, there were nine other warriors hired to accompany Mehrune on this trip. You did not see Sekhenun after that first day, until you boarded the ship. Once the ship had set sailed, she came to meet you, briefing you on your quest in Crete.

Crete was ruled by a Gieloth who called himself King Minos. According to Sekhenun, Minos had an artifact, similar to the Sceptre of Ra, stored within his palace. She believes that she can use it to revive your powers, which are merely dormant and not lost. Minos has grown more and more comfortably decadent in the past few decades, and had invited an emissary from Egypt to visit his little kingdom as a prelude to proposing an alliance. When Sekhenun sniffed that tidbit out, she wasted no time in becoming a trusted handmaiden of said emissary, and made sure you knew of the well-paying job.

“What is Minos planning by inviting Mehrune? Does he plan to infiltrate the Egyptian court as well?” you ask.

Sekhenun shakes her head. “I don’t think so. He has grown comfortable in his skin after so many years. All I have heard points to Minos being obsessed with the ruling of his little island. He appears to be thinking only about securing his seat of power in Crete.”

“That’s not very Gieloth-like, from what I know.” You no longer had the ability to interpret the remnants of Pahnrath’s knowledge ever since you lost your powers, but you still knew their basic modus operandi: infiltrate and spread. To be concerned with just ruling one island was not a trait of theirs.

“This is the first time we’ve needed to spend so much time inside a host. Something about the inhabitants of this little mudball doesn’t suit our physiology.” Sekhenun sighs, and throws a wad of papyrus at you. “Many of the first-comers who took on a host-form no longer think as they should. They’ve changed.”

“Have you changed as well?”

She remains silent for a while. “Maybe. Or maybe it’s because of that stupid lower life-form diet you forced me on.” Standing up, Sekhenun leaves you without saying anything else.


Five days into your journey, the ship stopped by the island of Cyprus to replenish its supplies and allow the crew some rest. The rowers were to be given rest for two days, and then head out for Crete; which would take another week.

Right after you arrive at Cyprus, Mehrune gathers all of the men she hired. She remains quiet, her face unmoving, allowing her chief handmaiden to speak for her.

“I have heard that on Cyprus, there is an eternally young priestess who makes particularly effective love charms. Our Lady is slightly interested, and as such has decided to send out a delegation to visit this priestess. We will need two brave warriors to go with us.”

Eternally young priestess? Could it be another immortal? You wonder if you should leave the ship and volunteer to go. You look at Sekhenun, standing behind the chief handmaiden, hoping she’ll have some guidance – you see her blinking at you and twitching her face around. You have no idea what she’s trying to convey… why can’t she just beam her voice into your head as usual?

A. You volunteer to go. A chance to meet another immortal is too rare to pass up, no matter what dangers you might face. Who knows what aid she might offer you?

B. You stay on the ship – you no longer have regenerative powers, and now that you know you have a chance at regaining your powers soon, you should not take too much risk and save your strength to face the challenges at Crete instead.


Regarding the name, I think the ones with most support are Anbar-Shi, Enki's Lament and Sekhenun? Let's narrow it down to these three for voting - we can always change the name later if we want to.

1. Anbar-Shi
2. Enki's Lament
3. Sekhenun

Chapter 4.2: Aphrodite

A - 12
B - 9

Anbar-Shi - 10
Enki's Lament - 6
Sekhenun - 3

Well, so the Honourblade has an official name, Anbar-Shi, but Ean would look pretty silly naming his sword and all when both he and it are powerless right now, so I'll work it in sometime later in a more suitable and deserving manner.

Regarding immortal power levels - Ean is one of the oldest. There were probably not more than a handful of other immortals who could have beaten him in a straight fight with Anbar-Shi in hand. Things may and will change further down the road as the world expands.


Chapter 4.2: Aphrodite

You raise your hand and volunteer for the mission - immediately the chief handmaiden points you to stand to one side. Another warrior follows you soon after. At the same time, you see Sekhenun close her eyes and take a deep breath. Next, she walks over to the chief handmaiden and whispers in her ear. There is a brief exchange of harried words, and then the chief handmaiden appears to give a sigh of resignation and nods. She turns to another of the handmaidens and more words are exchanged. Finally, four handmaidens, including Sekhenun and the chief herself, come over. Sekhenun comes to your side as the chief handmaiden leads the way off into the island.

"Your nobility is endearing. I'm glad that you feel that regaining your powers with my help are secondary to running around looking for eternal priestesses."

You glance at her. "Didn't you want me to volunteer?"

Giving a small snort of disgust, she mutters under her breath, "So you get me to babysit you because of a misunderstanding. Have you no grasp of social cues, ape?"

"Oh, so it's 'ape' now? Why couldn't you just send your thoughts into my head anyway?"

"Sometimes I wonder why I don't just break our deal and eat you right now. That'd solve most of my problems in a flash." A glint of sudden, dangerous hunger comes into her eyes, and you decide to drop the matter for now.


The priestess's shrine was located a few hours away from the port. The walk (you couldn't march, because of the handmaidens) along the coast was breezy and comfortable under the warm sun. Along the way, you met many pilgrims, both locals and outsiders, who were here to visit the shrine. You learnt from them that the priestess was named Aphrodite, and had apparently mysteriously come ashore at the site of the shrine fifty years ago. She had not aged a day since, and exhibited great skill in the art of making love charms and potions.

It does not take long before you reach the shrine, walking along the rocky beach. As you part the veils and enter, the fragrant scent of incense assails your nose.

"Ah, travellers." A sweet, melodious voice fills your ears. In the center of the shrine, surrounded by numerous well-built men and nicely-shaped women, kneels a young woman draped in gossamer-thin white cloth, her long dark hair flowing down a flawless back. Her skin was of a pale shade that you had never seen before in all your travels. You feel a slight, familiar tingle in your mind, akin to the murmur of your long silent voices, which subsides almost immediately.

"I am Aphrodite. Welcome to my shrine. What do you seek here?" She stands up and approaches you. Standing so close, you realize that she is the singularly most attractive woman you have ever met. You cannot understand why, you simply know that she is attractive, and your body reacts thusly. Besides you, the other hired sword was already swaying. Even the handmaidens seem entranced by the priestess.

The chief handmaiden, sweating - you're not sure whether it is due to Aphrodite, or the walk - speaks up. "Divine priestess, my lady Mehrune of Egypt seeks your blessing in matters of love. We have heard that there is no greater than yourself in these matters."

Aphrodite makes a slow, small nod. "Of course, that is what everyone asks of me. I will require a price to be paid."

"Name it and it shall be paid."

Aphrodite grabs your arm suddenly, and you feel faint. "I require only this man." She leans in and whispers to you, "You are like me, are you not? I have not met another of my kind before, so stay with me for a while. I think we will have much to share." She pauses for a while. "My voices tell me that you have lost something, and they can provide me with the means to return it to you."

The chief handmaiden claps her hands once. "You shall have this man, great priestess, in return for your charms."

You turn to look at Sekhenun. She remains silent, waiting to see what you'd do. There is a slight smile curled around her lips, as if she was saying "I told you so."


A. You agree to the request. Another immortal could aid you better than a Gieloth could. You already felt the voices stirring in the brief instant you met her - spending more time with Aphrodite could awaken the voices again without having to go on a dangerous trip to Crete.

B. You reject the request diplomatically. It is not wise to anger another immortal in your powerlessness. She does not seem hostile; placating her with words and reasoning your way out would be the best option you have.

C. You reject the request roughly. Aphrodite may be attempting to influence you with her powers - speaking nicely would never work. You shake her hand off you before she has the chance to do anything else and be on your guard for any further tricks.

D. HELP ME, SEKHENUN! She's here to babysit you, in her own words - so she better do her job now.

Chapter 4.3: Vagaries of the Love Priestess

B by a landslide after all that flopping, it seems.


Chapter 4.3: Vagaries of The Love Priestess


The priestess’s face lights up with a dazzling smile as you speak her name. It takes all your willpower to resist following it up with a declaration of love.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot stay. My path leads me elsewhere for now.” You speak softly but firmly. She merely continues smiling, and says, “Your path ends here, my warrior. You think so too, right?”

You feel her fingers digging into your arm, and instinctively you try to pull away – but you find that you cannot, and you begin to panic. Aphrodite appears to be stronger than she looks. You feel a cloud begin to descend over your mind… and it clears away moments later. Aphrodite widens her eyes, clearly shocked. She casts harried looks over her shrine, before settling her gaze on Sekhenun, standing meekly near the exit. A moment later, the immortal priestess’s expression turns into one of bemusement.

“Well, what do we have here? Do you know you travel with one of those disgusting things? No, that doesn’t matter… it fended me off to protect your mind. Clearly it thinks you are useful, or important.” She lets go off your arm, giggling.

“It will be extremely interesting to see where this partnership ends up. I think you will entertain me more by continuing to travel with that monster, rather than being by my side.” Her voice drops into a seductive purr. “Of course, a man who can attract the protection of his mortal enemy certainly attracts me. Who knows… I might even close up this little shrine and come with you. The best of both worlds… isn’t that a good idea?”

You don’t think that would be a good idea.

“Ah, but not today. Today I need to finish up with Duka’s initiation ritual,” she muses, pointing to a strapping young lad who stared back in an unnerving but loving manner. “So I guess you can leave now, my dear warrior. I promise we will meet in the future, so please do not miss me too much.”

The chief handmaiden pipes up. “But, great priestess, what about the love potion you promised my lady?”

“Ah yes, the potion! Here you go." Aphrodite somehow produces a vial from her almost transparent robes, and gives it to you. The chief handmaiden smiles and walks over to you to get the vial, but before she reaches it, Aphrodite speaks again. "A price still needs to be paid, of course, but I would rather not take this man right now. I suppose everyone besides him and that mousy little girl by the door should stay. They can bring the potion back to your lady.”

The chief handmaiden’s face turns pale. Clearly she doesn’t relish the idea of being stuck in Aphrodite’s shrine, regardless of any pleasures it may offer. She opens her mouth to protest. "The potion... might we return it?" ventures the chief handmaiden timidly.

Aphrodite giggles. "No. I don't accept returns."

You look at Sekhenun – this time she is clearly giving you a “Let’s go while we still can” look. At least, you hope she is.


A. You abandon the other handmaidens and the mercenary. The chief handmaiden gladly offered you in return for the potion – you owe them no favours. It is best not to push your luck with Aphrodite now that she is willing to let you leave.

B. You cannot stand by and watch others get trapped in a fate that you did not desire for yourself. You do not know what Aphrodite has in store for them, but you are pretty sure it involves slavery of their minds – you cannot abide abandoning them to that.

Chapter 4.4: The Palace of Knossos

Sorry for the delay, had to fix up some work-related stuff after returning from vacation.


Chapter 4.4: The Palace of Knossos

Though you did not like it, you felt no obligation to save the others from their fate. Mehrune herself did not seem concerned with the fate of her own men and women, gladly accepting the potion from Sekhenun and elevating her to the position of chief. Thankfully, the ship departed from Cyprus without further incident, and you were soon in Crete after an uneventful sail.

The ship docked in the port town of Amnisos - from there you would proceed to the palace of Knossos by land. The port itself was a lively one - under Minos's rule, Crete had became an important kingdom in the Aegean. As you disembark, you notice a particular ship bearing black sails. Curious, you ask a nearby sailor where that ship is from.

"That one's from Athens, young master." spoke the sailor grimly. "They angered old Minos many years ago, killed his eldest son they did. From then on, he had them send seven young lads and seven young lasses every seven years as tribute for the Labyrinth."


The sailor's voice dropped in a hush. "Aye. The Labyrinth. I'm not much for rumours, young master, and such things are best not spoken of outside Knossos if you don't want to find yourself a participant." So speaking, he waves you on.


The palace of Knossos was every bit as impressive as you had heard. You could not help but marvel at the beautifully decorated corridors and carved statues. Whatever Minos was, he seemed to be a patron of the arts. There seemed to be a lot of bulls depicted, though.

Minos himself was strong and broad-shouldered, with a grizzled head of hair that betrayed his age. Though you knew what he hid inside that human body, he did not seem to notice you or Sekhenun as he greeted Mehrune and her entourage. Dinner was as impressive as his palace - you had not eaten so well in years. Minos played host with his two daughters, Ariadne and Phaedra; his wife, Pasiphae, had not been seen for many years, and he cheerfully apologized for her continued absence. You wonder about the parentage of the daughters, and make a note to ask Sekhenun about it later. At the dinner were 14 other youths - these had to be the Athenians the sailor had mentioned. All but one of them, a confident looking young man, looked pale and terrified, despite the feast put in front of them. You notice the Athenian youth glancing at Ariadne and Phaedra, and they at him, all through dinner. Minos doesn't notice.

As the night drew on and everyone retired to their rooms, you decided to look for Sekhenun to discuss your next course of action. You had not been able to talk to her much, as her new duties as chief handmaiden did not afford her much free time. Now that you were in Knossos, it was imperative that you work out a plan to obtain the artifact. She had let you know the location of her room right after dinner. As you wandered through the vast corridors of the palace, you notice the Athenian youth in front of you, walking in another direction.


A. You sneak after and follow the Athenian. You are sure Minos would not have allowed them free movement within the palace - there is something suspicious here, something you might be able to use to your own advantage. You can talk with Sekhenun after finding out what the Athenian is up to.

B. You ignore the Athenian and press forward to your meeting with Sekhenun. He is probably having a tryst with Minos's daughters, considering what went on at dinnertime - that in itself is more trouble than you want to find yourself in.

Chapter 4.5: The Love Potion

Chapter 4.5: The Love Potion

"Have you found out anything about the artifact?"

Sekhenun greets you by getting straight down to business. You shake your head. She gives you a slight, smile, as if she had scored a slight victory over you.

"It looks like I'm the one who has to do all the thinking around here, then? Very well, here's what we... no, here's what I know about the artifact so far. It's shaped like a golden bull statuette, Minos has it kept in his treasure vault, and apparently the only way to get there is via the Labyrinth."

"I suppose we're not going into this Labyrinth right now because it is confusing, dangerous, and possibly lethal?"

"Yes, very astute observation." Sekhenun chuckles. "Minos is rumoured to have kept away a creation of his, a man-bull hybrid, in the Labyrinth. I'm not sure how much of the tale is true, but I do know there are plenty of traps and beasts prowling the maze. He throws Athenians and any other people he dislikes into the Labyrinth as a trial. If they survive, he spares them and showers them with riches. I think the Athenians are going in tomorrow."

"Does Minos have a map of some sorts? If he has a treasure vault within, surely he needs to get in and out without getting lost."

"That's a very good question. Would you like to volunteer to sneak into Minos's heavily guarded chambers to search for it?"

That'd probably be a very bad idea.

"How are our chances of getting in and out of the maze without a map, then?"

Sekhenun thinks about it for a while, and then speaks. "I estimate a 0.5% chance of successfully navigating the Labyrinth without any navigational aid."

"Surely we could leave something to mark our way... like, string, or something?"

"That's great, maybe you could make sure the string doesn't get cut by traps or monsters or that you don't lose it while fending off dozens of bull-headed dogs?"

"Bull-headed dogs?"

"Minos is known to have a fetish. Anyway, here's what I propose."

She brings out a familiar vial... it appears to be the same one you obtained from Aphrodite. Looks like Sekhenun didn't give Mehrune the real thing.

"We take the short cut, make Minos fall uncontrollably in love with you, and have him just give us the orb."


"It's a love potion, it works even on animals. I've tweaked it to work exceptionally well on Gieloth physiology too. I must say, Aphrodite is very devious."

"No, I mean, why me?"

"You're the one who absolutely needs your powers back, right? Why should I be taking the risk of being wooed by that randy bull-lover?"

You think on this a bit further. Surely there is another way out.


A. You agree to become the subject of Minos's affections and seduce him into giving you the orb. It's not a role you have any experience in playing, but the potion should give you a great advantage. In any case, this is your responsibility.

B. You persuade Sekhenun to take your place - she is much better in cases of subterfuge, deception and seduction, and her chances would be far higher. You convince her this is the best way to make the mission succeed.

C. You think out of the box... You don't really fancy having yourself or Sekhenun as the target of Minos's affections. However, his daughters might be able to help you obtain a map or even the artifact itself. You find a way to give them the love potion instead.

D. Map? You don't need no map! You go into the Labyrinth tomorrow, with the Athenians. Sekhenun will probably refuse to enter the Labyrinth blind, without any certainty of escaping, but you would rather not rely on a love potion from Aphrodite.

E. This is really all too risky. You tell Sekhenun to call off the whole thing, and to just enjoy this sunny vacation in Crete. You will get your powers back in a thousand years anyway.

Chapter 4.6: A Tangled Web

Chapter 4.6: A Tangled Web

"Do you think Minos's daughters would be able to get access to something that can help us?" you ask. Sekhenun narrows her eyes. "Maybe. I don't know. Are you thinking of wasting the potion on those two brats, when you could just use it to get Minos to hand the artifact over to you?"

"I think it's safer than risking my own body, that's all. Minos is a Gieloth, and I don't know what he will or can do to me. It's pointless to trade my own life for the artifact."

"Ah, I see you've grown to be more cautious and sly without your powers. The heroic do-gooder is now a more careful person, eh?" grins Sekhenun. You sigh in response to her jibe. "I suppose we can give it a try. Those daughters of his are creations, as far as I can tell. They are more akin to humans than they are Gieloth, but they have a bit of the traits of both species. The potion should work. Hold your hand out."

You do so, and a wickedly curved knife flashes out, catching you by surprise and nicking your thumb. Sekhenun swiftly collects the blood that drips out and mixes it into the potion.

"Now, leave the potion to me. I'll make sure the two go head over heels for you." She begins cackling just a bit, and you wonder if you can fully trust her.


It worked, almost beyond your wildest dreams. Right after breakfast, when Sekhenun was supposed to have spiked their meals, you were cornered by Ariadne and Phaedra in one of the palace's gardens. The two were unmistakeably sisters, down to their shoulder-length curls, light brown eyes, and the confident ferocity in their glare.

"Take us." says Ariadne.

A bold statement to be making in broad daylight, in her father's palace. You can't help but blush a bit. "What? Right here?"

"No, my love, take us away from here." said Phaedra.

"I don't think it's a good idea to be taking you at this time, whether it's here or in your chambers." you protest. It was a good way of getting Minos to kill you before you'd managed to do anything.

"We want you to take us from Knossos, we want to travel with you, love." cries Ariadne.

"Oh." You take a moment to recover your composure. "I... I would be delighted to travel with such fair maidens, but I am afraid I cannot leave until I have accomplished my quest here." you begin.

"What is your quest?" Phaedra looks up at you shyly.

"I need your father to bestow upon me a little trinket from his treasury, a small golden bull statue. It is not much, but it was a relic of my village. It was lost when monsters sacked the village and killed my father. I have journeyed long and far to find this trinket, and only recently have I heard that the great King Minos, father to the most beautiful Ariadne and Phaedra, had come into possession of this insignificant little thing." You had rehearsed this proclamation last night with Sekhenun, who had not stopped giggling until you finally left the room.

"And so, my loves, I..." You see Sekhenun standing just beyond the courtyard, spying on you. She appears to be snickering. You falter for a while, your face turning red. "I... would gladly take you with me, if you would help me get this statue."

"Oh my, what a wonderful, moving tale! You are so heroic... hero? Oh, I love you so much and I don't even know your name!" gushed Ariadne. This feels so wrong to you. You shudder to imagine how Minos would have reacted after taking the potion.

"I am Runi, my lovely lady." you smile, and make a courteous bow. As you bend, you see Sekhenun in the distance with her back hunched over, her shoulders trembling with what appears to be suppressed laughter. Were you really that funny?

"Dear Runi, we do want to help you, but Father would have kept the statue in his vault in the Labyrinth." said Phaedra. "We would not dare enter it without his permission." Your spirits fall. It looks like you have wasted the potion... but Ariadne speaks up.

"However, we do know how to traverse the maze, love. Father uses a magical thread that lights up the path to where he wants to go. You just need to think of the place, and it will show the way." That sounded exactly like what you needed. You grab her hands, excited. "Where is it, Ariadne?" However, she looked crestfallen. "I am sorry, my love, I gave it to another."

As if on cue, the Athenian you saw came bounding out, exclaiming, "My love? What is the meaning of this? Had we not pledged sweet, eternal love yesternight? Why do you consort with another man?" Ariadne turns away from you, tears in her eyes. "Oh Theseus, I am so sorry. I loved you yesterday, and I still do, but today I also love Runi."

You resist the urge to run from the spot. This is very uncomfortable.

Theseus turns to face you with a smile, his chiseled, noble looks almost sparkling in the Cretan sun. "I am no man to turn down a challenge, Egyptian. I do not believe my love for Ariadne would pale against yours." You cast a look at Phaedra, who has been quiet for a while. Theseus continued. "Let us have a competition. Tonight we enter the Labyrinth. Come with me, and we shall see who slays the Minotaur first, for that is what I am here to achieve. The winner shall have the honour of Ariadne's undivided affections."

"Oh, Theseus!" exclaimed Ariadne.

"Ariadne!" exclaimed Theseus.

"...You have the thread?" you say, quietly.

"Yes, I do." So saying, Theseus reached into his tunic and brought out a sparkling, silver ball of thread that appeared to breathe, as if it were alive. It looks like your path was set. Now that you know what could lead you through the maze, it was a matter of getting your hands on it. You would have to enter the Labyrinth regardless of what else you did. Of course, it would not be wise to make any moves out in the open...


A. You attempt to persuade Theseus to let you have the thread. You use your tale of the statue to convince him that your quests do not conflict. As an added incentive, you promise to help him with the Minotaur after you have obtained the statue.

B. You go along with Theseus's attempt to slay the Minotaur first, planning to help him out so that he would be indebted to you. You will ask for the thread to search for the statue after the Minotaur is defeated, as a favour.

C. You attack Theseus in the labyrinth and grab the thread by force... the buffoon is in your way.

Chapter 4.7: The Labyrinth of the Minotaur

Overwhelming victory for B.


Chapter 4.7: The Labyrinth of the Minotaur

With Theseus’s aid, you disguised yourself and swapped places with another Athenian youth. Standing along with the other Athenians, you were lowered into the Labyrinth’s entrance by means of a platform.

Minos stands proudly at a parapet as he watches you descend. You notice his daughters looking on besides him, their faces full of concern and worry. Sekhenun stands by Mehrune’s side, who had been invited to spectate at the event. She had steadfastly refused to come along when you asked her, saying that there were preparations to be made for when you returned with the statuette. She seemed confident that you would. Minos’s voice booms, “Brave young men and women, should we meet again, you will no longer be an Athenian cur, but as good as my own family! If you die, it is as penance for the sins of your fathers! Survive, and show that you have cast away the stain of Athens!”

What a crock of bull, you think. The Gieloth must be particularly deranged. Soon the audience drops out of your sight, and only the dim light of torches holds the gloom at bay. You have entered the Labyrinth.

Once within, Theseus brings out the ball of thread. It pulses with light, and he presses it against the floor. Like a stream of water, the thread snakes into one of many grooves on the floor, and begins moving off into the dark, into one of the many corridors that exit the entrance chamber.

“This path will bring us to the Minotaur. The rest of you should stay here until we get back. Be careful, and keep your voices down.”

He appeared to be much more adult and responsible now that he was not in Ariadne’s presence. With a wave of his hand, Theseus walks off, following the thread. You fall in behind him, matching his footsteps.


The path through the Labyrinth was utterly confusing. You could do nothing but follow the thread laid out before you. Corridors and hallways split and joined up again and again, and you know that without the thread you would have a slim chance of finding your way anywhere in the Labyrinth. You frequently spot shadows skittering off in the corner of your eye, yet when you turn to look nothing is there. You wonder why the monsters that Sekhenun warned you about do not attack.

As you continue following the thread, you notice that it occasionally makes big berths around particular stones on the ground. “Best to follow the thread closely, Runi. Ariadne told me that the thread also ensures you don’t step into one of the thousands of traps Minos had laid in this maze.” Theseus muttered, noticing that you were glancing at the path. Just then, you hear a loud bellow coming from the hallways in front of you. It goes on for many seconds, before fading away.

“The Minotaur!” gasps Theseus. “It is close. Prepare yourself and remember, the one that strikes the killing blow will gain Ariadne’s hand.”

You don’t need reminding – you’ll be sure to let him have the last strike on Minos’s pet beast. All you want right now is what you came here for.

The thread comes to an abrupt end, and Theseus stops. You are in a large, round chamber. The smell hits you before your eyes see anything – you know this scent well. Death and decay. All around you lie piles of bones and slightly rotting flesh. In the center of the chamber stood an enormous stone slab, and atop it sat the Minotaur, staring straight at you. It bellowed again, eyes glowing red in the gloom.

The Minotaur stood up. It was a veritable giant, nearly twice your height, and almost as wide. In its hands it wielded a double-headed axe almost the size of a small tree. Huge, powerful muscles rippled down its entire body as it stretched.

You gulp. Even at your peak this thing could’ve been a problem for you. Theseus stands unmoving in front of you, frozen in fear. He had not expected such a beast. The Minotaur takes one step forward, its head lowered and its horns pointed threateningly right at you. You scan the area, trying to figure out a way to defeat this monster, when Theseus turns to you. His face is pale, and his eyes are slightly unfocused. He seems angry, and then confused, but suddenly yells a battle cry, “For Ariadne!” and charges right at the Minotaur.

The kid has guts, you’ll have to give him that.

He came flying back the next second, batted away by a blow from the Minotaur. It thundered towards him without delay. You step in and slash at the Minotaur’s legs as it charges past you single-mindedly, towards the fallen Theseus. With a roar of anger, it stumbles and pauses its charge. The huge axe goes up above its head, and falls upon you, powered by the monster’s mighty muscles. Luckily such a blow was easy to predict; you roll to the side easily. Springing to your feat, you duck under another wild swing and inflict more cuts on the Minotaur with your sword. Though your blade sinks into its flesh, you can feel a lot of resistance, and you are unable to cut deeply. This is not a monster you can fell with mortal strength. Suddenly, the Minotaur bellows loudly and swings its axe at you again. Unable to dodge this one, you raise your sword to block it. There is a loud ring of metal, and you are flung backwards, stopping only when you hit the wall. Your sword arm trembles. If it had been any other weapon other than the Honourblade, that powerful blow would have shattered it. You stagger to your feet. The Minotaur begins striding towards you, snorting.

Theseus, having recovered, jumps on the Minotaur’s back while it is still preoccupied with you. He hooks his sword under the Minotaur’s neck and pulls back on it hard. The blade cuts into the Minotaur, but again it fails to go deep enough to do any harm. Theseus continues clinging on as the Minotaur sways its body violently from side to side. He is smashed against a wall with a loud crash, and he loses his grip. As he falls, you see the ball of thread drop from his body.


A. This is your chance! You grab the thread and head for the treasure vault immediately. There is no time to waste attempting killing such a huge and tough monster. Sekhenun had told you, before you left, that just getting near to the statuette would awaken a bit of your powers, so you can always come back to confront the beast afterwards, when you are on more equal ground. You cannot take too much of a risk now, so close to your goal.

B. You grab the thread… to prevent it from getting lost in the battle. Then, you attack the Minotaur again. This is foolhardy, yes, but if you leave Theseus now he will surely be killed. Abandoning a brave soul to the Minotaur leaves a bitter taste in your mouth – if this is the price to pay for regaining immortality, you do not want it. You might get seriously injured, or even die a foolish death, but you cannot go against your heart.

Chapter 4.8: Power

Sorry for the delay, was stuck without a computer to work with. Looks like B has it.

Chapter 4.8: Power

The choice was simple. You picked up the thread and threw yourself at the Minotaur to prevent it from smashing Theseus into pulp. Darting in between the mindless, brutal attacks of the beast, you harry it with quick slashes that are meant only to get its attention. You know that striking hard at your current strength wouldn’t be sufficient, and would only serve to slow you down enough for the Minotaur to actually hit you once – which is all it needed. Your muscles were already groaning from the effort of constantly leaping about, however, and you don’t know how long you could keep it up. It was only a matter of time before that axe split you apart. Theseus, regaining his breath, looks around the chamber.

“Runi!” he yells. “Lead it to the passageway right behind you. The traps! Use the traps!”

The trapped corridors. You take one last swing at the Minotaur, and begin backing away swiftly. As expected, the dumb brute comes after you. You move into the corridor, watching your step. So did the Minotaur. You gawk. It appears to be able to see where the trapped stones are, and steps around them with lumbering strides. The corridor wasn’t narrow enough that it couldn’t continue attacking, and you realize that the confined space allowed you even less space to dodge its attacks. It didn’t need to move much to generate enough force to pulverize you. You duck another powerful slash, and reply with a quick cut across its wrist. Just then, your luck runs out. Your fatigue catches up with you, and you slow down for the briefest of moments… and the Minotaur grabs your body with its huge fist. Immediately you feel a crushing pressure on your body; your bones creak, your organs squirm, and you scream. It raises you to its face. The bull’s jaws open wide, and you can smell the fetid stench of its breath.

You raise your sword arm, Honourblade in hand, and in a last desperate act of defiance you thrust it at the Minotaur’s head. It catches the blade in its eye. The beast bellows and squeezes down tightly with its fist. Your torso goes to mush, and you scream again and again. The pain is unlike anything you’ve ever felt. It hurls you down the corridor – you fly and splat against a nearby wall. You cannot move. Your body is done for. Your organs are crushed. You think you can see your legs at a considerably different angle from your body. You just wonder why you aren’t dead yet, why the pain hasn’t robbed you of all your senses. Hearing a loud bellow, you watch as the enraged Minotaur charges down the corridor at you, bleeding profusely from one eye.

It forgets to watch its step.

Well, the stone was in its new blind-spot anyway.

There is a click.

A solid block of stone slams down on the Minotaur, ignoring its monstrous strength. The head of the bull pops off and rolls to your side. Even in death its rage-filled visage was hideous.

As the trap raises, you see Theseus walking towards you. Looking down at you with pity and sorrow, he searches through your smashed body for the thread, which he pockets. Then, he picks up the bull’s head with some difficulty. You manage to open your mouth, croaking out a word. “…statuette.” If he managed to bring it to you, you might have a chance of regenerating. Theseus closes his eyes. He appears to be struggling with himself. His hands balls into fists and tremble. When he opens his eyes, they are blank.

“I’m sorry. You were a brave fighter, but I love Ariadne far too much to risk my life any further.” He picks up the Honourblade, fallen by your side. “All I can give you now is a quick death.” And with that, he drives it through your neck, and you know no more.


Well, looks like you couldn’t last without us, kid.

A voice breaks the solitude of the darkness. No… many voices.

“How are you guys talking to me?”

I suppose you could say that you’re nearly as dead as we are.
That’s why you can perceive us.

“I’m dead, then?”

Almost. There’s that littlest spark of you still living. Good thing it got stuck in your body.
Guess where it is?

Even before they finish speaking, you know.

“The Honourblade. You’ve been watching me?”

We’ve been asleep, mostly, but your memories are easily accessed.
Well, boy, to be honest, if you die, we do die with you. There doesn’t seem to be any other way out of this…
That sword of yours was designed by those tendriled monsters. It works as they do.
It can give you one last shot. Here, we'll show you.

You feel a sudden hunger. The urge to devour permeates your very essence.

Eat us.


You’ve been a really kind lad, and this is why we’re making this offer. Consume us.
Sure, this is going to bring down a shit load of attention on you from the masters AND the Gieloth, but we think you’ve always done the right thing… or at least, tried to. We think you can handle this.
You deserve another chance. For old time’s sake.

“How’s this going to help… me eating you?” The hunger is getting stronger.

Oh, we don’t really know. At best it will use our energy to spark your little Gieloth-made toy to full life, which in turn brings you back to life due to the conduit between you and the sword.
At worst you die. Which is what’s going to happen anyway.
You mean, at worst he becomes an undead abomination bent on devouring all in his path.
That’s a very very low probability, not even worth mentioning!
We really don’t know exactly what will happen, however. Never been tried, all theoretical!

You think for a minute. “And you will die? You’ll give up your energy so that I can live?”

Yeah, we won’t be around anymore. But we know exactly what type of person you are, and that’s why we think you can be entrusted with the power we have.
We’re a really bad batch, y’know. Rebellious and shit. You showed us with that Sekhenun incident that true defiance was possible. Kept us thinking for quite a while.

The voices laugh.

So, what’ll it be? A chance at life, or eternal rest?


A. New life, new power, another chance at setting things right on this painful world – you will pay the price to gain it. You succumb to the hunger and devour the willing voices, killing them in return for power. They will live on, eternally, as part of you - they would die uselessly anyway. You refuse to die here, rotting where no man will ever find you.

B. You are tired. You have no real purpose. Every good deed you have done is transient, easily undone. This world does not need you. There will be other immortals. There might even be other good immortals, but that does not concern you. At any rate, to ask the voices to sacrifice themselves for your folly is unthinkable. You will go with them into death, and take your eternal rest within the Labyrinth of Crete.

Chapter 4.9: Daedalus's Tower

A – 11
B – 5

Chapter 4.9: Daedalus’s Tower

You open your eyes. The sun shines brightly from a nearby window. You are no longer underground, it seems. Looking around you, you find that you are in a small room, sparsely furnished. The bed you are lying on, a wooden desk, and a chair are all that are there, enclosed by stone walls and a cheap-looking door. You can hear seagulls in the distance, and smell the sea breeze blowing in from the window.

Gritting your teeth, you raise yourself up and attempt to get yourself off the bed. It takes all your effort, and at the end of it you accomplish nothing but sprawling yourself on the floor. It appears that your body has regenerated, but you have not fully recovered yet. You feel horrendously weak and faint.

At that moment, an old man opens the door and steps through it. Seeing you on the floor, he lets out a gleeful laugh.

“Marvelous! My mysterious guest has awoken!”

He hurries to your side and helps you back on the bed. Stepping back, he gives you a once-over, glancing at your body.

“Remarkable. Regeneration and revival from death to consciousness in no more than a year. Would that I had more knowledge of the human anatomy, I could better appreciate this wonder.”

“A year?” You choke out your first words.

The old man looks you in the eye. “A year since I picked you up in the Labyrinth, boy. You were a real mess when I found you. I’d have thought you dead, but suddenly you began twitching about. Brought you back here with me, and you’ve been here ever since. The gods know I have nothing much on my hands nowadays anyway.”

“I guess I have to thank you, then, for not leaving me there to rot.”

The old man smiles at you. “Oh, you’re welcome. This old coot has nothing much to occupy himself with nowadays.”


It takes another three months before you are able to move by yourself. You spend the days conversing with the old man. His name was Daedalus, and he claimed to be the architect of the Labyrinth. Minos had imprisoned him in the tower you were currently in right after the construction was complete. The tower’s base lay close to the Labyrinth, and Daedalus had in secret connected his dwelling to his great masterpiece. Daedalus made occasional jaunts into the maze to collect materials for his works. He was a prolific inventor, and took pleasure in showing you the many marvellous constructs he had made over the years. Minos had shared with him quite a bit of the knowledge that the Gieloth possessed, and with that knowledge he had designed the Labyrinth, as well as several other constructs and buildings for the King of Crete.

As the days pass, you feel your strength return… but your powers do not.
As the weeks pass, you feel a small, niggling hunger within you that cannot be quenched by bread or soup.

It grows.


Six months to the day that you awoke in the tower, Daedalus comes into your room, alarmed.

“My friend, stay in this room and hide if you can, quickly. Minos’s guards are paying a surprise visit.”

Before you can ask him for more details, he leaves the room hurriedly. The tower’s main entrance was served by a retractable stairway, another of Daedalus’s inventions, operated from the ground below. The guards must be visiting using that. You stay still, wishing that you had a weapon. Daedalus had not found the Honourblade with you, and you wonder if you had lost it for good within the Labyrinth. There are muffled words exchanged. You can make out “…deadline…patience…deliver…”, and as the exchange grows more heated, you hear a guard yell “The king will have you before his throne, dead or alive!” Then there are sounds of a scuffle.

It would not be like you to wait. You burst from the room. There is only one guard there, his sword raised against a fallen Daedalus. Your appearance catches the guard by total surprise. With one swift thrust, your fist slams into the man’s unguarded neck. As he stumbles back, you leap upon him and push him back against the wall.

Suddenly, you are so, so hungry.

Before you know what you are doing, you have sunk your teeth into his throat. The taste of his flesh and blood is like nectar. You gulp down your first bite greedily, and then go for a second. And another.

The fifth bite completely satiates your hunger, and you throw down the lifeless man, his face ripped apart by your teeth.

You realize what you have just done, and you retch. Try as you might, though, your body refuses to give up the meat you just ripped from another man’s body.

Daedalus looks at you in horror. You can feel the fear radiating from him, just as you can sense that there were five other guards waiting impatiently below.

You flex your fingers, feeling like you could crush a man’s neck with your grip.

“My friend…” begins Daedalus.

“I think I should be leaving now, Daedalus.” You give an apologetic smile. The effect is rather tarnished by the blood still staining your lips. Daedalus mimes a motion of wiping his mouth, and nods. He glances at the dead guard.

“I am sorry, but that would be for the best.” Daedalus gestures at the dead guard. Do not worry about me, I can take care of myself and his friends.”

Wondering about your sudden craving for human flesh, or agonizing about it, would have to wait. It looks like it is time for you to leave, but how?


A. You spot a pair of wings that Daedalus had made, a long time ago. He claims that they work, but he would never use them again as penance for his sins. You strap them to your back and leap out the window, trusting yourself to his creation.

B. There is a ball of thread, identical to the one Theseus had gotten from Ariadne, lying on a shelf. You grab it and descend to the base of the tower, planning your escape via the Labyrinth.

C. The stairway is still attached, the guards are still waiting downstairs. You walk out the main door. Taking out those guards would probably help Daedalus out somewhat. You are past caring whatever Minos will think.

Chapter 4.10: Escape from Knossos

B bandwagoning is victorious.

Chapter 4.10: Escape from Knossos

With the thread, you made swift work of the Labyrinth, dispatching the minor monsters that attempted to stop you with a sword that you had taken from the fallen guard. Retracing your steps, you found no clue as to where your Honourblade is, but you managed to make your way to the vault you had been after the last time you were in here. You retrieved the statuette with little fuss; it was a small, golden effigy of a bull-headed man, similar to the Minotaur in design. You seem to have recall seeing a similarly carved divine statue back in Heliopolis, but the name of the god escapes you at the moment. Holding it in your hand, you can feel that it is a powerful artifact, but it does not appear to react to your presence, nor do you feel any stronger just by having it with you. Perhaps Sekhenun’s preparations will awaken it. You stuff it in your clothes, and move on.


The Labyrinth’s exit was a platform. It operated the same way as the one you came in on; likely another of Daedalus’s machines. You step onto it and pull a lever. As the platform rises up, you realize that exiting the Labyrinth may have been a mistake.

Your fears are confirmed as the platform comes to a halt on the surface. You are in a courtyard of the great Palace of Knossos. The Labyrinth had its sole entrance and exit designed so that it would be fully under Minos’s purview, in his domain. A dozen guards, who had been patrolling, stand and look at you, their faces a mixture of confusion and wariness. One of them swiftly starts a shout. “Intruder! Intruder in the palace!” Minos had them well trained.

All of a sudden, you feel a Gieloth presence at the edge of your senses. It begins heading your way, from within the palace.

It looks like Minos himself was nearby, and has come to investigate the sudden new arrival from deep within his beloved maze.


A. You make a break for it, drawing steel on the guards. Once you are free of the courtyard, you run from Minos and attempt to find a way to flee the palace. This is not the place for you to risk your newfound life. Your powers are still recovering, and you do not fancy your chances if you lounge around.

B. You cut through the guards as fast as you can and confidently head straight for where Minos is. If you act quickly enough, you might be able to defeat the tyrant by surprising him while he’s not escorted by his guards.

C. You attempt to talk and deal your way out of the palace. Fleeing blindly would only get you lost in the palace, while fighting is a futile endeavour. Even if the guards do not see reason, Minos should. A king as greedy and vain as he can definitely be negotiated with.

D. The lever to return the platform back down to the Labyrinth lies at the back of the courtyard. You attempt to fight your way over to it and hurry back to the platform. You will return to Daedalus’s tower and pick another path of exit.

Chapter 4.11: Greece at War

A - 7
B - 1
C - 4
D - 1

Chapter 4.11: Greece at War

Surprisingly enough, the guards make no real effort to stop you once you knock two of them down and send the other sprawling against a wall. They back away from you, their eyes fearful. You quicken your pace and run through the palace, moving away from Minos's presence. You soon find yourself near the outside walls, and with a bound, you leap onto a nearby cart and vault onto the wall. From there, it was a brief hop to freedom, and soon you are safely away from the palace.


At Amnisos, you begin seeking a way off Crete. You have regained some of your powers, but you are still nowhere as strong as you once were. The first thing you notice as you enter the port town is the abundance of military men about. You decide to spend a bit of time asking about recent events before proceeding further, and visit the nearest tavern.

"The king is attacking the other Greek cities, pal. Where've you been stuck this past year?" The innkeep was generous enough with his information, once you've officially become a customer by ordering some drinks.

"Crete, against the other Greek cities? All the other Greek cities?" You can't believe your ears. Despite Minos being a Gieloth, you are certain that two years ago, Crete would only have the military strength to tackle two or three of the Greek cities at a time. Minos did not have enough manpower to conduct a sustained campaign against all of them.

Another man in the tavern, a merchant by the looks of it, spoke up. "Aye, all of them. He'd vowed to tear Athens to the ground, and would have done it too, but apparently Zeus himself ordered the other cities to ally against Minos. At least, that's what I heard. This new king of Athens, Theseus, is much in the favour of the Skyfather. He slew the Minotaur of our own lord, y'know."

If you weren't mistaken, Zeus was a god, and the head of the Greek pantheon. You continue your inquiries.

"And why would Minos want to destroy Athens? Did the loss of the Minotaur weigh so much on him?"

"Oh no, no, it was not because of his divine pet. Theseus dishonored and abducted the princess Ariadne, then murdered the princess Phaedra! All while as an esteemed guest of our king! Where have you been, man? The entire island is still shaken over this."

"Surely Crete, strong as it may be, cannot beat the whole of Greece?" you venture.

"We would not presume to think that even though we love our island and our king so, so much." chuckled the merchant. "King Minos brokered an alliance with Egypt. They've been helping in the war for the past three months now."

It looks like Mehrune's visit had some consequences. You wonder if Sekhenun was still with Mehrune, or if she'd vanished somewhere else for her own purposes. It looks like you have few other leads at the moment.

Stepping out of the tavern, you duck into a dark alley. It may be a good idea to utilize your limited shifting abilities to nudge your features, making yourself look less Sumerian and more Grecian, if you plan on staying in the area.


A. You stow yourself aboard a military vessel heading to the frontlines of the war on the Greek mainland. You plan to eventually head to Athens to investigate the matter of Theseus and this Zeus. Rather than relying on hear-say, it would be more advisable to see the current condition of the region with your own eyes.

B. You take a ship back to Egypt, to look for Mehrune. Hopefully Sekhenun will still be with her; if not, it is still a safer place than staying in the war-torn Aegean for now. Before your powers fully revive, you do not plan on taking any chances with your presence.

C. You return to Minos's court to offer your services incognito. With your knowledge and powers, you could use his admittedly vast resources to find a way to restore your full strength. He will be requiring good men now that he is engaged in a war, and you know how to wage one.

Chapter 4.12: Mehrune's Whereabouts

B has the win here.


Chapter 4.12: Mehrune’s Whereabouts

There was nothing for you in Greece for now; your best bet was still to track down Sekhenun and complete your bargain with her. Offering to work, you manage to get onboard a cargo vessel on its way back to Egypt, one of many that now frequently ply the Mediterranean as part of Egypt’s ongoing involvement with the war in Greece. The journey itself takes only ten days, as the large ship did not need to stop by any ports to rest. Soon, you were back in Pikuat.

Egypt was as lively as you had left it. Despite the war, the populace seemed mostly unconcerned. The fighting was taking place on the other side of the sea, far enough that it did not concern most of the people. Although the Egyptians had allied with Minos, they were careful enough to commit only what they could afford to lose. You begin searching for information on Mehrune’s current location, and if her chief-handmaiden had been replaced in the past year or so; a possibility that you can’t rule out.

It is in Heliopolis that you get your answer: Mehrune is currently in Babylonia. Her strange success in opening a diplomatic channel (strange, as her attitude certainly wasn’t diplomatic as far as you were concerned) with Crete had elevated her social standing quite highly, and she had been dispatched to Sumer almost a month ago in an attempt to feel out the intentions of the God-King of Babylon, who had not directed any hostile actions towards Egypt for more than half a century. The servants at her residence confirm, somewhat surprisingly to you, that a girl named Sekhe was still the chief handmaiden when Mehrune left. Sekhenun probably had another reason for getting close to Mehrune besides helping you out, if she didn’t ditch the cold bitch the moment you vanished in the Labyrinth.

You are still able to access the Gieloth’s communications, but the only new things you learn about Babylon are that Marduk has successfully conquered the Indus Valley, extending their empire further than any Sumerian kingdom has ever had, and that this was against the wishes of the Gieloth residing in the south of the great continent to the west. They appear to have changed their plans due to this and are now attempting to reestablish their influence in the eastern most kingdoms beyond the Indus.
It looks like travelling back to Egypt only gave you more options to ponder over.


A. You follow Mehrune’s trail to Sumeria. Sure, you might be stepping into the domain of Marduk, but there is a high chance of Sekhenun being there. You do have a deal with her after all, and she is the only one you know who can unlock the powers of the statuette.

B. Mehrune will surely head back to Egypt after her work in Sumeria is done, and Sekhenun with her. You decide to remain in Egypt and wait.
1) You resume your previous activities of bandit-slaying and general do-gooding. You don’t plan on drawing any attention to yourself at all, and it would be good practice for getting you back into fighting shape.
2) You sign up with the Egyptians as a soldier under another assumed persona. The myth of Runi is well left alone; there might be court politics should you reveal yourself, with power-hungry advisors seeking to use your name for their own purposes. Best to serve quietly.
3) It has not been so long that your persona of Runi is a faint memory. Certainly there are living men today whose fathers have fought alongside you in battle. You declare your return publicly in service to Akil’s dynasty. This will give you more influence over how Egypt will act – you are after all worshipped as a demigod.

C. You bounce back to Greece now that you’ve discerned Mehrune’s location and the condition of Egypt. Joining the Egyptians would mean you take sides against the Greeks, and you want to find out their side of the story before committing to action. Besides, any side that has an entire pantheon on their side will probably end up the winning side... and the Egyptians have no real gods on theirs.

Interlude: Ean, Reawakened Immortal (circa 1900 B.C.)

You missed out on one in Chapter Three because there wasn't much point in making one - depowered. You'll find out more about the hunger as the story progresses. Suffice to say it's not too serious a problem yet. Also, you'll notice that you are weaker than before, and you can no longer rely on the passage of time to continue granting new powers. Without the voices, the mechanics have changed.

Ean, Reawakened Immortal
circa 1900 B.C.

Physical capabilities:

Above peak human capability. Able to wrestle bulls to the ground and run as fast as a deer.

Esoteric powers:

Telepathy – can read emotions from a distance, depending on the intensity and mental strength of the subject. Intentions can be understood in close proximity.

Telekinesis – able to rattle, knock around and levitate objects. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Body manipulation – has developed the ability to control slight changes, such as little wrinkles, slightly differently shaped eyes, hair colour, and other minute modifications to the body.

Elemental manipulation – can perform minor manipulation of fire. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Psionics - able to scramble a person's mind with prolonged physical contact, leaving them in a catatonic state. The concentration required to use this power precludes the use of any other mental abilities at the same time.

Regeneration ability:

Low. Small cuts can fully heal in hours, while more serious wounds may take weeks. Missing parts can take years to recover, depending on the complexity and size of the part.

Chapter Five: The God-King's Ambitions

Chapter 5.1: A Tiny Little Hunger

A - 8
B1 - 4


Chapter 5.1: A Tiny Little Hunger

You were in a shanty town just on the outskirts of Babylon. It had taken you three long weeks to get here, though you had found out that Mehrune was still in the city - a stroke of good luck there. It had nearly been a century since you were last in Sumer, and things are different. Everywhere you looked, throughout your journey, there were many homeless and the poor. Farmers subsist on scraps while they work the fields for their masters, the priestly order called the Sons of Marduk. Land ownership was concentrated in the hands of the clergy, with Marduk being elevated as the one god above all. The soldiers and priests were the only ones enjoying the riches of Sumeria, and they were the foundation of Marduk's reign. Human sacrifice had become a large part of the new state religion, as it was with Sekhenun's cult. Though you defeated his top two lieutenants so many years ago, Marduk appears to have found replacements - now he has twelve.

Of course, he probably needs twelve just to make up for those two, you think to yourself.

You hear a small yelp, and a scream. Turning your head, you see a few rough men carrying away a struggling little girl into an alley. Some unbidden memories of your life as a street rat float briefly to the surface before a dark, ugly emotion - a terrible mix of anger and hunger - washes it away. Choking back that feeling, you lose a bit of control and give a desperate, emotional laugh as you hold your head tightly, trying to clear your mind.

"Ah, what's so funny, you busybody?"

The men holding the girl were looking at you. Their leader, a great hulk of a man confronts you, a wood-axe in one hand.

"Were you laughing at me? If people laugh at me they gotta pay up, y'hear?"

His scarred and bearded face glowers, making a practiced attempt at intimidation. You notice a few other people surrounding you with hostile intentions. Adding mugging to their crimes of kidnapping, it seems.

"You do now, do you?" You toss him a coin. It wasn't like you couldn't afford it, after you snuck into your own tomb in Egypt and took some treasures to fund your journey. It's not stealing if they gave it to you as a burial gift. The large man eyes the coin suspiciously, and sneers.

"Hand it all over, worm. This won't even pay for your funeral." Indeed it wouldn't. You smile at him. "That's what your joke of a face is worth, my friend."

His face turns a curious shade of purple as he chokes in rage. "That's it, you're dead!" The man roars as he raises his axe. As he takes a step forward, preparing to chop your head in two, you give his outstretched foot a telekinetic flick. Thrown off balance, he trips and falls right into the path of your incoming fist. There is a loud cracking noise, and his jaw is smashed by your right hook. At that instant, two of the other robbers fall upon you from behind, yelling dire threats. You move backwards with one quick, fast step, not looking at them - as their momentum sends them past you, you whip your knives out, one in each hand, and sink it between their ribs. That was when the rest of the robbers decided to run, leaving their would be abductee behind.

The fight was over in seconds.

You look down at the groaning robbers. Their leader was out cold, and the two you knived would bleed out if they weren't helped. And you were feeling quite peckish after your exertions...


A. You eat. Eating will make you stronger, and you need all the strength you can for what awaits you in Babylon. These were scum who would kidnap a little girl. They would serve far more good to this world as your nourishment than they would ever have done in a hundred years.

B. You resist the temptation to eat. You do not desire to feed unless absolutely necessary, even if these low-lives were kidnappers and robbers. You will find another way to deal with your hunger.

Chapter 5.2: Curse and Blessing

A – 9
B – 4


Chapter 5.2: Curse and Blessing

You take back your coin from the thug leader, and toss it at the little girl. She catches it and runs off, without even a word of thanks. You grab the leader and pull his body further into the alleyway. The coast was clear.

It was time for a snack.

The meal did you some good; your senses became just a bit sharper, you felt just a bit stronger and faster – but more importantly, your hunger was satiated. Even though you ate as much as you could, you had to stop when you felt full. You wipe away the blood around your mouth, and dig out some chunks of gristle that were sticking to your teeth. The corpse was half-eaten, but there was no way to get rid of it for good. You would just have to leave it.


The rest of your search was surprisingly simple. The guards at the gate were lax. You weren’t dressed like a beggar, and so they didn’t bother stopping you. Some quick questioning revealed that Mehrune was put up at the residence of one of Marduk’s lieutenants, a man by the name of Nammun. Standing outside the well-tended gardens of Nammun’s house, you felt Sekhenun’s familiar, but slight, presence within it. In fact, it seemed nestled within a human shell… you would never have noticed it had you not known what to look for. It was a far cry from the telepathic beacon she was within her temple.

From there, it was a trivial matter to scale the walls at the back of the house, and enter through the windows.

Your feet make a small sound as you land in the room.

Sekhenun turns, still in her handmaiden form, and her eyes widen.

You raise a hand in greeting. “Hey.”

For once, she seems speechless. The next thing you know, she’s rushing you. A small tendril extends from her hand and stabs into your arm, taking you by surprise. You growl and put a hand on your sword.

“You’re alive?” she mutters.

“Of course I am. That tendril of yours is hurting me.”

“Sorry.” Sekhenun retracts the tendril with an apology. “I had to make sure you weren’t some disguised assassin attempting to catch me off guard. I couldn’t sense you.”

“Getting rusty in your old age?”

“I don’t have the luxury of taking three hundred year beauty naps. At any rate, I really couldn’t sense you. It’s strange. You’re standing in front of me, but you’re not there psychically…” Sekhenun thinks to herself for a bit, and then continues, her eyes suddenly hard as stone. “Anyway, I think you should be explaining to me why your breath smells of human flesh.” You do so, explaining what happened in the Labyrinth, what the voices told you, and how you came to be here.

“You have the statuette, then?”

You nod, and pull it out of your bag. Looking at it, she sighs. “If my theory is correct, this thing won’t help you anymore. With your leash gone, I do not know how to connect it to you so that you could take its power.” You look down at the statuette you hold. Was it possible that you could eat it? Almost impulsively, you bite the head. The metal is cold in your mouth, but nothing happens. Maybe if you chew it off and swallow…

“What are you doing?”

“Sorry,” you shrug. “Just wondering if I could consume it.”

She frowns. “Put that thing away, I’ll run some tests on it later. At any rate, I have never encountered a thing such as you. From what you say, I am relatively certain you have developed the cursed hunger of my species. Your former masters gave us the curse of cannibalism to try to control us. You will always desire, above all else, the flesh of your own kind. Without it, you will gradually weaken and lose your powers.”

“But if I eat more, I will grow stronger.”

“Yes. Feeding will strengthen you, but only to a certain extent. Think of it as… a container, with your strength like the water within. When you eat, you make the container larger. The water, your powers, will naturally increase fill up the container in time. If you starve yourself for a long time, the container begins to shrink, and you lose power. The water, however, remains – if you grow the container again, you will be able to access that water.” You try to understand her explanation, thinking on it. “That doesn’t really make any sense. If the container shrinks, but you can get the water again, where does the water go in between that time?”

“Figure it out on your own, smart one.”

“You said that your kind eat themselves. Why do they prey on humans, then?”

“Well spotted. We couldn't work out a way to remove it, so to stave off the cannibalism, we found alternate sources. Your species have proven to be one of the better alternatives so far.”

“So you mean I could eat Gieloth instead of other people?”

“Don’t stare at me like that when you say such things.”

“I’m taking that as a yes.”

Sekhenun waves off your line of inquiry. She doesn’t seem to want to discuss the matter. You shrug, and say, “Right, well, let’s get down to business.”

“What more business do you have?” she asks, surprised.

“You promised me my powers back in return for my help, didn’t you?”

“That didn’t work out in the end. You’ve become this very interesting abomination that I would love to experiment on, but that’s not what I promised you.”

“Doesn’t matter. It won’t hurt for me to hear what you have planned.”

She bites her lip pensively, wondering if she should share her plans with you. “Well, if you put it that way… I want both Zeus and Marduk out of the picture.”

You raise an eyebrow. That seems to be a very tall order. Sekhenun continues to speak, “Left unchecked, the two of them will tear this region apart in their bid to wipe out the other.”

“The war in Greece will soon tempt Marduk to turn his eyes west, flush from his victories in the east. Zeus and his fellow gods will turn the tide of battle against Minos, and that is when Marduk will throw Babylonia into the fray. Is that it?”

“Yes, that’s very astute of you. I planned to defeat Zeus first, but your disappearance frustrated those plans. I had to return to Egypt and go back to the drawing board. Now that you are here again, I have several other plans that might work.”


A. Sekhenun has tracked down a certain, old cult that is opposed to Marduk. Its members have been scattered since the defeat of their god more than three hundred years ago, but they have built up a vast relief network in recent years, earning the goodwill of the people. She thinks she can convince them to revolt. Your role would be to assassinate Marduk’s lieutenants and high ranking priests in the administration in order to make things easier for the revolution.

B. You adopt a plan of subterfuge. You will get close to Marduk by infiltrating his men and gaining their trust. A good chance is coming up. He has lost two lieutenants in the Indus, and plans to hold a tournament to select their replacements. Marduk is not choosy about who serves him, as long as they are strong enough; three of his current lieutenants are human – though of course they do not know that their comrades are not. You have a good chance of winning the tournament and getting close enough to place yourself for a direct assassination attempt later on.

C. There is no time to lose – Mehrune meets with Marduk at the end of the week. You take that chance to enter the meeting and challenge him to prove his divinity. God-King or no, you will destroy the faker in a direct duel and ruin his myth of godhood.

D. You do not intend to help Sekhenun with her plots. As she said, you have no obligation to her. You will do what you can for the people in Sumeria, but you will not act on Marduk’s regime directly.


1. It would be hypocritical for you to continue forbidding Sekhenun to eat people, if you plan to devour Gieloth. You tell her this, and free her from her deal with you. You will need her to be as strong as she can for the coming trials.

2. You cannot trust or control Sekhenun if she regains her powers. She is a Gieloth after all, and you never know what she’s plotting further down the road. You do not say anything about the issue.

Chapter 5.3: The Marks

A1 has the majority. I am surprised that there was more importance placed on letting Sekhenun eat people or not than on… well, the actual choice which determines your long (or short)-term path to beating Marduk.


Chapter 5.3: The Marks

To kill his agents and slowly but surely weaken his grasp on power – that was the surest way to defeating the God-King. Your responsibilities were simple. Kill, and kill some more, and when Marduk has been weakened enough by the killing, and you have been strengthened enough by it, kill Marduk.

Sekhenun would take care of most of the work organizing the resistance. Shulgi’s cultists were scattered across all the cities of Sumeria, holding strong to their old faith underground. Marduk had attempted to stamp their cult out viciously when he came to power, like what you did a few centuries ago. And where you failed, so did he – the cultists were more resilient than Marduk gave them credit for, and thrived in the cracks of the broken society he created. They still believed Shulgi would return someday, though apparently one of Shulgi’s teachings was “I help those who help themselves”, and another one was, “Die in My name and you shall be exalted in eternal bliss.” They certainly wouldn’t pass up a chance to take up arms against Marduk themselves, rather than waiting for their god to do it for them. It was some irony, working with the descendants of the people you tried to wipe out, to defeat a monster that was impersonating your myth to rule.

You were given information on all of your targets – there were fifteen altogether, his twelve lieutenants, and three members of the clergy, the Sons of Marduk, who were the administrative heads of Marduk’s empire. If they were all to die in relatively rapid succession, Babylonia would be thrown into chaos.


The Twelve

Shamash – the top lieutenant of Marduk, and a powerful Gieloth in his own right. He is Marduk’s right hand and the foremost general of his armed forces.
Ahati – a Gieloth general, second to Edem in power. She has a penchant for eating young men, and is feared by most of the populace.
Ramman – another Gieloth general, known for orchestrating the victorious defense of Sumeria when Astarth attacked.
Nusku – a Gieloth more interested in experiments than in conquest. Has figured out a way to give normal humans some form of Gieloth powers.
Mehlu – a Gieloth hailing from the Indus Valley, who has been made a general for participating bravely in the successful defeat of his brethren.
Edem – Nabu’s offspring, come of age recently; every bit as strong in the sorcerous arts as his father was.
Adapa, Balasi, Gamil – Relatively young fledglings who have been given their lieutenant position just because they are members of Marduk’s house.
Zaidu – a regular human, the only human general Marduk has. A strong and noble warrior, known for caring for his men.
Igi – rumoured to be extremely skilled in combat, skilful enough for a human that Marduk has made him one of his personal bodyguards.
Dakuri – a young human who distinguished himself in combat by rallying an entire flank during Marduk’s Indus Valley campaign. He was made one of the Twelve in recognition.

The Three
Ibilsin – the aged patriarch of the Sons of Marduk, one in a long line of many. The powerful head of the clergy, who dictates all affairs religious and secular.
Dapimsin – leader of the lawmaker priests, a boastful and arrogant man second in rank only to Ibilsin himself. In charge of the administration and bureaucracy of the empire.
Gamilsin – head of the militant priests, who attempt to ensure that worship of the God-King is the most important aspect of the populace’s religion, and stamp out unapproved cults with torture and murder.


Sekhenun would keep you informed about any easy opportunities to take. Already, a few easy chances for assassination had presented themselves...

A. The three fledgling Gieloth will be indulging in some human sacrifices in a temple on the outskirts of the city. That particular temple has been infiltrated by the cultists, practically being run by them…

B. Dakuri, one of Marduk’s human lieutenants, regularly visits a particular tavern by himself every week. It would be a simple matter to waylay him while he is on his way home and stab him in the back…

C. The Indus Gieloth, Mehlu, would be riding out of the city with a hundred men to inspect one of the new forts that Marduk has raised. You could bring a force of cultists to ambush him…


The nature of the cult offers you a choice to make, something that could prove useful to your reputation in the future...

A. You claim to be Shulgi. This has the advantage of making the cult more loyal to you, personally, and a slight demonstration of your powers and knowledge of the past would be enough to convince the highest circle of cultists. It might, however, attract undue attention eventually.

B. You do not make such a claim, leaving the cult in Sekhenun’s hands. You need to keep a low profile for your work. Sekhenun will probably spin your existence as an avenging demon sent by Shulgi, appearing only to slaughter his enemies.


“I’ve been thinking about that diet I put you on,” you remark to Sekhenun.

“Why, do you want to try it?”

“No. I’m offering to release you from the deal.”

“… what do you mean?” Sekhenun stops and speaks quietly, her body tensing up. “Are you going to kill me?”

You raise your hands. “No. No, of course not. I mean to say that I’m going to let you eat people again. Well, only the bad ones. No kids.”

She shifts her posture, and looks at you, her expression unfathomable. “Then, you are going to break off our partnership? We each go our separate ways, I will do what I want, and you will do what you want. Is that what you mean?”

“I’m committed to dealing with Marduk. We continue as we have before. Letting you feed would give you a chance of regaining your strength, and I need strong allies by my side. I don’t ask this without a price, however.”

Sekhenun breathes out and smiles slightly. “What price might that be, then?”

“A permanent vow of loyalty and friendship, and everything you know. Do we have a new deal?”



She giggles. “My current lifestyle is acceptable for my purposes. After all, I have you to be my hands and legs. No, I don’t require more power… not right now, at any rate. Your terms are too demanding and an unacceptable exchange.” She continues walking, and you keep up with her.

“But… since you so kindly asked, I will make a counter-offer of my own. I will reserve the right to feed on humans again, but as a trade, I will feed once for every Gieloth you eat. If you ask for my permission to eat that particular being, I will in turn ask you for permission to do the same. If you do not, then my next meal will be without your permission.” You nod, waiting for her to continue. “As for information… I will tell you the truth about one thing, and one thing only, from several subjects of my choosing. What is it that you most desire to learn about?”

A. The history between the Masters and the Gieloth.

B. The story behind the recent actions of Zeus, Marduk and the rest of the Gieloth.

C. Sekhenun’s motive in getting involved again with these power plays.

D. You reject the deal. If she does not accept your terms, there is no deal to be made.

(Choices counted separately)

Chapter 5.4: Mehlu


A – 6
B – 4
C – 8

A – 4
B – 14

A – 6
B – 0
C – 4
D – 8


Chapter 5.4: Mehlu

“O Dreadful One, Mehlu will soon be here. Shall we get into position? Shall we strike the first blow of our rebellion?” The cultist bows, not looking you in the eye. He speaks with a respectful tone, eagerly anticipating your orders.

You stop adjusting your rags and look at the cultist. “Dreadful One? What is that supposed to mean?”

“The Mistress revealed that you were the Dread Master, son of Ereshkigal who will bring death to the enemies of our God!”

You stop him before he begins babbling, and give the order for positions to be taken. Garam was slightly gullible and fervent in his belief, which was why Sekhenun had recommended that you work with him on this mission. At least, he would obey your orders. You had been camped out at a rocky ledge overlooking the road with about twenty other cultists for the past two days, awaiting Mehlu’s arrival. The plan was to disguise your assassination as a bandit raid, as you didn't fancy your chances of wading single-handedly through a hundred men to get to Mehlu's head with just your current strength. A distraction was needed. Bandit attacks seemed to happen more frequently nowadays, and even Marduk’s patrols were occasionally raided if they thought they could get away with it. The inspection task force also brought with them supplies with which to reinforce the fort – if you were lucky, you would make away with those supplies in addition to taking Mehlu’s life. The attack did not need to be thorough, as you figured a quick ambush would throw the forces into disarray enough for you to do what you came here to do. With Mehlu dead, the soldiers would be too panicked to guard the supplies. That was the best case scenario. The only way this plan would fail would be if Mehlu was stronger than you thought… you would just have to fight as hard as you could.


Sure enough, the Gieloth appeared on the road, riding at the head of his men. He cut a handsome, darkly tanned figure, decked out in ornate bronze armour, with a three-pronged golden spear that was rumoured to have been ripped from the hands of his former best friend. The supply caravans were trailing at the end of the line. Bandits would not usually attack a force a hundred-men strong – Mehlu apparently felt no need to be cautious. It seems that he was overconfident about his recent victories, and pleased with his new position. Grinning, you raise your ragged scarf, masking your nose and mouth. The cultists did the same. You raise your hand, readying the archers to fire.

Then, there was something else. You sense many humans, on the other side of the road, where a high cliff made it impassable. Their heads begin appearing over the top of the cliff. You hold fire; it would be better to err on the side of caution for a while. A few seconds later, rocks begin raining down from the cliff-side, taking Mehlu’s men by surprise and disabling quite a few. Ropes flew off from the edge, hanging down the side of the rocky wall. As you watch in astonishment, men began climbing down the ropes swiftly and as naturally as walking on a straight path. They leapt upon the Babylonian soldiers, weapons at the ready and screaming a guttural warcry. There were maybe thirty of them fighting fiercely. Were they bandits?

“Gutians!” whispered Garam. “There were rumours of a tribe of them still remaining here in the west, engaging in petty banditry like the savages that they are, but to come so close to Babylon…”

You remember hearing about the Gutians when you were last in Sumeria, many decades ago, though you did not pay their tale much attention as they were a spent force by the time you reawakened. The Guti were a barbarian people, a nation of many tribes. When he was young, Sargon himself had campaigned against them, driving them further into the mountains to the east. After Shulgi's second defeat, coalition of about a dozen tribes had swept in to take advantage of the power vacuum, terrorizing the city states of Sumer. Although Akkad had been burnt to the ground before that, the rebuilding city was razed again by the Gutians, scattering whatever people still lived there once and for all. For a while, the Gutians nominally ruled all of Sumeria, demanding tribute and grabbing kingship by the force of arms. Their reign soon collapsed on itself. Unused to 'civilized culture', they were also unable to administer the empire that they had stolen. As the riches of Sumeria declined under their stewardship, the Gutians began quarreling over spoils and power. Barely a hundred years after their arrival, the Gutian dynasty broke up and each tribe grabbed its own city to rule… and all of them were defeated soundly when Marduk forged the Babylonian Empire from the ashes of Akkadia.

The God-King had apparently practiced a no-tolerance policy towards the Gutians – those that did not flee back east, from where they came, were put to the sword with no exceptions. The elderly, women, and children; none of them were spared. Any Gutians remaining so close to Babylon, Marduk’s seat of power, must have tremendous guts.

“… they have tremendous balls.” Garam mutters, with a look of appreciation. You can understand that, as the Gutians were wreaking havoc on Mehlu’s ranks. “Should we attack now, O Dreadful One? This could be a good chance!” Looking at the battle again, you think that the Gutians would be retreating soon, with nothing but dead to show for it. They fought bravely, but Mehlu’s spear was darting out with terrible accuracy, wounding and killing the barbarians with ease. A large Gutian suddenly barrelled into Mehlu, knocking him from his horse. Raising a ridiculously large sword, he began attacking the Gieloth general, who barely had time to defend himself. A momentary flash of panic ran through Mehlu’s mind, and you could see the tendrils begin to writhe from his wounds…


A. You order the cultists to begin the attack immediately. You might still be outnumbered with your cultists joining the fray, but the Gutians have fought well and you would like to aid them while they are still on the battlefield. You are confident that you will be able to pull off the assassination while Mehlu is distracted with the large Gutian.

B. You hold off your attack for as long as possible. Your cultists are inexperienced, and throwing them into a battle when you are unsure of how the Gutians would react would be folly. The confusing melee that results would be the death of them. Once the Gutians have fled, you will attack while the wounded Babylonian soldiers are distracted by taking care of their dead brethren.

Chapter 5.5: Gudersu and the Gutians


A - 10
B - 5


Chapter 5.5: Gudersu and the Gutians

Your cultists let loose a volley of arrows at the supply guards, and go on the attack. Hollering what they think to be bandit-like profanities, they jump into the fray with great glee. Mehlu's men, pressed on all sides, are about to break. Unsheathing your sword, you run in, heading for the Gieloth general. All about you men were screaming and dying, but that did not matter to you now. Mehlu had unleashed his transformation, sending tendrils to wrap about the sword-arm of the Gutian who had attacked him. The man screamed in pain as a hissing, crackling sound came from his arm. Mehlu hefted his spear and prepared to send it into the man's heart. He didn't - couldn't - sense you walking up behind him... but one of his soldiers was looking out for him, and shouted a warning just before you struck. Your stab missed its mark by a bit, nicking a good bit of the flesh from his sides. Mehlu jumped back, twirling his spear. More tendrils flooded out of the wound, flailing around in an attempt to capture you. You step and dance around the tendrils, gently deflecting with telekinesis what you can't evade cleanly.

At the same time, Mehlu's golden spear made blindingly quick thrusts at you. They were fast, but he was predictable, and you managed to parry his attacks. He was strong, stronger than you - but you are better. He has fallen into the flow of your movements and you have him exactly where you want him. As he attempts another futile stab with his three-pronged spear, you brace your blade under his outstretched spear, and with a twist, flick it out of his hands... well, you tried. The spear did not move from Mehlu's hands. A grin spread across his face.

He had been saving his strength from the start of the battle. Twisting the spear and thrusting it forward, he locks your sword-arm behind you. You have no choice but to let go of the sword and unsheathe a knife with your other hand, but Mehlu is ahead of you there and slams the pole of the spear into you as you move forward. You tumble to the ground. In a flash you are back on your feet, just in time to lean away from another spear thrust that comes perilously close to opening up your side. It looks like you have to fall back - the head-on approach wasn't working. Mehlu knew how to use the spear's length well.

You run, into the fighting crowd, dodging the wild attacks of Gutians and Babylonians alike. Mehlu looked around him, confused. He couldn't sense you within the crowd. You see the barbarian giant attempting to raise his sword to attack Mehlu, who kicked him back to the ground brutally before continuing to look for you.

The time was now. You shove a Babylonian soldier at Mehlu's back.

Even before he has finished turning around, Mehlu has run the spear through the soldier's chest. Not giving him the chance to fully realize his mistake, you step forward quietly, very closely behind him, and he felt only the sting of your knife as it slipped neatly into the armour and through his spine, where his core was located. With a shudder, he falls wordlessly, the tendrils crumbling into smoky remnants.

That was... easy. All things considered.

You rip your knife out of his spine, bringing out the orb impaled on it. It was an ugly, green, fleshy thing, utterly unappetizing to you. You pluck it from the blade and shove it in your robes. You can eat it later.

All around you, the Babylonian soldiers were fleeing. You are about to heft a sigh of relief, but then, you see the Gutians engaging with your men. It looks like they were in a fight over the supplies the Babylonians had left behind. With their weapons out and the heat of battle still upon them, already blood had been drawn from your men and the Gutians. Some of the cultists and one tribesman lay dead in front of the caravans. You head towards the Gutians - if that was how they wanted to play it...


The large Gutian roars, his voice echoing off the cliff. Clutching his half-eaten arm, he gets to his feet shakily. Now that you stood besides him, you could tell that he was truly huge, towering over you by a full head and a half. He had fair hair and skin, as did all the Gutians. A great bushy beard dominated his face. "These bandits saved my life by coming when they did. That misbegotten monster of Marduk's almost had me... truly the God-King can call upon demons to do his bidding. Now, there are plenty of spoils to go around. Plenty for all of us. I am sure we can share?" As the Gutians step back, looking ashamed, the giant looks at you, waiting for your answer. You see no reason why not - the supplies were just a bonus for the cult.

"But, Dread Master, they killed Garam!" protested one of the cultists. "He was a good man!"

Probably most people here were good men, even the dead soldiers. You've seen enough to know that good men tend to do terrible things. His death was a pity, but inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. You raise your voice. "Aye, a good man, and that is why Lord Shulgi has raised him up to the gardens of paradise before any of you! His faith has served him well, and should any of you prove worthy, as the emissary of Death herself I shall reunite you with our god personally." You wave your hand at the caravans. "Now, get to checking the supplies. Keep an eye out for anything different." You turn back to the Gutian leader, feeling that you've never really gotten the knack of giving speeches. Surprisingly, he holds his uninjured arm out, to the side, as if readying for an embrace.

"You are like Ningursu himself, come down to aid his faithful! Hug me, brother!"

A bit embarrassed, you gingerly hug the large man. You suppose that was a compliement on his part. Ningursu was the god of war in the pantheon, and one of the few Sumerian gods that the Gutians actually worshipped.

"The way you dispatched that monster... beautiful! You are wasted on petty banditry, brother!" You seem to recall Garam saying something about Gutian bandits, and reply. "Are you not also a bandit?"

The man snorts. "I am Gudersu, and I take only what is needed to feed my people. We will not let that damned God-King chase out of our own lands!"

"If I remember correctly, your people came from the western mountains and conquered these lands."

"Exactly! A man who knows history is a man after my own heart! My tribe led the great alliance two hundred years ago. My great, great grandfather was the first Gutian King of Sumeria. I, Gudersu, am a royal king! As a descendant of those that conquered these lands, I am the rightful king of Sumeria."

"Marduk conquered these lands too. Shouldn't the right of kingship be his now?"

"For now. Right until I break his neck." Gudersu grins. "Until then, I rule over wherever his reach does not extend... and his reach does not extend to many places." He waves his arm all around him. Strong as Marduk was, even his armies couldn't patrol every inch of the empire. Gudersu's tribe must be moving from spot to spot, never staying in a single place.

"So, why have you moved here, Gudersu? It is quite close to Marduk's throne, and surely his reach extends here."

Gudersu pauses for a while, then laughs. "Glory! Goods! I'm thinking soon it is the time for the Gutians to raid Babylon again... teach Marduk that we are to be feared. Come to think about it, why don't you join us? We Gutians do not discriminate by blood, unlike the pansies in the cities. What matters is the strength of it, and your blood is strong. I like it. Why not come with us, you and your men? We can raid together!"

You chuckle. "Sorry. I have other banditry to perform in the area that is of a more quiet nature."

"Ah, you are a thief as well as a robber and a great warrior. You are a man of many talents, my bandit friend. We could really use your skills. You saved my life, and I need the chance to save yours!"

"You could... say that. But no, I do have some personal matters I need to resolve with just my band of men."

"Ah, a personal matter. I have heard of those in the tales your people sing. Usually a woman is involved. It is unfortunate, but I will not stand in the way." Gudersu gives a big shrug and walks towards the caravan. He turns back towards you a few steps later, and says to you hopefully, "If it is women... why not come meet my daughter? She takes after me, handsome and strong. A nice young man like you would like her."

An image of a female Gudersu popped into your mind, unbidden, and you laugh. "No, thank you, Gudersu. I do appreciate the offer but I have other things to settle at the moment. Maybe afterwards."

"Ah, is that it? Pity. Such a pity." He gives another big shrug, looking disappointed, and walks off.

When the dust had cleared, the cultists having scavenged what they needed, you bid farewell to Gudersu. He gave you another big hug, telling you to visit him, before moving off with his tribesmen on horses that they had hidden beyond the cliff.


Back in Babylon, you leaned Mehlu's golden spear against the wall as you freshened up. You suppose you should get the eating over with... you bring out the round, fleshy orb. It still looked unappetizing, even though you could feel some hunger rising within you. Before you could eat, however, Sekhenun walked into the room. She gives a slight yelp of disgust, seeing you about to bite into the orb.

"Would you mind? Please do knock next time." you quip.

"Don't eat that in front of me, please. I'm just here to tell you about the next targets you can get to and I certainly don't want to see you smearing Gieloth juices all over your mouth."

"Oh sure, I'll just wait until you leave. Right. What do you have for me?"


A. Nusku had been obtaining more human specimens for his experiments lately. He grabs the homeless and the poor from the shanties around Babylon. The increased demand has made his catchers less discriminating about who they capture and deliver - you could probably get 'caught' and get in close enough to assassinate the Gieloth.

B. Gamilsin has a taste for brothels despite his penchant for murder, where he reenacts his favourite scenarios non-lethally. This is a public secret, though to keep up his strict moralistic appearance, he goes about his visits quietly with minimum fuss. It appears one of the cultists working there has been booked for his next visit - she can help you come up with a plan to deal with him.

C. Although Mehlu died on his way to the fort, supplies still needed to be sent. This time, Marduk is sending the three fledglings but with five hundred men to the fort. Human lives, after all, are cheaper than those of valuable Gieloth.

D. Dakuri still continues to perform his weekly visits. He would be an easy mark on his way back from the tavern at night.

Chapter 5.6: Gamilsin


A - 1
B - 11
D - 3


Chapter 5.6: Gamilsin

The cultist who would sneak you in was Allari, a recent initiate to the cult. Her merchant husband had been executed by the Sons of Marduk for false worship, though that was only an excuse for some priest to seize his assets in the name of the temple. Having nowhere to turn to, she went into her current line of business. It was a rough profession, and the benevolence of Shulgi's cult made her a ready convert. Allari was more than eager to please when she heard of the cult's plot, and she did her best to get herself into Gamilsin's favour so that she would be in a position to help. It was supposed to be risk-free - rumours were that Gamilsin hurt the women he was with, but never went as far as killing them.

On the day of the assassination, he had stormed into the room, ranting about how Shamash and Ibilsin had been pressuring him to get results on some investigation, and how he was sure that the prick Dapimsin was plotting to replace him with a toadie of his own. Allari attempted to calm him down. For a while it seemed to work, but then Gamilsin sneered and slapped her, reminding her to know her place. Pushing her down on the bed, he began having his way with her roughly. Feeling a slight discomfort, you draw your dagger, sensing the mix of lust, rage and resignation coming from employee and client in the room.

Without warning, without reason, Gamilsin plunged a knife into Allari's chest while he was still on top of her, screaming in ecstasy. Her screams of pain, echoing his, were muffled by his hand over her mouth. Her body convulsed, pinned under his heaving bulk. A step too late - was it disbelief? surprise? - you burst from the alcove where you had been hiding, hunger suddenly burning in your throat despite having fed just days before. The priest groans loudly as he pumped the last of his seed into the dying woman. You grab him by the shoulders and hurl him away from Allari. Looking at the woman, you know immediately it is too late for her.

Gamilsin stares up at you, his eyes wide. He raises his bloody hands and, to your surprise, launches a wave of telekinetic force at you. Although you are forced a step back, evidently his powers were not as strong as he thought. You give a devilish grin, and return a push of your own, sending his head slamming into the wooden wall. Gamilsin's fear-stricken face opens its mouth to scream for help, but you choke his yell into a gurgle by driving your foot into his throat. You were going to slit his throat. But he deserves a worse death. How strange it is, you think, that one so ugly would be so... appetizing. As he struggles to his knees, you knock him back to the ground with a brutal blow to his head. He coughs and tries to speak, though only wheezing noises come out. The feared head of the priests of torture can only back away from you slowly. So fearful. So helpless.


"So, did you eat him?"

A couple of days later, Sekhenun was watching you have your dinner - paid for by her - in your little tavern room.

"Didn't you hear what the Sons of Marduk have been telling anyone who would listen? High Priest Gamilsin was involved in an unfortunate hunting accident. Apparently it was a boar."

You realize that this tavern served a very good plate of boar. You have another bite. "Speaking of boar, this is some really good boar. You should have a try. I swear it's better than priest."

She laughs, shaking her head. "It looks like the priests are jockeying for position now that there is a vacancy at the top. It looks like they aren't putting too much emphasis on finding the killer. Marduk, on the other hand, is not happy about this, but he has more important things to do right now than worry about some mysterious deaths.”

“What could a God-King worry about?”

“Zeus and his gods have crushed Crete, and plan to move on to Egypt to punish them for their 'transgressions'. Human soldiers could never stand up to them on the field once they decided to intervene directly. Like it or not, Marduk is the only one with enough power to challenge Zeus on the battlefield right now. His strength is... remarkable.”

You tap your dinner knife on the plate. “What are my chances against him?”

“Before you lost your powers, you might have been able to beat him if you had help. Fighting him alone would have been extremely dangerous. Right now... well, how do you feel?”

“Almost as good as I was before in some aspects... still lacking in others.” you say honestly.

“He's had many tens of years to grow in strength, while you have not. Unless we have some cunning plan, it's best not to confront him directly.”

“So, I'm guessing Mehrune was sent here in the first place because the Pharaoh foresaw the need for an alliance?”

“No, he was just extending a diplomatic hand to his very powerful neighbour. It is a lucky turn of events that he happens to have a representative here just when the Greeks are about to attack. At any rate, things will be changing in Babylon. Marduk leads in the field whenever he can. He is a competent enough strategist himself. The deaths that you inflicted concern him, but not enough that he would miss a chance to defeat Zeus. I expect most of his lieutenants will leave with him within a month to Egypt, as per the Pharaoh's request.”

“I see... Has Mehrune conveyed that request to Marduk?”

“No, not yet. What do you have in mind?” Sekhenun smiles again, waiting to see what you'll come up with.

“Do me a favour. Get her to change the request to that of opening up a new front of battle by sailing directly to Greece. Inviting Marduk's army into Egyptian lands isn't such a great idea. If I were the Pharaoh, I'd have whichever general made that proposal hanged for being a Babylonian spy.” you say.

“Sure, I can do that. Now, Marduk will probably leave Ahati, Ramman and Nusku behind to watch over Sumeria in his absence. I think it is best if we delay any further actions until after they have left the kingdom. If Marduk accepts the proposal to sail to Greece, it will postpone his departure for some time while the ships are readied... it might take another extra month. In the mean time, I suggest we keep our heads low. You will have a bit more time to spare... you might want to handpick some cultists for training. I hear they are not very good at combat.”

With that, Sekhenun gets up. Just before she leaves, she appears to notice the spear you took from Mehlu. She stops, staring at it.

“What's the matter, haven't you seen that the last time you barged into my room without permission?”

“No... it's just that...”

“What is it? Please don't tell me that spear is some cursed Gieloth artifact.”

Sekhenun hurries over and peers at it intently, before running her fingers over the spear's tip.

“On the contrary, no. I think it's something that belonged to your former masters... Something we Gieloth know and fear quite well, and the very weapon I patterned your Honourblade after. Vajra.”

“Sounds dangerously important. Why would some unimportant general like Mehlu be wielding it?”

Sekhenun ignores you, intently exploring the spear. Shrugging, you go back to eating while you wait for her to finish. She concludes her investigations with a sigh nearly an hour later.

“This is just a piece.” She detaches the three-pronged tip of the spear and lets the useless golden shaft fall to the floor. “This is just a part of Vajra. Even when it is complete, it is useless to most Gieloth as a weapon. It wasn't designed for us... that was part of why I began researching a way to replicate its functions.”

“Do you think Marduk knows that this is a piece of this Vajra?”

“I'm not sure. If he does, I can't see him not overturning the entire region in an attempt to find it. On the other hand, I can't see Mehlu being able to hide it from him. Even though he might not be able to use it, just having it in his possession means that everyone else doesn't have it. Back when your little mudball was at the forefront of the war, I had heard that this thing was sent here for their greatest champion.”

“War? Are you going to tell me the story? It sounds like there's plenty of history there to be told.”

“Oh, no.” she smiles. “We don't have a deal after all.”


A. You do not follow Sekhenun's suggestion to stay low, and continue with the assassinations, going after whoever is more vulnerable before Marduk leaves. This might draw more attention to the cult, but there are a few names that you really want to kill before they leave the city. The three fledglings are very prone to leaving themselves open – you could start with them...

B. You lie low and spend the next two months training a handpicked group of cultists that you think can help you with your missions. Having a small band of competent men and women that you can trust would aid you greatly in the future.

C. You lie low by spending your time out of the city. You head out to meet the Gutians, thinking to meet with them. You might be able to get help from them – after all, Gudersu claims to owe you a life-debt, but mostly you just want to relax and clear your mind a bit, free from the stifling confines of Babylon.

Chapter 5.7: East of Babylon

BBB - 3


Chapter 5.7: East of Babylon

“Mehrune will be leaving when Marduk does. I will stay here to help you see this to completion, but this means I have to give up my cushy, comfortable position as her chief handmaiden.”

You tie your bag to the harness of your horse. You had packed everything you needed to bring for a short trip, including the piece of Vajra, which you now kept on you at all times. Sekhenun had met you at the city gates to bid you a brief goodbye.

“Strange, I never knew you to be one for cushiness. What a sacrifice it must be!”

“You should’ve come into one of my Rooms of Pleasure back in Heliopolis. Of course, you destroyed my temple.”

“Actually, you did that yourself.” You point out her mistake immediately. It was the truth after all, you think.

Sekhenun flushes. “Anyway, are you sure you want to leave the city at this time?”

“I know you’d like me to train some of the cultists, but I think it might be better if I am out of the city for a while. There are other ways that we can strike at Marduk, besides using the cult.”

“If you say so… I am not your keeper.” Sekhenun shakes her head and looks away. Was she unhappy? You can’t tell.

“Anyway, just get back as soon as you can so I don’t have to track you down and give you some stern reminders of what you want to accomplish.” And with that, you get on your horse, and headed east, towards the Tigris.

The journey was pleasant. For once, the weather did not hate you. It was not too sunny, nor was it too gloomy. It did not take you long to come across some Gutians gathering wood. They barely spoke the common tongue, but you could make out that there were two thousand or so of them in the area, and most were currently camped at a small village they had raised nearby. It seems that they were used to moving every few years, going on lengthy journeys once people started suspecting the nice little village that sprung up almost overnight of harbouring bandits. The Gutians you met were friendly, and mentioning Gudersu’s name prompted them to show you the way to the village they talked about.

As you enter the largest house in the village, you spot Gudersu easily. He was playing with two children, a boy and a girl, making funny noises at them. They were both fair haired and light skinned as he was.

“My bandit friend! I knew you would come calling soon – no man can resist Gutian hospitality!” Gudersu roared, with the same fervor he used for his battle cries. The children laugh and scatter. He gets up from his table and gives you a hug. You grin at him, breaking the hug and stepping back to your bag. “I brought you a gift, King Gudersu.” You draw out a small, little sack from within, and toss it to Gudersu. It makes a clinking noise as he catches it, causing the smile on his face to spread wider. “A precious gift of Babylonian coin. It looks like your personal matters have made you rich, Ean.”

You shrug. “It was a simple donation from one of Marduk’s priests, thanking me for being a gracious host.”

“Oh ho, so you host holy men as well as thieves. You are not just a simple bandit, it seems.” says Gudersu with a gleam in his eye.

“I am a man of many talents.”

“That you are, that you are. Come, let me introduce my children. They are twins, born on the same day. This little rascal is Gursu,” He ruffles the hair of the little boy, who giggles, and picks up the girl with one hand. His other arm was wrapped up in poultices. Mehlu did quite some damage to it – you don’t think it’ll ever really heal. “And the little princess is Mienni.”

“I’m the Princess of Sumeria!” she declares, with a proud, gap-toothed smile.

“Ah, adorable.” You raise an eyebrow at Gudersu. “I can see why you claim your royal ancestry. I suppose she is handsome… and strong, in a way, just like you said.”

Gudersu lets out a laugh so loud that it seemed to shake the walls. “Oh, ha, no… Mienni is too young to marry, aren’t you dear?”

“I hate boys! Gursu always picks on me.”

“I do not!”

You cough. “Well, I guess I misunderstood your intentions.”

“Of course not! I am a Gutian king, even if I am king of only a couple thousand people at this moment, and I mean what I say. My other daughter is ripe for marriage, and I think -”

“Father! Now you want to push me off to some dirty robber?””

Well, there’s the other daughter, you think as you turn around to look at the person who had just interrupted Gudersu. She was utterly unlike Gudersu, as small and short as he was big and tall. Her hair was slightly darker than that of her siblings and her father, though her skin was just as fair. It looks like she also shared the piercing grey eyes common amongst her folk.

“Ah, Iltani…” Gudersu stammered. “He’s not just some dirty robber, he saved my life on our last raid.”

“Yes, you’ve told me that story a hundred times. First you wanted to marry me to that fat old merchant, a few months ago. Now this?” scowled the daughter.

You cough again. Careful, careful… let’s see what I have learnt about talking to people… Summoning your best diplomatic behavior, practiced from years of dealing with courtiers, you speak. “I think everyone here has suffered some misunderstandings. King Gudersu, I came to visit you as a friend, and also to inform you of things that may be happening soon… things that may change life for your tribe. Princess Iltani, I beg your pardon, but marriage was not my intention for visiting your esteemed father.”

“A glib tongue for a rotten bandit. It seems that my father has fed you silly tales of his dreams of kingship. We are just simple people making our way in life. There is nothing for you here. He is no king, and I am no princess.”

“I am too a princess!”

“Oh, shut up, Mienni.”

You raise your hands in mock surrender as Mienni began to quarrel with her older sister. You may have laid it on a little too thick… it looks like Iltani did not appreciate a higher speech. You notice that Gudersu was glowering – you could feel that he was getting angry. Probably he did not like his daughter was embarrassing him in front of a honoured guest.

“Gudersu, whatever it is, I am serious when I say things are going to be happening that may change life for your tribe.” You get his attention, grabbing his shoulder. You had to reach up a bit to do that, though.

“What is it, then? You really are no simple bandit, are you?”

You look around at the house, glancing at Iltani and the twins.

“They stay,” Gudersu grunts. “They are family. We share everything.”

You nod, and make a simple statement. “I’m going to kill Marduk, and all of his loyal hands.” Gudersu widens his eyes. “You are crazy, my friend.” You hear Iltani give a gasp. It was only natural that despite their bravado and raiding, the Gutians feared Marduk deep down. He slaughtered tens of thousands of their people, giving no quarter. They may be brave, but they weren’t too suicidal. Just a bit.

You give him a smirk and correct yourself on purpose. “Actually, I have already killed one of the Twelve, have I not? I killed him in front of you.”
“Hm, that is so… how does this concern me, then?”

“Marduk will be leaving to campaign against Greece in a couple of months. At that time, I will start the killing again, and this time, I will not stop until his loyal lieutenants in Babylon are dead. Once I do that, you might have some… opportunities, shall we say?”

“I… you do know that for all my bluster, I am not very suited to wear a crown, right?” Gudersu speaks plainly, looking you straight in the eye. It was a very honest admission, one you didn’t expect to hear. “All that is just for show, so that our people do not lose hope.”

“Why do you not return to Gutium, then?”

“That is a… personal matter.” He looked away from you, uncomfortable.

“At any rate, by opportunities, I actually meant that there can be plenty of loot if you attacked certain places when I asked you to.”

“Oh. That.”


“… and then I killed the king for cutting off my hand, and I became king of Sumeria. Of course later I fell into an enchanted sleep for three hundred years, cursed by an evil priest… but that is another tale.”

You finish your story, Gursu and Mienni sitting attentively around you. Immediately there was an explosion of questions.

“Were the walls of Akkad really that tall?”
“Are you really a king like daddy?”
“Why were you such a jerk to kill the king’s son even though you promised?”
“Is it actually a real story, is it?”

“Of course it’s not real, children. Now, off to bed you go. It’s long past bedtime.” Iltani frowned as she came in. The children giggled and scampered off. You are sure that they aren’t actually going to sleep obediently.

“Looks like you have a way with the kids. They can be a real handful.”

You had been here for almost three weeks, getting acquainted with the Gutians very well. During your stay here, you did plenty of chores around the place, under Iltani's supervision - she refused to let you stay and eat for free. You argued that you had given Gudersu some coin. She retorted that it was a gift, and that you were not a dashing robber but just a cheap miser. She didn't seem to like you. You wonder if there was any woman that actually liked you outside of those you paid for.

You had told Gudersu that if you succeeded, and Marduk returned to find that the people he left in charge of Babylon were dead and his enemies were running the place, there would be hell to pay – the worst case scenario would see Sumeria plunged back into civil war. When that happened, Gudersu’s tribe might get involved, whether he liked it or not. If he wasn’t going to prepare his tribe to fight, he would be better off beginning to pack up now and move back to Gutium. He asked you to stay a while before he gave you the answer. You’d made up your mind to return to the city first in a month if he was still undecided at the end of it, and time was running out.

“I’m surprised at myself, really. I’ve never been around many children.” Except when I was one, myself. “If you think Gursu and Mienni are a handful… well, you should try being an orphan in the cities.” you say to yourself absent-mindedly.

“You were an orphan?” She had a way of asking questions that made you feel like she wanted to know absolutely everything about you, no lies involved.

“Maybe. I don’t remember.” you lie. You remember the streets all too well. It wasn’t something you wanted to remember.

“Well!” Iltani seats herself on the ground besides you, next to the hearth. “I’m bored. Entertain me. How did that three hundred year old sleep of yours end? How did the brave king escape his terrible curse?”

“The curse could only be broken by the kiss of a maiden priestess of royal blood.” Spending the decades roaming Egypt in half-poverty had taught you a thing or two about telling stories and joking around. You seem to remember that you had rarely done that back before you found yourself immortal.

“And who was the fair maiden that broke the curse?”

“I kissed myself and woke up. I am royal... well, self-made. And a maiden. In a sense.”

She laughs. It was a bright laugh, and you find yourself thinking that she is definitely much more agreeable with a smile on her face.

“Father doesn’t leave because of Mother, you know.” she says, after giving a sigh. A small smile still played on her lips, though it was a sad one, rather than the cheerful laugh she had just a moment ago.

Probably dead. It wasn’t a hard thing to guess at.

“Marduk killed her.”

Revenge, then. You wonder how much of Gudersu’s spiel about strangling Marduk had been hot air, and how much of it heart-felt. You are about to speak back to her, when you hear a loud crash in the village. You feel a few dozen human presences appear suddenly, and two weird, distinctive, alien presences. A Gieloth.

“What was that? I better go take a look.” A worried Iltani gets up and takes a sword down from the wall. She appears to be used to handling it.

You grab Iltani’s hand before she runs out of the room. She immediately blushes and freezes up, her face turning as red as the flames in the fireplace.

“W-w-what are you trying to do to me?”

“Don’t go rushing out there blindly. The tribe is in danger. It’s probably Marduk’s men. Get the children, stay away from any fights, and find your father.”

“I can’t stay away from fights and find my father. He’ll probably be in the thick of one!”

“Oh, right. Look, your priority is to make sure Gursu and Mienni are safe. Leave Gudersu to me.”

She looks at you, a strange light in her eyes. Then she quietly nods, and you let her leave.


As you run out into the village square, you notice many houses are burning. Here and there, there were men dressed in Babylonian armour, fighting off Gutians. The Babylonians were strong – even the slightest of them were able to overpower the tall and hardy Gutians. Some of them lit up the thatched houses with fire flung from their hands. And in the center of it all, sitting on a palanquin hoisted by four guards, was a thin, reedy man with a voice as thin as his body. “Samples! Don’t kill them all, I need the samples! Take more children!”

Nusku and his experiments. You unsheathe your weapon, looking around the village. Gudersu was nowhere to be seen.


A. Opportunity has seen fit to drop into your lap. You head straight for Nusku. You do not know why he has come, but killing him here would strike a grave blow against Marduk. He is also the most dangerous being here, far more of a threat than his toys. If you let him get away now, you might not get such an easy chance again.

B. You look for Gudersu first. You will get him to rally his fighters against Nusku’s soldiers, and only then you will push back. His Gutians probably outnumber the experimental soldiers nearly 5 to 1 at the moment. By rallying them you will negate the confusion granted by the advantage of Nusku’s surprise attack.

C. There was another Gieloth presence - it is not near Nusku at the moment, but it is likely another of Marduk's lieutenants. You hunt that presence down first; you need to find out which of Marduk's people it is, so you can prioritize your targets.

Chapter 5.8: Contingency Plan

A - 1
C - 8

Chapter 5.8: Contingency Plan

You find Gudersu struggling against a Babylonian. With one arm injured, he is unable to fight effectively, his body pummeled around by the soldier. You concentrate and grip the soldier’s throat with your own powers. The man chokes, and as he tries to turn his head to look at you, you snap his neck with a thought. You run over to Gudersu and help him to his feet.

“What in blazes is going on here? Where are the kids?”

“I have Iltani looking after them. We must hurry and rally your men. Once they fight together, they can beat these soldiers by numbers. Divided, you stand no chance.”
Gudersu nods, a grim look on his face. You follow him as he strides through the village, bellowing challenges and battle cries with his loud voice. His men cheer as they see him. You stick to him, close as a shadow, leaving only to dispatch Babylonian soldiers that got in your way. The experiments were powerful compared to a normal human, but they were utter novices at using their strengths. As you fight through the village, more and more Gutian warriors join you.

The Babylonians were very disorganized, more focused on capturing targets than on actual fighting. It did not take much work for you to point out to the Gutians how to work together to distract and defeat one. They learnt fast… by the time you reached the village square again, Nusku was left only with the four guards for his palanquin. The other Gieloth you sensed earlier had vanished from your senses quite some time ago; you hope it isn’t still around.

Nusku’s face started fluttering about as he looked around him. He was surrounded on all sides by men and steel. Angry men.

“Edem! Help me, Edem!” he screams.

You begin pacing around the crowd, concealing your presence. Edem… that is the offspring of the Gieloth I defeated at Tjaru, was it not?

“Marduk will have your head for this, Edem!” Nusku’s thin voice gets higher in pitch as he wails angrily. Waving his hands, he concentrates for a bit. A large psychic wave washes over the crowd. The Gutians did not seem to notice it, but you were dizzied by the force for a bit.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” said someone testily.

At the center of the square, standing at the edge of the crowd behind Nusku, was an old man. Nusku turned around triumphantly and glared at the man. “Get me out of this mess. You brought me here.”

The old man sighs and scratches his bald head. He walks out in front of Nusku slowly, deliberately, and scans the crowd. The moment his eyes meet yours, you feel a tingle in your mind.

There you are.

Mentally, he sounded young and boyish despite the aged appearance and voice that he had. You wonder how he had found you.

Edem, I presume?

Yeah, of course. You should’ve just gone over and murdered him when I left him in the square. Now we’re all in a bind.

The old man – Edem – speaks up, his physical voice as crotchety as his appearance. “A trade of hostages, for our safety then?”

“What hostages?” shouts a Gutian angrily.

Edem snaps his fingers, and the crowd murmurs as a woman and two children push their way forward to stand besides him.

“No. No!” Gudersu shouts and charges forward. The crowd surges forward with him, but they all stop dead in their tracks. Iltani was holding her sword to Gursu’s neck. Her eyes were blank. There were shouts of anger and dismay from the rabble.

Edem holds his hands up, speaking loudly. “Now here, I have three hostages! Let us leave peacefully – I am sure very few of your people have died –“

“They’re still dead you old ass!”

“Blood for blood!”

He chuckles, and continues, “Well, I hope we can end this night in less bloodshed then. I will return these three in return for our safe passage. It is an equivalent exchange. Three people for three.”

“There are six of you, you idiot!”
“Do you think we Gutians can’t count?”
“Blood for blood!”

Edem turns around, making a show of counting his side. Him, Nusku, and the four guards.

“You have a point.” With a snicker, he stretches out his right hand. There was a blinding flash as bolts of electricity shot forth, charring the four guards where they stood. They crumpled to the ground, taking Nusku’s palanquin down with them. The Gieloth fell with a loud yelp.

“That should even things up… no, I guess it doesn’t, there’s only two of us now. I guess we shall only need to return two hostages then? Which shall it be? The boy? The girl? That cute waif holding a sword?”

Gudersu let out a wail of anguish. His people were muttering to themselves. Edem’s display of power had left them unwilling to attack and crush him by force of numbers – that and he still had his hostages.

“How about this? I will let all three of them go, if one of you comes with us. Poor Nusku here wants his samples after all, and I’m afraid the God-King will be most displeased if he falls behind his schedule.”

Heh, looks like getting a contingency plan prepped was good thinking on my part. Hey, immortal. Volunteer.

What? You know, this scenario, with hostages and asking me to volunteer to leave with you… all this seems awfully familiar.

Are your brains defective? Volunteer, walk away from here, and once we’re far enough you can do what you were supposed to do in the first place and take this irritating bastard’s life.

What are you playing at, Edem?

You mean she didn’t tell you? For fuck’s sake... look, we have no time, Nusku is getting impatient and desperate. Hurry up and volunteer.


A. You volunteer. In the first place, you were an outsider in the tribe, and as such they might have tied you up and threw you as a sacrifice no matter Gudersu’s objections. If this will free Iltani and her siblings, you have no regrets. You can probably figure out what to do with Edem after you kill Nusku.

B. You step back and disappear from the village quietly. Going out alone with two Gieloth for a ‘walk’ is a suicidal matter, especially when you killed the father of one of them during a very similar event. It was a pity, but you would have to seek another chance. You could probably ambush Edem and Nusku after they leave, with whatever hostage they brought.

Chapter 5.9: Nusku

No one voted for B it seems. :(


Chapter 5.9: Nusku

Projecting a human presence, you step forward, making your way out of the silent crowd. Gudersu stares at you in disbelief as you clap him on the arm on your way to Edem and the hostages. He mutters under his breath, “Why would you…” It’s clear that he had not expected you to take any action.

“Ah, a brave volunteer!” cries Edem, who makes a show of peering at you closely. “He does not appear to be one of you fair folk. If it is acceptable –“

“Not acceptable! We Gutians do not send guests off in our behalf! The responsibility is ours!” shouted Gudersu. There was a brief silence, a few tentative cheers, and then a huge roar rose from the crowd, affirming Gudersu’s statement. Each man and woman in the crowd began volunteering themselves in your stead, with their large king the loudest volunteer of all. They are a bit more… noble, than you thought. Unfortunately, you know that the responsibility is probably yours – if Edem was telling the truth, they had come because you were here.

What now? Edem appeared to be a bit flustered at this turn of events.

Weren’t you the guy with the plan? Anyway, let the hostages go first.


Is your head put on wrongly? Let them go, and then the deal is sealed. They can’t really say anything about it then.

Edem sighs, and snaps his fingers again. Instantly, Iltani drops the sword, and looks around, scared. Her eyes fix on you. You give her a smile and wave her towards her people. With a hesistant nod, she turns away and hurriedly herds the twins back towards her father.

“Okay, we have our specimen. Now let us out of here!” screams Nusku. “Now! Now!” You can feel power gathering in him, ready to be unleashed. It looks like he would try blasting his way out of the village if he had to, willing to take whatever risks that included. The crowd still circled you, unwilling to move.

I let the hostages go. Say something now, wise guy.

“You have been very hospitable these past few weeks-“

For fuck’s sake, what is this, a thank you speech?

You glare at Edem, and continue, “An agreement was made! It is a wonderful trade, a petty bandit for Gudersu’s beloved children!”

“We’re brothers-in-banditry here! Blood for blood!” You recognize one of Gudersu’s subordinates waving his axe about in the air.

“Well bandits we may be, but we have honour do we not? Gutians say what they mean and do what they say, and if you’ve agreed to a trade, you bloody well trade! Or have I heard wrong? I’m going to be shamed if you don’t let me go. What will they say, that the poor bandit lost his nerve at the last minute and begged the Gutians to save him?”

The crowd murmured and chuckled. You can’t believe that you’ve having to negotiate your own hostage-taking. Besides you, you can feel Edem being very amused.

“Please, let me do this. It’s the least I can do.” You look at Gudersu, hoping he’ll understand.

“If you do this for my children, you are one of us, Ean,” says Gudersu suddenly. His voice drops, threateningly, as he glares daggers at Edem and Nusku. “And we will get you back.”

You give him a grim smile. “I’ll be looking forward to it.”

Gudersu raises one massive arm and orders the crowd to part. They do so, jangling with the weapons and armour that they carried. Edem puts a knife to your throat – for courtesy’s sake, he said – and escorts you out of the village. Nusku had already run the moment the crowd parted.


Edem and Nusku had managed to grab a couple of horses on the way out. Nusku had tied you to the back of his horse. It was a bumpy ride, one you did not enjoy at all.
How did you find me? you think, hoping Edem will pick it up and answer.

I suppose you didn’t realize that she put something in your arm to track you? The reply came a few minutes later. You think about it. Sekhenun had stabbed you with a tendril when you met her again in Babylon… could that be it?

After what seems to be like an extremely lengthy period of time, the horses finally stop.

“Damn it all, Edem, you lost my experiments! That was nearly a tenth of what I had, do you know that? Lord Marduk took almost all the rest with him, and I really don’t expect them to make it back alive, do you know that? Do you KNOW that?” screamed Nusku.

“Well, you do have one specimen to take back.” remarks Edem.

“One! Just ONE measly specimen! What is the use of this? One scrawny human?” Nusku punches you in the chest, hard. He was strong, and you let out a groan despite your best efforts to resist the pain. “What are you playing at, Edem? You tell Lord Marduk that there is a cult in Babylon that was responsible for Mehlu and Gamilsin’s deaths, you convince him to allow you to investigate, yet you waste time coming with me for specimen collections! You TOLD me that village was EASY PICKINGS!” Nusku was practically frothing at the mouth by now.

“This is a humiliation to our great empire. Lord Marduk will hear of your mistake when he returns from Greece, I assure you. That stupid village… Once we are back in Babylon I will get a thousand guards. Dead specimens are fine too. Of course it's better if they're alive to see what I'm going to do to them.”

You stare at Nusku, who had his back to you.

“I will have so much fun with them. I’ll breed those Gutians with dogs and see how they pant at my feet!” Nusku giggles gleefully, and begins elaborating the number of inventive ways with which he will torture the Gutians. Though at first horrified, you begin to feel a dull anger instead numbing your feelings. All that is left is anger, disgust… and hunger.

Such a… thing… such an ugly thing. How could I permit it to live?

The rage you felt on a few occasions before returns slowly, simmering beneath your cold eyes. Nusku’s back was open.

Are you okay? Edem looks at you, his expression that of concern tinged with a slight bit of fear.

You do not reply.

Well… anytime you’re ready.

You feel the knots binding you loosen. You drop your façade. Nusku senses your disappearance, and turns to look at you. His eyes widen as he sees you are still there – unbound. Just what you wanted; you want him to look you in the eyes before you devour him. Nusku fumbles with his belt, trying to draw out his dagger, but you move far faster and crush his hand in your grip. He screams. You slam your fist into his body, knocking him to the ground. Straddling him, you begin to rain down blows upon his head. Blood and dark goo spatters your fists. The stunned Gieloth has no time to focus for his psychic attacks. Instead, he croaks out to Edem for help. No help comes.

Edem stands at a safe distance, watching the murder of his compatriot with no expression on his face.

You do not care. You rip into Nusku, savoring the sensation of the squirming black tendrils between your fingers, and you eat.
When you finish, you realize Edem is nowhere to be found.


“It looks like you’re back earlier than expected. I’m sorry for the surprise, but I did send out someone to tell you. I guess he couldn’t find the village in time.” Sekhenun walks into your room an hour after you return, a wry smile on your face. She begins explaining herself. “Marduk left ahead of schedule. He went to Egypt with a small entourage, together with Mehrune, and had Shamash prepare the army’s departure to Greece. They should be sailing in two weeks time… what’s the matter?”

She looks at you with concern. Probably fake concern, at that. She formed an alliance with another Gieloth without my knowledge… Why wouldn’t she betray me when it suits her?

That thought gets you just a bit angry.

“What did you put in me?” you whisper.

Sekhenun sighs. “Ah, that idiot told you about it. It’s nothing, just something that allows me to know where you are. I’m sorry, but when I realized I couldn’t detect you I decided to place a tracker inside. What can I say, I think fast.” She smiles at you, but it falters when you just stare at her in return.

“Look, I’m sorry. If you don’t want it, I’ll take it out. Then we’ll start discussing the next step of our plan, okay?”


A. You press the issue. She has lied to you enough. You have been played for a fool from the start, sent out to do her dirty work while she lounges in safety. She has to answer for her deceptions, and now is a good time to start, before time mellows the indignation.

B. You drop the issue. It has been a long day, and for now you decide to say nothing about it. She probably meant nothing ill by it anyway. She has her own motives, but you trust that she does not mean to harm you.

Chapter 5.10: The Next Step

A - 4
B - 12

Thanks for the compliments but it'd require a hell lot of editing and proofreading before I'd even think of charging for anything I wrote (or even publishing it as an actual novel. My prose is still problematic). As for making deals with Sekhenun, Ean's not calm enough to consider that yet. The issue of light/shadow powers will come up eventually, and we can propose a deal if we're successful in taking Babylon. Discussion about your anger issues will be addressed in the next update. By the way, after Nusku, you can consider Ean to be at pre-quake levels.

Also, had you chosen to argue you'd have lost control and eaten her. If you chose to run from Edem, Gudersu and his family would die when Nusku snaps, and then you don't even have a choice - you will get into an argument with Sekhenun because you are pissed that your bro was killed, and eat her. We missed a chance to go into forced dramatic grimdarkery there. :lol:


Chapter 5.10: The Next Step

Sekhenun is the first to break the uncomfortable silence. "I'll remove the tracker." She extends a tendril from her finger and approaches you.

"That again? Tell me where it is and I'll remove it myself."

"It's a fluid that I injected you with. I need to neutralize it."

You ponder over it a bit, but you've already decided to trust her. Grudgingly, you stretch your hand out and allow her to inject you with what she claims will stop the tracking fluid. It was a subtle effect, as you only realize that you had been carrying around a very, very slight presence of hers after it disappears.

"After what happened last time in Crete, I didn't think I should risk losing track of you again."

"Why didn't you tell me about it beforehand?"

"You might have been unwilling."

That was true. If she had told you up front, you might have refused. Still...

"That doesn't excuse what you did at all."

She averts her eyes from your gaze, looking more repentant than you've ever seen her - which is to say, just a bit. You swallow your anger. It served no purpose to be angry right now... and you are starting to become concerned about your increasing ease to anger. It might jeopardize your mission if you don't manage to keep it under control. Discussing it with Sekhenun might give you more insights, but for now, you decide to change the topic to that of your little revolution.

"You mentioned the next stage of the plan. What would that be?"

You feel her relax. Sekhenun's relief was palpable, and a small smile manages to play itself back onto her lips as she begins talking.

"Right now the only loyal lieutenants Marduk has in the area are Ahati and Ramman. The cultists are ready to begin an uprising and Edem has ensured that news will reach Shamash too late to prevent him from sailing."

"What do we do about Ahati and Ramman?"

"Ibilsin, the Grand Priest of the Sons of Marduk, is throwing a grand banquet in a few days to celebrate his seventieth year on this world. Dapimsin and Ahati will be there. Many of the servants at the banquet are cultists, so it should be no problem getting in. Ramman, on the other hand, will be inspecting the food supply of this city. He will be at the warehouses at the edge of the city walls on that night for a quick visit before attending the banquet later."

"All of the eggs in one basket." You exhale. It looks like the end-game of your assassinations was close at hand.

"Precisely. If we do this in a single strike, we win. I'll be helping out directly this time... I'll go after the target that you don't pick."

"What about Edem?"

"He will be riding to Egypt to report to Marduk on the status of his investigations. Apparently Nusku was in league with the cult, experimenting on them to create soldiers with which he could overthrow his king. He fled when Edem caught onto his tricks, and has been missing ever since. Marduk will want his help against Greece, so he will not be too concerned about Edem's swift return."


"I was hoping he would stay to help, but that man has plans of his own. So, which will you pick? Ahati, or Ramman?"


A. Ahati has a known weakness to young men - you decide to prey on that to infiltrate the banquet, seduce her, and murder her. Sekhenun will handle Ramman.
B. Sekhenun is better at infiltration and deception - you task her with sneaking into the banquet and taking care of Ahati while you go after Ramman.
C. You attack Ramman together with Sekhenun before the both of you go to the banquet. This might alert Ahati, but it is safer to fight together.
D. You attempt to get rid of Ahati before Ramman arrives at the banquet, and then kill him when he does so that you don't have to face both of them at once.
E. You wait for all of them to be at the banquet before walking in like you own the place and starting the revolution. Far more stylish.


The Gutians are still out there, near Babylon.They are probably worried about you, but you cannot spare the time to leave the city to meet them.

A. You send Gudersu a message explaining your plans and request him to raid the walls as a distraction on that night.
B. You do not need the Gutians to help you. You will contact Gudersu after you pull off your plan. Messages can be intercepted, a messenger made to talk. It's too risky.

Chapter 5.11: Revolution

Lambchop19 - EB
oscar - CA
Zero Credibility - EB
Esquilax - EB
Smashing Axe - EA
Storyfag - EB
Baltika9 - EA
Stygian Lurker - CB
Bloodshifter - EB
ScubaV - EB
Tigranes - DA
Kipeci - CB

CA - 2
CB - 2
DA - 1
EA - 2
EB - 6


Chapter 5.11: Revolution

The banquet was reaching its peak. Ramman had just arrived with his entourage of soldiers, and judging by your own experience of such banquets, the humans would all be dead drunk in another hour. Ibilsin was celebrating his years in the great hall of the Temple of Marduk. A huge bronze statue of Marduk himself sat on a throne at the back of the hall – you had heard that the hall was patterned after Marduk’s own throne room, except bigger. All around you were people who Sekhenun assured were the crème of the Babylonian elite. They were certainly fat enough to look so. Akkad under Sargon never had such opulence despite its great richesso this is how civilization grows?

Ahati will be giving a speech in a few minutes.

Sekhenun sidles up to you, having finished her round of the kitchens. You spoke through your minds to conceal your words.

I trust everything’s ready, then?

Pretty much. I’d have liked for that bitch to drop dead in the middle of her speech but their precautions have been high ever since Nusku became a scapegoat, so I can only make do with what I’ve done.

I suppose we’ll have to settle for second-best then… what is second-best anyway?

It’s not even second-best in my little herb garden. Probably sixteenth. It’s the only thing that could be snuck past their sensory receptors… the drug should lower their reflexes and inhibit their powers.

That sounds good enough to me. I need to have something to do besides interrupting her speech.

You are an over-confident prick sometimes, do you know that?

You grin as you see Ahati stand up at the head of the longest table, raising a goblet. “A toast!” she yells. “A toast to the most humble of Lord Marduk’s worshippers, the Grand Priest!” All about the hall men and women cheered and raised their drinks in celebration.

“The Grand Priest has served our Lord faithfully since the moment of his birth. He has seen the miracles Lord Marduk has bestowed upon the faithful for seventy of his years. Now we shall wish that he will continue to witness Lord Marduk’s glory for seventy more!”

More cheers.

“Even now our great god goes forth to take Egypt under his wing and crush the heathen Greeks. Who can stand against him? Lord Marduk is all-knowing! Lord Marduk is all-powerful!” Ahati repeats the cry, exhorting the crowd to take it up. They begin to do so.

You stand up from your seat at the furthest end of the table opposite Ahati, where you had been hiding in plain view.

“Perhaps,” you say loudly, “one would be more convinced of Lord Marduk’s almighty powers if he could just wave a hand and make the Greeks go poof.”

The hall went silent.

“Blasphemer!” came a shout.

“You cannot blaspheme that which is not a god.” You shrug dramatically, shaking your head.

“All of you have sat here and rotted away in luxury while the people of the empire beg for scraps. You keep your mighty armies fed just enough so that they may conquer. Your god leads you in these matters. When have the old gods called upon us to live at the expense of others? You turn your eyes away from what is right, but you do not even do what is easy – no, you work hard at enslaving bodies and minds. You are oppressors, as is your so-called god, and the truth of the matter is that oppressors always fall.”

You raise your left hand, and right on cue, the curtains around the temple fall, revealing that the city was surrounded by a faint red glow.

“Tonight, nobles of Babylon… you will fall.”

Angry yells resounded in the distance. With the Babylonian soldiers focused on outside threats for so many years, they policed the walls and shanties far more than the interior of the city. The cultists had successfully raised their mobs. Now all you had to do was dispose of the Gieloth, and everything else will fall into place.

Well done, Sekhenun. I don’t know what I’d have done if nothing happened when I did that. Still, did I really have to say all that?

Oh shush. At least this was less embarrassing than that time you had to seduce Minos’s daughters.

Don’t remind me.

All around you, you see terribly frightened faces on the humans. While Ramman appears considerably angry, Ahati has a cruel smile on her lips. “I would kill you right now for blasphemy, human, but you are too pretty to go to waste. This will be fun.” she laughs. “Do you have any more sweet words for me?”


You raise your other hand, concentrating hard, and make a fist, gripping the air.

The neck of the bronze statue of Marduk crumples. Teetering for a bit, the head crashes to the ground behind Ahati with a terrible noise. Cries of dismay rise from the guests, and in the next second they get up to flee the hall. Ahati’s eyes narrow, her demeanour suddenly deadly, and almost before you can bring up your guard she has closed the distance, sprinting on top of the banquet table.

Is she really drugged?

Of course! Watch out!

You draw your sword just in time to parry Ahati’s strike, her blade missing your cheek by a hair. Despite the drug having taken effect, her attacks were quick and skilled, and she was strong enough that any misplaced defence would be deadly. You exchange strikes as she begins to force you backwards. A few slow nobles, heavy with food and drink, are shredded by glanced blows and missed slashes as they fail to get out of the way of your duel in time. You dodge another close call; this time her sword managing to cut your cloak. “Oh, you’re good…” You can’t help but smile as you say that. But not good enough. Well, maybe the drug has something to do with that, you think guiltily.

You shift your stance and swing your sword lazily, as if underestimating her and becoming overconfident. Seeing an opening, she takes it blindly, the gleam of victory in her eyes. In that split second you carve up her sword-arm, snaking your blade in from the inside of her forearm. Ahati gasps, and tries to fall back. You focus and throw her off her feet with a telekinetic blast. This was it. You step forward, preparing to deal the final blow, when the hall suddenly goes dark.

You feel something slimy barrel into you, knocking you to the ground. With a yell, you drive your fist into the mysterious thing and summon a burst of fire. The thing squeals and falls away from you, the darkness vanishing together with it. You see it clearly now – it was a Gieloth out of disguise, screaming and screeching telepathically as it writhes helplessly on the floor before finally flopping lifelessly and melting away.

That’s what second-best does.

Sekhenun limped towards you, her body covered in wounds. You turned back to Ahati, who was back on her feet.

“Dog of the Jin,” she snarled. “When Lord Marduk finds out about this, he will reserve a special spot in the dungeon just for you… you…”

Ahati began staring at you, her eyes bulging and lips trembling.

“Maybe you can bring me to meet him.” you offer.


Ahati’s psychic shout jars your mind. Her full Gieloth form exploded from her human coat, innumerable black tendrils shooting all over the hall. At that instant, you felt her presence bubble and warp into something alien… like how you perceived the Gieloth when you first met them, but far more insane. The shock of her attack took you by surprise – several tendrils speared you cleanly and began retracting, pulling you towards a gaping maw at the center of the black mass.

Oh Me’kras! The probability was low, I didn’t think… the drug’s reaction-

Sekhenun’s voice in your mind cut off, interrupted by something. You struggle, but your feet fail to find purchase on the floor and you are drawn straight in.
As you get closer, you see the core tucked away neatly at the back of the maw. More tentacles wrapped themselves around your body. You feel the corrosive effect of the Gieloth body begin to take effect, and your flesh begin to melt. This close to the maw, your mind feels like it is beginning to unravel too, as screams and gibberish from Ahati fill your head until you are unable to concentrate on anything else.

Then there is that itch inside you.

A slight tingle, growing.

Something was trying to make its way out of your body.


A. Despite the mental assault, you think you can muster enough concentration to unleash one last telekinetic blast on the core. It might not be enough to destroy it, but it could be enough to allow you to get away.

B. You have one arm free… once you get close enough, you plunge it into the maw, grab the core, and squeeze it into pulp before you are eaten. Sure, you might lose an arm, but you will definitely kill Ahati that way.

C. You let whatever it is inside you come forth.

Chapter 5.12: Anbar-Shi

A - 1
B - 6
C - 3


Chapter 5.12: Anbar-Shi

You let yourself be pulled in towards the maw. Timing was everything, and when the timing was just right, you use all your remaining strength to free your left arm and stretch it towards the core.

Before your eyes, the core sinks, disappearing into the endless black goo. In the next moment, your arm, too, disappears as the maw closes over it. In a moment of panic, you attempt to pull your arm back. The Gieloth's formless body appears to twist for a second, and there is a ripping, tearing noise as your body jerks back, an empty socket where your arm used to be. Your own blood spatters your face, but you do not even notice it. The pain only lasts a single, excruciating second, and all you feel next is a frigid cold spreading from what used to be your left shoulder.

There is a strange feeling of duality. You are there, missing an arm, wrapped in tendrils... but you are also there, resting in the belly of the beast. Sekhenun was relatively certain that your hunger was most likely the result of being resurrected by your Gieloth blade, but when faced with the anger issues, she was at a loss - she had never heard of anything like that before. She provided a theory which sounded plausible, but in the end you had the feeling that she didn't know much more than you did when it came to what you are.

Still... if she was right, you and the Honourblade are now one and the same. You took back life which you had given to the sword; the nature of which had been irrevocably changed the moment you bestowed it in the forging.

Could I be a sword? The sword is what I am... the sword is I am the sword we are you have a NAME.

It was weirdly simple. If you have subsumed the sword's life into the identity of Ean... all you had to do to draw out the sword and recreate is to give it a separate identity once more. If your natures were one, you just had to split it, to compartmentalize your nature.

The first step was to name it.

And in that brief instant, between life and death, a name floated to your lips.



When you awoke, you were outside of the ruins of Marduk's temple. Someone had took the trouble of bandaging up your shoulder and giving you a comfortable, flat stone to rest your head on. That didn't stop your entire body from hurting like hell.

"Good morning." Sekhenun sounded cheerful, sitting besides you. Her wounds were still there, though you doubt they would leave any scars. By her side was a long bundle wrapped up in cloth.

"It's still night."

"The sun will be rising soon. The city will be ours by the time dawn breaks. There has been minimal damage and loss of life since Ahati and Ramman were defeated."

"Soon doesn't mean now. What happened back there?"

"Ah... the fault is entirely mine. According to the works of Kar'sanasi the Fifth, No.16 could theoretically induce a Gieloth to enter a primal state. However, even after thousands of years of use in the Great Courts not a single case has happened... until now."

"I have no idea what you are talking about."

"...I messed up."

"Good to hear." you grin. Sekhenun replies by putting some pressure on your wound. After you were done hurting, you ask her again, "What happened to Ahati?"

"I didn't really see anything clearly between the waves of tentacles she was throwing around the place, but at the end of it, her core was destroyed somehow. And I found this in her corpse. Don't lose it again." Sekhenun reaches for the bundle, but you already knew what it was from the moment you woke up. Unrolling it, she places it in your hand. It looks just like how it did the last time you saw it - which was when it was sticking out of your throat. Now, however, it feels even closer and tightly bound to you. You don't know how you managed to do it, but you forged a metal sword from flesh and blood and bone. What's worse is that you know you could do it again if you needed to. The hunger, and now this. Your powers were getting inexplicable.

"Oh, I don't think that's a problem anymore." You manage a smile, and promptly faint again.


Despite the victory, there was much to do. The city, lacking its Marduk-appointed governors, had to have someone running it. The Sons of Marduk had held the reins of bureaucracy in the city for many years, and supplanting them entirely was a tall order. However, recruiting outside the cult's ranks could mean bringing in traitors.

A. You only allow the Cult of Shulgi to be involved in the running of the city, having them entirely usurp the role of the Sons of Marduk. The going would be tough as there were few in their ranks capable of efficiently administering Babylon, but this way you can reduce possible spies in positions of power.

B. You ordain a more secular bureaucracy and open up positions for qualified personnel. You attempt to have checks so that former Sons of Marduk will not be recruited, but regardless, the cultists will not be too happy about having reduced power.

C. You open up recruitment for all qualified personnel regardless of their history. What you need are skilled administrators to allow Babylon to thrive, and you cannot afford to be picky about the men you choose as long as they can do the job.


In the chaos of the attack on the temple, the Grand Priest of the Sons of Marduk had been trampled to death but the chief lawmaker Dapimsin was still missing, along with him other prominent members of the Sons of Marduk. In this power vacuum, the Shulgi cultists are eager to reintroduce their cult as the only lawful religion of the empire.

A. Uniting the empire under one worship, as Marduk did, is the best way to maintain power. You allow the cultists to become the de facto religion of the empire, taking over where the Sons of Marduk left off.

B. You bring back the old religion and the old pantheon, and put Shulgi up there as a new addition equal to, not greater or lesser than, the old gods.

C. You bring back the old religion and the old pantheon, and attempt to convince the cult to remain underground.

D. You introduce yourself as a new god to the pantheon and put Shulgi up there as a new addition equal to, not greater or lesser than, the old gods.

E. You introduce yourself as a new god to the pantheon , and attempt to convince the cult to remain underground.

1. You stamp out all worship of Marduk ruthlessly.
2. You only allow worship of Marduk as an equal or lesser god to the pantheon, not as supreme god.
3. You do not do anything about Marduk worship.


Most of the military are loyal to Marduk, though they surrendered swiftly once they found out that their Gieloth leaders were dead. There were 3000 soldiers still left in the city.

A. Run a psychic check together with Sekhenun and keep only the ones that would loyally follow your cause. This should reduce the number to about 1000. The rest will be discharged and allowed to return home.

B. Run a psychic check together with Sekhenun and keep only the ones that would loyally follow your cause. Kill 1 in 10 of the rest to set an example for the others. This will leave you with about 1800 soldiers.

C. Keep all the soldiers you have. You will deal with any disloyalty when it occurs, not before.

1. Get the Gutians to come as 'mercenaries' to bolster your troops.
2. Leave the Gutians where they are.


Finally, there was the issue on who would be the ruler of the city...

A. You take the crown.

B. You ask Sekhenun to select a suitably easy puppet from any surviving nobles to put on the crown.

C. You call Gudersu here and give him the crown.

D. You have the cultists select a suitable representative amongst their leaders to be king.

E. You let the common people elect a leader. It's an idea that you've heard from the voices a long, long time ago, and you're eager to try it.


"That's quite a lot of things to organize, isn't it?" you sigh. A few weeks in, there had been no real effect yet. Any changes you made were still sinking into the consciousness of the public. The repercussions of your decisions would be felt soon, but it would not be for a few more months at least.

"Tell me about it. Lest you forget, there's still that matter with Greece." Sekhenun fiddles with some scrolls she had been working all night on.

"How could I forget? What's the status there?"

"The Egyptians have been pushed back from their coastline, losing Pikuat. The Greek armies, led by Ares, are slowly gaining on Memphis. Two of Marduk's human lieutenants are helping to defend Egypt with a force of 5000. In Greece itself, however, the tide is turning. Marduk is a fearsome opponent on the battlefield, and there are reports that he has been using mobile amplifiers to bolster his troops' strength. I'm not sure how he managed to build that many, but the Greeks apparently have no counter to those at the moment. It looks like his forces will reach Athens soon, and the Egyptians are just holding out in hopes that he will do so quickly and force Ares to return to defend Greece."

"One question... has he heard of the fall of his own capital?"

"He must have, but everything indicates that he is focused on getting to Zeus as his primary goal. Zeus himself is still in hiding - he has not appeared on the field since the war started. I doubt Marduk will cast his eyes back here and divide his forces until he succeeds in defeating Greece. Now, the issue is what we do. Babylon still requires a good few months to stabilize, and that is the best case scenario. I don't think we can spare any troops to aid anyone - I have done my best to strengthen diplomatic relations with the other cities, but they are watching us like a hawk."

You clutch your missing limb, and think...


A. You head to Greece. Sooner or later Marduk will meet Zeus face to face, and when he does you will be there. It is time to show these outsiders that humans are not their playthings anymore.

B. You travel to Egypt to aid in their defense. Showing up at a desperate time and rescuing the Egyptians will take away credit from Marduk. Let Zeus and Marduk battle it out in Greece.

C. You stay in Babylon - you can stabilize the city best by being here. Leaving now means you will not be around to exert control should any unforeseen changes occur.

Chapter 5.13: The Besieged Border Fort

Chapter 5.13: The Besieged Border Fort

A month after your successful revolution, you departed Babylon quietly. Sekhenun remained behind to guide the new king, a young, malleable noble by the name of Nabuchasar, in the direction the both of you had decided to take the empire in. He was assisted by the best men and women you could find - pragmatism prevailed over ideology for now, and you selected the most capable administrators regardless of their previous allegiance. All you required was that they were loyal to the new ruler over their former god. It wasn't hard - most of the capable administrators were a pragmatic sort who had gotten where they were in the previous administration by knowing which way the wind blew.

For now there was little unrest; Shulgi's cultists were given the recognition they had desired for more than three hundred years, and though some malcontents gave voice to louder ambitions, their fear and respect of the newly revealed god, the Dread Master, son of Ereshkigal, ally of Shulgi, who reputedly destroyed the temple of Marduk with a single wave of his black sword, and feasted on the flesh of the guilty after they were judged in the underworld, kept them in check.

You had to hand it to Sekhenun - she could really spin a tale if she wanted to.

Marduk was called an impostor - you dredged up your memories of the old legends and beliefs of the Sons of Marduk, and claimed that the real Marduk was still sleeping in the west, awaiting a bigger catastrophe when he would return and aid the other gods. There were a few old adherents of the Sons of Marduk who had not been rewarded when Marduk rose to power, and they were only all too happy to spread the new word.

Your departure was done incognito. Had you marched from the gates of Babylon with a thousand men, you knew that the cities around Babylon would be tempted to attack. Control over the empire was tenous at the moment, particularly with the Assyrians to the north becoming eager to avenge their humiliating defeat and free themselves from the yoke of Babylonian rule almost a hundred years ago. Sekhenun assured you she would try to keep the peace and maintain the current status quo as best as she could. Only time would tell whether she could succeed. With her you left the remainder of the army that had been judged to be loyal - those that you and Sekhenun found untrustworthy were relieved of their position.

You also brought in Gudersu and his Gutians, hiring his warriors to bolster the Babylonian troops. On one hand, you would be able to stop him from further acts of banditry - the Gutians had been such successful bandits that there was little else competition in the area right now, and on the other hand, you would have men that you could trust your back with within Babylon. The village that they had temporarily settled in was granted to them permanently, putting them under the aegis of Babylonian protection. Sekhenun had advised you that settling them in Babylon proper would create clashes with the local population, and from what you had seen of Gutian behaviour, you agreed. You had Nabuchasar bestow upon Gudersu the title of War Chief of Babylon, a nominal title that pleased the Gutians. Kingship, they cheered, would surely come soon after that, and Gudersu was toasted as the most successful leader of their tribe in a hundred years.

Gudersu himself was overjoyed to see you again - the bandit who overthrew a god, he called you. You told him that you weren't going to stop until you killed said god. That pleased him plenty. Iltani, as always, seemed to scowl whenever she saw you, and she did not speak a word to you, even as you were leaving.

So, hoping that you had left Babylon in good hands, you left to rescue Egypt.

Tjaru was besieged.

The great chasm that you had opened still yawned dizzily across the landscape, but beyond it, past the rivers of crocodiles, it was besieged from the Egyptian side. All the way here, you had rode against a flow of refugees, ignoring the low thrum of dark hunger that you had become used to, but in recent days the flow had trickled to a halt, and now you know why: the most accessible land pass into the Nile Delta was blocked off by Greek soldiers. The fort was apparently still held by the Egyptians, but from what you could observe, there were a couple hundred Greeks camped outside it.

You could be able to sneak past, or even cross the crocodile-infested rivers, but should you help out the fort? As you were pondering what to do, you felt a familiar presence behind a nearby rock, which had been noticeably shadowing you for the past few days.

"You really are a tenacious girl, Iltani."

She lets out a small gasp, but remains where she is.

"Look, hiding behind the rock isn't going to magically make my awareness of you disappear."

Reluctantly, she steps out from behind the rock. She was dressed simply, in loose travelling clothes that hid her figure so that she could possibly pass for a short and feminine boy. A sword hung from her waist.

"Before you ask, I'm here because I owe you."

"You want to repay a debt that you owe me? I'm not sure how you think you're going to repay it."

"I was supposed to repay it by marrying you, but you have not brought up the issue once since we arrived in Babylon, and Father thinks it is my fault for not being attractive enough. He respects you far too much to pressure you on the matter, unfortunately."

"Oh... uh..."

You didn't really have any words to respond to the situation.

"So, I'll repay you by helping you out with your secretive mission, and once I have, I can proudly tell Father that the debt is repaid, and you won't have to marry me. Before you ask, no, I'm not going back, and you can't make me."

She was right - short of dragging her back to Sumeria yourself and wasting valuable time, you were stuck with her for now. You looked back to the fort. Screams and cries had started up again - it looks like the Greeks had begun another attempt to take Tjaru.


A. You go to help the Egyptians at Tjaru - it is the perfect spot to revive your persona of Runi. You will look out for Iltani, but she will have to defend herself as best as she can should things go wrong at the siege.

B. You sneak Iltani and yourself past the siege. Your primary goal is to defeat Ares and rout the Greek armies, not waste your time with every fort you see. With your ability it is no problem getting another person across. Having her at Tjaru would put her in harm's way, and you dread having to explain to Gudersu how you got his precious daughter killed in battle.

Chapter 5.14: Terror in Tjaru

Chapter 5.14: Terror in Tjaru

As you jog off towards the fort, Iltani runs to keep up with you.

“Well, if there’s no helping it… how are you going to be of use? What skills do you have?”

“I’m handy with a sword.”

“Killed any men before?”

“Well… no.”

“Right, anything else?”

“I’m great with letters and numbers, and I also know plenty about the uses of plants. Father insisted that I learn as much as I could about civilized ways as I was to be a princess. He also made me study the precepts of some old Akkadian king that was a big influence on Sumerian military tactics.”

You stop and turn around to look at her. Giving a big sigh, you struggle to hold back your annoyance as you tell her, “That means you would have done me much more good by staying in Babylon and helping Sekhenun run the city. We definitely need talents like yours back there… I don’t really need an extra sword arm.”

Iltani’s eyes dart towards your stump.

“Look, I know you’re not stupid. You definitely understand that if there was any debt to be repaid, you would have been better off repaying it by staying in Babylon. You won’t be of any real help here. Why are you here?”

She turns red and clams up. Stepping closer to her, you put your hand on her head. She really is shorter than she seems to be. Probably her attitude has something to do with that, you think, and you ask again. “Why are you here?”

You get flashes of what led her here, as her thoughts rose to the surface. It looks like she had developed a slight crush on you ever since you volunteered to be taken hostage in her place, though she seemed too embarrassed to admit it. Apparently, she had asked Sekhenun what you looked for in a wife. Sekhenun said that she didn’t know, but she hazarded a guess that you might prefer strong women over weak ones that did nothing but stay at home, and Iltani had impulsively left Babylon with something to prove.

“Tenacious and impetuous. I thought you better than this,” you mutter. “No matter. If you are following me, listen to what I say and keep yourself out of harm’s way. You’re no good to me dead.”

That came out a bit more harshly than you wanted, but you hoped the message got through to her.


As you neared the fort, you notice the gate opening. You stand your ground and prepare to hail the inhabitants, but you are greeted by dozens of Egyptian soldiers fleeing wildly from the fort. They ignore your shouts as they stream past you. Iltani grabs on to your arm tightly as you make your way past the panicking soldiers and enter the fort.

The moment you cross the gate, a palpable shroud of pure fear falls upon you. This must have been what spooked the troops. Iltani’s grip on your arm tightens. Around you, both Greek and Egyptian soldiers lay whimpering on the floor. Some were attempting to get to their feet, and there were a few that were actually upright, shivering, with their weapons trembling before them. Before you could move on any further, two Egyptians fall from the walls right before you with a thud. You whisper to Iltani to move back. She nods, her eyes wide and her face pale. You could tell that she was struggling not to just curl into a ball and scream, but she manages to stay on her feet and hide behind a nearby wall.

You find yourself easily resisting the urge to flee. The terror reached down into the depths of your very being, but there it found only anger, which fed upon the fear, growing stronger with every second. You haven’t eaten in a while.

The besieged gate gives way with a loud crash as two identical looking men, one in red and one in blue, walk in with an arrogant stride. You instantly recognize them as the source of the fear. They are surprised when they see you standing in the center of the courtyard and come to a stop.

“Look, brother, there is a brave, brave soul that does not fear at all.”

“Indeed. We shall have to work up a sweat after all. You there, what is your name?”

You pause for a while before loosening the knot that bound Anbar-Shi to your back. You draw the blade and bring the hunk of dark metal ringing before you. You had patterned its current shape over Gudersu’s great sword as you had found that you preferred your one-armed balance better with such a weapon, as long as you kept swinging.

“Runi,” you answer, “Son of Osiris.”

“We are the gods Phobos and Deimos, sons of Ares.”

“Please do just lie down and die.”

They brandished their spears and come for you, one from each side. Planting your feet firmly on the ground, you draw your sword back and swing it, pivoting to put your entire strength behind the attack. It seems like they were not expecting your movements to be anywhere near as quick as theirs, as the first blow takes the red-attired twin by surprise and neatly cuts through his bronze breastplate. He screams, gurgling blood as Anbar-Shi bites into his lungs.


The blue twin – Deimos, it seems – thrusts his spear at you in anger. Predictable. Quick to anger. You had yet to complete your initial strike, and your spin allows the spear to pass by you harmlessly. Phobos – still stuck at the edge of your blade – was not so lucky; his brother’s spear buries itself deep into his abdomen as you swing his body towards Deimos. You complete your swing and throw Phobos’s body off your sword. He crashes into Deimos and the two of them tumble to the ground in a bloody heap.

“This is what passes for a god nowadays?” you sneer as you walk towards them, Anbar-Shi resting over your shoulder. “I hope your father poses more of a challenge.”

Cradling Phobos’s body, Deimos looks up and snarls angrily. “Don’t underestimate our power!” Phobos’s eyes open and stare at you, and an enormous wave of terror flows forth from the two immortals, threatening to make your knees buckle under the weight of that fear. All around you screaming erupts from the soldiers as they claw at their eyes and ears. The two begin laughing, Phobos choking up blood as he does so.

It was singularly unfortunate for the twin gods of fear and terror that your nature took such intense emotion and turned it into fuel for the fires of your rage. You take a step towards them, grinning a bloodthirsty smile.

“If that is the only party trick you have, it’s not a very good one.”

Their laughter stopped. It was their turn to scream.


A. You give in to their pleas of mercy and allow them to flee after cutting them up badly. They will serve as suitable warning to Ares that you are coming from him, and hopefully draw his attention away from Memphis to buy the Egyptian defenders more time.

B. You cut their heads off and put it a bag. The trauma of your violence sends them into a regenerative stupor. Then you burn their bodies and toss those down the Chasm of Runi. You will give Ares his warning by showing him the heads of his sons in person. That would be a most excellent taunt.


1. You take a limb or two from the twins as a snack. You’ve never tried immortal before – it could be good.

2. You don’t feed… it is not yet time to give in to your hunger.

Chapter 5.15: Invade the Delta

A1 - 3
A2 - 7
B1 - 4
B2 - 3


Chapter 5.15: Invade the Delta

“Ares has 3000 men under his direct command here in Sais, and another contingent of 1000 men stationed in Pikuat where their fleet is in port.”

The commander of Tjaru indicated Ares’s location on the map, in the town of Sais – little more than three days away from Memphis. “They already hold most of the major cities in the Delta. It is always the same – Ares arrives and displays his strength, and the governors surrender the city to him. Damned cowards!”

“It may have been cowardly, but it is a prudent decision that leaves the cities unscathed… for now. How many soldiers do we have?”

“Most of the army is still fighting in Greece. After capturing Pikuat, the Greeks sailed along the coast and destroyed most of the ships we had, so we had to send runners by land to inform the main army of our plight. I hear it will take them at least another month before they can return to defend us. I think… I’m not sure… we should have maybe 3000 soldiers in Egypt. But since that attack on Ares two weeks ago, I’m not sure how many are left.”

“Attack? What happened?”

“The Sumerians had reinforced us with 5000 men, and the generals were confident that the Greeks would fold, outnumbered two to one. They ambushed Ares outside of Sais… it was a disaster. I heard that the survivors fled back to Memphis and holed up in there.”

You glanced at the map again. You had let Ares’s sons go, after humiliating… well, gelding them, in hopes of distracting him from his march on Memphis. If the commander was right, Ares had not spared any troops to occupy the various cities of the Delta, instead choosing to terrify them into submission by his own personal force. This coincided with his orders which you had read from the terror twins – above all else, ensure that the Pharaoh dies. To keep Egypt together, you needed to keep the pharaoh alive.

“Perhaps we can convince each of the cities to rise up and raise an army? Then we would have enough people to take on Ares. It should be simple, since he’s left them unguarded.”

You look up; Iltani was by your side, poring over the map. “Don’t you think so?”

It might be simple, but you are unsure whether common folk would be of any use against Ares. Then again, the regular army had shown a singular lack of ability in giving him any trouble either…

“I agree that it is simple, but whether it is useful is another matter entirely. Commander, is the Pharaoh still in Memphis?”

“No, sir, he relocated to Herakleopolis when the Greeks invaded. One of the old pharaohs, Astarth, had made it a very formidable fortification. The walls are much stronger than that of Memphis.”

“It looks like he isn’t surrounded by total incompetents then…”

“Sir, if I may ask a question?”

“Go ahead, commander.”

The commander of Tjaru comes closer to you tentatively. His grizzled appearance belied his hesitant demeanour.

“Are you really the same Runi that is the son of Osiris, who sent the Babylonian army packing?”

“Do you believe I am?”

“I am not sure what to think… certainly you seem different from other people, but you look so… young. Young enough to be my son.”

“Old enough to marry.” whispers Iltani, softly enough that only you could hear it.

You laugh. “I age gracefully, thanks to the blood of Osiris. If you are not yet convinced, I could probably offer a demonstration.”

The commander shakes his head, bows, and steps away. You return your gaze to the map. At best, once Ares’s sons return to him, he will abandon his march and come for your head. At worst, he will ignore your provocation and focus on his duty…


A. You focus on persuading the unguarded cities personally and conscripting whatever men you can find from there. You will use them to further distract Ares from going after the Pharaoh by making yourself a risk that he cannot ignore.

B. You have the commander of Tjaru try to convince the cities to act, while you head for Pikuat immediately. Destroying the Greek garrison and sinking their fleet single-handedly will definitely weaken the morale of Ares’s army, not to mention serve as a show of your strength.

C. You head for Ares at once. Although the Pharaoh was not in Memphis, allowing Ares to take the ancient capital would damage his divine legitimacy, not to mention losing whatever is left of the Babylon-Egypt allied forces.

Chapter 5.16: Lying in Wait

Chapter 5.16: Lying in Wait

The garrison was scattered, many of them dead by your hand. The well-maintained Greek ships lay unmanned in port. When you tore their camps down in broad daylight you made sure to let them know that it was a single person who put their force of a thousand men to flight. Your gambit to take Pikuat was unmistakably a success, but how would Ares react to it?

There are two hundred soldiers from Tjaru accompanying the commander in his mission to convince the Delta cities to rise up against the Greeks. They are currently in Tanis – most of the places they visited have turned them down so far. Ares had begun besieging Memphis by the time you arrived in Pikuat. You are unsure if he will lift the siege to turn his forces towards you, though if he doesn’t, it will fall within a week. Less than a thousand Babylonian and Egyptian soldiers remain in Memphis to defend it. The Pharaoh is gathering whatever forces he has from Herakleopolis and Thebes for one last, desperate attempt to stop Ares, but gaining even another thousand soldiers would be a tough goal to meet.

To the north, Marduk has completed his conquest of Athens, and only Olympus remains, where the Greek gods gather to make their final stand. His forces are just weeks away from the great mountain, many Egyptians among them who have been swayed by Marduk to 'finish the job' before returning home 'in triumph'.

If you choose to commandeer a boat now, the currents at this time of year may allow you to reach the roots of Mount Olympus in a month, but what of Ares and Egypt? You could wait to see if he would come towards Pikuat. You could also capitalize on your recent show of strength and spend your time rallying the cities to your side so that they stop supplying rations to his troops… or you could head towards Ares immediately for a face-to-face confrontation, which would be the last thing he expects.


No more As or Bs or Cs. I'll lay down some basic ideas but feel free to do whatever you want then vote for the idea that is the best. To give sufficient time I'll slow down my previously 'try to update at least once every two days' rate to once in a week.

Chapter 5.17: In the Shadow of Olympus

Chapter 5.17: In the Shadow of Olympus

The ground trembled beneath your feet. The great mountain of the gods towered over you, casting a vast shadow beneath the sun. All around you the corpses of Egyptians, Sumerians and Greeks lay, tangled amongst one another like lovers in a final, obscene dance. They had lived, fought and died for gods that thirsted only for power and cared not a whit for those that worshipped them. You tear your eyes away. The hunger had been growing faster and faster ever since you stepped off Ares's lavish ship and onto Greek soil. You would have to feed soon, or risk losing control.

Above you, sounds of battle resounded through the craggy mountain paths. No mortals had dared climb Olympus before this, and the Olympians themselves had not seen fit to build any fortifications of any kind, secure in their power over Greece. It was amazing that they had lasted as long as they had against the well-drilled and powerful armies of Marduk. Here and there, you see smashed and charred towers similar to the one you had destroyed in Tjaru. As you followed the sounds of battle, the bodies littering the mountain grew ever fewer, but the wounds decorating their corpses grew ever worse. You wonder if you should attempt to sneak past the battle, or cut your way past the remaining soldiers engaged in combat. There were still hundreds left. Marduk was at the very front of the lines, with only two of his lieutenants left. Zeus and his consort appear to be the only immortals remaining on Olympus, directing the last of their men from his throne. Ares was coming after you, but you do not know when he will reach the mountain.

With an ominous rumble, the sky grew dark. Storm clouds gathered above the very peak of the mountain, spitting out blue arcs of lightning. Zeus was a weather god, was he not? His wrath would soon come. The fragment of Vajra that you had brought with you thrummed as it sensed the gathering of power, and for a brief moment it appears as if it'll fly right out of your robes and towards the peak. Sekhenun had said that there was a possibility that you might be able to use it to gain an edge over Marduk, though there was a risk that he could snatch it from you. It looks like Vajra may play a role in the coming battle if you bring it up there.

You look at Iltani, standing besides you with a look of feigned bravery in her eyes. Perhaps you could have her bring the piece away, back to Babylon and to safety. It was an important task that only she was able to do right now. If not, the upcoming confrontation was so risky that you would have to send her away anyway, though you would have to really commit yourself to convince her somehow. On the way here, you had tried everything, even promising marriage, and yet she did not leave. You are no longer sure you can keep her safe - you are very uncertain you can keep yourself safe...


We're keeping the previous style for a while, but I suppose updates can be a bit quicker. The key points to note here will be your hunger: feed, or take the risk of wielding it against the enemy, whether you try to sneak through the battle or create a distraction by yourself from the back of the lines, possibly trapping Marduk between you and Zeus, and whether you pass Vajra (yeah a bit of an ass-pull there, sorry :troll:) to Iltani, which will make her return to Babylon safely (as long as she doesn't run into Ares going down the mountain), or you convince her via other means and see if you can use Vajra in the coming battle. Of course, other ideas are fair game.

Chapter 5.18: Peak

Yeah, all right. Looks like an actual consensus is going to take forever since you guys are getting more and more creative the longer I wait. :lol:
Guess I'll just have to mix and match a bit, and keep this update to regular CYOA so that we can up the speed a bit. Sorry to ScubaV, but I'm going to try to convey the idea of your speech combined with the latest plan rather than cribbing the words wholesale. :salute:


Chapter 5.18: Peak

You put a hand on Iltani’s head, feeling a slight tremor go through her short frame as you did so. You look up at the mountain path, where the sounds of battle were beginning to recede. It looks like Marduk’s men were making quick progress.

“Ares will be coming here soon, and I have plans for him when he does. I’ll need to know when he’s coming. Can you do that for me?”

She nods. She had been silent ever since you began your trek up the mountain, and the bodies began piling up. Although she was familiar with death, it seemed that she was not familiar with death on this scale.

“Hide somewhere safe and prepare a fire. Ares’s passage should be unmistakeable, and he will not bother with anyone but me right now. Once you see him, light it up. I’ll keep an eye out for your signal.”

She nods again. You ruffle her straw-blonde hair and try to grin, despite the worries you have about the upcoming battle. “You’re the only one I have to do this. Don’t mess up and this should settle your debt to me many times over.”

It’s not about the debt.


“I won’t mess up. Don’t be an idiot.”

“Ha, there’s the Iltani I know.”

She starts turning red, and begins to move away, but you keep your grip on her head firmly. “Wait.”

“Could you stop holding on to my head? What is it now?” she mutters indignantly. You turn her around to face you, and before she can react, you lean in and place your lips gently and quickly against her forehead.

“For luck. I’ll see you in while.”

Her face turns utterly red, but you don’t stay to wait for a reaction. In a blink of an eye, you are already gone, running towards the peak.


On your way up, you put on the helmet and breastplate of a fallen Sumerian. The pulsing Vajra piece was made part of Anbar-Shi. You could feel power coursing through the sword as you did so. A faint blue glow appears sporadically from the blade, as tiny sparks of electricity leap from it. You wrap up Anbar-Shi with strips of cloth from the fallen soldiers, and pick up a spear to wield. On your left arm – its form had almost returned but still lacked fingers, and did not move as you would like it – you strapped a shield to protect your flank. Something was better than nothing.

The very first person you met at the rear at the battle turned out,by a lucky twist of fate, to be Edem, commanding the last remaining tower from the rear. He does not notice your arrival, and you stand right below the tower before projecting a human presence. You feel his puzzlement, and then recognition.

I thought you were supposed to be in Egypt.

I was, then I pissed Ares enough to come after me.

Good show, I don’t think I’d like to be here when he reaches us.

I was thinking of letting Marduk deal with him, actually. How’s the fight going?

Pretty good, if you consider having most of our own men killed off as long as you win good. Marduk and Shamash are up front. The Greeks have somehow found it in themselves to fight fanatically for Zeus, but they will be slaughtered to the last man pretty soon. Speaking of Zeus – DUCK!

You see Edem leap from the top of the tower. A large streak of lightning strikes the place where he was moments before, and the tower instantly bursts into flames.
Edem lands besides you with a thud and sighs loudly. You look at up the dark skies, which appeared to be clearing up.

That’s our last one. It’s too late to make a difference, though. Looks like Zeus is all out of bolts too… and shush, he comes. If you’re going to make a move, I’m with you.

Edem’s presence melts away from your mind quickly.


A tall, broad-shouldered man comes crashing through the ranks. Despite wearing common armour and clothing, you recognize his bearded face from the numerous statues back in Babylon.


Edem bowed, and spoke carefully and politely, “It looks like your gambit was correct, sire. Zeus was too distracted by the power of our towers and wasted his bolts against them. Now he has nothing to defend himself with.”

“No, Zeus is wily and cautious. There is always one last bolt.” Marduk pointed upwards, where the skies remained grey. “He is just waiting for the right time to fry me with it. Pity, he is going to miss. Shamash is acting as my decoy, wearing my armour at the front. The disguise is almost perfect. One more push and he will be forced to play his hand.” At this, Marduk grinned viciously. Turning about, he notices you standing besides Edem. He stares at you for a long, uncomfortable while, and you make a quick bow, keeping your head down.

“You look like you can fight. What is your name?” Marduk asks.

“Naram, Lord Marduk. I used to be a shepherd, Lord Marduk.”

“Those must be some very vicious sheep you have there, Naram. Were they what mauled your arm? Well, the battle’s end is close at hand. When I am god over the Greeks too, you will all be blessed with untold riches and glory.”

He chuckles for a while, and adds, “If you survive.”

Thunder booms across the sky and it darkens yet again. This time, rain begins to fall. Strong winds begin to blow about and you are forced to steady yourself to maintain your balance. It looks like Zeus had saved his best shot for last. Looking at Marduk, you see that he stands unaffected, his cloak and hair unmoving despite the forceful winds. You could just about notice a slight movement in the air around him, a protective cocoon of wind that negated the gale brought about by Zeus’s storm. An expression of almost gleeful confidence has set upon his face.

“Shamash is charging, my lord?”

“Yes. Zeus is falling for it!”

Anbar-Shi thrums as it senses the gathering storm…


A. You await Zeus to strike Shamash. Once Marduk prepares to go back to the front, you and Edem will attack him from behind, trying to cut him down right where he stands.

B. Ares is not yet here. You will follow Marduk back to the front and battle towards Zeus until Ares reaches the rear of the Sumerians and Egyptians. You will then exploit the havoc caused by his arrival to try and stab Marduk in the back.

C. You attack Marduk before Zeus unleashes his bolt. With any luck, you can force Marduk to reveal his power, attracting Zeus’s attention – and thus his lightning bolt.

D. Having brought a piece of Vajra with you, you can sense the immense power gathered in the storm over you. You realize that if you time it right, you can add the power of your Vajra fragment to Zeus’s strike and hijack it to hit Marduk. FRY THE MOTHERFUCKER!

Chapter 5.19: Thunderstruck

D is the winner.


Chapter 5.19: Thunderstruck

The pressure in the air builds as the storm gathers power. Far off in the skies above, the tell-tale shine of Zeus's impending attack appears in the clouds.


Marduk's attention is focused on the storm. You swing Anbar-Shi aloft, calling upon the piece of Vajra.


The wrappings of the sword unravel as they burn up in flames, the blade itself shining a brilliant blue. The lightning is halfway down the sky when you call it.


It answers.

From the distance, it forks across the storm clouds and arcs towards Marduk, a burning streak of death that even he can't escape. Your aim is dead-on; the lightning concentrated. A metallic smell fills the air as the bolt hits Marduk squarely in the chest and anchors him to the ground with uncountable amounts of energy. Not a second later, his body combusts. He does not even have the time to scream out, but you hear his psychic shriek as clearly as if he had. The lightning peters out soon enough, its energies exhausted, and you lower Anbar-Shi.

Wait. Be careful. There's something from him.

Edem gestures at you to move back. Suddenly, Marduk's charred remains, still smouldering, screams and clutches at his chest, his fingers sinking past his molten breastplate. He gets to his knees. From within you could see the same shade of blue that accompanied Vajra. It looks like his piece had somehow stopped him from being utterly destroyed, perhaps by absorbing part of the lightning's power.

"Edem, get him now!"

You raise Anbar-Shi again and run forth to finish Marduk off. With a grunt, Edem focuses and stretches out Marduk's limbs, keeping him restrained. The fallen god growls, unable to form words in his pain, but you sense the depths of his anger and hatred at this sudden betrayal. As you raise your sword to destroy his core, there is a sudden flash of light. You feel yourself tossed aside. Landing on the ground, you roll and get to your feet almost instantly.

What meets your sight is an aged man in a toga, standing tall in front of Marduk. He plunges his hand deep into Marduk's chest with no warning. When he retracts it, the piece of Vajra that had been inside Marduk is in his black-stained hand. Marduk's head lolls, and the old man throws him to the floor contemptuously. He turns his head to look at you. His face was strong, lined and adorned with a great beard of pure white, and his eyes blazed with electricity. When he spoke, his voice was deep, as befitting that of the father of the Greek gods.

"You are... hm, this is interesting. We had thought number 1337 Gil to be lost to us, but here stands the host before me, and with a piece of Vajra in hand. This is very interesting."

You stay on guard.

"It was a good measure of luck on my part that you used your piece when you did, as it appears that the previous strike would have been wasted on a fake. Imagine my surprise when I felt someone else utilize its power. For a moment we thought the Gieloth had succeeded in unlocking the secrets of its use. Well, no matter. You have what belongs to us. We would like it back."


A. You attempt to talk to Zeus. He is not openly hostile towards you for now, and a proper diplomatic solution might still be reached. Surely you and Edem together pose enough of a threat for him to consider negotiations instead of force.

B. You flee immediately. You cannot risk your piece of Vajra falling into Zeus's hands and allowing him to complete the weapon. You don't know what their true intentions are for your world, and you're not about to let them show you.

C. You fight Zeus. You have a piece of Vajra and Edem by your side, and Zeus had apparently exhausted the last of his lightning just now. Even if he has two pieces of Vajra, you should be able to take him down and complete Vajra for yourself.

D. Feel free to suggest any other course of action.

Chapter 5.20a: Tea-Time With Zeus

A - 4
C - 2
D - 3
E - 3


Chapter 5.20: Tea-Time With Zeus

You hold Anbar-Shi out, in front of you, as if daring Zeus to come and get back his piece. "You would like to have it back, wouldn't you? If only the world was as simple. You could try to take it from me, but I think you would rather talk. Maybe we can come to an agreement?" Edem wisely keeps quiet, waiting to see what you would do. Zeus falls silent as he stares at you. You can feel him probing your head, but he does not attempt to force his way past your defenses. A moment later, a genuine look of surprise appears on his face.

"The batch is somehow no more, yet you retain your powers... and that sword you hold... this is unprecedented. This is unacceptable."

There was a flash of sapphire from his right hand, and the last piece of Vajra appeared within it.

"We will talk, host, but first..."

Marduk's body is telekinetically hoisted into the air besides Zeus. His eyes snap open, and Marduk, realizing that he had waited too long to gather his strength and that no lucky distraction was forthcoming, explodes in a blur of black tendrils, attempting to smother Zeus. Strong winds buffet the area, sending the rubble and corpses littering the ground flying off the mountain. You are almost blown off your feet, but luckily you have enough presence of mind to plant Anbar-Shi into the ground and hang on firmly. Zeus himself floats off the ground, but a shimmering veil appears to shield him from the worst of the winds. Marduk's tentacles sizzle as they force their way through the veil and grasp Zeus around the waist. You see him grimace in pain, and he raises a hand up into the air. The two pieces of Vajra fly up and combine, forming a long cylinder with three prongs at each end. A lance of energy, crackling with that distinctive electrical blue that Vajra emitted, flared to life within Zeus's grasp, and he thrust it with no hesistation right into Marduk's body with a mighty roar. The winds die immediately, and you feel bolts of electricity strike and char your flesh as Zeus's thunderbolt lashes out at all around it. You instinctively bring up Anbar-Shi to protect yourself. The bolts are drawn to the blade and absorbed within almost instantly. There is a bright flash from Zeus and Marduk, causing you to avert your eyes. When you are able to see again, Zeus is the only one left standing over Marduk's rapidly disintegrating corpse.

He sighs, and pays the dead no more attention, turning his piercing blue eyes to you. With no change in his tone of voice to betray his prior exertions, Zeus speaks.

"Well, shall we talk?"

You nod. Edem was now nowhere to be seen after the winds wrecked the area. You can only hope he'll return in time to help you out, as your chances against Zeus one-to-one was unlikely at this point.

"What will you grant me for allowing you to complete Vajra?"

"Your life."

The answer was quick and simple.

"Do you really think I would go down to you that easily?" You spit at Zeus, defiant. "It is not much of a negotiation if you are the only one dictating terms."

Zeus shakes his head, with a smile on his face.

"It does not matter how hard the process will be. You, who have broken the yoke of your destiny, are an aberration on this control world. You will be eliminated sooner or later. Do not test our patience with your unfounded confidence in your power... which we granted to you."

"The voices you burdened me with are no more. You have no power over me."

Zeus just laughs slowly.

"Maybe. We could put that to the test, but you are an interesting aberration. I would prefer not to dispose of you just yet."

"If that is the case, here are my terms. I want to know what you plan to do with Vajra, and what you plan to do with my world. I have learnt plenty from other sources, yet your motives in coming here are still a mystery to me. Prove yourself worthy of this piece, and I might just give it to you. I might even help you out."

"Unacceptable. We do not exist solely to entertain your desire to learn. My offer stands as such; you will return Vajra to us, and we will send you to one of the countless worlds where your aberration is an acceptable... no, desirable existence. We can learn a lot from your growth, but not here. You are a rare specimen that is undesirable on this control world."

"Exile? You think those are good terms?"

"Those are our terms, such as they are. They are not negotiable. If you choose to remain here, I will eliminate you. Marduk has already caused much damage to an already problematic planet. Damaging the project ourselves to lure him out and defeat him was already a serious concession. We cannot risk any more delays on this testbed. Give us Vajra and I will allow you to travel to the worlds that we offer; there you may find the answers that you seek."

You ponder stalling for time, but Zeus points Vajra at you, and the deadly weapon begins to hum as the skies darken again. It looks like he still had a storm or two in reserve.

"Decide now."


A. You accept the terms of your exile. If Marduk's terrible reign was undesired by Zeus, it stands to reason that their own rule might be relatively benign. You won't be dead, and you will be able to gain power and knowledge on your travels. Then... maybe then... you will return of your own will, and then there'll be hell to pay.

B. You reject the terms and jump off the side of the mountain. Even Zeus shouldn't be able to react fast enough to catch you with his lightning if you pull off such a stunt. The fall off the mountain will be painful, but you'll survive. Once you are far enough from here, Zeus won't be able to track you if you keep a low profile, and you are betting that he will not risk delaying whatever plans they have any further by attempting to root you out.

C. You reject the terms and attack Zeus. Fuck him and his one-sided offer, you will work this out on your own terms. Preferably over his dead body.

(Because I know someone's going to ask, no, you are unable to read Zeus's mind)

Chapter 5.20b: Ruin of Olympus

Chapter 5.20: Ruin of Olympus

There was no point in responding to Zeus. You focus on the piece in his hand and pull it away with your telekinesis. Stabbing Anbar-Shi into the ground before you, you reach up to grab the piece... and your fingers close around empty air.

With a flash of light, the piece was back in Zeus's grip. He opens his other hand, and an identical flash heralds the appearance of the last piece of Vajra. Quickly, you take your sword back up. Edem, understanding your intentions, attempts to restrain Zeus with his telekinesis. Zeus frowns as his body is held down. You waste no time and lunge at the god, your blade slicing through the air at his neck. The anti-regeneration toxin flows through grooves on the sword - if it lands, his wounds will not heal. Just as you are about to reach him the air before you shimmers, his hands move suddenly, and he grips your sword arm firmly. There is a smile under that great white beard.

Your world shifts. One moment you are in front of Zeus, on the ground, the next, you are up in the skies above Olympus. It was a jarring sensation. As you fall, you see Zeus looking up at you, a shimmering veil around his body.

"You dare to raise your hand against me, aberration?" Zeus raises his hand and the two pieces of Vajra meld into one, forming a long, ornate cylinder with three prongs at both ends. You see Edem launching fireballs at Zeus, which splash harmlessly against his veil.

This is no good, I can't get through that protection of his with my powers. For fuck's sake, what is that damned shield of his?

A bright lance of crackling energy elongates from the cylinder, bolts of electricity lashing out from its body. Falling through the air, you won't be able to avoid it.

As Zeus pulls his arm back to hurl the thunderbolt at you, you see Marduk's body stir to life and explode outwards in a blur of black tentacles. The winds rise, and then begin flowing back towards Marduk, drawing all towards him. Zeus is caught off guard, and the moment you crash back onto the ground, both you and Edem take the chance to hammer him with everything you have. Great streaks of fire and telekinetic blasts rain upon Zeus and Marduk, preventing Zeus from focusing on fighting off the encroaching mass even though your attacks did no real harm against his veil. As Marduk finally brings Zeus towards him and wraps his black, malleable body around the distracted god, Zeus loses control over the thunderbolt in his hand, and it explodes.

You hear the god scream, muffled by the half-dead Marduk smothering him. A dark cloud spreads from where the fallen god-king and the Greek god are.

Your piece of Vajra begins to shine brightly, rumbling, and you can sense the other two pieces that Zeus had gathering power within the dark mass that is Marduk and Zeus. The shimmering veil now enclosed the both of them, and if you had to do anything soon, you would have to draw close to them.


A. You can't let Marduk complete his absorption of Zeus, particularly with two pieces of Vajra in hand. You rush in to try to finish them off... You are so close to victory and you will not abandon this chance at it.

B. Honestly... that gathering of power can't be a good sign. You get Edem and try to retreat to a safe distance.

Chapter 5.21: Cataclysm

A - 5
B - 9


Chapter 5.21: Cataclysm

When it started, you realized the safe distance was very, very far away. As the ground cracked and the world around the two gods began to shift, you run. All around you, trees tumbled and rocks shattered. The earth itself heaved and the heavens split. The sky turned a dark, blood-red around the peak that you were leaving behind.


You shout out her name over and over as you sprint down the crumbling mountain. There was no response, and you couldn't sense her presence anywhere. She was either unconscious or no longer in the vicinity. As you reach where you left her, you prepare to enter the forest to look for her. Edem tries to pull you back.

"We don't have time to look for your little girlfriend. Do you want to get buried here?"

"There is no way I can leave her here. Go, I'll catch up."

"Ah, for fuck's sake... If you don't come back alive Sekhenun will be displeased. She can be pretty nasty when she is. Be quick about it." Edem floats himself up in the air with his telekinesis. "I'll help out from the air."

"Can't you float me up too?"

"Don't ask for too much. Hurry up, we don't have too much time!"

You run through the woods, shouting out Iltani's name again. Still no response. The rumbling of the earth was getting stronger.

Ean, there. Quickly.

An image of the path you had to take flashed into your mind, courtesy of Edem, and you follow it. At the end of the path, you find Iltani, lying under a fallen tree. Placing your arm under the tree, you nudge it up and roll it away with your mind. Iltani was knocked out but still alive. You haul her over her shoulder.

The quaking of the mountain stopped. Everything was silent.


What's going on, Edem?

Run. Fucking run, now!

The ground suddenly sank beneath your feet. You leap, and sprint down the mountain at full speed. Taking a short glance behind you, you saw something horrible: a black miasma, streaked with red, spreading right towards you at a very high speed. You find it in yourself somehow to move your feet even faster.


Somehow, you made it out, Iltani slung over your shoulder and all. Edem joined you shortly after as you perched on a nearby cliff, looking at what remained of the mountain of the gods. A dark cloud had settled over where the mountain used to be, with streaks of red swimming through it like blood flowing through vessels. Olympus was no more, in its place a thin, twisted, jet-black monolith, almost as tall as the mountain used to be. It was as if the skin and flesh of the mountain had fallen away to reveal a rotten skeleton.

And then, before your eyes, even that remaining skeleton crumbled away. The cloud settles and thickens, and soon you could not see anything left in the area but black and red.


"He did not make it back."

"He panicked. He tried to get back with only two parts of the key. Of course it was going to tear a hole in the fabric of reality! It was a mistake to assign him that job."

"We tried to cut off his way back, of course he would panic!"

"We couldn't risk having that thing coming back with him. He was on his own the moment he screwed up."

"Well, what's done is done. No punishment we can think up will be as bad as his fate now."

"What do we do about the control world? The existence of such a rift there definitely ruins our purpose for it."

"Agreed. The rift is undesirable."

"We should purge this world."

"Why don't we convert it to a test world instead?"

"We have plenty of those and not enough control worlds. We do not have the resources to maintain them all any longer."

"But -"

"Ladies and gentlemen. This is unbecoming. Let us clear things up by casting a vote. If you would, kindly?"

"All of those in favour of a purge? Very well, noted."

"And those in favour of conversion to a test world? Alright."

"It's a tie."

"Why do you remain undecided?"

"I suggest a third path: we observe this world longer before deciding."

"We no longer have any eyes on that world. We still haven't repaired the damage those damned pests did to the link."

"There are other ways to observe. May I be put in charge of this project? I am sure all of you have greater things to tend to."

"... very well. You now have responsibility over this world. Don't mess up like he did."

"I won't."


Interlude: After the Cataclysm

Interlude: After the Cataclysm

The end of the Aegean War marked the beginning of a new era.

The Babylonian Empire, previously held together only by the threat of Marduk's power, began splintering. Each of the city states began demanding more autonomy. The Indus settlements that Marduk had conquered revolted almost instantly upon news of his death. Most of the Sumerian soldiers stationed there to keep the peace joined the natives in their bid for independence. Egypt was in shambles, but the destruction of Olympus sent whatever Greeks remaining fleeing. The Delta was relatively unharmed and under the stewardship of Pharaoh Akilhotep they managed their way to recovery, although the loss of many able-bodied men would slow the efforts for decades to come.

Greece, ascendant before the ruinous war, was devastated by Marduk's armies and the loss of their gods. Their city states were reduced to rubble, and their citizenry scattered all over the Grecian countryside. To add to their woes, from the ruins of Mount Olympus emerged strange beasts. The creatures killed and ate almost any living thing that they could. What they did not eat they dragged back into the black miasma they crawled from. The Greeks took to calling the creatures the Terasphagos. The rift that spawned them became known simply as Olympus, and the name once used for the high seats of the gods became synonymous with that of darkness and despair.

The Terasphagos raided tentatively at first, venturing not far from the twisted wasteland of Olympus, but as months passed, they grew bolder, their attacks spreading as far as the shores of Greece. Men sent in after the Terasphagos never returned from the miasma, and soon the remaining Greeks despaired of ever ridding themselves of these monsters.

In the north, a great kingdom had arisen, united from the barbarian tribes of the north. It was a kingdom of men, and though Gieloth have infiltrated their ranks, they find themselves mysteriously stymied at every corner.

In the east, the Gieloth have finally decided to invade the bountiful eastern kingdoms, full of riches and warm human bodies. It was a gamble for them - if they destroyed the immortals there and ruled the land, they could gain enough critical mass to begin stripping the world of all its resources, and they could then migrate to other worlds.

This was year 0, post-Cataclysm.


Will edit in character sheet later. As for powers, your current powers will gradually grow in strength as you feed, over many years, but new powers need to be discovered. You need to understand and be able to perceive, for example, how moving and compressing air molecules in one area will affect air pressure and create wind. Not easy.

Character Sheet:

Let's do a score card! It's just to roughly show where Ean stands in relation to the others.

Physical: 5
Telepathy: 2
Telekinesis: 4
Body manipulation: 1
Elemental manipulation: 3
Psionics: 2
Regeneration: 2

Anbar-Shi gives about a 0.5 rank boost to each of your powers currently.

Spoilers ahead for other characters.

Show Spoiler

Physical: 5
Telepathy: 3
Telekinesis: 4
Elemental manipulation: 4 (general), 8 (wind)
Psionics: 2
Shadow: 2

Physical: 4
Telepathy: 4
Telekinesis: 5
Elemental manipulation: 2 (general), 7 (lightning)
Psionics: 3
Teleportation: 1 (2 pieces of Vajra)

Physical: 2
Telepathy: 3
Telekinesis: 5
Elemental manipulation: 5
Psionics: 5
Cunning: FFS!

Physical: 2
Telepathy: 4
Telekinesis: 4
Elemental manipulation: 3
Psionics: 3

Chapter Six: The Changing World

Chapter 6.1: What Happens Next

Chapter 6.1: What Happens Next

Your return to Babylon was greeted joyfully by Gudersu and Sekhenun, though there was still much to do. Iltani was sent to her room immediately for sneaking off, and she went reluctantly, casting you glances over her shoulder. In your absence, Nabuchasar had adopted Gudersu as an uncle, making him real royalty and Iltani a real princess of Sumeria.

A feast was thrown in your honour, and King Nabuchasar proclaimed you god and saviour of Babylon over your protests. Some began to openly wonder whether you were not the real Marduk after all. However, there was no time to rest on your laurels. Unrest was spreading throughout the empire, no thanks to the appearance of the Terasphagos. The war had been stressful on the lucrative trade routes, and their arrival have not made things better. Certain segments of the population have started to spread rumours that the Terasphagos were unleashed by the spiteful false god when the Babylonians saw the light and turned away from him.

A. You continue to assist the Empire as a walking avatar of all the principles you wish the Babylonian Empire to exemplify. You will strive to have your presence banish the shadows of fear and doubt from the minds of the citizens and become an inspiring figure to lead them into this new future.

B. You assist Nabuchasar from the shadows, taking little credit for your deeds. You want an empire that does not rely on one single person to save them whenever they are in trouble. Doing everything for them will only increase their reliance on you, and if you are not around, then what?


Besides the Terasphagos, you have received news that the Gieloth were preparing to invade the Far East with all of their might. The destruction of Olympus appears to have left them fearful that the Masters might destroy this planet at any moment, and they have stepped up the speed of their plans. The immortals in the Far East were known to be strong, but you are unsure whether they can hold up against the full might of the Gieloth.

A. You direct the Babylonian Empire to focus on the threat of the Terasphagos. You send aid and men to relieve the hapless Greeks. If you cannot get rid of the threat, at least you can attempt to control it. You will start by building outposts to monitor Olympus for any Terasphagos incursions, and if things go well, begin the construction of a wall around the rift.

B. You prepare the Babylonian Empire for an expedition to the Far East. The impending Gieloth attack concerns you, and leading an army to the rescue might be your best bet to protect the people of the east from their predations.

C. You have the Babylonian Empire focus on internal strength. You need to ensure all remnants of Marduk worship unauthorized by the king are stamped out, lest the trouble revives. Having your military police the other city states will also ensure they stay in line.


Soon after your return, the Pharaoh of Egypt himself appeared for a visit. He wanted to meet you, having learnt that you were the same legendary person that fought alongside his grandfather, Akil I. The appearance of the Terasphagos concerns him too, and his visit also served another purpose: he proposes a permanent alliance between the two kingdoms, creating greater and closer ties. You would be the god-emperor that ruled over the two kingships of Egypt and Sumeria. Nabuchasar, apparently idolizing you even more than before, was fully behind the idea. This was part of Marduk's ambition, and now you have let it stumble into your lap.

You said that you would think it over.

The next day, he attempted to ask you for Iltani's hand, now saying that a union of the two kingdoms would be even better should he marry a Sumerian princess. He had spent some time talking with her during the meeting, and was instantly smitten.

A. You agree to his proposal. Akilhotep was a smart, young man, and Iltani would be much happier with him than she would be sticking to you. You live forever. She wouldn't. With her by his side, he would be able to bring Egypt to new heights of prosperity. This was a proposal that benefited him, Iltani, and both the kingdoms of Sumeria and Egypt.

B. You agree to his proposal, but you tell him that you would have to let Iltani decide whether to marry him or not. You are not in the habit of commanding people into marriage, only into battle.

C. You reject his proposal: you already (kind of) promised to marry her. What kind of person would you be if you pushed her off on another man?

1. You accept the title of emperor.

2. You don't. It's too heavy a burden to bear. An emperor has no freedom.


In the meantime, between all that work, you realize you have to improve yourself; the challenges to come are only going to increase.

A. Over your period of powerlessness, you had begun to realize that you have could instinctively read the minute movements in all manner of people and beasts that betray their next action. Although you've scarcely needed that ability now that you have your telepathy back, you train to create a school of swordsmanship, the first of its kind, designed at reading and defeating the opponent even for those with no special powers. The increased discipline from this training improves your skill in combat to even greater levels.

B. You have a piece of Vajra still remaining with you. With Sekhenun and Edem's help, you work to unlock the various powers slumbering within. Although with one piece you are unable to exercise Vajra's full strength, you become able to access the lightning powers that Zeus wielded so easily, calling lightning as you willed. You will also be able to shift yourself through space-time over very short distances, although every shift stresses your mental condition considerably.

C. A wandering visitor from the Near East has introduced to you the concept of meditation. You have discovered that by performing this training of the mind and exploring your concept of self, you are able to instil part of your hunger within your blade instead of letting all of it slumber in your core like some dangerous beast. Although Anbar-Shi will no longer be able to be returned to its scabbard once unsheathed, without tasting blood, you will achieve vastly increased control over your hunger, wielding it as you see fit. Anbar-Shi will gain the ability to feed on your behalf.

D. Sekhenun works with you to delve through what remains of Pahnrath's mind so that her knowledge may benefit you. There is not much left that you had not already pieced together yourself, but you find inside understanding of the basic physics of light and how you might bend it to your will. You can do little with it at first, but it is a start. Full invisibility is impossible for you right now with your level of power, but you find that you are able to warp light ever so slightly that you can appear to be half a metre away from where you actually are, and concentrate light in a flash to blind your enemies.


All of the choices can be taken as standalone. Feel free to suggest further options.

Chapter 6.2: Foundation of Empire

Chapter 6.2: Foundation of Empire

The Egyptians and Sumerians crowned you emperor soon after you agreed to their hopes. As a hero and living god known to both kingdoms, you were uniquely suited to stand as their head. The coronation was followed soon after by another joyous occasion: the marriage of Iltani to Akilhotep. Nabuchasar sent her off as if she were his own sister. It had been surprisingly easy to get Iltani to agree to the marriage. Her travels with you had shown her that you and her lived in two different worlds. You were, for all intents and purposes, a god, and she felt that she would never truly be good enough to stand by your side. Gudersu, on the other hand, was not too happy, but Iltani convinced him it was for the best, and that instead of being father-in-law to an emperor, he could at least be one to a king. Though her marriage was political, the Pharaoh soon grew on her, and before the first year of the empire’s founding ended she was already with child.

In the mean time, the Terasphagos occupied much of your attention. After running amok for the first year, in the second their activity was suddenly reduced for reasons beyond your knowledge. You took the opportunity to begin construction of fortifications around the rift. The Greeks were wary of Sumerians and Egyptians on their land again, but under your orders, your soldiers managed to earn their trust. A rudimentary wall began forming around Olympus, the construction halted only by occasional Terasphagos raids. In the months to come, you paid several personal visits to Greece to deliver aid to their people. Your soldiers served the dual duty of both guarding the Greeks from the Terasphagos and ensuring that they were also safe from the bandits that had sprung up after the end of the war. By the fourth year of the founding, when Iltani was expecting her second child, the Greek city states voted as one to officially come under your protection.

In that same year, an emissary from the northern kingdom arrived, bearing gifts of fur and jewels. He claimed to be from the court of King Egill, the Uniter of the North, who had heard of the troubles in the South and sought to learn more of it. As a diplomatic courtesy, you sent Mehrune together with the emissary on his return journey to the north, bearing your own gifts. Edem went - not altogether willing - with her, as you needed someone who was not mortal to keep an eye out, and he was good at being inconspicuous if he wanted to.

As the fifth year drew to a close, several unexpected events occurred. The Assyrians came to you complaining of major raids by Gutian warbands. Apparently news of the death of Marduk had spread to their ears, and they had finally become emboldened enough to attack Sumeria again. In Greece, Athena and Artemis had made a sudden reappearance, calling upon the Greeks to turn away from your empire. They have promised to defend the Greeks from the Terasphagos themselves, but for now few Greeks were eager to join their cause. You would have to make an appearance on one of these issues to ensure that they were resolved more quickly.


A. You head to Greece to parley with Athena and Artemis. Now that Zeus was gone, you might be able to draw them to your side and avoid unnecessary bloodshed. The Gutian problem can be left to Gudersu.

B. You attempt to solve the Gutian issue together with Gudersu, heading northeast into the mountains. The Greeks were still grateful to you for your aid, and you don’t expect Athena and Artemis to make any headway in Greece soon.


Sekhenun was currently busy converting the massive numbers of Sumerian astrologers into astronomers. She was also imparting a method of thought and inquiry to the scholars of your empire. You cannot send her off to Greece to negotiate with two immortals by herself, but perhaps she could help Gudersu out.

1. You send Sekhenun with Gudersu to ensure that the Gutians give them no trouble at all.

2. You bring Sekhenun with you to Greece as backup – you would not want to face Athena and Artemis alone.

3. You leave Sekhenun where she is, allowing her to continue her project.

Chapter 6.3: Rendezvous in Athens

A2 – 4
A3 – 10


Chapter 6.3: Rendezvous in Athens

The chariot was a bumpy ride through the paved streets of Athens. The once beautiful city was still a wreck, the land salted with toxins by the Sumerians under Marduk. Of all the Greeks, the former inhabitants of Athens detested your rule the most, though they grudgingly – and pragmatically – obliged their fellow city-states in inviting your protection. The residents had elected not to rebuild, but instead to establish a new Athens two days north of where the old lay in rubble. Still, it was the old Athens, in the temple of Athena, where Athena and Artemis had agreed to meet with you. The Greek goddess of wisdom, unlike Ares, favoured reason over mindless force, and was willing to give diplomacy a try before resorting to bloodshed. Most of the Greeks had seen enough bloodshed for seven generations anyway.

Halting your chariot, you order your retinue to wait just outside the temple. If it devolved into a fight, you could let loose better if you did not have to worry about injuring your own men.

You had heard that the temple itself was torn down personally by Marduk and his winds, but apparently Athena had devoted some time to rebuilding it. The finery was no more, but the structure had been restored. You hoped that there were chairs. Striding up the marbled steps, you enter the temple of Athena.

The first people to meet you inside were, to your surprise, Phobos and Deimos.

“Ah, the terror twins.” You smile at them. They do not smile back, and as one, they put a hand on their swords.

“Phobos. Deimos.” A clear voice rang out through the hall, and the two shrink back. Athena and Artemis walk towards you, as different as night and day. The warrior goddess was tall and raven haired, with striking looks and piercing eyes that showed a keen intelligence. The huntress, on the other hand, was a short but lithe girl that could almost pass for a Gutian with her straw-coloured hair and cold blue eyes. She had a look of disinterest in her eyes, seemingly bored to be here.

“The goddesses Athena and Artemis. I am pleased to meet you both.” You incline your head slightly. They do not return the acknowledgement.

Athena begins to speak, “Emperor of Babylon, I – “

“And Egypt.”

As she looks at you with slight frustration, you smile an innocent smile at her. Taunting Ares had taught you how effective words could be. Between the meditation that had showed you how a lighter spirit could better control your hunger, and the practice in verbal sparring with Sekhenun over the years, you had begun to learn to frustrate and wheedle people with words. You still had a long way to go, of course.

“Emperor of Babylon and Egypt, I trust you know why you are here?”

“I am here because I choose to be here, on lands that I protect.”

“These lands are under my protection. We do not need Sumerian boots trampling all over Greek soil again.”

“These lands did not seem to be under your protection when the Terasphagos were running wild all over the place.”

“There were… complications. We thank you for protecting the Greeks in our absence, but now that we have returned, you no longer need take upon that duty. If you would kindly withdraw your troops and return to Sumeria, we would appreciate it.” She pauses for a while, taking a deep breath. “Do that, and I will forgive you for the murder of our father.”

You ponder her words for a while, looking at her straight in the eye. She keeps a steady gaze back at you. “This is interesting. I had thought you were a pragmatic person, Athena.”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you agree with Zeus’s plot to start a war with Marduk?”

She has no words to offer you in response, but she looks away.

“Zeus was just as responsible for Greece’s suffering as Marduk was. You claim to be the goddess of justice. Tell me, would it be just to condemn one but not the other?”

“… no. No, it would not be just.”

“Why, then, bring Zeus’s defeat into this matter? He and Marduk were given the same punishment for their misdeeds. That is just. Do you not agree?”

Again, Athena remains silent. Though duty would compel her to defend Zeus, her sense of justice would not allow it. You change the subject to give her some space. You were, after all, much older than she was, as an immortal. Bullying was bad.

“Furthermore, I am sure you know that Greece does not have enough resources to defend itself from anything at the moment. Why are you in such a hurry to push us out?”

Athena manages to regain her composure with that question. “We… We can handle ourselves. The Terasphagos incursions have decreased in the past few years.”

“You haven’t heard of the recent attack on one of my forts, then?”

It was something that had happened mere moments after your arrival in Greece – the Terasphagos, who had been relatively meek for four years, suddenly swarmed out from Olympus in massive numbers. Nobody knew why they did so, but for a day or so there had been thousands of Terasphagos assailing the fortifications around Olympus. Your brave soldiers managed to hold the line, and just as suddenly as they had come, the Terasphagos retreated. Of course, she knew.

“The Terasphagos are unpredictable,” you continue. “Their motive and behavior is not like anything we have ever seen. Greece needs the blood of my men to defend it, and I would gladly spill my own to protect this land.”

Athena puts a hand on her helmet as she thinks of something to say. You decide to take a gamble.

“What do the voices tell you to do?” you ask, pointing to your head.

Her eyes fix on you, startled, unsure whether she should say anything, looking every bit like a young woman and not the goddess that she was.


“We haven’t heard the voices since the mountain crumbled.” Artemis spoke up, her tone as indifferent as her face. “Our powers are still here, of course, and we sense that they are still within us… but for some reason they do not speak to us anymore.”

“Artemis!” Athena exclaimed, aghast at her willingness to leak information to you. On your part, you were surprised. This was not an answer that you had thought possible – you had only thought the voices were guiding her down a path of rebellion, not that they were no longer guiding her at all. You suppose some part of her famed wisdom was thanks to her voices, but you do not say it out loud. At least her equally famous sense of justice appeared to remain somewhat intact.

“There’s nothing wrong with telling him that, Athena. Aphrodite said he used to be one of us after all.”

Ah, Aphrodite – there was a name you hadn’t heard in ages. “Speaking of her,” you speak up, “where is she? Where is Ares, for that matter?”

Artemis is the one that replies you. “Aphrodite fled Olympus shortly before its fall. We’re not sure where she is right now. As for Ares… well, Ares was being Ares. We met up with him at the foot of Olympus soon after the battle ended and that happened. He was very angry about a letter you sent him, and then he ran into the miasma shouting bloody murder. We never saw him after that.”

“Ah.” You resisted the urge to look guilty. Still, although you had gained some interesting information, you were not here to swap stories.

“Thank you for answering me, Artemis. Now, let’s get back to why we are here.” Athena glares at you – after all, you were the one that brought the conversation off track.

As Emperor, you could offer several resolutions to this matter, but what proposal would lead to the best outcome? Although your conversation with Athena had given you confidence that you could convince her to see things your way, you had to be careful with what you said next, lest you offend her pride.


A. Offer Athena queenship of Greece, giving her status on par with Akilhotep and Nabuchasar. She would rule Greece under the aegis of your protection. This is the best offer you can give her short of just letting her have things her way.

B. Retain control of Greece via the city states, but task Athena with leading the defences against the Terasphagos. Giving her any more responsibility than that would be risky, if she was not yet used to having voices to advise her.

C. Allow Athena to have things her way, and withdraw your troops. If she will not appreciate the sacrifices of your men, she can see how it is like to battle the Terasphagos herself. You can always return later, once the mortal leaders of the cities inevitably beg you to.

D. Something different? ("Would you like to join my breeding programme?")

Intermission: Terasphagos (~1890 B.C. / 5 A.C.)

Intermission: Terasphagos (~1890 B.C. / 5 A.C.)

Unknown, but they launch their attacks from within the miasma around Olympus from which none have ever returned.

They have been spotted feeding on any organic material. The vicinity of Olympus is now a barren wasteland thanks to the Terasphagos. For the past five years, two distinct forms have been observed: a smaller, six limbed, insectoid type the size of a cat, and a larger, four-limbed version that is the size and shape of a big hound. All Terasphagos have six eyes around their head and glowing patterns that do not serve any identifiable purpose. Current theory is that they may play a role in communication. Their bodies are covered with a hard but thin shell. Terasphagos that have been captured alive do not live for long: the oldest recorded specimen survived only up to two months after its capture. Dissection reveals a strong musculature and many redundant organs and vessels. They have a circulatory and nervous system, but despite their feeding there is no discernible digestive tract. The oral cavity merely leads into a large sac nestled within the abdomen. Reproductive systems appear to be non-existent. The amount of redundant material partially explains their ability to take massive wounds and continue fighting. This holds true for both forms.

The Terasphagos demonstrate the ability to differentiate between friend and foe, but beyond that they appear to have no reasoning ability. They will attempt to eat any living thing that is not Terasphagos. Occasionally the insectoid forms will attempt to abduct living things back to the rift by swarming the target, restraining it, and carrying it away.

The Terasphagos are, on a one-to-one basis, stronger and tougher than any human. They also swarm in groups of hundreds. Basic tactical countermeasures are to deal with each as a pair, dealing with them as one would a dangerous beast, and such measures have brought about success whenever humans outnumber Terasphagos. However, if a larger group of Terasphagos catches a smaller band of humans, fatality rates are near total, with almost everyone either eaten or abducted. Terasphagos do not appear to be able to deal with fortifications, lacking the mentality to efficiently besiege a wall, and for now that seems to be the best way to contain them.

~ Sekhenun's notes on the Terasphagos.

Chapter 6.4: The Gutian Dilemma

It looks like the A alliance has the majority vote, which does not seem likely to change. Let’s move on with the update.


Chapter 6.4: The Gutian Dilemma

“Queen?” snarled Athena. “You think I am here to beg you for power? You offer to turn Greece into my personal queendom and demand my loyalty in return? Let me tell you this; immortals are duty-bound to guide and protect the people, not to rule over them as you have. I know that not many of them listen to me right now, but I would much rather work at regaining their faith on my own than have you simply hand Greece over to me, in some devious plan to gain my favour – as if you had all the right in this world to do as you wish with the lands of Greece, after its people elected to trust you with their stewardship! You are a despicable schemer, Emperor of Babylon and Egypt.”
You let her rant, wondering if you had made the right choice after all. It appears that she had not desired to rule, only that you ceased your meddling in Greek lands. Still, you do not understand why she is so upset: this was surely more than she bargained for.

“This is the offer that I make, Athena. You may dislike it, but do you disagree that this gives you the best way to reconnect with your people?” You respond calmly only after she has stopped talking, not wanting to interrupt her.

“Athena.” Artemis laid a hand on her shoulder.

“I know, Artemis. It pains me to admit this, but this scum is right about the resources we do not have… I just needed to express myself. You have my apologies for the outburst, Emperor. We will accept your offer.” She removes her helmet and bows her head to you. When she raises it, however, her eyes are full of scorn. “I will be Queen of Greece, and I will show the people just how misplaced their trust was in you.”


You crowned the new Queen of Greece before you returned to Sumeria. Although you were certain Athena would be doing her best to undermine your authority in her kingdom from now on, you also knew that she would not do anything to endanger the lives of the men defending Greece from the Terasphagos. As Queen she had authority over the men of Greece, but the soldiers stationed around Olympus were mostly Egyptian and Sumerian, and they still answered to Akilhotep and Nabuchasar – which was to say, they answered to you. If she was a general of your empire, directly under your command, things would be different, but immediately granting command of Egyptian and Sumerian soldiers to a Greek queen would be a tricky matter to explain. For now, you decide to keep Athena removed from the chain of command of the defending armies until you can have her meet with the kings of Sumeria and Egypt.

Upon your return, you find that things with the Gutians had not gone well. The mountain tribes of the east had somehow been warned of Gudersu’s arrival and ambushed him before he even reached the Assyrian city of Ashur. They did not have much liking for his tribe, seeing them as having deserted the Gutian country to live a life of luxury as a Babylonian lapdog. When you reached Ashur, Gudersu was still in critical condition. You brought Sekhenun with you to see what she can do for his condition. His wounds were severe, and one of his legs had begun to rot. She removed it. Gudersu remained feverish for the next week, and then, testament to his fortitude, began to recover. The big guy would survive. His fellow tribesmen were baying for blood against their Gutian brethren, angry at this sudden turn of events. The years spent wandering in Sumeria, separate from the other Gutians, had hardened their hearts against the ones who they think abandoned them to flee back into the mountains, fearing Marduk’s wrath. In the mean time, the Gutians had continued their raids against the Assyrian farmlands and trade caravans.


A. It looks like Marduk had the right idea. You begin a campaign of extermination against the Gutians. Gudersu’s tribe are more than happy to help, as they almost lost him and definitely lost more than a few of their own in the ambush.

B. You lead a few punitive raids personally, showing the Gutians why exactly they should not be messing around with you, but progress no further than that.

C. You offer diplomacy to the Gutians – it worked well with the Greeks in the end, surely it would work well with them. You set a date and time for a meeting at a neutral place, asking their leaders to come and speak with you.

D. You do nothing. You are a lazy emperor.

Chapter 6.5: The Hidden Hand

Chapter 6.5: The Hidden Hand

The attacks that you led quelled the Gutians. No more further raids were forthcoming, as you exacted punishment on those tribes that had been the most culpable for the raids and Gudersu’s ambush. Though you thought the matter solved, in a matter of months, after you had returned to the capital, the Gutians began acting up again. This time, you made a point of finding out what exactly was causing their discontent. After your scouts had identified the ringleader behind the Gutians, you made a point of leading another raid and capturing him alive. Bringing him back for interrogation, you found that one of Marduk’s former men, Dapimsin, had been the source of your problems. Dapimsin now represented the Hittite Empire, and in recent years he had managed to contact some of his former subordinates who were now working in your government. The Hittites had cautiously opted to stay out of the Aegean war under their old king, but his son, who recently ascended to power, was more aggressive and believed that you were a weak emperor that could only preach of ideals of brotherhood to hold together Marduk’s conquests.

In the mean time, Edem and Mehrune had also returned from the north, with valuable information to share. The last of the free tribes of the north had been united under the banner of Egill’s clan about fifty years ago, and they have made remarkable progress since then despite the poor weather and lands. Their population was small compared to the great cities of the South, but they were an industrious folk and have apparently discovered ways of forging better, more durable iron. Unfortunately, Edem was unable to visit the forges, which were held a sacred site and off limits to those not initiated in the art. As for the Gieloth, there were a few of them holding minor positions, but their machinations to ascend were invariably, mysteriously foiled by some setback or another. Edem also found that the chief adviser of King Egill, a man who is rumoured to be the real power behind the throne and a shaman that has served his clan for many generations, turned out to be just a normal human, albeit one that was intelligent and resourceful – it was his idea to send an emissary to the south, and he was knowledgeable enough about events that were happening in Greece and elsewhere.


A. Give the Gutians an ultimatum – cease their misbehavior or be exterminated. You will then launch a war against the Hittites to punish them for their transgressions against your empire.

B. Raid the Gutians again and give them one last chance to stop their attacks or face death, but ignore the Hittite role, as you do not want to begin another war so soon. As long as the Gutians stand down, you will be satisfied.

C. Ignore the Gutians and invade the Hittites, the true culprit behind these raids. Once the Gutians see that their backers have been destroyed, they will naturally fall back into line.

D. Ignore them both. It’s too much of a hassle.


Having the information about Dapimsin’s men in your government, you know their identities. It would be a simple matter to round them up should you want to.

A. You purge the traitors in your government publicly, to set an example to others.

B. You have them quietly dealt with. There is no point in alarming the people with public executions.

C. You keep them around. How would they feed misinformation to Dapimsin from now on if you kill them?


A. Although Edem was unable to bring you back the secret of better iron, craftsmen in the empire are already beginning to figure out ways to temper superior iron on their own. You encourage this path of progress and work together with those in the know to create higher quality metal to replace the bronze equipment prevalent throughout the empire.

B. You focus on teaching every citizen in the empire to be able to read, write and count. You do not demand that they are able to speak more than one language, but they should at least be able to read and write in the language of the place they stayed in, as well as understand the basic principle of arithmetic.

C. To explore the world better, you need a way to travel further and faster. It was no good knowing about all these places if you couldn’t reach them in a reasonable amount of time. You focus your efforts on creating hardier, faster ships. A vessel enabling mortals to cross the great ocean to the west was still a faraway dream, but this is the first path towards that goal.

Chapter 6.6: Ten Years to the Founding

Choice 1:
B - 10
Choice 2:
C - 14
Choice 3:
B - 14


Chapter 6.6: Ten Years to the Founding

Now that you knew the Hittites were the ones encouraging the Gutians, your raid and subsequent ultimatum had a predictable effect: they began pestering the Hittites for help. By all accounts the Hittites were reluctant to actually engage your empire in direct military action, preferring to have the Gutians bleed you dry before swooping in for the prize.

As the seasons changed and the Gutians grew desperate, you unleashed a ploy of your own: you had your own Gutians disguise themselves in the colours and markings of the other tribes, and they attacked the Hittites. Meanwhile, Dapimsin's eyes and ears in your administration discovered - or rather, were allowed to discover, your diplomatic meetings with several prominent Gutian chieftains known to support the Hittites - not exactly the truth, but not lies either; you did meet with them, albeit under circumstances that were less than diplomatic and entirely unfavourable to them.

Soon the Hittites were threatening the Gutians on their end, demanding that the Gutians stop their double-crossing. The confused Gutians denied their knowledge of any raids, but that only enraged the Hittites further and caused relations to deteriorate. In the end, the perplexed Gutian tribes, trapped between both sides, decided in favour of the one that was currently being very active in their home mountains, and yielded to you.

The hapless Hittites gave up their shadowy attempts at undermining your empire. Unfortunately, they began expressing overt desires to undermine your empire, preferably by marching their army through your lands. The Hittite Empire began to build up its troops. It appears that sooner or later a military clash was inevitable.

In the meantime, good progress was being made with your decree that every citizen of the empire should be literate. There is still some dissent, particularly in the rural areas, with the farmers and miners complaining that they had no need for such nonsense. Most of the Greeks took to it like a fish to water, and for the first time you saw Athena smile as she watched a class of children in session. Even so, it would take a generation or two of sustained development for the idea to catch on throughout your domains.

The first fruits of Sekhenun's project to teach scholars how to investigate natural phenomena were also ripening; already several proposals have been submitted to you regarding how the empire could better utilize some of the knowhow it already has to improve the lot of its people.

Ten years after the empire was established, it was in a pretty good position. It was then, though, that you learnt that the Gieloth had begun landing in the east, attempting to infiltrate power structures of the powerful reigning Xia dynasty while simultaneously building up their own base south of the Xia. Artemis informed you that the immortals there currently numbered about twenty, with dozens of demigods at their beck and call, while you had no concrete figure about the Gieloth number, though they were estimated to be in the hundreds. It looks like the Gieloth had a new plan, to attempt to topple the immortals by trickery first. Still, as the immortals had been warned and were expecting their arrival, the Gieloth would probably find their efforts frustrated, and as they grew desperate, launch an attack outright.


A. You begin preparing an expedition to the east. The scouts have managed to track a path from the Indus to the Xia, which will lead you through the southern lands, where the Gieloth were building up their own power base.

B. Your expedition to the east will take you through the northern plains, which would arguably be faster and lead you directly to the northern lands of the immortals. The path is unscouted, however, as most of the scouts you have sent into the area did not return.

C. You do not organize an expedition, but travel there yourself with a small band of your own choosing. You are not confident that you would be able to solve the logistics of sending an entire army across the world on foot.

D. You do nothing for now. The immortals have been warned, and they can probably take care of themselves. Your attentions are needed here.


A. You embark on an ambitious project to construct roads to every part of your empire, and pave the main throughways by which most of the trade travels. The scholars have written a proposal about how this would improve the economic condition of the empire significantly, and planned out the best paths for the roads to take.

B. Another group of scholars have come up with the idea of establishing towers for signalling along the paths of the empire. You recall that Astarth once threatened you with such an idea. With a tower, an oil lamp, a mirror and a book of codes, it is possible for messages to be transmitted long distances at a speed faster than land travel.


A. The incident with the Hittites have convinced you that you need an extensive information network so that you do not get caught unawares again. You organize a group of extremely loyal, skilled personnel that are to be given the most stringent training in the arts of deception, organization and assassination, and sent into the world to serve as your eyes and ears.

B. You have realized, as time goes on, that you cannot fight alone or be everywhere at once. You need your personal guard to be stronger, faster, smarter, and more skilled than any man. You organize the training for a group of soldiers that are to be loyal to you and you alone, and personally instruct them in the ways of battle. These are to be your elite, who can both fight and command in battle, and serve as your emissaries where needed.

Chapter 6.7: Hattusa Kneels

A - 1
B - 13
C - 3


Chapter 6.8: Hattusa Kneels

At first the Hittite king and his advisors sneered at the forces you led against them. On the plains of Anatolia the Hittian chariots reigned supreme, especially under the leadership of their king. Only a fool would face them in direct combat. A fool, or a god. You showed them which one you were in the first and only engagement in the Hittite heartland. A thousand Hittian chariots were torn to pieces on that day as the Hittites fell prey to their overconfidence. Having allowed you to dictate the location of engagement with a simple bait, they ended up fighting with their backs to a river and their wheels in the mud. The Hittian king lost his life in an unfortunate accident during the ensuing rout, drowning in the river as he attempted to flee.

It was much easier than you had expected. The Hittites were tough soldiers and well disciplined, each man capable of giving as good as he got, but their leadership let them down. Of course, in any case, they were unlikely to have won, especially after your public demonstration of divine strength and holy fire. It inspired your men and struck terror in your enemies. The surviving Hittites spread the rumour of your godhood far and wide. In Hattusa, the gates were thrown wide open with hushed whispers. The surviving royalty and nobility knelt before you in defeat, and the first thing you saw upon entering the palace was a giant mural they claim to have painted to appease your possible anger.

"Three heads spitting fire. Six arms wielding a weapon in each with Lubarna's head stuck on each of them. Is it me or does that neck look snake-like? This doesn't seem very godly, maybe except for those huge bird wings."

Sekhenun peers at the mural, then back at you, and shrugs.

"Looks just like what you are to me. I like the screaming men crushed underneath your taloned feet. It's a nice touch."


In Greece, however, things had taken a turn for the worse. The invasion of the Hittites had coincided, unfortunately, with an increase in Terasphagos activity. Although Athena and her men had met and defeated the Hittite army decisively further north of the rift, the survivors managed to rally together under another Lubarna, a relative of the drowned king. They fought on, news of their king's demise still far from reaching their ears. In the meantime, Athena's men were distracted with attacks from the Terasphagos their outposts. The creatures managed to breach their barricade and began raiding the lands north of Olympus. Athena and Artemis were forced to retreat from the front-lines to subjugate the Terasphagos in the rear, and the Hittites took that chance to press the advantage all the way to the fortifications surrounding the rift. Trapped between the Terasphagos and the Hittites, the soldiers in Greece suffered considerable casualties. As the Hittites marched forward, though, they began to encounter the Terasphagos, which picked them off piecemeal as the days went by. A mere week after they began their push, most of the army was scattered and fleeing back to their homeland.

Athena began the task of repairing the breach while Artemis hunted down any Terasphagos that had fled. It was not uncommon for a few bands of Terasphagos to slip past the fortifications - they were by no means perfect, and somehow the Terasphagos managed to continue finding ways to appear on the other side of the wall - but this time hundreds of Terasphagos had been let loose. Artemis would be busy with her hunt for some time to come.

Barely a day after that, a new type of Terasphagos flew out from the rift by the dozens, wounding a few men who were taken unawares. Some were shot down but most vanished into the wilderness of Greece. It looks like they were not limited to two forms after all.


A. The Terasphagos were showing that they were an unpredictable, ever-changing threat. You focus the energies of the empire on finding solutions to the issue and learning more both about the Terasphagos and the rift. Olympus will be given top priority for all resources that you can muster.

B. In the east the conflict seems to have settled into a stalemate between the Xia and the Gieloth-backed Shang. Now would be a good time to concentrate on boosting mapping efforts, scouting new lands, and finding safer and more secure ways to reach the Far East before the situation deteriorates.

C. The addition of the Hittites as a new vassal has contributed to some internal instability, particularly with the Assyrians, though your reputation keeps things in check for now. You have the empire focus on its internal affairs, to ensure the hassle of absorbing and integrating a foreign empire into your own is smoothed over as much as possible.

Chapter 6.8: The Rift Incursion

Chapter 6.8: The Rift Incursion

In the intervening years, the best minds of the empire devoted themselves to discovering more about the rift and the Terasphagos. Guided by Sekhenun, they cast away the misconceptions about the rift held by the common citizens and soldiers. What they found made it hard not to run back and cling to the safety of myth.

For starters, the miasma was not a mere cloud of gas. A band of five brave scouts had managed to trap some of the miasma in a jar, though only one managed to make it back alive with the prize in hand. The sample of miasma was stored in a small glass container that had been made to Sekhenun's specifications; a year later, you needed two. It seems that once taken far from the rift, it began to increase in volume at a very slow rate. The miasma around the rift itself did not appear to grow in any appreciable manner even twenty years after it had first appeared. Terasphagos specimens kept in the miasma could last indefinitely, but died weeks after being removed from it. Animal specimens exposed to a high concentration of the miasma began biting and clawing at themselves, and their condition did not recover even after removal. The exact mechanism by which the miasma affected them was unknown, but Sekhenun theorized that inhalation would be the most possible vector.

The cloud of miasma was extremely dense and could not be scattered except by the strongest winds. This in itself was a curse and a blessing. It made exploring further into the rift almost impossible due to the lack of sight within. On the upside, it meant the miasma could not be spread. Sekhenun spent most of her time looking into ways to protect a person from the miasma. She experimented with various forms of filters at the cost of hundreds of animal lives. Finally, she hit upon a formula that seemed to work...

As for the Terasphagos themselves, their once dormant activity began increasing year after year until, in the twenty-fifth year of the empire's founding, the largest swarm of Terasphagos on record poured out of the miasma. The Hittites, who had been ambivalent about the Terasphagos threat before, were finally fully convinced of the danger they posed. Tens of thousands of Terasphagos smashed past your fortifications, which were capable of handling mere thousands but hard pressed to hold against dozens of times that number. You led from the front, battling against the crazed horde. Despite your best efforts, thousands of soldiers died, with thousands more taken by insectoids. Old Gudersu, brave in battle despite his age, was one of them. When the incursion happened, he was one of the first to answer the call of arms, citing boredom as the reason. You suppose it was how he would have wanted to go, abducted by a hundred shrieking insect monsters to an unknown fate possibly worse than death.

The Terasphagos possessed extremely strong vitality, and would not be stopped by a mere rain of arrows. As the fight progressed, new improvements had to be made to the weapons of the empire to increase their effectiveness. Iron-making was still unreliable, but your weaponsmiths and armourers began shaping heavier equipment for your soldiers. Against the Terasphagos, the agility of a human would never amount to much. Your soldiers learnt to present a metal wall to the enemy. Nets and traps would be used to stifle Terasphagos movement, and heavy weapons utilized to finish them off. The veterans of the incursion developed discipline like no other - nothing taught you to hold the line better than seeing a comrade falter one time too many and having your entire band wiped out by monsters.


The fight against the horde lasted long enough for you to relocate your fortifications further away from Olympus, ceding some ground to the seemingly limitless numbers of the Terasphagos. The increased distance would allow you to get more advance notice of incoming Terasphagos as they bounded out of the rift. As they could not venture far from the miasma without weakening and dying, their range was limited. A few years after the incursion, their activity began to decrease again.

A. You take this chance to reclaim the lands that you had ceded to the Terasphagos during your retreat. You will not let one inch of human soil be left to those vile creatures.

B. The lands in between your new fortifications and the old were already a blasted wasteland nearly devoid of life. Spending lives and effort to retake them would be futile.


It was at this time that an emissary from the north arrived again. The years that had passed since first contact was made had been quiet on their side, but more and more northerners had begun coming south to engage in trade, while not a few people of your own empire had enterprisingly ventured north. This time the northern emissary brought an interesting proposal: they desired to establish their sacred forges in your cities, which would make it easier for them to engage in trade with the rest of the known world. In return you would be granted a gift of a certain amount of high quality steel equipment every year, made to your specifications. The quality of the items they made was beyond that of any of your own craftsmen, who have pored over them for ages yet failed to succeed in recreating the material.

A. You accept their offer. For years your watchers had strived to infiltrate their northern forges, but failed to make any headway. The steel artisans were a very reclusive group. Having them open up their forges here would make it easier for your men to discover their secrets.

B. You refuse the offer. They appear to be keeping too many secrets; it would be risky to allow them to set up shop in your cities until you know who is behind them, and what their true motive is. Surely they can't be here just for trade.


Sekhenun's filter has been tested in battle, as some of your scouts suicidally volunteered to put it on and sneak into the miasma. One of them managed to come out alive with his sanity intact, though his arms were less so. According to the scout, it was too dark within to see anything, though lighting up a torch helped provide some dim light to find your way. Meanwhile, your connection to Vajra had been built up steadily over the years and strengthened with the bull statuette you had obtained from Minos's vault, and now you were confident you can use the piece to do almost anything Zeus could've done with it. You also found that you could connect to your piece of Vajra far more easily when you used it in conjunction with Anbar-Shi.

A. It was time for an expedition - you lead one into the miasma, to explore it and find the actual rift within the rubble of Olympus.

B. You wait for more scouts to be sent in before you go in yourself. It's too risky to dive head-in after only one proof of success.

(Not using block voting, each choice weighed separately)

Intermission: The Empire (30 A.C.)

Intermission: The Empire (30 A.C.)

The empire was founded in the same year that Olympus fell, as a union between the former Babylonian and Egyptian Empires. Within 30 years, it has since expanded to bring the Greek city states and the Hittite Empire under the aegis of its protection and is now the sole power in the lands that border the Mediterranean.


The Emperor is the head of the empire and the one in which all decision-making power rests. Although each kingdom nominally holds great autonomy over their own administration, in practice the current Emperor has exercised his influence in a wide variety of issues, ranging from trade to the military. The kings of the empire serve a function more akin to that of a governor, dealing with day-to-day matters of the bureaucracy, maintaining the rule of law, and ensuring that their kingdoms are progressing in the direction that the Emperor desires. It is in essence an empire united under the absolute power of one monarch.

The Emperor has established a school of scholars which bring in the brightest and most talented citizens of the empire. Although the kingdoms tend to rely on their own home-grown bureaucracy for their administration, many scholars from the Emperor’s school tend to be assigned to high ranking positions that are near to, but not the top, in their respective homelands.

Internal Relations

The three kingdoms of the Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians, as the founding members of the empire, have somewhat cordial relationships with each other. The Hittites have had a long history of conflict with all three, and as such are less committed to being partners in the empire’s growth if any of the other three stands to benefit more. The Assyrians, having been under Babylonian rule since they were subjugated by Marduk, have begun proposing that they should be granted equal status as the other kingdoms on the basis of their history. The current king of Babylon, Nabuchasar, is not too agreeable on the matter, noting that under the Assyrian proposal some of the disputed and wealthier cities near the Assyrian-Babylonian border would go to the new Assyrian kingdom.

Relations of each of the kingdoms with the Emperor vary. Both the Egyptian and Babylonian kings are extremely loyal to the current Emperor. The queen of Greece, Athena, had cultivated an attitude of indifference, tolerating the Emperor’s rule only as long as her dominions prosper, but the recent incursion of the Terasphagos and the successful defense against it has given her a change of heart. She now supports the Emperor’s rule openly, though she does not hesistate to point out what she feels are mistakes in his rule. King Tudalliya of the Hittites was brought to the throne by the deaths of the reigning members of the Lubarna dynasty, and as such is grateful to the Emperor for his current seat. However, his gratefulness does not extend to his interactions with other members of the empire, who have not given him any courtesy either.

External Relations

The empire has cordial relations with the kingdom in the north and has negotiated peace with its former holdings in the Indus Valley. There are no other major centers of population within reach that they currently know of and can establish diplomatic relations with.

Religion & Culture

Each kingdom has high religious autonomy. Worship of the traditional pantheon is commonplace, with each city having their own favoured god. The official state line is that all gods are true in their own way, though in practice the priests are encouraged to denounce worship of beings that incur the Emperor’s displeasure as worship of impostors. Although the reigning Emperor has been proclaimed a god, he has made no move to force worship of his own divinity in his dominion – even so, his cult is gaining popularity in the kingdoms of Babylonia and Egypt, with the Emperor being elevated to a status of prominence particularly in the old Sumerian pantheon.

The people of the empire receive schooling in their own languages and most of them spend their lives immersed in their own culture. Since the establishment of the empire, the policies implemented have led its citizens to begin identifying more with the kingdom rather than their cities or tribes, but the lack of an official lingua franca or any uniting force beyond that of the Emperor himself has hindered the formation of a larger identity amongst its people.


Trade thrives far and wide throughout the empire, thanks to its established network of roads. Merchants are encouraged but regulated by a system of laws to prevent cheating and establish standardized measurements for goods. The merchants of the empire are some of the best in the world thanks to the education that the state has mandated, but as most trade cities are within the empire now, they usually compete against each other, with lines being drawn depending on the kingdom they are affiliated to. Currency remains separate between the kingdoms. An established trade route has emerged between the northern lands and the Indus Valley over the past decade, and every day countless goods flow along these routes, feeding the empire’s growth.


The military of the empire is generally maintained at a standing number of 35,000 ready for battle, whose service is regularly rotated with reserves of another 30,000 men that are stationed within cities and camps throughout the empire. They have 2000 chariots, each able to carry 3 men, and 7,000 archers. The remaining forces constitute of infantry. The breakdown of the standing forces contributed by each kingdom is as follows: Egypt – 9000, Babylon – 12,000, with half of that being Assyrian, Hittite – 11,000, Greece – 3000.

Despite their disparate origins, the Emperor has the right to take command of all soldiers in the field and override the authority of each of the kings and their generals. Given the number of occasions on which this has happened and led to the saving of their lives in battle, the military have become distinct from the citizenry in that they have ceased to see themselves as Egyptian or Greek soldiers, and instead think of themselves as soldiers of the Emperor. Most in the military have taken the Emperor as their patron god, and it is there that his cult has the most influence.

The military has been divided into four armies according to their sphere of operations.

The North Army consists of mainly Hittite and Assyrian soldiers and total about 8000 strong. They are led by the Assyrian Nashiram and are stationed in the Anatolian plains.

The South Army is made up of Egyptian and Babylonian soldiers, numbering about 8000 men under the veteran Heroptah’s command. They are based in Egypt.

The East Army, commanded by Dakuri, are stationed to the east of Babylon, watching its borders with the empire’s former holdings in the Indus. They have about 8000 soldiers, a mix of mostly Babylonian and Assyrian.

The West Army garrisons the fortifications around the Olympus rift. The recent incursion has led to an increase in the number of troops in the West Army, and it is currently the largest army with 11,000 men, with a good mix of soldiers from all kingdoms. It is led by Gursu, son of Gudersu, who had distinguished himself greatly during the incursion and been promoted to high rank for numerous, important displays of bravery and thinking.

Chapter 6.9: Miasma Maze

Chapter 6.9: Miasma Maze

Even for you, it was a hazardous expedition. Visibility was near non-existent and the air was suffocating under the mask you wore to filter the miasma. Despite the darkness within the miasma, there were strange flashing lights that appeared and disappeared like wisps as you approached. You soon learnt that sometimes these lights weren’t just lights, but the glowing patterns on the skin of a Terasphagos. It became so that the presence of each light was checked with caution, which slowed down the expedition even further.
Your first trip in lasted only a few hours. Despite the filter, the presence of the miasma and the flashing lights induced headaches and discomfort. You were not too affected, but your men were. Unfortunately, within the miasma there was a distinct lack of landmarks by which you could mark your way. Here and there you seemed to see huge structures towering over you through the dark fog and carved walls that flickered in the dim torch light, but they invariably vanished when you retraced your steps.

The subsequent expeditions fared better, but barely so. Though you were able to defend most of your men from the Terasphagos, and even with Artemis’s help with pathfinding, mapping and navigation of the area covered by the miasma was near impossible. Progress was so slow that even after three years, you had only managed to map a route that was at most one-tenth of the way to the center of Olympus, where you assumed the rift was likeliest to be located. The rubble and frequent monster attacks did not help, and letting a safety-line stretch too far ran the risk of having it cut by sharp rocks or Terasphagos. You began placing markers to track your path, but some of them would go missing in between expeditions, once almost causing a mistake that would have led you and your men off a cliff.

Worst of all, in the years since the major incursion, the miasma had begun to grow slowly, creeping over a larger and larger area. It was estimated that within a hundred years, it would have covered the lands which you were pushed back from during the Terasphagos assault. You had made slow progress establishing safe areas within the wasteland, at the cost of much resources and lives, but if the miasma engulfs those areas then they would have been wasted.

A. More men are needed for the mapping process. You have no time – isn’t this what you established the Empire for? You send more men into the miasma, having them map out a path to the rift for you with sheer numbers. Closing the rift is all that matters.

B. The miasma is moving slowly enough that it shouldn’t pose a risk for a long time to come. You cannot be lulled into making a rash decision based on this. You continue with the current way of mapping the miasma. Maybe there’ll be some new discovery that will help you find your way within.


Outside of Olympus, your empire continued to thrive. The forges were an instant boon to your own economy. Though the prices they charged were still exorbitant, they were considerably lower than what it would have cost to purchase steel items directly from the north. In just a few years, some of your smiths and craftsmen had begun to produce iron-ware exclusively. They were not anywhere near the quality of northern steel, but the presence of the forges in your major cities inspired them to try to catch up, and they began devoting their time to iron instead of bronze. The society that manned the forges remained as secretive as before. Only the masters and initiates of the forge were allowed within their premises, which were guarded like a hawk by tall northern warriors around the clock, bedecked in steel weapons and armour, and they only took on initiates from people of their own kind. The watchers would need to extend their network further into the north before they could succeed, but even there they had begun to met with the same problems that plagued the Gieloth infiltration. Here a document, there a spoken word, and their information network would mysteriously crumble, and they would have to rebuild from scratch.

As time passed, mortals died…

Nabuchasar and Akilhotep both passed within a year of each other. To the thrones came their children, Nabuchasar’s eldest, Nabukudzur, and Akilhotep’s youngest, Akilptah. They had barely begun settling on their thrones when they came to you with a proposal: a palace and capital befitting your status, and consorts from each kingdom to warm your bed. Of course, you could already knew that Nabukudzur was the brains behind this idea, and he just wanted a find a way to get you out of his palace, where you had been staying for many, many decades. You decided to call up a meeting of the kings and queen of the empire to discuss the issue. Athena seemed indifferent to the idea, but reminded you quietly that unless you had a taste for the terror twins, the only one she could offer as a consort was Artemis, and Artemis had pledged eternal celibacy. There were no other Greek ‘royals’, but she stated that Greece would accept not having a representative consort in your quarters. The other kings had sisters and nieces that would suit the purpose.

A. You accept the offer of the new capital (free-form proposal: go look at the map and figure out where to put it and what to name it).

B. You reject the offer of the new capital. It’s fun squatting in Babylon.

C. You offer to squat at the capitals of each of the kingdoms in rotation.


A. You accept the proposal as is: a consort from every kingdom except Greece.

B. You attempt to make Greece provide a consort. (1. Athena, 2. Artemis, 3. Twins)

C. You have other ideas in mind regarding marriage (insert proposal here).

D. This is all a silly distraction, you refuse to get any consorts of the sort. Who knows what shenanigans and politics they might attempt to play in court.

Chapter 6.10: Lodestone and the Rift

My thanks to TOME for the counting.


Chapter 6.10: Lodestone and the Rift

Construction of the new capital – named by your scholars in another astonishing lack of creative thinking as Egalme in the old Akkadian language – proceeded smoothly, as the workmen expanded on the bustling town that had already sprung up there a few years after the roads were built. Though it produced little goods of its own, the town was sited at the nexus for several major trade routes throughout the empire and beyond. Egalme became a splendid city over the decades, serving as the center for administration and trade throughout the empire. As you had accepted their proposal, both Nabukudzur and Akilptah were pleased. Despite that, you stayed above whatever politics they had planned – not a hard thing to do with your network of informants – and they soon gave up their attempts to manipulate you via the consorts you had taken. As for the consorts, no fruit was born of your unions, though it was not for lack of trying.

In the meantime, Terasphagos activity continued to decrease as the empire neared its fiftieth year in existence. Unfortunately, the drop in their activity seemed to coincide with an increase in the expansion of the miasma. The rate at which it grew became faster as the years went by, and mapping efforts were greatly hindered. Even with the use of the filters, normal humans could not stay in the miasma for long. There had been no way to contain the miasma – it and the Terasphagos were entirely alien to the immortals and even the Gieloth, who had no record of anything like it in their many thousand years of wandering.

Soon after the empire turned fifty, Terasphagos raids began to increase again. Interestingly, your scholars found that this corresponded to a decline in a rate of the miasma’s expansion. It was clear that there was a pattern related to the miasma and Terasphagos activity. You stepped up the patrols again in response. In the next five years, the records were conclusive enough that Sekhenun warned you of the possibility of another incursion in twenty years’ time. Though it was still a long way to come, preparations began early. You strengthened your fortifications. Under your orders, priests began preaching of the danger of these ravenous monsters, reminding them that it was only through your divine grace and the arms of their fellow citizens that the empire was being kept safe. It appears that your men might have done too good a job of keeping the monsters at bay, as outside of Greece, few were concerned. Many of the populace had never seen one with their own eyes, and even those that had seen the displays of individual Terasphagos saw nothing more than a strange if aggressive animal that posed no threat under the watchful eyes of a dozen armed soldiers. Taken away from the miasma for a long time, the Terasphagos would weaken and eventually die, and it was only these that you could show in an attempt to demonstrate that the threat was real.

In the seventieth year of your rule, the northerners gave you an additional gift that year to commemorate your long partnership together. They had recently discovered iron that could attract other iron, a simple curiosity. Calling it lodestone, they had made two small pendants of it, and presented it to you. You immediately sent one of it for study. Barely a month later, one of your brighter scholars came to you and showed how it pointed always north, if left to hang freely in a horizontal position. The northerners had seemed unaware of its uses yet, instead treating it as a toy. You sent scouts out to search for areas where you could get more. This was just what you needed – the ability to orient yourself within the miasma.

They found a large deposit in a particularly dangerous location; one of the last strips of contested land between the miasma and your reclaimed territory, around Olympus. Terasphagos activity had been severe in the past few years, with bands of thousands roaming the area at any given time. They assaulted your fortifications in numbers that were less than the tens of thousands that had streamed out of the miasma nearly fifty years before, but still greater than any Terasphagos horde that the empire had ever recorded. Mapping activity had all but stopped, nearly a third of the way to the center of Olympus, as without a method of orientation there were too many roaming Terasphagos for safety lines and markers to do any good.


A. Sekhenun’s predicted time of incursion is just five years away. You have no time to lose – you have your own pendant fashioned into a form suitable for navigation, and venture into the miasma without the support of your army. The rift had to be found, even if you did not know how to close it.

B. You have your men fight to establish a base where the lodestone could be obtained. Securing a supply quickly would allow your men to keep their bearings almost everywhere. This would help greatly should there be a need to push the coming incursion back into the miasma.

C. You have your men continue to search for other places where you could get a supply of lodestone. There is no hurry – you will hold against the incoming incursion. If the theory holds true, as long as you manage to hold out, their activity would drop afterwards, allowing you to navigate in greater safety.

D. You order purchases of lodestone from the northerners, though they will certainly be curious about your sudden need for it. This will take time, but the supplies should arrive before the Terasphagos swarm from the rift in greater numbers.

Chapter 6.11: The Second Terasphagos Incursion

A - 1
B - 2
D - 6


Chapter 6.10: The Second Terasphagos Incursion

Kastor shivered as he waited out in the freezing weather. He hated the north.

The sacred forges were the only places where ore of all sorts could be traded in Skane; the priest-smiths wielded a strong and jealous grip on their secrets in metalworking, always seeking to gather knowledge but rarely, if ever, letting it go. The Emperor had decreed the import of large quantities of lodestone, ostensibly for decoration. Few knew the true reason, but as one of his watchers, Kastor had been privy to the fact that it was related to navigation of accursed Olympus - now there was a place he'd not rather be than in the north. So here he was, making good use of one of his old merchant personas, negotiating a bargain from the northerners. It had been a taxing deal.

'We do not have enough in stock', 'it would be hard to find a proper container for what we do have', 'what did you need such large quantities for', and 'I didn't know your Emperor was into fashion and toys, always struck me as a serious chap'; all of these excuses and questions appeared, and as they grew more and more pointed, Kastor had to begin getting creative in answering the local priest of the forge, Frode. Thankfully, as he found himself getting tongue-tied, Frode stopped asking more questions and quoted an extremely low - in Kastor's own estimates - price for the lodestone that he could sell. He snapped it up immediately.

Now he was waiting for the lodestone to be carried out, and in the cold to boot. He couldn't wait to get the caravans going so that he could enjoy the warm air and sunshine of his homeland... well, what was left of it that wasn't eaten by the Terasphagos anyway. Frode appeared just at that very moment, his apprentices bringing out a small box filled with the iron he needed.

"The payment has been received, and here is your purchase, Master Kastor." The priest-smith bowed, and shooed his apprentices to get back to work. As he turned to leave himself, he said, in an slightly pleased tone, "Float a shard on a small vessel of water. That should suit your emperor's purposes. Tying it to a string is... well... primitive." He was gone, the gate to the forge closing shut behind him, before Kastor could say another word.


Without a doubt, the lodestone helped. The quantities you received were too small to provide every soldier with one, but you had organized them into basic groups of ten, and every leader of those ten groups were provided with one. The lodestone helped with navigation not only within the miasma, but also wherever they went. The mapping effort of Olympus started up again in earnest, but due to the increased Terasphagos activity, there were delays everywhere.

Within a year, the mapping stopped again, as the scouts began suffering casualties. You continued to do so yourself, together with Artemis and Edem - the Terasphagos were strong, but not strong enough to pose too much danger to you - but soon even you had to take a rest, and you returned to your palace. Progress was slow but good; if you did not have the incursion to worry about, you could probably complete it by the next year.

It was at this time that the Second Incursion happened. The armies were more prepared than they had been in the previous attack, but the numbers of the Terasphagos this time were bigger. Much bigger. The miasma prevented your forces from accurately gauging their numbers, but reports were that the first day saw at least a thousand Terasphagos dead, and for each one they defeated, a hundred more took their place. It was only due to luck that they had converged on the strongest point of your defenses, Fort Aspis. Still, with the number of Terasphagos rampaging mindlessly, even your reinforced fortifications would not hold for long, and even with 70,000 soldiers in Greece, you did not have enough men to hold every location along the line. The miasma had expanded to such an extent that you could not tell where they would strike from; you could only hope your men moved swiftly to respond to the threat if they diverted their attentions from Fort Aspis. Still, you had to be prepared for the eventuality of the Terasphagos breaking through at a point in your defenses.

It was really unfortunate that you had just received word of one of your consort's pregnancy - Fukayna, a great great granddaughter of Iltani, who had inherited the dark Egyptian hair and the fair skin of the Gutians - just as you were about to leave to defend against the Terasphagos.


A. You attempt to fight through the hordes of Terasphagos and reach the rift. You feel that you have just about mastered your piece of Vajra, and surely you will be able to do something about it once you get there. Who knows how many Terasphagos are here in this incursion - every day you delay might only make things worse.

B. You rally a defense, attempting to hold out with a strategy similar to the previous one you employed, except on a wider scale - defend, respond, push back. If they retreated once, they'll retreat again. They might have more Terasphagos now, but you have more men too, better trained and equipped. It is not a lost cause.

C. There is no hope. FLEE! FLEE FOR YOUR LIVES!


1. If the Terasphagos manage to defeat your army, the spread of the miasma now means that every part of Greece north of Peloponnesus was in danger. You begin relocating the Greeks down south; it would be too late to prevent a slaughter should the monsters break through and be unleashed on the populace.

2. Relocation shows a distinct lack of confidence in the strength of your army to hold the line, and might invite talk of weakness. They can go if they want, but you will not ask them to leave their land, as they have put their trust in you to defend the walls around Olympus.

Chapter 6.12: Son of a Breach

A2 - 2
B1 - 8
B2 - 5


Chapter 6.12: Son of a Breach

"Iason, we are leaving!"

The bastards could climb. Akakios wouldn't have thought it possible, but he saw it with his own eyes; the hound forms, the kon, clawing their way up as if their feet were stuck to the wall.. All the Emperor's arrows wouldn't have stopped them - the Emperor didn't have that many arrows. The curly-haired young warrior under his charge continued hurling rocks down at the Terasphagos, ignoring his shouts.


"Just a bit more, Akakios! The Emperor is still down there!"

"The Emperor is a god, you fool, and he is down there so that you can escape with your sorry hide intact. Now move it!"

As Akakios went to grab Iason by the shoulder, the skies suddenly turned dark. A large streak of lightning crashed down mere meters from there, where the Terasphagos had been gathering under the wall. The thick smell of charred flesh filled the air.

"Holy Emperor..."

As the smoke cleared, they saw a young man, holding one fist aloft. In it a three-pronged scepter glowed a bright blue, crackling with energy. An ornate cloak a colour of deepest purple that could only belong to royalty billowed behind him, stained with the dirt of battle. His eyes turned to meet Akakios's - those ageless orbs appeared to reflect his own soul, laying bare all his deeds and misdeeds to the world. Akakios involuntarily bowed his head, a nervous grin spreading over his lips. He had been one of the lucky few with the opportunity to see the Emperor in battle more than once, and despite that, every time it made his heart jump with a thrill. He could understand how Iason would be tempted to stay, but that would not be what the Emperor wanted. Looking at his eyes, Akakios knew. His fingers tightened on Iason's shoulder.

"Iason. We are leaving."

His charge could only nod wordlessly as he was pulled from the wall, his sight still fixed on that shining figure holding off the endless horde.


The Terasphagos had turned out to be more than your soldiers could handle. It was not a matter of armament, discipline, or the will to fight. Your men had plenty of that. The problem was much simpler - numbers. You just didn't have enough men. In the first week, a thousand men died. In the second, five thousand. By the end of the first month, ten thousand of your men had been lost along the walls, and the previous Terasphagos incursion had lasted for nearly six months. For every ten Terasphagos that fell to the coordination and tactics of your men, one of your own would be killed. For every Terasphagos that fell to the tenacity and strength of your men, a hundred more would appear. For every hundred Terasphagos that you personally slew, a thousand more showed up. You would normally not tire by merely chopping and dicing your way through the swarm, but even you would be overwhelmed by their sheer mass eventually if you did not do something more drastic.

The winds blew strongly, whipping your cloak around you. More Terasphagos appeared from the miasma, replacing those you had roasted.

Ean, duck.

You ignore the voice. A wave of fire ripples outwards from behind you, scorching the first row of the monsters. Despite the raging firestorm, you remain unsinged. Edem lands by your side, a wry look on his face.

"I told you to duck."


"Well... point taken. Time to leave, Emperor?"

"You know, I've been wondering. Is this a talent of the Gieloth? She does the same when she addresses me... it's annoying, even after some seventy years."

"I have no idea what you are talking about. I always address you with the utmost respect, Emperor."

"Ha, well... there's no time for this argument. It's time to leave."

The storm you had called grew stronger. With Edem's help, you telekinetically boosted yourself over the wall. The Terasphagos had begun to swarm over the top of it. At the same time, your storm unleashed its full fury. Lightning began striking indiscriminately into the mass of Terasphagos. They shrieked as they fell, but there was always more to come.

Suddenly, you feel your knees buckle as your strength gives way for just a bit, the fatigue hitting you like a sack of bricks.

"The Vajra?" Edem looks at you, entirely unconcerned.

"Yeah. It's not something I can exert myself with. I can use all of its functions, but they take quite a bit out of me if I play with the more powerful bits."

Your storm would occupy the Terasphagos for a while, preventing them from passing this way. As the rain began to fall, you shake off the tiredness and will your leaden limbs back to life. The Terasphagos had amassed a number that no one ever had any reason to count to. At numerous points they had breached the fortifications and rampaged across the countryside in hordes tens of thousands strong - you could not defend every single part of the wall, and neither could your immortal and Gieloth allies. It would not be long before you were forced to retreat the army or risk having what was left of it entirely encircled by the Terasphagos.

Luckily, you had already evacuated the populace down south, past Korinthos. This saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. They would be safe there, and even now Athena was overseeing the construction of the strongest wall the empire had ever seen to secure the land route to the Peloponessus peninsula. Although you would have liked to have her fighting here, her presence was sorely needed amongst the Greek civilians. They now adore their goddess whole-heartedly, certainly more than they adored you, who they merely respect and trust. Athena would be busy showing herself and ensuring that they felt safe. After all, having panic rise up amongst the citizenry behind your lines would surely do wonders for troop morale and logistics, you thought acidly.

And Sekhenun had told you Fukayna was expecting a son. She seemed to enjoy telling you immediately instead of not letting you worry about it until you finished with the incursion.

"Sadistic bitch," you mutter.

"I know who you mean," Edem grins.

A. The imperial army will fight on, no matter how many enemies there are to kill. Never give up, never surrender! Besides, retreating now might inflict even more casualties on your men as they make their way down south.

B. The walls will not hold. It is time to give up the majority of Greece for lost and retreat the army back to Korinthos. The Terasphagos should not reach that far, given the spread of the miasma.

1. The rift really concerns you. You have no idea how long this incursion will last, or how many Terasphagos will appear, or if your assumptions about their operational distance will hold true. You need to get to that rift now and find a way to close it, with all the resources you have available to you.

2. You will not take the risk of wandering into the miasma at this point in time. Any exploration will be held off until the incursion blows over.

Chapter 6.13: The Great Wall of Korinthos

A1 - 6
B2 - 10

Finally, a new page, and a new update.


Chapter 6.13: The Great Wall of Korinthos

Daedacles peered up at the wall, and then back again at his scroll.

"Are you sure you got that right, Atmose? The height of fifty men? Here it says five."

The Egyptian scholar in charge of overseeing this particular part of the wall shrugged. "Five, fifty, numbers are imaginary, dear Daedacles. It doesn't matter."

"It bloody well matters when you have my men piling up rocks fifty men high!" spluttered the Greek engineer.

"Well, what's the difference?"

"The difference is that a wall that is the height of fifty men, though impressive, takes too long to build." The voice was a feminine one, quiet and clear. The owner of the voice stepped in front of them, dressed in a resplendent gown with an ornate breastplate and helmet in the Greek style.

Daedacles bowed immediately. "My Lady Athena." Atmose looked indifferent, but bowed his head too in recognition of her status.

"Atmose, even now, the Emperor and the army fight to get back to our side. It is not time for foolish games."

The Egyptian's eyes narrowed, and in an instant his carefree demeanour was no more.

"If I may, Lady Athena, the Terasphagos will not be stopped by a wall the height of merely five men. The defenses around Olympus were constructed at that level, and we all know what has happened to them now. The Emperor will surely agree with my initiative." argued Atmose.

"You are right, but we do not have time and resources enough to build a wall ten times that height."

"What if I told you that we could?"

Athena's eyebrows perked up under her helmet. "Enlighten me."


The maneuver was successfully executed. You held the rear guard, staving off the Terasphagos that tenaciously nipped at the heels of your retreating army. By the time you passed the gates of the walls still under construction, you had lost merely a few thousand, less than the worst case scenario that you had envisaged. The Greek mainland was mostly lost, but at least the Greeks themselves would survive, in Peloponessus.

There was something about the walls that didn't strike you as right, however... you ask Athena about it.

"Athena, how fares the construction?"

"It fares fairly. I suppose you've noticed it, Ean?"

The goddess of wisdom had stopped addressing you by your title some time back, though when exactly, you were not sure. You were also not sure whether this meant that she had lost respect for your office, or if she felt familiar enough with you to use a more casual approach. You wouldn't find out easily - it was slightly aggravating that, over the years spent together in close cooperation, the immortals and Gieloth had naturally developed mental defenses to stop each other from reading their mind telepathically unless they allowed it.

"It's... taller than it should be. How would the wall hold up with such a height?"

"One of your spi... scholars proposed a new method of constructing this wall. The reasoning appears sound, though I can't imagine that it is something we would've thought of ourselves."

"You mean that it could've originated from a voice?"

"Yes. The scholar, Atmose, is not host to them, however. I checked that personally. He learnt it during one of his little assignments to the north."

Assignments. The north was quickly becoming a very suspicious place - you wonder if you should check it out one of these days, as your own watchers haven't been able to gain any footholds for years. It looks like you would have to emphasize that your watchers know that initiative was important, but too much initiative was dangerous - this was the risk of letting them operate independently for too long, effective though it was. You make a note to reel them in a bit in the future. It also looks like Athena now knew about your network, if she didn't already before. As she stares at you, waiting for you to say something, you rack your head quickly and decide to break out a grin. "Congratulations."

Athena is puzzled. "Why?"

"You passed the test."

"What test?"

"You found my watchers. I mean, it did take several decades, but now I'm sure that if anything happens to me, everything will be fine in your hands." Saying that, you nod your head sagely, as if it was all to your expectations. That worked somewhat - the flustered Athena shakes her head. "I have no idea what you are babbling about. You are the Emperor, so stop playing games with me. The people need you to be serious right now."

"Well." You shrug.

"Well what?"

"Well, what should we do about the Gieloth over in the East?" Artemis interrupted, all of a sudden. You hadn't heard her approach.

"Have things gotten worse?" you ask. Artemis shakes her head.

"It's gotten better. In a way."

You can't help but sigh. It looks like things are never going to be simple. What happened to the good old days of just charging in the general direction your king pointed you in? Oh right, you were the king now. Artemis continued her report.

"The immortals and the Gieloth have a ceasefire. The Yellow Emperor apparently came to some sort of agreement with the Gieloth."

"That's awfully vague, even for you, Artemis," you complain. "What else do you know?"

"Nothing more. They refuse to tell me the details too, for some reason."

Ean, check the network.

You turn to look at Edem, his face scrunched up in worry. This was the first you had seen him like that. Following his suggestion, you tap into the Gieloth communications network. The moment you do that, there is a sudden, strong sense of isolation and loneliness within you, and a small desire to head east.

"I think I may know a bit more," Edem speaks up. "The call has been sent out."

You look at him, thinking that you know what he is going to say next.

"The Gieloth are going to form the Tree."


A. You remain in Greece to continue overseeing the defense against the Terasphagos and investigate the rift when the incursion subsides. Everything else is of secondary importance.

B. The Gieloth are up to something big - it looks like you should not delay your trip to the East. You do not know when the Terasphagos incursion will end, and so you will not wait for it to do so before you head off.

C. The northern kingdom has been offering you help, discreetly or otherwise. You decide to find out what exactly is going on there. The Terasphagos can be held at Korinthos, while the Gieloth in the East probably won't grow too fast even if they have started forming their tree.

1. You continue building your wall at a ludicrous height, according to techniques apparently taught by the north.

2. You no longer trust the north, after all of this skullduggery, even if it is apparently to help you. You stick with the original plan for the wall.

Chapter 6.14: Purple Rift

Chapter 6.14: Purple Rift

The incursion went on… and on… and on… until finally, nearly three years later, Terasphagos activity began dropping. Having waited out the worst of it, you went looking for the rift. As you got closer to it, you had to fight off more and more of the Terasphagos. Although their numbers had been greatly reduced, nearer to the rift the miasma was thicker and there were much more of them. It got to the point where you were unable to pitch camp and had to press on until you reached your target.

It was purple.

It was a purple, jagged hole, floating in front of you. You had been here for nearly five hours now, and it still looked weird. You could not see anything on the other side, and trying to go around it only made your head hurt as the hole appeared to turn to follow you.

“It’s no use. I can’t figure out any way to close it.”

Sekhenun, who had sailed over to join the expedition and observe the rift, shook her head and gave up.

“It’s gotten me closer to knowing how to make a portal of my own – basically, don’t do whatever Zeus did – but the principles are entirely different. I’m sorry. Other than getting at least one more piece of Vajra, I don’t think we can do anything about this right now.”

The hole shrieked as it cracked around the edges and began to widen. A Terasphagos clawed its way out, echoing the shriek. You cast an irritated glance at it and blast it with a bolt of lightning from Vajra. The mysterious weapon had been responding to the rift the moment you arrived, but you had restrained it from doing what it wanted to do; you didn’t know what it was going to do, and you weren’t about to let it do anything, if you could help it. It seems like you might have no choice, however…


A. You retreat from the rift. No point staying here when you can do nothing about it – at least you’ve identified its position. One day, when you have a way to close it, you can return.

B. You jump into the rift. Zeus and Marduk were at the center of the rift when it appeared, they might not have been thrown far. If you’re fortunate enough you might be able to gather the other two pieces quickly and close the rift that way.

C. Fuck it. You let Vajra do whatever it has been wanting to do.

Chapter 6.15: A Void Full of Balls

B - 8 (no rope majority)
C - 4
D - 1


Chapter 6.15: A Void Full of Balls

"Hm." Having made up your mind, you step closer to the rift. Someone grabs your arm - it was Sekhenun.

"What do you think you're doing, Ean?"

"Oh, nothing, just checking out the other side."

She barks a short, sharp laugh. "You really are insane. The only thing we know about the other side is that it is full of the Terasphagos, and that's really all we need to know. We'll find a way to close this eventually."

"Well, if it's full of those things, I'll just clear them out. It'll be good exercise."

"I'm telling you, don't go in there. Don't -"

You don't hear the rest of Sekhenun's plea, as you jump into the hole. It might be insane, but if it afforded you a way to close the rift by finding the two Vajra pieces, you'd do it. Sure, it's not like you know if those two pieces were nearby beyond the rift, or if Zeus was still holding on to them, or if there was anything beyond except endless waves of Terasphagos - the idea became more and more crazy as you thought about it, but you were already through, and your feet touch air.

At the same instant, a swarm of Terasphagos assault you from all sides before you've even gotten a chance to get your bearings. In one hand you whip your sword through the mass of slavering claws and teeth that surrounds you, in the other you throw bolts of brilliant blue lightning that immolates any Terasphagos it hits. Even so, their attack does not let up - here and there, they manage to break through your defenses and draw blood for their efforts. As you fight on, you notice something strange.

Firstly, you had thought the things attacking you were just bird-forms as they came from all directions, but it was not so - there were plenty of other types, including some things you have not seen back on your side of the rift before, moving effortlessly in all directions as if swimming through the air itself.

Secondly, your feet still had not touched ground.

It was impossible to fight properly while floating in nothing. With a shout, you exert a telekinetic burst that shoves away the Terasphagos surrounding you before they overwhelm your defenses. You notice that there is a featureless, white expanse stretching out beneath you, and you push yourself with your telekinesis in that direction. You land, skidding across the white ground. As you look up, you notice that the Terasphagos are circling in the air around the rift, but not coming after you. You take the chance to quickly survey your surroundings. You could feel that the miasma was present here, but it was nowhere near as thick as it was on your side. Visibility was mostly unimpeded. In the distance, there were many round, white spheres floating in the blood-red, cloudless sky. It was an ugly land. There was no sign of the other two pieces of Vajra, nor could you see any sign of any one else. Even Ares would have been a welcome sight here. The ground you were standing on was perfectly smooth and white, similar to the spheres in the distance. It was unmarked and stretched out almost as far as your eye could see, though there appeared to be a slight curve to the landscape.

You gulp. If that was the case...

At that moment, the land rises all around you, bulging and contorting into familiar shapes. The white skin of the land shapes itself, and as the skin melts away, fully-formed Terasphagos bud from the ground, snarling and shrieking. As you prepare to do battle, the ground suddenly shifts under your feet, and you find yourself falling. Down and up had no more meaning for you, as countless Terasphagos slammed into you, pushing you away from what you now knew to be a sphere that you had landed on. As you flew further and further away from the sphere, more of it came into view. There were more of these spheres all over this empty void, countless more, scattered in whatever direction you looked. You notice that the spheres were gathered near tiny little seams like the one you had entered from. Most of the seams appeared only transiently, forming and dissolving in the fabric of the void before the spheres could send any through, but on occasion, some developed into cracks, and it was towards these that the spheres gravitated. Out of the corner of your eye, a massive sphere, far bigger than the one you had been on, reaches a seam, and it begins to force its way through, creating a terrifying shriek as the red void cracked open to let it pass.

A low grumbling turns your attention back to the closest sphere, the one right in front of you. As you watch on, in horror, the featureless sphere gains features. A nose. A mouth. Two eyes. It was a face you had seen in the copper mirrors of your palace everyday - yours. The sphere morphed into a gigantic, white fascimile of your own head, perfectly identical in all ways except for its sheer size. The mouth cracked open, grinning, revealing nothing but darkness within. The skin bubbles again, as more and more Terasphagos begin appearing from it. As the lips move up and down, you realize it is trying to say something... it is trying to greet you. You grit your teeth. You had not felt it touch your mind - in fact it has no mental presence you can sense. How did it know your language? The Terasphagos that had pushed you away now surrounded you docilely, as if awaiting further orders.


A. The sphere has moved itself to be between you and the rift. You cannot sense the other two pieces of Vajra anywhere here - they might have been eaten, or they might be somewhere else. There is no other path you want to take - you charge the sphere, fighting to get back to your own world.

B. Another seam had just formed behind you. It would be suicidal to fight through endless waves of Terasphagos - you were already bloody and bruised just from the initial attack, and the sphere itself might have other powers that it has not shown yet. Getting ripped to pieces here would serve no purpose. You jump through the seam before it disappears, no matter where it leads you.

C. You attempt sphere diplomacy.

Chapter 6.16: Sphere Diplomacy

A - 3
B - 2
C - 8


Chapter 6.16: Sphere Diplomacy

The sphere enunciated its greeting slowly, carefully, as if pronouncing it for the first time. You return the greeting tentatively, hoping that it was not hostile. Behind you, a transient seam vanishes, folding back into the sky - in a matter of seconds, it was as if it was never there.

"Who are you?"

"WHO?" it asks in return. Its voice was low and guttural, and slow, yet there was a certain energy to it that made it sound perpetually excited.

You try to point at the rift behind it, though you couldn't see it, explaining who you are. "I'm from beyond that portal. Can we talk?"

"TALK... WHY?"

"I just want to ask why you are sending these things across the rift." You gesture at the Terasphagos surrounding you. Maybe if you could talk with it, it would stop attempting to invade your world. The sphere nods maniacally and grins, its face - your face - twisting in disturbing fashion.

"PLAY? WHY? WHY!" exclaims the sphere, still nodding. As it got more excited, it began drawing closer to you. You involuntarily backed away... and realized that somehow, without your knowing it, two other spheres had appeared around you. They spin around for a few seconds, before a low rumbling starts, transforming their smooth white surfaces into your own grinning face. "PLAY? WHY? YES. YES!" the spheres grin.

"Play? I don't understand. What do you mean?" you ask. This was turning out to be extremely weird. You just hoped that things wouldn't get weirder. The first sphere that had spoken to you stopped and rotated slowly for a while. When it stopped, you saw a familiar shape upon its head. Things just got weirder.


It was the imperial palace back in Ankidu. You feel a chill creep down your spine - how did these things know about it? You had not sensed them touching your mind.

"HOME. PLAY." said the first sphere.

"YES. HOME. PLAY. COME. TALK." chimed in the other spheres.

The fascimile of the imperial palace detached from the sphere and began floating towards you. It wasn't as big as the real thing, but it was still a large structure. As it approaches you, the white doors open. It is too dark for you to see what is inside.

"COME. SIT. PLAY. TALK." said the spheres.

It looks like they were inviting you in.


A. This is far too risky. There is no way you are going to play along with these spheres. You pretend to go towards the doors, but then try to rush towards the rift. Maybe you could still make it.

B. There seems to be no other way out, not with three spheres surrounding you. You enter the fake palace that the sphere has created. You'll just have to be prepared for whatever is inside, and hope it's not a trap.

Chapter 6.17: Playtime



Chapter 6.17: Playtime

Inside the palace, the corridors and walls were lit up as if it were day, instead of whatever passed for time in the gods-forsaken place you were in. The bricks looked like bricks, but that was where the similarities ended. Everything was white. They appeared to be rough, but as you stretched your hand closer to touch it, they smoothed out. Taking great care not to slip, you make your way through the familiar passages of your own palace. As you proceed, the tapestries begin to take on colour, and the textures stop turning smooth as you approach. Soon, the imitation was near perfect. You hear the sphere say something.




You stop in front of your bedroom - the voices were coming from within. You lay your hand on the door and push it open, slowly. What greeted your eyes wasn't your bedroom after all, but a place that you had not seen in hundreds of years. It had been your home for ten years, and then you had exchanged it for Sargon's barracks. A gaggle of children surround you excitedly, pulling at your clothes.

"Ean! It's Ean! He's back!"

"What did you bring us today? Did you win? You showed them, right?"

"Food! Ean's bringing food!"

Memories came rushing back into your head. The faces were familiar, but a frown darkened your face as you realize you can no longer remember their names. The orphans you ran with back in Kish are long dead, murdered and violated even before you joined Sargon. But such was the way of the world for the powerless, wasn't it?

"Ean! Let's play!"

A small child with a crooked smile giggles as she throws a ball at you. Without thinking, you catch it and toss it back at her. The action feels familiar. What was her name? You only know she clung to you the most, and that before you left, you gave her rapist a slow, slow death.

"But did you, really? Or is that just a revenge fantasy of yours?"

You turn your head and see another girl looking at you. She was more grown up than the others, but only slightly. Her... you remembered. Dark hair, cut short. Skinny. Big, bright eyes that she had always been proud of. You had agreed it was her best asset - her only asset, and she had pushed you into a ditch. The last time you saw those eyes they had been dug out. You open your mouth to call out her name, but only a strangled noise escapes your throat. You don't recall her name either. You remember everything you did together. Everything.

Everything but her name.

"How long has it been since you remembered me?" smiles the girl. You remember that smile.

"Maybe a few hundred years?" You offer a weak smile in return, feeling slightly guilty.

"Only slightly? That's sad. You threw us away and went to live a life of luxury, Emperor. Pretty good for a boy from the street who keeps getting into trouble that I get him out of, but a bit ungrateful don't you think?" She put her hands on her hips, glaring at you. You remember that pose.

"You were all... dead. I took revenge for you. The one that... I killed him myself. He suffered."

"Did you really? Or did you just spend the nights fantasizing of what you would do if you found them until you were convinced you actually did do the deed, and were satisfied? You did, didn't you?"

"I... no. I did do it. I remember." You do remember the blood... you think. You also remember that this is not real. They were all fakes. Creations of the weirdest thing you have ever seen, and you have seen many.

"Well, if you say so." the girl shrugs. "Let's play a game."

"Sure," you grin, finding your composure again. "What do you want to play?"

"I'll ask you to do something. If you do it, you win. If you don't, you lose. Simple."

"That's more of a threat, not a game."

"Oh, when have you started being so nit-picky and disobedient, Ean?"

"I grew up. Adults are bad." you chuckle. "What happens if I win... what happens if I lose?"

"If you win, you get to go home. If you lose, you get to go home."

"What's the difference then?"

"Mm... I don't know! That's the fun of it!" She giggles.

You sigh. It wasn't as if you had any other choice but to play along. You nod. "Shall we start the game then?"

She claps her hands with a bright smile on her face, and all the kids gather around her. Five... seven... eight children, in total. There was the cry-baby boy that was always shy around you. Behind him, the smartest kid of your gang, who had learnt how to read and write and count even though he was much younger than you.

"Ean!" shouts the girl, an excited, happy look on her face. She spreads her arms. "Kill us." You take a step back, surprised at the demand. "What's the matter? It should be easy. Draw that sword of yours." She points at Anbar-Shi. "Kill us. It should be easy. You don't even remember my name, right? We're just unwanted things from the past. We're fakes. Cut us down. Slice us up." Her smile twists, growing wicked. "Eat me, if that pleases you."

You laugh nervously. "You're too young to be saying things like that."

"This is the game. Kill us."

"Kill us! Kill us!" echoes the children. Your hand closes over Anbar-Shi's hilt. It pulses warmly, comfortingly, in the dirty little room that was full of warmth when you came in, but now seemed so very cold.


A. You do it.

B. You don't.

Chapter 6.18: Home is Where the Heart is http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?posts/2331315

Interlude: Escape

Interlude: Escape

How many cycles did you endure?



There were cycles in which you watched as they were killed, and you did not lift a finger to save them.

There were cycles in which they killed you, and you did not lift a finger to save yourself.

You clung to only one thought. "Wait."

You waited.


The ground shook as you opened your eyes again. This time there were no friends to greet you, no family to mock you. Your hunger-sharpened senses detected, from a great distance, a presence akin to one you had only felt once before, near the peak of Olympus. At last, they were here. Were they on a routine trip? Were they attracted here by the piece of Vajra?

You did not know why exactly, but you knew what to do. For countless cycles you had been gathering your strength, meditating and conserving energy, all for the day when the sphere was distracted from its games with you. You hold Vajra out in front of you, stained dark with the blood of your countless deaths. At the end of every game, everything you had was always returned to you - even your clothes, though they were ragged pieces about to fall apart by now. You suppose it was part of the game.

Vajra flares to life. Immediately, your surroundings begin to dissolve into uniform whiteness, the sphere noticing the oddity within. "Too late," you grin, and you put all of your power into Vajra. A massive blue spear of electricity roars out from the outstretched artifact, melting through the sphere. Gritting your teeth, you sustain it until you feel the last of the resistance fall away as the lance thrusts out into the void. You fall to the ground, spent. The ground shook violently as the sphere attempts to mend itself, but something was assaulting it from the outside. For the first time, you are able to pick up an emotion from the sphere itself. Panic.

A glaring white light shines in from the hole that you have made, but despite the brightness, you slip away into darkness.


"It is a pleasure to meet you at last. My colleagues have told me plenty about you."

The male voice speaks to you in fluent Akkadian, his accent natural. When you open your eyes next, you are sitting in a garden. You are not surprised. A man sits across you, one leg crossed neatly over the other. He had a thin, hard face, with a pencil thin moustache and sparse black hair that was swept back from his forehead and somehow kept there without the use of any instruments. A circular, flat piece of glass sits on one eye, and he raises the immaculately kept eyebrow above it.

"Why are you looking at my hair?"

"It's... thin."

"In the mood for jokes, I see. No matter. I believe you are the specimen that calls yourself Ean, are you not?"

You nod. "You must be a friend of Zeus."

"Not exactly. He was in some ways, my superior. We have... had... a working relationship, but that is no concern of yours." He raises a gloved hand - in it you see the piece of Vajra that you had. You instantly realize that you no longer had any connection to it. It had been ripped away, unsettling your powers, but doing no major harm to your body. The man continues, as he snaps his fingers and Vajra vanishes into thin air. "We thank you for bringing this piece back to us. It might be a mere bauble in the greater scheme of things, but it is a very costly bauble. As a reward, you may have tea."

"What is tea?"

"The discovery has not been made yet? How primitive. Very well, enlighten yourself."

Two cups appear on the table in front of you. Within there was a steaming, clear brown liquid.

"I hope you like it black."

You are about to say that it wasn't black, but you shake your head. Evidently you were still not free of strange things happening to you.

"The tea can wait." As you say that, the cup disappears. "You saved me from the sphere, didn't you? What are those things?"

"Ah, curiosity. Those 'things', as you put it, are protrusions of higher beings from a realm above this one. Think of them as their fingers, poking, sensing, touching, learning. You were but a curiosity to them - granted, you are a unique aberration that interests even us - and your entry certainly made them even more curious about the world you came from." says the man nonchalantly, as he raises the cup to his lips lightly and sips the tea within. Before you can say anything else, he gives you a smile. "Do not worry, your world is still intact. After some observation, it has now been given the designation of a test world. Hopes are high, especially with the legacy you had left behind."

You narrow your eyes. "That sounds too good to be true."

"It's not. We expect results from test worlds. If they do not meet our exacting standards, they will also be disposed of."

"What results are these? What do you expect from us?"

"Well, there's no harm in letting you know. It's simple. There are many other test worlds in your reality. As your technology grows, you will encounter them, sooner or later, and there will be a clash of civilizations. The eventual victor, out of the countless test worlds, will be admitted to the Gate, and there we will ask them what they have learnt from their experience." After a pause, he adds, "Of course, there will be a reward: we will grant one wish of the victor. Any wish, as long as it is within our reach, and as you well know, our reach is long indeed."

"Your reach isn't that long in my world, it seems. As far as I know, you were locked out by some tentacles."

"So you know of the Gieloth damaging the system," he chuckles. "A temporary setback. By the time a victor emerges from your reality, it will have been long fixed. In fact, by providing us with the piece of Vajra, you have only sped up the timeline. I must thank you for that."

"Ah, this is all crazy. Give me some of that tea." you complain. Since you were here, you might as well taste the fruits of his hospitality.


The cup reappears again, and this time you drink it. It had a light, slightly sweet taste, with an underlying smokiness.

"Oh... This is good."

The man beams. "I'm glad you like it. Now, what to do with you... we would like to see what you can do with the world you are from, but unfortunately, your tentacled friends damaged the system. We can't access it directly just yet, not without going through the rift that my brilliant friend created, and even we do not want to spend more time in that particular place than necessary. It is out of the way anyway. I'm afraid I will have to drop you on one of our more accessible test worlds. You can always make your way back from there, if you find out how."

"I thought I was a unique aberration. Should you be dumping such a unique specimen anywhere?"

"You are unique, but that also means that your interactions wherever we put you should be unique and enlightening. Some advocated putting a new set of voices inside you, but I personally think it's a waste of time. You'd probably just eat them," he winked. "Alternatively, you can come back with me to our home, where we will find a way to put you to use. It might not be a pleasant experience, I warn you. Finally, we dump you back where we found you. If you're quick enough, you might be able to get back without attracting the attention of any of the things in there, I suppose. You would have to be very quick."

He chuckles, and you ponder your options.


A. You head to one of the test worlds that the Master is offering.

B. You return to the Master's homelands.

C. You go back into the void.

Chapter Seven: Pretenders to the Empire

Chapter 7.1: Prelude to a Storm

Chapter 7.1: Prelude to a Storm

The three thousand year old history of the Shinar Empire has been one fraught with conflict and bloodshed. Founded by the mythical figure Ean as a union of the great Egyptian and Babylonian kingdoms, the Empire saw a great period of early growth which would set its direction for the centuries to come. The laws and policies set down during the Ancient Era of the Empire would endure, far longer than those of any other of its contemporary societies. The Empire's greatest rivals were the Skane in the North and the reclusive Concordiat in the East, ancient kingdoms that predated the Empire itself. The Skane kingdom, however, mysteriously collapsed in 750 A.C., allowing the Empire a free rein to expand over the northern lands. A puppet king of their choosing was installed to rule over the Skane, as it was with the other kingdoms that made up the Shinar Empire. The various kingdoms that pay homage to the Shinari have always been fractious. The hereditary kings that ostensibly rule their lands are quarrelsome at best, and many times in its history the Empire has been beset by civil war as the kings fought to put an Emperor that would favour them, and not their rivals, on the throne in Ankida. Although the lands would splinter, the one unchanging constant is the imperial family, who kept the Empire together by the sheer inertia of tradition. The head of the family was, of course, the Emperor of the Shinar. He claimed a consort from each kingdom of the empire, eight in total. In practice the consorts are equal in stature, though of course each Emperor had his own favourite, and the political jockeying in this inner court rivaled that of the kings and ministers in the throne room. Factions and loyalties shifted constantly, as they attempted to gain the Emperor's favour.

At the close of the third millenium of the Empire's existence, the climate cooled drastically. The harsh winters caused poor crop bounties, and the Empire's much vaunted road networks could do little to alleviate the problem. The resulting unrest aided in spreading the popularity of the mushrooming doomsday cults that claimed the founder of the Emperor was soon to return and bring all citizens of the Empire into a Golden Land. As they grew, many more men - and women, in some places - appeared, claiming the name of the First Emperor Ean and demonstrating the supernatural powers that he was reputed to have possessed...


A. You are a newly inducted member of the Watchers, an ancient organization that has served the Empire for millenia. Your first assignment has you - unfortunately - heading to the northern lands to investigate the Cult of the Returned Emperor...

B. You are a new recruit manning the Great Wall of Korinthos, where the threat of the Terasphagos have not been seen for centuries. Being stationed at the wall is one of the most boring and mundane duties for a soldier of the Empire, but one day, you get the excitement you have been yearning for...

C. You are an up and coming imperial noble and diplomat, well-versed in the ways of the world despite your youth. Though you are very far removed from the throne, your noble status and talent has put you in a very interesting position. Mysterious men come to you with an offer...

D. As the resident madman of a rural village in the hinterlands of Anatolia, no one pays you any more attention than necessary. That is, until you discover a certain secret...

Intermission: State of the Empire (~3rd Millennium)

Intermission: State of the Empire (~3rd Millennium)


The Shinar Empire




320 million people

Ethnic groups:
Egyptian (20%), Assyro-Babylonian (19%), Hittite (15%), Skane (13%), Etrurian (9%), Gallian (8%), Hispalis (8%), Britannian (5%), Greek (2%), Others (1%)

Shinari (official), Greek, Skanish (Gallian, Etrurian, Hispalis, Britannian dialects).

Imperial Cult, pagan worship (according to territory).



The head of state is the Emperor, who wields absolute authority over the entire Empire. In practice, the Emperor's powers are usually balanced by the powerful Council of Kings which are made up of the eight main kingdoms of the Empire and chaired by the Oligarch of the Greek Republic. The Council of Kings traditionally serve in an advisory capacity, and Emperors that think themselves above the advice offered traditionally do not last long. It is rare for the Council of Kings to demonstrate unity, The Council of Nobles used to consist of all landed noblemen throughout the Empire, until several kingdoms began parceling their land up into smaller and smaller pieces as to gain more voices on the council. Since then, a fixed allocation of equal seats has been implemented. A position on the council is held for life, or at the Emperor's pleasure, and gaining a seat is only possible through the recommendation of more than 20% of the noblemen of the council. However, it is rare for more than half of the noblemen to be present at any sitting. The Council of Nobles serves the function of vetting the decrees passed down by the Emperor and the Council of Kings. They may also propose amendments, or new rules and edicts for the Council of Kings to present to the Emperor.

The laws of the empire are upheld by courts that are presided over by justiciars - scholars that have specialized in the complicated, extensive, and ancient laws of the empire in their studies. Enforcement is carried out by prefect squads that operate under a justiciar's command. Each city in the Empire is assigned one court.

Ankida, an ancient city rumoured to have been built single-handedly by the founder of the Empire himself.

National animal:
None, though an old royal joke dating back to the founding days of the Empire has it as an octopus painted black. The reason for this has been lost in time.



The Empire is large enough to sustain the needs of its own population via domestic production. Internal trade thrives due to an extensive network of well-maintained roads, while externally it trades mainly with the Indus Empire and the Eastern Concordiat for luxuries such as spices and silk. Trade guilds flourish in every kingdom, and the justiciar system helps to guarantee the safety of most merchants, financially or otherwise, via a well-developed code of trade legalities. Currency is standardized throughout the Empire, with a simple exchange rate of 100 cops to 1 sil, and 100 sil to 1 gil.



A major aspect of the Imperial Cult is in the promotion of education. All children are mandated to attend public schools, run at the expense of the Empire, from the age of 7 till 12. From there, they may take up apprenticeship - usually lasting 5 years - at any of the numerous guilds that span the Empire, while the best students are drafted into the Imperial Academy in Ankida, where they are trained to handle the management of the Empire. The cream of the Academy crop go on to specialize in particular areas of study, such as military strategy, law, politics and science. The Empire has developed a habit of excessive documentation, in part thanks to numerous decrees from Emperor Runiphilos IV, who came to power after the 6th Shinar Civil War in 1337 A.C. and found to his great grief that the records of the first five hundred years of the Empire were mostly destroyed in that war.

The literacy rate within the Empire is at 60%.

All Imperial citizens enjoy the pleasures of life, even the dour northerners. Brothels are allowed to operate openly in major cities, and the Etrurian city of Spica has based its entire economy around providing pleasure to every person that walks through its doors, provided that they have coin. The capital of Ankida is renowned for the Grand Theatre that was endowed by Emperor Nabusartep 'the Playwright' Eannos, a great patron of the arts, in 2471 A.C., and most cities now boast of at least one theatre of their own.

The main religion is that of the Imperial Cult, which worships the god Ean, a semi-historical figure that has long been held to be the founder of the Empire. The Imperial family is held to be descended from him, with divine blood, and treated with the respect accorded to demigod figures. The Empire upholds the right of every citizen to practice their religion, and many old pagan religions still hold sway throughout the kingdom. Over the past three centuries, religious belief has slowly begun to decline thanks to the emergence of a popular philosophical atheistic movement started by the Greek thinker Atmos.

At present, 85% of the population still claim themselves to be religious.



The Empire is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, rivalled only by the Eastern Concordiat. The cities are well-lit by oil lights and have good plumbing systems. Medicine has been a major area of focus for the scholars and the success rate for treatment of disease and injuries is at an all-time high of 45%. The Empire also boasts of an extensive network of paved roads that connect every major city in its area of influence. Communication between cities has been expedited by the relatively recent reintroduction of the light tower network in 2758 A.C. by an Assyro-Babylonian scholar named Shulgi, who claimed to have been given a divine scroll from the First Emperor Ean containing blueprints for such towers. The network allows for coded messages to be transmitted by line of sight via a relay of towers set up between each city. Advances over the years have increased the operating capacity of the network, and reduced the amount of towers required between each city as well as increased the efficiency of the code used to transmit the messages. Scholars have begun experimenting with steam power, and a working prototype of a steam-powered water pump is currently being tested in the northern mines.



The military of the Empire is structured around regiments of 1000 men under the command of a noble-born officer. Each regiment is further broken down into units of 10 men, each led by a squad officer. Each kingdom has its own Marshal that has authority over the standing army of the kingdom. Each kingdom is also required to contribute the equivalent in manpower of 10% of its armies to the Imperial Army in Ankida, which is commanded by the High Marshal of the Empire. The High Marshal has the power to appoint military scholars to any regiment or army he sees fit as adjutants to the officers-in-charge. The Emperor has authority to command every single soldier and officer of the military in the Empire whenever he wishes, but in practice it has ended disastrously when Emperor Mardukios attempted it against the Skane Kingdom in 633 A.C., and Emperor Ratvius II against the Concordiat in 1795 A.C.

The mainstay of the Empire's soldiers are infantry, cavalry and bowmen, armed with steel weaponry and armour. Scholars have been hard at work replicating the firepowder used to devastating effect by the Concordiat in the 317th Concordiat Border Skirmish in 2918 A.C., and there are now at least ten regiments throughout the Empire equipped with rudimentary muskets, though their quality is still behind that of the Concordiat.

Standing Armies of the Empire (by Kingdom):
Assyro-Babylonia: 500,000 men
Egypt: 300,000 men
Skane: 300,000 men
Hatti: 250,000 men
Gallia: 200,000 men
Etruria: 170,000 men
Hispalis: 150,000 men
Britannia: 100,000 men
Greek Republic: 10,000 men
Imperial Army: 200,000 men


Domestic Affairs:

The various kingdoms of the Empire can only agree on matters that benefit them all, and will argue to the death - sometimes, literally - regarding matters that benefit one more than the other. Suffice to say, the nature of politics in the Empire is extremely complicated, with dozens of factions maneuvering behind the scenes to climb over the bodies of their rivals - sometimes, literally - to gain power and wealth. Minor noblemen often get swept into the frenzied waltz of politicking and end up destitute, though there are always opportunities available for the smart and the ruthless no matter the status of their birth. Adoptions of talented people are common, as despite the lip-service paid to the importance of blood - starting with the divine blood of the Imperial family - the Empire is pragmatic, and if push comes to shove talent will trump blood any day.

Civil war has occurred amongst the kingdoms of the Empire 12 times in the past three thousand years when the Emperor was not able (either by virtue of being an infant, or by virtue of being dead) to solve any succession problems, though the Empire has always remained together through it all thanks to the uniting symbol of the Imperial family. Each of the kingdoms realize that they are far better off under the Empire's aegis than outside it - if only because any kingdom outside its aegis was liable to get subjugated by those smarter kingdoms making good use of the Empire's protection.


Foreign Affairs:

The Empire is currently at peace with the powers around it; the Free Scania, a splinter of the Old Skane Kingdom that refused to join the Empire when the kingdom mysteriously collapsed circa 850 A.C.; the assorted tribes of the Rus, where peace means that the Empire only burns down one village whenever their settlers are raided; the Indus Empire, which sued for peace after being defeated in the most recent attempt to take back part of the lands the Empire gained in the Indus Reconquest of 1875 B.C.; Tamur, a vassal of the Concordiat that has no policy of its own but has a reputation for birthing beautiful princesses; and the Concordiat, which has engaged in hundreds of little border skirmishes with the Empire via Tamur over the years, but has never escalated it to all out war. Even during times of war with the Indus Empire and the Concordiat, trade relations maintain cordial whenever swords are not being swung.


Chapter 7.2: Diogenes Camna

Chapter 7.2: Diogenes Camna

“You shouldn’t have messed with House Camna, old man!”

A boot lands in the ribs of the persistent beggar, sending him falling backwards. The beggar wheezes, pleading for his life. You don’t spare him even a glance, running your fingers through your dark blonde hair. The wind was quite strong today.

“That’s enough, Tullus, Crassio.” You walk away from the dirty man that had tried to accost you – you were late for dinner at the manor. It seems that there were more and more of them these days, ever since the weather turned foul. You could feel it here, even as far south as Etruria.

As your two acquaintances hurry to catch up to you, one of them – Tullus - slaps you on the back. “Ah, Diogenes, buddy, ever the kind guy, aren’t ya?” You wince slightly and smile. Crassio laughs and shivers. “Weather’s really cold today. Oh yeah, you’re going off south soon, aren’t you? Would be nice to get away from this blasted cold.”
“Before the year is out. I’ve been transferred to the Foreign Affairs Office in the capital.”

“I think I’ve congratulated you before, but congratulations, again!” grins Tullus. “You totally deserve it, buddy. We’re gonna miss you.” You wonder why you are friends with them, but as you see them glaring away the scum that cross your path, you remember why. It’s a pity you couldn’t take them with you to Ankida, but maybe you would find some other people to follow you.


“Dio! Dio!”

That blasted, quavering voice again.

“Yes, father?”

“I dropped the knife. Could you pick it up for me?”

“Of course, father.”

Velius Camna, patriarch of House Camna. Under his kind and charitable watch, the House’s fortunes have declined, though you think that would soon change.

“Thank you, Dio, thank you. Thank the Emperor I raised you well. After Arte died… You are a good boy… all I have left…” Velius’s voice trails off before he breaks into another fit of coughing. As you leave your father’s side to go back to your seat, he speaks up again. “I hear you have been promoted to Ankida, Dio, my boy. Is that true?”

“Yes, but I might not go, father. I worry about you.”

“Oh, don’t! Dio, don’t say that, I will be fine!” laughs Velius, somewhat bitterly. “If this old man wants for anything, it is for you to succeed in life.”

You will, you think, no matter what.

“If that is the case, father, promise me that you will drink the medicine. I will be able to work better knowing that you are alright.” Hearing that, Velius makes a face. “That medicine… I don’t like it. It tastes funny." You chuckle. “Don’t be a big baby, father. It is for your own good. Do we have a promise?”

He sighs, “Of course, Dio. It is good, knowing that at the end of my life, I have such a wonderful son to care for me.”

“You are not at the end of your life, father, you have many more years to come.”

“Maybe, maybe… well, I am retiring for the night. These old bones cannot stand the cold.”

“Very well, father. I’ll bring up the medicine, as usual.”

“You don’t need to do all that, you can get the servants to do it.”

“I don’t trust the servants, father. We are House Camna. We might be powerless and poor now, but we are still related to the throne.”

“Yes, yes, I know, I’m the one who told you that a cousin of ours was married to the third princess of a cousin of an uncle of the father of the reigning Emperor. It doesn’t really make us any important, you know.”

“Still, just in case, father. I’ll bring the medicine to you myself, just as I always do. It’s a small matter to do for the one who raised me.” Fool of an old man – he has always been like this, blind to the treacheries and plots of the other nobles. No wonder Camna was in hard times.

“Such a way with words, Dio,” smiles Velius. “That reminds me, you are planning to get married to Thania, no?”

Thania Unata, of House Unata – an even smaller, insignificant family of nobles that did not even own land; they squatted on Camna lands, like parasites. Apparently the patriarch of House Unata had once saved Velius in battle, and they had been best friends ever since. You had grown up together with Thania. Though she had been promised to your elder brother Arte, since his death, the betrothal had fallen in your hands.

Well… she had already been in your hands long before that, anyway.

“Yes. After I settle down in Ankida, I will begin the preparations, but not before.”

“Oh, don’t focus too much on work, boy. Thania is a beautiful, nice girl. She was just here this morning with some pastries. You are a lucky one to have her, boy.”

You’ve stopped listening to your father, smiling and nodding as you head towards your room. The medicine was kept in there, where no servant could tamper with it. It looks like your father’s vitality was still strong… you would have to increase the dosage. It would be too late once you leave for Ankida.

As you open the drawers, a voice greets you from behind.

“Diogenes Camna. Good evening.”

You whirl around, and to your surprise a cloaked, masked man steps out from the shadows.

“You… how -“

Before you know it, he has his hand over your mouth, and a sharp, jagged knife to your eye.

“Diogenes Camna. Good evening.”

You nod calmly, and he releases his hand.

“Good evening. Who might you be?”

“Someone who has been watching you, Diogenes Camna, with great interest.”

“What’s so interesting about me?”

“Everything. Your birthplace is unknown. Your birth parents are unknown. You were adopted by Velius Camna at the age of 10. You graduated with honours from the Imperial Academy, with the highest marks in the subjects of politics and foreign affairs. Despite that, you refused an offer to serve directly with the Imperial Office of Foreign Affairs, instead opting for a posting in your hometown of Aritim, the capital of Etruria. Your reason was this – ‘I wanted to be close to my father and my betrothed.’"

Underneath that mask, you could feel that the man was grinning. He is about to continue, but you stop him.

“It looks like you’ve read up about me. Congratulations, you can read. Did you come here just to show me that?”

The man chuckles softly, the knife in front of your eye not wavering one bit.

“Just what I would expect from the man who fully understands that his father’s seat on the prestigious Council of Nobles is a wasted seat… you do have balls, Diogenes Camna, I’ll grant you that. Strangely enough, you grieved the loudest when your elder brother, Arte Camna, the legitimate heir, had his unfortunate coach accident. What a display of emotion for a man so calm, even in a situation such as this.”

“You dare!”

“Now now, no need for pretenses here. I know what is in that drawer.”

You resist the urge to gulp, and instead let a smile spread over your face.

“It’s just medicine. Now, can you tell me why you are here, if it’s not to show me that you know how to find out about things?”

“I don’t find out about things, I observe them,” nods the man, as if you have understood something. “Very well, let’s cut to the chase. My colleagues and I believe that you are a man with bright potential, and as such, we wish to offer you a unique opportunity.”

You nod your head slowly, waiting for him to continue.

“You are probably already aware of this, but the Emperor will be visiting Aritim in two weeks time. We can arrange for you to host him.”

“House Camna? Host the Emperor in the very city in which the King of Etruria reigns?” You can’t help but laugh. “Us? This is a very good joke you have told me, masked man.”

“It can be done. This is the proof.”

Reaching one hand under his belt, the masked man brings up a small signet ring. You widen your eyes when you see it – the crest upon it was unmistakable – the eternal blade, a sword that twisted upon itself and stabbed into its own hilt; the emblem of the Imperial family. It was a ring only granted to the closest family and most trusted servants of the Emperor.

“This is a very good counterfeit you have shown me, masked man,” you say nervously, but you know that such a counterfeit impinged upon the authority of the Imperial family, and was blasphemy of the highest order, and not even the great crime families of Sicilia would dare do such a thing. The man would either have to be powerful and resourceful enough to obtain such a counterfeit, or he actually had the real ring in his hand. Either way, there was a good chance that the man could carry out his bargain.

“You know it is no counterfeit, for a few reasons, Diogenes Camna. Now, we can do this for you, and I know that you have begun to believe so.” You shake your head. “It’s not a deal yet. What do you want from me, then? I see many ways for me to benefit from hosting the Emperor, but what do you get from all this?”

“The event itself is our goal. We desire nothing more than that. I will say this – you were chosen for a reason.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“You may think whatever you wish. However, this does not mean that there are no conditions, Diogenes Camna.”

“Ah, so now you name your price.”

“It isn’t much of a price. You just need to hasten the timeline of your esteemed father’s ordeal. We will provide you with the means to do so, and everything will fall into place perfectly.”

You fall silent. Just who were they? Still, an opportunity… any opportunity to meet the Emperor was not to be taken lightly - noblemen would kill and have killed for such a chance, and an opportunity to actually play host to him was something that you might not encounter even in your entire lifetime.


A. You accept the offer. It is too good not to.

B. You decline the offer. It is too good to be true.

Chapter 7.3: Death, Banquets and the Idea of Love

Chapter 7.3: Death, Banquets and the Idea of Love

It was the first time you had actually killed a man personally, though you felt nothing as your father’s lifesblood washed over your hands, his eyes open in uncomprehending terror. He remains staring as the light fades from his eyes, a fool to the end. You were thankful that he had adopted you into House Camna, but his usefulness had ended once Arte died and you were heir. The Camna name was near worthless to you as long as he still lived, and now that he is dead, you will be able to leverage his old connections personally, as the new head of a House of one. If things didn’t work out… well, you could always make the most of your recently acquired inheritance to get yourself adopted again by an even more prestigious House, surrendering the name of Camna.

Still, it was such a simple trick that you could hit yourself for not thinking it up sooner. Drunk, sorrowful, ailing and alone, he receives a prank letter from a mysterious source taunting him about his eldest son’s death and he takes his own life in grief. The mysterious masked man had sent it, as part of his service. Whatever was inside you did not know – Velius had thrown it into the fireplace – but it had ended up with the old man crying, while clinging to you, right up until you drove his own dagger into his heart.

You look down at the rapidly cooling corpse with some distaste. You have always heard that people would panic and go crazy trying to wash the blood off their hands, but it appears those are just stories after all. It looks like it was time to call the servants in, as witnesses to their master’s unfortunate death. You prepare yourself to grieve – it is a good thing that everyone knows you were such a loyal son to the very end.


After you had fulfilled the masked man’s sole condition, everything went perfectly. The Emperor himself had asked for you as a host, apparently desiring to meet with the new head of a distantly related household. King Orgiano of Etruria had little choice but to agree. He was not too happy, but his staff gave a sigh of relief – in secret, of course – that they would not have to host the large entourage that Emperors always lugged around with them.

That heavy task fell to you. It would have been impossible to organize it without your betrothed’s help. Thania Unata was the sole daughter of House Unata, and looking at her parents you can't help but be intrigued at how they had managed to spawn a marvel such as her. She had brains, and to add to it, good looks. Even back when you were children, she was the one who had led you in schemes outsmarting Arte. She had a keen mind and a sharp eye for details, and Arte, the buffoon, had never appreciated it sufficiently. Sure, he loved her – as if that meant anything to you as you stole her heart and body from right under his nose – but he wouldn’t have known how to use her. Even with all her good traits, though, Thania was still an Unata. You did not really mind marrying her, but sometimes you wondered if you would not be more prudent to hold out for a chance to marry upwards.


You are startled from your thoughts, and turn to look at Thania. She looked even more stunning than usual today, her brown hair cropped short after the Gallian fashion that was currently all the rage amongst the noblewomen of the Empire. The more discerning ladies would have been able to tell that it was a cheap cut, but she wore it well enough to outshine lesser women groomed by the best stylists. A rich-looking dark green dress, lined with blue satin trimmings, accentuated her assets. She notices you looking at the dress, and beams.

“Why, don’t tell me you are stunned by the dress? I must say… it fits me well.”

“Why would I be? I bought it. It’s just that… no, it doesn’t fit you well. It fits you perfectly.”

“Is that a compliment for me, or a compliment for your own taste, Diogenes Camna?”

“It is a compliment for my taste in women, Thania Unata.”

The both of you laugh, looking at the guests that were milling about in the reception hall of your manor. As she stops laughing, Thania sighs, a wistful look suddenly on her face.

“I wish Sir Velius would’ve been here to see this. He would’ve been so proud of you.”

You nod your head in agreement. “Father would’ve been overjoyed to see so many guests. House Camna hasn’t received so many people in years.”

She stretches her arms with a sigh of agreement, her dress slipping slightly to reveal part of her shoulder. You resist the urge to wince – her rural upbringing sometimes expressed itself distastefully. “I’m sure this won’t be the last time. There’ll be at least one more, won’t it?” Thania smiles. You know she’s talking about the impending marriage. “I feel that together, we can do anything. We always have, haven’t we, Dio?”

She was right, in a way – she had been extremely helpful to you over the years. Certainly, you knew that she thought of you as her best friend and lover, not some noble sop that she was to marry for upward mobility in the social strata. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot the Emperor at last. It looks like Thania would be helpful to you again tonight.


Emperor Rennephilio XIV was a dark-haired, stocky man of maybe 40 years of age. He had been on the throne for 15 years, and everyone agreed that he was the best Emperor they had ever had. Of course, everyone says that right up until the new Emperor takes his throne, so you had never bought into what people said, but instead observed what they did.

Rennephilio was a good Emperor for you; that was your conclusion. He cared not for intrigue, but more for the pleasure of his rank, exercising a libido that was said to be legendary. In his youth he had been a good warrior, but that had not translated to steel in the battlefield of politics. This effectively meant that actual governance was left to the Council of Kings, though it also meant that when Rennephilio insisted on something, the Council were more inclined to give it to him without any debates as he rarely demanded anything of them. His lack of interest in politics meant that the kings and nobles had more or less dismissed him – not to his face – during his time on the throne. You know better, of course; Rennephilio is still the Emperor of the Shinari, and he wielded great power if he should choose to use it.

You would just have to find a way to entice him to.

Besides Rennephilio stood his son and heir, Runikylos, the eldest son of the the Emperor’s Egyptian consort, and the most promising prince in the entire Imperial family. Given all the talk of the rumoured return of the First Emperor in the more religious corners of the Empire, some have even taken to calling him Ean reborn. You could believe that, as he cut a dashing figure in contrast to his father; tall, handsome and intelligent. He was your age, and you had attended the Academy together, though in different classes.

As you approach them, the Emperor notices you and gives you a big grin of approval. He holds out his hand. You bow as you kiss it, and Thania repeats the same. Watching the Emperor closely, you note the gleam in his eye as he followed her curves as she bows. You had studied the Emperor’s interests, and the dress you bought for Thania had been tailored to it.

“My Emperor,” you say, with one hand held over your chest. “I hope our hospitality is to your liking?”

“Oh, yes, of course. The wine is superb, the food is excellent, and every beauty in Etruria seems to be present. So this is your fiancée, Camna?” As he says that, his gaze again wanders over Thania. You could sense that she was getting uncomfortable, but she kept her smile on her face and held her posture. You heave a sigh of relief inwardly that she was at least competent enough to do that. Thania bows again. “Yes, my Emperor, I have the great honour of being betrothed to Sir Camna.” The Emperor nods approvingly and slowly. “I’m sure the honour is his… You are a lucky man, Camna. A lucky man.”

“Indeed, my Emperor.” You bow again, as an expression of gratefulness.

“Ah, father, you must not monopolize their time to yourself. Sir Camna, a pleasure to meet you at last.” Prince Runikylos steps forward to change the topic, a smile on his face, and holds out his hand. It was not a gesture for you to kiss it, however, but to shake it. You do so.

“The pleasure is all mine, my prince, but what do you mean, at last?”

“We went to the Academy together, though we were in different classes. Your thesis on the benefits of the continued independence of Free Scania was extremely interesting.”

You open your eyes in amazement. “Truly, the imperial family is possessed of divine patience. This is the first I’ve heard of anyone that actually read that damned tome.”
The prince chuckles, knowing your mock surprise is in good humour. “Oh, it is a real damned thick tome indeed. My learning master said it was twice as thick as the usual submissions he received, so he gave it twice the marks.”

You laugh. “I should thank him for allowing me to top the class then. But come, my Emperor, Prince Runikylos, the banquet is just getting started. Shall I call for more wine? I must’ve raided every cellar in Etruria just to find a drink befitting the Imperial family.”


All the poison tasters in the world wouldn’t have been looking for a subtle aphrodisiac slipped into the wine. It had been hard to procure, but the effects could be easily passed off as a matter of the alcohol loosening inhibitions. As the night wore on, you called Thania over, in full view of the Emperor, and asked her to fetch something from your chambers. It didn’t take long before Rennephilio, slightly tipsy, excused himself too, and walked off after Thania. Soon after that, you notice a concerned Runikylos rise from his seat. This will not do – you walk over to him, putting on a slightly worried look on your face.

“My prince, I am the host here, so please leave this to me.”

He shakes his head. “I know my father’s vices, and as his son I will be better placed to deal with any problems that might occur.”

“It is not for a son to see his father’s shame. I do not want any family arguments to occur under my roof, not when…” your voice trails off, choking slightly, and the prince’s face turns slightly red. He was a smart one, and caught your intent immediately.

“I’m sorry, Sir Camna, I spoke without regard… I am sorry. You must still be grieving over the death of your esteemed father… I understand.”

“Please, let me handle the matter, my prince.”

He nods, and pats you on the shoulder. You give him a grateful smile, and walk off to your chambers. Although it was a short walk, you took your time, and when you opened the door to your room, you were greeted with the sight of Thania’s tear-stained face, her torn dress, and the Emperor attempting to hold her down. They turn to look at you, on one face an expression of hope, and the other one of surprise.


A. Your plan was proceeding smoothly. You allow the Emperor to continue his activities...

B. Somehow, you find yourself unable to go through with this. You stop the Emperor.

Chapter 7.4: Surfacing Memories

Chapter 7.4: Surfacing Memories

You took a careful, measured look at the Emperor and Thania, keeping your face impassive, and stepped backwards, closing the door behind you. Then, you waited. When the satisfied Emperor came out and clapped you on the back, you did not smile, but merely bowed your head. It was important that he remembered your conduct. You stepped into your chambers after the Emperor had strolled off.

Thania was huddled on your bed, tears sliding down her face. You silently grabbed a towel and walked over to her. As you hand it to her, she grabs your hand, and starts apologizing. She should’ve run. She should’ve fought harder. She was sorry. She was so scared. Stay with her. You look down where her fingers met yours, and an uncharacteristic twinge arises in your chest. Did you need to go this far? Do you need to go further?

But you were already committed to the plan. Now there was nothing to it, but to see it through to the end, and maximize your opportunity. She was a valuable piece, but she had to be sacrificed for your eventual victory. With just the right balance of pity and disgust, you shake your hand free of her grip, and leave wordlessly, not sparing her a second glance.

She hangs herself a week later, leaving behind a note full of self-recrimination.

After you confirmed that the Emperor knew about it, you burn the note.


The Emperor may be licentious, but he was not without a shred of humanity. To have your father, and then your betrothed, kill themselves one after the other was surely more than any man could handle. Though the remorseful monarch could not apologize to you directly, he sent Prince Runikylos to the funeral in his stead. The service itself had been messy – House Unata was convinced that you caused her death. Thankfully, no one believed them. Why would they? You were the head of Camna, the House that hosted the Emperor himself, and they were just a little family living off your good graces. You brushed aside their wild allegations, and told them, slightly tearfully, that they would not want for anything as long as they lived, for they were the parents of your most beloved Thania. In the end, though, the guards still had to drag the upset parents from the temple.

“I… I don’t know what to say, Sir Camna.” The prince was in your study, after the funeral service had ended. “All of this… I could’ve stopped all of this. I am so sorry.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Your Highness. I was the one who insisted that you stay and enjoy the feast. I thought I could’ve… I… I couldn’t. I couldn’t.” you whisper, adding a bit of acidity and self-reproach into your tone. The prince shook his head sadly.

“Don’t stand on ceremony, Sir Camna. I’ll have none of this ‘Your Highness’ or ‘my Prince’ business. Call me just by my name, Runikylos. You are after all part of the family, and you will be closer from now on.”

Ah, could it be? Did your plot pay off? He turned to look at you directly. “My father… He really is remorseful about this whole thing – he claims it’s the alcohol. I never heard of him forcing his attentions, but I suppose he’s gotten too carried away with no one every turning him down.” Runikylos sighs, and then continues. “He’s offered you my sister, Princess Kyriesca’s hand in marriage.”

You resist the urge to let out a whistle – this was far more than you expected.

“Sir Camna, this must feel like an insult to your feelings for Lady Thania, but I assure you it isn’t meant to be. Father is just trying to make amends, however poorly thought out his actions are. I know this is too soon.”

It was too soon. Immediately marrying a princess when your fiancée’s body had not yet cooled would invite even more rumours. Some people might even start giving legitimacy to House Unata’s claims. You weren’t about to paint a target on your back.

“Sir Camna?”

“My close friends and family call me Dio. Please, I ask of you to do the same. I was just overwhelmed at the Emperor’s magnanimity, and struck senseless for a while.”

“I understand if you want to call off the engagement, Dio. Father will too – if he doesn’t, I will make him understand. We can find some other way to amend. This isn’t how the Imperial family should be.”

“No… I do accept the offer, Runikylos. After all, what other woman would want me?” You grin painfully. “It’s just that I can’t go through with it, just after…”

“I understand. I’ll inform father about this, and we will keep the betrothal in secret and on hold until you are ready, Dio. In fact, that might be better – given the proclivities of nobles in our empire, making it public so soon would only attract unwanted attention. It’s a disgusting state of affairs, but nonetheless, we must be prudent.”

“The empire is full of backstabbing politicians,” you agree. “I do find it hard to stomach.”

“You see it too!” exclaimed the prince. “The Shinar Empire is rotten. The thirst for power has consumed most of the people that should be governing instead of trying to one up one another in petty schemes and tricks. There are so many problems to deal with nowadays – the Ean cults, the worsening weather, and the ever-present issues with the Concordiat and the Indus Empire, but they don’t see it – or worse, they see it as tools to advance their own standing.”

“Rotten,” you echo. “I never had much taste for it. That’s why I didn’t take up a position in Ankida back when I graduated. It makes me ill – as nobles we have an obligation to the empire, not to ourselves. That obligation encompasses everything that makes the empire strong, and what makes an empire strong is its people. Letting this rot grow so far will only invite disaster. Now we might still seem fine, but rot works from within. When the nobles begin to care so much more for themselves rather than this empire, it will fall apart.”

You did not care for a word of what you just said, but you could see that the prince did, apparently pleased at having found a noble that understood his point of view. It looks like he had designs on being a political reformer. From what you know of his intellect and popularity, he could probably pull it off.

Prince Runikylos – he would be an obstacle.


That night, the masked man visits you again, a sickly sweet scent about him.

“Bravo. You are a masterful piece of work, Diogenes Camna.”

“What do you want? I am tired.” This was the truth, for once. It had been a long day.

“I thought you would be more grateful.”

“I am, but this is not the best time to talk.”

“Grieving over your fiancée?” The man laughs. “Ah, but it was a brilliant move. Not many nobles have women so devoted, and those that do tend to repay that devotion by… well… not making them a pawn in their games. Man is a sentimental creature.”

“I was perfectly placed to play this move, so I did. It would be a waste not to. Truth be told, I was inspired by the story you set up for my father’s death.”

“I’m glad I could be of service. Anyway, you have proved yourself worthy, Diogenes Camna. This is why we chose you.”

“Why did you choose me again?”

“It is a long story. Have you heard of the Emperor cults that are springing up all over the empire? Each of them is led by a person claiming to be the First Emperor, Ean.”

You have, but you did not see what that had anything to do with this.

“They are right, you know. The Emperor will return, and soon. But they are all led by falsehood. They are but pretenders to the Shinar Throne.”

“And?’ You were weary of this talk. These pretenders could be useful to you, but it was something you can plan for in the future, not tonight.

“You are the real thing,” said the masked man simply.

“Ha, you really are a good jokester, o masked man.”

“Do you remember your birth parents? Do you remember what happened before you were adopted?”

You didn’t, and you do not reply.

“You are the real Ean, and your actions have proven yourself to be smart and ruthless enough to retake your mantle. You are worthy of our aid.”

“I am not going to be sidetracked by stupid bedtime stories. I am willing to work with you as long as it benefits me, but we will only deal in concrete facts.”

The masked man appears to shrug. The sickly sweet smell got stronger as he did so, as it wafted its way into your nose.

“Look here.”

As you do so, a bright light flashes into your eyes, and you know no more.


In the weeks that passed, as you prepared for your move to Ankida, you began to get flashes of someone else’s memory. Pitched battles in the desert. Dark labyrinths. They were definitely not your memories, that much you knew. You had never been to the desert. In addition to the memories, there were other changes – you felt your body had become stronger, faster, and your senses became clearer and sharper.

You wonder if what the man said wasn’t true, after all, but you had more important things to take care of. As long as these memories don’t get in your way, you don’t really care. If you were the real Ean, it means you would become all-powerful. That was good. If you weren't, well, the tricks of a dead man can do you no harm. The masked man doesn’t return to meet you after that, but you knew that sooner or later you would see him again.

When you arrived in Ankida, there were two letters awaiting you. It seems that Prince Runikylos was impressed – and remorseful, perhaps – enough that he had decided to offer you a position in his staff. You hear that he has been gathering like-minded people in an effort to begin slowly changing the empire.


A. You take Runikylos’s offer of being his aide. Not only is it a marvelous opportunity for advancement, being in his confidence puts you in a good position to find ways to deal with the noble prince.

B. It was best not to stand out too much. You stick with your posting in the Office of Foreign Affairs, where you can quietly work your plots and schemes amongst the petty nobles.

Chapter 7.5: Murderous Rat, Cunning Snake

Welcome to the 100th chapter update.


Chapter 7.5: Murderous Rat, Cunning Snake

“This is a mess.” Prince Runikylos tapped the papers in front of him. The Empire had been unfortunate over the past few months.

First there had been that uprising in Anatolia. Some crazy man, convinced that he was the second coming of Ean, had somehow managed to also convince hundreds of peasant-folk of his divinity. He had launched a series of attacks on numerous Hittite barracks, each time managing to defeat the garrison and melt away after raiding the barracks for weapons and supplies. No one could still track down him and his rabble. They refused to stand and fight, only engaging when it was favourable to them. Rumour had it that his cult engaged in depraved sex with animals, particularly cephalopods. You were sure that the Imperial Army would mobilize soon to attempt to flush out the insurgent, as his region of activity was not all that far from Ankida.

Then, there had been the explosion at the Great Wall of Korinthos. It had been unbreached for more than a thousand years, but just three weeks ago, someone blew a big hole in it. Initial investigations suggested they had used a new mixture of firepowder. The culprit was captured by a young recruit that had the luck to survive the explosion. It turns out that the culprit was a member of the Cult of the Returned Emperor, another cult that thought the Emperor Ean was back.

“I thought the First Emperor liked the wall?” you mutter, looking at the reports. They were a cult that was centered mainly in the north, believing that the Emperor had reincarnated in their leader, a man named Jannik Inge. Sources had it that they were funded by Free Scania, who sought to use the cult to undermine the Empire and regain control of Skane. “You did send someone to investigate them, right?”

“Yes, I did. You met Aodh when he returned last week; he was my representative on that investigation. Unfortunately, the sabotage of the wall hadn’t taken place when he was sent out, so we didn’t put too much priority on attempting to capture the cultists.”

You remember Aodh alright. He was two years younger than both you and the prince, and was also a scholar that had recently graduated from the Academy with very mediocre scores. You did not think much of the man – certainly he had an unmemorable face – but something about him rubbed you the wrong way. When you had shook hands with him during your first meeting, he suddenly stared at you piercingly. You fought the compulsion to wrench your hand away and managed to maintain your winning smile, but since then Aodh had been slightly nervous about you whenever he saw you, despite your best attempts to befriend him. He also appeared to be very close to the Prince; at least, he commands more of Runikylos’s confidence than you. You have no idea why; he was an unremarkable commoner that had gotten into the Academy and hadn’t had the talent to become adopted by a noble family. You would have to figure out a way to put him out of favour, or away from Runikylos.

“I suppose you should send Aodh back up north to figure things out, then?”

“Not right now, I need him here to help me with some unfinished business with Anittas and his gang of fat toads. Are you getting along well with him, by the way?” asked the prince. You shake your head. “He seems to be a bit skittish around me, unfortunately. Maybe he had some traumatic encounters with blond-haired northerners.” you quip. The prince frowned and drummed his desk with his fingers, a sure sign that he was thinking hard about some matter. “I’ve known him since he was my junior in the academy. He wasn’t this way before… you might be onto something. He’s seemed a bit off since he returned from the north. Well, anyway, it seems like things are going to be very busy around here. You won’t be getting any rest, Dio. Say goodbye to your private life,” smiled the prince.

“The princess isn’t going to be happy.” You chuckle, but thinking of Princess Kyriesca, you lament Thania’s loss a little. Being around Kyriesca had made you miss Thania’s company, though you are loathe to admit it even to yourself. The princess was extremely restrained – thanks to her upbringing dictating that a lady should be modest – when it came to physical contact, refusing to allow you to even touch her, and she had a vacant mind of a child. Still, she looked pretty enough, you suppose, and that vacant mind had led you easily to her heart. Her only use to you was her status.

Runikylos laughs. “I know my sister is a bit of a handful, but it looks like you two are getting along very well. Lately you’re all she talks about. I suppose we could -” You give him a slightly sad smile, and he stops. “Right. Pardon me, it’s not even been half a year.”

It was still too soon. Your position was still insecure. Thankfully, there was a big opportunity for you to secure it in the coming weeks – your contact in the Ankidan Merchant’s Guild has confirmed an incoming shipment of opiates from the Concordiat to Hatti. These had been tightly regulated by the Empire for nearly about a hundred years. Naturally, the particular shipment that you knew about was not supposed to be on the records. You had managed to tie it to Lord Anittas, a particularly nasty old Hittite fox that was frustrating Runikylos’s efforts in the Council of Nobles, and was the leader of a faction that opposed his attempted reforms at every turn.

In other times you might have been on House Morgant’s side, but as the luck of the die would have it, you were here, with the Prince. All the more pity for Sir Morgant. He had been too hasty and greedy to fall for the setup, though. Now you had multiple options to consider. Should you blackmail him? Expose him? Allow it to happen so that you could give him more rope to hang himself with? Certainly, if you bring him down in public, Runikylos and his faction would shower you with accolades, and more importantly, their trust.

You took your leave from Runikylos’s office, mulling over these questions. As you did so, you took a coin from your pocket and rolled it over your hand. It looked natural enough, but a practiced eye would’ve noticed that it appeared to shift in impossible ways, following a track that no coin should be able to. In addition to the damnable flashbacks, which irritated you whenever they surfaced, you had found that you could will objects to move just by thinking about it.

“Sir Camna.”

It was Aodh, standing by the parapet.

“Mister Aodh, it is a pleasure to see you here! Does Runikylos have some important mission for his trusted right hand?”

Aodh laughs embarrassedly and shakes his head. “I’m not the Prince’s right hand man. I’m just a simple clerk.”

“Don’t be too modest now. He trusts you with a lot.”

Aodh grins nervously as his eyes dart all over the place. “That’s right. He trusts too much. Runikylos has a keen mind and a good heart, but sometimes he is too careless with his trust.”

“I agree,” you nod, stepping closer to him. “How should we get our dear Prince to wise up to the ways of the world?”

“Sir Camna,” says Aodh quietly. “Do you mean the Prince any harm?”

“I… what question is that, all of a sudden?” You widen your eyes. “He is my benefactor! I’d never… why would you think that!”

Of course, you certainly didn’t mean him any harm now, but you wouldn’t guarantee you wouldn’t need to, in the future. Aodh stammered and began turning red. “I-I-I think you are lying, Sir Camna. I cannot… I can’t trust you to be around him, especially since he already trusts you to watch his back. You should never have approached the Prince.”

This man… what was he thinking? You are sure you haven’t let any bit of your true desires slip. No one could’ve picked up on it.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Runikylos was the one who approached me with this job. Why don’t you trust me?”

You keep the smile. Pretend to be amused, but slightly perplexed. You are innocent of anything. Keep the smile on your face.

After a moment of silence, Aodh speaks in a hushed tone. “I know what happened to Velius Camna.”

How could he have known? Did the masked man sell you out? How much does he know? This was an utterly unexpected turn of events for you, and you begin to wonder if there was a way out. If he was going to blackmail you, perhaps you could just leave Runikylos’s service and find another post in the capital. He just wanted you away from the Prince, right?

Aodh’s next words put paid to your idea.

“Sir Camna, I strongly suggest you leave the Empire’s territories. A man of your talents can find power anywhere. I will keep your name clean should you do so.”

“The snake shows its fangs.” Your friendly smile dies, only to be replaced by a slight sneer. “You are blackmailing me to leave so that you can get more power for yourself? You use my father’s death against me? How dare you insult my memory of him!” You summon mock anger, supplemented with real anger that you could’ve been found out. He backs away in fear, raising his hands as if to ward you off. His next words came out in a rush.

“I-I-I spent some time looking into things after we met. After that, I can probably piece together everything that happened if I need to. The medicine itself would already be damning of your intentions!”

Ah, he knows. He really knows. You don’t know how, but he knows, despite your best attempts to cover your tracks. It looks like you would be chased out, on the eve of securing your position in Runikylos’s eyes and finally being able to marry into the Imperial family. You curse ever meeting Aodh. Luck is such a fickle thing.

Your expression dissolves into one of crest-fallen resignation. “Who else knows of this?”

A slightly amused smile creeps across Aodh’s lips, incongruous with his nervous tic. It looks like he wasn’t as nice as Runikylos, despite his appearance, though he may be nearly as naïve. He was too confident that he had the upper hand, and it showed. “I won’t lie to you. I’m the only one who knows. Are you thinking that you can dispose of me and keep your secret safe? D-d-do you really want to kill someone again?”


A. There’s nothing else to do but to kill him. If he exposes you, you are doomed anyway.
1. What have you been doing so far? You’re such an asshole! You see the light now, and REPENT wholeheartedly, prostrating on the floor before Aodh! You beg him to take you in, the guilt of killing your father and brother and lover weighing heavily upon you. Then you will stab him as he comes close. You are stronger than you have ever been, he won’t stand a chance.
2. Even if Aodh may know about all these things, he wouldn’t know of your newfound ability. His confidence will be his downfall. He may be prepared for a physical attack, but definitely not if you use your power. You push him over the rail with your mind. It’s a five storey drop. There is no one else around. You can do this.

B. You pretend to agree, but beg for some time to pack your belongings and say goodbye to Princess Kyriesca.
1. After coming to Ankida, you have managed to make some contacts amongst certain less reputable members of society, by proxy of course. Let him think you would leave for now. Tonight you would arrange for Aodh to meet with an accident; a very permanent accident.
2. You had impressed the masked man enough for him to give you a means to get in contact with him. Tonight you will use it, and ask for his help. Surely he will be more reliable than thugs or killers, and he does have a vested interest in your survival, doesn’t he?

C. You give in. You have lost, and you don’t even know how it happened. Maybe in the future you can take your vengeance on this lowborn scum, but for now you have no other path to take but to go into exile.

D. You REPENT! For real! Maybe you really have been too much of an asshole. You really do feel guilty for all your misdeeds. You throw yourself on his mercy, because you are too much of a wimp to continue being a total scumbag if it turns out you aren’t the king of the world and that karma is about to catch up.

Chapter 7.6: House Arrest

Chapter 7.6: House Arrest

You lash out with your mind with no warning. The shove catches Aodh entirely by surprise and he topples over the railing. Then, there is a thud as the body hits the floor. You peer over the parapet.

Aodh was lying on the grass, face up. Blood was pooling around him. You see him looking up at you, his expression utterly changed. Where his eyes were soft and warm before, they were now dead and lifeless, gazing vacantly into the air. His face now seemed to be nothing more than a mask, though that amused smirk still remained plastered on his lips. He was dead, you think.

Then the smirk widens into a grin, and those dead eyes fix right at you.

You have no time to wonder what was going on. He was still alive, and you can't let him get away. Resolving yourself to finish him off, you hurry down the stairs. Right as you step into the courtyard, you bump into a squad of five prefects. Two of them were already looking over Aodh's body.

You try to play it cool.

"Sir! Prefect! I saw someone fall from the floor above!" you cry. The leader of the squad, a burly man with a great big bushy beard, eyes you suspiciously. "Is the man alright?" you ask. He shakes his head, making a quick gesture across his throat with his finger - it looks like Aodh was dead. You heave a sigh of relief inwardly, but the prefect's next question kills that relief immediately.

"You are Diogenes Camna, are you not?"

You have a bad feeling about this, but you nod.

"Then you're coming with us. One of the servants saw you throw this man off the balcony after stabbing him. This is a case of murder and a serious violation under Imperial law."

You are struck speechless for a while. There had been no one around when you did the deed, and you hadn't even used your hands. There should've been no proof. "That's impossible, prefect. I saw him fall, yes, but I couldn't have killed him. Who's the one who accused me wrongly?"

"As I said, sir, a servant saw you do it. The justiciar will sort things out, so if you would just come to the courts with -"

"I am Diogenes Camna, head of House Camna and servant of the Prince!" If asking nicely wouldn't work, you would try to bully your way out. "I refuse to be treated like a common criminal when I am innocent of any crime!"


Unfortunately for you, it didn't work. You did manage to convince the justiciar to put you under house arrest while everything was sorted out, but you were not free. As you brooded in your chambers, wondering if Aodh did go as far as to frame you for his own murder somehow, an unfamiliar voice whispered in your ears. "Master Ean."

You draw back with a start, whipping out your dagger. It was the masked man... except taller, with a different voice. You suppose this is one of the masked man's accomplices, but without proof you couldn't be sure. It could be anyone under that mask.

"Who are you?"

"A friend of the one who first came in contact with you."

"Prove it."

"I do not need to prove anything, but if you require, I can tell a tale about the sins you have committed. The letter we helped send to your father, how his own dagger found its way into his breast, why your fiancee actually hung herself... and of course, the memories and powers you have been developing."

You lower the dagger, watching the man intently. "What happened to the last man? Is he busy tonight?"

"Ah, that is why I have come. He was captured, and is presumably dead by now. I was going to inform you of that, and to tell you that you should no longer use the method he gave you previously to contact us. It has been compromised, and we will give you a new code. Unfortunately, judging by the prefects posted around your house, it seems that I came too late to prevent you from being strung up in their trap. They act fast."

You grasp at your hair in frustration. "Just what is going on here? If there is something going on, you leave me in the dark until it is too late? I've been arrested, and my secret is known!"

"Calm, Master Ean. We have been in great danger on our part, and have had to act very carefully. We apologize for the delay, but we are finally ready to act."

"Act on what? Stop speaking in riddles."

The masked man bows. "Understood, Master Ean. You are, as you well know, the reincarnation of the First Emperor."

"I don't feel like it."

"The memories you possess and the powers you wield are proof of it. It is unmistakable."

"The memories I can do without. They irritate and distract me." You had no love for this supposed Emperor and his memories. They were irrelevant things that happened thousands of years ago.

"We are the Watchers, founded by the God-Emperor Ean himself as his eyes and ears. As his reincarnation, we serve you with everything we have. Our aim is to restore you to power. Unfortunately, some of our brethren do not agree with us, and it is they who are attempting to destroy you."

"They framed me."

"Yes, Master Ean. As expected of one with your intelligence. The man you thought you killed was one of them. Though they captured one of us - the one who you had met with - they were probably unable to extract evidence from him, only hearsay. Based on that they would not have been able to convict you, so instead they chose to lure you into committing yet another crime."

"I didn't commit any crime."

"Ah, in front of your loyal servants there is no need to hide your actions, Master Ean, though we fully appreciate your skill at deception. Now, all might seem lost, but it is within our expectations. You did not act fully within their expectations either, and they will have a hard time attempting to prove it was indeed you that killed the man, particularly since they cannot show the body in public, for the simple reason that there is no body to show. That does not mean time is on your side, Master Ean, as eventually they will be able to either track down evidence or fabricate it. By restricting your activities, they are on the verge of victory. But all is not lost. As I have said, we are finally ready to act."

"And as I have asked you before, act on what?"

"To eventually obtain you the throne, Master Ean. We have learnt that the rural madman is planning to assault the capital in five nights. Daring and mad, but that is not unexpected. In the confusion, we will have prepared ways to remove the obstacles in your path."

"I suppose all I have to do is sit here while you murder all of my rivals?"

"Unfortunately, that will not do, Master Ean. We do need you to lead us and show us your strength. You have a target for assassination too, and we will help you achieve it."

You sigh. "Who do I kill this time?"

"Prince Runikylos, who even now does not believe that you are responsible for the murder of his trusted man, and has ordered his men to investigate this case personally. Of course, his men will never tell him of your innocence. Nonetheless, he remains an obstacle to your rule, Master Ean, and you too know he must go. If he ever finds out of your true nature, he would be a deadly enemy. Two of us will be accompanying you on that night to silence the good prince for good."

You gaze at the masked man quietly. There were some things in his tale that didn't seem to add up, but you were in a desperate position. If what he said was true, you had been caught up in events beyond your knowledge, and you could not scheme until you know more. Unfortunately, being under house arrest, your only source of knowledge would be these mysterious masked people, and that could be unreliable.


A. You will murder the Prince, according to their plan. Power is at hand! Becoming the Emperor of the Empire is all you have ever dreamed of, and thought you would never accomplish. Now that the chance has fallen in your lap, there is nothing to do but take it. Should history regard you as a coward who dared not reach for his dreams?

B. You will lead the two assassins to the Prince, then kill them in front of him and pretend they had forced you to do everything that he knows you have done - whatever it is that he knows. You really aren't that interested in being top dog, you just want to be second. Besides, you don't trust these people.

C. You will have no part of this. No more plotting, no more scheming, no more risk-taking... at least for now. You refuse the masked man's plot.

Chapter 7.7: Spinning a Web

Chapter 7.7: Spinning a Web

The madman's attack came unexpectedly to all but a few. He may have been mad, but beneath that madness lay a cunning mind well versed in tactics. As smoke rose over the night skies of Ankida, the invader's rabble somehow having gained access to the city, you made your move. It was going to be a long night.

In the confusion of the attack, you managed to secure your way to the Prince without much trouble. You convinced those you met that Runikylos had ordered your release to assist him because of the attack, and by the time you reached the Prince's study, your assassins seemed very at ease around you.

That was good.

You opened the door. Runikylos was within, reading his notes alone. As he looks up and sees you, he begins to ask something, but you don't hear it. The assassins have already drawn their knives. This was a scenario that you had rehearsed in your mind many times over the past five days, and surprisingly you found a memory of the long gone Emperor that was of use.

You breathe in, deeply. Just as you practiced. Then, you act.

A quick lash from your mind disarms one of them, knocking their knife into your hand. With a movement you've practiced in your mind a thousand times, you slide it deep between his ribs and twist. Then, things become different from your mental practice sessions - the knife gets stuck. You tug at it but it refuses to move, and by that time it was too late to defend yourself. Your former ally comes at you in a fit of emotion while you are trying to pull a knife out of his dead friend. Before he can strike, he crumples to the floor, a dagger in the back of his neck.

Aodh stood behind him. You had not seen him when you entered. On his face was the same lifeless expression he had worn when he fell, his dead eyes staring right at you.

"What are you doing here?" His voice was as devoid of warmth as his expression. Was this the true Aodh, or was it another mask?

"Saving the Prince, what does it look like?"

With a sudden move, he grabs you by the throat and raises a dagger.

"Tell me again, what are you doing here?"

You grin defiantly and choke out your words.

"I'm saving the Prince's ass, you bastard."

"Enough, Aodh. Release him."

At the Prince's command, Aodh let you go. You smile at him, and then turn to the Prince, bowing.

"Your Highness, do you need an explanation for all this?"

Runikylos nods. "Please do." You begin your explanation, with Aodh staring at you all the while.

"This men... they claim themselves to be something called the Watchers, have been threatening me for quite some time. Tonight they tried to make me kill you, Your Highness, but my good conscience could never let that happen. Not after all you have done for me. I pretended to agree and lead them here... and, well, you know the rest, my Prince."

Runikylos looks at you, his slate-grey eyes unreadable. "What of your father and your betrothed?" he asks quietly. Ah, it seems like Aodh has been telling him stories... or had he been the one behind all this in the first place? Did the Prince have a more cunning mind than you gave him credit for?

It was lucky that you had enough regret - at being jerked around on a string by these masked men - to summon up a remorseful confession.

"I would not have done it without them." It was the truth. You would not have done it. At least, not that way, not without the opportunities they had provided. "They told me they had swapped my father's medicine for poison, and they had the antidote, but I did not know they would force him to kill himself! Neither did I know they would attempt to get Thania..." Your voice breaks down into a whisper. "I have lost my family because of them, my Prince. But I will not lose my good friend to them. That is why I could not complete this task that they assigned to me."

The Prince nods. "Aodh, are you happy now? You could've just fell because of a breeze. Dio is innocent, and a trusted friend. Seriously, I can't believe I let you go ahead with your silly plan to test his loyalty." Runikylos laughed cheerfully. Aodh looks at you, as if attempting to discern something, but then sighs and turns back to Runikylos. "Very well, my Prince. If you think he can be trusted after all this, then I will defer to your decision. Still..."

He walks over to you and grabs your arm.

"Do you mean the Prince any harm? Do you swear on it?"

You stare at him seriously. "I swear, on my own honour and conscience, and the name of my dead father Velius Camna. I mean the Prince no harm." Of course you don't. Why kill the golden goose? A look of distaste passes across Aodh's expressionless face, but he nods.

"Then you can be of use, for now."

"The same to you, clerk."


In the confusion of the raid, the Watchers had struck quickly and efficiently. As you looked through the list of the dead, you found that the targets had been people who were not the most prominent, but had a crucial role in swaying both public and noble opinion. The ones who died hailed from many factions, including Runikylos's own. If there was a secret war going on, it was probably much larger than you had expected. In the mean time, you had become part of Runikylos's inner circle, one that included his own Watchers.

"Master Ean."

You close your book and set it down, taking up a glass of wine instead.

"I was expecting you."

"Master Ean, why did you betray us?"

"Did I?"

"We were going to bring you to power, Master Ean. You killed two of our men!" Your lips twist into an amused sneer. This was the first time you'd seen a masked man lose control of his voice. As he attempted to rise from his kneeling position, he found that he couldn't. You held him down gently with your mind. For a while he struggled, and you wait until he settles down before you continue the conversation.

"I ask you this; why was I chosen?"

"You are cunning, Master Ean, and willing to do whatever it takes." comes a whisper in reply.

"I am cunning. I know that my position will be insecure if I rise to prominence too quickly, as the fiasco with Aodh has taught me. I am also willing to do whatever it takes... including sacrificing two of your men as my pawns. Wait, your men?" You grin. "They are my men, aren't they? You are mine, are you not?"

A silence, then a nod.

"This was a gamble, I admit - a blind and risky move that I was not sure would succeed at all, but it's one that has worked well enough to teach us three lessons. The first is a lesson for you, that I will not be manipulated like some puppet as you please. I have my own will, and if you would claim loyalty to me you will learn to know it. The second is a lesson for me, that I am more important to you than at least two of my men, or else I would have been dead by now. Do not worry, I will not be pushing to find out just exactly how many Watchers my own life is worth. The third, well... the Prince now learns that his trusted Watcher can be wrong and that I am, despite my sins, a good man at heart, I guess?"

"You are wise, Master... no, my Emperor." croaks the Watcher before you.

"I do not need to be called Emperor. I only require that you are loyal to me, above all else, above whatever cause you might think you serve. If I have been chosen for my stunning qualities, then it only makes sense for you to allow me to exercise it as I see fit. That will be the best way to achieve your goals... unless of course you are lying to me."

"No, my Emperor. I call you that because you are truly worthy of retaking your throne."

"What flattery." Of course, you don't trust it, but then again you don't need to trust them to make use of them. They sought to have you as their puppet, but you will use them and toss them away once they are no longer needed. First, however, you will need their help to get yourself a strong foothold in this new world that you have found yourself in - one that is so familiar to the schemes and plots of nobles, yet so different.

You drink the wine. It tastes good.


You want to know more of the masked men's plans, but is it really a wise idea considering that you will be working closely with Aodh from now on? However, if you don't know, you might run the risk of accidentally foiling plans that could be beneficial to your own rise.

A. You demand to know everything they had planned and their reasons. Knowledge is power, and while they are still awed at your bastardry, this is the best time to make such demands.

B. You ask for only the barest outline of their plans, to prevent the risk of Aodh possibly finding out something from you with a careless word.

C. You want to know nothing. The less you know, the less you can leak out. If you know nothing, you can leak nothing.


You will also need to find out more about the players in this game you find yourself in if you're to survive. You need information. There were several people you were particularly interested in at the moment, and who you think you could approach for help.

A. You request information about Aodh. The young Watcher is your biggest threat right now, and you need to find out more about him. If you know more about him, you might be able to find a way to get him to stop suspecting you.

B. The young recruit who had just repulsed the madman's attack was the same recruit that had captured the cultist at Korinthos. He was now known as a hero, and having him as an ally would be beneficial to your public image.

C. The nameless madman who dared to assault Ankida intrigued you. Ever since it was built, the capital had never been attacked, not even during the numerous civil wars. Finding out more about him and contacting him could gain you an interesting pawn.


Your strength has grown further, granting you access to another power. You have gained:

A. The ability to read intentions and feelings by touch.

B. The ability to conjure fire with your hands.

C. The instinct to survive and fight in battle.

Chapter 7.8: Travel Plans

BBA wins, no matter how you slice it.


Chapter 7.8: Travel Plans

The success of the nameless madman’s raid had far more reaching effects than anyone had predicted. That night had seen the death of hundreds and the total ransack of the Imperial Museum by the cultists. In a matter of weeks, dozens of new little cults sprang up, all claiming to be led by reincarnations of the Emperor. Though some were exposed almost immediately as charlatans, most of those pretenders did indeed possess inexplicable powers. More than a few lords and ladies were taken in by their parlour magicks and had raised their banner against the actual Emperor on the throne. It was a real headache.

“It is a real headache,” muttered the Prince.

“The situation is not ideal. With the cold front sweeping the north, our territories there have become more and more desperate for sustenance. It is no coincidence that most of these cults have appeared in the north,“ you say. You knew that these cults were mostly led by people that were similar to you, though your Watchers had insisted that they were parasites off your power and had to be eliminated eventually. These cults were backed by various Watchers, though there were some that operated independently, like the Cult of the Returned Emperor. According to them, your – Ean’s – power had been inherited by these cults somehow, and as the original incarnation of the First Emperor, it was your destiny to defeat the pretenders and retake your throne. To that end, they would kill and manipulate events so as to bring you to power, eventually. You could sense that their goals were probably sincere, but there was still something they were not telling you. You had refrained from questioning them too much after you had found out that your good friend Aodh was possibly a mind reader. You were sure that he still suspected you, though you could read nothing but friendliness from Runikylos himself.

“The most problematic of the cults is the one that assaulted the capital, but the Cult of the Returned Emperor in Skane and the Martyrs of Ean in Gallia have managed to rally several minor lords and ladies to their cause,” says Aodh.

“Of course, there are reasons why we cannot just defeat them by force.” The Prince sighs, massaging his temples.

You nod your head, agreeing. “The Council of Kings do not see the cults as a problem. As long as the cultists do not threaten the existing system, but only the line of succession, it could be an opportunity for the kings. We cannot mobilize the Imperial Army, and the various kingdoms will not suppress the cults for us.”

“The kings of Gallia and Britannia have already met – in secret – with the leader of the Martyrs of Ean, a young woman called Joan. They have plans.” says Aodh.

“So do we, Aodh. Do you know which of those kings is the most avid supporter of the Martyrs?”

The unassuming clerk nods. “Yes, my Prince. King Caio of Gallia. My namesake, King Aodh of Britannia, is merely following his lead.”

The Prince frowns and looks up at the ceiling. “I don’t like having to do this.”

“I’m sure most of us here have no taste for such actions, but nevertheless… it must be done, my Prince.”

“Very well. Do what you must, Aodh. Dio, I need your silver tongue for something.”

“You need only ask. What is it?”

“There’s this official from the Concordiat coming down to Crete for a diplomatic visit. Aodh tells me that there have been some disturbances in Tamur recently, and I need someone to help me find out more about it. We can’t risk the Concordiat raising another of those little skirmishes we are so fond of at this point.”


“Ah, you have some news from your masked men?”

It would not have been possible to hide your continued association with them, given that Aodh was always hanging around in the meetings. You had painted yourself as a double agent, feeding the Prince and Aodh small scraps of information from the larger scraps you knew. So far it had satisfied them.

“The Cult of the Returned Emperor was confirmed as definitely receiving funds from Free Scania. The masked men do not like this cult anymore than we do, and they plan to assassinate its leader, Jannik Inge. They had wanted me to travel to Free Scania to persuade the plotters there to abandon their backing and lead Jannik into a trap.”

Runikylos ponders this for a while. “That’s… an attractive plan. I can see the merits of it, though I think no one is better suited than you to tease information out of those enigmatic people of the Concordiat. Are you sure you cannot delay this?”


A. You head to Free Scania to handle the issue of the Cult of the Returned Emperor, together with the Watchers that are loyal to you. Focusing on defeating these pretenders is your number one priority.

B. You change your mind and agree to meet the Concordiat official. If you play your cards right, it is not impossible for you to secure backing from them, you think. It would give you another source of power.

Chapter 7.9: Scheming in Crete

A - 3
B - 10


Chapter 7.9: Scheming in Crete

Scholars were uncertain whether the mythical Aegean War that preceded the foundation of the Shinar Empire truly occurred, but there were signs of a large conflict from artifacts and weaponry dating back to that time period. It was also then that the people of Crete was supposedly cursed by the Greek god Zeus, dooming them to a life of undeath. No one approached the island for centuries, fearful of the walking dead, but by the time some brave Shinari scholars visited the island in 1116 A.C., they found nothing but strangely well-preserved buildings. It was totally uninhabited, with no human presence anywhere on the island. As their archaeological efforts continued slowly over the next century, the island stubbornly refused to yield any corpses to the scholars. Even the tombs and mausoleums were empty. It was not long after that that the Greeks moved in. They were starved on space on Peloponessus, and it did not make sense to waste good, fertile land - and inhabitable buildings - on the basis of a fairytale. The legendary palace of Knossos was refurbished to become the official residence of the island's ruler, and it had become a thriving part of the Empire ever since.


"It seems that your reputation for throwing lavish banquets is well-earned, Governor Charmion." You raise your glass of wine, tipping it slightly towards the well-fed, jolly chief of the island. He unleashes a deep-throated belly laugh, his rolls jiggling in tune to his sonorous voice. "Just as long as you enjoy it, Sir Camna. Have you seen the bulls?"

"How could I not? This place is full of them. They appear to be a bit damaged though, if you don't mind me saying so."

"It is not my fault, Sir Camna." says Charmion solemnly. "My predecessor was... sensitive about his endowments - or lack thereof. To have Minos's very realistically made bulls poking him in the eye at every corner was too much for his poor ego to handle, I fear, and one day he snapped and took a chisel to every statue. I was here by the next week."

You laugh. "You appear to be enjoying the place, at least."

"Oh, far better than dull old Korinthos, or gods forbid, New Athens. I like it here, despite that feeling you get sometimes that someone might be spying on you. It must be the draft in this palace, it makes one feel uneasy."

You knew that feeling. You knew what was giving you that feeling, though - you had not come alone. Two of your Watchers were around... somewhere. It seems that they had learnt to trust your judgment, though it only meant that you had better not betray that trust. You aren't confident that your fledgling powers would allow you to survive should they actually decide to make a concerted effort to kill you.

"Oh, I don't know. It could be the ghosts of the ancient Cretans. What do you think, Officer Zhang?" You turn to the Easterner standing next to you.

The Concordiat diplomat was named Zhang Su, an officer of the fifth grade in their bureaucracy. As they had grades from one to ten, it appeared that Zhang was smack-dab in the middle of the hierarchy. He wore a rich silk robe in the tradition of his country, dyed a brilliant gold. It shimmered as he moved, almost as if it were made of real gold threads. His skin was tanned, a feature of a man that has spent many years in travel, and he bore the height and grace that separated the Easterners of the Concordiat from the stockier Southerners of the Shinar Empire.

"I don't really believe in ghosts, Sir Camna." When he spoke, he spoke in fluent, if slightly accented Shinari. "The feeling of being spied on is a feeling every human gets. However, if there is one... well, I think I'd like to meet it." Zhang gave a tight smile. "At any rate, I believe there is something we need to discuss, Sir Camna."

"Ah yes." winked Charmion. "Business dealings. I love trade with the Concordiat, Crete thrives on it."

You pat the governor on the back and grin. "I'll make sure you get a good deal out of this, governor. Just keep things quiet. This is for the prince." Charmion gives you a knowing nod, and escorts you and Zhang into a more private room.


"I can guess why you are here." Again with that tight, stretched smile from Zhang. "You are here on the Prince's orders. You have become well known amongst certain circles for that little game you played with his clerk, Sir Camna." You could read a slight tension, held in check by plenty of confidence. Zhang feels slightly different from any other person you had encountered, but you are not sure why.

"Perhaps I am here on his orders. Perhaps I am here for more. Do you know what the Prince wants?"

Zhang shrugs. "I will be straightforward. The royal family of Tamur is agitating for war. They want to reclaim their ancestral lands that the Empire has stolen. We have managed to restrain them thus far to little skirmishes, but they have centuries worth of vengeance that will not be satiated."

"That is very informative. Many in the Empire treat Tamur as nothing more than a Concordiat puppet. Do you mean to say that they are a raging beast held back only by the firm but caring leash from the east?"

Another tight smile. "You know your foreign affairs, Sir Camna. True, things aren't as simple as I have put it, but it is not as simple as Tamur being a puppet for our intentions either. You should know that."

You do know that King Tamur XXX, the thirtieth of the royal Tamur line to ascend to the throne, was a young king fervently believing that his destiny was to reclaim all of the lands his ancestors once held. It wouldn't be a surprise for such a young and ardent believer to lack pragmatism. He was like Runikylos, except with far less brains and charisma.

"Kill King Tamur?" you suggest, half jokingly. Zhang only shakes his head, though you sense he appreciates your suggestion. "He's been lucky. My superiors think differently, but it looks like invasion will happen anyway. It won't hurt us."

"That begs the question, though, of why you are here. Are you telling us this in hopes of bloodying your vassal's nose in a failed war?" There was a flicker of wariness in his eyes, for just an instant.

"Very astute, Sir Camna. Perhaps. Perhaps for more."

You had to do it; he was hiding something, and you had to push him to find out what it was.

"You can tell me, Officer. I'm sure we can work out something... beneficial to us. My prince has authorized me to make any offers I can to benefit both the Empire and the Concordiat." That was strictly not a lie, but you would make sure any offers made would also benefit you.

"What I want is something pretty simple. Have you heard of the Labyrinth of Knossos?"

You had heard of it in legends, and in your memories you have seen the Emperor - you - rescuing a maiden from a bull-headed giant and slaying it with a slash of your sword. You nod your head. "I thought they were just stories."

"It's a real construct, Sir Camna. The Concordiat has an interest in its history, and would like to explore it. Of course, the Empire is unlikely to give us permission, so..."

"You know where it is." It was not a question, but a statement of fact.

"Yes, that is why I'm here." He was indeed here for the Labyrinth. You smile at Zhang. "What can I do for you, then?"

"We need you to open the door."

"That's an amazingly simple request, Zhang. Why do you need me? I am sure there are plenty of other doormen willing to help you."

"It has to be you, Sir Camna, and no others. You are special, are you not?" Zhang's tight smile splits to show his teeth, widening into an ugly grin.

You struggle to keep your nerve. If it was the Labyrinth of legends, associated with the First Emperor, there was probably only one reason why they'd need you. They knew of your powers, and somehow that was needed to open the door. Your mind starts whirling. Did they know from your Watchers? Did they have an extensive spy network of their own? Could Runikylos have sold you out to them? After all, this was his idea, though your Watchers haven't reported anything on him having any contact with the Concordiat. In fact, from what you knew, few people in the Empire had any contact with the Concordiat, beyond that of the usual trade links, illegal or otherwise. You keep your composure and give Zhang a winning smile.

"What happens if I don't?"

"Then you don't, and we go on our separate ways. We have other ways we can try. If you do, then matters in Tamur will be resolved to your pleasure. I think that is incentive enough." said Zhang matter-of-factly, and that was that.


A. You accept the offer. This is why you were here, were you not?
1. You ask for the invasion to be halted. This would improve your standing in Runikylos's eyes.
2. You want Tamur. Obtaining kingship by conquest is an old tradition, and you know just the right puppet for such a purpose. Without Concordiat support, Tamur would fall easily once it started a fight.
3. You want something else (Propose your own reasonable option).

B. You reject the offer, going your separate ways. This was a bit too risky for your tastes. Best not to do anything strange for now, until your Watchers can find out more about the Concordiat's intentions.

C. Your Watchers are close by. You attack Zhang to bring him in for interrogation and find out what he knows. You can dispose of him quietly once you are satisfied. The currents around Crete can be treacherous at times.

Chapter 7.10: Guns and Glory

Chapter 7.10: Guns and Glory

“You ask for the impossible, Sir Camna. The latest firearms we have? I am just a middling bureaucrat in the cogwheels of the Concordiat. I would not be able to procure them, even if I desired to.”

“Well then, the deal is –“

“But,” Zhang cut you off swiftly, “I can see if certain places might have some surplus of old equipment that they had lost. Who knows, some enterprising, greedy foreign trader might have picked them up somewhere.”

“Not too old, I hope? I’m sure even the Concordiat does not keep antiques in its military storage.”

“You would be surprised at the things we keep for posterity, Sir Camna. As the saying goes, the Tree in winter wastes not a leaf. But you need not worry about that.”

“I certainly hope not, Officer Zhang. Now, about that door you were talking about…”


“The governor was eaten by the walking dead,” sighs Runikylos, waving the latest missive he had received from Greece. “The island is lost.”

In hindsight, opening the Labyrinth might have been a bit risky. The door was somewhere in the interior forests of the island, far away from the palace. It had been a neat little stone affair, with a receptacle set squarely in the center. Zhang had asked you to make a pinprick on your thumb to draw blood and then press the digit firmly into the receptacle. You did so, and the door swung open. What happened next you did not know, as you were not keen on following him into the dank depths. By the time the first reports of dried corpses wandering around eating people alive appeared, you were already back in Ankida for some time.

“Are you sure? We haven’t had a case of the dead coming back to life since… well, since the gods walked with men.” You had nothing to do with it, you were sure. At least, you had to convince yourself so. After all, where was the proof that opening the door led to the emergence of the undead? In fact, it really didn’t matter to you what happened to Crete anyway. People come and go, and it was only a moderately important trading post.

“At any rate,” continued the prince, “at least you had discovered the Concordiat’s intentions behind Tamur’s recent actions.”

“Yes, further reports after that confirmed the officer’s story. For now the Concordiat appear to be holding Tamur back, but there’s no telling whether he will do something stupid.”

“I’m assuming you had something to do with that?”

“I might have, but state secrets must be kept secret, no?”

“Well,” laughed Runikylos, “I’m glad you’re on my side, Dio.”

You were glad he thought that way. You had not heard from Zhang after he entered the Labyrinth, but seeing as Tamur was posturing but not attacking, you were relatively certain your bargain had been upheld. There was still a part of it to be fulfilled, and your sources have told you that it would be fulfilled tonight.

“By the way, you have heard about Skane?” asked Runikylos suddenly. You nod.

“The young First Prince Dagrun is missing, and the Cult of the Returned Emperor are claiming responsibility. Things are tense up there. I… maybe I should have just let you go north.”

“There is no time for regret, my prince. How about Aodh?”

“That is another problem. The last dispatch I had from him stated that he had successfully infiltrated the Martyrs. That was a month ago.” The prince sighs heavily. It seems as if he had aged years in the couple of months since you last saw him. “I’m sorry to ask this of you, but could I trouble you to help me with Aodh? We need to make sure the Martyrs don’t gain any more influence after what has happened in Skane.”

“I’ll have to think about what to do first, Runikylos. Can I let you know tomorrow? I find that I do my thinking best in the bar. Are you coming?”

“No, there’s still plenty of work today. I hear Ban is back though. You might find him there.”

“I know.”


“Ban! I hope you enjoyed your little trip to the barbarian tribes?”

The rising star of the Imperial Army and the man who faced off with the Madman of Anatolia, Ban of Heliopolis, was a boy even younger than Aodh. He was, however, old enough to drink and whore, and it was with those vices that you tempted him into your company. He had fallen under your spell soon enough, even before your Watchers had let you know that he was one of those who possessed powers, like you and Aodh.

“It was crap.” Ban shook his head sadly. “The weather was horribly cold, and the Madman of Anatolia as cunning as ever. I managed to track him down but once, and he got away during the fight.”

Ban had been sent out with two dozen soldiers, among them the Prince’s Watchers, to hunt down the lunatic that had dared lead his rabble to storm Ankida, an action that had previously been regarded to be as impossible as touching the moon. It looks they returned empty-handed. “Ah, we’ll get him next time. Don’t be down on yourself, kid.” You slap him on the back. He grins boyishly, going back to his drink. “Next time you should be there to help me.”

“You know I can’t fight.” It was true. You had sparred with Ban once before, and he knocked you flat on your back before you even landed a single hit. “Remember what happened the last time we fought?” Hearing that, Ban denies your lack of fighting ability. “That’s not true. I’m just… better? You’re fast and you don’t hesitate to strike. Most of my fellow soldiers would find it hard to beat you.”

“Ha, fair consolation, that, coming from the Hero of Korinthos and Ankida. I hear they’re already writing a play about your exploits. Maybe you can bring a girl along to watch it.”

At that, he blushed, his ears turning deep red. You knew which girl he was thinking about – the young prostitute that took his virginity, Mirsani. You knew her well and in fact had hired her for just this purpose, as she possessed the right blend of innocence and seduction to conquer an untried heart just like Ban’s. You are reminded yourself that you haven’t visited the princess since you returned from Crete, and make a note to do so tomorrow. For now, however, you had a shipment to inspect.


After saying your goodbyes to Ban at the bar, you conclude the last part of the deal that Zhang had offered; the weapons. It had not been hard to bring them in, hidden under a pile of oranges. You knew which of the customs officers were more lax in their duties, and you knew men who knew how to discreetly encourage them to be laxer. One of your Watchers, a scholar named Fearling who had specialized in the study of firearms back at the Academy, was here to inspect the weapons with you. Once in a while you do need people with various expertise in fields you were not an expert in.

“How is it?”

“These are interesting, Master Ean. Fifty long muskets of good craftsmanship. By the handiwork and shape I estimate the base model dates back to the 320th Border Skirmish of 2956. Our current muskets are patterned after this model and would have matched it were they sent back in time to be used then, but it appears that they have made several slight modifications that might have improvedthe capabilities of the firearm. The barrel and grip are slightly different from the war relics our predecessors managed to scavenge. Judging from the slight rust and discoloration, these have been mothballed for quite a few years too.”

“You’re saying that the Concordiat likely has better nowadays?”

“That is a given, Master Ean. They are the experts in this field. We have already seen better weaponry from them in the 331st Border Skirmish of 2987, though that skirmish was so brief that we could not manage to get any research materials.”

“That was very informative. Thank you, Fearling.”

The Watcher bows to you and steps back into the shadows. The capabilities of the weapons were not as important to you as their origin, but it did not hurt if they were actually of good quality. It goes without mention that Fearling would be getting one for research purposes, and the Watchers rarely questioned where one of their own managed to obtain illicit items. You still had more to hand out, though.


A. You give them to Ban and his squad. They will be pleased to have these weapons particularly since they would not know their actual origin.
1. You do so in your own name, letting him know that you continued to care for him.
2. You do so anonymously. It would be extremely stupid to be linked to Concordiat weaponry.
3. You do so under Runikylos’s name, through several proxies. Hopefully any investigation will stop with his name.
4. You can use these Concordiat firearms to frame numerous connected political foes and rivals of your friends in the more seedy side of town as traitors, and begin sowing the seeds of a plot to do so. You link them to the weapons you give to Ban.

B. You will use these firearms to frame your enemies, but you do not give them to your soldier friend. You will find another way to use them in your plots without involving Ban.

C. It is too risky to have these smuggled goods lying around as proof of your dealings with the Concordiat. It is a waste, but you get rid of whatever Fearling doesn’t bring back for research in a permanent, untraceable manner.

D. You do something else with the weapons. (Free-form)


A. You decide to track down Aodh. If you are lucky, you can get rid of Aodh and also accomplish his mission at the same time.

B. The Skane issue cannot be left unsolved. You go north to find out what the Cult of the Returned Emperor are up to.

C. You do not go anywhere. You need to focus your attentions on Ankida while Aodh is not around.

Chapter 7.11: Cold Winds of Change

A3B wins, all the waiting due to the D speculation was for naught.


Chapter 7.11: Cold Winds of Change

It is often said that the old are cynics while the young merely pretend to be so. No where is this more true than the northern kingdom of Skane; some political scholars theorize that the bitter weather plays a role in this. Skane had always prided itself on its history as a strong rival to the fledgling Shinar Empire. Talk of secession appears every few dozen years before inevitably dying down as each successive generation of young Skane, eager and hotblooded to gain their independence, realize that the practical truth of this cruel world isn't something that can be changed with mere idealism, and that to serve their people, power politics would trump brute strength anyday. Still, the youth of Skane are a hotbed of revolutionary feelings that can be swiftly tapped by anyone with the knowhow to do so and the skill to outmaneuver the crusty power-brokers that surround the king. Those able to do so are rare - very rare indeed.

You arrive in Skane at the coldest point in the year, with Father Winter at his worst. However, even the freezing weather does not dampen your gladness to be here. The fiasco with the guns had made it most advisable for you to spend some time away from Ankida and Runikylos; pinning it on the prince, a man with access to more Watchers than you know, might not have been the smartest thing to do, and had left you in a slightly precarious position. The moment Runikylos had heard of Ban being gifted a batch of Concordiat firearms via a minor patron - not a strange thing except for the part about foreign weaponry - he had begun his investigations, and was surprised to find his own name in the mix. Thankfully, your Watchers assured you that the trail was already cold; you certainly hoped you could trust them on this.

With the tensions on the Tamur border subsiding, the Empire now turned its attention back to Skane, which bordered Free Scania and the plains of the Rus tribes. The threat of the Madman of Anatolia was ever present, and somehow he had managed to rally the Rus under his banner. A quarter of the Imperial Army, freed up by the situation in Tamur turning for the better, had been sent into Rus together with ten regiments from Skane to smash the gathering tribes in a pre-emptive strike. Ban went along for the ride with his shiny new guns, having been allowed to keep them via an order from the Emperor himself; the most powerful man in the Empire apparently thought the whole thing funny once he found out about it, as always ignoring the political realities of his empire.

All along the journey to the capital of Skane, Roskilde, you had seen signs of unrest. The long winter had taken its toll on the stores of food. Though Skane had a long tradition of saving and storing their surplus, it was evident that now it was not enough, especially after the population boom of recent years thanks to the Empire's prosperity and advances in technology. Closer to the capital, there were even posters proclaiming the return of Ean put up by villages friendly to the cultists. Reports of corpses washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean coming to life and attacking the living have started coming in and those did not help matters any, as people began to see those as signs of doom approaching the Empire, and by extension, its client kingdoms. It seems that the grip of the royal family on the kingdom has become more and more tenuous in recent months. The disappearance of the young prince, barely ten years of age, had caused even greater loss of confidence in King Aegil XIXI's rule.

The mastermind of the kidnapping and the man leading the Cult of the Returned Emperor, Jannik Inge, remained reclusive despite the cult's increasing influence. He was real; that much you knew from Aodh's report and news from your own Watchers, but he appeared only to the faithful, the blood-sworn members of his cult. He did not make a habit of walking around in public and only moved under the cover of darkness between the cult's various hideouts. Their demands of late had been to elevate Jannik to the throne of Skane and Ankida simultaneously, arguing that the rebirth of Shinar's founding emperor in a Skane man only meant that it was destiny - or prophecy fulfilled, depending on who you asked - for Jannik to sit on both thrones. You wondered if he had a posterior that wide, though you were sure his head was, at least.

In the carriage, you begin considering your options. It seems that there are several initial points of contact that you would have access to, though first you would have to think about what you hoped to achieve here in Skane.


A. The royal family, still stricken in grief over the disappearance of the crown prince, would be an ideal point to start. You should be able to ingratiate yourself to them easily and use their resources to establish a base with which to root out Jannik Inge. They would be even more grateful to you once you succeed, and that is always something to look forward to. Skane was still one of the more powerful kingdoms in the Empire and you would do well to be on friendly terms with them.

B. The ambassador from Free Scania is rumoured to have links with the cult, channeling funding from Shinar's northern neighbour to support the cult's expansion. Of course, his connection with them has already been confirmed by your Watchers. You knew, however, that Free Scania wanted for Skane independence and not for Skane to become the head of the Empire - a goal that differed from the cult's ambitions. Perhaps there was something to exploit here.

C. One of your Watchers has managed to infiltrate the lower levels of the cult. You express a desire to join the cult directly and see if you can manage to get any leads from there. With your ability to read people, going straight to the source would be more effective, and you were not defenseless with your telekinesis. Gaining admission as a young and upcoming noble of the Empire would be easy - you are precisely the type of cultist they want.

Chapter 7.12: Initiation Rites

C it is, then.


Chapter 7.12: Initiation Rites

“Sir Rammu? Sir Ashur Rammu?”

You toy a bit with your hair, now darkened with dye, as you acknowledge the call of the waitress bringing you your beer. There were many drinking halls scattered around Skane, and the Cult of the Returned Emperor tended to gather in those. With a bit of help from your Watchers, you had darkened your hair and complexion. Here they knew you as Ashur Rammu, who you knew as an extraordinary prick with plenty of pedigree but no talent. Rammu had been standing in your way with regards to several legislations that the Prince had tasked you with rallying support for, and miraculously he had managed to stonewall you successfully so far. It was sheer luck, of course, given that you had to embark on missions beyond Ankida so often, but it still nagged at you. As you down your mug, you wish that you had gotten someone to shoot him with the guns you got from the Concordiat.

“Mr. Rammu.”

It was not the waitress this time. The deep baritone was a dead giveaway. You turn to look at the voice and are forced to raise your head quite a bit upward to see the speaker.

“I have heard,” he began slowly, his Shinar heavily accented with a twang that more than showed off his Skane heritage, “…That you have expressed the desire… to be one of us.”

“Yes,” you nod. “I have. I’ve always been a big believer in the Emperor’s return, and given the wonderful things your… organization has done so far, I believe in your goals too.”

“Brother Lamplock here testifies to your honest soul.” The tall man gestured to his side, at an unremarkable peasant grinning at you. ‘Brother Lamplock’ was of course one of your Watchers. “That much is true, Brother Skarfeld, Master Rammu here is as righteous a noble as any have ever seen.”

Skarfeld gives a short, barking laugh and spits at your feet. “Shinari nobles are righteous? Bah!” A sharp feeling of hostility suddenly emanates from the man and he leans forward, grabbing you by the front of your tunic.

“We know who your friend Lamplock really is, Shinari. Do you know?” Out of the corner of your eye you spot the grin wiped from Lamplock’s face.

You put on a frightened smile and shake your head. “He’s… a brother of a servant of mine. What else can he be?”

“He’s a spy. A Shinari spy. You sent him didn’t you?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about! Mr. Skarfeld, I must say you are being very rude. Is this how servants of the true Emperor conduct themselves? Is Jannik not known to be welcoming to all those who believe?”

As Skarfeld grins, his mouth splits wide enough for you to see that he had plenty of missing teeth.

“You speak pretty words, Shinari. Prove that you truly believe them.”

“How do you want it proven?”

“Emperor Jannik desires a tribute of flesh from each of his initiates.”

You gulp. You were not ready to go that far, despite the brave front you put up.

Skarfeld laughs. “Oh no, do not fear. For you, we will not demand a tribute from your own body. We prefer you unmarked. No, your tribute can be exacted from Lamplock over there, who has testified to the honest soul that you bear. His eyes would do fine, though if you would want any part of his limbs I could get a cleaver from the kitchen.”

This was your initiation, it seemed. You looked around you. Of course, you didn’t need to see it to know it, but the drinking hall was now devoid of anyone but cultists. It just so happened that nearly everyone in the hall just now were cultists. Their mood had shifted as fast as the northern wind, turning from friendly and amiable to cold and suspicious in an instant. You estimated there were at least three dozen of them, staring at you and Lamplock. You look at Lamplock, who stares back with a stony face.


A. You attempt Skarfeld diplomacy. Surely you can talk your way out of this? You have no desire to blind a loyal servant and deprive yourself of his further use.

B. You take Lamplock’s eyes. He led you into this situation, he can lead you out of it; even if it means blinding him.

C. In a sudden fit of courage and nobility, you offer your own eye, which is surely worth more than two of Lamplock’s. One good eye is all you need anyway.

D. You fight your way out. You can take them by surprise with your telekinesis and flee the drinking hall before they can pile up on you. This cult is rubbing you the wrong way, and violence suddenly seems very tempting to you.

Chapter 7.13: Into the Darkness

Chapter 7.13: Into the Darkness

With a cold smile, you raise your fingers up to your own left eye. An amused look appears on Skarfeld's face. You had to do this. It would be a bad move to sacrifice a pawn that could be of use to you within the cult. Besides, losing one eye was better than losing two. Steeling your nerves, you plunge your fingers into your eye socket, digging and squeezing in behind the eyeball. It hurt like hell.

A burst of light smothers your left vision as you pry the eye free, and for a brief while you have the disconcerting effect of seeing two different views from each of your eyes; one straight in front at Lamplock, Skarfeld and all the other cultists, and another a view of the dirty floor of the drinking hall, spattered slightly with blood from your exertions. Then you pinch off the last of the ties that bound your left eye to you, and it dropped into your trembling hand gently. You let out a long, deep breath that you didn't know you had been holding in. It was done. Taking in another deep breath, you glare at Skarfeld and stretch your hand out, your eyeball quivering in the cold air.

"I swear my loyalty to the true Emperor, Jannik Inge. This is the proof of my faith, unreplaceable by the flesh and blood of any other person in this world. I would offer no less."

Skarfeld makes a gesture, beckoning at one of the cultists, and she walks over with a container packed with snow. He gingerly picks up the eyeball from your hand and drops it into the container. The female cultist smooths some snow over it and moves back into the crowd.

"You are now one of the Bloodsworn, the ones most beloved of the Emperor," recited Skarfeld monotonously. You could sense that he wasn't altogether pleased at this turn of events. "You have paid the price in flesh, and the Emperor shall return you payment in the form of life eternal. From this day onwards, you live and love and fight and die as one of us, who know the Emperor has returned to us. Ashur Rammu, henceforth you will be one of the lights that guide the ranks of the believers."

He stretches out one big, hairy hand. As you clasp it, you realize suddenly that Lamplock was in danger. You turn to look at him, but the unassuming man already had a dagger in his hand, swinging it at the cultist with an upraised chair behind him. It took the cultist by surprise, slitting his throat and spraying the floor with fresh red blood, but the other cultists were too many and already upon Lamplock. The Watcher did not let out a scream as he was grabbed and beat to death with the furniture that decorated the hall.

Skarfeld pulls you closer and grins again, to the backdrop of the wet, squishy sounds of wood smashing against flesh. "We are sure he was a spy. We do not tolerate betrayal."

"I did not know that, but if he truly was a traitor then this is more than he deserves, brother."

He hisses, low enough that only you could hear it, "Maybe. As it is, we have use for you, whether you are also a spy or not. The Emperor awaits your presence on the third floor." Your heart thumped. Jannik Inge was here. Looking back at the battered body of Lamplock, you knew it was too late to back out now. You were too weary and hurt from digging out your own eye to concentrate on your telekinetic powers.


You follow Skarfeld up the stairs, careful not to show too much signs of weakness. Your empty eye socket had been bandaged and packed with clean cotton. He reaches one of the doors and waits, motioning at you to open it. As you move closer, you picked up a being radiating great power from within. It was almost the same feeling you got from Aodh, except immeasurably stronger. You gulp and gingerly push the door open. It was gloomy inside. You step within, feeling the power wash over you until you could not sense anything else. As your eye adjusted to the darkness, you could see a great bulky shape at the other end of the room.

"Is it too dark?" The voice was soft and gentle.

"I have only one eye left to catch the light, Your Majesty. I'm afraid you'll have to pardon the squinting.

"Ah, that is right. Let us fix that." A sudden blaze of fire lit up the room and settled on numerous candles set around the walls. As the light grew slightly stronger to illuminate the center of the room, you saw Jannik Inge for the first time. The first thought that crossed your mind was that he certainly had enough posterior to need two thrones. There was no point mincing word - Jannik Inge was tremendously fat. You had no idea how he even kept himself upright. He reminded you of a gigantic pear, topped with wispy blonde hair and a well-trimmed beard. His eyes, though, sparkled with a dark insight that told you that this man was not all he seemed. He was naked - and sweating, unusual in such a chilly climate - except for a loincloth that you could hardly see wrapped around his waist. A manacle adorned each of his hands, each attached to a chain that led -

"That is tremendously rude of you to think so... Ashur?" grinned Inge good naturedly, breaking your line of thought. You make an embarrassed smile. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty. As a noble on the Shinar council I am used to judging first by appearance, as that is what makes the most impact on the public. Old habits die hard."

Inge nods sagely, agreeing with you. "True, true enough. I would not like you to get rid of your habits just yet. I have use for you in the courts of power. Come, Fenrir." He raises his right arm, rattling the chain. From the corner of the room, a big pile of fur that you had thought to be rugs unfurled itself and padded over to Inge. It was the biggest wolf you had ever seen, dark brown with stripes of silver adorning its body. Its golden eyes shone with a bestial intelligence. You realize that you could read nothing while in this room due to the sheer power overwhelming your telepathic senses.

Inge absentmindedly ruffles Fenrir's soft fur for a while, and then looks back at you. "Ah, so your name is Diogenes, not Ashur." Your heart skips a beat, but you say nothing yet. "You should've told me earlier! I cannot be a good Emperor if I do not remember the names of my faithful."

"My Emperor, I may be born as Diogenes, but I am known as Ashur to everyone else in the cult. Diogenes is my secret name, one that only my closest family know." A blatant lie, but if you judged Jannik Inge correctly, it would not be a problem. Still, even if Inge did not seem to mind, you weren't so sure Skarfeld wouldn't. "Do not worry. We are your family now. Of course, even family must have its secrets, and your secret is safe with me." Inge gave you a grotesque wink, the jowls on his face quivering as he did so. He seemed amiable enough, but something about all this seemed wrong to you.

Fenrir stretches open its jaws in a great, fanged yawn. Inge looks to his left, and grins. "I have not introduced you to my other pet." He raises his left arm, rattling the chains again. "Come, Dagrun." A trembling, naked boy crawls out of the gloom, moving towards him on all fours. It was the young Crown Prince. Jannik Inge gestured with a smile at a familiar looking container in front of him. "Feed me a snack."

The boy crawled towards the container and peered within. You spot a look of disgust flash over his refined features. Still, he reached his arm within to pick up the contents, and in that same instant Jannik's smiling face turned into a mask of black anger. He pulled his left arm back, yanking the boy backwards until he rolled underneath the Returned Emperor's chubby feet. Inge stomped down on the boy furiously once, then twice. "You need more training, pet. Do what I say." he growled.

The boy nodded mutely and crawled back to the container. He put his face within and picked up the contents tenderly with his mouth. It was your left eye. Inge smiled beneficiently like some saint. "Feed it to me." The boy moved to Jannik, putting his mouth close and dropping the eyeball into his gaping maw like a mother bird feeding a grotesquely large baby. Jannik Inge began chewing your eyeball.

As he gulps down the remains, he smiles.

"Thus our bond is established. You are now part of me, Diogenes."

You nod, keeping your head down. "I am all too willing to serve, my Emperor. Now that I am a part of you, whatever I do to help your cause helps my own."

Jannik laughs softly. "Good. Good, that is what I like to hear. Now, to business. I have a task for you, one that you are well suited to do. The parents of my pet here has been very naughty as of late. I want you to take an axe to that well-pedicured hand and bring it back to his mother. That will probably shock them into doing something drastic against my believers... something that will gain me more support." His eyes flashed darkly, his face now cold and calculative. "However, I want you to do it in a way that only the royal family would believe, and not anyone else. It must only be seen as a rumour, not truth - preferably, the royals must be seen as liars grasping at excuses to attack the faithful. I'm sure that is an easy thing to accomplish for someone like you."

You close your eye for a moment, thinking. "It does not have to be Dagrun's real hand, does it? The hand of any child would do." You cast a glance at the boy, who stared at the floor without making any sign that he had heard your conversation.

"No, he has a birthmark on his right hand."

"Easily replicated, my Emperor. I might be able to find someone to do it for you." It did not matter to you if Dagrun lost his hand in the slightest. You cared not for the Prince in any way. Still, if he survived this, and remembered this conversation, he might feel a shred of gratefulness.

Jannik glares at you. "Fakes backfire easily. I will not take that risk. Are you saying... no, Diogenes Camna?"

You don't have to do it, you know? You can kill him right now and solve this dangerous situation you're in at once.

A strange voice floats into your mind, but you keep your eyes trained on Jannik. As if all your problems weren't enough, you were starting to hallucinate...


A. You follow his orders and remove Dagrun's hand.
1. You follow Inge's plan to the letter, luring the royal family into attacking the cult. For now, you don't see how doing otherwise could benefit you. In the chaos you should discover better opportunities to deal with Inge.
2. You bring the hand to them and inform them of Inge's plot, allowing them to make their own conclusions.
3. You swap the hand for a fake, asking your Watchers to procure a similar hand from another boy the Prince's age. The birthmark can be scrubbed away to 'prove' that their son is still intact. Attacking the cult in a blind rage would not solve anything right now.
4. You toss the hand away when you're sure no one's watching. Fuck this shit. You've had enough of this freezing hole. It was time to get the hell out of here and return to Ankida.

B. Jannik Inge will not be talked down. The time for words was over. Though you still had difficulty concentrating through the pain, you had recovered sufficiently to use your telekinesis again. You grab the axe, pretending to obey, and attack Jannik, attempting to kill him right here.

C. Time to run. You refuse to cut off the Prince's hand, and instead bolt for the nearest window. Sure, it was the third floor, but if Aodh can survive a higher drop, you're sure you could too.

Chapter 7.14: The Wolf's Question

One of these days the gambles will backfire, but it is not this day. This day you hit the jackpot (if you count losing an eye and suffering multiple painful burns worth whatever it is you get in return).


Chapter 7.14: The Wolf's Question

The axe was in a chest, lying among other assorted tools of a decidedly sharp and terrible nature. You could guess what they were for. You grasp the wooden handle and lift the instrument of chopping up. It was hefty in your hands. As you take a swing or two for practice, you head back towards Jannik and the servile young prince. Keeping your emotions tightly under control, you nonchalantly whip the axe at Jannik's neck - at least, where his head met his body. To your slight surprise, it hits home, biting deep into the great rolls of fat with little resistance. Blood spatters over you and red froth gurgles from Jannik's lips. His eyes roll back upwards into his head. Thinking it was over, you relax your grip on the axe slightly. You are immediately proved wrong as a stream of fire sprays from Jannik's outstretched hands and sets you alight. You scream and fall backwards, dropping to the floor to smother the flames.

With a deep, low groan akin to that of an angry bull, Jannik rises to his feet swiftly, surprisingly nimble for his bulk. His eyes were blood red in the light of the fire. He charges at you, fists raised, his footsteps thundering on the wooden floor. Panicking, you focus your telekinesis on his feet and trip him with a well aimed attack. Jannik stumbles, takes another step, and trips - falling right onto you. Unable to move away in time, you are crushed beneath his massive body. The flab flows over your face, smothering your nose and mouth. He struggles to get up, rolling to and fro over you. As you scrabble to get away from under him, your hand finds a grip on the axe still stuck in him. Using it as leverage, you pull and push with all your might. With a wet, tearing noise, it jerks free of the soft flesh it had been mired in, spraying more blood and fat all over you. At the same time, you kick away with your feet. Jannik's body tumbles to the side, his throat grinning widely. A watery bubbling noise arose from the cavity under his multiple chins.

You gasp for breath, trying to grasp what had just happened. It had happened so quickly in just a few seconds. At any time now you expect Skarfeld to burst in, but he never does so. As the minutes tick by, the realization set in that you had single-handedly killed the man terrorizing the entire kingdom of Skane. This would do wonders for your reputation; you could not resist the smile that begins to spread across your lips.

"Ah, and I was so looking forward to having my hand cut off too." complains Prince Dagrun. "The pain would have been exquisite..."

The smile dies on your face.

"I guess you win the bet. That wasn't very fun, Fenrir."

The wolf nods, as if understanding Dagrun.

You might want to repair Jannik before the damage is permanent, young prince.

This time it was unmistakeable - the wolf is the one talking to you in your mind.

"Yes, yes, I know. I'm getting to it. Since you've won, you can do with this brother of mine as you wish. Pity, I was looking forward to having fun with him. You really don't play fair, you lying wolf. I really wanted to lose my hand just like you said the First Emperor did."

Oh, I did not expect this outcome too. It was a long shot, even by my reckoning.

The wolf seemed amused, while the prince was slightly upset at having lost whatever bet they had. You sat there, in pain with burns all over and your empty eye socket a stabbing pain in your skull, and grit your teeth. For the first time, you appreciated the irony of your recent life. You, who thought of others as nothing more than tools for your ascent, have been used and misused thoroughly by various powers beyond your comprehension. One day they would rue toying with your fate, but until then, you would just have to manage the best you can. You stagger to your feet, the axe grasped firmly in your hands. Hurt, tired and confused, your prided control over your emotions was cracking. Glancing at the prince, who was humming while holding together Jannik's gaping throat wound, you raised the axe above your head. Before your eyes Jannik's wound mended, the flesh knitting itself back together underneath the prince's slender fingers.

I think it would be better not to, Diogenes Camna.

Before you knew it, the giant wolf had padded silently to your side, his nose sniffing at your burns.

Come, walk with me.

It was coached as an order, not a request. Turning, he walked to the door and waited. It takes a while for you, in your wounded state, to realize that he was waiting for the door to be opened. You do it for him and limp out after the wolf. Skarfeld stood besides the door, not seeming to notice you or the wolf. As the two of you make your way down the stairs, you find that the other cultists were the same, paying you no attention.

You must have many questions. To be honest, I didn't think I would have to answer them so soon, but here you are. About Prince Dagrun -

"The prince is like me, isn't he?" you mutter.

Ah, you are as smart as the previous one I met. That is a relief. Jannik too is a similar existence to you, and all of you are an existence related to me. Of course, I am immeasurably stronger.

There was just a hint of arrogance and pride in the wolf's tone. It was a statement of fact, and you knew it was true - the sense of power enveloping you had accompanied you out of the room, and it was now clear that the wolf was responsible.

"If you had just wanted to speak to me, you need only make an appointment. Such theatre was not required."

If you think I have planned all this, you are sorely mistaken. I merely play the role of Dagrun and Jannik's confidante. Dagrun is the one with a love for vicious, childish plots. I'm afraid I outgrew those many, many years ago. Convoluted schemes have their time and place, but it is something Dagrun has not yet learned.

"I find it hard to believe that a mere boy, even if he is a prince, is responsible for the same cult that ravages his homeland."

He's not just any boy. You said it yourself; he's just like you. Of course, he has some rather self-defeating quirks of personality, despite his intelligence.

"You're going to say that I have it too, right?"

Why, you read my mind.

You did not think it was possible for a wolf, of all creatures, to actually grin, but you saw it with your own eyes as the lupine snout peeled back to bare fangs in a ghastly imitation of a human smile.

At any rate, I have won my bet and will bestow upon you a reward for escaping the smothering blanket of those great rolls of fat. Knowledge seems appropriate."

"Trust a dog to talk about knowledge when power is all they know. You would not be here if you did not have the power to back it up."

You also did not think it was possible for a wolf to sneer, but he did so, somehow.

You may be right, but you will find that I am decidedly undoglike in behaviour, should you have the time to know me better. Regardless, you have walked brazenly into my sights and that means I can no longer leave you be. Trust me when I tell you that knowledge will help you more than power.

There was a subtle tightening around your throat, and you knew that your life or death was firmly in the wolf's paws. You put on your most appealing tone of voice.

"You have my ears, Master Wolf... or should I call you Fenrir?"

The wolf barked and shrugged.

Fenrir is fine. You have no need of false pretense before me, by the way. It's horrendously pointless - you're like an open book.

"It's good to know I don't need to give a damn about your feelings then."

The wolf ignored your not-giving-a-damn.

A single question. Perhaps rationing my knowledge will help you appreciate it better. I will allow you to phrase a single question in ten words, and I will answer it as best as I can. I think I need not warn you about the dangers of knowing too much, though; it is something you have already realized for yourself. Of course, you might want to chance that risk. I care not.

Ask your question.

Chapter 7.15: The Wolf's Answer

Chapter 7.15: The Wolf's Answer

"What a boring question, Diogenes Camna. I expected something a bit more tricky from you. It looks like the resources that have been made available to you so far have been wasted if you have to resort to asking me about these mundane matters. What they have learned instead of what they have planned, eh? Well, I care not. I will tell you what I know, as promised.

Young Prince Dagrun was the first to realize his powers, so let us start with him. He knows that he and Jannik and you and others were granted the possibility of having abilities that were beyond that of humanity. The First Emperor, Ean, is quite possibly the source of those abilities. At least, that is what Dagrun believes. He feels that all of you are his brothers, and that you are all actual children of Ean. What else has he learned... ah, yes. He has learned that he loves being in pain, particularly since there are no long-lasting effects due to his skill at restoring the living and the soon-to-be dead. He has also learnt that his royal parents are not his real parents.

The Watcher, Aodh, knows a few more things. In his sojourns far from the capital, I believe he has discovered the actual truth behind these mysterious powers. A little less than ten years ago, all of you had resided in an orphanage in Gallia just five days south of the capital. It was run by a branch of the Watchers interested in experimentation with things that are not of this world. There were a hundred little orphans back then. More than five hundred years ago, that branch of Watchers managed to obtain the body of what they think is the First Emperor, though Aodh found that records of that event were scant. It was kept a secret from all but the highest echelons of their organization.

As the centuries passed by, their reverence appears to have become twisted; they became convinced that Ean desired they produce his progeny. They spent many decades pursuing the means of doing so, and finally found a breakthrough in ancient Babylonian documents dating back to the rule of Marduk. By using the flesh of the Emperor, they could - through a surgical procedure performed on suitable candidates - imbue normal humans with special powers. The first to volunteer were Watchers, and they were all driven insane by the surgery. They later discovered that the younger the candidates, the more likely it was for them to come through unscathed. Countless years and lives were spent in optimizing their methods, and the one hundred orphans that are your siblings, so to speak, are the end result of that optimization. However, ten years ago, an order came down from the Emperor of the Shinar, Rennephilio XIV, to cease the experiments and spread the children all over the known world. Of course, Aodh believes that this implies the Imperial family have knowledge of the entire matter and that their hands are hardly as clean as he thought.

Finally, the Madman of Anatolia has learned little - he has always known the truth about everything before he gained his current powers, though that truth is distorted by his addled brain. There is only one important thing that he has discovered since; the location of Ean's body. It is in a vault in New Athens, having being moved there a hundred years ago when the colony was first founded. He believes that he himself is the Emperor trapped in another body, and he will be able to regain his own form once he makes physical contact with the sleeping Emperor."


You had a feeling that the wolf had told you more, but in your current condition you could barely stay awake, let alone listen attentively to the droning voice in your head. At least you were sure you had memorized the important parts. As Fenrir's voice trails off, you slip away into blissful slumber.


When you awoke in the middle of the empty drinking hall, the sunlight shining brightly in your eye, you found that you felt much better. Even though your eye was still gone, the empty socket had ceased to give you any pain - a terrible itch had replaced it making you unsure whether it was a trade for the better or for the worse. Your burns had left scars all over your body, which did not hurt but definitely gave you an unpleasant demeanour, stretching your skin in red, tight patterns. It also seemed that in the excitement of the night, you had injured your left leg without noticing, forcing you to limp your way back to your room at the inn. You hoped that these wounds would heal fully in time, but for now you would not be charming anyone with your looks. A sheet of paper pinned under a dagger in your room told you that 'Emperor Jannik' had decreed that your show of loyalty to the cult was inspiring and for now you were needed to infiltrate the Skane royal family in whatever way you wished. For a few nights to come, you attempt to get in contact with your Watchers in order to obtain information on what to do next,, but no word is forthcoming.

A. You stay in Skane and do what the cult wishes. It would be a good way to both gain some personal power and maneuver against both the cult and the royal family, now that you seem to have gained the cult's trust.

B. You head to the orphanage in Gallia. Aodh may have missed out on something in his investigations, and now that your Watchers appear to have deserted you, you think it is best that you at least pretend to really throw in your lot with him.

C. You go to Rus, to meet up with Ban and possibly the Madman of Anatolia. Some time out on the grassy plains might do you good and if you can use the knowledge you have just obtained to get Ban on your side, you will feel more at ease.

D. You make for New Athens. Ean's body was there, and you plan to get there first before any of these other 'brothers' of yours. The power of the First Emperor would be yours, whether directly or indirectly.

Chapter 7.16: Shadow on the Steppe

A - 1
C - 5
D - 3


Chapter 7.16: Shadow on the Steppe

No news comes from your Watchers as you limp your way east. You are not sure whether they were facing some difficulties or if they had abandoned you, but it seems that no matter what you would not be able to rely on them for what is to come. You follow the trail of the Imperial Army into the steppes of the Rus tribes, seeking to make contact with Ban.

On your journey, you learn that things have not been going well. The invading army had been hassled every step of the way by tribal raiders, who struck in the deep of the night and melted away into the shadows before the Imperials could retaliate. In order to defend themselves better, the Imperials had split up into and established three forts from where they could sally forth to conduct their campaign. You were no military man, but even you saw the folly in this decision. Holing up only allowed the tribes to operate with even more impunity. The Shinari soldiers were reliant on caravans from Skane and Hatti to keep their expedition supplied. These soon became the target of the tribes, who knew the lay of the land far better and could apparently launch attacks from nowhere with little notice. Within weeks, Fort Nileia had fallen and Fort Tigrien isolated to the north.

Arriving at Fort Euphraxes, the closest encampment to Empire territory, you found 30,000 demoralized soldiers who were eager to end the campaign and go home. You also found Prince Runikylos.


"Dio! Is that really you?" exclaimed the Prince as you caught his eye. You had not expected to find him here and were not prepared enough to hide. "What in the gods happened to you, man?"

You force a grin - you were not in pain despite your scarred looks, but you thought it would help to exaggerate your injuries - and bow before the Prince. "The cult, Your Highness. They took me captive and tried to get me to join their cause. I refused, and well..." You spread your hands, allowing the Prince to get a good look at your scalded and scarred body. "Still, I managed to escape somehow. I suppose the First Emperor must be watching over me from somewhere." Runikylos grits his teeth, a frown on his face. "Of all the problems assailing the Empire, Jannik and his cult must be one of the worst. Rest assured I will have those cruel bastards hanged for this, Dio. What are you doing here instead of heading back to Ankida though? You are in no condition to go traipsing throughout the world right now."

"I heard that Ban was in trouble and I had to come and help. The kid's hopeless." you shrug.

"Even in that condition? You really are the most loyal friend I know," smiles Runikylos. The smile vanishes the next instant. "You are right, he is in trouble. Ban was in Fort Nileia when it fell, and he managed to lead the survivors to Fort Tigrien. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, and the Rus tribals completely controlling the path to Tigrien, we have not been able to send them any reinforcements."

"That is a pickle indeed. By the way, why are you here, my prince? Are you here for him too?"

Runikylos shook his head. "No, I'm here to gauge the situation for myself. A prince needs to see for himself the realities of the situation at times. If I stay behind my desk in Ankida all the time I will never be able to understand the gravity of the decisions that I make."

"You mean..."

"Yes, I am to decide whether the army withdraws or stays. The chain of command here has been wiped out - currently we have Officer Garsu of the 67th Imperial Regiment in charge, but the man is both pompous and inexperienced. Unfortunately his fellow officers in the surviving regiments are even less qualified - the man at least has a brain."

"You could cut your losses and leave now, but that would mean sacrificing the remaining troops in Tigrien. If I'm not mistaken, most of the more experienced soldiers were stationed there, were they not?"

Runikylos gave you a pained smile. "It looks like you've managed to gather quite a bit of information yourself. That's right. High Command decided to put their best troops in the base deepest in the heart of enemy territory."

"I don't envy you for having to make this decision."

"I don't envy me either." The Prince lapses into thought as he looks at the shoddy fort. "I have summoned Officer Garsu to meet with me tomorrow to discuss the matter of withdrawal. I would like for you to be there, Dio. For now, get some rest. You look like you've been through hell."

As the Prince turns to leave, he stops and looks back at you. "By the way, I've managed to get rid of the rogue Watchers that were holding your behaviour hostage. Sorry for not consulting with you earlier, but I think you must agree that their usefulness did not offset the threat they posed to your own wellbeing."

You thank him for his actions as he walks away.


"If it would please you, Your Highness, I can prepare the men for the march back to Shinar immediately!"

Garsu was indeed as pompous as the Prince had said. Though he was but six years older than you, he had already cultivated a great bushy moustache that curled around his cheeks. The man's breastplate shone dimly in the tent, with not a speck of dirt or mud to be found on it. It seems that he was keen on returning to the Empire as soon as he could.

"Sir Garsu, I have not yet decided. Do not be presumptuous." muttered Runikylos.

"But, Your Highness, there is no point in us staying here. As the most senior officer in this fort, I must impress upon you the wisdom of listening to my advice. Tigrien is lost and if we stay here so are we!" You keep your mouth shut, observing the situation. Though you could think of a dozen rebuttals to Garsu, you were here on the Prince's orders and not as a member of the army.

"Sir Garsu, the Imperial army operates on meritocracy, not seniority. Qualifications and experience determine who is fit to command."

"Yes, exactly, Your Highness! I knew you would see reason. I did not get the best grades in my class for nothing."

Runikylos's eyebrows perked up. "What marks did you get?"

"70, Your Highness. I ranked in the top 300 of graduates for military tactics and strategy that year, and I am the best officer in this fort." His bravado was amusing, considering that there were usually no more than 500 students studying the martial courses in any particular batch. Still, if he was the best, it must mean that this fort was staffed with worse officers.

"Well, I suppose that is pretty high, Sir Garsu. In the absence of any noble with higher grades than that, you do deserve to be in command."

"As it should be, Your Highness."

Runikylos casts a glance at you. You shake your head. You had scored a nice round 80 for tactics and strategy, though it was mere theory and you were not confident in your ability to apply it in such testing conditions. "Sir Camna, I believe you are also a graduate of the Imperial Academy, and you have taken the martial courses? You scored quite high, I believe. More than 70." Runikylos grins, and Garsu turns blue.

"Yes, Your Highness."

"If you want to save Ban, this fort is yours. I'm sorry I can't do more than that for you. It's either this, or a comfortable carriage ride back to Ankida. Honestly, I'd rather you accept the latter. I don't like you throwing your life away like this."


A. You accept command of the fort. At least this way you would have more resources to call upon to bail Ban out of the mess he was in.

B. You ride back to Ankida with Runikylos. Ban can sort things out himself, and you were weary from your travels. If you thought you were suited for military life, you would have signed up with the army in the first place.

C. You reject command, but do not return with Runikylos. You will head out for Fort Tigrien by yourself. One man may sneak past more easily where dozens of soldiers have failed.

Chapter 7.17: Fort Euphraxes

Chapter 7.17: Fort Euphraxes

Taking command, you reviewed what you knew of the military aspects of both the tribes and the Empire. A population census had never been performed on the tribes of Rus, as the nomads were not under Shinar rule and obviously would not sit still for some Shinari scholar to take their numbers. Estimates of their population, however, range anywhere from 700,000 to more than a million. The number of fighting men gathered by the Madman of Anatolia, on the other hand, was entirely unknown due to the hit-and-run tactics the tribes had employed. Numerically they did not seem to be more plentiful than the 60,000 men from the Empire that had marched in, but no one knew for sure. The tribes fought from horseback with bow and arrow, relying mainly on lightly armored skirmishers for infantry. They were skilled with the horse, and the Hittites often spoke of the Rus tribes as having their children born in the saddle.

The Empire, on the other hand, had embraced a dualistic doctrine of steel and mobility. Their footmen were heavily armoured, influenced by the traditional steel wall of men that had been used to defend against the Terasphagos. There had been no pressing need to change even after the Terasphagos stopped their attacks. These were supported by longbowmen, operating from behind the lines of steel that slowly encroached upon the enemy. Their cavalry divisions, however, were divided into horseback lancers and chariots, which had never fallen out of favour especially amongst the Imperial Army and the southern nations. Though the empire employed a variety of chariot designs, the most common patterns served as armoured, mobile platforms for bowmen - or more recently, musketeers, though those were rare as few horses were trained for the sound of gunfire. Each squad of ten men was usually organized together according to their specialties; ten archers, or ten footmen, or ten charioteers. A regiment would usually consist of a mix of these squads, with regiment officers expected to be able to utilize the weapons at their disposal to the fullest.

Meanwhile, to no one's surprise, Garsu was extremely unhappy at losing his position of command. It took all of your flattery just to manage to soothe his displeasure. Though you would rather do without him, he was still the most competent officer around; your initial staff meeting with the other 19 officers currently left at the fort had informed you of the fact that they were all, to the last man, less competent than Garsu. They were content following their orders, preferably in as cushy a tent as possible far from the frontlines, and when it came to matters of organization they could not be relied upon to coordinate with other regiments. As you settled into your new position as a commanding officer of the Imperial Army, you found that you had to rely on Garsu - who admittedly knew his way around the army better than you did - to keep things organized and running in the fort. He may be a pompous, cowardly windbag, but the man was not without merit.

You did not keep yourself idle, of course. You could tell that Garsu was just waiting for a chance. Right now you kept yourself at the top by royal approval and sheer bravado, but if you slipped up he would attempt to take control of the fort himself. The man clearly did not want to be here another single minute if he could help it, but out of pride he would not desert. However, he and his men had become a persistent source of negativity in the fort and sooner or later he would have to go. In the meantime, you picked up as much knowledge as you could of the practicalities of running an army. It irked you to have to spend so much time down in the dirt with the common soldiers, but your little encounter in Skane has left you quite a bit more tolerant of dirt, grime and pain. You looked far worse than you felt and your scars gave you a hardened appearance which apparently endeared you to the grunts.

The squad officers were made up of a mix of commoners and minor nobles who had not obtained the grades to overcome their social ranking. Though they were less educated than the regiment officers, spending time with them was far more educational - the regimental officers had all scored lower than you in their Academy examinations after all, and their practical knowledge was far outstripped by that of the squad officers.

Learning was not all you did while with the grunts; you also identified those who were loyal to the Empire, those who were less so, those who would be willing to follow competent orders, and those who you thought you could turn into your faithful lackeys. Though there were about 30,000 men in and around the fort at present - which had practically become a town, with more than half the number of armed men in camp followers - there were only 20 regiments. Each of the regiments were over-staffed due to the lack of nobles to lead new regiments. Garsu had not made any field promotions amongst the minor nobles of the squad officers during his time in command, as he had been expecting to be able to return to Shinar soon, not stuck as the second-in-command to some scarred, inexperienced noble greenhorn. Furthermore, the regiment officers appeared to be enjoying the prestige of commanding a larger than usual number.


A. You make field promotions based on merit, creating 10 new regiments led by the best men that you can find regardless of whether they are noble or commoner. Victory is more important than politics, because if you are victorious here by defeating the tribes and the madman, glory and power will follow naturally.

B. You promote only the lesser nobles to command of the new regiments, leaving them in your debt. Commoners have less power in the politics of the Empire, and it makes no sense to curry too much favour with them. These steppes are a lost cause and you plan to hang around only long enough to get Ban and retreat, not to teach the tribes a lesson.

C. You do not make any changes, pleasing the current officers in charge of the regiments. They are more powerful nobles, and you recognize at least 3 of them have a seat on the Council of Nobles including Garsu. It would be wise to placate them as much as you can.


Barely a week into your command, you get news of tribal troop movement. Though their full number was unknown, reports from survivors of attempts to break through the blockade of Fort Tigrien, as well as knowledge about which tribes were in the area gave you an estimated enemy number of about 50,000 men. Now, you had received notice that 40,000 tribesmen were preparing to assault the town of Odessa, a week's march southwest of your position. It was unlikely that a new horde of tribes had migrated into the region from the north and the east, and so you could only conclude that most of the enemy controlling the way to Tigrien had moved on. There had been no news from Fort Tigrien in weeks, however, and you are not sure as to the strength of numbers they still possessed.

Still, why would they attack Odessa? It was a town in actual Imperial territory, and the tribes had only ever raided settlements established by Imperial colonists thus far.


A. You send only a thousand men towards Odessa and send 25,000 men towards Fort Tigrien. Now that the enemy forces on the path were reduced, you should be able to break through and rescue the men still remaining at the fort.

B. You send 25,000 men to attack the tribesmen heading for Odessa. Having the tribes move that far into Imperial territory can only be a bad thing, creating more panic in the Empire. A thousand men will be sent to attempt to break the blockade.

C. You divide your forces, sending 13,000 men each to Odessa and Fort Tigrien. There is no reason why you cannot do both at once.

D. You wait, sending only a token force of a thousand men out to each of the locations in order to scout out the situation more cautiously.


This could be a good chance to get rid of Garsu by sending him on a mission instead of letting him cower within the fort. You could also grab some glory for yourself by leading a force of your own.

A. You go wherever Garsu is sent, planning to deal with him permanently.
B. You go where you do not send Garsu; with luck battle will take care of him by itself.
C. You do not go anywhere, staying in the fort.

1. You send Garsu to Odessa
2. You send Garsu to Fort Tigrien

Chapter 7.18: Silent Fort

A, D and B1 win

Chapter 7.18: Silent Fort

The march to Tigrien was unnaturally quiet. Fog had set in over the steppe on the day of your departure, and your scouts found no sign of any soldiers, tribal or Imperial, as you travelled along the beaten dirt path to the fort. The fog impeded visibility and your progress, slowing down a journey that should have normally taken the Imperial soldiers 3 days to complete.

On the fifth day, you finally spotted the sturdy walls of Fort Tigrien looming through the fog. As your men cheered and began to rush towards the fort, you barked an order for them to hold their position. There was something wrong with the picture, and as you stared into the gloom, you realized that there were no lights on the walls. Despite the persistent fog, there were no torches or braziers lit. You tell the men to set up camp first and instruct the scouts to check out the fort first. Grumbling, the soldiers did so, not too pleased that you had stopped them from making for the safety and warmth of the fort. As the scouts rode away, you explained to them your reasoning.

Some second-guessed you, any fear of a difference in rank subdued by your habit of fraternizing with the grunts, but you managed to convince them to wait for another hour or two.

It did not take long before the scouts returned with their report. The fort was deserted. They had hailed the fort from a distance, though no one responded. The gates had been left wide open - the scouts ventured a short distance in to confirm the lack of people within before leaving the fort. They had also found a relatively fresh trail of foot tracks leading away from the fort to the north, further into Rus territory. The tracks had been made by Imperial boots, and by the looks of it there were about a thousand of them, having departed from the fort about 2 days ago. You cursed the weather - if you had made better time, you might not have missed this detachment. If you rode fast, you could be able to catch up with them, but at the same time you might want to investigate the fort too.

Before you could make your decision, however, a messenger arrived from Fort Euphraxes, shouting and screaming.

The tribesmen had besieged the fort that you had just set out from five days ago with 70,000 men.

You wonder if their previous actions had been a feint designed to draw your troops away from the fort; but if so, you had left the bulk of your army within and they could likely hold out with no major casualties. You don't understand why the tribes had attacked anyway despite the apparent failure of their plan, but you did not feel that it was a problem. The messenger, however, painted a different picture - your well-intentioned appointment of new regiments by merit had created major issues. In your absence, the senior officers had begun to pull rank over the newly created regiments. Either you or Garsu could have held the fort together, although with differing results, but with both its leading officers absent, the senior officers began clashing with the new ones, who were emboldened by your prior support and had somehow gotten the idea that they should have equal treatment. The siege served as the pressure cooker that brought all these elements to a boil, heightening the petty tensions.


A. You return to Fort Euphraxes. They might be able to hold out with the Empire's better defensive abilities, but if any of the officers make a mistake it could mean that the fort gets wiped out.

B. You investigate Fort Tigrien. The scouts had not searched the place thoroughly, and it will take time to find out what has happened here.

C. You follow the trail of Imperial boots north. You should be able to catch up with them if you ride ahead.

1. All of your men return to Fort Euphraxes to assist with its defense.
2. All of your men occupy and investigate Fort Tigrien.
3. Your cavalry and chariots ride after the detachment that had left the fort a couple of days ago while your infantry occupy Fort Tigrien.

Chapter 7.19: Ambush, Campfire and the Young Soldier

Chapter 7.19: Ambush, Campfire and the Young Soldier

The trap was sprung the moment your men made contact. You had stayed a safe distance away and watched while the first of your cavalry was felled by a surprise spear. The tribesmen had probably looted Fort Tigrien for the armor and boots. Before you could think of running away, however, war cries resounded from the foggy plains around you. A rain of arrows fell all around you, striking men and horse alike. Before you knew it, you were surrounded. Despite your aspirations for command, nothing could have prepared you for the messy reality of an actual melee. In the midst of shouts and cries and dying men, the intense emotions of fear and panic emanating from your men overwhelmed your mind, leaving you gaping with your sword hanging loosely from your hand. In the next instant, you are pulled off your horse, and a burst of darkness engulfs your sight.


The first thing you see when you wake is the last thing you expected to see. Ban is huddled in front of a fire, staring into its flickering red glow.

“I've been looking for you, Ban.” you groan, trying to get up.

“You shouldn't have.”

His voice was different. It was colder... older. You are not sure if it was the harsh light of the fire, but his features were gaunt and his eyes haunted.

“What happened? I was in a midst of a battle and...”

“I managed to get there in time to save you. The rest... well, it was too late.”

“You have my thanks, then. What are you doing out here? Where is the rest of the army?”


You frown. Ban had been with some of the best fighting men the Imperial Army had to offer.

“Were you attacked by the tribes?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“What else is there out on these steppes that could defeat 30,000 men of the Imperial Army?” Your voice was full of disbelief, though inwardly you wonder if it wasn't something of a less mundane nature. Still, a force that could utterly destroy 30 regiments was not to be dismissed. Ban reached by his side and brought out a long, thin object wrapped in cloth. A weird sensation filled your body. It was part dread, part anticipation. As Ban unwrapped the object, you saw that it was a sheathed sword, slightly curved in the current Assyro-Babylonian fashion. Though it looked like a normal sword, there was just something a bit off about it that you could not put your finger on.


“I don't get you, Ban.”

“I was given this to use.”

As he drew the sword from its scabbard, the night seemed to grow even more hushed. Even the crackling sound of the flames died down; the ring of the blade as it was drawn from its scabbard somehow drew in all the sound in the world, swallowing all into silence. The metal of the blade was dark, glinting subtly in the fire's light. Though it appeared to blaze as fiercely as ever, you realize that you could not feel its warmth. As Ban stared at it, his eyes mirrored the gleam of the sword. You had a sudden urge to grab it from him, but something told you that it would not be the wisest of ideas.

“I was given this to awaken it.” whispered Ban.

You laugh nervously. “What's the story behind that sword?”

He shrugged, his eyes still on the sword. “Orders from above.” He tittered, slightly. It was a sound you had never heard him make before, and you fear that he might have gone off the rails just like the man he pursued. “They did not tell me how to do it, but that accursed madman showed me how. He laughed and he disappeared.” His voice dropped low, growling in anger. With a grunt, he sheathed the sword. Colour seemed to come back into the world, the warmth of the fire soothing your skin again.

Ban ran his fingers through his tangled, dirty hair. Now he just looked tired, but he seemed to have brightened up compared to before he drew the sword. You raise your hand outwards, curious about the sword. "It's an interesting blade. Do you think you could let me have a look at it?" He did not reply, but the dark scowl - almost murderous, if you felt it correctly - that you got in return told you the answer.

“At any rate, I carried out my orders. Now I'm to return this to the capital,” Ban sighed, shaking the sword in the air. “I don't want to think of anything else. Get some rest, Dio. Tomorrow we will stop by Tigrien, then we will head for Euphraxes.”

“Ah, there is a slight problem there,” you groan. “About seventy thousand tribesmen are besieging Fort Euphraxes.”

Ban sighs, “If that's the case, we will head directly for the Hittite border.”

“Wait, you aren't going to aid the fort?”

He shook his head. “I'm done. The fort's done. We won't get there in time to do anything, and even if we did, there's not enough of us to make a difference. Well...” It seemed as if he was going to say something, but he stopped there and shook his head again, deciding not to say what he thought. “No, it won't make a difference.” You could feel that there was something he could do to make a difference, which he is not telling you.

You wonder what Ban had been through, to change him so much. Certainly this wasn't the same youth you knew just a scant few months ago.


A. You insist on persuading Ban to try and rescue Fort Euphraxes, reminding him of the favours he owes you. The ramifications of a fort with the remnants of the expedition falling would be quite severe, not to mention your reputation is on the line here. You had just led your men into an ambush, and before that you had left Fort Euphraxes in somewhat of a messy predicament. This would not help your name when you return to the capital, not to mention that Garsu might still be alive and beginning to spin a tale of your incompetence.

B. You head towards Imperial lands with Ban, who seeks to return the sword. Something about the sword intrigues you greatly, however, and you sense that you could probably gain a great deal of power if you make it yours. It is clear he won't give it to you, so you must wait till his guard is down before you take it. Your experiences have taught you that political power is transient and the only power you can count on is your own. If you manage to do it quickly, you could even have time to return to Fort Euphraxes yourself to save the day.

C. With or without Ban, you are going back to Fort Euphraxes. You do not know how you are going to pull it off, but you are sure you will find a way to triumph once you reach there. You allow Ban to go on his way while you travel back to fix your mistakes.

D. The sword sounds like a bad idea to you, but it could be another way for you to gain glory. Ban being the way he is, you are sure you can manage to claim partial credit for 'escorting' him back to Ankida. At the very least this is the easiest way to salvage something from this disastrous Rus adventure.

Chapter 7.20: Massacre at Fort Euphraxes

Chapter 7.20: Massacre at Fort Euphraxes

"The Empire needs your help at Euphraxes. Ban, you're the only one who can save them."

"I have orders to return the sword once it awakens."

"Ban, listen to me. You have your orders, yes, but you must do the right thing here." Of course, the right thing was to salvage your reputation somehow, and Ban was the only way you could do that now. "The lives of 30,000 men depend on you."

"The lives of 30,000 men depended on me." he said, blankly.

"Ban, for the Emperor's sake, just listen to me. Have I guided you wrong so far? Have I lied to you about anything? I am right on this one, and you know it." You have no choice but to pressure him, pushing him into deciding your way. "Are you going back to Mirsani and tell her that you let a full quarter of the Imperial Army die to some violent barbarians because one of your superiors wanted you to return his silly sword? It's just a useless blade -"

"It's not, Dio."

"Well, in the greater scheme of things, it isn't!" You weren't too sure about that yourself - the one thing you were certain about was that you could probably put it to better use than Ban... in the greater scheme of things.

"Dio, I... I don't know..."

He looked confused now, like the young man he really is. You press your advantage.

"You are the best soldier in the army. I know that... everyone knows that. I can't be like you, or else I'd already be at Euphraxes myself. This is something only you can do. Ban, orders are orders, yes, but what do you really serve? The oath of the Imperial army is to the precepts of the Empire and to the Imperial family, who are the living embodiment of those principles."

"My mission with the sword was an Imperial decree. I serve the Imperial family" Ban whispers. It came only as a slight surprise, but you do not falter.

"So what? Does it matter if the Emperor himself wants the sword back immediately? Think, Ban. You are only delaying its return to save the lives of tens of thousands of his loyal men. Any good ruler would do just about anything to ensure the safety of his loyal subjects, and all the Emperors who have ruled by the Empire's precepts are good rulers. Are you implying that our Imperial family are not good or just?" Ban kept silent, looking away.

"I have done so much for you so far-"

"I know that!" he growls, but you do not miss a beat. "So if I can ask for a favour in return, I ask only this. Save the men in Fort Euphraxes. They are your brothers in arms." You get on your knees, preparing to prostrate yourself before him. "I have never asked you for anything before this. My friendship was always given freely, without asking for recompense. But if there's one thing that I want you to do, as a friend of mine..."

"Dio, that's enough. I'll do it." Ban spoke in resignation. "I'll help you, so that's enough."

As you smile at him, you see that his face remains solemn. "You are my friend, right?" he asks. You nod firmly. "Till the end of time, Ban."

"This sword... I can't lose it. But if I go into battle with it, I might lose myself. If that happens... can you take care of it?"

You nod again. "Leave it to me." He heaves a sigh of relief. "I knew I could trust you, Dio." You give him a grin. "So, what next, Ban? We need to go back to Tigrien to gather the men still there..."

"There will be no need," Ban says with a slight smile on his lips. "Another thousand men would do nothing. You said it yourself; this is something only I can do. I alone am enough. Put your trust in me to the end."


The nomadic tribesmen had set up encampments scattered around the fort with no real organization. The fog had cleared, allowing you sufficient vision of the entire area. You had only ever seen so many men and horses gathered in one place during festivals in Ankida. You and Ban were perched on a nearby hill, having disposed of several sentries on your way. "There, you see?" Ban pointed to a large black banner fluttering above one of the largest camps.

"The Madman of Anatolia is here. That is his standard - the tribesmen use none." His teeth gleamed in a feral grin as he unsheathed the sword he had been tasked with awakening. As before, when he drew it the world seemed to go still and silent, the ring of metal on sheath absorbing all noise. "Wait, you're going into that alone? Ban-"

Your words go unheard, as he leaps into action.

You had never seen anyone move that fast. Within minutes alarms had been raised, but fire had somehow exploded over the first camp Ban had hit. Invisible waves seemed to surge forth from his wake, tossing aside man and horse alike. As time ticked away, more and more of the tribal encampments became nothing more than smouldering wreckages. It was not long before you saw men trickling away from the camps, attempting to flee Ban's whirlwind of destruction. Horns were blown as the tribal leaders tried to rally their troops, but the continued screams of dying men told you that it was of no use.

"How am I supposed to stop that?" you murmur to yourself.

As the battle against one men reaches the camp where the Madman was purported to be, a dark shadow, jet black even in the sunlight, enveloped the area. At the same time, the gates of the fort opened up. It seems as if the defenders had decided to sally forth, encouraged by the havoc wreaked upon their besiegers. They charged into the fray, attempting to meet up with Ban - and began to scream in the same way their tribal enemies had. Imperial soldiers were hurled into the air as if they were ragdolls.

Had Ban lost control?

At the same time, the shadow faded, and you spotted a lone man riding away from the carnage. It could be the Madman, but you were not entirely certain.


A. Your promise to Ban notwithstanding, you cannot let him cut down his own allies. You rush to stop him before the damage becomes too deep to repair, though you are not sure if you are actually capable of stopping him in his tracks.

B. Capturing the madman now and allowing Ban to slaughter Imperial men would both increase your stature and decrease his at the same time. You could not wish for a better scenario - you intercept the fleeing man.

Chapter 7.21: Ban's Butchery

Chapter 7.21: Ban’s Butchery

As you stumble down the slopes, towards the wrecked camps, the fears of the dying assault your mind, just like they had before during the ambush near Tigrien. You pay it no heed; you would be a poor excuse for a man if you allowed such matters to affect you twice, particularly if you knew it was coming. Shrugging off the mental agonies of Ban’s victims, you make your way towards where he was with ease. Most of the surviving tribesmen were more desperate to flee the area, hauling the wounded, than accost a man bearing the fittings of Imperial command. Despite the chaos left in his path, it was not hard to find him – you just had to follow the screams.
He had truly left behind a twisted road of carnage. Once or twice you almost slip on the blood and the mud that garnished the plains. As you progress, the corpses you find become more and more unrecognizable, nothing more than lumps of flesh smeared across the hellish landscape. Here and there, dried husks of men were petrified in their death; some fallen, some standing, but all of them with horrible expressions of agony upon their faces. You were not sure which was the better death, and wonder just what monster you had guided to this place.

As you round the corner of a burning camp, you see him.

His back was turned to you. That black sword he carried was buried in the chest of a regiment officer of Euphraxes, kneeling at his side. You recognized the face; one of the new officers that you had promoted, though you could not recall his name at this moment. As you paused, the officer shrieked in agony as strange veins floated to the surface of his skin all over his body, pulsating deeply with life. Then, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they vanished, together with his vitality. His skin cracked and his body withered, and as Ban pulled the sword free, the officer remained on his knees, his death mask the fabric of nightmares.

The sword itself seemed livelier than the last time you saw it, you thought… but then again, how could a sword be alive? Despite your misgivings, you could sense a malevolent sentience about Ban that was not him. The dead officer’s guards, who had been rooted to their position a few metres away from where their leader had fallen, turned to run, their minds filled with nothing but blind panic. In a blink of an eye Ban was upon them, tearing into them with blade and fist. Those struck by his sword shared the fate of their officer, but the others were smashed into so much mulch by repeated blows. As several soldiers have their legs twisted and snapped by an unseen force, sending fragments of white bone flying through the air, you realize that he was also using telekinesis to grab and crush them, though at a level clearly higher than your own power.

Ban strode away from you, over the dead bodies of Imperials and tribesmen alike. The regiments that had sallied out were either wiped out or fleeing; you could see the gates of Euphraxes closing and hear the cries of men urging it to shut faster, before Ban reached the fort. The gates slammed shut just before he got there, and he let loose an inhuman howl of rage that chilled you to the bone. Raising his arms, he pounded his fists against the gates. You had expected it to be a futile expression of rage, but to your surprise, the gates shook. As he howled again, and smashed himself against the gates again, a worrying, creaking noise signaled that the fort’s gates would not hold for long.

At times like this, you had to think, and think quickly. How did you feel about this?


A. Prudence is called for in such situations. Ban cannot possibly fight forever. Let him exhaust himself in the fort, on the men remaining, and when he is tired you can try to mop up this ‘tragic’ situation you have found yourself in, if there is an opening to do so. You do not fancy your chances of going head to head against such a monster; it would be exceedingly reckless to draw his attention now.

B. You attract Ban’s attention before he massacres an entire fort which you had been given responsibility over by the Prince – if that happened, it would reflect very poorly upon you and no amount of political games would salvage your reputation. You’ll figure out how to survive as you go along; you always have. Besides, you have had enough of supernatural monsters cowing you into submission. It’s time they learned to fear your name and what you can do.

Chapter 7.22: The Cursed Sword

Chapter 7.22: The Cursed Sword

Grabbing a musket from a fallen soldier, you kneel and take aim. You had been trained – briefly – to handle one back in the academy, and you knew at least enough not to have the weapon explode in your face. You pull the trigger. The musket spits fire loudly… and the bullet thuds right into the wooden gates, leaving behind a small splinter. Ban turns around at a measured pace, his bloody face widened in a demonic grin. That caught his attention.

He sprints at you, almost as fast as a horse. You stumble backwards and hurl the musket at him. It bounces harmlessly off his chest. He is almost upon you when you drag up a shield to cover yourself. The sword he wielded smashed against it – you could feel the metal straining, buckling under the force of his blow. A jolt ran through your arm. Instinctively, you roll to your left, dodging the next strike. He was upon you again, faster and quicker than any man you had ever seen. All you could do was parry wildly with the shield. You could feel invisible fingers attempting to wind around your limbs and body, but you manage to break their grip frantically. Though Ban’s powers were stronger, you could still fend them off if you applied your own telekinesis right before they struck.

Ban howls in rage as you continue to evade him. Angered, he takes a hasty step forward. His foot catches in the guts of one of his victims and he stumbles. You take your chance. Charging forward, you swing the shield with all your might, catching Ban’s temple with the hard steel edge. It was a blow that would have crushed the skull of any man. The noise of cracking bone resounded across the plains as the shield embeds itself in Ban’s skull. Then, his hand closes around your shield arm. That grin was back on his face, his blood-stained teeth exposed in all their glory. Was it a feint that you fell for? Ban’s grip tightens, forcing you to loosen your hold on the shield in pain, and before you know it, the world is a blur. You watch the murky grey sky move above you as you are hurled back. Somehow, you manage to land on your feet, your boots skidding in the mud.

Then, an excruciating, stinging pain fills your chest. Ban had closed the distance in the blink of an eye. His twisted, dented mug was smiling crazily in front of you, his eyes sparkling with bloodlust. The accursed sword had been driven through your chest. You scream from the pain, but only an audible croak escapes your lips, the rest of the desperate sound tearing through your vocal cords at a pitch too high to hear. The pain only heightens as you could feel threads digging through your body from where the sword had entered, spreading everywhere and writhing under your skin. In the haze of agony, you were brought closer to the dark sentience behind the blade than ever. The threads made their way into your brain, probing, searching… draining. And then, a quiver of hungry excitement shuddered through the sword’s thoughts, if you could call it that. Connected this way, you knew what it had found.

The location of the First Emperor.

If it could think, it could be reasoned with. This could be your only chance. “You want to get there, don’t you?”

A feminine, gentle voice came in return. “It’s a meal I have desired for ages.” If it was the voice of the sword, it sounded nothing like what you were expecting, and it sounded pleased.

“How would you get there?”

“I will ask this host to bring me there.”

“Ask? You have driven him mad. Go ahead, ask him right now.”

There was a brief moment of silence before the voice returned, slightly annoyed. “He does not respond. He answers only to my hunger. Why?”

You don’t know why, but you continue communicating all the same. “I can bring you there.”

“Ah… to have him as a feast. Ean. Ean.” The sword was near blissful at the thought of devouring the Emperor. “You can bring me there?”

“I can, but I cannot do it if you have eaten me, no?”

“But you are such a tasty morsel…”

“Then the feast of the Emperor will be so much more delicious for your hunger. Don’t you find that having something after a long period of abstinence is all the more… exciting?”

“Yes, yes… you are right,” breathes the voice heavily. “I will not eat you now. Bring me to Ean. Bring me to him.”

The pain subsided as the sword’s presence began to disengage from your mind. It was happy, and had restrained itself from feeding upon you, and in that instant you had realized that it was wide open. You seize the presence mentally, attempting to impose your will upon it.

“We had a promise!” it shrieks.

“This is the only way I will be able to get you to your feast, dear sword. You would turn me into a mindless avatar of your hunger otherwise. Like him.”
The sword rages against your attempt to subdue it, and a vast darkness overwhelms your mind. A deep, primordial hunger permeated your very being as it did so, attempting to strip away all that you knew and remembered. It drowned you with its arguments, telling you that you were an insignificant flea in an insignificant world, and submission was your only chance at survival.

Still, it was not enough to break you.

You are Diogenes Camna. You would be a poor excuse for a man if you let such toys manipulate your reason for existence. You can sacrifice anything at all to get ahead because you knew the universe was your plaything and nothing else mattered as long as you won. Your ego would not be defeated by some two-bit cursed sword the royal family dredged out from some vault.

“No… I don’t think so. You are mine.” You force the sentience of the blade under your control with a harsh effort. Soon it recognizes your logic and ceases to resist, acknowledging your will for now.

“But we have a promise… keep it…” muttered the sword as it faded away.

Your eyes snap open. The sword itself was still stuck in your chest, but Ban was no longer wielding it. He was slumped on the ground in front of you. As you watch, amazed, the sword melts into your body, sealing the wound. You sense that you could call it whenever you wish. You kneel down and check on Ban. His eyes were wide open and he was unmoving, but he was alive. You get no response from him when you shake him. If you were lucky, he would stay that way for good.


When all was said and done, the survivors at Euphraxes numbered about 10,000 men. Garsu never returned from his scouting of Odessa, and you learn that he had fled right back to Ankida with many tales of your incompetence. The tribes of Rus had scattered again, the Madman no longer holding any influence with them after the disastrous siege. They would not trouble the Empire for some time.

Across the borders, however, things have taken a turn for the worse. The royal family of Skane had been murdered by Jannik’s cult; Prince Dagrun had then reappeared to ‘defeat’ Jannik, gaining his allegiance, and crowned himself Boy-Emperor of the Shinar. All of Skane now bowed to him, and he had set his designs on Ankida itself.
Britannia and Gallia had declared independence under the influence of the Martyrs, seceding from the Empire. The kings of Britannia and Gallia had not raised arms, but vowed to respond to any attempts to bring them back into the Imperial embrace by force.

Down south, the plague of the walking dead had begun to spread beyond Imperial efforts to control. Egypt had been hit particularly hard, with reports of attacks coming all along the Nile.


A. You return to Ankida to depose of the Imperial family and take the throne. With the eyewitness accounts of your actions and the mysterious sword, you could definitely succeed.

B. You return to Ankida as a hero, not a conqueror. You will serve the Imperial family and continue their reign, but of course, in the end you would be ruler in all but name.

C. The greatest threat to your plans would be the awakening of the Emperor. You travel to New Athens to make good on your promise to the sword - surely getting rid of Ean now would be the wisest decision you could make.

Chapter 7.23: Diogenes the Hero

Chapter 7.23: Diogenes the Hero

"So, you have it."

Runikylos looked coolly at you, lounging back in his chair. His office had undergone some rearrangement since you left, taking on a decidedly more warlike tone.

"Hero of the Empire. Bearer of the Emperor's Will. Diogenes Camna." he sighs. "I expected Ban to return to me with the sword immediately, but now you have it. You are in a sublime position to undo all I aspire to."

You grin at the Crown Prince of the Shinar as his eyes drift to the cursed blade at your side. "Your mask is off, my prince." Runikylos, you knew now, was a practiced liar as accomplished as you yourself were. He would lie to your face with the most genial and affable of tones, and even with your strengthened telepathy you were barely able to tell when he was telling the truth.

"Hm, pardon me. It must have slipped." A twisted smile spreads across the prince's face, an expression you had never seen before.

"Now that it has come to this, what should we do now?"

"I could feed you to my new pet, Your Highness, if you want to see the fruits of Ban's labour."

"And what a labour it must have been! Remind me to thank him. Where have you kept him, by the way?"

"Somewhere safe, where he can recuperate in peace."

"You imply that he has enemies he needs to be hidden from."

"Everyone has enemies, my prince. Even you, even me."

"I know. It's a sad state of affairs, to be surrounded by people who wish to do you harm even if you only wish to do them good. Enemies... are a bad thing to have." the prince says slowly, as if offering you a glimpse of his thoughts.

"Why, a truer thing has never been said! When you are beset by your foes, what you need most are friends. Friends are a good thing to have, something one can never have enough of."

"And we are friends, are we not, Dio?" Again that grin appears on Runikylos's face.

You bare your teeth in a smile as twisted as his own. "Till the end of time... Your Majesty."


Becoming Runikylos's ally meant that you learnt plenty about the Imperial family's history. How they had begun serving a higher power a thousand years ago, who called itself Naram and claimed to be the god that had granted the First Emperor his divinity. How they had followed this god's instructions, to find the body of the First Emperor and to keep it in slumber. The recent troubles, however, had not been of this god's doing - not that he knew of, at any rate. The experiments on the First Emperor had been started without permission, and the god had put a stop to it when it came to his notice. This heartened you, for it showed that this alleged god was far from infallible. Indeed, the experiments had begun as a way for the Imperial family to overthrow the god, seeking a way to kill him. That he had not wiped out the Imperial family for their temerity also showed you that the god was not almighty.

When you asked if the god was in Ankida, Runikylos shook his head. He had a palace within the wastelands of Olympus, where no one ventured. Ten thousand labourers had been brought there to construct it, and then one by one walled into the pillars as a living sacrifice, and also to keep the existence of this palace a secret.

Of course, now that you were part of the Imperial family in all but name, said Runikylos slyly, he had no qualms about letting you know of it. It was something known to only a few even in the Imperial family, mainly the heads of the most important branch families, those who were closest to becoming the Emperor, and the Emperor himself.


In the beginning of the year 2998 A.C., two months after the Times of Turmoil had begun and the Hero of the Empire had returned from the Rus plains, Emperor Rennephilio XIV met an untimely death as a result of illness. Some gossipmongers spoke of poison, but most rumours told of his excessive sexual appetite bringing on countless incurable sicknesses. Crown Prince Runikylos ascended to the throne as Emperor Runikylos V, and decreed that there were to be no celebrations of his ascension, given the recent death of his father and the troubles currently plaguing his Empire. A small festival was thrown soon after, however, in honour of the Princess Kyriesca's engagement to the Hero of the Empire. Diogenes was treated as the embodiment of hope to the beleagured people, the one who would lead them into a better future - it was a view strongly encouraged by the Imperial family. This was, in most aspects, the same cult of personality that had sprang up around the would-be pretenders to the name of the First Emperor in other kingdoms, but here Diogenes had become worshipped for his own name, not Ean's.


A. Continue playing as Dio.

B. Play as Ean, after a timeskip.

Interlude: Awakening

Interlude: Awakening

It is a strange feeling, to awaken satiated. You had almost gotten used to the persistent hunger plaguing you, but this day, as you open your eyes, you know that your hunger had somehow been completely sated and would remain so for a while.

The first thing you noticed was that you were in a transparent container of some sort - probably glass, though it had been broken from the front.

The second thing you noticed was a woman in metal armour, standing at a safe distance with an uneasy look about her face. She bore a shield and a spear, and you recognize her almost at once, though her power seems to have grown tremendously since you last saw her.

"I didn't expect you to be the first one I see," you speak, your voice croaking. "Still, I'm glad to have made it back." On hindsight, plunging into the void had been reckless. You could remember little after that, and you only knew that you had managed to return when you saw her.

"How long has it been, Athena?" By the looks of the armour she wore, of a design you had never seen before, you could surmise that your world had advanced somewhat beyond when you left it. "I was tricked by them," mutters Athena. "You should not have opened your eyes again." She steps towards you, an unwilling look on her face, an apology upon her lips. "I'm sorry."

You sense that she means to do you harm. Though you were slightly bewildered at this reception, you were not groggy enough that you didn't know what to do. Marshalling your strength, you break free of the container. At the same time, you send out a blast of telekinesis at Athena. It only manages to knock her back a step, but that was enough. You close the distance to where her spear would be useless. Snaking one hand around her shield-arm, you stretch out your other arm and call for Anbar-Shi. It responds, just as it always has, forming from your flesh, soft skin warping into hard metal. The point of your sword stops a hair's breadth beneath her chin. Athena freezes. No matter if she outclasses you in sheer power, once you get this close, with Anbar-Shi ready to strike, she could not remain unharmed.

"You were holding back, weren't you? That wasn't too smart." you grin. With her current power she should've been able to blow you back before you got this far. Then, you shake your head. "Wait, that's not important. Why are you attacking me?"

"Orders, Ean. My orders were to keep you safely sleeping, and to continue putting you back to sleep should you wake."

There were probably only one group of entities she would admit to taking orders from.

"Your masters are around?"

She bites her lower lip pensively and shakes her head. "No, not exactly."

You sigh. "Having a sword at your throat isn't exactly a comfortable position for me to be in. Can we just... talk?"

Athena closes her eyes for a second. "I suppose so. He will not be able to compel me to do anything when I'm so far away. It's a long story, though."

"That's fine, I'm not exactly hungry at the moment. Now, tell me everything."


The Empire held together just fine for centuries after you left, but sometime around 750 A.C., Sekhenun had succeeded in opening the portal she had been working on. Athena had not been there when it happened, but she knew the aftermath. A Master had come through. It had apparently slaughtered all that were present and possessed an immortal known as Naram, who had engineered his own presence at the opening. Whether he had a hand in allowing the Master through, Athena did not know. Upon its arrival, the Master had imposed its will upon the voices of all the immortals he could reach. Athena's voices had awoken again, for a short while, before becoming a robotic call of command. In that brief period, they had warned her that this being was an outcast of some sorts, an entity that had become different from the Masters they knew.

Naram, bonded to the Master, had then headed north to Skane, where he had faced off against the immortal known as Shulgi, who had been gathering power of his own. Despite all his plots and schemes, the victor was never in any doubt, and Shulgi vanished off the face of the earth. Naram himself was severely wounded in the battle, and retreated from view to recuperate in isolation. The next time he reappeared, more than a thousand years later, he had managed to manipulate the Imperial family of the Shinar under his thumb.

You reappeared all of a sudden soon after that, though when Naram brought your body before Athena you were already in an unending slumber. What happened next was a bevy of experiments you were subjected to, under Naram's purview, though he grew bored after a few decades and soon had you put aside in favour of other pursuits. The Watchers and the Imperial family they served, however, had other ideas in mind, and used your body to create many beings with similar powers to your own. In the end, a small group of these 'offspring' of yours had come to New Athens, seeking your help. They were more crafty than Athena had given them credit for, and managed to lure her away while another woke you.

In your unconscious state, your hunger devoured him at the moment he touched you. You know his name and his memories; his loves and losses. He was now part of you, as part of you was once him. Three of them had come seeking divine aid, and now only two were left; Athena had captured them and left them tied up further from the chamber you had woken up in.

You already knew what forced them to make this pilgrimage... it looks like you had a lot of work ahead of you.

The world still needs to be set right.

Chapter Eight: The Divine Throne

Chapter 8.1: The More Things Change

Chapter 8.1: The More Things Change

The man you had absorbed was called Meyes. He used to be a cobbler in a Britannian village, before a mysterious masked man awakened his powers ten years ago. He had a family, a wife and two children, and now you had eaten him. There had been simmering tensions and clashes between the Empire, Skane, and the Britannia-Gallia alliance for most of the decade. You now know, from Meyes's memories, that each of the three powers was lead, whether in public or in secret, by your 'Successors'. This was what the people had taken to calling those who exhibited inexplicable powers - Ean's Successors. More and more of them had appeared about ten years back, emerging at at time where there were a host of pretenders claiming your name. The most powerful of these threw in their allegiance with each of the powers, and more and more of their brethren joined their ranks, as the powers these Successors wielded were a great boon to any nation.

Meyes had joined none of the three powers; his powers were not strong enough to be of immediate notice. Together with the other weaker Successors, he had formed a support group of sorts when war broke out soon after he gained his powers, keeping their neutrality and aiding refugees whenever they could. Soon, however, they had found that their group was not welcome - apparently the more powerful Successors felt threatened by their existence. Pressed to declare their allegiance, they were forced into hiding, hunted by all sides. The desperate Meyes had come to New Athens with only a few other comrades, seeking your aid. He thought that waking you up would be the only way to help them, and to stop the conflict ravaging the land.

That was not what you found the most troubling, however. Seven years ago, a great storm had swept the continent, its eye fixated above the wastelands of Olympus. When it ended, the weather, which had become ever colder, was no longer a problem. What replaced it was something far harder for humanity to adapt to: the realization of their dreams and nightmares, crystallized into living form. Fantastic creatures from myths and fairytales and legends crept out of the fog and mud left behind by the fog. Trolls began hiding under bridges, preying on unwary travellers. Sylphs could be seen darting through the air. Fairies were found inhabiting blossoming flowers. The plague of the walking dead that had begun and ended ten years ago was believed to be only an harbinger of such an event. It was as if two realities had been placed atop one another, the unreal seeping into the real.

Of course, you had always had experience with what normal people would call the unreal, and given what you already knew, you suspected this was all due to some dimensional shenanigans. Sekhenun would be of great help in figuring this out if she were here, but since she wasn't, you would just have to deal with it your way. You put the question of her death out of your mind - no point dwelling on that right now. If reports of her death were greatly exaggerated you would meet her again, of that you had no doubt. If it was true, the final stop of your current course would lead you to its cause anyway, and there would be some sort of reckoning, you were sure. Probably one with a lot of screaming involved.

"We're here. Father, is there something on your mind?"

You look up at the short raven-haired girl talking to you. Her name was Tenebrae, one of your Successors. She had been with Meyes when he reached New Athens, and had somehow become instantly attached to you.

"Look, this is the -"

"36th time," interjected a sandy-haired man with a smile. He called himself Dario. The man was a sharp thinker, and had been the one who had devised a way to lure Athena away long enough for Meyes to reach you.

"Thank you, Dario," you reply wryly. "Stop calling me Father. I look younger than you two, and it will attract too much attention, not to mention it feels wrong." You hadn't had time to be much of a father back then, having left before your only child even learnt to call your name.

"You've lived for far longer than we have, though. Looks aren't everything, father. All the memories I have of you taught me more than my real dad did. Or did you want me to call you daddy instead?"

"Just my name, please," you wince. Daddy was much worse.

Dario just laughed, and set down the gangplank. "You're a walking god. Once you meet the rest of the gang you'll be called much more names than this. I must say, you're not what I expected though."

"Did you expect someone with a great bushy beard?"

"Ha, yes. I expected someone a bit more imposing. There's also that matter about your presence... can't say I feel comfortable talking to someone that my mind says is not there, contrary to what my other senses are saying."

"I just woke up, cut me some slack," you grin. "As for the other matter..."

You concentrate, and project a presence. You had not forgotten how to do so, thankfully. Tenebrae's eyes went wide. "How did you do that?"

"I should be able to teach those with a talent in telepathy," you shrug and smile.

You had just reached a small port in the north of Britannia, on your way to meet the surviving members of Meyes's group. Athena had allowed you to leave without any further arguments, the Greek goddess somehow sprouting wings and flying off. It seems that in your long slumber, you had once again become the underdog in terms of power.

As you walk down the pier, talking to Tenebrae and Dario, you notice a group of sixteen heavily armoured soldiers walking towards you, bearing pikes, axes and crossbows. Their steps come to a pause - Tenebrae was exceptionally nervous. Metalwork had definitely advanced greatly since you left. Almost instinctively your eyes began poring over the joints and seams for any weak points you could exploit.

One of them holds up a board with paper tied to it, and glares at the three of you. "You two are Yellowstreaks are you not?" Dario smiles at the man warmly, stepping forward, and shakes his head at the euphemism thrown at Successors that did not pick a side. "We aren't Successors, but we would be honoured to be mistaken for one. We are just humble travellers fresh off the boat, looking for an inn where we could rest."

The soldier who had spoken stepped up and took a swing at Dario. His eyes narrowed - you sense a flash of deadliness from the man - but he did not step back or retaliate, instead taking the blow on his chin and sprawling to the floor. "Our Lady of the Martyrs has foretold your coming and requests your presence." growled the soldier. "There will be no lies where she is involved."

As you help Dario to his feet, he mutters to you quietly, "I have no desire to be brought before the Lady. She is one of us, except quite a bit more powerful. I don't think she will let us go freely if we come into her grasp."

You glance at the soldiers again. Tenebrae seemed on the verge of cracking and fleeing, and that would certainly draw an armed response from the soldiers.


A. You would have words with this Lady of the Martyrs. You convince Dario and Tenebrae to go along with you and meet the Lady. No matter what she plotted, you were sure you could keep them safe.

B. Sixteen armed men would not be a problem for you even with the unfamiliar heavy armour. You dispatch them quickly so that you are free to go. If the Lady of the Martyrs wanted a meeting, let her come.

C. You fight so that Dario and Tenebrae can flee, but give yourself up so that you would be brought before the Lady of the Martyrs. You will meet up with them again after you have ascertained the Lady's intentions.

Chapter 8.2: The Lady of the Martyrs

C – 10
B – 3


Chapter 8.2: Our Lady of the Martyrs

“When it happens, run. I’ll meet up with you at the hideout,” you whisper to Dario and Tenebrae.

“What are you planning to do?” she replies nervously, as the soldiers begin to close in.

“Something to buy you time. You’ll know when to act.” You sense a small glimmer of satisfaction flit across Dario’s mind as he nods.

“What are you whispering about?” shouts one of the soldiers as he puts a gauntleted hand on your shoulder. You smile at the soldier. “It’s nothing, sir. Do we really have no choice but to come with you?”

“What do you think, prick? You Yellowstreaks do love trying to talk your way out of things, don’t you?” The soldier laughed as he looked back at his jeering comrades. A second soldier came forward with an ugly leer on his face. “Heard Yellowstreaks prefer fucking to fighting,” he grinned, his eyes fixed on Tenebrae. “Maybe that’s what it takes to get you guys to come with us nicely, eh?”

You notice Tenebrae’s hand slowly moving to her back, where you knew that she had a dagger hidden. You turn to Dario. “They’re supposed to be Imperial soldiers, right? Is that what passes for discipline in the army these days?”

“I’m sure these men signed up after Britannia left the Empire. Standards certainly have fallen.” Dario had a slightly bemused smile on his face. His words were greeted with howls of rage from the soldiers, and the grip on your shoulder tightens.

“Shut your piehole, you bastard! Looks like we gotta do this the hard way!” The soldier raises his fist. You steel yourself, waiting for the blow. The metal fist lands square in your face, knocking your head back. There was – as expected – some pain, but not even a tooth of yours was shaken loose, and your feet remained firmly on the ground. You look at the soldier straight in the eye and grin.

“I see.”

Dario took that as their cue to run, dragging Tenebrae behind him. The perplexed soldier tries to punch you again, but you shrug off his grip easily and drive your elbow into his armoured chest. The movement comes to you naturally, rising from your old memories and instincts. He tumbles to the ground, shouting. Now you knew the metalwork in this time had really improved. You were holding back, but you had expected to make a dent in the armour at least. It looks like you would have to employ more strength. Needing no further encouragement, the rest of the soldiers jump on you, starting the brawl.

That was their mistake. The armour restricted their range of movement, and in their rush to get to you, they got in each other’s way. You nimbly weave your way around them, sending them to the ground with a simple push or sweep of your leg. You still needed them to lead you to their Lady; you’d have to leave them being able to walk, at the least.

“Goddamn it, you prancing coward! Stand still and fight!” screamed the first soldier. As you turn to face him, prepared to grant his wish, you gaze into the barrel of a pistol. You knew of these firearms from Meyes’s memories, but this was your first time seeing one for yourself.

“Stop, Captain Tross! Our Lady wants them alive!” shouted one of his friends. It came a bit too late, as the good captain had already pulled back his finger. There was a loud bang. Instinctively your head ducks to one side and you feel the lead pellet graze your cheek, drawing blood. It flew faster than an arrow – had you not known what the weapon did, you might not have been able to avoid the shot… though it probably wouldn’t have made any difference to you. There was a brief, stunned silence from the soldiers around you as the smoke from the gun cleared.

“Alright, that’s enough. A man knows when he’s beaten.” You call out to the soldiers, raising your hands, smiling as you do so. “I can’t fight against a pistol. You have me. Well done.”

Tross shouts at you in a rage, his brutish face uncomfortably close, and hits you with his gun. You feel the soldiers grabbing you, some of them shouting at Tross to put the damn weapon down. Clapping manacles and chains around your wrists, they lead you away.


The Lady of the Martyrs was ensconced in a very comfortable chair in a private room at the local inn. Her pretty, girlish looks were perhaps only a few years older than your own apparent age, but her demeanour spoke of experience and confidence. She possessed the calm of a person that knew that what they had to do in life was right.

“Who is this man, Captain Tross?” Her voice was as composed as her looks.

“My Lady, he is one of the Yellowstreaks. We caught them coming back from New Athens, as you predicted, but the other two escaped.”

Her eyes turned to you, slightly puzzled. “The other two? I see. This man must be just one of their associates. He’s not what I seek.”

“My Lady?” grunted the bewildered Tross, who had suffered the indignity of being pushed around in his heavy armour and would not have it be in vain.

“Ah, yes. Apparently he is a very good fighter. That is what I surmised from your report.”

“But I didn’t –“ Tross grimaced, catching himself.

“The Martyrs of Ean always welcome skilled men…?” She trailed off at the end of her sentence and inclined her head, awaiting your name.

“You may call me Runi. You’re… Joan? Did I pronounce that correctly?”

Tross exploded with rage. “You insolent whelp!” He started towards you, arms raised. The Lady held up a hand and shook her head. “That is fine. Tross, leave us. You are being disruptive.” Grumbling and muttering under his breath, the soldier stomped out of the room.

Joan sighed. “He’s a loyal man, but extremely temperamental.”

“So I see.”

“You are an interesting man, Runi. A man of your skills would be a great asset with us in our battle against Skane and the Empire. Why do you stay with those pacifists?”

“They haven’t given me any reason to leave them, I suppose?” This was technically true. “You and your men seem to hold them in very low regard. Why is that?”

“They have power… some power, but power still… yet they refuse to use it to fight for good. Instead they stay hidden and lend their aid in insignificant ways. If they joined us, it could tip the balance in our favour.”

You run through Meyes’s memories, checking her words. It seems that the Empire had held the advantage throughout the conflict, but they had never pressed it. You weren’t sure whether the situation was balanced enough to be tipped in her favour, but you let it pass.

You reply. “They’re doing insignificant things right now, wasting their strength?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“Why, then, did you send sixteen armoured soldiers to bring them before you?”

She did not waste time with her response. It was prompt and curt. “That is a matter for the Martyrs to know.”

“If I want to know, join you,” you muse.

Joan smiled. “Exactly. You are a smart man.”

“If I don’t?”

The smile became a frown, and she sighed again. “Then you are free to go, though there will always be a place in the ranks for you. I am not in the habit of murdering people just because they are not on my side.”


A. You join the Martyrs of Ean. The organization does bear your name after all, and from Meyes’s memories you think that the Lady is probably the most scrupulous of the three powers right now. They are the ones you have decided to be deserving of victory in this conflict.

B. You offer to become a spy, going back to Dario and Tenebrae and reporting on their group for the Lady. Of course, you actually plan to be a double agent, gathering information and making connections from both sides for your own purposes.

C. You reject her offer and walk away. Meyes woke you up at the cost of his own life, and you will focus your efforts on helping out his group and carrying out his wishes that way.

D. Fuck all this sneaking around. You reveal yourself to the Lady of the Martyrs and let her taste your divinity.

Chapter 8.3: Meeting the Band

Chapter 8.3: Meeting the Band

Joan agreed readily enough to your proposal, that you would provide information on the Yellowstreaks to her. You told her that depending on the circumstances, you might also be able to convince them to throw in with her side. The Lady of the Martyrs now considered you an ally. She told you that she had found out that the Yellowstreaks were planning to revive the First Emperor, information she had gathered from an Imperial spy one of her associates captured. You widen your eyes in disbelief that the First Emperor could still be around, and express your great surprise to Joan. After your conversation was over, she sent you on your way with a travelling pack, but no money. It seems that both the Martyrs and the ones who woke you tend to overlook some things. As it turns out, you had to pick some pockets to buy your way on the carriage to your destination.


The hideout was an unassuming house, and when you were let in, you saw that it was crowded within. There were about twenty of them, all of them having been granted powers from your body. They looked to be in their twenties or thirties.

“You made it, Your Majesty.” Dario was standing at your side, a smile on his face. “Well, of course you would.”

“Of course I would,” you agreed. “You needn’t have bothered waking me if I couldn’t manage to get to a meeting.”

“So this is our progenitor, Dario?” A bearish man with a face full of beard had spoken gruffly. He reminded you of Gudersu, except he was much hairier.

“That’s right, Dalton. The First Emperor, Ean. Your Majesty, this is Malton. Now that Meyes is… gone, he’s the one nominally in charge.”

“Pleased to meet you, Ean. I’m the leader of our little band here.” He held out one big furry hand – you stare at it for a while before realizing you were supposed to shake it, and you did so. “Meyes wanted to wake you up so you could stop all this fighting that’s been going on. What are you going to do about it?”

He was distrustful of you, his tone harsh. You refuse to let yourself be intimidated, however, and give him a confident look in return. The ride here had given you some time to digest the situation. It had been unfortunately interrupted by a troll while crossing a bridge.

That had been a pretty tough fight – you decided their skin could almost be as tough as the Minotaur itself.

“I plan to gather information before I act. Hastiness has led to the downfall of many men. I have Meyes’s memories within me, but I would seek other opinions. What is your opinion of the current situation?” you ask Dalton. He turns his head from side to side, looking at the men and women of his band. It seems that he was unsure. “Well…” he started. “Things are really bad. I mean, we help out people, warn them of incoming attacks, help them evacuate. That sort of thing. If I knew how to solve it, we wouldn’t need to trouble you now would we, Your Highness?”

“If I may?” Dario interjected, sensing that Dalton was getting agitated. You nod at him.

“What we have here are many little conflicts, but no real war. Bands of armed men raid and pillage across the borders with impunity, and the soldiers posture threateningly while it all goes on. This situation could go on almost indefinitely with no devastating loss of life, but the effect on the kingdoms would still be substantial. Our band has operated thus far as a neutral party, helping out the citizens affected by the fighting, but our resources are limited.”

“Yeah, that’s it.” muttered Dalton.

“To help more people, we need more resources. We cannot rely on just twenty Successors to save the world. My Emperor, you changed the world by establishing an empire of many peoples. We do not aspire to such heights, but we do need to obtain support from the common folk to do so.”

Murmurs of agreement spread throughout the room. Dario looked around the room, making sure to make eye contact with each of his comrades.

“Now that you have awoken, and are on our side, I have a proposal to make. It is now time for us to make a stand. Too long have we been called cowards for not picking a side and shying away from a fight. Our detractors know not our courage in rescuing the people from their power struggles, and think that just because we do not fight, we cannot fight. We can. The soldiers that loot the land are nothing more than glorified bandits. Instead of leading people away from them, leaving most of their possessions behind to be stolen, why should we not fight them off?”

“We are all here because we don’t want to be on any side. This is idiocy.” Tenebrae spoke up, unhappy with Dario’s words. He shook his head and sighed.

“We won’t be on anyone’s side. This is my proposal; that we form a mercenary troop.”

“That just makes us on the side of the highest bidder, no?” you say.

“True, but who is to say what bid we deem the most valuable to us? This way, we can intervene wherever we wish. None of us may have any experience, but your military exploits are legendary, my Emperor. I believe your guidance will elevate us to the heights necessary to succeed.” He paused for a while, and then continued. “Furthermore, should war actually break out… we will at least be able to make a difference.”

You fix your eyes on his. “How sure are you that war will happen?”

“It is but a matter of time. Each of the three powers has built up their military forces to such a great extent that the people are already calling for them to use those soldiers to their full potential and secure their borders, or to bring those secessionists and traitors back into the fold. Once they decide that the situation at the border is untenable, they will invade… and I would not bet on King Dagrun of Skane being sane enough to wait until then. It is practically a miracle that he has not tried anything for so many years.”

You turn to Dalton, whose face seemed even grimmer than before, scrunched up in a frown. “What do you think, then? You’re the leader.”

“I think Dario is right, we have to prepare ourselves for the coming storm. Besides I got a score that needs settling with someone in the Empire.”

You look around the room again. “Anyone has a differing opinion?”

Again, Tenebrae spoke up. “I still disagree, father. Meyes did not form this group to fight. We’re to help people, not to take up swords. Not all of us have the stomach for fighting, nor do we have the skill to fight. I agree with the sentiment that we should no longer champion our cause alone, and to rope in others to help us, but battle is out of the question.”

You glance at the people who were nodding their heads, agreeing with Tenebrae. There were about seven of them, a slight minority in the group.

“I would have you decide, my Emperor,” murmured Dario. “I believe Meyes would have wanted the same. Your word will be law, as it once was.”



The proposal must be worded in a way that can be conveyed clearly in a single, short speech given by Ean.

Chapter 8.4: First Aid

Chapter 8.4: First Aid

Not everyone was happy with your decision, but as the days passed and the amount of work grew, complaints lessened. You did not take over leadership of the group, but they came to see you as a source of advice nonetheless. The escalating conflicts enabled you to rally more and more support from the people. Extensive aid networks were established from the hinterlands to the borders. Branches were quickly established in each kingdom, each operating as a semi-independent cell that abided by the core group’s principles of neutrality. Surprisingly, Dario, who had not been eager to take this path, took the lead to set up these branches, spending most of his time travelling between countries. He was particularly efficient at sniffing out and finding the right people to handle local operations, smoothing over issues with towns guards and other authorities diplomatically.

As the weeks went by, a few problems emerged.

You began to feel your hunger again, as did the Successors. One of your group, a man by the name of Joshua, was the first to go. He went berserk in a shelter, tearing apart three refugees before he was stopped by his brethren. Reports of others – Skane, Gallo-Britannian, Imperial - feasting on humans began to flow in from all over the continent. Blasphemous stories abound of the Successors being products of the First Emperor mating with trolls. Those who tasted human flesh without preparing themselves would lose their mind immediately at the ecstasy and the way it filled their empty hunger, as Joshua did. You did your best to guide them best as they could, but you could see that at times their willpower wore thin. Thankfully, in their dealings they worked with the more benevolent part of humanity, reducing their risk of being overwhelmed by their desires, and you lost no more Successors after the first one. The other factions were not so lucky, as in their fights quite a few succumbed and either fled into the wilds in their insanity or were put down.

The second problem stemmed from Dario. He had gone ahead and encouraged each of the branches, and the people it helped, to see each other as part of the Empire as a whole. This was not difficult – thousands of years under Imperial rule had begun to erode away at the borders between tribes and nations despite their cultural differences. It was a noble sentiment that helped uphold neutrality and bring about the different peoples together; after all, it was easier to justify helping your own than someone belonging to an enemy nation. It was also a sentiment that created issues with the rulers of the various kingdoms. Skane was the first to react, with King Dagrun issuing a decree that all members of your little aid group were treasonous traitors to be put to death. Gallia and Britannia followed suit with an official proclamation that none of you were welcome in their kingdoms, though your little understanding with the Lady of the Martyrs ensured that this was only their official stance aimed at keeping the two kings happy. The core kingdoms of the Shinar Empire took a stance of disapproval – if you were helping people as part of the Empire, not swearing allegiance to the Emperor meant that you had designs on the throne. They did not react as harshly as Skane did, but still motions were made to disband any branches they could find.

Of course, despite making life harder, all of this only served to increase your support from the commonfolk; you were the ones on the ground helping them out. These, however, were long-term issues. A couple of more interesting matters appeared, involving matters that you were more equipped to handle.

Tenebrae brought to you news of Crete. On the uninhabited island ravaged by an undead outbreak a decade, a tremendously large tree had sprung up in the middle of the island. Fishermen noticed it from leagues away – from afar, they had first thought it was a mountain. Though sirens now populated the waters around Crete, a few brave men had managed to venture onto the island. Even fewer returned, and those that did told tales of strange fruit that devoured any that walked close with black tendrils.

Meanwhile, something strange had been occurring in the wastelands of Greece. According to Dario, the miasma, ever present for three thousand years, had vanished overnight. With its disappearance, the land could be seen again, and from atop the Wall of Korinthos an oddity had been noticed deep in the wastelands; a strange, smooth, white structure that did not match anything seen in nature. Every day, the structure seemed to grow larger and taller, and now it appeared to be the size of a small hill.


A. Investigate Crete. Trees and black tendrils remind you of Gieloth, and any such presence is always worth checking out.

B. Investigate Olympus. From what you know, your enemy is probably gathering strength there. You should find out what is going on before it is too late.

C. Do neither, you busy yourself organizing your supporters for an inevitable rebellion. It would not be hard, as with every harsh step the kingdoms take they push the people further into your arms.

D. Do neither and keep your organization peaceful and helpful to everyone. LOVE AND PEACE! You’ll show everyone that the way to world peace is through cooperation and goodwill to all.

Chapter 8.5: The Sacred Tree

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A – 6
B – 5


Chapter 8.5: The Sacred Tree

You felt the tree before you even saw it; you saw the tree before you even set foot on the island, and the rumours, for once, did not disappoint. The tree towered over any building you could care to mention; you could see it dominating the island's landscape even from a distance. The multitude of leaves adorning its branches were a brilliant gold, and in the dim light of the sunset they gave off a slight gleam.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" said Malton, tying the boat to the abandoned pier. The ship you had came on was anchored further out from shore, the sailors refusing to sail too close to the cursed island. "Beautiful but deadly. Like a woman." snorted Shub. "Let's get this over with." You had returned to Crete with Malton, Algur and Shub, the three of the best fighters in the band.

Less babysitting, you figured at the time. You regretted bringing them along, however; on your way here you had gotten news that war had finally broken out. Skane had launched an invasion of the Empire, attacking through the unguarded borders of the Olympus wastelands. It was a mad idea to march an army through that place, but it was the quickest route to the heart of the Empire. Evidently King Dagrun was mad enough to try. It was already too late for you to turn back when you received the news, and none of your comrades were keen to abandon the quest at hand either.

It did not take long before you saw for yourself the full devastation the tree had wrought upon the island. Enormous roots entangled the ruins of Cretan civilization. The ground was barren. There were no living things present upon the island except the tree itself. Your companions are quiet, unnerved by the absolute silence of the island, as you head further inland. There is no wind, no chittering of insects, no singing of the birds; nothing you would associate with the sounds of life.

The trek itself proved relatively uneventful, though you soon learnt to stay clear of low hanging fruits on branches that raised themselves from the roots. These looked like Gieloth cores which sprouted tendrils that lashed at anything that strayed close. You came across one fruit that was still making a meal of the last man to cross its path, the melting victim having been enclosed in a translucent black cocoon.

Finally, you reached the center of the island, where the massive trunk of the tree was located. If it was made from coalescing multiple Gieloth together, as you had been told before, it did not feel so to you. The tree was one single entity in both mind and matter. It had a distinctive Gieloth presence, but entwined with it was something that felt unmistakeably human. This strange tree was a hybrid.

“If I might ask, what are you doing here?”

You look around to see a man step out from an alcove in the trunk. You were sure it had not been there before. Your companions are immediately on guard, moving closer to you with weapons drawn. The newcomer was tall and graceful, garbed in robes that you were not familiar with, but you could feel he meant you no harm... yet. You wave Malton and his comrades down.

“One could say that I have history of some sorts with the source of the tree. I'm here to decide whether it should continue to be allowed to take root on this island.” You did not mince your words. There wasn't much point to it – anyone making it this far in would be no common stray.

The man bowed. “Then I gather you must be the legendary Ean, founder of the Shinar Empire. The Lord Chancellor of your Empire said that you might show up here. My name is Zhang, an officer of the Concordiat.”

Racking your mind, you try to find details about the Concordiat. It was a great nation far to the east. The last you knew of that region, the invading Gieloth had formed a tree. Evidently they had not stripped your world and moved on, but you know little else. This man in front of you, Zhang, appeared to be human, but as you focused it became clear to you that his nature was similar to the tree itself – he too was some form of hybrid between human and Gieloth.

Sensing your unease, Zhang laughed politely. “You must have many questions. Since I have been asked to tell you as much as I can, I will do so. What we have here is a mere branch of the Sacred Tree back in the Concordiat. This branch is fully part of it, despite the distance. It took us some time to encourage growth in this direction.”

“Must be one hella big tree, if this is a branch,” whistled Algur.

Zhang nodded in response. “It is. The Sacred Tree is the form our ancestors took thousands of years ago. Tradition requires us to partake of its fruit when we come of marriagable age, and when the time comes to leave life behind, we are buried within it. The legends say that when the world ends, the Sacred Tree will ensure we live on.”

You look up at the tree, its leaves glowing almost ominously. “Why is this branch here, then?”

“It is part of an agreement we have with the Shinar Empire, who have graciously allowed us the use of this island. In return, we have coaxed the branch to be able to sustain a human's form almost indefinitely. That has not come without a price – this branch is sluggish and lethargic compared to the lively Tree back in my homeland. Legends say that the world is ending, but there are those of us who know that it is. The signs are clear... dark things stir in Olympus.”

If you guessed correctly, this means the Empire had given permission for this to happen in their territory – that they were preparing for the end of the world. If that was the case, there was only one reason to have the tree here, where they did not have to travel all the way to the other end of the world.

“How many?”

Zhang gave a slight smile. “Astute, aren't you? One hundred thousand people. They will be safely sent away before everything is over.”

“And how long will it take?”

“At the current rate, we will be ready in six months. The Sacred Tree itself has already spread throughout the planet, though this is the only branch that has sprouted from it. My people do not see the need to retain our individuality within the Tree, but we respect all life. We do not see anything wrong in allowing other means of salvation through the tree, though regretfully one hundred thousand is the most we can handle.”

He did not clarify what would happen in six months, but from the barren land, you knew. You walk closer to the tree and look at Zhang. “May I touch it?”

“Go ahead.”

You placed your palm on the tree. It was warm, and you could sense its power, gathered from the life of your world, but it was not something you could communicate with, any more than you could talk to a plant.

“The ancestors, do they speak to you from the tree?”

Zhang shook his head. “No. Our ancestors have become the Sacred Tree. They do not guide our actions directly.”

“What if I told you I could stop the world from ending?” It was a bluff, but you had to try. There is little else you can say at this point. Zhang's smile turned cold. “The plan proceeds. The Sacred Tree retains what has been offered to it, with no exceptions. Forgive me, Master Ean, but you do not exactly inspire me with any confidence that you can succeed.”

“Well, I have done so before...” you begin, knowing that those words rang hollow even to you. Evidence of your past successes was not evidence that you would succeed now. Zhang remained there, his cold smile plastered on his face, secure in his logic. It looks like there would be no talking them down, and this thing was not something you could tear apart by yourself. On your way here you had broken several branches, and they had healed almost immediately, at the same time growing a dozen more fruits at the point of injury to defend itself. Attacking it might only make things worse.

You had one other option, however. Touching the tree, with its human pulse, you felt it stir your hunger.

You could try to devour it.


A. You attempt to devour the Sacred Tree. Not only will it save your world, if you succeed, you would probably become strong beyond your wildest dreams. You are not sure if you can succeed, but you are running out of time and options.

B. You leave the tree alone. Perhaps they can be convinced more easily to stop the process if you have already stopped the threat to the world. If you fail, it would also ensure that humanity survived, though with every passing day the planet grows weaker, its resources feeding the tree's growth.

Chapter 8.6: The Tree of Life

Chapter 8.6: Tree of Life

Anbar-Shi shoots out from your palm and sinks into the tree, biting deep into its trunk. As you begin to drain the tree, its warm essence suffuses your being. The trickle turns into a flow, and soon a torrent, three thousand years of accumulated energies pouring into you. You could not stop it now even if you wanted to.

Your thoughts go hazy and dim, and through your clouded eyes you see Zhang attempting to reach you, his face contorted in surprise and anger. Your companions stood in his way. You retain sight long enough to see Malton fall, and then your eyes fail you. Your hearing goes next, and then your sense of smell and taste, and all that is left is the warmth of the tree, gradually turning hotter and hotter as more and more power accumulates within you. You contain it and restrain it, your hunger greedily claiming every last bit.

For a brief moment, you are one with the tree, and you know what it knew. You feel the eastern continent crumble under your fingertips, the roots that had long allowed it to thrive withering and shrinking with every second. The millions of people that the tree draws back into itself in its death throes only serves to feed your strength further. You feel the tendrils that stretch out under the entire world, and you sense the twisted, unnatural, misshapen mass that is Olympus, where even now men fight and die against an endless wave of soulless warriors sprung from the white egg.

A wave ripples across your mind, the last of the tree’s consciousness.

It is done.

It burns.

Your mind and body burn.

It burns down to your very core.

Your cells burn.

You begin to change, your hunger rewriting your body with the new knowledge that floods into you even as you burn away.

Your sight returns.

You hear the sound of the earth crumbling.

You smell the blood in the air.

You feel the comforting weight of gravity around you.

Your senses weren’t the only thing that returned.

You just couldn’t leave things well alone now, could ya?

Great job screwing yourself over, kiddo.


We are part of you. Ever since that day, we always will be.

Sure… uh, last thing we remember is that you ate us, but you went and did something to your body, didn’t you?

If it makes you happier, think of us as a near-death hallucination, voices in your own head that you imagine to be real voices that you heard in the past.

That’s probably as close to the truth as any. You gave us life – of a sorts – again… we might as well be your own voices now.

Hey, guys, I just finished checking his memories. He done fucked up.

You laugh.

“Might’ve done better if you were around to guide me.”

Might’ve. Well, not to say you haven’t done good… given the circumstances, we really couldn’t have hoped for better.

Anyway, just like old times, eh?

You look around you, at the corpses of Zhang and your comrades. Part of your left arm was now roughened and blackened, with tiny buds rising from your skin, and little golden leaves sprouted from your right hand’s fingers. There is a spasm of pain, and your knees buckle for a second. The leaves break away from your fingers and crumble into the cold air.

“Not quite like old times, I’m afraid.”

You keep doing things that no one in their right mind would do. Just like old times.

Looks like your body won’t last, though. I’m afraid that meal was too big, even for you.

“Any way around it?”

Not that we know of. You’re better off asking one of those tentacles you always liked to hang out with.

I think you just ate most of them, though.

“Well, I suppose I better make the most of it while I can, then.” you mutter, flexing your fingers. The earth slumps in around Malton, Shub, Algur and Zhang, swallowing them in a mound. The island of Crete was utterly barren now, all ruins and dirt. You place four stones as a marker for their grave.

Then, you cast your gaze to the north.

You’ve really grown.


Don't get all sappy or teary-eyed on us now.

Well, time for one last bout of ass-kicking, guys!

A chorus of cheers filled your head, and you smiled.

You close your eyes and remember. You knew where to go, and how to get there. You reach out through the path of memories where the Tree once grew, back towards the tendrils closest to Olympus…

Chapter 8.7: Winds of Omen

Chapter 8.7: Winds of Omen

“My king, the army is routing! The enemy is almost at our camp, we cannot hold!”

“This is not right! Where is Fenrir? He led us into this!”

“We have to retreat, your Majesty! Th-“

The general did not get to finish his sentence as a gigantic paw crushed his armoured body. The white three headed dog let out a great howl as it ripped the soldiers of Skane apart. Dagrun stared up at it, partly excited at the blood, partly in fear. His powers were not suited for fighting, and he had never been particularly proficient at it. Still, he resolved to keep his eyes open. He would be able to see his own insides…


The great wolf panted as it rolled away from another lightning bolt. He had miscalculated, outmanoeuvred by a child who had not even lived half a century. He had thought Britannia and Gallia would join in the attack, but the two kings had betrayed him thanks to that man. Diogenes Camna. He had successfully created the public persona of a benevolent Lord Chancellor and hero. A fake persona, one that he shed regularly for his plotting. Diogenes had been granted the entirety of the resources of the Shinar Empire and with it, he faded into the shadows whenever he wanted, where even Fenrir’s claws could not reach him.

Baring his fangs, he leapt upon the bearded replica of Zeus and crushed it with a blow. He was still strong enough to defeat these imitations, but ever since he was cut off from her his powers had begun to wane. His voices had slowly dropped into slumber, one by one, as he was forced to drain them just to keep his strength at a level where he was ready to defeat his nemesis. Staying in the form of a wolf helped to conserve his energy, but if he needed to…

A black maul whirled over his head, and the wolf leapt away to gain more distance. Ban, the black-clad executor of Diogenes had joined the fray. Fenrir sighed. There was no end to trouble when Ean or his spawn were involved. Ban advanced mutely upon him, his eyes staring intensely at his target. He saw nothing else but what he had to kill.

Fenrir padded backwards, deftly avoiding another arrow from an Artemis replica. There seemed to be no end to these things. At the same time, Ban sprung. Fenrir did not want to use his power more than necessary, but right now it was do or die. Any mistake or holding back could cost him.

A wave of telekinetic force surged forward, scattering the multiple arrows headed towards him as well as throwing Ban to the ground. Fenrir tensed and crouched low to the ground, preparing to pounce…

And then there was a ring of metal from a sword leaving its sheath, a clear tone that silenced the world.

“Fancy meeting you here, wolf.”

Fenrir growled. Diogenes Camna was before him, on a gallant, armoured steed. His sandy-blond hair blew handsomely in the wind and he looked every inch an prince. Ban got up and raised his maul, glowering at Fenrir with a battle-cry on his lips, though he fell silent when Dio raised his gauntleted hand.

I do not understand why you still serve that… thing. Surely you know what he has planned. Do you think you will survive?

Dio shrugged.

“I’ve made my gamble. Allowing him to come so close to the summit of his desires only makes it easier for me to scale the same peak. At any rate, I always have a backup plan.”

Have you listened to nothing I told you seven years ago?

Fenrir’s thoughts were almost a roar. Seven years ago, before all of this had started, he had contacted Diogenes and warned him, attempting to enlist his help. That had been a mistake. He had underestimated just how duplicitous the man in front of him was. Diogenes held no principles sacred, no person dear. His only overriding concern was himself, and even that he could risk if he thought it could bring him even greater power.

“I have, and thanks to you I decided on a path of action that I find to be quite rewarding,” smiled Dio.

Fenrir looked at Dio, and then at Ban. If he were to take both of them on at once, as well as the replicas surrounding him, he would have no choice but to burn away what was left of his power to defeat them. In that case, there would be nothing left for him to battle that accursed traitor with. Should he retreat again? How many times has he retreated? Ever running, ever hiding, ever plotting, but never managing to make a real difference.

A growl came up from the depths of the wolf’s throat. In some ways, he envied Ean, so wont to do things without really thinking about the consequences. Perhaps, at this one time, he should do the same. Fenrir began to marshal his power. The pale dust of the ground, bleached white by its proximity to the egg, was whipped into the air as the clouds darkened.


The shout rang out clear in the gloomy sky. Dio reared his horse back as a shadow darted in front of him, knives drawn.

“I’m glad to see that you made the party, Aodh!” laughed Dio. He did not seem perturbed by the appearance of his old rival, and instead just gestured at Ban. Ban whirled his black maul over his head and sent it crashing down towards Aodh. The ex-Watcher leapt into the air, his feet landing on the massive metal head, and kicked off backwards so that he was at Fenrir’s side.

“It seems that you know emotion now, Aodh, or is that still an act?” grinned Dio.

“What you have done is unforgivable. Do you think this is all in your best interests?”

Dio looked surprised. “Of course. What did they teach you in Watcher school? Or has your dalliance with that Lady softened your brain into mush?”

Aodh bit his tongue and glared at Dio with murder in his eyes. “Do not speak of Joan ever again.”

Dio only bared his own teeth in a sinister smile. “She did a good job of warming my bed.”


Stop, Aodh. We were all played for fools by this man. Don’t let him get to you. What is important now is that we reach the egg.

“I apologize, Sir Fenrir.” Remembering his training, Aodh calmed down in an instant, keeping his anger cold and sharp. “I’m here to bring you to Joan, where we can combine our strengths to break through to the egg.”

“Hey, are you sure you should be saying that in front of me?”

“It matters not. We will wipe that smug smile from your face soon enough.”

“That’s the same smile she saw that night.”


Aodh, no.

“She seemed to like it.”



Aodh broke into a furious sprint towards Dio. Arrows rained upon it from all directions, but he stepped away from them at the last second, allowing them to thud harmlessly into the ground behind him. Ban stepped up to intercept him, but a well-placed knife between the hinges of his plated arm sent the maul tumbling away.

He was almost there. Dio would not react in time. Aodh stretched out an arm and unleashed a blast of telekinesis that knocked the surprised man off his horse. As he closed in, knife raised, he watched Dio’s gaping mouth twist into a leer, and suddenly he felt Dio behind him rather than in front. His eyes told him his target was ahead, but his senses screamed otherwise. That moment of hesitation cost him.

The dark blade whipped up, sinking into his chest. Aodh felt wriggling tiny tendrils invade every pore of his being, causing excruciating pain. He could not hold back his screams.

Fenrir cursed the impetuousness of youth, and let out a great howl that shook the earth. Before any of his enemies could react, he was already amongst them, dragging Aodh away from the sword. Dio was positively gleeful. “You should’ve killed me instead of saving him. Are you getting soft-hearted? I didn’t know you were that sort of person.”

Your taunts won’t work on me. You wouldn’t let yourself get killed that easily.

“Ha. I suppose so. You are a tricky one, wolf. I always had to be on my toes… you had no idea how nervous I got while conversing with you.” Dio raised an arm. Even more of his master’s soldiers had appeared, surrounding Fenrir and the wounded Aodh.

“I suppose this is it, then.”

This is it.

He had no choice. He’d have to use everything he had to destroy Dio, Ban, the replica army, and hope against all hope that the Lady of the Martyrs could reach the egg, and perhaps that some idiot, possibly wandering around the continent aimlessly, would be here to finish the job for him.

Then, his concentration was broken again. A wild wind whipped throughout the battlefield - it was not one he had summoned.

Enormous roots that bore branches adorned with leaves of gold burst from the ground, swallowing up the replica army. The soulless white automatons were pierced through and absorbed, melting into nothingness. Dio looked around, stunned. “The tree…” he whispered. “What is it doing here?”

A particularly massive root unfurled itself, cracking the earth as it did so, and from within, he walked out. His left arm was rough, and coarse, and budding with branches. His right eye was no more; instead golden leaves continuously shed from where the eye once was.

And then, he spoke.

Chapter 8.8: The Clear Blue Sky

Chapter 8.8: The Clear Blue Sky


You settled for a quick greeting. There was no longer any time to waste explaining anything to the people that stared at you in surprise; the journey here had hastened your transformation. The branches that accompanied you lashed out again, curling and stabbing at the enemy. Somehow, you instinctively knew which was which.

Kiddo, three o’ clock!

Incoming lightning!

“I’m on it.” With your left hand you raised the earth itself, rock and soil rising to your command. The enormous pillar of lightning that had been surging towards you grounded itself in the dirt and exploded. In the next second, the branches fall upon the dozens of Zeus replicas that had gathered together to launch that attack, ripping them apart with ease. With every one they absorbed, another branch grew. With every new branch that grew, another piece of yourself fell away. As the immortal replicas began to lessen, new beasts appeared; Terasphagos, larger and more menacing than any you had ever seen. Three-headed dogs the size of houses bounded towards you, drawn away from their massacre of the soldiers.

Nice doggies…

They do look kinda cute from a distance.

There’s about six of them. Think you can handle it?

“Wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t.” Your branches swarm up their legs. They were too large to be killed that way, but you had other tricks up your sleeves. The branches ignite, turning each dog into a fiery conflagration that seared away at their white flesh, incinerating them until there was nothing left.

That’s a good trick… huh… well… it’s my time to nap…

One of the voices falls silent. They had turned to slumber one by one, as you used more and more of your power.

You missed one, pal!

One last dog had managed to claw its way free of the branches. With a single bound it was within range of a pounce. It was also within range of your telekinesis, and with a clenched fist held high you crush its head and smash its body. Your branches skitter over the fallen dog and devour its corpse greedily. Your right hand – the one you had held up – scatters in a shower of leaves, the golden pieces dancing in the wind.

Good show, lad… good show…

Another of the voices went.

You saw your target ahead of you; the smooth, white hill, and you walked towards it; already your legs felt incapable of running. Nothing stood in your way. Nothing could stand in your way. The living branches that you had sent out swept your threats aside.

We just need to make it to the egg! Hang in there.

“What is it? You call it an egg… an egg for what?”

The bastard’s trying to ascend to an even higher plane of existence.

“The sacrifices have been made, the stars are in alignment, and the gate is open.”

That last voice was familiar. You notice a large wolf padding alongside you.

“That’s awfully cryptic. By the way, long time no see, Shulgi.”

The wolf nodded. “Please don’t say anything stupid such as ‘I like the fur.’”

“I wasn’t going to… but it is a nice coat.”

“Thank you.”

It was true what they said; time washed away most, if not all grudges. You had not thought that your first conversation with him in millennia would be like this, in such a place.

“So, mind explaining what exactly Naram’s trying to do?”

Basically he’s going to become a god, and this world will become his sphere.

“You mean those things I saw in the rift?”

“Yes. At any rate, that’s not Naram. Not anymore.”

“I wasn’t going to hold back.”

“Good to hear.”

Egg’s hatching.

Oh fuck.

“Well, fuck.”

“Don’t tell anyone, but… hop on.” You hold back a smile and gratefully fall atop the wolf, clinging on for dear life as he runs like the wind, your branches clearing a path for him amidst the battle that was still raging across the wasteland. It takes a matter of seconds to cross what would have taken you many labouring minutes. Unfortunately, in his full concentration on making his way to the egg, Shulgi fails to notice the foe that had smashed its way free of your branches. The black maul, darker still where blood still stained it, smashed into his side, sending the wolf tumbling and you falling to the ground.

“Ban… damn it, not now. Ean, get to the egg, you’re almost there. I’ll hold him off,” barked the wolf. “And watch out for another one, with a sword similar to yours. Diogenes. He ran off somewhere when you appeared.” With that, he sprung at the black knight. You don’t look back, staggering ahead as fast as you can.

Your legs are turning rough.

Some of your toes are gone, and your balance is off.

Your breathing is labored.

Even so, you make it to the egg. Up close, the curvature is unnoticeable, the white expanse looming over you like a great wall.

Attack it. Eat it.

“Got it.”

Black branches burst forth from where your right hand had been, and form into the familiar, comforting shape of Anbar-Shi. You swing at the egg… and the world shifts. The egg unfolds in inexplicable ways. The sky itself turns black, but it is not the night that you know, for the moon is blood-red and larger than any moon you have seen, and the millions of glittering stars swimming across the sky are unfamiliar to you.

At the center of the opened egg was a white throne, and upon it sat a man. He opens his jet-black eyes, gazing at and beyond you, as if you were already beneath his notice. The ground beneath your feet turned white and smooth. The transformation spread, shattering your branches wherever the two met. The world was becoming a sphere.

We didn’t make it after all.

“Since when are you guys so defeatist?”

Don’t tell me, you’re going to run right in?

“Nothing to lose, right?”


“If I kill him, things will revert, right?”

It doesn’t seem like the process is complete yet, so we still have a chance. Probably.



“That works for me. Let’s do it.”

Fuck yeah! Let’s do it.

The voices cheered, though there were far less of them now. You charge.

Beasts spring from the ground, too many to count, tearing and ripping at your body.

It did not matter, you had prepared to cast it aside anyway.

Your branches did not work here, but your body still functioned. As long as you were alive, you could go on. You swipe away a pouncing dog with the mane of a lion, the wind you called shredding it in an instant. You tear apart a fish with a head full of tentacles, blazing fire dancing to your whim. An ox sinks its full set of shark teeth into your left thigh, and you tear its head off with a collar of stone. Your right arm disappears, but you replace it with swarming black tendrils. A hundred replicas burst from the walls around the god’s throne, all of them immortals in their full power, no longer pale imitations. That did not matter to you any longer either. You call upon more tendrils, as many as you need to.



One for each replica.

You turn each into the sword that you had carried with you for so long, the weapon that was a part of you, its forging taught to you a long time ago by someone now departed. Every one you create burns away more of you, and your flesh begins to crack. That, too, did not matter to you any longer.

One hundred Anbar-Shis fly true and strike the immortals in the heart, each the embodiment of your hunger and filled with your power. The replicas melt away, vanishing back into the milky white hell they were spawned from.

Now there was nothing in the way between you and the newborn god, and as you stagger up to him, bleeding leaves from your wounds, for the first time he registers your presence. His features change, slowly, into one of bewilderment.


You throw a sword at him before he can finish.

Even a god ducks. As he does so, your blade smashes through the throne. It shatters into pieces, the white shards indistinguishable from the floor.


You throw another sword at him, cutting him off. Even if you wanted to answer him, you couldn’t. Your tongue is already gone. You spit out the leaves that had replaced it.

You certainly are shedding everywhere.

“Oh, shut up.”

There was only one voice left.

You were almost done… you know what was left to do, and what was left to do was what you did best – hitting things with a pointy stick. As long as you managed to touch your enemy with Anbar-Shi, you would win. You could eat him. Even in this condition, you would devour him, and his higher forms in dimensions you could not perceive. Your hunger would be tainted and you were not sure if you could stop it, but you could do so nonetheless. Still, how would you get to him? You felt certain if you moved your legs right now they would scatter. You could barely lift your sword. The god, while cautious, could kill you with a glance once he decided to act.

While you were thinking all this, a voice whispers in your ear.

“Thank you.”

A cold feeling spreads across your chest, and as you look down you see a long, dark blade sticking through it.

“I never really introduced myself, did I? You already knew I was called Dario from Meyes’s memories… but let me introduce myself, once again. I am Diogenes Camna.”


“I have nowhere else to go now, and I have yet to repay you for all your kindness, my master.”

You cannot muster the strength to even turn your head as you sink to your knees. You feel Dario – Dio – twist the sword and let go of it.

“Time to eat,” he whispers.

All at once, the sword he had left in you wriggles and squirms. It was alive, and it was trying to eat you.


A familiar voice, a female voice.





You wonder how long it has been for her… for you it had been uncountable eons of torture, and then a long sleep. Still, you know that voice. For the first time, you realize that a single Gieloth was cold and alone, a prisoner of its hunger. It was no wonder that the formation of the tree posed such attraction to them. When you ate the tree, it was pulsing with warm life… enough of that still remained for you to give.

You envelop her cold core with your warmth, drawing her inside you.

…You really are a fool.

That’s more like it, you think.

“Is that the first thing you have to say to me?”

Ah… I better be turning in… don’t think you guys need me around…

Faking an embarrassed cough, the last of the voices disappears, leaving just you and her.

You’re a fool.

“You already said that.”

In the surface of your consciousness, you are vaguely aware that the god had come to stand above your prone body. Already his guard was down, his attentions focused on Diogenes, who was staring at the sword still in you as if wishing for it to return to his hand.


“I… no. I am not planning anything. This is… why isn’t it working?” muttered Dio.

Finish this quickly, you virgin.

“I’m not a-“

She does it for you, the sword changing shape and elongating upwards, outwards. It is part of you now, and it grazes the god… just barely, but it is enough. The tendrils spread, and your hunger does the rest. The god’s mind is a babble of abstract concepts that you cannot comprehend. You strip that away, wolfing it down, devouring his very being. The mindless god panics and screams. A buzzing noise roars from his throat, shaking the very sky itself and ripping it into two, revealing the void behind. Countless spheres begin crowding towards the hole he has opened, and the god floats upwards to meet them. Behind you, you hear Diogenes shriek, his mind unable to handle the sight of the void. In your hunger, you begin stretching out towards those spheres too… certainly, you could eat them… and more.

I think… that’s enough.

“You sure?”

You don’t know when to stop, do you? No wonder you’re a virgin.

“I fathered a child."

It’s the mindset that matters.

Perhaps it’s because of that one last presence of hers in your mind, when all the other voices were gone, that you kept your sanity and your ability to stop. You would finish your slaying of the god and cease your labours. Thanks to her, you could do that much. You fall on your back, gazing at the horrible view of the void.

“No, this is mine!” Dio sprung onto the god’s floating body, sinking his teeth into it. You watch with amazement as he tries to devour it himself; in his desperate bid for power he had come across the void without being prepared for it. You were already done, though. The god was dead – the thing that floated into the heavens was but a corpse – and beneath you the ground itself was slowly returning to normal.

The last you see of Dio is his crazed smile as he floats into the void.

If this is the last sight we see, I'm definitely going to need some compensation.

You laugh soundlessly. "You are a very... troublesome..."

Look who's talking.

You try to answer her, but your breath almost chokes, cutting off your train of thought. Your lungs were about to give out.

There is a flash of light as the sky stitches itself back together, and then, at long last, it is over.


You lie on the rocky plains of the wasteland, staring up into the sky. The sky is cloudless and brilliant blue, but you would not know. Your sight is already gone. The chirping of birds, slowly returning to a once cursed land, is the last thing you hear. You still feel the warmth of the sun of your face, but that soon begins to fade. The air was clear, and you felt better, but you know it is just a brief comfort before the end.

“When are you going to vanish?”

I’m not going anywhere.

“Well… I am.”

You ate the Tree without knowing what it would do to you… what it can do. You really are a fool.

“That’s the third time now.”

Sigh… it seems that you excel in exasperating me, as always. Luckily, I am a genius.

“You are?”

Let me show you why…

It might have just been an illusion of your dying body, but you feel her take your hand, and you know then that everything is going to be alright.

You scatter in the wind, letting it take you wherever it would.

Epilogue: Flowers of Inanna

Epilogue: Flowers of Inanna

“They say this place was once a battlefield. Many soldiers of the Old Empire fought and died here against terrible monsters, and when they died, their souls turned into these flowers.”

“Teacher, there are no monsters! Don’t treat us like kids.”

“We are kids. Shut up and let the teacher finish.”

“You shut up, teacher’s pet.”

The class, again, was in an uproar, but the boy did not pay attention. The field of flowers had captured his gaze, the beautiful golden petals swaying in the gentle wind. Far in the distance, a large, old tree stood, casting its shade over a little hill.

“We call these Inanna flowers, after the ancient Sumerian goddess.”

“Teacher, I heard that most soldiers were men back in those days. Why did they turn into girl flowers?”

The teacher laughed.

“Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of love and war. I suppose whoever named them was thinking about the loved ones the soldiers left behind.”

The boy wondered if that was true. Even if it wasn’t, it made a nice story. The sky was a clear, brilliant blue, unblemished by clouds. He yawned, and turned his eyes to the tree again. As he looked at it, the wind started up, scattering the flower petals in the air. As the golden petals floated about, the boy wondered if those petals were actually the souls of the dead.

The field trip was wrapping up, and the teacher was calling for them to get on the bus.

Before he left, he turned to look at the tree again. Perhaps he had been listening to too many tall tales. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

But he could almost imagine that the petals danced into the shape of a man and a woman sitting beneath the tree.

Another Epilogue: Somewhere in the multiverse...

Another Epilogue

The spheres are but intrusions of higher beings, ascended ones. How do these come into being? By sacrificing many, many worlds, until they are noticed by the heart of all worlds. Then, if it deems them worthy, they ascend. What then, is this heart?

It is the Great Idea, the One Truth, the Originator, the Meaning of All Things. In the web of dimensions, the Great Idea sits at the center, weighing down the multiverse, testing, probing, observing and recording. It is said that something is not until it is seen, upon which then it is. The Great Idea sees all things, and ascribes to them meaning. In return, life eternally quests to reach the One Truth, ascribing to itself a meaning without which it would be mere void.

In all of the universes, all of the worlds, the Great Idea has come to discover the One True Meaning that encompasses all existence, and that meaning is Chaos. Random disorder against the orderliness of physical laws is what creates existence and allows the multiverse to flourish. In the greater view of things - and the Great Idea had the greatest view of all - everything is insignificant noise... a little meaningless chaos.

Imagine, then, its surprise, when a little man came to it after floating through time and space for what would be millions of years - if time had been a tangible concept for the Great Idea. The man refused to accept the meaning the Great Idea ascribed to him, and insisted that he had his own.

That would not do, thought the Great Idea. For another million years, it showed the little man the truth of the multiverse, and how insignificant he was. A speck on a mite of dust floating in greater specks in a little bowl, of which there were an infinite number. That was his role in life.

Still the man resisted.

Still, he refused to accept his meaning and dissolve into noise.

The Great Idea experienced, for the first time, exasperation.

Why is it that you reject your meaning?

The answer came in the form of a question, after a few thousand years of pondering.

Who are you, to ascribe meaning to me?

I am the Great Idea, the One Truth, the Originator, the Meaning of All Things. There is no meaning but what I give.

I reject that, replied the little man.

My meaning is mine alone. My fate is mine alone to determine.

I do not weave destiny, I merely observe.

Then, your observations are wrong, for I reject your meaning.

You are a very strange little thing.

I suppose I am, laughed the little man. It was a laugh that had seen the depths of insanity and come out the other end, a cold, sober laugh that promised cruel and terrible things.

Diogenes Camna would be a poor excuse for a man if he let a mere observer of all existence determine his own meaning.