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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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I'm too young to remember the big mmos but have always been facilitated by the stories that come out of them, especially wow and eve online.

Glad to hear things are going easier these days.
Well, my (ex-) wife and I first got to know each other in EVE Online.

It is a great game, for all its flaws.

Also played WoW on and off - currently off, and I must say the latest expansion holds no allure given what else I want to play right now.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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EVE online is such a fantastic creature. Everything player made. The market. The resources. The wars. The politics. The RL UN summit they have every year. It's fascinating.
 

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Glad to hear you've had some relaxing down-time :)

I never really got into any of the big-name MMOs back in the day, but I do recall being quite deep into Urban Dead for a while, back when I was on a kick for all things zombie-related. I had a friend who was really big into Runescape for a while, as well as a couple of others on and off that I don't really remember too well anymore.
 

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Oh hey, LOTRO. I played that a lot back in the day, and recently recovered my account. I occasionally pop onto Crickhollow with a new main under the same handle I use here. Say hello if you ever see me!
 

stnylan

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Oh hey, LOTRO. I played that a lot back in the day, and recently recovered my account. I occasionally pop onto Crickhollow with a new main under the same handle I use here. Say hello if you ever see me!
I would do except I play on Laurelin :) Where usually I play Erethuil.
 
Chapter 1.13 - Martin - A moment later

stnylan

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Chapter 1.13 - Martin - A moment later

As they entered the adjoining room. Martin saw Robert sat up in a bed, his son at his side. Little Martin looked to have been crying - holding his father’s arm tight. The doctor touched Robert’s other arm, and Robert saw them. He spoke a soft word, and the boy rubbed his eyes.

The Master indicated for Martin and Darius to wait, and approached the bedside. The doctor pulled over a chair, and the Master sat.

“Mr Williams, I trust you are feeling much better?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you for bringing me my boy. He says your man looked after him.”

“Martin,” agreed the Master, pointing him out. “He did, at first on his own initiative, and then at my request.”

“Thank you,” Robert said to Martin.

Martin nodded his head, and then in the small silence added, “You have a good lad.”

“It is time,” the Master began again, “to discuss your future, Mr Williams.”

“What are you going to do with my dad?” young Martin suddenly piped up.

The Master looked at the boy, who shrank back a little against his father’s side, but the Master just smiled. “I am offering your father service, to join my household. A position, a place, and for you - school, a proper school. But I am not going to do anything to your father he does not wish.” Then the Master looked back at Robert. “However, this is not a discussion for children.”

“Right,” said Robert. “But -”

“If I may interject,” said the doctor, “I probably ought to perform that examination on your son we spoke of just now. We will be in my office, just next door. But also,” he said, now speaking directly to the boy, “you need rest, little one. I will give you a draught that will send you sweetly to sleep, and the rest can be settled, perhaps in the morning?”

The Master nodded. “Alright. You heard the doctor Martin,” Robert said to his son. He hugged him fiercely a moment, and then let go. The boy was reluctant to leave, but let himself be herded out.

“You have a brave boy,” the Master said.

Robert nodded. “I do.” Even sitting in the hospital bed he looked proud.

“So Mr Williams, will you join my household? Your son will be sent to a special school where the children of my household go. At times he will find it hard, I am sure. It is a new life, for you both, if so you choose it. But in his spirit I see him going a very long way, a future most from the Island can never even dream of.”

“And me?” Robert asked.

“As we spoke last night, you would be dead were it not for Darius’ blood even now sustaining you. But I will not have you taken unwillingly. If you choose to leave, then tomorrow you and your son can leave. There will be no medical bill, no debt. Your position at the dock would still be open. The arrangement would end, nothing more. But if you choose my service then your son has a future, different from yours, and I promise you the destruction of the one who killed your wife. Darius would be your immediate Master, he is of my line. And Martin here would help ease your transition.”

“And all I’ve got to give is my soul?”

The Master glanced at Martin “Some would claim so. Not I.”

Robert drews his knees up, and rested his elbows on them, and put his head in his hands. “I need to think,” he said.

“Of course,” the Master replied.

Robert stayed like that for quite some time. The Master seemed unperturbed, still, not breathing. Martin too knew how to wait. Darius tried to emulate his forebear, but the energy of his youth did somewhat frustrate his efforts. Maybe an hour later the doctor let himself back in.

“The boy is sleeping,” he said. “He needs nothing more than rest.”

Robert looked up as the doctor spoke. “Thank you,” he said.

“Thank the one who paid for my services,” the doctor replied, indicating the Master.

“No debt?” Robert asked.

“No debt,” the Master agreed.

Robert shook his head. “That’s bollocks. I’m not going to turn away the man who saved me and my son. I don’t know what the hell I am getting into, but I didn’t when I signed up to join the Navy neither. What do I have to do?”

“Darius.” the Master said, “go to the other side of the bed.” Turning back to Robert he continued. “Mr Williams, Darius will slit his wrist. To accept this bond truly, of your own free will, and to enter the service of my household, all you have to do is take his arm, and drink his blood.”

Robert laughed. “It’s like the bloody flicks,” he said. Darius had moved beside him, the doctor had wordlessly passed him a scalpel. He cut, a line of red formed but it did not quite flow as a mortal’s would.

Robert grabbed the proffered arm. “The devil shall be my sergeant,” he whispered, and partook of the bloody benediction. Suddenly he gasped, and let go, looking up at Darius with awe. “Master,” he proclaimed, his lips and mouth a deep crimson, his servitude coursing through him. Darius withdrew his arm, the wound healing clean.

Darius looked at Martin’s Master, who slightly inclined his head. “Robert, welcome to my service, and the service of my Lord and forebear. I am your Master, he is the Lord of us all. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Robert’s eyes remained fixed on Darius.

“In time you will serve me more closely, but for now I wish you to accompany Martin about his tasks, so that you can learn to serve me better. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Robert repeated.

“Lastly, do not forsake your son for me. Honour your child, and my Lord honours me with your service. Do you understand?”

“I … no,” Robert said, and suddenly he flushed, and his hands formed fists.

“Calm,” Darius said, and Martin felt a sense of power swirl about the young Master as Robert relaxed a little. “Martin will help you to understand. You will go to him now, and meet Lady Parr. She has a task for you both.”

“Yes Master,” Robert said, overwhelmed.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Yes...selling your whole being to another seems perfectly apt a description.

Very well written demonstration of the exact moment he loses his will.
 

Specialist290

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A bit chilling to see just how rapidly the transformation takes -- literally right before your very eyes. Hopefully Robert's humor isn't gone for good, because I rather liked the dry wit he has here, even when effectively surrendering his own free will -- but then, it wouldn't be unexpected for this sort of transformation to warp the personality as well as the appetites.
 

El Pip

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The Master is either impressively delusional or perfectly happy to lie to someone he is recruiting. There is no way you can watch that ceremony (for want of a better word) take place, as he has doubtless done countless times, and not think it is costing someone their soul or whatever word you wish to use to describe their free will, personality and all that makes them a person.

Ordinarily I'd assume he was just lying, because he's a Vampire Lord so it kind of goes with the territory, but the look at Martin and admission that "some would claim so" has me wondering. Seems a bit elaborate for a recruiting trick so I do wonder if there is something else going on and the Master is trying to convince himself of the statement as much as Robert.

I'd assume with time and experience the initial obvious signs of thralldom fall away and something of the old personality reasserts itself, so on that basis the Master can convince himself it doesn't cost you your soul, it is just a very major change. Martin, a couple of steps down the ladder and closer to the new recruits, however knows the truth - that the hold and control are still there and the original person was destroyed, even if a few scraps of personality will eventually re-surface.
 

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Something quite poignant in seeing a man's dogged sense of honour (can we call it pride?) leading him to eternal servitude. Master may like to think himself a generous benefactor, but I am not convinced.
 

The Number 9

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The Master knows how to manipulate, and it was hard to see Robert falling into his trap. Great writing, it was not an easy scene.
Now let's see every cost of this decision for Robert. The offer seems generous, but I'm afraid it's the exact opposite.
 

Bullfilter

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He cut, a line of red formed but it did not quite flow as a mortal’s would.
Most unsavoury - but Robert still had his little sip of ‘claret’! It seems part of Robert wanted this for himself anyway and had some idea of what he was getting himself into:
“The devil shall be my sergeant,”
 

stnylan

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Yes...selling your whole being to another seems perfectly apt a description.

Very well written demonstration of the exact moment he loses his will.
Thank you

Well done tale of the moment a person gives up one way of life/being in order to obtain what they feel is either better or destined.
Destiny is cruel.

A bit chilling to see just how rapidly the transformation takes -- literally right before your very eyes. Hopefully Robert's humor isn't gone for good, because I rather liked the dry wit he has here, even when effectively surrendering his own free will -- but then, it wouldn't be unexpected for this sort of transformation to warp the personality as well as the appetites.
Well, ye shall see in time :) Also see below.

The Master is either impressively delusional or perfectly happy to lie to someone he is recruiting. There is no way you can watch that ceremony (for want of a better word) take place, as he has doubtless done countless times, and not think it is costing someone their soul or whatever word you wish to use to describe their free will, personality and all that makes them a person.

Ordinarily I'd assume he was just lying, because he's a Vampire Lord so it kind of goes with the territory, but the look at Martin and admission that "some would claim so" has me wondering. Seems a bit elaborate for a recruiting trick so I do wonder if there is something else going on and the Master is trying to convince himself of the statement as much as Robert.

I'd assume with time and experience the initial obvious signs of thralldom fall away and something of the old personality reasserts itself, so on that basis the Master can convince himself it doesn't cost you your soul, it is just a very major change. Martin, a couple of steps down the ladder and closer to the new recruits, however knows the truth - that the hold and control are still there and the original person was destroyed, even if a few scraps of personality will eventually re-surface.
It is indeed a ceremony - and when something has been made into a ceremony that carries its own significance. Also truth is a tricky one - it is both possible for the Master to believe there is some free will here, blind to how little freedom those within his sway actually have - whilst also having set things up to leave nothing to chance. To that extent he may be both a liar and deluded.

Something quite poignant in seeing a man's dogged sense of honour (can we call it pride?) leading him to eternal servitude. Master may like to think himself a generous benefactor, but I am not convinced.
The road to hell, as they say...

The Master knows how to manipulate, and it was hard to see Robert falling into his trap. Great writing, it was not an easy scene.
Now let's see every cost of this decision for Robert. The offer seems generous, but I'm afraid it's the exact opposite.
Thank you. And yes, I hope to convey Robert's journey as we go.

Most unsavoury - but Robert still had his little sip of ‘claret’! It seems part of Robert wanted this for himself anyway and had some idea of what he was getting himself into:
Well, he had an idea. How accurate - well as he said he didn't really know what he was signing up to in the Navy as well.


All
So this was, as @The Number 9 states, not an easy scene. In fact I found it a very hard one to write - largely I think because Martin is entirely passive. He says but five words, he just walks from one room to another and waits, and watches. Of course, given his ... calling being merely present whilst others act is not unusual, but even so he is especially impotent here. I also wanted to try and give a small window into Robert before this change. I hope to explore a little of thralldom further as we move into Chapter 2 with both Martin and Richard.

I am hoping, later this week perhaps, to do a proper update to the Dramatis Personae. Also we are now within site of the end of Chapter 1, one more Albert entry, and then a Storytime/Eorhic entry at the end. I also hope in Chapter 2 to show some more direct ground-work for some of the stuff that will happen in the earlier parts of the actual game. Speaking of the actual game I have played nearly to the end of 1937, have made copious copious notes which I hope will enrich the telling of those times.
 
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stnylan

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Dramatis Personae on the first post has been updated
 
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Ah yes, the old (not) selling your soul, and your son's, to repay his rescuer. One might argue Robert and little Martin would be better off had the rescue never happened, though the Master clearly doesn't see it that way. As chilling and exciting as ever.
 
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An invaluable resource.
Thank you.

Ah yes, the old (not) selling your soul, and your son's, to repay his rescuer. One might argue Robert and little Martin would be better off had the rescue never happened, though the Master clearly doesn't see it that way. As chilling and exciting as ever.
One certainly could, and would not necessarily be wrong to do so.
 
Chapter 1.14 - Albert VIII

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Chapter 1.14 - Albert VIII

It is the Blood Court of London, in its tenth hour, and I am still having a fine time. The hall is now all but empty. Only myself and Lady Anne remain, sitting at our respective stations. My presence does not keep her here - it is my Lord’s tradition, and as his representative her duty is plain. But it does mean she has to remain on form. Naturally she does so superbly. That is one reason why My Lord retains her in this role. Sometimes there can be a flurry of attendance at the very end, it is not unusual for we two to be alone in the latter hours. Now and then someone appears in the quiet times to pay their respects. Lady Parr was in just half an hour ago, clearly finding time between one task or another. She had exchanged a greeting with Lady Anne, supped, and nodded to me before she left.

A door opens behind the dais, and He enters. Lady Anne stands, and My Lord murmurs something to her as He passes by. She resumes her seat, relaxed but straight, and seemingly pleased. My Lord, dressed in his archaic garb, descends from the dais and walks straight to me. As He approaches He moves a hand downward, and I remain seated as he takes the place not so long ago occupied by probably the newest official inhabitant in His Domain.

“You honour me, My Lord,” I say.

As ever He is dressed simply in His personal formal garb. Anywhere but here it would be out of place. “It is deserved,” He states, looking around the nearly empty hall. “You made a memorable show tonight.”

“I suppose that depends on one’s tastes,” I say.

“I told my seneschal I would talk to you about it, and so I am,” He says. He does not sound angry.

“Your seneschal does not entirely approve of my methods,” I reply.

“And you do not entirely approve of her,” My Lord says, still unremarkable in tone.

“I respect her abilities. She is a most able member of your Household, and an excellent Seneschal. It is your approval that matters, not mine.”

“And yet you never seek to sway it.”

“My Lord…”

He cuts me off with a wave of His hand. “Peace, Albert. It matters not.”

Lady Anne has been observing us, but circumspectly. I hope this show is also sufficient.

My Lord continues, “I said I would see you before you go, now seems opportune. You are fully prepared?”

“Tolerably so. For all the ease of travelling these nights, with trains and steamships, and even newer contraptions, I think in some respects it is harder now than it used to be to actually go to place.”

My Lord snorts. “I have decided to ask you for an additional favour, whilst you are over there.”

“My Lord?”

He pauses some moments, unlike him. “Have you heard rumours of a new line from the Carribean?” There is an interest to His speech that was lacking before.

Ahh. “Rumours, yes, of varying provenance. Nothing I would count as knowledge.”

“Ahriman stalks us, it is true,” My Lord says, “but Ahura Mazda has offered me a little illumination. There is a new line, with its own distinctnesses. One in particular - it is held that they resemble corpses. Not dry and desiccated, but a form both foetid and foul, in a state of active decay.”

I know why this would have attracted My Lord’s attention. I wait some minutes. “What would you have me do?”

“If you can find one, invite them here. I would know of them.”

“Sureties?”

“In this matter I will consider myself bound by your word, Albert. I trust I will not have to rue that undertaking.”

A human might have swallowed. I have lost the instinct. “And on the matter of my invitation?”

He shrugs. “Find out what you can. Promise nothing you cannot personally keep. And return.”

We wait some more minutes. “I think something important may be about to happen in the United States,” I say.

He says silent a time before speaking. “You will have an opportunity to investigate that as well.” I nod. “How are your studies?” he asks.

“None since I returned, until then some small progress.”

He nods. “I will give you a gift, something to occupy your time in your voyage. You may find it useful, now or later.”

“Thank you, My Lord,” I say.

“I must be going,” he says, and stands, then turns. “Albert, I mean it - return. Sending you on this errand - trying to find a member of this new line - these are whims. I would be grateful for any success, but not so grateful as to lose you.” He pauses, and then fixes me with his stare, switching to a far older tongue. “Your first aim is to return.”

“Lugal,” I say, in the same language.

“Good. Ahura Mazda light your way.” With that He leaves me. He strides back towards the dais, says something more to Lady Anne, and departs through the same door He had entered.

It is the Blood Court of London, in its eleventh hour, and for the first time tonight I feel unsettled.
 
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