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 Post Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:15 am 
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"...I have... business," Ivan claims, while trying to calm his horse. (Part of calming the horse involves stopping moving forward; when the trucks stop as well, then the Scary Loud Noise stops, and the horse gets remarkably calmer).

Ivan: Deceit: -1 Roll: +0 Total: -1
Arkady: Empathy: +5 Roll: +1 Total: +6
Felix: Empathy: +3 Roll: +1 Total: +4
Roger: Empathy: +3 Roll: -1 Total: +2

...you have discovered that Ivan is really, really bad at lying, Even if you didn't know he was lying already, it would be obvious.

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 Post Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:57 pm 
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Arkady nods. "So do we. But first, we need to make a delivery." He takes out the letter: "We dropped in on Count Stokes to ask for some help with some stories. One of the stories he told us was what had happened at the castle recently." He shrugs. "I tended to the Countess and finished the grave for him. Then we offered to carry a message to you, if he wanted. He did." He holds out the message: "He is not happy about it, but he understands why you did what you did and does not hold it against you. He still values you and wants you back."

"And Ivan, speaking for myself: I've seen the same mercy given to mortally wounded men on the battlefield. It's hard, but wrong? Sometimes the pain is too great."

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 Post Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:13 am 
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"Count Stokes is a good man," says Ivan, accepting the letter and putting it in a pocket, presumably to read it later. "But far too forgiving. I... I don't deserve forgiveness." He looks up in the direction of the army camp; where, incidentally, the entirely unstealthy approach of two very loud trucks has clearly been noted.

A small group of five Elene men on horseback are approaching from said camp, presumably to find out what's going on. None of them have their weapons drawn, and they're not approaching at any great speed, so it doesn't look like they're planning to attack; it'll take them a couple of minutes to arrive, still, so there's time to talk with Ivan a little more before they get here. But they're on their way.

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 Post Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:07 am 
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Arkady shrugs. "If you don't feel you deserve it, then consider this. You left him alone in the castle with no staff, no idea who to hire as a staff, and from what he says not well trained in how to run a castle anyway. The only room well tended to is his study."

"Is that fair to him? To compound the offence you feel you've commited against him by abandoning him? Even if you won't accept his forgiveness unearned, you know he will accept your service. Earn some forgiveness by helping him replace his staff, and by grooming a replacement for you. When you're done, if you still need...
he waves towards the camp "...that, well, Azash isn't going anywhere. And as you've seen, his servants are just as likely to show up at Castle Stokes as in front of that army; and if they do then the Count will need your help. Remember that you are the only one the succubus could not corrupt."

"And I think he would be appreciating it if you showed up to say goodbye to his sister. Whatever her crimes, whatever you may have done, I am thinking it would mean a lot to him."

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 Post Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:22 pm 
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"I can't -" Ivan shakes his head. "I couldn't bear to face him. Not now. Not after -" He shakes his head again. "The Count would do better without me. He could re-hire the servants that we had to evict after the Countess got at them - or, if not, there's at least a dozen people in the village who would be glad to help out - doubtless he's found someone by now."

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 Post Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 12:50 am 
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Felix offers words of encouragement, let's him know the Count is a good man, and suggests the Count does indeed need him more than Ivan realizes.

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 Post Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 4:26 pm 
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Arkady is trying to get a feel for what's behind Ivan's attitude. Does he strike him as looking to get away, or seeking to atone/do something penitential?

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 Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 1:36 am 
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Felix: Rapport: +4 Roll: +0 Total: +4
Ivan: Resolve: +1 Roll: +1 Total: +2

Felix's words have a clear effect on Ivan, and it looks like Felix can probably persuade Ivan to return to the Count without too much trouble... at least for a time.

Arkady: Empathy: +5 Roll: -2 Total: +3
Ivan: Resolve: +1 Roll: +0 Total: +1

Ivan is Seeking Atonement. He doesn't believe that he has it yet; if he is sent back to the Count without doing something that he can square with his conscience as being sufficiently penitential, then he will not be able to forgive himself, and will probably keep trying to find ways to atone for what he perceives as his misdeeds. Somehow, working for a kindly Count in a place which reminds him of said misdeeds seems rather unlikely to count as sufficiently penitential.

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 Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2021 1:01 pm 
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Arkady tells Ivan: "One thing. The cellar where the countess...worshipped. It needs to be filled in with dirt, so the traces of what she did can fade away. It will be a long, hard job. You could take it on yourself, as penance, if you feel the need."

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 Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2021 4:15 pm 
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Arkady: Rapport: +0 Roll: +0 Total+ +0
Ivan: Resolve: +1 Roll: +0 Total: +1


Ivan frowns and considers Arkady's words. "It's not really much of a penance, mere digging. But perhaps I should have finished dealing with that before I left, that's true enough..."

The riders from the camp are getting pretty close, now. They're about in yelling distance when one of them calls out. "Ulath! Glad to see you!"

Sir Ulath turns, looks, and calls back - "Bergstor! What are you doing out here?"

The rider doing the yelling seems to be in charge of the group; he's approximately as huge and muscular as Sir Ulath, and apparently the two of them are old friends.

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 Post Posted: Wed May 05, 2021 8:58 am 
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Arkady raises an eyebrow. "Mere digging? Do you know how many hundreds of tons of dirt you're going to have to gather, haul down to that cellar, and neatly pack away to finish that task? And all while meeting all of your other duties? This is hardly being asked for two prayers and a small donation."

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 Post Posted: Wed May 05, 2021 1:09 pm 
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"Yeah it's a whole mess of sheer, brutal, backbreaking work," Felix says. "I've walked the path from the front of the castle to that basement twice and it's a journey I'd rather not repeat. Someone has gotta do it if that area is going to heal any time soon. It'll give a person plenty of time to think about what they need to do in the future, at any rate..."

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 Post Posted: Thu May 06, 2021 1:50 am 
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Ivan shrugs. "It will take a long time, that is all. But perhaps it is a thing that I should do before I can begin my penance. And you are right," he nods at Felix, "I could use that time to contemplate the nature of my true penance."

Bergstor and his small patrol close to an easier conversational distance, but he recognises that something else is going on and does not immediately interrupt, giving you a few moments to finish up your conversation.

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 Post Posted: Thu May 06, 2021 10:02 am 
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Arkady considers for a second, then says: "All right, then perhaps consider this. The Count's files told us where we can look for something that will save the life of the Queen. But to get it we will have to deal with a troll, spend a lot of time searching under water, and will almost certainly attract the attention of the servants of Azash who poisoned the Queen. Her cure would be a serious blow against them, so they will resist it."

"You want to atone. Fine. If you can get the Count's blessing, then help us fight the people who corrupted the Countess in the first place. Afterward, if we succeed and you live, the cellar will still need to be filled in."

Arkady's going to tag 'priest'. He does this kind of thing for a living. If that's utterly inappropriate, he'll tag Ivan's desire for Atonement.

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 Post Posted: Fri May 07, 2021 3:09 am 
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Arkady: Rapport: +0 Roll: +1 Priest: +2 Total: +3
Ivan: Resolve: +1 Roll: +2 Total: +3


"I would save a life," nods Ivan. To atone for taking a life, presumably. "And I would be striking a blow against those who created this situation in the first place. Yes. Yes, that would be... suitable. That is what I will do, then."

"You all done?" asks Bergstor, but continues before waiting for a reply. "Good. For those who don't know me, I am Patriarch Bergstor of the Elene church, and we are gathering a strike force to deal with Rendor. These horseless carts of yours will be useful in that noble aim."

There were a few Patriarchs who never made it to the Arch-Prelate's election. You didn't see this guy there, but he could still be a Patriarch, for all you know.

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