Lord Schroder’s body rises from the ground, collecting a mysterious energy from his fallen guards. Soon he towers over the group, his broken body wreathed in flames that do not consume his flesh.

He taunts the party, telling them that as a noble of the first generation he has made pacts with mysterious and immortal entities to preserve his life. The blazing heat emanating off of the resurrected Lord Schroder sets the room ablaze.

Weakened by their earlier battle, the group prepares for what may very well be a hopeless fight, when a voice says ‘stop’ and time in the room appears to come to a stand still.

Unable to move, the heroes each feel their body inhabited by a strange presence that begins to speak through them. When they speak their voices are their own, but their little quirks and vocal mannerisms have been replaced by those of another, making their voices both familiar and strange.

Mara: I seek a vote of intercession.

Ailith: I will attend.

Hope & Dawnis: I’m listening.

Mara: Is that all who will attend?

Hope & Dawnis: It seems our colleagues are either to busy or consider this beneath them. It doesn’t matter. Three is enough for quorum.

Lord Echos: I am here also.

Ailith: You don’t get a vote and it doesn’t look like you ever will. Too bad.

Lord Echos: Nevertheless, this involves my children, and so I attend.

Mara: This affects all of our children.

Ailith: I don’t think so. He’ll consume these five and perhaps another couple of dozen, but eventually he’ll be dealt with in the usual way. I’m not worried. Look, this is ridiculous; you KNOW we can’t interfere in this. Why the fuss?

Mara: My only interest is ensuring the ritual is completed.

Hope & Dawnis: Yet I know there are at least two other groups trying to complete the quest as we speak, you MUST know as well. So I can’t help but wonder if the ice queen isn’t nearly as impartial as she’d make us all think. You can admit it dear, it’s a common enough failing, it’s what got us all in this mess in the first place if you’ll recall.

Ailith: I’m with the madwoman man… thing. You know the rules. Well that’s that… Shall we all sit back and enjoy the fight.

Hope & Dawnis: Ah, but that was not my vote. If you’ll look a little closer brother dear, I think you’ll see that we have a rather unprecedented conflict of the many and sundry ridiculous rules you all insist we be governed by. Really, I warned you this would happen.

Ailith: What are you talking about? I don’t see any… oh… OH. You son of a bitch. You put him in contact with THEM?! I’m going to squeeze you until your hair bleeds.

Lord Echos: I can say definitively that I had NOTHING to do with this.

Ailith: Nothing to do… Have you taught them NOTHING? No decency no HONOR? You said they were your children!

Lord Echos: They are, but if we are to begin exacting retribution for the sins of our children then I hardly think that the first blow will fall on me.

There is a stunned silence from the assembled entities.

Mara: You will regret saying that. But I believe our sibling has made my point. This mortal represents a threat to an entirely different covenant and must be dealt with immediately. I call the vote and I vote to intercede.

Ailith: Well I vote no. If the world’s strong enough it will fight this thing out like any other infection. If not… well… it just will.

Hope & Dawnis: Hah, I do not share my brothers confidence but ultimately I don’t care. Nevertheless, I will vote yes with one condition.

Mara: And that is?

Hope & Dawnis: As much as you try to wriggle around the truth with that infamous silence if we do decide to intercede here there will be accusations of… meddling with the Machina. So, I demand a sacrifice. Something to demonstrate we’re not just falling for your soft heart.

Mara: Agreed.

Hope & Dawnis: Well then, do as you will.

Ailith: Bah!

Lord Echos: I thank you for this.

Mara: I don’t do this for you.

Lord Echos: Nevertheless I…

Mara: Don’t be so quick to put yourself in my debt, I am paying a mighty price. I don’t think you want me to come for you to reparations. Be gone, you have not yet reclaimed your throne and so I find your presence here… impertinent. Leave. I have work to do.


End of Empire JCat Bootler