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Jun 28, 2022 5:08 PM
happy days increasing the universe-conquering capabilities of Lawful Evil
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In theory, Project Lawful has now been running for 113 days.  The reality is somewhat different.  Of course the map doesn't always match the territory perfectly, but this match is more imperfect than most might reasonably expect to be the case, when it comes to entire days.

In theory, Keltham is now having sex on a regular basis with Carissa, Meritxell, Yaisa, Ione, Peranza, Tonia, and Pilar, plus that strange relationship with Asmodia; he's tried casual sex with most of the new girls brought in by Cheliax, but hasn't formed any lasting relationships with them.  This sex is overtly consensual in all cases except that of Pilar, who still acts angry around Keltham about that whenever she hasn't recently been pleasured into a more yielding attitude.  They all appear very much in love with him.

Reality, again, differs greatly from this appearance.  Possibly not for Sevar, though nobody here is going to call her on that.  But definitely in all other cases.

In truth, everything about this whole apparent situation differs from reality so much that it seems simpler to suspend disbelief about that, and describe for a time how things would be, if the reality being described was just the theory.


Keltham, then, is chatting cheerfully with Gregoria and Ione at dinnertime.  The Project is doing well; most of what it's tried to research hasn't panned out, but it has quite substantial improvements to metallurgy and also spellsilver mining to its name, and that's more than enough to fund all the other things Keltham wants to take a shot at.

Shortly before dinner, Keltham did go over to comms and, unusually aggressively for him, he demanded to send an urgent message to Governance not waiting on evening mail, requesting and requiring that Cheliax forward him a copy of all Project transcripts, starting from day one.  If they don't bring it over with the evening mail from Egorian tonight, Keltham will be unhappy about that in a way that calls for further actions.  He's calling in favor to make this happen right away even if that means the Queen overruling Security tangles to make it happen.

Keltham's intentions - if one could somehow read those, concerned about this sudden demand - show Keltham thinking that he's felt a couple of pangs of uneasiness lately about how well things have theoretically been going.  Sort of a cumulative feeling of unease generally.  It's been a while, and he really ought to do a full review of all his evidence, starting tonight and continuing into tomorrow.  He's not expecting the full review to end up calling it for Conspiracy, but he's planning to be fair and conscientious about it.  He does not, for example, want to give them time to possibly edit the transcripts - though that would also be risky, from their perspective, since what Keltham couldn't reproduce from memory, he might well notice as false.

But Keltham is mostly, almost entirely, expecting that all to turn out fine.  So for now he's cheerfully chatting with Gregoria and Ione at dinnertime.  Gregoria is also outwardly cheerful!

Ione is more reticent and looks more disturbed than usual.

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Any reason that a girl would now suggest to Keltham that they flee with him inevitably has to be correlated with Keltham getting noticeably suspicious; they wouldn't happen at the same time for no reason. And then he will obviously think of 'they're in the Conspiracy' as an explanation.

 

So the first move is -

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"You okay, Ione?  You seem a bit off."

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By Message:

It's a - sad thing.  You'd end up, distracted by it, and that's - not necessarily good, for the Project...

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There's a slightly longer delay than one might expect, before Keltham messages back:

Project's in a good spot, it's the right time for me to be distracted.  You should probably just tell me?

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By Message:


I... all right.

My grandfather's - dying.  I've been -

- approved for leave, to go visit him...

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(Ione doesn't sound quite right, even for somebody who got terrible news.)

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Message:


Ione, that does sound awful, and like you shouldn't be trying to just attend dinner pretending nothing's wrong.

It sounds to me like you want to talk about this, but think you shouldn't bother me, and evidently don't want anyone else to know.

Should we go off and talk about this in private?

 

(Keltham does not look particularly horrified or sad.  More... concerned.)

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"I - yeah."

"Sorry, Gregoria, I want to talk to Keltham in private about something."

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" - oh, okay, no problem," says Gregoria.

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She'll take the Keltham up to the Keltham Seduction Room, then.  The one with soundproofing.

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The Keltham Seduction Rooms have undergone some expansion, including, gradually introduced, some features to arrange for the escape-from-within-the-Conspiracy, if necessary; Keltham laid his own permanent Alarm spell on the room, for example, once he learned to cast it, and has tested the Alarm spell enough he can be satisfied there's no one hanging around invisibly. They also eventually coaxed him into trying out the whips, and Carissa taught him how she habitually uses Dancing Lights as a cheap check for invisible objects or Alarm-evading intruders. 

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Ione buries her head into Keltham's shoulder, once they're alone, and puts her arms around him, and trembles.  Her hand pushes at his back, three times, stopping.  Three times, stopping.  Three times, stopping.  Clearly deliberate.

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Keltham -


- after a time to think - 


- casts Dancing Lights, sweeps the room with them.  He disengages wordlessly from Ione, opens the secret door to the cuddleroom, sweeps that with Dancing Lights as well.

 

Nobody, apparently, is in either room, except the two of them.

 

Message to Ione:

Room looks clear.  Nothing tripped my Alarm recently except the two of us.

Explain.

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"Thank you for - giving me, privacy..."


Message:  Both of my grandfathers have been dead since I was little, I got - ordered - to leave and be gone for the next week, and, and I have a very very bad feeling about this even taking into account - everything you've already figured out is true from hearing that anyone can give me orders like that.

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Keltham doesn't hesitate at all this time.

"Take as long as you need."

Message:  Tell me the things I need to know urgently, as quickly as you can.

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The church of Nethys is illegal in Cheliax. When they learned Ione was of it, they told her that she wouldn't be executed as long as she represented Asmodeus well to Keltham and did what she was told. The church of Cayden Cailean is also illegal in Cheliax. The rest of the girls were just told that Ione and Pilar had exceptions. In general if you ask too many questions in Cheliax or cause a big government program to be a disaster, you die about it, so no one did. 

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Ione has already rehearsed all that information, and repeats it to Keltham.

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Where in Golarion is better than Cheliax?

Why didn't they use Suggestion on me?

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Suggestion is cumulatively easier to notice as repeated, all the mind control I know about is, that's why - things aren't even worse than they are -

Keltham, there's nowhere, there's nowhere that I know about anywhere, that wouldn't try to use you the way Cheliax is using you, nowhere in all the books I've borrowed from all the libraries I've been to, they said I'd die if I told you I could get books from anywhere but Ostenso, if I got you any books from Ostenso that weren't approved - but I can read them myself and there's nowhere in Golarion that has, has even a, tiny little bit, of dath ilan, left inside it, since Aroden died - all of the envoys here were fake, the travel scries you saw, had illusionists hiding things -

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Now Keltham is starting to look visibly horrified (by Chelish standards, a dath ilani trying and failing to control his expression sufficiently).


Message:  Do you already have plans for what we do next, from here.

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Security carries teleport scrolls. If they can take one down, they can leave. Ione thinks she can read a teleport scroll, she's never done it and they fail destructively, but it's the sort of thing a third-circle wizard can do. 

Probably they don't want to leave the interdiction zone, because then every god who cares to can send their forces after them, but they could hide in the interdiction zone, for now, and she could get books from more places, try to find somewhere...

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Any Security would have Teleport scrolls.  We'd just need to take out one of them, somehow, and get outside of the Forbiddance, without getting caught.  I've never read a Teleport scroll and they fail destructively, it'd be a risk at just second-circle, but I think I can do it.

- we should stay inside the interdiction zone around Ostenso, or any god any time could send their forces to just grab you.  But there's a ruined tower near an Ostenso landmark that I know well enough to teleport to it, that probably hopefully has scry wards that still work, scry takes an hour to cast and we'd have to rush but I think we could get there in time.  Or maybe we'll get lucky and the Security will have two Nondetection scrolls, I can definitely cast that from a scroll.

- Nondetection is a 3rd-circle wizard spell they didn't want you to know about, it's how they hide a lot of things from you.

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If any Security would always have Teleport scrolls, then the Zon-Kuthon godwar wasn't real.

Why do you think the interdiction zone is real?

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I could be wrong.  But they talked like it was an inconvenience and Broom's god was forcing Asmodeus to go along with it.  Broom's god isn't on our side, I don't think, but It can't be bargained with or have demands made of It by other gods, and It doesn't care about the kinds of things that - other gods would want, to make sure of, about you -

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What does Nethys want from me?

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