Dreadlords Death Lotto

Threads open to all members of the Dreadlords group
Kristen was indeed delirious, rattled severely by the literal shock of lightning, the agony which she hitherto had not known reverberating in her mind and stealing away nearly all thought and sensation, her awareness in near totality fixated upon the memory of it.

Aelita's yell, the shaking which followed, snapped Kristen out of it, and in effect brought her back to Arethil.

Kristen gasped. Her eyes glanced about wildly for a second, and then everything seemed to settle into place as she remembered all the essentials, the whos, the whats, the wheres, and so forth.

"We solved the puzzle," Kristen said in answer to Aelita. Then a single breathy laugh followed. "Not...the way it was intended."

Zinnia beamed at the praise she was receiving from Lumen, then read over the note carefully. For the first time, as she glanced around to her shock-fried compatriots, Zinnia felt a since of...competitiveness? That was unusual. Maybe the caffeine was getting to her...but...

While there was no way she was going to leave her allies out to dry, maybe she could give herself a bit of an edge over them. Consider it evening the odds; after all, Caeso and Lumen had incredible magic, and the former was a noble. Zinnia was nothing. Gutter trash with mediocre magic. What was one or two extra tokens? Before doing anything else she slipped two of them into her cloak.

The ordinarily demure girl held the note up as she read, then yelped as the thing suddenly self-immolated! Reduced to ash in a mere moment!
"Wha--? I...b-blazes, these t-tricks never end..." Zinnia huffed before moving closer to her teammates. "Caeso, L-Lumen, the next ch-challenge is 'in front of the t-two weapon s-storage houses near the q-quad.' I g-guess these t-tokens are supposed to help us. Six for each of us, l-looks like!"

She gingerly placed a hand on each of them with her battery active, intent on discharging any spare electricity in their bodies, then handed them each their six coins. Aelita and Kristen would have to make their own way.
Blessings to the gods Kristin worshipped as Zinnia took away the nipping and nagging energy that was still plaguing her. Tawny eyes fluttered open and she managed to sit up and stand with a lot more ease than before. She took the coins Zinnia offered and quickly pocketed them.

Her hair fell back to her shoulders with no muss or fuss as Zinnia took the last of the electrical energy away.

"Thanks Zinnia," she whispered, a grateful look crossing to the other girl. Picking up her fallen shield, she secured it across her back. "Onwards and upwards," she said, looking at each of them as she turned and began heading toward the quad.

She made no comment on the two remaining coins for Kristin and Aelita. They could decide what they wanted to do themselves. A quick look at everyone and they were all okay. And that was all she needed to know.
Before Caeso could even read a single word of the note, it lit up suddenly enough to startle Zinnia and leave him annoyed. "I should have known," he muttered.

Zinnia, however, had been the one to read what was supposedly expected of them before the note made a stunning transformation to ash and smoke. Eighteen coins, was it? What? Were they to attend some child's fair now, since this entire ordeal was perforated throughout with such an overbearing pall of condescension?

Caeso regarded the six coins in his hand dubiously. He didn't want them, he didn't care for them, but he wasn't in such a mood as to give them away to Aelita or Kristen. Rather, he would prefer to join them in having zero coins.

"Here. Take them," Caeso said to Lumen and Zinnia, splitting his six coins into three in each hand and offering them. "For I shudder to think what winning looks like to our 'esteemed' Proctor Ebersol."

Lumen Zinnia Aelita Everleigh Ebersol
Kristen flinched slightly at the note's immolation, blinking, and then saying, "Well now what shall we do?"

But Zinnia explained. Seemed this next part of Everleigh's—Proctor Ebersol's, she still had yet to get firmly accustomed to that—Proctor Ebersol's test involved some sort of transaction. Only Aionus and the poison eater knew the true significance of the coins for it. Yet as it turned out, Kristen and Aelita (and perhaps Caeso too) were looking to be left with none at hand.

Kristen eyed Aelita and said again, a touch flustered, "Well now what shall we do?"

"You needn't be so troubled," Caeso said. "If anything, I'd wager it just as likely those coins turn out to be a curse than some supposed boon; would such trickery surprise you?"

Kristen glanced with uncertainty between Aelita and Caeso. How could any of them, with zero coins, even participate in what was coming next?

Lumen Zinnia Aelita Everleigh Ebersol
Lu paused at Caeso's offer.

Taking them, she thrust her open palm with them to Kristen. "Here. Decide if you want to share any with Aelita." While Lumen would much rather have pocketed them for her brothers, she also wasn't going to leave a classmate behind.

And, she wasn't about to send cursed coins to her siblings, either.

Eyes shifted ever so slightly to Caeso.

"Just promise to drag my body out so it's not embarrassing if I fall when this is all said and done."
Caeso gave a nod to Lumen. "A promise made, a promise kept," he said.

Though it still stood to be revealed which was worse: having coins or not having coins. There was a strong argument to be made for Aelita's course of action thus far; after all, hadn't it been first Kristen suffering, and then the whole lot of them once the lightning trap was sprung, and only afterward did Aelita show, fresh, pristine, and unharmed?

Pah. All Caeso wanted was to get this over with and return to his slumber (though he suspected there wouldn't be time left for it in the end).

Kristen took the three coins offered. "Why, thank you Lumen!"

Neither she nor Caeso nor even Zinnia for that matter were obligated to share any of the coins with anyone. Thank the Holy Sentinel though that at least everyone here was of a level temperament and sound mind; what names among their peers could one readily conjure and know for a certainty that they would have resorted to brutish measures to secure all the coins for him or herself? The present company had dignity and civility, rare traits to be found here on the Academy grounds.

She looked to Aelita. Said, "Would you like a coin or two? Or will you retire from this test again and rejoin Kor's company?"

It almost felt like a silly question to ask.

Lumen Aelita
Lumen was either more kind or less competitive than Zinnia, it seemed. Surprised as she was that Caeso would give up a distinct advantage, he had believed this to be an insipid waste of time from the start (his point about the coins being trapped wasn't uncalculated either, but Zinnia's intuition spoke otherwise). Now Lumen had given up the spares as well. Zinnia did a quick tally in her head.

Six coins for Lumen.
Three to be split between Kristen (ugh) and Aelita (ehh).
Eleven coins for herself (yay!).
None for Caeso (sad).
Whatever they were for, the note did say that "the more you had the better," or something to that effect. Zinnia liked her odds. She smiled.

"Shall we g-get a m-move on, then? The s-sooner we're done the sooner we c-can get back to bed." She suggested, hooking a thumb in the direction of the quad.
The note describing the test was gone in a flare that caught Aelita's eyes. Talks of coins ensued among the group.

Once Kristen offered a couple coins to Aelita, the light mage took a moment to quietly ponder. She then looked at Kristen and shook her head.

No, keep them,. Or throw them away, is what I'd do,” Aelita told Kristen.

Stepping away from Kristen, Aelita told the group, “I was waiting in the quad for the sun to rise and morning training to begin. Shouldn’t be long now. I’ll see what mess you continue to dig up yourselves.
The Western Quad:

Storage units were placed here. More often than not they carried things such as weapons, which the Academy needed plenty of, and gear that could be given to initiates as they outgrew their old gear. The younger initiates lived in hand-me-downs unless they were from a noble house, and worse yet, they had to make due with weapons that were older than they were, unless a proctor found them particularly special and gave them a newer tool.

Regardless of what was held in these storage units, all initiates had at one point in their time at the Academy been sent here to either fetch something or to store something within the large structures. Nothing was out of ordinary in the early morning, dawn still not about to come for another two hours or more.

Until the students arrived, when then they would see that something was unusual: there was a wooden podium, first not there then all of a sudden appearing.

On the podium was a notebook, filled with Everleigh’s handwriting:

Let me tell you the story called The Dreadlord King,

The Dreadlord King was feared throughout all of Liadin. He was known as a dreadlord first and a king last, but he ruled his kingdom with what he thought was a just rule. Other countries and lands called him ruthless and cruel, but the Dreadlord King followed certain principles no matter the situation. The people loved him because he was fair and no matter who it was, the Dreadlord King continued to be fair. This wasn’t to say he ran trials or did investigations to see if someone was innocent, but rather all criminals were given the same chance and the same choice.

The chance was this: any criminal caught, whether it was for stealing a apple or murdering their neighbor, would be brought to the large arena in the center of the kingdom, right by the Dreadlord King’s castle. There, the criminal would walk out and he would be presented with two large wooden buildings and two large wooden doors.

Held inside their buildings would be the fate of the criminal. You see, the Dreadlord King believed in a fickle thing called Fate. Now if the criminal was truly innocent, as they so claimed, then Fate would surely be on their side. If they were guilty then the Dreadlord King believed that Fate would be on the People’s, and ultimately the King’s side. Every criminal had a equal opportunity and chance to make a choice that would define their life.

So what were in these rooms?

One room would hold a beautiful maiden and a sackful of gold. The criminal would then be married to this maiden and would have enough gold to create a life for them and their family. The crowd would cheer and clap when the maiden would run into the criminal’s arms, and whoops and hollers could be heard when he lifted the sack of gold and thanked the Dreadlord King.

The other room would hold all sorts of starving, venomous and poisonous creatures that would attack the criminal. This was the audience’s favorite as it meant that proper punishment had been delivered on the criminal and they would shout and scream with unbridled joy as basilisks turned him to stone or snakes and scorpions fought over the corpse.

The Dreadlord King was a fair and just king, letting all criminals have this choice instead of just hanging them right away or placing them in eternal servitude and debt. The Dreadlord King believed himself to be fair and just and the peoples of his Kingdom didn’t complain.

The Dreadlord King had a daughter, who was a dreadlord as well, but hardly renowned like her father. Still she was a dreadlord first as her father was and a princess last. This Dreadlord Princess should have been a pawn in the Dreadlord King’s court but she had wrongfully been seduced by one of the Dreadlord King’s advisors.

Now the Dreadlord Princess loved this Advisor and likewise the Advisor loved the Dreadlord Princess. But because the Advisor had defiled the Dreadlord Princess, the Dreadlord King put him in jail. His trial would be the same as all the others: if he was innocent then he would get a new chance at life with a beautiful wife and gold, and if he was guilty then he would die.

But remember, the Dreadlord Princess loved the Advisor. Neither her, the king, the criminal or the audience ever knew which building was which. It changed with every trial and was without rhyme or reason. Who even chose which outcome went were was unknown to the Dreadlord King himself. Regardless, the Dreadlord Princess couldn’t be deterred and was relentless to find out which building was which for her lover.

On the day of the Advisor’s trial, the Dreadlord King was in a fowl mood. In truth, he hated the fact that he couldn’t outright kill the Advisor, after all, he knew he was guilty. But he trusted in Fate. And as Fate would have it, when the Advisor went out to the ring, he looked first at the Dreadlord Princess. Their eyes met and the Advisor could tell in the Dreadlord Princess’ expression that she knew: she knew where the beautiful maiden was and where the snakes and scorpions resided.

So as he walked over to the buildings, he paused and looked up at her again. The Dreadlord Princess nodded her head and raised her left hand, and seeing this hand, the Advisor smiled and eagerly went to the door on his left in relation to the Dreadlord Princess’s hand.

So which Fate did the Advisor receive?

Or rather, I should be asking you, initiate, which door did the Dreadlord Princess choose to send her lover? You see, when the Dreadlord Princess had learned of which building held which fate, she was left to wrestle with a insurmountable choice: to watch her lover be happy and live a life without her where he would marry another and create a family with her while she, the Dreadlord Princess, would be forced into a loveless marriage— or, would she watch him die in front of her but know their love remained unblemished?

The thought of her lover leaving her behind and forgetting about her made her heart ache in ways she had never experienced. The thought of her lover dying also made her heart ache. No matter the choice he made, he would be leaving the Dreadlord Princess alone in a future she didn’t want.

The Dreadlord Princess took after her father, being a Dreadlord first and a Princess last, but could love change her to become altruistic? Or did the thoughts of her lover living the life she wanted made her revert back to her old ways?

So is the building on the left the beautiful maiden and the sack of gold or was it immediate and painful death?

Decide amongst yourselves and make a decision, then in tandem, open the doors at the same time if their are different groups. Good luck.

Kristen Pirian Caeso Diemut Lumen Aelita Zinnia
It was Kristen who spotted the appearance of the notebook, and who read aloud its contents for the benefit of her fellow Initiates. Impressions, as one might guess, were varied. Unsurprisingly the one among them most vexed by this story and the decision at its conclusion was Caeso. His annoyance was radiating from his pinched expression in droves.

"I take it you have some...thoughts you would be eager to share?"

Lumen Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
Caeso took in a deep breath when Kristen addressed him, and with closed eyes let it out slowly. Yes, a veritable legion of contemptuous thoughts marched through his mind, but in the end he decided:

"I needn't share the lot of them. I've spoken quite adequately on my appraisal of Proctor Ebersol and the 'usefulness' of this test. Only will I speak on this...fairy tale...and its attending decision."


Caeso crossed his arms, as if this could keep at bay his simmering irritation and allow him to speak levelly. Gesture or no gesture, his growling tone was suppressed, and he addressed the problem as he might any other, speaking as anyone would in hearty support of their argument. "The answer, in my view, is clear. The Dreadlord Princess absolutely killed the Advisor, and I will tell you now that it has nothing to do with her being a Dreadlord and everything to do with her being a princess—which is to say, a woman. What foe could possibly be more formidable than a woman's own jealousy? The Princess's love would sooner consign the Advisor to death than spare him from it, for the sight of him with another woman would surely prove intolerable even when its only alternative would be the sight of his corpse. The torment of grief from his passing would fade, but the torment for all the days of her life seeing him and knowing she could not have him would be a thousand times greater. And how neatly, of course, the Advisor's death would keep him and their union perfect in her mind, whilst at the same time opening herself up to the freshness of a new romance."

Lumen Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
"Caeso Diemut," Lumen's voice was the type of low and quiet that could command a room with its severity in tone alone. Tawny-eyes settled fully on her fellow initiate. One she considered in the handful she could fully rely on and count as a friend. One she thought she knew.

"That is the most inappropriate, low-class misogyny I've ever heard you say." She stared at him for a long, quiet moment. "You disappoint me." And she did not look away as she held his gaze.

"If you are so confident in a woman's choice for the sake of her sex alone. Then what are you waiting for? Go open that door."
Zinnia pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long sigh. The benefit of the doubt was often a difficult thing to give, but she was going to try her best here. Caeso was, after all, a noble, and the lens provided by that silver spoon put some very awkward twists on his perspective sometimes.

"Caeso let's just...w-weigh our options for a m-moment here, play d-devil's advocate, okay?" She began gently. "If the p-princess really loved the adv-visor like the story s-said, then she w-wouldn't act in her own s-self interest."

She considered the notebook and the story, imagining herself in the position of the lead if only for a moment.

"If it were m-me, I'd rather see you--" Zinnia halted herself the moment the word left her mouth, practically choking on the "you." "Er--the r-royal 'you...' m-my h-h-hypothetical partner!"

She breathed slowly, stopped sputtering, and rallied past the moment."
"...Alive and w-well. Kn-nowing that the p-person I loved was s-safe and happy, even without me, would t-trump petty jealousy. The g-guilt of knowing I k-killed that person would eat me al-live." She finished, stewing thoughtfully for a moment. Something occurred to her, and if she thought of it then certainly the character in the story would have, right?

"...Besides, if they're 'D-dreadlords first' then she should be sm-smart, right? Couldn't she j-just run away and elope with the advisor after s-saving him?"
"Elucidate away," she motioned a hand through the night air between them. Jaw clenched, finding it ironic that of all people saying she would stew in sanctimony was coming from Caeso Diemut.

"I would like to hear your prejudice thoughts against both sexes."

Keeping her gaze locked on Caeso, she said to Zinnia.

"And thank you, Zinnia, for putting my thoughts so wonderfully to words."
Caeso heard Zinnia's interjection. Listened to it on a level that was remote and perfunctory. But all the while his focus was on Lumen, gaze unyielding, awaiting her answer. Such was his nature when dialogue took on more the character of a spar than a conversation; and, in either arena, the mind must be firm and collected, and this he put to practice with all his ability.

Answer received, he spoke, "Whereas it is in a woman's nature to harbor jealousy, it is in a man's nature to indulge in lechery. What further proof do we need than that shameful showing for the brothel visit offered in the days of old? Lechery, jealousy, these are not the only vices with which men and woman must contend, but they are foremost. Virtue springs from the denial of these base impulses, but no one is born good; they must be made so, through proper instruction. And then through action is it demonstrated."

He was aware of Kristen, standing over there with her pursed lips, wanting to speak but waiting patiently. He would close his point succinctly.

"As for the story—hmph, such as it is—I see in it no reason to believe that the Dreadlord Princess would possess such virtue." And with a small look and gesture to Zinnia, in light of her most recent argument, said, "The title of Dreadlord guarantees only lethality, not intelligence. Hah! What names come to mind, now that I have evoked the idea of imbecilic Dreadlords?"

He crossed his arms again. "My position stands. The Princess killed the Advisor."

From his father Sabine, through his correspondences, did Caeso receive his views, and he trusted in his father's judgments.

Lumen Zinnia
She listened, her gaze as intently on Caeso's as much as his was on hers.' He may be speaking in general terms and perhaps generally he wasn't all wrong. But, well...

"I disagree with you. And while you can speak for your own sex all you want, don't assume you know the fairer." Chin tipped toward the door he was so sure on.

"If you are so sure. None of us are stopping you from opening that door."
Caeso pointed to the note in Kristen's hands. Said matter-of-factly, "It is instructed that we are to open the doors in tandem if there are differing groups. And so it is that we must all face hazard together."

Lumen Zinnia
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Kristen stayed out of the squabble between her fellow Initiates. Blessed Aionus, did Caeso and the vast swath of his attending views grate upon her nerves. But in one respect, that through action is character demonstrated, she agreed, and she was content enough to let that be so with respect to certain other facets of his argument.

All the while, she had been ruminating on the story and the note as the exchange between her three companions went on. She'd waited for her turn, as it were, and Lumen provided the impetus. Finally, she arranged her various thoughts as best she could and made ready to present them.

"I think...this puzzle is unanswerable. While I know what the distinction of Dreadlord grimly suggests, and I know what outcome that I, personally," at this she gave an assenting look to Zinnia and Lumen, "would like to believe, in the end...that is all to which this test amounts. Belief. Opinion. So much of this note in its latter portion is crafted to make us question, to foster doubt; one line of reasoning is immediately followed by its contrary! And there is nothing, so far as I can tell, of substance within the story that provides definitive proof. What are we to draw from? That the word 'fowl' is used instead of 'foul' when describing the King's mood? The second test played with such wording, but here, it...it points to nothing!"

Kristen exhaled heavily, feeling a touch vexed, thinking she might not be communicating her thoughts clearly, but she pressed on, "Yet...yet I will not say that the answer is merely Proctor Ebersol's opinion on what the Dreadlord Princess would do. I think...yes, I think that, in light of the fact that no reason can deduce nor evidence unearth the answer...that both doors are trapped. To answer is to fail the test, as it represents, so I believe, an unwinnable game. The correct course of action, then, would be to wait."

Her lips pursed again, the foundations of her surety menaced by doubt spawned from the decisions, already made, of her companions. Maybe she was the fool here, even more so than Caeso, who at least made a choice.

Inquisitive, she asked of the three of them, "What do you think?"

Lumen Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
“It’s because Ebersol is a horrible speller,” Proctor Palahniuk piped up, appearing out of nowhere and dragging behind him a bastard sword. Not the sort of weapon he ever went for, and that much could be ascertain by how he was holding it, letting the blade make a lazy line in the dirt. It’s not like it was for him.

“I’ve informed her on many occasions that when she writes she needs to slow down. You’d think with all the effort she put into it making it neat and having every letter as tiny as it could be she’d spell better but nooo,” Palahniuk yawned, his mouth stretching wide as he finished singing out his favorite word.

More than the initiates, Palahniuk seemed to look more disheveled and tired than he had before. There was fresh coffee in his cup, the steam wafting up and the rich smell doing more to announce the proctor’s arrival than his own footsteps.

“Whenever I tell her anything, she always has a answer for it. It’s her hubris, I swear.” Another yawn and then Proctor Palahniuk began walking away. “Not to mention despite saying she ReMeMbErS everything, she got the story wrong. The Princess raises her right hand, not her left. I don’t know why she’d get a pivotal detail wrong.”

Kristen Pirian Caeso Diemut Lumen Zinnia
A strange intrusion, no doubt, and the second of such from Proctor Palahniuk this early morning. To Kristen's eyes he looked...unwell, especially when one considered the standards to which Proctors as a whole adhered. Previously she had felt aggrieved by him, but now she was moved by something more like concern, if not outright pity, for the man. What could have prompted his almost delirious state?

With all this in view, what Caeso suggested after Proctor Palahniuk's departure wasn't well received by Kristen.

"Did he just now unwittingly let slip the answer?"

Kristen's brow furrowed in objection, and she started saying, "I cannot believe that is so. His words had more the character of an improper rant than anything else, and therefore—"

"Listen," Caeso interjected, "we could waste breath till the sun rises, speaking for this or that back and forth, but for what end? Deciphering some inane story, riddled with error as it is? Why not allow this providence to guide us to a timely resolution?"


"No objections, Pirian. And no 'waiting' either, that is a poor answer unworthy of a Dreadlord to be. We are all facing hazard together."

And with that Caeso laid a heavy hand on her shoulder, coercing her along with him to the right door. Her protestations amounted to nothing. And so, thinking still that both doors were trapped, Kristen, already ill with poison from the last test, awaited with anxiety for her fellows and the opening of the door or doors.

Lumen Zinnia