Five Princes at Halloween

From Legion of Geeks Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Five Princes at Halloween

GURPS + a little Amber DRPG (in character creation only).

Stat auction for comparative stats (stats between 1 and 100) that is then converted into straight GURPS stats. Human average around 30, human maximum around 50. Possible PC stat 100.

Powerful template. Jumper with Takes Extra Time, New Worlds, Limited Jump, Costs Fatigue. Gadgets common. Shapeshifting common (alternate form, not morph). Unaging. Lots of skills. Other Advantages possible.

Plot: You are five powerful World Jumpers traveling together when you find out that you and perhaps your entire World Jumping family are under siege by a mysterious and terrifying force.

Template

Things in italics are optional. Total will be total of required traits.

Advantages

  • Jumper, World (120)
    • Extra Carry Capacity, Extra-Heavy (+50%)
    • New Worlds (+50%)
    • Limited Jump, 1 world (-20%)
    • Requires Movement (-20%)
    • Costs Fatigue 2 (-10%)
    • Preparation Required, 10 minutes (-30%)
    • Roll based on HT (0)
  • Alternate Form (15 per form, or more)
    • Reduced Time 2, 3 seconds (+40%)
    • Costs Fatigue 4 (-40%)
  • Regeneration, variable (10-100)
  • Snatcher (40)
    • Preparation Required, time depending on how "far" the object is (-25%)
    • Costs Fatigue, depending on how "far" the object is (-25%)
    • Roll based on HT (0)
  • Unaging (15)
  • Talent, personal (5)
  • Gadget limitations on items are very common, though only one can be purchased.
  • Allies are common, though there are strict limits.
    • Only a single Ally can be bought at up to 50% of your point total and it must be of animal intelligence.
    • Groups of Allies can be bought at up to 25% of your point total and would signify armies you possess off on other Planes or countries you rule.
  • Just about anything else if you give me a solid reason for it.

Total points: 150

History and Figures

Almandine

The jewel of your world, the love of Almandine burns brightly in your blood. Almandine is a city, the city, built atop a mountain plateau on the edge of a soft, red ocean. You were born there. You have lived there most of your abnormally long life. Many fond (and not so fond) memories are attached to that glorious place nestled partway between sky and sea. The place has a long and storied history stretching back so far that even your long-memoried kind cannot tell the difference between history and myth. The people who live there believe that Almandine has always been there and always will be. Though at some points in its history, the latter has been in doubt. Like now.

Though a magical place to behold, true magic does not seem to function there. Though there have been a few who have been able to demonstrate some small powers with effort. Technology as well seems to fail there. Sword, shield and armor are the powers that rule there.

Brogan

Hard drinking, hard living Uncle Brogan. He lives every day like it's his last. And very many times, it probably should have been. But Brogan has an incredible ability to recover from wounds. He has been stabbed, shot, hung, poisoned, drowned and more. Sometimes all on the same night. He has been pronounced dead in more Dreams than he hasn't been pronounced dead in. He's a liar, a cheat, a thief and a scoundrel. As he's fond of saying, "I know every trick in the book because I wrote it when your great grandmother was in diapers." He has black market connections in dozens of Dreams and is a wanted man in more. And the best thing about Brogan? He's proud of all of it.

Erastus

Forge Master of Almandine, there is no better smith of medieval arms in creation. His simplest arms and armor are of superlative quality. And his commissioned works are the things of legend. He is truly dedicated to his job and spends his time between creations in Dream, searching for new smithing techniques and materials with unusual properties. His crowning achievement, he's always said, is his daughter Luna. And for her he made his second best creation, a suit of platemail and gave it to her on the day she passed her test.

Kain

Kain, the eternal ruler of Almandine, has been King for thousands of years. He is mysterious, enigmatic and aloof though loved and feared by his people in equal measure. No one knows of his origins, as he is not a native of the land. The story goes that he simply appeared one day, thousands of years ago, and the people accepted him and elevated him to the throne. His rule has been good and just and has lead to prosperity and happiness for people as a whole. No place is perfect, however, as at times wars have been fought against neighboring Dreams or creatures far-flung Nightmares have invaded the land. Almandine, with the guidance of Kain, has survived them all and prospered. Kain is growing old, though, putting the lie to his Blood's fabled immortality. He is a shadow of his former self. Once, he was as strong as an army, as intelligent as a library of scholars, as fast as flock of birds on the wing. Though still a match for any one man, he is shriveled, sunken and his mind, though sharp, tends to wander. Rumblings about succession have been going on for years because of Kain's quick decline. Soon, something will have to be done to put a strong ruler, one of the Blood, on the throne.

Minerva

Minerva. Intelligent, wise, powerful sorcerous and daughter of Kain. She is the most gifted in the magical Arts of any of the Blood, save perhaps Kain. She has a great understanding of the universe and its functioning. She is the only one known to ever get a spell to work in the great city of Almandine, and still no one knows how. She seems to have a unique insight into the underpinnings of the universe and like most of her kind, is loathe to share the secrets she's spent so many arduous years uncovering. She is always off in Dream studying and experimenting, seeking to increase her already vast knowledge. Perhaps because of this, she is one of the more aloof members of the family, having little to do with anyone else. Still, most of the grandchildren of Kain have a fondness for her because in their earlier years, she spent an extended period in Almandine, tutoring the grandchildren and answering a good many questions on the workings of Dream. Any of the grandchildren with extensive knowledge of the magical Arts got their first instruction from her.

Tegwar

Of all the Princes of Almandine, Tegwar is perhaps the best liked. He is kind, gentle, slow to anger (and slow to forgive) and has a very simple, straightforward nature that most find appealing. Especially when compared to his very devious, calculating, deceitful siblings. He is also a giant, mountain of a man. The only one who could ever beat Tegwar in a straight battle of strength was Kain, before his decline. He has been known, in combat, to pick up boulders half his size and sling them at enemies like they were nothing. Though at least passingly familiar with most weapons, Tegwar prefers to use his fists in combat, pummeling his foes into submission. One would think he would be at a distinct disadvantage against a man armed with a mace or a sword but Tegwar has also been known to shrug off blows that would fell a normal man.

Tegwar's favorite pastime is a testament to his gentle nature and highlights the main difference between him and his brethren. Your Uncle Brogan once had this to say about Tegwar over a glass of beer at his favorite tavern: "A great long time ago, Tegwar got in a bit of a tiff with Kain and wandered off into Dream, fuming mad. He spent years traveling until he settled down on this Oriental world. Fell in love with the culture, the people, the traditions. Had 'imself a big house with a sand garden and a little oriental wife. A sand garden. Can you believe that? Anyway, she died. The wife, I mean. They do that, after a few years. Shame. Some of 'em are quite nice. I mean, once I knew this guy... What? Oh right. Tegwar. Sorry, 'ad a few too many. Anyway, after 'is wife died, he came home. Brought with 'im a cartload of them... whatdoyoucallems. Origamis. A real, honest to god cartload. He took 'em to 'is room and took every damn one of em apart. Took 'im weeks. Learned how to do it real good, too. Now he makes 'em all the time. 'is damn room's covered in 'em. Mine, too. Amazing things, never seen their like. Not in all the Dreams I been to. Even the oriental ones. 'scuse me, I'm gonna go puke."

The Blood

Kain and those of his family are an incredibly infertile race. In the thousands of years that the philandering King has been in and around Almandine, less than three dozen children are known to have been sired by him. Oddly, the Blood does not always run true and the Powers of the King never manifest. Less than two dozen children of the King are "of the Blood" and of them, somewhere between 9 and eleven are known to yet live.

You are of the third generation, the grandsons and granddaughters of the King. Dukes and Duchesses of uninhabited lands around Almandine. The majority of you are over a hundred years old but have only come into your Blood about a decade ago. Still infants among your long-lived family. You've had only ten years or so to search through The Dream and explore both it and your powers. Coming into your Blood was a difficult and trying experience and many don't survive it. It takes years of training and study to pass the Tests, the final step to coming into your Blood. The Tests are a four part marathon of trials testing the candidate's strength, stamina and intelligence to their utmost culminating in a secret ritual known only to those who have passed the Tests. One must drink the blood of another of Kain's children... and survive it. To those not of the Blood, drinking is a death sentence. Those who are of the Blood are still at risk if they are not strong enough to take the incredible pain that drinking the blood causes.

The Tests

Though no one realizes this till afterward, the purpose of the training and the first three Tests are threefold.

The obvious reason, the one that all Children assume is the main reason, is simply to train the mind and body in preparation to pass the tests. Like school for those of the Blood.

The second reason is to promote maturity. Gross character flaws are hammered out through learning and discipline. Upon passing the final test, those of the Blood are suddenly given vast powers over entire worlds in Dream. The possibility of that power turning the person into a monster is enormous. As it stands, those of the Blood have a tendency toward arrogance, low empathy towards others and a certain Machiavellian attitude. Training at least limits that somewhat and teaches self-discipline.

The third and perhaps most important reason is to discourage those not fit for the power. Those who aren't strong enough, smart enough or emotionally stable enough are never given the opportunity to take the Test and eventually give up and take on a vocation. Even before the Test, those of the Blood are generally more able than most normal people. It would be a huge waste of talent to see them die during the Tests or soon afterward.

The Tests themselves are varied, secretive and personal. No one speaks of their Test to others. It is known that it always involves a jaunt through Dream. Often, it involves denizens (sometimes nightmare creatures) from Dream. And the three parts are always in the same format. A test of Strength. A test of Stamina. And a test of Intelligence. Though often a clever person can make up for a deficiency in one area with an abundance in another.

The Dream

The Dream is what those of the Blood call all the different worlds surrounding Almandine. It is called this because of what those of the Blood invariably say when asked how they walk from one world to another. Tengwar, the simplest and most plain-spoken of Kain's children has been quoted thus: "It's like when you're asleep, dreaming. Something happens in your dream that you don't like and suddenly you know you're dreaming. And since you know it's all a dream, you know you can change it. See? So, the key is knowing that you're dreaming. The rest is just telling the dream what to do."

Those of the Blood can walk, ride or fly through adjacent Dreamplaces, slowly moving toward whatever place they desire. Movement is one of the requirements, along with concentration, a vision of what you desire and the strength to get there. Moving between worlds is hard and takes an enormous toll on the body. However, nearly anything can be found in The Dream. Nearly being the key. You only have so much control over the places you walk through. Certain esoteric laws must be obeyed. And for each thing you change, you step into an entirely different world where many other unintended changes will take place. For example, let's say you are stuck far out in The Dream, in a dense forest, exhausted from a fight with some horrible creature and start Walking toward a place where a horse is so you can ride home. You may lose the forest as you Walk into an open plain where a herd of horses run or you may come upon a camp full of bandits with horses in the middle of the forest.

There are also places far from Almandine where the Dreams grow wild and scary. These places are called The Nightmares and those who can walk among worlds stay away from them. Many have been lost in these strange places. And some of Almandine's most terrifying and dogged enemies dwell in these dark and dangerous worlds. As far as anyone knows, the only other beings who can walk between worlds live here as well.

Where did it come from?

This was a common question during your studies with Minerva, your Aunt and tutor in all things related to how the universes work. She always had the same answer, as well, "I don't know. Maybe you should ask Kain." Kain, being Kain, always had the same answer, "We'll talk about it later. I'm busy." But the constant barrage of questions from the young Dukes and Duchesses eventually produced a real answer from him. And what he said was this.

"Long ago, before The Dream, there was only one world. Things were strange there. Reality was as malleable as the strangest place in Nightmares to those with the power to set their will upon it. Though it was a more peaceful place than any in Nightmare. The greatest cause of strife was a great beast. He sewed evil and conflict wherever he went. One day a handsome and noble Prince decided to do battle with the beast and cleanse this taint from the land. He met the beast in combat on the field of battle and after 4 days and 5 nights, slew it. It was then that the beast's people came upon them and saw the Prince covered in its blood. Being the first of their kind ever to die, they were much aggrieved and confused. Thinking that the hero had simply put him into an endless slumber, they cast many powerful spells at him trying to wake him. When nothing worked, they all gathered around the body and shared all of their energies for a massive spell of awakening.

It had some unintended consequences. Perhaps because of all the strange half-dissipated spells surrounding the area or the fact that they were trying to force the magic into doing the impossible, the beast was placed into a permanent deathless sleep. He did not live precisely but he dreamed. And his dreams spread out from his body and became The Dream. Everything that the beast has ever dreamed is out there somewhere in The Dream waiting to be found. This is also why we can't find everything we desire in Dream. He has not dreamed it, yet."

The entire time Kain was telling the tale, you could feel that he was weaving truths and untruths together to make a plausible story. Minerva, as he was telling it, seemed to glean more from the tale than most. She, however, is just as closed-mouthed as her father.

Legendary Artifacts and Companions

Blaze, the horse

Erastus's Platemail

Luna's father, upon her attaining the Blood, forged and gifted to her this magical platemail. Master of the forges of Almandine, Erastus is the greatest forger of arms and armor in existence and many believe this piece to be his finest work.

Stats

Erastus's Platemail [20]

  • DR from Armor 7 [0]
  • DR, Reflection 3 [30]
  • Can be stolen [-10%]
  • Unique [-25%]

Eye of Nox

The Eye of Nox is a beautifully worked onyx cat's eye about the size of a fist. It was given to Jarvis's wife by a powerful being named Nox off somewhere in Dream. Purportedly, it was to reward her for some monumental task she performed for Nox. Rumors about as to what the service was, including some favor involving another powerful being that Nox was mystically bound not to do herself to saving Nox's realm from complete destruction. She's been reluctant thus far to reveal the exact details herself.

Stats

Eye of Nox (30)

  • 360 degree Vision (40)
    • Panoptic 2 (+60%)
  • Darkvision (25)
  • Can be stolen (-30%)
  • Unique (-25%)

Flower the falcon

Hunter The Shadow Dog

On his first sojourn into Dream, Mog went farther than most venture in their lifetimes. Out past where the Dreams grow wild, on the border of Nightmare, he met a fierce beast. It crept along the ground as a shadow, stalking him for days, not just in a single Dream but following him through them. Impressed by the beast's stealth, tenacity and ability, Mog sought to trap the creature. Setting an elaborate trap made of light and shadows, Mog captured the beast. No one is sure exactly how Mog tamed the beast, however, and he is himself quiet on this issue. Some say he used magic to force it into servitude. Others say that the entire story is untrue and he gained the beasts trust when he found it lying wounded in Nightmare and nursed it back to health. Others even think that the beast is much smarter than any save Mog give it credit for and it made a deal to serve him. No matter how he did it, Mog has himself a powerful companion now with extraordinary abilites to fight at his side.

Mormegil, the Blood Sword

Mormegil is a massive two-handed sword whose blade is the deep reddish black of dried blood. Once having belonged to Kain himself, it is said that the color comes from the blood stains of all those Kain has slain over thousands of years. Most believe that it is simply an unknown reddish metal found far off in Dreams. Regardless, when he became too feeble to wield it, he entrusted the mighty sword to Jarvis and named him Protector of Almandine, making him the de facto head of the realm's small band of crack troops, The Bloodkin.

Stats

Mormegil, the Blood Sword (22)

  • Allies, The Bloodkin (18)
    • Group of 10 allies (x6)
    • Available almost all the time, 15 or less (x3)
  • Damage (5)
    • sw+6 cut, thr+6 imp
  • Extra Attack (25)
  • Can be stolen (-30%)
  • Unique (-25%)

Petal the wolf

Petal is an enormous deep blue and purple wolf, sleek and powerful and intimidating. The first words Forest spoke when his parents brought her (and Flower) out of Dream was "It's a flower and a petal!" And so they were named. Petal doesn't seem to mind her name and protects Forest with the fury of a mother wolf. More intelligent than your average wolf, and even some people, she watches everything around her with a knowing gaze and follows commands from Forest implicitly.

Skin of the Werebeast

The Skin is the pelt of a shapeshifting werecreature Forest defeated off in Dream. After tracking the shifting prints of the elusive creature for weeks, he managed to corner it and force it into a confrontation. The battle lasted for days, taxing each of them to their limits. Forest, after days of constant struggle, slew the beast and kept its pelt as a trophy. Only later did he realize the incredible properties of the pelt. No matter what form the wearer is in, the effects persist. Also any tear, break or damage it suffers instantly repairs.

Stats

Skin of the Werebeast (26)

  • Active Change, all forms (2)
  • DR 5 (25)
    • All forms (+40%)
    • Tough Skin (-40%)
  • Non-Reciprocal Damage, all forms (8)
  • Reciprocal Rest, all forms (5)
  • Can be stolen (-10%)
  • Unique (-25%)

Tibbers the bear

Brought from Dream at the same time as Petal and Flower (and for the same task), Tibbers has been Meadow's companion and protector for as long as he remembers. Though big, lazy, and not as smart as Petal, he is massively strong and still follows orders to the best of his ability.

The Cloak of Colors

The Cloak of Colors is a powerful and dangerous object, both to the user and the usee. When this plain, unassuming grey cloak is spread open, the swirling, multi-colored interior is shown. The victim becomes immediately hypnotized by the sight, unable to move or look away. Once activated, however, the Cloak begins to drain the wearer at a frightening pace. One that the wearer cannot stop once begun. The wearer is free to move and act while the Cloak is active but it will continue to draw away his strength until either the victim breaks free, passes out, or dies.

What strange Dream this device comes from only Tegwar, Jarvis's father, knows. He has never divulged its location, though he has said on many occasions that he liked the people there. They valued strength, endurance and honor above all. Qualities that Tegwar has in abundance.

Stats

The Cloak of Colors [22]

  • Binding 16
    • Engulfing [+60%]
    • Unbreakable [+40%]
    • Based on IQ [0]
    • One-shot [-10%]
    • Takes Recharge, 15 seconds [-20%]
    • Costs Fatigue, 2 per second [-20%]
    • Non-switchable [-50%]
  • Can be stolen [-10%]
  • Unique [-25%]

The Heart Dagger

The Heart Dagger is a steel dagger whose edge is the same reddish black hue as Mormegil. It was also a former possession of Kain's. It was gifted to Luna one day when he saw her practicing throwing daggers on the practice field with the soldiers of Almandine. Kain came up to her and helped her better her aim. At the end of the day, impressed with her progress, he gifted her the dagger. It is one of the few pleasant memories Luna has of her standoffish grandfather and by far the most time she'd spent with him at once.

Stats

The Heart Dagger (15)

  • Armor Divisor, 10 (20)
  • Damage (5)
    • thr+2 imp
  • Can be stolen (-25%)
  • Unique (-25%)
  • Talent (5)
    • +1 to Knife, Throwing Weapon (Knife), Survival (Woodlands)

The Wand of Light

An interesting artifact out of Dream, Mog found this thin, 8" long radiant cylinder of cold iron lying in the middle of a forest. No homes or civilizations or even encampments were known to even exist on this well-traveled Dream. Pendergast is an enormous world, entirely covered in trees and vegetation. Beautiful to behold and dangerous to the unwary, the Dream is a favorite vacation spot for many of the Blood.

Strangely, Minerva once corrected Mog about its illuminating properties. He said, "It's sort of useful. It shines just like a torch." To which she corrected him, "It's not really shining at all. Not in the way a torch does. It's actually pulling light at itself from all directions and absorbing it. The light you see is the little bit that reflects off the outside instead of being absorbed."

Stats

Want of Light [22]

  • Shines like a torch [1]
  • Invisibility
    • Switchable [+10%]
    • Can carry objects, Medium [+50%]
    • Substantial only [-10%]
  • Can be stolen [-30%]
  • Unique [-25%]
  • Costs fatigue, 1 per second [-10%]

Quest logish and Wtf really happened?!?!?

Quest logish

During the 25-yearly Halloween festival in Almandine, the city was attacked by a strange and motley group. Deformed, twisted hawk-men flew out of the sky while insane men with guns stormed the shores. The chaos was unthinkable as both groups rushed the palace. Soon after, the palace was sealed by the growth of an impenetrable black crystal. Kain and (presumably) all of his children were trapped inside.

Fortunately, the Grandchildren of Kain were at a local bar, starting a bar fight at the time. They emerged just in time to see the palace being engulfed. Their wily Aunt Minerva, a powerful sorceress, contacted them mentally to tell them how to avert this disaster. They were to travel to her house and take with them an artifact, then follow the course of the black crystal through Dream to it's source.

A short trip to Minerva's estate on the edge of Almandine lead to the discovery of a queer device laying in the middle of the floor, as though waiting for them. A palm-sized square device with five rings spaced around the outer edge, a glass "lens" in the center on one side and an apparent burn marks on the other. After examining the device in bewilderment and finding very little, the Grandchildren headed out, following the trail of the black crystal to a split.

The trail was a bizarre one. The crystal occurred in every Dream that they passed but in each it occurred in a different form. And in each, it seemed to bring ruin to the land. In one land, the plant-life had been replaced (or perhaps impregnated) by the black crystal. In another, huge crystal spikes dotted the land, jutting up from the ground in strange formations while the landscape and creatures in it looked weak and sickly. In still another, the world seemed a desolate ruin, except for a huge lake filled with roiling, semi-solid crystal. The one common denominator in every world was this: suffering.

On one side of the split, the trail stopped at a world inhabited by humanoid hawks, much like the ones that had attacked Almandine earlier. A few difference were soon apparent, however. These hawk-men were even more twisted and deformed than the others. Also, they were religious fanatics, asking repeatedly if the grandchildren were Gods or Demons and whether they had won. The confusing question was apparently a reference to the battle at Almandine, which by the reckoning of these beings occurred decades ago. After being assured that the grandchildren were indeed Gods, and that they had won, their suspiciousness eased slightly and they wished to know if the Promise was to be fulfilled and how. Not knowing how to answer, they put off the question and continued to look for the item that Minerva said they needed to possess: the energy source that the black crystal was using to grow. They soon found it in the heart of a cathedral in the center of the city. The huge, still-beating heart of some long dead Dream traveling entity of enormous power, encased in black crystal. It was not long before they figured out that the only way to get the heart was to weaken the crystal by easing the suffering of the hawk-men. They cast a massive spell of euphoria over the people, making them forget their pain for a time and allowing Sigmund to crack the crystal with the aid of Mormegil. They then went on to find that the black crystal itself was invading the hawk-men's bodies through the water supply and from there it infiltrated their bones, weakening and twisting them until they were in constant pain. They solved the problem readily. Using their euphoria spell as proof of their godhood, they made a holy decree that all water was to be boiled before use. The people rejoiced. Then they ran off like thieves in the night with the heart.

The group then ran onto the next stop along the black crystal superhighway, a dry desert filled with crazed, gun-toting bandits and a few small settlements tenuously clinging to life. After saving the denizens from certain doom at the hands of blood-thirsty bandits, the townsfolk helpfully pointed them towards a huge ten-story building covered in black crystal. Upon entering it, the Grandchildren were trapped by a somewhat unhinged AI and forced into a riddle contest. After they won, they found a huge robot inside the building, with its arm covered in black crystal. They removed the arm (which turned out to be a gun) and incorporated it, the heart and Minerva's device together into one massively powerful gun. At this point, good ol' Uncle Brogan appeared, shattering a hole in the ceiling with an explosive and repelling down.

Brogan had some harsh words for his nieces and nephews and with scathing words, told them they were credulous fools. They were running around doing Minerva's dirty work without asking why or thinking for themselves. He then told them that she was in league with the forces assaulting Almandine and that gun they'd just constructed wasn't made to harm the enemy but to aid him. After testing the weapon, it ceased to function, giving only a short, powerful burst then burning out the weak lens. It had just enough power to melt the crystal prison encasing him, without seriously harming him in the process. Suddenly on their guard, they demanded proof, and so he took them to Minerva (who claimed to still be trapped in the palace in Almandine). When the suggestion to grab them both until the truth was found out, Minerva disappeared. Brogan then was forced to give more of the truth of the situation.

He convinced the grandchildren to go to the place where Abel dwelt and defeat him on his own turf, a place where only he and darkness dwelled. They arrived in the dimly-lit Dream and found Abel there, trapped in a coffin of black crystal but while they were debating what to do they were set upon by invisible enemies. They quickly determined that shadows were attacking them, and quickly slew their attackers. Then with a blast of searing light, the coffin surrounding Abel was destroyed and he stood before them, tall and gaunt and menacing. After hearing from his own lips that he wished to kill Kain, the loyal grandchildren attacked, blasting him with burning light and everything else at their disposal. Defeated, Abel disappeared, cursing Kain and his grandchildren.

They arrived back home to a broken yet freed Almandine. Minerva was there, as well as Brogan and a miraculously youthful Kain. Minerva was punished for her crimes against the throne and the grandchildren were rewarded for their aid, each given land around Almandine to call their own as well as an estate. Several questions, however, remained unanswered.


Wtf really happened?!?!? (The testimony of Minerva and Brogan)

Years ago, Minerva had heard Kain's story about How The Dreams Began and knowing more about the nature of reality than most, gleaned a few more important details. (Later, you learned that this was perhaps the beginning of a centuries-old plot by Kain to root out revolutionaries among his children and bring his ancient enemy Abel out of hiding.) She surmised that the monster in Kain's tale was his brother Abel, the First Dreamer, and the hero Kain himself. She set out to find Abel and learn from him what the world was like in the time before Dreams. She found more than she bargained for. With Brogan's aid, she found Abel in a far-off Dream, trapped inside of a black crystal coffin, awake but dreaming. He promised her the secrets she desired as well as the throne of Almandine in return for her helping him kill Kain. She agreed as did Brogan, initially. Brogan soon backed out after hearing the details of the ordeal, however. What he envisioned as a quiet assassination turned into an all-out war which would ruin half of Almandine, his home, in the process. Minerva was undeterred and began by doing research on crystals.

She needed a way to grow the crystals, so that Abel could trap Kain in his palace and kill him and his children all at once. At first, Minerva knew nothing of Abel's plans to kill her siblings and by the time she found out, it was far too late to turn back. Minerva learned on some of the more technologically advanced Dreams that crystals could be grown by taking a seed crystal and superheating it, and immersing it in a solution of whatever it was composed of. Then it could be "drawn" outward from the seed crystal, elongating it. Simple enough. She went to Abel to determine what his crystal was made out of and he readily answered. The crystal had grown over the millennia from Abel's own suffering. And being made of it, would bring more suffering wherever it went. A disturbing revelation but a hurdle that could be overcome. She had long since come to the conclusion, whether specious or not, that those residing in Dream were not "real" and killing them was not more wrong than waking up in the morning, ending your own dream. So she constructed a device that would provide enough heat to grow the crystal and used it to slowly, over the course of years, draw the crystal through Dream to places Abel Dreamed long ago. The first destination was Icthy.

The time differential in Icthy is high compared to Almandine. A month among the Icthys is a matter of days in Almandine and vice versa. A few years ago, Minerva went to Icthy and used her magical might to convince them that she was a long-awaited God whose coming was foretold of in ancient prophecies. She either purposefully sought a Dream that had such a prophecy or planted it herself decades or even hundreds of years before. She brought with her the black crystal and encased the heart with it so that Abel could use its infinite energy to grow the crystal without her aid. She then recruited the able-est bodied among them and took them to another Dream to train them as an army. Already infected with the black crystal, they became slightly twisted and deformed by the time the invasion took place. Those left behind became more and more twisted over the decades as the crystal continued to invade their bodies and twist them into their current ghastly shape. Before she left however, she set up a series of holy writs to ensure the suffering of the Icthys and further feed the crystal. Only drinking water during the daylight hours to insure they were thoroughly riddled with the crystal, as well as other deprivations and restrictions. Her mission in that world completed, she continued on to a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

It is a place whose name had been burned away in fire and death long ago, where people barely clung to life in an arid wasteland. It housed powerful relics of a once-advanced people, however. One of which was useful to Minerva and Abel. While they now had a source of energy to provide heat with which to grow the crystal, they had no way to control and focus the reaction without Minerva's handheld device. And it itself was too brittle to manage the massive amounts of energy needed for the next phase of their plan. So in this place without a name, Minerva brought the crystal and encased a long dead robot's arm. The robot itself was entirely nonfunctional and always had been. Its own power source was too weak for it to function properly. But its makers had devised a method to channel and control much more energy than the robot could produce and that is the prize that Minerva sought. After Minerva encased the robot's weapon in crystal, Abel used his new power over the crystal to force it to grow over the entire tower, where the prevailing winds would constantly pick up bits of it, saturating the air with it, so that the locals would breath it in. From there, it damaged their minds, burning out important parts of their brain, turning them slowly into feeling-less psychopaths. The psychopaths preyed upon those not yet affected, causing even more suffering to a land already beset by it. Minerva recruited the most promising of this new breed of psychopaths for her growing army, and took them to train with the hawk-men.

The next step was simple. The pair waited, Abel growing the crystal slowly through Dream like the roots of some twisted, evil plant, causing suffering wherever it went. The suffering providing more food upon which to grow. And when the time was right, when an old, weakened Kain and his children were all in the palace at the same time, he struck. He unleashed his armies, Minerva leading them through Dream, the suffering they caused there allowing him to quickly envelop the palace and trap everyone inside with fanatical hawk-men and psychotic killers.

But the grandchildren of Kain, who Abel had dismissed, proved a formidable adversary and they shattered, quite literally, Abel's power, then defeated him in combat. While under siege, Kain youthened, returning to his normal strength and sharpness. Banding together with his children and a few loyal retainers, they eventually cleared the palace of invaders. He revealed afterwards that it was all a sham. He had spent decades slowly shapeshifting his body, making it appear as though he were finally growing old, pretending to be weak and feeble-minded. The patience and cunning of the plan astounded even the most Machiavellian of Kain's children. The purpose for this was twofold. One, he knew that Abel's power was growing and that he had schemes brewing off in Dream to destroy Almandine. He would soon need to be dealt with, one way or another. And two, he noticed that his children were growing covetous of his power and thoughts of sedition were spreading. Those needed to be quickly quashed as well. And the show of shrewdness, as well as his renewed prowess in battle certainly did that.

Minerva soon gave herself up after Abel's defeat, serenely walking into the palace and facing Kain, the father she had just tried to kill and depose. She argued that she was unduly influenced by Abel and pled mercy from Kain. She swore that if she had known the extent of the plan from the beginning that she never would have embarked upon it. Kain, surprisingly, believed her. And after wringing more details of Abel and their plan from her, he stripped from her all titles and forced her to renounce all legal claims to the throne of Almandine. She accepted and he gave her her freedom to come and go in Almandine as she pleased. The mild sentence was a shock to all, as centuries ago, Kain's two oldest children had tried something similar. When they failed, Kain swore he would murder them if he saw them again and they fled.

A few questions were left unanswered still, however. And it was obvious to all that Kain was not satisfied with Minerva's answers. She claimed to have no knowledge of Abel's current plans or whereabouts, despite admitting that there was always a chance that their plan would fail. When asked why she chose to use the grandchildren of Kain to free Abel instead of doing it herself, she claimed to be leading them to their deaths. Kain did not seem to accept that, as he kept coming back to that point. Other inconsistencies and trivial things seemed to bother Kain, though he still pardoned Minerva. At the end, mysteries still abounded and questions were left unanswered.