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W: “So...
1, how deep is the palace in the city; how long would it take to get there from the outskirts?
2, how long and complicated is the coronation rite?
3, what’s the Unliving Army?
4, Armistan Siblings, I am sorry for the hard life you’ve been given.”
  
Wyyca21 said:
W: “So...
1, how deep is the palace in the city; how long would it take to get there from the outskirts?
2, how long and complicated is the coronation rite?
3, what’s the Unliving Army?
4, Armistan Siblings, I am sorry for the hard life you’ve been given.”


"The palace is at the very end of the city, not only protected by the city's outer wall and whatever defenses are still active, but by an inner wall as well. I'm not entirely sure, but from the sounds of it, the entire city is still on lockdown. That means we'll likely not be able to open the inner wall because the mechanism for that is on the other side, and we'll have to reverse our way through the escape tunnel back into the palace. Not to mention any puzzles or traps we'll want to avoid on our way.

"I'll be honest, I haven't been entirely truthful of my intent, mostly because I was worried that you were perhaps government spies who would've turned me in at the first sign of my true identity. But now that you've proven that you're trustworthy, I suppose letting you know of my actual plans wouldn't hurt.

"To be clear, I could care less about the gold and riches that Fultiine holds. I have more interest in the Unliving Army, which, thanks to Riany's loose lips, I suppose I can tell you now rather than having the dramatic reveal I had planned. The Unliving Army was a plan my father enacted shortly before the war ended. They were a small cabal of 100 or so steam-powered warriors constructed around the hearts of Black Cendius Dragons, and were essentially unkillable war machines. As far as I'm aware, they were never released, but were built to be telepathically controlled by a crown, which could only be used by the true Perline High King.

"If I can get to the palace and find the ceremonial crown, flail, and the golden wrench, I only need a couple minutes for one of you to administer the coronation to me (ideally Mal'ash because it needs to be the head of a religious group, though I suppose a Paladin will suffice) which we can do simply by me speaking the words you need to, and you repeating them back to me. After the coronation, the locking enchantment would be broken, and I would be able to use the crown and use the army to challenge the presidents, restart the Perline empire, and release all its citizens from the grasp of the presidents."

In response to your last question, Holden shouts from atop the carriage. "Eh, it doesn't really matter. As long as Ridlean's alive, we have a chance to restart the brilliant empire I remember from my childhood. If he can unlock the city, release the Unliving Army, and take back our freedom, it would make everything we've suffered worth it."

As the conversation continues, multiple horse-drawn carriages merge in on the road behind the steam carriage, each helmed by two guards. To the left, Riany jumps on the auto-crossbow and fires a couple shots back at the carriages. The heavy-tipped bolts rip through the carriages and they collapse in on themselves as they move. Up ahead, the carriage barrels towards the city's portcullis, which is now closed tightly.
  
Fendrel takes a moment to look out the carriage out of curiosity, if possible, before redirecting his attention to the group.
"It must be a significant moment to undertake, historic, even, if all goes well.
And yet, there's still work to be done. Have you ever worried about the potential outcomes, good or bad, of this quest?"
  
"And yet, there's still work to be done. Have you ever worried about the potential outcomes, good or bad, of this quest?"


"Aye, indeed I have. Obviously, the greatest risk is that of death. If I perish, so does the last hopes of the empire. The presidents will achieve their goal and nobody will be able to oppose their absolute rule and abuse of power.

"Another is that of putting needless lives at risk by declaring war. My hope is that the Unliving Army will be intimidating enough that they will abdicate and give the land back rather than fight, but if it comes to it, I am ready to go to war over this. I'm sure I can find empire loyalists as well as the klowarks to fight in this battle. And, if need be, I'll take to the battlefield to defend the empire.

"And the final threat would be that I'm not the last royal. If it turns out that there is another royal with a higher claim to the crown than me - either of the Armeans (the emperor's family), Predjis (the head advisors), or the Kymans (the head mages) - the coronation rite won't work and the crown will wait for the person with the actual claim to the title of High King to undertake the coronation rite. I find that unlikely, as neither I nor the Armistens have heard claim of an Armean, a Predji, or a Kyman surviving the seige on Fultiine, or the aftermath. I am certain I am the only member of royal bloodline left."
  
"I suppose we should take action rather promptly (or more so diligently?), then..
Say, how dangerous do you reckon it would be for us to navigate through the city, and eventually, the palace?"
I do believe that we are under adequate hands, under the insight of you and the Armistan Siblings' prior experience,
yet, are there any likely threats to look out for during the search?"
  
Say, how dangerous do you reckon it would be for us to navigate through the city, and eventually, the palace?"
I do believe that we are under adequate hands, under the insight of you and the Armistan Siblings' prior experience,
yet, are there any likely threats to look out for during the search?"

The cannon on the top of the carriage goes off, accompanied by the whooping of a giddy Dexter. A ball of flames glides from the carriage into the gate of the city. One second, the gate is there - the next it's gone, replaced by a pile of rubble. The carriage flies through the hole, heading off into the countryside as the guards stop at the edge of the city, cutting their losses and leaving the group free. Dexter drops through a trapdoor in the roof, having left the cannon, and joins the group in the main body. Alman remains on the top, driving the carriage into the fields.

"Well, the issue with the city is that, as far as I know, it was placed under lockdown during the time of the final siege of the war. That likely means that most of the security measures were activated before the city was lost, and although some of them will have certainly stopped working, I would be willing to wager that a significant portion are still active. We will likely face Klowerks, Arcniads, Vigilexias, and various traps, not to mention a good majority of the city is impervious to entry. However, the city was always conscious about Fultinians being locked out and made most of its security measures puzzles - not easy enough to be able to solve without a guard noticing you if you were an enemy, but not hard enough to permanently stump someone and lock them out of the city. Of course, if you have the personal journal of the Perline high tinker" - Ridlean pats his satchel - "it'll be much easier to solve the puzzles, but still not a cake walk."

"I'd think with the nine of us, however, Fultiine shouldn't prove too much of a harmful experience. I expect getting there to be the hard part. Speaking of which..."

Ridlean turns around and talks to Dexter. "I need the inscription on this staff read. It's in Perlinian. Can you transcribe it for me?"

Dexter frowns. "No. None of us know Perlinian. We assumed your father taught you before you left. It was the language of the royal family, after all - not of the commoners or of the royal guard."

A look of horror slowly seeps across Ridlean's face. "So what you're saying is that none of us know how to read the only clue to the location of the city? That all of this was nothing?"

Riany sits on the floor of the carriage, pouting. "So unless we can find a Perlinian codex, we're done for. And the only codexes I know of were destroyed in the siege of the city."

The group sits there, quietly and sullenly for a good minute, before Alman knocks on the roof's trapdoor. Riany opens it, revealing him grinning from ear to ear.

"I know where to find a codex," he says, "But we'll need Ridlean to get it."

With that, the carriage slows down, turns about a quarter of the way to the right, and begins heading off towards what appears to be a ruined keep in the mountains.
  
"Thank goodness," mutters Fendrel.
  
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