Jimmy Bob, I said, reckon you could figure out where we are before we're set upon by wolves and big ass ravens pluck our fucking eyes out?
"I imagine," Poot said, "that we're standing outside a village peopled with woe begotten shit farmers."
"Are you not going to ask me what you know," Neverwas asked.
"I could," Poot said with a thoughtful look, "but I'm afraid that my asking you such questions would only encourage your delusions of grandeur." I can only guess what Neverwas had in mind to say because Poot rolled with a result of 22. "What does my feeble bardish knowledge provide me with on this out of the way locale?"
"You don't recognize it," Neverwas replied with a coy smile.
"I told you that it would only encourage you further," Poot said, "and now I'm not going to feel bad about anything that happens after this."
"As though you guys have a conscience when it comes to these games," Neverwas began the familiar lecture. "If you would consider the implications of your actions beyond the immediate gratifi-"
"Look," the Master Planner broke in, "if we wanted to have a lecture on morality we damned sure wouldn't be taking it from a recidivist and moral reprobate."
"I'll have you know that I'm a deacon in my church," Neverwas said with as much dignity as he could muster.
"I'm sure the Lord must be very proud of you," Icarus said, "but if you don't mind I'd like to know if anything is approaching us. It's my axe, you see, it thirsts for blood." The whole table turned toward Icarus as he began to mime licking his axe.
"You're Chaotic Good," Neverwas said with a touch of exasperation in his voice.
"I'm also a barbarian."
Family, I said, it seems that Jim-Jim has gone too long without killing something and that his homicidal urges are beginning to take over. Let us explore the town before us and find some trouble to sate his appetite for destruction.
"You make your way into the town and after asking a few of the local peasantry where you might find a decent place to rest you're directed to the Ghostly Lady," Neverwas dryly read from his notebook.
Cousins, brothers, did one of you knob-gobblers decide that we should take our rest before we let Jim-Jim slit some evil fuck's throat when I wasn't looking and drag me here against my will?
"I don't remember making the choice," Little Boy said.
"Smells of magic and heavy handed Dungeon Mastering to me," Step said as he leaned forward in his chair. "Bob Jim Lively, veteran of more than a dozen campaigns along the disputed boarders -"
"What disputed boarders," Neverwas asked.
"All of them," Step said with a tone that brooked no argument. "But like I was saying, Bob Jim Lively is a veteran of a dozen tours and he loosens his sword and casts a weary gaze about the inn."
"Jim Bob Lively," Little Boy said, "has taken notice of his older brother's weary gaze and has begun to move towards the shadows in an effort to hide away from the view of any who might be watching him."
"The bar is crowded with patrons," Neverwas confusedly answered, "there's no way you can hide."
"Then Jim Bob slides under the table and uses the space to make himself small and forgetable," Little Boy countered.
"Good plan," Icarus said, "Jim-Jim, for his part, is going to set his axe on the table in easy reach and look for anyone giving him the 'eye.' He counts anyone foolish enough to meet his gaze as having done so."
"Bobby Jim, Master of Illusion and Manual Manipulation," the Master Planner announced, "is checking the bar for any magical residue and looking over each of his family members for any signs of compulsion magic or signs that some illusion has been cast on us."
"Guys," Neverwas said, "I think you're taking this too far. I was just trying to move the story along."
The story has moved along, I said, and we're reacting to things that have moved beyond our understanding for the Lively-Roberts Clan takes nothing for granted and destroys what we don't understand.
"Jesus," Neverwas said as he ran his hand across his forehead.
Never mind him right now. I'm looking for anyone who seems to be taking exception to our behavior.
"The whole lobby full of patrons seem to be giving you all a wide breath."
It's clear that they know how we arrived here, I said looking about the table.
"Of course they do," Neverwas said, "they watched -"
"No, you don't," Neverwas practically shouted. "You're all taking this the wrong way."
"Are you telling us that we weren't given a choice in how our characters were allowed to behave and that you're now doing so for the second time in less than twenty minutes," Poot asked. "That's a bad precedent to be setting for a game that's supposed to be the most epic fucking thing anyone's ever played."
"Especially for a man who wants to pretend that he's the center of the role-playing universe," the Master Planner added.
"Is that what he was saying out there," Little Boy asked. "I was too busying trying to get that girl wearing the dog collar's number to really pay attention to him."
"I didn't say I was the center of the role-playing universe," Neverwas scrambled. "I mearly stated that if one wants to play the game correctly that not only do you have to develop a story but you have to allow your players the freedom to make their own decisions."
Interesting that when your theories meet the game that things go off the rails.
"Look," Neverwas said as he placed his hands on the table, "perhaps I was a bit hasty in forcing you all along the storyline of this particular game. But if you'll just work with me you'll see that things will come out better in the end."
Come climb into my web for tea said the spider to the fly.
Don't worry about it. I'll put it to a vote of the table. If you all want to allow Neverwas to force our actions then I'll abide it with disgust, but I'll go with it all the same. Or we can kill the whole bar and set it on fire since clearly the devil is at work here.
"Open ballot or secret," Poot asked.
Tradition holds that we do it in the open. Everyone fine with that?
"I'm not," Neverwas said, "there shouldn't have to be a vote."
Yes, yes there does. You want us to take back our declared actions and to pretend like none of this ever happened so that the storyline you've plotted out in that notebook of yours comes to pass just like you wrote it. Only the game doesn't work like that. Our characters are ours and their decisions come from us - not from a script.
"I get that," Neverwas said with his hands up, "but you guys took this the wrong way."
"We took it the only way we could," Icarus said. "I say we vote in the open."
I looked about the table and asked, Any objections to a vote in the open. None came so I called the measure. The question has come before the table: do we resend our actions and take the party back to the top of the hillside where we can then control our own destinies going forward or do we launch a bloody attack against a tavern filled with the Devil's children and set the town to the torch?
Poot counted the results, "Six for burning the town and slaughtering the vile inhabitants of this accursed village and one for going back to the top of the hill. The town burns."
"You guys are going to regret this," Neverwas said with a warning tone, "I'll give you one last opportunity to pull back."
"I rolled a natural 20 for my first attack," Poot said as way of our reply.
Feel like you're missing something?
Part 3: Democracy Kills