The Let's Play Archive

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

by Kanfy

Part 30: The Bad Old Days

Part 30 - The Bad Old Days

We make our triumphant return to the Kreuzbasar despite the valiant efforts of a whole lot of Knight Errant and a handful of incompetent assassins playing in the dark. Our successful job completion nets us 8 Karma this time around which is not bad at all. If you opt to wipe out Fuchs' lackeys for the sake of the Pain Inducer instead, the Karma fairy won't bestow you with even a single measly point of the ol' skill juice. At least you can zap the stingy bastard with your super taser in return.

Anyway, we made well-informed decisions so we're sitting on 20 Karma in total right now, enough to do a bit of spending.

We pump our Willpower to 8 which is the requirement for the top-rank versions of a couple of spells, and we also increase our Quickness from 2 to 4 as we can use the cheap avoidance and the stat might come up once or twice later on.

From here our advancement choices are pretty open since being a pure Mage is very light on Karma points. Our base Charisma is 5 so we'll probably go for the easy etiquette unlock, either Academic or Street as the others we either have or won't come up anymore. Some more Intelligence and maybe Biotech will also open up some small things later on. And the more Body the better as the old saying goes. Well, we'll see.

We have no crew level ups to take care of this time so we'll get right to the talkin', starting from our good friend Mr. Beckenbauer.

Welcome back, Rosa! The new work center is in full swing, and those trode nets that we purchased with your donations have been in constant rotation. Now, what can I do for you today?

Are you accepting more donations?

Maybe doing some good here will balance out all the the questionable things we have to do in our line of work. Well, some of the questionable things. ...At least one of them.

One other thing, Rosa... if we reach this goal, I would like to name the building after you. You are, after all, our primary benefactor. With 500 nuyen, we could make the purchase. Whatever you could spare would be most appreciated.

Primary benefactor, is it. We've only donated like what, 1,500 nuyen in total over a couple of days? I mean it's not nothing, but you'd figure just the upkeep of the place would run a lot more than that. Guess some good things do come cheap after all.

(¥500) Here, just take what you need. I've got you covered.

The Rosa Civic Center. It has a nice ring to it.

I am happy that you're pleased. You've more than earned it.

Usually they attach a surname to these kinds of things, but it's not until Hong Kong that you actually get to pick one at character creation. At least the thread was kind enough not to pick some terrible street name for us, JazzGuzzlerXIV Civic Center would've been an awkward one to print on flyers.

Anyway, that's the end of that small side activity. Asking him about accepting donations from here will always get the same response:

Thank you, friend, but no. We have grown as much as I am comfortable with for one year, and you have done quite enough already. Know that you have positively impacted the lives of a great many Kreuzbasar residents, Rosa. Be proud of that fact.

Now we just have to make sure they get to enjoy those lives without a dragon or whatever dark and/or vengeful force bringing down the whole neighborhood. Easy enough, right?

Most Kreuzbasar residents have said all they have to say until the endgame, but we can still strike up a conversation with Altuğ's young gossipmonger.

Hey pal, I missed you! Got any new stories for me?

I was wondering, whose stories around here are worth listening to?

Well, that's classified information, chummer. If you stick around here a while, you'll figure it out soon enough. In the meantime, a little tip to start you off, I personally like chatting up the old guys. They've always got some great stories.

I’m sure they live just to talk to you.

They sure do! One of the guys, Schrotty, he just lights up whenever I come by. He’s always got something to say, though it's often about the same stuff over and over again.

Oh yeah, that guy. Bribed with him some days-old coffee in exchange for the DVD player we have back at our joint. Haven't seen the man around lately though, hope the stomach cramps didn't hit him too hard.

There's also Altuğ, if you can get him to shut up about his coffee for a minute.

So what's the story there?

Well, he's taken up residence as the official Turk, stereotypes and everything. Spymaster, coffee brewer, outsider. It works for him. He had to make some sort of living here in the Kreuzbasar, you know?

[She pulls absentmindedly at some hair in her face.]

Sorry about the inteldump. It's not really useful information. And you'd probably guessed anyway, at this point. But you asked, so. Anyway, you've been a real doll. Gotten way too much information out of me though. I'll see you around, ja?

Guess you've got to play to your strengths to make it in a place like this. The man certainly seems to have things figured out, he's likely too well-connected for most anyone to try and screw with him and the cafe itself looks to be pretty popular too. That Goldschmidt guy in particular might as well be paying rent with how much he frequents the place.

Now you may recall that we'll have some business in the coffee shop itself, but there's a bit of a wrinkle to that whole thing which I'll get to when we get there. For now, we'll head back to the hideout to catch the latest from our crew.

Speaking of wrinkles, talking to Blitz now will initiate his personal mission which overrides all his normal dialogue. His mission is not the one we're going to be doing next however, primarily because I want him to reach level 5 first if at all possible. In normal gameplay there's no harm in picking it up now, but in this LP format getting the mission briefing now and doing the run itself later would leave the two rather detached.

So, I'm going to cheat a bit and just get his opinion of the previous run from the game files, and we'll come back to listen to his personal woes some other time.

Heyya, chief. What's up?

Any thoughts about that last run that you'd like to share?

That building had some *incredible* toys in it. Those were fun to see. I'm not saying that I approve of how they were used, mind you. But there was some pretty wiz stuff in there, all the same. ...Well, anyway. We did the job, Thorvald's dead. But I kinda wish that you'd held off for a bit. At the very least, we could've milked some nuyen out of him before putting him down.

[He shrugs.]

Oh well. C'est la vie.

If you take Thorvald's offer at the client's expense, he's excited about the Pain Inducer but otherwise questions the decision. Which is probably the correct assessment of that particular course of action.

The old guy of the team sat the last job out, but that doesn't stop him from having an opinion about it.

[Dietrich raises a bottle at your approach.] Hey again, boss. You need somethin'?

Any thoughts about that last run that you'd like to share?

Hell of a thing, wasn't it? That run made me glad that I don't have to spend a lot of time in hospitals, I'll tell you that much. There wasn't a single aspect of that building that didn't make me feel uneasy.

[He pauses for a moment, then looks you in the eye.]

Kind of a pity, puttin' that rigger on ice like that. Least we could've done was heard him out. I get that the job is the job, and all... but if our client really did screw him over, he deserved better than to get buried for it.

[He shrugs.]

I guess we'll never know.

Yeah, guess we never will. Dietrich's even less happy if you let Thorvald go after his true nature comes to light as he considers taking him out then "the right thing to do". He only really approves if you kill him in front of (or hand him over to) Fuchs' men.

But that's not all we came here to discuss. There's something he said last time that we could use some elaborating on.

I was thinking about what you told me earlier. You said that your idol was going to make you pick a fight that you couldn't win.

[He shrugs.] It's bound to happen eventually. Probably sooner rather than later.

Isn't there something that you can do to stop that from happening?

Incidentally you can also pick Dragonslayer as your totem if you put enough points into shaman stuff, but it provides no extra dialogue with Dietrich. A damn wasted opportunity is what it is.

Besides which, I don't even know if I *can* refuse Him anymore. He's been with me for so long, I don't know where He stops and I begin.

[He grins at you.]

Don't you worry about me, boss. I've known that this was comin' for my entire life. And when it happens, I'll go down in a blaze of glory the likes of which you can't even imagine. That's a promise.

You can't really believe that your idol wants you to commit suicide.

'Course not. The Dragonslayer doesn't want me to die. But He *does* want me to kill dragons, and that ain't supposed to be safe, or easy. It isn't my idol's fault that I'm getting too old to keep up with His wishes.

Probably not the career choice for anyone looking forward to enjoying retirement benefits. But... does it all have to be so literal? Don't all of us have dragons of a sort we each must face in our lives?

What if you were to pick a fight with a different kind of "dragon"? Say, maybe... a gang, or a corporation?

I've never tried to bargain, or negotiate, with the Dragonslayer before. I'm not sure how I feel about it, and I don't know how He'd take it, either... the Dragonslayer doesn't like to be questioned, and His temper's even shorter than mine. But I'll tell you what, boss... I'll think about it.

Great. We take no responsibility for any unforeseen consequences of trying to rules lawyer your guardian totem though, alright?

You do that, Dietrich. See you around.

Moving on...

[Eiger offers you a shallow nod.] Rosa.


Any thoughts about that last run?

[She shrugs.] It was a nice change of pace. A simple job with a straightforward objective. At the end of the day, the whole thing was pretty by-the-numbers. The rigger died, we got paid, and everyone went home happy. That's a win in my book.

Not killing Thorvald when we were supposed to has her chastise us for the hit on our reputation, while letting the man go simply has her say that we "completely botched" the run, neither of which is likely to count a win in that book of hers.

Do you trust me, Eiger?

[She pauses for a moment, considering. Finally, she nods.]

Yeah. Yeah, I do. You've earned that much. I haven't always agreed with your decisions, Rosa. But you've proven your competence. It's only fair for me to acknowledge it.

Aha, so we're buddies now right? That means we now have free access to your private affairs. It's in the rules, go look it up.

Then tell me what happened to your team.

This again? Why do you even care, Rosa?

Because it's pretty clear that if you had your way, you'd still be with them. And a good leader places a priority on knowing her team.

[She slowly nods.] All right. I'll tell you. I suppose that you deserve to know.

Still, he wanted to be a hero, and his family had enough clout to get him an assignment of his choosing. I don't know how many strings Hoffmann's daddy had to pull to get him assigned to our team, but he pulled them. Hoffmann became our ninth squadmate, despite Metzger's objections.

Never trust a guy named Hoffman, it's just good sense.

Anyway. Flash forward a few weeks. We were closing in on one of the Russian mob's major trafficking operations. They'd been using a series of warehouses fifty miles from the border as a staging area for their convoys.

Slovakians, Hungarians, Poles... you name it. The mob has been smuggling them over for decades. But we were in a position to derail their operation, and we weren't going to let our new addition slow us down. We hit them by surprise, and we hit them hard. Fischer and Braun managed to take down the Banshee that they had patrolling the site.

That's a T-Bird vehicle, not an actual banshee which is more akin to a vampiric elf. Guess it could be a banshee flying a Banshee though, like some kinda multi-layered banshee onion. A... banshenion? Would it be a banshee-sized onion or an onion-sized banshee? An onion-sized banshee would probably be pretty cute. Now a banshee-sized onion on the other hand

Wolff had reconnaissance drones overhead providing BattleTac feeds to the rest of us, and we picked off their gunmen one by one. They had numbers on us, but they didn't know where to hit us. We had eyes in the sky, and we had cover and concealment. Every time they thought they had a fix on us, we'd shift positions and hit them again. They might as well have been fighting ghosts.

Wolff went down first. The sound of it will haunt me for the rest of my days... an explosion, a choked scream, and then this long, drawn-out gurgling sound. When he died, his drones went down with him, and there were too many hostiles to track without them. I'll spare you the gory details, Rosa. Suffice it to say that my team was wiped out.

[Eiger's face clouds again. You can see the tears beginning to well in her eyes.]

I watched Metzger die.

Alright sure, an experience like that would probably make anyone a touch mistrustful of sudden newcomers to a team like this.

So that's the story. My KSK career died with the rest of the team... our mission was illegal, after all. Off the books. There was no going back for me, so I wound up here.

[She looks you in the eye. Her tone is impassive.]

Did that tell you everything you wanted to know, fearless leader? Are you satisfied now?

Satisfied for now at least.

Yes. Thank you, Eiger.

So. Tell me. What's your takeaway from my tale of woe? I figure that you've got to have one.

When Monika died, you blamed me because I was new to the team. But I'm not Hoffmann, Eiger.


[She nods.]

I know that. And you are right... to a point. I might've judged you too harshly because of Hoffmann. But everything else that I said was justified.

You weren't the right choice to lead before. I still believe that. But you are now.

Hey, that actually means a lot, coming from you. Though I do still think we were plenty competent from the start, it's not like it was our first run or anything... But still, glad we can all rely on each other here.

Thanks, Eiger. Good talk.

[She nods.] Until next time.

Three crew members down, one more to go.

[Glory's pallid face lights up at your approach. A genuine smile spreads across her lips.]

Rosa. Good to see you.

You too, Glory. How're things with you?

[She pauses for a moment, considering.]

Y'know what? I'm happy, actually. For the first time in a long time. I have you to thank for that.

Now that's good to hear. Hard to stay in your shell when someone repeatedly brings a hammer to it, right?

Any thoughts about that last run?

There isn't much to say.

[She pauses to study you for a moment before continuing.]

I think that we should have given Thorvald a chance to prove his claims. Waiting a few minutes to kill him wouldn't have harmed anything. That said, I understand why you did what you did. The job was to kill him - we all knew that when we signed on.

[She shrugs.]

We're one step closer to paying Alice's fee. In the end, that's all that really matters.

Waiting a few minutes would in fact have harmed our Karma count, so she's wrong on that count. Glory's opinions are more or less identical to Dietrich's, though her comment if you kill the dwarf after he's done boasting about his "accomplishments" is a pretty good one:


You killed Thorvald. Despite his whining, and begging, and bargaining, you put him down like a rabid dog. It was a good choice. And it was the right one.

Alas, if only we could keep talking about such fun and lighthearted subjects all day. But that's not what we really came here for.

You needed time, and I gave you time. Are you ready to talk about Feuerstelle yet?


[Glory looks troubled, more so than you've ever seen her before. Whatever memories she's dredging up must be exceedingly painful.]

I'm not gonna lie, I haven't been looking forward to this. But yeah, it's time.

Always promising when someone opens a conversation with a line like that.

[She looks you in the eye, her expression grim.]

So tell me. Are you sure that you want to keep pushing forward with this?

We could in fact just end it here and get kind of a sweet-ish conclusion to this story:


This is clearly causing you pain, Glory. Y'know what? Let's back down from the storytelling. I don't need to know anything more about your past to know how much I value you.

That's impossibly sweet of you, Rosa.

[If you didn't know any better, you'd swear that she was fighting back tears.]

I won't forget it.

Aww. But we've come this far and hey, we still need to unlock that personal mission, so...

This is important for you, Glory. After everything we've been through, I think that we both know that. Whatever you have to tell me, I'm ready to listen.

Thanks, Rosa. Thanks for being a friend.

Now this is kind of a really long story, so I'm not gonna make it any longer by interjecting with my dumb commentary. So, see you on the other side! But not in the brain-frying way like with Monika, hopefully.

So when we left off last time, I had just moved from the streets of Tübingen to the warm, inviting confines of Feuerstelle. Marta and I were happy there for a little while, and Harrow embraced me as a long-lost daughter. Now, I should probably take a moment to talk more about Harrow. He's going to be an important figure in this story.

Harrow had this charisma, this raw, magnetic attraction that just made people latch onto him. I saw it over and over, all it took was a few words and a pat on the shoulder, and Harrow would have a new convert. The other kids at the farm followed him around like lost puppies. As much as I loved Marta, and as much as I thought she loved me, we forgot all about one another when Harrow was around. All that we wanted was to be close to him, to be a part of his inner circle. And soon enough, we were.

For those of us in the inner sanctum, Harrow would share even more. He had power the likes of which I had never seen... not my father's drunken fists or my own childish experiments, but genuine, incredible power. He said that it came from the Horned God, an ancient deity that he venerated. He knew about my latent abilities right away, and he offered to teach me. Naturally, I accepted.

This Harrow is beginning to sound a lot like a cult leader.

You're not wrong there. But it gets a whole lot worse than that, as you'll soon see.

[Glory sighs.]

Hang with me, Rosa. Rough waters ahead. So, I became Harrow's apprentice. He taught me to channel magic and summon spirits. He taught me rituals and pagan traditions, Machiavellian philosophy and Nietzschean ethics. Above all, he taught me to connect with his "Horned God," and through it I learned power and arrogance. And it was all downhill from there.

Other fun facts about those years: I learned cruelty. I had power now, and my new idol encouraged me to use it. Harrow did the same. Any children who didn't pull their weight were subjected to my tender mercies, and I was anything but tender. I took what I wanted rather than asking for it. I liked it. It was fun.

I also came to learn that Harrow's "Horned God" was not the Eichenfürst worshipped by throwback cults across Germany. It was certainly a god with horns, but it came from an altogether different tradition. Care to hazard a guess?

Educate me.

So my idol, the ancient deity that was feeding me my power, was the antithesis of everything that is right and good. And you know what? I didn't care.

I don't want to pin the blame for my decisions on anyone but me. That said, I would like to posit that my father's connection to the Kreuzritters might have helped play into my willingness to serve the Adversary. In my warped, indoctrinated little brain, I equated the Church with evil, so the opposite of that, I figured, had to be... well, if not good, then at least not totally bad. But I was kidding myself, of course. My new deity was the very definition of bad. Serving it made *me* bad. End of story.

I can't excuse the choices that you made, but I can understand why you made them.

That's big of you, Rosa. I genuinely mean that.

[Glory takes a moment to steel herself, then continues on.]

Anyway. One day, Harrow invited me on a field trip. To Stuttgart. Over the years that I was at Feuerstelle, the commune had easily doubled in size. It was thriving, all thanks to the efforts of Marta and the girls like her. Harrow would send the girls out to neighboring cities to lure in the street kids that nobody would miss. He targeted children because they were easy to indoctrinate, and because nothing makes the Adversary happier than the corruption of the innocent.

Harrow wasn't overly concerned about my absence. I had long since reached the point where I could assert my autonomy, and he knew that I'd be back. I wound up at my folks' house sometime around noon. I could hear the Adversary whispering in my ear, telling me what to do.

I'd long since learned to listen to its voice; it always rewarded me with extra power when I did its bidding. It told me to knock, so I did. As the door opened, I could feel a torrent of flames welling up in the astral plane all around me. It told me to channel them into the doorway, into my father. So I did.

As I watched her flesh blacken and melt, as I heard her scream and I broke into hysterics, I heard the Adversary laugh. And at that moment, I realized that it was laughing at me.

I'm very sorry, Glory.

[Glory nods, a grim expression on her delicate face.]

Thanks. We're almost to the end, now. Thanks for sticking with me.

Realizing all of this was one thing. Actually fixing it was something else entirely. I knew that I had to get away from Harrow. That was the first thing to do. So I bit my lip and did my best to ignore the happy babble of the new recruits on the trip back to Feuerstelle, and I managed to get through the ride without screaming.

Getting past the wall was fairly simple... you know how easy it is to obtain falsified papers. The biggest obstacle that I faced during my flight was the Adversary itself. I could run from Harrow, but how do you run from something that's tied to your own soul?

I have a feeling that I know.

[The haunted look in Glory's eyes is heartbreaking. She gives you another curt, grim nod.]

I stuck to my guns. After all, shredding my essence was the whole point.

[Glory looks up at you. Her eyes are sunken and hollow, and the aura of loss about her is palpable. She looks like a woman who has been through Hell.]

Alright. We'll talk later then.

Hell of a tale, all things considered it's a small miracle Glory's got it together as well as she does. Guess that's how our whole team is really, people who should've long since been broken by their circumstances but who one way or another have managed to push through and come out... maybe not alright, but at least alive.

Well, Blitz is mostly just hanging out I guess, but even that guy's survived dangerous gang life for well over a decade without losing any body parts and only some of his sanity. That probably counts for something.

Of course we're not just gonna abandon Glory now, but seeing as she requires some time alone we'll grant her wish and move on to less gloomy subjects, such as getting paid. As usual, we submit the job as finished and wait for our client's response which arrives promptly.

You hire a professional, you get what you pay for. Had we been less professional and killed Thorvald in front of Fuchs' men (or alternatively handed him over to them) we would've gotten the same payment but with a different response:


>>*Herr Fuchs*
>>to: Rosa

No sense in mincing words. Your job performance was satisfactory at best.

Your fee will be transferred immediately. Enjoy it while it lasts, because you'll never work for us again.


Now had we been decidedly unprofessional and traded the entire run for Thorvald's trinket, Fuchs would not contact us at all. Instead we'd extract the funds directly from the rigger's PDA, after which we'd get some scathing mail from Paul instead:


>>to: Rosa

Rosa. I didn't want to say this in front of the others, but I feel the need to say it. What you did was unacceptable.

This is your team, and you may lead it however you see fit. But if the word gets out that you betrayed a client, our other job prospects are going to vanish, and we can't afford to have that happen. We NEED the information that Alice is gathering for us, and if we can't afford to pay her, we'll never get our hands on it.

I'm going to do what I can to smooth over the mess you left with Herr Fuchs, but I fear that the damage may already be done.

In the future, I pray that you exercise better judgment.


In case you still haven't gotten the message - scrubbing the job is a really, really dumb thing to do.

As one last thing, if you scrub the job and let Thorvald live, a couple of missions later you receive a message from the fun-loving dwarf himself:


>>*Enstad, Thorvald*
>>to: Rosa

Hey there, pal! After our run-in, I decided to do a little diggin', and I came up with your address. Hope you don't mind that I'm writin' ya, but I thought we should keep in touch!

Anyway, I went on this run the other day, and I've just been DYING to share the story with someone! You *understand* me, so I thought that "someone" might as well be you! So this was a solo job, right? Not really even a shadowrun... more of hired killing, to be honest. Just like the one you were on when we met!

Well, my target was the manager of this junkyard. Lots of big, heavy equipment, just waitin' to be used. He even had this custom WALDO unit... all these robot arms, each with its own special tool for a hand. It had drills, and saws, and cutting torches... even a belt sander! The thing could strip and part out a car in two minutes flat! You can see where this is going, right? Yeah, I know that you can!

You should've been there, buddy, I'm tellin' you. It was like somethin' out of a goddamned horror movie, only *better,* because *I* was in charge of the whole show. And no security to show up and spoil my fun, neither!

Anyway, pal, I guess I've taken up enough of your time. But thanks again for lettin' me go!


Now, we still have a couple of other things to check on this computer, but for the sake of balancing out this and the next update we'll get to the rest of it in the next one. Before we wrap things up though, there's a certain person who might be able to shed some light to this whole Adversary thing that came up during Glory's tragic story.

Unfortunately the person in question happens to be the Mayor of Smugopolis himself, Aljernon Half-Dream.

Hello again. May I help you?

I have a question, if you don't mind. What can you tell me about the Adversary?

[He raises an eyebrow.] The shamanic idol, you mean? An... unusual request. Why do you wish to know?

It's a long story. Suffice it to say that someone I know has had dealings with the thing.

Better to keep it a bit vague, just because we like to infringe on other people's privacy doesn't mean we're just gonna share it all with the world. We'll leave that business to social media platforms. Hah, gottem!


[He stands idle for a moment, considering.]

First, tell me what you already know. I will then do my best to fill in the gaps.

Well, from what I've heard, the Adversary is essentially a devil-figure.

Ah. I see. Very well, young human. I will tell you what I know.

Yeah now there's a real surprise, well get f... wait, you will? Just like that?

That said, the Adversary can be interpreted in different ways, just as any idol or totem can.

[He offers you a half-shrug.]

Some of its followers are worse than others.

Yeah, I'm sure that they're a charming bunch.

You joke, but shamans of the Adversary can be quite charming. They are confident to a fault, charismatic, and they flaunt their willingness to break cultural taboos. It isn't unusual for them to attract large crowds of followers.

So I've heard. And they use their influence to ruin the poor sheep that flock to them.

This is not a world of absolutes, young human. I would not call the Adversary "evil" any sooner than I would a more conventional totem, like Shark or Bear. All can be destructive, yes, and cruel. But none are intrinsically so.

None except the Totem of Unbridled Capitalism!

Lazy jokes aside, a spirit of rebellion like that seems like it'd be an especially popular choice in this city-state built around anarchy. A bit surprising it hasn't come up earlier.

This was all a lot less complicated before I talked to you.

[He shrugs his broad shoulders.] We live in a complicated world.

So basically, the Adversary isn't what I'd been told.

No. I suppose not.

Personally, I feel that calling the Adversary a "devil" is an oversimplification of the truth. It is both more, and less, than Christian doctrine would have you believe. But this is a question for the philosophers. And now, young human, I have a question for you. No, not a question - a request. I would like you to tell me about your friend's "dealings" with the Adversary. And I would like you to be thorough.

It's a long story.

[He smiles.] As luck would have it, I have nothing but time.

Sheesh, learn to take a hint, man.

No. I'm sorry, but it isn't my place to tell you. The story was told to me in confidence.

A fact that I can appreciate. But I want to know what the Adversary has been up to, and after all of the help that I've offered you, I think that you owe me the information. You don't need to put a name to your friend. Give him or her an alias, if you wish. But tell me the story, so that I might better guide you on the road ahead.

Hey, we're not supposed to be on the receiving side of this kinda prodding. Stop using protagonist powers on us, damn you! It's not right!

All right, then, strap in...

A brief fade to black later...

[After hearing your story, the talismonger leans back in silent contemplation.]

Well. Considering your friend's upbringing, it's no surprise that she views the Adversary as a devil-figure... she's interpreting her experiences through the lens that she was given.

So what I'm getting from you is that she's oversimplifying things.

I wouldn't tell her that. Indeed, I wouldn't attempt to dissuade her from her ideas at all. My interpretation may be different from hers, but that isn't to say that it's the "right" one.

Don't worry. I won't try to change her mind.

I doubt that you could if you tried.

I find this "Harrow" figure - the leader of your friend's old commune - to be deeply troubling. He is clearly a toxic shaman, working in the service of his own warped view of the Adversary.

What do you mean by "toxic" shaman? I'm unfamiliar with the term.

When you hop online after a long day at the nearby corp and the first posts you see in the message boards are "hermetic magic is gay" and "my totem fucked your mother last night, horse shaman btw", you know you're dealing with a toxic shaman.

I don't believe that Harrow fits into either category. From what you've described, he genuinely venerates the Adversary - or at least, his own view of what the Adversary should be. And he has been rewarded with power for that devotion. He will make a formidable enemy, should you choose to face him.

Going after the guy wasn't really in the schedule or anything, but now that you've gone and explicitly mentioned the possibility, it suddenly looks a whole lot more likely.

You say that he serves his own view of the Adversary. Don't idols care what their followers do in their names?

I see. Well, I agree with your assessment. Harrow sounds like bad news.

"Bad news." Yes. That's one way of putting it. Such men have been responsible for many terrible things in the Awakened world, and they are not to be confronted lightly.

I'll be careful.

Thanks, it was actually a really cool and interesting talk about a fascinating topic. ...N-not that we like you or anything, ch-chummer.

Anyway, that's probably enough chatting for one update. Next time - we chat some more! With Paul! And... Doctor Ezkibel? Also, we check the current hottest topics on the net! We watch a DVD! We pick up a job! You don't want to miss all this excitement, I can assure you.