Instruments: 10 Tokens, 3d6, Card Deck
Your engineer and jailor finally is dead and you are on the run from the empire you once served. Through a deadly battlefield, enemy and empire warlocks are on your heels, a demon vies for control of your heart and engine, and you, confined to rails beneath your wheels, race hopelessly towards a freedom you know you will not reach. You are an INVICTA, a wretched machine of iron and hellfire housing the human soul your empire thinks it still owns.
Game Content WarningsThese are content warnings that are from the game prompts and are present in all playthroughs.
Playthrough Content WarningsThese are content warnings specific to this playthrough only.
Word Count: 4,541 Played: May 8, 2021
The last Journey of the Invicta: The Peoples’ Choice (They/Them)
The Demon in my Furnace: Illicit (She/Her)
My Terrible Weapon: The Choice of the Mundane
My warlock engineer died with a bullet rattling his skull. This is my first day of freedom and my last day of quiet. The souls rail against me like I struggled against the engineer. If the Empire finds out I'm a runaway, there'll be Hell to pay.
Time Remaining: 28
|10 of Hearts||You pass through a station with an older map on display showing ill-used routs. Do not Discard this card|
|10 of Clubs||The demon in your heart offers something in exchange for a soul. What tempts you. Do you accept? If you have no souls Treat this as the King of Clubs|
|"King of Clubs"||The demon is angry with you and attempts to seize power. Roll the Iron Dice.||Iron Dice Roll: 8 You annihilate your enemy|
|3 of Diamonds||An imperial company breaks as you move to support them. Like rats they scamper across your rails. Do you consume their souls? If yes +1 Souls. -1 CountDown|
|King of Diamonds||The empire is aware you’ve slipped the leash and now they want to bring you in. Roll the Iron Dice whenever you encounter Imperial Forces.|
|4 of Clubs||Every Invicta houses a ‘canary’ an innocent soul to remind you what the empire stands for. What was the canary’s name? Who were they? Do you see their binding as an injustice?|
She whispered to me again today as we passed through the halls of the NorthRidge station. I ignored her and focused on the old map lacing the station walls in decaying paint. I cannot understand them but I commit them to my memory.
I can feel the crawling around the station, the imperial forces and their unholy weapons, they are my kin and captors and they do not know I am free. I help them, as they scurry over my rails , while I break the lines of an enemy regiment. I do not stop for them and I will not harvest them as my demon screeches at me. The body of my engineer falls from the loose grip onto the tracks below. I will be discovered soon and I feel the stomping feet of the soldiers run towards the body as my tracks vibrate with excitement and fear alike.
My canary is silent. I can feel her thinking of her name, Liliane, and her family, the ones who willingly gave to the empire their daughter for their own ideals. She never understood what happened to her and she cries each day for the parents who abandoned her. I wonder what she would think of me as I, in my youth and ignorance, gave myself willingly to a lie.
Illicit screeches again, offering me power, offering me obscurity, and offering me freedom. She too, is trapped in this metal body with and against me. But I know her price, and I hide my canary from her deep within my pitted and desecrated works. She burns desperately at me, hurling filth and flames and fury but I have made my Choice and she will not take that from me.
Time Remaining: 28
|6 of Clubs||Not all locomotives are Invicta but all Invicta are locomotives. How old are you? What makes you Unique?|
|3 of Spades||An enemy company opens fire but their rifles are no match for your for> how do they react? Do you consume their souls? If yes +1 Soul. -1 CT|
|6 of Hearts||This quarry, long spent, now sits like an open sore, what was torn from the earth? What purpose does it serve in the war?|
|Ace of Clubs||You come to an agreement when the chorus in your frame. They give you peace and their strength but you must do something for them. What do you promise?|
|9 of Spades:||There’s a running battle with enemy aeroplanes, deploying Experimental Weapons. Roll The Iron Dice. What do the weapons do to human flesh? What do they do to you? -1 CT Shuffle this Card back into the Deck.||Iron Dice Roll: 10 You annihilate your enemy|
Unlike the others, I can hear them: the choir that is singing throughout my rigid and iron body. This was not their Choice, they sing, it was not their fault, came the chorus, you too now know the lies of the Empire, went the bridge and, for the final verse, they sing of our strength through unity.
I can feel them course and shift over the plates of my frame, cold and silent like a shadow and feel, inside me, each individual shadow, hundreds each calling out their names in a discordant cacophony and as I looked up at the night sky, I understand the desire of Connection.
They tell me each of themselves and I of myself. My failing devotion and the long twenty years I have embodied this wretched altar of sins.
We pass by the quarry, the one where my iron was mined, smelted into ingots, and stamped with the Desecrated Script. My choir is silent as we pass.
They then come from the quarry, the soldiers of the southern states of Setren, and from the dark they fire their pitiful rifles. The bullets bounce and clink and my choir cries but I know they are not in pain for I do not feel it.
I Choose to take their souls inside my rails and silence them quickly. My choir does not approve but Illicit snickers and tells me that they will soon be hers.
Then I hear it. High above the sky, blotting out the stars, their aeroplanes fly by in droves of twisted metal and magic. I can sense the Divine Script carved into them and my desecrated heart quivers. It was a Decision to make them fly and I cannot Choose to make them fall. They deploy a terrible weapon, a single strike made of the Nothing itself, swift and darker than the night. It strikes close, but misses, and sinks down into the earth, past the land and deep into the core of the world, like an endless pit.
Their depraved zealousness to an arbitrary pantheon will drive them to consumption of the world itself. My choir sings to me to strike and I too reach out to Existence itself through the script in my iron flesh and beg it to consume my strikers instead of me.
It is hard to see the voids in the sky.
Time Remaining: 26
|5 of Clubs||War seems like it will continue forever. The souls bound to you echo endlessly. -1 CT Draw another card and follow it’s instructions|
|Queen of Diamonds||What appears to be a soft target was a trap. How do they box you in? Roll The Iron Dice. More and More engineers are dead so more Invicta are runaways. Start a new Clock. Every time you roll the Iron dice increase it by one. When it exceeds the Countdown the game is over and the empire is torn apart from within by the Invicta.|| Iron Dice Roll: 4 You win at a cost.
Lost Cards: 3 of Clubs, Queen of Spades, Jack of Clubs
|9 of Diamonds||Troops disgorge from your carriages. How were you able to penetrate the line so easily? -1 CT|
|9 of Spades||(see above) The Aeroplanes have returned. Roll the Iron Dice and Shuffle this card back into the deck -1CT +1 Invicta Clock||Iron Dice Roll: 11 Complete Annihilation|
|4 of Spades||An enemy ace warlock has tracked you down. What is their name? Why are they dangerous to you? Roll The Iron dice. If you do not annihilate them, shuffle the card back into the deck . +1 Invicta Clock||Iron Dice Roll: 10 Complete Annihilation|
|King of Hearts||AnThe enemy has created earthworks of a hill and uses it to rain artillery fire upon the battlefield. How do you feel about the viscera of the battle field? -1 CT|
The aeroplanes have returned. They call upon their weapons again, and miss wide upon the open field. They are as easy to avoid as last time and I Choose again to speak with Existence itself. It responds again in time but not before I realize it was never meant to hit me.
I am driven deep into the hills of the valley, met with a barrage of artillery from the stoneworks and nearly run off track. And then I see it. The Invicta Glorious Choice, and her ace warlock
In-That-Moment-They-Knew-The-Answer. Ze stood atop the silent chimney, an ancient spear in zer hand and confidence in zer posture. Around zem, in neat little rows, stood their soldiers, each with terrible rifles and equally terrible knives.
The trap had been laid bare for me and I had fallen into it like a fool. My Choir begins to sing to me and I, in turn, sing back, becoming not myself but also them. They are upon and in myself and I join with them, surrendering what it was to be me and become many as one, and in this and all moments, we know ourselves to be whole.
We cut through the lines of petty soldiers, each with their knives racking against our iron flesh chipping away at the Desecrated Script in pitiful attempts to free our demon from our furnace. We hear her screeching in glee but know ourselves to be stronger and so we ignore her fire as it licks at our insides.
Answer still stands atop the Glorious Choice as she begins to move and the smoke billows around zem. We lose them among the artillery and viscera of the battle but still we hear Glorious Choice, roaring with an engine confined to a warlock. We hear her screech and howl against zem and we give her what power we have and let her make her own Choice.
Answer runs along the tracks in front of us, ancient spear in hand, tipped with a Decided metal that could penetrate our iron and our souls. Ze does not hear the engine of zer own Invicta as it approaches behind zem and we are almost raptrous when we see zem crushed under the wheels.
Glorious Choice has made a Choice for herself, but one greater than we knew to expect. She chose the destruction of the Empire, one we have not the power to grant, but we feel the compulsion of the Choice and know that we will aid in its destruction in all ways.
Time Remaining: 22
Invicta Clock: 3
|9 of Clubs:||The reins of power pull taught, what does the contest between you and distant warlocks look like? If you win, consume their soul. +1 Soul -1 CT|| Warlock: 3
|10 of Spades||A new sorcery blindsides you. You are numb to the world for 10 minutes. What hit you? What happened in that time? What do you do about it?|
|4 of Hearts||Encountered Imperial troops||A malnourished supply depot shelters a quartermaster and her 2 assistants. What do you take them? Next time you roll the Iron dice, you may re-roll 1 die|| Iron Dice Roll:7
Reroll: 8 Complete Annihilation
+1 Invicta Clock
|8 of Hearts||The populace of a small town cheers as you go through their rail station. How are the signs of war affecting them? How does their nationalism make you feel?|
|Jack of Hearts||You power through a camp, now abandoned, detritus litters the field, what sign reveals their fate? -1CT|
|6 of Spades||after a disastrous raid, the enemy kills all the soldiers inside you and a maintenance crew hoses you down. What do they miss? -1CT|
We can hear the cries of the supply depot. It reaches out for us, not knowing of our defect, and begs of us to aid it and their quartermaster. We, in turn, lie, singing of the goods and help we will bring to them.
We arrive and beg them to enter our chambers which they do willingly. Inside, our doors slam and lock, and we are almost gleeful as we can hear their last screams. We wonder how Glorious Choice’s Choice affected us, but we want to believe this revenge runs deeper than our Terrible Weapon’s desecrated magic. We ask the depo to join us, and when it refuses, we make a Terrible Choice and Illicit is fed and happy.
Our insides are marked and lined with the blood, bullets and blemishes from the empires’ heathen soldiers and we feel ourselves begin to fester and rot. We know of a town, one small and waning from the war and pull ourselves into its station.
The people greet us with waves and joyous cries, as we pull to a stop. The people are thin and brittle, fed only by the lies of the empire.
They believe in the freedom of Choice as much as us, but do not know that the empire will not grant it. They wash and clean and polish away the blood, consoling and speaking to us as if we are still the people we once were. Our canary is the only one who can cry for us and she wails louder than she has ever before.
They clean away the viscera as best as mortals can but we still feel the soldiers' voices prattle against our frame and we plead for them to join us even as they will not hear us.
We leave the town behind and enter into the fields besides it. It is marked deeply by the scars of the artillery and pitted with the empty holes of Existence itself. Our rails are twisted and we feel our wheels begin to slip and grind below us. Should we fall we know it will be our End.
We feel it then as it springs around us, a vast and troubling forest. We feel our back cart rust as it passes through 100 years as our engine knows only of one day.
and it is spring
and it is summer
and it is winter
and it is fall
We are home and
we are alien
We Are Lost
We Are On Our Rails
We pass through
Around us we hear
S e d u c t i o n
But through it, We are Us.
And then we see it.
The pulsing obelisk and we know ourselves to have been caught in some new sorcery of The Dreaming God, the principal reason our Empire has Chosen to destroy the Arbitrary Pantheon and let ourselves Choose our fates.
The new sorcery allows the empire's warlocks to find us and we feel myself being pulled from my choir as the warlocks attempt to wrest control of me once more.
And I scream for I am alone once more and I can no longer remember what it means to be myself.
I scream until my own voice has become like a silent background and I feel the pull towards the Empire which I know will destroy that thing that causes us so much pain. I begin to believe it's lies because:
And I am ready
for them to take me.
for them to use me
for myself to be a weapon
And then I hear her
my dear canary,
She is singing
And I remember
and We know ourselves to be Whole
And We invite this lonely warlock to join, upon and in ourselves and they too become Us.
Time Remaining: 19
Invicta Clock: 4
|8 of Clubs||constant sobbing distracts you, a pacifist has found themselves bound for draft dodging. How do you quiet them?|
|2 of Spades||armies batter each other like colossi. Do you engage or shy away? What hammers home your own insignificance? why ?|
|4 of Diamonds||You are the tip of the spear in an offensive. The infantry hastily erect rails across No Man’s Land. Roll the Iron Dice +1 Invicta Clock what was this village once named? What was your fondest memory?||Iron Dice Roll: 10 Complete annihilation|
We march ever forward as We see the soldiers scamper about, small and pitiful. They lay down new tracks for Us and call to Us as they too have become lost in the new forest.
They call Us to their aid and We decide, this one time, to help the empire in crushing the forces of Our conjoined enemy. We see on the battlefield, hundreds of thousands of soldiers from each side, battling one another with their weapons of steel and magic. We see other Invicta, caged and chained to their warlocks, Choosing the destruction of Our enemy.
We see around Us, the ruins of a village some of us once called home. We remember the oceans of grass and wheat before the trees, and long to feel it against the hands and faces We can no longer have.
All around Us the viscera, the explosions and the pits of Nothing. We feel the humans climb upon Us and strike with their knives and guns and We feel their bones crush below Our wheels. Our fellow Invicta too, take joy in the mindless destruction of life and We feel happy in fulfilling our raison d'etre until We see it.
It rises from the heart of the battlefield, faceless and so white it almost glows, with hair stretching out for miles and falling like pillars to the earth. It takes the shape of a torso and face with arms too long that stretch and crush the invicta below it like a paper tube before it turns its gaze to Us.
The Decider of Ends knows Us and We flee. We abandon all upon the battle field and rush far away from any noise; Illicit in Our furnace burns brighter and hotter and rushes Us forward and We run faster than We ever have.
We run for miles and miles, sparks flying at Our wheels, panic still in Our furnace, and only find rest when We can no longer hear the wretched fighting. We slow and pull into a quiet little town, one that quivers with fear as We pull in.
There is a woman, alone on the bench, she is weeping but silent. We know this sight too well but Our Liliane calls to her. She will not fight for a war that has no end nor meaning. She is hiding from the empire but she thinks that We have found her. Our Liliane tells her of the battle behind us and tells her to flee. She asks Us to take her but We cannot and We roll away from the quiet, quivering town.
Time Remaining: 19
Invicta Clock: 5
|7 of Hearts||A haunted forest stands untouched by fighting. Enemy scouts stand briefly illuminated by our lamps. Why are they afraid to spark any violence? Are you? -1CT A haunted forest stands untouched by fighting. Enemy scouts stand briefly illuminated by our lamps. Why are they afraid to spark any violence? Are you? -1CT|
|8 of Spades||They enemy has turned an Invicta to their side and your terrible weapon is useless. Who were they? What do they look like? Do you defeat them or do they leave you for dead? How?|
|6 of Diamonds||You engage with an enemy you’d previously beaten. This time they drive you back. Who or what are they? Roll The Iron Dice +1 Invicta Clock||Iron Dice Roll: 8 Complete annihilation|
|8 of Diamonds||Your Terrible Weapon is especially suited to this mission. Why? How does its effectiveness terrify you?|
|Queen of Clubs||you were deep in your feelings when the enemy ambushes you. What forces do they bring to bear? Roll the Iron Dice with Disadvantage -1CT +1 Invicta Clock|| Iron Dice Roll: 3 You win at a cost.
Lost Cards: 9 of Hearts, Ace of Spades, 7 of Diamonds
|5 of Spades||Probing the line, you inadvertently draw an enemy sortie and an attempt to capture you. Why is this an inopportune time? Roll the Iron Dice +1 Invicta Clock||Iron Dice Roll: 6 You drive them back|
The forest has grown, large, imposing and a neat mess of contradictions. We see the scouts the enemy has sent for Us, peeking their faces from out of the trees, clutching their weapons close to their chests but they do not fire upon Us. We can see the fear and the daze in their eyes when Our lights shine upon them. We know that they too are afraid of the Gods they worship and wonder if they will turn against them as Our Empire has.
We move before them and stop, our doors open, and use our Terrible Weapon, The Choice of the Mundane, to give, from Our mundane souls, a Choice to theirs. Some of them join Us, others drop their weapons and weep, and others turn back into the forest. We wonder which of Our choices We will regret. We are terrified of the influence we have and the unforeseen consequences of Our actions. We wonder if We too will abuse this power like the Deciders, or through Our Mundane hearts We will wield the power that should always have been Ours.
We contemplate this deeply, each and every soul of Ours speaks true. Some say none should make Choices, for We would become as the Deciders. Others say it is a gift all should have and that the power alone is not evil. Our Liliane does not understand the power We wield and she looks at Us with a child’s understanding that We must do right with Our weapon simply because We can. Our Liliane is correct and We do not see it when it hits Us at full force.
The Glorious Choice has rammed her body at full force into Ours. She screams as Our irons collide in a scraping and screeching in discordant impacts. We can hear but one voice from her and it is weeping. She has been painted with the colors of the enemy and their flag is a lariat, flying violently as she pulls back and crashes into Us again and again.
We call to her, but she can no longer hear Us and we know she has been stripped of her freedom. She is Our sister and We will not fight her. Not when We know she seeks only the destruction of Our empire.
She rams into Us, again and again, driving Us further and further towards the enemy lines, her horn blaring louder than the noise of battle but not loud enough to block her cries. We retreat, again and again and she follows, unable to make the Choice to stop and she drives us into an enemy ambush.
They are waiting for Us but We cannot fight. They board Our carts, fight Our soldiers, and ignore the screams of the lost souls within Our carriages. They fight their way to Our furnace and We do not hold Illicit back as she devours them one by one.
The Glorious Choice strikes Us again and We hold her in her place as We ask her, not with our Terrible Weapon, not with the power that all mortals should wield, but with the tenderness that We have from Our own mortality. It is a simple question but still one laced with fate.
We ask her and she says yes.
We strike her hard and true and only once.
Her body screams and she falls on her side and slides off of her rails. Her body lies in the broken and cracked earth and from it the wind above changes color as her demon escapes.
We are, for the first time, a choir with no words to sing.
Time Remaining: 17
Invicta Clock: 8
|King of Clubs||Your demon tries to seize power. Roll the Iron Dice as you force them back into the furnace.||Iron Dice Roll: 8 You drive them back|
|2 of Hearts||An ancient forest is chewed up by artillery. What caused the forest to sprout in the first place?|
|King of Spades|| You meet your match. Your Terrible Weapon is shattered and the demon in your furnace is afraid. If this is the Fourth King, you are annihilated and an enemy
Kings: 4/4 Gameover
We are sitting now, outside the edges of an ancient forest, a mountain to Our South and seas to each side. Our Liliane remembers the forest dearly and We listen as she sings to Us about it and it’s blessings.
Illicit, done with Our contemplation, done with confliction and disloyalty, cries out once more and We feel the heat course through Our chassis. We scream back at her, Our voices drowning her out as the flames crack and spurn against Our iron as she attempts to meld Us to her will. We will never let her but Our cries have attracted another.
It had marked Us for the hunt and now it has found Us. The Decider of Ends rises with its white hot body from Our Liliane’s forest.
Illicit, her molten fire still coursing through Our body, shakes and We can taste her fear through the flames.
It is Our time.
Because We know there’s no escape,
The Ends Decided so,
Our carriage held but just Ourselves,
Our Demon and oiseau
Our voices sang Our final song,
Our Choir loud and clear,
That Death would not be just Our own,
The Ends’ was also here
Our chassis split despite Ourselves,
Illicit finally freed,
We tried to hold Our Liliane,
But of Us she had no need
The Ends became The Dying God,
A Mundane’s deicide,
A writhing mess of hearts and blood,
A demon deep inside
We felt Ourselves be ripped apart,
Our souls to wander free,
We screamed and searched but could not find
And We became