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/qst/ - Quests

Thread LXXXII:
Raining a bit, but I'm hoping we get a stable connection. Knocked back the start time a hair as an experiment.

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Lamia%20Legacy%20Quest
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LamiaLegacy
Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQmQwKEEOM
Story Thus Far: https://pastebin.com/4Hw1aTg3
Season: Early Spring

Money: 1425
New Backpack - (Sealed)
Kozak Bladesx2
Repeater - Unupgraded

Sasha: Skill list
Ranching +4
Scholar +3
Marksmanship +6
Natural Ability (Lamia) +3
Intrigue +4
Casting (Draconic+4 Roc+3 Leviathan+3 Troll+1 Elemental+1)
Falconry +1

You are awakened by the gentle motion of the carriage shifting as it leaves the main road. Peering out the window, you smile as you see you've just passed South Fork and are approaching the ranch itself. From your vantage point you can see the Nitor cavalrymen filing in behind Tai's chuck wagon that is currently being driven by Lady Wu. The return trip from Riverport has been, so far, blessedly without incident. Apart from food and tending to the horses you've been moving nonstop since you left Riverport. Popping out through the hatch, you relive a yawning Marie who, giving wordless thanks, swings herself into the newly vacated carriage to catch some shuteye. Hazarding another glance behind, you can see Tai in the middle of taking the reigns as well, letting the beastfolk woman crawl back into the nearly empty chuck wagon with the rest of your contingent.

Eventually you get a glimpse of your ranch from afar. It would appear in the time you were gone, the last bit of work on the bridge has been completed, as the tent camp that Foreman James and his crew had lived out of for the last few months is nowhere to be seen. Puzzled, you then realize they've probably moved to the next construction site, as the depot and what you hope will be the inn have yet to be completed. In any event, it's nearing the dead of night when you finally ease your miniature wagon train to a stop within the compound. Bidding the Nitor riders farewell, you help the Tai and the groggy beastfolk unload. Soon after McCain appears out of the bunkhouse, duster draped over his nightclothes as he bustles towards your carriage.

"We didn't expect you back for another day or two at least. Somethin' happen, Miss?" He asks, and the glint of torchlight on metal suggest he had the presence of mind slip his gunbelt on.

Well, we might as well pour something from our reserve. Do we have any whiskey, rum, or other spirits? This seems like a liquor sort of conversation.
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You sigh, slipping down off the carriage and in front of your foreman. "Come on inside, I'll tell you all about it."

Heading into your house, you dump your belongings into your room and crack a window to air the untouched room out some. With McCain waiting patiently downstairs at the dinner table, you grab one of your father's 'negotiation aides' out of his personal store in the office. He never drank much, but did try and keep a good supply just in case. With the bottle of whiskey in hand, you descend once more.

"That bad, huh?" McCain says, eyeing the bottle as you pour.

You drain your shot glass immediately, trying not to gasp as the burning sensation slides down your throat. "I think I lost track on the number of attempts on my life. Last of which was a gun battle with a bunch of phoenix soldiers."

"You ok? Keel told me about the bounty." McCain says, all concern.

"Didn't partake in the auction, just sold off my stuff to Flynn's and went home."

"How'd we make out?"

"Wages and expenses are covered, plus a little extra." You say, gesturing to the heavy strongbox still sitting in the open carriage. "I'll leave the paymaster work to you. I take it Serrak's crewmen have moved their campsite?"

He shifts uncomfortably, "Not exactly, Miss, they've moved and are doing surveying for the inn and depot and the like, yeah, but they haven't started real building yet."

"Why not?"

"Apparently their boss wants to talk to you. A runner came a few days after they finished the bridge, and that's when they packed up. Liama and her boys ain't moved, but I suspect that's against orders."

Ire rising, you pour yourself another shot. "And how exactly am I supposed to talk to him?"

"He showed up at the camp yesterday. Said something about unrelated business but had them rig up a fancy tent for his ass. I sent a letter, but I think you'd left before it arrived, Miss."

Huffing in frustration, you nurse your drink as McCain list off the happenings that went on during your leave. Outside of battle traces, Zhou's scouts haven't reported any major contacts with the Casimiran centaurs, namely old battle sites being feasted on by the wildlife. Artyom's been itching to go and have a look but McCain's been putting him on ranging patrols around your own property to keep him occupied and it's been working. As for Zhou himself, he's been acting as McCain's right hand as a go between for the ranchhands. His language skills haven't really improved, but it appears your foreman and the beastfolk leader have come to something of a mutual understanding. Outside of whatever game of silly buggers Serrak is playing, nothing of real note happened on the ranch while you were away. With that taken care of, the two of you see about unpacking the rest of your belongings.

>So see Serrak now, it's late but lets see how he likes the turnabout.
>He'll keep, wait for morning and let everyone turn in.
>>He'll keep, wait for morning and let everyone turn in.
Let's try and get a good night's sleep under our belt before trying that line of negotiation.
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Since it is already late, you opt to let everyone get a good nights sleep before dealing with the orc and his nonsense. Letting your ranchhands sleep, you drag the strongbox inside and secure its contents in your office safe. By your reckoning, you figure you've got just shy of fifteen hundred isens not already spoken for. With that tidy sum in mind, you head into your room to sleep in your own bed, something that until know you didn't realize you missed so much.

You wake up the next morning fairly early, poking your head out from under the covers, the smell of cooking bacon wafts up from the kitchen. Getting dressed and heading downstairs, you see Tai at the stove. Seemingly unfatigued, he moves about the kitchen making breakfast, and he isn't alone. Lined up expectantly outside are a good number of the beastfolk, including Zhou himself who is trying to look aloof but failing horribly.

"I'm afraid our cook spoiled them, couple weeks with my cooking and he's hailed as a returning hero." McCain says, looking up from his newspaper. You note the cover of it has an artists impression of the building those Phoenix Soldiers attacked you from and the headline 'NITOR AND EMPIRE CLASH' displaying prominently at the top. "No word about your involvement, just the 'heroic efforts of the Nitor to safeguard UFK colonies' and the like."

"Not sure I'd really want the attention to be honest." You say, swiping a piece of bacon from your protesting cook to go with your coffee.

"Probably for the best, yeah." McCain concedes, looking back at his paper.

A half hour later Tai's finished another massive spread and a horribly groggy looking Marie enters. The fatigue that seems to have not effected your cook has found refuge in the harpy, she accepts her food with bleary eyed thanks before staggering back to the bunkhouse. Zhou and company go what is probably the most orderly feeding frenzy you've ever seen, with each member snapping you and Tai a salute before racing off to devour their food. You catch sight of Liama exiting her camp and she gives you a warm smile before gesturing that she's headed out on patrol. Leaving the mercenaries to their business, you catch the last two arrivals to breakfast, Artyom and Tatiana, Artyom standing at attention before you acknowledge and an exasperated Tatiana giving you a prompt welcome before filling two plates and retreating into the bunkhouse once more. [You been arguing with her again?] You ask Artyom..

He snorts, [I should say not. I have just returned from patrol. I imagine it is the Dijkstra prisoner giving the princess headaches.]

[He's better then?]

[It was slipped that after he gets better he was to be turned over to Bralin for ransom. He feels he is better and has asked to be turned over. I imagine he suspects he would be treated as befitting his station as house head there. As for the specifics, I cannot say.]

Shaking your head, you turn back to your own meal and think about the day ahead.

We need to go talk to our Ork benefactor, I think. We'll see what happens from there.
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Figuring that the centaur business will keep, you decide to see what Serrak's up to. Finishing breakfast, you go up and kit yourself out for the trek out to where you'd set up the inn. It's not terribly far, but with your acreage you'd rather not run across any roving packs of coyotes, or worse, a cougar. Heading out into the compound, you move across the bridge and admire the craftsmanship. Serrak at least didn't hire any slouches and you can almost feel how solid the thing is as you go over the finished product. Safely on the other side of the river, you make your way along the road towards where you hope the men are working.

The morning trek passes uneventfully, though you do catch a glimpse of that wild horse herd at one point, off in the distance of the lowlands. As you approach the campsite, you can see workers are busy clearing brush and marking off where the travelers inn is supposed to go, but outside of the most basic foundation, there's not much there by way of actual building yet. Giving the foreman a polite nod, you enter the camp and beeline for a large but modest tent that has a pair of what James had politely called 'muscle' standing out front. Wordlessly, they pull back the flaps of the tent and you enter. Standing over a washbin, you see Serrak, shirtless and with a dab of shaving cream on his face.

"When I told them I did not want to be interrupted when I met with you. I had meant I'd at least had liked some warning you'd show up." The orc says, largely to the air. Unconcerned, the slim orc finishes removing the offending facial hair before detaching the razor from his prosthetic arm. "Oh well, it is no matter, I was told not to expect you for a couple more days at least, so at the very least I'll be able to get a head start on my other business."

"Other business?"

"Yes, it would appear that in his hurry to scrub me from his company, Karath fobbed of a lot of paperwork to his flunkies, who were... remiss to say the least. I was secondary executor of Karath's predecessor's estate, and without his own will, arbitrating his assets still fell to me in the case of his untimely demise."

"So you expedited matters?" You ask, concerned where this is going.

He smiles, "Hardly, more of a happy surprise."

"I didn't hear about Karath dying, when did it happen?"

"They found the body almost a week ago, someone had dumped it in a secure case room in Snake's Landing. As for the head, well, that was few days ago, and I only found out I was still executor of his two nights prior when they contacted me after identifying it."

"So you came here to..."

He quietly places a small head sized box on the table, "Obtain the remains and to see what progress you've made on this trade route I am bankrolling, last I heard from my sources, there was some trouble, yes?"

I haven't caught up with the archives, so I am not sure exactly what was the context of the trouble, but we should probably tell him, right?
Seems like some kind of mess with the empire, so we can tell him that. Just, you know, have him keep it on the down low, as we seem to not want it to be a big thing.

Ignore me in favor of regular players if they disagree, I don't know what I'm doing.
"There have been some complications."

"Such as?"

"Well, for the last few days I've been beating off Phoenix assassins, someone, I can only assume it is this Kingfisher character put a hit on me. It makes building up capital with a cattle drive more than a little difficult" You say, handing him a copy of the bounty on your head.

He stares at it for a moment before politely handing it back, "Well, I am happy for their continued failure in that endeavor. And this capital, I take it that your building it to try and handle the problem to the south, yes?"

You sigh, "The civil war down south is still largely unknown. I've not wanted to overextend and get stranded in a strange land with shifting alliances. From the looks of things a noble house by the name of Krasick is making a push on the throne, They've got their allies and there are loyalists. Their capital is a long ways away from here, and the only stories I've gotten are from Bralin, the nearest loyalist stronghold in the north, the Kozaks, the nomads that are nominally loyalist too, and a prisoner we scooped up after a skirmish who's sworn to the other side."

"This prisoner have anything of note to say?"

"Only that the two sides were at a stalemate by his reckoning. He was still in a fairly bad way when I left for the cattle drive. Rumors, and I stress they are rumors, say that the royal family was eradicated, possibly by Krasick, and that Krasick is asserting its claim to rule their realm. Their hereditary government system is strange."

Taking this in, you can see him mentally filing this information away before he responds, "You said rumors, do you have anything suggesting that there is evidence to the contrary to their claims?"

You hesitate, wondering if you should tell him about Tatiana being one of the King's daughters.

>Let him know the whole story.
>Change the subject for now.
>Try and deflect suspicion.
I have no idea. maybe I should catch up on the archive.
I say
>Change the subject for now.
We could tell him that we don't have enough to make an accurate assessment yet. That's fair enough, I think.
Don't hurry on my account, migraines are a bitch
No worries, we'll pause here for the night, let folks gather up and resume tomorrow. I'll try get a post out early and then go with gusto at ~5:00PM EST.
Fair nuff. Don't have a brain explosion!
Tell him.
He's giving us a LOT of money to get this shit moving, and he may be able to help, especially if he knows that we will be friendly with the next queen.
I totally bow to your actually-knowing-what-is-happening.
Instead, argue why we shouldn't tell him.
"Well... yes, in fact, I do." You say, pausing to think how to word this. "Shortly before the violence started, the Kozak's could see the writing on the wall and asked me to take in their leader's niece, a healer named Tatiana. It turns out, the the Ataman is the brother-in-law to King Sigismund of the Szlachta royal line and that Tatiana is one of his daughters."

Serrak pauses, scratching his chin. "So you've got a prospective heir to the throne in your company? Has she asked for your assistance?"

"Only so much as to find out the whereabouts of her family. She says she's seventeenth in line to the throne, so the chances they were wiped out are fairly slim."

"But go stronger every day this goes unchecked." He says, "Well, did she at the very least have any suggestions on how to proceed?"

"Only that we should find her uncle. Apparently the Kozak's scattered once the fighting broke out, expecting the border Szlachta towns to try for old land claims. They've probably fled into the wastelands to the west where there's a big problem with the lawless bandyta and natural hazards. I tried to entreat the Nitor to help, but they said so long as the Phoenix are an issue they don't have the manpower to spare."

There's a silence for a time, only broken by the hum of Serrak's arm as he pulls out a paper from his desk and begins writing on it. You take the free moment to look around the room, despite the size of the tent it's not as opulent as you expected with a simple fold out bed, a desk, and the washbin taking up separate corners of the room. Not all fancy living until you remember that this is supposed to be a tent, not a house, and so normally flooring isn't part of the design plan. You're just about to inspect the curious hinges in the middle of the floor when Serrak finishes the paper.

"Hand this to Liama, and let her know her previous orders to guard the property and premises are considered complete."

"Letting her go?" You ask, worriedly.

"In a manner of speaking, yes." He says, "Oh don't worry, I'm still paying her, but deployment and the like are now your purview, not mine. I believe that'll free up your manpower issue, the woman and that rifle of hers are a batallion in their own right."

"Oh. Well, thank you." You manage, a bit confused.

"Far be it from me to tell you how to handle the political situation, what with a possible future queen having your ear and all, but I believe it would be best to at least have a semblance of a trade route working before the end of season." He says, the unspoken warning hanging in the air before he adds, "Was there anything else you needed?"

>Ask him anything?(Specify)
>Head out
"We'll do what we can. I was planning to go looking for more leads within the week anyway. Once I'm sure that I've got all of my men equipped and properly rested I'll be heading out. We'll be going to Bralin first, though, and make sure if they are willing to trade for outside weapons and food.
"Well, I guess back to the road with us. Hard to say what sort of deals there will be what with there being a war on both sides of the pass.
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"I was planning to go looking for more leads within the week anyway. Once I'm sure that I've got all of my men equipped and properly rested I'll be heading out. We'll be going to Bralin first, though, and make sure if they are willing to trade for outside weapons and food. Hard to say what sort of deals there will be what with there being a war on both sides of the pass."

"Desperation and conflict make for great markets I've found. Admittedly, the market was for prosthetic limbs so it was more the aftermath of conflict. Nonetheless I'll be relocating to Snake's Landing, Karath had more than his share of secrets, and I intend to plumb them for all they are worth." He says, rapping the box with a knuckle. "I see you've got the political matters far more under control than I suspected, so I'll leave you to your work. If anything changes however, don't hesitate to let me know."

"We will do what we can." You say, trying desperately not to think of the boxes contents.

"Don't let me detain you, and have a good day Miss Masterson."

"You as well Serrak." You call behind you as you slither out of the tent as fast as you bloody well can.

Hurrying home, you find McCain directing the staff and pull him aside, filling him in on the situation. He informs you that barring the group that just came, most of your 'staff' are raring for action. Artyom in particular, but the tales that the beastfolk you brought on the cattle drive have returned with have spread through the rest of Zhou's people like wildfire literally overnight. Mentally planning the trip, you figure you figure at the fastest two days before you can get the supplies together, three if you figured on a longer expedition. There's a whole slew of other factors you'll have to take into account as well. Let McCain return to his work, you try and figure out what's your next priority.

>Go check in with Tatiana, this all involves her anyway.
>Check in with Liama, she should be off shift so you can hand her the note.
>Just focus on planning the trip for now.
>Check in with Liama, she should be off shift so you can hand her the note.
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Note in hand, you move off towards the miniature tent city that Liama and her men have been using since she's been hired. Poking your head in you can see Eli and Caff, two of Liama's men leaning against the wagon that makes up the central support for their encampment.

"Looking for the boss?" Caff says pointing a thumb over his shoulder, "She's fiddling with her rifle in her quarters. Head on in." Following the the guiding thumb, you see a partition in a corner of the expanse with a tip of a tail sticking out. Poking your head in, you can see the black and yellow lamia huddled over a workbench. From your vantage point you can see her lost in concentration, forked tongue sticking out of one side of her mouth as she puts her rifle back together. Commiserating with her struggle, you remain silent as she finally negotiates the troublesome part back into place. She eventually manages it, and with a laugh of triumph she replaces the firing pin and holds the gun up for final inspection.

"Thought you were clever, huh? Stubborn little sod." She says aloud

"Trouble?" You say, making your presence known and causing her to jump.

"Oh, geeze. Hello Miss Masterson, sorry. The block on this is a bugger to get back in but it needed cleaning so..." She says hurriedly, setting the rifle down.

"Don't worry about it. I've had my share of cursing trying to troubleshoot a rifle." You say before producing Serrak's note. "Spoke with your employer a bit ago about an unrelated matter, he wanted me to give you this."

She quickly reads over the paper before smiling, "Finally figured to let us off the leash, eh? Or, well hand the leash off to you, or... wait that can probably be worded better. Nevermind. What's the occasion?"

"Gotta get the trade route up and running and the Nitor's too busy with the Phoenix bastards to help with the situation, so it's down to us. Planning on heading there soon, seeing about what we can do to make the most of the situation. Will probably need a good amount of gun."

"Which is why I take orders from you instead of Serrak now. Okay, nice. I get it. How big a force we looking at here, and furthermore, anything special you're gonna need outta me?"

"How good are you at pyromancy? The troll-kin on the other side won't die until they're on fire. While I can handle most of that, it's better to have as many burners as possible. Beyond the troll-kin, the Casimir should be treated as mounted knights. No Dragoons among them as of yet, but we can work on getting "our" side equipped for the job through trade. We're going to end up fighting in a war, more likely than not, and I want to make sure that the side that I like wins. Their formations are mostly made up of multiples of 4, so standard size for a patrol should end up being around 8-16 lances strong. They're extremely flashy and favor ordered "honorable" combat, so it shouldn't be hard to spot them first. If you knock out their banner, then they will scatter/be so disorganized that they won't be able to meaningfully resist anymore, though they'll try to."

>Explain any other information that she may need/correct any misinformation that I've put into my diatribe
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"How good are you at pyromancy? The troll-kin on the other side won't die until they're on fire. While I can handle most of that, it's better to have as many burners as possible."

She grimaces, "Never really took to mage arts, sorry, it's why I did a stint in the Arma Nitor, not the Schola. Mum showed me a bit of what we can do provided acid works just as well?"

You nod, before continuing, "Beyond the troll-kin, the Casimir should be treated as mounted knights. No Dragoons among them as of yet, but we can work on getting "our" side equipped for the job through trade. We're going to end up fighting in a war, more likely than not, and I want to make sure that the side that I like wins."

"Your side being..."

"The one that didn't torch Artyom's hometown."

"Good enough for me. You say they are mostly knights?"

"Lancers, archers, big tough bastards that heal well. Big on 'cavalry' maneuvers. No pun intended. I've seen their charges turn on a dime. Their formations are mostly made up of multiples of 4, so standard size for a patrol should end up being around 8-16 lances strong. They're extremely flashy and favor ordered "honorable" combat, so it shouldn't be hard to spot them first. If you knock out their banner, then they will scatter/be so disorganized that they won't be able to meaningfully resist anymore, though they'll try to."

"Banner serves as a rally point I'm guessing?" She asks, pulling out a notebook.

"Dunno, all I know is the side who's bannerman got shot in the face collapsed like straw the instant the other side hit it."

"Shooting in the face will do that." She quips.

"Don't laugh, that same bannerman is the one we brought in. He's already mostly healed, or so he claims."


You go over the little you know on the Casimiran in the most general terms. Most of which she's probably picked up secondhand, but she jots it down nonetheless. Diatribe over, she ventures another question. "How big is this expedition party going to be, and what are the immediate objectives?"

We'll take 8 or 12, depending on what we may need, and the first objective is attempting to set up a trade route with Bralin. After that, we're coming back to send a runner to Serrak to tell him if we're successful, and what would be looked for by them. We shouldn't assume this to be easy, but our prisoner may end up being a good bargaining chip towards getting what we want. If not, then we'll probably have to do them a favor or two to get them to open up to UFK traders.
"Anywhere from eight to twelve, multiples of four, may as well obey their conventions. First objective is setting up a trade route with Bralin, and getting a runner back to Serrak with the news. Our prisoner may be the way in, as we've agreed with Bralin to hand him into their custody once he's gotten better, if not, well we'll have to see about getting into their good books some other way."

"Earning trust?" She says, raising an eyebrow.

"Basically, favors for favors and all that. I've been in town before, and outside of the usual horror of foreigners who aren't the same shape as you they were fairly hospitable. Artyom helped on that angle."

"With me, mine, and yourself that makes six, who else will we be working with?"

"Not sure yet. Artyom's a native to the land and would be helpful, but I'm pretty sure he's an axe to grind and I dunno how that'll effect him. Zhou and his people would be good to fill the ranks, they've been scouting out the far side for a while now, probably have a good handle on it. Could bring my ranchhands, but the damn cattle drive has been an adventure in itself and they could use a boring assignment. McCain's reliable, and a damn fine fighter, but he's also probably the best choice to run the ranch while I'm over there."

"What about that big friend of yours?" She asks smirking.


"You know, forty odd feet long. Lived in a cave in the mountains for pretty much the entirety of our recorded history."

"Veles? I've not asked him yet."

"Oh, well I hope he comes, I have a lot of questions I'd like to ask."

"Such as."

"How somebody stays sane after that long. I'd go nuts cooped up like that."

"It's a good question. I guess we'll see. I'm sure he's not happy with the Casimiran making a ruckus in his backyard."

She has a few more mundane questions that you answer to the best of your ability regarding departure, estimated distance to Bralin, and the fauna. She's taken aback by your story of the cougars, but judging by the glint in her eye you suspect she'd probably like to bag one herself. Confident she's fully informed you bid her good day and step out into the afternoon sun.

>Next order of business?
Lunch time.

(I need to get to bed soon, so I'll be dropping here for tonight. Can't really do anything until later tomorrow, so don't expect me before ~5-6.)
No worries, we'll pause here since it is getting late. As always I hope folks have enjoyed the thread so far, and thanks for reading. Also, belated greeting to the new guy that popped in yesterday, hope you find everything to your liking.
Well, let's go see Veles. Let's bring a gift of some sort for him as well as a morsel for Daisy.
With lunchtime fast approaching, you head towards the kitchen in the hopes of beating the mob. Inside, you find Tai teaching a few of the beastfolk some basic cooking skills, the demand for which became apparent with his absence. In the middle of the crowd is Lady Wu, who could not look more out of place. Upon spotting you, the youths in the group grab samples of their food and present them to you speaking excitingly.

"They want you to try their first self cooked meal." Tai says, translating from the stewpot he's tending.

"I think I gathered that much." You say, allowing yourself to be led over to the dining room table where they begin heaping 'samples' onto a plate. Presenting it to you, they back away looking expectantly towards you as you take a bite from a small meat pie. Chewing it over thoughtfully, you identify the creator from the especially nervous look and give it an approving nod. They wait until you've weighed in each of their contributions in kind before rushing off to excitedly babble to Tai who suffers their attentions stoically. Behind the kitchen counter you an see one of the other beastfolk laughing softly before nudging Lady Wu, who rolls her eyes. For a first attempt, its not bad. A bit light on spice, perhaps, but not unappetizing. Not one to let food go to waste, you finish off the plate of food before bringing it to the sink. Looking over at Tai, let him know to extend your compliments to the aspiring chefs, and if it were possible for him to whip up a little something to bring to Veles. Basket of edibles in hand you head past the children, gaping at the food you're clearly going to go through, and out the door just as McCain rings the dinner bell signifying lunchtime.

You open the gateway behind the house and find yourself in the circular atrium of Veles' lair. Heading through the rookery, you pull a small piece of meat out of the basket and locate Daisy, who obediently hopes on your shoulder before tearing into the treat. Exiting the tunnel, you spy Veles immediately, fussing about at one of his workbenches, the same one you saw him at last time. The only real indication he'd moved is the large stockpile of meat curing over where you viciously savaged that venison flank when you had a bad reaction to that procedure of his. You make to announce your presence when his head pops from behind the screen, followed closely by Dahz who makes a beeline for your parcel but stops a respectful distance and sits staring at it expectantly.

<Hello, Sasha. It is good to see you.> Veles says, <Was your cattle expedition a success? Or is something the matter I can assist with?>

"We came out in the black, but there were complications, and there are yet more that are more urgent"
>detail the assassination attempts and our current need to establish a trade route ASAP
Pretty much this. Perhaps discuss with him Liama's apparent interest in him. Hell, maybe we can get the old snake laid!
Sorry about that, my internet cut out for a day.
I've got nothing intelligent to add here, but it makes total sense that their stuff is underspiced.
I was under the impression lamias overspice the fuck out of their food for similar reasons to why dwarves do it.
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"We came out in the black, but there were complications, and there are yet more that are more urgent."

You go over the events of the past few weeks, giving Veles the same rundown you gave McCain, though you don't have the bounty paper on your head handy. Veles listens patiently, and graciously accepts the food basket you brought him when you finally remember it in your hand. Setting it on a table, he picks through it while saying aloud. "Is there any reason you would have a bounty?" he says, before tearing in to one of your offerings.

You pause, "Well, I mean I'm not sure. We've done a lot of damage to their operations, and I know the empire has a stigma against our kind given everything that has happened."

"Yes, but they must have seen there's more than just you then, I've had a hand in it, as well as the other one you employ. Are their bounties on our heads as well?" He asks, seemingly unconcerned with what he's suggesting.

"I don't know." you admit. "I haven't really thought about it."

He shrugs, "Well, there's two ways it could be. There are people seeking my life, and if so I will just have to be more careful, or you have personally upset whoever is issuing the bounties to make yours special. So, in short, we should all take care."

"well, I'm planning on heading over to where they don't have much grasp, so the danger from them should be minimal. That's another reason I stopped in. You up for a trip into the Casimiran lands?"

"You wish to enlist my aid? Well, I am hardly one to refuse after being plied with such fine bribery." He says, gesturing to the food. "Where is it you intend to go?"

"Bralin, wanna start getting trade going proper. No idea how the war down there is going so we'll be bringing out the heavy hitters to be safe, you hear anything?"

"I've seen more evidence of your scouts than I have of the Casimiran, to be honest, and they have been fairly scarce themselves. I've kept to myself these past few weeks."

You nod, "Good, I got Liama cleared to head over with us, and I'm thinking eight to twelve people total. Also, Liama mentioned she'd like to have a chat with you at some point. She's apparently taken an interest in you."

He pauses, "Liama is the mercenary. The one who's mother was of some import to your civilization, yes?"

"That's putting it lightly, but yes, that's her."

"What is she curious about?"

You cock an eyebrow at the old snake, "Liama seems the sort to seek out novelty, and if you don't mind me saying so you are novelty in the extreme."

He smiles, "Well, I will take that as a compliment. I suppose she would be willing to answer some of my questions as well? I've finished one of your history books, I would like to hear more about her mother's exploits."

"I'm sure that can be arranged."

"Was there anything else you needed?" He asks, rifling through the basket a bit more.

Nothing else for the moment. I'll see you later.
...Actually: Do you think you could help me some with more training with Daisy?

Side note: We need a dark-leather long-coat and such.
Well, we've got him coming with us, so we've got his aid.
All that's really left that I can think of is putting in more good words to make romance happen, but that's just because I'm a busybody.
We need to work more on getting Mari to love us.
I want Snek/Birb, dammit.
I have no real opinion on main character romance.
No, setting up side characters together is the real shit.
(Also, she's fucking Cockney.)
Help me, and I'll help you.
I am not sure you can romance a cockney. I've never seen it happen.
This is a tough one, guy.
Go get into numerous drunken barfights until romance happens?
We've already been drinking on the dock, only for us to get attacked by a crazy with a sharpened leaf spring being used as a knife.
Then you are on your way to cockney romance. Keep it up.
"No. Well, unless you've got a secret for training Daisy? I've not put as much time into it as I should have, all things considered." You admit, passing off another treat to the falcon.

"Nothing that can be done in a day, no. However, if you were to bring her along on this trip of yours, I may be able to provide a more consistent training. Though she may prove a distraction."

"Well, I'll consider it. Wanna do right by everyone, and having the poor bird get a halfassed education doesn't fall into that category. Thanks again, Veles." You head back up into the atrium, depositing Daisy in the rookery on the way, and head through the gateway to your ranch. For once, you've managed to visit the ancient lamia without getting drawn into his incredibly helpful, if time consuming, teachings. Aspiring to make yourself useful, you check in on the ranch.

McCain, as usual, has the chores delegated and with the smaller herd, there's not much in the way of duties for the glut of manpower you've acquired. Marie and one other person are more than enough to keep an eye on the remaining herd and with the way the scouting missions are set up, there's maybe a half dozen beastfolk that don't have tasks. Seems to suit them fine though, one is helping Tai mark out a new garden his old one having been strained to keep up with the new arrivals. However, most of the attention seems to be on Zhou and Wu on the far side of the compound.

From your position, it looks like the two are sparring with a pair of rifles, swinging, thrusting, ducking through each others swipes. On closer inspection, you can see that they are a pair of staves carved out in the shape of rifles. Around them a crowd has formed, but the remainder of the beastfolk don't seem to be treating it as a spar, watching intently as the two weave in and out of melee. Eventually you realize that Zhou is acting as instructor, turning and addressing the group after disarming Wu and raising the rifle into firing position. It's a bit strange, since you'd figured they'd know this by now. Behind them you can see Liama and a pair of her shadows watching the spectacle as well.

Turning away from them for the moment, you look over to the bunkhouse, where you can see Tatiana. Flanked by Artyom, both centaurs have a slew of what you can only assume are medicinal herbs slung across their backs. The pair move inside the bunkhouse, and a moment later the two beastfolk assigned to watch over your prisoner emerge and wordlessly move to where Zhou and Wu are.

>What do?
We need to talk to Tatiana and Artyom (without the prisoner hearing) about the upcoming mission.
What exactly is our big mission plan, anyway?
We're going to solidify a more concrete trade route? Have we gone to this place for trading yet at all, or are we doing pathfinding?
Either way, we need to get the trail marked and the path stamped down, so we can send further, less armed caravans repeatedly.
We have NO trade route. We need a trade route set up ASAP.
We already have a path, but no road leading there. Eventually, one will be made, but that's not the point for now. We just need to start making money so that we can make this worth the Ork's effort.
As to the caravans, they're going to need to be at least 12-16 men large no matter what right now. With the war, the traders are going to be at risk due to the rebels' likeliness to attack them.

Once we have Bralin trading with our merchants, we're going back home to resupply west to find the Kossaks. We could end up getting trade with them set up as well, but we need to confirm the locations and conditions of the royal family. Tatiana doesn't WANT to be Queen, and we need to at least look like we're trying to find an alternative.
Okay, sounds good.
All we've gotta do is stock up on valuables and get there without dying, then.
I assume we're already loaded up on trade goods?
WE're not trading, we're opening them up to third-party traders.
Oh, I see. We've got a gaggle of them to come with us? Or are we bringing the goods by proxy?
No. Please actually read what I write.
All that WE are doing is getting Bralin to agree to trade with any merchants that -Strelok-... Serrak sends through. He'll be the one taking the information that we find out about and relaying it to any merchants that he believes would be able to make him, and us, money.
Most of your economic involvement in the endeavor is through the toll the get into Casimiran lands as the only known route, and through any services you provide, which is why you are building an inn and a depot, and have a makeshift warehouse on your property.

Since it's getting late, we'll pause here for the night. I will try and not wake up horribly late and get an early post in this time. Nonetheless consider us in slow burn mode. I'll be around for a bit to answer some questions for anyone that has them.
I see.
Are we bringing any sample goods?
Fair enough.
I know that that is where we get our money. That's why we need to get the trade set up ASAP so that Serrak can make back what we borrowed, and we can start making a profit.

I'm happy about it too. I want 0ayn to keep coming back
I will gladly assist the discussion endeavor by being clueless and asking stuff.
That actually helps more than some people think that it does.
I hope so.
I also hope we bring sufficiently dazzling trade good samples.
We aren't. We have no contact with the traders that may be coming. The best we can do is show them how .45-70 Gov. rips through their enemies' armour.
ah shit, this is going to be a tough negotiation, then.
We should consider at least bringing our finest recreational drugs to break the ice. That's a trading classic.
No. We're trying to sell weapons and food to them. They also would likely be insulted if we did something like that.
Leaving the beastfolk spectacle be for now, you head into the bunkhouse where you see Tatiana leafing through the stack of herbs, Artyom is assuredly standing watch over the prisoner.

[Something wrong?] You ask, speaking softly.

She looks up, [Our prisoner claims to feel well, and I've no reason to keep him here on physical grounds. I've attempted, subtly, to try and sway him from his loyalty to his liege lord without success. I'd rather not see an honorable person waste their life in service to a dishonorable one, but outside of revealing myself, I do not see a means to convince him.]

[He's not figured it out?] You ask, surprised since Artyom seemed to identify her right quick.

[He's been blindfolded the whole time, it is very easy to affect a Kozak accent. I'm just a simple, kindly, Kozak healer to him.] She huffs in frustration.

[Well, in the next couple of days we'll be heading to Bralin. Need to open up trade, and find out more about what is going on. Handing him over could give us an in. What do you think?]

[I cannot say.]

Leaving her to mull it over, you seek out Artyom and beckon him away from his charge.

[Yes?] He asks, lowering his voice even out of the prisoner's earshot.

[We'll be heading to Bralin soon.] You say, gesturing towards the bound centaur.

[Finally doing away with him?] He asks, expectantly.

[Not sure yet. Tatiana says he is a good sort but doesn't want to reveal she's alive]

He shrugs, [It is beyond me to say. I do agree with her judgement on his character, for what that is worth.]

[That's a change, what brought that on?]

[Since you have been gone, he has made no attempt to escape, or so much as remove the blindfold. Nor has he tried to defend what the Krasick have done to my home.]

[Model prisoner?]

He nods.

>Speak with the prisoner before deciding anything. (Specify)
>Decide on what to do with the prisoner
Well, I don't want to give the prisoner away to a rival clan, if he's being so good. Not quite sure what he did to be imprisoned, but yeah.
Perhaps we can release him after we get the trade route established? I mean, he'll go back to working for a douche, but by that point we'll have passed the most vulnerable stage.
>speak to the prisoner
[We're going to head to Bralin in a few days. I want to ask you something before we actually leave, though. I know that our healer has been trying to convince you to renounce your oaths to your Lord. I don't expect you to capitulate to these requests. Rather, I want to ask you a hypothetical question: If you knew that we were working for one of the rightful royal line, would you renounce the Krasicks and aid us?]

He was imprisoned because he survived getting shot in the head (jaw) by us when we intervened with a battle between House Bralin and one of House Krasick's vassal houses.
We are not just letting him go, though. He can't be allowed to JUST go free. If anything is going to happen with him, it is going to be he will work for/with us, or he's getting traded to Bralin.
So, he's a prisoner of war?
Does he have any kind of super critical information or anything? Or is it a possibility we can give him back to the house he came from?
We've already gotten everything that we can, and we won't get anything for doing that. We also don't know where they are (he could guide us, but I don't like that idea), and then there's the fact that-
Wait a second. That may actually be a good idea. If we start defeating their lords and escort them back to their homes, it will humiliate them, and it would also show us as being extremely fair sports. They may even start to question the legitimacy of their war, and whether or not they should continue it.

(I'm not going to do that, though, because we need to use him as a direct bargaining chip more.
Well, shit. I still think it would be a good idea to give him back to the people he comes from, as we don't really have a major foot in this war either way.

It would be a good policy to affect from here on out, at least, even if we give this guy away for some reason. What even do they do to enemy prisoners in centaur land?
Probably the same things that they did in real life: trade them for other prisoners or enslave them.
Let's hope it is the first one.

Do note that nobles were only ever traded away to for prisoner exchange.
I personally don't give a shit if he is enslaved so long as we get ahead. If we don't know what happens, then we can pretend that whatever we want happened and only that.
-is- he a noble?
A minor one, but yes, as far as I remember. (If he wasn't then he wouldn't have been the Bearer of the Colours.
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You approach the blindfolded centaur and clear your throat, announcing your presence. [We're going to head to Bralin in a few days. I want to ask you something before we actually leave, though. I know that our healer has been trying to convince you to renounce your oaths to your Lord. I don't expect you to capitulate to these requests. Rather, I want to ask you a hypothetical question: If you knew that we were working for one of the rightful royal line, would you renounce the Krasicks and aid us?]

He says nothing for some time, trying to process the foreign voice. In the background you can see a worried Tatiana fretting about before the prisoner speaks, [I am sworn to my liege lord. As such, I am honor bound to answer any and all of their calls to arms. I would need more than just the word of a kutkh to make me challenge my allegiance to my liege.]

[I thought as such.] You say, musing quietly, [If such evidence were found?]

[It would call Krasick's claim into question. Assuredly.] He says.

[You're remarkably forthcoming.]

[If their cause is righteous, it will succeed in the fullness of time. If not it will fail and they will reap the consequences.] He says with some feeling.

[And your house?]

[We are but minor nobles, should Krasick be deposed, their holdings will fall to their liege who will dispense it as they see fit. In such instances a distant relative or a lesser lord will be elevated in power.]

[And the lesser houses that supported Krasick?]

[What of them? The leaders of a coalition and their house bears the brunt of their actions. Lesser houses merely do their duty, and there is no crime in that.]

"Only following orders." You mutter to yourself, before heading back to the other two.

Well, I guess we'll be trading him to his rival house so they can trade him for prisoners.
It might be wise to ask him if that is actually what they do with prisoners, don't want to game of thrones this guy.
It doesn't matter what they do if we're being honest.

Ask Artyom and Tatiana (out of earshot of the prisoner) what it is that they normally do with prisoners of war, though I'm pretty sure that I've already expressed it, as well, ask them how they feel about escorting him back to his Hold and the possible positive and negative repercussions of such an action.
I'm leaving in a bit to go watch fireworks, so don't expect me here for a while.
Checking your out of earshot, you turn to Artyom and Tatiana, [What exactly do they do with prisoners of war, normally?]

Artyom is the first to respond, [Hold them for ransom, or as a means to barter concessions after the war is over.]

Tatiana has other matters on her mind, [You told him I'm alive?] She asks, confusion and fury seeping into her voice.

[No. I just suggested that the royal house isn't as dead as he might think. Those spreading the rumor know it's false, and it might just seep doubt into their side.]

[And if they puzzle out that I am here?] She asks, mollified somewhat.

[What are they going to do? There's one route through the mountains and I don't see them having any means of getting through to try regicide.]

She sighs, [I suppose you are right.]

[I should be. Anyway, out of curiosity, what would be the benefits of escorting him back to his own holding, as a gesture of goodwill.]

[You'd be handing Krasick another soldier ready to cut you down.] Artyom snorts.

[Their house would likely owe you a favor, but I can't imagine that Bralin would be pleased. After all, there was an agreement.] Tatiana says, [I do not like it, but that is just how it is.]

Well, if the prisoner goes to ransom, I guess that's how it'll be. As long as we're not introducing ourselves to a new people with warcrimes against prisoners of war, and all that.
>war crimes
>they're living under feudalism
>implying war crimes exist

We will continue with the plan to trade him to Bralin. We said that that's what we would do, and so that's what we will do.

I also vote that we show to him, before we leave, that Tatiana was the one tending to his wounds.
You make your decision. [We'll continue as we planned then. Hand him over to Bralin, maybe use that as our in. You alright with that Tatiana?] She nods, if a bit half heartedly. [Also, if I may make a suggestion, before we leave, enlighten him on just who exactly kept him alive.]

[Reveal myself?]

[Give him something to think about, and where his loyalties truly should lie.]

[I will consider it.] She says, still looking unsure.

[No rush, we've got a couple days before we have to leave in any event.] Turning, you address your burned hussar, [Artyom, you fine on coming with us?]


Seeing the look of anticipation on his scarred features you add, [You do know we aren't out for blood, no provoking a fight if we don't have too. I don't doubt you'll get a chance to settle scores in the fullness of time, so don't do anything rash right now. You'll probably be guarding Vernon there for the majority of the way in.]

Taking your leave, you head back out into the compound. Zhou and his mob have finished up the sparring session and have switched shifts with the current ranchands, the leftovers moving to help Tai work on the new garden. Marie and the other wolfish member of Zhou's tribe head towards the bunkhouse having been relieved, Tatiana probably wanting to catch up on ranch happenings with Tatiana. Off in the distance you can see a pair of nitor talking with the two of Liama's shadows who're on duty, Corporal Red and Nelson if you recall. Seems Captain Keel's still got a vested interest in your ranches safety. Given you are taking a good number of your combat capable employees off the ranch such vested interest is reassuring.

>What now?

Apologies on going dark for a bit, got pulled into haying season which is eating into time and energy, gonna shift to a slow burn in thread until all that business is over
Well, we seem to have all the solid prep work done, ish. At this point, we just have to settle our own mind and get packing.

So, spend some time with side projects like taming that falcon, or target practice, or drinking, and get a suitcase ready.
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>Tatiana probably wanting to catch up on ranch happenings with Tatiana
I never knew we had two workers named Tatiana /kapa

At any rate, I would like to spend more time with Mari, but she's going to talk to Tatiana, I'm assuming, and it would be weird to go back into the bunkhouse after having just left it.

So, as it would be weird to go back into the bunkhouse we should go talk to the Nitor and Liama's men.

Daisy needs training, not timing.
We're pretty good at shooting as is, and ammo is expensive.
Mari's going to talk to Tatiana, and there's no reason to drink if we're not doing it with her, really.
Packing two days early is a bit much, in my opinion.
taming, training, tomayto tomahto.
There actually is a large difference. Either way, I like how we work as essentially the opposite personalities, whereas I seem to be acting like the Draconic part of our Sasha, you seem to be acting as the societal conscience.
I have little idea what is going on!
And that's fine for now. If you have questions, we can answer them. Until then, read the archive while we wait for Chem to post updates.
yep. Though, I might not get through them so fast.
Mostly I have old memories of lamia daughter, and the first couple chapters.
This is almost entirely unrelated. I started reading Lamia daughter quest after finding the original post on 1d4chan and read it fast enough to be able to actually post in the last thread. Then I saw that Chem was doing a quest too and started looking for it. I ended up being the only real regular until you came here.
well, I hope we get more. All my active quests died or are on infinite hiatus.
Well, time to start making preparations. We have put a lot of miles under the wheels of our carts without axle or wheel trouble, so best to double check on those. Also, what sorts of trade goods seemed to be in demand in Centaur lands?
That's what we're going to find out. Though there's a war, so sharpening stones, weapons, armour, guns if we can get them to use them, ammo, gun oil, food stuffs, things like that.
It should also be noted that we're probably going on foot. (not enough wagons to move all of the men that we're taking.)
You flirt with the idea of packing, but having arrived home so soon most of your clean stuff is already packed. With the freed up time, you make for the edge of the compound, near the trail in where the Nitor and Liama's shadows are talking. Seeing you approach, they turn to face you. "Something we can do for you Miss?" One of the shadows, Liz, says.

"Just curious as to the goings on, Captain Keel still got you guys watching us?" You say, turning to face the two Corporals.

Nelson shrugs, "He's stressed the importance of this duty."

"Plus it beats the stuffing out of sitting on the Riverport Cordon listening to folks come to us with stuff they should be taking to their sheriff." Corporal Red opines.

"That bad?" You ask.

"Not really," he admits, "Just folks see us as the Law in the cities when we really aren't. Depending on the sheriff they can get sniffy over jurisdictional claims. Rather let the officers handle all that business."

"I just figured since the other Phoenix folk we pulled out of the cove left you'd be keeping an eye on them."

"They're fine, last I heard, we've got a camp up in the Landing and are looking for relatives in the mainland to take them in, would just get them set up in Riverport, but if they turned out to be important we don't want them gettin' vanished by the Kingfisher folks."

"Are you're worried they might go after Zhou and his as well?"

"With the little private army you got here? Not likely, but we keep an eye out just the same." Seeing your frown, Corporal Red continues, "Well I mean, what with what your warband leader just did and all."

"What stunt?"

Eli, another of the shadows speaks up. "Liama asked Zhou what he was doing with those staves a bit ago. Apparently they've made a mock up of the guns you bought from the Nitor, balanced the same and everything. Zhou's been working out how to best use them for up close work."

"Yeah, close combat drills and all that." Red says, "Makes sense, muzzleloaders ain't much of fire rate. You didn't know?"

"I've mostly let them do their own thing. I just figured it was sparring. I knew they were prolly mercenaries before the Phoenix got a hold of them, why'd they need to drill if they've got the skills already?"

"Other than practice?" Liz asks, "Liama said that Zhou wants to make sure what skills of theirs work with the things they have, tailoring it to work best."

"Zhou is developing a fighting style exclusively for the outdated secondhand firearms I bought as a stopgap so they'd not have to run around with pitchforks if the Phoenix attacked?"

Eli nods, "Seems to be the case, yeah. Though I wouldn't discount the pitchforks, those things can be nasty."

Shaking your head, you head back towards the main compound after bidding the group good day.

>What now?
From your cursory trip into Bralin and the Kozak tent city of Ursus you made a few discoveries on the trade front. Silks, Jewelry, Vodka, and metalworking are the main trading commodities that aren't foodstuffs in Casimiran lands. You did, however, discover that cattle are not native to the region, so they've never had beef.
Do we remember what Tatiana and Artyom's first reactions to eating beef was?
Appreciative, nothing extreme but they found it agreeable.
We would only be getting in the way of Zhou and his men if we went to catch up with them now.
We've already talked to Tatiana and Artyom.
We've already talked to Veles.
We've checked in with our Nitor aid.
All we have left is to get to work, really.
Unless we're going to go talk to Tai. I suppose we could help with dinner.
We could also go check on the Inn/Depot's construction.
>what now
Consider sharpening pitchforks. They -are- nasty.
That's not very reasonable. The rifles with bayonets are more useful and are longer.
yeah, but we've got a lot of pitchforks.
We probably only have one or two. You don't need that many pitchforks when you're a rancher.
I am too tired to come up with a continuation on the joke.
I may be asleep soon.
Hrm... Perhaps we had ought to work out foodstuff prices, see if beef could compete. We might end up with a tidy trade off quality finished goods rather than Carlee in the near future.
With that in mind, you head inside for the day, both to help Tai prep for dinner and to plan out the rest of the trip as best you can. Inside you can see Tai's already got plenty of helpers, as the culinary students from before have opted to latch onto him for dinner. Not wanting to get in the way of the obviously busy cook, you head upstairs and begin to try and think ahead for any problems the trip may encounter. Idly, you wonder if it'd be profitable to drive some cattle to the Casimiran lands in the future, and then flip the goods they bartered for it on the UFK markets. You'd probably need someone with their finger on the mercantile pulse for that, Serrak comes to mind. That's a problem for later, right now it seems your biggest problem is this expedition team itself.

With Liama and her shadows going plus Veles, Artyom, and yourself that's eight people already. The remaining four, if you chose to bring twelve, could be pulled from Zhou's scouts, but there's always the language barrier. Of the confirmed participants, you only know of Liama who speaks their tongue. Zhou's grasp on your language is acceptable but only in terse exchanges. Not to mention you'd have the prisoner in tow as well, so you've no idea how that factors in to the Casimiran's multiples of four tradition. You can always pull Tai since he's been acting as main interpreter, but he's not really a combatant and has probably had enough excitement for a few months. You could, in theory, have Zhou's scouts continue to operate as they have been, and just shadow your group of eight to Bralin. That'd have the advantage of having some runners on hand as soon as you get there, but if you run into trouble after there may be problems.

There is also the matter of the ranch. If you took a group of four beastfolk and had the scouts act as usual, you'd have McCain, the two nitor boys, and five beastfolk left to keep an eye on the ranch and the civilians. You smirk slightly to yourself when you remember one of those civilians did almost decapitate a phoenix soldier with that flying dive bomb she did. Marie's prowess aside, there's also Serrak's men to account for. You're sure the orc wouldn't blame you if the Phoenix tried to mount an assault on the construction site, but more setbacks are just what you don't need.

>Who do you want to bring with you?
The scouts will act as normal. We will take none of them. (I wanted to come back to the ranch and have a messenger go from there.) We should be fine with our 8 men. 4 have done less with more against them. As to the confusion on numbers, we can ask Tatiana or Artyom about it.

We also need to have a drink with Mari before we leave. I want to take her too, but she deserves a rest from all of this bullshit.
Not wanting to hazard any complications on this side of the mountain, you opt to stick with just your group of eight, and have the scouts act as normal. You figure, between the Liama and her crew and yourself you've got enough firepower to handle most anything that the Casimiran can send your way. If not, between you've got enough literal firepower from both yourself and Veles. That finalized, you go through a few more last minute touches before you hear the clarion call of McCain sounding the dinner bell.

Hurrying downstairs, there's one more bit of business to take care of. Singling Marie out in the line, you wait for her to get her food before gesturing for her to sit by you. Mystified, the harpy complies, pulling up a chair. "Worked out the itinerary for the next expedition. Way it shook out has you staying behind. Sorry, I hope that's okay." You say, keeping your voice low.

She has a puzzled frown for a bit before she remembers the old conversation. "Oh, don't worry about it Miss Masterson. After riverport I'm looking forward to just gliding in a circle over some cattle for a few months. There will be other times. I'm sure of it."

"Oh, okay good, because I didn't want to ruffle any feat- err, step on any toes or, well you know what I mean."

She laughs, "Like I said, don't worry about it. Adventure is all well and good, but right now a week of sleep seems much more appetizing."

You dig in to the latest stew whipped up by Tai and his helpers, it seems the spice issue was resolved, but you bet that is more Tai's doing anything. You're a bit disappointed the fancy food he cooked when he first got here has fallen in favor of stews as the main dish, but each are varied enough in taste and there's enough sides that you really can't blame the man for lightening his workload in the face of so many mouths to feed. Stomach suitably full, you bid the rest of the crew goodnight, and crawl up into bed.

The next morning finds you waking up well after the sun has cleared the horizon. Slithering downstairs you can see the plate of food and cup of coffee Tai's left you sitting on the stove. Grumbling about undetected sleep deprivation, you wonder how you're gonna spend the next couple days, given that there's not much to do on the expedition side of things except wait for McCain to get the supplies.

>What do?
Well, we could always spend some time helping out around the ranch, or shoring up what defenses we can on our properties.
Then again, there's not much you can do to cover a whole cattle range. Do we at least have any buildings on our ranch that can withstand gunfire for our civilians to get into in case of phoenix empire attack? Preferably one they can't burn?
We have a barn, we have the main house, and we have a bunk-house. None of these are made of stone, so no, we have nothing that anyone who is too much of a coward to fight for their life can hide that isn't the forest behind us.
Beyond that, we can easily construct earthworks to defend the main house and another set to defend the bridge.
Let's ask Tatiana or Artyom about the prisoner transportation issue.
We'll pick up here next time, It started raining like mad and I'm absolutely whipped after the surprise haying season. I'll try and get a new thread up in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading and I hope you guys enjoyed it so far. I'll be about to answer questions and all that, but the connection is spotty. Thanks again folks.
Thanks for running, Chem! See you eventually.
Yep. See you next time, I think.

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