[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Settings   Home
/qst/ - Quests

File: EVQOP2.png (1.43 MB, 757x1397)
1.43 MB
1.43 MB PNG
The stench is pervasive. A rotting, fishy miasma that oppresses your every thought with its unrelenting presence, despite having no tenable origin.

The pale-green, nacreous sky is pervasive. Its sickly color stains everything in sight and stretches endlessly, dulling the horizon’s edge.

The cold is pervasive. It infects your blood, sending its biting sting deep within your body and clings to you with each amorphous, discolored snowflake.


You’ve spent the last few days in this fishing town on the eastern terminus of the poorly defined Velika Wilds. Its imposing and utilitarian buildings stand like ash-soaked candles of varied height. The older the building, the more closely it melts into the ground, sloughing off soiled snowdrifts as tallow. On the shapeless paved paths between these figures lie thick veins of ice tinged with subtle hues of blue and green.

The winter months assault this land far more fiercely than most others and stand in stark contrast to the mild cool that winter brings Pora Elinu and even the winter found in Velika. A potent mixture of sea-borne winds and exposed terrain leaves the town of Impel constantly at the mercy of impetuous sleet.

Each step you take runs the risk of slipping into the network of slick vessels underfoot. Yet, you must move with the same vague urgency that as all other cloaked figures or chance attracting unwanted attention to yourself.

Every exposed part of your flesh certainly agrees with this hurried approach, but eyes made bleary from the windy chill results in a singularly unpleasant balancing act.

Despite your efforts, you sense eyes linger upon your form longer than they should.

Your investigation into disappearances of Elin within the massive city of Velika is what brought you here. Strange and unmistakable threads connect the two places via similar occurrences of unique body mutilation. Locals from a village further south found a corpse washed ashore with a mismatched head and torso yet connected much like two heat-fused pieces of glass. While only a rumor, consistent details about how the two body parts melded seamlessly into one another appear again and again. The waters here have a current that flows from north to south, and the position of the town leaves this place as the most likely origin of the body.

This is paired with the increasing disappearances of Elin with only an odd body part to be found or similarly disassembled corpses of humans only rarely heard mentioned. The cases regarding Elin are certainly no secret, with idle chatter facetiously attributing it to nighttime encounters or attempted crimes gone deservedly wrong. However, the city guard is making significant effort to conceal the cases regarding humans, as to “not cause a panic.” Despite it being the locus for the crimes against your kind, making investigative headway there has proven frustratingly fruitless there.

These occurrences are far removed from the concerns of the locals in Impel. The brutal winter has made traversing the coastline a much more hazardous endeavor. Those fishing vessels brave enough to venture onto those waters, and lucky enough to return are reporting inexplicably diminished catches, even for this rough sea. Many bloated corpses of malformed fish have washed ashore as well, with blackened eyes and distorted bodies covered in buboes. Rumor goes that they will make you terribly ill if you attempt to eat them.

But, oblivious to the local’s daily concerns, the kitchens of the prosperous capital voraciously demand the indigenous seafood and can easily outspend any local for any clean catch. Traffic on the rough path between here and the capital takes most of the haul away and brings back very little.


A terrible circumstance most keenly felt by the poor majority of humans and devan laborers in this town. But, hopes for relief come via whispers of a Sanctuary.

With the goal of finding the origin and truth behind the mismatched corpse and investigate more about this Sanctuary, you plod ahead into the bowels of this numbing cold land.

Your companions should be joining you soon, so…here’s hoping they can handle this winter.


(Previous Thread)


(Character sheets)

(Combat Rules)
File: Seo1.png (336 KB, 720x720)
336 KB
336 KB PNG


“Mmmmmm! It’s so tasty!” Your companion squirms in delight at the final course of dessert for this extensive meal. She pulls the plate close to her and kicks up her feet on table. “You really know how to treat a girl, Luca!”

The painstaking craft of the dessert almost makes it a shame to eat, yet she does with as much hesitation as drinking a cup of water.

You place your hand over your eyes. “Yeah? And who exactly said that I was treating you? If anything, you should be the one cover this meal.”

She waves you off dismissively. “It’s not about that. Despite the cost of this being nothing to me, that’s not how this exchange goes.” She points at you with her small dessert fork. “You give me the feeling of being treated out by a good-looking man, let me partake in this multi-course meal in your company, and then you’re free to ask me for whatever favor you really brought me out here for.” She flashes you a refined, but devious smile. “Isn’t that right, Luca?”

Nobles are such a pain in the ass…

You let out an exasperated sigh. “This exchange takes two, you know. Mentioning it outright ruins the game, and not to mention…” You make it obvious that you’re eying her clothing. “I’d prefer girls to actually wear a dress, as this custom would dictate after all. Isn’t that right, Seo?”

You eye her overall rough exterior of tight-fitting clothes more suited for a thief than a noble girl. Her dark hair messily tied up as if it's something that needs to be restrained, leaves her vibrant eyes unconcealed. Despite this, she carries herself with an unmistakable air of refinement. She'd be quite the catch if she acted more like a lady...

She snorts derisively. “Well, that’s certainly not going to happen, so get on with whatever you want to ask of me.” She instinctively motions for one of the servers to top off her tea.

You shake your head as you grab the teapot kept within arm’s reach and motion for her cup. “The whole city of Velika isn’t your chateau, Seo.” You finish and brusquely place the teapot back down. “I thought would the number of “adventures” you partake in you would know such a fact.”

She seems amused at your retort and motions for you to continue.

“I was hoping that you would have interest in going on an actual mission with me, instead of those outings you go on with a retinue of your father’s trained fighters and servants doing most of the work.” You reach into your nearby satchel and pull out a map of the eastern continent. You flatten it onto the table and point to your target. “Impel, a coastal fishing town several days hard ride northeast.”

“Hmm?” She makes a bemused noise. “I’m not sure which lord holds dominion over the wilds. It doesn’t matter…Pray tell Luca, why would you ever want to go there?”

You shake your head. “The location is not of my choosing, but rather the choice of who would be our leader for this mission. She needs assistance in investigating the area-”

"Oh?" She cuts you off with intrigue in her voice. "Now this might be interesting, if nothing else to see this woman that can lead you around by the nose."

You take a long drink from your own cup before continuing. "Listen you. No one is leading anyone by the nose here. I'm...duty bound to fulfill my grandfather's promise. Elewyn is her name, and she apparently saved my grandfather's life when he was around my age."

Her face has clearly loss interest. "Oh, helping some elderly woman...Well, continue." She turns her focus back toward her mostly eaten dessert.

You laugh to yourself. She may be old, but based off what your grandfather told you about Elin, she is by no means elderly. That said, you don't ever recall hearing how Seo felt about non-humans. Most nobles have an outward hostility to them, but Seo is certainly not like most nobles.

>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.

>Leave that fact hidden for now.

>Write in.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the second arc of Elin Veteran Quest.

If you're new here, and are interested in reading the events preceding this thread, please find the links to the archives up above.

Regardless of how long you've been around, I'm more than willing to answer any questions that you may have about the story, setting, quest mechanics, etc.

With that, I'm looking forward to working with you all!
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>>>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>But leave out that she's an Elin

Glad to see this again!
>Don't hide your grin. Egg her on the "elderly" part, but let her figure it out herself.
Wonder if they're being eavesdropped on
Glad to be writing this again!

Alright, let's see what we have:


>Explaining that Elewyn isn't a human along with:

>For the moment leaving out that she is a Elin, and egging her on about the elderly notion.


Revealing the truth is for the best, but you’ll have to test the waters first. It’s certainly how she would approach it if she were in your position.

You don’t even bother hiding your grin and lean back in your seat. “Elderly? You’ve been spending too much time around your fellow nobles that your perspective is tinged blue and gray.”

Seo stops with her fork in the middle of the air. “Oh? Gray and blue you say? Blue is a general slight toward me, but gray…”

She pauses for a while in thought. “Hmph, either you lied about this leader of yours being old or you’re deceiving me now.”

You cock an eyebrow up. “Oh? Resorting to calling me a liar must mean that you’re lacking in imagination. Can’t buy that I suppose.”

It’s good to piss her off a little bit to egg her on. Since hardly anyone else will talk back to her, it not only keeps her grounded, but also engaged. Let her figure out what you’re trying to tell her on her own.

She stuffs the last piece of her dessert in her mouth before slamming her plate back down on the table. “Alright, smart ass… You’re never this smug when you lie, let me bother to use an iota of my brain to figure out your little secret. This Elewyn, not elderly, but was still old enough to save your ancient grandfather when he was a boy like you…” Her eyes finally light up. “Sounds inhuman…I wasn’t aware that you fancied such things.”

“If you didn’t use up so much of your brain fantasizing about such depraved scenarios, then perhaps you’d have more than an iota to use for everything else.” You finish off your tea and lightly return the cup to the table. “But you’re correct about her not being human. Well done.”

She played her part just as you imagined.

With a smug grin, Seo does a half-hearted mock bow. “Thank you for the dance.”

It’s all a game after all.

She motions for yet another plate of a different dessert, which unfortunately the server acknowledges. “But you still haven’t told me everything. If this leader of yours isn’t a human then what exactly is she, and why are you really choosing to go on this mission? Don’t expect me to believe that it’s purely because of duty.”

This one can be annoyingly astute at times. She’s right about it being partly due to your duty to the old man. There’s always the issue of him being your financier. But…you couldn’t pass on the opportunity to finally see magic in person. You can hold out on revealing that Elewyn is an Elin by dangling that motivation in front of her. Forcing her to take her time to-

She effortlessly snaps her fingers quite loudly and suddenly. “Oh! You’re chasing after magic again, aren’t you?”

Damn it all.
File: S1.png (494 KB, 1000x1000)
494 KB
494 KB PNG

She sighs and shakes her head. “It’s a charming quirk, Luca, but don’t you think it’s time to grow out of that, and attend to your noblesse oblige? You could do well for yourself, a handsome lad can easily marry above his station.”

Your hand finds its way to your forehead. “There are several things to pick apart there, so I’ll spare the clever retorts for now. It’s not a quirk, I’m hardly a noble, and you’re one to talk. Last gossip I heard about you hinted that you’re a candidate for the prince himself.”

Seo makes a disgusted expression. “Spare me.” Her expression lightens as she receives her dessert, and she leans in close to avoid being overheard. “No candidate will ever outcompete a well-polished mirror if you ask me.” She leans back and smiles at you before starting on her second dessert.

You eye the new dessert to perhaps gauge its cost, but are stricken by its unusual composition. A crimson red edible flower perfectly suspended in a chilled dome of semi translucent pudding. Sugar crystals floating in the membrane give the impression of falling snow.

Seo's spoon pierces into the dessert structure bleeding the flower's juice into the surroundings. “Well, I suppose we’re both shirking our noble duties yet again.” She looks back to the map on the table. “So let us do so wholeheartedly as we ought to... Impel huh?” She traces the path with her slender finger. “How long would we be there and what exactly would we be doing?”

You shrug a shoulder. “How long depends on how smoothly her investigation goes. It sounded like we should expect to be there for a few days at least. For what…The old man told me that I would be protecting her and assisting her with whatever she desires.” You mumble out the last few words.

“Oh? Whatever she desires? How far are you willing to go for your desperate search for magic?” A devious look flashes on her face but is poorly maintained due to your stoic response. “Oh fine…But protect huh? Coming from your grandfather, that means we should expect actual danger.” She begins to smile excitedly.

“That could mean a million things, knowing him. He said very little on this matter, but he did say to pack warm.” You tap your finger on the eastern sea depicted on the map. “The winters there must be harsher because of the proximity to the sea.”

“Oh, I usually venture south for winter holidays, but embracing the cold certainly has its charm too.” Seo casually turns her attention to finishing her second dessert. “I’m romanticizing as much as I can in case this backwater proves as dull as it sounds. But, if nothing else a winter rendezvous with the Yinefall heir will make for a juicy story at the spring banquets.” She gulps down the last piece. “I’ll go with you.” She extends her hand.

Now if only she could have said yes without this whole song and dance.

You shake your head and her hand. “Appreciated, Seo.”

You try to pull your arm away, but she keeps you in her grasp. Her forceful gaze meets your own. “You know, Luca. Even if the stories about the ancient heroes and monsters were true, they’re not around anymore. What good comes from trying to chase after something that’s not here anymore?”

Ah, she's attempting to be delicate about that subject again... She's always attributed your parents' interest in magic to your own. More so, she thinks a means to stay connected to something "that's not here anymore..." Regardless, you have no interest in discussing that further.

>Divert the topic.

>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.

>Write in.
>Ask me after you see it for yourself. The world might be a bigger place than us nobles could ever imagine.
>>>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.
>Divert the topic.
So, has Elewyn been going by the same name for her whole existence, I wonder?
Heyo everyone, I hope all of you are having a relaxing Sunday wherever you are. I'm quite fan of a lazy Sunday given how the rest of my week typically goes.

Good question. For now I will answer that she goes by Elewyn most of the time.

Telling her to widen her perspective and she may someday have her answer.


You meet her gaze. “Why don’t you hold onto that question until after we see for ourselves. This world is a bigger place than the circles we’re kept to.”

Her grip loosens, allowing you to free yourself. “A parried response is an unsatisfying, but as you wish, Luca. It seems like I’m not the only one romanticizing this trip.” She shrugs and raises her hands. “I suppose we could entertain ourselves with traditional winter activities, if it does prove to be dull.”

It never mattered to you what she thought about your pursuit. This will at least get her off your back. For now, you notice the manager of the establishment approaching the two of you, which you signal to Seo.

“Damn it.” She whispers quietly.

The manager gives a deep bow before speaking toward Seo only. “Lady Shulein! We’re honored to have you dine in our salon. Was everything to your liking?”

“Thank you.” She responds curtly. “Everything was lovely. My credit to the chef for seabass, and to the patisserie for the desserts.” She gathers her coat and motions that she intends to leave soon.

“O-only the best here!” The manager hastens his words. “That particular fish was difficult to secure but here at-“

“Well done securing it then.” Seo motions to herself and you. “We appreciated the dish.”

“Ah.” The manager gives you a decent bow. “We’re glad for you to join us as well, Master…”

“Yinefall.” Seo quickly responds, still trying to leave.

“Y-Yinefall.” The manager repeats, subtly disappointed.

You impatiently wave him off. “I don’t blame you for not knowing it.” You continue despite his attempts to apologize for the slight and point at the last plate that Seo cleared. “This dessert with the translucent cream and the flower was quite peculiar. Your patisserie came up with it?”

This certainly isn’t the subject the manager was working toward, but he tensely obliges. “That dish…Yes, now I recall. It seems that was a creation of the previous owners. One of the very few items worth keeping-“

Seo cuts him off. “The previous owner came up with that dessert? Well, I split my previous credit toward them too.”

The manager shakes his head fervently. “They may have created the item, but we refined it to be worth serving. Note the delicate garnishes on the side. It’s not only the dessert, but this whole establishment! Thanks to the Citizen Privilege Act we were able to finally acquire this place from the non-humans and transform it to the status suitable for those of your stratum. Ah, my deepest appreciation to your father for spearheading the act.” He bows to Seo once again.

“Hmm, I seem to remember him droning on about it at dinner.” She shrugs clearly not interested in the act itself. “But that was passed quite recently, wasn’t it? You must’ve had your eye on this place to pounce in so suddenly.”

You snort a quiet laugh to yourself. He’s poorly equipped to deal with her barbs.

His skin grows increasingly flush. “W-w-we identified the potential of this area quite some time ago, yes. In fact, for years we made generous offerings, but they weren’t interested in the coin, nor were they ever going to age out of the business any time soon.”

Seo’s eyes light up for the first time since the manager approached. “Oh? What sorts of non-humans were you dealing with that weren’t going to age out any time soon?” She flashes a devious grin toward you.

The manager rubs his sweaty forehead. “I uh…Think they were Elin or something of the manner. I’ve certainly never been one to associate with non-humans so I can’t say confidently.”

Damn. Quicker than you expected but forcing her to deduce the answer like this only serves to make her more intrigued. The next favor you need from her should be easier to leverage…

“Oh, I see...” Her grin twists into a self-satisfied smile. “Well, thank you for answering our questions. We’ll be going now, so Luca here will take care of the charges.” She heads for the exit.

“L-Lady Shulein, if you would be so kind to send our regards to your father and-“ The manager calls out feebly.

“Yes, yes.” She waves him off without even bothering to turn around. “I’ll let him know about the seabass.”

You grab your own coat and quickly fill out the bill of exchange, which you slip into the manager’s front pocket. “Cheer up. I’d say that was the best exchange you could have hoped for with her.”

You slip on your long coat and head out into the brisk afternoon air.
File: Vel3.jpg (119 KB, 1201x667)
119 KB
119 KB JPG

Other than the chilled wind, winter has made itself known here with the distinct trails of fogged air that rise out of high smokestacks and can be seen filtering out the mouths and noses of the city folk. Your gaze lingers on a group of lively children attempting to outdo each other with fogged breath. All these small individual clouds rise together to form shapeless mists that can envelop entire districts. When you were a young boy, you recall your mother telling you they were dragon breath when you asked about them…

You nearly stumble on a sleeping dirty figure on the ground as you turn to look ahead. A young vagrant man curled into a tight ball with scattering of cloths underneath him as he lies half in an alleyway and half out. A worn and unfamiliar helmet seems to be his only other possession. He slowly rouses and looks up at you with a gaunt and incredibly weary face.

You’re surprised that he chose to linger in this part of the market district. Part of you suspects that he’s not from Velika, otherwise he’d know that the city guard will be more than forceful to remove him from here.

You feel a handful of silver coin in your coat pocket. All of your purchases in the city are done via bills of exchange, so who knows how long they’ve been in there.

Seo impatiently turns back to see what’s causing you delay and stares intrigued at the situation you find yourself in currently and how you will act.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.

>Write in.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
I wouldn't want to rely on pocket change to fund whatever mission we're about to get up to, and bills means that bribes aren't gonna be too common.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
A couple of young noble scions, at least one of whose family helped pass acts to kick out successful Elin business ventures. Well, if you want change, start with the young ones, I guess.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
Heyo everyone, I hope the start to everyone's week is going well. Looking ahead, I will be enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, so I might not have an update on Thursday, but that's still on the fence depending on how I feel then.

For now:
No qualms about the alms.

Whoops, forgot this restarted this weekend. Glad to have you back, GM !
Glad to be back! We're still early on in this chapter, so I'm very excited to develop the story with all of you
Finally back home from work. I estimate that the update will go up around the same time as yesterday.

>Still writing!

Given his rough shape, the advice alone will only do so much. Strange and mixed feelings course through your mind as you grasp at the coins. Part of you wants to help him, thinking on what could potentially be his fate if you don’t. Another part of you wants him far removed from your haunts, and a few coins is a simple way to smooth the process. The thoughts are at odd with one another and are incapable of combining in any satisfying way. You finally fish out the coins from your coat pocket just as he’s about to turn back to lying on the ground. His dull eyes brighten slightly in surprise as you lean over to hand him the coins.

“Here.” You firmly place the coin in the vagabond’s weak grasp. “But you shouldn’t linger around this district. The guards have violently made an example of many in the past, and as you can see, no one else is chancing getting caught.”

He looks around at the surrounding streets as if for the first time before blankly looking back to you. After processing your words anger forms on his face. “Ahh. I just fuckin’ got here.” Suddenly he springs to his feet mumbling a string of vitriol under his breath, of which you only catch a few. “Goddamn…lost my guard job because of some little witch. Now I run around here and have to freeze my dick off…”

While still rambling, he gathers his rags, then his helmet, and stomps away without hardly acknowledging you.

“You’re welcome.” You close your hand and sigh as you watch him head off down the alley.

Little witch? Best not try to dissect what could be nothing more than nonsense. There’s still the matter of recruiting the final member for this mission, which would be much easier if Seo wasn’t needed as well. There isn’t anyone you know better suited for what Elewyn requested, but nobles can be quite obstinate when it comes to their feuds.

“You have a strange taste for entertainment, Luca.” Seo laughs as she calls out to you.

“Well, I don’t pay for my interactions unlike some people.” You button your coat as you catch up to her.
File: Vel5.jpg (1.19 MB, 1920x2964)
1.19 MB
1.19 MB JPG

“Oh? What about that meal you just paid for?” She points at you and grins as both head off down the street. “Everything costs, Luca. Never forget that. But the things you choose to buy are so amusing to me.” She customarily sticks out her elbow. “The things that don’t cost you much more than a few coins, the things that cost you far more, and everything in between. Amusing.”

“Now who has a strange taste for entertainment?” You cheekily return the smile and link your arm around hers. You lead her off toward the next destination.

The two of you stroll quietly from the commercial district toward the aristocratic residences.

You still contemplate the best approach to getting her to cooperate with the final companion. You deduce that it would be best if she were the one to puzzle it together rather than you simply revealing it to her. She's more suggestible when she believes she's outsmarted you. However, it's best not to overdo it. As imperceptibly as you can, you slow your gait.

After some more time, she notices and sighs. “By the difference in your usual pace, I take it that you’re not escorting me straight home, are you?” Seo asks without looking away from the path ahead of her. “It’s slower, so you’re hesitant.”

“Could you please apply that insight to something else other than scrutinizing my every action.” You make sure to keep your eyes fixed ahead of you as well. “Even if I were walking slower, there’s so many unintentional factors that could have contributed to that.”

The guards at the entrance of the noble district bow deeply as the two of you proceed through the gates. As usual, they do so a good bit deeper than when you’re alone.

The white stone gatehouse gives way to the usual view the noble estates near this entrance. The comparatively humbler buildings still rise high above the street, immaculately polished and ornately crafted. Even the expertly laid road beneath the footfalls and coaches is spotless and well kept. The noise and dirt of the rest of the world never seems to find its way within here to mix and stain. It only gets more ostentatious the further within the district you travel.
File: ast1.jpg (121 KB, 657x1000)
121 KB
121 KB JPG

Once you’re clear of the guards she resumes her deduction. “Yet, we’re still headed here, so that means…” She glares at you now. “Who is it that’s coming with us?”

As soon as she finds out, she likely to yell your ear off, and the destination is still much further down the path.

You don’t have time to address her question before the two of you spot a slender figure gracefully walking toward you and Seo. Adorned in the custom-tailored maid uniform of the Shulein household, a young woman carries the dress with all the elegance that could ever be demanded of her and more. The wide billows paired the with tightly form-fitting key areas synthesize to give an always refreshing air of femininity.

At least you think so, especially juxtaposed with her lady.

“My lady.” She bows seamlessly even with her wide dress. She turns toward your direction but keeps her glance fixed on the ground. “M-m-master Yinefall.” She bows just as low as before.

“Astrid.” Seo responds flatly crossing her arms. “Did father send you?”

“Lord Shulein only requested that I check on you, my lady.” Astrid gives another long bow. "Of course, I was happy to have the opportunity to see you."

"It's good to see you, Astrid." You walk closer to as she always has the habit of talking quietly and toward the ground when addressing you for some strange reason.

Other than that habit of hers, she's perfectly courteous. The only explanation you've managed to come up with is that she always dutifully chooses to show more respect to her lady.

"Ah. Yes! I mean, thank you!" She gives several quick bows. "No, I mean, will you be joining us for dinner again, Master Y-Yinefall? I could prepare any dish you'd like. If you'd like me to." She waves the idea away with her hand. "No, I mean, if you'd like to. Wait! It's good to see you again too..." She hangs her head low.

Seo moves to join the two of you and starts to push Astrid away. "We just ate so you can save it."

"T-then shall I accompany you?" Astrid gracefully spins out of the way and returns to her spot a few feet in front of you. "If M-Master Yinefall doesn't mind, of course."

Seo crosses her arms and glares at you while she observes your response.

You've always quite enjoyed Astrid's company, as limited as your time has been with her. Seo is always finding a reason to send her off, so you've rarely had the chance to talk. Her antagonism toward her maid has always perplexed you, as Astrid is remarkably well suited to her position. That's not even mentioning how well the dress suits her. Damn, you wish you had her as a maid.

All that considered, it still might not be a good idea to anger Seo. Taking her to the noble household the Shulein family has quarreled with for generations will do that just fine. Still...damn you wish you had a maid.

>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.

>Write in.
>>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
Wonder how many more ladies Luca's got

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
possibly better for Seo to not look like they're sneaking to her family's enemy.
>>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
Quests are like tasks given to people and are not forced.
Heyo everyone, it's a busy one here, but I hope all your days are going well!

It seems that we're currently at a tie, but I'm not going to be able to start writing for at least a couple hours, so I'll keep the vote open in the meantime. The vote will go to a roll if it stays tied.

Sorry, but I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Breaking the tie with a roll:

"Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?" = 1
"Allow Astrid to accompany you." = 2

Rolling 1d2

>Writing the result
I'm back home, but I've also been feeling rather beat these days. I'm going to take a nap then get to writing. I'll nap only few hours, so I think I'll be able to get the update out around the same time as the past few days.
And...I knocked out.

Very sorry that I didn't get the update posted earlier. I'll be working it on it before I head off for work, and I will do my best to have it posted in about an hour and a half, since it's shaping up to be a longer than average update.

Thinking purely and perfectly logical, it makes sense to bring Astrid along. If Seo were to be seen speaking with a member of the Halion family, it will surely send rumors flying. But with a conspicuous servant accompanying her, a more business-like excuse could be reasoned. You wonder if you'll get that far...

You lean forward to catch her eyes, and for a moment glace at her serene brown eyes, that are almost at odds with her body language. “We would be very glad to have you accompany us. It’s been far too long since we’ve last spoken, so let’s take the opportunity to chat.”

Alright, now you only need to continue to spin this situation in your favor. Seo may be upset with you for bringing Astrid along, but…it might serve to distract her from immediately realizing where you’re going. It’s better that she deduces the answer when you’re closer to your destination.

You straighten out and turn back to look at the daggers that were digging into the back of your head. “Hope you don’t mind.” You motion for all three of you to continue down the main path of the noble’s district.

With Astrid in the middle, the three of you continue along the main path of the district. Despite the tension, you’re still able to enjoy the stroll with Astrid so close by.

Once more pleasantries have been exchanged between you and Astrid, you try to steer the conversation away from the obvious question. “Are you not cold only wearing your uniform, Astrid? I could lend you my coat, if you’d like.”

Astrid smiles slightly and pauses before she responds. “I-it would be f-far too great a privilege for me, so I must insist that you keep yourself warm, M-Master Yinefall. My uniform a-and the warm pride I feel when representing the Shulein household are more than enough for any winter.”

“Admirable. I’ll keep the offer open for when you’re not in uniform.” You pat the chest of your coat.

Keep this little performance going.

Seo scoffs instantly. “Is this how idiots keep warm in the winter? With platitudes of hot air?” She crosses her arms. “Maybe the common folk can learn a thing from you two about how to better endure the winter."

Astrid remains fixed in place for a few moments of heavier silence. “Not quite, my lady. Exchanging words like this with you two serves to brighten my winter. That paired with the honor to serve your family is how I as a common folk learned to survive the dark and cold. It's also how I learned to avoid the true gnawing sting of winter.” She turns to Seo. “I’m very thankful to you and your father, my lady.”

“You didn’t have to mention that, but I suppose that I should have chosen my words better…” Seo waves the topic away with one quick flick of her hand. “Never mind that. Since you’re here it means that father deigned to think about me… Did he go out on another meeting to discuss ridiculous betrothals?”

There is only one family that Lord Shulein would be the one traveling to meet the other party. The royal family.

“You certainly are his daughter, my lady.” Astrid chuckles softly. “My lord departed shortly before I came to find you.”

“That’s three times this month. He’s planning something with the King, and it’s something he doesn’t feel a message would suffice for.” She turns a steely glance at you. “Plotters on all sides...”

She's definitely not one to talk.

“Not the King, my lady. My lord is meeting with the Prince at the royal estate.” Astrid firmly adds.

With a long stream of fogged breath, Seo blows a strand of hair of her face. “This only creates more questions. Typical of him to attempt to keep the future heir of his house in the dark about all of this.”

You keep an eye on the road ahead and see that you’re nearing your destination. “He wouldn’t go to the Prince himself to discuss your betrothal, so thinking about what circles they share may bear fruit. The Prince serves as the minister of defense while your father serves as the minister of infrastructure. Since your father has never been one for idle chatter, it’s likely that they’re meeting with regards to their roles as ministers.”

“Oh? Here I thought the only reason you were going to open your mouth was to pant over Astrid some more.” Seo sighs and idly rubs her chin. “But what you say has merit. If only I paid more attention to him when he rambled on, I might’ve been able to piece this together already.”

“My lord did have me retrieve documents he had on the sewer systems beneath Velika in preparation for his meeting, my lady.” Astrid chimes in again.

“The sewers? Surely he has deputies that take care of those monster infested filth holes.” Seo turns to her maid in with an expression of suspicion. “Why are you divulging this information?”

“Because you had wondered, my lady, and my lord didn’t request that I keep the information secret from you.” Astrid responds without any hesitation.

Seo frowns. “Then there are things that you keep secret from me.”

Astrid rests her hand on her chest and closes her eyes. “A maid has many responsibilities, my lady.”

You feel her eyes settle on you for only a moment before they turn away.
“Father is fortunate that I’m preoccupied at the moment.” Seo notices that you’ve branched off the terminus of the main path through the noble’s district. “To which I had thought we were meeting someone, but you brought us nearly home.”

You’ve managed to keep her preoccupied until this point, somehow. Now all that remains is for Seo to finally find the answer.

She stares down the diverging path leading toward the Halion manor. After a moment she shakes her head and scoffs. “You have to be joking.”

“What do you mean?” You avert your gaze down the same path for a fraction of a second before looking back to her.

Seo glares at you with mouth slightly agape. “Mishenne? Mishenne Halion?” She laughs quite hard before turning her attention back to you. “Are you an absolute fool? Why would you pick the two of us of all people?”

“The mission requires someone that can disarm traps and get around locks. Misha always liked to tinker with those sorts of things, and I don’t know anyone else that could fill that role…” You cross your arms. “You know he’s no good in a fight, and I wanted people I trust. That’s why I also need your help…”

The two of you pause for a moment as you detect a figure walking from the Halion residence. At first glance it appeared to be a young girl in royal guard uniform until you spotted the animal ears that rest on the top of her head. You’ve heard chatter about the Elin trainee for the Princess, but this is the first time you’ve seen her.

What was she doing at the Halion manor?

“H-hello!” She stops to give a polite bow as she passes by and then nervously walks away.

You give a quick nod, Seo only observes her, and Astrid gives a bow in return.

You and Seo exchange glances as you ponder why the Elin was there in first place.

She sighs and shakes her head. “Strange plots are going on here. Plots of which I’m quite interested in, yet you’re asking that I go with you and Mishenne Halion to a backwater fishing town?” She tosses up her hands and laughs. “You've managed to get me this far, but fair warning, my father would be livid if he knew this was happening, so I hope you’re willing to take responsibility...” She observes your face you a moment longer before speaking again. “Not a single word of this to my father, Astrid. Where is Mishenne, Luca?"

The time you had agreed to meet with him here is quickly passing. He may be running late, but it's quite unlike him to do so, unless he got tied up somehow.

>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.

>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.

>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.

>Write in.
>>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.
>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
If this priestess is one of the dark elin, both sides would be getting information.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
>>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
I think that's Aloé.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
No, that's Aloé.
How much time has passed since the raid on the slavers, months? Years?

okay I'm kidding, but does that mean the question is whether we want Aloe to be involved or not?
Heyo everyone, just a quick check in before I head out for work. It's great to see so many votes in already. We'll keep it open for a couple more hours and I'll be around to answer any questions in the meantime.

It has been approximately 3 months since the raid with the slavers.

Truthfully the involvement would be limited in scope, but that is still definitely a consideration.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
Honestly I’m kinda thinking that we don’t want her around this time. She’s doing good in her own way, and maybe we can get a better first impression of Elin from what Elewyn rather than Aloe
Quick tally so I can start chipping away at the update.

We'll stay put and wait for Misha where we originally planned.

Back home now, but I didn't get as much writing done at work because of how hectic it was to wrap things up before thanksgiving. I'll try to have the update up in a few hours!
File: vel6.png (846 KB, 1000x579)
846 KB
846 KB PNG

If you head into Halion court and Misha isn’t present within, then you’d run the risk of missing him here if he did show. Also, if he came by only to spot Seo without you there, you doubt he’d have the courage to even approach. Asking that Elin for information is another option, but she didn’t seem too inclined to speak to group of human nobles, not to mention she has her own sphere of concerns.

Best choice is to wait. The quickly setting sun filtering though misty winter air casts sheets of deep orange light over the regal buildings. Even with the chilled air, they give the district a warm glow you've enjoyed since you were a child.

You calmly glance around at the peaceful surroundings before turning back to Seo. “I know it’s not in your nature to be the one waiting, but we’ll have to do just that.” You place your hands in your coat pockets. “Anyway, I thought you didn’t pay any attention to your father’s anger.”

She places her hand on her chest. “The warning was for your sake, Luca. If he did something to cause you harm, I would make him regret it, but you’d still be left to deal with the consequences.”

Your interactions with her father are limited despite how long you’ve been friends with Seo. Stilted, cold, and straight to the point are how all conversations you’ve had with Lord Shulein have gone. But he was never cruel, and he also made a point to ask about your grandfather on every occasion.

On the other hand, even with the few times you’ve met him in person, his zealous disdain for the Halion family’s continued threats to his power are well known. His rumored plots to secure supremacy for the Shulein family are similarly well known. Despite all you’ve heard of him and his machinations, he’s never given you reason to be afraid of him, rather you’ve always had a measure of respect for his devotion to his family’s legacy, even with his troubled relationship with his only living family.

You rest a hand on her shoulder. “I’m thankful for your concern, Seo. However, my position on the fringes of nobility often make it more effort than it’s worth to pursue hostilities. Perhaps it’s me being too optimistic, but I don’t see this registering as one of your father’s concerns.”
File: mis1.jpg (212 KB, 1465x1044)
212 KB
212 KB JPG

She scoffs and steps away from your hand. “Everything that happens in this city is his concern, and here you are fawning over one of his pairs of eyes!” Seo motions at Astrid as she glares at you.

Now that’s a visual association you hope never sticks.

You move toward Seo as you speak. “I’m aware of her role, but we’re not plotting against your father. Astrid is here to serve you just as much as she serves you father, so stop seeing her as only an extension of your father.” You boldly return her glare as loom over her.

“To have my lady, and M-Master Yinefall know me so well.” Astrid cups her cheeks with her hands. “I’m grateful with all that I am. But…I believe that Master Halion has arrived to join us.”

You and Seo turn at the same moment to gaze at the small figure that managed to approach with only being noticed by Astrid.

With long hair even more disheveled than usual, Misha stands meekly with his eyeglasses broken in his hand, and a thin trail of blood leaking out from his lip. A swelling red cheek is paired with the open cut.

“H-Hey Luca. Sorry I’m late.” He sniffles with one eye reddened from a blow. “I uh, was just telling my dad that I was planning to be gone for a few days, and umm got held up-“

Misha is interrupted by Astrid dabbing away the crimson fluid from his chin and lip with her handkerchief. Once cleaned, she holds the cloth over the cut and brings Misha’s hand to hold it in place.

While Astrid attends to Misha, you and Seo exchange a glance indicating that you both know exactly what happened to Misha. Not that it would take much deduction.
No matter how well he treated his fellow nobles, the commoners, and even you, you've always detested the man for how he treats Misha.

He blushes as he squints at Astrid. “Um, thank you. Are you a new maid of Luca’s?”

“If only I could be so lucky, Master Halion.” She bows to Misha before smiling at Seo. ”Perhaps one day, my lady?”

Seo scoffs and Misha jumps back in fright dropping the handkerchief and glasses.

He turns toward Seo’s direction with his hands up as if to nervously block an attack. “Um, uh, uh!” He slinks to hid behind your frame and tugs hard on the back of your coat. “You never told me that she’d be coming.”

You pluck him off your back and set him down in front of Seo. It’s hard to believe sometimes that he’s the same age as the two of you.

You bend down to pick up what he dropped. “You never asked, Misha.” You place the objects back in his hands. “You were excited to go otherwise. Introduce yourself and let’s go talk it out somewhere, I don't want anyone around here thinking I did this to you.”

“Hello, Mishenne. You’re looking…………” Seo searches for the next words for a noticeably long time. “Lively this winter.”

Misha fidgets as he feebly tries to resist you holding him in place. "Umm hi, Seo. It's good to... see you again." He glares back at you. "Fine, we can talk, just let me go already, you ass!"

You relent and Misha returns to positioning your body between him and Seo. Now that the three of you are finally together, you can discuss the business of mission departure. But where to head?

>Stick to the noble district, there's a few close by salons to have a discussion.

>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

>Head to the guild hall. It's a good place to have a drink far removed from stuffy nobles.

>Write in
>”Perhaps one day, my lady?”
did she just....pfhahaha

Let's pick a place that's not too particular about nobles being seen with other nobles. The markets can potentially have famous dishes that hostile nobles would go out of their way to get.
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

Luca is really a harem protag, huh?
>>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
Misha seems like he wouldn't enjoy a rowdy atmosphere like a guild hall the way Seo would, but the noble district is too close by to risk someone seeing a Halion and a Shulein together
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission
Rundown on what we’re expecting, and places to buy things that will be needed. Then, hopefully we can get out of town fast enough that they all don’t need to deal with the rumor mill cycling until they return
A sound reasoning. Supporting.
Heyo everyone. Happy thanksgiving to all those that celebrate it, and an enjoyable transition into the holiday season for everyone. I'm thankful to have an audience for my story, and being in a place physically and mentally to be free to write in general.

I'm being kept busy here entertaining a small group, so that means that I likely won't be able to upload a post to entertain this group of people today. Updates will resume tomorrow!

We have a good number of votes already, so let me tally that while I'm here.


Unanimous decision to head to the market district and find a more quiet and unassuming place to plan for the upcoming mission.

Sorry that it's been a bit more time between updates than usual, but update coming in about an hour and a half!

Getting out of the noble district for a bit of privacy would be helpful given who you’re bringing with you. To that end, the guild hall would be a good bet, as who your lineage is valued comparatively little there. However, it’s bound to be rather busy and loud as the night approaches, not the best place to bring Misha. Best to find a compromise.

You smirk at the two heirs. “Stellar introductions, you two. Now let’s go somewhere where the air is a little less heavy. Somewhere in the market district would be good.”

You start toward the main path to return to the gatehouse but notice all three of your companions are rooted to the spot. Misha and Seo hesitantly eye the paths back to their family homes. Even if they both agreed to head off with you, and deep down want to go with you, they have a deep-seated aversion to being in each other’s presence any longer than necessary.

Astrid gives you a deep bow. “I-I’m afraid that I must pass on your generous offer, M-Master Yinefall, as it’s time for me to return to the manor. B-but I look forward to the day I meet you and Master Halion again.”

“I’ll make it up to you.” You give a casual nod in return. “Next time you have free time, it’ll be my treat.”

“I-it would’ve been nice for you to come with us.” Misha nervously glances in Seo’s direction.

“Thank you, young masters.” She offers yet another bow. Then, with professional efficiency, she approaches Seo. “I will prepare for Lord Shulein’s return, but I will be ready to assist you when you return. Have a good evening, my lady. We look forward to seeing you again.”

Seo is lost in thought for a few moments before responding. “Hmm? Oh, yes. Only remember, not a single word of this to father.”

Keeping unusually quiet, Seo catches up with you. Once Misha works up the courage to follow as well, you lead your group out of the placid district.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Astrid bows until all three of you are out of sight.

File: vel7.jpg (85 KB, 497x479)
85 KB

Once night falls, it’s so much better to be out of the noble district. The heavy quietness of it all is suffocatingly limiting, as if instead of a walkable and livable space, it becomes an ornate painting at night. A façade to be handled with care.

By contrast, the market district becomes its own living being at night. The warm lantern light flicker on the buildings, giving them a subtle sort of motion, as if they all beckon you to enter. The crowds and their unhurried and boisterous atmosphere sweep you along like a gently flowing river. Each diverging artery of this can transport you into stores, restaurants, and buildings for entertainment that serve as microcosms of blooming life. This district only seems to grow and grow, with the increasing trade and production of the kingdom in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity for all citizens.

You’re excited to share this with Seo and Misha, and especially Misha since he’s always holed up in his room tinkering with some mechanical creation of his. But you ought to ease him into this sort of thing. You decide on a café designed to have differing drink menus depending on the time of day. Being a bit off the main throughways, its atmosphere is more relaxed and tends to attract a classy but not classist sort of clientele.

The bartender gives you a nod of recognition as you enter, and resumes attending to his station. You bring your group to a small table near one of the hearths.

With calm conversations, the clinking of glasses, and the crackling of the wood in the hearth as the backdrop, the three of you remove your coats and settle into your conversation.

You lean back in your seat and let the hearth do its work. “I don’t think I’ve taken either of you here before, but relax, no one here is likely to recognize either you.”

Seo chimes up first as she settles into her seat. “Oh. It sounds as if you’ve taken others to this cozy spot. Care to share about your conquests, dear Luca?”

You clear your throat as you look around for a server. “Not particularly. Not to mention that we’re here to-“

“He tells me about them all the time.” Misha uncharacteristically chimes in. “T-the last one was named…Vivi or something of the like.”

“Oh? Last one?” Seo’s speaks with a hard edge to her voice. “While I was aware of your unrefined urges, I didn’t know that you bragged about them to Mishenne here. Perhaps there’s more reason to accepting this mission from Elewyn than you had shared?”

Misha raises an eyebrow. “Elewyn? Sounds foreign.”

“Try non-human.” Seo crosses her arms.

“Oh! Umm, I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing.” Misha averts his gaze.

Seo chuckles at his words. “Neither was I, but it seems like we’re learning a lot about our dear friend here.”

You hold up your hand to stop them. “I’m going to put a stop to that debauched rumor right now. Not that I’m not proud of you two for being able to converse, but if you two young scions don’t mind, I think it would be prudent to discuss our mission.”

Seo stares at you unmoved before turning to Misha. “Tell me more about this Vivi. Was she-“

“Service please!” You desperately interject.


The drinks are placed at your table along with a steaming hot meat pastry for the three of you to share. Though it hasn’t been too long since you last ate, the cold air certainly works up an appetite.

You take a long sip of your cocktail and let the stinging liquor pass into your body with a deep sigh as it warms your core. “We’re going to need horses.”

Seo sighs similarly and roughly places her mug back onto the table. “I forgot that Thistle passed away. He was always such a well-behaved lad.”

“He was my grandfather’s when he was younger, so he had a good, long life.” You raise your mug in the air before drinking again.

Seo removes a rather large segment of the pastry. “Then, I will have two procured for us. Mishenne can surely secure his own.”

Misha startles and looks up from his drink. “Umm…”

“Two will be sufficient.” You lightly push Misha’s drink closer to him. “It’s not going to bite, try some.”

Seo stares at you with a large piece of food in her mouth. “Ough cannd be serious.” She eventually swallows. “The horses will tire at different rates.”

She’s certainly relaxing because of her anonymity here.
File: bel1.jpg (111 KB, 540x875)
111 KB
111 KB JPG

You motion to Misha who starts coughing from the sip he took. “He’s light so it won’t be much more strain for the horse. Anything from your father’s stable will certainly be strong enough to push through anyway.”

“Fine, fine.” She waves you off and roughly hands a cloth to the struggling Misha. “When’s our departure then?”

Tonight would be ideal, but you’ve already asked a lot of both of them.

“Dawn, tomorrow.” You respond seriously.

“T-that soon?” Misha finally recovers enough to ask.

You nod while you sip some more. “We’re expected soon. It’s a two or three day ride, and a rough one at that. Leaving earlier will help mitigate any delays we run into along the way.”

“Then enough food and supplies for the ride as well.” Seo sighs as she takes mental inventory of what she would need. "I'll send Astrid out later to purchase what's needed for the trek."

"You'll be needing your weapon and armor as well." You remind her before turning to Misha. "Bring your lockpicks and everything you'd need to disarm traps."

Misha nods excitedly. "Finally a chance to work in the field. But, I need to get these fixed before we go anywhere." He holds up the pieces of his eyeglasses.

"The lenses are still intact, so it shouldn't be too-"

The doors to the establishment open letting in an sharp chill. The noise that your ears have grown accustomed to stop suddenly as a presence is felt at the entrance. All eyes fall upon the figure that entered.

Standing far taller than any man, and far bulkier a heavily armored colossus looms tall even from a distance. His skin is thick and dark like studded leather culminating into a fearsome set of horns rising from his massive head. His heavy breaths steam as he pauses to observe everyone staring at him. Despite his personal morbid flourishes, he dawns the armor of the royal guard.

Belodrak. One of the Prince's personally chosen guards. An Aman if you recall the race correctly. You've never another of his kind besides him before, and you've only ever seen him at a handful of events. However, despite how little you know of the Aman, his brutal effectiveness in combat is legendary.

Misha and Seo instantly recognize the figure and do their best to not draw attention to themselves. Unfortunately, his keen eyes spot the three of you, and with steps that shake the surrounding tables and chairs, he lumbers over to you.

His voice is deep and resonates painfully in your bones. "Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and..." He bows to the two of them before raising his head to stare at you.

"Luca." You reply firmly. "Just Luca."

"Belodrak." He grunts simply to you before turning his attention to the two nobles. "Most unusual to see you two together." He leans a hand on the table which groans desperately under the weight of his arm. "Might I share a drink to make the scene even more...unique?"

Seo flashes you a glance to signal that she wants nothing to do with him. He is the Prince's man after all, and the three of you are supposed to remain unseen. Inviting him to join you, would be to invite questions as well. Then again, not inviting him could do the same, if not spur worse speculation.

>Allow him to join for a drink.

>Politely refuse, stating that you're catching up with old friends.

>Write in.
>Allow him to join for a drink.
>Probe him about the elin candidate
Speculation is the worst bit here, but the longer this talk goes the more likely people will remember Seo and Misha together.
>Allow him to join for a drink
Don't really want to snub a 8-foot giant armored warrior who's a personal guard of the prince, but at the same time, the less time we spend making a scene, the better.

Then again, maybe he's an interesting character to talk to, and we can poke him as to what he's doing hanging out in full armor down here.

Worst comes to worst, we send Seo and Misha out the door with a meeting time, and bail to go shopping.

I wonder if he gets sluggish in cold weather, like a reptile. That much steel in a snowstorm? There's gotta be padding, but still.
>>Allow him to join for a drink
>>Allow him to join for a drink.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your weekends are off to a good start. It's been unseasonably warm here, but I'm not complaining because I'm sure the cold will catch up.

For a bit of setting background (from the game itself), the homeland of the Amani was in a snow-blasted very cold area. They also pride themselves on being hardy and tough individuals. So now regarding the quest: While Impel (mission destination) is going through a snowstorm, Velika is only going through cold weather. So Belodrak may be cold, but he's more than capable of enduring it. Good question!

Anyway, the choice seems locked in, but I'll leave the vote open for another hour or two in case there are any other vote/write ins.
Allowing Belodrak to join us for a drink, and ask him some questions.

There’s no way that you can rebuff the personal guard to the Prince without making a scene. That said, it would be best to keep your discussion as short to limit the chance of being noticed by any would be observers.

You flash a glance to Seo to express that you apologize in advance, and then turn to Belodrak. “By all means.” You motion widely toward the table. “We were here to catch up, but more company makes for better drinks.”

Belodrak lets out a grunt as a short laugh. He then pushes off the thick wood table, as it groans on verge of snapping. He pulls together two chairs and plants himself nearby Misha, who is entirely dwarfed by his mass. Even being bulkier than average, you’re sure he’s at least twice your weight.

With him sitting this close to the three of you, you feel intensely fortunate that he’s part of the same kingdom you belong to.

A server hastily approaches once he spots the Aman has settled into his seats. “Sir Belodrak, we appreciate your continued patronage. May we get you a drink?”

“Mulled wine.” He responds gruffly. “One will be sufficient. I still have business tonight.”

The server nods and retreats to safety and to convey the drink order.

Seo calmly resumes eating as if he weren’t there. If she’s nervous she’s certainly not betraying it. Misha, on the other hand, has locked up in silence. Internally you feel as though your stomach has dropped, but you can push through it.

He lets out a long sigh. “Work never ends.” He turns his gaze and directs his piercing eyes toward you. “Here to catch up, hmm? You’re friends with Lady Shulein and Lord Halion here, boy?”

You watch as he rests his forearm on the table, occupying nearly a whole quadrant with his bulky armor. “I’ve known both of them since I was a boy, yes.” You nod toward Seo. “Her for as long as I can remember.” You nod toward Misha. “Him since around the time we were eight years old or so. Right, Misha.”

Misha jumps as if touched suddenly with ice. “Y-Y-yes, I think so. S-Sound right.”

“Luca Yinefall.” Seo chimes in flatly. “To properly introduce him so that you don’t assume we make friends with commoners.”

Belodrak grunts in acknowledgment. “I figured as much. Your manner of carrying yourself doesn’t suggest one of common birth. I have an eye for such things, despite my less than common status...”

Then why are his eyes lurking about the market district at this time of the day?

“My grandfather insisted on lessons in poise. I suppose they had an effect despite my reluctance.” You shrug then point toward his armor. “On the note of carrying things, it must not be much of a break with your full armor on.”

Another snort of a laugh. “I’ve worn this for so many years that I often forget it’s there. I must admit that I have little need for it’s protective purposes, but it certainly emits an aura of poise.”

Clever. Do you call it poise we you look as if you could double for a battering ram?

His drink arrives and the mug looks like a child’s toy in his hand. He takes a long sip from his hot wine and sighs in satisfaction. “Poise is the aura I choose to emit. The way humans have always fearfully gawped at me have been my lessons in constantly being aware of how I carry myself. Not that fear doesn’t have its use, but at times it is a burden. Much like yourselves, for some reason… I’ve come to this less traveled spot to be out of the public eye.”

“Only to avoid unnecessary rumors or the like.” You pause as you take a deep drink from your mug, letting the liquor take the edge off your nerves. “The burden of nobility makes us painfully aware of how we carry ourselves as well.”

His lip curls in a half snarl, half smile. “Good. Not that I think you lot capable, but any potential plots would be reported to the Prince. Then, his judgement will be executed to the best of our ability, as we always have, as we always will. But, as Luca here says, it’s only friends catching up.” He turns his hard gaze at both Seo and Misha.

You can see Misha shake from across the table.

Seo places down her fork and knife. “Trust us, we’re well aware of the Prince’s capabilities, and we’ve all sworn fealty to the crown when we came of age. If you came over with here with an actual question, then get on with asking it. If not…” Seo stares him down, unintimidated.

He returns her gaze before finally turning it back to his wine. “My question has been answered already, Lady Shulein. Don’t worry.” He finishes the contents in one quick motion before turning back to the three of you. “I’ve taken up enough of your time. Plenty more tasks for the royal guard left tonight.”

You’re reminded of the Elin leaving the Halion residence and figure you could quickly probe him to learn more about what business a royal guard trainee would have there.

“Ah, that reminds me that you’re not the first royal guard member we’ve come across today.” You carefully watch him as he rises from his seats. “Well, not a full-fledged guard, but we came across the Elin trainee for the princess’s guard earlier in the day. Do you know her?”

He stops as if bitten by an insect and pauses before answering. “I’m aware that the Princess certainly is exercising her dominion over the standard caliber of the royal guard…I’ve heard word of that trainee many times. Supposedly a stubborn girl.”

“Oh?” Seo perks up, intrigued for the first time by Belodrak’s words. “Are you implying that the Princess has allowed an unsatisfactory candidate to train for her royal guard.”

He sighs and walks near the hearth with wood mug in hand. “Human nobles, the royal family especially, exercise their power as they see fit. I'm not trying to upset that. But us in the royal guard, we exercise our power as necessary to protect. Would the little Elin be brave enough to stop me if I chose to harm the Princess? Would she be strong enough? Or perhaps…”

With a single clench of his massive fist, he effortlessly shatters the mug in his hand, and grinds the shards into powder that are fed into the hearth.

“Curious that you saw her in the day when she should be training. What was she doing?” He asks, glaring at the three of you to observe your reactions.

Seo turns her focus back to you, signaling that the royal guard member has long overstayed his welcome. Misha's glance is firmly locked on his lap.

Time to get him out of here. Perhaps telling him the truth will get him out of here faster? However, though the trainee is a non-human, you have some reservations about foisting your current predicament entirely on her if she was up to something.

>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.

>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.

>Write in.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
She seemed in a hurry, gone long before we headed here.
>>>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
Well, we don’t know the Elin in question, so it’s an easy way to get Belo here off our back.
Heyo everyone, I hope that you're all enjoying your Sundays. I've been running some errands to help me transition better coming off the long weekend.

For now, I'll leave the vote open for another hour or so before tallying what we have.
>>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
yeah luca has no reason to try to lie for aloe, he's just curious
Getting him off our backs by answering honestly.


Belodrak doesn’t seem have anything else to share about her, so it’s best to be done with him so you can get on with why you three came here in the first place.

“We only exchanged passing greetings, so all we could garner was that she had some business at the Halion residence.” You respond curtly, but honestly. “Misha’s eyeglasses are broken right now, so I doubt he saw much anyway.”

Misha nods solemnly in agreement.

“Then the Princess had business at the Halion residence…” He steps over to Misha and places his scaled hand on his shoulder, which spans from back to chest. “Don’t worry little Lord Halion, I’m not here to give your father trouble. I’m only keeping the Prince abreast on the matters of his future kingdom." He squeezes down lightly. "If you could help us do that, then I’m sure there will be an even loftier place for you and your father within his kingdom.” He removes his imposing hand from Misha’s body and then bows to all three of you. “Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and Lord Yinefall, thank you for the company, and I bid you three a pleasant evening.”

The three of you watch him exit the establishment, in which the air seems to lighten significantly from his departure. You and Misha breathe sighs of relief while Seo only shakes her head.

“You dress up a dog, it will think it can eat at the table with the humans.” She comments bitterly. “However, him unintentionally barking about the discordance within the royal guard units was somewhat interesting. Especially if it portends to something grander in scale. Oh, and here’s your share of the pastry, you two.”

She slides two thin slices of what remains of an entire meat pie. You hardly noticed her eat the rest of it on her own.

“I’m just glad that he’s gone.” Misha brushes off the shoulder Belodrak had his hand on earlier. “I-it unsettles me to imagine creatures doing as they wish just because they have the authority of the royal family.”

You sigh aloud as you take your sliver of pie. “Even the pets of the royal family are privileged to social standing that can cause you two grief.”

Even with the Shulein and Halion family standing leagues above the rest of the nobility, the power that the royal family wields is in an entirely different realm.

You motion for the server to bring more food for you and Misha. “At least where we’re headed, you two won’t have to worry about being immediately recognized. On that note, where were we…”

File: devan.png (250 KB, 292x342)
250 KB
250 KB PNG

You came to this Devan worker barrack in hopes of finding some leads on the location of the supposed Sanctuary, but what you’ve come across instead has been nothing short of grotesque. Grotesque not only in the scene, but how easily it has been accepted by the Devan. You recall that the past gods that served as their masters warped and shaped them into a sub-class of slow-witted, subservient people with a desire to follow. They once reaved through this land following their dark master’s path of conquest. A contingent of them managed to settle the Velikan Wilds long ago. The humans that subsequently followed into this area have certainly exploited their descendants’ inborne traits to an extreme.

The howling wind seeping into the body of the building through numerous vessel-like cracks assault the afflicted with bitter cold and demoralizing persistence. Even from here and with the winter storm raging on outside, you can hear their pained and starved wails.

The humans of Impel have corralled the Devan with injuries or ailments into this barrack to weather the storm with little food, and little fuel for warmth.
File: imp3.jpg (170 KB, 1357x810)
170 KB
170 KB JPG

Ahh, every second of your brief respite brings so many of them one step closer to perishing, brings them one step closer to joining their brethren in the horrendous flesh pile of the fallen that stands in front of you. It was strangling in there, but the utter stillness and certainty to be found here is slightly comforting. What was once a rudimentary place of worship for them has been profaned with the necessity of storing their dead. Any sort of altar has been replaced with only a singular option to revere death itself, frozen out from the seeping cold. You spot yourself in the frozen crimson mirror spilled onto the ground all around you, tired looking, but still alive.

Are you to blame for this as well?

“Madam…” A voice calls out from behind you, snapping you back to reality. “The injured and the beds, they are ready. They are ready. Quickly.”

You push your hair back and straighten out your clothes. “Thank you, Nento. I’ll be there soon.”

“Unn” He hobbles away, eager to be away from the corpses of his kin.

There’s still work to be done. Work that only you can do. Work that you must do.

You finally step away from the preserved crypt, and return to the sleeping quarters of the barracks, with each step you take echoing endlessly in the ears of the fallen.

Helping those still clinging onto life through this storm will allow you to gather what the Devan know of the Sanctuary. A necessary measure, given the secrecy and its relatively recent appearance in this land. Those factors also lead you strongly suspect that it’s tied to the body with the mismatched head. Which could finally provide answers as to why Alys and many of your kin met the fate they have in Velika.

From a long dimly lit hallway with barely you emerge into the sleeping quarters, which out of necessity have been transformed into a makeshift clinic where you’re the only healer. Almost all sources of warmth have been concentrated into this fetid and blood-stained place. A few dozen Devan huddle on a smaller quantity of shoddy cots with thin bedcloths stained through with blood and sick. The wretched odor and disease looming in the air comes secondary to staying warm. Through the haze, several voices call out bemoaning their starvation, wrack their bodies with painful coughing fits, or cry out in fear for the seemingly impending end. Infecting it all, the cold. The vicious cold penetrating through innumerable cracks in the frosted windows.
File: Elewyn2.jpg (98 KB, 706x1000)
98 KB

An unused nurse uniform you came across in town has given you a simple façade of authority to direct the very few relatively able-bodied Devan still standing, and to perform operations on those wretched individuals in need. But even Nento, the most ambulant walks with a significant limp and effort. But they continue to act as your assistants while this storm rages on.

“These the four, madam. Over here.” He waves you over to the four Devan with the greatest afflictions. Once you come over, he explains more about their injuries. “The foreman, this wench, and this child in the storage room from wind. The roof, it collapse and hurt them the most. Him.” He points at the remaining supine figure. “He was outside banging on the door. He was the one that always sneak us food. The cold. It mess him up good.”

A quick cursory glance at all of them informs you of their specific injuries. The foreman has a shard of wood of significant size impaled into his thigh. A thin trail of blood leaks from the wound. He seems stable and having the foreign object in his leg agitates his mood greatly. The woman, while less active, has taken a similar wound to her lower abdomen. To make matters much worse, she’s well along in carrying a child. The third patient is a child, unconscious and who bleeds from the ears and nose. Based on a swelling contusion you spot through his hair, you suspect that the roof collapse gave him a strong blow to the head. Finally, the one not involved in the roof collapse is suffering from a major case of gangrene from the tip of his left hand to his wrist. He sweats profusely and mumbles incoherent strings of words.

You've been balancing the medical practices that you learned over the years with your healing magic. The approach, while less effective for an individual patient than pouring the total necessary mana needed to heal them, allows you to treat more individuals, and in a way that obscures your magic from the Devan.

You take another glance at your patients as you try to decide who is need of treatment the soonest. Given that you're trying to ingratiate yourself with the Devan to extract information that they've not been willing to share before, you need to consider who they'd value most versus who would have the most information to share. Each patient will require significant time to treat.

Here you are now, and here are they. There’s no one else for them, so it's time to decide.

>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.

>Attend to the expectant mother's wounds first.

>Attend to the child's wounds first.

>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.

>Write in.
>>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
I think this most immediately, as the acutely vital person. the foreman will survive but probably has a deal of sway. second probably the woman...? I feel the child too far gone if they're bleeding actively from the brain, but maybe magic or superior knowledge would contradict that.
>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
The foreman is the next most important, but I'm not really sure if they care for pregnant as much
>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the work week.

The holiday weekend was busier than I expected with personal stuff, but I was satisfied with the overall update amount. What I will try to course correct is getting the updates out at a more regular time. This will depend on how today goes, but I think the time that would provide the most consistency on my end would be later in the night ~11pm EST. Consistent update schedule is a lofty goal for me, but one that I'd like to continue to strive for. Let's see how it goes.

Regarding the vote, I'll leave it open for a few more hours and then tally the results then.
>>Attend to the child's wounds first.
The longer a brain injury goes untreated, the more catastrophic it becomes. The foreman and the woman seem like they can hold out for a little while longer before being attended to at least. Not sure about the gangrene.
Attending to the Devan with the gangrenous hand first.

Update in about 20 minutes!
File: sur1.png (975 KB, 925x652)
975 KB
975 KB PNG
Medical considerations in mind, the severe condition of the Devan with rotting hand makes him a good first target. Him being the smuggler of food adds a high practical element to it as well, for more than the obvious reason of the starving individuals surrounding you. The food he can manage to sneak off with during such dire times of famine must be coming from somewhere, and that could be connected to the Sanctuary. Regardless of where it originated, you can take advantage of his lowered scruples to gain information.

You move towards his cot, in which he has already sweat a great amount of fluid into and urinated a deep yellow brown stain underneath his body. The simple act of you lightly lifting his hand for observation causes him to screech in pain.

“Why you help him first?! Woman and baby need help!”

“Shut it. He brings the food, they only eat.”

“What food? There’s nothing!”

“He sick too, idiot!”

A few of the Devan argue over your choice as many of the gawp and watch your actions.

“Hold him down, Nento.” You order calmly while you look over the discolored, stinking flesh.

“Yes, Madam.” He hobbles over and roughly pins the Devan’s shoulder into the cot. “You two, come help.” Nento urgently motions to two sick Devan nearby.

After painfully shambling the distance between their cot and you, they slam down on the Devan’s legs to restrain him entirely. Their breathing is heavy from the exertion, and under normal circumstances they’d be one’s receiving treatment, but these three are the most able bodied of the entire barracks.

The stench of the arm suggests an infection of the dead tissue. To know the full extent, you firmly peel back the greenish black gangrene away from the still living tissue to reveal blood-stained pus that drips from wound like melted cheese. For brief moments between the bubbling of discharge, corrupted strips of yellowed muscle bridge the gap between the living and the dead. At the base of the infection, the emanated heat signals that the body’s defenses are being pushed further and further back.

From this, you assess that the limb will need to be amputated below the wrist, and that any remaining tissue needs to be scraped clean of corruption. The wound will be sparged and washed with boiling water, then cauterized.

It will be painful.

Additionally, your limited and rusted tools will allow you to do little more than the crudest form of this vital surgery. That limitation paired with the extent of his gangrene makes his outlook poor without any magic usage, but not impossible. Him thrashing about, which he almost certainly will, only serves to make the whole procedure more difficult and time-consuming.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 15
MP: 39

The amputation of the Devan's hand is a major procedure with the chance of death. Healing and sedating magic is available to you, but will consume mana, and continued usage will attract unwanted attention to your abilities. There are more three more patients needing attention.

>Perform the procedure without the use of any magic.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn.
As this is a bit of a twist on the standard combat scenario, please feel free to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to clarify. I should be around for a few more hours.
Yeesh, yea no regrets on treating him first.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn
Turn on the magic before the cauterizing, forming a cleaner stump with less surface area to burn or even bypassing the need to burn a seal.

Ah, my bad everyone, I should clarify that specific spell choices are needed. This is mainly so I don't make any false assumptions about the magic you would want to use. (Not that I would ever do it out of bad faith.) Also, so I can properly calculate the mana costs.


I'd be very appreciative if you could add the spells you'd want to use to accomplish this. My assumption is that you'd want to use healing light to clean up the wound before cauterization. (MP Cost: 6, by itself.)
Woah, yeah, this guy's probably the worst off of the lot. So we have a pool of 39 mana to work with, and we're going to need ration it across four patients, not to mention any unforseen circumstances
that might occur. Here are the spells we have access to:

>Healing Light: Flat cost of 6, we can spend additional increments of +2 mana to add a flat +1 to the effectiveness of the healing spell.
Obviously, this is super useful to us here.

>Dawn's Blessing: Flat cost of 3, increases physical and magical resistances.
Not sure if it will really be effective here, but we might be able to flavor it as increasing a patient's pain tolerance?

>Sundowning: Flat cost of 10, can be used to stupor someone.
This is effectively our heavy anesthesia.

>Brilliance: Flat cost of 1, produces light.
>Stellar Gale: Flat cost of 2, produces powerful winds.
I don't see either of these being particularly helpful to us here.
>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn.
>> Use Sundowning to sedate him during the amputation process. Then use Healing Light to clean things up
It will limit what we'll be able to do for the others, but this guy really seems like he needs to be knocked out for this.
this is me

I'll add the sundowning from >>5068773

It's going to be pricey on the mp and identity, but he needs it.
Heyo everyone, looks like we have a few votes already, but I'll keep it open for a few hours to give a chance for more votes/suggestions to come in.
+1 to this, just knock him out and perform surgery, then clean up with healing light

Look to the child afterwards, perform a swab test to see if he's leaking CSF, can be done fast
Rolled 6, 2 = 8 (2d10)

Going with both a Sundowning to sedate the Devan as much as we can, along with a Healing Light to facilitate a cleaner amputation/cauterization. This will greatly increase his chances, but come with a higher risk of your magical powers being noticed.

We'll focus on this Devan for now, as any story developments may change your approach with the ones that still need treatment.

Elewyn to cast both Healing Light and Sundowning for the amputation surgery.
MP Cost: 16

>Rolling 2d10 for the amputation. (CR 6, reduced greatly from use of magic.)
The surgery will go as smooth as could be hoped for the situation.

>Writing outcome!
Hey everyone, I think I'll need another 30 minutes or so before I post the update. Hope to have it up soon!

To have the amputation fail would be a significant waste of your effort, a loss of a potential lead, as well as cause the other Devan to lose confidence in your authority. Subtly using your magic is a necessity to prevent that, yet even with magic helping, you must still carefully perform the surgery.

You sigh before turning to Nento. “The hand needs to be removed. It will never heal, and if not cut off this corruption will spread to the rest of his body.” You speak simply and loudly in order to communicate with all the other Devan in the room. “I’ll need boiling hot water and thin rope before I begin. You get that while I prepare.”

Nento nods, gazing at you with hazy eyes before turning to his companions. “You heard her. Go get the water hot! I’ll find rope.”

You watch them hobble away from the cot before heading off yourself. With quick shifts of your eyes, you hastily spot any Devan that may be watching your movements. There are a handful, but they watch idly as the surgery has yet to begin. Once you’ve begun the first cut, it will be more difficult to cast inconspicuously.

You calmly walk over to your belongings. In your pack, you pull out a neatly folded spare undershirt and tear off long and thin strips of the delicate fabric. Your fingers are already numb from the cold, and you feel a wave of light-headedness from not sleeping in nearly two days. After allowing the vertigo to pass, you pick up your staff and begin tautly winding the cloth around its length and begin to walk back to the cot. You need to pull attention away from your first patient’s body.

“Salt.” You announce as loudly as you can, echoing and disrupting the established sounds of the sleeping quarter. The instant you startle the group you perform a subtle series of actions while speaking to them. First you pivot to face the crowd and carefully position your staff pointed toward your patient. “I’ll need salt to keep his wounds clean when I’m done. If you have any here, please bring it to me.” Your explanation runs concurrently with the Sundowning incantation in your mind.

The thin wisps of light almost completely fade away from his body before a single Devan turns and catches an ephemeral glance at your magic. He seems perplexed and rubs his eyes roughly.
File: sur2.png (1.58 MB, 993x723)
1.58 MB
1.58 MB PNG
Murmurs from the crowd confirm that there is salt in the barracks, and an individual shuffles slowly away to retrieve it.

After returning to the patient, you find that your spell connected and that his groaning and writhing have subsided as he settles into deep unconsciousness. You note that the Sundowning affected him more acutely given his weakened state, so it should persist for longer than average. Once you confirmed the spell, you pull off the makeshift bandages off your staff, and rest both at the foot of the cot.

Nento and the others return carrying a long cord of thin weathered rope, and a large, rusted pot filled with snow. Nento hands you the rope as his companions haphazardly rest the pot on one of the flames warming the room.

You nod your thanks as you receive the cord, and stare at its length for a moment. You feel your fatigue and the eyes of many in the room upon you. The rusted tools you’ll use for the amputation rest on a partially smashed table near your hip. A hushed tension falls upon the frigid barracks as you think over the actions of the surgery.

One final push of your hair out of your face, and you begin.

With his arm held high in the air by one of the Devan, you use a piece of wood to thoroughly torque the rope around his arm, just above the elbow. Once tight, you take control of his arm and grab the tool you’ll use to cut throw the tissue.

A rusted and chipped bread knife.

Thin clouds of fogged breath come out of your mouth and combine with the others in shared shivering suffering of each aching cold second.

The rotted flesh pulls away from the living easily, but the infection will need to be etched away from the salvageable tissue.

You make your first cut.

The crude blade barely punctures into the flesh of his wrist snagging thin strip after thin strip in its grooves. Warm blood and the discolored black cream of infection bubbles down your hand and onto your arm as you dig into the inflamed tissue again, and again, and again. You do your best to clench the knife tightly in your cold hand as the fluids make it want to slip out of grasp. All the while, a miasma of pungent stench rises from the wound and nauseates you with every shallow breath. Despite that, you can hardly rush with your hands as numb as they are, the warm fluid that pours overs them goes cold quickly. Each raking slice first reveals fat to rend away, then tough pink meaty tissue with interwoven cords of tendons and nerves to be worked through, and the finally, finally after many minutes of painstaking carving all around the wrist, bone.

“She’s killing him!”

“Idiot. If she wanted kill him, she stab his throat.”

“Disgusting, burn away the arm!”

The gallery of sick Devan around you criticizes and comment feverishly as you do your best to tune out their shouts and horrid coughing fits. Mercifully, the patient rests with hardly any motion.

You put down the blade in a daze from cutting for so long and slide off as much viscera off your hands as possible. Then with a flat, crusted cloth, you slide as much of the healthy tissue away from the portion you attend to remove. With the bone more revealed, begin the delicate process of separating the tendon connecting the form the bones of the hand.

Leaving the inside of his wrist in any proper shape is well beyond the capabilities of the crude tools you have here, yet you must do your best to avoid any further infections in the future.

“Nento.” You call out while carefully avoiding tendons that link the two bones of the wrist together. “The rasp…”

He hobbles to retrieve a weighty length of rusted rasp with a shattered wooden handle. “Here, madam!” He warns as he presents the rasp to you like an offering.

Once you’ve torn through the tendon, you pull off the gangrenous hand with a firm pull and are left holding the withered extremity queerly in your hand. After a moment you place the arm down on the cot, and take the rasp from Nento.


"She touched it, she touched it!"

Would that you could Sundown them all...

Using the unwieldy rasp, you smooth the end of the bone with long passes before turning to the other two Devan assisting you. "The water, bring it here."

They dutifully fetch the heavy pot, and lug it back to you.

You pull the stump away from the cot and hold it in place. "Pour it only on the end." You order them with graveness in your voice.

At first, they manage to follow your order quite well with boiling hot water killing any remaining bits of corruption in his wrist. However, after a short time they lose grip on the pot, and stumble hard to ground with water splashing all over the legs of one of them.

He shrieks in agony as he crawls away from the scalding hot water. In that moment, you slip down and grasp your staff once again. You invoke the quickest flash of healing light you can muster before calmly standing again.

With a background of screams the others in the room shout as well.

"Help him!"

"Get him in snow!"

"Light, I saw light! Over there, she did something."

"Shut it. Help him!"

His screams finally begin to calm as the water quickly cools, and other Devan help him outside to put cooling snow on his burns.

Much to your satisfaction, your magic seems to have closed most of the wound, as well as fused loose tendon to the bone cap to provide a well-padded area at the end. After heating the rasp in the flames, you cauterize the thin opening causing the room to stink of burning flesh. The procedure is mostly finished.

You kneel down to pick up the cloth you left earlier. "Soak this in salt water and then wrap it tightly around his wrist." You order the Devan assistant that narrowly avoided being burned.

You turn to observe the remaining patients and see a crowd of other Devan around each of them.

"Pull it out, boss." One Devan goads the foreman to remove the shard of wood from his leg.

"I can do it. Just watch." The foreman cockily responds as he positions his leg to get a better grasp on the wood.

Meanwhile, others crowd around the child with the head injury and argue over what treatment they believe to be best for him.

"His head getting big. Need to turn him upside down."

"No! Need to hit the head bumps hard!"

"No. Need to cool him outside in the snow."

Suddenly a loud scream from the pregnant Devan silences the crowd. She groans in pain before shouting. "Baby's coming now!"

Your heart pounds as pandemonium breaks loose while many of the sick crowd around her in an attempt to help.

"Nurse lady, come here!"

"No! Nurse lady come here!"

Damn it all. Shouting to get them to calm down will likely only make things worse. There's too many of them to control, and while a success, the graphic amputation has them on edge. Then, who should you help, and is there a way to get the crowd under control?

>Attend to the foreman next.

>Attend to the child next.

>Attend to the pregnant mother next.

>Write in.
>Attend to the child next.
Jesus, I don't expect the kid to survive, but we gotta try.

>Tell the Devans with the foreman that if they want to show off, why don't they help delivering the child. The foreman knows how to take charge, right?
Supporting >>5069878
Good idea, keeps the Foreman distracted from possibly killing himself and takes the mother off our hands for the moment.
>Attend to the foreman next.
>>Attend to the pregnant mother next.
As said, we need to make sure the foreman doesn't kill himself by removing the shard. The delivery can wait, and may actually go well. We can check later to see if she needs her blood levels topped/ internal bleeding stymied. The concussion is most urgent. Any more swelling and he's dead or a vegetable.
>>Attend to the pregnant mother next.
Heyo everyone, I hope the start of the month is going well. I'll thank everyone for their continued enthusiastic participation and here's to another month.

I'll tally the vote now, since we have a good amount of votes and I have a small window to start writing the update:

Attending to the child next while attempting to divert the foreman's energy to helping the delivery of the baby.

The foreman's going to have no idea how to do it and will kill her, I feel...
The way I see it-
Child's got a head wound, internal damage and we have basically no medical resources. He's looking at death or at the VERY least permanent damage, the best we can do is make him comfortable.

The man can still move, although he really shouldn't pull the goddamn object out right now, and should just wrap and keep from moving until we can help him remove it, or have access to better care.

The woman should also try to keep from moving, and attempt to keep the foreign object from moving and damaging anything further. As she's going into labor, this is obviously impossible and is probably dead from aggravating her wound/overexertion. Best we can do there is MAYBE save her child. And that's a strong maybe.

Then again, we have limited magic, but that's probably canceled out by how damn bad the tools and conditions we are working in.

NGL, this is hard to read for me
Heyo everyone, just got back from work so it'll be another 30-40 minutes until the update is posted.

The child will have to come first. Every second that passes the swelling increases and pushes him closer and closer to brain death. But first, you have to quickly placate the foreman who is currently doing his best to kill himself. Appealing to his sense of authority might be the best way to distract him.

You take several deep breaths to steady yourself as you push through the raucous crowd surrounding the foreman. “Listen!” You get the foreman’s attention instantly and stare him down.

“I can’t help that boy and the mother at the same time. You’re in charge of these workers here, so I need you to take charge and make sure they don't do any damage to them.” You point at the jagged shard of wood stuck in his leg. “I know you can pull that out, but right now I need you to wait until I’m free to stop the bleeding. Stay still and do what you know, get your men under control, and help me.”

He sneers at you while you speak to him, but eventually he nods his head slowly before turning to those Devan surrounding the mother and the boy. “Shut up and get away from them.” He barks and then looks back at you. “You take the rotten arm off Hraska, and he still alive. You can help, so I listen, we listen.” He directs the hushed crowd around him. “Little lady needs help. We help.”

You nod your thanks before heading off again. You drag the dilapidated table, your pus-covered tools, and your staff toward the young boy’s cot. Once you reach him, you begin delegating orders. “I’ll need more boiling water for the tools. They have infection covering them, and I won’t be able to attend to the boy until they’re clean.”

“Go get more!” He growls at those nearby. “Don’t spill like idiot did.”

You pull one of the few precious metal containers housing a fire closer to better observe the boy. A few of the Devan huddling around it protest, but quickly stop once you shoot them a fierce glare.

You’re in absolutely no mood at this point.

First, you carefully inspect the thin streams of blood leaking from his nose and ears. You pull some of the crimson liquid between your fingers and rub to check the consistency. It seems more dilute than normal blood, suggesting that the liquid that surrounds the brain has begun to leak from its membrane. After wiping off the blood, you quickly move on to check his eyes and find the one closer to the site of injury to be significantly dilated. Finally, you palpate the deep purple bruise on his head located above his left ear. The shallow area between his skin and skull doesn’t collect fluid, but you feel a bulging vein of fluid nearby, under one of the softer areas of his child skull.

He moans fearfully in his deep unconsciousness. Arms outstretched, he desperately searches for a figure in the dark.

You gently clasp his hand, and he seems to calm down, but still murmurs feverishly under his breath.

You sigh deeply and rub your forehead with your free hand.

The blow from the roof collapse has done significant damage to both the skull and the outer layer of his brain. He’s hemorrhaging blood, and his body is rushing fluid into the site of impact, which is building pressure within his skull. First off, you’ll need to peel off a slab of scalp to gain access, and then inspect the damage to the bone. From there you’ll need to carve off a segment of skull in order to inspect your main target, the delicate organ underneath. Then the difficult part begins.

Using only the tools at hand, he’s doomed.

You won’t know for certain unless you peel away his skull to observe the damage, but you suspect there will be a large swollen portion that will need to be drained. The torn membrane surrounding the brain will need to be removed to allow for a cleaner recovery, and then delicate cauterization of the tissue.

You observe the pitiful boy’s sleeping face. Since he’s held on this long, his odds of survival should improve with a healing spell. If you were to enhance it with extra mana, he might stand a decent chance.

It will still be a difficult and delicate procedure.

Motion from the cot where the mother lies catches your attention. You spot an older Devan with long thin scars all over his body and a missing eye rubbing her back gently. The scars that you observe have been left behind from countless lashes over his years of servitude.

“Good. Keep her comfortable…” You start to nod your approval before experiencing yet another dizzy spell. Tightly gripping the boy’s hand for balance, you allow the wave of unsteadiness to pass over you once again.

Nento comes into your periphery with the container filled with boiling water, into which you drop your rudimentary tools. “More things you need, madam?” He inquires as you watch the bubbling water dissolve the dried blood and pus off your tools.

“Cloths. As many as you can find.” You answer distractedly

You’ll need those regardless of whether you choose to help the boy or not. As you watch Nento dutifully hobble away once again, you consider the choice at hand. There’s almost no point in performing surgery on the boy without using your magic. Luckily, you don't think he'll need sedation, only healing. A quick spell would be easier to disguise, but not heal as much of the damaged area as a more mana-enhanced spell. An enhanced healing light will certainly be noticed without some major form of distraction on your part. You tiredly eye the boy, and then the other two patients.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 11
MP: 23

The drainage of the fluid within the boy's brain is a very delicate procedure with high chance of death. Healing magic is available to you, but will consume mana, and extensive usage without a distraction at this point will very likely attract unwanted attention to your abilities. There are more two more patients needing attention.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with a normal Healing Light spell.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost).

>Move on to a different patient. [Specify who between the foreman and the pregnant woman.]

>Write in.
I'd rather waste MP than get caught.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with TWO normal Healing Light spells.

Distraction 1
>Call to have the dirty water dumped

Distraction 2
>Bring the fire closer and something to catch the liquid you're about to drain.
Heyo everyone, I'm going to leave the vote open for a while longer to let more posts filter in. Not a problem at all waiting on my end because work is shaping up to kick my ass today. I'll be back later in the day to see where the vote sits, until then!
Hoping to get one or two more votes before the tally. I'll check back in a couple of hours!
Since this anon is kinda advocating for that
>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost).
And I support using his distractions as write-ins. If we need another, I suggest telling them to move the amputee closer to a fire (and away from the boy.)

2 HLs would put us at 11 MP, meaning we couldn't get another two off, and that might be a deciding factor for the mother. The foreman I think we can do without magic, so long as he doesn't screw himself over.
>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost)
This, saving mana for the mother. His chances aren't good, but we owe him to try.
Rolled 1, 6 = 7 (2d10)

Finally a break for me, so let's see what we have:

Two separate Healing Lights to increase the boy's odds of survival and lower the chance of being caught at the expense of extra mana. Distractions involving using the fire, and limiting the number of of people in the room.

Elewyn to cast two Healing Lights for the surgery to alleviate the pressure on the boy's brain.
MP Cost: 12

A very difficult procedure, but the odds of total success are greatly improved with the extra usage of mana.

>Rolling 2d10 for the total success of the brain surgery. (CR 9, reduced via usage of two healing spells.)
Surgery isn't a total success, permanent complications of some sort likely, but he will survive.

>Writing outcome
Hey everyone, this is just advanced notice that the update will be posted tomorrow morning (US time.)

I'll be at work for a few more hours at least, so I won't be able to write until late. Thanks for your understanding!
Update in about 30-40 minutes
Wasn't that consensus for an enhanced Healing Light instead of two regulars ?
File: o5.jpg (109 KB, 1000x999)
109 KB
109 KB JPG

You’re all that he has between life and death. A situation you’ve been in so many times before, with so many others. Every meticulous detail of the upcoming surgery and the limitations enforced upon on you are weighed over and over against each other in your mind. There’s a heaviness weighing upon you that makes starting the surgery difficult, but you must keep going…

A brilliant orange dawn comes forth from memory. A warm early morning from a time no one else is around to remember.

”Ah geez, isn’t she the one that nearly drowned? How’re we gonna go in with her as our healer when she can’t even take care of herself?”

I’m afraid that I’m in agreement. The odds that I calculate for our success with her as our support are slim at best.

’Fraid we’re going to have to head back to town then. Don’t want her to lose her cool in a crucial moment.

You meekly stand in that blurred stretch of time with faceless figures dissatisfied with your very presence. You clutch your staff uneasily, and don’t have the courage to meet their harsh gazes.

Quiet. If you want to go back to town, then go. I can do this alone with her. It's the three of you whose help I don’t need. So what will it be?…Thought so. And you! Chin up. You’re only getting started.

You sigh and shake your head. It must be the chill and the fatigue making you sluggish. Yet you still take comfort in the memory, and in remembering how much Noire bemoaned the cold.

But would she recognize you anymore?

With two pieces of scrap metal, you fish out what will be your tools for this upcoming surgery. In their place, you toss in a handful of the cloths that Nento has retrieved for you and give your hands a few rapid plunges into the hot water.

“You need to the same, Nento. But be quick about it, as you’ll burn your hands otherwise.” After watching him fulfill your order, you pick up the rusted bread knife and hold it carefully in your hand once again.

“He will be unconscious, but hold his head down and steady. Do not allow him to move.” You order Nento as you take aim just below the bruised lump. Your free hand grasps what you can of the thin scalp. The steaming knife touches against his dark hair.

There’s no way to be merciful about this.
Yes, checking back, you're absolutely right. I'm very sorry, everyone.

So, as that is an error on my part, I will change the outcome of the previous roll to be a regular success, and change the overall mana cost to be 8 instead of 12.

Luckily, the complications were going to appear later, so rewriting is not overly extensive, but I will still need extra time.

The first post is still perfectly valid, thankfully.
No problem on my part. Reading back, I can see my first sentence could be misleading, sorry.
Also, Noire lives ?
No problem at all. At the time of the tally, I recall being in a terrible rush at work yesterday, so the fault lies on me.

For your second question, I will say that Noire did in fact die well before the events of this quest. The question Elewyn asks herself is referential to her memory of Noire.
Well, this could be Elewyn just reflecting on how much she's changed, and kinda indicates that she hasn't seen Noire in a long, long time.
File: sur3.png (1.35 MB, 930x720)
1.35 MB
1.35 MB PNG

With conviction you carve into his scalp with the practically useless blade. Blood leaks immediately and mixes with the hair and skin peeled off together. With small, quick sawing motions you slice your way through, having to pause to wipe the bloody clumps of hair and skin off the blade. The skin is tough and paired with the dull edge, you're reminded of cutting into an overdone steak. Your blood-covered thumb pulls the skin taut as you toil to control the ill-suited knife and cut a large semi-circular flap to allow access to the skull. After time, you have enough purchase over the skin to grip it tightly with your small hand and begin to probe away the pink muscle underneath.

With your clenched and bloodied fist, you fold back the skin as pink shreds of muscle flake off and land onto the cot. You retrieve one of the clothes you plunged into the water, ring out the fluid, and then soak up the blood that oozes from so many different locations. Finally, the rough off-white bone can be seen through the patches of shredded muscle.

You spot pronounced cracks in the surface of the flat bone from which small bits of a gelatinous clot of blood seep forth.

The boy’s legs fidget in his deep slumber, and Nento firmly presses him down with his larger frame to restrict any sort of movement.

If there’s enough pressure for the clot to ooze through the thin cracks of the skull, then the injury is more severe than you had first thought. More extensive healing will be needed for him to survive.

Once finished observing his skull, you’re quick to pierce into the rubbery suture that connects the hard individual plates. The fibrous tissue gives way far more easily than skin and slips off your blade like thin pieces of wax. Once through, you can meticulously pry the chipped pieces of skull away using your fingernails, all the while keeping track of the original intricate positioning. Slowly, with each piece pulled off, you’re greeted with more and more of a purple-white membrane that pulses in rhythm to the boy’s heartbeat. The delicate layer of perforated tissue is itself greeted by the cold and fetid air, to which it emits a thin layer of visible steam. The seat of his soul is exposed as it has never been before.

You set down the knife. There’s nothing else to use besides your own two cold-numbed hands. You pull apart the already torn membrane with two of your fingers, feeling it snap like a thin piece of wet rubber. Clumps of gelatinous blood clots fall onto the bed, as you probe the surface of the boy’s ridged brain with your thin finger. You scoop out more and more of the coagulated mess until there’s pile of the sickening jelly on the already stained cot.

You turn to the Devan who dressed the amputation. “Bring the salt to me.”

He looks at you fearfully as he glances between your hands within the boy’s skull and your face. Eventually, he does as you instruct.

You pour a portion of the hot water into a new container, and then dump the entirety of the stained salt that the Devan brought you. To this saturated brine, you soak a fresh cloth and then place that onto the boy’s opened wound in order to drain the area of excess water.

The Devan mother shrieks and moans from her labor pains, snapping you back into the greater situation at hand. A handful of the crowd discuss what position would be best for delivering the baby.

“Don’t move her yet.” You sternly warn the Devan crowding around her in curiosity. “I’ll need some of you to look after Hraska while he recovers, and this boy when I’m finished…”

Suddenly, a plan occurs to you in order to have a better chance of hiding your magic usage on the boy.

You wipe your brow and decide to take a gentler tone. “Please. I know all you want to do is help them, but there will be plenty of time for that after I’m done. They’ll need to be watched carefully for a few days. So those of you who aren’t watching them now should rest. You’ll need it.”

“Ye heard her.” The foreman singles out a young Devan standing idly by. “You watch Hraska and check he alright. Rest of you, get out of the way! Go to your cots.”

Meekly, the Devan do as the foreman instructs and settle on their cots.

Removing the bloodied cloth reveals that much of the swelling has been relieved by the drainage of the excess water. This is essentially as far as you can go without the use of magic. The membrane underneath and the skull are far too damaged to heal on their own.

After painstakingly replacing what you chipped apart, you turn to Nento. “We still have more patients after this, so drain and replace the water now. I’ll keep him steady.”

“U-understood, Madam.” Nento takes the container of lukewarm water away from the sleeping quarters.

You subtly gaze around you before dipping down to retrieve your staff. With it in hand, you slowly pull the hot metal container housing the fire even closer while evoking an extensive spell of Healing light. The area around the fire brightens, but not to an excessive degree. At this time, your focus is devoted entirely to the complex channeling of your mana into the right areas of his injury, while you can only hope that you’ve done enough to hide your casting. Several seconds pass before you finish, and you settle the metal container back down with fingers tingling painfully from the sudden warmth.

The skull and the membrane underneath have recovered well with your extensive use of magic. Any complications will be cosmetic and hidden by his hair.

Before Nento has the time to return, you heat the rasp red hot, and then cauterize his skin flap closed. The air stinks of burning hair, but the procedure is finally done.

Your hands shake from the fatigue of hours of meticulous surgery, but you’re not finished yet.

You begin to drag your tools over to the mother's cot when the foreman rising out his own catches your eyes.

"Right. Time to do help." He jumps out of his cot and starts hobbling toward you. "I think child is mine, so I help n-" He stops suddenly and clutches his leg as a spurt of blood shoots forth and lands on your shoes. A fearsome bellow of pain reverberates throughout the sleeping quarters as blood pours forth from his thigh.

Everyone in the room goes silent before screaming frantically.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 7
MP: 15

The puncture wound on the foreman's leg has torn open even wider. He will require immediate aid if he is to survive. Cauterization will close the wound, but you're not sure how extensively he has aggravated it. This type of injury is well suited for your healing magic, but you'll be able to hide its usage with everyone staring at you so intently.

>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.

>Use a healing light spell to close the wound (MP Cost: 6).

>Have someone else cauterize the wound while you move on to the mother.

>Write in.
>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
Spurting blood indicates artery has been cut....Which is VERY life threatening and needs to be attended to immediately.
I hope his stupidity isn't contagious.
>Use a healing light spell to close the wound (MP Cost: 6).
>>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
machismo got him in, machismo will get him out
hope he likes pain - the delivery and healing of the mother will certainly be difficult enough to need more than 9 MP, I think.
Hey everyone, thank you for your votes so far. I'll leave the vote open for another hour before tallying. See you again soon!
>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
Rolled 4, 3 = 7 (2d10)

The close quarters and stagnant air would make contagious stupidity especially dangerous.
If he likes pain, he will certainly have his fill soon.

Proceeding with a cauterization of his wound to conserve MP for the mother.

A straightforward procedure, but the circumstances have been made dire due to his impatience.

>Rolling 2d10 for the cauterization of the leg wound. (CR 10)
There will be serious complications to say the least.

>Writing outcome!
File: sur4.png (1.18 MB, 1028x501)
1.18 MB
1.18 MB PNG
You understand these Devan and how they’ve been shaped by the unfortunate hand that fate has dealt them for centuries now. Their ancestors, and those in this room have suffered, truly. Between the lives of ceaseless servitude, the bitter cold, withering starvation, and their injuries and sicknesses you understand why they act as they do. When their kin are piled in cold and empty rooms because weather has made burial impossible, you understand their hysterical fear of death looming only around the corner.

Your time here has made you keenly aware of the severe troubles they must face every day, you understand. Standing at the center of it all and desperately trying to steer some of their fates away from that ghastly tomb, you understand.

You understand, but you don’t have the time to be sympathetic.

“All you needed to do was wait.” Your cold words are unheard in the clamor, but as you give your commands as you hurriedly retrieve the cord used for the amputation the panicked shouts become shocked murmurs. “Nento, heat the rasp.”

There’s no way to get him back on the cot now, so this will have to be done on the ground. You immediately straddle his writhing torso and begin winding the cord taut around his leg to restrict the blood shooting out from his wound. He groans as he twists in a pool his own blood. Your hands are soaked by the time you finally manage to secure the tourniquet. You get up to pull the cot closer and elevate his wounded leg upon it.

He weakly sits up and tries to move away from the cot, but you force him down with a foot to his chest. “All you needed to do was listen to me. I will take care of this.” You accept the searing hot rasp and signal for Nento to pin down the foreman’s shoulders. “I will take care of everything. I will.” You secure his leg between yours.

In two fluid motions, you roughly extract the shard of wood and immediately replace it with burning metal. The sound and smell of burning meat fill the sleeping quarters. The foreman no longer has the strength to resist both you and Nento locking him in place and can only moan as his workers look on in shock.

The rough and rushed nature of the cauterization causes muscle and tendon surrounding the wound to be scorched as well. All you manage is to roughly work the rasp out, burning the tissue together as you exit the leg. With the rushed execution of this procedure, he won’t be able to walk on this leg without support any more in his life.

With one final press on the skin, the wound is closed, and you drop the rasp to the ground. “Pull him onto the cot and dress his wound.” You’re too weary to direct your order to anyone specific, but it’s still carried out regardless.
File: sur5.jpg (21 KB, 338x400)
21 KB

Finally, after many hours of delicate surgery and the sudden indelicate procedure, you can turn your attention to the pregnant mother.

The older Devan that you spotted comforting her earlier gingerly begins to reposition the mother as you approach. The mother is absorbed in a trance of pain to the rhythmic contractions of her body. She hardly notices being moved or your approach.

You nod your thanks before settling onto the soaked cot to begin your inspection. The amnion has already broken and spilled its fluid, but first you take to inspecting the wound to her lower abdomen. A stinking gory red opening greets you as you remove the blood saturated cloth from the site. The jagged path the shard of wood sliced through her body started shallowly and well above her navel. However, as it carved downwards, it also dug deeper settling into the lower pit of her abdomen, piercing through intestine to finally implanting itself deep into her womb.

You grimace as the entire wound leaks forth a mixture of blood and digested matter, but that’s only one facet to this problem.

The surface of her genitals is covered with a mixture of mucus and blood which you wipe away to reveal a sore and hemorrhoid covered perineum. A concerning steady stream of blood leaks forth from her and soaks steadily into the cot underneath. The blood is far more than you would normally expect even for a delivery. You heavily suspect that the child is contributing to this flow.

Her body is already caught in the reflexive act of extruding the child from her body. It won’t be able to stop until the child has been birthed naturally or otherwise. Otherwise would mean cutting further into the mother and removing the child in that manner, which would allow you to attend to any of the child’s injuries much quicker. Your healing magic is the only method tending to injury that you will allow for a newborn in these conditions. However, adding another injury to the mother will greatly lower her chances of survival. Which means that without a mother, the newborn would almost certainly perish if a willing wet nurse could not be found.

"Please..."The mother moans weakly from her daze as if sensing your dilemma. "Save baby. Please..."


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 5
MP: 15

The lives of the mother and the baby are deeply intertwined, but both are tipping toward death with each passing second. Given their injuries, magic will be a necessity for either of them to have a decent chance to survive, but it's by no means a guarantee. As you will not be able to hide your magic usage as a result of surgery, usage will be detected at this point.

Pick one of the following choices:

>Have the mother give birth naturally.

>Cut into the mother to deliver the baby faster.

>Write in.

Also indicate how your mana will be used, if at all

>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.

>Use magic during the procedure (spell usage and targets)

>Write in
It looks like the only practical options are letting the baby die or turning everything at full blast.

Screwit, I'm gonna go full power. We're all in the same "don't really have a god" boat here

>Cut into the mother to deliver the baby faster.
If we seal the wound with magic as soon as the baby's out, that's better on the mother than several minutes of exertion with a goddamn wooden stake.

As for the baby....I couldn't hope to know what kind of healing can save a prenatal injury. The only saving grace is that any damage that CAN be undone should be, with how quickly babies heal. Magic and hopefully sufficient nutrition will do.
>>Have the mother give birth naturally.
>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.
Heyo everyone, I hope that all your weekends are off to a good start. Posting on my way into work (offsite, luckily only for a few hours) to say that I’m going to leave the vote open until I get back home in about 4-5 hours.

See you then!
>Have the mother give birth naturally.
>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.
Rolled 1, 9, 8, 6 = 24 (4d10)

Heyo everyone, back at home and ready for the tally.

Proceeding without the use of magic in order to ensure that our powers remain hidden for our continued investigation, and having the mother deliver naturally.

Meaning that any injuries to the mother and child will have to be treated with the tools at hand, which limits their odds. But...

>Rolling 4d10 for the mother and child.

The first two dice correspond to the mother. (CR 13)
The last two dice correspond to her child. (CR 17)
>Writing outcome.
wtf lmao
why is elewyn not using the rest of her magic on her last patient??
Rip. The one place where the rolls are decent

Because you didn't vote?
Valid question. Storywise, the reason Elewyn would want to avoid using magic is that it will attract unwanted attention to herself during her extended investigation. As the Sanctuary is potentially tied to the disappearances (and worse) of Elin in the capital, word of her usage of magic getting around could jeopardize both the investigation and her safety.

The rolls have been rough for this chapter so far, truly.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your Sunday is going well and that you're all able to relax to your heart's content. I just noticed that it's been about three months since I started the quest, so I'll take the opportunity to thank you all for your readership and participation in this quest! I've enjoyed myself, and I'm eager to continue writing with you all.

Anyway, update in about an hour!
You must remember what you set out to accomplish in the first place, and the role that the Devan play. Ingratiating yourself with them by playing nurse was always in service of your investigation into the Sanctuary. Overreaching with magic usage and getting caught would jeopardize all of that. It would jeopardize the lives of so many of your kin that rest upon your shoulders alone. You must remember this.

Yet, with the sight of the mother feebly curled up in horrible pain, begging for you to save her child, remorse digs into your chest like a sharp stone.

The hours that followed blurred together like a horrid nightmare. You resolved to try all that you could to help the mother and the child make it through the ordeal without the use of your healing magic. There would be no cauterization or anything of the like to disguise you mending their wounds with magic if you did. Hours went by with your clenched hand deep within the mother’s wound to staunch the bleeding. You felt her heartbeat rise and fall with every contraction, instructed her again and again not to curl her body in order to facilitate the delivery, and watched as she could no longer respond to your words and her head settled weakly into older Devan’s lap.

Her body relentlessly continued to work the child free with wave after wave of tightening muscle. She winced in pain and murmured soft comforting words to the child she not yet had in her hands.

Finally, in the present moment, you prepare to receive the child into your hands. An emaciated, light frame slides into your grasp drenched in mucus and blood. She gasps at the cold cruel world she has been forced into as you do your best to clear her face of the fluids that came with her. Shrill and weak cries fill the silent room.

A steady stream of the child’s blood leaks onto your hands from a deep puncture wound in her chest.

Feeling the tug on the cord connecting her to her daughter the mother opens her eyes once again. She reaches blindly into the air, and once you’ve wrapped the child a cloth you hand her off to her mother.

With your help, she carefully brings her daughter close to her chest and affectionately gazes upon her child’s pinched face. The cries grow weaker as the mother softly strokes her child’s cheek again, and again, and again.

“B-beautiful. I…name her after my mother. Her name is… Her name is…” Her clouded eyes never part from the visage of her daughter.

Blood drips slowly from the tips of your fingers onto the cold ground as you blankly watch the older Devan embrace the deceased mother and child. Murmurs and soft crying eventually rise from the surrounding Devan as the minutes pass.

Eventually Nento hobbles over to you and places a hand on your shoulder. “You do all you can, madam. Is the will of the gods.”
File: sno11.jpg (177 KB, 1024x599)
177 KB
177 KB JPG

Will of the gods?

Silently, you walk away. The high and wet snow crunches under your feet as you find yourself outside in the slowly calming storm. The departing winds still howl and buffet your body from many different directions. Buildings far off in the distance are still invisible beyond rough sleet. You know of the warm smoke that billows from their tops, a sign their inhabitants are kept warm throughout the brutal weather. The Devan are not permitted to leave their barrack unless for work, so their domicile might as well be on an island during such storms.

You managed to keep death away from three of the Devan in this barrack. Objectively speaking you’ve done well to curry their favor. Extracting information from those that still live will be much easier now, but for those that join the pile of Devan corpses on those altars…

You fall to your knees from fatigue. Your empty stomach twists painfully causing you to violently retch as your fingers painfully dig into the frigid ground. Minutes pass with the repated urge to vomit reaching a peak and you gagging nothing but spittle onto the ground.

The waves pass, but the storm remains. You rise to your feet clutching your stinging fingers in order to regain warmth in the deep red extremities. In time, you find yourself back in the sleeping quarters where the Devan quietly eye your return.

You retrieve your staff and bring it to where you keep your pack on the fringe of the room. The wailing wind still blows behind you through the many cracks in the dilapidated windows as you settle onto the ground with your pack for support. You tightly clutch your staff in your arms as you slowly drift into a light and unrestful sleep.
File: ld0.png (3.04 MB, 1365x861)
3.04 MB
3.04 MB PNG


It’s warm now, but also wet. A pulsing noise like blood flowing through a network of arteries, only, all around you.

You open your eyes and gaze upon the unfathomable landscape around you.

Towers of flesh and oceans of viscera surround you, throbbing, quivering, oozing, and awash in infinite shades of reds, pinks, whites, and greens. Your hands squelch into a floor of offal with dark bile overflowing onto your skin. As you stand, you witness the impossible amalgamations of meat crafted in impossible shapes rhythmically clench and relax. It is much the same in every direction of this vast body that comprises this terrifying world.

An entire tangible realm seemingly connected as one fleshy entity.

This must be a dream in which your imagination has deigned to torture even your sleep with images of gore. Yet, the world around you is warm. Even the tips of your fingers and toes no longer know the bitter cold that you’ve struggled against for the past days. You hear not the murmurs of sick Devan, but only the throbbing flow of immeasurable fluid.

Your reality should bleed into the bizarre sight. The lucidity with which you perceive the sights, smells, and sounds around you is much like being awake.

Then suddenly, a new sound startles you.

A serene song. Comforting, eerie, warm, chilling. An unintelligible song sang by unknown girl’s voice in the distance and fills your core with incompatible emotions. Your chest heaves with anxious energy with every note.

It calls out to you.

>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.

>Follow the song and find its source.

>Write in
>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.
Walk away from the madness, no matter how comforting.
There's got to be a better way to find out more information than taking sanity damage.
At least, we interrogate the other Devan if they've had similar dreams.
>>Follow the song and find its source.
Going to keep this vote open for a while longer to try to avoid the tie
>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.
this is the god of the devan? Or something else.

Trying to remember the song might be helpful for getting information, but I don't know if Elewyn can pull it off.
Ignoring the song and waking up. After awakening we'll try to remember the song and probe if the Devans have experienced something similar.

Heyo everyone, here we are at another start of the work week, but they are numbered for me this year with winter holiday coming up, thankfully. It will allow me to focus more time on the quest, which is great since I'm excited for the potential upcoming story events.

I'm also messing around with the idea of a side story for around Christmas. Something (probably chronologically in the past.) to flesh out the world and a few of the characters a little bit more. More details to come.

Anyway, still writing the update, but I should have it up in about 90 minutes!
The nature of the song is deeply unsettling with how it simultaneously compels you forward and yet makes you uneasy to take a single step. Your instinct and experience both tell you to ignore the beckoning and try to wake from this living flesh realm.

You don’t know how long it took you to awaken from that place. As you remained still, the sensation of the song transformed as if reacting to your reluctance. The notes took on a more frantic and melancholic wail as you slowly faded away from that realm. As if falling asleep your sensations became indistinct and blurred until only the mesmeric song remained. The disquieting melody is committed to your memory as well as the two intelligible words the singing voice left you with.


You shudder awake in the Devan worker’s barrack. With the commotion of the surgeries behind them, most have taken to sleeping in huddled pairs on the broken and soiled cots. It takes time before the heaviness of your eyes and body have dissipated enough for you to rise to your feet. Your rear end and neck ache deeply, and your fingers unravel painfully from the clenched state they were in around your staff. Once your fingers open, you place the staff down gently near your pack and observe the Devan in the room.

You thoroughly check if anyone else awakens in the same startled manner you did from the surreal flesh world you witnessed. Those awake lie in languid poses and those who sleep appear indistinguishable from how they would rest normally. You move on to checking those you healed earlier.

Your patients, save the mother and her child, all recover in the cots that you had left them in. On the bloodied cot lie two other sick Devan trying to rest from their own ailments. They pay no mind to the tragic events that occurred on that same cot if it means not having to sleep on the freezing cold ground.

After confirming the stable condition of the three that you saved, you search for Nento and after not finding him within the sleeping quarters, you venture back to profaned place of worship to search for him.

You find him near the entrance, peering towards the dimly lit distance. He silently watches as the older Devan that held the mother throughout her delivery gently lays her body at the foot of the main altar. In her final repose, she holds her daughter in her arms seemingly never having let go since you first placed the child in her arms.

Nento turns as you approach and gives you a stiff bow. “He was child’s real father, madam” He informs you quietly as you gaze at the older Devan who hangs his head over the mother and child. “Boss takes all woman he want. Fight him, and you get in trouble with humans. He knows this…” A note of resentment tinges the last words.

An unusual amount of power for someone in his position to wield.

You cross your arms to help keep warm in this frigid tomb. “What would those in charge stand to gain from protecting such loathsome actions?”

Nento rubs his hands together in slow and deliberate swipes. “Is not right for us to ask questions like that. Is not safe neither.”

“Not safe.” You repeat flatly while gesturing to the piles of his dead kin surrounding you two. “You mean to say that there’s something more dangerous than what’s happened here?”

Nento eyes you cautiously as if trying to glean something out of your own expression. “Is all the same…Everything is connected.” He shakes his head fervently as if scared to speak any further.

Inarticulate as he may be, he knows how to measure his words. He also hints at something more grave than the ever-growing pile of Devan stretching before you.

Wordlessly, the older Devan finishes his short vigil and trudges out of the frigid hall lest the cold take him as well. He does manage a solemn nod of acknowledgement toward you as he exits to indicate his tacit gratitude for your attempt to save the lives of the mother and her daughter.

Another approach may be necessary to probe what Nento knows.

Once the older Devan is fully gone from the hall, you speak up again. “How long has it been since the end of the delivery?”

“Hour, madam. Maybe less.” After answering he steps forward to the congealed pool of blood that formed in the recessed ground and stoops over slowly. He slides his weathered fingers across the surface and then stares at his hand. “Storm pass. Is warmer a little.” He wearily shows you the dilute red stains on his fingers with dread in his voice.

You stoop over and mimic his actions to talk to him on his level. “You don’t sound very pleased with the storm departing. Something worse coming?”

You see a flash of a smile on his face as he stares at the blood on your pale hand.

His expression quickly hardens. “You ask dangerous things, madam.” Nento shakes his head gravely. “I don't know why you here, but you need to leave. Soon, you need to leave. For your safety, madam. More danger than just storms."

His reluctance and vagueness is much the same that you've encountered when you first spoke to him. Yet, there seems to be more now that he's willing to share. He seems more talkative now after he witnessed the surgeries you performed on his kin. What is the danger that he portends to, and how do you get him to speak about it?

>Appeal to him by stating that since you've help his kin just now, you can help with the danger he fears.

>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.

>Write in
ah well...shame.
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.
the devan tend to servility...Elewyn's help is mostly effective. he's seen that. there's no need to hammer him with that. what he needs is impetus
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.

Alternatively, if we claim we're stuck in the area for a different reason, we can ask for his help in avoiding vague "danger" for the limited time we are around.

If hearing that we're not sticking around long, he says we don't need more info, we can at least ascertain that whatever he thinks is dangerous is only worrysome for longer-term residents of this area. Or, best case, he is willing to give us a little more info on what to avoid, and thus where we should start looking.

Or hell, if he's saying to leave, does he mean leave the Devan quarters, or to leave the whole damn province and don't stop running? Specifics, Nento, SOMETHING to help the one who saved the lives of a few of your people, at least enough to have her avoid whatever fate you fear.
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.
Prodding him to talk by appealing to his sense of servility and fear. Also, trying to ascertain the specifics of the danger he refers to by telling him we aren't planning on staying long.

I was going to probe that it might be too late to run: that you heard a song.
Update to come sometime in the morning (US time), but I am making sure to include this in probing questions. Until then!
Heyo everyone, update in about 30 minutes!

You sense that while he wants to obey your questions, fear is what’s keeping him from sharing more about this danger that he refers to. You must make him realize that hiding from it is truly dangerous, and obeying it is even worse. You must make him picture the consequences forced upon himself. With this and the right type of probing questions you know that you could extract more information.

You steel your eyes on the piles of dead in front of you. “The danger is right there, Nento. How many of them didn’t ask dangerous questions? How many of them did only as they were told?”

His face twitches with thought at your words. “Don’t know but…They need us work. They still need us help. If we do that we safe.”

There are parallels between his attitude and those shared by the Elin, that believe they can simply hide in the forest forever to escape danger. Both of your kind are being killed for the sake of some atrocious plan, or plans… You must understand what’s happening in this town in order to someday put a stop to it all.

You prod him further. “Then what happens when they no longer have a need for your help? What would be your fate be then, Nento? What would happen to you?” You stand and wipe the thawing blood off your hand. “If those you fear are willing to let this happen to so many of your kin, they won’t hesitate for you, no matter how obedient you are.” You reach out to help pull him to his feet. “You’ve seen me help, and I can help even more. I only need answers and a few days.”

He shakes his head even more vigorously than before, ignoring your outstretched hand. “Day, hour, minute, it don’t matter. Coming is too long. Being with us…helping us is too much. They know. They know too much. Every dead body in here, they know, every one. Won’t even let us burn dead. If someone does…bad things. Very bad things.”

Ah, something to latch onto. Those in charge of these Devan were content to leave them to die in droves in this storm, wither away from the famine, let them perish in anguish from their injuries, and yet they bother to count the bodies? They want the corpses of slaves intact?

You pull your hand back for the moment and gaze upon the piles of dead once again. “You would normally burn your dead? Is that the custom that the Devan follow?”

“Custom we follow, yes madam.” He lets his hands hang feebly onto the frozen sheet of blood. “Many months we not allowed to do anymore.”

You knew that the Devan were using this place of worship as storage for their dead during the extensive storm, but you never knew they weren’t allowed to handle their dead as they wished.

“Then what will happen to all of these bodies, Nento?” You step closer to him to loom over his crouched form. “Tell me what will happen to the mother and child I tried to save.”

His bloodshot eyes meet with your own and he can’t hold your gaze for longer than a short moment. “D-don’t know, madam. They take them away. Use other Devan to move them.”

You lean forward and ask coldly. “Who are they?”

He shrinks away from your approach. “Don’t know, madam. You humans look same to me.”

As always, it’s wise to hide the fact that you’re an Elin unless you deem otherwise necessary. The cloth hood that’s part of your outfit does well to hide your animal ears.

You press quickly, ensuring that his impetus to speak continues. “Then where do these humans have your kins’ bodies taken?”

His hands clench tightly around his knees, and he remains silent.

You place your hand on his hard shoulder. “Nento, are they taken to the Sanctuary?”

He shivers and twitches for many moments before he finally slowly nods.

You gently grip his shoulder. “Nento, tell me where the Sanctuary is located.”

His shoulders hunch and his whole body tightens as he slowly shakes his head. “Don’t know, madam. I’ve never seen it.”
File: dak4.jpg (121 KB, 880x320)
121 KB
121 KB JPG

You let go of his shoulder and sigh. That’s enough for now. At the very least you have a lead on how to locate the Sanctuary. You need only follow the corpses where they're taken, and avoid detection, lest you join the pile. Given the acts of body mutilation you have witnessed from their organization, it’s not surprising that they may desire carcasses. But the frustrating question that you can only imagine the answer at this time is why?

For now, you will turn your attention to those of whom you saved with surgery. Their perspectives will hopefully provide different insight to your questions.

“Thank you for helping me, Nento.” You extend your hand once again. “You should return to the sleeping quarters. It’s far too cold here to linger any longer.”

He reluctantly takes your hand and allows you to help him rise to his feet. After bowing, he begins to head back ahead of you.

“One last thing…” You call out to him after calculating a way to probe about the fleshy world you witnessed. “Do you dream, Nento?”

He pauses, clearly trying to process the meaning of your question before answering. “Yes, madam. I dream of food.”

“And do you have nightmares, Nento?” You ask carefully watching his body, his expression.

This time he answers without hesitation. “Awake is nightmare enough for us Devan, madam.”

He doesn’t seem to give any direct indication related to the strange dream you had. But with his words, you can’t help but be reminded of the Devan that rebelled so long ago. Not for his kind, not for any noble cause, but for himself and the living nightmare he faced. With great and terrible blood magic he terrorized so much of the world and even managed to wage wars against the Federation. Dakuryon was that Devan reborn. His long forgotten actions would be a frightful story for most, but for these Devan with so little to believe in... Perhaps omitting gruesome details would be wise, but it certainly would have less impact.

>Let Nento go on his way.

>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.

>Tell Nento of an altered truth of Dakuryon in order to give him hope of standing on his own.

>Write in.
Alright, so if people come to pick up the bodies at some point, following them could be one way.
As for Nento....
>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
Is it better die trying to make a better life, or live in this waking nightmare. The choice is yours to make.
>>>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
>>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
What could telling a false truth do? No, if Elewyn means to inject steel into Nento's spine, then she must use steel, not rust.
Today was an especially long and spicy day at work, but I'm back home now. Let's tally this vote:

Trying to foment the will to rebel within the Devan.

Heyo everyone, I hope you're all doing well stuck in the middle of the work week.

I was thinking more about the side story idea I mentioned in this post. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the past chronologically depending on the character(s) we focus on. Regardless, I intend to have the events be canonical.

For example, an Aloé, Philia, or Ruby holiday side story could occur around the same time of the events in the main story. (Featured in its own thread to avoid potential confusion.) My goals are to provide additional perspective to the events currently happening in the story from a more relaxed situation, and to have lighthearted scenes aplenty. I will probably make a poll when the potential stories get more fleshed out.

Still thinking about the implementation, but from now until then, if you have any suggestions or questions, I'd be happy to hear them.

Anyway, update coming up in about one hour!
File: dem3.jpg (72 KB, 520x472)
72 KB

You pity the Devan for their forced servility, but you also resent the possibility that their subjugation could be used for your own kin. This enthrallment is a vision of a future that you must quash before it metastasizes. You must embolden them now with only the truth. To use anything short of the truth would be a futile act for such a hopeless cause.

“The Devan have lived in such a nightmare for as long as you remember. Is that not true, Nento?” You pause for a moment to allow him to reflect on your question. “It almost makes rebellion seem like an impossibility. But only almost, Nento.”

“B-but, madam-“ He stammers, clearly fearful of what you’re implying. “Any Devan that fight back is hurt real bad, worse sometimes…”

“I’m aware Nento, but listen to my words carefully.” You cross your arms as you dig from memory the related history of Dakuryon, and perhaps even more than him. “No order you fulfill, no amount of bowing, no amount of sacrifice will ever be sufficient. The sufficiency your masters desire is unobtainable for your kin. It’s impossible. Not almost, but fully and abundantly impossible.”
His attention remains, but his expression has hints of anger within. Perhaps there’s something within him to hearten after all.

You step toward the pool of thawing blood. “For most of the history of your kind, this has been the case, Nento. Trust me. However… There was a time that a lowly Devan slave rebelled, and rose to such heights that he commanded armies, he commanded fear, he commanded power, Nento.” You stoop down and scrape a layer of the crimson fluid off the surface. “Blood was his power, Nento. With it he shaped the flesh of his masters, the flesh of humans, the flesh of anyone that dared oppose him into his own twisted soldiers. Tens of thousands fell to his powers. His will shaped the course of history and seemed almost impossible to stop. But once he was just like you. He only seized opportunity when he saw it.”

The demokron flesh soldiers he developed with his magic were as fearsome as they were inspiring. The abhorrent sights of their bloated and distorted forms, their inhuman screams, and their ferocity still linger in your memory centuries later. He reshaped flesh like no one ever has, and with it reshaped his destiny.

You quickly flick the blood off your hand and stand. “Dakuryon was the name he took for himself. No one remembers his slave name.”

His gaze is fixed upon the pool of blood at your feet, confusion and intrigue wash over his face. “Why we never heard of such Devan? What happen to him?”

You smirk as you approach him. “It wouldn’t be prudent to tell slaves stories of rebellion. As to what happened to him…”

You and Noire annihilated his body and forcefully dominated his magic into captivity.

“He became too much like his former masters and allowed power to blind him to those he thought were beneath him.” You smile gently as you pass him. “This isn’t an order of any sort, Nento. Only a reminder that opportunities present themselves for those that have the will to act upon them, and waking nightmares can end… Let’s head back.”

You certainly don’t expect change to occur overnight, but perhaps you’ve planted the seeds of dangerous ideas. Ideas that may be used to assist your own goals.


Upon your return to the sleeping quarters, you find that while the young boy still rests from his surgery, both the foreman and the amputee, Hraska, have awoken and are lucid enough to talk with. Recalling what Nento mentioned about the foreman’s impunity, you turn your attention to him first.

“Ah, it’s little nurse.” The foreman weakly looks up from his supine rest. “Too bad you not able to help mother and baby.” He groans as he sits up more. “You try.”

You stare at him flatly. “You don’t seem to upset about their passing. I thought you said that you were the child’s father.”

He laughs arrogantly. “I father of many children. I very fertile and very good…If you want I tell them leave and you and I- HAUHGH”

You give his cauterization wound a quick flick to cut him off. “It’s a good sign that you can still sense pain in the leg. It might recover enough to be able to walk on it someday. With assistance, of course.”

He sneers at you as the pain passes. “You lucky I no can walk. But…” He chuckles to himself. “Sometimes is more fun when they fight back.”

Certainly not the worst you’ve had to deal with in recent memory, but you’re already losing patience with this vulgar Devan.

Unfazed, you cross your arms. “You’re lucky that you’re even alive. I instructed you to remain still until I could attend to you. Even you should be able to see how foolish your actions were.”

He grumbles uneasily as he shrinks back to lying supine. “Hnn… Sometime you need to do what you need to do.”

What a peculiar answer. You’re unsure what he means by it, but you need to continue the questioning, so you don’t dwell on it for now. You begin probing what his role with the Sanctuary entails.

Your eyebrows raise skeptically. “How do you suppose you will work now with a heavily injured leg? How will you do what you need to do?”

“Important Devan don’t need work like other stupid Devan. Important Devan only need to tell what work to do, and watch make sure Devan do what they supposed to do.” He motions at all the resting Devan around you.

“Important Devan? What could possibly make one Devan more important than another?” You goad.

“Important human!” He answers confidently. “More important than little nurse lady. Big, important people from big human city pick best Devan to be important. Pick me!” He thumps his chest for emphasis.

“From Velika?” You ask immediately, caught up in the revelation. "

“Of course!” He answers proudly. “I-I never meet them, but human from here tell me so.”

Your heart skips a beat as you find yet another connection to what’s happening to your kin in Velika and whatever this Sanctuary is trying to accomplish here in Impel.

He eyes you carefully. “Hnnn… The way you so happy to cut and get blood and guts on your hands, I was think that you worked for the bosses. But you act different from what I seen. Why you come here…?”

You calmly return his stare. You didn't anticipate that any one of these Devan would be as knowledgeable about who's those in command. It's beneficial in the information he carries, but also risky in that he's well aware in how they normally carry themselves and could direct unwanted attention your way. How will you respond?

>Deride his claims of being important since he's not aware of why you're there.

>Dig into his wound again to remind him of his place.

>Write in
>>Deride his claims of being important since he's not aware of why you're there.
Keeping the vote open to hopefully get a couple more in before I tally. I'll check in periodically tonight
>Dig into his wound again to remind him of his place.
He works for a bully and is expecting a bully, and Elewyn hasn't been domineering at all.
>Flip it back on him
>Is everyone dying in the cold like this also what he needs to do?
>Dig into his wound again to remind him of his place.
Heyo everyone, I hope your days are going well wherever you are!

Digging into his wound to stop his impudence and:

Probing this question with the same attitude. (Since it can be synthesized.)

Finally back home, so I can start wrapping up the update. Hope to have it up in about an hour-90 min!

The more you learn of these agents of the Sanctuary, the more you realize that the guise of authority you’ve taken on for this interrogation is far too lenient, too calm. You’ve allowed to much of his impudence to go unpunished. He's far too loyal a slave to appeal to any desire of independence. If this simple Devan expects a domineering yank on his leash instead, then so be it.

With his raw purple wound pinched between two fingers, you forcibly pull him closer. “You’re awfully full of yourself for someone so vulnerable, so lowly. Who are you to Ask. Me. Questions.” You twist his wound harder and harder with each word, causing him to howl in pain.

In his torment, he instinctively raises his hand as if to strike.

You smirk at him and lean in closer and over him. Close enough that your hair hangs onto his face. “Dare touch me with that and I’ll remove it in the same way I did Hraska’s diseased hand…” You whisper spitefully then ease off the twisting after he finally lowers his arm. You sigh and pull back. “I tried to be civil with you. I tried to be polite with you. I even tried to keep too many of your workers from perishing, and yet you have the insolence to question my being here. You have the insolence to call me “little lady.” You have the insolence…to forget your place!”

You jab a finger into his throat to lay him flat on the cot. “Perhaps my small stature has made you forget your place. But, I assure you that you underestimate me at your own peril. Apologize. Call me madam and beg for forgiveness. Then I may stop!” You quickly hop onto the cot and callously dig a knee into his chest. One hand slices into his wound between your nails as the other pushes roughly into his neck

He body writhes and twists as he struggles to speak. “P-p-please, madam. I sorry! I so sorry! Mercy! Please, madam!”

You callously push a thumb against his windpipe, feeling his entire throat tense, as you choose not to ease on harming his leg wound. With time, his pained gasps and spasms grow weaker as his face reddens deeply. Finally, only after he can only weakly plead with his eyes do you relent. “Ahhh, you’re fortunate that I have a little mercy left to give.”
You’re satisfied with the punishment you’ve inflicted upon this Devan for the moment, but you’re certainly not opposed to continuing if the need arises.

After a long fit of hacking coughs, he regains his breath and eventually bows his head silently. It seems that you’ve cowed his attitude to what he must assume for his true masters. To finish off, you’ll carefully probe him about the other lead you’ve learned about, that is, what desire does the Sanctuary have for the Devan corpses. He will know something given how many of his own workers have perished.

After scooting back to the edge of his cot and you cross your arms and stare coldly at the foreman. “One last question for the big and important Devan.” You motion to the hallway leading to where the bodies are stored. “Now that the storm is dissipating, the bodies in the altar room are going to slowly begin to warm up. Tell me that you actually have a plan to take care of them before they begin to rot.”

He clutches his throat as he nods dutifully. “Y-yes, madam. I no lose the bodies that were asked for. Other foreman send his workers to come and scoop bodies soon. Healthy and strong workers, madam.”

“When? I want to be sure that you won’t let these bodies go to ruin before they can be processed.” You borrow a term that you recall the slavers used in the Tulufan incident.

He’s quick to answer. “They come after sun is down again. Keep town humans from seeing like we told, madam.”

Once again, you see that Sanctuary is heavily invested in remaining in the good graces of the human townsfolk of Impel, all the while using the Devan workers toward some nefarious end. The fruitless questioning of the humans in town is what lead you here, as all they seemed to know was some relief rations were being sponsored by the Sanctuary with the promise of more to come. Regardless, the sun has yet to rise. The bodies will be moved in more than half a days’ time. For now, you won’t chance asking him why the bodies are needed in the first place. Perhaps the food smuggler could provide the insight for that question.

You nod and hop off the edge of his cot. “Satisfactory, I suppose.” You give his wound one last thump, causing him the jerk in pain. “Do not disappoint us, foreman.”
File: sur8.png (130 KB, 838x555)
130 KB
130 KB PNG

With a bit of satisfaction in your stride, you finally head to the last Devan you can question at this time.

You eye the stained and ruined cots as you pass by and have the thought that they never came close to providing enough for the Devan that are still alive, let alone those whose bodies are stacked in the other room. Filthy and broken as they are, the cots still allow them to dream of something better, now the fight over and cram into the precious few. Shaking your head, you continue onto the smuggler.

He very wearily looks at you with a pained expression. “W-what happen to me pretty nurse lady? I not remember anything, but…” He strains to hold up the stump where the diseased hand formally was attached. “T-this not gone, right? What happened?”

You settle at the foot of his cot and contemplate for a moment about how to emotionally deliver your answers and your eventual questions. Considering that he’s smuggling to the Devan vital food, likely taken illegitimately from the Sanctuary, his loyalties lie with his kin over his masters. Even more, he’s acted despite the risk of serious consequences. You settle on assuming a more relaxed tone, unless he gives you reason to change.

“It is gone. It’s gone because it needed to go, Hraska.” You explain gently. “Try to remember as much you can before you came here. Did you get caught in the storm?”

“S-storm…” He winces as his head twists left and right, doing his best to recall. “Unnh, yes. Storm. I run through… I run to…here. Escape. My hand was…” He shudders at the memory.

Escape? Was he caught in the act of stealing? If so, from where, and did it lead to the horrid state of his amputated hand?

“I had to remove your hand, Hraska. I’m sorry, but if I didn’t the infection would’ve costed you more than that.” You quickly eye the wrapped, amputated limb that your feet dangle over. Since you’ve left it there, no one has had the courage to deal with it.

“Ahh…shitfuck” He curses under his breath as he rests his uninjured arm over his eyes. “It gone.”

“Unfortunately, yes.” You linger with him in silence as he processes the thought of losing his arm.

He curses and thrashes at the loss of his hand for a long while before finally calming down and staring furtively at the stained roof above him. “Least I still live…Yes… I alive.” He turns and gazes at you for a moment before staring down at the cot. “Thank you for do it. No one here ever do it. Only you.” He bows his head once more before resting back on the cot once again.

You smile softly at his words. “Your gratitude is appreciated, Hraska.” You're quiet for a moment before you pull strands of hair away from your face. “You made mention of an escape earlier. What happened that you needed to escape from?”

He frantically shakes his head almost immediately. “No. No, no no. Don’t want to talk about what I escape. No.” He wearily covers his eyes again. “No, nurse lady. No.”

While the success of his surgery has left him both grateful and indebted to you, the subject of his escape causes him a great deal of terror. Trauma must have been inflicted upon him in some form. Learning about it would let you know more about what the Sanctuary is willing to inflict on those who disobey, and assume worse for those who oppose it. Perhaps there is an approach that may convince him to talk, but choosing to tax him mentally now may make him less willing to help you later.

>Press the question gently, and assure him that you're only there to help.

>Remind him what he owes you, toss the amputated hand onto the cot.

>Move on from questions about his escape and see what else you may learn about the Sanctuary.

>Write in.
>Press the question gently, and assure him that you're only there to help.
>Remind him that the corpses are going to be picked up, but we can help him pretend to have died or escaped in the storm
>>Press the question gently, and assure him that you're only there to help.
Heyo everyone, happy end of the week. I do hope it's going well for all of you. Thankfully, I get to take the rest of the week off to avoid excessive OT.

For now I'll keep the vote open for ~2 hours, and tally what we have then
>Move on from questions about his escape and see what else you may learn about the Sanctuary.
If he's not budging on this point, we're at least trying to learn generally more about the Sanctuary, and who runs it, rather than exactly how he escaped.
I'd rather not have our only source clam up on us because he didn't want to talk about how he shanked his buddy to run away, or something similar
Continuing to press the question gently, while also suggesting a means to cover his escape.

sanctuary prob feeding devan to the humans, among other things. emergency rations, bodies going gone
Update in about ~30 minutes!

The unknown ordeal of losing his hand has pushed this Devan to fear the Sanctuary, even in memory. This stress coupled with the circumstances he and his kin share has weakened his resolve. You decide that he needs to be coaxed gently into talking and assured the one listening will be able to help.

“It’s alright, Hraska.” You respond softly to his pleas. “What happened must have been horrible and reliving it must also be horrible, truly. Even for someone that has had the courage to face the consequences of smuggling his kin food.” You quickly hold up a hand as he moves to interject. “Don’t worry. I have no intention of reporting you. In fact, I respect what you’re doing. No to mention, it would render the hours of surgery I performed meaningless. Wouldn’t it?” You casually adjust your stockings as you let him reflect upon your words. “Shouldering such burdens takes a lot out of you, doesn’t it?”

His eyes meet yours as you finish asking your question, but he quickly turns away and resumes covering them with his arm. “Yes…”

You lean toward him. “But you decided to shoulder them regardless of how much it costed you. Didn’t you? You couldn’t leave your kin to starve when you could do something to change that. The threat of the weather, the threat of being caught, and the threat of the punishment all were carried by you. Because you could...”

His hand presses more firmly over his eyes as a few hot tears stream down the sides of his face. He can only nod in response.

By observing this Devan you appreciate the fact that they inflicted far more than bodily harm. At first you assumed that the damage to his hand was due to frostbite, but his behavior reminds you of the trauma experienced by soldiers following atrocious battles long lost to history.

You continue to gaze at the Devan shielding his tears from sight. “You and I both know that something strange is happening in this town. This Sanctuary arrives in town and dictates these awful circumstances for your kin, and at the same time offering relief to the humans? There are so many other questions and I aim to unravel everything in order to put a stop to it. Because I can. Perhaps not today nor tomorrow, but someday. But I need your help, Hraska. I need to know what they did to you so that I know better what they are, and what they may try to do to me.”

He remains motionless for a long time such that even his tears have ceased. Only the steady grimacing of his mouth as it lets out strained puffs of fogged breath lets you know he’s still awake. “I.. no want to help anymore. I want to run. I want to run. I want to run...”

Nothing about him seems any more willing to talk about what happened. He’s withdrawn far too much to gain anything out of pressing him further.

You sigh deeply at his response and then stand off his cot. “It’s your decision to make, Hraska. You will have the best chance now, as I can ensure that the foreman reports that you never made it through that storm…”

As you’re about to head away from his cot, he calls out to you one last time. “Th-th” He shakes his head vigorously. “They in town now and act like normal town people. I no see face but is how I got caught. T=they take me different place than bodies. I don’t know where I leave cause of storm. But…But… Don’t go, nurse lady. I see my people die slow from cold and kill cause they work slow but that place worse…Don’t go.” He falls back to the cot and curls into a tight ball. “Don’t go. Don’t go…”


You’ve finally returned to your frigid spot at the edge of the sleeping quarters as you wait for the sun to rise. Every form before you sleeps quietly without one belying the group’s steady slumber. The three you performed surgery on earlier are no exception as you occasionally check on their condition. Their successful surgeries and the long night have garnered you a great deal of new information. In fact, before the bodies are removed from this place, you plan on cautiously taking your investigation back into town with your newfound information. For now you must wait. A quiet moment that reminds you of the time spent in the villa in Tulufan and of the companions you shared that place with... Given your free time, you could write one of them a letter. You'd avoid mentioning your current investigation, to not cause them undue worry. Writing a letter is not overly in your nature, but you imagine some potential recipients would appreciate hearing from you. Others not...

>Write a letter to Ruby.

>Write a letter to Aloé.

>Write a letter to Philia.

>Write a letter to Yuna.

>Perhaps later.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your weekends are off to a good start. Preparation/shopping for the holidays are starting to get hectic, so do be careful out there.

Anyway, no votes coming in means causes me to reflect a bit on the choices I laid out. I think I'll elaborate further that:

>Perhaps later.

Would wrap up this part of Elewyn POV and cause a switch back to Luca POV.

Also, the letters themselves would be an opportunity to learn a bit more about events that took place between these two arcs, and maintain the relationship via communication.

I'll leave the vote open for a while longer, and I'll see from there.
>>Write a letter to Philia.
>>Write a letter to Yuna.
>Write a letter to Yuna.
>>Write a letter to Philia.
Hmm, I was going to decide with a roll, but since they are in the same area we can actually write two shorter letters to each of them.

Thank you for the votes!


Thinking over potential recipients, you reason that Aloé could always be met with in Velika if her schedule permitted. Ruby…you recall hearing word of her venturing to Cutthroat’s Harbor. Mercenary work is plentiful there, but often takes the form of escorting ships for weeks at a time. She would be a tough target to get a hold of, not to mention that the two of you departed on not the best of terms. Your thoughts drift to Yuna and Philia who are taking residence within the forests north of Velika. Philia has done her best over several decades to establish a real settlement for Elin in that dense wilderness, but her efforts have thus far never borne fruit. It hasn’t been for a lack of effort, as you’ve seen over the years that trying to get Elin to remain in one place for an extended time is like trying to bottle the wind. Yet, you wouldn't necessarily have her stop trying. For all the Elin that have crossed her path have left better equipped to survive on their own.

Yuna is a new and greater challenge in that regard. Her vendetta coupled with the inborne desire of almost all Elin to wander means her time hidden among those trees is limited. Her blood magic was developing well last you two met, but there was something foreboding you sensed about the emotion she continues to let rule her power.

From your pack, you retrieve a small phial of ink, a writing implement, and loose parchment that you typically use to document notes during your travels. Most of your writings remain unorganized and stored within your small quarters in Velika. Once long ago, you were implored by the both the human and elven colleges of magic to compile a treatise on mana control and healing magic, but you were enjoying your travels far too much to sit down for weeks and write...Too late to be of any use now, you suppose. You instead turn to the writing of the present.
File: let2.jpg (172 KB, 1400x839)
172 KB
172 KB JPG


I hope that this letter finds you well among the trees, snow, and everything else there is to be seen in snowy trees. I am currently seeking sanctuary during this cold season and trying not to lose my head while I attend to an ever-growing pile of work. But now that winter has truly descended on both of us, the time to pause and reflect on the many frigid facets provided by the season has come. After all, travel is made far more difficult, even walking a few short miles can make one truly appreciate the meaning of shelter, and of having a safe place to return. It’s not until you understand the dangers that exist in this world that you realize the importance of a true refuge and how to obtain it.

Pora Elinu is blessed to have nothing like a true winter. Us Elin are blessed to spend our formative years in the shelter of Pora Elinu, our sacred lake, and the nearby academy. Yet, at some point we all willingly and eagerly chose to venture away from those blessings. Why exactly is a mystery I have not been able to puzzle together in the entirety of my life. Even now, when so many threats lurk in the shadows of tall buildings, trees, or even ourselves, we can’t stop ourselves from venturing out into the cold night. However, stark reality often exceeds colorful metaphor. I recall when we last met you told me that you had planned on taking charge of a few more of our kin that have suffered financial hardships in the city. I do keenly look forward to hearing more about how you’re getting along with them. Keep them warm and well-fed, and I suspect that you will have no issue keeping them throughout this winter, as venturing out into a cold and lonely night is far more romantic until you’ve tried to do so. Teach them well as you always have, and they will at the very least carry a piece of the refuge within them. Also, take care on your new hunting pastime. Even as highly skilled with a bow as you are, you should never underestimate prey when cornered. The most vicious predator and even the furtive fawn both have their tricks to survive.

Right now, I find myself especially deficient in your poetic elocution, so stay safe during this winter, Philia. I will do my best to come visit again, and perhaps if she has the time, bring Aloé along with me such that we can tell you about the winter fashion trends in Velika. I can’t imagine you get your fill where you are now. I will see about what clothing items we can bring as gifts. However, between the fact that you’ve decided to take on more companions and that Aloé and I aren’t blessed with coin, please temper your expectations. Do your best with our willful friend, your new friends, and may we meet again soon so that we can discuss answers to our lifelong questions.

Warm regards,
File: let3.jpg (233 KB, 826x1300)
233 KB
233 KB JPG

You carefully put aside Philia’s letter to allow it to dry, and smile to yourself. Imagining her scrambling to get a handful of young Elin to cook, cut firewood, and shovel snow is such an amusing thought that it makes you wish you could be there to observe it all. But such idyllic scenes are never guaranteed. You’re here to stop those that would tear such lives away from your kin. Similarly, Philia has taken to investigating and hunting the dark fawn that you learned about in Tulufan. Learning of an Elin that would betray her own kind was especially devastating for Philia.

Now for Yuna’s letter…You puzzle over the tone you should take before settling on your usual straightforward manner of speaking with her.


I do hope that I’m not writing this letter for my sake only. However, as I don’t believe that you are one to renege on a deal that you agreed to, I will continue. Currently, I suspect that you’ve made it through a great deal of the primer on blood magic that I brought you, even with the grating self-aggrandizing prose that Dakuryon wrote with. He took quickly to adopting such vernacular to further isolate himself from what he was. There’s no mention of the fact in any of his writings, but he was the lowliest of slaves before using blood magic to completely reverse his fate. He feared that by leaving any trace of what he was, he was only leaving weakness. He fashioned himself into the image of a god even down to how he spoke, purely because he thought it made him invincible. He had armies to command, and atrocious power to wield. His blood magic was second to none, truly. Yet he was still killed.

I felt the difference in the flow of energy within your body compared to when we first met. You truly are taking to your magic excellently. But I when I departed last, I also saw the carcass. Obliterated and twisted as he was, I could thankfully still tell that he originally perished from exposure. Obliterated and twisted as he was, I could tell how much raw wrath the spells cast on his body carried. Learn beyond what was written in that book. Even with ultimate power, Dakuryon was defeated. He was defeated easily, because he feared who he once was. However, as a slave he would have known the power that even small figures can wield. He would never have underestimated the Elin that challenged him, her unmatched speed, or the pale, shadowy blade formed for her that carved into his body as if it were pure water.

Reconcile your power with who you are, Yuna, and not the killer that you hope to become. Mind what Philia teaches you about survival and help your new companions as they’ve suffered as well. Only when you truly believe that you can survive on the path you intend to undertake should you take the first step. Until then, we’re here to help you.

With continued high expectations,

You sigh and stretch deeply after you finish your second letter. Letting Yuna do as she pleases now would only lead to her premature death. Even deprived of magic, there are still plenty of formidable human fighters in this age. In addition, any murders that she commits will certainly feed into the growing anti non-human rhetoric that’s fomenting within Velika. She must learn to appear nothing less than indistinguishable from a kind-hearted soul such as Aloé if she is to succeed on her quest for indiscriminate revenge. But you’re left to wonder about the fate of the weapon that you and Philia are crafting together.

Faint shades of blue light filter through the windows indicating the sun’s impending arrival. You quietly store the letters within your pack intent on sending them off as soon as you can. For now, you wearily slip on your long coat and set out for Impel, drenched in the cold sunlight of a new day.

File: vel22.jpg (70 KB, 1000x563)
70 KB

Over more drinks and food, the three of you finish discussing the route that you’ll follow from the eastern gate of Velika towards the Velikan wilds. Thankfully, with Belodrak departed the mood has returned to the usual calm and warm atmosphere this place is known for with crackling hearth and friendly chatter all around.

“There’s an inn which we can rest after our first day of travel, provided that we cover enough distance to make it there. The day following, we’ll be in mountainous terrain so we should expect a cold second night and no civilization until we reach Impel.” You trace the map with your finger as you elaborate.

Seo sneaks a bite of the meat pie that you left poorly defended. “The Velikan wilds are aptly named it seems. Raiders are common in such undeveloped lands.”

“Yes…” You eye her as she munches happily on her unknown number serving. “We should expect raiders because we’re apparently bringing one along.”

“I haven’t stopped you from having your share. If you hadn’t decided to make pleasantries with one of the Prince’s dogs you would’ve been able to eat this whole time, Luca.” She scoops a piece of the new meat pie with her fork and holds it in front of your face. “Here, you pitiable creature.”

You make a show of taking the bite and bowing deeply. “Oh, bless you Lady Shulein. Bless you for your generous alms of giving me my own food in these trying times.”

Misha and you laugh as Seo can’t fight a smirk from forming on her face.

You point between Misha and Seo. “Don’t try that with Misha, or he’d be liable to poke out an eye.”

A red-faced Misha chimes in with slightly slurred words. “Don’t give her any ideas about poking out my eyes.”

You laugh in surprise as Seo glares at Misha. The alcohol must have given him newfound courage because you had not anticipated that response in the slightest.

She quickly downs the rest of her drink. “Mishenne, I’d advise against antagonizing someone that pick you up and toss you as if you were a sack of potatoes.”

“Then why do you antagonize, Luca. Huh?” He leans forward unsteadily.

“Oh please. I’d like to see him try.” Seo waves him off dismissively, her voice also beginning to show the effects of the alcohol.

“Have either of you picked up a sack of potatoes in your lives?” You ask, entirely too amused to rise to Seo’s taunt.

Both are quiet as they think deeply about a time they may have done so. They choose not to answer.

“Alright, here.” You eagerly slide Misha’s drink closer to him and give Seo your mug. “Drink.”

“You’re going to start that game with such an idiotic question?” Seo shakes her head before downing the rest of your drink. “Fine, but you just invited a question in return.”

Ahh, maybe that wasn’t the wisest idea.

Misha struggles to finish the rest of his first mug, as the server brings you a fresh round. “Game? Wha game?” Misha asks.

Seo is about to ask a question before you cut her off. “Let’s have Misha ask next, while he still can.” You turn back to Misha. “You ask any question, and we have to either answer honestly or drink. Understand?

He nods excitedly as he thinks on his question, before his expression finally lightens up as if he’s thought of something brilliant. “Have you twooo ever…kissed?” He whispers the last word.

You grin at his childish question, and then at Seo. The two of you communicate with a series of glares and eyebrow raises before Seo finally takes a drink.

Politely you drink as well, so as not to encourage the obvious next step in the line of questioning, nor the conclusion.

“Ahh, no fun.” He pouts, thankfully not picking up on the implications.

Seo takes the opportunity to strike suddenly and asks the question that she had formulated to being with. “Would you ever marry me?” Uncharacteristically, she asks with her eyes turned toward the table by the end of her sentence.

It’s a sobering question for the two of you. The nuances purely from Misha’s side are complicated to say the least. If they weren’t from rival families, they’d be an ideal match from the perspective of mutual status advancement. But the question isn’t only for him. Deep down you’ve always enjoyed Seo’s company, rarely in the carnal sense as well, but never put much thought to something as outlandish as a fringe noble as yourself marrying someone that could potentially marry into the royal family. But would you ever marry her? Is that something you’re even ready to answer, and why does she want to know?



I like Seo, but I don't know if Luca likes her that way. Feels like Seo needs to be honest about what she plans to do as a noble before talking about marriage. Luca's a mess of old guard duty and very unpopular magic, and if she's just not going to commit to anything about that it'll be bad for both of them.

>"Well there's a few things I need to know about YOU before I can answer that, maybe I'll see them in the mission"
Bit of a cruel question Seo. If the answer is yes, you know it couldn’t possibly happen, and if the answer is no but if Seo was hoping for yes it really only hurts her own feelings. So, some questions are better left without answers
Heyo readers, I hope that you're all having an enjoyable Sunday.

Thank you for your votes so far, here's how the tally stands:
To leave the question unanswered, but if pressed, indicate that there's more each of you have to learn about your feelings first before that can answered.
>Writing, of course
I do very much enjoy the massive contrast you've set up between the noble scions eating well in a warm inn, laughing and drinking together, and the place they're about to head into with Elewyn and the Devan, starving and dying of exposure.
Even Luca, the one who percieves himself as being on the 'fringe' of nobility, seems just so....I don't want to say naive, but unprepared, maybe? For what they're walking into.

I very much look forwards to Elewyn's reaction when her 'help' shows up and it's these three children. Then again, not like she really gave them much to go off of, and anything is probably better than nothing.
The stark compare and contrast really does make it fun to write. Winter especially lends well to such a disparity. I don't want to overuse, but if appropriate I might make use of it again in the future.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I'm looking forward to their meeting as well!

Try as you might, you can’t settle on a definitive answer to her question. At most, you can only rack your brain as to why she’s asking in the first place. She’s never seriously considered any of the marriage propositions her father has planned. You never sensed it was a priority for her, spowhy ask about marrying below her status into the Yinefall family. It would completely disrupt whatever she aspirations she has planned as a noble of her status. Does she simply want to test your amitionss for advancing in the noble strata? In that regard, answering “yes” would still be naïve, as it could never possibly happen. Then “No?” But somehow that seems cruel to both of you to deny the possibility. Wait, why do you feel that way?

You don’t understand the game she plays sometimes.

You take a long drink from your mug.

“Noou.” Misha answers sloppily as you and Seo stare into each other’s eyes. “Neverr, right Luca?”

You try grasp at something to smooth out the confusion you feel. “Well Misha, t-there’s things that need to be figured out, like…well like feelings, and well actually the mission first. Right?”

A faint, dark smile comes upon Seo’s face as she studies your reaction. Finally, she sighs. “Indeed. The reason you brought us together was this mission after all. We’ll let Luca save his parries for any danger that we’ll meet on the road and put this game to rest for now” The tension in her voice settles after she pulls away Misha’s drink from his hand. “Plenty more time for drinks when we get there as well.”

Thankful for the change of subject, you clear your throat and decide to summarize the scope of your duties for this mission. “Good idea....As I said earlier, we’ll be heading off at dawn so no need to overdo it with the drinks…” You turn to Misha who seems to be enjoying the warmth of hearth and the alcohol with closed eyes. “Misha be sure to let one of your servants know to wake you in the morning.”

“I’m fiiine.” Misha waves you off. “I’m just listening.”

“Stay awake then. Otherwise, I’ll be free to share the story about our outing to the lake when we were young. You remember? With the wasp nest, and those two girls that thought…”

Much to your satisfaction he shivers alert and glares daggers though you know he can’t see you very well.

Satisfied with Misha's sudden sobering, you continue. “At dawn we’ll meet at the entrance to the Shulein estate where Seo will have graciously provided the horses and basic supplies for our trek to Impel. From there, we will head out on the path northeast we discussed, and onward toward the mountain pass. The fishing town of Impel lies beyond, and we will brief with our contact and employer Elewyn when we get there. From there, we’ll hope that the backwater provides some entertainment for our efforts in getting out there, and ultimately I… I’ll be indebted to the two of you once everything is said and done.” You cross your arms as you finish.

Seo leans back in her chair, amused with choice of words. “Racking up debts certainly is a common pastime for the lesser nobles, Luca. Continue on like that, and you’ll need to start giving yourself more credit for following suit with what’s expected for you.”

“I agree.” Misha nods. “In that case, then we should start drawing terms for our debtor here.”

You let out a slight exasperated sigh. “Not indebted then. But I’ll be grateful to the two of you. As friends.”

“Then, my friend…” Seo stands with a grin at you with her vibrant eyes, puts on her coat, and gives a mock bow. “I’ll leave our tab in your capable hands. I need fresh air, so I’ll be outside waiting.”

With confidence in her stride, she walks out of the establishment leaving you and Misha sitting at the table. He shrugs to you, and merely presents his broken glasses as all that he has with him currently.

You end up treating two of the wealthiest individuals in the city to an extensive dinner.


The three of you regroup outside, making sure to maintain a low profile. Thankfully, with the café being removed as it is from the main streets, the three of you can still have a conversation.

After a few moments of idle chatter deciding upon your next destination, Seo chimes in before the conversation goes too far along. “I’ll have to take my leave now, you two. I’ll need to make some excuse to father for my absence, and I’ll need to instruct Astrid about the basic supplies we’ll need.”

“My pocketbook breathes a sigh of relief.” You place a hand on your coat pocket. “Take care on your way home, Seo. I wouldn’t want any would-be thieves to lose all their teeth.”
File: vel27.jpg (76 KB, 800x375)
76 KB

With a wide smile, she gives a quick and brutal straight punch for effect.

“Good luck with your father…” Misha mumbles out quietly, clearly preoccupied and staring at his shuffling feet.

Seo eyes you and then touches her finger to her lip. A signal that you shouldn’t forget about the condition you found Misha in earlier today.

Then with her hands on her hips, she eyes the two of you before gathering her words. “Luck isn’t needed. Time is on my side with any issues I may have with my father, as well to have plenty of more opportunities to have Luca treat me…It’s on your side as well, Mishenne.” She begins to walk off and waves to you while still looking ever forward. “Until tomorrow, boys.”

As stilted as their interactions sometimes were, you’re glad that you could finally bring the two of them together under informal circumstances. Their family animosity started with their twice great-grandfathers, neither of which were alive for even their births. The pretense of it all is insufferable, especially from your perspective.

Misha still stands dejected with thoughts of his father and shivering from the cold.

You roughly pull him closer by the shoulder. “Don’t go falling asleep on your feet now. We still have to get your glasses fixed, and it’s been too long since we’ve been able to hang out.”

With your arm around his narrow shoulders, you notice the thinness of his coat. No wonder why he's cold.

You ruffle his hair. “So are we headed to a lens maker or…”

He’s forced to use both arms to toss your hand away from his head. “We can, but I don’t think his store is open this late.”

“Ahh, you should know that doesn’t mean you still can’t get his business. My guess is that he lives above his little shop. Sound about right?” You easily pull him along toward the market square.

“Yeah, but…Seems a bit much to intrude this late. I think so long as I can get my hands on some strong glue, it should be fine.” He answers already having given up trying to escape your grasp.

“If you say so.” After walking for a time, you glance at the many stores around you. Some closed, but there a handful still open. One in particular catches your eye with a well lit sign, such that it can assuredly stand out at night.

“Adventurer’s Apothal…chemy?” You read the sign aloud.

Sounds like a shop that you could get the glue Misha needs, and other adventuring supplies in addition.

>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to get the glue and any other supplies you may want.

>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to browse for any additional supplies you may need, but intrude upon the lensmaker to get Misha's glasses fixed properly.

>Write in.
>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to get the glue and any other supplies you may want.
Getting the glasses fixed so soon might look like Misha can't take a hit. Besides, getting a larger order for some spares might be wiser.
>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to get the glue and any other supplies you may want.
>>>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to browse for any additional supplies you may need, but intrude upon the lensmaker to get Misha's glasses fixed properly.
Heyo everyone, I hope that you're all doing well here at the start of yet another work week. My long weekend, while relaxing, has proven to be a double edged sword in getting back to work.

Anyway, thank you very much for your votes thus far! I will be stuck in a meeting for about an hour. So, I'll leave the vote open until I get back, and tally what we have then.
>>>Head to the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" to browse for any additional supplies you may need, but intrude upon the lensmaker to get Misha's glasses fixed properly.
>Make sure Misha's got some good winter wear, he's really going to need it
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Our votes are tied, so I'll leave it to a roll off:

>Get everything that we need from the "Adventurer's Apothalchemy" = 1

>Stop by the lensmaker afterwards = 2
(We'll also get Misha new winter wear, likely in an update following the next.)

Before you have much of a chance to think about where to shop, the door below the storefront sign bursts open.

“That’s exactly right, young man!” Given the time of night, an especially energetic young woman greets you with a wide smile. “Oh, a couple! Nice to meet you too. Welcome! Welcome to the Adventurer’s Apothalchemy. Where medicine and magic come together to help you!” Her voice echoes into the quiet night, causing a dog to bark in the distance.

You’re impressed with how unabashedly loud she’s speaking at the two of you. She certainly dresses the part of an alchemist with a wide apron with countless pockets and thick circular eyeglasses. But wait, surely she doesn’t mean real magic.

“Mag-?” You attempt to clarify her statement about magic.

“I’m not-“ You hear Misha begin to clarify as well.

“Yes, magic!” She interrupts. She nods fervently as she walks over to the two of you and pulls you into the shop with a deceptively strong grip. “Come in, come in! Allow me to show you!”

The two of you enter a store with all manner of colorful solutions kept within glass containers lining tall shelves. The store is quite clean and well-lit but filled to the brim with all manner of medicines, ointments, and what can only be described as concoctions. The storekeeper walks effortlessly through a narrow aisle to a small counter that you assume she occupies while waiting for customers to strike upon.

“My name is Emma, and all of our products here are imbued with the magic alchemists have meticulously developed over centuries in order to fulfill whatever need, want, or desire that could ever possibly cross your mind. You’ll only find the fruits of these lost works here at our store paired with the utmost quality along with more than affordable prices.” She announces impeccably while she pulls a thick tome from the counter without even looking at it.

“Hold on.” You interrupt with skepticism clear in your voice, before she begins another rant. “There hasn’t been any recorded usage of magic in alchemy in over four hundred years, and copying those records is dubious at best given their advanced degradation. You mean to suggest that you have cracked an ancient secret here in your store?”

Though you may be slightly agitated at her claims, you do recall evidence written about rare potions in one grandfather’s collections. His career working under many Minsters of Records has allowed him to acquire such rare documents.
File: vel31.png (319 KB, 780x465)
319 KB
319 KB PNG

“An astute point you make, young man.” She responds without any sort of hesitation and then leans toward Misha. “Handsome and intelligent, you’ve got quite the catch.” She turns her focus back to you before he has the chance to reply. “Maybe we can't copy their works exactly. Maybe the magic that alchemists of old claimed to have manipulated was never there to begin with. But!” She wags her finger and then flips open the tome onto the counter to the exact page she desired. “The word magic exists to be used and used properly. Their catalysts are where magic resides. Generations of effort and genius poured into these small but vital creations that are used within this very store.” She taps the depictions of many strange multi-faceted crystals drawn on the page. “Healing potions, antidotes, warming potions, alertness potions, but for you two…”

She smiles as she pulls a small glass bottle filled with purplish-brown liquid. “Very popular in these long winter nights, is this endowing potion. One dram provides a night-long increase in size that sure to be pleasing for both parties.” She pulls out another vial filled with clear, viscous fluid. “Lubrication is included for free. Other than that we have general aphrodisiacs, sensitivity enhancing potions, and if your romantic tastes are of the extreme variety we offer a-“

“I’m not a woman!” Misha finally manages to vocalize his protest.

“I never thought you were, dear customer…” She smiles calmly.

With pure exasperation in his voice, he continues. “We’re not here for any of that. We're just here looking for glue. Strong glue. Do you sell that here?”

“We do. But, speaking from personal experience I wouldn’t recommend getting glue on your-“ She begins to explain without a shred of shame.

You raise your hand immediately to stop her. “We’ll skip out on the glue.” You briefly explain your plan to Misha before turning back to the storekeeper. “But first, do you know how these catalysts operate? Do they require sacrificial reagents or are they really doing all the work to make all of these items?”

It’s the first time you’ve ever seen such clear depictions of an alchemical catalyst and their products. How are they even made? Can they make them or are they using those synthesized in the past? It’s piqued your interest enough that you were trying to study the diagrams on the pages while she was speaking.
File: emm2.png (1.45 MB, 955x876)
1.45 MB
1.45 MB PNG

“That is a trade secret, dear customer.” She gently closes the tome and scoops it into her arm. “But we’re more than willing to share the products of the catalysts, and who knows, purchase enough items and you may be able to divine some secrets for yourself. For now, I’ll leave the two of you to browse in privacy.” She winks, then settles onto a stool behind the counter and retrieves pamphlets to read.

“Sooner we get out of here, the better.” Misha whispers to you as the two of you head away from the counter.

The fundamentals of basic catalysts have been implemented for several rudimentary healing potions and antidotes with other alchemists in city. You’ve consumed them in your travels in the past, and they, at the best, rapid-acting medicines rather than the fantastical potions the storekeeper claims to sell. You could buy a few for your mission to test her claims and what you might be an excessive safety measure. She did mention a handful of potions that could be helpful: healing, warming, and alertness.

You turn back and see the storekeeper eye the two of you intently beyond a stack of papers. So much for privacy.


Select up to five potions to purchase and take along with you on your mission.




>Write in.
>2x Warming
Is it going to be a bottle of oil, or some serious frictionless stuff?
You can assume that any lubricant that you purchase will be potent and therefore more lubricating than standard oil.
>2x Healing
>2x Warming
Anyone dying desperately need both warming and healing, so 2 doses of each of those seem best, and alertness for a long one-person watch if needed for a stakeout situation, or when trying to evade search parties or something.
(Assuming the alertness one works like I think it does, and isn't like a short term hyperfocus on a single thing drink)
You're indeed correct in how you assume alertness potions work as a longer term effect rather than a short burst.
Leaving the vote open while I sleep, and I'll tally what we have in the morning. A good night to all of you!
Heyo everyone, I hope all your days are off to a good start. It looks like we're in between these two posts, so we'll take it to a roll off:



>Rolling, and writing the outcome!
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Off to a good start, actually rolling this time.
Finally back home! I'll post the update in a few hours, as I haven't had much of a chance today to work on it yet.

You turn to Misha as he attempts to observe a mixture that’s purporting to prevent any sneezing, with possible respiratory side effects. “I think we should pick up a few items for our mission, since we’re here.”

He nods idly as he places one potion down for another. He examines the label by pulling close and far from his face and eventually turns it toward you. “What’s this one say, Luca?”

“‘Alertness Potion, a wakening draught far more potent than the darkest of coffees.’” You recite the line of writing.

“Oh! That’d make those all-nighters a lot easier to get through.” He decides to focus on the colorful solution rather than the writing he can’t see.

You rub your chin as you look over the bottle. “Your all-night tinkering sessions are way beyond me. Spending hours hardly blinking your eyes and zoned in on a miniscule gear or mechanism is intense.”

He smiles with clear pride. “It’s not so bad once you’ve done it a few dozen times. It does come with a cost.” He waves his hands in front of his soft, unfocused gaze. “But that’s exactly how traps need to be practiced. None of the stories ever have traps disarmed in bright sunlight, but in deep dark caves or dungeons. You have to commit. At least that’s the case for traps and trap disarming. It’s different when it comes to machinery you can have as much light as you need.” He explains enthusiastically. “But you’re one to talk about unblinking hours zoned in with all those old books you read.”

The well-lit store allows you get the first good look at him you’ve had since this afternoon. Seeing him carefree and happily explaining his old hobby with the barely sealed cut on his lip and the freshly bruised cheek causes noxious anger to bubble deep within your stomach at his father. You want to broach the subject, but for now you do your best to push the emotion aside.

“Yeah, but I can still see fine. So, we’ll get those eyeglasses fixed, that way you can keep practicing.” You respond confidently as you pull the bottle out of his grasp. “We’ll get this one, two of the warming potions for obvious reasons, and two of the healing potions just to be safe.” You lean in to not be overheard. “Now let’s pay and get the hell out of here.”

Misha smirks and follows you to back to the counter.

Emma, the storekeeper hastily shoves her papers aside to attend to you. “Excellent choices! Seems like you two are off on an adventure!” She says as she looks over your selection. “If that's the case, might I still interest you in the lubricant? I can promise nearly frictionless results…”
Your flat expression as you place the items down to pull out a bill of exchange slip must communicate enough, as she drops the sale attempt. “Nonetheless, we’re always more than glad to serve the nobility in our humble shop.” She points to your bill of exchange.

She’s observant at least. Bills of exchange are typically only employed by merchants and the nobility, and you certainly don’t dress or act like a merchant.

You quickly finish writing and wordlessly slip the bill to her.

She smiles without missing a beat as she packs up your purchase. “Thank you very much for your gracious patronage! Please have a fun night, you two!”


You both leave the store feeling terribly exasperated.

Misha is silent for a moment before turning to you suddenly. “Do you think she was trying to insult me with her implication?”

“Implication?” You question aloud before realizing what Misha is referring to and then chuckle. “Those bookish types have all sorts of fantasies going on their in heads. Rather than being insulting, I’m sure she was just hoping that you would fulfill that fantasy.”

“Yeah, but…” He fidgets as he clutches the bag filled with potions in his arms. “Oh, nevermind.”

“Hey, you could do a lot worse than me.” You grin as you point toward yourself.

“That’s not what this is abou-“ Misha is interrupted as he suddenly sneezes.

“Alright.” You wrap your arm around him and lead him away from the store and across the quiet market plaza. “We’re going to get you a new coat. You’re going to need it when we’re traveling.”

He tries to free himself from your arm. “Come on. You’re really not helping the appearance of things, are you aware of that?!”

“Not sure what you mean, but I’m only trying to keep you warm.” You look over his thin coat. “You really like that old thing, don’t you? You wear it even when it’s warm, so it’s clearly not heavy enough.”

Misha sighs as he wraps the coat more tightly around his frame. “It has many deep and sturdy pockets, which makes it handy for tools and the like. However, I do see your point. It really won’t be sufficient when we’re out traveling. I’ll…I’ll pay you back.” His hands are clenched around the bag

While Misha could easily return the favor a thousand times over, it’s not worth him having to ask his father for the funds while the sting of his father’s blow is still fresh on his face.

“Weren’t you the one that was giving me crap about being indebted to you and Seo?!” He yelps as you yank him closer and ruffle his long hair. "Now here you are trying to keep track of who owes who."

You finally allow him to escape and he scurries a few feet away to glare at you as he attempts to fix his messy hair. “D-don’t think that I’ll let you keep doing that forever!”

“What, you think when you become head of the Halion household that will stop me?” You cross your arms defiantly.

“Head of the Halion household…” Misha repeats quietly.

Your words cause him to pause in thought and look up toward the starless, cloudy sky. The glimmer of his soft eyes is muted by deep and endless purple and catch none of the flickering orange from the many nearby lanterns. Standing solitary in the middle of the plaza with crossroads surrounding him and in the middle of this massive district, Misha’s figure seems especially small, almost ephemeral. Once, you barely managed to save him from falling from a tall tree you made him climb as children, and in that moment you felt far more fear of him hitting the ground than you ever felt for yourself. Inexplicably, that instinctual fear now rises in your chest.

“Luca, this might be a strange questions but..Do you think…” His words after the silence startle you slightly. He keeps his gaze fixed on the sky above. “Do you think it’s alright to miss someone you never met? Is that…Does that even make sense?”

Just as his sudden voice did, his question catches you off guard. However, it only takes a moment for you to process the meaning behind it. You recall Seo telling you once a very long time ago that Misha’s mother died during childbirth with him. You had recently lost your parents at the time, and with her being a child, she thought it would cause you to bear some ill will toward Misha, as if it were his fault. It accomplished the opposite. That’s when you chose to get to know him. You do your best not to dwell on it, yet there are times when you miss your parents. However, you had eight years of your life together with them. While it is his very own mother, does it make sense for him to miss her, as he’s never met her? Is he conflating some other sadness with that thought?

>Assure him that it's alright and it does make sense.

>Express your doubt about the premise.

>Write in
(Also, I'm currently working on a character sheet for Luca, wherein the inventory of potions acquired in this last post will be reflected, rest assured. The character sheet will be available by the time you set off for your mission)
>>Assure him that it's alright and it does make sense.
>Express your doubt
I don't know if "miss" is the right word. Curiosity, longing, or just a mother-shaped parenting void that didn't get filled. Father too, judging from the bruises. All those sound bigger to me than just missing someone.
>Express your doubt about the premise.
Are you really just looking for someone to express love to you through something besides beatings?
Heyo everyone, thanks for the votes. As the tally stands:

We'll be expressing our doubts that what Misha is feeling is related to "missing someone," but rather larger issues involving lack of parental intimacy.


Thanks everyone for your continued participation and readership. I will be taking a break from posting an update today, as I'll be too busy to write for work and personal reasons, But in lieu of that I have the premises outlined for the potential holiday side stories almost ready to be posted. They should be up in a few short hours, so keep an eye out!
File: chr.png (383 KB, 374x838)
383 KB
383 KB PNG
Hi again! With any choice you can expect a light-hearted (relatively speaking) side story to occur concurrent with updates to this main thread. Meaning that you should expect updates to both, while they are running. Here they are:

Holiday Heroine Aloé

"W-what do you mean the party is all on my shoulders?!" Truest to the traditional holiday spirit, help Aloé persevere as the overseer for the entire royal guard's holiday celebration. With a little bit of quick thinking, and a lot of luck she'll be able to throw a party worthy of the most prestigious fighters in the kingdom.

Ruby's Corsair Consignment

"Why the hell doesn't anyone use 'left' or 'right' on this ship?" Good grub and holidays go hand in hand, but you're going to have to pay for it somehow. Ruby sets sail as a merchant escort in treacherous seas. Show those crusty old pirates what an Elin can do, and earn your pay for a merry and lawless celebration to top it all off.

Fey Forester Philia

"I believe the humans saying goes: 'more hands makes for less work.' It must be exclusive to humans..." Nothing like relaxing warm and safe inside to pass the holidays. Only you have to help Philia work with Yuna and a group of city Elin to build a base in the forest and prepare for the winter. What were these new Elin like and what were their names again? Perhaps you can help with that too?...

This is not a vote quite yet, only a preview.

This is a preview to determine interest, which can be as simple as replying to this post saying "I'm interested." Enough interest and we'll take it to a vote to determine which story we run, not very much interest and we'll proceed ahead focusing on the main story. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer as soon as I can. Thanks!
not really interested

I'm game for more combat to flesh out her fighting style

Basebuilding could be neat

But you've been blueballing us on the main mission for a while, so I won't say no to sticking to the plot.
I admit I’m Most interested in pressing forwards with the main story
Heyo everyone, I hope that your days are all off to a good start. Also, thank you for your feedback. I will keep to the main story and shelve the idea of the side story for the time being. A side story might be more appropriate right after a main story arc has concluded, rather than shortly after it has begun.

Finally back home! Update coming in about 60-90 minutes.

He can’t escape the influence of his flesh and blood, especially within this city. As the sting from his father’s blow dissipates from his skin, he finally has the time to reflect on his emotional fallout. In that reflection, he can find no refuge, no sanctuary of affection in order to handle his abuse. Misha must long for that and has melded the void of his mother from his life with it.

You choose to ignore his question and speak your mind.

“To hell with your father, Misha. Rather…fuck that duplicitous Lord Halion.” You close the distance and place your hand on his shoulder as he stares at you in confusion. “I don’t believe that you can miss someone that you never met, Misha. But I believe that you can long for someone to express their love for you other than beating you.” You give him a slight shake. “Don’t let him do that to you. Want better for yourself! I know that it’s easier said than done, nonetheless you need to focus on that desire, strive towards it, man! Don't just feel sorry for yourself!”

Misha who has frozen up from your words finally works up the will to pull away from you, and the two of you linger in silence.

Ahh, you might’ve let yourself get carried away, but it’s been a long time coming.

Finally, Misha quietly speaks up once again. “We should get going before it gets to be late…”

“Yeah, we still have a couple more stops.” You tensely agree and head off with him at your side.

“…Sorry for acting strange, Luca.” Misha’s gaze is affixed low toward his feet. “I think I allowed my thoughts to get the best of me, but about what you said, I'll try to be more like y-...I'll try to...Ah n-never mind, but thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it…” You respond stiffly, not sure what else to say you return to walking in silence.

“Hey Luca…" He breaks the silence once again. "Think it would anger Seo if I tried to court Astrid? You think it would anger my father?” Misha asks with a note of mirth in his voice.

A hell of a choice for a target of affection.

Your laugh echoes into the night. “How about asking if it would anger me if you did that?” You give him a light shove as you approach your target shop. “She’s damned good-looking, isn’t she?”

File: len1.jpg (61 KB, 564x838)
61 KB

After going through several heavy coats that completely dwarfed Misha’s frame, you were able to procure the right item after covertly asking the shopkeeper to bring out an item meant for adolescents. The selection also served to save you a bit on the cost, which you’re paying more attention to as you’ve summed a rough figure in your head for today's outing. However, him not freezing as you make your trek to Impel is worth the money.

The final stop for the night is an unassuming workshop in a long line of similar buildings, in which you can peer all manner of clocks, deconstructed instruments, and other types of mechanical parts you can’t identify. As Misha had suspected, the workshop is completely closed for the night, without any sign of life visible from the first-floor window.

Without any other option, and the pressing need to fix Misha’s eyeglasses, you loudly knock on the door to alert anyone lurking upstairs.

After a few seconds of knocking a cantankerous voice calls out from overhead. “Get the hell out of here! I’m closed until the morning.”

“Sorry to bother you so late!” You call back to the squinting old man dressed in his night clothes. “It’s a bit of an emergency- we”

“Well take that emergency and shove it up your ass for the night, then you come back in the morning with whatever you want to bother me with!” He shoots back with tired scorn and heads away from the window.

“Please, Master Lenguid. We’ll only need a few minutes of your time!” Misha pleads as well to the empty window.

The old man known as Lenguid rushes back to the window upon hearing Misha’s voice. “Is that you, Mishenne?” He squints behind his thick framed eyeglasses. “Ah hells. I’ll be right down.”

The jangling of uncountable keys can be heard along with the heavy footfalls of the old man descending the stairs. Finally, the door bursts open with sudden force.

“What in the world are you doing here this late, young lord?” Aggravated, he asks Misha before turning a furrowed glance toward your direction. “At the very least you thought to have one of your goons accompany you.”

Misha shakes his head. “This is my friend, Luca Yinefall.” He hands you the bag of potions as he digs out the broken pieces of his eyeglasses.

“Yinefall?” His eyes peer over you as if reading from a book. “I can see some resemblance. The old bastard still around?”

“Yinefall?” His eyes peer over you as if reading from a book. “I can see some resemblance. The old bastard still around?”

“Old, but he’s still doing well.” You do your best to reply politely. “So you know my grandfather?”

“Unfortunately.” He answers with a slight snarl and then turns to Misha as he presents the broken pieces. “Ah, let me see. Hmm. Yes. He did quite a number on these…” He eyes you both suspiciously before sighing loudly. “Stop standing around like idiots and come in then. It's freezing out here.”

The two of you quietly follow him into his workshop as he shuffles to the counter. With sharp and dexterous movements, he lights several nearby candles, pulls out a set of small tools he requires from a myriad kept within in dozens of small drawers, and sets about the task of repairing the eyeglasses. The store itself pulses with the ticking, clicking, and whirring of machinations from all sides such that it seems the walls themselves beat with soft rhythmic energy.

“So.” The old man speaks without taking an eye away from his work. “What’s so important that you couldn’t wait until the morning to get these fixed?”

Misha looks at you hesitantly before answering with your nod of approval. “I’ll be leaving the city early in the dawn. I’ll be… going on a mission, and I’ll be applying what you taught me about trap disarmament in a real setting.”

His hands stop for a moment before resuming at the same rapid pace. “I’m assuming this has to do with the Yinefall boy. However, you should know better, young lord. You should know what that sort of craft can cost you.” He blows away some particulates from the eyeglasses. “I should shatter these so that you don’t have the option of leaving.”

You step forward to interject, but Misha stops you. “I-I made a promise, Master Lenguid. Even if you were to do that I would still go. Even if you were to hit me…I’d still go. You were the one that always said I needed greater perspective, so I hope that you will support me.” He quickly bows.

Wordlessly, Lenguid makes the last tweaks to the eyeglasses with small tools and then gets up from the counter. “Like you ever did a damn thing I told you in the past.” He holds out the fixed eyeglasses for Misha to receive. “Well, are you going to tell me where the hell you two are headed?”

Misha slips on his eyeglasses smiles as he’s finally able to see clearly again. “We’re setting off for Impel, master.”

He snorts as a laugh as he adjusts how the eyeglasses sit on Misha’s face. “I hope you like the stench of fish. Why there of all places?” He quickly eyes Misha’s injuries but seems more than used to seeing them.

“We’re heading there on behalf of a request made for Luca’s grandfather, a request made by someone named…Elewyn I believe her name was.” Misha explains as his eyes glance toward you for confirmation.

Suddenly, Lenguid freezes in place with what could be best described as a look of pure dread. It’s short lived, as his expression hardens as he speaks to you. “You truly are his goddamn grandson, aren’t you?” His arms drop to his side, and it is only now that you notice he’s missing digits from both hands. “If that accursed creature is still lurking in this world, then I shudder for the future to come.”

You step forward. “What do you mean, old man? Speak clearly if you know something about who we’re working for.”

He lets out a phlegmy growl. “Here’s what I know, boy. I adventured in my youth and happened to come across her along with your grandfather. A tomb of what she claimed was some ancient god that was leaking troublesome monsters was our mission. Within were magics, creatures, and traps like I’ve never seen since. But the final lock…” He holds up his incomplete hands. “I suppose we should be grateful to her for not losing our lives, but when I asked what it was all for, completely unscathed as she was, she said it was to ‘fix old mistakes.’” He walks toward the entrance of the workshop. “With her magic, she forcibly kept us from venturing into the final chamber and learning what she meant. But the monsters vanished, and then she left.” He shakes his head wearily. “She wields good intentions like I would a tool, and so many have been left in her wake to deal with the consequences. Your grandfather especially, boy.”

Both you and Misha stand transfixed from his short tale, and you gulp to wet your dry throat. Does this mean she's exactly what you hoped she would be? A direct link to the old world of heroes and magic, and one that you will soon encounter? Your pulse quickens at the thought, and you can sense Misha’s tense excitement resonating with your own.

“Since you two seem so eager to tempt disaster, you can leave me in peace now.” His gaze impatiently switches between the two of you.

“A question." You blurt out without hardly thinking due to your excitement.

"Make it quick then, boy." His cold eyes peer deep within you.

His gaze gives you pause enough to consider your question. At first you were going to ask for more details about the tomb and its magic and monsters he had encountered on the mission he spoke of, such that you could investigate it in your free time. However, asking instead about the trap that costed him his fingers would provide some insight for Misha but it's clearly a touchy subject. The comment he made about your grandfather carrying Elewyn's consequences also resounds in your mind.

>Ask for more details about the trap he dealt with in the ancient tomb

>Ask him about to elaborate about the consequences your grandfather from encountering Elewyn.

>Write in
>Do you regret it, coming along to that tomb? Learning what little she allowed?
+1 to >>5088481
Heyo everyone, hope that your Fridays are off to a good start, and that you're all looking forward to the holidays as I am.

I'm leaving the vote open for another ~2 hours, as I won't be able to attend to writing just yet, and to allow for additional posts. I'll tally what we have then. Be back soon!
>Ask him about to elaborate about the consequences your grandfather from encountering Elewyn.
I believe that these questions are in the a similar vein, so I'll synthesize them in the update.

You settle on your question and meet his gaze. “Do you regret it, then? Heading into that tomb and coming out having learned what little she allowed?”

His incomplete hand rests heavily on the entrance to the workshop, muscles visibly twitching underneath weathered and wrinkled skin. “Aye, boy. For many years of my life, I did harbor regret for ever agreeing to that mission. Regret for what happened to my body, regret for what I would never understand, and regret for what happened to your grandfather.” The old man peers into the dark of the city beyond the small window of his workshop. “But no longer. Regret is for those foolish enough to believe they can still change things long past.”

The pulsing of the mechanisms is muted by the weight of the air. As short as his time was with Elewyn, it shaped much of his life, and even the memory is vivid in his mind. However, as selfish as it feels, you must press what he means about your grandfather.

“You mentioned consequences that my grandfather had to carry, along with your own story. But he’s never spoken about anything of the sort. What do you mean?” You unintentionally loom over the old man, but he stands firm.

He snorts in bemusement. “Of course not, boy. How would he make you shoulder them as well if he spoke of them?” He opens the door to cold. “He was plagued by curiosity to learn of a world long gone. Worst yet, he became infatuated with that creature who thought nothing of him. He permitted his obsession to infect his daughter, encouraged it, I’m sure. Which lost her and your father for it. Now here you are, boy. That’s enough, so get the hell out of my store.”


The journey back to the noble district was a pensive and quiet one. Thoughts of the tantalizing mission to come repeated themselves in your mind over and over again. But a nagging question wormed its way along side those plans. You always thought of yourself as one to act according to your own will and desires, but the parallels old man Lenguid pointed out between you and your grandfather seem orchestrated when he spoke of them. You are confident in the fact that if you had no desire to go along with this mission, you would have the strength to refuse, however, you certainly have questions for your old grandfather before you set out on the mission.
File: nir1.jpg (58 KB, 564x824)
58 KB

“Don’t sleep in.” You lightheartedly warn Misha as you escort him to the threshold of his property.

He shoves his hands into the pockets of his new coat and looks back to his manor. “I might stay awake for tonight. I’m usually awake until morning, so I’ll use the time to make sure I have all my tools prepared and packed.”

“If you think that’s best, then go ahead, but don’t blame me if you doze off and fall off the horse tomorrow.” After watching him quietly skulk into his own home, you solemnly turn back toward your own house.

As night has completely settled in, the heavy stillness of this district is at its peak. Only the soft flickering light from the windows of these tall, white pillars of buildings belie the impression that this place is a graveyard for forgotten giants. The ever-uninterrupted reverence always serves to remind you of a certain funeral, especially when you’re alone to journey through it. You hasten your pace, and the soft echoes of your footfalls announce your impending arrival home.

You enter the familiar two-story building which seems more appropriate for the market distract than even the outskirts of the noble district. In the low light of a few stubby candles, you are greeted by a multitude of tomes, the true occupants of this house that take up all space on tables, chairs, and even the floor. Looking at them scattered about now gives you the impression of a frantic search for an answer within their pages. Haphazardly placed as they are, they are not to be moved by housekeepers or even you.

You sigh wearily as you lock the entrance, and as you quietly place the bag of potions down on a rare open spot on the table, a hoarse and sharp voice calls out to you.

“What are you still doing here?” Your grandfather’s scathing tone accuses rather than questions.

You don’t bother with a greeting. “My companions need time to prepare. As we’re the ones heading off, we can decide when we do so.”

The grey old man scowls at you with his piercing eyes. “Slothful. I can smell the alcohol from over here.”

“True, we parleyed over drinks, in order to discuss our mission.” You respond flatly. “A simple outing. It wouldn’t kill you to leave this place, old man. You could meet with your friend Lenguid. He’s still alive you know.”

You watch carefully as his expression shifts to surprise for a fraction of second, before returning to its usual hard edge. He hasn’t thought of him in some time it appears.

“The coward yet lingers around, I see. Still wasting away playing with his toys, I assume.” His lip curls at the thought.

You put extra emphasis in your movements as you look around the foyer. “You’re right for the most part, but you two have more in common than you think. However, he happened to tell me an interesting story about a mission he and you undertook for Elewyn.”

“I have no patience to listen to your drunken rambling, boy.” He turns quickly to head up the stairs.

“Are you making me go on this mission because you’re in love with her?” You shout at him, with voice reverberating in the still house.

“Go get your gear, boy!” He snarls at you. “Even this late, I have limits to amount of insolence I will tolerate.”

You smirk to yourself, clearly having got underneath his skin as you had planned.


You enter the small courtyard behind the house, wearing your armor and with your practice weapons in tow. You stretch your limbs as you wait for the old man to appear. It’s been a few years since the last time you sparred with him, and that time has not been kind on his body. While you never were able to best him in the past, tonight is good night to put that streak to rest.

“You sure you want to do this?” You ask as he finally appears, donning his own set of old armor. From what you can see, it still fits him well, but it’s likely heavy on his old bones.

“Light the torches.” He replies coldly as he tightens his vambraces.

You go around the courtyard to lighting the torches surrounding the edges of the open stretch of cold hard paved ground. Countless times, you’ve fallen to your knees during his ruthless training sessions. The surrounding perimeter wall that once towered over you as boy, now which you could easily reach the top.

Once finished, you return to the center of the courtyard brandishing the practice weapons to obtain a sense of the long-forgotten weight and balance. “You’re going to answer my questions once this is done.”

Your grandfather steps forward gravely with a dulled-edged steel weapon. “You’re not going to stand a chance with those, so go on and fetch your real weapons.” He brusquely cuts you off as you’re about to protest. “If you can’t even manage to draw blood on an old man, then you will be slaughtered like a pig in real combat.”

Fine. If he wants to play at being young again, then a quick cut to his arm will bring him back to reality. You retrieve and equip your square off as if for a real battle.
File: trn1.png (1.37 MB, 773x605)
1.37 MB
1.37 MB PNG
Our first bit of combat for this arc, let's get started shall we:

>Combat Rules

>Character Sheets (Updated to include Luca's:)


For this encounter, you will control Luca's actions. Please reference the character sheet for available skills to attack.


You square off with your old grandfather in the dead of night. He taught you much of everything you know about combat, but he's getting up there in age. His stance is firm and his eyes cold as he awaits for you to make your first move.

Luca Yinefall
HP: 28
LP: 8
Stamina: 26
MP: 0

>Write in movement/actions for Luca.
He's old, it's night, and he knows how to parry better than you.

>Fanned Blades, maintaining distance to goad him into closing distance
>If he stays still, try to clash blades at the edge of reach to wear out his hands.
>If he gets close, either parry or try to trip him
+1 to this
Faster we can finish this, the better.
I'm glad you're supporting me, but my plan is the exact opposite of "finishing fast"
Boy, so much HP. It feels weird.
Let's whittle him down. Most of our specials rely on getting hit or being part of a team.

Once he moves in, standard strategy, like with Ruby. Get bleed in asap. With humans having more HP in general, bleed becomes even better compared to normal attacks. We've seen its effect on bosses.;
Rolled 11, 10 = 21 (2d20)

Heyo everyone, hope you're all taking it easy this weekend and spending it how you please.

Utilizing a more defensive strategy with the old man, opening with fanned blades. Following with reactionary tactics, and trying to draw out a bleed.

>Luca to open with Fanned Blades
Stamina Cost: 3
Flat 4 damage if connected

Rolling 2d10 to see if hit connects (CR 5, unexpected attack)
Rolled 10, 2 = 12 (2d10)

Well, that was an error on my part for dice selection, the attack will automatically connect.

Now rolling for the old man's return attack:
Rolling 2d10, (CR 4, big guys like Luca don't have as much evasion.)

>Writing outcome!

As old as he might be, he’s the one that instucted you how to handle a sword, so relying purely on swordfighting tactics will play into his hand. You’ll open with an attack he hasn’t seen before...

The old man thoroughly observes your movements, anticipating whatever pivot of the foot or flex of the shoulder that will betray your next move. His movements are still remarkably fluid even in his old age. Fine, let his instincts deceive him.

You charge a few steps, wrists turning and locking your long sword as if for an underhand slash. As he smirks and readjusts his stance for the appropriate futile counter, instead you deftly draw out your throwing knives and whip them with great force at his legs.

His eyes widen in surprise as he barely manages to deflect one of the three projectiles with a flourish of his blade. One of the others misses, and clangs loudly onto the cold ground, but the last finds its way to viciously embed itself into the meat of your grandfather’s thigh. He growls in pain as he grips the offending weapon.

You adjust your stance after throwing your knives into a neutral position. “That has to hurt, old man. You sure you want to keep doing this?”

You’ll either get him to reconsider, or provoke him into a hasty attac-

With stunning speed, the old man painfully extracted the knife from his leg and hurled it back to where it came, only terminating stuck within your upper left arm. The shocking pain radiates from the wound completely occupies your focus and you groan in pain. That’s when he appears.

In the low light of the night and racked with stunning pain, his gray figure descends upon you. You hardly manage to block his first overhead strike, which threatened to rip the blade out of your hand with its devious approach. Another rapid strike has you on your heels. He’s merciless, attacking, establishing his stance, and pursuing rapidly. But in the flurry of blows and the fog of your pain, you manage to find a slight opening to ferociously stomp his wounded leg driving him back with the force of your bulk. His body reels back in pain as this nearly trips the old man and forces him to fall back to regroup.

You use the chance to remove your own throwing knife from your arm and tighten your stance. The two of you underestimated each other that first round, but the stinging in your left arm makes it difficult to concentrate on a counterstrategy. You’re not used to dealing with such acute and stinging pain, but the old man seems ill equipped to deal with your raw strength. If you were to rush him with a feint, and then knock him to the ground you can end this sooner, and attend to the intrusive pain.

The two of you observe each other once again, clearly taking this fight far more seriously than when you first exchanged blows.


The two of you return to your starting positions, but with fresh wounds and fresh perspectives. The exchange of blows has clearly shown Luca to be the physically stronger of the two, but he's inexperienced when dealing with real wounds, and his grandfather's keen eyes miss very little.

Luca Yinefall
HP: 24
LP: 8
Stamina: 23
MP: 0

>Write in movement/actions for Luca.
Damn dude, I was expecting him to throw his own, not the same damn knife.

Not being ready for wounds is pretty bad, means we don't many cards to play.
>Feint a knife throw, then "stagger" from pain
>Parry&Riposte with everything you got
I wonder how convincing Luca is going to be though
We could stop and point out that we’ve drawn blood, as he asked. We could keep circling at a distance, forcing him to keep pressure on the wounded leg, while turning to face us.
Not really sure Luca wants to set out tomorrow bloodied and bruised.
Rolled 8, 3 = 11 (2d10)

There's a lot of good ideas to draw from here, so let's see:

We want to feint, but also ensure that it's convincing. So, we provoke by stating that we drew blood, yet he's still choosing to fight for some reason. Then a knife throw that puts pressure on his wounded leg as he'll deflect. Followed by a charge that we intentionally stagger from pain to appear vulnerable, and bait the chance for offensive parry and riposte.

>Luca to use offensive Parry and Riposte
Stamina Cost: 6
Damage Reduction: 50% & Total Physical Amplification: 18*0.7 = 13

Rolling 2d10 to see if riposte connects (CR 6, reduced from well strategized opening)
Rolled 2 (1d5)

Parry & Riposte Successful, automatically prompts Underhander
Stamina Cost: 2
Bleed Chance: 40% (Rolling 1d5, 1 or 2 causes a bleed.)

>Writing outcome!
Heyo everyone, I hope that your Sundays are going well. I've been busy running errands this whole morning, so I'll be getting down to writing now. Update to be posted in ~90 minutes!

You need to focus beyond the pain. Relying purely on your strength in a blind rush would only invite a vicious counter from the old man. In fact, you ought to do the opposite. Provoke him into a hasty attack and punish him for it. However, you must be convincing.

As you make a show of clutching your wounded left arm, you shout at the old man. “I believe you were the one that said drawing blood was enough to make me worthy for the mission for Elewyn. A feat I already accomplished before you even had the chance to strike me.”

Beyond the coldness of his eyes lies an unprecedented fury. “You stuck with an underhanded attack that wouldn’t work twice, boy. If that’s all you have then you are a failure of a swordsman.”

You’ve only once ever seen him this furious with you, and that’s when he caught you and Seo in the midst of drinking through his private stash of liquor. But even then, he chose to express his anger through an endless ear-ringing lecture. This Elewyn certainly is a touchy subject for him.

Moving your hand from your shoulder, you tensely grip the handle of your longsword braced on your thigh. “Fine. I’ll show you what I can do to an old man far past his prime!”

Following a flurry of thrown blades, you charge as fast as your legs will take you to the old man.

The knives all rush in from the same side, and the old man instinctively plants his injured leg back to repel the projectiles, just as you suspected he would.

With a show of greed, you change your grip on your sword as if you were leading into a brutal cleave. As you twist your blade into position, you intentionally choose to roll it toward your left side sending a jolt of pain into your left arm as you do. You allow it to stagger your assault, as you grit your teeth in real pain.

Without hesitation, your grandfather moves in to capitalize on your perceived vulnerability. The fog from his breath has hardly the time to dissipate before he’s nearly upon you. His chosen aggressive stance reveals all the power he’s channeling into his slash.

The old bastard’s starting to slip now that he’s past sixty years.

You unsheathe your dirk, kept ever at your hip. The protective arc you slice deflects his strike, but the impact still rattles your wounded arm. Nonetheless, the force you diverted breaks open his guard, and his stance is ruined as you slam your longsword flat on his left arm as appropriate revenge. If the knowledge that you could’ve cleaved his arm off isn’t enough to cow him, you use the momentum of your last slash to bring in your dagger to rake across his wounded leg.

Only, your dirk is slammed to the ground with singular force before it ever reaches its target.

As you recover, a familiar smirking figure appears with her flanged mace pinning your dirk to the cold ground. “Pardon my intrusion, you two.” Seo eases off your weapon and turns to your grandfather. “Your training sessions are rigorous as always, Grandpa Yinefall.”

“Two birds with one stone, young lady.” He grips his shoulder as he gives Seo a slight bow. “This one forgot his place, as he always does.”

Ah, damn it. Now you see what this was for. Leave it to the old man to try to make anything into training and leave it to Seo to see right through it all. Yet, your questions are still unanswered.

You impatiently sheathe your longsword and pick up your dirk from the ground. “It doesn’t change the outcome, old man. I could’ve lopped off your arm if I wanted to.”

He laughs derisively as he retrieves his practice sword. “Yes, but do you think you would’ve had the chance if I returned your dagger to your throat instead of your arm?” He sighs wearily as he turns his body back toward the house. “Your form has improved since we last clashed, boy. However, real battles are chaotic, and you won’t have the benefit of facing an enemy that you’ve practiced against your whole life. Use your head, of course, but trust in your eyes the most.” He bows to the figures watching from within the house. “Well met, young master Halion, and young miss.”

You glance both Misha and Astrid observing the scene with numerous traveling packs nearby. You quickly surmise that the need for a change of plans has arisen.

As he approaches the threshold of the house, he turns back to you one last time. “Keep my advice in mind, boy, as you will come to face the incomprehensible side of this world that lies behind the stage, as I once had to. But to answer your earlier question… This task is far beyond either of our personal feelings, she’s beyond those feelings. There are more reasons to act beyond our desires, and sacrifices that we all must make, as your young eyes will come to witness...” He leaves all of you, and hobbles back into the house to attend to his wounds.

A candid answer for a man of as little words as he typically is, and the words he chooses, he chooses for a reason. What he describes as incomprehensible, truly will be, and you feel a pulse of excitement rush through your body at the thought. Still, you weigh his perspective against what Lenguid told you earlier tonight, and sense there's more to this story that Elewyn could shed light upon.

You move past the thought and turn to Seo hastily. “Which of you two needed to leave now?”

Seo sighs and shrugs. “Father didn’t receive my plans to ‘vacation’ in Chebika well, as he has his own for me to accompany him on some dull diplomatic venture. So, before he the opportunity to undoubtedly increase the guard, I slipped away with most of what we needed and had Astrid fetch Mishenne.”
File: vel44.jpg (43 KB, 399x570)
43 KB
She's always been quick on her feet, even when you were both young.

“Well done, but if that’s the case, we should depart soon. At the very least, we’ll need to get past the city gates.” You turn to Misha as he approaches. “Were you able to pack everything that you needed?”

“Y-yes. Astrid was very helpful in assisting me to pack quickly.” He shyly replies with Seo and Astrid nearby, but you can sense the delight in his voice. “Do you need any help, Luca?”

“Well, I already have my gear on, so I shouldn’t be too long.” You take one last look up to the window of your grandfather’s candlelit room before heading back inside.

Did he anticipate this as well?


The clouds have cleared, allowing the moon to bathe the placid streets in its pale, white light. The light will help you once you're able to ride past the city gates, however, as you try to depart from the noble district you can't help but feel exposed in its spotlight. At any point, these guards could be put on high alert by Lord Shulein, if he's discovered that Seo has slipped out during the night. Hell, Lord Halion could just as easily do the same. If by some stroke of misfortune, both happened to unintentionally work together against you, this district might as well transform itself into a prison.

Your heavy coats conceal your and Seo's armor, but the packs you carry certainly can't be explained away as a simple night out. The main gatehouse leading away from the noble district is in close proximity to your grandfather's property, so it doesn't take you long to reach it. The four of you pause to consider your next move.

"They don't seem to be on any sort of alert." You whisper to your group as you spy the handful of guards idly manning the gatehouse.

"Then we ought to slip past while that's still the case." Seo replies as she furtively glances at the surrounding streets.

"W-we're going to stand out leaving so much before the dawn." Misha anxiously points toward your heavy packs.
True, a single young noble slipping in or out at this time would hardly be of any note, but a group lugging full traveling gear is bound to arouse at least a few questions that will take precious time.

"Then, might I be of assistance, my lady and lords?" Astrid calmly places her hand on her chest. "If I cause a distraction for the guards, the three of you could slip away unnoticed."

"They'll still question why you're outside so late, Astrid." Seo tries to dismiss the idea. "Not to mention there's enough guards such that they could send one or two to investigate, leaving the gatehouse still guarded."

"Allow me to worry about that, my lady." She confidently smiles at the three of you. "I'm sure I can get all of their attentions."

Seo shakes her head and pulls you aside to whisper secretly to you. "I don't believe she's lying about the distraction, but...She's being too helpful tonight. She's still father's maid foremost. I want to disrupt this plan of hers to catch what her real intentions are. The guards are calm, so we should be able to talk through any questioning."

You glance between the gatehouse, Astrid, and Seo, and with the danger that the guards could be alerted at any moment, you weigh your options. Is Seo being too mistrusting of her maid, or should you listen to her?

>Allow Astrid to serve as a distraction for the three of you to slip away from the noble district.

>Listen to Seo, and try to talk your way past the guards.

>Write in.
>>Listen to Seo, and try to talk your way past the guards.
>Listen to Seo, and try to talk your way past the guards.
Seo, you either trust Astrid, or don't. This right here is the perfect time to absolutely keep us stuck here in town, so if you don't trust her with your back, I hope your smooth-talking is as good as your bickering.
How are you even expecting for her to reveal her 'true intentions' unless it's to call the guards on us at the very last moment, in which case we are well and truly fucked.
Moving ahead with Seo's plan, but putting the onus of getting past the guards on her.

>Can we have Astrid call for help to dress grandpas wounds?
If we make it look like Luca's bruised and recovering in bed, they won't think everyone's already gone.
Heyo everyone, happy Monday. I'm fortunate to be finally officially on vacation, which I intend to squeeze every drop of free time from.

Anyway, update inbound in ~60 minutes!

You sigh irritably and rub your forehead. “There better be something to your suspicion, Seo. As far as I can tell she’s trying to help.”

“As far as you can tell, yes, but you’ve always had a soft spot for her. Or perhaps the opposite.” She pokes a finger into your chest. “Regardless, let me take point on this one, trust me, Luca.”

“Fine.” You answer exasperated and knowing there’s little time to deliberate. “But you’re going to be the one to smooth talk us through there.”

“Oh? Your focus is still on the wrong opponent.” She whispers before pulling away from you in a hurry. “Come now, while they’re still unalarmed.” She ignores Astrid as she passes by but turns toward Misha and roughly hands off her pack. “Keep your face out of sight and keep close.”

With you and Misha in tow, she brazenly approaches the gatehouse until one of the tired guards takes notice. The closest squints until he finally sees who’s coming. “Lady Shulein!” He bows quickly, and his companions follow suit. “It’s quite late, my lady. May I ask why the three of you need to pass?”

You catch Seo’s eyes subtly switching between all of the guards to observe their behavior.

“I’m escaping.” Seo plants her hands on her hips and responds impatiently to the guard’s confusion, and to your own apprehension. “I’ve had enough of my father and his inane lectures for a while, so I’m escaping to an inn for a few days until he regains his composure.” She motions to you and Misha, who is rather well concealed carrying Seo’s heavy pack in his arms. “My servants are taking a small amount of my necessary belongings.”

The guard looks back to his companions, who deliberate for a moment before simply shrugging, and then turns back while scratching his temple with his thumb. “Well… alright. But we’ll have to let your father know if he sends someone by to ask, my lady. You know how it is for us.”

Seo waves her hand casually. “I’d expect nothing less from you, so I’d never hold it against you-“

A shrill feminine scream can be heard from nearby, which is unmistakably Astrid’s “Ahh! Help! A dog is attacking me and he’s tearing off my dress!”

The entire troop of languid guards stand firmly at attention and eagerly run off to save the voice.

“Take care on your way to the inn, my lady.” The guard is already several feet away as he finishes his sentence.

Seo sighs as she immediately glances at the structure of the gatehouse. A few seconds later, her vibrant eyes light up as she divines something still unknown to you and Misha. “Oh! Isn’t she clever…” Her gaze tracks between one side of the gatehouse to the other.
File: vel44.png (1.3 MB, 910x653)
1.3 MB
1.3 MB PNG

“T-this is a good chance to get going, in case she did have something planned.” Misha worriedly calls out from beyond the heavy pack in his arms.

The guards were more than willing to let you three pass, so the distraction wasn’t necessary after all, yet she's still acting it out. The hairs on your arm stand on end, as you begin to fear some unknown plot against you.

“Right. Let’s get moving.” Seo announces calmly as she motions for you and Misha to lead the way.

You two cross the threshold of this side of the gatehouse and begin to pass through the tunneled interior when you notice that Seo has stopped in her tracks behind you. With worry in your voice, you turn and call out to her. “I believe your suspicions, Seo. Now let’s hurry already and get the hell out of here.”

“It would be lovely if you followed Master Yinefall into the gatehouse, my lady.” Astrid’s voice calls out suddenly from an unknown direction.

Seo smirks and crosses her arms. “No, Astrid. I’ll stay right underneath this sharp and massive portcullis. I can only hope that no one drops the gate, or else I’ll be quite thoroughly pulverized.”

“I feel intense pride in my chest that you were able to piece together my plan to cage you so quickly, my lady.” Astrid replies warmly, and you’re able to pinpoint her location above you, where the mechanism to close the gate is housed. You catch a glimpse of her soft expression through a thin portal in the stone illuminated by the nearby torches.

How did she manage to get up there so quickly?

“Alerting the guards would’ve worked far more effectively, so you must be pushing the boundaries of your orders again.” Seo motions for you and Misha to move to the opposite portcullis, and the two of you follow her order.

“I was told to do all I could to stop you, my lady. Perhaps, I took my orders too literally.” Astrid playfully replies.

Seo smiles gently. “I’m sure that you can see Mishenne and your precious Luca underneath the other portcullis. So, I’ll be going now, Astrid. Take care of father, keep my room dusted, and make sure to dress Grandpa Yinefall’s wounds before you head home.”

“Understood, my lady.” Astrid pauses before calling out once last time. “You’re all precious to me, but especially you, my lady. Come home safely.”

Once Seo has cleared the second portcullis, you can no longer see Astrid within the thin opening. With a great clamor, the gatehouse closes sealing away the noble district. A parting gift in order to facilitate your escape. There’s no turning back the way you came any longer. The three of you hurry to the stables near the eastern gate to retrieve the horses you will be using for your journey. With the steady beating of the horse’s hooves, their steamy breath illuminated by the bright moonlight, and your two closest friends at your side, you set off for Impel.

File: imp7.jpg (118 KB, 467x700)
118 KB
118 KB JPG


The crystalline white powder has piled to create a shallow sea between you and the town. Every trudging step creates a longer and longer ripple in the surface of the sea which laps up to your knees as you gruelingly carve through its perfectly unblemished and undisturbed skin, using your staff to maintain your footing. The storm has past, and now the clearing sky lightly dusts you with a departing garnish of white residue.

The stark quietness of it all makes your organic existence with your heaving breaths and heavy steps seem out of place, unnatural. Yet, you persist until a darkly contrasting sight catches your eye.

After several forceful steps through the white membrane clinging to the ground, you stand over your target.

The steaming, desiccated corpse of a small mammal lies splayed out on the white surface. It spreads its body wide, as if forcibly pulled to display what very recently burst forth from the core of its body to the sky. From its abdomen blossoms a dark bouquet of black fungus, with veins of sickly green and pale yellow connecting its stalk to its host, which visibly grows as you look upon it. The contrast of the pulsing fungal bloom with the white ground, makes your skin stand on edge with an innate sense of something deeply abnormal.

Then you spot another, and another, until you see the clearing for the small garden that it is, cultivated by an unseen force, choosing to display its work after the storm has passed.

Distant crunching through the white powder puts you on guard, as your frigid stiff hands clutch tightly around your staff. The stillness of the world around you lets you pick out the sound to belong to a single figure, and a small one at that. You hold firm until the person clears a few thin trees and spots you as well.

“Oh! Hi!”A young girl, bundled in heavy but worn out clothing waves to you energetically. She shuffles over to you with makeshift snow shoes on her feet, and greets you again with panting breath as she gets close by. "I've seen you in town before! Are you here to get some food too?" She gazes at the ground around you two. "There's a lot today! Plenty for us to share. You must be good luck." She smiles kindly at you with a painfully gaunt face and then bends down to sever the fungus from the corpse of the small creature. She observes the hot vapor rising from the growth before taking a large bite from the cap. Brownish yellow fluid bursts from the skin of fungus, and drips over her hands before she extends it to you. "This one is really tasty! Here!"

Your stomach turns at the sight of the black fungus which, while leaking its fluid, evokes images of the bubbling puss which poured from Hraska's arm as you amputated it. Every instinct within you is refusing to eat it from the sheer unnaturalness of its existence you're attuned to. You want to tell her to stop eating it as well, but you have no alternatives for her in this famine which likely drove her here.

>Decline the fungus, and let her eat them as she pleases.

>Decline the fungus, and try to gently convince her to stop as well.

>Write in
>Decline the fungus, and let her eat them as she pleases.
It's sick...but as mentioned, we have no alternatives for her.
>Question her about how often this kind of thing happens, and how long it's been going on.
Damn Astrid, I was expecting something less....physical.

>Decline the fungus, and let her eat them as she pleases.
There's going to be a lot of cleanup to do, but it won't start with the fungus.
I'm very glad that I was able to convey the grotesqueness of the fungus a bit!

Appearances can often be deceiving, but it made for a fun scene to write.

I'll keep the vote open another one hour until I tally, in case anyone else wants to post.
Allowing the girl to have the fungus, and gathering information about the fungal bloom around you.

Heyo everyone, I hope that all of your days have been going well. I'm currently out and about (not able to write) for a few more hours.

Based on that, I'll put the update to occur in about ~5 hours. Thank you for your understanding, and for your readership!
Update soon! The length of this one really got away from me

If you had any alternative to offer her, you would tell her to stop eating from the fungal blooms, but as you arrived in this town alone, you didn’t bother packing any food. While the fungus may be questionable, you’ll let her fill her stomach with it, and hope that answers about its origin will surface as overtly as its stalk.

You smile gently and shake your head. “I’ll pass. Instead, let me to help you collect them.” You step toward the closest dark bloom and sever its tie from a different species of small mammal than the first. While not overly difficult, the removal of the stalk took unexpected force, as if unseen roots were connecting and anchoring the stalk to the ground and all the others.

“Thanks!” The girl replies as she eagerly sets about the task of collecting the other black blossoms of fungi. “I’m Cyrene. I live with my dad in town. He runs the tavern, but there hasn’t been much to run lately, he says.”

“Elly.” You reply while wading through the snow once again. “I’m from Velika. I came here as part of my training to be a physician’s assistant.”

“Nice to meet you, Elly! I’ve never been to Velika, I mean I’ve never really left here either. But umm, ‘physician?’ You mean like a doctor?” Cyrene pauses in thought until you nod in affirmation. “Wow, that’s cool! We had an old doctor here until she died a few months ago. But we got some new doctors in town a few months ago, but they’re kinda weird.”

New arrivals in town, and the timing lines up with when the Sanctuary became known to the public.

“How so?” Your voice echoes slightly as you call out to her.

“Well, you know, they don’t really do what the old doctor did like check your throat or give medicine or stuff like that. They just take lots of measurements of all our bodies.” She clasps her head, wrist, and thighs to signal a few places they measure. “It’s pretty embarrassing. Oh, and they always ask if you’re eating all your rations too, and they get angry if you don’t… Actually, all of the new folks get mad if you don’t eat the meat, not just the doctors.”

Measurements of the bodies of the town residents and ensuring that they consume all their rations? Until now, you hadn’t put much thought toward the rations themselves, as you believed they were simply a way to curry favor, but there seems to be a membrane of connections that’s slowly revealing itself. Any individual thread of information could reveal more about the whole gossamer.

“What sort of rations do they give you?” You carefully search the white powder around you for any remaining stalks to pluck.

“Meaft.” She answers with a mouthful of the fungus. “Ith always meat.” She happily swallows the obsidian mush. “It’s not as good as this, I think the meat they give us is old or something. It always smells and taste really weird, even after cooking it.” She watches you progress to the next fungal stalk. “Do you like to cook?”

Meat? You’ve seen hardly any live animals since coming here, and the plentiful deceased creatures all appear in some grossly altered state. They could be importing it, which could explain the poor quality if shipping takes a long time, or…

“I’ve never been any good at it.” You reply honestly as you stare down at yet another small creature with its belly displayed to the vast sky above. “I suppose I’ve haven’t tried to improve in a long time either.”

Specifically, these altered animals all died with the collective intention of allowing these fungal blooms to grow into the air as unimpeded as possible.

“I can show you how!” She replies eagerly making her way toward you. “I cook all the time at the tavern, even now when there’s not a lot of food, I do my best. My dad always makes me cook these before eating them, even though it ruins the flavor. But still, I like cooking them cause everyone that visits can enjoy my cooking and be happy for a little bit.”

If there’s still a reason for individuals to congregate there, then the tavern is a promising location to restart your investigation.

“Maybe not for cooking, but I’d like to visit for something hot to drink, if that’s alright?” You hand off several off the fungal blooms to the girl.

“Yes! That’s great!” She excitedly stuffs her bounty into an old sack and ties it shut. “We should get going. It’s probably pretty cold if you’re not used to it.” She smiles as she warms her hands in the armpits of her coat.

Despite your insistence otherwise, she pulls off the large flat pieces of rotted wood she uses as snowshoes and the two of you trudge through the shallow sea of powder headed for the town.

The peculiarity of the fungal blooms lingers in your mind as the two of you make slow progress to Impel.

“I’ve never seen fungi grow quite like these before.” You nod toward the sack she carries. “Is that normal around here?”

She looks at you inquisitively. “’Fungi?’ Oh! These?” She laughs mirthfully. “That’s a funny word for them. I always just call them flowers. My dad calls them mushrooms, but they don’t look like any mushrooms that are around here, so I like flowers better. Oh, and they just showed up around when it started snowing this season.”

“They always grow like that, on animals?” You help her regain her footing as she nearly trips.

“Thanks! Hmmmm, yeah, they always grow like that. I think that part is normal right? All animals are used up like that when they get old or die. I’m glad that the flowers can eat the animals, cause we haven’t been able to cause all the animal have been sick since the famine started. But we can eat the flowers just fine!”

Naturally, what she says about decay is perfectly true for most creatures, but there was a force present other than the cycles of life back there.

“You’re right, but…” You reply lost in thought for moment. “Does that happen a lot, where all the animals bunch together like that?”

She shakes her head. “I wish it happened more, so there’d be more food for everyone. But get this! I saw one of the flowers, when I was playing out here a while ago. I ate that one, but I couldn’t find any more. Then a while later, I had a dream.” She crosses her arms on her chest. “I remember it really well. I was lying down like this, but it was really dark. But it wasn’t scary, it was warm, and it sounded like when you listen to someone’s heart. Thump. Thump. Thump.” She recreates the noise emphatically. “Then I felt the flowers growing out of my body. Everywhere! And I felt like I was safe, I was full, and I was so happy.” Her smile is suddenly melancholy as she focuses on carving her way forward. “Then I came out here again the next day and there were more flowers! So, I always come out here and check when I have those dreams, only this time, I found you too!” She laughs playfully.

The sudden memory of your dream makes the cold surroundings all the more sharp, biting, and discomforting.

“You had this dream last night?” You ask to be certain of the timing.

“Yeah!” She nods enthusiastically. “Actually this last time was a little different, because I thought I heard someone’s voice. But all the sounds are always like I’m underwater or something, and I can never see anything.”
File: imp9.png (602 KB, 812x457)
602 KB
602 KB PNG

You calm the disquiet rising in your chest. The fungal blooms, this girl, and the dream you had last night are all connected. Common dreams from an outside influence shouldn’t be possible in this age absent of the gods. Even then, when past gods chose to communicate in such a way, albeit rarely, it was always direct and unambiguous. The amorphous, seemingly undirected influence at work here is unprecedented. Your staff pulses in response to your thoughts.

“What’s Velika like?” The young girl breaks the unintentional silence. “I know it’s big, but like how big? What kind of things do people do there?”

You smile knowingly and begin to explain the massive scope of the city and some of the activities that would be more entertaining to someone of her age.

She gasps in awe repeatedly, and no statement of yours doesn’t come with a set of eager questions from her. You patiently entertain all of them and it makes the drudgery of carving your way through the white powder less noticeable. The stench of the sea, while still present as far as the Devan barracks, grows stronger as you approach the town which is still covered in sickly haze despite the passed snowstorm. However, something new suddenly comes to your attention. A set of footsteps, crunching into the ground more heavily than either of the two of you, but not quite as heavy as you’d expect for a grown man.

You pause in your tracks. “Someone’s coming.”
File: lil1.png (820 KB, 1000x1727)
820 KB
820 KB PNG

“Shoot!” The girl whispers in a panic. “They don’t like when I serve food when there’s still meat. What should I do with this?”

You calmly take the sack from her hands and hide it within your own pack. The figure comes into sight as you hoist the pack up again. As you had suspected, you see a young woman dressed in dark clothes contrasting completely with the white powder surrounding her. The path she carved led not from town, but the forest behind her. As she nears, a perturbing smile forms upon her face and the thin white blade she drags suddenly becomes visible to your eyes. The handle is concealed in her long sleeve, and only a faint glimmer of light reveals the presence of the sword.

“Cyrene.” She states with drawn out syllables. “We are happy to see you again. What sort of trouble are you up to out here with this new. FrienD. Of. Yours?” Her words stick heavily to her teeth as she finishes her question.

“We’re just playing, Liladyne.” Cyrene meekly responds slowly retreating despite the woman not advancing.

The woman flicks her thin sword on the surface of the powder like the tail of an agitated animal. “Madam Liladyne.”

Cyrene quickly nods. “Sorry, Madam Liladyne.”

Liladyne looks beyond the two of you to the path you carved through the snow. “Rather straightforward Path for. Playing. What kind of games were the two of you up To?” She turns her eyes toward you and meets your gaze.

“We went out to-“ Cyrene starts to explain.

Another flick of the sword, almost imperceptible given its speed. “We weren’T asKing you. You there, new girl…Care to explain what sort of games you were up to. Remember to be a good girl. Troublesome girls need punishmenT.”

This one oozes menace from her core. You conceal your smile at finding the first Sanctuary member. Now what to tell her?

>Affirm that the two of you were playing deeper in the woods, and that you were just heading back to the tavern.

>Mock confess that you two were trying to sneak a peek at the Devan barracks.

>Write in.
>Looking for water. We heard about this thing called dowsing from a traveler, but it didn't work. Maybe the stick was the wrong shape.
+1 to >>5093971
That got a chuckle out of me, I admit.

So, I think there might be multiple things going on in this town.
Hybrid creatures (assuming the doctors) and fungus dreams don't really seem on the same page.
Where there's a will, there's a well? Covering with the story about dowsing.

File: thonk.jpg (100 KB, 840x734)
100 KB
100 KB JPG
why would we be looking for water when there's snow
I enjoyed that perplexing aspect of it, and (in my opinion), it felt in line with the strange things children get up to at times.

Anyway, heyo everyone! Update coming hopefully in about 60-90 minutes. The holidays have been unexpectedly busy, despite the time off from work, so thank you as always for your patience.

It’s best to keep in line with the excuse Cyrene already established, but more details would make for a more convincing story. Pouring through excuses you recall an innocuous activity to search for water that children showed you a few decades ago. A charmingly nonsensical act for you to play.

“We were just trying this thing called dowsing I heard from a traveler…” You adjust the pitch in your voice to sound fearful. “But, it didn’t really work.” You turn to Cyrene to keep her focus on you. “Maybe the stick was the wrong shape?”

“Ummm, yeah. Maybe.” Cyrene nods stiffly as she turns back to Liladyne who hastily crunches through the snow to approach the two of you.

Liladyne’s dark eyes focus solely on you as you in turn observe the leather glove on her sword hand tense. You question for a moment whether you’ll need to dodge any attack, but she clearly telegraphs her true intent with her other empty raised hand. You choose not to dodge to feed into your illusion of harmlessness.

She quickly pounces and her left hand roughly clenches around your throat, hoisting you in the air. She grips with poorly restrained cruelty, as she forces you to gaze at her face. She smirks at you at you. “Looking for waTer, is that righT?”

You focus on keeping your hood over your animal ears as she clamps down on your neck. The blood pulses against the shut vessels, any attempts to breathe are cut painfully short. You nod.

“Let her go, Madam! Please! She didn’t do anything bad!” The young girl desperately clutches and pulls at Liladyne’s hip to get her to relent.

“Here’s some water for you!” In one fluid motion, she firmly plants her foot into the ground and then slams you forcefully into the white powder, knocking any remaining air out of you and jarring the bones in your small body.

With ringing ears, and a bruised back you gaze toward the hazy miasmic overcast as you lie supine. This one is an agent of whatever master plan is taking place here. Unravel it, destroy it, and destroy her along with. Her show of force only served to kindle your resolve.

Cyrene rushes toward where you lie and kneels by your side. “You okay, Elly?”

“Elly? You’re terribly lighT, Elly. You need to eaT more, Elly. We have plenty of fooD for you, Elly.” Liladyne looms over you with a sadistic smile twisting on her face. “Good girls are happy to eat what-”

“Could you stop brutalizing the townsfolk, Liladyne?” A new deeply hoarse voice wearily calls out from nearby.
File: byr1.png (529 KB, 670x1193)
529 KB
529 KB PNG

Seething frustration forms on Liladyne’s face as she’s stopped and forced to pull away from you. “Don’t interrupt us. These two were acting insolenT and needed-“

“Needed to be taught to behave.” The man sighs. “Yes, you say that about everyone that you want to torment, but if you’re actually slamming them to the ground…”

You quietly rise to your feet to put a face to the strange voice. A brooding thin and tall figure, similarly incongruous to the surrounding white powder while cloaked in dark armor and clothing. At his hip rests a large and misshapen club, pieces of the thick wood chipped away from heavy use. Another enforcer type. His empty dark eyes fall upon your form and inspects you.

“Ahh. My apologies, young one.” He languidly motions to his companion. “The smaller and more endearing the more they fall out of line.” He gives you a slight bow before he impatiently pulls his companion out of human earshot. “You overstep once again, and we will have to let the Archon know of it, and given how we’re nearing completion of the Refinement, they will no longer tolerate any missteps. Control yourselves.”

Archon must refer to whoever is orchestrating what’s happening in this town, but you can only fathom a guess as to what the “Refinement” could be. What’s more, you’re noticing the strange habit the two of them have with referring to themselves constantly in plural.

“Is thaT all you came here to Tell me, Byrne?” Liladyne seethes anger into every punctuated syllable.

“Of course not.” He chides. “We’re needed in the maturation pit, and until the flesh transfer tonight we’re to search for the runaway slave…” He glances over his companion at the two of you, and then approaches, looming high above either of you. “Little ones…you know about how to keep away from the Devan, right? They’re violent, diseased, and don’t feel any sort of remorse about the harm they cause.”

Cyrene quickly nods, and you follow suit.

“Well…” He rubs the back of his neck. “We don’t want to scare you two, but we think you’re old enough to know the truth. One of the Devan workers was being punished for…stealing what didn’t belong to him. But he escaped and attacked and hurt humans while doing so. We want to apprehend him before he can harm anyone else. Have either of you seen or heard about this dangerous Devan?” He calmly eyes the two of you.

“My dad always says to stay away from them, so I haven’t seen any.” Cyrene chimes in eagerly.

“Good, your father is wise to tell you so.” He focuses on you with his vacant eyes. “We're not going to hurt you, little one. So, did you see anything?"

These two are searching for Hraska. If they happen to head to the barracks before he recovers enough to slip away, or you haven't had the chance to warn him, they will very likely capture and interrogate him about his arm. You could lie to throw them off the trail and buy additional time until they head to the barracks tonight. By then, he would had plenty of time to recover and slip away unnoticed. This of course, comes with significant risk to your own cover if they ever find out that you're lying.

>Chance that they won't head to the barracks early, and report that you haven't seen any Devan.

>Cover for Hraska by reporting that you spotted a Devan heading in the opposite direction to the barracks.

>Write in.
>Cover for Hraska by reporting that you spotted a Devan heading in the opposite direction to the barracks
Need to lie, or else Hraska will probably spill the beans on us, anyways, if he is caught
Where are the fungal blooms, relative to the barracks? we need to sync up the lie with tracks in the snow

The barracks are due southwest of your current position, with the fungal blooms slightly off course from that line (fungal bloom northeast of the barracks, all fungi have been plucked). The town is also to the northeast, and forest surrounds you in all directions. I will also add that unless those questioning you take a straight shot at where you came any tracks will be lost to the wind in a short amount of time.

Please let me know if anything else needs clarification!
>Partially lie about the direction we came from to line up with the barracks, but say we didn't see anything in the snow earlier in the day.
>“Is thaT all you came here to Tell me, Byrne?” Liladyne seethes
she does us the singular first person here, bit goofy right after Elewyn points out the opposite. she also seethes twice in one post, instead of coping
Woops, I was keeping an eye out for "I" and not enough for "me." Thanks for that, I'll keep it in mind for the future!
These two can't really be synthesized, so I'll leave the vote open for a while longer for a tie breaker, or decide with a roll if needed.
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>Cover for Hraska by reporting that you spotted a Devan heading in the opposite direction to the barrack

>Partially lie about the direction we came from to line up with the barracks, but say we didn't see anything in the snow earlier in the day.

>Rolling 1d2, and writing outcome!
Heyo everyone, a quick check-in to let you know that the update will be posted sometime in the later evening (PST), as I will be out of the house until then. I'll probably take a few days break centered around Christmas as well, but I'll think it over and let you know after I post today's update.
Back home, so update incoming in ~45 minutes!

Given the condition you left him in, if Hraska is captured at the barracks and subsequently interrogated, he would expose your cover and endanger your overall investigation. You’ll take the risk here to keep these two enforcers' attention away from the barracks.

You keep your gaze locked on your shoes. “I-I think I saw someone this morning leaving town. They were headed that way…” You make a show of shakily pointing toward the northern edge of Impel, and then bring your hands back together. “But I’m not sure if it was a Devan cause it was still dark. He looked hurt, like his arm was hurt or something, but that’s all I saw…”

The enforcer’s dull eyes light up with realization as he hastily turns back to his companion. “We need to head back to town now. The mea…Devan is headed to the northern mountains. We’ll need to head him off before he’s out of our reach.”

Liladyne shakes her head impatiently. “Then why do we need to head bacK to town? We’ll waste precious Time-“

“The Archon is expecting us in the maturation pit.” He argues without even bothering to step away from you and Cyrene. “We need to get her approval to pursue.” He faces back toward you with exasperation in his voice. “Come with us, little one. We need you to share what you saw.” He firmly grips your arm and begins leading you to Impel.

Your cover story was believable enough such that put secrecy aside in favor of expedience. You allow him to haul you in hopes that his haste brings you to a destination the two of them would normally keep more guarded.

“You’re not in trouble, so focus on trying to remember everything that you saw.” He forcefully plows through the white powder, carving a path for you, Cyrene closely following, and Liladyne sealing off the rear of your group.

“Elly…” Cyrene speaks with quiet worry. “Should I go get my dad?”

You shake your head calmly. “He said that we’re not in trouble. We can go to the tavern after I’m done.” You pat the hidden fungi in your pack to assure her that you haven’t forgotten about them.

File: imp2.png (690 KB, 598x761)
690 KB
690 KB PNG

You eventually reach the smoke belching buildings of Impel, with residents already burning coal to warm themselves, and start the day. The stench of rotting sea life, the city is currently acutely cursed with, blends with this smog and quickly discolors the fresh white powder. A fresh layer of this yellow haze coats the deeply stained buildings. The heat from these nearby buildings slurries this soiled powder to resemble melting fat.

With heavy breathes, the Sanctuary enforcer slices through the clogged arteries of the town and reaches his destination at a newly constructed tower standing above most of its more pragmatic counterparts.

With a flurry of solid blows on the heavy wood door, the enforcer announces your arrival. After a few short moments with only the wind whistling through the streets for noise, the sounds of heavy metal locks can be heard in motion, and finally the heavy door creaks open.

You check the structure for any markings or signs that might distinguish it and other buildings as belonging to the Sanctuary, but from the outside its markedly plain.

A figure robed in black opens the door slightly and eyes Byrne first, then pauses on you, Cyrene, Liladyne, then finally returns to where he started. “You’re supposed to be-“

“We know where we’re supposed to be. We have urgent information on the escaped Devan, and are here to report to…” He turns back and eyes you right behind him. “The Lady.”

The robed figure contemplates the report before speaking again. “Do all of them need to be here?” He asks flatly.

The enforcer quickly turns back to his companion. “Take this one back to her home, and keep in mind what we discussed earlier…” He motions for Cyrene to be led away.

“Wait!” Cyrene objects as she’s already being forcefully pulled by Liladyne.

“It will be alright!” Byrne shouts impatiently without even bothering to look back. “It will be.” He repeats to you as he guides you inside.
File: imp20.jpg (128 KB, 1194x538)
128 KB
128 KB JPG

The world is quickly darkened as the door slams shut behind you with the robed figure securing it with two large latches. As your eyes adjust to the dark, you find yourself at the base of a thin, winding stairwell. An imposing black metal core spans from the base to the summit, ensconcing space even further beyond the tower’s exterior. Any activities happening within the tower lie within metal core, blocked off by massive sliding doors that are currently shut. Sparse, dim torches wind upward in disparate patterns giving the disorienting impression that you’re looking at something resembling the night sky, paired with a pulsing hum that can be heard beyond the core.

This isn’t any sort of sentry watchtower. You place a hand on the outside of metal and feel warmth radiating from within.

“It’ll be a quick trip to the top…” The enforcer motions for you to follow the stairs upward. “But do watch your step.”

Every step you take on the thin wooden steps to the top you plant your hand on the metal core and feel the same consistent warmth regardless of the height. The noises within are a cacophony of heavy machinery along with sloshing and squelching. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any entry point other than at the base. With answers painfully close, the temptation to force your way inside gnaws at you, only quelled by the knowledge that this is simply one tendril of the Sanctuary’s body. Too early to risk anything of that sort.

Eventually, the stairs level out into a small landing that stands in front of a simple wooden door.

The enforcer takes a moment to catch his breath from the journey before knocking gently on the outside. “My lady, we need to speak with you urgently about the runaway Devan. We brought someone that spotted him earlier today.”

A heavy pause before a soft voice responds. “Please come in, Byrne.”

The enforcer takes another long deep breath before gently opening the door.

The sweet floral aroma reaches you before either of you can see inside but is quickly accompanied by the sight of a large study filled to the brim with tomes and parchment haphazardly scattered across the room. The contrasting noises from within the metal core cease when the door is shut, and in its place is a simple hummed melody that you suddenly recall from the dream you had last night.
File: ena1.png (478 KB, 564x903)
478 KB
478 KB PNG

You tense at the realization and clutch your staff tightly.

Byrne immediately falls to one knee in a deep bow before hurrying to the figure standing toward the large desk.

A pale, thin woman turns to receive Byrne's hushed message with the same calm expression on her face throughout the entire report. Quietly comely and dressed in simple dark clothes, she strikes an unassuming figure until she turns her gaze upon you. Her sharp blue eyes study you as Byrne finishes his report, and you’re stuck meeting each other’s stare. A smile forms on her face as she softly shakes her head in response to the enforcer’s last words.

She turns and places a hand on his shoulder. “Questioning her won’t be necessary. I believe this young girl is telling the truth. Take two of our brethren from here and split them between you and Liladyne. Please head to maturation chamber, as the issue there needs a softer touch. Let Liladyne pursue the escaped Devan. He couldn’t have got far in his condition, unless he had help…”

“Understood, Fl- My lady.” He bows quickly and heads toward you. “Here, let’s get you out of here.”

“That won’t be needed, Byrne.” The pale woman calls out and then walks toward you as well. “I would like to have a chat with this adorable stranger.”

File: imp23.jpg (149 KB, 864x1080)
149 KB
149 KB JPG


You settle into a chair at her behest with her sitting opposite to you across her large desk. Gazing around under the guise of nervousness you catch that most of the opened texts involve either the geography of the surroundings lands, astronomy, or anatomy of humans and various animals.

“I hope that you don’t mind the mess.” She says playfully as she studies you. “I wasn’t expecting any visitors today, but I’m glad to have you here, Miss…”

“Elly.” You respond with a bashful tone to your voice.

“Elly? What a cute name!” She brings her hands to her cheek. “Please call me Enais. Ah, but where are my manners? Here, since you’re my guest allow me to prepare you something to eat, I must insist." She stands from her desk and walks over to a small table where she reaches into a chest filled with ice. "Doesn't this look delectable?" She holds a thick cut of fatty red meat in her bare hand. "It's almost a shame to cook it...How cooked do you like meat, Elly?" She asks as she walks over to a small fire pit where basic cooking gear lies, and looks at you expectantly.

You're certainly not hungry for whatever this woman has to offer given the memory of last night's dream, and overhearing the enforcer refer to the movement of Devan corpses as a flesh transfer. However, refusing would be unusual given the current state of the famine here. The meat could also be from something that would normally be eaten. Would she even tell you if it wasn't? There's a delicate balance of factors here, and you're sure that her eyes don't miss much.

>Refuse stating that your stomach doesn't feel well.

>Accept her offer. (How would you like your meat?)

>Write in.
(Looking ahead at the next few days, and balancing limited schedule with the desire to keep writing, I'm going with a shorter length update strategy, which works well for where we are in the story. So: 24th and 25th will feature updates that are shorter than average, and the 26th will pick up as usual.)
>Accept her offer.
Fried. Is there a velikan equivalent?
Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I really do hope that you're able to spend today how you see fit. Whatever the holiday means to you, please indulge and make time for yourself and those you care about.

Yup, a pan fry would be certainly possible, but a deep fry would be too tall an order for the setup.

Leaving the vote open to hopefully get at least one or two more posts. I'll keep an eye out in the meantime.
>Well cooked
Not an ideal situation, but to refuse would arouse too much suspicion, unless we want to shank her and bail on this place asap. Which, honestly, Stunning her and hiding for backup doesn’t sound like a terrible idea.
Warily accepting her offer and asking for our serving to be pan fried and well cooked.

>Writing will likely commence later tonight, with an update posted around the end of the day

Refusing would arouse too much suspicion given how little there is to eat in this state of famine. She’s also displayed peculiar fondness for the meat, which would add extra salt to the refusal. Meaning that you’ll have to accept, but you’ve at least strategized a way she might refuse to follow through with sharing.

“I…like it when it’s pan fried and well cooked.” You reply demurely and watch as your soft words stab into her like a knife into a shank steak.

“You wound me, Elly!” She holds the bloody slab of meat close to her chest before regaining her composure and smiling softly. “But you do remind me very much of when I was young and had such preferences.” She sets up the pan and the wood for the flame. “However, I can’t bring myself to sacrifice anything more than a small portion of this cut. I think I have some dried fruit around here somewhere that you can have as well.” She gazes around her office as if unsure.

Looking past her gushing about the thick cut of meat like a deranged gourmand, she’s situated both figuratively and literally at the top of the Sanctuary cabal. You were only brought to her to validate the claims about spotting the Devan, but she didn't deem that important and she’s currently taking the time to make you breakfast amid their ongoing plot. It’s time to carefully delve into why that is and do your best to keep your head.

You fidget as if uncomfortable by her reply. “I’m sorry… I just… Am I in trouble or something?”

“I don’t know. Did you do something to be in trouble, Elly?” Her voice low with menace as she turns from watching the pan to you.

You eye her carefully and weigh the option of stunning her and escaping in your mind. For now, you’ll continue your façade until you have no other option.

“Oh, I’m only playing! But the way you glared at me…” She presses the meat onto the hot pan with her bare hand, searing the bottom. “I could just eat you up.” She then goes about quickly flipping the meat, lightly searing the outside, then removing it from the pan. With a long thin blade, she slices off a small portion and places it back into the pan. “The reason why you’re still here is because you’re special, Elly. Intolerably special…”

She flips your portion of meat and cooks it as you instructed before plating it and handing it off to you with a set of utensils.

“Special how?” You ask with authentic curiosity.

“That is what I’m dying to figure out.” She winks as she settles across the desk. “It may sound strange to you, but I received a recent…gift. It makes very attuned to sensing one particular aspect of people, but detection is where that begins and ends.” She begins slicing into her large portion of rare-cooked meat. "I can't divine what causes it to be present in the first place."

That type of perception sounds magic influenced. You eye your staff nearby your foot.

“Then what aspect can you sense?” You ask with a worried tone painted to your voice.

She places a cut of the meat in her mouth and chews it tenderly for a long time before wagging her finger at you. “Please eat first.” She stares at you expectantly with her sharp blue eyes.

You slowly slice into your small portion of cooked meat, and then matching her gaze, bring it to your mouth and chew. The taste is light, far lighter than you would ever suspect given how well cooked the meat was rendered, and the flavor is unlike anything you can recall eating in the past, but not unpleasant. You force yourself to swallow the mystery dish, the first solid food you’ve given your stomach in…a very long time.

She appears quite satisfied by your eating, and the two of you eat quietly for a time before she speaks up again. “Sorry to ask this but I must. Elly, my dear… How much death have you seen?”

Your teeth slide together upon hearing the question. You don't even allow yourself to fully consider the real answer as you need to be able to keep focused on maintaining your cover. So is leaving now the best way to do that? Then again, could sharing a little about yourself allow you to learn this gift of hers and how she came to receive it?

>Ask if you can leave, right now.

>"Too much."

>Write in
We need to stick around a bit longer
>Talk about seeing some people getting "too cold"
>We’ve seen people freezing to death, right? Describe the bodies after the fact.
Try to tell no lies. Cover the bases, I guess?
Merry Christmas, everyone! It's been unseasonably warm here, so it "feels" a little less like Christmas, but I'm still enjoying myself.

Anyway, on the topic of temperature:

Stick around and respond honestly that we have seen the bodies of those frozen to death.

>Writing, update to come out probably near the end of the day.

You’ve come too far to leave now. By offering a bit of the truth you won’t necessarily ruin your cover, and given her affable demeanor toward you, she could let slip information regarding what the Sanctuary’s goal is here.

You use the opportunity to place your remaining cut of meat on the desk and rest your hands on your lap. “That’s… That’s really hard to…” You catch her gazing at you expectantly and then solemnly nod in response. “Lots, Miss Enais. I’ve seen lots.”

She closes her eyes with a content smile on her face. “Tell me more, please.”

You clench your hands tightly and fix your eyes on the half-eaten cut of meat, juices leaking onto the stark white plate. “They, they must’ve been too cold. Their bodies were frozen, stuck in the way they died. Peaceful, angry, sad, they all looked different, but all of them were frozen in the same way. I saw them all.”

“The Devan.” She states more than she asks. “They truly are a wretched and pitiable people. But in that state, they truly are the most blessed they could ever hope to be.” She opens her eyes and smiles warmly at you. “If you’re wondering how I know what you saw it’s because I’m kept aware of the death that happens here, human, Devan, animals, it all comes under my purview. I’ve seen the Devan frozen as you described so eloquently.”

Now. Now is the opportunity to turn the questioning around.

“Why does it need to happen? Why does them dying make them blessed?” You ask with childish outrage painted in your voice.

She folds her hands in her lap, the same as you. “They die because we need them to, Elly. They must. But through it all they are blessed because it connects them to something greater. Much like how the meat you ate will be incorporated into your adorable form and in turn becomes part of your pale skin, the blood in your veins, and even those stunning eyes of yours.” She waves off a question before you have the chance to ask. “Don’t worry, I would never feed you a Devan, my dear Elly. I only aim to say that the Devan are poised like no other creature for a similar blessed fate as that meat: they are plentiful, they reproduce prolifically, they aren’t tethered with the same protections humans have, and of course, they are sufficiently intelligent to be fully aware of their own suffering.”

You sit aghast at the carefree admittance of such a slaughter. You never had any special affinity toward the Devan, but to be used like meat and intentionally forced to suffer all the while is grossly inhumane. Are the Elin are being made to suffer for the same twisted vision?

“What is the purpose in their suffering?” You ask coldly.

She stands from her seat and walks over to you before kneeling in front of you. “Suffering is transformative.

Enais suddenly rests her head in your lap. “That is what I can sense in people, Elly, suffering. I could barely taste the meat in your presence because of how much oozes from your little body.” She lingers there for a moment before standing once again. “I’m very sorry if it seemed like I was making light of suffering, Elly. Nothing could be further from the truth actually.” She lifts you from your seat and embraces you tightly, as the sweet aroma you detected upon entering this room nearly overwhelms you. “I do not blame you for being drawn the Devan as you have, nor for being as guarded as you are around me. But I hope that we can become better friends, and that way I can share with you what we hope to do here in this town.” She places you back down on the ground. “Will you come visit me again tomorrow? I would not hold it against you if don't wish to join us right now, but I may still visit you if you don't.” She laughs softly.

An offer to become part of the Sanctuary, likely in return for letting her become intimately acquainted with your experiences. Accepting would provide an advantageous means of infiltration, but would come at the cost of being kept close by this zealot. Unfortunately, now that you've come to her attention she's keen on keeping tabs on you.

>Accept the invitation to visit Enais again tomorrow.

>Politely decline stating that there's too much you disagree with to join.

>Write in.
>Politely decline stating that there's too much you disagree with to join.
We could bargain and claim to join for the sake of getting food/water for our family, but I am getting some seriously bad mojo from this.
Heyo everyone, just a quick check in. I do hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas.

Still looking for one or two more votes, so I'll keep the choice open for now while keeping an eye on it.
>>Politely decline stating that there's too much you disagree with to join.
Keeping our distance for now with potential for bargaining later on.

Update in about 1 hour
File: imp5.png (1.22 MB, 1221x520)
1.22 MB
1.22 MB PNG

It’s a tempting offer, having an insider view into the Sanctuary’s organization. However, you’re wary about playing into her desires before fully understanding what she and the Sanctuary have planned here.

You shake your head. “I'm sorry, but I don’t think I can reconcile with…everything you told me. It’s too much for me, and I can’t agree with it. I wouldn’t want to be a part of it.…”

She takes a long breath and sighs. “Oh, Elly. It makes me sad to hear that, but…it is your choice after all.” She lightly brushes your cheek with the back of her hand. “However, don’t expect me to give up. I only need to think of ways to show what you stand to lose if you don’t join us.” She quickly withdraws her hand and then walks over to a small table to pull out a small bag, which she returns to give to you. “The dried fruit I promised. Do be careful where you eat that, Elly. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

After that, she escorts you back to the base of the tower, during which you hear a great amount of liquid pouring from within the core.

Enais tenderly touches the outside of the great metal cylinder along the way. “Ahh, I must’ve lost track of the time if you’re already providing us your blessing.” She turns back to you and smiles knowingly at you, with face half illuminated in the low light. “Work never ends.”

Once at the entrance of the tower, she tightly embraces you and warmly bids you farewell as the heavy wooden door closes behind you. Once again you’re cast into the cold and fetid outdoors, which is tinged a sickening yellow as the day gains more purchase. Ensuring that you’re not being watched, you step a short distance away from the tower entrance and forcefully shove two of your fingers deep within your throat. You feel your diaphragm and stomach react to the sudden stimulus, and you gag onto your hand again and again, feeling your throat clench up tightly, before the burning chewed contents of your stomach are forcefully expelled onto the melting white powder. The taste of bile and meat stain your mouth as you bury the mess.

First meal in such a long time and it had to be under such suspicious circumstances.

With a foul taste in your mouth, you trudge away from the Sanctuary tower reconciling what you learned from Enais with what you already knew. The sick and injured Devan slaves within the town of Impel are purposefully made to wallow and expire in suffering. Their bodies are then hauled off by their own kin to be incorporated into “something greater” than themselves at a location that is still unknown to you. This process the Devan are forced through is the “flesh transfer”, while the assimilation of their corpses likely involves their main goal of “refinement.”
File: cyr1.jpg (130 KB, 1000x1000)
130 KB
130 KB JPG

You cautiously keep your head low as you pass two slow walking figures, their stares linger upon your frame, and you’re forced to rush along. Why were they watching you so carefully? Are they also with the Sanctuary? The Sanctuary have indeed established themselves within this town, but under whose jurisdiction? This isn’t simply a group acting in the shadows, they are walking freely. Furthermore, under whose permission could such an extensive tower be built? Under whose jurisdiction could dozens if not hundreds of Devans be sentenced to a long and painful death? Under whose jurisdiction could your kind be decapitated like animals?

All for some refinement? Why?!

Your breath is heavy as you plow through a thick and high layer of cold white powder that seeps into your shoes and clings to your legs. You stop in the middle of the road as you’ve nearly exhausted yourself and lean on your staff to take in the stinging cold air. Numbness is starting to seep into your toes, and your tired hands are red-raw from the cold you’ve been exposing them to these past few days.

Flesh and suffering. Everything here is a vehicle toward those ends, perhaps even the dream. Follow them and you’ll have your answer. You press on through the cold.


Your tights and shoes are saturated with cold water as you enter the tavern. The warmth is a double-edged sword that is vitally required but your extremities sting upon recognizing its return. The rundown and weathered tavern has a scant few benches for patrons with the outside light and cold filtering in from thins cracks in the walls and roof. The humble hearth isn’t lit, and at this time there isn’t anyone beside yourself in sight.

Eventually, you hear rustling from within the kitchen and decide to investigate. Upon entering the small kitchen, you spot Cyrene’s figure leaning over a steaming mug of fluid poking at the contents with a spoon. The complete dusty emptiness of the pantry and cupboards are exposed in dim discolored glow radiating from one small window.

Cyrene gasps in surprise upon noticing you, but quickly recovers and then places the mug on a small tray and carefully walks over to you. “I was worried that they weren’t going to let you go! Here.” She presents the of the tray to you. “I found some old tea leaves. I actually don’t know how old they are, but I think they’re still good to use. These here are fruit piths, but they still have some bits on them!”

You stare at the fluid within the cup which has the same coloration as regular hot water, and the piths which do in fact have small strips of fruit still on them. You smile kindly at the young girl. “Thank you. I could really use something warm to drink. But I have something to give you as well.”

You retrieve the small bag of dried fruit from your bag that Enais gave you with hardly a second thought and present the contents.

“Elly!” Cyrene gasps in a startled whisper. “Where in the world did you get these?” Her eyes wide as if terrified at the sight.

“A lady in the tower gave me them. I had some before I left, so these are for you.” You try to hand them off to her, but she vehemently refuses.

“You have to hide these.” She pushes them back to you. “Save them so you don’t have to eat that awful meat.”

You recall what she told you earlier in the morning about the foul-tasting meat she is forced to eat. The description was entirely dissimilar to what you were given by Enais.

"No, really. I want to share them with..." You try to insist, but are distracted by the condition of her hands, which you can now appreciate as they ungloved. The tips of her fingers are covered in large purple-red wounds, as if someone scraped the skin away repeatedly. The rawness of them indicates to you that they aren't healing properly.

She notices you staring and quickly retracts her hands. "They're ugly aren't they?..." The two of you stand quietly as she focuses her gaze away from your eyes. "I don't do it on purpose. It just happens in my sleep. Even if I wear gloves! Sometimes I also dream about food, and eating it and yeah..."

She gnaws her fingers in her sleep due to hunger. Seeing her hands in that terrible condition makes you instinctively want to heal them with your magic. However, using your magic on her would mean relying on a young girl to keep that a secret, and not blow your cover, not to mention it's a temporary fix if the root issue is not addressed.

>Ask her to close her eyes for a moment and heal her hands with your magic.

>Don't risk your cover. The dried fruit will keep her from gnawing for a short time.

>Write in.
>Don't risk your cover. The dried fruit will keep her from gnawing for a short time.
Those who suffer hear the call. I don't think she'll accept the fruit if we heal her, and if she does it'll be easy to question her if someone finds the fruit.

Mushrooms are fed dead animals
Devan are fed mushrooms?
Humans are fed Devan?
and Suffering accumulates with every step in the chain.

We could possibly request to sleep with her, both to monitor the biting and the dreams, as well as keep a witness if the Sanctuary comes knocking.
>>Don't risk your cover. The dried fruit will keep her from gnawing for a short time.
>Don't risk your cover. The dried fruit will keep her from gnawing for a short time.
Heyo everyone! I hope that all of your days are off to a good start.

We'll avoid using magic in this instance, and make sure to hand off the food.

I'll also try to incorporate being there to monitor for the biting and the dreams, but I can't say for certain where we'll be come late night.

Update incoming in about an hour!

You silently accept the limitations of your magic in this case, and since you’ve endeavored to maintain your cover so far, it won’t be here that you ruin it.

After setting aside the tray, you take her hands which are warm in comparison to your own. Then, you attempt to get her to look at you. “They aren’t ugly, but they do need time to heal. Trust me, if you eat the fruit, then you won’t bite your fingers in your sleep. I know a little bit about medicine, so these are your prescription. I already took mine today, so I can’t have any more.”

She briefly looks at you before shyly gazing away. “I never liked medicine too much.”

“You’ll like these.” Her hands are finally pliant enough to receive the bag which you hand off to her. “I want you to have some today but be careful who you eat them around.”

You mirror everyone’s advice to conceal any food that comes your way.

She takes the bag with a slow nod, followed by a mischievous smile as she squirrels away the bag within her shirt.

Recalling the other so-called food within your bag, you retrieve the sack of dark fungal blooms the two of you collected earlier in the day. “This too. I know you like to share it with others, so be sure to take some for yourself.”

Confronting the severity of the famine repeatedly leaves you with no will left to advise her not to eat the strange fungi, despite your instinctual rejection of their form.

Her eyes light up even more as she happily accepts the collected harvest. “Oh, I thought for sure that they would’ve taken this away from you. I didn’t even start the fire in the tavern because-“ She shakes her head and looks around the sparse kitchen.” “I’ll go do it now, and uhh, I need to start on these before it’s lunch time.”

Amused, you watch her collect pots to cook with. “Customers will know to come?” You ask, probing whether there will be the chance to gather information here.

“If they see the smoke, they’ll know. Oh, and we don’t charge them anything, cause times are tough, so they aren’t really customers, just people we want to help.” Once she’s collected the pots, she starts rolling up her sleeves.
File: imp14.png (876 KB, 726x598)
876 KB
876 KB PNG

“You’re not worried that the ‘doctors’ will see the smoke as well?” You pick up the mug that you set aside earlier.

“Yeah, but the food I make with the flowers is always eaten up before they get here, so it’s not like they can do anything.” Cyrene carefully wraps two of the large pots in her arms. “Nobody really likes the meat they give us. We only eat it when there’s nothing else, so I don’t mind if I get in trouble, as long as I can keep serving the food.” She looks timidly at her feet. “Everyone in town is dealing with so much, it… I just feel happy when I can help with that, you know?”

Even at her own risk, she chooses to put others ahead of herself. It might be naïve, and the gesture may be small in the grand scheme of things, but…

You softly nod in agreement take a deep sip of your now lukewarm drink. The flavor is so subtle that if you were in any sort of rush, you’d completely miss it. A light floral aftertaste, completely at odds with the endless scenery of white and cold. The scant few leaves helplessly rise and fall at the mercy of the thermal currents in the water, but the drink would be completely different in their absence.

She only wants to limit the suffering of people however she possibly can.

You nod resolutely. “I’ll help you with get the fire going.”

“But-“ Cyrene starts to protest but is thoroughly shut down by your firm gaze. She smiles brightly at you. “Everything you need should be by the hearth. Let me know if you need any help!” She heads off to retrieve water for cooking.

You take your drink and head back into the tavern to get the fire going. Sure enough, everything you need is kept stacked at the flank of the hearth. It doesn’t take you very long before you have the fire going. You decide to set your pack and staff down, plant yourself on the carpet in front of it, take off your shoes, and warm your soaked feet, and dry your stockings by the flames.

After a few minutes of relaxing, Cyrene comes from the kitchen to check in on you. “Nice job! It’ll be warm in here in no time, and I already have the water heating for the food.” She settles down next to you and plucks off her shoes just the same as you. “I’m making soup because it warms you up when you eat it.”

You nod silently as you watch the thin pieces of wood crack under the heat of the insatiable flame.

“Your feet are so small, Elly.” Cyrene notes as she pokes hers into yours, then lies back on the carpet lost in thought for a while before she sits up suddenly. “You should spend the night, here! I mean, we don’t have a spare bed, but you don’t look like you take up a lot of space, and-“ She stops as she catches you raising a bemused eyebrow. “No good?”

Considering her offer…you’re not opposed to staying here instead of somewhere like the Devan barracks. Furthermore, you could also keep an eye on her during her sleep to monitor for the biting and her dreams, but it’s your investigation that will dictate where you end up tonight.

You wrap your arms around your knees and rest your head. “I’d like that, but I might have…work to take care of tonight. But if I can get away from that, I will come here, I promise.”

Her expression was clouded with disappointment until you made the promise, which she seems quite satisfied with. “Sounds good!” Her head suddenly turns toward the kitchen. “Oh no, the water. Will you help me, Elly?”

You smile at her. “Sure.”

File: imp16.jpg (38 KB, 384x512)
38 KB


As Cyrene had prediction, patrons of the tavern began to arrive shortly after the two of you had nearly finished with the food. Despite the cold weather and the meager portions of soup being handed out, the mood was light, as Cyrene managed the tavern while you decided to remain in the kitchen and dole out portions of dark colored soup.

“Ahh, you’re a lifesaver, Cyrene.”

“Three over here, Cyrene!”

“Can I take some back to my kids?”

“Find a way to make the meat we get taste half as good, and I’ll marry you.”

“As if she’d want to marry an old geezer like you.”

You hear the door open once again to kitchen as you prepare another tray to hand off to Cyrene.

She hurriedly walks over to you with a bright smile. “Who’d have thought they would like it this much!” She carefully balances the tray. “You sure you don’t want to come out there and meet them?”

“It’s better that I stay here so that we can keep up the pace.” You respond, already gathering more small bowls for the next batch.

“Oh right.” She remembers the looming threat of the supposed “doctors” showing up and hastily whisks away the tray back to the tavern.

You set aside a large bowl for her to eat once this is done. The two of you work efficiently until the pots have been scraped dry, and Cyrene politely bids the patrons farewell until the tavern reopens in the evening to serve drinks. You finish snuffing out the cooking fires when you hear the tavern entrance open once again. A bowl dropping in the tavern snaps you to attention.

“Umm, we’re closed and uhh, I need to help get the place ready for the evening.” Cyrene explains with concern clear in her voice.

“It’s alright.” An old male’s voice responds in long drawn-out words. “We’re only here to ask you a few questions, Cyrene.”

The door opens once again, and you hear a heavy set of footsteps enter the tavern.

“Dad!” Cyrene calls out in relief and can be heard rushing toward her father.

“What business do the two of you have with my daughter?” A deep voice asks sternly to the quieted figures.

A new man’s voice sighs and speaks up. “Under the authority of the health administration of Impel, we are here to investigate the potential hazardous food being served here. You’re aware of the food scarcity this town is faced with sir, any unknown sources outside of the given rations could be a threat to health of this town.”

“It’s not hazardous!” Cyrene shoots back with frustration. “It’s just…”

“We’re here to judge that. If you could share the source of the food that was being served here, then we can be on our way.

Silence fills the air, as Cyrene refuses to reveal anything about the fungal bloom she served.

“Sir…If we can’t examine the source of this food for ourselves, we’ll have to shut down this business and prevent any further usage of this building.”

“This is my home!” Cyrene’s father shoots back furiously. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I don’t know who the hell you people are or why you think you have the authority to shut me down.”

We assure you, sir, we do have that authority. But we don’t want to have to do that, all we’re asking is for the source of the illicit food served today.”

The heaving breath of Cyrene’s father can heard from where you stand. “Just tell the idiots already, Cyrene. They’ll see that everything is fine here, and that they’re completely out of line.”

“But, dad…” Cyrene pleads, knowing full well that these visitors have some ulterior motive that won’t allow for the serving of any food outside of the rations they provide.

The silence builds in the tavern as you consider if you should take any action. If you step in to help, it would naturally bring unwanted attention to your presence in the town, but considering how much these strange blooms mean to Cyrene...

>Remain silent and hidden within the kitchen.

>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize getting them to leave.

>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize extracting information about why they so adamantly want the ration meat consumed.

>Write in.
>>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize getting them to leave.
I don't think we'll get anything on the rations that we don't already suspect, and it's also not like they'll starve by the time backup arrives.

We still have the Enais card to play, but it's not really needed unless things get physical
Heyo everyone, I hope that you're all finding something enjoyable to pass the time during the interim period between Christmas and New Years. This time always seems to pass by in a blur each year.

Anyway, we currently sit at a tie as I'm interpreting this vote >>5100087
as a vote to stay put. I'll leave the window open for a little while longer, and tally what we have then.
>>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize extracting information about why they so adamantly want the ration meat consumed.
Rolled 3 (1d3)

We have a tie between three choices, so I'll leave it to a roll off.

>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize getting them to leave.
Choice = 1

Remain hidden unless absolutely necessary.
Choice = 2

>Step in and explain that you found them as you were traveling here. Prioritize extracting information about why they so adamantly want the ration meat consumed.
Choice = 3

>Rolling 1d3, and writing the outcome!
Update coming up in about 1 hour!
File: mod7.jpg (25 KB, 359x666)
25 KB

In your conflict between choosing to stay out of the way or not, you realize that you could leverage more information from the two visitors regarding their part of the Sanctuary’s plan.

You take a deep breath before exiting the kitchen. “Cyrene, I finished tidying up so where…” With a stunned expression you observe the new figures standing in the tavern. Cyrene and her burly father stand flanking one side of the tavern entrance, with two darkly clothed older men with faces partially concealed on the other side.

“Who’s this now?” Cyrene’s father turns to you impatiently. “One of your friends, Cyrene?”

Clinging onto her father’s side, Cyrene turns to you with an anxious expression. “Elly, you can keep waiting in the kitchen…I’ll be right there.”

The two cloaked figures eye you for a moment longer before turning back to Cyrene and her father. The younger of the two continues. “Right… To reiterate, we don’t want to make a scene in front of children, so if you could inform us already where you acquired the food served here today-“

You signal to Cyrene with a quick wink before gasping suddenly. “Ah.” You cover your mouth with a guilty expression.

“Hmm?” The older Sanctuary member steps slightly toward you. “Do you have something to share about the food, young girl?”

You take a shaky step back. “I didn’t know it was bad. I-I don’t want to get in trouble.”

The older man dismissively waves your worry off with his hand. “No one is in trouble yet, girl. As we were telling this man here, we’re in charge of maintaining the health of the town during this time of duress. Any strange new sources of food need to be approved by us first before it can be doled out like it was here earlier.”

Your back bumps against the door to the kitchen, and you turn to it as if you were considering fleeing. “I-I… I’m the one that brought them.” You admit with shame in your voice.

“Then tell us from where from then, girl.” The other cloaked figure presses forward aggressively, clearly growing tired of the questioning.

You fidget with your hands as you explain “I brought them, the mushrooms. When I traveled here I found them when my caravan was resting. I heard that there were hungry people here, so I thought it could help…”

The older man looms over you. “The rations we have in place do just fine, girl.”

“But isn’t that just meat? Shouldn’t the rations be more balanced?” You ask quietly.

The older one continues to explain. “We offer what we safely have available to offer, girl. The rations are gifted to us by a generous benefactor, which would be a blasphemous shame to go to waste.”

You mouth his words as if processing the information and then turn back to him. “ I don’t understand. Isn’t a waste to let other food go to waste? What makes the meat safe, and why can’t people decide what they want to eat?”

“We’ve had about enough out of-“ The younger of the two steps towards you as if to strike you before the older extends an arm to stop him.

“The health of the collective is imperative during this time. Therefore, the wrong food could cause malady or worse, young one. Our vigorous rebuilt beings are the greatest blessing we could receive and the greatest recompense we could offer in return to our benefactor.”

Your mind races to quickly incorporate what he told you with what you know already. Regarding the rations given to the town, every justification of theirs returns to this benefactor. They have almost the same sense of reverence as Enais when she told you of the fate of the Devan who are to be incorporated into something greater. Then…is this the end she discussed, to be fed to the townspeople? No, that’s not right. They mentioned that the meat rations came from the benefactor directly… Then, what is this meat they’re handing out.

“I think I understand.” You respond with a chosen cowed tone. “But what kind of meat is it?”

“Enough!” The younger of the two steps just a few feet away from you. “We know that this establishment has been serving food outside of the rations for weeks now. You bringing food doesn’t explain-“

Cyrene’s father places a large hand on the man’s shoulder to interrupt him. “You got an answer to your question already. Now, I don’t appreciate the two of you intimidating this little girl in my tavern. So, I think it’s high time that you two leave. We have to get ready for tonight’s service.” His large fingers dig roughly into the man’s shoulder.

The older of the cloaked figures pulls the younger away before he can retaliate. “Please expect further visits and serious consequences if you continue to flagrantly violate the town bylaws.” He turns back one last time to coldly stare at your face as if committing it to memory before departing.

It seems that you’ve drawn the attention of yet more members of the Sanctuary, but they have no supposed crime to pin to you directly.

Cyrene’s father let’s out a long, drawn-out sigh as he locks the entrance. “Those weirdos are always a pain in ass, but they’ve been worked up as of late.” He easily lifts Cyrene off the ground and holds her to his torso with one arm. “You alright, kiddo?”

She enjoys the hug for a short moment before turning back to you. “Yeah, I’m alright! She covered for me.” Cyrene beams happily at you. “Thank you!”
File: gry1.jpg (38 KB, 431x501)
38 KB

“Yeah, I could tell.” Her father replies with worry in his voice. “You hold off on any more lunches until I say its okay and you…” He eyes you quizzically for a moment as if trying to figure out if he should know you.

“Elly.” You answer with a polite bow. “I’ve only been in town a few days for on apprenticeship business.”

“Grygas.” He bumps his chest with his free hand. “Well, you picked a hell of a time to come here, kid” He steps toward you with Cyrene still being carried. “But you did cover for my Cyrene, so I appreciate you being here.” His large rough hand reaches out to ruffle your hair, but you pull back to avoid him touching your animal ears under your hood, so he’s only able to tussle your bangs out of place.

“Dad! You can’t just rub a girl’s head like that you don’t even know.” Cyrene scolds him as she slides back to the ground and rushes over to you to fix your hair.

“Ahh, sorry.” He says with a friendly smile. “You two are about the same height, so it’s just sort of happened out of habit.”

Once satisfied with fixing your hair, Cyrene turns back. “What were you up to this morning anyway?”

Grygas starts to remove his heavy coat and gear with Cyrene’s help. “Just checking on folks I hadn’t seen in a while now that the storm has passed. A few were just holing up cause of the cold, but most were…” He hesitates as if pondering whether he should share the details with you two. “They were in pretty bad shape. Bed ridden and all.”

“A cold?” Cyrene lugs her father’s coat to a nearby hook.

“Nah…” He’s visibly uncomfortable with continuing. “They got swelling or growths or something like that on their bodies that makes it hard for them to move.” He sighs under his breath. “Hope it’s not anything serious.”

“Do these individuals live together?” You ask out of growing curiosity.

“Nah. Some of them I doubt hardly ever talked before.” He walks over to the fireplace to warm up his hands. “I just wish we were able to get them something to else to eat, but they sure as heck don’t seem to mind the ration meat so much anymore. Most I saw were gobbling it up when I was there.” He recalls with discomfort.

“Bleh.” Cyrene sticks out her tongue in disgust.

How peculiar. The universal reaction you’ve seen to the doled-out meat has been aversion, but these individuals are now eating it enthusiastically? Perhaps whatever affliction they have may be dulling their tastes, but you recall the comment from Cyrene earlier that the health officials of the town also concerned themselves with taking frequent measurements of the residents… It's just past noon now, and you have a few hours before the sun starts to set. Should you investigate?

>Ask if you can be directed to whichever town resident that was the most afflicted.

>Lay low in the tavern until it's time to return to the Devan barracks.

>Write in.
>Take a ration and experiment with it. If you can find a weakness, it might apply to the Sanctuary soldiers. Does it even receive healing the same way? Can it be used as literal ammo for blood magic?
So the townspeople are being converted into loyal recruits for the sanctuary.

The mushrooms are just part of the good cop bad cop routine. If they keep eating the mushrooms, they'll end up the same way, but now all the plotting revolves around mushrooms instead of getting the fuck outta there. That, or the mushrooms are the end product material, which is not necessarily better.

God, i hope those growths aren't being cut off and processed into the meat.
Heyo everyone, I hope you're all doing well in this middle of the week! The unseasonable warm weather is long gone from here, but creature comforts and this work break make it easy to get through.

Anyway, I'm going to keep the choice open to hopefully get one or two more votes in. As always, I'll be keeping an eye on it.
We've done a lot to arouse suspicion of us.
That being said,
+1 to >>5100928
If we can just lay low in the tavern and ask questions around afterwards, could be another way to gather intel.

Acquiring ration meat, and experimenting to see what we can learn from it. Doing this while we lay low in the tavern and gather any intel that we can there.

Update in about an hour!

Discretion until nightfall may be the wiser course of action. As Sanctuary attention has been aroused toward you in multiple ways, so you’d prefer to avoid anyone drawing connections from you visiting townsfolk that you wouldn’t normally have any business visiting. However, there is still an accessible item that could yield information.

You walk toward the fireplace and partake in its warmth as well. “How did they get their ration of meat if they’ve been holed up?”

“They make damn sure to bring it to you.” Grygas informs you with a slight chuckle as he crouches in front of the fireplace. “Bang on your door, and bam, there’s a wrapped pile of it based on how many you got in your place.” He turns back to the tavern entrance. “Hell, wouldn’t be surprised if we get some soon.”

The timing is ideal, and this way you can remain inconspicuous within the tavern.

“Double bleh.” Joins you by the fire and leans on her father’s frame. “Oh yeah, dad. Elly is going to be staying over.”

“It might not happen because of apprenticeship duties, but if it’s alright with you...” You follow up quickly with a slight bow.

“It’s alright, but I have hardly any say in the matter when the kiddo gets something like that in her mind. But…” He clears his throat uncomfortably and then rises. “We don’t have much food to share your way.”

“Dad!” Cyrene strikes her father’s hip.

He raises his hands and shrugs. “I’m just making sure she knows.”

“I understand, and I appreciate your hospitality regardless.” You give a slight smile and another bow.

“You’re polite for a kid.” He chuckles as he wipes his hands and looks around the tavern. He quickly spots the muddy boot prints and loose bowls from the earlier lunch. “Why don’t you let her get settled in your room, Cyrene. We got tidying up to do.”

“Actually, I’ll help with that.” You roll up your sleeves and head over to the tables to collect the mess and importantly, remain within earshot of the tavern entrance.


About an hour passes with you assisting with the cleaning and other odd jobs. All the while lightly chatting with Cyrene and her father. While he’s the one directing your work, he easily and respectively receives both of your opinions on matters relating to tidying the tavern. The humble building that houses the tavern, cold and ramshackle as it first seemed upon entry is transformed into a warm and vibrant hideaway from the outside elements. However, your keen ears repeatedly detect the groaning hunger of their stomach, even if they don’t utter any complaints themselves.

A hard banging at the door pulls you back into the reality of your mission. You unlock the tavern to the biting cold and retrieve a dark bundle of warm, wrapped meat placed directly in front of the entrance. A few darkly clothed figures lugging a sled packed with more bundles trudge to the next residence.

As you shut and relock the entrance, Grygas calls out to you from the stairs leading to their living area. “There’s a shelf out back that you can leave that on.”

You nod and follow his instructions to the back of the tavern. The small yard houses an assortment of broken tables, furniture, and other tavern fixtures that are threatened to be entirely consumed by the white powder. A rough wooden outhouse stands opposite to the tavern, and you can only imagine what manner of frozen gifts, long left behind by tavern's human patrons lie within. Closer to the building, the condensation runoff from the warmth, and has frozen, dripping into thick pointed icicles which loom overhead as you place the parcel of meat on the shelf and unwrap it.

The heat emanating from the pile of purplish red, fleshy cuts is what strikes you the most at first. You carefully examine the exterior for any signs of cooking from a heat source and find absolutely none. The heat currently warming your fingers must originate from the body of whatever gave this meat, meaning that it was cut very recently. However, the amorphous structure of the meat itself gives no sign of what part of that creature’s body this was cut from. It’s notably different from the meat that Enais served you this morning, the difference best described as less refined.

A few private tests using your magic might yield more information, but it’s far too cold to do it out here. Regardless, best done in secrecy as it would elicit questions as to why you feel the need to investigate the ration meat.

“It’s kinda weird-looking isn’t it?” Cyrene comments, leaning from the doorway nearby. “At least it doesn’t smell until you start cooking it.”

You nod idly in agreement while gazing upon the surface of the meat until you act as if you’re repackaging the bundle, and then turn to the young girl. “Think I could get my stuff settled in your room?”

“Yes!” Cyrene claps her hands together in excitement. “C’mon, let’s get out of the cold.”

In a swift motion, you take one of the large cuts of meat and slip it in between your tucked-in shirt and skin as it won’t fit subtly in any of your pockets. With the bundle resealed, you head inside and gather your belongings to move upstairs.

File: mod8.jpg (48 KB, 354x219)
48 KB


Cyrene enthusiastically leads you to her small, but tidy room which contains little more than an old bed, a chest of clothing, a small low table, and a handful of personal belongings. She skillfully starts a flame in a small brazier to heat the room.

“Oh, let me show you these guys…” She picks up a small collection of carved wooden animals, all individually named by her and in detail, explains their nuanced personalities.

The area in which the meat contacts your side begins to itch, which was easily ignored until the itch grew into a slight pain, then a sharp stabbing pain, then finally a multitude of sharp stabbing pains which take most of your focus not to immediately investigate.

You clench your fists behind your back as you attempt to listen to Cyrene’s carefree explanation. A cold sweat forms on your body as you remain silent as the offending piece of meat mysteriously sends pulse after pulse of agony into your skin.

Grygas mercifully calls for Cyrene’s help from downstairs, and you’re left to “relax” in her room as she departs with a bright smile.

With the door shut, you feverishly unbutton your shirt just enough to yank the whole article off, along with the undershirt, and examining the source of the excruciating pain.

The meat has affixed itself tightly to your skin as if pressed there with by an invisible force. The side facing away from your body twitches and pulses with life as its opposite face seemingly carves into your abdomen. The appearance has transformed from a smooth innocuous lump of meat into a bed of small bumpy cilia of various lengths, undulating freely in the air. It softly squelches as if idly making a meal out of your side.


With thoughts clouded by pain and the desire to remove the bodyless parasite at your side, you promptly consider your options. A hasty probing with your fingers shows the affixed flesh can be pried off, but it would certainly not be a pleasant experience. If this foul thing is alive, as its certainly acting, then burning it or even using incapacitating magic may do the trick, but you certainly have no way of knowing how this parasite may react to either.

>Forcibly pry off the chunk of flesh attached to your skin.

>Use a heated object to attempt to burn the flesh into releasing you.

>Cast Sundowning on the flesh to incapacitate it for facilitated removal.

>Write in.
>Cast Sundowning on the flesh to incapacitate it for facilitated removal.
>Cast Sundowning on the flesh to incapacitate it for facilitated removal.
I don't know what I was expecting, but this is getting worse and worse. No wonder they aren't using these things to warm the building.
Heyo everyone! The year is finally wrapping up. Personally, looking back upon it, this year has felt unusually long in comparison to previous years.

Anyway, thank you for the votes so far. I'll be leaving the window open for about an hour in case anyone else wants to vote. Be back to tally soon!
>Casting Sundowning to remove the offending parasite.

Funky. This can't be the first time someone's touched the ration meat with their bare skin, so it's probably reacting to Elewyn's magic?
And just like that, we're certified geniuses
I mean, most people don't hug raw meat that you already think is sus. It's still possible that they never held it for 5 minutes straight or something.
Meat-filled (partially) update coming your way in about 30 minutes!
File: imp33.jpg (71 KB, 414x276)
71 KB

A wave of pain nearly makes your legs falter, and you immediately go for your staff. You place your fingertips on the outside of the fleshy parasite, and quick invoke incapacitating magic into its amorphous body. The lively tendrils that were undulating in the air, all sag at once and you feel the weight of the parasite pull against your skin.

With a careful probing, you separate the painful mass from your side and examine the damage. Dozens of almost invisible, thin long slits have been cut into your body and all steadily leak out crimson fluid. With another evocation, you heal the myriad of incisions and then examine the incapacitated meaty leech. It’s nearly doubled its mass from engorging itself on what it siphoned from you. The side that affixed itself to your skin, while coated in a thin layer of your own blood appears largely similar to the opposite save for longer tendrils which you assume were responsible for slicing into you.

Without warning, the bloated lump of flesh spasms wildly with waves of turgidity, writhing in your hand like a trapped animal, pulling left, right, up, but always away, away from the mana that you channel into it. After much futile effort, it stops. The surface is now frozen into a tight pucker before…release.

Fuming, bubbling black fluid oozes forth from the parasite as it lies limp in your hand. One final caustic defense against your own magical subjugation. Without any other options, you drop the dead and leaking meat onto your undershirt. Doing your best to bundle the mess without letting any touch your hands, you gather your undershirt, lift open the large window overlooking the back of the tavern, and toss the offensive package to be lost in the white powder below.

It’s snowing once again. The flakes drift softly down from the greyed sky above depositing slowly onto the ground, onto the tavern, onto every stained and broken building in the whole town. The falling snow weighs upon the air, muting it save for sudden sharp gusts of wind that blow the powder against your bare skin.

What an accursed town.

You pull away from the window and shut it. Then, you redress as you assess what exactly happened with what should’ve been nothing more than a steak.

This surely wasn’t the first time that someone touched the ration meat with their bare hands. If it reacted in that way with anyone else, word would have spread throughout the town, and the Sanctuary would have an impossible task to get anyone to eat their allotted rations. Then the parasite must have strongly reacted to something unique to yourself. Your mana is a very likely candidate. Given how the creature violently reacted against the subjugation of your spell, it might have had a strong sense of mana. The humans of this town have no mana to provoke such a strong reaction, so it may infect human hosts in a more subtle manner. Cooking the flesh would only further reduce its parasitic potency, so by design it exists as a delayed infection, to slowly creep upon the famine-stricken residents of Impel unnoticed until their bodies are already overrun.

You sit upon the floor and lean against the bed wearily.

The disturbing flesh creature was living, but it certainly shouldn’t have been. Is it a familiar? No, you didn’t sense any magic within its mass. But… it must have a connection to something greater. A conscious connection that if interrupted, will initiate a self-destructive reaction. A weakness, perhaps. At the very least something to keep in mind for later. Its goal, or rather, its instinctual drive remains elusive.

More strands of the web reveal themselves. A few more hours and you’ll head back to the Devan barracks. Following the corpses tonight should be fruitful, but with everything you’ve encountered today, you’re certain it will come with profound risk.

Hearing light footsteps upon the creaking wooden stairs, you ensure that your cloth hood is well-secured over your animal ears, and you quickly stand and gaze out the window.

Cyrene quickly opens the door and then leans into the room. “Elly, my dads made a new drink and he wanted me to take a sip, but I don’t like the taste of alcohol. You wanna try a little bit?”


“I can give it a shot.” You pull away from the window collecting more and more snow, and the two of you hurry down the old stairs.

File: int1.jpg (548 KB, 1080x721)
548 KB
548 KB JPG

You yawn loudly as you lead the two horses to edge of the cold river. Snow lightly covers its shore, but thankfully nothing is close to freezing yet. Riding through the night puts you nearly a half day ahead of schedule, but your current fatigue is part of the price. Nonetheless, there’s a pleasant tranquility isolated this far outside the capital. The surroundings are covered more in fog than white powder, keeping the roads easily traversed, but nonetheless giving everything an almost dreamlike appearance.

Damn, what you wouldn’t do for some coffee right now.

You breathe deep of the brisk morning air and stretch your sore limbs.

Seo approaches you, idly studying your map while munching away on the meat-filled lunch that Astrid kindly packed for all three of you. “There’s a little more than an hour’s ride until we reach the inn we had initially planned on staying overnight.”

“But plenty of daylight left in the day for riding.” You stroke the side of one of the tall horses, they've have taken you quite far already. You then turn your gaze to stare at the encroaching snow-capped mountains separating capital domain from the Velikan Wilds. They’re certainly not the tallest mountain range on this continent, but their extensive reach effectively isolates the Wilds from the surrounding lands. “We’ll stop there only as long as it takes to stock up on feed for the horses.”

“Ah yes, that’s right...” She rubs her chin, still studying the map.

Clearly feeding and watering these creatures fell to other hands whenever she traveled.

She folds the map in a flurry and sighs. “It appears that you’ve done your due diligence in planning this trip. That inn is the last bastion of civilization until we reach that town.”

“Thanks for the compliment.” You roll your eyes and lead the horses back to the road, where you spot Misha who’s bundled up in his coat, leaning against the small stone wall and dozing off. “Come on, Misha, I didn’t get you that new coat so you’d doze off on the side of the road in it.”

“Not dozing, just so warm…” His legs languidly emerge from within the coat, and he slowly rises to his feet. “You find anything?” He yawns quietly.

“Nothing that wouldn’t take us severely off course.” Seo answers curtly as you help her onto her horse. “We’ll have to make do with the tents for both nights.”

“They’re sturdy tents, we have plenty of food to get us there, and if we keep a good pace, we could make it there late tomorrow.” You try to inject a positive note into the conversation as the lack of sleep has you all on edge.

“That would risk traveling through the mountains after dark.” Seo steers her horse to face eastward.

“Everything costs…” You remind her as you boost Misha onto the horse and then get on behind him to ensure he doesn’t fall off. “Think on the alternative. Would be spending the night within the mountains be preferable…” You hold up your arm as you hear an approaching carriage. Listening for a few seconds allows you to determine that there's more than one, and they approach from the east, and not from the capital.

The pace is unhurried, and the carriages sound heavily burdened as it strikes against the cobbled road. Soon enough a small merchant caravan appears from the fog, with cloaked drivers at the helm of each.

“Ho!” The driver on the front carriage calls out as he sees your group and slows to a stop nearby. “It’s good see fresh faces again, especially these two beautiful young women. Winter roads make for dull travel.” His lecherous eyes lock especially on Misha, and he bites his lip.

You raise your arm to greet the caravan. “Are you hauling cargo from Impel?”

“Fish!” He nods jovially. “High in demand during these cold months. Well, a lot of the weight is ice, but you got to pack the fish in it to keep em fresh, even now.”

You nod in understanding. “We’re headed that way, so how fares Impel?”

“Never seen it!” He laughs heartily. “We always done our tradeoffs just halfway through the mountain pass. Nowadays some strange fellows bring us the fish, but they set us up with a lot fewer fish than usual.” He scratches his round chin. “Asked round and sure enough, catches haven’t been what they used to be. Some of the more crafty merchants hired some folks to do some digging and they think they found the cause. Nasty it was.”

"Which would be?" Seo asks the question on your mind.

"Hmm..." The merchant rubs his chin while patting his hip. "My memory isn't always that great...which is good, cause that's what we call 'valuable information' in our business"

You and Seo exchange annoyed glances. This merchant wants a bribe. Unfortunately, you only brought enough coin to cover your lodging and food costs during this trip. In the end, the information probably isn't anything that you'd want to spend valuable coin on. If you can't think of a way to convince him without a bribe, you'll simply have to avoid having the fish while you're there.

>Ignore his request for a bribe and be on your way.

>Write in.
>Ask about the strange fellows. Anyone they regret doing business with?
The fish will be a good hit for either infiltrating or securing the food source after the cleanup.
>Recommend a purveyor of magical potions, with enough variety to easily test for falsities, and enough confidence to market to nobles.

It's not really worth threatening them, at least.
Heyo everyone! Happy New Year's Eve, I hope you all have an enjoyable night, but recommend vigilance if you're driving anywhere late at night, as alcohol is poured enthusiastically.

On the topic of the quest, right now we're still waiting for hopefully one or two more votes. Once the vote is tallied, I think I'll aim for a shorter update today to be posted earlier, but it could come a few hours after new years as well.

Keeping the vote window open for a little while longer!
>Play the "Well known noble family" card, who might repay you with a favor sometime down the line.
I mean, if we don't have spare cash, this is all I got
Synthesizing the ideas of leveraging our nobility along with offering tips to market the fish to nobles for a higher price.

>“Fish!” He nods jovially. “High in demand during these cold months. Well, a lot of the weight is ice, but you got to pack the fish in it to keep em fresh, even now.”
extremely odd to be traveling with fresh fish for this exact reason lol
guess he's a merchant serving noble tastes, commonfolk would take dried fish and be happy with that
Happy New Year, everyone!

Back home, which means update in about 30 or so minutes.

His cargo may give some hint of where his monetary motivations lie. To be traveling with fish needing to be kept fresh with so much ice, he must be a merchant attempting to serve the expensive taste of nobles. You’ll try to leverage that interest of his.

You tighten the reins around your gloved hands. “Would an exchange of information suffice, fishmonger?”

“Hmmm.” He continues to scratch his large chin. “Perhaps. If not coin, I might have preferred a cheeky peek to see what this young lady has under her coat, but I see you’re keeping her quite guarded… Go on.”

“Remind me of the kind of fish you had yesterday, Seo.” You ask her while keeping your gaze focused on the merchant in front of you.

“Seabass, my dear Luca. Cooked and seasoned excellently. As expected of one of the finest restaurants in the market district.” She embellishes, clearly having already understood your intent. “I’m already looking forward to you treating me again.”

“It ought to have been excellent, given the price.” You recount the total cost of the dish to the merchant’s poorly hidden surprise. “Must be the lack supply there, as the owner said so himself. However, I’m sure he’d relish a resupply to keep his clientele satisfied, especially given how new his establishment.”

With a furrowed brow, the merchant weighs your words as you speak. “I see what you’re angling at, young man. But I’m still not convinced. I’m sure I could fetch a high price at another high-end restaurant. Hmm?”

Misha speaks up suddenly. “T-the increased taxes you pay on the sales profits for fresh goods must eat into your takeaway. But since this establishment is less than a year old, there’s a reduction in the total tax burden for both sides of any trades.”

You weren’t aware of this tax break at all, but given Lord Halion is the Minister of Commerce, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Misha is aware of it.

After a few moments of thought, the merchant raises his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright, I know when I’m beat. How's this... Tell me of this restaurant and I’d be willing to share part where the answer lies, since I’ve yet to save any money.”

Further than he was willing to go before. There were more questions that you would’ve liked to ask about the strange fellows he met, but you don’t think they’ll swing by without offering something else in exchange.

“Deal.” You answer with satisfaction clear in your voice and explain where the restaurant is located.

After you give your answer, he clears his throat. “My turn then... All rivers end at the ocean, yes? They bring whatever they have with them along the way, good and bad. Enough bad, and the oceans will be worse for it. Meaning if you’re looking for good fish, then you’ll have to look further beyond Impel. If you’re looking for bad, then you don’t have to look far away from where their ocean begins.”
File: int2.jpg (48 KB, 600x426)
48 KB

Sounds almost like a riddle, but you take it to mean that the source of the fish scarcity lies within a river large enough to affect the ocean waters it terminates into. You can only imagine what could be possibly affecting the waters to that extent.

“An enjoyable divertissement, but the ice will not last forever. I bid you good fortune on your travels, and good fishing.” He bows his head and sets his caravan down the road to Velika once again.

“A peculiar fellow.” Seo comments as you watch the last carriage pass by. “The value of the information is surely lost on anyone that isn’t a fishmonger, yet he still thought to leverage something out of it.”

“Are you implying that I got tricked?” You sigh as you squeeze your horse into moving again.

Seo bumps her horse to follow. “No, I’d say you came out on top in that exchange. If only by our assistance.”

“Your assistance is why I wanted you two to accompany me, after all.” You retort to her as she catches up. “The timing of that tax remark was impeccable as well, Misha.”

“I’d feel bad for lying to him, had he not been eyeing me like a dog would a steak.” Misha remarks sourly.

“Oh?” Seo turns her head toward Misha. “I wouldn’t have thought you had it in you to deceive someone like that, Mishenne.”

“First I’ve seen anything of the like as well.” You remark looking directly down at the long hair of your small friend, a familiar perspective, but still unique from this angle. You smirk to yourself as you ride on through the trees.


An hour of smooth riding has brought you clear of the sparse woods east of the capital and into the hilly snow-covered plains that lead to the foot of the mountains. The inn that was originally supposed to be your lodging for the night comes into sight quickly after leaving the tree line behind you. This rustic building and stable are the last structures you’ll see until you make it through the mountains.

For the first time on this trek, there’s enough snow on the ground for your boots to crunch soundly into as you dismount. You assist Misha off the horse as well and look around at your immediate surroundings. “I’m going to water the horses. Take this and stock up on more feed for them.” You place the small sack of coins in his hands while you eye the imposing snowy foothills. “See if they’d be willing to sell any spare blankets as well.” You pat the side of the horse that has taken you this far. “They might be able to tolerate the cold, but let’s try to keep these two as comfortable as reasonably possible overnight.”
File: 1.jpg (178 KB, 739x1000)
178 KB
178 KB JPG

Misha nods sluggishly as he looks at you with bleary eyes. “I feel bad that I hadn’t thought of that.” He gazes upward at the formidable animal whose shoulder reaches higher than him. “How tired must he be if he’s the one that been doing all the walking?...” His eyes turn back to you, but with stronger focus. “I’ll get what we need for them.”

You smile at his resolve. “I’ll leave it to you then.” You gather both horses and lead them to a nearby creek as your companions head inside the inn. The two horses drink deeply from the creek as you’re lost in thought staring at the slow-moving water.

Alright, only about four more hours of riding until sunset and you can finally get some sleep. How did she get to Impel by herself, anyway?...Probably hitched a ride with a merchant caravan. However, based off what the merchant you met earlier told you, she would still have to travel halfway through the mountain pass by herself. Did she even have a horse?

A small figure in your periphery startles you as you could have sworn you were alone out here. She stands in the water a small distance away from you, seemingly unconcerned with your presence or the assuredly frigid water. Her dark hair and dress contrast deeply with the surrounding white snow as she leans over the flowing water, staring intently as it flows by with a strange, basket like object in her hands. At first you thought it was a young girl, but the dark animal ears poking on top of her head inform you otherwise. You instinctively find yourself holding your breath, as if observing a skittish woodland animal.

Finally fully appreciating how strange her actions are, you step away from the horses and call out to her. “Aren’t you cold?”

She turns to you with curious deep blue, and watery eyes. “Cold?” She looks at you pointing at her bare feet in the nearly freezing stream, and then smiles calmly back to you. “Are you cold?”

“Perhaps a little...” You find yourself responding quickly as if she may lose interest and disappear at any moment. “What are you trying to do in the water?"

"Do you know how to use this?" She holds up the strange funnel-shaped basket. "It's supposed to catch fish, but they all run away when I try to use it."

You eye the object in her hands and see that the basket has an interior chamber that could be used to trap fish. You've never seen anything of the like, so it's only a guess. But wait, why is this Elin's answers out of sync with what you're asking and why the hell is she fishing barefoot in middle of winter?

>Attempt to ask if she's trying to catch fish to eat.

>Suggest to leave the basket in the water with bait inside.

>Write in.
Before I commit to anything, it kinda sounds like this girl is remote controlled. Can't feel the cold, warped hearing, etc. What kind of impression do we want her to take away?

We could try to find the people that she knows, and risk bumping into the Sanctuary, or maybe helping her fish will let us see a very real instance of the whole "fish killing" rumor

Or we just try very hard to make friends and bet on that coming handy later
Heyo everyone, and once again happy new year! I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your readership in the last four months of 2021. A lot of work has already gone into this quest in that time, and I'm very pleased that so much of this world could be "fleshed out" with all of your help.

With that said, we'll be keeping the voting window open a little while longer to hopefully get one or two more votes before we tally what we have.
>Suggest to leave the basket in the water with bait inside.
Giving her the suggestion to leave the basket in the water with bait inside along with:

Trying to suss out why she can't feel cold and isn't following the flow of the conversation. (More chance to think about how you'd want to handle her in the next update)

File: int4.png (95 KB, 364x171)
95 KB

You cross your arms in thought. She's acting quite unusual, and you can’t get a good read on her since she's not giving you any straightforward answers. Back in Velika you've had the a few rare encounters with Elin, but those you’ve come across were more sociable. Perhaps focusing on her current predicament will allow you to get a better gauge of her intentions, and perhaps if she knows of any magic...

“I can’t say for certain that I know how to use it, but it looks like a trap to me.” You explain to her as she looks at you blankly. “You know, like the ones place food within and animals get caught inside?”

Her head tilts slightly, and then tilts back. “Oh, so I don’t have to do any work? The fish will travel into my trap and get caught for me?”

Finally, she’s following what you say.

Emboldened, you approach closer as she follows you with her eyes. “Essentially yes. But you’ll still need to have some bait to lure fish in. Otherwise, the fish aren’t very likely to swim inside the narrow passage any time soon.”

“Do you have bait?” She immediately asks looking over your body.

“Well, I have some bread from my lunch you could use.” You look back to your horse, suggesting that you could go retrieve it.

“Are those your horses?” She switches the topic with her gaze fixed on the creatures idly sniffing the ground near where you left them. “They’re very pretty.”

“They are, aren’t they?” You get caught up in watching the horses graze on the small patches of uncovered ground left. “They belong to my friend, actually… Did you travel here on a horse?” You attempt to seize the opportunity to learn more about her.

“No, I walked.” She answers, still admiring the horses.

You look at the opposite side of the creek and see a faint set of small shoeprints leading from the south. “From where?”

“Pora Elinu.” She finishes gazing at the horses and returns her focus upon you. “Have you ever been to Pora Elinu? I used to clean the library there.” She recalls with a warm smile.

Pora Elinu? From your readings of old texts, you’ve seen references to a city hidden away in some dense forest that belongs to these Elin creatures. However, most scholars these days believe it to be a myth propagated in the same way a fairy tale would be. While not especially attached to the idea of the city, you always hoped they were wrong and such strange places still lay hidden in this world.

“No, I haven’t.” You answer simply, and there’s a heavy silence between the two of you for a while, but she doesn’t seem to mind at all. “Is it far from here?”

She seems puzzled by your question, tilting her head before finally settling on an answer after what seemed like nearly a minute. “Yes.”

Silence once again, all the while she’s standing ankle-deep within the frigid cold creek. As much as you’d like to press further about the city’s location, you can’t help but want to get her out of the water first.

“Would you like to get out of the creek? Your feet must be freezing.” You step close to the edge of the creek and ask, at this point more for yourself than her.

She holds up the basket trap defensively. “It's cold. But, I need to set this trap. Right?”

She was feeling the cold this whole time, but was simply enduring it to fish?

“Alright.” You reply slightly exasperated. “Wait here.”

You quickly walk to the one of the packs on the horses, and pinch off a few small pieces of bread, all the while keeping an eye on her, worried that she could disappear at any moment. You return and hold out the bread in your open palm. “Here. Use this for bait, and please get out of the water already.”

She stares intently at the pieces of bread silently and with wide blue eyes before finally she makes a noise. Or rather, her stomach makes a rather long and extended grumble.

You sigh aloud, finally understanding why she foolishly chose to stand in a cold river for so long. After quickly pocketing the bread, you reach over, pluck her light body easily from the creek, and place her on dry land. Having her out of the water was only a temporary relief for you, as her dripping wet ankles are a deep red color, and her small shoes are heavily worn to the point that they look as if they could fall apart at any moment. “Don’t you have any sense of self-preservation?” Your shout with voice raised.

She winces slightly at your voice clutching the wet basket trap, and then her stomach rumbles loudly again.

You take a deep breath to calm yourself. Getting upset with her isn’t going to get either of you anywhere. You’ll bring her inside the in to dry off, but from there…

“Do you have any coin?” You ask with a more level voice.

“I spent it on this.” She holds up the trap once again. “It was on sale for only twenty coins, which was exactly what I had.” She explains meekly.

You’re sure that rickety old piece of crap isn’t worth half of that, so she must have been swindled. Which is strange, as she was smart enough to know that she needed the coin in the first place. Is it a fault in being too trusting? Well, there’s not a whole lot you can do for her here that wouldn’t be a temporary fix. Maybe if she followed the road back to Velika, she could find work there. That’s what most of her kind does there right?

You lightly shake your head as you decide not to press your previous question any further. “My name’s Luca. How about you?”

“Luca.” She nods while repeating your name “My name is Izurin.”

What to do with Izurin here?

>Lead her to the inn to warm up, and suggest she find her way to Velika.

>Write in.
How is there an Elin this lacking in common sense? Shouldn't she be ages old?

We might have to take her with us. We lack the food and resources to set her up on a trip to Velika, despite the risk that she might stab us in the back or get flesh nommed.
A good question about age, but she doesn't necessarily have to be ages old. The story has mentioned that Elin haven't been pulled out of the lake in decades, but an Elin that's a handful of decades old that and hasn't left Pora Elinu won't be overly wise of the world.

Although, you do make a good point in that she is more than a bit off.
Yea, sending her off on her own on the roads is very likely.a death sentence.
>probe if she has any useful skills, that she could possibly use to work

This is making me think of the “emergency rations” joke
Heyo everyone, I hope you're all enjoying your weekend and your 2022 so far.

(The "emergency rations" reference is so layered here, it gave me a good laugh)

Gearing up to take her along with us, and discuss the logistics of bringing another person along with us with our companions.

Update in about 45 minutes

While she somehow managed to make it here, you have severe doubts that she’d make it Velika alive if her trying to fish in that ice-cold creek was any example of her survival skills. Then what? Leaving her here is an option, but if that doesn’t work out… How would you even broach the idea of bringing her along with the three of you. It would help if she could work and pull her own weight somehow.

You sigh and gather your horses. “Follow me back to the inn, Izurin.” With the two animals’ reins in your hands, you pull them toward the small stable that lies adjacent to the inn with the Elin following you. “Do you know any magic?”

“Magic?” She repeats as if trying to remember the meaning of the word.

“Yes, magic. You know, feats that normal people couldn’t even dream of being capable of performing. Such as conjure water out of thin air, transform into an animal, or even move things with their minds.” You explain emphatically. “These sorts of things used to be commonplace, but now the world is lesser for its absence.”

“Wow…” She looks up to you in awe. “Can you do magic?”

You feel your jaw tense up and your hand clench. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“I don’t think I can do any of those things either.” She replies gloomily, struggling to keep up with your pace.

You impatiently secure the two horses to posts on the side of the stable. “Well, what can you do?”

“Do?” She repeats confused and stumbles as she reaches where you stand. She thinks for a moment before answering. “I can take care of books.”

You finish securing the horses and turn to her with arms crossed. “Can you take care of an old man?”

“Old man?” She squints at you. “You don’t look old.”

At the very least she's managing to follow the conversation now, but you've lost the patience to converse with her.

“It was just a thought, but you’d have to somehow make it to Velika.” You sigh and motion for her to follow you again. “You’d be only another mouth to feed wouldn’t you. A non-human one at that too. Can’t even perform any magic and would’ve succumbed to exposure if hadn’t stumbled upon you…We’ll see what the others have to say about it.”

Izurin tries to reply to each of your sentences but must devote most of her focus to keeping up with you and not tripping over her broken shoes.



“It’s not going to happen.” Seo states flatly as she looks at closed entrance to the inn. “The innkeeper doesn’t even want her inside of here, and you said yourself that she’s essentially useless. How will it help us by whisking her away with us during our mission?”

You settle on a small bench near the reception desk and enjoy the warmth of the inn seeping into your body. “I haven’t stated that we would, I simply wanted to get your opinions on the idea, because I’m struggling to think of any other options that wouldn’t get her killed.”

Seo stands leaning on the wall opposite to you. “This has nothing to do with the creature knowing magic?”

You raise your eyebrows. “She doesn’t know any magic at all.”

Seo stares at you with her vibrant eyes trying to deduce any hint of a lie. She sighs and eases up, if only slightly. “No, if she did you would be vouching much harder for her, and that’s even if you were entertaining the possibility of not taking her.”

“She managed to get this far on her own, Luca.” Misha chimes in from your side before you could retort Seo’s comment. “Looking at it logically, we could set her up with some food and it’d only be a few days walk to Velika.”

“We lack the food to spare to set her up a trip to Velika.” You remind him.

“We did get some extra horse grain. She’s small, so she probably wouldn’t need much more than a couple handfuls.” He explains gently. “We could probably even get the innkeeper to spare a blanket for her if we say that she’ll get out of sight.”

“Mishenne raises more than reasonable solutions to your problem, Luca.” Seo walks over and settles on the bench next to you. “We’re here to give you our assistance, remember? That creature out there is a liability to our mission, and that’s why we’re trying to sway you away from the idea of taking her with us. If we proceed with Mishenne’s idea and instruct her not to deviate from the road, she’ll be fine. Many of the creatures make it to the capital without escort.”

Unsurprisingly, they're both opposed to the idea of bringing her along. At least their solution isn't unreasonable, but would Izurin be capable of adhering to it? If not, are you willing to enforce your command and be responsible for her while you bring her the rest of the way to Impel? You assume that things should be easier to sort out for her once you get there. Maybe Elewyn would be able to take over from there. Regardless, daylight is burning so it’s time to come up with a decision.

>Bring Izurin along with you to Impel.

>Go ahead with Misha's and Seo's plan to send her off to Velika.

>Write in.
>Go ahead with Misha's and Seo's plan to send her off to Velika.
I'm regretful, but if she's going to be nothing but mostly dead weight, then she's better off headed out then going in with the party to a village in the middle of a famine.
Hope Elewyn doesn't tear us a new one for leaving potential bait to wander off. Not that Luca would know about her personal crusade, anyways.

If anyone else in the thread has another idea for her, or an argument to take her along, I might be convinced to change my vote.
Heyo everyone, the holidays are all wrapped up and I hope you're all doing well. Personally, I've been trying to be productive today to ease my return to work after being on break.

Anyway, we're at one vote so I'll keep the window open so we can hopefully add one or two more. I'll be keeping an eye out in the meantime
>>Bring Izurin along with you to Impel.

I've been re-reading the thread, and can't find a point where we told the others that Elewyn is an Elin, and that this could be related. It's about time to let them know. That and they will technically be working for one such "creature", so an optics shift may be in order.
Besides, she will probably know what to do, and could be concerned about her safety. What if she sends us back to fetch her ? Do we really want to ride back to Velika to look for her ?

It may be time for Luca to grow a spine.
Also, someone who has perused the library of a near-mythical city of ancient magic-controlling being ? As if he would pass up such an occasion.

Out of character, I'm /very/ concerned about leaving here out of our sight, and more than a little bit intrigued at her whole deal.

I'm not posting as frequently as with the slaver business, QM, for a bunch of unrelated reasons, but I'm still reading along and will be there when the fighting starts.
Don't worry at all about how frequent you post, though it is reassuring to know that you're keeping up with the quest. So, thank you very much going out of your way to let me know. Fighting will be assuredly forthcoming, and overall in a flavor suited for this arc. Please look forward to it!

As it stands, we are at a tie. This isn't a vote that I would want to leave to a roll unless absolutely necessary. Changes of vote are, of course, perfectly acceptable. So, the window remains open for now.
>>>Bring Izurin along with you to Impel.
it's a meta-reasoning vote, but the story will be more interesting with her around, especially since these three arrive as useless as she is despite thinking that they're adults.
in universe, Luca doesn't know how awful Impel and the Sanctuary is yet
Bringing Izurin along with us to Impel.

Thank you all for your well thought out reasoning. Writing!

In your mind you deliberate with the practicality, the logistics, the logic, and many other similar factors involved in bringing Izurin with you to Impel. Every sign points toward her being a liability, just as Seo mentioned, and yet… Yet, you can’t bring yourself to agree with them. As troubling as her presence will assuredly be…you can’t bring yourself to eliminate hope that there’s more to her everything she’s shown you. She is a creature of an age long passed, a being that came from a near-mythical city, lived in that city, and is a part of it all. No. You will not accept that something from legend could be so mundane, so useless. If your grandfather obsessed over his encounter with one of these creatures for more than half his life, there is surely something about this one you can make use of for yourself.

“There’s only a day and a half between here and Impel. We’ll take her with us there, and let our employer take care of the rest.” You give your final answer looking straight into Seo’s eyes to convey that you aren’t going to change your mind.

“Of course.” Seo huffs and immediately gets off the bench. “How do you propose we bring her there, string a rope around her and drag her along with us?”

You stand as well. “Don’t be ridiculous. Since you’ve made it quite clear that you will have nothing to do with her, she’ll ride with me, and since you two are clear of the city it wouldn’t kill you to share a horse.”

Misha goes wide-eyed as you finish your sentence. “Oh, come on! Everything was just fine as it was before…that creature showed up.”

“You two are both aware that we’re all working for one of those ‘creatures?’” You shoot back with a raised voice.

“I deduced as much that she was one of them, but it’s you who’s working for her.” Seo jabs a finger into the exposed shoulder joint of your armor. “We are here to help you, if you’d actually let us!”

“Then help.” You answer coldly and head toward the entrance of the inn which you open with force. “Get your things.” You say instinctively to the small creature waiting in the cold.

With the biting cold air stinging your face, Izurin stares at you timidly before holding up the fishing trap.

Fucking hell.

File: int9.jpg (295 KB, 1018x830)
295 KB
295 KB JPG


The silence and frigid cold air blowing over your body as you ride has given ample opportunity to cool your head. The small creature fearfully clutches your sides as she taken along for a ride that you only explained to her briefly. Well, no matter. It’s not as if she’d likely understand what you’re saying if you even bother. You only need to think of a way to extract what she must know about Pora Elinu, and the actual practitioners of magic there.

Seo and Misha ride out of step with you, several meters behind your own horse. It might give them the chance to have a conversation that you aren’t facilitating. Throwing vitriol at the back of your head should provide abundant conversation points.

The sun has already begun to sag in the sky, giving you another two hours of good riding at most. The time frame is heavily influence by the lack of sleep that has left you all agitated, and the horses beginning to exhaust. The snow-covered hills and rocky crags make for poor cover for a camp, so hopefully more advantageous terrain appears in time.

With how preoccupied your mind is, and how uneventful the ride has been the past few hours, it comes a shock when you see three cloaked figures appear not far in the distance along with a rudimentary blockade of spiked wood. They hide their faces, but certainly not their weapons.

You immediately rein in your horse’s speed and fall back to match Seo and Misha. “Trouble ahead.”
File: bri1.jpg (59 KB, 564x705)
59 KB

“I see that.” Seo answers with hardened eyes sizing up the obstacle. “The terrain isn’t going to allow us to ride anywhere besides the road without endangering the horses.”

“It’s certainly why they’re set up at this location.” You answer grimly as you search for any other brigands that may be hiding. “I hope your legs aren’t too sore from the ride.”

“They could use a stretch, as well as my arms.” She answers with a vicious smile as she pats the mace at her hip.

The two of your simultaneously slow your horses to a stop well before the blockade.

“Keep back with the horses, Misha.” You direct him as Seo hands him a spare dagger. “And don’t be afraid to use that if it comes to it.”

Misha holds the sheathed knife in the palm of his two hands as if it were a much weightier weapon.

You dismount and help Misha and Izurin off the horses as well. “Stay back and out of the way.” You state at the Elin, who with confused wide eyes clings onto the hem of your armor. “Back here.” You pry her hands away.

You and Seo together walk down the cobbled stone path with the long shadows of the hills cast over your bodies.

“Don’t suppose they’ll care to know about the seabass.” You ask as you keep your hand on the hilt of your sword.

She looks at your incredulously before shaking her head. “Why don’t you ask them yourself, since you’re in the habit of making poor friends right now.”

“You can make friends with them as well, since you’ve always been in the habit of blowing off steam at your friends.” You quickly retort.

“Trust me, I intend to blow off plenty of it.” She marches with her eyes locked ahead, and her hand on the handle of her large mace.

As pissed off as she is right now, you know for certain that she will still fight by your side without hesitation. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

The two of you stop a few meters back from the blatantly ill-intentioned group of three men blocking the road. They’re intent on hiding their identities behind cloth masks, but they’re certainly no professional group of bandits given the poor conditions of their weapons.

Before you have a chance to speak, one of the three bandits steps forward. “Your horses, your food, your coin, and your weapons. All in exchange for your lives.” He barks as the three of them unsheathe their poor-quality swords and hold them menacingly.

It's going to come to a fight isn't it?
Goddamn bandits being idiots. If you don't have overwhelming force, it's far more profitable to find another, less well-armed party to rob. Hope they see the light and bail.
Unless they're that desperate. Which is highly likely, considering their state.
Or, alternatively, they're being paid to keep people out and harass caravans. Not as likely, but still a possibility.
File: BD1.png (2.07 MB, 1249x671)
2.07 MB
2.07 MB PNG

Their stances are as atrocious as their battered weapons.

Your pace quickens as you do your best to keep a calm face. “Surely we can talk about this.”

“I do the talking here, boy. Now give up what I said, and I’ll let you keep your blood inside your body.” He starts moving forward with his two companions.

Seo holds forth her mace. “This is sovereign land of King of Velika! Attack us, and we will be well within our rights to dispatch of all of you.”

You unsheathe your sword as a different brigand responds. “No king out here, missy. No knights neither. No one out here in besides us as a matter of fact. Something you’ll soon learn as you’re screaming yer lungs out tonight.”

Seo’s grip tightens around her mace as she glares daggers at the three of them. "We'll see about that."

You pivot into a balanced stance. You need to only recall your training…


For this encounter, you will control: Luca and Seo's actions.

Character Sheets: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o_UUxh62Gj5_fMjlaRr5cn1BHBB3P8uLpnMy15XcJak/edit?usp=sharing
(Updated with Seo's Character Sheet, and now organized via race of character)

>HP: 28
>LP: 8
>Stamina: 26
>MP: 0

>HP: 19
>LP: 6
>Stamina: 28
>MP: 0

The healthy three bandits slowly advance on both Luca and Seo. They're a disorganized bunch, so it's difficult to predict how they might begin their attack.

>Write in movement/actions for both Luca and Seo
Sufficient motivation can be transformative.

Real combat! Yes, we all remember that. (Checks formatting several times before posting.)

Please don't hesitate to ask if anything about action posting/combat rules in general need clarification!
everybody's just a little bit racist...!

They don't sound miserable in the cold and dark. I'm gonna guess these guys are huge meatshields.

>Pursuer on the leading bandit
>Seo then pushes the leading bandit towards the one on her side, while Luca goes for an offensive parry on the bandit on his side.

If they're supernaturally heavy, hopefully Seo will use the opportunity to push herself backward for distance and distract the leading bandit from targeting Luca.

We could potentially break their weapons, but that's only useful if we're going to whittle them down with reach, and I don't like our odds of taking that much punishment in the cold.
I get where you're coming from, but I kind of want to use our fanned blades, since we have three to throw. It just feels like a good occasion.
As seen with the old man, we use 3 stamina but the damage is only based on the number of enemies. This attack should be used when the most targets are in range, like here. That's a guaranteed 12 flat damage if we hit a,d might put them off.
It also opens the leader to a Limb Smash from Seo. Less evasion to play into a head Crush, which if it stuns opens him up to a Pursuer.

QM, stunned enemies cannot not dodge, correct ?
It's good, safe damage, on people who won't really block it, so I'm not against such a plan. I'm just trying to oneshot them as fast as possible to reduce their numbers.

If we play defensively and just continuously hammer them, it'd get the job done. I just expect them to be unusually chunky from extra flesh.
Heyo, everyone! I hope you're all doing well. I'll be back to the grind, so we'll see how that might affect posting. Also, we're approaching the bump limit, so we can also expect a new thread soon (today or tomorrow). I'll make sure to link it here when I do feel the need to create it.

You are correct, stunned enemies have 0 evasion unless somehow acted upon by some outside force.

I believe we're currently at a tie, so I'll leave the vote open for a few more hours.
Rolled 1 (1d2)

First off, letting a roll decide how we proceed.

Opening with Pursuer on the leading bandit, and then pushing toward the other two bandits afterward, hoping to bait out an offensive parry. =1

Opening with Fanned Blades on all three enemies with Luca and a Limb Smash from Seo. =2

>Rolling a 1d2
Rolled 4, 7, 9, 1 = 21 (4d10)

Starting off with Pursuer on the leading bandit.

Stamina Cost: 7 for each
Rolling 4d10(first two to Luca, last two to Seo) to see if hit connects (CR 6 to connect)
Total Physical Amplification if Connected: (18+18)*1.5=54
First Pursuer connects!

No rolls from the remaining bandits this round, so we'll see how they act.

>Writing outcome
Archiving thread now, as we're pretty close to the bump limit. The next update will be the first post of the new thread, so please keep an eye out. I will be linking it here, if this thread is still up.

Also, I finally decided to pick a name for myself that isn't simply a copy of what's in my tripcode. (Did so from the outset because I couldn't think of anything to call myself.) So from here on you'll see this name on the posts, but the tripcode will remain the same!

See you in the new thread in a few hours!

New thread and update here: >>5109195

Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.