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File: Magical Girl Academy.png (6.36 MB, 2560x1440)
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Five millennia have passed since the fall of the Machine Builders, or so the textbooks say.

You live in the World Reborn, beneath the light of the second sun whose name is Wisdom. A million miles beneath your feet - perhaps even further than that - the corpse of the first sun spins upon its midnight axis as a horrific reminder of mankind's hubris. Smothered in a dense and loathsome smog of corruption, it drinks in all light an births foul demons into the world. Yet without that hateful undead star holding everything together by its gravity, the flying islands of the World Reborn would scatter beyond the astral strata and into the cold void of space. All life would be choked out, the winds of life would disperse into the void...

...or so the textbooks say. Little enough is known about the Black Star Below, and few who enter into the lowest strata where the mists of corruption grow dense and one can behold its horrific emptiness return to tell the tale. Either they are consumed by the star or the creatures that it births, or its darkness taints their minds and drives them beyond the precipice of madness. All that is known for sure is that those mists birth the greatest threat to humanity.

(Aside from other humans, of course)

Demons. The Star-Spawned. Wretched abominations spat out by the corpse of the first sun, rapacious beasts that know only of madness, chaos, and destruction. Those unlucky enough to survive one of their attacks will eventually succumb to their madness, their humanity eroding away from exposure to the Black Star's taint. When they broke the first sun in their quest for infinite energy, the Machine Builders unleashed these threats upon the Old World, and beneath the weight of these threats their once glorious civilization fell.

But before they fell, they left behind one last gift for their descendants - the second sun named Wisdom, and the stars that gathered around Him. His light cleansed the taint from the highest strata of the World Reborn, and His greatest warriors - the Magical Girls - drove the demons back into the Mists from whence they came.

Those times are long past. Outside of the lowest strata, attacks by the Star-Spawned are incredibly rare. But the Magical Girls who protect humanity retain their prestige, serving as Wisdom's hands upon the earth to keep the peace among humanity... and answer Demonic activity with overwhelming firepower. Every child wants to be one when they grow up, and many have the spark to join the Magical Girl Reserve.
>>
>>5290397
The best and the brightest, however, attend the Astral Academy from a young age to receive the best training a Magical Girl can receive. Sprawling across the bulk of the Island of St. Sophia, the Astral Academy sits directly beneath Wisdom's holy light, where it is bathed in his glory both day and night. Those who graduate from these hallowed halls become the Magical Girls who are seen throughout the World Reborn, bringing peace, order, and justice to all of Mankind.

You, of course, are one of those gifted children who received an acceptance letter from the Astral Academy.

What got you in to the most prestigious Academy in the world?
>Good breeding. Literally - you were bred to be a superior Magical Girl, and got in easily on merits. (+2 to all base stats, even in Mundane Form)
>Nepotism. Your Mother holds a high position in the World Reborn, and as such you have been guaranteed a spot from birth. (Gain the Ojou-sama and Money Perks)
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Scholarship. You studied your pretty pink panties off to make the most of your odd alignment, and all that work paid in dividends. (Gain the Gifted and Sorcery Perks)
>Groomed. Not like that you sickos! But... one of the teachers here was your mentor, and wants you to be her successor. You'll do your best! (Gain the Watcher and Allies Perks)
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Infiltration. You were born of a monstrous womb to bring down the high strata from the inside, raised to bring about chaos and destruction. (Gain the Big Friend and Patron Perks. Your Specialization has been Corrupted as if you rolled a 20)

Regardless of how you got in, roll 13d20.

Patrons: If you pick Patronage or rolled the Patron perk, use this table for your 13th D20
01-13: One of the Stars has taken notice of your talents, and has chosen to sponsor you.
14-15: A Retired Magical Girl has taken notice of you, though she's too old to give you much but her Wisdom.
16: One of the Noble Houses with ties to the school has sponsored your acceptance.
17: An Elder Thing from an age before even the Machine Builders has arranged for your acceptance by tugging the strings of Fate.
18: The Sisterhood of the Unfallen has claimed you as their own. Become a Dark Magical Girl and taint your Specialization, but you remain on the side of Humanity.
19: One of the Palantine Ordos which your family has served within for generations has sponsored your acceptance.
20: Wisdom Himself has selected you for this position. No pressure.
>>
Rolled 9, 11, 9, 3, 2, 4, 6, 12, 19, 15, 9, 19, 3 = 121 (13d20)

>>5290398
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
How can I not choose this.
>>
Rolled 5, 13, 1, 10, 12, 6, 8, 12, 8, 15, 13, 4, 14 = 121 (13d20)

>>5290398
>>Scholarship. You studied your pretty pink panties off to make the most of your odd alignment, and all that work paid in dividends. (Gain the Gifted and Sorcery Perks)
>>
Rolled 6, 12, 16, 5, 9, 7, 8, 13, 7, 13, 8, 12, 15 = 131 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
Well this seems interesting.
>>
File: AMGCore1.1.pdf (7.64 MB, PDF)
7.64 MB
7.64 MB PDF
>>5290398
>>5290400
>>5290402

PDF that contains what you'll get for the first twelve rolls. This probably won't follow the mechanics within (and the setting is very different) but will give the fluff and general abilities of the Magical Girl you roll up.
>>
Rolled 2, 20, 6, 9, 2, 12, 13, 1, 14, 14, 16, 1, 19 = 129 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Groomed. Not like that you sickos! But... one of the teachers here was your mentor, and wants you to be her successor. You'll do your best! (Gain the Watcher and Allies Perks)
Will we all finally become the little girls we were destined to be?
>>
Rolled 15, 5, 10, 13, 9, 10, 15, 4, 5, 14, 3, 14, 1 = 118 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

I want cute boys, cute girls and nice older characters.
>>
>>5290405
>9 years old
>roll 20 on body type
>roll skimpy outfit
I have become the jailbait.
>>
Rolled 8, 4, 6, 11, 2, 12, 13, 8, 14, 15, 15, 15, 16 = 139 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>>
Rolled 6, 16, 19, 12, 20, 3, 4, 9, 19, 17, 7, 14, 6 = 152 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>>
Rolled 2, 2, 5, 2, 18, 18, 12, 14, 9, 3, 3, 10, 20 = 118 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>>
Rolled 3, 9, 1, 10, 20, 8, 8, 14, 20, 18, 8, 17, 15 = 151 (13d20)

>>5290398
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>>
>>5290467
Ah, yes, the 9 YO underdeveloped invulnerable melee chosen one
>>
>>5290483
The dice really loves underaged lolis saving the world
>>
Going to give people until 7 AM EST to choose backgrounds. Then I'll build any new rolls and put builds up to a vote.

Also going to say that the Skimpy Override from l00d groomed is purely cosmetic, and won't affect stat-lines to make things less headache inducing for me.
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 1, 14, 19, 9, 15, 15, 18, 2, 15, 19, 13 = 157 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>>
Rolled 2, 15, 3, 4, 18, 19, 10, 5, 8, 15, 1, 18, 16 = 134 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>>
Rolled 15, 5, 5, 14, 2, 17, 2, 1, 12, 18, 9, 9, 12 = 121 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Infiltration. You were born of a monstrous womb to bring down the high strata from the inside, raised to bring about chaos and destruction. (Gain the Big Friend and Patron Perks. Your Specialization has been Corrupted as if you rolled a 20)
>>
>>5290405
I have escaped my Wage Cage and can now properly inspect my rolls:
>2, 20, 6
Age 9, Ultra Oppai Loli with Psychic Powers. +2 to MAG and LCK
>9, 2, 12
Ranged weapon, +1 AGI, Skimpy Outfit, +1 AGI, Avenger, +1 VIT
So Psychic Ultra Oppai Loli who's bound to go absolutely ballistic if one of her friends get hurt in the line of duty, in a bikini with a firearm or a magic bow
>13, 1
Healing Artifact, +1 VIT, Dual Weapon. Very nice, some Monster Hunter level transforming weapon shenanigans.
>14, 14
Double Patron Perk, +2 to ANY stat. Also rolled a 19 for the 13th die, so not one but TWO Palantine Ordos sponsors my acceptance in to the academy. Hot damn.
>16, 1
Fix-it Band-aids, +1 VIT, Super Map, +1 LCK

So Psychic Ultra Oppai Loli who's bound to go absolutely ballistic if one of her friends get hurt in the line of duty, in a bikini or swimsuit with a firearm or a magic bow that can transform in to another weapon, a magic map that combined with her innate ability to detect minds can be used to pinpoint the exact location of any enemy, with the backing of two Palantine Ordos as Patrons and enough Healing Items to patch up any friend that gets herself a little beaten up. I dig it, I can absolutely roll with this.

>>5290524
So uh, is this a Multiplayer Quest? Do we all get to be the magical girl we rolled, or are these templates we'll vote on later? It seems a little vauge right now.
Do we also get to use the coins the PDF mentions to alter certain stats, or are we just going to ignore that?
>>
>>5290631
These are all templates that you're going to vote on for MC-chan. The one that you rolled, I may have code-named Oppai Archerdin. Very balanced rolls with no real weaknesses, and good VIT. Note that you do not double stack the same perk, so the Second Patron becomes the Dimension/Overcity Shift.

Also note that you're a bikini knight of some sort.

Current build codenames are:
Born Lucky, Gambling Ace, Mage Tank, Oppai Archerdin, Chuuni Loli, Psychic Trickster, Iron Maiden, Chibi Yuusha, Shield Heroine, and Arcane Athlete.

>>5290629
>>5290630
You two will be getting proper builds tomorrow morning.
>>
Rolled 11, 20, 12, 3, 6, 17, 15, 15, 1, 3, 20, 12, 11 = 146 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Nepotism. Your Mother holds a high position in the World Reborn, and as such you have been guaranteed a spot from birth. (Gain the Ojou-sama and Money Perks)

I'm a sucker for a good Ojou-sama
>>
Rolled 9, 8, 3, 8, 20, 13, 13, 10, 10, 10, 7, 2, 16 = 129 (13d20)

>Infiltration. You were born of a monstrous womb to bring down the high strata from the inside, raised to bring about chaos and destruction. (Gain the Big Friend and Patron Perks. Your Specialization has been Corrupted as if you rolled a 20)

EEEvil
>>
Rolled 5, 6, 9, 14, 1, 9, 14, 19, 5, 2, 7, 20, 16 = 127 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Nepotism. Your Mother holds a high position in the World Reborn, and as such you have been guaranteed a spot from birth. (Gain the Ojou-sama and Money Perks)
I’m a little confused, but give me my ringlets
>>
File: Arcane Athlete Example.jpg (538 KB, 850x1339)
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538 KB JPG
Because [Lewd] and [Not Lewd] will have very different tones, and it's very close between Patron and Groomed [Lewd], going to have a run-off with the Build Choice.

What got you in to the most prestigious Academy in the world (Run Off)?
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

What sort of Magical Girl are you?
>Born Lucky
STR 5, AGI 10, VIT 4, MAG 7, LCK 10
Average, Sound, Melee, Skimpy, Copycat
Perks: Flexible, Enhanced Outfit, Swan Song, Money, Ojou-sama, [CENSORED]

>Gambling Ace
STR 4, AGI 7, VIT 5, MAG 9, LCK 11
Average, Gambling, Ranged, Elaborate, Nullification
Perks: Disguise Artifact, Enhanced Outfit, Get Out of Jail, Money, Mirror Move, Underdog

>Mage Tank
STR 7, AGI 4, VIT 9, MAG 11, LCK 6
Average, Gravity, Melee, Elaborate, Focused Assault
Perks: Disguise Artifact, Healing Artifact, Environmental Sealing, Futanari, Defender, Mana Channeler

>Oppai Archerdin
STR 7, AGI 7, VIT 9, MAG 6, LCK 8
Vavoom, Psychic, Ranged/Melee, Skimpy, Avenger
Perks: Healing Artifact, Dual Weapon (Melee), Patron, Dimension Shift, Fix-It Bandaids, Super Map
Patron: Palantine Ordo

>Chuuni Loli
STR 4, AGI 5, VIT 6, MAG 14, LCK 7
Lolimode, Darkness, Mystic, Elaborate, Focus Fire
Perks: Monster Form, Mystic Artifact, Dimensional Home, Patron, Tuner, Dimension Shift
Patron: Stars

>Psychic Trickster
STR 4, AGI 6, VIT 7, MAG 9, LCK 10
Lolimode, Psychic, Mystic, Skimpy, Avenger
Perks: Healing Artifact, Disguise Artifact, Patron, Money, Skeleton Key, Monster Form
Patron: Noble House

>Iron Maiden
STR 9, AGI 4, VIT 8, MAG 8, LCK 7
Vavoom, Metal, Mystic, Cosplay, Hammerspace
Perks: Mystic Artifact, Bloodmage, Soul Jar, Swan Song, Sturdy, Dimension Shift

>Chibi Yuusha
STR 6, AGI 7, VIT 9, MAG 7, LCK 8
Lolimode, Reinforcement, Melee, Cosplay, Invulnerable
Perks: Enhance Outfit, Allies, Big Damn Hero, Fated, Tuner, Transfiguration

>Shield Heroine
STR 5, AGI 4, VIT 13, MAG 6, LCK 9
Average, Shields, Shields, Cosplay, Prime of Your Life
Perks: Disguise Artifact, Allies, Fake Parents, Eternal Style, Defender, Snapshots

>Arcane Athlete
STR 7, AGI 4, VIT 8, MAG 10, LCK 7
Average, Gym, Mystic, Cosplay, Barrage
Perks: Monster Form, Money, Eternal Style, Martial Training, Skeleton Key, Censored

>Swift Spiritualist
STR 6, AGI 9, VIT 8, MAG 6, LCK 8
Vavoom, Air, Melee, Cosplay, Tentacles
Perks: Bag of Holding, Gifted, Get out of Jail, Money, Fix-It Bandaids, Astral Projection

>Mini Monk
STR 8, AGI 7, VIT 8, MAG 7, LCK 7
Lolimode, Reinforcement, Mystic, Skimpy, Regeneration
Perks: Martial Training, Enhance Weapon, Room to Grow, Eternal Style, Ojou-sama, Bloodmage

Too many options...
>>
File: Gambler Example.jpg (2.37 MB, 2039x2894)
2.37 MB
2.37 MB JPG
>>5290832
>Warrior of Light
STR 9, AGI 6, VIT 9, MAG 6, LCK 7
Vavoom, Light, Melee, Flowing, Regeneration
Perks: Monster Form, Money, Mysterious Friend, Fated, Mount, Mana Channeler

>Airhead Operator
STR 4, AGI 10, VIT 8, MAG 7, LCK 7
Average, Air, Ranged, Cosplay, Shadow Clones
Perks: Healing Artifact, Bag of Holding, Absolute Direction, Transfiguration, Sturdy, Memory Link

>Sonic Boom
STR 4, AGI 10, VIT 5, MAG 9, LCK 8
Lolimode, Sound, Mystic, Skimpy, Barrage
Perks: Allies, Awareness, Martial Training, Dimensional Home, Sturdy, Mount

Additionally, for the sake of my sanity, all ages will be normalized to 1X years old, the appropriate age for an ordinary first year student at the Astral Academy.
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)

Voting for
>Chibi Yuusha
Although consider this a vote for
>Iron Maiden
if that gains traction.
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Mage Tank
>>
>>5290832
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

>Born Lucky
>Arcane Athlete
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Oppai Archerdin

I'll put my vote down for what I managed to roll out. A Ranged character with the ability to sense minds and a Map that allows them to know exactly where they (and any enemies) are at all times, I can't just dip on something like this.
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)

>Psychic Trickster
>STR 4, AGI 6, VIT 7, MAG 9, LCK 10
>Lolimode, Psychic, Mystic, Skimpy, Avenger
>Perks: Healing Artifact, Disguise Artifact, Patron, Money, Skeleton Key, Monster Form
>Patron: Noble House
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Chuuni Loli
Wa ga hai!
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Iron Maiden
>>
>>5290832
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

>>Born Lucky
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Oppai Archerdin
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

>Born Lucky
Has everything I wanted.
>>
>>5290832
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Mini Monk
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Chuuni Loli
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Born Lucky
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage
>Born Lucky
We’re already flexible (and skimpy) so groomed gives less overall.
>>
>>5291036
If you end up getting a trait from your background that you would already have, it will bump to another trait. In this case, the Flexible will become "Fortunate" (and give you even more luck). Likewise, the Patron from Patronage would become Dimensional Shift (or Allies, if you have that, or a random one if you have all 3).

The skimpy is purely cosmetic, but a fun meme might be that double stacking it turns your outfit into Censor Bars during your transformation.

(This is not to say that I prefer one or the other; my personal preference was Scholarship, but I also didn't put down anything that I'm not willing to run)
>>
Rolled 2, 1, 10, 2, 17, 9, 17, 8, 17, 2, 7, 2, 17 = 111 (13d20)

>>5290398
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Born Lucky
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)

>Arcane Athlete
>>
>>5290832
>Mage Tank
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
my inner /d/ compels me.
>>
>>5291210
>>5291212
I should have put a post when I started work on the character sheet, but I'm halfway through that and it would be too much work to back out now. I started at the tie, so you're getting a "por que no los dos" with less fucking your teacher on the regular and more being patroned by one of the Stars that seems to be a pervert. Toning down lewdness from Groomed and cranking it up from the original patron.
>>
>>5291213
But I want to lewd the teacher(s) too!
>>
>>5291213
Oh I thought it would be the other way around to avoid the whole /d/ monster/alien fuckery instead perv teacher fucking their student which is why the Watcher is there to watch your back from their perverted ass and the flexible to escape from them. That seems worse. I would rather deal with a lewd teacher.
>>
>>5291213
Gotta crank up the lewdness back to groomed levels since it won. Don't really care about the other aspects if you choose to mix it up.
>>
>>5291213
I like the compromise, myself
>>
>>5290832
>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>Shield Heroine
>>
>>5291213
No offense, but that sounds worse than one or the other.
>>
>>5290832
>>Patronage. You were selected by a higher power to be their champion - but even champions must receive a proper education (Gain the Patron and Fated Perks.)
>>
>>5290832
>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>Born Lucky
>>
>>5290832
>>Groomed. Okay, yeah, like that. But it feels super good, and... uh... you're really limber now! (Gain the Watcher and Flexible Perks. Your outfit roll is overridden to be Skimpy)
>>
File: Parva (Uniform).jpg (1.24 MB, 2894x4093)
1.24 MB
1.24 MB JPG
>>5291213
Well, since y'all tied up the vote when I started work on this post, I guess we'll be going with this as your background:

Groomed by a High Power. You were selected by a higher power for mysterious reasons that often require you to be naked in their presence? They talk about wanting to observe their Shrine Maiden's growth, but... aren't you just giving them an elaborate peep show!? (Gain the Patron and Flexible Perks)

Expect lewdness levels for this quest to be about on par with Mahou Sensei Negima. Maybe a bit higher with heavier stuff going on in the background.

Character Sheet
Name: Parva Symphonia
Titles: Maiden of the 1728th Shrine Hall
Magical Name: You have not earned a epithet to use among Mahou Shoujo circles yet
Patron: The Star of Diligence
Sex: Female

Attributes
STR 5, AGI 10, VIT 4, MAG 7, LCK 12

While transformed...
You have Strength to match your average body builder, and the endurance to run a marathon.
You have Agility to match a precision tool with your hands, and the speed of a car on the highway.
You have Vitality to match a healthy and athletic girl your age, and an ordinary resistance to pain.
You have Magic aptitude enough to match the greatest of sorcerers outside the circles of Mahou Shoujo.

Even without your transformation, your Luck reaches the point of absurdity in how the world will bend over backwards to accommodate you when it comes to matters of chance.

Magical Girl Abilities
Grand Symphony: The magical sound of music, which primarily serves to enhance your fighting style and inspire courage in your allies. It sheathes weapons in shockwaves of sound that shake apart your foes, and tempers spirits against those taken by fear. Those with just hearts who hear the music your magic produces gain the benefits of your magic, and those who are aligned with evil are stuck with fear and foreboding.

Metron and Nomos: Your magic swords that harmonize with your music. They are especially suited to carrying the sonic hymns as a form of attack.

Barrier Jacket: A barrier jacket devised by the Star of Diligence. Breezy and showy, but very comfortable!

Kaleidoscope Eyes: You can copy other people's special abilities and fighting styles as long as you can seen them in use. Abilities that you've copied can be stored for later use, but their powers are largely diminished, and you can only store 6 of them.
>>
>>5291307
Perks
Flexibility: Outside of your transformation, you have the flexibility of an olympic gymnast and master contortionist, with nearly perfect control of your body's motion. While transformed, you may as well be made of rubber, with how inhuman your flexibility and motion can become.

Enhanced Outfit: The Star of Diligence Himself designed your barrier jacket to his exacting specifications to provide a greater level of protection for his shrine maiden than even the fabled powered armors of the Machine Builders. How he managed to do that while also showing off your body to the degree that the barrier jacket does is a mystery...

Swan Song: You're only scratching the surface of your potential when you fight, because the forms which Diligence raised you to learn can be dangerous for the human body. However, if the need arises, you have his permission to go all out - just this one - and turn the tide of battle. Just don't expect to be walking for a while after you pull that stunt off...

Money: You're rich. Or rather, Diligence provides you with a living stipend as His Shrine Maiden, and he does not skimp out on the the amount of money that stipend has. You cannot afford to buy just anything you want, but most things within reason are within reach. If you make a good case for it, your Patron might even be willing to splurge and get you something big.

Ojou-sama: Diligence raised you as a daughter of his shrine to become His ideal of graceful beauty, and it shows in your affected mannerisms and demeanor. You can move among the highest social circles of the Upper Strata comfortably, and are blessed with the aid of one of His creations: a golem manservant, who attends to your every need.

[CENSORED]: Behold, the ULTIMATE FATHERLY DEFENSE of Diligence. Somehow, whenever your get into a lewd situation or otherwise lose your clothing, there's always clouds of steam or rays of light that hide the important bits until they're properly covered. The reason you think it's Diligence's work is because of another blessing He gave you... any time you swear, it comes out like the quack of a duckling.

Fortunate: From duplicate "Flexibility". Your luck extends to your mundane life, with things just happening to go your way whenever it's up to a game of chance. This can be a curse at times, because if you're looking for trouble, you often enough will just miss it if you wouldn't be able to handle it.

Patron: You were abandoned by your mother upon the steps of the 1728th Shrine Hall, in the Upper Strata. Though it had long since been abandoned, to be consumed by the wilderness, the Star of Diligence who calls that Shrine His Home took you in as his own. He raised you into a fine young girl, though His strange quirks and preferences - such as "no clothes in the Shrine except for ceremonies" - have given you a few strange habits of your own.
>>
>>5291222
There is nothing stopping you from pursuing the teachers as romance options and "bagging" them, though don't expect me to go into incredible detail if you do earn yourself a smut scene.

>>5291232
Oh, no. The perks were the Teacher and the results of their Teaching, not means to escape them. Flexibility for various positions, Watcher because they did feel affection towards (you) and they would have gone a long way further out of their way to help you out. The current situation has no SEGGS going on, just being raised without any nudity taboo and the Star of Diligence regularly clinically examining Parva's body a la what happened in the John Wick Isekai.
>>
>>5291309
I like how her sheet has turned out, I'm down for this.
>>
>>5291475
Much agreed.
>>
>>5291307
>>5291309
Looks pretty good.
>>
File: The 1728th Temple Shrine.jpg (1.18 MB, 1046x1544)
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A small island meanders listlessly across the upper strata of the World Reborn, carried by currents of ether and starlight along its orbit around the Black Star Below. With barely more than a few square kilometers upon its sunward surface, it shows little sign of human development. Too large to house a noble's private getaway, too small to make for a proper fiefdom for even the lowest gentry, it flies beneath notice alongside a million other shards of its size. The only thing that sets it apart from any other islet soaring through the upper strata is the ivy-clad spire that peaks out from the forest's canopy, marking the location of the 1728th Astral Shrine.

Until recently, even that would only get a passing glance from those who passed this nameless island. Forgotten shrines whose stars have long since burnt out are an all-too-common sight even in the upper strata, and few can tell the difference between a shrine that housed a star and a mere temple built to revere them at first glance. A record of it may have existed within the archives of the Church of Holy Wisdom and His Ten Thousand Brother Stars, but it just as easily may have been lost to time. To a Sister of the Church, it would have been a passing curiosity that she might visit if she had the time, to record its history and update the archives' knowledge of it.

Now, however, the spire shines with the Light of Diligence, and the faithful have taken notice.

After centuries of silence, the halls of the 1728th Astral Shrine hum again with the sound of the faithful upon pilgrimage, making gossip and singing prayers as they bathe within the holy light. Rumors fly as they have for over a decade now, of why the Star of Diligence has flickered back to life. Some say it was the mysterious and alluring priestess sent by the church to shepherd the faithful petitioned Wisdom Himself to restore His little brother's light, and the Second Sun answered. Some say it was the work of the well dressed golem who can be seen sometimes in the shrine's halls, keeping it cleanly for the faithful. Surely in his memory banks, the Machine Builders left him the knowledge of the Star Forge and the wisdom to maintain and restore their Greatest of Works.

The most prevalent theory, however, lays the deed at the feet of the charming and graceful shrine maiden who leads the many ceremonies to honor the Star of Diligence. Her pure smile could surely restore life to the dead, and a Star is no exception. Of course, there may be even more rumors about her than about Diligence Himself.

"She speaks the tongue of the Machine Builders like a native! Could they have sent her adrift in time, to future?"

"I heard she walks around the Temple grounds at night clad only in the Light of Diligence. Of course, she's so pure, the world itself provides for her modesty..."

"They say Fortune is her Mother and Wisdom Himself is her Father, because only divine blood could grant her such divine luck..."

And so on and so forth.

>Limit...
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>>5291733

You are that charming and graceful Shrine Maiden, and if you had heard people spreading those rumors, you'd probably quip that one of them is true and leave them to guess which one it is. It's the second one, for the record. Being clad in light is natural state of things, and the air's sweet kiss upon your bare skin is a far more comfortable state to live in than wearing clothes that itch and scratch. Not to mention that it is Diligence's rule that - unless ceremony and custom demand otherwise - you go clad in light throughout the shrine, that He may better monitor your growth.

[It is important that your health is monitored for any aberrations, that you may grow into the ideal Shrine Maiden]

"Holy Wisdom forgive my heresy..." you sometime hear Sister April say during her morning prayers. "I fear Your Little Brother is a peeping Tom."

Today is the Feast Day of Diligence, and the day that His Light flickered back to life after a child was abandoned upon the vine-covered altar by her mother - the closest thing you have to a Birthday. This year is a special year, as if the Star of Diligence believes you are ready, you will be heading to the Astral Academy to hone your skills as a Mahou Shoujo. While living in a shrine all of your life may have blinded you to some of the cultural significance of the Astral Academy, one thing Diligence diligently drilled into your head is that the instructors there have all counted themselves among the greatest Mahou Shoujo to ever live.

Which is why you need to do your best today. You moved gracefully and elegantly upon the stage, performing the rituals expected of you as a Shrine Maiden during this holy day. An elegant and intricate dance, which culminated in the first breaking of Earth for spring with your ceremonial hoe to honor those faithful farmers who work with Diligence upon the fields. You tilled the earth that had been prepared in offering upon the shine's altar, and Diligence shone His light down upon you in recognition that it was Good.

Your ceremonial dance may have been just a bit cheeky. Sister April would not recognize your movements upon the stage, but Diligence certainly would. The footwork of your dance matches the sword form you intend to perform in the Light of Diligence tonight, for your Patron's judgement, step for step.

That form is...
>Two Shadows Dancing Over Water. Though it is a simple form, you intend to prove your worth via its perfection.
>The Wolf and His Mate Stalk the Antelope. A form that introduces certain complex motions to hide the intent and direction of your swings.
>The Bear Has Two Swift Claws. An aggressive sword form that is remarkably graceful despite its focus on the offensive over all else.
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.

Regardless of your choice, roll 1d20.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>5291734
>Two Shadows Dancing Over Water. Though it is a simple form, you intend to prove your worth via its perfection.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Bear Has Two Swift Claws. An aggressive sword form that is remarkably graceful despite its focus on the offensive over all else.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Wolf and His Mate Stalk the Antelope. A form that introduces certain complex motions to hide the intent and direction of your swings
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
I feel like something convoluted would fit someone blessed with immense luck.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>5291734
>>Two Shadows Dancing Over Water. Though it is a simple form, you intend to prove your worth via its perfection.
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5291734
>>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Bear Has Two Swift Claws. An aggressive sword form that is remarkably graceful despite its focus on the offensive over all else.
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>5291734
>>Two Shadows Dancing Over Water. Though it is a simple form, you intend to prove your worth via its perfection.
>>
>>5291737
Ironic that our extremely lucky girl's first roll would be a natural 1
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Bear Has Two Swift Claws. An aggressive sword form that is remarkably graceful despite its focus on the offensive over all else.
>>
>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5291734
>The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves. A highly complex sword form, where your two blades must move as one in wildly different ways from one another.
Fits in with being lucky.
>>
>>5291734
>The Wolf and His Mate Stalk the Antelope. A form that introduces certain complex motions to hide the intent and direction of your swings.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>5292171
forgot to roll
>>
File: Symbol of Wisdom.jpg (155 KB, 690x976)
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Sword Form Selected: The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves.
Roll 1d20+AGI+(LCK/2) vs DC 30
Fortunate inverts your roll from a 1 to a 20!
20+10+6 = 36. Two Degrees of Success!

Your part in the Feast Day ceremonies ends with the completion of the First Tilling.

A respectful and reverent silence hangs in air as you step away from the altar to allow Sister April her proper place before the congregation. Though you may be the Maiden of the 1728th Astral Shrine, the Church entrusted Sister April to be its keeper shortly after she reported that Light of Diligence shone anew. The faithful are in her very capable hands. She has two more than most people have to work with, a consequence of living in the lowest rings of the lower strata, where the Ebon Mists can roll in like the tide and bring mutation and madness in their wake.

It is a mark of her ironclad faith in the Light of Wisdom that though her body is twisted away from the purity of human form, her mind is untainted by the Black Star Below. Though her extra arms may be unsettling to some, to you they were the arms that cradled you as an infant - every bit as familiar and comforting as the sermon she now gives to the faithful. A sermon you first heard before your mind could shape thoughts into words and understand the meaning that she seeks to impart to her flock that has grown from an empty prayer hall, to a scattered dozen, to now well over two hundred people.

The meaning of Spring.

The blossom of life born anew.

The diligence of the simple folk who tend to the fields.

The coming of the Light, which banishes the cold of winter and brings with it the renewing rain.

Sister April has never given the same sermon for the Feast of Diligence twice in your memory, though the passage from the Book of Stars remains the same as it always does. The familiarity of the passage is a comforting thing, and the tone in which she reads it is meditative in a manner that is almost hypnotic. It's so easy to become lost in her reading of the passage that when a firm hand clasps your shoulder, you nearly jump out of your seat in shock.

"Radford!" You try to keep your voice down, and not disturb your neighbors in the side pews. Back to reality, you don't need to look over to see who it is - you know the touch of your servitor almost as well as your own. You also have your suspicions as to why he'd be interrupting you in the middle of the prayer service. "You nearly scared my skirt off. Is it time?"

"Indeed, young mistress." The automaton named Radford confirms your suspicions. He quietly leads you from the pews, towards the back rooms of the shrine where your quarters and the training hall can be found. "Diligence is ready to judge your growth for this year. May I ask which sword-form you intend to demonstrate to him?"

Right. Radford is many things, but a swordsman he is not. He would not have recognized your footwork.
>>
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>>5293064
>Limits

"The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves," you give the name of the form. It's more than a mouthful in the modern tongue. You prefer its name in the Machine Builders' tongue: Tarnach Moireal. Like most things that Diligence teaches you, the Machine Builders came up with the sword style you use. "Think he'll approve of that one? I've got it down pretty much pat."

"'Pretty much pat' generally doesn't mean mastery, young mistress." Radford's voice is rumbling and is as inhumanly deep as the voices of the Stars. "Diligence admires diligence above all else. If I thought I could convince you..."

"I'm not doing Two Shadows Dancing Over Water, Radford." You skip ahead of him and cross your arms infront of your chest, making a big X as you shake your head in an emphatic No. "That's booooooring! Besides, I'm sure Diligence would approve of the diligence I put in to learn the Tarnach Moireal so quickly!"

"If you say it, it must be so, young mistress." From Radford's tone of voice, you're pretty sure he doesn't believe that.

"Bah, whatever!" You roll your eyes, and then stop in the middle of the hallway that cuts through the living quarters of the shrine's rectory. Sticking your arms out to either side, you wiggle like a noodle in gesture for the golem's help. "Now, help me out of this stuffy get-up, will you?"

"Wait until you get to your quarters, young Mistress." Radford chides you. He CHIDES you!

It's not like your quarters are far away, but you're sick of the scratchy woolen fabric that's been draped over your skin. Besides, you have Sister April's permission and Diligence's approval to go clad in light in not only the rectory, but every part of the shrine besides the chapel proper. The automaton refuses to budge on this matter, and - taking one arm in each of his massive hands, he gently pushes you towards your room.

When you left Sister April's room at the age of five, you helped clear your new room out as best as you could - which really meant doing a little sweeping with a broom meant for an adult while Radford did all the heavy lifting. It used to have enough bunks to cram six people inside of it, kind of like potting meat. Now, the three bunks are one, with the lower bed converted into a comfy couch to curl up on with a book or the rare comic. A large armoire with your ceremonial outfits - and a number of day to day clothes you refuse to wear - sits beside the window, which looks out onto the forest. Next to your bed is your desk, with tomes you dread to open resting upon it.

"Alright, will you help me out of this now?" you ask Radford, once again stretching your arms out in askance for his assistance. This time, in front of a mirror. You'd shuck the outfit off yourself, if it wasn't the sort that needed help getting in and out of it. "My back's beginning to itch..."

"Very well, young mistress," Radford rumbles in amusement.

>Limit
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>>5293065

Watching him undress you in the mirror, you're reminded of how very uncanny Radford is. Supposedly, he was designed to resemble the men of the Machine Builders, but he does not look like any man that you've seen before. He certainly does not look to be made of steel, though the golem-craft of the Stars apparently uses flesh as well as metal, so that is not so strange. For every attention to the details that separate men and women, such as the Adam's apple and that weird bulge in his pants that Sister April promises to tell you about when you're older, there are design choices that are just strange.

His shoulders are almost comically wide.

His chest is too small for someone of his impressive stature.

The joints of his legs and his hips are connected all wrong, causing his feet to make a V instead of sitting parallel to one another.

Strangest of all, he has dark fur covering the lower half of his face. Fur! On his face! It's so weird...

While you are contemplating just how Radford has fur on his face and why Diligence would design him in such a strange manner, he dutifully helps you out of your Shrine Maiden clothes. An elaborate white and blue set of robes with flowing sleeves and fasteners on the back, removing the stiff and scratchy fabric reveals you to be the beanpole that you are.

Thin and fair-haired, with skin like creamed buttermilk, you're long and lanky for your age. Already over 150cm tall, you have to wonder when you'll start growing horizontally as much as you've been growing vertically. If you have three more years of growth, just how tall are you going to get? Your hair reaches all the way down to your calves, and if you didn't have Radford to provide expert assistance with it, it would quickly devolve into a tangled mess.

As Radford folds your robes and unmentionables with expert precision, you stretch yourself out infront of the mirror. First your stretch your arms, and then you stretch your legs - raising one all the way up above your head in a standing split, before lowering it back down and doing the same with the other. Then you lean down to one foot, and then the other, going through a full calisthenics routine and enjoying the feeling of your muscles loosening up.

Of course, all any peeping Tom would see if they tried catching a glimpse of something special is a ray of light blocking their view, proving your purity.

"It feels so good to be out of that [quack] thing," you mumble. When a certain word slips from your lips as a quack, you slap your hand over your mouth. Radford lets out a soft chuckle.

He then tells you where you need to go, to meet your Patron's judgment.
>The Catacombs. Deep beneath the islet's surface, in the oldest part of the Shrine.
>The Bell Tower. The highest room there is closest to His Light.
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>The Dojo. Really, where else would your sword-forms be tested?
>>
>>5293068
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Bell Tower. The highest room there is closest to His Light.
>>
>>5293068
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Bell Tower. The highest room there is closest to His Light.
>>
>>5293068
>The Bell Tower. The highest room there is closest to His Light.
>>
>>5293068
>>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Rectory Courtyard. Your test will take place beneath the sky, for all the Stars to see.
>>
>>5293068
>The Dojo. Really, where else would your sword-forms be tested?
>>
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The rectory courtyard sits behind the shrine's chapel proper, in the shadow of the Bell Tower. The Light of Diligence shines from the summit of the spire, where your Patron's body rests. A marvel left by the Machine Builders to safeguard the next age of humanity, the nature of His construction is far beyond your comprehension. Though even those who consider themselves experts upon the Stellar Machinery will readily admit that they do not understand the inner workings of these ancient wonders, only what they do for the world.

You would best liken His body to the hole for a button on one of your dresses, imposed upon the fabric of the world instead of the wool of your dress. Deliberately cut by an expert seamstress, and then reinforced on every side with further wrappings of that same thread to give him form and safeguard against an accidental tear. Instead of a button pushing through from the other side, a glorious and golden light that cleanses impurities and burns away rotten things.

You spent your earliest months bathing in His Light, before Sister April answered his call.

Perhaps that is why your fair and creamy skin is without blemish or flaw, why you never seem to tan all that darkly, and why your body is free from even the simple vestiges of mutation that even children of the upper strata would show. It feels appropriate, somehow, that the Star who has given you everything you have was also responsible for your fairy-like good looks, even if it was not intentional on his part. All the more reason for you to do your best on your sword forms today, to show that you're ready to take the next step in becoming the ideal Shrine Maiden.

You enter the courtyard clad in light. Not a single scratchy stitch covers your body, leaving you exposed to the gentle kiss of the spring's breeze. Up above, the Second Sun has passed its zenith for today, drowning the light of the Ten-Thousand Brother Stars with the almost oppressive glory of His Light. At the top of the Shrine's Spire, you can see the Light of Diligence shining upon you, just as it had during today's ceremonies.

Beneath your bare feet, you feel the cool touch of polished stone, still thick with winter's chill despite the Sun shining down upon them. The sound of running water reminds you of how much progress has been made in restoring this courtyard.

Before you could walk, this place was overgrown with vines and wild flowers, but Radford's diligence has tamed it. The flowers have been trimmed back and planted in appropriate places, and the pavestones have been cleared of moss and debris. The fountains at the courtyard's corners are clear of algae, the water as drinkable as what is pumped through the copper pipes in the walls. The vines are gone save for where they make for tasteful decorations upon the pillars that support the roof over the perimeter walkway, where doors lead to more dormitories.

A relic from when this Shrine was a proper Convent.

>Limit
>>
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>>5293986

"Light of Diligence and Noon-Day Star who presides over the labors of man, I answer your call." In a practiced motion, you hold out the scabbards of Metron and Nomos in one hand. That hand is just barely large enough to hold both scabbards at once; you may be tall for your age, but you still have some growing to do. Normally, you would not use such formal language, nor the tongue of the Machine Builders, but today is a special circumstance. "I come clad in light to receive Your judgment, that the fruits of my own diligence may be found to please You, and that I maybe be found ready for the next step of my training."

[My child, I witness your answer to my call.]

If Radford's voice is unnaturally deep and gravelly, hitting low notes more appropriate for a Sousaphone than a singer, Diligence's voice is the rumbling of thunder and the sound of earth sliding down from the mountain tops. Deep as the ocean and powerful as a bolt of lightning, you would be surprised if the faithful in the chapel did not hear it. Few outside of the Church of Holy Wisdom have an opportunity to hear the speech of the Stars, and given that he has responded in the tongue of the Machine Builders, you wonder what they might make of the sudden sound.

[I see the splendid blossoms of the springtime of your youth.] The Light of Diligence shines upon you with such intensity that any who would try to behold your naked figure would be blinded by the light reflected off of the sheen of your creamy, princess-like skin. [So too do I see that you remain hale and hearty in body and mind. But above all else, it is your DILIGENCE that shall determine if you are ready to take your next step. What have you to show me, my precious child, that proves you understand the value of hard work and determination?]

"With your permission, I would show you the results of my great effort," you say. In a single fluid motion, you draw Metron and Nomos from their scabbards, allowing the wooden sheathes to dissipate into the ether. With a blade in each hand, you fall into a deep stance, one blade raised high to block a blow from above, the other held infront of you, ready to take to the offensive. "I have mastered The Tarn Dragon's Heads Argue Among Themselves."

Silence hangs in the air as you wait for permission to begin.

For a moment, you think that Hadford might have been right. Perhaps you should have chosen a simpler sword form, one that you've practiced ten thousand times instead of a mere thousand.

[It pleases me to see you reaching for the heavens, my precious child.] Diligence's voice rumbles through the courtyard. [Show me what you are capable of.]

>Good break point as we approach the limit
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>>5293988

You take a deep breath in, hold it for five seconds, and then slowly release it. This serves two purposes: to help calm your nerves, and to help empty your mind of an extraneous thoughts that would get in the way of your performance. You used the footwork of this form for your ceremonial dance during the rite of First Tilling this year, but the footwork is only half of it - and the simplest part to boot. Overthinking how your blades need to move will be the downfall of your performance, so you force every single thought but the feeling of Metron and Nomos in your hand over a handful of seconds that feels like a handful of hours.

Then, in a burst of motion, you begin.

A form is little different than a choreographed dance, when all is said and done. Unlike the dance, however, rather than being something done for the artistry alone, every motion is meant to teach you something that you can later apply to the spars in which you would truly learn how to fight. Each stroke is something to be practiced a thousand times at least, until you understand how it is that you're supposed to move.

When you were first starting out, you thought that clean and crisp motions were the best way to perform your sword-forms, but you've long since learned how wrong that was. While it might be visually impressive to see, and such stilted movements are helpful in learning to control the blade, that is not true master of the lessons the forms teach you. Rather, when you can move from blow to block to parry and back to blow again in a seamless and fluid dance where every move is none-the-less distinct from one another without being jittery, that is a sign that you've mastered it.

Pauses between moves are openings for the enemies you envision in your mind's eye to attack you.

So you simply do not pause.

The lesson imparted by the Tarnach Moireal could just as easily be taught by rubbing your belly and patting yourself on the head at the same time. The motions it wants you to learn amount to getting your right and your left hands to cleanly do separate things, to move in different ways during a fight. Of the forms you know, it's the most complex... and that's why you spent the most time mastering it out of all of them. Because if you can perform that form perfectly, then every other will come easily.

In the end, you get through it as easily as you got through the Rite of First Tilling, with not so much as a single hair falling out of place.

Again, silence hangs in the air for a few minutes, before Diligence breaks it.

[You have done well, my child.] The Star's voice rumbles. [Retire to your quarters and pack your things. Arrangements have been made, for your departure to the Astral Academy...]

>Limits...
>>
>>5293991
But how will you be getting there, anyways?
>You'll be taking the public airship, with pilgrims from the Faithful.
>Diligence has made an air-skiff has been made, for Radford to sail you to the Island.
>The Pontiff's daughter is also going. Diligence pulled some strings, so you'll be flying with her.
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...

Regardless of your choice of transportation, roll 1d100. Due to Fortunate, the better roll of the first two will be chosen.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d100)

>>5293992
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
Rolled 87 (1d100)

>>5293992
>>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
Rolled 38 (1d100)

>>5293992
>Diligence has made an air-skiff has been made, for Radford to sail you to the Island.
>>
Rolled 70 (1d100)

>>5293992
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
Definitely the coolest method
>>
Rolled 44 (1d100)

>>5293992
>>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d100)

>>5293992
>>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
>>5293992
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
Sure is nice that we're fortunate, since we keep sucking on our first rolls
>>
>>5293992
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
>>5293992
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
Sounds pretty cool so gonna go with this.
>>
Rolled 69 (1d100)

>>5293992
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
>>5294101
kek. would be nice if we have lewd crits
>>
Rolled 95 (1d100)

>>5293992
>>You'll be taking the public airship, with pilgrims from the Faithful.
>>
Rolled 46 (1d100)

>>5293992
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
>>
Rolled 44 (1d100)

>>5293992
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
>>
>>5293992
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
Let's go into thr Not!Warp.
>>
Rolled 93 (1d100)

>>5293992
>One of the faithful have a son attending as well, and volunteered to take you with them.
>>
>You do something idk lmao
>>
>He will show you the means to enter the Ways. Use your Kaleidoscope Eyes to copy this ability, and follow the ancient paths on foot...
>>
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By the next morning, all of the possessions you intend to bring to the Astral Academy have been packed away into a number of bags for Radford to shepherd upon a disc-shaped conjuring. Five fairly large bags in total, though most of them contain clothes that you probably won't spend much time wearing. Going clad in light brings you closest to the Light of the Stars, so aside from ceremonial activities requiring one of the uniforms that has been tailored for you, you shouldn't be required to wear any of them. It is, after all, one of the highest expressions of one's faith in Holy Wisdom and the Ten Thousand Stars, that all you need to maintain your dignity is the protection of their light.

Why is Radford looking at you like he knows exactly what you're thinking, and doesn't approve?

No, that can't be it. He must be worried about something else - after all, worrying about you is the job that he's programmed to do!

"What's wrong, Radford?" You look up at the human-shaped golem with bright blue eyes and a puppy dog expression. He knows the face you're making, and you know that he can't say 'no' to that expression. You're quite the devious girl, aren't you? "We tripled everything while we were packing up! We should be good to go meet Mr. Dove, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?"

"I am fairly confident you're missing something rather important, young mistress." Radford's face is caught somewhere between amusement and irritation beneath that thick fuzzy fur on his cheeks.

"Huh? I've got my backpack here with the stuff for the trip..." You twirl around on the heel of your foot, showing off the red leather bag that rests on your shoulders. It's packed full of everything that you'd need for the trip to the Academy - books, hygiene articles and cosmetics, the works. It took a bit of work with some of the straps on the sides, but you even managed to attach your swords to it. "Metron and Nomos are strapped in there, see? I didn't forget to put my Lapis on this morning aaaaaaaaaand I'm wearing my stellary too! That's everything you told me I needed."

"I believe I also told you to put on some clothes, young mistress." The golem gives you an affectionate poke on the head, pushing you softly back towards your armoire. "We're not leaving until you've done so."

"Oh, Radford..." You give him a gentle chiding, in a tone that you picked up from Sister April. You also picked up the way you clasp your hands as though in prayer from her, and you do your best to imitate the serene expression of a holy woman that she makes when giving a lecture on why your actions disappoint the Stars Above. "A pure and holy shrine maiden's modesty need not even the roughest cloth to be preserved, for she may walk clad in the Light of Wisdom and the Stars with all the dignity of the highest princess in the land..."

>Approaching the Limit
>>
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>>5295201

You get a flick on the forehead for quoting scripture out of context. "Maybe someday you'll be that pure and holy, young mistress. For now, I've laid out a number of outfits for you to choose from."

"Heeeeeeeeeey!" You rub your forehead where Radford flicked you, glowering at the golem butler. He has on the expression he gets when you know he won't budge on something, so you decide to give up for now. Maybe if Sister April were here, she'd let you go about clad in light - which is far more comfortable than scratchy woolens, thank you! - but even she only lets you go about like that freely in the rectory. Which hasn't stopped you from sneaking out, but... "Fiiiiiiiiiine, I'll put something on..."

In the end, you manage to get away with something acceptable.

The set of woolen underwear that came with each of the outfits that had been laid out gets quietly snuck into your backpack alongside the outfits that clung too tightly to your body for your tastes. Why would anyone wear anything that touched more of their skin than absolutely necessary, anyways? That's just a good way to get a case of the itches. Socks are mostly alright, because going barefoot along the dirt roads is icky, and so is wearing shoes without socks.

In the end, you end up in a loose white coat-dress that ought to be plenty warm enough for you to wear in the chilly air that sits between the islands of the upper and middle strata. It reached down your thighs to rest just above your knees, so a heavy breeze shouldn't end up revealing anything important to anyone. Which is probably especially important to the sensibilities which Radford has been programmed for, because...

"Just wearing the coat, young mistress?" Radford gives you a suspicious look as you sling your backpack over your shoulders and adjust it to make sure it's resting straight. "You may want to consider wearing something underneath it. I'm told that that once you get away from the island, the air gets quite chilly."

"I'll be fine," you brush off the concern. You need to put your foot down there, as you are not allowing yourself to be talked into subjecting yourself to the hell of itchiness that the other outfits would have been. Radford can be horrifyingly persuasive at times, but fortunately he doesn't press the issue. You bet the big blue puppy-dog eyes helped. "Can we go meet Mr. Dove now? I want to see what sort of man of the faithful is willing to lend a space upon his airship to a humble shrine maiden such as myself."

"The Church has many friends, young mistress," Radford says. With a snap of his fingers, the disc holding all of your bags hums to life, and begins to follow him around. "When one of the Stars themselves makes a request, I imagine anyone who has the means to fulfill it would volunteer..."

>Limits
>>
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>>5295203

As it turns out, the sort of man who offered you a space aboard his airship is very short. You can't tell if he's just that short naturally, or if he's supernaturally short due to exposure to the Mists of Mutation - and frankly, it would be rude to ask. Blonde hair slowly turning to silver reaches down to his shoulders, as is the fashion for men in the cities, and he wears a richly purple tophat that matches his suit. For his frame, his chest is even more impressive than Sister April, who you've quietly noticed is a few sizes bigger than most. A pair of dark glasses hide his bright blue eyes, and but for a few wrinkles along his brow, you would say he has a boyish face.

A woman you can only presume to be his wife stands next to him, towering over the man by a good three and a half feet. Frankly, she's as tall as he is short, with a more slender build for her frame than that of her husband. Curls of candy-pink hair flow down to her waist, and her features are soft and gentle as a pillow. She wears a simple, but finely cut dress of navy blue silk upon which is stitched a rather famous pattern that dates all the way to the Age of the Machine Builders, depicting a starry night.

Lastly, a young girl - or perhaps young boy - is hiding behind her mother's skirt, peeking out nervously with emerald green eyes that match her mother's.

"Childe Symphonia, I presume?" The man reaches out for a handshake, which you graciously accept. For a man of his stature, he has a strong and reassuring grip. With the well practiced smile of a man used to charming his way through a room, he gives you his own name. "Ivor E. Dove, at your service. The lovely woman to my right is my dear wife, Cher E. Dove, and... come out, now, Bear! No need to hide, son. This girl is the shrine maiden we came out all this way to see perform the First Tilling for Diligence Day."

"It was a lovely performance, by the by," Cher says, reaching out to take your hand. Though her smile might look a bit vapid, her tone is sweet, cheerful, and - most importantly - genuine. "Ara, it's been a long while since I hung up my sword, but your footwork... that was an old form, wasn't it? Ah, but I couldn't tell, was that the Sgaillogh Dahmsha or..."

"The Tarnach Moireal." You puff up with pride at the looks that earns you.

"Ara, that's quite an advanced form for you age...!" Cher seems strangely excited by that.

"You hear that, Bear? She likes fencing too, so..." Ivor sighs when his son ducks back behind his mother. "My apologies, there may have been an ulterior motive to our acceptance of Lord Diligence's request. Bear is dreadfully shy, and we thought it might help him to be around another child around his age during the journey to the Astral Academy. Get him used to coming out of his shell... would you be willing to help him, Childe Symphonia?"
>>
>>5295207
Will you help their son come out of his shell?
>Smile evilly. You will drag the boy out of his shell kicking and screaming if you have to.
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>Smile deviously. For the right oil, of course. (You can write in specific requests from this wealthy merchant family)
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chosen to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
We must be very Diligent in helping him!
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile evilly. You will drag the boy out of his shell kicking and screaming if you have to.
Some time alone between the two of us is all we need.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chosen to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chosen to help those in need.
Onee-sama time
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
Always nice to have inflight entertainment.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>>5295528
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
Indeed
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295668
>>5295983
>>5296051
>>5296064
samefagging already?
>>
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>>5296067
i just learned about this quest. fuck you.
>>
>>5296067
My dude, the quest is than a week old. People can stumble in, especially after everything finally got settled with the deluge of builds at the start.
>>
>>5296077
A bunch of one-post IDs voting for same, under-supported option is pretty suspicious man
>>
>>5296067
My internet situation is fucked, so my ID changes frequently. Here are some of my other votes:
>>5293110
>>5291833
You are gonna see more 1 ID votes from me in the future too, I'm afraid. Can't speak for everyone else, of course, but hey.
>>
>>5296081
at least for me, parva has shown to have a rebel side to her, so it makes sense that she'd try to lightly prank the boy
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5296077
Yeah true to this, I waited until character creation was done until I joined in so I wouldn't be surprised if others are only joining in now.
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
>>5296081
No need for the tinfoil hat, Anon
>>
>>5295208
>Smile mysteriously. You have a few ideas already on how you can pran- can help him.
>>
>>5295208
>>Smile serenely. Of course, it is your holy duty as Diligence's chose to help those in need.
>>
Not going to be able to post tonight, but can I get two d100s? The next post was going to ask for them at the end, but since I can't post tonight I might as well end that post with something more concrete than what I initially had planned.

Note that the vote is now locked at "Smile serenely. Of course, it is your Holy Duty as Diligence's chose(n) to help those in need."
>>
Rolled 75 (1d100)

>>5296595
>>
Rolled 23 (1d100)

>>5296595
>>
Rolled 65 (1d100)

>>5296595
Best out of...?
>>
>>5296605
Best out of the 2, sorry. Really it was going to be "regardless of wat do, roll a d100". Now I get to incorporate why things are happening into the post, yey.
>>
Rolled 45 (1d100)

>>5296595
Doesn't count, but fuck it, rolling anyways
>>
>>5296609
Are we molesting and exposing ourself to the boy? Please say yes
>>
>>5296605
>can I get two d100s?
>>
Rolled 84 (1d100)

>>5297619
>>
>>5297791
so this is the kind of anons we have, huh
>>
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"I'd be happy to," you tell Ivor and Cher with a voice thick with serene sincerity.

There is no lie there, but you do need to hide the seed of suspicion. A serene smile that you diligently practiced a thousand times in the mirror crosses your face without quite reaching your eyes. You dip low in the curtsey that Radford drilled into you to the point of it being an automatic response when you need to put on the face of the young mistress. As far as ulterior motives go, the one the Doves presented is rather innocuous... but that is what they presented to you. If you wish to be a diligent girl, you should trust their stated motives - as is only courteous - but also look beneath the metaphorical carpet to verify them.

"That's wonderful!" Ivor says, giving your hand another firm shake before trying to guide you towards his son. Sadly, you and the lad are like loadstones of the same charge; where ever Ivor takes you, the boy is sure to dart away to the other side of his mother. Ivor sighs with almost exaggerated exasperation. "Son, come on out from behind your mother. No need to be shy!"

"Dun wanna..." the boy says. His voice is light and almost girlish, none of his father's contalto just yet.

Frankly, from the sound of things, you have a hard time believing he's your age. Then again, Diligence could only estimate, when you were left upon the altar...

"Beary, dear..." Cher tries to step out of the way, but it's clear that this is a dance that they've done a thousand times before. If the Dove Shipping Company wasn't the second largest freight enterprise in the World Reborn, having gotten there under Ivor's watchful eyes, you'd almost believe that there are no other motives hiding under the metaphorical carpet. Cher squats down, her dress brushing against the grass, and puts her hands on the boy's shoulders, looking him in the eyes. "Could you please step out and say hello to Childe Symphonia? For mama?"

"..." there's an almost audible silence as the two of them communicate wordlessly in ways only a mother and son can. After what feels like a minute, a weak word can be heard, in a tone that knows it's been defeated. "...kay."

Bear steps out from behind his mother, and for a moment your heart skips a beat from just how pretty he is. He shares his father's boyish face, if not yet his ample bosom, with his mother's pink hair cropped short as his father's. He wears a very warm looking outfit appropriate for air travel, though his shorts are fashionably short - as is the style for city boys. A stellary hangs around his neck, and he wears his own Lapis in his hair. While yours is a black musical note, his is a violet flower.

With one eye hiding behind his cherry-pink bangs, he glowers at you. It's not a look of hatred or contempt, but rather that of a loner being dragged out of his cave by his loved ones for some rare sunlight. You can tell how much he wants to shrink back to his room...

>Limit
>>
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>>5297848

Holy Wisdom High Above, the shrewdest businessman in the upper strata might not have any ulterior motive after all, beyond getting his son to socialize with someone. The boy looks about your age, even if he doesn't sound it, and that means he's just a year or two away from his chest budding and his balls dropping. Okay, that might be a line of thought inappropriate for a pure and diligent maiden such as yourself, but it boggles the mind that he's this shy at this age. He really does need your help...

Still, as jovial as the man has been, he's still Mr. Ivor E. Dove of the Dove Shipping Company.

Best to still keep one eye open.

"Hello," the boy mummers, barely audible, his eyes not meeting yours. "I'm Bear."

"Hello Bear," Playing at the perfectly innocent maiden who doesn't understand things as complicated as ulterior motives and politics, you cheerfully offer your hand to the heir of the second largest shipping company in the World Reborn as if he was any other child. This appears to have been the right move, as he stares at it in surprise, before giving you a hesitant handshake. "I'm Parva. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Yeah, well..." Bear snatches his hand away from you when he hears the tone you take - sweet and polite, the picture of perfect courtesy as you were raised to be. He glowers at you, this time with an irritation at you instead of the fact that he's not alone in his room. "I hear that all the time. Don't think I don't know that you only want to be friends because of Dad's money, lotsa girls try to-"

"Beary!" Cher looks horrified at the possibility of what her son was about to say. His father winces - oh, you think you found the second motive. They don't just want him to get out of his shell, they want him to meet a girl who doesn't care about his money. It's a good thing that you really don't. "Childe Symphonia is a Shrine Maiden..."

"Yeah, well..." Bear continues to glower. "Even churches need donations."

"I apologize on behalf of my son..." Ivor says, quickly trying to smooth things over with you - and Radford, who does not look amused by Bear's words. Ivor gives the boy a look that promises a very uncomfortable conversation. "Rest assured, I will be having words with him about this later..."

"Perhaps a few remedial lessons in etiquette might be in order." Radford rumbles. Ivor, Cher, and even Bear are all shocked at how deep the golem's voice is - the only thing they have to compare it to would be the voices of the Stars themselves. There is a powerful gravity to it, a reminder that he was created in the image of Diligence. "If you would like, I can arrange for them over the journey over. In fact, I may have to insist..."

"That will not be necessary."

>Approaching the limits.
>>
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>>5297849
You and Ivor are of like mind on the idea of remedial etiquette lessons, it seems - you both say the same thing at the same time, in the same tone. Your voice just happens to be an octave or so higher, and much more childish - a given, given your age. All eyes fall to you, as while it was expected from Ivor... well, most girls your age would probably be egging Radford on to punish the boy or demanding some recompense. You are not most girls, however - you are a pure and diligent shrine maiden, and your serenity will not be broken by mere words alone.

After all, if it did, then Radford and Diligence would have done a poor job in training you to become the young mistress.

"It saddens my heart that you have had such a hard time finding genuine friends among those whose greed blinds them to who you are, Bear," you say, borrowing the tone of voice Sister April uses during the confessionals. All it takes is a clasp of your hands and the raising of a close-eyed smile towards the light of the Second Sun for you to become the very image of a holy maiden. "I will pray to the Stars Above on your behalf, that one day you might find yourself among companions who care for you, and not your father's money. Mr. Dove, does your airship have a chapel aboard?"

Ivor coughs. "Ah, yes, as a matter of fact it does. You'll find my Fat Dove to be among the most well appointed ships in the sky, I'm sure. The chapel sits just below decks by the bow... and your quarters are right next to it, of course. Why don't I show you the way?"

"I would appreciate that, Mr. Dove, thank you." Before you go to board the ship, however, you turn to Bear with the same look of calm serenity, and extend a hand. "Would you care to join me in prayer, Bear? I believe it may do you some good..."

No longer hiding behind his mother's skirt, Bear squints at you in a way that leaves his mother appalled with his behavior. His answer comes somewhat suspicious: "Sure..."

===

Ivor E. Dove is no liar.

The Fat Dove might well be one of the most opulently appointed pleasure-craft to sail the skies, and it's name certainly isn't a lie. The profile of the airship certainly brings to mind a hefty bird whose wings struggle to keep it aloft, though as it leaves the island's makeshift-docks you find it certainly does not handle like one. The only thing that gives clue to the clip at which the ship sails the skies is the wind currents. Even buffered away by the magic that optimizes the vessel's profile, there's a heavy breeze that might catch one's cap if they're not careful.

Below decks, you find an interior to the vessel that is less a ship and more a mansion that flies, thanks to a scant few components that Ivor boasts about salvaging Machine Builder ruins in his adventurous youth. Though the mechanism is not fully understood even after a thousand years of research, the dilation of space allows for the ship to contain a home away from home for the head of the DSC.
>>
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>>5297850

The chapel you find yourself praying within is no less opulent, to the point where even a young mistress groomed to walk among the upper crust like yourself find it a bit distasteful. Though you will not say you live in humble poverty - for Diligence provides your every need, and a fair number of your wants - seeing a shrine so... sterile and gilded puts you off. White and gold with candles and incense, it has all the makings of a chapel, but it doesn't feel like it's been used as often as it's been cleaned.

That doesn't mean that you cannot pray within it, however.

In fact, you intend to put it through its paces during your flight.

Diligence guided your training in academics and Radford taught you courtly etiquette, but it was Sister April who helped you discover the deep prayer and the benefits it has for your mind and your body. A few things need to be set first, which Bear - still a bit skeptical - watches you prepare with great interest. The candles must be lit just so, a stick of incense must burn and fill the air of the shrine, and you must take to your knees before the prepared altar and clasp your hands together.

The final step, Sister April needed a music box for, but you do not. Your own magic is the invocation of the Holy Chorus, and you mastered attuning yourself to the Blessed Frequency around the same time you learned to walk. One hundred and eleven hertz, which opens the gate of dreams. You fill the room with this sweet white noise, and even Bear's jaw drops as the frequency envelops him.

This might be the closest he's ever come to true prayer.

You are an expert at praying. In your mind's eye, beyond the gate of dreams, you envision an image of Holy Wisdom - the blazing and glorious Second Sun whose light protects humanity from the horrors of the Black Star Below. You feed your everything to that image of Him. Your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes, your desires, your hatred and your love... and even a single, genuine prayer for boy who has sunken to his knees next to you, in awed imitation of your prayer. Everything is fed into the Light of Wisdom, and-

"Uh, Parva!" Bear's touch upon your shoulder snaps you from your prayer, back to reality. The expression on his face is positively delightful - reverence, awe, concern, and curiosity all blended into one. As well as a bit of sheepishness. "Mama just came by and said that dinner was about to be ready, uh, if you want some. And, uh... what was that? We came in here at noon, and then it's sudden seven and I feel like I just had a really good nap-"

"That was how everyone ought to pray," you tell him, a serene and devious smile gracing your lips. You give him an inviting look. "Would you like me to teach you how to pray properly? You've only scratched the surface..."

>Limits
>>
>>5297851
And so began your routine for the next two weeks, as the Fat Dove sailed across the sky to the Island of St. Sophia. You just needed to give Bear a little taste of what a real prayer felt like, and you had him hooked. Sadly, Radford forbade you from praying whilst clad in light as is your preference - some nonsense about girls needing to keep some secrets from boys. But it's not like he would see anything anyways, for you are a Shrine Maiden pure and diligent, and the world will protect your modesty even if you do not. For your body is inherently pure, not a vehicle for prurient interests.

Or so you would like to say.

You will admit, having a boy hanging onto your every word like Bear has been wonderful.

Especially since he's so pretty, with the sort of boyish good looks that would have girls swarming all over him even if his daddy wasn't one of the richest men in the World Reborn. Of course, you feed those thoughts to Wisdom during your prayers, as you seek to have His Light fill your mind and soul. It wouldn't do for you to just become another girl chasing him for shallow reasons like money and beauty.

Instead, the thing you enjoy the most out of everything is how diligent he has become. Prayer - true prayer, not merely losing yourself to your thoughts in a chapel - is a life changing experience. Once he reached the Gate of Dreams and pushed beyond its closed doors with the help of your Blessed Frequency, he seems much calmer and less misanthropic than he had been.

Though he still hides half his face behind his bangs! Come on, Bear, beauty like yours should be shown to the world! Then again, it does add a layer of mystery...

This routine continues without interruption until the ninth day of the voyage.

First, the ship suddenly jerks, knocking you out of your prayer and nearly tipping you over the pew in front of you. Bear is left sprawled about on the ground as well, slowly picking himself up as the ship stops rocking back and forth. Then, as soon as you get your bearings again, you hear a screeching and inhuman voice roar across the ship.

"Oh how sweet the maiden's kiss..." The voice drills into your head like an awl to your temples, spiteful and hateful and joyful and twisted beyond reason. A horrid mixture of machine and man, maddened by the darkness below. But how is it here in the upper strata? "Her lovely lips as red as blood, the blood I spilled that winsome morn' when I took your head in my hands and with great force I smashed it 'gainst the dull concrete and painted it a pretty pink, a pink like love and summer's rain, the tears of joy that sprung from my eyes when I saw the patterns of the gore and viscera upon our bed...!"
>>
>>5297854
A fog of the Black Mist has rolled in unexpectedly. What do you do?
>Run and hide. Mr. Dove's bodyguards will kill it.
>Pray with all your might for the protection of those who fight it off.
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis.
>Confront it with a prayer on your lips and a song in your heart.
>(Write in)
>>
>>5297855
>get naked
i hate to admit it, but this is the perfect excuse for prava to get rid of her clothes. after all, what better shield against the black mist we can get than the light of Diligence Himself?
>Confront it with a prayer on your lips and a song in your heart. and maybe try to retrieve metron and nomos, just in case.
>>
>>5297855
FUCK, I forgot:

Regardless of what you do, roll 1d100.
>>
Rolled 85 (1d100)

>>5297863
>>
Rolled 100 (1d100)

>>5297855
>Get naked
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis
>>
>>5297874
The answer folks, is to always fight naked.
>>
Rolled 61 (1d100)

>>5297874
Supporting
>>
>>5297855
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis.
>>
Rolled 52 (1d100)

>>5297855
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis.
>>
Rolled 98 (1d100)

>>5297874
Support.
>>
...so what are the stellary and the lapiz? What do they do?
>>
>>5297855
>>5297874
+1 To this, seems like fighting naked is the answer!
>>
>>5298087
Phone posting at the moment so please excuse the different ID.

A stellary is a symbol of faith for the Church of Holy Wisdom and the Ten Thousand Stars Above. It's something that the faithful generally wear about as a good luck charm and token of community, as well as out of reverence and respect to the Stars Above, similar to how a Christian might wear a crucifix.

Your [i]Lapis[/i] is the focus of your power as a Mahou Shoujo (specifically the focus, and not the source). Most people of the World Reborn create their Lapis upon being baptized in the Light of the Stars (a ceremony that typically occurs once a child is old enough that it's certain they will not die of sickness or mutation, around 7 years). Everyone has one, and thus the ability to perform some basic magic, though few have the potential to enter the ascended state of Mahou Shoujo and manifest a Barrier Jacket as you and Bear do. The ability also wanes with age - Ivor was a Mahou Shoujo, once, but he's too old to enter his ascension any longer.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d100)

>>5297855
>Get naked
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis
I doubt we’ll be naked for long
>>5298087
Not sure about the Stellary, but a Lapis is probably what allows us to use our powers/transform, with its shape denoting what magic one uses (so we know Bear uses plant magic)
>>
>>5298098
>>5298122
This is what I get for not checking for updates
>>
>>5297855
>Get naked
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis
https://youtu.be/UAMriLCnkvg

>>5298098
>The ability also wanes with age - Ivor was a Mahou Shoujo, once, but he's too old to enter his ascension any longer.
I was wondering if it was possible for males to use magic/become mahou shoujo, so I guess this confirms it. Given their appearance, and how weirded out everyone seems to be by Radford, are all/most males in this setting femboys?
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>>5298145
>are all/most males in this setting femboys?
looks like it. although i'd say that men are more like dickgirls instead of femboys, which brings some interesting cultural questions...
>2AMNY
>>
Rolled 63 (1d100)

>>5297874
>get naked
>Take up arms against this ill fortune, with your Lapis
>>
Rolled 37 (1d100)

>>5297874
the crit has spoken +1
>>
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>>5297874
parva's just gonna do this to her clothes
>>
Rolled 82 (1d100)

>>5297874
+1
>>
>>5298098
Confirming that his was me, no more phoneposting today.

>>5298145
>>5298164
Males having somewhat feminine skeletal structure alongside what we would consider to be secondary female sexual characteristics is the end result of the events of the the Fall of the Machine Builders and the emergence of the Black Sun Below. The mutation those events left within its wake left its mark on the human genome, though among the upper and middle strata things are relatively stable. Males and Females primarily identify members of the opposite sex by the breadth of their shoulders and the structure of their faces. Faces are more reclined towards the median as a whole, meaning everyone is a bit prettier on average, while males have what we would consider boyish looks and females have girlish looks (with a note that on the whole, things have slid towards being "softer").

Female skeletal structure has largely remained the same (less were on the front line) as in real life, while Males now share several structural traits with females. Most notably is probably the joint structure at key points, which to an extent reduces the athletic advantage males have over females. Only to a point, though, as while their joint structure has aligned itself to somewhere between modern Male and Female, they retain the muscle and bone density that modern men have.

Thus, in this Post-Apocalyptic semi-Feudal Neo-Theocratic mess of floating Island pseudo-states that is the World Reborn, females remain by and large primary caretakers while males remain by and large primary providers from a social standpoint. Expectations of this are less than they were 200 years ago, but more than they were 50 years ago.

There is also a cultural expectation that people with magical aptitude learn how to use it, typically as Mahou Shoujo (a pair of loan words from tongue that was antiquated when the Machine Builders fell). Most people can use a degree of magic in their day to day lives, but the ones who can become Mahou Shoujo stand at a small fraction of a percent of the population. Distribution of magic at this level is odd, as while the sexes are laaaaargely balanced within a rounding error, the distribution curves are inverted - females as a population are a bell curve centered on the median, while males as a population are concentrated towards the lower or upper ends of the power curve with very few in the middle.

Funnily, for "what do people consider masculine and feminine appearances", I remember a study that suggested that when estrogen levels were equal, women with larger boobs had higher testosterone levels.

Therefore, in the World Reborn, the standard of male beauty is that of what to us would be more or less a big titty toned tomboy with manly bits between his legs.

Svelte and girlish women are the standard of beauty for females, provided they have a good hip-shoulder ratio. A flat chest like Parva's is, in fact, a status symbol.

Hope to start update in 3hr
>>
>>5298599
i don't know how much time you have invested into making the world, or from how many other pieces of work you've stitched this together, but im impressed. it gives me hopes for the longevity of the quest
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>>5298599
Fascinating dive into the thoughtfully detailed world you've built as the setting for this story. Reading contextual tidbits like this makes me very excited to see where this quest will go. Props.
>>
>>5298606
>>5298632
You guys help me out by asking these sort of questions that make me sit down and write up the stuff that's in my head. If [you would like to know more] on anything you see, don't hesitate to ask!
>>
>>5298681
got another question
are the lapises replaceable? can you buy one a more fashionable one at a boutique store, or are you stuck with your only one until you lose your powers?
>>
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"Bear..." Your eyes quickly run over the figure of the pink-haired boy brushing off his baggy jeans on the other side of the pew. He has a pretty face and he carries the Lapis in his hair confidently... but so does every boy and girl who can shoot a ray of light through a tin can. A cantrip like that can kill rats and coyotes, but it won't do much at all against even the merest wisp of the Black Mist. If he got into the Astral Academy, he has the potential to ascend, but that doesn't mean that he can do anything with it. "How much can you do with your Lapis? Can you ascend?"

If he can't ascend, you'll have him stay here and chant his prayers as loudly as he can. Wisdom rewards the faithful, and whoever constructed and consecrated the Fat Dove's chapel knew the esotery of His grand designs. It pains you that a true Holy Ground like this had gone without use for so long. The walls, the pews, the altar, it is all arranged to resonate and amplify the Blessed Frequency of 111 hertz within its border, easing the uninitiated into the realms of true prayer and deepening its benefits for the initiated.

Further, the Blessed Frequency is anathema to all creations of the Black Star Below. Should the Black Mists seep into the chapel, its tendrils can be dispersed with a single spoken word.

If Bear can ascend, however, you can take him with you.

Though it might be the safest place aboard the Fat Dove right now, you have no intention of sitting idly by in the chapel and hiding behind Mr. Dove's money. He may have a number of retired Mahou Shoujo on his payroll, any one of which will be able to uncover the source of the Black Mist and clear it away given enough time... but you are a pure and diligent maiden. One who can resonate with the Blessed Frequency herself. To sit back and do nothing would be the same as smearing mud across the altar of the Astral Shrine that you have called home for as long as you can remember.

"Yeah, mama taught me," Bear says. The one eye that peaks out from behind his short-cropped bangs looks nervously at the chapel doors. Tendrils of the Black Mist worm their through the gaps in the frame, only to be dispersed as they are enveloped by even the weakest echoes of the Blessed Frequency. He stares at you in disbelief as you pick up Metron and Nomos from their place beside the altar. "Wait a minute, wait a minute! You're not planning to go out there, are you? There's a real Mahou Shoujo aboard the ship, the guards have procedures for what happens if we run into the Black Mist. Our job is to wait for help to get here, not to play hero!"

"Where do you think this ship is heading, Bear?" you ask. Another shock hits the boat, and while Bear stumbles, you don't fall. A serene smile crosses your face as your habit billows upon the draft. "As long as we don't get in the way... as long as we help, then this will be good for our education, don't you think...?"

>Limits...
>>
>>5298896
You don't have to listen for his answer.

You spent the past nine days deep in prayer with him, after all. While you won't pretend to know everything that makes Bear tick at this point - and he definitely can still surprise you, sometimes - you have a pretty good idea on how to press his buttons and get him to do what you. You hope the smile on your face isn't too smug, as you watch his expressions shift into wonderful, confused things as he struggles to find an answer. Thank you, Holy Wisdom, for bringing this opportunity to see such a pretty boy dancing so adorably on the palm of your hand, unaware of the strings that guide his actions.

Okay, enough of indulging in all of those funny emotions that well up in your stomach when you indulge in your stranger habits, it's time for you to give him that final push over the edge. You turn away from him, and with a single fluid motion you free your Lapis from its place in your hair and clasp it against your chest.

Then, you intone the first two lines of your ascension. You do not know the others - you cannot say if there truly are any further lines. For some, that short stanza is all there is to it. For others, they may never learn the full incantation in their lifetime.

In any case, this one is yours.

The ephemeral song dances within my heart.
Its words written in the Light of the Stars.

You hold back the tide of magic that wants to surge through your Lapis, delaying your transformation and causing the musical note in your hand to glow brighter and brighter as it tries to unleash the power you have invoked. Bear makes a sudden choking noise, sputtering in wordless disbelief as you step right over the edge to go on without him. The boy might be a bit of a gloomy loner around new people, but that just means he hates behind left behind by people he knows and likes even more. You can feel the pressure begin to build within your chest, for you can only hold this back for a few moments.

But he blinks first.

"Parva, you... okay, fine!" Unlike you, Bear inelegantly pulls the violet from his hair and intones his own verse. Like you, he knows the first two lines from his ascension.

The roots of the garden spread far and wide,
And reach deep into the life-giving Earth.

As the two of you sing your intonations, your Lapis respond. The pressure from within your chest as you held back the energy it sought to draw from within you bursts out in a wild surge that leaves your Lapis hot to the touch. Almost hot enough to leave behind a nasty burn upon your hand. Diligence would have scolded you if you he saw you doing that. The baptized can receive a new Lapis if theirs breaks, but there's always a nasty penance involved if it did not break for good reason...

>Limits
>>
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>>5298897
Of course, you think it was a good reason.

Had you not made a dramatic showing that you were just about to leave him behind, Bear would almost certainly have been content with waiting in the chapel until this all blew over. While there's no shame in following procedures like that, such behavior is unfitting of a future Mahou Shoujo, especially one on their way to the Astral Academy when it happened. You couldn't have that, could you?

But now, you've both intoned your ascensions, which means there's only one step left in your transformation sequence. Your habit has already melted away into the Lapis storage, your body glows with the Light of Diligence, and you see something nice in the corner of your eyes. It's a little small for now, but you've read that such things tend to grow. But those are thoughts for later. With your voice as one with Bear's, you both say the final words:

"Luminous Arcane Power Integration System, set up!"

=====

Spirit Resonance confirmed... arcane lock canceled.
Welcome, Parva Symphonia.

Caution: Power Fluctuation in secondary subsystems.
Caution: Fragmentation detected in configuration documents.
Caution: Fragmentation detected in system controls.
Performing Factory Reset...100%
Checking system performance...100%

Performance Nominal, All Systems Green.

Would you like to load one of your preset configurations?
Loading Clad_In_Light_01...
Clad_In_Light_01 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_02...
Clad_In_Light_02 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_03...
Clad_In_Light_03 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_04...
Clad_In_Light_04 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_05...
Clad_In_Light_05 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_06...
Clad_In_Light_06 is forbidden for use by system controls
Loading Clad_In_Light_07...
Error reading system control file for Clad_In_Light_07.
Reset system controls for Clad_In_Light_07?...Yes
Clad_In_Light_07 has been removed from the system controls list

Set Up: Holy Wisdom who shines above, deliver us from from the Black Star Below

=====

Your ascension complete, a radiant smile crosses your face as you feel the air's kiss upon your fair and flawless skin. It seems that little power surge you accidentally caused disabled some of the controls which Sister April had requested the Star of Diligence put upon your Lapis. This is a very dangerous and forbidden form, after all - the amount of power that a youthful picture of feminine beauty (such as yourself) can wield with it is untold. Of course, you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and the Light of Diligence thoroughly protects your modesty.

"Wha-!" A red faced Bear stares at you. He doesn't see anything important - your body is inherently pure, after all! - but it's still a lot more of you than he's seen before. "Where's your Barrier Jacket!?"
>>
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>>5298899
You clasp your hands together in prayer, wearing a smile that perhaps does not belong upon the face of a diligent and pure maiden such as yourself. Alas, it cannot be helped that one of your more glutinous faces pokes out its ugly head, his reaction is just too delicious and it makes you want to play with him more. It's just cute that he doesn't know where to look. Could it be that he's doing what Sister April warned you that men were wont to do, and is sullying your light-clad body with impure, prurient thoughts?

Oh my, you see a pleasant sight indeed, evidencing quite a bit of growth. How lovely~

It takes every ounce of your self control to avoid breaking out into laughter at his reaction. You have work to do. Putting on a more serious face, you explain things to him.

"I am a holy maiden, diligent and pure." You look up at the icons above the altar, where the likeness of the stars hang from thin strings upon the ceiling. "The Light of the Stars Above is the only protection that I need from a mere wisp of the Black Mists. My faith is my armor, my purity is my shield... and frankly, we have not the time to discuss your objections to how I manifest my barrier jacket. We must be off..."

>...to the upper decks, to join the fight against any boarders.
>...to the lower decks, to check for any intruders that might have slipped past.
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
>...to the hold, to see if something or someone stowed away.

Regardless of which choice you make, roll 1d20.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>5298901
>>...to the upper decks, to join the fight against any boarders.

You know, I am pleasantly surprised at how much effort was put into what I first assumed was a shitpost quest.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
It might not be that flashy, but people need to be protected and the older magical girls can handle whatever problem is upstairs

>Could it be that he's doing what Sister April warned you that men were wont to do, and is sullying your light-clad body with impure, prurient thoughts?
>Oh my, you see a pleasant sight indeed, evidencing quite a bit of growth. How lovely~
Welp, parva definitely takes after Diligence in this matter

>4NNA4
>>
Rolled 12 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
This seems prudent. Though with our luck probably no one will get there in the first place.
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
>>
Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the upper decks, to join the fight against any boarders.
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5298901
>>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
>>
Rolled 16 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
I wonder what we accidentally turned off with our little stunt. Also interesting how technological the ascension sequence was
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Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
>>
>>5299137
Hopefully nothing important. From the sound of it, the control file got corrupted, so its just a matter of getting a new file from sister april or diligence. The worrying thing is that the lapis had to factory reset itself; thats not good. At the very least it means the tutorial pop ups might appear again, but at worst everything got deconfigured and we'll have to do it on the go.
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the upper decks, to join the fight against any boarders.
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!
>>
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>>5298897
>Thank you, Holy Wisdom, for bringing this opportunity to see such a pretty boy dancing so adorably on the palm of your hand, unaware of the strings that guide his actions.

Looks like parva's liking being a manipulator a bit too much. wouldn't be surprised if she ends up like jessie
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the lower decks, to check for any intruders that might have slipped past.
I quite liked the description and aesthetics for the magical girl transformations
>>
>>5299318
that actually reminded me a bit of 40K and the techpriests. they know that they're dealing with technology but lost the way to directly mingle with it, so they default to "rituals" passed on from generation to generation
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>5298901
>>...to the upper decks, to join the fight against any boarders.
>>
Rolled 17 (1d20)

>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.
>>
>>5298901
>...to the living quarters, to secure those who are not armed.

>>5299305
Like who now?
>>
>>5299469
jessie from the ff7 remake. in the game she basically flirts with the main character all the time just because she can. And after reading what parva thinks about bear, i can see her going the same route; teasing, flirting and manipulating her way around, not for any ulterior motive whatsoever but just because its fun to her
>>
>>5299491
>Implying our most holy lady Parva would be anything other the the top exemple of saintly grace and purity
Someone needs etiquette lessons.
>>
>>5299518
Still, her standard for purity was set by a pervy god AI thing, so she definitely has some inherent lewdness waiting to be set loose.
>>
>>5299518
>implying she can't do both
>>
>>5299137
>>5299187
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wow, in my insomnia I appear to have skipped over the section of the transformation sequence that would have clarified a lot... and failed to change a few words I had thought I had changed. This was not a Factory Reset, but a Defragmentation - with the control file that locked you out of Clad_In_Light_07 being damaged beyond recovery. You have currently loaded the Barrier Jacket configuration for Clad_In_Light_07, which makes your body glow so bright that you might as well be a Barbie Doll below the neck. Think the glowing form most magical girls take when their clothes explode during their transformation sequence.

For some reason, Sister April disabled all of the configurations Parva had set up to clad herself in the Light of Diligence with the parental controls. There's a bit of a disagreement there, because Sister April believes a proper Barrier Jacket is in order, while Parva believes that the Light of Diligence is the only protection that a holy maiden as pure and diligent as she is needs, even from the lustful gazes of men (for their is nothing sexual about her body, which is the very IMAGE of purity). This definitely is NOT an excuse Parva gives to paint a veneer of faith and piety over the fact that she's a nudist.

>>5299373
You're not wrong in the sense that certain technologies are definitely heavily involved in the religion of the Church of Holy Wisdom and His Ten Thousand Brother Stars - after all, Parva has seen Diligence's body; it is an ancient wonder from the age of the Machine Builders. The Lapis are designed and distributed by the Stars as part of one's baptism; you cannot be baptized at a normal church, your family must make pilgrimage to an Astral Shrine. Note that, similar to Medieval Europe, the connotations of the word "Pilgrimage" is effectively "an extended vacation to visit holy lands". So it's not a burden on the family, but rather a time of relaxation and celebration - especially as the Church holds employers and Lords accountable for allowing even the lowliest of their workers the opportunity to go on Pilgrimage without reprisal. Likewise, the Church is expected to provide hospitality for pilgrims who request it.

>>5299305
>>5299491
>>5299518
>>5299578
>>5299624
I will say this much: Parva is definitely a devious girl...

I'll be starting the update in about an hour, as an FYI.
>>
Roll Magic 1d20+MAG+(LCK/2) vs. DC25 to create a path through the whisp of the Black Mist!
The Black Mist's weakness to the Blessed Frequency reduces the DC to 20!
8+7+6 = 21. One Degree of Success!
Fortunate has banked two 20s from the rolls that went unused.

"Fine," Bear huffs as he draws the baton strapped to his hip. A blue rose blooms on one end, while a thorny vine extends like a tether or the lash of a whip from the other side. From beneath his white hood, he looks to the door, and then to you with some concern. He's right to be concerned: tendrils of black damnation writhe behind the door, breaking apart as they enter. "I hope you have a plan, though. Rosenpeitsche will come in handy if we need to move something out of the way, but I don't think it can do much against the Black Mist. What's keeping it out of here, anyways? It can't just be faith, can it...?"

You clasp your hands together in prayer in front of your chest, and give him a smile full of serenity. They draw his eyes to your svelte and maidenly bosom, from which he swiftly looks away with a cherry red blush lighting up his pretty face.

"Our prayers, of course." You tell him nothing but the truth.

"Parva, please don't joke around right now..." Bear pinches his nose in exasperation.

"I'm not," you insist. He stares at you in disbelief, so you decide that the best way to do things would be to show him what you mean. Your Transformation feels better than ever today - probably because you are clad in light instead of horrid, scratching clothes. The Blessed Frequency rises from your heart and fills the room with a clean white noise that scours the nooks and the crannies of any errant tendrils of the Black Mist. "This chapel is a true Holy Ground. So if you want to follow procedure and wait for someone to rescue you, just duck behind a pew and recite Wisdom's prayer like your life depends on it. The chapel will resonate with your words at the Blessed Frequency, and shake the Black Mist apart."

"You already told me that wouldn't be becoming of a Mahou Shoujo," Bear says. With a puff of determination to his small and boyish chest, he steps past you and grabs the handle on the door. "Like heck am I staying behind. At best, you'll never let me hear the end of it."

"Oh, I wouldn't do thaaaaaaaat~" you tease. Oh dear, a devious smile has crossed your face, hasn't it? You should stop that. You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and such behavior is unbecoming of you. But look how manly he's acting with just the teensy-tiniest bit of needling, he's so fun to play with! Maybe if he does well, you'll give him a special reward... and bless his weapon with your anointing oils. "You have to admit, though... you'd make for an awfully cute damsel in distress!"

"Ack-!" Bear makes a funny sound as he sputters in surprise. "Come on, didn't you just say that we must away...?"
>>
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>>5300005
You did - and you do. When Bear throws the door open, you see the once pristine hall covered with a smoking black sludge that roils with sickening and corruptive energies. The sludge flows through the air like stains of viscous black ink smearing a leaf of paper, moving in patterns of fractal geometries that hurt the eyes to look at. This is the Black Mist that brings with it damnation and mutation, the outer skin of the Black Star Below that has sloughed off the first Sun's surface and seeks to subsumes the souls of mankind. Not only is this the Black Mist, but it runs heavy and thick, and the voices of the souls that it has stolen crackle and screech their mad iambic meter that run on and on into insanity.

"How sweet the flesh of children dear," the voices curdle like electrified milk, crackling and popping like a broken loudspeaker. "Who come to play among the dead bodies beneath the hollow tree where we now sit so deathly still in wait for our succulent prey who come to us that we may eat our gorey fill and rip and tear the meat so sweet and suck the marrow from the bones we polished clean to make a doll to wear their clothes...

The tendrils see the door fly open, and try to grasp at the souls of the living.

But you expected them. The Blessed Frequency has already been invoked.

"Be at peace," you command the Black Mist.

A horrid sound fills the hall as the Blessed Frequency slams into the mist, shattering the tendrils and scattering the darkness to the corners, out of sight. A droning song, a single note of 111 hertz fills the hall. Only where it is loudest is the sludge-stuff that makes up the mist destroyed instead of rebuffed, but even where it grows dim it repels the Black Mist like a magnet pushing away ions of the same charge. What hasn't been shaken apart tries to regroup itself, but the song in your heart follows you down the hall as you make for the nearby living quarters.

What? Of course you have Bear's hand in your own. Make no mistake - you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and you would be derelict in your duties if you did not keep him close at hand. Nothing good would come of letting him venture outside of the area where the Blessed Frequency shakes apart the Black Mist.

Also, the redness of his cheeks when you grabbed his hand and starting running was amusing.

"Okay... if they're this weak to sound, what do you think about grabbing one of the emergency radios?" Bear huffs as he follows behind you. He's not just being dragged along, mind - where the mist begins to coagulate densely in your path, he lashes out with his whip and tears it apart, killing anything dangerous before it can manifest. "Blast the entire place with your frequency thing, and burn 'em out like you're doing now?"
>>
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>>5300008
"It wouldn't work," you tell him. Even now, the Black Mist has begun to find spaces where the frequency drops off or rises up, as the hall's acoustics leave much to be desired. Without Bear's whip breaking those clumps apart, a demon may have been born from the Black Mist's density as it flees the Blessed Frequency. "Acoustics are a fickle thing, and it takes great effort to create a true Holy Ground where the whole area will resonate as one. The Fat Dove is a wonderful vessel, but an intercom only cares if the message is passed on successfully, not the specific notes and tone of the speaker."

"Well that sucks, but I guess it makes sense," Bear says. His whip cracks again, tearing apart another globule of the mist that has coagulated ahead of you. With a flick of his wrist, his whip catches the handle of a door and pulls it open. "This way! Miss Lucy's quarters are the closest, and she's not any good with magic, not even cantrips. So she's probably the most vulnerable to the mists..."

Fortunately for her, the Black Mist thins a bit as you pass through the door. You rebalance the Blessed Frequency to be loudest at your back, incase it begins to flow through the new opening.

Bear leads you to the end of a hall, where a little plaque hangs on a door at the dead end that says "Lucy's Room". The mist is almost clear here, with what few tendrils that float about being easily shaken apart by the Blessed Frequency. You deal with that as he gets the door, and you can hear him trying for the handle before letting a very foul word slip from his mouth.

"Language~" you chide. The barrier of sound is strong enough that you can afford a bit of levity.

"Really...?" Bear complains, sighing. He takes a step back from the door frame, and shifts his stance around. "I'm gonna break the door down, keep me covered."

"On it..." you turn around, readying yourself for the possibility that Bear's about to charge into a room filled with a dense fog of the Black Mist.

"Alright, three..."

"Two..."

"Now!"

With a force that only one of the ascended could muster, he crashes through the door and bursts into Lucy's room. The door's hinges snap off, and it crashes to the floor as he rushes in. The fact that the Black Mist is almost entirely absent from her quarters somehow does not fill you with relief. Something about this entire situation smells off to you. No, if anything, the Black Mist's absence fills you with a slowly blossoming sense of dread, that perhaps the worst is yet to come.

The Black Mist should have been able to slip through the cracks of the doors to this part of the ship. Why, then, did it seem like every bit of sludge was slowly creeping away from this corridor?

"...Lucy?"
>>
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>>5300009
As Bear stares in confusion at the sordid scene playing out before him, the only thing you can think of is that you now know what smells off.

Intellectually, you know what it means for a man and a woman to climb the stairs to adulthood together. Sister April did not approve, but Diligence believed that the knowledge was necessary for you to understand and recognize what is happening if - Wisdom forbid - someone who ought to know better attempts to take advantage of your pure and diligent heart. Many passages of the Librum Stellaris describe the act in vivid metaphor, talking of cats and roosters, tides and floots, and flowers and their sweet nectar.

And yes, even though you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure... well, these past nine days especially, you have been getting to that age where you have started to notice boys and how cute they can be when they get worked up about something. To say nothing of the sapphic pleasures... whatever the heck those may be.

Seeing all of this in person, though...

"Come on, bitch, shake your hips more! Don't you see, we've got ourselves an audience~!"

A violent parody of lovemaking plays out upon the sole bed in Lucy's quarters, and the poor maid appears to be the unfortunate star, and it takes your brain a bit of time to process the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Her assailants are a pair of creatures with skin that shines like polished grey stone, with black and red veins glowing visibly beneath their skin. Demons coagulated from globules of the Black Mist, given a hollow parody of human form and only the worst traits that humans that humans possess.

The demons have her pinned down to her bloodstained bedsheets, her skin a bloody mess as blasphemous iconography of the Black Star Below that has been carved into her body by a jagged knife scars over. The maid long since stopped struggling against them, and lies still as they conduct their sordid business with her. You find it odd that her face is dry of tears, but you can't know what's going on inside of her mind right now. The stench of the act that hangs in the air is horrid enough from where you, and it only worsens when they pull away, leaving black sludge seeping from her nethers and her mouth.

"Well isn't this cute!" one of the demons says. "A pair of pups lost their way, and stumbled upon the big dogs rutting. But didn't it look fun boyo?"

The demon looks Bear straight in the eyes.

"Wh-what... no, hey!" Bear shakes off his shock, but it's clear that he doesn't recognize them for what they are, and you're only just now finished processing what you just saw. "Who are you mutants, and what did you do to Miss Lucy?!"
>>
>>5300010

You just finished processing... all of that. Demons. Demons that just finished up raping the maid Bear wanted to save. (Choose as many as you like, the most voted for option will be used)
>So anyways, you started blasting. Fill the room with the Blessed Frequency, with as much power as you can safely manage.
>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
>You are the Maiden of the 1728th Astral Shrine. Diligent and pure, the ritual of exorcism is well within your means... but Bear will need to buy you some time. (Roll 1d100)
>Bear's ignorance of their nature might work in your favor; they're distracted. Change your barrier jacket to a less... conspicuous configuration, and see if you can't purge some of the corruption they've filled Lucy with.
>Bear's ignorance of their nature might work in your favor; they're distracted. Change your barrier jacket to a less... conspicuous configuration, and see if you can't stab them in the back
>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>Now is not the time to stand your ground. Now is the time to run the heck away.

Regardless of which option you choose, roll 1d20. OR vote to use one of Fortunate's Banked 20s.

Note: Rolls from posters that vote to use a Banked 20 will be ignored for the purposes for determining roll results and banking d20s.
>>
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Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>5300008
...oh fuck this is the hiss! just black instead of red. nice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjIrLMGhCIU

>So anyways, you started blasting. Fill the room with the Blessed Frequency, with as much power as you can safely manage.
>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.

we can purge lucy's corruption once we deal with the beasts
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5300013
>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)

Well, this situation is certainly... unfortunate. I agree that we should probably make sure we're not about to get stabbed in the back while trying to exorcize her. Either way, dumping exposition in the middle of battle is a very anime thing to do, so let's go with that. Hopefully she won't be too far gone by the time we finish.
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5300013
>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
Yeah purification can wait until we clear them out.
>>
>>5300013
>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>5300013
>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>5300013
>You are the Maiden of the 1728th Astral Shrine. Diligent and pure, the ritual of exorcism is well within your means... but Bear will need to buy you some time. (Roll 1d100)
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5300013
>>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
>>
>>5300027
>...oh fuck this is the hiss! just black instead of red. nice
I can't say that I know what that's from.

Also, as an update, I will not be available to do another post until Sunday evening (or Monday, depending on how late things go). Votes will remain open until then, if more people want to have input on the next decision (or vote to use a Banked 20).
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>5300013
>>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)

I say use our banked crit
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>5300013
>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
>You are the Maiden of the 1728th Astral Shrine. Diligent and pure, the ritual of exorcism is well within your means... but Bear will need to buy you some time. (Roll 1d100)
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>5300013
>>Reveal their nature to Bear, and try to do what all Mahou Shoujo teams do - win with the power of teamwork! (Roll 1d100)
>>Metron and Nomos have been resonating with the Blessed Frequency for a while now, and you think you just heard them ask if they could please cleave and smite evil.
>>
>>5300931
oh, its from control, a very underrated and amazing game by the studio that made alan wake and max payne. you should definitely check it out if you like shooters
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F74LLDhAhhI
>>
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Roll Agility 1d20+AGI+(LCK/2) vs DC 35 to attack the Heart-Thirst Ravagers.
Demonic weakness against the Blessed Frequency reduces the DC by 5!
13+10+6 = 29. One degree of failure causes a complication!

You look one more time at the bed in the middle of the room, where who knows how many sordid acts where inflicted upon that poor maid. Thoughts make laps around your head, bringing new questions every time they cross the finish line. Were the demons born of the Black Mist, or was the Black Mist called by the demons? If the Black Mist was called by the demons, then how did they get aboard the vessel? Did one of the Black Ships fly out from the abyssal depths all the way to the upper strata for just a simple boarding action? Is there a heretic aboard who summoned them? If so, who?

"Why, we gave her nothing less than what a beautiful woman like her deserves, boyo~" The first demon gives off a light chuckle. "Tender... loving care... ufufufufu~"

"Don't think she didn't love it..." The other advances on Bear with a hypnotically feminine sway to her hips that even you have trouble looking away from, and you like boys. Like its sibling, the demon's boyish bits have disappeared in a swirl of Black Mist. Her eyes glow a bright gold that stares into Bear's own. "She was panting in delight the entire time. If you want... ufufufu, I could teach you what that's like. Wouldn't love to experience it, making a girl pant and moan and squirm in pleasure~?"

"I... uh..." Bear sounds a little woozy, and for some reason, you feel a bit dizzy yourself.

Something warm and pleasant-feeling has pressed up against your back, and a pair of strong hands have grabbed ahold of your shoulders. They begin to rub all of your troubles away, letting your body and your muscles loosen up so much that it becomes hard for you to stand. Where did that demon go, again...? A little exclamation point caught inside a triangle is flashing in the corner of your eye, but you can't bring yourself to care enough to bring up the details of what it means. Everything feels so warm and fuzzy that you just sort of want to sink into that feeling with a dopey smile and be carried away on the currents of a warm wind.

"That sounds nice..." Bear's voice snaps you out of your empty, floaty lack-of-thoughts. He has a dopey smile on his face, staring at the large, swaying chest of the demon. Wait, something about that statement seems wrong...

"Good, good," the demon's voice carries throughout the room, far too light, far too melodious. She's getting so close to Bear that it's kind of pissing you off, a furious song welling up in your chest. "Let me help you climb the stairs to adulthood~

"And I'll help you do the same~," a voice whispers in your ear.

The demon strokes Bear's cheek.
>>
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>>5303511
Something inside of you snaps, when you see the demon stroke his cheek, and all the common sense that had fled your mind in the demons' presence comes rushing back into your heart. The song that had been muted by the fog their sinful bodies danced into your mind rings heavy in your ears with chords of the Blessed Frequency. Disgust wells up as you feel demonic hands caressing your shoulders while a thick and heavy tool of corruption presses against the small of your back. Whatever secretions it left behind were burnt away by the Light of Diligence that envelopes your body, but all the same, you have to say this for the record - ew, ew, ew, ew, EWWWWWW!!

"Get your filthy hands off of him, demon!" you snarl with contempt.

The demon caressing Bear's cheek stares at you in panic, while the one that had been rubbing its disgusting body against your own leaps back. For all their bluster in calling you pups, they don't have much confidence in their abilities if they're afraid of a single, untrained Mahou Shoujo breaking free of their charms. Perhaps they're the sort of one-trick ponies who only have their charms and not much else to fall back on? They have large, manly chests, and tone bodies, but if they shy away from a fight that quickly...

A burst of the Blessed Frequency puts some distance between the demon and Bear, but unlike the Black Mist, it's not dissolved immediately. They both give out a scream of pain when the Frequency fills the air, cleansing the room of all the corruption within. Even the black goop splattered onto Lucy's naked body is shaken apart by the noise. Unlike when clearing away the Black Mist, however, the demons quickly acclimated, though the pain on their faces tells you that they're powering through it more than ignoring it entirely.

"Marxan! Silence that bra-"

You cut off the demon that had been caressing Bear's face with a flurry from Metron and Nomos, striking as one with both blades. The clanking and inelegant thud of metal striking stone rings out through the room. The demon manifested a pair of glowing pink gauntlets, dripping with some corruptive, pink, oily liquid whose sweet scent would send a blush to your cheeks if your song wasn't already resonating within your heart, and through your blades. The Blessed Frequency at which Metron and Nomos vibrate shakes it apart as quickly as the Black Mists, but something tells you that you don't want it touching you.

The demon clearly did not realize that you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, whose inherently pure body not only rejected their corruptive hypnosis, but also has been trained in the Sword Dancing of the Machine Builders. You keep it on the back foot, defending your sword blows with its gauntlets as your viciously attack every opening you can find. Even though it's 30cm taller than you, Metron and Nomos give you superior reach, and your foot work keeps it on the back pedal...
>>
>>5303512
"A little help here, brother?" The demon yells for its companion in a panic, looking away for just a moment too long. Really, it should have known to keep its eyes on its opponent - you take the opportunity to get through its guard and pierce her side. For a moment, you leave Metron inside of her, cranking up its vibrations at the Blessed Frequency. The demon lets out a roar of pain at that, and then again when you rip the blade out, opening up her side. "FUCK! Fuuuuuuuuuck! Little exhibitionist brat has claws-"

Since it has energy to swear and blaspheme against Diligence - who has told you time and again that your body has inherent purity - you make another thrust. Sadly, this one doesn't catch its side or vitals, but gets knocked away at the last moment to cut its cheek.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!" The demon growls. It jumps over a sweeping kick, and catches the blow you make to follow it up. The sonic pressure and the force of your swords together knock it to the floor. "Bro, where the hell are you?"

"Relax, Grouchon," the demon named Marxan rumbles in a powerful contralto. You look towards it and pale at what it's done. "You care for this one, no?"

The demon has taken its place behind Bear, a single claw of its own pink gauntlet pressing against Bear's neck. For a moment, you wonder why Bear didn't jump in to your fight or take on this Demon, but then you see it in his eyes - a smouldering golden heart. You must have broken free of their hypnosis moments before it became Domination, and the only reason he didn't join them against you is because you prevented Grouchon from giving him any orders. Well, besides "climbing the stairs of adulthood"...

Before that one can say anything, or even get up from the ground, you press the tip of Metron against its throat.

"And I assume you care for this one," you snarl at the demon, making an emphasis of where your sword is. You need to keep in the forefront of your mind that every action a demon takes is something they do to spread the corruption of the Black Star Below as far and wide as possible. Even if they can be a bit abstract and human-like some times. "Well, as much as a demon can 'care' for anything, anyways."

"Hah! Indeed, so you understand," the demon barks a hollow laugh, its golden eyes glowing. You keep the song in your heart loud and clear, and the room filled with the Blessed Frequency... even if its acoustics aren't the best. It seems disappointed for a moment that you haven't fallen back to a hypnotic lull. "I would propose a deal. I will not kill the pup, you will not kill Grouchon or I... and we will leave this vessel. Dealing with a remnant whisp of fog should be easier than two demons, no?"
>>
>>5303514
The Demon Marxan has taken a thoroughly Dominated Bear hostage... but seems to be proposing an accord.
>These terms are acceptable. Take your so-called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to leave]
>I don't make deals with demons. [Kill Grouchon and attempt to kill Marxan].
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to Leave]
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
>You're going to need to make this deal a bit sweeter if you want me to let Demons leave... [Write in a request from them].

Regardless of your decision, roll 1d20
>>
>>5303516
what do they mean by "this vessel"? is it the ship itself, or the room? (i assume this also includes leaving lucy alone)
>>
>>5303520
They mean the ship. They're demons, not devils, they wouldn't know a loophole if it bent over and begged to be fucked.
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to Leave]
considering how they're recoiling against us, its probably a fight we can win, but i can see that its gonna be messy and therefore not worth the hassle.

i guess we could also choose "You're going to need to make this deal a bit sweeter if you want me to let Demons leave... [Write in a request from them]." but im out of ideas at the moment
>>
>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
In place of rolling, I'm going to vote to use one of our banked crits. That's how that works right?
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>5303516
>You're going to need to make this deal a bit sweeter if you want me to let Demons leave... [Write in a request from them].

Parva has questions and this seems like a good opportunity to hear them answered. How did the Demons come aboard this ship? Were they born from the Mist, or the other way around? If they can answer that, everyone can walk away from this skirmish unharmed... well, relatively.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
Suffer not the demon
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>5303516
>>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to Leave]
>>
>>5303539
Yes, though people do need to vote to use the banked Crit.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to Leave]
>>
>>5303516
>>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]

Use the damned crit!!
>>
>>5303675
Adding my support for using the banked crit
>>
>>5303516
supporting the use of the crit as well
>>
>>5303516
>>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Allow them to Leave]

>Use the 20
>>
>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
>Use a stored crit
>>
>>5303516
>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
>Use the crit
But we should at least try to keep one saved for serious danger so we can escape or combine it with Swan Song for a desperation attack
>>
>>5304334
Dont worry, we'll get more 20s to store and as long as we plan carefully, a 1 here and there shouldnt fuck us that hard
>>
>>5303516
>I don't make deals with demons. [Kill Grouchon and attempt to kill Marxan].
>>
>>5303516
>>Free Bear from this one's control first, then you can have your so called "Brother" and leave. [Kill Grouchon the moment Bear is free and then attempt to kill Marxan]
>Use crit
>>
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Roll Charm 1d20+LCK+5 (Ojou-sama) vs DC 35 to pull one over on the Heart-Thirst Ravagers.
20+12+5 = 37. One degree of success, plus two additional degrees of success from the critical makes three degrees of success.[/b[

The deal they offer you is sweet as honey, but the faithful do not bargain with the vile spawn of the Black Star Below.

"Demons are destructive, capricious, and charming creatures," Sister April once told you. You remember this lecture from two or three years ago, because it was one of the few she gave you where she let you go around clad in light. Of course, you had to sit cross legged beneath a waterfall while she sat upon a nice, dry stone, but it was still better than wearing scratchy woolen things. "Wisdom's light is anathema to them, so they move in the darkness and the shadow to avoid being scoured away. Their nature is to corrupt and to pervert, twisting the moral and the pure into a mockery of Wisdom's teachings. For it is the Faithful who are their jailor, the ones who hold they key to the Cage of Starlight that keeps them locked away..."

...and only one of the Faithful can free a demon from the Cage that Wisdom built, or so the saying goes. To tell it true, the Librum Stellaris contradicts itself on the nature of demons nearly as often as it brings them up, and even the Stars are slow to remember what is true from what is false. Five thousand years is an abyss for even the Stars themselves, and ten times longer than the Machine Builders walked the fabled Earth before their hubris broke it. Diligence spoke of demons only once to you, for he had many things to teach you and only ten short years in which to teach them.

[For all they schemed and subverted the hedonistic masses, their methods were nothing if not straightforward.] Diligence spoke these words when he told you of the Fall and the Breaking, which left the shards of the fabled Earth adrift upon the winds of the cosmos. You were a child of six, half your age today, clad in light and seated in seiza before the stellar machinery named Diligence. [When they were strong, they would act with strength, like a bull running rampant through a porcelain house. When they were weak, used their low cunning to corrupt the sinful hearts of man, making one sided deals with the lowliest of the Machine Builders, buying mountains with airy promises of pleasure and power...]

Could this be but an airy promise of theirs, to leave you now and pursue some other goal when you have one at your mercy, beneath your sword? Will they turn on you the moment that this demon, this Marxan gets what he wants, when you let the demon Grouchon walk free? Or will they stay true to their word, and leave the ship in peace? Or is it all a trap, their damned work here done, and letting them will only put the blood of their next attack on your hands?

A claw digs into Bear's neck, drawing blood.
>>
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>>5305441
The deal they offer you is sweet as honey, but the faithful do not bargain with the vile spawn of the Black Star Below.

"Release him from your brother's spell, first," you bark an order that brokers no negotiation. Something about the way that one holds Bear, the droopy eyed smile on his face as that wretched thing touches his body deeply offends you. You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, so of course you do not feel such a base emotion as hatred for that demon. Hate is the shadow of love, and one cannot be had without the other - or so Diligence taught you. It is a few years too early for you to be feeling anything like that. Yet it offends you all the same, to point that your face twists into a snarl. "Then I'll consider releasing your brother."

For emphasis, you prick the demon's throat with Metron. A well of satisfaction fills you heart when you hear it audibly hiss in pain, as even the gentlest vibrations of the Blessed Frequency run through your blade and into its body. It must be excruciatingly painful.

Good.

"That's a good face, girly!" The demon Marxan has the audacity to laugh beneath your glare. Its claws drum Bear's throat for a moment as he looks you in the eye. "Yes, with that attitude you might live long enough to get a chance to kill one of us. How exciting... Grouchon, what are you waiting for? Let the boy go, will you? The sooner you do, the sooner we're off this flying keg..."

"Like hell, Marxan," the Demon beneath your blade growls at the other. It glares at you, and then a its companion. "I'm not giving up the only edge we got in these negotiations, savvy?"

"I'm not letting you go until the spell is broken," you tell the demon. For emphasis, you give his neck another poke, which elicits a hiss of pain and a hateful glare. "You release it before I finish counting down, or I'll be giving your friend your corpse... and letting 'him' leave, if 'he' releases Bear. Ten..."

"Ahahahaha~!" the demon Marxan barks with more laughter, throwing back its head to howl like a madman. "You'd make a fine demon, girly! When this is all done, let me know if you ever want to play for the winning team, I'll set you up..."

"Nine..." you growl, glaring at Marxan. You have mixed feelings about being compared to a demon, let alone being told you'd make a fine one, to say the least.

"You've gotta be shitting me," Grouchon stares at you in a panic. "Marxan you rat bastard, she's going to kill me! Kill the boy you dense mother fucker!"

"Seven..." you give another reminder to Grouchon, and it squeals like a stuck pig.

"Why would I kill my ticket off this boat, Grouchy-boy?" the demon Marxan wipes away the tears of laughter from its eyes, giving a rotten grin at its compatriot. "You know how to free yourself!"
>>
>>5305444
[You should not be ashamed of your own self-interest, my precious child.] As your mouth speaks six and you see the two demons bickering, your mind drifts back to a time where you sat before the Stellar Machinery of Diligence, listening diligently to every word he had to offer you. His voice rumbling deep as thunder, his image the father that you never truly had. [A lumberjack who seeks to bring back a great bounty of wood for his village can do no such thing if he does not take the time to care for his body and his tools. If he failed to care for himself first, his body would grow frail and his axe would grow dull. So too must you make sure that you help yourself before you think of helping others.]

You remember asking him something, about the glory of self-sacrifice and the dangers of greed and selfishness, to which the image he projected reached down and ruffled your golden hair. [To that, I would tell you: look to the gardens Sebastian tends, and the plots upon which he grows food for you and Sister April. Many things are grown together, for nature abhors a monoculture. Just as an overabundance of any one crop would deplete the soil, to too would an overabundance of greed, and pride, and selfishness... and self sacrifice as well. The lumberjack who takes too much time to care for himself will bring back few logs indeed, and the lumberjack who insists on taking every burden of the job upon himself will not allow others to grow...]

All things in moderation, something these demons clearly lack. For self-interest to divide them against an enemy clear as day is...

"Absurd, this is absurd!" the demon Grouchon seethes in frustration while the demon Marxan laughs at its plight. "A fucking baby Mahou Shoujo that you were five seconds away from bouncing on your cock, and you're taking... fuck you you void-damned vile piece of trash partner-"

"Five..."

"RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!" It lets out a scream of frustration, so you prick its neck again just to remind it not to try anything cute. "Alright, fine! I'll drop the fucking spell, are you happy now. You can take your little boytoy and suck his thin prick shota cock until his balls shrivel up for all I care, will you just let me the fuck go?"

The golden hearts that had been shining in Bear's eyes dim into nothing, his droopy and dazed expression shifting into one of panic and horror as he realizes the situation he's stuck in. He tries to squirm out of Marxan's grip, but the demon has him in a precarious chokehold. If he moves too much, one of the demon's claws might nick something important. Something puddles at his feet, though whatever it is, it doesn't smell half as foul as the emissions of the demons.

He only stops thrashing when he hears your voice in the bones by his ear.

Ready Rosenpeitsche. You'll know the signal when you see it.
>>
>>5305448
"Alright little demoness-to-be..." Marxan holds the now still Bear in its arms, not noticing or not caring about the way he palmed the rose in his hand. You click your tongue at that irritating nickname the demon decided to give you. "You got your hostage and I got mine. What say we release them both on three, and then Grouchy-boy and I will leave the two of you in peace, eh?"

"Very well," you tell it. In its eyes, the deal is sealed. "One..."

But the faithful do not bargain with the vile spawn of the Black Star Below.

"Two..."

"Three."

You remove your sword from Grouchon's neck, and the demon kips up. Marxan keeps its end of the deal... by throwing Bear in your direction, up and over its partner. Bear has no problem twisting in the air and making a clean landing next to you, while Grouchon strides towards Marxan, dusting off its thighs and tossing you a glare. Bear gives you a look, and the bones near his ear vibrate with your hidden message - not yet. You'll know the signal when it comes.

"Fucking finally," the demon Grouchon growls, and it looks like it has half a mind to punch the cocky grin off of its smug face. "I hate you so void-damned much, you sadistic sonuva-"

Two swords blossom from its ample chest, and it looks down at them in disbelief.

They are perfectly placed to kill the demon the moment you rip them out of its body - for though the anatomy of a demon is different from a human, they have vital organs all the same. Since the Fall of the Machine Builders, and perhaps even before that, humans have studied where best to stab and shoot their greatest enemies. Metron pierces its demonheart, the condensation of the Black Mist which fuels a demon's dark powers and allows it to manifest. For good measure, you run Nomos through its liver, which really isn't all that much different than a human liver.

"Bitch...!" the demon Grouchon hacks and coughs as you run the Blessed Frequency through its body. He lets out a single curse upon his partner. "I hope... they fuckin' kill you too, you ass..."

The demon Marxan shortly follows Grouchon to the grave.

Bear is quick on the uptake - the moment you lunged forward to stab the demon Grouchon in the back, he twirled the Rosenpeitsche in his hand. A thorny vine shot forth like a coiled snake, wrapping around the remaining demon before it could even react to the blood of its partner splattering on its face. A surge of magic from Bear followed a swift incantation, causing the thorns to grow to the size of long and sharp knives. The black blood of a demon bursts in an explosion of gore, but that's not what disturbs you about Marxan's death.

It didn't fight back or struggle against Bear's lash.

It died in raucous laughter. "Ahahahahahaaaaaa~! A splendid demon, indeed...!"
>>
>>5305451
You have slain the demons, though somehow it leaves a foul taste in your mouth. With their deaths, the danger is past... though the reason for their presence remains a mystery. The Mahou Shoujo aboard the vessel, impressed with your work, guides you in offering their demonhearts to Holy Wisdom in return for his blessing. You may choose one of the following boons:
>Increase your STR by 2
>Increase your AGI by 1
>Increase your VIT by 2
>Increase your MAG by 2
>Increase your LCK by 1
>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
>Engrave Marxon's Power [Obscura Litura] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
>>
>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
Mystery box
>>
Rolled 32 (1d100)

>>5305451
>"Ahahahahahaaaaaa~! A splendid demon, indeed...!"
definitely not a foreshadow here, no sir. at least not yet

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)

what are gouchon's and maxon's boons? hypnotism and the ooze juice?
>>
>>5305465
No, the corruptive ooze is something that occurs normally - both demons had it, and if a magical girl gets corrupted enough, she'll have it too. Marxan's Power is a form of presence erasure/super stealth.
>>
>>5305481
What about Grouchon's?
>>
>>5305486

Based on the name im guessing it involves aphrodisiacs; maybe it raises people's horny levels?
>>
>>5305454
>Increase your MAG by 2
+2 to a stat seems pretty damn good.
Since we have high LCK and AGI getting hit shouldn't be too much of a problem, and while both STR and MAG would serve us well, we used our music to good effect so I'll go with that. Assuming our music is strengthened by MAG, at least.
Somewhat tempted to take super stealth but it's probably best not to go for corruption. for now.
>>
>>5305454
>>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
That was an interesting encounter. I think being able to Charm someone could be useful to us. gotta get the ball rolling on that fall from grace!
>>
Rolled 24 (1d100)

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
WE ARE DILIGENT AND PURE.
>>
>>5305454
>>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
>>
Rolled 90 (1d100)

>>5305454
>>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
>>
Rolled 100 (1d100)

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
Stealth would be nice but not worth getting corrupted this early. CEO of Sex Parva is the only thing that will come from picking Estrus
>>
>>5305454
>>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
I like corruption, I want corruption.
>>
>>5305486
>>5305503
Grouchon's ability is the head-fog that had Bear heart-pupiled. Note that if you go for their abilities, the ones engraved upon your Kaleidoscope Eyes will be a lesser variant than what they used.
>>
>>5305630
Welp, Diligence is really proud of His diligent and pure shrine maiden
>>
>>5305454
>>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
>>
Rolled 53 (1d100)

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
>>5305630
Same. I got the feeling that parva will end up with some corruption in her system, but not this soon, or without the proper Knowledge in how to handle it. (Plus i wanna use that 90 and nat 100. You dont see those every day)
>N0MGH
>>
Rolled 45 (1d100)

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
Parva is PURE
>>
>>5305777
trips of truth!
although its really concerning what marxon said when he was dying. My egocentric guess is that they were after us, but it feels too much of a stretch.
>>
>>5305825
I think it might be because Parva used deciet to get what she wanted and then slaughtered them both after promising to let them walk free. To be fair, that is kind of in line with what a demon might do
>>
>>5305454
>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
>>
Rolled 83 (1d100)

>>5305454
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
Curious to see how we'll handle something like a corrupted magical girl
>>
>>5305956
oh, absolutely, but we can't deny that parva is special on her own accord. after all, she's the reason why Diligence returned to the temple

>>5305992
im more interested in knowing what a corrupted magical girl actually *is*.
>>
>>5305454
>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)

A pinch of corruption never hurt nobody. Sounds like a very useful skill to have up our sleeve.
>>
>>5305454
>Engrave Grouchon's Power [Estrus Exstasis] permanently onto your Kaleidoscope Eyes (+1 Corruption)
A pinch of corruption can't hurt a magical girl right?
>>
aaand i think we're tied. that's going to be fun
>>
>>5306063
>>5306050
>a pinch of corruption never/can't hurt[...]
Can't samefags(?) wait at least until we get to the academy to push their fantasies? We are basicaly still in the prologue.
>>
>>5306066
I counted 8 for offering to Dilligence, 7 for Estrus, and a sole anon voting for magic buff. I wouldn't be shocked if we got tied later though
>>
Rolled 77 (1d100)

>>5305454
Since this is pretty close and my original vote >>5305519 is alone I'm going to change my vote to:
>>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Offer them instead to Diligence, in a show of your Faith. (Roll 1d100)
My ID probably changed, but the above linked vote is me.
>>
>>5306069
I meant that ironically to mimic the anon above me, of course I know it meant fun things. So stop calling anyone who doesn't vote your way samefags.
>>
>>5306077
Fair enough.
>>
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Fortunate has observed a Natural 100 and has banked it for future use.
You currently have 1 banked Natural 20 and 1 banked Natural 100. You can bank four additional rolls.

Two spheres of midnight black crystal clatter to the floor, each of them marred by veins of cracks that glow with a dim purple light around the holes that your weapons punched into them. The last vestiges of a demon's power, they should be safe enough now that you don't need to worry about them. You will need to dispose of them eventually, but having been run through they possess no power to corrupt anyone, or produce the Black Mist any longer. You slump to the floor with a sigh.

You need a moment to catch your breath.

There's a foul taste in your mouth, and it's not the demon's blood that has splattered all over your body from Bear's violent and gory display of the Rosenpeitsche's power. You spit it out with a globule of black-stained blood, making a face like you've bitten into rancid meat. Why should you care what the loathsome spawn of the Black Star Below have to say about your actions? About you nature? You are one of the faithful, who follow in the Light of Wisdom and His Ten Thousand Brother Stars. More than that, you are a holy maiden - diligent and pure - raised to walk a path that treads as close to the Light of the Stars as a mortal can get.

That repugnant thing can rot in whichever bleak Tartarus that Bear's lash sent it to. Its stinking blood is unworthy of touching your pure and untainted skin, and the light in which you are clad agrees with you. The golden corona which shields your body from the sight of unclean and lustful eyes slowly burns away the blood that touched you, the Light of Diligence proving anathema to the essence of even a Demon fully formed. The vibrations upon Metron and Nomos shake them clean as well, letting you return them to your scabbard without the worry of rust.

Bear eyes your light-clad body with no small amount of envy, a cantrip fast on his lips to clean the blood from Rosenpeitsche. "[Humility 17:4-5] Blessed is the scullery maid, for her hands shield us from the sicknesses born of filth and rot. Also, holy shit we're alive. How did you... everything felt so normal and right, and you just shook it off! Also, how are you doing that, and how can I learn."

You clasp your hands together in prayer, and let a serene smile cross your face. Your voice comes out like a choir song, a well practiced line that you know will make him groan. "It's quite simple, my dear Bear. I am a holy maiden, diligent-"

"BREACH!" a man's deep contralto shouts from behind the door.

With no further warning, the door explodes open with the swing of a mighty, golden hammer whose head is the size of your torso. It gives you such a shock that you're immediately sent into fight-or-flight mode without a chance to think things through. Before you know it, you're on your feet with both swords drawn.
>>
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>>5306307
When the dust of the sudden, explosive breach of the door clears, you get a look at the man who made it... and sag in relief that it's not another demon. Were it not for his stature, the man would look rather average with his plain face and mousy brown hair tied in a loose tail over one shoulder. But he must stand over two meters tall, with how much he towers over you and Bear, to say nothing of the rest of him. Clad in a white leotard beneath an orange and gold waist-cape, his shoulders are broad and his arms are thick as tree trunks. Beneath his white silk stockings you can see the muscles of powerful thighs, and each of his breasts must be half again as large as your head. He quickly surveys the room, his face curling into a frown when he spots Lucy on the bed.

"...and pure?" You finish your half formed teasing, but both you and Bear are too busy staring at the man who just arrived.

"Mr. Cobb?" Bear looks up at the man with his bright green eyes. A smile crosses his face, and you can hear the relief in his voice. "Mr. Cobb, are Dad and Mama alright? Did the mist get anyone?"

The man leans down and pokes Bear on the forehead hard enough to make the boy wince even in his barrier jacket. You frown. Obvious Mahou Shoujo or not, you're not sure you like this man. "How many times I tell ya ta call me Jaime, kiddo?"

"Lots..." Bear shuffles bashfully on his feet.

"Yer parents are fine, and like hel-" He stops himself and looks at you for a moment, arching his eyebrow a bit at your exotic choice of attire. You give your best impression of Sister April's perfect priestess look, which makes him cough in embarrassment. He may look like the crude sort who goes looking for loose women at port, but at least he's thinking enough about propriety to walk back the foul language in front of a holy woman such as yourself. "Like heck would I let a little mist 'get' anyone. Got a few folks who'll need ta see a doc once we get ta port, but everyone's fine fer now. Howsabout you and your girlfriend, kiddo?"

"Ababababa-she's not my girlfriend, Mr. Cobb!" Bear stammers with no small amount of insistence. You think your lord doth protest too much, and a wide, teasing smile crosses your face. One look at your expression leaves him red in the ears. "We just pray together a lot..."

"Hah!" the man gives Bear's pink hair a fond ruffle. "I bet you do. I bet loads a girls don't mind goin' 'round like... well, as she's goin' 'round in fronta boys they don' like."

"That's not-" Bear starts, but you feel the need to interrupt him and set the record straight, that there is no prurient interest here.

"My good Mr. Cobb," you say in your chapel voice, the one you use to read from scripture and give out the wisdom of a Shrine Maiden. "I am a holy maiden, diligent and pure. There is nothing indecent going about Clad in the Light of Wisdom and the Stars Above, for it brings us ever closer to their heavenly light..."
>>
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>>5306311
Glowing with the Light of Diligence as your hands are clasped in prayer, you must certainly cut the very image of a Star Child sent from the Heavens. Even a crude-looking man such as this Mr. Jaime Cobb can surely see that you shine with a pure and radiant light, your very presence a beacon of the Star's Grace. Girlish yet elegant, graceful in your simplicity, with a purity of body and spirit that defines your very being. There is nothing lewd about your naked body, nothing to arouse the bestial spirits of men to pounce upon in search of a mate. You are simply an elegant, simple beauty who has entrusted her everything to the Stars Above.

"Ah, I see," Jaime says with a sniff of his nose. "Didn' realize holy gals could be exhibitionists too."

Your serene smile audibly cracks, like a fine crystal chalice that some brute with a crude and clumsy grip shattered after you told him to mind the strength of his grip. The words that your sweet, innocent, and ever so deliciously pretty Bear says next cause a few more cracks to form.

"What's an exhibitionist?" Bear asks.

"Means she likes bein' nekkid," Jaime explains it in the crudest terms possible.

You'd like to respond with a proper explanation of why being clad in light in a sign of faith and displays no prurient interest, but the words escape you. You can only sputter wordlessly with a deep blush spreading across your entire body. Even the light turns red.

"Ohhhhhh!" Bear nods a bit too enthusiastically. "Yep, that sounds like Parva, alright!"

"You'll need to look out fer her when you get to the Academy, kiddo." Jaime squats down to Bear's height and places a hand on his shoulder, giving him a solid look in the eye. Bear must really look up to this man that you've definitely decided you do not care for, considering that he hangs off his every word. "You're a good boy, kiddo, but there's a lotta boys out there who're right and awful wolves. She's one of them holy gals, but guys like them'll just see her as a sheep they can have for dinner..."

"I don't think she'll make for a good sheep..." Bear seems a bit nervous to contracted the large woman, but he clenches his fists and nods. "I mean, she just killed a demon. We both did!"

"That so...?" Jaime gives Bear another rub on the head, before taking a sniff of the air. Then he spots the two crystals on the ground, picking them up and squinting his eyes at the holes you punched in them. "Thought I smelled demon, but this here was the last room in the last wing of the ship. Good job, you two - not many Mahou Shoujo can claim ta have killed their first demon before they've even reached the Academy!"

He tosses you both one of the demonhearts, the crystals that clattered onto the floor when you killed the ones who carried them. "Now come on, why don' I show you two how ta put these bad boys to use?"

===
>>
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>>5306312
Jaime took you back to the chapel to conduct the rituals to offer up the two demonhearts to Holy Wisdom and the Stars Above. According to him, this is something that you would normally learn to do in your second year at the Astral Academy, but he's done it enough times that he "knows it like the back of his hand." It's a simple ritual of prayer and offering, bringing the crystal to the altar and saying the right words. Though you get a double take from Jaime when you make a slight alteration to the prayer.

"Not offerin' it up ta Wisdom, Miss Holy Gal?" the large man looks at you in askance. The gears in that crude head of his clearly try to turn, but it's also clear that they rusted over a long time ago.

"I am the Shrine Maiden who attends the 1728th Astral Shrine," you remind him just in case he forgot. He gives you a nod, so at least he understands that much. "I would be remiss if I didn't give my offerings to the Shrine's patron Star."

Especially since the Light of Diligence needs every bit of reinforcement it can get.

You do not expect much in return from your Holy Father Diligence, but just as He cared for you during your morning years, you must return the favor to Him now. You are nothing if you are not a pure and pious child. These offerings will rekindle the light within His Stellar Machinery, and bring Him one step closer to returning to His former glory. You know not how much of Him has waned, and though He never said it, you know He spent a great deal of his Light to wake from His slumber and care for you. He cannot increase your strength as Wisdom could - not right now - but in your prayers you hear his quiet instruction upon a new technique.

What technique has Diligence passed to you?
>The Heron Dances in the Pool. The next form of the Machine Builders' old sword techniques.
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>Song of Courage. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine their reaction to fear effects.
>Dragonsong Inspiration. You may cause your allies' weapons to reverberate with violent noise, causing extra Sonic damage when they hit.
>Blessed Hymn of Battle. You may cause your allies weapons to reverberate with the Blessed Frequency, increasing their ability to exorcise demons.

Side chapter time! Whose point of view do you wish to explore in the next post?
>The rotten heretic.
>The fallen star.
>The bloody rose.
>The child, damned.
>The corrupt merchant.
>The innocent demon.
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
considering how the rolls work in the quest, this seems like the best thing for the moment.

>The innocent demon.
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
Better roles are always good.
>The fallen star.
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The innocent demon
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The rotten heretic.
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The innocent demon.

>"I am a holy maiden, diligent and pure. There is nothing indecent going about Clad in the Light of Wisdom and the Stars Above"
I love how no one is buying it
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The innocent demon.
They all sound interesting, so I hope we get a chance to see the others later
>>
>>5306541
My head cannon is that jaime buys it....but he's also an adult and parva is for all intents and purposes a homeschooled and sheltered kid. He can easily see what she's trying to hide behind a truth
>>
>>5306314
>Song of Courage. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine their reaction to fear effects.
>The innocent demon.
>>
I can't get out of my head the thought that the Innocent Demon girl is going to somehow have the inverse of Parva's exhibitionism, where she's really embarassed by dressing lewd like the other demons and insists on dressing super conservatively.
>>
>>5306750
>"why can't chad and thad lust me for who i am instead of my huge fucking tiddies and my thicc af butt?"

Although your post popped another question into my mind:
Could parva be related to a demon? Its pretty obvious that diligence and the other brothers consume demonhearts to repair/sustain/upgrade themselves and from the sounds of it, diligence didnt have a reason *or fuel* that could kickstart him again. So its quite curious that he came back online when parva's mom left her at the shrine
>>
ID probably changed. I really ought to get myself a trip, shouldn't I?
>>5306568
Each of these are one of the antagonistic forces who are present in the world, with varying degrees of how evil they are that range from them having literally done nothing wrong, to being more or less the Demon King. Shout out to rotten heretic for being the most irredeemable piece of trash human being out of the bunch. The others who are as evil as her at least have the excuse of being inclined towards evil from birth, she's just a petty bitch.

>>5306693
This is... more or less accurate? I have opinions on education that amount to "a robust local community 'homeschooling' system with high parental involvement and insight as well as ample time for proper socialization among peers would be preferable to the current prison-like public indoctrination system", but Parva wasn't raised in that sort of environment. She was taught by a single priestess and a supercomputer/demi-god, so the homeschooling cliches stand.

In setting, generally speaking the local lords are expected to provide for their subjects' education, so the quality does vary. Despite most people being some form of "subsistence+" farmer where they grow a majority of their own food, literacy rates tend to be fairly high. One of the sacraments of adulthood is to read a passage from one of the holy books, so if a peasant can't it shames the Local Lord (who is seen to have failed one of his sacred duties to his people).

On communication and learning, it both helps and hurts communication that the written language is a logographic system (individual characters express IDEAS) rather than a phonographic system (individual characters express SOUNDS). You take two people from across the World Reborn and give them the same book, they'll be able to read it and understand what is writtwn. Ask them to read the passage aloud, though, and you'll hear two very different things, unless they're versed in the Trade Dialect which doesn't have a name yet.

>>5306750
>>5306813
These are both very interesting lines of thought that you've come up with. You'll find out about miss innocent Demon if she lives... and Parvas life circumstances are intentionally a bit mysterious. That will come when it comes up.
>>
>>5306832
If she wins*
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The corrupt merchant.
>>
>>5306832
>the written language is a logographic system
so kinda like chinese and egyptian? that's interesting
>>
Apologies for the late notice, but it looks like tonight's update is going to be delayed to tomorrow or Saturday.

Also I now have a tripcode... which I will promptly forget to use when I phonepost.

>>5307216
Definitely in the vein of Chinese/East Asian logograms. Ideas are conveyed with relative ease across temporal and spatial distance, but pronunciation can be wildly different even on neighboring islets. Still don't have a name for the trade dialect that most use, or the "high" dialect that the church uses during ceremonies.
>>
>>5306314
>The Heron Dances in the Pool. The next form of the Machine Builders' old sword techniques.

>The rotten heretic.
>>
>>5306314
>Song of the Heart. Your allies add twice your LCK to their rolls of 1d100 to determine the outcome of their actions.
>The fallen star.
>>5306813
I guess it is a good thing to question why we offer demonic parts to the stars and they use them to grow in power
>>
>>5307777
nice quads
>why we offer demonic parts to the stars and they use them to grow in power
we definitely need to ask Dilligence or someone else, but my guess is that since Wisdom, the light and all the stars are made to fight and eradicate the darkness, using it to fuel themselves is the best way to actually get rid of it. i mean, our immune system does something like that already, so it shouldn't be that weird to apply it on a bigger scale
>>
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Humans are foolish creatures who fail to learn from the mistakes of their ancestors. They repeat those same mistakes time and time again believing that this time they will get things right where their foolish, ignorant, and stupid predecessors failed. This is how the Machine Builders were before the the Fall. This is how the many disparate peoples of the World Reborn are in the modern day. One might call it a fundamental rule of human nature, the original sin that every human bears within their heart - the arrogance to ignore the hard won wisdom of their elders because they are young and strong, and know better.

"Lightless, shitty old men..." a young man seethes, his black eyes blazing behind a pair of half-moon glasses. "One more month, maybe two, that's all I needed and I would have done what even the Machine Builders could not. And those fools cut off funding because Oversight thinks it heresy?"

He storms through the hall of a facility as ancient as it is modern. An ancient bunker nestled in the hills of uncharted island that orbits the Black Star Below at the border of the Middle and Lower Strata, he repurposed it into a laboratory soon after he discovered it. The modern aesthetics of wood and stone tile contrast with the spartan and utilitarian steel and sterile white enamel to give the refurbished bunker a unique feeling. Something that borders both the old and the new.

One might easily mistake the seething man for a woman from his delicate frame and his appearance at first glance, were they not to hear his deep contralto voice. He certainly has a womanly curve to his hips, moreso than most men, and he is not some barrel-armed titan of manliness like some. But though he wears his black hair in gentle messy curls as long as a woman would wear them, the sharpness of the face beneath his glasses and the breadth of the shoulders that perfectly fit the white coat he wears over a black shirt make his gender clear on closer inspection.

Floating next to him is an orb of stone, carefully engraved with magic formulae that glow a light sky blue with the flow of mana through them.

[Hypothesis: Oversight likely pressured the Research Council into canceling Project Dawn.] The orb vibrates in a way that mimics the human voice. [Analysis: Though the outcomes of Project Dawn are desirable within a 95% confidence interval, linguistic analysis of the Librum Stellaris suggests that the methodology proscribed within the project chart violates the precepts of scripture. (Prudence 14:1-2) The formation of an empty vessel-]

"-in the graven image of man shall be forbidden to human hands." the man spits in anger, a glare on his face as he throws open the door to his office. "I know my scripture, GnoSYS, you don't need to quote it at me. If Oversight read my proposal, they would know that Project Dawn will not create an empty vessel. Not in the slightest..."
>>
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>>5307890
[Correction: Would not have.] The orb called GnoSYS says, receiving an irritated click of his creator's tongue in responses. [Analysis: Without the funding that has been canceled by the Research Council, you will not be able to continue your research into the coming month. Hypothesis: based on historical analysis of Oversight activities, even if you could continue your work as an independent researcher, there is a 99.7% likelihood that an inquisitorial Mahou Shoujo will be deployed to bring you in on charges of heresy within the next two weeks. Proposal: This GnoSYS unit advises that you move on from Project Dawn, Doctor White.]

Doctor White's eyes snap towards GnoSYS in a glare, before drifting to the bookshelf that sits opposite his desk.

Like his desk, it's crafted of an inexpensive and serviceable spruce wood that has been stained to a dark color that provides a nice contrast to the white enamel walls of the bunker. Its frame strains against the number of books that he's stuffed into it, a treasure trove of lore on the alchemies relating to the function of the human body and the shaping of the human genome. Even a few Standard Operation Procedures written in the strange phonemic language of Machine Builders, which he painstakingly dug up during his more adventurous years. Each and every one of them have been referenced in the white paper he wrote ten years ago, which served as the basis for Project Dawn.

An inquisitorial Mahou Shoujo would quarantine them within the Church Archives at best, hiding the precious knowledge from all save those whom the Stars Above deemed worthy of it. As much as the thought disgusted him, the potential fate of those texts was but a fleeting thought, compared to the emotions that welled up inside of him when his eyes found what they were looking for.

A single picture on the second shelf from the top, leaning up against the spines of the fourth to tenth volume of the Encyclopedia Biologica.

Seven children sit in the shade of an apple tree, surrounding a woman in her mid-forties. The children all looked a bit scruffy, wearing uniform clothes that - while exceptionally well cared for - did not quite fit them. The woman had a face lined with laughter, and a bright grin that matched the sparkle in her sky blue eyes. Her golden hair was tied in a long braid, flecked with streaks of silver that betrayed her age. A grumpy looking young boy, no older than five or six, was seated on her lap, one of her hands fondly ruffling his girlishly long black hair. Doctor White remembered a lot about that day, but he forgot why he had been so grumpy a long time ago.

"We don't need two weeks, GnoSYS," Doctor White says. He pulls a plain brown package from a drawer in his desk, and stands. "I was prepared to have my funding pulled. Everything I need to finish the Professor's work today is right here..."
>>
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>>5307891
[Analysis: My scanners are incapable of penetrating the protective lining of that package.] GnoSYS makes his observation as he follows Doctor White towards the main laboratories. [Query: What are the contents of the package, and why would they need protective shielding?]

Chambers that once had been dedicated to extended medical facilities within the bunker have since been repurposed for the Biological Alchemy which Doctor White studied. Glass tube as tall as a human grew from the floor in neat rows, like trees planted as a crop. Within them, animals of all shapes and sizes curl up into balls, suspended in a glowing green medium that feeds them and allows them to grow. One room in particular has been dedicated to Project Dawn, a small chamber compared to the others, where a single growth tube can be found hooked up to ancient machinery.

Inside the tube, a young girl floats in suspension with closed eyes.

She does not dream of anything. Indeed, the readouts on the ancient machinery suggest that not even a single thought has crossed her mind from the moment she began her growth. She is an empty vessel in the graven image of a man, a Body grown by alchemy yet devoid of Mind and Soul.

"I pulled a few strings with a friend who lives in the Pit," Doctor White says. That friend was another one of the children in that picture, and when she heard that he wanted to complete the Professor's work she was more than happy to use her skills to get him what he needed. He places the package on the lab bench, and goes about opening it. "GnoSYS, interface with the Machina and project the magical circle found in the folder labeled Dawn Backup as hard light. Scale it to a diameter of 1.618 meters."

[Understood.] The orb floats to a pedestal at the center of the room, the ancient machinery locking it in place.

After a moment, a golden diagram fills an empty space in the room, a magic circle projected onto the floor in what the Machine Builders would have called haptic holograms. As much as it is sacred geometry, it is also poetry, quoting scripture from apocryphal texts that exist outside the canon of the Church of Holy Wisdom. Those words form each shape - the circle, the triangles, and the stars inscribed within it. A powerful prayer diagram that borders the heretical, but does not quite cross that line.

[Caution: Quantities of BMR in excess of 2.7 kilomyst have been detected on my scanners.] GnoSYS blurts out a warning as Doctor White finishes opening the package. It contains a single shard of black crystal, the size and shape of an icicle. [Analysis: Scanners do not indicate the presence of Black Mist within the bunker... however, contamination seals have been manually set? Caution: sealing the bunker in this fashion will prevent the spikes of BMR from being detected by Oversight...]

"That's the plan, GnoSYS!" Doctor White gives the orb a thumbs up. "That's the plan."
>>
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>>5307897
[Query: Doctor White, are you suffering from acute Black Mist Contamination Syndrome?] GnoSYS asks. If its unfeeling and inhuman voice was capable of expressing concern, it certainly would do so now. [Proposal: This GnoSYS unit advises that you return the unidentified BMR emitting object to its packaging and contact Oversight for immediate exfiltra-]

"GnoSYS, cease all neural networking functions until Project Dawn's completion," the Doctor commands the orb, and it falls silent. He slips on a a pair of long and heavy gloves, lined with the same protective material that blocked the orb's sensors, and grabs the crystal shard in his hands. It lights with a purple flame, ebbing an flickering corruption made manifest, but it does not seep through the material or bring him harm. "Dammit GnoSYS, I created you as a being of logic and reason, not of superstition. We are not beasts to cower from the flame simply because it can hurt us, we are humans who master it. And this..."

He holds the burning crystal aloft, its purple flame giving an eerie light to the chamber.

He's a child again, showing off the wand he crafted - a complex, three-dimensional prayer diagram carved by hand into a stick of whittled oak - to the Professor and getting a pat on the head as his reward. It's all he ever wanted or needed when he was a child... and he wishes that the closest person he had to a mother could be here right now, to see him finish her great work. To see him tame the inferno that for five millennia has tormented the human species, and make it work for them. A diligent and praiseworthy son, but like most humans, a foolish creature who failed to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor.

"This is the fire of a new age, and its mastery will give birth to the greatest light against the darkness since Wisdom and the Stars!" For a moment, he smiles with joy... and then it falls from his face. His glasses shine dangerously, and he holds the crystal out like a wand, above the golden seal which GnoSYS still projects. "[Invoke Apocrypha]. [Innocence 13:1-3] And from the impure spring she filled a vessel foul waters. Tainted and black, the birds that drew near would drop dead, so mighty was its poisons. Yet when she dipped her cup into the vessel, a prayer of Wisdom on her lips, the water became clean and sweet..."

The shard of black crystal flares in protest against the invocation of apocryphal prayer, its purple flame becoming hotter, brighter, and more intense.

Then the crystal cracks.

With an explosion that throws Doctor White to the ground, the crystal bursts into dust that is caught by the seal. The bright purple fire is gathered into the center, becoming a perfect sphere that roils with energy beneath the surface. Then, a beam of that light shoots towards the sole container, boiling away the bright green media and replacing it with something violet...
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>>5307898

[Analysis: Project Dawn has been completed.] GnoSYS declares, giving a voice for Doctor White's consciousness to cling to. [Resuming neural networking functions. Proposal: Contact Oversight and seek medical assistance immediately.]

There is a crack of glass, followed by the sound of a thick and viscous liquid splashing onto the floor. Doctor white can feel it soak into his skin, and can feel it burn with the fires that he thought to tame with the power of knowledge. A smile runs across his face, even as his body burns in agony, for even if it did not function as expected, Project Dawn worked. He created a vessel in the graven image of a young girl, and filled it with impure waters filtered by prayer. Not the ideal scenario, but he finished the Professor's work. Even if he died from exposure to high levels of BMR here and now...

Doctor White could die happy.

The girl he just created would have a bright future ahead of her. Anabelle really pulled through in getting him that shard to work with as his back-up plan. A fragment of corrupted stellar machinery, from one of the Stars that fell from grace and was then destroyed by Wisdom's Mahou Shoujo. Any member of the inquisition who found her would recognize her potential as a Mahou Shoujo, and she'd receive the best possible training to become a light that stands against the darkness. Just like the Professor wanted...

[Analysis: Primary user unable to formulate response.] GnoSYS, ever helpful, decouples from the main computer and floats towards the manual controls of the bunker. [Conditions have been met for independent function. Preparing to disengage manual overri-]

"Ahhhh, don't do that, Mr. Orb~" a light and sensual voice cuts GnoSYS off. "We need to clean up first..."

"We do, we do!" another voice, matching the first but with greater cheer, agrees. "Mama told us that the mean girls will come and make us go DOKKAN~! if they find a mess like this! We gotta clean first!

[Caution: Vocal patterns indicate Stage 2 Black Mist Contamination Syndrome.] GnoSYS reaches out to the controls with a grasping tool. A sort of metal hand unfolds from its body, with two fingers and a thumb. It presses a button, and then reaches for a lever. [Disengaging contamination shielding in three-]

"Good grief..." A pair of ashen hands that are almost purple reach out from the darkness and grab ahold of the orb. A black flame oozes from its palms and seeps into the orb like tar, causing it to flash red before the light within it comes to match that of the purple flame. The voice matches the other two, though where the first seemed flirty and the second seemed energetic, this one sounds annoyed. "What did I just say, you crummy discount servitor? That won't be necessary for now."
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>>5307903
[Notification: A new primary user has been recognized.] GnoSYS declares. His tone is different than what Doctor White remembers, almost hollow compared to earlier. [Athoa Ierodouli has been granted administrator privileges for the use of this GnoSYS unit. Caution: BMR detectors have suffered critical damage and require repairs. Proposal: Override manual engagement of contamination seals and contact Oversight for immediate exfiltration. The last recorded levels of BMR were in excess of 3.13 gigamysts.]

"I see... disregard that for now," the girl commands GnoSYS. "And get some light in here, would you?"

[Turning on overhead lights...] GnoSYS says with a hollow voice.

"Don't die now, Papa~"

Odd. The pain that had flooded Doctor White's body has gone away, and he doesn't remember when. It's not an unfeeling numbness that replaced it, either, though he does feel weak. He also feels the weight of the body sitting on him before he sees the girl who just called him papa - a word that fills him with joy and dread in equal measure. As the lights come on, he sees three shapes merge into one, or rather two girls fall into another, like syrup falling into a drink and then becoming one with it.

Straddling his waist is the girl he grew from his own blood in the tube, the subject of Project Dawn. Her skin looks like ash mixed with powdered violet, fair and tinged with silvery purple unlike any demon or mutant that he's ever seen. Her body is no less slight than it had been in the tube, though now it's covered by a shameless barrier jacket whose construction somehow reminds him of shackles. A pair of red-tipped horns part her boyish haircut, and a tail snakes from her bottom. It has a mouth at its end, that reminds him of a fangless snake.

"Thank you for creating me, Papa~" she whispers into Doctor White's ear, and he feels something press against his chest and burn. It's a good burn, somehow, one that fills him with youthful vigor. "We're gonna have lots of fun together~...
>>
>>5307906
=End Interlude=

The Fat Dove has come into port on the Island of St. Sophia, and you and Bear join a group of other kids to receive a tour of the campus. Most of them are kinda lame, but one of them stands out...
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
>Oh god this boy is infatuated with you and has vowed to be your eternal protector. Bear, help!
>This energetic pink girl keeps asking you and Bear to pose for her while she uses her Magic to make art of the two of you, it's weird.
>This one guy seems kinda gloomy, but he seems pretty chill for someone with his nose in a book.
>This cheerful mutant girl is pissing you off. Normally, you'd probably appreciate her personality, but isn't she getting a bit too close to Bear?
>This mutant boy with the armored red arm seems cool. Wait, why are a bunch of other girls surrounding him? Oh no, are you... BASIC?
>Oh hey it's the one girl who isn't salivating over how pretty Bear is. She can join the friend group, because she'll know her place.
>>
>>5307908
fuck i wanna choose all of them. therefore im gonna cheat and make my own answer

>This princess-looking girl with big curly hair is pissing you off. Normally, you'd appreciate her personality but she's getting a bit too close to Bear and he's *yours*.
how dare someone else play with parva's toys
>>
>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
Ojou-Sama vs Ojou-Sama! A little competition never had anyone
>>
>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
You know, we are something of an Ojou-sama ourselves.
>>
>>5307908
>>This one guy seems kinda gloomy, but he seems pretty chill for someone with his nose in a book.
>>
>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
Ojou posse time!
>>
>>5307908
>>This mutant boy with the armored red arm seems cool. Wait, why are a bunch of other girls surrounding him? Oh no, are you... BASIC?
>>
>>5307908
>>This one guy seems kinda gloomy, but he seems pretty chill for someone with his nose in a book.
>>
>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
>>
>>5307908
>>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
>>
>>5307908
>This mutant boy with the armored red arm seems cool. Wait, why are a bunch of other girls surrounding him? Oh no, are you... BASIC?
>>
>>5307908
>This mutant boy with the armored red arm seems cool. Wait, why are a bunch of other girls surrounding him? Oh no, are you... BASIC?
>>
>>5307908
>>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
>>
>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
So how long until Parva starts losing it due to being forced to wear clothes in normal society?
>>
>>5308458
I pity her roommate if she will have one, you just know that Parva would be the one who wears the methaphorical pants.
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>>5307908
>Who is this princess-looking girl with big curly hair, and why does she laugh like that?
>>
>>5308481
Her poor roommate is going to have to invest in light blocking curtains if she wants to get any sleep with Parva's censor light.
>>
>>5308481
>>5308523
Plot twist, her roommate is a prude
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>>5308523
She will need sunglasses... now that I think about it, how hard could it be blind somebody with our censor lights?
>>5308531
Considering Parva, I dont think it would do much.
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>>5308762
>how hard could it be blind somebody with our censor lights?
probably pretty easy if its just light what's protecting parva

>I dont think it would do much.
depending on the kind of prude, she might assault parva in a fit of embarrassment or lock her in a room until she gets some clothes on
>>
Going to start on writing updoot. Double Ojou all the way.

>>5308523
Fortunately for whoever you room with, you only shed bright light when you're using the "Clad in Light" variant of your barrier jacket. When you go around "clad in light" normally, Parva is just - as Jaime puts it - nekkid, and circumstance literally contrives itself to censor things from the viewer and other people. Parva could literally walk down a city street in the buff and no one would catch a glimpse of anything important.

>>5308762
Swapping from your Normal Barrier Jacket to your Clad-in-Light Barrier Jacket in a dark room, or transforming into your Clad-in-Light Barrier Jacket in a dim or dark room would probably reduce combat DCs to account for their sudden light-blindness if they aren't expecting it or don't have a counter to it. You wouldn't be able to do it with the contrivance field, as that generally goes for the least obtrusive censor possible (if it's dark enough for that sort of shock, it will just arrange for shadows to fall that making out any detail is impossible, for example).

>>5308784
These are all interesting ideas that may or may not come up at some point.
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>>5308793
>Parva could literally walk down a city street in the buff and no one would catch a glimpse of anything important.
it would be quite a show to see fate bend itself backwards to make that happen
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The last five days of the voyage proceed with a tension so thick in the air that you almost felt like you could take out a butter knife and spread it across your morning toast as a substitute for butter.

It is not without good reason. One of the things the shipbuilder managed to fit within the Fat Dove's expanded space was the ancient and bulky equipment designed to monitor Black Mist Radiance... but the printouts for the day of the Demon Summoning Incident had been found burnt to ash. The Demons and the Black Mist clearly had help from someone to get aboard the boat, but what Jaime managed to find didn't answer the whodunit or the whydunit of the mystery. The trust aboard the ship broke, adding tension to the fear that there might be a follow up attack on the ship by whoever broke Faith and called the Demons from the Cage.

The who could have been anyone. Only you and Bear escaped the occasional suspicious look by one person or another. As a holy maiden, diligent and pure, you stand above reproach. Carrying with you the manifest blessings of Diligence earns you a certain level of trust even among those who have not gotten to know you. Young Bear stands above reproach by association, as he spent the days leading up to the incident learning how to truly pray from you.

Your young age, and the fact that you both killed the demons that had been responsible for bringing in the Black Mist, likely also had a part to play there.

Everyone else had to live with the suspicious glances from people who thought they knew eachother rather well. Even Ivor and Cher got their share of looks, though those who had seen the two fighting the manifestations within the Black Mist refrained. Apparently Shadows had manifested on the main deck, where the wind swirled and caused the fouled fog to congeal into monstrous forms. They joined the other armed crewmen in driving them off with blunderbuss and blade.

Radford might have gotten the most looks from people. Despite being hand crafted by Diligence Himself, his strange appearance and frighteningly deep voice make him a natural magnet for people's suspicions. While he apparently looks no different from the males of the Machine Builders, in the modern day most would look on him as a strange mutant if he was not a golem. You don't suspect him of anything, but thinking on his appearance does leave you with a question that refuses to leave your mind. One that rudely slips from your mouth on the morning of the last day, while he's preparing your clothes.

"Radford, a question for you," you ask through a yawn. You raise one arm up, and stretch your smooth beanstalk body out.

"Yes, young mistress?" Radford asks. He has a distracted tone to his voice as he folds up freshly cleaned laundry and prepares your luggage. On your chair is an acceptable outfit for the day, though it does not bare as much skin to Wisdom's light as you would prefer.

"How did the Machine Builders nurse their children?"
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>>5308985
"I imagine much the same way people do today," Radford answers with a deep rumble of his inhumanly low voice. Between that and the way he moves, and the sheer precision with which he folds your clothes and puts them back within their bags, you're reminded most poignantly that he most certainly is not human. If you weren't used to him by now, he'd almost be uncanny in how close he resembles a human. Which is probably why his existence arouses so much suspicion. "Every species of mammals have mammary glands to feed their young, and humans are no exception. Though, if they needed to, the Machine Builders had several ways of mimicking the nutritional value of a mother's milk to supplement it..."

"Yeah, that's the thing," you say. You bouncing around the strange term of mother's milk in your head - that's only half of it, isn't it? The whole concept of just one parent nursing seems weird to you. "That phrase, could fathers of the Machine Builders not nurse their children?"

"No, they could not," Radford says. His eyebrow arches in amusement as you give him a dumbfounded look. "Now, you may want to get dressed, young mistress. Otherwise, you might miss breakfast."

"How did they bond with their babies, then...?" You say. As you talk, you stand from your bed and take a look at your clothes for today, with only a mild look of distaste on your face. It is a shame that society is not ready for open displays of such pure faith in Wisdom and the Stars Above to protect your virtue. "Sister April said that nursing was very important for parents to bond with their children..."

You dress yourself while talking. A frilled off-white blouse trimmed around the collar with a blue fabric so dark that it verges on the color black gets paired with a skirt whose color matches the trim and whose lace is nice and subdued in comparison to the blouse. A large bow has been sewn into the skirt, rest off the subtle and girlish curve of your hips. You put a pair of ribbons in your hair that match the blouse in color, and your shoes for the day match the skirt's hue. Nothing goes past the elbows or the knees, so you're quite happy with how much light you'll be getting. You nearly forgo the woolen underwear, but Radford returns it to you almost as soon as you throw it away.

"Fishing," he finally answers your question when you put your bloomers on.

"Fishing?" you ask, somewhat nonplussed. What does that have to do with nursing?

"The records which Diligence has given me access to indicate that fishing was indeed the preferred male bonding activity between father and son, young mistress," Radford elaborates, but it really doesn't explain anything further, at least from your perspective. "Records do not paint a clear picture of how the men of the Machine Builders bonded with their daughters."

"Weird," you say with a shake of your head. "Nursing makes things a lot easier, doesn't it?"

"As you say, young mistress."
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>>5308988
You take breakfast in the observation room on the belly of the Fat Dove with Bear. Ivor and Cher are there, but they're entertaining a severe looking woman in a black uniform with silvery trim and a long white cape. The uniform belongs to those who graduated from the Astral Academy's Ranger Program, an elevator directly into state service that tends to pick its candidates for their personalities over their power. The cape, along with the golden skull wreathed by a circle of stars that serves as its clasp, is the mark of an Inquisitor - the agents of the Church tasked with rooting out corruption both mundane and metaphysical, as well as the Vile Heresies that society deems unforgivable.

She came aboard the Fat Dove yesterday evening, aboard a fast schooner that also ferried Lucy to a nearby convent to receive purification and be monitored for any signs of corruption. Poor maid will likely be there for several years to overcome the side effects from her exposure to demons in that way.

"I hope she finds out who did it..." You mumble between small mouthfuls of egg and toast. With the most key evidence destroyed, unless the culprit tries again it will all come down to hearsay, a fact that leaves you a bit melancholic.

"She's a Quistor," Bear seems much confident than you do that justice will be done. "The Quistors always find their mark, otherwise they wouldn't be Quistors, that's a fact."

"Is that right~?" You give Bear a cat like grin, and he squirms beneath your predatory gaze in the most adorable manner that almost makes you want to eat him up! Nom nom nom. No, you need to feed those thoughts to Wisdom's light and stop toying with the boy so much, no matter how fun it is. The idea that the Inquisitor would find the culprit just because of her station is positively precious, though. "Are you going to aim for the Inquisition, then, Bear? How admirable..."

"I mean, maybe..." Bear says, and gives a look towards his parents. A slight frown crosses his face. "I'm not sure mama or dad would approve if I went down the Ranger track, though. I saw dad talk with the emperor once, and I'm pretty sure they hate eachother's guts..."

Bear shudders, and turns so green in the face that you think he's going to vomit.

You quickly look for something to distract him from whatever he's feeling.

"Hey, look!" you point towards the horizon, where an island has begun to peak out from the clouds. Not just any island, the first thing that shows itself as the clouds disperse is the distinctive shape of the Academy's central tower. A grand clock whose arms must each be as long as Radford is tall is the first shape you see beneath the spired roof... and you can hear the bell striking 9 AM from all the way out here. "It's the Astral Tower! We can see the Academy now!"
>>
>>5308989

The Island of St. Sophia soon comes into full view after the top of the Astral Tower pierced the clouds. The central campus dominates the tallest hill on the island, with the outer campuses and the nature preserves taking up the rest of the island's space. It must be at least a dozen times large than the islet that plays home to the 1728th Astral Shrine, probably even moreso. The temple that you called your home for most of your life feels like it would be a mere speck compared to some of the works that you have seen down there - all of them modern in their architecture, without even a foundation of Machine Builder structures upon the island.

The Central Campus is dominated by six grand buildings. At the heart is the Astral Tower, a pentagon shaped tower of dark red bricks that rises to a grand height of three hundred and thirty seven feet. Every teacher in the Astral Academy has an office within the twenty habitable floors of that tower - and, of course, the clock by which the Academy operates can be found at the top, ringing out every hour with the largest bells in the world. Its five faces are high enough that time can be checked from almost every part of the island, if no trees or buildings are in the way.

The other five buildings are the lecture halls, each of them in the shape of a triangle whose shortest side faces the Astral Tower. This is by a design that can be clearly seen from the decks of approaching airships. The inner campus comes together in a grand prayer diagram with the tower at its center, with every building and pathway deliberately placed with mathematical precision. Reading from the outer loop first and following the script from there reveals the verse.

[Wisdom 19:43-50] "Blessed is the teacher who guides their students along the righteous path, for they teach the blind how to truly see. Blessed is the student who unceasingly questions all that they are told, for they are the whetstone that keeps the sword of knowledge sharp. Blessed are the little children brimming with curiosity, for their wonder is the joy of all. Ye blessed shall understand the Light of Wisdom, and it shall be thy shield for all eternity.

The Fat Dove docks alongside many other airships to the east of the inner campus.

You disembark after everyone says their goodbyes. It takes more than a little while for Bear to get done hugging his mother, especially since this must be the first time that he's been away from everything. A part of you wonders if you should have let yourself cry when hugging Sister April before you left... and you quietly feed the uncomfortable feeling that rises in your chest to the Light of Wisdom within your heart. You will have plenty of time to shed happy tears when you see her next.

Which... may be a while. Hopefully, Diligence will allow her some time off to come as your guardian to one of the events that parents get invited to at the Academy. It's a long journey, but... you can hope.
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>>5308991
"Lucy shoulda been here..." Bear grumbles as his parents go aboard his ship. He eyes Radford, who is working with a nervous looking maid on getting your luggage and Bear's luggage off of the ship. Right, Lucy was his personal servant, wasn't she? A dangerous look crosses Bear's face. "I swear, when they find whoever broke Faith, I'm gonna-"

"Feed your anger to Wisdom, Bear," you tell him. When he stares at you in disbelief, you give him a pat on the back and a serene smile. You're a holy maiden, diligent and pure, it would be irresponsible of you to let a good friend be consumed by dark emotions like that. "The demons are dead, and the Quistor will deal with whoever broke Faith. Nothing good will come from stewing on it."

"But I wanna deck 'em in the schnozz," he says... though his glare has morphed into a pout.

"And I wish I was clad in light right now," you say in turn. His face turns a pretty shade of pink when you say those words, and your eyes narrow in a way that some might say is unbefitting of a holy maiden, such as yourself. "After all, I am a shrine maiden. Demonstrating my faith in Diligence and Wisdom and all the other Stars Above is in the job description. What better way to do so than a bold declaration that I am invulnerable even if I walk in their light alone, with nothing else to shield me?"

"Ack-!" Bear coughs and sputters, and turns so red in the face that you wonder if his blood might start to burst from his nose. After a moment, he gets the courage to say something. "...Mr. Cobb was right, you are an exibishonen mist."

"I prefer the term pure maiden," you say, adjusting the bow on your blouse, and maybe getting a bit red in the face yourself. "After all, there is nothing lewd about a pure maiden's naked body. Only a pervert would enjoy such things."

"I'm a guy. Mr. Cobb says we're supposed to be perverts." Who is this and what has he done with your Bear? This is all backwards and wrong, you're supposed to be the one putting him on the back foot here. "Besides, you're really pretty."

"Yes, well, th-that's a given," you say, looking all around for something to get you out of this conversation.

"Ohohohohohoooo~!" a particularly strange sort of laughter echoes through the skydocks, and isn't that just the best way to escape this conversation?

"Oh, hey, I wonder what that girl's laughing at, let's drop this conversation and go take a look!" What is it you find that this errant ojou-sama is laughing at?
>There's a boy with a pompadour lying face-first in the ground, with a mohawked girl and a guy with dredlocks staring on in shock.
>Some girl with twintails is seething at a girl with thick, long curls. The latter is laughing.
>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?
>A mutant boy has prostrated himself before a laughing girl, much to the shock of his companions.
>>
>>5308988
>You bouncing around the strange term of mother's milk in your head - that's only half of it, isn't it? The whole concept of just one parent nursing seems weird to you.
well, that definitely answers a question that i had when the sexual dimorphism issue was brought up. i wonder what other things have changed as well....
>>
>>5308995
>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?
ONE OF US. ONE OF US.
>>
>>5308995
>>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?

Is Bear going to be our roommate?
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>>5308995
>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?
>>
>>5308995
>>There's a boy with a pompadour lying face-first in the ground, with a mohawked girl and a guy with dredlocks staring on in shock.
>>
>>5308995
>Some girl with twintails is seething at a girl with thick, long curls. The latter is laughing.
Sneed-sama, I kneel
>>
>>5308995
>>There's a boy with a pompadour lying face-first in the ground, with a mohawked girl and a guy with dredlocks staring on in shock.
https://youtu.be/rOqrk_zleDs
>>
>>5308995
>>Some girl with twintails is seething at a girl with thick, long curls. The latter is laughing.
>>
>>5308995
>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?
>>
>>5308995
>>Two boys appear to be butting heads over a girl who is very amused at their antics. Could this be... one of your people?
>>
>>5308995
>There's a boy with a pompadour lying face-first in the ground, with a mohawked girl and a guy with dredlocks staring on in shock.
Tough choice between ONE OF US and Sukeban Ojou-sama
>>
>>5308995
>>A mutant boy has prostrated himself before a laughing girl, much to the shock of his companions
>>
>>5308995
>>There's a boy with a pompadour lying face-first in the ground, with a mohawked girl and a guy with dredlocks staring on in shock.
>>
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"Oh, would you look at that, there's something of a commotion going on over there." The words fly out of your mouth as fast as bullets from a machine gun as you point towards the exit of the docks, where a number of students have gathered around. The only thing you can see definitively is a rather tall maid peaking out from the crowd, her dress rather conservative compared to the flashy clothes worn by the maids in attendance on the Fat Dove. You grab Bear's hand and drag him towards the commotion. "Let's continue this conversation never!"

"W-W-Wait!" Bear protests, but you're taller and stronger than him, so despite his attempts to resist being pulled along, he winds up getting dragged behind you anyways. "H-Hold on, there's people there! I hate people, they suck."

"Oh come now Bear, relax," you look back at him with a bright grin on your face. Meeting new people always gets you energized, somehow, and there's nothing better than having all eyes on you. Besides, this sort of thing is what you owe Mr. and Mrs. Dove for your ride aboard their ship - dragging Bear out of his shell whether he likes it or not. "We are all children playing beneath the Light of Wisdom and His Brother Stars. Among the faithful, there should be no difficulty getting along."

"Easy for you to say..." Bear grumbles, giving you a side eyed pout as he decides to stop getting dragged and start walking next to you. His hand grips yours tighter with every step you take towards the gathered crowd, it's adorable. Yes, this is the Bear you know, not that uncharacteristically forward person who had been speaking not a minute ago. "People gotta be nice to a shrine maiden otherwise the Stars'll get mad, and no one wants the Stars ta be mad at them..."

"The Stars desire peace among all the Faithful," you say. You're not so naive to believe in the inherent good in everyone about you - humans are foolish creatures, after all, yourself most of all. But the teachings of Wisdom are a wonderful guidebook to help people be the best they can, so if they Keep Faith... "You need not fear the stranger, for who are they but a friend you've not yet made?"

"I-I'm not so sure about that..." Bear stammers.

When you reach the crowd, his enochlophobia kicks into into overdrive. You whisper sweet words at him, patting him on the head while he shakily clings to you, trying his best to hide in your shadow. None of the other children who've gathered around the scene have tried to attack him or bite him, which you hope will help him get over his fear of crowds. You don't need to peak over anyone's head, as standing at a full height of 152cm, you are nearly a head taller than most of the other children your age.

You realize something a bit belatedly as you see what's going on in the center of the crowd.

Perhaps this wasn't a good place to show Bear that the other kids wouldn't hurt him.
>>
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>>5310256
An amusing scene plays out before you. Well, it amuses your more rotten self, whose thoughts you typically feed to Wisdom as they are so very unbecoming of a holy maiden, diligent and pure, such as yourself. Two well-put-together boys are holding down a lad with a pompadour and leather jacket, binding both of his arms and holding his face to the tiles of the walkway. A girl with fiery fuchsia hair cut into a mohawk looks on in shock next to an angry looking boy who's tucked his hair beneath a pageboy cap. He looks on the verge of jumping in, but a girl in a loose fitting uniform with a long skirt twirls her baseball bat, almost daring him to try anything.

Overlooking it all is a girl in a doll-like blue dress worn over a white blouse whose buttons have been undone to show off the fact that she's quite the early bloomer. A blue ribbon that matches her dress sits atop her head, and her hair falls just past her shoulders in thick, bountiful curls. A certain amusement twinkles in her eyes, a mirror of the emotions that you feel when you pull on Bears strings with your charms and get him to show off for you.

Could this girl... be one of your [people]?

"Lady Claudia, we have subdued this... ruffian who dared to lay hands up you," one of the boys holding the fellow with the pompadour down looks up at the blue haired girl with adoration. Well-put-together is an understatement, the boy wears a three piece gunmetal suit that seems to be cut for a wide range of motion, with a intricate, leaf patterned tie about his neck.

"Surely you jest, Karl?" the other boy holding down the so-called-ruffian gives the first a smirk. Where Karl is the picture of an elegant gentleman, this boy looks a bit more wild. Like the blue-haired girl, he's an early bloomer and has decided to flaunt it. Beneath his perfectly fitted navy blue suit, he wears a bright and flashy flower-pattern shirt designed from the get-go to show off his cleavage. "I was the one who subdued this fool for daring to threaten Claudia. You only jumped in once you knew you wouldn't get any mud on your shoes."

"Tch," Karl clicks his tongue in annoyance, glaring at the other boy. "As I recall, you were on your last legs before I joined the fight, Mikhail."

"Hah!" the wild-haired red-head named Mikhail barks with laughter. "I could've gone all day..."

The boy being held to the ground growls as the two of them ignore his squirming. "Will you faggots stop flirtin' and let me go? I was just givin' that bitch a message from the bo-OWWWW! By the light my fuckin' arm!"

"Call me what you will," Karl growls. His blue eyes shine dangerously from beneath his blonde bangs. "But disrespect towards Lady Claudia will not be tolerated."

"Yeah," Mikhail agrees. "What Karl said."
>>
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>>5310257
"Ah, it's so lovely to see the two of you getting along so well," the blue haired girl - presumably Lady Claudia - says with a wave of her fan. You definitely recognize that look in her eyes, she definitely loves seeing those two compete against one another for her affections. You can't blame her, if you didn't feed all of those unbecoming thoughts to Wisdom's Light... well, you already like playing with Bear, if you had two boys hanging off your every word... "But I think I'd like to hear the message from this one's boss."

"Ah, see, it's real simple," the boy on the ground says through a mouthful of broken tiles. "The boss heard the Great Claudia of St. Mackenzie's Secondary was comin' to the Astral Academy, and he wanted me ta give you a warnin' to stay off his turf."

"Hooooooo...?" Claudia's eyes gleam with a scarlet twinkle.

As if suddenly give cue, the crowd around the group disperses, as if every single one of them had the same thought at once. The amusements of the fight are over, now's the time to go about the day as normal, as if nothing weird happened. You can feel a thrumming note of Leave in your heart, but you feed it to the Light of Wisdom. Compared to what the Demons brought to bear to bring you under their spell, an unsubtle psychic push is nothing. You simply maintain your serene and priestly bearing while Bear hides in your shadow, staring at the dispersing crowd in confusion.

"Onee-sama wants you to leave," the girl with the baseball bat stopped watching over the girl in the mohawk and the boy with the cap when they left with the rest of the crowd. You won't say she's ugly, but she's got the face of a thug who's taken a few blows before. She seems a bit perplexed at what to do, as you might be the only other girl her age who's as tall as her. "I ask you to do this politely, before I make you do this, capiche?"

"Ah, Isebella, there's no need for that~" Claudia says.

"If you say so, onee-sama," the girl twirls her bat and gets out of your personal space.

"I do..." Claudia fans herself, looking down at the pompadour boy. He's very confused as to why the crowd just dispersed. With a sigh, Claudia reaches her hand out to her maid... who wordlessly gives her a cigarette, and lights it. She takes a puff, and snaps her eyes to you just as she snaps her fan closed. "You're not going to interfere with this poor boy's attempt to deliver his message, are you, friend~?"
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>Quote scripture at her. Should the Faithful really be fighting like this?
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. It is not your place to interfere, but surely she will not mind you providing medical assistance if the message goes south?
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. You really can't let someone get beaten up in front of you, can you?
>Remain silent.
>Leave.
>Write in.
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
but woe befall to anyone that dares to shoot the messenger. it would be a shame to summon radford from whatever butler-y duty he's doing right now
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>>
>>5310261
>>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. You really can't let someone get beaten up in front of you, can you?
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>>
>>5310261
>>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
>Although, if your lapdogs fail to behave themselves, I may change my mind.
As a caveat, I think we should step in if her thugs start beating up the kid again.
>>
>>5310565
i think that's the implication we're going for. we won't mingle into paltry affairs like this, but we still have a duty and a moral compass
>>
>>5310261
>Quote scripture at her. Of course not, messengers are blessed, after all.
Ah child gang wars, least we know school will be interesting
>>
>>5310261
>>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. You really can't let someone get beaten up in front of you, can you?
>>
>>5310261
>>Quote scripture at her. Should the Faithful really be fighting like this?
>>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. It is not your place to interfere, but surely she will not mind you providing medical assistance if the message goes south?
>>
Giving a note here that I'm going to be pushing today's update to tomorrow. Vote will continue until I start the update.
>>
>>5310261
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. You really can't let someone get beaten up in front of you, can you?
>>
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"[Diligence 14:18-28] And I shall give to the diligent and faithful messenger my blessing, for with every letter he bears he carries with him a fragment of the holy WORD. May the wind be ever at his back, may he be carried through the raging storm swiftly and safety, and may his heart and his legs never fail him before his will. For his task is holy and pure."

As a daughter of Diligence's teachings, you can quote his book of the Librum Stellaris without the need for a reference. You do it with a practiced smile, mimicking Sister April's serenity when she had to deal with a difficult child. That you were usually that stubborn child then does not stop you from appearing to be the very image of a holy woman now - even without your habit. After all... you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and you refuse to allow yourself to lose in a battle of elegance to some wannabe mafia princess. If only Radford was not busy dealing with your luggage, so you had an imposing butler in your shadow to offset the pretty, cowering introvert clinging to your skirts.

You will need to work on helping Bear earn his balls later.

For now, you finish your scripture recitation, as both you and Lady Claudia know that the verses you called out do not end there. "And woe be unto the man who drives a knife into the faithful messenger, or sees him beaten, battered, and bruised as he carries out his work. For that knife is not driven into the flesh of a man, but into the light of the STARS. And swift and vengeful is their wrath."

The silence that follows your words is so thick that you could take a butter knife and spread it on your toast.

Bear stares up at you in horror, because he knows what you just said. The boys on the ground - both the "gentlemen" and the thuggish lad with the pompadour - look up at you in confusion, for it's clear that none of them know their scripture. The girl with the baseball bat narrows her eyes at you, as she can tell that you said something that she should be mad at, but isn't exactly sure what you said that offends her. Lady Claudia take an awful long drag of her cigarette, before exhaling a fluttering butterfly of smoke.

She drops the cigarette to ground, and then stamps it out with a forceful kick of her feet. On her face, you can see the sort of expression you might get when looking at something unpleasant, like a cockroach or a demon.

Then she snaps open her fan and laughs.

"Ohohohohoho~!" her girlish laughter peals like the morning bell. It's hardly an unpleasant sound, though it sounds a bit strange coming from a girl with such a predatory gleam in her eyes. Her smile as she flutters her fan reminds you of a wolf's. "Oh, I do think I like you! I'm not sure what I expected to hear, but the Librum Stellaris was not one of them, let alone a text as neglected as the Book of Diligence. Would you happen to be an altar girl, or perhaps an aspiring deaconess?"
>>
>>5312572

"I am but a humble shrine maiden, diligent and pure," you explain using the words that Diligence taught you. You dip into as low a curtsy as the skirt you're wearing will allow without showing off the fact that you ditched your hideously itchy woolen bloomers as soon as Radford was too busy to throw them back at you. "Until now, I've tended to the 1728th Astral Shrine under the guidance of a Sister from the Church of Holy Wisdom. But the Light of Diligence has guided me hear, that I may bring glory to His Holy Name... and that of His Brother Wisdom."

The expression on Karl and Mikhail's faces when they hear your words are almost as delicious as the expressions Bear makes when you pull the rug out from under him. Isabella as well has an amusing expression, something like a fish caught outside of water, until it turns into suspicion.

To her credit, Claudia only looks like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar for a moment.

"Well, it's always lovely to make the acquaintance of a holy Childe," she says after skipping only a single beat. Her fanning of her face picks up a bit in tempo as she quickly thinks through her next words. After less than a heartbeat, she returns your curtsey. "I am the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon, Claudia Natalia fon Widdelsbach. Might I have honor of knowing your name, Childe Shrine Maiden?"

"G-G-G-Grand Duchess?" Bear stammers, suddenly even more terrified of the people he finds himself among. Claudia seems a bit too pleased at his reaction... and yes, from the way her lips curl, she's caught on to your irritation with that fact as well. He clings to your back and hides his face, to such a point that you can barely hear him mumble to himself. "At her age? Th-th-that means she's a p-p-p-p-p-pri-"

He can't finish the word, and it's honestly probably not all that important.

You dig through your memory to recall how best to deal with nobles of more than modest standing.

"Oh, the honor is mine, Claudia." You decide to show off a bit and switch to High Gaulic, a dialect favored by the educated and the nobility. As a member of the Clergy, you stand parallel with the nobility, and thus are not required by courtesy to use honorifics, though it is sort of expected. You get another delicious reaction from Claudia's posse, but from the Grand Duchess herself you only get an amused twinkle in her eye. "This humble Childe is named Parva Symphonia.

"'Tis splendid to meet you, Parva," Claudia performs her own subtle breach of etiquette while still remaining polite, dropping your honorific of Childe. Well, as a holy maiden, diligent and pure, you are largely unconcerned with such things, so you take her hand when she offers it. "Might I ask the name of the boy who seems to be hiding behind you skirt?"

"That, I believe, is up to him," you reply, keeping a serene smile on your face.
>>
>>5312579
"Uh... um... that is..." Bear stammers out, switching from Anglic to High Gaulic and back again in nervousness. He looks like a dear in the headlights, and you certainly would have loved the expression he's making if you were the one making him do it. This Claudia should learn to keep her hands off of your things... and what's this expression she has, that all but shouts "sharing is caring~" to the world? Talk about entitled, some things aren't meant to be shared! Oh, Bear's swallowed his nervousness. "I am Bear E. Dove, your highness."

"Charmed," Claudia seems a bit bored by his response, lazily taking his hand and giving it a shake. Somehow, this seems irritate Isabella. "I shall give you special permission to call me Lady Claudia, as you are a friend of Parva's."

"Ah, th-thank you, Lady Claudia," Bear says. Oh, good, he's not hiding behind you anymore!

Wait, that might be a bad thing. Isabella's expression shifts subtly, her eyes widening into saucers and her expression turning into this gloomy and furious stare that's been directed at Bear. The poor boy freezes in place, and before he can blink the only other girl you've met who's as tall as you is looming over him. Staring down at him with blank, soulless eyes, and you can feel the utter contempt rolling off of her. She starts muttering something in Low Gaulic that sounds like a string of curses, spoken so low that you'd miss it without your power over sound.

"Know your place you lowly trash heap commoner how dare a worm like you take an advantage of onee-sama's special permission that she only gave you out of pity because you're a trembling garbage roach who can barely speak a proper dialect and doesn't deserve share the same air as onee-sama now show some proper respect and get down on your rotten knees and beg for her mercy which she'll give to you because onee-sama is the nicest kindest most beautiful person in the world and you're just a worm who should disappear from her sight and if you don't do that right now I bash your ungrateful head i-"

Before you have a chance to burst Isabella's eardrums with your sound, a thwack fills the air.

"Onee-sama...!" Isabella rubs her head at the spot where Claudia's fan struck her, broken cleanly out of whatever that was. "He was-"

"-given special permission from me to call me that, understood, Bella~?" Claudia taps her fan against Isabella's chest, and there's nothing the girl can do but meekly accept Claudia's words. Once her minion is properly brought to heel, she turns to the two boys piled on the thuggish lad. There's a twinkle in her eye. "Well, Karl, Mikhail... I believe I said I wanted to here the boy's message in its entirety... and Childe Parva just reminded us of what the Stars Above think of those who obstruct a messenger in their task."
>>
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>>5312584

No longer rooted in place by Isabella's glare, Bear quickly shrinks back behind you. Claudia gives you a look that you can tell means sharing is caring, and... aha. You see, you understand what she means by that now, she is truly one of your [people]. Though you still don't intend to share your Bear with her anymore that you expect she wants to share her "Bella~" with you. Oho, though you may need to ask her for pointers, later, during some girl talk, yes. And... if she wants to share her Karl and Mikhail with you, well who are you to tell her no?

"Indeed, indeed..." you give a solemn nod, holding your hands together in an imitation of how Sister April holds her second pair of hands throughout the day. "Lady Claudia understands the meaning of the passage quite well. The diligent messenger on his task pleases the Stars Above, and those who stand in such a messenger's way displease them greatly."

"Ya mooks hear that?" the thuggish lad says, his Anglic dialect rather thick. "The priest girl and ya boss tolds ya, get ya mitts off me!"

"Lady Claudia is not our boss, cretin," growls Mikhail, his wild hair beginning to glow at the insult.

"Indeed," Karl's tone matches Mikhail's. "She is my fiance-"

"For now!" Mikhail declares. "I'm her childhood friend and a better match to boot."

"All the same - Karl, Mikhail, please let him go," Claudia says. Wait, where did the stern, chain smoking mafia-princess girl go, anyways? Claudia has turned up the saccharine charm so high that no trace of so-called 'Great Claudia of St. Mackenzie's Secondary' can be found. Not even the subtle scent of a menthol cigarette's smoke. "I'm quite interested in hearing out the full message. Certainly, Bobby could have just sent a letter if he wanted to tell me to back off, rather than send Lightning McQueen himself."

"All the more reason we should-" Karl starts, but then Claudia cuts him off with a snap of her fan. With a sigh, he let's up on the boy, standing back up - not a single speck of dust on his suit. "Very well, Lady Claudia."

"You're lucky Lady Claudia's so nice," Mikhail gets in another growl before he stands up and lets the pompadour wearing fellow - "Lightning McQueen", apparently - go. "Otherwise, I'd have given you a thrashing."

"Yeah, you an' everyone else the boss sends me ta talk to, Mikky," McQueen says as he stands. His words earn him a glare, but he shrugs them off as he dusts off his jacket. Stretching himself out, he continues as if he didn't have three incredibly hostile people glaring at him. "Now, as for the boss's full message, it went a little something like... shoot, how did it go... right!"

With a crack of thunder, he's suddenly next to Claudia with his fist pulled back and crackling with a blue bolt of lightning held in his hands.

"Like this!" He shouts, his eyes wild and his face split into a feral grin. "[Jupiter's Spear]!"
>>
>>5312591

Thunder roars.

Neither Karl nor Mikhail have the reflexes to react to the sudden movement of the thuggish lad with the pompadour. His speed without a barrier jacket makes you wonder how fast he might be when it's been manifested.

Isabella moves to crack the pompadour-wearing thug over the head, but McQueen's fist is faster than even her fleet feet and her baseball bat. At the speed of lightning, he swings with a furious and inelegant blow. It's not the graceful punch of a martial artist who has hones their technique over a thousand swings. Nor is it the precise and nimble blow of the boxer in the ring, whose sport is elegance and violence intertwined into a dance. No, McQueen's blow is the wretched and crude haymaker of a brawler, throwing all his weight behind it for power while telegraphing the attack from miles away.

Anyone in a barrier jacket could have easily dodged it, as while they might not have had the speed of lightning, they would be able to see it coming. Few could keep up with it without their barrier jackets raised, and the best case scenario would be being sent to the hospital for a while. A bolt of lightning carried by a fist moving at super-sonic speeds will do that to someone. The worst case, Claudia's head would pop like a grape and McQueen would be heading to prison - or worse, considering that she's a high ranking noble - so that his boss could prove a point.

The blow impacts Claudia with enough force to kick up a dust cloud.

Meaning that Claudia's head most certainly did not pop like a grape. Something that McQueen seems more than a little surprised by.

"Hooooooooooooo...?" Claudia's face hasn't budged. McQueen didn't even manage to squish her soft and girlish cheeks with his lightning-enhanced blow. He did manage to bring forth a discoloration where his fist struck her, though it doesn't look like an electrical burn. At the point of impact, her skin turned into a shiny, steely blue. Her eyes look terribly excited as she looks past McQueen and straight at you. "I almost felt that one! Today's full of surprises... Parva, my new friend. Should I hear out the rest of his 'message', or...?"
>Quote the next line in the passage that you quoted earlier. The part about Faithless Messengers.
>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits.
>You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. It is not your place to interfere between a messenger and its recipient... nor influence the response.
>There is a way where everyone can save some face... and stay out of trouble when people notice what's going on. Why, an impromptu sparring match might be fun!
>"Whatever you do, I'm taking my Bear and leaving."
>Write In
>>
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>>5312596
>Quote the next line in the passage that you quoted earlier. The part about Faithless Messengers.
oh well, he broke the NAP. he's all yours, claudia.

also, damn, the librum stellaris has at least 10,001 books? that's a lot.
>>
>>5312596
>Quote the next line in the passage that you quoted earlier. The part about Faithless Messengers.
Dude sucker punched our new friend.
That is not nice.
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>>5312596
>>"Whatever you do, I'm taking my Bear and leaving."
>>
>>5312596
>>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits
>>
>>5312596
>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits.
Moderating influence, ho.

Also decreeing our alignment at this point still seems a little rash, especially because the intended target of the rest of the verse would have it go over their head.

We at least seem to have made a friend, it's probably wise to council cation and restraint since this is likely intended to feel out Claudia's response and fish for info and the techniques of her followers, reducing what they have to go off is probably a good idea since someone somewhere is probably observing the "delivery" of the message.

Since it should allow for a proper response to be formulated at a later time instead of on the fly, and serve her / us better in the long run counseling cation and restraint seems like the best thing to do.
>>
>>5312596
>>"Whatever you do, I'm taking my Bear and leaving."
>>
>>5312596
>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits.
Don’t want to burn a potential bridge with this Bobby character so we can learn why they view Claudia as such a threat to essentially try to assassinate her.
Speaking of Claudia, I guess the mental command probably came from Isabelle since she has metal or hardening abilities.
>>
>>5312596
>>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits.
>>
>>5312596
>>Quote the next line in the passage that you quoted earlier. The part about Faithless Messengers.
Forgiveness is gay
>>
>>5312596
>Quote scripture at her. Specifically, on forgiveness and its merits.
Hey Headmaster, you mind going over the different dialects?
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>>5312716
personally i don't think there is someone else watching this, because kachow over here basically attempted regicide, but that's some good logic you got there, and as much as i hate to admit it, you're right. better to let him go and have them fearing for the moment claudia strikes back than to do it right now.

>>5312849
from what mcqueen said, his boss is just trying to intimidate claudia from trying to take control over his territory >>5310261
>"Ah, see, it's real simple," the boy on the ground says through a mouthful of broken tiles. "The boss heard the Great Claudia of St. Mackenzie's Secondary was comin' to the Astral Academy, and he wanted me ta give you a warnin' to stay off his turf."
somehow this ended up as attempted regicide, but you know, kids are gonna be kids.
>>
Lol my trip is too complicated to put on, that's what I get for looking for a custom one instead of one that's easy to enter.

>>5313068
Sure. There are more, but...

Anglic is the trade Dialect that is more or less a turboslut of a language that's gotten a piece of every single Dialect out there. It steals words from any Dialect that has a word for something that it doesn't, and most everyone can speak a smattering of it if they're expected to interact with people from other lands. It's generally considered rude among the Nobility, but even they use it during business with the commons. Churches in major cities have a mass in this Dialect every Sunday for people who don't speak the local dialect.

Low Gaulic is the Dialect spoken by the masses and commonly by Nobility in the region that Claudia and her friends are from. It's considered a polite Dialect - being less of a slag than Anglic when it comes to word origins - and is closely related to High Gaulic.

High Gaulic is a Dialect that, like modern French, pretends its nice and virginal and pure despite being the bastard child of the Dialect spoken by a Warlord whose forces raped and pillaged their way across the region where it is currently spoken, and the Dialect of the once proud and decadent empire they simultaneously erased, assimilated, and claim to be heir to. Claudia's family is thus unfamithably based, because not only are they completely unapologetic for conquering that empire whose cities were in decline, but they happily apropriate its culture and accomplishments. Doubly so because the Empire they conquered (and the Empress the warlord dethroned and made first among his wives) was so decadent and out of touch with the masses that the Stars were like "OK. We'll allow this. Y'all dun goofed." High Gaulic is the polite Dialect used in the modern High Mass, as well as the Dialect spoken formally by the Nobility in the region Claudia and her friends are from.

>>5312849
The command was actually Claudia's family magic, an authority separate from any of her Magical Girl abilities.

>>5313131
McQueen had information that Parva did not. Namely, he knew she was tough enough that his punch wouldn't kill her even without Ascension. He was still shocked that she basically "NANOMACHINES, SON'D" something he thought was going to send her flying.
>>
>>5313134
so there are other forms of magic/power that aren't related to the stars and the demons? that's interesting to know
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>>5313131
Makes me wonder if we could cause Mc Queen's inner ear to resonate to throw of his balance / make him keep throwing up.
Or knock him unconscious via vibrating his braincase for a bit.

>>5313134
Would Claudia's shielding be or would have been, if we've missed the opportunity a valid candidate for a using a Copycat charge now that we've seen it used?
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>>5313297
>Makes me wonder if we could cause Mc Queen's inner ear to resonate
probably. parva was planning to knock out isabella via a direct hit to her eardrums, so at least we know its possible
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>>5313307
I guess its "ultimate" utility comes down to if it requires physical contact, and if it could be sustained should we move away from the target.

I get it having a probably short range (if any) since it could straight up invalidate melee characters against us, since it could be applied to two of the five senses(sight and hearing) and have easily catastrophic effects applied to almost any other organ.
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>>5312596
>Quote the next line in the passage that you quoted earlier. The part about Faithless Messengers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhMsboqMMzs
Now I'm pumped up
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>>5313340
i guess so, although i feel the ability is hampered more by parva's (lack of) skill than range itself
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>>5313134
Confirming that this was, in fact, me. Also noting no update because my sleep schedule got fucked by the timing of the last update.

>>5313224
I would not say that her voice of command was unrelated to the Stars - if anything, I would say it's more related to the Stars than her magical powers. While Ascension requires the use of a Lapis, it ultimately is related to one's own aptitude and potential with magic. The thing she used to scatter the crowd, on the other hand, is a manifestation of her family's Divine Right to Rule. Which they received as a blessing for cleaning out the corrupt and decadent empire and maintaining a just and pious rule, or so they like to say. They're certainly doing something right, as the Stars haven't abandoned them like they abandoned the previous dynasty.

>>5313297
Both of the current options that are leading, at least, will result in Parva's sharingan copying both Claudia's shielding and McQueen's blitz. It will not be nearly as strong as either of them, but you'll have them as an option.

>>5313307
>>5313340
>>5313459
Note that using her powers like that is also something that's not guaranteed to work. Parva definitely wanted to burst Bella's eardrums, but even outside of Ascension, someone with the potential to Ascend is a bit tougher than normal. Even if she did deafen Bella like that, it probably wouldn't have knocked her out - just redirected her anger from Bear to Parva. Attempting to do something that would require that much precision to someone in a Barrier Jacket (or a Demon that has similar levels of protection) would probably end up in a no-sell unless you're using a frequency that has a conceptual advantage against something (like 111 hz fucking up Demons because it's the Blessed Frequency).

That said, learning to do some of the stuff you're describing would make for a hell of a crowd control against ordinary rioters and mundane thugs. Though no one in the Astral Academy would be a Mundane Thug.
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>>5313896
how big is The kingdom of kyknon? i assume the "size" of it changes depending on the air currents of any given day, but bear and claudia make it sound that its at least as big as any european country at the very least
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>>5313896
Update wen
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Even if his punch ultimately amounted to nothing, the ease at which this McQueen boy broke faith and turned his fists and fury upon one who showed him mercy does not sit well with you. The Librum Stellaris tells of what should be done to faithless backstabbers in great and gorey detail. It warns the Faithful of how low man can sink, when so convinced of his own righteousness that he abandons his honor and dignity to achieve his ends at any costs. The punishments for breaking faith in such a manner - beyond the scorn of Wisdom and the Stars Above, itself a dire fate indeed - are proscribed in great detail in the Book of Prudence.

[Prudence 27:18-26] The man who spits upon a merciful face in arrogance or in deceit shall be given punishment in kind, for their hearts do not truly know the WORD. Should he cast his eyes away and pretend that no mercy was given unto him, then may all eyes be cast away from him until he prostrates himself before his savior. If he returns a gentle hand up with a blow, then may that blow be returned unto him a thousand times again to remind him of his sin. And should he keep a deceitful heart and hold a knife against the time when the merciful is weak, then may his eyes be plucked out and his skin flayed and his body left still living as fresh meat for the crows. For his nature is that of a traitor, and no treason should the Faithful abide.

The Book of Diligence as well, tells what must be done to the faithless messenger, for they have tainted their holy task.

But if the blow was the message, then can he be called faithless when he successfully delivered it? Perhaps the Book of Temperance can lend its wisdom.

"[Vigilance 46:9-10] So Brevin took the assassin Fionn before his liege lord's throne and said 'Behold, my lord! We found this knife in the dark, your rival's coin in his purse. What would you have done with him?'" You quote an apocryphal book, the Book of Vigilance, whose wisdom came through the stories of ancient heroes. While outside the modern canon, it none-the-less has wisdom to provide. "The pious lord looked up the assassin and said: 'This man has not broken the Faith. He shall be treated as any other Faithful son or daughter in this house - as an honored guest!'"

McQueen, his hand still buried in Claudia's unmoving cheek, stares at you in confusion. "Beg pardon, wot?"

"You would have my Claudia forgive this ruffian?" Karl snarls, outrage upon his face.

"Your Claudia?" Mikhail laughs, tossing Karl a sideline glance before glaring at McQueen. "That's almost as funny a joke as letting this one walk away."

"You..." Bella's reaction is perhaps the worst of the lot. She snaps towards you, an empty hatred in her blank, black eyes that smolder in contempt. Her every breath becomes a non-stop string of curses. "Unforgivable trash priestess back the fuck off who asked you for your shitty advice onee-sama should just kill murder break every pest she can see-"
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>>5314952
"Uh, Parva...?" Bear clings to you in a lovely way the moment that Bella's expression shifts. His arms wrap around your own, holding you tightly and drawing your forearm into the softness of his gently budding breasts. If pissing Bella off gets you rewarded like this, you'll have to figure out a way to keep her mad at you without Bear losing his cute reaction to her glares. "I don't like the way she's holding that bat..."

You look past the seething Bella - something that infuriates her even more - and look straight at Claudia.

The look on her face confirms it. Claudia is without a doubt one of your [people].

"Where does the unforgivable trash priestess think she's looking at onee-sama with her worthless eyes that don't deserve to spend even a fraction of a second behold onee-sama's unparalleled grace and beauty someone should just pluck those eyes out of her wretched skull and grind them up into a sausage meat and feed it to the dogs because such disgusting perverted eyes of a trash priestess would taste even more disgusting than a hundred writhing live cockroaches that she's even lower than and should be burnt away with a pest control spell like the bug she-"

As she glares at you with the same hatred one might have for a particularly disgusting insect that she found upon her favorite dress, you learned something interest. She seems to be so gone to whatever emotions are running through that head of hers that she doesn't notice that you ruptured her eardrums and caused them to start bleeding. Karl and Mikhail are torn between staring at you in horror for manipulating sound like that, and staring at her in shock for the fact that she doesn't seem to notice.

"Bella~!" Claudia snaps her fan closed, and Bella's gloomy glowering immediately ends. "I need you."

"Onee-sama~!" With bright eyes and - did she just manifest a figment of lilies to wreathe her head like a halo - she turns to Claudia. With almost casual indifference, she grabs McQueen's arm and throws him towards Karl and Mikhail. The three of them go down like bowling pins. "What do you need~?"

"Oh, Bella~" Claudia smiles warmly at her dear friend, patting her on the shoulder. "Can you lean down here for a minute, I need to tell you something!"

"Of course, onee-sama~!" Bella leans down until her head is just around Claudia's level. She smiles with her eyes closed, and honestly looks like she's ready to receive a kiss. "What do you need to tell me~?"

"Haha, you should know already~!" Claudia pulls her head back and away from Bella, her expression not changing from her sweet smile. "It's the same thing I told you when you threw a fit about my engagement with Karl. To shut the fuck up and go to sleep~!"
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>>5314957
Without a single change in her expression, Claudia's forehead turns to the same blue steel that it did when McQueen punched her with his [Jupiter Spear]. Bella does not seem to notice - or maybe it might be better to say that she doesn't seem to care, because her eyes twinkle for a moment as Claudia winds up. Discretely, your eyes flash with the colors of the rainbow, borrowing that little trick from Claudia.

Then, with all of her might, Claudia then headbutts Bella. Had her forehead not been turned to steel, it would have looked like an affectionate gesture, a bit of playful roughhousing between girls. No worse than being in the locker room and comparing one's growth with her friends, that sort of skinship.

With a steel forehead, though, there's a sickening sound of cracking bone.

With a dazed smile on her face, Bella collapses to the ground, her forehead red and bloody.

"But onee-sama~" Bella complains, her voice weak as the light dims from her eyes. "Karl-chii doesn' deserve you... and Parva-chii is a devious bitch..."

"What the heck is wrong with you!" Of all people, Bear shouts at Claudia. She reaches to her maid again, and receives another cigarette and a fresh light. You can't help but feel a happy emotion in your chest to see him display some big brass balls... but then, wait. He's getting mad because something happened to another girl. Did he like her verbal abuse? "She was psycho, but you can't... you just... what the heck! Is that how nobles are supposed to act? Just... killing their friends when they piss them off."

Claudia takes a long drag of her cigarette, and then looks at you and the dazed looking McQueen - whose arms are now being held by Karl and Mikhail to prevent another lightning punch. "Parva, do you want to tell your cute little teddy Bear... or should McQueen? He knows..."

You think about it for a moment, and then nod. It certainly explains why she could just shrug off the deleterious effect of having her ears messed with. Which is kind of a shame, as it takes a lot of concentration to control your sound with such precision.

"She'll regenerate, Bear," you tell him, and Bear stares at you in disbelief. You point to Bella's 'corpse', which already has her wounds stitching back together. "See? She's already getting better."

"That's still..." Bear looks a bit queasy.

"Right, well, if you all are done, I think I'll be goin'," McQueen tries to shrug out of Karl and Mikhail's grasp, only for the two boys to flash him a smug grin. The thuggish looking lad sighs, and his hands crackle. "Hey, if you boys think you can stop me without the psycho-bitch, well I'd love to see you try..."

"Tch, I don't like it, but my Claudia's has different plans," Karl states. Lines of mana trace his limbs as he engages some sort of reinforcing magic. "You'll be staying a while."

"But don't you forget..." Mikhail growls. McQueen stares at him, mouthing a wordless question. "She's my childhood friend!"
>>
>>5314961
"What the fuck..." McQueen sighs, staring not at either of them, but at you. "Why do I get the feelin' that this is your fault...?"

Well, he wouldn't be wrong.

Claudia is one of your [people], so of course she understood the Pious Lord's purpose in keeping the assassin Fionn as an honored guest. The failure of the assassin to kill the lord, and his good treatment after being captured painted a suspicious picture for Fionn's own liege. It drove a wedge between them, and forced Fionn's liege to treat his right hand as a potential traitor who could leak information to his rival.

The prophecy then fulfilled itself. Fionn became sick of being suspected, and so he forswore his oaths and became the humble blade in the dark for his previous lord's foe...

"Hooooooooooo...?" Claudia takes another drag from her cigarette, a wordless question coming out of her mouth. Her smile is a bit too wide as she looks at McQueen, wide enough to send shivers down the spines of the two boys who actually like her. McQueen does his best to stand tall and proud, though his concern is apparent on his face. "I suppose your feelings aren't wrong. Parva did give me a wonderful idea... Mara, can you prepare us some tea and snacks?"

"I've already prepared one of the tables out by the scenic overlook, my lady." For the first time since you've seen here, the maid speaks. Her eyes don't open, but she speaks. "If you would like to relocate, everything is set out."

"Splendid! Do carry Bella for me, it would be a shame if she woke up and missed snacks." Claudia claps her hands, and Mara picks up Bella. With a bright and friendly smile, Claudia turns to you, her blue curls bouncing happily. "Will you join us as well, Parva? Bear?"
>I'm afraid I must be going. Orientation is soon.
>Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
>What do you think, Bear?
>You're not going to headbutt us if we don't, are you?
>You're going to headbutt us if we don't, aren't you?
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>>5314965
>Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
how can we say no to such delightful invitation?

what a beautiful and equally terrifying friendship is budding here.
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>>5314713
The Grand Duchy of Planetes Kyknon is an archipelago of tropical-to-temperate islets with a Mediterranean-like climate that is roughly the size of the Cyclades islands. It is not a Grand Duchy by size, but rather by tradition, as it the title of it Grand Duke or Grand Duchess is always held by the Crown Prince or Princess of the Greater Bayernan Imperium - which is all-together roughly the size of the Carolingian Empire at its largest extent in terms of total landmass. Most of that landmass is locked up in five primary islands, the smallest of which is roughly the size of England and Ireland combined.

There are a LOT of islands that have looser connections to the empire which together account for about a quarter of its total landmass - about two thirds are in the main islands, and the rest is in their closer orbiters. Those ones are more or less "you swear fealty to the Imperium, pay some taxes, don't make the Widdelsbach come over there, and the Imperium will back you up".

The five main islands have a loosely shared culture that is very Northern Eurasian/arctic circle, and range from Nordic-esque to Ainu/Northern Japanese-esque in terms of ethnic/cultural breakdown. Most people in the core islands have fair skin, dark hair, and a range of North Eurasian features, with a deep blue being the most common (black is a close second, Light Blue number 3, Blonde number 4). The blue hair comes from the tribe of barbarians that conquered the previous empire that occupied the lands there.

Light blue hair like Claudia's is seen as a sign of nobility, as the Repentant Empress's only child with the conquering warlord had that hair color. This has some religious significance, as before the old empire fell and she rediscovered the Faith in her heart, there were rumors that she had drank so much of the Blood Tea (a contraceptive) that her body could not bring life into the world, only base pleasure. Thus, the birth of the First Emperor of Widdelsbach Dynasty was seen as a miracle sent by Wisdom as a reward for her repenting of her sins.

Wisdom has nothing to say on the matter beyond "that woman had a wilder youth than was healthy".
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>>5314965
>>You're going to headbutt us if we don't, aren't you?
Bella has the simp energy dialed up to 1000%
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>>5314965
>Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
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>>5314965
>>I'm afraid I must be going. Orientation is soon.
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>>5314965
>Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
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>>5314965
>>What do you think, Bear?
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>>5314965
>You're not going to headbutt us if we don't, are you?
>Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
A little bit of playful sarcasm to lighten the mood. I wonder how much damage Bella could take before her regen couldn't keep up
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>>5314965
> Orientation can wait. I can't say no to snacks.
Bella’s response more or less implies this isn’t the first time she’s gotten lethal head.
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>>5315059
worse, she's a yandere
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>>5314965
>What do you think, Bear?
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>>5314965
>>You're not going to headbutt us if we don't, are you?
>>
As a note, going to have a brief 2 to 3 day hiatus to straighten some stuff out AFK and do birthday things. Should be back on Sunday, but maaaaay not be back until Monday. Vote will naturally continue until I return, and feel free to post questions as I will be able to phonepost a bit.

>>5315234
>>5315412
Yeah, you can pretty easily infer that this is at least a semi-regular occurrence with Bella. She lets her yan-yan out a little too much, and since Claudia is a girl the only form of Correction she can give Bella is a stern headbutt to assert her dominance and remind her that she has control of the situation. Or a calming headbutt to get her to stop her incessant and unladylike cursing.

If left to her own devices, Claudia tends to solve a number of her problems via headbutts, much like Parva has grown into tendency to solve her problems by quoting scripture and pretending to be much more pious than she actually is. Note that her love of prayer does not count towards her piety, proper prayer and meditation feels way too good because she has the FREQUENCY.
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>>5316182
Happy birthday man! Hope you ejnjoy it

As for questions....how did Diligence mnage to take care of parva right aftet she was left at the shrinem how did he react to the event?
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>>5316182
Happy (belated) birthday
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May Diligence forgive his humble daughter, for she is merely human and does not have the iron will of the Stars Above. It is not Diligent of you to risk missing your orientation, but raised as you were, you really cannot say no to snacks. After all, a Mahou Shoujo needs her calories if she wants to grow up big and strong, and you still have plenty of growing left to do at your age! Maybe a bit in your chest, but a lot in your height as well - at least 30, no, 40 centimeters by the time your done!

"I would be happy to join you, Claudia," you say. A subtle curtsy is polite, and Claudia's smile brightens like the sun. Though you swear you see Bella's slowly healing corpse twitch in outrage as you once again leave off any honorifics for Claudia. "Wouldn't you agree, Bear?"

"I, uh..." Bear peaks out from behind you, casting an uncertain look in Claudia's direction. "Sure... why not."

"Splendid," Claudia says with a clap of her hands. She turns her radiant smile to Mikhail and Karl, whose harsh expressions melt into delighted smiles beneath her gaze. McQueen glowers as the two of them once again reuse to let him slip from their iron grips. It seems like he will be playing Fionn to Claudia's Pious Lord whether he wants to or not. "Karl, Mikhail, do make sure our dear friend Mellan doesn't slip away too early, will you? It would be a shame if I could not show him my full hospitality."

"Hey, no one but the boss gets ta call me Mellan, curls," McQueen snarls. Bolts of lightning crackle along his arms. Impressively enough, Karl and Mikhail react quickly - the former disperses it with his magic and catches the lightning with his reinforced hands, while the latter's forearms are suddenly covered by a pair of rubber gauntlets. "The likes of you lot can call me Lightning 'less you wanna kiss my knuckles."

Claudia pays him little mind, already heading towards where the snacks have been prepared with Mara in her shadow. You take Bear's hand in your own - evaporating any second thoughts he might be having and leaving him with a most adorable expression on his face - and follow after her. Bella kips up, but it seems her verbal skills haven't returned, as she can only glower at how close her onee-sama lets you and Bear come to her. She immediately latches on to Claudia's arm with a pout, earning herself an affectionate stroke of her hair.

"Know your place, cur!" Karl takes his words a bit personally, dragging him violently after your group with Mikhail's help. "You're speaking to a Grand Duchess and her peers, you should show proper respect."

"I'm from the Sapphires, ace," McQueen puts on an exaggeration of his accented Anglic, closer to one of Yorktown's Anglic derived gutter dialects than simply an accent. "We don' give two shits 'bout no fancy titles."

"Tch, barbarian..." Karl grumbles.

"Hey!" Mikhail snaps at Karl. "Claudia's mum's from the Sapphires. Of course, you wouldn't know that, would you...?"
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>>5318933
Mellan looks like he's in pain as the two boys frog march him into the campus proper. Not from their grips or any shame and humiliation he might feel from his compromised position, but from the fact that the boys marching him along have gotten into an incessant and banal argue over which one of them is better suited for Claudia.

Is Karl better because of his family's vast holdings throughout the Greater Bayernan Imperium, and thus brings a powerful ally to the Imperial Crown? Or is Mikhail better because his twin sister was the Royal Playmate, and he has the honor of being her childhood friend? Not to mention his family's pedigree and storied history as one of the few Noble Houses of the Five Petal Empire to keep the Faith, and survive through the purges of the Faithless carried out when the Widdelsbach Dystany was born from its ashes.

Truly, it is a question for the ages. Neither of them seem to realize that though she loves playing with both of them, Bella is her favorite toy.

While the two of them argue, you and bear get your first looks at the Campus.

The Astral Tower looms overhead like five-faced giant of deep crimson stone, its great clock faces ticking away the hours in perfect unison for everyone to see. You will need to set your pocket-watch to match its time, as you know enough about the Academy that every schedule operates off of Tower Time. Indeed, much of the world - at the very least, the Greater Bayernan Imperium, the Sapphires, the Sultanate of Aryanam, and those lands like your home that are unclaimed by any power - use clocks paired to it by magic as a sort of universal time, which they then adjust to determine their local time.

Compared to the tower, the Lecture Halls are relatively unimpressive. Brown stone pillars are spaced evenly across the buildings faces, providing support to the outer structure, and long panes of glass peak out from the walls between each pillar to allow natural light into the hall that runs around the building. The points of their triangular shape are each blunted, allowing for an easy entrance where you can see students already coming and going, wearing their uniform in varying states of disarray.

Some students wear it down to a tee, the orange bow-ties tight around their necks, their shirts clean pressed and their blazers buttoned up over the thin grey sweaters - the boys wearing slacks, the girls wearing pleated skirts below the knees. At the other end of the extreme, you see one boy with a flowered shirt beneath his open blazer, unbuttoned to show off his generous cleavage, and another girl who looks less like a student and more like a prostitute parodying the uniform. Most of the students are dressed somewhere in between, taking a few liberties with the uniform but never outright defying it.

Claudia leads you to a bench in the park... where a second Mara patiently waits for her Mistress' arrival.
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>>5318937

"Snacks have been prepared, my lady..." the second Mara says. She lifts her skirt to curtsy deeply, while the first Mara seems to walk into her, the two of them merging like droplets of water. She gestures at the setting. "The tea this afternoon is the Osthoffen Blue you sampled while touring Lord Farhous' domain - slightly bitter with a berry aftertaste. Paired with it is a charcuterie board prepared by Chef Lyons, which features plockwurst and touristenwurst made from the boar you slew on your last hunt, my lady."

"Splendid!" Mara claps her hands together as Mara lifts the silver dome from the two charcuterie boards. "Please, friends, take a seat and we can eat!"

The boards themselves are works of art that you almost feel bad about picking apart. A pretzel ring surrounds a platter of meats, cheeses, berries, dried fruits, and even little squares of chocolate that have been place about. All of them have been artfully arranged in such a way that they are naturally paired alongside their best partners in flavor. You are actually unfamiliar with how to go about eating from something like this, as the courtly manners that Diligence taught you applied more to formal meals and parties than smaller, intimate settings between friends.

Luckily, Bear knows a bit more on this than you do, and guides you through what's polite without making it obvious that he's helping you - the dear boy. Of course, over the snacks and tea, you exchange stories with Claudia. She's awfully keen about learning how you became a shrine maiden, and in return...
>She'll tell you about her greatest hunting trip.
>She'll tell you something embarrassing about the two idi-the boys. Her boys.
>She'll tell you something that is sure to horrify Isabella.
>She'll tell you about her time at St. Mackenzie's Secondary, if you're so keen
>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
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>>5318939
>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
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>>5318939
>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
Seems like a nice, mellow topic to start with.
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>>5318939
>>She'll tell you something embarrassing about the two idi-the boys. Her boys
>>
>>5318939
>>She'll tell you about her greatest hunting trip.
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>>5318939
>"Splendid!" Mara claps her hands together as Mara lifts the silver dome from the two charcuterie boards.
I assume you meant Claudia in the first Mara

>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
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>>5318939
>>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
>>
>>5318939
>>She'll tell you about her time at St. Mackenzie's Secondary, if you're so keen
>>
>>5318939
>>She'll tell you something embarrassing about the two idi-the boys. Her boys.
>>
>>5318939
>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
The priestess and the princess are getting off on a good foot so far
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>>5318939
>She'll tell you a little bit about her life back home.
>>
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>>5316811
>>5318247
Thank you both! Sorry I couldn't phone post. To answer the question on Diligence raising Parva is a bit of a spoiler, but you'll get some of that in the next post.

>>5319039
Ah, yes, that is correct. If 4chins had an edit function, I'd use it to fix that. Good catch!

>>5319532
Like a house on fire. Literally, things will probably burn because of the two of them.

Now, I won't be able to post tonight because stuff ran late, but to get a head start on the next posting, why don't we narrow down what specific thing about her home life that Claudia will talk to you about.

Claudia's home life is pretty complicated, as expected of the Imperial Heiress. Her own story gravitates towards...
>The way she's expected to conduct herself from day to day, and how she's crafted her own little double persona to vent and rebel a little.
>The duties she has as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon in maintaining the territory and ensuring that it prospers.
>Her preferred hobbies that she pursues on the frighteningly rare occasion that she gets some time off to pursue them.
>How she wound up engaged to Karl, and why poor Mikhail thinks he has a pretty good chance at breaking the engagement up.
>Her wonderful childhood where she got to play with the Royal Playmate to her heart's content, and found her dearest and most [special] friend. Why are the lilies suddenly blooming in the garden?
>Write in
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>>5320009
>Her preferred hobbies that she pursues on the frighteningly rare occasion that she gets some time off to pursue them.

i really want to go with option 1, but it feels a little bit too personal for such a moment
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>>5320009
>How she wound up engaged to Karl, and why poor Mikhail thinks he has a pretty good chance at breaking the engagement up.
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>>5320009
>Her wonderful childhood where she got to play with the Royal Playmate to her heart's content, and found her dearest and most [special] friend. Why are the lilies suddenly blooming in the garden?
>>
>>5320009
>>The duties she has as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon in maintaining the territory and ensuring that it prospers.
>>
>>5320009
>>Her preferred hobbies that she pursues on the frighteningly rare occasion that she gets some time off to pursue them.
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>>5320009
>The duties she has as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon in maintaining the territory and ensuring that it prospers.
I'm interested in this stuff.
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>>5320009
>The duties she has as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon in maintaining the territory and ensuring that it prospers.
>>
>>5320009
>>Her preferred hobbies that she pursues on the frighteningly rare occasion that she gets some time off to pursue them.
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>>5320009
>The duties she has as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon in maintaining the territory and ensuring that it prospers.
She learns about our special duties, we learn about hers. Fair deal
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The consumption of tea and snacks is surprisingly peaceful for a group of people who are all willing to engage with lethal force if it serves their interests. Bear may be the only possible exception. He is a delightfully pure-hearted boy, and you feel a violently powerful urge to protect that innocence from other people so that you will have the honor and the privilege of snatching it away yourself. Not that you would do such a thing, for you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and such lurid thoughts would never cross your mind.

Still, it is surprising to see even Mellan glumly accept his fate of being treated as Fionn without complaint. He quite literally breaks bread with Claudia, tearing off a piece of the great round pretzel that encircles the meats, cheeses, and fruits upon the board.

Bear seems to enjoy the pairing of a certain soft, spreadable cheese and the pineberry jam with lemon zest. His small plate is filled with sections of pretzel and crackers that have been generously smeared with the cheese, a dollop of jam on each... and a few pieces of wurst to break things up. You prefer the dates, which have been stuffed with goat's cheese. They pair well with the ham, which Claudia boasts of having come from a boar that she wrestled into submission. A fact which Mara's serene and unmoving face refuses to confirm or deny.

Karl and Mikhail seem to be in a common competition between boyish rivals, with a twist appropriate for the nobility. Which of them can put down the most of Claudia's snacks without breaking etiquette or vomiting up their meals? Speed, pacing, and elegance are all key in this competition, and both boys seem determined to one-up the other. Claudia eyes them with a smile on her face.

How cute. She's playing them like a fiddle for her amusement. You have much to learn from her.

"So, how did you come to tend your shrine, Childe Symphonia?" Claudia asks. There's an unsubtle playfulness in how she uses the most suffocatingly formal form of address for a Shrine Maiden in good standing. "Most inherit the title from their mother when they are old enough to perform the rituals. Yet... if I recall my lessons, up until a few years ago the 1728th Astral Shrine was considered lost several centuries. Its Star was martyred during the 43rd Black Tide, yet now it shines anew."

"Yeah, I thought I knew its name from somewhere..." Bear nods. He speaks through a mouthful of pretzel, getting crumbs all over the corner of his mouth, and only swallows when he realizes he's a bit muffled. "Sister Eliza had us recite the Martyred Saints Above and Below from memory for a Librum studies test before, and people got marks off because there was some confusion about the Light of Diligence returning."

Of course, you can't just let an opportunity like this slip you by, can you?

You take your napkin, and reach over to Bear, wiping the crumbs from the corner of his mouth, and get rewarded with a bright red blush from ear to ear.
>>
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>>5321494

"I'm not certain that there's much of a story to tell." You give an honest answer to Claudia's question once you've finished up playing with Bear. Claudia gives you an approving smile, which earns you a hateful glare from Bella - who has been silent this whole time, staring daggers at you, Bear, and Mellan most of all. The other boys snort in laughter at him, while Mellan looks... is that jealousy in his eyes? You'll file that away for later. "I was raised for the task beneath the Light of Diligence by Sister April, the shrine's attendant priestess. She was like a mother to me... and I suppose Diligence was not unlike my Father, for he would call me to his side periodically, and test my growth physically, mentally, and morally."

All as one, Bear, Claudia, Karl, Mikhail, and Mellan stare at you in disbelief. Even Bella's dead-eyed gaze changes from the daggers of loathing into a shovel that wants to dig up the answer to some apparent mystery. Did you just say something strange? Poor Mellan's dropped his pretzel onto his plate, where it lands ontop a cracker generously piled with cheese and jam.

"Huh," Bear mumbles, swallowing his food. "You never told me that bit, Parva. Neat."

"As expected of Childe Symphonia," Claudia finally breaks the silence. Wait, where's the playful tone from earlier? You liked the playful tone.

"I don't think that was expected, my Claudia..." Karl finally shifts his gaze from you, back to his fiancee. He appears to be at a loss for words.

"To think that we were in the presence of a living saint..." Mikhail shakes his head. "It boggles the mind."

"Nah, I call bullshit." Mellan picks up his pretzel and stuffs it in his face. "No way in hell am I believing some shrine maiden met one-a-the Stars Above that easy. You gotta be a big shot or someone extra holy ta even hear their voice."

Eh?

Eh?

Wait a minute, but Diligence talks to you... not a lot, but he answered you during your prayers of thanks for being given the strength to slay the Demons aboard the Fat Dove. Is that not normal? Why would the Stars Above instruct people to pray to them if they weren't going to answer the calls of the Faithful from time to time?

While you tilt your head in confusion, Bella's head snaps to Mellan, daggers returning to her glare and forging themselves into spears that wish nothing less than to impale the boy in place. Where most would be rooted in fear, he returns the gaze with confidence.

"Are you calling onee-sama's newest friend a liar?" Bella growls dangerously, reaching for her bat. "Are those worthless lips of yours hiding away a the faithless tongue that dares to claim that onee-sama's judgement is anything less than impeccable?"

"So what if I am...?" Mellan's hands crackle with lightning.

"Then correction will be necessary..." Bella raises her bat up, fire in her eyes and violence in her heart. "My bat and your worthless trash head!"
>>
>>5321499
The tension in the air is suddenly defused when Claudia shoves a pineberry into Bella's mouth.

"Peace, friends," Claudia says. She motions for Mellan to sit back down, while gently guiding Bell back to her seat. The thug glowers at Claudia, but a look from Mikhail and Karl make him reconsider doing anything more. Bella is thoroughly disarmed at this point, her bat having clattered to the ground, a blissful expression written onto her face. "There shall be no fighting here, for we have all broken bread together at this table. And were are in the presence of a holy woman besides."

"Thank you, Claudia," you say. Your pale face turns a bit red. Though you are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, hearing other people acknowledge that sets butterflies fluttering in your chest. "But really, I need no special consideration..."

Claudia shakes her head. "I disagree, Childe Symphoni-"

"Parva." You cut her off a bit too quickly and a bit too snappish, and you wince at your tone.

Claudias face looks a lot less relaxed than it did before you answered her question, all taught with a seriousness that you'd rather she not have. Everyone is, except Mellan - who thinks you a liar - and your Bear. He's the only one who reacted correctly to your answer, in your opinion, everyone else started acting weird and you don't like it. You try to make that plain on your face.

Claudia sighs. "If you insist, Chi-"

"Just Parva, please." This time, you took a breath before speaking, and your words come with proper decorum. You had a feeling she was going to try to keep the unironic honorific. "Childe is unnecessary, and a bit stuffy if you ask me."

Claudia looks to Bear, who just smiles and shakes his head. "I find it's easier just to go along with her, Lady Claudia. Otherwise you'll just end up developing a headache that won't go away until she gets her way."

You puff out your cheeks, giving Bear a look of annoyance. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"That you're a very persuasive girl," Bear says without missing a beat.

Your ears pinken. No fair, you're the one who's supposed to get him flustered with playful jabs like that, not the other way around. Of course, being wise to such games, Claudia gives a soft chuckle at how you've been outplayed by your favorite toy. At least the relaxation has crept back on to her face.

"Forgive me, Parva," Claudia doesn't do the appropriate amount of begging, but you suppose you can. She's a princess, after all. "Paying the clergy the appropriate respects is as much one of my duties as administrating Planetes Kyknon. Under the circumstances... forgoing the appropriate honorifics felt like rubberstamping paperwork without reviewing it. But, if you insist..."

"I do! They'll just get in the way of our friendship." You say. Suddenly, you feel very cold, and find Bella giving you an icy glare. So you quickly pivot to another subject. "So, administrating a Grand Duchy must be a lot of hard work..."
>>
>>5321503
You feel your head spinning.

Not because you're dizzy, but because you're trying to understand half the things Claudia is saying. The girl positively perked up when you asked after her duties as the Grand Duchess of Planetes Kyknon, and has been talking your ears off for so long that you've lost track of time. The boys' eyes have glazed over, with the exception of Bear, who is nodding along as if he's following the minutiae that Claudia is delving into. Bella is no help, because she's just clinging to Claudia's arm, basking in the sound of her onee-sama's voice.

If there is one thing you learned from this, it is that the Greater Bayernan Imperium is truly blessed. Their Crown Princess truly loves the work she has been born into.

"-establishing a system wherein the value of the currency is derived not from any inherent worth, but rather from the fact that it's what they use to pay their taxes at the end of the year." Claudia says, and Bear is taking notes. Maybe later you can coax him into distilling all of this for you, into something you can understand. "By treating currency as a commodity with a value that changes over time relative to other metrics, the consistent demand for a currency provided by taxation should provide all the value that a token of exchange needs. I've begun testing this principle in Planetes Kyknon over the next twenty-five years, and if the results are favorable we may move the entire Imperium over from bullion to the more easily controlled tally-stick..."

You don't get it. You just don't get it at all. Tally-sticks? Bullion? What...?

After Claudia's cheerful rambling on her plans and her duties leaves you further and further behind, the tea-party turned lecture is eventually interrupted by...
>A large-chested man in spectacles.
>A woman with eyes that appear to be mismatched.
>A woman playing a flute
>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>A child with an eyepatch over one of her eyes, and a grin on her face

Regardless of your decision, roll 1d20
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>5321507
>A child with an eyepatch over one of her eyes, and a grin on her face
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>5321507
>>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
Rolled 6 (1d20)

>>5321507
>A large-chested man in spectacles.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>5321507
>>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>5321507
>A child with an eyepatch over one of her eyes, and a grin on her face
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5321507
>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5321507
>>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>5321507
>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>5321507
>>A man who looks to have been ripped from a body-builder's magazine
>>
>so many 18-19s and no 20s
sadge
>>
>>5322147
You Nat 1'd the first roll. That flips and becomes a 20 thanks to Fortunate, so don't worry.
>>
>>5322173
All according to keikaku
>>
Perception against ???. Roll 1d20+LCK+MAG vs DC35
Fortunate inverts your roll from a 1 to a 20!
20+12+7 = 39. One degree of success!

Claudia's cheerful rambling ventures off from talks of tally-sticks and taxes to talks of finance and incentivizing the growth of industry within her the archipelago that made up her extended demesne. You know enough to know that modern techniques of manufacturing are far and away inferior to the wonders of the Machine Builders who created machines that created machines to create the machines that enabled their decadent and luxurious lives. But there are still factories that make uniform parts for the craftsmen, following the strictures and holy laws found within the Book of Prudence on what is acceptable, and what is not.

Do not create machines whose means of function you cannot comprehend.

Do not create machines that can operate entirely without human input.

Do not create machines that can iterate and improve upon themselves.

Do not create machines whose purpose is to make decisions for humans.

Do not create machines that can listen, hear, and learn.

And perhaps, most importantly, the First Law of the Fourteenth Chapter, which may as well be the culmination of the laws that precede it. [Prudence 14:1-2] The formation of an empty vessel in the graven image of man shall be forbidden to human hands. For the impure light that darkens the sky below shall ever seek to stain the blank slate in its heathen colors.

There are many interpretations to this particular Law.

In some lands, even the creation of mere human-shaped golems that carry out the orders of their makers and nothing further is considered a violation of this stricture. For they are the graven image of a man, the emulation of the human body is forbidden. In other lands, it is rather the human mind - not its body - that constitutes the "vessel" that must not be created. For what are humans but their memories, their thoughts, and their secrets? Diligence does not claim to know His Brother's thoughts, but he believes it best to avoid creating such things without the protection of the Stars.

Radford is a special exception. He was created by one of the Stars, not mere human hands, and their protection shields him from the Black Mist and the corruption from below.

The factories that Claudia talks of are the work of human hands and human hands alone, for though the Church of Holy Wisdom may give their blessing to them upon opening, the Stars Above do not give their miracles and words lightly. The talk all slips over your head, though. You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, so what need do you have for things like balance sheets and process monitoring signals? It sounds like a lot of math, and though you have diligently studied the subject to pass your Holy Father's tests... it bores you.

It bores you so much, you find yourself struggling to avoid nodding off...
>>
>>5322820

Closing your eyes feels nice, because it lets you open up your ears to all of the wonderful sounds of the world. The birds chirp in stereo among the trees, whose leaves gently rustle in the wind, making a phenomenally calming sound. Claudia's voice is melodious and light, eagerness and joy in every word as she expounds upon details that fly right over your head and would have bonked into Karl and Mikhail's foreheads if they hadn't escorted Mellan... to the bathroom, you think. Bella too, seems to have gone to pick some flowers, for you cannot hear her breathing pick up pace, nor her heart pounding as she struggles to cling to every bit of jargon.

You're not even jealous of the excitement in Bear's voice.

You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure. Such petty and base things are beneath you.

Okay, actually, that's a lie, you're quite jealous that Claudia can feed Bear's hobbies with such a delicious feast of facts, figures, plans, and technical jargon. But you don't let it feed into any insecurity. She knows your pretty little bear cub is your toy that you don't intend on sharing, just as you know that her violent little belladonna blossom belongs to her and her alone. Besides, you get the feeling that she prefers the company of women to men in that regard, which is just fine by you. Even less for you to worry about.

Which is good, because something has crossed your mind that's given you some cause to worry. You do not panic or shout it out loud, because it's just something a little strange that you need to puzzle out before you make anyone else worry. Something that you alone among your new friends should be able to piece together.

See, the acoustics of this park are all wrong.

You honestly can't say when they stopped making sense, but the balance of sound and how it refracts through the air doesn't make any sense. If you weren't resting your eyes from your exhausting attempt to follow Claudia's conversation with Bear, you probably wouldn't have noticed it. Most people wouldn't pay attention to that sort of thing - as long as your voice could be heard, what did it matter, right? But you know sound better than anyone your age has any right to, because of your deep connection to it.

Your LAPIS invokes the disposition of your soul, and your soul is strongly aligned towards music and noise, the things people listen to while they work and relax. Only a true audiophile could match your ear for acoustics, and hear what's wrong with all of this.

The birdsong is too close to your ears, and is coming from the wrong direction - towards the blue jays in the trees, yes, but it's as if they are not elevated at all. The rustling of the leaves in the wind has the same problem, it's too close to your ears and surrounds you like the ocean when it should be coming from one place. The final nail in the coffin of the lie is Claudia and Bear's voices being in the wrong place, compared to where they were sitting.

You open your eyes.
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>>5322824

"Welcome back to reality, kiddo," a rumbling and powerful contralto greets you as you blink away your weariness and let your eyes adjust to the sunlight. You see the vague silhouette of a rather buxom man blurred against the sun. "Took you twelve minutes and thirty three seconds to break out of the illusion. Not bad for a freshman, but do you know what a Demon can do to you if you give them that much time to mess around?"

"A few things come to mind..." you say, with a face that looks like you swallowed a lemon. "None of them pleasant."

Lucy's naked body, bowlegged on her bed and covered with fluids, her expression empty as the demons had their fill of all the delights she could provide them flashes before your mind. They wouldn't have needed twelve minutes to get started.

"Well, whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." The man says. His tone is grim and serious. "Keep that in mind during your training. I've found that it makes for a good motivator."

"That is all well and good," you say, "but do you mind if I ask two questions?"

"Go ahead."

"Who are you, and why am I hog-tied upside down?"

You have your suspicions of course, as your eyes finally finish adjusting to the bright light of the noonday sun. The man before you looks like someone chiseled him out of a richly tanned block of marble, a wild tangle of ashen grey hair pouring down his back and a pair of wolfen ears crowning his head. Muscle bound is not the right word for him, but his tall and almost slender figure is as hard as stone, with the exception of two soft pillows that are each larger than your head. If your sweet Bear is a beautiful boy, then this man is quite the handsome and manly fellow.

Both of them are held back by a thin strip of leather, and his black bomber jacket is opened up to show them off, along with the impressive number of scars on his upper body. His face has a scar as well, though it's obscured by the eyepatch that covers his presumably missing eye. His pants are navy blue denim, held up by a wide leather belt and bronzed buckle with the Academy Insignia engraved upon it. You try to ignore the fact that the excellent fit of his pants shows off the subtle outline of something that would pique the curiosity of any girl your age.

Of course, as a holy maiden, diligent and pure, you do not care for such things.

On an unrelated note, you learned through clandestine means that Bear is very much a "grower" and not a "shower". With quite the impressive growth, you would say. Not that you have any interest in such vulgar things.

"Hah! Good questions, kiddo," the man flashes you a thumbs up and a bright white smile. There's a certain energy to this wild man that is almost infectious, and despite the equally hog-tied Bear and Claudia hanging with you, you can't help but match his grin. "Name's Tefra. Tefra Lykos, the guy they asked to teach two very important heirs and some mysterious shrine maiden girl. Which one are you?"
>>
>>5322827

"I am but a humble shrine maiden, diligent an-" you start to introduce yourself, but the man cuts you off before you can finish. You do not pout. You do no such thing. You are a holy maiden, diligent and pure, and such acts are beneath you.

"Little Parva, huh? The mystery deepens," Tefra shakes his head, the smile still on his face. "Well, I suppose I owe you another answer, Little Parva. See, the Dean of Students wasn't exactly impressed to hear that six whole freshmen - and one student who got held back a year - skipped out on orientation to have tea and snacks in the park..."

Tefra gives a wave of a hand and a shrug of his shoulders that causes a a subtle boing-boing on his chest. His expression changes from the grin to one of rather insincere regret.

Oh. Oh no. You suddenly have a very bad feeling about this.

"Especially since she had prepared a welcoming speech for the young Grand Duchess."

Your mouth runs dry.

Tefra closes his one good eye and leans in, his face barely a few inches from your own as a grin - or perhaps a grimace - is cut from ear to ear across his face. Expressing the boundless joy he has for the torment that you are not doubt moments away from receiving.

"She had a photographer ready, and everything, for when she invited Little Claudia up to the stage for a nice handshake photo-op." Tefra says. A pit forms in your stomach. His smile wanes from that terrifying expression of sadistic joy into simple amusement as he shakes his head. "I don't think I've ever seen her that mad. She looked like she was going to pop! So, as your mentor for the next four years - five, if you're a dummy - let me give you my sincerest thanks. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen."

"Soooooooooooo..." you cast a nervous look at Tefra. "Can you let us down?"

"No!" Tefra sounds far too happy for your peace of mind. He casts his arms out wide, gesturing to the forest. "Dean Annette asked us mentors to ensure that you learned your lesson. Richard took his little ducklings, while you three are mine to torme-teach the ways of the Mahou Shoujo. Consider this your first quiz. Your mission: get back to the Astral Academy in time for your first class. You pass if you're in by the bell, you fail if the bell finishes ringing... or if you get someone to pick you up."

Your face falls as you predict the dreadful answer to the question you're about to ask. "...when is our first class?"

"You'd have found out if you had gone to orientation, Little Parva." Amusement twinkles in Tefra's good eye as your ears redden at the tips. He reaches into his coat pocket, and drops a bag onto the ground. "Luckily, your mentor is a nice guy who made sure to get your schedules and a map of St. Sophia and the lands in its archipelago. Everything you need to know is in there. I even got you some school swag while I was at it, so do enjoy..."
>>
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>>5322834
The "swag" - as Tefra called it - was three jerseys in the Astral Academy's colors. The front bears a wolf's head emblazoned on a metal kite shield. Flowers surround the shield, blooming on the vine, though they are all encircled by a staff that - upon inspection of the notes inscribed to it - loops the chorus of the tonal hymn Diligence be With Us Upon Our Journey. Say what you will about your so-called mentor, he has good taste in music.

Of course, the names and numbers on the back of each jersey make you blanch.

#58 - Beanstalk
#51 - Princess
#26 - Ikemen

You suppose you're "Beanstalk", and Claudia is definitely "Princess", but the last one is a weird combination of characters that you haven't seen before. It looks like someone smashed together the sigils for "good" and "exciting", then arranged it in a strange way with the sigils for "pretty" and "man". You guess it's a good way to describe Bear, as he's all of those things, especially when you have him wrapped around your little finger, but... is this some sort of slang?

You also have a map of the local archipelago - at the center of which lies the Academy - and a schedule that shows your first class is in four days. If Mentor Tefra could get you here in twelve minutes, that means either he's absurdly fast, or the biggest obstacle is the fact that you might get lost. Once you snap Claudia and Bear out of the illusion, you...
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
>Pour over the map and see if you can estimate where you might be located.
>Get the food and water situation handled before it becomes a problem.
>Figure out what you'll be doing for a shelter come night fall.
>Write In

Regardless of your decision, roll 1d20
>>
>>5322843
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
You got me QM, never expected something like this
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>5322881
forgot roll
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5322843
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
other things to assess is both the approximate time and rough "path" of the sun, takes which may help us determine direction via consulting the map or dead reckoning.

Assuming we can't see anything directly, the more "significant" features we can make out the better our chances of them being on the map
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>5322843
>>Get the food and water situation handled before it becomes a problem.
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>5322843
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
i don't think we're that far away, because the map is still local, so an idea popped up to mind. we could use parva's sound magic to echo locate the Astral Tower either by guessing when it will ring and listening to it or by sending a sound wave low enough to reach it and return to us, kinda how elephants and whales do it


we could also try asking Diligence for directions, but dunno if he will answer
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>5322843
>>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>5322843
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
Also supporting the echolocation idea
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>5322843
>>Pour over the map and see if you can estimate where you might be located.
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>5322843
>Look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>5322843
>>Pour over the map and see if you can estimate where you might be located.
>>
>>5322843
so what's the plan after this?
claudia and parva should have some experience in the great outdoors; claudia by being a huntress(or as close as someone within the 12-16 range could be), while parva basically grew in a shrine overgrown by the forest. the only outlier is bear, who probably has none due to basically being a NEET, so my guess is that he'll be the designated butler/pack mule unless he can do something the girls can't
>>
>>5323881
Remember that Bear's magic involves plants. While you've only seen it put to use in making his rose-whip prehensile and growing its spikes, he's got a few other things up his sleeve regarding what he can do with his magic that will definitely be helpful. One of the things that happened off screen during your time playing around with him is that you learned of his love of gardening. If I were to polish up the early stuff - which I probably will at some point - I'd have had his parents say something along the lines of him loving plants more than people.

>>5322950
For context, I would put the total landmass of the islets that make up the Island of St. Sophia and the Sophian Archipelago to be roughly the size of the State of Hawai'i. The entire archipelago more or less exists as support infrastructure to the campus, and you are currently in one of the MANY training grounds scattered throughout the region. Classes take place in the lecture halls, and the training grounds are for teams and their mentors.

Tefra isn't quite a household name, but he's well respected among Mahou Shoujo circles as one of the great demon hunters of the modern age. I wonder why he got chosen/bribed/pushed into retirement to train the Crown Princess and the Heir to one of the top ten most important commoners in the Imperium?

Unfortunately, you would have needed a much higher roll on your Survival check (Luck + 1/2 VIT; perception SHOULD have been 1/2 MAG not full MAG, but it didn't change the result) to unlock echolocation as a tool.

>>5322932
Oh no now I need to figure out how the Second Sun works in terms of the motions of the heavens, I was kind of hoping to avoid this question for as long as possible. You can navigate by him, but you'd have to account for the Star's positions, which change daily/hourly accordance to their feast day cycles and whether they are one of the Daystars like Diligence (whose hour is Noon), or a Nightstar like Vigilance (whose hour is Midnight). Wisdom joins His Brothers upon their specific feast days and remains in a relatively static location.

You'll find out more next post, which sadly will not be this evening, as I had a late day and need some sleep. Probably in the afternoon.

In the interim, please roll 1d100 to determine any random encounters you have.
>>
Rolled 62 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 52 (1d100)

>>5324090
ah, shame we can't use echolocation.
>>
Rolled 57 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 71 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 54 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 51 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 22 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 65 (1d100)

>>5324090
>>
Rolled 60 (1d100)

>>5324090
So is a higher number better encounters or less encounters?
>>
>>5324531
It means better encounters for you. Sorry, I keep having things that keep me later than expected, need to block out some writing time. Tomorrow should be good to go for sure.
>>
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Survival to traverse the wilderness. Roll 1d20+LCK+1/2 VIT vs DC30
13+12+2 = 27. One degree of Failure!


"Oh, right!" Just as Tefra is about to leave the clearing, he suddenly turns back around with a snap of his arm. You hear more than see something fly from his hands, as is soars so swiftly through the air that even your kaleidoscope eyes cannot follow it. A deafening crack of thunder, one that does not so much as cause your new teammates to stir, even if your ears are left ringing. Then, the thudding sound of something metal hitting the tree from which you and the others are hanging. You can barely understand what he's saying. "You deserve a special bonus for being the first little pup to break out of my illusion. Consider this your reward for a job well done, okay, Little Parva?"

"Consider what my what now?" You missed most of what he said. "Sorry, I couldn't-"

Tefra snaps his fingers.

Suddenly the rope that has been holding you up snaps. Or no, it would be better to say that when he snaps his fingers, the rope suddenly realized that it had been cut by whatever made that horridly loud sound, which your ears are still ringing from. Of course, you have bigger things to worried about than complaining about a loud noise that hurt your ears.

Namely, the rapidly oncoming ground.

"Oof!" you let out a noise of pain when you collide with the knotty rough woodland ground. Luckily, you don't plant your face in the root-filled dirt, having managed to tuck yourself just enough to land on your butt. Even so, without a barrier jacket up to eat the blow for you, it's a rather big pain in the ass to deal with. The rope made it a little better than it could have been, but still... "Stars, warn a girl before you do something like that, Mentor! I coulda snapped my neck or something if I didn't..."

Looking up, your mentor is nowhere to be seen. Nowhere to be heard, either. Not even the soft crunch of a foot upon leaves can be heard in the forest, or the hum of magical energy that might surge through the body of someone who has shrouded themselves in invisibility.

"I guess the test has started, then," you say, more to yourself than anyone else.

You're still staring at the spot where Tefra had been standing not a moment ago, nonplussed as just where he went. Was this all just another illusion? No, it would be best to treat it as real. You turn to your companions, who are deep in the slumber of the illusion that's been cast upon them. It should only be a matter of time before they wake up, but daylight is already burning, and you only have so many day. The thundering projectile apparently did not even cause them to stir, let alone wake them... but still, sound is the best bet you have.

So you take a deep breath, and gather the magic in your LAPIS. The shortcuts available from your barrier jacket are not active outside of it, but you can still cast a spell. With an impossibly loud voice, you shout two words.
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>>5326023
The Astral Academy's Office of the Dean of Students is located at the crown of the Astral Tower, sitting directly atop the single most accurate timepiece in the entire World Reborn. With a vaunted cathedral ceiling, a model of the heavens hangs above the center of the room which shows the position of every shard island known to the Academy. Their positions relative to one another are accurate to the current time of the year, and so to are the positions of the Stars Above. Wisdom dances with Patience, for it is the fourth hour past noon and the last hour before the end of the ordinary work schedule.

At the heart of the model sits a grim reminder. The remnant of the First Sun, black as the night against the copper-toned ceiling. It devours light and gives off mists in the image of the real thing, though unlike the position of the stars those mists do not approximate reality. No one can claim to know when and how the Black Mist moves, for it is subject to the unknowable whim of the Black Sun Below.

But to leave it out of model that contains the dividing lines between the Upper, Middle, and Lower Strata, seemed in bad taste.

The office is a long, great hall with bookcases lining either side, which reach up the walls to a point about a foot below the lowest part of the model. Books old and new alike fill its shelves, on every subject from Natural Philosophy to Fiction. It is said that each Dean personally selected one text for the collection, to never be removed, and that may be true. It certainly has become a tradition for retiring Deans to add a book to it. The current dean's predecessor, for instance, had selected a book on the Philosophy of Violence to help guide his students' use of their incredible power for the greatest good of all.

Dean Matilda Altamonte thinks he was a good man.

As a note, she plans to contribute a trashy romance novel about a hunky wizard who takes what he wants and a heroine who gets swept off of her feet by his villainous ways.

Matilda sits on a throne before a small mountain of paperwork, her neat blonde hair having become an unkempt mess by the stress of today. It was not going well, not well at all! The heir to the Widdelsbach dynasty skipped out on her orientation without notifying her, to have tea and snacks with her new team members. How did she know the Dove boy and the pet shrine maiden of a long dead star were her teammates? Did the Widdelsbach have spies in the academy that she didn't know about? Were they deliberately trying to snub her, perhaps distances themselves from the Astral Academy to create their own?

Countries that do that usually do it because they want to go to war, and want the power a Mahou Shoujo possesses added to their military.

Did they intend to become another Brightheart Theocracy? Another place where Mahou Shoujo ruled over the masses with cruelty, absent Wisdom's Blessing and the Divine Right to Rule? Or was this just a message that they were confident they could?
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>>5326026

That was the worst case scenario - another nation whose rulers were only a few shades lighter in depravity and cruelty than the Black Sun Below. Like every kingdom granted the Divine Right, the power of the Widdelsbach was intrinsically tied to its people in an ancient pledge made to Wisdom. The health of the ruler would reflect the health of their nation, and a poor ruler would suffer as his people did under his rule. The Widdelsbach have been good to their subjects, protecting their rights and bringing about their prosperity. By all accounts, their heiress is an intelligent, boisterous, and healthy young girl thanks to their good stewardship.

So the worst case scenario isn't likely - the Widdelsbach benefit too much from their good stewardship for the thought to fall into depravity for the sake of power and ego.

Neither is the best case scenario, though, which is troubling.

It could all be a child's whim. Princess Claudia could have easily just told her handmaid to prepare snacks for herself and her new friends, and they all could have gotten caught up in conversation that they missed initiation. It could have all just been children being irresponsible and having fun, and nothing more than that. But no, that's not likely, is it? There's not a chance in the Void that Emperor Karl 'Der Graetz' fon Widdelsbach would have allowed his daughter to get carried away in childish things like that. Her handmaid would have had instructions to gently push her towards orientation.

No, this was definitely a message. Of what, Matilda was not sure.

The only thing she was sure of was that it gave her a migraine.

"If only some handsome villain could come around and sweep me off of my feet in some zany scheme for world domination..." Matilda grumbles. She rubs her temples, trying to get the feeling of drills attacking them to go away. Staring at the clockwork beneath the glass flooring of the office doesn't help. Then she'd star envying the dead Star that the machinery was made of. "Bah, no one's gonna solve your problems but yourself, Matty..."

With a respondent sigh, she picks up her tea from her imposing oaken desk and turns to the great window behind her, which overlooks the northern part of the archipelago. She takes a long and drawn out sip, the corners of her mouth crinkling in a frown.

Then she notices something odd.

The trees on St. Daphne's isle - the one where that musclehead Tefra dropped off the problem children - waving in the wind like they were stalks of grass. Her eyes narrow as a circle starts to form in the ring of clouds.

"Tefra, what sort of test did you-" Matilda's eyes go wide when the window shakes, two deep and distorted words sounding more like thunder than speech.

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAKE UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!"

===

"How!" You stare at a particularly depressing sight. "I made that as loud as I could, so how!?"

Bear and Claudia are still peacefully trapped in the illusion, sleeping away...
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>>5326034
"We're lost, aren't we?" You are the first one to say something, but you all know it deep down.

"Nonsense, Parva," Claudia says, deep in denial of the facts that have been put before her. She gestures to a tree, where moss can be seen growing along one side of it. "We just have not reached our destination yet! Do you not see the moss here? It is common knowledge that moss grows on the North side of a tree, meaning that the direction we're going in must be eastward. Which, going by the map-"

"Which depicts several islands," you point out. You are beginning to doubt Claudia's intuition as a woodsman. Did she even kill the boar her cooks fed you...? "Any of which could be the one we're currently stuck on."

"St. Daphne's is the only logical choice-" Claudia puffs up with a smile on her face, though it cracks into a frown when Bear interrupts her pointing to another tree.

"Beg pardon, Your Highness," Bear has stopped stammering around the Princess because he has learned something rather worrying. See, despite being the heiress to the Widdelsbach, a leader of delinquents, and one who possesses a strong magic... she's kind of a dummy when it comes to some things. He still calls her 'your highness', though, no matter how many times she insists on Claudia. "But unless mine eyes deceive me, yon tree also possesses moss upon but a single side. Yet, were we to believe the direction to be north, t'would lead us west, not east."

"Baaaaaaaaaaaah, Bear, at least stick to Low Gaulic if you're going to switch out of Anglic!" Claudia huffs, letting out her frustation. "Fine, you're right, Parva, I'll admit it - it feels like we've been walking in circles..!"

You probably have.

See, you can see the mark on the tree where the knife Tefra threw used to be. Your shout shook it loose from the wood among other things, even if it didn't manage to wake Claudia and Bear from their illusion nap. Honestly, you should have tried the thing that DID work sooner. When in doubt, throwing the Blessed Frequency at a problem in large quantities seems to always help. The forest does not resonate with it, but you made up for it with sheer volume, probably causing the whole island to shake a little bit.

Then you prayed. True prayer, wherein opened up the gate of dreams and allowed your will to awaken them from theirs and pull them back into reality.

And now you're back here, frustrated, tired, and getting a bit peckish...
>Brainstorm a better solution to finding a landmark with Bear and Claudia.
>Keep look for high ground and try to find the Astral Tower, or some other landmark.
>Pour over the map and see if you can get a better estimate of where you might be located.
>Get the food and water situation handled before it becomes a problem.
>Figure out what you'll be doing for a shelter come night fall.
>Write In
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>>5326045
Forgot to include:

Regardless of your choice, roll 1d20 and 1d100
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Rolled 8 + 1 (1d100 + 1)

>>5326045
>Figure out what you'll be doing for a shelter come night fall.

this timeskip was a bit messy ngl
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>>5326060
Yeah I'm not particularly proud of it. But I was having a lot of trouble with that scene, it's kind of why I jumped to the Dean's office too - besides wanting to give insight into her concerns. Probably will smooth it out when/if I rewrite this for pacing's sake, maybe eliminate the timeskip entirely. Frankly, I'm just glad I got through that part.
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Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>5326045
>>Get the food and water situation handled before it becomes a problem.
A party of 3 sheltered rich kids trying to prepare a meal, what could go wrong?
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Rolled 24 (1d100)

>>5326099
And a d100
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Rolled 5 (1d20)

>>5326073
i think it could have been ok by just adding a ..... or more === at the start of the post, just like how you did at the end of the second post

and rolling for the d20. looks like 4chan doesn't like mixing dice
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Rolled 36 (1d100)

>>5326026
Now I'm curious about this Brightheart Theocracy
>>5326045
>Brainstorm a better solution to finding a landmark with Bear and Claudia.
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Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>5326123
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Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>5326045
>Get the food and water situation handled before it becomes a problem.
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Rolled 28 (1d100)

>>5326237
>>