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/qst/ - Quests

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Twenty two years past, the once great enemy of the continent lost its grandest territories in the most hideous defeat in its history. The price of blood paid was such never seen before, and all hoped, would never be seen again. In a long, brutal five year war, the country of Emre declared independence from its old masters, the Grossreich of Czeiss. Armies crashed against one another, and war’s newest inventions butchered countless men for little decisive effect. In an attempt to break the deadlock, numerous inventions and innovations were made, but none of them were as effective a weapon as the passage of time. When the Reich’s lines finally broke, its people were exhausted and unhappy, the nobility demanding peace be made before the Emreans conquered their land, chasing the Reich’s armies south.

The Grossreich was a nation with an illustrious history, whose Kaisers had once held sway over near the entire continent. This defeat not only ripped away their last and greatest imperial possessions, but also wounded their pride like no event in their history before. The Kaiser who lost the Emrean War, Kaiser Pieter II Zeissenburg, committed suicide fifteen years after his greatest defeat, as the nobility and their cronies held more and more of the nation under their power, taking advantage of the misery of the people and the military to win more and more influence.

Thus Kaiser Henrik was crowned Emperor. He was young at the time, only sixteen, and the nobility thought him to be easy prey to turn into their puppet. Such hopes were dashed near immediately. Not soon after the crown was placed upon his head, Henrik Zeissenburg rounded up most of the nobility and put them in chains on trumped up charges, confiscating their property for the state and dividing their lands to the people while using their assets to fill the coffers of the state. The few nobles who remained were either great friends of the Kaiser who aided him in this plot in the first place, or so irrelevant they were only noble in name.

The people of Czeiss were shocked and overjoyed, and Henrik became a hero overnight. His next action was to reclaim territories lost in the period of weakness after the loss of the Emrean War. He personally led campaigns in the north to reclaim the Reich’s access to the northern seas, and in the process turned the armies of the Reich from defeated, hopeless worms into the terror of the world their ancestors had been more than one hundred years ago.

Such a legendary figure was both admired and feared around the world.
You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, armor officer of the Archduchy of Strossvald, part time ghost hunter, and part time private investigator. To be true, you had spent a near equal amount of time wearing each cap for the short duration you had been deployed here.

You had recently infiltrated the headquarters of a local imperialist underground movement, called the Dawnseekers, and were initially on a quest to discover the extent of their meddling in local affairs, as well as the various ties to other nations they seemed to have stretching in multiple directions. However, you discovered a distressing development; the Dawnseekers had conscripted your former comrades, a battalion of tankers, to masquerade as themselves, presenting a false enemy for Lord Von Blum’s assault force ready to come here and destroy. The true villains, if this happened, would escape unscathed from the ordeal.

You had been blocked from meeting the commander of the tankers, Lieutenant Colonel Weil. There were hints of some of the captive soldiers working with the Dawnseekers, but you didn’t have a good idea of how deep it went; only that some combination of that with rough treatment and a strategy of dividing the men against each other had resulted in a force that was, for the most part, too weak willed to resist their new masters. Intending to find out from the head honcho, you had tried to meet Weil, only to be denied a meeting. Not deterred, you searched for clues elsewhere, snatching up a captive Dawnseeker who had been in a rush to leave, and breaking into a suspicious room both to search it and to hold an interrogation in.
“You seem to be in quite the hurry?” you say mockingly to the captive you took, a small bookish looking man who looked the least like a soldier out of anybody you had seen of the Dawnseekers. “Care to explain where you’re going?”

“Come on,” the lanky man whined, “Just because I’m not a soldier like the rest of you doesn’t mean I don’t know the plan. We have to get out of here soon!”

“Get out of here soon?” you exaggerate your incredulity, “Is all not that it seems? What do you know about this reason to get out?”

“Of course I do!” He had become well and truly frustrated, at least, to the point he was allowed before Malachi, your tank driver newly turned personal thug, would tighten his grip for a few seconds, “I don’t want to be here when Von Blum smashes and burns everything here and slams everybody in prison! Everybody’s already left except you, me, were I not so rudely interrupted, and that half insane Emrean War fossil Luca the Cutter!” Suddenly he had a realization, “Wait…you are Imperial, right?...your accent, it’s too eastern. Like somebody from near Strosstadt. That’s not something we would have needed to train out.”

You might be able to bluff your way into a more advantageous position. This man, for whatever reason, is under the impression that you are on the same side he is.

>Sure, I’m an agent of the Reich. (Show him the emblem you received as a reward from the Imperial Ambassador)
>Play with him some more. Ask for his proof he’s from the Reich
>No, of course I’m not. Thank you, my loyal toady!


>Ask more questions
>We’re done here, knock him out and tie him up
>You’re through with him, let him go
>twitter is @scheissfunker
>pastebin for previous thread archives is http://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh
>Sure, I’m an agent of the Reich. (Show him the emblem you received as a reward from the Imperial Ambassador)
“Sure, I’m an agent of the Reich,” you reach into the pocket of your coat and pull out the golden Seal of the Kaiser that had been given to you by Rogel Zierke, “Would I have this if I wasn’t?”

“Holy moly,” your prisoner gasped and squinted at the emblem, “What did you do for that?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” you quickly put away the seal.

“No, really,” the scrawny man insisted, “They don’t just give those away. The only people who can give those out are the Kaiserwache. You don’t just run into a member of the Kaiserwache and hope they like you enough to give you a personal guaranteed audience with the Kaiser. You not only met one of the Kaiser’s Nine, but you got him to give you a Golden Seal!”

It seems his attitude has shifted completely upon being shown you have that seal. It's as if he doesn't care that he's been kidnapped anymore.

>Try and butter him up to answer questions more willingly; tell him who you got it from
>Downplay the events and keep it vague
>You’ve already gotten enough out of this guy, best restrain him and hide him. He can imagine what you did himself.

>For the first two, include any more questions you want to ask this fellow
>What I did for that is a state secret. I can't tell you abything and it's better for you to not know in the first place.

>What the hell is going on with Weil?
>Who's that creepy guy who guards his room?
>Where are the people who are leaving going?
>Who's their real backer?
>How do they now Von Blum will attack?

>If he starts wondering why we don't know, drop hints that the Kaiser is not exactly condoning their little operation.
Seconded. Are there any organisations/factions in the Reich that we can claim we're from that would be concerned about the Dawnseekers' activities?
Unfortunately, you aren’t sure! With most of your studies having centered on war and the conduction of it, the nature of foreign domestic affairs is out of the realm of your knowledge. You knew of an internal investigations department headed by one of the famed “Kaiser’s Nine,” but you weren’t certain of its name. Of the Nine, you knew of only five; three of them, you didn’t know, while the final one was a mystery to all.


You decide it best to avoid linking yourself to an organization, in case this man happened to be part of one of them.

You make up an evasive line of complete horseshit. “What I did to earn that honor is a state secret,” you say with a dash of mystery, “I can’t tell you anything, and it’s better for you not to know in the first place.”

Your captive nodded to himself, a difficult movement with one’s neck in the crook of another man’s arm. “Okay, okay.”

”So what the hell is going on with Weil?” you demand of him.

“What the hell is going on with Weil? The Dawnseeker echoed. You were unsure of whether to call him a Dawnseeker anymore, considering his now apparent non-native origins. Perhaps Imperial would do better. “What do you mean? Is he backing out of the deal he made? You heard something?”

“Just a rumor.” You drop the matter. You were just told something quite interesting. “How about the creeper guarding his room? I’ve heard some strange things about him.”
“Everybody has,” the Imperial prisoner said warily, eyes dotting to and fro suddenly, “That’s Luca the Cutter. He’s…strange. He wasn’t always like that, I hear, but he fought in the Emrean War. Three years of fighting later, he comes home and he’s completely different. He went to prison for ten years, nobody knows why. Some people say it’s because he went out and cut people. Didn’t kill them, just gave them scars. Hence the creepy name.”

Signy touched her neck, and looked ill.

“Don’t know if it’s true, but either way he’s a total nutter.” The Imperial shrugged, “But he’s tough, and that’s all the guy in charge cares about.”

“About that,” you lead on from that, “Who is this ‘guy in charge’?”

The Imperial looked stunned for a second. “How would you be here and not know that?”

“Obviously because I was sent by somebody else,” you say, “Who might not like what’s happening here.”

“Not much they can do about it at this point. Hey, loosen up a bit.” your prisoner tapped Malachi’s arm, “I guess you don’t mean Molt, not that he’s really in charge of anything.

“You aren’t answering my question.”

“I don’t know.” The little man said testily, “Unless you think ‘The Baker’ is actually somebody’s name.”

Another curtain hiding the true perpetrator, even if you now knew what direction the noise was coming from.

“So where were you planning on going?”

“Anywhere but here!” the prisoner said, “It doesn’t matter. Nobody has uniforms or anything like that, we just melt into the townspeople. It doesn’t matter if we have to pretend to be beggars or just hole up in inns, we only have to do it for a couple of days.”

“About that,” you finish up the lines your thought of, “How do you know what’s going to happen next? All this seems rather convenient.”

The man made a funny face at you. “Did you only get here yesterday? We’re not the only people following the Baker’s orders here. This would be hopeless if that was the case. This is a distraction.”

“For Von Blum?”

“No. For the Archduke.” He smiled as he observed your expression, “The problems going on here are going to be resolved just in time for Valsten to really grab the Archduke of Strossvald’s attention. At that point, he’s blind to anything else.”

The pieces were falling into place.

>You have more questions.
>You’ve heard all you’ve needed. Knock him out, restrain him, and comb the office and this man’s things for evidence before checking out.
>You’ve heard all you’ve needed from this man, but you want to know more. Go to Weil and bluff your way past Luca with your seal.
>>You’ve heard all you’ve needed. Knock him out, restrain him, and comb the office and this man’s things for evidence before checking out.

Sorry havnt been that active with your threads, just getting back home from the holidays and still need to catch up some
“That’s enough then,” you signal to Malachi, “Time for a nap.”

Malachi strangled the man until he fell limp, whereupon you and Malachi attacked his body with makeshift restraints and a gag and blindfold before stuffing him under the desk.

As you rifled through his belongings, Signy tried to make small talk with Malachi.

“So how did you get so strong?” She asked your masked crewman.

“Jghayghur.” He said promptly.

“Yeah, I figured,” Signy said hopelessly, “Can you say anything that can be understood by a human being?”


Signy rolled her eyes as she isolated a little case with steel snaps and opened it with a soft click. “You think this is the guy?”

She showed you the case, which turned out to be a picture holder. The recent victim of your kidnapping was the subject of the photo, smiling and dressed in the reddish-brown uniform of the Reich, wearing a garrison cap and saluting. You couldn’t recognize which branch he was with, besides the symbol on the cap not being the same as any of the combat branch insignias you were familiar with. Police, possibly?

“That is useful evidence,” Von Metzeler swept it up, “Anything material is twenty times the weight of an anecdote.”

“Just take this whole sack of garbage then,” Signy said irritably, flicking pieces of candy around the floor, “If you want to look at everything through a magnifying glass you’ll still be here when our own people come here to kill us.”

“You are far too impatient,” Metzeler said flatly, flipping through papers he pulled out of the drawers, “There is a subtlety to gathering intelligence that is not aided by maximal haste.”

“Why don’t we just take those three jokers we were talking with earlier?” Signy insisted with mounting sharpness, “Hell, why not take everybody here? They’re being made to fight against their will, for a cause they don’t believe in, we could just end it all right here!”
“We can’t trust anybody here.” Von Metzeler said with the slightest amount of reserved fury. “Did you hear what that man said? All this is for the Archduke. In other words, not for Von Blum.”

“I don’t get it.” Signy said firmly.

“Think about it,” Metzeler took a break from looking through the files, “In this coming battle, Von Blum gets away with his nose clean. He’s removed the threat to his lands, and he can tell the Archduke that everything is fine. Then you have the troops here not rising up and rebelling. The smallfolk have been paid off simply, but the captains and other such leaders, maybe more than we actually know, are in on this too. Why?” Metzeler flipped to a previous page and tapped it, “These are lists. Names, many of which I’ve seen before. There are far more on here than would be accounted for merely by captains. Peasants are not the only ones who can be bought.”

“What are they being bought with then?” Signy became more interested, “You’ve already got a lot of money, what more could you possibly want?”

“The families have money,” Metzeler corrected, “Imagine that your inheritance wasn’t guaranteed. Imagine that maybe you don’t have as much as you’d like, or maybe you’d like more. Not that money is the only thing somebody can be bribed with.”

“I still don’t think the Dawnseekers have enough for that,” Signy said.

“They don’t.” Metzeler said forebodingly, “Not yet. Do you understand what I am insinuating, Von Tracht? You of all people here should know how it feels to not get your just due. What if there was some great redistribution of land, and you were offered the chance to have a say in who got what?”

>You don’t seem to have much faith in our comrades. That’s all conjecture.
>It’s a risk, but I think we can trust at least the people we spoke with. They don’t seem to be getting much from this deal.
>What is happening to cause this great redistribution of land?
That's fine, by the way, I'm just happy if people are reading this.
Could you please remind us what or who is Valsten?
I mean you the QM, that wasn't a vote
So basically we're talking about a mass revolt then? And perhaps intervention by the Reich to 'restore order'.
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Nah I got you.

Valsten is Strossvald's southern neighbor, who isn't particularly friendly. The root of this is because of territorial disputes common to the region, as there are rarely agreements on where the borders really are. Like most of Strossvald's neighbors, they have been at war with Strossvald multiple times in the past.

They are a democracy, but their system is infamous for being largely controlled by businesses and capitalists. About twenty years ago, the eastern region had a disagreement over who had authority over them, so they declared independence and receive military aid from Strossvald whenever Valsten gets too uppity about whose territory is rightfully whose.

Despite their talk, their military isn't much to speak of. The last two wars they had with Strossvald were, like most wars in the region, quite short, and ended in victory for Strossvald, the most recent one only lasting two weeks and ending after a thorough thrashing by Strossvald's regional forces, the conflict ending before many reinforcements arrived. It was a total embarrassment for Valsten, whose government promptly sacked all of their generals. Territorial concessions were a natural part of the ensuing peace treaty.

I'll get right on this.
I would have had this and the other thing out sooner, but my connection has been shitting itself so I haven't been able to put it up. Apologies.


“You predict a mass revolt then?” you determine based on what Metzeler has said, “Which the Reich will intervene in to ‘restore order.’”

“I had not quite thought about it from that angle,” Von Metzeler admitted, “I assumed that they would merely open the gates and let the Reich in before taking up arms alongside them.”

“If they would rather not outright declare war, they would claim to be coming to restore order.” You say, “A prelude to further actions rather than an all-out rush, but the loss of the Imperial Gate would be a massive blow.”

The Imperial Gate was a set of large mountain passes clustered together in the Blumlands right before Blumsburgh. In the days of the Old Reich, these passes as well as the river Blumsburgh was situated upon made the region and its rulers very rich. In the war that resulted in the founding of Strossvald almost one hundred years ago, when the lords of the land no longer tolerated being under the thumb of any Kaiser but Alexander, the Von Blums closed the Imperial Gate with their soldiers, allowing the rest of the lords enough time to depose their governors and occupying forces before surrounding the Imperial Armies that had broken through into the Blumlands and trapping them against the mountains.

Losing the Imperial Gate was an eventuality that was discussed, but never really planned for. It would be an event that would cause great alarm to the Archduchy as a whole.
“Kaiser Alexander conquered the Sosalian states in the first place because they were disparate, divided kingdoms,” you develop your theory, “Perhaps Henrik wants to accomplish the same. Strossvald is so strong because of the protection the Imperial Gate gives us from the Reich. If that strength was lost, the lords of the lands may not be so confident in the Archduke’s ability to protect them.”

“So what can we do?” International politics was clearly not Signy’s forte. She seemed utterly lost and wishing you’d talk about something less abstract.
“Nothing.” Metzeler said, checking his pocket watch, “The Archduke would have to send an occupying force, quickly, and keep them here until all the matters have been solved.”

“I keep hearing about things happening in two days though,” Signy said with an unsure timber, “You can’t move a big occupation thing in here that quickly, can you?”

“No.” Metzeler said after some thought, “It would take too much time to collect and mobilize a suitable force. There’s politics and red tape to consider too. The Archduke, by law, cannot occupy a lord’s lands unless the claim for doing so has been reviewed by the other lords.”

You thought back to what Lord Von Blum had told you during your previous meeting. Aside from his berating of his daughter, he had mentioned that the Archduke’s elite armor division, the Silver Lances, were close by in the southern territories. However, they were there because of aggressive movements from Valsten; High Command would not be like to abandon their southern front in the face of a coming attack. They would certainly prefer to assemble a new force.

Perhaps the commander of the Silver Lances could be persuaded differently, though.
>Suggest to Von Metzeler that he could divert the priority channels from going to the Intelligence Office, and instead send them to the commander of the Silver Lances to the south
>Agree that the only thing that can be done is to hope the newly assembled force gets here; the southern front cannot be left open
>Instead suggest that the Archduke’s influence may not be needed; you could form a plan, quickly, to go for a third option

As a reminder, don’t be afraid to ask anything you think the character would know, or be able to think about from their perspective, if you think it will let you make a better informed decision.
>Agree that the only thing that can be done is to hope the newly assembled force gets here; the southern front cannot be left open.

Even if whatever that's happening in Valsten is a distraction, if this escalates to a full scale border incident with the Reich, they might decide to strike while Strossvald is focused on the West. That being said, we should still alert the Intelligence Office and Silver Lances though.
Alert both the Silver Lance's CO and intelligence.

Actually background on the CO first, if he is considered untrustworthy or their are real doubts in his loyalty to the arch Duke, just forget informing them.
Supporting this
Also see if Metzeler has any dirt or strings he can pull where the Silver Lances are concerned.
The Silver Lances being the Archduke’s personal elite force, they have never been put under the command of anybody but either a relative of the Archduke Strossvald or somebody with his complete trust. The current commanding officer of the division, Major General Goldfolger, despite his rather nasty name, was a friend of the Archduke. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in charge of a Panzergrenadier brigade in the 1927 invasion of Baou by Netilland, when the Silver Lances were sent to support the little kingdom of Baou’s army; a task the Silver Lances were often trusted with to preserve the balance of power in the region, so none of Strossvald’s neighbors would grow too strong.

A commander who preferred to lead from the front, the then Lieutenant Colonel Goldfolger’s defining moment in the war was when a Netillian massed assault broke a gaping hole in the Baou lines, whereupon he was deployed to attempt to stop the breach. The Baouland regiments melted before the enemy, and soon Goldfolger was isolated in a pocket. Despite taking heavy casualties and being wounded himself by artillery, the Panzergrenadiers held their encircled position and prevented the Netillians from capturing Baou’s royal capital, being freed after a week long siege. After the war he was showered with military honors from both the Archduke as well as Baou, helping him ascend to Major General in a short period of time.

You felt you had no reason to doubt his loyalties.


Still, it might be good to see if there was an openings, just in case.

“You don’t happen to know anything dirty on the Silver Lances, do you?” you ask Von Metzeler. They were a group you admired, as the first Von Trachts had been leaders among them back when they were still a mercenary band and not the Archduke’s personal legion, but you had to set aside that respect for now considering the circumstances.

“I do not take pride in my family’s practices, Von Tracht.” Metzeler said levelly, his lip curling.

“It’s important.”

“Even if I did,” Metzeler shook his head, “Attempting to manipulate the Archduke’s star military unit would be an affront to our ruler. It would be careless to attempt, and as wretched as my relatives may be, they did not get where they did by attacking wherever they could.”

You thought it had been worth a try anyways.

You can’t think of any ideas that wouldn’t leave a weakness somewhere. “I concur,” you say, “We can do little. However, I still am of the opinion that we should send a warning to both the Intelligence Office, as well as the Silver Lances. If things turn out poorly, he should at least know what is happening to his north. Then in the worst case scenario, he won’t expect his rear to be clear when it isn’t.”

“I agree,” Von Metzeler said, “As is, though, I am…concerned that we have too little.” He looks through the papers once more, “Make no mistake, the evidence is here, but…documents can be forged.”

>Agree that they can be forged; perhaps you can forge something that grabs attention yourself.
>Perhaps seeing Weil, or investigating his room, would give better results?
>It will have to do. Your investigation is over; go see your “friends” in the entrance chamber again.
>Perhaps seeing Weil, or investigating his room, would give better results?
>Also we have a witness tied up here. We just have to hide him somewhere Von Blum's forces won't look.
“We’ll just give a deluge of evidence such that the amount is proof in itself, then,” you suggest, “We’ll go see Weil. But first,” you point sideways at the lump under the desk, “We have a prime witness right here. If we just hide him somewhere Von Blum won’t look, we can come back for him and shove him into the arms of the Intelligence Office.”

“He would be useful in that way,” Metzeler scratched at his chin, “but how do we get him out of here?”

You’re still working on that one, admittedly. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” You say uncertainly.

“Hopefully not before we set it on fire.” Metzeler shared your doubt.

Your idea so far consisted of a similar plan to what the conspirators in the entry cavern had been discussing. Smuggling a limp unconscious body would be simple if it was stuffed into a tank that was going to be on the move anyways. Otherwise you’d have to explain where a potentially groaning box or bag was headed to.
For now, you could head straight to Weil, trusting the binding work to be good enough to hold your prisoner for now. It certainly felt like a series of impermeable knots when you were done tying them.

You come to the door of the Lieutenant Colonel again, and meet once more with the guardian you now knew was somewhat disturbingly called Luca the Cutter.

He closed his eyes and opened them slowly again, peering at you through half slits. “You are back, then.”

A quick look around revealed the halls to be empty, and extraordinarily silent considering the traffic going through them before. It seemed final preparations had been made. Metzeler had been unconcerned when he looked at his watch earlier; you had looked at yours too, and you had about forty four minutes before the place emptied itself to meet a host it could not possibly gain victory against.

>Flash the insignia and tell him to step aside
>”The Baker would like you to stop interfering with us. Move.” (Bluff)
>Perhaps another witness? Attack him.
Flash insignia.

I don't feel comfortable with either option, but I feel bluffing about the Butcher would just get us caught.

To bad Signy dosnt know of any secret hidden passages into the room. Actually ask her if there are any other entrances or exits from the mine later.

Fully against attacking him btw.
Same, we're running out of time. Ideally we get out before things go crazy.
What if we just shoot him?
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That would be loud. Strangling would probably be preferable.

“I had a thought,” you say as an idea comes to mind, “Signy, are there any secret passages?”

She looked awkwardly to the side, “Well, yes, but…”

“But?” this could be a lot more useful than how much she apparently thought it was worth.

“The only entrance I know is in my room, and the only one I know well. That and the one to dad’s office, where they’re keeping the Weil person…I’d rather not go there.”

“Why, are you hiding something naughty in your room?” you try to engage her in some playful banter.

“…No.” she replied, “I don’t want to see what these awful people been done to it. I’m afraid I’ll get…unreasonable.”

Malachi babbled something you couldn’t even begin to put together.

“Thanks, whatever that was.” Signy said with aloofness.

>We’ll need it to escape. You’ll have plenty of time to be mad when we mosey on out of here.
>What if we were to infiltrate Weil’s room with it? We could snatch him and go, but we’ll need to be shown where it is.
>Don’t worry about it, we won’t need it.

>>What if we were to infiltrate Weil’s room with it? We could snatch him and go, but we’ll need to be shown where it is.
>>We’ll need it to escape. I'd rather risk you being mad than getting your throat cut again.
“We’ll need it to escape.” You urge Signy, “I’d rather you get a bit agitated than get your throat opened again. We don’t have a magical girl here to fix that this time.”

“Hmph.” Signy huffed, “He won’t catch me again.”

“You said that there’s an entrance in Weil’s room, though,” you went on, “Couldn’t we just go in and grab him? If nothing else, we could take a look at what’s going on.”

“…Whatever.” The republican girl pouted.

“Good. Let’s go to your room.” Signy blushes as you say this. “…and you call me a pig.” You add disapprovingly.

It isn’t a long walk; around the corner and down another hall. You open the door and prepare yourself for a terrible sight…

…which never manifests. You pop through, and find the room bizarrely untouched.

Signy, who had been bracing herself, deflates and slumps forward, her face blank.

Sigmund Vang had clearly been quite fond of his daughter, although it seemed there had been little redecoration from when Signy had first moved in. The wallpaper was a garish design of monochromatic butterflies flocking about flowers in pink and white. The room looked like it had been inhabited by a young teenaged girl, and had barely changed with its owner’s age.

You look over at a white dresser, with framed photographs on top of it. You open the topmost drawer and find Signy’s underwear.

Signy kicked the drawer back closed, your hand wrenched out of the handle. “Would you knock it off?!” Signy almost shouted, but kept her voice down to an exasperated murmur. “That isn’t a secret passage to anything but a punch.”

“Judge above, sorry,” you threw up your hands defensively, not sorry at all. You hadn’t gotten a good look at them anyways.

Signy let you be, then moved over to a section of wall near a short bookshelf. She pushed it aside with some effort, it seemed the shelf itself was on a set of little wheels that followed a shallow groove, and as the bookshelf moved a short crawlspace opened itself gracefully in the wall.
“Here,” she said, pointing into the space, “…follow me.”

The tunnel was just tall enough to be able to walk in a slightly bent crouch. Occaisionally, wind blew through it in short whistling gusts, which combined with the lack of any other sounds, made for an ethereal journey.

It was not a long journey, but the cramped space and strange noises of the outdoors flowing in made it feel four times longer than the two minutes it took.
“We’re here,” Signy looks back and gestures ahead to a shaft leading up, “There’s a trapdoor here that goes into father’s office. You might be able to peek up from there.”

“Good,” you say, looking for a way around her.
There wasn’t quite enough space to just go around, and you end up telling her to lie down and let you crawl over.

“Oomph!” she exhales as you accidentally plant your knee in her spine.

“Sorry,” you clumsily apologize as your leg slips off of her and your hand, reaching for the ground, ends up slamming her face into the concrete flooring. Just when you think you’ve finished your grand display of chivalry, you plant your heel into her collar.

You weren’t sure how you missed every soft part of her.

“We aren’t doing that again,” Signy hissed at you. You ignore her, since the shaft is ahead, beckoning.

You lightly lift the trapdoor above you, and look at the scant view of the room visible.

You are directly behind a desk, a pair of feet planted on the floor in a chair to the right, inside of a booth in the large desk. One the floor ahead of you, at the end of the room, you see another two pairs of feet. The area is relatively large, but from what you can see, it is all a single room, with a few other tables and chairs breaking up the space.

>Try to crawl out some more surreptitiously
>Go back and get in the way initially planned
>Make your presence known. Who says you need this Luca guy’s permission to speak to Weil?
Announce self and make presence known, say Luca was being unreasonable.
“Excuse me,” you throw the trapdoor all the way open with a loud crash. Everybody in the room is startled; the man in the chair, who you presume is Weil, leaps up so quickly he knocks his seat backwards, forcing you to take cover back in the hole as the chair clatters on top of you.

You push it aside as you rise again, “As I was saying,” you push yourself up out of the door in the floor and sit on the edge, “Sorry to pop up unannounced, but your guard dog was being…unreasonable. I'm here to see Lieutenant Colonel Weil.”

Weil is a middle aged man, with deep crow’s feet and a set of thin scars that perforated his face, some carving furrows into his greying hairline. “Pardon me,” he said, smoothing out the uniform he still wore, “I didn’t know I could even have unannounced visitors here. Yes, I am the Lieutenant Colonel.”

“Lieutenant Colonel!” the two guards at the other end of the room started to step forward, but Weil turned his head back over and stared coldly at them, and they stopped in their tracks. The Lieutenant Colonel then extended a single finger. They looked uncomfortable, but they nodded, and filed out of the room, shutting the thick, heavy door behind them with a clank.

After the door had shut, he looked to you. “Well, don’t just sit there in the floor, come up here.”

You did so, motioning for the others to follow you. Weil’s expression became more amused with each person who emerged from the pit. As Malachi exited, Weil lifted his chair back up and sat in it, facing the bunch of you on the other side of the desk. Without looking, he adjusted one of the decorations on the desk that had been knocked out of alignment with the other ornaments upon the surface.

Lieutenant Colonel Jaspar Weil put his fingers together in front of him, forming a bridge between his hands. “What a surprise. The lost daughter of the republican proselytizer, I expected at some point. Yet before her walks two of my tankers as well. However did you find yourself here, Von Tracht?”

>I still don’t know what you’re talking about. You have the wrong person.
>No time to talk. You're going on a vacation. (Capture him) (This will undoubtedly raise hell and shorten your visit significantly)
>How did I find myself here? I should be asking you that question, Lieutenant Colonel.
>>How did I find myself here? I should be asking you that question, Lieutenant Colonel.

We just want to know what the hell is going on.
“How did I find myself here?” you were so surprised by his nonchalant attitude that you didn’t think about how he recognized you despite the two of you never having met, “I should be asking you that question, Lieutenant Colonel. You’re said to be a prisoner, yet you order your guards out of the room!”

“A willing prisoner, Von Tracht. Ah, and Von Metzeler.” Weil lay his hands flat again, “Who would have expected you to be seen together after the disgrace Von Tracht brought upon you?”

“Less disgrace than being caught by bandits,” Metzeler’s eye twitched.

“Bandits?” Weil replied with the fairest hint of humor, “Please, Von Metzeler, surely you have figured out by now that mere bandits do not derail and ambush trains. Many here are willing to consume such lies they are fed, but there is no need for anybody with a modicum of talent to pretend to believe what everybody else does.”

“Soldiers, then.” You say, “Imperial Soldiers.”

“I found it hard to believe at first, that they could just spring from a safe, secure territory,” Weil leaned his cheek upon a palm, “I objected, told them they would regret their actions, the quotes often said when captured by an enemy. Then, they told me things I had never heard from my comrades.”

He rolled his hand down and rested his chin upon the back of it, “They said they had heard of my exploits. My sacrifices. The injustice I suffered when demanding the merest of recompenses for my service. And they said they could reward me with what I deserved, and more.”
“You sold out your country.” Metzeler spurted in uncontainable disbelief. “You, a war hero, a veteran of the Archduke’s chosen, sold out your country for gold and titles?”

“Do not chastise me, boy.” Weil’s tone became hard as iron, but he did not change his relaxed posture, “I have seen things you wouldn’t believe, couldn’t believe could happen to you, or your friends, comrades. The rain of shrapnel from artillery bursting in the trees, slaying all around except for myself. The thunder of Netillian tanks and the storm of dust from their stampede, the inferno of machine gun fire ripping you to pieces one by one, the hope of a sacrifice being worth the savior of your fellows being cast into the abyss as you wake up and realize you failed. Watching men discover a beauty in steel and blood that is unknowable to any but those who are damned. And in return, I do not demand pity, nor riches. Only recognition. Yet, even that is denied to my brothers and I, by those who know nothing of our struggles for their sake.”

An icy fire burned behind Weil’s eyes as he spoke, “Gold and titles are a bonus. Pennies and words. The true prize is the opportunity to have the deplorable high nobility beg like I once was forced to.” He straightened up and scratched his shoulder, “At least, such is what was promised. I don’t care if they rescind upon it. If the Reich crushes this nation into the muck that spawned it, that will be vengeance enough for the blood of my comrades.”

“You expect us to join you, then?” Metzeler tightened his fists.

“I do,” the corner of Weil’s mouth turned upwards, “Are you not both from backgrounds that are derided, despite your individual qualities? Would you not wish to graduate from the bottom to the top of these lands? It is a deal that has been made to many here. The lands of Strossvald are vast, and there is more than enough for all who are willing to raise a salute to the Kaiser.”

>”I’ll have to think on that. How about I decide that later?”
>”Sure, sounds great. Sign me up to be king, why not? It isn’t hypocritical at all to replace the people you hate and subject them to your own misery.”
>”Of course. My share has always been far less than deserved. Consider me an ally of the Kaiser.” (Bluff)

>Yes, you do have the option to not actually bluff that one. That, however, is quite the decision to make.
Glad were on the same side. Show him the seal, and proceed to knock out Metzeler.

We can get them out later, but Metzeler is likely to cause a scene and get us all killed here. Bluffing by the way.
Now that he mentions it, Strossvald does seem to be pretty fucked, and we could use some more land and titles. Would defecting really be such a bad idea for us?

Also we should ask why it is that he so readily recognizes all of us and what he's still doing here when the whole base is about to be overrun and everyone in it turned into sacrificial pawns.
“Now hold on,” you say, “How do you recognize us so easily? You don’t just keep a list of your troops on you at all times, do you?”

“I recognize Von Metzeler because he comes from a clan of villains,” Weil smirked, “You, on the other hand, Von Tracht. You caught my attention because of how angry you made the high nobility on that last maneuver you did. I hope you realize, that was meant to be a flawless victory for the 1st company. The stunt you pulled placed them in a position where it was quite possible for them to be defeated, something that would be unacceptable to the elite of the elite.”

“And…” you test the grounds of what Weil knows, “You do know what’s happening in less than an hour, yes?”

“Of course I know.” Weil scoffed, “That is none of your concern, though. You are to be made part of Von Blum’s family, yes? His son in law should not be found by his attacking forces among the wreckage. I am not long for here, either. There is a battle to be fought, certainly, but the brunt of the casualties will be on those who were deemed unfit or unwilling to take part in the Reich’s new order. It is unfortunate, but if no blood is spilt, the Archduke will certainly not be fooled.”

>Voting for previous is still on. Going to let there be a certain decision before I go through with it.
How would a reoccupation by the Reich be viewed by the general populace? Obviously most of the neighboring countries fear it but how deep is the anti-Reich sentiment in Strossvald?
That entails a bit of history.

There are people who have lineage from the lands across the mountains to the west, who are called Demimperi. These people have a strong connection to their homeland, and thus to their great ancestry. They are tolerated, but unpopular among the ruling class. These people are, predictably, common in territories bordering the Reich.

When Kaiser Alexander, the first Emperor of the Grossreich, conquered the territories of Sosalia over a hundred years ago, the occupation was rather brutal. While many would argue (primarily people from the Reich) in the future that this turned out for the better, the fact remained that the occupation of the Kaiser’s troops was an affair that deeply scarred the populace of the occupied territories. Cultures and languages and dialects became extinct as they were stomped out in favor of promoting the culture of the Reich. This suppression of Non-Reich customs was so thorough, there are aspects of the region’s cultural revolutions that have been lost forever; countless works of art, plays, music, political treatises. Analysts in other countries theorize that the Reich’s occupation set back social development in these countries by decades.

Alexander, while young like Henrik, was not known as a kind ruler. His greatness came from military conquest, not from political aptitude or progressive reforms. Thus he was uncaring of the suffering his empire caused, only appreciating the unity that came as a result.

Most of the common people and the less educated are taught that the Reich is an enemy, but never taught why that is. For them, the culture of a hundred years past is largely irrelevant to their present concerns.

The nobility despise the Reich, and also despise Henrik in particular because of his uprooting of the upper classes in his rise to power, but fear the Grossreich’s strength enough to be tempted into deals even if they were not partial to the people running it.
Signy a cute, and Malachi too!

>Ask why he's in "voluntary confinement"
>Then ask what happened at that excersise when the rest of the company was mysteriously defeated
>While he's talking, surreptuously move closer, then suddenly pull the gun on him and close his mouth with our hand.
>"And there you go, subjecting men to the same hell you went through for your own benefit. Dividing people at fit and unfit is exactly what aristocrats do, Leutenant Colonel."
>Attempt to stealthily exfiltrate through the tunnel with Lt.Col. in tow.
>Does the tunnel end here or continue further? Consult Signy for the optimal escape path.
Thanks for the info. Given what we know, an annexation by the Reich sounds a lot like out of the frying pan into the fire. Especially given the current stance the Kasier has against the aristocracy, I'd doubt that the people that support this rebellion will get to enjoy their rewards for very long when the Reich pushes for greater centralisation.

By this point we probably know too much to back out peacefully, and I doubt Metzeler will say yes to this.
So I'm going to cut it here til next weekend, but so far as I can see, the (albeit by two I think to one and one) majority consensus is to grab the guy and go, yes?

I won't be doing the next update til next weekend, but I'd like to be sure of it regardless.

The only reason I haven't gone through with the questions here is because they're combined with an action, so I'm going to wait until the course of action is further decided, or if there are no objections, I'll hit this come Friday evening. I'll assume this is what you want to do unless otherwise is said.
“Voluntary confinement, you say.” You frown at Weil, “You don’t seem to need to be confined.”

“It makes my allies feel better.” Weil shrugs, “No matter what I may say, they remain overly cautious. If I stay where they want me, within reach, I keep their trust.”

“I can’t say I’m very satisfied with you saying that we were meant to lose either, in that final exercise,” you inch closer.

“Von Tracht, don’t act as if it wasn’t obvious.” Weil smirked slightly, “1st Company was the elite. Your 2nd Company was, by comparison, the castoffs. It was already practically fixed with nearly all of them having crews of their own retinues rather than a pick and mix from the community barrel. The fact that most of them were vastly more talented than any of you was an unnecessary assurance of victory. It was a matter of thoroughbred racehorses against pack mules.”

“Perhaps it is unwise to underestimate the mules,” you say, and before Weil can comment on that, you draw your service revolver from your waist, and with a single motion, draw the hammer back with your thumb while shoving the barrel into his chest while pushing back his head with your hand over his mouth.

“You seem to have forgotten that dividing people at fit and unfit is exactly what those aristocrats you so hate do, Lieutenant Colonel.” You accuse Weil as you put your finger over the trigger of your sidearm while twisting it deeper into his ribs, keeping a thumb on the hammer, “Is this empty vengeance worth putting your men through a hell like yours? Are you so heartless that you would do such for your own benefit?”

You looked at Weil’s face expecting shock. Much to your confusion, there was no such expression. You could swear you saw a hint of smugness…

Weil jerked backwards, flipping over in his chair and rolling onto his feet. With one arm, he had grabbed the chair, and whipped it at your head with a strength you did not anticipate him having.

>Try to dodge
>Try to catch and return
>Take a shot
Catch and return
Roll a d100 for that, -20 for the difficulty.
Rolled 50 (1d100)

Malachi will avenge us, right? Right??
Sorry for the delay, sleep is too sweet a mistress to leave the arms of easily.

You made an attempt to catch the chair. Your hands rose; but you your hands brushed against it too late, as the seat crashed into your chin. The chair clatters to the side as you recoil backwards, recovering just in time to see Weil leap down the secret tunnel.

“We have to get him!” Signy drew the pistol in her waistband; most of you carried revolvers, but she had maintained the pistol you had first seen pointed at your nose; an automatic model, one too expensive for the Army to care for replacement of the old service wheelguns. You had heard some of them had mechanisms that allowed them to fire as quickly as a submachinegun; a feature you were uncertain Signy’s firearm had, but were thankful you didn’t find out about the hard way.

Von Metzeler had run to the door and leaned against it. It was thick, heavy metal, the sort good for blocking out sound. It wasn’t a guarantee that the guards outside had heard the racket.

“I advise against being so hasty,” Von Metzeler called to you, “He didn’t know about those tunnels, there’s no way he’ll find a way out the girl doesn’t know about.”

“We don’t have TIME for that!” Signy shouted, before dashing towards the desk, aiming to leap over it…

>Attempt to intercept her; following Weil down here is a bad idea
>Follow her, trust Metzeler to hold the fort up here
>Call everybody to go down the tunnel
>Attempt to intercept her; following Weil down here is a bad idea
In the narrow tunnel he'll shoot us dead.
“Now, hold on-“ you try and reason with Signy, but she isn’t in a mood for reasoning.

Before you can even attempt to finish what you were saying, Signy plants her free hand on the desk and begins to jump over it.

>Grab her
>Knock the desk over to spoil her leap
>Tackle her

Roll a d100 for whatever. It’ll likely be easier to affect the environment around Signy instead of going for her directly, but you’re more liable to hurt her this way too.
Rolled 83 (1d100)

>Grab her
>Hiss into her ear "He will shoot you like a fish in a barrel"
Did we manage not to kill Signy too dead?
You manage to react more quickly to the agitated girl than you do to airborne furniture, thankfully. Your arm snaps out and catches Signy’s ankle. With a heavy clatter, her front made it over the desk while her aft stayed with you.

“Oof!” she grunted as the edge of the desk caught her just below the ribs, “What the hell are you doing? Oh!”

The last exclamation was a response to you grabbing her around her hips and pulling her back over before she could try and wiggle over into the hole.

“Could you wait until after we’ve caught this worm to molest me?” Signy snapped at you.

“If saving your life counts as molestation, then I refuse.” you rebuke her, “If you dived down after him, he’d have killed you. It’d have been like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Signy is far from pleased by your tactical analysis. “He couldn’t have drawn that quickly, and besides, we can’t just do nothing!”

“Why do all the women in my life try to kill themselves after meeting me?” you wonder aloud, “Weil is an experienced soldier. He’s served with the Silver Lances for years, underestimating him would be the stupidest, and last decision of your life.”

“With respect, Von Tracht,” Metzeler says from the door, “We will have to catch him, or abandon this operation immediately. Masked man, come and hold this while I try and salvage what I can from the dresser.”

>No need; Two people will stay here and continue the “meeting” while the others try and ambush him at the other end.
>He doesn’t know the tunnel system; we can take our time while he gets lost.
>Grab what you can in exactly ten seconds, we’re getting out of here.
>No need; Two people will stay here and continue the “meeting” while the others try and ambush him at the other end.
You decide to cut off Weil, should he find his way through the tunnels into the only open base entrance, at Signy’s room.

Even with only half of you, it would still be two against one at either end; reliable odds.

The only question was who would stay behind to preserve the illusion of a meeting going on, to dissuade the guards from investigating.

Malachi was an obvious choice to take out, since he wasn’t very talkative in the first place, and when he decided to be it was often unproductive, and Metzeler seemed to be concerned about collecting evidence so it would have been prudent to leave him in the room.

So the matter was really whether you’d bring Signy or not. Whether she liked it or not, her impulsiveness combined with a lack of real training or tactical acuity made her a liability in this situation if not carefully watched over; you’d rather not have to fish her corpse out of the tunnels if she decided you didn’t know better.

>Pick two to leave in the office and two to go to the blocking point
>Actually, the best team is Signy and Malachi. Signy knows the base layout and Malachi can fight well, while all we have going for us is the protagonist status. We will stay here with Metzeler.
Perhaps you can stand to trust your subordinates a bit more. It’s not like you have to watch over every detail of a plot. You come up with a plan to send Signy and Malachi after Weil.

“I have an important task for you, Signy,” you try to redirect her aggression, “You and Malachi…the man covered in wrapping, need to go back to the other entrance to this tunnel and try and catch Weil there. When he comes out; don’t go in after him. Von Metzeler and I will stay here; we’re still conducting a meeting with Weil.”

Signy’s eyes widen in ambitious hope, “Really? It’s…up to me?”

Well, really, it was up to Malachi and his brute strength; if you had heard him correctly earlier (an astounding assumption) he had stated the source of his combat skill to be, in some way, from the Yaegirs; forest people from the Yaegir Forests of southern Naukland, a self-governing people who pledged allegiance to the Federal Republic of Naukland. The Yaegir were famous for being particularly ferocious fighters, especially in close quarters, where they would fight with heavy brush knives instead of bayonets with unique bloodlust.

You nod to Signy though, not mentioning your thoughts. “You know this place the best out of anybody here. There aren’t other exits than your room, right?”
“Not really, most of the tunnels were closed up.” Signy said quickly, “Other than the ones that go outside, but…”

“That’s fine,” you say, “If he finds his way outside he isn’t a problem here anymore. He can’t raise an alarm and we have a little more time. Can you do it?”
“Y-yeah!” Signy smiled uncertainly, “I won’t let you down.”

You gave the idea of Malachi being a Yaegir some thought, but you had no idea if Yaegirs spoke his strange dialect. Besides their fearsome reputation, you knew nothing of their culture. The price of specializing in military studies.
After you repeat the plan to your constantly disguised comrade, it was time to act. You crack the door open and push Malachi and Signy out; you all have holstered your weapons, of course.

“The Lieutenant Colonel would like to continue speaking with me and another in private,” you tell the guards as they turn to look at you after spying Malachi and Signy moving past them, “It will be…a bit of a while.”

“Why is Weil not telling us?” one demands.

“As I said, he’s busy. Ask him when he’s done.” You tell them with a veneer of frustration.

The curious guard simply shrugs and faces outward once more as you close the door. Thankfully, your bluff worked. Whether it was because it was good enough or because the guards didn’t care enough, you didn’t particularly concern yourself with.

It weighed oddly heavily on you to send off your subordinates like that. It was a rare occasion that you entrusted military tasks to anybody who was not of proper experience or education; as was typical at the academy. You comforted yourself with the slim likelihood that Malachi had to be a veteran of some sort to be so talented at brawling, and to have been around Yaegirs.

You watched the tunnel and listened as Von Metzeler rifled through the drawers, stuffing whatever he found into his pockets roughly.

“Not so concerned with subtlety anymore, I see,” you say out the side of your mouth.

“Subtlety is preferable, but it does not seem to be an option at present.” Metzeler said firmly as he turned over a book and shook it out, a few little notes fluttering out. Metzeler snatched them from the air before they could reach the floor.

You heard some scuffling noises and grunts, a few vague cries, echoing down the tunnel. Even if Malachi had difficulties speaking your language, he comprehended it well enough; it was unlikely that Signy had pressed him into storming the tunnel after your instructions to do otherwise.

But what if she had gone in alone? What if Weil was proving to be more troublesome than thought, and they needed help? Such theories intruded upon your mind as you struggled to listen for the noises beyond the tunnel’s eerie whistling echoes of autumn breeze.

>Peek in, and go; Metzeler would have enough time to follow you after he was done, and you’d be coming from behind Weil in any case
>Trust your comrades; your job is to keep this place secure.
>Tell Metzeler to pack it up and follow you down; he has to have gotten plenty by now.
Ask Metzeler does he need anyone around, otherwise we're going down
Sorry I haven't kept y'all informed but I have been dead asleep til about half an hour ago. So instead of trying to squeeze out what slim rest of the day remains I'll cut what we have here and put it to the next thread for next week. Thanks for your participation.

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