You are Richter Von Tracht, Lieutenant of Panzers in the Army of Strossvald. You were currently, after a few encounters with less than pleasant folk and an introduction to a risky, secret operation, trying to get a replacement loader for your tank. There wasn’t anything wrong in particular with your current, loader, besides the fact that he was nominally a radio operator. He had been budged out of his normal position by Maddalyn Von Blum, your resident specialist in the spiritual, and also, through questionable choice of hobbies, a competent radio operator. However, she also had conditional blindness, no combat training, and was also your fiancée. Despite only having known each other for a few days, you’d rather she not get herself killed, so you went to receive a replacement crew member like you had prepared for.Nobody but you knew about said preparation; Maddalyn would have likely objected to it had she known, and you didn’t want to risk giving her a reason to possibly use her familial influence, which far exceeded your own pitiful standings. You doubted she would actually do something like that, but it never hurt to be careful.When you had gone to the resupply and personnel offices for the area of Salzbrucke, you had run into an obstruction to your plans. A weedy clerk who had given you a choice to either receive standard replacements, likely made up of reservists who only had hasty retraining and other less competent detritus, or “a fine, fine loader,” in exchange for a “favor.”The man clearly wanted you to either make your demand worth his time, or for you to give up and make his job easy. You were a bit more persistent than that, however.“Whoever you have can’t be that good,” you retorted to his claims of having unique and rare individuals for recruitment, “I don’t mind doing favors for a good reason, but you make these mere replacements out to be some hidden trump card. They’re loaders, how good could he possibly be? Sell me on them.”“Ever hear of a Yaegir?” the man grinned at you.
You had, but mostly because of their martial fame. They were tribal people that lived in the southwestern forests of Naukland, whose lands made up one of the constituent states of the aforementioned federal republic. Yaegirs were known for their ferocity and brutality in warfare, and many indeed used this fame to find gainful employment elsewhere. You had heard tell that part of becoming an adult in some Yaegir communities involved going to war somewhere; they were most commonly found near their homes, but if you looked hard enough in the right places, one could find a Yaegir just about anywhere; their homes were rural and their lives in the forests were hard. While they bred great fighters, hunters, and trackers, many who left for too long would be seduced by the luxury of civilization.“Sure.” You say.“One of them’s a Yaegir. Fought in the war against the Netillians back in ‘30. Did some time in the border patrols after, had some hang ups about being in a tank apparently. When we were scrounging the reserves for people we found him though.”“And now he dutifully serves as a carrot.” You muse, looking over the document given to you. “You said he’s a loader though. I was under the impression Yaegir were more personal in their dealings.”“I dunno,” the clerk shrugged, “The page says what it does. Ask him why he wanted to be in a tank if you want to know that much.”“Maybe,” you flip through a few more pages, “Who else is apparently so valuable?”“This guy,” the logistics man points out a name, too distant and small printed for you to see, “Former Sosaldtian mercenary. Had a change of heart a couple years back and immigrated over here. Rode with some band called the Iron Hogs, led by some mean bastard called Hell Gitt. Over in the east, they were right famous, and apparently, mean as all hell.”Mercenaries were one of Sosaldt’s principle exports, along with drugs, crime, and the rare metals from the southern mines that were one of the few reasons anybody tolerated the state. Many so-called mercenaries were bandits, who rebranded themselves when raiding wasn’t profitable for whatever reason.“I’m sure they are famous, but what does that have to do with how good a loader he is?” you ask.“You said you wanted the good guys,” the replacements broker tipped back in his chair and scratched his nose, his feet kicked up on the desk, “that reputation speaks of quality. Or would you rather have some city boy fresh from basic?”
“Any other options?” you skim through a few lines in the document, picking random lines to look engaged.“One more that’s memorable,” the clerk let his feet down with a clatter as his chair rocked back forward and he reached into the fistful of papers you held to pick out a dog-eared page. “Emrean War veteran, if you can believe it. Also fought up north under the Kaiser, almost six years ago. Belongs in a museum, if you ask me, but no, came around here, got enlisted again. Seems like an oddball, but he’s definitely got experience.”You considered your options.>Jorgen Mann, the Yaegir>Alek Zellt, the Sosaldtian mercenary>Dorian Bonne, the Imperial>Wow, a northy tree man, a bandit, and an honest to Judge above Imperial. How about somebody who I can actually trust?>Other>Past threads in Pastebin @|| https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh || Anything else that anybody would like added as part of a general pastebin should be requested; I'll get to it if and when I can.>Announcements and other crap on my twitter is @scheissfunker
>>1430920>Jorgen Mann, the YaegirReally our only choice with the Imp and the bandit
>>1430920>Dorian Bonne, the Imperial
>>1430920>Wow, a northy tree man, a bandit, and an honest to Judge above Imperial. How about somebody who I can actually trust?
>>1430920>Jorgen Mann, the YaegirGood to see another thread
>>1430920I really like the sound of the Imperial, but don't count me unless it's to break a tie since it would be a tie if you counted me right now
You mulled over the choices. None of them seemed all that trustworthy, by way of being foreigners. Some might call that prejudiced, you knew, but if the history of warfare in Sosalia, the region of the continent that you called home, had taught you anything, it was that when a war went hot, aliens could not be trusted.The Yaegir was the least suspicious, at least. The governments of the north had little interest in making war beyond their mountains, and a Yaegir should at least have loyalty to nobody rather than loyalty to a potential enemy.You didn’t consider the brigand to even be an option. Sosaldtians were a vile, greedy people, deserving of little but contempt. Their lower classes pillaged their own as well as their neighbors, and the betters of their people turned a blind eye to the chaos save for when it benefited them. Their lands were wasted, inhabited by such a rotten heap of villains.Perhaps you were a little influenced by familial history and vengeance. Only somewhat.While the Imperials were traditional enemies, they at least had the stuff of civilized peoples, unlike the Sosaldtians. Pride, culture, revolutionary minds; you would be quite taken with them had Kaiser Alexander and his kin not proven to be the bane of the land. The man’s experience also spoke of great value to you, but the risk was too much for that to make him the superior choice.
“Give me the Yaegir, Jorgen Mann.” You finally decide, “But, hold onto the Imperial for me, if you could” You add quickly. There was going to be war; you saw no reason to not prepare for yet more replacements. “What favor did you want done?”“Oh, nothing much,” the clerk whistled as he signed off on a few papers, “A few war trophies.”“…that’s it?” You ask. That didn’t seem very difficult of a favor; it was harder to not accumulate trophies, especially considering how crews tended to accumulate them as gambling stock.“Well, certain war trophies, you see,” the clerk pushed a few papers to the side and laid his hands on the desk, “Maybe not what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking like a pistol, a hat, a belt buckle. What I’m talking about is people.”“Prisoners?” you ask. That wasn’t hard to do either, although they were mostly sent to the rear instead of hand delivered.“Ehhhh…” the replacements officer looked away and grimaced, “Not really. The laws of war apply to prisoners. Once the war’s over, they have to be released. Even war criminals have to be tried, and then serve a sentence. What the higher ups want are more exotic talent, which they can use, they can keep, you see?”You had heard of some foreign soldiers emigrating to Strossvald and signing up, largely as informants and advisors. How many of them were actually obtained this way, you wonder.>Whatever, I’m sure they’ll find it preferable to death. Are you looking for anybody in particular?>I don’t like it, but I don’t have much choice, do I? I’ll keep an eye out.>I’m a soldier, not a kidnapper. Even the enemy deserves respect. The deal’s off.>Other
>>1436157>I’m a soldier, not a kidnapper. Even the enemy deserves respect. The deal’s off.We can just take a loader from one of our other tanks for the operation, and find a new one later when we have more time.
>>1436157>I don’t like it, but I don’t have much choice, do I? I’ll keep an eye out.
>>1436167One more question: Is this how they've been getting these people?
>>1436169These options in particular?It's possible, but not likely. As far as Richter knows the people without prior service came of their own volition, since there hasn't been a war with the Grossreich in forever. It would be possible for the Sosaldtian to have come around that way, theoretically, but it's more likely that they came over for other reasons.There's also that the more suspicious people are advisers and analysts and such. Strossvald has more than enough population to not need to kidnap foreigners to use in frontline duties.The Yaegir was in the army beforehand, just in reserves til recently.
>>1436157>>I’m a soldier, not a kidnapper. Even the enemy deserves respect. The deal’s off.
“I’m not interested,” you reply, “I’m a soldier, not a kidnapper. Find somebody else to do your dirty work.” You turn around to leave.“Hey, hey wait,” the clerk got up, “There’s no need for that. If you don’t like that, fine, we can think of something else.”“What, do you want me to find you some Hourglass?” you jeer back sarcastically. Hourglass was the common name for refined extract from a type of venomous land crab. It was one of the most heinous drugs in the world; it overloaded the senses with pleasure, but death became certain from damage to the organs done by it. The venom itself was not nearly as potent, and a single dose of Hourglass required the harvesting of dozens of the terrestrial crustaceans the stuff came from.“Don’t be like that,” the logistician repeated with exasperation, “I get it. You’ve got some sort of honor thing, I see it a lot. That’s fine. We can do this on the up and up. Here, I’ll even throw you a bone. You get your crewman, and if you work with me, I’ve got a bonus. All on the house.”“A bonus?” Curiosity reined you back in.The man smiled crookedly, “Yeah, a bonus. I’ve heard tell of a weird shell somebody found. They don’t know what it is, but me and my superiors can pull a few strings to get it…Hoo, I didn’t think you’d be that interested, but that really hooked you, didn’t it?”“What’s the new favor?” you say levelly.“Simple. Valsten’s supposed to have a few new toys, so new, and secret, they don’t want us to look at them. If I know them, they’ll blow them up rather than capture them. So we want something big and cool. Simple and fair, right? No laws against taking machines.”>I think I need more motivation. I’m not seeing enough in it for me to give special treatment.>Forget it. I’ll be taking that loader and leaving. You can find somebody else for your scavenger hunt.>Sure. Sure, that’s fine. I’ll see what I can find.>Other
>>1437507>>Sure. Sure, that’s fine. I’ll see what I can find.
>>1437507>Sure. Sure, that’s fine. I’ll see what I can find.
>>1437507Sure. Sure, that’s fine. I’ll see what I can find.
“Sure,” you accept, “Sure, that’s fine.”“Come on, it’s fair, isn’t it?” the clerk sat back down with a satisfied sigh and leaned back again, “This’ll work out for everybody involved.”“Just get that loader to me,” you snap back, “My platoon’s at the old manor on the hill. First favor you can do me for jumping through your hoops is saving me a walk to company command.”---With that handled, you got on your way, kicking a few offending pieces of garbage out of your way as you made your way onto the footpaths. A line of army trucks, presumably on last minute resupply, sat rumbling behind each other as each had their cargo checked by a band of teamsters supervised by an officer with a clipboard. The word that the war was going to start tomorrow must have been going to be announced soon; nobody you saw had the tension of knowing battle was nigh. The choking fumes and dust of the numerous Handelwagens, as well as the particularly noxious smoke from the engine of a heavy half-track in dire need of maintenance, ill suited your mood at the moment. You took a side path down a street with fresher air, lined with scrawny young trees that somehow took in the blasted soil. The ever present stench of charcoal was here as it was all over, but it was at least less offensive to your nose.These lanes, as you moved further from the military facilities, seemed to be a popular spot for inhabitants of the town, particularly the ever loitering, ever gregarious curio merchants.“Oil of catfish!” cried an old crone weighted by ragged bolts of wool, “The essence of the river! Lost virility and youth may come to you once more, for just ten pfennings!”This particular branch of road was lined with various oddly dressed individuals, all trying to sell strange goods of dubious material worth to all who came down the street. Some had handcarts, others wagons or cars, some had but long coats, from inside hung their merchandise. Many of those drawn to actually engage with the strange merchants were young women; presumably the massive influx of soldiers had sparked a demand for means to draw affection, something many of the sellers here claimed to have some way or another of doing through purchase of whatever thing they had that would otherwise seem to be completely worthless.Like Catfish oil. Glennz catfish, you knew vaguely through various texts on survival you had read to improve your hunting, as well as to educate your observations from wanders through nature, were greasy, unappetizing fish. Oil was about the only thing one could get from their stringy, boney bodies, and it tended to be of poor quality. They held odd spiritual significance though, possibly because of their fondness for carrion.
Among the row of ashen mystics loudly hawking their wares to passerby, sat a figure you had seen before.His particular brand of odd appearance didn’t seem out of place; it was likely the only place around that he could fit into, and his grim demeanor separated him from the others better than his dress did. Before you sat the Riverman, the soulbinder who had so rudely accosted you earlier.He hadn’t seemed to have expected you to come through here. He stared back at you for a few seconds, before quickly rising.“Wait,” he demanded, “You, wait there. I want to talk.”“I don’t want whatever you’re selling.” You say back, walking past him.“I want to talk,” the Riverman repeated, stepping up and in front of you again, “Perhaps I was wrong to attempt to coerce you by force. Allow me a chance to appeal to your sense of reason and justice.”>Frankly, you’ve given me no reason to cooperate with you at all. Go away.>What’s in it for me if I listen? You’ve done nothing but antagonize me, and the chance to have a conversation isn’t a sweet enough deal right now.>Get to the point, then. I haven’t got all day.>Other
>>1438990>>What’s in it for me if I listen? You’ve done nothing but antagonize me, and the chance to have a conversation isn’t a sweet enough deal right now.
>>1438990>What’s in it for me if I listen? You’ve done nothing but antagonize me, and the chance to have a conversation isn’t a sweet enough deal right now.
“What’s in it for me if I listen?” you don’t feel any fear for this kook. Ever since you discovered your “presence had been weaved” or whatever bizarre thing, you felt more certain in how you’d deal with a soulbinder personally. Up until now, they had been mysterious, and held power in that. Knowing that at least the Riverman couldn’t harm you gave you no small amount of confidence. “You’ve done nothing but antagonize me, and the chance to have a conversation isn’t a sweet enough deal right now.”“A deal..?” The riverman looked through you quizzically, “Even men such as you, of Strossvald, who are so certain of their righteousness that they are willing to forget the grave sins committed for the ground they stand on, must have some kind of morality,” the Riverman scowled at you, “The mutilation of the innocent is a crime in Strossvald, is it not? Do you not find such actions to be barbaric? Surely doing the right thing is a reward itself?”“You’re one to talk about mutilating the innocent,” you shoot back. You don’t mind that some of the surrounding people are starting to get rather confused overhearing whatever the hell it must have sounded like the two of you were talking about.“I will not have false crimes attributed to me,” the Riverman glowered at you, eyebrow twitching, “If you are to call a mark a wound then you are an ignorant fool. That their faces become appropriately ugly is only suitable punishment for their meddling in a world where they do not belong. It exposes the cursed for what they are, and leaves but a light on all else. A mark does no harm to the ‘innocent.’”“You’re not doing a good job of convincing me.” You make a show of looking at your watch, “I have better things to do than debate philosophy of magical crap with you.”The Riverman narrowed his eyes at you, but shut his mouth for a bit. “Fine.” He spat, “I can make you a ‘deal,’ villain. I will promise to not pursue you, or your companions, or attempt to coerce any of them by force. I will limit my hunt only to the Slayer in the Darkness, your New Moon Sniper.”“A promise, how nice,” you laugh halfheartedly, “I would accept that if I could trust you further than the breadth of my arms.”“A soulbinder’s promise is not to be taken lightly,” the Riverman became more frustrated, “If I dare to break it, then feel free to call whomever your master is. They will have suitable appreciation for the deals our people make.”>Very well then. We’ll talk, for now.>You don’t get it. I’ve never met any of you wizard things that were ever nice, or that I had any reason whatsoever to trust. As far as I’ve experienced, you’re all rats. I’d like something more than empty words. (Write in)>I’ve never had any interest in catering to your whims, regardless of your justification for what you’ve done. How about I call my “master” if you don’t leave right now?>Other
>>1439049>Very well then. We’ll talk, for now.
>>1439049My tank broke down. I need a new one. Spare me a lift lads???
“Very well then. We’ll talk, for now.”“Good.” The Riverman settled himself back down, gruffly. “Here is fine. So long as you don’t become too agitated, the sort here can hear almost anything and not think a thing of it.”Yes, you were the one who would become too agitated. You contained your sarcastic remarks, however. “I’m listening, then,” you say instead.“You did heed what I said, did you not?” the Riverman asked, “This person, who for what seems to be little just reason, brings grievous harm upon those who have done nothing. Despite your arrogant outburst when we first met, I am not so ignorant of the world that I do not know that violence is a part of war.” The young Soulbinder pulled a thin, paper roll from within his coat, as well as a match. He struck it on the ground and lit the paper, which he put, smoldering, between his teeth. “This is not war, Marked One. If it is a war it is a war of whimsy, wrought with a weapon which should be in the hands of no normal man. It serves none. No land is being taken, no cause is being defended, and no freedom is being won. If a war brings nothing but suffering, should it not be done away with?” Oh, good, another one of these conversations.
“I have made it my cause to ease suffering,” the Riverman blew out a thin line of white smoke, “War may be your business, but I do not think myself naïve to think you would rather avoid it. The echoes of anguish from the past are still here, yet from where I am standing none seem to have learned anything from it.”“That’s very nice,” you reply, “But I’m only here because your lot have been gathering at the other side of the river for round two.”“An unthinking pawn, how useful,” the Riverman scoffed, “Valsten has been posturing, indeed, but has Strossvald done anything to try and avoid war? I have been up and down the river, and all of the violence I have seen has come from your side of the Glennz. Have your people been forced to hide in the dark for fear of being shot before war even comes? When war came three years ago, did Valsten burn your cities to the ground and turn their inhabitants to ash?” The Riverman threw an arm to his side, sweeping across the city’s meager skyline, “You may be blind to the ghosts of the past, Marked One, but that does not mean they are not present. If nothing is done, they will only multiply, for a reason I do not see as being worth a single life, let alone the amounts already affected.”“If you’re saying I should help you, I might need some of whatever you’re smoking there.”“I do not want your help.” the Riverman spat at you, “I have heard of your nation’s nobility. You style yourselves as knights, as examples to those supposedly lower born. I just want to know what your excuse for this is.”>I don’t need to explain myself to the likes of you. If you’re really here to stop a war, you’re too late. It’s inevitable now. Nothing you or I could do could stop it, so there isn’t anything left to do but see it to its end.>I don’t need a reason. My purpose is to serve my nation. The Archduke is not a man who wages whimsical war, and his people are deserving of defending. If war comes, the only reason I need to fight is because I am here.>Please, you act as though I either don’t know or don’t care. Does looking out for my own make me a monster? Maybe we can come to a sort of compromise, to, as you say, ease suffering.>Other
>>1442318>Please, you act as though I either don’t know or don’t care. Does looking out for my own make me a monster? Maybe we can come to a sort of compromise, to, as you say, ease suffering.
“Please,” you shake your head and hold up a hand, “you act as though I either don’t know or don’t care. Does looking out for my own make me a monster?”“Kaiser Alexander looked out for his own,” the Riverman crushed the burning paper twist in his hands into the pavement beside him, “And now you speak his language, trade in his coin. Your Archduke may call himself such but it is clear to all he wishes to be Kaiser himself.”You ignore the blunt political remarks. “Maybe we can come to a compromise,” you offer, “to, as you say, ease suffering.”“Compromise..?” the Riverman turned his head and slowly looked straight at you, “You don’t seem to understand. This is not a matter of my land or your land. This is a matter of right or wrong. Of justice. Peace, or war. There is still time to treat this sickness before it becomes a plague. Yet you, as your people, refuse, even though these facts must be plain as day to you.”You’re starting to get a bit sick of this soulbinder’s moral grandstanding. “If a man, let alone a nation, were to roll over for everything simply to preserve peace, it wouldn’t be long until the last thing he was told to give up was his life.” You say, “That is why I propose a compromise, instead of bowing before your sense of ultimate right and wrong.”“Anything less than a complete effort now will be far from enough,” the Riverman snapped, bending towards you, frustrated yet keeping level headed, “But you are giving me little choice. What is your compromise?”“What do you want?” you answer with a question.“…” the soulbinder leaned back over, away from you. “I want your New Moon Sniper. To force them to account for their crimes. At the very least, I want that. To put an end to this wanton violence that nothing will come of.”>Not a clue on that, I’m afraid. I can tell you that you’re chasing the wrong person, though. The New Moon Sniper doesn’t have the black eyes you think they have.>All I know is that you’ve got the wrong person. The person you’ve marked has done nothing. Look somewhere else.>I can take you to them, if that will make you leave. Would that satisfy you?>I don’t know anything about “my” New Moon Sniper. My compromise to you is that if you stay away from me and my comrades, I won’t interfere with your search.>Other
>>1444632>All I know is that you’ve got the wrong person. The person you’ve marked has done nothing. Look somewhere else.
>>1444632>>All I know is that you’ve got the wrong person. The person you’ve marked has done nothing. Look somewhere else.>What difference would it make, anyway? Stopping one sniper can't prevent the violence that's coming. If peace is what you really want, why do you care whether the killing is the wanton act of a single man or war waged between nations?
“All I know is that you’ve got the wrong person,” you tell the Riverman, “The person you’ve…’marked,’ has done nothing. Look somewhere else.”“There is no better place to look. One who has Earth Tears is here, and that person is the most likely to be the culprit.” The Soulbinder insists.You let out a heavy sigh, “Alright. How long have these shootings been going for? Because all of my people and I only got here yesterday. I have records to prove it.”“So you say.”“What difference would it make, anyway?” you demand, “Stopping one sniper can’t prevent the violence that’s coming. If peace is what you really want, why do you care about this one person when something worse is around the corner?”“I already said,” the Riverman slips another one of the handmade cigarettes from his coat, “Strossvald wants war as much as Valsten does. I am one man. All I can do is prevent what suffering I can, unless the nations decide on their own that they do not wish to fight. Instead they accept the notion that it is inevitable, and go merrily to a war they believe is just because it could not be helped.”“Some things happen that you can’t do anything about,” you shrug, “Sorry to hear that doesn’t change when you become some magic man with bad fashion sense.”“Magic man, hah.” The Riverman coughed.
You looked around the street, and coming from one end was quite possibly the last person you’d want the Riverman to know about. It was Hilda, the scarred huntress, and the New Moon Sniper, going down the road and glowering at the merchants she passed.“What ‘magic man’ have you met before, anyways. Did you even realize when you met, I wonder? It couldn’t-” the Riverman continued to develop his theory without you.Hilda, in the meantime, stopped in front of the both of you and looked down at you, her gaze moving from him, to you, to the Riverman again.“Hey. Guy with stupid looking whisker things.” She said in flat monotone. “…stupid?” the Riverman hadn’t expected to be interrupted, and in such a blunt way. “Who are you?”“Someone told me you sell things.” Hilda said flatly.“Things?” both you and the Riverman ask.“Yeah. Things. Like charms, for luck. Romance.”It was a good thing Hilda’s intonation was so deadpan for everything she said, otherwise it might have been more obvious how terribly she was bluffing.“Who…who told you this?” the Riverman shifted backwards, looking side to side, seemingly unsure of how to deal with this new situation.“A bunch of them,” Hilda pointed down the row of knickknack salesmen, “None of them had the thing I want.”A blatant lie, Hilda hadn’t talked with any of them, but the Riverman hadn’t been paying attention to anything but his own pompous ranting.“Really…” the Riverman said without looking at Hilda, as he seemed to look for an escape instead.“They said you do the best charms, and that I need the best. Or else my scars make me too frightening.” If Hilda was actually trying to act like a despondent ugly duckling, you couldn’t tell. “…keep what we discussed in mind, Marked One,” the Riverman got up, “Neither of us have any time for this.”Instead of snapping away like he had earlier, the Riverman walked out of sight this time like a normal person, Hilda eyeing him the whole time until he disappeared.“How did I do.”“Horribly,” you say, taking out your tin of Hungry Darkness and the paper Maddalyn had given you. Keeping the creature in your shadow, you tempt it with the treated paper, only to shut the lid back down on it when it jumps eagerly for your offering. The Riverman had left you, fairly quickly, as it seemed.“What are you doing.” Hilda asked.“Nothing,” you reply, “What are you doing here?”“I was coming to look for you. Who was that person.”>Just some freak in a coat. Were you coming because I made my end of our deal?>Somebody who wants your pretty little head. I’ve kept him off your trail; you’re welcome.>One of your many admirers from across the river. You shouldn’t be out; go home and lay low. (She is not likely to heed this advice)>Other
>>1447737>Somebody who wants your pretty little head. I’ve kept him off your trail; you’re welcome.>Though actually he's hunting your brother, he just doesn't know this.>Tell your bro not to look across the river at night.>Were you coming because I made my end of our deal?
>>1447828Pretty much this
“That man,” you heave yourself up, “is somebody who wants your pretty little head. I’ve kept him off your trail; you’re welcome.”“Don’t be so direct here.” Hilda said back “The only thing these crap hawkers are good for is gossip. Tell me somewhere more private.”“How scandalous.”“Whatever,” Hilda’s flinty eyes looked through you, shutting very slightly, “Just come over here.”Hilda led you into an alleyway a couple of streets down, which seemed to swirl with flakes of ashes that either somehow lingered for three years, or had spontaneously appeared from nothing. The possibility you didn’t want to recognize, that somehow seemed more likely, was that this place was haunted by some specter and this was but one of the signs it was around.“Nobody will be listening here,” Hilda turned to you, “People, especially the sort we just left, don’t like coming around to the building we’re behind. Say it’s haunted.”“Is it haunted?” you glance around at the death-gray walls, and tried not to let the intrusive thoughts turn into more whispers in your mind.“It’s whatever you want it to be.” Hilda paid no regard to the peculiar desolation that set this apart from its neighbors, “Now tell me.”
“Well,” you reflexively look around for anybody snooping, despite Hilda saying there wouldn’t be any, “That person calls himself the Riverman. He’s looking for the New Moon Sniper, who, without him knowing it, just asked him, in the least convincing acting I’ve ever seen, for some trinket to help with her romantic life.”“So Bertram told you then.” Hilda surmised. You weren’t sure if her continued lack of feeling in her voice was because she wasn’t surprised, or if her emotions were really that subdued. “He did,” you lean back against the wall, immediately regretting it when you feel a tingling against your spine. “He wanted you to stop, not that anybody else seems to want you to other than the freak I was talking with. He’s rather protective of you, isn’t he?”“We look out for each other. Even if it isn’t asked for.”“Did you ask him for any help in finding an eligible bachelor?” you smirk like a smartass.“…” Hilda smoldered at you, betraying ever so slightly the first outward emotion you’ve seen from her. “That’s not important.”“Your brother tried to make a deal with me for his service, said you had trouble with men.” You tried to explain.“I said that it’s not important.” Hilda said through her teeth, slowly. “More about this Riverman, not…this.”“Fine, fine,” you mime throwing salt over your shoulder, “He’s looking for you, but he’s set on thinking you have black eyes. So really, he’s looking for your brother, not you, even though your brother’s been in prison until very recently.”“Black eyes.” Hilda echoed, “How do you know about them. We don’t even have them anymore.”“Your brother told me his life story,” you said, “He kept one, and hid it behind that eyepatch he has. But yes, the Riverman’s looking for people with black eyes because that’s how he thinks you shoot so well in the dark. Because you can see in it.”“Normal eyes see at night perfectly well, as long as you know where to look from.”“That’s nice. Point being that you might want to tell your brother to not take any nighttime walks, or look suspicious around the river.” You warn Hilda, “He…it’s hard to explain, but the best I can sum it up is that the Riverman’s a wizard and he can do all sorts of weird things. You can’t shoot him dead and he can do the see-your-spirit thing like your brother can.”“I know what he is,” Hilda said, “My father used to sell water to those sort of people. Bertram told you that, didn’t he.”“Eh, yes,” you scratch the back of your head under your cap, “That makes things easier. Just don’t do anything brash and things should be fine for now.”“I haven’t been caught yet.” Hilda said with what seemed like would have been confidence coming from anybody else. “I’m not laying low, though. I have to help you after you helped me.”
That answered the question you were about to ask. “Your brother didn’t seem to approve,” you noted.“My brother wants to keep me safe. I want to keep him safe, too.” Hilda replied. ”We can’t both get what we want. He can leave if he likes. He’s better suited for the world, anyways. My place is here, not wherever he wants me to flee to.” “You’re of Strossvald, though, aren’t you?” you asked, “This place can’t be much of a home for you.”“Not this city, no,” Hilda pointed to the west, “The riverside. I was born there, my ancestors died there. It’s the only place I’ve ever known, and I did nothing to defend it three years ago. I can’t leave; I don’t want to, and I couldn’t even if I did.”You didn’t have much to say about that. Part of what made Strossvald strong were its people’s commitments, not necessarily to their lords and the nobility, but to the land they lived on. A Lord’s duty was theoretically to his people and the land the Archduke had bequeathed to him; chivalrous nobility was always popular with the people, but Hilda hadn’t mentioned the Von Varbonns, popular though they were for their defense of the land three years ago. It seemed her connection to the river was more venerable than that.“What were you and that man talking about, though,” Hilda changed the subject. “If he is as you say he is, I don’t know why he’d want to talk instead of forcing it out of you.”“He tried that. It didn’t work, as you can see,” you said smugly. “So he tried the next best thing and tried to sway me to his black and white moral code. That worked slightly better, in that we at least remained relatively civil. He doesn’t approve of your ‘whimsical slaughter’ as he put it.”“It isn’t whimsical, and it isn’t a slaughter.” Hilda retorted coolly, “I’ve never killed a man. Anybody I shot was never alone, and my aim’s good enough to never shoot in a place where they could bleed to death before they could be helped.”“Why did you do it, though?” you asked, out of curiosity.“…Why do you think.” Hilda asked, “I want to know what you think, first. There’s a few stories, not that they get close.”>Patriotic duty, I would think. War is on the horizon, and the thinner the enemy’s lines are, the more certain victory is.>Vengeance, maybe? You lived here when Valsten invaded last, maybe something unpleasant happened, and you need to get back at them for it?>I liked the story about you being in love with a seagull, to be honest.>Other
>>1448638>I only see two options. Either you want to intimidate the seagulls into holding back, or provoke them into violence. As I see it, either one could happen. Would it be the one you want though?
>>1448638>>I liked the story about you being in love with a seagull, to be honest.
“I liked the story about you being in love with a seagull, to be honest.” You snipe at Hilda.“Seagulls.” Hilda said, “I prefer to call them kliefnaz. Or Bilgies.”You’d heard of the former. An abbreviated form of the name of Sea Roaches. It was the sort of thing that one said to southerners if they were looking for a fight, a much more provocative thing than the only mildly abrasive “seagull.” Since it was a slur that applied to most of the peoples of the southern coasts, it’d fallen out of favor because of Strossvald’s relations with East Valsten. The latter name, though…“Bilgies?” you asked.“You know, the bilge. Bottom of a boat. The stagnant water there. Bilgies.”“Bilgies,” you repeated to yourself. You hadn’t heard of this name, or how offensive it was supposed to be. Not like you intended to say anything nice to the people you were going to have to try and kill anyways. “So you have a thing for them then?”“Don’t be stupid. I hate that rumor.” Hilda said blankly. For a story she hated, she couldn’t summon much forcefulness to highlight her dislike for it.“I was only kidding anyways,” you say defensively, “In seriousness, I only see two options. Either you want to intimidate the seagulls-““Bilgies.”“…whatever, into holding back, or provoke them into violence. As I see it, either one could happen.” You give a halfhearted shrug, “Would it be the one you want, though?”Hilda leaned back against the blackened wall behind her and thought for a minute. “I’m one person, army man. I don’t think I could do either of those alone, even if I wanted to.”“Shooting people tends to piss their mother country off.” You say out the side of your mouth.“War was inevitable when I started my night hunts.” Hilda let the sarcasm slide without direct comment, “They want it, and we want it. Everybody wanted it even back when my brother started shooting people, and that was a while ago. He wanted to have his second chance he missed three years ago. The way I see it, it can’t be stopped anymore, not that anybody wants it to be stopped.”
“So what’s the reason, then?” you press on.“I want to save their lives.” Hilda stared at you, unblinking. “By shooting them?” you ask, half expecting some sort of joke.“They might be kliefnaz, but even they have families. They have mothers, sisters, grandparents, children. A man with a limp can still work a trade. Even if they can’t pull a trigger, they can push a plow.” Hilda pushes a foot up against the wall and settled further into the construction with a little, short sigh, “I’ve never killed a man. I wouldn’t ever do it.”“So that’s it,” she said, pushing herself off the wall, “Disappointing, isn’t it. Maybe you were expecting something a bit meaner, appropriately merciless. Sorry.”>You’re being pretty unrealistic about this whole thing. Even if you think you’re saving their lives, they still want to kill you well enough. Are you going to keep this up even when war comes?>Killing people isn’t that bad. Everybody has loved ones, that doesn’t give them a pass in war. It’s either us or them, there’s no compromise in a battle.>That’s oddly noble of you, in a strange way. If only every person had the same regard for the lives of others even when they’re out for your blood, maybe we wouldn’t find ourselves fighting so much.>Other
>>1451140>That’s oddly noble of you, in a strange way. If only every person had the same regard for the lives of others even when they’re out for your blood, maybe we wouldn’t find ourselves fighting so much.
>>1451140That's oddly noble of you. However you're being unrealistic about the whole thing.
“That’s…oddly noble of you.” You say to Hilda, “If only every person had the same regard for the lives of others even when they’re out for your blood, maybe we wouldn’t find ourselves fighting so much.”“Laying it on a bit thick, aren’t you.” Hilda muttered back. “Not really,” you brush aside Hilda’s blunt remark, “It’s about as compassionate as you can get when it comes to shooting people. To the point where it’s unrealistic to keep doing it, I’d think.”“I wouldn’t mind if I got shot because I didn’t kill somebody.” Hilda said back. You suppress the urge to remark that she doesn’t sound like she’d mind just about anything. “If I fail, that’s it. I’ve made my decisions about that. My parents are no longer alive, I have no…prospects. My brother will be going up north. He wants me to go with him, but I don’t leave debts unpaid.”>No prospects?>Shouldn’t your brother be protecting his sister? He owes you a debt as well, I’d think.>Welcome aboard, then. I’d rather you not get shot, though, so I’ll be doing all I can to prevent that.>If you’re coming with me, you can’t think that way anymore. You’re not the only one who can get shot. Remember that for when you choose not to kill.>Other
>>1451612>No prospects?I still don't know why we even started to look for a sniper. Once the Riverman appeared, my idea was to have her shoot him, but it turned out we can't turn the special shell into bullets, so that's moot.
“No prospects?” you probe further. “What do you mean?”“Why are you…” Hilda trailed off, then snapped back. “I said it wasn’t important.”“It seems pretty important,” you muse, “If it means you think you’ve got nothing to lose.”“It’s not any of your business is what it is.” The dour huntress headed back out to the streets. “Let’s go. We’ve said everything that we don’t want anybody hearing.”Somehow you doubted that, but Hilda didn’t seem interested in negotiating that, as she started to leave you behind.“Now wait,” you walk up behind her, “Where are you going? I haven’t told you where we’re camping.”“The train station,” Hilda said, “I need to fill out a form or something. Or rather, you need to. I can’t read New Nauk.“You can’t read-“ you spurt out, shocked, “What do you mean you can’t read?”“I can’t read New Nauk. Never had to.” Hilda didn’t seem to see what the big deal was, “There’s a lot of people who can’t read at all. All the books I have are written in Zeelen.”“What the hell is Zeelen?” you’re completely out of your element, embarrassingly.“What people here wrote in before the Kaiser,” Hilda peered at you sideways while walking perpendicular to you, like she wasn’t sure if you were being serious. “What did you think people spoke in when everybody coming up through here since forever was a Bilgie?”“New Nauk is all anybody speaks anymore,” you say defensively, “I come from up around Strosstadt, nobody there is a ‘Bilgie.’ Nobody speaks in Interlinguen either, even though that’s what came before the Kaiser.”
“Interlinguen?” it was Hilda’s turn to be ignorant. “I’ve never heard of that.”Interlinguen, to be fair, was supposed to be a mess of a language. You’d only heard of it spoken about, and unlike other languages, the Kaiser didn’t leave any books written in Interlinguen behind, or if he did, you’d never heard of it. Nobody spoke it anymore except for tiny villages in the sticks that weren’t beaten with the Imperial culture stick, and when Strossvald won its independence again, nobody bothered to try and recover the language. Nobility had all been speaking New Nauk for a while before, anyways, apparently.“Thank the Grossreich for that,” you summarize.“As long as the mercenary contract isn’t in whatever that is…” Hilda lost interest.“I actually already have the contract.” You speak up abruptly, “I got it when I asked for replacement crew earlier today.”“Oh.” Hilda stopped, but then kept going in the direction of the station.“So…there’s no reason to…go there.” You say slowly, unsure of where she’s heading. “Don’t you want to start following me?”“I want to see what time the trains are leaving.” Hilda said, “Bertram told me which one he’d be going for, if I changed my mind. Which I won’t.”“But you can’t read.”“That’s why you’re coming with me, right.” Hilda stared at you again, “It won’t take long. You want me to try and get my brother to help you too, don’t you. I’ll have one last shot after he’s cooled down some.”>No, that’s not necessary. He can leave if he wants.>Sure then, the more the merrier. I’m not in any position to refuse more help.>The trains are going to be backed up anyways with how much war materiel is coming in. I have a better idea for forcing him to stay than just asking him to. (Mention the deal you turned down at the prison)>Other
>>1455668>No, that’s not necessary. He can leave if he wants.Really, I'm not sure why we're even hiring Hilda. We're not an infantry unit!
>>1455688I'm not been sure why we need the sniper atm. We have commando/Marines going with us on our night op. During regular combat were an armored unit. I just can't see where an attached marksman would fit in. Especially one who won't kill. When we're booking it down a flat field, does she sit on the back of the tank exposed, do we drop her off to overwatch and then come back for her when we're moving out of the area?The riverman can't detect her because she doesn't use magic eyes so she should be fine doing her own thing. And it doesn't seem like she's all to up for this anyways.>No, that's not necessary. He can leave if he wants.I get that the river is her home and she wants to defend it in her own little way, but I'm honestly at a loss on what to do with her.
>>1455688Mobile quoted this instead of >>1455668For this post>>1457383
>>1455688>>1457383>Really, I'm not sure why we're even hiring Hilda.>I'm not been sure why we need the sniper atm.I offered it as sort of an optional thing and the path was taken. Sorry if it's been dragging a while.As for the utility...I won't restrict your creativity if you want to try and exercise it, is all I'll say. Things might come up that demand a subtler touch.I'll be back around in a bit with an update.
“No, that’s not necessary.” You decide, “He can leave if he wants. I’m not going to try and keep him if he wants to run.”“Alright then.” Hilda accepted. “If that’s what you think.”“I expected some more protest from you, to be honest.” You shove your hands in your pockets and look up at the dilapidated manor on the hill, the faint image of covered vehicles fuzzy beneath the shadow of the once grand construction.“He’s made his decision. I’ve made mine.” Hilda said with something resembling finality, “All I was waiting for was yours.”-----You led the way out of the creepy section of town. No sooner had you crossed back into the more populated streets, than a triad of youths accosted you.“Hey mister!” a young boy with a voice like a steaming teakettle blabbed at you, “Did you just come out of the cursed houses?”“That’s dangerous!” said another scamp with a voice somehow even more grating.“Boys and girls disappear there!” the first boy sputtered while grinning like it was some great joke. “Mama Wrinkle says even grown-ups should be careful, cause of the ghosts.”“Ghosts!” the other two giggled.“That’s nice.” You try to sidle around the band of zit ridden runts.“Eek!” One of them pointed behind you, “A ghost!” With that, they all ran away, screaming and laughing, pushing their way past other pedestrians and earning themselves strong curses along the way.When you eventually turned to look at what the ghost was supposed to be, you weren’t surprised to see Hilda, looking dead eyed as usual.“You never told me that you were a ghost.”Hilda ignored your asinine comment. “People do disappear, in that part of the city,” she said offhandedly, “It’s happened enough times, for a while.”“Presumably there aren’t actually ghosts.” You propose to her.“There could be. For all I know.” Hilda’s expression remained neutral, “I’ve never been bothered there though. It’s good and quiet on the edges.”“Uh huh,” you grunt noncommittally, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Von Metzeler, your chosen second in command, was waiting diligently when you returned.“I see that you found a friend,” he observed, “Why has the lady graced us with her presence?”“I’m here to shoot people.” Hilda said bluntly.“Er, she means Valsteners.” You specify her awfully general statement.“Bilgies.”“Bilgies?” Von Metzeler repeated, puzzled.“Yeah, we’ll go over that later,” you interrupt hurriedly, “How are we doing? Give me a status report.”“Not much has changed since you left,” Von Metzeler stiffened to attention, “The work crews said they didn’t want to continue excavating the manor for now because they heard voice from inside. I investigated and found nothing, though.” The stern officer scratched under his wrist cuff idly, “So I had the crews do maintenance on their vehicles. I also put in a request for a repair order for your vehicle’s mudguard, not that that is likely to be fulfilled shortly.”It certainly wouldn’t be any time soon, considering how close you knew open war was. Changing the mudguard was a laborious process that was difficult to do, as the piece holding them was bolted to the side of the hull. It was possible to remove the piece without tampering with the treads, idle wheels, or front sprocket, but it was an incredible pain to do so without removing said pieces, which was why such work was usually done in the rear lines as part of general repairs.“Company also made a call saying they had a replacement loader on the way for us,” Von Metzeler added, “I don’t recall us needing one though.”“I’m sending Maddalyn back,” you inform him flat out, “She shouldn’t be here when…if, the war starts. My current loader is my radioman, so I’ll be giving him his job back when the new loader gets here.”“Hm.” Von Metzeler seemed somewhat conflicted, for some reason. “Are you sure of that? Her ability in demanding situations in my experience is…lacking, but I have observed her demonstrating abilities that, to me, could be extremely useful. Are you certain of your decision?”>I’m just planning to have her in the rear lines. I quite like the capability to magically heal wounds.>Sorcery or no, there’s a great potential for her to be hurt. I can’t intentionally put her in that sort of danger. She’s going back home.>Absolutely certain. Her abilities are convenient, but not needed. It’ll only be a distraction, and her lack of training means she could be a detriment.>Other
>>1458453>I'm just planning to have her in the rear lines. Her abilities, while convenient, dont warrant risking a civilian on the front lines. and yet I feel like a hippocrit now that we lassoed Hilda into this. How do we play this off without looking like we're playing favourites or trivalizing maddalyn because she can't see or shoot Can we get the men a decent hot meal, they don't need to know what's happening tommorow. Maddalyn can join us for it to before we send her to safety, I'm not sure where exactly. Maybe where the company nobles house their hangerons/dependant s/attachments?Still unsure how to break this to Maddy though.
>>1458453>I’m just planning to have her in the rear lines. I quite like the capability to magically heal wounds, and I'm thinking she'd be better off here than with her father.
“I’m just planning to put her in the rear lines,” you explain, “Her abilities are quite convenient, what with being able to magically heal wounds, but she doesn’t need to be on the front lines for us to use that. She’s too small, inexperienced, and untrained, so she’d be both at risk and a risk to everybody else, as uncomfortable as it may be to point out to her.”“And you trust that she will be safe?” Von Metzeler asked, “That you will not need to watch over her, whether to keep her in reach, or to keep her out of that of the enemy’s?”“I don’t see myself as having much of a choice.” You point out, “It’ll just have to do. It isn’t like I’m leaving a child by herself, despite what she looks like.”Von Metzeler nodded to himself, turning slightly to look at the line of armor that were your platoon’s charges, in the process of being crawled over with rags, wrenches, oil applicators and checklists.“In the brief time you left the girl in my care,” your subordinate Lieutenant reminisced, “She demonstrated that she was quick to panic, shut down under pressure, and despite appearing to know what her position was and how to do the duties it demanded, she was unable to execute them.”“Well-“ you felt compelled to defend your fiancée from this dressing down, even if it was probably completely correct.“However.” Von Metzeler cut you off, holding up a finger, “Your crew informed me that this behavior was not exhibited while you were in command.”“I suppose.” You admit, “That’s something that training would have helped with, but we were in a pinch.”
“Lieutenant,” Von Metzeler, being satisfied with what he saw with work on the tanks, looked back at you, “There are incompetent soldiers, as well as cowardly crewmen. The girl’s troubles do not lie with being an incompetent coward, from what I have heard. They lie in trust.”“Perhaps.” You say in acknowledgement. Maddalyn certainly had problems with trusting people she wasn’t engaged to.“Trust conquers fear, and dispels the venom of doubt. She trusts you very much, Von Tracht. That much is apparent.” Von Metzeler tells you while cocking his head towards your tank.“I’m rather past the point of going back on my decision,” you muse.“I am content with your decision, Lieutenant.” Von Metzeler said, “I only ask that you consider the value of what you have not only with her, but with the rest of your crew. Perhaps you, with your distaste for social airs, do not know this, but trust between the officers and crew were a severe problem at the academy. It is a rare thing for nobility to forget that they stand so much taller than the rest.”You sort of knew this. It might have helped, though, that your family’s standing was only slightly higher than the peasantry. It made the barriers much less opaque to you.“As well,” Von Metzeler added, “The lady has abilities far beyond the ken of either you or I. Her curative spells may be of the most interest, but I have seen that she is capable of more. You are viewing the girl as a woman to be protected, not as an asset to be used. This is but my personal thought, but I am of the opinion that your thinking may be misguided with this matter in mind.”>Your opinion is heard and appreciated, but I maintain my decision. I will not force her to be our secret weapon.>Opine as you wish, but I put more value in experience and training than in trust. I’m not willing to test her limits when all of our lives are on the line.>Perhaps you are right, but I still see little choice. It is not as if my tank has an additional spot for “dubiously useful magical girl.”>Other
>>1458921>You've almost made me feel like I was about to punch a kitten, Metzeler, but then you went and said "asset to be used".>May I remind you she's not a part of the army and has no duty to go into combat?>Your opinion is heard and appreciated, but I maintain my decision. I will not force her to be our secret weapon.>Whatever her capabilities are, I have no right to order her to put herself in danger.
“Gee, Metzeler, you’ve almost made me feel like I was about to punch a kitten,” you replied haughtily, “but then you went and said ‘asset to be used.’ May I remind you she’s not a part of the army and has no duty to go into combat?”Von Metzelers eyebrow raised a little at your neglecting his title, but he said nothing of it. “You seem to think that my counsel was meant to criticize your character,” Von Metzeler stated calmly, “That was not my intention. It was merely my opinion on tactical potential.”“Yeah, well, your opinion is heard and appreciated, but I maintain my decision.” You say with a little heat, “I will not force her to be our secret weapon. Whatever she can do, I have no right to order her to put herself in danger.”“You haven’t ordered her to stay with you, have you?” Von Metzeler said, inquiringly.“Well…” you pause, “Her home life didn’t seem healthy. Every member of her family I’ve met is overly critical and downright abusive. It was better this way.”“Von Tracht.” Metzeler cut you off, “There is no shame in accepting the aid of one who genuinely wants to help you.” He pushes his cap up, while still looking into your eyes, “I consider it my duty as an officer to be observant, although I try not to be intrusive. It does not take much looking to see that the lady remains with you entirely by her own will.” Von Metzeler turned to leave you, “I only think that Von Tracht should keep that in mind, even if it is not the business of the Lieutenant.”“Hmph.” You turn your nose up at your departing officer. This wasn’t any of his business.
Your gunner was occupied checking the bore of the cannon with an electric torch as you approached. “Gunner,” you address Stein as you approach the tank. “Ayup,” he turned to look at you, “How’re you doing, commander?”“I took care of some business, set up a social for the night, invited a couple of guests,” you shrug, “Where’s Maddalyn? Has she kept herself locked up in the castle?”“Nah, she seems a little better,” Stein hung off of the front of the hull and the gun, “Nature’s call turns out to be a powerful motivator.”“I, ah, see…” you responded.“She’s at least stop screeching at us, so we can do work on the tank.” Stein went on, “She actually let Hans check on the radio equipment, both sets. She keeps close to the tank, but she’s preoccupied with…magic stuff.” He gestures behind the hull, “but, ‘s fine, not like we’re going to ask her to take off her tunic and get in the nooks of the tank with a rag, though with how little she is, she’d be good at that.” Stein chuckled to himself.“Was there anything wrong with her…you know,” you waved your hand in front of your eyes.“What?” Stein asked cluelessly, “No, not anything I noticed. Why?”Well, at least that was over, then. “Nothing.” You let it go.You thought about bringing up the replacement crewman in better detail, but you thought it more appropriate for Maddalyn to know first. After all, she was the one being replaced.The only matter now was how to break it to her.>Let her down gently. Say it’s for her best interests and that you’re trying to look out for her safety, and you still want her help when possible.>Tell her how it is. Taking her to the front is irresponsible, and the war is going to be decided by people who have prepared to fight and die.>Make up some line of bullshit to try and fool her. Say the soulbinder’s expected to be looking for her at the front when things get hot, and it’s safer for her to stay behind where he won’t be close.>Other
>>1461184>Tell her how it is. Taking her to the front is irresponsible, and the war is going to be decided by people who have prepared to fight and die.If we sugarcoat it she might just try to force her way along.
>>1461184>>Let her down gently. Say it’s for her best interests and that you’re trying to look out for her safety, and you still want her help when possible.If we decide we don't need Hilda maybe we can have her look out for Maddalyn while we're gone. She seems pretty competent in that regard and it's better than leaving Maddy all alone.
>>1461184>Let her down gently. Say it’s for her best interests and that you’re trying to look out for her safety, and you still want her help when possible.I don't know, for me this is "how it is".Seconding leaving Hilda to watch her. Just don't tell Maddy that.
>>1464122I vote for this