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/qst/ - Quests

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You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of Armor and commander of the 5th platoon of Von Blum’s 3rd Company of Panzers for the Army of Strossvald. You are deployed on the southern border on the Glennz river, against the rival country of Valsten, on the river island city of Salzbrucke.

Perhaps once there was a fantasy that the animosity would fade, and that the arrayed armies would never come to blows, but you had volunteered for a secret mission that would take place early next morning which would obliterate any hope of avoiding war.

A daring river crossing raid, whose objective was to destroy large fortified siege guns that the southerners had set up in preparation for a conflict. It was to be executed mostly by lightly armed infantrymen; your role as armor officer was merely as muscle in the case that they ran into something too heavy for them to deal with.

While the notion that you weren’t likely to be needed might have been meant to be comforting, it only made you absolutely certain that something would go terribly wrong.

In preparation for the war that was coming on the morrow, you had taken steps to move your fiancée out of the frontlines. Maddalyn Von Blum, your (arranged) wife to be, had taken a role in your armor crew as an unofficial radio operator and expert on supernatural bollocks the academy never trained you for. You had decided that, now that a real war was on, that you would replace her with an actual soldier and not risk having your marriage prospects quite literally blow up in your face.

You hadn’t told her of these plans yet, though. Maddalyn, despite her frail and diminutive form and lack of any combat training, not to mention the rather important fact that she was blind and could only see because of bizarre creatures that lived in her skull, seemed rather set on accompanying you no matter the circumstances. You would be forced to tell her that that would simply not do.
You found Maddalyn behind your tank, her nose buried deep in some pamphlet that was full of ancient, archaic symbols; the ancient language of the mountains, handwritten in blood so that she could see it. A few half-finished scraps of cloth with patterns and script written on them were scattered around her.

You clear your throat to get her attention. Maddalyn snaps around to look at you; her eyes are, thankfully, no longer pitch black glowing horrors, and had gone back to their normal blue-grey color.

“H-hello, Richter…” she still seemed somewhat nervous, but she had gathered enough confidence to at least not hide in the tank anymore. You and the Riverman had some beginnings of an understanding, you hoped, so he probably wouldn’t go after her now.

“I have to tell you some-“ you start, before Maddalyn excitedly cuts you off with energy you must have somehow brought along with you.

“I-I’ve been making a lot of these stitching spells!” She pointed at the talismans lying around, “I might even have these done by evening…it’s the fastest I’ve ever been able to make them…isn’t that good?” Maddalyn got up on her feet and turned around, looking crestfallen. “You don’t seem that pleased…this sort of thing doesn’t draw attention, really! I’ve been being careful.”

“It’s not that,” you say, “the war’ll be on very soon, and I can’t have you near it. I’ve gotten a replacement crewman.”

“…what?” Maddalyn’s voice cracked.

“It’s for your best interests,” you try to explain, finding yourself more and more defensive as Maddalyn’s confusion turned to realization, “It’s not that I don’t want your help, when possible, but I can’t risk your safety.”

“I don’t care about what happens to me!” Maddalyn pleaded, “You can’t do this! If you…anybody got killed and I could have stopped it, and I wasn’t there, I’d…I’d…I’d never forgive myself! Please…” She reached up and yanked on your collar, tears welling in her eyes, “If it’s because I’m useless in a fight, just…just put me in the corner, or something…I don’t know…couldn’t you just…” She fell silent, and let go of your jacket, still looking up at you with unseeing eyes.

You look around hopelessly. Stein had wisely made himself scarce.

>Look, you might not care what happens to you, but I do. Can’t you trust me to come back when this is all over?
>This isn’t a decision I made lightly, but it’s one that’s already been made. I’ll come back fine, I promise.
>This war won’t last a week. It’ll be a piece of cake; I won’t have you waiting too much, I promise.

>pastebin with previous thread links is @ https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh
>twitter for announcements is @scheissfunker
>Look, you might not care what happens to you, but I do.
>If something happens to you because I put you into the frontlines, _I_ will never forgive myself.
>Even if you could replace both the driver and the gunner at the same time I wouldn't have taken you along, because it's not about skill. I have a duty to put my life on the line. You don't.

Your writing is too good. I feel like scum leaving Maddy behind, though I still think it has to be done.

>I feel like scum leaving Maddy behind, though I still think it has to be done.
Personally I think it's for the best because of how she's marked. If the Riverman sees us with her, then he'll try attacking us, which will make the operation go pear-shaped.
“Look,” you said, looking away with some difficulty, “you might not care what happens to you, but I do. If something happens to you because I put you on the frontlines, I would never forgive myself.”

Maddalyn’s lips tightened as she pulled on her thumbs fitfully, “I’m…I’m not…”

“Even if you could replace both the driver and the gunner at the same time, I wouldn’t have taken you along.” You continue, “Because it’s not about skill. I have a duty to put my life on the line. You don’t.”

Maddalyn didn’t say anything to that, but looked into the ground for a few moments. Then, she rushed towards you and embraced you, burying her face into your chest.

“You might have your duty to the Archduke to fight,” she said weakly, into your breast, “But you have your duty to me, as well, then. Whenever this starts, or ends…come back unharmed.”

You instinctively wrapped your arms around her waist and shoulder, but couldn’t make yourself reassure her, for some reason.

She slipped out of your arms after a minute, not looking back as she left down the hill.

…shortly after, she came back up, looking sheepish.

“Uh…” she stuttered, “Where am I supposed to g-go?”

“By the city station, there’s accommodations for nobility that want to observe their formations,” you tell her, “If you tell them who you are they’ll put you up.”

“Oh, thanks.” Maddalyn said glumly, “Th-then, goodbye…”

“Hey, wait,” you broke in, “It wouldn’t be very gentlemanly to let you go by yourself, would it? I’ll take you.”

You nudged Hilda as you walk by.

“Follow me and her,” you whispered to her furtively, “Watch where I leave her, keep her safe. Alright?”

Hilda shrugged, and began to follow you both at a distance of fifty paces once you’d set off.


Maddalyn didn’t want to chat about anything on the way, but she clung to your arm like a child whenever groups passed by too close to you. It was incredibly girly, and you weren’t sure if it was from affection or fright.
When you finally arrived, Maddalyn turned to you, fiddling with her fingers.

“W-well,” she stared at your boots, “Goodbye, then…”

>Stay safe. I’ll be back before you know it.
>What, nothing? You’re not setting me up for good luck here. (Write in request)
>It won’t be long. I’ll visit when I can.
>Put hands on her shoulders
>Stay safe. I’ll be back before you know it.
Why are you so moe, Maddy. My heart can barely take it.
Seconding, this writing is really good OP...
Just want to say I appreciate the compliments a lot. I do my best but I'm never really sure how well things go.

Also I let this lie for too long, sorry. I got caught up in a few other things.

You put your hands on Maddalyn’s thin shoulders; she flinches as you touch her. “Stay safe. I’ll be back before you know it.”

Maddalyn looked up at you silently, before embracing you once more. She held you tightly, before throwing herself off and leaving. You had felt her little heart beating so quickly…

You watched her vanish into the train station. The sweet scent of Maddalyn’s perfume was quickly replaced by the stinging stench of coal smoke, and with a sigh you turned to go back to camp.

You passed by Hilda, who had been trailing you.

“So who is she.” Hilda asked flatly.

“My fiancée.” You answer.

“She’s…a bit young.” Hilda said. You saw that coming from a ways away. “Isn’t that illegal.”

“She’s…” you start, but decide against it. “Don’t worry about it. Just keep her from getting mugged…but don’t let her know you’re guarding her.”

“If that’s what you want.” Hilda sat down against a wall, her eyes set on the train station. “Figured you’d want be shooting bilgies, but I’m not going to complain.”

“Thanks a lot,” you leave Hilda.

Just as you’re leaving, Hilda says loudly to you, “You know, if you wait a little, girls grow breasts. I hear they’re worth the wait.”

>Don’t dignify that with a reply
>Explain once again that Maddalyn is a year older than you and she’s just…stunted.
>Ask if she’s jealous
>Explain once again that Maddalyn is a year older than you and she’s just…stunted.
well considering she's 22,and has probably finished growing Hilda. I doubt me waiting is going to make them bigger
>Explain once again that Maddalyn is a year older than you and she’s just…stunted.
More and more I feel like we're a manga protagonist with a Loli wife
“She isn’t a child,” you explain with some exasperation. You really hoped that you wouldn’t have to address this with every person you met for the rest of your life. “She’s a year older than I am. She’s just…stunted.”

“Stunted is an understatement.” Hilda says dully. “I’m not here to judge, you know. I’ve heard it isn’t unusual for blue-bloods. I’m just saying.”

“She’s twenty three,” you specify, “I’m pretty sure she’s finished growing. I doubt waiting is going to make…them, bigger.”

“Tragic.” Hilda said with a typical lack of any feeling.

“It doesn’t matter,” you break yourself away, “I’ve got to get going. Good luck with your task.”


You make your way to company headquarters to pick up your replacement crewman. One Jorgen Mann, if you remembered right. Hopefully this northerner wouldn’t speak solely in gobbledygook.

On the way there, you wondered about how much notice the rest of the army would get before you pulled your early morning stunt tomorrow. A day’s notice in advance wasn’t much time; you only hoped that the company commanders planned for this. A quick baiting of the Hungry Darkness ensured the Riverman wasn’t tailing you, which strangely didn’t make you feel any better.


It wasn’t hard to find Mann once you arrived at Company; the squat forest man looked incredibly disheveled at a glance, but further inspection would be sure to reveal that his sorry state of uniform was merely a result of the typical lack of care enlisted veterans placed on decorum.

“You the offizer I got? Won Traekt?” the man’s speech was clearly corrupted by the Old Nauk of the north, but he was at least comprehensible. The most grating thing was thankfully how badly he managed to butcher your name.

“I am Lieutenant Von Tracht, yes.” You correct the northman, “I trust that you are ready to leave? Any belongings?”

“The cloth on my back and the zerry in my pocket,” Jorgen approached you, “Everyving that matters iz in ordahrr.”

“That’s…good.” You say. You hope that he doesn’t have that much “zerry,” if he meant “sherry.”

“Lieutenant,” your captain, Schwarzholdt, came out of the tent in front of you, “Did you volunteer?”

“I did.” You nod.

“That’s good. You’re leaving your second in command?”

You answer in the affirmative.

“So are you ready for tomorrow?” Schwarzholdt asked.

>I’m pretty confident that I am, yes.
>I’d like to ask a few things, if I can have the answer to them, actually.
>Ready for tomorrow what?
>I’d like to ask a few things, if I can have the answer to them, actually.
what recon do we have on the enemy force what weapons should we see on their side of the battle
Ready for.tommorow what?

I feel anything relevant like that would have been part of the briefing.
Also loving this op pic. It looks alot better then the usual, probably the colors.
>I’d like to ask a few things, if I can have the answer to them, actually.
>Like can I get any fording equipment for my tank?
Not exactly related to the briefing, but Jorgen and Malachi understand each other right? IIRC they speak the same language?
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“Ready for tomorrow what?” you say absentmindedly.

“…I suppose you weren’t around to get the message.” Schwartzholdt sighs and rubs his temple with a gloved hand, “We’re attacking tomorrow, at first light. Right after the ELK bombs the salt out of our friends down south.”

“Across the bridges?” you ask, remembering the layout of the area. “That’s a bit risky.”

“It is,” Schwartzholdt agreed, “but we don’t have much of a choice. A pair of Armored Trains will be coming in tomorrow, and the bridgeheads need to be taken quick. 3rd Company’s been given the task of taking the western bridgehead.”’

“What about the linemen?” you ask further. Infantry support was assumed; Strossvald’s armor doctrine demanded that tanks never stray far from the infantry, or out of range of providing rapid reinforcement. Mobile formations were only to attempt limited goals on their own, lest the line be weakened.

From your position as an armchair general you held the opinion that the Reich’s theory of mobile warfare was far more advanced, but Valsten’s theories, you knew for a fact, were positively antique. They hadn’t learned the lessons of armor concentration that many others had observed when Kaiser Henrik campaigned in the north, so if they were still using their old organization, their armor would be relatively dispersed, while Strossvald’s tanks and grenadiers would form strong bulkheads in the line.

To put it shortly, while Strossvald’s standard armored formation was the relatively autonomous panzer battalion, Valsten’s armor was arranged in companies in demi-battalions attached to select infantry divisions, as artillery would be.

“Valsten’s still using the same gear as in ’29 if I heard right, yes?” You ask Schwartzholdt.

“Mostly, yes.” He answers, putting a finger on his chin and thinking, “the big ugly box, though…can’t remember what it’s called. A Model 7 or something. They’ve put more steel on those things. They didn’t like how you could stick a 25 millimeter shot through the gaps of the mantlet, apparently.”

VPw-7s, as the “big ugly box” was actually called, were really no match for your m/32s. Both variants of m/32 you knew of could stand up to its 6cm howitzer, developed from a mountain gun, and with little armor penetrating capability. If its weak points on its turret had been armored up, it would pose a threat to the m/28s, but the m/32VB’s 4.7cm cannon would skewer a Model 7, regardless of extra turret protection.

The turret on the new recognition picture you saw of it reminded you of a Skull Toad's boney head growth.

“What about the Fives, then?” you ask.

“Fives?” Schwarzholdt asks, bewildered, “Oh, you mean the Kaiser Cans.”
VPw-5s, as could be discerned from their nickname, were a surplus design from the Grossreich; a modification of the old LT-5; itself a development of one of the first tank designs ever made. The design was utterly ancient, and the Five took the poor chassis to its absolute limit; which, on the battlefield to come, still wouldn’t be much. The only reason they were even still used, it was theorized, was to provide some anti-tank support to the Model 7s, whose howitzers lacked long range anti-armor effectiveness and accuracy. In the end, though, they were again only a threat to the m/28s and armored cars, and even more vulnerable to the m/32 due to their paper thin armor. A burst of 13mm machine gun fire would theoretically be enough to put one out of commission.

“Nothing I’ve heard of,” Schwarzholdt taps his chin with a finger again, “I don’t think they could get much more out of those old piles of junk. Truth be told, I think they’re just trying to use up what they’ve got. No, what I’d be concerned with is what they’ve got that we don’t know about.”

Well, there wasn’t really a way to prepare for that, you think but don't say.

“What about the SSWs?” you ask.

SSW was the name given to a new type of armored car that Valsten had been replacing all of its old stock with; it had amphibious capability, being made to cross rivers and streams and traverse the deep marshes of Valsten’s western borders.

“Those are something suspicious,” Schwarzholdt said with realization, “A bird told me that there aren’t any of them around here.”

An odd decision by the southerners, if that was true.

Fording the Glennz would be a hopeless endeavor; it was too wide, and too deep. You’d heard of off the wall theories about sealing a tank with waterproof material so they could drive on the bottom of rivers, but nothing had ever come of that, as far as you heard. No fording would be necessary, anyways, with the pair of bridges extending from Salzbrucke.
Your night raid would be accomplished with the help of a barge.

Jorgen came from the north like Malachi, that much you knew. However, Jorgen at least spoke New Nauk, albeit with a thick Nauklander accent, corrupted by the pronunciations of Old Nauk. Malachi didn’t speak New Nauk, or Old Nauk. He instead spoke in what you theorized would happen if you smashed both of those languages into whatever mountain goblin language Malachi tried his best to talk in.
Malachi seemed plenty able to understand what he was told, but his speech patterns were so thoroughly brewed in the bizarre language that nobody spoke that he was near impossible to understand. Thankfully, his role in the tank didn’t require much communication from himself.

>Anything else?
>That’s all I need to know.

>Your captain doesn't know the specifics of the night raid you're going to go on; any queries for that will have to wait til you're there.
That's all I needed to know. Good luck commander.

Our commanders the paranoid type, so I don't think an off hand remark about an amphibious assault from the missing armored cars would be taken well.
>That’s all I need to know.
Mass flanking maneuver with the SSWs further up or down the river?
If our commanders fuck up Maddy could be in danger. But Hilda likely knows where to hide better tham we do.
“That’s all I need to know,” you say, “Good luck tomorrow, Captain.”

“Hopefully it won’t be needed,” Schwartzhold glances left and right, “Good day, Lieutenant.”

“Well, come on, then.” You beckon to Jorgen, your new loader. “Let’s get you acquainted with the platoon.”

Jorgen followed you without a word. He was squat and muscled, what one would expect from a northerner, especially a Yaegir. He didn’t seem that much older, but what effects time had on him had not been kind. His deep set eyes lay on top of enormous dark bags, and his face seemed to have fossilized into a permanent frown. A few pale nicks and scratches spoke of either a violent, or clumsy, past. He had an odd look about him, like he was much older than he physically was.

“So,” Jorgen spoke up behind you, “Hew long’ff you siewerd? No founce meant, bet you sem grune.”

“How long have I served.” You repeat back, piecing together his question, “I was in the Academy for a couple of years. I’ve been deployed for…four days?”

Jorgen whistled. “Frush out the coop, eh. Maken me feel old. Whet panzers you get?”

“m/28 and m/32,” you answer. What sort of equipment had he been a loader on, you wonder. m/28s did not have dedicated loaders, and those were supposed to have displaced most equipment by the time Jorgen would have been in the army.

“Phewff,” Jorgen breathed with either appreciation or exasperation, “Used to the guncrate. m/25.”

The “guncrate” was a strange model of the m/25 tank that had been bought in limited numbers. It was an unorthodox design that more echoed Landships than the size of tank it really was. It resembled a squat box with a 5cm mountain gun in the hull, an older and smaller variant of the same sort used in the VPw-7 of your rivals, and a small turret with a pair of machine guns in it. It had some lingering usage in the units of lords who were too miserly to upgrade their formations to the Archduke’s standard.

“Thankfully,” you say with some unintended derision, “We don’t have any of those.”

“Ey, so lung es I don’t have to shuut out the side wet a pistol, I’m heppy.”

“…yeah, that probably shouldn’t happen.” You say back.
When you return to the camp near the manor, you see that a path has almost been cleared into the burned structure. Perhaps there’d be time to look inside before the war after all.

“1st tank,” you call your crew together, “This is Jorgen Mann. He’s our new loader.”

“Just when I was getting used to the smell of perfume,” Hans sighed sarcastically, “Now it’s back to the old kerosene, cordite, and unwashed men.”

“Pahrfume?” Jorgen inquired.

“Oh good, another one who can’t talk right.” Hans mumbled to himself.

“The commander used to have his…friend? A noble lady, in with us.” Stein explained hurriedly.

Jorgen looked at you and blinked twice. “You tuuk out a frau for me? E’m tauched.”

“Less a frau and more a maedchen if you get me.” Hans snickered.”

“Alright, alright, that’s enough.” You wave your hands, “Listen. We’re going to be up to some mischief early next morning, so I need you all well rested before then. Go to sleep early.”

“Mischief?” Stein cocked an eyebrow, “Such as what? More ghosts?”

“No, more in the business of making them.” You make a gesture across your mouth for him to keep discrete.

“I…see.” Stein didn’t seem to get them memo entirely, but got that it wasn’t something to talk in depth about yet.

“Hey, Lieutenant!” You heard one of your newer officers, Von Walen, calling to you from near the manor. He was energetic, but irritable; you hadn’t had a good chance to see him perform in the field yet. He, like Von Igel and Von Neubaum, were officers from the academy like you and Metzeler and Krause. However, unlike any of your other fellow graduates on their way to the Blumlands, they had escaped their Imperialist captors before both them and their prisoners were detained en masse just yesterday.

“Junior Lieutenant,” you address him, leaving your crew to see Walen.

“We’re almost through here,” He said, grinning from ear to ear as a few crewman battered away at an obstructing piece of masonry with mattocks, “This was a good place to shack up, commander. You know what might be behind these piles of crap?”

“…treasure? Gold and jewels?” you answer, more interested in trying to look beyond the workers.

“No, no,” Walen said disappointedly, “All the good stuff would be on the upper floors, and it’d take ages to dig through all that. No, I’m talking about the cellar. What’s in the cellar of every self-respecting rich man?” Walen smiled expectantly.
“Wine?” you guess.

“More than wine! Brandy, good aged casks. If whoever had this was rich enough, they might have some rare, rare vintage.”

“Now might not be a good time to think about drinks…” You say warily, “I need to tell you and the platoon something…”

“Drink it?” Walen seemed somewhat offended, “No, hell no. That’d be a waste. Every single one of these, if we find the right auction house? Collector’s items, even if they were just ordinary barrels. Certain pieces could be worth a fortune.”

“That’s quite mercenary of you,” you say to him.

“It’s the family business!” Walen protested, “Speculation, buying and selling. Kaiser Pieter II’s Cabinet of Curiosities was curated by a Von Walen. If you’d ever seen the family collection, you would have a greater appreciation for the potential here.”

“I’m sure I would.” You concede apathetically.

The last obstruction in the way of breaching the manor was then cloven in twain by a crewman, who excitedly dropped his mattock and clambered inside, the light of curiosity drawing in all near like moths.
Only moments later, you heard terrified screams, and every single one of the crewman who entered sprinted, leaped, and crawled out, white as sheets.

“A specter!” One you recognized as one of Von Metzeler’s crew announced, “A terrible, hooded spirit!”

>Doesn’t sound serious. Gather a party to go look inside. (write in preference)
>Go inside by yourself. You’re the only one around here who won’t panic at little things.
>A spirit? You can’t have that getting out. Have the entrance blocked once more. You’ve had quite enough of ghosts that could or couldn’t be ravenous for a lifetime.
>>Doesn’t sound serious. Gather a party to go look inside. (write in preference)

Let's go in with Jorgen, see what he's made of. Any chance we could source a vacuum?
>Seconded. Otherwise we can always come back with Maddy.
You decided that an investigation of your own was called for, hooded spirits or no.

You went back to your crew and picked out Jorgen.

“You, new guy,” you say to him, “Come over here, you’re helping me with something.” You point over to the burned out mansion, with a fresh entrance excavated in it; enlisted of your platoon still falling over themselves fleeing from it. “We’re going in there and having a look around.”

“A bunch of guys ran out shouting about a ghost in there…” Stein said warily, “Don’t you need…salt, or maybe a talisman, or something?”

“Feh. Guhsts.” Jorgen seemed unimpressed. “Ounly un theng for guhsts.” Jorgen then drew a small, scratched tin flask from his coat pocket, unscrewed the top, and took a few gulps from it. “Phooey on em. The dead shuud stey dead.”

“That’s the sort of attitude I like,” you feel yourself smiling, “Let’s go then.”
You appropriated a pair of electric torches and strode towards the break in the wall. A few crewmen looked at you wide-eyed, while muttering to each other about varying judgments of your wisdom and character.

“Seims summa the boys need a drink,” Jorgen says helpfully.

“Coincidentally,” you turn on the torch and shine it around in the pitch darkness. “Apparently, that’s what we should be looking for in here.”

Bits of dust and ash floated about, blown around by a breeze that probably hadn’t entered this place in three years. Oddly iridescent flakes danced in the air, as well, glowing even after your torches had passed them over.

“So wet’ve these ghusts got to be peefed abuut,” Jorgen asked as you looked around the black corridor, going over your options. “Shouldn’t haaev eny troobles wit us.”

“Well,” you keep an eye out for any hooded spirits, “Our bombers may have dropped incendiaries on this city and burnt it to the ground. Once.”

“Seems like yoor problem, not mein.” Jorgen chuckled, “No Yaegirs flew out and buumbed nouthin. Neither did the-“

“Shh,” you both go quiet. You thought you heard something; like steps on a floor, scratching like nails on wood. You wait for a few seconds, but couldn’t hear it again. “Continue.” You keep checking the outgoing branches. You’d passed one already, but whatever fire had torched this place in the past had knocked it down worse than anything you’d seen outside.

“Neither did the moonten chuld out there.” Jorgen finished. “An I thut I was fahr from hume.”

“Mountain child?” you ask, perplexed. “You mean Malachi? The one who covers his face.”

“An his head, ye.” Jorgen nodded, “If there’re really ghusts en here, I’d say you shuud’ve get’n him too. They say they’re ‘tuned to em, y’know.”

You didn’t know. “How did you figure he was a mountain child, or whatever?” you asked.

“Soon as he tolked, I knew. They cen never get Nauk of either surt in em; they lern something ulder then Nauk when they’re littol. That an the coverings. Take em off, huh’ll have hair grune as the woods.”

“Green hair, huh.” You check the next pathway to the right. It wasn’t caved in, but you decided to check the corner ahead next anyways, just to see. “That’s a rather unorthodox coloration.”



“Ah, ye,” Jorgen looked down the way you’d just looked down. “We cull em Mosskopps. Maybe you shuudn’t call im that, though. But, like I sed, guhsts are nuunsanse, but if you’re expecting em…his kend her supposed to knew em better.”

>He won’t be needed. There’s nothing to worry about in here, I’m sure. The crew earlier were just jumpy.
>Tragically, I can’t understand a word he says most of the time. His use in telling me what would be happening would be…dubious.
>Sure, we haven’t gone far in. we can go and get him.
>Tragically, I can’t understand a word he says most of the time. His use in telling me what would be happening would be…dubious.
>Check with our mystery box. Striders are supposed to be attracted to ghosts IIRC.
“Tragically,” you look around the corner, which leads further into darkness, “I can’t understand a word he says most of the time. His use in telling me what would be happening would be…dubious.”

“Ken’t argue that, I guess.” Jorgen said from further behind.

You felt it prudent then to see if you could know for certain if there were any spirits, ghosts, or whatever here. From what you could remember of Maddalyn’s explanation of them, there were huge, predatory spirits called…Striders? Pacers? Walkers? The name didn’t matter much to you then; only that they ate ghosts, so any place with them nearby would be unlikely to have any other spirits.

You dug the tin containing the creature known as Hungry Darkness - you’d have to give it a less imposing name at some point – and lift the lid.

Almost immediately, before you even got out the paper to tease it with, it immediately lashed out at the glowing bits in the air, growing toothlike projections as it did so.

“Woah-ho-ho, get back in there,” you crush it back into place. That told you plenty enough.

Down the hall, you saw what looked like a little blue flame float into view. It glowed white at its center, and flickered at its ends. You could swear you saw the faintest outline of a person, as well. Was this what Maddalyn called an Ember? You’d never seen anything like this before.

“Hoy, Luutnent,” you heard Jorgen shout from down the hall behind you, “You find anytheng?”

The ember vanished back from whence it came.

>Follow it; curiosity compelled you.
>Best to stay away. Who knows what it does? Go down the other corridor.
Go down the other corridor first, see what we can find.
>Follow it; curiosity compelled you.
We ain't afraid of no ghost
Follow it

Thank you, I'm glad someone finally said it.
It was just a little will o’ the wisp; not even that supernatural, if what you’d heard of natural phenomena was correct concerning ship’s masts or lightning in marshes. What could go wrong? You began to pursue it down the hall.

“Luutnent, where are you going?” Jorgen caught up with you.

“I’ve got a feeling something’s down this way.” You answer. Saying that you were chasing a ghost might have made you seem a bit too crazy.

This hallway was a particularly long one; your torch failed to find the end of it, even as you continued down it. When you came to the corner the ember had vanished away from, and looked around it, you saw strands of light leaking from the end of the way; it must have been from the collapsed ceiling around the main entranceway. Some little sprouts had already reclaimed the burnt, ashen piles, and reached for the sun from within their dark enclave. The intruding daylight imbued the fallen foyer with a soft glow; no strange spirits called this pile of sunny ruin home.

Perhaps it would have excited a painter, but you were searching for more material things.

“Say,” you ask Jorgen, “If you were to put the entrance to a cellar somewhere, where would you put it?”

“Ah…” Jorgen answer cluelessly, “I donno. S’pose it’d be cluse to the dener?”

It could be close to the dining room. These manors didn’t tend to be designed arbitrarily; this particular place was likely once a feather in some architect’s cap.
“Cose the dener’s here.” Jorgen said, pointing into a room with a blackened door. With a swift kick, he bashed it inwards, the frame crumpling from around it with the sharp pop.

You looked in. The torch illuminated fine furniture, lined around a magnificent dark wood table. The remnants of the cloth on top were curled and singed, but the piece itself seemed relatively undamaged, despite the chairs around it having been burnt black. The heat seemed to have warped the wallpaper, but fine, floral designs were still visible meandering about the seams of the walls. The floors were littered with broken frames, the pictures once within curled on the ground. A pair of grand chandeliers had loosed from the ceiling, and shattered upon the floor on either side of the table centerpiece. Evidently, there had been no feasts going on; the table itself was unadorned besides the very basics.

“Ugh,” Jorgen recoiled, shining his light at the ground, “I thenk we fuund who thess ‘ghusts’ are.”

Scattered over the room were the prone skeletons of almost a dozen people, once well dressed. A disconcerting amount of them were small, and decorated in the faded dresses and jewelry that glinted in the yellow torchlight. If you were to guess, these people did not burn to death, but succumbed to heat and smoke; hence the relatively undamaged state of the room.

“Deff’netly gold n' silvar,” Jorgen commented, “’S bad taste to staal frum bodies, hm.”

>Leave the bodies be. Probably not a good idea to loot them with ghosts about. Move on.
>What use do they have for their gold now? Take it all; it’s wasted rotting here.
>Don’t touch the bodies, that’s nasty. There might be something of value around here, though…
Bury the dead. Make it clear that we will not tolerate the looting of these bodies
“Bad taste is somewhat of an understatement,” you say disapprovingly, “We will be burying them. Effects and all.”

“Vary guut.” Jorgen nodded to himself.

Theoretically, you were in there for some misguided treasure hunting, but you felt it uncivilized to take things off of the bones of the dead. There was appropriation of resources, then there was desecration of bodies for the sake of greed. One could be justified, the other could have none.

The wine cellar, at least, was likely directly underneath. One of the dark shapes on the wall, upon further examination, turned out to be the door to a dumbwaiter.

You passed the dining room by after that. While you were staring at the bones, you heard the odd scratching sound again. You dismissed it as a mere hallucination brought about by nerves.

“Luut,” Jorgen struck you from your stupor, walking along, “I thenk this meyht be et.”

A door loomed in front, dark and scorched like many of the others. You tried the handle; it failed to move. Locked tight.

No matter, you think, as you stepped back to kick it in.


Damn, this door was tough, or there was something behind it obstructing it. You tried again.

The door bent away from the frame, showering you with splinters and dust. You peeked into the foot-shaped aperture you had made, and found that some very rude person had placed a chair behind the door to strengthen it against any forced entries. How mysterious, you thought, as you prepared a coup de grace.

With another mighty crash, you sent the chair flying down the staircase as the door crashed open. The chair made another splintering crash as it exploded somewhere down in the darkness.

“Cuuud’ve gone down the alaavetor…” Jorgen mumbled, perhaps referring to the dumbwaiter. Well, what was done was done.

“Shhh…” a little voice said from down the stairs, “They’re coming!”

“Did you hear that?” you ask Jorgen.

“Haar wuut?”

“A voice,” you say, “From down there.”

Jorgen makes a funny face at you, like you’re being sarcastic. You don’t try to press further. Maybe it was just nerves again.

You kicked aside the devastation you had wrought at the bottom of the stone stairs. It was perplexingly cold down here; something about the place drew the warmth straight from the bone. With every step you took towards the open door to your right, you felt stranger; like pins and needles slowly setting in to your extremities.

An ever so slight ethereal blue glow was emitting from the room. You took a peek inside…
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So it was there. Wineracks, drink cupboards, bottles of all shapes and sizes, as well as a few barrels undoubtedly containing spirits, but those didn’t draw your attention then.

A half dozen light blue flames, huddled between two racks. Were they…hiding?

“Go away!” the voice from earlier said. It seemed to belong to an adolescent girl. “Take your monsters away and leave! What did we ever do to you?”

One of them was talking to you.

“Are you hearing this? Seeing this?” you turn back to Jorgen, who was also looking in the room.

“You’re luuny, Luut. I dun’t haar nuthin. I do see, thu, all that drink.” Jorgen licked his lips. Either you were crazy after all, or your encounters with the supernatural had somehow made you more sensitive to them.

>Try to talk with the ghosts. None of them seem very menacing. [Write in speech]
>Ignore the ghosts. Not like they can do anything to you, right? You don’t recall Maddalyn saying these were dangerous.
>Flee like a ninny. All of the drinks are too haunted now. Plus, the big spooky hooded one might be nearby, if they're all down here.
>Feel ashamed for your country.
>Look for the bodies to bury them too.
>Terrify Jorgen by saying exactly how many bodies you need to find.
>Investigate that trapdoor.
Try to find out what happened here from the wisps

Seconding both. See if we can communicate with them, if so ask where their bodies are and if they'd like to be buried. I would have thought their bodies would be the ones in the dining room but the blockaded door seems to suggest otherwise. May as well as them about that too. If we can't get a straight answer from them there's always that hatch in the floor to investigate.
Feel…shame? For your country?

The thought of burning children to death wass revolting to you, and it was your nation that firebombed this city, but for some reason…it feels like there must have been some good reason for it. Some deep feeling, coming from a place you can’t even pin down, telling you that it was a terrible, but worthwhile, sacrifice. It wasn’t logical, but it felt better to not question it; trying to dig deeper felt like running into a wall in your head.

You turned your light back on, and look about the room. It doesn’t look like there’s any place for bodies to be in here – you look around in the cupboards, but the only things there are drinks. Maybe down in the trapdoor?

“Jorgen,” you address your companion, “We need to find six more bodies. They’re somewhere around here.”

“Six?” Jorgen took off his field cap and scratched his head, “Why?”

“There’s six ghosts here.” You said bluntly. “So there’s six bodies.”

“Is he talking about us?” another little voice asked before being shushed down.

“Guhsts, sure.” Jorgen grasped at the flask in his pocket mockingly. “Mebbe you naed a brothe of frush eir.”

Well, if he already thought you’d gone loopy, there was no harm in talking with the wisps.

“Hello?” you try, “Who are you? Can you tell me what happened here?”
“Go away!” the dominant voice repeated, “Go back to your country, Imperial!”

Imperial? You hadn’t heard that one before. Strossvald’s uniforms didn’t even look like Grossreich uniforms.

“No,” you say, “We’re from Strossvald.”

“I know that!” the flame spat, crackling with fury, “Copycats! Kaiser’s bastards! Imperials in Sosalian clothing! Leave, leave, leave, leave LEAVE!”

This really wasn’t going anywhere. You sigh and head for the trapdoor.

“Nuun tuu tolkatif?” Jorgen muses.

“All too talkative, actually.” You say as you list the trapdoor, letting it fall to the side with a puff of dust.

You both crawl down the rickety wooden latter to the carved tunnel underneath. This looked identical to the tunnels you crawled through earlier; perhaps these were linked up with the rest of the tunnels? Why the route to this escape was blocked, you have no idea.

You don’t go far down before you find yet another skeleton in dry, frayed dandy clothing. This one was a gentleman, and his skeleton lay on its back, jaw agape in a macabre fashion. Two shots from what looked like pistol bullets had shattered his forehead.

Most mysterious.

Just ahead of the skeleton was yet another portal, but this one was solid metal and stone, with no way of opening it that you could see. The way was completely shut.

You aren’t entirely sure what could have happened here. This man was clearly murdered, but after he had blocked the way down into the cellar and left the rest to burn? Why did he have to close the way after him? These questions might not ever have answers, if the apparitions above were so set on not conversing.

The sound of scratching came down from above again, very quietly, then slowly gaining in strength.

“You hear that, right?” You ask Jorgen.

“The scrutch? Yea.” He answers.

There were no accompanying footsteps, or anything. Just that sound of long fingers dragging across walls. You heard the child embers whispering among themselves frightfully.

>Hide beneath the trapdoor and watch outside
>It’s nothing; keep looking in the tunnel and investigate the body.
>Go back up and see what the noise is proper.
>>Go back up and see what the noise is proper.

Ask the ghosts wtf is going on.
Also supporting
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You didn’t like how this was developing. You climb back up the ladder.

“Hey, kid…ghost, things. Rude girl! What in the hell is that noise?” You shouted into the wine cellar.

No answer came except the whimpering of a few of the “younger” sprites. At this point, the scratching was about at the door, itching its way into the room.

The first thing that crept around the opening was an empty, hooded space, about the size of a head. It seemed somehow familiar. The rest of it, was absolutely not.

It was difficult to look at; as it looked into the room, your ears began to ring, and you became acutely aware of your heartbeat echoing inside your head like a drum.

The rest of the horrible creature loomed in as it stuck its head in, and looked around. It grasped the frames of the door with long, luminescent claws, pulling its dark body into view. Bits of ragged flesh hung off of it like a grisly cape.


The thing let out a ragged, rattling choke. It looked from side to side, slowly, finally setting its gaze upon the glow the embers produced from the space they were hiding in. It pulled itself through the door.

>Retreat back into the tunnel and hope it didn’t notice you.
>Get Jorgen and try and make a break past it back out of the manor. It seems to be distracted.
>Take your chances and try and obstruct it. Somehow. (Write in action for this; just standing there probably won’t help.)
This looks like some combination of a Stareling and a Hungry Darkness. Hungry Darknesses are vanquished by bright light, so let's try that.

>Combine our and Jorgen's torches to completely cover the doorway in the lightcones
>If it doesn't react, hit it with the first heavy thing we can find. Target the "shoulders"
We also have that "pearl" Hungry Darkness gave us back in thread #9. Take it out and see if it does anything.

This is where we could have used the vacuum.
You remember where you’ve seen that shrouded empty mug before. It was some sort of bastard offspring of a Stareling, and something else. Probably a Hungry Darkness, you surmised, based off of its bony sprouts, which you remembered being a particularly disturbing feature of Hungry Darkness.

If you remembered right, Maddalyn had also said that both of these things were supposedly completely harmless, but you weren’t going to take that chance. If your assumption was correct, at least half of it was vulnerable to light.

How unfortunate for it that you and Jorgen were carrying electric torches.

“Get up here, quick,” you snap at Jorgen, before directing your light on this new phantom.

It didn’t have quite the effect you expecting. Instead of shrinking away rapidly like Hungry Darkness would, the bastard spirit tried to slink around the cone of light; obviously averse to it, but definitely not treating it with the regard of something deadly.

“Jooj abou, the hell’z thet!” Jorgen exclaimed when he reached the top of the ladder after you.

“Light it up!” you shout to him. Jorgen is quick enough that only a second after you say that, he is helping you keep the phantom from entering the room. Unable to find a space to crawl through for long enough to avoid being struck by light, the thing gives up trying soon enough. It instead sits just outside, looming just out of reach of the brighter light of the torches. It still looks about uncertainly, as if trying to find something.

This seemed like a good opportunity to try something else. You’d been carrying the odd pearly object that the Hungry Darkness from earlier had “given” to you, for whatever reason. You pulled it from a little bag in your pocket; it glittered in the darkness, glowing with soft multicolored light.

Immediately the phantom before you had its attention drawn to the little sphere in your fingers. It ceased its efforts to slink in at all, calmly waiting, watching that little thing in your hands.

“Look,” one of the embers whispered, he can make the monster stop!”

“Of course he can,” the eldest ember snapped back, “They’re the ones who set the monsters on us in the first place. Of course he can control them.”

You severely doubted that supernatural monsters were part of some secret agenda of Strossvald to hunt down the inhabitants of this city even after death; especially considering that Maddalyn had stated that the Pacers that marched outside were used by Soulbinders to clear an area of hauntings. Let them misdirect their suspicions for now, though.

You were, however, at an impasse for now.

>Light might not be as effective on it as you thought, but it still mislikes it. Try and drive it into a corner and disperse it, or at least trap it.
>It seems to be drawn to your pearl. Lead it away from here, keeping it at a healthy distance.
>It has bones, and bones can be broken. Attack it with the first long and heavy implement you can find.
>Lead it away to a convenient place.
>Try to corner and disperse it there.
>Have Jorgen find a hitting instrument just in case; take his torch while he's on standby to pummel the monster
>Ask the kids why they won't just escape through the walls. They are insubstantial, after all.
>Tell them about the ghost that we've seen in the hall.
Sounds like a plan, 2nd.
Well, it seemed as though you had this thing’s complete and undivided attention at that moment. Best to make use of it then, in case it got tired of you, somehow.

You ignored the continued bickering among the ghost children- at least, they sounded like children. The most bold one sounded around her teens, and there was one a bit younger.

“Jorgen,” you tell your new loader turned explorer, “We’re going to trap this thing in a corner and try to destroy it. Let in it the room a bit.”

He obediently let his light go away, and the specter crept towards you, reaching its long, bony fingerlike growths for your pearl. Not much of its body came along; instead, its long, thin neck stretched out, carrying its head with it, and it approached you piece by piece.

Come on, come on, you thought as it let its body linger behind, its arms coming unnervingly close to you. Finally, when it felt mere inches away and your ears pounded so hard you could hear little else, you turned your light on it.

Jorgen followed in concert, and your phalanx of illumination soon drove the beast into a dark corner of the room. Unable to escape the light, it shriveled into a dense ball, and began doing something you hadn’t expected.
The “limbs” and parts of the body retreated into the head, engorging it with bits of darkness and stark white bone matter. The distended, disgusting mass floated in the corner, connected to the ground by a thin stalk, like a foul balloon.

“Now then…” you hold out your hand to Jorgen, “Hand me your torch. I want you to find something big and heavy to beat this thing to death with.”

Jorgen shrugged and sighed, “Bet a guhst to death? Righty.”

Instead of searching for an improvised instrument, however, Jorgen instead reached into his tunic and pulled out a wicked axe. A Yaegir Franziska; some said that they preferred these throwing axes to bayonets, although all witness accounts you’d ever read never indicated any preference to killing tools.

With a might overhand swing, he loosed the axe towards the spirit.

The axe sailed right through it, as if it weren’t even there, and made a loud cracking sound as it sank into the wall somewhere behind the target. Jorgen looked at you as if this really wasn’t a surprise at all.

The thing did seem to be slowly crumbling inside its own maw, though. Perhaps it could be reduced to a simple, harmless Stareling with enough effort.
“Here, hold these,” your proffer the lights to Jorgen, “You can get your axe back if we just keep it lit for long enough. I’m going to go talk with ghosts.”

“Have fun wit thet,” Jorgen takes the lights from you and makes them dance over the horrible monster in lazy circles.

“So,” you approach the lingering embers, “Why haven’t you escaped through the walls or something? Aren’t you immaterial?”

“Imma-what?” one of the younger ghosts asked; a very young one.

“Of course we can’t do that, you pig rapist,” the eldest one spat once more. She bumped up against the wall for effect. “We’re up against the wall. But you like that, don’t you? You’d like to put me against the wall and ravish me like the beast you are, wouldn’t you?” The fire rubbed itself against the wine cabinet as suggestively as a flickering flame could, “Well you should have thought about that before you burned us to death! Or maybe you like your women crispy? Huh?! We’re good and well done, thank you!”

“Emma, not in front of the children!” a slightly younger voice protested. “That’s so gross!”

Besides being unspeakably foul, it was also not generally advisable due to the potential punishment, in case that needed to be a motivator not to rape young women. Doing so was a good way of getting yourself in front of a firing squad if you were enlisted, and disowned from inheritance and titles if you were of nobility. Some officers found it distasteful enough that even nobles who had done it would run into accidents before a trial could be held.

You didn’t really feel like explaining that to a ghost that just appeared to want to taunt you, though.
“We saw one of you upstairs,” you say, “Was that one of you or somebody else?”

“Why do you care?” the aggressive sprite apparently called Emma snarled.

“That was her.” The more composed one answered. “Emma, I mean. She goes up and looks to see if it’s day or night, to see how long we’ve been here, and to see if the giant monsters outside are gone.”

“She’s brave,” one of the youngest ones squeaked, “She isn’t afraid of that scary monster even though it chases us.”

“Why. Are you. Talking. To. The Kaiser-bastard?!” Emma screeched, her blue flames sputtering madly.

“Would you shut up?” the calm one said irritably, “How long has it even been? One year? Maybe a few months past? These are the first living people we’ve seen in who knows how long, they could have answers for us.”

“I’d rather wait a hundred years than talk to filthy thugs of the Archduke.” Emma flared matter of factly.

“And all that talk of ravishing,” the other one went on, “It’s because he’s handsome, isn’t it? You just can’t help proposing it, can you, even though you don’t even have a body anymore!”

“You shut up!” Emma floated past you, out the door, “If you like them so much, you can go ahead and talk the day away! I’m going upstairs.” With that, the frustrated blue flame flew out the door.

“I am dreadfully sorry,” the fire said when she had left, “She’s nice if you get to know her, you know. She’s just…bitter. About the whole dying thing.”

“Aren’t you?” you ask, somewhat surprised by this one’s manners.

“A whole lot, yes,” She said hotly, “But you don’t look like a pilot, or anything. And you aren’t a general or anything. What part could you have had in it?”

“I see.” You look around the place, and at the slowly disintegrating phantom. You hadn’t counted on running into this sort of situation.

“We…wanted to ask a few things.” The ghost said.

>Ask somebody else. We came here to look for things to salvage, not to find ghosts. No offense.
>Sure. But I get to ask things first.
>It’s been three years since the war ended, there’s still things that want to eat you outside, no, we didn’t put them there, no, we can’t take them away. Does that about cover it?
>>It’s been three years since the war ended, there’s still things that want to eat you outside, no, we didn’t put them there, no, we can’t take them away. Does that about cover it?

Also ask if they want us to do anything for them like bury their bodies or put their souls to rest or whatever. Nothing sexual though.
hands free masturbating
“It’s been three years since the war ended,” you guess the questions they’d have, “there’s still things that want to eat you outside, no, we didn’t put them there, no, we can’t take them away. Does that about cover it?”

“…Oh…” the wisp replied, “That wasn’t…what I was hoping to hear. Oh well.”

“That said,” you say, “If you want us to do anything like, bury your bodies, or something, we were getting ready to do that.”

“If you want,” the ghost “I’m Mia, by the way. These are Oliver, Olivia, Tessa, and Nora.”

You couldn’t tell them apart by looking anyways, not that you said that.

“I thought you would have cared a bit more, since they’re your bodies and all.” You say offhandedly.

“Honestly…” Mia said uncomfortably, “We don’t like being around them. I, well, all of us, I can say. It’s just creepy. We’ve gotten used to this, but…well…you know.”

“Right, right.” You stop her, “I promise we’ll be respectful."

“I mean…it’s hard to say…” Mia shifted from side to side. It was a bit strange to be talking to a fireball. “But it’s sort of hard to care anymore. Now that we’re…these, we aren’t really…those, you know? I don’t know how to say it.”

“I think I get it.” You nod to yourself, “So after that, would that put you to rest, or whatever? Go to whatever’s beyond? Yea, go forth an be judged, and all that.”

“Uh,” Mia jittered even more uncomfortably, “We don’t know about that either. I guess we were expecting something like that, but we’ve just been…here. For years. We don’t really know how, or what, or if we do anything…we just didn’t talk about it.”

You remember something Maddalyn said about embers; what these particular spirits were, supposedly. That they weren’t actually the souls of the dead; rather, that they were “parasites masquerading as dead people.” Or, more generously, “impressions made on presence creatures.”

You were no theologian, and you decided you’d rather not try to be. These wisps seemed an awful lot like people in any case.

>What they behave like hardly matters. People aren’t bits of fire, especially not if they’re bits of fire that are just copies of real people.
>They think and feel like people, what does it matter if they’re copies. They deserve the same respect.
>It didn’t matter in particular either way. You weren’t intending to disturb them further once you left.
>>They think and feel like people, what does it matter if they’re copies. They deserve the same respect.
>>It didn’t matter in particular either way. You weren’t intending to disturb them further once you left.

>If we could arrange for you to...move on, to wherever that might be, would you want that? It might be better than staying like this for all of eternity.

Also ask about where their parents are and what's up with the guy in the tunnel, if they know.
>They think and feel like people, what does it matter if they’re copies. They deserve the same respect.
So far as you were concerned, they thought and felt like people. Whether they were copies or whatever they were didn’t matter much; they deserved respect as people.
Although your opinion didn’t matter all that much on that, since you weren’t intending to disturb them further once you were finished here.

You think of a couple of questions in the meantime.

“Where are your parents?” you ask, “Are they here?”

“I miss them…” one voice said miserably.

“We don’t know,” Mia answered, having taken the role of the primary voice with Emma gone. “Mr. Alzeph told us to hide in the dining room, and when nobody came, we tried to get into the basement…and it was locked, and we couldn’t get in. There was fire everywhere else, so we went back…and now we’re here.”

“What about the guy in the tunnel, then?” you ask.

“That was Mr. Alzeph.” Mia answered, “I don’t know if he’s…you know, like us. I think he was trying to leave, but that big door’s in the way, so I don’t know if that was already closed, or not. We could squeeze through the door to here and the floor door, but the bigger door down there…we couldn’t even try and get into there.”

“So he shut you up there to die?” You ask.

“He wouldn’t!”

“He’d never!”

"Don't say that!"

Several objections came. Apparently, they didn’t think it likely.

“What was he doing down here then?” you pursue, “And why did he leave the upstairs blocked?”

“I don’t know,” Mia spoke up again, “But we know he wouldn’t have left us there. He got trapped like we did, he had to.”
One more question seemed worth asking…

“Well,” you began, unsure of how to break it at first, but deciding quickly. “If we could arrange for you to…move on, to wherever that might be, would you want it? It might be better than being a will of the wisp for all eternity.”

You were met with silence.

“What’s an eternity?” one of the small ones asked.

“It’s a long time.” Another small one answered, a young male one you hadn’t heard before.

“But it’s already been a long time!” came the protest of yet another.

“…I don’t know.” Mia admitted, “I’m still not ready for that. We just want to leave this mansion. Besides…well, I’ve told everybody about this, but…I heard a story once, about powerful sorcerers in the mountains who could give bodies to people without any. I thought it was just fairy tales, once, but now that we’re like this…I want to have some hope that maybe, just maybe, those stories are true. It feels so unfair that we died like this. I…we, want a second chance.”

That was a bit of a quandary. Could a soulbinder do that? You had no reason to think they couldn’t potentially, although this was a new boundary that would be crossed as far as the limits of their power went.

>I could help you do that. It turns out that I know some people who could do that. You could wait here, or one of you could come with me and I’d show you.
>I don’t know about that. It’d probably be better to just wait here. It’s safer; too dangerous with the monsters outside for anything else.
>You’re ghosts. It’s time to move on. What’s beyond is better anyways; the Judge will treat you more kindly than a Soulbinder would, believe me.

>>I might be able to help with that, no promises though. But it might be awhile before I can get you in touch with them. Some things are happening fairly soon that will be taking all of my attention.

I dont know about leaving them here after we broke down the door and with the thing in the corner. Unless we can keep them all in a tin like our shadow pet im not sure how safe they will be here.
>I could help you do that. It turns out that I know some people who could do that
>You should wait here though. I don't know when I'll meet one of them.

I think we should talk with the soulbinder in question first. Remember that Pacers are reportedly used by soulbinders to clear hauntings? What if he'll just feed the ghosts to them?

Also a question. Did we see a pistol next to Mr. Alzeph's body?

Seconding both. I think they're as safe here as anywhere for now, hopefully that thing in the corner dies from the flashlights soon. We can hope the Riverman would want to help them since he's apparently such a bleeding heart, though if he says it's impossible to give them bodies or do anything but kill them then that might also be "helping" in a way. Either way we can wait to tell him where they are until we figure out his stance towards them. I have a feeling carrying them with us would be a bad idea if they're really "parasites" like Maddy said.
Riverman is a greenhorn, he might not be able to do it.

He might know if it was possible though, and would be in a better position to find someone who could do it if he was agreeable to the idea.
“I might be able to help with that,” you reassure the embers, “I might know some people who could do that, but it might be awhile before I can get you in touch with them. Some things are happening fairly soon that will be taking all of my attention, so you should just wait here.”

You weren’t certain at all if any of the soulbinders you knew would help you. The Riverman, even if he ceased being in opposition to you, might not have the skill to do such a thing. Poltergeist, while not hostile, was even more of an enigma and always seemed to be trying to worm his way into somesort of deal or trade. That was undesirable for a different reason. The only other sorcerer you knew was the Hermit, who was senile and near incapable of anything but napping.

If you could perhaps guilt the Riverman into aiding the innocent damned, though, there could be a possibility of him telling you something you didn’t know about; for example, some other soulbinder that could do this strange matter of giving bodies to those without them.

As it was for now, it was a long shot, even if it might have been one worth taking.

“Luut,” Jorgen said to the side of your head, “The theng’s guun.”

Gone? You looked over, and saw that the “thing” wasn’t really gone; it had just turned into a relatively harmless, if disturbing looking, Stareling. The light no longer disturbed it, and it simply watched you with its unnerving void.

Jorgen took the lights off of it and went forward, pulling his axe out of the wall.

“Ezear then I thuut it’d be.” Jorgen twirled the throwing axe in his hand before stashing it back in his tunic. “Only guhsts now ahr the wuns in the haad.”

If only that were so.
With the hooded ghost made harmless for now and all the sources of hauntings found, you felt satisfied with your exploration. You made your way back up, passing by the grisly dining room. Inside, you saw the wisp of Emma, hovering near the bones.

“Excuse me,” you called to her, “We’re going to bury you now, if that’s all right.”

“….piss off. None of these are me, anyways.” The flame flickered, but much more soberly than before.

“None of these are you?” you repeated back to her. You step into the room once more and look at the bodies once again. Not knowing what Emma looked like in the first place, it was a futile gesture.

“That’s what I just said! Are you deaf?” Emma tried to burn with indignant fury once more but she lacked the energy she once had.

“Well, where are you then?” you asked, “We can’t just leave you lying around here.”

“I…don’t know.” Emma admitted, “I’ve been looking for…I don’t know how long, and I’ve never been able to find my body.”

“We could help look for it” you offered to her.

“I’ve been looking for…you said three years? I’ve never found it. What makes you think you can?” She must have been eavesdropping instead of leaving like she said. “I wouldn’t want you or any of your pigs touching it anyways.”

“Sheesh, I was just asking.” You shove your hands in your pockets and depart. You had assumed that these ghosts just appeared when their bodies died. Apparently not, although they at least remembered what they looked like.

The thought of the one called Mr. Alzeph came to you. One of many dead who had no lingering spirits. If only it had- he could answer so many questions. For example, who killed him, and why. While you were in the tunnel, you saw no weapons; only the indication that one had been used. The man certainly couldn’t have shot himself through the forehead twice. It seemed the truth of what happened still evaded you, far from your grasp.

When you brought Von Walen back down with you to appraise the buried treasures, he immediately began commenting on the décor, seemingly undisturbed by the burnt surroundings; as if he were in an ancient tomb, instead of the burned wreck of a recent war.

“The owner must not have had an appreciation for the era this manor was designed after,” he spoke disparagingly of the former castellan, “The walls, the trimming, the doors; they’re Calussian Floral. The manor is Old Sudensee Revival. A pick and mix of what he liked.” Walen waved a finger at you, “Awful for noble fashion, but good for finding a variety of stuff.”
You avoided the dining room, and led him straight to the wine cellar, where he immediately began to pull bottles out of the shelves and brush them off. He clicked his tongue and growled in disappointment as he went along.

“Fuckin’ cheapskate…” he returned to his less eloquent vocabulary. He went to the drinks cabinet. “Shit on a cracker, is this what I think it is…?” He slowly opened the door and pulled out a square, red glass bottle. “Hot damn, where’d this guy get this?”

“What is it?” you ask him as he looked at every angle of the bottle.

“Only one of the fifty three…fifty four now, remaining bottles of brandy from Kaiser Alfard V’s personal distillery!” He cradled the bottle like a baby, “Forty of these are in the Reich, and every other one outside it is worth…a lot. No self-respecting collector over there would give up something of a former emperor’s after all.”

“Is it good drink though?” You wonder.

Walen pursed his lips as he stared at you, one eye half open. “Actually, no. It was his hobby, not a business. Hence why these are so rare. The brandy itself is usually mediocre. It’d be a waste to drink it anyways.”

“Psh.” You syllabize dismissively.

“Well, there’s at least one thing,” Von Walen gingerly put the bottle back in its cabinet, “What about this barrel of whiskey? Let’s get a look at the barrel here, see how old this cask is, and where from…” He crouched down, and almost immediately hopped back up. “J-jack fuckin’ pot! 1901 Sudenseeland Import!”

“Is that rare?” You ask.

“Rare?” Walen echoed weakly, “Rare? Are you kidding me? There’s was Great Gale between us and the Sudenseeland for twenty years after 1901, don’t you know that? This would have been one of the last ones to even come over! Maybe even the last to exist…We have to get this open.”

“Open it? Wouldn’t that ruin the…collector’s value?” You’re out of your element, but you’re doing your best to adapt.

“It’s already been opened,” Walen pointed out, putting his finger along several points as if you were supposed to notice something, “We won’t be reducing any value if there’s still legitimate 1901. We just have to see if it’s still the original spirits in there or if the guy bought an empty barrel and tried aging his own brew in there. If there’s none of the original, the barrel’s not worth nearly as much.”

>Leave it closed anyways; couldn’t we get more on speculation?
>Alright then, crack it open. Let’s see what’s inside.
>What if we just tapped it instead? We could get at what’s inside instead of doing more damage.
>Alright then, crack it open. Let’s see what’s inside.
Inb4 inside are Emma's bones
>>What if we just tapped it instead? We could get at what’s inside instead of doing more damage.
“What if we just tapped it instead?” you proposed, “We could get at what’s inside instead of potentially doing more damage.” With a brief search you even found a prior tap point, corked up at the top; albeit so worn down that it wasn’t immediately noticeable in the dark. “Right here.” You pointed it out.

“It couldn’t hurt, I suppose…” Walen produced a corkscrew. What an odd thing to keep on his person.

“Hm, It’s rather full,” he peered into the little hole after he pulled out the stop, “Perhaps too full, even for something never opened. Here, help me with this. We won’t have to tip it much.”

“Tip it?” you crumple your frow at him.

“We can’t stick a finger in this, can we?” Walen said irritably, “Just help me with this.”

It only took a little slosh, and some of the whiskey splashed around the edges. Something felt a little off when lifting it though, like something else was bumping around. But that was ridiculous, wasn’t it?

Walen ran his finger around the droplets and tasted it delicately. Immediately, he spat it back out, with a gag. “What the fuck..?” He stared at the barrel, looking dejected, “It’s Sudenseeland brew, but…it’s shit! That’s not right at all…”

Curiosity drove you to take the slightest taste of a drop…

You spat it out almost instantly after it touched your lips. By the Judge that was hideous. Not like food gone bad though. Like the whiskey itself had the slightest taste of something that was off. Like bad…meat.

“This is piss,” Walen announced, “I’m taking a look inside.”

With a small prying tool you two had brought along, he popped the top off the barrel and looked inside.

Walen put his head forward, and immediately recoiled.

“What in the jumping Judge of shit!” He exclaimed, falling on his backside, “What in…what in the fuck?!”

You peer over the lip of the barrel, and see something you really hadn’t been expecting to find there.

Almost perfectly preserved, immersed in the whiskey, was the corpse of a young woman.

>Nobody has to know about this. Just shut it and roll it into the river.
>Dump it out and examine it.
>Close it and leave it alone.
Well that would explain where her body went to.
Arrange for it to be buried like the others.
>Nobody has to know about this. Just shut it and roll it into the river.seems like something that is very out of character,
especially to a random body
It is, admittedly. I try to go with three options and sometimes I can't think of anything good.
Its all good if you cant fill the 3 suggested options. Someone usually comes up with one thats just as good.
>>Dump it out and examine it.

Then >>1505681

No need to spend an inordinate amount of time playing detective here, just dump it out, see what we can see, and bury it. Whiskey's ruined anyway. Turns out infusion of adolescent girl isn't a good distilling method.
You had to examine it. You didn’t need all the answers; it was hardly your business, and hadn’t been anybody’s business for three years. However, you couldn’t just let things be forgotten forever.

“Mia, was it?” you don’t turn around, “Take the children out of here, and yourself. There is something here you shouldn’t see.”

“Come along, kids.” Mia said without objection. You had a feeling she already knew the sort of thing you were talking about from your tone.

You watched the spirits leave. “We have to take her out of there.” You tell Walen.

It was a messy, inelegant affair; you both gradually tipped the barrel and drained it down the tunnel passageway, leaving the glistening corpse behind in the barrel.

In life, this had presumably been Emma. She had been a blonde, short haired girl of around sixteen; presumably rather attractive before death had come. She didn’t have the fancy dress of the other corpses; she was instead clothed in but a white shift; obviously only her underclothing. A knife had been the thing that killed her. A massive, curving cut had opened her neck from ear to ear; the final wound of many, as her torso was covered in deep stab wounds, her hands and wrists cut to bloody ribbons in attempts to defend herself.

So she had been murdered, but who could ever know why. At some point, the mysteries became too distant for you to reasonably pursue them; especially with so much else on your plate. From the look of it, the only suspect was long dead as well. What remained was a just a grisly shadow of a terrible crime overshadowed by the flames that destroyed the city. One of a thousand stories that came to an end and were forgotten forever.

It was not encouragement you needed right now.

“We’ll bury it with the others,” you say simply.

“I think my taste for this mansion’s gone straight out,” Walen brushed himself off. “Look, we’ll…come back later. There’s been too many fucked up things happening for fucked up shit to intrude on my off time.
Naturally, he said this while carefully retrieving the antique from the cupboard.
Hard work, but young strength, ensured that mattocks carved out a row of graves quickly. The men neither asked, nor were interested, in precisely why they were doing it. They only stood respectfully as remains wrapped in cloth were carried out and finally laid to rest. Their wrapping had taken place under close observation, as to not allow the chance of any looting to take place. You tried to cover Emma’s body discretely. Such a brutal death did not need to be relived, in your opinion, even if it would have provided some closure. As you did so, though, you could feel her burning presence peeping on you.

The ground was tough and rocky, the graves by necessity more shallow than they ideally would have been, but an hour later the last shovelful of earth was laid back on top.

You noticed an old piece of folded parchment tumbling on the ground. Perhaps it had fallen from the possessions of the body of the shot man?

When you reached for it, however, it blew away in the wind, vanishing into the city.

It was getting near noon. You had the crews preparing for the war to come, but you weren’t set on what you would do. Theoretically, you had to be well rested for the operation coming soon, but it didn’t feel right to leave everybody else working.

There was also the matter of your infrequent trips to the dreamscape that had been happening each night. Perhaps you could game it out by resting early? It would be awful for it to happen in the midst of battle.

>You’ll make it up later after you’ve done your secret mission. Rest now.
>Spend the day helping with preparations. There isn’t time to be lying about.
>Any other things that come to mind?
Help out till around 15-1600ish then pass out with those coming for the night mission?

So I guess a bit of both.

Also, its only noon. I though it was closer to the evening, we didnt need to dismiss Maddy that early. Ohwell

There were plenty of things to be done, and you weren’t about to laze through it all. You decided to work until the late afternoon, then force you and your crew to take an early nap. Theoretically, it would work out just as well.

The platoon markings had to be newly painted, for example. Putting yourself down as fifth platoon felt off, but it was what had to be done. Maybe it’d confuse people looking at photos of your platoon later in history. “Strossvald didn’t organize their companies into five platoons!” they’d say.
Yours would naturally be 351. Von Metzeler and Krause’s tanks would be 352 and 353, and Von Walen and Von Igel’s 354 and 355. If only Von Neubaum had a tank, you could bastardize standard organization even further and have tank 356; the only way it would be more complete is if you were in some impossible 9th company, as battalions had four companies each and each battalion was one of two parts of a regiment. Alas, you had yet to see the mystical age of the legendary tank number 956.

The meticulous list of things that could be taken care of was endless, as there was always something that could be better done, yet would be inevitably left for naught when time came to fight. The evening came before you knew it, and you let Von Metzeler know of your intend to rest yourself and your crew for a secret mission. Metzeler did not question it, merely nodding slowly and tending to his projects.

You gathered your crew before you. “We’re going to go ahead and take a nap,” you announce, “we have a task early in the morning, just for us.” You decided on an area on the other side of the mansion, far from the noise of your camp, yet just out of sight of any prying eyes across the river to the south.
You spread your bedrolls in a circle and lay down. Jorgen required no motivation to sleep; he was out like a light as soon as he hit the deck.

“You know, boss,” Hans said, “This whole relaxation thing would be much easier with a girl in arm. Sleeping out this calm before the storm with a bunch of sweaty guys just makes me wonder where my life went wrong. Not that you know how that feels, eh? Eh?”

“Maddy isn’t your type anyways,” you mutter as you turn over.

“Sure, sure, but you’re spoiled for choice, you know.” Hans insisted, “You could at least try and share.”

“Share?” you say aloud.

“Sure! You’ve got the redhead pipsqueak, the queen of eyebrows, and this new catch you brought in that looks like her mother was a mince pie.” Hans cried with mock despair, “Woe to the rest of us who suffer through this drought of womenfolk!”

He then elbows you, “Maybe a good thing considering your messed up tastes, huh?”

“Whatever.” You dismiss him and turn the other way over.

“Hans, can’t you wait a few months or so for the girls who fawn over army men to appear?” Stein asked, somewhat annoyed. “It’s been only a few days and you already expect to be covered in women.”

“Maybe I’m getting false expectations from somebody’s example,” Hans poked you with his elbow again. You had half the mind to cuff him across the head. “By the way, boss, in case you’re thinking of helping a guy out? Look at your hocus pocus gunman’s sister. Bushy, blonde hair, huge blue eyes, and big, juicy, soft titties.”

“Hans.” Stein said levelly.

“I’m talking, delicious. Works of art. Perfect, plump size, the right kind of fashion sense to make them pop…”

“Hans!” Stein asserted more sternly, “Stop it!”

“…and, I had to suffer for this, but trust me, it was worth it.” Hans had no intention of stopping, “They’re the most heavenly things to hold, to knead, I was in a world of pain when it was over, but I tell you, while you’re hands in that canyon of paradise, caressing those udders, phoo-hoo-hoo…”

“Hans, stop talking about my sister’s tits!” Stein swung a big arm over and struck Hans in the face.

“Pfah!” he let out a huff of air, then chuckled, “Heh, still nothing compared to your sister’s arm. And her arm’s punch is only a close second to those great, big,”

>Oh for goodness sakes, yes, her breasts. Enough. Go to sleep and bother your dreams about them.
>There has to be something else you value more in life, isn’t there?
>You’re awfully attached to this sister. Did you both grow up together or what?

third try's the charm
>>You’re awfully attached to this sister. Did you both grow up together or what?
>>There has to be something else you value more in life, isn’t there?
>>Oh for goodness sakes, yes, her breasts. Enough. Go to sleep and bother your dreams about them.
>Oh for goodness sakes, yes, her breasts. Enough. Go to sleep and bother your dreams about them.
“Oh, for goodness sakes,” you said, annoyed, “Yes, her breasts. Enough. Go to sleep and bother your dreams about them.”

“I was going to say brains.” Hans said defensively.

“No, you weren’t.” Stein retorted hotly. “If you were into those you’d be out of luck, any woman with brains wouldn’t come near you.”

Hans chuckled condescendingly. “I’d say it’s the other way around.”

Malachi snorted loudly.

“He knows how it is,” Stein added confidently.

“Don’t talk smack about your big sister, Stein.” Hans continued to tease, “Just because she got the brains AND the boobs doesn’t mean you can let the venom of envy cloud your eyes.”

You resigned to the fact that you weren’t going to be allowed to rest until this was settled. “You’re awfully attached to this sister. Did you grow up together or what?”

“We come from the same town near Strosstadt,” Stein answered for Hans, “He lived down the street from our auto repair shop.”

“Gunning is a strange thing for a mechanic to go in the army for.” You muse.

Hans butted back in excitedly, “That’s ‘cause he sucks at wrenchwork. All the gearhead genes went to his older sister and younger brother. He inherited a hundred per cent of momma’s kooky ghost story obsession, though.”

“Don’t you call my mother kooky, Hans, especially with how your mother was.” Stein said back. “Since we’re telling each other’s stories for each other, I’ll tell you that old Hans Berg here was thinking he’d be a poet because laying brick didn’t suit him.”

“Author, you twit, not a poet.” Hans waved a finger in the air, “Not just any author either. One for radio books. I built my first crystal set so I could listen in on Lost in the Gale. My second went to his sister.”
“Was this before or after you assaulted her?” You wondered.

“Before.” Hans answered, “I wasn’t quite old enough to appreciate the exquisiteness of her milk mounds and they hadn’t grown to their full potential then.”

“Once he did he turned it into a god damned tradition though.” Stein added on to the end of that. “He didn’t even stop when she started beating him with the spanner.”

“We’re a perfect match, you see?” Hans reminisced with a sigh, “Her big soft titties for my hands and my thick iron skull for her blunt instruments.”

“There has to be something you value more in life than breasts.” You poke at Hans verbally.

“Clearly you haven’t been enlightened.” Hans taunted back, “I’d introduce you if she hadn’t run off to Sosaldt.”

“How do you know about that?” Stein demanded.

“She told me, dingus.” Hans was completely calm, “I even passed up my last chance to fondle her boobs because she was so broken up about it. Biggest mistake of my goddamn life, I should add.” He stretched on his back with a groan, “The shop was keeping her down, you know that, don’t you? The mind of an inventor stuck swapping parts in some boring town in Strosstadt.”

>Can’t be as smart as you say if she went to Sosaldt.
>Impatient, rash, violent, and lacking in any sort of restraint. Sounds like a perfect lady.
>Should have followed her, you madman. Now you’re stuck with us, forever a maid.
>Should have followed her, you madman. Now you’re stuck with us, forever a maid.
>Should have followed her, you madman. Now you’re stuck with us, forever a maid.
“Should have followed her, you madman.” You say, “Now you’re stuck with us, forever a maid.”

“Thanks for the sunny forecast,” Hans said sarcastically. “Besides, Sosaldt is a really rough place, so I hear. That kind of place, whose tourists are so bad we shoot them on sight, isn’t a place I’d chase even the best girl to.”

“Why’d she go there anyways?” you asked out of curiosity.

“So no one would follow her,” Stein said through his teeth.

“She said it was a machinist’s dream.” Hans offered an alternate explanation, “All sorts of junk and gear gets broken up and reassembled down there, smuggled on the black market, fashioned in backyard tooling shops, it’s a cornucopia of scrap.”

“I’ve more heard that it’s a cornucopia of crap.” Sosaldt was a paradise for nobody but bandits, and it was hard to hear anything else of it. “It’s less a scrap yard and more a trash heap, of people as well as junk.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” Hans stretched out, “Anyways, I’m going to take your suggestion of dreaming about those breastss.”

Uncouth, but about time, you thought to yourself.

It didn’t take long to drift off to sleep after Hans quieted down, and you felt the pull you expected, but not nearly as strong as the times before. Like it was only a friendly suggestion, and not a harsh drop from one world to the other.

You also didn’t hear any spooky voices this time; you merely drifted away, then found yourself on the hill in the swirling miasma once more.

Yet again, you did not see Poltergeist here, simply the black hut made of twisting matter at the peak. You entered it, thinking that maybe you’d find something you didn’t find before.

What you didn’t expect to find was nothing. The hut was completely empty, although it was not as dusty as the other time you’d been inside of it. In fact, it seemed partially disassembled. Floor boards were missing, and below them there was an odd, black and slightly translucent gelatinous mass; not the pale earthlike material you had been walking on outside. A brief inspection led you to a wall without floorboards, where the black mass was displaced by the spongey pale material again; it looked like a sliced, boiled egg, but on a much larger scale. Said wall also lacked the talley marks you saw earlier, for some reason.

Additionally, some of the outdoor structures were gone, as well. The only thing present was a ramshackle add on, which had the look of an outhouse, if not the smell, thankfully.

>There’s not much to do if Poltergeist decided to take down everything. Wait out the trip.
>Look in certain places; he must have missed something. (Write In)
>>Should have followed her, you madman. Now you’re stuck with us, forever a maid
>>Look in certain places; he must have missed something. (Write In)
Investigate that black mass, poke it with a loose floor board or something, see if theres a reaction. After that check out the outhouse.
Hah, I knew it.

>When you reached for it, however, it blew away in the wind, vanishing into the city.
Is this our punishment for not searching the bodies?

>Check the outhouse
>Poke at the black mass
>Look around the hill once more
>Realize we're in the past of this place

Agreed, we're probably in the past. If we had some sort of message for him we could get it to him early, but I'm not sure what we would say. Maybe a mysterious dickbutt.
The black matter tugged at your curiosity. With a little effort, you tore a board from the floor; they were surprisingly brittle, and instead of breaking away, the piece you selected broke off softly like a piece of chocolate.

You could have guessed it wasn’t wood anyways, despite its appearance at first glance. You carefully dipped it into the black goop.

There wasn’t much of a reaction. As you raised it back out, it seemed to pull weakly on the plank, but you had no trouble lifting it away. As soon as the matter that had been separated from the whole had no more link with its parent mass, it quickly solidified into a slightly veined solid, steadily fading to the same color as the plank you held.

How enlightening. That answered what the place was built out of.
Next, you went to the outhouse. Thankfully, it didn’t smell; when you looked down it, it appeared as though some thought had gone to the transport and disposal of wastes through constructed pipes. Somebody was quite the tidy camper. In the corner, there was a book; a reasonably thick mass of quires whose sleeve had worn off.

You tragically couldn’t read a word of it. It was written in Old Nauk, and Old Nauk was just distant enough from New Nauk to make the text incomprehensible to you. There were a few pages with symbols you recognized as looking similar to the ancient mountain language; perhaps it was some sort of guide to old languages? If only you knew Old Nauk.

You took another look around the hill, making a wide patrol just above the encroaching mist at the bottom. You didn’t find much of interest, save some solidified matter that indicated some of the dark insides had been tapped. A few scraggly things that looked like blades of grass grew here and there, but they both held perfectly still in the wind, or randomly undulated and vibrated, writhing in a disturbing fashion without warning, making you not particularly interested in finding out more about them.

With a start, you think about the possibility that you were in the past. The more you thought about it, the more sense it made. The lack of tallies, the state of the place, the lack of objects, how clean it was – it wasn’t in a state of disassembly, it was still in the process of being built.

If only Poltergeist were here now, perhaps you could have told him to not be so cryptic and weird when talking to you, and perhaps doing less of attempting to be manipulative and successfully being creepy. Or perhaps he met you before coming here? The matter was all quite confusing, although not a completely foreign concept to you. You were aware of the concept in novels and one rather popular film adaptation of a novel, The Emperor from Tomorrow, but til now it had been merely a fantasy.

There also wasn’t much you could tell the enigmatic soulbinder, and there was a possibility of your actions mucking up the future. Or would it turn out that your actions had happened all along? Or would it have seemed like happened all along, but it wouldn’t have happened all along until you did it? It was a bit much to take in, yet still seemed like a risk.

>It’s not like anything from the past told to this guy would help anyways. A mere quirk of this strange place. There’s nothing else to see.
>There’s solid matter that you could arrange in crude writing. You could use that to write something…but do you? It wasn’t mentioned in Poltergeist’s journal, after all, and you’d think that would have been mentioned…(Write in message?)

It wasn't meant as punishment, no. I do my best not to lock off options; that was more symbolism.
>There’s solid matter that you could arrange in crude writing.
>"If you ever learn how to give Embers bodies, please come to <the mansion> in Salzbrucke on <the day of the secret mission>"
I know you restarted the quest and wanted to see how it was like before l, anyone have the archive?
Look for his diary to see if we really is in the past... If not he might have left us a message or the pages that where missing the last time might still be there now
>This isn't the most popular thing on /qst/

How? Who doesn't like some good ol' tanks!

Just finished the archive. Tanq, this is a very good read, can't wait to finally participate.
It'll be in the /tg/ archive, under Tank Commander Quest. I wouldn't recommend it; the writing is rough, I didn't really know what I was doing, and while there was a lot more combat it had so little context that it really didn't matter who won or lost.

Also, I'm flattered, but I can see why a lot of people wouldn't like this. Battles are pretty widely space apart, update speed fluctuates between "long" and "an eternity," and there aren't enough illustrations to demand interest based on that in and of itself. I'd say the current level of interest seems about right but that's just me.

Anyways I'm going to have an update posted soon. I'm anticipating the thread being kill by Tuesday, so after tonight we'll probably be through with this thread.
You broke off a bit of the planking to make a crude stylus, since you weren’t especially interested in getting wet black gunk on yourself, and decided to write a message on the floor. It was difficult and time consuming, considering that every time you wrote half of a blobbly letter the matter froze up into uselessness, forcing you to break if off at the end, but you eventually had a barely legible message.

If you ever learn how to give Embers bodies, please come to the manor on the hill in Salzbrucke on October 15th, 1932.

Perhaps a bit bald faced, but its conciseness was, in hindsight, a blessing for having to work with unconventional writing material.

You got the mind to look for Poltergeist’s diary, but your efforts turned up nothing. There weren’t many places to hide things, and thus not many places to look; there was naught but the jacketless book in the bathroom. It taunted you as you stared at it, feeling yourself being pulled back to reality.

When you opened your eyes again it was night time, the stars perfectly clear and a bright half-moon granting some illumination. The lamps had gone out in the city for the most part. Only a few yellow specks cast their glow over little areas such as the bridges.

You groan and pry yourself up off the ground, noticing then that you were mostly alone; seemed nobody else had decided to sleep so long.

“Sheesh, didn’t know you were that tired, commander.” Stein had been waiting for you to wake, it seemed.

“My dreams were particularly enchanting.”

“Oh Judge above, not you too.” Stein sighed, “Look, I know she looks good, but-“

“Please, Stein,” you heave up to your feet, “It wasn’t that sort of dream. I’m not quite that base. What time is it?”

“One and forty, last I checked.” Stein said, “Might have been a few minutes.”

“Get the crew ready. We’re going to war.” You told Stein.

“War?” he repeated, “Wait, now?”

You rolled your crew up into one of your m/32s with the 3.7 cm cannon; you had discussed with your tank commanders earlier that you would be taking that instead of your normal one. Once you were all inside tank 354, you explained the situation very briefly to them.

“They might tell you more once we get there,” you said, “Point being that that was probably the last good sleep you’re going to get in a while. Malachi, take us down the hill I'll tell you how to get where we're going.”
There wasn’t much comment to your announcement; either the crew was still processing it or they decided that there wasn’t any need to know further til you got to the assembly area.

Surprisingly, your tank starting up…well, Von Walen’s tank, but you were borrowing it, wasn’t shattering the night with the din of its engine. That work was left to trains still pulling in and out of the station. You wondered if any of them were the armored trains that were supposed to move in after your initial operations, to help secure the bridgeheads after they’d been taken.

With no traffic on the road, Malachi was able to get the tank to your desired destination surprisingly quickly; it was just after 2:05 when the tank came to a halt in front of a band of almost four dozen scruffy looking soldiers.
You and your crew jump out of the tank as it rattles into a slow, bubbling silence with the engine turning off. No sense in having it idle for potentially an hour, after all.

The men’s uniforms were all in various states of distress, some of them, it seemed, self-inflicted. It was a mess of non-regulation modifications and repairs. The weapons were similar; clean enough, but so widely varying in modification it was as if this was a mercenary outfit instead of a unit of soldiers. Only the fact that the officers were clearly marked in Strossvald badging indicated such. In addition, many of the weapons, submachineguns, had had unusual barrel replacements; it was as if they had water cooled jackets from machine guns, but that obviously wasn’t really what they were.

“Acceptably punctual,” Captain Honnrieg approached, “Welcome to Bat Company. We’ll be briefing ten minutes after our yacht comes down the river, which should be soon.”

“What are those weird looking guns?” Stein asked, pointing at a few the soldiers were slinging around, “Those are the strangest barrels I’ve ever seen.”

“Ever heard of a suppressor?” Honnrieg asked back.

“No.” Stein said, “What are those?”

You knew what a suppressor was, but you let Honnrieg explain.

“About twenty years back, devices that made guns quieter hit the market,” he began, “Really popular among nobility for not making such a big racket when they fired. You got attachments to screw them on the ends of rifles and such. They’re made in a pretty wide range of calibers. Army doesn’t see much use in them on a wide scale, though. They shoot out quick in combat and it’s just another hit on our price tags.”
Honnrieg went and picked one of the pieces up. It was a typical 9x23mm Messer Submachinegun, but with the notable larger and wider solid barrel jacket.

“We liked using them as is plenty, bought them with our own money, but another captain was a bit more inventive. Wish I had the know how to make these. Most suppressors go on the ends of barrels, but this is a special made one by our own hobbyists. Barrel and suppressor, all in one. Makes it nice and cozy to hold instead of a friggin’ lance.”

Stein looked at the gun, then to the tank’s cannon. “Could we…”

“No.” you answer preemptively.

One of the engineers, with large, thick round glasses seated firmly on a wide, square nose, had been watching you for the past minute. He approached you as you were examining the raiders’ unusual weapons.
“’eyou,” he said quickly, poking you, “Loogitme.”

“What?” you weren’t sure what this bespectacled man wanted.

“Look. At. Me.” He said through his teeth, as he darted around quickly, peering from different angles at your face. You obliged him by looking at him, although with how odd he was being, it was an act that came naturally.
After a few examinations that intruded into your personal space much more than you liked, the strange man huffed noisily and called out, “Rieg, eyRieg!”

“Rieg,” who unsurprisingly turned out to be Captain Honnrieg, had been nearby the whole time. “Shaddup, I’m right here.” He said irritably, “Swear to shit even with those pussy blockers on you’re blind as a bad. What is it, Wies?”

Wies said excitedly, “Eezgot dalook.”

“I’ve got…the look?” you deduce.

Captain Honnrieg looked into your eyes, then squinted and looked some more. His staring was well past the point of being uncomfortable to you when he finally broke away.

“Shouldn’t be a problem.” Honnrieg said, “If it is then we’re just back to plan A anyway.”

“Excuse me,” you say with more emphasis, “What does he mean by ‘the look’?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Honnrieg said dismissively, “if we tell you, it’s more likely to pop up and make you a pain in the ass. Just hold it together and you won’t even have to know.”

>That doesn’t fill me with confidence but I’ll take your word for it.
>I’d like to know anyways. To be prepared.
>”Sure, whatever.” Then, accost “Wies” about your apparent condition after the captain leaves.
>>I’d like to know anyways. Trust is important in these sorts of situations, and I'm not going into this with relevant information being kept from me and my crew. If you want me to be able to do my job I need to know what could go wrong.
Sorry for delay, got caught up with another task followed by dinner.

“I’d like to know anyways.” You say, “Trust is important in these sorts of situations, and I’m not going into this with relevant information being kept from me and my crew. If you want me to be able to do my job, I need to know what could go wrong.”
Wies looked at Honnrieg, and Honnrieg looked back. After a moment, and a click of his tongue, Honnrieg stated, “Wies’ll tell you about it. I have things to take care of.”

As Captain Honnrieg trudged off, Wies started, thankfully bothering to annunciate.

“Emrean War. 1906. Grossreich’s territorial regiments stop being able to make progress. Emrean revolutionaries and Imperials dig in. Try to destroy each other with artillery. Even when body is not destroyed, the mind is. Shellshock.” Wies rattles off.
“I’m familiar,” you reply, “What does that have to do with ‘the look?’”

“1910.” Wies continues regardless, “War ends. Analysis of casualties determines huge amount of psychological damage. Operations delayed, mutinies, even a loss of ability to function. Research done into countermeasures. Limited success with indoctrination, hypnosis, and other such things. Most countries find it to be unethical.”

“Strossvald included.” You add on.

“Officially.” Wies pushes up his glasses, “Unofficially, do it anyways. Don’t know how they do it, where, or who. Just that it’s done. Has fantastic results. Those who undergo indoctrination almost unbreakable. Fear never clouds their reason in battle. Extremely useful for officers. Useful for officers of nobility, whose reputation demands showing no fear. Very limited in scale, though. Often limited to special promotions out of training. Lieutenant.”

You didn’t like where this was going, and liked it even less when Wies came up very close and near put his finger in your eye.

“Maybe hypnosis. Maybe chemicals to induce forgetting. Either way, indoctrinated forget. Not flawless, though.” He snapped his fingers in front of your eyes, and you flinched. “One day, in battle. All that is forgotten comes back. Sends indoctrinated into shock. Becomes incapable most of the time, until psychological shock wears off. Possibility of relapse is low enough for practice to persist up until now, apparently.”

“Are you saying…” you try to cut in, but Wies cuts you off again.

“Now you know, you try to remember. Do not. Risk increased one hundredfold due to your knowledge. Do not try to remember. Do not think about what it could have been. Definitely do not look into mirror and look for funny things in eyes. Or you relapse and you are useless. Honnrieg does not tolerate useless officers.”

>I think I’ll forget we ever had this conversation then.
>Now wait a moment, how did you find this out? That doesn’t seem like something that could be kept a secret.
>How can you tell? I think you’re just trying to mess with me.

>Honestly, I'm sort of insulted you think I'm stupid enough to believe any of that crap. Tell me, what do you have to gain from playing mindgames with your armor support?
>What, really? Where's my special promotion then? Where's my salary increase?
I feel I should clarify that most cadets do not graduate the academy at the rank of Lieutenant. They tend to graduate at the rank of Junior Lieutenant.
Not special enough for us!
Well we Got promoted for our efforts during the infiltration job against the "rebels"
You were not. There was an option to ask for a promotion after the fact, but it was not taken.
Okay my bad then
Seconding this

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