The anarchic “nation” of Sosaldt is a brutal place, inhabited by thieves, murderers and sellers of contraband. Life there is often violent, and short. While there are those who live comfortable lives in the so-called “Southern Cities;” fortified cities who grew fat off of black market trading for goods that sailed in that rest of the nation would not take, these people are the exception and not the norm. Even those who proclaim themselves the princes of whatever slice of land they take live a life of constantly awaiting challengers and usurpers. Yet, many thousands make pilgrimages to this place, because no matter who you are or where you come from, Sosaldt will take in anybody. A land of gold and last chances, some lucky individuals even manage to find themselves leaving the cursed country with a fortune, which spurs ever more hopefuls towards the wastelands…-----You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of panzers for the army of Strossvald, on a secret mission to rescue hundreds from the clutches of vile bandit mercenaries who hail from the east, the brigand nation of Sosaldt. You managed to pursue your enemies, a band called the Blood Suns, all the way through the nation of Valsten, and into East Valsten, where you chased them into misty mountains inhabited by illusions and massive monsters. When you came out the other side…you found yourself ahead of your enemies.Sensing opportunity, with the permission of the guardians of the town you found yourself in, you prepared to do battle with your enemies, who would, in your plans, find themselves under attack without any warning at all, and swiftly defeated despite your pitifully inferior numbers.However, there was no real way of telling when the Blood Suns would appear to trip over your ambush, and hours of fretting, planning, and coordinating, one of your “subordinates” (in name only, for he outranked you), Captain Honnrieg, recommended that you take a break; ostensibly for the purpose of training a lady sniper who had joined with you, Hilda, in the operation of Strossvald’s standard anti-tank rifle, although more likely for the purpose of alleviating your stress by separating you from the source of your woes.While you didn’t like being sent off to take a respite when your troops would have no such breaks, you relented to the Captain’s advice.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” you said in something that would have resembled biting insincerity if you weren’t so strained, “I suppose I’ll defer to experience…and rank.”“Good. She’s over by the road right outside the town going north. Don’t keep a lady waiting.” Honnrieg peered over your papers as you began to walk away, backwards. ”Goddamn mess,” you heard him mutter, ”Trying to pull a Looter’s Way Gambit with half the men...’s got three times the tanks at least. If only we had heavy guns right here…You hadn’t heard of a “Looter’s Way Gambit,” but you didn’t feel that you’d get an answer if you stuck around and asked. You left Honnrieg to pore over your plans.You found Hilda where Honnrieg said she would be, pacing in circles around one of the anti-tank rifles. The model Strossvald used was rendered, theoretically, quite obsolete by the machine gun version mounted on tanks, as both guns used the same armor piercing round, yet the single shot rifle remained in service with most of the infantry regardless. Some enterprising shooters who had requisitioned explosive-incendiary anti-aircraft 13mm ammunition had found a new purpose for the anti-tank rifle; as an explosive method of dealing with light fortifications from a distance.
It was autumn in the mountains, yet Hilda wasn’t wearing her coat as she usually did. She had shed it elsewhere, and was instead wearing an undershirt that bared her arms and shoulders. She seemed slightly uncomfortable from the way she moved, although her face didn’t show any signs of such.“Hello,” you greeted her as she stared at you in the odd way she tended to look at everyone and everything; it was the way her eyes were so rigidly set in the position of being half asleep while also seeming alert.“Hi.” Hilda said levelly. She noticed that you were raising an eyebrow at her current garb, “What? It’s…” Hilda toyed with one of her tails of hair with one hand while the other remained in her pocket, “it’s…” She looked off to the side, and shifted her weight over to her left, “…hot out.”>Sure. Of course it is. Shall we get started?>Go put your coat back on. You’ll catch a cold.>Hot? No it isn’t. We’re in the mountains in the later end of October. Windy, chilly, most certainly not hot.>Other>Past threads pastebin @ https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh>New pastebin for miscellaneous files here: https://pastebin.com/k8yuNeuS>Miscellaenous files are sparse for now; there's only a map, but I'll fill it out eventually. It will certainly not be required reading: the only things that go in the files are what has been encountered or explained in quest.>announcements and other shit are @scheissfunker on twitter
>>1726704>Sure. Of course it is. Shall we get started?What are we shooting at? Mountain ducks?
>>1726704>Sure. Of course it is. Shall we get started?
>>1726704>Go put your coat back on. You’ll catch a cold.We should have put Metzeler to this.
“Sure. Of course it is,” you pretended to agree, while wondering if indulging her lie meant your eyes were allowed to wander. “Shall we get started?”You had an inkling that either she or Honnrieg were up to something. You had been rather hoping to acquaint Hilda with Von Metzeler (their similar dour disposition was a fair match in your head), but your attempt to do that in the past had failed, and now this…Nothing to be done about it for now, though, you supposed. “…You know how to use this, right?” Hilda asked. “Since you’re a tank officer and all.”“We’re taught how to use all infantry weaponry in basic,” you picked up the Anti-Tank Rifle. It was about as heavy and unwieldly as you remembered. “I’ll admit that I’m far from a specialist, but I know the basics.”“Okay.” Hilda sat down, “It looks too heavy to use standing up, right?”“Right,” you nodded while setting the rifle down next to her, “It’s too long, too. It has to be used prone or mounted on an object, ideally with the bipod.” You demonstrated unfolding and unfolding of the bipod. It wasn’t a complex piece; just a frame on a locking hinge. The breach was also a similar lesson; a bolt that was turned and pulled back, with a single shot being inserted into the chamber before being closed and turned again. It was an exceedingly simple, yet reliable system. Safe, as well; unlike the design that Strossvald’s AT Rifle was based off of, the trigger mechanism was not linked to the action until the bolt was turned closed, thus preventing the weapon from firing with the action not closed all of the way. You didn’t think it important to tell Hilda how to hold and seat the rifle stock. Despite it being a folding model with an unorthodox, padded end with no real cheek weld, she seemed experienced in firearms enough to know how to hold it.So it surprised you when she held not only the stock, but the other sections of the gun the wrong way. It was almost as if she was doing it on purpose, although why she would purposefully hold the gun wrong was a mystery to you at the moment.She was also prone in a way that was not recommended. You’d seen Hilda shoot prone before, and you knew she definitely knew the proper way to lie when using a weapon.>…No, that’s not how you do it. Here, let me help you. (Physically mend her stance and grip)>This is just a normal rifle, but bigger. You know how to use a rifle, don’t you? You’re all dorked up.>Are you holding it wrong on purpose? Why? Stop goofing around.>Other
>>1726831>>…No, that’s not how you do it. Here, let me help you. (Physically mend her stance and grip)
>>1726831>This is just a normal rifle, but bigger. You know how to use a rifle, don’t you? You’re all dorked up.>>1726865>>1726870We're engaged.
>>1726902>We're engaged.That doesn't mean we can't help her,
>>1726908Please don't pretend you don't see what she's trying to do, anon.
>>1726966Trying to do the correct form of holding? So we need to help her? :^)
>>1726971You're hopeless in one of two ways, both shameful.
>>1726908You can always correct her stance in a non-lewd way
>>1726865I support this
>>1726865Supporting What the wifey don't ya know..heheI mean fuck it though let's see where this is going.
You sighed to yourself, “…No, that’s not how you do it.” Kneeling down next to her, you thought about what part of this mess you should fix first. “Here, let me help you.”A brief observation told you that one thing destroying her current prone position was that her hips were swayed too far over, throwing off the angle of her entire lower half. You put your hands on both sides of Hilda’s hips and pulled her straight. It was impossible to get a grip on her without laying your hands at least partially on her bottom, but if she thankfully deigned not to criticize this professional necessity.She was much denser than you anticipated, but moving Hilda around still wasn’t very difficult. Next was to get her legs into a proper position. You wrapped a hand around the inside of her thigh-“H-hey…” Hilda squirmed in discomfort. Perhaps a bit too high on the inside of her thigh there, you thought as you moved back down. That was the closest point to the pivot, though, who could blame you?Besides her earlier protest, Hilda remained patient with your bumbling about with her limbs as you put her legs in a more suitable shooting position, except for her twitching when you accidentally pinched the back of her knee.
“I’m not sure what your stance before was,” you said a you pivoted Hilda’s feet to point outwards, “I know that you know how to shoot, and well.”“Er,” Hilda sputtered uncertainly, as if she had suddenly been caught while distracted, “It’s…the gun. I’m not used to the size so I’m…compensating?”“Well, the way you’re holding it wouldn’t compensate much.” You said, examining her grip. You readjusted the stock’s position in her shoulder, and had to put one hand on your “student” to help gauge how well it was seated. Her skin was very warm, but when you brushed over a scar you noticed her old wounds had a coolness to them that was jarring to encounter.After that, it was a relatively simple matter of shifting where her other hands was positioned. “Really, it’s no different from any other rifle besides being a lot bigger. Everything is built bigger and wider to dissipate the increased shock…Hilda? Hilda.”“Yes.” Hilda said suddenly, “I hear you.”“Is there anything else..?” you wondered aloud. It wasn’t as if you needed to tell her how to disassemble and clean the thing. “Oh,” you remembered, “This gun has an automatic extraction mechanism, so as soon as you pull the bolt back, it kicks the spent shell out. You have to rack it back hard, though, or else it won’t work. How about we try that?”You loaded a 13mm AP shot for her. It would have been preferable to use a training munition, but you hadn’t been blessed with any. It should have been fine anyways; despite Hilda’s seemingly purposeful ruining of her shooting stance, her trigger discipline had never been disregarded.“Alright, now twist and-“ You suddenly realized you were standing in a rather poor position, behind somebody who was in all likelihood about to jerk their elbow backwards very hard…>Roll D100, DC roll below 50 to not catch it>Alternatively, accept your fate
Rolled 68 (1d100)>>1727380>>1727386Strange, I fucked up the rolls twice.
>>1727389Happens to the best of usAlso better bite down on the stick and hope the whiskey shot kicked in
Rolled 13 (1d100)>>1727375MUST PROTECT THE FAMILY JEWELS!
>>1727392D-does this count?
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>1727404Well I had already started writing before that but...Let's see.
Time appeared to slow down as you twisted around, watching Hilda’s cruel elbow graze the seam of your trousers, a slight twinge of pain to our nethers from the glancing blow a relieving sign that you had avoided a direct hit. The 13mm shot was dutifully kicked from the action, flying high into the air and beaning you on the top of the head after you fell to the side, leaving you to rub your scalp indignantly.Hilda looked over to you and blinked twice. “What are you doing.”“You almost eliminated the Von Tracht family line.” You breathed while getting up and dusting yourself off.“What?”“I just avoided taking a direct hit to the lower glacis.”Hilda stared at you, still not understanding.“You almost planted an elbow between my legs.”“Oh.” Hilda glanced down, “Sorry.”“Well, we avoided disaster, so there’s no need for apologies.” “We aren’t going to test fire, yes.” Hilda asked, “To not alert any oncoming people.”“No, we aren’t. Also to not disturb the locals. We’ll save the gunfire for when it’s necessary.” You punched into your shoulder while smiling slightly, “They call that thing the Ass Rifle for a reason, though, just remember that when it’s time. Oh, also, don’t fire more than once from the same position.”“I knew the latter part, actually. I learned a few things from my brother…and from experience.”“Well…that’s good, then.” You thought about what else there was to do. Honnrieg probably didn’t expect you to take only a short break, but you were rather at a loss of what else productive there was that you could take care of.“…Sorry.” Hilda said suddenly while you were thinking, “The Captain said that this would help, but I don’t think you’ve relaxed much.”“With the toughest battle I’ll probably ever fight coming up? You’d be hard pressed.” You said to her.“Maybe I could help you relax in some other way…” Hilda thought for a moment, then blushed hard, “Uh, I didn’t mean it like…that sounded wrong. I meant that we could take your mind off of it with something…damn it, that sounds bad, too.”“You’d like to chat.” You said for her.“…yes.”>Well, until my mandated leave ends, I can’t do much else. Did you want to ask me anything?>I’d better do the talking, then. You’re tripping over your own words so much you may as well be laying a minefield in front of you. (Write in questions, conversation.)>Sitting here and talking will just make me think about how I’m sitting around and doing nothing. Let’s do something else (Write in)>Other?Will be heading off to a Zoo soon, probably won't be back for a while.
>>1727442>>Well, until my mandated leave ends, I can’t do much else. Did you want to ask me anything?
>>1727442>Well, until my mandated leave ends, I can’t do much else. Did you want to ask me anything?
>>1727442>Well, until my mandated leave ends, I can’t do much else. Did you want to ask me anything?>Spy on the local wildlife/interesting geographical features?
Alright, I'm back. Writing.
“Well, until my mandated leave ends, I can’t do much else.” You tried not to sound too bitter about having been told to abandon command, even if it was for your health. “So, hm…what do you think about the geography?”“The mountains aren’t so bad.” Hilda said in a sterile manner, “The fog makes it hard to take any long shots. Unless more wind comes in and blows it away, any fighting may as well be knife fights. From here, for example, we can see people and things moving around on the road into the town, from that corner, at least. Past that, it gets worse and worse from here.”“I see,” you squinted for the mountain bend that you knew was behind the first, but as Hilda said, most of the second prominence’s features, save for the stony slope’s existence itself, was masked by wispy clouds. “Did you want to ask me anything?” you prompted Hilda. You didn’t really want to take the lead for conversation at the moment.“…Yes.” Hilda pulled up some of the pale, scruffy, moss-like grass and let it fall from her fingers, “Can I ask you something personal.”
“Depends. What is it?” You indulged the scarred shootist once more.“What do you like to do.”“That isn’t that personal,” you smirked in relief, “I enjoy hunting, hiking, and quiet study. To tell you the truth, before I was fighting battles for real, I’d often fight them in pretend scenarios, with little models.”“That’s…different.”“Not exactly something that makes a lady’s heart pound, is it.”“Well,” Hilda twisted one of the wild locks that sprouted from the top of her head around a finger, and unwound it once more, “Maybe not a normal lady. What kind of things do you hunt?”Somebody was actually interested? What a pleasant surprise. “The usual. Deer, boar, pheasant…Maned Hog?”The last one got Hilda’s attention. “Maned Hog?” she leaned over on both hands towards you, her eyes wide, “The old way?”“With a knife, of course.” Or was it a spear? “What other way is there?”“Really?” Hilda edged closer to you, “Tell me about it…”You’d never seen Hilda’s attention so thoroughly captured as you did right now. The second button on her undershirt had come undone with her shifting around; something that couldn’t help but draw your own attention.Perhaps in the future you’d tell Maddalyn to not dress so prudishly.“Come on,” Hilda urged you.>Tell the pitiful truth about how the maned swine got the better of you in close combat, and how you were forced to flee like a little girl before plugging it with six shots from your side weapon with your trousers full of piss.>Make up some crap to impress her; naturally, you had run it through with the spear from head to spine, and held it back as it charged mindlessly in its death throes. Or had you deftly evaded its attack, jumping onto it and cutting its throat while clinging to its back? It was difficult to remember…>A secret for a secret, perhaps? See what you can pull from her. (Write in question)>Other?
>>1728840>A secret for a secret, perhaps? See what you can pull from her. (Write in question)If our story's going to be embarrassing then may as well trade for another embarrassing moment from Hilda.
>>1728858Shrewd. Though when we do tell her we could probably use to leave out the wet pants part.
>>1728858Agreed, our pants were wet with exhilaration, bravery, patriotism and only a modicum of piss.Maybe how her meeting with Honnrieg went?
>>1728895Don't feel bad, every country loving patriot pisses his pants once in a while....Let's not tell Hilda.>>1728858Supporting this.
“It’s a secret,” you told Hilda, “I’ll only tell you if you tell me some secret of yours.”“A…secret.” Hilda looked crestfallen, “You already found out most of my secrets. I’m…boring.”“Surely you’ve got a few. For example…” you thought through a few things that weren’t likely to bear any fruit before settling on something, “What do you and the Captain talk about? You’ve been around him a lot, you requested that he guard you when you were bathing, what have you two been up to?”Hilda bit her lip and looked down again, “That’s not interesting. Just boring things.”Really, now.“Alright. Tell me something interesting, then.”“I…” Hilda said nervously, “That’s too broad. What sort of thing do you want? Couldn’t you just tell me how the hunt went first?”>I’d like to hear about what boring things you and the Captain discussed>Tell me something lewd. (D100 roll DC 20 roll-under for pigheadedness)>I heard you had special eyes from your brother. How about that? (She probably doesn't know you've been told this)>Other?
>>1728966>other whats your greatest fearif that dosen't work I go for >I heard you had special eyes from your brother. How about that? (She probably doesn't know you've been told this)
>>1728966>Other?An embarrassing story from when she was learning how to hunt/shoot?
>>1728966>I’d like to hear about what boring things you and the Captain discussedor>>I heard you had special eyes from your brother. How about that? (She probably doesn't know you've been told this)
“Alright, I have an easy one.” You held up a finger, “What’s your greatest fear?”“Bears.”“Oh.”Hilda pointed to the long, nasty scar on her face, “You probably could have figured that out on your own.”“It could have been something else…social anxiety? Displaying emotions besides standoffish indifference?” You pleaded with Hilda.“Bears,” Hilda repeated. “So are you going to tell me the story or was that not fair?”“I’ll say,” you grumbled impatiently, “That’s hardly a secret. You’d have told anybody that…really, just bears?”“If you don’t want to think it’s bears, that’s fine. Sorry that I’m so dull.” Hilda slouched over and looked gloomy again. It seemed that you had lost the charm you had once had by putting off tales of conquest over nature for criticism of her simplistic fears. At least her blouse was still open.“Alright,” you tried again, “I heard you had special eyes from your brother. How about you tell me about that?”Hilda’s eyes narrowed, then went slack once more. “If you know I had them, you know I lost them, too. What’s the point of me telling you a secret you already know?”“For somebody who wants to make conversation you’re making a lot of excuses to not talk.”“I want to hear about you, not tell you about myself.” Hilda muttered, “I’m not interesting. I hear the Bat Company people tell each other stories and reminisce, and I realized that I’m not interesting at all. Every myth about the New Moon Sniper in Salzbrucke was more interesting than the truth.”“I want to hear about that boring stuff, even if you don’t want to talk about it.”Hilda looked up at you. “Really? But…”“Tell me about the boring things you and the Captain talked about.”“Well,” Hilda’s lips tightened, her expression turning to unease once more, “Just things.”“What things?”“Like how he and his wife met, what sort of things that men li-er, what sort of things they did when they met each other. It was…more about him. One sided. Boring.”“Hm.” You grunted in acknowledgement.>So then suddenly he comes up with a plan to have me tutor you in weapons use? Something’s suspicious, if you don’t mind me saying.>Sure, alright, that’s fine. If you don’t want to tell me about yourself, I won’t tell you about myself either.>I suppose that’ll have to do. Are you ready to hear my hunting story, then?>Other?
>>1729244>>I suppose that’ll have to do. Are you ready to hear my hunting story, then?Remember, minimize the piss!
>>1729244>>I suppose that’ll have to do. Are you ready to hear my hunting story, then?Maximize the love of the Archduke who definitely did not brainwash us!
>>1729244>I suppose that’ll have to do. Are you ready to hear my hunting story, then?Piss is a great way to mask one's scent in the forest.
>>1729395I don't think that's how that works.
“I suppose that’ll have to do,” you gave up on trying to draw out any brutal, cutting secrets from Hilda, “Are you read to hear my hunting story then?”“Yes..?” Hilda looked oddly hopeful as she sidled up next to you once more, closer than before.“Well…”-----Tracking a Maned Hog wasn’t particularly difficult; when one showed up, if it stayed long enough, a bounty would be set up on it for certain. They were prideful, powerful, and destructive animals, and their presence wasn’t tolerated if they have any signs that they were intent on sticking around.You had been on the lookout for one, and it was fortuitous that this one had just made its way into the woods that you usually wandered into for your hunts. You were quite set on adding its head to your wall.Oh, but it was never just the trophy, ever. There was always a story behind every head, and you intended for this story to be great. Maned Hogs were fierce animals, but apparently, according to some folk tales you’d heard, if an upstart young man wanted to court the daughter of a king in the chaotic times after the collapse of Nauk Imperial, he had to prove his wit and strength with the head of one of these terrible creatures, using but a short blade. Or was it a spear? You never knew which.But you used a knife, right? Yes, it was a knife. It was just a stupid animal, after all, and you were a clever young man.
“Who was the daughter of the king?” Hilda interrupted.Crap. “There wasn’t one yet.” You admitted, “I thought there might be one eventually.”Hilda suppressed a snorting laugh, and you continued.-----Maned Hogs are arrogant animals, and make no attempt to hide themselves, but you still spent a whole afternoon tracking down this animal the moment you heard rumors pointing to its approximate location.It was an ugly, rust-red furred creature with massive, pearly white tusks and a magnificent golden mane that splayed out behind its long, pointed ears and down its chest. It noticed you, and stamped and grunted menacingly, before charging full tilt at you.You’d heard Maned Hogs were extremely aggressive; what made them so dangerous was their tendency to not give any warnings that most animals did to back the fuck off, they just came full at anything that offended them.And you were the most offensive thing that could possibly cross it. Some snot nosed kid who thought he could kill it with a dinky little knife.It came at you fast, so fast you barely had time to dive out of the way as it blew past you. Your instincts took over, and as the Hog turned its flank to you, you leapt for it, intent on grabbing hold of its flowing hair and, as the heroes did in tales, cutting its throat.You got as far as jumping onto it before it began to buck back and forth, its jaws snapping at you as you clung for dear life onto its flank. You lost hold of the knife, and soon after, of the pig itself, sending you flying into a tree holding a clump of its fur.With a howl of squealing rage, you saw the pig coming for you, upside down, boiling mad. You scarcely remembered yanking your revolver out of your belt and plugging it, hurriedly, in the forehead. With a screech of agony and pain, the hog had lost all control of its limbs and skidded before you, writhing, still coming for you. Five shots later, it lay in a pool of its own brains and blood, its face a total ruin.To say your trousers were ruined was only one part of the story. Having been thrown into a tree upside down, this was the first time you’d ever heard of somebody pissing in their shirt. You didn’t tell Hilda any of that, though.The whole point of taking this beast down being the trophy of its head, you left its corpse, frustrated, and not thinking. When you thought better of it and tried to return to it, its body had already been hauled off by some woodsman, and likely turned into sausages.
“You should have found somebody you liked first,” Hilda said after you were done.“Why?” you asked, puzzled, “I messed up and had to shoot it. That’s not how it’s meant to be done.”“You went out and killed a monster to impress girls,” Hilda smiled slightly while looking down and twirling the hair of one of her pigtails around her pointer finger, “That’s hot.”“Well,” you said gruffly, “That’s nice that you think so.”“The first time I went hunting,” Hilda said, unprompted, “I was seven, and I wanted to go get a rabbit with a pellet gun…I thought I would help father, since strange people wouldn’t come buy water from him for a long time sometimes, and we would have to live off the land’s bounties.”“So did you get a bunny?”“The bunny got me, actually,” Hilda choked out a dry chuckle, “I found it, and I thought I was going to shoot it, but it was a big, big rabbit, and it thought it could take me on. It pounced on me and bit me, and I ran home crying. Then I cried more because I forgot the pellet gun.”“Well,” you offered sympathetically, “Do you have a scar from that one too?”Hilda coyly pointed a finger gun at you. “Pow. If you didn’t tell me you liked scars I’d be mad.”You did say that, didn’t you, you thought, slightly regretting it.“…Listen,” Hilda said with sudden wistfulness, “There’s going to be a fight coming up, and…I’d rather not lose the only person who I feel like I can talk to about…myself. The Captain’s a caring man, but I can’t really have a conversation with him. I don’t think he really…understands, like I’ve told you. So…”Hilda reached around behind her neck and unhooked her necklace, that had the bear tooth on it.“In the same stories as the ones where men hunt giant hogs…they wear charms from girls that protect them. I think we’ve seen that that thing doesn’t help me much, but…I want you to wear it. Some old coot said that a trophy from my greatest enemy was a charm against danger and misfortune, and maybe this isn’t how such mumbo jumbo would work but…”>Weren’t these given by girls who fancied these men? I’m not liking the implication here.>I’ll wear it, it’s a neat looking doodad, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest.>Keep it. With your awful luck, that thing’s probably the only thing that’s kept you from suddenly spontaneously combusting.>Other?
>>1729594>>I’ll wear it, it’s a neat looking doodad, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest.It's the thought that counts.>Inb4 it actually works
>>1729607With some of the stuff we've seen I wouldn't be suprisedSupporting
>>1729594>I’ll wear it, it’s a neat looking doodad, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest.>Weren’t these given by girls who fancied these men though? You know I'm engaged.
>>1729594>I’ll wear it, it’s a neat looking doodad, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest.
>>1729594>>I’ll wear it, it’s a neat looking doodad, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest.Thus did the legend of Richter of the Yellow Shirt begin.
“Alright,” you took the trinket from Hilda’s hand, and for the first time since you’d met her, she looked indescribably glad. “It’s at least neat looking, even if it’s not a bulletproof vest. Although…” You had to wear it somewhat looser than it was originally set, but it still fit, “Although, weren’t these given by girls who fancied these adventurers? You know I’m engaged.”“Urp.” Hilda coughed and gulped, “No, that’s not what it is. I’m not looking for that, I know I’ve no chance at that, with anybody. Do I come off like that?”“Yes.” You said with absolutely no hesitation.“I’ll try to restrain myself better, then.”To be honest, you preferred a somewhat over-emotive Hilda to the strange, monotone gargoyle that she usually was, although it would be incredibly inconvenient for her to act too amorous…-----“Alright,” you clambered back into the truck-borne command post, “Put me back in the seat.”“It’s been but a half hour, Lieutenant.” Captain Honnrieg said without looking at you, “Put a bit more effort into…” he looked at you and his eyes flicked to your neck. “That took less time than I thought it would.”“It’s just a sentimental gift.” You tugged at the necklace.“You must have a way with the hearts of women.”“I highly doubt that,” you said, remembering your various embarrassing misadventures trying to attract the fairer sex earlier in life, “I think I just have a tendency to run into damaged women looking for somebody to listen to them.” “Damaged…yes, in more ways than one” Honnrieg agreed, before picking up the radio telephone and shouting into it, “I don’t care if the ground is hard, if you don’t construct proper entrenchments, you’re dead as soon as they decide to start firing back! Put some backbone into your work, you lazy canned sprouts!” He put the receiver back down and grumbled, “Soldiers never stop bitching, but there’s something just annoying about hearing it from people who’ve not spent a week in a war. Where were we?”“Damaged women.”“Yes. Poor girl, just needs a friend or two. Something to keep her from just glowering in the back of a truck and unsettling everybody.”
“She needs a friend sure," You said, warily, "however, I do not need a mistress.”“Women understand the word ‘no’ like anybody else, Lieutenant,” Honnrieg looked at you like you were somebody who’d been grifted by the worst liar around, “Did you act like you were interested?”“Of course not.”“Yet here you stand with a token of her favor decorating you like a Langenacht Tree.”“I didn’t want to act cruelly.” You scratched at where the necklace connecting with itself, the knot was causing some mild itching.“It’s cruel to play games with the heart of a desperate girl, Lieutenant. Don’t imply things or whatever you’re doing to still get her hopes up, shut down every advance she makes, if you really don’t want her trying. Whatever you do, don’t waste her time. I wouldn’t advise you to damn your marriage and chase after whatever young thing is running about in front of you, but anything’s better than keeping the matter in some messed up stasis of indecision.”“I expect to be spoken to like an officer, not a child,” you muttered.“From my point of view, you are a child. It’s my right as a mean old bastard of forty one years to do so.” Honnrieg listened at the receiver for a few moments, asked for a confirmation, and then put it back down. “I spent four years courting my wife, and now we’ve been happily married for twenty. I’ve got two beautiful daughters and one young boy who I’ve told to stay far, far away from the army. All I’m doing is telling you how you end up with a family like mine and not like your uncle’s.”
“What was my uncle’s like-“ you tried to ask, but the Captain cut you off.“Back to business. You don’t have enough crewmen proper to fully staff all your vehicles. Do you want to use them all? Because if you do, you need to either redistribute some and have a few of them undermanned, or put some of my people or the non-combat personnel in there.”“Can your men crew tanks?” you asked incredulously, “I thought you were light riflemen.”“We do a lot of things,” Honnrieg said back, “Not all of the 3rd Holtenberg knows, but Bat Company sure as hell does. So what do you want?”>Distribute Crew and Enlisted to vehicles, or don’t.>In order for a vehicle to operate, it must have an officer.>Bat Company Enlisted are able to lead infantry operations on their own, but cannot command vehicles>Noncombat personnel are basically trained soldiers, but can only assume relatively simple roles in vehicles, and don’t do them well>Each vehicle as a gunner, driver, and commander slot at the least. The tanks each have a radio operator slot, the m/32 has a loader slot on top of the former listed, and the T-15 has two loaders/rear turret machine gunner. Some slots may be chosen to not be filled for the purpose of having more vehicles, despite decreased efficiency. A commander may gun, for example, or a gunner can load the cannon themselves. If a vehicle is to be used as a static position, drivers may not be necessary to have in their roles. (Strossvald crewmen are cross trained; any can assume any role besides commander)>or>…shit, I don’t know. Can’t you do this for me? You’re acting command, after all.>Other actions to take?If anybody would like a brief overview of the vehicles, I can do that, too, in case their capabilities don’t spring to mind.I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear that this was something that needed to be done earlier; I thought the pips were enough explanation. Probably shouldn't have assumed everybody else would know what that meant.
>>1730749Well we're gonna have the T-15 on the front lines doing the heavy lifting right? So let's make sure that's filled up. Should we just be giving a loos overview of the deployment we want or should I break out the ms paint and start assigning?
>>1730815You can do either if you like, but I meant this to be more of a "what vehicles do you want, with how much crew" thing than anything overly specific.
>>1730820>Distribute Crew and Enlisted to vehiclesI was thinking we'd have the t-15 up from doing a lot of the heavy lifting as was discussed before so that should be filled up with the most skilled we got. Von Metzler should be the officer because he's our most trusted and capable confidant.So t-15 full up with tank crewmen, Von Metlzer in there. Our tank filled up with Stein, Hanz, the crew y'know. I was thinking though we could skimp on the m/28's crews if we really need to ( I don't know do we) and put them into more of a support role, but that's getting into wider planing.
Here's what I'm thinking:We got with >>1730842and stick Von Metzeler with t-15 and include one member of BP 1 and BP 2 for loading, firing and aiming with the spare crew. How much moving is this really thing going to need to do? We stick with best tank and include ourselves in GROUND POUNDER SQUAD when we charge through the center. One medic each squad, one/two mechanics go in the armored car if we need them to go pick up groceries or something. I figure with 7 LMGs one car turret won't be that much more helpful.Flammenwerfers to keep bandits off of BP2, anti-tank for Hilda and the best shots of Bat Company. I'm concerned if we stick a m/32 on the hill and it needs to get off that hill during the fighting it's going to break down so either a 3rd m/32 with GROUND POUNDER or BP1Thoughts?tanq does the available infantry also include the scouts we sent out with Emma?
>>1731014And for completeness sake.
>>1731014>tanq does the available infantry also include the scouts we sent out with Emma?Yeah, there's just a few guys out there. However, as far as I interpreted things, they're meant to run back anyways at the first sign of trouble, since I'm presuming they aren't sticking around out there for the fight itself when it comes.
>>1731014Seem fine too me, kind of what I was thinking.>>1731030Well obviously we don't want the scouts to alert the BS column to our presence, it would defeat the point of an ambush. If we don't catch them by surprise we're pretty fucked considering how outnumbered we are.
>>1731014That looks fine as long as the m/28s can be hidden on the hill there so they don't spoil the ambush. They might have to sit on the reverse slope and drive up into their positions when the time comes. I think the armored car should have a second crewman in it, either the other mechanic or an infantryman- it can pull out onto the road behind the enemy once the ambush kicks off and intercept any enemies that try to retreat, for example if the hostage truck takes advantage of the fact that we won't shoot it to make a U-turn and gun it back down the road.Also I'll reiterate that the demo charges should be placed closer together, probably right in the center of the bend. As they are right now they're about 1km apart along the road, which is presumably longer than the convoy will be.
“I want things like this,” you explained your plans to the Captain, “I want to hit them here, right in this isolated bend in the road. We’ll be able to hit them from the front and back, firing down.”This was a tactic you’d heard was famous in naval battles; “crossing the T.” Strossvald’s military history was, of course, not replete with naval battles by nature of its lack of access to the sea, but examining them was an easy way to introduce tactics because of the flat nature of the ocean. Something like you were trying would never happen on the sea; a double-cross, firing downwards. If it worked out, this would be an absolute slaughter.There was a precedent for this sort of operation in a more familiar sense. In the days when Strossvald first won its independence, the Kaiser at the time had sent troops through what would become known as the Imperial Gate in an attempt to retake the realms that the first Archduke Strossvald had liberated. Altossian Mountaineers were found and employed in multiple series of ambush attacks that worked on the same principles you were basing this ambush upon; partial encirclement using the terrain upon select sections of marching columns, maximizing damage and retreating before the Imperial troops could organize a counterattack. This was naturally because the Mountaineers’ numbers were so much fewer than the armies they were ambushing, but the wear and tear they inflicted was such that by the time the Imperials came out the other side of the mountains, they were in no condition to face even the ragtag band that was the newly formed Army of the Strossvald.
Captain Honnrieg noticed the latter reference, of course.“Trying to pull a Ridge Campaign raid, I see. We won’t be running from this, though.”“We won’t have to,” you said confidently, “We’re up on the slopes pointing down at them. For their guns to elevate properly, they’d have to drive up the mountains themselves, and I doubt they’ve got the power to go up after us. After all, we had to use a road to get our own tanks up top there.”“That would be convenient,”Honnrieg didn’t share your confidence, “What could they have that could put a wrench in that theory, though?”“…the self-propelled howitzers, I suppose.” You guessed, “I suppose they could be dragging some guns I don’t know about, but they’d have to get those ready to use. Hard to do under fire. So mostly the self-propelled guns, and we can focus fire on them.”“No, they’ve got plenty they can do if they decide they can give us a fight,” Honnrieg held up a hand and opened and closed it, then stomped a foot on the deck, “Remember that they could have five times the bodies we’ve got, maybe more. We’ve got more machine guns than we know what to do with, and flame projectors would discourage them even more, but these are hard men we’re talking about. Even Bat Company wouldn’t take on so many if they managed to get even half of their boys up to our positions to fight in close quarters combat. There’s a reason the Mountaineers didn’t stick and fight with the Imperials in those mountains for long; the minute the Kaiser’s men figured out where they were being attacked from, if the Altossians decided to stick around, they would have been dead meat. Even though we’ve got better fire rates than three shots a minute, it’d be tempting fate if we stuck around for too long. You can’t discount dumb bandit tenacity.”>If they do that, I’ll give permission to retreat. I don’t think they’ve got the balls to try, but if they do, I’d rather keep our losses at minimal to nothing, even if we have to pull back.>What could they really do in an uphill fight against what we’ve got? I’m thinking they’ll run anywhere but towards out meat grinder. If they actually try it, that’s their loss and our gain. Let them paint the slopes red with their dead for all I care.>I’m not planning on this battle last that long. We’ll touch off the bombs, hit them as hard as we can, extract any hostages we can, then disappear. We don’t need to exterminate them at the moment.>Other?
>>1731855>>If they do that, I’ll give permission to retreat. I don’t think they’ve got the balls to try, but if they do, I’d rather keep our losses at minimal to nothing, even if we have to pull back.The terrain offers plenty of potential fighting positions and each group will be in radio contact and remain flexible; if one position is threatened, the force there will fall back and another group will orient to cover them and fire on the enemy as they overrun the position. As long as the enemy doesn't manage to overrun all of our positions at once we'll be able to bleed them among the hills. They're only mercenaries, not die-hard zealouts, and they'll be disoriented and have no idea who they're even fighting or why. Hopefully they'll surrender once they realize the difficulty of their situation rather than fight bitterly to the death.
>>1732053I'll go with this.
>If they do that, I’ll give permission to retreat. I don’t think they’ve got the balls to try, but if they do, I’d rather keep our losses at minimal to nothing, even if we have to pull back. >TEMPORARILYWe have to remember that if we lose, even if we just retreat to fight another day the town will suffer for our actions. So we can't retreat far, or we have to keep some kind of contact going so they don't relax enough to revenge on the townsfolk. We need to stay their problem until they run or die.Best case is we bloody them so badly they rout back into the mountains without their tanks or heavy guns. Maybe even chase them lightly to make them think we are here to destroy them.Even with a way for them to escape their first instinct will probably be to get off the road by any means, even running towards the shooters.It really comes down to how well we surprise them and how much we destroy in the first couple of minutes. Focus on making our first shots COUNT. More demo charges? Timed avalanches when they charge up the hill? Route all fire on the front of the enemy column to encourage them to fall back? I don't know.
>>1732196Shit, Hilda will become very important here. If they have any kind of leader holding them together or directing them she nip that problem in the bud and they might quickly lose cohesion.
“If they do that, I’ll give permission to retreat.” You said to the Captain, “I don’t think they’ve got the balls to try, but if they do, as long as we maneuver correctly, our losses should be minimal to none, even if we have to leave our positions.”“What maneuvering is that?”“Simple,” you said, “Concentration of fire. As long as we can keep those bastards’ potential advance uneven, we can bleed them gradually. By concentrating both squads’ fire on singular parts of the enemy advance, we can keep them from overrunning all of our positions. We’ll have control over the battlefield, and they’ll never be able to advance without coming under fire.”Captain Honnrieg nodded to himself. “I have been having reserve positions worked on…a few quick drills while we wait should have us well prepared.” Honnrieg looked over your most recent plan again, “So the car will be kept in reserve, then. Safe move. What about the girl?”“Hilda?” You asked, “I’m not really certain what to do with her. I can’t put her in a trench like everyone else; aside from being improper, her experience isn’t built for line battles. I was thinking of having her as a watch, at best.”“I had a few ideas on that,” Honnrieg pointed out on the plans, “As you said, I wouldn’t put her in the meat grinder. Could say we don’t have the numbers to be picky about we throw in, but the boys are a chivalrous sort. Chopped to bits as she is, nobody’d hesitate to throw themselves in front of a bullet for a woman. They think that’s admirable, but it’s sure as hell not beneficial to our plans here. So I was thinking of a couple of things, both hinging on the fact that she’s out of place among us.”“Out of place?” You echoed, “How so?”“A couple of reasons,” Honnrieg put a hand on his chest. When you made a face, Honnrieg scolded you. “Not those two reasons, dick for brains. Although partially. They don’t know she’s with us, and since she’s a woman, they’d never guess. We have options that let her go far ahead without them being suspicious.”
“Tell me them, then.” You said inquisitively, “I’m interested.”“Option one is this. The girl has an aversion to killing people. Not uncommon when you aren’t trained for it, but she shouldn’t have a problem helping do it indirectly. It’s not the sympathy for them, you see, it’s something deeper. I’ve seen it before, and if you want her at peak capability, we can put her back…here, with one of the anti-tank rifles and have her immobilize any vehicles trying to make an escape. The road’s large enough for small vehicles to move around each other. May as well have another layer of prevention there.”Honnrieg pointed to a position opposite of the former. “This might be less reliable, but it’ll do a hell of a lot more damage. She’s got excellent optics for that rifle of hers; don’t know how she would have afforded them, really. I suppose she’s really invested in her work. Doesn’t matter. We put her here, towards their front, and have her look for officers. Anybody ordering people around, shouting, pointing, and we have her blast them. Since we’ll be attacking from the south, if we put her a bit north, she can catch them even if they get into cover. If they start losing leadership, their coordination will go from bad to even worse. These people operate on machismo and making sure everybody knows you’re in the zone; when nobody is taking the lead, they fall to pieces like a vase onto a stone floor. They don’t tend to encourage individual leadership either, to strengthen their own positions.”Both were appealing choices, although perhaps it was best not to involve her, for her own safety? It wasn’t like she wasn’t useful outside of such things, and you guessed it wouldn’t wound her pride…>Have her take up a position to immobilize any retreating vehicles. If they abandon all their vehicles, that’ll destroy any opportunity for them to catch up with you, and reduce the power of their clan as a whole.>Have her take up a position to snipe their leadership. She won’t be used to it, but maybe you could do something to help her motivation? After all, if their bosses die, perhaps the less charismatic would scatter to the winds…>Have Hilda sit this one out. There’s no need to ask her to do anything.>Other?
>>1732504>>Have her take up a position to immobilize any retreating vehicles. If they abandon all their vehicles, that’ll destroy any opportunity for them to catch up with you, and reduce the power of their clan as a whole.Might as well put her to work knocking out vehicles. Plus, she could get lucky and knock out an officer or two with a fuel tank or ammo hit...
>>1732504>Have her take up a position to immobilize any retreating vehicles. If they abandon all their vehicles, that’ll destroy any opportunity for them to catch up with you, and reduce the power of their clan as a whole.She also can immobilize the hostage vehicle without blowing it up.>Choose the best marksman of the Bat Company, give him Hilda's rifle (or just the optics) and have him on the officer sniping post
>>1732596Supporting this. At least we can put the rifle to use
>>1732596That's probably the best of both worlds, supporting.
“I prefer the former plan,” you decided upon the ‘safer’ option, “We don’t need to kill all of them, but if we destroy all their vehicles they really aren’t a threat any more regardless of how many are alive afterwards. We’ll do both plans, though. We’ll have whichever man of yours is the best shot do the sniping plan you suggested. I’ll just need her to give up her gun and its ‘fancy optic.””Honnrieg snorted. “Hah. Good luck with that. She won’t even let anybody touch it, let alone take it away.”“I’m sure I can reason with her.”-----You found Hilda once more; apparently she hadn’t been expecting your return so quickly; she had donned her jacket once more.“Ah…” she was caught off guard, “What do you…you want something.”“I do,” you had brought a simplistic copy of the area map with you, “I have work for you. It’s time for you to put that smidgen of education concerning anti-tank rifle use to…use.”Hilda nodded, blank faced. “Okay. Where you do you want me.”“I want you up here,” you pointed to the western slopes from the ambush point, “Once we spring the ambush, we might not cut off their rear escape entirely. What I want you to do is take that rifle and aim for immobilizing shots. Destroying or damaging the treads, the wheels. I want their only way forward to be blocked off. That’ll force them to abandon their vehicles if they want to survive.”“Simple.” Hilda’s lack of expression could not hide a hint of confidence.“I’m also going to need your rifle.”“What.”You would have been fine with just the scope, but her scope was definitely zeroed for her rifle. You’d have to get it re-zeroed even if you could remount it; and shooting frivolously wouldn’t be a good way of keeping the possibility of an ambush far and away from the minds of your enemies.“I’m not planning on having you get into any fights you can’t run from, or shooting any people,” you said, “So I’m going to take your gun and give it to the best shot in Bat Company. He’ll be using it to snipe from the other side of you, to the east.”“I...no.” Hilda clung to her rifle indecisively, unslinging it from her shoulder, “I can’t. This gun’s...important. I can’t trust anybody with it. I don’t want to lose it. Couldn’t I just be the one shooting people. You don’t have to worry about me messing up again.”>No backtalk. Hand the gun over; nothing will happen to it.>If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you. As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.>It would mean a lot to me if you let me have your gun. It’d be a big favor, in fact. And you know you can trust me with your things. I won’t let anything happen to anything important to you. (Really laying it on thick here)>Other?
>>1733543>>It would mean a lot to me if you let me have your gun. It’d be a big favor, in fact. And you know you can trust me with your things. I won’t let anything happen to anything important to you. (Really laying it on thick here)
>>1733543>If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you. As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.
>If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you. As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.
>>1733543>If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you. As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.>Other?"That rifle is going to take lives to save others. We need it to keep our friends safe, to keep you and me safe. It's crucial, important. There can't be any doubts anymore."I have a feeling it will distract her and make her shots worse if we take it away as well.
Anybody know where I can find panzer commander quest #'s 1-10 they aren't on the archive as far as I can see
>>1733637https://4archive.org/board/qst/thread/381934here's the first threadThis website has em'
>>1733543>>If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you. As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.
Alright, I'm back. Writing.>>1733637A link to a pastebin contained archive links to past threads is in the first part of every thread, the archives before 10 aren't in Suptg, but they are listed below the Suptg links.
“If you say you can do it, I’ll believe you.” You said to Hilda, who clung to her rifle even more tightly, “As long as you don’t have any second thoughts about killing a man.”“I’ve never killed a person,” Hilda murmured, “But what choice do I have. If there’s a first time for it, there’s no one better than…them.”You put a hand on Hilda’s shoulder, which she hardly noticed. “That rifle is going to take lives to save others. We need it to keep our friends safe, to keep you and me safe. It’s crucial, important. There can’t be any doubts anymore.”Hilda hesitantly slid your hand off of her shoulder. “There won’t be. Who do you want me to kill?”Perhaps a bit more on the nose than you would have thought she’d have said it, but satisfactory nevertheless. “When they come, and we kick off our attack, there’ll be people pointing, shouting, and trying to get control over the situation. Those peoples’ names are on your bullets. Your role is to maximize confusion by attacking any strong points directly.”“So kill the leaders.” Hilda translated.“Well, yes. But for the stated reasons.”“And you want me up here?” Hilda pointed on the map.“Yes.”“I’ll go up and look around, then.” Hilda slung her rifle back, before looking at your neck, and reaching out to touch your throat. “…Why’re you wearing my necklace so low. It’s fallen down into your shirt.”“Does it matter?” You asked cluelessly, “Does it not work right unless it’s choking me?”Hilda looked like she had quite something to say about that, but she turned and started leaving rather than speaking more than a short answer. “No. It doesn’t matter.”Interrupted so took me longer
“Belay that plan,” you told Captain Honnrieg, “We’re going with the latter instead after all. Did you want to put the anti-tank rifleman out back like we discussed?”“Nah,” Honnrieg said, “I’d rather have all my men and weapons on the line. If we can give each squad a heavy rifle, then we’ll do it. The whole point of her being over there anyways was because she wouldn’t look like she was with us until it was too late. A girl walking around is a lot less suspicious than a man walking around, long bag or no.”“Alright, so are we all set, more or less?”“More or less,” the superior officer agreed, “If we had a more definite time of when they were coming, that would be fantastic. As is, we’re just waiting with an itchy finger on the trigger.”The more time the better, anyways, you thought. Well, to a certain point.The mountains dipped into darkness, and the lamps in the town were dutifully lit before the sun departed to leave the stars in its place. Sleep shifts were established without any interference from you; as good, trained soldiers of Strossvald were wont to do. Arrangements for food, the Captain told you, had been arranged between him and the Ranger garrison; there would be no feasts, but you would at least be fed, albeit in return for payment but significantly less than would be normal. Which was good, because even paltry meals added up in cost when feeding over fifty people.Uncertainty plagued you has you rolled a bit of blackflower in your fingers before popping it into your mouth. The Blood Suns probably had bedded down for the night now; it had been some hours since night had come even in the lengthening days of fall, and the mountain paths were even more treacherous than usual in darkness combined with the fog. Still though, you wondered, how many nights would it be before they came? If they took too long, the anticipation alone would be the most maddening itch that you could never scratch at.
You were asleep before you knew it, and you woke up on your own. Despite any worries you had, the Blood Suns had not arrived in the night. The morning outside was grey, the birds sang a lovely tune, and-WFHWAPA newspaper hit you in the face.“Rise and shine, bean sprout,” Honnrieg called out to you, “We’ve got a big day of hurry up and wait ahead of us.”“The newspaper?” you asked Honnrieg drowsily, “I’d have preferred tea…”“Valsteners of all sorts hate tea, so you’re out of luck. There’s coffee if you want it.”You grumbled in some abyssal unlanguage about what sort of people would possibly not have tea, let alone hate it so much to shun even keeping it for guests.“It’ll be in the café with biscuits. Tell them you’re with the rangers and they’ll get it out for you. There’s…interesting news on the radio in there, too.”>The newspaper and radio are full of all sorts of happenings. What do you want to look for? (Write in)>The only news you’re interested is in whether or not the Blood Suns are here. >You don’t really care about what could be in the paper, but you may as well grab coffee and breakfast. For all the waiting you’re set to do.>Other actions, things you want to do?
>>1734188>The newspaper and radio are full of all sorts of happenings. What do you want to look for? (Write in)How are people taking the war between Strossvald/Valsten?Official Strossvald word about hostage situationEast Valsten/West Valsten going to war?>Other actions, things you want to do?Test radio with scout partySee current status of defensive works/demo chargesCheck in with officers/tank crew
>>1734233supporting Can we hear how the war is going perchance? I imagine Strossvald is winning so how badly is Valsten losing?
There were sections to the Informed Morgenhaffer, of course, but you could reliably skip certain sections such as economy, and…hm.Actually, most of the paper was taken up with war. War on the border, war in Strossvald, war between Netilland and Ellowie (the last was hardly a surprise; Ellowie was at war with one, if not more, of its neighbors more often than not, and not because it in itself was warlike). You looked at the section that concerned Strossvald. Shocking Development in War by Archduchy upon Western Imperialists!Prime Minister Vouldt supports northern neighbor’s move to cull concerning rise in militarization.Well, Valsten had been undergoing military restructuring after their defeat in 1930. Really, it was only to be expected, but it was still an angle of attack for the opposing press to make.Archduchy General Von Harkfeld has come under fire for allegedly authorizing the use of chemical weapons upon civilian targets. Von Harkfeld has denied this accusation, but it under investigation regardless.“We regret that this irresponsible use of anti-fortification weaponry against civilian targets was made. Rest assured, we shall get to the bottom of this case, for the sake of our own dignity as well as the suffering of our lowland rivals, despite our differences,” the Archducal Council stated in a press conference yesterday concerning the event.Strossvald’s war with the Third Republic of Valsten has been raging for four days hence. Unprepared for the northern attack, the Valsten Army of the Republic has been unable to stop the advance of the Archduchy, and analysts believe that they will capitulate within one week, at the current rate of advance. This will be a great boon to our own soldiers, who have begun fighting to reclaim our rightful territory just two days past, and have been encountering great difficulties.
Great difficulties? That did not bode well. You turned to the section on the war concerning East Valsten.Disaster in the Demilitarized Territories!This really did not bode well.Despite a press blackout initiated by the military, it has been leaked to various journalists that a vast portion of the initial invasion force of our Union of Free Valstener States, the Federal Army of Valstener States, has been cut off from the rest of the line.It is thought that, after the 3rd and 5th Corps crossed the Bergblutz river, infiltrator units and spies set off explosives on major bridges and railways that were either undiscovered, or prepared after the crossings of the Corps; varying accounts that support either possibility. This move is preventing large formations from retreating quickly, it is said, as a massive spearhead assault has divided both corps from each other, and threatens to completely encircle both formations by linking up with swimming armored vehicles that made a simultaneous breakthrough on the flanks of the 3rd and 5th. When asked for comment, Field Marshall Elden refused to speak with our interviewers. However, a statement by the Prime Minister Vouldt has claimed that “Efforts are in motion to relieve our forces, and launch a decisive counterattack. Do not panic, as this predicament, while severe, is only momentary.Experts from other countries that we have spoken to have stated that it is indeed time to panic, however, this move is said to be “risky,” as the crucial elements of the encirclement, the flanking units and the spearhead, are relatively thin, and in danger of being cut off themselves. Strossvalder Analyst Edward Von Neubaum has said that “Whomever is in command of the Republic’s armies in their east is quite daring and brash, but quick thinking enough to apparently outwit his opponents despite the riskiness of his ploy…now that there has been time to react to it, all depends upon the Union’s generals to commit their forces wisely and prevent their weak points from behind exploited. However, given that so much has been made public about this battle…I daresay that the Republic Army may know too much about their cousins’ plans and disposition for any move to be safely made other than to dig in and attempt to repair the crossings that are trapping them… Rather morbidly, an advertisement for military life insurance was placed directly below the article.>More to follow
You looked for any statement on the hostages you had been sent after, but found none. Presumably, the IO was keeping that tightly under wraps, despite Selgess’s statement to the whole city about it.You remembered the Mayor’s comments about several days ago. What was the date today, you wondered? A question worth asking in the café proper. From what you could tell, this paper was from a day or more ago. Understandable given that this was a mountain community and this was likely a paper from a source in the capital, Morgenhafen, but perhaps you could get more up to date, if not necessarily relevant, news from a more local source.You stepped into the café, which was attached to the inn, and asked for coffee and biscuits.“…three Union Huns.”Huns? Presumably the lady at the counter meant pfennings. No matter, you had copper change…in Western currency.“Will this work?” you asked, placing a few pieces on the deck.“We get enough people coming from tha Dee Em Zee that we take it,” the maid said, although she didn’t seem pleased that she had to deal with foreign currency, “Might not be that way fah long depending on how this wah goes.”
“About that,” you leaned over as the café lady poured a short mug of coffee that was so dark and full of grounds that it may as well have been asphalt, “When did that thing start? I’ve been losing track of time, lately, I couldn’t even tell you what day it was…”“October 23rd,” the lady said, “tha war started about five days ago.”“You can’t be serious.”“Why would I not be?” your server replied haughtily when she slid the cup before you, accompanied by a pair of finger length shortbread biscuits, “I don’t like tha cold any more than you do, mista, but when wintah comes, wintah comes. You just hope tha snow don’t freeze yeh to tha ground.”That was about four more days than you recalled spending in those Judge forsaken mountains. On the other hand…the Blood Suns were still behind you, so did it matter that much?“So do you have any papers more recent than this?” you asked, pointing to the paper you had just gone through. The radio was gabbing in the background, but you weren’t paying much attention to it at the moment.“Informed Morgenhaffah? Nah, we only get that twice a week ah so. Mostah what we get is fah the east, and the nawth. Look on tha rack.”You took your meager fixings aside the table closest to the referred rack, and looked over them. The press blackout, by hook or crook, must have come back into effect. The only headlines concerning wars were as lacking in detail as could be expected; save for a headliner from Strossvald saying that decisive evidence had been found for the case against Von Harkfeld.You’d heard a few things about General Von Harkfeld, but nothing bad. He was something of an old guard; and rather against new developments, but besides a distrust for innovation he was a decent tactical mind, and certainly one who adhered to common principles of decency. Hardly one who would be expected to use chemical weaponry at all, let alone deliberately against a civilian target.>More to follow; off to dinner. Any other focuses for investigation and/or additions to the former decision can be done til next update, when I get back, maybe it around an hour or so.
>>1734973Have we sent Emma and the car ahead to scout yet?
>>1735015That's been done since before nightfall the last night.
>>1734973Listen to the radio
Not finding much among the local papers that interested you, you settled down to listen to the radio’s fuzzy chattering.Few appeared to be up and about this morning. Presumably, this was a rather lazy town, used to drawing its business from those who passed through and stayed the night; perhaps on their way to the bath resort you passed earlier? The café itself, now that you bothered to look around properly, was a rather large establishment, its dark hardwood halls and bars clearly meant to hold more than even the inn’s potential occupants. It was about the size of a large diner, but it was only staffed by the woman at the counter and a child currently; from the other’s age, either the woman’s son or another townsperson’s. Only two other people shared the place with you. One was a man dressed in a long greatcoat, wearing a hat with a wide brim, and the other was a bleary eyed backpacker who looked like he’d just climbed up the mountain-and probably had. Souvenirs and keepsakes from seemingly all over decorated the walls; probably things that were bartered in return for supplies, or room and board.“This morning, good news from the war!” chirped the radio from behind; you turned around in interest. ”A squadron of 1st Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Tchansk, engaged and routed a western incursion late last night, sinking a destroyer and a patrol vessel with his Fortress Vessel VUS Gallant. A promising start to naval operations!“But what of the war on the land?” you found yourself asking softly to yourself, sipping at the coffee. It was the vilest thing you could do to your tongue short of licking a dirty stove, although Signy would have probably liked it. You were too set on the radio to care too much.”From the frontlines to the west…” You perked back up again, ”Our brave forces continue to hold out, despite their entrapment behind enemy lines in the once-called Demilitarized Zone. A counterattack to free the trapped Corps from the pocket is underway, but we have been told very little else…As expected, really. However, any general who could think would know that the first thing an encircled unit would try to do is break out, and that any commander would attempt to free encircled units from the outside as well as inside. If the Valsten…West Valsten…damn, it was confusing for the two countries to refer to themselves by the same name…Republic Valstener general, had the talent to cause this predicament, he probably wouldn’t be defeated by any rudimentary attempts at reversing the fortunes of both sides.
Instead of sipping at the cup of sludge, you poured too much into your mouth, and in shock from the heat, ended up spilling some of the red hot gunk into your lap. It splattered onto your thigh; a close call. Your crotch had been under far too much assault lately; too much being if it was attacked exactly once.”The Archduchy has pledged its support for our Prime Minister in the war, yet our reporters note that the Archduchy’s troops nearest to the region where our borders and the west meet, have been idle. Could this mean that the Archduke has no confidence in our armies? Could it be a clever ruse? Could it be a sign that perhaps our northern allies are not as trustworthy as they purport? More news after the weather…”Classic of them to try and redirect blame, although you couldn’t blame them. Anything could be justified to prevent the people from losing faith in their rulers; the only thing worse than a ruler failing, was inciting their subjects to revolution; the mechanism of which states could potentially destroy themselves.Indeed, Strossvald had been refounded because of a revolution, but that had been during a time where there were few enemies but the Reich, and the Reich had been feeble…in these times, enemies were everywhere, and all of them were powerful…You finished your poison and stuffed your biscuits into your mouth before leaving. It was time to check on your men.“Feeling better?” The captain asked mockingly when he saw your rather unpleasant mood from having had your country railed against while drinking a terrible waste of water.“I’m feeling better about the fact that I’m not in East Valsten’s army. Well, the ones on the border. I suppose the rangers are still alright.”“They underestimated their enemy,” Honnrieg looked down while closing his eyes and smirking, putting a half palm up in front of him, “They thought the confusion up above would distract their enemies from the fight to their side. They were wrong, and now they’re paying the price for thinking their enemies would simply fall before them.”“Won’t happen to us, at least.”“It would be embarrassing if it did.” Honnrieg agreed, “You had a message come for you while you were out. Something the scouts reported…not the Blood Suns, no, I’d have come to get you if it was them, don’t look so agitated. They said they saw a funny looking person coming up the road, dressed all strange. I didn’t think much of it, but they felt it was important to report the traffic.”>People are allowed to pass by on our road if they aren’t Sosaldtian scum. He’s fine, I’m going to check on the troops with my own eyes.>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.>Have him seized and interrogated. He may have seen our mutual friends on his way here.>Other?
>>1735804>>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.
>>1735804Let's go ask a few questions. No need to detain him for long, but see if he has seen our Blood Sun friends or any news from westwards.
>>1735804>>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.Even if it isnt our guy Papa P, we might aswell ask him what the conditions further in the mountain are like.
>>1735852Specifically how riled up the Stone Crabs are and whatnot.It'd be pretty hilarious if the Stone Crabs had eaten all of the blood suns. And possibly Maddy to
>>1735804>>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.GET JORGEN ON THE HORN AND GET EMMA AWAY FROM HIM.Embers(?) are killed by wizards right? Can't risk it, can't risk it at all.
>>1734783Well, shit.Strossvald and West Valsten were in cahoots from the start.This was all a ruse to lure East Valsten into a trap.Hold on to your hypnosis, Richter.>>1735804>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.
>>1736368>Hold on to your hypnosis, Richter.When it turns out that Maddy wasn't kidnapped by the Blood Suns but was taken by the Intelligence office and shipped back home
>>1736543Oh. What a day that would be.
>>1736543We should've defected to the Reich when we had the chance.
>>1737101Imperial scum isn't welcomed here, REEEEEStrossvald stands resolutely the riechs imperialism. Valsten attacked first, it's all a false flag, long live the Archduke!
>>1737494Against* the reichs imperialism>>1735804It's probably just one of those cultist we met coming up the mountain, if it was papa p he would of just blinked next to us right?>A strangely dressed person? Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.
“A strangely dressed person?” you echoed, “Hold on, I think I might have to deal with him.”“So you want them seized.”“No, no,” you told Honnrieg, waving your hands back and forth, “No, they’re coming down the road, so I’ll just meet them halfway. If you tell anybody to do anything, tell them to keep hidden.” Upon further thought, you added, “Relay to the scout team that my crewman needs to…can the ghost.”“Is that supposed to be a metaphor?”“No…yes. He’ll understand.”
You stood and waited at the bend in the road just before the town; if you were in any real danger, your troops would likely see it and be able to render aid. How much aid they could render would be subjective depending upon who your visitor was, though; you’d met enough strangely dressed people for it to not be a certainty as to who it was. You would look rather silly, admittedly, if the person coming was not anybody you’d met.The path was just as misty as before, and a soft wind whistled through the pass. It was a bright morning; despite the sun likely not having risen too far, the light was caught and distributed evenly by the clouds over the speckled grey stones and dew laden scrub, making the surrounding light even and utterly devoid of shadows for uncertainty to creep inside of.The figure who approached out of the mists turned out to be quite recognizable; his youthful stride, flowing, ragged sleeves, and odd whisker-like decorations told of the arrival of the Riverman.“Stranger,” the familiar-too voice said, “I have not met you, but I would like to bid you good day. If only I returned with good news for your hosts and mine home…”The Riverman got close enough to recognize you, and squinted at you in disbelief.“Out of all the people I expected to see here,” the soulbinder said after much deliberation, “You were quite possibly the very last. What could you possibly be doing here?”“If I told you I’d have to kill you.” You said like a smartass. Although, if the Riverman seriously expected a genuine answer to that, he would have had to have been quite an idiot.Indeed, his reaction was that of somebody who knew they deserved the answer they got. “I suppose I should not have expected anything less of one of the Archduchy’s thugs. I do demand an answer to this, however.”“The coffee is shit.”The Riverman ignored your attempts at stupid humor, and laid a hand out. For a moment, you thought you saw shimmering threads spring tautly from it. “Did you kill anything while coming through here?”“A goat.”“…” the Riverman stared into your eyes thoughtfully, “…no, I doubt you or your band would be so rash and moronic as to desecrate the only fauna here that is spoken reverently about.”
“I’ve had quite enough of hearing baseless accusations from you,” you said with restraint, “It seems that every time we meet you’ve come up with a new crime to pin on me. I can tell you who’s actually ruffling your feathers.”“No need. It was either you or the Blood Suns, and the character of the latter is much more prone to this…disrespect.” The Riverman sighed huffily, “The Mountain Empress has been slain, and her eggs stolen. The Living Stones are in uproar.”“Mountain Empress? I think one of those ate one of my trucks.”The Riverman looked at you quizzically. “Your…ah. I was wondering about that. No, that was the Prince you made such a curious tribute to.”So that meant that the huge crab that ate your rations and the carrier vehicle wasn’t even the biggest crab in the range. The former Empress must have been ludicrously colossal, yet not so much that the Blood Suns hadn’t managed to kill it anyways. You felt like it was worth asking just who decided the royal hierarchy of large crustaceans, but decided against wasting time with too many pointless questions.
“I was going to stop by this town on my way back to the land of bandits,” the Riverman continued his voice a low rumble, “I will advise you against perpetrating any mischief here. This place is under my protection, and if you deign to cause it any-““Enough with the threats for things we haven’t even done. I’m well and truly sick of them.” You cut off the Riverman sharply, “We haven’t done anything wrong in your precious town.”“Not yet,” the Riverman held up a finger, “I thought you would not do anything wrong in Salzbrucke, yet look at what happened there. I’ve learned to keep a close eye upon your sort; any benevolent or neutral acts could merely be the prelude to something deeper and much less harmless. I have seen far, far too much that you do and have that cannot be explained away by innocent coincidence.”“What are you doing here, anyways?” You tried to get this conversation moving on from useless hypothesizing to something that had a point to it.“I’ll only answer that when you say what you are doing here.”>I’m not telling you anything. You’re one to talk of suspicion, when you’re the most suspicious person most people could ever meet. A magician who worked with brigands, and is on his way back to whence they came. You call yourself the River, but the name Eel seems more appropriate.>I don’t feel like talking to you anymore. I’ll leave you alone, and you leave me alone. Alright?>You caught me. We’ve been hired to assassinate the Blood Suns by the Kingdom of Crabs, to avenge her Crustiness. If you want to stick around and watch, I’m sure it will be quite a show.>Enough of this bickering. If you stopped wasting time attacking me and actually worked with me, we’d both be able to get much more done. I don’t know how you magic people feel about working with us puny humans, but the least you could do is hear how we could both benefit.>I wasn’t aware you were in any position to be making demands. I’m going to kick your ass and beat the answers I want out of you. (Attack)>Other?
>>1737659As much as I want to kick his ass he's probably well prepared to kick ours.If he's pissed off at the Blood Suns then we both can be pissed off at the Blood Suns. I don't see why he'd interfere in stopping the people who killed the Empress. Or at least the bandits that belong to the same hierarchy.But we absolutely must not tell him about our overall mission. We still don't know if he helped procure the hostages.I doubt we can hide too much from him though, all he has to do is look at the logo on our tanks to know we have something to do with the Blood Suns and he already knows we are their enemies.>You caught me. We’ve been hired to assassinate the Blood Suns by the Kingdom of Crabs, to avenge her Crustiness. If you want to stick around and watch, I’m sure it will be quite a show.>Other?Modifying this:>You’re one to talk of suspicion, when you’re the most suspicious person most people could ever meet. A magician who worked with brigands, and is on his way back to whence they came.Ask him why he's going to the land of the bandits. He can't possibly be their ally. Riiiiiiight?
>>1737659>>You caught me. We’ve been hired to assassinate the Blood Suns by the Kingdom of Crabs, to avenge her Crustiness. You could even help, if you'd like, assuming you care about people other than me causing mischief as much as your constant whining suggests.
You shrugged slowly and deliberately, raising your hands to the height of your shoulders, “You caught me. We’ve been hired to assassinate the Blood Suns by the Crab Empire, to avenge her Crustiness. You could even help, if you’d like, assuming you care about people other than me causing mischief as much as your constant whining suggests.”The Riverman wrinkled his nose and curled his lip. “What a lot of low-witted sarcasm to say not much as all. Do you think that I would…say that again?”“We’re planning to ambush the Blood Suns and beat the hell out of them. They have some people that we want back from them, and we’re going to take them. Is that a problem?”The Riverman hooked his little finger in the corner of his mouth and made a contemplative sound. “…No. I do not care what you do with them. A drastic escalation of what you did before coming here, though. Why?”“I don’t like my wife seeing other men.”“Crude as usual.” The Riverman scoffed. You felt a little force pull at your necklace, and you noticed Hilda’s charm rise out of your jacket, suspended by a flickering, almost invisible thread. “Where have I seen this before..?”“You are the wrong sex and not nearly cute enough to be permitted to reach into my clothes,” you snapped, grabbing the tooth on the cord back, “I am willing to be diplomatic but only if you approach me as an equal instead of some specimen to be poked at.”“I cannot be expected to suspend all of my suspicion of you simply because our preferences suddenly align,” the Riverman said defensively.“You’re one to talk of suspicion,” you said with restrained offense, “when you’re the most suspicious person most people could ever meet. A mysterious magician who uses a bizarre title in place of his name, who worked with bloodthirsty mercenary brigands, and who is now on his way back to whence they came from, a country known the world over as a place of lawlessness and a marketplace of the foulest contraband! Who are you, really, and why are you going to a place most would never willingly return to?”
The Riverman returned his finger to his lip and chewed on a nail, thinking deeply of how to answer you.“Well?”“I cannot tell you precisely why I am in this circumstance.” The soulbinder said after you prompted him, “I can tell you that I owe a fantastic sum to a villainous sort in the Southern Cities. You have heard of them, I presume.”“I’ve never heard of somebody conning a wizard,” you said, not meaning the statement to be mocking but the Riverman recoiled at is anyways, “I thought magicians were more in the business of tricking others.”“This was before I came by my…talents. There are two ways to become what I am. One is to be taught, to be taken on as an apprentice by one who has bound their essence. Another is to discover it without aid, either by a combination of experimentation and accident. I came by my power the latter way.”“You got magical powers by accident?” you asked, as was once genuine curiosity turned into a particular shade of wondering what ridiculousity this man would say next.“It is more complex than that, and near impossible to explain to one who does not have their soul bound.” The Riverman said dismissively, noticing how your expression was changing, “How I came about it does not matter. What matters is that, before I had them, I found myself owing a large, nigh unpayable, sum of money to a powerful person.”“How did you get this debt, though?”“Gambling.”“…”>Roll 1D100 to attempt to not start laughing, roll under 30 to succeed
Rolled 37 (1d100)>>1738385>>Roll 1D100 to attempt to not start laughing, roll under 30 to succeedImpossible.
“…pfft.”“What are you laughing at?” the Riverman demanded, “It was for a noble cause!”“Snrt. A wizard with gambling debts. Pffhe he he he heh” Your face was making the most ridiculous feeling contortions to not burst out laughing any harder. It must have looked even more ridiculous to the Riverman, who was steadily getting angrier, which was making you laugh more.“Stop,” you gasped, “Stop, no, you can’t be serious.”“I am entirely serious!” the Riverman insisted, growing more frustrated, “It was the only way to get the money needed!...Stop snickering and listen to me! And stop making those faces when you look at me!”“No please, continue,” your voice went higher at the end trying to keep yourself from cackling.“I had gone on an adventure of sorts…if you won’t stop laughing at me, I won’t tell you my story.”“Impossible. I can’t.”“…Whatever. I went on a journey, to see the world, to the only place that I thought would take me. To Sosaldt, to Edelstein, the glittering harbor city, to see what happened outside of my little home. There, I met a pitiful man, who guided me, and kept me safe from those who prey upon outsiders and the less knowledgeable. He was in a dire state, however…and I could help him.”“You got tricked.”“Let me finish. He was once a merchant, whose ship had run afoul of pirates, and owed the difference of the shipment to one of the city’s syndicates. He couldn’t hope to pay it off himself, but he had a plan to rig a gambling match. All he needed was somebody to carry out the plan for him, since he himself wasn’t trusted. Needless to say, the plan didn’t work. As a result of me being the one to take out the loan in his name and bet it…I owed three times the loan’s worth to the house, as well as what I owed to the loan sharks themselves. I could not pay…so I became a servant of the syndicate. Three years later, I stood before an arrogant noble of Strossvald while he laughed at my misfortune.”>Laugh harder>I pity you, I really do…snrk. No, that’s awful. My sympathies. So I suppose you’ll be on your way to keep paying that off, huh?>How much do you owe? I might be able to…mitigate your costs.>Other?
>>1738459>>I pity you, I really do…snrk. No, that’s awful. My sympathies. So I suppose you’ll be on your way to keep paying that off, huh?
>>1738385>Roll 1D100 to attempt to not start laughingDon't even need to roll, I willingly failed it over here.>>1738459>How much do you owe? I might be able to…mitigate your costs.It sounds he's going to tell us how he ripped the Strossvald Noble a new one so we may want to wait till the end.
>>1738459>just because I managed to avoid being scammed into a massive gambling debt doesn't make me arrogant, but I appreciate you sharing your story. At any rate, I have an ambush to get to planning, so if you don't want to join us in avenging Her Crustacean Majesty then I'll be on my way.
>>1738459>>Other?Excuse ourselves to laugh even harder.Ask why he can't simply magic himself away if he has those powers now.What happened to the merchant?>>1738530Support.
“…a moment.” You coaxed yourself into a more polite composure after taking a few paces away from the Riverman, who fumed impotently while you got your giggles out.After that, you went back with your hands shoved deep in your pockets, pulling your face into a stern frown. “Ahem. I must say, just because I managed to not be scammed into a massive gambling debt, doesn’t make me arrogant, but I do appreciate you sharing your story. Can you not just…magic away that debt or the circumstances now, though?”“I am unsure as to whether you are trying to be flattering or sarcastic,” the Riverman murmured, “But no. I may be, admittedly, individually powerful, the syndicates have ways of dealing with those who are mighty on their own. I have not shared my identity with you, for example, so you cannot strike at any place that could truly harm me. Such is not the case with the syndicates, my debt holders.”“Ah.”“I have people who I want to protect, Strossvalder. Just as you do. My greatest foe is one too mighty to assail, too vast to escape from. An uncaring ghoul surrounded by the gnawed corpses of the foolish and weak.”“And the tragically gullible,” you added, “What happened to the merchant?”
“He attempted to flee when the gambling trick failed.” The Riverman said lowly, “A year later, after I found these powers, I was given the task of tracking him down…he had repeated his earlier attempt at saving himself. It took work, but I managed to find him, cowering in a hideout which had already sold him out.”“So he’s quite dead, presumably.”The Riverman scowled. “Of course not. Corpses are simple to find in Sosaldt. I aided him in exiling himself from the country forever, and I made the body of one who had passed on some other way look the part of his own body.”“And they were fooled by that?” you asked.The Riverman held up his hand again, and threads flickered to it before a sparking aura appeared over his hand. “Presence, if applied in the right ways, does ugly work to the human form.” He closed his hand and the sparking ceased, “I’m sure I hardly need to explain further.”“At any rate,” you said, leaning back forward after having flinched back at the relatively innocent display of supernatural strength, “I have an ambush to get to planning, so if you don’t want to join us in avenging her crusty majesty, then I’ll get to that and you can get to…whatever you were doing.”“Your lack of reverence for such a serious matter is telling,” The Riverman sighed hopelessly and scratched his forehead, “Although I suppose it cannot be helped. While I would take a sort of guilty pleasure in joining your…festivities, the clans under the Blood Suns are backers of my…employer. Thus, I cannot attack them or assist in any attack upon them.”>Alright. The crabs cry out in pain for your lack of compassion, but be on your way.>Haven’t you heard? These people are going back to decide on leadership because of their boss dying. What if these guys want to cut ties to the Blood Suns and go back to being Death Heads? Wouldn’t that void their protection? If you know what I’m saying?>How much do you owe? I can void whatever deal that’s restraining you, I have the resources.>Other?
>>1738749>>Haven’t you heard? These people are going back to decide on leadership because of their boss dying. What if these guys want to cut ties to the Blood Suns and go back to being Death Heads? Wouldn’t that void their protection? If you know what I’m saying?
>>1738749>>Haven’t you heard? These people are going back to decide on leadership because of their boss dying. What if these guys want to cut ties to the Blood Suns and go back to being Death Heads? Wouldn’t that void their protection? If you know what I’m saying?>How much do you owe?I don't want to give way that we have the financial means to aid him until we actually know we can. Getting him suspicious about why we have so many resources this far away from home when he still technically works for the enemy would be very bad.It is good to know that he holds no special love for them like he does for West Valsten though.
“Haven’t you heard?” you attempted to be upbeat, “These people are going back to decide on who’s in charge because of their boss mysteriously perishing in a motorcycle accident. What if these guys want to cut ties to the Blood Suns and go back to being Death Heads? Wouldn’t that void their protection? If you know what I’m saying.”The Riverman shut his eyes halfway and glared at you. “I don’t know how you know they were called the Death Heads…”“Obviously we had a discussion about it.”“…regardless, that would be quite the bluff, and we would need to slaughter them to a man for it to truly work. I find that distasteful, and unlikely to end in my favor. It is not that I have any love for these men or their gang, but I do not believe you can protect my loved ones from those who would not appreciate my part in this action.” The Riverman folded his arms and looked away.Well, you figured that that might not have worked. Perhaps, though…“How much do you owe?” you asked baldly.The Riverman’s eyes flicked to you. “There is no way that you could possibly pay it.”“Humor me.”“As to what I have left…Twelve thousand Union Marks.”“Twelve thousands…!” you let out an ungentlemanly cough, and the Riverman looked both frustrated and embarrassed, “From gambling debts!?”“As I said, I was to try and gamble what was a maximized loan from an illicit moneylender, at an event that was…shady. The potential winnings were massive, as were the losses that were incurred.”“And you expected to pay this off how?” you wiped sweat off of your forehead that had appeared at the mention of the money involved.“Very slowly. At the current rate, because of my employer’s usual rates for jobs…I would pay it off in thirty to thirty five years, perhaps more.”There was probably twelve thousand Union Marks worth of gold in your war chest, truth be told. You weren’t sure how many bricks it would take; perhaps thirty or forty? Was it worth the investment?>You’re right, I couldn’t even hope to pay that. Well, best of luck, then,>Hold your horses. I’m buying you. All ten thousand stupid marks of your magical dumb ass.>Maybe you won’t help us kill your employer’s boys, but can you help us with anything else? For payment, of course, if you like. (Write in)>Other?
>>1738971>>You’re right, I couldn’t even hope to pay that. Well, best of luck, then.He's not even a very good wizard.
>>1738971>>Maybe you won’t help us kill your employer’s boys, but can you help us with anything else? For payment, of course, if you like. (Write in)Intel, charms, protection. Evacuating people from combat zones and the like. Can he use glamour on us?What does he normally do? What does he specialize in?>>1738990But he's a wizard!
>>1738971>>Other?Your right I couldnt hope to pay for all of that, however I can help you out if you help me out.Where are the Death Heads, im sure you must have passed them or know where they are. Whats in their convoy and who leads them.
>>1738971>Maybe you won’t help us kill your employer’s boys, but can you help us with anything else? For payment, of course, if you like.I'm interested in pearls of power. And translations of mystical symbols. For reasons.
>>1739200I'd be surprised if he knew anything about those, considering he is self taught.Actually how did he even know about poltergiest
>>1739425>Actually how did he even know about poltergiestThat's what prompted me to ask those questions.
>>1738971>Maybe you won’t help us kill your employer’s boys, but can you help us with anything else? For payment, of course, if you like. (Write in)What other anons have said is great just make sure when asks how we got this gold that we say we looted it from Selgess. I don't think he'd steal the case from us, but desperation drives people to do crazy things.Like rip up our commission, gallivant across enemy lines, court Crustacean Royalty, time travel bullshit and plan an ambush against five times our numbers. This also has the added benefit of letting Eelboy know that if he works with us in the future he can end his debt that much faster. By YEARS.Although whenever the war with West Valsten starts up again I doubt he'd fight with us against his people.
“Alright,” the gears in your head turn over, the clockwork of potential being manufactured and slotted into the mechanisms of your mind on the fly, “what if I offered payment for other services? You stay out of our scuffle, but you help us with other things. That wouldn’t break any deals, would it?”The Riverman had to give some thought to that one, weighing on one foot, then the other, before saying “What kind of payment?”“Sell yourself. What can you do? I don’t know what your magic can do.”“…ask me if I can do certain acts, and I will tell you.”“I don’t know,” you circled the Riverman, looking up and down at him, “Can you…what’s a mystical sounding way to say it…’fool the senses?’”“No.”“Make people bulletproof?”“No, again.”“Transform into a bat and fly away?”“I see that your understanding of the usage of one’s Presence is extremely limited, to say the least.” The Riverman said with an underlining of hopelessness. “It is not something that simply does anything you wish it to.”“That’s what it seems to do as far as I can see.”“Perhaps for spirits, but not for us.” The Riverman corrected you, “Creatures of presence are developed to manipulate themselves in special ways. We are creatures of flesh and blood, and manipulate presence relatively crudely, in ways familiar to us. We manipulate it as we would manipulate a physical object, despite it being no such things. It is a limitation of our form. With proper skill and concentration one can use physical forces to imitate what may seem impossible, but with a clever enough eye, it is clear that the actions taken are that of a hand, albeit an unseen one.”
“We’re getting somewhere now,” you said, tapping your heel, then your toe against the ground, “So it’s like a fire or something.”“You know what electricity is?...Don’t look at me like I am an idiot, many people don’t know what it is. It works more like that; currents of varying energy, that are directed through pathways both natural and created. Like electricity, too, it can be very helpful, as well as harmful. Electricity that passes through a lightbulb causes it to emit light, while lightning passing through a man will kill him. The most simplistic use of Presence is such; conversion of its energy to another; light, heat, and such. It may be changed to energy of movement, as well, and used to lift objects, or impose force upon them. Skilled binders of soul can adjust their presence to be enough like another’s, that they can meld with them and have the presence of others act upon their bodies in a way the person being acted upon would never be able to do otherwise.”“Like healing them?”“Yes.” The Riverman nodded, “Or knitting your natural auras into a defensive barrier against presence’s ability to convert energy near or upon you. The latter is an extremely difficult thing to do. Healing is difficult, but understandably appealing to learn.” The Riverman made what appeared to be thin threads appear in his hand, “These are the conduits of presence that we manipulate to enact what you basely call ‘magic.’ Shamefully, I must admit that application of presence in a relatively forceful manner is the limit of my abilities as of now. If you wanted me to heal a person, for example, I would have to force the person’s presence to accept the invasion of my own, to imitate the process my presence enacts to heal my own body when it is injured; a painful and potentially damaging process for those who are not myself.”
“Don’t you have a specialty?” you asked hopefully. “Some secret ability or whatever?”“I work odd jobs for the syndicates,” The Riverman said with mock boredom, “I am sure you can figure out my specialties on your own, but I will entertain you nevertheless. I place marks upon people, of all sorts. I also have tuned my forceful applications to cancel the motive force behind physical strikes, and that of projectiles, with concentration, although with the latter it is often simpler to simply move what direction the weapon firing said projectile is pointing, so long as I am close enough…the syndicate usually prefers close work, in cities and buildings.”“Nothing you’ll actually use to help me though, presumably.” You said glumly.“Not that I specialize in, no.”“I suppose I’ll just ask you more questions then.”“Oh, please, not more of those.” The Riverman said as flatly as possible. For some reason, you found the sarcasm inordinately irritating. Was this what it felt like to talk to you?Well, the Riverman was somebody who deserved to be irritated, at least.“Did you pass by the Death Heads on your way here?” you asked.“Unlike you and your ungainly metal boxes, I am not restricted to the road,” the Riverman said with an air of superiority, “I take the paths as they were meant to be taken, away from the misleading illusions and mists of the pass which a road was built through, without respect for what happens in these seasons, in these peaks. So no, I would not have possibly seen them.”
It was worth asking at least, you thought to yourself. “You say you’re self-taught?” you continued, “How do you know about certain things, then? Like Poltergeist.”“I have met with other Soulbinders, as well as wandering acolytes,” the Riverman said as if this should have been obvious, “All know of Poltergeist. He is infamous, because of the mystery of who he is, as well as his power. Any soulbinders of his strength have a history, an origin. Poltergeist does not. He simply appeared.”It sounded as though how you and Poltergeist met was basically how he interacted with everybody. Some masked weirdo in robes popping out of nowhere and demanding something for very little apparent reason, who you really couldn’t tell was benevolent or malicious.“Alright,” you nodded to yourself, “How about…’the ancient language of the mountains,’ do you know any of that?”“I know a few phrases.”“The written form, I meant.”“The written form of the language is long dead. Only soulbinders and elders in the mountains still use it. Naturally, I have no knowledge of it.” The Riverman looked skyward while his lips pulled tight across his face, “So unless you want to know the phrases for asking where the privy is, or you need to tell a mountain girl that you like the width of her hips, then I know little.”“You can’t just say that last thing and not tell me the story.” You steeled yourself against the assault upon you that would be the comedy that was the Riverman’s life.“I was told that they appreciate being told that very much by another soulbinder. A common insecurity, they said. I tried saying it to an acolyte I wished to know better.”You couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow and smirk, “Presumably this young lady could not help but swoon when you praised the breadth of her buttocks.”“She struck me across the face and said something that I was told was to the effect of telling me to take my head out of my rear end before talking about anybody else’s.”
“You have a real problem with gullibility.” You observed, wondering at how many other times the Riverman must have been fooled by obvious tricks before evolving into his current paranoid persona.“I became acutely aware, trust me.” The Riverman said, only somewhat seeming to take offense.“One more thing. Do you know anything about Radiant Pearls?” If he could slip where you could find more, it would be an incredible benefit to fuel the protective power of your tank’s horrifying spirit armor.“They are rare enough that even those as we place great value on them.” The Riverman said, “We use them as a sort of currency, even, when dealing with things such as captive spirits and artifacts. They often appear when certain spirits are…exorcised. They also grow in colonies such as those of Earth Pearls, stony spirits that gather in places of spiritual strength; safe ones, not places like Salzbrucke that are crawling with presence predators. Also, certain spirits produce them after consuming enough presence; they create them as a reservoir, of sorts; since Radiant Pearls are a stable and unchanging source of spiritual energy.”“I see.”“Now,” the Riverman said, adjusting his clothing, “Unless you wanted anything more of me, I would like to go and visit my home once more before leaving.”>I’ve got a few things I’ll pay you to do. (Write in)>No, sorry, I’m not sure what I’d do with you anyways. Have fun.>I have more questions for you. (Write in)>Other?
>>1740099>Last question: have you ever been at a sort of hilltop in a sea of nothing, with a hut on it?
>>1740099>I’ve got a few things I’ll pay you to do. (Write in)>I remember you've marked the girl with creatures for eyes? Is it still there? Do you know where she is now?>Could you retrieve her?I'd only say ask this with the support of other anons because it might tip him off what our mission is. He'll clearly understand why we're attacking this Blood Suns convoy if she is with them currently but if he tracks her to their home base he might know our purpose.
>>1740358That's a good idea actually, why didn't I think of that. We should do it.
“A last question,” you wondered if your most odd of experiences was within the Riverman’s knowledge, “Have you ever been to a…sort of hilltop in a sea of nothing, with a hut on it?”“I presume that is not meant to be a philosophical question,” the Riverman said, with a look of cluelessness, “In which case I certainly haven’t.”“Just curious. So actually, I may have a few things I’ll pay you to do.”The Riverman gave you his full attention once more. “What things? How much pay?”“We’ll see depending on how you do. You put a mark on…the girl with creatures for eyes, yes?”“You told me in the past that she was your fiancée already.” The Riverman said, “Although you now call her your wife. In any case, yes. She is still marked.”“Do you know where she is?” you got more excited, “Can you retrieve her?”“That…is not how marks work. Particularly not the sort she has,” the Riverman backed away from you as you advanced on him, “I could only place a simple one from the range I placed it, and I saw no need to strengthen it. I can see her as if she is a beacon, from afar, as long as she is in the open, and if she is close enough I can feel it, but a mark does not imbue me with knowledge of where she is.”“If I…say, told you to go and get her, though…”“I’d need an idea of where she might be.” The Riverman seemed to grow tired of standing, and seated himself on a flat rock; notably checking around its base first. “Despite me having worked with the Death Heads, I did not make myself more familiar with their operation than absolutely necessary. I do not know where their home base is, for example; we all embarked from the south, from the Blood Suns Headquarters.”“Say if she was with the guys lost in the mountains right now, though.”“You’d ask me to purposely go into the Wander,” the Riverman said darkly, “I may be acquainted with these mountains, but that would require an extra incentive on top of what you plan to give me.”
“How do you know they’re in…whatever the Wander is?” you asked.“You said they were lost. Around here, in these times, that means they’re in the Wander.” The Riverman shrugged. “They’ll probably come out the other side. They are strong enough and in enough numbers to survive. The danger is mostly for smaller groups, not hundreds like they are.” The Riverman noticed you were still somewhat lost. “Ah. The Wander is…a land of illusions that purport to be a part of the real lands. Time itself is distorted in such a place, and the only safe and normal path where one cannot be lost among time in some capacity, is the Priests’ Trail, that passes through the ancient temple town in the mountains. You can do as you probably did, and follow the real trail without being fooled by the Wander, but even then, since you are not on the sanctified path, you would be somewhat lost in time still, as you likely found out upon arriving here.”>Neat. Listen, I want you to go into the Wander and bring me back some girls. There’s probably two of them; one you know, the other some random girl they picked up on the road. I’ll pay in gold.>I want you to go to a place in Sosaldt called Todesfelsen that’s where the Death Heads come from. (Write in what to do)>I want you to (do something not listed; write in)>That’s nice. I suppose I can’t find a use for you after all. Say hi to your mother for me, heaven knows you don’t have any other female acquaintances.>Other?
Hm, I'm not sure it's worth it to have him do anything. It sounds like he wants a lot of gold for this, and even if he rescues Maddy we would still need to get rid of the mercenaries, so all it would really be accomplishing is ensuring her safety beforehand, which I don't think is a huge priority since we should be able to have Emma find out where in the convoy she is so we can avoid shooting her.
>>1740856>HundredsPANICPart of me wants to have him wait here with us, and when the bandits pop out swoop and rescue the girls while they are distracted with us.On the other hand if he goes in there and takes the hostages they may be on their guard when they leave the mountains. They might not, or Riverman might go in and get lost. Or or Maddy isn't even in there so we are paying him for nothing. I don't even know what we'd use him for in the Todesfelsen base. But I also feel like purchasing his services is a good idea.
>>1740856>>Neat. Listen, I want you to go into the Wander and bring me back some girls. There’s probably two of them; one you know, the other some random girl they picked up on the road. I’ll pay in gold.
>>1740932Why are you panicking? It was stated last thread that they were atleast 20 times our strength with unknown vehicles at atleast 2 companies.
>>1741516depends on how fucked they got from the crabs
>>1741795What if the crabs have only made them stronger?>They've strapped the crabs thick carapace over their tanks to transport trophies. acting as pseudo-ablative armor plates>We hit the vehicle carrying the eggs and the crabs go after us>The hills were on are dormant crabs that awaken when the convoy passes and fucks over everyone and the town
>>1740856>Neat. Listen, I want you to go into the Wander and bring me back some girls. There’s probably two of them; one you know, the other some random girl they picked up on the road. I’ll pay in gold.
“Neat.” You said dismissively, since you really weren’t planning on crossing these mountains in these conditions again…well, ever. “I want you to go into this ‘Wander’ and bring me back some girls from the Death Heads. Rescue them, rather. There’s probably two of them; one you know, the other some random girl they picked up on the road.”“We still have not discussed-“ The Riverman finally managed to butt in after repeated attempts to edge a word in, but what you said next shut him up.“I’ll pay in gold.”The Soulbinder opened his mouth, then close it, then hooked his thumb into his mouth and thought.“How much.”“We can negotiate when you return. One hundred grams for one, we’ll say…Five hundred grams for the other.”“I accept.”“…those words aren’t binding,” you added not soon enough, “If for some reason I lower those rates, though, there’ll be a reason.”Perhaps you were throwing far too much gold around for this, from the perspective of a much thriftier person, but you felt it important to give the Riverman proper motivation.“Still, I shall go.” The Riverman said with unease, yet determination. From under his clothes, you heard a straining, stretching noise, like the sound of thick ropes being stretched. The noise persisted as the Riverman stretched his arms out, and ceased as he let his arms fall slowly to his sides.“I will return. Ahead, or maybe behind your enemies.” The Riverman said, “Obviously I would prefer the former, but if doing so is not safe…”“This isn’t a very safe task in the first place.”“I am a Soulbinder, nobleman of the north.” The Riverman said sternly, “I must remind you that mortal methods of taking life simply do not work for long upon us. My safety requires no concern. My concern is for those you hold dear.”“Yeah. Well,” you scoffed and looked elsewhere, “That’s sweet of you but I’d rather you show instead of tell.”When you looked back, though, the Riverman wasn’t there.
Depite what the Riverman said about trying to return “before” the Blood Suns, that still gave no indicator for when they were supposed to arrive with any sort of precision, besides the hope that he would indeed return before, instead of after, like he said was a possibility.You supposed that, if the mountains in these mists were like he said, estimating a time would have been worthless anyways. That didn’t change that you yourself would have preferred to not linger any longer than necessary.When you inspected the positions, you found everything to be satisfactory. Multiple positions had been messily dug, the rough earth hewn apart and piled up, with sprouts already growing on the newly minted hills that had been made. The ground was also ripped up by the tracks of tank treads, which were never friendly to any ground they went over. You spied a few strange cutouts of man shaped silhouettes, propped up on sticks about five meters in front of the trench. Distance indicators, perhaps?
The first day was tense preparation. The second was anticipation. After the second day, the anticipation had worn out its welcome, and now, throughout the ranks, came grumbling of boredom.After two days of waiting, you were getting rather uneasy, on top of the irritating sense of idleness you shared with your charges. You’d have been wary of the possibility that the Blood Suns wouldn’t come at all the night of the day the Riverman had left. After waking up the next morning from that, you reconciled that the Riverman would at least come back at some point, which was only shut down that evening by hypothesizing about the nature of the strange ways time worked while journeying in these mountains. If the Blood Suns had gotten lost, after all, even if the Riverman knew how to find them (which he seemed to indicate he could, but still) he would still be affected from his time having strayed from the “Priests’ Path,” whatever that was.After a night of worrying about that, you woke up once more on the third morning you’d witnessed at this Judge forsaken village.The stress was getting to you, and you hadn’t sought help. Your command post had gotten quite lonely, as even though you had spoken to your crew, and Von Neuebaum who was their current caretaker, you still woke up and fell asleep alone, only accompanied by whatever new surprise the Captain decided to rouse you with before going to check on positions.The news had similarly been uninspiring. Press blackouts had begun to well and truly roll in, and the dark clouds that obscured even the faintest truths of what was happening had rolled in thick. It only took a day for the radio, and the newspapers, to merely repeat themselves on what was happening with wars anywhere.Being idle in peace was a relief. Being idle during a war, however, turned out to be maddening.You had to find some way to ease yourself.>Think of some way to occupy yourself, be it socialization or some other thing. Just something to put your mind to that isn’t this damnable waiting. (Write in)>This pain is the price of vigilance. Losing this wariness is not worth it, even if it’s straining. (Get on with it)>Other?I'm probably not going to be at my computer any more today, or at least not til it's very late, so this should be the only update for a while. I'll be back proper on Sunday.
>>1743408>Busy ourselves with trying to find a boyfriend for Hilda:>-Strike a conversation with Von Metzeler.>-Deftly lead it towards scars.>-Surreptiously ask if he would consider a scarred girl attractive.
>>1743408>>Think of some way to occupy yourself, be it socialization or some other thing. Just something to put your mind to that isn’t this damnable waiting. (Write in)
>>1743408>Think of some way to occupy yourself, be it socialization or some other thing. Just something to put your mind to that isn’t this damnable waiting. (Write in)>Regret that we didn't bring any "history" books with us.>Try and setup Von Metzeler and Hilda for the final time.
>>1743408Go into town and find a bar to have a few drinks to take the edge off.
>>1743720For the final time? We only tried once before. I find your lack of fighting spirit disturbing.
>>1743720 Let's do it.
>>1743408>>Think of some way to occupy yourself, be it socialization or some other thing. Just something to put your mind to that isn’t this damnable waiting. (Write in)Let's check up on our crew and see how they're holding out.
>>1743408>>Think of some way to occupy yourself, be it socialization or some other thing. Just something to put your mind to that isn’t this damnable waiting. (Write in)We should talk to Emma, ask her what she's seen. If the crabs are really agitated and after the Death Heads, knowing where the crabs are moving and how agitated they are could give us a better sign of their approach.
Alright I'm back.Writing. Although for what's coming up...I might have to spend some time making a few things.
>>1747533Amendment to this, just spend about an hour fucking around with my tablet to get it to work.I'll have something out within the hour.
>>1747827>"I'll have something out within the hour."
>>1748115>implying time is linear
>>1748115Sorry.Anyways this is for half of the things. The other half of the inputs will come after this.-----You thought of a few things, as you downed a shot of the revolting local bean brew. You weren’t sure what was worse, that you were beginning to rely on that sludge to awaken properly, or if you were actually beginning to get used to the taste…The local news actually had something interesting to say, concerning the weather. Evidently, in a few days, the fog would clear away, and normal mountain road traffic could resume. You weren’t sure what would happen if the fog cleared while people weren’t technically on the path; for better or worse, the Blood Suns would have to arrive within the next few days, or the day after the fog went away. If they didn’t, they were as good as gone, as far as you were concerned.You made your daily trip to what would, at some point, be the “front lines,” but didn’t stop at the prepared positions at first. Instead, you went ahead to the team looking out for the arrival of the Sosaldtians. Normally any updates would be relayed to you by their radio, but you had to speak to somebody who, for all you knew, couldn’t even use a radio.You had to look harder than you thought for the position the scouts had set up in to find it, despite knowing where it was on a map. It was quite a well-made position; the forward watch had clearly taken the time to improve upon their post in the time given. Most likely it was an action taken against the looming threat of inaction more than any enemy threat, though. It was difficult to see even on the slope itself as you were; from down on the pass’s road, the position would have been as good as invisible.Stones that formed shallow walls had been covered on the outside angles by broken soil and plants, and a pair of bushes that obscured the earthwork had disturbances in the soil around them that indicated that they had been moved fairly recently. The radio that linked the forward observers with the rest of their allies had been enshrined in a half-shelter formed from branches woven together, the antennae sticking up through. An attempt to build a tunnel was visible in the side of the trench, but the effort made was clearly minimal.You found Jorgen, your stray loader that you had sent off with three men of Bat Company, and he saluted you.“All klarrup hiere,” he said in his Old-Nauk corrupted talk.“As expected,” you said grumpily, “Where’s the ghost?”“Went downroud at wakeup. Be bek in…maybe a feeu meneds.”So you stayed for a few minutes until Emma would come back. Jorgen told you that, while the climate and surroundings weren’t bad to look at, what him and the others agonized over the most concerned what was happening back home. You shared what little you could, but it was clear that what small tidbits the news had offered wasn’t very satisfactory to your Yaegir comrade.
When Emma came back, and you dismissed Jorgen, you took her aside.She had some choice words on the way.“I would rather your goon not so brusquely can me every night,” she complained at you, “I don’t need to sleep, so I certainly don’t need to be put to bed.”“Your light keeps him awake,” you theorized, “Or maybe you talk too much. Either way, I’m sure you can tolerate it. You said that you sort of sleep anyways, it’s not like you spend however long just doing nothing.”“That’s what the men here complain about all the time, though. Just doing nothing.”“I’m as frustrated by the tardiness of our enemies as anybody in our group, dear. Now I need to know some things from you.” As Emma remained attentively quiet, you began to rattle off what you wanted information on. “The crabs. Have you seen any?”“No. I haven’t seen anything, except for the weirdo from a couple days ago.”“Nothing?” you repeated, “You can’t have seen or heard nothing. How far have you been going ahead?”“All the way to where it starts getting weird again.” Emma said in reply, “There’s nothing. What do you want? Should I make up something interesting instead?”“No.” you said with annoyance, “If there’s nothing, then there’s nothing. Hmph.”“Everybody’s getting all short lately,” Emma complained more, “Why? You’re not fighting, what’s there to be mad about?”You didn’t really feel like explaining that, so you just said your partings and left with the disappointment of nothing worthwhile happening.-----You had seen your crew at least a couple times each day, but that was only for routine inspections. When you went to speak with them proper, they had plenty to say to you.“What’s the word on these Blood Suns?” Stein asked, “This place gives me the creeps. I’ve been feeling out of sorts since we got here. It’s haunted, I swear.”“I wish they’d hurry up and get here so we can kill them,” Hans said irritably, hanging halfway out of the turret and leaning on the edge, “The longer I wait the less pity I’m feeling for them having to die.”“Maybe chasing skirts would help you feel better,” Stein suggested, “Find somebody else’s sister to seduce for once.”Hans made a dismissive raspberry, and blew his hair out of his face. “Chase who, hm? Certainly not Scarface, she’s not blessed us with her presence, not that she’s got more than two positive qualities.”“Her social nature and her stunning sense of self confidence, presumably.” You muttered.
Hans just squinted at you. “That’s the funniest name for titties I’ve ever heard, boss.”“I’m not…whatever.”“But no,” Hans went on, encouraged by talking about women, “See, Stein, I know you don’t know much about living girls because you’re too set on the attention of dead ones, but let me tell you about East Valsten girls. A lot of them’ve got colonial blood, you see, East Valsten’s full of people who came back from the colonies. I don’t want to risk getting any South Sea Cock Rot from whatever weird shit they’ve got as a family disease. It’s for safety’s sake, see.”“You don’t like brown girls?” Stein poked at Hans verbally.“There ain’t any brown colonials left, dummy. They’re all either bred out or dead of pox. The only brown people left are all over south of the Caelus, and they aren’t so much brown as they are so black they may as well be purple. Not that they come over here, anyways. So scared of the Great Gales and getting stranded from home that they always ship out sooner than they came.”“How are their girls, though?” Stein continued to tease Hans, “I’d think they’re the only ones you’re interested in.”“If you meet anybody who’s met a black girl then tell me. For all I know they don’t exist and the blackies rise out of tar pits.”“So how has Malachi been?” you changed the subject. “I’ve seen more than a few green haired girls.”“How’ve you been!?” Hans shouted back down into the tank. A gruff response came back. “Not talkative, as you can probably tell.” Hans smirked. “Who knows why.”You could only shrug back. “How is Von Neubaum?”“He went to talk with your tightass in chief,” Hans said, likely referring to Lieutenant Von Metzeler, “Guy’s the most boring person to ever talk to. Doesn’t want to talk about anything we want to, and he never talks about anything we want to hear. Stein, tell the boss what Commander Boring said when I asked him what he thought about mountain girls’ fat asses.”“He supported my opinion that you should try being less crude when talking about the locals.” Stein said, looking at you and rolling his eyes surreptitiously. “He isn’t boring, he just knows more than Hans does about things Hans thinks he knows everything about.”“Anyways,” Hans made a face at Stein, “What’s the ETA on when those Bastard Suns get here? I’m gonna go insane if we stay much longer in these mountains. Stein’ll probably get possessed, and Mal will think he’s back home and stop even attempting to speak New Nauk.”>In a few days, the fog clears. If they’re not there by then, we’re leaving, but I expect them to come by then.>We stay until they come, for better or worse. I don’t know when that’ll be, so get used to this place.>I can understand if you’re getting sick of staying in battle positions. If you want, I’ll let crews rotate to visit the town.>Other?
>>1748274In a few days the fog clears. I'll take a car up to see what could have kept them, or if their even still alive up there. but we need this fog so they don't spot our ambush, so expect to move out when it clears.
>>1748274>>In a few days, the fog clears. If they’re not there by then, we’re leaving, but I expect them to come by then.It's hard to stay focused but we need to be ready as soon as we hear word. The first few minutes of this battle are going to determine whether we succeed or fail.
>>1748274>>In a few days, the fog clears. If they’re not there by then, we’re leaving, but I expect them to come by then.
“In a few days, the fog will clear.” You told your crew, “It’s hard to stay focused in this, I know, but we need to be ready as soon as we get the word. This coming battle will be decided in the first few minutes.”“A three day wait for a five minute ride,” Hans snickered.“If they don’t come by the time the fog’s gone,” you continued, not heeding the crude humor, “then we’re out of here. I’ll take a few people to see if anything happened to out targets, but this fog is what’s making this ambush a sure kill instead of a forlorn hope. If it clears and they’re still ready to fight and coming here, we’re moving.”“Alright,” Hans shifted over and leaned precariously into open air, bobbing back and forth, “I’ll try not to develop a clot in my asscheeks.”“Will you be fighting with us, Commander?” Stein asked.“Probably not,” you answered your gunner, and he deflated somewhat. “Von Neubaum seems plenty competent. Trust him like you’d trust me.”Although perhaps your words would mean more if the “Armor of Fate” that protected your tank could be guaranteed to act against any threats. Ah, well, by your reckoning, the coming enemies wouldn’t be able to fire upon you with any of their most threatening weapons anyways.You bid your companions farewell for then.-----Something that had been bothering you too, over these past few days, was just what you would do with your sharpshooter, Hilda. Her actions near you had been…questionable, and not very considerate of your current arrangements concerning marriage. Normal conversations concerning mundane status reports and concerns about potential difficulties, after the first day, had a tendency to suddenly turn to you without you realizing. You didn’t mind talking about your family history; especially since Hilda seemed genuinely interested, but the more Hilda found out about you the less subtle her actions became; the way she acted around you was becoming, in a barely perceivable way, more comfortable.Not the sort of comfort that you wanted to promote, though.
Perhaps if you were more of a rake, you would take advantage of this, but you considered yourself as part of a class that didn’t play with the hearts of women frivolously while you were as good as married. Taking mistresses was not too uncommon, not that any were ever open about it, but you were wary of doing it for a few reasons.One was, of course, that it would shatter Maddalyn’s heart, and you considered yourself more of a gentleman than to do that, especially so early in your relationship. The next biggest concern was, of course, that it would offend the Von Blums greatly. Barnabas Von Blum, being a territorial lord, had a vast amount of power at his fingertips; power you’d rather stand by instead of provoking.The issue of blood was also a factor. Perhaps Hilda did not realize the importance of bloodlines, being a commoner from so far south, where the Strossvalder Nobility’s hold was looser, but a nobleman was expected to take a noble wife. Bastards had with commoners were disinherited from any rights of nobility or possessions, after all, and quite a few bastard lines still recalled where they came from. Encouraging intermarriage with common lines? Why, that would provoke conflict all over the country as bastard families tried to lay claim to a birthright they could now claim they were entitled to a part of. Usually, nobility who had loved one of lesser blood had either kept it a secret, or had eloped to another country, where the obligations of class meant far less.There was a case, however, where blood mattered far less than it did to old families such as yours. Such was the case with bought titles, and titles newly bequeathed.Titles such as those that the Von Metzelers held.So you approached Von Metzeler, who was dutifully discussing something with Von Neubaum.
“The enlisted men are growing tired of the waiting,” Von Neubaum said with the cadence of one who had only just woken up, “I don’t think they’re feeling mutinous, really. Not in the slightest. If you ask me, they’re going to get careless.”“Let them gamble, let them socialize with other crews,” Von Metzeler said, arms stiff at his sides, “As long as we are all kept close, they can distract themselves and no orders will be being broken. Ah, Lieutenant.” Von Metzeler saluted. Von Neubaum looked over his shoulder, and lazily saluted without turning his body.“Junior Lieutenant Von Neubaum,” you eyed your seemingly slothful officer, “Go ahead and return to your tank. I must discuss something with the Lieutenant.”“Hmm.” Von Neubaum trudged back past you.“What is it, Lieutenant?” Von Metzeler asked, hands behind his back.You eyed him. Strong jaw, broad chest, cleanly shaved…what did women fancy in men? The first two, at least, you figured…
“Just a few minor things,” you said nonchalantly, touching the gashes on the edge of your face, “A somewhat personal matter, really. Considering that I am hoping to rescue my future wife, I have to wonder what she will think of these, if they become scars. They’ve been hurting somewhat, and I fear that they may not have been healing properly…”They hadn’t been hurting at all, but that wasn’t the point of this conversation.Von Metzeler seemed uncertain, as if your question had been the last thing he expected to be talking about. “Well, Lieutenant, from what I have observed…I do not think that your wife to be would…care?”“If you’re certain,” you said, even though Von Metzeler sounded anything but, “So you don’t think scars hurt appearances?”“It would depend on the person-““What do you think, though.”“I think that scars are a sign of a storied past, and never something to be ashamed of.” Von Metzeler declared. He seemed as if he was leaving out more specific details, but he kept his mouth closed.“Even on a woman?”Rondo, son of the Von Metzeler family, suddenly seemed extremely confused. “What do you mean?”“Do you think a scarred girl would be…attractive?”Von Metzeler’s brow contorted, caught in a puzzled tangle. “Are you thinking of…having an affair with the scarred woman? Hilda?”“Me? No, oh no,” you laughed unevenly, “I’m already accounted for, and I like little girls better than scarred ones.” When Von Metzeler looked away while his mouth pulled itself to one side in an awkward frown, you added, "I meant petite."“I am afraid that I am unsure of why you are asking this of me, Von Tracht.” Von Metzeler had let your misspeech fall to the wayside but still did not look at you.>I mean, really, what you said about each scar having a story, doesn’t that make a woman that much more desirable? To feel the coarse literature of their lives as you run your finger down them? To reassure them of their beauty in the face of a society that otherwise shuns what ought to be a positive feature? What do you think?>No reason. Just wondering. How about you come with me to the bar? I need to get a load off my mind. (Get Hilda on the way and weaken the barriers between her and your officer with alcohol)>Look, I need to be real with you. Hilda is gunning it hard for me and I can’t give her what she wants. I don’t care if you’re invested or not, but she needs somebody to want her. Can you help me out? I mean, you’re not set to be married or anything, right?>Other?
>>1749326>>Look, I need to be real with you. Hilda is gunning it hard for me and I can’t give her what she wants. I don’t care if you’re invested or not, but she needs somebody to want her. Can you help me out? I mean, you’re not set to be married or anything, right?
>>1749326>I've seen how you shut down Emma when she talked shit about Hilda. Please be direct with me: do you fancy her?Metzeler seems like someone who wouldn't play with a girl's heart, so the third option won't work. We first need to convince him to go after her seriously.The second option won't work if we wil ldrink together with them, and the first one sounds a bit creepy.
>>1750189To be fair I never wanted to try and setup Metzeler with Hilda. He's a grown boy, he can do so himself if he's inclined.What happened to the anons who were so up for it anyways
>>1750245I'm an anon that was and still is up for it.Also we're not setting up Metzeler with Hilda, we're setting up Hilda with Metzeler.
>>1749326>>Look, I need to be real with you. Hilda is gunning it hard for me and I can’t give her what she wants. I don’t care if you’re invested or not, but she needs somebody to want her. Can you help me out?Better leave out> I mean, you’re not set to be married or anything, right?
>>1749326>Look, I need to be real with you. Hilda is gunning it hard for me and I can’t give her what she wants. I don’t care if you’re invested or not, but she needs somebody to want her. Can you help me out? I mean, you’re not set to be married or anything, right?
“Look,” you leaned in, as if about to share state secrets, “I need to be real with you. The scarred girl, Hilda, is gunning it hard for me, and I can’t give her what she wants.”“What does she want?”“Come on, I think we can both figure out what she wants.” You said irritably.“You are the one who claims to have this problem,” Von Metzeler’s tone was unchanging in its relative unconcern, “Does she want companionship? Or is her interest more physical?”You laughed hollowly. “It doesn’t matter, but that’s a yes sir to both.”“I still do not understand what you want me to do about it.”“I don’t care how invested you get,” you put your hands together and looked at Von Metzeler in his eyes, “but she needs somebody to want her. You can help me with this, right?”Von Metzeler narrowed his eyes and frowned deeply. His eyes were already relatively deeply set and narrow, so his eyes had been reduced to glowering slits. “You want me to court her. Why me..?”Was Von Metzeler offended by your suggestion? For some reason, he seemed to be.“I’ve seen how you disapproved of the way Emma-““Emma?”“The ghost. The floating fireball. Anyways, when she talked shit about Hilda, you gave her a death stare. You at the very least approve of Hilda, it couldn’t be a stretch to fancy her.”“I only thought that the brat was being extremely rude for no reason.” Von Metzeler’s expression did not change, “What if I do not fancy her? What if, Von Tracht, I am married? Or engaged, as you are?”
“I suppose I had hoped that you weren’t.” you admitted. Crap, was he engaged? You hadn’t heard of anybody talking about it. Most families didn’t want to tie themselves to the Von Metzelers, you had certainly heard. “Are you?”Von Metzeler looked indignant. “I have been offered several hands of noble daughters, whose families have fallen into less than ideal financial circumstances. These are women with noble titles, a pair of whom have quite the history indeed. You would have me discard these opportunities, and instead play the part of a peasant woman’s second choice?”“Well…” this was really bad. You hadn’t expected Von Metzeler to have such arrangements. Were there really families so poor that they would associate with such dirty new money?“If I recall correctly,” Von Metzeler added, “You are currently engaged to a fantastically rich daughter, to aid your destitute family, no?”“My family is not destitute,” you protested, getting somewhat heated, “If this is such an offense to you, then I apologize for even-““I will do it.” Von Metzeler stated.“-asking you to…excuse me?”“I will attempt to distract the young woman from her infatuation with you.” Von Metzeler said in more detail, firmly. “Upon one condition.”“Great, great,” you said with a sigh of relief, not particularly caring what the condition was, but asking anyways, “What is the condition?”“I will attempt to court her,” Von Metzeler said, “As sincerely as I can. If she shows absolutely no interest in me, however, I refuse to waste my time. Is that alright?”“I think she’ll prove less resilient to your charm than you think,” you said, only half spewing hot air, “Best of luck, Lieutenant…You don’t have to do it now, but at some point, it would be quite nice.”
After that and a routine inspection of positions and drills (which were turning out nicely, for when the Blood Suns finally arrived), you had one last problem to take care of.The lack of alcohol in your blood.The local bar wasn’t as big as you would have figured. Oh, the sign was certainly gaudy enough, a worn painted wooden hanging thing that showed a line of bottles of varying fullness before a line of mountains, decorating the gaily scribed title “The Mountainside Spring,” but the inside was dusty and dark. It was still quite early, and the sole inhabitant of it, presumably the owner, stared at you with surprise, yet expectancy, with both a real eye and a glass one, his white hair and facial hair standing on end.You made yourself comfortable at the stained, blackened wood counter before him, and leaned heavily forward.“One of the elusive tank men,” the owner marveled in a slightly off accent that you recognized from somewhere; you would say it was like Malachi’s, but Malachi didn’t have an accent so much as an inability to actually speak New Nauk properly. “Your sort can never stay away from here long, I know. So what will it be?”>I just need to wet my whistle. An ale, don’t care what color it is as long as there’s nothing floating in it.>My brains need to be rearranged. Hit me with a glass of the hardest spirits you have.>Do you take requests? Give me something like…(write in)>Other?Sorry for the lack of activity today, was really unmotivated in addition to schedule being inhabited. I'll try to do better tomorrow.
>>1753338>>Do you take requests? Give me something like…(write in)Water>Sorry for the lack of activity today, was really unmotivated in addition to schedule being inhabited. I'll try to do better tomorrow.Its all good man. Post at your own pace to keep the quality up.
>>1753338>>I just need to wet my whistle. An ale, don’t care what color it is as long as there’s nothing floating in it.>>1753368>WaterGet out.
>>1753338>I just need to wet my whistle. An ale, don’t care what color it is as long as there’s nothing floating in it.Nothing stronger, 'cause the Suns can appear at any moment.
>>1753338>I just need to wet my whistle. An ale, don’t care what color it is as long as there’s nothing floating in it.I feel bad taking advantage of our officer status to get hammered when we forbade our men from visiting the town.Can we organize some kind of booze delivery? Nothing very hard and not in enormous quantities, just enough to give everyone one or two good mugs. A good cheer before the battle, whenever that is.
>>1753338>I just need to wet my whistle. An ale, don’t care what color it is as
“I just need to wet my whistle,” you said gruffly, “An ale, don’t care what color it is as long as there’s nothing floating in it.”“You’re in luck then,” the bartender polished a glass and produced a bottle of beer so light it may as well have been apple juice, “All I have until the next shipment comes in is brew so young it thinks Shanties are the new big thing in music. Won’t have anything floating in it unless you want to put dirt in it to make it taste better.”“It’ll have to do.” You reached for the poured glass, the froth spilling into your fingers as you pulled the beer towards you. “What are Shanties?”“Music that sailors sing on ships,” the bartender said, “They’ve brought a new sort over from the east, from Caelus. Musicians protesting government actions stow away on ships, their songs get popular on the boats, and the trend spreads from the ports. I don’t get the appeal.”“Well, I’ve never heard it…” you mused as you sipped at the beer. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the critical tavern owner claimed; it was perfectly acceptable for what it was.“It’s rude, lewd, and twangy. ‘s all you need to know. Some say it’s a ‘development,’ cause the instruments they like use electricity. Seems like futurist madness to me.”“Electric guitars…” you needed another drink for that. “Are those like self-playing pianos?”“No, no, they’re…never mind.” The bartender sulked for a full minute and retreated down the line as if he had something to do, but the lack of other patrons quickly forced him to return.“So,” he resumed, stroking his pointed, white beard, “what do you think of our little town? You’ve certainly stayed in it a while. The rumor mill is certainly turning, not that I expect you to share anything.”
“Well, we’ve mostly been up in the mountains,” you swirled the beer in its glass and watched its foam cascade down the inside of the glass. You’d finished about half of it by now. “Can’t say we can judge properly. I don’t even remember what this place is called.”“Don’t worry, nobody can. Not even the people who built it.” The Old man whistled, “This town’s called Geenam. It’s Zeelen for ‘No Name.’ Nobody knows why it was named that, but nobody on this continent speaks Zeelen any more anyways, except for people old enough to have known people who knew a time before the Grossreich, before Kaiser Alexander.” He then tipped the rest of your bottle into your glass. “The Colonials speak Zeelen, of course. They were sailing south while Czeiss was still a republic and not an Empire. Who knows what’s happening down there now, though, with the Great Gale and all.”“I’m sure you’d prefer if the Southern Great Gale wasn’t up right now,” you said, “I hear the war over west isn’t going too well, and last I heard the Colonials threw in with your Union of Valstener States rather than the Second…Third Republic.”The barkeep let out a hoarse laugh. “Well. Maybe less people would prefer that than you think. You don’t think the Rangers are here just to guide travelers, do you? They’re certainly not afraid of the Archduchy coming in from the north.”“I see…” you slurped down more of the booze, “Can I buy some of your stock? I would rather not be alone in my indulgences.”“Next shipment comes in a day anyways, so alright. How many men you have?”You almost let slip the number, but decided to weigh on the side of caution. “Doesn’t matter. I’ll buy up whatever you’ll let me get. A giant crab ate all our food and other things.”“Of course it did.” The Old Man went along with your statement that would get laughed out of anywhere else, “Wasn’t your bunch that pissed off the Living Stones, was it?” “God, no,” you said with only the slightest dash of offense. “Why would anybody want to aggravate them anyways? Do they taste good?”“If you’ve got a hankering for garbage, they do.” The Old Man said sternly, “They’re full of oils like nothing else that’s from up here. Something they get when they migrate back down underground, I hear from the moss heads. No, there’s a couple things. One is that they’re in the way, and the idjits shoot em. The other is that they found a nest and grabbed the eggs. That’ll piss off all of them, believe it or not, not just whoever’s eggs those are.”“Do the eggs taste good?”“Really got food on the mind, don’t you?”
“I think it’s understandable.” You reminisced over the supplies lost.“I’ve never been dumb enough to try them, but I wouldn’t imagine they are. Probably would want to sell them or some other dumb scam.” The Old Man retrieved the glass you had emptied and set it off to the side. “That won’t get them any crabs, if they want them, though. The eggs crust over a bit after they’re laid, makes them look like rocks. Hard and tough as them too. They’ll develop for a while, and don’t budge until the right weather’s around.”“The fog?” You guessed.“How perceptive of you.” The barkeep washed the glass out, and busily dried it with a cloth as he continued speaking, “People ask about the eggs sometimes, thankfully I’ve heard enough from greenies to tell them not to bother. They don’t hatch anywhere but these mountains. They’ll sleep forever until they’re put back. In short, the Living Stones may as well be mad that something so pointless and stupid was done.”The eggs would surely be exotic, though, and apparently people had asked after them. Would it really be a stretch to presume nobody would want them, as a collection piece even if they would not produce menagerie material? You’d heard of richer nobles maintaining cabinets of curiosity, showcases of the unusual, well crafted, and historically significant that some even opened to the public.“You’re heading to Sosaldt, I presume,” the Old Man said. When he held up another bottle, you waved it down. “I saw some others a month or so back coming up the other way up through here, with the same symbol’s you’ve got on your things, from Sosaldt.”“What about it, if I am?”“You look familiar, is all,” the Old Man said absently, “Like someone who passed through a while ago. Also, I wanted to hear if you’ve seen my grandson. He was traveling with the folks who passed through earlier. He gets all uppity about his “secret identity” or whatever, I tell him nobody cares.”You shrugged, pretending to be more ignorant than you were about what you guessed he was referring to. “What does he look like?”“You’d remember him. Stupid looking face paint, goofy moss head clothes.”>Never met him. I’ll be buying all your stock, now.>Oh, him. Was he always such a bastard?>Maybe. You said I looked like somebody who passed through here a while ago? When?>Other?
>>1755189>>Oh, riverboy comes from around here. Whats his real name?
>>1755189Possible dirt on Eelboy or information on a possible threat?Uhhhh>>Oh, him. Was he always such a bastard?
>>1755264SupportingYou know they say knowing a wizards true name gives you power over them
“Oh, you mean riverboy?” you asked, with a tone that came just short of utter disdain, “He comes from around here?”“So you do know of him,” the Old man stroked his beard thoughtfully, “Yes, Riverman is his silly alter ego. I don’t know why he can’t just introduce himself like a normal person.”“What’s his real name?” you asked. There must have been a deeper reason as to why Soulbinders only used aliases- perhaps some power could be gained over him? If only you had asked Stein what he knew about wizards.“Markus. Don’t call him that, though, he gets angry when people know his name. Like a child.” The Elderly Bartender scoffed and grumbled some more, “Went off to Sosaldt and comes back acting all strange. Whatever happened to him, I wish it didn’t. Somehow he’s even more of an idiot than before.”“Hmm.” You murmured, feigning disinterest, “I’ve heard he’s a bit of a bastard.”“Good heart. Bad brain.” The Old Man rolled his eyes, “You’re a Sosaldtian Mercenary. Can’t blame him for judging a book by its cover, really. No offense.”“None taken.”There was a sudden noise at the door; a rough force slammed it open, and heavy boots began to trod forth. You turned lazily around towards the disturbance.“Hello, Markus.” The Barkeep called grouchily, “What on earth have you drug in?”“Grandfather, I told you not to…call…me…” The Riverman stared at you, speechless, before grunting with suppressed frustration and coming forth once more.You noticed that he was carrying something upon his back; something small, with some wavy scarlet locks of hair visible over his shoulder. You shamefully allowed yourself a small helping of hope.The Riverman noisily dragged a chair from beside a table with his foot, keeping an eye on you the whole time. The chair screeched on the floor, horrible, but eventually it was out enough for the soulbinder to set down his cargo.
You leaned forward to look, and were shocked to see a young girl, wearing a simply white and grey dress, with raggedy brown hair.“But…” you protested against your senses, “I thought I saw…Never mind.” You looked over the girl further, and while she was similarly built to Maddalyn (presumably much younger, though, despite the similarities), not only was her hair different, but you also quickly noticed that she was missing a leg; her right leg terminated in a stump just above where her knee should have been. She was also saying something under her breath, the same thing, over and over again, too quiet for you to hear from the counter.“Stranger, whose name I do not have the honor of knowing,” the Riverman said through grit teeth, “There are things that I have discovered…that we must discuss.” He looked up at his grandfather, “Grandfather, I found this girl in the mountains, lost. Can you not find some food and drink for her?”“Yes, yes,” the old man said hastily, knocking over a few empty bottles in a haste to reach the back room. While he knocked over more things in the back, you stepped closer to the girl. Her hair was over her face, and her whispers were dry and pathetic. “I did not find them all.” Markus the Riverman said in a clear, declarative voice. “I did not find your red headed pet, either, not a sign. When I spoke with them, they claimed that they had split from another part of their group…these men were not men any more. They had strayed far into the Wander, and they were starving, weak.”“Appalling.” You said, although really, these were Sosaldtian scum. The more perished out there, the less you had to fight. A cruel thought, perhaps, but a boon to your plan regardless. “I brought them back, of course,” the Riverman said, “…Although a group who I presume were your soldiers were quite excited and furious about it. They took the group I was escorting into custody.”“Right…” Your focus wasn’t on them, all of a sudden. You thought you heard something strange in the girl’s whispers. “…eat…”Something to eat, she asked? The crabs ate them? What?You examined her shortened leg. The stump had appeared to have healed over somehow; was it old, or was this the Riverman’s doing? You were to find out as you got close enough to hear what the girl was saying.“…eat me…Don’t eat me…Please, please, don’t eat me…don’t eat me…”>Ask the Riverman any further questions?>Go back to your men and find out more about these captives that have been delivered to you.>Try and extract information from the girl>Other?I won't be around tomorrow; I'll be back on Friday, probably. Will update on any changes.
>>1756088They got lost in the Wander, they are starving to death, they ate this girl's leg, FUCK.>Ask Riverman if he knows what happened with the girl's leg.>Assure the girl we won't eat her.>Feed the girl>Try and extract information from the girl
>>1756100I mean, I think we know what happened to her leg.Let's just ask her some questions and then check up with our friends in custody.
>>1756088I think most questions should go to the prisoners but:>Ask the Riverman any further questions?Why did these men split up from the original group?How long in 'time' have they been lost?How have the Living Stones been acting now?Are there other ways off the Wander that could lead the main group to get past us?>Other?Tell the girl her family asked us to look for her and that she's free from the bandits, no one will eat her.>Try and extract information from the girlBut we have to ask if she has seen Maddie, orange hair about her height?After all this we need to talk to those prisoners.
>>1756088>This is a good result, except for the other part of their group. Can you go back in and find them? We will pay you more, of course.Also>Did this group have tanks with them? Are the tanks lost in the wander, or could they be recoverable?
Good news, will be able to update tonight, maybe twice.Bad news, tomorrow'll be like today.I should be back in a place I can update in...hour and a half? Two hours? Will say when writing.Brunette girls have awful luck in this don't they.
>>1757804Yes I am QM and not anon
>>1756088Seconding>>1756568>>1757804>>1757812Dont listen to Reichland psy-ops good citizen of Strossvald. Carry on with you regular day and report to the closest barber shop.
>>1757815I was sort of relieved to find out my local barber was actually a government spook; here I thought he was just a shitty barber.
I am now back, and writing.
“Hey,” you tried speaking to the young girl softly, but your voice came out a phlegmy growl. “We aren’t going to eat you.”“…eat me…don’t…” the small girl kept whispering, staring straight ahead into nothing. “She’s been like this since I found them,” the Riverman said, slumping into a chair across from her, “Catatonic. Unresponsive. She won’t even move unless prompted.”You squinted and frowned at her. If she had gone mad, it would make things…inconvenient. There must have been a way to break through into her head.Perhaps some knowledge of her personal life would work? “I’ve met your grandfather, he asked me to look for you. You’re safe now.”“Grandfather..?” You sighed with relief. That had been much easier than you thought it might be. “Yes. Over in Valsten, close to the northern border. He runs a shop there.”“…there’s a war happening north…” the girl rubbed her head, bleary eyed.“Yes,” the Riverman said while glaring at you and putting his feet up on the table and leaving back in his chair, “There is.”“Get your dirty boots off the table,” the bartender said, shoving the Riverman’s feet off and sending the Soulbinder tumbling backwards. “Food, young lady.” He placed a plate with bread and bacon in front of her, which she snatched up immediately.She took a bite of the proffered food and chewed thoughtfully. “It tastes like…me…” Her voice turned hopeless and tears began to run down her cheeks as she spat out everything onto the floor.“Oh, Judge Above…” you buried your face in your hands. As much as you pitied this girl you didn’t have time to be her therapist. “Please, I just need you to tell me a few things.”“Don’t eat me…”“No one’s going to eat you! Was there anybody else with you? Another girl? About your size, but with red hair?”“I…never saw anybody like that…” the girl said to you, “…they said…I didn’t need both legs…to live where they were going. That I’d live fine…it hurt so much…they ate me…”“I do not think you should barrage this girl with questions right now,” the Riverman advised you.“I’ll barrage you with questions instead, then, because I certainly have plenty.”“Hold,” the Riverman raised a hand, “Do not think I forgot your promise of payment. This was not a pleasant thing to do, Stross…outsider. Give me the payment you claimed to be able to give me.”>Payment? Are you kidding me? Unless you pull a ginger from those voluminous sleeves, you aren’t being paid a cent. I didn’t ask for this girl and bandits, I asked for my wife.>We’ll see how much your information is worth once you tell me it.>You’re right. Here is what I have for you…(Write in payment: Current reserves are 48 Valsten Union Marks, and 90 fifty-gram gold bars)>Other?
>>1758364Well he did do what we asked of him. Give him a bar but make sure he doesn't know where we keep it Actually our tank seems to be the safest place to keep it since the magic shell blocks his magic senses."Payment. Here's your payment. Would have gotten more if you got my wife. Hell you still can. Probably enough to pay your debt to."
>>1758568Payment. Here's your payment. Would have gotten more if you got my wife. Hell you still can. Probably enough to pay your debt to."Supporting this.
>>1758364>To bartender: Get her something vegetarian! And preferrably liquid, so it CAN'T resemble anything.>To Riverman: I promised payment for my wife. This girl was a bonus, so a bonus [as in one bar] is all you're getting.>We’ll see how much your information is worth though
>>1758364Go with this>>1758568Were also well on our way to starting up the Von Tracht home for troubled and disadvantaged girls.
>>1759222I'm unironically liking this idea.
>>1758888>Probably enough to pay your debt to."That might be a bit much, how much gold would it take to pay his debt anyway? Remember even if we get Maddy we still have to make it to the mercenary base and secure the rest of the hostages, so we shouldn't blow all our gold on one thing.
>>1759524>>1738971>There was probably twelve thousand Union Marks worth of gold in your war chest, ...perhaps thirty or forty? Was it worth the investment?For Maddy. Yes it is.
>>1758568Supporting one bar.Even if we had started with double the amount of gold bars the bandit's wouldn't accept us just paying the ransom. This has always been a rescue mission, best case we can bribe a few of them to leave a door open or move the hostages somewhere closer for a breakout.I do agree we shouldn't pay his debt outright, and depending on his answers he might get more than just a bar.After Eelman we really gotta talk to those prisoners.
>>1759571If we were going to pay his entire debt though for that price I think we could buy his services and make him our employee/servant and then just have him rescue Maddy as part of that.
“Firstly,” you regarded the half chewed chunk on the floor, “I think the young woman would prefer something vegetarian.”“The hell’s a vegetarian?” the old codger demanded. “Bread will do fine if she’s not in the mood for meat, but she’ll have to start eating it at some point if she wants her strength back.”You gave up on that endeavor. You weren’t nearly well versed in nutrition enough anyways to tell him differently.“Anyways…” you pulled out a chair for yourself and collapsed into it, sputtering idly.“Payment?” The Riverman asked, proffering an open palm expectantly.“Payment. Yes.” You dug around in your pocket for a bar of gold. You had taken to keeping a few on your person for whatever needed to be drowned in money, and had been growing rather accustomed to this particular sort of additional weight. When you retrieved one, you casually tossed it into the Riverman’s hand. “Here’s your payment. It would have been more if you got my wife. So far, that’s all you’re getting, but we’ll see if your information is worth more.”The Riverman made a face that did its best to look disapproving, but he couldn’t quite hide a smirk. “It will have to do. I will hold off on asking exactly where you got this gold.”“Selgess’s treasury.” You said.“Brigands don’t usually stamp their gold bars, and they usually only pay in dust.” The Riverman said while stashing the metal inside his garbs, “I doubt any care enough to complain about your particular quirks, though.”“Fascinating. But what you discovered, please.”“Ask away.” The Riverman tried kicking his feet up again, but his grandfather glared at him with venomous eyes, so he carefully set his feet back down. “Why did these men split from the original group, you think?” you asked, putting your hands together upon the table. “How long in…time, or wherever, have they been lost?”“For the first, who knows?” the Rierman said uninterestedly, “These brigands are allowed to make limited decisions. They could as well have been scouting ahead for a larger group, or decided to make a different turn. I would assume the latter. For your second question…the best way to explain how time works in the Wander…is to abandon any presumptions you have about the passage of time, because nothing about the Wander’s time is comparable to time anywhere else. The men I found had been lost for three weeks, but it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all if the group they split from appeared from the end of the pass, thinking only two or three days had passed.”
“So the big bunch may as well be untouched,” you said to yourself with discouragement. This might not be easy after all. “Did this group have any tanks with them? If they left them out there, could we get them back?”“They only had one tank. It seems that most of these men were accompaniment, people of lesser status, so they were not allowed positions with better equipment…you understand. If anything worth getting back was left out there, when the fog vanishes, it might appear at the bottom of the valley, or it may go…somewhere else. I do not know where.”You had an idea of where it could have been going; you had the thought that you could not take your blackflower for a night and see, but you then remembered that, since the flow of time was convoluted in the place Poltergeist called “Betwixt,” you could very well find yourself there before anything actually…got there? It was all quite confusing.“So how are the crabs?” you asked.“They have not been bothered further. It is all that can be asked for, in truth.” The Riverman looked at his hand and opened and closed it, little sparks flickering when he did so, “I will have to tell the Rangers that traffic should not be allowed on the road for another week or so, so that another Empress may rise in the territorial clashes going on…though their war will make them not too receptive to such news.”When you stared cluelessly in response to the Riverman’s rambling about crabs, he stared back, tapping his finger, before finally saying, “These are intelligent animals, but they are still animals. They skirmish for dominance over the whole. Is that understood?”You nodded, although the Riverman didn’t like part of your expression that leaked in while you did so.“In any case,” you continued, “Are there any ways out of that…Wander? Can the main group somehow get past our ambush?”“There are only two ways in and out of these mountains when the Wander descends,” the Riverman said confidently, “And those two ways are at either end of the mountain. The Wander, for all of its tricks, will not turn you to whence you came. They will come out of this pass, or will have turned around for whence they came; the group I retrieved indicated that they had no thought of doing any such thing as turning round, though.”“I see.”“I also found out what they did with your fiancée.” The Riverman added nonchalantly.
You nearly jumped up from your chair. “Why didn’t you say so earlier!?” “Because I knew you would become overly excited like this.” The Riverman said, not incorrect in his reasoning. “Are you truly so invested in this woman?” The Riverman crooked his eyebrows at you, “I suppose the mountain of riches she sits upon distracts from her mediocre appearance.”You stood up this time. “You take that back.” The Riverman stared you down, but you didn’t relent. “I will have you apologize for that slight against Maddalyn Von Blum.”The Riverman let his arms dangle behind his chair, then sighed and rolled his eyes. “I am sorry that I do not share your bizarre tastes and affection for abominations.”You itched to jump across that table and throttle the Riverman’s neck, but you instead took out some aggression on the innocent table by slamming both hands down upon it. “Insult her once more and I will make sure that you regret it. Now, tell me what’s been done with her.”The Riverman rolled his eyes once more and you imagined your fist smashing into his face and sending his teeth flying about the tavern. “They flew her out. They contracted a service to ferry her by air to their home fort. I can confirm, therefore, that she is at their base.”“Thank you…” you pursed your lips. At least he hadn’t spat another insulting name or implication.“There is a baffling sincerity to your defense of this thing.“ the Riverman glowered, “It makes me suspect if you are being manipulated somehow. Now unless you would like to fume impotently at me some more, I would appreciate it if you told me of any further business you wanted to do with me.”>I’ve got another plan for you. I want you to go out and get lost in the Wander until you find this larger group, then come back and tell me how they’re doing. There’s more gold than you deserve in it for you.>Piss off. I’ve had enough of you. I told you not to insult her, and you did it anyways, so if you don’t clear out I’m beating the hell out of you.>You’re bold, trying to provoke somebody who can buy you. In fact, I am buying you. Go rip up whatever contract you have. (-30 to -40 Gold out of 90)>Other?Next interaction will be prisoners. I think tomorrow should be free; don’t know when I’ll make a new thread because I have a flight to catch on Saturday.
>>1762054>You’re bold, trying to provoke somebody who can buy you. In fact, I am buying you. Go rip up whatever contract you have. (-30 to -40 Gold out of 90)We know that the group in the mountains doesn't have any more hostages, so waiting for them, especially with the time shenanigans in the Wander, is pointless. With Riverman's help we might be able to just go to their base, extract the hostages and scram.
>>1762054>You’re bold, trying to provoke somebody who can buy you. In fact, I am buying you. Go rip up whatever contract you have. (-30 to -40 Gold out of 90)I want to say this but I think we should also make it very, very, VERY clear on the terms with him. And we absolutely should not pay it in a lump sum. We contract him for the promised amount and he gets it in installments. We don't have the hold over him like the syndicates do, we can't just go kill his relatives if he reneges so we have to pay him slowly back.It seems like whatever the crime bosses make him do for them, they give him enormous time and leeway to accomplish it.Also would this only be for this mission? He won't want to work with us long, and he especially own't help us if we go back to West Valsten.I'm trying to think what 40 gold bars would buy us on this venture, passage out of Sosaldt? Bribing a rival gang to attack them? The Death Heads won't let us just pay the ransom. >>1762093I think we should still wait for them, the trap is set, we've had plenty of time to set up defenses and if we leave they will always be behind us and we won't know how far. Sure maybe Eelboy could slow them down but we don't want to be stuck between their Hammer and the bases Anvil. And if we do buy him, just who knows what trouble he could cause while they are still in the Wander or during the attack.
>>1762054>>Piss off. I’ve had enough of you. I told you not to insult her, and you did it anyways, so if you don’t clear out I’m beating the hell out of you.Do we really want this asshole hanging around with us from now on? I don't even know how useful he would be to have, he's a self-confessed shitty wizard. That gold would be better off going as payment to our own men if we find no other use for it.
>>1762054I don't really want to spend all that money on "buying" him. I'd rather string gim along with more promise of gold after he does things we want, just dumping our gold at his feet would mean he's just getting himseld out of one debt and into another. He also could just fuck off with the gold ans we'd be fucked.>I’ve got another plan for you. I want you to go out and get lost in the Wander until you find this larger group, then come back and tell me how they’re doing. There’s more gold than you deserve in it for you.And tell him >help me with attacking their baae aftee this and there's a lot more in it for youTo encourage him sticking around to help.