Another day gave way to night, Cici arriving home covered in frosting and sweat with a mud-caked Iris not far behind. Trailing after the pair at times, other times sprinting ahead, the sheep triplets also came home with them today, their white wool a dingy brown and their blue overalls stained the green of grass, seemingly to no concern of theirs. The more pressing matter, home being so far away, had been the catalyst for them to send Barbara home with a message for their father that they would be staying the night at Cici’s. Naturally, this led to Cassandra giving the trio and Cici an earful about asking for parental permission first in these matters, but with the girls practically falling over themselves in exhaustion, she finally just sighed and went to run the bath water, double checking the growing horde of children for washed ears and scrubbed backs afterward before feeding them and tucking them into bed. Exhaustion then made quick work of the rest.So, begins another lonely night for the voices, Sarah and company conspicuously absent and the fireplace outside gone dark while the trio are off looking for places of their own to settle down. As their charge sleeps amidst a pile of snoring feathers, wool, and Iris’ eyestalks, perhaps it’s just as well. Still, it’s nice to know that Cici has been making friends, the lonely gorgon whose only companions had been a hoard of skeletons and a rabbit not long ago, now surrounded with people she could talk to and rely on. Naturally, if that was the only thing to consider, the voices could rest assured that the future ahead of her was all but guaranteed to shine bright.However, as always, there are other matters to consider, in this case the visitors coming from a distant land to take her away from her home and everything that had become familiar. What would they do to repel them? What could they do?The voices can’t say that they know for certain as they turn the pages in front of them, but some vague premonition has been growing, leaving them with a feeling of unease.> What to do…>  Try to steer Cici’s visions into the days to come>  Continue studying chronomancy>  Try to steer your way toward the bee queen’s home>  Other
>>1777781For any new players: Welcome to Gorgon Child Quest! Where-in you take up the role of a magical talking artifact being wielded by a young gorgon girl named Cici. Living out of the remains of a once great dungeon, the game will focus on exploration, character interaction, and learning as the voices of the players within the amulet help guide her along.For news about quest updates, my twitter can be found here: https://twitter.com/bananon_QMAnd the archive can presently be found here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?searchall=gorgon+child
>>1777781> Try to steer your way toward the bee queen’s homeLet's go see if anyone would be up for a visit.
>>1778057>>1777781If time was of the essence, it couldn’t hurt to seek a tutor. What’s more, something tells the voices that the queen of the bee-folk didn’t have normal resting hours. Whether that’s true or not, it gets them drifting toward the exit of the tower, then out into the night.With a big, bright moon and beneath a vast blanket of stars, there was hardly any cloud cover tonight, a good eve for traveling though the shadows under the trees remain as impenetrable as ever. The voices, however, are nothing if not their own light source, their small frame weaving effortlessly between branches and through vines as they make their way to the flower garden and the queen’s home within.It's odd how different things can appear in starlight, the land seeming to carry its own ghostly radiance that shines against the shadows. Here and there they could swear they see shapes, human and otherwise, only to turn their attention toward it and find a trick of the light dispelled. It’s as though the land itself is watching them, and not just the pygmy griffin balancing on a nearby branch.*Hoo-ooo-oooo*The juvenile bird sings its melody into the night, a sound far louder than what the small bird should be able to manage, before seeming to lose interest in the voices, tail swishing capriciously before it jumps away into the darkness.A mile never seemed so long a distance to travel. Then again, they’d seldom covered that sort of distance alone. Somewhere deep inside, they can feel the strain on the bracer, the feeling of faintness from extending their projection this far. However, against all odds, their form doesn’t collapse, only fades slightly as they round a particularly ancient oak and spy a large wooden fence in the distance.Amidst a cloud of dancing fireflies, the gnarled home of the queen and her daughters waits, a sea of flowers and weeds circling all around it, pale buds glowing in the moonlight as the voices flutter over and check for signs of the occupants. However, as they peer inside, the knothole is dark, a silent and empty void.Moreover, as they raise the intensity of their light, they see nothing within but bare wood, an empty, perfectly normal hollow where a squirrel might make its home, not a queen of the forest.> What to do…>  Go back home>  Try calling for them>  Other
>>1778475>> [X] Try calling for them
>>1778475>>1778496Unwilling to give up the search quite yet, the voices decide to send out a general telepathic call to the surrounding area. It’s honestly somewhat bizarre, trying to reach out to a mind that they aren’t aware of, but in the end, they must have been successful, as they hear a response.“Yes?” says a somewhat drowsy voice from within the tree, and just like that, the voices feel a shimmer run through the air.All at once, something like a glowing cinder appears, a golden fray in reality that slowly expands to fill the knothole and replace the drab wood with the home the voices were used to seeing. Queen Ashana sits on the throne, eyeing the voices curiously before stifling a yawn with one hand.“I’m guessing you have questions for me.”> What did you want to learn?>  Write-in
>>1778475>>  Try calling for them
>>1778734Wow, is this like a pocket dimension or something?
>>1778823>>1778734“I suppose you could call it that,” she agrees. “Though I could hardly fit such a thing in my pocket. Rather, the home, like this tree, is anchored here, and just as well. I don’t have many plans of traveling anytime soon.“In any case, how go things in the gorgon household? Have the girls been faring well? What about their mother?” Her tone is pleasant and less groggy than at first as she sits up straight, slowly flexing her wings. “And, if you don’t mind my asking, how goes planning for your unwelcome visitors?”> That’s a bit complicated…> Write-in
>>1779197Not much progress on the visitors front.Still, many items of statecraft, and trying to get Cassandra to find good subordinates to delegate to.
>>1779197Things are well. Our charge is blossoming in ways we could have scarcely hoped for, socially speaking at least. Her mother seems to be burdened greatly by her temporal authority, though perhaps that is the mark of a good petty noblewoman. As to the visitors, we are preparing personally as we can. I can only hope those that Cassandra has surrounded herself with will come to her aid when needed. Sussing out the Interlopers prior to their executing their plan will be important. We may have to have Cici assist us in this regard.
>>1779344>>1779336>>1779197“I see,” she says thoughtfully, her antennae vaguely wiggling as she cups her chin, “and for my part, I’d certainly lend a hand were Cassandra to seek to bolster her ranks for a physical confrontation. However, I’m not certain this will be the kind of exchange where spells or brute strength will be our saving grace.“After all, they’re sending a pair, not an army. Were they to want to take Cici by force, creating a sizeable force is decidedly within their means. So, I then imagine we face two possibilities, either that they are coming with bribes or they are coming with blackmail which they believe sufficient to turn Cassandra’s eye and bow her head to these matters.“However, we know enough to go a step further. After all, Cassandra is not a material woman. They must know bribes will hardly hold power over her heart. No amount of offered short or long-term prosperity will be sufficient to bring her to relinquish her daughter. Therefore, I can only suspect that they seek to strike low and hard in the places where she is most vulnerable.“Bear in mind, though I see little firsthand from my home in the forest, I learn much through the eyes and ears of the swarms that ply the field, murmurs of concern from the mouths of field hands and milk maids for the strange company the baroness keeps and how the world beneath them shifts by her actions.“I have withheld mention of these matters to her for fear of further burdening her mind, but how do you believe she will fare should they beset upon her mercy as a means to undo her? From the apostate mage she has employed and financed to the former man-eaters she has allowed guardianship of her realm, much of her success, past, present, and future, hinges upon words not said. What would you do in her scales, and how can your actions bolster her own?”> Write-in
>>1779496So they may mean to use the true past crimes of Cassandra's subordinates against her? I suppose we can't simply silence these two; they would have made contingencies if they're competent.Perhaps we need to make each of her employees more sociable, a more prominent member of the community?
>>1779496I think that getting her subordinates better integrated into the realm at large would be the greatest proof against this. The other matter that might help is making more public the good works that Cassandra has facilitated. A little propaganda might go a ways to helping things along.
>>1780051>>1779546>>1779496“We must remember in times like these that people are fragile and temperamental beings. They take time to trust and longer to forgive indiscretions. I don’t know how you would seek to root these individuals into the heart of the common people so quickly or so firmly as to stave off the blow that their secrets being known will unleash, but you’ll likely need a clever plan indeed.“For Cassandra at least, there is a choice, or choices were she not the woman we know. She could break the news herself and bear the storm of outrage on the eve of their arrival, she could quash whispers and murmurs for long enough for the distrust to wear down and then open those wounds anew, hoping for the best of human rationality, or she could give the people the blood they inevitably call for when murmurs grow into cries of outrage. I, for one, can’t profess to know what is right…”For a moment, the queen looks old, as though a spell had been broken and all the wrinkles of age rippled through her expression before she can force them back into her flawless complexion.> What do the voices think?>  Cassandra should tell the people. Best they hear it all from her.>  Rumors only spread so fast. She can wait.>  Well, they are criminals…> And if anything other than the last, what can they do to solidify these people’s position in just a week?>  Write-in
>>1780239> Write-inShe could tell the people, stressing the circumstances of each.None were so bad that there wasn't both legal and moral considerations to commute their sentences.
>>1780239>>1780325This is kind of a big decision I'd like to see some debate over. So, I'll probably just leave off here for the night. Hopefully, we can wrangle in a few more people.
>>1780239>  Cassandra should tell the people. Best they hear it all from her. Well, She should probably start by telling people she can trust, and people high in the community. if she can convince them, there should be some trickle down when others start voicing concern, and then she could also get some advice in the process as to what the other citizens might think. After that, She should probably present her case to the other heads of the government, present her reasoining and what steps shes taken. there might be a little leeway there in things she can due to quell the more reasonable concerns, and she can weed the more unreasonable people out in advance this way. It'd always help to know who to keep on eye on, if we cant mitigate the damage entirely.
>>1781017This sounds like a good idea, especially if you were to combine it with an "information" campaign to let folks know about the contributions of these folks. Ultimately, we have legal authority to do this sort of shit, and if people have a problem, Might is Right.
>>1781056Honestly, Cassandra's mother needs to be reminded very strongly that she is a low-powered supplicant in this situation. Not only does she have kicking out her daughter and Cici just because of Cici's father on her list, but there's also the fact that she's likely going to openly resort to blackmail. At one point or another these things may all come up, but there's no need to air one's laundry out on the front porch so readily so to speak.We should remind Cassandra she does have the legal authority to summarily silence these two and whatever the mirror's going to be about. Her mother has zero legal authority here, and no standing to invoke bloodline things since she disinherited both Cassandra and Cici altogether. Our baroness needs to not get caught in her mother's rhythm at all if she has an hope of making it out of this intact.And if the queen is insistent on Cici learning to be a better Seer, then at Cassandra's discretion a specialized tutor could be sent up. With the implicit understanding that any attempt to abscond with or coerce Cici will be met with summary public execution. But bottom line, Cici's not going anywhere.Also when these two do show up with the mirror, we need to be sure that Cici is NOT caught in the reflection. Mirrors are lovely conduits for forceful teleportation and soul snatching and such. So she can hang around a corner or something to stay out of line of sight. No sense in giving the old snake (in the Biblical sense, not a dig on gorgons) an opening, right?
>>1782329Sounds about right. Cassandra has handled her subjects with kid gloves up till this point. If it proves needful, she can pull station on them.
>>1783288>>1782329>>1781056>>1781017>>1780325>>1780239“She has the council’s ear,” Ashana nods as the voices explain their plans, “and certainly, were there anyone to convince, it would be them. Their words carry weight as few others do. Just ensure she doesn’t dally over her decision, I suppose.”The queen drum’s her fingers through a long moment of silence, finally ending in a sigh.“So, what else might I help you with, then?” she inquires. “The night is young, after all, and I imagine that there’s much you yet wish to know.”> Was there something else…>  Ask her to teach you more magic>  Ask her about something else?>  You’ve taken enough of her time. Leave.>  Other
>>1783580>>  Ask her to teach you more magic>>  Ask her about something else?"Do you have any ambitions for your realm? Expansion, something of that sort?"
>>1783580>>1784109>>1784327“Hmm, expansion?” she questions, tilting her head thoughtfully. “I profess, I’ve never really entertained the prospect of owning land or even growing my flock much larger than it is right now. No, I fear my ambitions, much like my size, are rather modest. “Just like Cassandra, all I really want is for my daughters to grow up safe and healthy, and their daughters after them for so long as the richness of this land will sustain them. I want to pass down my knowledge and my values to them and grow old as the winters pile themselves upon my shoulders.”She laughs gently, shaking her head.“In the end, I’m as much a queen as your Cassandra is a baroness. Perhaps that’s why I feel the need to help her in whatever way I can…”With a groan, she removes herself from her chair and takes a long stretch toward the ceiling, wiping the sleep from her eyes.“So, then, there’s much I can teach you and little enough time before morning light to do so. Tell me what it is you wish to learn.”> What did you want to learn, anyway?>  Gathering mana from the air. You feel that you’ve only scratched the surface on it.>  Your chronomancy. If she can produce special distortions like this, maybe she’d be able to help with temporal ones.>  How to better wield mental influence. Cici’s mind is fragile. Best protect it.>  Other> Also, give me 1d100, regardless
>>1784444>  Your chronomancy. If she can produce special distortions like this, maybe she’d be able to help with temporal ones.>  How to better wield mental influence. Cici’s mind is fragile. Best protect itThese seem the most in need of work. wehave an advantage currently in terms of mana in that theres just a lot of it around here, and until we get better at using what we have,im fine with that.
Rolled 80 (1d100)>>1784444> How to better wield mental influence. Cici’s mind is fragile. Best protect it.
>>1784444>>  How to better wield mental influence. Cici’s mind is fragile. Best protect it.Our charge, being as young as she is, is rather vulnerable. Best offer some manner of protection.
>>1784444>  How to better wield mental influence. Cici’s mind is fragile. Best protect it.
>>1785233>>1784657>>1784598>>1784502>>1784488>>1784444> 80“So, you want to know how to better access the minds of others or stave off influences that would affect your ward?” she questions. “Well then, I will bridge the connection to your bracelet, and in return, I want you to attempt to probe my mind.”The voices attempt to gird themselves as the air ripples around the queen, the monarch rising to her full height and wings fluttering before the weight of her mana comes crashing down on the voices’ projection. Like a wave of cold ice, it slices into them and makes their heads swim, a sinking feeling making them fit to collapse before a warm, almost burning essence shoots like lightning down the path they had taken to come here.The voices see it all in the blink of an eye, a rush of images and senses condensed too tightly to pull apart before they are once again in total darkness, their spiritual space now attached to some strangely familiar entity.“Now,” the queen’s voice rings across the abyss, multi-timbered and composed. “The path laid before you is simple: try to influence my mental space. Try to find the number that I am thinking of.”A curious request, the voices do what they normally do, subconsciously feeling their will directed toward the information they seek. However, just like an arm hitting a wall, they feel their progress halt against something undefined and impenetrable.“Just as I have taught Cici with magic, the stuff of the mind is just as malleable,” the queen explains. “However, it requires willpower to give it form and function. This wall is one example.”The voices continue to probe, but they find no give in the surface, no thoughts save the vague hum of an idea of resilience. “Combined, your individual wills have incredible strength,” Ashana assures them, “but without harmonizing your focus, you are nothing more than a gentle wave of hands prying against stone walls. That is the first illusion that you must give up, the illusion of entity in this purely mental space.“You are not just the hands in this case; you are the wall itself. You are the very substance of whatever defense or offense occurs in this space, a power exclusive to you as the intermediaries bound to neither mind. With that comes the ability to attack in ways your enemies cannot anticipate and defend in ways they cannot comprehend.“For now, simply take what you know and try once again.”> Attack Ashana’s mind, but how? (Roll 1d100)>  Try to break through the wall! Punch it!>  Try to become the wall. Open a rift.>  Other
Rolled 26 (1d100)>>1786144> OtherBecome a drill and make a hole in the wall!
Rolled 12 (1d100)>>1786144>>  Try to become the wall. Open a rift.
Rolled 83 (1d100)>>1786144>  Try to become the wall. Open a rift.were gonna penetrate this queen!
Rolled 68 (1d100)>>1786144>>  Try to become the wall. Open a rift.
>>1787320>>1786961>>1786869>>1786767>>1786144> 83The voices attempt to diffuse their awareness, as Ashana suggested. However, it’s far from a simple matter. Much like their exercises in changing their own shape, the fabric of their identity is resilient to attempts to change its fundamental identity, pulling itself back like a spring several times before they finally begin to dissolve and feel the greater shape of the void around them.It's strange, like a heartbeat with a dozen different pulses and currents going through it at once, the strange feeling of familiarity somehow letting them know that what they are experiencing is Cici’s mind connected with theirs. Unburdened, with a gentle pulse, it is easy to pick out the individual rhythms, her inner thoughts reading like an open book.Where that meets the queen’s mind, however, there is a breakage, a single but powerful thought driven up like a wall to keep her mind separate. There is no anger in it, no malice, just a firm and unshakeable resolve. The resolve in turn produces a pressure, energy that channels the stuff of this mental space into a defensive structure, and as the voices allow themselves to become a part of the greater whole, they can feel a modicum of themselves be swept up into the current, empowered and shaped into the very fabric of the boundary they seek to cross.“This is only a basic type of boundary,” the queen informs the voices, somehow sensing their activity, “and just like a river flowing in one direction, a small interruption in the flow can create a dead spot, a place where all of that resistance amounts to nothing.”Taking the advice for what it is, the voices do just that, trying not so much to fight the current, but to drive a wedge in its flow. “Mind you, an opponent can sense intrusions. They will know almost instantly when their defenses have been compromised. When that occurs, you must react quickly, or else-“The voices suddenly feel the direction of the flow turn sideways against them, their tunnel into the queen’s consciousness collapsing as vertigo takes hold.“Now, then, try again.”
>>1787442And try, the voices do, again and again and again, never quite managing to hold their place in the current long enough to do anything substantial with it as the queen bats them about like a cat would an injured bird. Still, within that frustration, there are lessons to be learned, the shape and method of forming defenses repeatedly played against their awareness as they sharpen their attempts to undo Ashana’s wall. Finally, narrowly, they manage to catch their prize.Five. The number of the queen’s daughters, the oldest of which had long since left on her own. With long black hair and fierce eyes, a mother can’t help but wonder where the winds of fate have carried her sense.Unfortunately, that’s all the voices can catch before they feel the link between their minds weaken, Ashana’s throne room becoming visible again as she allows her magic to fade.“And those are the basics,” Ashana says nonchalantly, as though they’d just been having a cup of tea and pleasant conversation as opposed to a mental wrestling match. “The mind of a mage is their fortress: always remember this. It is their last line of defense and last refuge, and of course, nothing to be played with lightly.“Now, will that be all?”> The morning is not far away, but there is at least time for questions.>  Ask questions. About? (Write-in)>  Just get going for now. Cici will be awake soon.
>>1787446> Just get going for now. Cici will be awake soon.
>>1787446> Ask questions. About? (Write-in)Does she have any plans to hand control of the hive over to one of her daughters, so that she can go into semi-retirement and terrorize Parliament?
>>1787474>>1787467>>1787446The voices take a moment to ask her about her future plans, especially as concern her daughters.“When the time comes, and my daughters wish to leave, I will provide for them in whatever way I can. Should they wish to take on a hive of their own, new queens of the colony will always be born and the fledgling broods will need leadership. However, I’m not certain if this life will be the one they choose for themselves.“As for me, I fear that the life of a senator is simply not my place, not among the human chancellors at least. After all, I have no need for land or titles, I can offer little manpower should war come to their doorstep, and I do not trade with their merchants. To try to wield influence irrespective of that and our difference of species seems… unwise.”> You aren’t so sure about that…>  Try to convince her to take a more active role in the council (Write-in)>  Leave off on that issue for now
>>1787530> Try to convince her to take a more active role in the council (Write-in)Oh, but you really do have much to offer, and not just simply in honey as a trade good. Pollination and agriculture. Yes, the hives of the non-sapient bees may pollinate their fruit trees, but your hive could do so much better. And your magic could surely provide you a way into the hallways of their colleges and mage academies. Archmage Brandon would surely write a letter of recommendation with little prodding.If you do not trade now, then is it not time to begin looking to what can be traded?Making the humans accept you, grudgingly and against their will, as an equal to be respected, would only help the cause of the other non-human races throughout this continent, as well as helping to protect your daughters in the future when they head out into the world.
>>1787574>>1787530I'll leave this one open for the night, and pick back up tomorrow. Good to see folks are filtering back in after the stint of absence.
>>1787530>Try to convince her to take a more active role in the council (Write-in)My lady, you really do have a lot to offer your neighbors and they to you. You have the greatest amount of experience in rulership this area is likely to find, your subjects collect information in the day to day life on a scale unavailable to larger species, and finally you are skilled in a form of magic no one else in this area has too much knowledge in. If you were to offer things of this sort to your neighbors, you could likely press for concessions of land or other property that while large on scale you live, would likely be viewed as minor by human scale. Mutual protection is another thing that could be of great benefit. Human scale violence in return for intelligence gathered by overlooked laborers. A matter to bring to Cassandra. And besides everything else, having the voice of another mother on the council might help in salving one of the baroness's worries.
>>1787530"Cassandra is just one person and can only do so much to help non humans. With your help, she could do more and also bring a better future for you decendants. She also needs a secretary but that's a task we haven't found anyone for yet. If nothing else at least talk to her as a mother and give advice as she gets quite nervous and scared about Cici future a lot. And we really don't want to use force to get Cici to stay. While is true Cici could become a great mage or a great seer or even a leader of the Gorgons if she left, she is still too young and lacking experience and wisdom. The world doesn't really need another great mage or a seer and the Gorgons troubles are mostly their own making. The children are the future, what everyone here is building is a better place where both humans and monsters can coexist. If Cici left this small patch of haven would fall apart. lThe Gorgons... they know the curse that made them is weakening, yet why they don't take joy in it?They can't accept they either must breed with other species, helping to weaking the curse even more or face extinction. Even if Cici became the most powerful seer still alive what they would do with that? Hunt down every other Gorgon or those with Gorgon blood to force breed more pure blooded Gorgons? Kingdoms and Empires have tried that nosence with their royal lines and it just ended with sick, frail and even crazy children that later took those empires and kingdoms to ruin after several generations of marrying cousins. Oh and they are fools to trust a magic mirror that pretends to be a seer. Never fully trust a magical artifact that has intellect and you don't know were it came from. And yes that includes ourselves. That's why we try to make Cici think for herself. If you depend too much on other making the choices for you, specially a magical artifact then you are dooming your future.Of course Cici is still just a kid, and most choices should be made by her mother and responsible adults but she also has to learn how to think for herself. Is a delicate balance isn't it? Smother a kid too much and it will become useless without you, do it too little and it will be unhappy. In the end kids must have fun and learn, since you are only a child once. Of course in the future Cici might leave but that should be both her own choice and something she does while being older and more experienced. It would be nice if her grandmother could understand that. Even if the rules called for exile she could have been nicer about it. Explain to Cassandra that actions have consecuences and that she could not make an exemption to her own daughter. But she did things in a way the poor woman is scared of her big and meanie mother taking her own daughter away."
>>1789016>>1789011>>1787682Apologies everyone. Due to a combination roach, flea, and brown recluse infestation, my house is being fumigated with my computer trapped inside. It was a snap decision that I had little time to react to and less to report on. My apologies, but I'll try to pick up tomorrow.
>>1790260This is bananon, just to be clear.
>>1790260>combination roach, flea, and brown recluse infestationYou know what? Yeah, I'd probably leave my computer too, in that situation.
>>1790260Jesus, good luck
>>1790260>Due to a combination roach, flea, and brown recluse infestation, my house is being fumigated with my computer trapped inside.Yeah, at that point, I'd just burn the place down and start a new life. Good luck getting all of those little bastards, bossman.
>>1791124>>1790501>>1790411>>1790399>>1790260I'll write up something tonight, and maybe see what I can do tomorrow. Dear Jesus, these circumstances are driving me crazy. Suffice to say, the poison just made the fleas angrier.Anyway, with the thread in autosage, we'll make what we can of it, and I'll make a judgement call after on which thread to start up next, this of Fallout: Last Spark.
>>1787530>>1787574>>1789011>>1789016“I’ll always be there when Cassandra has need of me,” the queen assures the voices. “You must understand, however, that leaving my home is… uncomfortable. The world outside is not the one I was born into, and it ravages me to some extent to travel far or often.“A trip to the council every now and again might be possible, though, to offer the information which I gather from my kin. I have what land I need and no desire for human coin, but there’s scarcely a flower or plant that they don’t visit, a pasture that goes unseen, or a water source left untouched. Insomuch as they travel to the extent which I cannot and communicate with their brethren from distant hives, I can tell the people of these councils much that they would be otherwise unaware of.”She takes a moment in thought before continuing, as though weighing the wisdom of her words.“There is also much I could tell Cassandra of the council itself should it come to it, rumors and discussion had beneath sheltered eves and away from prying eyes. I would be hesitant to do so, naturally, but should there come a day of need, it’s within my power to out the wolves from the sheep. As I’ve said, however, whispers can be dangerous, as much in the listening as the speaking, and I’d prefer she not sully the trust her subjects are beginning to put into her.”She yawns at that, giving a long, groaning stretch as she returns to her throne and settles back in with drooping eyes.“The dawn will be approaching soon,” she notes, “and we both have our little ones to look after. I’ll consider what you’ve said, and continue to keep my ears to the wind for travelers. You aren’t wrong in saying that Cici is neither a prize to be taken nor an unwitting cornerstone to an empyreal lineage, and I’ll not allow her to be treated as such.”She smiles.“I would say, unless such is her will, but you know her as well as anyone. She is a simple child with a simple heart, one for whom the power of her destiny almost mocks her humble ambitions. Though it does raise a question: what do you desire for this child’s future? When she is a woman grown and no longer a child, what would you will of her?”> What do you want for Cici’s future?> Write-in
>>1795651"To be happy in whatever she decides to be. Be it a mage, seer, empress, adventurer, baker or whatever she chooses. The important thing is that it should be her choice."
>>1795651"Rather then what she becomes, im more interested in how she will change the world around her, if shes just given the chance. With a little luck, the world will end up a better, kinder place with her in it, assuming we can stop others ruining her for it."
>>1795651For Cici to fulfill her potential, whatever outlet she chooses to direct her talents towards.
>>1795954>>1795808>>1795682>>1795651“Happiness, self-satisfaction, and a world made better through her good acts,” she surmises, nodding. “You don’t so much care what she achieves so long as you know that she has given it her best to fulfill whatever capacities she has in the role she’s chosen for herself… I think that’s a wise position to take, more restrictive than coddling, but still leaving her plenty of freedom to choose her own path.“In truth, I think Cici may have needed that bit of added firmness you provide, that bit of guidance and pressure to perform. Even now, so much of the world is new to her, but I believe that she’s grown in leaps and bounds in large part because you haven’t been afraid to challenge her to challenge herself to learn new things and to try and fail in the pursuit of curiosity. I don’t know what the future holds, but should you part ways for some reason, I’ve no doubt that will be your longest lasting gift to her.”Her antennae twitch and her eyes droop before she yawns once more.“Come again, should you desire to learn something else,” she offers. “Though perhaps a little earlier in the evening would be best.”The voices, for their part, know they shouldn’t dally any longer, saying their thanks and their goodbyes before fluttering home in the grey light before dawn. It’s a curious time, indeed, when the morning mist lies thick upon the ground and the leaves drip with dew. The earliest birds have only just begun to sing their lonely songs to hail the morn, and their voices echo through the near-silence with a sharp rapport.More curiously, as they navigate closer and closer to home, they note a fire already stoked and roaring well before the breakfast hour, apprehension growing in their minds of uninvited guests before a familiar and statuesque woman comes into view on the opposite side of the pit. Warming her hands to stave off the morning chill is Rosie, what appears to be an entire side of a deer sizzling on the grill as her breath continues to mist in the air around her.Questions are abuzz as to what would bring her by so early, and the voices are just beginning to tally them up. However, it’s then they also notice another form to their left, also by the fire, but much, much smaller. What appears to be a girl half Cici’s age is just sitting there, expression blank and seemingly boring through the fire rather than looking at it as she idly kicks her legs under the bench. If that wasn’t strange enough, her hair is green like fresh cut grass and she seems to take no notice of the voices’ arrival.> This promises to be interesting…>  Did… Did Rosie kidnap a child?>  Ask about the kid>  Might want to mention the baroness needing to out her and Mischael’s pasts>  Other
>>1797302> Ask about the kidAs much as I want to mention to Rosie about what Cass might have to do, I think we should speak with Cass first about it.
>>1797302>  Ask about the kid We got another stray?
>>1797332>>1797319>>1797302“Huh?” she questions, as the voices ask her where she got the kid from. “Ye mean you guys don’t know her? Huh. Figured when I showed up and she was just waiting outside she was one of Cici’s little friends. She ain’t too talkative but… Well, I’m used to it, when it comes to me. At least she didn’t go runnin’ off, screamin’ into the woods.”The oni sighs before flipping the meat, prodding it with her finger.“Hey runt, you hungry?” Rosie asks, looking to the small girl. “Nnn?”A half-hearted questioning noise is all she gets in return, the girl’s eyes seeming not to focus on Rosie’s face or really anything even as they swivel in her direction.“Food,” the ogress emphasizes, poking the deer with one nail. “You eat?”“Nnn…”After giving what could best be described as a monotone, motionless shrug, the girl turns her eyes toward the ground and goes back to swinging her legs.“So yeah… Like I said, she ain’t exactly talkative. Maybe you guys would have better luck.”> Maybe…>  Ask the child a question.>  Go get Cassandra. This is weird.>  Other
>>1797357> Ask the child a question.What's your name, little one? What are you waiting for, singleton?
>>1797385>>1797357The voices begin to speak to the child, trying to inquire what brings her here on this fine morning, but something peculiar catches their notice, something they haven’t experienced before in all of their conversations: resistance. Calling to mind memories of their training with Ashana, the child’s mind seems to resist their telepathic greetings, the words lost in the area between them.Curious.It does seem to draw her notice at least, green eyes staring at the voices with at least mildly more intent than the fire.“Mmm?” she makes a questioning noise, tilting her head to one side and rubbing one temple with a small hand.In the process, the voices notice something else peculiar, what appears to be channels running down the back of the child’s hand, a vibrant green light shimmering at the surface and bounded by metallic accents.“No luck?” Rosie asks, somewhat breaking their concentration as she takes the meat from the fire and sets it down in front of her.> How to answer that…>  Write-in
>>1797476"She's...interesting. She has mental defenses, and potentially magitechnological implants, if those channels on her hand are any indication. We'll likely get more answers once Cici and Iris get here."
>>1797476..There are so many questions to ask. But one of the first I'd put forth is this. "Is this an unusual hair color?" I haven't really been paying attention to things like people's hair color and the like since there have been more obvious signs of differing lineage like snake hair and the like. Sometimes odd coloring of hair or eyes is an indication of overt magical influence in something. Though I guess that's kind of a given since those do look like magical conduits in the girl's flesh.As to the mental defenses and general lack of emotional response, I would put forth the hypothesis that she may be some flavor of homonculus or organic-based golem? The so-called "constructs" tend to be pretty resistant if not outright immune to mental influence. Honestly, there's little that can surprise us at this point. Unusual people and events seem to be springing up almost daily at this point. "Another oddity for the pile", to put it jadedly. At this point I'm surprised there's no dragons or wyverns or such in the area, though I suppose not being mountainous makes this area less desirable for creatures that like to lair in large caves.I highly doubt anything offensively-related out of the little one. It would have made more tactical and strategic sense to assault anyone inside while they slept if there was any malevolent intent. Since she was just sitting here when you came up that's another indication that there's nothing hostile about her.Overall, waiting for the others to get up is probably the best call. She is clearly new, though
>>1797476In short, no, in long, she appears to have some kind of modification, probably best not to mess with it until someones else has a look at her. At least she seems calm.
>>1797476"Her body has been modified somewhat."
>>1800214>>1798737>>1797904>>1797539>>1797476The voices explain that she isn’t precisely your average child, and inquire about her hair color.“Nah. Green ain’t exactly natural unless you’re a dryad or a forest nymph, and it ain’t like she’s got pointy ears or bark for skin either. What the heck are you talkin’ about conduits, though?”Concerned, the oni steps around the fire, the girl seeming to show a bit of anxiousness at the speed of the large woman’s steps and actually trying to recoil before the oni grabs her by the arms.“Nnnn!” she complains, making a feeble attempt to pull away.“’Nnnn’ all ye want,” the oni tuts. “I wanna-“Whatever Rosie intended to say is cut short as a pillar of stone slams up from the ground and into her sternum, sending both her and the terrified child still in her grips up into the air. They land more than a second later with a thud, the former curled protectively around the latter.“Now as I was sayin’,” the oni grunts, taking a sitting position and continuing to manhandle the child. “Lemme see yer hands.”Whether the child understands, she’s apparently not looking to try any more defensive magic as Rosie patiently inspects the backs of her hands. Sure enough, the veins are on both of them, and the primary channel of each flows up and through her forearms.“I swear to the gods, if that jackass has been making more kids,” she murmurs to herself. “At least whoever embedded this shit didn’t botch it. No swelling or pain. Hell, at least I guess there’s no pain. Do humuncu-whatsits even feel pain?”She sighs, cradling the child in one massive arm before depositing her back on the bench from which they had inadvertently been launched.“Now don’t ye go tryin’ that with the other kids when they get up and about,” she lectures, pointing to the spike of earth. “Ye’ll end up hurtin’ somebody, and maybe yerself.”“Nnnn…”If the girl doesn’t know the words, at least the tone seems to affect her, a vague chagrin in her tone this time as she goes back to idly kicking her legs, her preferred method of passing the time before the sound of sweeping scales draws near.“Rosie?” Mama questions, spying her straight out of the door. “What’s going on, and why is there a child with you?”“The munchkin was there when I got here,” the oni waves dismissively. “Maybe one of the girls’ll know something we don’t. In the meantime, I’d recommend keepin’ yer hands to yerself.”“Okay…?”> Cassandra’s busy day has only just begun.>  Explain to her what Ashana proposed>  Explain the child to her>  Other
>>1800420>  Explain the child to her
>>1800420> Explain to her what Ashana proposedThe needs of the barony and Cici come first.
>>1800420> Explain to her what Ashana proposedThough honestly it seems a bit early in the day for politics. As to the situation with this new child, I don't know. We can't really explain something we're unsure of ourselves. Maybe we should involve Ms. Willow and Melody to examine the girl. That was a rather well-aimed shot with the earth spike, though.Rosie, for future reference you should approach children more slowly. A lot of them tend to act like prey animals and are spooked by sudden movements by larger entities.Also; a belated good morning, Baroness. Your day starts with another "oddity for the pile", as I put it to Rosie earlier. On the plus side, Rosie's got the meat for breakfast so there's part of your morning ritual done!
>>1800420"This child body has been modified to use Earth magic, look at her hands."
>>1801222This sounds good right here.
>>1802427>>1802307>>1801222>>1801134>>1801129>>1800420The voices explain that the girl (whatever she may be) seems to have magical powers, calling attention to the spike of earth in front of her.“Ah. So that’s what happened there,” Cassandra sighs. “We’ll have to do something about that later.”It’s surprising how casual Cassandra’s tone is through all of this. Perhaps, in her own way, she’s come to expect these bizarre, day-to-day occurrences. “Would you like something to eat?” she asks the child off-handedly as she begins unpacking ingredients.“Nnnn…?” comes the vague answer.“Is that a yes or a no?”“She don’t talk so good, Cass,” Rosie explains. “Like certain other people I might mention…” Cassandra adds offhandedly, seemingly ducking the ogress’ radar before starting in on the meal preparations.It’s then that the voices bring up their conversation with Ashana during the night previous, and feel the resultant welling terror as her entire body comes to a stall. Unlike with the little one, Cassandra’s mind might as well be an open book, the dread coursing like venom in her veins as she tries and fails to slow down the beating of her heart or her mind racing toward every horrifying thing the messengers might be prepared to bring against her.“Cass, you alright?” Rosie asks, chewing on a leg of deer as though it were a turkey drum. “Yer lookin’ a little pale.”[“The mage, the trolls, the undead, the golems… that ‘thing’ that’s buried in the ground. Where do I even start?”]> Cassandra is panicking.>  Try to calm the woman down.>  Try to convince Cassandra to speak with Rosie right now.>  Try to explain the situation to Rosie yourselves.>  Other
>>1802586> Try to explain the situation to Rosie yourselves.
>>1802586>>  Try to convince Cassandra to speak with Rosie right now.>>  OtherCassandra: Ultimately, you have legal authority to do as you will regarding the meting of justice in your demesne. And if any would dispute it, you command enough force to put them in line. Take a deep breath. Even if the worst comes to pass, you have the manpower to protect yourself and yours.
>>1802586>  Try to calm the woman down.Try to get some food in you before youu start worrying a hole through your stomache. we already have a game plan we can take a bit of the load off your mind.At the very least the Golems and the thing underground you dont have to worry about. The Golems havent actually done anything harmful and are actually being quite helpful, so trying to use them against you could be just as easy to backfire on them as to help their case. add to that, for whatever reason people tend to have an easier time accepting machines, intelligent or not, then they do "monsters" so I dont think you need to worry too much there.The thing underground also hasnt done anything, whats more, its not only been there longer then you, its been there since before this territory as it is now even existed, so trying to pin that one on you sounds weird any way you slice it. whats more we've already had the most qualified mage we know look at it and agree that leaving it alone is the best thing to do, I think any rational person in charge will forgive not poking at the big magic thing under their feet for now.So thats two out of the 5 things you have in mind that dont even seems to be an issue, and the other three will be taken care of in time, and we can do it through talking. All we need to do is what we CAN do, prepare.
>>1802963>>1802646>>1802616>>1802586The voices realize that this situation isn’t precisely productive but end up divided on whether or not to force Cassandra to start this discussion. In the end, they wind up in something of a compromise with half of their collective trying to calm the panicking mother while the others more or less outline the situation for Rosie.[“But I don’t want to be a dictator!”]Such is Cassandra’s immediate reaction to using force to put the peasants in line, the image of Rosie ripping farmers limb from limb somehow not as soothing as it could be. That’s not to mention the idea of other baronies becoming involved or the logistical nightmare of keeping Cici under twenty four hour surveillance and-Well, at the very least, the golems probably wouldn’t be a problem. That, she can at least concede, and if Brad was worth his salt, the apparatus was likely already on private record in the academy, meaning that it had been reported to the proper authorities. In the end, she has no idea whether that will appease the common people, however.“Ah, I get it,” Rosie responds after the voices have finished filling her in on her part. “Heh. Shit…”“Rosie,” Cassandra begins. “You don’t have to worry. I’ll figure out s-“The oni just sighs.“Nah, Cass. I can’t exactly just duck my head in a hole and let you try to sort this shit out for me and Mishi. Least I can do is own up to it and let these folks decide if they want me around. Anybody asks, and ye can tell ‘em ye didn’t know.”“I don’t agree with lying,” Cassandra objects. “I’d rather be mocked for compassion than ignorance.”“And I’d rather ye not look like yer providin’ safe harbor to every cut-throat, murderer, and cannibal in five counties,” the ogress grunts, making a sour expression.“Nnn…” the child offers helpfully.“Yeah? Well, nobody asked you,” Rosie grumbles, the stare she has fixed on Cass indicating she’s not ready to settle this.> Looks like the voices might need to break the tie>  Tell the truth.>  Bend the truth.> More to the point, should Rosie be allowed to argue her case directly?> She’s quite physical imposing and… not the best public speaker.>  Let her represent herself>  Convince her to let Cass handle this
>>1803033>  Tell the truth.Lets put it this way. Were working against a bunch of seers, and assuming they try any of this shit were thinking of, they already know that Cassandra knows, so if she lies and it gets proved that she knew, then shes going to be in an even WORSE position.>>More to the point, should Rosie be allowed to argue her case directly?No, do it together.This affects both of you. Youre in it together, finish it together.
>>1803033Bend the truth, and have a town meeting. Is there a council? If not, such a body could help in both collecting and filtering complaints from subject.
>>1803033How about a middle ground?> Tell the truth but word it very careful, make sure anything you say is true but lead them to think something different that favours you. The fae are said to be experts on doing this.
>>1803033>  Tell the truthWe're working against a bunch of seers; trying to bend the truth is unlikely to work well. >  Convince her to let Cass handle thisTimes like this, I wish Lee was here instead of gallivanting off trying to right wrongs and woo women. Rosie, you're a good person, but not necessarily a good orator. Anyone wants to speak with you directly, that's one thing. But speaking in front of a crowd you're trying to not disperse, is another.
>>1803335>>1803201>>1803159>>1803141>>1803033The voices try to think of the optimal resolution to this situation, but wind up conflicted, eventually just settling on giving all of their opinions at once.“There really isn’t a point in lying,” Cassandra agrees at the end of it. “If the Seers had a mind, they could probably out whatever falsehoods I tell to the public upon arrival.”“But there ain’t a point in admitting more than ye have to,” Rosie insists. “Least, I think that’s the point they’re tryin’ to make.”“Where do we draw that line, though?” Cassandra sighs.“Maybe the part where I tried to murder ye,” Rosie suggests, shaking her head. “Don’t know. I ain’t too good at lyin’. Anyway, I’m with at least one o’ ‘em on sayin’ I oughta be there. People gotta see that I’m willing to be held accountable, to appear before the courts if needed and to live beneath the law going forward. Ye can’t just tell ‘em that and expect ‘em to believe it when we’re off in the woods doin’ gods know what.”She snorts.“Don’t worry. I’ll let ye do most of the talkin’. I just gotta be there to agree with whatever yer sayin’. Deal?”Cassandra has the distinct appearance of a woman who just wants to crawl back in bed and start the day over, but she settles instead for a sigh, slouching slightly as she resigns herself to this.“Deal,” she agrees, “and if they request that you be punished?”“Well, they can try,” the oni boasts, rotating her shoulders boastfully before she catches sight of Cassandra’s expression. “Look, what I mean is that there’s nothin’ stoppin’ me and Mishi from movin’ on if this doesn’t work out, and they oughta know they ain’t got a cell strong enough, a tree high enough, or a sword sharp enough to do anything to us unless we let ‘em. I ain’t sayin’ I’m gonna try to screw things up for ye, just sayin’ that I ain’t quite willing to throw myself on a pike for ye.”“I understand.”“Good, then… Just, damnit. Why can’t things be simple?”“I ask myself that all the time.”“Nnnn…” the little one suggests sagely, getting a laugh from the oni.“Fair warning, kid. If I find yer mom, I’m shoving a boot up her ass.”“And if, as the voices suggest, she doesn’t have one at all?” Cassandra inquires.“Then I ain’t resting till I’ve found her one… Even if I gotta do it myself.”And the apocalyptic visions of the future keep on rolling, at least for now.
>>1805140And that's where we'll end it folks, at least for now. Sorry for the meandering pace, but I hope you all had fun. On my end, obviously, life has been a bit distracting. In addition to insect troubles, I've been struggling to get a job locked down. Hopefully that sorts itself in the next couple of days, and life will get substantially easier in the process.
>>1805140Oh so the oni is willing to adopt?
>>1805916There is a distinct chance that Rosie has a soft spot for children, as well as abandoned and vulnerable things. Extra points for feminine flattery, though she'd never admit it.