You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of Panzers by authority of the Archduchy of Strossvald, and you are on a mission to rescue near several hundred of your countrymen from the clutches of a mercenary-brigand band deep inside of the anarchic realm of Sosaldt; one of the hostages being your fiancée, Maddalyn Von Blum. One wouldn’t think that a panzer platoon would be the best suited force for a covert rescue, but you knew the logic of it. In a place as dangerous as Sosaldt, the best way to avoid trouble was to be extremely heavily armed. You had avoided trouble for the most part due to unwittingly having powerful friends, but the Intelligence Office had no way of knowing that.Or did they all along?It wasn’t worth thinking about; even trying to figure out those government spooks gave you a headache.Getting back to the present, you had extricated yourself from Lord Wossehn’s party to try and find your ghostly companion Emma (thinking about being acquainted with a ghost was easier than thinking about the Intelligence Office). She would be vital in this coming plot to infiltrate Todesfelsen with the aid of Wossehn. Anywhere you couldn’t go, she could creep into completely unnoticed. The only trouble was finding her once more, since you had managed to piss her off earlier; not unrightfully, since Emma had been refusing to own up to a past wrong, but in hindsight you could have done without making her scurry off.Since you had last spoken with her back in Rostig, quite a ways back west, part of you counted on not being able to find her at all. An equal part thought it quite reliable, though, that the excitable spriteling would never have passed up the opportunity to attend a fancy party, and could have been counted on to follow your band here if she even heard of where you were going. Curiosity, after all, seemed to be her strongest motivation, for better or worse.You counted on the worse aspect of her curiosity to lead you to her here. You had been directed away from the little gazebo by the fountain in the courtyard gardens; a classical place for romantic interludes away from festivities, and if the blue light that was barely blotted out by the gazebo’s yellow lamplight was what you thought it was, you had correctly presumed where Emma’s filthy mind would lead her.Fairly certain that you had found Emma now, you resolved to sneak closer, avoiding notice by the men watching out for their master while he did his amorous business, so you could retrieve her. Thankfully, it was child’s play to find a darker path out of the notice of most of the guards; the animals you had hunted in the past were much more careful than this security, and it was a good thing for their master that you were merely a peeping tom and not an assassin.
You had been dreading potentially sneaking up on a couple having relations; but relief and confusion came in equal proportion as you closed the distance and found the warlord and his partner…merely talking. The warlord himself was a brawny brute with long, greasy hair that stuck up randomly from his scalp, wearing a scratchy shirt that seemed awfully plain for such an event. The jacket that you presumed was his was a magnificent scarlet, and laying on the bench beside him. The lady that was with him was certainly a prostitute, but a high class one, that wouldn’t be out of place looking scandalous with a Strossvalder noble. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail, with her bangs ending just above large, deeply shadowed eyes. The dress she wore was of deep blue shining satin, and it was so low cut that it seemed that the slightest movement would cause her to pop right out of it, and to make it even more attention drawing the dress was both cut down to the navel and up to her hip. Unlike her partner, whose dull clothes couldn’t hide his musculature, this lady would have had a typical, if fit, looking body had her daring fashion not turned the plain into the shocking.“I just wanted to tell momma that I’m sorry I didn’t make somethin’ of myself,” the warlord said pitifully, “Nine years kicking around in the dust and I’m thinkin’ I’m so unhappy cause I’m not at the top, now I’m at the top and I still have the same problems. Shoulda just stayed home and took over the shoe store like my folks wanted, but no, look at me, comin’ up on thirty and my life feels like it’s almost over.”“I’m…not sure if I can help you with that,” the prostitute opined awkwardly. “Can’t we just do something normal?”“What’s normal anymore?” the warlord continued to whine, “I left normal behind, and now it’s too late for me to go back.”The hooker sighed and crossed her legs, smoothing her dress down. “Whatever. As long as I’m paid at the end, you do whatever you want.” She blew a raspberry into the air and muttered, “Should’ve asked for hourly…”
“Can I really do whatever I want?” the powerful bandit king asked the night air as if he was demanding an answer from the Judge himself.The prostitute turned full towards the warlord and stroked his chin with one hand while running her other hand down his thigh, “Baby, you can do anything you want right now, as long as it’s not more talking.”“I meant in a metaphysical sense.”“Yes, and I meant in a physical sense.”“Nobody understands me,” the warlord wailed while burying his face in his hands, “That’s the only thing that hasn’t changed.”The prostitute seemed to accept that she had lost all control of the situation, and stood up, went around behind the bandit king, and began massaging his neck and shoulders through his coarse, stained linen shirt. “Alright, alright. Tell me, why doesn’t anybody understand you?”“Are you kidding me?” you heard Emma’s voice as she floated up next to you, “I don’t believe this. She’s asking for it, you lummox, what more do you need?”>Say nothing, just beckon her over and sweep her into a can.>It’s not proper to peep. Come over here, I need you for something.>It’s the Judge mocking you for your past transgressions. Now come along, you haven’t been given permission by your guardian to be here.>Shocking as this may be, you might have a warped idea of how relationships work. Maybe you should stop hanging around creepy, violent loners for a change.>Other?>past threads pastebin @ https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh>twitter for announcements is @scheissfunker>>1956120>Can we use the spooky eating magical creatures in a can to detect her? Or was that just for Soulbinders?The Hungry Darkness eats other presence creatures. Emma, being an Ember, would probably be eaten by it if it were given the chance.
>>1962030>Shocking as this may be, you might have a warped idea of how relationships work. Maybe you should stop hanging around creepy, violent loners for a change.
>>1962030Option 4.Would have voted earlier but just got home. Now I'm off to bed since work wants me back in 8 hours
“Shocking as this may be,” you tried to say under your breath, “you may have a warped idea of how relationships work. Maybe you should stop hanging around creepy, violent loners for a change.”The Warlord sat bolt upright. “Who said that?” he asked, looking around as you hurriedly made yourself as low in the brush as possible.“Who said what?” the lady asked, not seeming to have senses as well trained by survival.“…Nothin’.” The warlord did not need much motivation to give up, “It’s my own mind, tryin’ to talk to me. Something about not hanging around creepy, violent loners for a change. Oh, man, but I’ve been doing that all this time, haven’t I? Coming here was really a mistake, it just put me with more fella like me…”Emma floated down next to you, flickering smugly, “That’s a good place for an Imperial, lying down in the dirt. Ooh, scary look. This is nice, though. I get to talk all I want, and you don’t get to say anything back. Hey, if you’re a dirty peeping tom, don’t say anything…Oh! What a pig you must be to admit that to a young lady like me.”Emma’s haughty taunting had created an opening, unbeknownst to her, allowing you to swipe downwards and trap her in her can once more. It was interesting, you thought as you shut the lid over her, that she couldn’t speak to you through the steel.“…Awright, somebody’s definitely back there,” the warlord tensed up and started to rise.“Who cares?” his escort said nonchalantly, “It’s not like you’ve given them anything to see.”“Barnard?” He squinted into the darkness in your direction, “That you? Piss off for God’s sake, can’t you go ten minutes without sticking your nose around about wanting to go home? Go back and tell me when fancypants wants everybody inside again.”You would let him go on believing you had been whoever Barnard was supposed to be, as you ran off back towards safety with a petulant ember stuffed in a mess tin.
You stuck around for the earlier mentioned fancypants reveille was sounded, and after for when all the important attendees filed out once more after what felt like had lasted until morning, but had only been an hour and a half.The warlords and mayors looked uncertain to a man, but some had a hopeful glint that gave you a small measure of confidence for the future. The last pair out were Loch and Signy, the former of whom was beaming as brightly as usual; you wondered how much of the negotiation was simply him pressuring the less charismatic members of the proposed alliance.“Lieutenant!” Loch bowed dramatically, “Convenient timing. Lord Wossehn wishes to see you about a little holiday. Perhaps a holiday within a holiday? Could one relax enough in such an unheard of event?”“Before that,” you tilted off to the side subtly, leading Loch and Signy away from the multitude, “I wanted to talk to you about whatever…plan, you had, for beating…you know.”Loch peered at you sideways, unperturbed. “Please, Lieutenant. If I revealed my whole hand now, it would spoil the surprise. Have confidence in the fact that, whenever matters have come to blows, I have defeated far more intimidating opponents with less resources than I have now. Child’s play for me, will extend to child’s play for you. Is that sufficient explanation for now?”It wasn’t, but you were forced to accept that it would have to be for the time being. “We will be staying for a bit longer, until you have completed whatever preparations you want.” Loch moved quickly on, “Lady Vang has commanded me to dance with her for a while longer.”Signy responded to this with an annoyed growl and a jab with her elbow, neither of which fazed the oddly bewitching fellow. “I hope that you will not mind parting with your tanks for a a day or so,” Loch said with mock pity, “I do know how very much they mean to you.”Less than he thought, if your history of service were to speak for itself. You didn’t intend to be away for more than a day, however; the Armor of Fate that protected your tank had only increased your confidence in your vehicle’s ability to protect you, perhaps to an unwise level where thoughts of invincibility became present. It was impossible not to feel a sense of peculiar power with all you had at your disposal, though; and similarly impossible not to think about how much easier things would be if you had five copies of your tank rather than merely one.
The thought of the gold hiding away in your tank came rocketing back, as well. “My officers and crews are in charge of their equipment,” you said hurriedly, “There will be no problems as long as you don’t try to strip them of their command.”“Oh, no worry, Lieutenant,” Loch threw up his hands condescendingly, “Your iron thrones will remain in the hands of your boyars.” “Good,” you said gruffly to him, before regarding Signy more gentle and whispering to her, “It wouldn’t hurt him if he were to somehow trip over your ankle, you know.”“Don’t be jealous.” Loch chuckled at you, seeming to have overheard. You thought about saying something to the effect of I’m not jealous, but with a momentary thought, you realized that blow would cut Signy far more than it did Loch, so you stilled your tongue.“Would you two stop bickering?” Signy said irritably, tugging at Loch’s arm, “I’ve had enough of back and forths for tonight. If you don’t cease this, I’m taking whichever one of you is better behaved and going for the ballroom, as far away from that awful meeting room as possible.”“Oh, but I was ill mannered indeed in some of that negotiation,” Loch’s eyes shined as his usual smirk widened into an open mouthed grin. “Your other loyal servant has been patient and courteous enough to deserve some respite from his duties.”Neither you nor Signy paid that proposal any heed, and you walked into Lord Wossehn’s meeting room as Signy dragged Loch away to his fate.-----The meeting room was as dandy as the ballroom, but in a different way. Instead of classical art, the walls were adorned with maps of the lands, oceans, even strange meteorological charts that, from your best guess, were attempts to track the forces of the Great Gales, in attempts to predict when and where they may falter. The walls were a solid, dark green, a painted adobe pockmarked with places where nails and tacks had once held up past articles. Stacks of newspapers filled boxes at the end of the long room, alongside numerous filing cabinets that still somehow were richly decorated and adorned, despite their utilitarian purpose. Those things inhabited the far end of the room alongside Wossehn, but the rest of the room was taken up by a massive, long darkwood table, stained so dark it was nearly black as night, and polished to a mirror shine, with bronze trim about its edges that united tastefully with the candles and other metalwork atop the table. Matching high backed chairs by the dozens lined up on each side of the table; this was clearly where Wossehn did much of his personal business, whatever didn’t take place in the out of place modern skyscrapers outside.
Wossehn, at the end of the room, beckoned to you as soon as you made your way inside, and beckoned more fervently as you tried to sit anywhere but directly in front of him. Flanked by his stoic guards as he was, it wasn’t as if he had anything to fear from you, but you were too used to being seated far away from guests of importance to break away so easily as to only require a single invitation.“Now,” Wossehn said seriously as you finally were seated before him, “This is how our cunning plan will transition from theory to reality. I am sure you recall the basics of the matter, and in truth, there will be little deviation from these simplicities. However, a scant few additional considerations.”Lord Wossehn explained these “additional considerations.” One was his advice on your accent; rather than adopting a rougher one, what he suggested to you was far more drastic.“How much of the Emrean tongue do you speak?” Lord Wossehn asked of you.“Uh,” you replied ungracefully, caught off guard. “A few phrases.”“That is enough,” Wossehn said confidently, “Emre is a far off place from here. Even a poor impersonation of an accent will fool most. The puppet company I have set up for you to represent serves Emrean clients, thus, you will temporarily become an Emrean. Perhaps a mummery of an Emrean so poor that a true Emrean would vomit upon seeing you, but I can tell you that our snobby friends of the northern coasts are not around in numbers to question your acting.”“That’s good to know,” you said, mostly to yourself. The limit of your command over the Emrean language was greetings, insults, swear words, and phrases meant to make women swoon. Not to mention the throaty laughter many mocked Emreans for sporting; hon hon, hon hon.“Aside from that,” Wossehn splayed out his hands expectantly, “It should be as simple as driving in and throwing money about. I have already prepared waivers and appropriately emblazoned cars that will keep you from being shaken down too roughly. All that you truly need to do is consider who you would like your companions to be, and if you require anything other than transportation and fiscal means. Oh, but make no mistake, for the sake of your disguise, you cannot be adorned with everything and anything, oh no. Mere dealers such as you are posing as do not have heavy guard or weapons, for example.”>Any requests for support can be made now.>Also, list whomever you would like to take with you. Your crews and some officers are loitering about outside, watching over the tanks, and there are also Loch’s men about that you could grab. It would probably be unwise to bring more than five, however.>Any other actions to take?
>>1964423I'd say bring our usual crew and at least probably one officer (probably von Metzeler) so someone can recce the place while we're doing the negotiations.
>>1964423I'd say Metzeler is needed commanding our "forces", and our crew will be busy being a decoy, so let's take some of Loch's men. It's their speciality, after all.
>>1964423Those pathfinders that we had planned to let loose, are they with the group? If so bring one of them to map out the area. If we take one of Lochs guys we should ask him first, instead of taking somebody important in the coming days. Actually it might be a good way to plant someone in the city.Id still like to bring Hilda and Malachi in case we need to pull something off. See if we can grab any street plans while were there or if Wossehn has any lying about.What sort of traders were we posing as again?
If we are going to go with the decoy plan it may be wise to keep the tank crew with them. Hilda and Malachi stick out like a sore thumb and we are quite actually walking into Liemanners city.Without them the Decoy party will be less effective and it increases the chance someone will recognize our group even with a snooty Emrean accent.>Support?Ask Loch is we can borrow 1 or 2 of his spies so they can get the layout of the place, or as other anons suggested we can bring a full 5 of them if Loch agrees to the plant agents in the city idea.If he doesn't then we should bring a few Bat Company men plus maybe Jorgen or Hans or Stein. I'd say Von Metzeler but he's been doing a good job commanding the Tankers.As for Wossehn requests? Maybe a few contacts that he has in the city if things get hairy for our extraction? Do Emreans have any distinctive clothing, perfume, jewelry?Any items that would make good bribes? Everyone loves cash but handing off a small ruby is less flashy. >Any other actions to takeSend out the Decoy with Hilda, Malachi maybe give them a few gold bars to grab peoples attention? We need to do something to convince Liemanner to not start cutting off more bits while we prep for the attack.When we have a chance have a heart to heart with Emma about Maddy. Also mentioning to Emma that Maddy is our one opening to getting g her a new body so it's very important to get her back.Also where the fuck is Riverman?
>>1965218Haven't we sent Hilda to recce Todesfelsten?
Okay I'm up.>>1964814>Those pathfinders that we had planned to let loose, are they with the group?Pathfinders? I don't remember any of those...unless you're referring to Neubaum and the people you were going to send with them.>I'd still like to bring Hilda and Malachi in case we need to pull something off. Malachi is around, being part of your standard crew, but Hilda is not; you booted her from your presence to go to Todesfelsen on her own time. The original intention was for her to go with Emma, but that fell through.I'm just going to assume you would have left it up to Hilda as to when she'd take off. If you want to do anything with her, you can have somebody take your orders to her, or just have them taxi her up if you want.Also, I wouldn't recommend taking Malachi if you want him to impersonate any sort of accent at all, unless the accent is "mountain goblin.">What sort of traders were we posing as again?Ginger merchants. Slavers>>1965218>Do Emreans have any distinctive clothing, perfume, jewelry?Richter's got no clue, but he can ask, so I'll write that in.>Also where the fuck is Riverman?Loitering in Todesfelsen, as far as he told you.>>1965231>Haven't we sent Hilda to recce Todesfelsten?Admittedly I missed making a decision point on that when I should have, but it's still night of that day so you can decide whether you want her carted over to you or to have her go off on her own.
>>1965710I thought Hilda was gonna go to Todesfelsten with some bat company pathfinders/scouts to map out the local area, those were who I meant.
>>1966304Right, yeah.I'm going to say they were going to set off tonight, but if you want to divert them (through off-screen pre-arrangements because I didn't plan properly for this), you can. Otherwise they'll likely get there before you do.
>>1966323Its fine if they get there before us, we did ask them to go the afternoon before the party.
>>1966323Let them go as well, more eyes in the city would be a good thing.
“I have some people in mind,” you thought aloud. Surely Loch could spare some of his team of unusual and unique persons? Who knew, perhaps he even had an Emrean you could borrow; it seemed he had a sort from every corner of the globe, after all. “I wanted to ask you for a few things.”“Oh?” Lord Wossehn asked, leaning back, “So long as it is not too extravagant.”“If we are to pretend to be Emrean,” you asked, “Is there anything we could do to improve our disguise beyond the voice? Clothing, perfume, jewelry?”Lord Wossehn laughed hollowly. “Few come here with luxuries of home, unless this land is where their true home is. You are not assuming the identity of those who display their wealth openly, you are becoming those who have little wealth at all. Representatives of richer peoples’ work that said people would prefer to not be visible. All you would be likely of having from your birthplace of a false Emre is your voice and your memories.”“So no fancy bribes.”“Your bribes would be money, directly from your employers.” Wossehn explained this patiently, “Marked paper money that you could not run off with without being found. Why? Do you feel uncomfortable with unsubtle bribery? It is common enough in the local manners, so long as you are not paying for too great a crime. In some cases a superior would be glad that their junior took a bribe to play at ignorance of a minor act. More money that they can skim off of the top like saltpeter from pregnant soil.”“Perhaps.” You grumbled at this; you would have preferred a little more flexibility. No great tactical mind you had studied had ever had but a single trick. “Do you have any contacts in Todesfelsen that we could hide out with?”“None what-so-ever,” Wossehn almost sang, “As I said before, Todesfelsen deals solely with the south. However, you will be kept plenty safe by the false reputation that I have built. While Todesfelsen discourages outside investment, they plenty accept those coming in to have goods sold to them. Your façade will be well documented and built as such to be almost real. Rely upon the name and the company, and you will find yourself in no harm, unles you try something you truly should not. As long as you merely look and probe, you will be beset by naught but peace. Am I transparent?”“Surely a map would not be too great a luxury," you said with fading hope.
Wossehn sighed, stood up, and walked with an arm on your shoulder as he trotted you out his door. “My dear Von Tracht, I know what despair going into a situation without a perfect portraiture of the possibilities can be, but you must trust me when I say that your genuity will be incomplete if you are overly prepared. Steel your mind, and that will fill in for other deficiencies.” The tall man pushed you out his door with a little tap, “I will have my servants prepare everything for your departure by the morning. I have summoned one of my maids to escort you and any compatriots you have to a guest room, for a rest. No businessman arrives late at night, after all. Have a lovely evening!” With that, he closed the door behind you before you could object.Incompleteness of genuity be damned, you thought to yourself, you were a soldier, not an actor.-----That taken care of, you went to see Loch about borrowing some of his men.You found Loch and Signy in the now much-less populated ballroom, sharing it with a scant few guests who crowded around the table of refreshments, pilfering whatever wine and desserts they could think they could take without offending another hopeful too much. A tap on Loch’s shoulder brought he and Signy’s waltz to an abrupt end, though thankfully neither seemed very bothered by the interruption. Loch grew increasingly humored and interested as you explained the developments that had taken place tonight to him, finalizing it all with a request for some of his men; his choice, of course, you could hardly tell who was best for this task among his men. You would have presumed Rune, Loch’s ever present shadow, but you presumed from his title that he misliked being away from his master for long. Loch beckoned subtly to one of his retainers, who came over.The man who came over was an elegant sort, with silver-white hair brushed back, and an elegant, wide, and just as white mustache. The lines on his face indicated a happy life, or at least, that this man had an impressively positive attitude. Aged as his face seemed, he stood upright, and no portion of him gave any indication of decrepitude.“Volken,” Loch waved a hand palm up towards you, and the dignified elder bowed deeply, sweeping a hand to his side, “This is Lieutenant Richter. I would like you to fetch…let us say Arrangement Scales, perhaps with the spare space filled by somebody who can be proportionately violent, should there be a need.” Loch explained the same situation that you had put forth to him a minute ago, and Volken listened attentively.When Loch finished, Volken said, “Very good, sir. May I give permission for the Stormsuit to be utilized?”“It couldn’t hurt,” Loch shrugged and smiled, “We’ll be having them all in there eventually. May as well send one in early.”“Very good, sir.” Volken turned neatly upon his heel and departed briskly.
“Stormsuit?” you asked after the white haired servant had left, “I’ve never heard of one of those.”“Yes, Lieutenant,” Loch said, teasing, “It is what we refer to as a surprise. Do try not to speak of it too often, or it won’t have the proper spotlight when it makes its debut onto the stage.”This man and his surprises. You sighed haggardly to yourself, wondering just how long one had to be around this man to get a straight answer from him.“Are there any other things you wanted sprung from my magic box?” Loch asked coyly.“Loch,” Signy tugged at the handsome man’s shoulders from behind, “Let your servant take care of this, the music won’t play all night.”Loch sighed in mock annoyance, tilted his head back and shook it to the sky. “Forgive me, Lieutenant, but I no longer have any time left for you.”You almost felt your eyes turn themselves inside out for how deeply they rolled into your skull.-----You waited outside the ballroom, enjoying the relative silence that had then been freshly cast over the foyer, the sound of violins and pianos faintly dancing through the vast entryway with haunting harmony. Loch’s man Volken did not keep you waiting long, and a procession of five followed him, mostly strangers but for one that you recognized; one of the members of the assassin team you worked with earlier, the man whom all others called Mask.“Ah,” you hesitantly pointed out Mask to Volken, “He is rather…distinct, is he not?”“Sir Mask is well traveled and quite excellent at disguise,” Volken reassured you, “Make no mistake, that the face he shows right now is actually the closest to what he considers his true one.”Mask, seeming to have overheard you, lifted his mask and stared with flinty, sharp grey eyes, with were slim and imposing upon a hard-edged face that looked like it had been broken from a cliff face. “Ye not needs to be concerned with mine appearance,” he said, “Nor mine affectation. Dye addresses one trouble, mine command over tongues the other, and anonymity the final.”
“As he said,” Volken bowed and smiled, “There is nothing to worry about, not with any of this band. I have heard that you have traveled with less personable folk, in any case.”You could have objected; the assassins seemed quite personable, but then again, you’d never met any assassins to compare them to. Were you an assassin, come to think of it? It would be a funny title to give yourself; you had certainly been involved enough in dealings of death much less flashy than your rank and role on the battlefield would have indicated.Each person appeared to be carrying a heavy briefcase; were they assassins, you would have counted on these innocent looking cases to be carrying a wide variety of armaments, but Volken somehow noticed the exact nature of the glint in your eye, and laughed. “I do dislike to disappoint, but the contents of these cases are not like that of those Feodor and his ilk would carry. Some castles are more easily taken with a delicate, gentle hand rather than a battering ram.”“Sirs?” you heard a light, female voice come from behind. It must have been one of Wossehn’s maids, considering her style of dress. “You are Sir Richter's company, yes?” She was, you weren’t ashamed to admit, an absolutely stunning looking woman, slim and taut of body with a face from a baroque painting of royalty and short, straight raven hair that terminated just below her neck. She was so charming, especially for a servant, that one of Loch’s men whistled at her.The whistle did not humor the maid at all, and her formerly soft countenance turned frigid. “Remind yourself that you are Lord Wossehn’s guests,” she said harshly, “And that your attitude towards him and his workers will be respectful.” That admonishment was returned with silence, and she looked to you. “You are the Sir?”“I am,” you said uncertainly, somewhat intimidated now by what had seemed to be a gentle servant.“I will lead you and your companions to your rooms, now.”-----Your room was the last that the maid stopped at, having left all of Loch’s men in a line of rooms the rest of the way down. She opened the door for you and bowed her head slightly as you passed, before following slightly behind you as you admired the surroundings. It was not as glamorous as the rest of the castle (thankfully; you would have gotten tired of the aesthetic, you felt, had it been absolutely everywhere), but it was a well decorated and clean room, with a bed and armchair that looked soft enough to disappear into and never come out again; something you felt yourself suddenly very much wanting to do now.“Would you like a bath prepared, sir?” the maid asked softly.“No, that’s…” you thought better of it, “Actually, yes. I would very much like that.”“And would you also like…company?”“With the bath?”“…Yes.”
You squinted at the maid skeptically, and she looked offended as she realized what your thoughts were. “I was not making a proposal for myself, sir. Lord Wossehn is accommodating of his guests’…private needs. If you wish it, a working girl suited to your tastes can be found and escorted here, for the night, paid for by the house…”“No, no, that is completely fine,” you said hurriedly, “I would rather just the bath.”The maid, seeming relieved, nodded and began the preparations. When the water steamed invitingly, she stepped out into the hallway, bowed, and closed the door after herself.Perhaps you should have asked about laundry as well. You only realized how stiff and dirty your Grey Gunner ensemble had become once you had peeled it swiftly from your body and had thrown it against the wall, leaving a dusty imprint before sliding to the floor in a grey and beige and brown heap. Emma’s can was also carefully set upon the nightstand by the bed; in hindsight, it was good that you had found her. You didn’t want to risk talking to her while you were at a disadvantage in decentness. The hot bath, as well as some herbs and oils that seemed to have been put into it, took your tense and ragged muscles and shook them out like sheets; sinking into the miniature sea and being embraced by the warmth and tingling oils forced the air from your lungs without your consent, and the sound you made upon leaning back and being absorbed up to the chin was unlike any you had ever heard yourself utter. After a few minutes, your body even tempted you to go to sleep, but you wisely shook yourself awake. The way you could sleep without blackflower, after all, could have kept you in the water until morning and turned you into a walking pink prune.There was a brief alarum raised in your mind as you exited the bath and noticed that your clothes were absent, but calm returned when you saw both a bathrobe and a set of pajamas neatly folded upon the bed, which you quickly retrieved after drying yourself.
Having slipped cozily into the white wool sleepwear, you regarded the can that contained Emma on the nightstand. It seemed to stare back at you with hostility, and you finally gave in and popped the top off, upon which Emma shot out, bitching up a storm.“Could you stop that!?” the little ghost squealed and whizzed about in little repeated circles, “I’m not some bug that you can stuff into a jar! Would you like it if somebody came up without warning and threw a bag over your head? Over and over? No, you wouldn’t, you…you…did you take a bath?”“Yes.”“Mean, mean…meanie!” Emma sputtered, “You promised me a show of skin, and when it would have been normal anyways…bah.”“I’m not going to expose myself to a…how old are you, anyways?”“I thought Imperial…ahem, Strossvald nobility was less prudish about such things.” Emma sulked, her flame dimming and even going darker at the edges.“A fantasy concocted by a perverse and inconsiderate adolescent mind,” you denied her theory firmly. There were marriages, of course, between those of vastly different ages, but young brides were still treated as children up until a decent age. The typical age, as far as you knew, was fifteen for romantic displays and eighteen for anything more scandalous than a kiss. You had heard of earlier ages for both taking place, naturally, but such actions were frowned upon in public affairs, and would certainly earn a noble scorn from his peers if it were discovered. Pairings with younger brides (and grooms; there were older noble women as well, though they seldom were older than thirty at most) were, you heard, closely scrutinized by the courts for this reason. This was part of what made Maddalyn’s physical appearance somewhat of an inconvenience, though you supposed her petiteness could be remedied by clothing that was more lady-like and less girly, and especially by wearing clothes her size instead of tanker uniforms that hung off her like a father’s dress on his child.You’d normally care naught for any of this, but memories of lectures your father had given you long ago had shot back when they suddenly became relevant to you.“Why are you just staring into space like that?” Emma demanded suddenly, “You caught me because you wanted something, right? You wouldn’t have otherwise…”Well then, at least she was attentive now.>Try to get her to fess up about what she’s done; she can’t hide it forever.>Let bygones be bygones; you need her to help you with your next trip, especially in helping Maddalyn, potentially.>She can still be of help to Hilda; send her out after the recon party, that should be in Todesfelsen by now.>Give her a special task; go straight to Maddalyn, before she does anything reckless.>Other things you want to discuss?Yeah I should have had this out much, much earlier.
>>1969647>>Give her a special task; go straight to Maddalyn, before she does anything reckless.After that she can join Hilda's party while we arrive there. If she wants to sate her perverted mind she can go look at some brothel or something we she's there.
>>1969647>Give her a special task; go straight to Maddalyn, before she does anything reckless.As much as I want to roast her about what she had done, we can't risk her uncooperativeness for now.>Emphasise how Maddalyn is crucial if she hopes to ever obtain a body.>Entice her with prospects of witnessing lewd acts between Death Heads and Blue Ribbons>Warn her about potential supernatural dangersI fully expect that the Liemanner in Todesfelsten is another clone who can't see ghosts, but just in case.
>>1969647>>1969654>>1969714Both of these are fine
>>1969647>>Give her a special task; go straight to Maddalyn, before she does anything reckless.>>1969714A floating wisp is fine too!
What if all the Liemanners discovered each other and found out that they're all clones and they reacted poorly and revolted against the true Liemanner and tracked him down and murdered him and then went off on their own and founded a Liemanner Republic and lived simple and peaceful lives to try to make up for their past sins
Okay I don't know what the problem is, but posting right now is absolutely fucked up. Quotations and punctuation aren't going through for some reason.So I'll keep trying, but there won't be a choice soon anyways.
>>1972423Aaand I didn't manage to email myself the whole update. Just fuck my ass sideways.Anyways I'll be back after dinner
>>1972462Fight the good fight tanq.
>>1972462No problems dude
"Yes," you said to Emma, "I have something very important for you to do. Directly east, a little over ten kilometers over, is a place called Todesfelsen. There will be a castle somewhere in there, an old fort. Inside this old fort, there's a prisoner. My fiancée. I want you to go there and meet with her, and tell her that I'm coming for her."What does she look like? Emma asked. Do you have a picture?"No," you said dumbly. Who could blame you for not having a photograph? "She's small, young looking for her age, aboutthis high," you waved your hand at just below your shoulder, "Red haired, and most importantly, you've never been around her but she'll be able to see you anyways. She'll probably be in a locked room somewhere in the fort.""How old is she?""Twenty three.""Alright. Emma said, I guess I'd better go sooner rather than later.""Hold on," you didn't have a good way of stopping her without swiping at her with a metal container, so you were thankful that she heeded you, "I need to mention that this girl, Maddalyn Von Blum, is the best chance you have to get you a body again. So just keep that in mind with this task, and don't get distracted."You had absolutely no idea how true or untrue what you just said was. It was a fair guess in your mind, though. After all, Maddalyn had presumably put a lot of time and effort into figuring out a way to fix her flawed physiology. A horrifying demon was the result rather than a cure for her blindness, but her experience with the subject was still greater than any other person you knew who was both willing to actually help and not senile and demented. "Also," you tried to smile, "This fort has bath houses and many young men and women, the latter of whom are often romantically involved. I think you'd find yourself there somehow anyways.""I'm not some simpleton, you know," Emma sounded unhappy and her flame burned low, "I can help people without needing a reward for every good turn, or even just showing up."You didn't speak your mind on how you felt about that, but instead went right along. "There are also dangers for you, potentially, there. Watch out for anybody who looks strange. Like that man who captured you and brought you to me.""So people who there's two of," Emma answered, "Alright. Can I leave yet?""As soon as you can. Once you're done, you can find Hilda, who should be around there somewhere, and stick around her until I come and find you.""Hey," Emma said, as she headed towards the window, About her...Hilda. It's just that...she's not a bad person, alright?" She didn't wait for your answer, and slipped out of the crack of the window into the night air, quickly becoming indistinguishable from the stars and city lights.Who the hell just changes what characters the site can process so there's less of them? What a pain in the ass.
Despite sleeping without a dose of blackflower, yet again you failed to be spirited away for a meeting with Poltergeist, or even a trip to his vacation home. Instead, there was blissful darknessthough with an indescribable itching feeling inside of your head, that vanished when you woke once more to the sun climbing in the sky and drenching your room with light. When you looked at the clock, it read seven forty five; rather late for your recent standards, but presumably just right for the businessmen you were about to impersonate.Speaking of, you didn't have the right attire for that yet, unless slavers went around in their pajamas wherever they went. That wasn't an issue for long; worn, but normal, clothing, had been placed in a box outside of your door. This was quickly donned; the faded browns and blacks, along with the flatcap, were certainly not fashionable but they did have the quality of disappearing from memory quite quickly indeed. That, and they were at least comfortable.The rumbling in your gut brought about the uncomfortable thought that, with Wossehn's obsession with you maintaining a persona, that you might be begrudged breakfast. This mercifully did not turn out to be the case, as you were retrieved by a servant as soon as you exited the room and brought to a quaint (a relative term, considering the rest of the castle) dining room where a simple affair of dark bread, fruit preserves, butter, and sausage. Not flashy like you had expected, but it very well could be that Wossehn indulged in simpler and easier to consume meals such as this when he felt he did not need to have an extravagant display.Either that or he felt that even poor slaver emissaries could be allowed the privilege of breakfast.Your host was not there, and your compatriots had not waited for you to arrive to begin eating. Accepting this and hastening your own consumption was something you quickly regretted; for how simple the food was, it could not be denied that it was of quality that made you want to weep. It reminded you of home, a place you had not been to in a very long time. Putting aside thoughts of it had become necessary, then easy, then mere instinct as you joined the army. How long had it been since you had written to your mother and father? You didn't admire them as much as other members of your family, but that did not mean you did not love themThinking about this, you managed to give what must have been a performance that inspired confidence in you as you choked on a wad of bread and sausage. The awkward stares you invited at least gave you the chance to catch up to the others as far as finishing went.
"Salutations and splendid mornings to you all!" Lord Wossehn greeted you as you were led outside to him, to a garage that was cleverly hidden in the castle walls. He was dressed for casual business, in a chocolate and white vest over a white buttoned shirt and dress pants. "I present to you, your chariot."It was obvious that he was being extremely sarcastic. The vehicle before you was a truck of middling size, perhaps a one ton or three quarter ton weight capacity, more of a large van than a true transport. It was beaten and chipped, like it had been rolled around the wasteland like bread in flour. The paint was faded from the sun on top, and rust spots dotted its brown paint; on its flanks, a plain black round symbol adorned it, with no text, as if the symbol alone spoke for itself.Lord Wossehn, noticing your interest in the symbol, quickly explained. "That is the insignia of the Conglomerate. Nobody who would be of the troublemaking sort would interfere with a vehicle with that sign, since the Conglomerate are the most willing buyers of any unfortunate enough to be captured and sold. The company you are posing as is a member of the Conglomerate; perhaps I should not say posing as since I am the true owner of the company called the Rosebush. You are official employees, as well, though I am afraid our business is doing very poorly indeed because of its total lack of buying and selling." Lord Wossehn laughed to himself loudly. "Haha, heh, inside, aside from basic amenities and a suitably substantial amount of money, there is an excerpt from a rare and ugly tome indeed. It details the markets, the buyers, what sort of hideous trade is most accepted where and even what aliases are whom needs to be contacted for certain transactions in other places."Wossehn waved a coy finger, "It would be quite unfortunate if it fell into the wrong handswouldn't it? But alas, it is a mere fragment of the whole thing, since those such as you would never have the entire book. I am saving my own copy forwell. Im sure you do not need me to tell you. As far as it concerns you, you have convincing paperwork of transactions made with you. They are all true and exact; unlike those of most in the business. I am afraid that the company really did buy apples and sprouts, instead of using those terms as cruel metaphors."Loch's infiltrators had already begun loading their gear into the back of the van, and the man called Mask had already taken his position as driver. All looked expectantly to you to get in."Have a nice trip," Wossehn smiled at you, "Try not to get a souvenir. Your sort is only interested in one sort of memorabilia, after all."No choices yet, will be coming up.
While the cases of marked bills were of some comfort to you, it was true that they didnt have quite the same power as the gold you had did. You had given permission to Von Metzeler to use it sparingly, if it was necessary, but you hoped of course that it wouldnt be. After all, the less of your war chest you used, the more would be left over as spoils of this whole great journey."So," a soft voice called from the back seats, "Von Tracht, right?""Who?" you asked."No need to play dumb. We heard your men saying your name back in Strossvald."Well, if everybody knew who you were anyways, there really was no point, was there? When you turned to see who was speaking, it was a thin, boney man with a face that seemed to have been stretched out over a larger skull before being put on a smaller one; he was still relatively young, but the corners of his mouth, his eyes, and cheeks all sagged. Ratty black hair sprang out unevenly and formed a loose mop over his head."Since we have some time to ourselves," the man said, "I thought that we should get our stories straight. Our names, too. For convenience, well keep our names simple. I will be Fritz, then the others will be Krag, Hans, Johan, and Mask shall be Rasmus.""Can we use a name other than Hans?" you asked, then shook your head, "Wait, why are you not introducing yourselves with your actual names? I should know those, shouldnt I?""It will be less confusing this way," the one who called himself Fritz said, "We are used to using our aliases in times of crisis. You are likely not. If Hans is a problem, instead of Hans, he shall use Handel. You shall be...Sieg.""Why Sieg?""You are a Strossvalder. Siegfried is your Archuke. Easy to remember.""Whatever." You scoffed at that reasoning, "So what story shall we have?""I was asking you to make it up," Fritz said drolly, "You are, after all, the commander."Damnit."Although if you want a suggestion," the one who had been dubbed Krag said; he was round faced and ordinary looking, but had the smooth, exotic accent of a Delsan, whose tongue was dipped both with the Reich and Emre, as well as the faintest touch of Sosalian, "I would say that we are looking for somebody specific. We are slavers, after all, and need not beat about the bush.">Redheads. The book says red hair is desireable in Emre, so itd be a good fit considering who were supposed to be.>Small women. Were coming from the direction of Glockenblume, maybe we went there and were disappointed.>Were looking for noble hostages; theyre obviously in short supply, and we innocently heard they might have somebody interesting.>Other?
>>1973564>Redheads. The book says red hair is desireable in Emre, so itd be a good fit considering who were supposed to be.
>>1973564>Redheads. The book says red hair is desireable in Emre, so it'd be a good fit considering who were supposed to be.And if they show us redheads and get suspicious when we reject them inevitably we want to see their BEST, not just what they have in stock.Also would it be possible to get more Blackflower? I know Tib would have been the best source for this but I hadn't realized we were out. I don't know if it blocks out Soulbinders too but if Von Tracht is already having doubts about Liemanners capacity it would be mighty fucking bad if he detects us in the castle. Maybe i'm just being meta-gamey paranoid but the lack of dreams worries the shit out of me.
>>1973663>Also would it be possible to get more Blackflower? I know Tib would have been the best source for this but I hadn't realized we were out. You aren't out, somebody wanted to try sleeping without it to talk with Poltergeist and the situation was safe enough to warrant it. If you want a number on your reserves, you've got four nasty gumdrop sized chunks in wax paper left.>I don't know if it blocks out Soulbinders too Well I'm not one to give a straight answer to this sort of thing, but information from several sources you've spoken with indicates that it not only drives away spirits, but also messes with your own presence, in order to keep, as Poltergeist said, "outside interference" from affecting it. How it does so is not clear.Of course, I know how it works, but the exact mechanics of it still elude the character.>And if they show us redheads and get suspicious when we reject them inevitably we want to see their BEST, not just what they have in stock.I'm sure Maddalyn would appreciate that sentiment but she might not be considered the "best" by everybody's measure.
>>1973690Gotcha, thanks tanq.Maybe best is not the right word. Most illustrious? Rarest? Cut above the rest? Maybe we can say we represent a client with a predilection for collecting unique individuals.Anything that helps us pick her that isn't just "that Von Blum chick I know you have in the high tower."Part of me just wants to say one eyed girls but I'm sure we'd be found out.
>>1973702We'll say our client has a fetish for a particular shade of red hair.
>>1973806Only a plebeian wouldn't take that as a compliment.
>>1973707Flat is best afterall
>>1974282>Not wanting to increase Maddalyn's bust by sorcerous means.We could pump it full of supernatural creatures you know?
"Specifically," you think, drumming on the door with a couple fingers, "We’ll say that we’ve come looking for redheads. The naughty book says that Emreans prefer them, and coincidentally, I’m looking for somebody that matches the description. We are Emreans, after all.""That will do, then." Fritz muttered, "...Look, there is the fort, coming up."It was quite telling how close both of these cities were to one another; the terrain became more flat the further east you went, but even in the relative depression you were going through you could still see both the towers of Wossehnalia, as well as the old fort creeping up from Todesfelsen. The city popped up soon after, the old fort sitting on the sole piece of elevation for quite a distance; it bore a close resemblance to many Sosaldtian settlements you had seen, with smaller shacks and roughshod buildings sprouting around the more substantial two to three stories, and a center being found more or less at the largest building. Unlike most other settlements, you saw several moving dust clouds moving about the perimeter; mechanized patrols, no doubt. More appeared to be making rounds at the edge of the city, where what looked like almost a second settlement center was. This tertiary cloddering of shacks and lean-tos converged around great piles of rubble and pits in the ground; mines, without a doubt.On the outskirts was also what was undoubtedly outposts; three of them, each with large, shanty warehouses that must have housed the mechanized fleets of the Death Heads, made affordable, presumably, by their sponsors in the south. The subtle yet still telltale sign of fortifications rose like goosebumps over the dusty grounds as well; even for a Strossvald Battle Line with the support of artillery and armor, this would have been a tough nut to crack."Intimidated?" Mask noticed you squinting at the entrenchments."No," you lied, "Just harboring a healthy respect for the enemy.""Worry not," Mask said jovially, "The tactical acumen of Loch serves him well. The great engagement would not be fought in a clear trap such as this."It wouldn’t take much of a tactical mind to want to avoid this, you thought, but you wondered how much of a choice Signy and Loch really had. Even if the Death Heads were defeated in the field, after all, they could easily retreat to this holdfast and resist many an assault. Loch's men were sickeningly confident in their commander, however, so you could only assume that he somehow had some astounding plan for this as well.
Within some more minutes of driving further, the rough path took you closer and closer to a more substantial embankment. When you came close enough to see into it, you saw the garrison. Most settlements that had manned outposts had only one or two men, but this one contained seven men, and they had a machine gun, but also a beaten up but still certainly usable twenty five millimeter antitank cannon; the infantry variant of the same gun that was mounted in your m/28s. It was an old gun, but still quite popular because of its relatively light weight and by extension mobility. Strossvald used it, the Netillians used it, and quite a few more than those even used it though not in the same numbers. Even the Nauklanders, despite having developed heavier and more intimidating guns, still used the guns in their mountain infantry formations. One other trait of the gun besides its portability was its tiny silhouette; you had scarcely noticed the gun before you were right on top of it. This trait had been used to deadly effect in the 1929 war the Archduchy had against Valsten, and you were sure that it was even deadlier here where the 25mm cannon could lay low the vast majority of lightly armored vehicles likely to attack such a place as this.The Death Heads didn't seem very concerned by your arrival as Mask politely stopped for them, and they approached casually. You found out why this was as they called out to you."We heard you were coming around," the sentry leader, who smoked two cigarettes at once and whose voice sounded like he’d done that for a decade, said haughtily, "Couldn’t come at a better time. All sorts of people we need off our hands. 'Course…you know, gotta check the papers."Mask obediently handed off a very meagerly filled folder to the Death Head, who flipped through the exactly two pages nonchalantly before looking back up and handing it off."Word of advice, try not to get too chummy with anybody," he blocked off several sections of the city with chops of his arm, "Shit’s a bit of a mess right now, with the 'lections coming up for new boss. Old one kicked the bucket, and a whole lot of his seconds didn’t come home either, so all sorts of grubby maggots are thinking it’s their chance. So don’t mess around too much outside the fort or the big guys might get spooked. You hear?">I ahppree-shette ze warning. I’ll be off.>Now wait j'est eh meeneute, I think I went to know a vew more thengs before I do my…che busy-neez.>Ohn hon hon, I theenk we vill have our tour de Todesfelsen regardless…can yoor lead-dehrs reesk the opportunity we breeng? Tell zem zat we will…enjoy our stehy.>Other? (Don’t feel you have to write in the silly accent, I’ll interpose that for you) >>1974320Now I may not know that much, but I think that breasts might lose some of their appeal if they're full of ghosts....well, that's probably about second place on the list of things I'd never thought I'd say.
>>1974641>Ohn hon hon, I theenk we vill have our tour de Todesfelsen regardless…can yoor lead-dehrs reesk the opportunity we breeng? Tell zem zat we will…enjoy our stehy.We have to find Hilda, Emma and Riverman.
>>1974641Oh that accent is terrible. I approve.>Ohn hon hon, I theenk we vill have our tour de Todesfelsen regardless…can yoor lead-dehrs reesk the opportunity we breeng? Tell zem zat we will…enjoy our stehy.>Other?(DAMMIT I HAVE TO TRY)Eef we need to zerch inside ze ceety we vill zeek out yoor zupervizoors, vhoom do we talk too?
>>1974830I second this
>>1974641>Ohn hon hon, I theenk we vill have our tour de Todesfelsen regardless…can yoor lead-dehrs reesk the opportunity we breeng? Tell zem zat we will…enjoy our stehy.Hope we don't have any French anons here lol.
>>1974641>>Now wait j'est eh meeneute, I think I went to know a vew more thengs before I do my…che busy-neez.Frenchify - I dont want to walk into a shooting range, have your people come to blows or are close to it?And who would we have to talk to, to get the tour of Todesfelsen, your leaders will respect the business we can bring them I hope.
"Ohn hon hon," you almost retch, "I theenk we will have our tour de Todesfelsen regardless…can yoor lead-dehrs reesk the opportunity we breeng? Tell zem zat we will...enjoy our stehy."The Death Head's mouth slowly dropped open. "Could…could you say that ag-" he cut himself off, "Well, don't say I didn't warn you.""Eef we have to zerch inside ze ceety," you added, "To zeek out yoor zupervizoors, whoom do oui talk too?""Uh..." The Death Head took a moment to parse what you said, "The fort. They'd be in the fort.""Also," you added once more, "Eez there...exploseev confleect?""Nah. Just posturing. Thank God. Don't need any civil wars starting with that fucking Republic spinning up to the west.""And sei we wanted un tour from se locale?""Don't know. Don't care." The Death Head had ceased caring with that particular question."Merci," you said to him, "Au revoir!"Thankfully, Mask, or rather, Rasmus, took that as the cue to speed away, your information back in hand. Dead silence filled the van afterwards."How did I do?" you asked innocently."If there are any Emreans here," the one now called Krag said with contempt, "they are now converging from a fifty kilometer radius to lynch you.""Good enough, then."
Your party continued to drive the van through Todesfelsen, the roads being thankfully relatively free of foot traffic despite the typical lack of other vehicles for the size of the settlement. It was actually a nice looking place, for Sosaldt. It had the wretched poor, the whores, the ugly thugs looking for trouble as usual, but at the same time the shacks were outnumbered by actually constructed blockhouses and the shiftless poor seemed to consist primarily of dirty children. They did not flee from your vehicle, leading you to think that Todesfelsen at least did not enslave children, and that their current business with you must have been a sign of running out of options. Wossehn did mention that the majority of the hostages were "transient," and that eventually it would cost more to take care of and house them than it would to simply release them into the city and indirectly force them to stay for lack of any better place to easily reach. Better to try and grub some coin from your unnecessary spoils rather than inject a sizeable hostile population, you thought from their perspective.Of course, you weren't just sightseeing, and your companions knew this too, those in the back taking advantage of the situation to point out topology and architecture, and scribbling down notes. You, in the meantime, would be looking for the three people you guessed would be here and waiting for you; Hilda, Emma, and the Riverman.You didn't have to look long for Emma at all, who found you before you could look for her."Richter!" she cried at you, squeezing through the window and startling both you and Mask; every other person was blissfully oblivious to the ball of speaking fire. "Your girlfriend is a bitch!"Mask easily stopped the van, as it had been going slowly anyways, and waved his hand about, gesturing for you to go out to an empty alley. After a brief check to make sure no potential eavesdroppers were too close, you turned your attention to Emma."My fiancée is not a bitch." You said sternly, "I'm sure you can think of much better words to describe her.""Oh yeah, like homicidal maniac!" Emma almost wept, "She tried to kill me!"
"Aren't you already dead?" you asked in a blasé manner."No!...Yes! Shut up!" Emma was plenty excited and not in a pleasant way, "Also, I'm pretty sure I had more boobs when I was alive than she does right now. How old is she? Seventeen?""Twenty three." You didn't pay much mind to the fact that Emma highballed the number you usually got in relation to Maddalyn's theoretical age. "Bullshit.""Whatever." Debating your fiancée's age didn't interest you at the moment. "Did you give her my message?" "She started barraging me with questions..." Emma whined, "and when I came out of hiding to try and answer them, because I thought she calmed down, she tried to blast me with magic again! Like I was some fly that needed to be swatted!"From how Maddalyn had spoken of Embers, you could presume that she probably did indeed think that Emma was a pest to be exterminated."I don't particularly want to die again," Emma sulked, "Especially if it's by some flat chested midget chipmunk's hand. I gave your message, I'm not going back unless it's really important.""Chipmunk?" you hadn't heard that descriptor before."She's got chubby cheeks. Like a chipmunk.""They're not that chubby," you said defensively. "Did you find Hilda like I asked?""Uh." Emma suddenly hesitated, "I did, but I don't think you'll like what she did.""Tell me anyways.""She's got a pretty blue ribbon in her hair now," Emma said flatly, "She looks better with a ponytail, if you can believe it. She probably has some stupid idea like usual.">Doesn't seem stupid to me. No problem. Now come along and help me find somebody else.>Excuse me? That is absolutely intolerable. I want you to go and tell her to cease whatever she's doing at once.>I don't feel I got enough information from you on a few things. Tell me about…(Write in)>Other?>>1974886Tragically, there are no long loaves of bread with crisp crust in your possession right now.
>>1975387>>I don't feel I got enough information from you on a few things. Tell me about how big your breasts were when you were alive.
>>1975387>Doesn't seem stupid to me. No problem. Now come along and help me find somebody else.
>>1975486Supporting; any Death Head trying to do anything funny is in for a surprise, plus she has her escort.
>>1975387>>Doesn't seem stupid to me. No problem. Unless she's actually doing the whole Blue Ribbon thing and not just part of it. Now come along and help me find somebody else.>>1975440sure why not this as well
>>1975387>I don't feel I got enough information from you on a few things. Tell me about…(Write in)What's her plan and where is she currently?Where in the fort was Maddy located?Did you see what type of guards were around her?She blasted at you with magic? How did she do that? (good to know she is capable of defending herself somehow besides creating Demi-Phantoms)Did you feel any strangeness coming from the fort? Anything supernatural?>Other?Keep in mind if we're looking for Riverman we need to keep Emma in the can, no sense in her getting destroyed by him.Also Mask now knows we have Emma, do we want to question him about this?>>1975497It's been awhile, she had an escort with her? Who?
>>1975440...I can't really think of why Richter would be interested in that in the slightest, sorry.
>>1975602The Bat Company people
>>1975387>Doesn't seem stupid to me. No problem. Unless she's actually doing the whole Blue Ribbon thing and not just part of it. Now come along and help me find somebody else.I want to see Hilda with a ponytail.
First snowfall (that's stuck around instead of melting into slush) and I feel appropriately crap so I'll be starting pretty late today, didn't do a lot yesterday for similar reasons. I want to say like in three or four hours I'll get back up and in order.
>>1978809It snowed over here to the other day, but it didn't stay.I'm not looking forward to -50 weeks
I really ought to set some alarms.Anyways, couple hours late. My bad. Writing.
Okay I'm going to delay for a bit longer....Look man, it's giant robots. I can't write with a clear head during that.
>>1980380twitch/megabotsinclmao watching it aswell, I thought that they had cancelled it
>>1980380Clearly it's a sign that Loch has been holding onto Giant Robots as his secret weapon.
Well that was silly.Anyways, back to...well, time to begin, rather.
You gave Emma a noncommittal shrug, "Doesn't seem stupid to me. No problem." So long as she could pretend well enough, it was an edge. Of course, considering what the Blue Ribbons were to the Death Heads...you quickly added, "Unless she's actually doing the whole...Blue Ribbon thing, and not just part of it.""What, the getting to eat and drink whatever you want wherever you want part? The pushing around the townsfolk part? The part where you do basically nothing but sit around looking pretty and living the easy life?" Emma said all this with marked bitterness, "They don't get it that good without doing something the guys want. I think she said she stole what she's got now, but those girls don't like whoever likes blue enough butting in on their deal, and you definitely can't get into the fort unless somebody knows you. If she wants to get any farther like she said she wanted to, she's going to be doing the only part you'd take exception to pretty soon, if not right now.""Hrrm," you growled uncomfortably."What do you care about what she does with her body anyways?" Emma asked, "It's not like you're particularly interested in it. She's not some rich or noble girl who needs to keep oh so pure for maiwwage, she's a hillbilly who lives in a hut by the river and cuts apart animals for her bread and salt, she doesn't have any dignity to even lose with that virginity.""I can't possibly demand for her to make that sort of sacrifice for my benefit," you shook your head and crossed your arms, "It's not about what would be lost, it's where you'd have to be in life to just throw it away for no benefit to you.""What life?" Emma demanded with unexpected harshness, "Are you dense? As to be expected of somebody of your crusty old country, I guess. You've got gold leaf on your glasses and you're surprised when somebody tells you that you can't see anything." Emma flickers for a moment, but her frustration fades. "Forget it. We probably don't have time for me to chew you out."For her to chew you out. The nerve! You agreed, however.
"I don't feel I got enough information from you on a few things," you hurriedly left that subject in favor of harvesting what information you could. "Tell me about your meeting with Maddalyn. Did she have a plan? Where is she in the fort?""I don't know," Emma said without any expression, "She didn't tell me between trying to turn me into vapor!""Sheesh, sorry.""I'll accept that apology so long as I can call her a bitch. Because she is." Emma seemed to approve of the way your lip curled in reaction to that, and went mercifully on. "She's deep in the...I guess it would be the keep. Big, rock square fort within a fort. It took me a long time to go through it all. It was really late, not that you could tell in her room. No view to the outside, and no clocks either. Only way in was through the door; kindergarten queen had me trapped under her bed until the guards came in to drag her away and bathe her! I hope they-" Emma cut herself off, and scowled like only a fire could. You ignored the implication she almost made, because you hardly wanted to dwell on that possibility. "The guards, though. What sort were they? Were they heavily armed?""No. Just big ugly idiots with arms bigger around than their prisoner's waist. If she actually tried to fight them they could just put a hand on her head and smash her into a pancake with one arm behind their back. They had pistols, but I don't think they need them.""Well, couldn't she just, like you said "blast them with magic?" How was she doing that, anyways?" Could Maddalyn shoot magic? You had no idea; anything she did that you'd ever seen required physical contact.
"I would have hoped you'd have known that! You're the one getting married to her!" Emma grouched at you, "I guess blast is a bad word. She had these cloth things with writing on them that she'd smear blood on, then she try and swipe at me with a hand full of...I don't know, it was like fire or something.""Like you?""Not nearly as cute." Emma sulked, "Or personable."Cute and personable indeed. Bah. With Emma's further definition, though, it sounded like something you'd seen Maddalyn do before. Specifically, when she tested out Poltergeist's "weave" by striking it with energy. Then refusing to kiss you as compensation. "She can at least defend herself," you muttered hopefully."I don't think so," Emma intoned warily, "Like...feel this." She floated up next to you and flared; where she was close to, there was a bizarre tingling sensation, like all of your small hairs were standing on end, and pins and needles soon set in. "Doesn't hurt, right? Well, back in the manor, we did that to each other if we got really mad, and it hurt. A lot. I think that sort of thing hurts people like me a lot more than people like you."Maybe so. "Speaking of magic or whatever, did you feel anything...strange, in that fort? Like anything like Poltergeist. The masked man who caught you, I mean.""Not at all." Emma said blankly, "Your bitch girlfriend was the weirdest thing in there. Do you know how messed up her eyes look? It felt awful for her to even look at me. If she had two eyes I would have...I don't know, can a ghost barf?">Stop calling my [insert saccharine pet name here] a bitch. You're going to be coming along with me now to find a weirdo, and I don't want to hear any more of that attitude considering how I expect this other guy's attitude to be.>Thanks for the information. Now, I need you to go find Hilda and make her stop...whatever she's doing. I just won't have it.>Other?Well that took longer to write than I would have wanted. Should I do like I did here and post as soon as I have a chunk of an update or should I wait til I have it all then post it all at once?
>>1980896I'm an impatient bastard so I'd prefer if you posted it in chunks.>Thanks for the information. Now, I need you to go find Hilda and make her stop...whatever she's doing. I just won't have it.
>>1980896>Thanks for the information. Now, I need you to go find Hilda and make her stop...whatever she's doing. I just won't have it.Either method is fine for me.
>>1980896>Thanks for the information. Now, I need you to go find Hilda and make her stop...whatever she's doing. I just won't have it.>Other?If she gets caught we can't help her as we are. However YOU can, stay with her and keep her from doing something stupid. Or at least anymore stupid ideas.(If we send her to find Riverman he might just destroy her on principal, I don't remember if he's seen her before.)>Other?Other?Whatever you prefer tanq, slow updates are good as long you feel good about posting them.And Maddys pet name is obviously Cuddle Bug.
I don't think Hilda is going to be very happy with us if we try to stop her. Maybe we should just let her do her thing and not get into another pointless argument.
>>1981045Im inclined to agree. Im okay with >>1980972 plan of sending EmmaLets go find the Riverman
>>1981001Would you prefer money bags?
>>1981087How about Bright Eyes...Bright Eye
>>1981087Well we don't want her to know we're just marrying for her families money and prestige silly.
>>1981098She's not that stupid, I'm pretty sure she doesn't think we're marrying her for her stunning looks or incredible personality.
>>1981093Tiger Princess?Snuggly Wuffikins?Boo Boo Bear?Wicked Witch of My Pants?
"Thank you for your efforts," you said to Emma, somewhat satisfied with what she had managed to find out. It wasn’t that much, but she had accomplished the basic mission of telling Maddalyn that you were coming; if another Demiphantom popped up, you had no idea how you would have taken care of it. Most likely you wouldn’t have; some goon squad of soulbinders would likely have had to show up, as far as you could guess. "Now, I need you to go find Hilda and tell her to stop...whatever she's doing. I just won't have it.""You think she'll listen to that?" Emma, if she had a face, sounded like she would have been leering right now. "Who exactly do you want her to save herself for? She could really be sacrificing worse things. I don't think it's a smart plan but it's not like she's going to be hanged like you seem to think."Emma had a point. Who were you to dictate to Hilda what was worth the most to her? Would she even listen to you? You got the feeling that she wouldn't and any word of warning from you would be wasted breath, especially considering the disproportionate penitence streak Hilda had become obsessed with as of late. "I don't know," you said with as much indecision as irritation, "At least tell her to think about it, or hold off on committing too deeply.""Snrk." Emma giggled, "Oh, there'll be some deep commitment alright.""Stuff it.""She's trying to!""You know, just because you died a child doesn't mean you can't grow up." Emma's base humor was not helping your wits at the moment. "If she goes too far, none of us will be able to help her. At least do me a favor and tell her that I believe she should think it over more. That's all." You waved her off, "Be careful around the streets here, too. There's a soulbinder...er, wizard, around here, that might hate ghosts. He's dangerous. As soon as you give Hilda my message, come straight back to me. I can protect you from the wizard, so only go a looking if I'm closely behind.""Fine." Emma stopped suddenly before she floated away, and called out to you as you made your way back towards the van. "Wait. There's another thing." You turned around and looked at her, curious. "Hilda...she said that she's been planning this for a while. I think she's given plenty of thought to it. That's all." Emma didn't wait for your response and was whisked away with the gentle breeze.How would Hilda have been planning this for a while? You didn't remember speaking with anybody about the Blue Ribbons, except for the Death Head prisoner. Had she been eavesdropping? Or had she interrogated him herself? What a pain that woman was.
"I want to look for somebody before we head up to the fort," you told your comrades that had been donated by Loch to the cause, "A man. He'll be dressed distinctly, like a mystic, I suppose. I sent him ahead of me some days ago; he might have useful information for us."There were no objections. "Information is good," Fritz said, "What sort if information, pray tell?""Minstrels and spiritualists dance about our planet," Mask said for you. You had a feeling, though, that he knew what you were actually speaking of. "They pass from here to there, and weave in between as a needle, steadily forming grand tapestries to cultivate their repertoire of tales and lessons from.""Sounds like a load of hooey," the one who had been dubbed Krag said roughly, "I'll guess he's not really a minstrel or whatever, tho. That's his cover, innit?"What a convenient excuse that was. You leapt to steal it for your own use. "Yes, of course. He isn't my man, per se, but we have been acquainted with one another, so I can at least trust him to not be our enemy. His disguise lets him move quite freely; heck, I think it would be more suspicious if he didn't travel frequently while assuming that garb."-----Mask courteously drove slower than he had been before, reducing your speed to a crawl. This was also appreciated by the local citizens, who returned the favor by not heeding your vehicle at all and taking dangerous paths around it to shave seconds off their schedule. Eventually, Mask stopped jamming the brakes each time a pedestrian shot out in front of you. You weren't going fast enough to do any more than gently brush against their sides, and if they got mad about that, they'd have to keep it inside. No wise person, by your reckoning, would make an enemy out of men whose business was the markets of forced servitude.
Emma found you, once more, before you found any hint of the Riverman. She didn't enter as explosively as last time, so your driver managed to keep his calm as Emma spoke to you. "I told her," she said flatly. You raised an eyebrow at her; you couldn't speak to the air in here, crowded in with five other men, only one of whom potentially knew what you were doing. You hoped that Emma would interpret this correctly. "What's up with that face?" She asked, "Was I supposed to do something else?" You tried to illustrate further with some vague hand gestures that, once you had done them, just seemed to confuse things further. "...oh, uh," Emma chirped, "She said...uh..." She had happened upon what you wanted by chance, thankfully. "She said...nothing. That's all."Nothing? Perhaps that was to be expected, but at the same time, it was the sort of reply one could give that could mean anything the receiver of the message wanted it to, in this situation."If you're looking for a wizard, or whatever they are," Emma added, "You passed by one a hundred meters or so past. I don't know how you couldn't see him; he's like a pile of fireworks going off.""Rasmus," you used Mask's codename, "Take the next turn and go down a road parallel to this one, opposite the direction we're heading now, and stop in a hundred meters. I saw my contact, but he didn't want to meet in that street."Krag clicked his tongue in annoyance. "You waited til now to say that?""I wanted it to seem like...we didn't know?""You're a crappy liar." Emma said for every other occupant of the vehicle.
Once the van had stopped and you excused yourself, and you excused Emma into her can, you made your way back to where the ember had said she saw the Riverman lurking. It had to be the Riverman; unless there was another soulbinder who couldn't control their energies to hide themselves. That would have been a bad thing, especially here, since said volatility of presence was supposed to indicate somebody was not being tutored, and thus had the possibility of not knowing the particulars of the rules Soulbinders were meant to follow.You encountered him, and he nodded at you in recognition. There was a good reason you hadn't recognized him; and a good thing you hadn't, too, because the Riverman was no longer dressed in a familiar way. He had donned a plain set of khakis with an earthy green jumper, and had shed his bizarre face paintings and jewelry. Were it not for the haughty way he still carried himself and the flickering threads of presence that sometimes shone around him, you would have not recognized that he was a soulbinder at all.The Riverman's greeting was as polite as could be expected. "I thought you would take longer.""What can I say? I live to defy expectations.""I suppose you've sold your loyalty to the Republic, for now." The Riverman correctly, if not precisely, assumed."Would that be a problem if that were true?""For my employers, yes," the Riverman said, "For me personally, no.""Good.""I don't suppose you want to stand about on these dirty streets while we speak?" the Riverman proposed innocently, "I can take us some place more comfortable. You alone, I am afraid, your companions will have to be patient, wherever they are.">What's wrong with the streets? They're refreshingly barren. We'll stay here.>I've already eaten and it's too early for a drink, but I can't turn you down if you're treating.>Other?Also:>Ask the Riverman whatever you like. Some questions might not be a good idea to ask, and some information should be only divulged carefully, although the Riverman doesn't seem to be loyal to his Southern City masters where they cannot touch him...
>>1981487>I've already eaten and it's too early for a drink, but I can't turn you down if you're treating.>Ask about Liemanner. Mostly if he's a binder, but any info is good.>Ask if Riverman is willing and able to sneak/bust Maddy out.>Ask if he would assist in the assault on Todesfelsten>Hint on us paying his debts if he cooperates
>>1981487>Also ask about that poor girl we left in East Valsten. What happened to her?
>>1981511>>1981514Sure why not
>>1981487>I've already eaten and it's too early for a drink, but I can't turn you down if you're treating.>>1981511>>1981514Both are also fine.
Will be back to running in an hour, maybe a little longer.
"I've already eaten and it's too early for a drink, but I can't turn you down if you're treating." You said this hopefully, knowing full well that the Riverman never said anything about paying for you.The Riverman coughed and gave you a condescending sideways glance. "Treating? You must be joking." Father had taught his only son to be persistent in matters of thrift such as this, though, and you stared expectantly at the Riverman until he lost patience. "Tch. I suppose if it gets us away from here.""Excellent."The young soulbinder led you a few blocks away to what on first impression looked like a coffee house straight out of central Strossvald, and he approved of your (relative) awe. "Strossvald may be ruled by the decadent high nobility, but their middle classes have appealing culture. Appealing enough that it has its admirers as far away from the Archduchy as Twaryi, or so I hear.""I hate coffee," you grumbled. "Do they have tea?"The Riverman scrunched up his face so hard his eyes almsot disappeared. "Tea? Tea? This is a city of miners and brigands, what do you think they have? Morgenhafen beans are good and cheap, for what they are. You just need to acquire a taste for them.""I'd rather acquire a taste for something with less of a taste barrier to overcome. Like hemlock."The Riverman saw that there was no avoiding your fine sense of taste, and relented. "Fine. Do not speak like that once we are inside, though. The proprietor thinks quite highly of his brew."------"Markus." You called the Riverman by his name; you weren't going to call him by his silly alias in public."Don't call me that.""I thought you said this was a coffee house.""It is.""What is with all these whores then?"The interior was as rustic and cozy as the outside, save for the multitude of young (and all attractive; apparently the owner could afford to be choosy) women who were wearing what would be rather typical Landhausmode style of dirndls that were cut shorter than their rural inspiration, which was common enough where you came from, but instead of ending above the knee, these womens' skirts hung around the upper thigh and the bosom of the dress was cut far lower than would be considered tasteful exposure. It wasn't an assault on the eye and mind any more, that had worn off on you, but it was not what you expected from this place."They are not whores," the Riverman sounded offended, "They are hostesses. There is no upper floor for any who come a-whoring to retreat to, in case you did not notice.""Whatever." You felt free to speak in your "normal" voice; you had donned false glasses and changed your jumper for a jacket, which was likely good enough disguise for you to drop your Emrean disguise for the time being. It would have been annoying to explain the the Riverman anyways.
There was no line or ordering; one merely sat where they wished and service would come to them. You and your brunch date sat across from each other at a stout little wooden table whose center was neatly covered by a stark white doily, itself bearing the weight of condiments in their own tiny racks. The decor was quite high end for Sosaldt; this place would not have been looked down upon even in central Strossvald, were it not for the "hostesses." It was clearly meant to evoke Strossvald as well; you recognized photographs of the Altossian mountains, and of the Imperial Gate, adorning the white painted stucco walls, below the thick dark hardwood trimming on the ceilings that were carved with meandering flora. One monotone picture depicted what must have been the owner, in ski clothing, grinning broadly and dressed for the weather. It was small, and you could only see it in detail because it was on the wall closest to you. Why go back to Sosaldt if he had been able to come to Strossvald? It must have been a sentimental memory, before having come to this wretched country.One of the hostesses noticed you and made towards you, but seemed to realize something before she had made it over, and turned around. She instead bothered a different, younger woman, and whispered something furtively to her. The younger hostess covered her mouth and gawked at you and the Riverman, before rushing over and almost spilling over a chair in her hurry."Markus!" She cried as she skipped up. She was a cute girl; a very cute girl, if you were to be honest with yourself. Her straight, black hair was cut at her shoulders, and a pair of brass hairpins swept her bangs away from the center of her face, parting them symmetrically. The girl's face was speckled all over with freckles, and she had large green eyes that opened wide and dominated her round, soft face. Below the neck she was practically a stick, though. Her neckline fell lower than even most of the other women (showing that the rest of her was as stippled as her face), but that seemed merely due to a lack of anything to support it. She wore it unabashedly, and you felt the need to avert your eyes politely as she bent forward, putting her elbows on the table, and it draped down, hanging too loosely off of her small chest to result in that sort of movement maintaining decency.The Riverman smiled up at her, keeping his eyes on her face. "Good morning, Tilly."
"Who's your friend?" She asked so earnestly that it was hard to not blush. "You never bring anybody in here!" She next spoke to you, which you couldn't tell at first since you were looking away. "He's so stubborn about meeting people, you'd think he lived in a basement!""Well, I..." the Riverman said uneasily."Well? What's his name?""Sieg," you answered quickly, knowing that the Riverman didn't know your name, "It's...good to meet you." You supposed, at least.Tilly stood up straight again, letting you finally look at her while she talked. "Come on, Markus! You didn't even introduce him, he had to say it himself! That's not very kind." She put her hands derisively on her hips and stuck out her lower lip at the Riverman."He said it before I could," the soulbinder pointed out sullenly."So what'll you be having then, Siegs?" She withdrew a little notebook and a stubby pencil from her dress pocket and crossed one leg over the other. When you took more than a few seconds to answer, she tapped her pencil impatiently. "How about I just surprise you? Nobody ever gets the best thing their first time here.""Fine then," you didn't feel the need to argue."Aaand the usual for the High Roller..." You noticed the Riverman look ever so slightly annoyed by this title, and Tilly returned that look with a smug smirk. "I'll be right back." She did a little jump in place, turning at the same time and sending her skirt flying perilously upwards before she strode away."So..." you broached the subject with the Riverman, "Girlfriend?"He scowled at that theory. "Don't be daft. She is an old friend.""A childhood friend?" You leaned forward and smiled evilly. "A little sister, if anything." The Riverman known as Markus was growing more defensive by the minute. "It is irrelevant. Get on to what we came here for."
"I certainly know why you came here," you couldn't help but say, "but alas. My questions, the ones I came here with, anyways.""Only those, if you please.""Liemanner." You said this with new seriousness, "I want to know more about him, but most importantly; is he a soulbinder?""No." the Riverman said so flatly that his certainty could not be questioned, "He is an entirely mundane sort of sorceror. People call him a wizard, of course, but his brand of magic is not one that is so mysterious outside of, say, the realm of politics, or criminal undertakings."That information was a heavy weight off your shoulders. So Liemanner was merely human, just like you. "Liemanner is not really one man, either. They are many working as one; a single organism, not unlike a soulbinder, in truth." the Riverman waned philosophical, "I suppose that statement makes little sense unless you see it from my perspective. Maybe it would be easier to understand that he, they, are like...a set of identical dolls. They are different, yet they are the same.""Makes sense," you said, before shaking your head, "Not really.""It is hardly important anyways. There are none near us; his reach is only as far as whatever patsies he has laboring for him about here. The last Liemanner north of Morgenhafen died a few days ago, anyways." the Riverman said this nonchalantly, but it was certainly news to you."How do you know that?" you demanded."My employer told me." the Riverman shrugged as if it was no big deal, "the Southern Cities Families are hardly a monolithic organization united against the world. Liemanner is a tool of the closest thing there is to a central authority, but even this central authority has many rivals in what are meant to be its subjects.""...Interesting," you let slip out.
"Here you are!" Tilly returned with a flourish and laid a little tray before the both of you. It was densely populated with drinks for both of you (Coffee, much to your chagrin), and a pair of pastries. "The strudel is Sieg's," Tilly said, "Don't you steal any of it from him, Markus!""But I'm paying for him..." the Riverman tried to contest, but he was helpless before the slight girl's assault."Don't mess up his first time here! I want you to bring him back sometimes so you aren't sitting alone glowering like a gargoyle." Tilly spoke the last two words while waving an emphasizing finger towards the Riverman. Little sister indeed! What sort of younger sibling was so commanding over their elder?The Riverman grimaced and looked down. "Very well.""So what are you two gossiping about?" Tilly pulled a chair up and twirled it about, sitting down in it at the end of its skittering dance across the floor and putting her hands in her lap. She smiled broadly, "Did you run into anything cool on this trip?" She asked the Riverman sweetly."Ah, later..." the Riverman tried to shoo her with one hand, "We're talking about something...private."Tilly's expression reversed for an awful second of misery, but she sighed and stood back up in a flash. "Fiiine. Don't talk too long, though. You couldn't imagine how bored I get of talking about breaking rocks and ore hauling and patrols."The Riverman said nothing as she turned much more plainly than before, with no flipping of skirts as she went and occupied herself gabbing with another hostess."You had more to ask than that, did you not?" The Riverman picked at a flaky, layered pastry drizzled with honey and nuts with a fork idly."Of course. The subject of rescuing my fiancee...""I believe we spoke of this before," the Riverman chopped a piece of his brunch roughly away from the rest, "and the answer is still the same. I will not turn against my employers' associates until my debt is paid in full. If you can somehow do that, then we can come to an accord.""Is that deal negotiable?" You asked with no hope at all."Of course it isn't."Well, if that was how it was, it would be smart to keep the planned assault on Todesfelsen under wraps until you decided on what you wanted to do.>You'll pay off his debts. What else could you do? You certainly couldn't make an enemy out of him again, by threatening his masters' bottom line.>Paying his debts would be ridiculous, but maybe you could get him to disappear from here. If you tell him about the attack to come, maybe he can preoccupy himself with getting those he cares about out, and he wouldn't be forced to oppose you.>Letting any further information go would be unwise. You can't pay him, and you thus wouldn't be doing business.>Other?
As for how much you'd need to donate in gold to pay off the Riverman's debt, exchange rates are a bit iffy when it comes to just hucking bars of gold around, but it would take about 35 to 40 fifty gram bars.You've got 89 bars right now.I could have sworn I said that in the last thread, but when I looked for it, it wasn't there.It would need to have been said again anyways, I'm not about to force anybody to trawl through archives for things the character ought to know off hand.
>>1982979Well that makes things simpler, I was hesitant to hand over all our gold. As much as I want to get Maddy out, it seems to selfish for me to throw the promised payment our men are following us for away.>>1982945>You'll pay off his debts. What else could you do? You certainly couldn't make an enemy out of him again, by threatening his masters' bottom line.Im fine with paying him off, but not before we get Maddy back
>>1982979Assuming in the long run Loch's plan works and we manage to rescue Maddy is it possible to get any cash through spoils of war? If there's a possibility we can get someore cash in the future I wouldn't mind as much giving half our bars.
>>1983005Otherwise,>You'll pay off his debts. What else could you do? You certainly couldn't make an enemy out of him again, by threatening his masters' bottom line
>>1983005>Assuming in the long run Loch's plan works and we manage to rescue Maddy is it possible to get any cash through spoils of war? That would depend on whether Signy, and by extension Loch, would approve of looting. Which itself wouldn't take place no matter what if the city were to surrender, which would be the ideal circumstance as far as reducing casualties would go. Having to beat the Death Heads in the field, then storm the city and castle, and then hunt the rest down, would be quite costly compared to winning a big battle then negotiating for surrender.If they were even willing to surrender. Richter's assuming that there is a strong possibility that war doesn't work the same way it does elsewhere, since in general in Strossvald sacking a city or town is a war crime, and entire units fighting to the death is rare in wars he's familiar with.Appropriation of military supplies, however, is not considered looting.
>>1983051I was thiking of just looting whatever there was in the dirt honestly. I don't think anyone here or Richter would condone looting the town like any pack of brigands but as far as I'm concerned the Death Head's assets themselves are fair game if we can come to an agreement with Signy.
>>1983088Sorry, fort. Stupid auto-correct.
>>1982945>You'll pay off his debts. What else could you do? You certainly couldn't make an enemy out of him again, by threatening his masters' bottom line.
>>1982945Honestly, I just can't trust him enough to pay his debts and assume he'll be honorbound to help us. He would still refuse to work with us past this event as he has those unfortunate loyalties to West Valsten and even if he pays off the debt whose to say they'll let him go? He's a fucking Soulbinder, just how many of those can they have on retainer? I wouldn't be surprised if they came up with new debts or kept the threats on his family to keep him on payroll.And even if they don't know he's a Soulbinder, he's effective and valuable to them for his work so far. AND that's not even including if he presents 35 to 40 gold bars they are going to be very curious how he got them. Maybe not enough to know what our plans are but enough to know that he's been bought off. Unless he waits to pay them back until after our work, but then that goes back to who he got this money from and they'll have received the news about the Death Head attack which may make them hostile to him if they get a whiff of his involvement.So after long of self deliberation:>Other?Offer him a sizable number of bars to go find us some Pearls anywhere but hereand alert his friends with>Paying his debts would be ridiculous, but maybe you could get him to disappear from here. If you tell him about the attack to come, maybe he can preoccupy himself with getting those he cares about out, and he wouldn't be forced to oppose you.He must bring Tilly with him. Non-negotiable, part of the contract. They have to disguise themselves as honeymooners.
You stared at your strudel and pondered its mystery of powdered sugar and apples. Of its buttery, flakey layers and its golden brown sheen.This idiotic meditation was entirely necessary. The gamble you were about to take would have turned your stomach over if you had to think about it too much."Alright," you decided, choking out your reply, "It's a deal.""Good, good." the Riverman relaxed, "...I'd like to believe that you can indeed pay me off, but to be frank, words mean nothing until they are backed up by something material.""I don't have the money with me right now.""I believe you," the Riverman put his elbows up on the table and covered one hand with the other, arms crossed. "We can make an arrangement, though. To make sure you, at least, pay me in the near future. I'm sure you want me to start sooner rather than later."You swallowed and nodded. What was he getting at? "What, isn't my word good enough? I'm an honest man.""Honest men turn to worms in fairly short order in this place." the Riverman said flatly as he seemed to produce a thin, wooden cross from the air, under his hand. Was it an Icon of Scales, the symbol of the Judge's clergy? No, on further inspection, it looked more like the sort of tool one would use to make a marionette dance..."Even without the payment on hand," the cross danced in the Riverman's fingers, and sparkling threads appeared and disappeared between his fingers and the instrument's points, "We can make it good as promised to be paid. A sort of credit, or to be more exact, a pact."You weren't sure if you liked the sound of that, and the Riverman readily saw that you didn't approve of it from your change of expression alone."The terms of the pact are dictated by the one agreeing to it, not the binder," he explained, "You speak your terms. All I do is either agree or disagree. I cannot weasel word you, either; the pact is fulfilled when the person who stated the terms truly believes that they have fulfilled them." His explanation made it seem so reasonable, that you were certain that there was a catch.You challenged him on this. "And what if I don't fulfill my end of the pact?""I state that to you after you speak your terms, and if you agree with my terms, then you have the final say upon sealing the deal.""You didn't answer my question.""A pact is a form of brand, it deforms another's presence to perform a function," the Riverman explained hurriedly, seeming to very much want to procure his freedom instead of explaining every element of what he was to do, "If you do not work towards fulfilling your end of the bargain, the Pact Mark turns your body against you. As a powerful implantation of my presence made more powerful by your consent to house it, if you avoid your duty and are consumed by the guilt of it, the Mark transforms your presence to link it inexorably to mine and you become a thrall."
"A thrall?" You almost stood up in surprise to that bomb, "What the hell is that?"The Riverman thought for a moment about this, as if debating whether to tell you or not, but he decided upon saying, "A being whose presence is identical to that of a soulbinder's. It is the reason I move about so much. If I perform my arts to often around the same people, they steadily become my thralls. I move around to let their presence recover; it takes weeks of using strong techniques to begin the changes, but I prefer to be safe.""I feel like you're leaving something out.""Be patient," the Riverman shushed you, "I am getting to that. Even the lowliest binder below myself knows the immorality of purposely creating thralls without it being a punishment. If a person's presence is identical to my own, I can place them completely under my control, at my will."Ah, there was the rub. "And if I fulfill my end of the pact, it goes away, right?""Precisely.""Well then.""There is no more to explain, then," the Riverman made a small gesture and the icon in his hand vanished, scooting under the table before appearing before you, and snapping up, digging into your chest. "I'll guide you through this, then." the Riverman's eyes turned black, like you'd seen before when he was analyzing presences, "You state your terms, now. As long as you start with "My soul is bound to this duty, and I sacrifice it should I neglect it," then you may dictate whatever. I would suggest something like "I pledge to free you from your debts to the Southern Cities." Also...don't try to be cute. I have to agree to your terms, as well."The cross felt hot against your chest, and you felt tingling threads trying to push through your skin. The cafe had also gone eerily quiet, and time itself seemed to have slowed down; none of staff or other patrons seemed to give a thought to what was happening, if they even noticed it. Was this a good idea? Perhaps not, but if it was worth it...>Well, here goes nothing. "My soul is bound to this duty, and I sacrifice it should I neglect it..." (Write in the rest of the contract agreement)>Hey, wait now, you don't very much like the idea of forming contracts that turn you into monsters. What if he left something out? Or even forgot a part?>Nah, screw this. Either he trusts you or he doesn't; deal's off, no magic bullshit allowed. He can get it in writing on paper like a normal person if he's so insistent.>Other?>>1983227You bring up some interesting points. It'd be pretty bad if it worked out that way instead of wrapping up nice and neatly, now wouldn't it?
>>1984461>>Nah, screw this. Either he trusts you or he doesn't; deal's off, no magic bullshit allowed. He can get it in writing on paper like a normal person if he's so insistent.
>>1984461Is it possible to reverse this promise? As in we give him the gold first and he instead swears to carry out the contract.
>>1984555That'd be awkward to do at the moment since you don't have the gold with you, but you could do that if you, say, told him to go back west and find you.That would mean a delay in your plans, though, on top of whatever delays he might require to take care of business.Also you'd have to trust him to keep his word since, as you're not a soulbinder, you can't force a magic agreement to have him do it or you'll take over his body and force the issue.
>>1984589Wait so for this pact, he also has to promise to honour his part in this right? Otherwise there's literally no point in agreeing.
>>1984615He certainly didn't say anything about that. Best include that as a specification on your end.Basically the way it would (theoretically) work is, if you added "if you rescue my waifu" to your end of the deal, that would imply it would be voided by him dicking off and not doing anything.
>>1984461Although I kinda wanna take his offer because it sounds fun.>Other?QUESTIONS!Will this even work with Poltergeist having weaved our Presence with some of his own? Or did he just manipulate ours to make it more resistant to harm?What happens if YOU don't fulfill the ends of the agreement? Do I have to dictate the punishment here as well?>I pledge to free you from your debts to the Southern Cities.Hold your horses buckaroo, that's pretty open-ended, I'd have to respond with something like "You must protect Maddelyn Von Blum from any and all harm until you are freed from your debts to the Southern Cities." Let's hope that doesn't turn into a life-long debt eh? tanq please, I'm a fat man, my heart can't take these curveballs your throwing us.
>>1984633Okay how about this:"My soul is bound to this duty, and I sacrifice it should I neglect it.I pledge to free you from your debts to the Southern Cities. In return you will pledge to rescue my fiancee safe and sound from her captors, otherwise this contract will be considered null and void."Also if he's so worried about being paid I would like to propose a solution.If we swear to the pact, can we take a loan from Wossehn for the Riverman's debt and them promise to pay Wossehn with our gold instead? We can always get one of his representatives to go to Rostig accompanied by one of our guys ensuring that we can pay the money while we and Riverboy stay in Todesfelsen, since Wossehnalia is way easier to reach than Rostig.
>>1984678>QUESTIONS!>Will this even work with Poltergeist having weaved our Presence with some of his own? Or did he just manipulate ours to make it more resistant to harm?As far as other characters have said, it's only a barrier against attack. Something that resists shock but not necessarily steady infiltration, sort of.Of course you could also trust that Poltergeist, being a master soulbinder could have engineered the weave in a way to resist more subversive attempts as well, but you don't have anything to base that knowledge on other than speculation.>What happens if YOU don't fulfill the ends of the agreement? Do I have to dictate the punishment here as well?I'll put this forward in character in the next update, but so far as the Riverman's actually said? Nothing happens to him. The contract is for what you do, not him.I think if the character has learned anything it's that life gets needlessly complex whenever he's outside of a tank. Maybe it's a silly and questionable metaphor for life in general.>>1984689>If we swear to the pact, can we take a loan from Wossehn for the Riverman's debt and them promise to pay Wossehn with our gold instead? Since you stipulate the terms, yes. There's no requirement to use gold, or even your own money, if you don't say as such.But he also has to agree to said terms so if you're too shady he might not agree.
>>1984461>novice soulbinder who's also an asshole and who's also in the employ of our enemies wants us to accept his presence into our own and potentially become his thrall on the conditions of some convoluted magical pact that he only gave us a hurried 2-minute explanation ofNOPE>>Hey, wait now, you don't very much like the idea of forming contracts that turn you into monsters. What if he left something out? Or even forgot a part?
>>1982945Tilly a cute.Markus a harem protag level dense.>>1984461Wait, he's not dense, he doesn't want her to become a thrall!Well, this turned from cute to sad quickly.>>1984461Let's not forget a couple of important details:Ask him for the amount of his debt."My soul is bound to this duty, and I sacrifice it should I neglect it.I pledge to provide you with <the sum of the debt>,if you rescue my fiancee from her captors and deliver her to me, safe and sound,otherwise this contract will be considered null and void."
>>1984821>otherwise this contract will be considered null and void."I don't think we want to include a nullification clause in this contract, because that would suggest that Markus would have to give us our money back, which he can't do because he'll have given it to his debtors. So a nullification clause basically would just give him free rein to nullify the contract and walk away clean.
>>1984821His debt is 12,000 Union Marks if you check the archives.
>>1984837In fact, even in the absence of an explicit nullification clause, it may be irrelevant because we still don't know anything about how the contract binds Markus. Even if it does compel him in some substantial way, we have no guarantee that he will succeed in rescuing Maddalyn even if he puts in a good faith effort, and he'll already have spent our money by then so we would have no way of recovering our investment. I really cannot stress enough the extent to which this contract is a horrible deal that doesn't provide any clearly defined benefit to us and puts us at great risk of loss.
>>1984851That's only if we pay upfront, which we don't have to do. In fact, we are only going for the contract not to pay upfront.
>>1984878I was under the impression that we have to pay up front because Markus will not take action against the Deaths Heads until his debt is paid. Am I wrong?
Will be starting again in a couple of hours.>>1985311You're not wrong, but he'll start early. If you do things this way you don't have to wait to give him the money proper, since you'll be in a position where you can't do any take-backs, which is presumably what he's most concerned about; getting short changed once he's done his thing.He is a wizard, after all. He likely has ways of doing things discretely without setting off a fireworks show that screams "I've gone rogue now" to his employers. He could even start preparations for things to come, should you decide to exploit the fact that he would be in your pocket for the time being.Again though, this is if you do it this way. Potentially.
I don't like this.He doesn't trust us, which is completely fair from his perspective, we still haven't even told him our name.>>1985553Can't he do a thing with his hokus pokus where we tell him that yes, we do in fact have the financial means to solve his debt it's just in a tank over there and he can see that we're telling the honest truth? This pact seems a bit excessive and unless we get a lawyer the wording will be full of loopholes. How does the presence even understand Strossvaldian!Anyway I'm proposing that he casts a magical truth serum or something on Richter so that he can tell that we are being sincere and will uphold the bargain, even just that is going VERY far just to land a negotiation. Normal people discuss terms and shake hands or write a contract. Just because he's a wizard doesn't mean he has to use magic for every little thing.
>>1985586>Can't he do a thing with his hokus pokus where we tell him that yes, we do in fact have the financial means to solve his debt it's just in a tank over there and he can see that we're telling the honest truth? You could ask him to do that, though the tank "over there" is actually back in Rostig and you're also from a country he doesn't think much of. His actions appear to be hedging against possible deception, such as precious metal being false, paper money being counterfeit, et cetera.As far as what he's capable of with "hokus pokus," I doubt he's about to tell you the limits, although there's probably good reason he's using the most forceful method.>This pact seems a bit excessive and unless we get a lawyer the wording will be full of loopholes. How does the presence even understand Strossvaldian!To quote the Riverman,>" I cannot weasel word you, either; the pact is fulfilled when the person who stated the terms truly believes that they have fulfilled them."So, while the exact mechanics of it are completely beyond Richter, one could infer that it's based on you believing that you've completed your part of the obligation.Unless he's lying, of course. Whether you think he's the type or not is on you.
Regardless of the possibility of weasel words, the idea of entering into a contract when we don't even know how it will be enforced against the other party is ludicrous. A contract is only as worthwhile as its enforcement mechanism, and if we don't know what that is then we don't actually know if the contract holds any value for us at all, or to what extent. If Markus can simply walk away from it whenever he wants then it isn't worth the paper it's printed on to us. We atleast need to ask about that before dictating our terms.
>>1985660Yeah, he weaves it on us, I'm not good at crocheting but what is stopping him from just untangling it from himself later?We can't even see magic, we have to take his word that the spell is complete and actually works the way he says it does.>>1985621>His actions appear to be hedging against possible deception, such as precious metal being false, paper money being counterfeit, et cetera.Yeah, so if he has the magical means to tell that we aren't trying to cheat him I would much prefer that he did that and a handshake rather than something Richter can't see or understand.The problem is we never gave him a reason to trust us, so now we are not capable of trusting him either. Fancy that.
Okay a bit more of a delay as I get myself more coffee and figure out what's going to be done.Still haven't quite woken up yet somehow.
>>1985776>The problem is we never gave him a reason to trust us, so now we are not capable of trusting him either. Fancy that.The magic of friendship would have prevented this.
You looked down at the cross that warmed your breast, then back at the Riverman. "My soul is bound to this duty, and I sacrifice it should I neglect it," you said slowly, "I pledge that I won't be making any deals with you until I know that you can't just squeeze out of doing your end."The Riverman narrowed his eyes at you. "Yes, yes, you're quite the comedian.""I'm serious. I can't lay some curse on you to make you do my bidding, so what's stopping you from just running off with all my money and leaving me high and dry?"The Riverman looked insulted. "Surely I've done enough to gain some level of professional trust?""That was a deal where I paid you after you did something for me," you pointed out, "Here, not only do you want me to do things up front, but you also want to put me in a binding contract where, if I try to get out of it, I turn into you? Sorry, but I don't have enough spare money after this to put myself into debt rolling dice.""That was an unnecessary jab," the Riverman bristled, "You could..." He occupied himself with deep thought, but ultimately sighed with defeat, "I suppose it is true that you have nothing to hold over me.""You could just come over to where I have my funds and take them there, no?" you asked."Perhaps if I were dangerously trusting of people whom I don't even know the name of, Sieg. Metal can be mixed, or plated. Bills can be counterfeited. It would take quite some time to discern whether your payment was not a scam, unless you bound yourself into a contract that would prohibit you from short changing my service.">Well, if we can't trust each other, we're at an impasse, aren't we? Get your cross off of me and I'll be on my way. >Maybe you could exchange one debt for another? I am acquainted with Lord Wossehn of Wossehnalia, he could be our mediator. >How about this? I take your "sister" on a nice long date until you bring me my fiancee. Lover for lover. Oh, excuse me, sister.>Other?Yeah this really shouldn't have taken this long to come up with but I tried a few other things that would have been longer and they didn't really work. This should be the end of this particular line of brainstorming at least.
>>1986204>Maybe you could exchange one debt for another? I am acquainted with Lord Wossehn of Wossehnalia, he could be our mediator.
>>1986204>>Maybe you could exchange one debt for another? I am acquainted with Lord Wossehn of Wossehnalia, he could be our mediator.I think Wossehn would be a kinder master then who he currently works for, what that work is, who knows
>>1986204>Maybe you could exchange one debt for another? I am acquainted with Lord Wossehn of Wossehnalia, he could be our mediator. If we're going to be paying him then we should at least convert those bars to bills, and it's not like Wossehn has friends in the south to care about by supporting Eelboy.Also>The Riverman looked insulted. "Surely I've done enough to gain some level of professional trust?">"That was a deal where I paid you after you did something for me," you pointed out,Hold the fucking phone, he's already been paid in gold bars and he doesn't seem to be complaining about those! I totally would believe he hasn't had a chance to verify their integrity yet, but if he HAS given them to his employers then he's up shit creek without a paddle anyway if they are nothing more than pretty tin bars.We've already shown that we can pay, >shitty FORGERIESaside he must at least believe that we have enough bars to pay him. Why would we offer if we didn't?That and he's a Soulbinder, his job has for the Southerners has been to go and track people down. If we really stiffed him in this then he should have no trouble fucking us over for our betrayal. Sure he can't *magically* wreck our shit but he knows of Maddy, he knows our tankers, crew and maybe even Hilda. He has plenty of hold over us already.>Other?Maybe remind him that no matter how much he may distrust us, if Maddy gets hurt anymore there won't be ANY deal and he can kiss his freedom goodbye. Maybe getting to her asap is in everybody's interest.
>>1986527>Maybe remind him that no matter how much he may distrust us, if Maddy gets hurt anymore there won't be ANY deal and he can kiss his freedom goodbye. Maybe getting to her asap is in everybody's interest.Yeah don't worry I'm sure he'd keep an eye on her.
"You certainly don't seem to be complaining about your earlier payment," you pointed out."Do you know how much gold I have held in my life?" The Riverman countered, "I am merely trying to explain my position to you. A stranger has an incredible amount of wealth, that he got from...nowhere, and he so happens to be confident that he has enough to pay a ludicrous sum like twelve thousand marks? Even the most gullible creature would foster modest suspicions. I have not had the sum you gave me investigated. Only a fool would accept a pile of gold at face value.""If I'm so suspicious and you can't convert gold speedily," you suggested, "Then how about you simply take out a new loan, which I can pay myself?"The Riverman looked at with the stare of one who was speaking with a mad vagrant. "It is a rare creditor who would loan twelve thousand marks at a whim.""Lord Wossehn of Wossehnalia," you revealed, hopefully dramatically, "we are acquainted. If I ask nicely, I am sure it can be arranged."The Riverman downsized you from "mad vagrant" to "dribbling loony." "Oh yes, certainly," he said with thick sarcasm, "Let me ask my friend the Kaiser if it would be alright, first.""I'm serious," you insisted, "You can just float around wherever you want, can't you? Follow me back there and ask him yourself. Since I'll be paying him to take care of this new debt, you won't have to worry about the validity of my funds, and since Wossehn is a businessman you can trust his coin."The Riverman looked as though he wanted to believe you, but an anchor of skepticism drug in the sands of his mind. "This all sounds too good to be true," he muttered."If I'm lying, I can't do anything about you taking out your frustration on all my friends," you said this far more relaxedly than your feelings upon that possibility indicated, "I would have to not only be a dick, but also rather ruthless to play around like that with such risks."
The soulbinder before you stared, then turned his head, squinted at you, seeming to try and look through you. His eyes had turned to their normal, much less disturbing tone, and he finally withdrew his charm from you and scoffed. "Very well. I will follow you back to Wossehnalia, and we will have a deal."Well, that thankfully turned out to be painless. "Good. Oh, also," you had almost forgotten this, "How long would you need before you can break away from your employers and...you know.""Two weeks, maybe two and one half. Simply wiping out my debt all at once would be a suspicious amount of money, certainly, but I have acquaintances who can disguise its nature as the bribe that it is. I can count on some level of protection, based on factionalism in the Southern Cities. The other time would be properly devoting to what you wish me to do. Believe it or no, I am not a miracle worker who can simply snap his fingers and make things so. I can do what you ask, but it would take some preparation, to minimize risk.">Two and a half weeks? Unacceptable. You need him to do this within the week.>Two weeks? That would be fine. You could tell Maddalyn to behave herself, and the Republic would have more time to prepare. More waiting would be unbearable, but it was for the better.>Ask how much he can minimalize that time; and go with the first estimate he thinks he can take it down to.>Other?
>>1986888>>Two and a half weeks? Unacceptable. You need him to do this within the week.
>>1986888Ask him if he can help us before he is officially discharged from his current employer.
>>1987063Define help.He's said before that he can't do anything drastic until he's paid off. He can do little things, but don't expect to be like "okay now grab my waifu stat"
>>1986888>>Two and a half weeks? Unacceptable. You need him to do this within the week.We probably need to attack before they finish their elections, which raises possibilities of using their rivalries against them.We tell him that the city is going to be attacked within the week and Maddy must be extracted before then. Hopefully the distraction will help his infiltration.>>1986762>That pun
>>1987109mmkay missed that
>>1986879Does Richter even know the general timing for Loch's plan? If not would his underlings be willing to reveal it, if not it's contents?
>>1987393Not particularly, other than that it'll be happening in ~about~ a week. His underlings would be...likely either unwilling or be just as in the dark, by your wager, but I'll put it in the next update anyways.Speaking of I'll be working on that now. Nothing to get you back online like falling over and lying dead for a couple hours.
"Two and a half weeks!?" You spurted out, not realizing that time and space had come back to normal, causing your outburst to elicit confused looks. You leaned back and itched at the bridge of your nose furtively until there was less attention on you before next saying, "Unacceptable. It must be done within a week.""Within a week? Ridiculous." The Riverman was about as surprised by the content of your exclamation as he was by the volume, "That will give me shockingly little time to prepare. The chances for failure would rocket up like a firework.""Give me an estimate." You dug a nail further into your brow, "For the chance of failure.""Fifteen percent." the Riverman seemed to decide this arbitrarily. Honestly, that was an acceptable level of risk considering what nonsense you'd been up to in the past. You were sure that your chances for failure in the past had been far greater, and you'd still managed to cheat fate. Even death, truly; thin, faded marks in your chest were an almost invisible reminder of how close but a few shards of metal had come to slaying you. "That will have to do," you threw your hand down, "The less time you can do it in, the better.""Why the hurry?" the Riverman asked, as anybody would have. "Where are you going to be in a mere week?""In my tank, along with a horde of other armed brutes and vagabonds, right up against Todesfelsen's edges, ready to march east."The Riverman needed no further explanation. "In one week? Do you think you can defeat the Death Heads?""No, but my opinion doesn't really matter because it's happening anyways." you sniffed at the coffee and tried to look normal as you took a sip at the horrible dirt water. At the very least, it was still burning hot, so the sheer heat helped to hide the taste behind a thin layer of pain. "I know the movers and shakers of the Republic. If the city surrenders, I don't predict it being harmed at all." Then you thought better of who the occupation force would be, "Well, it would be a controllable level of harm.""I have no time to lose, then," the Riverman stood up, leaving his brunch half done, "I will meet you back at Wossehnalia. Farewell until then." He knocked the coffee back roughly, stood up, and trudged over to Tilly, taking her by the arm and dragging her out the door.You pondered that for a moment, then looked back to the table. You got halfway through your strudel before realizing..."Cunt." He'd left the goddamn bill on you.
The cost ended up being much steeper than you'd expected. Still plenty able to be paid by your spare change, but an uncomfortable amount of it vanished on a venture you hadn't even expected to pay for.You could have dined and dashed, you supposed, but that would have been ungentlemanly.The van was waiting where you had left it, and you let yourself back in to a quiet space. They must have ceased any conversation when you approached."Did you have to take a dump or something?" Krag put forth rudely. It wasn't a question that was meant to be answered, and you didn't dignify it."A fruitful meeting at least, hopefully." Fritz muttered."Quite," you agreed; if they weren't interested in the details, so much the better. "To the fort, now." Mask turned over the engine and you were slowly away towards the city's defining structure. As you went, you asked Loch's men about their knowledge of the battle to come. "The fight coming up in a week," you asked, and they all looked up at you, "Do you know the timings for it? What is the plan, anyways?""If Loch did not tell you," Fritz observed, bored, "Then you are not meant to know. Whatever plans we would be part of would not be something you play a direct role in, anyways.""So you're not fighting in the battle outside the city?" You concluded with some surprise.Fritz smirked ever so slightly, tautening his loose face. "Perhaps. At least, not all of us. That's all the hints you're getting, dear Sieg."
It was worth a try, you supposed. "I feel that I should at least know the basic plan itself," you attempted to insist."You are a Lieutenant, are you not?" Fritz asked."I am.""Does the Lieutenant need to know what is going on in the mind of the Marshall?""No," you said, feeling irritable, "Loch is not a Marshall, he is a Captain.""Come now, don't pretend that you're that foolish." Fritz cooed at you."If Loch is the Marshall, what is Signy?" you demanded."The Queen," Fritz said with no hesitation, "Of course, she would prefer to be Prime Minister, President, perhaps, but this land is not ready for such things. All republics were born from kingdoms- it is a necessary step. Just like one cannot beat iron ore into a blade, so democracy cannot be created without the ore of humanity having been broken apart and refined, purified.""You've picked some terrible iron to try and forge, here," you built on the metaphor that Fritz had presented."Perhaps. But even the most terrible ore can be molten into iron, and that iron made into steel, even if the effort required is tremendous.""Sounds like a big plan," you looked back ahead onto the street. Truth be told, there was potential here; the wars in the past against Sosaldt had certainly shown how frightening the country united could be, despite initial appearances."It would be, if we were to have engineered it from the ground up. The fires were already lit and the forge hot; the smithy was merely ill staffed.""Enough with the goddamn metaphors," Krag said, "Quit playing with the kid. If you're so ready to monologue then talk straight.""That seems to be my cue to stop."
"Accents, everyone." Mask said as the van bumped close to the old fort where the Death Heads made their loathsome headquarters. The walls were not too high, but a fort in the era of Kaiser Alexander hardly needed to be tall. Warfare then had broken away from the stone and rock of castles, and had instead shifted to thick layers of brick and mortar beneath earthworks. The earthworks had been eroded, leaving the brick standing behind, and inside the fort thick, blocky towers stuck over the walls. From the look of the walls, the fort had been expanded, and some of the original construction was now part of the interior. The new walls were still brick and mortar, one could hardly expect to construct a suitable mass of concrete and steel to replace or cover all, but it was still quite a formidable structure especially for this region, even if it would crumble under the might of heavy siege guns and railway artillery.The gates were large, and of course, had been modified heavily. Forts of the era this one seemed to come from didn't have large gates anyways, as they were made in a time when the heaviest transports were pulled by horse and oxen; this new one was certainly larger, made to admit tall trucks and tanks. Flanking either side of it were modern looking fortifications of earth and plate, crowned with old tank turrets that would not have been impressive upon a vehicle anymore, but were certainly respectable in a fortified position. The bunkers were accompanied by trenchwork, razor wire, machine gun positions, all manner of devices to make attacking the fort hellish. There were even slits in the ground where further defenders could hide and not even be spotted until an attack force was almost on top of them. A tough nut to crack, indeed, considering the average strength of gun about these lands.The Red Tide could probably annihilate the fortifications, but such a beast was the prize of the Blood Suns, a faction the Death Heads were on the good side of.The defenses were, as could be expected, only lightly manned with barely enough people to keep an eye on all the materiel. A sentry held up his hand for the van to stop ten meters away, and the same song and dance with the sentries on the edge of the city was repeated.However, this time, you were not waved through."One representative," the head sentry said curtly, "All you need to come in. Rest can wait outside.">Ah, oui, non problem, I will be een un oot.>Honh? But pourqoui? It will be non trabbal, we are teem?>[Hand over a thick wad of cash] Honh, but ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami.>Other?
>>1987902[Hand over a thick wad of cash] Honh, but ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami.
>>1987902>>[Hand over a thick wad of cash] Honh, but ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami.
>>1987902>[Hand over a thick wad of cash] Honh, but ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami
>>1987902>[Hand over a thick wad of cash] Honh, but ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami.
Opposition was entirely expected, but an obstacle such as this was easy to surmount. As Lord Wossehn had said, bribery for little things like this was expected, even encouraged. A thick wad of bills tied up with a twine thread was retrieved from a convenient sack in front, and you passed it out the window towards the sentry head."Honh," you choked on mucus heartily, waving the bills back and forth, "But ou-wee have...permit speciale, mon ami."You were hardly finished saying that when the stack was snatched out of your fingers, and greedily flipped through. The Death Head nodded appreciatively, "So you do. Alright, don't cause any trouble, Rosebush. And keep the vehicle near the entrance, don't need any of the people getting spooked."You didn't see any of the hostages, but all of the buildings had windows, be it proper glass or mere holes the wind whistled through. With the number being held, you guessed, there were simply no closed accomodations for all of them; some would have rooms with a view of the outside, for what that was worth.You were sheperded inside the gate, and made to get out soon after. In the time you waited for the people you supposedly had an appointment with, you looked about the interior of the fortress. A sizeable motor pool and several accompanying storage houses took up part of the center field; these tanks were quite the stock for the region. The most impressive were AdG Volcans; Emrean tanks, that had been exported widely, but whose base model was heavily flawed. These were no ordinary Volcans, though; they were the sort fitted with Nauklander upgrade kits, sold in lesser but still significant numbers by Emre's neighbor after they had bought Volcans, found them unsatifactory, but this being before Naukland had produced equivalent tanks of its own, they still purchased them but developed modification kits. These kits improved the armor, suspension, weaponry, and had a recognizeable all-new turret that would eventually form the basis of the m/28 turret. It was larger, though, to accomodate a heavier gun. The AdG Volcan was large, after all, and tall; it could take the extra weight of a slightly larger turret and heavier armament."Feeling nostalgic, herring?" a haggard voice called to you. Escorted by half a dozen strongmen came an authoratative figure in a black greatcoat worn open over a grey boilersuit, topped with a high peaked cap of a Netillian armor officer, and a high ranking one indeed, but with the normal rank insignia replaced with a shining silver stylized skull with pointed teeth and no lower jaw. He slouched over at the shoulders, and grinned widely showing an array of yellowing, but straight, teeth. His wide nose was missing a chunk, and one of his eyes was pale, a scar across it showing its history of how it came to become sightless. All this was framed on a narrow facial structure that pushed everything together, so that his eyes almost bulged.
"Oui," you answered with a proper mix of haughtiness and disdain you believed an Emrean would have for a Sosaldtian, "Yeu knao why we ahhr here, hm?""'Course, 'course. Rosebush wants to furnish some Emreans with some southern comfort.""Oui, but..." you weighed your hands indecisively, "A sampling, an hor d'Ouerve, is needed. A lady to meezurr ze whole, ah."The Death Head boss parsed your speech, then clicked his tongue knowingly, "Uh huh. I know what you mean. Easy transportation, though to be honest, we'd not mind if you took as many as you could stack in that van. Shit's a touchy subject in local politics, be easier if we just got rid of 'em. Give you a discount, is what I'm saying.""Oui oui, there is un monsieur, who can bee eemprezzed, bott oonly weed...ce fiery fleur."
What you referred to was, while seemingly an innocent term, was actually an extremely dirty and rude way to refer to a red haired woman's nethers. Emreans were known for being rather brazen and lacking in prudishness when it came to such matters, that, and the guidebook had referred to redheads as such, so it was hardly out of place for you to say such a thing.The Death Head leader puzzled out what you meant, "Are we talkin' personality? Or short and curlies?""Oui-wy non deux?""New Nauk, please.""Both?""Hm," the Death head was doing all the thinking, as his mob of lunkheads simply looked about, distracted by whatever (particularly passing Blue Ribbons, who were actually quite modestly dressed for the region) wasn't the conversation at hand. "Hey, you," he stuck a finger into a distracted thug, "Go get me one of those Ribbons, if you like lookin' at her so much. I need to ask her something."The brute didn't need encouragement, and soon came back. The officer, such as he was, conversed quietly with the Blue Ribbon, who looked offended at something he said and exclaimed back loudly;"What, do you think I try and peep between her legs on a regular basis? I'm not into girls, especially not gingers. If he wants to know, he can check there himself. Not like she's going to complain."The Blue Ribbons must have been seriously pampered; this woman's attitude was a display of disrespect to a person who by all rights seemed her superior, but the officer said nothing back, not even an admonishment, as she turned and left of her own accord."...Well, mister Rosebush," the Officer said with pep, after a moment of annoyed silence, "I'm sad to say that we don't have a ton of redheads. Most of 'em are men, one's a mom, and a couple of kids. The kids're earmarked already, for somebody who's gonna come up in a couple weeks, but there's one...eh..." He trailed off, trying to find words, "She's ripe, but we want a little more for her. What's your budget?">We may speek abboux eet, un come to terms >Much, much moolah. Ce monsieur, he is not skimpy with money, although we may be, at ze moment...>Why is ze madmoiselle so especiale? Ze fiery womb, she is magnifique, but not so much for un non feiir price.>Other?Last update for tonight, will be back tomorrow at 4PM EST. Not very exciting day, but, well, we're moving along.
>>1987977>>We may speek abboux eet, un come to termsShit, if we have a chance to buy her now, what do we tell Markus?
>>1987977>We may speek abboux eet, un come to terms. >>1987985Eh,I'd doubt it's going to be that easy, if Wossehn couldn't afford her with what he brought with him.Also we have the other 300 hostages to get out anyways.
>>1987977>We may speek abboux eet, un come to terms>Why is ze madmoiselle so especiale? Ze fiery womb, she is magnifique, but not so much for un non feiir price."The kids're earmarked already"Establishing the Republic is worth it just to stop shit like this. We'll also need to flatten Glockenblume ASAP.
>>1987977>We may speek abboux eet, un come to terms>Why is ze madmoiselle so especiale? Ze fiery womb, she is magnifique, but not so much for un non feiir price.
>>1987993Agreed. We also need to check on the rest of the hostages; see if anyone's bought them yet.
>>1987977>We may speek abboux eet, un come to terms>Why is ze madmoiselle so especiale?
>>1987977>"She's ripe, but we want a little more for her. What's your budget?"He won't even take us to see her if we don't have enough cashmoney for the initial asking price?>My budget depends on the goods available, do not worry. Let me see the merchandise and we can come to an agreement.
Here's the thing, if Maddy makes us our game is blown. We can't be the ones to see her or we risk tipping them off.
>>1988689We can send Emma to warn her. Though Emma'll probably refuse.
So I didn't start when I wanted, and won't be running for a few hours still. Reason being a perfect storm of mistakes and coincidence.So ended up spending all my prep and start time in freezing weather. Fun.
>>1990015Winter isn't that bad. Unless it's -30 and below then fuck that
>>1990027We must dissent.
>>1990027Nah it's still October, not December. Still wasn't completely dressed for 14 degrees fahrenheit.
>>1990027>>1990178Lol as someone who lives on the Equator I can't even imagine living at -30 degrees.
Yeah today was just...I don't even know. Turns out I was sleep deprived too and that fixed itself.I'll try and get an update out tonight but really the spark flew out the window for today when I shut myself outside.
>>1992540Don't push yourself to hard tanq, go play some Vidya or something
>>1992540>>1992593Yep rest is more important. If you need to just sleep some more.
"We may speek aboux eet, and come to terms?" you proposed, "Eez deefcult to judge weeth non eyes, oui, ze fiery womb, she eez magnifique, but not so much for un non feiir price. Why is ze madmoiselle so especiale?" You were thankful that nobody who was personally close to you in any way was near you to hear you say this."Well, there ain't no fiery womb tax," the officer said, "She's high nobility. Some kind of princess or some shit. You know how often a high noble is on the flesh market? Never, that's when. She's a pain in the ass, but that's no reason for a mark down to something unreasonable.""Bonn, bonn, is indeed rare. Monsieur loves a good cuir-ah-seetae. Show moi.""Gladly. Comeon over here."You were first led not to a cell, or a bedroom, but to what appeared to be a waiting room, complete with books whose covers and pages looked pristine; likely through utter lack of perusal. Its fittings were rough, but not uncomfortable, as chairs and tables were in no short supply. A radio broadcast scratchy recordings of some independent station playing shanties, but the signal was so poor that a quarter of the time it faded into white noise."Only one 'a you," the officer beckoned to you, assuming you would be the one you'd have chosen anyways. You saw no reason why not. Certainly Maddayn would recognize you, but you hoped she was smart enough not to show it. "Can't bring you all in, and we can't bring us all in too. Noble girls are fragile, can't risk spooking her or she might get unhealthy. She's already a pain, don't need to start giving her early lines and thinning her hair. It pays to keep 'em comfortable, not pampered, mind ye, but she'll live without candy an' wine.""Unhealthy? Pardonnamoi?""She's shown some strain. Prolly cause she's spoiled." the officer said dismissively, "Nothing a bit of house training won't solve, but that's allll on the buyer's end. We ain't laying a finger on her, I'm guessing your monsieur appreciates 'em in mint condition.""Oui, zat is the case.""Then you won't be disappointed. This way." The officer led you further inside, to a place that almost seemed like a showroom. Likely because, as far as its purpose was, that was likely what it was used for, even if it had been tranformed into one from a normal, boxy room. A rack of costumes was hanging on the wall. It appeared rather sparse; you supposed fancy wear in Maddalyn's size was hard to come by around here, given both her height and figure. You'd have thought an easy solution would have been to use children's clothes, but perhaps that send the wrong message for what they wanted to sell Maddalyn as. "She will be here shortly," the officer made a slight, mocking bow, "Just a wee wait."
The short wait was about five minutes, and soon, an attendant came in, dragging a slender, red haired girl behind him. Finally. Maddalyn Von Blum, in person.She was pale as usual, and her setting-sun hued hair had lost none of its luster. A simple patch was tied around her face, covering the eye that you knew had been cut from her. The Death Head earlier had made no mention of it; presumably he had hoped you would assume she had arrived with the wound.She was dressed in far less than you ever remembered her being; not indecently, per se, but it was clear that her clothes had begun life as underclothing. Her top was a faded blue, lightly ribbed sleeveless blouse supported by thin threads on her shoulders. It was somewhat short on her, baring a slight amount of her stomach between it and the white shorts she wore, and those were definitely sleepwear, since they ended only a few centimeters down her leg. It would have looked almost as if she'd been dragged out of bed, save for the fact that nobody wore stay-up black stockings to bed. Said black stockings were high up her thighs, and they gripped tightly to her legs in a way you couldn't help but stare at; she had enough meat on her legs for the stockings to indent, and the pale skin of that section of thigh, contrasted with the black stockings, just before it was covered again by her shorts...you don't know what it was, but there was something tantalizing about that area."Bonjour, madmoiselle," you said theatrically, standing and striding up to her until you were a few paces away. Maddalyn looked at you, but if she recognized you, she gave no signs of doing so. Her face was dipped in spite, and a familiar tight lipped frown and eyes half closed with contempt were what rewarded your weeks of effort. Then, she spoke a line of Emrean that you had no clue what was.Maybe she was trying to help your cover? Unfortunately, you only really remembered one complete phrase of Emrean, from one of your...more interesting studies. From what you were told, the entire thing approximately translated to asking the female subject if she liked having her hair pulled from behind. Hopefully Maddalyn would understand your difficulty; it wasn't like the guard knew Emrean, judging from his clueless glance after Maddalyn's words to you.You said the dirty phrase, and tried not to wince. You had expected Maddalyn to maybe nod, or scoff, maybe switch to New Nauk for mercy's sake. What you didn't expect was for her to spit in your face.
Rolled 48 + 10 (1d100 + 10)Rolling to hit, DC 75, roll under.
A fat, wet wad of spit shot through the air before you could react, and splattered on your cheek just below your eye. It ran down your face and you tried very hard to continue looking dignified."Ha ha he he," the guard guffawed, "Seems like she likes you.">Indeed. Leave us, I want to...inspect her. No need for you to intrude on what little dignity she has left.>I'd like to speak with her privately. Is that alright?>Is she allowed to do that?>*cuff her across the face*>Other?Don't feel like frenchifying anything right now. Also, yeah, I know, pictures will be tomorrow. Too late right now and I didn't want to put off writing any more.
>>1993337>Zettai ryouikiWe are a man of culture, I see.Also, how the hell did we forget that Maddy can't actually see faces?>>1993352>Indeed. Leave us, I want to...inspect her. No need for you to intrude on what little dignity she has left.
>>1993352>Indeed. Leave us, I want to...inspect her.If need be bribe him as well.
>>1993352>Indeed. Leave us, I want to...inspect her.
>>1993352>Indeed. Leave us, I want to...inspect her. No need for you to intrude on what little dignity she has left
Starting again in an hour.
"Oui," you agreed bitterly, "Nou, leeve oss, I wish to....eenspekt her. Alone.""Uh," the guard hesitated, but it was a brief moment of indecision as his opinion on the matter shifted to coincide with your will as soon as you withdrew a stack of bills from your pocket, flicking through them before the avaricious brigand. "Well, then, uh, don't mind if I do, huh huh." He held out a hand and let you drop the cash into his waiting hand. "He he, have fun. But, uh, don't do anything like...nasty, you know? If you hurt her or mess her up for other buyers, you know, you're gonna have to pay the difference." He handed you a small key, "Her hands're cuffed behind her back, and you prolly need to unlock 'em if you want to get her to take off or put on anything all the way...well, toodles."Maddalyn hadn't said anything once you started speaking in your phony accent. She instead glared at you the whole time, until the guard opened the door to the room once more, and slammed it behind him. You noticed, judging from the amount of new noise while the door was open, that this room must have been quite insulated. There were no windows, or obvious peep holes; whatever took place here would be confidential. Especially since the guard didn't seem to care much about risk to his charge."You aren't really Emrean, are you," Maddalyn asked, with withering disdain. It was strange to hear her thin, squeaky voice weighted with such notes again. You'd grown happily used to not hearing how she sounded when she acted like a bitch...crap, now you were calling her a bitch."Obviously.""If you lay a single finger on me, I'll tell them you raped me and you'll hang." Maddalyn's words felt like venom to you, and your shoulders involuntarily slackened, "The only thing you have my permission to inspect is the inside of your own bowels."There wasn't any reason for her to continue the ruse, now that you were alone. Did she really not recognize you? Sure, you remembered, she couldn't see faces properly, but she did hint at being able to recognize people by their presence, however that worked. Had yours changed? You had been messing about with it a lot recently, you supposed, but she also hadn't recognized your voice...maybe she had more faith in her sight of your soul than the sound of your voice?>Dear, such ugly words wound me. Don't you remember me? Let me get you out of those cuffs. >Look honey, I've been through too much shit to warrant my only greetings being spat on and threatened. A mere thanks would suffice.>After all I've been through to get to you, Maddy? I'm going to inspect you as much as I want. [Embrace]>Other?meh, greyscale looks better for less time
>>1994711>Do you really not recognize my voice? Am I sounding funny?
>>1994764Well, except for one word, you've been talking like some northland ponce. A really awful imitation of one.
>>1994711>>1994764This and:>Other?>I said I'd be back before you know it, guess I was right in a way. Trying to touch her would probably earn a knee to the family jewels.
"Do you really not recognize my voice?" You asked, puzzled, "Am I sounding funny?"Maddalyn's eye twitched, and her lip quivered. "Why should I recognize you? Who are you? Even if you sounded like anybody I knew, which you don't, that wouldn't mean you were them.""Well, I am," you took a step closer, prompting her to take two steps back. You stopped, sighed, and raised your hands pleadingly. "I said I'd be back before you knew it. I suppose I was right, in a way.""...uncuff me," Maddalyn sputtered, "Let my hands free, and let me...touch your face, if you're who you say you are.">Isn't my word enough? I'm Richter Von Tracht, who else would I be? Is it so hard to believe I've come?>I don't think so. I quite like your hands where they are now, you're sounding like you'll try something funny when I free you, and, I'm sorry dear, but that can't happen quite yet.>Do you have to have your hands free to touch my face? Couldn't I just move my face to your hands?>Other?
>>1995029>Remember how you knocked yourself out in a cave to lure in the Demiphantom? I don't think many people know about that.
>>1995029>Remember how you knocked yourself out in a cave to lure in the Demiphantom? I don't think many people know about that.>Do you have to have your hands free to touch my face? Couldn't I just move my face to your hands?>Richter shoving his face up her butt so Maddy can fondle his noseJesus, the balls on this guy!
>>1995048This works and once she recognizes us (I hope) uncuff her.
"Remember how you knocked yourself out in a cave to lure in a Demiphantom?" you asked, "I don't think many people would know that."Maddalyn's eye widened, and her shoulders slumped. She muttered to herself, something that sounded like, "Have I gone mad?...no..." She looked back up at you, her expression one of desperation, "If you're really Richter, and not some trick, or a blaze...why come so far? How could you even be here? It makes...it makes no sense." She slumped against a wall in defeat. "...Free me. I've been doing nothing but being tricked, by my enemies, my senses, and by myself. I don't want to be fooled again...">What trick? I'm sorry, but I can't let you go until I'm sure you won't bite your thumb and blast me with magic or something.>Alright. Come here, then.>Other?I know these have been pretty anemic, but this is a bit rapid fire. Well, rapid fire as half an hour is. I actually wrote a few versions of this but I didn't like them.
>>1995281>>Alright. Come here, then.>I thought you could recognize people by their presence. Is something wrong with mine?
>>1995281>Alright. Come here, then.Apply headpats.
>>1995281>Alright. Come here, then.>I thought you could recognize people by their presence. Is something wrong with mine?
>>1995281You don't have to write an essay every time, it's ok
>>1996159This, I wonder if the blackflower has anything to do with it.
Will be updating soon, didn't mean to fall over and die yesterday but I suppose I had to normalize my sleep cycle eventually.
"Alright," you gave in, "Come here, then." Hope for her to simply see you for who you were had been abandoned at this point. Maddalyn took some shaky steps forward, and as she closed, you reached out a hand and placed it on her head, rubbing the top of her head and letting it slip down by her ear. It had been meant as a gesture of affection, but Maddalyn recoiled from it as if your hand had been a hot iron."N-no," she stammered, "None of that." She turned towards you, holding her arms as far away from her body as she could; you needed no encouragement to unlock her shackles and pull them from her wrists."I thought you could recognize people by their presence." You said as you fiddled with her restraints, turning the key with a loud click and letting the iron rings fall to the floor with a heavy clunk, "Is something wrong with mine?"Maddalyn didn't answer that, instead, she turned around and reached up towards your face, at the same time putting her thumb against her teeth; a movement you knew indicated that she was making ready to prepare an invocation if she didn't like what she felt. You closed your eyes as she placed her hand against your forehead, then letit slide down, tracing her fingers around your eye, your nose, your lips. Another hand soon accompanied it, and soon both of them, shaking, caressed your chin before falling away."But..." when you opened your eyes again, Maddalyn didn't seem happy, sad, or anything but confused, "...Why? All this way for...I just don't...">I don't break promises, or betrothals. It's not the Von Tracht way. Could I call myself a worthy descendant of my house if I left my wife in chains and did nothing?>I've come for you, and a few hundred some odd prisoners. I was ordered to, not that it was something that required much thought.>You might not think yourself worth much, but you'd be surprised how motivating one's weight in gold could be. Well, maybe in your case, twice your weight in gold.>Other?
>>1998352>Those left pectoral and deltoid>Those raised shoulders>That foreshortening>Those fingersKnowing how easy it is to fuck up all of those makes me go NNNNNGHH at this pic.>I don't break promises, or betrothals. It's not the Von Tracht way. Could I call myself a worthy descendant of my house if I left my wife in chains and did nothing?
>>1998352>We're betrothed, of course I came for you. I brought you to the front lines against all common sense, this is the least I can do to make up for that.
>>1998352You know what, I'll switch my vote >>1998381 to >>1998385. I like that one better.
Also just have to note that biting your fingers hard enough to draw blood hurts *a lot*. Hell I dare you guys to try it yourself, I sure as shit can't break skin with my teeth. Maddy must have an unhealthily high pain tolerance or she has sharpened her incisors and I'm not sure which one is worse.
>>1998432I would say the former, mostly because we're talking about somebody who thinks nothing of stabbing herself in the eye.A bit of a freak to say the least.
>>1998385I like this one.
"We're betrothed, of course I came for you," You said this with a hint of remorseful laughter, it seemed obvious. "I brought you to the front lines against all common sense, this is the least I can do to make up for that.""You say this as if you dragged me away against my will," Maddalyn mumbled, "I put myself into danger, not you. You tried to send me to safety, and I disregarded your sense for the whims of my heart. How can you say it is a fault of your own, when I left the place of safety you sent me to?""It would have never been a problem had I not brought you-""Stop making excuses for me!" Maddalyn cried out, "Stop talking like you are kneeling before me! You are not my servant, you are my fiance!""But," you tried to keep your own voice down, as if it would balance out Maddalyn's increased volume, "You left there in the first place to try and help me, didn't you? You had heard that I had been wounded."Maddalyn froze. "How do you know that?""I heard from...friends, and I recieved part of the journal you kept.""Ah, uh, that journal..." Maddalyn hunched her shoulders and grimaced, "...parts of that were lies, just so you know. I'm not so senseless that I wouldn't think that it would be taken from me...but that doesn't matter." She straightened her back again, but kept her head down, "You and I now both know that wasn't true. I thought that, maybe, I could finally do for you what you had done for me, but look at me now. Making you come to this rotten place...I even spat on you..."You scoffed at that. "The sort of person I was pretending to be was a person I would have spat on also." You looked at the door, then at your watch, "You've been through this before. How much time do we have?""You know that too..?" Maddalyn was surprised once more, then crestfallen. "I'm not sure. He said the same sort of thing you did, but then he just talked at me. He left when he'd heard enough.""Plenty of time then," You readily surmised."There is a war, though," Maddalyn fled from that subject, "Yet you are here. Did you..?"
"Desert? Officially, yes." You said this, intending possibly to follow up with the unofficial truth, but you were interrupted by a sharp blow on your cheek as your fiancee's hand lashed upwards and gave you a stinging blow. It was forceful enough that you felt your eyes rock back in forth in their sockets as your head snapped around."Idiot!" Maddalyn cried despondently, "Moron! Even I know what desertion is met with! How can I possibly be worth that?""Lret me finish before you slap me again," you rubbed your cheek dizzily. How could such a small woman hit so hard? "It was officially sanctioned. I face no punishment so long as I return from my mission.""Mission?" Maddalyn echoed, "Of course...there are others. Then...well, I suppose my lack of worth wasn't unexpected...""I had not thought of gracing any of the other hostages with a visit," you pointed out dully."Why, though?" despondence crept back into Maddalyn's voice, lending it an even thinner timbre, "My...adoration, for you, I think it's obvious why that would be the only proper recompense for what you've done for my sake, but what have I done for you to deserve...this. You know little of me...if you knew more, then surely you would have left me to rot here and collected your due from my father. You would have lived comfortably without me, perhaps found a better woman, so why? Is it mere duty? I have to know..." Maddalyn tried to tilt her head all the way down to the floor, to hide it from you, "I am in no place to favor any answer at all, but somehow, I know the answer that I would hate most would likely be the most true. We are betrothed, as you said. Wealth and status don't need to be supported on a back of love. Regardless of anything that comes to pass, I would never spite my duty as your spouse. However...I can't go on with this being a mystery. Everything I thought I knew told me that you had no reason to come for me personally, yet here you are...I want to know why you're here, for me. How am I in any way worth more than what could be gained in my absence?">If you can tell me where to find another one of you, flaws and all, I'll hear it, but I doubt you could tell me.>I have done nothing but what I think is expected of me. Does a dutiful man not care for his woman?>I'd have trouble putting this in words, and you understand better through touch anyways, so here's my reply (Embrace+Whatever)>Other?
>>1998927Just kiss her already! Geez!
I guess everyone agrees or went away? Doesn't feel right to be the only voice here, this is kind of a big choice.
>>1999097Give it time, I don't think most have the time to be around for every update considering how inconsistent I am with speed. As is I think most of you have monumental patience anyways
>>1999112I follow Valen Quest religiously, I know what patience is, despite evidence to the contrary.
>>1998927Kiss her, man!Sorry I didn't see the update in time, like tanq said he's inconsistent so I usually just check in every hour or so.
>>1999120I have it simple since he begins at around 10-11pm so I can catch the first one or two votes, then to go bed and read it all in one go. I don't usually notice the time between updates
>>1998927I guess everyone agrees it's a kiss then?
As long as we don't do anything gross, like hand-holding.
>>1999241I am prepared to be banned for lewd
You had been called impatient, in the past. Looking back, perhaps that was true; your childhood was consumed with dissatisfaction at not being an adult, the academy, while certainly providing of enlightenment, could not have been departed from quickly enough, and you were in a way rather thankful that the chance to distinguish yourself had come so quickly after departing from the hallowed halls of ambitious nobility.It was obvious at this point that your fiancée would require much persuasion, evidence, and unceasing talk to somehow convince her to see herself in a light that was anything but unhealthy. An eternity of words, a thousand of which were said to be needed to equate to a single picture.And you simply did not have the patience to utter even a single word further.Maddalyn's small size made her easy to lift; you hooked your hands underneath her arms, wrapping your fingers around her torso, and picked her up. With her feet dangling in the air, she could not retreat. With control over the field now established, this battle was as good as won.The petite girl was unprepared for this, and squeaked in surprise, "W-what are you-!"No further protests from Maddalyn were heard, as your arms threaded themselves around her and pulled her close against your chest, and you pressed your lips against hers."Mmf..." her last syllable failed to escape, and you felt her heart racing against yours, felt its pace slow, as her body slackened in your arms and she accepted that she couldn't argue against this. Her arms drooped at her sides, and you moved one of your hands to keep her head up as it began to falter with the rest of her. After some seconds of remaining like this, you weren't particularly sure what you were supposed to do next. Did she like it? Maddalyn wasn't doing anything, not holding you, not trying to press herself forwards...were you supposed to kiss her more deeply? Just thrusting your tongue into her mouth seemed like it would be wrong, though. You had to break away for some thought...Maddy's mouth had been quite wet, and a trail of her drool connected you as you pulled away. Was that a good thing? Maddalyn lazily lifted her head and stared into your eyes, her pupils wide and unfocused. "That...that wasn't an answer..."Apparently she didn't want you to stop, so you obliged her, squeezing her tightly against you and moving a hand down her back.This was a mere delaying action, though, a small section of your brain was interpreting this situation as something different from what it was, and it was quickly becoming the only part you could rely on for counsel, since the rest of your mind was terrible distracted with Maddalyn's body. So you hastily had to plan; what next?>Retreat; this is not a field that cannot be committed to at present.>The foe has been caught off balance; strike, but be careful not to throw yourself off balance.>It is a rout! Push her down, escalate, do everything short of making love! >Other?
Page 10 is probably a good place to just start flying by the seat of your pants, of course.
>>1999436>>Retreat; there is an enemy at our back. Fall back and regroup.>I'll save you soon, I promise.
>>1999436>>The foe has been caught off balance; strike, but be careful not to throw yourself off balance.Ask her if she can do the thing Riverman did in the cafe; be awkward if someone comes back.
>>1999472To make it clear just in case, the "strike" involves groping her while she's in the moment.Don't ask, it's just the way autism-battle-analysis metaphor thinking is working for him.
>>1999436>The foe has been caught off balance; strike, but be careful not to throw yourself off balance.H A P P E N I N G
>>1999436>Retreat; this is not a field that cannot be committed to at present.>Other?Make it a fighting withdrawal worth remembering so the enemy does not pursue and initiate a pincer movement.
>>1999832A wise man, and a sound plan.
>>1999832I'm supposing I'm going with this, but......nah, I guess I shouldn't demand that it be defined, that would be missing some of the fun of it.
>>1999472I just realized you were referring to the slowing down time thing.Cute.
>>2000279You didn't have time to really commit, the tiny section of your rational mind decided, however, that didn't mean you couldn't try and put a bit of a flourish at the end...Your hand was already low on her back, a little shift down, and...Oh, my. Hans was right, that was a very nice bottom. Round, and taut, but with enough give that-"Richter?" Maddalyn broke away, pulling back, "Are you...are you fondling my butt?""Yes."After that bit of blunt honesty you carried her forward and pushed her against the wall, moving your groping hand (regrettably) down and lifting her leg by her thigh, and buried your face in Maddalyn's little neck. She squeaked in surprise as you kissed her just below her chin, deeply, and then moved down to her collar, then the middle of her chest, just above where her shift covered her."Nnn..." Maddalyn crooned appreciatively, having forgot all about that transgression against her rear end. A second noise was cut short as you returned to her lips, and you steadily let her down, letting your lips only be parted as the differences in your heights made it impossible to continue, leaving Maddalyn looking up at you, chest heaving, and her lid heavy on her eye."I've..." Maddalyn panted, "I've been waiting for you to finally do that...""I asked you to kiss me before," you pointed out while brushing her hair out of her face, "and it seemed like such a problem."Maddalyn pouted at you and waved a hand in front of her face. "I can't aim. And...I wanted you to do it to me.""Does it matter who does it to who?""Yes, it does, dummy!">Well, back in your cuffs you go, then. I've inspected you about as throughly as I care to right now. I'll be back for more...in a week or so. Wait for me til then.>I'll let you have your arms free for now, but don't behave too well to these jailers. I'll be getting you out soon, I promise.>You're a bit of a dead fish, you know? Work on that before I get back, because I'll be back sooner than you know it.>Other?Ended up with a combination, I guess it's tolerable.
>>2000285>Well, back in your cuffs you go, then. I've inspected you about as throughly as I care to right now. I'll be back for more...in a week or so. Wait for me til then.
>>2000285>>Well, back in your cuffs you go, then. I've inspected you about as throughly as I care to right now. I'll be back for more...in a week or so. Wait for me til then.
>>2000285>I'll let you have your arms free for now, but don't behave too well to these jailers. I'll be getting you out soon, I promise.>Other?I've hired the one who marked you to help get you out of here. Expect him or the Ember to contact you soon. Also please don't try to zap her, she has been very helpful.I was referring to her wrapping her around us and preventing us from escaping but Richter's particular 'pinching' maneuver on her derriere is better.
"Well," you fished in your pocket for the key to the cuffs...and didn't find them. A panicked pat down revealed nothing, but a quick glance to the floor revealed where it had gone. "...Well," you resumed, having picked the instruments of Maddalyn's restraint back up, "Back in cuffs you go, then. I've inspected you as throughly as I care to right now.""Do I have to?" Maddalyn complained in a mutter, then she turned her head with you as you moved around behind her, "Wait, can't you do that from the front? It's uncomfortable to have my arms behind me like that for a long time.""It'd be better for our friend to think I never let you out at all," you said, pulling an arm back and closing a shackle about her wrist, "Besides, if your arms are behind you, it forces you to stick out your chest."Maddalyn flushed and creased her brow, staring down at herself. "Not like that makes much of a difference..." She let you pull her other arm back and lock it in place. "When can I expect to see you in something more decent than underclothes?""Oh, I'll be back for more...in a week or so," you put your arms around her more and squeezed her, "Wait for me til then. I'll be getting you out soon, I promise. In the meantime, I've hired a soulbinder to help get you out of here.""A soulbinder?" Maddalyn repeated, warily."Some schmuck called the Riverman. He marked you, back in Salzbrucke, but he's had a change of heart concerning us. Expect him or the Ember...her name's Emma, to contact you soon.""An ember too!?" Maddalyn snapped and wrenched herself out of your arms to face you, "Do you know what those things turn into? They're dangerous! A soulbinder, too! Didn't I tell you to-Mmf!"You interrupted her with a short kiss on the lips, which shut her up, unexpectedly."Huh," you observed the sleepy expression she had adopted upon being kissed, "You rather like being kissed, don't you?"The glaze over Maddalyn's eye faded, after which, she shook herself and glared at you. "Don't think you can get away from everything with that! I've told you how bad an idea it is to deal with that ilk.""It will be fine," you assured her, "Also, don't zap Emma, the ember, or whatever you were doing to terrorise her. She's been very helpful, and I would rather you not destroy her as payment for good behavior.""Hmph," Maddalyn's former haughtiness returned and she blew some hair out of her face, "For now. Don't you expect to keep "her", though. She might seem cute now, but she'll turn into something that's almost half as bad as a Demiphantom if you aren't careful.">Anything else you want to do before calling in the guard again?>Plans for the city before you leave it?>Other things?I want to try and end the thread off on some further development than gratuitous Maddy Make Out Session, after all.
>>2000755Ask her if she can put her eye back if we return it to her later. Other than that I think we can GTFO.
>>2000831Yeah talk to her about her eye, if my wife lost an eye, I'd be devastated.
>>2000755>>2000831This and>Anything else you want to do before calling in the guard again?Make sure we aren't visibly marked by her slap, don't want the jailer thinking we're conspiring with her.>Plans for the city before you leave it?Send out Emma to stick with Hilda and keep her out of trouble for awhile and as a line of communication between us and her. Talk to Loch's men and see if they need to see anything else in the city. A generous bribe to the Death Head in charge asking just how many other buyers have come by. Both as a 'slaver' gauging the competition and to see if any other Strossvalders have been taken away.
"Another thing..." you looked remorsefully at Maddalyn's eyepatch, "Your eye...""Oh...yeah," Maddalyn's face fell, "I wondered why you didn't ask about that, but I guess there's only one reason you'd already know. I thought they'd send it to my father, but...I'm still burdensome, aren't I...don't kiss me for that!" She snapped as she pulled back, after you laid your hands upon her shoulders."I have it, yes," you said, not taking your hands off of her, "You can put it back in, can't you? It's still...alive, I think? It watches me.""I've never tried putting something back that had been taken out completely," Maddalyn said uncertainly, "Even with that girl who had her eye stabbed, that was only a little bit after it happened. This isn't like then, it's been a long time. After enough time, you can't..." "But you can, right?" you tightened your grip on her involuntarily.Something in your voice must have betrayed your feelings on the matter, since Maddalyn ceased sounding uncertain and smiled up at you in a way that seemed too broad. "O-of course I can! There's still the little spirits, from what it sounded like you said, and if they're there, I'm sure it'll be fine, since it's not dead flesh."You hoped Maddalyn wasn't lying to you to make you feel better. The desperation you had heard she was in didn't make it sound like she could simply pop them back in, but then again, maybe that was because she faced the risk of being sold and taken far away from any hope of getting her eyes back."That's good," you nodded, then you poked at the tender spot Maddalyn had left on your cheek from striking you, "That slap you gave me just now, did it leave a mark" When Maddalyn simply blinked at you, you corrected yourself. "Sorry. Here's hoping then, I suppose." It would have been helpful if there had been a reflective surface somewhere, but even the costume rack pole was wooden.
Thinking about marks, though, you suddenly noticed you had left one on Maddalyn. A dark spot had appeared, right in the middle of her chest, where you'd given her a noticeable hickey. Had you kissed her there long enough for that to happen? You supposed time had a way of flying by when you had your face buried in a girl's chest."Er," you pinched the straps of Maddalyn's top in your fingers and started pulling it upwards."Agh!" Maddalyn reeled back and did her best to hunch over as she escaped your hold, "What are you doing?""You have a love bite there," you poked her in the middle of her chest, "the guard shouldn't see that, if we're to keep things discrete.""Nobody looks at a chest like mine," Maddalyn said harshly, "Besides, if you pull my shirt up any further my navel shows."You looked down at her stomach, a slight strip of it bared because her shorts were too low and her top too high. A moment of silent observation followed. You shot your hand out and tugged the bottom of her blouse upwards-"Stop!" Maddalyn protested, trying to pull back but failing to keep you from lifting her blouse up to the bottom of her breast and exposing her bellybutton."It's cute," you mumbled."Knock that off! You pig! Let go of that!" Maddalyn squirmed. She couldn't keep you from hiding the evidence of your affection, nor from having her navel displayed to whatever audience would peer into it. "There's a coat right over there! Just use that!""Oh." But that would have meant you would have had to unlock her cuffs to put her in it, and it would have been strange nevertheless. "I'm going to get our friend, now. Just remember; I'll come back for you."Maddalyn's anger vanished and she nodded, a look of hope and dread mixed into an ironic shade that distorted her face.You went and opened the door. "Monsieur!" You called, "I am finite!""Fini," Maddalyn corrected under her breath.
The guard bumbled back in, and didn't even give passing notice to Maddalyn, despite her fretting over her state of dress. "So uh...you like?""She is...maigre," you said with mock derision, and Maddalyn fumed silently, "Honh, but mi masteur, he would lauve ze madam. How much?""How much? Uh..." the guard scratched his nose, "Dunno, talk to Cranick about that. Last guy I hear offered ten thou, and that's not really worth it for us.""Twenty thou-sond?" you probed delicately, but with a voice of confidence. "Whatever you ahsk, mi monsieur will doulboux, fah-see.""Talk to Cranick," the guard said once more. "I weel," you assured him with a nod, "Merci, un bonn dae, madmoiselle!"Maddalyn scoffed, as she should have, but the corner of her eye already had a wistful glint to it.-----"You like what you see?" the Death Head officer in the black cap and greatcoat, who you now knew was called Cranick, smirked at you eagerly. "Rather, you see something you think your boss will pay a hundred kay for?"One hundred thousand union marks for Maddalyn? Hell's bells."Honh, posiblex," you tried to barter like a proper merchant, "Maybe ninetee?""Ninety five.""Ninetee Dwaux""Ninety...four?" Cranick frowned as he puzzled out your mangling of what was meant to be two, "We could agree on that. Come back with that, you hear?"
"Oui," you agreed, willing to let there be an easy end to false negotiations, "Un muah," you beckoned to him, and led him to your van. A quick flip of a handle, and the rear hatch opened, allowing you to withdraw a small case of cash, roughly the length of your forearm and half as tall, with a secure, heavy lock. If you and Loch's men had counted correctly, and if Wossehn's notes were true, this case contained ten thousand union marks, each with a colorful printing on it that made it easy to track, should it be stolen; business money, meant to either be in a vault or traded. No petty sum, but certainly enough for a member of the Conglomerate like your slightly-less-than-fictional employer Rosebud was a part of, to throw about for political gain. You opened it, and showed it to Cranick. The money was reflected in his empty eye, and his greed was reflected in his tightening face, his eyes bulging more as he grinned. "A gift?" He posited sardonically, "I suppose I'll accept, but it'd be rude to not return such a favor. It's your birthday today, yeah?""Monsieur, every day can be a birthday.""So what do you want?""Mi monsieur is scouting ze marketz," you said sagely, "Zis market eez one of zem. Tel moi about any comers who seeked to buy, un eef you sold any, and for how much...""Just independents, really. All locals. Nobody who's in your Conglomerate, or anything like that, no." Cranick closed the case you proffered and hefted it up, "Of the lot we've got, we've sold a few. Mostly girls, some men to the mines to shore up their stock of muscle. Nobody's set to go far for a while, you're only the second guy to come here for a foreign custom. First guy was some ponce who snubbed everybody but the blue blood. Funny sort, sent him away when he couldn't pony up even a fifth of our price for her. Didn't want anybody in his price range. Good slave we read runs you three hundred to a six hundred marks, not unfeasible for a guy with a good amount of money here." "Merci," you bowed gracefully, hiding the fact that your teeth ground together and your lip curled, "I weel be onna moi way then. Au revoir, monsieur!"It wasn't all bad news, to be true. If all the current buyers were local, that meant you wouldn't have to look far. Small comfort that you and Wossehn had been the only people to come from "afar," and given how lacking in distance Wossehnalia actually was, it gave you hope that nobody would arrive and buy much before you and the Republic could put an end to this heinous gang's activities once and for all.
Well, I thought about doing more, but on second thought, it's probably good to just call an end to the thread. It's page ten, it's a Sunday, it's probably for the best to not extend unnecessarily and let the writing at a transition point suffer. I'll go over the other things you wanted to get done with in the next thread before kicking you back to the Republic.If you weren't around earlier or think of anything else you want to do in Todesfelsen, go ahead and post it.I would say that Maddalyn officially won the Trachtbowl, but there wasn't really a contest in the first place among the interested parties, was there?
>>2001622>there wasn't really a contest in the first place among the interested parties, was there?Why limit the contest to the interested parties? The true winner, Mathilda, has yet even to compete.
>>2001739Too bad her sister is a total bitch the only time we met her.Though honestly I'd prefer if Maddy has a more... "mature" body.
>>2001760Filling her boobs with ghosts remains an option.
>>2001760DESU, a flat chest is one thing, but if she were taller then I'd doubt everyone would see her as jailbait.
>>2001776I don't think we can make her taller with ghosts.
>>2001776To be honest*
>>2001779I know, this is more talking more about general taste than actually making her grow taller in story.
>>2001622Route locked a long, long time ago