You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of Panzers by the authority of the Archduchy of Strossvald, and you had recently captured a city, defeated a powerful foe, and laid before the newborn Republic the headquarters of what could have been their greatest foes. This had been done by your plucky group all the way from Strossvald, along with the jewel of the Republic’s armed forces, the 1st Armored Battalion. You should have been absolutely beside yourself with glee, but…you were anything but. The seizure of this city, the past battles, the triumph of the Republic, none of that had been your mission, after all. You had not been sent here for any purpose like that; all of that had been frivolities, in hindsight. Good and just, of course, you had no doubt that you had done anything but the right thing, but now the primary objective of this whole adventure was in reach, and it was the only matter left to address in this godforsaken country before you could righteously return home.Yet you were so very apprehensive about it all. Something would turn out wrong, you could feel it, but you weren’t sure what just yet.Fuzzy memories swam up in your head, concerning what could happen to the prisoners once there was no contract to hold them hostage. The cost of keeping them wouldn’t be worth it, you remembered briefly discussing with Lord Wossehn, and they’d be let go, perhaps even allowed to join with the Death Heads or their affiliates. Could that have happened? Could the people you had come to rescue have been so impatient, or uncaring? Surely they could have set aside their wills, be them avaricious or desperate, for just a little longer, so you could keep them from such a decision?Lord Wossehn had described such prisoners as “transient.” With their common blood making the chances of satisfactory ransom an impossibility, they’d be added to the local stocks of manpower over time. A thorough count would have to be made of the….you checked your long unchecked mission papers for details…two hundred sixty one…two hundred sixty, now, Strossvalder hostages, to make sure nobody was missing.
During this final resolution, you had had the battalion and your allies dig in and hold, in case any hatred was aimed your way, but none came. The alert was relaxed, then canceled as gunfire waned from a storm into something akin to droplets falling from leaves, and you finally entered the much storied Fort of the Death Heads, for the second, and hopefully final time.It had gone by many names on your way here. Skull Palace, a name so gaudy that the only person who referred to it as such must have been Selgess the Skull and his compatriots; it had scarcely ever been referred to as such hereabouts, perhaps a grim sign that was ignored for too long. Others had called it a castle, though when you had looked at the place, it was more akin to an Imperial era fortress than a post-Nauk castle; Lord Wossehn’s palace was far more that than the Fort was. Perhaps the interior told another story, being described as “opulent.” It did have baths, which was rather luxurious for how rugged the exterior of the place was. If Maddalyn wasn’t blind she could have told you. Your knowledge of history did offer an explanation. Although the current Kaiser, Henrik, was well known for making enemies of many of the Grossreich’s former nobility, his ancestor Alexander was far from an inspiration for that agenda. As part of the Grossreich’s attempts to craft the world into a cultural mirror of its homelands, Czeissan nobility was given large tracts of land to dominate. Forts such as the one in Todesfelsen wouldn’t have been uncommon in that time, though many had been torn down since, the continued presence of such an oppressive symbol being intolerable to nations whom had liberated themselves from what they represented. In any case, they were built to satisfy those who inhabited the places, and though lacking in certain comforts, must have been more than most Sosaldtians were used to.At the gates of the fort, you were greeted with the gladly familiar sight of Bat Company troopers you had sent with Hilda initially to aid Loch’s infiltration of Todesfelsen. Though your reuniting with them (as well as them with their fellows) was a pleasant note, their news was…much the opposite.“It’s a real shit show, Lieutenant,” one said warily, “We need some help. These damn rebels’ve been doing no good and they’ll keep at it unless we get some disciplinary action started.”“No good? Such as what?” you demanded sharply, “Has anything happened to the hostages?”The Bat Company man shook his head. “Naw. Loch’s folks kept them safe, but all sorta hell’s come down on everybody else, the ones with the blue decs especially. Shit, Lieutenant, they’re just poor girls. Didn’t ask to be raped, killed, hell, both. Loch’s guy said we couldn’t do nothin’ about it either. ‘s bullshit, needs to be dealt with.”
“I’ll have a word with the commanding officer here about that,” you said sternly, “Actually, you. Bring him down to me, I’ll be looking over our primary objective.”The Bat Company trooper saluted and turned on a heel to carry out your command. Your tanks were brought to a rest within the fort’s walls, your m/32s particularly grateful for the chance to sleep…hopefully not desiring to die, though. A guide was found, and you were led to the ad hoc prison structure. Your crews and Bat Company men were set quickly to examining the hostages, reaffirming them of the Archduke’s notice of their plight, counting them, and tallying the wrongs done against them.Already something felt off. The prison was as grand looking as ever, certainly capable of housing the hostages, yet when all of them were rounded up and placed outside for easier sorting, you could have sworn that there should have been…more of them. This dread was quickly confirmed.“Count again,” you demanded as the number relayed to you was far from satisfactory. “What the hell do you expect, Lieutenant?!” Von Walen, the messenger, chafed at your blunt tone. “We’re not so dumb we miscounted seventy six people!”“I know!” you snapped, “Just…do what I say.”Von Walen scoffed and rolled his eyes, leaving you to puzzle over this new revalation. Two hundred sixty prisoners, and now, near a quarter were no longer here. A full fourth! Something had to be wrong. Perhaps others were being held in another place, even though the structure that had been cleared out was plenty large for all the hostages to be contained, if not exactly comfortably. To compound your stress, Loch’s agent called Fritz stepped up quietly, and cleared his throat.“You appear distraught,” he pointed out coolly. “Your precious hostages, there are less than you thought you would find? There is no need to fret. Nor to glare at me so. There are records that can be accessed to find the answers you seek.”“Then get them!” you growled, but Fritz shot back a withering look that made you involuntarily slump. “Von Tracht. You are not my superior, may I remind you.” The venom in Fritz’s voice practically burned to hear, for a moment. “There is little need to cast your stress upon me. A polite request would be more suiting to somebody of your…character.”“Please,” you acquiesced, “I must know where these missing people have gone.”Fritz pursed his lips and nodded, beckoning you along. It turned out that the records he spoke of had already been collected, sorted, and even had additional information scrawled upon them.
“Sixteen females selected, eighteen volunteered,” you read flatly, “Twenty two males freed to work in mines under supervision. Ten accepted draft into the home guard. What does this mean?” You asked this, despite already knowing the answer.“Their captors offered a deal, and they accepted,” Fritz shifted the page away, and pointed to another beneath, “Their names, and who they went to, even where. They will be easy to find, should we find those they served under. Also, may I remind you,” Fritz peeled back the other page and trailed a finger along the bottom, “Ten of younger age transferred for credit. To a trader heading west.”“Glockenblume.”“Perhaps. One trouble at a time, Von Tracht.” Fritz was uncaring of your irritation, which tempted to set you off more; yet your anger was well controlled, hot but within iron bounds, a forge to temper a blade of suitable vengeance. “A deal, Von Tracht,” Fritz picked up the papers and whipped them against an open hand, ”You lend me the vast amount of soldiers you have brought with you, and I will lend you my fellow agents. We help one another. Is that acceptable?”Of course it was.-----The first folks to be found and identified were those who had been residing in the fort this whole time; new members of the shady group of female associates of the Death Heads, known as Blue Ribbons, for their signifying decoration. Sixteen selected, eighteen volunteered; out of a total of two hundred seventy hostages, far from the majority, especially if “selected” meant there was no choice in the matter. Still, it was disturbing.Even more disturbing, and horrible; of the thirty four…nine had turned up dead. All had been raped, some multiple times. Something that had happened to nearly all Blue Ribbons, you had been told; the haughty faux-ladies had been infamous for exerting the influence of their mates over the less fortunate of the city, often in cruel ways. That didn’t make this any more right, of course, but these disgusting deeds had been claimed to be just debasement. As if there was such a thing.The hostages whom had stayed in closed captivity hadn’t been touched; but it hadn’t been known that there were others for Loch’s men to guard, others who had been let out of their cells to mingle among their captors. The women freed from the prison were haggard, but hopeful; all who had torn ribbons from their heads had emptiness in their eyes, and huddled together away from the rest, who themselves cast spiteful glares towards them. Glares you couldn’t bring yourself to imitate, even if it may have made you feel better. It had been your responsibility to rescue them; and you had not inspired hope. This was a failure, bitter and harsh.Yet there was a way to right some of the wrongs.
Strossvald military law dealt harshly with mistreatment of civilian populaces; looting was punished severely, as was general violence and coercion; purposeful slaughter of civilians was met with summary execution. Rape was punished by death, as well. For the common soldier, at least. Nobility was required to pay a fine instead; for several reasons, most of them obvious with a bare minimum of thought.Already your men had reported occupying militiamen in the fort bragging of their misdeeds; it would be easy. Their pride in their monstrosity would be their undoing, you thought coldly; any seasoned officer of Strossvald would not hesitate. A much needed example to the rest, and some small comfort to the wronged.But this isn’t Strossvald, a small voice whispered from within, And you no true arbiter of justice in these lands. These criminals did what they pleased out of a sense of vengeance. Would you do the same and claim to be motivated by any better morals? >This is not a question of morals, but reality. You were in no shape to provoke your allies; this was no longer your battle. Any punishment was the Republic’s to hand down, not yours. Could you really risk another battle so soon after the last had ended? What if all your hard work was nullified through agitating the militias who had aided you? An unacceptable risk.>Have the offenders and likely subjects rounded up, force them to confess, and summarily execute them. You would suffer no rabid beasts near you, let alone in the future of Signy’s beloved dream of a Republic. It was the right thing to do, anywhere, not just where you came from.>Demand retribution from the ranks of the militias. Perhaps they wouldn’t take kindly to such, maybe they would do nothing, but something had to be done. You couldn’t take matters into your own hands, but neither could you stand idly by.>Other?----------->https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh>past threads in pastebin. Twitter is @scheissfunker for announcements and some other bullshit>https://pastebin.com/k8yuNeuS>Miscellaneous information pastebin. None of this is need to know, and if you have questions then feel free to ask in thread.
>>2512802>But this isn’t Strossvald, a small voice whispered from within, And you no true arbiter of justice in these lands. These criminals did what they pleased out of a sense of vengeance. Would you do the same and claim to be motivated by any better morals?Are these our thoughts or is this possession?
>>2512802>>This was no longer your battle. Any punishment was the Republic’s to hand down, not yours.>You would suffer no rabid beasts near you, let alone in the future of Signy’s beloved dream of a Republic.But she has already allied herself with Glockenblume
>>2512802>Have the offenders and likely subjects rounded up, force them to confess, and summarily execute them. You would suffer no rabid beasts near you, let alone in the future of Signy’s beloved dream of a Republic. It was the right thing to do, anywhere, not just where you came from.
>>2512802>>This is not a question of morals, but reality. You were in no shape to provoke your allies; this was no longer your battle. Any punishment was the Republic’s to hand down, not yours. Could you really risk another battle so soon after the last had ended? What if all your hard work was nullified through agitating the militias who had aided you? An unacceptable risk.These aren't our people to exert authority over and it isn't our duty to oversee execution of justice in the Republic. None of it supports our original mission. Let's get our hostages and get out.
>>2512957>Are these our thoughts or is this possession?It is an internal doubt, not a voice planted within. Though it is a sort of tone you've seldom heard from within.
>>2512802Give Fritz command if our guys, he is the spokesman for the republic here, if he wants to met out justice for the republic sure, that's his call
>>2512802>>Have the offenders and likely subjects rounded up, force them to confess, and summarily execute them. You would suffer no rabid beasts near you, let alone in the future of Signy’s beloved dream of a Republic. It was the right thing to do, anywhere, not just where you came from.Strossvalders are dead, this directly involves us, and I doubt these revenge killings won’t stop when we leave. Send a clear message- savagery and exploitation shall be dealt with harshly. Glockenblume won’t worry about a few debtor dogs catching a bullet to the back of the head, they’re more concerned getting run out of business by the Republic.
>>2513321Sorry was in a rush just got out from seeing Avengers.Just want to clarify, I'm all for cutting and leaving, this is now republic business and we're just basically mercenaries here. Fritz wants 1st Battalion to presumably instill some order okay, their his. But we need to prioritize getting our hostages loaded and ready to move before this place erupts into another blood bath.The hogs can be called in now to provide security OUTSIDE the fort while Fritz gets to the executions. I don't trust the Hogs inside the fortress. They might just take it themselves and Signy would be back where she started.
>>2512802>>Have the offenders and likely subjects rounded up, force them to confess, and summarily execute them. You would suffer no rabid beasts near you, let alone in the future of Signy’s beloved dream of a Republic. It was the right thing to do, anywhere, not just where you came from.War crimes are war crimes, even when the victors commit it or how much the victims are supposed to 'deserve' it.
Also out of curiosity do we know roughly how many people were involved?
Update soonish.>>2514287I'll have it written next; once everybody's rounded up and ratting one another out.
The decision was hardly an easy one to come to; not that you disagreed with the potential punishment, but rather, that the authority on such judgment as you wanted called down would have ideally been left up to the Republic, not you and your band. What was expected of you, though? Strossvalders had been killed, violated, and your charges could not go unconsidered even far away from home; even moreso because of the distance, even. That, and these sorts were venom in the veins of the Republic to come; Signy was your friend, after all; no matter how idealistic her scheme was, it would be irresponsible to her, as well as the people who supported it, people whom had died supporting your mission, to allow this blatant transgression to go unpunished.There was one last person to ask a favor of for this, though.“You,” you found Fritz again and addressed him. “I will leave the battalion, minus my own complement, with you here. I have no further need of them, I only wish to take myself out of this wretched place with my countrymen as quickly as possible. Before that, though…” Your heart turned to stone, elsewise you wouldn’t be able to say the next part properly. “…Justice must be meted out.”Fritz tightened his lips. “Are you mad? The band who helped in the capture of this fortress were blood drunk. If you were to attempt to execute all guilty, you would find yourself in the midst of another battle. Those who partook in the barbarities were far greater than those who did not. Some fools earlier gave out their own form of justice; it nearly set us against one another right there. You may have the benefit of superior strength now, but you will not find a clan here who’ve avoided staining their honor in some way or form. You would have justice in exchange for chaos, in a city only beginning to see a break in the storm besetting it.”
“What would you have me do, then.” You asked coldly, “Return my folk home dishonored, unavenged, for the sake of scum who only had the good fortune of being on the winning side?”Fritz peered at you disapprovingly through slit eyes. “If you must have blood,” he said lowly, “Then at least consider the fragile politics of the moment. Execute those who murdered their victims. You will have a pretty few; they did do their deeds in gangs. Then have the rest of their leaders lashed, caned, so long as you stir regret and not terror.”“…I will think upon that,” you turned about and left with a scowl. The investigation was brief, and conclusive. Rumor traveled, and the vilest of the criminals did not hesitate to tell all who would listen about their sins; they did thing such ugliness as just as it was satisfying, after all. Testimonies were collected from the traumatized young women, and you had your lists of descriptions, names, and deeds. Nineteen who were in the gangs who had murdered their victims; three of whom who were leadership. The ringleaders of the rape gangs on the other hand were a significant portion of lower leadership; nearly twenty eight to be lashed, out of a sum total of eighty in positions of leadership in the Iron Group. They had not been made wary by the revenge that Fritz had mentioned carried out earlier; they had won, what was there to do but gossip and wait for the grand celebration?Would you have your way the last event they would attend would be their executions. Enough anger, you told yourself, this was necessity, pure and simple. A message would be sent to all who would think of acting the same way, and ultimately, for one show of force, much less suffering would be felt by all.>Only execute the nineteen murderers; they will be enough.>Perform the executions and give the ringleaders of the other gangs the lash. Perhaps you couldn’t punish all who took part, but the ones who had caused the most hurt the most would feel it repaid.>If executions would bring about the wrath of your allies, so be it. Lashings for all, though the murderers would receive double.>So few, for so much agony wrought? No, you could do better. The Iron Group men were in a state of being off guard; have your last command with the Battalion be for them to all be rounded up, select the most guilty among each of their subunits…and purged. There were one hundred seventy, you certainly had more people, and were better equipped.>Other?
>>2514487>If executions would bring about the wrath of your allies, so be it. Lashings for all, though the murderers would receive double.To clarify since the wording here is awkward; with this, nobody gets killed. It's like, "so be it, nobody will be executed then, if that's the way it is."
>>2514487>Perform the executions and give the ringleaders of the other gangs the lash. Perhaps you couldn’t punish all who took part, but the ones who had caused the most hurt the most would feel it repaid.
>>2514487>>Perform the executions and give the ringleaders of the other gangs the lash. Perhaps you couldn’t punish all who took part, but the ones who had caused the most hurt the most would feel it repaid.
>>2514487>>If executions would bring about the wrath of your allies, so be it. Lashings for all, though the murderers would receive double.
The first step was simple. These militiamen, after all, were but miners for the most part; they held no particular loyalty to a comrade who was suddenly being escorted away for “questioning,” even if they were nominal leadership. Hell, some of them may have even been rivals with their own crews. In any case, rounding up all of the guilty, whether or not they had been condemned to death (outside of their knowledge), was easy and quick. Unlike what came next.Posts were easy enough to find, as was rope to bind those who were to be punished; proper lashes were harder. Eventually you settled for a mix of those and improvised canes. The manner of the beating did not matter; nor did the experience of the lasher. The Blue Barbs were to be handed this task, it was decided; flogging was an ugly punishment, only allowed in Strossvald for rather heinous crimes. Officers were certainly instructed in the circumstance where which to do it, rare as they were, but the amount of practice was nil; and you would rather not disturb your officers with having them learn a form of corporal punishment on the fly. So it began, as the sun made its downward descent from afternoon the golden skied hours of early twilight. None were made to attend the handing out of punishments, but it had been clearly announced to all, and the militiamen were hardly doing anything else. An announcement, they must have wondered, what for? Additionally, the thing would be happening in the center of the fort; it would be difficult to not notice it, hear it, especially with the amplifier that had been procured for your speech.The first were the guilty leadership of the rape gangs, stripped to the waist and gagged, tied to poles with their backs exposed. The crowd was confused, but knowing, as they saw the whips and canes, and looked nervously and murmured to one another, unsure of if this would be their own fate to come.“Gentlemen,” you called out, having taken up the duties of command, which included this…affair. “Despicable acts have been perpetrated, sullying the good name of the cause which many have fought and died for. Acts that have violated, injured, and killed those undeserving. For this, those responsible must be punished. Only the most guilty are to be punished; though I urge those of you who feel their own guilt, to watch, to know that this is what is done to those who wound and destroy for the sake of vice.” You turned to the Blue Barbs minders, testing their implements in the air. “For the crimes of disorderly conduct in excess, including rape and violence against noncombatants, I sentence these men to be flogged fifty times, after hence they will be released.”
The sentenced protested, tried to shout, but they had been gagged and were unable to do anything but moan and cry as red and purplelines were beaten across their backs, as lashes slashed wet red marks in skin, blood dripping down backs. Not all of them were done at once; merely ten at a time. For this reason, the beatings took some time. Your officers excused themselves; at the groaning and crying of the prisoners, Von Igel looked about to vomit. The only man left undisturbed, it appeared, was Von Metzeler. You doubted they thought this suffering was unnecessary; but it was nasty to behold all the same.You couldn’t escape this though. This was your sentence to hand down, for the sake of order and justice. The part of your head you could rely on, that you could always consult for good ideas, was also a welcome shelter from the pain and blood. From within that cold, logical place, you could analyze all of this purely and cleanly, without the blood and dirt and bruises clouding your judgment. There was no joy to be had here; no rush of excitement or adrenaline like in battle, and for that reason, you felt…much colder.The militiamen thinned, but many still watched, wide eyed and pale faced, unable to unroot themselves as the next set of criminals was walked forward and tied, and beaten bloody. Three sessions, but they were let go after their ordeal, to stumble away weeping, rags clung tightly about their half broken bodies. Then came the murderers, many of them fearful; they had been informed of what they were being punished for…though not what the punishment was. They feared worse.“For the crimes of rape and murder,” you announced clearly, “Fifty lashes, then fifty lashes. Then, death by gunshot.”Utter silence. Those on the poles wept, screamed through their gags, and those who knew their fates would be the same writhed against their captors. The condemned were beaten to bloody strips, then their gags removed for their final words; a right even the most wretched and damned were given, traditionally a final appeal for the Judge to look kindly upon them as they were trialed once again for their crimes; a last moment of dignity before death. These men said no such words.“HEELLLPP!!!” screamed one, “PLEEEAASSSE, PLEEAAASSE! I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY!” his cries were drowned out by many other crazed, pleading cries. The Blue Barbs, for their part, were unmoved. Each man was shot thought the center of the chest, twice, then left to quickly die. The next, and thankfully final set, was no less desperate in their cries for mercy. They should have heeded the cries of their victims, part of you wanted to think bitterly, but another part of you hid desperately in the fortress in your mind. You wanted to cover your ears as the screams of the utmost terrible and doomed went on, cries that somehow persisted even after their owners died.
You were so tired, all of a sudden. The bodies were dragged aside, the grounds cleared, and the militias either wandered off or stayed fixed where they were, but none of them mattered. You were tired of this, all this. When could you go home? Back to Strossvald, back to…someplace else, anywhere. Wossehnalia, even into a battlefield in Valsten, the burned husk of the manor in Salzbrucke. A stiff drink, and the touch of your fiancée…could you stand another minute?A heavy hand rested on your shoulder. It was Captain Honnrieg.“Lieutenant,” he said softly, “I am relieving you of duty.”“Relieving?” you echoed. “…me?”“It’s not punishment, kid,” Honnrieg went on, concern on his face, “You've done nothing I wouldn't have done...when I was younger. You’re strung out. You can't handle much more, trust me. Too risky. Go back to Wossehnalia. Your second in command and I will handle the rest; you’ve done plenty enough.”>What? I can go on…really. I’m hardly unique in being tired. I just need a drink or something.>Thank you. I’ll owe you for this. And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.>You can’t relieve me of duty. Not when I’ve so much left to do. This is a matter of pride. I'm sorry, but I refuse your relieving me.>Other?
>>2514785>>Thank you. I’ll owe you for this. And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.
>>2514785>Thank you. I’ll owe you for this. And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.
>>2514785>>Thank you. I’ll owe you for this. And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.Hope we don't get PTSD from this.
>>2514785>Thank you. I’ll owe you for this. And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.>>2514934We weren't even phased when our side bombed civilians right in front of our faces, I'm sure we'll be fine!
>>2515061This is different though. Back then we didn't even see any of the people who were shelled. Here it's something that we ordered and oversaw personally.
>>2515076We saw the railroad gun obliterate a town that was filled with civilians. We saw the officer we spoke to drive back and the people panic until they restored order. And then the town center disappeared
Your response tumbled out of your mouth without you really considering it; “Thank you. I’ll owe you for this,” you said flatly, “And I’m…sorry, that I can’t stay.”“Don’t think anything of it,” Honnrieg reassured you, “You’ve got a whole bunch of willing and able folks. Don’t have to kill yourself for the sake of it. Relax a bit, in there,” Honnrieg pointed to a smaller building; “Benches in there, and you don’t have all these needling eyes looking at you. I’ll put together an escort and you can take the car. Til then, sit tight. I’ll tell your 2ic what’s going on.”“…Captain,” you asked slowly, “What you said back in Salzbrucke, about my look, or whatever…is it..?”Honnrieg shook his head and pointed off. “Don’t worry about that right now. Didn’t everybody say not to think about that? Go and have a sit.”It was a little funny to you, how automatic your response was, like your body was moving for you. The bench you settled onto was hard wood, but it was at least something. Clearly this wasn’t one of the more decorated spaces; especially given the lack of color in the walls, and the further lack of furniture, but you were uninterested in what sort of place this was. You looked down at your thighs, hunched down, and rested your chin in your hands. It felt like supporting an anvil.Any time in solitude was quickly punctuated, as somebody else entered the place. Quiet, almost imperceptible if not for the change in the wind. You looked up; and were hardly surprised. Hilda had decided to appear now. “Hullo,” you said dully, “You’ve been avoiding me all day, you know.”
Hilda said nothing; her face was still covered with the same mask, though she had let her hood down. A low hung ponytail was tucked into said shroud, and her formerly dirtied bandages had been changed; the stink of blood was now gone, or at least less noticeable. She stared into your eyes from but a few paces away. You stared back, unwittingly.“I had…many things I wanted to tell you,” Hilda said flatly, “Things I wanted to talk about. Things that hurt, that I don’t know what to do about, but…” Hilda sat down next to you, “You’re hurting. Your eyes…I’ve seen those before. I don’t know how you’re messed up but…I just want to say….I know that feeling. It’s not good. What I wanted to say can wait.”“Mm.” you grunted back. Perhaps that was rude, but you weren’t feeling very conversational. Hilda didn’t say anything back either. There was a moment, a few seconds of silence, before you felt her hand tug on your shoulder, slowly but firmly, pulling you over and down. She was not resisted, and she had soon brought your head lying down upon her lap.“I don’t like you looking that way,” Hilda whispered, as you felt her hands stroking your head, “I can help…if you want. Let me…I’m not saying…you know. I’m here. If you need me. For anything.”Hilda’s thighs were warm to lie upon; they were substantial, strong, yet with a softness above that muscle. A softness like a distant memory of your mother, and lying upon her in days long past, when you were a young child. She would sing to you…though Hilda tried no such thing, instead just stroking your hair solemnly.You hardly cared, at the moment, whether or not anybody else would approve or not of your current position. Hilda was a woman, and her warmth was inviting. Laying there would do nobody any harm.“Let me do something,” Hilda said softly again, “I won’t do anything that…you don’t ask for. I just want to help you…to see you better.”>I’m alright. I can just lay here for a bit longer, and that’ll be fine.>I’d rather just be alone, if that’s alright. >What are you thinking of? I’m tired, and I don’t really want to think right now.>Other?
Ive forgotten what we did to the blue barb rapists, if we havnt already, we should retcon it to have them executed alongside the fort guys
>>2515271>>I’m alright. I can just lay here for a bit longer, and that’ll be fine.>Other?I'm sorry for making you come to this wretched place, now that i've seen it first hand I regret ever sending you in here.
>>2515271>I want to go home. I can't stand another minute with these barbarians. They were /bragging/!>>2515281You mean way back when we made Signy cry? We tried to come up with a casus belli for the Republic to cleanse it of their filth without laying blame on her. If we/she can push for legitimacy from Strossvald on the condition that slavery is outlawed and the law is retroactive, well, her hands are tied!
>>2515293No, during downtime while the miner militia ransacked the armory, and promptly got blown the fuck out
>>2515271>>I’m alright. I can just lay here for a bit longer, and that’ll be fine.Let's take a nap if we can.
>>2515302Yeah I dunno, I don't remember that either.
>>2515302>>2515380I wasn't sure either, but I went back and checked. The phrasing is a bit vague.>Idle chatter resumed as time without enemy contact became extended. As did some other things, as reports of the Blue Barbs contingent engaging in looting were reported, in bored fashion. It didn’t spring to mind to try and contain such, though; the armory behind you almost seemed to rumble, like a slumbering beast, and it was difficult to get it out of your head that the beast was about to metaphorically rise up and swallow you all. The hope was that you’d placed your persons outside of the potential radius of the wrathful awakening.I checked a few times, if I missed anything tell me, but I don't think anything was written about them committing rape.Anyways update soon.
>>2515386dont know how to crosspost, hopefully it works, >>2462972
>>2515386Just seems odd how we let Glockenblume get away with child slavery/sex tourism/mutilations and rapes while we punish theese guys. Bit of a double standard for the budding Vang Dictatorship
>>2515391Ah, right, yeah. Almost half of the Blue Barbs with 1st company were killed or wounded, though. Maybe that can be rolled later. >>2515395Only if they end up getting away with it in the end, yes?
You felt Hilda’s hand creep up your leg, and edge onto your inner thigh as you thought about her question. “I’m alright,” you said, and her hand stopped. “I can just lay here for a bit longer, and that’ll be fine.”Hilda’s hand steadily retreated. “…Okay.”“I’m sorry for making you come to this wretched place,” you lamented, “Now that I’ve seen the true ugliness of it first hand, I regret that I ever sent you. I’ve only been here half a day, and I want to go home. I can’t stand another minute with these barbarians. You were here for…too long.”Hilda continued to idly stroke your head, sighing deeply. “Things…happened. Awful things. Some things that weren’t so bad, but I’ve been through worse. You don’t have to be sorry…I came here myself. I stayed. It was worth it, if it was for y-…for this.” Hilda’s other hand arrived at your collar and dug about in it; she touched her necklace, still inside there, and let out another long sigh. “It’s all passed, now. Don’t…worry about me. I’m fine. I’m not worth…it’s nothing for you to hurt yourself over.”“Hm.” You let yourself sink deeper into Hilda’s lap. A nap would be nice, you thought briefly, just before you closed your eyes. With your head against Hilda and her softly petting you, no effort would be enough to open your eyes again, for the brief moment you were still conscious.-----He had fallen asleep. Hilda continued playing with Richter’s hair as his breathing slowed; she let an uneasy smile crack onto her face, hidden under the kerchief that hit most of the ugliness new and old, now. After all that had happened, he still trusted her enough to fall asleep upon her. The charm was still there; Richter still trusted her. The warmth that spread in her heart was fit to burn her alive…again. None of Hilda’s numerous wounds ached, and she remembered something that the man had…probably already forgotten, that he had said.“Hey,” he had said, “Scars look pretty hot on women too, actually.”
But she had looked at herself since this second wounding. Hilda doubted that Richter’s opinion would be the same; the burning hadn’t twisted her face like it had her arms, her legs, her hands…but it had darkened her cheekbones, and the wells of her eyes, and it gave her a haunted complexion.Had it been wrong to imply that she would offer her body to him? Hilda hadn’t thought too much of it. As far as she was concerned, she was already a ruin in every way. He had either not realized, or ignored it, though, and that was…that was fine. It didn’t hurt so much anymore that she could never have him, she thought, still sadly, as she continued to thread his hair between her gloved fingers, wishing that she could feel it better. Nobody was watching; she put her hands under Richter’s head and his shoulder, lifted him somewhat, and buried her face in his hair, inhaling deeply.It wasn’t fair, Emma would have said. The little ghost had sometimes commented on how much Hilda had apparently done with no reward, no recompense, but as far as Hilda saw it this was all for redemption, for failing to protect her charge in the first place, then betraying his trust, for such awful mistakes…and even now, she didn’t feel much more redeemed. Maybe the only way to make it right was to leave him, and try to forget. Every time she came close, she thought about Richter, and temptations still had their influence upon her…but she didn’t want to stop. Even if they were bad, for both of them.That was it. She had to stop hurting Richter, stop hurting his fiancée, by trying to steal him…had she done anything but hurt those who depended upon her, and those who she cared about?As she was thinking, her hand upon the man’s head again, Captain Honnrieg walked in. A kind soul, though Hilda thought he treated her too much like she was half the age she was.“We’re ready to move,” he said, as though he would be talking to the Lieutenant in her lap. “As soon as…ah.” He smirked a little, “Is he…?”“Could you…wait just a little bit longer?” Hilda asked meekly, “I…”“Of course. Not too long, though.”-----You were woken, and you were still quite groggy as you were led to the PzA-19 and let inside. There was little space in the passenger area; unlike the earlier iteration of Strossvald armored cars, this had been developed sleeker, and with less space inside, thus only allowing two in the rear interior. Nobody was accompanying you, though; Hilda remained outside, looking as blank as she often did.You had thought she might come with you, but maybe not?>What did she think she was doing? You certainly didn’t want to rest against the hard metal of the armored car if you could help it. Come hither, pillow.>If that was what she wanted, so be it.>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her.>Other?
>>2515481>>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her
>>2515485>>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her.We can at least reassure her that the fighting is over. And then ruin the moment by saying that her contract will be over when we cross our home border and she can settle in peace somewhere far from the front lines.Richter only want what's best for her :-)
>>2515485>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her.
>>2515485I wonder if the anons who voted against applying magical healing to Hilda are here right now.
>>2515485>>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her.
>>2515395The main difference is that these people were unlucky/stupid enough that their victims were Strossvald citizens. Though to be fair they didn't realize there would be any repercussions.
>>2515506Yes, how can I help you>>2515535So does that mean we'll be marching into Glockenblume now :-)
>>2515538Nope, that's an internal issue. To expand a bit it's a bit like how punitive expeditions worked during the colonial era. What "savages" do to each other in their own country is not our problem; but harm any of our citizens/interests and we'll go all gunboat diplomacy on your ass.
>>2515485>>Maybe you were tired, but Hilda had spent enough time here. You could speak to one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her.She's done more than enough. Hurt more than enough.
>>2515546Yet we just executed and punitively punished everyone in the rape gangs and not just those that attacked Strossvalder women, we literally just interfered in an internal issue
>>2515554I'm pretty sure that the people we lashed/executed are only those whose actually raped/murdered the Strossvalder girls. Whether they violated more people is a whole other question but there's definitely way more people than this bunch who'll go unpunished.
Maybe you were tired, but you couldn’t leave Hilda here; especially not if you were going out. Perhaps you could speak with one another on the way back; there were things you wanted to ask her, and she had wanted to tell you about some things…albeit, apparently, alone. Hopefully the driver of the car would be understanding.“Hilda,” you beckoned to her, “Come with me. It’s time you were away from here.”Hilda looked to one side, then the other, before being pushed in by the Captain.“Lieutenant,” he addressed you one more time, “The head wanted to thank you for ‘showing restraint.’ Just so you know.”Perhaps you were more thankful to yourself for that, but you merely said, “Right.”“See you in the evening,” Honnrieg waved slightly before shutting the hatch on you and Hilda, then rapping a hand on the driver’s port. The car started up, to take you both away, accompanied with a truck of slightly wounded White Eyes, who were both being taken back for treatment as well as being a potential ward against any ambushes.The PzA-19, despite technically being able to hold two passengers along with the gunner and driver, had really had that design feature implemented to fulfill a requirement to carry passengers, by request of the Grenzwacht commission. Normally, you’d heard, the space where the flip down seats were was stocked with ammunition, supplies, or just junk, and any passengers rode on the back or clung to the sides instead, precariously. It was hardly a bus like its predecessor. However, room had been made here (likely because it had been being used as an ad hoc command post), and no gunner was in the turret for now, leaving more room for you and Hilda. It wasn’t comfortable, but you at least weren’t squeezed in like what happened whenever you had to retreat into the turret in the m/32.Neither of you said anything for a few minutes; you had been waiting for Hilda to say something, but she merely stared downwards. It was up to you to make the first move.“You wanted to tell me some things?” you prompted her.Hilda withdrew a bit into herself. “It’s…nothing. You don’t have to worry about me, you’ve been through…much. You still look bad.”You thought you felt better, but then again, you were slurring your words a bit from tiredness that lingered, and was beginning to increase once more. Hilda’s thighs had been nice and soft, you wondered if Maddalyn’s would be large enough to support your head in the same way when you got to her.“There’s little else to do right now,” you offered in response to Hilda’s deflection.“…I’d rather, if you ask me anything, I’ll answer…”If it was that way, then.>How are your wounds? Your arms and legs. And your face, why are you covering it still?>What did you have to go through in the fort? Are you…alright?>Is there anything you want as a reward? Anything I can give, at least.>Other?
>>2515706Hilda, what you whent through in there, should never have happened, once we return home i want you to have a good life, away from all of this, but i am not throwing you away either... i have a small estate back home, when the time is right would you consider to stay in my employ?
>>2515706>>Is there anything you want as a reward? Anything I can give, at least.But from the bottom of my heart, really, thank you for all that you've done.
>>2515706>>What did you have to go through in the fort? Are you…alright?>>Is there anything you want as a reward? Anything I can give, at least.
>>2515706>What did you have to go through in the fort? Are you…alright?>>2515538Please reflect on your actions.
>>2515763This is not a good idea.Imagine a girl friendzoning you, then offering you a job where you can see her being happy with her new husband every day. That's what this would do to Hilda.
>>2515922Yeah it's like emotional cuckolding.
>>2515706In fact, can I vote specifically against this? >>2515763
>>2515929Seconded. I know we mean well but it's honestly not as nice as it would seem at first glance.
>>2515962I'm just keeping up with tradition here. Has there been a single instance where we did right by her? Even the times when I thought we did the right thing, we later got a Hilda pov tearing our decision to pieces
>>2515999This doesn't mean we have to continue to fuck up, but now on purpose.
>>2516003Good thing you outnumber meWe need to finally man up and make Richter call her ugly and run far away, so that we will at least not have to see her self destruct
>>2515763Well I did suggest something like a game master position for Hilda a thread or two ago, so yeah let's see if we can employ her.>>2515706
>>2515886I dunno, second option is a trap option. We know what she wants
>>2516016That's what I was thinking. She wouldn't work in the estate as a maid, she'd be out as a game and grounds keeper. Which incidentally is her hobby
>>2515706>What did you have to go through in the fort? Are you…alright?>Is there anything you want as a reward? Anything I can give, at least.
I'm back, I got ambushed by the sandman.Writing again.
>>2515706>>What did you have to go through in the fort? Are you…alright?Also seconding >>2515763 if it's not too late
“What did you have to go through in the fort?” you asked carefully, “Are you…alright?”Hilda said nothing. She leaned back, looked all about the car, and there was no sound but the rumbling of the car over the old cobble and tile road, bumps shaking loose a few loose shells to rattle about the floor; the Driver had a firm wall between you, difficult to breach save for intercom; you may as well have been having a private conversation.“I’m…sure you heard,” Hilda muttered, “I was…a man named Cranck’s, favored woman, for a small time. I didn’t think I would get his attention, but…it was for…” Hilda shut up for a few more moments, looking down. “It wasn’t forced. I played the part of his mistress. It was fine. I was…ready to give up everything. Then the strange man came, and killed Cranick, and…” Hilda looked down at her hands, and opened them, closed them, squeezed them. “The way they did it, it...burned me. There’s something wrong. It’s too ugly to look at, but…it’s like my flesh has turned black, it oozed sludge, and it felt weaker…when I had to make the work, it felt like they were tearing more easily. I’ve cut apart animals, I know how bodies work…I don’t know what this is. But…it’s not like I can get any uglier. Hah.” The last note was supposed to be a sarcastic laugh, but it came out as more a choke. “May I see?” you asked, but Hilda cringed in response.“No.” she said immediately, “It’s…not good.”Alright, then. “Did this Cranick…mistreat you?”“Mistreat?” Hilda asked blankly, “…No. He did sleep with me…several times. I’d rather not speak of it beyond that.” She put a hand on her stomach, “I know my cycles. It wasn’t…a safe time. I thought nothing of it then, but now…I don’t know what I would do if I became pregnant.” You were looking for the words to say something on that, when Hilda went on. “It’s fine…I knew what I was getting into, all the way since…a long time ago. I asked that prisoner you had, about ways to get into the fort place…I knew what would probably happen. It’s why I…why I…” Hilda coughed harshly, “Forget it. Forget I said anything. I knew what I was getting into, I don’t have anything to complain about. That’s it. I should be thankful that I’m still alive.”
Somehow, you didn’t think she was being very sincere about that. Just a feeling. Best to move on. “Is there anything you want as a reward?” you asked, “Anything I can give, at least,” you added quickly on the end there. You already knew what Hilda wanted most, but maybe, you could hold out hope that there was something else. The look Hilda gave you destroyed such hopes immediately.“I…” Hilda said weakly, “Maybe…just…but, I mean…”Hilda went from uneasy, to crestfallen, to crushed. “…No. I don’t have any right to ask it. This was all…just to make things right.” More uneasy silence. The clattering of cobbles went away; you must have been out of the city. Finally. “Don’t worry about me.” Hilda said, barely audible inside, “I’ll just…go somewhere. Somewhere else.”“That would hardly be just.” You objected firmly. “I want you to have a good life, once we’ve come back. It would be utterly improper to just throw you away after all this is finished. I am a landed noble.” Your ‘land’ was not technically yours, and it was limited to the two story small manor and its yard, but…it wasn’t a lie. “You can say it was your decision, but I was ultimately the one who gave the order. I who sent you to…to suffer. What you had to go through never should have happened. I’d like to make that right, so I was thinking. If you would consider working in my employment further, when the time is right? Perhaps as a gamekeeper? You are an accomplished hunter, after all.”
You knew it was a rather weak offer; not even close to something Hilda would be happy with, but maybe she’d be content as a servant, if not the paramour she wanted to be. Again, you were disappointed as Hilda asked something that seemed obvious.“Do you own forests? Hunting grounds?” Hilda spoke as though she already knew, and that the question was just a formality.“…No,” you admitted, “I intend to obtain some, though..?” Weak, you thought to yourself. Though perhaps you could request a parcel of land when you returned home. Undeveloped land was quite cheap, comparatively; it would be not much to ask.“…Richter.” Hilda said flatly, “I appreciate it. I really…really do. But I’ve lived alone before. You don’t have to look after me. I’m too much trouble for that.”“At least consider it.” You pressed.“…” Hilda remained silent. More minutes passed. “…I’ll consider it.”“What?” in the time that had passed, you’d forgotten the subject, distracted by idle thoughts. “Your offer of employment. In a fairy tale forest.”“Ah.” You adjusted your seating; the hard flip-out seat had a way of causing the bottom to quickly go numb if sat upon one way for too long. “I just want to say. From the bottom of my heart…thank you, really, thank you, for all that you’ve done.”Hilda glanced down again. “All?...ah. You’re…welcome. I suppose…”You nodded, then moved to look out the open turret of the PzA-19, moving around the 2cm automatic cannon and looking back at Todesfelsen as it disappeared…and towards Wossehnalia as the first things that came into distant, blurry view were the grand constructions of the city’s patron.Would you take Hilda there, you wondered, or would it be better to leave her somewhere else?>Leave Hilda at an inn. She can take care of herself, and maybe she’d like more time alone.>Take Hilda to Lord Wossehn’s castle. Maybe some suitable pampering could be thought up by your host.>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.>Other?
>>2517037>>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.
>>2517037>>Take Hilda to Lord Wossehn’s castle. Maybe some suitable pampering could be thought up by your host.>>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.R&R and whatever additional medical/magical treatment we can find for her.
>>2517037>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.
>>2517037>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.>And if not her then maybe Fie?>Also we need to consilt Fie about that "empty space" Hilda has in her presence according to Emma.
>>2517037>>Take Hilda to Lord Wossehn’s castle. Maybe some suitable pampering could be thought up by your host.>>Cranick was killed by the Riverman, Maddalyn might know something of the Soul Arts that caused Hilda’s wounds. She should look at Hilda’s wounds; perhaps something could be done, even if they were now old, and unable to be stitched…even if she had any spells.
>>2517037>>Take Hilda to Lord Wossehn’s castle. Maybe some suitable pampering could be thought up by your host.
I fell into a coma and wouldn't wake up. I wanted to have an update out near four hours ago.Oh well, I'm writing it now.
Cranick had been killed by the Riverman, you thought; Hilda’s wounds must have been sorcerous in nature, and you knew somebody that could be of help in identifying such things, possibly. Well, two, but you wanted to see your fiancée. “My fiancée knows something of spells and magic,” you would have sounded utterly insane to anybody outside of a small portion of your group; thankfully, Hilda knew of what sort of things you spoke of. When you talked with her brother, even you had discovered she was even familiar with soulbinders…or, their more innocent guise of being wandering mystics. Either way, she knew what sort of thing you spoke about.Though you guessed Hilda wouldn’t have expected just anybody to know such things, which was why she blinked at your statement.“…How..?” Hilda asked, utterly befuddled. “…Never mind. I’ve seen stranger things. All things better not asked about.”Hilda was of rural upbringing, after all, and in such environments, and even in certain more urban places, there was a strong respect towards tales and folklore. Strosstadt was one such place; if you were from, say, Emre, all this supernatural gop sprouting out of everywhere would have been much, much harder to take, you wagered.“So I’ll be taking you to the manor of a man called Lord Wossehn, where she is currently staying” you explained, “And she can take a look at the wounds you received. Maybe she can make them better.”“That would be…nice.” Hilda answered uncertainly.“Yes.” You were beginning to grow tired again. “I’ll be napping again,” you told Hilda, “Wake me when we arrive.” You slumped forward and rested your arms across your knees, then laid your head upon them. They weren’t the best pillows you’d rested upon (that dignity belonged to an oddly complacent Ironwood Bobcat), but they would certainly do for now.You were woken up later not by Hilda, but by the driver of the armored car, a familiar looking Bat Company soldier. “Hey, Lieutenant, up and at ‘em,” from his voice, he was one of the ones incessantly complaining about a sweet scent from inside the truck that had been eaten by a colossal terrestrial crustacean. Hilda was utterly dumbfounded by Lord Wossehn’s castle; you’d have been surprised if she’d ever seen anything like it in her life. The extravagant foyer also provoked nothing but silent, fascinated observation, as you were escorted inside by a pair of servants, and requested to wait patiently. Hilda stll wore the veil over her face, and her eyes were as piercing as they ever were; it was difficult to tell if she was struck by wonder as you thought, or by discomfort.
“Ah, sir Von Tracht!” Lord Wossehn called from the top of the grand staircase after a few minutes. “You have brought a guest! Absolutely gracious.” He continued speaking as he stepped purposefully down the stairs. “Your fiancée is quite well, though she requested that her touring of the grounds be abridged, then annulled. I am regretful to convey to you that you left the young lady quite overwrought.”“Overwrought?“Quite! Though she made requests of my servants that, hm hm,” Wossehn chuckled to himself, “Are an indication that she holds you in favor. Perish the thought of any implication elsewise!” Lord Wossehn finished making his way down, and beamed at Hilda. “…M’am, salutations toyou! You must be of noble character indeed if you are a companion of Von Tracht and Von Blum! I would be pleased to meet you, and know your name and deeds.” He smiled broadly and extended a firm, strong hand, awaiting a shake. Hilda stared at the hand being proffered, and recoiled ever so slightly. Lord Wossehn’s smile loosened. “I see, I see,” he kept his positive tone as he let his arm go slack. “I do understand, some are wary of strangers, especially in a land as this. Well, have no concerns, my good lady, I intend to prove my hospitality beyond any reasonable doubt. If you’ve any desired accommodations whatsoever, do inform me.” “Fine.” If Lord Wossehn were a noble in Strossvald he’d have had Hilda thrown out for her blatant lack of courtesy, but he was presumably used to people of much less social grooming.“Very good! Good sir,” he spoke to you next, “I trust you wish to see your fair ladyfriend. I may warn you, I found the dress you left her in…objectionable, for one of such standing. I took the opportunity to offer her more dignified wear, if she would accept it. Of course, the only sort of dress I had in mind was from a Delsan Batz-Pedroni porcelain doll. She did not appreciate the comparison, but it does fit her quite conveniently!”“I’m sure it does,” you agreed, though you had no idea what a Batz-Pedroni doll was. It must have been relatively life sized, if clothing for it fit Maddalyn. Well, perhaps slightly miniature.“She is in the Sunrise room,” Lord Wossehn told you, “Ah, the east sun room. It is up two floors, down the hall, and…actually, I will have my servants show you.” The servants appeared ready for the occasion, and beckoned for you to come with. “Just one thing,” Lord Wossehn added, “The clothing of a Batz-Pedroni is…expensive. Do mind that if you…well, I shalt not intrude upon nor delay your rendezvous any further. Tah tah!”
Wossehn’s directions were likely to have been accurate, but his castle was quite easy to get lost in above the first floor. No doubt his butlers and maids experienced navigators even before arriving under his employ, such was the labyrinthine nature of some corridors. Hilda grew visibly less comfortable the further you went, and the servant were likewise wary with her around; fair, to be honest, as she wore a dark cloak and mask. With scars peeking out from underneath and her eyes ringed with dark grey circles, she was the picture of a suspicious individual. You arrived in decent time and the servants opened the door quietly and gestured for you to enter.Maddalyn sat at the edge of a window, on a bench made for such a purpose. The sunrise room was rather minimally decorated, compared to the rest of the castle, save for the window that Maddalyn stared out of. Stared at, rather; Maddalyn couldn’t see through glass, though nobody but the two of you, as far as you recalled, knew that.“I requested that I be left alone.” Maddalyn said sharply, without turning around. She was hugging her knees to her chest, and wore a dark blue satin dress, beset with ruffles and lace, with white gloves that almost reached to the sleeve, and stockings of the same color; she did look rather like a doll in such apparel. Her hair was tied back into a small tail, such as it could be, for its length. She didn’t wear shoes, though she had arrived with them at some time; a pair of tiny black heeled shoes had been set by the bench she sat upon. “Is there news? If not, then leave.” Maddalyn said, with frustration leaking into her voice.“Will you not turn around and see who is here?” you asked, your tiredness making the mock hurt seem real. Maddalyn snapped around, her face surprised, then relieved. She rose, hopped off the seat, and walked steadily over to you as you entered the room. Hilda trailed behind, and Maddalyn’s gaze snapped over to her, relief immediately turning into annoyance. She may as well have said out loud, ”What is SHE doing here?”“Richter?” She asked lightly, “Could you ask that…her, to let us alone for now?”“I brought her to-““Ask. Her. To. Leave.”“…Hilda, if you could wait outside, until I come out to get you.”Hilda left without a word, and closed the door behind her hard.
Maddalyn waited some, staring icily at the door. She smelled lovely; it was the same perfume she had worn when you were first separated, you faintly recognized. A scent that you could have sworn you smelled somewhere else though, in between that time and now… Maddalyn huffed, before looking up at you and saying, with her voice thin and shaky, “I…I couldn’t be happier that you’ve come back to me safe…but…”Maddalyn wound back her right arm.WHACK! She swung an open palm upward that collided with your face with a furious slap, snapping your head about with the force; the sharp pain spread from your cheek to your eye; how could somebody so thin hit so hard?“You utter ass!” She cried, arms wrenching downwards, hands now furious fists, “You leave me to go off and fight, possibly die, and the last thing you do, the last thing you might have done before leaving me forever, was molest me in front of another man? What sort of nitwit are you?” She sat back down on the sill bench with a huff, pulling her knees up to her chest and turning sideways. “You’ve no right to do that to me. To make me so furious while wishing so desperately for your safe return.”“…I’m sorry.” You said blankly, unprepared for this sort of welcome. You had parted her with a firm hold upon her bottom, but, you didn’t want to leave without one more touch of that lovely posterior. It had been extraordinarily dull witted, in hindsight, but it was in the passion of the moment.“Come here,” Maddalyn’s voice was still rough as she took you by the hand, “Sit down here. I’m going to complain at you, and you’re going to listen.”>Dumbly comply.>No. What you were going to do now was take advantage of the fact that you were alone. [Attack]>You were too tired to be treated this way. Inform her of this.>Other?
>>2520324>>Dumbly comply.I mean, we are a tanker even if we are a noble. Never turn down a meal and never leave the women wanting. Also, can't help but think of Lord Wossehn as somewhat akin to Nigel Dickens from Red Dead.
>>2520324>No. What you were going to do now was take advantage of the fact that you were alone. [Attack]Sit her on our lap and listen, fall asleep.
>>2520324>Other?Dumbly apologize for our ulterior motives for pinching her posterior (which is certainly not inferior) but before we can revel and relax could Maddy examine Hilda, mentioning that Hilda was badly injured helping to save her. It would be rude and scandalous to make her savior wait outside despite being her social superior.
You said nothing, dumbly following Maddalyn as she led you over to the place she’d been seated. “Sit.” She said. You complied, your body moving before you even really thought about it. Maddalyn sat down upon your lap shortly after, and backed up so she was tightly against you. “I’m, er, sorry that I-“ you tried to butt in.“Shh.” Maddalyn shushed you, “Later. I…” Maddalyn stroked her hair back idly, “I had my hair made, like you asked. Drinks can wait. For now, I want you to...kiss my ears, like before.”Repeating that wasn’t something you were looking forward to; even the first time it hadn’t felt like you were doing anything right, if there was a right way to do it, but could you turn down your little fiancée’s request? You gave it her left ear a soft nibble; her hair was against your cheek, and it felt good, warmed by sunlight so it felt like the flame it looked. “Mm.” Maddalyn sighed and pressed into you, taking one of your arms and wrapping it around her, “More.”More? You weren’t sure what to do. You took her ear further into your mouth and licked the inside; would that be good enough? All you could do was improvise, but Maddalyn seemed satisfied.“It’s so unfair,” Maddalyn sighed, “You go off to fight, and I can hardly help. I’m too weak, and you too bold. If you were to perish, where would I find another like you? Even if I were to die…I’m certain you could find somebody else. Maybe somebody better. If you were to die now, I’d be of the mind to follow you soon after…what a terrible thing you’ve done to me. To make me fall in love with somebody so inconsiderate.”Inconsiderate? You stopped your intrusion of Maddalyn’s ear for a moment, and she took notice.
“Oh, I’m not criticizing you, my knight,” Maddalyn wrapped a hand around yours and squeezed, “My valiant champion. You’re just doing your duty. It’s just…I couldn’t ask you to renege on such, could I.”You didn’t think you were supposed to answer, not that you could. The Von Trachts were warriors; it was who you were. Could you deny your blood? Maybe, your father had, but he had had a brother who continued the tradition. All there was after him, was you.“No, of course not,” Maddalyn said quietly, pitifully. “All I could do is to wish for no more war…but that is a vain dream, is it not. I just wish I could be somebody better. Somebody you wouldn’t dream of leaving behind. I know when we return home, that you’ll go away someplace else in time, and I won’t be able to follow you. You like to assure everybody that you’re immortal, but I know better. We know better. Even now, I was dreading that you would be struck, and in my cowardice, my acceptance of being moved here, I would have made an awful mistake.”Maddalyn sniffed, then sobbed, and wiped her eyes with her free hand. “I…I don’t even know what I could do for you, if I were to deny you your duty. Especially since…s-since…this must sound selfish, and unreasonable, but…is it alright if we waited to have children? For a while? I’m just, not ready. I didn’t think I would have to worry about such a thing, but now, as my future’s turned from a dead end, to mist, to now…I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I have the right to ask. I’d like to not consummate, or anything, just for that long. Until I’ve…figured it out. I don’t know how long it’ll take.”>…Excuse me?>That’s not so unreasonable. I don’t think I’m ready for a family, either.>Dearest. My family is near dead, I’ve taken up an occupation that puts me at risk. I’d like to ask that you reconsider, as a small favor.>Other?
>>2520458>>…Excuse me? Where did this train of thought come from?But>>That’s not so unreasonable. I don’t think I’m ready for a family, either.Unless Lord Barnabas or Richter's parents have any major objections.
>>2520458>What prompted this?
>>2520458>>That’s not so unreasonable. I don’t think I’m ready for a family, either.Gotta make that decision right before the Archduchy decides it needs one less Lieutenant.
You let Maddalyn’s ear go from your mouth. “…Excuse me? Where did this train of thought come from?”Maddalyn squirmed and hummed. “I mean, it’s…Come on, Richter, you know how this works, don’t you? We weren’t engaged out of any love for one another. If you were to reveal that we had not consummated, especially with your family name in the state it is, there could be a scandal. The whole purpose is to unite bloodlines, not to play house. And, you almost died, for all I know, multiple times. I was afraid…but I’d understand, if you came back, and wanted something more than what I wanted to give. I’m perfectly aware of that part of a wife’s duties, Richter. That you’ve requested nothing except what I wanted anyways…save for your groping, is something that I appreciate very much.”“I want what you want,” you squeezed Maddalyn closer to your chest, “You don’t want something unreasonable. I don’t think I’m ready for a family either.” Though you would be lying through your teeth if you said you didn’t know how important it was to have one. A large one. If you only had one son you’d be right back where your father was now.“I’m…glad that you say that,” Maddalyn said weakly. You squeezed her tighter. “Richter…you’re crushing me.”“Sorry,” you relaxed your grip, and Maddalyn turned around, straddling you and throwing her arms over your shoulder and around your neck.“Richter,” she said quietly, pushing her head forward and nuzzling her nose beside yours, “I want to kiss.”>Your wish is my demand.>I’d like to do something a bit more intimate than kissing, if that's alright. (Specify)>I’d love to, but we’re keeping somebody waiting. Could you wait a little bit?>Other?
>>2520548>I'd love to, but we're keeping somebody waiting. Could you wait a little bit.
>>2520548>I’d love to, but we’re keeping somebody waiting. Namely a woman who played a critical role in rescuing you.
>>2520548>>Your wish is my demand. But just a quick one, we're keeping somebody waiting.Did we leave Emma in her can in the tank?
>>2520579No, she's roaming free in Rostig, because of wizard warnings. If she was close though it wouldn't be the first time she got bored and floated over.
>>2520548>>Your wish is my demand.
“Your wish is my demand,” you said as you grasped Maddalyn’s waist with both hands, and she giggled sweetly. “But just a quick one, we’re keeping somebody waiting.”Maddalyn stuck out her lower lip in a pout. “Her? I’m sure she’d understand.”You expected to push forward and meet Maddalyn’s lip, but she let herself down below and parried you, darting forward and planting her mouth on the side of your neck. The feeling of her mouth tickling under you ear blew off fireworks in your brain, and your fingers loosened without you willing them to. Your spine straightened instinctively in surprise, and Maddalyn broke off as quickly as she had come in, a shadow of concern pulling at her as she looked doe eyed at you with her one uncovered eye. “Ah…w-was that no good? I thought, because…”“You’re doing fine,” you reassured her. Let her believe she’d been the first to find that sensitive spot, and not second to some lookalike prostitute you encountered on the road. She still hesitated uncertainly, which was actually no good; you were on a strict time limit. Maddy found herself pulled in once more and being passionately kissed, with only a second’s break for her to pant twice before you nabbed her lips with your own once more. “Mmnn…” she hummed sweetly. The scent of her sweet, sugary perfume drenched your senses like a cloud of honey candy; it was such that you could practically taste it. A hand crept its way onto Maddalyn’s hip, and was stopped, but by its owner and not the subject of desire; you’d gotten in trouble for what it was planning before, and you weren’t sure if you were allowed to try it again yet…Maddalyn pushed forth and slid her face away from yours, whispering near your ear after you separated. “If you’re going to grope me, go under the dress. I’m borrowing this…you can’t mess it up by squeezing it too hard.”
She must have not expected that implicit invitation to have been accepted so quickly, as she yelped when your hand whipped around behind her knee and up her stocking thigh, to the place where cotton gave way to her bare thigh. Maddy took a hand back and found your mouth with her fingers, and crept forward to lock lips once more while you caressed the back of her thigh. Higher your grasp went, until you expected to reach fabric once more…but were surprised to find bare flesh still. Blood rushed to your cheeks until you went higher and found fabric once more; though rimmed with a light border of what was unmistakably frills. Of a normal cut, so far as you were aware, but far from as conservative as what you had taken for your fiancée’s usual.“You’re wearing new underwear,” you observed dimly, as you appreciated the unclothed section of the lower curve of her rump, running your hand under its swell.“Well,” Maddalyn flushed scarlet, a trail of drool running from the corner of her mouth; it didn’t take long for her face to get familiarly sloppy, it seemed. “I mean, changing is hardly unusual, is it?” She blushed even more as you squeezed and pawed at her bottom. “…Hey! Not so rough…”You knew well how to respond to Maddalyn complaining during one of these sessions, and she’d learned just as well as you had, and you were both embracing one another again; you teased at her lips with the tip of your tongue, and she responded in kind…but that would have to happen another time, as you let your hand come out from under Maddalyn’s dress and straightened up, putting you out of Maddalyn’s reach as you also pulled her down against your shoulder. It helped to hide her from seeing you wipe away the lingering trails of her saliva she had left on you; she had slimed you quite a bit despite how brief this clutch had been compared to other times.“I’m selfish, aren’t I?” Maddalyn said into your shoulder, “When I touched you, your face was different…you felt tired, and loose. I haven’t asked you how you are, even though you’re unwell.”“I’m feeling alright now, I think,” you stroked Maddalyn’s back, hugging her. “I just…didn’t know,” Maddalyn said glumly, “I wish I could see that, and not have to guess. You do too good of a job of sounding confident when your face should give you right away. Not fair…”
“Actually,” you recalled briefly, “Come to think of it, wouldn’t us doing this potentially ‘mess up’ that dress more than me just grabbing you?”“Ah, well,” Maddalyn leaned back, sitting on your knees. She looked into your eyes quizzically, before looking down and touching her fingers together, “I mean…”“You wanted me to notice that you were wearing new underwear, didn’t you.” You poked her little nose with a finger. “And you call me a pervert.”Maddalyn turned red again and faced away, pushing your face to the side with a gloved hand. “S-shut up. Don’t project your piggishness upon me.”“Maybe we’re a better match than you think,” you lifted Maddalyn up so that you could stand yourself, before placing her back down. “You’ve still an indecent look on your face. Don’t show that to your guest.”“I do not!” Maddalyn puffed her cheeks as you headed for the door to get Hilda. Hopefully you hadn’t kept her waiting for this nonsense too long…Hilda was lying up against the other wall, seemingly dozing, and stood as soon as you opened the door. “My apologies,” you said to her as she trudged forward. “Sure.” Hilda said back blankly as you admitted her into the room.Maddayn’s expression had hardened like glass upon Hilda’s reentry; you told yourself that it wasn’t any special spite, only an artefact of Maddalyn’s self-admitted defensiveness. “Dearest,” you addressed Maddalyn, “Hilda here was instrumental in rescuing you.”Maddalyn’s expression remained ice. “I see. Thank you, miss..?”“Glennzsegler.” Hilda said drily.
“Glennssegler,” Maddalyn rolled off of her tongue, “My thanks, once more. And you wanted?”You explained briefly to Maddalyn what had taken place in order for the Riverman to retrieve her, and the operation he had been involved in prior to that; the assassination of Cranick, and how Hilda had been somehow wounded in the event. Maddalyn nodded curtly with each development, until finally, she demanded;“Have her take off those wrappings. On her arms.”Hilda did so. What was under was…not pretty. Her flesh had been twisted and blackened, but it did not look like a burn; odd patterns had formed, as though her skin had been molded into some madman’s mural. Strirations and swirling lines formed trails over dark grey to black shriveled flesh, and cracks still oozed oily slick. You couldn’t help but recoil, but Maddalyn merely blinked at it, as if it were something not so abnormal. Perhaps she didn’t see the same ugly sight you did; in fact, it was practically guaranteed that she didn’t.“Presence decay,” Maddalyn said, near monotone, like she was recounting from a textbook. “When another’s presence invades the body in certain quantities, its energies react with the victim’s own, and the resultant turmoil corrupts and changes the flesh.” Hilda stared dumbly, but she had already been told to expect nothing that made much sense. “It looks ugly, but it isn’t fatal, or permanently damaging. It’ll always look scarred and black like that, but the skin will firm up, the muscles will heal almost as good as before.”“Black?” you couldn’t help but comment.“Ep.” Maddalyn inhaled sharply, “I…I mean, it is, isn’t it?” Hilda simply blinked. She didn’t know Maddalyn was blind; hardly anybody did. “Not like I don’t have enough scars, huh.” Hilda said tonelessly, looking at her hand and clenching it. Black ooze welled up inside of cracked sin, some in small bubbles that looked like they might burst, but they shrank after swelling. “How long do I have to wait for it to heal right then.”“I, uh,” Maddalyn looked aside, “I don’t know. It depends. I didn’t read much on that.”
“How would this have happened, anyways?” you asked Maddalyn.“Well,” Maddalyn put her hands together slowly and tapped one thumb against the other, thinking, “Presence decay is something…I read, at least, that happens when you try to do a stitch without neutralizing your presence first, to make it play well with the other person’s presence. It has a few uses, but…mostly in torture. So I’ve read.”“Stitch.” Hilda intoned. “What is that.”“It’s where, well,” Maddalyn glanced at you with concern, “It’s like you…sort of do this, and this, and shove it directly into a person?” She mimed her ritual.“That’s not how it happened at all.” Hilda said.“…What?” Maddalyn asked weakly, “Somebody didn’t try to heal you?”“No. He sort of melted the person, and it roasted me too.”“Oh.” Maddalyn shouldn’t have turned so pale from guessing wrong, you thought. It was a simple error; it was like she’d accidentally revealed something she didn’t intend to, but what on earth would it have been? “I guess that happens too. This Riverman is the same unskilled soulbinder from Salzbrucke? It’s…understandable. Not knowing his own strength, or being able to control it as well.” “Can you heal this, though?” you pointed to Hilda’s arms.“No.” Maddalyn said flatly, and immediately, “It’s been too long. With the sort of wounds caused by soulbinders, a stitch only works if you apply it right after. Since the presence itself is causing the corruption, and messing with the person’s presence even more, their ‘memory’, it doesn’t let you pull back their former state of being. The only thing that can be done is to wait.”“Great.” Hilda muttered, “So I do what I was planning on doing anyways. Except now I have a headache.”“Is that it, then?” Maddalyn asked you, “If it is, then I’d like to…well, spend some more time…”>Surely you could try something else? It’s not like her wounds could get worse.>I have a few questions, actually, first.>If nothing can be done, then I’ll have to trust the expert on this. Though I’d like to get some rest more than anything else.>Other?
>>2521575>Surely you could try something else? If not, I'd like to get some rest more then anything else. Maybe I could ask Poltergiest if theirs anything we could do. Is it normal to be connected to a soul binder in such a way, sometimes when I sleep I go this weird dream place and talk to him and some weird floating tentacly thing.
>>2521575>I have a few questions, actually, first.Tell her about this new wizard we were somewhat enthralled by in Todesfelsen and that we may have attracted his attention. Maybe possible ways to mask our presence or at least detect if he's near besides the monster can.But also get some accommodations for Hilda and tell her to relax, she's earned it.
>>2521575>>Surely you could try something else? It’s not like her wounds could get worse.Also I just had a bit of an insight while Richter was busy being lewd with Maddalyn. That sweet perfume of hers was the same one she had left on the ground when she was kidnapped and taken away in a truck. And Richter recently remembered a Bat Company soldier complaining about a sweet smell in one of their trucks...one of the same trucks those glow in the dark intelligence spooks gave us for our mission. Unless I'm reading too much into it I think the implication here is that the intelligence spooks arranged for Maddalyn to be kidnapped in order to get us to go on this mission. However I doubt they would go to that much trouble for the sake of getting us to rescue a bunch of commoners. Which means they have some bigger plan at play that our mission here is a part of...
>>2521710You know what, I initially thought the perfume was just Anya using the same one as Maddy, but this anons shadowrun-fu is strong so I'll add to mine:>>2521709Whenever appropriate ask Maddy what that perfume is and where she got more of it.And I completely forgot from waaaay back in the day just after Maddy had been kidnapped and Hilda was on the self-blame train again and wouldn't let up on her failure to protect Maddy:"Fine. If you’re so keen on getting it, your punishment is…(write in)">You will apologize to my fiancé after she has been rescued.Just to tie up loose ends.
>>2521575>>2521614This works.Ive forgotten if we've told Maddalyn about our dream adventures.
Not feeling fantastic, but writing.>>2521801The first time it occurred, you told her. She concluded that it was poltergeist messing with you at the time, because the place he told you you were at was a place she declared fictional. It's here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/1199686/#p1201953There have been more visitations since but not really any discussion of it; she got sent away before the next one of note, then captured.
“I want to ask you a few things first, actually,” you said, and Maddalyn went white as a sheet; it was an accomplishment that as pale as she was, she could get any more so. “Before that, though, I want to get Hilda here somewhere where she can rest some. She does deserve it.”“Wait.” Hilda piped up, and stepped forward. Hilda was as tall as you were, which meant that she stood high over Maddalyn as she approached and lingered before her for a second, waiting, before saying, “You wouldn’t have gone through this if I did my job. You wouldn’t have lost an eye. I want to say that I’m sorry. Sorry that I failed.” Courtesy would have demanded Hilda kneel for this, but Maddalyn was more surprised than anything. It would have to do.“I, uh,” Maddalyn put her hands behind her back, “It’s…nothing. You’re forgiven. For uh, that.”“I’m also sorry for…” Hilda stopped. “…never mind.” She sauntered around and went for the door again.“Wait, don’t you-“ you tried to arrest Hilda’s exist, but she was out of reach. “I’ll find somebody. You’ve got business to finish.”“Er. Right then.” You sputtered out, not sure what to say to that, as Hilda went around the corner and left you and Maddalyn where you were. “Are you sure you couldn’t try anything else?” you asked sidelong to Maddalyn, “It’s not her wounds could get worse.”“Yes they could,” Maddalyn corrected you bluntly, “If you tried to use soulbinder technique upon her. The Riverboy or whatever’s presence is still lodged in her body, if there’s something besides her, my stitch won’t work. It could cause more decay, maybe a detonation, and if I were to really mess up…something that could kill her for sure, and maybe me, too.”“Fine, fine,” you let your hands up, “They could get worse. What if I asked Poltergeist what I could do?”Maddalyn’s frown deepened. “Is he here?”“Not as far as I know. When I go to sleep, I go to a weird dream place and talk to him sometimes. One there was a weird, floating…tentacly thing.”Maddalyn took a step forward, then an uneasy other one, and ran her hands about your head, on top, around back, on the sides.“Uh.” You stared at her, “Not that I don’t appreciate this, whatever it is, but,”“Do you have a head wound?”Oh. “Ha ha. You’re hilarious.”“I’m serious.” Maddalyn took her hands off of you and returned your gaze unhappily. “…Like I said back then…how long has it even been? He’s playing tricks on you. Soulbinders are bad news. He wants something, he wants you to owe him.”“He’s actually given me a few things,” you noted.
“Something that you asked for,” Maddalyn said specifically, “He can do whatever mischief he likes if he thinks it’s his idea, but Soulbinders aren’t people like you and me. You can’t trust them.”“Even yours? The Hermit?” you asked.“Especially not.” Maddalyn said bitterly. “I know you made a deal with one to save me. We’re lucky all he wanted was money. Poltergeist is bad news, nobody that powerful is up to anything good.”This fear seemed rather unreasonable to you. “Well, would you rather have Poltergeist bothering us, or another one? An Oblitares?”Maddalyn’s eyes widened. “Another one?”“There was one in Todesfelsen. He was just sitting around, and he used some sort of…sorcery, I don’t know what it was. He was staring at the place where you cured my wounds, and he was following me around. I don’t think he followed me out of the city, but I definitely have his attention. His magic was something like…he made me not think about what he was, somehow, or remember things about soulbinders. It was strange.”“He’s strong,” Maddalyn summed up. She hung her head, ruffled up her hair, and let out a low groan of frustration. “Aaarrgh! Of course another one of those freaks has to pop up. There’s only one for so long, and now they’re sprouting out of the ground! Unbelievable. Don’t they know they’re supposed to be near mythical?”“So, ah,” you tried to butt into Maddalyn’s tirade, “How do we deal with him? Can we disguise ourselves, detect him before he gets near somehow, like with the can? Only not.”“We don’t need to disguise ourselves, he hasn’t bothered marking you,” Maddalyn settled down on the window bench again with a huff, “He marks you, he marks you for everybody, and if he’s an Obliwhatever, if what you said about them being rivals of the other soulbinders is true, he doesn’t want to attract anybody attention. So he can’t find us easily anyways. Likewise, we can’t find him easily either. He’s not like the newbie in Salzbrucke. Once they’re a certain level, the only way you can tell what he is, is for somebody like me to look at him, or notice his golem.”“Surely we can do better than just doing nothing.”“Doing nothing is the best option.” Maddalyn declared, “Unless we were to hope that, somehow, Poltergeist has convenient enough timing to show up to destroy whoever this other person is, instead of just popping up to mock us before disappearing.”“I don’t like that plan much.”Maddalyn looked up at you, and seated her head in her palms. “Richter, are you tired? You’re slurring your words a little.”
“No I’m not.” Yes you were. Tired, at least.Maddalyn shifted uneasily. “I think we’re safe here, for now. Even if that soulbinder found us, I don’t think we’re who he’s looking for. Otherwise he would have just taken you instead of following you around. We can figure this out later, if we even have to.”You were too tired to argue any further. “Perhaps,” you acquiesced, slouching up next to Maddalyn and sitting next to her. “That would certainly be courteous of him.”“…Was there…anything else?” Maddalyn asked uncertainly.“What? No.”“Oh.” Maddalyn breathed a sigh, “O-okay.” You leaned over and pressed your head onto Maddalyn’s thighs. Hers weren’t as broad as Hilda’s but they were softer. “Ah,” Maddalyn squirmed, “What are you doing?”“I’m tired. Is this alright with you?”“Uh. Yeah,” Maddalyn chirped, “It’s…it’s nice.”Maddalyn’s perfume filled your senses again. “Is this the same sort you had on back in Strossvald?” you asked, drowsy.“Yes,” Maddalyn said back, wrapping her arms around your head, “The Lord Wossehn was kind enough to retrieve the exact scent for me. I’m glad you recognized it…I hoped it would be, I don’t know, nostalgic? It’s Bluebell Honey. Do you…do you like it?”“Of course.” Nostalgic. Yes. But in more ways than one. Where, you thought as you turned your head and buried your head into Maddalyn’s thighs in the lewd way befitting a lover rather than a simple comforting friend, provoking a squeak from her.
A flash. The truck. The Bat Company man complaining of the sweet scent, the residual smell of it that you’d detected a few times. Maddalyn spilling her perfume when she was first captured, and the truck…had been retrieved from the Intelligence Office operatives.You were still tired, but now you couldn’t sleep. It was possible, perhaps even undeniable, the more you thought about it. Maddalyn had been captured by the very people that had sent you to rescue her. What other explanation could there be? That this specific scent would be there, and also in the vehicle you were provided?“Maffawen,” you talked into Maddalyn’s thighs.“What?” Maddalyn was all tense from you rubbing your face from side to side; she clearly didn’t like it, but hadn’t objected directly. “I can’t hear you over…you know…”You rolled your head to the side. “When you were kidnapped. You poured your perfume all over the place, right? Did you dump it in a truck? Were you carried somewhere in a truck?”“…Yes, I was carried in a truck, and I dumped most of the bottle there, then I was transported someplace else, then in a plane, but…how did you know about me pouring it in a truck? Did you…find the vehicle? Where?”Damn. Damn. Why? What was the meaning of this? The cold, logical ball of ice, ever present, felt like it was beginning to grow soft, melt…it was telling you all was well, but was it really? That part of your mind had always known what to do, saved you in battle, would the instinct from it be incorrect?>This is too much. Not now. You wanted to doze off and forget as much as you could about today.>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren’t meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what? >Other? [Risk of Trance Stability Damage depending on answer and conclusions of theorizing] It may be wise to consider the potential effects of too much damage to one's psyche, if one were to intentionally go about trying to tear it down for some reason.
>>2522305>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren’t meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?LOYAL DOGOYALDOG
>>2522305>>This is too much. Not now. You wanted to doze off and forget as much as you could about today.Richter is just tired and exhausted and creating crazy conspiracy theories. We should go to bed, the Arch Duke protects his loyal vassals.
>>2522305>>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what?We shouldn't drive ourselves crazy but this thought is too important to let slip away. Something is happening outside of our control and we should at least make efforts in the future to find out what it is. There must be someone somewhere who can tell us more about what's going on.
>>2522303>>This is too much. Not now. You wanted to doze off and forget as much as you could about today.Can we a least sleep and be rested before diving into this?
>>2522305>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what?
>>2522305>>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren’t meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?Certainly our good Archduke has reasons, no need to break the conditioning. Maddalyn might not buy us pushing it off as nothing though.
>>2522305>Other?Let's not panic yet. Find the batman and let him smell the perfume to make certain before we make a conclusion
>>2522305>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren't meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?Let's go home, while we've been mucking around in the boonies those snobs in the Academy 1st company are winning glory in the west and soon in the east!
>>2522305>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what?I can't help it I have to double vote
>>2522305>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what? I'm retarded.
>>2522305>>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren’t meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?
>>2522305>>There was surely a good reason for this. You just weren’t meant to know it. You had no reason to think otherwise, did you?Loyalty is it's own reward
>>2522305Oh sweet baby Jesus I just don't know.Part of me wants to see Richter break like a snail along a straight razor, dividing itself through motion towards truth. And wonder what he turns into.And the other part thinks that maybe he should get some sleep.>This is too much. Not now. You wanted to doze off and forget as much as you could about today.There will be time to investigate.
I am now cognizant.This was certainly slim. Writing now.
>>2523644In fact it was so slim I miscounted and didn't realize we were tied. Shit.I'll wait til after dinner to see if anything breaks, and if not, I'll roll off.
>>2523688just fold the sleep it off votes into the there was a good reason for this votes
>>2522305>>Something was rotten. You were being treated the fool, and so many men being danced as puppets, for what?Who needs sanity anyways?
Rolled 2, 5, 5, 4, 5 = 21 (5d10)Something was wrong, rotten. You and your companions had been sent so far, fought so hard, and had been tricked into doing so. No, not them. All had followed you; who had been the only one to be fooled. Even so, they and so many others were being danced like puppets, and for what? What was the purpose of the subterfuge, to use against one who had been nothing but loyal?“Dear?” Maddalyn noticed your tension, “What is the matter?”A creak, as your teeth ground together. Part of you wanted to say that it was nothing; that you were making up conspiracies and that loyalty was its own reward; and much of you still agreed, wanted desperately for there to be nothing wrong, for this just to be a case of reasons being merely need to know knowledge, than an explanation, satisfactory ones, would come in time. There was too much a mystery now, though, and too little patience to wait for its solutions to be presented by others; the misdeeds had been admittedly few, but what they implied led your mind down one track, then another, to dangerous places.You got up. Exhaustion grabbed at you as much as it had before, but Maddalyn’s lap was not the place for these thoughts. The poor, sweet thing had been betrayed by her own people, even the shadiness of the Intelligence Office, you presumed, was ultimately controlled by the Archduchy, and only plotted for the benefit of it and its people. What benefit did it do to have your fiancée, who was of no threat to anybody, imprisoned, mauled, potentially slaughtered? How deep did this hole run? Much could be thrown away if the answer was uncaring cruelty and incompetence, but you knew the Intelligence Office was no such organ. “Dear, where are you going?” Maddalyn asked after you, “Won’t you speak with me? Richter!”The scent could be contested, perhaps, the Bat Company man could be asked about it, but you severely doubted that it would all turn out to be a coincidence. If it wasn’t Maddalyn’s perfume, what had the smell been, and why would it have been in a truck provided by the Intelligence Office operatives? As far as you were concerned now, there was foul play somewhere…even if you’d so much rather that not be the case. Your head ached, mixing with your fatigue to produce an indescribable feeling. The only one who could know was you; maybe others had a suspicion, but that was it. Nobody else was in a position to have seen all of the pieces to this puzzle. Did they have a right to know, or was it best to have them continue to think of things as you had, with any suspicions being unjust? 5d10 trance damage
“Richter!” Maddalyn sounded distant as you stormed down the stairs. Wossehn’s castle was suffocating you; Sosaldt was a cave you’d been lost in for too long, and you were rather wanting to just go home and forget about all this. You’d won great victories, part of you shouted in protest, you’d saved many, been involved in deposing the wicked, rescued a woman who absolutely adored you, what was there to complain about? Perhaps nothing. Yet somehow the thought that it had come about through being fooled, toyed with, put a terribly bitter taste behind it all. You needed to go outside; at least Sosaldt, for its dust and its grime, had lovely sunsets. It would do you good to go out and watch the one coming up.The pavilion in the gardens was empty; what would normally be a romantic rendezvous point during a party would do well as a refuge from the world for you. You stumbled over to a bench and sat deeply into it, surrounded by the green scent of evergeen hedges and autumn chill. The northerly wind that had brought the dust storm earlier lingered still. It was perhaps pleasant, really; Wossehnalia was a city, but being in Sosaldt, there were not nearly as many automobiles as, say, Strossadt, and it was much less noisy. Less things to distract you from gazing at the golden sky, the sun, red through clouds.“Richter, where are you going?!” Maddalyn called again; she was panting, off balance, like she was unused to the heels she walked in. “Would you answer me? You just walked off…why? You’re acting strange, and I don’t like it, especially not after you asked me about that other matter.”>Tell Maddalyn about how she was kidnapped by her own country, as part of a plot to get you over here, perhaps even more. She deserves to know.>It would only distress Maddalyn, not to mention everybody else, if you said anything. Keep it all a secret; you would deal with all of this yourself.>Other? Trance: 79/100. Integrity has been compromised; greater damage over a short term may have harmful effect on psyche.
>>2524154>>It would only distress Maddalyn, not to mention everybody else, if you said anything. Keep it all a secret; you would deal with all of this yourself.Side note: How did we get this trance thing? Is it just a pure psychological defence or is some magic thing involved?
>>2524154>>It would only distress Maddalyn, not to mention everybody else, if you said anything. Keep it all a secret; you would deal with all of this yourself.
>>2524252Don't worry about it. I'm sure it's nothing.
>>2524154>>It would only distress Maddalyn, not to mention everybody else, if you said anything. Keep it all a secret; you would deal with all of this yourself.We can trust some of our officers like Von Metzeler and CPT Honnrieg, but the less Maddy knows the better. Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2-4rJmYEfU
>>2524310>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2-4rJmYEfUThat's how we gotta do it. Slow and steadily we can ease ourselves out of our brainwashing dependency. Just like quitting heroin. Easy peasy.
>>2524154>It would only distress Maddalyn, not to mention everybody else, if you said anything. Keep it all a secret; you would deal with all of this yourself.Oh god the implications.If it has been a ploy, why send us? Because we're expendable. What they really needed was to deliver some tanks to Loch with plausible deniability.This would also mean Maddy was chosen as expendable, likely by her own father.
“I’m fine,” you lied, “I just needed some fresh air.”Maddalyn looked at you sideways, quizzically, worried. “You haven’t been here for that long. You need fresh air after only a few minutes inside?” She stood in front of you and clasped her hands behind her back, shifting her attention to someplace right of you. “I don’t know much about war, or anything like that, but if you need to talk, or if I can help at all, I want to.”Maddalyn shouldn’t be told about this, though. If anybody, perhaps your most trusted officers, but you didn’t see it doing Maddy any good. You would handle all of this yourself, ideally; the less people who knew, the better. She already suspected something regardless, and you doubted you could come up with something that would soothe her concerns.“I’m tired, and not thinking straight.” Both truths. “I don’t know, I just want to sleep, now. I’ll be better after that.” You stretched out and lay on the bench. “Though I don’t know how much I can get on this hard wood.”Maddalyn sat down next to you without speaking, and you pulled her towards her to put your crown in its proper place. Much better.“It’s very vexing, you know,” Maddalyn muttered as she shifted her legs around under you, “If you won’t tell me what’s wrong, all I’m good for is a headrest.”“I’ve never had a better one.”“Hmph.”Maddalyn wasn’t impressed. You had to try at least one other thing before dozing off, though judging from the ineffectiveness of your flirtation, you wouldn’t be able to come up with much.“I wish you could see the sunset here,” you said idly, “in an hour or so, the sky turns a lovely orange-red color. I’ve seen flower gardens that dream of having similarly striking hues. Gold as it is now is fine, I suppose. Enough for you looking out the window to seem convincing. Did it get boring, to pretend that the whole time?”“Whether I could see out it or not made no difference, really,” Maddalyn replied, “I wouldn’t be able to see you either way. What sort of orange red, though, is the sky at dusk? I’ve heard many things described like that.”“It’s just like your hair,” you said with as much huskiness as you could, reaching up and pulling a curly lock lightly and letting it bounce back up.A blush, a smile, perhaps both would have been appreciated, but Maddalyn just looked down at you vacantly and sighed slightly. “It’s fine,” Maddalyn muttered, “You are tired. If the manor is too stuffy for you, I can stay out here with you.”No more words were exchanged, which was probably for the better. Though you couldn’t get lingering thoughts of conspiracy out of your mind as you drifted away. I really ought to decide whether or not to do a quick shitty background before rather than after the character
Somehow, you had been half woken and guided to a bed between then and when you came to again. Or, at least, that was your only explanation for how you got to your current position; funnily enough, neither time sent you on a trip to the place between for a visit to Poltergeist’s hut. Either the Demiphantom was not feeling like tugging you near it, or the new soulbinder had disrupted your connection somehow. Probably something to be thankful for. Your current place of rest was a large bed, like you’d stayed in before at Lord Wossehn’s place, but all was dark, the curtains dimly backlit by lights from the city being the only indication that you weren’t in an abyss. Somebody had stripped you of your jacket, boots, and pants, leaving you in your undershirt and boxers. Probably wise; your other outfit had been well stained with grease, oil and sweat. That was a replacement in itself; if you hadn’t changed your jacket before entering the fort, you’d have been soaked with Anya’s blood as well. Hopefully you had been the one to take things off this time as well.Unlike your last stay here, you had company in this bed. Slender arms were wrapped tightly around your middle, and Maddalyn was gripping you tightly from behind, her flat chest leaving no doubt as to who was affectionately pressed against you. You were in your current state of dress, you wondered, so you reached an inquisitive hand back to see if Maddalyn was similarly garbed. Was she in her underwear? In the nude, perhaps? No. She was wearing pajamas. Oh well. Perhaps that should have been obvious from the feeling, but you were groggy and hopeful. This was a very comfortable position to be in, and evidently your rest had been deemed important enough to let you sleep the night away; hopefully any victory festivities had been delayed. What had caused you to wake up at all, you wondered? “I-I’m cold…” Maddalyn whined frailly. “Somebody help…somebody…”She wriggled against you fitfully. She must have been having a nightmare; she had been having one when you slept together the other time, too. How frequently must she have had them?“I’m so cold…freezing…Daddy…Please!” Maddy thrashed, and gasped. She withdrew her grip and sat bolt upright, still panting. Instead of laying back down, she got up, and started to pad lightly away, not towards the bathroom, but to the door. How could she see anything..? Oh, right. The way she saw things meant she needed no light. She probably didn’t even realize how dark it was right now.>Let her go. She had let you be for a reason.>Do your best to surreptitiously follow her.>Stop her, and ask her if she’s alright.>Other?
>>2524813>>Stop her, and ask her if she’s alright.Artwork is great as always Tanq.
>>2524813>Stop her, and ask her if she’s alright.
>>2524813>>Stop her, and ask her if she’s alright.
>>2524808Maddy a cute.Sunset a pretty.>>2524813>Hug her, and ask her if she’s alright.
>>2524813Give her a sloppy bj to calm her down
She couldn’t be left to just leave, could she? You got up hurriedly, and turned on the electric lamp by the bed. Maddalyn noticed the sound immediately, and froze in place; she didn’t turn to look at you; instead she chirped, and tugged at the collar of her pajama shirt, pink and trimmed with white floral patterns. Maybe more doll clothes, maybe not. She remained still as you stood, walked over, and embraced her around her shoulders. You would have been quite a sight, her in such clothes and you in a ragged undershirt and shorts, which had grown well-worn over the course of your time on the road and in Sosaldt.“Are you alright?” you asked lightly, “You were talking in your sleep. Moving around.”“Ah, I woke you,” Maddalyn touched one of your arms with a hand. She grew tense in your grasp, and her breath stuck in her throat. “W-what did I say?” “You said you were cold, and that you needed help.”“That was it?”“You also called for your father. Other than that, no, nothing.”“Ah.” Maddalyn loosened, “O-okay. Okay then.”“But are you alright?” you repeated yourself.“Yes. I am…” Maddalyn said wistfully, stroking the arm she had tentatively felt, “I just thought I’d walk about. I was frightened, by my dream.”“What was it?”“Oh, some…something that happened a long time ago.” Maddalyn said dismissively, perhaps forcefully so, “I was just going to wander around, I didn’t want to tour it earlier, when you were away. Wossehn said the maid doesn’t get violent unless you go near his office at night.”The maid? His office, not his bedroom? What?...Well, it mattered little. “So are you coming back to bed, then?” you asked.Maddalyn hemmed and hawed. “Er…of course I am.” She might have thought that she would walk back, but she was wrong. “Ahh! Richter!” she scolded as you swept her up, “There is no need for this!”“Of course there is,” you told Maddalyn matter of factly as you put her back in bed and turned out the lights, “I’m certain that somewhere in our contracts, there is a stipulation that your tiny stature must be exploited whenever possible.”“There is absolutely not any such statement,” Maddalyn grumbled.“How can you say for sure? Did you read it?”“Of course I did,” Maddalyn pulled sheets over herself as she wriggled into the bed like a mouse into a nest, “Didn’t you?” You answered her with awkward silence. “Your father is a lawyer and you don’t even read your own marriage contract.” You lazily slipped under the covers with her, reached out and Maddy to your chest. She lifted a hand and placed it on your breast inquisitively, before snuggling into you. “I’m sorry to be such a bother. Goodnight.”-----
Morning came, this time properly with dawn and the calls of birds. Apparently it wasn’t cold enough to try and find warmer climes just yet, though with the Great Gale to the south blocking their usual vacation spot, you wondered how many species simply elected to endure, or if the local fauna was unlike Strossvald’s, and always lingered. The humans certainly seemed to follow such. Pins and needles pierced your left forearm, with intensity that you couldn’t feel nor move your hands; Maddalyn had shifted while you were both sleeping and put all her weight on it. The little lady was still fast asleep, of course; unless awoken by a nightmare, it seemed, she wouldn’t stir for anything mundane. She remained still as you carefully yanked your arm, itself as asleep as Maddy was, from under her.“Tch,” you clicked your tongue as all of it began to hurt, and you used your limber hand to squeeze the other, trying to get some feeling into it. Having no spare clothes, you simply slipped into the ones you had deposited on the floor. Familiar filth; Maddalyn hadn’t complained about it, so you presumed you weren’t as dirty as you could be yet, somehow. It wasn’t like you had a spare “uniform” to get into- the limited changes were back with the platoon’s luggage at HQ, and you certainly wouldn’t go there in your underclothing anyways.
Eyes brightening once more after much needed rest, you wondered if you should wake Maddalyn. Surely there was business to attend do with the Republic, at the very least a situation update, from the status of the city, to your formation, to Von Metzeler and Honnrieg’s progress with collecting your countrymen. A tentative check of your pocketwatch, in the jacket’s pocket, told you that you had only woken a few minutes late for normal reveille; not that the Republic sounded any bugles for that. A detail that had been cut out of the rapid crafting of the new army, but hopefully not one to be forgotten forever. Not everybody could wake in as timely a manner as you could, after all.Yet Maddalyn was still asleep; and wouldn’t appreciate you leaving her, you anticipated, without at least bidding her good morn. Perhaps your men would understand if you spent some time with her before getting to business; especially now that the bloodying times were over. Hilda was also somewhere around; perhaps you should check on her, or maybe, you could enjoy some time to yourself in the gardens, and wait to be summoned instead of going out yourself?>Wake up Maddalyn; you would share the morning with her. [You’ll need an idea to try waking her with; she has proven in the past to be an abnormally heavy sleeper]>News was most prudent; you’d had your time off, and if you had no health or fatigue problems impeding your mind and senses, you had no reason to stave off your command duties any longer.>Let Maddalyn sleep, you could give yourself some leisure time. What could possibly demand your attention if you hadn’t been torn out of bed as is?>Anything else?
>>2525804>News was most prudent; you’d had your time off, and if you had no health or fatigue problems impeding your mind and senses, you had no reason to stave off your command duties any longer.But leave Maddy a note that we are heading off just to check with Wossehn or at least that we have t left the grounds yet.Wouldn't be bad idea to check on Hilda and see if she actually relaxed any. It may be a fruitless dream, but dammit someday we will see her in a dress!
>>2525804>>Wake up Maddalyn; you would share the morning with her. [You’ll need an idea to try waking her with; she has proven in the past to be an abnormally heavy sleeper]Kisses are the only way. Also maybe breakfast. After that we should head straight back to our business. Republics don't build themselves.
>>2525804>>News was most prudent; you’d had your time off, and if you had no health or fatigue problems impeding your mind and senses, you had no reason to stave off your command duties any longer.
Maddalyn would appreciate waking up to a kiss, you thought for a moment as you buttoned your collar, but then you thought otherwise; it hadn’t woken her up the last time, and you’d rather not experiment with ways to wake the Von Blum up without aggravating her. A note would have to do. Thankfully, a pad and pencil was easily found- beside a scrawled list of what looked like inventory. Not all that old, either; this room must have been new, and consistently redecorated, with each change meticulously recorded; presumably if the eccentric lord preferred another style of arrangement. Also thank goodness that your blind fiancée could read handwritten words; how that worked, you couldn’t fathom, but you knew little of how anything related to soul-presence gobbledygook worked whatsoever, and it was easy enough to just accept as being the way it worked; especially after much less explainable events had made themselves now commonplace.After writing an explanation of where you went and hoping your fiancée wouldn’t be too disappointed that you left her, you bent down and kissed her on her forehead before leaving out the door. Immediately to your left, upon exiting, was one of Wossehn’s butlers. A cross shaped scar on his forehead indicated a typically violent life before somehow ending up in more domestic employ.“Er,” you said awkwardly, “Can I help you?”“I ask you the same,” the servant said to you. “The Lord instructed me to attend to you when you awoke.”“How long have you been standing there?”“Not long. The other guest rooms needed to be inspected in the meantime.” The servant answered clearly, though was obviously uninterested in relaying his schedule. “You have any requests I can help with?”“My fiancée is still asleep in there,” you gestured back to the now closed door.“She will not be disturbed. Do you want any victuals? Breakfast is being prepared for a gathering.”“A gathering?” you asked.“The Lord has invited Lady Vang and her council to attend. You and your significant other’s attendance would not be unexpected or unwelcome.”“I see,” you nodded, “Actually, I was wondering if I could be driven back to my unit. The 1st Republic Armor Battalion, after perhaps meeting with a couple of people. Hilda, the scarred woman I brought with me, and Lord Wossehn himself. Perhaps in that order.”“The lady is staying not far from your own place,” the servant backed away and pointed helpfully, “The door may be locked, and she not awake at such an hour, however.”
You doubted it. Hilda was a huntress; likely used to waking up early, rising with the animals she preyed upon. A knock on the door confirmed such suspicions.“Who is it.” Came from behind the door while it opened slightly; Hilda peered around the corner, one hand in front of her face and the other pulling the door aside; both were a disturbing black and ashen color, but they weren’t what made you avert your eyes. She was garbed in but a towel draped around her neck and both ends dangling over her chest. Maybe Hilda wouldn’t have cared if it was the servant, but upon seeing you, she immediately shut the door. “J-just a minute.”“I can come back later,” you offered, but no response came, so you loitered about until Hilda called you in again. When you entered, you expected to find her in her usual apparel, but instead she had wrapped herself in her bedsheets, practically buried herself in them, with the sheets pulled up past her nose; she looked at you from inside the pile like a gopher peeping out of its hole.“Er, are you, decent?” You asked carefully.“This is good enough,” Hilda replied, eyes downcast, “Too much to do to get dressed now. Have to wrap up my arms and legs again. Bath helped, but the wounds’re still…dirty. Took longer because I had to change the water, but it makes them feel better.”“Should you be bathing when you’re wounded?” you asked.“Can’t go too long without a bath. Don’t like it. Didn’t open anything anyways.”“I see,” you said, leaning against the wall opposite the bed. Hilda pulled more sheets to herself, burrowing deeper. “Did you get good rest? Lord Wossehn’s having a bunch over for breakfast soon. I’m sure you’re invited to the occasion.”Hilda sank deep enough into her sheets that you could barely see her eyes at all. “Thanks. Really. But I’d rather not.”She didn’t sound like she didn’t want to; rather more like she couldn’t somehow.>Formally insist.>If that’s what she wants. Though her share will be delivered, you would make sure.>Ask about some other things (write in)>Other?
>>2527081>>If that’s what she wants. Though her share will be delivered, you would make sure.
>>2527081>Promise to tear that Riverschmuck a new one if we ever find him.
>>2527081Just have breakfast with her and Maddy, or lunch
>>2527228I don't think Maddy likes her company.
>>2527081>Other?Diplomatic optionInvite her to eat with us and Maddy separate from the gathering. Part of me doesn't want Richter to go because I'm near certain that Signy will want us to be more involved in Republic affairs and Loch will want our tanks to do something.I do want Maddy and Signy and Hilda all to meet at least once though...But best to enjoy this brief moment of civilization, get back to our unit and roll out with the hostages.We can deliver the m/28s we promised Illger when we are close to the border.
>>2527465Damn, also ask Hilds if she wants to stop fighting and stay at the castle. She's done enough.
>>2527228>>2527465seconding the separate meal for the three of themaswell as the sentiment of not wanting to get caught up in anymore republic stuff unless it has to do with the missing batch of strossvalders>>2527081
>>2527081>If that’s what she wants. Though her share will be delivered, you would make sure.
>>2527081+1 >>2527465>>2527260Then she will suffer her company. She can be a stuck up noble and jealous bitch all she wants but she better fucking start appreciating everything Hilda has done and suffered through for her.There's a limit to how ungrateful you can be towards a person and I think that line is crossed by leaps and bounds when a wizard melts your soul and body, and a bit further back when you infiltrate the enemy stronghold and whore yourself to the target you need to assassinate.
“If you’d rather not come to a crowd, how about a more private gathering? With my fiancée and I.”That gave Hilda pause for thought. Not much though, as she replied, “I don’t think she likes me.”“Tough.” You said this haughtily, but Hilda didn’t share your confidence that Maddalyn would tolerate her, judging from the look she gave you. “Really, she’ll be fine. It’s not a problem with you, it’s just….a thing.” Said thing being that, by her own admission but a couple of days ago, Maddalyn was rather territorial when it came to you and interacting with other members of the fairer sex. You’d thought that your constant poking and prodding at her would parry her utterly wretched self-esteem, but apparently not, or not enough.“…You haven’t told her, have you.” Hilda stated blankly, “I’m the worst person to be around her, you know. I apologized for failing to protect her. She didn’t care that much. Don’t think it’ll be the same if I tell her I tried to steal her man.”You rubbed your brow and sighed. “That’s all in the past.” Though Hilda half closed her eyes to that and looked down, as if to ask, ”Is it?”. Well, as far as you were concerned, it was; especially after all she’d done. “Do you want to keep trucking with us?” You asked, “You’ve done more than enough fighting. You can stay at this castle, if you want. It’s a nice place, isn’t it?”“Maybe.” You didn’t like Hilda’s quick, yet indecisive answer. “I don’t mind fighting. Blood, pain, fear, I know them all. I was used to them before I joined you. I don’t think I could stay here though. My brother’s blood is mine too. I’d just end up in trouble somewhere anyways. Best to stay with somebody I…prefer. What’s the worst that could happen. I get more scars.” Hilda tried to be sardonic with the last part but it fell rather flat, in your opinion.“Are they that bad? You’re practically entombed.” you asked after yet another awkward silence. Hilda had practically buried herself in her sheets so deeply that her eyes barely peeked out. “If I find the Riverman again, the wizard who did that, I’ll make sure he’s properly recompensed for his carelessness.” He did save Maddalyn…but he had also been very well paid. Some reprimanding for sloppy work would practically be expected.“Well,” Hilda shifted in place, “I’m naked.”“Yet you answered the door that way,” you pointed out. Silence. “Do break fast with Maddalyn and I, though,” you insisted. “Ideally after getting dressed.” At least from the neck to middle, elsewise Maddalyn would be intimidated indeed, you wanted to joke, but flirting with Hilda hadn’t ended up well for either of you. Could you help it, though? Hilda had seemed too pitiful to not treat kindly. If only she’d gone the way Signy had. Or maybe it would have been kinder to leave well enough alone.
You wouldn’t let that be the case though, you thought as you left Hilda with a brief farewell. After you took a short drive to get updates from your platoon and battalion, you’d come back and at least have a good morning with her and Maddalyn. Maybe you could get the latter to accept the former, maybe eventually as a friend. It would certainly aid your ambition to put Hilda in a domestic setting rather than getting her to tour battlefields until she suffered from too many wounds for her body to handle and died.In any case, even if she didn’t want to attend, you’d make sure her share of food was delivered.-----A valet met you outside, and drove you in a surprisingly mundane looking car (considering the Lord’s typical tastes) to the outskirts of the city.“Your tank group left the city and got replaced by more of the normal army, so I hear,” the valet chatted you up on the way. “You’d think people’d say from seeing ‘em, but nah, a whole flood of fellas swarmed the brothels the other night. Bragged a lot that they were 1st Republic Armor Battalion, men of the hour. Course, if you yammer to a lady of the night, whatever you said’ll get around. Faster than most news, I’d reckon.”“Really,” you mused.“Aye. You’re the boss of them, yeah? Heard you lost a lot of guys, same source. Sorry to hear, really am. Probably’ll get a fat reward from Cyclops, though. You gonna see her bout that?”To be honest, you weren’t looking forward to seeing Signy again, and perhaps not for the right reasons. As time went on she went from being a friend to more a political figure, and you couldn’t help but think that next you met, she’d have some request or demand, seeing as you were one of the more potent tools in her arsenal. A mission that would further delay going home, with your mission accomplished. Or perhaps, more accurately, you’d be held up by Loch, or on his behalf. Either way, the republican dreamer had unfortunately turned into a potential obstacle.A shame, really. You’d have liked to invite her to your little gathering, if not for such a risk.“We’ll see,” you answered shortly.It wasn’t long, especially with the Valet’s terrifying racer-like driving he took to after your conversation. He was the sort of man, it seemed, who always needed to be engaged somehow. He offered to wait for you as you got out, but you dismissed him; a driver from your own ranks would be much better for your health on the way back. It took little time to find your fellows, not only by uniform, but because of the equipment. Von Metzeler noticed you returning, and met you halfway.“Lieutenant,” he said stiffly, saluting. “Lieutenant,” you replied, making the same motions.“Did you rest well?”“Well enough. You?”
“Active operations ceased by nightfall,” Von Metzeler told you, “The formation was made to exit the city, replaced by infantry formations for the purposes of occupation and pacification. The Captain remained in the city overnight to account for missing hostages, though most of the missing ones have been found, save for the ten missing children, who are being…followed up upon. Some adults have been identified as having perished. Nine of the men are still missing, with six of the drafted, both miners and home guard recruits, having been confirmed as killed in the recent fighting.” You cursed under your breath. That was near half of the missing male hostages either still gone or gone for good. The brutal fighting in an unfamiliar city must have made their chances of survival quite low, you had to admit to yourself.“The platoon and Bat Company?” you asked next.“No changes since your departure. We were able to rest for the night, as other formations took up our duties. However, all of the m/32 type tanks broke down upon moving out of the city, and had to be towed the rest of the way.” So they’d finally given up the ghost; you could only hope they could be coaxed the rest of the way. “Your contact with the Iron Hogs offered to address this, though.” Von Metzeler hadn’t been finished. “They are sending a maintenance detachment. I informed them of our lack of spare parts, but they rather rudely laughed at me.”A maintenance detachment. From what you could presume, one headed by the Iron Hogs’ mechanical savant. Your gunner’s sister, and radio operator’s old flame. Would be still flame, if what idle talk between Illger and his fellow mercenary commander had indicated.“All of the hostages have been given their own space in a separate camp,” Von Metzeler went on, “Guarded by our detachment of White Eyes. Our most trustworthy allies, it would seem. Most of our allied armor and grenadier commanders have not yet returned from the city.” He narrowed his eyes towards the settlement, “An unacceptable breach in discipline, however, we were released from the front, and assured that we would have no further part in armed affairs, that we would rest easy. I would much prefer to be prepared for otherwise, but if high command does not begrudge exchange of discipline for cheap thrills at inns, then I will not object to that decision.”>If nothing is required of us, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?>Very good. If you’ll carry on as you were, I will be back later. For now, I’m going to visit my crew.>Good to know. Unfortunately, I will have to ask you command in my stead for a bit longer; I have some events to attend to.>Thank you for the information. I want to know some more things, though…[Write In]>Other?The last time this fucker showed up in picture form was 101 images ago.
>>2529041>>If nothing is required of us, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?
>>2529041>If nothing is required of us, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?It'll be a good 'ole Strossvald reunion breakfast at this point, might as well. Also, maybe ask if he would meet us privately later to discuss our recent findings? Von Metzeler hasn't failed us yet.
>>2529041My, my, Rondo. Does that that haircut meet Strossvald grooming standards?I'd like to meet with the tank commanders in a more relaxed setting but I don't think we can let our guard down until we're safer near our home soil.We're too valuable to Loch (or dangerous) to just let go. It'd be so easy for Loch to have something impede our journey and delay just a little longer, stolen equipment, a hostage 'walks off', a crew member goes inexplicably missing etc. We need to be vigilant, we're only friends with these people until it becomes inconvenient.That said, we will have to talk to Republic command at some point if only to deal with the stolen kids at Glockenblume. It boils down to:>Good to know. Unfortunately, I will have to ask you command in my stead for a bit longer; I have some events to attend to.Don't forget Wossehn and the gold we stashed there.>Thank you for the information. I want to know some more things, though…[Write In]How's the morale of the men?How do YOU feel about all this?Any difficulties with Loch's lackeys?Captain Honnreig need any assistance finding the last of the hostages here?
>>2529041>>If nothing is required of us, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?It'll be fun to watch von Metzeler squirm at the table knowing that he would rather be out reorganizing the platoon. And being surrounded by some of our fellow "hero" officers could help present a stronger front to Signy or Loch or whoever might decide to make demands of us next.
>>2529041>If nothing is required of us, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?
“Thank you for the update, though, I have some more questions,” you said to Von Metzeler, “How are the men? Is morale satisfactory?”“They are seeing the end of our mission,” Von Metzeler said much in a few words, “Von Igel is still shaken, but with no battle in the near future, I believe he will be alright. Von Neubaum…will have to be stripped of his recently acquired harem. However, all other officers have behaved professionally.” Von Metzeler straightened as he paused and looked through you after that statement, “I must thank you once more, dearly, for rescuing Krause. That power is something that should not be abused for personal whims, and certainly not to favor oneself in matters of fate, but my debt to that man is…immeasurable. Now, so is my debt to you.”“It was,” you couldn’t help but feel a bit flushed at that, “It was duty. If anybody is to be debted to, it is my fiancée.”“Certainly. My ability to directly help a member of a family such as Von Blum, however, is miniscule. I would choose to favor her by favoring her husband.”“I see. It’s good to know that the men are doing well, but how do you feel about all of this?”Von Metzeler looked around himself, and then leaned in to say quietly. “To tell the truth, I somewhat dread what will happen upon our return. I have no doubt that any crime of desertion will be waived by our more valorous accomplishments; it is unspoken rule in military law. However, if one were motivated enough, they could use our transgression against the state as a blade against our throats, especially if those who sent us upon this mission in the first place refuse to acknowledge their part.”“Do you think they would do that?” you murmured back cautiously.“…No. It is likely just my nerves,” When you looked into Von Metzeler’s eyes as he said this, you couldn’t help but feel something had been off; something had changed inside when he thought about that. “I am more concerned about another opportunist taking advantage, particularly in whatever territory we return to. Pressure from a local government before the Archduchy proper participates in any of the finalizing matters, for example.”“Of course.” Von Metzeler didn’t know. Perhaps he suspected, but wouldn’t say. “Speaking of suspicious individuals, have you had any difficulties with Loch’s lackeys?”This should have been out much earlier, I apologize, I had a mild case of death by sleep deprivation.
Back to a business Von Metzeler felt he could speak loudly and clearly about, apparently. He had new energy as he spoke. “No. They have remained out of our affairs, and refreshingly lacking in demands. Other than light criticism about dramatic executions, perhaps. Upon that note. The Blue Barb soldiers that had been witnessed assaulting a civilian. If you had wanted to execute similar judgment upon them, there is no need. All perished of wounds during or soon after our battle at the armory.”Terribly convenient. Especially for your stomach. “One last matter. Did Captain Honnrieg need any assistance with his search for the last remaining hostages?”“No help was requested, and to be frank,” Von Metzeler appeared utterly unconcerned, “I do not think they need any. With direct information on where to find all of the missing persons, he anticipated being back by noon today at latest.”“Excellent.” Good news, at least. “Well, if nothing is required of us, and you’re just waiting for our allies to peel themselves out of dirtied beds, I don’t see why we can’t take some time off. Would you and some others like to have breakfast with me?”Von Metzeler frowned. “Who will be in attendance?”“I was thinking of having a fairly private meal. Signy…Cyclops, and Loch and his fellows will be eating with Lord Wossehn, but thus far I count my fiancée, and Hilda to be in attendance. Perhaps the other officers, and maybe my crew. They benefit from nepotism, and somebody has to stay with our equipment, after all.”Von Metzeler still looked uneased. “The Glennzsegler woman bristles at my presence, and at that of anybody save you and perhaps the Captain. I have been told that I do not make a good guest at any socials, either. Thank you thusly, but I would decline your offer, unless convinced otherwise. I would not want to be treated specially above the other officers, either, and I doubt that the Lord would appreciate an entire platoon being added to a potential guest list on such short notice. At least, his cooks would not appreciate it.”>Quit being such a tightass and come. We won the battle, I’m sure Lord Wossehn will make accommodations no matter who we take. You, the other officers, and my crew. We can treat the others some other way.>We’ll keep attendance limited. Just the officers will come; that should sidestep any offense taken. We are all noble blood, after all, and none would say any different of Krause anyways.>I’d rather this be a cozy affair, really. If you don’t want to come, that’s fine, but I don’t plan on having many people.>Other? [Modificatiosn to any guest preferences, really]
>>2530815>OtherSeparate the meetings; have the meal with Wossehn Maddy and Hilda, then maybe a round of drinks with our officers while we discuss what next.
>>2530815The girls and the crew. Our boys deserve some good food
>>2530853>>2530815This sounds good. Does this mean Von Metzeler is brainwashed too? The officers we picked up in the Blumlands can be shaken and our CO is too enchanted with his own death. Maybe our whole class is suspect, other than the academy when could they have gotten to us both?
>>2530815>We’ll keep attendance limited. Just the officers will come; that should sidestep any offense taken. We are all noble blood, after all, and none would say any different of Krause anyways.Let's do breakfast with Maddy/Hilda and lunch with the blue bloods, it'd be a good time to plan for the journey home as well.We can hang out with our crew when the maintenance company arrives, it would be fun to see their reaction.>>2531015Hell, they've probably done it to the whole class, who knows how far back this goes. Since Capt Honnreig knows about it, at least to Heller's time in the Academy.Speaking of, he's the one most knowledgeable about the subject and yet I'm not sure we should confide in him. He has already told us to drop the matter for our sanity, and I don't think he's in cahoots with the intelligence spooks, but I do think he would try to benevolently hamper our investigation for our own mental safety.
>>2529041Metzeler is one handsome devil.>>2530815>I’d rather this be a cozy affair, really. If you don’t want to come, that’s fine, but I don’t plan on having many people.I feel tha the option #2 excludes Hilda, and we have already promised her.
I probably won't be around a good while today, but I'll see if I can defeat sleep deprivation once I get done with the milsim game session.>>2531339Just to clear it up, Hilda's going in all of them. She doesn't deserve to be bullied at the moment.
>>2531598Then changing >>2531272 to:>>2530815>We’ll keep attendance limited. Just the officers will come; that should sidestep any offense taken. We are all noble blood, after all, and none would say any different of Krause anyways.
>>2531598>I probably won't be around a good while today,>Proceeds to not be around at allWew ladAnyways I'll be better today. I'll have an update out after lunch in an hour and a half or two.
“How about this, then,” you offered, “We, all of the officers of our group, can come together some time later, perhaps when the Captain gets back. It would be a good opportunity to discuss what we’re going to do next. Perhaps for lunch?”Von Metzeler accepted that. In his own way. “It would be a good time to do that. A clearer perspective might come round away from camp.” After the exchange, you made a brief inspection of the camp and your men and equipment; noting that Von Neubaum had emblazoned the T-15 with a rather uncouth name. Better than a crude (if accurate) reference to your fiancée, at least. Besides your own men, though, the 1st Battalion camp was surprisingly empty. A few still loitered about, but since the reinforcing Blue Barbs and White Eyes had apparently been separated once more, it became soberingly evident just how many losses had been taken. It was a good thing that the victory had been total…at least so far. Once more you longed for news of the home front. With how unprepared Valsten had been for your offensive even on the first day and the news you received on the way to Sosaldt, it was doubtful that some armistice hadn’t been called. A quick, easy war, the sort the nobility loved since it had the right balance of danger and prestige for the up and comings to fill out their potential biographies with war stories. Though you couldn’t help but wonder now, what was the strategic purpose? Not much thought had been given to it before, certainly, it hadn’t been your business, but now you found yourself oddly curious. Something to think about another time. For now, you had a breakfast to attend to; hopefully the main party wouldn’t demand your presence. Also hopefully, as you acquired a stray motorcycle, abandoned by a courier squad in camp, and started it up, Maddalyn would be awake when you returned. Your mind was inconsistent when it came to ideas on how to rouse her, and you wouldn’t be able to think about it while flying back. Especially, you thought as the motorbike chugged and grumbled, not on this hunk of junk.
Taking that vehicle may have been the worst decision in commandeering any transportation that you had ever made. The cobble streets combined with horrible shock absorption and a terrible seat had made your battered rear end numb by the time you idled the thing up to the gates of Lord Wossehn’s manor. One of the guards had rushed to collect your motorcycle as you let it crash to the ground spitefully; you tried to tell him not to bother, but he wouldn’t hear it. Maybe it was in poor taste to abuse the equipment so, but some vengeance had to be taken for your battered ass, especially since it would have to sit down once more, soon.Escorted as before, you found yourself back at you and Maddalyn’s room, and after making your request for private breakfast to the servant, you went in and found the redhead…still slumbering. With the nightmare having passed, she looked peaceful, if still troubled, and in her long light pink pajamas, looked even more youthful and girlish than usual, which was an incredible accomplishment for a woman who you were head and shoulders taller than despite you being of rather average height, and also lacking in any typical mass around the chest. Maybe if her collar wasn’t buttoned all the way up…No, that didn’t help much. It wouldn’t get any better with time, either; at twenty three years old, the pitiful amount of growth Maddy had had would have long ended. Astonishingly early too, if her sister was any indication; the two looked identical despite a six year difference. Almost eerily the same, really, aside from a slight change in hair length and birthmark location. Fashion, too.Maddalyn lay there, sheets thrown off of her but her chest still rising and falling with the breaths of deep sleep. Maybe you’d have to delay breakfast and make it brunch instead.>She had quite a day yesterday. She could be allowed to rest.>You were starving, and Hilda too, probably. Wake her! [Specify method; it’ll probably require more than a bit of effort, or exploitation of certain fears, though that may not play out too well]>She’s coming to breakfast, conscious or not. Put her over your shoulder.>Other?
>>2537992>You were starving, and Hilda too, probably. Wake her! [Specify method; it’ll probably require more than a bit of effort, or exploitation of certain fears, though that may not play out too well]Grope her
>>2538385Just a light pinch to see if she has some supernatural perception down here.And if that doesn't work a light kiss?And if that doesn't work breakfast smells?After that I have no idea, get the servants to rustle something really potent smelling?
>>2537992>>You were starving, and Hilda too, probably. Wake her! [Specify method; it’ll probably require more than a bit of effort, or exploitation of certain fears, though that may not play out too well]Shake her awake.
>>2538698Supporting. Light pinch followed by escalation.
Maddalyn had been given plenty of rest, you deemed, as you grabbed her by her shoulders and shook her. If it wasn’t for her breathing, you’d have thought she was a corpse, she was so limp. Shaking her back and forth hadn’t worked in the short term, and the way it flung her head about made you unwilling to do it for long; you had to come up with something else. With a hint of caution, you reached down behind Maddalyn, and sharply pinched her on the right of her bottom.“Mnn.” Maddalyn stirred slightly, but not much progress had been made.The development of that idea was one that you certainly wouldn’t try with any company. It only seemed terribly improper, you thought as you rolled Maddalyn over, you were only doing this because there seemed a decent chance this would wake her up, not because she was unaware and vulnerable. The more you thought about it, the less seemly it seemed, so you delayed it no further. Both hands snapped out and roughly assaulted Maddy’s behind. Any apprehension vanished as you dug your fingers into that tight, round prominence and squeezed as hard as you could. The way it demanded to be groped, with its shapeliness and firmness, distracted you from hearing its owner’s breath catching a few seconds into your attack.
“Hrrk.” Maddalyn lifted herself up and looked over her shoulder to her rear, then to you. You froze, hands still in the midst of pawing and pressing. “Richter.” She said sleepily, “What...Really? Really.” She turned over and your grip on her slipped away. “You’re such a freak.” Maddalyn rubbed her eyes and sniffed noisily, “Pig. Moron. Jerk. What is wrong with you?”“Uh.” Great, the day had barely started and you’d already pissed off your fiancée. “You weren’t waking up.”“So you molest me.” Maddalyn’s eyes were heavy with sleep, still. Well, one was. The one that had been cut out stared eerily at you, somehow piercing despite its lids being dark. She glared at you, eyes half closed and drowsy, as she pulled her knees up to her chest. “So why did I need to wake up, then, so much you had no choice but to grope me.”“I thought…it would be nice to have breakfast?” you said uncertainly. Maddalyn continued to peer at you skeptically, like you were making up some reason on the fly for touching her as you had. “Fine.” She stretched her legs out again and leaned forward. “My turn,” she grumbled as she reached out and wrapped her arms around your hips and grabbed your buttocks. “…I don’t see what the big deal is,” she grouched as you searched for words to respond to this.“Er, Lord Wossehn is having breakfast with a number of guests, but I thought we could have something more private,”“Go on,” Maddalyn grumbled as she withdrew one hand and slipped it under your shirt, sliding it up your stomach.“I’m not sure if this is the time for this.”“Shut up. It wasn’t time to grab my butt either. You said you wanted breakfast,” Maddalyn took much more interest in your chest, drawing her fingers across it, “I’m having you.”>Actually, I was talking about actual breakfast. We’re eating with Hilda.>Not if I have you first.>Other?
>>2539468Hell YEAH gurl let's finish what we->Hilda's going in all of them. She doesn't deserve to be bullied at the moment.>She doesn't deserve to be bullied at the moment.>deserve to be bullied>bulliedFuck:>Actually, I was talking about actual breakfast. We’re eating with Hilda.
>>2539468>Not if I have you first.
>>2539468>>Not if I have you first.
Oh. It was like that then, was it?“Not if I have you first,” you replied to Maddalyn’s rather sullen flirting with the sort of tone befitting such a statement. Maddalyn squeaked as you pulled your shirt off and pushed her back into the bed, before burying your face in her collar. This was a rather lewd position to be in, you thought as you steadily pried apart the clasp buttons of Maddy’s shirt one by one(if she was going to be crawling around your chest, you didn’t see why she wouldn’t expect the same). Ah well, both of you would still have your pants on, so it was still wholesome. She gasped as you sucked on her neck, and wriggled slightly as the last clasp of her shirt was undone to reveal the slender, pale body underneath. She wore no conservative undershirt this time, but a loose, sky blue camisole that fell only to the bottom of her ribs. Maddalyn blushed deep red as she realized you were staring at her bare midsection.“D-don’t look like that…” she said uncomfortably.Fair enough for you. You pressed your lips against hers, and moved a hand under her thin underclothes to fondle the ever so slight bump where you felt the hint of a breast-“Mmf.” Maddalyn pulled away from your kiss, “Richter…” she looked morosely to the side, “…Don’t touch me there. Really. It’s not…just, please don’t.”The mix of confusion on your part and the look on Maddalyn’s face sort of turned you off for a moment as you obeyed the request. Why not, you wanted to ask, but you were sure you would have to drag an answer out of her. Valuable time better spent doing other things, like finding out what the inside of this ginger tart’s mouth tasted like.Maddalyn chirped again as you kissed her, then teased her lips with your tongue. When she returned in kind with her own, you forced your tongue into her mouth, and Maddalyn twitched in surprise, but accepted this new development. An advantage of being on top you discovered; Maddalyn couldn’t slobber on you nearly as much, though invading her mouth like this gave no doubts as to whether she would be were your positions reversed. A hand brushed against yours, and slipped its fingers between yours and tightened its grip fiercely as you twisted your tongue against Maddalyn’s. With your hand around Maddalyn’s waist and hers on your back, her arm under yours, you remained like this for more than some time, as you only separated long enough to take short breaths before locking together once more.
Being this close and this intimate with a half naked young woman had of course done predictable things to your nether regions, and Maddalyn had certainly noticed by now too, as she intertwined her legs and your own, and ground her thigh against yours, and what was in between. She had been doing this for a bit, and it was getting to a dangerous point.“Dear,” you stopped for a moment, “You’ll have to stop that, or I’ll have to change my clothes.”“Stop what?” Maddalyn panted, excited yet still plenty rational enough to play coy, “This?”She gave another slow twist of her soft leg and your stomach nearly did a backflip.“Yes, that,” you choked, “Really, we have a breakfast after this, and I’ve no spare pants with me.”Maddalyn blinked, then grimaced. “Ah, oh, I, er, thought you meant…”“No, I’m starving. We should probably cut this off too, we’re, er, keeping somebody waiting.”“Oh…” Maddalyn loosened her grip on your hand, “I see. Well, er,” she shot up and gave the sensitive place on your neck a deep, hard kiss. “You were delicious.”“Well,” you ceased pinning Maddalyn to the bed and got up sideways, “Make yourself decent, I’ve got to, er, go to the bathroom.”Maddalyn looked down, and pulled her shirt back together. “This should be fine, shouldn’t it? As soon as I…” She said, but you were going to the toilet already.You came out again only a few moments later.“Er, that didn’t take long..?” Maddalyn inquired, befuddled.“Nope,” you wheezed, “No, it did not.” This had gone a little too far for a morning distraction, you thought as your head cleared itself of unclean thoughts. Oh, damn it, you’ve probably kept Hilda waiting, far too long, too. You should have just fobbed Maddalyn’s tired advances off; but that was easy to think after the fact. Both of you weren’t in much a presentable state either; you were both rustled and flushed, and yourself in dire need of a bath, but that would be delaying the rumbling in your stomach that was sending emergency signals to your brain; the organ lower than it had been commanding attention for too long, and your head received all your guts’ pleas at once.The servant outside had moved himself well away from your door, and was giving you a dirty look as you meekly approached to ask for your private breakfast to be arranged.
The room that had been arranged, with a set of covered tins and hot pants, fine plates and utensils, all that could be expected, was a quaint tea room. Quaint by Lord Wossehn’s standards, so it was still decorated with mosaic tiles and swirling floral wall fresco. Hilda sat across from you, and Maddalyn, surprisingly tolerant of Hilda’s presence (perhaps due to your romantic prelude), was nudged quite close against you. She wasn’t all smiles, but when the gunner had come in, covered and masked and unsure of how to carry herself in these surroundings, Maddalyn did not more than frown slightly.The art made you wonder if Maddalyn’s conditional ability to see handwritten things extended to paintings and such; those would be a reliable way of portraying the faces she could normally not see, but that would have to be asked later. Maddalyn’s secret couldn’t be so carelessly spilled.The fixings were luxurious, but still plenty familiar to one of lower upbringing. Potatoes au Gratin with white cheeses and generous spices, a pile of expertly poached and soft boiled eggs in a pair of small bowls, and sizzling chunks of striped pork belly. Aside from those there were various collections of fruits, breads, and dry meats, as well as jams, butter both plain and brown, pots for coffee and tea, sugar and cream…likely quite an ordinary hosting for one such as Maddalyn Von Blum, whose family controlled a territory that was more powerful and rich than some independent countries, but incomprehensibly extravagant to Hilda who must have been used to maybe two of such of these things at most per morning, and certainly not prepared as such.The butler who led you up had arranged a small helping of each of the main courses on each plate in your place ahead of time; just enough to get a feel for if one liked it or not. Such slim pickings satisfied neither you nor Hilda, and you wasted no time filling up the rest of the plate like barbarians.
“So,” Maddalyn led off, her voice precise and clipped; it was a tone you knew well, and it was a fictitious personality. An uncharacteristically aggressive tone you heard most often when she was speaking to people in a manner that could be construed as insulting, so you prepared for the worst inside. “Miss…Hilda, you are from the Varbonnlands?”Hilda stared at Maddalyn. “…Oh. Yeah. Von Varbonn’s lands. Yeah.” Hilda had been slipping food under the shawl that covered her nose and mouse; it was a rather messy procedure, but she didn’t seem to mind, in exchange for hiding her face.Maddalyn could have bitten the common girl’s head off for not speaking properly to one of higher class and not been seen in the wrong, but she didn’t. “I see.” She had hoarded all of the chunks of apple, red and green, to herself; no other fruits had made it onto the corner of Maddy’s plate. “Do you do well there?”“…Sure. Fine.” Hilda said flatly, “Don’t have any friends there, and when my brother wasn’t getting into trouble and leaving me alone for months, he was a pain.”“No friends?” Maddalyn asked, her formal tone slipping all of a sudden. “What about…what about other family? Surely you have a mother and father…”“Mom died a long time ago, when I was little,” Hilda shared freely, and without any intonation. “Dad left a while ago. Don’t know where he went.”“Oh…” Maddalyn looked down and knitted her fingers together. “I’m…sorry.”“’s been a while. I’m fine.” Hilda cut a poached egg in half and watched it spill its innards around the plate in a wet, hot flood. “How about you? Friends and family. Besides the Lieutenant.”Maddalyn’s frown buckled in on itself, and she crumpled the fabric of her pants in her hands as they lay on her thighs. “I…never had any friends. Ever.”Hilda froze in the middle of spearing a piece of egg. “Oh.”“My mother died when I was very young too…soon after my sister was born. She was everything to me…so was my father, but my father…changed. My sister hates me, my older siblings pretend neither my sister nor I exist. All I have is Richter.”Hilda let her fork go slack, and it scraped against the fine porcelain. “…Sucks, doesn’t it. Being lonely so long.”Maddalyn continued to stare down. “…Yeah. It sucks.”
You hadn’t said a word the whole time; how odd, you had expected to have to come in between the two, mostly to keep Maddalyn from being too protective, yet if anything, you were detached from all of this.“What do you do, then?” Hilda asked, “I dunno what noble broads do. For fun.”“…I like reading,” Maddalyn started off hesitantly. Funny, really; the only books she had easy access to reading were the Hermit’s soulbinding archives. You wondered how much of those she had read, and how thoroughly. “I like listening to the radio, walking in the garden…I never left the manor very much, unless it was with my family, going somewhere. I suppose I’m rather boring.”“Maybe you could try a few new things.” Hilda speculated idly. “Hunting, maybe. Hiking. Nature’s got a good feel to it, and there’s always something new. Maybe try boating, swimming.”“I-I…” Maddalyn objected to the last, it seemed, “I don’t like water. I can’t swim. I’m afraid of water…and it’s too cold.”“Cold’s nice when it’s hot in summer,” Hilda put out plainly, “Know how to swim and you can’t be afraid of water.”“Erm…” Maddalyn squirmed.>Why are you afraid of water, anyways? What, afraid you’ll be eaten by a fish? >You know, Maddy, I hunted quite often, and went on hikes. It might be a sight more enjoyable than a battlefield to try out, the latter at least.>The two of you seem a bit glum. Should I leave you be?> We can’t have you not knowing how to swim. How else am I supposed to get you into a bathing suit?>Other?
>>2540300>You know, Maddy, I hunted quite often, and went on hikes. It might be a sight more enjoyable than a battlefield to try out, the latter at least.DON"T VOTE FOR BATHING SUIT IT'S A TRAP
>>2540322Supporting this.I'm onto your wily ways tanq.
>>2540300>You know, Maddy, I hunted quite often, and went on hikes. It might be a sight more enjoyable than a battlefield to try out, the latter at least.Man was made to walk the earth, not sit indoors.
>>2540300>> We can’t have you not knowing how to swim. How else am I supposed to get you into a bathing suit?>>2540322>>2540415>>2540671No balls
>>2541477Did you know there was a samurai who almost committed seppuku just to prove he could? I find this fact pretty amusing.
>>2540300>>You know, Maddy, I hunted quite often, and went on hikes. It might be a sight more enjoyable than a battlefield to try out, the latter at least.
“Man was made to walk the earth, not stew indoors,” you said to nobody in particular. “You know, Maddy, I hunted quite often, went on more than a few hikes. Maybe you can come with me for a few. It might be a little more enjoyable than accompanying me to a battlefield, at least.”“Hmmm,” Maddalyn set her lips and half closed her eyes, “I don’t think I’d be much fun. I’m too…you know.” She lifted an arm and stared at it pitifully; even beneath the soft pink jammies, it was clear how slender and small it was. “I’m sure we can figure something out,” you said, reaching over surreptitiously and squeezing Maddalyn’s thigh. She made a muffled mmf and pushed an open hand into your face, turning it aside gently.“As long as it’s the right season.” Hilda tumbled a bit of sausage in egg, “Wouldn’t want to run into a maned pig in spring, huh.” Just the slightest bit of wryness could be perceived in Hilda’s penetrating eyes.“They would be no match,” you replied with bravado.A break was taken in conversation to eat at a better pace. Maddalyn, predictably, ate very little.“The bacon is good,” Hilda offered to Maddalyn. What had been shared between them, as well as perhaps Hilda’s guilt over misdeeds done towards the small redhead, had completely dulled her normal edge and prickliness to others. “Especially with apples. You aren’t just going to eat apple slices, are you.”“I like apples,” Maddalyn pouted defensively, “I, uh, eat less, anyways.”“You could stand to eat more,” you told Maddalyn quietly, “You’re so skinny, you couldn’t possibly put on much weight. Meat makes you stronger.” With that, you speared a hunk of pork belly off of its sizzling hot skillet, and deposited the red and caramel-browned hunk onto her plate. Rivulets of grease dripped off into a pool around it, its bands of fat was translucent and shiny, made only more glamorous by a light coating of thin syrup that it had been rubbed with beforehand. It looked absolutely delectable to you, but you couldn’t know what Maddalyn could see. She must have been able to smell it; whenever the lid was taken off of the cover, a billow of steam accompanied a new burst of the meaty sweet scent, which took long to fade indeed.“It…it does smell very nice…” Maddalyn admitted.
“No more delaying,” you leaned over, “If you wait much longer, you’ll starve.” You ran your hands up Maddalyn’s ribs and squeezed her. She must have been ticklish, with how she twitched and squirmed, loosing a few giggles that she must’ve been unable to help.Hilda glanced emptily at the two of you before returning her gaze to the table. Rather, the floor. Crap, you thought to yourself as you let go of Maddalyn, you hadn’t meant to make Hilda feel bad. She and your fiancée had seemed to have hit things off rather well, but this small showing of feeling had made you wonder just how precarious this all was. One mistake from any of you could send this all crashing down…or perhaps that was just you overthinking things.The slightly ajar door creaked as it was heartily pushed open, and you turned to see who had entered. A servant with refreshments, or a second course, perhaps?...Oh, Judge Above.“Good morning, Von Tracht,” Loch beamed at all of you, arms wide in greeting, “And Ladies.” He approached Hilda first, “You must be…Miss Hilda Glennzsegler, yes?”“…Sure.” Hilda had gone cold with the arrival of the gregarious mystery man, as could be expected. Loch reached a hand out to her, and Hilda blankly offered her hand. Perhaps she was expecting a shake; no such thing, as Loch brought her hand up to him and bent slightly to kiss its back lightly; a mere polite gesture, to be expected of nobility (and the middle classes imitating them), but it was obviously a foreign move to Hilda, who recoiled hard in response.“Oh, I am sorry,” Loch smiled slightly, in that way that made it appear as though he was wearing a mask, giving a sort of falseness to every action he made, every word he spoke. The man rarely acted in a way that seemed genuine, you could feel; however thick he laid it, it disguised his true nature quite well since you couldn’t puzzle that out for the life of you. “I apologize if I offended, Miss Glennzsegler. Ah, and Lady Von Blum, it is a pleasure to see you once more, and safe and sound, too.” Maddalyn accepted Loch’s greeting with the grace that suited her breeding as he took her hand and kissed it, “Your husband to be was ever so distressed, I should tell you. He will not disappoint, I assure you.”“Mister, Loch, was it?” Maddalyn replied, “It is a surprise to see you this far from where you were, what on earth are you doing in this place?”Of course, Maddalyn already knew, you had told her as such at some idle point, but Loch explained nevertheless. You got the feeling he knew that she knew, but it was common courtesy. As he spoke, you saw Maddalyn’s expression take a shift for the suspicious, like something wasn’t quite right, but what?“You must be far from home,” Maddalyn inquired. “Where are you from, if I may ask? Delsau, presumably, but wherein from? Champ Dauroi, perhaps?”
“Champ Dauroi?” Loch chuckled, “Do I sound so southerly? No, I hail from more north than that. Around Gran Montagnecroix, a town close to it, at least. You’d not have heard of it.”“I see,” Maddalyn said, seeming complacent, but she tapped her foot against your ankle twice. What, were you supposed to notice something? You hardly knew anything about Delsau besides what you deemed interesting, which didn’t include the particulars of its regions and cities.“In any case, Von Tracht,” Loch finally addressed you once more, “You’ve a rather cozy gathering with a clutch of fair ladies, haven’t you? Lady Vang was a touch upset that you didn’t come to our own table. After the battle, and especially after hearing that you had to retire afterwards, she was looking forward to meeting with you once more. More than a few would be jealous of such concern for your person, good sir,” Loch gave a closed mouth humming laugh at that, “Hm hm hm.”“Well, I,” you struggled to come up with an excuse, “I’d rather not be with a crowd, at the moment.”“You ought to see her. I can dance the night away with her, yet even then you were the one she’d drink with.” Loch winked at you, “I can only take some small solace that, in Lady Von Blum’s eyes, we are equally charming.”“Richter is more charming, now…” Maddalyn sad sullenly.Loch pretended to be taken aback. “Von Tracht, you sly dog, you’ve been working on her while I was away! I shall have to force myself to do better, much better.” He poked you lightly on the shoulder. “Perhaps I can steal away this other beauty.”Hilda gave him an absolutely venomous glare, evidently completely unappreciative of being toyed with, whether or not the handsome man was, in her mind, being sarcastic or not. Loch was unfazed.“Maybe you find yourself outnumbered as is, but I could send Lady Vang up here, if you wish. She has at least confided in me that constant talk of politics is exhausting. Understandable at her age, really.” Loch shrugged, “If no, I understand. The rumors concerning you and Miss Vang are unsavory as is. My men would never spread such, but maybe they’ve made you feel like putting some distance betwixt you. Or, perhaps, you are afraid of more obligations? I cannot promise those will be completely lacking, given some…recent developments, but, those may wait for as long as you wish.”>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.>You’ll probably drag me into more crap whether I like it or not. No, I’ll come down there. My fiancée and my acquaintance will be just fine up here.>I think not. No offense to her, but could it wait for another time?>Other?
>>2542665> I cannot promise those will be completely lacking, given some…recent developments, but, those may wait for as long as you wish.”Uh huh, see. It's implying we don't even have a choice in the matter.Unless other anons want to delay him and maybe try to book it for the border I guess we'll have to at least hear them out. Plus the more we know now the easier it will be to plan with the tank Vons.>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.Also would be good to get all the girls together.
>>2542665>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.Now all we need is Anya and Fie to pop on by for some brunch and we'll have completed the waifu set.
>>2542665>>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.Also when he leaves we should ask Maddy what it was she noticed about him. It's not like we have to hide anything from Hilda.
>>2542665>>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.
>>2542665>I don’t see why not. Have her come up.>Once he's gone, ask Maddy what she noticed.
“I don’t see why not,” you shrugged at Loch, “Have her come up if she wants, I can hardly be justified in denying her, especially in her lands.”“The people’s lands, she would say, but certainly. Were it that I could join you as well, but, somebody has to entertain Lord Wossehn. My men have many qualities, but a scant few are sociable. Farewell, then.”Loch excused himself with the ever so slightest of bows, really a tilt, and turned on his heel after backing to the door, leaving with a twirl.“So,” you said to Maddalyn after you were sure Loch was plenty far away, “What did you notice?”“His accent is wrong,” Maddy said with confidence, “The way he said the names, it was completely off. He’s not Delsan at all, Delsan Emrean is written nearly the same way, but it’s spoken completely different.”“I didn’t notice at all.”“Because you don’t speak any Emrean whatsoever, Richter. Besides dirty phrases that I don’t know where you picked up.”“Well,” you weren’t exactly surprised by this news, to be honest, “I had already suspected him of being from the Reich. One of his traveling companions is an old general whom I don’t know how else he would have gotten if he wasn’t from there.”“It’s not so much about whether he’s from the Reich or not,” Maddalyn brought her finger to her mouth and chewed on her knuckle, contemplating something, “It’s…what part of it.”“I thought Emreans spoke Emrean,” Hilda interjected, “Reich speaks New Nauk.”“Imperial. But yes.” Maddalyn replied. New Nauk, for all intents and purposes, was exactly the same as Imperial, but the Kaiser Alexander Von Zeissenberg’s conquests were often spited through refusing to use the name of his country’s declared and enforced language. “The point is, it doesn’t sound like Emrean, well, Emrean, either. I only heard him say two names, I’d need to hear more to know, but…well, Richter, do you know your court histories well?”“No.” You had almost entirely focused on war history. Your limited experience with courts in youth had made you wary of entering them once more anyways.“…Okay,” Maddalyn took a breath, “So, Kaiser Alexander declares the Reich, and he enforces the Imperial Communications act. No language save for Imperial Nauk is to be used in scribing of records, official statements, and in some places, the people aren’t even allowed to speak other languages unless they’ve no choice. Reeducation is mandatory, and children are forbidden from being taught any native language. It’s infamous, and also why she…” she looked over to Hilda, “Can speak with us at all, instead of…I don’t know, speaking in some fusion of Zeelen and Interlingen, something we couldn’t understand at any rate.”
“But that didn’t get enforced in Emre,” you concluded.“They tried, but after Alexander, the laws were relaxed on the northern territories. Common people could speak it and learn it since, since the Emrean territories were so important to the Reich and they had to quell unrest, but the courts all still spoke Imperial. There’s only one Reich Court that spoke Emrean after Alexander’s reforms, and that’s Zeissenberg. The throne of the Kaisers itself.”“The Kaiser’s court didn’t speak Imperial?” you were thunderstruck by this.“Alexander hated his court, they persisted through political necessity. He famously preferred the campaign trail. You should know this, shouldn’t you?”To be fair, you did, but you had heard of other reasons than language preference. “So you think he’s from Zeissenberg,” you summed up, “But based on the way he says two words?”“Of course not,” Maddalyn said irritably into her finger, “There’s other things, but it’s one of the few things I can follow up on. Don’t take this the wrong way, but if I give you too much of what I’m thinking of…I’m afraid you’ll do something bold, brash, and potentially completely stupid in the long term.”You’d have objected to that, but Maddalyn’s eyepatch didn’t bolster your confidence in never having made any mistakes. Maddalyn herself had done a few things you’d consider short sighted and unwise, although maybe that was why she was acting so warily?“I’m not saying I don’t want your help,” Maddalyn said steadily, quietly, “Just…not yet. There’s too much that might be too dangerous, especially where we are right now.”“Somebody’s coming,” Hilda warned softly, before breaking into a non-sequitor. “So. Winter’s on its way. You like winter. Snow.” Ah, right, a cover conversation, though Hilda’s direct and flat way of speaking made it unclear at first that she was actually asking a question.“…No…” Maddalyn replied, “It can get too cold. I don’t like that feeling.” “Don’t you stay inside most of the time anyways?” you asked, “It’s a good season for that. Warm fires, well spiced Langenachtfest food, the way the land becomes quiet and still, picturesque?” Langenachtfest was anticipated for much of the season, even though the holiday only lasted one night; it marked the passage of the Solstice, the longest night, and thus the beginning of the end of winter. A day of rebirth, some waxed poetically. You didn’t particularly mind winter, but you understood why it held such importance in days of old, when the end of winter meant the beginning of planting season.“Maybe…” though Maddalyn didn’t sound like she was actually of that opinion. “How about you?” She politely included Hilda back in.“I wear thick clothes all the time. More comfortable when it’s colder.” Hilda said. Maybe the simplest things were the best, you supposed.
Signy came through the door, escorted by a servant who turned and left after a short, quiet dismissal from her. She wore her usual black leather pilot's jacket that she’d adopted upon moving here, though you’d have thought by now some more formal uniform of her office would have been made; perhaps she refused it. Naturally, as soon as she looked to you, grinned, and began to walk over, you could practically feel the wrath of your fiancee’s evil eye needling upon the republican girl. Worse still, she was a stranger, so Hilda had tautened up as well. Had this been a good idea, in hindsight?“Good Morning!” Signy said to you all, cheerily, though something was already dragging down her eyes as she sat. Maddalyn made little attempt to hide her hostility as she turned aside and edged closer to you. “I uh,” Signy started, her smile fading quickly, “Are you alright? I’m really glad to see you, especially after I heard how many people…died, and were hurt. I heard you got hurt too, you lost one of your people, and…” she looked to Hilda and Maddalyn, and her smile had completely vanished. “So many people…you, you’re Hilda, yes?”Hilda grunted. Signy had rambled on, not letting you answer her question, but you presumed it was clear enough that you suffered no permanent injury.“I was told that you were very heroic,” Signy tiptoed here; Hilda wasn’t giving any clear signs she could read, it seemed. “I heard of what you did, what you had to go through…I’m…very sorry that all that happened.”Hilda’s eyes flicked over, but she still sounded, to the unfamiliar, uninterested. “It’s fine.”
“Fine?” Signy echoed, distant. “No, you don’t have to say that. It was awful, but…I appreciate it so much, that you, everybody, believed in me enough that they went and fought, suffered. I can’t do enough in return. All I can do is promise everybody that ever drop of blood shed, every life taken, all the pain felt…what’ll come afterward, it’ll all be worth it. For now, I’m just…so sorry. But I don’t know how I’d have done this without you. Especially you, Richter.”Signy looked down at her lap, and nobody said a thing. She smiled and looked back up. Signy might have been a militant republican, headstrong, and possessing of entirely too thick eyebrows, but she could bear the sweetest smile you had ever seen on a woman. “H-heh, I’m bringing down the mood, aren’t I? You were having a nice conversation, and I come here and muck it all up doing nothing but falling all over myself apologizing. Maybe I should save that for when we go get blasted again. Do you want to do that? While you’re still around?”If anything set off Maddalyn, judging from the way she shifted uncomfortably and the barely audible noise of disapproval she made, it was how forward Signy was being. Signy, so far as you could tell at a glance, didn’t intimidate Maddalyn in the same way Hilda did; Signy wasn’t strongly built nor as blessed where feminine attributes were concerned, she was honestly rather round faced and comparatively plain, yet Maddy was frightened anyways.“Not that I’ll probably have time for it,” Signy’s smile turned to an open mouth grin as she laughed slightly, sardonically, “I probably won’t be able to sleep at all for a week, there’s so much on the table, but…well, for now…y’know. Hee.”>Make talk about more casual, relaxing matters. All work and no play makes Signy a morose and moody young woman. [Write in subjects]>As much as Signy might have wanted to step away from business for a bit, she wasn’t in a position where you could mess around. You had to know a few things from her, and it was all business. [Write in, as above]>Maybe it would be better to catch up later. Apologize to Signy, but you might have to break this off early.>Other?
>>2543682>>As much as Signy might have wanted to step away from business for a bit, she wasn’t in a position where you could mess around. You had to know a few things from her, and it was all business. [Write in, as above]So what's next for the Republic? Also how's the consolidation of Todesfelsen is going etc.
>>2543682>As much as Signy might have wanted to step away from business for a bit, she wasn’t in a position where you could mess around. You had to know a few things from her, and it was all business.How are the things with the missing hostage kids and Glockenblume in general. How's the situation on the front. What's Loch's latest insidious plots.
>>2543682>>As much as Signy might have wanted to step away from business for a bit, she wasn’t in a position where you could mess around. You had to know a few things from her, and it was all business. [Write in, as above]What is it you have to do that's keeping you so busy? And is there anything we can do to help?
>>2543682>Make talk about more casual, relaxing matters. All work and no play makes Signy a morose and moody young woman. [Write in subjects]You know, with the specter of Glockenblume looming and the hard work ahead for the republic, why shouldn't we celebrate while we can? I wouldn't mind another round of drinks with you, but this time, it'll be a less private affair.Im not saying full on Wossehnalia ball and gala, but something with the rest of the Strossvald group that came over, and whoever Signys made friends with since her month here. Shes gotta have befriended someone other then us or Loch... right?
>>2545047This anon has a good point, we already did invite the officers over for lunch, might as well turn it towards relaxation. And while the officers are away, the tankers will get a chance away from the bluebloods.Glockenblume can wait, hell maybe we can even invite Loch towards the end of the officer lunch just to sum up the situation.>Make talk about more casual, relaxing matters. All work and no play makes Signy a morose and moody young woman. [Write in subjects]Talk about celebrating low key with Signy and the gang. If we want to make this into a real fustercluck, smoke up some Blackflower then we'll play beer pong with Signy, Twister with Maddy and strip poker with Hilda.
“What is it you have to do that’s keeping you so busy?” you asked, wondering if it would be impolite to snatch one of the two remaining pork belly cuts at this juncture, “You almost sound like a week without sleep would be the best case scenario.”Signy didn’t seem to walk to talk about it from how she opened her eyes and grimaced, hesitating, but she spoke nevertheless. “Remember how much land we had to pass through? That included everything on the flanks, and we got extra things on the days leading up to this, too. I don’t think a lot of people were expecting us to win, but they were certainly expecting to get a slice of the pie if…once, we got it. From what I’m being told…” Signy balled her hands up on the edge of the table, “We made a power play the whole of Sosaldt will notice. The Republic’s looking to double, maybe even quadruple in size, since everything between Rostig and Todesfelsen’ll be in its possession now. The northern bands’ve been watching, and they came as early as last night to start talking terms. Loch said there won’t be any shortage of representatives coming, to get all the details of their membership in the new nation down. That’s not even accounting for the unresolved things back in the original lands. It’s barely been a week since I got the Guillotines to come under me, and Glockenblume’s still set on being a big problem. Since I’m the big, bad leader, everybody needs to come talk with me. I wish I had somebody who could help take the load off, but Loch’s kept back on purpose, and his people are more advisors and such than anybody who can take my place at a table. Lots of people don’t want to talk to anybody but me.” Signy slouched and stretched a few of her fingers out, and they clicked; a flash of pain went across Signy’s face as she did so; still healing, it seemed. “I dunno if that’s ‘cause they don’t want to be subordinate to anybody else, or if it’s ‘cause they think they can get a better deal out of an inexperienced little girl.” Signy’s downcast eyes looked back up to you, over the breakfast items. “We’re not really united at all, it seems. Everybody’s still looking out mostly for themselves, the original lands are better about it, and Lord Wossehn’s as kind as he is eccentric, but everything in between…there’s towns that want the same status as entire territories, companies that are spread over several that want their own, it’s all an unimaginable mess, and I’m having to be the glue keeping all of it together. I’m spread too thin, Richter. I’ve got plenty of help but there’s only one of me, for now. All the people I trust most are going away…” Signy continued to stare at you, “It’s going to be hard, but I can’t do much but try my best.”
“You’ve an army, hadn’t you?” Maddalyn pointed out. Her tone of voice wasn’t promising any more courtesy than necessary. “Dominate them. Make them know their place or they will do their best to use you. What else do you have? Certainly not regal blood nor bearing, and if you commanded their respect then they would not dare defy you.” You wouldn’t have expected Maddalyn to know much about rulership, but she was the daughter of a territorial lord; maybe tutelage in such was natural for somebody so highborn.Signy glanced over, looking tired already. She’d given plenty of time to explain her philosophies to you, but Maddalyn had never spoken about such things with Signy; considering that Signy had been part of a group of political agitators in the Von Blum’s own territory, you could hardly expect the two to agree. “That’s not…” Signy muttered, “I didn’t come here to become a despot. I came to make sure my father’s dream wouldn’t die with him, that the Shields of Liberty did not die in vain. A democratic nation established through domination of its subjects would be a state of hypocrisy. I wouldn’t want to be a ruler if I was unwanted, for now I’m just…trying to set things up for the next step. I can’t dishonor the wishes of those who brought me so far.”“And if these subjects want a despot?” Maddalyn challenged.“Then they looked at me, at my father’s dream, and told themselves a lie. I’ve made no secret of what I want the Republic to be, if they joined in wanting to become a lord in a kingdom, I don’t know what they thought would happen.”“Hmm.” Maddalyn turned her nose up, but held her tongue.“So what are your plans?” you couldn’t help but ask, “It’s only been a day, but what have you heard from Todesfelsen? Are things going alright?”“I’m giving myself a couple of weeks to have censuses taken and lines drawn up, then we’ll have elections after other preparations’ve been made,” Signy said; she’d been thinking about this well enough. “Then after local governors are elected, we’ll have elections for Congress, for houses of representation for the people, and for the lands.”
“This is based on something?” you asked.“It’s the way the overseas lands of the Union of Valstener States does it, over the south sea,” Signy said, “It works well, I think, especially since there’s tension here like there was there, between high population cities and rural territories.”You knew little of East Valsten’s overseas territories; the continent to the south had been cut away from northern politics for more than a while. Not to say that news didn’t come from other places, but it was oft slow and of little relevance. All you really could say about them was that they had avoided the conquests of the Kaisers.“Then after that, the election for prime minister…which is when we’ll find out if the people still have faith in me, or if they had any at all.”“I’m sure those will be the smoothest in history.” You poked Maddalyn after she said that; perhaps a bit less sarcasm, you hoped she would interpret such a gesture as.“I’m not completely brainless. A little…some…well, a lot of corruption is guaranteed, I think, but the elections have to happen anyways. I’m hoping that I can find a mediator, at least for the biggest one. Maybe from East Valsten, there might be a political theorist who can help, since they’ll know how it’s done in the southlands. I don’t think I’ll lose, I mean, far as anybody can see, my direct people are the ones waving the victory banners. Who’ll compete? Lord Wossehn’s said he’ll back me, I just hope that…well, I don’t become a target ‘cause of that…”“How old are you?” Maddalyn questioned innocently.“Twenty. Why?” Signy didn’t seem to think much of answering that. “I know I’m young, but, well…”Maddalyn said nothing, and that only made Signy take up a more defensive tone. Hilda was, of course, completely lost when it came to policy. She’d taken to picking apart what was left of the food.“So what about Todesfelsen, then?” you redirected this conversation, “What’s going on with it right now?”“The army is occupying it,” Signy said dismissively, “The militias all stood down and let the troops move in. It was part of the armistice agreed upon, and it was in the plan for the rebels in the city who sided with us. One of Loch’s men…Fritz, I think he’s called, is governor of the place right now and commander of the garrison until the local elections throughout the Republic take place. He’s been given the two battalions of Blue Barbs, and two of Republic troops.”
Blue Barbs, you figured, wouldn’t make good garrison troops, being the cronies of slavers who were minding potentially drugged up debtor militia. You pointed this out with no hesitation.“Yeah, I know,” Signy said impatiently, “But, I can’t send them home, not yet. If they’re in Todesfelsen, with Fritz, they’re not around Glockenblume. If push comes to shove and I have to force something…it’s better for the full half of their troops to be somewhere where they can’t help their masters.”“A full half?” you said, surprised, “They committed so many?”“A potential political bargaining chip, I think,” Signy replied, “But if I can intimidate them into changing their ways, then that chip won’t be worth much in keeping their slaving ways, if that’s what they’re set on doing. Any favors they try to call in after probably won’t be as bad. I’d rather not have to do anything…forcing one’s subjects into obedience isn’t the way of the ideal Republic, but if there’s no other choice, then they won’t stain this Republic for a moment further than necessary.”“Speaking of…” you said apprehensively, “My unit’s mission to rescue the hostages…”“I’ve heard.” Signy’s voice was resolute. “Glockenblume bought some of your hostages, behind all of our backs, I’m sure you know. They’ve already been sent a demand to free them, but Loch thinks they’ll use them as part of negotiations. Negotiations with you; they might think they can get leverage on me, through you.”
An odd route, you thought. Maybe they took the unsavory rumors about the two of you too seriously. “Can they?” you wondered aloud, brimming with contempt.“Yes..!” Signy slammed her hands on the table, inhaling sharply after she did so; likely forgetting for a moment that her fingers were still healing. “…I don’t have a plan yet,” Signy said bitterly, “There’s too many other things to deal with. But if you think of something, or anybody else does, I’ll do my best to support it. It’s the least I could do.”You almost wanted to ask about what Loch was doing, but now didn’t seem like the time. Instead, you merely asked;“Is there anything I can do to help you? I can’t promise much, considering I’m down about five tanks. Two are damaged, three are broken down. All I have personally right now is a few trucks, an armored car, a tank we got on the way here and a big gun on tracks. Some good men too, but I can’t say we’re tankers with a straight face right now.”Signy remained morose, her mouth set in a slightly downturned line. Fingers that had been unbroken tapped on the table in contemplation. “…No. Nothing I think I should ask, or that you could do. Although if you could avoid stirring up too much trouble with Glockenblume with whatever you end up doing, that’d be a big help. Occupying one city is enough; we’ve already drained a lot of the former Guillotine’s manpower by forming this army, it needs to be reformed with more commitment from other territories. We’re not in any place to occupy another in the short term. Although…” Signy tried to look sly, but she couldn’t quite wipe away the uncomfortable unease on her face, turning it into a fragile looking twist of the two. “If I could get another date with a hot guy, it’d really help take my mind of things, for a little bit.”A wave of pure hatred emanated from somewhere close to you, though you thought it was clear Signy had been saying such in jest.>Nothing? Really? How about…[What?]>If that’s the case, that’s fine. But I’d appreciate it if you could do what you could to help me in one place; I intend to investigate the Iron Hogs mercenary company, there’s something wrong there that I have to follow up on.>I won’t promise anything on the part of Glockenblume. Anybody who comes to “negotiate” the release of my countrymen’s sons and daughters will find themselves in a terrible place.>A date? I can have that arranged.>Other?
>>2546750>If that’s the case, that’s fine. But I’d appreciate it if you could do what you could to help me in one place; I intend to investigate the Iron Hogs mercenary company, there’s something wrong there that I have to follow up on.How much gold do we have left? It might be best to just straight up buy the hostages back, considering our current lack of martial power.
>>2546750>Nothing? Really? How about…[What?]I'm still convinced my idea of making Strossvald pressure her Republic is a good one. This time we even have a means to do it.So here's the current idea:1) We get in touch with our spooks or home command from the closest border post and get them to send an ambassador or other representative who'll be present at the negotiations and promise them hell if they so much as touch a hair of our citizens.Blue Barbs are forgetting that they are dealing with a nation, not a warlord. Foreign hostages are not a bargaining chip in internal politics, and Signy absolutely can not allow them to be. Good relations with her neighbours is of paramount importance right now and cutting a deal with the barbs here is going to be a stain on the Republic for ages.2) Alternatively, we hurry across the border with the hostages that we already have and explain the situation of the hostages taken by Glockenblume. We may not go home the perfect hero, but a plain hero is much better than traitor so that is fine by me. We get in touch with Strossvald command, Strossvald publicly denounce Glockenblume and the Vang Republic that let this despicable crime happen and what not and promise to take action if the republic leadership won't handle this. Vang's hands are tied, she has to work for the continued existence of the republic, so Blue Barbs can either shut up and hand them over or be cut loose and at that point, a Strossvald army can roll all over them.She gets a valid excuse to deal with the slavers and international pressure to make anti slavery laws and no one with any sense can begrudge her for the decision. Her army could barely defeat a city, much less defend against a sovereign nation.Or maybe I'm stupid and this really isn't going to work at all
>>2546978This isn't going to work, at least not now. Too much instability. The Republic will just crumble if pressured this way.
>>2546750>>If that’s the case, that’s fine. But I’d appreciate it if you could do what you could to help me in one place; I intend to investigate the Iron Hogs mercenary company, there’s something wrong there that I have to follow up on.>>I won’t promise anything on the part of Glockenblume. Anybody who comes to “negotiate” the release of my countrymen’s sons and daughters will find themselves in a terrible place.>>A date? I can have that arranged.Honestly what's wrong with taking all three options. We can busy ourselves with the Hogs while Signy works away at Glockenblume so we'd never have to interact directly with their representatives.>>2546933I don't think buying back our people from slavers sets a good precedent for the Republic when one of their more prominent figures publicly does so.>>2546978I thought Glockenblume exported it's business and was also sort of a retreat for the rich and degenerate, asking or even forcing Strossvald to officially act sounds like a bad idea with all the potential dirt they have on nobles. Or they could have nothing and forcing their hand this way could be the fastest solution, but then they could have done that from the start with the Death Heads but instead sent us for who knows what reasons, but officially because they can't afford to unite Sosaldt against them especially since the guys out east are warmongering.
>>2547069>what's wrong with taking all three options>Setting up a date right in front of your fiancee
>>2547100Still think having that small party with the rest of our guys is a good idea.With luck we can offload Krause to Signy
>>2546750>>A date? I can have that arranged, with one of our fellow officers. [Propose to make it a double date for extra meme points]>>2546978Considering that when we return to Strossvald we're essentially going to be traitors negotiating for our lives I think it's a bit of a stretch to think that we would have any political influence to get Strossvald to do anything we want them to. If they take any action towards the Republic it'll be whatever they decide is in their best interests, which might just be to invade and annex it for all we know. There's just no reason to think any of this would go as planned.
>>2546933I don't think gold is going to work when they're trying to grab political power.>>2547062>>2547069Not sure what the hell to do, we can't do anything ourselves even if our tanks were repaired. We can't afford the Iron Hogs to work with us, Loch and his posse won't give a shit.Should we shake Emma out of her can and go Metal Gear on them or something? Any overt action is going to make Signy look bad, either she sanctioned it or were unable to put a leash on her boytoy.Maybe we can find a way to make them transport the hostages for an exchange and just ambush them. We just have to do it before the talks take place, what's the worst that can happen?I really can't come up with anything, there's not enough information>>2547334That's why I suggested linking up with intelligence, but as >>2547069 pointed out they probably have enough dirt on the ruling class in Strossvald that nothing can be done officially.Dirt that they can use as leverage in debates and influence votes. Man what a shitshow it's going to be during elections.>>2546750>A date? I can have that arranged. Remember Malachi? Great guy once you get to know him and he's a handsome devil beneath all those scarves.
>>2547407>>2547114Guys, it's obvious who Signy's gunning for a date with. Better to just refuse than mock her.
>>2546750>If that’s the case, that’s fine. But I’d appreciate it if you could do what you could to help me in one place; I intend to investigate the Iron Hogs mercenary company, there’s something wrong there that I have to follow up on.
>>2546750Politely refuse the date, but ask for help with the Iron Hog problem.
Feeling like death, but I'll try and update, maybe after a short nap, though...>>2546933Even though it seems the decision of buying people back isn't going through, I haven't brought it up in a while. You've got 51 bars left, each bar being fifty grams of gold. No small amount, of course.>>2547407>I really can't come up with anything, there's not enough informationIt's still pretty early to act anyways; it'll probably help for Emma to come back in the first place. Although I am curious...>>2547114Why him?
>>2548583I dunno, they both seem very egalitarian to me, both of them of the same common stock trying to do their best in a world run by nobility.
Oh boy and then I died.Then got better. Anyways.-----“A date?” you played along, but only a bit. “I’m rather firmly accounted for, but,” you wrapped a hand around Maddalyn reassuringly; “I might know a few bachelors who would be up for one.”Signy sighed, but still smiled slightly, eyes closed. “…Alright, sure. Who’re you thinking of?”Oh, good. She took the bait. Out of courtesy, or out of desperation, though?“Well, do you remember my driver, Malachi? Wears a lot of stuff to cover his face?”Signy’s smile loosened and she opened her eyes. “He’s pretty short, though, isn’t he? He barely speaks New Nauk either. I mean, I’m not being too picky, am I?”“Well, what’s your type, then?”Signy smirked at you and glanced sideways. “C’mon.”You supposed you shouldn’t have been surprised by such an answer. Hilda was continuing to ignore the conversation, and Maddalyn was only now beginning to emanate less of a perceptible aura of bloodlust. Well, you thought, Signy threw herself at you, then Loch, so the best thing might be one of your officers, preferably one with no chance of having prior arrangements…as fortune would have it, you might have had such an individual. Even more fortunate, if things had gone differently in the battle yesterday, you might have not even had the option.“I might have somebody lined up,” you said slowly, still thinking about it, “I think you’ve seen him, I don’t remember if you’ve ever spoken with him. He’s Junior Lieutenant Frederick Krause, one of my tank commanders.” You couldn’t really call Krause handsome; he was a bit too weedy and bookish looking, but who were you to try and presume a woman’s tastes in men? You found yourself attracted to women you hadn’t ever imagined you’d think of in such a way, after all. What if Maddalyn was blonde, you thought idly, glancing over at her fiery locks.
“Sell him,” Signy said, ”There’s not really a shortage of men around, you know. It’s fine if you can’t think of anything, I don’t actually need this, I’m playing around.”She could say that, but it would help take the stress off. Signy was a 20 year old woman, not a 50 year old statesman. It’d be for the best if she wasn’t thought of like the latter, despite the requests you would be making of her.“Just give one of them a chance,” you tried to smile, but it was difficult to considering the next matter, which had you put your hands together and rest your head on them, leaning on the table. Signy noticed this shift in tone, and her smile vanished completely. “Although after that, we should get right to business. I’ll promise not to be too troublesome, but I do intend to retrieve those hostages, one way or another.” You didn’t have solid ideas on how to do that anyways; hopefully the situation would become clearer in time, and you could plan out better options. “In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if you could do what you could to help me in another place; I intend to investigate the Iron Hogs mercenary company, there’s something wrong there that I have to follow up on.”“Something wrong?” Signy echoed, “What is it?”You relayed the story of your uncle’s presence here, his death, and the brief recounting of what had happened to his mercenary band after. Signy had known Heller’s story from before, but what came after his exile was news to all of your company. Finally, and most importantly, you told of how the current leader of the Iron Hogs claimed to be Heller Von Tracht’s son; an impossibility.“So he stole somebody’s thunder,” Hilda said, flatly as ever, “Who cares. Seems to be doing well enough. Even if word got out, maybe he doesn’t use that as so much a crutch no more.”“Maybe not,” Maddalyn’s eye had set; she was thinking deeply about something, but probably not about the current subject. “It’s not a claim of innate talent, it’s legitimacy. No matter how good of a commander he is, if somebody wants power and they think they can take it, they can close the gap in strength by attacking this person’s claim to the company. The way it sounds like Heller Von Tracht did it, it’s less like a company, and more like an old mercenary band, where instead of a board of executives forming a company, it’s more like a noble family that owns that company. A claim to ancestry is strong in that case; the ancestry can’t be attacked, only the claim to it can. Yet a nobody like that Death Head slattern suspected it…I wonder how many just want somebody to sit the same throne.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Signy said firmly, crossing one leg over the other and leaning back, “I spoke with them, and a representative from Gusseisenholz. We won’t have anything to worry about as long as we don’t go over the river. As long as they hold together and don’t cause trouble, their leader could be the Kaiser for all it matters. But I can see this matters to you, Richter,” she looked at you through half closed eyes, “I can help with that. The Iron Hogs are still around, and we’ll be discussing final payments for the day. You could just meet with the man called Schweinmann again, and maybe he’ll be kind enough to tell you what the deal is. If you don’t like that though," Signy turned her other leg over and switched the positions of the two. "Gusseisenholz is a bit of a ways away. Over the river and to the north, almost against the territories of the northern warlords, about as far as it is from here to Rostig. Coming up from the south, you should be safe enough, and since the Iron Hogs leader didn’t come here…he went straight back as soon as the fighting was done, you can go meet with him directly, maybe get to the bottom of this more reliably, if you go to where the Iron Hogs home city is. It’s not a case like the Death Heads; they’re a mercenary company full and through, so the city of Gusseisenholz is its own thing, not a belonging of theirs. It wouldn’t be hard for you to get in even if they didn’t like you.”>Just ask Schweinmann. If he doesn’t give you an answer you like, you’ll just have to accept it. You don’t have time, not the desire, to go on another potential roadtrip.>How else will you get to the bottom of this if not visiting the source directly? You’ll have to take some people and go.>Other?Also>Drag Signy to the camp to meet a date; she suggested it, you accepted with a condition. May as well get this through. Then maybe see when Maddy can get out of her pajamas and make it a doubler?>Handle that later, and just visit camp to see the crew. The Iron Hogs maintenance crew will be around soon, and you’d want to see what they think of your broken down gear too.>Any other things?
>>2550230>Just ask Schweinmann. If he doesn’t give you an answer you like, you’ll just have to accept it. You don’t have time, not the desire, to go on another potential roadtrip.>Handle that later, and just visit camp to see the crew. The Iron Hogs maintenance crew will be around soon, and you’d want to see what they think of your broken down gear too.>OtherCan we retrieve Emma? I forgot where she is
>>2550282Emma's floating about somewhere that you don't know, since you let her go in Rostig. She'll turn up, you don't know when but likely soon.
>>2550230>How else will you get to the bottom of this if not visiting the source directly? You’ll have to take some people and go.>Drag Signy to the camp to meet a date; she suggested it, you accepted with a condition. May as well get this through>Other:Is Fie around? I'd like to show Hilda to her on account of that "empty space"
>>2550323Yeah. In Rostig as well, on account of being...I don't know what, a hitchhiker, in relation to you? You can have somebody go and snatch her up if you want, a long trip but not a hard one now that it's all Republic ground, at least tentatively.
>>2550323I kinda want to hurry things along, but I'm on board with giving Fie a heart attack. If we wrap Hilda in tinfoil and then unveil her in front of her eyes do you think she will faint?
>>2550339We'll get to Rostig eventually, so no need to grab her now.
>>2550230>Just ask Schweinmann. If he doesn’t give you an answer you like, you’ll just have to accept it. You don’t have time, not the desire, to go on another potential roadtrip.>Handle that later, and just visit camp to see the crew. The Iron Hogs maintenance crew will be around soon, and you’d want to see what they think of your broken down gear too.The Officer's Lunch would be a good time to introduce Signy to the group, pretense being her thanking them.I too, wish to see Hans and Stein lose their collective shit.>What if Maddalyn was blonde, you thought idly, glancing over at her fiery locks.[/spoiler] Soon Anya, soon. [/spoiler]
“I’ll just ask Schweinmann,” you decided, “If he respects my lineage the way one ought to respect their best friend, as he claims my uncle was, then he’ll give me a clear answer. Otherwise, I’ll have to accept whatever he’s willing to say.”“That’s easy enough to arrange. I’ll send for you when I have him snagged.”“Maybe you should go on this date with him,” Maddalyn said sullenly.Signy furrowed her brow in confusion, before deciding to just ignore that jab. “…Anyways, yeah, don’t forget ‘bout setting me up, kay?”“Right,” you said, before looking at your plate to forlornly discover that it had been once more emptied. “Hilda, you haven’t happened to have seen Emma, have you?” This thought had sprung idly into your head, and being away from Todesfelsen, you figured that the risk of running into the soulbinder from earlier had been significantly lessened. It would also be for the better, if she’d gotten concerned (or bored) and decided to come over, for you to snatch her up sooner rather than later in case you had been followed back.“Emma?” Signy asked.“A horrible, rude little child,” Maddalyn grumbled.“A ghost.” Hilda answered. Both were accurate, but one identifier was more telling than the other.“A…ghost,” Signy blinked. “I thought I’d had enough of those, really.”“You, as all of us, are doomed to forever more be stalked by specters,” you said. “Though admittedly my time here has had much fewer hauntings than elsewhere, so I suppose that’s a pleasant change of pace.” You looked again at your plate, then to the servings, which had also grown scarce; especially since Signy had picked at a few. “So, I suppose we’re about done?”It was agreed that, you about were.
“Well then,” you rose, “Thank you for joining me, but I need to visit my men for some time. There’s a maintenance detail on its way to help with my tanks, and I want to be there ahead of them, for a few reasons.” One reason being to see Hans and Stein react to the latter’s sister appearing after her apparent years of absence. Hans never stopped harping about one aspect of her, and though you found that you were more interested in the opposite end of that spectrum, curiosity still made its room in your head.“I’ll come,” Maddalyn stood too.“Maddy,” you pushed her back down, “You’re in your pajamas. Relax a little with the girls, have a conversation that I’m not allowed to be around for, whatever it is you talk about when men aren’t around.”“But,” Maddalyn protested as she was put back in her seat, “Just wait a bit, I can get dressed myself, I’m not...er, that, er,” As Maddalyn struggled to replace ”I’m not so blind,” with something else, you kissed her on her lips for just a second. “I’ll be back soon, alright?”Maddalyn crossed her arms and pouted. “I will hold you to that.”You hoped Maddalyn would at least try to speak with the others; Signy had already begun to engage Hilda in a discussion of the sort you’d suggested (which you decided to politely tune out) as you went out the door.
This time, you opted for obtaining your own car; Wossehn had a veritable fleet of them…well, not as many as some nobles chose to have, but certainly more than the average person did. Why not, you supposed, having a lot of cars was practically an obligation if one was as rich as Lord Wossehn. The butlers recognized you well enough, and you were trusted with a car…albeit one of the more run down and ordinary ones. It suited errands better anyways.You idled in the garage for a bit, engine off, familiarizing yourself with the car’s controls before you took it out properly. It wasn’t a make you were familiar with; something that, despite its plain appearance, must have been from across the sea. What a place this was.Suddenly, you felt a feeling. A bad feeling. A pressure you couldn’t quite describe. Something was in the back seat, and had appeared there without you noticing.“Do not be alarmed,” a dry, low voice advised from behind; the sort that was actually quite alarming. “I merely wish to ask some questions of you. I expect no answers in particular. I merely wish to know a few things…a few things about some dangerous individuals, whom you may have seen…”You tried to turn your head to look, but when you turned just a little, you found yourself unable to move your head any further round. This man wouldn’t even let you look at him…though you were rather sure who he was. He was not using his strange sorcery from earlier to affect your mind; whatever he wanted to know, he apparently needed you in this condition to answer.>Fine, stranger. I won’t ask who you are, or what you’re doing here, but ask.>And just who the hell are you? Explain yourself, or I’m calling for the guards.>You don’t know what you’re messing with, friend. Make yourself scarce.>Other?
>>2551658>>Fine, stranger. I won’t ask who you are, or what you’re doing here, but ask.The wizard (cursed be their bullshit shenanigans) currently has control of our neck muscles. Let's be polite but vague.No specifics just generalizations and maybe some rambling on magic being garbage. Best case he doesn't get anything concrete until a servant comes to make sure we're not asphyxiating ourselves with the fumes.>Other?Slowly test what parts of our boy we DO have control over. Horn? Gas Pedal?
>>2551681To elaborate, it's not that you can't move your neck itself; it's more like every time you try, something is yanking it back; like there's a thread stuck on the side of your head and it's pulling it back forward when you turn too much.
>>2551658>>Fine, stranger. I won’t ask who you are, or what you’re doing here, but ask.
>>2551658>Fine, stranger. I won’t ask who you are, or what you’re doing here, but ask.
“Fine, stranger,” you said calmly, attempting to remain open, and certainly ignorant of what this man was. “I won’t ask who you are, or what you’re doing here, but ask your questions.”“Hmm.” The soulbinder, whomever he was, seemed contented by this. “I’m looking for an odd individual. Tell me, have you seen anybody recently who is particularly strange? Perhaps in the way they dress, or how you feel around them?”“Everybody dresses strange around here,” you said innocently. “A lot of people around here are the sort I feel strange around. Are you new to this country?”“…I see.” He was ever so slightly intrigued, for whatever reason. “Have you been wounded recently?”“How did you know?” you asked. This man could see where Maddalyn had worked her magic; what point was there in lying? “I have my ways. Tell me, did some strange man, perhaps one you haven’t met before, or perhaps met rarely…did they arrive, and somehow heal you? Quickly, and without any remnant of the wound after they finished?”“…Yes, what of it?”“Did you see what they looked like?” the soulbinder pressed, latching onto something that he knew from the start was a link, surely. “Did they hide their face, perhaps? Or wear robes that conceal their body?”“I don’t know. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. It was a serious wound.” You hoped that bluff would be good enough. “I see.” Evidently this stranger didn’t require much in order to believe you. Maybe it was because he thought you ignorant of what he was, and what he was looking for? “Perhaps this will be jarring, but after what has happened to you, it can’t be a surprise. Have you heard any of the legends of the mountains? Of the Nief’yem, or soulbinding?”“Would it be strange if I told you I haven’t?”“Not at all,” the man said, thinking, “Not at all, in fact. I will save us both time, and summarize it as foul sorcery and magic. It exists, though it may be difficult to believe.”“Sounds like hooey. Why are you telling me this?” You felt your head jerk back, like it had been tugged by a coil of strong thread.“Does that feel like falsehood? Are there any hands touching you, moving you?” the soulbinder challenged, “Would you like me to demonstrate further? I’m sure you do not need it.”“No,” you said with strain, pulling your face back forward, “Fine. I’m listening, but why are you telling me all this?”
“This person I have been asking about,” the man continued to keep his voice low, quiet, scratchy. “Is an extremely dangerous individual. I have reason to believe he has been in this area…and has been up to no good. I do not know why they cured your wounds, but they have some misdeed hidden behind their charity. They are ever more dangerous still because of their mastery of the sorcery I mentioned; to heal a person, unless under specific circumstances, is quite difficult, and requires knowledge of the arts that is difficult to learn, and to execute.”Yet Maddalyn appeared to create and cast stitch spells as easily as anything else. Was this man lying to you, or had the Hermit taught Maddalyn far more than she ought to know? Or had she gleaned it from the senile soulbinder’s numerous texts kept along with the person? On the bright side, this soulbinder hadn’t even considered somebody like Maddalyn had been responsible; he was under the impression a soulbinder, likely Poltergeist, was behind this. The enigma seemed infamous enough for that to be a possibility.“I am part of an organization that hunts down such dangerous individuals, who seek to use their sorceries to disrupt the world, potentially, to end it once again.”“Once again?”“Oh yes. There is history beyond history, that details what these sorcerers, called soulbinders, once did to our fair world, to the humanity around them. In times of antiquity, times kept extremely secret by their kind, they once brought about doomsday. To prevent this from happening once more, is the purpose of my organization. I am called the Hound of the East by my fellows, and my task is to root out these abominations, so that they can be marked for destruction.” You felt the Hound lean close to your ear. “You understand, now, the importance of my duty?”“It seems pretty important.” Oh boy. Even with the normal soulbinding nonsense, this talk of doomsday seemed utterly crazy. Was it true, you wondered, or speculation, maybe false propaganda, by the Oblitares?“Desperately so. In addition to my primary target, I am looking for, perhaps, an accomplice. They were around from up to a few days ago. Perhaps you have seen them? A person, doing things that you could not explain?” You felt threads tighten around you; the air itself seemed oddly cold, and electrified.“No,” you said warily, “Not that I noticed. I didn’t even know what to look for ‘til you popped up in the back of my car.”
“…I see,” the man seemed satisfied, but kept the aura of threads about you. “If you know not of what to look for, nor the signs of such people, I cannot make you remember. Although, I have told you how important this is, how dangerous, deadly, these people are…are you certain that you do not remember anything? Are you certain that there is nothing that you wish to tell me about..?”This guy really was a persistent ass clown. No different from the normal…”normal” soulbinders, in that regard, you supposed.>I’d rather have not known anything at all. If you want to know something, go and bother…[Who?]>I might remember something, actually. I heard of…[Some strange rumor, whether based on truth or a bluff, that might catch his attention?]>I told you what I know, and what I know is nothing. Happy?>Hey, I told you what I know, how about I ask some questions of my own? >Other?
>>2552220>>I might remember something, actually. I heard of…[Some strange rumor, whether based on truth or a bluff, that might catch his attention?]It's just a fairy tale, but when I was younger parents would often scare their children about the people in the mountains who could work magic and kept giant crabs as pets. Go and bother them, if their as real as your are.
>>2552235JUST TO CLARIFY NOT THE MOUNTAINS WERE TAKING FIE TO BUT THE ONES SHE CAME FROM
>>2552220>>2552235Supporting this, since he should already know about those mountains, so we're not harming anyone.
>>2552235>>2552242Those are the Eastern mountains I think.Also it's not like the giant crabs are a secret, the rangers knew about them, the mossheads know about them and the people buying their eggs know about em. We could add that we thought it was a bunch of bullshit until we were attacked by crabs in a mountain pass. At least that would lend some credence to the story
>>2552235This, but I’m sure he’d also have plenty of fun with Liemanner despite him not being a soulbinder.
>>2552307Oh I so badly want to nail Liemanner using this Dogman.Like we could say we've encountered spooky clones nonsense with Liemanner but I don't know how to get him on that trail without involving Maddy or our own knowledge too much.Ultimately I think the crab mountains of Valsten we passed through are a better choice, both because nobody lives up there besides a grouchy hotel manager and because those mountains cause people to experience weird time dilation.Getting him lost and attacked by crabs for a few weeks sounds better than potentially getting him back onto us even if it does destroy Liemanner.
So we'll be ending this thread off here. I might make a new thread soon after this one falls off, depending, instead of waiting a week as usual. Probably not a good idea, since it hasn't been a good idea in the past, but hey.Anyways that should be tomorrow, or maybe the day after. I'll post info on my twitter either way, as usual. Thanks for your participation!Although maybe I need to cool it with so many opportunities to mack on Maddy, can't overdose on that shit.
>>2552893It's her own fault for being worst girl