You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of panzers for the Army of Strossvald, Kommandant of the Army of the Republic, and conqueror of Todesfelsen. As much as you disliked the place you’d ended up in, you had to admit that the titles it had given were satisfactory. Unlike other post-battle arrangements. A venomous viper in the next of the Republic, Glockenblume and its militia gang, the Blue Barbs, had managed to secure a portion of the hostages that you needed to rescue and return to the Archduchy and was using them as leverage to make you help them in their plots…well, plot, thus far. If they kept their word, after one small favor, the ten child hostages remaining, that were your mission from the Archduchy’s Intelligence Office to retrieve, would be returned to you and there would finally be nothing keeping you from getting out.Just in case they tried anything funny though, you had enlisted the help of Loch. Loch no first name, not that it mattered since you were certain Loch was an alias anyways; the man was a mystery, and there was little indication of why he was doing what he was, even if you had a decent suspicion of where he was from. He was an extremely curious enigma, almost moreso than the strange soulbinder called Poltergeist, if only because Loch was a mystery of the entirely unmystical sort. However, on the other hand, you wouldn’t have to deal with him for much longer anyways.In what would hopefully be a pleasant punctuation to the relation between the two of you (you suspected he would somehow pop up somewhere anyways but you could keep your hopes up), Loch had agreed to aid you in the final handing over of hostages; nothing too significant, simply a request to have his men look into the circumstances, the people doing the exchange, whatever could be investigated in order to ensure no funny business was being done under your nose.“I just want to make sure they don’t pull anything tricky,” you said, hands up in a display of restraint, “I’d like to make use of your contacts and spies to learn where the hostages are, when they’re moving, if they’ve been moved…not hard, I expect?”Loch smirked, in that way that made him look like he found something real damn funny. “Not hard at all. Though you’re so much more cautious, given your history, I would have just as much expected you to ask me for my fiercest soldiers to go and shoot up Glockenblume in a surprise attack.”“Of course not.”“It was merely a jest, Lieutenant,” Loch winked at you, “Or should I say, Kommandant? Does it not suit you better? At such a youthful age, as well, compared to the norm…though this Republic has no shortage of leadership sprung straight from the current generation. Unique, no?”“Hopefully not unique in the ways Sosaldt tends to be,” you muttered bitterly.
“Come now, Von Tracht,” Loch coaxed with good humor, “Surely your knowledge of history is such that you’ll set aside some prejudice when looking at possibility, no? Before Alexander, Zeissenburg was but a principality, barely more than a few cities. Before the first Archduke, there was no Strossvald, but merely disparate territories who, in their disunity, were trampled by the first Kaiser. Perhaps, before the Republic of Mittelsosalia rose from the depths to become a beacon of progress, it was the most wretched wasteland of ruined dreams and terrible tragedies on the continent? Time will tell.”If only all of us were so blessed with such clairvoyance, your eyes tried to roll into your skull. “Mittelsosalia?” you distracted yourself, “Not the Republic of Vang?”“The vanity was necessary for a time, but Miss Vang wished to have it changed to a name more indicative of the people, rather than a person. She may be the most humble warlord to grace this land.”“It lacks flair,” you muddled on the new name, “Strossald wouldn’t just be named Westsosalia.”Loch shrugged. “The Republic is young. Perhaps something more to your taste will appear when all the accoutrement of a nation is made, the flag, the hymns, and the brief break in the storm to allow all such…I suppose you will be waiting for Miss Vang, now, if that was everything?”“She won’t be here for a while yet. I had one of my officers escort her to a café.”“Which one?”“I can’t recall the name.”“Tsk.” Loch waved a finger, “Women don’t like that. Oh, don’t give me that look.”“I had a few questions,” you moved right along.“Ask away.”“The Southern Cities,” you started off. Speaking of names, that was rather dull, you supposed, but if you were to bet it probably wasn’t like they referred to themselves as such. “And their personal army, the Blood Suns. Don’t you expect them to react to this?”“Undoubtedly.” Loch said, though he still had confidence. “Though, remember, they have been dissuaded from more active intervention in the past. I have had a couple of men poke about; the priorities of our dear southern acquaintances are elsewhere for now, it appears. Miss Vang has actually been sent a request to meet with a representative. Indeed, if the Blood Suns were to amass their entire host, the Republic would not stand a chance…but the Cities love their profits, and sending their mercenaries to occupy central, and hostile lands, is quite the opposite of profitable. Their brand of economic warfare, as well, is quite ineffective with an ally such as Lord Wossehn. He may seem eccentric, but make no mistake, the man is a master of mercantilism.”
How else would Lord Wossehn have so much money to blow on vain architectural monuments, you supposed. The Republic was incredibly lucky to have a man such as him in its ranks; though perhaps he could be persuaded to have more productive side projects, rather than trying to erect giant towers. “How about to the west?” You asked, “Wouldn’t becoming a vassal state, or an ally of Strossvald, securd the best chance of the Republic surviving? Especially with the possibility of a Netillander invasion?”“Netilland is rather north from us for such to happen without goodly warning, but yes. Aligning with Strossvald would indeed be beneficial, but the trouble is what would be demanded in return. Would Strossvald tolerate a subject whose state is not ruled as the rest of it is? Miss Vang is not noble in the slightest, and even though titles have been given out for merit, as any other place, there has never been such a significant holding as the Republic given out, at least, not to one of common blood…” Loch cocked an eyebrow coyly, “How about it? Convince Miss Vang to kneel to the Archduke, then marry her, and become Territorial Lord. Is it tempting?” Loch didn’t let you answer that, chuckling to himself before adding, “In all likelihood, a cordial relationship at minimum is ideal, yes. I would rather not have the Archduchy’s ambitions of conquest be stirred, though, if possible. Mind your bias when you suggest simply bending the knee.”“Hmph.” You scoffed, “How much longer are you and your retinue staying?”“I leave in a mere few days, sadly,” Loch sighed dramatically and shook his head, “A shame, I know. A scant few of my men will remain, for…security, though my work here is by and far finished. Miss Vang will have to make do without.” A few days…what had Loch’s objective been? Was it possible it lined up so perfectly with your own goal?“Anyways, if we’re all done, it seems somebody else is in need of your attention.” Loch pointed behind you, then turned his finger up. Behind you, and on the second floor railing, to the flank of the grand staircase, leaned a familiar masked figure. There were a few of those; specifically, it was a woman who wouldn’t have masked herself until recently. Hilda was wearing the same clothes from the other day, or at least, something similar; if they were from yesterday, they had been washed. Her hood was down, but she still wore covers over her face, the cloth tugged as high up as it could be without covering her eyes. “I’ll be back shortly,” Loch said while you were still looking up, “I’ve a gift for you. You like gifts, do you?”“Sure.” You weren’t in the presence of mind to be sarcastic or irritated now.“Good. I will be seeing you, then.” Loch gave a final coy closure of eyes and walked past you, whereafter you ascended the steps after Hilda.
The scarred woman kept her eyes on you the whole way; to the uninitiated, it was a penetrating glare, but you’d been around her enough to tell that that was the way she always looked. A rigid mask that hid any and all emoting, combined with a level and dry tone of voice…though you’d seen that mask fall a few times. “Hi.” Hilda said, in a completely flat voice.“Hello,” you tried to be cheerier, though it was more difficult than it had once been. “Are you well?”“Same as usual.” Hilda looked to the side, and added after, “I’m fine.”Same as usual. With terrible burns, battle wounds old and new, and now, you could notice that she was leaning more on one side…had she been wounded again? “Did you have a pleasant brunch?” you asked.“It…didn’t last long after you went.” Hilda said, with just a hint of unease. “Your fiancée really, really doesn’t like that Cyclops woman. She could tell. She just left after a bit. Your fiancée left soon after.”That wasn’t very encouraging at all. “Was Maddalyn polite to you?” You were ready to apologize, but there turned out to be no need.“She was fine to me. But…I…” Hilda’s face flashed misery for but a moment, “If she knew that I, if, that, then…I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t look at her. So we went our ways. She went back to her room, I think.”“…No one knows but us,” you said after a long pause, quietly. Ah, crap, when said like that it implied something that wasn’t there at all. “And Emma.”“It doesn’t matter. I feel bad, but I can’t say anything. It would…ruin everything for you. For her. She’s…okay with me. I think she wants to be friends, but I can’t…not with what I’ve done, not with who I am.”“Who you were, if that,” you tried to course correct. Hilda had none of it.“Who I am.” She said with finality. Another pause. “I think your fiancée’s just stayed in her room. If you have time, maybe you should see her.”>Maddalyn’s fine. You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.>Alright, I’ll go see her. Thank you for telling me.>Everything will be fine. I’m rather busy right now, I’ll see her later.>Can I see your face? I want to see you without that mask on.>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.
>>2619619>>Alright, I’ll go see her. Thank you for telling me.Ask if there was anything she needed before we go?
>>2619619>Maddalyn’s fine. You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.>Can I see your face? I want to see you without that mask on.
>>2619619>>Alright, I’ll go see her. Thank you for telling me.
>>2619619>Maddalyn’s fine. You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.>Other?Have you thought any more about what you want to do now that this mission is almost over?
>>2619619>>Maddalyn’s fine. You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.>>Can I see your face? I want to see you without that mask on.
>>2619619>Alright, I’ll go see her. Thank you for telling me.>>2619760>>2620452>>2620724Crap like this is why Hilda is in this shitty situation in the first place, anons. Please stop leading her on.
>>2619619>>Maddalyn’s fine. You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.
“Maddalyn’s fine,” you assured Hilda, “You’re not. Do you want to go somewhere? I have time.”Hilda stared at you wordlessly, struck dumb by this proposal; even as cold and flinty as her eyes remained, her true feelings about the matter came out in a stammer. “I…I don’t…I don’t even know what to say…I-I’d love to, but…” Hilda turned sidelong, and her eyes flicked to the floor, “Somebody like me shouldn’t be seen around you. I looked like crap before. I haven’t gotten any better. I look…like a monster.”Was that so? “Can I see your face?” you blurted out, “I want to see you without that mask on. Let me be the judge of what you look like.” It muffled her voice too, which wasn’t unusual; the persistent dust had made the entirety of yesterday be ideal weather to cover the nose and mouth with cloth, but Hilda was inside Wossehn’s clean and pristine castle, hardly a place to protect against.Hilda’s hand went reflexively to the cover, and a finger slipped under it, hesitantly. “Y-You’re…”“I’m?”“You’re…way too nice to somebody like me.” Hilda murmured, clearly making up something on the spot. “I shouldn’t. But I can’t help it.” Hilda stopped stalling and brought her mask down below her chin, looking despondent all the while…well, as despondent as she could, which wasn’t much. “I’m used to being ugly, at least,” she tried to say drily, but it came out as more sad than anything.
The sockets of her eyes were dark, skull-like, but those hadn’t been hidden. Now that the mask was off and Hilda had deigned to allow you more than a moment’s notice, the true extent of the damage was clear. The existing scars had the flesh around them turn dark, blackness blotching out from them like ink under the skin, while her cheeks had turned ashen, and raw, while the tip of her nose would have looked like it had frostbitten to the uneducated observer. It was all worse than before, and if her arms were any indication, it wouldn’t be certain how much would heal, if did at all.“It’s fine, really,” Hilda said glumly, “This face suits me better. It’s what you’d expect to see.” Hilda started to roll the mask back up, but froze. “…Since I got the scars, I thought that was all people ever saw of me. It pissed me off. Now, though…” Hilda ran a gloved finger down the long, twisting scar on the side of her face, “Guess I should have been thankful.” A pause, then Hilda’s eyes glanced back at yours. “You having second thoughts about taking me somewhere? Unless that place is a river. In a bag.”This new attitude was discomfortingly reminiscent of somebody else, and to be honest, you rather preferred the earlier incarnation of this southern woman.>Nice! Beautiful! Where has this sexy thing been hiding this whole time? [Maybe extreme sarcasm would be appreciated?]>It’s not so much worse than before, but I wouldn’t have ever have said that that face suited you.>…Ew, yeah, maybe you should cover back up. You’re still being taken to town, though.>Other?Also>Where do you want to take her? There’s theoretically all sorts to do in this city…or outside it.>a whole day between updatesI have no words. I'll try my best to not let it happen again.
>>2622925>>It’s not so much worse than before, but I wouldn’t have ever have said that that face suited you.
>>2622925>It’s not so much worse than before, but I wouldn’t have ever have said that that face suited you.
>>2622925Hilda must have overheard that we liked girls in ponytails. Half expecting Anya to come in wearing her hair like that now.I, myself the player, honestly think that she looks adorable. Richter, seems like it's not to his liking. >It’s not so much worse than before, but I wouldn’t have ever have said that that face suited you.This isn't a great way of putting it, but it's the nicest way to say that Hilda being wizard-mauled doesn't reflect who she is. Maybe not making a big deal of them is the best way to go about it. >Other?Did you put up your hair? Looks nice.>Where?Sounds like she'd be even more unhappy with large groups of people now, does Wossehn have some skeet guns and a firing range? Hell maybe we can just take some of his fancier plates for some target practice. Richter and her both like shooting. Don't sweat it bossman, shit happens plus that's a really good picture.
>>2622925>>It’s not so much worse than before, but I wouldn’t have ever have said that that face suited you.Skeet sounds like an okay plan, otherwise the garden?
“It’s not so much worse than before,” you admitted; Hilda’s face had already been torn apart once. This new wounding didn’t have as much a drastic effect on an already scarred face, unlike Maddalyn’s now nonfunctional eye. “But I wouldn’t have ever said that face suited you.”“Hm.” Hilda responded in the slightest and most ineffectual way she could, as her hands crept back up to pull her bandanna back over her face.“Did you put up your hair?” you asked then, shifting away from the subject of her face, “It looks nice.”“Ah-“ Hilda stopped pulling her mask up as, under the sorcerous burns and corruption, a faint blush appeared on her cheeks, “…Yeah. I had it that way. Back in the city, yesterday.” She took a hand away from pushing her covering back up, and stroked her ponytail, which was lying over her collar, “It looks nice?” she echoed. “Really?”“I don’t think I’m so cruel as to lie about that,” you said back, trying to smirk assuredly. Should you really have been doing this? Well, that bridge was already crossed; Hilda probably needed this, truth be told.Hilda let her other hand down as she ran her fingers down the length of her hair, still uncertain, lips tight across as though she struggled to hold something in. “Well, thank you…” she let fall out as she looked down and to the side.As nice as this was turning out, you still had to come up with something to do with Hilda- the idea to take her out and do something had been sudden, even if there was time for it. Going out for a bite in the city seemed an ill choice, with the woman being wary of anybody seeing her face, as well as her generally asocial nature…and the surrounding terrain was less than ideal for a good hunt, although…“Have you ever shot clays?” you asked suddenly. Hilda looked blankly at you. “Er, fowling, then? Have you ever gone fowling?”“Oh. Sure.” Hilda caught on, “I’ve killed ducks. Geese. Pigeons.”Shooting clays was a common enough hobby in Strossvald, especially among lower nobility and middle class individuals who either lacked their own hunting property, or didn’t want to pay for a hunting tour in another’s game preserve, or simply wanted practice. Since clay launchers hit markets near twenty years ago, it had become much easier to practice fowling; clay shooting was even considered a sport in some places, you heard, but you mostly had done it as practice, with whomever was in attendance at the range. Additionally, clay shooting with launchers was done in basic training. It helped to educate principles of anti-aircraft drill, since whether one used a shotgun or an anti-aircraft cannon, one had to remember to lead their targets. You explained this to Hilda, but remembered the courtesy of truncating it all as much as possible.
“I’m willing to bet Lord Wossehn would be the sort to indulge in this,” you finished, “What do you say?”“What if he doesn’t have this stuff.” Hilda asked.“I’ll think of something else.”Thankfully, when contacted and questioned, Wossehn was more than willing to give over some equipment. An apology accompanied the cases of gear, that he wouldn’t be able to join you at the moment, though a pair of aides would assist you with the matter. The over-under pieces were appropriately luxurious, considering their owner; red, tropical hardwood furniture, engraved with patterns of waterfowl in flight, gold filigree wrapping about wherever it could accent the firearms; and each had about two dozen brass shells put into felt slots in the same case. “Is that enough shells.” Hilda asked you.“More can be fetched,” and attendant replied, despite not being addressed. “The Lord has instructed us to serve however you wish.”The grounds were, naturally, outside of the city, to the north. The attendants apologized for the apparent “state” of the place; it was rather bare, and the constructions quite dusty. Evidently Lord Wossehn recognized, perhaps considered, but did not indulge in this sport. While the attendants made things ready, you spoke more with Hilda.“Have you thought any more about what you want to do when we’re through here?” you asked, “Back home in Strossvald? Do you want to visit your home?”“No. Nothing there anyways,” Hilda said dismissively, “War might have messed it up. Nobody’s waiting for me, especially not my brother. Not that I’d want to see him anyways.”The subject of Hilda’s sibling was a rare one; he had been imprisoned when you had first gone to Salzbrucke, first met Hilda. Freeing him had been her condition for her helping you, so she must have had at least some familial affection for him.
“You don’t want to see your brother?” you asked.“He went off for months, more times than I care to count. Doing who knows what. Left me alone, even after father disappeared.” Hilda said dully, either unfeeling or used to this enough to not be too bitter. “He’s my brother. Family. But he’s a piece of work. Before you came around, he killed a bunch of people. Didn’t even see what was wrong with stealing a life. Figured if he wanted it, he could take it.” Hilda paused, then sighed. “Listen to me talking like I’m any better.”“…Anyways, there’s still a potential gamekeeper position waiting,” you sidestepped that tender issue.“A gamekeeper for land that isn’t owned.”“Is there something you’d like to do, generally?” you asked. Hilda thought, the only sounds around being the breeze and the clicking of attendants readying everything for shooting. Then, so softly you could barely hear, she said, “You’re going to keep going off on these things. Fighting. Getting into trouble. I want to protect you.”>I don’t need to be protected. But I can think of some people who do. There’s no reason for you to be shackled to me. >…Alright, fine. If that’s what you want, I can hardly refuse, can I? >I can’t ask you to follow me, not with what’s happened. You should stay away from whatever nonsense I find myself in next.>Other?>>2623123>Richter, seems like it's not to his liking. I think he's fine with it, though I hesitate to crystallize his tastes OOC other than what could be easily inferred. That said, adorable is a funny word for somebody who death-glares most people and may as well be a hamburger for how she's been chopped up and grilled.
>>2623651>>I can’t ask you to follow me, not with what’s happened. But I can think of some people who do. There’s no reason for you to be shackled to me. However, if that is what you want, I can hardly refuse, can I?
>>2623651>>2623651>>…Alright, fine. If that’s what you want, I can hardly refuse, can I?
>>2623651>>…Alright, fine. If that’s what you want, I can hardly refuse, can I?
>>2623651>I can’t ask you to follow me, not with what’s happened. You should stay away from whatever nonsense I find myself in next.But>…Alright, fine. If that’s what you want, I can hardly refuse, can I? Her decision ultimately if that's what she wants.Adorable in a sad puppy kind of way. If she ever smiled then she'd be terrifying to her enemies.
“I can’t ask you to follow me, not with what’s happened,” you said reflexively, “You should stay away from whatever nonsense I find myself in next.” Hilda’s utter lack of reaction, if anything being nonplussed, prompted you to add quickly, “If that is what you want, though, I suppose I can hardly refuse, can I?”Hilda seemed satisfied with that, and breathed a sigh of relief. “…I suppose your fiancée wouldn’t be interested in this,” she asked, for…some reason.“Maddalyn’s never fired a gun in her life, as far as I know, let alone something that’s almost as big as she is.” The shotguns weren’t that long, but somebody as small and frail and girlish as Maddalyn was would be ill suited to firing them, especially at a moving, airborne target. That would be even if he showed an interest in such activities, which, being a rather bookish and reclusive individual, whom as far as you know enjoyed reading what little material she was physically capable of and listening to the radio. There was a twinge of unease as you gave that some thought; was that gap between the two of you part of why she felt so threatened by other women? It was hardly unusual for a man and his spouse to have different hobbies, especially in an arranged marriage, and yet…“They’re almost done. I think.” Hilda said in the awkward pause. You almost wanted to ask her about your current line of thought…but it seemed a dangerous thing.“She went out to battle with me, for the first part of it, yesterday,” you continued absentmindedly, “I was shot, and so was she. Neither of us are any worse for wear, thanks to her,” you looked about to see if either of the two attendants were in earshot, “Her magic powers and all.” Hilda knew about this at that point, but those in your party that did know or at least recognized funny things when they saw them rarely knew much about the precise nature of things. At least, what could be tentatively called that. “I was shot through right here,” you pointed on your chest, “And she was able to heal me. She was shot later, when I took her out of the tank to save one of my officers.”“She’s a good woman.” Hilda said wistfully, “Even if I don’t think she agrees. And has the chest that would look at a plank and feel jealous.”“I’ve been trying to fix that.”“Her opinion of herself, or her chest.”
“The former, of course.” It was a joke, of course, but you weren’t about to admit to Hilda that a bit of thought had gone into the latter. Theoretical methods that were probably completely absurd…yet soulbinding and its arts lay in the realm of absurdity anyways, was your logic about it that somehow justified the theory’s innate ridiculousness. “Sir? M’am?” An attendant came to you, “We are ready. We’ll start out with singles, then move on to doubles when you’ve become accustomed to shooting, if it pleases you.” The throwing contraption had been set up in a tall booth to the rear of the roofed shooting station, apparently. A mechanical, manually actuated device that launched clay discs one at a time, but since the man had referred to doubles, they either had two, or the machine had two arms.“Ladies first,” you bowed slightly to Hilda, whom the attendant passed the loaded shotgun to after your lead. Hilda broke it open, checked the rounds, and tested its weight. “Whenever you are ready,” the attendant said.“Mm.” Hilda grunted, as she beckoned over and handed the gun back temporarily, to shed her cloak. The top underneath had no sleeves, and was unbuttoned…well, it wasn’t as far down as you’d seen before a few times, still, Hilda’s large bosom strained against it in an admittedly distracting way, but not nearly as distracting as the cords of her arms and shoulders shifting as she shouldered the gun again and aimed skyward. You had to look away for a moment; and elected to put your attention on the sky where the clay would soar, instead. The command was given by Hilda, relayed by the attendant, and the clay soared through the air…and exploded into pieces as the gun cracked. You looked back down to Hilda, whose eyes glared with focus as she broke open the piece, gunsmoke wafting out as she withdrew the spent brass shell with a gloved hand.Hilda’s face was the sort that hadn’t been good looking even before being scarred, but the rest of this package altogether…it was fine to be attracted to other women, you told yourself, it was fine to think Hilda, Anya were attractive, you found Maddalyn attractive too. Yet you were somehow conflicted thinking that one had to be the best.“This gun’s good,” Hilda muttered, “Again.” Hilda had almost seemed to have forgotten anybody else was there, as she lined up the next shot, and with another blast of the gun, another false fowl was destroyed. The attendant offered to take the gun from her to reload, but Hilda motioned for shells instead, preferring to do the loading herself. “Two, this time.” She annunciated clearly, taking a short, but hard, breath.
CHONK. CHONK.The mechanism fired one bird, then the other. You watched Hilda this time, curious of her technique, but you noticed the look in her eyes was different; with focus glinting in them, she looked so much more alive than normal, and her movements were steady, almost instinctive in appearance, as you looked back up just in time to see one clay slaughtered, then the other in quick succession.“M’am is quite talented,” the attendant said when the shots ceased echoing.“She is very much so.” You added slyly; Hilda hadn’t paid attention to the earlier compliment, but when you had agreed her look had softened and she glanced over.“Don’t say that. You’ll spoil my focus.” Too late, it seemed, as Hilda withdrew the brass and closed the gun, before offering it to you. “You want to take your turn.”“Of course.” Hilda’s initial showing had admittedly intimidated you, though not in a bad way; the sort of way that made the hairs on one’s neck rise up in anticipation. Though it was impossible to defeat a perfect shooting score; you’d have to match her, or be shamed.Well-practiced in shooting as you were, and righteously proud of such, it still made you a bit nervous to have to compete with this preempting; maybe you should have shot first. It wouldn’t do to fail to impress a woman with your signature talent.Hilda was right; this was a good piece.“Same as her,” you declared, “One, then one, then two.”“Ready, milord.”“Pull.”>Roll 2 sets of 2d100; first for the first set, second for the doubler. DC is 80 Roll Under.
Rolled 47, 55 = 102 (2d100)>>2624576
Rolled 60, 35 = 95 (2d100)>>2624576Is this averaged or best of?
>>2624592Each dice is one shot, just figured it'd be quicker to do 2d100s instead of 4 sets.Anyways, nice rolls. Writing now.
The first clay flew, and the familiar sensation of the shotgun butting into your shoulder stirred the right memories; you were on your game, and you wouldn’t be taken off of it. One clay shattered to pieces, you didn’t load the single shell back in the first chamber for the second pull; for you to miss would be inconceivable. The vulnerability you had felt in the city when the trio of enemies had come upon you, and you had missed them the first round, had slipped away and vanished. As the second disc burst asunder, your confidence in your abilities had gone from a façade, to proper full once more. You didn’t even care that the hot brass bit at your fingers when you pulled them out, having taken off your gloves, or perhaps not even put them on, it didn’t matter. You were exhilarated! It had been too long since you had been able to shoot without there being the weight of the reaper’s gaze upon you. The next round, two clays flew into the air. The high that lifted your spirits mixed with natural movements, and both were easily dispatched; the second being artfully torn in half, both ends spiraling down to the earth like downed planes. The attendant applauded politely, but you were interested in Hilda’s reaction. She was staring at you, hand held up to her mouth, biting the knuckle of her index finger, her eyes round and intrigued. When you smiled at her, she turned scarlet and looked down, though not for long enough for you to not notice her eyes flicking back up as you turned your attention back to the attendant.“Another few rounds,” you requested. “Only singles. We’ll relax a bit.”Perhaps it wasn’t wise to tease Hilda like this, part of you thought, but you felt too good about all this to care. You were happy, she was happy, who could mind? It wasn’t like the two of you were having some illicit affair in the dark; this was an outing with acquaintances. You hoped.
Time came when you gave things back to Hilda, and you squeezed her shoulder as she passed to go to the shooting position. She messed up her shot completely, much to her annoyance, though her focus came back with the next. You couldn’t help but smirk.The two of you burned through ammunition and clays incredibly quickly, and the barrels of the shotguns sweated and smoked in the chilly autumn afternoon. There was still time, so the attendants had left you two at the range. As you admired the ruin of an entire wing of shooting clays, Hilda came up from behind and embraced you tightly, and you nearly jumped out of your skin.“I just wanted to say…” Hilda whispered, “…Thank you. You’re…really too nice to me.” You felt her hot breath on your neck, “This is…the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I don’t even know what to say.”“I’m glad you appreciate it,” you said. A few seconds, and Hilda was still holding you tightly against her. “Er,” you were about to point this out.“I know,” Hilda sniffed, “Just…a bit more. Please.” Hilda gripped you even closer, and rested her chin on your shoulder. A bit more was turning out to last well over a minute. “I-I want…I’ll be through with all this, if, I mean…no, forget it, I can’t ask that…” Hilda murmured. "Just a little longer.">This is fine. Let her have as long as she wants, she’d been through enough. It’s only a platonic gesture.>Now this is excessive, you need to throw her off, even if it hurts her some. It’ll be better in the long run.>Ask what it is she wanted that she cut herself off from saying.>Other?
>>2624681>Ask what it is she wanted that she cut herself off from sayingIf she is hugging us from behind, turning to face her will break it without seeming too cold. Coupled with asking what she wanted Should be both platonic and warm enough.
>>2624681Let her hug it out, but also ask what she wanted
>>2624681>Now this is excessive, you need to throw her off, even if it hurts her some. It’ll be better in the long run.She likely wants something unacceptable. Like a kiss.Fucking hell, anons. Would you like it if a girl friendzoned you then continued to flirt with you and lead you on before flitting away to her boyfriend each time? That's what you're doing to Hilda. Stop this.
>>2624681>>Now this is excessive, you need to throw her off, even if it hurts her some. It’ll be better in the long run.She's gotta stop setting herself up for disappointment. She's so horny we can't even be friends
Was it better to let this happen, you thought as Hilda squeezed you, her chest right up on your back. Would it be better to press her on what she had wanted to ask, even if it wasn’t something you could do, or something that might have been better off not said? It would at least keep her from bottling it up. Most of all, would it be best to let her have this as long as she wanted? Even just a little bit longer?…It had already been too long. Even if Hilda would rather you not, you had come to a point where the best option would be a little hurt for a long term better. You took her by the wrist and broke her hold around your shoulders.“Hilda,” you said, turning around to face her, “That’s enough.”“…Yeah.” Hilda, crestfallen, let her arms drop. “Yeah. I know.”Awkward silence ensued, such that became uncomfortable very quickly, and would have been unbearable if it aged until the attendants came back. Although Hilda had been disheartened, she had at least not been shamed; she didn’t try to creep away, or show any signs that she was more than passingly disappointed…at least, from what you could parse. Even looking for subtle signs was difficult with her, unless she was particularly impassioned.“You’re a really good shot,” you said lamely, “How long have you been hunting, again?”
“…Since I was twelve. Around ten years ago. A bit after father left my brother and I alone. He was a ferryman, courier, whatever needed to be done with a small boat on the river. Brother liked to shoot better, and he taught me how to shoot.”“Is he better than you?”Hilda thought a second. “I’d say we’re about the same. He learned earlier, but he hasn’t practiced as much.”So you’re better? You wanted to say, but you held your tongue; no more flirting, nothing that could be construed as such. “So if your father was a boater, do you know how to sail? Or, handle a boat, small nautical craft terms escape me…”“No. I know how to swim good, though.” “I see.”You ran out of ideas, but Hilda came up with something in a minute. “You and your fiancée…when are you getting married?”“Our wedding?” you asked blankly. “I uh. Don’t know.”Hilda blinked at you. “You…don’t know.”“I never thought about it until a little while ago,” you hastily explained in a defensive blurt, “I was more concerned with the Academy, with my career. An arranged marriage felt like something I could let somebody else think about.” It had been a distant concept until very recently, that you were getting married; you had expected it to just be like court, stilted ceremony that you would suffer through, only punctuated with carrying a woman out of the hall (carrying your wife out was quite an important step; if a husband couldn’t do it, it was seen as a sign that they would not support a family. Good luck on your part had made Maddalyn exceptionally easy to carry). After that, you’d finish up as quickly as possible whatever duties had to be done so you could get back to living up to the Von Tracht name. You were not so much a fool as to think you’d marry for love…but were you, now?“Richter.” Was Hilda annoyed? “When you get back to Von Blum…ask her when your wedding is.”“Will she know?” you asked dumbly.“Yes.”“Oh.”Now the awkwardness was thrown upon you. The two of you spoke on more mundane matters; the weather, the terrain, and such until Wossehn’s attendants returned and you began shooting anew. The unease was quickly forgotten as the field was once again the site of a massacre of pottery discs. Time flew by, until it had been about an hour and change, and it was time that you get back to the manor, and meet with Signy in time…and maybe get to Maddalyn as well. She had wanted to see you.“Master Loch wanted to see you, as well,” an attendant informed you as you made ready to leave, “When you returned. He said he would be waiting in the ballroom.”“Hopefully not for a dance.” You said under your breath.
“Richter,” Hilda called out to you, and when you had turned, “I just wanted to say…thank you, again.”“You can stay here and do some more, if you like,” you offered without asking the attendants their opinion, though it turned out to not matter as Hilda shook her head.“No. I don’t want to do this by myself.”Fair enough.-----The subject of Emma hadn't come up, and you didn't think to bring her up either, even though she was right on your person, sealed in a can. Emma had indicated Hilda wouldn't be interested in the subject at the moment, though you still felt bad about keeping her cooped up. Not bad enough to let her roam again yet, though.As you were escorted back, you thought about what to do next. Maddalyn had been waiting for you, but she would understand if you were a bit busy, no?...Busy entertaining other women. Maybe you shouldn’t tell her about that. Maybe you should, in case she hears about it anyways. You didn’t (think) you had eyes for anybody but her, and you doubted that she thought any different of your character, but it just wouldn’t be healthy for her to start suspecting the first woman you’d seen her not treat with arbitrary hostility of any mischief. Especially considering Hilda was actually the most mischievous of the potential lot.Maybe it’d be better to meet with Loch first, in case Maddalyn wanted to keep you around, or didn’t want to let you alone. You had left her for the whole day, after all; you doubted she would simply be fine with a little chat before being left again until bedtime.>Meet up with Loch, and see what he wants; then see Maddalyn.>Just meet up with Loch, and let Maddy wait. She was probably used to it anyways.>Loch could wait for you to be done with your fiancée, thank you very much. Maddalyn first.>Other things to take care of/address?
>>2626129>>Just meet up with Loch, and let Maddy wait. She was probably used to it anyways.
>>2626129>Meet up with Loch, and see what he wants; then see Maddalyn.If it wasn't likely about the very future of our mission and potential children hostages then I'd say talk to Maddy first. She won't be happy we won't be seeing her long before informing Signy but we'll have all the time we need in prison. once we're back in Strossvald.
Maddalyn could wait a bit longer, until all your business up to and including that with Signy was out of the way; hell, she’d been waiting around all day anyways, presumably. She was probably used to it anyways, you thought, pursing your lip; you had kept her waiting plenty long, stewing in the Death Heads’ fortress. This was for a good reason, though; you’d make it up to her.First things first, you had to see Loch about what he wanted now. You anticipated news about the situation you asked him for help with, though could he have really gotten that information so quickly? No, the main subject was likely something else.The ballroom was less a familiar sight; without the gaudy chandelier lights on, the room didn’t glitter the same way it had before, and it took on more the air of a museum hall than a place of recreation, without the tables and hors d’oeuvres, a duller, yet still grand room with paintings that now looked solemn on the shadowed walls. Loch stood just a bit away from the entrance you used, and greeted you with a wave; in his other hand, he held a shiny box that looked just larger than his hand; its edges were ground into flat inclines, and the seam of its opening was so tight that the thing almost looked like a square cut gem, made of yellow metal.“Hello again, Lieutenant,” Loch put his hand on his chest as though he were about to bow theatrically; yet he didn’t. “It’s a pleasure to see that you responded to my summons so adroitly.”“Do you have news of the hostages?” You asked immediately, approaching him.Loch smirked and tilted his head at you, winking, “My my, Von Tracht, it is flattering that you think so highly of my men and I that we can do so much in but an hours time!” Your ears reddened as Loch chuckled to himself. “Alas, there is not much to tell, other than perhaps what I presumed anyways. Your countrymen are indeed close by, well escorted, and presumably, ready to be delivered upon you on news of cooperation. They’ve made it quite easy for you…and quite easy for you to try something else, as well, but you would never think of such, would you?”“How many of them are there? How well armed?”“Oh, Lieutenant, please,” Loch shook his head side to side, “Do not think of actually attacking them, they aren’t holding these children with two thugs and a diplomat. I was told that there are three dozen fighters, not counting supporting staff and accompaniment. I would daresay they know the sort of man they are dealing with.”Was it hubris to declare that you could take on three dozen fighters? You’d taken on many more in the mountains…
>>2626129>Meet up with Loch, and see what he wants; then see Maddalyn.Buisness first, but we haven’t macked on Maddy yet in this thread. Gotta keep the dream going.
“Yet there you stand with a glint in your eye. Do have patience, Lieutenant, for once, this is easy. However, the main reason I called you here,” Loch lifted the brass square in his hand before you, “I have a gift, and I wanted to give it while I still have easy access to your person, while you still have reason to stay, and won’t vanish to someplace else.”You stared at the box, then back at Loch. “I’ve always wanted a metal box, or whatever it is. How did you know?”“Glibness has its charm, Lieutenant, but the box itself would make a poor gift, though it is indeed fine- my gift is what is inside, the box is merely so you do not get at it until I want you to. If you look closely at it,” Loch turned the box around and round for your benefit, “You’ll see no easy entry into it. It is a timed lock, and will pop open…oh, perhaps in a week. I would advise not trying to break into it before then.”“Why? Will it blow up?”“Ha, no, it will instead likely break or jam the mechanism, and it will be stuck closed, and it will be quite embarrassing for all of us involved, especially if you lacked the patience to wait a mere week.”“You won’t give me a hint as to what’s inside?” you said innocently as you reached out and took the box; it was quite heavy. Even a sledgehammer would likely not break it open, if you were to guess; perhaps not even running it over with your tank. Whatever mechanisms opened and closed it were entirely inside, the only indication that the box opened at all being the seam, so tight that it looked impossible to get anything wedged in; how expensive was this box, you wondered, and what could be inside to necessitate this security?“It is a surprise,” Loch said smugly. Fabulous. You turned the box over, shook it; no noise, of course, and looked to it, then back at Loch wryly. “Is it a surprise I’ll like? I might lose this on the way back to Strossvald if I don’t know.”Loch looked you right in the eye and smiled broadly, as though humored, “Lieutenant, what a silly thing that would be to do. I know I must seem suspicious, but I have no malevolent goals towards you. The thing inside might be to your liking, and if it is not, then it is the sort of thing you can dispose of carelessly with no risk to you at all. Is that enough to tide you over until Langenachtfest?”“Hmph.”“Was there anything else then, Lieutenant Von Tracht, or are we merely waiting for Miss Vang, now?” Loch asked gregariously; it seemed he wouldn’t have had any problem with speaking further.>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.>Who in the world are you even supposed to be, or think you are? I’m as fond of gifts as anybody but what’s your game? [Asking this as is might just make him laugh at you]>Tell me, does all this favor for me benefit you in any way, or is this all just for cooperating? I just want to know what our relationship is.>Other things?
>>2627224>>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.Lets go see what Maddy wants
>>2627224>>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.
>>2627224>>2627238Supporting. Maybe with a quick parting bit of:Does all this favor for me benefit you in any way, or is this all just for cooperating? So he wants to be far away from us when this bomb thing goes off which makes me all the more suspicious.Also we can totally get Emma to peek inside and tell us what it is. I swear to the Judge though if she's cheeky about it and doesn't tell us or it's protected by Wizard Bullshit I want to run it over with the tank.
>>2627224>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.Let's go see Maddy.Also ask Emma to look inside the box.
>>2627224>>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.I'm pretty sure the only reason we have to think the box doesn't contain some sort of deadly neurotoxin is that that would be way too obvious. But that's probably exactly what Loch is depending on to suppress our suspicions enough to keep it around. I'm pretty sure he's trying to kill us. I would call him a dick but we already knew that about him.
>>2627688I don't know anon, he was never outright malicious to us, and if he wanted us dead he would have many more efficient and sure ways of doing so.
>>2627224>>No. I’ll take some time to myself until the meeting time.We gotta get emma to look in the box
“No. I’ll take some time to myself until I meet with Signy.” You told Loch.“Very well.”As you turned around and began to leave, box in hand, you looked back and held up the metal thing, “So is this just a gift for my good behavior, or something more?”Loch winked. “Perhaps both.”It was almost certainly a bomb, you thought pessimistically as you left the ballroom.-----As you made your way towards Maddalyn’s room, unsure as you were in navigating the upper floors of Wossehn’s castle, you had an idea of how to look inside the box. You placed the rather heavy box on a bench, and popped open Emma’s can; the little ember lay dejected at the bottom of the can.“Eh?” she seemingly woke, “What? What?”“Good morning. I have a job for you,” you said simply.“Oh. What.” Emma was still unhappy, it seemed, though you weren’t sure how to fix that anyways. She was still sitting at the bottom of the can, so you reached in. “H-hey! I’m coming out, I’m coming out! Jeez.”“That box over there,” you pointed, “I want to know what’s inside it.”Emma floated over, around it. “Uh…this thing’s metal. You know I can’t go through metal, right?”“There’s a seam there,” you pointed to the admittedly thin line, “You can try, right?”“…It seems really tight. I don’t know if I could fit…”Fit? Emma was immaterial. The question of how she could or couldn’t fit into something seemed silly…though apparently spirits could be too big for things. You were at least sure Emma was malleable enough to attempt. She just needed motivation.
“Pudgy ghost,” you quipped.“…What?” Emma said, surprised, “What did you say? It better not have been-““Pudgy ghooooost.” You teased her more. “Haunting the kitchen, looking for cakes.”“Shut your mouth!” Emma snapped, “I’m not a pudgy ghost, how dare you!” Predictably, though, she started to push against the seam. “Huurrrgh,” she flared up, “…C’mon, how am I supposed to fit through this?”“I’ll help,” you said, and you…well, you didn’t really know what to do. Maybe if you pushed her? You could…sort of touch her, you supposed. You pushed a couple of fingers behind her and felt the tingle of her aura.“Eeeeek!” Emma shrieked, “Help, help, somebody! A pervert’s touching me inappropriately!”“You knock that off,” you scolded, “Are you making any progress?”“Quit prodding me!” Emma complained, “…A little, I don’t know, how much do I have to go in? It, like, goes down…”“Just do your best.” You weren’t sure how far she had to get in to see, but then again, you didn’t really know how a floating ball of blue fire was supposed to see at all. The less you questioned the better.“Uhhh,” Emma kept trying, but if she was making any progress, you couldn’t see. “I think this might take a while. I’m sort of…slipping in. It’s really tight, I don’t know how to say it. It’s like it’s metal, so it feels tighter. Maybe you should just, put me somewhere, and I’ll try to keep squeezing in, and find you when I’m out?”This was agreed to be ideal.-----Lord Wossehn’s manor was still twisting and unfamiliar, but you’d gone through it enough that you had the beginnings of an idea of how it was laid out- not enough of one to not get turned around twice, but you did find your own way to Maddalyn’s room. After Emma, the box, and her designated can were placed in Hilda’s room close by, you went back to see your fiancée proper; after all, you knew of the potential of the two of you saying (and perhaps doing) things that would preferably not have an audience. The door was, predictably, locked, so you knocked on it politely. No response.“Maddalyn?” You called out. The door cracked, and then opened.
Maddalyn had her eyepatch off, but the eye it normally covered was closed anyways. Disconcertingly, some makeup must have rubbed off at some point; her bruise from yesterday was practically glaring at you. “Oh…hello, Richter..” she said slowly, quietly, before backing into the room. You followed her, closing the door behind you. She was still dressed in her pink pajamas…despite it being well into the afternoon.“Is there something you need to tell me?” you asked, “What did you want?”“I wanted to see you…” Maddalyn whined. “Isn’t that enough?” She reached a hand out and stroked your face, a sad look in her eye. “I know it hasn’t been long. Only half a day. I know I’m being greedy, but…” Maddalyn turned around and went towards the bed- she had constructed a pillow fort on top of it for some reason, though it was stout and probably only would have accommodated one of her diminutive size. “I know that…this is how it’s going to be. You’ll take me home, and then you’ll leave, and I’ll be alone again. Today it’s only some hours, but soon enough, it’ll be days, months…maybe forever.” Maddalyn stared at you as she sat on the bed; she had opened her other eye. It was black, with a glowing center, like it was before, when it had been damaged. She realized it was open and shut it quickly.“I’ve n-no right to tell you that you cuh-can’t f-follow your dreams…” Maddalyn mumbled, “I can’t tell you to st-stay home forever, and never be a soldier, to never fight another battle, to drag me along everywhere just for the s-sake of my nerves. Yet…I wish you would anyway.” Maddalyn sniffed pitifully. “What a catch I must be. I demand to see you then I do nothing but complain. I wish I knew what you liked about me, because I certainly can’t think of anything.” Her sadness quickly turned to harsh bitterness, and she clenched her hands together in her lap, looking down. “You smell like gunpowder,” she shifted the subject, “What have you been doing while you were out?”>I went shooting with Hilda. She was down in the dumps, so I tried to help with that.>Me and some guys went and shot things for fun. Nothing much, really.>Oh, there was this massive battle, see, to decide who would win the cutest girl around. Somehow, I’ve come out on top, and I’ve come to claim my prize.>Have you just been sitting in here all day? That’s not healthy, you know.>That doesn’t matter, because it sounds like you’re in dire need of snuggling.>[Assault Lasciviously]>Other?
>>2628462>Oh, there was this massive battle, see, to decide who would win the cutest girl around. Somehow, I’ve come out on top, and I’ve come to claim my prize.>Have you just been sitting in here all day? That’s not healthy, you know.
>>2628462>Oh, there was this massive battle, see, to decide who would win the cutest girl around. Somehow, I’ve come out on top, and I’ve come to claim my prize.>Have you just been sitting in here all day? That’s not healthy, you know.We must break the conditioning and become a family man.
>>2628527>Not training Maddy into a musclebound killing machine so that she can go to war with us.
“Oh,” you prepared to spin an obviously false, but hopefully flattering story. “There was this massive battle, see, to decide who would win the chance to see the cutest girl around. It was hard, and I got knocked around a bit, I admit, but I’ve somehow come out on top. So here I am, come to claim my prize.” You tried to smile, even if Maddalyn couldn’t see it.Maddalyn sighed, and your heart sank. She didn’t look entertained in the slightest. “…I’m sorry, I appreciate the compliment, but I’m just…” Maddalyn looked down at her lap and squeezed a finger with her hand, “…Not feeling up to that.”“Have you just been sitting in here all day?” you asked, sitting heavily next to your fiancée. As you did, she leaned against your shoulder. “That’s not healthy, you know.”“It’s what I did all the time anyways, after…” Maddalyn trailed off. “I did think to look at Lord Wossehn’s art gallery…he suggested, yesterday, that I could look around it and show you later…”“Are you going to show me it, then?”“I didn’t look at much. Nobody could stay to guide me, as the Lord was busy. Then the first frames I saw…were empty. They were prints, I suppose. For when the original piece is in a place it won’t leave. But I was alone, and I couldn’t see the exhibit…I hope that it wasn’t unreasonable for me to be upset. I came back here, to practice something I can do. To see if something…worked some way.”“What was it?” you asked. Maddalyn was silent. “Did it have something to do with why your eye is like that?” you pressed, touching her cheek right below the dark eye.“That’s…it’s just something that happens. It’s nothing. It just means the little ones inside are excited.” Maddalyn was trying to brush this off; she clearly didn’t want to discuss it. She wrapped her arms around you, and the one around her back knocked across some parts of your back that still ached from your entanglement with an automated percussion instrument.“Ah!” She yelped as you cringed, “I…I’m sorry…”“It’s fine,” you said hurriedly, kinking your back out and stretching out the spots. All this hadn’t been what you anticipated coming up here for, though…it probably wouldn’t be good if you just turned around and left while Maddalyn was in this mood.>Enough dandying about, even if she wasn’t in a romantic mood, she was getting cuddled. It would be good for both of you.>Maybe she’d brighten up if you promised a later arrangement, and you could leave then. She wouldn’t be impartial to an evening at a café, or maybe a walk around the city’s more appealing center?>Ask if she wants to come with you, even if your business later might be boring; it’d be better than her rotting in here. Though she’d have to get dressed. (Or not? Maybe you prefer her in her pajamas, I won’t judge)>Other?
>>2628820>>Maybe she’d brighten up if you promised a later arrangement, and you could leave then. She wouldn’t be impartial to an evening at a café, or maybe a walk around the city’s more appealing center?
>>2628820I can't decide if we should be jealous or find it scandalous that our betrothed is already filled with little ones.>Ask if she wants to come with you, even if your business later might be boring; it’d be better than her rotting in here. Though she’d have to get dressed.
>>2628820>Ask for a massage.It's something she can do and something we can compliment to make her feel better.
>>2628820>>Ask if she wants to come with you, even if your business later might be boring; it’d be better than her rotting in here. Though she’d have to get dressed. (Or not? Maybe you prefer her in her pajamas, I won’t judge)As much as I'd like pajama time, Maddy would probably be better at political things than us if it comes up. Having her around would be useful and we should state such. Cuddling optional.
>>2629127This works, at least give her the option of coming with and utilizing her courtly acumen. >Other?If she's been practicing her sorcery ask if there is anything we can get her to help with that. If she's going to be in the dark doing heresy of the highest degree it'd pay to have the best stuff to work with.
>>2628820>Ask if she wants to come with you, even if your business later might be boring; it’d be better than her rotting in here. Though she’d have to get dressed.Also see if she can look into the box if Emma fails. I dunno, maybe her presence isnt as fat as Emma's.
BlahSorry for the delay, today was spend feeling like a bag of fish assholes and sleeping off nothing whatsoever. I'll have an update soon.
“Perhaps you want to come with me, while I take care of the rest of my business today?” You offered, “It might be boring, though. And you’ll have to get dressed.”Maddalyn didn’t need to think about it much. “Alright, I’ll come. Wait outside.” You both rose, and Maddalyn rummaged around in a bag of things for clothes, and she pulled out a set before turning and staring at you.“Richter,” she continued staring, quizzically.“Aren’t you going to get changed?”Maddalyn stuck out her lip, and furrowed her brow at you. “Get. Out.” You soon found yourself pushed out the door, and the lock clicked behind you. After a minute, Maddalyn came out, dressed in the other clothes from yesterday, the loaned jacket and dress, eyepatch one once more.“Where’s the doll dress?” you asked.“I can’t put that on by myself.” Apparently, you didn’t count as potential help. “Wait, isn’t that…her room?” Maddalyn asked as you led her over to where you had Emma trying to infiltrate the metal box. You might have had an inkling of an idea, though as you were putting it together in your head, Maddalyn saw Emma and was immediately displeased. “Oh. You.”“What?” Emma replied, “Oh, me? What’s that supposed to mean?”The hows and whys of your procurement of this box were hastily explained, and you got to what you wanted Maddalyn to try. “I want to find out what’s inside this box. The ghost can’t fit easily, so I was thinking you could try to look inside.”Maddalyn looked at you hopelessly. “What? How?”“You know, you…” you wiggled your fingers illustratively, “Sort of, put your presence or whatever, inside? Then you look…inside.” Maddalyn’s mouth hung open and she grew more and more desperately confused as you tried to rationalize this. “You know, you do the presence thing, like with the spells, and then you…see through it?”“That’s not how it works,” Maddalyn said flatly, “That’s not how anything works.”“It’s how I work,” Emma interjected.“Shut up.”“Can you do anything at all to try and look inside?” you asked.“No.” Maddalyn said, “I can’t.”“She has eyes, dingus,” Emma informed you of the obvious as she shuffled around the crack, “What, do you think she’s a ghost or something inside the bag of bones and the frigid bitch personality?”Maddalyn pursed her lips, but said nothing.“Keep trying, then,” you told Emma, as you led Maddalyn out again.“I’m not sure why you thought I could do something,” Maddalyn pouted sullenly as you went out, “It’s not like soulbinder arts can do whatever you want them to.”“It rather feels like they can,” you couldn’t help but express.
“Well, I mean,” Maddalyn struggled to find proper words for a moment, “Presence, it’s not something that works in a logical fashion, it doesn’t adhere to the rules of the world or what would make sense sometimes, it’s not even something that manifests or can be perceived most of the time, but at the same time, it’s…it’s hard to explain. It’s easier if you just asked me if something would work a certain way, and I could tell you…maybe.”“If it’s not something that works according to logic and does things that make no sense, how come you can say what it can and can’t do?” you grumbled.“It depends on what the presence belongs to, and who’s using it. Presence in and of itself is hard to define, since so much of its identity and traits depend on what’s using it.” Maddalyn gestured back towards whence you had come, “For example. That creature back there uses its presence in a way wholly different from how other entities would, which is why it can sense in ways we can, but without having a body, why it can still converse with us despite having no form, because its species is adapted to mimicry. Each soulbinder has a different identity, and their presence reflects that, but they tend to use similar techniques because they’re all more or less human. To summarize, I can’t tell you what presence does, but I’ve read plenty enough to generally say what can do what.”“I’ll try to keep that in mind. On that note, if you’re practicing sorcery, is there anything I can do to help? Procuring materials and such?” If Maddalyn was going to be doing this, you thought it best that she not be forced to work alone.“Ah…” Maddalyn hesitated oddly, “No, I think I have everything…for what I would want to do.”“A ready supply of virgin’s blood, for example?”“…Yes.”
“How does that work, anyways?” You wondered out loud, “Does your blood change when you lose your virginity? I’d think normal blood would work just as well, wouldn’t it? Does it have to be your blood, or can you just cut some other virgin and get theirs?”“Well yes, it has to be my blood, it’s my presence that I’m working with,” Maddalyn said, perhaps a bit more matter of factly than you’d have liked. “As for if it matters…it is sorcery, I don’t think it’s a good idea to question what the texts, and the Hermit, instructed.” You walked on quietly a moment more, when Maddalyn wrapped her arms around your right arm and clung to you. “…That question, Richter, is it…it’s alright, isn’t it?”“I said it was alright when you first asked, didn’t I?” you replied without hesitation. “Okay…” Maddalyn released your arm. More silence. When you got to the stairs, she finally asked, “So, who are you, us, meeting with for this business?”“With Cyclops, or rather, Signy Vang.” Maddalyn sighed heavily. “Oh. her…Fine. What for?”>Why the hostility? Did something happen that I should know about?>Oh, stop that. She’s the leader of the Republic and a fine woman, she deserves your respect.>Ignore the slight and continue as normal.>Other?
>>2633622>>Ignore the slight and continue as normal.
>>2633622>Why the hostility? Did something happen that I should know about?
>>2633622>>Ignore the slight and continue as normal.Come on guys don't ask why. She's angry and jealous that Signy flirted with us and asked for a date when Maddy was there.
>>2633622When I am curious what they specifically said to each other>Ignore the slight and continue as normalIt's also a a big ol' toepopper waiting to be stepped on.
The hostility seemed undeserved, but you didn’t think it would be a good idea to push that button; you ignored it instead, and addressed the actual question.“It’s about the matter of the rest of the hostages I was sent to rescue. One of Signy’s allies, well, the Republic’s allies, is a bunch of gangsters called the Blue Barbs Band.” You didn’t feel like going into details; Maddalyn hadn’t been informed of the greater politics of the Republic, and as far as you knew was only aware of what would have been absorbed through social osmosis, what little she would have had.“Terrible names must be what passes for culture in Sosaldt.” Maddalyn muttered.“Yes. Anyways. They went and made a business deal with the Death Heads shortly before the attack, and bought up a number of children prisoners. They didn’t do this out of goodwill, of course; out of all the factions in the Republic they’re the most troublesome if not outright seditious, so they offered me a deal. They want me to try and convince Signy to accept a proposal they have, and they say whether she ends up agreeing or not, if I do that for them, they’ll return the children.”“They’ll do that instead of holding on to them and threatening them with harm if you don’t do what they say? How awfully gracious of them.”“When I spoke with Loch about it, he said that they weren’t in a good position to try and use direct force, so they have to try and keep their influence where they can through softer methods. The most threatening thing they’ve said is that they’ll keep the hostages in their care until somebody pays back the costs of freeing and caring for them, though how much that is has been purposefully kept ambiguous.”“You’re sure of that?” Maddalyn was still skeptical.“I had Loch look into it, and he said the hostages were under guard, but with one of the Blue Barb contingents here. If they were disingenuous in their offer, they wouldn’t need to bring them so close, instead of keeping them inside the city. It could be a trick, I suppose, but…”“I don’t see how it would be worth the effort. If they wanted to keep you on a chain, they’d be up front with it, I think. Otherwise they’re expending a feint for a poor purpose.”“What do you think of this?” you asked Maddalyn.“I think if they seem sincere and you want to leave this place with everybody in a timely manner, you should just go along with it. I’m trying to think of their trick, but I can’t figure it out. Is there a good reason you shouldn’t parley with them?”“Because they are scum.”
“Hm.” Maddalyn put a finger to her lip, “I suppose that’s as good a reason as any.” Without warning, she stuck her hand in your face.“What are you-“ you started to say, but then you remembered that this was Maddalyn’s only way of “looking” at you, so you shut up. She moved her fingers all around the edges and contours, but lingered a bit on a small scars from what felt like forever ago, ones you had stopped noticing even when looking at yourself. She stopped once you both got to the stairs, and gripped tightly to the siderail; a learned habit that was difficult to shake, presumably, and she gripped onto you just as hard; her unsteady and slow pace was taking too long for your tastes, so upon reaching the first landing you scooped her up without warning and carried her the rest of the way.Maddalyn was only slightly bemused, grumbling about the uninvited transportation under her breath the whole way down, though she didn’t dislike it enough to demand to be put down again, evidently.That bruise on her face was still leering at you, though; Maddalyn could hardly be blamed for not attending to it, but it marred her cute little face in a way that was most unpleasant, especially considering who had put it there. Hopefully it wouldn’t bring up any questions. Maybe you should have remembered, though something else was distracting you as well; something you were sure you’d forgotten but couldn’t think of what.Probably not anything important.“Richter,” Maddalyn hissed at you as you finalized your descent, “Skirt.”“Sorry.” You adjusted your hold, though you sincerely thought about pitching her backwards and letting gravity do more work.“Richter,” Maddalyn added once more, as you finished your descent down the stairs, “Am I too…childlike? Being carried like this, I started thinking about it…I know I look younger than my age,” An understatement. “But if you are being slighted because of it, I wouldn’t want that. I don’t know how I would amend that, but…”It was true that Maddalyn was...very petite. Whether or not that was something to your taste wasn't something you would readily admit for the same reason Maddalyn was concerned with, though the ability to pick her up and manhandle her with ease did have its perks...>You shouldn’t worry about that. I’m used to being slighted, it’s merely water running off a rock.>It’s part of your charm. I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise.>It’s nothing some padding wouldn’t solve. And heels.>Other?
>>2634674>It’s part of your charm. I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise
>>2634674>It’s part of your charm. I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise.
>>2634674>>It’s part of your charm. I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise.
>>2634674>It’s part of your charm. I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise.>Probably not anything important.FUCK. What'd we forget? Pay the Riverman? Hans kidnapped? Left the tank engine on?
>>2636019What was the bruise on her face from, again? I don't even remember.
>>2636360We hit her to heal Krause
>>2636364Ah, right. Does it have to do with her eye? If it's all dark now does that mean she has control of it again? Is it working normally now? Before I thought it was just stuck staring at us which I assumed meant she wouldn't be able to use it for any magic bullshit.
>>2636387The eye is probably the only part of the real maddy, while we carry around this fakedoll/golem
“It’s part of your charm,” you told Maddalyn, letting her down, and curling a lock of red hair around your finger afterwards, by her cheek, “I would go so far as to question the taste of anybody who thinks otherwise.”Maddalyn still looked troubled. “That I’m so small and scrawny is part of my charm? That I look immature?” Well, not because of the immaturity, if it should be called that, but you nodded to her anyways. “Richter, are you one of those sorts?”“Those people?”Maddalyn snapped her eye quickly away. “..Never mind. Let’s not delay too long. When are you meeting with the Vang woman?”“She should be getting back soon. I had one of my officers escort her out for midday and some of the afternoon.”“…Oh…” Maddalyn suddenly looked remarkably morose, and she threaded her arm through yours before clinging tightly and taking a deep breath.“What’s the matter?” You asked her.“Nothing.” Your fiancée said as she leaned against you, “Nothing at all.”
Signy didn’t keep you waiting long, and she was cheery enough in disposition for you to feel pleased with your efforts; though perhaps even the chance to be away from her newly minted duties was good enough for her regardless of what she thought about what she would be doing away from it or who she’d be with. She beamed at you, “Good afternoon, Richter!”she bubbled and grinned with an open mouth, “And, er,” she did her best to smile at Maddalyn, but that was a futile effort; Maddy was incapable of perceiving the attempt at friendliness even if she would have been in a receptive mood. “Good afternoon, Miss, er, milady Von Blum.” Maddalyn continued to stare coldly, and Signy’s smile vanished. She looked back to you instead and her mood began to better once more, though it was still plenty dim. “I guess, from how you look right now, you’re here to talk business. I guess I have to get started on that sometime, huh? Ha ha. Ha.” Signy’s laugh was a clattering of rotten sticks instead of a tinkling bell, like it oft had the tenor of, and her smile was not at all a match for the way her substantial eyebrows crooked towards her crown, and the downcast look in her eyes.“It’s the matter of Glockenblume, and the Blue Barbs.”Signy continued to smile, even though both of you knew that now it was entirely for show.>Give her the Blue Barb’s proposal straight; sell it, give it its chance. It’s better for the Republic as a whole for it to go through anyways, preposterous as it might seem to let the Blue Barbs have their way.>Preamble with the fact that you’re being coerced into this; the Blue Barbs would have their deal, but you wouldn’t do them any favors beyond telling Signy what it was, and what the score with this was.>The Blue Barbs would have nothing. You knew where they had your countrymen, and you didn’t intend to give an inch to these bastards; but you’d need Signy’s help and approval to force the issue and get them back.>Other?>>2636387It's still behaving like before, its color just changed to one like it was when it burst back in Salzbrucke when the Riverman marked her.
>>2636629>>Preamble with the fact that you’re being coerced into this; the Blue Barbs would have their deal, but you wouldn’t do them any favors beyond telling Signy what it was, and what the score with this was.Delegate should have been a little more receptive if he wanted us to put this shit in a good light. Also Signy should hear the truth about her subjects.While normally I'd be up for tearing the Barbs a new one and giving the Republic a chance to properly corral them, I don't think it would survive the attempt. It'd probably do just fine against Glockenblume, but there are also delegates from the North and South here, and seeing the newly created country attack one of it's own in a brief civil war would probably give them enough of a reason to attack Mittelsosaldt.I'm fairly sure if Signy doesn't give them this though, the Blue Barbs will turn sides and join whatever group attacks the Republic. Even piss poor military can cause havoc if they turn traitor at the right moment.
>>2636629>>Preamble with the fact that you’re being coerced into this; the Blue Barbs would have their deal, but you wouldn’t do them any favors beyond telling Signy what it was, and what the score with this was.
>>2636629>Preamble with the fact that you’re being coerced into this; the Blue Barbs would have their deal, but you wouldn’t do them any favors beyond telling Signy what it was, and what the score with this was.
>>2636629>The Blue Barbs would have nothing. You knew where they had your countrymen, and you didn’t intend to give an inch to these bastards; but you’d need Signy’s help and approval to force the issue and get them back.Why are you so defeatist anons?Fuck GB up. Issue a debt amnesty to deprive them of most of their army. Frame it politically so that crushing GB would be seen as a show of strength. We have tools at our disposal, we only need the courage to use them.
>>2636629>Preamble with the fact that you’re being coerced into this>Raise the idea of debt amnesty. They have one leg left to stand on, so kick it away
“First of all, I should not,” you began, “That I’m not proposing this to you because I want to, or because it’s an idea I support. The Blue Barbs hold the last unaccounted for hostages which I came to rescue, and they’ve offered to return them if I do them the favor of buttering you up to accept their deal.”Signy’s expression, to your surprise, softened. “I don’t have any choice then, do I? If I don’t at least make it like I’ll think about it, they won’t appreciate it much.”“Even so.” You then launched into explaining the Blue Barbs’ plan- the agreement that there would be no more child grooming and slavery, nor marketing of said children to foreign buyers. Their most contemptuous activities would be canceled, so long as they were allowed to continue another; that of holding ownership over those who owed them debts, people whom they’d recently recaptured in a sweep through Republic territory by goon squads. In exchange for ending the child slavery, Glockenblume would be allowed to pursue and exert influence over all those who owed them some sort of debt, even outside of Blue Barb Territory, and that these debtors would be able to repay said debts in “whatever way they saw fit.”Signy had gone through several levels of displeasure, and when you were done she exhaled slowly out her nose. “I hate it. I mean, it isn’t slavery, but I know how most of these people who owe them got in this situation. They didn’t really have a choice, they were caught in moments of weakness, but the Blue Barbs look at them like trash, and with enough time, the people they exploit even agree.” Signy went over towards a shady row in the ballroom and sat heavily on a bench, resting her chin on the backs of her hands. “They’ll certainly make trouble of it if I don’t agree to it, though. I s’pose it’s not as bad as it could be.” Signy accepted that bit with heavy resignation, “It’s not like I’m out of options to deal with them, it’s just…a pain.”
“Can you not wipe away the debts of those they hold sway over? That would cause quite a bit of chaos, no?” You suggested.“We don’t have the money, or the structure for that. At least not yet. That’s not really an option. For example, the White Eyes…they believe in me. The Guillotines supported me, and with Bad Rott gone, they’re near as loyal as the White Eyes. Lord Wossehn is supportive, and everybody else…we’ll have to see. But the people who support me in Glockenblume aren’t the citizens, nor their militias. It’s the people who I’d consider my enemies otherwise. If I were to declare Glockenblume’s credits null and void, they’d just pull out of this. We don’t have the money to just buy up all the debt either; there’s just too many things to take care of. I talked about it with Loch and his advisors, and I didn’t like the conclusion, but…the only real option is to let them have some things.”“You are their overlord, yes?” Maddalyn interjected, firmly. “They do not respect you? Then they will step on you until you are no longer useful. The longer you wait to be forceful, the more their defiance will grow. They are your subjects, and if they purposefully besmirch your authority then they must be sternly reminded of their duty.”Signy seemed surprised that Maddalyn was speaking to her, but quickly answered, “I don’t want to be an autocrat. I’m not some jumped up warlord who thinks they’re king of the land, or a noble who thinks everything belongs to them because of a name-““The Blumlands do not belong to my family because of a name,” Maddalyn interrupted sharply, “A territorial lord, as well as their family, know the responsibilities they must assume well. Strossvald is strong because of this. I myself may be far from the direct line of succession, but even I have been instructed in rulership nevertheless. Kaiser Alexander taught the high nobility the costs of decadent negligence. We do far more than sit on thrones and bark at the peasantry, though I suppose the daughter of a rabble rouser like Sigmund Vang wouldn’t have been told that sort of inconvenient truth, hm?”Signy’s eyes turned to molten fury, and her teeth ground together, but she returned to an uneasy calm. “Fine. I’m sorry. But I refuse to impose upon what will be built as a bastion of freedom, especially if it wouldn’t help me anyways. I have a plan, I’m not a complete idiot.”
“What’s the plan?” you asked, cutting off Maddalyn before she could try and provoke Signy again.“The territory of the Blue Barbs and the White Eyes will be consolidated,” Signy said, “The Republic will be a confederation of states, but the lines haven’t been drawn up quite yet; I can reduce Glockenblume’s political power by forcing them into a single state alongside the White Eyes. They’ll still have the right of representation, as will their citizens, even the ones who I disagree with, but they’ll have to cooperate with the White Eyes.” Signy flashed a confident glance at Maddalyn, “How’s that? They’ll slowly be assimilated, peacefully converted; or they’ll be stonewalled. Their sort of poison runs deep in their citizens, but that poison’ll be cured with sunlight, with the mixing of different blood. The two’ll have to cooperate, and if they don’t change to do that…well, what would they even do?”“I hope this’ll last long enough to try that.” Maddalyn sniffed.“…Er.” Signy’s face fell. “I mean, you’re right…”Signy looked back to you, “Things are really hopeful, but they’re also so fragile…I think I can resolve this peacefully though, Richter. To turn this dark place in the world into the opposite. I can do this. I’ll help you out, too. It’s the least I can do after what you’ve done for me, for the Republic.”
When you were about to give your thanks for that, a Republic Trooper, albeit a much more bookish looking one than the usual, burst into the room.“Cyclops,” he breathed, “Some guy called Nash of the Night Beasts is comin’, saying he’s here for the ‘meeting.’”“Figures that bastard’d be around early,” Signy’s mood darkened almost immediately. “Go and get Loch and everybody else, this is only the start of a long, long end of the day…” She looked back at you and tried to smile in that light, sweet way she did. “Sorry, I’d like to keep talking, but seems like it’s time for a…goddamn line of freaks from the north to take turns trying to push me around while molesting me.” Signy had mentioned in the past how the Northern Lords, on top of being rough natured to put it gently, weren’t very respectful of Signy’s status as a young woman and were fond of groping her. Signy may have passed it off as an unpleasant necessity, but she made no secret of how much it quite understandably irritated her.>Offer to stay and support her; if anybody lays a hand on her, there’ll be hell to pay. This wasn’t a hole of any Sosaldtian barbarian, this was the Republic, and they’d treat its leader with proper respect.>You’d leave Signy to it, then; with Loch and company watching, nothing too intolerable would happen, and she likely knew well enough how to deal with this; she didn’t need your help. And it wouldn’t be a safe place for Maddalyn to be around either.>Stick around, but try and keep off to the side; your help might be needed, but you wouldn’t make any moves unless it was absolutely necessary. You didn’t need to be thrown through any more furniture, after all.>Other?
>>2639694>Stick around, but try and keep off to the side; your help might be needed, but you wouldn’t make any moves unless it was absolutely necessary. You didn’t need to be thrown through any more furniture, after all.>Tell her we kicked him in the balls
>>2639694>You’d leave Signy to it, then; with Loch and company watching, nothing too intolerable would happen, and she likely knew well enough how to deal with this; she didn’t need your help. And it wouldn’t be a safe place for Maddalyn to be around either.If we stay though, can we not get into a fight or argument when he's inevitably going to be a shit? I say we just shoot him if he tries to touch Signy or anyone else during the meeting.
>>2639694>>You’d leave Signy to it, then; with Loch and company watching, nothing too intolerable would happen, and she likely knew well enough how to deal with this; she didn’t need your help. And it wouldn’t be a safe place for Maddalyn to be around either.
>>2639694>You’d leave Signy to it, then; with Loch and company watching, nothing too intolerable would happen, and she likely knew well enough how to deal with this; she didn’t need your help. And it wouldn’t be a safe place for Maddalyn to be around either.Okay job's done, let's go get the chillin's. If we stick around it will inevitably turn into a fight or provoke Mashed Nads unnecessarily. Which if it ever does again I hope at this point we have a pistol holstered because we suck at fist fights.And shit if she doesn't want to get molested go sit at a desk, if he gets too close, kick his ass with Fritz or something.
As much as it didn’t behoove you to abandon Signy to these people, not only was there not much you could do anyways, but the prospect of having Maddalyn around these creeps made your skin crawl. So you decided to let Signy deal with this, though not before sharing a tidbit of your noon events with her.“Nash the Night Beast, huh? I met him earlier. I kicked him in the balls.”The furry eyebrowed young woman gawked at you in surprise. “You did what? Richter, Nash is a Lord of the North, he’s not somebody who you can just trifle with!”“He was being an arse.” You said simply.“Well, yes, that’s certainly like him, but they like to resolve their conflicts through fighting. Did you get into a fight with him? Of course you did.” Signy looked at you sideways, “He kicked your ass, didn’t he?”Maddalyn tugged at your sleeve, though you deigned to answer Signy first…sort of. “I gave him a run for his money.” Vague enough to leave the issue of victory or defeat up to a guess, not technically a lie, in your opinion. Perfect.“Well,” Signy smirked wearily, “Hopefully I can have a better shot at that.” -----You felt compelled to check back on your platoon, and the repairs of your vehicles; namely whether Karla Smitt; Stein’s sister and Iron Hogs mechanic, otherwise known as “Smitty,” had decided to stop doing whatever she was up to with your radioman and start actually working on your tank. On the way out of Lord Wossehn’s castle, you had the misfortune to pass by Nash and a few of his thugs, but he didn’t appear to recognize you at all, though his people did.“Oi,” he called at you, “Yer little sis’s a cutie.”You weren’t sure to be relieved or offended that he’d forgotten about you in the space of a few hours. Maddalyn clung nervously to you as you both proceeded out of the gate and into the city. Driving would have been quicker, but a walk with your fiancée would probably be to her preference. It wasn’t like you had to be anywhere in a hurry anyways, even though you’d have liked to start your journey out of this country as soon as possible you also predicted that you wouldn’t be able to start moving until tomorrow anyways. May as well relax in what was probably the single place in Sosaldt you’d been to that you wouldn’t mind staying longer in.
Although your experiences in exploration had usually been around the woods or wilderness, the times you’d been to urban centers in the past had been enjoyable to explore as well in your youth. A city was but a forest of brick and concrete after all, and just like how every tree was different, every block had a different surprise. Indulging in a survey of this foreign ground was easy, as despite acquiring a general familiarity with the layout of Wossehnalia you’d far from looked through it in detail. The section you arbitrarily picked to wander through on the way back turned out to be a baker’s row. The timing was perfect to pass through while the evening’s baking was being done, and the streets were only lightly populated. Every place had a slightly different scent; one was dominated by rich butter, the next with the cloying smell of syrup and sugar, and another with the slight tart of lemon, lime, rhubarb, apple, and berries of all sorts. Maddalyn slowed by each one, but the last one was the shop where she finally made a teeth-hurtingly saccharine vocalization.“Hnnnmmm…” she gripped you tightly and tugged on your arm, “Riichterrr…”“Hm?”“You’re torturing meeee…” Maddalyn whined, “I haven’t had sweets in so long…we need to come back here later.”>Later? Why not now? It’s not like I’m too concerned about your waistline with your usual portions.>Of course. We have to make up for all those days I haven’t bought you candy, don’t we?>You want pastries and candy for dinner? You’re mad. You’ll get fat with that diet. [Tease]>Other?
>>2641032>>Later? Why not now?Time to dote on Maddy. No bully.
>>2641032>Later? Why not now?
“Later?” you said slyly, “Why not now?”Maddalyn looked up at you with a wide eye, then looked away as her cheeks pinkened. She tugged you downwards, then stood on her toes and pecked you on the cheek. “Thank you,” said in your ear, “But,” she stood flat once more as she pulled you towards the shop entrance, “I don’t have any money. You’ll have to pay for it this time.”“I’m sure we can work out some arrangement.” Maddalyn cocked an eyebrow at you, then swatted at the air behind her. “What was that?” you asked.Maddalyn seemed about as puzzled as you were. “Oh. Ah, I thought you were about to grab my butt.”“Perish the thought.” You couldn’t be too predictable. The door jingled as Maddalyn tugged you through, and the pattisiers stood to attention; a few people were absentmindedly seated here and there, mostly sitting idle, plates empty but for crumbs. Your fiancée stopped and inhaled deeply, humming to herself as she looked up, presuming to see a selection, but her face fell, and when you looked you saw the reason why; most places like this had some sort of chalkboard, in your experience, but here, the selections were printed on small menus, dispensed at the front. “I can read down the list,” you suggested quietly to Maddalyn, but she shook her head.“No…that’s fine. In fact…how about you surprise me?” She looked out towards the bins of hot, freshly prepared pastries; an extremely decadent selection considering the country you were in; this place would have rivaled its brethren in Strosstadt. Surprise her, huh? You looked down the sheet and noted a few interesting choices. Which to go with, though…>Cream Cheese and Chocolate Filled Puff, with black coffee side, mixed with chocolate liqueur and sweet vodka. Light, fluffy, intoxicating.>Cinnamon Apple Tart, swirled with honey and served with an assuredly unhealthy pile of 54-proof “fortified” whipped cream. >Chocolate Cake with Molten Ganache Center, raspberry garnish, and Ice Cream with Strawberry Syrup. Fortified Cream optional.>Strudel with honeyed nut filling, puffy, buttery pastry each of whose layers are so thin that a love letter can be read through an individual one; sprinkled with sugar, cream optional.>Everything! [This is potentially a copious amount of high proof alcohol]>Something else?
>>2641360>>Cinnamon Apple Tart, swirled with honey and served with an assuredly unhealthy pile of 54-proof “fortified” whipped cream.
>>2641360>>Cream Cheese and Chocolate Filled Puff, with black coffee side, mixed with chocolate liqueur and sweet vodka. Light, fluffy, intoxicating.
>>2641360>>Strudel with honeyed nut filling, puffy, buttery pastry each of whose layers are so thin that a love letter can be read through an individual one; sprinkled with sugar, cream optional.
>>2641360Is this a pivotal decision?
>>2641360>Chocolate Cake with Molten Ganache Center, raspberry garnish, and Ice Cream with Strawberry Syrup. Fortified Cream optional.Oh god, I'm drooling just reading the options.
>>2641678Absolutely. 4 of the options lead to Bad End.
>>2641681I figured as much. Let's go with the safe option and give her water.
>>2641360>Everything! [This is potentially a copious amount of high proof alcohol]Everyone chose a different one and I refuse to help the situation.
>>2642065I guess thats that then, were getting everything
>>2641360>>Everything! [This is potentially a copious amount of high proof alcohol]Hell, why not? Whatever is left we can give to our crew
>>2641360>Everything! [This is potentially a copious amount of high proof alcohol]
What would surprise Maddalyn more than getting an entire selection of pastries? Whether she’d be able to eat it all would be a different matter, but if she couldn’t then that would mean more for you and your crew. You hadn’t decided this with that possibility in mind, certainly not. Although the person taking your orders was quite pleased with the quantity you requested, as well as the accompanying payout, when you looked to Maddalyn she was uneasy.“That’s a lot, isn’t it?”“Yes, and?”“Er,” Maddalyn frowned, “Well, nothing, I guess.”You both sat at a booth, though Maddalyn was loathe to let go of you and sit at the seat across from yours, and you had her wait while you went to pick up the pastries; all they had to do was be arranged, after all, and when it was ready and you picked up the tray the warmth and aromas blasted you in the face; it was perplexing what ravenous hunger could be brought about by sweet things, wasn’t it? Tempting though it was to start picking at it before you went back (oh how your mother disapproved in the past), you controlled yourself. Maddalyn’s sight may have been lacking, but she wasn’t quite blind enough to not notice if you had taken bites out of something ostensibly meant as her treat. When you laid the tray before her, you had expected her to be astounded by the selection for a moment, but she followed her nose immediately to the cinnamon apple tart and picked up implements of war against it, before assaulting it with the vigor of a Yaegir veteran. She hacked off a chunk from the slice of tart, with its resplendent colors she was tragically incapable of seeing; the golden brown crust that shined, the warm caramel of roasted apples, and cinnamon spice mingled within, naturally accompanied with a dollop of the whipped cream provided in a separate dish; some style of it where it was impregnated with very strong alcohol. You dabbed a finger in it to taste, and found that the alcohol was very nearly completely hidden by the sweetness of the decadent fluff.You watched Maddalyn eat with apprehension, then some concern as she chewed and tears started to roll down her cheek. “Are you alright?” you asked.
“Yes..!” Maddalyn squeaked, closing her eyes and making a squealing noise, “It’s amazing..!”Well, that was a relief. Maddalyn resumed her attack on the tart with such force that it seemed a poor idea to go after it yourself, so instead you went after another target. The molten center chocolate cake was the one that interested you the most conceptually; you’d heard of such things, but never actually had something like it; you sliced through the center of it, and marveled at the pool of chocolate that ran out under the light cake, so dark that it was almost black, and felt the steam from it wisp about your face. What a tourist trap this city could be, if it weren’t for that it was smack in the middle of hell, you thought as you sectioned away a triangle of the cake and let it soak up some of the gooey, thick stuff at the bottom of the saucer. As could be expected, it was absolutely delectable, and you took your time on that single little bit. When you turned your attention back to Maddalyn, you were shocked to see that in that short time she had devoured nearly the whole tart; a most unusual behavior; she had been slow with the apple pie even back in Salzbrucke. What a poor dear, to be so deprived.“That was quick,” you observed dully as Maddalyn licked the crumbs off her lips and dragged her spoon around the whipped cream saucer to get every last bit of it into a final bite.“I know, but I…I just felt like I was starving,” Maddalyn pouted at you, “What’s that?” She pointed at the molten center cake, its insides pooled in a moat around it.“Chocolate cake, with molten chocolate center.” You cut out a section, “With a raspberry.” What sort of gentleman would you be if your fiancée wasn’t the one who got the garnish? “Open wide.”Maddalyn looked as though she’d object, but she went through with it and closed her eye, opening her mouth. You took the piece of cake…and poked her in the cheek with it.“Ah!” She recoiled, “You did that on purpose!” Having figured you out, she snapped for the cake like a viper, and caught it. Her reaction wasn’t as intense as it had been to the apple tart, but she still signaled her approval in a sharp, short scratchy squeaking sound, which combined with the chocolate smear on her cheek was so precious that it near gave you a headache. “That has more of that wonderful cream, doesn’t it?” she pointed a fork to the dish, one of the many that had accompanied each dish save for the cream cheese puff, “Give!”
She then proceeded to lay waste to the cake, though you managed to get more of it before abandoning that particular position to the red headed menace, and moving on to the cream cheese puff. The main appeal there, you quickly learned upon getting a bite of it, was the sweetened cream cheese; everything else was there to merely support it. Damn, that was good; dangerously so, since it had a mass to it that triggered some instinct to shovel more into your mouth, to just consume the whole damn creampuff and burst it apart in your teeth, but restraint was the order of the day. Until Maddalyn got to it, but you’d had enough to satisfy yourself, getting on to the Strudel. You were fond of sweet nut cake, and your feelings towards this were no different; it was a nice thing to finish off on, being of a mild and calming sort of dessert. It didn’t attack the senses like the chocolate, nor did it have the mystery of being both light and heavy as the puff; it was the pastry equivalent of a relaxing walk in the evening.“Is this coffee?” Maddalyn sniffed at the dainty glass of coffee liqueur and cream, no doubt with black coffee in it. You hadn’t touched it, for your disgust at even a hint of nasty bean juice. You didn’t know Maddalyn’s opinion on it. When you nodded, she took a sip at it and her face wrenched up. Evidently, she was no more fond of coffee taste than you were, but she looked back at you, and downed the whole thing, coughing afterwards. Since she’d been cleaning out the whipped cream dishes, that was…how much alcohol that was going to hit her like a truck? Oh well. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as it could be, given the amount of food she was downing; considering her portions every other time you’d seen her eat, this was really surprising; or perhaps she was just making up for those. Naturally, after that, you were forced to let her have at the strudel.The assembly of sweets you had procured had been thoroughly sacked by your fiancée, who was now making cute little groaning sounds. “I think I ate too much…” she whined.“Well, yes, and it was all sugary stuff. Alcoholic too.”“It was worth it,” Maddalyn defended herself. You helped her up, and removed the chocolate stain on her cheek with a slow, passionate kiss. “Riichterr, not with people around…” Maddalyn complained, though none of the few people in the place were watching in the slightest. Though when you were done, Maddalyn kissed you back on the cheek as well; you were left with a resounding sense of accomplishment at a mission well done.
The alcohol hit Maddalyn like an armor piercing shell as you were continuing on your way back to the platoon’s camp; her walking became unsteady, then devolved into a stagger, and she began to giggle for seemingly no reason while she clung to your arm.“Richter, Richter,” she said excitedly, her voice slurring at the end, “I think I’m druuuunk, hee hee.” This was about the third time she had said this. “Kiss me, kiss me!” She stood on her toes and nearly toppled over, and after she caught your sleeve with a yelp, she started laughing uncontrollably. Perhaps you’d made a mistake.“Aren’cha gonna carry me?” Maddalyn kept bugging you, “Come on, come on.”With a heavy sigh you lifter her up, and she giggled some more.“Richter, Richter, put your hand over, everyone can see my panties,” She looked at you with an open smile, “That’s not right, you’re the only one who gets to see them. Come on, kiss me.”You gave her a light peck, though you felt that this was almost certainly exploitative. Admittedly this was probably better than Maddalyn getting all morose like Signy did. Maddalyn was satisfied with this, and retreated within the cradle of your arms humming what seemed like several songs blended together haphazardly.-----“Wheee~!” Maddalyn sang as you let her down, having reached the camp; as soon as she stood on her feat, she took a single step and fell flat on her face. “Oof!”“What in the hell?” Stein looked over and instinctively rushed to help Maddalyn up, “What…it’s not even evening yet, what are you..?” “Ricchterr got me druuunk…~” Maddalyn sang, “He’s taking advantage of meeee..!”Stein looked at you and you responded with a glare. “Devilish lies,” you said. “The mechanics, have they made progress? What about their head mechanic and Hans, have they returned at all?”Stein passed Maddy back to you, shaking his head. “No, I’m afraid not. It sort of…makes me mad, you know? Karla’s my sister, Hans is just…whatever.” He rolled his eyes. “What’ve you been up to?”You shortly explained the situation with the Blue Barbs and the hostages. “I’ve done what they wanted,” you finished, “I’m about ready for them to do their part of the deal.”“I see,” Stein said, “So are we going to go and get them, or are they getting them to us?”>You’d go to the Blue Barbs and get the kids back yourself; just in case, you’d go ready for a fight, with your people and what vehicles and weapons you could scrounge.>The Blue Barbs would probably keep their end of the deal; you could wait for them to be ready, and it wouldn’t risk alarming them.>Go to the Blue Barbs and take back the hostages, citing you having done them their requested favor, but go with only a few people; there wasn’t any reason they’d fight this.>Other?
>>2642886>>The Blue Barbs would probably keep their end of the deal; you could wait for them to be ready, and it wouldn’t risk alarming them.
>>2642886>The Blue Barbs would probably keep their end of the deal; you could wait for them to be ready, and it wouldn’t risk alarming them.In many ways they are more eager to hear from us and then we are from them. If they don't bring the kids then we cross that bridge when we get to it. Might as well warn the camp though to be on their guard.
“We’ll let them come to us,” you told Stein, “Go and tell Honnrieg and the rest of the platoon about that too. I want to be ready to receive them, even though I don’t think they’ll try anything funny. Maddy, please.” That last bit was because Maddalyn, in her intoxicated fit, was ignoring that you were trying to get things done and was tugging at your arm insistently. A few more tugs were tolerated before you threw Maddalyn up over your shoulder. “So how have you been?” you asked, to start passing the time.-----Maddalyn continued to bubble and make strange asides while you chatted with Stein; when pressed on the subject of his sibling, he made it clear that he’d rather not speak much on it, so you instead listened to him rant on the supernatural. Maddalyn shared little bits of her knowledge on such things, but often in singsong and barely coherent ways, and squirming on your shoulder. After one particularly nonsensical outburst, Stein felt the need to ask about it.“How hammered did you get her, Commander? She’s out of her gourd.”“The sweets shop serves rather good alcohol infused whipped cream. High proof stuff.”“How much did she have?” Stein still seemed skeptical.“Three saucers of the stuff,” you illustrated the size of the piles with your finger and thumb, “About this high, and a glass of some mixed drink with liqueur and sweet vodka.”“Judge above. No wonder, she’s so small that I’m not sure how she hasn’t fainted.”“Well,” you tightened your grip as Maddalyn threatened to wriggle off again, “She’s happy, at least.”“Hold me the other way, I don’t like thiiis,” Maddalyn kvetched nasally, “D’you know how to dance? I wanna daaance.”“No, I don’t.”“Aaawww…”“Not like she’d know or care right now anyways, commander,” Stein said. “Spin her around.” “Spin, spin!” Maddalyn squealed. When you responded with nothing but a heavy, gravelly sigh, she started hitting you sharply on the back. “Come on, come on!....Wheeeeee!”
“Bllaaaaarrghhfff…” You held Maddalyn’s hair out of the way as she pitched over against the m/28 and threw up all over the place. When you felt like you were doing the stupidest thing you had done that day, you hadn’t realized quite how dumb it was. Hopefully some of that teatime splurge would stay down in Maddalyn, you thought bitterly as the little dear coughed harshly, before burping and groaning.“I-I think I don’t wanna spin anymooore…” she moaned. She looked up at you wearily, “I wanna kiss.”“…No,” you had to take a moment, the suggestion and then the thought of doing that at this moment had struck you dumb.“Why nooooot?” Maddalyn whined, sticking her lip out, “Don’t you love meee?” Dear Judge on High, may the sins you committed be weighed against dealing with this. >Maddy, you just vomited. I’d rather keep the food from that place down, thank you.>Screw it. Time to take one for the team.>Urge patience while you went and found a canteen to rinse her mouth with.>Put her in a tank and have her sleep this off; this was getting tiring.>Other?
>>2643602>>Urge patience while you went and found a canteen to rinse her mouth with
>>2643602>Screw it. Time to take one for the teamA light peck like what sated her last time.
>>2643602>Urge patience while you went and found a canteen to rinse her mouth with.Indulging her will just give her free license to keep trying to kiss us full on the mouth.
>>2642871>>2642875I'm drooling so much I'm getting dehydrated.>>2643602>Put her in a tank and have her sleep this off; this was getting tiring.
>>2643602>Your face is full of vomit, so I think not
“Fine, fine, just wait,” you blew Maddalyn off for the moment; maybe you could find a canteen full of water to at least wash her mouth out; the idea of locking lips with her otherwise was…well, if was till your fiancée, and it wasn’t like she had suddenly turned into a rotting corpse, but, you had plenty reason to not want to combine intimacy and bile.“I don’t wanna,” Maddalyn clang to you, “Where are you gooiing?”“You need to rinse your mouth out.”“I’m not cuuurrsiiing,” Maddalyn babbled, “Come oonnn…”After what was a longer time searching than Maddalyn tolerated, judging from how much she was complaining about not receiving attention, some unfortunate soul’s metal canteen was acquired from an unattended pile of belongings. You made certain that it was water, before giving it to Maddalyn. She was directed to swish it about, and her cheeks were puffed up with water.“Mhhmmmnnnmm,” she…said?“You’ve already vomited on a tank, I don’t think anybody will mind if they see you spit.”“Mnnn-Nnnmhmm Mmm nnm.”“I might need Malachi to translate that one”“Mmmnnnmnn.”You gave Maddy a sharp blow on the back and she finally spat.“Meanie,” she sniffed at you, before reaching up to your shoulders and launching herself up, driving her head right into yours. With a yelp as your skulls knocked off each other, she fell down on her rear and rubbed her head, cringing. You almost fell down yourself; you were of the mind that your brains had landed somewhere behind you.
“Owww…” Maddalyn whined as you pulled her back up, “I’m sorrryy…”“It’s alright.” You grabbed her around her waist and raised her up, and gave her a light kiss on her lips. To your relief, no funny tastes were present.Maddalyn made a pouty face at you. “That was onlya little ooone. Do the loonger onnne, with the tongue stuff. I’ll do somethin’ for youuu tooo.” Maddalyn did her best to flutter her eyelashes, though with an eyepatch it didn’t work as well.“Something? What something?” You weren’t even sure why you were asking.Maddalyn entered a state of deep thought as her addled mind struggled to breach the foggy bank of inebriation, her face twisting and her head turning side to side as mucked up gears did their best to work out the puzzle. “I dunnooo. Somethin’.” Tragically, her mind failed to properly pull itself back together, though it returned to its former tack. “Tell me laterrr, kiss meeee…”“Out here? With everybody watching?”“Nooo, in theerre,” she pointed to a tank; a lone m/32 that wasn’t being labored on for the time being. When it was investigated, it was empty; it would do. You seated yourself on the familiar position of the commander’s seat, Maddalyn straddling your lap; she pressed herself into you, expectantly, and nibbled on your neck until you pushed her chin back up. She stared wide eyed, and seemed to wait for you. It felt wrong to do, but…well, even if she wasn’t wretchedly drunk, she’d be fine with this, no? So you bit onto her lower lip as a prelude to a full on kiss. Maddalyn was more excitable than usual, judging from the quantity of drool that she began dumping on you near immediately. She had coated your mouth and chin with a distracting amount of spit, gradually growing more and more limp over the course of a minute until she rested on your shoulder, now dribbling onto your jacket. A slight spark of offense ran through you; had you just been used?
Maddalyn had thoroughly slimed you this time; you had left her to snooze in the tank, but her spit was still dripping off you in a most unpleasant way; you didn’t know how to feel about her usual drooling, but this was most definitely over a line. You wiped your face on your sleeve and afterwards your wrist felt like you’d slipped into a puddle- at least there was no vomit. Maddy would certainly be held to account for her promise of a later favor though.A series of brief inspections, chit chat, and overviews of who was where and who could be assembled to put on a strong front later, the Blue Barbs delegation finally came; there was only about three of them, and though your whole platoon wasn’t around, there was still a good dozen and a half of you; it would have been a good number if a threat came, but there was no indication of one; the four were followed by ten, the missing child hostages, all of varying age, but none seeming to have been harmed. A few even looked wistful.“You uh…” the lead thug looked at you and squinted, “The Kommandant guy?” You answered that you were. “Aye, kay, these are the kids you wanted. Hiya hiya says she brought it up right away, good work’n all dat.” He looked over his shoulder to the train of youths, “Hey, we’re here. Get lost. I don’ wanna herd you lot anymore.”“Thanks for taking care of us, Papa Bear!” a younger one cried out, with a few others agreeing.“Don’ call me dat!” he shouted back, “Dumbass kids.” He went off with his fellows, scratching his rear as they all trundled off. Making sure to give Glockenblume’s gangsters an appropriate glare until they were gone, you cleared your throat, put your hands behind your back, and prepared to announce yourself and your intents, your mission, now that it was finally, finally on the verge of completion.“Good afternoon. I am Lieutenant Von Tracht of the Archduke’s Royal Army. My men and I have come to retrieve you, as well as many of your countrymen. Perhaps your parents, relatives. The Archduke never abandoned you, and I am here as proof.”“You’re a Panzerritter?” A boy around eleven years old asked in amazement, presumably taking into account the numerous pieces of Strossvald armor among you. Fascination that genuinely touched you…but you weren’t. That was a special title bestowed upon tank commanders of the elite Silver Lances division, and not for just any officer with a panzer under them.>How perceptive of you. Of course I am, anybody else would have struggled to get here.>I’m afraid not. I’m just a humble officer, though any man of the Archuduchy is worth ten of any other place’s, and don’t you forget it.>No, you weren’t here to talk to children. Have Bat Company take them away.>Other?
>>2644172>I’m afraid not. I’m just a humble officer, though any man of the Archuduchy is worth ten of any other place’s, and don’t you forget it.
>>2644172>>I’m afraid not. I’m just a humble officer, though any man of the Archduchy is worth ten of any other place’s, and don’t you forget it.
As much as you could slide the truth and anticipate a (hopeful) promotion for the sake of impressing children, you weren’t going to do that. Besides, there was more than a bit of pride at having done this despite being what could be called an ordinary officer; well, as ordinary as one could be while having gone on this trek.“I’m afraid not,” you said, “I’m just a humble officer, though any man of the Archduchy is worth ten of any other place’s, and don’t you forget it.”“Oh.” The boy said, in the sort of unintentionally dismissive way only a child could, that stung in its own way. “The other people who got us out had really good food. Do you have good food?”The other people who got them out. Bah. “We have rations. It’s all we’re able to get for as many people as we need to feed, so they’ll have to do. You’ll only have to tolerate them for a little before you go home.”The children looked at one another, even the youngest of them who was around six, if that, and made disappointed sounds. It was pretty difficult to feel like a hero, you thought as you told them to follow you and you led them towards their fellow liberated Strossvalders, when they thought their potential abductors were their saviors and they likely looked at their current guardian as little more than a petty noble with bad food. The armed forces tended to be admired in Strossvald, certainly, but you’d been a child once as well and you knew from experience that the merely normal were easily forgettable when the elite were the household names and parade centerpieces.Maybe you should have borrowed the Pilot’s jacket Signy was wearing. The lower classes were quite fond of pilots, especially children; and women. In any case, you weren’t too concerned; the record would be set straight in due time, especially upon your triumphant return.Though if your return wasn’t so triumphant, you felt a tingle in the back of your mind, all you really were was some unappreciated chaff.
Along the way, the kids’ names were found out, and upon reaching the camp, and though you expected to have a quick consultation with the attending Bat Company members (as well as some 1st Battalion Republic Troopers who had wandered back and been pressed into this duty), word had spread to the camp quite quickly that the children were coming back, and you recognized that the majority of waiting guardians were those who had been marked as undesirables; people who had aligned themselves with their captors. Eight of the children went quickly over to them, though when they cleared, three were left standing on their own; the other two having wandered into the “loyal” part of camp, separated from the other smaller part. They looked all around, only tottering a few steps in each direction before going back, as though confused. A Bat company man collected their names, went back to check their roster, and when he came back quickly he tapped you on the shoulder and pulled you aside.“Lieutenant,” he murmured, “These kid’s parents…well, their mums, one of their dads, I think, if the names’re right. They were among the ones who got killed. What do we do?”>They’ll find out eventually, the best thing to do was to tell them everything as soon as possible.>Arrange for them to be cared for by other prisoners; they’d be plenty familiar with each other, you wagered, and better able to deal with this.>Have the soldiers take them aside and give them some false assurances; they didn’t need to hear this sort of bad news right now.>Other?
>>2644605>Arrange for them to be cared for by other prisoners; they’d be plenty familiar with each other, you wagered, and better able to deal with this.>Choose the prisoners not outright hostile to the "traitors"
>>2644172>>I’m afraid not. I’m just a humble officer, though any man of the Archuduchy is worth ten of any other place’s, and don’t you forget it.Don't have to have a fancy title to be a hero young man.
>>2644638Late again. Supporting.
>>2644605Well worst case, if they don’t have any family left in Strossvald and no one can take them in, I guess Richter’s gonna be a daddy sooner than expected...In the meantime:>Tell them we’re still searching for their parents and won’t give up, they need some time to adjust and settle before we break the news. Maybe arrange for their parents’ remains to accompany us home or at least have a proper burial.>Distract them from their worry, spin them a tale of our journey here, the battle, and the brave men and women who came here to rescue them.>Arrange for them to be cared for by other prisoners; they’d be plenty familiar with each other, you wagered, and better able to deal with this.Plus this >>2644638
>>2644605>>Arrange for them to be cared for by other prisoners; they’d be plenty familiar with each other, you wagered, and better able to deal with this.>Try to find relatives or friends of the deceased, or perhaps old neighbors.Man, Richter has no clue how to treat kids. Did we properly investigate the deaths so we know they were killed as combatants and not by the other hostages?
>>2644808>Did we properly investigate the deaths so we know they were killed as combatants and not by the other hostages?They happened in the city during the fighting, yes. The two factions of hostages, despite ill intentions and some scuffling, have not actually turned upon each other and caused lasting damage. Any and all fatalities took place during the events in Todesfelsen.
>>2644816Alright, that's good then.Well, if we must, we should spin it so that they took up arms for our allied faction. They shouldn't be remembered as selfish turncoats or worse
“See if you can find any relatives, friends, old neighbors, people who will be willing to take care of them,” you instructed the Bat Company enlisted man, “See if you can select for people without particular animosity to the collaborators.”“Er, about that,”“Surely the bad feelings aren’t that widespread.”“No no, Lieutenant, that’s not it, it’s more that,” he leaned in closer to you, “All these people aren’t from one place. They’re from here, there…well, everywhere. Me and a few others asked about places, and at first we didn’t know ‘em, who knows every little town, right, but when we started asking about what big cities were close, they’re from a whole lot of places, and they didn’t all go to one place and get nabbed there, either.”“So that means hardly anybody knows one another, right? That’s a pain.” It wasn’t as much a surprise as it could have been; when Selgess broadcasted that first fateful message, he did mention that he’d collected the hostages from a variety of places; and even with people from the same places, cities were large, and who could say they’d ever met?“I’ll ask anyways. Don’t get your hopes up, though.”You were left with the trio of now-orphans. Or at least, potentially. Not feeling up to simply heading off and letting them alone, you decided to speak with them, and find out about their relatives from them. To your relief, one of the three did have relatives back at home, a parent that had avoided being captured; the others though, a pair of young boys, did not. You wouldn’t be the one to tell them the bad news, you decided, but you would at least try and distract them from worry in the meantime, while your subordinate gathered information.What better thing to do for children than to tell a story of your exploits? Vain, perhaps, but you believed a younger you would have found it interesting even if it hadn’t happened to your person. After asking them if they wanted to hear (they didn’t say yes or no, but seemed to accept by sitting down and looking at you dumbly), you launched into an abridged tale of your mission, and how it had gone. Grislier details and things that might have been too political or top secret, or in the case of things concerning Soulbinders, restricted knowledge that was better off not spread. The mention of giant crustaceans, especially the monolithic giant you’d encountered that had eaten one of your trucks, fascinated them much more than your masterful ambush at the pass, unfortunately. They continued asking about the massive Living Stone, and you were thankful that experience with nature let you theorize and guess enough to sound like you knew what you were talking about.
What you had planned to be a chronicle of your journey quickly turned into a discussion on giant land crabs, though it was for the sake of the children. It endured until the Bat Company man returned, and you were only slightly disappointed that you had never gotten into the part of the story where you led the 1st Armor Battalion into battle and beat down the Death Heads in the dust storm.“Lieutenant.” The light rifleman saluted. “I found a few who’ll take care of them.”“Great,” you stood up, and gestured to the three kids, “Go on then, we can’t let you just wander around by yourselves.” A few protests that they were plenty old enough came out, but they were all scooped up by the impatient soldier and carted away. You next went to see Captain Honnrieg, to ask him a question concerning your fallen countrymen. One of Bat Company had died, and they were safely interned, but you wanted to ask about the others.“We have who we could find, Lieutenant,” Honnrieg told you in dreary manner, “That city’s chock full of corpses, and if you were on the losing side you were getting dumped in a deep ditch with a few dozen others. We prioritized finding the people who were still alive, I don’t think we could find any missing remains, sorry to say.”It was a sad end for countrymen, to be laid in the dirt with a crowd, let alone among those who shared neither their blood nor their homeland. Yet you did have some people; mostly the bodies of those who had been violated before being murdered. It had been difficult to get outside help with the remains, too; this was a land of people who had discarded their pasts, and most who perished were buried in shallow graves with the barest of markings, if at all. To die forgotten had been a way of life here; but these were people of the Archduchy, and they deserved better.Would it be different if you arrived sooner, you wondered, perhaps if you tried going about this differently? Ah, but there was the realm of the unknown possibilities, a place you’d rather not visit at this juncture, when you should be only celebrating victory and preparing to finally return home.
On that subject, though. You planned to stay at least an extra day here with your men, since repairs had been delayed so, and you had a few other lingering things to take care of too, but did the other hostages have to stay? With newly found peace, there was materiel to transport all of them back to Strossvald, perhaps even within the day and the early evening; should you hasten preparations for that, now that the children had been retrieved, and send them all home ahead of you?>They would not be kept away from the fatherland any longer; have plans for them to be sent home begin immediately, and have them moving as soon as they can.>No need to be too hasty; merely have them moved close to the border, to Rostig, for example.>These hostages were your ticket back in; could you risk being separated from them and then being denied entry? >Other?(Doubt incurs potential harm to trance integrity)
>>2645500>>These hostages were your ticket back in; could you risk being separated from them and then being denied entry?Let's all go together; I don't want to risk them being jumped by anyone on the way back plus Wossehnhalia's probably the nicest place in the Republic to be right now.
>>2645517Supporting, its a matter of protecting them LT. No doubts at all here, no sir. Though, Selgess and his motorcycle don't seem the type for mass kidnappings across a developed nation, not without adequate support anyway. Couple that with the truck and we have at least a mole in Intelligence, if not a plot. They were super helpful in committing the first strike of the recent war as well, while supplying intel that pointed to a buildup of troops and preparations for war where we found none. I mean, this is all based on memory and could be faulty but all is unfortunately not good in the neighborhood.
>>2645500>>These hostages were your ticket back in; could you risk being separated from them and then being denied entry?>[Doubt intensifies]
>>2645946Actually that reminds me, when we have a moment I'd like to ask Honnrieg a bit more about what he knows about the whole mind control process, since we dismissed it as bullshit at first but have increasingly good reason to reconsider. Who runs the program, and for how long? Did we go into it voluntarily or did they force it on us? Can people go on to live normal lives afterwards or are they doomed to stay in military service until they die foolishly in battle?
>>2645500>these hostages were your ticket back in; could you risk being separated from them and then being denied entry?We need to break the conditioning sooner or later.
Rolled 9 (1d10)Thinking about it, you needed these hostages as much as they needed you, didn’t they? After all, without them, how could you bargain your way back in?Pain. A subtle, indescribable sort of burning, like something inside was taking the inside of your head and pulling it apart in all directions. No, part of you said, as it tried to puzzle out…nothing.No, it was a matter of them still needing you. It would be irresponsible to let them away without the full force of what strength you had left. Mere logic, simple, basic strategy. It would be foolish to let a piece of the mission so vulnerable come under risk if you could help it. The tension lessened- then went away. It still felt as though something had left, somehow, but it was only a slight dizziness; you were alright, whatever had happened.1d10 Trance Integrity Damage, reduced due to positive rationalization.
More time having everybody still also meant more time going over how things would happen, too; The Republic had the fortune of sharing a minute border with Strossvald, so that was the easy way in; even though such was not within Von Holtenberg’s territory and thus you’d find few friends there of Bat Company, but you’d figure something out. Bat Company and the 3rd Holtenberger Light Rifles…it felt like you’d been together for forever, yet telling the story of your journey (at least, part of it) to the children had taken you back to those early days of your relationship, when Honnrieg thought of you as nothing but a rookie of little note besides your name, and when Bat Company’s fighters were coming up with names for you such as Big Brother and Veal Pounder. Something else was tickling your memory, though; something that didn’t seem important back then, but felt like, maybe, it had become so. Something to do with shellshock prevention, hypnosis, treatment-A wall. All you remembered was a phrase from one of Honnrieg’s men, one who hadn’t been part of the picked men taken for the trip. Some combat engineer called Wies, you think, but besides one thing, what the strange-speaking man had said had slipped away from memory, completely melted away, as though it were a memory of what the water in your canteen had tasted like a week ago.“Now you know, you try to remember. Do not. Risk increased one hundredfold due to your knowledge. Do not try to remember. Do not think about what it could have been. Definitely do not look into mirror and look for funny things in eyes. Or you relapse and you are useless.”Could you help but feel suddenly curious? Or perhaps, this was better left untouched. You had forgotten all this for a reason, presumably; you recalled that at the time, whatever it was seemed like complete nonsense. Maybe that’s what it was anyways.>Honnrieg knew about whatever this was, you could ask him further on this. You had to know at least a few things.>What little you recalled was a mix of suspicious and foreboding; best to leave such things lie, no matter what they might be.>Try harder to remember, even though it feels like something is blocking the way. Forgetting something so significant just wasn’t right.>Other?>>2645956Going into such detail so quickly might be dangerous, but, if you want to go full on or gradual is your choice. Just bear in mind whether you want to jump into the stream of unknown or tiptoe into it.
>>2646027>Other: Write it down in several places to remind us to look into it later.This "you relapse and you are useles" stuff feels too dangerous to try right now. But not doing anything at all feels wrong.
>>2646027Supporting >>2646059Make a mental note to ask Fie or Poltergeist about magical miracle headache cures
>>2646059Works for me. We can ask the right people in a safer place.
Curiosity felt justified, but what little you recalled was too ominous to want to probe at the moment; especially what with the “becoming useless” part. This mission wasn’t quite over yet, after all; but you did decide to write reminders to yourself, in case you weren’t just being forgetful, and something else was happening.It was nothing, you wanting to say to yourself, but you couldn’t accept that answer, not when you’d seen all manner of ghosts and wizards and bizarre geographical phenomena, something told you that this wasn’t nothing- come to think of it, could it be a result of some supernatural creature or thing? The question of why it would be that, or why it would happen to you, was irrelevant at the moment. For now, you contented yourself with the easy solution; you simply didn’t know yet, and would find out later.The funny headaches were another thing. Maybe you could ask about mystical headache cures the next time you saw Poltergeist, whenever that was. Or Fie, perhaps, if she knew of anything in particular. Maybe Blackflower would help, since you still had some of that, but with Maddalyn back around you had to be careful when you put that in your mouth. Come to think of it, what would happen if Maddalyn got drunk, and then was exposed to blackflower? The most likely scenario was that she’d spontaneously combust.All your business had been taken care of at this point; all there was to be done was to wait for the Iron Hogs mechanics to do their work, and for Smitty to finish whatever she was up to and finally get back. The engine that she was generously using to replace what was in your m/32B, stashed in the back of a truck that you were allowed to look inside briefly, looked like something that belonged in a racecar. It had the bulk and mass of a tank engine, and it was unmistakably built on top of what had been an m/32 engine, but Smitty had made several changes that you could see right away, though you weren’t sure what exactly said changes were. It was uncharacteristically charitable for a mercenary to hand over what looked like a carefully customized piece of equipment as part of a favor, but hey, you had convinced Hans to actually see her. Maybe he was worth that much to her.
Alas, despite your poking and prodding, you were told that work on it wouldn’t begin until Smitty got back, and when you tried to explain that perhaps they could at least lower the piece in, you were roughly told to stop bothering them. Evidently knowledge of your lineage didn’t spread further than the leadership. So, you had to idle away the time checking to make sure Maddalyn was still fine, watching the rest of 1st Battalion finally come back from whatever benders they’d embarked upon, and making frequent visits to the camp of rescued citizens. Despite not much happening, it was a lot of walking around, and time flew by in the way it does when one is constantly occupied with a list of renewing tasks, until the sun began to set and just when you thought that Smitty would never return, she did, tugging Hans behind her, who was staggering about like his legs were made of jelly.“Hey, boss guy,” she addressed you first; you noticed that her hair was shorter; her ponytail and side locks were gone, and what was left was a wavy blonde bob. “I’m finished with your stud. Getting’ to work now, thanks.” She embraced Hans again, and planted a kiss on his forehead, “Come around again in another few years, cuddle bear.” She passed the limp radioman to you and traipsed off towards your tank.Hans was beaten like an Emrean War veteran, and dazed like he was in shellshock. He was set down on the ground, and laid against a crate like a doll. You called out to him, and he didn’t answer, but a poke in the face got him responding.“What, what? Oh. Hey boss.”“What on earth was taking so long?” you demanded, “You’ve been gone the whole day!”“Karla had…a lot of catching up to do. I can’t tell you the details in polite conversation, but uh, let’s just say,” Hans pointed down to his groin, “I’m outta ammunition, barrel’s red hot and steaming. I’m not complainin’, see, but if you looked in my ballsack you’d find a pair of raisins.”What a crass remark. “So she’s fine with you leaving, after all that? I was under the impression-““Boss, boss,” Hans waved his hand back and forth, “Of course she’s still got it in her head, after all this time, that I’ve come to stay. But I told her that I’ve still got a lot to take care of, and she was fine with it. You know, after, yeah don’t gimme that look, I was gonna put it nicely.>Well, I’m glad to see you’ve returned to the frontlines, such as they are.>I think your…whatever she is, is favoring us with new equipment because of you. I’ll arrange for recognition of your sacrifice for the good of the mission when we get back.>You know, you’re allowed to stay here, if you want. I intend to return, but if you really don’t want to, then I won’t drag you.>Other
>>2647316>Well, I’m glad to see you’ve returned to the frontlines, such as they are.If the man really values his mission over Smitty then us offering him to stay is a waste of time. He's already made up his mind and she's made peace with him leaving.>OtherTry the Blackflower tonight, sleep somewhere other else than with Maddy. When she inevitably gets pissed about this, claim Wizard Shenanigans.Who knows, maybe the Trance actually does have a magical component? We've certainly seen mind control already.
>>2647316>>You know, you’re allowed to stay here, if you want. I intend to return, but if you really don’t want to, then I won’t drag you.
>>2647316>>Well, I’m glad to see you’ve returned to the frontlines, such as they are.
>>2647316>You know, you’re allowed to stay here, if you want. I intend to return, but if you really don’t want to, then I won’t drag you.>I'll declare you MIA so that there's no issues on the legal front.
“You know,” you said furtively to Hans, “If you really want to, you can stay around here. I intend to return to Strossvald, but if you have good reason…” you tried to smirk at him, “two big fat reasons to stay here, I won’t drag you along with me. You won’t be a criminal, or a deserter, just missing in action.”Hans gave you a look like you were telling some sort of joke. “Oh, you’re serious? Boss, come on. I didn’t sign up to desert for real.”“You’re going to leave that woman behind again?”“Boss, you gotta understand something about Karla,” he leaned in closer, “She’s real fine. Real talented. But she’s got a few screws loose when it comes to people other than herself. Normal girls don’t run away from home to become gearheads for a bunch of mercs in godforsaken Sosaldt, you know? She didn’t care about what her family wanted, and she didn’t care what I wanted. Trust me boss, I know how bad she wants me, I got told the most direct, straight-to-the-point way a person can, but I don’t exist just to be her sweetheart. I didn’t try and keep her home, and I’m not going to stick with her without thinkin’ of myself. I’ve got things I want to do other than screw her silly, believe it or not.” Hans pulled a cigarette and a match from his pocket, and struck the match off the crate behind him. “’Sides, if you don’t got me to take care of your radio and crew, you won’t understand what Mal’s sayin’, Stein’ll be lonely, and you’ll probably be forced to make the Princess to take my place, and that won’t do, will it?”“We have spare crewmen,” you pointed out. “Harsh.” Hans grinned, lighting his cigarette, “Nah, I get what you meant. How’s the Princess doing anyways?”“I took her to a pastry place. She got drunk off of whipped cream with booze in it, and she passed out in that tank over there.”“Sly dog. You get her to do anything before that? No? Don’t frown, I’m havin’ a laugh. Anyways.” Hans shifted in place and blew smoke out his nose, “I might consider that treasonous offer you made, but not ‘cause of Karla. Remember when we talked about how we could get the short end of a stick we don’t even know about? You were all confident that we would just waltz right back in. If we’re not real sure of how things’ll go, probably better to stay here. I talked with some other crews, some guys who’ve been around a while, guys from Grumpus and Stache’s tanks. That was some seriously weird business in the Blumlands, and I’m just saying, sending us out here would have been a good way of getting us out of the way if the somebody who was up to something was real high up, you know?”Not long ago you would have dismissed such a claim as ridiculous speculation, but hearing it now, you had the odd inkling of agreement…
“I ain’t saying don’t ever go home again or anything like that,” Hans gesticulated at you with his burning twist of tobacco and paper, “I’m just sayin’, before we get too hasty, might be a good idea to look at the other players and see if they’re makin’ faces like they’re ready to lay down a royal flush. You get?”“I get.” You waved smoke away from your face.“Aight. Just saying something’s up, and we ought to make sure we’re dealing with the up, instead of being what’s up.” Hans took a drag on his cigarette, then held it out to you. “Really boss, you’ve been lookin’ out of sorts today. If you don’t want to have your honey do anything to you, or have somebody else do somethin’ to you, I dunno, a few smokes won’t hurt.”“I’ll be fine,” you said, though not in a dismissive manner, as you got up. “I just want to be sure of what you want.”“Back at you, chief.” Hans flashed a toothy, uneven smile at you.-----Some time later, after the sun had gone down and the space where the Iron Hogs were working was now lit up with bright floodlamps, Maddalyn finally woke up. The hatch of the turret opened up, and Maddalyn tumbled out, yelping as she tripped over the lip of the door and fell flat on her back while you were too far away to have arrested her fall.“Are you alright?” you asked as you ran up and knelt by her.“W-where am I?” she asked shakily, “I don’t remember anything…we were walking out of that place, and then…”“You’re really different when you’re drunk,” you told Maddalyn.“Ugh…I didn’t embarrass myself, did I?”“…No.” Nothing that anybody would tell her, and you made sure of that. “It’s almost time for evening victuals. Are you feeling well?”
“I feel nauseous, and my head’s about to split open,” Maddalyn whined as she reached her hands up towards you, “Can you help me up?” Of course you could, though you acted instead of saying anything. Maddalyn swayed to and fro, before catching her balance by clinging onto you. “Thank you…You said it was almost time to eat? If it isn’t too much trouble…” she pushed her head against your shoulder, “Do you mind if we go somewhere? I don’t mean to impose, but…well, I want to spend more time with you.” She said this as if it wasn’t something normal for her to want, or like she was asking a favor that wouldn’t normally be granted.Going out somewhere extravagant wasn’t out of the question; you did have plenty of money, both what you had accumulated as well as leftover from the deal with Lord Wossehn in paying for the Riverman’s debts. To be honest, if you converted to Strossmarks, it was likely the most money you’d ever possessed yourself, ever.>Would you be alright with staying around here? You should spend more time with the crews, as well. My friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though.>Of course we can go somewhere, as long as you drink responsibly. (Ideas?)>Now that Maddalyn had sobered up, what was there to do but get her completely wasted again? Would make the later evening more fun.>Other?Also anything else you want to take care of while still in town, since the morning after will probably be turning and burning besides a few things.>>2647409I'll put an option for your idea later, when it's bedtime for Mads.
>>2649380>>Would you be alright with staying around here? You should spend more time with the crews, as well. My friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though.
>>2649380>Would you be alright with staying around here? You should spend more time with the crews, as well. My friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though.Were a goddamn panzer officer of Strossvald and we just took on an entire city. Fuck this self doubting shit, were proud officers and were gonna get celebrate with our comrades, and sing the Panzerlied (Strossvald Version)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0evkEmgBgx0I dont expect you to actually have an entire song mapped out Tanq.
>>2649380>>Would you be alright with staying around here? You should spend more time with the crews, as well. My friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though
>>2649380>Would you be alright with staying around here? You should spend more time with the crews, as well. My friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though.
“Would you be alright with staying around here?” You asked Maddalyn, “You should spend more time with the crews as well, my friends can be your friends and all that. All we’re serving here is canned bread and stew, though.” Maddalyn sighed, but relented. “That will be fine…though I don’t think I’m good company.”“I’m sure you’ll do fine.” Mostly because Maddalyn would be the only woman in attendance; she wouldn’t have any odd rivalries brewing from nothing.The stew evidently being made out of “whatever could be found.” The crewman who’d volunteered to get it ready were part of Von Walen’s, and they had been cagey about actually identifying what it would be until they’d actually found the ingredients, apparently. They argued that it would be frugal while also being a better alternative to the usual rations of hard bread and spiced…you weren’t sure if it was sauce or some sort of vegetable compote. Either way, it had such varying favorability among the troops that most in the platoon were curious of practically anything else. You had plenty of money to share had the men wanted to go into town to get anything…but soldiers of Strossvald were stern of heart enough to not trouble their leaders over such petty things. Though you would have given had they asked; you had the equivalent of a few months of a common enlisted’s wages in your possession in the common currency.Sosaldt wasn’t particularly thick with trees, with most vegetation being rather scrubby, thin, and short, so no fires abounded from foraged wood. Instead, men huddled around lanterns, wrapping whatever they could around them in this cold autumn night. It was around November, wasn’t it? You hadn’t been keeping track. Either way, in some places, it would be snowing soon. It might snow in a few weeks back home. Eventually, a fire was started, and all the crews and officers alike were united by the draw of a warm fire, though the fuel was…unorthodox.“Is that demolition explosives burning there?” Von Igel asked nervously.“Aye, got it from one’a them White Eye guys,” a crewman said loudly, one from Krause’s tank, with some plasters stuck on his face; Krause’s tank had been hit during the battle. Though Krause had gotten the worst of it, Maddalyn had managed to save him with a healing spell. Compared to him having had his leg shot off, the mild cuts from spalling the others suffered were nothing. “They said this stuff burns hot and small; perfectly safe, ‘long as you don’t do something stupid like blow it up. The other guys’re using some for the cook pot too.”“Speaking of, what’s in it?” Another crewman asked.“Uh, we got a chicken at some point.”“You clean it?”“Grew up on a farm, of course I cleaned it, you nimrod. Who just chucks a chicken whole in a pot?”“Not gonna tell that story before we eat.”
“Stew of heavens knows what but it has a chicken in it,” Von Metzeler mused out of the side of his mouth, standing next to you, “I suppose that would be quite the treat to most of the Army of the Republic.”“First thing I’m doing when we get home,” Von Walen said, also close by, “Hitting the closest officer’s mess and eating something that isn’t either dried, pickled, or made of friggin’ crap.”“The food in the restaurants around here are good,” you said. “Yeah, yeah, but they aren’t the same, you know? All the stuff around here feels like it’s pretending or something. I don’t know.”“Richter,” Maddalyn squeaked quietly next to you, “Something smells awful.” That didn’t bode well, you thought, as you heard sounds of people grunting and huffing around obstacles with something heavy.“Make way!” A pair of men carrying a big iron pot walked through the clearing, readily made in the face of an oncoming hot piece of cookware, and set it down on the ground. Whatever was inside was steaming, and absolutely reeked.“What the fuck did you put in there?” a Bat Company man who had wandered over asked loudly, “That chicken and god damn boots?”“It’s cabbage!” One of the impromptu chefs cried defensively, “If it smells bad it means it’s good!”“Judge above. Alright, what the hell’s in there besides chicken and cabbage. Damn, whatever sort of cabbage is supposed to smell like fuck arse?”“A chicken, a pigeon, cabbage, turnip and beets, buncha onions of all sorts. Salt and pepper, glug of beer for extra flavor.”“Gotta be kiddin’ me.”“Don’t knock it til you try it, man,” the crewman said, taking a tin mess cup from one of his fellows and ladling a healthy portion in, “Best thing I’ve ever made.”“That must be sain’ a fuckin’ lot.”“Shut the fuck up, what’s-your-face, I’ve seen you eat actual garbage.”“You can’t serve a pot of bullshit to the Commander of the platoon, dipshit, Judge above help you if you serve it to his goddamn wife.”“I’ll be fine…I’ll be thankful for anything…” Maddalyn spoke up, and the arguing silenced.“Well, see? Nice to see somebody’s got confidence. Here, milady, I promise you’ll love it.” The crewman beamed as he passed the tin to Maddalyn, who held it in both hands and sniffed at it. She took a small sip, apparently too famished to wait for a spoon.“It’s…onions. It tastes like a lot of onions.” Maddalyn said quietly to you. Whether that was good or bad was left a mystery.“Here, big boss,” you received a tin next, “Made sure to get some good chunks of bird in there.”
It wasn’t like you hadn’t eaten pigeon, but you weren’t sure if the sort of pigeon that was common around here was of an appetizing sort. You waited to be passed a spoon, and you partook. Indeed, the broth, the meat, everything, was overwhelmed by a blend of onions. It wasn’t terrible, but the smell could have fooled you had you judged on that alone.“Howzit, boss?”“Needs more beer,” you answered.“Well,” the other pot attendant who had remained quiet said gruffly, “You happen to be in luck.”----- Back at my home where life was once greatI’m married to a big fat bitch that I hateJust thinking about her just makes me irateOff to sea I went to flee from that fateOh, oh,Give me my mistress, the great salty seaWho’s always been moody and awful to meBut though as a mistress the sea isn’t greatAt least she’s not that rotten big fat bitch I hate!The first song belted out, which thankfully wasn’t a more crass if more popular alternative shanty, was what the men first wanted when the bottles of beer were handed out from the crate. They weren’t cold, but they did fine enough. The enlisted were particularly fond of a sort of song referred to as “shanties” in Sosaldt; evidently they were trendy songs that traveled inland from the ports, and were a blend of traditional sailing songs and whatever was hip and popular across the sea in Caelus. You had to admit, they had a catchy rhythm, but they were also supposed to be played with a guitar. After that allowance though, you requested, along with all the other officers, that the next song be the Strossvalder Panzerballad; all men of the tanker corps knew it, of course, but it was a bit of a melancholy song. It was sung anyways. The Panzerballad’s verses told the story of a band of valiant Panzerritter, Tank Knights, based off an apocryphal story of a battle against Netillian forces in a war supporting Strossvald’ ally, the Kingdom of Baou, in the very earliest days of the Panzer Corps. The Netillians, referred to as the Men of the East in the song, met the protagonists in battle again and again, but the Panzerritter broke through wave after wave, until there was only one tank left, which managed to rescue the beleaguered Crown Prince of Baou, though at the very end this last tank had to hold off one last attack while the Prince retreated; an attack the last Panzerritter and their crew did not survive, though the Prince managed to escape. It was a song about duty, glory in death; the valiance of the Panzer Knight, and the ideal of all tank commanders. It was still a song of celebration, no doubt, but after the last lines, there was naught but solemn silence for a minute.
“Hey!” a crewman shouted, holding his near empty bottle in a hand, “A toast to the LT, for dragging us to this godforsaken pit and back out again! Hail to the Archduchy, Hail to Strossvald, Hail to Von Tracht!”“Hail!” rippled through the platoon, fists beaten to the shoulder before angled and thrust straight into the air.You’d have lied if you were to say you weren’t tearing up with pride at the moment, but it was too dark at the time for any to notice out of the fire and lamp light.-----Of course, you had been obliged to thank all of your officers, the men, and the soldiers of Bat Company, and all the members of the Republic Army who had aided you, but soon after the drinks had ben drained and the stew somehow completely emptied from the pot, the men went to business cleaning up and getting ready to hit the sack, though it wouldn’t be for a few hours yet. The Iron Hogs mechanics nearby were either grumbling or huming some of the stanzas of the Panzerballad as they worked, though they perhaps knew it too well to have only heard it once; perhaps a relic of Heller Von Tracht making itself known.“So,” Maddalyn still held on to you, as she had through the evening; a few times she had threatened to cut off circulation. “Are we…going to go back to the castle? To go to bed?”“Actually,” you told Maddalyn, and you were sure this wouldn’t go over well, “I want to sleep alone tonight. I can take you back up if you want, but we won’t be sleeping in the same place.”“W-what?” Maddalyn’s voice cracked, “Why?”You explained to Maddalyn your headaches, and your theory that they might be caused by some spiritual thing; even if they weren’t you knew Blackflower did good things for the mind, and was used as a relaxant, at least for males. Its effect on women was why you insisted on being apart.“I don’t like it,” Maddalyn sniffled, “But I don’t know what it could be…anything I can think of, I would have noticed, I think.” She paused, then put a hand on your chest, “Could we please still sleep together? Even if I get some of that in me, I promise I’ll be fine…I had some of that back in that one crone’s hut, remember? I’ll just…endure it.”>No, you’ll survive a night without me, won’t you?>Fine. I’ll let you be by my side, though the moment anything funny happens I’m chucking you in a cold bath.>If it’s that important to you, I won’t do it. Don’t worry, I’ll come to the same bed as yours.>If you don’t want me to do this, then that’s fine, but maybe you could try something…else? (What?)>Other?
>>2650499>>Fine. I’ll let you be by my side, though the moment anything funny happens I’m chucking you in a cold bath.
>>2650499>If it’s that important to you, I won’t do it. Don’t worry, I’ll come to the same bed as yours.
>>2650499>Fine. I’ll let you be by my side, though the moment anything funny happens I’m chucking you in a cold bathExperimentation in a safe place is important, that's what the instructors always say.Although I don't know if it's been brought up but if Blackflower disrupts Prescence maybe it will adversely affect her if she has any active magical doohickeys? I don't know it's all wizard nonsense to me.
>>2650499>Fine. I’ll let you be by my side, though the moment anything funny happens I’m chucking you in a cold bath
You all know it will go wrong anons.
“Fine, I’ll let you be by my side,” you accepted a compromise with Maddalyn, “Though the moment anything funny happens I’m chucking you in a cold bath.”Maddalyn stiffened in alarm. “Don’t do that!”“It won’t happen unless it’s necessary.”“I don’t see how it could ever be necessary…” Maddalyn touched her finger together and frowned deeply, but the agreement had already been reached without further speaking. Of course, there was a chance that Maddalyn was the sort of woman who merely was put to sleep by Blackflower instead of developing amorous tendencies, which could have been helpful in itself, but you didn’t particularly want to test that. “Where did you even get Blackflower, again, if you said before? It’s illegal in a lot of places.”“It’s simple enough to find if you’re dedicated enough,” you replied. “It grows in a lot of places, the plants are just slow to reproduce so they require some effort to hunt down. The Blackflower stuff I have now, Poltergeist gave to me, because it keeps the boogieman away at night. The boogieman being the demiphantom we locked up.”More precisely, you locked up, after Maddalyn knocked herself out in some ploy to both lure the apparition into an ambush for its destruction while also doing her best to get killed in the process; you defied her expectation to leave her behind for the sake of destroying the beast forever, though, and now the creature was trapped in an old secret laboratory.Maddalyn’s look became even unhappier, and she turned her head down. “Does it still torment you?”“It’s not so bad. It’s eased up some, even.”Maddalyn hugged you slowly, “I’m sorry. It shouldn’t be your burden to bear.”“I told you, it’s fine,” though you put your hand on her head to reassure her anyways, “It’s better than it running around, no?”“It would have been better if I hadn’t created it at all.” Maddalyn moped, stuffing her face into your jacket, “…Come, let’s go back to the castle.” A plan you agreed with; more than anything, you wanted tomorrow to finally come.
Having returned to Lord Wossehn’s castle, the master informed you that he would have provided for dinner for you, but understood your attendance elsewhere, before letting you go on shortly. Having arrived back at you and Maddalyn’s room, Maddalyn went in first, and shut the door and locked it.“I’m going to change,” she had said just before going in. Apparently you still weren’t allowed to see her naked in any capacity, unless you were to undress her yourself while she was in the mood. Fair enough. There was other business to take care of anyways.Hilda wasn’t in her room; a blessing, since you didn’t bother knocking. Neither was Emma, though- or so you thought. A little bit of something was sticking out of the metal box.“Help!” a very quiet voice was yelping; considering that the way Emma talked wasn’t heard through ears, you weren’t sure how it was different in volume; maybe distance, and the fact that she was crammed in a metal box had to do with such. She was well stuck in there too; could you help with that? You tried picking up the box and shaking her out; no good. As ridiculous as it seemed, the only real thing you thought you could do next was to pull her out- you pinched the bit of Emma that stuck out, and felt her…spirit stuff, for lack of a better term, stick on to you. Her way of grabbing on, you supposed. Slowly, steadily, Emma was drawn out from the box, until she finally popped out all the way with a gasp.“I thought I would die in there! Well, again.”“What was inside?” you asked hurriedly, “Is it a bomb?”“How am I supposed to know what a bomb looked like on the inside,” Emma complained sullenly, “No, it was…there was another box inside. Inside that, there was some sort of coin, or jewelry, or something metal. I couldn’t tell, I had to sort of feel around. Do you know what it’s like being stretched around like a noodle? It’s not pleasant!”“So there’s no bomb?” you were almost disappointed.“No, there’s no bomb. Do you want there to be a bomb? Fine. There’s a massive bomb inside, and it’s probably only got a few seconds left before it blows this whole castle to smithereens.”“Hilarious.”“I try. So was getting crammed into a box instead of a can supposed to be a reward for being a good little girl, or can I expect nothing for this, like usual?”“You’re upset about something?”“You’re really god damn smart, aren’t you?” Emma spat, “Whatever. Can me.”“You can’t just-““Can me!” Emma insisted, “I don’t feel like doing this right now, not in the mood after turning myself into funny shapes all freaking day.”
Emma got her request. Though you had to wonder, what on earth was Loch giving you, and why? There had to be good reason why it was in a time delayed lockbox- maybe it was a clue to his identity? It could be dealt with later. Learning Loch’s identity wasn’t on your list of priorities anyways. Though Emma’s frustration was concerning; Hilda had apparently isolated herself from the little ghost, so that could be one reason, but it could also be that no progress had been made on your shortsighted theory that you could give the ghost, and her acquaintances, new bodies. You had just assumed it was something that would be simple to do when you made the proposal, and later found out that doing anything like that was a forbidden art among Soulbinders. Until then, you hadn’t hesitated to use Emma as a useful tool, but perhaps she was getting sick of that role? She was still a young girl, and a bratty rich one in her past life, at that. Or maybe you were reaching and she was just stressed because of the recent battle, and she was simply coming down from the train of potential bad things turning out alright in the end. Wouldn’t it have been convenient if all you had to do was let her cool off.Maddalyn finally let you in, and she was in her pink pajamas like before. She was most unpleased when the first thing you did was prepare the bath full of cold water.“I was hoping that you weren’t serious about that.” She grumbled quietly.“It’s just a precaution.”“I hate cold, and I hate water.” Maddalyn complained.“So you hate baths?”“Baths are hot water. They’re fine.”“Either way, it’s good motivation, no?”“Please don’t throw me in a cold bath.”“I won’t if you don’t need it,” you told Maddalyn once again, “…Hm, this isn’t really that cold, I should ask for some ice…”“Richter!” Maddalyn whined, “Please!”The reaction was a bit more earnest and fearful than you were ready for. “Did something happen in the past that I should know about?” You asked, “What, did you fall in a lake?”
“I…” Maddalyn was hesitant, “…I don’t want to talk about it.” So that was that, apparently. Maddalyn shuffled over to the table on the other side of the room, and picked up a stack of books you had failed to notice earlier. “I…had these brought to me while you were out. I can’t read them, of course, but, I was thinking, well,” She put the stack down and held the top one up to her chin, “If you could read to me.”“Reading bedtime stories to a little girl,” your thoughts spilled out of your mouth.“Don't call me a little girl…” Maddalyn pouted, “If you don’t want to, then…”“No, wait, let me have a look at them,” you said hurriedly.Out of all the things you expected, this hadn’t been a way you had thought you’d spend an evening. There were four of the books; all pieces that couldn’t be read in a single night, of course. You grabbed the one Maddalyn was holding, checked the cover, glanced through the first few pages. A history of the Reich and the Kaisers, in brief; it seemed dry, dull, and something Maddalyn would be completely uninterested in…unless she had requested it specifically?“Did you just ask for random books, or do you know what these are?” you asked.“I can’t read the covers,” Maddalyn admitted, “I did ask for certain types and subjects.”Why would Maddalyn want to know more about the Kaisers? You went to the next one. My Lover in the Moonlight. Assuredly some cheesy, crappy romance novel, the sort you’d never think of actually reading. You cracked it open and…its opening scene was a raunchy description of a couple making love. This was pornography in text form, and utterly indecent. It was thrown aside with proper haste. Next…ah, a chronicle of the first Kaiser’s short lived northern campaigns where Alexander’s conquests were finally halted by the mountains that protected Naukland, one you had read before, but would be happy to read again. That was set aside, perhaps for you yourself, later. The fourth and final one…Mysteries of the Mountains. The summary on the back stated that it was a book about the strange people of the mountains, who called themselves Nief’Yem, and the quirks of their culture, and what little they divulged of their history to outsiders. It could be interesting, though you didn’t count on meeting any more or visiting any villages.Which to go for, though? It would be a good couple of hours to kill…>The Imperial Lineage: A History of Zeissenburg and its Lords. Dry, historical, educational.>My Lover in the Moonlight. Because maybe Maddalyn would like this best? Who knew?>War Atop of the World: The First Kaiser’s Last Campaign. A classic.>Mysteries of the Mountains. Perhaps there would be mention of the things you found most mysterious?>You didn’t feel like reading tonight. Suggest doing something a bit more physical.>Something else?
>>2651498My Lover in the Moonlight, while she sitting on our lap, while we're chewing blackflower.>The Imperial Lineage
>>2651498>>Mysteries of the Mountains. Perhaps there would be mention of the things you found most mysterious?
>>2651498>Mysteries of the Mountains. Perhaps there would be mention of the things you found most mysterious?
>>2651498>>The Imperial Lineage: A History of Zeissenburg and its Lords. Dry, historical, educational.Id like to see if we can learn anything about Loch, just maybe, but if its still a tie then just disregard this and go with they mystic mountains vote>>2651528This anon wants to start our own Imperial Lineage immediately
>>2651498"Suggest doing something a bit more physical."WELL.But in all seriousness>War Atop of the World: The First Kaiser’s Last Campaign. A classic.A subject Richter's interested in, maybe it could be a common interest between the both of them?Genuine actual maybe possibly (if I'm right) spoilers here: I bet it's the Seal of the Kaiser. Zierke gave it to us waaaay the fuck back for saving him. We dropped it off with the Intelligence Office and somehow it had wound up back to Loch, likely because he's working with them or under their orders. Whether or not he has more shadiness added to it I leave to more Shadowrun capable anons.
You shoved all the other books irreverently off to the side, and picked up Mysteries of the Mountains, and began to read to Maddalyn, who listened intently, in wide eyed silence.The author began by detailing their experiences; they had traveled to six separate conclaves in different areas, and spent a collective two years among the green haired mountain tribes, who resided deep in the ranges of peaks all over the central and eastern portions of the continent. The Byarkwolk (Mountain Peoples, as most call them still), as the Nauk Imperial referred to them, or Nief’yem, as they refer to themselves, are a reclusive, often luddite but not always, tribal people who, despite isolating themselves from most of the world, maintain contact even with distant communities through use of messengers who travel between the villages. Each village has an elder, and oftentimes these elders will be referred to in the plural, even though the Nief’yem do not make any claims to nationhood, nor do they acknowledge any nation as their overlords. This has caused conflict in the past, but the places the Nief’yem call home are often so remote or difficult to reach, that they have managed to maintain such independence until modern times, when they have been left to be tolerated. They are able to scrape sustenance lifestyles in their peakside and valley homes, often living off of hardy crops and goats, supplemented with forage and hunting. Nief’yem record history through oral tradition, and parts of it are never told to outsiders, no matter how they trust them. Though many historians have been frustrated by such traditions (the author included), some valuable knowledge is given out, which can be supplemented with historical records elsewhere. The Nief’yem maintain that long ago, their people ruled over a vast empire that spanned the continent, until some cataclysm (often explained as a plague) devastated the civilization and reduced them to their current state. However, puzzlingly, direct evidence of said empire ever existing has been extremely difficult to find. When the migrants who would found the ancient Nauk Empire arrived, they would have undoubtedly encountered this empire, or remnants of it, but they made no record of such. Then again, the Nauk Empire are infamous for destroying records and architecture of those who came before them in order to solidify their rule, something much reviled by their neighbors and eventual rivals. Said rivals do have records of some large civilization in the place the Nief’yem insist their old empire existed, but such records are offhand references and never descriptive in the slightest beyond mentioning a name, each name being different. Modern theories conclude that this “empire,” if it existed, was made up of numerous smaller chiefdoms who united under one banner, but lacked the unity to oppose the powerful Nauk Empire, whose legions crossed the sea under the banner of Sverrsk the Conqueror.
“Soulbinders and their nonsense come from Nief’yem communities, right? They listen to the Mountain Elders or whatever?” you asked Maddalyn, “You don’t happen to know anything about this mysterious ancient empire, do you?”“No,” Maddalyn replied softly, “That’s the sort of thing you aren’t supposed to ask after. If you asked any Soulbinder and they knew anything they’d just tell you to look at a normal history book. The Mountain Elders know, I’m sure, but they don’t want to tell.”How strange. You read on, skipped a few sections hoping to find something relating to Soulbinders, but when you didn’t you asked Maddalyn about it directly.“Would this book tell of anything to do with Soulbinders?” “No.” Maddalyn said immediately, “It wouldn’t say anything interesting. Soulbinders pass themselves off as wandering mystics. Goodness knows there’s plenty of those who aren’t soulbinders, it’s easy for them to camouflage themselves.”Mystics, exorcists, fortune tellers and such were certainly not rare, though they were more often seen in rural country, or so you heard. Their niche found little audience in metropolitan areas. You returned to the book; for a good bit, you read aloud through the history of the peoples’ place among modern society. Evidently, as society became more interested in the communities that could be reached, they became seduced by technology and trade, and many of the most accessible villages became towns, and moved on from sustenance to tourism. The author lamented the corruption of the culture, but admitted that these towns had prospered mightily because of this. Part of his lamentations included the fact that the trait of forest-green hair was a recessive one, and communities which had mixed in with foreigners had their “once vibrant emerald heads, muddied into dull browns and blacks.” As time went on, apparently, the green hues of these ancient folk would vanish just as their history, and soon their culture, would. Already more and more were speaking modern tongues, instead of the ancient language that had been preserved for millennium. “Your crewman was not informed of this.” Maddalyn commented at that.
The language, as well as the art styles and some traditions, were all that remained of the supposed ancient empire. The language itself had no relatives the world over; it was unique. Historians thought that it might have once been spoken across the boundaries of the old empire, but since the Nauk had obliterated cultures under them and made them copies of their own, the only language records were in, was the precursor of Old Nauk’s precursor, the distant ancestor language of the modern tongue.While you would have read further, Maddalyn yawned, and you realized it was well into the night; the books were reassembled and set aside, and you went to turn off the lights save for the bedside one, and popped a little pack of blackflower in your mouth as Maddayn crawled under the covers. You undressed to your undershirt and shorts, and went in after her, though you faced away from her- in case your breath could be a vector for blackflower fumes. Silly, perhaps, but one couldn’t be too careful. Maddalyn wrapped her arms around your middle and pushed herself tight against you. “Thank you for reading to me…I know it must be strange, but I really appreciate it.”“You’re awfully concerned about inconveniencing me.”“I’m just…” Maddalyn hesitated, then breathed out slowly. “I’m terrified that you might stop feeling for me…that I might become too much of a pain, to be appealing…that you might forget you ever loved me, like my father did…like my sister did.”>I would have to be quite a loathsome character to do that. Do you suspect that I’d do that?>You’re worrying over nothing. Just get some rest, we’ll be in a nicer place soon.>Sounds like somebody’s desperate for a kiss.>Other?
>>2653066>Sounds like somebody’s desperate for a kiss.:^)
>>2653066>>Sounds like somebody’s desperate for a kiss.
>>2653066>[Request more information]
>>2653066>>I would have to be quite a loathsome character to do that. Do you suspect that I’d do that?
>>2653063Recessive genes don't work like that, historian-kun.>>2653066>Your sister is 16 or so right now, yes? Maybe she's just going through a phase, like teens do.
>>2653066>Sounds like somebody’s desperate for a kiss.Also tanq, I'm 100% sure that Poltergeist told Ricther about the ancient empire, the soulbinder apocalypse and why they all pretend it never happened.
Update soonish.>>2653625>Recessive genes don't work like that, historian-kun.A classic tale of ignoring (or perhaps being ignorant of) certain things for the sake of more romantic imagery. The whole schpiel about the corruption of culture and an attempt to link to a parallel in genes wouldn't work too well otherwise, would it?>>2653827>Also tanq, I'm 100% sure that Poltergeist told Ricther about the ancient empire, the soulbinder apocalypse and why they all pretend it never happened.Indeed he did, though he didn't mention the ethnicity of those involved.
“I’m sorry?” you asked, turning your head slightly about and rolling the blackflower to the back of your mouth to speak better, “I ought to know more about that, I think. What do you mean about your father and sister?”“I…” Maddalyn coughed, “I don’t want to talk about it…”You remembered at some point talking with Maddalyn about this before, and she hadn’t been nearly as cagey about this; had she not been being genuine, in the face of anticipating her death? Although, you felt you had to reassure her at least a little.“Your sister is sixteen or so right now, yes?” You referred to Mathilda; Maddalyn had other sisters, but they were older than her, and according to her not particularly close. Maddalyn and Mathilda also looked identical to one another (almost to the point of it being eerie), which you didn’t look forward to having to deal with in the future. “Maybe she’s just going through a phase, like teens do.”“Iiiihh, I, er,” Maddalyn babbled, before finally murmuring into your back, “…Maybe.” She didn’t sound like she believed that though, for whatever reason. “I’d just like to sleep, if that’s fine…” She really didn’t want to say anything about this, did she? It wasn’t a satisfactory note to end the day on. The light by the bed was turned off, but you turned over and faced Maddalyn. “All that melancholy…sounds like somebody’s desperate for a kiss.” You grabbed Maddalyn by the shoulders and leaned in, but Maddy’s vision was better in the dark than yours, and she turned her cheek while sticking a hand in your face. “Richter, it’s…it’s fine,” she said sullenly, “I’m fine.”You felt your face sag. “Oh. Alright then.” Whether it was because Maddalyn was still being responsible about the matter of the blackflower or if she wasn’t in the mood wasn’t certain, but you still put your hand around her head and kept her pulled tight into your chest as you both fell silent.
Despite the calming effect of the blackflower juices from the chewed wad, you weren’t getting to sleep easily; there wasn’t any reason for it, you just couldn’t quite get to dreamland. Almost as soon as you did fall asleep, Maddalyn woke you up with squirming and crying; another nightmare, which she seemed to have near regularly. This one wasn’t fierce enough to wake her up, so you endured it until she calmed down again.-----The morning went much like the last. As far as levity went; Maddalyn was woken up, albeit with difficulty, in a bit more of a polite way than groping her bottom as ferociously as you could, like before. What few possessions were in the rooms were packed, and you went on your way to camp; formal farewells would take place later, after everything was ready to go.The Iron Hogs were waiting at your camp, and Smitty was worn ragged; as though she’d worked all night. Probably because she had.“Tank’s all boosted,” she told you, “Now for the pay. Illg told me you were gonna give us these two things,” she gesticulated towards the other two m/32Bs, “Part of payment for our good work, yeah? Even threw in a free engine. This one’s got sterner stuff in it, and more efficient cooling. It won’t heat up as easy and you can work it harder…it’s got about thirty more horsepower in it too, for funsies.”Your crews had already moved their things out of their tanks, from the look of it. Even though the loss of two of your m/32s would mean a significant decrease in combat capability…it wasn’t like you caused any trouble or had any plans to get into any more fights. It was an acceptable trade, was it not?>Try to renegotiate on the spot. This probably won’t endear you to the Hogs.>The deal from before goes through; let it not be said that you were anything but upstanding in business.>Note that these tanks are valuable specimens, and you need replacements. They’ve gotten a whole load of captured tanks, haven’t they? Surely they could spare some cheap replacements?>Other?
>>2654155>>The deal from before goes through; let it not be said that you were anything but upstanding in business.
>>2654155>The deal from before goes through; let it not be said that you were anything but upstanding in business.>We can ask Signy for replacements.
>>2654155Oh yeah, and>Jokingly offer to exchange Hans for a tank.
>>2654155.>>The deal from before goes through; let it not be said that you were anything but upstanding in business.
“They’re yours, then,” you waved a hand, “Take care of them. Although, if you want, I’ll trade you Hans for one of those tanks back.”Smitty barked out a laugh. “I’d have a hard time tellin’ the boss that that was a wise investment. Sorry, I’ll have to pass.” Both of you were being facetious, naturally.Few words were exchanged between you afterwards; Smitty cited not wanting to “keep the boss waiting too long, what with all the new contracts,” and all of the maintenance equipment, vehicles, and the tanks, were taken away to be spirited away to the east, to Gusseisenholz, the city whom were the Iron Hogs’ “primary contractor.” They functioned differently than the Death Heads did, apparently, even though they certainly had the strength to control a city. Perhaps it was all a ploy. Who knew for sure in a country such as this?“For the third time,” Von Walen said wistfully, having walked up beside you and watched the tanks, one of which was his mount, be taken away. “I have had to surrender my tank. I guess I should be thankful that I’ve never been shot out of it.”You made a note to yourself to request that Signy reinforce your platoon, though you knew the sorry state of the Republic’s current armor reserves; maybe you could have a crack at some of the captured Death Heads gear.-----The medical personnel, having run short of supplies, had little to pack, but they came to you regardless looking frustrated.“One of the patients has snuck out.”“Again,” the other medic huffed.
Again? That could only mean one person. “Is it Anya again? The blonde one who turned her coat.” A sharp nod of affirmation. “She didn’t go with her sister, did she?” You were told she hadn’t; the sister had been the one to bring up that she was gone. She had just gone, apparently. “I’ll go find her.” Maddalyn was left safely with your crew as you embarked on your search.Where would you go if you were a recuperating woman who had a rebellious and abrasive streak, you wondered? Not far, you presumed, especially in a short time. It wasn’t like Anya had been wounded in her legs, but she had lost enough blood to be completely somnolent for an entire night, day, and night after. She couldn’t have felt like going too far. You asked around for anybody matching her description; there weren’t many young blonde women with disfiguring facial scars going around, after all. “Sure,” some tender to a hole in the wall bar that was closest to the aid center gave a promising start, “Saw somebody like that. Stumbled in here and asked if we served milk. Got all cranky when I laughed her off and told her to be serious, went right back out the door.”Milk? What an odd thing to be pursuing. Sosaldt was probably the one place you knew of where milk wouldn’t have been incredibly easy to find, what with the lack of organized, let alone industrialized, agriculture; around the central-western regions you’d been in, at least. You wouldn’t have been surprised if Anya had walked in and ordered a beer, or hard liquor, she seemed like the sort of rough around the edges shrew that would do that, but milk? Lucky for her that the extravagance of Wossehnalia’s ruler, as well as the tastes of its cultured inhabitants, meant that she wouldn’t have to look far…which also made your prospective search more difficult.Thankfully, you didn’t have to look long.
“Come the hell on,” you heard Anya nag as you were walking close to a café, “So what if I don’t have any money? Open up a damn tab.” You walked through the door, but Anya didn’t turn to look, instead continuing to harass the woman at the counter. “I’m starvin’. What, doesn’t it count for anything that I got shot? Or do I have to go die if I want any respect? Is it ‘cause I didn’t say please?”She was awfully energetic considering that she was supposed to still be bedridden. Though Anya was noticeably tired, not that that made her any less irritable. She could only expected to be hungry, but the field hospital’s attendants gave out food and drink; either she was impatient or, much more likely, the pickings were not to her taste. An incredibly discerning taste at that, if she was picky about what she got after an entire day. She was thankfully dressed more decently than her usual; her stomach wasn’t seizing your eyes, as it was covered by a loose white shirt that hung off her collar like a sheet, and its sleeves devoured her hands; presumably some oversized garb that the medics had put on her for the sake of decency. Though you had to admit...the look suited her better.“The hell are you looking at, lady?” She demanded of the person staffing the counter, who had peered over warily towards you, a silent appeal to get this firebrand out of her face. “Look, I know, money’s cool and all that, but if you just let me get it later, listen; I’d be really, really happy about it. Isn’t that enough? Hey, there’s people who would have just busted in and demanded everything, yeah? I oughta get props for being so considerate.” You cleared your throat.“Hey, wait a goddamn second,” Anya didn’t even look at you, “Your turn’s coming up, hear?”“Anya.”“What?” She snarled and snapped around to look at you; her fierceness slightly dulled when she saw it was you, apparently not the one of the worst case scenarios she had been reacting to, and you practically watched the gears turn in her head as you dreaded what way she’d think of to exploit your presence here. Anya graciously didn’t take any of the options you came up with. “Oh. You. Can I bum some cash off ‘a you? Seems like I don’t rate around here.”>Grab her and carry her back to the hospital; you’d recommend that the medics tie her down this time.>How about you come back to camp? You don’t have to pay for food there. Why are you even here instead of there?>It’s a date, then. What do you want? I’ll treat.>Other?
>>2655880tanq, what's the timetable look like? Is she holding up the convoy leaving?Regardless because I can't resist,>It’s a date, then. What do you want? I’ll treat.
>>2656297>Is she holding up the convoy leaving?Not at all. Though it's not like the convoy was scheduling around departing with her anyways, at least, not currently.
>>2655880Buy her drink, make it two, and walk back to camp>>2655868>You made a note to yourself to request that Signy reinforce your platoonLets not
>>2656341Buy her drink, make it two, and walk back to campSupporting >You made a note to yourself to request that Signy reinforce your platoonLets notSupporting this too, lets just get home and deal with any spook fuckery
>>2655880>>It’s a date, then. What do you want? I’ll treat.
>>2655880Seconding>>2656341Signy or the eventual usurper when we leave could use all the equipment she currently has.
“It’s a date, then.” You declared, “What do you want? I’ll treat.”“Piss off with that crap,” Anya scoffed, though she wasn’t in any mood to turn down free things and both of you knew it. “…Anyways, I want…” She went down a massive list of requests; bacon pasties, sausage rolls, fried bread of two sorts, soft boiled eggs, toast, milk, steamed milk, and just about everything available that had chocolate as a primary ingredient. You hadn’t stopped her rattling off her whole list, firstly from shock, then out of curiosity of how far she’d go. “And a cuppa…nah, make scratch that, I want the whole pot you have of coffee. Black as tar, don’t do shit to it.”“That’s…” the saleswoman had to tally it all up, then announced the cost; it was, of course, obscene. “And this gentleman will be paying for this?”Anya bent forward slightly and grinned a smile so toothsome she had to close her eyes to properly show it. “’Course he is, what an awesome guy, right?”A choked grumble tumbled from your mouth as you dug out the cash. “Make it two for the beverage. Except the coffee.”-----Anya preferred the bar seats to the booths and tables, and as soon as her food arrived, she began to vigorously demolish it. You’d never seen a woman eat so messily; nor had you ever seen anybody inhale a slice of toast in one go either, for that matter. The subject of requesting Signy’s reinforcements came to mind while you waited for an opening. On the other hand, you thought, maybe requesting reinforcement from Signy from her limited pool of resources was asking too much for the sake of a danger that had little reason to be considered more than fanciful. You’d belay asking for such a thing; let it strengthen this new regime.
She didn’t seem to be slowing down, so you asked your questions in hopes of her taking a break in between items to answer them.“Do you always binge like this when you eat out?”“Mnah,” Anya said, mouth full. No breaks in feasting allowed it seemed. “Ohnnee whaan shombohdees paayehng.” She swallowed, and then took one of the boiled eggs in hand. You expected her to slow down to peel the shell off, but she took a hearty chomp of it instead, biting it right in half and crunching the shell in her teeth as bright yellow yolk ran down her lips and off her chin.“That’s disgusting,” you furrowed your brow but couldn’t stop staring at that etiquette disaster, “You’re not supposed to eat the shell, for goodness sakes. Where on earth did you learn to do that barbarity from?”Anya swallowed again, noisily. “Your uncle.” Of course, you thought as Anya popped the other half of the egg in her mouth and practically gulped it all down without chewing.“I can’t imagine people take you out to eat much if they know you’ll do your best to clean out their wallet.”Anya stopped. “Nah. It’s been a real, real long time since somebody last got me food. Hell used to treat me all the time. Took me out all the time after I got this,” Anya pointed to the huge scar that ran across her face. “Real badass, but real sweet too.” Anya’s cheeks were coloring, seemingly from the memory, as she tore a pasty into shreds. She looked at you in the middle of stretching a piece of bacon and a line of cheese out of the pastry crust. “…You eat yet? I’ll sooner eat all this myself, but you did buy. You might be pretty thin for a soldier but you ain’t tellin’ me that a glass of milk’s enough for you.”“…I suppose not,” you tried to steal the other egg, but Anya smacked your hand away.“Don’t push it, twinkletoes.”You went for a sausage roll instead. “Do you actually like the eggs like that?”“Nah.” Anya picked up the egg and chucked the whole thing in her mouth, “Ihh proffuhrum-““Finish chewing, if you please.”“Bllaagh.” Anya made a face at you, but waited to speak until her mouth was empty. “I like them better scrambled, with a lot of cheese and pepper, but if you ask for eggs any place that way they don’t give you the shell.”“I didn’t realize the shell was one of the main appeals.”“Makes you tough. Hell said it puts hair on your chest.” Anya picked up the coffee pot and poured it over a mug.
“I haven’t noticed much hair on your chest,” you said before really thinking about how that could be interpreted. Without looking over, Anya put down the pot, raised a fist and knocked the bottom of it against the top of your head like a hammer, but not hard enough to hurt much. “The food’s good, quit eating your goddamn feet.” It could have gone worse, you supposed as you rubbed your head. “You shipping out then, huh.” Anya took a swig of the horrible bean drippings, “Back home with you.”“Yeah, today. Where are you going? Going to throw your lot in with the Republic?”“Nah.” It was worth a try. “I’m fine with the idea. I just don’t want to stay in this crap hole any longer than I need to. Til then, I don’t want to do the whole army thing. I’ve had enough of the crap I did with the Death Heads. Think I’ll be a bounty hunter or something like that, something with adventure in it, high payoff so I can get out sometime soon. Though I dunno what I’d do once I did.” She took another long drink, “I’m not good at anything but fightin’, and most places don’t let girls try and get themselves killed, so I hear. Maybe I can be a career criminal.”That gave you pause for thought. If she wanted to go somewhere else, that would theoretically be easy for you to do; you were already doing that with Fie, but you weren’t sure if Anya would accept that; she had proven herself strong willed and prideful, and somehow you doubted that she would accept what you saw as a favor unless there was a chance for glory. That is, if you really wanted her in the first place. It was true that there was something about her that made you want to keep her around…Maybe it was unrealized masochism.>Well, good luck with that, then.>Are you sure you don’t want to stow away to Strossvald? We can drop you off there and expedite that process.>Actually, women can take up combat roles, under mercenary contract, albeit. How about it? Do you want to work for me?>Other?I presumed that "Buy her drink, make it two, and walk back to camp" meant you wanted to hang around a bit; if this wasn't the case, sorry about the misinterpretation.
>>2656845>Well, good luck with that, then. But if your interested, Strossvald does allow women into combat under mercenary contracts.
>>2656845>>Actually, women can take up combat roles, under mercenary contract, albeit. How about it? Do you want to work for me? A chance to travel with none of the obligations of a formal enlistment and a lot less chance of being murdered or hanged than a bounty hunter or criminal.
>>2657381Stop collecting women you thirsty anons.
>>2656845>Actually, women can take up combat roles, under mercenary contract, albeit. How about it? Do you want to work for me?She's brave, potentially more combat capable than Hilda and most importantly went above and beyond the line of duty, even sneaking out of a hospital WOUNDED to capture Hagen and enable us to capture Todesfelsen. She hasn't even asked for a reward people, I don't think anyone wants her to become a career criminal and if she turns out to be too much to stomach then we drop her off in Strossvald, 100 times better than Sosaldt.Why she did all this can be speculated upon, but if Richter is all maintaining his honor then he'd be negligent and ungrateful for not at least offering.
>>2656845>Actually, women can take up combat roles, under mercenary contract, albeit. How about it? Do you want to work for me?>Join me now and we can renegotiate your contract when we are back in the Blumlands. Take your sister out of this Judge forsaken shithole, Maddalyn's territory is a natural fortress, far from the front lines. You've heard about the fighting to the North, it *will* spill over here. I can't in good conscience leave without extending the offer.
So the thread's about to fall off and we're tied up; what I'm thinking of doing is having a revote in the next thread (I'll be starting it up sooner than I was planning) with a bit of a continuation past the original point to see if a bit more context changes any minds; if there's another tie, I'll just roll to see if it's one or the other.That'll be tomorrow, though. Taking today off for this.