“My lord Archduke Strossvald,” the tall, thin man bowed over deeply, looking like a green stick trying to snap itself in two, “You have summoned me here to discuss the situation in the east?” He was dressed neatly in all black, trousers, shoes, shirt, vest and tie all. The traditional wear of office had been left in the other room; one did not meet the ruler of a nation wearing a longcoat and wide brimmed hat. The Archduke’s guards ill appreciated such a look, even if the Spook felt he could sneak an arsenal inside wearing nothing but a pair of socks. The Archduke was looking particularly fat and weary today. Recent events had kept him away from the feasts and parties (and young bachelorettes inclined towards scandalous rendezvous) he so loved and forced a change to a more responsible lifestyle; one that the Archduke was none too fond of, though his character made it so he was more wont to be resigned to it rather than frustrated. There were enough advisors and experts that his majesty never had to make a particular effort to keep informed, but the Intelligence Office was one of the few places he kept an eye upon, albeit an unfocused one. In spite of their valuable functions, the courts distrusted them, and for good reason.“Willen,” The Archduke addressed the head operative of the Intelligence Office by name, “My marshalls and lords have me well informed of the east, the machinations of Netilland and Twaryi, the movements of warlords of Sosaldt, the activities of the merchant princes in the south of such, yet out of nowhere there springs an entirely new nation, directly upon our southeastern border.”The Intelligence Office goon lord flashed a crooked, yellow smile that looked more like a shark’s than a man’s. “The Republic of Vang? Or perhaps Mittelsosalia, so I hear…”The Archduke did not like this man. He likes loud boisterous men who appreciated smoking and drinking, and nubile young ladies who knew all the ways to have an affair while still remaining a fair virgin. Agent Willen was neither gregarious nor a young and lewd minded woman, and his array of false faces was grating to behold. He would prefer to have as few words as possible with this serpent, to abridge this meeting as much as possible and have somebody else looking after this. “Is this Republic of your doing?”Willen’s smile somehow widened even further. “It was a collaborative project.”“With whom?”“A dazzlingly diverse collection of interested parties. My contribution was small, but the proper push to a boulder will send it rolling down a hillside quite speedily. Aha. Though to tell the truth, I did not anticipate quite this level of explosive success. Either the fellows I had sent were extremely motivated to practice mischief, or…” Willen’s eyes glinted like a wild cat’s, “Well, the boulder only needed a pebble kicked away to begin a-tumbling. I have prepared a report for you to read, though, with significant details.”
“Whom did you send?” the Archduke asked“One Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, along with companions. Scions of the houses of Von Metzeler, Von Walen, and Von Neubaum.”“I did not hear of this arrangement.” The Archduke had heard of the desertion of such, though; a few rumors had quibbled once again about the final extinction of the Von Trachts. They had once been the trusted bannermen of Von Strossvald, but their descent had been calamitous indeed, over such a short time.Willen only continued to smile. “The only ones who were told were those who needed to be informed.”“I am your liege.” the Archduke said crossly. “It all turned out for the best, I am sure you can agree. After all, with the events in the east combined with the south…this scuffle with Valsten turned out very well for us, but isolating their own Eastern Enemies has left us rather short on allies at a time such as this, no? Or will the King of Baou be rescuing us this time rather than the other way around?”The Archduke sank back into his throne. It was true that relations with East Valsten had been deemed an acceptable, if short term sacrifice. A quick strike into Valsten followed by an armistice had devastated the nation’s ability to make any offensives any time soon, allowing for redeployment of the armies to more profitable fronts, but that had required the Union of Valstener States’ ambitions to be whetted, so that the threat of a two front war would hasten the end of the conflict. The Archduke hadn’t expected East Valten’s offensive to be swiftly defeated and set on the back foot so quickly, but Valsten apparently had a talented general indeed. A mercy that he made his debut in the east rather than the north.“I thought not,” the Intelligence Officer said with irritating smugness, “Make no mistake, the Republic of Vang may be small now, but its growth has been remarkable. With proper nurturing and support, we may find ourselves in possession of a powerful, loyal new friend.”“Vang…” the Archduke pondered the name, “Perchance, is the leader of this..?”“Sigmund? No. The warlord, for lack of more appropriate term, who birthed this new nation, is his daughter. Scarcely twenty years old.”“Youthful indeed. Yet Kaiser Henrik was quite a bit younger when he ascended to his throne.”“Indeed.”“Yet, as one so young and inexperienced, is she not vulnerable?”
“She may have been born a Nauklander, but she was raised in Strossvald. The young lady has a certain sort of lingering loyalty, one that we can exploit. In my report, I included a tentative list of ways we can support this budding ruler…” that same, unnerving smile regained its greatest waxing, “Without too great an expenditure, considering what plans I hear have been made, as a result of lessons learned from our latest conflict…”“I will look at them. Was there anything else?” The Archduke wanted to hurry this along.“Nothing else, other than that our plans to the north have been proceeding well. We are almost ready…” the Shade bowed slightly, “…to send somebody to push the boulder.”-----You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of panzers for the Army of the Archduchy of Strossvald, and you are just about ready to finally pack up and return home from Sosaldt. It hadn’t felt like it had been more than a month; it felt like it had been even longer, despite not that much time even passing from you and your plucky band’s perspective. Regardless of how much you wanted to go home and get all of this over with, though, you still found yourself in a café with a young woman. Finding Anya again had been a matter of concern for her health; she had been shot while accompanying you, after all, and even though she could perhaps be criticized for a disregarding her safety, if she hadn’t been watching, your vehicle would have been attacked by an ambusher with an explosive, so you did feel some obligation to her well-being…for now. There was also something else. Was it her combativeness appealing to a desire to compete? Her relation to the uncle you idolized? That she was an attractive young woman (well, in your opinion)? Or perhaps it was that combined with seeming only interested in platonic relations, if that? Who knew?“Oi. Dingbat.” Anya chirped at you, ripping apart a piece of toast slathered with butter and jam, “You’re starin’ at me. Like you want to say somethin’. Spit it out already.”“I just thought you might want to consider,” you started up uncertainly, “If you’re interested, Strossvald does allow women into combat under mercenary contracts. On an individual level, not based on the company like other countries.” It was an intentional specification in Strossvald; the whims of nobility meant that unorthodox practices were tolerated so long as they were privately endorsed. In other countries, since many a mercenary came out of Sosaldt or Plisseau, and neither place cared what sort of fresh meat they got, the odd female could be found in privately employed combat units, though they were understandably few and far between. “It might be a better idea, considering what’s happening in the north and east. I’ll bet it’ll come over here; you could even take your sister to Strossvald. It’ll be much safer.”
Anya blinked at you, looked almost bored. “Hey. Look. You’re being all funny about this. I can take care of myself, so can sis, even though she’s a stupid bitch, she has iron in her. We’ll be fine, so don’t piss about with this wishy washy maybe you should do this or that. I’m not interested in just going and working for stuffy nobles, I’ve had enough of working with people I don’t click with.” She leaned on the bar, holding a sausage roll in her other hand, “Don’t pussyfoot around. Do you want me to come back with you? I’ll do that. That seems fun. If you don’t, I’ll stick around here, thank you very much.” She took a bite, but made sure to actually finish chewing this time before saying her next piece. “So you know, in case you’re not being all cagey for nothing, and you’re just not sure if you want to drag me along, I’ll tell you my deal. I ain’t interested in getting killed for bullshit. If it turns out that you drag me into a thing where we’re just supposed to get killed? I’m out. That’s all, really. Not that unreasonable, yeah?”“You didn’t seem to have a problem with trying to get yourself killed earlier,” you pointed out, “I don’t think you’ve even demanded a reward, for…well, you walked into enemy territory, alone, and could have been killed a hundred different ways. Why? For the Republic? I doubt it.”Anya bit her lip. “Keh. Who cares? I wanted to do it. I’ve only known you for a day. Why I do what I do is my business, you’re not cool enough for me to spill my guts to you. Back to what I was asking. Do you want me to come with you, or not? Yes or no, no bullshit about if I want or what I feel. I’m not coming if you don’t want me around, I don’t need you. If I’m not wanted I’m just as happy to piss off somewhere else. You just seem like you’re going somewhere…interesting. Seriously, where you’re from, your blood, what’s happened around here, it seems like you’re the kind of guy who gets into trouble. The sort of trouble I like.”>No, that’s fine. I was only saying it was an option; you can stay here.>I’ll be honest, if you weren’t awake then I would have just had you carried back to Strossvald. You’re coming with me.>You’re too much a wild card for me to bet on. How about you tell me why you went into the mouth of the beast, and then I’ll take you. >Are you hitting on me? (No, she isn’t.)>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.This is a bit of a continuation from the last vote from the previous thread, which was tied, so I'll keep this vote going a while so it's fair.
>>2660731>I do, but I can't in good conscience bring a suicidal person to a fight. Staying alive is part of your job. How about you tell me why you went into the mouth of the beast, and then I’ll take you. If she doesn't care about her sister we'll just go ask her herself if she wants to come along. We'll dump her somewhere in the Blumlands and Anya can follow us around and get shot at and be none the wiser. Anya obviously isn't going to take well to appeals to emotion so fuck that.
YAY! We were mentioned to the Archduke!>>2660844SupportingShe's earned the chance for a better shot at life. If for no other reason than to reward her stupid, stupid bravery with Hagen.
>>2660731>>No, that’s fine. I was only saying it was an option; you can stay here.
>>2660731>>I’ll be honest, if you weren’t awake then I would have just had you carried back to Strossvald. You’re coming with me.
I just found your quest today OP and am currently catching up in the archives rn, but let me just say I am in love with the world you created.>Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Tank edition>Some James Bond shit too>Splash of Hellboy>drawfaggotry>good writing and characters11/10 desu.
>>2660731>>No, that’s fine. I was only saying it was an option; you can stay here.But honestly why be a criminal when people can pay you to do the same work legally lel.
“I do want you to come with me,” you told Anya, “But I can’t in good conscience bring a suicidal person to a fight. Staying alive is part of your job. As much as I might want to take you, I can’t, unless you tell me why you did what you did. Else next time you go on a foolhardy adventure by yourself I won’t know what to do.”Anya opened her mouth, closed it again, and repeated that several times, looking more frustrated with each repetition. Eventually she put her hand on her chin and leaned on the bar. “Fuck’s sake. Look, I’m not suicidal, I’m not trying to kill myself or anything like that. I’m just,” Anya struggled for words, and muddled a few trying to come up with some, “I’mma, ergh, itsahjjeeeeehh,” She furrowed her brow, closing her eyes tight, before breathing a long sigh. “Okay. It’s like this. Have you ever really admired somebody? Wanted to be just like that person? Do anything to just make that person notice you, or respect you, to please them?” Anya’s eyes were fire as she ranted on, “That was your uncle, for me. Maybe nobody’d say he was that close to me, but I was that close to him. You get it?” Anya gestured to herself excitedly, face screwed up and angry, “Only the Judge Above knows who my dad was, and my mother was some useless whore. There’s only one person I consider my real parent, and he wasn’t a person who’d be impressed, with somebody, who just-“ Anya’s cheeks had turned red and hear eyes began to water, but she stopped herself and took a few seconds to compose herself, and she was soon stoic as a stone once again. A sarcastic stone, at least.“I wasn’t taught to be a pansy. I saw something I could put everything into to help a lot of people, and I didn’t hold back. I don’t know how you came to be around here, but however it was, when you still had a chance to turn back, did you half ass anything?” You shook your head. “I figured not. You ought to get what I mean, then, right? It doesn’t matter if you get right in the thick of it and you aren’t safe and cozy anymore. When you’re in a place where only you can do what’s got to be done, what else do you do other than do it?”“…I suppose so,” you still weren’t sure if Anya had it all together. “So you thought there wasn’t any other option than to disregard any advice from others regarding medical treatment or basic concern for your health?”Anya smirked wickedly at you. “What would you have done if I didn’t?”“I would have figured something out.”“Yeah, I bet you would have. Too bad I figured out something first, huh?”
Well, she had told you what her motivation had been. What could you do but admit defeat on that front? “Fine then. I’m satisfied,” you said. You reached over to take a chocolate cookie, but Anya slapped your hand away again.“Hey. No. That’s for Alina. Uh, my sister, I mean.”“We’ve met,” you said, “She was worried about you taking off from the Hospital. Maybe we should go back and see her once you’re done?” It wouldn’t be long, with how Anya was progressing with the food.“Sure, yeah.” Anya said dismissively. “…When’re we heading out? Soon, I hope.” Soon was about right.-----“I couldn’t help but notice earlier,” you asked Anya as you both started heading back, her collection of chocolate sweets and treats crammed in a small paper bad, “You got all those for your sister, but you also called her a stupid…well…”“A stupid bitch. Yeah.” Anya said as though it were nothing.“She’s your sister, why do you call her that?”“’Cause she’s a stupid bitch, duh.” Anya snipped at your question testily, “You’ve known her for even less time than you’ve known me, so just trust me. Alina is a retarded idiot bitch, but she’s still my sister, I still love her. She’s family. Got it?”“I just don’t think you should call a sibling something like that.” Though you had no siblings, maybe it was just normal? “If you’re coming along, we can just as easily take her too.”“Uh. Sure.” Anya didn’t seem sure, “I’ll have to talk her into that though. See, she’s…uh, sort of staying with the mayor of that village you shot up. She might come, but she also, er, might not.” She added another thing quickly, “What, do you just go around collecting women wherever you go?”A question better not thought about. “I was just thinking of dropping her off somewhere, maybe with friends. It’d be better than staying here, right?”“Maybe.” Anya said skeptically. “Not like I know. Haven’t been outside this country in my life.”
The two of you quickly returned to the medical tent, where Alina was waiting. Upon seeing Anya, she ran over and…smacked her upside the head.“Anya, you nitwit!” she scolded, “You’re not supposed to be walking around, you’re too hurt!”Anya pulled Alina’s hair right above her face and slapped her right back. “I bet hitting me really hurts, you dumb slut!” She drew back and backhanded her sister with the same hand.Alina struggled, until she drew back and punched Anya right in the stomach. Anya folded over with a harsh oof. “Urgh, yeah, right in the god damn bullet hole,” Anya groaned on the ground, on her hands and knees. She had been shot in the belly- but it had been a ricocheting shot from sliding off of a joint in her armor plate vest, and had shallowly glanced up, only passing through some tissue and nothing major. “Uh, oh,” Alina was struck dumb, “I-I’m sorry, are you-“ As she bent down, Anya yanked her down to the ground and slammed her sister’s face into the dirt, before heaving herself up and sitting on her back.“I win.” Anya declared. “Here,” she shook the bag of sweets next to Alina’s head as she picked her face off the ground, “I got you a few things. Well actually, he got you a few things.”“…Thanks,” Alina said bitterly, “Can I get up now?”“Say uncle.”“Uncle.”You were still stunned; this had happened so quickly and out of the blue that you’d done little but stand there and watch. Was this normal? You could only presume it was from how they laid off one another as quickly as they’d begun fighting.“Hey, babyface.” Anya looked to you again, “You don’t mind leaving us alone for a bit, do you? I have to…talk those things over with sis.”Alina stumbled back up, looking at you with confusion, but clutching the bag of chocolate snacks.>Alright, but only if you two promise not to kill each other while I’m away.>I think I’d better do the talking, if you don’t mind.>What’s there to talk over? She’s coming with us. Leaving her here would be irresponsible whether she likes it or not.>Fine, I’ll go. But what the hell was that? Do you do that all the time, or are you not quite that crazy?>Other?>>2661947Wow, that's...quite flattering, I have to say. I really appreciate it, but I can only hope I don't disappoint in the face of such praise.
>>2662253>>Alright, but only if you two promise not to kill each other while I’m away.
>>2662253Lol I'm still reading. Just don't let urself and the quest die on us and I'm good.
>>2662258He's already done that before
>>2662262If he comes back tho it's all good
>>2662253>>Alright, but only if you two promise not to kill each other while I’m away.>>2662266
>>2662253>Alright, but only if you two promise not to kill each other while I’m away.
>>2662253Real tho tanq, you write well, the setting is real fucking neato and there is no one in the cast that I don't like. Everyone with a name has been interesting, you're consistent with their speech patterns and word choice and they really feel different from each other. That's not an easy feat.And you know how to draw chicks
>>2662580When we leave that character portrait will get an updatewith a hole in her head
>>2662584Stop bullying Signy anon.
“Alright, but only if you promise to not kill each other while I’m away,” you made a show of false wariness; these two had known each other far longer than you either of them, who were you to question their way of interacting?“Yeah, great,” Anya made a flicking motion with her fingers, “Now shoo! Get outta here!”-----Transporting well over two hundred people and the supplies needed to sustain them even for a day required an impressive amount of trucks; your involvement was minimal, but you had gone to check on the final steps being taken while Anya dealt with her familial problem. The atmosphere was one of relief, but also of incredible doubt. There was no questions that these people’s rescuers were their countrymen; their dialect was right, they knew the right answers to testing questions, and they were going to be heading back west, but the people came up with new concerns to replace the old. They had no forms of identification, no paperwork, could they come back over into the homeland officially, or would they have to sneak in? An easy question to answer. When you had first set out from within Valsten in the Intelligence Office Cell’s commandeered base, you had been given a healthy amount of documents, not only for traversing Valsten and East Valsten, but for your return home as well. You had also counted on a decent amount of support once you did return, but if none came, you did have enough to be recognized for who you were. Granted there was no explicit protection against the perceived crime of desertion, but such a thing wouldn’t be used against you, right?Though a dark thought on that subject tried to surface itself, there were other preoccupations to distract from it. Such as the new engine in your m/32. You’d heard it being tested a few times while it was being installed, but being up close and personal let you know more intimately how much healthier your tank sounded, the coughing and sputtering now replaced with reassuring rumbling and growling. Your tank was still well worn out; spare tread was practically depleted and Malachi communicated (the subject matter was technical enough that you needed help deciphering his speech) that the transmission, though tuned up, was probably in need of a complete replacement when you returned to Strossvald from the way it was acting. It had done a lot of driving, especially for a tank that wasn’t famed for having the most durable of internal functions. It was confirmed that it would certainly make the trip home, at least- your connection to a territorial lord was a boon here, since you’d be able to have this tank repaired and returned to you and nobody else. No shenanigans like with the Hellfire Shells would be repeated, especially not with how different this tank now was from any other model of m/32.
Anya came out in short time, looking mightily frustrated and annoyed.“Come on.” She said murkily, “I’m ready. Let’s get the hell out of this dump.”“Is she coming?” you asked.“What do you think?” Anya demanded irritably, “She doesn’t want to go. Stupid reasons. I’m not going to force her, it’s her dumb life, her dumb village, she can stew in it if that’s what she wants.”“So, no, then. You don’t seem alright with that.”“You know what’ll happen if I try and drag her along, don’t you? She’ll do her best to go right back to that dusty pile of piled up trash and bricks.” You hadn’t considered this a possibility, but in hindsight it did make sense, considering the relation… “I’ve said my goodbyes, more than I got the last time I left for a while. We’ve been apart for years before, she’ll be fine. Hope she’s happy with her pile of crap town in whatever the hell this place turns into.”If Anya was fine with it, at least fine enough with it that she was only complaining, then you supposed everything was all right. Hopefully the Republic would turn into something better, though considering what Sosaldt was, it would be difficult for it to not turn out better in time, in your humble opinion.“…Hey, you know where my plate went?” Anya said suddenly, “I lost track of it after yesterday. Shit.Did one of your guys pick it up?” “I’ll ask. What do you want that heavy thing for anyways? Surely you aren’t thinking of putting it on right now.” Anya gave you a look that indicated that would indeed be the case. “You shouldn’t even be walking around right now, let alone with…how much did that thing weigh?”“I don’t know,” Anya thought a second, “Maybe five, six kilos? Might be heavier.”“You almost bled to death!”“I don’t need blood if I’ve got piss and vinegar,” Anya said confidently. You gave her a push. “Hey, watch it!” Anya snapped, though her talk was a lot tougher than the rest of her from how she swayed after a rough tap; if you pushed her hard she surely would have fallen over.“Piss and vinegar indeed.” “Screw off.”“Richter?” Maddalyn approached, coming out suddenly from the other side of the tank you and Anya had been talking by. She stared at Anya. Anya stared back. You wouldn’t have been surprised if Maddalyn’s skin began to frost, so cold was the stare she gave.Anya didn’t notice, or more likely, didn’t care. “Hey, short stuff. Okay, look here. I’m sorry I dunked you, alright? I didn’t know you were afraid of drowning or whatever it is.”“Richter,” Maddalyn said to you, “What is she doing here?”
“Hey, don’t ignore me, runt,” Anya snapped, “I’m trying to apologize to you here, you know how many people I’ve done that for? I can count them on one goddamn hand.”Maddalyn glanced over briefly with a half shut eye, like she was acknowledging an annoying child for but a moment. “Richter, that woman is…”“Know what? Fine. I get the deal.” You expected Anya to get angrier, but she betrayed that prediction and cooled off instead. “I’ll just piss off somewhere else, ask if anybody’s seen the plate myself. I’ll come back later and see if her freakin’ highness still has her panties in a bunch.” She sullenly buried her hands in her pockets and walked away, taking long, wide steps as Maddalyn continued to stare coldly until she was good and far away.Was Maddalyn shaking? You put a hand on her shoulder and she jerked slightly, but put her own hand on yours, and her breathing evened out. “We’re going home, finally…” Maddalyn sputtered.“So long as there’s as few hangups on the border as possible.”“That won’t happen.” Maddalyn said firmly, “We’re crossing…I think you said the border of East Valsten and Strossvald? Von Grunnveld’s lands. Perhaps I am not favorable in the eyes of my family, but I am still a Von Blum, and in the line of succession. If either Von Grunnweld or anybody under them causes trouble, they will be made to regret it.”It was true that, despite not having actual administrative authority, the family of a territorial lord could still wield great influence wherever they were in Strossvald; such was the machinations of the courts, not that you had ever paid much attention to them. Though Maddalyn was just sort of pretending what had just happened, hadn’t.“Maddalyn, Anya is coming with us,” you told her, “She’s distinguished herself in battle, and she’s not interested in staying here. She could be a valuable asset.” Your fiancée was silent. “She’s proven herself as an ally. Whatever happened between you is in the past.” More silence; Maddalyn only grabbed harder onto your hand on her shoulder and squeezed it.>You really should go and accept her apology. You can catch up with her pretty easily if you head over there.>Dear, this is ridiculous. She’s not going to disappear because you don’t like her, you may as well get used to this.>She’s only around for business and the benefit of the unit. You won’t have to deal with her, she’ll hardly even be around. Will that be all right?>Other?
>>2663255>Other?Maddy you cant keep acting like this whenever I work with another woman. She's coming along, my uncle treated her like a daughter, and the least I can do is to try and get her a job in Strossvald. Its not like she'll be riding with us on the way backAnons are totally gonna make her ride in the tank with us
>>2663255>>Dear, this is ridiculous. She’s not going to disappear because you don’t like her, you may as well get used to this.You don't have to forgive her, but she went above and beyond the call of duty that helped save these people and free the city, she deserves a chance to make amends with us. Just promise me that in the likely few moments that you run into her it doesn't turn into a shootout. Yes anon, yes we absolutely are.
>>2663255>>2663804Yea that's reasonable. She really doesn't need to be in our tank on the way back.
“Maddy,” you said with some exasperation, “You can’t keep acting like this whenever I work with another woman.”“Acting like what?” Maddalyn’s mood darkened immediately, then softened and became almost embarrassed. “No, I mean, it’s…it’s…” Maddalyn drew her hand down and touched her fingers together nervously, before looking away, “I’m just…you know…She’s…”“She’s coming along. My uncle treated her like a daughter, the least I can do is try and bring her to a better place than here. It’s not like she’ll be riding right beside us all the way back. You don’t have to forgive her if it’s too much, but she went above and beyond the call of duty to help save these people and liberate Todesfelsen from its masters, she deserves a chance to make amends. You won’t have to see her often, just promise me in the few moments you might run into her, you won’t be too upset.”“I’m alright with her being around, if she’s…” Maddalyn didn’t finished that thought, but she moved onto the next one quickly enough. “She was talking with you, I don’t like…I don’t want…” Maddalyn let her hands fall to her sides, “Never mind.” Never mind. Maddalyn wouldn’t try and distract you with her problems, it seemed, but at the same time you did wish she wasn’t so inclined to say nothing, or hide her thoughts. “…Your uncle treated her as a daughter, hm. So she’s like…you’re cousin. Alright.” Maddalyn was saying this to herself, but you felt the need to interject anyways. “Well, it’s not like we’re related in the slightest, but I suppose so.” A moment of quiet. “So would you please stop biting the heads off of any girl who comes close? We’re going up to the castle courtyard one more time to say goodbye to Lord Wossehn and Signy. And Loch. Signy doesn’t have anything against you, so if you could…”“But she…fine.” Maddalyn sagged some, “Fine. I won’t be rude to her.”“Thank you,” you bent down and kissed her on the cheek while squeezing her shoulders, “Signy’s a good woman. You should part on friendly terms. Come now.” You stepped to be beside her.“Is Anya a good woman?” Maddalyn wondered blankly. She yelped as you smacked her on her bottom in response to that.
“Hello, Richter!” Signy waved as you approached, and Maddalyn reflexively held on to your arm, but you trusted her to ease up. Signy was at the gates of Wossehn’s castle, accompanied by its owner (dressed in hideously foppish bright green), and a couple of people who you didn’t know but recognized as being associated with Loch. “Sorry we don’t have a ceremony set up or anything, but I hope this is enough.”“This will do just fine,” you reassured her with a slight bow. “If it’s necessary, I can come back at some later date.”Signy smiled sweetly, eyes closed, and titled her head. “Of course. Though…I wish I could give you a medal or something, hee. You do deserve one. I guess, when everything gets all together properly, I can personally request the Archduke to recognize you. The perks of being a national leader and all that.”“While you endure the postponement of honorable award,” Lord Wossehn announced, bowing deeply himself, “Lady Vang has seen fit to reward you in another way, in the form of shares in Wossehnalia Transportation.”“Wossehnalia Transportation?” You repeated, “Is that your company?”“Not yet! It will be yet another, in the near future. A gentleman gave me the idea; with the lands of the Republic united, what better way to link it all, as well as connecting it to the rest of the world, than with a railroad network? Needless to say, with only a bit of good luck, when you make a pilgrimage back to this place once more, you may find yourself with quite a significant boost in capital! What a wise investor you are, Lord Von Tracht.” Lord Wossehn beamed at his own humor.“You’re always welcome here, if you ever feel like you want to come back,” Signy added on, “The Republic will never turn down a visit from its first Kommandant. Although…” She said, growing less glad, “I can’t say I’m too happy that you have to leave. I guess it’s great and all that this place’s future is looking so bright, and father would be happy that his dream of a new republic has been finally borne into the world, but…” Signy’s smile completely vanished and she half closed her eyes, morose and melancholy. “I get more and more powerful, I learn more and more, but as I keep going on, all the friends I used to have leave me. My friends from way back when, who used to protect me…I haven’t seen them in a while, and I’ve heard they’ve gone back. Like they’re afraid of what I’ve become. To be honest…” Signy looked down, “I’m afraid too. You’re going, Loch’s going, I’m afraid that eventually, I’ll be all alone.”“Perish the thought, dear!” Lord Wossehn clapped Signy on the back with a huge hand and guffawed, “As extravagantly as I persist in living, I do not anticipate passing away until at least seventy years more time! Surely you will have some time to reconnect and socialize in the time before I go to have my sins weighed.”
Signy smiled slightly. “Of course.” Though you supposed she wanted to maintain connections with those she’d met and grown closer to before she had become what she was now; in a way, you understood. She wanted to still be Signy, instead of fully become Cyclops, so to speak. She straightened up, muddled her mouth awkwardly, and steadily closed her hand to form a thumbs up before thrusting it at you. “I’ll be fine! Next you come back, you’ll never want to leave, it’ll be so good!” She looked down to Maddalyn and smiled at her too, “It’d be an honor for Miss, er, milady?”“…Miss is fine.” Maddalyn allowed.“Oh, pardon me,” Signy held her hand to her mouth, “Missus Von Blum, it’d be an honor if you were to visit as well. Try as we might, we still lack for sophistication in these lands.”Maddalyn sighed only slightly. “Thank you.”“Loch isn’t here?” you noticed.“No,” Signy said, “He said he would be occupied, and that he already got everything he needed to you anyways. Whatever that might be.” The box, of course. Though apparently he felt that he didn’t need to say farewell. Just as well, considering you didn’t like his brand of strangeness, but on the other hand it made you wonder if that was because he was intent on surprising you in the future, even worse, in the near future… “Here’s hoping you’ll never have to be Kommandant again, yeah?” Signy smirked at you, “I shouldn’t keep you much longer.” Signy took you by the hand, “Thank you for all you’ve done, and extend that thanks to all your people as well. I really hope we’ll see each other again.”You clasped her hand back. “It was an honor. I never met Sigmund Vang, and I don’t know much about him, but I’m sure he would have been proud of the daughter he had.” Signy smiled, sniffed, and wiped at an eye. “Goodbye, Signy. I’ll be back in time for the fun to start.”After that last handshake, you saluted, bowed to both her and Lord Wossehn in turn, and then departed, feeling fully confident that you would have no trouble fulfilling such promises that you’d implied.“How about it, Maddy?” You asked your fiancée as you proceeded back to camp, “Honeymoon here?” You ruffled her hair when she only responded with an indecisive noise through closed lips.
“Are we all ready, Captain?” you asked Honnrieg upon returning.“All loaded up, everybody’s chomping at the bit. On your order, Lieutenant.”The plan was to drive back to Rostig, pick up Fie and a few other things left there, then proceed to the north and west to finally make it back to Strossvald. The trip wasn’t too long, and you anticipated being in Strossvald again by, at latest, the afternoon. The question of where to go in Strossvald would be left up to command when you mercifully surrendered the reins to a long absent higher authority. If you had anything left to do around here, now would be the time to think of it, you thought before you considered giving Honnrieg the order to move out.…Also, you couldn’t help but think, your mission was to retrieve the hostages…should you be careful about going back in yourselves, though? At least not without some communication. Was it empty paranoia, or was it merely being careful? Would it look suspicious to be careful? It was probably nothing. Were you to give it more thought, though…>Anything brief you want to take care of?>Let’s moseyAlso>Head straight out, only stopping for a rest and pickup in Rostig before leaving>Stay in Rostig, since it’s close to the border, and send a small escort to hand over the hostages, while staying in the Republic for now; you’d try and establish outside contact to Strossvald, just to…clear things up. [Suspicion that might make your mind wander…dangerously.]>Other?
>>2664643>>Head straight out, only stopping for a rest and pickup in Rostig before leavingLet's go.
>>2662580It's always a bit odd to look at my old stuff, though usually the subject matter isn't...well that.In any case I appreciate the feedback, it's something I actually get concerned with a lot, especially when it comes to characters who haven't had time to develop or really get to know from the protagonist's point of view.
>>2664643>>Let’s mosey>>Head straight out, only stopping for a rest and pickup in Rostig before leaving
>>2664643>Head straight out, only stopping for a rest and pickup in Rostig before leaving
>>2664643Head straight to the border, but we need to find a way to distinguish ourselves as not hostile. Raiders normally come from from Sosaldt, the last thing we need is to be fired upon.
We should have repainted our tanks back to Strossvald colours if we haven't already.
>>2664643>Anything brief you want to take care of?Show Hilda to Fie. I'm worried about that "empty space" Emma found in her presence.>Other: stay in Rostig, since it’s close to the border, and send a small team to "establish communications with Strossvald and organize further transportation and temproary lodgings"
>>2664643>Anything brief you want to take care of?Get the gold we stored in Wossehns bank. I feel like we should divy some up for the men, they've definitely earned it. Although I don't know what would be fair.>Head straight out, only stopping for a rest and pickup in Rostig before leavingEven with the suspicions both we and Richter have, I don't think he's so far down the rabbit hole to justify anything beyond Duty. He's already said that he will accept responsibility for the expedition. And besides, it's just all in our heads right?Right?
>>2665843I can't wait to be part of that penal battalion that will be commanded by some green noname officer who's married or about to be married into one of the great families.
>>2665843Haha I don't believe that for a second. Honestly perhaps our brainwashing has something to do with our graduation from the academy as Senior Lt. instead of Junior. Something must've happened I'm sure
“Let’s mosey,” you told Honnrieg. “We’re only going to stop at Rostig briefly before heading back over to Strossvald. Ideally we’ll keep ourselves from looking like enemies when we’re trying to come in. Did any of your men happen to find the paint I wanted?”“It’s not quite the right shade of blue, but it’ll have to do,” Honnrieg said, “Not like that trick hasn’t been tried by bandits anyways. Our best bet is to approach slowly, in the open, under a white flag. One thing bandits don’t like doing at all is being seen and prepared for.”“In any case, I’ve missed the old colors.” The brown color the Republic used was just a few shades off from being the Imperial Russet the Grossreich used for its vehicles. “We don’t look particularly like brigands, do we?”“Too well equipped, for one. Cross border raids tend to either be on foot or on bikes, motorcycles. Maybe cars or trucks. The guys up north at least only bring out the heavy artillery when you follow them back. Like I said, Lieutenant, so long as we do our best to not be suspicious, we won’t spook the border guards too much.” Honnrieg chuckled to himself, “No more than a bunch of tanks popping up would spook them already, at least. It’s not the northeast edge, let alone the Cauldron. There won’t be some hotshot in a fighter looking for somebody’s day he can ruin, no hunting teams looking out for Netillian Rangers on prowl. Not getting shot’ll be cake.”What could you do but trust the veteran? You nodded, saluted, then went to mount up in your tank.“Hans,” you started, “Tell the platoon we’re moving out within two minute’s time.”“Er…” Maddalyn’s thin, squeaky voice answered you on the intercom. “He isn’t here, but I’ll do it.” When did she get in here? Oh well, it wasn’t particularly important, so long as all this was finally getting over with. The gold was all accounted for, stored safely in your tank. Time to go.
The sun was bright as the sun rose proper, while you and your band traveled the dusty path back to Rostig, trailed by an assembly of trucks, quite a few ones that you’d not come with. Some people rode atop the beaten up fuel carrier that had serviced your platoon the whole way here; its reserves long drained. With the disposal of rations and the expenditure of all the spare ammunition, plenty of space had been freed up for the hostages to come along, but with well over two hundred people, even with the trucks packed tight you had still needed to borrow from the Republic. A potentially heartening sight passed you by; a small clutch of trucks heading the direction opposite of you; their colors were recognizably Republic; a military convoy, no doubt; a sign of control being established over once lawless lands. No gangs of armed children harried you, nor were there obstacles or ambushes at all. Passing by a settlement outpost, you noticed that the occupants still appeared to be local militia; yet they wore pieces of Republic uniforms. Perhaps change would come sooner than thought, if the once squabbling settlements were supportive enough of the new nation to adopt its identity among its fighters so quickly. Or perhaps it was an agreement, or maybe even a move to garner favor. What mattered, you supposed, was that they wore the uniform at all; a declaration of whom they stood alongside when it came down to life or death. At least in theory. It would have to be seen if the Republic would be allowed to age, or if the loyalty of its inhabitants would be tested forthwith. Rostig was arrived at, looking empty as you left it as many of the former Guillotines that populated it had left, leaving minimal security alongside the civilians, yet the pile of migrant abodes in the settlement that lingered just outside the center of town had only ballooned in size. You got the platoon to what passed for vehicle maintenance, and the fuel of the vehicles was topped up, and the tanks were washed clean to prepare them for painting. Your schedule wouldn’t allow the paint to stick as long as recommended, but it would at least by mostly dry when you set out again.The wet paint looking convincingly blue, though as Honnrieg said, it wasn’t quite right. Of course, none of your tanks had crests either; a Strossvalder army observer would notice this, since what they looked for right away after type and coloration were identifying emblems (it was quite important to the lords whose battalions were which), but this was only meant to be a light layer of defense against alarming the Grenzwacht anyways. One that you’d hope wouldn’t be needed, though it would have been absolutely an indignity to be shot by a green scarf of all things so it was reasonable to check against whatever could go wrong with your reentry.
Fie was found again, though it took more than a little effort to isolate her, in spite of her unique appearance and a whole team of searchers going out, including yourself; as far as you knew there was only one green haired girl in the whole of Rostig and its surrounding communities, yet she’d done fantastic work of getting herself lost in the clutter.“Mister, you’re back!” Fie sounded incredibly relieved, “I was looking for something, but I…got lost.”“You got lost? When?”“…Last…night…” Fie answered reluctantly. You really didn’t have anything to say to that, and instead grabbed her by the wrist and started leading the simple young woman back to the rest of the group. “I don’t think I’ve eaten since then, so if…”This place wasn’t very big; it was clustered and twisting, but if one walked far enough in one direction it wasn’t difficult to make one’s way through. You supposed it was possible to get lost in, if one had the navigational skills of a young child. Though you still couldn’t say for sure if Fie was naïve, unfamiliar with how to deal with life outside of her mountain village home, or if her brain was a consolation prize. In spite of that, she had knowledge of spirits that was uncommon, and you had promised to take her into Strossvald so she could reach another clan of mountain people; maybe because she was a decent looking young woman, more likely out of pity.“So what were you looking for?” you asked as you were leading her out.“Er, a glass bottle for…hot spring water. It’s useful to have…since it draws harmful presence out of the body, since it has the aspect of earth…I think…I dropped the one I had and broke it…”“Do you particularly need a new one? Actually, didn’t you have a good…what, fifteen marks? Why haven’t you eaten?”“Err…” Fie looked embarrassed, “…The people who were looking after me before, they saw me buy something…so the man forced me to pay for…all the stuff I ate, and that was…a lot. If I didn’t pay he said he’d make me use my body to get his money…I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t want to find out…” She looked at her hand like it had been saved from being chopped off and stewed, ”So I…lost…all…those…marks…”An involuntary, heavy sigh escaped from you. Part of you wanted to go and get that money back, but another told you that that money had probably been properly owed, and that it’d be better to just get this green headed lump back. There were a few things she could help with, namely in sating your curiosity concerning Hilda; namely, Hilda’s eyes. Emma had said that there had been an empty space in her presence there, and you wanted a second opinion on that- as well as what it meant, and what could go wrong with such a strange absence in energies.
>>2665890>spoiler>inb4 the green noname officer is us.
Fie looked about everywhere all the way back, her braids on the side of her head bouncing with every step. It was understandable that she’d have been taken this far; she was certainly endearing enough, but one couldn’t say when her simplicity would turn her from cute to irritating; presumably her last escorts had long passed that mark. When you’d come back, you dragged Fie before Hilda, who was loitering in the shade by herself, as could be expected. Emma was there too; whatever problem Hilda was having where she didn’t want to see Emma, was evidently irrelevant now. Maybe it was because you’d spent some time with Hilda?During the trip Hilda had sat on top of one of the trucks in a precarious position above the cabins, but she felt comfortable enough to have taken her mask off. The feeling of wind on her face must have been tempting enough to have risked somebody looking behind and seeing her. Her facial wrappings were back on now, though Fie could look at her eyes easily enough even so. You came up to Hilda, explained the situation, and Hilda allowed Fie to take a look at her.Fie immediately noticed the presence burns around Hilda’s eyes, the blackened flesh, the gray irritation, and asked after it. “These wounds…what happened? They look like…”“A wizard did it.” Hilda said dismissively.“A wizard…” Fie was troubled. She ran her fingers around Hilda’s eyes, over her lashes, then closed each one in turn. Hilda was very clearly starting to get annoyed with the prodding, until Fie was done touching and pushed close into Hilda’s face, trying to peer into Hilda’s eyes from as close as possible, before she reached a conclusion. “Her eyes…they had Earth Tears in them once. They’ve been removed…forcibly.”“Is that bad?” You asked, though you also recalled Hilda’s brother telling some cryptic tale that said something like that might have happened; now you knew for sure.“…It could be, if...it’s like this…a gap in your presence can be infiltrated. If there were…a spirit, and ember, for example…” Fie’s eyes flicked to Emma, “Who could exploit such a gap in her presence, and either dominate her will, or convince her to let it have control…they could possess her, despite being a weaker spirit.”>Interesting. Emma, would you mind testing this theory?>That doesn’t sound good. Can that be fixed?>I’m of the impression “spirits” aren’t anywhere close to being common enough for that to be a real concern, but educational anyways.>Other?
>>2665843>I feel like we should divy some (of the gold) up for the men, they've definitely earned it. Although I don't know what would be fair.I'll have to take a good look back to get all the numbers and such and wounded and everything since I still haven't learned to keep a handy set of notes for that sort of thing, but to help a bit, I'll remind that your total of gold bars in your backbreaking attache case is 51 bars of 50 grams of gold each. Now, there was some divvying up at the start of the mission, so like I said, I'm going to look back and get better numbers if you decide to go through with such a thing.
>>2666316>That doesn’t sound good. Can that be fixed?Also, Is there any way to protect against that if we can't?
>>2666316>>That doesn’t sound good. Can that be fixed?
>>2666316>That doesn’t sound good. Can that be fixed?And does it involve massages?
Writing now.>>2666326As an update to this, I checked back, each of the tank crew enlisted was given a gold bar each; 22 in all each getting one. Bat Company refused payment at the time, and your officers didn't take any at the time either.
“That doesn’t sound good,” you observed, “Can that be fixed?” Jokingly, you added, “Does it involve a massage?”“I don’t need any massages.” Hilda bristled.“Liar,” Emma chimed in, “You were complaining just earlier about all your muscles being sore and feeling all stiff and creaky.”“I don’t want a massage.” Hilda repeated, dryness doubling how firm she sounded.“No…” Fie broke back in, “That’s not how it would be fixed. Well, it wouldn’t be fixed…it would be…replaced. I don’t know…any other way…than replacing the missing spirits with other ones.”“Right. So where do we find Earth Tears?” you asked, “It wouldn’t be out of the question to buy them at a corner store, would it?”When Fie looked helplessly at you, Emma informed her, “He was kidding, oatmeal brains.”“Earth tears…I don’t know, but…they’re said to be born deep below the ground, and are carried up steadily, living in springs and underground pools…but they are very valuable spirits, very difficult to find, and even a place that had them once might not have them again…so I guess, the thing is, you can’t find them…”“Fantastic.” You crossed your arms and scoffed, “Even for something that’s not supposed to exist, it’s hard to find. Incredible luck. So what can we do to protect Hilda here from being possessed, or whatever?”Fie was uncertain, but after muddling her mouth and thinking, making sounds of pondering as though working the mechanisms of her mind manually, she finally said, “That space could be filled…with another spirit. Not just any, but…one that fits well.” She looked again to Emma, “One that knows what it’s doing…” Everybody gave her a discomforted look, and she added, “A possession only lasts as long as the spirit wishes, since the two presences…they’re incompatible, and the original presence is bound to the body. They can be expelled by the host…if they’re able to throw them out…but that takes a strong will…if you are…friends, then I suppose it would work…”“An option, then,” you concluded. Though it wasn’t like you anticipated running into any spirits or other such nonsense in the near future if you could help it, it was always good to be prepared. >Let’s have a test of that, then. I want to see it work.>That bridge would be crossed when it came about. For now, there was no risk.>Other?
>>2666608>Emma eyeballWhoaaa breh
>>2666608>>That bridge would be crossed when it came about. For now, there was no risk.That sounds like an exceedingly bad idea, especially if the original presence can't necessarily throw out the possessor.
>>2666608>>That bridge would be crossed when it came about. For now, there was no risk.
>>2666608>Now Hilda knows and it's up to her to decide.
>>2666608>That bridge would be crossed when it came about. For now, there was no risk.We've already approached this once, its a plan of last resort. I doubt Fie or Maddy can help explore this anymore safely then if/when the need arises.Fie thank you for your help, let's get in truck and roll out.
>>2666608I just have realized that stuffing Hilda's eyes with ghosts is the first step towards stuffing Maddy's boobs with ghosts. Maybe we should try it?
>>2666972say this out loud
That bridge would be crossed when it came about, you decided. For now, there was no risk, so there was no demand for experimentation, in spite of any curiosity.“Come along, then,” you told Fie, “We’ll get you in a truck. We should be ready to start moving again soon.” While you both walked along, you said furtively to her, “So the Earth Tears or whatever inhabit the eyes, yes? Are there any spirits that…inhabit other parts of the body?”“Well,” Fie said uncertainly, “…I suppose it’s fine to say. But most of these I’ve only read about. The Earth Tears are special, in that they inhabit the eyes…usually, a creature will go into a traditional presence well…a place where presence concentrates in the body, but it’s part fairy tale and part truth. There’s a spirit called a False Child…that’s supposed to be the souls of unborn children…they look for a new mother, and go into the womb, where it’ll…make you sick. There’s also the Gutsprout, which implants in the navel and grows on a person, though that doesn’t do much on its own…”“How about one that can be put somewhere more specific? Like, say…the breasts?” Fie looked at you like you had turned into a toad. “I’m asking for a friend.” You added quickly.“You have a strange friend…” Fie still looked frightened.“She’s been feeling funny lately.” A close shave; this would indicate a health problem. “Around…you know.”“Oh! Oh…Er, no, I’ve never heard of anything like that at all…but…is your friend pregnant?”“Huh?” you answered.“At home…part of the duties of my apprenticeship was being midwife, caring for children…when women are pregnant, after some time, they-““Oh, that must be it, then.” You said quickly; the answer you sought had been given anyways, and you didn’t really want a biology course from Fie. “Thank you. Thank you for helping with that other thing, too.”“You’re welcome…I do like helping people, but I usually just get in the way…”“I’m sure it’ll get better,” you said, completely disingenuous. “Go along, then. There should be space in that truck. If you’re hungry then ask one of my men going around for food, we have enough to spare.”-----“Maddyalyn,” you got back in your tank, “Any luck?” While you were staying, you had encouraged any radio operators to look for signals; you didn’t know what frequencies the southeast border used, nor their codes, but it wouldn’t have hurt to at least listen in for now.
“We found something, but,” Maddalyn didn’t sound pleased, “It’s all in codes. Not very good ones, they’re not using ciphers, they’re just talking…I can tell they’re talking about a few things whenever they send a report.”“You can?”“I told you I learned how to use these to listen to radio programs, right?” Maddalyn said over the intercom from down below in the tank, “The Reich is just across the border. Sometimes, when I was bored, I’d listen in on their transmissions, both civilian and military.”“Is that allowed?” Stein wondered.“Even if it wouldn’t be for most, it doesn’t matter for me.” Maddalyn said simply. “It doesn’t matter much anyways, all the transmissions on the west side are enciphered and scrambled, even the smallest reports. I never knew what they were saying. If it was just normal code, I would have figured it out.”Although you knew what radios were and how to use them, anything much further was an abyss you could barely look into. As a platoon commander you did use the radio often, and had learned to speak in code when necessary (practically any combat situation, considering that most of the continent of Vinstraga spoke the same language, or some derivative of it), but beyond that it was all a mystery. Ciphers, radio directional tracking, cryptology…they had all been concepts introduced to you in the academy, but none of it had stuck well. Tanks made sense, engines, oil, gunpowder, metal. Radios and such were as strange to you as the nature of their signals; invisible, inaudible waves, that somehow were turned into voices, print, codes. You’d seen mechanical cipher machines too, though not recently; clicking, whirring creatures that were fed gibberish by specialists and spat out more. You were a Lieutenant; you didn’t need to work with such things.However, the academy had taught about them anyways. Cryptology was seen as ignoble, ungentlemanly, but Strossvald’s commanders were perceptive enough to see that it wasn’t something that could be ignored. A class had been taught on it in the academy, headed by a weedy, strange man apparently from the Intelligence Office.“Do you all know what cryptology is, at its core?” he had asked the room, and without waiting for an answer, he said, “Analysis of memetics. Taking something as basic as how we communicate, and obscuring it, bending it, or the reverse, if the communications have been hidden in such a way. If you’ve learned another language, congratulations, you have practiced extremely basic code breaking. All a code is, after all, is another way of speaking. Impenetrable as they might be to a reader, they are even still meant to be read, to be understood. Ergo? Every code can be broken.”
Basic in principle, but the mechanics of it all made your head spin; natural, you supposed, otherwise everybody would have been breaking codes everywhere. It would have been nice to linger long enough to see if your technicians could figure out what was being transmitted by your unwitting allies, but Captain Honnrieg had assured you such things were unnecessary anyways, and you very much wanted to get moving as soon as possible in any case. It would have been nicer still if the Intelligence Office’s gift basket of kit to negotiate your return included radio codes and such, but in fairness, in the time you took they would have been obsolete anyways, and it would have been dangerous for them to fall into enemy hands before that.Nothing else to do now though, than go for it.----- “So everything is taken care of with the Von Tracht?”“Not everything, but now was not the time, in any case. I would have loved to have more time to work on him, but his precious little fiancée…ha, she very nearly figured me out, I suspect.”“The most dangerous conclusion any could come to is something that is logically impossible.”“Certainly, but it’s best to be safe, no?” -----North, north, and north you went. Out towards the northern reaches of the Republic, past the scattered agriculture of the White Eyes, putting Glockenblume in sight before turning towards Strossvald. With your fame with the White Eyes and deal with the Blue Barbs, you anticipated no trouble, and received none, besides acknowledgement from patrols and outposts. A careful watch was kept regardless. With little fanfare, the line between Strossvald and the Republic was reached; it was the border with Sosaldt as well, further north; the river Halecs. The Halecs river was shallow, wide, and generally indefensible, but it was the line which Strossvald had declared its conquest of Altoss complete. Its fording points were numerous; fortunate for you at the moment, but not good for security. The Grenzwacht of the eastern border were constantly busy.
A dust cloud. “Halt!” you ordered your crew. The order was transmitted, and the column steadily slowed and stopped. You took your goggles off and looked through binoculars; indeed, there were Grenzwacht; their green armbands and white trim hats gave them away as such. They were heading away, speedily, around five of them mounted on horseback. Horses were much used by the Grenzwacht; a boon for the army horse breeders of the country despite the cavalry fading away. Armored cars were used as well, but in places where mere foot patrols would not do, light cavalry still bore the brunt of duty.“Maybe they didn’t see us?” Maddalyn suggested when you fed her the report of contact.“They saw us.” You replied. There was no way they couldn’t have, with both the density of the group and the amount of dust kicked up by your movements. Though now that home was within sight…what to do?>Sit pretty. So long as you put up flags and look passive, somebody will come and investigate, or at least come close to you so you can come to them easier.>Mount in the PzA-19 and chase after the Grenzwacht that are departing; best to clear any misunderstandings as soon as possible, by catching up waving the flag of truce.>Keep marching right in; so long as you flew truce flags, you shouldn’t be attacked. This was your home, after all!>Have everybody remain here, save for a party on foot. You’d go look for an outpost, and without a vehicle you wouldn’t look as threatening.>Other?
>>2667692>“Certainly, but it’s best to be safe, no?”Loch is behind something. He might try to tie loose ends too.>>2667694>Sit pretty. So long as you put up flags and look passive, somebody will come and investigate, or at least come close to you so you can come to them easier.
>>2667694>>Keep marching right in; so long as you flew truce flags, you shouldn’t be attacked. This was your home, after all!Welcome home LT, time to kick back and relax.
>>2667694>Keep marching right in; so long as you flew truce flags, you shouldn’t be attacked. This was your home, after all!At 1/2 reasonable speed though, white flags waving. Anybody looking to intercept will wonder if we are attacking why we are going so slow. Just follow Honnreigs advice.
>>2667762He's the kaiser himself>>2666316>They’ve been removed…forcibly.”Waterboy really fucked that up. I mean, sure, it's really all on our own heads but damn.>>2667694>Keep marching right in; so long as you flew truce flags, you shouldn’t be attacked. This was your home, after all!
>>2668112Hilda didn't have spooky eyes from since you met her; the Riverman didn't take anything out. He just scorched her.Basically, she's been like that for a while.Anyways, writing soon.
I don't like how we're marching right in. I think we're putting too much faith in things going that smoothly. After all there are plots afoot involving us that might result in us getting fucked for being a loose end or something.>>2668112I am sure that's not far off, but I meant he is planning something with us. It might be one of the Reich rings that he's giving us or perhaps it's something psychological brainwash shit considering it says he's "working" on us which makes me suspicious.
You decided to carry on. This was Strossvald you were entering; your homeland, your master. With white truce flags raised high, you shouldn’t be attacked, no matter how suspicious any bordermen might be of this huge party. The vehicles all splashed over the river, low enough that such would have been child’s play even on foot, and with that you had officially accomplished your mission; the once lost hostages had been for the most part retrieved. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as having won Todesfelsen, but it was enough of a final victory that you were feeling altogether quite pleased, and not wanting to think of any mysteries or plots whatsoever.The pace was kept slow, leisurely; it would take a fool to think you didn’t intend to be seen. The low whine of an aircraft came, and you looked up, as did the other tank commanders; an observation plane floated above, no doubt curious, before departing. A good twenty minutes later, you spied a vehicle approaching; its own truce flag raised. The convoy was halted; and you awaited the vehicle, not bothering to contain how your pride puffed your chest out.A green scarf officer, about your age, stumbled out of the car. Probably a captain. He was of middling size, very slight, and wore round spectacles that did little to aid any imposing figure.“What in the…hell are you doing here? Who are you? You’ve no crest. Are you pretending to be of Strossvald? Turn around and go back from whence you came, you are trespassing on sovereign territory!”
Or what? you were tempted to muse, but you saluted instead; something that much surprised him. “I am Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht of the Army of Strossvald, officer of Panzers by the authority of his majest the Archduke, of Lord Von Blum’s 3rd Company of Panzers. I have come here with my command, the 5th platoon, along with over two hundred and fifty citizens of this nation. I request to speak with your commanding officer.”The Grenzwatch officer gaped at you. “That’s a funny story, you have any identification to go with that yarn?” You presented what the Intelligence Office had given you to pass as such. “…What the hell is this supposed to be? This isn’t identification, this is…” He adjusted his glasses. “I don’t know what this is. You wait right here, I need to talk with my superiors about this, “Lieutenant.” Move from this spot and…don’t test me!”Your eyes closed, so the border rat couldn’t see them rolling. Not that there were any plans to defy him; waiting here would do just as well.A good hour and a half passed before the same man returned; this time accompanied by a full platoon of armored cars, as well as a good platoon of cavalry; all with markings of the border watch; likely agood portion of the captain’s command. The Grenzwacht officer looked stern, and cleared his throat as he approached again.“Lieutenant,” he said clearly, “As well as, I presume, Lieutenant Von Metzeler, Junior Lieutenants Von Neubaum, Von Walen, Von Igel, Krause, and Captain Honnrieg. You as well as your men have all been declared deserters, and are accused of treason against his majesty the Archduke. A reward has been posted for your capture; and not a light one. As commander of this section of territory, by the authority of Lord Grunnveld, I am placing you under arrest. Forfeit all of your arms and equipment, and come with me, or I will use force to bring you before Lord Grunnveld.”>Oh, blow it out your ass. I demand to speak to your superior officers; I am no deserter, and certainly no traitor. I will not suffer the indignity of surrendering my arms to a glorified night watchman.>Very well, we surrender. Even though I do not see the purpose. You will take care of these people, as well?>Call up Maddalyn from the bottom of the tank.>Other?
>>2668529>Call up Maddalyn from the bottom of the tank.Sometimes being an Aristocrat has perks. If we just go along with him we risk being mired and buried under regulation and potentially betrayal (not "Intelligence pre-planned betrayal", just the usual credit hogging and opportunistic kind), if they really lay it on thick even with a Lady present then we go along with it. Better than starting up a firefight.
>>2668529>Call up Maddalyn
Maddalyn is strongest Pokemon
>>2668529>>Call up Maddalyn from the bottom of the tank.>I'm afraid I cannot surrender my equipment, as I am responsible for the protection of Lady Maddalyn von Blum, daughter of Lord von Blum of the Blumlands, and I cannot abandon my duty to her until I see her returned to her home. Or would you drag Lady von Blum before Lord Grunnveld in chains as well?
“A moment,” you told the Grenzwacht, “Maddalyn,” you said over the intercom, ”Lord Grunnveld’s men are giving me some trouble. They want us to surrender so they can place us under arrest for treason. Could you help with this.”“I thought this might happen.” You heard Maddalyn respond before she threw off the headset and climbed up, and out of the turret, before letting herself down and over.“I’m afraid I cannot surrender my equipment, as I am responsible for-“ you started to say, before Maddalyn hissed up at you.“Richter!..Don’t worry. I have this.” She began to walk towards the front.“Stop right there!” A soldier commanded, but Maddalyn turned on her heel, stood directly in front of the tank, and you could only imagine how dour her expression must have been when she spoke in a familiar, holier than thou voice and intonation of high nobility.“I am Lady Maddalyn Von Blum, third daughter of Barnabas Von Blum, Castellan of the Imperial Gate and Lord of the Blumlands. Cease your harassment of my companions this instant, or you as well as your lord shall be censured by the Von Blums, the courts of the west, and undoubtedly by the Archduke himself. Retract your declaration of arrest, immediately. Or will a mere rowdy band of peasants be responsible for offending the Von Blums?” Maddalyn threw both hands down, and shouted in the most shrill voice she could muster, “You will be thrown in prison for grievous contempt of nobility!” “Ah, buh,” the Grenzwacht officer was utterly baffled, “Uh. What? You…you can’t be…” He looked to one of his men, asked something furtively, and was curtly responded to. “You have no proof of being who you say you are, do you? Impersonation of a noble family is a crime, as well.”Maddalyn almost exploded.“How very dare you!?” The officer flinched, before a woman who didn’t even come up to his shoulder. “I will suffer your ill manners no longer.” Maddalyn placed a fist on her breast, “I demand my rights to Honor for Blood. If I am somehow not Maddalyn Von Blum, then slay me where I stand. If I am not Maddalyn Von Blum, then why hesitate? If you are wrong, then my companions will have every right to destroy your worthless, pathetic little rabble. They will feed you to ravens, and these men will walk whistling before my father to accept battle honors. Do you believe you can win that fight, should that happen? Do you really think that you can defeat Richter Von Tracht, who defeated the city of Todesfelsen and all of its warriors? Can you destroy the Von Trachts, whose progenitor rode alongside the Archduke and defeated the Grossreich? Just who do you think you are, and are you fools enough to believe that your pitiful host can defeat tanks?”
>>2668648Supporting Also mention all those citizens you saved.
Maddalyn threw down her hand furiously, “Make your choice! Tuck your tails between your legs and bring us before your superiors, make accommodations for our stay here, and beg forgiveness, or fall down and die so we are saved the trouble. Strike me down and I will relish my final moments as I watch every single one of you slavering buffoons suffer a wretched, bloody, end.”There was complete silence. The Grenzwacht captain looked to his men, utterly confused, pale, and sweating. Some furtive discussion, then a full minute later, he cleared his throat.“Very well, Lady Von Blum,” the officer conceded, “I, Captain Praeden, apologize for my…misconduct. I’ll escort you to Battalion Headquarters, and you can speak with my commanders.” Captain Praeden was obviously bitter, frustrated, but saw no other escape than to relent.“Good.” Maddalyn said harshly, voice still thin and weak from her former aggressive outburst, “I hope for your sake that your commanders’ behavior is more appropriate.”Praeden grumbled, and made a noncommittal request for you to follow him and to pardon him and whatever. A mere Von Tracht did not demand respect, after all. Maddalyn tugged on your jacket as she crawled back in, and as you sat down she sat herself on your leg.“That Honor or Blood thing,” you asked, “Is that an actual, real thing? I’ve never heard of it.”“Well…” Maddalyn said quietly, putting a finger to her lip, “It’s based on a special case of something that used to be a thing, but that’s now not something that’s really done anymore...”“Haahmotch wes bahllshet?” Jorgen asked from the side of the gun.“How much was…” Maddalyn deciphered Jorgen’s speech, “Oh, well, not all of it.” She shifted her position on your lap, and looked at you with what seemed like expectancy. “Was that to your liking?”>Don’t try something like that without telling me next time, I think I almost had a heart attack.>Very much so. Though I don’t think he likes us much now.>I’d rather you not throw your life down like a gauntlet. If we had to we could have just surrendered.>I think I'm a little aroused. (Utterly ungentlemanly)>Other?
>>2668763>I think I'm a little aroused. (Utterly ungentlemanly)>*wink*
>>2668763Greatly, although I too am going to have to apologize for my misconduct.>I think I'm a little aroused. (Utterly ungentlemanly)
>>2668763>>I’d rather you not throw your life down like a gauntlet. If we had to we could have just surrendered.
>>2668763>I think I'm a little aroused. (Utterly ungentlemanly
“Greatly,” you told Maddalyn, “although I too am going to have to apologize for misconduct,” You squeezed her upper thigh through her dress, “Because I think that performance left me a little aroused.” The statement had truth to it; Maddalyn’s rear was pushed into a good place. You pushed her hair aside and bit her softly on her ear.“Richter, please,” Maddalyn whined and pushed at you weakly, “Not here.”“Yeah, commander,” Stein piped up, “We’re a bit cramped here for that.”“Don’t be jealous, I’ll get to you later,” you scolded Stein as you gave Maddalyn’s ear some more love. Another more irritable push from her hand against your face and tearing at your other hand gripping her thigh made you call off your assault, but Maddalyn hadn’t been kissed yet today; she wouldn’t endure today without that being amended at some point, when she had the privacy she preferred.Forced back into a position of command though, as Maddalyn slid off from on top of you and descended into the hull once more, you popped out of the top and made ready to give the order to follow Captain Praeden’s staff car. He looked back at you once more with spite, before having the engine kicked over and holding a hand up to begin going.-----A decently long journey ensued, and you were soon in refreshingly greener territory, where farmland reappeared, though it was empty; the harvest had already come and gone, and for now the soil was recuperating. Sheep wandered about in fields, as did swarms of chickens and hogs. Wandering farmhands who still had no lack of chores waved as you went by, you apparently looking plenty the part of a proper Strossvalder despite nasty accusations, technically true as they were. The armored cars and horsemen remained beside the column, and one mounted infantryman was glaring at you ever other minute or so; all you could do was mug at him.Once you arrived at the Battalion headquarters, which was in a base built by a town whose name you weren’t informed of, the soldiers did their best to separate Maddalyn from you, presumably so she couldn’t cause more trouble, but she flatly refused every proposal and remained with you and the others. This was a source of great annoyance to the officers who had gathered; presumably you and the other officers weren’t wanted dead, you were deserters, not criminals who were so dangerous they needed to be destroyed, but you did have rewards on your head that would have likely been good bonuses, and if things went poorly for them here, they’d have no reward whatsoever as somebody else claimed them, at worst, or at best for you, you were saved by your friends in the Intelligence Office as they would come to clear up this misunderstanding.
Finally, a man wearing the epaulets and cap of a battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel, arrived. He was accompanied by a foppish looking man, likely around twenty five or some other later half of that. “Milord,” the battalion commander addressed the young man, now clearly a noble, “This is the girl who claims to be Von Blum.”“I see. Good day, Lady Von Blum. I am Bernard Von Grunnveld, second son of the Lord of Grunnveld…You look very much like your sister.”Maddalyn curtsied, and nodded. “My sister Mathilda Von Blum, yes. Well met, Von Grunnveld.” She was proper enough that it seemed the fury earlier had practically never happened.“My apologies for my mens’ behavior,” the lieutenant colonel bowed, “There has been great turmoil to the east, as of late. My men are justified in being cautious, easily alarmed, on edge…”“Yes, yes,” Bernard Von Grunnveld hurried his officer along, “They are hardly feeling gracious towards people coming from the eastern side, especially from outside of the country. Lady Von Blum, I would like to make a deal.” He gestured towards you and your officers, “These men, you know they are wanted, yes? You cannot protect them forever.”“I can’t?” Maddalyn asked, showing that she was being tempted back towards not being so diplomatic. Third daughter she may have been, so long as she was a direct descendant of the family she still could throw the political weight of the Von Blums like an artillery shell.“These men have been deemed deserters by the authority of the army of the Archduchy, Lady Von Blum. Perhaps if you were in the Blummlands, you could shelter them, but you are in Grunnveld territory, they trespassed in this land. My father’s land. Surely you will run out of options to hold out long before we run short of ways to imprison these criminals? But, wait, I am willing to negotiate. You are obviously protected these vagabonds for a reason, no?”“I am,” Maddalyn declared, “These brave souls attacked my captors, destroyed them utterly, and rescued me along with near thirteen score of Strossvald’s citizens who were abducted. They are heroes.”“They are deserters,” Von Grunnveld insisted, “Unless there is somebody that can be called that would be able to convince the army to reverse such a decision?”
“The Intelligence Office.” You said.“Pardon?”“The Intelligence Office,” Von Metzeler repeated what you said, “In Strosstadt, subordinate to the Archduke himself. Inform them that we have arrived, along with the people we rescued.”“I see,” Von Grunnveld scratched his chin, “Very well. My deal, then. I will place these men and their command in confinement. Comfortable confinement, not prison cells. These “hostages” that have been returned will be investigated, and similarly cared for. In the meantime, Lady Von Blum, you will agree to be cease obstructing my men and I in this matter, so long as we treat these people fairly. Is that acceptable?”Maddalyn didn’t seem certain, and she looked to you. “What do you think, Von Tracht?”“Yes, What do you think?” Von Grunnveld looked into your eyes, unnervingly so, “I am a loyal servant of the Archduke, as are you, no? This should be an acceptable compromise. After all, your sudden appearance has caught everybody off guard. Will you accept my deal?”>Of course. That sounds reasonable.>I don’t trust you, milord Von Grunnveld. I haven’t been treated with the respect I think I deserve, and I don’t think being confined is any improvement, no matter the conditions. I refuse. [Possibility of Trance Damage]>Lady Maddalyn Von Blum is my fiancée. I’d like her to remain with me, if possible, for…reasons.>Other?
>>2669063>>Of course. That sounds reasonable>>Lady Maddalyn Von Blum is my fiancée. I’d like her to remain with me, if possible, for…reasons.
>>2669063>Of course. That sounds reasonable>>Lady Maddalyn Von Blum is my fiancée. I’d like her to remain with me, if possible, for…reasons.
>>2669063>I don’t trust you, milord Von Grunnveld. I haven’t been treated with the respect I think I deserve, and I don’t think being confined is any improvement, no matter the conditions. I refuse.Fuck that. We're going to be cut off by the IO, I just know it. We gotta stay on our toes
>>2669063>>Of course. That sounds reasonable>Lady Maddalyn Von Blum is my fiancée. I’d like her to remain with me, if possible, for…reasons.
>>2669063>If you are truly going to treat us fairly, then surely there should be no need to ask Lady von Blum to cease obstructing your men, as there should be no misbehavior to obstruct, no? I see no reason why she shouldn't remain with me.
“Of course,” you said near instantly, “That sounds reasonable. Although, a request, Lady Maddalyn Von Blum is my fiancée. I’d like her to remain with me, if possible, for…reasons.”Maddalyn stiffened, then grimaced, and Von Grunnveld raised an eyebrow. “You did not mention this, Lady Von Blum.”“It wasn’t relevant.” Maddalyn muttered.“It seems relevant to me. Interesting. Very well, Von Tracht, I will allow your fiancée to stay with you.” He gestured towards the rear of the tent where you all where meeting, “You will be escorted to your rooms, and well-fed and cared for, of course. Any requests you have will be met the best they can. You are, after all, now guests.”-----“Richter,” Maddalyn held onto your arm, looking concerned as you were guided to your new quarters, “Why are you agreeing to this? Why are you taking me with you, as well? I can’t help if I’m stuck in a room.”“He promised to treat us fairly if we accepted this,” you explained, “So there is no longer any need for you to obstruct. In any case, since there’s no misbehavior to obstruct, there’s no need for you to obstruct them. Simple.”“You’re incredible trusting of these people…” Maddalyn said. “Are you feeling alright? Do you have a fever?”“If they are up to anything, the Intelligence Office will pull us out of it,” you said confidently back to her, “They can only keep us here for so long if the Capital comes around.”“…Right…” Maddalyn didn’t share your confidence. “And what if they don’t?”“What do you mean, what if they don’t? They have to.”Maddalyn didn’t say anything the rest of the way; she simply looked like she was lost in thought.“Your room’s here, sir, mam,” a Grenzwacht enlisted said, opening the door to what looked like a rustic inn and holding it for you, “For what it’s worth, I saw those people you say you rescued. All of them were saying the same story. Figure you’re not up to anything bad, but,” he shrugged, “I don’t make the rules.”He saluted anyways, and you saluted back, before taking Maddalyn in, followed by the soldier, of course. He showed you to your room, and then as you went in, he stayed out. Apparently, you, the officers, and the enlisted; all of the “deserters” would be contained here. The former hostages would be allowed to stay in a camp outside, and move relatively freely; which meant anybody who wasn’t actually a soldier would be out there, including Hilda (who Emma accompanied) and Anya, as well as Fie.
“My squad’s watching the place, so uh, don’t try anything funny. Just saying. The lady’s allowed out whenever. You can go out in the common room too, and there’ll be people you can ask for stuff there. Just don’t go out of the building without a guy with a green scarf.”“Of course.” You said. The man, nodded, then went and left. “See, Maddalyn? It’s fine. Private rooms and a common room for socializing. It’s a rather luxurious house arrest.”“Hm.” Maddalyn hummed, troubled. She closed the door, and went further in to look about the space. It had a place in front with a desk and chair; a study of sorts that took up most of the rooms’ area, a smallish bedroom with a bed big enough for two (albeit two sleeping rather intimately) with a tiny bookshelf that was very sparsely populated and a lamp and small drawer by the bed, and a bathroom with a shower and toilet and sink. A small table for two shared the study space, with wooden chairs.“So…” Maddalyn took a slow breath, “What now?”>Dear, we’re by ourselves in a room, we're back home, and it's worth celebrating. I think you know what’s next. (Throw her on bed, suggest what to do on it.) She doesn’t seem to be in a great mood.>You can stay here if you like, I’m going out to speak with my officers about a few things. (What?)>Can you go and bring any other non-soldiers over here, since you can move around? I need to see…(Who?)>Other?
>>2669249>>You can stay here if you like, I’m going out to speak with my officers about a few things.Ask about what they think of the current situation (von Metzeler especially) and whether they think we should bust out of here and drive on to the capital (or somewhere else). Also ask the same of Maddalyn since she doesn't seem comfortable with the situation.
>>2669249WE ARE WALKING STRAIGHT INTO A TRAP. I'm waiting for our friends to be shot and we get sent to the gallows before anons start bitching what is clearly pointers towards the very real possiblity of defamation, imprisonment, and death. >Other?>Send Emma to spy on Von GrunnveldDo >>2669260
>>2669263Well being hanged wouldn't be the worst possible outcome because then at least we could move on to playing Ghost Commander Quest full time.Good thinking about Emma though we should definitely do that.
>>2669249>Come along, I’m going out to speak with my officers about a few things.>Send Emma to spy on Von Grunnveld
Aw jeez. AW JEEZ! WE KNOW that the spooks were involved with kidnapping Maddy. WE KNOW. Why the hell would they want us back? We're a loose end. They WANTED us to help the Republic and they CLEARLY have intelligence assets in Sosadt despite mentioning that our mission was practically on our own. Seek political asylum in the Reich! The gift Loch gave us will probably get us in.
>>2668167I thought that his tactical nuke managed to sear the things out of her eyes or something. I know that he never assaulted her with a magical scalpel.---Why the fuck did you guys walk into this trap? Judge above...There's being trusting, and there's being stripped of our tanks, weapons and equipment and put in a pen in the middle of a military base.If this cunt of a lordling doesn't steal the hellfire shell then the Intelligence Office will. Fucking hell>>2669249>You can stay here if you like, I’m going out to speak with my officers about a few things.>Send Emma to spy on Von GrunnveldIt might be prudent to let Emma have a few words with Hilda and Fie too. Hilda can sneak into the mountains, if necessary. Seek allies of our officers. Honnrieg should have loyal friends that she can reach. As for Fie, we'll need to know if there may be some kind of plant magic she can pull off to, I dunno, sedate or knock out the compound? The officers hall? If there is /anything/ that can be done, Hilda can aid her in gathering what's necessary.
Also if the enlisted are sympathetic then the former hostages should be encouraged to sow dissent. *If* shit gets right proper fucked we need our captors to be divided.I dunno, let them soap box in town and convince the citizens, the soldiers' families. Picket outside the base. Talk to merchants and travelers to spread our heroic tale BEFORE the army does it first.
>>2669313Speaking of boxes, I hope we left that with Hilda, I don't think a week has quite passed but if it were to open up in the wrong hands that'd be very, very bad.
>>2669249>Dear, we’re by ourselves in a room, we're back home, and it's worth celebrating. I think you know what’s next. (Throw her on bed, suggest what to do on it.)She still needs to be kissed today
>>2669249>>You can stay here if you like, I’m going out to speak with my officers about a few things. (What?)
>>2669408It's gonna be a coin with the kaiser's fucking heraldry or some utter bullshit like that.oh your deserter is actually an agent of the empire well would you look at that.One more thing for Emma and Hilda to do innawoods. They take it out and Emma relays what it is to us. Richter's a booknerd he ought to know what it represents from a description.
Hey fellas, I'm gonna be occupied with something for most of today, so I probably won't be updating til evening my time. Just a heads up.>>2669408It's been about a day. You still have it, but it wouldn't be simple to smuggle out. It's not like you've really been searched or anything; part of the compromise.
>>2669543*would be simple to smuggle out
Alright, today took it out of me a bit, so I'm going to put off updating til tomorrow. Enjoy your friday nights, hopefully the lack of any updates today isn't too bad.
>>2671333f r i d a y n i g h t
Rolled 9, 10 = 19 (2d10)The cold metal of Loch’s gift box touched against your hand as you reached in your jacket pocket; though it was doubtful that you’d be held against your will for long enough for the box to open…what if somebody seized it? Loch didn’t need to get you into any more trouble.“Maddy, you can move out and about, yes?” you asked, “I need you to take this box to Hilda, and tell her to keep it safe until I come to get it from her.” You handed over the box, and Maddalyn studied it quizzically, running her fingers over it. “Loch gave it to me for some reason, and he says it’ll open in a week. I’d rather look at it someplace else, in case he slipped anything suspicious inside.” Like one of the things you vaguely suspected of being in there…“Loch gave this to you? Why?” Maddalyn squinted at the box, as though demanding her eye tell her more about it. “Why would he want to give you something…what would it be…” Maddalyn slipped the box into the pocket of her black jacket. “I’ll get it to her.”“Also,” you made another request, “I want you to ask Emma…the ember, to spy on Von Grunnveld. Just in case he’s up to anything. If she finds out anything, she needs to come to me, same thing if that box opens up and she sees what’s inside.”“If you think that Von Grunnweld is the sort that needs to be watched, then why did…” Maddalyn glared at you in that way she did, where she did her best to guess where your eyes were. “…Fine.” She backed away towards the door, starting to turn to it, but kept her head still turned slightly towards you. “…I hope your faith in your secretive friends is well placed.” She left, but kept the door open behind her.Ugly thoughts came back, the sort that had distressed you greatly before, and that had done their best to bury themselves since but Maddalyn’s comment made you realize how much trust you’d placed in an organization that possibly didn’t have your best interests at heart…but they’d surely done it for a reason. Certainly, now that you’d accomplished your mission, any reason for deception would be revealed, yes? There would be no sense in anything else. Of course, that was it. You’d meet with your officers and ask them their opinions; perhaps you’d be noted of something you missed, some possibility, and everything would be alright.Or were you only hoping that because you’d now put yourself firmly in a box?Pain, gnawing pain. From what felt like behind your eyes, spread from deeper within. You rubbed your eyes furiously, trying to somehow wipe away that strange ache. It was distracting, when you needed to be focused. There is nothing to fear. Would it only be reasonable for a soldier to know every thought of the commander? Of course, only reasonable, and yet, if that was so, why were you taking steps to protect yourself?2d10 Trance Damage
You stumbled out of the room and headed for the common room. More than a few enlisted lounged about, not looking particularly concerned. Perhaps they were just happy to be back in Strossvald. Krause was lounging with his men, as did Von Igel, who wasn’t speaking much from the looks of it, but was near his crew regardless. Most of them had been wounded in varying states of severity, and were covered in bandages, and in one case a sling. Von Walen and Von Neubaum sat near one another, but weren’t speaking; seeming to be around one another out of obligation. The latter had been forced to dispose of his harem before departing, which he did without any complaint or anything other than the usual bored apathy; like he was merely returning something borrowed. Captain Honnrieg and Bat Company had somehow kept enough cards, or requested them, to start playing what seemed like several games of something you didn’t recognize. It seemed like blackjack, but wasn’t really.Notably absent from the large lounge was Von Metzeler, usually near Krause. Where was he? The junior lieutenant was approached first about this, before you bothered calling everybody together.“Where is Lieutenant Von Metzeler?” you asked after greeting him, “I wanted to get everybody together to talk about something.”Krause frowned. “Right. He said he was going to stay in his room and sleep. Something about a bad headache, a really bad one. He wasn’t saying anything about it before, he just started feeling it, on the way over here. We were speaking about why we were being detained, and he just started feeling it.”“Unfortunate.” Also strange. “I’ll let him lie down then. We’ll get everybody else together.”
The other leadership was duly gathered and a protective perimeter of observant yet not conspicuous enlisted, and you explained the current situation, as well as your thoughts on it.“I wanted to get an opinion,” you said furtively, making sure no attendants were looking too curious, “On what you would all think of breaking out of here and heading straight to the capital. I don’t think Von Grunnveld is up to any good.”“I wonder what makes you think that.” Von Neubaum commented drily.“Strosstadt’s a long ways from here to be a fugitive, Lieutenant,” Captain Honnrieg warned, “Holtenberg would be closer, up north, but even then it’s still far to go, especially considering Von Grunnveld’s people don’t want us going anywhere. We won’t have our equipment, the vehicles have been impounded. I’d say making a run for friendlier lords is an option of last resort, and one we don’t even need. After all, you did say the Intelligence Office is coming to help us, no?” Honnrieg peered at you sideways, “Unless you’ve got a good reason to doubt that?”“Well I,” you thought out loud, “It’s, you know…in case?”Honnrieg frowned deeply. “Hrm.” He looked to the other officers, then at you, right into your eyes. “Alright, Lieutenant. You’ve told us the problem you need taken care of. We’ll think of what we can do, you go ahead and head back to your room. Take a nap. Kiss your girlfriend.”“Kiss people who aren’t your girlfriend, even,” Von Walen suggested outlandishly.“Can it. Do whatever, Lieutenant. Just head on back, might not be good for you to hear some things right now.”“Things I might not want to hear right now?” you sputtered, in confusion and surprise, “Whatever do you mean by that?”“Now’s not the time, Lieutenant,” Honnrieg warned, “Not if you want the thing you’re half considering to be an option for you to go through. We’ll feed you the details later, just keep out of this for now.”>I am the commanding officer of my platoon, Captain. I appreciate your concern but I need to be in this conversation, regardless of potential harm.>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.>If it’s so dangerous, maybe it’s not worth it. Scratch my suggestion. Let’s speak about something else. (What?)>Other?
>>2675965I wonder how many Trance HP we have>>2675967One of us! One of us!>>2675969>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.
>>2675965Wew lad, that is a lot of trance damage. >>2675969Wait a second...wasn't one of Bat Company's squad members all up in our case about how we were going to push our mental boundaries too far and remember shit we're not supposed to or something like that? Is Bat Company in on this? To keep an eye on us? >Find that squad member and ask him what does he know
>>2675998>Find that squad member and ask him what does he knowThat fellow (Obersoldat/Pfc. Wies) is absent from this mission; likely because his need to wear vision correction put him lower on the list of men to specially pick for this mission, or perhaps for another reason.
>>2676034AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhh>Ask Honnrieg about Pfc Wies
>>2675998More like they all broke the conditioning and knows what a number it does on us>>2675969>>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.>Go back to Maddy and get a stomach ache thinking about losing the hellfire shell. Again.
>>2675969>OtherWhy are we worrying, this is just standard procedure until the Intelligence office clears us. As far as everyone knows, we are still deserters and this confinement was better then lying in a ditch with a hole in the back of our heads...
>>2675969>>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.Also we don't know what will happen if we take too much trance damage so let's not do anything too drastic right now.
>>2675969>>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.I wonder how much trance damage Von Metzeler took?
>>2675969>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.>And this will be brought up again.Despite all of this we still haven't seen Intelligence abandon us yet. No need to jump off the deep end into the shallow end.>Other?Compose a report of everything that has happened. If we do get imprisoned by Von Grundle then we need to smuggle it out to people we trust.This will both help our anxiety and give us a some kind of backup plan.
>>2676363We can be like our good Company Commander on the train before the war. Plan for all possibilities. All of them.
>>2675969>Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.
>>2676363Good idea. There's a lot of witnesses to corroborate the report too, thankfully. The east valsten soldiers at the bridge, the rangers guarding the mountain pass, the man who owns that hot spring resort, waterboy's father and all the peeps we didn't blow sky high in the name of the republic.Make proper annotations.
A look to all around, a moment of silence, and you relented. “Very well. I’m depending on the lot of you, though.”“Have we ever?” Von Walen asked.“Don’t answer that.” Von Neubaum added immediately after.Just before you’d go, though, you’d inquire after something. A man you had a faint recollection of, yet you recalled had interesting things to say, “Captain, is that one man who was around in Salzbrucke still around? An enlisted named Weiss, or something? I know he isn’t here, but as in, I want to know if-”Honnrieg pushed you along. “Get outta here, Lieutenant, worry about that later.”So be it then. You walked off, though before you departed back to your room entirely, you acquired pen and paper from an attendant, who apparently didn’t see why it wouldn’t be allowed, and retrieved a healthy amount of writing material for you. A typewriter would have been preferred, but admittedly a luxury for one in your position. This pigpen wasn’t being fenced in very securely; whether it was out of trust or lack of appreciation of your group’s talent, you couldn’t say, but you hoped that it was the former. Quickly returning to your room and spreading the stuff over the study desk, you put pen to paper, and tried to remember what the date was today. It was November now, no? You could correct it if you were wrong. 2nd of November, 1932. Report Concerning Mission to Retrieve Strossvalder Hostages from Eastern Mercenary-Brigands, and Journey to Accomplish Such. It was something you expected you’d have to do anyways, and it would help you take your mind off of all this. It would also make a complete story to share around. It was fair to be vain at this point, wasn’t it? You’d have to see if your legend was enough let that you could start spreading it around. Maybe it would win enough sympathy with your jailers that they’d see the light and let you move on.The start, then. Fresh out of another mission (who knew if that one was allowed to be written about, so you didn’t. Not that this mission was any less secretive.), Selgess the Skull had proclaimed publicly that he had captured a number of Strossvald’s countrymen, and demanded that hostilities be ceased, and for Strossvalder forces to move out of the city of Salzbrucke. One of those captured was your fiancée, Maddalyn Von Blum.But not by the Blood Suns, nor the Death Heads. How many were captured at all by them? Unimportant to this document.
Thus, you volunteered for a mission to destroy Selgess the Skull, then pursue his group back to their base and retrieve the hostages. After a donation to start this operation, and retrieving items of equipment to aid it, the operation began. As action condoned by Strossvald’s army would risk harming the hostages, you were declared a deserter, and thus out of the army’s responsibility. A risk, but Selgess had a romantic streak about him that made him interested in taking up your demand for a duel. After destroying some of his forces and capturing equipment, you’d outmatched him in battle, in spite, or perhaps because, of his massive personal custom tank, the Red Tide. The Blood Suns, or rather, the Death Heads, as the Blood Suns were the greater organization, wasted no time in abandoning their original purpose in order to return home, to elect a new leader. Whether this was representative of all mercenaries under the Blood Suns, you had no idea. It was doubtless that this more tribal aspect of this group’s organization was a great part of their downfall though.Then the brief station at the Intelligence Outpost in Valsten; though you didn’t refer to it as such, then the donning of disguises to masquerade as the very Blood Suns you were trailing. The journey through Valsten, then East Valsten, and finally the passage into the mountains. How to handle this, you wondered. The mountain pass was an incredibly strange geographical feature; ostensibly a normal road in most seasons, but when you had encountered it and the Death Heads had entered, it was anything but. How to describe it, you wondered as you tapped the end of your pen against the page. It was important that your navigation of the distortion in time and space had allowed you to arrive ahead of your quarry and successfully ambush and destroy them, but any explanation you came up with, even the one of “I don’t know how this happened,” sounded utterly ridiculous.
The door opened and closed behind you, and a look over your shoulder told you Maddalyn had returned.“Hello,” Maddalyn said, “I got it to her, and told the ember what to do. Are you feeling alright?” Maddalyn leaned over you. “…This is what happened?” It was always strange how she could read handwritten text; some strange exception to her blindness, like some other things that defied easy explanation. “It’s a report,” you explained, “Of how the mission went, yes. It’s something I’d have to do eventually anyways, I thought that I may as well get it out of the way early.”“I see.” Maddalyn remained bent over your shoulder, “There were a few other things…are you feeling alright? Your commanders outside implied you might need company. One of them suggested doing something utterly crass…I won’t deign to repeat it.” What could that suggestion have been, you wondered? “The other matter, the Hilda woman, she asked if you had asked me about something. She said you should know what the thing is.”>The thing? Oh right, the thing. Ask it now. (What is it?)>Make up a smart aleck question that isn’t what it was; but might lead into something humorous, or perhaps romantic.>Ask what the utterly crass thing was- then suggest she do it.>Other?
>>2677652Can we finish our report and tell Maddy to take it with her back to the Blumlands? Or at least make copies. No one will believe it if no one has read it in the first place.
>>2677652The heck was the thing...Giving her a job as game keeper?I can't remember if she turned or down or not when we suggested it.
>>2677652>>The thing? Oh right, the thing. Ask it now. (What is it?)That was the question about whether it was possible to fill the hole in her presence, wasn't it? Maddalyn's eye ghosts are similar to the ghosts Hilda had I think so she might know something about how to get them back or a replacement.
>>2677682>>2677765>>2677772Richter is going to die a bachelor at this rate.>The thing? Oh right, the thing. Ask it now. (What is it?)Hilds told us to ask Maddy about when our wedding was and what she wanted to do for it.
>>2677815LolYeah I'm going to bed, good luck with this.
>>2677652>>The thing? Oh right, the thing. Ask it now. (What is it?)What >>2677815 said.
>>2677652>The thing? Oh right, the thing. Ask it now. This anon knows it: >>2677815
The thing? What was that again? Oh. You were quiet for what felt like a full minute before you remembered properly what it was. A day later than you had been first told to ask it. Hilda had asked you to ask Maddalyn when your wedding was, since you didn’t know. In fairness, it hadn’t really been something you’d thought would be an issue; you had figured you’d just handle it when the time came.“Oh, right, I wanted to ask you,” you led off, “I didn’t know, so I wanted to ask you. When is our wedding taking place?” Maddalyn was quiet, then she sniffed loudly. You turned to see her wipe her eye, her face reddening. “Is something wrong?”“No.” Maddalyn said, clearing her throat, “I’m just...happy you asked. What day is it?”“The second of November.”“Are you sure?”“No.”Maddalyn sighed slightly. “That’s fine. To be honest, it was supposed to be yesterday, but I suppose it’ll have to be rescheduled, won’t it?” Maddalyn laughed hollowly to herself; it was an easy thing to tell when she was being sarcastic, considering when she was actually thinking something was funny, she giggled girlishly. “You know, for a long time actually, I was…dreading that day. Before I got the chance to know you. To…love you.”“Why were you dreading it?” you asked, putting a hand up to play with Maddalyn’s hair, “Afraid that you’d be saddled with an ugly man?”“I was afraid that, since father gave my hand in exchange for a favor done to him, I would be married to a cruel man. I am small, weak, and I was particularly afraid…if I told this cruel man of my desire to not consummate, until…later, he would…force himself upon me. “Force oneself upon you?” you stroked Maddalyn’s cheek, “Who would dare do that to such a sweet thing as you?”“This might sound strange to you,” Maddalyn went on, “But the worst days were when I thought that I would deserve that fate.” She leaned on your shoulders, “…I thought that a lot, in the days just before you arrived.”…It may have been best to move past that ugly subject. ”Was there anything you particularly wanted to do with the ceremony? A place you wanted the wedding at? You know your home better than I do, after all, even if you did stay inside all the time.” Maddalyn thought a bit. “I’m not sure. I guess I’d like to have it in the gardens. When I went outside, I’d usually go there…I liked the smells of all the flowers, and it smelled different with every season, and I liked them all…except in winter. Spring would be the best, but I suppose we shouldn’t put things off that long.” She stood straight and moved to your flank, “What would you like?”
You made a show of thinking, then said, “I’d like you to wear a wedding dress that shows a lot of skin. Bare shoulders, a lovely view of your neck and collar, with a back that goes down to…” You trailed your hand from the nape of Maddalyn’s neck, down her spine, until your hand was seated on the round prominence of her tush. “…Here.”“Oh, stop,” Maddalyn scolded, though playfully. “You’ll carry me properly back down the aisle, won’t you?”“I’ll get it right at some point.” You looked back at your report, where you’d left off lost, thinking of how to explain what had happened in the mountain pass. “Could you help me with this?” you asked, pointing to your report, and explaining your dilemma.After hearing you out, Maddalyn simply said, “Just say they got lost.”“On a straight mountain pass?”“It’s true, isn’t it? Let whoever’s reading it try and work out the details. Perhaps you couldn’t fathom how they managed it. What’s important is that you got there before them, yes?”“I suppose so.” You admitted, writing down that dissatisfying, yet mercifully brief explanation and moving readily on. Things moved on much faster with Maddalyn there, as whenever you were stuck even on the slightest thing, you could bounce an idea off of her and she’d offer her swift opinion. She would proactively read your material as you wrote it too, so little elaboration was needed. This helped particularly with sidestepping the exact nature of how Cranick was killed; an important step, handled by a sort of entity most weren’t even supposed to know about. Soon enough, things were caught up to the point Maddalyn had experienced them alongside you, and you finally got to the end of your journey- to here.“If you don’t mind,” you told Maddalyn, “In case Von Grunnveld is up to anything, could you keep these documents safe?” You passed her the thick sheaf of pages, “I certainly don’t want all this writing to have gone to waste.”“Of course.” Maddalyn took the papers, clipped together in several sets. “I think it would help if the story was spread about some too, no? Deeds like this should not be kept in the dark.”“I am not so vain as to spread my own legend,” you said, “But I certainly wouldn’t object if another sang my praises.”“Richter…” Maddalyn bent down from beside you and nuzzled her nose against yours, “Do be careful. I do not want to tell tales of how I became a widow.”With that, she departed once more.-----As you lounged about in your room, a greenscarf soldier, young and fresh faced, knocked on your door. “Message from headquarters, milord Lieutenant.” He said with a salute, “Intelligence Office sent a response. Says to stay here and wait for them, they said they’ll take care of things. Their boss is gonna fly down, won’t be too long.”
Take care of things. No, they were coming for you. To clear up this misunderstanding, of course.Why hope? Why not know?The cool, collected part of you, something that you aren’t sure when it appeared but could rely on for as long as you could remember being in the army, could normally be relied upon to be straightforward, honest, and able to analyze a situation in a flash, and give a decent answer to any problem. Yet now you found yourself oddly uncertain of this particular problem at hand. This uncertainty was far more disturbing, somehow, than you would logically think. Being unsure was normal. Yet it wasn’t in this case.At least the demonic presence of the Demiphantom could be medicated against. Damn, you remembered that Blackflower was a controlled substance in eastern Strossvald, according to the Captain. Wouldn’t that be hilarious to see. Richter Von Tracht, exploiter of women through use of drugs. Not exactly the thing to cap off the romance that was your adventure up to this point, was it? You hid it inside of a pillowcase. If things became more drastic, you were confident you could come back and hide it better. Hell, you could probably just swallow it all. It wouldn’t be pleasant but Blackflower was hardly potent enough, and your stocks low enough, that it would be an easy option.You occupied yourself wondering how long it would take for the IO agent to come. By your reckoning based on where you thought you were, you were about two hundred and fifty kilometers south-southeast from Strosstadt, over the Altossian mountains. Main train lines between Altoss and the rest of Strossvald were still rather lacking because of these mountains, what lines there were usually stuffed up with economic traffic, or so you’d heard, but even two hundred and fifty kilometers was an easy distance to travel in a plane. Three hours, perhaps, if the operative was on their way and landed at an airport? Even less if they took a courier plane and landed near the town itself…“Lieutenant?” Von Walen appeared at the open door. “We’ve got some ideas. Comin’ right in, since ‘s not like you’ve set up a love nest or nothing.”Before you could object, the entire group leadership element had filed in and taken up positions in the bedroom you were sitting in. Wasting no time, Honnrieg came in near last, followed by a drowsy looking Von Metzeler. “Von Tracht. We’ve got a few ideas now.” The Captain said. “We’d ideally do them as quick as we can, though, while things are still off balance. They could wait if needed, but the sooner we try the better it’ll work.”
Did you really need any plans now that the IO were on their way? You motioned for him to go on anyways; you weren’t sure why.“We’ve got around two hundred fifty, two hundred sixty people who’ve got a good opinion of us, and a decently free ability to roam about. Plan one, there’s not many people keeping guard around here. I’ve noticed you sending your sweetheart to and fro. If we could get things outside coordinated, we could have all those people come up and not be hostile, not cause any trouble; we don’t need any more of that. They could cause some chaos that we could slip away in, though. From there, we find better clothes and start trekking north to Holtenberg. Not a great plan, but it’s an option. Junior Lieutenant, you tell Von Tracht the next idea.” He motioned to Von Igel.“Ah…yes,” Von Igel adjusted his spectacles, “It was something I remembered, and we asked some people to make sure. My family gets around a lot. If there’s a court, heh, there’s, uh, a Von Igel, probably. So Von Grunnveld’s secondborn, Bernard Von Grunnveld, he’s an accomplished fencer. Won a local championship, actually. He’s quite proud of that, too, and well, he’s pretty arrogant in general, really…So. If one of us were to do something, like, claim that his detention of us as a personal affront, and challenge him to a duel to let us go, maybe that would work…maybe.” A duel wasn’t often a question of life or death; protective gear was often issued, to prevent young nobility from killing one another, and a winning strike was often only a very minor wound, just enough to draw blood, or in the case of unregulated yet still popular duels, one was supposed to pull their strike for a shallow wound, since such fights often eschewed protection. Among some cliques, a dueling scar on the face was actually quite fashionable, though the reason for why escaped you. It was apparently quite popular at some officer academies; the fencing community at the Panzer Academy had been rather small.“Would he accept a duel is another question, sort of an important step.” Von Neubaum pointed out.“Well, uh, well…” Von Igel stuttered.“He will accept it if he thinks he can win.” Von Metzeler said in response, voice murky, rubbing his eye with a hand. “If his ego is such that he is insulted by the implication, but his intellect is such that he will not commit to an engagement unless his chance of victory is guaranteed.”
“So he’ll be sure of his victory, and then end up cutting somebody because he knew he could win.” Von Neubaum drolled, “That seems like that’ll be helpful to us.”“He will not cut anybody,” Von Metzeler said firmly, “Because if we proceed with this, I will be the one fighting him.” All stared at him. “I participated in underground sword fights. They happen in places, and I took interest. There is little to say. I am confident of my experience in that, as well as in general fencing practice. In addition,” Von Metzeler’s eyes flared, “He cannot allow one from a family such as mine to impugn his honor. There is no chance that he knows of my experience. I will not disappoint.”A bold statement. Yet it was entirely possible that the stated overconfidence of Von Grunnveld and that of Von Metzeler could be similar prides with similar potential end results, wasn’t there?“So those are the two ideas,” Captain Honnrieg said, “What do you think?”>I think I’d like to go to Holtenberg. Let’s get ready for that plan; I’ve had enough of Grunnveld.>It’d be satisfying to see that Von Grunnveld knocked down a good peg. Let’s win our freedom and bruise his pride at the same time.>I’ve received word that the Intelligence Office is coming for us. Let’s wait, I think we won’t need to perform any plans. We can simply relax.>Other?
>>2679522>I think I’d like to go to Holtenberg. Let’s get everything ready for that plan, but don't put it in motion until my command.I want to wait for IO, but have a backup plan in case shit hits the fan.
More or less caught up or rather still catching up....but Hilda is best girl.And she has the most shit luck in the world!
>>2679666More like anons are being shit to her.
>>2679522>I’ve received word that the Intelligence Office is coming for us. What is your opinion of staying here or waiting with them on their way
>>2679546Supporting, if the operative turns out to be friendly then we just play it off like our preparations were us getting ready to roll out.I won't lie though, part of me wants to see what happens if Intelligence really is out to get us.
>>2679700It's impossible to be good to her.We act distant, she dies a little inside.We act friendly, she dies a little inside.We act firmly, she dies a little inside.Like the only thing we can do to make her not miserable is to dump Maddy in a ditch and run off, but then she'll die inside for ruining our life or something. Just put a bullet in her.>>2679522this >>2679546
>>2679522>>2679546Supporting, tell them to make a break for it if they don’t hear from us once we make contact with the IO agent.
>>2679808I'm referring to the times when anons led her on without intending to commit.Or the time when anons refused to heal her magical burns.Or the time when anons almost sent her to suicide.
>>2679840Oh yeah fuck those guys. Those threads made me sad, I thought we all had something good going on here. To think we'd have to argue at all about those decisions.
>>2679840I actually liked her a lot. I would have been okay having her as a mistress but the magica burns and sending her on a suicide mission made almost drop this quest Still considering it now since I’m still catching up
>>2680564I mean I'm willing to look past the magical burns considering that hostile Soulbinder was coming quick and we don't know if healing her would implicate her with Rain guy and put her in danger. Perhaps if we meet Rain guy again we can have him heal her.
I'm halfway through the archives. This quest better be still alive when I catch up.
>>2680742I nearly choked on my dinner. If you drew this it is amazing.
>>2680742Yep, that's pretty much the whole quest experience so far right there.
“If it comes down to it, I think I’d like to take an early Holiday in Holtenberg,” you said slowly, “But the Intelligence Office is coming for us, I got word from them. So go ahead and get things ready, but don’t do anything unless the IO is blocked from us…or if you don’t hear from me after I meet them.”“If you say so, Lieutenant,” Captain Honnrieg leaned forward and looked into your eyes, murmured something to the junior lieutenant closest to him.“Just in case Von Grunnveld makes a move before the Intelligence Office can.” Of course that was the case. Perhaps you’d be intercepted on your way. Maybe Von Grunnveld was playing a trick and the IO hadn’t responded yet. Had to be careful, of rival nobility.“No worries, Lieutenant. It’s happening.” Captain Honnrieg leaned forward and patted your shoulder, “Let the Captain take care of this one. Believe it or not he’s been stuck in worse than this.” You believed that, and were terribly curious but also knew that now wasn’t quite the time. “We’ll be borrowing the little miss, if you don’t mind, as well.”Of course not, though you advised them still on not letting your fiancée be put in a harmful situation. “Of course not, Von Blum would have my head,” Krause smiled.“Not if I got to you first,” you said, equally as humorously. Though you absolutely would have had his head. The room bloomed with confidence in this seemingly doubtful situation as the group filed out, whispering to one another about potential additions to this plot. It would be so much more convenient if you didn’t have to do this, though; you remembered when you had lost a Hellfire shell in deployment to the Blumlands, and didn’t want to go through that again. The possibility of true horror; your tank and each hellfire shell, all going in different directions; it was a good thing you hadn’t eaten or you might have retched at the thought. With how freely petty affairs could be taken in logistics, all of your possessions, kept close for so long that they may as well have been your friends, could be lost in a maze of red tape forever as ownership was debated, as well as claims of favor, or “temporary” seizure. If they wanted to, logistics officers alone could make it so that it would be less of an ordeal to attack Grunnveld with a host and recapture the thing by force than to try and reclaim it through official channels.Fine though, you’d relax. Let your men start preparations, and if the time came…a briefing. Then yet another gauntlet to run when you thought you’d reached the finish line. At least shells weren’t coming down. Yet.
A few hours went by and you dozed off, when suddenly you were woken by a Greenscarf shaking you.“Intelligence Office guy’s gonna be here soon. He wants you to come with me and meet him in the middle. That alright?”“Could he come over here instead?” you asked lazily.“Well, uh, it wasn’t actually a request when I asked if it was alright,” the Grenzwacht said, looking down and rubbing the back of his head, “Least he didn’t put it that way, and I ain’t about to test the patience of the IO, right?”You didn’t think you were about to, either. “I see.” You rose up, stretched, and cracked your knuckles. “Lead the way, then.”The Grenzwacht man, carbine slung over his back and unloaded, led you out the common room. Your officers had dispersed, presumably to avoid drawing attention, but Von Walen winked at you on the way out. Your reserve parachute was well packed and ready, all there was to do was to see if you caught fire when you jumped out of the plane.A motorcycle with a sidecar was waiting outside, and you got in, the Grenzwacht courier getting on after, before driving you away. It was curious that only one man had been assigned to you. Yet you followed him and got in, did you not?Nature was pleasantly distracting, as was rural civilization. The faded stucco of farm cottages, the dirty orange leaves that were up in the trees as well as piling on the ground and being blown about by the breeze. The dirt road wasn’t as bumpy as it could be, and really the ride wasn’t so bad, considering what the imagination could have conjured its destination being.Said destination was a clump of cottages by the road; peasants milled about there, certainly, but one house had been commandeered by a few regular soldiers, as well as a pilot, sitting around bored, likely from being separated from his aircraft; perhaps to boost the IO complement’s numbers. You preferred that flight jacket on a woman, you thought idly as you passed him by. As for the regulars…you supposed they were actually Intelligence Office goons, but it was more reassuring to think of them as normal, fellow soldiers. They certainly didn’t have the steely glares of IO agents you’d seen before…or maybe that was the trick itself?
The Grenzwacht waited by the road as you were acknowledged and led in by one of the soldiers. The inside of the house was lit, comfortable, and you found yourself feeling rather welcome as you were led before the man who came to see you; though the light seemed to actively avoid him. He wore a longcoat that had no pockets that went down to his shoes, making him look as though he had been draped in a cloak of night, with a wide brimmed black hat. The dull, blued badge of his office was the only decoration on his person, pinned on his breast.“Very good,” the shade said, sounding satisfied. He sounded like the same one that had first sent you on this mission…come to think of it, for some reason now, you felt you could remember him from somewhere before, too…a long time ago… “Leave us. I wish to speak with the lieutenant alone.” The door shut, and the shade smiled widely at you, the only sound being the slight hiss of the oil lamp, the singing of birds outside, making it feel like morning despite that not being the case.The shade smiled at you. “We haven’t been properly introduced, have we? You may want to know my name…well, the name you are allowed to use, at least. I am Eadvin Willen, commander in chief of his majesty’s Intelligence Office’s field operations. I must commend you on your excellent work, Lieutenant Von Tracht,” the shade started, gesturing towards you with both hands, fingers splayed towards you, as though he grasped around nothing. “It is not often that a project such as you comes to such excellent fruition. In spite of some bumps along the way, your journey appears to have been well worth the investment. Well done.”“I…” What? “…thank you, sir. It was an honor to serve the Archduchy well.” You saluted.“Yes, indeed, indeed…” the shade went over to a leather bag on a table, and withdrew what looked like some sort of lens. “Come closer. Yes, that’s good enough.” He looked into one eye, then the other. “Good, good. You are still quite healthy, though I can see the stress of battle has taken some toll. Yet you have remained iron hearted. Commendable.”“Sir,” you were incredibly confused, “Does this have to do with my mission?”“Your mission, yes. Have you prepared a report?”“It is not with me at the moment,” you said hastily.“That is alright,” the shade didn’t seem to mind too much. “We collected a decent idea of the situation from conversing with Von Grunnveld’s men. You’ve rescued a great many of your countrymen, as well as your spouse to be. Yet from other places, we’ve heard of yet more. The establishment of the Republic, the destruction of what would have been its greatest rival, the birth of a nation. Few as young as you have been so intimately involved in such.”
“I am aware,” you said. “I hope it isn’t unreasonable to take some pride in such. Though, our current problem…”“Of course. You and your compatriots have been detained by Von Grunnveld’s forces, for your transgressions, shall we say, against the Archduchy.”“…But we did nothing wrong.” You felt the need to say. “I’d like to ask that you explain that to Von Grunnveld. We’ve finally accomplished this mission, after all…”The Archduke’s shade smiled, wider. “Oh, dear Richter Von Tracht. You of all people ought to know how rarely rest comes for the weary.”“…I don’t understand.”“You have proven yourself to be incredibly useful and resourceful, and the world is busy doing its best to tear itself into little pieces, and reassemble itself into something else.” The shade, Eadvin Willen, tipped his broad hat to you. “It is difficult to see from your perspective, but your current position is one that is potentially of incredible use.” All you could do was stare, blink, and wonder why your mind felt so empty. “Do not think of this as a trap, or a betrayal. This is a promotion. An appointment.”“I don’t understand,” you said once again, like a fool.“You have indeed committed a crime against the Archduchy, dear Richter, and you must be court martialed, found guilty, and punished for it. Not a severe punishment, of course, we have already arranged suitable circumstances for your trials. None of your comrades will suffer anything that would be more than a mild annoyance. The sentences will be arbitrarily light, especially as trials take place in Holtenberg, where the famed Captain Honnrieg, who once followed the legendary Heller Von Tracht, enjoys a measure of popularity, favor that is extended to his allies as well. However…” The shadow’s teeth looked like they were of some night creature, long and sharp, “This will be a favor. One we shall expect you to pay back, in short time. It is all only a dance, after all. All of this is in service to the Archduke. Service that you are honored to do, isn’t that right?...May I hear a Yes Sir, Von Tracht? I will explain your options...soon.”>Yes, Sir.>Wait. I accept all this, but I need to ask… [What?]>Take this poorly. Severe Trance Trauma risk…but may allow you to resist.>Other?
>>2680742Thanks man, that's amazing...on top of the other one you did before. Of course, we already talked about it over Discord, but why not more, right?There is little better than extreme angles on thick eyebrows.
So we route locked to our Fiancee now only?Not sure how to feel about it considering she's a legal loli.
>>2681092>Take this poorly.Oh hell nah. A favor? They owe US a favor. Even after all this we have no guarentee that hey won't just kick us out as disposable assets like they likely did with our uncle at court. Fuck that, WE ARE BREAKING THE CONDITIONING.
>>2681092>I don't understand. I was under the impression that under the original terms of my mission I would be exonerated in thanks for my courageous efforts on behalf of the Archduchy. It was by the Intelligence Office's instruction that I committed my transgression in the first place, after all. I don't see why you should need any more favors to do what you led me to believe you would do all along. What else would you call what I have been off doing these many long weeks, if not a favor to the Intelligence Office? Brace for trance damage
>>2680742That's really well done
>>2681092>Wait. I accept all this, but I need to ask... [What?]Basically this >>2681168
>>2681092>Wait. I accept all this, but I need to ask… [What?]The others followed my lead, at least pardon them and return them to their duties.Otherwise>Yes, Sir.-----------------From what little I remember the Spook did seem to imply the Archduke would completely forgive the desertion due to everyone's valor if nothing else for our role in this puppet show. So he's altering the deal, we at least need to bring up that we have never expected a reward from this service beyond the opportunity to save Maddy, but neither did we expect a "promotion" out of this. If we push too far, he buries us in an unmarked grave.If we break the trance, he buries us in an unmarked grave.Even if we are forgiven and all crimes dropped they have enough on us to own our soul forever. We have to go along with this and give the impression that nothing is wrong. For now.
>>2681168>>2681249Actually changing my support to this.
>>2680742Holy crap, you're great, anon.
>>2681092>Pretend to take this well, return, then initiate plan "get the hell away from here">Rationalize this as IO obviously overstepping its bounds, obviously without the Archduke's knowledge or sanction. Obviously.
>>2681092>Take this poorly.They gave us the mission, they gave us minimial support and we still achieved stunning success. How can this patriotism be rewarded with such backhanded disregard? The Intelligence Office failed to stop vagabonds from terrorizing and kidnapping Strossvalders. The spook’s plan insults the blood split by the Von Tracht line in the name of the Archduchy.
>>2681630Where exactly would we go and how would that help us avoid a court martial?
>>2681696I wouldnt mind joining the Grossreich and being part of the Kaisers glorious armored formations as they storm through the Imperial Gates
>>2681696My plan was to make for the Blumlands and try to capitalise on our marital ties.
You weren’t sure what to think. Weren’t you supposed to be honored? Weren’t any crimes committed meant to be part of the plan, and an affront to nobody? A necessity? You were told to do this, and like a good soldier, you obeyed orders. Was that not enough? What other favors did you need to grant? Was this not enough?No, no, your teeth grit together, ground across one another. You’d done more than enough, hadn’t you? He’d said it himself, it had been a stunning success. For this treatment? You had never acted the criminal, nor anything but as would be expected of a Von Tracht. You…no. There were still reasons unknown, things left unsaid, there was a reason for all of this; there had to be. Your intuition told you that, that logic that had rarely if ever served you ill. Even if there wasn’t, what could you do but be patient? What else could you put your faith in if not that intuition at this point, if it were wrong?“Von Tracht?”“…Wait, I accept all of this,” you blubbered uncharismatically. A deep breath; there, you were all better. Battle ready. “But I need to say, the others followed my lead. At least pardon them and return them to their duties.”The shade smirked, then that smile broadened, unnervingly. “Please, Von Tracht, there is no need to volunteer for martyrdom, if you would rather your compatriots not be dragged into your future assignments, all you must do is not take them.”“I never expected any reward beside the opportunity to rescue my fiancée,” you added, “We still have the gold you provided, though equipment and materiel was lost. I can return it-“Willen held up an arresting hand. “Now now, none of that. We are friends, no? Those riches were given freely. As I said so long ago, consider it as a bonus, or perhaps a reward, since you seem to be under the impression that you are being punished. As I said…this is merely a change in position. To send you or any of your compatriots to the gallows, even if your blood did not exempt you from such disgrace, would be a terrible waste, of potential so much better realized in the future.”
See? There is nothing to worry about. A strangely hollow thought lacking in much reassurance. Though perhaps there was a point in that; you’d certainly been told enough that the most you’d suffer were inconveniences. Could you trust that?“In any case,” Willen, tall and intimidating, took a pair of papers off the desk where his bag of tools lay, glanced at them briefly, and adjusted his collar. “Your next assignment. Perhaps you have noticed, but the rate at which the world is reforming has been accelerating quite quickly, and you may have noticed from your last mission, that you are not exactly being sent to oppose such quickening. Hopefully, however, these new locales will be more palatable than the last, hm?” “…Surely nothing that would require what happened last.”“Indeed not, but you will still be in your element. Worry not, we are not asking you to step out of your tank, nor are we asking for any desertions, nor other breaches of the law. Though these places we are sending you to…you will have to suffer without your prized personal vehicle, at least for a time. Now, for the options…unless you’d like to wait?” You only nodded for him to go on. “Good. Now, for the first of our problems you can help with…what do you know of Plisseau?”“A collective of city states and small territories, near constantly in conflict of one sort or another,” you rattled off from war history, automatically. “Through a tenuous web of alliances, they maintain independence, while in a state of disunity. Like a marketplace full of competing vendors.”“An apt comparison. There is a section of states along our border that we have been grooming, and would soon like to add to our union…but they require a good push. Plisseau’s states much like hiring mercenaries for their dirty work, and the contests between the states rarely reach actual civilization…a decent circumstance for a panzer commander, no? A guarantee of never having to contest a city in an unsuitable piece of equipment. Naturally, as a mercenary, your own man, you will have a great degree of autonomy…which you have no doubt grown used to.”“Yet I will not be able to bring my m/32?” You asked.“Indeed. A fair bit more subtlety will be required here; a good investment of time, even to even affirm your new identity. The armor will be a specially sourced set, though have no fear; we will not try to have you go into battle atop tin crates with wheels. In fact, it will be something…well, even I cannot speak of it, not yet.”
Your interest was piqued, you had to admit. A tank that even a head of Intelligence couldn’t share information on? “…And my other option?” “You have heard of the troubles to the east, no?” Willen asked coyly, “Of course you have. Netilland and Twaryi prepare to butt heads, over the corpse of Ellowie. Or at least, that is what we would like them to do. As a gesture of goodwill, the Archduke would deign to send a mission over, a group of “advisors” to aid not only in normal duties, but in the training and command of new Netillian armored formations. Their army is still undergoing rapid expansion, you see, and they have much need of experienced leaders, seasoned men, to help get their army into shape. Of course…that is not all you would be doing, though what the other things would be…would have yet to be seen.”“And I still can’t bring my m/32?”“How obsessed you are with that piece of equipment. Would you like the Netillians to seize it because they find it interesting?”“…No.” You admitted. Though you still wanted to conjure a way to take it nevertheless. Armor that was truly impenetrable…only a fool would willingly surrender that.“Exactly. Which is why all of the armor we send will be outmoded…though sufficiently improved to not be useless. The war we recently finished with Valsten revealed deficiencies in the armament of the majority of our panzer battalions; the 2.5 centimeter gun has been deemed no longer sufficient, and we are beginning a program to rebuild or replace m/28s in the army. You will bear the honor of receiving the first prototypes, and giving them a good field test in the process. Exciting, no?”“So if I take one,” you mused, “Then the other…”“We were thinking of having your compatriot Von Metzeler volunteer. If not, then…well, there are others, who proved themselves fit for such duty in the brief conflict to the south.” He peered at you and chortled, “Oh, I know. You could certainly turn down both offers…but we are discussing a duty. Refuse both, and you accept that you will take on whatever we offer next.”A choice between masquerading as a mercenary, or playing cattle herder in Netilland. Or something worse.“That is, of course,” the shade gave you a teasing glance, mouth still wide like a shark’s, “Unless you found anything out in your travels, that you’d like to inform me of? To pursue further yourself?”
Was there? Maybe there was, but it wasn’t like you had any hope of Loch staying still and letting you find him again, no matter how much a potential threat he was. Perhaps the Southern Cities? No, to be frank, you’d had enough of Sosaldt for a good while. Was there anything?“Of course, if I’m putting you on the spot, you can always put off your decision until later…but in approximately one week and a half, you will be made to make your choice, if you haven’t already. We’re willing to give you enough time to have a break, perhaps visit home, get married, perhaps, and do any duties relating to that, and be ready to go with no concern for leaving matters unresolved. Gracious, I know, but it is the least we could do.”>Right. Send me off to whatever mess is brewing in Plisseau, then. At least city states and trade unions are better than bandit mercenaries and slavers.>The only thing better than a dead Netillian is a dead Twaryian. I suppose I’ll go with the request to help them learn to kill right.>I don’t like either of those. I think I’d rather put it off for something else. More vacation time.>I’ve got an idea of what I’d want to do if it’s available, actually…. [What?]>I don’t want to decide right now. This is also for if you’re planning on being naughty, though such plans may be inadvisable at this juncture>Other?
>>2681937>I don’t want to decide right nowLet's get our men to freedom, and start being naughty after that.Because what the hell? We're a loyal servant of the Archduke. We'd be up for any mission to serve the country. Pressuring us with a court-martial is absolutely unnecessary. As such an offence and a slight against us, as well as a proof that IO is up to no good and possibly is working against the Archduke.
>>2681937>>I don’t want to decide right now.Let's settle stuff on the domestic front first as well as distribute the rewards (also see if people are willing to volunteer for another round).
>>2681937>I don’t want to decide right now.Anyone else want to ask him about Loch? Is he also a 'friend' of his or truly a foreign agent with identical goals?If they're going to publicly humiliate us with a court martial then I'm all for tooting our own horn to spread our HEROIC TALE on our own. You think Honnrieg knows someone operating a pirate radio station?
>>2682017Oh yeah we should definitely ask him about Loch.
>>2681937>>I don’t want to decide right nowI also want to ask him if he knows anything about the foreign soul binders we encountered, Unless telling a spook we know about all the banned magic stuff is as bad an idea as it sounds. What do my fellow anons think? Note: Given how the guy harassed us in a car in Wossehnalia, I am sure we can avoid mentioning our more, esoteric, knowledge.Also ask about Loch
>>2681937>Antaganize Eastern neighbors>Antagonize Southern neighbors >Antagonize Northern neighbors>???>ProfitIt’s almost as if the Intelligence Office’s whole motivation is to diplomatically isolate and militarily overextend Strossvald for palatable but short-term gains. Why spare Valsten without stripping it of its Western border with the Grossreich? That only encourages Grossreich intervention if there is another war and the Imperial Gate only works so long as it is not bypassed in the south. Why not also grab a corridor to the sea as part of the peace concessions? Strossvald is a landlocked nation, and no matter how self-sufficient the economy may be, it’s still idiotic to surround the majority of its borders with hostile or displeased nations.
>>2681937>I don’t want to decide right now.>>2681951That's what worries me the most about this whole thing. Presumably he could just ask us to go on a special mission and we would be eager to do it as a brave patriotic soldier. The fact that he feels the need to gratuitously blackmail us means that we're in for much more than it seems. And of course we would have to be an idiot (or brainwashed) to think that we'll ever get out of this cycle of "favors" and be released from their service. They'll just use us for their dirty work and then get us killed whenever they need a fall man.I wish we hadn't used up that token the Reich ambassador gave us so we could defect to there. Maybe we could try to track it down while we're on "vacation."
>>2681937>>I don’t want to decide right now.Too much to process to make a quick decision. People to talk to, plots to water down.I also support asking him about Lock, in the guise of making it seem like the Reich is stirring trouble.>>2682279I dunno, we're already in his target sights. Talking about WIZARDS either would make us a MUCH more dangerous agent in his eyes since we already seem to know too much or do the opposite and make us much move valuable, further ensnaring us in this lifestyle. And the inevitable but probably sudden betrayal.
>>2681937>I don't want to decide right nowWe just missed our wedding for heavens sake
>>2682604I am inclined to agree, the rewards just don't outweigh the risks as you stated. Would be interesting to know if they know of the shitstorm that is brewing
>>2682426Under the assumption that the IO is working for the Duchy's best interests, yes. If their goal is to create a new empire it doesn't matter who wins does it? As long as one ruler can unite the realm. They're dividing nations to create easy pickings for someone.>>2682279Talking about soulbinders is a bad idea imo.
Update soonish. Sleeping late really throws you off.>>2682426While the the intentions behind the machinations of foreign policy may be an inefficent mystery, it is important to note that while dragging East Valsten into a war that it didn't come out good from certainly wouldn't please them, what would please them even less is if territory they laid claim to was seized. Treaties have ensured the Union of Valstener States that their claims would not be separated from one another by land; in short, both Valstens have claimed the whole of their coasts.>>2682279>Unless telling a spook we know about all the banned magic stuff is as bad an idea as it sounds.It would be generally inadvisable, considering both factions of soulbinders oppose common knowledge of their arts. Also while annoying individual wizards might be fun, it's probably best to not have the whole of their ilk put a hit on you.Just wanted to clear those things up.
“I don’t want to decide right now,” you said, “I’d like more time to think.”Willen was ready to grant that, though his smile eased up a bit. “Very well then. Enjoy your free time until then. Not too much, hm? Though an answer will have to be forthcoming, so make sure to spare some time to ponder the question. Until then, though-” “Just one thing,” you interjected, “While I was in Sosaldt…even before that, I encountered a strange man, who calls himself Loch. He helped to establish the Republic, but before that, he was in the Blumlands, while there was that trouble with the imperialist group, the Dawnseekers. You don’t happen to know anything about him, do you? I think he might be a threat. Several of the people in his employ appeared to be from the Grossreich; I believe he may be an agent of Zeissenburg”“Loch? Hmm…” The spook’s smile turned from a broad one to a tight one. “Quite a choice of name, if they are of the Reich, Loch’s appointment as an educator as much for appeasement as it was for the education of a younger Henrik. After all, tutor to the Kaiser though he may have been, Edmund Loch was an agitator for democracy. We have heard the name come up, one or twice before, but we know little more than that. For you to have encountered him…” the shade cocked his head and scratched his pointed chin, “I wonder how you may have drawn his attention. Or perhaps, it was all coincidence, and the true connecting factor is the Vangs, the father and daughter. Hmmm…” He grinned again, “How mysterious. Before now, any report of his actions hinted that their operations were restrained. This change in character...I suppose we must begin to pay much closer attention.”You had been hoping for information on him…but you supposed that this was information, too. The IO knew that Loch had existed, but until now, he hadn’t been up to anything troublesome. If only you knew those past detections so you could corroborate something…alas, it was out of your hands now.“We will consider this new development, though, think of your coming assignment, as well. Until then…we’re through here.” He knocked on the wall twice, and one of the soldiers came out. “Ein. Go on and take the Lieutenant back to his men, and inform Von Grunnveld that he is to release them and provide transport for them and their equipment northwards, to Holtenberg. The prisoners they brought can remain here. If their homes are close, they will be allowed to stray, but make sure to keep your ears to the ground. Inform Drei that I want to be flying again as soon as possible. Do not delegate, make sure to convey my will yourself. I do not trust a borderman to act in our interests.”
“Of course, Commander sir.” The man being referred to as “One” curtly gestured for you to follow him. He led you out, and to the bike, which he rudely mounted while its original rider was loitering about.“Hey!” the Grenzwacht complained, “That’s mine!”“The Intelligence Office is requisitioning it.” Ein stated, “If it is not returned within one week, file a report to a branch and it will be replaced.” Then, to you. “Get in.”You were barely in the sidecar when the engine buzzed and left the little village in the dust.-----“Commander, sir.”“Yes, Zwei?”“I question the method that you used on the subject. Would more comforting treatment not have been more ideal? The project’s history has shown…”“I am aware of what I am doing, Zwei. This is merely another step, another test. I am part of the project’s team, after all. It is in my interest to see it work out, and any failures can be placed squarely on my shoulders…though I don’t play to lose, hm hm.”-----Von Grunnveld wasn’t happy about the decision that was made, but Ein had enough to him, in status as well as general presence, that the uppity noble failed to object much, or accomplish anything besides looking impotent. What little of it there was, was quite satisfying to witness. Little fanfare followed, as your group (and a few feminine hitchhikers) was all loaded up to be readied for transport to Holtenberg’s territories. The Bat Company folks all crowed about finally getting back home, seemingly uncaring about what would happen, even though you made sure to share it with your group. One only wondered if this wouldn’t even be their first instance of appearing before a tribune for mischief; Bat Company gave you the impression of being troublemakers, though loyal and efficient ones. After all, their earlier commander, your uncle, had been so bold as to steal (appropriate, as he filed it) a number of mechanized vehicles and make raids outside of Strossvald’s borders, something only excused by…Huh. It was funny to think about that now, wasn’t it?That thought kept you quiet throughout the trip, even though Maddalyn did her best to curl herself around you; she tried asking one question, but when you responded noncommittally, she didn’t ask any further. You were in a mood to press your head against her thighs, but with others around, you doubted she would have appreciated that, and you weren’t feeling like teasing her at the moment, either.It would have been a decent distraction from all these questions swirling about in your head that so wanted to be answered.
A handoff was made between lands, and it appeared that some of the Holtenbergers who met up with your convoy knew of Captain Honnrieg.“’Nother misdemeanor, Captain Honnrieg? It’s been a while, no?”Captain Honnrieg chuckled. “Well, I couldn’t be a good boy forever.”“Obviously not. Come on, we talked with Von Holtenberg. We can stay in your town, if you want.”Honnrieg’s smile faded. “…Right, of course.” He looked over to you, “Hey, Lieutenant, you want to come over to my house for a visit once we get there? It’s been a while since I’ve had a Von Tracht over.”>It seems I’ve been following in my uncle’s footsteps just a little bit more than I figured, so I suppose so. Why not?>Maybe later. I’d like to handle something else first. (What?)>You don’t seem too concerned. Any chance that you could get Von Holtenberg could call this off altogether? If he’s interested in your welfare.>Other?
>>2684060>>It seems I’ve been following in my uncle’s footsteps just a little bit more than I figured, so I suppose so. Why not?
>>2684060>It seems I’ve been following in my uncle’s footsteps just a little bit more than I figured, so I suppose so. Why not?
>>2684060>It seems I’ve been following in my uncle’s footsteps just a little bit more than I figured, so I suppose so. Why not?>I want to handle something first thoughSend Fie on her way. She has nothing to do with Strossvald politics and has no reason to suffer with us.
“It seems I’ve been following in my uncle’s footsteps just a little bit more than I figured,” you waxed sardonic, “So I suppose so. Why not?”Honnrieg smiled. “Good. Just a short visit, though. Have to get established at the barracks in time for our trials, after all.”While you were stopped, you found Fie once again and had her sent on her way; an easy request to make now they you were in friendlier territory. “Where’d you say you’re from again, young lady?” one of the Holtenberg soldiers asked as Fie was taken aside.“Err….the Altossian Mountains…” That wasn’t really where the green haired woman was from, but you’d gone over this need for a lie. It was an easy disguise, and you didn’t need her being suspected of espionage without you around to defend her.Of course, that answer wasn’t a good one. The soldier she was talking with cocked an eyebrow. “…Yeah, where in that? Just saying the name of the range isn’t very specific. Don’t you know where in those mountains they are?”“Uh…” Fie looked helplessly at you.“She lives somewhere near the Watching Peak,” you filled in, giving the only mountain you knew had mossheads on it. “Though if you just drop her off near the mountains, she’ll make her way over. You know how these people are, and such…”“Right.” It didn’t take much to satisfy this soldier. “Well, missy, take care of anything you’ve got left to handle, then. Considering this nice man’s taken you all the way back home.”“Er…” Fie looked at you, then poked you to follow her back behind the truck. “I…well…I really appreciate what you’ve done for me…maybe you don’t think it’s much, but…it’s been a long time since anybody treated me nice….”“It wasn’t a problem,” you said near reflexively. “A gentleman should never hesitate to help a lady in need.”
“Err…” Fie toyed with one of her green braids, “I think I need to give you something…because of your help, but…” Her mouth muddled some, “I don’t have much to give…” She pulled her satchel up and opened it…and proceeded to accidentally drop it, into the hand you preemptively extended under it. “Ah! Ah…er, thank you…” She picked through it, and brought out the familiar bag of Radiant Pearls, their luster hidden behind silk fabirc. “I’d…give you one of these, since I think they’re pretty, but…well…” Fie blushed, “It’s…when you give one of these…it’s supposed to be…uhhhh…you’re asking to marry…so…” She put it hastily back. “I’ve also got one of…these…” Fie withdrew what looked like a rolled up ribbon, but when she unfurled it, you recognized strange symbols on it- it looked like one of Maddalyn’s spell tags; not a sort you’d seen before, though. “I don’t know what this is…but it’s rare…if you want it…Or, uh…” From another section, Fie withdrew a thin book, an old looking sort, made of aged, yellowed paper sheaves tied together with string. “This…is supposed to be a guide on massages, exorcisms, and such…but it’s all in the old language. I can’t read it…but I know most of it anyways, except for…well…some of it that’s not really…well.” She flipped through a few pages and showed you; as expected from something produced by a mountain tribe, it was all handwritten; likely not something that should just be given away, but if Fie was feeling thankful…>A Radiant Pearl. >The Spell Tag>The Book>I don’t need any rewards. You should keep all of that.>Other?>A Bride
>>2684456Also tanq, why do you continue to tease us with waifus; Richter is engaged, for Judge's sake.
>>2684456God damn I want to keep Fie in our menagerie...ArghShould we leave her contact details, just in case? Though I bet she'll put them in the spaghetti pocket and drop it at the worst possible opportunity.>>2684456>The Book
>>2684456>The Spell TagMaddy will become a WIZARD!
“That book seems interesting,” you pointed to the item, “If you’re giving a gift, I’ll happily take it, unless…““No…it’s fine. Here.” She shoved it towards you, letting you take the worn pages in hand. “Thank you again….Goodbye…” With that, she gave a short little bow, and went back to the soldier to be escorted away. You wondered if it was irresponsible to let a woman like her go off on her own, but then, she’d done it before, and you had plenty of other places to be. The book was given a quick flip through; there were illustrations, and though the book was only about as thick as your thumb was wide across, the pages seemed well stocked with information both in picture and text form. Of course, as Fie had mentioned, it all looked to be in the ancient language of the mountains, and therefore practically illegible to most. Perhaps your scholarly little woman would be able to do something with it; the words were, after all, handwritten. A quick trek into the truck would solve this. Maddalyn was by herself inside; the other occupants had gone out to stretch their legs.“Maddy,” you got your fiancée’s attention after you clambered in, and you put the book in her lap. “Here. I got it from Fie as a gift for taking her this far. It’s all in funny letters though. Can you read them?”“Hm?” Maddalyn lifted the book and looked at the first page, then the next. “…Yes, I can read this. It looks like…” she flipped through a couple more pages, eyeing each carefully, “The list of contents hinted as such, but, yes, it’s primarily a guide on the treatment of humor imbalances, through traditional techniques of activation and stimulation of the body.”“Have you seen this sort of thing before? In your other reading?”“Sometimes. Those are all written by soulbinders or acolytes though, this just seems like traditional material. Folk physiology, though I suppose if it works…” Maddalyn bit her thumb and stared at the page, “But there’s something else. Something’s wrong, here. It describes some things in a way that’s…strange.”“Strange how?” you asked. In your experience anything “strange” that had to do with the mountains was never a good thing.“I don’t know yet. I need to read it more, but it’s saying some things in a way that’s more like it’s trying to say something else, if that makes any sense.” Maddalyn kept staring at the pages, intensely. “I’ll be able to tell you later, after I read more of this.”
“Did you want to come visit the Captain’s house with me?” you asked Maddalyn.Maddalyn thought about it; “…No, I think I’d rather…”“It’s alright,” you poked her cheek, “It’s only a short visit, I’ll be back before you know it.”“Hmm.” Maddalyn was more focused on the book now; hopefully that wasn’t a bad thing. Though you had rather hoped she’d focus on the massage part and not…whatever was lurking beneath. Back out now, and to Honnrieg. “So are we going?” you asked. The Captain beckoned, and you both got into a car behind a soldier. As the car started, you sparked some conversation. “If I recall correctly, you have a wife and two daughters? Will they be at home waiting for you?”“The folks are almost always out, he says,” the driver called back, “Seeing the relatives and that.”“Well, they ought to be back this time,” you said.Honnrieg smiled wearily. “We’ll see.”It wasn’t a long drive to the large town; it looked to be a modest city in proportion to other places you’d been. Apparently this was a “stop” in between cities, and place had grown because of that. Honnrieg requested that you stop off on a street close by, and the soldier agreed to wait there; “wait there” being relative, since he no sooner leapt out of the car to saunter off to a nearby café.“Lieutenant…nah, we’re not on duty, are we? Richter, yeah? Right.” Honnrieg rattled off as you were walking, “You ain’t green no more, and we’ve been in a few battles. In case we get in any more, you may as well know what my deal is, like your uncle did.”“Your deal?”“Aye.” You followed Honnrieg’s lead in crossing the street, away from a few little girls who were playing near the road. “Something you ought to know. Maybe not, after all, most of my men don’t know it, hardly anybody does, and it’s better that way even though we’ve known each other plenty long. Figure you ought to know, though. Maybe because of your uncle, maybe not.” You came up on the house; it was tucked by a small road that was large enough only for one lane of traffic, with the other reserved for any vehicles that needed to be parked. “Right over here.” Honnrieg pointed at a house crammed in between two others like it, that looked rather thin, with two stories and a roof that implied an attic. Honnrieg let out a sigh. “Haven’t been back in a while, to be honest. Just like me, that.”
“Manfred?” a man came out of the neighboring house, who was about as old as the Captain. “It’s been…damn, three months, where in the world have you been?”“Afternoon, Stefan,” Honnrieg waved to the man, “How’s the wife?”“She’s fine. Who’s this?” the man called Stefan squinted at you.“His name’s Richter Von Tracht. Old Hell’s nephew.”Upon hearing the Von, Stefan gave a short bow. “A pleasure to meet you.” Then, quickly, to Honnrieg. “Manfred, we have to talk. I’m speaking as your old friend here, but if you just vanish for months, and nobody’s living in this house-“Honnrieg held up a hand. “Easy there, Stefan. He doesn’t know yet.”Stefan looked at you, but didn’t seem to care much. “Manfred. She’s not coming back.”“Come on, Richter,” Honnrieg said to you, ignoring anything else Stefan had to say and leading you inside.It was a quaint, cozy residence, the living room taking up the same space as the entryway, with a kitchen and dining room sharing the same space. Stairs upwards were straight ahead; a narrow house, but certainly not unpleasantly so. Everything was immaculately organized; you thought back to what Stefan said about nobody living here. Could it be that..?“Stefan and his family take care of the place while I’m gone,” Honnrieg said distantly, collapsing into a chair, one of a pair, alongside a couch. “I might’ve been leading you on when I said I have a wife and two daughters. The truth is, I had them.” He tucked his hands behind his neck and leaned back, groaning. “I was pretty boring, I suppose, before I joined up with your uncle. We went on all sorts of adventures, and I loved that adventure. My wife didn’t like it, I spent so long courting her, I guess me being gone wasn’t what she was used to…Eh, it’ll be easier to explain if you go upstairs and look about. I’ll be waiting down here.”“You won’t show me around?” you asked.“I haven’t been upstairs in years, kid. Better if I don’t remember anything from up there anyways.”
If that was the way it would be, then. You said nothing as you went around and walked up the stairs, each step creaking as you put your weight onto it. Every door on the second floor was closed; though one had been painted with flowers. You pushed through that door first, and found what must have been the daughters’ room; a bunkbed against the wall indicated they were similar of age enough to reside in the same place, or perhaps the size of the house restricted each having their own room. It was covered in pastel colors, the walls a floral pattern, and each piece of furniture painted in shades that made them look like candy, but everything had faded. Even so, the room was as clean and organized as the rest of the house…save for a stain on the floor by the bed. A closer look; it was old, and somebody had tried to clean it, but the stain was unmistakably blood. A few other faded spatters were nearby, and they had smaller drops near them…coughed up, perhaps?You went back down the stairs.“Didn’t spend much time up there,” Honnrieg observed from below.“I think I saw everything I needed to,” you said.
“While I was out, there was an outbreak.” Honnrieg was speaking to the ceiling as you came down; he had laid the back of the armchair down, and was lying down. “A really bad sort of consumption. Hit kids harder than adults. I didn’t know at the time, I was too busy…goofing off on the border.” He stretched his back, and looked over at you. “I don’t blame your uncle or nothing, though he tried to take it on himself. I was a bad father, no getting around that. I don’t know if both of them died. The youngest did, I heard from Stefan. My wife took the other daughter away, and didn’t tell anybody where she was going.” Honnrieg’s eyes seemed glazed over as he continued to look skyward. “It was hellish, coming back to an empty, dusty house, going to my daughters’ room, and smelling the blood and sickness, and realizing what I’d done…” He pointed a finger at you, “I ain’t gonna tell you how to live your life, but now that we’re back from this, don’t make the same mistake I did. You’ve got a sweet little woman. Don’t leave her alone if you can help it, or it’ll be easier to try and lie and forget than to move all the shit out and sell the house like you should.”All of this…hadn’t been what you expected at all. It was the opposite, in fact. You wanted to say something…but this had happened years ago. Honnrieg didn’t seem more than morose; he was well used to this, yet he still owned this house, and everything within.“Well.” Honnrieg lifted himself up, “Unless you want to do anything else, I’ve shown everything I need to. You want to go get something to eat? Go back and bring your sweetie too, she needs to eat more.”>I’m sure your neighbor bothers you about this plenty, but I’m going to, too. How about you sell this place and move in near me? I’ve got a gamekeeper who might need company.>Sure, the café sounds nice.>Your wife and daughter could still be out there. Maybe this mission will make you famous enough to get them back?>Other?
>>2685752>>I’m sure your neighbor bothers you about this plenty, but I’m going to, too. How about you sell this place and move in near me?Otherwise>Sure, the café sounds nice.
>>2685752>>Sure, the café sounds nice.
>>2685752>I’m sure your neighbor bothers you about this plenty, but I’m going to, too. How about you sell this place and move in near me? I’ve got a gamekeeper who might need company.>Other?I don't know if they will ever return to you, but given what's happened here, I know for certain they'll never come back to this house.
>>2685752>This is not a place to come back to, captain. This... The only one who'd come back here is you. Never them.
“I’m sure your neighbor bothers you about this plenty,” you started.“…Yeah, here we go…” Honnrieg sighed, throwing his head back.“I’m going to bother you about it too. How about you sell this place, stop living, or whatever it is you do, here, and come move in near me?” The mention of this same plan to do this with Hilda was left out; though unlike Hilda you would never have expected the Captain to actually live on your property.Honnrieg didn’t move his head, only looking sideways at you. “You live near the capital, yeah? No thanks. I’m rather fond of Holtenberg, Strosstadt’s smoky air wouldn’t do me well.”“Where I live isn’t industrial, or even urban,” you said defensively, “It’s green and open, and there’s forests nearby.”“Even so.” Honnrieg didn’t sound interested in the slightest, “Not like I’ll hang around there anyways. I’ll just be diving right back into the fray looking for the next high, and it’ll just be another empty house. Like I said, no thanks.”Captain Honnrieg (Or Manfred? He didn’t give you his first name so you didn’t use it; you didn’t know why) didn’t want to budge on this point- but you had to try something. It didn’t feel right to let Honnrieg be shackled to his past; especially one such as this. “Why still call this place your home, then?” you demanded, “I don’t know if what’s left of your family will ever return to you, I won’t lie and try to reassure you they will, but given what’s happened here? I know for certain they’ll never come back to this house. You’re the only one who’s ever coming back here. Never the ones you want to return.”Honnrieg had to think on that one. He looked at you, looked back up, looked again, and sighed. “Heard it before, kid. Not quite that way, but the same sort of thing. I appreciate the effort anyways. My roots are stuck in here. If it turned out that being a Von Tracht wasn’t doing you any good, and it’d be better for you to pick up, go away, and be someone else, would you leave?”“Of course not.” Though it felt as though somebody else was saying that before you thought it.“Exactly.” Honnrieg stabbed a finger lazily at the air, “Where we’ve been, what’s happened to us, that’s who we are, and we can’t get away from that. It’s not good for me to keep coming back here, but,” he let his hand fall on his chest, “When this place is gone, all I’ll be is a rowdy old man who thinks he’s young again, ‘cause he’s going on wild tours like he used to.” When you kept staring at him, he eventually relaxed and sighed, once again. “Fine, fine. I’ll give it a shot.”You breathed your own sigh of relief. “Anyways, the café sounds nice. Let’s go.” Away from this dreary old den of dead memories. Honnrieg gave a final groan and rose up, with you following him out. It was surprising to you how nice the air smelled once you were outside again.
Maddalyn had been dragged along this time, and though she kept flicking her eyes down to the book, she wasn’t intimidated by the Captain like she was by most people; maybe it was his gregariousness, perhaps that he was middle aged, or maybe it was because she was pushed up neatly beside you as you all lounged at a covered table outside of the place. Honnrieg mostly talked at Maddalyn about the troubles of parenting; a rather sad thing now that you knew the truth of his family. He was at least not broken by that, but you weren’t sure if what was going on now was any better.“If you want to convince him to have more than one kid, just make sure the first one’s a girl. He’ll give it at least one more shot. Especially with the blue blood shenanigans.” Honnrieg said, taking a long sup of steaming hot black coffee. “How many do you want, anyways?” He asked as Maddalyn was drinking her tea (liberally seasoned with milk and sugar).Maddalyn looked up from over her teacup. “…What?”“Kids. How many do you want? I’m sure Richter here’d like to know to. Give him a goal to hit.”Maddalyn held on to her tea, and stared into it; her brow furrowed, and her eyes looked oddly empty as she stared down, silent. This caught the Captain off guard. “Sorry, did I..?”“No, it’s…” Maddalyn said softly, “I just never thought about it.”“Never? Really?” Honnrieg looked at you, “Well, Lieutenant, surely you’ve thought about it, no? My experience the women are more forward about this, but somebody’s got to take the initiative at some point.”>I don’t see myself having an upper limit.>Just enough to keep things going. I don’t want to prematurely age my dear, after all. Or perhaps, finally make her begin to age.>She doesn’t want any, for now, and I can respect that.>Other?-----Sorry about the slower speed of updates, but we're actually close to hitting the end of an arc, after which I'll be taking a hiatus to plan out the next one. So the delays are basically me finally reaching the limits of what I planned! Nice work.
>>2687489>I don’t see myself having an upper limit.Being the last of a noble line and all. That said, Maddalyn has something of a final say in all of this.
>>2687489>>I don’t see myself having an upper limit.
>>2687489>I don’t see myself having an upper limit.over 9000 hyuk hyuk
>>2687489>I don’t see myself having an upper limit.But even one would be a blessing.
“I don’t see myself having an upper limit,” you stated baldly. Maddalyn choked on her tea.“Woah boy, you hear that, milady?” Honnrieg hooted as Maddalyn coughed into the back of her hand, “He’s set to wear you out. Going to have to work to keep him tied down with that attitude. Hey, don’t go pale like that, it was a joke.”“My family has been dwindling for some time, it can’t rise again unless our tree grows large once more,” you said defensively. “Putting an awful lot of responsibility on the young lady’s shoulders,” Honnrieg poked a finger at you, “Mind you don’t frighten her.” He looked over at Maddalyn, who was staring at her tea and looking like she’d been touched by a ghost. “See? Good job, Von Tracht, you’ve terrified your fiancée. You’d best spoil her good for that.”“What?” Maddalyn looked up, “No, I…”“You’re allowed to chew out your husband, milady, it’s practically expected.” Honnrieg said lackadaisically. Of course, Maddalyn had chewed you out before, and hit you on top of that when you’d really pissed her off, but her volatility greatly depended on who was around; Honnrieg had never witnessed her less meek side, at least, you couldn’t recall him being around for any of such.“Even just one would be a blessing, though,” you said hastily. “After all, you’ve the final say in all this, don’t you?” You leaned in close to Maddalyn and pecked her on the cheek; she squeaked a bit and tugged away, but the flush on her face and the slight smile told you she was appreciative.“Hey, Cap,” the man who’d taken you here in the first place sauntered out to meet with you, “Time’s about up. Again. Time to take you to jail where you belong.”“Yeah, yeah,” he rose, “I told the owner to put our stuff on your tab.”“After all I’ve done to you? This betrayal shan’t be forgotten.”“I’ll pay when I’m out of court,” Honnrieg winked at the man as he led you all back to the car; taken back and forth once more to retrieve Maddalyn.“Jail?” Maddalyn asked.“He’s kidding,” Honnrieg said, though he said more lowly, “I hope.”-----The next place you were transferred to was indeed a barracks, not a prison; but all your feminine hitchhikers were separated from you, including Maddalyn. Maddalyn’s status as daughter of a territorial lord meant that she and the others were ensured comfortable quarters elsewhere (not that Maddalyn would want to be around the others- Hilda perhaps, but it would be a shock if her loathing of Anya had dimmed in the slightest) but you and the other men stayed in the barracks, that was fenced off. There were still guards as well, although they were much friendlier and more social, they attempted no deceptions as to what their purpose here was.
Soon after your arrival, an official looking man arrived; uniformed, but in the white braided cuffs and collar of an administration officer, wearing no cap. He found you quickly, and cleared his throat, reaching forth to grip your hand in greeting.“Good afternoon, Lieutenant Von Tracht. I am from the Army Legal Office of Holtenberg. I’ve come to deliver a notice for your court martial, unhappy news as that may be, but I have also brought you a chance to make a deal, perhaps save us all some time, and hasten court proceedings.” He withdrew a set of papers, stamped with the seal of his office. “This may seem unusual, but then again, most who are suspected of treason are tried before a military tribunal instead of a court, so we are all seeing something new.”“Why would that be?” you asked.“Likely because somebody from above would rather your record not be stained overly much,” the legal officer handed you the pages, “I hope not to offend you too much by stating that I work for your prosecution, but I’ve come with a deal. Read through it, perhaps have your defense read it, if you would hire any, but this may expedite the process, and save much time and money. This is a plea bargain; if you preemptively state your guilt, the stated punishments will be given, and nothing more than that. Read them, if you will.”You did read them, your eyes glazing through legal jargon until you found the mentioned section.“A six month reduction in pay?” you asked, unable to hide your disbelief, “For high treason and abandonment of duty?” This was a punishment for delinquency, practically a slap on the wrist for crimes much lower. “Do the others have something like this?”“All of the accused have been presented similar documents, yes. Some enlisted will be suffering demotions. Besides that, yes, if you plea guilty, this will be the extent of punishment.”It was ludicrous. Ridiculous. You stared at the papers once more; was this a joke? It had the Intelligence Office’s handwriting on it, but…you didn’t know whether to be thankful, confused, or offended.“If at a later date you feel you have been deceived by this agreement and think that what will happen was not properly laid out by me,” he pulled some pages back and pointed at a secondary signature line, a signature below that; probably his officer’s. “Then this clause will allow you to file suit, no matter your sentence or legal status, against my office, and request a reversal of sentencing. In short, if you think we’ve tricked you, you can have it all taken back after proving that this agreement did not match the judgment of this case, though a retrial would be forthcoming. I have a copy of these documents for you to keep as well.”>This is extremely unusual, but if this is all…then I’ll accept.>I am guilty of no crimes. I will be coming to court, and pleading not guilty, thank you.>Other?
>>2688046>>This is extremely unusual, but if this is all…then I’ll accept.
>>2688046So are the charges that we're pleading guilty to equally reduced to match the pay reduction punishment, like some minor insubordination charge? Or are we still pleading guilty to high treason? Because I think we should be more worried about our record than the punishment, in case someone tries to use it against us later.
>>2688108Clever girl.No, the charges are the same.
>>2688141In that case we must protest. We'd be happy to make a deal in the interest of avoiding waste of army resources on a trial, but we must ask that we are allowed to plead to a lesser charge.
>>2688046>OtherWe need a lawyer.Technically we did desert, and we can't publically say IO made us do it, but a confirmed treason is an enormous stain on our record AND our family honor.Since we ultimately did it in the interests of the state, we need to press this narrative and pursue having the charges kicked down to insubordination or something.We also need to get our story out to the press - the official version, of course, without mentioning the IO, but we need to get the public opinion on our side.
changing vote then to try and lower charges
>>2688046>OtherOffer to take a greater punishment for a more minor charge.
“I couldn’t help but notice,” you said, looking at the paper again, “That the charge is still high treason. Abandonment of duty. Could we have that knocked down to…say, insubordination? Perhaps if I were to accept a greater punishment”“My office was informed that you would take this bargain for what it is.” The official said back. That was a "no," then.“Whoever informed you of that was incorrect.” You said.“So you will be contesting this accusation in court?” the white cuffed man asked. You nodded. “Very well then. I must warn you, however, that if you hire a defense, there will be little time for them to prepare. The state has demanded that this trial end in quick fashion, such was the purpose of this plea deal.”“I understand that, but I dislike this particular charge. It carries with it a stain on my honor, one that I cannot allow in good conscience.”“Well then. The trial will be in two days, then. I predict that it will be concluded very quickly indeed. Good day, Lieutenant Von Tracht, and good luck.” As the official went away, you thought about what you needed to do. A lawyer; you needed a lawyer, state representation, though it was your right, by nature of the state also being the prosecution would probably be weighted against you. If you were to be defended by a court appointee you may as well have accepted the plea bargain. Yet the obvious choice didn’t appeal to you either. It had been…a few months at least since you’d spoken, and he probably wouldn’t like that your first words in a while would be about…this. What choice was there, though? At this hour, on this day…he’d probably be at work, hopefully not with any cases. You went to a soldier, requested to use a telephone, and got it.
“Operator.”“I’m calling somebody in Strosstadt. Von Tracht and Associates Legal Affairs.” You gave the number, as well. “You mean Tracht and Associates?”It annoyed you that your father refused to use his title. “Yes, that would be it.”You were connected, and a secretary responded to your call.“I’d like to speak with Geraldt Von Tracht. I am his son, Richter.” You stated this plainly, and the secretary took no time in fetching your father…though you dreaded speaking to him at a time like this.Your father’s voice was well suited for a family patriarch, as much as he might rather pursue the life of a man of lesser station. It was throaty and deep, much like Heller’s was, though he spoke more contemplatively. “Richter? Is that you?” “Yes, father.”“We were informed that you deserted, and would be declared a traitor…are you alright?”“I am. Though I need your help.”“Since you called my office instead of home…” your father figured it out, “Traitors are judged by military tribunal. I could not help you there, but-““Actually, this is a court martial. I want to request that you…help me. Can you?”“Of course I will help you, Richter,” your father said as though he couldn’t believe you felt the need to ask, “Though you certainly picked an abrupt way to enter your mother and I’s lives once more. When is the trial?”“Two days.”You heard your father almost fall over. “Two days!?” he shouted, “Ridiculous! Proper procedure would demand much, much more time. This trial is extremely strange…I must be going at once, then.”“A moment.” You waited for your father to sit back down. “I was also given an option to plea bargain, where I would accept the charges of high treason and abandonment of duty, but for a minor punishment. Six months of reduced pay.”“…And you did not take that?”
“W-well,” you sensed that your father would be frustrated, “It would be stain upon our family’s honor. Treason, abandonment of duty? What would Helman Von Tracht, all of our ancestors, have to say about-““Damn it all, Richter!” your father shouted you down, “None of that matters! I’ve told you so many times in the past…” he took a breath, “…Damn it all. Just because the rest of our family was made up of damn fools doesn’t mean you have to mimic them!”“Father…It’s…” you sputtered, “It’s my honor, my record as well. I’ve done great things! I don’t want to be tarred with this accusation, not after all I’ve done. Neither do I want it for my comrades, should they be charged in spite of my pleas otherwise.”“…No, You’re right, my son. I apologize.” A moment. “Did you actually desert? Or did something else happen?”“…It’s complicated.”“Fine then.” Your father said, “How about this. Did you do the right thing?”The Intelligence Office couldn’t be implicated in this, you felt; the truth wouldn’t set you free here, but you knew you could say one thing for certain. “My fiancée was abducted. Many men and women of my country were in danger. I could not simply stand by, and stand down and do nothing. I did no wrong, and neither did any of the men who came with me to help in my mission.”“Then that is all I need to know for now.” You father said, “Where are you?” You told him. “I’ll be there by tomorrow at the latest. I can’t promise that you’ll walk away with no charges, but I can certainly reduce the severity of the charge. Ah, and Richter? Call your mother. She’s been worried sick for a good month. Be a good son.”Click. With a heavy sigh, you span the dial again, and prepared to speak with your fretful mother…-----An hour of explanations and apologies later, you were run ragged and well ready to stop talking, and with your mother finally satisfied with what she knew of the situation, she let you go. Part of you wished that the Intelligence Office had just whisked you away somewhere else as soon as you had been done here.
The wait didn’t feel like long, considering you had fellow officers and crew to chatter with; it was evening when you father arrived, by taxi, at the place. He found you before you found him; he stood before you and your crew, in a dark brown three piece suit and Homburg hat, and tipped it to them.“You must be Richter’s friends. Good evening. I am Geraldt Von Tracht, and I will be representing your son…perhaps all of you, in court. Considering that your cases have overlap, but we’ll see. I haven’t had any time to acquire any of the case files.”“A pleasure to meet you, milord,” Stein stood and bowed deeply.“Oh, Judge Above, none of that, please,” Your father pushed stein back up. “Richter hasn’t been making you do that, has he?”“Oh, no,” Hans smirked, “He’s been a very poor impression of a blue blood. Stein here just likes to show off.”Jorgen and Malachi had little to say, thankfully; they merely nodded in acknowledgement.“Very good then,” your father straightened his hat. “Richter, if you will come with me? We need to talk.” You both went to a relatively secluded place; nothing so discrete as to make interruptions impossible, but decently private; a small office room, that was not in use right now.“If I am going to defend you in this case, Richter,” your father said, sounding tired, “I need to know what happened. Everything. Do not shy away from any details…well, perhaps if they’re completely irrelevant,” he smiled at you, “but if there’s anything important that you think you need to hide…don’t, for your sake. Every detail might have a place in what’s to come, especially with how little time we have.”Normally, you wouldn’t hesitate; hell, you would be proud and pleased to share, but so many important details involved the Intelligence Office; details you were sure weren’t meant to be told to others. If they found out you’d shared them, why, you’d be breaching the security of the state! And who knew what punishment would be legitimately laid upon you for such…>Tell everything; especially of the IO’s involvement.>Leave out the Intelligence Office in this; frame it all as a personal endeavor, even if it meant you had to craft lies to fill in holes in the story.>Other?
>>2688438I like our dad already.>>2688439>Tell everything; especially of the IO’s involvement.Who can we trust if not our father? But try to make it clear IO must not, in any circumstances, even suspect he knows.Also, let's introduce him to Maddy.
>>2688439>Tell everything; especially of the IO’s involvement.This includes magicians and immortal border guards
>>2688709>>2688439Let's not tell about magicians. It's irrelevant to the situation.
>>2688439Seconding telling about the IO as long as he understands he can't tell anyone else about it because they're a bunch of deceitful bastards. Also seconding not telling about the magic stuff since that will probably just make him think we're crazy. Also don't mention the part where we suspect we were brainwashed in some sort of secret government program like a shitty Jason Bourne.
>>2688439>Tell everything; especially of the IO’s involvement.Make sure no one is listening. Try to find something to drown out the conversation with like a record player or maybe a faucet of running water.
>>2688816>>2688462+1>>2688812>. Also seconding not telling about the magic stuff since that will probably just make him think we're crazy.We can demonstrate it with the magic items we own, magical contacts, and Maddalyn.>Also don't mention the part where we suspect we were brainwashed in some sort of secret government program like a shitty Jason Bourne.I don't think Richter suspects that yet, his head starts hurting when he questions Strossvald too much.
>>2680742Who's the tanker in the bottom-left, Malachi?
>>2688932Porco Rosso>>2688816CLOSE THE CURTAINS. Watch out for the smarmy, lip reading, binocular looking spook!
You decided that you’d tell of everything; up to and including the involvement of the Intelligence Office. “Alright, every detail,” you said carefully, looking around, “Even the ones that might be…sensitive?”“Oh, no, Richter, I hardly need to know of every time you used the bathroom,” your father Geraldt said, standing up briefly to pull down the window blinds on the far end of the room. Thin bars of light were cast downward, leaving the rest of the room in dull lamplight as he pulled a notebook and pencil out of his briefcase, and began to write on it. “For notes, you see.” He put the book down and pushed it towards you, pointing at the words he wrote on it. You looked down, and read the writing…to find that it was a message.Anything that you don’t feel safe having heard, write here. Unlikely that building is bugged, considering improvised site, and nobody close listening, but can never be too careful. You nodded back at him in acknowledgement. “So how did it all begin?”You rattled off your deployment to Salzbrucke, then the start of the war; the mission with Bat Company seemed irrelevant in totality. Though when you lackadaisically described your assembly of your band of rogues and materiel, you knew your father’s attention was really on what you were writing on the paper. Intelligence Office captured Maddalyn Von Blum, do not know why. Came up with plan to destroy enemy obstacle and rescue hostages by having my band and I feign desertion in order to be able to close with enemy mercenary commander. Part of agreement was my ability to return afterwards honorably. Writing that down made your brains feel like they were being squeezed; it wasn’t shocking to realize, not anymore, but you still didn’t want to think about it; you merely presented it how it flashed in the mind. Your father read these notes, nodded, and asked a dull question about the events you were describing; fluff for both of you, as you began to write down what you thought was actually pertinent; your father had said not to shy away from detail, but you had a feeling about which were more important.
You debated with yourself whether or not to mention soulbinders; they were up to something, you knew, though neither the Riverman nor Poltergeist seemed to be interested in much beyond their personal goals; the Oblitares sorcerer, on the other hand, who had called himself Hound of the East, he seemed extremely suspicious. Though when you mentioned it on paper, your father clicked his tongue and shoved the page back after a quick scrawl.Keep focused on the IO.Had he caught the scent of something? Perhaps he would say. You went on to the subject of Liemanner, Loch, the Iron Hogs; the players of the next scene. On the paper, you mentioned Loch’s history with you; his appearance in the Blumlands, and your interaction with the Intelligence Office there. When you got to Heller Von Tracht and your discovery of his fate, and his legacy, your father sighed.“I thought as much would happen eventually, though not in that way. A shame, in spite of his behavior and bad habits.” Though, as he said this, he wrote busily. You looked at this next message. Were you given any messages, packages, letters? Schweinmann had indeed given you Heller’s letter- it had been written as though either you, or your father could have received it. The envelope and all still being on your person, wax seal still stuck on the page within, you handed the whole thing over. Your father took it, read the letter, and then thought for a second before peeling the wax seal off of the bottom, and peeling it apart, slowly, carefully; inside was a very small black square, itself in two pieces; a very small box.After the box was slipped into a coat pocket, the notebook was passed back. Microfilm. Miniaturized photographs of writing, of things that may be very important. Not easy to do in the position your uncle was in.What’s in them? you wrote back, but your father said aloud, “Go ahead and finish your account, then.”You did, all the while writing down the parts you didn’t say out loud; for example, how the Intelligence Office had blatantly stated what they intended to happen, after meeting back up with you. After you were finished, and had caught back up to the present, your father began to write furiously, and at length. When you got the notebook again, there was a long message indeed waiting for you.
Richter. There is something rotten in the center of this country, and it is extremely dangerous to come close to it without being as careful as possible. Heller Von Tracht found out some things. He was able to deliver the knowledge of such to me, though I was unable to follow any leads until very recently. Your story itself is also a lead, but one I am not glad to have found, because it means my family may have become involved in a dangerous conspiracy. It is a complex affair to explain in totality, so I will stick with my biggest discovery, and why it is so important. It has much to do with your marriage, actually.You’ve never been one to keep up with domestic politics, but even you surely remember when the Crown Prince of Strossvald was murdered two years ago. The important factor is who was first accused; it was the heir of the Von Blum family, firstborn son of Barnabas Von Blum. I took on his case, and with some detective work of my own, I was able to prove the innocence of the Von Blum heir. He was innocent; but I found out more than that. Of course, my only task in a court of law is to get a not guilty verdict, but I found out more nevertheless. I know not who truly murdered the crown prince, only that the Intelligence Office hid it, and that they did their best to have Barnabas’s son convicted. I believe that I have evaded detection for now; I will burn these notes after we part, just to be safe. However, the events that have happened to you, and their link to the Intelligence Office- I do not like what this is leading to. Avoid provoking them, do not attempt to dig deeper into what is happening. If your uncle indeed died by accident, I would be very surprised.Be very, very careful. After this trial, I expect you to do your best to placate the Intelligence Office until I have solved the puzzle. Until that event, when we know how deep this hole is and where it goes, the only safe thing to do is to observe.“I believe with that story, I can cite valiance in the field and your rescue of the citizenry, as well as your coming back in the first place, to turn you from a traitor into an insubordinate.” Your father said. “As your legal counsel, if you have any questions,” he tapped the pencil on the page before you and let it fall in front, “do not hesitate to ask. After that, though…is your fiancée around? I have met most of her siblings, but not her. You should introduce me.”That note…was very much to take in. It couldn’t be true, could it? Part of you wanted to say, Of course! It’s obvious!, but your mind turned to seawater and swirled in your skull if you pondered that more than a moment.>Any questions? Be careful of how much you make yourself think>Be careful, be safe, don’t piss off the IO. Got it.>Other?
>>2689207>Any questions?What did Uncle Heller find out?>Be careful, be safe, don’t piss off the IO. Got it.On a lesser note, I am glad that the other anons participating in this quest have more nuance situational awareness than I. This is obviously something that requires finesse which I'm not helping constantly trying to say fuck you to the IO.
>>2689207>Any questions?Do you think this trial will be publicised by news?I still want to work the press angle. Not provoking the IO, just trumping up our achievements.
>>2689319Supporting this but also, Should we take the deal?
>>2689428I think it's too late and our father should be able to reduce the charges anyhoo.
>>2689207>Be careful, be safe, don’t piss off the IO. Got it.>>2689416Yeah definitely. Public knowledge can't be censored. If we inform the people we rescued who are still around, I'm sure enough of them will want to lend support. Talk to the press, hang around in and outside the court house. Surely no one can stop them from singing the praise of the man who saved them. So even if it's not publicized by state news it's going to make the rounds real quick.It may make it more difficult (hopefully) for the IO to work solely in the shadows, it may give us a little leeway, make it just a little harder to make us disappear. Might be wishful thinking but it's worth a try. And speaking of advantage, tanq. It seems the IO/military really don't want us to keep tank-kun... but we've got a briefcase full of gold. Half full? A little less when everyone's been paid- anyway- is it possible to purchase it privately? That way we can safely tuck it away somewhere, like the cave with the demiphantom.
>>2689534Technically the tank doesn't belong to the army; it belongs to Von Blum. Whose daughter you regularly swap spit with.I'm sure something could be arranged as far as ownership goes.But really the mission stuff is more due to the difficulty of getting it over as well as risk of falling into unwanted hands than who it belongs to.
>>2689605Ah. I actually forgot that, even though you used to really hammer it in that the tanks were awesome because they belonged to him.
>>2689207>>Be careful, be safe, don’t piss off the IO. Got it.
Sorry about the delays today, I didn't sleep last night because I'm silly and that's thrown me all out of wack for the rest of the day. I'll be back tomorrow.
You wrote back your questions. Do you think this trial will be publicized by any news? Since it’s so sudden and strange. Also, what did Heller Von Tracht find out?Your father looked briefly at the paper, then at you. Natural conversation continued as he wrote, to give the illusion of such to anybody who might be listening. “I don’t see this case ending quickly. They were probably hoping you’d accept their deal. If I try to contest for evidence and get testimonies this could drag out for quite a while, potentially.” He slid his answer to your questions to you.If I were them, I wouldn’t allow any journalists in, and I would try to keep quiet about the whole affair. Did you tell the people you rescued to talk about this? You looked up at your father, held up a finger to say you were addressing the first point, and nodded. You did have Maddalyn and the others go out and spread word of your adventure; how well it took would have yet to be seen. Even so, you’d need time for it to spread properly. With the initial arrangement, everything would be over before there was time for that story to spread at all. The next answer, though. Don’t involve yourself too deeply. Much safer for you to not know. Leave everything to me. Focus on keeping yourself safe. Apparently you were not to know; for whatever reason, you were more relieved than disappointed.“With all of that out of the way,” Geraldt Von Tracht said, folding the notebook away, to be burned later. “We have quite a bit of work ahead of us. I’ll drop by the legal offices and inform them I’ll be defending you. I’ve got quite a night and a whole day ahead. It’s been a while since the last time I’ve had to work all night and day, let’s preface that with me getting to know your future better, alright?”Of course, you couldn’t exit this compound now that you were here; at least not until it was time for you to be escorted to your trial, but Holtenberg’s own were amicable enough to send for Maddalyn. She was around soon enough, looking quite uncomfortable, for some reason.“Hello, dear,” you helped Maddalyn out of the car she’d come back in, “How has your evening been?”“I’ve just been looking at the book you gave me,” Maddalyn brushed off her dress, “That Hilda woman was acting all strangely, and she went out. I thought that wretched other one was going out, she said she was going for a walk, but I looked around outside and she was chasing around a stray cat like an imbecile. So I…” Maddalyn took you by the arm, “…Was hoping we’d have some time with one another.”
“My father has come to defend me in court. I thought you and him could meet.” You took her along in his direction, “Apparently he defended your brother?”“Step-brother.” Maddalyn corrected. “It was quite an event. Hadn’t you heard of it? Especially considering your own father was involved in it?”“I…” The reason you had for not knowing wasn’t a good one. “It wasn’t a subject that held my interest.”“…Right. Does your father approve of your career?”“I don’t think so.” You admitted, “He’s of the mind that my ambitions should be steered…elsewhere.”“…I can understand how he feels,” Maddalyn wrapped her arm around yours and pushed herself close, “But to complain about it after all that has happened would be unjust.”“I’m sure we’re on the edge of an era of peace and prosperity,” you said. Maddalyn believed that statement about as much as you had when you said it, judging by the short, huffy sigh she let out.You both met Maddalyn’s soon to be father in law in the courtyard, where she was greeted by him with a bow.“Good evening, milady, Maddalyn Von Blum, I presume? I am Geraldt Von Tracht, Richter’s father. I’ve met your father and siblings, but never had the honor of meeting you. Although…” He squinted at Maddalyn, “…The resemblance to your sister is uncanny, but it’s been some time since I saw Mathilda, and you are supposed to be older… How old are you again?”Maddalyn squeezed your arm reflexively; she had taken offense. “I’m twenty-three!”Your father frowned, stared some more, and shrugged. “Right. I couldn’t help but notice, milady, your eye. Was it always like that?”
Maddalyn touched her eyepatch. “…Ah…no, I lost it while I was-“ she caught herself and looked quickly at you. “I mean, it’s, er, I…It’s fine, It’s just…heal…ing? It was er, hurt, while I was imprisoned in Sosaldt.” You hadn’t told your father of the gruesome details of your fiancée’s mutilation; she’d gotten her eye back, so it was all alright…wasn’t it? Although as more time had gone on, you suspected more and more that all was not well.“I see.” Your father scratched his chin slowly with three fingers, one at a time; something he had always done when he was suspicious. “As long as the patch is temporary. Its look ill suits a fair young noblewoman.”“Nmm…” Maddalyn didn’t have anything more than a discomforted grunt in response.“So, Richter’s going to be heading out again in a week and a half, so I hear,” your father observed; you’d told him about that, and Maddalyn knew as well, informed earlier. “And the wedding’s been postponed. With this trial, I think a lot of my son’s vacation time’ll be eaten up, I’m sad to say. I haven’t spoken with Lord Von Blum about it yet, but I suppose it would do just as well to ask you. Do you want to be married before or after he heads back out again?”“…Er…” Maddalyn was unsure. “It’s…it’s not that I don’t love him…” Maddalyn squeezed your arm once more, wrapping both arms around it, “I…I really, really do, but…it’s just…”She looked down pitifully, “I don’t know if it’s too much a luxury considering what Rchter has to do. And…if you’re married, and you do not consummate… Richter understands, I don’t want to have children so soon, but…there isn’t any chance of that abstinence tempting gossip of a scandal, if we aren’t married…”“Hmph,” your father scowled, “Scandal indeed. I would say the only ones who would theorize about such matters that are hardly their business are those not worth giving the attention, but the political concerns are admittedly just. We are not a large or important family, though,” your father peered at you, “Despite what some may think. I think you could do just fine without paying heed to that, so long as Richter himself thinks the same. What do you think, son?”>If you can find a priest and a ring I’ll marry her right here on the spot.>If she wants to wait, then wait we shall. I don’t plan on letting her go, though, we’ll be wed eventually.>Well, in case I get sent into a death trap next, I certainly wouldn’t want Maddalyn to have to suffer more than one marriage ceremony. >Other?
>>2693081>If you can find a priest and a ring I’ll marry her right here on the spot.
>>2693081>I don’t plan on letting her go, If you can find a priest and a ring I’ll marry her right here on the spot.
>>2693081>>If she wants to wait, then wait we shall. I don’t plan on letting her go, though, we’ll be wed eventually.It's more her honor than ours, after all we are about to go to trial for High Treason.
>>2693081>>If you can find a priest and a ring I’ll marry her right here on the spot.
“If you can find a priest and a ring, I’ll marry her right here on the spot,” you declared, wrapping your arm tautly round Maddalyn’s waist. Maddalyn made another uncomfortable noise- it was worrying, but at the same time her vocalizations were like those of a kitten, and found difficulty in inspiring doubt in those who heard it. Of course, the priesthood was no longer an organ of states, not since Kaiser Alexander had dismantled the church, but even with no Patriarch, marriage still had to be witnessed and executed by a representative of the Judge of All- as was good and proper. “I am glad, at least, that you’ve taken a shine to one another,” your father said, “I know neither of you were engaged out of love, but it’s always better for the matter to be a pleasant thing if possible.” He gave Maddalyn a short bow, “I appreciate your putting up with him. Richter has always been overly focused on, let us say, subjectively important matters. It’s a bit of a surprise, and a good one, that you’ve managed to seduce him so. At one point in my life I was concerned that he would never marry to anything but a game board!”A crass comment came to thought as that mockery prompted you to think of the similarities between Maddalyn’s frontal aspects and a game board. Perhaps what was needed was a close enough resemblance.“In any case,” your father dug out his watch, opened it, and glanced at it, “I would love to speak more and get to know each other better, but I’m quite short on time. It was a pleasure, milady.”“Mm. You too.” Maddalyn said quietly.“Remember, if Richter ever behaves out of line,” he waved a finger at you, “Tell me, and I’ll see justice served.”You didn’t like the mischievous look Maddalyn gave you as your father left to prepare the legal field for battle. “Do you hear that?” she said lowly as the head of the Von Trachts left out the gate, “Next time you grab my butt I’ll tell on you.” Oh, how you would have loved to have tested that bluff.-----We're almost off the board, so I'll be ending this thread, but a few things. Next thread’ll be next week, and it’ll be the finisher to this arc. It won’t be the end of Panzer Commander (I’d say we’re around the three fifths mark right now), but I’ll be taking a hiatus to sort of keep fresh while also running something else. This something else will be happening the week after the arc end thread, so in about a month.>>2681117I left this be for a while since I wasn't really sure how to address it, but I think the simplest thing to say would be,Richter would have to be a pretty huge tool to dump Maddy at this point.
>>2694269Thanks for running.
>>2694269>the end of Panzer Commander
>>2694269On one hand I don't want it to end, but on the other I'm glad that you have an ending planned and aiming for it. Too few quests come to a conclusion and far too many run well past the point where they should.
>>2695232>>2695610Hate to see her leave but love to see her walk away.