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/qst/ - Quests

After letting out a cry of anguish you managed to somewhat gather yourselves.
Your consciousness still dwells on the events that transpired but at least your body has started performing what needed to be done.
Partly due to the unholy assault and partially thanks to you trying to trap the demon in a blazing inferno most of the supplies that the imperials brought were destroyed.
But luckily there were some scraps left which you managed to salvage.

There was some food, drinks and firewood which you took.
Not much in the way of money though.

Shambling towards the light like unliving ghouls you stopped for a moment while Szikra moved on.
Looking down at the lifeless corpse of the boy made your heart sink deep into your bowels.
You did the only thing you could and lifted up what remained of him and carried him out.
And much like with Kibo you also halted at the remains of Braham and searched his remains for anything you could use.

Much to your relief the small reliquary containing his orders was still somewhat intact.
Unsure whether or not you even want to continue you took it just in case.
A part of you still wants to complete the task for the money if nothing else. And should you keep going you'll need this.

The light marking the exit of the cave was close by and the short trek leading there was long enough for you to sober up a bit.
Upon leaving you found Szikra sitting on a rock watching the white landscape in front of her.
There wasn't much snow around you but all the dew was frozen, tinting the plants and the soil around you white. A sign that you were getting close to the north.
She sat and watched silently until you stepped up to her.

"It's pretty isn't it?
How could such a place hide something so... ugly?"
Her voice was devoid of almost all emotion except sorrow.

Setting down the body of the kid out of sight you walked up to her.
"Your head... it needs to be treated."

You spoke up as you looked at the crimson liquid slowly being frozen to the girls forehead.
The cut wasn't too deep but it hit a vein so blood kept gushing out of it.
Soaking a rag in some wine you cleaned her forehead and started wrapping a bandage around her.
You were not used to bandaging others so you fumbled around a bit before you managed to get it right.

It's just not fair!
He was just a kid!"

You looked down to the side...

>He was not a boy... He was a man.
>Yes. Tragic.
>Don't dwell on it. There is only one thing we can do for him now... a burial.
>Are you allright?
>Other? (write-in)
>Don't dwell on it. There is only one thing we can do for him now... a burial.
>He was not a boy... He was a man.
>Don't dwell on it. There is only one thing we can do for him now... a burial.
>He... Was a soldier.
>Don't dwell on it. There is only one thing we can do for him now... a burial.
Okay. I'll take this.


and while I'm at it please decide which one do you prefer to cut off

Not to sure I want to continue this job, I am willing to chalk it up to a loss unless we can get a new group to come and join us.
Agreed. We got our shit royally pushed in when we had overwhelming numbers. The only way we could 2 man this would be if we played this very smart and the dice don't fuck us. And the dice always fuck us.
That's understandable.
But I assure you, you'll have your opportunity to bail out.
You shook your head.
"Don't dwell on it."

"Don't DWELL on it?!"
She snapped at you.
"Are you listening to yourself?!
I get that you are an uncaring asshole but for just once in your damned life you could show some emotion and CARE!"

"And what would that accomplish?"
You respond in a cold manner.


"You've never witnessed it before so your shock is understandable.
But such incidents are not uncommon.
If you stop and worry about all the wrong in this world then you won't have any time left to live."

She then slapped your hand away and looked at you with fiery rage in her eyes.
"WE just watched a fucking DEMON of all things butcher TWENTY men, including a CHILD!

This time you frowned at her.
"Don't disgrace him..."


"I don't know what his reasons were but he laid down his life for them. That conviction alone makes them worth fighting for!
The moment he enrolled in that academy of his he ceased being a boy... He was a man.
And he died a soldier!
I may despise the Empire.
But I have nothing but admiration for him."

Having left Szikra speechless you went over to Kibo and took out a knife.
Cutting off his arm you proceeded to neatly wrap it up in cloth before burying what remained of his body.
Then you looked the girl deep in the eye.

"I know your pain...
But if you let his demise get to you it will only bring forth your own doom.
Right now the only thing of worth that we can do is make sure he gets a proper burial."
Standing up you offered a hand to Szikra.
"Come. Let's get away from this place."

Letting out a pained smirk she accepted your hand and you pulled her up.
Not wasting any time you started arching through the rime covered fields while you took out the captains orders from his container.
Flipping through the papers you found what you were looking for.

There were several reports sent by a group of scouts who've been keeping an eye on the bandits lead by that ominous Julian.
Using them you got a pretty clear direction as to where you should be going.
If nothing else you feel obliged to at least notify these scouts that the reinforcements they are waiting for will never arrive.
"Okay... these directions are pretty easy to follow.
We should have no trouble finding the remaining imperials."

Szikra suddenly spoke up.
"You can read?!
Well... color me impressed."

"Yes. But I'm not perfect.
If I'm reading this correctly... the scouts shouldn't be too far away."

Suddenly you felt your shoulder being tugged by Szikra.
"Hey... look."
She pointed away from the beaten path.

"Probably a spring with hot water."

"Hey um...
C-Can we like... go and check it out?
By the Dead God, I feel like I need a bath right now..."

While Szikra wasn't looking you gave a quick whiff to your clothes.
Though you were accustomed to your own musk you couldn't help but reel back a bit as it's been a while ago since you last visited a bathhouse.
And the concept of refreshing yourself sounded quite appealing.
But there was still the job to worry about.

You started to ponder.
>Why not...
>We can come back later. Let's find these imperials first and get our money...
>Other? (write-in)
>Why not...
There are myriad advantages to being clean, really, and the bandits aren't going anywhere.
Could we use this little detour to use our artefact whilst she uses the spring?
It's possible, yes
Then it that gets my vote, we almost lost our arm to a ambush, either start learning to heal or use blood as a weapon already.
Bath time!

"I think we could use a little rest."
You touched your shoulder nervously.
"And the bandits won't likely go anywhere.
So... why not?"

She sighed with relief and the two of you made your way to the area from where the steam was coming from.
When you arrived row upon row of small, hairy animals watched you from the edges of the springs.
For a group of animals they didn't seem to be too troubled by your presence. Looking at their tired gazes you wondered if they even recognized you at all.

"Well... this is not what I expected."
Szikra observed and then turned to you.
"Okay. Turn away!"


"I'm not going to undress in front of you idiot!"

"I've seen naked women before.
There is not much you can show me I haven't seen be-"
But before you could finish she took off her leather armor and tossed it in your face.

"Turn. Away!"

Grunting you showed your back to her and neatly folded up her clothes before doing the same.
After hearing Szikra make a splash with her entrance you finished up the process of undressing and hopped in alongside her.
At first she covered herself with a gasp but she quickly changed her attitude once she realized everything below her neck was underwater and you couldn't see it.

"Well these guys don't seem to be too bothered by us. Not unlike you...
You really aren't shy, huh?"


"Too bad. I was hoping I could at least tease you."
She then shifted her focus on your shoulder which was bleeding a bit.
"It looks bad..."

Grabbing the wound you splashed a bit of water on it to clean it out somewhat.
"I felt it opening up a bit when I tossed you...
At least it's not infected."

Afterwards you sat back and tried to relax, occasionally splashing water on your face to keep yourselves awake in the hot bath.
But eventually Szikra grew bored of the silence.

"Hey erm... sorry for yelling at you.
I know I stepped out of line."

"Don't mention it.
I understand."

"No you don't get it!
I called you an unfeeling, uncaring bastard.
While you just happened to handle... it differently.
I'm sorry."

You looked her in the eye and then nodded.
There was another awkward pause after that.
But she appeared to be at a loss for words about what to say next.
So you decided to help her out.

You didn't go into much detail about what made you choose this life.
Do you feel like talking about it?"

She sighed.
"I... suppose I should.
Now that I know what I signed up for... and since you told me yours I guess it's time I opened up about it."
She leaned back against the rocks dotting the side of the natural pool and began to recount her story, which surprisingly enough managed to get the attention of the small hairy animals.
"I guess you read my name then...
Grimen... Szikra Grimen.
Have you heard of my father?"

"Lord Grimen?
The one who stopped the West in its tracks..."

She laughed at that.
"HAH! As if!
That's just a rumor. A wives tale that got out of hand.
It's true that father fought against the West and that he held them up for weeks.
But it's not as legendary as you might think. It was just a splinter force that broke off from the main one.
And after a week of fighting against my fathers forces they simply decided that it was not worth the trouble and went around him.
Which was a good thing because his forces were reaching their limit."

She then looked at you with a serious look that really was out of character from her.
"But it was still the thing that made me become who I am.
I remember worrying day after day with my mother and my little brother.
Worrying when father would come back and in what condition.
When it was over I was glad he came back in one peace. But... it also made me realize something.
That I didn't want to loose him.
Before that I was a proper noble girl. I learned needlework from my mother, etiquette and singing from my teachers, wore dresses and so on.
But then... everything changed."

"I forced the hands of my fathers captain of the guard to teach me.
I picked up a sword and ordered him to train me.
When he hit me and I tasted blood for the first time... something changed in me.
I... loved it. The weight of the blade, the thrill of the fight, the pain.
It felt like awakening from a dream. For the first time in my life I felt like I was the child of my father.
Not that he didn't love me, I never felt like that... But as a warrior he was a little disappointed when his firstborn was a girl.
I ditched the dresses and the courtseys in favor of leather and steel.
Then... my father found out."

"And what did he do?"

"He humored me...
He hired better trainers one after another. I outgrew each one.
I even came up with the idea of that spear over there to compensate for my shortcomings. And our blacksmiths made it just for me."

"Your father must've been proud."

But there was one slight problem that irritated him.
My little brother...
Don't get me wrong, I love the little boy with all my heart.
But he's a far cry from a proper man. I guess fathers balls got in a twist or something... because his daughter grew to be a fierce warrior and his son turned out to be a petite, wispy little boy who could easily be mistaken for a girl if you put him in a dress which I frequently did.
He hated fighting, politics and everything that came with being a noblemans heir.
The only things he loved were reading and poetry."

Then Szikras expression soured.
"Father hated that...
He thought we were bringing shame to his name.
So he had enough."
"He forcibly started educating my little brother and told me to knock it off with the fighting.
Up until that point I kicked every one of my courtiers in the nuts. Fathers response was arranging a marriage for me.
Imagine that...
A boy who has no talent nor any desire to lead a house being forced to do just that.
And me... being sold off like a breeding mare to forge an alliance.
Tasting freedom and then having a collar slapped on your neck and being told to behave..."

"So... that's why you left?
Out of spite?"

Staring off in the distance she spoke matter of factly.
"Spite? No.
I wasn't going to let my father ruin both of our lives as well as the future of our house.
What I want... is coin.
With my noble blood I can easily buy some land and establish myself as a lord.
Then I'll take back what's rightfully mine, through force or coin... it matters not.
I will prove my father wrong by being the ruler he never was."

"And... your brother?"

"He can do what he wants.
If he wants to govern I'll let him... but I'll still keep a close eye on him.
If he doesn't then he can do as he pleases while I take care of him and the family.
So there you have it... My reason for fighting.
Though I never imagined I'd face off against fucking demons..."

Splashing some water on your face you also laid back.
Szikra appeared to be contemplating what she just said. Perhaps her resolve was shaken a bit. Perhaps it's something else.
It does not matter now.

Looking over your shoulder and at your backpack you started thinking about its contents.

>Take out the Scrying Stone
>Time to put the demons blood to use
>Mend some of your wounds
>Other? (write-in)
>>Time to put the demons blood to use
What can demon blood be used for?
Right now?
Much like aether it is an incredibly potent magical drug.

But a trained blacksmith or mage could make use of its incredible magical properties to create some truly amazing works
But it has to be mentioned that it's HIGHLY illegal to even own it as its creation requires the death and defilement of at least one man
Wait, so would it give a permanent magic bonus?

If yes,
>Time to put the demons blood to use
Since we want to put that shit to use as soon as possible and thus destroy the evidence.

If no,
>Mend some of your wounds
Since it'd be pointless to waste.
If it does give a permanent boost to magic then i vote yes but if not then
>Take out the Scrying Stone
Learning some healing magic to help this shit close faster.
All I'm gonna say is that it blows aether out of the water with ease in terms of how much magic is in it.
And I'll leave it at that
Okay so I'm going to take some liberties with this one, simply because you "potentially" voted for it and because it's fun.


Oh and roll 3d10
DC: 18 No crit
Best of 3.

And don't worry this is not vital or anything
Rolled 4, 8, 9 = 21 (3d10)

Okay, you passed.

You won't start drowning while balls high
This better give us something good, if we just used this resource for nothing but a random drug trip I will be pissed.
Oh you'll get something alright
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Well that's good
"Hey Szikra..."


"If I start drowning please pull me out."

"Huh? Why would y-"
But as she started speaking you reached for your bag and took out the demons blood from it.

Crushing the small dark ball between your fingers you inhaled the dust it produced and immediately felt that something was off.
A dizziness overcame you as the world started spinning around you.
Your movements felt sluggish and stiff.
As your pupils dilated you shifted into a more comfortable position, crossed your legs and put your knuckles together as you started meditating.
Feeling yourself slowly drift away you also felt the nearby animals following your example and lining up next to you in the same position.

And then...
There was only darkness.
I immediately regret this decision.
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There was a loud thud.
And pain.

You suddenly were thrust back into reality and sat upright.
Looking down you saw the bar table in which you bumped your head just a moment ago.
A familiar voice called out to you.


Looking up in your confusion you saw the owner of the voice even though your vision was quite blurry after hitting your head.
"You okay Johnny?"

"Y-Yeah André..."
You responded rubbing your head.
"I think I fell asleep... had this crazy dream."

"I told you that it was enough..."

Looking down at the bar table you saw the glass with the ice cubes in it which used to contain your whisky.
Grabbing it you rolled it around, causing it to make some clinging sounds.
"And I thought I told you to shut up and pour me another drink."

The bartender sighed as he refilled your glass once more.
"Look... Johnny.
I know it's hard for you right now but...
You can't keep doing this."

You look at your left arm which is held together only by the bandages and then back at him.
"The fuck kind of a bartender hates money?"

"The kind that gives a shit about you.
Of all the losers that frequent this shithole you are the only one I could consider a friend.
So I'd appreciate you didn't throw your life away after surviving a car crash like that!"

I feel like something died inside me...
Have you ever seen a child being rolled up like a ball of paper?"

"No... but I could fucking paint it down you described it to me so many times.
Listen kid... you are the best fucking jazz musician I know and-"

"One that can't even play anymore."

"You don't know that!
Look... all you gotta do is believe your arm will heal just fine!"

"And if it doesn't?"

"Then it's fucking useless worrying about it you ass!
Just be happy with the fact that you survived for Christs sake!"
André then turned around and started cleaning some of the drinking glasses he couldn't be asked to wash before.
"I know you're in a tough spot Johnny...
Just be strong for me okay? I'd hate to see you go."

"Thanks André...
But unless I win the fucking lottery soon then you won't see me anytime soon.
If I can't play then it's only a matter of time before they take away the roof over my head..."

"Then maybe you shouldn't drink away what little money you got saved up."

"Fuck that.
If my life is going down the drain then I'm not going to play it through sober..."
You rolled around on your bar stool and grumbled.
It wasn't your fault. It was pretty obvious that the other driver was the one who made a mistake.
But they still got the better lawyer. And now you're drowning in debt.
You're basically fucked.

Andrré sighed at that.
"Listen... I didn't want to tell you this but...
I'm worried you'll go home and shoot yourself in the head at this rate."

"Be a nice change of pace..."

"When you asked me to see if I can find anything well...
I kinda lied when I said I got nothing..."

That got your attention.
"Go on."
I don't know that to say to this... Welp lets see were this goes.
I have so many fucking questions. This quest better not have some sort of surprise twist where it turns out it's all a dream.
From under the bar table he took out a sealed envelope and handed it to you.
The thing was almost completely blank, no address, no stamp, nothing with the exception of a slightly glossy white symbol that you can barely make out.

"What's this?
Some sort of logo?"


Curious you opened up the thing and shockingly enough it only contained a single line of text with an address on it alongside the name of an establishment.


Down in the corner you also saw a small stamp that looks like a jester from the medieval times.
Unsure what to make of this you turned your attention back to your friend and waved the piece of paper around.
"The heck is this?"

"It's bad news Johny...
That is an invitation to the Happiness club.
A new joint that appeared in town about two months ago and it's already THE most visited establishment in the state..."

"Never heard of it."

"That's 'cause they don't deal in your music Johnny.
It's one of those clubs those young lil' shits go to get wasted.
Only they don't realize how fucking dangerous it is."


"See that clown mark?
That's the signature of Mr Smiles.
A guy so bad he puts to shame all of histories previous gangsters, serial killers and even dictators.
They say that even hitmen who can kill people in the most horrific of ways and not loose a wink of sleep check under their bed to see if this guy is not there."

"You know I don't deal in fairy tales."

"Me neither...
I'm no god fearin' man myself... you know this.
But the things you hear of this guy... if even the smallest part of them is true... then I sure as shit would prefer sucking Satans dick for eternity to meeting him."

You let out a chuckle at that.
"And what does your little bogeyman want with me?"

"How the fuck should I know?
Some fuck came up to me and said: Hey... I heard you are looking for something like this.
Then he handed me that envelope. I opened it and thought I'd shit myself.
There were rumors that Smiles owns that joint but... I never heard anything more than that.
But I can assure you this is authentic. Any fucker dumb enough to try and copy that clown image ends up having his outlines chalked up in an alleyway... usually in several pieces."

"And you think he wants to employ a crippled jazz player?"

"He clearly knows that you are looking for work so... perhaps?
Just... Johnny... If you are dumb enough to look it up... please for the love of all that is holy... be careful."

You look at the letter and let out a smile.
You were never one to believe in urban legends like this-

>But this sounds interesting
>And that won't change. (Toss the letter)
>And that won't change. (Toss the letter)
I'm shadowrunning way too hard right now.
>But this sounds interesting

Okay then
>But this sounds interesting
>"I already want to die, so whats the worst thing he can do to me?"
>>But this sounds interesting
is this the backstory of someone becoming the demon we killed last thread?
I don't think so. They mentioned cars. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
This may be some sort of world that survived after a massive destructive event scenario, like the xenoblade world.
That seems to be in favor of accepting

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You let out a smile.

"I already want to die.
So this is a win-win situation for me."

"Don't even joke about this Johnny..."

"Hey... if I find out anything at least I can tell you about it."
Chugging the remainder of your whisky you pay your friend for putting up with you for so long and storm out the door.

"Hey Johnny!"
You turned back for a moment.
"If you die then who'll pay your tab?"

"You know I always pay my debts!
See ya André!"

After hailing the cab you headed for the address on the envelope.
The driver even gave you an odd look and attempted to give you some advice about the place.
And upon arriving you see that he really wasn't kidding about wanting to help you because this place was quite chaotic.

Standing in front of the entrance was a serpentine line that seemed to stretch on forever.
In it were a multitude of figures dressed in varying outfits.
From clubbers to men wearing suits and ties, there was everything.

"Where ya goin'?"

"Just drop me at the entrance."


As soon as you exited you walked up to the big black fellow who has very clearly been eatin' good and lifting weights that could make any decent semi just flat out break.
He raised his hand and politely but firmly told you to fuck off.
"Hey cracka!
Gecho ass back in line if you's like not eatin' without a straw!"

You casually wave around the envelope you received and the big man does a complete 180 almost immediately.

"Oh shiiiet!
I'm sorry massah!"
He then proceeded to close off the line and shouted to the people stuck there.

From the line a man in a suit spoke up.
"How dare you?! I am the mayor and I've been waiting in this line for two hours now!
I demand entry right now!"

But the big man just sent his two equally imposing buddies at the mayor.
"Yo dawgs! Waste this bitch!"
The burly men then proceeded to beat the ever loving shit out of the man right in front of everyone.
"Excuse this mess massah.
This way please!
May I take your coat while you wait?"

"Erm... sure?"

Upon entry you were greeted by a bizarre sight.
Expecting a bustling club you saw a place with pristine white decoration and barely a couple dozen people seated in comfortable, white sofas around glass tables.
The music was still that wild techno that you expected but there wasn't much clubbing going on.
Instead there were "entertainers" of all genders, races, backgrounds and quite possibly ages.
You had no doubt in your mind that if you paid enough you could fuck any of them right there on the glass tables and not only nobody would stop you but the establishment would give you complimentary cocaine to snort off of them.
The bars were filled with only the finest selection of drinks served by the finest looking ladies and gentlemen who wore nothing but glowstick fluid.

This whole place felt like the psychedelic dream of someone who is deranged by default.
But as you were taking in the scenery a short, balding man approached you.
"Excuse me...
I'm Frank, the owner of this fine establishment!
Please... follow me!"

Awkwardly you were lead by the hand up the stairs towards the VIP area and then beyond.
You attempted to squeeze some information out of the man.
"So uh... are you the boss? Mr Smiles?"

"Oh nonono! I wouldn't presume!
I am just the tool he uses as the face of this place.
Mr S. does not enjoy being the center of attention so he works through lucky idiots like me!
In fact I've never had an encounter with him like you are about to have.
God I'm so jealous right now!"

After going past the VIP section, security and even the executive area you approached a massive, double door crafted out of solid silver.
It's a bit gaudy for your liking but it gets the message across.
The door opened up and the short man practically pushed you through before closing the door behind you.

This room was so different from what you've seen downstairs that it was honestly jarring.
It was rather minimalistic with a black and white floor in a checkerboard pattern and crimson curtains surrounding you from all sides.
The room was illuminated by a set of lights that were aligned so they'd only light up very specific parts of the room.


In the room itself were only two things.
An old gramophone playing something much more to your liking.
And a table with two chairs on opposite sides.

Sitting in front of you was presumably the mysterious man who invited you and the strange lighting suddenly made sense to you.
The lights were arranged in a way that a shadow was cast at the man sitting at the table, so only his hands and about half of his torso was visible.
His face was perfectly obfuscated.
He then reached out and spoke with a silky, deep voice that practically caressed your ear drums.

"Welcome Johnny.
I've been expecting you.
Doing as he asked you sat down in front of him and found yourself surprised by how comfortable the chair is.
"You must be a bit confused about all this.
So if there is anything you'd like to discuss I'd be more than happy to oblige before we get down to business."

>Who are you?
>What is this place?
>What do you want with me?
>Let's just get on with this 'business' shall we?
>Other? (write-in)
>>What is this place?
>Who are you?
>What do you want with me?
This gets my vote
Okay then.

"I just have two questions on my mind...
Who are you and what do you want with me?
Because I've heard some wild things..."

"No doubt.
And while the paranoia of others is not unfounded... I urge you to pay no attention to them.
It is true that what I am tends to... earn the ire of people you might be associated with. So I only ask is that you keep an open mind and let my actions dictate your opinion of me.
But to actually answer your question I am a... how should I put it? Gourmet of life.
I know what I enjoy in life and constantly seek it."

"And what is it that you 'enjoy'?"

"That ties into the second question.
Entertainment. That is all I want.
And you my dear Johnny... you are a prime specimen I've been keeping an eye on for a while."
You cautiously raise an eyebrow at that.
"Believe it or not but I've actually seen your first ever performance-"

"And that managed to get your attention? I'm starting to question your taste..."

The man entwined his fingers in front of you.
"It's true that you lacked uh... finesse back then, or some sophistication.
But you had something quite else. The sheer amount of raw... emotion you put into it.
Oooof... I get shudders if I just think about it!
It was so... primal! So basic! So... glorious!
I enjoyed it so much that when I heard you'd perform again I just HAD to see for myself and my boy you did NOT disappoint!
In such a short time you improved so much yet managed to keep that base emotion!"

The man in the shadows then clapped.
"My hats off to you Johnny!
It's true that after that I didn't really watch any of the shows you put on, I'm not a stalker after all, but I did keep tabs on you.
And when I heard that you are in trouble I simply felt like I had to reach out to you! After watching one of your more recent plays of course.
I was relieved to see that you did not regress one bit! And so... I came to help you!"


Reaching under the table the man pulled out a sheet of paper.
Strange, considering the table had no drawers on it.

"I saw what happened to you.
Tragic, truly tragic. I imagine you are quite sick of things after all that.
Let's fix that shall we?"

He slid the paper over to you and you began reading it.
Almost instantly your eyes shot up.
"This is-"

"A contract.
Don't worry. Take your time, read it carefully.
And rest assured. There is no fine print you need to worry about.
I don't deal in that sort of crap. With me, what you see is what you get!"
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"I understand how you might be hesitant to strike a deal with a man like me.
But allow me to explain."

He entwined his fingers again before continuing.
"This is a very basic agreement without any pitfalls.
It does not demand much from your part but in turn it doesn't really give you much.
To keep it brief: This contract will represent an official, exclusive relationship with me. You can't make a similar one with anyone else in my field...
But in turn it offers you a stable position under my wing."

"And what do I have to do?"

"What you've been doing up until now.
You perform. But this time for me."

"With a busted arm?"

"Of course.
I wouldn't want you to wash up as a has been.
So take your time, get better and continue doing what you love! What you set out to do so long ago!
And once you get better I may even throw you a bone from now and then if I find your work satisfactory.
You won't get any direct support, more like suggestions and advices.
Just remember: I won't pull you out of any situation you might get into.
It's all up to you. Getting into trouble, as well as out."

You set the paper down.
True to his word it doesn't say anything else that might fuck you over and it's worded so it's easy to understand.
"Well you ARE right in one thing. This isn't much."


"Truuust me Johnny... me pointing in a direction that might be interesting is worth more than all the riches in the world."

"And what do I have to do in turn for such a grand prize?"

"There are only two conditions:
As I said before, you work for me. That's not something to be taken lightly. Of course your identity as my associate will be kept a secret. Nobody will know about it unless you tell them.
The other... is the more important one."

"Go on..."

"You... don't.... stop!
You keep going and see things through 'till the end!
There is no 'happily ever after'! No stopping with the whole thing and settling down with a loved one just because you 'found meaning in life' and whatnot!
You may cry, you might break but you don't stop!
That is all I ask!
In turn you get a stable job and me as your patron.
Just remember: This is a one time offer Johnny.
You refuse, it's just you against the world. So... what'll it be?"

>Sign it
>Push back the paper
>Sign it
>"Can I still keep my old relationships, like my friend Andre?"
>Sign it

Musician with a busted arm signs a deal with the devil to get his talent back.

No way that could go wrong.
>>Sign it

Spooky how much longer is this past memory section gonna fucking go on for? I wanna get back to our regular PC.
shit, well I think that was a bad choice now
I doubt spooky is gonna fuck us with this.
You look at the contract and ponder on something.
"I just have one question..."


"What about my past relations?
Like my friend André? Can I stay in touch with them?"

"Hmmm? Wha-
The shrouded man burst out laughing but even as he wheezed his face was still obscured by the shades.

"Erm... what?"

"Oh I'm so sorry!
I just- I think I might've gone a bit too far!
Or shit... maybe I'm not looking into this deep enough or perhaps it's the opp-
You know what?! Doesn't matter!
Sure, yeah, go ahead! The contract doesn't say anything about it, it's good to go!"
He waves you off and then whips out a ball point pen from his front pocket.
"So? What do you say champ? Deal?"

Taking the pen you signed the paper with red tint and then handed both the parchment and the pen back to your new contractor.
In response he spoke up and you started noticing something odd happening around you.



The air began to crack in front of you.
What began as a small vertical slit began pouring white light into the room.
As this wound in space grew it started to resemble a wide smile.
Everything else around you seemingly stopped, even the man in front of you appeared lifeless and pale.
And the voice that once belonged to him now came from that horrific scar of light.

"If you'll excuse me I now have to get things ready on my side.
I'll get back to you soon enough!
So don't worry Zsold!"
We literally just signed a deal with the devil. We're tripping on demon blood remember? Spooky didn't fuck us. We fucked ourselves. We gave up any future outside of vengeance and odds are if we try we'll have another demon fight in our hands. Except this one won't be some starved thing in a cave.
>So don't worry Zsold!"
Does this mean we've been tricked? Were we just in a dream where we think we were living another life so a demon could get our soul?
Of course it was a bad choice. When has a Faustian bargain ever not fucked over it's contractee?

But it's in character.
It will all make sense in the future.
But he didn't technically fuck you.
Everything the contract entails he said it out loud.
Eh,considering how spooky set this up frankly I will blame some of it on him and call him a cunt.
Why do i get the feeling this is gonna end with us become something other than human? Like we are gonna end up becoming so monster of god or some shit.
Spooky set this up by us willing snorting demon blood and giving us about 5 different outs. I swear since we got magic we've become an idiot.
>inb4 it's not the dangers of magic itself that causes high mortality rates, but subtly decreasing its practitioners common sense and savviness until they firmly grasp the idiot ball.
What if instead of fucking us, you make it that it grants us demon powers, but listen to me... We betray him and become demon/angel like being that wants to become god.

I knew this was a bad choice, but I had to know what would happen if we choose it
Whilst it may come back to bite us in the ass I doubt he's is just gonna say no you are fucked and now you are stuck with this this thing forever. If he did then i would wonder what happened between German hollow and this quest for him to become sominus 2.0, slightly less troll but more cunt edition. Also you say we like you or me voted for this shit,
So you want us to be Lucifer?
I'm sure everything will be fine
We had all of our allies die on one bad roll. Spooky has been saying since hollow quest that this will be a lot darker in tone. I fully expect this to bite is in the ass as it was a stupid decision.
Darker in tone but not him completely going lol fuck you guys. Look if he does fuck us over so hard that the quest is unfun then all we have to do is be cunts back to him .
Also I dislike you types of people the most, you'd slam your nuts against a cheese grater because it would make life harder thus more fun in your eyes.
yeah, but we were high
Well would it make the story boring?
Hypothetically if we do become Lucifer, I think both demons and angels would want to kill us...

So yes
Wiith a loud gasp you awakened, sending the animals that settled down around you into a fit of panic as they scrambled.
Feeling your heart beat just as fast as when you faced the demon made you panic quite hard.

Szikra noticed this and almost jumped out of the water in surprise.
Don't scare me like that!"

What happened?"

"You dozed off dummy.
I was actually getting worried you'd overheat just sitting there.
What's wrong? Bad dream?"

"More like a nightmare...
I... remember strange... metal carts that moved without horses pulling them!
It all made so much sense at the time I... didn't even stop to question it."

"It was probably just a fever dream brought on you by the hot water.
Don't worry about it.
But speaking of which... should we get moving?
I'm starting to over heat a little bit."

"Y-Yeah... go on ahead.
I'll wait for you to get dressed."


Szikra stood up and headed for her clothes.
Meanwhile you sat back and took a good long look at your shoulder.
It's still as hurt as it was before but it looks a bit nicer as the spring washed out most of the dried blood.
The wound itself is still ugly but it doesn't appear to be in any worse shape. Or better for that matter.
Perhaps it really was just a dream. Or a really freaky trip. One or the other.

"Are you done?"

"One moment.
But you can look now."

Looking over your shoulder you raised an eyebrow at Szikra.
"What the fuck are you wearing?"

"They are called stockings!
Aren't they nice?"

"You're wearing pants under your pants?
You're a strange woman..."

Standing up you sent Szikra into a shock as she started covering her eyes frantically.
"Damn it! Don't just stand up like that!"

"Cry me a river."

After dressing up you went on your way to find the imperial scouts.
On the way there however Szikra asked you something.
"Hey uh... I saw your arm... and your chest.
Did you get those when your-"

It was my first contract.
Hunting down a wolf. I didn't know it was corrupted though."
You raise your arm and show her the deep scars on it.
"I was young and foolish. The thing outwitted me and mangled my arm rather well.
Luckily I managed to kill it and clean the wound before I got corrupted. But it serves as a great reminder on how I must remain vigilant."
You then stop and hold Szikra in place with your arm.
"Like now..."


"We're surrounded..."

From behind the trees several archers emerge, all having their bows aimed at you.
One of them comes a few steps closer and speaks up.
"Not one move...
What are ye, bandits or adventurers?"

>Neither, we work for you guys
>Raise the captains reliquary
>Other? (write-in)
I ani't no masochist I tell you
>Neither, we work for you guys

I get the feeling raising the reliquary would get them to shoot on sight. Better if we can explain the situation.
I would tell you to go get your fingers caught in a car door but frankly I think you you find it being even harder to type more fun.
>>Neither, we work for you guys
>you you
jesus christ, chill out man
It's okay man, I don't mind playing a little game and teasing him.

It already happened, now we got to salvage the decision we made.
I don;t think you get it, I've run into these guys before. They think handicapping themselves is fun and will keep doing it. It;s not exactly fun for when you have multiple people controlling the same character. If you are gonna screw yourselves over that badly on purpose go play call of cthulhu or something.
Erm... I play stuff like Dark Souls for fun man.
I enjoy ridiculously hard shit because beating it feels great

I didn't know what would a happened if I chosen either of those chooses my dude. If you wanted to change our minds my dude, you could of talked to us and try to convinced us otherwise. You didn't, you also didn't choose a choice either. So blame yourself my dude
There's a different between challenging and purposefully gimping yourself.

Don't blame others for your poor choice. I'm not sure how spooky could have telegraphed that more without flat out saying "hey this guy is literally the devil"
Do you actively screw your self but never using bonfires and trying to beat the game at level one? Playing hard games is fine it's when you intentionally gimp your self. I just hope you are willing to let us get out of this mes in future and not make us stay with it.
Looking at the choice led us here my vote would have done fucking nothing and you know it. I've also been busy around the house. Also you admitted to wanting to do this because it was a bad idea so don't act like I was ever gonna be able to change your mind.
wew lad
Though not something so extreme as resetting my save if I die.
It's mostly stuff like 'only use melee' or 'only use magic'. Simple stuff.
But only when I'm bored with the vanilla version of a game but still want to keep playing
You didn't try, also
>shit, well I think that was a bad choice now
>What if instead of fucking us, you make it that it grants us demon powers, but listen to me... We betray him and become demon/angel like being that wants to become god.

did you not read this? I didn't predict it, just was trying to give spookyng ideas on how to play with our decision.
"Neither. We work for you guys."
The archers look at each other in confusion for a second before you continue.
"We were hired by Captain Braham to aid you."

"Oh thank the Empress we're saved.
You have no idea how long we've been waiting for you.
So... when's the Captain coming?
He can't be that far now since you're here. Did he send you as forward scouts?"

Szikra spoke up.
"About that..."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
You take over.
"Are you the leader of the scout team?"

"That I am."

"Can we talk somewhere... private?"

He nods.
"We set up a small camp not far from here.
You actually just entered the area we patrol regularly.

The archers then lead you to a small outcropping of stone under which they set up camp.
He wasn't kidding when he said small though.
Including the ones that almost shot you to death a few minutes ago there is only about 9 of them.
And this "camp" of theirs offers them little to no protection against the elements.

"Wier is our mage.
We have to use her to heat anything, since fire can give away our position.
Luckily we are pretty good at hunting and gathering to keep ourselves fed."
Afterwards the leader brought you to a more secluded area and began speaking.
"So I assume we'll have to wait for the captain a while longer.
That's not good. Morale is low as is. If they hear-"

"You can wait till the end of the world and you still won't get any help."
You interrupt him.


"Were you the one who told the Captain to use the tunnel?"

"Yes. Why?"

"It was a fucking demon nest.
Braham and his men were wiped out!"
Szikra continued.
"We only managed to survive by the skin of our teeth!"

"Y-You lie! There's no way-"
Then you pulled out the Captains reliquary and handed it to him.
The trinket fell through his fingers and the man followed it by falling on his knees.
"No... way..."

"I'm afraid, yes way."
You correct him.
"We just stopped by to tell you that you can go home now.
We'll also be expecting our payment as per our contract.
Unless your country wants to anger the Guildmaster.
Right Szikra?"

"Damn straight!
We did our work and escorted them all the way here!
We expect to be fully paid for 4 days of work!
If you want to storm the gates anyway then be my guests but don't expect me to kill myself with you!"

The broken man spoke up.
"I... have a proposition for you!"
That still does not take away form the fact you took a choice knowing it was bad as said in the same fucking post as that last green text
>I knew this was a bad choice, but I had to know what would happen if we choose it
I just pray Spooky doesn't permanently screw us over because of this shit.
But you don't care for what he has to say and turn around.
Y-You two! You said you have slain a demon!
Or was that a lie?!"

"It wasn't.
But that was already more action than we signed up for!"

Listen! If you managed to kill one of those unholy beasts then a group of bandits won't be a challenge to you!"

You stop in your tracks and turn around.
"And what makes you say that?"

"Julian the renegade... he was once the equal of Captain Braham.
A man we thought unbeatable...
But that demon of yours killed him! And you killed the demon!"

"Yes. The two of us killed one creature.
That doesn't mean we can handle an entire bandit camp on our own!"

"We'll help! A-A-And we'll pay you for it!"

"Wait Zsold!
How much?"

I... I can't give you an exact number.
I don't know how much we could requisition from the motherland!
B-But we'll throw it together for you! Captain Braham gave his life for this mission so the least we can do is finish it in his name!
So... Fifty extra silver!"

This made even you stop and consider it.

>50 silver... each
>I said no...
>Other? (write-in)
>I said no
We got lucky with the demon, ain't no way a two man team is gonna be enough to take down something the east was sending so many troops for.
>I said no...
If only because there's no way we'll play smart enough and we damn sure aren't lucky enough.
And we all know in the end it;s gonna come down to a two man team. Ain't no way this canon fodder is living.
>50 silver... each
By the way the contract guy, what does he count as the end? We are only human after all so we probably won't live for another 50 years in this fucked up world.
I'm guessing bare minimum at least getting our revenge, though it was vague enough it could mean anything and he could change it at any time.
>I said no...
We need more people to fight them
Which is why I am asking, seems like so much trouble just for the end of a personal grudge of a human being. Either way I think in the end he might get bored and fuck off somewhere leaving us alone.
He won't. That's kind of demons schtick. Time doesn't mean a while lot to them so they'll remember when you forget. And yes it is little to no gain for us. That's why it was a bad decision.
And what if I said you don't have to confront them directly?
But in turn it doesn't demand much from you.
The guy won't just come out and say "you have to do this now"
Considering we have to kill their leader and as far as I know this is their base, I'd say no still as we won't play it scary enough to pull off.
Then I'm in with that decision
>50 silver... each
but we don't play jazz my man!

What does it mean?
Okay... with this it's an even split.
Tell you what, I'll give you another chance to bail with the next choice

Can't really argue with word of God but to me it demanded our future. We can't stop. If we find a brother and he's mellowed out and had his own family, we'd have to kill him regardless. That's the way I read it.
One bad roll killed off and entire squad so no, fuck off. Also we didn't take the stealth artefact so it;s a bad idea for us to try and sneak up on a guy who has had years of training.
I just pray there is a chance to get out of this contract at some point, one would think in a world where a person can become a god like being there would be a way to do so.
That's kinda sorta accurate. In a roundabout way

But in turn he will point you in the direction of shiny stuff
Yeah I ani't no family killer. I'd still kill our brothers though.
I mean there is like a 50% chance they are responsible for us gaining that rage issue. Not sure where the increase strength comes in tho.
Our corrupted arm, I think? Yeah if the demon makes us kill their family. I'm going to try my best to stop that from happening.

Not kill the demon or destroy the contract, only if we need to. I like having relations with as many different types of people (including friendly-ish demons).
"50 silver... each."
The man groaned nervously and scratched the back of his head.
"Do we have a deal?"

"T-That's a lot...
Listen we'll try but that's all I can promise!"

"Hmph... in turn all I can promise is that I listen to your proposition."

"I uh... I guess that's all I can ask."

"Okay then tell me genius, what makes you think we can win this?
Because we are wounded and tired. And your camp doesn't look too comfortable for me."

"Erm... I assumed if you can slay a demon this would be trivial."

"What part of "NO it wouldn't" don't you understand?!"
Szikra screamed at him.

"T-Then... You could sneak in and... take them out silently?"

"Do we look like rogues to you?"

"I uh... I guess not.
But there is still one thing you could try."

"At this point I'm not holding my breath."

"Now hold on!
It's risky but it could... potentially work.
Julian would kill imperials on sight.
But you aren't imperials!
And not to take this the wrong way but you... look like people he'd have around himself.
So perhaps you could approach them and... ask to join? Once in there you could sabotage or just... murder them in their sleep?"

You exchange a quick glance with Szikra.
It's not the worst plan you've ever heard.
But it still has a high chance of failure. However... that's a lot of money that he's offering.

>Let's just storm the gates.
>We might be able to set their camp on fire in the night
>I could try joining them...
>Forget it. This is stupid
>Other? (write-in)
Also I find it funny how you assume it's a demon.

I already established that demons are parasitic body snatchers.
Unfortunately I value my free will over shiny stuff. I'm really pissed I missed that vote.

I'm currently still on board for murdering them but at the same time it's been 8 years and people can change. There's a non zero chance that they aren't the same asshole teenagers as when they left. Also demons aren't friendly. They're manipulators and they didn't have to try that hard with Zsold apparently.
The arm thing was the sword breaker that the team crushed. The whole thing behind it was he was hiding the metal beneath his bandages as a surprise.
Well the celestials you mention pretty much want nothing to do with humanity.
>Forget it. This is stupid
This only reinforced my idea that we should just leave.
>Forget it. This is stupid

I've been assuming some kind of greater demon thing but I'm positive it isn't anything benevolent no matter what it is.
Demon, dammit forgot to delete all of the old sentence.
>We could poison there water supply and set their camps on fire.
We could just do this to help them, grab our money and whish them good luck.
Would you pay someone for only doing half a job?
The 4 days of payed work, plus for infiltrating, poisoning their water supply, and setting their camp on fire, yes.
We could do this, we don't even have to be in combat, we are just some random adventures looking for coin. We could fool them guys come on.
At least lets try to help them out guys.
Okay, fair enough.

Erm... no.
These guys are bandits, remember? They rob people
The only way you could fool them is if you pretended to be a bandit yourself
No. I honestly can't tell if you're trolling or actually that stupid. No way they'll trust some random outsiders walking up to their base. Pretty sure we don't even have poison. And setting their stuff on fire is pretty damn obvious.
This shit is Darwin award worthy. They should have retreated once they learnt their best men have died. I understand trying despite the difficultly but the difference between these guys is gonna be like night and day.
Welp at least I tried to make a conversation, excuse me for my stupidity my dudes.
It's fine.

I was personally rooting for you.
But this is the majority rule.
"No... you know what?
I thought you'd have some sort of a plan but you managed to fail even my low expectations.
Szikra... I'm not going to stick around until these guys get themselves killed.
How about you?"

"Same... Let's get out of here.
And you should do the same."

"Y-You'd just let this criminal roam free?!"

"There are demons lurking around here.
Just pray that one wakes up and erases them."
Szikra responded.

The two of you then left the imperials to their own devices and made your way back to that ominous tunnel.
Nervously swallowing Szikra looked at you.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"There is nothing else in there, remember?
Just close your eyes and hold onto me if it troubles you.
I'll lead us out."

"Thanks but... I think I'll pass.
Don't want to accidentally trip on the blood..."

Though you were incredibly tense the whole way through it was as you said.
The mere presence of a demon was enough to deter any and all lifeforms from entering the cave.
Except you.

At last after getting through the tunnel you could breathe freely once more.
Feeling relieved you spent a few minutes just resting after walking through that graveyard once more.
Still panting Szikra looked at you.
"So... what now?"

"We get our money... and then bury Kibo."

"Good idea."
She then looked up in surprise and hit you in the side.
"Hey! Look who's been waiting for us."

Raising your head you saw the kobold out in the open, watching you from a couple paces away.
Either she felt the demon and was smart enough to not follow you or it was simply the cold that kept her from following you.
But now it seemed... relieved that you got back.
Sadly you didn't have much time before she retreated into the tall grass.

"I think she was happy to see you."

"Shut up..."

Szikra cracked a smile.
"Hey... how about we set up camp?
I haven't had a proper meal today... and I think we could both use some sleep."
hey you can't have favorites, you have to be unbiased.
I hope they don't die
They'll probably retreat back to Imperial lands and try again with more people.

Hopefully next time they won't walk into a demon nest.
It's not that I like the imperials.
The interaction between the bandit leader and Zsold would've been fun
If our arm and entire force didn't get so fucked, the shots actually had a plan, or we could effectively use our magic in any way and I would've given it more consideration. Everyone died on a single bad roll in optimal condition. I'm not risking it for a cause I don't believe in when I'm already getting paid.
I just want them to hopefully understand that there fucked and retreat.
Oh they do.
You were their last hope.

Now they'll have to go home, defeated and ashamed
Yes but they'll actually get to go home.
They can at least live and plan for another assassination.
Agreeing with her completely you got to making a fire and cooking a meal out of the supplies you took from what was left of the imperials caravan.
Szikra was fast asleep as she was thoroughly exhausted by the events that transpired.
But the dreams evaded you as a deep, lingering dread was still haunting you.
A part of you was still afraid you'd see that smile if you closed your eyes.

So for the first time in a while you found yourself staring at the stars, trying to find meaning in them.
You knew it was a stupid thing to do. After all, the stars are nothing but holes in the pavement of Heaven through which the light of the cosmos seeps through.
But somehow they still soothed you.
Something so small, so insignificant was still beautiful enough to calm your soul.

You kept on watching the lights flicker in the sky until you heard a noise coming from behind you.
A constant chattering noise came from surprisingly close to you.
Standing up you turned around and took a few steps forward before finding the source of the commotion.
The little kobold that did her best to keep her distance from you all this time has decided to rest rather close to you.

It's a mystery even to you what came over you.
Perhaps the sadness of watching a kid die, perhaps you just had enough with all the doom and gloom.
But you decided what's enough is enough.
At least this... will be a good deed today.

Taking off your shroud you carefully placed it on the poor creature who was gnashing her teeth she was so cold.
As you walked back to the fire she opened her eyes in surprise and looked at the cape in bewilderment.
However she didn't wonder about it too much and instead tucked herself in and finally managed to fall asleep.

Finally feeling somewhat good about yourself you managed to also drift away.
But rest did not come to you.
Instead your eyes snapped open as if you just woke up from another dream.
The place was strange, yet familiar.
The Radiant Cosmos.


Its light was grand and filled everything.
Behind you was the city of Heaven, neatly wrapped around the planet.
You had no idea what was going on until a voice called out for you.

"I told you I'd be back!"

Sweating profusely you looked around, searching for the source of the voice but found nothing.
I'd have liked to continue, as well, but I accept that bailing is by far the smarter play.
Well suck for you then, frankly did you think we were gonna want to continue after the shit in the cave. That's like watching all you best units in fire emblem die on one map and decide to keep playing.
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Then... a shadow loomed over the endless space.
Blotting out the omnipresent light like a dark star the owner of the voice revealed itself.

This... thing was not a demon.
You were wishing that it was.
It was gigantic. Not truly infinite as the human mind can't comprehend that and therefore can't fear it.
This was a finite creature. But his boundaries were impossible to determine.
It was larger than anything you've seen before, larger than anything you could imagine.
And despite being so big... it was clear that it was very, very far away from you.

Its shape shifted constantly as it spoke.
"It's good to see you again friend!
Sorry for the deception but it was far easier to make a deal this way.
I didn't want to spend hours trying to calm you like I'll have to now."

"W-What are you?!"

"Oh sorry... my mistake!
Allow me to properly introduce myself this time my little buddy!
I... am Arken Ciel. God of Laughter!"
Aaaand that's as far as I can go for today.

Hope you guys had fun.
If you have any questions/requests/etc. you know what to do.
Archive's up and I'll hopefully see you guys next week!
We made a deal with the god of laughter?
how do we entertain a god enough for said god to sign a contract with us?
And reveal the secret that he is a god??
Why? Just Why??
How are we suppose to entertain a fucking god?
I have so many questions spookyng
Not going to lie, wasn't really feeling this session but it was a necessity to get through. It was just dealing with the fallout from the cave, a really fucking dumb choice, and turning down plot hooks. Hopefully next session we can be now proactive towards our goals and a smidge less idiotic.

I still sort of blame choosing magic as leading to all the recent cock ups
I wanted to get the bard book, would have been a ??? which would've be fun.
That was too hard of a last minute sell. It came off as a worse version of something we already had the money to get. I feel like we keep skipping a lot of scenes and choices that spooky wanted to write due to a mix of pragmatism and spooky not being a great salesman either.
>and spooky not being a great salesman either.
Even the characters were saying not to take it. I'm not sure what else to say if the author wanted it but the characters don't.
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>great salesman
He can't persuade the majority who wanted to be a fucking wizard type, when he mention we could be wizards.
shit wrong pic
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I'm fairly sure I'm reading this wrong but I have no clue what you're trying to say. We did end up a wizard because the majority wanted to be wizards.
He couldn't convince us to not be wizards.
Was this a reaction to getting the wrong pic or the intended pic?
Yes your right
It's both anon
It's admittedly a hard task to convince anons not to pick wizards regardless of context, but yea saying that they can do anything every other class does of your creative definitely sank the idea.

I was still pushing reaver until the end. Then switched to Eldritch magic when wizard was locked in. Nope everyone likes their perceived win button.
Blood magic is cool, bugger off
Yea but it didn't help out now because we don't know how to use it.
I thought we subtly used it earlier during the demon or bandit fight?
It's boring to me. Blood magic has been done to death. I wanted a more martial class as we'd have to keep thinking on our feet and playing smart to survive. Instead we have magic we can't use yet but will be absolutely broken once we can and we gambled our soul to a God to try and get mild improvements in.

To me it feels like we've gotten lazier with everything since getting magic.
Same anon on phone

Yeah but we injured our gland when we used it, so we have to let it heal or risk of permanently damaging our aether gland.

Well we didn’t know he was god in till he told us my dude. I wanted powers related on what he was already good at but people seem to want to be magic users. I then wanted to have the most dangerous one, the one that drove people crazy.
‘’We already use aether as a drug and we aren’t crazy why not go for it?’’
But anons didn’t want the risk.

Why choose a wizard and not choose the most powerful and dangerous magic?
It was more that since we choose a wizard why not at least go for the thing which hasn't been done all the time. Yes it was stuff we were already decent at but there was still a massive gap between what we could do and what the martial classes offered.
Yes same my dude, I wanted something different. I just wanted to try something different and the bard was the most ??? Of the choices.
Goddammit Tzeentch, you can't expect to hold Zsold to a contract signed in a dream, during someone else's life, under someone else's name.

Who am I kidding, this isn't even the most ridiculous plan you've got going right now, is it?
Don't worry, it'll become clear soon enough

Even when I kept pointing out how it's dangerous?
Surely that tipped you off

In my experience people being told NOT to do something will inevitably lead to them doing said thing.
Especially when it's a mystery box

Because I didn't want to?
Yeah I subtly nudged you towards the book but I'd have been fine with anything really.

But at least now I see that pointing at the big red button and asking you not to touch it won't work since you ignored both the 'cursed' handbook and the eldritch magic.

So now I'll have to get creative
>But at least now I see that pointing at the big red button and asking you not to touch it won't work since you ignored both the 'cursed' handbook and the eldritch magic.
I call them dummies for not noticing you were warning them about magic.
I really don't know why they didn't choose the 'cursed' handbook when it sounded more interesting.
how does it feel that a mere human breathed in your blood?
Do you think your comrades can get help from the empire to stop the bandits?

I admit it's revolting to think an accursed human is using my remains in ANY capacity.

But right now I am more concerned about my soul being expunged into the depths of space where creatures you can't even begin to imagine thirst and hunger for it!

I truly wish so.
But I'm afraid after this tragedy the motherland will simply cut their losses and hope that the land will destroy Julian like it did us...
We injured our Gland well before we got the scrying stone. Also if you want to use magic reliably then vote to use the scrying stone in the future.
I'm actually planning on forcing you to use it.
You kinda need it and it'll save time as you'll only need to pick WHAT to train in.

Oh and just a reminder: Do keep in mind that you are not restricted to just blood, flesh and bones are also on the table.
But since those are a bit more vital than blood they are a bit riskier
mess with bones and upset the death god??
You crazy? We'll have the grave digger on our ass if we fuck up their bones.
You struck a deal with an actual god. If they find out about that they'll want to eradicate you and everyone you know as is.

But you don't have to worry about this upsetting them.
They are your bones, you have every right of fucking with them, it's your soul after all.
Only the bones of others are taboo
And on the flip side... people tend to get freaked out if they see walking skeletons.
Spooky scary skeletons are not a meme for them but reality.

If they see you sprouting bone spikes like fucking wolverine even the most grizzled of fuckers will think twice before messing with you.

But as you might imagine it will hurt a lot
>God of laughter
Besides the obvious what exactly can you do?
What happens when we mess with our own bones? Do we bar ourselves from the after life? What about animal bones?
Well now that I that information, can we do it on living people? Will it still upset the gods? If we ask permission to use there bones while their alive?
Oh boy...

You technically can but doing THAT would greatly upset... everyone, especially the grave guard and their church.
You could ask for permission first but the chance of ANYONE accepting is close to nil.
And if you ask something so heretical it can put quite a dent in your reputation with all the locals.

They are fair game as well as most non sentient creatures but people might still spread some nasty rumors about you. And as previously said, if said being has enough magic you can't do anything with them until you literally remove the bones from their bodies.

>The afterlife
You don't bar yourself from the Dead Gods realm by messing with your own bones.
But being in a contract with a God might...

>Your bones
The actual consequence is that it really fucking hurts.
Both because to use it the thing literally has to come out of your body, which most likely means piercing it.
And because it's your bones. If you use them as weapons they can get hurt

And finally
Oh I don't know...
Try thinking of something.
Chances are... I can.

Your mortal magic is cute and all but I was born of it.
I don't move, I rearrange space so I advance forward.
I don't act, I make things happen.

Reality bending is nifty like that!
Fuck well, I fucked up. I admit I'm an idiot and now we might be able to go to the Dead Gods realm.

Spookyng if, we had a chance, could we cancel the contract with Ciel? Would he kill us for trying to cancel our contract with him?
What about when the contract ends? like is it the fact we made a contract at all or is it because we are currently bound to him?
He won't kill you.
Because you CAN'T back out of it.

Is correct.

Should the contract end you'll be completely free.

But there is also a good reason why culters are a thing.
They don't just seek contact with the Gods for power, wealth and other vain things like that.

Each God has their own territory.
Their own area of the universe that they call their territory. In them they can do literally anything they want.
The Dead Gods realm used to be just like that, but the humans killed him and took his place because they needed an afterlife.
IF you want Ciel himself could offer you an afterlife much like any other god would
This is to much for me...
What happened to the Dead God? Can we look for the god of revenge and get a contract with him?
Literally what I just said.
The angels got fed up with humans and kicked them out of heaven.

With their souls having no resting place after death they were doomed to be expelled into the cosmos where horrors that'd make demons shit themselves lurked and eagerly awaited the influx of fresh souls to devour.

In their desperation the mortals decided to risk it all and attacked a god.
Nobody even remembers which god it was anymore, only that it's now called the Dead God.
Because it's just that. Fucking dead.

Now the mortals of the Three Lands refurbished his realm into an afterlife that they can use.
That's what the Church of the Dead God is all about
No one gave a fuck about humans killing a god, holy shit.
Gods really don't care about one another.
In fact most of them are rather simple creatures with very few of them having anything resembling intelligence.
They are more like nigh omnipotent animals.

"If it's not me then I don't care"

This sums up their thinking pretty well.

But to put things into context.
The god of "something" doesn't mean much other than what does the god feed on.

A god of fighting and war gets his sustenance from mortals killing each other.
So his primary drive is to make sure the mortals in his territory fight endlessly.
This means most of the Gods realms are nightmarish hellscapes, quasi farms with the sole purpose of feeding their lord.

This is why culters are disliked.
Because they are openly inviting the gods to fuck over the world in which they are living
How does Zsold bring laughter and joy to you?

What your saying is that they just want to fuck with people to gain influence. Fuck my dude, Looks like the only gods we can trust are like gods of love and shit.

My friend you are asking the wrong questions!
You see... funny is not a thing! It's not a quality or anything like that!
Funny is a state of mind!

The question you should be asking is: What makes you laugh?

spookyng what kind of answer is that? zsold barely laughs? He's not crazy... I shouldn't have asked the question, now I don't wtf is up with ciel

Stop being cryptic my dude and tell me if you enjoy zsold suffering

I just told you!
I. Enjoy. Everything!

But I especially love when Zsold... performs.
What can I say? Kids a natural!
Not many 7 year olds can claim they made me laugh for several days with just one act!
And then the encore... ooof... now that was something special!

And now this debacle with the demon.
The humans dying. The demons shock as it realized it was beaten by a human!
I want it all!
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This deal is getting worse all the time.
he's a fucking sadist, fuck me I guess spookyng wants us to constantly be endanger to bring Ciel joy.
"Everything" men! The emphasis is on everything
He won't be happy if we don't have
>I want it all!
Does he accept boredom, since it's like pain?

If you want it all, why not manifest yourself as a person and go on a adventure with Zsold, so you can experience everything first hand?

Why would I want to do that?
[sprouts a thousand eyeballs]
From up here I can see everything and enjoy it all!
but your not experiencing it, the thrill that you could die

please spookyng let me fool this god

Could die?
Now THAT is comedy gold right there!
I like you... so I'm gonna show you something.

[snaps finger]

Do you see this?
This is called a star.
I roll these around when I'm bored
>Arken Ciel
But, of course, rolling stars around isn't quite enough to satisfy you, is it? That's why you end up on the lookout for individuals like Zsold.

Clearly, being a God doesn't quite make you omnipotent. Or, at least, being omnipotent doesn't make you immune to boredom.

I mean no offense in considering your limitations, you understand; I'm merely curious. I hope you'll humor my curiosity when I ask: what exactly does it mean to be a 'God'?

And why do we keep hearing so much about them being Dead?

Hey. You there? How's Johnny doing?

My you're a curious one aren't you?
But it's fine... I'll humor you.

Nobody knows what was before magic.
Not even us.
All we know is that it was once cold, dark and empty.
A gestating embryo whose birth brought about magic and with it... us.
Beings of not flesh but raw aether.

There are many of us going by different names.
Your angels and the demons that came from them were once among us... before they gave up the crib of the cosmos to protect you monkeys for some reason.

But they pale in comparison to us.
You call us the Cosmic Predators, those who lurk in the light of the universe praying on your souls.
We call ourselves the Ken.

Immortal beings born without the capacity to reproduce, with the only the drive to grow.
At first it was simple: Eat stardust, stay alive.
But as we fed and grew we needed more... substantial meals.
The souls of mortals were perfect.

The best however... the greatest of the perfect who grew even beyond that became the Arken.
We needed... more.
So we did the only thing and bound ourselves to universal concepts.
Every time an action within our sphere is performed we get fed bit by bit.

Some grew... greedy. Or perhaps paranoid.
They turned the territories they carved out for themselves into farms.
Using life as nothing more than a fuel source.

So in short...
A god is the apex of cosmic life.
The minor reality altering power that we had enhanced to the point where we can do anything should we have enough aether for it.

And that whole "Dying" part.
Funny story that is.
It only happened once when you, my little lovelies decided to murder one of my kin.
It was long and bloody... but so fun to watch.

Not because of the bloodshed, not because of the desperation... but because how you won.

You cheeky little creatures attacked the one Arken you knew would give in.
That's right! You murdered Arken Hura... the God of Compassion.

He took pity on you...

That's why it's funny!

>Ciel again
André is not available right now! Please try contacting him never...
Given everything you said I assume people who use the outer magic school are basically just trying to copy your abilities, my questions are what happens when someone masters this school? Do they still count as human or have they turned into something else?

[shaking his head with worry]

L-Let's not ruin this perfectly fine conversation by bringing up... that
Great questions my dudes!
I mean... you probably asked anything that could be.
I didn't intend to spill the beans regarding gods and whatnot so soon.

It's either that or just information overload.
This little Q&A ended up being way busier than I anticipated
Oops forgot my trip
I don't mind, trying to make sense of how the world works, is pretty fun
Oh wait! You genuinely meant it?
I swear this is the only downside of communication with text.
Especially after you got accustomed to everyone saying everything ironically
>Especially after you got accustomed to everyone saying everything ironically
>In my experience people being told NOT to do something will inevitably lead to them doing said thing.
>Especially when it's a mystery box
Depends on the difficulty level and the rewards of such an action.
So far the difficulty has been demonstrated to be extremely high, and the rewards... eh.
>Especially after you got accustomed to everyone saying everything ironically

What you mean your such a
>great salesmen
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Okay that's it!
You want a sales pitch?

I will fucking give you one!...
next thread
Sales man is a skeleton...

Seems he's died because he couldn't think of a sales pitch...
Suddenly I'm reminded of Italics the CYOA author.
>Seems he's died because he couldn't think of a sales pitch...
From the pic I get the impression he gave up on life after everyone kept giving him HOLD on the calls.
>From the pic I get the impression he gave up on life after everyone kept giving him HOLD on the calls.
No one wanted hear an annoying salesman
Oh and by the way... I was thinking about doing some omakes regarding the misfit trio.
It won't be super fast as I won't have much free time during the day

Any requests you might want to throw at me while I'm still in gear?
I'd like to see them on their first big hunt.
>Girl that is a mage?
learning anything yet?
>Grave priest?
Do you wish you had a family?
Did y o u learn anything yet?

I like to see them not die pls
I hope we get to see Griswald being a badass.

I uh... I was experimenting with something... I just hope it works

Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to have one...
Then I remember how bad the little lass'd have it.

The Bone Priests can do a spectacular job when it comes to irreparably fuck up children...

What's this 'learning' you speak of.

Jokes aside I'd like to think I learn a little every thread. Or at least I try to...
But I'm kinda biased in this topic.
>What's this 'learning' you speak of.
Well learning that we're just having fun ironically
>Especially after you got accustomed to everyone saying everything ironically

Also you should be proud that we at least make fun of you, for trying, and failing. We haven't called you a shithead, so your doing good.

Also you forgot your tripcode, my dude
What would happen if we try to renege on the contract? When will we see the supposed benefit of this contract?
Ever heard of the Laughing God?
>Bard dude
Who are the rookies shaping up?
*How are the rookies shaping up?
Damn phone posting!
I kid. I kid.
But seriously, my trip is 12 characters long.
not something I want to type in with my shitty phone.

Now why would you want to do that? Aren't you glad you just gained one of the best sponsors you could ever wish for?

As for benefits... that depends entirely on you and how fast you'll take on my advice!
But given your track record that might take a while!

The magus of Torre have an extensive catalogue on all the gods surrounding us.
But I've never heard of this 'laughing god' you speak of.
Must be a distant one.

I'd like to say good...
But they have a long road ahead of them.
I don't complain however. It's fun passing on what I know. Kinda like a parent I guess
>I don't complain however. It's fun passing on what I know. Kinda like a parent I guess
Don't say such things, that's how you get death flags!
He's safe.

The guy is just sad because he won't have children of his own now that the love of his life is dead
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Omake #1: The Trial

A storm raged on in the east.
Though the winds weren't strong enough to twist trees as if strangling them, the downpour was enough to cause considerable disturbances.
The cracked, dry dirt turned into pools of thick mud.
Inconvenient... but it had its uses.

Three figures stalked the woods with a fourth one following them from behind.
Their mission was set: To kill a strange goblin that showed up in the area not too long ago.

Griswald had an eye for picking missions, a side effect of working as an adventurer for decades.
He knew just how to read between the lines, to determine how risky something is just from the wording and the bounty.
He cherry picked the three of them this one because it looked like the safest option.
The storm complicated matters.

As for the children...
The harsh words of their teacher still rang in their ears.
"If you win that's on you! If you loose that too!
I'm only coming to pick up your bones should the latter happen!"

Of course he didn't mean it.
Should bad turn worst he'll not hesitate to jump in.
But unless they don't believe their lives are on the line they won't perform at their peaks and as such... won't grow.
The world is harsh, the only way to survive is to become even harsher.

They followed what they were taught.
Encircle, stay behind, face the wind, remain unseen.

At least the rain made that part a bit easier.
With their footsteps muffled all they had to pay attention to were the puddles and their footing.
Slowly but surely they crept up on their target until it became visible.

The creature was foul looking, much larger than the average goblin. Roughly twice the size.
Its skin was an unnatural purple, its eyes blood red and a red foam constantly spewed forth its mouth.
As its unnatural muscles were revealed it was very clear what this thing was: Corrupted.

Being exposed to large amounts of raw magical energies can be dangerous.
Aether is fine but the radiation can be quite damaging.
Rampant mutations are almost guaranteed if one bathes in them too much.
And by the look of this thing it may have even consumed it in some form.

It was also incredibly wild.
While the regular goblin is not something one would call tame, this thing was in a state of permanent berserking.
Attacking anyone and anything that moved, excluding its own kin this thing was vicious.
But looks can be deceiving.

Despite its dangerous looks this thing was arguably an easier target than the regular goblin.
Due to its ferocity it always lashed out at any goblin that may have tagged along with it, keeping its flock minimal.
And if the average beast is so dumb scholars can enter hour long debates whether it can be considered living or not, no sane academic would attempt to defend this thing.
Dumb as a brick this monsters brain was fried by the rampant magical exposure.
And that was the key.
>But seriously, my trip is 12 characters long.
Suck it up Shithead.
They had to attack quickly, quietly and at the same time.
They waited for the perfect moment to jump.

Suddenly a lightning struck in the distance and they knew this is their best chance.
As the simple creatures quaked in fear at the sound of thunder the adventurers leapt out.
Lowan ran forward and with one stab through the back killed one of the lesser ones instantly.
Avana readied one arrow and loosened it quickly. Like her friends, hers was an instant kill as well. Quickly turning she loosened two more, one managing to kill the other just incapacitated one. But it sufficed.

Last but not least was Sonya.
Though the rain debilitated her in one area it enabled her in another.
Something she wanted to make happen, something she experimented with tirelessly before she got it right.
Beginning to concentrate intensely she lifted her hand.

The muddied water around her rose up and began to float.
She thrust her hand forward in an attempt to unleash her attack on the remaining goblins.

Ever since that day... Ever since that day her eyes were opened she couldn't muster the strength to kill.
Not after seeing just what that means.
But if she didn't want to be a dead weight to her friends she had to think of something.
Since she couldn't build up a desire to kill... she'll have to do it in a roundabout way.

Her transparent serpent rushed forward, wrapping itself around the unsuspecting goblin.
Soon its form collapsed and formed a bubble around the head of its victim.
The poor creature scratched and struggled against it but hitting water was a futile endeavor.
In mere moments it fell down as it choked to death.

Her first kill.
She tried to console herself by telling that at least it's better than fire.

But with the last of the small fry dealt with they could move onto the big one.
They knew what had to be done and were ready.

Each of them raised their respective weapons and aimed it at the goblin.
Once it rushed towards someone the closest of the other two lashed out against it.
When it was damaged it swiftly turned its attention against its attacker.
And it did this again and again and again, oblivious to the fact that its wounds were mounting.

Killing it with a thousand paper cuts.
Not the most honorable of kills. But one that worked.
Until the goblin fell to his knees that is.

Lowan shouted once he spotted an opportunity.
With his sword raised high with both hands he rushed the creature in the hopes of ending it.

The others were not too enthusiastic about this.

From behind several trees the grizzled veteran sighed.
"There we go again..."
>Also you forgot your tripcode, my dude
what a shithead

>But seriously, my trip is 12 characters long.
>not something I want to type in with my shitty phone.
>Spookyng !sOfTFqgRwk
It's not even the secure trip with ## or !!.
>It's not even the secure trip with ## or !!.
Don't tell him my dude... How can we troll him now?
>Don't tell him my dude... How can we troll him now?
Secure trips aren't that secure either.
Things then turned for the worst as the monster suddenly got its second wind.
Seeing an opponent within striking distance invigorated and enraged it.
Raising its hand it clashed against Lowans sword with his axe and managed to knock the steel out of the boys hand.

But before it could bring the weapon back down something stood in its way.
A brief burst of light, sparks flying everywhere in the rain and the sound of wood shattering as the axes handle broke.
For a moment the blood rage of the creature ceased as it gazed upon the newly arrived human. And it trembled.

Cracking his knuckles the armorless man took a few steps forward invoking some long slumbering survival instincts in the mutant.
It started slowly backing away in fear but its legs couldn't possibly carry it fast enough.
"I'm sorry for what I'm about to do to you.
I don't have a grudge against you but I can't let you live."

His fists started to glow slightly as he delivered three hooks one after another.
Right, left and finally the last one from the right which sent the creature twirling in the air.
Crimson liquid gushed from his body like from a fountain of wine as it fell to the ground.

Griswald could've left it then and there.
The goblins ribs were in a million pieces, the shards shredding the muscles that allowed it to breathe.
But he was not that cruel.
To something he considered a dumb animal he could at least give a quick death.

Drawing his sword he pointed it at the shocked creature that was already halfway through deaths door.
The tip of his blade glew with a familiar light and suddenly, faster than the kids could see what happened the beasts head plit in half.
He sheathed his blade and turned around to glare at the boy he just saved.

"You had him...
Victory was in your grasp and you handed it over by challenging it the only way it could beat you.
Get up... you look ridiculous.
As for the rest of you... good job.
Let's go get our money."

Omake #1: THE END
Why do you purposefully fuck up so much? STOP FUCKING UP SO MUCH.
Zsold was right, you'll have a foolish death that could've been avoidable.
You'll have a hard time with Lowan, I would recommend breaking him down and building him back up. It's up to you of course, on how you train you apprentices.
Lowan, quit being a chucklefuck
I don't WANT to fuck up!
Give me a break!

Tell me about it...

The problem is that his intentions are good.
But he's stubborn as a mule.

My only hope is to drill my lessons into that thick skull of his.
Sadly I don't think simply beating him will be sufficient
How are these questions treated in canon? Would it be possible for a character to do/change something due to them?
I really hope lowan gets his shit together without it being at the cost of one of the others that I actually like.
Strictly non-canon.
Player questions don't change the characters behavior wise. That'd be like them hearing voices in their heads...

But don't worry I got a second omake planned out that might be to your liking.
I just took some time off for vidya after work
Looking forward to it. Has the quest been shaping up how you wanted so far? You had been planning it for awhile.
Hard to say yet.
Obviously we haven't gotten to the real meat of the stuff.
But if this thread is any indication then I'd say yes.

It's just that I like a slow boil and setting things up before we kick into high gear.
But don't worry, you don't have to wait for too long anymore
Omake #2: Hell to pay

The storm still raged on as the adventurers returned to the place they now called their home.
After turning in their contract and getting paid they purchased some food stuffs and building materials before returning to camp.
Now the three of them were stuck out in the rain, carrying heavy logs while their mentor was puffing on his pipe.

Sonya dropped her share of logs as one of the calluses on her hand popped.
Griswald saw the girl crying and spoke up.

"Come on ladies.
Just a bit more and you can stop."
He didn't mean to insult the girls, only the boy.

Why do we have to do this?"

"Don't blame me.
Blame the freshly minted knight Ser Chucklefuck who felt the need of doing stupid shit once more.
Now come on! The sooner you build that cabin the sooner you'll have a roof over your head!"

As he watched the downpour from under a tree he had to pause and think things through.
Of course this little exercise was more than simple punishment.
Typically a quest only lasts for a little while, with engagements not being longer than a couple of minutes at most.
However one can never know and it's entirely likely to be stuck in a ditch for weeks fighting a war you have no stakes in or a monster with enough vigor to last hours in combat.
So the kids needed the endurance. It's just that now their training was extra punishing.

The girls glared daggers at their friend who seemed to be deeply ashamed for what he did to them.
After putting the wood in its place and nailing them down the kids collapsed in exhaustion.
Griswald then walked out into the rain to look at the children lying in the wet grass.

"Not bad. Soon you'll have a tidy little cabin.
Oh and once you can walk again feel free to come over to the pot.
Stew is ready... but today you are all sleeping outside the tent!"

As the trainees sat down to eat Avana asked something.
She knew that Griswald was not angry with her, only Lowan.


"Please tell us...
That goblin.
How dangerous was it really?"

"You want to know how far you've come?"
She nodded.
"Hate to break it to you but even if it wasn't dumb as a brick... that thing is still nowhere near dangerous enough to be impressive.
Don't quote me on this... you won't find it written in any fancy books or used by other adventurers.
But I have a system with which I rank the different creatures of the realm."

He cleared his throat.
"It's my danger scale.
If a thing can't kill a human no matter how hard it tries, it's not on it.
If it can potentially kill a human but most likely has to group up on you to do it then it's a low danger enemy.
This level has goblins, kobolds and ironically human.
You haven't faced anything beyond this level..."

"Next is the middle danger level.
Creatures that can single handedly kill a human with ease.
They rarely group up but if they do they can wipe out entire armies.
Demons would be a good example of this."
Updates will come later.
Don't worry, not ded yet.

I'll just have to go to work and can only continue once I'm done
"But one thing to keep in mind is that the gap between the low and high ends of each category is as wide as the gap between the levels themselves.
Now then... While you can sensibly take on low level ones and might be able to complete mid level assignments with enough preparation, assistance and/or manpower, you should steer clear of anything beyond that.
The high level is where the truly horrific shit resides.
Creatures so foul, so deadly almost every man prays before going to bed just so they wouldn't have the misfortune of encountering them.
These are beings who can't be taken out by mortal man and require proper armies to stop.
While mid level beings could potentially destroy entire settlements if they group up, high level ones can do it on their own.
These things can rewrite the map on their own.
Our only luck is that when you are that powerful you don't tend to need allies so these monsters are almost always alone."

"And then there is the final level.
The level that is beyond all sensibilities.
Monsters who could end the world as we know it, like the Sea Mother.
Unless you are a true champion whose name will be remembered throughout the ages then you might as well not exist to these things...
The only thing you can do against them is pray and hope some higher power hears it..."

Once the kids dropped the last logs in their place in their exhaustion Griswald congratulated them.
"Well done...
If you are done heaving out your souls then come to the pot.
Stews ready."

They finished their meals in utter silence, only the loud slurping and chewing noises of their mentor made any sound.
The girls stared intently at their bowls, too exhausted to do anything else.
But Lowan was glaring daggers at his mentor.
Crowning his meal with some fine wine the bearded fellow spoke up.

"I'm gonna hit the hay...
You get to sleep outside today.
If any of you enter the tent all of you get double training tomorrow!"

Avana and Sonya quietly growled as they attempted to find a somewhat dry patch of ground under the shade of the tree.
They made some snide remarks at their friend before they all drifted off to sleep.
The next day however something greeted Griswald.
Typically the kids had to be woken with a hunting horn if he wanted them to get anything done.
So naturally he expected them to be in an even worse shape.

But lo and behold one of them actually woke up before him and was now sitting right at the entrance of his tent.
Lowan stared him down with a myriad of emotions visible in his eyes.
The scarred veteran groaned.

"Good mornin'...
Slept well?"

"No... I couldn't sleep a wink."

"Well then you fucked up again...
'Cause I'm planning on puttin' through hell again."

"That thing you did... with the goblin.
What was it?"

The old man scratched the back of his head.
"You want me to teach it to you?"
The boy nodded.
"You must be out of your mind boy..."
"If you think I'll give you a thing that'd make you more reckless then you are dumber than I thought!"
And he left it at that.

But to his shock day after day the boy sat there and waited for him, no matter how hard he worked him.
After about a week the old adventurer finally started to loose his patience.
"Alright! What's enough is enough!
I told you already that my answer is NO!
Why do you even want to learn this when you can barely hold your sword?! Do you think that it's your shortcut to power?!
Because it's not! If you mess THIS up it'll kill you!"

"That's not it..."
The boy responded in a gloomy manner.
"You're strong... very strong.
Do you even know what fear is like? To be so scared of fighting that your weapon won't stop shaking no matter how tight you hold it?
Every time I fight I feel this... dark overcoming me, pushing me down, gnawing at the back of my time.
It keeps telling me how I'm worthless and about to die-"

"And so you snap..."
The old man sat down beside the boy.
"Believe it or not I actually wasn't born this strong. Nobody was.
So yes... I know that fear. You're scared of combat."
He lit his pipe and began puffing on it.
"You know... back in my youth I was as reckless if not more than you.
I fucked up so many times I couldn't count them if I wanted to. I also had times when I felt like I couldn't keep going.
Tell me... what happened?"

Lowan swallowed hard. And rambled on as a drop of sweat rolled down his face.
"Back before we met you... There was this man. He accompanied us on our first quest and...
He was so... abrasive. When he felt like speaking he said such things that... angered me. They were so absurd, so harsh.
But when we had to exterminate a nest of goblins he... he burned them all to a crisp. Set a fiery trap for them. That was the first time I saw him smile. He was so proud of himself."

"Smart man..."

"Yeah... smart.
But I didn't understand... didn't want to.
So I challenged him.
He beat me into the dirt... it wasn't even a contest.
I thought he couldn't fight honorably, that's why he resorted to such foul means... but no.
It was then that I realized how right he was.
That if I went into that cave... I would've died.
And now every time I hold a sword for too long I remember those charred corpses... lambs for the slaughter... and can't help but feel like I am the same."

"Fight or flight...
Fear that makes you nigh piss yourself can make you do some fun things.
But... listen to me boy. I don't think that man harbored any ill will towards you. He sounds like he just wanted to open your eyes for your own good.
But now... I think I understand how you feel."
Griswald stood up and lent a hand to the boy.
"Come... I changed my mind...
It's time to get you back your lost hope!"

Omake #2: THE END
Hey! You didn't do this for the dumbass reason I (and Griswald apparently) thought you were. Congrats on not fucking up! For once. Keep up the streak.
Thanks... I guess?
I'll certainly try
Son of a whore... I did it again.

Anyways... I still have 1 omake I want to do with bitch boy over here.
It might give some more insight for you guys so it certainly will be interesting
>bitch boy over here.
My dude, why such a foul language? You don't have to be mad. It happens, only to you my dude.
>Anyways... I still have 1 omake I want to do with bitch boy over here.
Who? Lowan?
Omake #3: The power to protect

Though the rains have stopped some time ago the forest was still wet from the constant rain.
This made going ever deeper into the forest quite uncomfortable so Lowan started questioning his mentor.

"Erm... why are we going into the woods?
Oooooh! Is this some great secret that must be kept between master and student?"

"No you daft boy...
It'll be harrowing enough for the girls as is.
No need for them to hear you up close..."

"I'm sorry wha-?!"

"This should do.
Far enough to not be inconvenient but still within earshot.
Alright... give me your hand. Hope you aren't ticklish."

"Are you just going to ig-
You know what? Fine."
And with that the boy firmly grabbed the hand of his mentor who looked him in the eye and spoke up.

"Listen kid... You've got guts.
It's not easy to tell others stuff like this.
But... balls alone won't be enough for this one. And I like ya so I don't want to put you through this.
Are you SURE you want this?"

Lowan swallowed nervously.
"If I don't... then not only will I not be able to protect my friends... I'll probably get them killed as well.
So yes. Let's go!"


There was a brief humming sound emanating from the elderly adventurer.
A faint shining light grew in his palm and traveled up the boys hand.
Lowan reeled back for a moment but Griswald held onto him tightly.
The boy felt a strange feeling crawl up his arm and to his spine.
Just like his teacher said it tickled him quite a lot before it reached his neck where the energy felt like it erupted in a brilliant fire, filling his body with unnatural power.

"I-Is this?"

"Congrats kid."
Griswald let go of him.
"You got magic now..."

"So... that's it? I can use that force now?"

"No you moron!
I just helped you unlock your aether gland.
'Member that feelin' try to recall it now."

Lowan closed his eyes and he felt his muscles being pumped full of cosmic energy.

"Just make sure you don't overdo it or your neck might explode.
Seen it happen before."

Now then! Let's see that secret technique!"

"It ain't secret.
It's one of the oldest tricks in the book. One that hardly anybody uses anymore."
Griswald clenched both of his hands and the air began to quake around him.
"I'll do it real slow now so ya can see it! Keep your eyes peeled but don't let the light blind you!

With a great explosion of sound and glorious incandescence the adventurer erupted as the aetherial energy left his body all at once.
The shockwave was strong enough to make the nearby trees sway and the fallen leaves dance wildly.
Lowan just stared at this in awe.


"It's called Counter Burst.
And it's a real nifty trick...
Basically you take that same energy you just used, build it up until it feels like it's about to rip your body apart and then let it all out!"

The young adventurer was giddy with excitement.
"Hooold your horses lad.
Lecture's not over yet."
He raised up his finger.
"As you can see this trick can be very useful. Like a hidden shield it can deflect an opponents attack or even disarm them if done right.

This time he raised two fingers.
"There are two huge drawbacks to this.
First, it can suck you like a whore who hasn't eaten anything in days...
I wouldn't be surprised if you fell face first into the dirt with a foaming mouth after trying it once.
It's considered quite a feat if you can still fight after using this... But even if you can your magic reserves will be dry.
Magic that you might need to swing your oversized sword, spine breakingly heavy armor or actually hit your opponent with enough force to hurt them.
So until you recover your energy you'll be a sitting duck even if you CAN move.
Only people with unusually large aether reserves can use this more than once."

"A-And the other one?"

"The other problem is that it requires perfect timing to use.
Let it out too soon and it won't do dick. Too late and you might be dead before you can unleash it.
And the later you use it, the better.
I did say this can disarm or disorient your opponent. But if you wait until the absolute last second it can take their arms clean off.
But if you fuck up... you die."

Lowan gulped nervously.
But then a revelation came to him.
"Wait... but the one you used before didn't look like this!"

"Aye... this is my special little thing.
I learned of a way to use this repeatedly without dropping dead afterwards.
But it's even riskier."

He charged up his power once more.
With a shout he unleashed another Counter Burst.
But this time it appeared as a crescent wave of energy around his shoulder.
The glowing half circle remained in the air as Griswald grunted in an attempt to keep it up.

"It's possible to release it in a much smaller area! This consumes only minimal energy!
You need to see where the attack is coming from and at what angle!
You must know how large of an area it'll hit, when it'll hit, how fast it is and what force it'll hit with!
If you can figure this out you can stop your enemies with just this little bit of power! THIS IS CALLED PERFECT COUNTER!"

The glorious energy then got torn apart like cloth and fell to the ground like shed feathers.
Griswald leaned forward and held onto his knees as he started panting from exhaustion.
"This... is what you'll have to practice...
I'll give you this entire day... Afterwards we'll get back to our regularly scheduled training.
You can practice it in your free time then."

"O-Okay... will you watch me?"

I'll stay for the first just to make sure you get how to do it.
After that... it's all you."
"A-And what if some wild animal comes to kill me?"

"Truuust me... any beast worthy of mentioning is smart enough to steer clear of you while training like this.
They'll think something far worse than them is mangling you."


"Now... begin!"


Lowan clenched his fists and started shouting as he attempted to gather ample amounts of energy.
His shouts then turned into screams as he kept going and he fell to his knees.
A sharp pain grew in his neck, paralyzing him for a moment.


"I did... and it's not the counter burst.
It's your aether gland telling you to stop.
This is your test... produce one burst... and I'll consider teaching you further."

With that the elderly adventurer left the boy alone who got back to training.
His agonizing screeches filled the forest, riling up all manners of widlife.
When Griswald got back to camp he saw the mortified expressions of the girls.

"I-Is he okay?
He doesn't sound like he is."

We'll know when he's in trouble.
It's when he stops screaming.
That means either he died or passed out."

"That's cruel!"
Avana responded.

"He asked for it.
Now we'll see what he's really made of."

Then they waited.
One entire day to be precise.
Over time the girls grew more and more scared for their friend.
During next mornings breakfast Griswald spoke up.

"Good lord the lungs on that boy...
Did you two manage to sleep at all?"



"This is getting ridiculous...
I'll check on him!"

After reaching the forest Griswald was practically frozen in place when he saw the boy.
Lowan was drenched in blood as the crimson fluid spurted from the back of his neck.
He ran towards him and started shaking him.

"Boy! BOY!
Are you okay? Have you lost your mind?!"

The kid heaved heavily as he leaned on his sword.
"I... couldn't... do it..."

"That's okay.
You can try again later!
I swear... you really are a dumbass.
A sensible person would've quit long ago."

Do you want to see something cool?"


The boy then attempted to stand up but failed.
So while still kneeling he lifted his sword and pulled it back.

The tip of his blade began to glow and as he thrust it forward a projectile of pure energy flew out of it.
Though it wasn't refined and as such it didn't have an edge the blast still shook the tree it hit.
Griswald watched the scorch marks on the wood as the aether singed it.
He then turned back in bewilderment towards Lowan.

"H-How?! I didn't tell you how to do that!"

"Heh... I figured it out!"
And with those last words the boy finally passed out from the exhaustion and the pain.

Omake #3: THE END
Aaaand that's about it.
Sorry for dragging this one thing into 3 different side stories but I didn't want to stretch any one of them out to such ridiculous lengths.

Hope you were satisfied with the end result
>Hope you were satisfied with the end result
When are we ever?
I liked it. Lowan is still a brash dumbass but he isn't as suicidal. Decent character growth. Look forward to more and the next session, whenever it is.
Saturday my dude
>Saturday my dude
It's saturday my dude!
Check twitter.
Something came up.

Session cancelled

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