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December 27th, 1932

You are Richter Von Tracht, Lieutenant of Strossvald, Coordinator for Netilland, and formerly Kommandant for a small band of upstarts called the Republic of Vang- the latter the most important for what you were doing today, even if the Republic’s namesake was no longer such, it now being titled Mittelsosalia. Rather bland, in your opinion, but you had known that the person whose name had marked the former incarnation of the country did not approve of the appearance of vanity.

You’d left with confidence that nothing would fall apart in your absence- in spite of the continued mess at UGZ-07, your men of the 1st company of the 5th Combined Light Infantry had played their part there, and their only task now was dull, but easy manual labor, while you departed to visit a head of state- who was also a friend. Unlike most heads of state, she was also a twenty year old young woman.

It had been a simple affair to get a train ride out. You, after all, had some importance, so leaving the camp to your second in command and buying a train ticket out was no trouble. That wasn’t to say the world itself would move for you- the events of a couple days past had security keeping a close eye on what was coming in and out of the region, and the train was delayed for a solid hour and a half as forward patrols went and secured the track before even a simple passenger train was allowed to leave. Railways were a preferred target of insurgents, and in the early days you’d been in Netilland, the rails would be damaged near every other day until the local Netillian presence managed to organize itself.

Stein and Malachi were being brought along on your train ride out to the small city of Perlowieza- named for the castle it ringed around. Perlowieza was no grand fortification, from the pictures you’d seen of it, but an (admittedly lovely) stonework mansion with the barest suggestion of actual fortification, designed for the eye of an aesthetician rather than a siege engineer. It was not a large or imposing castle either- it would not have been out of place in a children’s fairy tale book, yet here was where the King now made his court. Rather, by his Netillian granted title, High Protector of the Ellowian Occupied Territories of Netilland, Wladysaw XI Von Katski, additional names exempted, because none actually recognized his royal claim save for those underneath him.

Perlowieza was a far ways from Kamienisty, so you’d at least be gone for most of the day, ifan event didn’t pop up for you to stay over a day. That you took a pair of crew with you shouldn’t matter much either, there hadn’t been a time where more than two tanks had been deployed anyways, and there shouldn’t be a situation anytime soon where any would be demanded, let alone your full complement. You could be kept company on a train, and perhaps, kept out of trouble until you met with the young Minister of the People.
>>
In your hands you held a bag containing a vintage bottle of wine- likely meant to be a collection item rather than drunk with particular enthusiasm, that you saw when you were getting drinks for yesterday’s shenanigans with Anya (the conclusion of which you couldn’t even remember- only the end results) but went back and bought to give to Signy. Would she like it? You didn’t know. You and Signy hadn’t ever talked about what to buy each other. Each time you parted had a certain finality to it, and a lot of the other time was business…or stress relief, you supposed. Listening to Signy ramble drunkenly in the night. Was it rude to get her alcohol? No, right?

You asked your crew about it, interrupting a conversation Stein was trying to have about warm winters. Their answers weren’t really heartening.

“Didn’t have her pegged for wine, commander,” Stein said as he glanced at the (quite pricey) bottle of vintage wine you’d bought for Signy, as a present when you went to see her. It felt like a proper thing to do. “Didn’t seem rich enough. Sort of country, you know? Not like Lady Von Blum.”

“A new horizon for her, then,” you defended your selection. In truth, you didn’t really know what Signy would have wanted as a gift. You’d never taken the chance to really talk about that sort of thing with her; not asked her what she’d want, materially. “What do you think she’d have liked, then?”

Stein put a finger to his chin. “I don’t know, we hardly talked. Something girly, I guess? Like a stuffed animal of whatever she liked best? Book of a genre she likes?”

“I suppose she seems like the sort who would read a lot of political theory,” you said, “Not that I know much at all about that…” Especially since your ideas of ideal policy likely differed. You poked Malachi in the shoulder, next to you in the booth. “What do you think?” Though you expected something incomprehensible.

“Hotten fermsausijj.”

“Yeah, real funny,” you muttered.

“Girssalek hotfaeodde.” Malachi insisted, laying his palms out like he was being unfairly dismissed, though you suspected he was just brushing a joke under a mat.

“What would you know about girls, Mal?” Stein made a jab, “Unless you’re hiding more than a face?”

“Hyddfoten yorass.”

“Eh.” Stein looked to you instead, “So why’re you taking us over, commander?”

“Signy’s a friend.” You said. “And I need company. It’s time off, do you have any complaints?”

“No, it’s just, well, she’s your friend,” Stein said, “Not many of us have so much as talked to her. Not like Lady Von Blum who’s been around the tank a decent amount. I guess Miss Nowicki’s been around longer, but…well…she’s her.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” you frowned.
>>
“Commander, you know what it means,” Stein said tiredly. Indeed, the topic had come up before. Anya’s natural competitiveness and pride rubbed most the wrong way- and she didn’t object to people’s opinion of her for such either. It hadn’t taken long for her to rub Stein the wrong way as he lamented his sister’s distance from the family, that Anya had stuffed in his face that he should either do something about it or shut up. That had gone over like a lead balloon, naturally. “Though for this, why aren’t you taking her along? The king does want to see her.” You had taken the time to fully tell your version of the story of Anya saving Langenachtfest on an earlier leg of the train ride- though you exempted what wasn’t needed to know.

“Anya doesn’t want to see the High Protector. That’s all.” You relayed what she implied were her wishes.

“Yerrsoff Hahner.” Malachi pointed accusingly, though his tone was playful.

“Am not.”

“No, Mal’s right, anybody else’d probably just have left her in Sosaldt, let alone all this.” Stein was leaving you on your own in this.

“It isn’t like you have to worry about it. Why are we even talking about her anyways? Let’s move on.” You couldn’t help but be sullen. “Have any of you been seeing anything strange? Stranger than the usual?”

“Mansstranj morr.”

“What do you mean, the people have been stranger?” Stein wrinkled his nose at Malachi, “Anyways, there’s a lot I’ve been seeing. That a lot of us have been seeing, but the saving grace is, it’s not anything that tries to bother us. That’s good enough for most people, but I can’t help thinking…” Stein’s expression had taken on the dark consternation of one sensing being backed into a corner, “Why are they here? What are they? I think I’m like anybody when I figured all along these sorts of things existed, but now that it’s out of the box, there’s a thousand more questions in it. But…well, what can you do. Maybe Mal has a point in looking more at the people instead. At least you can understand them.”

“Yuukentlehss. Lahkossmor.” Like…what more?

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mal.” Stein rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“What did he say?” You had to ask.

“That I understand ghosts more than humans.” Stein said for Malachi, “Making fun of me, considering it seems I don’t know a damn thing about them besides…” Stein caught himself. You all weren’t supposed to talk too openly about things you didn’t know the extent of- your wariness of drawing the attention that such would bring was significant to say the least. All in your unit who knew what was impossible to hide from them, knew also that many secrets were better off staying such. The people of Ellowie were even more superstitious than the people of the Archduchy, which was no mean feat, but the same couldn’t be said of the Netillians in your experience.
>>
Little more was exchanged the rest of the way besides small talk- banter about the quality of food, Netillian soldiery, Ellowian culture that chafed terribly with occupation. When the train rolled into town, you noted with your time leaving the station that Perlowieza was staffed by near exclusively red-uniformed Gendarmes; nominally under command of the High King, though their reputation was lacking. The Gendarmes at the station were exclusively female, notably- a sign that the new regime was running into the same manpower troubles the old republic was having near its end, forcing it to be less selective in filling the gaps.

Far from the front, indeed, but considering that Ellowie was an occupied territory and that the King was far from a popularly selected figure, you’d question if there truly was a “rear line.” They were a glum lot, but that wasn’t unusual of Ellowians besides the King these days. In a way, these men were similar to your own “volunteers,” though most of the latter had made a deal to not waste away in a prisoner of war camp rather than being drawn in by the promise of significant monetary and political compensation like the rank and file of the Gendarmes were. It wasn’t to say they were incapable as soldiers- in its final years, Ellowie was known for heavy militarization of its populace, and most of the men and even the women had some level of military training, but the Gendarmes lacked the spirit a good armed force needed for both fighting as well as normal duties. A spirit, admittedly, that may have been difficult to summon up for them considering whom it would be serving. A nation known for its pride in being an unbreakable shield against its foes couldn’t possibly be made to find pride in being a lance bearer for its former enemies, at least overnight.

“So what now?” Stein asked as he stretched his arms out, as you all left the station, Perlowieza’s old architecture making it seem like you stepped out into a century past in spite of the modern roads and electrical cables. “We can’t go right over like you said, right? Your friend’ll be meeting with the king for a bit at least. What do we do until then?”

>See the sights, take a walk. No need to rush, can just find a park and chat.
>You’d be wasting time if you didn’t catch Signy right as she left. Nobody would object if you sat around the Palace gates, would they?
>Surely Signy was staying someplace local for today- hopefully not being hosted in the palace, for your convenience. You could find out where she was booked and wait there, perhaps find some of her escorts.
>Other?

Past Threads are collected here: https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh
Twitter for announcements and various horseshit is @scheissfunker
>>
>>3770168
>Surely Signy was staying someplace local for today- hopefully not being hosted in the palace, for your convenience. You could find out where she was booked and wait there, perhaps find some of her escorts.
>>
>>3770168
>>Surely Signy was staying someplace local for today- hopefully not being hosted in the palace, for your convenience. You could find out where she was booked and wait there, perhaps find some of her escorts.
>>
>>3770185
>>3770189
Find her place.

Writing.
>>
“We won’t be able to get an audience with the king,” you said, “Not in short order. But, I doubt that Signy would want to be near the king for overly long.” Not out of any criticism of his majesty’s character, but Signy probably thought very little of a man made king over an unwilling former republic. Just a hunch. “In lieu of his direct hospitality, I would say she’s staying at an inn for tonight. We can check and see which she’s booked. Let’s all split up and look, and meet back here in an hour and a half and report what we’ve found.”

However, only forty five minutes had passed when, rather than meeting back at the station, Malachi and Stein came to find you instead. Malachi had apparently seen a pair of Mittelsosalian soldiers loitering at a café- and they had been forthcoming in telling the hotel where “Cyclops” had been staying. Though Stein was apparently the one who had to ask. A brief questioning of your crew revealed that the Republic’s “finest” had undergone some improvements of materiel. Their uniforms were neater, better made, though were still identical otherwise to their wear back when you were there. Their weapons were likewise of better quality, as was their leathers and general equipment. It likely helped that they were clean, rather than having to endure Sosaldt’s ever present dust. A good sign for the Republic’s longevity, perhaps.

The hotel Signy apparently had a room at was a simplistic, if relatively large, brickwork building. Its lack of opulence might have been what had drawn her, you thought to yourself. Some would call it dull rather than unassuming. The interior was equally plain, though a pair of fireplaces made the lobby nice and toasty compared to the winter chill outside. A warm winter, yes, but that hardly meant there was no frost in the morning in spite of the lack of snow.

When you entered, you saw but a single Mittelsosalian, indeed, in a uniform you recognized, though the cat had been replaced by a broad brimmed hat. A pair of Gendarmes were near, as well, keeping a nervous eye on the Sosaldtian fighter that was not being returned by the latter. Perhaps because the soldier openly wore his weapon. Unusual in most places, but Sosaldt had been a place where not carrying a loaded weapon at all times either meant that somebody else carried a gun for you, or that you were new around those parts, or that you were either not to be trusted or poor- perhaps both. You approached the guard, and upon closing, got his attention with a wave.
>>
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“Woah, hey!” the Mittelsosalian guard jumped upon seeing you, “Ho-ly shit, it’s the Kommandant! How’s it goin’? You remember me?”

You squinted at the soldier. “…No?”

“Aw, what?” the man’s shoulders slumped, “Well, I guess you wouldn’t remember somebody like me much anyways. I was part of the guys who went into Todesfelsen that day we beat the snot outta the Death Heads, that you led in. I was with the first company, man, I thought my goose was cooked when we got stranded after whatever in God’s name that huge explosion was. We got back, though…though you knew that, ha.”

“You were a tanker?” you asked.

“Me? Not really. I was with the walking part. Or truck ridin’ part.”

“Ahhh, yorcrunshy.” Malachi said.

The Republic man stared, and tried to smile. “…Uh, yeah. Sure. Who’re these guys, Kommandant?”

“My driver and gunner, Malachi and Stein.” You pointed to them respectively. “I heard Cyclops was hanging around here. I wanted to meet up for old time’s sake.”

The soldier put his hand in his pocket and struck a cocky pose. “What, you didn’t come to meet the future sensation in Shanty rock? Nah, I figure you came here for her. I’ll let you set up in her room…er, not the rest of y’all, sorry,” he waved off your crew, “No offense, but unless I’m sure that Cyclops, er, Minister of the People, knows you, it’s safer to keep you away, is all.”

“Is she back already?” you asked, surprised.

“Well, no, but…I mean, not like she oughta be long. Don’t get the feeling she’ll like the guy much.”

“Why is that?” Stein asked.

“Somethin’ about tyrants and kings or somethin’. I’m not paid for my political opinion. Plisseau’s only got princes, if that, after all.”

“So if she isn’t back yet anyways, couldn’t my men come with me?” you persisted, only to get a half annoyed, half pleading look from the soldier.

“Look, Kommandant, you gotta understand. It’s not my choice. If I just let whoever in, no matter who they’re with, my boss’ll have my hide. He’s real paranoid about assassins and all.”

“Ehgghh?” Malachi made a baffling sound. “Hookeller? Nowey, toodorble”

The Republican Soldier stared helplessly.

“There’s a threat of assassination?” you were equally alarmed.

“I don’t think so. I mean, you know what Cyclops looks like. Who could kill that, you know?” The trooper gesticulated to his face, “Really though, can’t think of why anybody here would. Boss just likes to be overly careful, I think.”
>>
Unfortunately, you could think of why somebody would want Signy dead, were they to know what you knew. Hopefully, there wasn’t anybody near Signy who had both your picture of the situation and also a reason to act hostilely towards her.

“Well, you’ll keep anybody from assassinating her, won’t you?” You toyed with the trooper.

“Sure, deal.” He beckoned you after him, “C’mon, I’ll take you up now.”

-----

“Here we are. Don’t make a mess of the place or I’ll be taken out behind the shed and shot.”

“Well don’t give me too much motivation.” You said with a quick look around. This was most certainly a suite- it was very well appointed, it even had a stovetop and a bed for two, groceries by the former. The window looking out had been boarded up- probably a modification made without the knowledge of the hotel staff. Signy’s luggage was in a pile on the wall opposite the bed. Likely put there by her people- the chances she’d taken a step into this room were minimal.

Your response made the soldier laugh very nervously. “Ha…ha…So uh, I guess I’ll tell her you’re here when she gets back…?”

>Naturally.
>Don’t, actually. I’d like this to be a surprise. If you don’t mind.
>Other?
Also-
>Poke around in her things? Or let it all be?
And-
>Do you want to go out anywhere once she gets back or stick around in here?
As well as-
>Do you want to ask about anything in particular once Signy returns?
>>
>>3770656
>>Naturally.
>Poke around in her things? Or let it all be?
Maybe just open it and have a quick look but don't go rifling through everything.
>Do you want to go out anywhere once she gets back or stick around in here?
Let's stay in here for now; gives us privacy from any potential spies or other parties.
>Do you want to ask about anything in particular once Signy returns?
-General state of affairs in the Republic since we left
-Trying to find out exactly how much of the Ellowian army/government managed to flee west into Sosalia and the level of contact they/she has with the NLF
-See if she knows who Drachen is
- Find out where she'll be going for the rest of her trip.
>>
>>3770656
>Naturally.
Best have the soldier let Signy know we're here, if Stein and Mal loitering around don't catch her attention first. With talk of armed guards and potential assassins it's probably a good idea not to suprise her right now.
>Poke around in her things? Or let it all be?
Absolutely no pantry draw raiding or grocery snaffling
>Do you want to go out anywhere once she gets back or stick around in here?
Perlowieza sounds like a pretty old fashioned city, maybe there's some kind of unique, old-timey entertainment we could all go looking for to kill some time while we chat, if Signy's up for it/her forces will allow us.
>Do you want to ask about anything in particular once Signy returns?
I'm not too sure about this part since voting to meet Signy last thread wasn't my idea. I'll leave the meat and potatoes of this last part to the other anons. Start off with some general questions to get us all up to speed: What big news is going on with the Republic, how she's been, personally, since we last saw her, how government has been working out for her. I dunno.
>>
>>3770704
Supporting. Maybe chat a bit with the guards first just to see things from the common people's perspective on how the Republic is doing so far. Also I guess later briefly touch upon Signy's meeting with the King and whether she got anything useful from it (though I doubt it)
>>
>>3770704
Sounds good.
>>
>>3770704
>>3770734
>>3770801
Look in Signy's things. Aren't you a gentleman. And stick around there.
>>3770711
No food stealing. And go out.

Questions also to be applied.

Writing.
>>
>>3770704
This works, maybe add to ask her about Glockenblume and if they are behaving.
Also ask how Viska of the White Eyes is doingm
>>
>>3771172
>ask how Viska is doing
Anon, I...
>>
>>3771205
It's not like I'm asking for a high five from her or something.
>>
>>3771235
Just ask how the White Eyes in general are doing. Vriska is their leader so her circumstances will be related.
>>
“Yeah, go ahead and tell her.” With the threat of assassination being spoken of, no matter how much veracity said threats had, it would probably not be a good idea to surprise Signy. Your first meeting with her involved her sticking a gun in your face, after all. “Wait, before you head off. I want to ask you a couple of things.”

“Huh? Oh, sure.” The guard turned back around. “What about?”

“The Republic. How is it doing, you think? Are things better than when I left?”

“Oh. Well, I dunno,” the trooper leaned on the doorframe and looked at the ceiling, “Depends on what you think better is. On one hand, things are more orderly. I can’t tell you the specifics but most places are still in charge of their own local affairs, so long as they follow the law and pay taxes. Government police in every place is the biggest difference from what I’ve heard. A lot of people complain that they’re losing liberties, while other people just say those lost liberties are them taking tribute and slavery. Glockenblume had a big raid done on it after them and the White Eyes had a kerfuffle about a month back, and they got reigned in hard, for example. Not that there’s any such thing as a White Eye or a Guillotine or whatever anymore. The original territories are just the Republic, and most of the rest is at this point, too.”

“A kerfuffle?” you interrupted, “What do you mean by that?”

The soldier shrugged. “I dunno, I just do my job and cash my pay stubs. Things are certainly better for me, so I like that. Like I said, there’s plenty of people who aren’t happy about the way things are going, but the bigger the Republic gets, the more people want to join up. They don’t really got a choice, and I think that’s what a lot of people don’t like the most. Sosaldt’s consolidating, whether it’s for the Lords of the North, the Southern Cities, or Mittelsosalia. Last I heard Gusseizenholz was next on the block, and if they join up, then the Republic’s officially got the Iron Hogs in their hands. No contracts outside the Republic, see. The Republic’ll buy your contract up, or you can’t run a company that’s larger than ten fighters. That was an unpopular move, I hear, but hey, the Republic pays steady.”

“I see.” You wandered further into the room. “Thank you. That was all.”

“A’ight then,” the trooper sauntered off and closed the door behind him.

That left you alone, in Signy’s room, to wait.

>>
…Well, if you were hungry, there was food…no, you resolved not to eat any of that. You would, however, take a casual peek in Signy’s things- there probably wasn’t anything of important intelligence wise, at least, not unless the Republic’s methods of handling intelligence were impressively poor, but you were curious nevertheless. You opened a case- it was her clothing. Well, you didn’t think she’d go with that sort of color variance for what wouldn’t be seen by most, but besides that, you had no reason to do more than glance.
Another case was unlatched- this one was a rather small, but heavy one, and the reason for its weight was obvious upon opening it. The thing was full of books- what appeared to be political theory and writings of a great many names you didn’t recognize. Edmund Loch was one you knew, but the others…evaded you.

The Forthcoming Dawn, Dialogues: On the Commonwealth- that one was written by a name you recognized in history of Nauk Imperial, rather, in the days immediately following its collapse- Markus Kikarto. The Moral Conquest, written by one of Kaiser Alexander’s generals after the famed first emperor’s death. A book you’d read, though it was not a military history, but justifications for Alexander’s misdeeds. Perhaps not a popular reading for here, besides “studying the enemy.” You hadn’t thought Signy was a bookworm, but perhaps the pressures of her new status had made her approach the past for answers, even if she hadn’t been a scholar initially. There were those books, and quite a few more- there was no question of what Signy was doing with her free time. Amongst the tomes, though, there lay My Lover in the Moonlight. Naughty, naughty, you criticized Signy mockingly in your head. You’d encountered that book before. In spite of its humble appearance, the inside of that book was unapologetic smut, from the first sentences.

Surely she wouldn’t mind, you thought, taking out The Moral Conquest for a re-read, if you borrowed this while you waited. It wasn’t like you brought your own entertainment besides the wine bottle, anyways.

-----

The door’s lock clicked, and you looked up, leaning in your chair at the reading table by the boarded up window. Through the door strode a familiar figure- though she had changed a fair bit from when you last saw her. She gave you a short glance, then shut the door behind her and silently tread up closer. Signy’s hair was longer, and her eyes were heavier, and a smoldering cigarette stuck out from her lip- she had donned a long, white coat that she wore open rather than keeping her old pilot’s jacket (a shame- you could have matched if she’d kept that), but was otherwise the same from when you last saw her. Smoking was a new habit- you weren’t sure if you should mention it, though.
>>
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You looked at each other quietly- it wasn’t like Sosaldt where you’d surprised her out of nowhere. Though, you thought to have the first word, even if Signy’s first statement was the small smile coming out in spite of her tired eyes.

“Good afternoon,” you said lightly, “How are you doing? I borrowed this from you. It’s a good read, though biased.”

“Every time I think I’m out of your hair,” Signy sighed, pulling up the other chair and sitting in it, before pulling her eyepatch off. “It seems fate just smashes us back together again.”
“I could find myself reunited with far less pleasant people.”

“Hah. The first nice thing somebody’s said today.” Signy took a drag from her cigarette and blew smoke slowly into their air above her as she rocket her head to look at the ceiling, “At least, the first nice thing that I think the person meant when they said it.”

“Meeting with the King couldn’t have been that bad.”

“High Protector,” Signy corrected, “That he calls himself king is part of why he was irritating. Enough about me.” She leaned forward onto the table. “What about you? Why are you here? Surely not just to see me.”

“Would that be bad?”

“Not at all.”

As fun as that tall tale would be, you just went on with the truth. The official truth. “The Archduchy’s wary of Netilland and Twaryi’s success here. So, they’ve decided to build relations with Netilland. I’m part of a military training and advising mission. With the Netillian army’s expansion, they certainly need all the help they can get.”

“Hmm.” Signy nodded slightly, frowning a little.

“At least, that’s what it is on the surface. No need to worry about anybody listening?” You said the latter quietly, and Signy shook her head, cocking a thick eyebrow that rested above her eye like a paintbrush. “I’m not particularly fond of the Netillians or the Twaryians, so I have been doing what I can to help the National Liberation Front. That leads me to-“

“Richter,” Signy leaned far forward and put her hand on your shoulder, smiling tiredly, “I appreciate that you’re my Kommandant. But before that you’re my friend, and I’d rather that than the Kommandant right now. I’ve had a long day.”

“Ah.” You blinked, “That can wait. Then, how have you been? Is being Minister of the People serving you well?”
>>
Signy leaned her chin on the table and let the cigarette fall out of her mouth. “I don’t really want to be Minister of anything, but, I guess it could be worse. A lot worse. At least I feel like I’ve been doing some good. Besides that…well, I’ve been lonely. Nobody treats me like Signy anymore. I’m Cyclops, or Minister of the People, both of those people are way more important than who I was before. Somebody who can’t share their problems with anybody, who has to be somebody who stands at the same heights as the Archduke, or a Prince, or a President. I didn’t really want that, but now…I’m thinking that I’ll get over it, soon. It’s made me have to learn a lot really quick, like you’ve probably seen.” She gestured to the book in your hands.

“It’s never a bad thing to read,” you reassured Signy, “They say that if you don’t know what happened before you were born, then you’ll always be a child.”

“Ah. Kikarto wrote that. I’ve been reading his works. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, where I can,” Signy explained, her voice uneven as she got up to go to her luggage and dig around in the books, “It’s stuff I never paid much attention to before, to be honest. Dad would’ve like me to learn it, he certainly tried to make me learn it, but I guess…I never thought it was that important. That he’d be the one to lead us into a newer, better world, but…well, that didn’t happen. I had always hoped I’d just be the one to live in it afterwards, but, well…” Signy sighed as she pulled out a book and looked at it- it was warped with dog ears and improvised bookmarks. “I wasn’t ready to take the lead, and I still don’t think I am, but if I didn’t, I couldn’t help but feel nobody else would have.” She showed you the book. “One of his writings. The Northern Hope. By Sigmund Vang.” She opened the cover and read off the inside. “…Dedicated to my dear daughter.” She closed the book and put it back. “I never got around to reading it while he was still alive.” She shook her head solemnly, “Sorry. I don’t get to vent much.” She looked back up with a bright expression that couldn’t help but be discolored somewhat by the lines under her eyes, but her smile with closed eyes was as warming to behold as ever. “Enough about me. Have you eaten yet?”

“I haven’t. Though I thought we could stay around here, especially if you’re tired.”

“No problem. I was going to do my own cooking anyways.” Signy could cook? “Do you know how to cook at all? You can help me out.”

“I know how to gut and bleed out animals. Anything that needs a butcher or past that is beyond me.”

Signy grimaced. “Well, then, you can uh…just do what I say. It’ll turn out fine. Go over to the oven, I’ll be right there. Just get out four of the eggs and wash them, if you could?”
>>
“I didn’t know you could cook,” you spoke your mind as you lumbered over to the grocery bags and scrounged through them.

“I mean, I didn’t really get too into it for a while,” Signy said as she pulled an apron from her things, “But whenever I go out anywhere anymore, I’m being suffocated by guards, or people who want to talk to Cyclops, so I picked it back up again. I don’t know anything too complex, but it’s nice to just…have a quiet meal. You know?”

“I suppose I’ve always been able to have quiet whenever I wanted.” You said as you ran eggs under water from the tap. “The servants always did the cooking at my home. I suppose it would be the same for Maddalyn. Her house probably has a whole team of chefs of all sorts.”

“How is she doing?” Signy asked, “Did you take her here with you on your…mission?”

“I did not. I didn’t want to put her in danger.”

“Oh.”

“I haven’t spoken with her in more than a month,” you said as you rinsed off the final egg and put it on what little counter space there was. “I’ve written letters.” An egg rolled off, but you managed to catch it before it made contact with the floor. “To not get any back is distressing, though. Not that that can be helped easily, but I might have found a way.”

“I think you should have brought her with you,” Signy came up beside you, the white apron around her neck and waist, and her long coat removed. “If I were in her place I would have forced you to take me along. I couldn’t stand being away from my fiancé for so long.” She paused as she pulled a wrapped package of cured pork from the bag. “…Well, if I had one.” She withdrew a sharp knife and cutting board from the drawers and cut open the twine.

“You’d force me? How, by winking? Holding onto me tightly with your fingers?”

Signy waved the kitchen knife at you. “Har har. Don’t underestimate us. Find a bowl and break those eggs, will you? Unless you’re gonna try and crack them with smartass quips.” She got to cutting up the meat into small chunks- it was fatty, marbled stuff. “And get a pot full of water and boiling. Surely you know how to do that.”

“Sorry.” You went on with your tasks. “How are they doing? Your hands, I mean. Last time I saw they still seemed to be bothering you.”

“They’re better. They’ve got nasty scars on them, so I still wear gloves all the time, but they’re better.” Signy had taken off her gloves, of course. A glance to them showed the edges of deep, discolored scars running from under her fingers and palms.

“And your eye?” As far as you knew Signy’s eyepatch had ever been for aesthetic purposes- but you could make sure.

“Same as ever. Just fine without having a knife shoved into it. Hey, did you know that having a knife stuck in your eye really hurts? Though it’s funny, I think I’d rather have that then talk to that fop Wladysaw again.”
>>
“You’re ready to talk about your meeting?” you asked as you rapped the last egg on the edge of the counter.

“I’m ready to complain a lot, if that counts as talking.” Signy turned on both the burners, “Do you have the water ready yet?”

“No,” you hurried over to the shelf to grab a pot.

“Well hurry up, I’m starving, and the less time it takes to make food the less you need to hear me bitch.”

“Just a moment, Judge above.” You went to the tap, still not sure what the end of this process would be but going along anyways. “Go ahead and bitch, I don’t mind.”

“Well, it’s not that so much, really,” Signy finished cutting the pork, and dipped her finger in the pot water to flick a droplet onto the pan over the gas flame- testing the heat, you supposed. “What he said isn’t what bothers me so much. Diplomatic as you can expect. It’s what he thinks of himself, his position, his perspective on it all. So I think it’s better to ask a question, one I think you can answer well enough.” She scooped the pork off of the board and into the pan, where it began to sizzle. “See, Wladysaw believes he has a right to rule because of his bloodline, even though Ellowie has been a functioning republic for generations now."
>>
Signy continued, and you wondered when she'd take a breath. "See, from what history I’ve been reading, even though republics often form in the wake of authoritarianism’s failings, so too do autocratic regimes spring from failed republics, I think. That goes back as far as the days of Nauk Imperial. It’s a cycle. My question is, since you are a noble, though not one too high up,” Signy went to the bags again and pulled out a long, narrow box. “Wladysaw thinks of his royal line as having the eternal claim to the throne. Yet his family lost it for generations. Even, they only kept it for longer because they made a deal with the Kaiser, a decision even their own people disagreed with. So does this ancestral claim ever expire? Does a family ever lose its nobility, or is the blood of whatever great ancestor they had an anointment something that lasts forever?”

>Search me. The Von Trachts never ruled over anything, and if they had the glory they had from their ennoblement still I’d have naught to prove. From where I’m standing your ancestors are who you measure yourself against, not how you measure yourself.
>Nobility rose from greatness. Greatness isn’t necessarily decided by blood, but it certainly is an important factor. Is history not decided by the greatest? It seems like a natural course of events to me. The continuity of ennoblement merely means that things are arranged how they’d fall into place anyways.
>If they lost their place, then they’ve lost their right. Any nobility who has ever assumed a place of power over another knows that. As the Kaiser lost his right to Strossvald when their armies were broken by those who would make the Archduchy, so too did the Von Katskis lose their throne with the rise of the Republic. Even still, their right to rule is granted by Netilland. They can say they are masters all they like, but we all know the truth.
>Other?

Questioning session comes after, naturally.
>>
>>3771572
>>Other
I'd guess I'd say might makes right in this situation. Both the King and Republic could make cases for their legitimacy but if you don't have any power to back it up does it really matter?
>>
>>3771587
Partly this, but also since leading a nation is something that you cannot really determine someones aptitude for beforehand, the idea of a good king replacing the current power structure will always appeal to someone. As long as we remember what nobility is, it can be used to justify a claim to rule.
>>
>>3771587
>>3771615
Supporting both.
>>
>>3771572
>Search me. The Von Trachts never ruled over anything, and if they had the glory they had from their ennoblement still I’d have naught to prove. From where I’m standing your ancestors are who you measure yourself against, not how you measure yourself.
>>
>>3771572
>If they lost their place, then they’ve lost their right. Any nobility who has ever assumed a place of power over another knows that. As the Kaiser lost his right to Strossvald when their armies were broken by those who would make the Archduchy, so too did the Von Katskis lose their throne with the rise of the Republic. Even still, their right to rule is granted by Netilland. They can say they are masters all they like, but we all know the truth.
This seems to be what everyone is trying to say with write in, not sure why everyone is so intent on putting it into their own words.
>>
>>3771572
I'll support this. >>3771587

Best girl is back!
>>
>>3771587
>>3771615
These two. Richter has long believed in Duty for a nobleman. It wouldnt be such a stretch to see him supporting an enlightened monarch and all that.
>>
>>3771564
Signy has become way cooler than us.
Can we switch to the Minister of the People Quest?

>>3771572
>If they lost their place, then they’ve lost their right. Any nobility who has ever assumed a place of power over another knows that. As the Kaiser lost his right to Strossvald when their armies were broken by those who would make the Archduchy, so too did the Von Katskis lose their throne with the rise of the Republic. Even still, their right to rule is granted by Netilland. They can say they are masters all they like, but we all know the truth.
>>
>>3771572
>Other
Mixed grill. Give me a little bit of the first and third options, boss.
>>
>>3771587
>>3771615
Both of these
>>
>>3771572
>>Search me. The Von Trachts never ruled over anything, and if they had the glory they had from their ennoblement still I’d have naught to prove. From where I’m standing your ancestors are who you measure yourself against, not how you measure yourself.
>>
I am here.

>>3771587
>>3771615
>>3771621
>>3771701
>>3771727
>>3772737
Power is all, future is uncertain, so push comes to shove antiquity is known.

>>3771682
>>3771751
If your ass is not in the seat it's not your bench, is it?

>>3771948
1 and 3

>>3772834
>>3771667
Looking back.

Writin'
>>
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“As far as this situation goes, I’d say might makes right. Whether it’s Wladysaw or the Ellowie’s former government, neither are able to stand up to the combined power of Twaryi and Netilland, so until Ellowie’s people make it otherwise by force, does it really matter whether who’s on top is a noble or not? Even if the noble line as a claim to the throne, once they’ve lost that place, so far as most are concerned, they’ve lost that right to rule they had. Otherwise, we would have been living under the descendants of Sversk for all time, and that’s obviously not how it worked out over the nearly two thousand years since he landed in Naukland. The Von Katskis can claim they are rulers all they like, but we all know the truth behind that statement.”

“You think it all goes back to power, then?” Signy watched the water in the pot you’d brought begin to come to a boil, “I guess I can’t argue, can I? I’m in the place I am because those who supported me were stronger than those who would have opposed my ascent. Not that everybody always follows the strongest, anyways.”

“Certainly. Else I would run off and join the Reich.” Signy handed you a wedge of cheese and a grater- you hardly needed to be told what to do. “Of course, when it comes time to choose a leader, it’s hard to say who would be the best fit, yes? That is the purpose of nobility, I believe. When people want times to get better, I believe that they’ll remember who led them in their brightest days, in their days of glory, and they’ll wish for a return to that. Such, I think, is the purpose of the nobility. So that when the people search for a leader, they may be able to find, at least partially, what was before. That wish for what came before, I think, is its own claim to rule.”

“Do you think you can find your ancestors in you?” Signy asked as she took your gratings and the eggs and mixed them together.

You had to pause for that one. “Some I’d hope more than others.”

Signy nodded. “I feel the same, to be honest.” She took the box, apparently dried noodles, and dumped them in the pot. “Shoot, I didn’t salt the water. Could you…thanks.” Signy took the salt from you.

Further discussion of policy ceased for a bit. After some quiet passed, and Signy turned out the noodles into the pan with the pork. The cured pork had been browning for some time, and the smell in the room was mouth-watering. As Signy tossed the things together, her wrist motions surprisingly well practiced, you tried to bring up another subject.

“So, I talked with one of your men earlier. A republic trooper. He said there was some troubles with Glockenblume.”
>>
“Not anymore there aren’t.” Signy said firmly, her mouth tightening.

“Oh. That’s…good then. How are the White Eyes? And Viska? They must be glad about it.”

Signy paused, and put the pan down, before sucking in on the smoke in her lips. “…Probably not. It’s only not a problem anymore because…I was forced to take care of it. I thought we could work things out slowly, but…” Signy closed her eyes and took her cigarette out of her mouth, exhaling upward. “It didn’t work. Viska herself, and a bunch of her people…people you saved, people who were willing to give their lives for my father’s, for my dream, they…they must have lost faith that I was going to solve the problem. They tried to make an attack on Glockenblume’s elites. To carve out the cancer in that city’s rotten guts. They couldn’t do it.”

“…Did they make it out?”

Signy shook her head, and took the pan off the flame before backing away, crossing her arms. “Only a few. After I heard what happened…I couldn’t stand it anymore. I used my clout to force my way into the city. Under my command, the Army of the Republic occupied Glockenblume, peacefully, and its leaders either fled or were arrested. At least I got most of them. But…” Signy put her hands on the edge of the counter by her and leaned over it, “Viska died. I asked her people that got out, and they said she killed herself rather than be made a slave again. She went in alone because she thought nobody was going to help her…and she was probably right. I really messed up, but…I hope I learned from it. I’d better have, considering.” Signy kept her back turned to you, but you saw her hand go up to wipe her eyes. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how close you two got, but I know you went to save her and her men yourself. I know you cared enough about what she wanted that you brought her before me, and her concerns. It’s my fault she’s dead.” Signy fell silent, and seemed to wait for you to say something.

>Say nothing, and wait for Signy to recover.
>Hug Signy, tell her that it’s alright, and she did what she thought would be best.
>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
>Other?
>>
>>3773406
>Other?
Aw man, RIP Angel lady.
Hand on shoulder seems appropriate, if she needs a hug she''ll go for it. She seems stronger now even with this failure.

>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.

She made the call, and in the end because of her actions Glockenblume ultimately reaped what it was due.
>>
>>3773427
Also it's not like we helped her beyond the sandstorm battle, we had a the chance to be more forceful when she asked us for help and we chose not to.
I still think we made the right call, the Republic might not have survived if we had.
>>
>>3773406
>>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
At least in the end she got the last laugh.
>>
>>3773406
I thought it would end this way.
>"No it's not. I could've helped her, but I didn't."

Remember how we met with the emissary from Glockenblume and anons bent over almost quicker than he pressed?
Richter caused this, not Signy or Viska. Don't you even DARE to comfort Signy as if it was something she'd done!
>>
>>3773406
Give her a pat on the shoulder, a hug is a bit too intimate.
Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
>>
>>3773406
>>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
Agree with what >>3773427 >>3773433 anon said; picking a fight with Glockenblume immediately after conquering Todesfelsen would have been an extremely terrible idea both for us and the Republic as a whole, plus the fact that our tanks were pretty much on their last legs after the siege.
>>
>>3773406
>>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
>>
Ya'll are hypocrites.
>>
>>3773523
Oh please, if you're going to say Richter is to blame for Viska trying to force the issue because we had the possibility to help her but ultimately didn't we must as well add everyone in the Republic in the damn list.
>>
>>3773533
If you couldn't tell Viska will come into conflict with Glockenblume I fear for your social awareness.
Not everyone in the Republic was in a position to hel her. We were. Own your decision.
>>
>>3773556
Get into conflict with Glockenblume? Yes. Go in the way she did? Nope.
And as for deciding not to interfere during that time, I'd still vote the same way again because ultimately despite your claims, in my opinion our position back then wasn't as strong as you seem to think it was.
>>
>>3773562
You didn't even test the limits of our position then. You just surrendered immediately.
>>
>>3773564
Sucks for you that most people didn't agree with your position then considering how salty you seem over it. Though I'm not sure why you're so confident that if we had somehow agreed to help out we'd been able to put an end to it permanently in the way Signy finally managed to.
>>
>>3773577
Because Signy managed to. Because violence might not have been the only way if you didn't back down immediately at the talks.
>>
>>3773586
Anon, Signy managed to solve the issue because she had the entire army of the Republic at her back by that point. Just because no shots were fired doesn't mean violence or the threat of it wasn't involved. Back then it was only us and the White Eyes and even Viska admitted if it came down to a fight things wouldn't look good.
>>
>>3773601
Wasn't asking Signy for help an option?
>>
>>3773602
Quoting back from that thread:
>“We don’t have the money, or the structure for that. At least not yet. That’s not really an option. For example, the White Eyes…they believe in me. The Guillotines supported me, and with Bad Rott gone, they’re near as loyal as the White Eyes. Lord Wossehn is supportive, and everybody else…we’ll have to see. But the people who support me in Glockenblume aren’t the citizens, nor their militias. It’s the people who I’d consider my enemies otherwise. If I were to declare Glockenblume’s credits null and void, they’d just pull out of this. We don’t have the money to just buy up all the debt either; there’s just too many things to take care of. I talked about it with Loch and his advisors, and I didn’t like the conclusion, but…the only real option is to let them have some things.”
>>
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On a lighter yet far more autistic note, Signy is such a fucking CUTIE.
How can you say no to those eyebrows? Or those freckles? or that butt!
Don't think I didn't notice that fat butt tanq!
I mean nothing can beat Maddalyn's bottom nor can any girl ever beat Maddalyn, but Signy is a solid number three.
It's kinda crazy how much your art has improved since you started.

I really hope she doesn't have to rely on Richter for emotional support forever. It pains me how clearly lonely she is. I guess that's how it is on the top.
>>
>>3773801
This anons speaks wisdom, a more perfect set of eyebrows has never been seen. For bullying.
>>
>>3773931
>A more perfect set of eyebrows has never been seen.
Ah, I see you're a man of culture as w-
>For bullying
And so I will strike down thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to pick on or bully my waifu. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my fingers upon thee!
>>
>>3773406
>Tell her that it happens when you’re in a position like that- but that people make their own decisions and mistakes, and that Viska knew what might happen when she did what she did.
Go so far as to say Viska probably did know that would happen, not that it was just a possibility.
>>3773801
>number three.
That's a funny way of saying number two. Really number one but I won't debate you over Maddy.
>>
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>>3774093
>That's a funny way of saying number two.
>Forgetting about Hilda
If Maddy wasn't Richter's actual wife we'd be obligated as a decent human person to wife Hilda.
She has more than earned her number 2 spot.
Unfortunately close to the top only counts in horseshoes.
>>
>>3774112
>Hilda
>better than anyone in anything

>we'd be obligated as a decent human person to wife Hilda
Why? Because bad things happened to her? That doesn't obligate us. If you really liked Hilda you would want someone better for her.
>>
>>3774137
>Why? Because bad things happened to her?
A tragic backstory does not a waifu make
Love. Devotion. Loyalty.
These are traits that make a good wife, qualities that Hilda has shown off in spades.
She isn't perfect, far from it. But you can't deny how far she's gone to be by Richter's side.
She has more than earned her number 2 spot.

>If you really liked Hilda you would want someone better for her.
I do.
But we both know most people don't have an appreciation for "used goods" or "harsh" personalities.
In a perfect world, Hilda will find a good man and raise a nice family.
This is not a perfect world.
>>
I have extracted myself.

>>3773427
>>3773442
>>3773516
>>3773518
>>3774093
You aren't other people. They made their decisions, and they knew that such was their responsibility.

>>3773463
But could I have done something..?

>>3773801
>It's kinda crazy how much your art has improved since you started.

...Well, it's been, what, three years? I'm sure that putting it all on a timeline wouldn't look impressive at all compared to others over that period of time, but I appreciate it nevertheless.

Anyways, writing.
>>
…Was is right to not know what to feel? It was true that you hadn’t known Viska for long. Hell, you didn’t even know her last name, or if she had one, or much about her at all that she hadn’t directly told you. She had led her men bravely, and had lost an arm in helping you win your greatest battle yet. Even with a bloody stump, she’d continued to stick in the field until everybody was being run out. You’d gone back in to rescue her and her people, in that same battle, Krause had nearly died, Maddalyn had been shot…and now, just like that, Viska was dead. Had it all been for naught? Could you have helped her?...Maybe you couldn’t have, but if you’d known then that this was how it would end for her, forced to commit suicide to prevent a repeat of the horrors visited upon her, thinking that nobody would come to save her should she fail…it reminded you of Maddalyn’s writings that had been delivered to you, where she lamented that nobody was flying to her rescue.

You remembered that Viska had said that she wanted to see her children. In spite of being quite young, she had told you that she was a mother of two. Illegitimate children not consented to, never even met after they were literally cut from her, but her children nevertheless. Had she seen them, before the end? It was some cold comfort at least that her death had pushed Signy over the edge- given the young dreamer the need to finally cleanse that darkest stain on her Republic, though would Viska have known that, as she snuffed out her own life? Perhaps you hadn’t been planning on returning to Sosaldt any time soon, but now, you’d never hear the soft whisper of her voice again, even if that was a cruel modification to her body, albeit a beautiful one.

Maybe it didn’t matter that your emotions were a blank- Signy seemed upset having to recount it, and she would have had much longer to adjust to what happened. It was a sign of how badly she felt about it, surely- and you had to do your part in reassuring her.

“Hey.” You put your hand on Signy’s shoulder, and she flinched ever so slightly. “That sort of thing…happens when you’re in a position of authority. But you can’t blame yourself for other people’s decisions. Viska must have known what could happen when she went through with what she did, maybe she even knew that she wouldn’t come out of it alive in the first place. At the very least, she’s gotten the last laugh. The Blue Barbs are no more, and neither is their evil empire of misery.”

“…I guess.” Signy admitted weakly, “But I feel like I did…nothing. And that I should have done anything.”
>>
“Could you have done anything else?” you asked, “I was there after we took Todesfelsen. When what forces we had were spread all over the Republic and its allies, when we were all weary, and Viska asked me for my help, too- but my tanks were falling apart, and my men were tired, and we had people to take home. If you had been overly reckless, wouldn’t there have been a risk of the Republic falling apart just as it was born?”

“Saying that it was impossible anyways feels too easy, though,” Signy’s voice was growing more resolute again. “Even if I can’t think of what I would have, or could have done, it feels awful just thinking that it was inevitable.”

“It wasn’t your fault, is all.”

“Hmmm…” Signy’s shoulders sagged, and she turned around, and looked up into your eyes. “I appreciate it, Richter. I really do.” She wiped her eyes again, and looked back towards the stove. “Oh, shoot, while I was moping here…just give me a bit, I need to...” Signy got back to work at the dish, “Go ahead and sit at the table, I’ll bring this.”

-----

While Signy had been distracted, you poked around for some glasses. There was no fine crystal, of course, but the glasses there were weren’t undignified, at least. In case Signy wanted to have the wine, the bottle of which you set up on the reading table. There wouldn’t be much room for everything on it, but alas.

Signy slid your plate before you before sitting down with hers. She’d stuck a fork in each of your meals. “What’s that?” She asked, looking at the wine, puzzled. “Is that yours?”

“I got it for you. A little getting together gift.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have,” Signy gave her sweet little smile and twirled pasts around a fork shyly, “…I don’t know anything about wine, sorry. I’ve hardly ever drunk it. The labeling is awful fancy. How much did it cost?”

“…Don’t worry about that.” You changed the subject and poked at the noodles. “What is this?”

“It’s called Charbonara. Some people say it’s Vitelian, but apparently it’s popular in parts of Emre too. My father got a taste for it after he was in Emre for a while, so I’ve started making it myself, since it’s pretty simple to make, and it’s pretty good.”

It was rather simple. Cured pork, egg and cheese, long thin noodles, and…you didn’t see when it was put in, but a lot of pepper. You’d gotten a bit sick of pepper with the Netillian tendency to dump too much in everything, but you tried it anyways. “It is. Smooth. Creamy. Savory. Comforting.” It wasn’t the best thing you’d had, but you didn’t have to pretend to like it. “You’re quite good at cooking for not having done it much.”

Signy smiled and shrugged, though her eyes wandered off sideways, “Well, I mean, it’s not that hard, but…thanks. Do you want to, uh, drink that wine?”

“If you want. It’s yours, after all.”
>>
“Alright! Then let’s. Though, er, I sort of have trouble holding back, I’ve found…” Signy got up to get a bottle opener and returned to pop the wine open. “I don’t want to drink too much right when you see me again, you’ll think I’ve turned into a drunk.”

“Don’t worry, I did my share of drinking too much the other day,” you muttered, and showed Signy the cut on your palm. “It’s a long story and I don’t remember most of it.”

Signy stared at the cut on your palm, and giggled to herself. “Hee. Look,” She held out the palm of her hand, “We match.”

The ugly gashes on her and were a macabre thing to joke about, but if she could smile about it… “I suppose we do, don’t we?” You took the wine and poured out a measure for both of you- it was a deep red hue, like there had been rubies instead of fermented grapes inside the green vessel.

Signy raised her glass. “For liberty and democracy.” She shook her head, “However you think of it, I suppose. Don’t mind my toasts.” You clinked your glasses together anyways, and Signy perhaps drank too much in one go, and she coughed and grimaced at the glass. Then she saw you watching her face, and she twisted her face back into a smile. “It’s…different. It’s nice.”
You were hungrier than you thought- it wasn’t long before you’d wolfed down your pasta, but Signy had demolished hers in record time too. Perhaps it was like both of you looked away for a moment to find the other’s food to have gone missing.

“Not much of a dinner chat, huh.” Signy tossed her fork into the center of the plate.

“We can still talk over wine, if you want.”

“Until the wine starts talking more, huh?” Signy took another sip. “Hee hee.”

“So tell me about how the Republic’s been doing,” you swirled the wine in your glass, “I’ve heard you’re in an ascent, right now.”

“Mm. At least. You’ve probably heard this, but as Mittelsosalia gets stronger, more of Sosaldt wants to join it. I know plenty of people are intimidated, but, I’d like to think they want stability, too. The promise of freedom, a democratic republic. After Todesfelsen, I certainly know that people respect me more. I haven’t been groped in a while.” Signy referred to, in the past, how apparently, when she went to meet with warlords back in Sosaldt, before she’d become Minister of the People, the jumped up gang leaders would molest Signy casually- something she’d shared with you that she hated. But now, she almost treated it as a joke, it seemed.
>>
Signy tapped on the table with her finger. “More importantly, we’ve been recognized properly. The Archduchy, for example, and the Union of Valstener States…East Valsten, rather. The Grossreich. Part of my coming around was to meet with Netilland about that, but I think they want to take Sosaldt’s northern territories, and see Mittelsosalia as an obstacle in that.” Signy shrugged. “They wouldn’t be wrong. I intend for Mittelsosalia to gobble up as much of Sosaldt as possible, after all. Turn the place into the jewel of the continent. As you’ve said, if you don’t have strength, you can’t defend your place in the world, and I have the feeling that the nation I want to see, isn’t necessarily one that the rest of the world wants to accept…but, I digress.”

“So, I presume you’ve already been taking steps against Netilland?”

Signy frowned. “Depends on what you mean.”

“You know of the National Liberation Front? Ellowian freedom fighters, who I’m trying to help where I can. I know you’re involved with them.”

“I’ve been trying to be careful about that being known…” Signy took a long drink, “Yeah. I’ve had the Republic send the insurgency here supplies. I…I didn’t know you were here, or else I wouldn’t have-“

“It’s alright.”

“But surely you’ve been placed in danger.”

“Nothing I couldn’t handle.” You reassured Signy, “Though…do you know Drachen? Who he is?”

“I don’t know him particularly. He was a mercenary, like many people in Sosaldt were. He was from Ellowie. I think he was from one of the territories we got passage through, when there was the big meeting with Lord Wossehn. Pretty much all of those territories and warbands joined up with the Republic after Todesfelsen, you know. I didn’t actually send him here, you know. I was pointed in his direction when I was trying to look for somebody to send here to help, except, he’d already come over here himself. Easy for me, I guess.”

“I see.” You said. “I was hoping you’d know more about him, but…ah well. Where are you planning to go for the rest of your trip?”

“I probably won’t have any more dinners with cute guys,” Signy wiggled her glass towards you with a coy look in her eye. “Unless any decide to change that. But, no, you probably already knew, since you’ve come here, but I was going to spend a few days looking over the Border Zone, then another meeting with the Twaryians, then I was going to head back to Mittelsosalia. How long are you planning on staying here..?”

You shrugged. “That’s hard to tell at this point. I know that if hostilities break out between Twaryi and Netilland, Strossvald has made no obligation to keep their officers here.” You shifted the conversation a bit. “What have you been reading?”
>>
“Oh, a lot,” Signy got up excitedly and went to her cases, “You know Anton Ange?” Signy asked. “Of course you do. He said-“

“I don’t.” You said, trying not to stare too much as she bent down to pick up a book.

“Huh?” Signy blinked as she turned her head to you, “You don’t? But he was…okay.” Signy straightened back up and took a deep breath, and you somehow sensed a lecture on the way.

“Wait-“

“Anton Ange was a Utopianist,” Signy went on regardless of what your wish was, “He saw a better world in the future, but he didn’t see it as something that necessarily had to be led forward, to fight for the supremacy of in order to survive, but an inevitability. This is his book. The Forthcoming Dawn.” Signy turned its front to you and showed you. “In New Nauk. He wrote it in New Nauk and in Emrean, but it’s been translated to other forms. I can’t read Emrean, so…anyways. He talks about how, over time, there will eventually be no nobles, no peasants, only a merging of all peoples called The Class. That’s the thesis for his vision of Utopia, but see, not everybody agrees on that point.” Signy frowned at the book, “Like I don’t.”

“As nice as his theory of all men being equal is, and that the society of the future just recognizes that and acts in accordance, I’ve seen otherwise. My father did too, which was why he became a Republican rather than a Utopianist. Like Edmund Loch. There’s always going to be better and worse people,” Signy balled her hands into fists and loosened them, “I certainly know that. It’s why there has to be a balance between the elites, as well as those they reign over, entirely because there are inequalities between men that will not disappear.” She had a lot to say about this.

Signy was hardly taking a breath. “Still, Ange was hardly illogical, I mean, you can read it yourself and see,” Signy flicked at the pages of the book, “But as a person he was passive, peaceful, even though his writings are fiery and passionate. My father and Loch, the famous Loch, not the pretty one, would say slothful. Ange advocated for Emrean independence, for example, but he didn’t live to see it finally liberated, he died during the turmoil leading up to the Revolution’s beginning. Nobody could say his opinion on the Emrean Liberation, that way, but even an inevitability requires that we fight, it simply means that one day, the war was coming even if we weren’t the ones to fight it.”

“Uhh,” you tried to edge in, “Sounds…interesting.”

“You should read it. It’ll broaden your horizons a bit, even if some of the stuff is a bit kooky.” She put the book she took out on top of the one you were reading on the table.
>>
“Maybe I will. I had another thing to ask, about the Republic.” Signy cocked an eyebrow, and you continued. “It’s about the Ellowian Army, their government in exile, all of that, that I’ve heard managed to flee the country. Netilland would rather keep mum about exactly how much got away, but since they’ve left for Sosaldt…surely you know something about them?”

“I certainly do,” Signy’s eyes flicked left and right, “But…I’m sorry, Richter, but…it’s not that I don’t trust you. I trust you more than most people, but…well, there’s something…I have to know…first.” Signy swallowed, and her countenance turned uneasy.

“And what would that be?” you asked, tilting your head. Signy seemed to be…staring very hard into your eyes. Like she was looking for something. But what? That you were insincere?

“Before I say anything about that, I want to ask you something very important.” Signy said lowly, “Don’t lie to me. If there’s even the slightest doubt in your mind, I want to know. How free do you feel? Do you want to be free? Free to think, to act, to live?”

“I don’t know what you’re-“

“Tell me, Richter. Don’t start using tons of big words to try and explain a feeling that can be summarized in a few little ones. If I told you that you haven’t been free, and you believed me, would you want to change that? I’d understand if you didn’t. It’s hard to get. Hard to keep. Hard to wish you hadn’t after. But what does your heart tell you?” When you didn’t have an answer ready for Signy right away, she half closed her eyes and sighed. “I don’t. Feel free, that is. Sometimes, it’s impossible. It’s better this way. I could just up and leave, but this is far larger than a girl wanting to live a normal life and do normal things now. Not like, whether you want to up and leave the Archduchy or something like that. Though if you do, that’s another thing, but this is more like…not a matter of nation, or duty, but if you feel that you aren’t getting what you have a right to. What all people have a right to. If you’re bound up, and want to walk on your own feet…if that makes sense.”

>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, if you’ve been set on the right track. If you’re really in control- hell, you’d been toyed with by those whom you thought could be trusted to act in your best interests, betrayed- maybe you weren’t free, and maybe, you wanted to be.
>Tell Signy that if it’s that severe, she doesn’t need to tell you. You were just curious. All those matters were things you’d rather not share…
>Other?
>>
>>3775948
Maybe a mix of the two?
>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, but you’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
>>
>>3775948
>>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
>>
>>3775948
>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, if you’ve been set on the right track. If you’re really in control- hell, you’d been toyed with by those whom you thought could be trusted to act in your best interests, betrayed- maybe you weren’t free, and maybe, you wanted to be.
>But in any case, we can't act without thinking of Maddy first.
>>
>>3775948
>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, but you’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that? In any case, you can't act without thinking of Maddy first, you can't live solely for yourself when you have her waiting for you.
>>
>>3775948
>>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
>>
>>3776117
Supporting
>>
>>3775948
>Other
>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that? Still…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently if you’ve been set on the right track. If you’re really in control- hell, you’d been toyed with by those whom you thought could be trusted to act in your best interests, betrayed- maybe you weren’t free, but you can't act without thinking of Maddy first.

I feel like Richter, more than anything, just doesn't want to be a disposable pawn. He wants to be an invaluable tool. He's 100% ok with being a shill for his country, he just doesn't want to be fucked over for being so. Whether that is because he's not "free" is up for debate, but he's a nobleman, a commander of men, and most importantly a husband, he's in no way free anyway. Nobody is when they have beliefs to fight for and people that are counting on them. He's seen first hand how some parties are willing to throw him under the bus, but he still seems to hold the attitude that if he collects enough good boy points, that will stop, and said parties will have no choice but to leave him alone.
I don't think that's gonna happen, but it's this sad part of Richter's character that I've come to love. This undying faith that if he does the good thing, the good thing will be done for him.
Punished Von Tracht, will be heartbreaking to witness, but I have no doubt it's happening sooner rather than not.
>>
>>3775948
>>3776150
To me the way Signy is phrasing things sounds like she knows about whatever mental conditioning shit Richter has. Maybe Loch told her something?
>>
>>3776163
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what she's referring to. But that doesn't really change the answer.
To say Richter is completely content is to deny that whole stretch of time when we had him try to "BREAK THE CONDITIONING". But I truly feel like Richter is willing to submit his free will as long as he isn't forced to fall on his sword for shadowy figures.
If the fuckers over an intelligence just stopped their bullshit with the traitor charge, Richter would be putty in their hands.

Maybe that's why Major has such disdain for Richter as opposed to Von Metzeler. He's way more gung ho about his "freedom" if only because the needs of the state come second to his personal code of conduct. I might also be overthinking it and it could be that hoes mad that Richter has his little "harem" of misfit girls. But who could say?
Now that I think about it, a question that's been in the back of my mind for a bit is who has and who hasn't gone through "conditioning". We know that Von Tracht and Von Metzeler have and I THINK Von Neubaum has too.
>>
>>3776178
Agreed.I think even if Richter knew the whole truth,just like the traitor charge he'd be pretty insulted given that to him his loyalty is one that has never needed to be enforced by some brainwashing thing. Kinda of hilarious from the IO that they're treating a loyal asset like this when their goals for now should very much be in alignment.
>>
>>3776150
Switching to this, also have the same sentiment.
Loyal dog of the state and all that.
>>
>>3775948
>>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, if you’ve been set on the right track. If you’re really in control- hell, you’d been toyed with by those whom you thought could be trusted to act in your best interests, betrayed- maybe you weren’t free, and maybe, you wanted to be.
>>
>>3775948
Going with this >>3776150
>>
>>3775948
>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
Richter is a loyal dog, until pushed too far. It doesn't mean his goals and the IO don't always align. But he can't be Hell Gitt.
Not yet.
>>
>>3775948
>You’ve been given money, glory, a caring woman to be your wife and a legacy to be proud of. Can you really complain if you’re not allowed to wander like a wild wolf, with all that?
>>
>>3775948
>…Sometimes, you do wonder. What you could have done differently, if you’ve been set on the right track. If you’re really in control- hell, you’d been toyed with by those whom you thought could be trusted to act in your best interests, betrayed- maybe you weren’t free, and maybe, you wanted to be.
>Other: But maybe it's best you're not in control, considering the Von Trac- er, track record your family has.
>>
I slept, I woke, then slept again. Except in a more frequent interval than usual.

>>3775952
>>3776117
>>3776131
>>3776150
>>3776258
>>3776228
Both, for are you not conflicted? Also muh midget.

>>3776014
>>3776261
>>3776374
Aren't you satisfied with what you have? Could you ask for anything more?

>>3776394
You lack the qualifications to exercise free will.
Especially since philandering and abuse of money is awfully prominent in your ancestry...albeit not with your father.

Writing.
>>
You rested your temple on your hand and gave it a thought. It was alright, even admirable, you thought, to be an invaluable tool- a piece of the mechanism for the state, which worked for the betterment of all Strossvald and its people, without whom the Archduchy would be worse off for your absence. In any case, could you say you were ever “free,” even from birth? The legacy of your noble family from the beginning, which drove you to sign your wellbeing over to the nation’s defense, and its associated oaths, and finally, your betrothal to Maddalyn.

All of these things you abided with, even if, even becoming an officer, were not things truly done by your complete consent. Could you cast aside your name, run from your country and comrades, abandon Maddalyn for another life?

You could, if your Uncle did, could you not? Yes, but at what cost? Was that cost worth it, had it been worth it for your predecessor?

“…Sometimes, I do wonder. What I could have done differently. If I’ve chosen the right path, or if I haven’t, what I could have done differently to be on it, if I’m in control of my own choices and actions. Hell, I’ve been toyed with by people I thought had no reason to do else than support me, and betrayed when I sought succor…”

“Betrayed?” Signy asked, “How? And why?”

“When I returned from Sosaldt, with the Archduchy’s citizens in tow, my men and I were apprehended and put into custody.” You recounted bitterly, “I still stand accused of desertion- just short of treason. Not with the usual punishment- the actual sentence would have been a slap on the wrist. A reduction in pay. Yet it would have still been an admission that I was guilty of a wrong that I believe I did not commit. It was only from the efforts of my father, who is a practitioner of law, that my trial was suspended while I attend to my duties here.”

“That’s horrible,” Signy’s expression turned dark, “…Don’t you think history is repeating itself, thought? With your uncle, Heller Von Tracht? Except, he stayed in Sosaldt, when I found out more about him…the famous Hell Gitt.”

“I am not Heller Von Tracht,” you said, maybe too quickly.

“I’m just saying, if you need to run to a place, instead of being screwed over for doing the right thing,” Signy held her fingers loosely in her other hand, “Mittelsosalia will never turn away her Kommandant.” She leaned forward, stern, “But aren’t you angry? Obviously, yes, but not so angry that you’re just…keeping on?”

“Of course I am frustrated, but, I have plenty to be happy about. I came away from Sosaldt a hero, in spite of the accusations against me. I was given a great quantity of money, which I have distributed shares of among my fellows, and I have a caring woman to be my wife. When I think about all that I do have, is it truly a loss that I am not allowed to wander like a wild wolf?”
>>
“I think,” Signy said, brushing a lock of her hair back, “That you would be happier as a wolf rather than a dog.”

“Regardless, I can’t only think for myself. I have Maddalyn to think of, too.”

“Sure, but what would she think?” Signy asked, “I don’t know her too well. I know she doesn’t like me, because…well, the feeling was mutual for a while, but, I think, if she knows you like I do…she would be alright with being by your side…no matter where it took you. Have you asked her? What did she say about the trial, did she do anything? I’m sure she couldn’t have been happy that that adventure you went on to rescue her was made to be a blot on your record.”

You shifted uncomfortably. “She wanted me to just accept the result of the trial so I could go back to her home, and we could get married. She said it didn’t matter to her whether I was declared guilty of crimes I consider myself innocent of. I disagreed.”

“Don’t you think you’re contradicting yourself, then?”

You didn’t say anything to that.

“Sorry. It’s just…” Signy drank the rest of her wine, and poured out more, “You’ve done so much for me. I want to help you as much as I can too.”

You still didn’t say anything, but you did have more of your wine. It was a good sort, even if it apparently wasn’t to Signy’s taste with how she seemed to rather bolt it down than savor it.

“C’mon, pretty boy, say something. If that was too heavy we can switch things up.” Signy must have been trying to awkwardly flirt to lift the mood again. Admittedly, it felt a lot better being called pretty boy in that manner rather than the derisive tone that, say, Anya used.

>Do you have anything else you want to talk about?
>Or do you think it’s time to break things off til tomorrow?
>Other?
In case I forgot anything.
>>
>>3777642
It mostly depends if she wants to talk business tonight or if we will get a chance to speak with her more tomorrow or something.

Either way she has to know she should visit UGZ-07 sooner rather than later.

If she does want to talk shop then:
>Do you have anything else you want to talk about?
-She didn't answer the question about the Ellowian Army. Did we answer hers enough to trust us with her knowledge?
-Tell her about our efforts to restore Ellowie and how we could best gel with her plans.
-Any Twaryians contacts she knows that could help us with fabricating NLF support evidence?

This doesn't have to happen tonight, I myself don't mind either way.
>>
>>3777642
Seconding this >>3777710
>>
>>3777710
Supporting this. In addition now that she knows we're in the Border Zone maybe we can establish a method of communication or even possibly supply between us and the Republic just like they've been doing with the NLF. Best to diversify our connections. Maybe ask about Loch as well.
>>
>>3777642
>Do you have anything else you want to talk about?
-Go back to the topic of the Ellowian Army's escape to Sosaldt.
-Maybe ask if there is anything we can help her with while we are here.
-Finally lighten up the mood by trading funny stories we've had since we last met. Talking about Anya alone should be entertaining enough. Or maybe some of the less classified parts of our stay here. Our junior officer getting kidnapped by royal hussies and the like.
>>
>>3777642
These are both good and I will probably back any future write-ins >>3777710 >>3777756
>>
>>3777710
>>3777748
Supporting. Just to check if we're breaking till tomorrow are we staying here or going back to camp first until she arrives? If we're staying maybe afterwards let's go tour the town with our guys and see if there's any else of interest since we're here anyway.
>>
Just want everyone to keep in mind that Signy doesn't want to talk only about politics all day.
Everything suggested is important info, but we should try to balance it out with more lighthearted topics.
She looking for a reliable friend, not just a business connection.
>>
>>3777710
>>3777748
>>3777756
All these are good.
>>
I'm not really awake right now. Just been on and off sporadically.

>>3777710
>>3777727
>>3777748
>>3777778
>>3777781
>>3778004
Business- insistence on the Ellowian Army stuff. Get a phone line installed,

>>3777756
>>3777814
Talk about your times not getting shot at too.

Update soonish. I really should have slept.
>>
“Are you alright with talking more business?” you asked, “I don’t want to wear you down with more of what you already deal with constantly.”

“It’s fine,, Richter,” Signy sighed with a slight humored tilt to her mouth and eyes. “I’ve talked at you plenty, you can talk at me. Though, I would like a few thing to break it up a bit, if you don’t mind.”

Something to break it up? Alright. “Well, I do have a few stories to tell about what I’ve been doing here. You never met her, but I picked up somebody in Sosaldt and brought them back to Strossvald, then to here. I’ve made them something called a Retinue- a nobleman’s right to accompaniment under arms by their trusted fellows. Even the lowliest noble is allowed one or two, and their salary is paid by the state, and they have the authority of a non-commissioned officer.”

“I suppose you’ll tell me why you’d pick that for somebody from Sosaldt instead of somebody nearer to home?”

“Of course. It was…well, admittedly, they are near to home. In a way. Her name is Anya Nowicki, and she was part of the Death Heads band, but before that, she was apparently in the Iron Hogs. Before my uncle passed away. She agreed to work with us, and I figured that it wouldn’t have been right to leave her behind, alone, having to fend for herself. Not when she, and plenty of other people considered her…well, Heller Von Tracht’s adopted daughter.”

“Oh, so she’s your cousin, sort of?” Signy asked brightly.

“No.” You said immediately, “I mean, adopted, you know. There’s no shared blood between us.”

Signy tilted her head and made a confused face at you. “What, is there a reason she can’t be your cousin? Adopted?”

“It’s just not the way it works.” Hopefully that excuse would hold up. You really didn’t need to have the varied accusations of impropriety with your mercenary retinue to become incestuous as well. “Anyways, I’m not very good in a fistfight, so she’s taken up training me, I suppose. We spar.”

“I was going to ask about that. Is that why you look like you’ve been trampled?” Signy pointed to your black eye, “That’s pretty rough for sparring, isn’t it?”

“Oh, that.” Maybe Signy had been more flattering when she called you pretty considering that. “The other night, we had a drinking contest. We both got completely hammered and I woke up in a tree beaten to hell. She had bruises too, so I figure we both beat each other up.” You didn’t mention any other unusual details.

“Sounds like it was fun. To just let loose, for a night, I mean.” Signy looked wistfully at the wine bottle, then slyly back at you. “Not up for another round of it?”

“Please. Two days in a row and I might end up dead.”

“Phooey.”

“Plus I wouldn’t want to leave you with any black eyes.”
>>
“Oh, you wouldn’t,” Signy laughed to herself. “I wouldn’t want to blacken your other eye either, though.” Signy laughed to herself, “And I don’t think you need to be beaten up by any more girls.”

Oh, dear. Since you shared who had given you your bruises now Signy was claiming she could beat you up. Best for her not to know that Anya regularly sent you into the dirt in sparring sessions. “On people whose eyes you wouldn’t mind blackening though,” you raised a finger, “King Wladysaw. Or rather, one of his relatives. The Duchess of Diameh…something. Her name escapes me.”

“Kamilia Von Katski?”

How did Signy know her name and you didn’t? “Yes. There was a party on Langenachtfest, hosted by Wladysaw, and I was invited to attend. I had Anya accompany me- if you go alone, it’s a signal that you’re available, after all.”

Signy frowned. “You didn’t send for Miss Von Blum?”

“Like I said, it can be dangerous here, and in any case, Anya is a capable fighter. She could keep me safe like she was able to prevent Wladysaw from potentially being assassinated.”

“Ah, he was saying something about that,” Signy muttered, “Not to throw any crap at your efforts, but hopefully you can understand that I wouldn’t have minded if he was…you know. Not killed, but maybe, just a bit humbled.”

“Humbled?”

“Never mind.” Signy must have thought better of whatever addition she had to that comment.

“Anyways,” you went back on track, “The official commander of the unit I’m coordinating is an officer named Captain Raley Kelwin. Young, very much so for a captain. He has a boyish face, too.” Would it be alright to call him cute? “I took him along with me to the party, I thought it’d be good for him to get some political experience, if you will. He almost got another kind of experience. Like I said, being unaccompanied is a good way to draw attention…”

“And this Kelwin guy looked tasty, huh?”

“Perhaps too much so. Kamilia and her friends chased him down and tried to, well, conquer the conqueror. I found him hiding under a bed. That he got stuck under.”

“Pfffft.” Signy snorted and suppressed a cackle, “What a goofball.”

“Then Anya punched the Duchess in the face and broke her nose.”

“Heeheheheeee,” Signy snorted and giggled, “I like the sound of this Anya person. Just up and does things. Maybe I should meet her.”

“Her reckless abandon can be unhelpful at times,” you countered. “And she’s rather abrasive. I don’t think she befriends too many people who can’t tolerate that.”

“She’s tolerable enough for you to take out to a Langenachtfest social. So what was there to do at the party? Food, dance, the like?”

“Indeed. We did dance.” Sharing that turned out to be a mistake.
>>
Signy pouted at you and made eyes like a sad little kitten. “You danced with her and not me?”

“Well,” you had to pull yourself out of that one, “I’m not a good dancer, really. Loch was much better at it than me. Have you heard anything about him, by the by?”

“Hmm, not really,” Signy’s puppy eyes faded. “I met with him once while in the country, but he left just as suddenly as he popped up. One of his men has been keeping an eye on me, security and all, but other than that…he’s just been mysterious as usual. I’m sure he’s definitely not anywhere close to here, whatever he’s up to.”

Loch being far away from this place was not something you were going to object to. “An aside, you don’t happen to know anybody in Twaryi or its occupied territory, do you? Or have anybody there?”
Signy shook her head and made a solemn noise. “Mm. No, I’m sorry. Not anybody I have faith in at least.”

Bugger. “I do think that the best thing that could happen for Ellowie is for its independence to be restored,” you went back to a topic of business, “I know you’re involved around here as well, or at least, Mittelsosalia is. If you tell me what your plans are, I’ll be able to work around them.”

“Hmm.” Signy hummed, “To be honest, I’m not really up to anything here, not directly. We are smuggling weapons and supplies, but that’s it. Honestly, I didn’t even know about the Uprising at the Ubergangszentrum until a day ago. The chaos is relatively local, and I was thinking that, if they were to do anything spectacular, they’d wait until I was right there, but…I suppose they lined it up with the King’s party.” Signy noticed her cigarette was burning to a stub, and crushed the end of it in an ashtray on the table. “I know I ought to hurry there. For a proper view of things. However, I can’t go too quickly, or else the Netillians’ll be suspicious, and Loch’s man already doesn’t like that I’m risking this. I have to remember that I’m acting in the capacity of a representative of state, he says- not a private investigator. In any case, word of it has spread around, and I was able to bring it up with the king, at least. Though I can’t go until tomorrow, anyways.” Signy looked back up at you, “So…I suppose I’m saying that’s why I’m free tonight.”

So Signy wasn’t very tightly in with the NLF- but then… “What about the Ellowian Army, though? You never answered what I asked about them. Did my answer to your question instill enough trust in me to let me have some answers?”

Signy frowned, then sagged, and rested her chin on the table. “…It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that…look. Tomorrow. If you want to know, then…I’ll meet with you tomorrow, and I can say.”
>>
“Alright,” you accepted that, “What about if I want to contact you after you leave? Is there a way I can do that?”

Signy thought for a moment. “I can set something up. What unit are you with? I’ll just send somebody to you when it’s time.”

“The fifth combined light infantry battalion, first company.”

“Fifth…first…” Signy scrounged up a pencil and wrote it down. “Alright.”

“One more thing,” you said, “If you want to tell me that tomorrow, do you want me to leave you alone, since we’ve eaten, or is it fine to stick around here? I’ve left my men down in the lobby all this time, they wouldn’t be adverse to stretching their legs, after all.”

“Oh, yeah. Don’t worry, I had a couple of people take them out to eat. I wouldn’t mind going out, I suppose, but,” Signy gave you a sideways glance and a little smile, “You can stay as long as you like. You won’t find me complaining. Though, er, there’s only one bed. And I’m not sleeping on the floor.”

“Er.”

“Pfff. I’m kidding. I can get a couple rooms for you and your people. Unless…well, you know. I’m only saying that I wouldn’t mind sitting around reading, talking, maybe playing some games, I don’t know.” Signy stretched herself over the table and put her face into her arms. “I know that we’re involved in a lot, that I’m important and all, that there’s so much riding on this…but we’ve got time in between, and…I just want to use that. If you don’t, then that’s fine, don’t let me keep you away from anything that’s more important, but…y’know.”

>Then I’ll stay around here. My men having time away from me isn’t something they can get enough of, I’m sure. [And do what?]
>If it’s all the same, I’ll head back to camp. Leaving things for too long makes me nervous.
>Staying in this room too long would be scandalous. Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back with my people and do something. [What?[
>Other?
>>
>>3778241
>>Staying in this room too long would be scandalous. Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back with my people and do something. [What?]
We could go sightseeing I guess. Anything this place is recommended for? Either buildings, food, goods whatever.
>>
>>3778241
>Staying in this room too long would be scandalous. Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back with my people and do something. [Local Bars, Sightseeing, general midnight stroll bullshiting]
>>
>>3778266
Supporting
>>
>>3778241
>>3778266
This sounds good, maybe we can even learn a bit about women's taste in alcohol. Hopefully being seen out on a date with the largest wild card in the region doesn't bring us unwanted attention.
>>
>>3778241
>Staying in this room too long would be scandalous. Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back with my people and do something. [What?]
Anything besides meeting with King Shit of Fuck Mountain in his castle.
>>
>>3778241
>Staying in this room too long would be scandalous. Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back with my people and do something. [What?[
I'm up for a pub crawl if Signy is.
>>
I am here.

>>3778246
>>3778337
Well there's-
>>3778266
>>3778270
>>3778369
Enabling alcoholism it is then.

Writing.
>>
>>3779261
Don't worry.
Drinking is okay when it's with friends.
>>
“Staying in this room too long would be scandalous.” You said, only half joking. “Perlowieza is a nice, old city. Let’s get back to my people and…I don’t know, walk around. Sightsee. Go to a few bars and taverns.”

“Huh?” Signy almost seemed surprised that you suggested that. “Oh, sure! But, er, should we…” she poked at the wine bottle, “Finish this first?”

“You can just put the cork back in.”

“Duh. But I mean…nah, never mind.”

Before you went out (Signy taking a book along in her pocket), Signy took you to meet the man that Loch had left her- it was somebody you’d already met, but not exactly the one you expected. The one who called himself Isek- you remembered that he was a specialist with poisons, but there was no reason he couldn’t be other things. Naturally, Signy was who determined that she was heading out for a night on the town- but not without eight armed guards, all in deep brown Mittelsosalian uniform. Two had rifles, while the other six wore pistols on one hip and truncheons on their other. They all wore the new floppy hats, but their weapons were definitely new, and this bunch didn’t have the rowdiness you’d seen when you first started working with the then brand new army of the Republic.

It didn’t take long for Signy to grow discomforted with the protective ring around her, and she grumbled to you as you were led towards where Stein and Malachi were. “Hey. You want to ditch these guys? I can say I gotta use the bathroom and slip out a window or something…”

“That seems like a bad idea.” You shared your dull take, “That, and Isek is trailing us. He’d probably find us again.”

Signy whipped around. “Huh? Huh. How’d you notice him?”

He wasn’t really trying to keep himself hidden- you just noticed that he was about fifty paces behind as you looked about, as you did every so often. “I hunt, remember? I’m good at noticing small details. That, and being in an environment with an insurgency only makes you better at keeping an eye out.”

“Man, you’re cool.” Signy said, and you were honestly flattered. Had anybody ever called you cool before? “So, where are we going first? Well, after we pick up your guys, that is.”

“You’ve been around more than I, I’m afraid.” You told Signy, “I came here and sat around in your room reading your books in the afternoon.”

“Just the Conquest one?”

“No.” You chose to tell a funny fib. “I also read some of the smut.”

Signy flushed red and shoved you to the side with a rough push. “It’s not smut, it’s…fine, it’s smut, but it’s good smut.”

“Sure it is.”

“Really though,” she closed back to you and edged closer, “Don’t you see what I mean? I can’t breathe. Maybe if I changed up my look? Tied my hair back…”
>>
“You don’t think anything might give you away?” You asked rhetorically, looking to Signy’s prominent eyebrows.

“Like what?” Signy asked innocently, but you didn’t answer, even though she insisted, “Like what?”

“Your huge eyebrows.”

“Oh.” Signy touched her eyebrows, then tilted her nose up in defiance and closed her eyes with a hmph. “Well, I’m proud of them.” You’d never said that they were a bad trait, but you supposed Signy was expecting to be teased about them.

Where you found Stein and Malachi was an outdoor “tavern” of sorts- a semi-permanent establishment consisting of a truck whose flank opened up into a bar and grill, with tables fitted with umbrellas laid out beside it, as well as an actual line of stools on an extension beside the truck itself. Strings of yellow lights glowed festively as they trailed from umbrella to umbrella and on the “roof” of the converted truck. You spotted Malachi and Stein, and sat by them. They had been chatting with the Republic trooper that had escorted them, but when you sidled up by them, Malachi clapped you on the back and babbled something at the barkeep- who somehow understood it and got to getting you a drink.

“Wohbrowswonn?” Malachi asked.

“I’m Eyebrows?” Signy asked.

“You can understand him?” you asked.

“Just a guess.”

“Better Eyebrows than Elbow.” Stein said. “Hello, miss…er, I can’t remember your name. Cyclops?”

“Signy. Signy Vang.” She held out a hand, which Stein hesitated before shaking. “I remember you guys. Well, the masked one. What’s his name again?”

“Malachi. We just call him Mal.” Stein said.

“What’s his last name?” Signy asked.
>>
“He doesn’t seem to have one.” You supplied that information, since it was actually necessary to properly file his paperwork to have a proper blank space where a name would normally go. “Mal, what do you go by instead, your…clan, or something?”

“Nohnehm.” Malachi told you. “Haddons, nownonn.”

“What was your name before?” Stein asked.

“Canssay.”

“Canssay is a funny name for a clan,” Signy made a smug expression, and Malachi stared at her for a few moments, before gesturing back at you.

“Goomachto. Ssoopitjohkmehk, gouffifoke. Mahkbrowsbahb.”

You didn’t understand any of that, but Signy’s cheeks turned redder (already ruddy in the evening cold) and she sat down by you.

“This is a good place, commander,” Stein said from beyond Malachi, “They have hot drinks. Perfect for the weather. Hot butter rum, hot spiced cider, mulled wine, eggnog…”

“Is any of that sweet?” Signy asked, “I know Eggnog is sweet.”

“…I mean, all of it is pretty mild. I suppose the cider would be, or the eggnog.”

“I’ll get the eggnog, then.”

“There’s also creamed coffee, with liquer,” the bartender came back and put a mug of hot buttered rum, from its hue, before you.”

“That too, then.” Signy wasn’t seeming to skimp on the beverages… “Hey, is Mal gonna drink through his mask or something?”

“He’ll just do it when you aren’t watching.” You said. You’d still never managed to catch his a hint of his face.

“Well now I’m just gonna watch the whole time,” Signy said aggressively, as though it were a challenge, before flicking her eyes to you, “Though… you’re awfully distracting, hee.”

“Please.”

>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.
>Drink responsibly. You did have concerns that your poor insides would collapse with further abuse.
>Keep yourself sober. Feed Signy drinks until she can’t walk.
>Other?
>>
>>3779612
>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.
>>
>>3779612
>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.
>>
>>3779612
>>Drink responsibly. You did have concerns that your poor insides would collapse with further abuse.
Let's not kill Richter's liver guys.
>>
>>3779667
Which part of "but eh" do you not understand?
>>
>>3779612
>>Drink responsibly. You did have concerns that your poor insides would collapse with further abuse.
>>
>>3779612
>>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.
So far it's worked for me pretty good IRL.
>>
>>3779612
>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.

While we continue in the spirit of easing the stick from out of Richter's backside with the aid of more alcohol, I'd like somebody to remind me of something. What laced dessert was it that we got Maddy so drunk she threw up on, back at that adult sweet shop/bakery or whatever it was in Sosaldt?
>>
>>3779727
More like she had one of everything iirc.
>>
>>3779750
Sounds like what Richter promised her in his letter too!
>>
>>3779751
>Maddy welcomes us back to the estate expecting to get plowed and instead we just bring her wacky icecream
>>
>>3779633
>>3779645
>>3779676
>>3779727
I didn't learn my lesson last time. Also I need a new bandage for my hand.

>>3779667
>>3779674
Perhaps being with a head of state should demand more dignified indulging.

Alright then. Writing.

>>3779727
As for this, this- >>3779750 is the case, though the important part is that everything had a healthy serving of cream that had a large quantity of high proof vodka mixed into it. One on its own might get one decently buzzed. Maddalyn had many times more than one.
>>
>>3779612
>Drink heavily. It’s for fun, after all. Might die, but eh.
We have 8 or so people to drag us back.
Besides who knows the next time we'll get Signy drunk.

>Tomorrow. If you want to know, then…I’ll meet with you tomorrow, and I can say.”

Aha, so whatever operation involves the Ellowians will be conducted tomorrow right under our noses. No need for her to keep it a secret at that point.
>>
>>3779612
I want a Malachi-English dictionary. Having English as a second language, I can almost never understand his phoneticisms.
>>
“I don’t suppose you open tabs here, do you?” you asked the bartender.

The middle aged, grizzled bald man with a bushy mustache gave you a queer look. “Ain’t wise business to open tabs when you’re a travelin’ tavern. But, with all the heat around, you’re an important lot, huh?”

“A little. If we were, could we open a tab.”

“Donnbodder,” Malachi spoke up, and he spread a few bronze Netillian marks on the counter. It looked like plenty enough to sit around and knock yourselves out- probably far more than the mountain man had any business spending like this, but…

-----

“Man, this sorta thing makes you almost wish it was colder,” Signy said to herself as she finished off her coffee. “You wanna try, Richter? I know you don’t like coffee, but, it’s not all coffee.”

“My menu’s already been planned, it seems.” After you finished your first buttered rum, Malachi had gotten you a tall glass of harsh beer, apparently infused with some sort of mountain bark. A taste of home for him, perhaps. Per his request, the bartender had heated it to steaming hot, which didn’t help the flavor any, but its taste and uncomfortable heat were, from what you could parse of Malachi’s rambling, entirely the point.

“Then you’re getting’ a coffee,” Signy said loudly, “Hey, get this guy one a’ whatever these are, ‘stache guy.”

“I don’t-“

“Come on, get the stick outta your butt,” Signy grabbed you by your shoulder and shook you, “I tried that wine, you try my coffee.”

You ended up drinking the alcohol tainted with coffee. It was quite possibly the worst thing you’d ever tasted, but in the spirit of letting loose…you downed the whole thing anyways. At least Signy clapped for you once you had to cough the bitterness out. Signy was on her second hot apple cider, and once more in the trend of you not choosing what happened next, you found a cider in front of you. That your crewmen insisted that you down before Signy “outdrank” you.

“I don’t see why this has to be a contest,” you muttered. The cider was too pleasant to want to bolt down. It lacked the sharpness of usual apple cider, and instead of being overly sweet, its flavors were mostly from its spices and complemented by its warmth- the cinnamon particularly.

“I’d think it’d come natural, after you and Sergeant Nowicki chased each other out of the camp the other night,” Stein said.

“We did what?”

“Needless to say Mal and I know to keep you out of trouble this time, and if we can’t, there’s the gang waiting all round.”

“Huh.” Signy grunted, and shut her eyes pensively as she drank more. “Hey. I’ve gotta use the bathroom. Richter, come with me.”

You blinked at her. “Why?”
>>
“To protect me, dummy,” she said, as she dragged you off your stool, “We’ll be right back.” Signy looked around, and waited- for the numerous guards to have their eyes off her. You supposed they didn’t think Signy would do…what she was doing now. She dragged you off to the other side of the truck. “C’mon, hurry up.”

“What are you doing?” you demanded.

“Ditching these dorks. We’ve got other places to be.”

“This isn’t a good idea.”

Signy looked back at you. “What, you can’t keep me safe from all the nothing out to get me?”

Even intoxicated you had a sense of pride. “I didn’t say that.”

“Then come on. They’ll figure this out pretty fast unless we go somewhere it seems we can’t go. Help me up the tree here so we can get to that balcony there.”

You did, letting Signy use your hand as a step stool. Why were you helping her do this? Well…maybe you were just fine being told what to do by her. Maybe you had enough in you to feel adventurous and reckless. Something in your blood to make you want to be troublesome.

Once you had followed Signy up the tree, and watched her almost miss her jump up to scramble onto the balcony of one of the buildings (good thing nobody was home or you might have been suspected as burglars), you helped her get up on the roof- though she took off her white long coat on your advice.

“You do this often?” you asked with a breath as you crawled up to the roof- you didn’t like the way the shingles felt under your feet, nor the angle. “Judge above, let’s get off this roof, I feel like my life’s going to be punctuated with and then Richter Von Tracht drank a lot, climbed up a roof and fell down and broke his neck.”

“We’ll spend less time up here if you don’t complain about it,” Signy said testily, as she scooted over the top. “And no, I don’t do this often…well, normally. Back maybe five or so years ago, I got really good at it.”

“Why?”

“To get out and about. My father was a great man, but he was so overprotective. Honestly being crowded with goons isn’t new. I messed up a lot at first, but now…well, we’re getting away, aren’t we?”

You looked back over to the outdoor truck bar. “Maybe.”

“C’mon, you’re better than that, aren’tcha?” Signy reached back and pulled at you, making you almost tumble off. “Oops. Anyways, let’s turn the maybe into a definitely, yeah? Over here. Quick.”

-----
>>
“I haven’t seen Isek behind us, at least,” you said as you followed Signy beyond the cloth curtain-doors of a clearly Zhantao inspired bar. That you would go to another bar was natural- you certainly weren’t done with drinking tonight, though you had pointed this one out to Signy as being particularly different. “I wonder what the story behind this place is? It’s certainly a misfit.” Zhantao was far, far to the west- and to the east of Caelus. Possibly the other side of the world entirely. You knew little about it besides its penchant for watercolors, and a divine emperor, as well as the trade goods that came through, and skyrocketed in price whenever the Maelstroms blocked it away, as it was blocked away now.

“Perfect place for us then, huh?” Signy said brightly.

“Unless you have Dhegyar blood I doubt Zhantao is a place even remotely for either of us.”

“No, dummy, because it’s misfit.”

Oh. “I don’t know if we can be called that.” You both went further in anyways- paper lamps hung at the sides of the place, and the tables were short, squat, upon the ground, where some people sat and enjoyed their beverages.

You couldn’t help but stop and read a little excerpt of history on the walls, below a watercolor of mountains and forests of tall, thin green trees, with a dragon soaring in the sky like one of the serpentine spirits that shone below the stars sometimes when you looked up into Ellowie’s night sky.

Does this place look strange? Rest assured, there is not a place like this for far around! This establishment was founded by the family of a renowned Zhantaoan poet, who took commission from King Wladysaw V after falling into deadly disfavor back in his western home. Because of this, we host a rare window from Vinstraga to the Harmonious Empire, the eye of the Whorls of the World, that we invite you to see while partaking in hot rice wine…Availability Variable.

Well, it wasn’t as though Zhantao was the only place that grew rice, though the brewing would have to be a lot more local in these times. From a brief look around, it was obvious that there hadn’t been any rice wine here in a long time. Oh well.
>>
“Isn’t this neat?” Signy asked as she pointed out imported white porcelain sculptures and vessels, the walls covered in red silk overlaid in embroidery, some fusion of local styling and the distant Zhantao. “The world feels so small, but so huge at the same time. I don’t even know if you can go to where this stuff came from.”

While the tables out front were available, you elected for the alternate setting- that of the back, where paper and wood painted screens separated different booths, and shadows of guests became parts of the paintings themselves. When you both sat down to get more drinks, you discovered that, apparently…Signy’s money had been misplaced. Or perhaps she didn’t have any in the first place. She smiled innocently at you with the sort of tilt to her mouth that told that she’d really appreciate it if you covered the bill- the sort that made one wonder if she was actually as broke as she claimed, but you simply showed your papers to the owner and got a tab opened with incredible ease.

You were already a bit sauced, but were definitely getting good and drunk after a few drinks here…and you knew Signy was feeling it too. The fuzziness in sensibility was certainly well set in, and your attention towards the door at the opposite side of the bar was fading…when you saw a brown uniform push through the door.

“Uh oh,” you murmured to Signy, “We’ve gotta...go. Somewhere.”

“Whuh? Nuh, c’mon,” Signy slurred, her eyes heavy, “Fuggin’ need a cigaredd, too. C’mon, lide me ub.”

You gave a wary glance to the Mittelsosalian trooper coming in. He hadn’t spotted you yet, but if he strayed any further without being awed by the exotic décor, he’d eventually come poking around…

>…Flee! Where? Someplace with a more Ellowian atmosphere, maybe.
>Hide under the table. It’d be a tight fit, but you could keep out of sight…
>Allow yourself to be found. You’d face the thunder, but…well, there was more drinks to have anyways.
>Other?
>>
>>3779965
>>Hide under the table. It’d be a tight fit, but you could keep out of sight…
>>
>>3779965
>>…Flee! Where? Someplace with a more Ellowian atmosphere, maybe.
>>
>>3779965
>…Flee! Where? Someplace with a more Ellowian atmosphere, maybe.
>>
>>3779965
>>…Flee! Where? Someplace with a more Ellowian atmosphere, maybe.
>>
>>3779966
You're used to squeezing in to tight places.

>>3779970
>>3779972
>>3779979
Though as they say, you can run, but you can't hide. So you run.

Writing.
>>
“Come on,” you grabbed Signy’s hand reflexively and yanked her up, “We’re…uh, runnin’.”

“Bud I godda smoge!” Signy whined as you yanked her up and tore off out the side. That wasn’t the route the bar would have wanted you to exit, but the normal route was blocked off by the looming shadow of those who wanted naught but to ensure the health of their head of state. That you were dragging off. This would sound funny out of context, wouldn’t it?

It was a good thing somebody else was doing the thinking on how to escape for you as you thought of that idiotic nonsense, and they were doing it quickly, too. Over the span of a minute you had flown out of the Zhantao themed bar, through a few alleys and up several flights of stairs, ascending the steady hillside, before stopping and allowing Signy and yourself to catch a breath against an alley wall.

“Phew,” Signy panted, “Can I ged thad smoge now?”

“…Yeah…sure.” You said, and Signy pulled out a pack of cigarettes from her pocket and extracted two. She tried to hand you one. “I uh…don’t smoke.”

“C’mon…Fine…” Signy put a cigarette in her mouth, “Lide me up, huh?”

“Can’t you…light it yourself..?”

“I wan you to lide it.” Without thinking much about it, you took out your lighter and sparked its wheel, holding the little yellow flame near Signy as she leaned in and lit her smoke, drawing in a deep breath from it and blowing a cloud across the alley- one that was more substantial than the usual steamy breath from a night as chilly as this.

“Rigder?”

“Mm?”

“I’m havin’ fun.”

“Oh…that’s…good?”

Signy wrapped her arm around yours. “Mm. Id is.” She seemed to pause for a moment, before letting you go again. “Sorry. Agding sdupid. Uh…where now?”

“To er…someplace Ellowian. Not…whatever.”

“Ochay.”

You led Signy further uphill- something told you that it was a better idea to get directly away from a presumably circular perimeter of search, and you saw something that caught your attention. A place called The Old Imperial. The sign was made of very old wood- but somebody had freshly painted over parts of the sign. When you pointed it out to Signy and you both bumbled inside, the inside of what was otherwise an old hole in an old stone wall was a deep contrast. The floorboards were scuffed, unkempt like a boy’s hair who hadn’t bathed in a week, or in the case of this floor, likely, in decades, and the tables and chairs were all beaten, but the walls were richly decorated with paintings and scenes of old Ellowian soldiery of the era of the alliance with the Reich, fighting what must have been Twaryian dissidents, and the glassware was quite obviously new.
>>
The barkeep and the servers were all in nice new clothing of traditional style, the serving girls of course in classic landhausmode as would be popular back west. The customers appeared to largely be crimson uniformed Gendarmes, or the plainer clothed, their friends and off duty comrades. A place popular with the current “regime.”

When you went up to the bar and greedily opened a tab with a flash of your military identification showing you were Coordinator, the barkeep nodded, and proclaimed loudly. “Ah, of course. Praise be to Netilland, Long live his majesty!”

The tavern lit up dimly with a rolling Long Live Wladysaw of varying energy.

“Pegh,” Signy scowled, “Phooey on dhe gingh.”

“Excuse me?” the barkeep coughed.

“Shaddup and ged us drengs!” Signy slapped her hands on the counter. “Don’ madder whad. Cheab.”

“Strong.” You added. “…Er, brandy?”

The barkeep looked from Signy to you and back again, and still confused, departed to prepare your order in fine faceted crystal.

“You know,” Signy sighed as she leaned heavily on the counter, “Are you havin’ fun? I don’ wanna be…y’know.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it.”

“Bud I wanna worry ‘boud id!” Signy grabbed and shook you with a pitiful look in her eyes- her eyepatch had been left in the room. “…You say you’re sendin’ ledders do Voblum, id’s Langanaggfesd, did you send her a presend?”

“Mmyeah, I sent her…box a’ scents. Perfumes, incense. An’ a ring. An engagement ring.” You listed off, “She’s…uh, it’s stuff…she’ll like, I hope.”

“Awww…” Signy smiled a broad beam, “You’re real sweed, real, real sweed…she’s luggy, bud…bud…” Signy trailed off, and her open smile turned into a grimace, then melted off her face. “Bud…Loog, Rigder…” The brandy arrived, and Signy immediately took a swig of it, “I wanna be habby, bud I wan you t’be habby doo, bud I also don’d thing you know whad you wan’.”

“What d’you mean?” You took an equally liberal drink of the smooth stuff. “’Course I know what I want.”
>>
“Bud y’don’,” Signy insisted, “Y’don’, ‘cause I asged, and y’ didn’ know whad. Whad y’wan’ was ‘gains isself. I thing…I thing y’sorda know, an’ it’s lige…y’ran off wid me, ‘tho thad’s nod whad you’re ‘sposed t’ do, ride?”

You took a slower drink of brandy.

“And I know y’don’ know, cause…cause I know, thad you’ve god…god somethin’ wrong wid you, and id’s not parda you, bud…”

“You’re…not making sense,” you said between brandy sips. Though really, on a philosophical note, the amount of good stuff swimming around in your bloodstream was making some of it make sense.

“Id won’ mage sense t’ you, nod wid’ id. Bud…Loog…” Signy finished off her brandy and looked deep into your eyes, entirely serious, yet…afraid. “I don’ thing, you godda chanse to try oud, I dunno, differen’ paffs. You’re stug, and I dunno…if you’re really habby. Id’s…id’s hard. Hard t’ say, hard t’ thing ‘bout, bud…’steada, shovin’ id oudda t’way, lige I always was, dis stuff, helbs me say…” Signy nervously reached over and put her hand on yours. “Jusd…I mean…” Signy shut her eyes tight, “Wanna go bag, t’ my room, an’…y’know. Do id. Don’d godda mean nothin’, jus’, dis one nigh’, ‘fore goin’ bag t’ the way id was, has been. Or maybe jus’ go oud in d’alley, an’ just…do a liddle thing. I’m drung, bud, id mages more sense t’ me lige dis, when I’m nod holdin’ it bag, an’, I thing, since you’re sloshed, y’don’ godda hold bagh eider, so…”

You stared at Signy.

“I mean, I know, I know, bud…see…ids…trusd me, y’godda…thinga id how I’m sayin’…you oughta ad leasd see, maybe, th’ way id is, isn’ th’only way, maybe, y’lige somethin’ bedder, an’, for jus’ one nigh’…” Signy slurred her words and fell quiet, seeming to realize that she was repeating herself. “If no, ‘den…jus’ forged abou’id. Bud…y’know…”

>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>Go back to Signy’s room with her.
>Get up and leave. You can’t deal with this alone.
>Other?
>>
>>3779926
>I want a Malachi-English dictionary. Having English as a second language, I can almost never understand his phoneticisms.

I'm unsure whether or not to say that that might be better. He's not meant to be particularly intelligible in the first place. Ah well.

Also I'll be out for most of Tuesday running a game. I'm going to regret this vote when I wake up I'm sure.
>>
>>3780027
>>Get up and leave. You can’t deal with this alone.
>>
>>3780027
>Go back to Signy’s room with her.
What could possibly go wrong?
>>
>>3780027
>>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>>
>>3780027
>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>Thank her for the offer and make a point of keeping her here so her people can find us. This party is officially too crazy.
>>
>>3780027
Go back to her room... and put her to bed and leave, we Got a hot fiance afterall
>>
>>3780027
>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
It's actually unacceptable on more than one level.
>Also tell her that whatever else, Maddy is someone we chose for ourselves (eventually), and we're not 'stuck' with her.
>>
>>3780029
>>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
Swapping to this
>>
>>3780027
>>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>>
>>3780027
>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
She's drunk and we didn't hear her right that's all.
>>
>>3780027
>Go back to Signy’s room with her.
>>
>>3780027
>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>"You're drunk Signy"
>>
>>3780027
>Go back to Signy’s room with her.
How will we know if we're happy otherwise?
>>
>>3780027
>>Go back to Signy’s room with her.
I might be going out on a limb here, but I have a theory. Look at the two people we know were brainwashed, Richter and von Metzeler. What do they both have in common? They're both huge nerds and slightly autistic. The sort of people who are least likely to ever get laid, at least outside of doing their familial duty. This leads me to believe that having sex might act as a shortcut to breaking the conditioning with minimal mental backlash. Or even if that doesn't work, I think Signy might be the best person to talk him out of the brainwashing, since she clearly knows what's going on. And now is as good a time as any to play around with it since we're surrounded by friends and not in the middle of a war.
>>
>>3780782
Honestly I was thinking the same thing. I just didn't want to say it because it sounds like a shitpost.
>>
>>3780027
>Go back to Signy’s room with her.

FUCJK HGER OKEASE HAHAHAHAHAHA
>>
>>3780027
>Other?
Go out into the alleyway and get a handy or something. Given our luck someone will catch us or Maddie put magical DRM on our dick.
>>
>>3780027
>>3780999
>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
Of all the votes to leave overnight...guess I should be thankful though.
>>
>>3780027
>>Refuse. Unacceptable. She’s talking silly and somehow more out of it than you.
>>
Alright, back around.

>>3780035
>>3780347
>>3780640
>>3780782
>>3780881
Surely this couldn't be a bad idea.

>>3780038
>>3780040
>>3780056
>>3780072
>>3780095
>>3780345
>>3780606
>>3781002
>>3781241
No pets and especially no heavy petting.

>>3780914
There's something a bit off about asking for that from somebody whose hands in particular were badly wounded.

>>3780055
The Bamboozler

I probably won't have the writing for a bit but calling it here since I'm sure absolutely everybody has shared their piece.
>>
“I mustn’ta heard you right…” your mouth fell slack.

Signy got up in your face and gesticulated at you with the drink in her hand, brandy sloshing back and forth as she gestured with the glass. “I wan’ you t’ take me bag to my room and fug me.” The misunderstanding was not of the auditory sort.

“You’re drunk.”

“Yeah I am. So?” Signy gave you a look like you were mentally handicapped, “Aren’ you drung?”

“…Yes.” But. “Uh…Thanks but…no. You’re talking silly…you’re more outta it than I am. You’re sayin’ something that’s…unacceptibable.” It was unacceptable, but was it bad that you hesitated? Nah, your thoughts were just slow was all.

Signy gave you a frown then drank more of her brandy. “Fiiine. If you don’d wanna, don’d godda. Jus’ askin’.”

“I’m…not stuck either, you know…” You felt the need to add, “Maddy’s who I chose…”

“No you didn’,” Signy said, putting her chin on the counter, “You didn’ choose nobody, your thing was sed up ‘fore you even med.”

“Chose eventurrally,” you sulked.

“Wasn’ whad I meand anyway,” Signy slouched over the bar and over the edge. “Uhhhh…Loog, nebermin’, jus’, y’know.”

You really didn’t know, but it seemed Signy was only going to get more incoherent. It was probably time for your little adventure away from her guards to end- if they came here, you wouldn’t run away anymore. You probably wouldn’t be able to, anyways.

After about ten minutes, and after Signy had fallen asleep on the bar surface, you felt a tap on your shoulder. You expected a Mittelsosalian trooper, ready to chew you out (or try), but instead it was Stein.

“Hey, Commander,” he hissed, “The hell were you thinking? You really got the Republic people nettled. Let’s get you two back to them, alright?”

I didn’ do nothing…” you leaned heavily on your elbow, “I just…followed Signy.”

“Sure you did.” Stein sighed.

“I did!” you had to insist, “Then Signy tried to…get me back with her in her room…”

“Really,” Stein squinted at you. “I think you’ve both had enough to drink.”

“Probably…” you pushed on Signy’s shoulder. “Hey. Wake up…gotta go now.”

“Mmmm,” Signy grunted, and rolled over. “Can’ walg. Carry me.”

“I’m not carryin’ nobody.” You said back.

“Shut ub and carry me Rigder, you dumb hea’.”

Your will to resist that (comparatively) simple request was nonexistent, and you carried Signy on your back, following Stein back to the hotel where she, and apparently your people, were lodged. At least this time she wasn’t horribly wounded.

-----
>>
“Kommandant, or I should say, Richter Von Tracht. Lieutenant, perhaps.” You were being lectured the next morning when you awoke and wandered into the lobby, by the man called Isek. He didn’t seem particularly angry, but was no less severe. “Last night, you absconded with Miss Vang without warning and led her guard detail on a hunt for several hours.”

“She was the one who absconded with me,” you insisted. You’d found yourself in a hotel room with Stein and Malachi, though you and Stein had been on the floor. When you woke up, the memory of the previous night had been fuzzy. You didn’t even remember getting back and into bed- Stein said he’d found you at a Monarchist bent tavern, which to you seemed like the last place you’d take a staunch Republican like Signy. Maybe if you thought about it longer.

“Regardless, you are untrustworthy around her, and clearly a bad influence. You are forbidden from seeing her again without close attendance from my people. There will not be a repeat performance of last night.” Isek was a tall, gaunt man, and he glowered down at you- though that seemed more his face than a special look for you.

“I believe I was going to meet with her today,” you recalled. “She had something to tell me today, specifically, I think?

“Then you and I will see her together, on account of your suspect character.”
>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
>Acceptable. And understandable. Lead the way, poison man.
>Ask why Loch is keeping Isek down here- speaking of folks with suspect character.
>Other?
>>
>>3782854
>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
>>
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>>3782854
>Ask why Loch is keeping Isek down here- speaking of folks with suspect character.
>>
>>3782887
I like this image.

>>3782854
>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
>If anything, we're a sobering influence on her.

Pun not intended.
>>
>>3782854
>>Ask why Loch is keeping Isek down here- speaking of folks with suspect character.
>>
>>3782854
>>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
>>Ask why Loch is keeping Isek down here- speaking of folks with suspect character.
>>
>>3782854
>>>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
>>>Ask why Loch is keeping Isek down here- speaking of folks with suspect character.
>>
>>3782854
>Signy is an adult woman and can take care of herself. You were fine being out and about with her by yourself- you’ll meet with her by yourself, thank you very much.
And yet Isek knew where we were the entire them didn't he? If he can admit to being fooled by two drunks, then he can accompany us.
Otherwise he can keep snooping in the background.

If Signy is going to talk to use about Haha you thought this was real, no hypnotism here, Long live the Archduchy then we don't want Isek overhearing this.
>>
Am here.

>>3782861
>>3782900
>>3783114
Well gee mom how old do you think we are? Also, go for pride.

>>3782887
>>3782964
>>3783080
>>3783086
Also just what the hell are you doing here.

Writing.
>>
“I wasn’t aware that Signy, a twenty year old woman who is also a head of government, needed to be minded after like a child. I believe we did well enough when we ventured out by ourselves last night- I need nobody watching over my shoulder.”

Isek remained defiant. “It was not a decision you have any choice in.”

“I’m not convinced we can’t just ditch you again. Unless you knew where we were the whole time? A little humility in an admission that you were fooled by a pair of drunks, and maybe I’ll consider complying.”

“Hm.” Isek was unperturbed, “Your ancestry is apparent in haughtiness, certainly. I have no trouble admitting that tracking and pursuit is not my specialty. I am able to guard Miss Vang so long as she is compliant in acting in the interest of her security. Something I was confident in her following until you decided to be a poor influence.”

“I think I am a sobering influence, thank you.” You flattered yourself appropriately, by your measure. “Speaking of poor influences, what on earth is one of the minions of the infamous Loch doing here?”

“You think there is something beyond the obvious?” Isek asked disinterestedly, “Miss Vang’s health is an important issue for my Master. In spite of her unthreatening appearance and demeanor, the prospect of unifying Sosaldt is against the interests of many who would either seek to claim Sosaldt’s territories, its markets, or those whom would see her as an enemy in Sosaldt itself that have influence beyond its borders. Netilland itself would benefit from her death, for example. Such is why your stunt the other night was of unordinary stress.”

“You don’t think I could handle some foolhardy assassin?” You palmed your sidearm and spun it theatrically, “The only shot as good as me that I know, I sent home to Strossvald. I believe you’ve seen my marksmanship yourself, even.”

Isek seemed like he was getting…bored. Rather than agitated by your obstinacy. “Then our combined efforts would make Miss Vang the safer. Is that not in your interests?”

“My interests aren’t any of your concern. I’m saying that you don’t have anything to worry about, and that I don’t want anybody that I know for sure is a snooper to be snooping around in my affairs with Signy, whether it’s business or fun. So I’m not going to make your life easy for you on that front, unless you’re intending to force the matter, and likely go against Signy’s will. But you wouldn’t do that, would you?”

Much as you wanted to sting Isek’s pride, he wasn’t interested in skirmishing. “We will see. So long as your recklessness does not reach dangerous levels, I will not intrude heavily on your uninteresting business.”
>>
Hmph. Uninteresting. You rolled your eyes and left the (likely Imperial) scoundrel. As far as you knew, Signy was still in her room- you’d managed to wake decently early…not that you supposed she’d go far without leaving word, if she intended to speak with you today like she said. When you went back up to her room, after a word with the guard- a short greeting and statement of your wishes, with little else, you knocked on the door. Signy let you in with a smile.

“Good morning!” Signy said brightly. She had some bed head, but beside that looked ordinary, though her black button-up long sleeved blouse made you wonder if she only wore black tops ever. “Come on in. Have you had breakfast yet? Coffee?”

“Some tea would be preferred. I had my fill of coffee last night,” you grumbled as you followed Signy in. “I haven’t eaten yet, though if we’re eating, I think Stein and Malachi would be peckish too.”

Signy hesitated. “…Er, well.” Then she snapped her fingers- well, her hands had healed nicely for sure, then. At least on the inside. “Ah, but, look here!” She rushed over to the miniature kitchen and grabbed a small bag that was definitely new from before. “Look here, it seems I do have some tea.”

Signy took out a small box of tea bags and wiggled it in front of you, and you couldn’t help but notice something that caught your attention.

“Is that…” you noted the strange characters on the box, “Zhantaoan tea? Who would just be selling that in these times?”

“Well, it isn’t really,” Signy looked back at the box. “Apparently this is an import from Caelus. Caelus is next to Zhantao, or something, and they grow the same sort of tea in a few places and sell it as Zhantao stuff. Or something, I’m not a tea person, one of my people got it for me, probably from that same place we went to last night. Anyways! What are you going to do for me in exchange for this?”

You frowned at Signy. “…Am I not deserving of a little gift?”

“Well, it’s not that, but…how about, you let us spend some time alone without your friends for a bit, hmm? Just a bit?”

“I didn’t realize you weren’t fond of them.”

Signy’s face turned distraught. “No, it’s not that, they’re nice! It’s just that, I mean, er,” she whispered to you, “What I want to tell you shouldn’t be too widely known…”

“Oh. Well then, that’s perfectly fine. Why didn’t you say so before?”

Signy sighed in relief. “Alright. A deal, then. I already have hot water here, just let me…”

As Signy made you tea, you made a sarcastic comment at her more mysterious guard’s expense. “I talked with Isek. He didn’t approve of our time out; he implied that you shouldn’t be alone with me because I can’t be trusted.”
>>
“Oh?” Signy pointed at you with a long spoon and teased, tilting her shoulders and hips coyly, “And what awful things are you planning to do to me while you’ve trapped me all on my lonesome, you handsome rogue?”

“…” You frowned again, and Signy’s mock flirtatious expression turned to concern.

“Oh, sorry. Just…force of habit, I guess. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable…”

“It’s fine.” Signy’s comment had made you remember something quite uncomfortable from the other night. “I suppose my awful crime will be to steal all of that imported tea you have. After I judge its value by taste, of course. Bring it over, won’t you? With sugar.”

“I think honey would be better, wouldn’t it?”

“If you have it.”

Signy soon came to you with a cup of steaming tea in a plain white cup on a saucer, and pushed it in front of you as she sat opposite of you on the reading table. The stuff was a rich, deep red, like garnets, the sugar at the bottom like sand made of the gem. “Tell me how it is.”

You looked in the cup, and toyed with the bag string. “Why don’t you try it?”

Signy looked at you, then the cup, and her expression was like she had seen a fly swimming around in the tea, or that something similarly unappetizing had been picked out. “Er, no…no thank you. Maybe later. I don’t feel like it.”

You shrugged, but didn’t drink yet. “I don’t mind being flirted with. I just have found that I’d rather not lead people on. I’ve found that…I can hurt people without meaning to, that way. I just like being careful in certain things.”

“I mean, I say silly things a lot. Hell,” Signy grimaced, “I’ve heard I say really dumb things when I have enough drinks in me. Not that I remember if I said anything like that last night.”

“Ha ha…yeah…” you made a very fake smile and laugh at that.

“Oh, Judge Above, I did say something stupid, didn’t I?” Signy groaned, “What was it?”

>You tried to solicit me for sex. Clumsily.
>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.
>You shouldn’t worry about it. I can’t remember, and I’m sure I said some embarrassing things too. Solidarity in shame.
>Other?
>>
>>3783412
>>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.
>>
>>3783412
>>You tried to solicit me for sex. Clumsily.
>>
>>3783412
>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.
>>
>>3783412
>>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.
>>
>>3783412
>>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.
>>
>>3783412
>Other
>If you'll share faith in my unwavering memory, I seem to recall you joining in with one or two of those rousing calls for "King's" health echoing about that monarchist pub we patroned last night, as its evening drew out. I'd never pegged you as one for such a sudden change of heart but rest assured, you can always expect your dark secrets will remain safe with your trusted Kommandant, Miss Turncoat :^).
Apply burning sarcasm as needed, also
>Kool-aid tea conveniently shows up along with poison man
Yeah, let's not. Signy's got things to hide, about the Ellowians and about us. No harm in keeping one secret for ourselves if she really isn't remembering. No sippy.
>>
>>3783412
>>3783526
I support this anons.

THE TEA IS POISON DO NOT DRINK IT.
>>
>>3783598
To add onto this, we suddenly get surprise Tea after Signy asked us to wait one day, after being escorted to her by Isek "Termite-B-Gone" and almost having him join. And THEN she is relieved when our crew isn't stopping by and won't take a drink herself.

This is very suspicious.
>>
>>3783526
No drink tea
>>
I'll also support not drinking the tea.
Just as a totally unrelated question, so is Caelus and Zhantao on the same continent then?
>>
>>3783412
>>A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid. What it could have been will torment you forever.

>>3783526
Whatever's in the tea Signy clearly seems to know about it and she obviously doesn't want to murder us so I don't see why everyone is so paranoid. If Isek offered us the tea and Signy didn't know anything about it that would be a different story. Maybe it's stuff that will weaken our brainwashing or reduce the mental backlash so she can talk to us about it more directly.
>>
I wake up tired and remain tired.

>>3783416
Your pick up lines need a lot of work.

>>3783413
>>3783423
>>3783427
>>3783428
>>3784029
It's a secret to everybody.

>>3783526
>>3783598
A completely fictional secret.

Of course there's also the matter of...

>>3783526
>>3783598
>>3783834
>>3783836
No sippy
Honestly idk if it's a point of contention to drink or not. I'd presume not but here >>3784029 seems to imply there wouldn't be an objection to doing so? I'll give it just a little longer, about half an hour. I've been getting connection errors for just as long trying to post this but whatever.

>>3783836
>so is Caelus and Zhantao on the same continent then?

Sort of Not that I've drawn out the whole globe anyways, but while they are at least (relatively) adjacent, part of Zhantao's moniker of the "Eye of the Whorls" is because of the swirling belt of overland Maelstroms around its lands, meaning it is quite often isolated, particularly from much of Caelus, even if it isn't frequently completely enclosed.
>>
Actually it seems like the site is bad enough right now that it's quite difficult to post? Dunno, guess I'll put it off longer to account for such anyways.
>>
>>3784402
Yes, I'd like my post to count as a vote for drinking the tea. IDK if the others who didn't specify care or not.
>>
Mouth-cunny.
>>
Alright I think that the posting error woes may have ended. We'll be able to get on with things today.
>>
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>>3784585
>>
“A secret I’ll take to my grave, I’m afraid,” you said to Signy with a wry smirk. “What it could have been will torment you forever.” Signy didn’t seem very amused, so you tried a stupid joke. “Fine, fine. If you’ll share faith in my unwavering memory, I have a foggy recollection that, when we went to the pub popular with the monarchist crowd of Ellowie, you joined in a rousing declaration of Long Live the King! I wouldn’t have thought you as one with that sort of political bent hiding beneath, but rest assured, your secret will remain safe with your trust Kommandant, miss Turncoat.”

Signy sighed lightly. “Real funny.” She looked down to your tea with an uneasy look. “…It won’t stay hot forever.”

You looked down at the tea too. It wasn’t that it wasn’t good looking- but that the manner it had been served had been awfully suspect. Maybe you were just overly wary of having your drinks meddled with after that one time, but that Signy was acting all strange about the cup, and that Isek was here, a man whose particular skillset included the use of poisons and chemical draughts? Why Signy would want to poison you, you had no idea. She wouldn’t, in fact. You were certain. But…better safe than sorry.

All you needed was to play at not paying attention to what you were doing. With how often you were called in idiot, it wouldn’t be too out of character to be as oafish as you planned. You looked over to the wall, where a simple landscape print hung, and swung your hand “too hard” over to grab the tea mug. Predictably, you smacked it off the table, and it shattered on the floor, its contents spilling all over. “Ah, shit.” You swore. “Hold on, I’ll clean that up.”

Signy stared at the ground, suddenly looking like she hadn’t slept a wink. “…That stuff is a bit expensive to just be hurling onto the floor, you know…” She tapped her foot on the ground, perhaps holding back a bit of irritation with the deliberate hardness of each tap.

“Sorry.”

“It’s…it’s fine.” Signy hung her head, as you went to the miniature kitchen to get a rag. “…I suppose you’ll want to know about the thing I wanted to talk to you about. Rather, what you wanted to talk about. The Ellowian Army.”

“Hm?” you stopped in place, “Oh, of course.”

As you returned with a cloth, Signy spoke on. “I’ve heard that Netilland, Twaryi too but more the former, really doesn’t want information of this getting out, but, a significant portion of the Ellowian Army and Air Force managed to escape into Sosaldt. There’s not been an exact count of how many in total got out, but I can tell you that there is at least three hundred thousand Ellowian military personnel in Mittelsosalia.”

If Signy had told you that while you were reaching for the tea, you wouldn’t have needed to fake the accident. “Excuse me? Three hundred thousand?”
>>
“The hastiness of the evacuation operation means that most of their heavy equipment was used in holding off their enemies from trapping them, but yes." Signy said to you, "Almost the entirety of the Ellowan air force’s pilots and their planes managed to flee, too. I’ve been having them harbored as refugees, but make no mistake, these are all soldiers. What government officials escaped as well, I am hosting in the Republic.”

“Three hundred thousand…” You repeated to yourself.

“There’s no way it’ll stay hidden forever, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Netillians already knew,” Signy said darkly, “but the longer it’s not completely obvious just how many I have, and who I’m dealing with, the more time there is to prepare. They’re not all in the Republic- but they’re ready to head there at a moment’s notice. In a few weeks, the Ellowian Air Force, famed throughout the continent, will be letting Netilland know that the war wasn’t over when they thought it was. A bit after that, we make our move.” Signy stared down at you with half closed eyes and lips set firm, as you’d frozen in your cleaning. “I resolved to not stand by and do nothing as democracy died, Richter. When this all starts, you either need to leave the country or throw in all the way with whatever allies you’ll have by then. Mittelsosalia by itself wouldn’t be ready for this, not for years, but with the Ellowians, with Lord Wossehn’s money hiring the finest mercenaries we can get…we can at least try. While the Netillians are still overextended and drunk on victory, while they and the Twaryians are near ready to come to blows. But before that…” Signy stood up. “…I’m sorry. I tried to drug you, to put you to sleep for a little bit. So that you could be taken somewhere else. So that I wouldn’t have to do what’s coming next.”

Huh?

The door opened, and five Mittelsosalian troopers surged in, standing in a line and blocking you from the exit.

“Men.” Signy said, her voice weak, “Take the Kommandant into custody. I’m so, so sorry, Richter. But this is [i[for your own good. Don’t make this any harder than it already is. Please. Just…come along. And don’t make a fuss.”

>Unfortunately, this wasn’t something you intended to go along with. Make a fuss. (How?)
>Maybe this can still be talked out. Try to convince Signy not to take you into custody.
>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.
>Other?
>>
Fuck fuck fuck fuck. Welp, the window's boarded up so we're not getting out of here any way but that door. Signy knows what unit we're in charge of now, so I don't know what use running will be ultimately. We know there are at least 8 armed guards around from the escort last night, 5 here and the other 3 probably have their hands full apprehending Mal and Stein. I'd like to hear what other anons have to suggest before committing to anything reckless yet. One thing I will suggest however is that we try and conceal a piece of that broken mug before we rise from the floor.
>>
>>3785718
>>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.

Was getting captured part of your plan anon?
>>
>>3785718
Aha, paranoia wins again.

First things first, are we carrying a pistol?

Trying to convince her won't work. She trusts *us* with the information but considering her close examination of our eyes and our loyalties, currently reinforced by there is nothing to Fear, all is well, long live the Archduke she won't be reasoned with as she thinks we're brainwashed or something.

There's only two ideas I have, both stupid.
Either we try to take her hostage, if we have a weapon, until we escape the place.
Or we bluff somehow, insinuating that our disappearence will lead the Netillians to discover her plans.
How? I don't know I need to think more.
>>
>>3786042
You do have your pistol.
>>
>>3785718
>>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.
Damn, and here I thought we were being paranoid. Oh well, I sort of want to lead the exiled Ellowian army back to gloriously reclaim their homeland anyway. And Strossvald should be fine with it if it keeps their neighbors fighting amongst eachother.
>>
>>3785718
>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.
Honestly we deserve this. ̶P̶u̶n̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶-̶w̶e̶e̶-̶ ̶M̶o̶m̶m̶y̶ ̶S̶i̶g̶n̶y̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶!̶
>>
>>3786051
Do we have Emma's can? Ornis it too big to carry?
And if it's too big to carry, is she stuck in the cottage with the BULLSHIT WIZARD who's seducing Von Metzeler to evil?
Because if she is, double RIP Emma.

>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.

I got nothing. I don't think we are in a good spot to break free. Maybe opportunity will provide a chance. Free Emma if we can.
>>
>>3786133
Just to add to this, guilt trip the hell out of Signy as we are taken away.
Bad Cyclops.
>>
>>3786133
She was not stated to be taken along when deciding who to take. So she is in the cottage.
>>
>>3786156
I thought she didn't have a can anymore.

But you know who does have two of them? Signy.
>>
>>3785718
>>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.
Now's probably not the best time for resisting, see if another opportunity pops up later.
>>
>>3785718
Yeah, this scenario sucks large dong. No more trusting anybody anymore.
>Go along with it. It’s for your own good, isn’t it? You certainly weren’t in a place to resist right now.
Let's go along with it until we get the opportunity to escape. I suspect we'll be losing our sidearm as soon as we're in the troopers' custody, so
>Other
Try and pocket a shard of that mug in case we need a sharp implement to scratch a really bad itch later.
>>
>>3785987
>>3786064
>>3786121
>>3786133
>>3786181
Lead the way, o mob.

>>3785821
>>3786198
But hide away an innocent sharp implement.
>>3786138
And make Signy feel bad.

Writing.
>>
You didn’t know what to say. You were confused, angry, and without a plan. There was no escaping this- not right now, at least. Perhaps later, you thought as you slid a curved section of broken ceramic mug into your palm, then into your beltline. “What is this?” you asked as you rose. “Am I being taken no matter what I say?” you looked at what was arrayed against you. Five men- maybe if you started shooting, but even then, they were all too close for you to dispatch them all, even if you wanted to- you had little desire to kill your former comrades even if they were being made to coerce you. “So be it.” You held your hand up and withdrew your pistol with the other, tossing it on the bed, as well as your knife. “I’ll comply.”

“Come along, Kommandant,” one of the Mittelsosalians beckoned over, “No need for cuffs or anything like that so long as you don’t try runnin’ away.”

“Of course.” The more compliant you were, the more you could potentially keep hidden. “Signy.” You said without looking at her. “…I trusted you.”

Signy inhaled sharply as though she’d been stabbed, and swallowed loudly. “…You don’t understand…” she said quietly, “Not yet, but…you will. This isn’t for my benefit. It’s for yours.” You didn’t look at each other as you were led out.

While you were being led away, you asked about Malachi and Stein. They were safe, apparently- uninvolved with this, unbothered by armed goons, and simply shuffled off along their way as they were told you’d be back at camp-later. How much they believed that would depend, you supposed- but then, they had no reason to distrust Signy.

…Damn it all.

A short ways away from the hotel, you were finally blindfolded and stuffed in a sack- much less dignified than your initial exit. Carried, then loaded into a truck, then carried again- the length of time was uncertain, and the truck seemed to take more turns than it needed to to get out. When you were finally released, it was into a…plain but rather homely if sparse room, with papered walls, a bed, a squat tea table with wooden stools. A little shelf by the table with an electrical lamp made of wrought iron- it appeared bolted to the shelf, itself also iron, which was bolted to the floor. Around your ankles, a pair of fetters were attached, with just enough slack in them for you to be allowed to shuffle about. A very small lavatory closet was attached to this room, just as bare save for necessities as this bedroom, with a toilet and a small faucet.

“Sorry, boss,” one of the Mittelsosalian soldiers said as he pocketed the key for the leg irons, “But Cyclops knows best. She’ll be here to see you in a bit. Don’t cause no trouble.”

“Hm.” No windows. Vents, yes, but small ones. The walls were thick enough, too, that you heard little, but a train horn told you that you weren’t in the middle of nowhere- the same for having electricity and running water.
>>
The Mittelsosalians left you, and closed the door behind them- wooden, possibly reinforced on the other side. Undoubtedly guarded. Another cursory look at the room- the few books brought your attention. The Moral Conquest, which you had been reading. A blank, lined book, perhaps some sort of blank diary for the all-graphite pencil clipped to it. A brief history of the continent, up from the times of Nauk Imperial, and a speculative book on the opening of the Great Gale that once blocked away Caelus. You supposed it was enough to prevent you from being bored.

They had let you keep your pocket watch- your holster had been taken along with the firearm, and you’d surrendered your knife. Though in your possession you still had your wallet, with bills and coins, the broad shard you’d snuck away, your lighter, the laces on your boots couldn’t be discounted either.

An hour and a half passed before Signy appeared. A pair of soldiers accompanied her in, but she pointed them back out. She didn’t have a cigarette this time, though she looked like she might need one from how heavily her eyes were lidded.

“Richter.” She said when the two of you were alone. “I’m…sure you’re confused.”

“That’s one way to put it.”

“I’d have told you up front, without…all this,” Signy’s eyes went to the floor, “but I didn’t know how you’d take it, or if I’d be wasting my time. I didn’t expect to meet you, so this was done sloppily. I didn’t know if I’d see you again while I still had links to Loch. To people who might be able to fix you.”

“Fix me.” You repeated drily. “I’m not getting any answers here.”
>>
“Look, I…” Signy didn’t seem to want to keep her eyes on you, “I’m not sure exactly how it works. I don’t know why it’s done, or why it was done to you, I just know that, so long as you have this thing, you’re blocked off from choosing your own path.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“It’s some sort of hypnosis or something that’s been done, you wouldn’t remember it, but if somebody really wanted to, and they knew how, they could puppeteer you. You wouldn’t be able to, say, tell the Archduchy no, even if they asked for something unreasonable. You’d keep unshakeable faith in them with but suggestions, because of this…thing.” Signy was tripping up all over the place. “…It’ll be easier if…”

Signy sighed, “You’ll have to be kept here a few days while I get the proper people to come and help you. I don’t know how to explain this in a way you won’t just find silly, or doubt me. I don’t know what it is or what it fully does, I just know it can be gotten rid of, and it has to be. What’ll happen…you might hate me forever.” Signy said this quietly, “But I can’t stand for somebody who’s helped me so much isn’t able to live their own life. If I could then I’d be a hypocrite.” Signy paused, and shoved her hands in the pockets of her coat. “…I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. If you want for anything then let me know. Or if you think of it later let the guard know.”

>Ask Anything?
Also
>Request Anything?
>If I’m going to be trapped in here I’d like another sort of book.
>I’d hope I’m not supposed to stay in here all by myself for however long you’re keeping me here
>The only thing I want right now is to not see you standing here.
>Other?
>>
>>3786447
>>If I’m going to be trapped in here I’d like another sort of book.
Where's Malachi and Stein? And how exactly are you going to explain why all of us are suddenly missing?
>>
>>3786447
>If I’m going to be trapped in here I’d like another sort of book.
>>
>>3786447
>>If I’m going to be trapped in here I’d like another sort of book.
It'll be hilarious if the IO actually busts us out.
>>
>>3786447
You're putting me in a difficult situation tanq. On one hand, the narrative logic requires we try to escape or resist; on the other hand, I want us to be debrainwashed. Just going along with Signy's plan will feel anticlimactic, but I don't want to not go along with them.
>>
>>3786447
Ask how long Signy has known about this “condition”. Also ask why she thinks we have it, wouldn’t this be much more powerful if used on some powerful nobles heir or something and not someone going into the military, a place where there is already an apparatus to give orders and control a persons actions?
>>
>>3786477
>>3786447
Also if there is some literary equivalent to Stephen King’s Misery I want to ask for that.
>>
>>3786472
Dont worry, Richter is used to letting important decisions be made for him by those with power over him. Just relax and let it happen. Everything will be fine.
>>
>>3786447
>If I’m going to be trapped in here I’d like another sort of book.
Get us that Opal issue with Maddys mom on it.

If we dont have any blackflower on us, maybe we can visit Poltergeist pet again in the cabin, ive missed it. Unless that spectral cabin Metzeler went to was that cabin then rip.
>>
>>3786447
>The only thing I want right now is to not see you standing here.
If losing this "thing" makes us a different person and undoes the relationships we've founded in the past year, then I don't want it taken away damn it.
>>3786511
Hummel best boy
>>
>>3786447
tanq do we still have the Kaiser's Seal?

>
For those folks saying that we should just let it happen, have you all considered that Loch might just twist the programming into serving him?
We have no reason to assume he's just going to send us on our merry way. We're just being turned into slaves with a different master here.

We need to resist this while learning more about it.
>Ask Anything?
And if this thing you take away from me, *is* me? Will you still do it?
What if your attempt kills me? You trust men like Rune and Isek?
>Request Anything?
A razor to shave with if we have running water.
Or someone to come in and let Richter clean himself up.
If she doesn't then she is treating him like an animal. ((Anything to get people to come and go regularly, while giving us a chance to break out.))
>>
Actually expanding some more, what exactly are her intentions after we've been stuck here for day, just to run off with her back to Mittelsosalia.

Its not like our absence wont be noted, and the last thing we need when we return is to be blackbagged by the Netillian's because they to are curious where we've been. Unless she assume's we'll just happily run off with her, since whatever she plans on doing wont let us return home safely either.

>>3786556
Honestly the only thing I can think of, is breaking apart our pocket watch to pick our shackles with and then walloping the guard bringing us food with them, since we cant get anywhere fast even if we pull the shard on signy.
>>
>>3786447
>Ask Anything?
How is Signy so sure? Has she encountered this in the past? Is this common?
>>
>>3786447
>The only thing I want right now is to not see you standing here.
>>
>>3786452
Ignore this part, but replace it with how is she going to confine us here for days without anyone being suspicious, even if we're supposed to be meeting with friends. Also agree with >>3786556 anon; if Loch knows how get rid of this shit who knows what else he can do to Richter's mind instead.
>>
>>3786447
>Ask Anything?
How do you know "fixing" me is a good thing? Do you have any idea how much this thing has made me the person you know? If you can't even tell me what exactly is done or why, how do you know I'd come out better on the other side? Freedom isn't very useful if you end up turning me into a vegetable in the process, is it? And if you are calling external forces to go poking around in my head, who is to say different controls wouldn't be put on me?

>I’d hope I’m not supposed to stay in here all by myself for however long you’re keeping me here
>>
The morning is here.
>>3786465
>>3786471
Gib me literature.
>>3786511
Porn. There's...basically no chance Signy can actually grab this, of course. Opal is only available to a rather select audience of elites."I'd rather spank it to a dead woman than you."
Also blackflower.
>>3786477
>>3786810
Question the logic that somebody like you might be "conditioned," and how long has she known about it? How can she be sure, has she seen it before, is it common?
>>3786483
This is an unkind implication!
>>3786556
>tanq do we still have the Kaiser's Seal?
That is buried in Strossvald where nobody can find it. As it has been.
And other questions.
>>3786899
>>3786977
I'd rather not have the funny stuff in my head replaced with more funny stuff.
>>3786533
>>3786830
Say something very unpleasant rather than make a request.

Gotta do something then I'll be writing.
>>
Forgot this.
>>3786472
That logic sort of depends on how much you think Richter should trust Signy. Which is really up to you.
>>
Thinking back to what has happened before when we tried to break the conditioning, we started to straight up become senile. We started miss remembering people and places and our previously immaculate battle acumen started to fade.
I'm sure that Signy is taking all these precautions so something like that won't happen, but I'm sure we are all aware of the potential losses this may entail.

I honestly have no ill will towards Signy for this even now. I feel like if we just sit her down and walk her through how potentially bad this could be, then we can get ourselves out of this situation. Sending her off so we can sit here and pout, is probably the least productive play cause while it may be foolish to trust her as much as we have she's only looking out for us.
She's also forcing her belives down our throat, and making potentially life-ruining decisions for us without our consent, but it all comes from a place of love. Can we really call her a friend if she hasn't tried to rape us, mentally or otherwise?

That's 2/4 tanq. I'm gonna place my bets on Maddy being next to make her attempt.
>>
>>3787008
>She's also forcing her belives down our throat, and making potentially life-ruining decisions for us without our consent
Oh you mean like how being a brainwashed glownigger is the same thing except it's at the behest of more glowniggers who just want a pliable little puppet.
>>
>>3787008
>She's also forcing her belives down our throat, and making potentially life-ruining decisions for us without our consent, but it all comes from a place of love.

Hilda did stuff from a place of love too. Didn't stop the players from destroying her. But Signy is cute so it's okay.
>>
And she's not forcing her beliefs down Richter's throat, she's giving him the ability to actually choose.
>>
Imagine stufffing an old friend into a sack at gunpoint, driving him into the middle of nowhere and keeping him hostage in some windowless room, then telling them it's for their own good because they aren't making the correct decisions at work. They'd lose their fucking mind and rightfully so.
Signy just said the war is about to escalate, bigly. Now is not the time to be signing up for a treatment she herself admitted "might" fix us, with the possible side effect of leaving us a vegetable in combat. Ellowie is not the time or the place for this. We've got the most powerful wizard on the continent keeping tabs on us, I'm sure a little hypnosis can be dealt with some other way, at a more convenient time, now we've been made aware of it.
>btw IO, I hate the government now, so I don't really feel like doing this assignment thing anymore, please leave me alone
>Of course, Von Tracht, a reasonable request
>>
Update soon, sorry about the delay. I was doing outdoor remodeling most of the day and ended up so tired I took a nap.
>>
>>3788366
Richter's gonna be doing some interior remodeling, Assange-style.

Am I right guys?
>>
“So I have a condition. This wasn’t the first you’d heard of it…somehow. You thought. “How long have you known about it? Have you seen it before? How can you be so sure I’ve got it? Wouldn’t something that affects my free will be more useful on some important nobility or political figure and not on a low level officer?”

“Well…that’s…” Signy hesitated after your barrage of questions. “I heard of it while you were in Sosaldt. Loch might have mentioned it a few times, but I didn’t take it very seriously. But before he left he gave me lists of people to talk to, people who included those people you brought over who weren’t tank people. I managed to meet with a few of them about three weeks ago, and they told me what I know now…which isn’t much. They called it the look, and you can’t really tell what’s wrong if you don’t know what to look for, but…” Signy pointed to the lower corner of her eye, “there’s a spot here. A little dark spot. And when you look in the direction it’s normally at…you blink. Try it. Follow my finger with your eyes.”

You did. You blinked. “This sounds like so much coincidence.”

“I can’t really tell,” Signy admitted, “but the Holtenberger people were sure, and I thought they were trustworthy. With Loch’s people knowing too…there’s too much for it to be nothing. As for why…I don’t know. Nobody does. I guess it’s for a reason, but it’s not like any of the people said why…”

So there weren’t answers for those. Great. “What exactly is your plan to keep me here, then? Strossvald will wonder why I’ve vanished. Netilland, too. My absence will be noted, probably investigated. Or are you planning to bundle me off to Mittelsosalia after this, and you’re doing this because I wouldn’t otherwise?”

Signy’s face flashed with a pained look. “I wouldn’t do that if you truly didn’t want to, you know I wouldn’t…I know this isn’t a good time, but, I think, I can’t let it last any longer than it has. But I’ll take care of it. I’ll do my best to make sure you won’t get in trouble, or if you do, that you won’t be punished for it.”

“If I truly didn’t want to, hm?” you questioned, “And I can’t say whether I want to or not right now because I have this look? How much of it is what I am, then? What if you take whatever this is away, and there’s a completely different person underneath? Or nothing at all?”
>>
That struck Signy off guard, you could tell, and it took a moment for her to come up with anything. “I hadn’t thought that could happen. But…I don’t think this manipulation is the man you are. I don’t think it’s what makes you brave, strong of heart, resolute, adventurous and ambitious…stubborn, a complete ass at times, a smart aleck…I could be wrong. I guess. But.” She wore a mournful downcast on her face now, “I don’t think that’s how it is. Not unless you insist to yourself otherwise. I don’t think you all of that would be a falsehood, just like you can’t fake having an attractive face.”

“But you don’t know.” You said, “So are you willing to risk what could happen? That in messing with my head, you’ll damage something, or just open a way for somebody else to control it, if that’s what’s happening?”

“I have to try.” Signy’s voice hardened up again. “I can’t stand by and do nothing, even if the way is uncertain. I’m going to promise you, that you’ll end up okay. If I can’t at least do that…” Signy pointed to her eye, and her brows furrowed, “I’ll forsake that I was ever Signy Vang. Stop only pretending to be Cyclops. I was able to escape from the consequences of reckless mistakes because of you, and if I make a reckless mistake this time that hurts somebody else…I’ll gouge my eye out. Is that a serious enough promise?”

“…” you paused until Signy’s breathing had levelled out some. “I’d rather you not have to risk your eye at all, or anything.”

“I know better than to argue further. You legitimately can’t see the brighter side of this…but look. Do you think I’d risk your health for something I don’t think wasn’t worth it? Just…think about it that way. Please…” Signy’s eyes were beginning to water, and she shut them tight and turned away. “…If you want for anything at all, ask the guard. I’ll be back in a few days…” Signy left abruptly, leaving you by yourself.

-----

A broader breadth of reading material would have been what you would have appreciated most, but the things you wanted didn’t seem attainable. You asked for the specific year and month of Opal with Maddalyn’s mother in it anyways. Not having seen your fiancée in so long, any aids to the imagination were greatly appreciated. However, with the magazine being exclusive to noble patrons of Strossvald, you doubted there were any here besides the issue the Major inexplicably had in her possession.

…You wondered about what the Intelligence Office might do. The Major was rather hands off, certainly, but if you were gone for multiple days? Signy might have signed up for more than she was ready for. Or would the response be sluggish? Would she have hidden you away well enough for you to not be found? You already wanted this all to be over.
>>
For lack of provocative nudies of petite nobility to imagine doing dirty, dirty things to their physical doppelgangers (that happened to be their progeny), you just asked for “more,” though you figured your lack of specificity harmed your chances of getting anything interesting. The request for a book about being locked up in a room was laughed at, and so was your request for a razor to shave with.

“I wasn’t born yesterday, Kommandant,” the guard said through the door as he cracked it open. “Not that you could smash your way out anyways. No offense, but I’ve heard you aren’t much good at fisticuffs. Got thrown through a piano when you tried. You can’t take four on one, so don’t try anything dumb. Wouldn’t be like you, huh?”

You’d only taken along two twists of blackflower, you thought to yourself- and had used one the other night. One twist for three days, potentially- maybe more. Unless you were to use it for something else, you supposed.

There was time, at least, to think on what Signy said. For your frustration to cool some. Was it possible that what she said was right, that she had more for her than blind earnestness? That she might know better, or know enough for the gaps in information to not be a deterrence from the rest? It hurt to think about…but you couldn’t avoid pondering it a little. That is, on top of all the other many things you had to think about.


>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
>Other?
>>
>>3788512
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
Even if she kidnapped us, Signy has always been kinder and acted more in our interests than anyone above us in the military or nobility ever has. Well, except our father.
>>
>>3788512
>>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
>>3788512
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
I'm tired of being brainwashed and I don't understand why people have been with it for most of the quest. This is stupid.
>>
>>3788512
>>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
>>3788589
What are you expecting out of un-brainwashed Richter?
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
Another time, another place. I don't trust Loch at all to not subtly influence us and there's no point to this if we are just trading masters.
Besides if the IO/Netillians do break us out, then Signys whole Ellowian plan could be exposed and that's the last thing we need.

>Other?
We need to ask for more difficult and time consuming items. Things to split the guards up and for extended periods. The only thing I can think of is luxurious, rare and esoteric drugs, especially if we make it look like we suffering without them. Hell, fake a seizure of something when they are distracted.
>>
>>3788512
Seconding this addition >>3788604
>>
>>3788512
>>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
>>
>>3788512
>>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>3788604
Agreed with this anon; Signy may have the best of intentions, but does Loch? No point potentially coming the Kaiser's dog or whoever Loch's masters are instead of the IO. Plus there's still Maddy that'll be stuck behind if we were to go AWOL now.
>>
>>3788512
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.

Escaping is going to be real tough, even more so if we don’t want to kill any of our old guys. Maybe we don’t have to carry this weight anymore, maybe we are just switching one master for another, I think it is worth seeing which.
>>
>>3788512
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
>>
>>3788512
>>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.

>>3788756
Honestly I'd rather the devil we know and all that
>>
>>3788512
>Maybe Signy was right. Maybe you could let some doubts creep in. Maybe, now was the time, for a change…even if maybe it was one you weren’t ready for.
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
I'm not gonna risk becoming impaired. I want actual information about what's wrong with Richter before we jump head first into potential mental retardation or worse.
>>
>>3788797
But we do know Signy?

>>3789115
We're already impaired.
>>
>>3788512
>Resolve to escape- you had to break out, somehow. That was what was most important now. You knew best what was good for you, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody.
>>
I'm going to be out all day again, not what I planned but it's how it's happening. I don't know if I hate myself enough to try mobile updating when the updates won't be extremely short but if I decide to I'll call the vote then.
Not that it doesn't seem to be clear where its gone already but I prefer to not call until I'm at least intending to be properly writing.
>>
Tired for another day. But it's time to put finger to key. That doesn't sound as good as pen to paper so we'll never say it again.

>>3788528
>>3788589
>>3788647
>>3788756
>>3788782
>>3788805
Would those eyebrows ever lie to you?

>>3788576
>>3788585
>>3788590
>>3788604
>>3788689
>>3788797
>>3789107
>>3789115
>>3789231
Maybe they wouldn't, but you've got other places to be than this improvised prison and other things to do than be told you're unwell and that maybe you'll get better.

Writin'.
>>
No, you had to escape. Break out, somehow, even if it didn’t seem like you could do that easily. That was what was most important now. If you didn’t know what was best for you, who did? That was something known best by yours truly, of course, and sticking around here sitting on your hands wouldn’t be good for anybody at all. You also couldn’t help but be suspicious that some of the people Signy was getting information from about your condition, as she put it, were Loch’s people. The mysterious imperial was never up to anything good, so far as you suspected. Then again, her other sources included trusted allies…didn’t they?

Unimportant. Focus on the task at hand: escape.

How to do it, though…you examined everything again. Your ankles were chained together to not allow you to run away- though if you weren’t pursued directly you could at least hobble, and nothing actually restricted you to this room. Whether it was a difficulty of converting this room to its purpose in holding you or a mercy granted by Signy couldn’t be known. None of your possessions seemed that useful for affecting a breakout, either. Maybe if you took apart your pocket watch and found a long piece to pick the lock with…not that you knew how to do that, but it was at least something to try. However, that watch was actually rather important to you- a gift from…sometime in the academy, you couldn’t recall. You didn’t really want to ruin it.

In any case, you had to find a way to get past the guards, anyways. Anya’s training had made you stronger and better in a fight, sure, but from what Anya told you, you had only graduated to mediocre- hardly enough to take on four at once and win, especially if they were armed and you were not. You were sure you could handle one, at least, if you took them by surprise. Then, if there was another one, it was a toss-up, but at least you had a decent chance, especially if you took one of their batons and evened the odds, since shooting them felt like it wasn’t an option at all- likewise for them with you, you hoped. How to split them up, though…

If there were four, and the guard wasn’t maliciously misinforming you when he suggested you to not try four on one, then that meant, by your reckoning, Signy left with the others- surely Isek would not have tolerated her to go to the Border Zone with only a couple. That meant that these troopers would have to leave and come back for supplies, for requests…the more difficult ones might give you time. Difficult things including black market trading goods like drugs. Drugs that, for all they knew, you had an addiction to.
>>
Your blackflower "dependence", real as that was, had been inconsistent lately, especially with the restoration of a supply of it. If the side effects of not taking it managed to manifest, that would probably be rather alarming, and certainly convince the guards of a need. It might happen anyways what with you having only one chewing wad of it.

The problem. As much as Blackflower was illegal in Netilland, serving your needs for a controlled drug, as well as being rather difficult to get one’s hands on for the scarcity of its source flora, that plan had a serious flaw. Blackflower wasn’t addictive, and you were a male, so its effects were extremely mild rather than overpowering. The drug you were fainting for lack of would have to be something else.

It couldn’t be something too easy to get. Cocaine, maybe? With the south blocked away, you remembered, it was poorly substituted with Wakeleaf. A cocaine addiction was probably quite an expensive habit. Was it one with withdrawal bad enough for the theatrics you intended? Maybe not. Morphine, perhaps? Simple enough, something that even was unintentionally addicted to by those careless with its analgesic properties. Hourglass would be a bad joke. Pervitin might be a decent choice?

Though maybe you were thinking along the wrong lines. You could ask for something else entirely- something just as outlandish, hard to get, and that would be an understandable request. A short, pale, taut-heinied one-eyed Von Blum. Absurd, yes, but…it was an idea, and you were short of them at the moment.

Some hobby tools might prove useful, were they unwittingly delivered. Asking for a file or carving knife wouldn’t even work on the densest of idiots, but a collection of things might be able to fill some role in improvised attempts to set yourself loose. Pens for a point, cards for their thin yet stiff constitution…the ideas process was still young. Then again, you’d not been in here for long. Maybe you had time to wait some, and listen for any patterns…

>Request a drug to feign an addiction to. If you fake it after passing out, or perhaps slightly before, or act well enough, you could get them to leave in a hurry, at least. (What drug?)
>Ask for them to see if they could get you your fiancée. Whether they could or not was hardly relevant. It would reduce their numbers. If they could…well.
>Request some other sort of item. (What item/s?)
>Sit and wait, listen for openings. You didn’t have enough information to try and bust yourself out. Hell, maybe, your comrades or the IO would find you should your absence be extended enough to provoke a search.
>Other?
>>
>>3791238
>>Sit and wait, listen for openings. You didn’t have enough information to try and bust yourself out. Hell, maybe, your comrades or the IO would find you should your absence be extended enough to provoke a search.
>>
>>3791238
>Request a drug to feign an addiction to. If you fake it after passing out, or perhaps slightly before, or act well enough, you could get them to leave in a hurry, at least. (What drug?)
>Pervitin
Bruh, whats a little meth addiction for a bit of superhuman strength
>>
>>3791238
>>Sit and wait, listen for openings. You didn’t have enough information to try and bust yourself out. Hell, maybe, your comrades or the IO would find you should your absence be extended enough to provoke a search.
>>
>>3791238
how are the leg irons locked? If their toothed like modern day handcuffs we could try to feed our shoelace through it, depress the teeth and unlock it that way. If their locked like a bike lock, we could get something small to attempt to depress the lock and pop it out.

If the chains arnt super heavy duty we could break one of the stool/table legs off and use it as leverage and torsion the chains to snap.

We also have our lighter, we could set fire to the room and force them to open up that way. Ask for cigarettes and pretend to pass out with it lit causing a fire and when they drag us out attack them.

If we arnt averse to significantly wounding our captors, we can ask for some hard alcohol, tear or cut up our shirt or bedsheets with the glass shard, and make a moltov cocktail and just chucking it at the guy who opens the door before going full prison house riot with wooden shivs from the broken stool, using the glass and pencil as makeshift brass knuckles wrapped to our hand.

Just throwing ideas out there.
>>
>>3791238
>Ask for them to see if they could get you your fiancée. Whether they could or not was hardly relevant. It would reduce their numbers. If they could…well.
Not a good idea because we don't plan on actually staying here, but someone has to do it.
>>
>>3791238
>Sit and wait, listen for openings. You didn’t have enough information to try and bust yourself out. Hell, maybe, your comrades or the IO would find you should your absence be extended enough to provoke a search.
>>
>>3791238
>Sit and wait, listen for openings. You didn’t have enough information to try and bust yourself out. Hell, maybe, your comrades or the IO would find you should your absence be extended enough to provoke a search.

At most wait and listen for a day AT MOST, while carefully and sneakily trying this anons >>3791367
suggestions for the locks and chains, they are excellent suggestions.

I don't think they will go grab Maddy if we ask for her.
>Request some other sort of item. (What item/s?)
Asking for nice alcohol, cards and smokes is sensible enough to give us some tools. After sufficient time to feign real boredom, we could even ask if some of the guards want to play some games and drink with us to pass the time.
Get them drunk and relaxed and then see where we are at.

But first understand our surroundings better.
>>
Just hashing out a plan here

Sit and wait, maybe ask for a pen to write Maddy a letter. They can even read it if they want, (tell them we right to her every few days) and ask someone to drop it off at a post office. Just to get them in the idea we are going to be here awhile.
Then maybe Day 2 we ask for the smokes , cards and alcohol to mix things up.
Hopefully by then we've figured out how our captors operate, (maybe they always get the same guard to buy food and smokes, or maybe two of them really don't like each other etc.)

If Operation Play Poker Badly is a go, we invite three of them, play and drink for awhile then ask one for some Wakeleaf or something and 'accidentally' start a fire while they are distracted.
Hopefully in between the confusion and smoke we either escape or draw attention to where we are.
>>
I propose we treat our locks as if they were a girl's heart. In a few days of prolonged contact, despite not knowing how they work, Richter's natural incompetence will have broken them irreparably.
>>
>>3791238
Going with these >>3791367 >>3791515
>>3791542. Tap on to the floor and walls, stick our head down the toilet and listen for traffic, etc. while we've got nothing else to do to try and get a feel for the construction of the place, whether the walls are solid or stud framework, any potential hollow spots we might be better off burning/hiding inside/breaking/whatever
>>3792218
epic
>>
We seriously do have some problems when it comes to women. I'm taking bets on which one is going to snap next and kidnap Richter.

30 Strossmarks on The Major
>>
>>3791367
>>3792283
Did I miss when Richter became MacGyver?
>>
>>3792312
We failed the whole James Bond thing long before we became an IO spook, so I guess this is the next best thing.
>>
>>3791238
Nice off-topic question for ya, tanq. Was the name Falkenstein inspired by the neo-folk project by any chance? Strydwolf and Falkenstein have always been my 2 go-to bands for PCQ reading ambience, so it just seemed a bit of a coincidence when it popped up a few months ago
>>
Up and about.

>>3791242
>>3791350
>>3791511
>>3791515
>>3792283
Sit and wait. Can't exactly bust out the wall in style immediately, can you.

>>3791261
I need my fix.

>>3791408
I need my fix of runt.

>>3791542
>>3792283
>>3791367
Also investigations of possibilities.
Mind you, Richter doesn't actually know much about locks at all(Your delinquency stat is too low!), so he doesn't actually know the difference between them internally or how to manipulate them beyond the equivalent of flailing around hoping it works.

>>3792390
I didn't know about that, no. It's just my usual naming scheme of smashing words together and sometimes getting names without caring to look up what they mean like a hack, though I try to do less of the latter in preference to making up appropriate sounding gobbledygook.
>>
…Well, there were a few things you could think of trying, but you needed to ask for them. For now they were only possibilities, though. You knew too little about where you were to try and plan a proper escape, as was certainly part of the intention of stuffing you in a sack instead of letting you sit in a more comfortable part of the vehicle that took you here. The leg hobble was a problem you didn’t have an easy answer to, either. The locks themselves were ones that were much like normal ones, with a keyhole, but their holes were on the bottom, and a pain for you to really see and get at. The chains were not as sturdy as they could have been, but these being leg irons, were certainly too tough for you to hope to break. Maybe if you could get some leverage with broken furniture to try and wrench them off the cuff portions over time with enough abuse…but the guards would surely hear you trying to beat up the seats and tables (all of which were bolted to the floor), even if you could move your feet far enough apart to get a solid kick in.

Speaking of, were the walls and doors thick enough to block out much sound? You’d heard a train earlier, but trains were quite loud. You pressed your ear against the door…yes, you could hear through it, though it was a strongly built door. The guards were speaking with each other about their salary. Evidently, new coinage had not been implemented yet, and Mittelsosalia continued to use Union Marks, the currency of East Valsten and its allied states, just as Sosaldt in general did. Of some controversy was a potential decision to adopt a new currency, and how the old would exchange to it.

Not particularly a conversation you were interested in- your question of whether you could hear outside, and thusly if they could hear in here, was answered well enough. How about the walls opposite? Whether they were solid, or a sort you could tear a hole in with enough effort, with its most durable portion being the frame. Also, if beyond the wall was the outside…or underground. You didn’t recall being carried down anything that felt like stairs, but you’d seen buildings in Perlowieza that had been built into the side of a steep hill edge or the like, where part of the building was immersed at “ground” level.

…The guards were laughing over something and spoiling your hearing. You clapped a hand over one ear and pressed the other to the wall. Nothing. The next wall- nothing. The third wall, to the right of the entry door and opposite the latrine…ah. A slight rumble to the ground, a soft rumbling. Maybe a truck. You knocked on the wall- lath and plaster, it felt like. Not thick lumber or stone. With some effort, you could at least possibly make a hole in it; though smashing through it outright was probably beyond you, not without being interrupted, even if you had suitable tools.
>>
So, that was where you were. For what to do…you went back to the door and knocked on it. “Excuse me, gentlemen,” you said loudly, “Can I ask for something?”

Some mumbling. “Sure.” A voice eventually called back from right on the other side of the door, “Ask away.”

“I write letters to my fiancée every few days,” you said, “Could you send them for me? From a post office or if they could be conveyed otherwise? You can read them, if you are suspicious that I might be sending anything like a request to be rescued. I just need proper paper and a writing utensil. A pen and ink, preferably.”

"Fiancée?” the guard sounded like you’d revealed that you were the Kaiser’s secret sister, “But…well, whatever. Hey.” The guard called back, to the others, presumably. “He wants a pen and paper.”

“Pen’s got a sharp metal edge. He can have crayons.”

“If it’s all the same,” you said through the door, “I’d rather have something besides crayons. A wax pencil? A plain pencil? Graphite stick?”

“Whatever. Hey, keep it down. Don’t want to have to gag you, you might be the Kommandant and Cyclops said to treat you nice, but don’t be a pain in the ass. Hear?”

Fair enough. You went back and took The Moral Conquest from the shelf and rolled onto the bed, peeling it open and reading it from earlier in the book than you left off- back in the author’s foreword, said writer being one of Alexander Von Zeissenburg’s generals, General Gregor Von Rechesbach.
>>
In the days to come, there will be critics of our glorious achievements, as there always are when years have passed, during which the events that were once of the present can be endlessly analyzed and speculated over. Would-be generals and kings will sit in the comfort of their homes and attempt to plan our policies and campaigns better than we ever could, yet we would be remiss to admit that we did not do the same before, and now.

I would challenge these thinkers of the future to think of how we would have gone about what we did better, or to debate the justice of our cause. All one must do is look back upon the chaos that embraced the territories of the east, beyond the mountains of Du Noires (So called the Imperial Walls in these times), where endless conflict is not a nightmarish possibility, but the day to day life of the peoples. Did Von Blum not find itself our subject because they were at disadvantage to their neighbors? Was Valsten not attempting to lay claim to their north in spite of the bounty claimed to the south across the seas? Did King Wladysaw not ally himself with our Reich, rather than pointlessly contest us?

All of those whom we defeated and put under our rule, are not the worse off for it. They all speak different languages, have different cultures and philosophers, and all of these direct them to make war upon each other for such. What other choice then, in the face of cultures unwilling to compromise, than to be uncompromising ourselves? As our battles to conquer Sosalia may have been brutal in the time they were fought, so too does another kind of battle appear brutal, but the generations that follow will undoubtedly thank us, as we built them a better society to match our architectural and infrastructural works. For this is the true Grossreich, the true New Order of the World. Even should Zeissenburg be razed, the crown of the Reich taken from the heads of its kings, the Reich will live on in the change we have wrought.

As in antiquity beyond mankind did the Judge of All Things divorce himself from the savage Earth and craft mankind to tame it, so hath the Reich been made to cow the wildness of man that has festered.


Divine providence notwithstanding, it was true that the Grossreich was able to reach its heights because of the disunity of the continent. Ironically, they did unite them further- against the Reich.
>>
A bit more reading on the most interesting part of the book, that where General Von Rechesbach described the campaigns, particularly those after the formation of the Zeissenburg Pact, the state just before the Grossreich, where the city state of Zeissenburg and its allies formed around then merely Grand Prince Alexander Von Zeissenburg, and the young nation went north to exploit a crisis of revolution amongst the Emrean states, after the union between them and Vitelia went sour coinciding with a plague in the west. The politics of it all were rather complex, but the justifications mattered less to a reader like you than the going about of the battles.

The door opened while you were getting into the meat of the Northern Campaigns, and a guard walked in and places a few sheets of paper and a small box of crayons on the table.

“…Thanks.” You said flatly. Even though you didn’t want crayons. The guard nodded and walked back out.

“Lunch’ll be in a bit. You don’t have a problem with stew, do you? We don’t have all the money in the world.”

“I’m flattered that I have a choice.” You said into your book with a grumpy growl.

“Alright, fine. You’ll have it soon.” The guard closed the door behind him.

You gave a look to what you’d been granted. This would be all, for today. Appear accommodating- like you were merely adapting schedule to an extended vacation. Ask for things more relevant to getting out later. So long as it was before Signy would be coming back…with whoever she had needed to do whatever she was planning.

Time to write a letter, you supposed, leaving the book open on the table. A bookmark should have been one of your requests, even though Signy had dog-eared the devils out of her book.

>Write something boring. Plain. It wasn’t like Maddalyn would see this, probably, anyways.
>This letter would be arriving after Maddalyn’s birthday presents came. Maybe that gave you some pass to spend an entire letter flirting. It would make the guards not want to pore over it overly, too.
>You didn’t say who your fiancée was, or where they were, and the guard seemed to not know you had one at all. Maybe you could address it to somebody else…(Decide tone of writing too)
>Other? (Including further planning)
>>
>>3793004
>You didn’t say who your fiancée was, or where they were, and the guard seemed to not know you had one at all. Maybe you could address it to somebody else…(Decide tone of writing too)

"To my Dearest Anya."

Tone should be light hearted and apologetic about our Army duties keeping us away and unexpected delays. Include lots of groan worthy pet names such as Fluffy.

Address it to the poncy Emrean dressmaker Anya went to or if we don't know who that is then to the Mayor Hamtaro, to be delivered to Anya in person if possible.
>>
>>3793077
Supporting
>>
>>3793004
This is silly enough to work >>3793077

After we get out of here we should start writing all of our letters to Maddy with crayons and see how difficult it makes them for her to read
>>
>>3793077
Sure.
>>
>>3793077
>>3793089
>>3793113
>>3793390
Let me write a letter to my fiancee, Anya.
...Wait.
Writing.
>>
RPG campaign session over. Update soon.
>>
Well, these guards probably didn’t actually know who your fiancée was, let alone that you had one at all, so really, you could address this to anybody and convey it along lines that would reach said person. You had a good idea of who to bother, too.

My Dearest Anya,

Ellowie was a haunted land but somehow writing those words made it feel like the attention of something cursed had been drawn. Words weren’t coming to you easily- your chance here might slip from your grasp if you didn’t sound convincing. Maybe if you wrote as though it really was for Maddalyn? Well, not like the first one. Not unless you wanted to be killed.

As much as it may be a relief that I have my hands off of you, I know that you feel as I do that your company is a memory all too distant. My duties for the Archduchy may keep me away, and there have been unexpected delays that keep me further, but trust that I will come back for my sweet little creampuff. My adorable little kitten need not worry about my health, as my comrades keep me safe and my enemies are mercifully few. My tasks are many, but the fighting is sparse.

No mercy, however, will be expected when I come back for my fluffyhead. None would be granted to you, after all. As difficult as it must be, have patience, my delicious candy bacon, as it requires the stern bearing of the Judge himself to not run back and eat you up before you get cold.


That last line made you realize too late that you were running out of ideas. After signing that abomination, in as dignified a manner one could make it in crayon, you folded it over and wondered if you should make a second draft. No, this one would do. Hopefully Anya wouldn’t show the damn thing to anybody. Bacon. This thing had to be sent before you were forced to burn it.

General Von Rechesbach was your companion as you lay in bed and read his work far from the door. At least that letter would be on its way- you informed the guards that post out of the country was in an awkward state of affairs, and to ensure your letter got to its recipient, you told them to pass it along to the mayor of New Jorgenstohn, Lambart Gespie, who could use his contacts to ensure its unmolested passage. Little would they know that it wouldn’t have far to go.

All there was to do now was wait. You’d been told that your crew were told you were simply goofing off with Signy, but if a letter like this came to Anya…well, if she didn’t suspect something was off, she’d come and find you to beat you anyways out of principle. Hopefully.

-----
>>
Oh. You forgot to take your blackflower…though you had only a single dose anyways. Nodding off while lying about in bed was understandable, but waking up someplace other than where you’d been lying was certainly not so. Unless you had been unwittingly lying down in swirling streams of multicolored mist.

Except you weren’t lying down. You were floating, drifting. Where was the ground? Where was the shack? There was nothing here…nothing but light and darkness filtered through pale mist twisting about, as your body refused to fall. From afar, you heard a ragged voice of a multitude, calling, ”COME BACK. COME BACK.”

You floated, floated, until you suddenly fell away again.
-----

When you woke up, you didn’t check your watch at first, still rather disturbed by the events in your dreams. The watch was finally opened and checked at near a quarter past six, in the evening, or in the morning? Not like you could go outside and check. You knocked at the cell door.

“Morning, Kommandant.” A voice replied. “You slept early, got that letter to what’s his face. He said he knew where to put it. Not gonna ask why you’re callin’ a broad bacon.”
That answered that question. That meant it was the 29th of December. A day before Maddalyn’s birthday, two days before the year ended. What a long year this had been, despite how quickly it had closed. Straight from the academy to the Blumlands in turmoil, then to the front, then beyond it, then to Sosaldt and back, then here. It almost made you wonder when you could go on leave…then again, one could almost say most of the time you spent was like such. It was probably better that way, for your health, at least.

You sat next to the door, maybe hoping to overhear anything interesting from the guards as they chattered over what may have been them preparing breakfast.

“Dumb kid,” one of them called out as he stomped into the room.

“What is it, Hob?”

“Stupid kid poking around the place, tried to just walk in. Shoved him back out. Told him to scram or I’m callin’ the cops. They put stray kids in those big walled off places, you know the UGZs. I don’t wanna put somebody in one of those unless it’s necessary.”

“Why not let them in?”

“Orders, stupid head. Nobody comes in. ‘sides, not like they asked to come in or nothin’. Think they’re still pacing around outside like they’re waitin’ for us to leave or somethin’. Dumb thief.”
Odd. It was too random a happening to plan around, though. Coincidences could be useful but weren’t something to plan around.
>>
Speaking of plans, the beginnings of…something, could be taken today. What little you had to go on. A little trust, you hoped, had been built up with the guards. Maybe you could ask for a few more things. They hadn’t taken away anything, either. One idea you’d had was to use your lighter to start a fire- maybe ask for cigarettes or a pipe and tobacco to make it seem accidental, should you be caught early. Anything but a big fire would be put out instead of having to drag you out in the open where you might be able to run off, though. Maybe if you decided to be friends with them and had a little miniature party with alcohol and cards and such? They’d have to be awfully stupid to not drink in moderation, though. Maybe if you only wanted to dull their wits a little…or hell, just pass time. Perhaps you could ask for something high proof enough to set on fire, and “drink” it by yourself. Get some good fuel that way.

Hell, maybe it was best to not potentially hurt yourself and wait. You got your message out to Anya, after all. That meant your people had to know something suspicious was going on. Would they find you? Who knew, but it was a whole lot better of a scenario than them not looking.

In your pondering, you thought to listen to the toilet. It spoke of no secrets and you regretting sticking your head in it. You didn’t really know what you expected, really. Pipes leaking sounds from a lower or upper floor? You certainly didn’t hear anything of interest. Nobody would ever hear of this in any case.

>Ask for some cigarettes and strong stuff. It was time to try and set an accidental fire, if that could work. Though you’d only have one shot at it.
>Propose to have a little party. Who could turn down some harmless fun? Maybe it would provoke an opportunity?
>Sit and wait. You’d done your part. If the best plan of somebody coming to your rescue didn’t work…you’d be best thinking on the spot anyways.
>Doing anything today would be too drastic. Wait- maybe ask for something else.
>Other?
>>
>>3795011
>>Sit and wait. You’d done your part. If the best plan of somebody coming to your rescue didn’t work…you’d be best thinking on the spot anyways.
>>
>>3795011
>>Doing anything today would be too drastic. Wait- maybe ask for something else.
Get some more blackflower
>>
>>3795011
>>Sit and wait. You’d done your part. If the best plan of somebody coming to your rescue didn’t work…you’d be best thinking on the spot anyways.
Could be that kid was one of the Ashes? Assuming the Mayor knew where to divert it to it shouldn't take that long for the message to get to camp.
>>
>>3795011
>my delicious candy bacon
We're gonna get our ass beat, Richter just haaaad to bite her all those times.

>Doing anything today would be too drastic. Wait- maybe ask for something else.
It's enough to ask for smokes and liquor today. Especially if they can't grab more Blackflower.

Going straight to a party would be too suspicious. But maybe Richter can get a little blasted, not much else to do.

Act irritable that the reading selection is so poor and that boredom is setting in. I mean it probably is already but we need to prime the guards for a soirée the next night.
>>
>>3795011
>Sit and wait. You’d done your part. If the best plan of somebody coming to your rescue didn’t work…you’d be best thinking on the spot anyways
>>
>>3795029
>>3795037
>>3795397
Time to do the most exciting of pastimes.
>>3795031
>>3795045
Though a couple things would be appreciated.
Writing.
>>
What more could you do in the short term but wait? Even if it wasn’t heartening that such was what you’d be doing even if you really were going along with whatever this was. Moving too fast could be too risky…though proper pacing would be a tricky balance considering that whoever Signy had coming for you would either be arriving tomorrow or very shortly in the day after. Your feelers had been set out- and from the sound of it, there was a possibility that the search was already on for you. Perlowieza didn’t have much in the way of vagrant children from what you noticed, so there was little doubt that they were a fresh arrival. One of the Ashes, perhaps? Could you somehow let them know you were there?

Not you specifically, no. Probably not. Too risky. If you could make a small hole in the wall perhaps? You made an experimental gouge with the piece of porcelain mug you had nicked off the floor the other day…no, no good progress there. Something longer would be more ideal to dig through the plaster, let alone poke through the planks, thin as they were. If the Ashes were clever enough they would at least figure out that places they were kept out of by out of place gentlemen would be suspicious enough. Then again, were the Mittelsosalians still in uniform? The one that was attending you was, at least.

What could you ask for…that dream last night wasn’t terrible, but it was unpleasant. A motivation to ask for more blackflower, though ironically something you actually wanted was the most difficult to justify actually getting. You’d have to try anyways. Actually carrying out any of your various plans today would be too much, but you could set things up for later. Make it seem like a gradual development rather than like you were up to something.

“Hey,” you knocked on the outside of the door, “When’s breakfast?”

“Soon. Hey, Leif, hurry up with that, water don’t need to boil that long for friggin’ oatmeal porridge.”

Most officers of Strossvald would turn their noses up at such an offering but Netilland hadn’t treated you with particular luxury, not that you were so soft anyways. You’d have to complain about something, though. “There is so little to do in here,” you complained. Being actually bored would have been an accomplishment- you hadn’t read everything in here, and Signy hadn’t done too badly in trying to feed an appetite like yours, but satisfaction wouldn’t do for your plans. “Can I get some different reading material? Cigarettes and liquor wouldn’t be bad either. Believe it or not, being cooped up in any place besides a tank with nothing to do isn’t very relaxing.”
>>
“Can’t you just whack off?” a different guard had decided to become part of the conversation through the door. “Choke the chicken? Beat the bratwurst?”

“That makes you go blind, you know.” The other guard said.

“You’re talkin’ shite. If it made you blind I wouldn’t even have eyes in my sockets right now.”

“Thank you for the suggestion,” you said with enough dry sarcasm to soak a lake, “But I’d like those other things, if you don’t mind.”

“Isn’t thinking of Anya or whatever enough? C’mon, give it to her real hard in your head.”

Judge above. Was this what the most terrible regret felt like? This illness that sank deep into your bones and sloughed the flesh from them? “Thank you, no,” you didn’t need to pretend to be annoyed now, “Reading material. The news would be fine, any histories you can find…oh, and blackflower. If you could find some of that.”
“The hell do you need blackflower for?” was the immediate response.

A good question that you couldn’t honestly answer. “It’s…nice?” It was, but that really wasn’t what most people procured it for, besides mountainfolk. “I’ve heard it’s supposed to drive away ghosts, and I think this place is haunted.”

“Ghosts aren’t real, Kommandant.” The usual guard shut you down, “Not real enough for it blackflower to not be too much of a pain in the ass to get here. Even in Sosaldt it wasn’t cheap. No can do. Cigs and booze’ll have to do to keep the ghosts away.”

Eh. Two for three wasn’t bad. “Thank you anyways. Make sure it’s something high proof enough to peel paint from the walls.”

“Ain’t nothin’.”

Shortly afterwards, as you lounged about on the bed in your room and tried to give the impression of being unoccupied, considering a meal was on its way, breakfast came in. It was a bowl of plain porridge and milk, and a tin of hot…coffee. A test of it told you what you already knew, and more- it was utterly foul. If you drank much more coffee you might even develop a taste for the spectrum of awfulness. You didn’t even know why you drank it…then again, you had stuck your head in a toilet earlier. Maybe you really were an idiot.

The door opened once more after a few hours, and you were nearly caught reading through more of The Moral Conquest. You took the chance to peek through the door at the other men- against expectations, they were all in Mittelsosalian chocolate brown uniform with floppy hats- the better to avoid trouble and exploit their position- and the easier for Anya’s ashes to find. The Imperial’s work was put down after the guard left, as you inspected what was brought to you- the reading material, first.
>>
The day’s newspaper, of course, was laid on top. Beneath it was…A History of Imperial Art. Not particularly your interest, to say the least, but an admitted failure to be specific might have brought an opportunity to give it a brief glance. Sandwiched between the newspaper and that though was…a softcover book, simply titled ”The Kommandant’s Woman”, with an illustration of a man embracing a woman whose dress was falling off her. Who was wearing an eyepatch.

It was hard to not think fate was toying with you when seeing what must have been an erotic novel, though at the very least nobody’s name was the same from the back description, and the appearances were certainly incorrect on the front cover. Merely a tasteless “inspired by dramatic, sensual, and true events” fictional work. Maybe the Mittelsosalians thought you’d find it funny.

…Well, maybe it was. It would have been funnier if you weren’t being locked up by them.

The newspaper called, obviously, though it was definitely a local paper. The headlines dripped with news of fulfilled fortunes and more to come, and the other stories concerned the developing threat from Twaryi. The UGZs were understood to be in a “troublesome state,” but as ever, it was promised that such arrangements were temporary, and that the good King ever thought for his subjects. Whether or not he did, you knew, he was likely not in much a place to do a whole lot about the UGZs.

A back-page story was actually of greatest interest- a story following up one from yesterday, it said. It described a terrifying raid by a Twaryian armored unit in the neighboring sector, where it was claimed by witnesses that they swept in and sacked a colonial town, though Twaryian officials denied that this occurred, and instead blamed insurgents. Nevertheless, a bounty had been placed on the head of the suspected leader of the operation by the High Protector’s government. One that was significantly higher, by your estimate, than the one on yours by the Twaryians…unexpectedly annoying. There wasn’t a picture of the suspect, but their name was apparently Andrej Gerovic; rank unknown.

To the other things you got, then. A nice looking box of cigarettes; not that you smoked, though the brand was Ellowian so you wouldn’t have known it anyways. There was also a familiar bottle of wodka. 90 proof; it would burn, at least. So was the state of your materiel for the current battle, such as it was. Enough to make a move? Perhaps. Enough to make you want to take that move…hm. In any case, if you put it off, you were stuck here for another day at least.

>It’s time. Make your move to try and escape. (What is your plan?)
>Not yet. Just a little later. Go with the plan to intoxicate your guards- propose a little fun, and see how it goes.
>You had to wait, still, longer, maybe until the last minute. Even if it would be dull. (What to do in the meantime?)
>Other?
>>
>>3795969
>>You had to wait, still, longer, maybe until the last minute. Even if it would be dull.
Security seems pretty tight and if we try and fail without a proper plan I'm afraid they would just lock us down even more. In the worst case scenario I think we should save the vodka for the last minute when we think Signy is about to arrive with her expert -whatever weird reverse brainwashing psychotherapy they plan to use I'll bet it wont work on us if we're completely shitfaced. That could at least buy us another half a day or so for Anya to find us.
>>
>>3795969
>You had to wait, still, longer, maybe until the last minute. Even if it would be dull. (What to do in the meantime?)
Continue reading. If they think we're docile they'll loosen their guard.
>>
>hey let's escape
>>how
>uh
>by doing nothing
Sasuga, Panzer Commander Players.
>>
>>3795969
>>Not yet. Just a little later. Go with the plan to intoxicate your guards- propose a little fun, and see how it goes.
>>
>>3795969
>>Not yet. Just a little later. Go with the plan to intoxicate your guards- propose a little fun, and see how it goes.

Wait for nightfall, I bet they get pretty bored too. Hopefully they say yes and during the game we ask one of them for something a little stronger, start a fire and force them to rush us out of there.

If that doesn't work then we can sullenly "drink" ourselves into a stupor, pass out and start a fire. It would be better to do it during the day for people to see the smoke but we're more likely to get caught. At night they might get sloppy and not check in on us.
>>
>>3795969
I'll go with this >>3796150

>>3796125
I don't see you making any better suggestions
>>
>>3796156
I'm not retarded, I don't want to escape.
>>
>>3796160
Okay, retard
>>
>>3796162
>2 posts by this ID
>not even an original vote
Seething Anyafags driving the quest into the ground with vote stuffing.
>>
>>3796180
My previous ID was nn2SNlFT, but whatever, keep screeching.
>>
>>3796186
>he even admitted to samefagging
Here's a vote you don't have to count.
>>
>>3796192
Here we go again. Everyone but me voted wrong so they're waifufagging and samefagging. Is it incomprehensible to you that the same people might post from different locations, or reset their routers with some regularity or are you just that new? This your last (You) btw, quit shitting up the thread.
>>
>>3796203
Wow bro, you don't have to get so mad for being called out. Just own up to it and it can just go away.
>>
>>3796192
Serious question: do you not know how IPs work? Or do you not know what samefagging means?
>>
>>3796361
>another low post id
Hmmmmmm

Oh wait this one is me.
>>
Alright I'm finally around.

>>3795987
>>3796091
Wait for fluffy.

>>3796128
>>3796150
>>3796156
Wait until nightfall and throw a little party.

Alright then. Writing.
>>
…Not quite yet. Just a little later, then your plans would have the best chance of working to their maximum potential. Your best idea was to start a fire and force your captors to remove you from the building, and take your best chances outdoors where there would be bystanders, perhaps even law enforcement. The best chance of that, you wagered (a safe one by your measure), was to get your guards as tired and unaware as you could, and set a nice fire in your room so that you had to be taken out of it. Not in a manner they wouldn’t notice quickly obviously- no part of your plan involved committing potential suicide by arson. The best chance of getting away with setting fire to your room was to wait until night, when the guards would be getting tired, or most of them, at least, exempting whoever was on night watch, and then adding alcohol to the equation, which you’d recently had procured.

Until then, you’d be unoccupied. You had a plan for if the guards didn’t want to have a few drinks, too, but you’d be waiting until night regardless. Time to read about Imperial Art, just because it was there. You were tempted to pitch The Kommandant’s Woman into the wicker dustbin (also nailed down…for some reason), but something stayed your hand. It was an innocent little question that couldn’t help but crawl up.

What could have been?

The timing of it could only have been referring to your engagement. It wasn’t long after you’d even met Maddalyn that she practically asked you to help her indirectly kill herself- what if you had, you wondered, those months ago, and destroyed the Demiphantom rather than imprison it? If you hadn’t rescued Maddalyn, Signy would have kept all of her terrible wounds. If you hadn’t taken Maddalyn with you to Salzbrucke, she wouldn’t have been kidnapped, and if she hadn’t been kidnapped, you wouldn’t have gone to Sosaldt. If you hadn’t refused Signy, would she have gone to Sosaldt, or followed you as you offered? Would you even be here? Maddalyn had asked once what sort of woman you’d choose in her absence, but the circumstances of your maintaining of your coming union had far more effect on your life than one would think.

So you didn’t chuck that book away, but instead put it back on the table. Just a possibility. Nothing to be offended about. You didn’t want to make the guards feel too bad about trying to give you a chuckle anyways. Is there anything you regret? Best to leave that lie for now. You had to get out of this situation that you already weren’t entirely certain whether you’d regret or not, but you felt compelled to escape, beyond your own doubts behind your incarceration.

Regardless. You cracked open that art book and educated yourself. Maybe it would make The Moral Conquest last longer by going through it.

-----
>>
The art book was educational, but you checked your watch constantly while turning its pages. It wasn’t that it was poorly written- just that it had been written in a manner that definitely flattered the Grossreich, and it was somewhat tiresome to read from the perspective of one who had been brought up to be ever suspicious of the west. Not in the manner even Imperial authors put themselves, but that this book seemed to be authored by one who was obsessed. You were glad to return to a book that at least had commentary from a different perspective, as this version of The Moral Conquest did.

Six in the evening. About time for supper. Time for you to make your proposal.

“You haven’t even touched the wodka, Kommandant,” the guard that came in to give you a bowl of spätzle and chicken stew, with a wooden spoon.

“I considered it,” you said, “but drinking alone is depressing.”

“Huh. Guess it is.”

“Maybe we could share it with the others?” you suggested lightly, “Unless you want me to take on that bottle myself. Might not be healthy.”

The guard thought about it, leaving the door hanging open.

“Hey, you gonna come and eat, or stare lovingly into the Kommandant’s eyes?” one of the others shouted from the other room.

“I’ll bring it up,” the one in the room said before leaving and shutting the door. The gears were set in motion- if this didn’t work out, oh well. You’d have to move on to plan B, which involved “drinking” yourself into a stupor and causing a fire through alcohol induced stupidity. Your night with Anya had proved well enough you were capable of such, you thought with a look at the deep slash on your palm.

It was at seven thirty, long after you’d eaten your dinner and were considering cracking open the bottle, when the door opened again and three guards came in. Not four as you were hoping, but…it was something.

“We’ll take you up on that sharing you were talkin’ about.”

-----
>>
“Don’t mind if I get your autograph, do you, Kommandant?” one of the guards thrust a pocketbook at you, after everybody was a couple cups in.

“As long as you don’t mind that it’s in crayon,” you burped. These people were awfully friendly for Sosaldtian rogues. Either the Republic had tamed them a bit or you actually had some admirers.

“Tha’s fine,” the guard said as you took his book and found a black crayon whose tip had a point for at least some finesse.

“I never thought I’d be signing autographs,” you said as you scrawled out a signature that really could have looked better with more practice. “…Well, at least, yet.”

One of the floppy capped troopers pointed to the smut book on the table as he took a swallow of wodka. “Bet you didn’t think you’d be in that either, huh? Hah!”

“Well.” You seethed internally a little. “No.”

“Nothin’ to be upset about. The broad who wrote that made you a real stallion in the story, if y’know what I mean. Then again…” the trooper gestured to the woman on the cover, “Cyclops don’t got cans that big either.”

“They’ve gotta look different.” The third trooper spoke up, “Same reason they go by titles and not names in that. Legal issues.” Mittelsosalia must have changed or there were things you didn’t know about if there were actually legal issues concerning use of likenesses there.

“More like titillation issues.”

“The hell’s a titillation issue?”

“These.” The initial guard pointed to the illustrated woman’s bosom. “It’s a pretty good seller back in Mittelsosalia, Kommandant. Much as somethin’ that’s home printed is. Oughta be proud.”

You were trying to feel particularly not proud at the moment, and then Something was grinding from outside. Something like a tank, almost, but…what would that be doing out here?…the ground shook, and through the walls there was the rumble of a bunch of things falling. What was that?

“The hell was that?” one of the troopers asked, “Hey! Leif! Go check that out, will you?”

“Aye aye.” Leif stepped off quickly, and with the situation now being not their problem the troopers returned to you.

“Anyways. How good are you with cards, Kommandant?”

“I’m more familiar with dice, myself,” you said.

“Then we’ll have an advantage, heh. How about some friendly gambling?”

“I’m afraid I’ve not much to bet.” You pulled your wallet out of your trousers, “I spent a fair bit of my money on the way here.”

“That’s no problem, we’ll- Is that noise getting louder?”

It was getting louder. That sound of engines, tread, and-

KROH-KRRSSSSHHGH
>>
Suddenly, with a devastating crash, the back wall collapsed, blowing out in a cloud of dust. You barely scrambled away from a steel prow bashing through, and stopping just before the vehicle could harm any of you. It backed out, leaving you and your guards stunned, coughing from the dust and the rush of cold air inside, before a pair of hollow clanking sounds alerted you to what was coming next. With a distinctive fwwwsshh, a pair of tear gas grenades blew their payload all over the place, and your coughing renewed, this time combined with a stinging, blinding pain in your eyes.

Somebody grabbed you and yanked you forth; hopefully somebody friendly, as you failed to be able to keep pace because of your leg shackles, and were soon being dragged.

“Fucking retard.” Came a familiar, nasal, snappy voice, muffled at first through a mask before it sounded as though it was taken off and became properly recognizable. “Scared the shit out of everybody, you know?” A powerful blow to your stomach, and you felt the wind knocked out of you. “Don’t ever call me creampuff again, shit for brains.” Creampuff? That was what she took offense to? Your clever retort was unable to be uttered as you were dragged up and clung to the side of a vehicle. “Let’s get outta here!”

You continued to cough and splutter, clinging blindly to the turret of the tank as it whipped you around, whoever was driving doing their utmost to make your continued ride as precarious as possible. A good few minutes later, the effects of the tear gas were beginning to wear off, and you were…somewhere else.

“Aw, get over it, you big baby. It’s only a little gas.” Anya mocked you as you continued to rub your eyes. The first thing you noticed when you blearily opened them fully again was…

“Your jacket’s closed?” you said with surprise, expecting Anya’s midriff to be visible as she sat atop the tank.

“What? Yeah. It snowed, so it’s cold, stupid. Can’t you feel it?”

You looked around…so it had. A light covering of snow had turned Ellowie into fields and forests of white just a few days late for Langenachtfest. A change that occurred while you were locked up, you supposed.

>If you weren’t otherwise inclined you could kiss Anya right now. Thank her earnestly.
>Ask if it was really necessary to knock down a wall and gas you. Hell, did she knock down the wrong building first? You suppose you’re thankful that you’re *alive*.
>Pretend like nothing happened. Business as usual, really. Ask creampuff what’s happened while you were out.
>Other?
>>
>Pretend like nothing happened. Business as usual, really. Ask creampuff what’s happened while you were out.
Another exciting adventure in the quest where we can escape jail by sitting in it patiently doing nothing.
>>
>>3796892
>>If you weren’t otherwise inclined you could kiss Anya right now. Thank her earnestly.
>Pretend like nothing happened. Business as usual, really. Ask creampuff what’s happened while you were out.
>>
>>3796903
+1
>>
>>3796892
>Ask if it was really necessary to knock down a wall and gas you. Hell, did she knock down the wrong building first? You suppose you’re thankful that you’re *alive*.
>>
>>3796892
>>Pretend like nothing happened. Business as usual, really. Ask creampuff what’s happened while you were out.
>>
>>3796892
>If you weren’t otherwise inclined you could kiss Anya right now. Thank her earnestly
Timely enough to stop us from dying in a fire.
>Other?
Also please don't kill the guards.
>>
>>3796892
>If you weren’t otherwise inclined you could kiss Creampuff right now. Thank her earnestly.
>>
>>3796892
>Pretend like nothing happened. Business as usual, really. Ask creampuff what’s happened while you were out.
then
>>3797187's Other. Don't kill the guards, they're good enough guys, they only want to drink, gamble and jack off. Would suggest keeping up with the gas, should they follow
>>
Whatever happens
>>3796892
>Call Anya "creampuff" and playfully honk her boob, or lack thereof.
>>
It's something to spend a whole day tired.

>>3796894
>>3797043
>>3797895
Be a coy scamp.

>>3796903
>>3796905
>>3797187
>>3797206
Well, not one to judge, but considering her language her mouth probably needs to be washed out.

>>3796907
Thanks for gassing me.

>>3797944
Touch her breast for the second time.

Also conditional of not killing the guards.

Writing.

>>3796894
Honestly I'm having second thoughts on how it went, but no point in crying over spilled milk on my part.
>>
>>3798435
Not touch. Honk.

Honk honk.

Give 'em a good ~SQUEEZE~
>>
“So then,” you said nonchalantly, still blinking tears from your eyes as you moved to the back of the turret, to try and hang out next to the cupola, “What’s happened while I’ve been on my short vacation? Nothing of particular interest happened to me. Has it been different for my creampuff?”

“Seriously, don’t call me that or I’ll kick the fucking shit out of you. There’s only one person who gets to call me that name.” Anya snarled like an ill-tempered hound, “Besides you screwing off and getting locked in a room? That Cyclops broad looked in UGZ-09. People hauled more farm equipment. That pack of hookers still hasn’t gotten lost. How the hell did you get caught, anyways? And how the hell did you get that stupid letter out?”

“I was outnumbered five to one,” you said in defense of getting captured, “As for the other thing…I just asked them to deliver it and I suppose they did.”

“Figures. You get held prisoner and you get spoiled. You practically got broken out as a favor.”

“Are you complaining about prior conditions?”

“Eat me.” Anya brushed off your reference to her being taken into custody.

“So how did you find me so quickly?”

“It was easy!” Anya said with fresh confidence and energy, “Once your stupid letter came, I took the Ashes over to that city you went to-“

“That’s a long way.”

“Not in a truck it isn’t. Quit interrupting me. Anyways, I just had them poke around until they found places they weren’t allowed in, and one of them said he saw people with the uniforms the Republic wears. They weren’t clear on which place it was, so I knocked down the wrong wall at first, but eh, break a few eggs. They shoulda had their guards in plain clothes.”
“Speaking of the guards, er, if more show up or they chase us, please don’t kill them.”

“Relax.” Anya bristled at you, “Not like I killed anybody back there, did I?”

“You did not. Though we’ll probably be-“

“Still haven’t heard certain words. Words like Thank you, Anya, or You’ve earned at least ten dinners out for this, Anya.”

“If I weren’t otherwise inclined, I could kiss you, Creampuff. I’m quite thankful-urgh!” your thanks was cut off by Anya grabbing your face and shoving you off the back of the tank, as you fell flat on your back into the snow.
>>
“Hold on, people, your retarded commander fell off the tank like a jackass!” you heard Anya shout. Your leg irons were still on, and because of them getting up was harder than you thought, let alone clambering back onto the tank- you recognized it now as the X-52. The damn thing’s hull was colder than the snow. “I’m not in the damn mood,” Anya said as you clung back to the hull again, “Next time you’re being dragged back by those chains around your ankles. Or you get to walk.”

Sheesh. Anya really had sand in her panties over that name for some reason. That’ll teach you to be appreciative, won’t it. At least she had the conscience to let you back on when you were being pursued.

…With her uniform closed, she really did look a lot more boyish.

-----

Even getting back in the camp didn’t convince you that you were safe. The paranoia, you felt, was understandable, though when you explained the situation to your officers (Von Metzeler was actually in attendance- somewhat a surprise) they thought you pent up. Kelwin wasn’t there- he’d evidently been relegated to overseeing the other platoons’ busywork.
“You’re in a camp full of soldiers, Richter,” Krause clapped you on the back, “You said they only had eight guys at most? You’re safe right now. Relax.”

“…Sure.” Though it was more than just that somebody was out for you. It was that it was Signy; could you trust her ever again, knowing that she’d had you abducted? It weighed heavily, now that thoughts of escape and distraction were out of your mind. Signy had called you her friend, and you’d have agreed…had that changed, now?

Beyond that, dry, sterile updates. The men had nearly cleared out Reismuhle’s farms, some of the fields had been damaged by “unknown” vandals- not destroyed, or all of them, presumably because the Ashes were helping Anya by looking for you instead of doing the task assigned to them. Then something you’d read about in the newspaper, but rather more directly relevant.

“Some townspeople who were out and about from New Jorgenstohn reported that they saw a Twaryian armored car,” Von Metzeler said, “They did not know of its origins, but the uniforms and paint colors they said that the crew and vehicle were match. I would say that it is likely that our defenses are being tested for a raid.”

“I read a newspaper article detailing a Twaryian armor officer with a bounty on his head,” you said, “Andrej Gerovic. In the next sector over, he apparently sacked a town?”
>>
“He sounds pretty hot.” Anya said unnecessarily, “Hear he’s got a nasty mug, though.”

“I don’t know what that has to do with anything,” you said with a grumpy hmph. “Wait, you’ve heard of him?”

“A report came in the other day, yeah. While you were out screwing around, before you were locked up. It’s more than the sector, he’s been linked to a few attacks going down the line. Logically, we’re next.”

“Methinks miss Nowicki has her eye on that bounty,” Krause said slyly. “Why move along, though? UGZ-07 is still in a state of uproar, as are other parts of that sector. It seems like easy prey for a man going about raiding.”

“I have a theory,” Von Metzeler said, “Judging from where he has struck, and the breadth of his movements, his unit does not operate in only one area, but is allowed to move to more peaceful places to cause chaos. Our sector can hardly be called calm as of recent, but I would not doubt it may be considered such compared to the surroundings of UGZ-07. One cannot discount, also, the recent bump in prosperity for New Jorgenstohn.”

Anya shrugged. “Well, obviously, he’ll go for that. So we just wait for him to go do that, and if he does, we kill him. What’s the big deal? Even if he pokes around elsewhere we know that’s always going to be what he’s keeping an eye out for an opportunity on. He’s a tank officer, we’re gonna know where he is when he gets moving.”

“And if he makes diversionary attacks?” Von Metzeler asked.

“Then we worry less about hitting people in the way.”

“Rondo sent a request up the line when we first heard the report of the possible scouting party,” Krause said, “We’ll have support from the Blue Knights in keeping patrols up. Sector command must think this is an issue worth throwing more weight into.”

“Sounds like we have to have a meeting with their commander.” You decided, “…He will have to come here, though. What is his name?”

“Captain Magnus Edelschwert.” Von Metzeler said. “A descendant of Ellowian knights, whom fled the country when the monarchy first fell, apparently. He has made a name for himself in conflicts on the border of Sosaldt, in the past year.”

“He sounds like a person of lordly caliber.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Anya made an annoyed leer at you for your comment, “Lordly caliber. What a dork.”

You rolled your eyes. “It is late. We’ll call them in the morning and see what else we can do about this.”

-----
>>
When you were heading back to your tent, Von Metzeler came up from behind and stopped you with a heavy hand on your shoulder. “Von Tracht.”

You looked back, and turned to the Lieutenant. “Von Metzeler.”

“Signy Vang and you were well acquainted.”

“…Yes?” you didn’t see why that had to be pointed out.

“So why did she have you abducted? Do you know?”

>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
>Say that you’d rather not talk about Signy right now. Or that you were kidnapped. As far as he’s concerned he should just treat it as an absence.
>Make up a story. Signy is hopelessly attached to you- she wanted to steal you away and keep you. Maybe Von Metzeler should keep that possibility in mind with *his* female company.
>Other?
>>
>>3798649
>Say that you’d rather not talk about Signy right now. Or that you were kidnapped. As far as he’s concerned he should just treat it as an absence.
>>
>>3798649
Touchy, try calling her Fluffy instead.

>Make up a story. Signy is hopelessly attached to you- she wanted to steal you away and keep you. Maybe Von Metzeler should keep that possibility in mind with *his* female company.
In a way that is what she wanted to do. If Richter was mentally freed then maybe, just maybe, he'd choose her instead.

You know I was going to pick tell the whole truth, but the opportunity to get him away from that goddamn wizard is too good to pass up.
>Other?
Ask him if she told him the truth about exposure to Soulbinder Prescence and thralldom.

>Other?
If we do announce that we were kidnapped to the public, then we should blame Twaryian bounty hunters. Anything and everything we can do to raise tension on the border should be put out there.
>>
>>3798649
>>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
>>
>>3798649
Joke about
>>Make up a story. Signy is hopelessly attached to you- she wanted to steal you away and keep you. Maybe Von Metzeler should keep that possibility in mind with *his* female company.
But afterwards
>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
>>
>>3798649
>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
>>
>>3798649
>>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
Also point out all of us officers might potentially have the same treatment done to us.
>>
>>3798649
>>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
>>
>>3798649
>Tell the truth. Signy’s suspicions of you being controlled to do things you wouldn’t, that you were under some sort of mental influence- even if you doubted the veracity of such.
Don't just talk about this stuff out in the open, invite Von Metzeler inside the tent, offer him some tea if we have any and speak a bit more intimately, this does concern the two of us directly, afterall.
This anon's >>3798654 addition of blaming the bounty hunters for our disappearance publically is also a good idea.
>>
>>3798742
Supporting this as well.
>>
>>3798742
This works.
>>
>>3798652
Go away, you're named after music, who even does that.

>>3798654
Make up a half truth. Also questions about wizards, and bounty hunter blame for the official story.

>>3798682
Joke about your eyebrow magnetism first and then

>>3798683
>>3798693
>>3798736
>>3798742
>>3798752
>>3798871
Spill the beans. Hopefully not the spaghetti.

Writing, soon. After responding to the call of nature.
>>
“Tragically, Miss Vang is hopelessly attached to me- she wanted to steal me away and keep me forever. Perhaps you should be careful of such with the sort of company you keep.”

Your tone was obviously joking, but Von Metzeler didn’t find it funny from how his brow twitched and his frown deepened. “Most would not be so flippant over what has happened. Most save for impetuous nitwits.”

“Your praise is greatly appreciated,” you grumbled back, “Here. Come to my tent, I’ll talk with you seriously about it, but not out here.”

So you took Von Metzeler back to your tent- even if it was a semi-permanent affair, raised on a wooden pallet as to separate everything from the ground, and supported by wooden beams rather than sectioned poles, it was hardly any more spacious or homey than a normal tent for two (where a second person would be was taken up by administrative equipment). Yet it had been home for more than a month, and one got used to the positive aspects or learned to find enjoyment through complaining about its flaws.

“I would offer you tea,” you said as you led Von Metzeler in and turned on a dinky electric lamp hanging off the center beam, and you sat on a stool while he continued to stand. “If this condemned country had any. Not that I’ve got any sugar either because of the mentioned lack of tea.”

“There is tea in the cottage you were having Miss Glennzsegler. Of a Twaryian or Caelus brand. It would not be a stretch to believe she got it for you.”

That…had completely slipped your mind.

“Yva is quite fond of it.” Von Metzeler added. “It is a shame that without smuggling or infiltration it will run out in a just over a week, quicker, the more who share it.”

“Alright. Before anything else, we have to talk about that.” your tone firmed quite quickly, “I see you’ve been busy in my absence, but in your tea dates, have you asked her about herself? About the effects she could have upon you? Thralldom, presence, the like? These forces you unknowingly toy with in spite of not understanding?”

Von Metzeler glared at you with piercing eyes. In the dim light, you thought to search them for a spot as he tried to find his words. “Of course I spoke with her about such. She insisted that it would not be a problem so long as we did not have uninterrupted contact. Occasional meetings are safe enough.”

“And how often have you been meeting with her?” you questioned.

“…She is a woman, not some sort of monster as you have deluded yourself into believing.”

I’m the deluded one?”

“Do not test my patience, Lieutenant,” Von Metzeler’s brow furrowed even deeper, “My debts to you may be great but I may forget for a moment should I be motivated.”
>>
What a pain in the arse Von Metzeler had become since the arrival of that abominable soulbinder. How ironic that she was technically completely out of your hair but as a sorcerer was somehow obligated to cause you grief even indirectly. “Fine. If you’re going to forget about anything right now, forget that we were talking about that, it isn’t even what I wanted to bring you here to discuss. It was the actual reason Miss Vang had me held against my will.” You waited for Von Metzeler’s glare to become one of curiosity rather than one hinting an inclination to invert your nose. “Signy…Miss Vang believed that I am being controlled by some unknown force to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise, that I am under some sort of influence from within my mind. In short, that I am being made to act against my will by…something.”

Von Metzeler was quiet for a moment. “She has evidence of this?”

“Circumstantial. She was not forthcoming, besides that mutual…allies, have insisted on it, and apparently, some odd spot in the eye. She was at least confident enough in it that she felt the need to have me captured.”

“You were close to Miss Vang,” this mystery was now occupying Von Metzeler more than any spite towards you, as his former frustration gave way to a curiosity like a child entering a museum after it closed. “You would not describe her as short sighted, or impulsive, or the like, would you?”

“Sometimes. In the heat of the moment, but if she has time to think…I believe she may overthink matters. A great deal of caution has grown within in her rise to her position, I believe. She certainly didn’t “find out” about this recently and act on it immediately, so…whatever you interpret from such, I suppose.”

Von Metzeler put his hand to his chin, paced in a half circle, and faced the corner of the tent. “I see.”

“From what she said of this, she believed that all officers have the same treatment as I. You, even.”

“…What are the effects of this treatment?” Von Metzeler asked, “Is it only, as you say, to coerce obedience?”

“…” You remembered…otherwise. Signy didn’t actually know much about its precise effects, by her admission, but there were others who had given more detailed descriptions, a long time ago, and then, you believed you were being mocked. Fear never clouds their reason in battle. An officer of Strossvald knows no fear. “There is more than that.” Yet you didn’t want to admit that.

“Such as what?”

“We’ve been through plenty a battle at this point,” you couldn’t really approach it directly, “When did you feel most afraid? Have you ever felt like you’d lose control? Like you wanted to curl up and hide, or run away in terror?”
>>
“…No.” Von Metzeler said to the corner of the tent, “I have felt dread, apprehension. I have been surprised, caught off guard. I have found myself considering how to avoid injury, but I have never considered turning about and fleeing. Whenever I felt near my limits, I felt reassured. When times were at their darkest, my will refused to falter. An officer of Strossvald knows no fear.”

“…”

“…I have spoken with Krause, about this.” Von Metzeler turned back around and sat on your cot, now on the same level as you on the stool. “He has said differently. That he has felt panic so deeply that he lost his faculties. Particularly when…his leg was torn away. During some battles, when his mind told him to flee but looking around and seeing his allies stand made him stand in place through shame that conquered his fear. He said that I sounded very strange.”

“…” Perhaps it wasn’t so bad if it were true, then?

“I will have to think more about this.” Von Metzeler muttered, “If the other officers that accompanied us to Sosaldt were here we would have a greater cross-reference, but we are lacking. In the more immediate term…what will you tell the higher command about your forced absence?”

“I will not tell them that it was Signy’s doing.” You said, “Our story will be that I was kidnapped by Twaryian bounty hunters. I do have a price on my head, after all. And it will help sow even more unease between Netilland and Twaryi.”

“You still feel kinship with Miss Vang enough to forgive this transgression?” Von Metzeler asked.

“… We shall see,” you said, uncertain.

“Then,” Von Metzeler stood again, “I will bid you good night. There may be much to do tomorrow, and there is much to think about tonight…”

-----

The next morning began with you waking to being literally dragged out of bed.

“Rise and shine, shit for brains!” Anya cried at you as she dragged you out of your tent.

“W-whuh, what the fuck,” you swore groggily, “Wait, wait, let me get my trousers on at least,” you slept in an undershirt and shorts, and such was not comfortable at all to be dragged through the snow in. “What time is it? Wait!” You couldn’t tell- it was still dark out, after all, though the horizon was lighter.

Anya ended up “sparring” with you that morning with you never getting the chance to collect yourself, and by the end it felt like she’d just dragged you into the open to beat the hell out of you and leave. Was this just more punishment for calling her creampuff? You’d have to refer to her by fluffy instead. When you returned to your tent to get dressed, you checked the time and found it was still ten minutes before you usually woke up, and a full twenty five before reveille was called across the camps.

It at least meant you were plenty awake, you supposed.
>>
Later on, an hour after everybody was up and about, and you were going through the reports that had come in during your absence, another came in…which was of entirely different concern.

“Coordinator?” a nervous staff officer appeared at the administration headquarters tent, “A…a message came for you by courier. They said it would concern you. The Minister of the People of Mittelsosalia, who was visiting the Border Zone?”

“…Yes?” you answered, unsure of how to state your relation, if it was asked.

“There was an assassination attempt upon her the other day. She is in a hospital at the moment.”

You stood with a clatter, knocking your papers all over. “What? What is her condition?”

“I don’t know, sir. It says they’re not letting that out…which I think means, it might be bad.”

“What happened?” you demanded further, “Will they let that out?”

“It says that, against advice, she entered UGZ-07…and was shot in the torso by a sniper. She apparently didn’t have her full planned security detail. She was evacuated immediately afterwards…” the staff officer folded up the missive he was holding. “…Says you were one of the people who needed to be informed about it, by request of her people.”

…You sat down again. Von Metzeler was in the tent, and he spoke, oddly hesitant. “…I believe it would be prudent to visit the hospital, Von Tracht. Your appearance may…help her morale.”

>Much as you’d like to, there was too much risk. You couldn’t treat her as a friend like that anymore. Not after what happened.
>Even considering what had happened, was Signy not still a friend? Of course you would go see her. What if her wound was one that left her fighting for her life?
>You couldn’t…not as yourself, at least. You’d officially remain here, and sneak in as somebody else. You might still be wanted, after all, by whatever of Loch’s shadows were surely around.
>Other?
>>
>>3800317
>Much as you’d like to, there was too much risk. You couldn’t treat her as a friend like that anymore. Not after what happened.
Ha, serves her right. Though on the off chance this is just a trick to lure us back in for another capture round, we should probably refrain from walking right back into a room capable of being flooded by her security detail.
>>
>>3800317
>You couldn’t…not as yourself, at least. You’d officially remain here, and sneak in as somebody else. You might still be wanted, after all, by whatever of Loch’s shadows were surely around.
Even if it's fake we can bring like... Emma?
>>
>>3800317
>Even considering what had happened, was Signy not still a friend? Of course you would go see her. What if her wound was one that left her fighting for her life?
>>
>>3800317
>Much as you’d like to, there was too much risk. You couldn’t treat her as a friend like that anymore. Not after what happened.

It's a trap. Why would an NLF rebel shoot at her?
>>
>>3800317
>>Even considering what had happened, was Signy not still a friend? Of course you would go see her. What if her wound was one that left her fighting for her life?
Bring either Anya/one of our officers and at least enough men that they don't get any funny ideas.
>>
>>3800576
Supporting. Maybe von Metzeler can come and perhaps get more insight on the conditioning. Do bring our own security detail though and insist on their presence as a non-negotiable point otherwise we won't go.
>>
>>3800317
>Even considering what had happened, was Signy not still a friend? Of course you would go see her. What if her wound was one that left her fighting for her life?
>>
>>3800317
As much as this stinks of another trap... if it's actually bounty hunters trying to lure us out and not Signy, I'll eat Richter's hat
>Of course you would go see her. What if her wound was one that left her fighting for her life?
Take no chances and keep a sizable armed presence with us, as >>3800576 and >>3800623 suggest, though. I assume we'll pick up replacement sidearms before we set off for the hospital, no good walking into an ambush with only a bit of broken mug to defend ourselves, should we get seperated.

>>3800349
I would agree on bringing Emma along as well, but couldn't one of Lock's spooks see Emma back in Sosaldt, or at least feel her lingering? Now that she's gotten bigger she might be easier for them to recognise if she's in and out of our pocket when we approach the hospital, so perhaps let her loose as soon as we arrive and instruct her to trail us from a distance in a casual ghostly fashion, so as not to arouse the suspicion that she's the same ember as back then.
>>
>>3800317
>You couldn’t…not as yourself, at least. You’d officially remain here, and sneak in as somebody else. You might still be wanted, after all, by whatever of Loch’s shadows were surely around.
>>
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>>3800338
>>3800557
You're merely pretending to be shot!

>>3800518
>>3800576
>>3800623
>>3800637
>>3800670
But that won't keep me away.

>>3800349
Perhaps you should put on a fake mustache.

Ghost is being brought. As well as "enough" men. Will that dissuade naughtiness? Not that Signy's ever backed down from an unfair fight.

Writing.

I've had the El. Pz 5 that I promised last thread designed for forever but I can't think of how I want to sketch it out.
>>
>>3800696
Counting you just so you don't feel left out.
>>
>>3800708
>spoiler
Maybe just draw what's left of the dead one in the woods and keep the complete vehicle somewhat of a surprise? Unhappy children inside, not withstanding
Also, I just realised how cool a tank silhoutte recognition chart for the various states of Vinstraga would be, once the remaining Ellowian and Twaryian armour finally shows itself
>>
>>3800708
Also maybe tell the guys staying behind if we don't show up again after a while probably things are getting messy where we are.
>>
You leaned over the table, put your fingers to your crown, and thought about this. The first thing to come into mind was, it’s a trap. The day after you escape, you get a missive telling you to come right for Signy again? The coincidence of it would be appalling. Yet. You knew why her security detail was understrength- it was because it was watching you. That was Signy’s decision to make, of course, not your responsibility, but…if she truly was wounded, and perchance it was mortal, could you truly leave her alone, after your last meeting?

“We’ll go,” you said to Von Metzeler, and he blinked at the mention of we, so you explained. “I suspect that this is a trap meant to catch me again. Even if she truly was wounded, I might be captured once more regardless, because she thinks she is acting in my interest. Therefore, I will be going to see her- in case she is fighting for her life- but with the caveat of being able to dissuade any funny business.”

“I understand, however, you would like to take me?” Von Metzeler asked.

“Because,” you stood up and went close to Von Metzeler, pulling him away from the others and whispering in his ear, “What Signy told me, you might have questions for her about, no?”
“…Yes. Very well then. I will take my crew and you will take yours, I suppose?”

“And Anya.” You said. “They had eight people, nine at most. So we’ll have a healthy advantage in numbers at eleven, but not so many as to look a threat.” That, and taking along an entire platoon on a hospital visit would have been…logistically implausible to do on short notice. “We’ll drop by the cottage to pick up something too.”

“Something?”

“The teakettle. Come along.”

-----

“So,” you said to Von Metzeler as you both drew closer to the cottage, “I remember your pet having a problem with Emma. How has that developed? I’m not going to suddenly be unable to find her, am I?”

“They have coexisted,” Von Metzeler said curtly, “She is not some fool or scamp who will actively aggravate those she is a guest to on purpose, though we did discuss the nature of Emma’s being, as well as her own thoughts on such being heard.”

“How did that go?”

“Yva is rather set in her beliefs of what Emma is, and how she should be treated,” Von Metzeler said with a dissatisfied tone in his voice, “I myself consider her a living thing, one who can think and feel and act, and would be indistinguishable from a person if not for her unfortunate circumstances of being dead. Yva tells me that she is not truly of the dead, but if Emma’s thoughts and memories are of the deceased person, with no variation, no falsehood being perpetrated by her, what is the difference?”
>>
“I don’t much like her attitude if she’s going to be staying near Emma,” you expressed your concern bluntly.

“Emma will not be harmed. Yva understand that I would be very much upset by that.”

“Thank heaven for that at least,” you muttered under your breath as you came up to the door, and knocked on it, “Emma, and other person, it’s Richter. I’m coming in.” You let yourself in, and Emma immediately floated over and squeezed into your collar. “…Somebody’s happy to see me, at least.”

“That bitch won’t let me eat off Grumpus,” Emma complained, “I’ve been starving!”

“You’ve gotten nice and slim, at least.”

“Hmph. Pig.” Emma drained your presence off regardless. “…You must be here because you want something. You send away my company and replace her with some creepy glasses wearing cunt. Not winning any points, y’know.”

“I need your help,” you told Emma, “I’m going somewhere, where people might want to kidnap me. I want you to follow me and make sure I can get word out if I get in trouble again.”

“…” Emma flickered against you, “…Fine.”

That was it? “Just “fine?” I’d have expected you to ask for a reward.”

“I don’t think you have anything that I’d want anyways,” Emma said morosely, “…Besides, if you don’t end up needing my help, I probably won’t earn it anyways. Who cares? Not like I’m a real person anyways…”

“Well, if you think of anything, I’m sure I’ll owe you,” you told Emma, “I’ll try not to delay it as much as your other reward.”

Von Metzeler came out of the other room. “Yva is still sleeping. Let us be away before we wake her up.”

“Oh, man, we better not wake her up,” Emma said with a nasty sneer, “Nah, Richter and I can screw off and you can shove your cock in her like we know you’re keeping her around for. Make sure you stick it right up her-”

Emma.” you scolded her, to try and prevent Von Metzeler from arguing with her, “Shut up.”

“Whatever.” Emma retreated deeper into your jacket. “Let’s just get the hell out of here. Sick of that slag’s stink.”

-----

Von Metzeler was glad to be away from Emma as you each went to gather your crews, as well as Anya, and to explain the situation. They weren’t told more than what was needed- the matter about your conditioning was kept between you and Von Metzeler. No need to instill doubt in your command. Well, you thought with a glance to Anya, more doubt.

All of you were armed to the relative teeth. Relative being pistols, of course, though Anya insisted on taking along a munitions caster. Only insistence on being conservative led her to begrudgingly accept to only bring the rubber baton rounds, “less lethal.” She wanted to bring the tear gas and gas masks, but launching tear gas inside a hospital would probably get you thrown into actual prison.
>>
Naturally, all left behind were informed that you'd need help if you weren't back after a certain amount of time.

Going to the hospital was a truck ride, rather than a train ride, and you were escorted by motorcycle team rather than go by yourself in a single truck, as inviting a target that would be to insurgents. Thankfully, in spite of concerns, you were not stopped by any explosive roadside ambushes. In fact, the heavy traffic likely even helped the measure of safety, as juicier targets than you were passing by with no sign of having been molested. The NLF deciding to finally draw down completely after Signy’s visit, even if it was apparently punctuated by gunshot.

Who would have shot her, though? Certainly not the NLF. They were banking on her seeing this. Isek had proposed that Netilland might want her dead, but would they really be so bold as to try and pass off a blatant assassination attempt on a group that wouldn’t have a problem on her? You’d heard of sloppier false flag attempts, you supposed. Hopefully one of yours wasn’t on the big sloppy list.

The hospital itself was a smaller affair in a large town, not normally of a size or of capability to treat those suffering from serious combat wounds, but the necessities of the border zone had led to it being expanded to be a destination for the casualties taken wide around. It was, of course, still full to bursting, though the casualties were all relatively old, the fighting having wound down. Men walked around sleepily, bound up in bandages and casts, or laying down in beds, playing cards with comrades who had pushed tables next to them so they could play, a few even having cards held for them by friends.

You really hoped you wouldn’t have to start a fight in here.

“Man, check out that guy’s hand,” Anya pulled on your sleeve and pointed, “What a lucky son of a bitch. Best hand I’ve ever seen just passing by.”

“Lucky enough to be put in the hospital, huh.” You said sardonically.

“Some people’d call that luck. They didn’t die, and they get a vacation.”

“Your view of getting wounded is awfully strange considering how often it’s happened to you.”

“Just saying it beats dying.”

Obviously.

You were directed to the room Signy was staying in. Apparently, she was stable, but doctors were still keeping a close eye on her in case her condition worsened, so you’d be allowed to see her. Of course. There was objection to you taking all of your people in, of course, but that wasn’t something you were going to negotiate on anyways.

As expected, as soon as you went through the door, the guards were there to meet you- all of them. They stood back as everybody else filed in, making the hall awfully crowded- though it’d been cleared of most of the beds and patients anyways. As well as the doctors. You could tell what was up.
>>
A few of the guards you recognized awkwardly looked away from you, as you approached the hospital bed where you could see Signy’s head poking out of. There was another, unfamiliar person next to her, a man who could be professorial in appearance were it not for how he was built like a fortress, tall and broad and bulky, with glasses so small they looked comical on his massive face, itself creased with deep furrows in his forehead and by his cheekbones, his skin stretched over a very strong and boney face.

“I’m here,” you said, and she turned to you and opened her eyes. “Are you alright?”

Signy looked at you, then the cadre you’d brought, then sat up and stretched her arms. “I figured you’d be too clever to come and see me. I appreciate that you did, anyways.” She put her hands in her lap and her visage turned miserable. “Make me feel worse about it, why don’t you.”

“You’re not actually wounded.” You surmised.

“Nope. But it worked, didn’t it? You’re here.”

“Of course I am. I was concerned for your health.” And not happy that you’d been tricked. Again. Sort of.

“You brought so many of your friends too,” Signy looked back out, “I know that one. Who is he, again?”

“I am Lieutenant Rondo Von Metzeler,” your second in command stepped up as the rest of the room needled one another with staring eyes, hands on their weapons. “…I had questions for you, Miss Vang.”

“What sort?” Signy looked up and him and tilted her head. She seemed…confident.

“About Von Tracht’s and I’s…condition.”

And yours?” Signy’s eyes widened, and she searched Von Metzeler’s face. “…I see.” She looked to the bespectacled larger man by the bed. “Sir Degan?”

“It would be irresponsible to speak of it with so many spectators.” He said firmly, a hint of an Emrean accent in his voice, “I would have asked for our people to quit the room, even if they were the only other ones here.”

“Yeah, fuck that,” Anya spoke up from among the men, some of whom had begun to mutter at the mention of secrets, “You’re built like a brick shithouse. We all leave and you’re nabbing the exceptional individual again. Try something else.”

“My opinion is not changed by rude outbursts,” Sir Degan remained resolute.

“Here,” Signy said, “My people and yours can both agree to step out into the hall. You and Von Metzeler can stay here with me and Sir Degan. Will that be fair? Powerful as he may look…well, look at me,” Signy smiled and showed her hands, “I’m not very good in a fight, you can see.”

>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.
>That sounds fair. If Sir Degan is the expert…you wanted to hear answers as much as Von Metzeler did.
>You’d like to keep the odds in your favor. You’ll accept, but you’ll want one other person here with you and Von Metzeler…(Who?)
>Other?
>>
>>3800920
>>You’d like to keep the odds in your favor. You’ll accept, but you’ll want one other person here with you and Von Metzeler…(Who?)
Malachi.
>>
>>3800920
I'll support >>3800924
Malachi is a beast. Any secrets we have, he can be privy to. The man drives us everywhere.
>>
>>3800924
>>3800937
Hmmm....
>>
>>3800920
>>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.
>>
>>3800920
>>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.
>>
>>3800920
>>You’d like to keep the odds in your favor. You’ll accept, but you’ll want one other person here with you and Von Metzeler…(Who?)
Mal.
We'll more than likely be telling the crews our whole of this brainwashing story sooner or later, better to do it when we're out of this hospital where the sudden unexpected shaking of someone's faith in us might set off an itchy trigger finger
>>
>>3800920
>You’d like to keep the odds in your favor. You’ll accept, but you’ll want one other person here with you and Von Metzeler…(Who?)
Malachi, of course
>>
>>3800920
>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.

Goddammit I knew it.
You know the odds that this guys knows command phrases to control us and Grumpus?
100%
Keep the whole team here and clear out the Mittle-dicks if she wants this so bad.
>>
>>3800920
Changing my vote >>3800997 to
>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.
Let's just get out of here as quickly as possible
>>
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>>3801367
nice, got another new ID at some point when I went to work. I guess I was the samefag afterall.
>>
>>3801358
Also regardless have Emma watch in here and run to Jorgen/Stein if anything happens.
>>
>>3800920
>You’d like to keep the odds in your favor. You’ll accept, but you’ll want one other person here with you and Von Metzeler…(Malachi)
>>
>>3801358
Hell changing my mind again, let's leave. the WALL isn't going to want an audience so we should leave and not see Signy again.
If Von Metzeler wants to stay that's his perogative, but I'm done getting tricked by her.
>>
Come on, anons, why do you want to stay brainwashed by the government?
>>
>>3800920
>No. That sounds like you’re asking for trouble, and getting fooled three times is beneath even you.
Sorry Signy. You've lied to me twice now. This is non negotiable. You and Degan are going to have to deal with the 'irresponsibility' of this talk.
>>
>>3801358
>You know the odds that this guys knows command phrases to control us and Grumpus?
Signy would have used the control phrase earlier if she knew it.
Also, it's surprising that the Major knowing these phrases doesn't worry you.
>>
>>3801455
>>3800920
I should point out this is not a vote to leave like some of the other votes under the same vein.
>>
>>3801476
If Signy had come straight to us, no tricks and explained as well as she could then maybe. Instead mumbling nonsense, then trying to drug us, then actually kidnapping us, And then she has the fall to try and trick us again!

Christ would it be so hard to just talk to us?

The real stickler is Loch. He is such an unknown that submitting Richter to his merciful tendencies is too much.
>>
>>3801490
>Christ would it be so hard to just talk to us?
She is trying to just talk to us right now, isn't she? And you're running away instead of listening.
>>
>>3801490
I get that things are dubious right now after everything (which is why I'm voting for everyone to stay), but running away from this puts us back to square one.
>>
>>3801490
On the road
>>3801497
This is still far too suspicious, the guy wants to isolate us yet again? Why?
"It would be irresponsible"
It would be irresponsible to trust this situation anymore.

This isn't considering whether we through with it or not, the next time we ever see the Major ( which if we do go through the procedure we may never want to again) she's going to peer and see that Richter is free and either reverse kidnap him back to Strossvald or drag behind the inn and shoot him.

Honestly I hope that Von Metzeler does go through with it and just so we will see if he's simply freed or Total Recall'd.
>>
>>3801508
IMO we should still try to get more info about this conditioning first.Whether we let them do the procedure is (should be?) another decision.
>>
>>3801426
I doubt the IO accurately represent Strossvald's government as a whole, we've seen how far these spooks can operate outside of the lines of what's normally acceptible, there's a good chance they might be acting rogue, conducting brainwashings and whatecer else without the proper authority and too big or too slippery for the rest of government to stop them.
Richter already had a duty-bound, patriotic nature before the manipulation began, so I don't think we stand to change much worthwhile by going along with Signy's plan, besides risking unforseen side-effects, like crippling Richter's ability to command in combat, or even potentially keeping the control mechanism intact but handing the keys to our head over to Loch instead, with Signy none the wiser; hopped up on good intentions, believing she's saving us from the "undemocratic" tyranny she's been brought up to topple her whole life.
I get it's a stretch, but in my opinion, where we are, as far from home and as deep in the IO's web as we stand right now we'd be better off just riding out the remainder of this assignment to Ellowie until we're in a safer position to go messing with our head, where the threat of war or kidnappings breaking out at a moments notice aren't our foremost concern. We keep our heads down and our mouths shut until we're given a safer space to think, maybe once we get back home. Perhaps we should continue gathering information from Signy/whoever on this manipulation in the meantime (if Bat Company knew, there are probably others on the ground who are less dangerous than the Major that we could track down and talk about it to) and seek some more impartial wizardly input towards a cure from Maddy or Poltergeist once we have that liberty.
Signy's done herself no favours with all this deception, so I hope you can sympathise with me when I say I, personally, can't trust her help to try and "fix" us any longer. I just want to hear what she has to tell us and then put some good ground between us and this whole incident.
tl;dr Brainwashing by the guys we voluntarily signed up for is probably not as bad on the whole as giving Loch our brain to wash instead could be. Play it cool until we're done being Coordinator then seek alternative medical opinions from blind people. Then once we're magic'd free become awakened Hell Git and 1-shot the entire IO out of existence epic style
>>
>>3801522
Agreed. Heck IIRC even the Archduke doesn't really trust the IO so I wouldn't be surprised if this was some illegal secret project that they didn't even inform anyone else about.
Also I think Signy is heavily assuming that once we 'see the light' we'll naturally decide to run off to Sosaldt with her, which is....questionable to say the least.
>>
Anyone else remember that one little aside-post while the siege of Todesfehlsen was going on about the absolute unit who got strapped up to the nuts in small arms-resitant armour? I might be remembering incorrectly, but if Sir Degan here is the same guy we ought to double down on keeping our men present.
>>
>>3800924
>>3800930
>>3801142
>>3801373
Keep your mountain man with you.

>>3800943
>>3800967
>>3801358
>>3801367
>>3801455
Can never be too careful. You've made your conditions.

Writing.

>>3801487
Overnight is already a long time to leave it no?
>>
“No.” you said, though you were tempted to oblige that request, with the addition of the toughest of your companions listening in, what reason did you have to weaken your position? Trust? What trust could there be now? “Sorry, Signy, but you’ve lied to be twice now, and being fooled three times in a row is beneath even me. This is non-negotiable. You and Sir Degan are going to deal with the irresponsibility of having all involved hearing what you have to say. Regardless, even if we did send everyone out,” you tilted your head back towards the rest of the room, “What would prevent us from just telling them afterwards anyways? We save time this way.”

“Proper caution,” Degan said, as Signy's face fell in disappointment. “Though your bloodline has a history of lacking that. It is not for our safety, but your people’s that I have in mind with that warning. It does not concern myself or Lady Vang whatsoever. However, if you wish to involve so many, who am I to deny you?”

“I’m glad that we could come to an understanding.” You said, “With how dubious all the claims being made are, and how little is actually being explained to me, I think I can’t be blamed for my actions.”
“I didn’t know what-“ Signy began to protest, but Degan held up a hand.

“Lady Vang, allow me to do the talking, if you will. I believe I will be more persuasive.” Degan cleared his throat and adjusted his glasses. “Gentlemen. Allow me to give a brief explanation of history that you may already be aware of, but I will not make assumptions. You see, since antiquity, battles have been won or lost based on which side’s morale breaks first. Whom first reaches their limit when confronted with life or death decisions. When particular combat stress associated with modern industrial warfare was seen in large scale during the Emrean Revolution, many nations undertook experiments to try and address that problem, that was reducing combat effectiveness and causing desertions, mutinies, suicides…to little avail. Yet, Strossvald is unique. The élan and esprit de corps displayed by some of its young officers is remarkable, even decisive. Most would attribute this to their traditions and Strossvald’s veneration of its noble class, yet what would be less noticed would be what happened when said leaders broke. Incredible loyalty is hardly a unique thing, nor is bravery, talent at arms, but it is quite something for it to, suddenly, wash away like sand on stones.”
>>
Rolled 4 (1d5)

“Speak plainly,” Von Metzeler said crossly, “All this talk and you have not yet said how this thing you speak of though it is a curse is anything but a boon.”

Degan adjusted his glasses again, and you noticed his eyes, hard and steely, beyond their distortion, for a moment. “This boon is ------- through ------------. The same mechanism that commands your mind be stoic and free of fear is the same that may be used to manipulate you…I believe demonstration will be more effective than words.” Degan opened a small journal, turned to a page, and read off, “Richter Von Tracht, grope Signy Vang’s chest.

>1d5 Trance Damage
>>
Wunderbar
>>
Rolled 5 (1d5)

>>3802783
>>
A flash of pain in your head, then…You were fondling Signy’s breast. With a snap and a wrenching away of your hand, you glared darkly at the huge man, the sudden yet fading pressure in your ears not helping your agitation.

“Sir Degan.” Signy said softly, but with menace, “…Do not do anything like that again. That was over the line.”

“I apologize, Lady Vang, but over the line is what is necessary to demonstrate the potential power of Von Tracht, and Von Metzeler’s wills. That, and I admit to not asking our mutual friend what this command precisely was beyond it being a clear faux pas.”

“You know what I meant.” Signy’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Very well. Now. Tell me, Richter Von Tracht, would you have even thought to have done what you just did if you were told?”

“I did nothing I intended to or would think of doing.” You scowled.

“Then you and Von Metzeler must see what the most drastic conditions you have are. Lady Vang did do her best to explain, I was told, but her knowledge of it is imperfect, and she lacks the study I do. She was also extremely careful. You see, it is safer to you that you have a cushion of uncertainty.” Degan explained this all quite deliberately. “Vagueness allows you to arrive at the conclusions from within, through deduction, otherwise, suggestion is an extremely forceful and involved procedure, involving a practical ----------- of the best approximation of -----------. Risky, damaging, and potentially lacking in effectiveness without proper care over enough time. We know little about what is done or why, after all. Only its effects, and that the conditioning can be neutralized. It is even a flaw of it that it can be overcome without outside influence, but it depends on the person. Artificial tampering would have more an effect, of course.”

“Vagueness sounds like an excuse,” you retorted, though you’d have expected Von Metzeler to have said something by now. “Convenient that you have to be vague. That you have to take me against my will and force me to go through this without explaining everything. It makes me suspicious that, if there is some sort of control over my head-“

“The demonstration did not inform you enough?” Degan adjusted his glasses.

“As I was saying, if there was, then what is stopping you from messing around with my head, should I give myself over to you? What if you aren’t telling me the whole truth so your master can exploit me in place of one whom I have bent the knee to since birth?” You didn’t feel like letting Signy off the hook either, as you looked down at her. “Or what if you wanted me to do something instead? You kept making suggestions as though, if I were through with this, I’d run away with you. I’m having a lot of trouble seeing this as something for my benefit rather than that of others.”
>>
“…Is that what this is about?” Signy’s voice cracked, and she balled her hands into fists, “That’s what you think it is?” She got up from the bed and pushed you roughly against the wall, before getting up close and stabbing her finger into the center of your chest. “You don’t know goddamn everything, Richter!” she shouted at you, “So quit acting like you do! How much of a shitty hypocrite would I have to be to do something just because I might not be so goddamn alone after it? When I put our trust for each other on the line, and even told you I’d understand if you hated me forever afterwards? How much would I be betraying that I’ve sacrificed so much for, that I believe in so much that people have died for them, just so I could get some?

Signy spoke so fast you couldn’t interrupt her, “All I wanted was for you to be able to choose your path, like how you helped me be able to choose mine! How could I just sit around like a helpless moron while you had this shit in your head? Am I just supposed to stand around with my thumb up my ass and accept it? To let you get screwed around with while I pranced around following my dreams? You think I’d throw all my principles away because I’m such a selfish bitch that I just want to tear you away from somebody you’re happy with? That I’m such a moron that I’ll just let you fall into the hands of people you don’t trust? That I’ll just roll over and let somebody else have you on a leash when I’m trying so hard to give you again is your freedom? Fuck. You!” Signy slapped you in the face as hard as she could, and you snapped your head back she was storming off to the other side of the bed to sit on it and turn her back to you, breathing hard such that her whole body rose and fell.

That was not something you wanted near twenty people to watch happen, to say the least.

Degan turned out to have been watching that with an unmoving expression of bemusement, and only a few seconds after Signy had gone back to her seat, spoke again. “…If you are through with your bickering. I do have the knowledge to force small actions, admittedly imperfectly. Tell me, my audience, you have kept politely quiet through all of that, but was I speaking New Nauk when I told Richter Von Tracht what to do?”

A series of nos rippled through, but you heard Malachi say, confidently, “Mounbludtong.”

“…Come again?” Degan said.

“Mountain’s Blood Tongue, I think.” Stein offered.
>>
“…How interesting, another mountain man who knows of it,” Degan’s bemusement shifted for analytical interest. “Indeed. We found out that commands may be issued in a ------------------, quite recently, and nearly by accident, were it not for that we had a man fluent in it…who used it colorfully, as he is wont to do. No, what you may think happen, indeed did not, but broad suggestions may be confused for commands, and that can lead to some confusion before they regain control of their faculties. Only after a moment, you see, but what can say for if there are -------------? Or are -----------?”

Were you forgetting things as soon as they were said to you? You wanted to ask him to repeat himself, but you also...didn't. And it kept happening.

“As much doubt as I have still,” Von Metzeler said, though his eyes were peering skeptically at you, “…You could have commanded us this whole time, without us even knowing, yes?”

“Von Metzeler figures out the game faster than Von Tracht, then.” Degan mused. Incorrectly, in your opinion. “Such would have been harmful without actually knowing how, of course, but I wouldn’t have cared, were it in my interests to force the conditioning from your heads. Lady Vang wishes to be more gentle, and so much as Von Tracht may think her a puppet of Loch, in blunt words, I will share information on our journeys and say that we have not aided Lady Vang in policy since after she was elected into her position. Certain important events she has shared with you have come about entirely by her own influence. I was dispatched here by her request. There is no need to entertain notions of greater conspiracies outside of this room. All you need concern yourself with, is if you consider what you have something that you approve of, or not. Lady Vang is against it by principle. She can be inflexible. Perhaps such was why she wished to kidnap you and hold you, as she believed her actions to be completely in the right. Perhaps they were. Yet whom is right is of little bearing when our men…and scruffy woman, have their hands at their sides prepared to draw steel.”

“Lieutenant,” Von Metzeler spoke to you now, “I understand if you would disagree, considering…recent events. Yet. The thought that I am in not in control of myself is disturbing. There are many whom I would rather not allow such a hold over me. If…if this potential hold can be annulled, then I will willingly give myself over. I do not expect the same from you.”

“An unexpected development. We had not anticipated you to come here at all.” Degan said.
>>
“I recognize that there are differences between us, Richter.” Von Metzeler’s expression was sunk with the expression of one who was lost, “I am misfit among my family, whom are lords of trickery and cruelty. Your ancestry, in spite of its failings, has a reputation for valor, and glory. The Von Trachts will ever be known for when they rode alongside the knights of Strossvald. Miss Vang, perhaps you do not see such as something so important…but if this conditioning is what I fear it may be…you may be taking away something very important to Richter Von Tracht. Something that he may not be able to accept losing. I would ask, therefore, for some patience with him concerning…this.”

Signy said nothing, her back still straight and her face to the wall.

“Von Tracht, that man can command you with but a phrase,” Von Metzeler hissed a whisper to you, “Do you think that the only thing he has written down is an instruction to molest another person for the shock of it? I believe that if you wish to escape this, even though you have parity of force, you must negotiate.”

>What is there to negotiate? You made up your mind days ago. If this was going to come down to a fight, so be it. You came here ready for one and so had they.
>Wax on the irony of how you’re being preached to about how you’re not being given freedom in choosing whether or not these “chains” are broken. Is it not too late for hypocrisy? Maybe you could be forced now, but what a hollow triumph that would be.
>Say that you’re afraid. That you wouldn’t know what the future would hold. That you’ve been given this for a reason, and you don’t think you’d just be allowed to shed it and walk on. Your life may not be completely your own, but you don’t have a choice. Either you’ll be bound back up again or you’ll be disposed of. Isn’t what you have now better than either of those?
>Present the question to the room. You are a commander of soldiers, and their lives depend on you as much as yours depends on them. They have heard what has been said. What do they think? They will decide. Such is as democracy works, is it not?
>Other?
Also-
>Let Von Metzeler stay
>Do not let your second in command be left here
>>
Signy and Von Metzeler proving themselves the best once again.

Maybe now we'll listen to reason... fifty threads in.

>>3802803
>Say that you’re afraid. That you wouldn’t know what the future would hold. That you’ve been given this for a reason, and you don’t think you’d just be allowed to shed it and walk on. Your life may not be completely your own, but you don’t have a choice. Either you’ll be bound back up again or you’ll be disposed of. Isn’t what you have now better than either of those?
>Present the question to the room. You are a commander of soldiers, and their lives depend on you as much as yours depends on them. They have heard what has been said. What do they think? They will decide. Such is as democracy works, is it not?
Can these both work? I kind of want to say both.
>Let Von Metzeler stay
>>
>>3802803
Before we decide on anything maybe find out first what exactly does removing the conditioning entail? Any possibility of complications from the procedure?
>>
>>3802803
I'm going to support >>3802816 but i'm also openly laughing at the idea of us breaking this brainwashing after the aforementioned fifty threads or so of adamantly refusing because it's cool or something equally dumb.
>>
>>3802795
Attagirl
>>
>>3802803
>Say that you’re afraid. That you wouldn’t know what the future would hold. That you’ve been given this for a reason, and you don’t think you’d just be allowed to shed it and walk on. Your life may not be completely your own, but you don’t have a choice. Either you’ll be bound back up again or you’ll be disposed of. Isn’t what you have now better than either of those?

>Present the question to the room. You are a commander of soldiers, and their lives depend on you as much as yours depends on them. They have heard what has been said. What do they think? They will decide. Such is as democracy works, is it not?

-

>Let Von Metzeler stay
>>
>>3802803
>>Other?
>Agree to have the brainwashing removed, now that the issue is out in the open and we have the option to make an informed decision with the knowledge of von Metzeler and the others to make sure we aren't being taken advantage of. After all it wasn't the de-brainwashing itself we were afraid of as much as being locked away in a hidden cell and being at the complete mercy of some stranger doing who knows what to our brain with no one able to look out for us or know about it if they turned out to not have our best interests at heart.
>>
>>3802803
>Say that you’re afraid. That you wouldn’t know what the future would hold. That you’ve been given this for a reason, and you don’t think you’d just be allowed to shed it and walk on. Your life may not be completely your own, but you don’t have a choice. Either you’ll be bound back up again or you’ll be disposed of. Isn’t what you have now better than either of those?

Just giving it up now will likely get us, our officers and everyone we hold dear killed. The IO will know the moment they see us at a debriefing and you can bet they will want to keep it quiet.

>Wax on the irony of how you’re being preached to about how you’re not being given freedom in choosing whether or not these “chains” are broken. Is it not too late for hypocrisy? Maybe you could be forced now, but what a hollow triumph that would be.

If you're gonna try, then do it funny-man, I think instead all you'll be doing is destroying the person that is Richter Von Tracht. Unlike Von Metzeler, Richter IS Noble Duty personified.
To his ultimate detriment, and perhaps destruction it appears.
Especially since his trance damage is approaching critical
>>
>>3803049
Well hey if those goes wrong we can get matching eye patches. I think it's worth it though.
>>
>>3802817
>>3803049
>Reposting without awful typos.

“…A moment,” you said, “Before I consider this. What is the procedure of removal, anyways? Are there…complications?”

“You already consider,” Degan said, “but very well. Elaboration. I trust Lady Vang has already informed you of your look. The ocular component must first be neutralized. This is done through injection of several drugs where they may reach the nerve, as well as through the eye. Improper procedure could leave you blind in said eye, of course…but that is obviously through lack of skill or in interruption.”

“I already dislike this.”

“Afterwards is the neutralization of hypnotic elements. This requires injection of serums, probing of suggestion, and testing of visual sequences of light. Eye dilation continues through this. I will not lie to you, it will be extremely unpleasant. This procedure is variable in effectiveness for lack of subjects to test it upon, but the procedures are far from arbitrary guessing. Psychological scarring is a possibility even with normal fracturing of the condition, and purposeful, artificial breakage can be quick, but trades for speed, adverse effects. However, I believe Lady Vang would argue that the sooner, the better, and that the risks are worth the potential benefit.”

You remembered what Signy said- about how if this damaged you, she would put out her own eye. She must at least have been confident about this…
>>
>>3802994
Forgot to add:
>Do not let your second in command be left here

Especially as I got to thinking why he was saying this shit in Mosshead language. It's [i] MAGIC. [/i]

No wonder Degan can't understand why or how it works, it is quite literally magic. And you know we have other sources to help cure this if it is actually wizard bullshit.

>Other?
Before they vote, inform the Magically Traumatized amongst us what they think of this guy invading our head with trickery of the exact same sort as Liemanner, Riverman and the Demiphantom?
>>
>>3803053
Well shit I didn't refresh and I fucked up the italics.

I still think it's magic in execution even with drugs and light doohickory.

Answer unchanged, too risky, Richter's already damaged. We should find another way.
>>
>>3803076
Ah yes, "another way". The beginning of another 30-40 threads of being brainwashed and doing other things.
>>
>>3803082
Going through with this now is declaring war on the IO, because we sure as shit can't ever go back to them if we get it removed.
Are you ready to do that here and now? That's what this decision is.
>>
>>3803091
I need you to understand that i have wanted to break this conditioning since before maddy got kidnapped way back. At the time I was outvoted because people thought it was cool to be mindwashed so we didn't pursue it. Ever since then, every single damn time it's come up there's been some dumbass reason given for why we should keep it and I have been outvoted again. Now those reasons range from somewhat valid, like declaring war on the IO, to just incomprehensible dumbassery that made me hate everyone voting for it.

Regardless of those reasons my stance is, and has been for over a year now, that this thing needs to fucking go. No, I do not accept "We can do it later" as an option, because later ends up with us saying we'll do it later at a later date, and this blasted process repeats itself.
>>
So every time anons gleefully voted for Richter to be a "dog of the state", they missed a chance to destroy the brainwashing, huh.
Playing a willless slave to a totalitarian ideology is surprisingly popular on 4chan in general.
>>
>>3803096
That's fine, I understand your reasoning. I just want the weight of this decision to be apparent.

>>3803107
To be fair, some of those times we really couldn't break it without Bad End, like when the head IO honcho was right there in front of us.
>>
>>3803118
I don't think breaking it would be immediately obvious to an onlooker. It's dormant most of the time, after all.
>>
>>3802816
>>3802851
>>3802830
You can't help but be apprehensive. Ask the people.

>>3802866
Don't hurt me please.

>>3802994
There are monsters in the dark and I don't want to meet them, plus >>3803066

This is gonna hurt.
Writing.
>>
>>3802803
>Other
Agree to do the treatment but let him operate on Von Metzeler first while we watch over then swap once he's done, just to be careful.

Anyway just to throw in my two cents on this debate:
From what we've seen from past threads it seems pretty obvious that the IO is doing all kinds of unsanctioned shit on their own as Richter's father was warning him about (as well as the IO's head spook's interactions with the Archduke). As such while I think Richter even without the conditioning would still be pretty patriotic ultimately he's loyal to Strossvald first and not whatever potentially treasonous shit the IO does behind everyone's back..
Though if we do go forward with the treatment I suggest that we write to Maddy ASAP and get her to join us, because if we do get exposed I really don't want to deal with another kidnapping arc and if there is truly some magical shit involved having someone we can trust would be kinda essential.

Though honestly it'll be fucking hilarious if we need to roll for the treatment and get a crit-fail.
>>
>>3803216
>>3803226
Oops guess I was late. Anyway I'll still say let Metzeler be the guinea pig first and also try to get Maddy here where the IO has way less ability to do anything to here rather than back home.
>>
“…I am afraid,” you told Signy, “I do not know what the future will hold. Whatever this is, I’ve been given it for a reason, and I’ve kept it- what happens when I lose it? Will I be allowed to lose it and walk on? Maybe you don’t think much of the life I have right now with it hanging upon me, but is it not better to have that, than to either be bound back up again, or to lose it all?” You looked back at your crew, whose hands weren’t so tight on their weapons any longer- Anya had even let the Munitions Caster hang limp by her side. “What do you think? For better or worse, I am your leader, your commander. My life depends on you, as much as all of yours depend on mine. You’ve heard everything said here. What do you think? Should I…get rid of whatever this is? Even if it means people messing around deep in my head?”

Anya piped up first, as could be expected- she had the most confused look on her face you’d ever seen. “I don’t understand what the fuck any of you people are talking about, but…I know something’s been holding you back. If whatever the hell any of this is a part of that…then yeah. Get rid of it.”

“I agree with Anya, but,” Stein said, “All of this is suspicious. I’ve never liked suspicious, whenever I’ve had a bad feeling about something, one way or another, I’ve been right to, and I have a bad feeling about this.”

“You have a bad feeling about everything, Stein.” Hans elbowed your gunner, “…But I didn’t sign up or follow anybody here for whatever the hell this is. If this is a vote, consider me against. I don’t wanna be falling into any holes by stepping left or right.”

“Ef yeh fallen ehny huhls, isn’ theht whey we’re here?” Jorgen beat his hand against his chest, “Wehk saethmen’re the sketsh. Men’re mehda irehn, geh faerth.”

“…Well, that’s two for two,” Hans said, making a face at Jorgen, “Judge above, the person deciding this’ll be Mal. Who the hell knows the difference between if he says yes or no.”

Malachi didn’t say anything, but he walked up next to you, and gestured for you to look, before pulling aside his face wrappings, only somewhat, so you could see his cheek. There was…a mark. A brand, to be precise, consisting of circular patterns with intersecting lines, and ancient words. It had been slashed at, tattooed over, but the burned flesh still showed beneath. “Dehsmae thenk.”

He indeed didn’t say yes or no, but you thought you still understood what he meant anyways.

…Where was Emma? Had she gone? No, she was there…but she hid herself. You felt her against you, refusing to say a word.

Von Metzeler must have been inspired, as he looked to his men, but they all made gestures as though Von Metzeler would have been doing something unnecessary. Von Metzeler straightened his cap and nodded, before looking over to you. “…I suppose I will be following you into this, then.”
>>
“…Well, I would prefer to follow you,” you admitted, “…An officer of the Archduchy knows no fear in battle. Yet I know not what this is. For as many chains might be struck, I’m afraid of the shackles that might be latched back on.” Signy still had her back turned, but her shoulders had slumped- you spoke at her next. “I would not have resisted so had I known. I know you were trying to do it more gently, that you may have been doing your best, but I thought I knew not what was happening.”

Signy looked back. “…If you are afraid, Richter…I will protect you. I swear on my life, I will.” She got up and turned fully to you, and you could see the trails of cheers on her cheeks. “You’re so frustrating. One moment you’re being a cockhead and the next you go softer than a peach. It’s annoying to try and stay angry, despite it all.”

You didn’t look at her longer. “…So. If that’s that…where are we going, and when..?”

“This way,” Degan opened the closet at the end of the hall, revealing the next hall, and stairs. “We had it cut and shoddily hidden in case we were forced to take you again.

“…Great.” You sighed, “Well, you don’t have to. Just lead the way.”

“Not the rest of them, though,” Degan pointed to your crews, “If you have a mind for their safety, they will not disappear with you. Is that understood?”

“It is.” Von Metzeler said for you, though you were still reluctant to dismiss your safety barrier.

“Good.”

-----

It was a short drive, to a smaller town good and far from where you’d been first held. Apparently, you would have gone back there…but Anya’s ruckus had drawn lingering attention, so the place of operation had to be moved, to a dingy, empty home in a practical ghost town, only inhabited by some elderly who had been deemed unfit to be transferred. More supplies came after you and Von Metzeler were kept waiting for a couple of hours, where you exchanged uneasy words.
“I never felt as though I was being manipulated,” Von Metzeler told you, his thumbs hooked in his pockets as he leaned against a wall and you read a newspaper you’d been given. “Yet I cannot deny it could be happening. Perhaps it has not happened yet…but I will be damned if I will be played like a puppet because of it in the future.”

“Hm.” You didn’t mention the times you had been strung along, and had agonized over it, denied it, justified it. You didn’t want to think about it now, either- but maybe, you wouldn’t have gaps anymore, that you couldn’t fill. You were uncertain- anxious- and something within was very, very nervous.
>>
When time finally came for Von Metzeler’s operation, you were allowed to watch…but only for a little bit. A contraption was put over his head, and pulled his eyelids apart, as he was strapped with belts into a chair around his limbs and torso.

“I cannot help but feel apprehensive considering all of this,” Von Metzeler muttered before a gag was tied around his mouth.

“This is deadening solution,” Degan said, now donning medical clothes as he filled a dropper with…stuff. “It will make it so that the injection involved with the ocular step proceeds without undue panic or movement from you. We will follow with a dilation drug. Because of the nature of requiring your eye to be open, my assistant will continually irrigate your eye. We must keep you awake, and aware- there will be no general anesthetic.”

After the drops had been administered, and Von Metzeler gave an appropriate response for their effect, Degan withdrew a disturbing looking syringe from a sterile case…as well as several bottles of drug, that he mixed together on the spot. “If you are squeamish, Von Tracht, you may wish to look away.”

“I have seen men torn to shreds,” you said, though the haughtiness you intended failed to manifest, “This would be nothing.”

It wasn’t pleasant to see a needle pushed into an eye regardless, especially with the face Von Metzeler was making- the gag was obstructing things from being uttered, or more than guttural noises from escaping.

“This,” Degan said, “Is where your observation ends, Von Tracht. Knowing more than this will reduce the effect of the hammer blows that must needs be made upon you, and make no mistake, this procedure is little more than controlled demolition, so our tools must remain strong.”

“Reassuring.”

“Begone with you.” Degan waved you away, “Before I command you to do such.”

-----

“Richter Von Tracht,” a few hours later, you were called, and you stood up, more out of reflex than anything. “It is time. Lady Vang has come to see your operation, as well.”

Signy hadn’t been there most of the time- arrangements with officials, you supposed. “Is my Lieutenant done? I would see him.”

“He is not. The process is more involved than that, and we must start upon you in the time gap we have.”

What could you do, you supposed, but be led on like a cattle to a chair like Von Metzeler’s. The more you looked at it, the more foreboding it became, and when everything was strapped in, you could feel your heart in your ears, in your eyes. “Do hurry, please.” You urged.

“No encouragement is needed.” Degan said, shining a little point light above you. “Stare at this. Your spot is somewhat more strangely placed than Von Metzeler’s. Good. Do so just like that after the deadening.”
>>
The drops had been administered- your eyes were fuzzy, and felt like they couldn’t see clearly. A blessing, maybe-so that you wouldn’t see the needle as it moved in…Your stomach felt like it was going to jump into your throat at the thought. Ironically, you heard a familiar voice…and it all began to grow more distant. You were fine. It was alright. You could do this.

“Look into the light, Von Tracht.” … “Approximately forty. Far less than the other. He may have an easier time.”

You stared obediently, and felt the needle enter…go deeper…deeper…and then a chill at the rear of your eye, then…a bliss.

“I feel good.” You tried to say through your gag, though it came out muffled.

Enough of it must have been comprehensible to prompt the response of, “That won’t last LooooooonnnngggggggggkgkgkgkgkgkgkkgkgkggkggkkkkHuh? Was the world supposed to be…melting? Were you supposed to be melting? Or were you floating?

False man, false man, who art thou? A warrior, a lover, a champion, speak now. Thy true answer will avail you naught, for ‘twill be what thine has but sought. Let us see, so that the false man shall flee. The voice was gentle, and terrifying, loud, booming yet you could hardly hear. It spoke and you heard all.

>Choose one.
>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>My love is my life, and my tomorrow, without them would I know a greater sorrow?
>Other? (Must be a thing you are, no cheating!)
>>
>>3803335
>>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
>>
>>3803335
>>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>>
>>3803335
>I'm a harem protag, socially stunted, I hurt all the women I somehow attracted. Also I can't rhyme.
But actually,
>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
>>
>>3803335
I like this one.
>I'm a harem protag, socially stunted, I hurt all the women I somehow attracted. Also I can't rhyme.
It's pretty important Richter acknowledge he sucks at rhymes and poetry, and it'd be nice to have him lampshade that he has ruined the life of most women he's met somehow.
>>
>>3803335
>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>>
>>3803335
>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
>>
>>3803335
>>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>>
>>3803335
>>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>>
>>3803335
>My love is my life, and my tomorrow, without them would I know a greater sorrow?
I can already tell this is gonna end horrible.
>>
>>3803335
>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
>>
>>3803335
>My love is my life, and my tomorrow, without them would I know a greater sorrow?
>>
>>3803335
>>My love is my life, and my tomorrow, without them would I know a greater sorrow?
>>
>>3803693
switching to,
>I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?
>>3803335
>>
>>3803335
>Other
In confidence might I confess, to've taketh pride in mine own distress.
To kinsmen dear, ear unto me, forgiveness, pray, I ask of thee.
Your faith, I'd graft, in place where ties, of vile affliction a'veiled mine eyes.
And to this end, shall strive to be, your upright comrade, commander, free.
Make me bust out the medieval poetry anthology, why don't you, tanq
>>
>>3803335
>I am a champion, hon’r’ble and brave, couldst one look at me and call me a knave?
Turn Richter back into the worm he really is.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

I didn't actually expect this many.

>>3803337
>>3803407
>>3803447
>>3803571
>>3803799
I'm a big deal

>>3803339
>>3803432
>>3803455
>>3803484
>>3803734
Man I've shot a lot of people haven't I

>>3803570
>>3803688
I want the good girl

>>3803407
>>3803411
but I need the bad poosy

>>3803790
...whatever this is. Is this what they call a dab?

I'mma roll off. 1 is muh fame 2 is warriors come out to play.
>>
Rolled 8, 10 = 18 (2d10)

I am a killer, blood I have spilled, can I even count the men I have killed?

The words were not your own, the sights not your own- and suddenly, nothing was your own.

P’raps once thou art, now art not! Away, liar, your gainsaid thought!

>Your combat skill has been sacrificed! It is reduced by half.
>>
Whoops, I completely misunderstood the vote! Good thing my vote lost.
>>
>21 Trance Remaining

False man, false man, who art thou? A murderer, a lecher, a slave, speak now. Thy true answer will avail you naught, for ‘twill be what thine has but sought. Let us see, so that the false man shall flee.

Was it repeating itself? Were you being tormented? Who even were you? You could remember if you struggled, but the sensations you felt now were such that you felt inhuman. Once more, you answered, but as though your feeling flowed from a tap, rather than being spoken.

>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>I am the lecher, a whim of desire, but justice would draw me but ire.
>Pitiful wretch is the slave, I shall labor for others to my grave.
>Other?
>>
>>3804062
>>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>>
>>3804062
>>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>>
>>3804062
>Pitiful wretch is the slave, I shall labor for others to my grave.
>>
>>3804062
>>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>>
>>3804062
>>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>>
File: Spoiler Image (170 KB, 373x458)
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>>3804062
>Pitiful wretch is the slave, I shall labor for others to my grave.
>>
>>3804062
>I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.
>>
>>3804064
>>3804070
>>3804073
>>3804077
>>3804109
I mean you did host a mass execution.

>>3804071
>>3804104
Fucking slaves get your ass back here.

You probably know to expect a short update with this.
>>
Rolled 3, 3 = 6 (2d10)

I am the slayer, judged guilty, may the Judge Above condemn me.

P’raps once thou art, now art not! Away, liar, your gainsaid thought!

What is that supposed to mean? Your inner monologue doesn’t make any sense. No wonder you’re such a dimwit.

Something told you that that voice didn’t belong at all, but it was ignored like rain on a window, especially compared to the boom of thunder. Your mind was a sea of pain and bliss, swirling color, yet more and more there was void. What was even there, you couldn’t say, only that the silence was beginning to be replaced by whispers of a language unknown…

>Your combat skill has been obliterated in entirety!
>>
>15 Trance remaining

False man, false man, who art thou? Hast thou anything to confess, speak now. Thy true answer will avail you naught, for ‘twill be what thine has but sought. Let us see, so that the false man shall flee.

What emptiness you felt. To be full of sensation yet to touch nothingness. Yet there was further to go, more steps to descend- a drain, circled, though blackness consumed where once was the crystal, the prism, and the colors of the lights within.

>Confess your legacy, for it is who you are.
>Confess your love, for they make you whole.
>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
>Other?
>>
>>3804177
>Confess your legacy, for it is who you are.
Richter will have to earn it back again if he wants it so bad.
>>
>>3804177
>>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
Christ if Richter doesn't end up a vegetable by the end of this he'll be lucky.
>>
>>3804177
>>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
>>
>>3804177
>>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
>>
>>3804177
>Confess your love, for they make you whole.
>>
>>3804177
>>Confess your love, for they make you whole.
>>
>>3804177
>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
>>
>>3804177
>Confess your legacy, for it is who you are
>>
>>3804177
>>Confess your knowledge, as it places you in the world.
>>
>>3804188
>>3804246
The legacy

>>3804218
>>3804216
Midget

>>3804191
>>3804195
>>3804203
>>3804239
>>3804249
What did books ever tell me anyways

Writing.
>>
>no combat in Panzer Commander ever again
I go out and come back to this.
>>
Rolled 8, 7 = 15 (2d10)

The empty called, and its hunger was yours. You told it what you knew- what you studied, what you learned, the world and its people, of the rises and falls, of the lives lived. Each word you spoke was forgotten, each one thought, fading like mist in sun.

>Your knowledge has been cut in twain!
>>
>>3804262
>15
Oh thank Judge!
>>
>>3804257
We'll just rename the quest into Pantsu Commander and let it come into its true legacy..
>>
>>3804262
>Pride and Waifu means more to PCQ players than practical knowledge and skills.

Good to know.
>>
>>3804262
Makes me wonder though what the hell did Von Metzeler sacrifice for himself?
>>
>>3804306
Dont think its to the same extent as Richter, he already expressed doubts and issues beforehand so his was likely less embedded
>>
>>3804283
Waifis are the primary fuel quests burn to journey across the stars, next to salt and autism. To expect them to be surrendered so easily is optimistic.
>>
It was years ago- you couldn’t remember exactly when, but it was soon after entering the academy. Did it matter? The room was dim, with but a single flickering lamp hanging from a chain, muffled sounds through the wooden walls, said walls covered with faded pages whose images were lost to time.

“Richter Von Tracht. What a storied name to come here.” A woman with long, dark hair spoke to you. She was tall, imposing, and she paced across the room to sit before your desk, and glare into you with piercing, cold eyes. “Whatever is the matter? Have you forgotten why you came here?”

“I was told…that I could be made a better soldier. A better man.”

“Hmph. For such blood as yours, you are queerly shy. And why do you want that? Are you not good enough, or do you wish to be great amongst the multitude?”

“…My family is legend, but I am not. The weight of my ancestor’s achievements is a burden that I do not know if I can carry…”

“Then you understand what this is? That you will not be recognizable? That the man whom will walk out of here will not be what came in?”

“…I…came here for that reason entirely.”

“Then come. We will sacrifice that gentle boy for a proper warrior spirit.”


-----

That was it.

It was over.

He’s through the worst of it, you barely heard, Just a test…no reaction.

Will he be alright? He doesn’t look alright.

Time will tell.

-----

Darkness. Cold. Something was behind you, beside you, staring from everywhere. You shook, and shuddered. You could see and hear, but were blind and deaf. This skin was not your own- something touched you all over, and no thoughts could come to your head of what to do. Nothing, nothing! was the silent whisper. Something was missing, and you didn’t know what, yet it was so terribly important, you needed it, you needed it! Where was it? Give it back!

You were awake, but you felt as though…as though you had been hacked to pieces and stuck messily back together. Gone…so much gone, and no idea where it went…You knew who you were, but how were you here? You were a soldier, but how? You were Kommandant, Coordinator, Lieutenant, Commander, but you scarcely knew how any of that was accomplished…

To exist was terrifying. Sound and sight was alien. Somebody…would somebody help-

“Richter?” You felt a hand on your shoulder, a familiar voice…you knew it was Signy Vang, but your memories felt like patchwork. “It’s alright,” she said softly, “You’re safe. It’s…been two days. You said you were afraid for your safety, so…I’m sorry, but I kidnapped you. Again. I’ll let you go right away this time…”
>>
“…” Words died before you could think them, Your throat was hoarse and weak as the will that tried to command them. Fear…this abominable, terrible fear! Of what? Of not having it, of not having what made you who you were…

“You’re shivering. Are you cold? If you’re feeling sick…can you say anything, Richter? Can you hear me?”

No, no, no, no, you needed it, you needed it, you needed it

“I’ll…I’ll get you something to help you sleep. Just wait there.”

-----

Fear was your constant companion. Ever present, ever gnawing. The loud voice did not help, neither did returning to the whorls that stole your being. The feeling of floating, of being shouted at, then returning to silence, then back again…but when you woke next, perhaps the night after, you felt at least…accustomed. You could think about other things. About where you were, about what you wanted, that you were hungry, and tired, and that you needed to be…not here. Not wherever you were. You were needed, but…could you do that anymore? You didn’t even want to leave the bed you were in. That you were alone in…your mind was still discomforting to inhabit, but you had…mostly pulled everything back together. You knew who you were, at least…but what was gone was…gone.
Maybe it was better that way, in the end. You certainly hoped so. It had to have been, to pay for it like this.

The door opened, and you flinched, even though you knew it would just be Signy. As it was.

“Another two days…” she said to herself as she came over and sat by you on the bed, “You’re really worrying me, you know. I don’t really want to have to cut my eye out, right? Ha. Uh. Hm.”

“…”

“You’re shaking less. That means you’re a little better, isn’t it? Do you feel well enough to talk?”

>I need to go back.
>I need to go outside.
>I need my fiancée.
>Just…sit here and talk.
>Other?
>>
>>3804330
>I need to go outside.
>Talk outside
Moving around and getting fresh air might help?
>>
>>3804330
>I need my fiancée.
I WANT MY WIFE!
>>
>>3804330
>>I need my fiancée.
>>
>>3804330
>>I need my fiancée.
>>
>Your combat skill has been obliterated in entirety!
>Your knowledge has been cut in twain!
Nah fuck this. It wasn't worth it.
Good job freedomfags, you broke the conditioning and broke our boy along with it.
>>
>>3804330
>I need my fiancée. and my lawyer
Emma didn't follow us and witness any of this, did she?
>>
>>3804330
>I need to go back
>>
>>3804341
Freedom isn't free my dude.
>>
>>3804330
>>I need to go back.
Really? She kidnapped him again?
>Other?
Stay away Signy. Stay far away.

I hope this was worth it.
>>
>>3804330
>>3804340
>I need to go back.

I'd like to add this into my vote as well, cant see why we cant do both.

First ask for Maddy then ask to go back
>>
>>3804330
>Other
I need fluffy.
>>
>>3804368
It's a case of order of operations. Getting at Maddalyn first means you'll wait for her here, unless you'd want her after going, where it's not Signy's responsibility to care after you anymore.
>>
Ask for Maddy then break down and ask to go back I guess
>>
>>3804330
>>I need my fiancée.
Honestly though once Maddy sees the state Richter is in I wouldn't want to be anywhere nearby if I was Signy.
>>
>>3804330
Add a
>Let me see Rondo
to my vote, if you would chief
>>
>>3804330
>Other?
Just bash our head into the wall, seems that's all we'll be capable of from now on besides chasing tail.
>>
We're so fucked now even the Demiphantom can't take it upon himself to bother us in our sleep anymore. Well done lads.
>>
>>3804450
Actually, trade the Demiphantom to Poltergiest to give us back our previous abilities without the mind control
>>
>>3804461
Do we even remember any of that shit.
Half our "knowledge" is gone afterall.
>>
>>3804474
Wouldn't it be funny if this left us unable to see presence beings anymore hahahahaaaaaa
>>
>>3804525
Was just thinking about that to.
Oh god please I need a sassy ghost gf dont take her away from us Tanq
>>
Lawn half mowed.

>>3804334
Bad dog.

>>3804335
Give
>>3804339
Me
>>3804340
My
>>3804342
Ginger
>>3804391
Midget

>>3804398
And let me see my 2ic.

>>3804368
>>3804356
Fuck I'm late to work.

Writing.

>>3804450
Oh it's still there.
>>3804474
"Knowledge." "Knowledge" was Richter's retaining of facts, history, and other such things. His education whether institutional or self learned. His "Legacy" was his personal memories. Richter does indeed remember that.
>>
>>3804532
Don't worry anon, this irreparable freedom surgery was well thought out. 50 threads in advance, don't you know!
>>
>>3804364
You're in too. Issue restraining order.
>>
>>3804372
And you. Though maybe if you bleached Maddalyn's hair...
>>
>>3804418
Know what I think I lost half my post counting ability. Richter won't be doing that write in but I think I will be.
>>
>>3804548
>Your QM skill has been obliterated in entirety!
>>
“…M-Maddalyn,” you said, your very voice sounding like it wasn’t yours, “I want…my fiancée. My wife.”

Signy blinked at you, then smiled to herself, closing her eyes. “And here you were concerned about those not being the first words out of your mouth. Of course. We’re in a place where I can have that arranged. Sosaldt, of course. Todesfelsen, even. It might be a day or so, though. Your…friend? The one called Rondo Von Metzeler. He’s in the other room, in case you wanted to talk to…” Signy put her hands together and leaned forward, frowning, “…Anybody but me.”

The idea of being alone…frightened you. “If…if you c-could, bring him?”

“…Yeah. I’ll have him brought over. I think he’s doing better than you, if only a little.” Signy rose, “You won’t be left alone for long.” She stepped out and, very quietly, opened and shut the door behind her.

There was a window, but the curtains were closed, daylight filtering through them, so that all you could tell was that it was day outside. You’d have gone and looked, but you didn’t want to walk. You thought to yourself, that you had to return to your men, to Ellowie…but you didn’t want to rise. To do anything but lie there felt like learning to walk again. Could you…at least do that?

Von Metzeler appeared at the door, gave you a short glance, and shuffled over towards the window in a slouching, unsteady gate. His eyes were sunken, and what you remembered to be a man well-groomed and strong and deliberate of step had been turned out, shaken, then had everything put back in. He opened the curtains, stared out, then pulled a stool in the room over, and sat in it, staring outside rather than in. He drank the sunlight like a plant, and no words were exchanged between you until the light dimmed, an unseen cloud passing in front of it.

“It is a strange feeling.” Von Metzeler said, before pausing for a time, and following with, “To be so weak. To remember what I was, and to see myself now. Yet I am light as a feather. I feel oddly lost, but…that may not be so bad.”

Maybe he expected you to say something. You couldn’t think of anything.

Von Metzeler looked at you. “…Do you know that I cannot recall anything before the academy, now? It is all gone. I do not even know if I should be happy or not for it…That look on your face…I remember it from early times. From where it starts now. You were shy. Unthreatening. They called you a forest pixie because you went to the woods instead of socializing, those first months. Did you…forget anything?”

You curled deeper into yourself under the covers. “…No. Not of that sort.” You hadn’t forgotten. Only lost.
>>
“…We will have to return.” Von Metzeler said to the window. He hadn’t been facing you this whole time. “It is our duty to the nation that we swore an oath to. I do not believe, either, that that was what was holding us. That we are freed of…I should hope. Yet, if we must return…there will be those who may look for us…who may not be glad of what has happened. I know not what to do about that, and for the first time in a long time…I am terrified.”

You hadn’t even thought about it. Thinking about it was a step beyond. You did feel obligated- not from any internal reassurance, or a natural instinct, but…you weren’t sure where else to go. Did you have to return? Perhaps you didn’t…but…

“We came here again, to Sosaldt. I suppose it is Mittelsosalia, now. Funny, is it not.” Von Metzeler said to himself. “Your…uncle, I believe. He also stayed here. I wonder if he was like we were, and then was as we are now.”

Your uncle? Oh…right…yes, he did go to Sosaldt, didn’t he. There were missing threads, but when you pulled upon your memories of him, your memories of how you were alike, the things that had happened as a result of him, people he knew…there were missing ends, as though they had been burned off.

“Mmm.”

“…Your uncle stayed. He was known, I believe, as a legend. I fear for our chances, should we return. I wish to go back, however…would that be wise?” Von Metzeler asked doubtfully, “You have not been conversational…but I will wait for as long as you need to answer. It is not as though we are short for time, with how long we have been doing naught but slumbering, and daydreaming…”
You were unsure. You didn’t know if, should you go back, you were capable of your duties. Leadership? Perhaps, in the sense of being there. Of accepting orders on paper, sending them in word, but battle…you had nothing but fear and doubt. Yet…you might be able to learn it once more, couldn’t you? The Richter Von Tracht of another time became the Kommandant of the Republic…or did he?

>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
>We will be hunted. We cannot even trust if we are told otherwise. At least until we can be absolutely certain, what choice do we have but to stay in Mittelsosalia for now? It wasn't as though you could be much help in your state anyways...
>Strossvald was no longer your master. You had been manipulated, tricked, and exploited. Perhaps it had happened to Heller Von Tracht…and perhaps that was why he stayed. And history would repeat itself.
>Other?
>>
>>3804678
>>Strossvald was no longer your master. You had been manipulated, tricked, and exploited. Perhaps it had happened to Heller Von Tracht…and perhaps that was why he stayed. And history would repeat itself.
>>
>>3804678
>Strossvald was no longer your master. You had been manipulated, tricked, and exploited. Perhaps it had happened to Heller Von Tracht…and perhaps that was why he stayed. And history would repeat itself.
Since we sent for maddy, this is the beginning of us kidnapping the archduke's daughter and eloping as we abandon the military and learn how to be a wizard?
>>
>>3804678
>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
Not sure how useful he's gonna be to his country or comrades, but it's our duty to go back. We need to at least finish what we started.
>>
>>3804678
>>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
Here I thought we were free from the shithole of Vinstraga
>>3804684
If only she were the arch dukes daughter...
>>
>>3804678
>>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.

We should defect to the Reich
>>
>>3804678
>>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.

No, fuck Sosaldt and its people forever. Better a firing line then to just play bandit king again.
If there is anything left of Richter it's his goddamn loyalty to his home.
>>
>>3804678
>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
We can't just leave our friends with that gunpoint farewell and expect them to just forget about us We were this close to seeing Malachi's face face without his mask! What we do after we get back to them, well, we'll just have to figure it out as we go.
>>
>>3804678
>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.

For now if we go back to our unit we are far from the Archduchy, surrounded by friends with big guns. We can still make the bigger decisions once we are back on our feet.
>>
>>3804678
>>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
>>
>>3804678
>We must go back. How could we not? It is something we accepted outside of our influences. Conditioning or no, your home was the Archduchy, and your comrades were its army.
Richter is dead, long live Richter
>>
But while this has all gone sideways, I must commend the style of the vote. I think you did a great job structuring the choices and all that tanq. Also, poetry!
>>
>>3804725
Actually, his genuine love for his midget is the thing that has probably survived breaking the conditioning best.
>>
>>3804682
>>3804684
Eloping!

>>3804692
>>3804695
>>3804712
>>3804725
>>3804731
>>3804773
>>3804791
>>3804811
Finish the fight.

Writing. Also other things. Hope it doesn't take me forever, shouldn't.

>>3804837
I'm unsure what precisely you mean, but I appreciate it.
>>
>>3804843
>Hope it doesn't take me forever, shouldn't.
See you boys tomorrow
>>
>>3804847
>tomorrow
>page 10
That's the kind of optimism the need right now
>>
>>3804840
Maddy is gonna be so distraught if she ever finds out Richter mindbreakdoujinshied himself stupid to keep his love for her alive and well.
She already has a hard time understanding why he loves her to start with and here we are deleting Richter's most useful skills to keep our love for her alive.
It might actually break her.
Can't wait for Mr and Mrs Von Punished.
>>
>>3804894
>Maddy is gonna be so distraught if she ever finds out Richter mindbreakdoujinshied himself stupid to keep his love for her alive and well.
Stupid AND weak.

Huh, inadvertently this fulfills his parents wanting to keep him safe.
>>