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/qst/ - Quests

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Welcome back one and all into a new part of our adventure. Events have progressed suddenly, how are you going to adapt? We'll find out soon. In other news my hectic days are finally coming to an end, so more threads are likely to happen as a result. Also, I'll get to work on our promised short story after our thread is over.

Below are our usual lists, with the addition of our Muribel encounters.

Previous Threads

Twitter for schedule updates

Perks and spells for our main character

Characters met by Arawn.

People from Muribel.
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It was an understatement to say today was important. The crown princess arrival wasn't going to be a heartening occasion due to that woman infamous reputation and, most importantly, her role in infesting Shereen soul with that infernal swine prince. Coupled with the death of her herald -no matter how sanctioned that duel was- and you had plenty to worry about...

A pleasant dream remained vivid in your mind as you opened your eyes to the unusual situation of sharing a bed with Shereen and Zhu. (Banu had insisted on occupying the floor after nearly throttling you for creating this harmless situation) Similar mornings happened nearly every day back in Throne Town, Sieglinde had undeniably made you appreciate her little indulgence because this was the best night of sleep you've had since arriving in Muribel. All you needed was to share your bed (platonically) with two women worthy of trust.

Better not think too deeply about that.

A surge of empathy almost made you cup Zhu's cheek. You've had a dream of your past, a completely inconsequential day with your old companions, allowing you to finally put a face on Hecate and, perhaps ever so slowly, put honest emotions behind the spotty history you've got with Klesiah and the spirited swordswoman. Maybe, just maybe, your memory could return organically...

Surprisingly, Zhu hadn't attempted some lewd tomfoolery yesterday despite the silver platter opportunity you've created. A part of you had to admit that bullying Shereen in bed would have been particularly funny but Zhu passed out almost immediately after getting into bed and didn't wake once. Which prompted Shereen to simmer in her false outrage and fall asleep with her back turned to you.

Zhu wounds might have closed but the healing she went through was going to continue taking a toll. Of course, she'll downplay any worries but it'd be wise to avoid any fights until her good health returns...

You'll have to worry about that later. The first thing to do this morning was an important discussion before returning to the palace


''I'd say you two have done a downright stupid thing with antagonizing the nuns like that... but I suppose that's not our chief concern.'' Banu commented sharply after hearing the tale of your adventure with Zhu. ''Not after what you've found.''

The letter you've extracted from the church by following Lady White influence had completely disappeared despite never leaving your pocket -likely an effect from metamorphosing into Gardy as your clothes had also grown thin and dry- but its content had thankfully been unaffected. Resting on a spot uncovered by plates of food (Zhu voracious appetite needed plugging) was a small pearl barely larger than a finger, a pure white sphere that sometimes showed a strange and pretty phenomenon. A tiny piece of glitter sometimes plucked itself away from its surface to crawl upward and disappear in the world ether and what looked to be stars flashed in the stone at random time.
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''How could an astral Pearl of Power have been inside that place?'' Shereen murmured, careful to measure her tone. ''This is... I-I don't know how to describe it, these artifacts are extremely important for my mother. If she had even an inkling of a doubt about anyone in Marleon concealing one...'' She trailed off into silence, stabbing idly into a plate of eggs.

You had enough of a taste of Zerase's general disposition yesterday to understand that a ''bad day'' was dark humor at best to describe the Pharaoh reaction toward the church inhabitants.

''It's my enemy, the fox, the Wound-of-the-World.'' Your statement put a temporary stop to Zhu voracious appetite. ''Either she infiltrated the church and hid that pearl or guided me to rob it from one of the nuns. This also raises another question'' The one that truly puzzled you.

''Two urns empty of ashes, one carried by a nun and the other being in a display...'' Banu summarized, munching on a piece of ham. ''I don't understand why they wouldn't cremate bodies, or fill the urns; those nuns might have many duties but honoring the dead is something Mamonos take seriously. Unfortunately, I doubt we'll have the freedom of launching an official inquiry with Ensan early arrival.'' She ended with a frustrated grunt.

''I wonder...'' Shereen extended one of her fluffed hands toward the sphere, poking it gently then made it roll on the wood. ''...Do you know what Pearls of Powers are, Arawn?''

''Only in broad terms.'' In the olden days, the world had many stranges places of magical manifestations that would naturally produce pearls with time. Something like a volcano would create rubies of fiery magic, an electrified lake could make lightning and water attuned pearls and often such places naturally grew or were artificially made for harvest, becoming the fuel of magic for all the wars of Pretenders.

Such sites, at least those around the Old World and the Allied Kingdoms, had all been extinguished by Mother Earth, any member of the clergy finding them outside her influence would do similar work.

''Muribel has a place that produces pearls naturally.'' Shereen said quietly, almost through gritted teeth. ''I don't... know where but I understand that it is attuned with the magic of death, necromancy.''

Now that is a chilling implication if one is to believe hundreds of corpses have gone missing... Your mind drifted briefly toward the hints given to you by Ama: the Pearls of Powers are a vital facet of her game. You could have deduced that on your own easily enough but having the devil herself say it gave this little white sphere an ominous projection.

''I'm not accusing them of concealing one.'' Shereen added quickly. ''It's rather odd what they are doing so... it was a simple thought.'' With careful gentleness, Shereen pinched the glittering white pearl with her furred digits and leaned on the table to reach you, letting the magical sphere fall into your palm.
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''I'd like you to keep it.'' She announced, grinning. ''I don't think astral pearls can work with blood magic so I'd rather you keep it.''

''Shereen...'' Her display of trust was genuinely touching, soft carmine settled on her cheek after a few seconds of staring, resulting in crossing arms and a huff of usual false annoyance.

''It's the practical solution.'' She ignored Zhu rumbling chuckle and began to nibble on some scrambled eggs. ''You're a mage who can create actual spells. The only thing I know about astral pearls is they can rejuvenate your organic batteries but there are other ways to use that little stone. I think.''

''It is likely connected to the sky and the stars, our constellations...'' You continued, closing your fist around the shiny sphere. Trepidations almost fooled you into sensing some kind of pulse coming out of it, despite its appearance it wasn't showing or projecting any additional phenomenons. ''...Guess the only thing we can do is some research for finding out more.''

Magic went through a fundamental change since antiquity, back then these pearls were the fuels for wizardry, spells possessed much, much more permanency in the world but weren't as potent in combat. At least, according to the books you've read. This little pearl... What kind of things could you do with it today?

''Say.'' Zhu spoke, interrupting herself with a sudden yawn. ''Wew, sorry. Anyway, I think Fortune oughta know what happened at the church too. Dunno if it'll help but were supposed to be buddies right? Might be a piece of a puzzle that'll help later on.''

''Hm... I'd rather we do something about it ourselves.'' Banu crossed her arms. ''But there's no telling when or if we'll be able to.''

Shereen grimace made it obvious that she was trying to forget her sister's arrival. ''I don't know... let's not say anything about the pearl.'' Said your little liege, watching you pocket the mentioned item.

You want to believe that triumphing over a demon prince had forged a solid bond of friendship between everyone that participated in this feat... But your allies were members of the Vigil and the strongest combatants of a gang. Is it prudent to get closer?

>Agree with Zhu. Acting in good faith isn't a bad idea; forewarned is forearmed.
>Disagree, at least for now. You'll likely be indisposed for the near future, if Fortune decides to do something, it could be regrettable.
>Agree with Zhu. Acting in good faith isn't a bad idea; forewarned is forearmed.
Fortune isn't tied down with red tape and bureaucracy, so she'll be able to act faster. Less time for the nuns to prep, I would think.

>The only thing I know about astral pearls is they can rejuvenate your organic batteries but there are other ways to use that little stone. I think.''
Aaaa, if only we were more informed of Magitek's workings. I bet we could make all kinds of nifty things with the help of that Pearl.
Ah well, all in due time. We'll have to see if we can experiment on making spells with the Pearl in a way that won't draw much attention.
It'll be tough to research additional uses of that pearl... but all in due time.

We'll proceed with Ensan arrival after this vote, so I think it can stay open for quite a while since the discussion with Fortune doesn't need to happen actively... unless you guys insist on doing something I didn't forsee.
So Mother Earth extinguishes any and all sources of pearls eh? Well, sounds like they're basically magical nukes of whatever element/origin they're attuned to so I get it kinda but you'd think she'd just seal em' off, hoard the things for herself like a greedy dragon, and then hand them out only to those who have proven themselves prudent, virtuous, and very much "faithful" in regards to herself. Same'd go for Father Sky, if he's even still around in any meaningful fashion.

Not only that, there's one here that she hasn't extinguished for some reason and is pumping out *necromancy* pearls is very, very disturbing. Fortune's prophecy would be easily accomplished if an enterprising mad magus got access to that. Kill a whole damn nation and raise em' all as undead bound to your will? Eminently possible. I fear we've got a wannabe Nagash on the loose up in here. Prime suspect is Ensan but the Blue Oni Bastard's still around, could be his plan.

Any way to hide the pearl's emissions? Betting Ensan and Big Mommy Snake have a Pearl Radar and we do not want to be caught with one by them (or for them to even suspect we have one). It may also allow us to access "constellation" magic. I think "Aegis" was one of them, we ought to have a natural affinity for it at the least so that'd be a useful line of inquiry/research/experimentation whenever outside the palace. Well outside, once we're sure we've shaken any potential spies from Ensan.

At least it's base function allows us to safely engage in fusions so long as we get time to "recharge" our batteries. Which means you're about to throw shit at us that'll basically require them for everyone to survive. I'm scared now.
Oh, also, was there a letter in that envelope and did it say anything? And in regards to spilling the beans to Fortune, we won't tell her about that pearl just now right? Besides that, what would we end up telling her?
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>Any way to hide the pearl's emissions?

If you mean the physical shiny manifestation, keeping it inside your pocket is more than enough. If you believe they actually emit some kind of magic that can be traced... well, you'll need to find that answer on your own.

>It may also allow us to access "constellation" magic. I think "Aegis" was one of them

Drawing magic from the stars is a field of study but a rather... poor one, at least in this day and age.

Now now, a good fight need some build-up. Mister pig was a semi-hidden one, ambushes like that won't happen often.

>Oh, also, was there a letter in that envelope and did it say anything?
You guys were far too paranoid to open it. If there was a message, it's gone now.
>we won't tell her about that pearl just now right?
No, unless you guys actively want to tell her. Everyone in the party is off the mind to conceal the pearl discovery.
>Besides that, what would we end up telling her?
Your adventure in the church itself without explaining what motivated you to get in there. You'll reveal the lack of ashes in the urns.
No explanation as to why we bothered to break into the church? Wouldn't that piss some people off? Breaking into a sacred site because of a mere "feeling" or somesuch?
Fortune will be the only person present if that'll piss her off... impossible to tell for now. Arawn will just be vague about what motivated him to go in there, telling her something along the line of ''I've had some suspicion about them since my arrival'' which isn't a lie.
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>You guys were far too paranoid to open it. If there was a message, it's gone now.
Ahh fuck, I can't believe we played ourselves

>Drawing magic from the stars is a field of study but a rather... poor one, at least in this day and age.
Define 'poor one'. As in, it's a poor field of study because it's very underdeveloped or poor because people will laugh in your face for studying such "magicks"
Well, so long as she won't start laying nuns out on the street without some damn good evidence to show why they had it coming I can agree with informing her in the way you mentioned.

She'll still be able to tell we're hiding something but it'll be a step in the "trust" direction. Besides, it's safer for *her* if she doesn't know. Again, we might trust them, but what you don't know can't be extracted from your mind forcibly through mind/soul fuckery. The Fox, her allies, and likely Ensan likely have access to said fuckery.

I did mean to ask about that now that I think about it. Did our transformation delete the letter's contents because it deleted Ama's influence? Or do we still have the thing but have yet refused to open it because of our paranoia?
>Define 'poor one'. As in, it's a poor field of study because it's very underdeveloped or poor because people will laugh in your face for studying such "magicks"

Mostly the first one. Constellations are held as Father Sky domain so drawing magic from there is considered ''divine'' but it is extremely difficult for anyone that isn't a natural ''astral mage'' to use reliably. As you can expect, these individuals are extremely rare. The general belief holds constellation magic as an inefficient field of study and use of magic, and that's in the Allied Kingdoms itself where Father Sky dogma is close to a majority.

>Did our transformation delete the letter's contents because it deleted Ama's influence?
Who knows...
>Or do we still have the thing but have yet refused to open it because of our paranoia?
The letter is 100% gone, leaving only the pearl behind. You guys were simply too paranoid to open it even after Shereen blood inspection.
Drat. We probably would have opened it now after everything but it was a thing influenced by Ama. She wants us to spill yet more beans in the future and we did enter the red world with the thing technically. Red world's basically her domain so she filched it while we were busy with Porky the Great Unclean One. That or our use of fire magic to enchant our mechanical body incinerated it. Fuck, should have specified to keep that part of ourselves cool somehow. Might not have been possible with how little mana we had remaining though.

She's probably going to throw this in our face later and offer to give us that message we missed for the small, small price of another memory that interests her. Or some other price she finds amusing. Assuming it'd even be the actual message that is. Damnable Bad Fluffy.
I honestly missed the part of there being a written letter in there. I'm unobservant apparently.
To be fair, nothing hinted at being anything written. When Arawn touched the letter, all he felt was the round protrusion of the pearl.
''Let's warn Fortune before leaving.'' You spoke, met with unanimous nods. ''Then... I suppose we'll need to reach the docks quickly.''

Banu and Shereen shared a rare grimace. This older sister wasn't a bearer of good memories.


The sharp noise of gongs resounded throughout the area, accompanied by loud proclamations. ''Hail her majesty return! Hail the soul of our lives!'' These sentences reverberated well outside the busy inner port of the palace grounds, people from servants to travelers had gathered around the docks to make a colorful crowd.

Three large vessels had sailed to port, all of them sharing the same design. Big enough to easily accommodate a hundred crews, the numerous sails had been replaced by a spiderweb of ropes that were being inspected by a handful of flying harpies. On the long deck was a small number of stern humanoid lizard monsters overseeing the discharge of goods - mostly food and water- out of the innards of all three boats: the resounding announcement went on a few more times, making you wonder if the Pharaoh herself was going to come... but ultimately Shereen and her Moons were to be the only notable hosts of the crown princess arrival.

You, Banu, your little sun and Zhu were the only people from the mainland on the docks, the amassing crowd stood almost completely still in genuine dread with enough people standing that it almost made a direct line into the palace itself. Neither Banu and Shereen knew anything about this naval adventure, leaving you to grab onto your shield and brace for the worst.

''Her holiness is back where she belongs, praise be!'' This bellow came from a woman standing on the middle boat. Her body was mixed with a scorpion with an exoskeleton colored bright red instead of the organic brownish-black color of that peculiar monstrous race. Turning to observe the innards of the ship whilst the crew lined side by side dutifully, a strange group of people climbed up the stairs and, at first, you were struck by such intense disbelief that your mind barely registered reality.

''Oooh, big sis got busy.'' Zhu remarks jolted your consciousness.

Slowly walking out of the ship, arrayed in a single line and completely naked was a group of slaves. Led by a tough-looking lizardwoman holding onto a leading chain, men walked forward with the reluctance of beaten dogs. Large collars of iron were clapped around their necks with chains liking to one another, manacles fastened on their wrists and a cloth around their eyes blinded them to the world with another around their mouths silencing them. All of them bearded with wild unkempt hair ranging between blond, brown and red, marks of battles and tattoos on their naked skins marking them as evident warriors.

These men... didn't look to be from the Allied Kingdoms.
Close to a hundred men walked out of the ship bowels, coming out in a serpentine line oftentimes flanked by pairs of Mamonos slavers. Led by a lizardwoman vanguard, the woman expertly navigated around Shereen and made these unfortunate souls line up in pairs some distance away from the boat.

''Welcome home, your holiness!'' The scorpion woman on the deck yelled and lowered herself with such strength that her body slamming on the wood echoed violently. This sentence was repeated by the crowd in a powerful wave carried well beyond the palace.

Ensan walked up casually, a tall, powerful and beautiful woman that could potentially rival -but not quite match- her mother overwhelming presence. Unlike the Pharaoh, the crown princess looked completely human with no trace of Corruption, her wholly human body was the fantasy of kings. Well-built, well-sculpted, perfectly groomed... long purple-dark hair fell around her silhouette, almost opening like a beetle wing. Almost naked to the sun, her garbs were little more than leathery undergarments, her skin marked by red luscious tattoos to enhance the allure of her naturally bronze skin. Two golden rings around her middle fingers supported a silky pink cape behind her, two other pieces of jewelry were attached to her arms: a pair of golden bracelets shaped like snakes were adequate images indeed for this gorgeously dangerous woman.

Shereen wasn't looking at her sister, her gaze was firmly rooted on the ground.

With a slow, long gait Ensan walked at the edge of the deck facing the crowd, the slaves, and her kin. You noticed that she was holding onto a chain, the person behind her being unfortunately masked by her body and the pair of guards -scorpions woman- beside her.

Everyone that wasn't armed promptly fell on their knees. You and Zhu sought quick guidance from Banu and, fortunately, she shook her head and so you remained standing.

''My dears Mamonos.'' The silence was so intense that Ensan didn't need to raise her voice. ''I believe it's time to open a new market of Moons, look forward to the next few weeks. All of you deserve it.''

A powerful round of applause followed from the citizens, feeling much more forced than genuine to your ears. All the captured men were also made to applause with more than a few resisting and getting whipped by sticks as a result.

Ensan tugged at the chain she held and the person behind her almost tripped and, as she slowly walked down the ramp, you finally got a good luck at who she was personally leading.

It was a young woman off, you'd say, eighteen or nineteen summers based on her build and height. Completely naked and shackled like the males, long, gorgeous blond hair stuck to her body which, you noticed, had been completely drenched. Her pale skin was thankfully freed of blemishes or traces of tortures, yet somehow this girl tingled a sense of familiarity... How? Did you meet a long-haired short blond before?
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As Ensan walked slowly with dwindling applauses, you gave the girl a silent apology and examined her intensely, trying your best to kindle your memory...

''!?'' You nearly screamed when the realization hit you like a dagger in the back. Held in chain, naked and enslaved was Anais Swanhil Wilhelmina the heir of Kreszenz, the girl who helped you deal with the dilemma of the Mamono slaves and, inadvertently, helped you reunite with Klesiah. Now she's... how in the world!?

Ensan stopped upon reaching the line made by Shereen and her moons, silently inspecting every comraded of her little sister with a hateful little satisfied smirk. Your face was likely a mess, try as you want to be stoic, seeing enchained, naked, gagged and blind with a pair of manacles, led around like a dog... It was a small mercy that Ensan hasn't revealed who the girl was.

''Hehe, good day to you too.'' Said the crown princess, petting her little sister between the ears. ''Enjoyed yourself?''

For some reason Shereen let out a small yelp, her body tensed with enough intensity to cause a cramp and Ensan leisurely let go, walking around her kin and leading her prized slave without any further remarks.

Mother's Mercy... Thankfully you won't need to remain here much longer. What should be done when yo uget back into Shereen quarters?

>Inform the girls about Anais existence as soon as you can.
>You'll likely be summoned in the throne room once Ensan finds out about her herald. It might be best to avoid putting too much on Shereen shoulder for now; take a wait and see approach for now.
>Be pragmatic, get to know your resources immediately, however meager they are.
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Well now, looks like Kreszenz got wiped the fuck out somehow. Hard to see exactly how given the alliance with Gwen and Daiyu but a even if it was not a deal with Ama and the use of a pearl would enable the young one to be taken despite even the greatest of safety protocols. We got taken from Zipangu's inner sanctum after all somehow so this level of fuckery is well within Bad Fluffy's capacity.

Our only potential saving grace right now is that Ama loves her drama and games and may have simply promised/presented her with "a wonderful blood sacrifice/valuable catalyst" without informing her as to who exactly she truly is.

Her blood is remarkably useful/potent in regards to blood rituals and naturally draws in red world entities and cosmic horrors from the swamp if I remember. She is likely a keystone to the bad end as her+necromancy pearl pool+blood ritual=Nagash Tier Necromantic BS at minimum. We thus cannot allow Enasn to do as she pleases with her. Can we inform Banu and/or Zhu about this and see what she thinks we should do? Any way to do that with zero chance of Shereen or anyone else finding out about that unless Banu thinks we need to "go loud" in the face of this revelation?
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>Inform Banu of Anais
>Get to know your resources

>Anais Swanhil Wilhelmina, the heir of Kresznez
What the hell went down when we were comatose?!
That Duchess What's-The-Bitch's-Name that we snagged the Mamono slaves from in the Moot is somehow responsible, isn't she? Goddamn, the stakes of our situation keep on getting higher. We are NOT leaving Anais here if we have any say on the matter!
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>Well now, looks like Kreszenz got wiped the fuck out somehow.
While I'm not at liberty to confirm or deny anything that's a... strong presumption.

>Can we inform Banu and/or Zhu about this and see what she thinks we should do?
Ties with the first option, so it's possible.
>Any way to do that with zero chance of Shereen or anyone else finding out about that unless Banu thinks we need to "go loud" in the face of this revelation?
That, however, won't be done. Shereen will be made to know about who Anais is if you want to reveal her identity; Zhu will be your only way to keep it semi-quiet within your group. Though... I suppose you can pull Banu aside and try to convince her about keeping quiet.

Teehee. Poor little Anais...
Hm, I think the compromise here will be to take Banu aside to inform her about Anais, whether Shereen and Zhu should know will happen afterward.
Poor Ensan's more like it. Bitch is now 100 percent on the "to kill" list. Not that she wasn't before with the whole Porky BS, but talk about requesting a top of the line mining drill in order to dig yourself deeper into that hole.

And yes, we do try to pull Banu aside and see if we can't keep this down at least until after we've settled things a bit with the dead herald situation. If Ensan finds out Shereen herself gives a shit about Anais she will be killed/sacrificed immediately because petty bitch is petty.

Like the other anon said, Gremory I believe was her name, had a part in this. Her nation likes slavery, this nation like slavery, sell off members of enemy nation (including nobles and royalty) into slavery for more money and diplomatic/military ties. No brainer. I thought she hated monstergirls though. She just sell off the hubbies of such and keep the rest? I could see that petty evil wretch doing something that bad. Selling mamono hubbies "down the river." Such a crime cannot go unanswered.

Boy oh boy, that list of people in need of deadening just keeps getting longer, bolder, more underlined, and with larger texts. We're going to have a full on "book of grudges" by the end of this it would seem. Wonder if the Dwarves here have one of those....

We can also get to know our resources if we do this right?
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>We can also get to know our resources if we do this right?
Hm, I think so. I'll have to see how the text/choices pan out. I'll see about adding that info if it fits.
>Wonder if the Dwarves here have one of those....
Speaking of Dwarves, I can't wait to meet some. Think of all the crazy Dwarven engineering/blacksmithing/craftsmanship secrets we could learn!
Well, provided we can get past the renowned Dwarven stubborness...
Not to mention the Elves vs. Dwarfs rivalry, assuming said races have a such rivalry here.

>Gremory I believe was her name
Oh, yes, thank you for reminding me. However, I shall henceforth refer to her as Bitchface McGee.
>I thought she hated monstergirls though
She doesn't have to sell slaves directly to Mamonos, and I doubt she sells slaves personally. A royal bitch like that no doubt delegates such dirty tasks to her servants. Hell, she might not even know WHO Anais was sold off to!
PING WHILE WE CAN SEE HER. We can potentially not get tagged if she can feel it due to the crowd, but if we're in the Palace that will be harder.
Also. Is the Gympie Gympie Plant a thing in your world? We need to get some of that shit at this rate.
Shit, I forgot about that. Second. Scan Ensan with the aspect now. We gotta confirm our suspicions.
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It took thirty more minutes of standing around in dumb silence before returning into your little sun quarter. During this time, Shereen had to pay lip service to her kin and congratulate her sickening achievement about bringing a hundred male slaves into Muribel. All this while, Ensan walked Anais around like a dog, keeping her veiled and gagged, tugging her leash without warning, making the poor naked princess fall a few times which elicited gaggles of laughter from the crowd. It took every ounce of your willpower to stay still and endure the urge of walking up and tearing off the clothes keeping Anais blind.

Unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened. No slip, no peek, nothing to give her at least the hope of seeing you and understanding that she wasn't completely alone in a foreign land. She endured humiliation in silence, keeping herself as tall and solid as possible when she wasn't blindsided by a tug of her collar.

How in the world...?


Walking back into your area of the palace felt like a funeral procession. Nobody said anything, nobody outside your circle tried to impede your group progress; a few maids lingered the area of Shereen quarters but they were quick to clear out.

''Shereen, Zhu.'' You broke the silence, sliding your shield off your arm to let it rest on the wall. ''Can you go inside? I'd like to speak with Banu.''

''Oh? Shouldn't we be a happy little family without any secrets?'' Zhu protest created an unreasonable surge of anger. She smirked in amusement when you glared at her, audibly running her tongue along her lips.

''It's okay.'' Shereen tugged her new moon sleeve. ''Let's find you a collar and make sure it doesn't work.'' She opened the door and gently bent down to grab her cat greeting his mistress with a lazy mewl. Zhu followed, shrugging at you and closed the door.

''I don't think keeping secrets now is a good idea.'' Banu commented. ''We're all on edge.''

''The blond girl Ensan led around like a dog is princess Anais Swanhil Wilhelmina of the queendom of Kreszenz.'' Banu's face of stoic stone broke in a rare case of overwhelming disbelief. ''We... I can't let her become a slave -or worse- to some godsforsaken woman. that girl blood is highly unusual, it attracts creature from the Red World and could likely be used in some kind of ritual to-''

''Slow down.'' Banu took a few steps closer and shook your shoulder firmly. ''Calm down, too. If Ensan has such a prodigious slave, then I doubt she'll waste the girl's potential on a whim; this should ironically make her safe.''

''Banu, we've got to... we -need- to do something, this is the princess of Kresenz were talking about!'' Honestly, the girl counted as a friend to you. Your meeting had been rather sudden and you haven't seen her after the debacle with the slave but... Anais is a good girl, a strong-minded, mischievous princess that made for great company.
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''Get used to the fact that we can't do anything.'' You grabbed onto her arm with your metal covered hand. She remained stoic to your grip and grimace.

''Anais will likely become one of Ensan Moons; that's the only fate I can think of for a girl of such pristine pedigree. That means she'll be in Ensan personal quarters, that's not a place anyone connected to Shereen can go. Forget about getting inside; it might have been possible before her arrival but now that's she's back?'' Banu shook her head.

''What... do we even have? Can we do anything at all?'' You took a few steps away, leaning on the wall as reality set in. You're tied with Shereen Roshanak, a little bird stuck in a golden cage. She doesn't have Sieglinde resources, you've seen for yourself how insignificant the authority of your little sun truly is...

Is this what Banu has been stuck with for decades?

A long enough silence made you observe the older woman who, in another rare display of emotion, showed genuine hesitation.

''Banu...'' You took a few steps closer. ''...Were going to trust one another right? After yesterday's triumph?''

Her single eye focused on you for a moment, then she breathed in deeply. ''Yeah.'' She nodded. ''The only thing we have is money. I've always suspected that Ensan would arbitrarily cut Shereen weekly allowance so I've always hidden half of it inside a dugout space in her wall. Shereen herself isn't much of a spender too, our amassed funds are.. significant.'' Banu cleared her throat, minding the volume of her voice as she stared at the closed doors. ''I intended these funds to be Shereen safety net. If the worse happens, she'd be able to live comfortably in Throne Town with all of that money... As it is now, I'd wager it'd be enough to hire a strong mercenary company for a few months.''

''Nothing like that operate in Muribel, right?'' Banu nodded sadly. ''Great.''

Get used to helplessness...

''Now, I think we should inform Shereen and Zhu about that.'' Banu exclaimed and put a finger on your lips as you were about to protest. ''Trust your Sun for goodness sake. Shereen has grown used to her sister, she won't do anything stupid enough to jeopardize Anais safety.''

...Honestly, you couldn't find any retort.

Unless you can find a convincing argument, Anais and Zhu will be informed of what you told Banu.

>Since you have no initiative to do anything toward Ensan, things remain fairly open and thus, choices of actions are widely spread.

>Work out your frustration with some training? (Weapons/Hands-to-hands/Magical)
>Do some Magitek with the girls, you don't have the resources to produce anything else but perhaps you could find some new quirk with your gauntlet...
>Inform them about Gardy and the general situation that allowed your fusion. Zhu is dying to know at least, so that'll make for a good discussion.

Arawn can't feel Ama influence in his radius.
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>Is the Gympie Gympie Plant
I never knew about that until today. I'd say it does exist but given its location, it's an unknown plant, so completely unconsequential.
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Oh yeah, I forgot to add that it'll be our ending point for tonight. I'll get back into the swing of writing longer soon enough.
We're going to get that information to Anais? nice.
>Do some Magitek with the girls, you don't have the resources to produce anything else but perhaps you could find some new quirk with your gauntlet...
Think cruel thoughts, use our anger to think about malicious uses of our gauntlet's abilities.
Curses, foiled again.
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>We're going to get that information to Anais?
Noooooo I meant Shereen. This really is a good time to stop.
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Geez, Ensan alone makes me want to overthrow Muribel's royal family.

>Work out your frustration with some training?(Magical)
We're *really* lacking in the magic department when it comes to skill. One training session won't do much, of course but it will add up in the end.

...well, I've no good argument for keeping Zhu and Shereen in the dark. So long as they're informed in Shereen's private quarters or anywhere else where it's unlikely for outsiders to hear of it. I'd rather not risk spreading Anais' identity.

Oooph, I should have hit the hay *hours* ago. Worth it though.
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>Suicide Plant
Oh my, we're getting downright vindictive here. I normally wouldn't like it, but Ensan's trying to out-dick Ama, Eldrad, and Nagash ATM so yeah, bitch has the absolute worst we can imagine coming with a content smile and no lost sleep.

However, her death, certain and final, is to be prioritized. Going for "satisfaction" is a great way to ensure they get rescued or survive somehow. Not risking that here, just like with Ama.

>Anais and Zhu
I think you meant Shereen and Zhu.

We need to train our magical ability. A second soul arm would be quite handy. Could we learn how to "reinforce" others? Perhaps even try to skip ahead a bit and learn "weaponize soul" somehow? Maybe even go for the final tier of measurement so we never have to worry about botched rolls of that sort ever again?

Also, how long would it take to explain the whole Gardy thing and how certain can we be that nobody else will find out about that? I'm sure Shereen will spill just about everything later but if we can get it out of the way quickly for now so we can plan later we might as well.

Finally, it ain't mercenaries we need, it's rogues/spies/thief types. Too bad the likes of Styx and Garrett ain't exactly in the phone book. We got more than enough dosh to hire those types for this kind of job (either Rescue Anais or Assassinate Ensan) but if you can't even contact em' to make the offer than it's a moot point.
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>A second soul arm would be quite handy.
More than possible if you train for it.
>Could we learn how to "reinforce" others?
As in replacing soul reinforcement? Absolutely not. Soul Reinforcement is far, far too tied with the subject will for your magic to be effective. It is, however, possible to do something similar to an enchantment of strength or speed.

>Perhaps even try to skip ahead a bit and learn "weaponize soul" somehow?
Well... I'll give you a maybe.

>Maybe even go for the final tier of measurement so we never have to worry about botched rolls of that sort ever again?
Possible. Arawn has gotten quite used to measurement, so training there could finalize the perk entirely.

>Also, how long would it take to explain the whole Gardy thing and how certain can we be that nobody else will find out about that?
It'll take a little while but it won't be long enough for things to progress into afternoon, so you'll be open for more discussion. As for keeping things quiet, Shereen room is wide with a fancy open roof but Banu can inspect the outside of the room itself here and there to prevent peeping tom. There are only two doors so keeping yourself away from that will help immensely.

If magical training is our choice, then I'll open more choices in that area tomorrow so there's no need to commit entirely on what to do here tonight.

Glad to have you anon!
Injecting the needles into her system alongside capsaicin would allow them to embed throughout her circulatory system, cause nerve damage, and bestow immeasurable pain while also making microtears in every surface they contact. Internal bleeding, nervous system overload, and nerve/tissue damage stopping proper heart function. Obviously that would have been our sneaky breaky assassin option, or an opening move to make sure she WILL die, not the only plan.
Or add it to her meal.
Just remembered more stuff. Anais had a personal guard/maid who may or may not have been a mechanical construct/anti-horror weapon. I cannot imagine her being taken without her either dying or being destroyed in the process. If she were disabled somehow instead she's going to be searching for her once she ensured it cannot happen again.

Her mother was a business genius who made Kreszenz wealthy. A nations wealth is the wealth of its monarch. I doubt any expense has been spared in regards to the search. There are other possibilities, but I refuse to feed them to you for they are truly and horrifically terrifying/awful by Warhammer standards and this is already bad enough as is.

I swear it's almost like Ensan and Ama *want* this nation to get targeted by every major power they can manage to get it targeted by for brutal conquest if not outright annihilation. If Ensan's going for what I think she is that makes total sense honestly, which worries me greatly.

We don't have the resources or knowledge to do this ATM but if we can swing it somehow in the future you have my vote. If we can ensure she dies with absolute certainty *while* making her suffer immeasurably I'm all for it.

It's even in character. There was a single instance in the past we asked Zhu to be cruel. Ensan has most certainly passed that threshold with this. We will be cruel. Very, oh so very cruel if we can secure the certain kill on top of it. Unless we somehow revive/retrieve Gardy's ego before that and he asks us to be quick and clean. We owe him so if he says no cruelty then no cruelty. Assuming *if* he's there to stop us and that he even can be "revived" as it were. Damn I miss him, really hope he isn't gone forever.
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The first google doc about characters has a brief description about the Kreszenz folks, feel free to read it to refresh your memories.

How the outside world will respond to this event remains to be seen but... since Ensan came off a boat she might have held Anais for a few days, who knows?
We may also have the opportunity to have Shereen talk with Zerase, in order to confirm that this is actually above board, because this seems to be a little beyond simple raiding, and straying into deliberately provoking an invasion.

Maybe she tires of waiting for her mother to die, so she can ascend the throne, after all if she was distracted by an invasion by a coalition of concerned nations that have had people taken in previous raids it would provide perfect cover for her to orchestrate her mothers death, especially if she doesn't think she can mange it on her own, then ascend the throne and begin the negotiating process, since i don't see her mother as someone that would back down in any circumstance.
Ok, that "convincing argument" you spoke of. How "petty" is Ensan? If she's Gremory-tier than boom, secret kept until after the next encounter.

Willing to bet Ensan can read when Shereen's about to grow a spine and then smack it back into the pulp she likes it to be in. Her Herald knew of that fact as well and got blindsided when she not only maintained her spinal fortitude but threw a warrior at him that so utterly outclassed his ass that not even his ultimate attack, fully buffed with all his might on top of that, managed to even phase her in the slightest. Like emptying a clip of 9mm rounds into a tank. A barely noticeable dent, nothing more. Kudos for effort though.

Ensan and, by extension, her herald most certainly didn't see that coming at all. Willing to bet her next ritual with Anais's blood boosting it will reveal yet another "Oh shit" moment for her. Namely, that Porky is so dead not even bestest blood ever manages to register a response. Query: if we "fuel" Shereen's magic will that give her bonuses to "noticing" things? Because Anais's blood is essentially that. Soul+blood magic. Only unlike with Ensan, we'll be cooperating with the best of intentions. Ensan+Anais will be operating from an antagonistic dynamic.

While Ensan tends to "break" her moons to her will, I think Anais had a particularly strong one. She won't just "give in" anytime soon if I'm correct about her.
Also, I just thought of this. Like I said, we need a Garrett/Styx to really turn the tide here in a direct fashion.

Fortune would have those types on her contact list I'd bet. It'd be a risk to be sure but let's hope they have a sense of morals if only in the loosest of senses (i.e. they're like Zhu, only valuing the challenge of Stealth and mastery over the challenge of Violent Combat and, of course, the payment if they should succeed in one form or another).
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>Ok, that "convincing argument" you spoke of. How "petty" is Ensan?
Ultimately, that's something you'll have to find out. Based on how Banu described her, it'd be fairer to say she's more sadistic than petty.

>if we "fuel" Shereen's magic will that give her bonuses to "noticing" things?
This is something that will need an active trial to answer. You've sourced Shereen magic once but she hasn't actively tried to do any magic (yet) that way. Given how soul and blood magic intertwine so organically, you'll need to see for yourself what kind of side effect that'll bring.

Piggy didn't allow you to get any clues about that.

Well, if you have a chance to meet Fortune soon, you can ask... Learning about the nuns certainly gave her some perspective. Time for bed.

So far we have one hard vote for Magitek

And one for magical training

Let's see how the tie is broken tomorrow.
I doubt we can combine the two a-la we try to see what happens quickly if we try to cast "homing lightning" while on "plasma beam" mode but hey, worth an inquiry.

Unless I state otherwise later I vote we go for another magical spell. Preferably while also trying to quickly test a magitek theory but hey, details. Additional Query: if we try to go for a refuel from the pearl how obvious is that? As it's apparently linked to Constellations do we get a bonus to being subtle about it after nightfall?
Refuel via pearl is quick, that's the only hint you'll get.
If we use up some of our stores while trying out spells or something, we could test out recharging function the pearl.
Over the coming days and nights we may also want to try and puzzle our how a potential response would get here if one is coming, and use our resources to do damage to the defenses (have Naveed and his squad convince some of the gate guards to open their gate, or go out one night and set fire to some of Ensan's ships, or plot out the various port / docks installations / defensive infrastructure and patrol timings )

After all Ama's local cell has likely had ample time to prepare an ambush, and all of this could be the bait to draw in certain interested / opposing parties and force them to overextend.
So if we learn in character that Ensan loves to be a sadistic cunt we can gain a bonus to a roll to resist showing that we vehemently disapprove if she tries to test that on us or Shereen yes?

If we had known that we probably wouldn't have handed Ensan those satisfaction points upon seeing Anais being dragged around like a dog yes? On the other hand, best to look like we're a chronically and stupendously and stupidly chivalrous Elf in regards to Anais given how we failed to remain stoic on the docks yes?

Young human female enslaved... No bueno for our kind yeah?
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>So if we learn in character that Ensan loves to be a sadistic cunt we can gain a bonus to a roll to resist showing that we vehemently disapprove if she tries to test that on us or Shereen yes?
I'm not sure I get what you are trying to say here. I'll tell you if you get a modifier over certain roll toward Ensan or not.
>If we had known that we probably wouldn't have handed Ensan those satisfaction points upon seeing Anais being dragged around like a dog yes?
Not really, Arawn looked like he was strangling on his tongue when he found out who her slave was, whether or not Ensan cared about that remains to be seen since she only acknowledged Shereen's presence.
>On the other hand, best to look like we're a chronically and stupendously and stupidly chivalrous Elf in regards to Anais given how we failed to remain stoic on the docks yes?
Maybe? It's up to you if you want to take that attitude.
>Young human female enslaved... No bueno for our kind yeah?
Technically, Shereen committed one of the worst taboo imaginable by making you a slave so she's in a worst spot than her big sister!
Bed for real this time. Calm down a little anon, you'll have my permission to panic soon enough.
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''Alright...'' Banu wasn't going to budge from her stance, that incredible stoicism of hers made it difficult -if not impossible- to properly gauge her mindset. ''...I guess I've overreacted.''

You still feared that telling anybody else would be some kind of mistake. Worst of all is that Anais would be the one to pay for that.

''I don't think anybody would have been able to predict this kind of situation, that you've been able to control yourself so well during Ensan arrival is impressive.'' Her hand tapped your shoulder gently. ''I believe we should remain strong and truthful to one another in these circumstances. I don't think Zerase will be able to ignore the fact that such an important girl is in Ensan clutches... but that's only wishful thinking on my part. Let's not do anything rash for the time being.''

In the end, at least today, you didn't have any initiative. Ensan had arrived with a hundred slaves and what looked to be twice that number as personal armed force, lying low truly was the best option; it'd at least tell that Shereen wasn't ashamed of having defended her honor against the herald. If your little sun shows that she's grown a spine, perhaps that'll direct Ensan attention away from Anais...

You blinked in momentary surprise when the noise of Shereen opening door brought you out of your thoughts, Banu had already stepped inside and gathered the two girls for a talk.

With one last inspection of the deserted corridor, you followed, closing the door behind you.


''So that's why you looked as if you've swallowed your tongue.'' Zhu commented after hearing what happened. ''A bug out bag of riches too huh? Pretty good thinking, grandma.''

''I swear, I'm gonna find a paddle and slap you every time you use that word.'' Zhu giggled at the remark, making a show of patting her cheek.

''This is... so odd.'' Shereen gentle voice brought the fragile good mood into an unfortunate end. She remained seated, grabbing her cat, gazing listlessly at the table. ''Muribel has always been at war with the Allied Kingdoms but the conflict has been completely cold for almost a decade, why would...? Kidnapping the princess of Kreszenz and making her a Moon isn't something that'll go without consequences.''

Furthermore, you thought grimly, was the fact that the Allied Kingdoms were a powderkeg of tension ready to blow at a moment notice because of the Demon Lord war on the Cursed Swamp. If the new that Kreszenz sole heir had been whisked away by monsters start to spread, something wholly unreasonable could happen as a reaction.

''I'd... I'd like to help Anais somehow if the opportunity arises.'' You spoke frankly, earning the girls gaze. ''She helped me reunite with one of my friends, Klesiah.''

''Seriously?'' Zhu interrupted, leaning closer, looking genuinely intense.
''It wasn't direct help.'' You nodded nonetheless. ''It still thanks to her that I was able to surmount the crisis I faced at the time and thus, reunite with her.'' Zhu didn't say anything else, she leaned back on her chair, scratching her forehead.

''I... I don't like this...'' Shereen grimaced, hugging Rupert a little tighter. A long silence followed, everyone gripped by stress and unease. Quite amazing how the elder sister's arrival had seemingly erased yesterday triumphant happiness.

''Let's go the training room.'' You announced, getting to your feet. ''Rotting our mind with stress and wait until we get summoned by her majesty isn't how I want to spend my day, how about you guys?''

''Hell no.'' Zhu followed, one hand on her pommel. ''I'll use all excuses I can to get punched by grandma.''

Said grandma audibly cracked her fingers.

For a second Shereen looked confused but that gave way to a genuine smirk and she soundlessly rose to her feet.

''Shereen?'' You interrupted when she was about to let go of her cat. ''Bring him along, I think it'll be fun.'' She tilted her head, puzzled.

The implications of your words didn't escape the older ladies. ''I agree.'' Banu added, walking closer to the old cat and scratching his chin, causing the onset of strong purrs. ''Let's have him heal our hearts.''

The first smile of the day belonged to your little sun.

Here's how to choose how this bout of magical training will go.

>Exercise with one of your existing spells.
Can lead to upgrade and potential new functions

>Try to find a new tangible spell with your magical gift.
Furthermore, you need to concentrate on a [Offense/Defense/Support] mindset to have any chances of making new spells.

>Exercise magic with Shereen by sourcing her magic and explore the option of your ''temporary'' soul links.
Something recently discovered during the battle against the swine prince. Blood and Soul magic mix so well it almost feels vital, like needing heat for making bread.

>Exercise your measurement.
Arawn has been measuring spell under duress for a long while now. Some quiet time to work out the kink of measurements will be helpful. Will allow you to gain the last stage of this perk.

Always an option.

I'll leave more time open for decisions since this is character customizations so everyone should have a voice.
Would it be possible to practice measurement while sourcing Shereen's magic? Are we gonna have to make rolls?
Can't do both, unfortunately.

>Are we gonna have to make rolls?
It depend on the choice. Upgrading Soul-Arm into getting an additional limb won't need a roll for example, but creating a new spell will need one.

However, you can't fail here. Don't be afraid of rolling.
>Exercise with one of your existing spells.
Yeh, let's get that second Soul Arm. It'll be a nice way to surprise someone. I'm still going for a grappling hand-to-hand style.
I'll leave thing open for an hour I'd say before asking for a roll with this choice.
I've decided that everything will need a roll now.
I kinda want measurement DESU, but if I'm also being honest Ensan's gonna find an excuse to have us specifically duel one of her bestest combat moons ASAP. Thus, get the second soul arm. We can root the enemy in place while fully locking down their arms I believe (wish we could Gravity Gun them but I don't think that's possible without guaranteed burnout if I remember right). Then we just brain the poor defenseless bugger with our hammer. Or, for extra dick points, flash fry/freeze/impale the bastard with our magitek gauntlet. We are sleeping with that thing on from now on BTW. Bitch already tried to keep it away from us, she won't ever do that again.

Question: When will the next chance to train be? Can we switch our gauntlet back to lightning mode as well? Fire is cool but it can only really kill or horrifically maim. Shocks can cleanly stun. Dead or screaming in agony mooks can't spill any beans. Not good for us.
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>Question: When will the next chance to train be?

Hm... I'm a bit unsure myself, it'll mostly depend on what you do. I think another opportunity could be soon... but I can't say for sure.

>Can we switch our gauntlet back to lightning mode as well?
Yeah, that'll happen in the training room.

Two votes for getting a new arm... Hm, I think this is a good moment to ask for a roll.

Give me 1d20. One new arm is guaranteed, if you guys roll high then you'll get a third one too!
Rolled 9 (1d20)

Let's see...
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>third one
Oh, huh. I thought the cap was 2. Apparently I need to refresh my memory better.
Alas, not enough. I can leave things open for more choices for a longer while too.

For now, you've got one new arm.
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Training began when you unleashed a powerful salvo of electric might out of your gauntlet and into the open sky. Somehow, the loud, powerful clap of thunder didn't scare the cat, leaving you honestly stunned as you stared at him in disbelief.

He was an old guy, his coarse fur and slow demeanor made that obvious.

''That cat is cold-blooded.'' Shereen giggled at your remark and the girls spread around to do some workout while your little sun found a comfortable spot to read, Banu and Zhu promptly began an exercise in martial arts, filling the room with intense noises of contact and tumble into, thankfully, soft floor.

Finding a quiet spot for magical meditation was easy. Examining the quirks and imposing your simple wish of division upon your ethereal arm, wasn't. The spell functioned in a straight line, you knew how to make it, you knew how to modify it but adding a new arm was akin to creating an entirely new spell within a spell, building a fork into the road instead of filling it with stones.

Meticulous examination of your flow was needed, properly understanding the formation of the Soul-Arm was key to genuine division and of course, measuring the cost; another arm would cost twice as much and that wasn't good, by using a single arm as a source then dividing it...

Time progressed surprisingly quickly as you lost yourself in thoughts and practice. The sun traveled from midday into the afternoon, Banu excused herself to bring refreshment and food, the cat kept inviting himself on your legs because you sat crossed-legged on the floor and Zhu looked satisfied with learning how to fight with her bare hand from a master. Ensan aside today looked... good but you did spy something worrying.

Zhu wasn't at her best and it showed. She had trouble keeping up with Banu at times whereas previously she always dominated the fight despite her inexperience. Perhaps this was because Banu was taking Zhu seriously compared to last time but you spied your friend holding her belly a few too many times to your liking. Getting skewered by a demonic tentacle and her own blade had undeniably taken a toll no matter what kind of healing she's gotten.

It'd be wise to avoid any fights until she gets better...

''You're liking that?'' You murmured at the cat pawing at your translucid limbs. Finding how to make a new one required a surprising amount of mental calculation but after a few hours of dedicated mental exercise, you managed to redirect your flow into making a proper pair of solid, flexible arms that proved efficient cat toys.

You have acquired the [Division](2/5) perk for your Soul-Arm spell.
It allows you to create additional soul limbs at 1/2 the mana price.
Then came a sudden knock, loud, booming and powerful; not enough to rattle the heavy door but close. Before anyone could actually open it, the offending rattler opened it, revealing herself to be a scorpion, precisely the red-colored one, squeezing the handle with one heavy claw.

Having a better look at her revealed that color to be artificial, she painted her exoskeleton in that color.

''Fucking hell, how about ramming through next time?'' Zhu comment was rewarded by a heavy glare.

This Mamono, this... Girtarblilu was massive, similar in height and weight to the Pharaoh herself.

''Her majesty Shereen Roshanak is awaited in the Throne Room.'' With her message delivered, the scorpion-woman retreated, leaving the door open. Her footsteps resounding loudly as her numerous heavy legs stabbed the ground.

''Guess that was inevitable.'' You commented, rising to your feet and letting go of Focus. ''Shereen?''

She had closed her two books (one of them about Magitek) and looked at the ground, face warped by a heavy grimace. ''It's okay.'' She said after a few seconds to collect herself, raising her head with flattened ears and a more serene masked expression.

''The handle broke.'' Banu grunted, working the now useless piece of metal.

How petty.

>Go with everyone, Shereen has many Moons now. It'd be important to show that.
>Since Zhu murdered the herald, it might be wise to leave her behind...
>Go with everyone, Shereen has many Moons now. It'd be important to show that.
Not entirely comfortable with splitting the party. I doubt Zhu would get jumped but you never know how petty Ensan is.

Man, I'm already trying to make plans in case Arawn has to fight. Question; how well can Mamono's take a neck snapping? The act itself shouldn't be too challenging with two Soul Arms...
Can we ask Banu and Shereen what they think is going on and if it'd be wise to leave Zhu behind? I'm currently leaning towards taking her with us as Ensan totally would assassinate her here and now. That's hard to do so long as we're in a group.
>Question; how well can Mamono's take a neck snapping?
It depends if they've reinforced their bodies.

Assuming it's not the case, then it also depends on the race and how trained they are. Let's take a regular scorpion-woman: snapping her neck won't be enough to kill her, her corruption will go wildly out of control to keep her alive and repair some damage but the blow itself would be completely incapacitating for sure.

Ie, follow up your sneak attack or your cover is blown.

>Can we ask Banu and Shereen what they think is going on and if it'd be wise to leave Zhu behind?

They don't know about the reasons precisely but everyone expects that Ensan wants to confront Shereen about the death of her herald. Leaving Zhu behind... well, Zhu doesn't want to of course and Shereen would be comfortable with all of her moons but Banu is of the mind that it could actually be a good thing to keep the murderer of her herald out of sight. If that would bait Ensan into trying something stupid like having some of her followers jump Zhu, then it'd actually be a very good thing for Shereen; it'll give her more than enough justification to summon her mother.

Nobody really know what to expect for sure though.
So we'd have to snap their neck then follow up with a knife to the brain or heart to score the kill? Could we choke a bitch out so that they lose consciousness nice and quiet like? How much noise would a shock palm make? Would shock palm plus neck snap be enough to kill the average monstergirl nice and dead?

Still leaning towards taking Zhu with us. Zhu getting jumped might give Shereen good reason to get mommy involved and get mommy to metaphorically "spank" Ensan as a result, but Zhu dying to get that outcome simply isn't worth it. Plus, as we've directly experienced, the Dice Gods have it out for her sadly.
>Let's take a regular scorpion-woman: snapping her neck won't be enough to kill her, her corruption will go wildly out of control to keep her alive and repair some damage but the blow itself would be completely incapacitating for sure.
So what I'm getting out of this is we should just use a large bomb. Frigging hell, Mamono's are bullshit.

But speaking on a duel perspective, a neck snap being incapacitating is good - although perhaps not entirely reliable. Hrm.

Well, if all else fails we can simply pump an opponent full of lightning bolts from our gauntlet.

I'm still in favor of taking Zhu with us. I'd rather not leave her without any backup since she's wounded. Besides, this could very well lead to us getting a better read on Ensan's personality first hand.
>So we'd have to snap their neck then follow up with a knife to the brain or heart to score the kill?
Ideally, yeah. Assuming everything goes well.

>Could we choke a bitch out so that they lose consciousness nice and quiet like?
Yes, but it really depends on the race. Choking out a Salamander is going to be very, very difficult (remember that it took Banu a surprisingly long while to choke out the lamia). Arawn is naturally robust and strong but warrior race are simply on another level, even if soul reinforcement level the playing field somewhat.

>How much noise would a shock palm make?
Plenty. Electricity isn't quiet.

>Would shock palm plus neck snap be enough to kill the average monstergirl nice and dead?

>So what I'm getting out of this is we should just use a large bomb. Frigging hell, Mamono's are bullshit.
Warrior races are strong! Snapping a lizard woman will have much more success, but there's always the Corruption wildcard.

So, we've got two votes to bring the whole party. I'll give about... 20 more minutes of leeway before closing. I'll say now that our thread is over tonight because I'm fairly sure I'll have to type out a long answer for this upcoming update, so I wanna get started on it tonight.
>Since Zhu murdered the herald, it might be wise to leave her behind...
>I'll say now that our thread is over tonight
On one hand, a shame. On the other, I really need to go sleep. Sometimes I despise my timezone.
Thanks for running Insert!
I'll do my best to answer tomorrow, glad to have you anon!.

Seems like we'll go with our whole party. I suppose I'll wait a little longer, no harms done there. If we tie, I'll do the usual roll.
Oh, this just occurred to me. We got 2 soul arms now so can we gib an enemy with nice hearty "clap" or use one to hold the enemy in place and "squeeze" their head with the other until we hear that satisfying splorch when it pops like a blood pumpkin? Could we do a cross attack with them and violently snap an enemy in half if they're unfortunate enough to be within that AoE? Can we "spin to win" and clobber with brute force without spinning ourselves?

We're probably gonna get in another fight today so I gotta know what we can do with our new ability. It's potentially a big increase in our lethality and threat level.
The arms aren't strong enough to produce anything like that. Remember to read the google doc, the arms can be lethal weapons with enough mana but they remain arms. They can punch, they can lift weight comparable to Arawn strength by their lonesome but they cannot produce any kind of ''force'' on their lonesome, they remain wholly physical. You'll need more than two to tear out limbs (or, alternatively, fill the arms with a big amount of mana to increase their strength). However, remember that they remain fairly mundane arms, it'd be better to think of that spell as fantastic support to your offensive instead of seeing it as a genuine weapon.
So we gotta go full ham if we want to maximize lethality with the arms. Makes sense honestly. Doubly so given how you've handed us an Ashen Estus Flask in the form of that pearl.

Pearls are hard to "drain" I take it yes? As in, if you use one, provided you don't fully and completely leverage the damned thing somehow, it cannot be "consumed" as it were. Naturally, the pretenders regularly consumed them as nothing short of nuking your literally divine opposition would have a reliable effect but you get the point.

Basically, so long as we don't engage in mid/max tier fusions on the regular while chugging down a "flask" right afterward the pearl will be fine and not lose any functionality. I of course assume we only do that once that whole concept of "protection" is proc'd in a very desperate situation (like what happened with Porky). That? That would be OK. Shit obviously and blatantly less than that? Dice Gods. Perhaps influenced by how much Father Sky "likes" Gardy and, by extension, us but I'm still one very nervous player here...
>Pearls are hard to "drain" I take it yes?
You'll get an answer soon enough. Pearls are a complete unknown for now so it'd be wise to avoid making too many assumptions. They were the tools of ancient gods and their followers, those pearls were used on an industrial scale during the Wars of Pretenders so... They might be a bit more fragile than you think.

>but I'm still one very nervous player here...
Now now... You'll get to meet big sis!
Big sis who will very quickly figure out how we're kinda the common factor in all her long and short term plans going to shit all of a sudden during her relatively short absence.

Bitch will send a kill team after us very soon because of that. One quick question, assuming Shereen'd go through with it, could we somehow transfer Zhu's injury to ourselves or (if we want to ding the morality meter in a bad way and piss Gardy's currently non-existent ego off) a poor unfortunate slave? Just an inquiry. We don't do that unless it becomes totally necessary but if it does somehow can we pull that trigger?
>Could we somehow transfer Zhu's injury to ourselves or (if we want to ding the morality meter in a bad way and piss Gardy's currently non-existent ego off) a poor unfortunate slave?
Interesting use of soul magic... I'll say this. It's not off the table, but it'd be hard to pull off and will be subjected to limitations. For now, you can't do it because it's not something Arawn exercised in, it'd go into discovering a new support type spell.
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But we could eh? Excellent. New potential vote next time we get a chance to train. Best case scenario is we get to "inflict" our wounds/pain upon our aggressors while we heal ourselves. Worst case? We get Verg Avesta. Either way, not half bad. Latter is still quite bad for us but at least we fuck them over hard for getting luck with the dice gods.
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Thread will resume tomorrow. Feeling a bit under the weather today, I must have eaten something bad yesterday so I'd rather write while feeling comfortable. See you soon.
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Marching to grab your shield, you turned to Banu and Shereen for silent acknowledgment and witnessed a rare flash of hesitation inside the singular gaze of the veteran Moon while your little sun beside her nodded, understanding your intention. Zhu audibly fiddled with her sword handle and gave your curious eyes a thumb up.

You didn't know if Ensan shared Zerase nonchalance with weapons around her and you weren't about to start being polite now. Thankfully, Shereen was of a similar sentiment.

No words needed to be exchanged, you and Banu walked sides by sides in front Shereen with Zhu closing the formation. You saw a pair of Moons garbed in their regular near-seethrough dress remaining behind, having arrived with the red scorpion woman as, perhaps, some kind of silent pressures to ensure the ''summon'' was obeyed. Walking the long corridor leading into the massive main hall of the palace was stressful, especially with the doors opened and guarded by a pair of lizard women with a few more scattered here and there...

The hall remained its immaculate self, now busy with the eternal activities of slaves cleaning the recently dirtied floor. There must have been a crowd in here for a while but now, nothing but the usual inhabitants of the palace remained with the obvious addition of a certain woman and her squad near the throne. Ensan waited in the middle of the hall, sat upon her mother royal chair; despite being tall and well-built she was barely filling half the space compared to Zerase yet she still made a show of it by holding onto the stone handles, surrounded by a group of Mamonos. You also noticed a mundane dagger resting on a stony arm of the throne.

Amongst them was the visibly red-painted scorpion woman with another one (organically colored) none too far from their liege; none of them had collars. More Mamonos of various bestial races surrounded the crown princess with Moon's collars around their necks and garbed with the sultry dress that didn't hide an inch of their bodies.

You noticed two pairs of guards leaving their posts to stand a few meters behind your group and... for better or worse, Anais absence. One of Ensan servant rang a small bell as your group arrived within range of the throne and you'd have continued walking right up to Ensan face had Banu not tugged your shirt. Shereen was the one to proceed forward, stopping before the single step that elevated the throne.

This prompted Ensan to rise, bridging the distance in a slow deliberate gait and stopped before her kin with a satisfied smirk; at this angle, Shereen looked downright tiny, Ensan was taking obvious joy in literally looking down at her younger sister. Around her neck was a necklace of dark stones that you just now noticed because Ensan long, thick hair worked surprisingly well to camouflage it.

''My dear Shereen, how have you been? We haven't seen each other for a month.'' Her voice was warm and inviting, Shereen ears couldn't have been any flatter.
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''W-we have been eagerly anticipated your arrival, sister.'' Shereen mumbled her words, having lost the habits of referring to herself as ''we'' during the two weeks of your friendship. ''We... kept ourselves in good health.''

''And busy, too.'' The sheer silence in the palace made Ensan casual tone sound much more powerful. ''Full glad am I to see that you can do a few things without needing to be told, I'm sure you've made mother a little proud, even if you've been troubling her a great deal.''

''I...We. We try our best to help and ensure Muribel continued prosperity.'' Ensan audibly scoffed, putting a hand on her hip, she looked down on her younger kin for a few moments. Shereen kept her head low after speaking, stealing a timid upward glance at the taller woman.

''Don't start lying now. The only thing you do is stay in your room from sunshine to sundown with your cat, don't speak about things you don't understand.'' Ensan accusation came with an irritated tsk. ''Before I departed, I gave you my blessing in getting one new Moon, not two.'' Her red gaze hovered before you, acknowledging your existence for the first time. ''An elf is... adequate, though he's far too gruff and a mangy dog is something else entirely; what kind of Sun are you to be accepting such an ugly pair?''

Shereen shoulder twitched and she shook her head. Zhu had to bite her lips to avoid laughing loudly, her singular chromatic gaze opened in overt defiance whilst her shoulders shooks.

''Mother herself dictated that anyone is free to take Moons if they can support them. Arawn and Zhu, they... they're mine. I don't need your permission to do what mother allows everyone to do.'' Shereen emotions were starting to bubble, her small furred ears were standing straight and she wasn't looking down anymore.

''So that's the mindset that made you kill my herald.'' Ensan reply was blunt and dry, supporting one elbow atop her palm, she pinched her chin and smirked in amusement on seeing the surprise on her kin far too honest face. ''Don't look so stupefied, what exactly made you believe that was in any way a good idea?''

''He... he besmirched my honor in the palace, he wanted to remove my Moon, my f...'' Shereen grunted, trying to hide her slip. ''My possession on stupid, dubious suspicions! Besides, it's mother who sanctioned the duel! Are you doubting her judgment!?''

''Only yours.'' Ensan response came with a hateful little arrogant chuckle. ''Had you been a good girl and complied then nothing bad would have happened. Whilst this woman might be your Moon now, she wasn't displaying proper ownership for a few days despite staying within the palace grounds, is it that unreasonable to want to know about a dangerous unknown actor? Since she's clearly honest enough to become your Moon, spending a little afternoon away from you wouldn't have been unreasonable.''
''...Then train your sycophants to learn how to handle no. I don't need justifications for who I take as-Kyah!?'' Shereen fell on the ground and thankfully braced to avoid falling like a pushed statue when Ensan foot nearly collided with her face; she managed to raise a furred arm to lessen the impact. You and Zhu nearly leaped at her defense but Banu, standing between you both, extending her arms to prevent that.

''You're lucky that I arrived so soon. That man was also handling most of Marleon administrative concern, you'd have ended up troubling mother to take on this duty. That wouldn't have been good at all, you know how busy she is.'' Ensan slowly maneuvered her leg into a long, flexible circle as she returned into her previous relaxed stance, not losing balance for a second. Shereen looked far too stunned to reply, the blow hadn't looked violent, thankfully. ''No matter, it's been a while since you've been properly punished.''

Ensan made a gesture with her left hand toward people behind your group who quickly revealed themselves to be the pair of Moons that had remained behind, one of them holding onto a familiar ball of fur...?

''Oh, fuck you.'' Zhu audibly said, causing a perplexed tilt of Ensan expression as she gently grabbed the lazy Rupert, who, of course, didn't mind the attention.

''W-what are you doing?'' Shereen voice was a broken whisper, alarm quickly making her rise to her feet. ''Let him go!''

The two Moons were quick to walk away once Ensan had her prize. She walked back to sit on the throne, giving the cat a few deep pats that he thoroughly appreciated. Letting him rest on her thighs, Ensan began to fiddle with one of the pearls around her neck, looking to her kin with a satisfied smirk.

''Don't worry, I will. You have to understand, Shereen, that thinking before doing something is important. Remember what you are.'' The stone she was pinching suddenly disappeared into her fingers, the lady's veins came alight in a deep purple coloration that spread like a wave instead of lighting up all at once as was Focus usual phenomenon. The hand she was petting Rupert with let out a strange smoke of darkened, purplish hue that entered the old cat body... then she pushed him off, Rupert fell on the stone ground gracelessly, almost face first.

''What did you!?'' Shereen didn't need to wait for her answer. Movements occurred within the body of the cat similar to the coming and going of the tides, his breathing became ragged and loud, plaints -the first noises you've ever heard him make- started to come out of his mouth as his slow, now painful, gait carried him toward his horrified mistress.
Spots began to sprout on his body. Rounds protuberance grew like evil mushrooms all over his belly and back and after a few seconds, blood and pus began to pool out of these tumors, staining the spotless stones with vile diseased liquids. Still, Rupert tried to reach his little mistress who was far too shocked to do anything but, unfortunately, the curse affected him robbed his capabilities after only a single meter of separation. Rupert flopped on his side, the magic coursing through him making more and more movement in his flesh; soon his fur began to fall in unhealthy bloodied clumps as more and more tumors began to sprout -even reaching his face- warping his physique into an ugly, unsightly, sickly mass.

''Urk!'' Shereen promptly vomited. The smell was odious, most of the surrounding non-armed Moons were pinching their noses.

Ensan looked at this spectacle with such a disgustingly satisfying smile...! The poor cat began to wail loudly, making a gargled, guttural noise of agony and despair that made the woman laugh!


The noise of your mace pulverizing Rupert's head and breaking a piece of the floor was the next noise to reverberate as you somehow overpowered Banu to bring this farce to an end.

''Arawn...?'' Shereen looked up to you, not overly crying, only letting out a few wet droplets from her eyes which crawled down her bronze cheeks into lines.

''Sorry.'' You whispered through clenched teeth, hating the reverberation of the palace ground. ''Rupert is in a better place now, I... I made things quick.''

Your interruption had caused almost all the surrounding warriors to move forward but Ensan stopped with a casual wave of her head and rose to her feet once more, idly toying with a dagger. ''My, now you've gone and stepped into the aura of our throne... How lucky that you're saved by your collar.''

Zhu reached Shereen and helped her on her feet, your little sun couldn't say anything, she only stared at the dead clump of flesh that was her cat.

''Her holiness made her point.'' Banu spoke, earning Ensan attention. ''Allow us to retreat to our quarter.''

Ensan's first response was to throw her dagger at Banu's feet. ''My dear Banu, I'm impressed you've no misgiving with the murder of someone from your tribe.'' Banu remeaned hard as stone in front of this emotional jab. ''How long do you intend to serve the gods, now that you've finally alleviated your burden? Is it not the time for you to rest ?''

Ensan expression confused you; her grin was broad, almost manic in joy as she watched Banu lower herself to grab the dagger. Something was going on here, a message of some kind to be sure.

''I will serve till my last breath, your holiness.'' The ominous noise of sharpened metal sliding against leather followed. ''I've no time for peace and comfort!'' Banu threw the blade, not toward the crown princess, but her red bodyguard who managed to barely spare herself a skewed eye by raising one of her claws.
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Zhu stepped next to you, causing another uproar amongst the guards and this time, Ensan didn't stop her scorpion fighters to get close enough to save her from any sudden attack. The swordswoman simply scooped down to grab the decapitated body of Rupert. With life gone, the magic affecting him had also stopped, changing his body into a dried husk that barely resembled the healthy cat that was playing on your thighs an hour ago. Afterward, Zhu spat on the ground of this ''aura'' and remained beside her Sun, grinning, singular chromatic eye wide open.

''Interesting...'' Ensan gently tapped her tall bodyguard's thick claws. ''See you tomorrow then, Shereen will need to learn a little more things.''

Nobody answered her. Shereen was pouring her entire will into keeping herself from bursting into tears, Banu clenched fists was the only thing betraying her rage and Zhu... simply looked at you with a wide grin, also trying her best to avoid laughing as she gently held Rupert mutilated corpse.

That was... an experience.

>Free choice.
I'd like to see what kind of things you guys want to do after this, I'll offer actions if you feel stumped. Things remain fairly open here, you can think of it as the second part of your ''free time.''

I knew the cat was gonna die one way or another, but the *how* of it really got to me. That was a necromancy pearl and she used it to be as cruel as possible. More fuel for her funerary pyre I guess. Hopefully when the time comes Shereen will remember this and be happy to see her big sister rendered into a fine red mist that we will then burn to be 100 percent sure. Pearls enable unknown levels of fuckery, can't take any chances.

What did she mean about the Throne's aura and being saved by the collar? "What Shereen is" is also a concerning line. Did Ensan basically insinuate that Banu ought to kill herself for some reason with that dagger? Does that cruel "curse" require a touching attack and do sentient beings get a save against it?
Regarding what just happened, I would assume that bring this to Zerase's attention isn't going to have her do anything of note, so in order to have her pay attention, and hopefully do something we need to do something dumb, and out out in the open.

For now, I propose having Funeral for Rupert, he has quite likely been one of the few constant bright spots that Shereen has for quite some time.

I think Ensan's actions require a response (The problem that she is going to run into is that she is drawing on a rapidly diminishing set of cards that she can play without escalating too far / being too overt. ), in kind of some sort I would propose that we look into having her bedroom or the Ships, she came in on set on fire.
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>What did she mean about the Throne's aura and being saved by the collar?
The throne is elevated from the floor by a relatively big square. This is considered the throne ''aura'' ie, the place that only people of worth can be in since it's the place Zerase ''govern from'' (even if that's a total lie). It's just a cultural thing.

>Did Ensan basically insinuate that Banu ought to kill herself for some reason with that dagger?
Yes. She and Ensan and a... discussion before the lady departure. If the pig prince wasn't dead, Banu would have killed herself right there because she knew Ensan would do something with him. That was my original plan when I was making Act 2.

>Does that cruel "curse" require a touching attack and do sentient beings get a save against it?

Impossible to say for now.

>For now, I propose having Funeral for Rupert, he has quite likely been one of the few constant bright spots that Shereen has for quite some time.

A fine choice. I'll leave this open for about 15 more minutes.
So did Banu just telegraph that Horkus is dead, if so something else we could do is leave some of the remains of the melted crown somewhere Ensan will find them.

Also did Ensan just waste one of her Pearls of power (are they only good for a single use, before they break?) on Rupert, are we sure that their method of manufacture was lost to time right, because without a large supply in reserve that seems extremely wasteful.

It also telegraphs the fact that she likely keeps a supply near her, i guess that means that we could raid her room for more potentially.
>So did Banu just telegraph that Horkus is dead
That remains to be seen. She didn't quite expect Ensan to be bold enough to demand her death that way.

>Also did Ensan just waste one of her Pearls of power (are they only good for a single-use, before they break?) on Rupert
Generally, pearls are indeed only good for one use with many being needed for particularly large spells/rituals.

>are we sure that their method of manufacture was lost to time right
The way to artificially make them has been lost but they still grow naturally, so collecting a large amount with time isn't impossible.

Guess it's time to bury a cat.
...God what a cunt.

I'm personally stumped, so I'll back the funeral pyre.

Those pearls will be a problem. It'd be a fine thing if we could end or temporarily halt their production - problem is having the manpower/means to do so. I believe Fortune knew the general area where the pearls came from?

Just a heads-up, my IP will change for the next session(assuming you won't finish the thread tonight) - currently writing from my brother's laptop and I turned off my modem before I left home so that will have also messed with the IP.
So we inadvertently saved Banu's life by wasting Porky? Damn, really lucked out there. Losing Banu would mean losing our prime source of info regarding this place (culture, politics, nobles to watch out for, etc.), a competent combatant and our de facto "face" party member. Not to mention Shereen would have lost the other positive constant in her life smashing her newly developing spine right back into a mushy puddle. We'd be right and proper fucked if she died there honestly. Praise be that the dice gods love the smell of freshly roasted bacon apparently.

I will agree that we ought to have a funeral for the kitty. Poor Rupert, we barely knew ye.
If Shereen's overflowing corruption hadn't come up Banu was going to take us on a little trip to go kill Ensan before she got back, if we had succeeded that probably would have solved the problem.
or had her do it the moment she got withing earshot assuming that we failed to keep it a 100% stealth run.

Depending on how involved and public the cultivation process is, an army of reanimated corpses would probably help alleviate any manpower shortages and keep it secret.
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'Let's find somewhere to bury him, the magic is gone, he won't cause any diseases.'' You spoke, gazing at the cat in Zhu's hand. His body was little more than a clump of dry flesh by now, with the only positive being the lack of putrefied smell. Shereen prodigious garden was, unfortunately, not deep enough for such a small burial so you'll have to find a spot somewhere on palace grounds.

''We've got out hands and soul reinforcement, more than enough tools.'' Your companion responded. Without the constant enraging excitement that was Ensan existence, Zhu had managed to put her cacklings to a stop.

Banu nodded silently, leading the group somewhere suitable. Shereen also remained quiet, putting her best effort to avoid crying. Sniffles and hiccups escaped her mouth and she'd rub her face often, barely managing to hold onto her emotions, at least managing to keep her gait steady.

Better to avoid speaking to her for now, this entire thing was... painful.

Finding a proper patch of earth proved easy thanks to Banu guidance. The sun was beginning to disappear off the horizon, coloring the sky into its familiar drenches of scarlet-orange, dusk heralded oncoming nightfall. The place that would become Rupert's tomb was a large hedge that also made for a painstakingly maintained garden with plants of vivid colors spreading healthily in a long line around the palace walls.

A fitting place.

Finding an adequate spot of grass, Zhu gently let down the corpse and began to claw into the earth, pulling off surprisingly large patches. Soon she was joined by Banu and yourself, all three of you digging an adequate hole in seconds; Shereen joined a little too late but she still stubbornly dug deeper.

'This is this...Rnngh!'' Her sentence broke as she let out a painfully high little wail. ''Unfair! Why him!? Why Rupert? He was so old already! I knew that... I knew he didn't have much time... He should have died peacefully in his sleep that... that'd have been proper.''

''I found him in a random back alley of Marleon about ten years ago, he was sick with something but he was young and strong and managed to shake off his ailment.'' Banu spoke gently compared to Shereen's emotional outburst, now she was the one holding the cat corpse and put his broken remains in the ground. ''I remember how worried you got despite pretending otherwise.'' She continued, smiling. ''You'd spend all day petting him, commanding me to find some kind of remedy when the only thing he needed was good food and a warm place to sleep. You're the one that saved his life and he stuck with you ever since.''

''T-that's... nothing.'' All three of her Moons shook their head. ''Just emotional support...'' She whined, rubbing her red eyes with her fur-covered hands.
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''You're the last person he saw in his last moment.'' You said, cupping some dirt in your hands, lowering yourself to your little sun level. ''No matter the pain and agony he went through, he still tried his best to reach you. No matter how things ended, you were good to your Rupert, Shereen. A worthy master.''

She tried to protect but you forced her hands by leaning closer and she got the message. No matter what you'd or anyone else said, Shereen would likely feel guilty about this for the rest of her life but at the very least she'd know that nobody else but herself was going to judge her worth as Rupert owner.

Silently, Shereen dropped the earth on the remains of her pet, accepting fistful of dirt from her Moons until Rupert was fully covered into a healthy mound. Banu slapped her hands together in prayer -a gesture of Mother Earth- and everyone else followed absentmindedly.

''Ensan wanted me to kill myself today.'' Shereen looked genuinely too exhausted to react strongly. ''If the Prince hadn't perished then I'd have done so because I know she could activate him somehow. If that could have spared my Sun agony...''

''Shut the hell up, continue saying that crap and I'll punch you.'' Zhu growled, grabbing the older woman's collar. ''Fuck kinda bullshit is that? If she'd activate that pig then we'd just have killed him in the palace.''

''It didn't happen and it won't.'' Banu grabbed one of Zhu wrist and squeezed hard enough to make your companion let go. ''What I'm saying is, coexistence with Ensan is impossible.''

''Banu...'' Shereen colors had blanched. She clumsily walked forward, wrapped her hands around the older maiden hips, and hugged her tight. ''...How long?'' She asked plainly.

''Since her departure a month ago.'' In a rare display of emotion, Banu looked genuinely tired. ''It's why I was so insistent to find you another Moon. My instincts... whispered to me that she'd had enough of me.''

Shereen slowly let go of her surrogate... no, her mother. It was plain to your eyes now, these two were true mother and daughter and no amount of blood distance or godly delusion was going to change that.

Mother Mercy, it really was a good thing that swine prince was completely dead instead of suffering simple banishment.

''I won't -ever- have enough of you, Banu. If you have to hurt me by staying alive then do it dammit!'' Shereen sniffled, looking at her cat tomb. ''I'm tired of crying... Rupert didn't deserve that.''

''Oh, there's going to be some comeuppance that's for damn sure.'' Zhu joined Shereen flank, metallic clicks constantly coming out of her sword handle as she fiddled with it. ''She wants you here again tomorrow huh?''

Shereen pinched her lips closed.

''She'll probably prevent us from going into Marleon, we might have to sneak out or force our way through...'' You added, taking the second spot beside your little sun.
''I'm... I hate her.'' Suddenly, this sentence came out of Shereen, interrupting your musing with Zhu as the small girl fluffy body tensed from head to toes. ''I hate her! I hate hate hate hate haaaaate her! I hate you Ensan!" The only thing that prevented Shereen scream was Banu wrapping her arms around her shoulders. ''It's always been like that, all she does is hurt people, break things, laugh and look at me from on high, saying I need to be a good girl or else... or else what!? All I have are my Moons now!'' Her claws dug into Banu skins, drawing blood and of course, the woman remained motionless, simply holding her little sun.

The sister's history was easy to guess, if Ensan had been pressuring and threatening Shereen into compliance for years, holding the two things she held dear hostages as a way to keep her complacent... Well, you've seen for yourself in the last two weeks this small dog of the desert got some spirit.

''I hate you so much...'' Shereen ended her outburst with a small whine, more droplets falling out of her eyes.

''Then shall we leave?'' Banu voice was also nothing more than a whisper. ''Be done with her, be done with your absent mother.''

''I...Ensan hurt people I... I hate to know that, to see that I... I want to believe mother can do something...''

''In all my years, I've only seen your mother do ''something'' twice.'' Banu replied kindly. ''Ensan is likely going to continue this punishment tomorrow, is it truly wise to remain here?''

Silence fell. A long one, where Shereen was actually -genuinely- weighing the options, perhaps reflecting on her entire life up till now. You and Zhu exchanged a stare and she nodded, letting you know that she'd support you.

>It'd be better to avoid arousing too much suspicion with the crown princess for now. Remain in the palace for tonight, you have to help Anais somehow.

>Leaving is wiser. Ensan will try to further bury her sister with another emotional torture. Rupert twice was only half the work, Banu was supposed to kill herself after all... It's too risky to endure something of this caliber again. Anais situation is beyond your ability to help - for now.

>Rupert twice
Meant fate.
>Leaving is wiser
I *loathe* to admit it but I don't see how we can assist Anais from the inside of the palace - we'll have little ways of doing much at all now that Ensan is here. Zerase is too aloof of a ruler to keep her attention actively on her court, while Ensan is like the Eye of Sauron with Shereen being the One Ring.
...Of course, I'm admittedly drawing a blank on how we could save Anais from the outside either.

>''I'm... I hate her.'' Suddenly, this sentence came out of Shereen, interrupting your musing with Zhu as the small girl fluffy body tensed from head to toes.
Oh! I think Ensan, in her attempt to quash Shereen mentally by killing Rupert, may have achieved the opposite of her goal. Even the nicest person on the planet has their limits on what they're willing to take after all.
Remaining in the palace will allow you to do some preparation and/or training while leaving will, as you can expect, lead to a fairly busy moment. Both choices are fairly important so maybe it'll be better for me to wait longer with the votes.
...how difficult would it be to leave in the future if we decide to stay?

man, I really should have asked this first. I need to start actually thinking more.
Ok, what does Banu think Ensan will pull tomorrow if we stay? Or tonight, given how Anais's blood can and almost certainly will be used to fuel a nasty blood ritual. Does this whole palace enable a "sympathetic" link to all on its grounds? I just know she's going to curse someone in our group somehow and use Anais to do it. If Ensan's moons try and invade Shereen's section of the palace would it be within our rights to summarily execute them? Is there any way to scan the food and drinks for curses or poisons? Anything made or hell even passing through here quite frankly isn't safe for any of us to consume anymore. Also, consequences of leaving. Will that piss mommy off at Shereen or Ensan?

Kidnapping and enslaving Anais is an act of fuckery that's easily a casus belli. Her nation is allied with the Demon Lord. Ergo, all we gotta do is get the message to Sieg somehow and "we" won't have to do jack shit after that. We also transmit that Ensan is to have a tragic "accident" during their rescue operation. She is too evil and dangerous to leave on the playing field. A loose end that must be tied. Boy do I hope Belph has developed teleport homing beacons. If she did than ho boy is fun about to happen once the excuse is supplied.
>...how difficult would it be to leave in the future if we decide to stay?

Honestly depend on what you do during Ensan's second ''trial.'' Can't say for now.

>Ok, what does Banu think Ensan will pull tomorrow if we stay?
She honestly doesn't know for sure. It'd have to be another emotional torture of some kind, one that obviously needs more preparation than killing a cat and her own demise. Shereen doesn't have anything else from her past that can hurt her now, her books are precious but won't really cause the same pain.

>Does this whole palace enable a "sympathetic" link to all on its grounds?
I'm not sure what you mean by that. In general, blood rituals take place within the inner grounds of the palace. That place is locked tight, your time was spent in Shereen little quarter which isn't even a 1/3 of the palace.

>If Ensan's moons try and invade Shereen's section of the palace would it be within our rights to summarily execute them?
No, but you'd be well past caring by that point.

>Is there any way to scan the food and drinks for curses or poisons?
Yeah, Shereen can spray some of her blood to purify things.

>Will that piss mommy off at Shereen or Ensan?
Can't say~
...Actually, oh shit. I just remembered how extreme Zerase can be. If we leave, all Ensan needs to do is spin some bullshit about how Shereen is either in danger or was forcefully removed from the palace. No telling how far "mother dearest" would go to recover Shereen.
With that in mind, I'd like to change my >>4089763 vote to
>It'd be better to avoid arousing too much suspicion with the crown princess for now. Remain in the palace for tonight, you have to help Anais somehow.

Although Shereen vanishing from the palace should be kept in mind as a method to get Zerase's attention/drawing out forces from the palace
Sadly, I can imagine quite a few things that can be used to torture Shereen (and so can you). I doubt our "travels" have been kept a secret. Or rather, cannot be kept a secret as if Ensan or her moons ask the vigil members they have to spill. Indeed, would think nothing of spilling as I doubt anyone knows just how evil Ensan truly is outside the palace. That info will reveal a rich environment of innocent folks that can be made to duel *us* to the death or even worse. The real question now is if she'd just have them killed off one by one without being able to take sadistic joy in watching her little sister suffer.

Do we even know where mommy is at the moment? No matter if we stay or leave my next plan is to try and use Shereen's magic to manipulate the links and send a message that oh fuck yes we need our friends here, now, fucking yesterday before we end up like Rupert or worse! Also, Anais is here and in the clutches of cunt who might actually give Ama a run for her money in the "evil" department. Have fun with that ladies.
>Do we even know where mommy is at the moment?

So we have one vote for remaining. I'll wait a little more to get more voice, I've pumped out two fairly long updates so I'm feeling a bit drained today, I'd say we'll be good for one more answer tonight.
Thinking about it, anon has a point. Zerase would have razed a whole district if they were suspected of having attempted to kill Shereen. If it's Ensan's word vs. Shereen's non-existent word than Ensan's free to spin whatever BS she wants and I'd bet she's quite good at manipulating mommy without other factors figured in. She probably knows Shereen hates to see innocents die because of her and our fleeing right now will almost certainly cause that to occur. Can't even leave a note or tell mommy what's going on if we don't know her location. Why is she so lazy, decadent, and criminally absent most of the time?

This likely means we'll have to kill someone we like or something worse tomorrow. The many before the few sadly. Also, what did it take in the past to get mommy off her large scaly ass and reprimand or interfere with Ensan's fuckery?
Oh, we should ask Banu what she thinks Ensan'd do if we fled tonight. Out of curiosity's sake of course.
>Also, what did it take in the past to get mommy off her large scaly ass and reprimand or interfere with Ensan's fuckery?
Zerase took charge during the latter half of the rebellion (leading to its annihilation) and the other would need a little update on my part because Banu herself doesn't really know what happened.

Probably send people to get Shereen back into the palace quietly.
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Hm, I think remaining is the choice. I'll begin writing.
Pretty much. Probably be quiet about it is not a guarantee and she's probably about to find out that Porky's a side of bacon now. That will both infuriate and potentially scare her.

Will we get other options with our remaining time? I say we cycle our sleep throughout the night as well. Ensan would try to assassinate one of us in the night after all. Do we have coffee or energy drinks on hand?
>Will we get other options with our remaining time?
Yeah, things will be fairly open here.
Unfortunately I'll be clocking out for the night, it's too damn late for me.
Thanks for running Insert!
Thanks for being here!
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''I think it's too soon to be exiting the palace.'' Your voice broke the silence and as always, earned the girl's attention. ''It'll likely cause a strong reaction from your mother, Shereen, so if we do run away... I think we should also think about Naveed and Fortune circumstances.''

''What I think would be a good idea...'' You continued seeing Shereen ears perk up. ''...would be staying here for now. Instead of taking tomorrow trials lying down like today, we do something, either prevent it from occurring somehow or just... raise a big enough ruckus to force your mother hand if Ensan does something unreasonable. That'll likely mean blood in the palace grounds but it's better than suffering in silence and fear like today.'' Rupert deserves that much, nobody else should share his fate. ''I won't lie, I dearly wish that something could be done with Anais as well... but I don't even know how to begin. So I think it'd be better to have a plan when we plan to run.''

''Ah... Kresenz princess, I forgot.'' Shereen extracted herself out of Banu embrace and hesitated for a moment to take a step away from the tomb of her beloved Rupert... and with a sharp gulp of air, your short little sun walked to you, gaze briefly drifting toward Zhu. ''Okay, let's remain here. Tomorrow... I hate to say so, but tomorrow I don't want to let Ensan do as she please, even if that means killing people, will you... help me?''

''Of course, little sun.'' Zhu chuckled, ruffling the girl head with a solid hand. ''I dunno how I even managed to stand still today, much better to have your blessing to run around cause I won't stay passive next time.''

''No need to ask.'' You responded, also imitating Zhu, eliciting an amused grunt out of the small girl. ''I think we can try something tonight, away from prying eyes... but I'll have to think on it a little longer. Do you know where Anais is held?''

''She would likely be inside my sister personal room, which is located inside the inner compounds of the palace grounds where little to no Moons are allowed...'' The princess looked to her guardian for a brief moment. ''...Banu has always been turned back, so I doubt anyone would be able to accompany me.''
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''It is also where the pyramid of blood is located, where Shereen conducts her larger-scale blood rituals.'' Banu added.

Right, you remember that place, it was like a fever dream; Shereen atop a pyramid of stones dripping in blood with a hundred people donating their lifeforce to heal the wounds on your soul... Made for a strong first impression.

''Would it be possible to go there?'' You asked, the gears in your mind starting to work.

''There's not enough people on hands to make any rituals that'd justify it tonight.'' Replied Shereen, melancholy sticking to her tone. ''I doubt that sister would allow me...''

Hrrm... much to think about, but at least it was a step forward. Your little sun had taken quite a few punches in the last few days and Rupert's horrific demise had definitely been the worst of it all but she wasn't drowning in despair. You could see spirited movement in her tail and excited twitches in her fluffed ears that belied her ever-increasing burning spirit. Perhaps she was a weak little thing that could be wrapped around anyone's finger in the past, but that wasn't the case anymore.

Ensan will have to learn that. Likely, she's thinking today to be a fluke.

''Muh?'' She growled when you ruffled her hair again. ''Stop that! My hair take a while to make!''

She might just be the only good thing in Muribel royalty.

For your last chunk of time tonight, things are fairly in terms of possibility. Doing something like your usual training is possible, the greentexts below are opportunities you can try but you aren't bound by them.

>Send Shereen to get some information on Anais, she'll likely be doing it alone... but there's no other choice.

>It's a longshot, a very long one in fact, but you can try some magical ritual by joining your magic with Shereen. You have no clue how to begin and what's possible but if you can connect with your soul links somehow and communicate with those you've tied yourself with...

>Try to unearth some information about Muribel past. What is it that caused Zerase to force Ensan to stop? What kind of natural wonders could explain the death pearls? Half of Shereen library is historical and you'll likely have to separate to investigate the palace archive, but it is worth a shot...

Let's continue tomorrow!
Hmmm... I'd rather not send Shereen in alone to gather information. With mommy not around and with Anais in her possession who knows what other entity she might bind to Shereen like she did that loathsome pig. Other barons may yet walk the red world and we already know her body is desired greatly. Didn't that initial binding happen in Ensan's quarters?

I'll likely have to sleep on this. How long would it take to ward our sleeping quarters against curses or red world fuckery? Could we install a kind of magical alarm so that we'll get warned if Ensan sends one of her sneaky gits to poison or slit one of our throats in the night?
>Didn't that initial binding happen in Ensan's quarters?
That's what Banu told you, yes. Also this tidbit of info is still unknown to Shereen...
>How long would it take to ward our sleeping quarters against curses or red world fuckery? Could we install a kind of magical alarm so that we'll get warned if Ensan sends one of her sneaky gits to poison or slit one of our throats in the night?

Unfortunately, you have no tools or capabilities to do this. Best you can do is have everyone sleep together.
Banu directly mentioned to Shereen that had Porky not been dead she'd have killed herself as Ensan wished to prevent Ensan from "activating" him. Maybe her kitty's death has gummed up the gears in her head for the moment but anyone with a decent capacity for critical thought will draw a thread very quickly.

Ensan knew of it and had a measure of control over it. Banu knew of it and knew Ensan could control it. It was being used to essentially hold her hostage from the perspective of Banu. This leaves one logical conclusion (one that a mind filled with hate towards the potential criminal will eagerly assent to). Ensan had summoned the thing and bound it to her in order to bind the one thing that might aid her in ever truly defying her. That and a plausibly deniable way to kill her should she ever threaten her power with a ready made excuse. Blood Rituals can be "botched" and the results of that? Yeah, she would go that far if pushed.

I do hope those gears start turning in her little head soon. Sadly, our trophies aren't sufficient evidence as with its death any "power" that'd point back to it was likely extinguished. Where are those trophies anyway?
Well damn, guess the fact that Shereen puzzling out the situation of the prince on her own isn't that much of a surprise anymore.

>Where are those trophies anyway?
In your general traveling bag in Shereen room.
Another thing to consider is that Anais might end up with something similar to Horkus being bound to her, so we need to minimize the amount of time that she goes unaccounted for..

If we eventually chose to break her out a possible plan would be to use a fusion (likely medium, as it provides flexibility, and that we are unlikely to come across anything that could challenge us on the way in, or out. ) and transition into the Red world in order to go searching / poking around inside the palace unmolested by Ensan and her goons while looking unil we have found what we are looking for, ( and if we use the Hour of Lullaby, the denizens of the Red world as well) Anais's signature, in the red and break her out. We could also set some fires to help mask our exit and make a scene in such a way that can't exactly be hidden as easily.

Though before we enact it it would probably be a good idea have the others leave the palace grounds before we begin, and we could probably have Fortune look after Anais if we haven't permanently left the place by that time.
>It's a longshot, a very long one in fact, but you can try some magical ritual by joining your magic with Shereen. You have no clue how to begin and what's possible but if you can connect with your soul links somehow and communicate with those you've tied yourself with...
We need to talk with our future rescuers. Everything else needs things we're not ready for right now, or has risks past what's acceptable that I can think of. If only we could stealth well.
Isn't the Red World dangerous to traverse without preparation? I seem to remember something to that effect, though I'm not sure when it was mentioned. Ugh, I need to go re-read the archive one of these days.
But I remember that out of all of our companions, the only ones who could go into the Red World and survive as-is were Hao and Elina.
Either way, extracting Anais out of the palace through the Red World does not sound entirely feasible to me - but I will admit that scouting via the Red World sounds like a fine idea.

Speaking of the Red World.
Insert, Arawn picked up that ability to place a mark that acted as bait for Red World entities from his fight with the Magritew, didn't he? I couldn't find it in Arawn's spell/perk list.
Anyway, I wanted to ask how easy or hard it would be to modify that particular trick. For example, turning it from a stationary mark to one we could sift and move on surfaces at will, or a "three dimensional" mark in the air.

I'm basically wondering if we could use that baiting Mark as a laser pointer or as a carrot on a stick, so to speak.
*Eyes Ensan's clothing with malicious intent*
It was more in order to conserve stealth on the way in of the breakout of as long as we can and would be entirely as loud as it needed to be on the way out, though we could mitigate the resistance on our way out by setting the palace on fire because i doubt that many people are going to stick around in a burning building for much longer than they would need to.

And if we managed the locations the that we set in fire carefully and timed it properly, Anais's disappearance would be written off as the fire having been too hot to leave any trace of the body behind, with no one any the wiser.
Shereen's a smart girl. Hopefully that realization will be the final push that gets her on board with our desire to murder her sister with extreme prejudice. She has it coming.

Also, having slept on it, trying to contact our girls and pass on the vital information we've recently acquired is about our only shot at quickly turning this bullshit around and putting Ensan on the defensive. Let's hope Arwan has an innate gift for Astropathic communication. I would love nothing more than for a teleport homing beacon to land in the courtyard of this palace and have Daiyu and our girls pop out and start asking about Anais. That'd screw up Ensan's plans quite nicely.

You cant't hear what other people are talking about from the Red World correct? That's actually a very important question right about now.

A decent plan, but one I'd save for when we have access to our other assets. It'd be better to to try and nab Anais when, say, a full scale teleport homing assault on the palace is underway.

I mean, who says we can't learn from our enemies? Get Daiyu and her allies to do to Ensan/Muribel what Ama's Gang did to Throne Town's fortress. Only with magitek or ancient artifacts instead of insanity-inducing runes. And trained elite troops instead of indiscriminate voracious horrors. We've already got the excuse they need after all.
The problem with waiting around is that we don't actually know what they want to use Anais for, and so we don't know how to best disrupt whatever plan that they have, other than getting her out.

Also if we can't get teleportation working and they have to use mundane means of transport, we could start doing damage to the defensive infrastructure quite easily, early and in such a way that it doesn't telegraph their actual plans, forcing them to split their limited manpower across multiple domains to reduce the stresses that whatever landing forces have an easier time. We could also go looking for anything that may have been set up in advance in order to prepare. e.g.use the vigil go looking for Teleport sigils ( We're not going to let that happen again, since we now know how they use them ), break up gang hideouts, distribution points and material stores (they have to distributing and storing the Pearls of Power somehow, and Ensan is going to have a hard time justifying to the Vigil's commanders why they should stop, once they get on a roll, Fortune's gang should also be quite helpful for planning and information gathering, to increase the Vigil's impact on their supply lines, and rooting out hideouts and other places of interest.)

It would be funny if we timed it just right, so we get mange her out, then the others rock up and start asking questions about Anais.
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>Insert, Arawn picked up that ability to place a mark that acted as bait for Red World entities from his fight with the Magritew, didn't he? I couldn't find it in Arawn's spell/perk list.
I've briefly scoured the Magritew threads and while I haven't seen this peculiar discussion, Arawn/Gardy indeed saw how the creature functioned, replicating its ''marking'' ability in a broader fashion as bait for regular entities isn't a farfetched notion now since you've gone into the Red World often.

That completely flew over my head.

>I'm basically wondering if we could use that baiting Mark as a laser pointer or as a carrot on a stick, so to speak.
Unfortunately, it'll remain fairly basic; Arawn essentially conjure a dummy ghost that is little more than a juicy piece of soul meat to be devoured, so it's not something that can be modified, at least for now.

I'll write up a new spell shortly.

Sound like you guys want to exercise magic with Shereen. It's too soon for me to start writing yet, but it sounds like we've got our path.
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''Shereen, you remember when we joined our magic?'' You spoke while taking a cursory glance around. This small garden was empty of foreign presence, people came and went along the main path, carrying baggage and various miscellaneous items to keep the usual flow of life within the palace, the roof was far too high for anyone to listen in realistically.

''Yeah...'' She answered carefully. ''You wanna try some more?''

''Yup.'' You nodded. ''I have a few ideas I want to try, now's the best time to know our capabilities.''

Shereen slapped her furred hands together. ''Let's try after we get some food.''

Everyone gathered one last time in front of Rupert makeshift tomb with hands close together in another prayer typical of Mother Earth faithful. It's been a harsh afternoon but nothing helped cure the heart than taking action. Your heart couldn't help but pinch sadly as you looked at the tiny mound of earth, a few hours earlier this old, big, lazy cat had made himself a nest on your legs to play with your magical arms.

His untimely demise will not be forgotten, nor wasted. As you gazed at the gorgeous colored sky, part of you wondered if the Hour of Lullaby had already started.


Supper came and went in relative silence, having Shereen spray some of her blood on the food at your insistence for purification made the girls truly understand your mindset: this was no longer a place to relax. Thus, as you and Shereen began the preliminary for this magical exercise and investigation, Banu and Zhu guarded the perimeter while beginning research of Shereen's sizeable library.

Trying to find information about Muribel sites of powers would be very difficult, if not outright impossible because Shereen interest was primarily about military history and countries outside her own with a sizeable amount of volumes about the Great Crusade but, it was certainly better than nothing, these two weren't the kind to sit around twiddling their thumbs and they were far too frustrated to train with one another without putting a little too much spirits in their punches.

Sitting in front of your little sun, she reached forward and grabbed your hands in her fluffed ones, her tanned body lighting up in a beautiful shine of red that was equally ominous. Your steely color was promptly added as you squeezed her smalled hands that, with her now regulated Corruption, weren't subject to their usual pulses of odd shapeshifting.

Which meant a lack of paw pads...

''Let's join our flows once more, this time you'll have to willingly relinquish control without breaking off.'' You instructed, trying your best to keep yourself your face composed when Shereen smiled sheepishly.

''Okay.'' She closed her eyes and concentrated and you followed, slowly starting this magical exercise...
It was surprisingly easy to find an equilibrium. You have braced for some difficulty because of emotional upheaval but, above all, Shereen trusted you to a point you could only compare with the girls you've tied your soul with. Mingling your magical flow -your souls and existence- was a slow but steady affair that she slowly but surely grew used to and as the minutes flowed in relative silence she let go of her authority, gently breaking your Battery spell to be pulled inside your existence as you re-imagined the lonely state of your consciousness.

A sky of twinkling stars, a horizon of darkness and a smooth milky white floor... You imagined a door floating in the ether, your hand grasping it, pulling it open and in stepped your little sun. Her body materialized by Blood Magic and your existences were made whole with souls; these magic mingled, tying together organically, almost creating a spark of life, joined together in primordial harmony. She was also wearing a gorgeous yet simple white sundress that waved because of an invisible ethereal wind you couldn't feel.

Body and souls were tied together in a similar, yet less intense and different way, than those four you've joined your existence with. Sourcing Shereen spell, having her will join yours like you've done so often in Throne Town resulted in a temporary yet genuine soul link that somehow didn't pull into your capacity.

Bubbles of emotions reached you. Enough sadness to make anyone cry out pinched your heart, spice of anger needed your resolve to be cooled, a quiet flame of energy burned with inexhaustible, slowly growing ambition.

''Wow, you're... you're so calm, so resolved, peaceful yet angry...'' Shereen touched your chest. Tactile sensations still lingered in this realm of souls; it truly was amazing how... organic this was. Martha needed a machine to create something similar.

''Our souls have temporarily joined now. Time in Mother Earth realm goes by slowly compared to this realm of our shared consciousness, our mouthes also aren't moving; you could say were communicating telepathically.''

''I see...'' Shereen let go of your chest, gazing around, finding emotional equilibrium with her grief because of your support. There wasn't going to be any flares getting into her head here. ''...This is your soul then? It's lonely but beautiful.''

''I like to think the stars are my memories. Still out of reach, but beautiful.'' Whilst you did your best to avoid cringing there was no hiding your awkwardness and Shereen giggled heartily.

Come on girl, a man can be a little romantic without being lame!

''Say, Arawn, before we begin...'' You felt a little wave of anger. ''...Ensan is the one who put the swine demon inside of me, right?''

Nothing at all could be hidden here, with emotions so honestly flowing they're natural, joined pathways. You didn't even need to nod, she did it for you.
''She's been holding Banu hostage for a great many years then.'' There came a surge, a flare of righteous anger mixed with grief, both mixing despite disharmony. ''I have some trouble remembering when and how it could have happened, but it did... and today she wanted my guardian gone because I had more Moons.''

Anger, disbelief, sadness, and love all mingled together in a choking emotional cocktail and in it, you found Shereen mindset. Despite what happened today, Shereen still held some love toward her kin, it was a flimsy flame almost choked out cold winds of hatred but it was there, waiting, anticipating.

''I'm glad I learned the truth here.'' She was feeding on your calm resolve. ''Tomorrow we'll... I'll have to see for myself if I have to extinguish this little flame.''

Your own disposition toward Ensan was clear, Shereen at least deserves this last chance at... well, seeing her older sister for who she was. She's a caring girl after all.

''Sorry for that distraction.'' She cratched a few strands of hair out of her face, looking quite beautiful in the contrast of night; of course she was looking at her very best right now, as a soul within your own. ''What should we try to do?''

>Try to reach the girls you've tied yourself with, those you've spoke about yesterday. They helped you against the swine prince, for a short moment you felt their will join yours... Surely it isn't impossible to communicate.

>Try a more direct exercise of Blood and Souls, spells born here that could potentially affect the real world, or perhaps the Red World. Be Practical.

>>Try to reach the girls you've tied yourself with, those you've spoke about yesterday. They helped you against the swine prince, for a short moment you felt their will join yours... Surely it isn't impossible to communicate.

If we can get any sort of communication up and running, things are going to start to be resolved quickly.

If they haven't quite mobilized yet, it may be worth it to get them to send an envoy with their demands ahead of time, in order to reduce the risk of putting too many important people in one place at one time, or pulling resources away from the search for Klesiah.
Also anything we figure out here might expedite that process.
The direction of this ritual will be important so I'll wait for more voices to be sure I get unanimity.
>Try to reach the girls you've tied yourself with, those you've spoke about yesterday. They helped you against the swine prince, for a short moment you felt their will join yours... Surely it isn't impossible to communicate.
This *has* to be at least tried. We won't know how great of an obstacle distance will be for our Links otherwise.
Was Klesiah somewhat closer to us? We could see about contacting her if we can't get in touch with Sieglinde, Hao or Elina

please tell me I didn't forget anyone we were linked to. I wasn't kidding when I said that I need to re-read the archives someday
Elina, Sieglinde, Hao and Klesiah are all of your links.

Two votes for hopefully meeting the girls, hm...
>Shereen still loves her sister
Truly girl, you are too sweet and innocent for this world. The extent of her fuckery clearly demonstrates that the feeling is not in any way reciprocated.

Might as well try to communicate with our girls. Worth a shot.
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Alright, not sure how long I need to write. Let's find out how that'll go.
Oh, a quick question. Time Zones. Ours isn't too different from theirs right? Y'know, shit always seems to be going down with us in the evenings so if our evening is their evening than it's not inconceivable that at least one of them is actively trying to communicate or at least "be open" at this time. Especially after that Porky fiasco.
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I can't give you any hints about the girls locations and/or abilities that you won't get in story for now, anon.
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''Can you help me in trying to find those girls I talked about yesterday?'' You felt a strangely potent surge of emotions as you spoke, inevitably reminding yourself of the girl's appearances. It's only been two weeks yet... all the stress you've been piling had certainly made it feel much longer but above all, was hope.

Shereen looked at you for a moment, bubbles of amusement coming to the surface of her consciousness. ''You think it'll work?'' She asked smiling.

''I don't know, having an answer to that question is... I want to find out. If we could communicate somehow, then it'll make our situation less... it'll be of tremendous help.'' You bridged the distance with the fluffy girl and held her hand, as you were doing back in the real world. ''We'll probably have to use our magic... let's stop before things get dangerous.''

''Hey, I don't mind getting a little daring if we have.'' Shereen used her second hand to gently tap your chest. ''You really care about them, huh?'' She teased, letting out a flow of surprisingly intense emotion that was quickly stiffened by renewed resolve. ''How should we go about this?''

For a moment you were at a loss... yet the idea to make it work came to mind surprisingly quickly. ''Let's think of a bridge.'' Quite literally, building a metaphor with magic to reach those far aways allies; such thoughts held power in the realm of souls.

''Ah...'' Shereen understood quickly despite being unused with this realm and its possibilities. ''Blood is the body, soul is the will.'' She nodded, squeezing your hand. ''Let's do it.''

Synchrony was easy with your joined wills, magic flowed its natural pathways, a step of sandy cobblestone suddenly materialized, then another, afterward came a long path interspersed by the alchemical lamps of Throne Town. The bridge extended into what looked to be a mile, eventually disappearing into the darkness.

Shereen took the first step, pulling you with her. ''Let's go!'' She yelled excitedly, forcing you into a brief run.


Time was difficult to measure in this plane. The sky of your soul was unmoving, the stars eternally twinkling and the path continued into the darkness eternally without interruption. The disappearance of your mindscape was the only manifestation of progress of any kind but there weren't any sensations to give you hope or hints that you were walking toward results.

Roughly one-third of your reserve and half of Shereen were spent in this lonely way. Yet as droplets of doubts doused your passion, your little sun squeezed your hand anew, pulling you into another run.


The path continued well past Shereen endurance but still, she pulled you forward despite pragmatism holding you back. Perhaps this was a waste of magic, maybe... maybe you should salvage what's left of your evening to practice something else? Finding some kind of advantage against Ensan was imperative for the good health of everyone... Failure is enough answers.
''Shereen, you're past half of your reserve.'' She ignored you, squeezed your hand harder and continued to walk. ''Thank you, but-''

''Shut up.'' She growled, not turning her head. ''Do you have any idea how much you want to see them again?''

''...'' It was always so much easier to measure the depth of other people's emotions when it came to these links. You couldn't find any retorts, so you allowed her to lead you onward as she stubbornly built her half of the bridge. Her determination was burning wildly, what is it that's motivating her like that?



After half of your reserves and 2/3 of Shereen you noticed a change. The path of sandy cobblestone came to an abrupt end, changing into a large circle, some kind of intersection of pathways. Here, four different paths extended into lonely darkness, each of them made of unique materials.

One looked to be a prairie trail, another was of comfortable wood you'd find in a school or room, one was of peerless white marbles and the last looked to be something you'd find in a church, spotless ceramics of golden blues...

Your throat was suddenly constricted by emotions. You couldn't speak, your hand moistened with sweat, Shereen easily shook it off. No way.

''Heeey!'' Your little sun voice echoed into the darkness. ''We're heeeere!'' She yelled loud enough to hurt her throat.
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From the darkness came awaited presences. Out of the path of dirt and grass emerged a girl of bronze skin, dark horns and recently short dark hair. From the road of marble came a gorgeous blond of natural luminesces with to the shiny halo atop her head. Out of inn road was a fiery headed, horned demoness whose deadly tail had skewered the wall beside her. From the saintly path was a blueberry surrounded by a gorgeous light of gold that quickly diminished, leaving behind your knight too out of breath to say anything.

All four of them looked sweaty, out of breath, as if they just now stopped an hour-long sprint. Hair clung to their faces in disheveled messes as air slowly but surely re-energized them.

''H-hey long-long...'' Your voice simply broke. The sheer and utter relief that came flooding into you could only exit out of your eyes. You don't really know who reached you first, maybe they all did, hands and bodies piled onto you from all angles.

''What the hell do you think you were doing yesterday damn it!?''
''Aaah damn it Arawn!''
''Kuuh...! A-Arawn!''

Impossible to tell who said what. It's only been two weeks since you've last talked with them, yet... Mother's Mercy, there were too many emotions to describe. All of them had been deathly worried after your battle with the swine prince. There must have been some kind of feedback, there must... Aaah damn it, you can't think! Everyone's speaking over each other, someone, all of you are crying. Meanwhile, Shereen looks on, laughing.


>Write in.
You might have come here with an objective but a little indulgence is harmless too.
Tell them how happy it makes us to see them again and ask them how they are.
If at all possible, wrap them up in a group hug with our Soul Arms. Actually, can we magic while in here?
>"Good GODS I missed you guys!"
>"But seriously, everyone take a breather and we can get each other's up to speed. All of you are *soaked*!"
How long do we have here? We gotta get everyone to calm down really quick first off because time is likely short. And why the hell is Shereen laughing? In what way is she laughing? Kind hearted and happy or is she looking disturbingly like her big sis?
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If you're honestly doubting Shereen despite your souls being joined and being able to feel her emotions you might be beyond saving, Anon-san. As for how long you have, that'll depend on the girls circumstances more than your own. The bridge isn't being built so there's no magic being spent anymore.

>Actually, can we magic while in here?
Feeling a bit drained so I'll probably make this next answer the last one for the night.
Perfect. Commence group hug! Hug two of them with our flesh arms and the remaining two with the Soul Arms.
We should introduce Shereen too, this would not be possible without her.
Phew, thinking about it I think I'll continue tomorrow. Starting to reach the limit of my stamina so I think our thread will continue for one or two more days: long enough to finish this reunion for sure. I want to write this little emotional high with proper energy.
I'm paranoid as all shit and you know it. Every time I've relaxed we got fucked. I've learned my lesson!

That said, I will back this anon's play >>4091937. I cannot think of anything better given our likely very limited time. Though I will say that our own situation is to be related to them first. What they are doing at this moment is not as important as letting them know where we are, how much danger we are in, and that Anais is here and captive in the hands of a royal mamono as evil as our sun is pure and innocent. After that, if time remains, we can catch up. Don't want to stay here *too* long though. I remember this "artificial" soul link leaves all parties extremely vulnerable and we don't got kill bots guarding our bodies within otherwise friendly territory this time.

I will ask, however, if it is the sheer amount of trust we have earned in regards to Shereen that even enabled this outcome.

This as well. They need to know that despite the circumstances she's a new friend and when we do finally reunite in the flesh that they give her a chance. They'll need to, given how I think only Sieg and *maybe* Hao would be OK with an innate Blood Mage in the party.
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>I'm paranoid as all shit and you know it. Every time I've relaxed we got fucked. I've learned my lesson!
But emotional reunion! I got emotional writing this! It's been about 5 months since I last wrote our girls!

>I will ask, however, if it is the sheer amount of trust we have earned in regards to Shereen that even enabled this outcome.
Yes. The emotional beat would have been much higher had Banu fate been... changed, but I think things are equally good. Arawn little sun pushed him onward despite his doubt and pragmatism, her magic completed his and built a solid ''bridge'' for the girls consiousness to step into, the real problem was distance.
Just hug it out my dude. Hugs heal the soul... THEN WE PLAN FOR THE COMING STORM.
>higher emotional beat
More intense perhaps as we'd be way, *way* more desperate and utterly fucked if Banu was dead. This would be literally our last card we had to play. For I doubt Fortune and our other "friends" would directly oppose Ensan. Ensan's toady gang? Sure. Ensan herself? Yeah, you don't "say no" to the deity. Especially if said deity has the national army and bullshit death pearls backing their "requests" up.

Now it's just another card, a card we can put to much more effective use with Banu's now wonderfully free to be treacherous towards Ensan brain to throw into the mix. It is sadly a major pain in the ass to use safely but hey, always good to have another tool in the box. Especially one the enemy doesn't know about.

Also, if we were to cast Soul Arms here would they manifest in the real world? That might be an issue. Then there's one more issue. How obvious is this? As in, say there's a sneaky git in the red world spying on us. Could they see something was up beyond our battery spell? This isn't the hour of lullaby so I take it if some sneaky git were to try that they'd have a chance of getting nom'd by horrors yes?
>her magic completed his and built a solid ''bridge'' for the girls consiousness to step into
Will this "bridge" be dismantled once we're done here?
If so, will Shereen's help be required to build it again in the future or will Arawn be able to do so by himself?
I would at least hope that this experience has given Arawn an inkling of an idea on how his Soul Links work.
It could also give us more insight into how we could kick Ama out permanently, or at least control when she can visit.
Since i would assume that whatever method she uses is somewhat similar to the one being used here.
...Possibly. Hopefully.

But I wouldn't get my hopes up - Ama's influence on our soul acts a "bridge-head" for her visits. Even if we manage to destroy the "bridge", the fox can no doubt just rebuild it thanks to her free entry pass.
As such, permanently putting an end to Ama's freeloading will require the destruction, nullification or the completion of the contract we signed for Ama, which should remove her influence from us.
Let's hope it doesn't come to the latter option.
>Also, if we were to cast Soul Arms here would they manifest in the real world?
Nope, you and Shereen are in a trance, holding hands back in the real world.
> How obvious is this? As in, say there's a sneaky git in the red world spying on us. Could they see something was up beyond our battery spell?
Pretty much impossible for an outside party to see what's going on since this is happening in your and Shereen's minds.

>Will this "bridge" be dismantled once we're done here?
Unfortunately, it will. Magic very rarely hold permanency in the world.
>If so, will Shereen's help be required to build it again in the future or will Arawn be able to do so by himself?
You'll need her help again.
>I would at least hope that this experience has given Arawn an inkling of an idea on how his Soul Links work.
Yes and no, it's more of a realization of what might be possible and his limits alone. Soul Links are vastly intricate things, he'll need to exercise with his magic to get some true understanding there.

>the completion of the contract we signed for Ama
Excellent idea!
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Conjuring the pair of new arms you've trained to create today happened as a rare case of raw instinct, your feelings simply...overtook your common sense. Grabbing Klesiah and Hao with your arms, your magical additions slithered along the girls backs to hold onto Elina and Sieglinde, yelps and giggles followed as you put strength in your limbs to bring everyone closer into a big ball. Elina wings unfurled wide, cocooning everyone with her gorgeous red wings, so much warmth surrounded you that you didn't know whose arms or legs were touching you...

''Gods, sweet Mother and Father I've missed you guys!'' All the emotions slamming into you had the effect of an avalanche on your poor psyche. There were so many things happening all at once: happiness, worry, anger, relief that it was downright dizzying, almost painful but you were glad to embrace it, a welcome drawback of so many links.

''Eehehehe!'' Hao wrapped her hands around your neck.
''Thanks for hanging on...'' Elina whispered, her hand coming to rest atop your scalp of (increasingly) wild hair.
''My Lord... I feared the worst after that theater play a-and yesterday... Ah?'' Klesiah, ever hesitant, was suddenly pushed a little forward to hug you.
''Jeez, indulge a little.'' Sieglinde said, trying to hide her emotions with a laugh. ''I'm still worried about you, you know? At least you're looking healthy...'' She wrapped one arm around Klesiah shoulders, trying her best to avoid squeezing on you too hard to give space for the others.

Excitement slowly dulled into a peaceful feeling of harmonious silence. Your tears dried quickly, Hao used your clothes to wipe her own, shiny glitters clung to the other three girl's eyes as their relief flooding into you was genuinely uniform. Emotions slowly subdued, nobody willing to step away...

''Guys.'' Elina wings almost masked the world of stars but thankfully, you could still feel poignant emotions affecting your soul almost timidly and the short, tanned furred limbed princess who felt very awkward indeed as a... fifth wheel standing by her lonesome. ''Guys... I want you to meet someone, she did half the work for our reunion.''

Elina had to step back and unfurls her wings even wider to let everyone get a good look at Shereen who, of course, straightened her entire body with cramp inducing rigidity.

''O-oh yes well I... we-I mean hi? No I, I am Shereen Roshanak, the true living Sun of this man and I'm glad we've finally been able to accomplish what was supposed to happen days ago!'' She said, utterly failing to be bombastic yet still believing it. With one furred hand on her diminutive chest, Shereen posed like the princess she was and had she been talented in souls, she'd have likely started glowing in some way.

''She means were friends.'' You corrected, earning a fistful of frustration and a poignant shock emanated out of Sieglinde as she understood the implications. ''How come you're all looking so sweaty? How long were you all running?''
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'O-oh yes well I... we-I mean hi? No I, I am Shereen Roshanak, the true living Sun of this man and I'm glad we've finally been able to accomplish what was supposed to happen days ago!'' She said, utterly failing to be bombastic yet still believing it. With one furred hand on her diminutive chest, Shereen posed with boyish bombast and had she been talented in souls, she'd have likely started glowing.

''She means were friends.'' You corrected, earning a fistful of frustration and a poignant shock emanated out of Sieglinde as she understood the implications. ''How come you're all looking so sweaty? How long were you all running?''

''I felt a pull...'' Klesiah said, bringing a hand on her chest, unwilling to move away from the spot Sieglinde had pushed her into. ''...different from yesterday, it was like someone knocking on a door, I needed to concentrate on the noise and then I... found myself on that road.'' Your knight briefly examined the girls who nodded their approval, having experienced the same. ''I believed that reaching the end would lead me to you.''

''I'd have made the distance in half the time if I flew but I was too scared to leave the ground, you never know with souls; everything works around emotions and belief... I thought that path was some kind of literal metaphor.'' Elina added.

''Waaaugh!? The Living Sun is not for tou!?'' Hao silenced Shereen protests by shoving the girl's face on her chest.

''Thank you, friend!'' She talked over the poor Anubis. ''Hao can see her lord again!''

Despite its futility, Shereen tried to resist, utterly failing at escaping the tribal Mamonos grasps.

''I see that... Your time in Muribel hasn't been... You're doing well?'' Sieglinde was a ball of stressful hesitation and completely failed at hiding it. ''You too Klesiah?'' Her worry felt motherly, wrapping you in comforting fluff.

The knightly woman didn't answer, she winced and the pain filtered into you, pinching your heart.

''I don't know if we have time to go into details, you guys might be awakened from the trance at any moments so I need to deliver an important new.'' Gods, you wanted to catch up on news, especially with Klesiah. Just seeing her was worth it. ''I believe my time in Muribel is about to become much, much more dangerous; today the crown princess Ensan returned.'' Hearing her sister's name cooled Shereen's passion and, ultimately, she wielded to Hao insistence and allowed herself to be hugged. ''And she enslaved princess Anais of Kreszenz.''

The girls shared another uniform emotion of utter shock, they didn't need to even begin denying your words for truth was naked in this conversation of souls.
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''It must have happened recently.'' Sieglinde, bless her heart, was already putting her mind to work. ''Listen, I haven't been in contact with my mother since our awakening in Zipangu. Her instructions were rather... strict, she wanted us all to recover and stay put but I managed to convinced my hosts to help out after, well, feeling your troubles; they take soul links very seriously on that island, thank the Mother.''

Hao let go of the little dark royal fluff, everyone attention focused on Sieglinde's dry voice. She hadn't gotten over her emotions yet.

''It must have happened when we were on the boat, communication between the Commonwealth of Gwynedd-Zipangu and Kreszenz are... daily now with all the recent troubles. My mother remains in the Allied Kingdoms and I don't have any way to contact her; it's highly likely that she and Valda have already reacted... Hells, we could arrive at the same time. This new is unlikely to become public, tensions are already sky-high amongst the kingdoms and the Faith, if the world at large learned that princess Anais was kidnapped by the monstrous Pharaoh it would be... bad.''

''So they'll take care of things covertly?''

''Makes the most sense to me.'' Sieglinde nodded at your words. ''Likely to be a joint venture between the Demon Lord forces and Kreszenz, hells maybe Gwendolyn could... Hrm. There are too many variables, Waltier and Hildegarde could also start going on a rampage...''

As three of your girls grimly resolved themselves and Hao was far too happy with hugging Shereen fluffs to care, your little sun projected genuine fear at hearing so many names she barely or didn't know. Muribel had been living in a bubble of isolation for the longest of times, Ensan action was going to put an end to that with the force of an enraged minotaur.
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'We should be here in about... two days.'' The demoness continued. ''Once we reach Muribel shore we'll need to find an adequate place to hide the boat and sneak into Marleon properly. We've got lots of people from Zipangu with us to help out: Hadraniel, their spymaster Siegfried and his bodyguard, the Tengu matriarch, lady Mebuchednazi, and her lover, Kyorn with, of course, enough agents to fill our boat. Mostly Onis and lizard woman.''

That was a lot of people. Dizzyingly so.

''Mebuchednazi?'' Shereen yelled in disbelief. ''She... She an expatriate, my... she was banished twenty years ago! How?''

''A long story.'' Sieglinde smirked. ''Try to hold on for a few more days... just a few more days.'' Her hand, covered in its usual dark exoskeleton with thick, deadly, almost bladed fingers reach for yours and squeezed it with barely restrained worry. ''We'll handle Anais's situation by then!''

...Lady White game is starting to considerably ramp up.

>Speak to Klesiah. Out of everyone, she's the one most at risk, still trapped in Lady Whtie clutches.

>Strategize with Sieglinde more, now's the perfect opportunity to get something going! Your experience in Muribel, the nuns, the gang, the state of the city itself, what kind of inn you could reunite to... All of this information is going to matter in a covert operation.

>Try to get some more information about the outside world. How are things truly going in the Allied Kingdoms? What about Sieglinde sisters, where is Belphegor, Vilma and Teruko?

>Take some time to have the girls know Shereen. She -is- your little Sun and honestly, it'd be great if they could become friends, too.

>Speak to Klesiah. Out of everyone, she's the one most at risk, still trapped in Lady Whtie clutches.

Once we sort this out, she won't have to wait long.

Looks like we're going to need to go back to Fortune, and see if she can help arrange both secure passage and lodging for as long as we need, since she should have some preexisting method, to do both.

Also If we are somewhat conservative with our Mana over the next few days we should be able to reconvene so we can finalize the planing for the landing. And there is even the possibility that we could invite her along so they can hash out the details in person.
>Strategize with Sieglinde more, now's the perfect opportunity to get something going! Your experience in Muribel, the nuns, the gang, the state of the city itself, what kind of inn you could reunite to... All of this information is going to matter in a covert operation.
It's a little cold, but all the other options are - quite simply - not pressing enough considering how the situation can blow up in our faces if it doesn't go as smoothly as possible.
We could, perhaps, try to include Shereen in the strategizing though I'm uncertain how much she can help considering how she's been a shut-in for a long time.

An impressive party lineup Sieg listed, even though I don't think we've heard about a few of them beforehand. Not enough to really bulldoze through the situation but certainly a strike team.
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Hm, both choices matter in different ways. I'll give this one a solid 30 to 40 minutes of wait for a tiebreaker.
>that strike team
Damn, they're going all out it seems. As expected, given how Ensan just fucked with the only heir of an important ally of Daiyu and the Great Golden Fluffy One. Good to know Hilde isn't in the scrap heap/graveyard, though big daddy and her going berserk ahead of the operation is a wild card that's actually quite likely to happen. Are our girls on the strike team? If they are then comms should get cheaper as time goes on. Well, unless it's mandatory that Klesiah always be included in them.

Would it be possible to ask where Klesiah is located and what she thinks will happen to her in the next few days than move onto strategize with Sieg?
>Are our girls on the strike team?
>Would it be possible to ask where Klesiah is located and what she thinks will happen to her in the next few days than move onto strategize with Sieg?
No. Speaking to Klesiah will take some time since it'll be another load of information. Gotta commit somewhere, for now.
Ok so over the next few days, a timeline for events will look something like the following.

We still have the rest of today, to gather whatever we want to take with us, since we likely won't be able to stay in the palace for much longer.

We could potentially try and reach Zerase, ASAP to inform her of events that will be happening shortly, so she can prepare for whatever army is about to rock up shortly, since we would want to minimize the chance that she gets taken out in the opening strike allowing Ensan to take control and run everything into the ground.

Has whatever else Ensan, has to tell us.
IT is possible that she has already taken care of Zerase and this is her taking control / her coronation.
We should probably meet up with Fortune to figure out what we should do with the strike team when it gets here.We should see if we can get Naveed's squad to inform the Vigil of the incoming forces if we fail to convince Zerase of the impending arrival of the the Army

The day after:
Marks the simultaneous arrival of the Army and the strike team.
IF she hasn't already Ensan will likely attempt to take control shortly before hostilities begin.

Also there is the possibility that Anais has already been moved on, so if we don't find her, we should try and get Klesiah to keep a eye out for her, also remember too mention that we found Zhu when we do get around to talking to her.
I assume that doesn't include Klesiah sadly. Damn, a man can hope but you're not that merciful...

They land in two days. The actual strike probably doesn't happen until that night or day 3. Also, Zerase doesn't need to know jack shit. Hell, nobody outside our group needs to know jack shit. That's akin to telling them about our links. Meaning giving them an indirect way of holding Sieg hostage. That's a terrible idea!
Are you voting to strategize with Sieglinde? Or speak with Klesiah for some hopeful tidbits about her situation?
I meant that our blueberry is probably still in the clutches of Ama and thus not on the boat with our other girls. Like I said, a man can hope but you ain't that merciful.
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Oh, yeah of course. If the girls had somehow saved Klesiah they'd have said so.

You ahve the power to break the tie; should I roll for it?
Would you prefer to just make her aware that Ensan has taken Anais, so when the army does rock up, she can put two and two together and figure out, what they want since i would assume that she doesn't know, which is why this is going to catch her off guard.

Assuming that she survives that long.
You know? On further thought, we're not exactly in a position to do much that would actually help Sieg's group all that much. We'd basically be giving her "if's" and "maybe's". Considering the people Sieg's bringing, we can put quite a bit of trust in their ability.

So I'll change my >>4093626 vote to:
>Speak to Klesiah. Out of everyone, she's the one most at risk, still trapped in Lady Whtie clutches.
I am most deathly worried about her, especially given that tidbit she mentioned. That "play" she spoke of. Seems Ama is keeping her informed in the overly dramatic way she prefers to do everything.

Would talking with Klesiah result in hints regarding our current situation?
Alright. Your lucky things have been stretched for a little while.
Time to find out!

This is another case of me being unsure how long I need to write, so if I'm not done in two hours then consider today over.
It's cold as all fuck but as mommy dearest has allowed Ensan to do as she pleased for this long than she kinda has this strike team coming. Should have kept a tighter leash on the Sociopath you spawned there Snake Lady.

Besides, Zerase seems to be damn good at the whole military thing. She put down the rebellion Ensan apparently sparked after she failed to do so. Meaning Ensan's a shit tactician/strategist. We want that to be in charge when this hits. Granted, she may have fixed that in the years sense but a chance at a shit commander is better than a tried and true good one opposing our girls.

However, as Zerase likely doesn't know about any of this we tell the girls to try and spare Zerase if at all possible. Ensan though? Try, please do try to kill *her* good and dead.
Zerase to me at least seems like someone that would decide to fight to the death, simply because she doesn't want to back down, even if she had no chance against the forces arrayed against her,
Especially if she thought the freedom of her people was under threat, from those whom had previously subjugated them.
Though if she was to figure out that she is being used by someone to achieve their goal, that would completely change her mind on the issue.
Also i would assume that tactical and local logistical command would be handled by the Vigil's commanders in order to best fulfill whatever goals were set out by whatever strategic plan selected for them by whomever is in charge.
which also happens to have the secondary impact of massively depleting the Vigil's resources and giving them something else to focus on, while allowing for Ensan to conserve her own forces for later on for whatever else she decides to use them.

Since i am going to assume that Ensan's capture of Anais doesn't have Zerase's blessing or foreknowledge, Zerase would not prefer to have her captive, over having to fight the assembled army and so would endeavor to hand her over of she knew that she had that option, allowing for the army to go home with their objectives complete without losses on either side, also handily providing us with a strong task force to go hunting for Ensan, her allies and whatever remains of Ama's cell and providing backup for Fortune in her struggle.
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Damn, didn't expect to be burning out so suddenly. I'll work on ending our thread tomorrow I'd say, there's quite alot of juicy, juicy infos...

I want to write more of our girls!
Damn, oh well, thanks for running. Can't wait to hear what blueberry has to say. Even though I am certain it will cause us a great deal of suffering. Damn that crit fail so long ago.
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I hope you'll finally accept the fact that Lady White is a good person!
A good villain? Yes. All good stories need those and she fulfills her role well. A good person however? Never. Not after all she's done. What's worse, she'll never truly repent for any of it. Thus, her death is our calling.

After she's dead and gone in every conceivable way we can manage, it's to make the girls happy. One in particular exceedingly happy but hey, minor details. I'm still going for a monogamy end.
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Romance is dangerous grounds...
Actually, thinking on it, they *do* want to remain subtle. Armies are not subtle. Strike/Special Op teams are, but you cannot exactly hide an army on the march. Especially if you cannot just gate/teleport them all in somehow which is something they apparently can't do or else that'd be happening right this instant with Sieg's group. So whatever's coming is gonna be a few strike teams, not an army. Granted, the strike teams incoming could *take* an army on but hey, details.

We should try to get Banu's opinion on all this at first opportunity however. Especially once we get Klesiah's portents of doom in. Betting Fortune's prophecy wasn't wrong and *that* bomb's just about to go off as well thanks to Anais being the final piece in that puzzle. Damn this is escalating at light friggin' speed.
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Kinda surprised you guys haven't realized that the people on the boat were convinced by the girls to help you out.

I'm not. Hell, they were simply the more intelligent of their kind.

Think about it, Haddy's got a sisterly bond to re-forge with Elina (with a direct threat to her life if we die) and Sieg's got a rather direct way to get Other Siggy to go along with her with a similar threat.

That is, if he wants Daiyu to truly forgive him, herself to forgive him (as he did try to waste Deru and that ain't a thing she's going to forgive easily), Arawn to forgive him (especially once we regain or memories as he somehow fucked us hard enough for us to resort to cutting a deal with *Ama* with both eyes open in the hopes her agents would kill him and his lover despite his peace offering if that jaunt in the throne was any indication), and thus accomplish a lot of things his main waifu Tsu would rather much like to accomplish with the aforementioned threat that if the Elven bastard/we die Seig likely dies too and that will fucking doom his precious fluffy daughteru in one form or another as a result? Yeah, dude, you underestimate my capacity to draw threads between actors.

Shit's actually quite simple at base, we only complicate things because we think it ought to be complicated. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they empathized with our girls and understood why they were so insistent. If they had a soul link with their beloved, and they felt *that* from across the vast distances involved? To distrust them, to disbelieve them, would be downright sociopathic. They are not, and it's a matter of honor to prove that fact. Thus, damn permissions, they must do the right thing!
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Guess I'm not as big-brained as I wanted to believe.
Actually, I just remembered more. There's a damn good reason that the mooks are mostly Oni and Lizardwomen.

Old Siggy spared an Oni Chieftan who intended to betray her kind and all of Zipangu in the hopes of saving her kind and her own vampircally corrupted and hopelessly misshapen mother during the crusade against that land led by an Exterminatus happy emissary of the Church and his ally the Embodiment of Strife.

As for the Lizardfolk, well, one bound herself to him in order to save him from most potent corruption in the opening thread of his quest. She bore him a child I believe you told us in the epilogue. She earned that right by the way, through great suffering and sacrifice so it was also her own happy ending. I'm almost about to ask if she's on Sieg's ship as well. Y'know, gotta get some training in somehow.
>ask if she's on Sieg's ship as well.

Not this time, she'd have been mentioned otherwise.

Reading the previous quest isn't necesasry but you're certainly apt at connecting dots huh?
I have a good if vague memory. Like I said, I am skilled at drawing threads and noticing where those who have the capacity will be able to draw threads.

Hence, why Shereen was able to understand what Ensan did to her with Banu's emotional slip. For how could she hide the truth from her own daughter after that desperate melee in which her second newest moon became an imitation/actual (because we succeeded) mechanical godslayer after that sociopathic sister murdered her most precious feline companion in the most horrific of ways?

That whole exchange with that dagger had no real place within the throne room otherwise except for Banu to be given that ultimatum of "Kill yourself or watch your adoptive daughter die in as slowly and horrifically painful a way as I can manage with that daemon I showed you I bound to her?"

It was dead so Banu defied her for the first time in decades. Still, I would like to think we would have been given a save to keep her from dying for, as Shereen stated, she'd rather feel agony most intense than see Banu die.
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The world doesn't stop moving. Since your healing and your time adapting to your circumstances in Muribel, the girls have been busy as well... already so close with reinforcement!

''Klesiah, how's your situation?'' She, in all likelihood, was closer to Lady White than yourself. Discounting your dream, the only hint of the vixen influence you've gotten so far came from your adventure in the church, hopefully, Klesiah isn't... in a bad spot.

''I'm fine.'' She spoke gently, smiling peacefully, aiming to reassure you and everyone else. Even Hao was listening now, having mercifully let go of your little sun (who began to round the grounds to keep herself out of reach). ''Still healthy.''

''Without having to worry about a vampire.'' Elina added, feature crowned by a rare smug smirk. ''During our sleep, Jena was killed by an alliance of Zazawu Red Guards and Teruko husband mercenary company.''

Jena is dead? Great! It almost sounds like Ama is on the backfoot...

''It... was a messy little game of the vixen. I don't know when I'll be awakened so I'll gloss over this event for now.'' Klesiah stopped and stepped away from your side now that she had everyone's attention. Hands held together in prayer, she looked lonely in the backdrop of shiny stars

''I've been in Muribel for a month.'' Your blueberry knight began, trailing her gaze on the ground. ''Lady White has deployed most of her followers in the countryside and towns without touching the capital... at least, from what I've seen. I... I've been helping Myr, the dark elf.'' Klesiah hesitated, pinching her lips together. Out of her radiated myriad of negative emotions: guilt, fear, frustration, grief... These floated into you like poisoned bubbles; worry and compassion flew back fivefold, even Shereen couldn't resist being sympathetic in front of Klesiah irresistible vulnerability.

''Our role, at least for the last three weeks, was to become brigands. We rounded dissatisfied and angry people then sacked caravans and villages, we... we've been plundering riches, kidnapping people for ransoms, even won against a few nobles bands sent against us. There's a surprising amount of angry monsters throughout Muribel willing to gain a part of... plunder.'' For someone who clung so tightly to her identity as a knight, being forced into such an endeavor is a cruel thing indeed. Maybe she was wounding people instead of outright killing them but remaining complacent to such deeds built a mound of guilt that was likely to become a lifelong regret.

''Bandits? You're...'' Shereen revulsion wasn't something you could reprimand. ''...For a month? You don't want to do it yet you've been sitting on your thumbs doing nothing!?''

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''I will be glad to be judged if the opportunity comes. For now, I've endured and will continue to do so.'' Despite her intense emotional turmoil, Klesiah spoke with such a steely edge in her voice that it completely doused Shereen outburst. ''Things have changed drastically this week because we've handed over most of our riches and subsequently culled the upsets of our band. The angel has created a cult of some kind and we've given them our plunders, essentially letting our entire band get absorbed into his message of... vengeance.''

''People are miserable everywhere I've seen.'' Klesiah continues with a little more spirit. ''Complacency, passiveness, ruthless repression from noble families, lack of goods on the market, price gouging, even rival bandits... I've traveled far and wide during these three weeks and the people seem to be little more than walking dead, be they living in farming villages or bigger towns.''

''T-that's... What? That's impossible! People in Marleon are spirited folks, active and passionate!'' You had to admit that Klesiah painted a very different picture than you've experienced.

''Yes, the general mood seems to be that Muribel capital is sucking the life out of the entire country. Lady White followers -at least the angel- has managed to gather a scary amount of people around him by wanting to take revenge on the false gods. I-I've only been able to read the general mood because they don't trust me and essentially put me and Myr under house arrest until, hopefully, we gain permission to do something.'' What was happening out there?

''But there's something else I've noticed.'' Klesiah excitement almost makes her stumble over her words. ''Lady White followers have their agency, their full mind, and capacity to do what they want; she hasn't tried to impose a contract on me or do some kind of hypnosis despite my entire year as a hostage but that blessing hasn't been extended to the dark elf.'' She breathes in, managed to keep her emotions in check thanks to your composure. ''I think she's under a geas of some kind because Myr is... she doesn't converse, she doesn't seem to live outside accomplishing objectives imposed on her but when your name is mentioned, when I talk about you Arawn, I can see hints and glimmers of feelings in her eyes. I think she might have a connection to you somehow.''

That was a whole lot of suppositions and what-ifs, it was easy to understand that Klesiah was desperate. Desperate to be useful, desperate to see you and her friends in flesh, desperate to escape Ama clutches, desperate to be useful as a knight...

''Klesiah, where are you?'' You interrupt her, getting something concrete is going to matter now more than anything.
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''In the town of Mirtydal.'' Then a worrying change occurred, the gorgeous blue colors on your precious blueberry lost their intensity and her body began to diminish, growing translucent, a similar phenomenon occurred on the bridge leading into her soul. ''Ah!? Arawn there's a-!'' She couldn't finish her sentence despite moving her lips; her very presence diminished to nothingness... Even her emotions were dulled by the distance separating you.

It occurred so quickly you didn't even have time to reach out to her!

A long silence followed, worry, anger, confusion and resolved mixed in a choking blanket. Out of everyone, Shereen was as shocked as you were.

''...What is happening out there?'' Sieglinde asked, glaring into the blanket of starry darkness that had once been occupied by Klesiah bridge.

During your time in Marleon, you haven't found anything concrete about Lady White ambitions in Muribel and, of course, all of her followers were a complete no-show. Was that because they've been avoiding the capital, knowing you'd be there? But this business with Anais... it has to be connected right? Right!?

Or maybe... The princess of Kreszenz was a bait to direct your attention elsewhere? Soon, Marleon will be infiltrated by very strong individuals who could use good help and information from the palace... But was any of that truly connected to Lady White?

''Arawn should find her.'' Hao broke the silence, her worry and care pouring out in an honest wave of genuine love. ''Klesiah is in danger, she needs to be helped.''

''But, we'll... Were going to see each other so soon!'' You had to grit your teeth to avoid looking pitiful, even if there was no hiding your feelings. Gods dammit two days, just two days!

''Mirtydal is about two days on the road from Marleon.'' Shereen spoke timidly. An irritated tsk came out of your angelic friend.

Unlike Elina and Sieglinde, Hao wasn't held back by doubt. Following her heart above all, she gently grabbed Shereen's hand (causing your little sun to yelp in protest) and walked to you, putting her hand on your chest.

''Find her, you two.'' Simple words yet delivered with such clear eyes, unyielding pure intent.

Tomorrow you'll have to handle Ensan second little trial, come what may and after that... Ah, damn it. You didn't have the chance to tell Klesiah about Zhu!

>...You'll need to leave as soon as possible to find Klesiah. Lady White followers aren't operating in the capital, you've got to counter their plots!

>...Remain in Marleon. Princess Anais is in peril, you can help in releasing her. And you will succeed.

>Free (Is there a compromise somewhere...?)

As you can guess, this is another very important choice that'll shape the next trials you'll have to surmount. Might have to take another long wait here to get a good amount of voice.
Sonova fuck, Klesiah's been *that* close this entire time?? That had to have been intentional on Lady White's part.
Also, it sounds like Ama's pet angel has been given free reign to do whatever he wants as long as said whatever helps accomplish Ama's goals/plans for the region.

Could we have Shereen relay whatever she knows about the palace's layout to Sieglinde? Every little bit of info Sieg's strike team has will be helpful.

...And now that I think about it...
If, *if* we were to go after Klesiah and Shereen came with us, we can use that to bait out forces from the palace! Well, assuming Zerase would hear about Shereen dissappearing. Hard to plan around someone you know so exceedingly little about.
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>Could we have Shereen relay whatever she knows about the palace's layout to Sieglinde? Every little bit of info Sieg's strike team has will be helpful.

Unlike Klesiah, everyone else is in a secure location so there's little chance of interruption. Doing that will take a good amount of time, but it's possible.
>...You'll need to leave as soon as possible to find Klesiah. Lady White followers aren't operating in the capital, you've got to counter their plots!
>...You'll need to leave as soon as possible to find Klesiah. Lady White followers aren't operating in the capital, you've got to counter their plots!
>..Remain in Marleon. Princess Anais is in peril, you can help in releasing her. And you will succeed.
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I'll still give this one some time, maybe an hour or two. I know where the mood is going but maybe it could go another way and it's an important choice.
Alright then. Have Shereen share what she know of the palace.
As for our favourite blueberry knight, let's get after her. I'm not entirely convinced she's in immediate danger, but gods damn if we'll ignore the chance to retrieve her from Ama's clutches!

Besides, disrupting this cult could end up relieving pressure on Sieg's team. Sounds to me like the entire city might come under a raid soon-ish, making extracting more difficult.
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A raid would some significant force because the city is pretty damn big.

I'll start writing at 7pm I'd say. Maybe someone could convince players to do something else, I'd like to leave that chance.
Her lips moved but no words came out? Damnit Arawn, please tell me you or somebody else tried to read them damnit!

Joy, friggin' joy. Dark Tonfa Bitch has been fully brainwashed (likely because she wants to have that fight Sieg's transformation robbed her of) and the evil angel is fomenting a rebellion along with all of Ama's apostles. Question, if she's just 2 days away do we at least have a homing beacon that's more accurate than a simple cardinal direction in regards to her? I severely doubt they're going to stay put after this. Also, if she is that close why didn't we feel that? Ama fuck with our soul again?

Going after her also means picking a fight with said apostles and the peasant army they've gathered to their cause and our party is not powerful enough to kick all their asses by ourselves (a thing the other anons might be forgetting). Fortune's fighters that helped us and the vigil folks, they for hire? We need more powerful combatants if we hope to not die in futility with that option. Also, Elina is on that ship, if we were to go for Klesiah could we request that she split off and make all due haste for our position in about 24 hours? We are in desperate need of a healer and they'd still have Haddy and Kyorn.

Finally, this is all going according to my worst case scenario. See, to power a doomsday spell you need a likewise apocalyptic scale catalyst. Nothing like the wholesale slaughter you get when sacking a capital city to get those juices flowing. Anais and some death pearls are just the necessary magnesium strip igniter to get this thermite keg going...
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>Question, if she's just 2 days away do we at least have a homing beacon that's more accurate than a simple cardinal direction in regards to her?
Arawn has been far too distracted to really inspect the links in recent days, but you'll be able to easily pinpoint Klesiah location.
>Fortune's fighters that helped us and the vigil folks, they for hire?
It depends, you'll have to convince them.
>Also, Elina is on that ship, if we were to go for Klesiah could we request that she split off and make all due haste for our position in about 24 hours? We are in desperate need of a healer and they'd still have Haddy and Kyorn.
That's a potential compromise.
Alright, it does sound like were deciding toward leaving.
Helping their little sun stop a bloody peasant rebellion before it even starts and thwarting the machinations of the Fox of Poisoned knowledge not enough for them? Damnit, well, if appeals to the better part of mamono nature aren't enough Banu's phat stash of cash ought to. How the hell do we sneak that shit out anyway? It jingles and jangles when you wiggles it!

Will we get the option to request Elina's assistance once you finish the update? Since we are leaving and the whole damn countryside is apparently gunning for the royal family we'll need those shields and heals. I'd like to hope Shereen's obscurity would help here, but I just know Ama's followers fed them peasants a description. Also, could Elina bring a mook along as well if requested? Meatshields are always nice to have on hand.
>How the hell do we sneak that shit out anyway? It jingles and jangles when you wiggles it!
She prepared for this and put everything in small bags that can easily fit inside bigger travel ones.
>Also, could Elina bring a mook along as well if requested? Meatshields are always nice to have on hand.
No, she'll need to fly far and swift for likely an entire day. Whilst she did accomplish a small miracle of speed previously, the distances involved cannot be compared.
Big fat travel sacks still hamper stealth. I do earnestly hope Banu has a plan for how exactly to get out of a hostile palace without Ensan immediately finding out given that as we will need to stop by Fortune's joint and hopefully the vigil folks so as to get a good and proper adventuring team going and manage a head start out of the city limits.

We will be up against Ensan/Zerase's retrieval forces, the countryside peasantry, *and* Ama's own apostles (one of which is a high ranking angel). Us four are quite simply not up to that task by ourselves.

Killing that angel is going to be a primary objective of all this I'm afraid. To stop this rebellion from going down we need to stop the demagogue cult leader instigating it. Decapitation is enough to stop most angels right? Also, does Shereen have a book on constellation magic or something? I have a feeling there might be a magic in there that'd greatly aid our cause.
>Decapitation is enough to stop most angels right?
Yeah but accomplishing that feat is another matter.
> Also, does Shereen have a book on constellation magic or something?
Damn. Well I bet Fortune does given her specialization. We'll have to ask for one on our way out.
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Your mind was a blur of indecision. Yesterday had been a great triumph, this morning was peaceful despite having a tense discussion with Fortune and the moment Ensan arrived, everything changed. New priorities, a new reality, new circumstances forcing you to adapt...

Hao grabbed a fistful of your shirt, shaking her arm. Her sincere worry wouldn't have needed joint souls to translate her intensity; Klesiah had been Hao knightly compatriot for just a short while but the girl did put immense value in that realization.

''Yeah, we should find her.'' Hao smiled and nodded, tidbits of sadness bubbling out of her - Elina and Sieglinde too- on realizing that a true reunion was still out of reach.

''That's... I don't understand how or why I... what? Is it another rebellion?'' Shereen wasn't so serene. grasping onto her forehead with long furred fingers, she gazed at the ground, stuck in her doubts.

''Come what may Shereen, are you willing to find out? It is incredibly odd that we haven't heard anything about such a fearsome band of bandits, I believe our only choice is to reach the source of troubles.''

An intense feeling of hesitation raced across the artificial link, crackling with fearsome intensity and, just like lightning, it dissipated quickly. ''Banu put it best, didn't she? We can't coexist with Ensan. I doubt she'll allow us to leave before her second punishment, things should be simpler afterward.''

''Damn it.'' Sieglinde growled, frustration boiling out of her, easily shown as she bit her lips, mutated hands clenching into fists. ''Just two days...''

What happened next was a lengthy discussion about your discovery in Marleon. Ensan potential stash of dead pearls, your discovery inside the church and the nun's suspicious activity, the looming gang war in the capital and your alliance with Fortune, describing who she was, her area of operation, your friends in the Vigil... Learning about Horkus almost made Sieglinde choke on her tongue.

''Elina, do you think it'd be possible for you to reach me after landing?'' Out of everyone, Elina was always the quiet one and inspecting her feeling revealed such steely resolve that it made you genuinely worried. She had entered this state of mind midway through your deluge of information.

''Mh... found me out huh?'' She responded with a little laugh, wings flapping nervously. ''I was gonna do that. You see, angels can hide their wings... with the help of a soul link, Hadraniel and Kyorn will be able to do it and keep themselves quiet, things wouldn' be so simple with me.'' Almost stomping her way to your level, the angel luminous golden circle flashed, galvanized by her determination and she put her hand atop your hand. ''Once we make landfall I'm going to race to you so do what you can to help Klesiah in the meantime.''
Elina wasn't prepared when you wrapped her in a hug. Her wings enclosed around your back without her notice, a surge of embarrassment caused them to make few powerful slaps on your back as she stepped back, ready to protest but ultimately smiling when Hao invited herself into your arms.

''Hao will make her lord proud.'' She spoke loud and clear. ''Princess helped with her people back then... Hao has a debt, Princess will be safe.'' A mischievous smile grew on her features and it was your turn to feel embarrassed.

Rising on her tiptoes, Hao gave your lips a quick peck and detached yourself from your (now weakened) arms, spinning around under the collective consternation, giggling her heart out. Intense timidity soon trampled over her courage and the girl took off running into her natural bridge, disappearing before suffering reprisal.

''Ah, I'll, I'll be okay there's...'' You quieted Sieglinde protest by hugging her, and she yielded quickly. Her soul was a ball of worried stress that couldn't be healed by this precious gesture but it helped. Resting her face on your shoulder, Sieglinde breathed deeply to settle her heart, one hand around your neck. ''...Be careful. I know you like to think things through but we both know how much you're willing to give.''

Giving your chest a playful tap, Sieglinde forced you to take a step back as she breathed in deeply, turning to observe Shereen who couldn't help but straighten her back.

''Don't burn yourself out for people who don't deserve it. Arawn cares about you much more than he's willing to admit, I can see why.'' With this prophetic sentence, Sieglinde walked onto her bridge, quickly rejoining her conscious mind with her body.

Elina reached to ruffle Shereen hair and followed her friend and liege, last to go, with her inner shine gone the world was engulfed back in lonely darkness.

''All of your praises were completely true, huh?'' She commented. You couldn't find words to answer, your throat was constricted by a rather... uncharacteristically intense surge of emotions. All you did is reach to grab Shereen's hand, wordlessly communicating your intention.

Now was the time to stop this magic, to destroy this bridge...

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When your consciousness returned into Mother Earth realm the world was drenched in darkness, Shereen room kept tastefully lit by torches and lamps. Banu and Zhu immediately joined you and Shereen as both of you stirred.

''Hey...'' you said, feeling very thirsty. ''...we'll be seeing Klesiah again soon.''

Zhu's single chromatic eye widened, her expression sharpening with a dangerous smirk. ''Guess that makes today's interest paid.''


>A Tale of Monsters -The Witch Game- end.

Now, I know I promised a short story but I'm honestly feeling like planning the next thread and potentially running it this Saturday or Sunday. It'll be shorter than usual, focused on Ensan second punishment and how you handle leaving Marleon.

Things have moved quickly, hm? Spending two weeks with Shereen has been peaceful...
>Rising on her tiptoes
...Hm, I was under the impression that Hao was taller or at least on an even height with Arawn. I've no idea why or how I formed this conclusion.
>Hao gave your lips a quick peck
Bruh did Hao technically just steal Arawn's first kiss?!
We've been *sullied*, we can never become a husband now! This demands retribution!
The question is, will we need to resort to the dice to secure horn and scale touching? And if we lose a game, what will Hao want as a reward.

>Things have moved quickly, hm? Spending two weeks with Shereen has been peaceful...
perhaps a bit *too* peaceful! I had forgotten how tough the options you give us can be.
>Bruh did Hao technically just steal Arawn's first kiss?!
Does it count if it was a dreeeeeam?
>perhaps a bit *too* peaceful! I had forgotten how tough the options you give us can be.
Now now, be glad you made new friends!
>Does it count if it was a dreeeeeam?
She consciously chose to go forward with that peck on the lips. Therefore yes, it does count in my book!
And this is *far* from a mere mundane dream.
>Now now, be glad you made new friends!
...Touché. Though them staying with us will depend on the circumstances and the will of the Dice Gods.

Hmm. Should Banu and Shereen decide to come with us to Throne Town, I wonder how well Banu and Priscilla would get along. They're both dutiful and loyal servants, after all.

And now I shall head to sleep, I shall eagerly await the next thread! Thanks for running!
"Peaceful" eh? Well, that one week we spent training might be called that even though Banu beat the shit out of us for most of that.

Afterwards, while we didn't get into a *bunch* of fights we stealthed our way into a Church, Shereen almost got assassinated (now we have the likely culprits for that one), and then there was the pig demon.

Yeah, I wouldn't exactly call it peaceful. Stressful is more like it. Also, did Hao just kiss us? Points for being assertive girl. I do like women who know what they want and go for it. Within reason, Zhu was/is a bit *too* assertive. Still like her, but damn girl, at least take us out for dinner or spend a week getting to know us again before you try to jump into our pants!
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>And now I shall head to sleep, I shall eagerly await the next thread! Thanks for running!
Thanks for being here!
>"Peaceful" eh? Well, that one week we spent training might be called that even though Banu beat the shit out of us for most of that
That's called bonding.
>Also, did Hao just kiss us?
>at least take us out for dinner or spend a week getting to know us again before you try to jump into our pants!
Technically, she's known you for a long time...
Yeah, but we technically don't know her anymore. Thus we'd need to get to re-know her a bit before it'd be OK for her to flat out proposition us. She was, and likely still is, going to pin us down and take our V-card if she gets the chance!

Now for another topic. Once we've reunited with Elina in 3 days (I think) would we be able to try and retrieve our memories? That'd be the fastest way to "power level" ourselves and we did progress pretty far down the combat tree of our magic before dying. Given how we're about to pick a fight with Ama's apostles and their army of angry peasants that matters quite a bit.
>Once we've reunited with Elina in 3 days (I think) would we be able to try and retrieve our memories?
I can't answer. you'll need to make a judgment call here, Arawn and consequently you guys, are starting to get some real understanding with souls now, especially with Shereen help.
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It will depend on the situation. How badly we ourselves need more power in a short amount of time.

Wait... We have "fork" and with Shereen we essentially have a living version of Martha's machine for artificial soul links. With her joined to us we may well be able to fork it with the help of our soul arms and thus draw Banu and Zhu into that realm without it. With that artificial seance of souls we may well be able to retrieve our memories as if our girls were there instead.

That is, if we need more than a single link to safely retrieve memories (even if the caveat is that they will *see* them along with us come what may) we may already have all we need. This will have to wait until after we have secured the aid of the Vigil bros and/or Fortune's elite for that theoretical ritual will leave all of us as vulnerable as newborns abandoned on the road we'll be traveling towards our knight.

I am most disturbed by what she tried to tell us as well. We had "a-" and then she was cut off. Again, didn't we try to read her lips? Didn't the others try as well? Surely we or they get a vague guess or a dice roll at least.
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>Again, didn't we try to read her lips? Didn't the others try as well? Surely we or they get a vague guess or a dice roll at least.
Lip reading isn't a common skill but Klesiah was also a bit too shocked by her sudden awakening to say anything after that ''a''
A vague guess is all I ask. Surely we had one, one that might get a lot less vague if we run it through Gardy's AI if we resort to a fusion down the line.

The fact that his will is not there still scares the shit out of me because no reunion will be complete without his banter but like I said before it would be, sadly, just like him to die his final death and leave us that fragment of his power as his final act of protection.

Though I must wonder a yet other final query. Mother Earth and Father Sky, what are their limits? If they can bend time or something somehow it may yet be possible to save that glorious robot from his chosen end...
>A vague guess is all I ask.
Hm, I almost want to but I'll have to remain firm here.
>Mother Earth and Father Sky, what are their limits?
They are the gods who finally ended the awful age of Pretenders, their ''limits'' isn't entirely known because, in time of crisis, it's a given that they've been known to operate well outside the area of their faithful.

Mother Earth is the only one known to be taking action rather often but nobody can pinpoint when and why accurately, outside of that they are both believed to be governing life itself, one completing the other; yin and yang of harmonious life. The only thing they can't do that is publicly acknowledged is resurrections.

I'm planning for act 3 (if Arawn doesn't die anyway) to have a focus on the faith, there's a whole lot to discover about the Parent Gods.
Meaning we probably will die given what you're going to throw at us. Query: How likely are we to take our girls down with us? I mean, given how we've got that last shard of Gardy's existence/soul within us it's better than a 60/40 chance they live on yes?
Gardy didn't protect his daugtheru by giving into despair!
No he did not. Yet then again he didn't have a deity/GM quite as maliciously addicted to suffering as you to contend with.

Again, I don't mind this. For if it was easy to deny you your harvest of sorrow I'd have ducked out long ago. You are ever attentive in regards to avenues of inflicting suffering upon us, yet you're also fair. Hence why I'm still here. Ensan has no clue about the hardcore treason we and Shereen just committed yes?
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>You are ever attentive in regards to avenues of inflicting suffering upon us, yet you're also fair.
I'd say it depend on the situation... But I do try my best to be fair. Even when the dice are so consistently against me!

>Ensan has no clue about the hardcore treason we and Shereen just committed yes?
What treason?
Shereen spilled all the beans she could in regards to the palace to the strike team aligned with Daiyu led by her own firstborn that will almost certainly kill Ensan and Zerase dead if they are dumb or unlucky enough to get between them and Anais if they don't just bow down and surrender withing 10 seconds. That's pretty damn treasonous by most standards...
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The discussion took place inside a meeting of souls via a magically constructed nexus. Horkus, who's been infesting Shereen soul, is also 100% dead, allowing you to make an artificial soul link with her unimpeded.

Do you think she could have spied on that?
By herself? No, impossible. Yet the pearls are a thing. If she had access to pearls other than those pertaining to "death" than nothing would be totally off the table.

Granted, it'd be a total ass pull for her minion to not only not get nom'd by red world horrors without a nat 20 to back them up but to also infiltrate that seance without anyone of us/the girls noticing but hey, it's still possible. Triple Crit required possible but hey, like I said, I've learned my lesson. I cannot be truly *too* paranoid anymore.
You'll have to continue being afraid then! Ohohoho!
I didn't make any rolls so take that as you want.
>that spoiler
Good on you for making me even more scared then. Err, a rather significant question. That curse Ensan used on the kitty. How bad would it be if we got hit by that? Could a fusion prevent us from dying to that? Could she possibly make us a horrifically misshapen leper if she so desired to invest enough death pearls into Shereen's suffering? Would that be unreasonable enough for Zerase to actually get off her own ass and reprimand Ensan for being a total bitchcunt?
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Pearls can kind of... break the established rules of magic, at least in some ways. You've had a lesson today, so anticipate accordingly.
I must sleep now, but I have an inkling of an idea as to how they can fuck over anyone ignorant of their existence or function.

Hopefully our Sieg, classic Sieg, or that exiled lover of Kyorn has the skill/knowledge necessary to inform them all of what might hit them and, more importantly, how to counter it if only in such a way that it buys them another moment of life in the face of certain and irrevocable death...
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