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You are Arthur Bernhard: 20 year old leader of a group of scattered fugitives, killer of both men and monster, wielder of the Power of Destruction and Dark Lord Candidate beholden to Chaos.

It seems that peaceful times have come to an end for you. After a grim foretelling by Chaos regarding your own death, you were prepared for an assault upon leaving the cruise ship, however you weren't prepared for an attack by Alucard himself, culminating in an utter defeat in which you only barely escaped thanks to a teleportation spell cast by Sophia.

Now you are in an unknown location with Anna and the seemingly lifeless body of Alura accompanying you. Alura unfortunately took a horrible wound in the confrontation with the Dorin Organization, cleaving her in two. Despite all this though, it seems that for now at least, you have overcome your prophesized death. Regardless of your loss to the dhampyr, you managed to overcome destiny itself. Though it's little consolation for you right now after having been so soundly and effortlessly defeated.

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=WhatIsAQM

Character Sheet: https://pastebin.com/zZKZAjgU
>>
"Anna. You're wrong about something, about how operating on Alura is impossible." Time is of the essence right now, and you can't really spare any now. "You're forgetting something quite important about me."

Her eyes seem to light up as she remembers just what your ability entails for being able to operate on somebody. You just need to be careful in doing so, and extracting Alura's 'heart' will be a simple matter. "Of course! You're right Arthur! But... you'll have to follow my instructions to the letter if we want to do this and save her." You nod silently at her as she lays Alura's body on the floor. "Right now, Alura's core is connected to her dying body. If it remains in it for too long, eventually, the core will also die. Think of it like taking a cutting from a flower when the rest of the plant has been stricken by a disease." Her explanation is hasty, but she tries to explain the basics of just what it is you'll be doing. "How... precise... is your control of your ability, also? Can you limit yourself to following exact measurements?"

"It shouldn't be that difficult to restrict the power to a thin needle or varying length, as needed." You're confident in your own ability at least to that degree, if it can be used to save Alura now, then you'd have pushed past your limits regardless.

"Excellent then, just... bear with me for a second." Anna hastily begins removing Alura's dress, or at least the half of it that remains after her injury. Eventually culminating in Alura's naked body being exposed to the two of you. You might have been embarrassed or even have flushed red at the sight, if the situation had been less terribly dire. "Oh, and hand me the torch. I'm going to need to be the one providing light for this."

You quickly pass her the flashlight as you stare at the motionless body laid out before you. "Right. Where do I start then, Anna?"

"Alright, here's what we're going to do, I'm going to trace over the path you need to cut, and you're going to follow me while cutting... 2 centimeters deep. Understood?" You nod as Anna begins to trace a finger just above the diagonal cut that separated her into two pieces. You follow her actions as she does so, ending up cutting away a circle of Alura's flesh and revealing a strange almost spherical object in the center of Alura's chest underneath her skin. It pulses slightly, just like a heart would, yet rather than looking fleshy, like the rest of the interior of her body it has a reddish-green hue and appears far more rigid and tough than a human body would be.

What you can only assume are the equivalent of her veins and arteries are connected to the strange facsimile of a heart. You look over to Anna as she scrutinizes Alura's core. "What do I do next, Anna?" She seems to concentrating heavily on attempting to remember as you watch the core of Alura's being pulsate.
>>
"Next up I think we need to sever the tubes connected to her core going from the largest to the smallest. Then all we need to do is... extract it." Of course, you know that surgery is supposed to be far more complex than this, and deep down hope that Anna's advice is correct. She's the one who's spent most of her life specializing in the field of magical botany though, and it's true that Alura's body is clearly far more durable than that of a normal person. You doubt it would be possible for any human to survive sustaining an injury like Alura's without immediately dying.

You remain silent as you comply with Anna's instruction to cut the tubes binding the heart-like organ to Alura's body, and as the last of the tubes are cut, you take one last look at Alura's body. Her face, so peaceful in it's eternal rest despite the agonizing pain she was in prior to falling unconscious, makes your heart ache in sorrow. In one final motion, you grasp ahold of the core organ and pull it free from Alura's body.

As you look at the still pulsating organ in your hand, only a single question could possibly come to your mind as you stare directly at Anna. "Did it... Did it work? What do we have to do now?"

Anna, for the first time since your escape against Alucard, allows herself to smile. "It worked, Arthur. As for what we need to do now, I suppose we're going to have to plant her. Though the question is should we plant her here or should we wait until we can find some sort of plant pot to carry her around in... Maybe a pot for her would be better, we don't know if we're going to be pursued, so leaving her here might not be possible..."

As Anna seems to think about what would be the best way to transport Alura around from now on, a strange flash of inspiration strikes you. If Alura was put through this because of she was too weak compared to that damn half-vampire, then what if you could make her next body strong enough so that she could fight against him on more even terms? Of course, the thought would be impossible if not for one thing you picked up quite some time ago in the mansion.

Of course, you don't know just what effects these potions will have on her, but you get the odd feeling that these potions would make whoever ingested them stronger, even if it were only a temporary effect. You pull three of them out of your pocket at random, ending up with the green, the silver, and the yellow vials grasped firmly in your hand. You proceed to take off the lids sealing them shut and pour half of each of the vial upon Alura's core, which strangely appears to absorb the liquids like it was some form of sponge.
>>
You really hope that Alura isn't too upset by your act of somewhat spontaneously forcefeeding her potions. You hope even more so that your instinct was correct and the potions were truly beneficial. Thankfully, it seems like whatever those potions did, the odd seed-shaped object you now hold seems to appreciate them, as it swells with power and grows an ever so tiny amount.

"Arthur. What did you just pour on Alura's core?" Anna sits behind you, her voice sounds quite annoyed by your actions.

"Oh. I don't quite know, honestly. They were potions I found hidden in the mansion, so I thought I would try to make Alura stronger with them." You shrug as you put the vials back in your pocket

Anna's response to that a sputter in place of an actual sentence before she places her palm on her face in disappointment. "I... I see." She removes her hand as she takes a look at the seed you're holding. "You're just lucky that Alura seems to appreciate whatever it is you did. Otherwise we would be having a very long talk about why you shouldn't feed unknown potions to people." She takes on a stern tone as she reprimands you for your, admittedly in-hindsight, foolish actions. "But... as it is, whatever those potions were, they might just end up making Alura strong enough to kill that loathsome Alucard. One of them looked a lot like a strength potion to me. The yellow one, I mean." She then takes another look at the seed in your hand with an appraising eye. "With any luck, due to her species' fairly unique biology, her body will end up being able to replicate the effects of those potions indefinitely."

"Interesting. That would certainly be helpful... by the way, how much does this potion of strength increase physical strength by anyway?" Knowing for certain how much this potion could help Alura also helps you. You didn't use all of it on her, after all, and being able to increase your physical strength

She gets up and tries to brush herself off as she answers. "If it's anything like the recipe I know of, then it should increase the person who ingests it's strength by a magnitude of three. Though it only lasts a few minutes and almost always ends up causing severe muscle damage in any human that tries to use it. They aren't often used due to being such a last resort option, in many cases, the muscle damage is permanent, too." That does sound like a pretty major drawback for a temporary boost of strength... "Arthur? Aren't you going to get up?" Anna then notices the state your leg is in, and gasps in shock and the damage that you've been trying to avoid bringing too much attention too. You're almost certain that it's broken. "Y-your leg! Aren't you in pain?" The question is difficult to answer. While you were in pain when you received it, and any additional strain on the wounded limb causes you a spike of pain, when you're just sitting on the floor, you can hardly feel it!
>>
"Oh. Right. That's going to be a problem, isn't it?" Your response is one without any real emotion, but your current lack of any pain aside, being unable to walk is going to be a real issue. For all you know, the two of you could be in the middle of nowhere, miles away from any potential rescuer.

"Just hold on, Arthur. I'm going to find some wood to make a splint, then I'll see about setting the bone." Her smile has once again vanished as she looks at you with a worried expression.

>Allow Anna to find some wood suitable to make a splint with. You're going to need to walk one way or another
>Ask for her support so you can go with her to fetch the wood.
>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage (Which potion?)
>Write-in...
>>
>>4278480
>>Allow Anna to find some wood suitable to make a splint with. You're going to need to walk one way or another
Oh Arthur. You really will be the Dark Lord people deserve.
>>
>>4278480
>>Allow Anna to find some wood suitable to make a splint with. You're going to need to walk one way or another
Don't forget a nice thick fallen branch too. Nice walking stick/temporary cane. Maybe even a crutch if it's big enough.
>>
>>4278480
>"Oh. Right. That's going to be a problem, isn't it?" Your response is one without any real emotion.
Is this autism? Pretty sure this is autism.
>Allow Anna to find some wood suitable to make a splint with. You're going to need to walk one way or another.

>>4278526
Dark Lord to Dank Lord when?
>>
>>4278549
>Dark Lord to Dank Lord when?
When he starts making dad jokes at any vampires he sees just in case he is spiritually their grand father or something.
>>
>>4278480
>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage (Which potion?)
The blue one.

We should keep a vial of each allies blood to find them when we're separated like this in the future.
>>
>>4278480
>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage (Which potion?)
Blue.

>>4278639
But if we do that we have no way of meeting Theresia again.
>>
>>4278549
>Dank Lord when?
You know, we do have an ally that can grow, control and enhance plants. We could get the kind of shit they smoked in 'nam.
>>
>>4278480
>>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage (Which potion?)
Blue.
Whoops, forgot to vote with all the dank lord stuff. Hope it still counts.
>>
>>4278480
>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage (Which potion?)
Blue
>>
>>4278480
>Allow Anna to find some wood suitable to make a splint with. You're going to need to walk one way or another
I know Blue is probably healing, but I'm genuinely iffy on just quaffing it without Anna saying it's fine.
Besides we might need it for someone else.
>>
We are now tied between splinting the broken leg and drinking a currently unidentified potion.
I'll probably end up rolling a dice if it's not resolved by the time I can start writing.
>>
>Before she leaves, try drinking one of your potions to heal the damage.
Blue just to break the tie
>>
"Wait a second, Anna. Before you go, I have another potion that might help out." Anna raises an eyebrow as you fetch the two still full potions from your pocket, her eyes widening slightly as she catches sight of the blue potion.

"Arthur. Is... Is that a healing potion?" She asks, almost in disbelief at the magical concoction you are holding.

"I don't really know, actually. It looks kind of like one, but there's something about it that just looks a little different." Compared to the potion you saw Grigori imbibing, this mixture just doesn't really look the same. Similar, but distinctly different.

There's a long awkward silence between the two of you, and even the spherical core in your hand momentarily pulsates rapidly. Then, Anna looks you in the eyes. "Arthur... Why didn't you mention if you might have had a healing potion before we operated on Alura?" She runs a hand through her hair and calms down just a bit. "But I suppose that carrying around Alura's heart is much easier on us compared to trying to move half of a corpse about." Alura's core once again pulses at that comment, it seems that Alura is aware of what's going on right now, despite having lost almost her entire body.

"I guess it just slipped my mind at the time... Sorry, Alura." You directly address the seed in your hand as apologetically as you can manage, before Anna holds out her hand, eyes fixed on the heart.

"I'll take care of Alura from now on, Arthur. She's survived for now, but she's really weak right now. If her core takes any damage, then there will be nothing we can do to help her." Anna makes a solid point as you hand Alura over to her. After all, you are far more likely to get involved in a fight than the botanist girl, who is strictly a non-combatant. As she takes the core of the plant woman from you, she smiles happily, placing it safely in one of her dresses pockets.

As she takes the core from you, you finally unseal the blue potion and pour the contents down your own throat. The potion tastes like a strange herbal mix that you can't place, with a distinct strawberry flavor underneath the herbs. The strawberry flavor does not however make drinking it a more pleasant task though, and it's really all you can do to prevent yourself from spitting the potion out.

Thankfully, you manage to swallow the horrible mix, and moments later feel an odd sensation bubbling within you. A faint white glow surrounds your body as you look down at yourself. Then, impossibly, you see your broken leg begin to shift by itself, setting itself right in seconds.
>>
Anna looks positively shocked by the effect the potion had on you as you rise to your feet, testing your new leg slowly and being amazed at the complete lack of pain. In fact, not only is there a lack of any sort of pain, you feel even healthier than you were before you were injured! Whatever was in that vial was some powerful stuff. But you can't help but wonder whether it would've been put to better use being given to Alura. If it could restore your leg so quickly, then could it have even regenerated her body? It would have stabilized her at least. "Looks like I won't be needing a splint after all, Anna." You marvel at the effect of the potion, though any sort of amazement you would normally feel at the miraculous magic is heavily dulled by the gnawing thought that Alura might've been better off having been given the potion instead. Especially as she's already shown herself to be quite capable of healing you by herself.

As you experiment with your repaired leg, Mistral finally makes an appearance, looking queasy and dazed as she crawls out of your suit. "Oh good. You survived, Arthur... I'm glad..." She's clearly still half asleep, but she appears terribly nauseous, so you can't find it in your heart to hold it against her. She slowly makes her way up your body and crawls onto your shoulder. She sits down upon you and quietly sighs. "That spell that vampire used to get you all away from that place was dangerous... you know? It took a lot out of me, but I at least made sure that nobody would fall to their death from such an unstable teleportation before it activated..." She leans back and takes a large breath of air. "Inter-dimensional teleportation isn't exactly an easy spell to cast, after all. Even normal teleportation tends to end up with most of it's practitioners falling to their death or embedding themselves deep in the ground, so it was never a very popular form of magic..." Mistral slumps down on your shoulder a little as she is momentarily overcome by exhaustion, she seems fairly knowledgeable on the topic, but you don't have the leisure to chat with her about it right now. You were too distracted to really focus on it before, but a huge problem lies before you.

"As interesting as your vast knowledge on the history of teleportation magic is, Mistral. It's dark, cold, and it's getting late. So we really ought to find some fort of shelter before Anna and I start freezing to death... but, thank you, for protecting everyone." You thanks is sincere. Sophia, Holly and Coller might not have been imperiled by the possibility of falling to their deaths, but Effi and Grigori definitely would have been. As would you and Anna actually, though as far as you know, there was no drop from the sky for you.

Mistral doesn't make any response to your thanks, having fallen asleep on your shoulder in the time it took you to speak. With a silent sigh, you pick her up and place her into her chosen pocket.
>>
Anna speaks as you finish your brief interaction with your familiar "You're right about that Arthur. We do need to find shelter for the night, or preferably civilization. We aren't exactly equipped for wilderness survival right now."

Both of you turn your heads towards the lamppost on the hill. Hopefully, the vantage point might be able to shed some light on what direction you should be heading. The hill itself is deceptively steep, and while you don't really have much of an issue with it, Anna continually struggles and would have slipped multiple times, if not for you holding her hand to support her ascent up the hill.

Eventually the two of you finish your ascent, and the vantage point is quite incredible, even at night. In the distance, you can see a large city complete with skyscrapers, with hundreds of plumes of smoke ascending from it. There's a smaller looking village that is slightly closer though, though it doesn't seem as if any roads lead to it, oddly enough. There's a large circus tent that seems to be set up by the ruins of some sort of church to the right, the opposite direction to the village. In the centre of it all is a fairly small ancient looking castle. Even from here you can see that it's dilapidated and in disrepair.

Looking at the potential destinations before you, you eventually decide to head towards.

>The circus near the ruined church.
>The ancient castle, in disrepair and overgrown.
>The city billowing plumes of smoke.
>The peaceful looking village.
>Write-in...?
>>
>>4279940
>>The circus near the ruined church.
What better place to hide than a house of freaks?
>>
>>4279940
>The circus near the ruined church.
Seems like a decent place to check out for a bit.
We should definitely check out the castle after this though.
When we grow Alura we're gonna need to head into the city to get an adequate amount of blood.
>>
>>4279940
>The ancient castle, in disrepair and overgrown.
>>
>>4279974
+1
Circus arc???
>>
To be honest I have trouble keeping track of all of our allies abilities at this point
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>>4280076
Things and Gimmicks TM
>>
>>4279940
>The circus near the ruined church.
>>
>>4280076
Well wasn't the vote to use the potions that would help Alura after removing her core?
And that for some reason people were worried that Alura's body would be cursed or something?
That Arthur didn't use a blue potion on her means it wouldn't have helped after she was cored.
It should also be easier on Alura to re-construct her body stronger if she absorbs the potions this way right?
>>
>>4280315
We just used our options at random assuming that our luck would get us the best ones for Alura I think.
>>
>>4280403
Yeah that's what I mean, if the blue one would've reconstructed her body he would've ended up using it on her.
>>
>>4279940
>The city billowing plumes of smoke
What's the logic behind the circus?
If we wanted to hide surely the city or village would work better?
>>
>>4281071
Because a Circus moves. If it's a proper big tent it'll get up and roll out after a while. We might be able to ingratiate ourselves with them and go with them. Then we'd have the cover of a bunch of people traveling as a group. Carnies tend to care for their own, too.

Also dude it's the circus, there's always a proper weird thing in it. And fun.
>>
You know, I really did not expect for you to head to the circus. I figured you would sooner try to find shelter in one of the other locations.
Ah well, things will only be more fun for this, I think.
>>
>>4281944
That makes me wonder if you were expecting us to die to Alucard, and how close we were.
>>
>>4282041
I bet we got lucky
>>
>>4282041
It all came down to how you used the Power of Destruction in the end.
It was more than possible for you to use it in a way that didn't significantly alter the natural course of the battle.
Depending on how little you changed, this would of course eventually end in Arthur's death. But not before a few more of his allies' own, of course.

You just happened to pick the option that led to nobody else taking a mortal wound and instead getting your leg broken.
Not that the broken leg stuck.
>>
>>4282148
We had a broken leg?
>>
Of course, while you can't actually be certain of just how much use any of the locations will be to you. There's just something drawing you towards visiting that circus down there. After all, who would ever think of looking for you in the middle of a group of performers? "Anna, you see that circus? We'll be heading towards it. With any luck, we'll be able to organize a place to sleep for the night too. You've got the money still, right?"

"Of course. But... the circus?" She looks down at the large tent with a concerned expression. "Isn't it a little hopeful to think that a circus will be able to provide shelter for the night?"

"Anna, we have hundreds of thousands of euros on us. Even if they don't provide any form of hospitality usually, I doubt that is something that won't change, given enough monetary incentive." You begin heading towards the tent in the distance as Anna follows you, quickly finding yourself wandering through a fairly dark forest, guided only by the light of your torch. You hope you don't run into any hostile wildlife. You've honestly had enough fighting for today as it is.

"Well, I suppose you've got a point. Not many people would think of looking for us in a circus after all, would they? But we really need to think of a way to get in contact with everyone else. No offense towards your own combat skill, but you either need to get far far stronger than you already are, or we need to start thinking about... raising an army, I suppose." Anna brings up something you haven't really thought about that much so far. You suppose that if you are to become the Dark Lord, then an army would sort of be something of a necessity, wouldn't it? You aren't much of a lord of anything without subjects.

"Raising an army? Well, as nice as that might sound, I don't really see any viable paths towards getting an army behind me right now, Anna." Not unless you decided to start some form of paramilitary organization funded by swindling casinos, at least.

"Well, not right now obviously, but when Alura is finished growing then doing something like that should be pretty simple. It would've been even simpler if we had one of the vampires with us still too, especially Sophia. A vampire of her level is bound to have a near unlimited ability to use any form of necromancy she pleases, I think. Wasn't she also capable of summoning demons?" Anna looks into the distance as she finishes her sentence.

"But what good will an army do us if somebody like Alucard could just cut through them all with ease and reach us regardless?" As far as you can tell, no number of summoned skeletons or demons could've stopped your monstrously powerful foe. The man was simply too strong, even now, you struggle to think of a way that might have allowed you to have defeated him in the fight. Even the Power of Destruction wasn't able to reach the man, and you got a broken leg for even trying to use it on him, to boot.
>>
"Arthur... People like Alucard, like the Belmonts and anyone else that's dealt a killing blow to Dracula in the past. Do you know the one thing that they have in common? Anna asks quite cryptically, implying she knows something that you don't. Which is just the slightest bit irritating

"I can't say that I do, Anna. Why? What's so special about them? Their unwavering loyalty to the Church?" You half-joke as your answer to her question. You honestly have no idea.

"Not quite, Arthur. It's that all of these so called champions of what is good and just are simply unable to stand by and allow evil to continue without their interference. Dracula for whatever reason never really prepared for an attack by a Belmont, despite there having been quite ample time for him to flee or ambush them even as they rampaged through his castle, as I understand." The more you learn about Dracula, the more it really does sound like he was literally just trying his hardest to lose each time. It's a wonder Chaos wasn't more frustrated with him, honestly.

"Then... what about the Dorin Organization bombing that city? How could he have allowed that to have happened? And how exactly do you know all this anyway?" Nothing about this description of the cold bastard that nearly killed you all really makes sense.

Anna remains silent for a long while as seems to think of an answer. "Maybe he just decided that the lives of the few were worth sacrificing for the sake of the many. Or maybe this organization of his just withheld the information from him. As for how I know, the Belmonts are a terribly vain bunch. Each of them wrote about their defeat of Dracula which was later collated into one single book. Though annoyingly, the book sort of cuts off after Richter's entry. So I'm not really sure what happened after that point. Both Trevor and Richter did mention Alucard quite a bit though. Though Richter stressed that Alucard did nothing and was of no real concern quite a lot... Then the text got really nasty when it described this priest called Shaft... Ah, sorry. I'm rambling." They wrote down their encounters with Dracula? Well, there's a logic in that, you suppose. As foolish as revealing their own abilities might sound, wouldn't Dracula himself already know? Writing about their battles like that would've seemed like one of the safest endeavors they could've have undertaken to teach the later generations at the time

"Is this book... publicly available? Well, as publicly as the magical world gets, at least." Being able to read something like this would really help out a lot to help understand the caliber of the enemies you face, as well as any abilities that you might have to look out for from them in the future.
>>
"Oh goodness me, no. I had to go through quite a lot of trouble to get my copy... shame I was too busy to pick it up before the mansion went up in smoke..." As she recalls the mansion's incineration, she seems to recall something. "Actually, now that I think about it, that girl with Alucard might've been a Belmont, actually..." Anna pauses awkwardly as she notices the stare you're giving her. "Though it was probably just some bootleg Church wannabe." She hastily corrects herself. "While the Belmonts used a chain whip, none of the descriptions of their whip, the 'Vampire Killer' that I remember matched the whip she's holding." You suppose that makes more sense. You doubt you would be alive right now if you had been attacked by a member of this legendary family of vampire slayers at the same time as Dracula's own son. Your survival is practically a miracle as is.

"Well, alright then. But how exactly does this tie in to getting an army? Do you think they won't be more motivated to stop me if they know I've got a huge army of demons or the undead to support me?" You can't help but feel like painting a larger target on your back isn't something that will end up panning out for you

"Motivation at this point is pretty irrelevant, Arthur. They basically just tried to pass a death sentence onto you for the sole crime of disobeying their own schemes. They even sent their strongest man to get it done!" She takes a look into the distance, apparently hoping the circus would have become visible once again at this point before sighing. "The point is, if you can keep them distracted facing off against whatever makes up the bulk of your army, they'll never have the opportunity to attack you directly! All you need to do is keep them preoccupied with protecting innocent people! Besides, even if they do, you can just leave by the time they've defeated your forces! Go into hiding and start again! Reemerge from the shadows when they least expect it and crush them!" She starts getting excited as she begins speaking about outsmarting the forces of good by exploiting their own moral code against them.

"Alright, Alright. I think I get your point, Anna. I'll keep that in mind for when we have the potential to start creating something like that. For now though, we just need to make sure we don't get captured or killed by our enemies."

She shakes her head rapidly, as if removing herself from some sort of self imposed trance. "Of course. I was... getting a little too enthusiastic there. Sorry."

"There's no need to apologize to me for something like that, Anna. You've explained quite a lot to me on our trip over to this circus, at least. I'm sure it will come in helpful in the future, and look! We're almost at the circus!" Anna seems to breathe a sigh of relief as after the fairly long walk, your target finally comes into sight.
>>
After about ten more minutes of walking, you finally reach the perimeter of the circus. There's some sort of collection of caravans set up next to it, as well as another tent, that while fairly large, is nowhere near the size of the main circus tent. Of course, the main circus tent is nothing to scoff at either, though the entrance is guarded by two men. One with black hair, and the other a deep red. Of course, there's also the strange ruined building, church-like in design, but something gives you the feeling that it wasn't ever really used as a place of worship. It's odd, but there's something about the place that just makes it feel like entering it would be a terrible idea.

>Check out the caravans.
>Check out the smaller tents.
>Go talk to the two men guarding the entrance of the main tent. (About anything in particular?)
>Sneak into the main tent.
>Check out the ruined building?
>Write-in...
>>
>>4282248
>>Check out the caravans.
Hello, fellow weirdos.
>>
>>4282248
>Check out the smaller tents.
>>
>>4282248
>Smaller tents
Smaller TENT
That is meant to be singular, not plural!
>>
>>4282248
>Check out the smaller tent
So, does nobody have any thoughts on the fact that we're apparently no longer on earth?
>>
>>4282312
Well that's pretty obvious from the tent-shaped spaceship crewed by the killer klowns.
>>
>>4282317
I was referring to Mistral's comment about interdimensional teleportation, but sure.
>>
>>4282372
Well interdimensional would mean traveling between dimensions. Not traveling to other dimensions. Unless something goes horribly wrong you should pop back in to your own dimension at the end.

Think of it like walking from one side of a room to another - by shuffling inside the wall. You'll come out somewhere else but you'll still be in the same room. Unless of course you fuck it up. But you'd probably notice right away.

Extradimensional travel is a different story though.
>>
>>4282442
Interdimensional travel should be traveling between dimensions.
We weren't on earth, so if a teleportation spell had been used it would only be able to traverse the prism cube.
That's why interdimensional teleportation was used.
Dunno why you think you would pop up in your home dimension when using interdimensional teleportation though.
What you describe should be the teleportation process in general, not just something limited to interdimensional teleportation.
>>
>>4282446
>Dunno why you think you would pop up in your home dimension when using interdimensional teleportation though.
Because inter means "between" not "to". Interdimensional would literally mean the stuff between dimensions. Just like intergalactic is the space between galaxies. You wouldn't use an interdimensional teleport to go to another dimension. That would be an extradimensional teleport. And being sealed in the box doesn't take you to another dimension in the same way that the inverted castles and painting world things aren't actually NOT earth. They're still on earth. Like putting a firefly in a bottle. It's not suddenly transported to bottleverse. It's just in a bottle. It's a warping of space not a warping of reality.

The same isn't true of crazy shit like the chaotic realm. That stuff just don't play fair.
>>
>>4282457
Hmm. That's a weird specification.
That just seems to me to be an explanation of a plain teleportation spell, since that's how they work.
An interdimensional teleportation spell being specified like that implies that you leave your home dimension in a way that you wouldn't with a normal teleportation spell.
Extradimensional teleportation would only specify that you're teleporting away from this dimension, not between dimension x and y as interdimensional teleportation would.
>>
>>4282465
>Hmm. That's a weird specification.
Yeah. Seriously fuck the guys 2500~ years ago who thought mingling English and Latin was a good idea. And everyone down the line who kept it going.
Regular teleportation would better describe bending space-time to get to where you want. You stay working with every other law of reality you just break the specific one tying you to where you are. Because why would you want to go to a place where existence has no meaning relevant to you as an organism that shouldn't be there?

Would you want to be inbetween dimensions when you're supposed to be relaxing where you're supposed to exist? That's like some Cthulhu shit there. A regular teleport should be like Portal shit. Interdimensional just means you're telling reality to go fuck itself you do what you want.

Though I suppose extradimensional could mean you're just leaving this dimension. Interdimensional would still mean specifically the stuff between it. Transdimensional would then better be used to describe going to another dimension. Even though that also doesn't explicitly state it so. As it can also mean across. And like twenty other things. It really comes down to how you want to interpret the English meaning behind the Latin prefixes. Fucking latin.
>>
>>4282248
>>Check out the ruined building?
Adventure!
>>
Was kind of hoping for some more votes by now so I could write another update.
It's kind of an important choice after all.
Ah well.

As for clearing up this interdimensional business, some small spoilers that you might've otherwise figured out Alucard had everyone sealed in a space outside of the one the world itself is in for the sake of allowing him to use his full power without worrying about the consequences. You haven't been isekai'd to a different planet or time yet.
>>
>>4282248
>smaller tent
As much as I want to see whatever is in the church, I think this might belong to the man in charge of the circus. We can go dungeon delving later.

I already miss Sophia. And Effi.
>>
"Anna. Let's head over to the smaller tent. With any luck that's where we'll find the person running this circus, then we can ask about accommodation at least." You turn towards the abandoned church. "I really don't want to be forced to sleep in that place." Though despite the plant growth on the building, the building itself is in pretty good shape. You suppose that if you were to be forced to go without proper shelter, it wouldn't be that bad. Would it?

"I couldn't agree more. I don't know what it is about that place, but I don't want to be anywhere near it! Nevermind staying inside it!" Seems that Anna hasn't quite got the hang of the idea of surviving in the wilds yet. "I do hope you're not just taking us to the gift shop..." she looks at the smaller tent with what could only be called an over-inquisitive eye, trying to determine what the white and red fabric making up the tent is truly concealing.

Thankfully, and almost miraculously, the two of you aren't stopped once by any of the employees. The two people standing outside you had taken for security guards of sorts don't even move a muscle as you start poking around what is clearly a more behind the scenes part of the circus, and soon fade from sight entirely as you get closer to the smaller tent. Though despite being nowhere near the size of the main pavilion, it's still almost the same size as a house. This place has got to be important.

As you reach the entrance to the smaller, you nearly end up colliding with a group of four girls wearing clown outfits with ridiculous looking wings. Each set looks similarly based on a bat, but each is also with the unmistakable patterns of a suit of cards. Hearts and Diamonds, you notice, belong to girls with pure red hair and a red colour scheme to their outfits. Clubs and Spades likewise have black hair and a black colour scheme to their outfits. Their faces all look quite similar too... twins? Or quadruplets, in this case, you suppose.

As you open your mouth to apologize, the girl with Heart patterned wings simply giggles at you and drags the other girls along with her before you can so much as utter a syllable to them. "Well that was certainly... odd. Let's just get in there and ask if there's a place to stay tonight." Anna looks at the retreating performers with a watchful eye, clearly put on edge by this bizarre circus already.

"Agreed. But at this point it's going to take more than a little oddness to unnerve me." You don't have a phobia for clowns at least. Unless actual demons show up, you feel like you can take things easily for now.
>>
Entering into the tent, both of you are surprised to find it quite empty. Looking around to find only an empty seat next to a desk with a lit candle upon it among an assortment of less notable furniture. A brief glance at the desk reveals nothing but a half drawn design for a poster. There's a cute looking demon holding a trident in the corner of the poster. In his other hand is a large banner with the words, 'le Cirque du Diable' written upon it.

Anna muses at the name of the poster. "The Devil's Circus, hmm? Well, I suppose we couldn't have found a more suitable sounding place to end up. Not unless there's a vampire parade in that city, at least." Anna tiredly mocks the name of the circus. With a name like that, you can be pretty certain you aren't going to run into any assassins from the Church by accident.

Just as you're about to leave the tent though, an ominous voice begins speaking, it's source unclear and it's true identity impossible to determine.

"And the travel weary in their moment of need stumble across my circus. To look for shelter against the freezing cold of the Romanian night! Ah, but it is such a pity that even I, with my endless benevolence, cannot offer such succour to our poor travellers... well, at least not without... 'proper payment' I can't." The ominous tone fades away as the voice takes on far more mischievous tone, though you still can't place the gender of it. Whoever is speaking must be an expert orator, to shroud their voice like this.

"Proper... payment?" Anna echoes the voice, clearly curious as to why such an emphasis was placed upon it.

"What, do you only understand English when you're talking to each other? Yes. Payment. Like 'why should I help you two trespassers?', do you understand now?" The voice sounds a little annoyed at being asked to clarify.

>Look up.
>"We are in possession of a lot of money. Legally obtained, I assure you."
>"Because I am a Dark Lord Candidate, and you'll regret defying me."
>"Because I... always planned on joining the circus! Do you want to see my... special skill?" (Show them what?)
>Write in...
>>
>>4283168
>"Because I... always planned on joining the circus! Do you want to see my... special skill?"
The ability to part anything.
>>
>>4283168
>>Write in...
Well the girls outside we're playing card themed, how about we play for it? I win you let us stay here, treat us like family. You can name your bet.
Texas Hold Em okay?
>>
>>4283168
>Look up.
We're in the area around Sophia's castle right?
This could be one of her sisters.
>>
>>4283197
Oops, her castle is in germany right?
But this person says we're in Romania...
Where was Sophia targeting with that teleportation spell?
>>
>>4283224
I would assume the target was "anywhere but next to Alucard".

>"Because I... always planned on joining the circus! Do you want to see my... special skill?" (Show them what?)
We have the strength of ten men on PCP. So the strength of a hundred men.
>>
>>4283254
bruh. If my mouse doesn't click when I press one more time it's going to the moon.

>>4283168
linky
>>
>>4283168
>>4283254
Seconded
>>
>>4283254
Are we even that strong though?
What about something like:
>A body that can't be pierced, even by bullets.
>>
>>4283182
>>4283254
>>4283268
Guys why not go for the option Arthur is sure to win and get Arthur's luck into play? Let's get her to play poker with us
>>
>>4283284
Why poker instead of go fish or blackjack?
Poker isn't really a luck based game, and pulling off the same trick with the same game is a little lame.
>>
>>4283292
Blackjack is fine too. Also who cares if it's lame if it works. I'd rather ensure a win then not.
>>
>>4283284
Dice, anon. We play dice if we want to have fun with Arthur's luck. Craps would be a good option.
Then again, considering the name of this place I don't think it's really wise to expect luck to play a role in any high-stakes gambling we do here.
>>
>>4283308
Lame wins are lame.
We gotta have some panache as a Dark Lord Candidate.
>>
>>4283168
>Look up.
"This may sound odd, but do you happen to know someone by the name of Sophia Hildebrandt? The bat theme is a real point of commonality."
>>
>>4283311
I'm fine with dice too

>>4283317
We have to keep as many of our cards secret as possible too. We are weak as shit and need every advantage. Even if it means a "lame" win
>>
>>4283284
Because unlike our companions. This motherfucker will DEFINITELY cheat.
>>
>>4283328
Yeah, and going around and displaying how lucky we are isn't keeping our cards secret?
At least many people have unique physiques that allow them to pull off superhuman feats, super luck is something different altogether.
>>
>>4283340
I'm sure they will. Still have better chances.

>>4283341
Super luck we can't use against alot. It's useless against the likes of people like alucard and monsters. Let them just think we're lucky
>>
>>4283352
Arthur's skill only works when actual luck is involved in the outcome, if the guy cheats it's useless.
Fair point about deceiving them into thinking we're just lucky though, but wouldn't Alucard already know we aren't?
Given we displayed the ability to continue standing after having our leg broken, used the PoD to teleport him, and made a really fast leap towards Anna and Alura before being teleported away?
>>
>>4283352
>Still have better chances.
If they're a good cheat, there is a zero chance of winning. Luck doesn't matter if they are actively choosing what cards are drawn.

I mean unless you're saying any other way has a less than zero chance of succeeding. Magic.
>>
>>4283361
Yeah Al probably knows but I'm not worried about decieving him. Mostly these unknown carnies.
And on cheating it depends. If they're marked or weighted we still should be able to use it due to flaws. A weighted die for example will mostly roll what it's weighted for but sometimes it rolls something else.
>>
>>4283369
What about magnetized dice?
Or magic dice?
Or cards marked in such a way that human eyesight can't see it?
Or magic cards?
Or... magic?
>>
When do you think Arthur will realize that he'll have to kill Alucard since he's a Dark Lord Candidate?
>>
Depending on how I count it, it's eiter two for looking up and two for saying you're as strong as 100 men...
Or 2 votes for saying you are as strong as 100 men alone, which would make it the winner.
>>
>>4283581
My vote is to look up though.
>>
>>4283587
Alright then we're tied.
Just needed clarification, honestly.
>>
Still tied?
A pity. I was hoping I would be able to get another update done, but I'm out of time for that now.
>>
>>4283168
>>4283182
Guess it's up to a minor party to break it. Switching to
>Look up.
>>
>>4283671
First look up, second 100 men comment
>>
You stay silent for a moment, raising a hand to your chin as if to appear in deep thought, to provoke the speaker into action once again. The speaker acts just as you predict, as the booming voice once again fills the room. "Well? I'm waiting, and your silence isn't one of the most compelling arguments I've ever seen."

With a sigh, you simply look up to the roof of the tent, having realized quite a while back that the only place the voice could be originating from would be either above the two of you. Well, that or they are invisible, but you feel like you can probably rule out magic in this situation.

As you crane your head up, you notice netting spread all across the sealing, and despite catching a glimpse of the silhouette of a humanoid figure, their incredibly rapid movement that makes discerning what the figure moving actually is almost impossible. The figure quickly dashes behind a heavily curtained area on the top floor of the large tent that truly conceals them. If you had to bet, you imagine they were about to drop down for the sole purpose of making some form of dramatic entrance.

You can see a few long platinum blonde hairs poking through the curtain, even with their attempt to quickly hide themselves. "Don't you have any appreciation for dramatic flair!?" The echoing ominous tone fades away from the speaking voice and is replaced entirely by the indignant voice of a woman angrily berating you for ruining what was supposed to be her dramatic entrance.

"Sorry, I've been through this once before already and it's really lost it's impact having somebody try the same thing twice. Say, you wouldn't happen to know a woman by the name of Sophia Hildebrandt, would you?" Honestly, the question is asked more as a joke than anything else. "You have something of a similar way of... introducing yourself to people." Honestly, the only difference is that you aren't getting horribly injured as a result of upsetting this woman.

"Sorry, but I only know of a single person with that last name, and it isn't this 'Sophia', sorry." The voice seems to take a sort of sadistic pleasure in knowing something that you don't. It is quite an irritating tone, but it seems now that the woman speaking with you not only has the right to decide whether to grant you shelter for the night, but also holds information that you might very well end up needing.

"Wait! You do?" Anna speaks now, as the allure of this information is just too much for her to remain silent any longer.

"Of course. Though, the last time I spoke with her was about 40 years or so ago when she visited our circus. So goodness knows what she's gotten up to since then." The woman's voice sounds far far too young to truly be able to belong to a woman in her 50s at least. Then that can only mean that you've managed to stumble across somebody that is either supernatural, or a terribly good liar.
>>
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"You... are you a vampire too?" You finally ask the question. In the worst case, you'll just look like an idiot. But if this woman truly is some sort of supernatural being, which her extreme speed she displayed in trying to avoid being seen by you earlier would indicate to be true to at least some degree, then you'll properly open up the conversation to real discussion. Being able to drop the whole pretense about

"Tsk. I should've known you were already informed of things as soon as you brought up that vampire's last name. The smell of blood clinging to you is also a dead giveaway too, if I'm going to be honest." The woman begins to mutter in frustration. Then, she jumps down from the curtained area, doing a flamboyant backflip as she falls before landing on her feet. Her outfit is like some form of mixture of the card based outfits worn by the girls you ran into as you entered the tent, black, red and white. Her eyes are a deep beautiful red, framed by an equally beautiful face. Her long platinum hair seems to radiate light as you look at her. "No. I'm not a vampire, if you want to find out what I really am, you'll just have to get to know me bet-"

"You're a demon, aren't you? Some sort of succubus, I'll wager." Anna cuts the woman off halfway through her introduction. Obviously bored of the womans flamboyant antics already.

A long awkward silence occurs between the newly revealed succubus and Anna, before the succubus begins to laugh merrily. "Fine fine. Yes, it's true. You've revealed the truth of my identity. My name is Jester, and I've run this fine establishment for... well, going on about 120 years now!" She makes eye contact. "Though you may refer to me as Jes, handsome." She blows you a kiss.

"I... I'll keep that in mind." This woman is what can only be called annoyingly beautiful. It's something a distraction, honestly. But you don't allow yourself to be caught up in this womans charms no more than you allowed yourself to be caught up in Alura's own charm. You've dealt with supernaturally beautiful women in the past in the form of Alura and Sophia anyway, so falling to a woman's charm here would just be pathetic.

"Is... Is that all?" She sulks slightly as she notices your lack of a reaction to her obvious flirting. "Fine. Whatever. I know the two of you need shelter and information, and I can offer them both to you... for a price. I'm not sure how much good you'll be able to do, but you saw that... church on the way over here, didn't you?" A quick nod from the two of you is all she needs to be continue. "Well, it's more than just the normal church. There's incredibly powerful blessings on that building that are not only preventing me and my... underlings from entering ourselves. I'm... the curious type, you see? There's absolutely no record of that building anywhere that I can find, and I want to know just what secrets it holds!"
>>
"So you want me to go exploring a dangerous blessed ruin for you... just to sate your own curiosity? Then after that you'll help us?" There's something that this woman isn't telling you about this 'church'. There has to be. Nobody would so happily offer assistance merely for exploring some unknown building, would they?

"Of course!" She happily answers your questioning of her generosity with a smile. "Now, I may have introduced myself, but the two of you never bothered introducing yourselves, did you?"

"I am Arthur Bernhard. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Jester." Even if she is hiding something from you, there's no reason for you to impolite to her. Not without actually confirmation from her."

"Anna Morgan, I do so hope that our newly forged relationship is only one that will bring prosperity to the both of us." Her own introduction is colder than your own, but retains a form of politeness and etiquette, at least.

"Well, Arthur. Anna. What do you say about my proposal. Will you sate this curiosity of mine?" Then she frowns at you. "If you aren't going to call me Jes, could you at least call me Jeste? My full name just feels so... formal when used between friends." Her full name is a single word? How strange. Also, she seems dangerously quick to assume the two of you are friends at all!

>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
>Deny Jester's request. Only a fool would dive in where demons fear to tread.
>Propose some other deal to secure her help (what?)
>Attack her. Beat her into submission instead of playing along with this silly game.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4284680
>Only a fool would dive in where demons fear to tread.
That's angels, I heard. We'll be fine.
My vote is:
>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
>>
>>4284680
>>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
I wanted to hang out with some freaks but sure. Why not. We already almost died once today, what's another between new friends? I don't know if we should bring Alura's lump in with us though. We should be fine, being mostly human. She probably won't enjoy it. But I don't want to leave Anna behind to watch her alone with this gaggle of monsters.

>Her full name is a single word?
Come now Arthur, clearly Jes is her given name and Ter is her "family" name.
>>
>>4284680
>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
>>
>>4284680
>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
>>
>>4284680
>Agree to Jeste's request. You honestly intended to check the building out anyway.
>Fondle her tail.
>>
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>>4284998
>touching a stranger's tail
>when it's not even fluffy
I expected better of you, anon.
>>
>>4285026
Nevermind that she's entirely within human form right now thus her tail, her wings and her horns are all hidden.
>>4284998
You could ask to fondle her tail though, if that's what you want to do.
>>
>>4285026
You touch fluffy tails eh? Bet you wanna fuck cats, too. You disgust me. You are a revolting example of truly subhuman filth. You're the gum on the shoe of a child that just waded through a waist high river being defecated in upstream. You are the speck of dust marring the screen of a stolen phone held in the hands of a Tibetan monkey with symptoms of syphilis. You microscopic detritus infecting the bloodstream of an ant recently diagnosed with lung cancer. And ants don't even have lungs you worthless trash.

Sorry what were we talking about? Anyway why would anyone want to touch a tail when it's just a leathery strip with bones? Not even fluffy.
>>
Could this church-like building be related to the one from Alucard's interlude?
It would be nice if we could liberate that map from them.

>>4285054
>Derides touching fluffy tails.
>Questions touching non-fluffy tails.
Do you have a problem with tail-touching anon?
You don't want to see the reaction to touching her weak point?
Shame anon, shame.
>>
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>>4285080
It's called a joke, anon. A jape. A jest.
>>
>>4285258
A jest...er?
>>
>>4285261
>>
"So, all you want to know is what's inside the church? There's no secret hidden weapon hidden away in there that you are trying to trick me into unwittingly retrieving, right?"

"I don't know... But if you can find whatever it is that is maintaining the defenses and disable it, I would be especially grateful. As for anything that you might find in there, let's just honor the time honored tradition among demons of 'finders-keepers.', OK?" She shrugs, denying any knowledge of the contents of the building.

"When you say blessings... what sort of blessings are we talking about here?" Anna quizzes the demon on just what exactly you can expect from this ruin.

"Ones that cause any demon or undead that sets foot in that building to burst into inextinguishable flame and burn to ash... I'm just glad I sent an imp into the place to see what would happen." She soon notices the two glares being directed at her. "Hey now, it's mostly just due to it being highly consecrated ground. The two of you should be fine unless you've ever found yourself getting a sun burn from standing within a church." Jeste quickly clears things up before anyone misunderstands anything.

"But what do you actually get out of us doing this for you?" It really doesn't make any real sense for her to even care about this building. Sure, she can't enter it, but it doesn't seem like it's actively harming or hindering anything.

"The satisfaction of knowing that whoever tried so hard to keep the unholy from trespassing on their domain's efforts were all for naught, and that whatever it is they wished to hide away in this place is exposed to those who they most despised!" There's a long pause between the three of you as Jeste starts acting like she's giving some speech to a fanatical crowd, upon seeing the subdued reactions, she tones it down a little bit. "When you've lived as long as I have, there's not really much that can truly make you feel anything at all. Triumphing over those who loathe me and my kind holds something of a special place in my heart." Jeste sighs wistfully. "But all this magic and demon business aside, I'm a very busy woman. I still have to get prepared for the show, after all!" She then saunters over to her desk and opens one of the drawers, retrieving two laminated pieces of card before handing them to both you and Anna. "VIP passes. Feel free to check out the show once you're finished with that building. It's enchanting, or so I'm told."

"Right, we'll keep that in mind. Farewell, Jeste." The succubus' face brightens a little as you leave the tent, clearly happy at your use of the slightly shortened version of her name. What a strange person.
>>
As you begin to walk back towards the ruined building, Anna stops. "Just... hold on one moment Arthur. I just saw something I need to do." You're more confused by her sudden demand to stop than anything else, though the cause of her request soon makes itself apparent as she quickly removes the flower from a plant pot sitting nearby a few wooden crates. She quickly rejoins you, holding the now half-empty pot. "I didn't really want to have to resort to stealing that, but I for the life of me could not think of a way to ask that demon if I could... have a plant pot." She has a point, it would've been an awfully strange thing to request, and Anna clearly wasn't much of a fan of Jeste anyway. Then she reaches into one of her pockets to retrieve Alura's core, burying it in the soil of the pot. "There you go, Alura." You aren't sure what's stranger. Somebody talking to a plant, or knowing that the plant can hear them.

"So... how long do we have until Alura is finished, uh, regrowing?" You decide to ask the expert on the subject.

"A month or so. A few days if we can find enough human blood." Her voice drops to a whisper. "Hours if we can get our hands on a few pints of demon blood." Seems that you might have another reason to ingratiate yourselves with Jeste then. Hopefully you'll be able to convince her or one of her demon underlings to give up a few pints later. Getting Alura back so quickly would be an incredible boon. Had Alura been capable of action, then Anna and you wouldn't have even needed to seek out shelter in the first place.

"We'll see what we can do then." Human blood should be fairly plentiful anyway, even if you simply visited that city and raided a blood bank. You get the feeling that getting a demon to willingly part with a few pints of their own blood might be a tricky problem to work out. You don't really want to provoke this circus by simply attacking a demon either, not when there's an untold amount of enemies awaiting you if you did so.

As the two of you approach the door to the ruined building, that sense of danger lurking inside of it starts to make itself apparent on you, though you ignore it. Anna however is not so courageous in her response. "M-maybe I'll just stay out here, with Alura! H-honestly, I'd just slow you down even normally if you got into a fight, wouldn't I? Now I'm holding Alura like this, I'm going to be even less help!" If this reaction is anything to go off, it seems that the consecration of this building isn't the only thing keeping intruders from entering.

"Fine, stay here or go and watch the circus then. I'm not going to force you into this, and it seems like there's some sort of spell that's affecting you anyway. That being said, having Anna accompany you into this ruin might give you somebody to talk to, but it would also give you the responsibility of keeping her safe against whatever unknown threat lurks within.
>>
Anna seems to regain some of her wits at being told of the magical influence on her mind. "Y-you might be right about that. Though I'll stay here regardless, I owe you that much." You raise an eyebrow at her. "I'm not entirely certain if it's the blasted fear clogging my mind, but I get the feeling that even if I were to fight through it, my vulnerability to just the deterrent alone bodes poorly for how I will do should any more magic like this be encountered within." Anna's argument is solid and even if it is influenced by the magical fear afflicting her, you can't exactly find issue with it..

"Very well then. I will see you again shortly." With that parting comment, you open the double doors leading into the building and step inside into what seems to be a large dining hall of some kind. It's still dimly lit by candles adorning the walls, though the chairs that haven't fallen apart are all completely empty. It's quite the ominous sight. Somebody was definitely here, and they went through all the effort to light each candle in the room, too. There must be at least six dozen in total.

Then, the doors behind you that lead into the cold freedom of the night slam shut, and before you even get the chance to think of the futility of trying to seal the wielder of the Power of Destruction in a place with such mundane methods, a huge image of a flame appears on the wall, glowing white for just a moment before being obscured by a wall of flame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7qRrrGQki4

A sad voice echoes around you, this time, it obviously belongs to a woman. Though you do tire of people thinking that talking while out of sight is a polite way to introduce themselves. "Another man charmed by the words of a demon, come to Ecclesia once more to seize that which I have pledged to protect... a pity. Very well then... State what you seek and I shall pass my judgement upon you."

>"I seek power."
>"I seek freedom."
>"I seek happiness."
>"I seek revenge."
>"Who are you to pass your judgement upon me?"
>Write-in...
>>
>>4285878
>>Write-in...
>"I'm just looking for what's in here."
Who tries to philosophize with a disembodied voice, anyway?

Her name is Jessie Terrence not Jester. Jessebel Terise. Jesephina Termin. Jene Stephanie Ergalt.
>>
>>4285878
>"I seek freedom."
>>
>>4285878
>>4285903
For now, this is fine with me.
>>
>>4285878
>>"I seek freedom."
It's like the basis of what we do.
>>
So I've thought about it, and how about telling her we seek demon blood?
Or our companions?
>>
>>4286107
The way I see it it's all just a morality trap. Everything we can say will be twisted into making us seem like a dick. "I'm looking for my buddies." turns into "You hang out with murderers and monsters who don't deserve to live" or something. And considering the tone and words McGhostface is using I doubt it lets people go unscathed even if they've been manipulated or forced into this place.

Basically I think the disembodied voice is just a self-righteous asshole so there isn't any reason to really care about its questions.

But hey there's plenty of time before the votes are tallied. Go for what you think is best.
>>
>>4286119
If it's like that then the 'who are you to judge me?' Vote seems to be the one that fits what you're going for best here.
I do like your vote because it shows that Arthur actually lives freely instead of just saying he seeks freedom.
>>
>>4286147
The problem with asking them what gives them the right is that they are always self-assured in their duty. Every single time. They're right, we're wrong. They'd be a guardian and at the end of the day we'd be a simple looter at the behest of a demon. It's a morality trap.

It's why you never talk with disembodied voices. They tend to be very deluded.
>>
>>4286156
Eh, that's kind of the reason I feel we shouldn't just piss it off straight away with something like "I want your stuff."
Let's play along Abit and see if we can figure out the who and why and then act from there with more knowledge.
>>
>>4286182
But they also tend to have ways to detect lies.
I don't see the harm in being truthful.
>>
>>4286186
It suggests that multiple people have been charmed to come in here and steal its stuff and they've all got torched. Telling the "protector and guardian" we're here to sieze the things it's guarding seems like a "we fight now" option and we don't even know what it is.
>>
>>4285878
>"I'm a mess of desires, mostly because of circumstances that were out of my control for a long time up until now."
>"But right now? I seek nothing more then to help out my subordinates, who I also happen to consider my friends."
>"So I implore you to reconsider judging someone that is absolutely done with this kind of horseshit, hide away and cut your losses."

Something along those lines.
>>
>>4286188
But we're just telling them that we want to know what's in here, not that we want to take it out.
>>
>>4286193
Like >>4286156 says it'll probably twist words.
Saying "I'm looking for what's in here" can be read as if we know what it's guarding and we want it and it's gone through alot of effort to keep it secret from the way it set up the barrier to keep people away and torching people who made it through
>>
>>4286197
We can always use more words to make our intent understood.
>>
>>4286208
Just using you as an anchor bro, but did anyone else catch that the voice said this is Eccelsia? Which means
>a huge image of a flame appears on the wall
Is probably a flame glyph. Which is another reason I think we should try to avoid a fight.
>>
>>4285878
Supporting >>4285903. There's no reason to play along with this self-righteous judgy gas.
>>
>>4285903
+1 express Arthur's plain lack of info and obvious confusion and throw this voice off by doing so
>>
>>4285903
I like this because it's not vague enough to be turned against us.
>>
>>4287119
Yes. Yes it is.
>>
>>4287153
At that point, literally anything is vague enough to be turned against us.
>>
>>4285878
>>4285903
An proposition, if I may?
>"To learn what's in there and inform the lady so she would let us stay at her place."
Not even a genie can twist it.
>>
>>4287155
Dude it's literally telling a guardian
>Hey we want what's in here
I am looking for what's in here, what being the thing it's guarding and here being the place it's guarding.
>>
>>4287199
You know when you look for something that doesn't mean you want to take it. Just find it. It's not like saying "I'm after what's in here." or "I want what's in here.". One implies discovery and the others imply theft.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just too autistic.
>>
You're in absolutely no mood to speak philosophy with this disembodied voice. It was bad enough when Sophia challenged you to hide and seek or when Jeste only minutes ago attempted to remain hidden for the sake of her own entrance. So, you aren't going to play along. "What I seek? Honestly, I'm just looking for what exactly is in here."

There's a long pause as you answer the question given to you, and you aren't really sure what to make of the silence. The wall of flame still crackles behind you, sealing you in the room. It looks like you don't really have much of a choice but to just keep exploring the building. Ecclesia, you think the voice called it. As you take a step forwards though, there's a soft thud in the distance from one of the bookshelves.

Before you can remark on the strange occurrence of a book just happening to fall now of all times, a bright light begins to shine from it, and the entire floor begins to take on the glistening blue sheen of ice at a rapid pace! It's all you can do to use your enhanced ability to jump thanks to Mistral's blessing to avoid the freezing wave of energy as it quickly covers the entire floor. As you land once again, careful not to slip on the newly formed ice, you notice that even the tables and chairs in the room have been covered in a layer of ice.

"What was that for? Not a fan of visitors huh? You know, you should lighten up, there's a circus right outside. Maybe you should think about attending?" You try to keep the anger out of your voice at being attacked with such lethal force with a joke. Were it not for your own abilities of which this woman would have no way of knowing about, then you wouldn't have been able to have avoided that freezing wave of energy as it passed through the floor. As it is, you barely managed to make the leap before the ice reached you anyway.

"That was supposed to kill you. But it seems that you're a cut above the rest of the men that those succubi have sent wandering in here, doomed to be enslaved to the whims of a demon forever. I do not enjoy what they have forced me to do so many times already, but I must not allow you to find Dominus and bring it to them. Untold disaster could be brought about if I allowed such a thing" The disembodied voice once again speaks, this time in a slightly softer tone.

"I'm not being controlled by a demon, you should know." Time to correct this delusion she appears to hold. " And it's quite irritating you would assume as such, if I'm to be honest with you. My actions are my own, and nobody will decide what I do except myself alone." There, that ought to at least prevent her from accusing you of being some form of mindslave, at least.
>>
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"Then if that's the case and you are truly as free as you say, why do you seek Dominus? You must've realized from the spell cast upon the chapel that entrance would only bring about harm should you have entered." Now she takes on something of a lecturing tone, as if telling a child something obvious.

"I have no idea what this 'Dominus' of yours even is, though if you could give me an explanation as to enlighten me, I could simply leave. All those demons wanted was to know what was in here anyway. They were quite specific that they didn't care about me actually... well, taking it." Obviously, whoever your opponent is, you don't want to provoke them. They've shown a tremendous ability to use magic, while you can't even begin to pinpoint their location. Had that ice attack they used previously had less of a warning from the book colliding with the floor, you're pretty sure that you'd be an ice sculpture right now.

"How can this be? Are you not one of Dracula's servants, come to use the power of Dominus to bring him to this world once more?" Doubt begins to reveal itself in the voice of your shadowy adversary.

"I'm certainly not one of Dracula's servants. Nor am I a servant at all. If you would like me to repeat myself, I'll do so. I haven't got any master and all that I do I do for my own sake and the sake of the people I care about. Besides, if what I've been told is true, Dracula was killed for good twenty years ago."

"Do you mock me? Do you mean to tell me that it was possible for all this time for this time for Dracula, the Dark Lord himself, to have been defeated utterly in such a way to ever prevent his return?!" The voice is getting really quite angry now. You aren't sure if it's from them having difficulty comprehending the idea, or if it's a result of their own disbelief towards your own completely true statement. "For all these centuries, that people lived in the shadow of Dracula's always looming presence... and you mean to say that we simply did not have the knowledge nor means of doing away with him for good?"

"I do." You answer truthfully.

There's another long pause, before the flame wall behind you disappears and the ice coating the entire floor fades away. "I can see that you are speaking the truth. This means one of my eternal duties has finally been resolved. If Dracula is truly unable to be resurrected as you say, then I don't have any cause to protect Dominus as I have been for the past century and a half." The figure finally appears, standing a few meters away is a glowing blue woman. Her transparency gives away the truth of what she is quite easily. "But..." Her voice trails off and you take the opportunity to ask her a question instead.

"So... you're some sort of ghost then? You've been protecting this Dominus for all that time? Now that it's useless, why don't you just... move on?"
>>
"Even if I did, there is nothing that awaits me in the afterlife. But regardless of what I might wish, just because Dracula can no longer walk among us, it doesn't mean I intend to allow Dominus to fall into the wrong hands. It might no longer hold the power to resurrect the Dark Lord, but the dark power it contains is dangerous and corrupting nonetheless. I must remain here to protect it even now." There's far less hostility in her voice now, thankfully. But then she seems to remember the purpose for your visit. "If these demons were truly curious about what lies within this temple and weren't simply tricking you, tell them that I, Shanoa, am the protector of this ruin, and that if I were not bound within it, I would ensure their destruction as penance for the innocents they forced me to put out of their misery, stripped off their will and turned into puppets, and forced to do their bidding."

"So, I'm free to go then?" Thankfully, this ghost has been frighteningly easy to mislead.

"Of course. Well. I do have one more question I would like to know the answer to you." The ghost's expression turns quite cold, and the temperature in the room seems to be even lower than when the floor was frozen.

"What's that, miss Shanoa?" You pick your words carefully, for some reason, you get the feeling something really bad is about to happen.

"If Dracula is truly dead, why do I feel his energy from you?!" As she utters the damning question, dozens of images begin to form in the air, swords, knives, bows, hammers and all other kinds of weaponry are represented by glowing images of power which explode into the real thing. There must be at least a hundred or so assorted weapons floating within the room, all pointed directly at you.

>Use the Power of Destruction to defend yourself and retreat from the building.
>Use the Power of Destruction to attack the woman.
>Attempt to explain yourself. (Say what?)
>Try using the Power of Destruction to fully shield yourself from the attack.
>Write-in...
>>
Of all the choices you could have made, you all just had to pick the one that would lead you here, didn't you?
And on the same day you're destined to die, as well...
>>
>>4287383
We're going for the record of times death has been cheated in a single day.

>>4287374
>>Attempt to explain yourself. (Say what?)
>"I was born this way. It's not like I was given a choice. You'll kill someone for crimes they didn't commit and still take the moral high ground, huh?"
Get outta my face you backless dress having blank eyed looking soul shattered being ass tool.
>>
Come to think of it she'd get a good laugh outta us telling her we're not the only one. And that the others are probably assholes who'd try to kill us given the chance. Honestly letting us live would give the greatest chance of knocking off even more of Dracula's successors. Should we mention it? Hm.
>>
>>4287374
>>4287452 is something worth mentioning.
>>
>>4287374
>"Upon his defeat, Dracula's powers were separated from him, and found new hosts. I am one of them. My being here is proof that he is truly dead, even if his legacy has yet to turn to dust."

Maybe we should prepare to use the PoD to shield ourself just in case?
>>
Hmm. She said she's bound to the Church, so if we can escape it we'll be safe.
Even if we tell her the truth, how likely is she to simply kill us for having Dracula's power?

>>4287573
For now I'll edit my vote to:
>"Upon his defeat, Dracula's powers were separated from him, and found newly born hosts. As I am one of them, my being here is proof that he is truly dead, even if the effects of his demise can still be felt."
>Prepare to use the Power of Destruction to defend yourself and retreat from the building at the first instant of lethal force.
>>
>>4287374
Gonna go with >>4287625 and a little extra if lethal force is shown
Though the question is if we should muse about his wraith holing up in our soul. Eh.
>>
>>4287374
Gonna support>>4287625
>>
>>4287625
+1 nice write-in
>>
The weapons hang in the air before you, obviously, she's giving you an opportunity to explain yourself before launching the deadly barrage of weaponry towards you. How generous of her. "Fine. I was somewhat withholding the truth about what I am from you, I admit. In truth upon his defeat, Dracula's powers were separated from him, and found newly born hosts. I was born as one such host, and my being here is more proof than anything else of the truth of Dracula's final death. Even if that energy of his can still be felt as a result of his demise." Hopefully, that will be enough to convince this woman to stop her attack before it begins. You aren't confident that you can defend or dodge against all that weaponry that floats above you, even with Mistral's protection. You don't really want to find out if their magical origin will allow them to bypass it either, and the Power of Destruction would only serve to exhaust you.

The weaponry hangs in the air and Shanoa stares directly into your eyes, the eye contact seems to last an eternity before she turns away from you and fades out of sight. The weapons still hang in the air for a moment before dispersing into thousands of red petals which similarly vanish. It seems that she believed you once again, and now that she's no longer preventing you from leaving and you are in possession of the knowledge of what secret this chapel holds, you can just freely leave and have Jeste agree to assist you!

As you turn back around to head towards the door leading to the outside once again, there's a loud smashing sound directly behind you. You quickly turn to see a large hand of solid stone smashing into the stone floor and leaving deep cracks in it. Either this woman is terribly inaccurate, or she's not trying to hit you. Another crash behind you and then to your sides quickly reveals just what it is the woman is trying to do.

You try to leap as the portion of the floor falls into a darkness below you, but your surprise causes you to instead tumble and only manage to grab on to the side of the newly formed pit, your hands being cut into by the sharp fractured stonework as you grasp onto the stone floor and try to pull yourself up. Only for the ghost to once again appear and look down at you. She opens her mouth to speak once more. "While I do not doubt that you are telling the truth, I must make sure that you are a suitable host of Dracula's power and will not fall to it like others have. I apologize for this." She brings her hand forward quickly and a burst of green magic flies towards you... to absolutely no effect other than to blow your hair about slightly. She looks confused by the lack of the magic having any effect on you before suddenly raising her other arm, causing a large ball of fire to appear in front of her.
>>
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You have no choice but to plunge into the darkness or face incineration as she tosses the dangerous projectile towards you, watching the explosion of flame from below, it looks like you fell at least three stories down into this basement. You suppose you have Mistral to thank for not having any broken bones from the impact. As you get up, the room slowly becomes illuminated in a dim blue light coming from strange crystals embedded in the ceiling.

You almost stumble backwards in surprise as you get up upon seeing what secrets the room hides. Haphazardly scattered about the room are skulls. Dozens of them seemingly tossed about randomly. Judging by the state they are in, these skulls must have been down here for decades! Thankfully, you can see a closed door just ten meters or so away from you. So you won't have to linger in this room for too long.

Though as you take a step towards the door, one of the skulls begins to... shake? Out of caution, you draw your revolver. Then the other skulls begin to mimic the actions of the first skull, only for four monstrously long thin brown legs to sprout from the sides each skull.

Now you aren't surrounded by dozens of human skulls, but dozens of spiders which had taken the shape of a human skull. You aren't really sure if there's any sort of benefit of them doing this at all, as all seeing a skull would do is put any potential victims on edge anyway.

Annoyingly, despite their seemingly pointless tactic of hiding within or taking the form of human skulls, these horrible creatures are still in your way, and are encroaching upon you at a rapid pace.

>Spiders are spiders, skull or not. Just stomp the things to death.
>Draw your other pistol and use both of your guns to shoot at the spiders closest to you.
>Use the Power of Destruction. Wipe them all out.
>Avoid the spiders and simply head for the door to the next room.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4288845
>Draw your other pistol and use both of your guns to shoot at the spiders closest to you.
Never let spiders anywhere near you unless you know they're harmless.
>>
>>4288845
>Draw your other pistol and use both of your guns to shoot at the spiders closest to you.
>>
>>4288845
>>Draw your other pistol and use both of your guns to shoot at the spiders closest to you.
Really starting to get irritating. Now ghosts are getting added to the shitlist. Good job Shanoa. Any future ghost waifus get to start in D-tier.
>>
>>4288937
>Any future ghost waifus get to start in D-tier.
So Hilde and Alura will have some company then?
>>
>>4288944
Alura is easily D+ at the very least. Solely because she didn't try to hide on the fucking ceiling. Though I'd put her at C-.
>>
>>4288845
>Draw your other pistol and use both of your guns to shoot at the spiders closest to you.

When we eventually come back to make the power of Dominus ours, I wonder how Shanoa will feel about this encounter.
>>
Well, it's certainly been a while since your other far less powerful pistol saw any legitimate use, and you don't imagine you'll be finding yourself against any mundane enemies like these spiders all too often, so you wordlessly draw it with your free hand, even while using the revolver to transform the spider creeping closest to you into a pile of white and red goo.

The next few minutes are more frustrating than exciting. While the spiders are completely unintelligent opponents, normally just trying to find the quickest path to reach you instead of just surrounding you and presenting you with a challenge that you wouldn't be able to overcome with just your pistols, there's still a great quantity of them in the room. Even though every shot of either of your gun manages to lethally wound them at least, you still find yourself resorting to having to kick a few of them that get too close to you, the wind explosion from the kicks tearing them apart.

Things only get more frustrating when the Beretta runs out of ammo, forcing you to simply drop it instead of bothering to reload the damn thing. Instead opting to use your now free hand to reload the revolver by spinning the cylinder.

Eventually, one of the spiders gets close enough to attempt to bite you, but they don't manage to pierce your skin with their fangs through the combination of the shield of wind protecting you and the outfit you were given by Alura. When you realize just how little a threat these creatures actually pose to you, it feels as if all the tension in the fight just vanishes. The only thing that you might have to watch out for being them managing to bite a part of you not protected by your suit, but even then, the wind shield might blunt their attack enough for them to not even be able to pierce your skin. You're sure that these creatures, being so otherwise harmless, would have some form of terrible venom on their fangs, but that is quite meaningless if they can't actually inflict it upon you.
>>
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The spiders are slowly whittled down until there are only three of them left. You destroy the two furthest away from you with one magical bullet each, and the one closest to you you simply crush under your foot. The skull shaped body of the monster collapsing in on itself with a sickening squelching sound. As far as tests go, this wasn't exactly one you struggled with, but it's also not something you would like to repeat any time soon. While you weren't really in any danger from those enemies, who knows what might've happened if there was double their number? You doubt you would've been able to take the battle so lightly, even if they for all intents and purposes were completely unable to hurt you. Especially when you saw one of the begin scurrying up a wall with the same pace it could move across the ground. You'd rather not test out the limits of your protective abilities against enemies who are almost certainly venomous either, one misstep could lead to your death, after all.

The room now empty of the creatures and you stand alone amid dozens of spider corpses. If they weren't so annoyingly fast, you might've felt some form of catharsis from eliminating them all. As it is, you really only feel on edge. You make sure to reload the revolver with a spin before slotting it back in it's holster. You do the same for the Beretta when you find it on the floor amidst the bodies, though you don't know when it will come in useful again. It certainly helped you out against these fragile beasts.

Seeing no more reason to stick around in the previously spider infested room, you approach the door and open it. Stepping out into what seems to be some sort of half-hallway half-stairwell. Directly in front of you as you leave the spider infested room are double doors made of solid metal with a red image emblazoned on them. The image itself is strange, a bleeding eye wearing a crown and surrounded by bat wings. Underneath it is some form of banner, but you can't read whatever language the letters are. The language is like nothing you've ever seen before.

Disregarding the metal doors for a moment, you can also see a set of stairs leading downwards, and further into this strange dungeon, and a set of stairs leading upwards, to your safety. The only question that you face now is just what path you will take.

>Go through those metal doors. There's something about them that seems to call to you.
>Head up the stairs, there's no need to prolong this any more than you already have
>Head down the stairs, you're curious as to what other secrets this place holds.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4289620
>Go through those metal doors. There's something about them that seems to call to you.
Call me a sucker for drama, if you want.
>>
>>4289620
>Head down the stairs, you're curious as to what other secrets this place holds.
>>
>>4289620
>Go through those metal doors. There's something about them that seems to call to you.
>>
>>4289620
>Head down the stairs, you're curious as to what other secrets this place holds.
>>
>>4289620
>>Go through those metal doors. There's something about them that seems to call to you.
>>
>>4289620
>Head down the stairs, you're curious as to what other secrets this place holds
Ignore the boss door!
>>
>>4289620
>>Head down the stairs, you're curious as to what other secrets this place holds.
It's not like the door's doing anywhere. Maybe we'll find a kickass hat down there.
>>
>>4289860
Or a cape with magical powers.
Think about it; if we added like a little half-cape to our white suit, we could totally pull off the phantom thief look.
>>
Now that I think about it, tying in with the phantom thief reference, once we start getting more showy powers maybe we should work in a general gambling/casino motif. Playing cards, dice, the whole shebang. We already have the suit and super luck, after all, and it'd definitely work for our pretty-boy looks.
Plus, it'd give us a clear stylistic divide from the 'old' dark lord look of Dracula that Alucard's decided to keep up in his true form.
>>
>>4289856
>>4289860
I mean, I'm all for exploring this place. But honestly, with Shanoa floating around we might want to take the Glyph door sooner then later. I'd bet my money that's where Dominus is, and if I remember my OoE, the picture that was posted with the update is Agony which would be MASSIVELY beneficial if this place has anymore surprises.
>>
>>4289977
I doubt she's finna let us take it regardless. Something tells me she wants it to stay in here where its safe. Last thing she wants is for us to take it, leave, get got by some big bad thing and now it has part of Dominus.
>>
>>4289992
Still worth a try. If we succeed, we get Dominus. If we fail, we don't.
>>
>>4289620
>Go through those metal doors. There's something about them that seems to call to you.
Shanoa isn't going to be happy.
Oh well.
>>
>>4290000
I'm not saying don't do it. It's just pretty dumb to do a boss before clearing the area first. Might get stuck in a cutscene that locks off the area. Or there's something around that'll make the fight easier.
>>
Looks like you're split between further exploration downwards and seeing what lies beyond the door.
We're tied.
>>
>>4290238
Alright, I'll switch to going down the stairs. Maybe there *will* be something useful down there afterall.
>>
It's probably smart not to go for the door that feels like it's calling for us anyways.
That might be where the fancy spell is and Shanoa would be pissed if we touched it.
>>
As tempting as it is right now to find out what lies behind those large metal doors, you feel like whatever it is that you might uncover upon opening the doors can wait. There's no real rush right now anyway. If Anna gets cold or bored of waiting, she can always go and watch the circus without you, so you don't really need to worry about how she's doing up above either.

Then if Shanoa really intends for this to be some form of test or training, the most logical path for you to take would be to descend a level deeper into the heart of what can truly only be called a dungeon. So that's exactly what you do, heading towards the stairs going downwards, you let out a yawn. Hopefully the next challenge that this Shanoa has set up for isn't such a boring one. All her last challenge really did was confirm that you aren't actually all that afraid of spiders, even ones that look as unnerving as those skull shaped creatures and that you're surprisingly accurate with your revolver.

As you descend the stairs, you note how deep they are taking you. You descend what feels like it could easily be three or four levels in a normal building with nothing but the soft illumination of ancient candles that are impossibly still alight to guide you downwards. It's a wonder that you don't slip on the stairs, actually.

Eventually though, you reach the end of the winding stone staircase only to be greated by a solid stone wall, carved from some kind of blue rock. Was this a trick? A prank on whoever made this building's part to annoy visitors into descending a needless staircase? No, there's something about that wall that tells you that it's not actually just a cruel prank being played on you by that woman's ghost.

For a moment you consider trying to punch through the blue wall with the Power of Destruction before there's a muffled screeching sound of ancient gears being forced to turn after decades of inaction, and soon, the wall that you had just considered breaking your way through is hoisted upwards into a slot in the frame, allowing you to step through into the next room. You place a hand on your revolver as you walk into the dark room, prepared for the worst.

The room lights up slowly, lanterns hanging from the ceiling igniting one by one and revealing what lies before you. You are on a platform standing at least twenty meters above a drop onto the stonework below. There's a similar platform with a closed door on the opposite side of the room, about two hundred or so meters away. In between you and the door are hundreds of thin stone pillars or varying height and width. None of them appear large enough to fit both of your feet upon them comfortably though. Are you really expected to navigate your way across this? Isn't this a little bit unfair? Is worthiness for Dracula's power really something that can be measured in acrobatic ability?
>>
Shanoa's voice speaks out as you look at the challenge that lays before you in annoyance, her presence making itself clear in the room somehow, to the point where you can feel it. "My apologies for the... spiders, that you were forced to fight after I caused you to fall." So she's apologizing for the things that tried to kill you but not the fact that she dropped you down here in the first place? Alright, fine. "They were originally supposed to only attack intruders with dark intentions, but I believe that the similarity of your energy to Dracula's own may have caused them to attack you regardless." For whatever reason, her voice seems to be a little kinder than it was before. When she, well, dropped you into that room full of skull spiders.

"How do you figure that I don't have dark intentions then? That those spiders of yours weren't just acting as you wished them to?" Of course, asking her this is a bit of a risk, but you really want to know just why she's so confident now. Before this she had not only tried to freeze you, but had also threatened to skewer you with those floating weapons.

"You didn't actively seek the power of Dominus for your own, nor did you retreat for your own safety." So even when you thought you were making your own decision, it was some form of subtle test on her part? Well, guess that explains what was behind those metal doors then. "Your next challenge is about achieving inner balance, as much as it is about maintaining your physical balance. I look forward to seeing your progress." The voice fades away, and as it does, you can no longer feel the presence that was watching you. You wonder if this ghost would be so happy to test you if they were truly aware of your goal to become the Dark Lord, probably not.

Shanoa's lack of information on the truth of your existence aside however, gaining her trust ought to be quite beneficial to you. Just from the magic she's cast so far, you can tell that she's incredibly skilled at magic. Maybe as skilled as Sophia, if not even more so. Regardless, you're going to have to find a way across this room. Without falling, preferably.

>Just try leaping from one pillar to the next as fast as you can, for as long as it takes you to finally succeed. With Mistral's second blessing, the fall shouldn't hurt anyway.
>Try to leap into the air and catch hold of one of the ropes suspending the lanterns from the ceiling. Then swing from one lantern to the next.
>Try to plot out the best course to jump and take each jump slowly. One at a time. Rushing things will just lead to you slipping and falling.
>Use the Power of Destruction to erase the space between you and the exit. There's no need and no time for you to bother actually playing by the rules.
>>
And of course
>Write-in...
Is an option, I just forgot to add it in this case.
>>
>>4290950
For a second I thought it'd be neat to use the PoD to dig our hands straight into the wall and create perfect hand slots to clamber across.

>Try to plot out the best course to jump and take each jump slowly. One at a time. Rushing things will just lead to you slipping and falling.
We should throw a couple of rocks at the pillars. See if they or the floor below does anything weird. I'm not quick to trust a foot+half sized pillar's structural integrity after who knows how many years of just sitting down here. Otherwise just visualize where you want to go and move with intent.
>>
>>4290987
+1 when in doubt throw some rock at it
>>
>>4290950
>Try to plot out the best course to jump and take each jump slowly. One at a time. Rushing things will just lead to you slipping and falling.
>>
>>4290950
>Try to plot out the best course to jump and take each jump slowly. One at a time. Rushing things will just lead to you slipping and falling.
If we're meant to achieve 'inner balance', the answer seems pretty clear.
>>
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>>4290950
Fucking platforming sections...
Supporting this:
>>4290987
>>
>>4290950
>Try to plot out the best course to jump and take each jump slowly. One at a time. Rushing things will just lead to you slipping and falling.

We're literally jumping through hoops at this point.
>>
The challenge ahead of you looks like it's going to be a real pain to accomplish, but for whatever reason, you decide it would be best to just get on with it rather than to try to cheat your way around it with the Power of Destruction or by leaping from lantern to lantern.

The problem however is that this place is at least a century old, and you don't quite trust these pillars of stone not to break under your weight upon being stepped on. With that in mind, it's obvious to you that the best way to complete this challenge you've been set won't just be to sprint across the pillars and hope for the best. Even if they were all totally stable and structurally sound, that's just asking to slip and fall.

No. Clearly the best path for you to take is to actually plot out a course before trying to leap across to the other side. Especially with how many pillars you'll have to jump across. Even if running across was a viable tactic, the distance of which you'd have to cross just isn't something you're happy with chancing. You slowly begin to plot out a path as you stare at the pillars currently visible to you. Looking for any discrepancies in their design that would lead you to believe in their lack of integrity.

Of course, there's almost a thousand of the pillars, so it's not exactly possible for you to look at all of them at once. Only a few of them are truly visible to you, after all. Regardless though, of the closest, you've seen enough to know which of them looks the safest for you to move to, so you put a single foot on one of the pillars. Unfortunately, this really does look like it's going to be a balancing act, because there isn't enough space on the pillar for you to fit both of your feet on it at once.

You don't allow this setback to get you down though, and instead keep on looking for the safest closest pillar, measuring the distance as well as the integrity of the pillar with a glance and then moving your other foot to the next pillar. For a moment you struggle to balance on a single foot on such a small surface, but you eventually manage it.
>>
This process continues for what feels like hours, until eventually, you find yourself at the mid way point of the room. Thankfully, it's some sort of rest point at that. A larger pillar that you actually can comfortably stand on. In fact, it's so large that you could even lay on it, if you wanted. It's at this point that you feel a shuffling in your inner pocket, and soon enough Mistral flies out of your suit to look at just what it is that's going on. You're even more thankful for the rest point when you realize that it means that Mistral's flitting about won't be able to distract you when you're actually trying to balance your way across the field of pillars. You've already successfully navigated across almost a hundred of the damn things, and falling now would just make you want to give up entirely. "What are you doing, Arthur?" She looks completely confused at the text of acrobatic skill you've been challenged to.

"Trying to make my way to the other side of the room, obviously. Not all of us are blessed with power of flight, you know." As you answer her, she gives you what you can only think of as some sort of smug self satisfied grin, before shrugging.

"Well alright then. Do you mind if I watch you as you go across? I haven't actually had the opportunity to see you in action all too much, after all." She's actually being quite polite. Which you hadn't really expected of her. Unless she's already forgotten that you agreed to follow her orders for the day anyway.

"Well, maybe you would see more of me if you didn't just sleep all the time. But go ahead, I don't mind as long as you aren't planning on being a distraction." Honestly, the last thing you need right now is a fairy flying around.

"Hey! I am conserving my energy till I gain enough of a reserve so that I won't fall unconscious or worse if I try to do anything!" She pauses as she flies right up in your face." Which wouldn't be a problem if you knew how to actually use some of your surplus mana you have to do something about it!" Her response is kind of informative, actually. Surplus mana? You'll need to remember to ask somebody with a little more knowledge about magic about that. Maybe Jeste or Anna might know? Shanoa almost certainly knows, but you aren't certain if asking her is a good idea.

"Well, I could look for a method as to how I could go about doing that, if it would make you happier and more active. I feel like you miss out on a lot due to these bouts of sleepiness you suffer from too. I would really prefer if you would remain awake for as long as I do, honestly." Mistral smiles in response to your words before flying out of sight and leaving you to concentrate on the task at hand.
>>
As soon as you place your foot on the next pillar after stepping off the rest point, something strange begins to happen. The room seems to slowly being to turn. You rub your eyes to try to make sense of things, but instead it feels like you're standing at a ninety degree angle. You can barely hold yourself back from flinching and stumbling off the pillar.

"Wow. That's quite an interesting illusion." Mistral muses in the background, apparently unaware to your own confusion to the shifting of the room. For a moment, you resent the fairy for her own ability to fly. But it quickly turns into less resenting Mistral for her ability to fly, and more wanting the ability to fly yourself. Again, something to ask one of your more magically inclined allies about when you get the chance. Hopefully the others are doing alright. You haven't really given them much thought since you had more pressing matters, but you do feel some concern about how Effi, Holly and Coller will get on alone. Grigori and Sophia however should be able to function perfectly fine by themselves. You're somewhat hoping that Sophia is capable of tracking down everyone from where she teleported them. You aren't all too keen on the idea of stumbling around looking for your missing allies when for all you know they could be spread out across the entire continent.

You almost trip again as you are distracted by your inner thoughts and confused by the strange whirling of the room. You've mostly managed to get used to the spinning of the room though. The rotation is only on a single axis and it remains at a constant steady pace. All it is now is just an additional annoyance for you to work around as you make your way to the end of the room, making sure not to step on any unsteady pillars.

After what feels like another hour, you finally make it to the other side of the room. Immediately collapsing upon the stone platform in exhaustion. Your legs scream in overexertion, yet you managed to get across. You simply lay there for a minute to recover, only for Mistral to appear hovering overhead. "That was pretty impressive, actually. I kept thinking I was going to have to give you a boost up if you started to fall, but you managed it!" She's actually clapping for you. You aren't sure whether to appreciate the gesture or be annoyed at the sylph who simply watched you struggle through that challenge. You instead decide to ignore the gesture, and get up.

Your head finally starts to clear and the room ceases it's endless spinning, finally letting you actually properly gain your bearings. You can't really tell what's wrong, but your vision feels odd even after the room stops spinning. Better, somehow. Whereas before, Mistral's wings were always a blur of motion whenever she used them, now you actually somewhat possess the ability to see them in motion. It's a strange sensation, but it feels almost like you can see better after completing that chore of a task.
>>
After your legs recover from their extreme fatigue, you allow yourself to get up and start to walk towards the next door. Hopefully you don't have to do more tests of acrobatic skill, otherwise you really would just remove the space between yourself and the exit with the Power of Destruction.

As you go to open the door, you quickly realize that it's almost impossible to budge. Eventually, you are forced to place both hands on the heavy door and force it open with all of your strength. You're glad you didn't have to reveal the Power of Destruction for such a mundane obstacle, best to keep it under wraps for now, you would think.

Finally, you step inside the room. A circular chamber with a single stone sarcophagus at the far end. A beautifully carved statue of a man in clothing that seems like something Sophia would pick out stands at the base of the statue, his expression one of serene tranquility despite the firearm placed in his open hands. Other than the statue and the sarcophagus, there's not really a lot to go off in this room. There doesn't even seem to be an exit other than through the way you came in. Is that it then? Have you truly reached the end of this test Shanoa wanted to make you take? It's not exactly much of a test of spirit or whatever she planned for you to take if the extent of it was an overly difficult and unfair obstacle course.

>Call out to Shanoa, ask her to explain what this room is.
>Take the gun from the statue.
>Try to open the sarcophagus.
>Try to push the sarcophagus aside.
>Simply wait to see if anything happens.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4292546
>Simply wait to see if anything happens.
>>
>>4292546
>>Simply wait to see if anything happens.
And make sure to look up. You know, just in case. And down. We will not abide by fuckery of the stonework.
>>
>>4292546
>>Take the gun from the statue.
Honestly, might as well. If a trap happens, it happens.
>>
>>4292546
>Simply wait to see if anything happens.
First, I don't want another gun, second, I'd really rather not do anything to spoil the good impression we've been making on Shanoa so far. Let's wait this thing out 'til our ghostly guide shows up.
>>
>>4292585
>>4292614
>>4292667
I don't think there are any traps, the sheet says we have a skill that lets us notice them.
Also, if that gun is the gun I think it is. It's an upgrade and we should grab it.
>>
>>4292719
We all know what gun it's supposed to be, but an upgrade to our lamest weapon is still something I'd like to avoid. The sooner our hand-to-hand combat is more useful than our magic revolver, the happier I'll be.
>>
>>4292729
I mean, I doubt that gun would be considered our lamest weapon and we have a couple perks that enhance our ranged ability.
Ignoring a direct upgrade just because you don't like guns is kind of dumb.
>>
>>4292546
>Take the gun from the statue.
>>
>>4292719
Oh, I didn't even notice the Character Sheet got updated.
Still, shouldn't we ask Shanoa before taking anything?
I'm also concerned about Mistral saying something that would make Shanoa concerned and ruining the impression we've been making.
>>
>>4292733
So is robbing the grave of a colleague of the woman to whom we're supposed to be proving our moral worthiness right now. It doesn't matter whether there are no traps, stealing from Albus' tomb isn't going to help convince Shanoa that we're her idea of a good person.
It all comes down to your priorities. The way I see it, if we start taking gun upgrades, we're going to end up stuck on the gun path because anons tend to take the "most optimal solution" (read, easy way out) as much as possible. I'd like to get off of the pistol train, personally.
>>
>>4292740
>>4292741
I mean, if you guys want to ask Shanoa before taking it then that's fine. I'm good with the gun path, revolver has been MVP.
Though I find it amusing that we're trying so hard to convince Shanoa that we're a good person now that we know she can kill us when before it was "screw playing along with the voice."
>>
>>4292741
She did lead us here though, and it appears to be the only thing obvious enough for a 'good guy' to take.

>>4292757
I'm just going along with it to see how much loot we can obtain.
We've already gained a new trait from this encounter, and we know the location of Dominus, I'd say this excursion is already pretty good.
Getting to know the layout in the case that we return here would be useful, but Alucard and friends may already be on their way here, so they'd probably meet ghosty Shanoa and confiscate Dominus first, so if we could get it now that would be wonderful.
Who knows, there may also be something that can help grow Alura down here.

Well, might as well change it..
>>4292546
>>4292585
>Call out to Shanoa, ask her to explain what this room is.
>If she's okay with it, then take the gun from the statue.
>>
>>4292772
I'm willing to support this. Changing from >>4292662
>>
>>4292757
My curiosity outweighs my disdain for disembodied voices.
>>
>>4292546
>Try to push the sarcophagus aside
"Lmao let's try looting a tomb during the day we're supposed to die."
Yeah no, let's just move on.
>>
>>4292546
>>4292772
Supporting this
>>
This room is quite an odd one, there's no test or challenge visible, and the only things of any note are the statue and the sarcophagus. If there's meant to be something for you to do in this room, you aren't certain of what it is, and you're hesitant to just start rummaging around in this room when it's quite obviously meant to be some form of tomb. Why would Shanoa lead you here?

"Shanoa. If you're watching me right now, would you care to explain what exactly this room is? I was under the impression that you wanted to ensure I wouldn't fall to Dracula's dark power or something." There's nothing to do but ask for the woman herself to get involved here. Otherwise you're just going to stumble around in this tomb and potentially cause some form of disrespect.

A few seconds after you call out to her, the woman's ghost appears with her back to you, staring at the statue of the man. Despite her sudden appearance, she remains silent, and doesn't actually give any indication that she heard your request at all. She just stands there, looking at the statue sadly. You tap your foot in order to get her attention, and she actually jumps slightly, apparently having forgotten your presence entirely.

She still doesn't turn to face you, but she does speak. "This room is... It's the tomb of my brother, Albus. He took the three glyphs that make up Dominus for himself, for the purpose of researching a method to destroy Dracula without a sacrifice needing to be made." She recalls these past events sadly. "He was corrupted by the power despite having only the intention to destroy Dracula, in the end, Dominus took his sanity from him, and forced me to... put a stop to his madness."

"Sacrifice? What sort of sacrifice?" You don't really like the sound of that."

"Dominus. The full power of Dominus was never meant to be wielded by humans, and to call upon it would tear the user's soul to shreds. Removing it from existence altogether" She mutters sadly.

This doesn't make any sense, why would they try to use Dominus to destroy Dracula? Didn't she tell you it was intended to bring Dracula back to life? "What exactly does Dominus... do?" You feel like the more informed you are the more chance you'll have of actually understanding what you should do about Dominus.
>>
"I suppose I owe you something of an explanation after making you go through that challenge. Dominus is a powerful weapon, it was created by my master, Barlowe, as a weapon to defeat Dracula. At least, that's what he told everyone else at Ecclesia. While Dominus was indeed a powerful weapon, so much so that even split into three, each piece holds tremendous power, that wasn't it's true function. In truth, by using all three pieces of Dominus together, you could resurrect Dracula, more powerful than ever before." Interesting, it seems that this Dominus she's talking about is quite a bit more powerful than you had first assumed, if it can be used as a weapon. "However. The full power of Dominus also had another use. If it was called upon as a weapon instead, it would immediately end the life of everyone the user could see, without question, even if it were to be used against Dracula himself."

That sounds horrifyingly powerful! Even with the Power of Destruction at your side, even you never considered an ability that powerful to exist. Even if it does cost the user's own soul to use it, the ability to instantly kill absolutely anything is completely unreasonable, you can only hope you never find yourself facing somebody with it's power, though there are a few ways for you to ensure you won't have to ever face such a thing. "So, Dominus is both corrupting and kills it's user? I can understand the wish for a weapon to destroy Dracula, but would it not have been wiser for this Dominus to have been destroyed?"

Shanoa shakes her head. "No. Dominus cannot be destroyed. The only power that would be strong enough to destroy any of the three glyphs would be the three gylphs combined. Simply put, there was no method Ecclesia had to allow them to destroy Dominus." You imagine the Power of Destruction would allow you to accomplish such a thing, but you don't want to reveal that to this woman just yet, especially when claiming the power of Dominus for your own feels quite tempting in and of itself.

"I see. There is another question I wish to ask of you though." Shanoa finally turns to face you, having had her share of staring at the sarcophagus. "That gun being held by the statue. What exactly is it?" You don't exactly know why, but the weapon seems to call out to you. Despite it's totally antique design, something about it just has a strange feeling of power to it."

She breaths in. "That... is Agartha. My brother's weapon. He was a genius with glyphs, and that gun represents one of his greatest accomplishments in using them. I could tell you what glyphs it makes use of, but I don't imagine you'd understand them by name alone, and I doubt you want a lecture on their purpose." She confirms your suspicions. It is some form of magical weapon after all! "But I know what your next question is, and I'm afraid the answer is no."
>>
"Why?" You should've predicted this the moment she mentioned that it belonged to her brother. Nobody would want to part with one of the few things they have to remember a relative with in order to give it to somebody who is almost a complete stranger.

"Albus... he became more and more paranoid as time went on... for good reason, admittedly. He ensured that his weapon was only possible to be used by himself through some means of magic even I was unable to figure out. Even if I were to give it to you. You would only be able to use it for it's most basic function, and not use the magic of the glyphs stored within it." She explains the problem with the weapon. "I won't stop you from taking it by force, if that is what you truly wish to do, maybe you might have more luck unlocking it than I did, but I wouldn't recommend it. Albus might have been the greatest user of glyphs Ecclesia ever produced. But as for this room, it only serves as a reminder that even the strongest among us can fall to the power of darkness. That's all."

>Take the weapon regardless. It will be an upgrade over the Beretta, in any case.
>Don't take the weapon. It just feels disrespectful, and who knows what Albus did to that gun.
>Attack Shanoa while her guard is down. Ghost or not, the Power of Destruction shouldn't fail you.
>Write-in...
>>
Note to self: in the future don't make it so a term that is going to be repeated often is put solely in red formatting.
>>
>>4293794
>Don't take the weapon. It just feels disrespectful, and who knows what Albus did to that gun.
>>
>>4293794
>>Take the weapon regardless. It will be an upgrade over the Beretta, in any case.
>>
>>4293794
>Don't take the weapon. It just feels disrespectful, and who knows what Albus did to that gun.
>>
>>4293800
>>4293810
Wouldn't it be even more disrespectful to leave it here for the circus demons to take and desecrate?
>>
>>4293815
They can't get in.
>>
>>4293820
They can't get in right now, but the reason we came here is because they wanted us to find out the cause of the barrier and turn it off so they could come and rampage around the place.
I'd rather Agartha and Dominus be with us, then anyone else before that happens.
>>
>>4293794
>>Don't take the weapon. It just feels disrespectful, and who knows what Albus did to that gun.
Not like we can use it. And using the PoD to try to destroy the "restrictions" on it sounds like it'd end up making it explode or something unfortunate like that. Besides his most useful ability was the teleporting and I don't think that was tied to his gun.
>>
>>4293831
That's just not true. Jester asked us to go in and find out what was in there, not to disable the barrier.
>>
>>4293851
>Jester asked us to go in and find out what was in there, not to disable the barrier.
Do you just skim the posts or something? Seriously.

>>4285870
>"But if you can find whatever it is that is maintaining the defenses and disable it, I would be especially grateful."
>"The satisfaction of knowing that whoever tried so hard to keep the unholy from trespassing on their domain's efforts were all for naught, and that whatever it is they wished to hide away in this place is exposed to those who they most despised!"
>"When you've lived as long as I have, there's not really much that can truly make you feel anything at all. Triumphing over those who loathe me and my kind holds something of a special place in my heart."

>>4293832
We don't need PoD to do it. We could ask Hilde or if we absolutely have to, get a favor from Chaos.
>>
>>4293831
Those barriers will probably only be removed when Shanoa dies.

>>4293851
She did say she would appreciate it if we did though.

I kinda want to sneak attack her right now, our full abilities will be put on display the further we go with these tests and the more likely our purpose is to be revealed.
She isn't likely to look upon our goals kindly.
>>
>>4293866
Huh. Guess I'm more spaced out after work than I thought, I totally forgot about that.
Anyway, it's not like we're going to exorcise Shanoa, and that's probably the only way to undo the blessings, so it's a moot point. She's just going to have to not be "especially grateful".
>>
>>4293877
We're most likely going to need to kill her since she won't let us go if she learns more about us.
I doubt there won't be a trial about 'pure intentions' or something like that if we keep going.
>>
>>4293866
I'm just gonna say it Sophia is shit at magic. She ain't a wizard. She just does things and stuff happens. She probably knows about as much about the basics of proper spellcraft as we do. Grigori would be a better person to ask since despite having a natural affinity for magic he is a proper mage.
>>
>>4293877
Depends. She said her goal was to protect Dominus. If we take Dominus, she has no reason to protect this place anymore.
Meaning the barriers will probably drop. That's why I'm saying, let's take Agartha, let's take Dominus. It's better then letting them have either, they can have the skull spider room.
I'd also like to see if Eccelsia's library still exists, and take the books there.
>>
>>4293794
>Take the weapon regardless. It will be an upgrade over the Beretta, in any case.
Well, we do have ways to figure out how to use it.
>>
Calling and writing in 15 minutes.
>>
>>4293894
We do need the gun to perform research on it though.
The PoD also seems to be pretty surgical, it doesn't erase our body even though we're the originator, so if we could find the specific restriction removing it shouldn't destroy it, unless there's a failsafe we don't remove.
But even without it we can have Grigori or Sophia, or even Anna look at it, hell, maybe Drac could have something to say about it.
And it's been a bit since we've gotten ourselves a useful weapon.
>>
>>4294328
It's also honestly better then leaving it here and letting it possibly fall into someone else's hands.
>>
>>4294335
Yeah, I have almost no doubt that Alucard and the Dorin organization will be heading this way asap.
We really do need to get ourselves better equipment immediately.
>>
>>4293794
>Take the weapon regardless. It will be an upgrade over the Beretta, in any case.
>>
And now we are tied.
>>
>>4294361
Tied the vote 1 minute before the cutoff. That's brutal.
>>
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>>4294368
Now I suppose we wait for the tiebreaker.
>>
>>4293794
I'll be the tiebreaker.
>Take the weapon regardless. It will be an upgrade over the Beretta, in any case.
For its own safety. Can't let it fall into the wrong hands indeed
>>
>>4294421
Anon we are the wrong hands. We've got two left hands. Not a right hand in sight.
>>
>>4294427
It just needs to fall into the right wrong hands, then it'll be ok.
>>
>>4294427
We're like the least wrong hands it could fall into.

>>4294405
Can we mention to Shanoa we're only taking it because we don't want it to fall into the hands of like the Demon Circus or something.
>>
>>4294438
>I'm working with these guys
>but I don't want to help them get stuff
It doesn't exactly sound genuine. Better to leave it vague if anything.
>>
>>4294471
She did witness us using guns, us wanting a better magical one shouldn't be surprising.
>>
>>4294471
They said we could take whatever we want out of what we found.
>>
You aren't about to pass up on the opportunity to claim a magical weapon for your own. Even if it's true power might be sealed, you're sure that you'll be able to find some use for the thing. You move forwards towards the statue, moving past Shanoa's ghost as you do and eventually stopping before the statue of Albus before picking the weapon up, it really does look like an antique. Strangely though this weapon, Agartha doesn't have the weight you would expect of it, nor does it actually have any way for it to be loaded!

You look at the weapon in bewilderment as you try to figure out the specifics of how it works. "I could only ever figure out the glyph keeping it's most basic function locked, so it's capable of firing bullets fairly rapidly without the need of reloading. In a way it's like that magical weapon you carry, except it has no need to manually reload like that pistol. Though Albus himself was capable of doing far more than just that with it, locked within that weapon hides nearly a complete record of every offensive glyph Ecclesia ever researched before it's... dissolution when Barlowe's treachery against mankind was finally exposed." Shanoa explains the weapon to you somewhat before you quickly realize that you don't actually have anywhere to store the gun. It didn't come with a convenient holster and despite being some form of pistol, the damn thing is pretty large.

Shanoa watched you with a strangely amused look on her face as you struggle to find a place to actually holster the weapon, before a leather belt with a holster attached appears in her hand. She quickly passes the belt over to you. "Thank you. But why are you so willing to part with one of the few things you have to remember your brother by?" Honestly, that's the thing that makes the least sense of all of this. It should be something deeply precious to her, even if she has long since died herself. You detach the holster from the belt and instead hook it onto your current belt. Stashing the other belt into one of your pockets.

"I... I don't intend to stay within the halls of Ecclesia much longer, and without me, eventually somebody would come across Albus' tomb, so I would rather it be passed on to somebody who I have had the opportunity to test myself." She explains her motives to you. You feel like asking her how old she is, before realizing that it would be terribly rude to ask for a woman's age. Even if that woman is a ghost and appears no older than twenty or so.

"Speaking of this test of mine, are we done? I thought you would want to test me for longer than you actually did. I don't see how forcing me to jump from pillar to pillar is really any judge of my character." It was more of an exercise in the limits of your patience than it was anything else.
>>
"You would be surprised. During your challenge, you had the ability to cheat and use whatever supernatural powers you possessed to aid you in that test, yet instead, you simply observed and slowly took the correct course of action. You did not choose to rashly run through the obstacles, nor did you attempt to use the lanterns to swing across." Sounds sort of flimsy, if you were going to be honest. "Furthermore, when you reached Albus' tomb, you were as respectful as could be expected, asking me for guidance instead of simply blindly charging through a place of remembrance in an attempt to complete a challenge that was not there." So you really are done then? This really wasn't much of a test of character, but you don't mind too much. If that's how Shanoa is going to judge your character, far be it from you to correct her. At least you didn't have to enter a cave and fight some hallucination of your father or something equally trite.

"So, I can leave then? Are you truly satisfied that I've proven myself a viable host of Dracula's dark powers? As long as your next test doesn't involve any needlessly long ladder climbs up, you'll be fine, you think.

"There's... one more test, actually. Though if you wish to leave now, I shall not stop you." There's a hint of caution in Shanoa's voice, and some concern for you as well.

"I'm not about to back away now, Shanoa. I'll prove to you that I am worthy of this power without a doubt." For some reason, you answer almost without thinking.

"Very well then, Arthur." You... don't recall giving Shanoa your name. Though she may have have simply overheard Anna speak it when you were. "Don't move." At Shanoa's word, a ring of glyphs appears underneath your feet. the symbols and incomprehensible letters glowing brighter and brighter until the light completely blinds you.

The light finally clears and you find yourself in the room above the pillars you had just jumped across, though the metal doors with the red image upon them have now opened, revealing a long dark corridor before you. So, this must be final test Shanoa spoke of. It has something to do with Dominus of that, you're sure.

>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.
>Go upwards to leave Ecclesia instead. Pursuing Dominus is foolish, given what you know of it.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4294599
>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.
>>
>>4294599
>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.
>>
>>4294599
>>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.
>>
>>4294599
>>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.
She did literally open the door for us.
>>
Oh, and about Shanoa knowing our name, shouldn't Arthur have thought about Mistral rather than Anna?
>>
>>4294760
Don't blame Arthur for forgetting about her. She's just a gust in the wind after all.
>>
>>4294599
>Go through the open metal doors into the dark corridor.

>At least you didn't have to enter a cave and fight some hallucination of your father or something equally trite.
What's this a reference to?
>As long as your next test doesn't involve any needlessly long ladder climbs up, you'll be fine, you think.
Going from some reference I don't get to MGS3? Wow, Arthur sure has good taste in kino.
>>
>>4295174
>What's this a reference to?
Empire Strikes Back.
>>
Well, Shanoa has opened the doors for you, and it would be rude to refuse this last test after agreeing to it so readily before. Regardless of Shanoa's intentions, this is the perfect opportunity to behold Dominus yourself, and decide what to do about the mysterious glyph yourself. While you certainly won't be using it to tear your own soul asunder or to bring Dracula back from his eternal grave, the way Shanoa spoke of it implied that there were other functions to it, and not just ones with rather fatal repercussions.

You step through the doors and into the darkness ahead, holding your breath slightly as you do. You are quite anxious about this, after all. Especially as there's no telling what Shanoa might do if you do try to claim Dominus for your own use. That woman is quite the mystery after all, though it's possible that her decades in isolation have caused her to lose quite a bit of what sanity she had whilst she was alive. She is quite literally opening the way for you, a Dark Lord Candidate, to take the thing she is apparently supposed to be protecting.

As you walk through the dark corridors, candles light themselves in a blue flame as you pass them, only providing minimal illumination despite the ghostly blue flame that burns upon them that allows you only to see the huge golden suits of armor that stand guard in alcoves set between each candle. Each is easily twice your height, and it's quite obvious that no man could possibly have need of such a large suit of armor. The corridor is long, and for every candle that is lit, you find your heart beating faster and faster, constantly on edge for something to leap out of the darkness ahead to attack you.

But no attack comes, and eventually you find yourself at the end of the corridor, with another set of doors ahead of you. These doors share the same symbol as the doors you passed through originally, the crowned bleeding eye. You try to relax as you push the double doors open, beholding a large cylindrical chamber, lit by a huge image on the ceiling emanating intense light, those same golden suits of armor from the corridor are positioned all around the circular walls, with another row of them standing in front of them kneeling down with their swords supporting them, whoever positioned these suits of armor either had way too much time on their hands, or they weren't positioned by a third party at all...

Disregarding the army of huge golden knights, you instead look to the centre of the room, to the red glyph floating just above a circular plinth of marble and gold. True to the symbols on the door, the glyph itself is composed of a winged eye with a crown. It's almost unnerving how the eye itself seems to be watching you. You aren't sure whether it's some sort of trick of perspective or if it actually really is looking at you. This must be Dominus. There's no question.
>>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4UMtHHohjk

You approach the glyph despite the general sense of foreboding that it gives off, and stop when you're just a meter away. Close enough to reach out and grab it. You stand there in silence for a long while as you think on just what you should do about the powerful weapon ahead of you.

Shanoa herself is nowhere to be seen despite how important that this room must be to her, and offers no guidance or explanation of the room. Though that doesn't mean that you get to remain entirely in silence, as Mistral begins fluttering about and looking at the golden knights, despite having remained almost completely silent up till now. "Say, Arthur. What do you think these suits of armor are for? This Shanoa woman must really have liked gold, I think." Of course, your theory that Shanoa might have overheard Anna outside the church when she knew your name was probably incorrect after all. Mistral can't help herself from saying your name any time she addresses you. Still, it is quite rude to not ask for somebody to introduce themselves first and to just call them by their first name, you think.

"I don't know, Mistral. I'm trying to think, so could you remain silent for just a moment? I'll buy you something nice later." It feels like Dominus itself is calling out to you, and the last thing you need to have is Mistral fluttering about to distract you.

"Oh fine. But it better be something I like!" She shouts at you before dissipating into the wind. Despite the tension in your body that merely looking upon Dominus is giving you, you can't help but smile slightly. It's not like Mistral is fussy about anything at all. Honestly, you could probably buy her something most people would disregard as trash and she'd be fascinated by it.

You shake your head to rid yourself of the thoughts of Mistral, and instead refocus on Dominus. It's been a good five minutes now, and the room is almost completely silent. There's still no sign of Shanoa or of any movement at all, actually. Just you and Dominus. Now is the time then, it seems, as you

>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
>Take a step forwards and use the Power of Destruction to rid the world of Dominus.
>Turn around and take your leave. You don't need the Power of Dominus.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4295217
>Turn 360 degrees and walk away.
>>
>>4295217
>>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
If she's going to let us have it, then let's have it.
>>
>>4295217
>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
I'm not looking forward to fighting all these final guards, but I'm not about to pass up an opportunity like this either.
>>
>>4295217
>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
Ours now
>>
>>4295265
I can't wait for Dracula's shadow in our soul to start laughing.
>>
>>4295217
>Take a step forwards and use the Power of Destruction to rid the world of Dominus.
I have a feeling that we're gonna have a bit of an identity crisis if we take Dominus into ourselves.
>>
>>4295273
We'll have to pay close attention when he does, and see if we can learn his laugh teleport.
>>
>>4295217
>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
>>
>>4295217
>Take a step forwards to claim Dominus for yourself.
>>
You take a step forward as you reach out towards the glyph floating before you, your hand involuntarily trembles as you reach towards Dominus the anticipation of claiming it having managed to cause your entire body to shake. Somehow, this just feels like it's the right thing to do. Like claiming a piece of yourself that has been stolen away.

Finally, you allow yourself to be held back no more, thrusting your hand forwards and grasping at the hovering glyph. For a moment, you are surprised when your hand passes through the image almost without any resistance. Just as you are about to let out a noise of confusion however, the glyph begins to meld with your skin. The pain of the magical ability bonding with you is worse than anything you've ever experienced before. The red glyph vanishes completely as it disappears within your hand, though you can feel the pain as it snakes it's way down your arm and towards your back.

Upon reaching your back, the pain only increases further, as it seems to spread out, carving into your back as it does. You fall to a knee as the pain becomes simply too much for you to bear with, and you reach a hand to your back to feel the wet sensation of dripping blood creeping across your skin. Even the outfit that Alura made for you having been reduced into ribbons of bloody fabric.

Your agony doesn't stop there, however, as the newly formed cuts upon your back then burn with the intensity of a raging inferno. You can smell the horrifying sensation of your own flesh cooking as you fall to the floor, unable even to support yourself at all through the tremendous pain.

All you can do is grit your teeth and wait for the pain assaulting the very core of your being to finally dissipate. You were completely unprepared for just how much pain that claiming Dominus would bring you, and now you are suffering for it. The world fades out of your vision a few times as everything goes blurry, but you don't allow yourself to fade into unconsciousness.

Finally, after what feels like hours of pure agony, though in reality you doubt it was more than ten minutes, the pain begins to fade. The world begins to take proper shape again around you, and you struggle to your feet. You can feel that your back is actually bare, whatever Dominus did upon binding itself to you having actually burned away the fabric of the suit and the shirt underneath. Craning your head to actually look at the result of claiming Dominus, you can see the scars on your back in the exact same form as that of the glyph that you claimed. Though these are clearly no ordinary scars, as each line is charcoal black, and feels indelibly bonded to you. In this moment you know that Dominus will be with you until the moment of your death, and that nothing could possibly remove it from you.
>>
You gasp for air as you hold on to the side of the plinth to support yourself. Then, you surprise yourself even, as you swing your arms out and begin to laugh as loudly as you can. The power of Dominus that flows through you despite currently remaining inactive feels... good. You feel so much more powerful. That worm Alucard will die by your hand!

You clutch your head in pain and soon regain your sense and cease your bout of maniacal laughter to allow yourself to focus on the chamber once again. You highly doubt that Shanoa is going to have appreciated your taking of the glyph. Even if she did wish for you to take it for whatever reason, suddenly bursting out into what could only really be described as a fit of evil laughter wouldn't exactly inspire much confidence.

Despite you having taken Dominus though, there's no indication from anything in the room that anything is wrong at all. The giant suits of armor remain in place, frozen as they were when you entered the room. Though that all changes at the very moment you set a foot off of the elevated part of the room the plinth of Dominus was resting upon. As in perfect synchronization, every single one of the hundreds of giant suits of golden armor suddenly stand tall, their heads all craning towards you. Yeah. You figured something like this was going to happen.

>Call upon Dominus Agony to help you escape, even with your newfound power, fighting so many enemies is suicidal
>Use the Power of Destruction to help you flee. Despite your confidence in your skill, you aren't about to face so many enemies if you don't have to.
>Call upon both Dominus Agony and the Power of Destruction at once. Destroy all that oppose you.
>Attempt to escape the guardian suits of armor without using either of your dark powers.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4295479
>Attempt to escape the guardian suits of armor without using either of your dark powers.
>>
>>4295479
>Attempt to escape the guardian suits of armor without using either of your dark powers.
>>
>>4295479
>>Attempt to escape the guardian suits of armor without using either of your dark powers.
>>
>>4295479
Actually, you know what. I'm going to switch >>4295502 to
>>Call upon Dominus Agony to help you escape, even with your newfound power, fighting so many enemies is suicidal
I just noticed that there are HUNDREDS of Final Guards.
>>
>>4295479
>>Attempt to escape the guardian suits of armor without using either of your dark powers.
The first thing you do when you get a new thing isn't to use it haphazardly. Gotta acclimate and experiment in small doses. Besides, how fast could giants suits of armor be? We're gonna die, woo.
>>
>>4295479
>Call upon both Dominus Agony and the Power of Destruction at once. Destroy all that oppose you.
>>
>>4295479
>Call upon Dominus Agony to help you escape, even with your newfound power, fighting so many enemies is suicidal
Discretion is the better part of valor, and all that. Time to ramp up our speed and get out of here.
Then again, I wonder where the other pieces of Dominus are. If they're kept in Ecclesia, running away now will mean leaving them for Jester (assuming Shanoa really is going to be fading away soon.) I can't imagine they'd be anywhere else, though.
>>
>>4295538
We are still being tested you know.
If we failed the test by taking Dominus, then Shanoa would probably have killed us while we were incapacitated.
>>
>>4295561
Doesn't matter if we die. I'd rather survive to find out we failed the last bit, then die and find out.
>>
>>4295578
Armors are pretty slow right?
We should be able to outrun them, to the hallway at least.
>>
>>4295561
I think the real test is whether or not we use it right away. To see how it affects Arthur. I'm personally not keen on using it immediately after we had a fit of megalomania.
>>
>>4295561
I'm not sure if I see just exactly how your point ties into my comment. Are you suggesting that if we keep passing the tests we're liable to get access to the other two pieces of [r]Dominus[/r], that to use it now would fail the test and invite Shanoa's wrath, both, or neither?
>>
>>4295610
Unless the other two pieces are separated from this one for some reason, they should all be here.
And if Shanoa's claim about not being around much longer holds true, then she must intend for us to do something about [r]Dominus[/r].
Given that she doesn't know we hold the Power of Destruction, she shouldn't have assumed we held the capability to destroy it, so she probably wants us to take them.
The armors awoke after we took Agony, so she probably intends for us to get rid of them, but I don't want to immediately use it to destroy them though, since Arthur just lost his marbles a bit when thinking about destroying Alucard, he could easily lose himself at the moment.
Actually, could that be the test? Use Dominus without losing yourself to the power?
But as a footnote, couldn't we easily accidentally kill ourselves using it in conjunction with the PoD?
>>
>>4295638
>Actually, could that be the test? Use Dominus without losing yourself to the power?
That's a more likely test then "Don't use it and die to 100 Final Guards."
Let's at least survive this.
>>
>>4295479
>Call upon Dominus Agony to help you escape, even with your newfound power, fighting so many enemies is suicidal
Let's not get too ahead of ourselves.
Final Guards are overpowered.
>>
>>4295479
>Call upon Dominus Agony to help you escape, even with your newfound power, fighting so many enemies is suicidal
Yeah no we aren't equipped physically or sanity-wise to take on A WHOLE ROOM OF NOTHING BUT HUNDREDS OF FINAL GUARDS
>>
>>4295675
Really depends on the type of final guard. But seeing as a bigass shield wasn't mentioned and they're only twice Arthur's height these may be the symphony version. Which are the best. Ecclesia shouldn't even have final guards like this though. This is cheating.
>>
>>4295687
They could be axe armors, those were gold in Ecclesia.
>>
>>4295689
Could be, but these guys have swords. Maybe we're lucky and these are just axe armors with an identity crisis.
>>
>>4295687
If it helps your decision making process, they are each equipped with large golden greatswords with a red gem set in the hilt as well as tower shields.
I just felt that more and more descriptive text about the suits of armour would end up cluttering the update.
>>
>>4295693
Oh. So they are less ridiculously huge aria ones. Not as scary as the symphony ones IMO. But maybe they're actually able to walk decently since they aren't building sized.

Got a point with the clutter though. It's a lot of extra work just to tickle some autism. Guess I shouldn't jump to conclusions.
>>
>>4295693
In that case, then I do think we shouldn't need Dominus to escape.
Aria's Final Armor moves decently slowly, and its only ranged attack comes from plunging its sword into the ground.
Now if they start throwing their swords and shields however, then we'll have an issue.
>>
>>4295721
There are armors in the corridor too. There are ALOT of them in here for some damn reason. We really need to use one or both of our fancy dracula powers to escape.
>>
>>4295727
>for some damn reason
Obviously to stop people from doing what we just did.
But even with hundreds of them, they're going to have problems moving and attacking properly.
Only the few front rows should be a problem, and if we're going straight to the exit then our enhanced perception should let us take the best path while avoiding their attacks.
And the corridor should be even easier to get past than the colosseum, since there's fewer.
>>
>>4295744
You're making alot of assumptions when we can just turn on agony and make sure we escape.
>>
>>4295781
And you're assuming that we can just get agony to work the way we want it without issue right away. I'm unconvinced that using Dominus is a good idea right now.
>>
>>4295781
I'd consider it more of an observation than an assumption.
Armors have never moved fast in Castlevania, and bringing in hundreds of suits will only make it more difficult for them to maneuver around each other.
What they'll most likely try to do is surround us and mob us to death, so if we just go as fast as we can to the exit we should be fine.
Thinking about the situation and not acting rashly appears to be the traits Shanoa is looking for, and why she led us this far in the first place.
Hastily using a new power in a dangerous situation is not either of those.
>>
>>4295781
Thinking a bit more about it, I'd actually be ok with using the PoD to escape too, at least we're used to it.
But Agony will just tire us out, we might not make it very far even if we use it to run really fast.
>>
>>4295801
It's a better idea then trying to cheese it on foot without any powers in a room + hallway filled with 100+ Final Guards.
>>
>>4295803
>Armors have never moved fast in Castlevania, and bringing in hundreds of suits will only make it more difficult for them to maneuver around each other.
This is a quest, stop using the game mechanics as if they're fact. You're assuming they're slow and easy to dodge based on that.
>>
>>4295855
I disagree. Something goes wrong with Dominus who knows what'll happen with us. At the very least just booking it on foot means we'd at worst be horribly maimed or crippled. And no, death is never a worst case scenario. Because the dead have no worries.
>>
>>4295479
>Use the Power of Destruction to help you flee. Despite your confidence in your skill, you aren't about to face so many enemies if you don't have to.
This is probably a lesson in discretion.
>>
>>4295869
Unless we can't make it. Again, there are hundreds of these fuckers, and they have shields. All they need to do is phalanx the door and we are fucked, then they can kill the guy who stole dominus.
On the flip side, if we use dominus and book it in a straight fucking line out the hallway, we should be able to make it out while they're still waking up and leaving their alcoves.
If they catch us holding our dick at all, we lose and die.
>>
>>4295860
Even if I disregard enemy behaviors in the games (which have been used in this quest before, primarily during the Mansion arc.) There's still the logistical problems I've mentioned.
These armors can't hit us if they're hitting the suit in front of them, and the ones at the very front can be ignored or outran, since we're going to the exit. Therefore at least 3/4ths of the Armors in the room can be avoided.
As long as we stay away from them or pay enough attention with our observation, then we'll be completely fine.
Using Dominus however is just asking for Arthur to need to make a will save or he might just collapse altogether, as Agony doesn't have a cheap HP cost.
>>
Calling the vote here.
Hopefully I'll be able to get one more update out today.
>>
>>4295883
If there is room for hundreds of them we aren't going to make it to the door before them. Especially not if they are smart enough to block the door. They don't even need to stand in front of it, just move their swords in the way of if. Which wouldn't take very long at all. Probably about a half a second or a second at most.

If your concern is speed the PoD should be your go to, since it can teleport. Even if it isn't all the way. Why you think a completely untested ability would be the best option is baffling to me.
>>
Obviously you're not going to be able to take on this many enemies at once. Especially ones of that size, those swords those ghostly suits of armor are carrying look fit to bisect a man with ease. Razor sharp despite the decades of inaction. You'll need to escape, but how? Obviously, you could simply use the Power of Destruction and carve a path through the guardians before they can properly attack you. They are thankfully only moving towards you in a slow march right now, yet there's no telling if they could actually go any faster.

Though there is one more way for you to escape from these armored giants. Dominus. Of course, you've only just gained the power for yourself, but it feels as if you just know that it will allow you to escape. Even if those suits of armor you saw in the corridor have animated in a similar fashion to the ones here in the circular chamber.

You smirk at the encroaching threat as you allow yourself to take in the power of the glyph engraved on your back. Purple wisps of magical energy begin to float around you as you feel the energy of Dominus Agony begin to flow through your body. Time seems to slow around you as your body adjusts to the influx of sheer power it is now utilizing. The slow moving suits of armor are now moving at a crawl.

You decide to test the limits of this power you now have access to, and leap towards the doors. Almost immediately as you leap, you can feel the ground you were on crumble away, the wind burst acting like an explosion as you jump away from the middle of the room, almost slamming into the brick wall of the chamber above the doors. You only avoid smashing your face into the cold hard stone by putting your hands out to catch yourself.

Unexpectedly, your hands sink into the stone all the way up to the elbow, almost as if it were some form of dough or putty instead of cold hard stone. There's almost no resistance from the stone wall as you pull your hands free from the now pulverized parts of the wall either. This power... it's incredible. Is this what it's like to be supernaturally powerful like Sophia, or Coller? In this moment you feel absolutely invulnerable. Of course, the Power of Destruction is useful, but this is different. The power you feel pumping through your body is truly exhilarating.

You drop down from the wall and allow yourself to look back momentarily. The burst of wind from your leap actually managed to tear the middle of the room to shreds. The stone plinth that Dominus was positioned upon has been reduced to a pile of rubble. You can already feel the power beginning to wear you out, even after using it for only a few seconds of time. Quickly you decide to speed out of the room before the guardian suits of armor can even think to stop you.
>>
You keep sprinting, marveling at your bodies current speed as you do. The corridor is still lit in that ghostly shade of blue, but now the statues are very much alive like their counterparts in the chamber you just left. No matter. You don't intend to allow these slow moving goliaths to catch you any less than you allowed the others to. It is interesting though. Instead of slowly marching out of their positions like the ones in the chambers, these ones seem to be both faster and smarter. Even with your massively enhanced speed, some of them manage to leap out of their alcoves to block your path.

But of course, even that much is simple for you to avoid right now. Deftly dodging past their feeble attempts to obstruct you are easily avoided. You can feel the strain of keeping Dominus active now though, and your muscles begin aching all over you body. It's been just under twenty seconds since the awakening of the guard and you can see the exit, back out to the stairwell.

Of course, things aren't that simple. In front of the exit stand 6 of the suits of armor. Blocking the entire corridor entirely with their tremendous bulk. Their shields are raised and their swords are all pointed out towards you. You skid to a stop just in time to avoid impaling yourself on the weapons of your enemy. Twenty five seconds, you're still keeping a mental note of just how long you're using Dominus Agony for. You know that you can't keep it up for much longer. It's either you do something drastic, or you may very well collapse in front of these suits of armor. Leaving yourself an easy target for their blades.

But what to do? Attack them directly? No. There is no telling if a direct assault would even be effective on these enemies, animated by an unknown force as they are. There's no guarantee that even if you took their head off they would actually be stopped. Regardless, despite the world almost appearing to be moving in slow motion to you right now, these suits in particular don't seem to be as limited by their size and bulkiness as the rest, actually managing to maintain a sense of rapidity even taking into account your enhanced reflexes and speed from Dominus Agony. Then what about the Power of Destruction? Of course, it could easily allow you to carve a path directly through your enemies, but you aren't sure if your body could cope with the strain of both the Power of Destruction and Dominus at the same time.

Another second has passed and Dominus Agony is starting to feel as if it is burning your back. That leaves just one thing you can do then. It's a risk, but with any luck, it will allow you to slip past the final guard blocking you from leaving the corridor.
>>
You raise your fist and slam it into the ground with as much force as you can muster, enhanced by Dominus as you are, the impact is massive. The first thing you notice are the cracks in the ground forming from around your punch, followed up by a truly momentous explosion of wind that is generated just a few moments after your punch lands. The wind explodes outwards, almost like a barrier of pure force. Smashing into the walls of the corridor and causing more cracks to form. Crucially though, it has done what you intended for it to do in the first place. The sudden explosion of wind having knocked the last remaining guardians out of their phalanx formation and creating a large enough gap for you to leap through.

As you make one last leap through the disorganized rabble of giant armored soldiers, there's another explosion of wind generated, and this time the tunnel can't take it any longer. You manage to escape the tunnel just in time for an incredible cave-in to collapse the entire tunnel that had once lead to Dominus. The last you see of your golden adversaries as you lay on the floor of the stairwell is quickly hidden away as a sheet of rock collapses directly on top of them all. Obscuring them from sight and hopefully crushing them utterly.

It's at that point where the pain of Dominus has managed to finally become to much for you to bear keeping it active any longer. You finally stop drawing upon the incredible power held within the glyph. Making a note that you were able to keep it active for just under thirty seconds. But in that thirty seconds, you felt almost undefeatable. Had you not been working against so many foes at once that defeating them all within the time Dominus was possible to be used simply wasn't feasible, you very well might have torn them to shreds yourself.

Thankfully, despite the sudden bout of laughter that occurred when you first claimed Dominus, there's no such loss of control upon either using or disabling it that you are currently aware of. Though there is one question. "Shanoa. Was it your intention for me to take Dominus? Was this just another part of your test for me?" There's nothing but a cold empty silence. "Shanoa!" You yell out for the ghost, yet again receive no response.

You instead allow yourself to slump down against one of the walls in exhaustion. It seems that using Dominus has sapped you of almost all of your strength. Even walking up the stairs to leave Ecclesia feels like it will be difficult for you right now.
>>
This is when something completely unexpected happens. The winds begin to twist and turn and a woman's body falls directly into your arms. You almost drop them out of surprise, the woman is clothed in a plain white dress, with long pale green hair. You can't see her face right now, all you can see is an extravagantly decorated hair-band made of gold. Your exhausted mind can barely even follow what's happening at this point.

>Try to wake the woman up. Just what is going on?
>Work through your exhaustion and carry yourself and the woman up to the higher floors of Ecclesia.
>Leave the woman behind. You aren't exactly about to exhaust yourself for a stranger.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4295984
>Work through your exhaustion and carry yourself and the woman up to the higher floors of Ecclesia.
>>
>>4295984
>Work through your exhaustion and carry yourself and the woman up to the higher floors of Ecclesia.
>>
Did Mistral also get juiced up by our use of the glyph??? She's the only character I can think of with green hair. And all of the use of our power mentioned wind.
>>
>>4295984
>>Work through your exhaustion and carry yourself and the woman up to the higher floors of Ecclesia.
I knew Dominus was the correct option.
>>
>>4295984
>>Work through your exhaustion and carry yourself and the woman up to the higher floors of Ecclesia.
No rest for the wicked.

>>4296073
We haven't even left the basement yet. There's still time for us to collapse and get kidnapped by demons or something.
>>
Just going to work on MGQ logic and assume that when Sylph gets drained she gets big.
>>
>>4296503
Kind of ass backwards but whatever. Don't fuck the familiar.
>>
Whoever this mysterious woman who just appeared from nowhere is, you'll get your answers from her when she wakes up of her own accord. For now, you'll need to get out of this damn chapel before Shanoa takes the opportunity to stop you. You definitely don't have the energy to fend off any of those attacks of hers right now, and using Dominus or the Power of Destruction right now just isn't feasible.

You sling the green haired woman over your shoulder as you lift yourself off the floor. Thankfully, she's incredibly light, and you don't feel much strain from actually standing up while carrying her at all, despite the exhaustion creeping through your body. The after effects of using Dominus are really quite evident now, while you thankfully don't have any actual wounds, that doesn't stop the aching of your body. It might be best to only use Dominus in the future when you have either no other choice, or if you are certain you could use it to end the fight then and there. You don't even want to think about what might happen if you attempted to combine the use of Dominus with that of the Power of Destruction.

You are slow to approach the stairs, keeping an eye on the collapsed tunnel in front of you as you do. The last thing you need right now is for those golden suits of armor to tear their way through a cave-in. You can't really imagine such beings having actually truly been destroyed from such an occurrence, either. There's just something about them that makes you think that you'd need more than a few dozen tons of rock collapsing on top of them to actually destroy them.

Your ascent up the stairs is slow, and you keep an eye out for any traps or foul play by Shanoa, yet once again there's absolutely no sign of the ghost. It's actually getting rather worrying, in it's own way. Even if in reality you are actually just receiving the silent treatment from a ghost. In all seriousness though, what were you supposed to do with Dominus? She literally led you right to it by opening the doors, so she can't really complain. What was she expecting was going to happen anyway? Maybe if she didn't want you to take it, she should have actually intervened before you... well, took it. She had more than enough time to do so.

You reach the level above, there's nothing of any note in this section of the stairway like on the floor below. Only the stairs leading upwards. No huge metal doors with arcane imagery on them or even smaller doors leading to different rooms, just a blank stone room with two sets of stairs in it. You continue your slow ascent, somewhat disappointed by the lack of any hints of the location towards the other two pieces of Dominus . Ever since receiving Agony, you've known that it's only a single third of Dominus' true power, Shanoa must have hidden the other pieces elsewhere. Though if she hid them in Ecclesia or some other place entirely it's unclear.
>>
You are forced to cease your thoughts on the location of the other two pieces of Dominus you finally reach the top of the stairs, opening the door in front of you leading directly into that large hall you first entered the building through.

You quickly take the opportunity to set the woman you've carried all the way up to this floor on one of the chairs. Though as you do, you can't help but feel as if her face is terribly familiar. In fact, she shares a lot of similarities with... "Arthur!" Her eyes shoot open and a familiar voice addresses you. "Do you have any idea what exactly you've done?!"

"Not in the slightest. However, you do appear to have gained some..." You cough. "...weight, Mistral. Any particular reason for this?" You smirk at the woman before you, it's really very difficult for you not to tease the ex-fairy. More so than before, actually.

"First off, I have not gained any weight for 6 millenia. But second, and more importantly I was about to explain what had happened, if you would have just given me a minute before deriding me for my current size. Thanks to whatever evil magic you just messed with back in that chamber, I went from having almost no magic at all, to having far too much magic for my slyph body to handle." She doesn't take your lax attitude to her sudden change very well. Though you're thankful at least that you won't have her constantly fluttering about in your face for a while, at least.

"And?" You signal her to continue with her explanation, already having an inkling as to where she's going with this.

"Because there was too much energy in my body, I was forced to revert to... this form." She looks down at herself with a frown. "Do you have any idea how much trouble this is going to land me in with the other sylphs if they find out? We've been forbidden from taking a form other than that of a sprite's for millenia now!" There's a faint trace of happiness in her voice hidden behind all the indignation she's showing you that gives you the feeling she's not quite as annoyed by this sudden change of circumstances as she's making herself out to be.

"So if you aren't a fairy anymore, what exactly are you?" You aren't entirely sure how to take this situation. Dealing with Mistral while she was still a tiny fairy was bad enough. Now she's as big as a normal person, you can only imagine her being frustratingly difficult to get to cooperate with in the future.
>>
Despite her obvious annoyance at your use of the term 'fairy' she manages to calm herself in order to properly respond. "I suppose right now, I'm the same as what you humans once worshiped as deities thousands of years ago. Of course, I was never one for being worshiped even back then, so I kept to myself and didn't reveal my existence to the humans of the time like some of the more attention seeking spirits did." So, Mistral has become some form of goddess then? This could be a major boon, actually. If you've got a genuine goddess fighting alongside you, then surely her power will be able to make a huge difference! Mistral seems to notice the look forming on your face before continuing to speak "Of course, despite that sudden tremendous burst of chaotic power that was granted to me, it's almost all gone now. I don't even have enough energy left within me to return to my previous form. Trust me, it's frustrating for me as well, to have this body back but be just as powerless as I was without it." She clenches a fist in irritation.

"So, you've transformed into some sort of wind goddess then? Albeit, one with absolutely no ability to use her powers as a goddess thanks to still lacking energy?" You summarize her own words for her. "If you like, I could try activating Dominus for a moment at some point in the future to give you enough energy to revert back to being a slyph." You may as well make her the offer.

"Exactly. Also, that wouldn't work. I'm in an awkward situation here. I don't have enough magical power to take my previous form, yet you using that strange magic to grant me the power to do so wouldn't work either, I would have too much power if you tried to do that." That is quite an awkward set of circumstances actually, it seems that until you find a way to naturally use your own magic, Mistral is stuck in this current form. "Oh! And speaking of that power you used, be a little more careful in the future, OK?"

"What do you mean by that, oh knowledgeable and powerful goddess?" You decide to take the opportunity to tease Mistral on her new form and her lack of power. It's not very often somebody has the ability to make fun of a goddess, trying to do so to Chaos would just end in disaster, you think.
>>
Her face actually flushes a shade of red for a moment before she regains her composure. "Well, that wind blessing I gave you, when you used it with that Dominus thing that you took, it was being used by somebody far more powerful than it was originally intended to be used by. In fact, it's a miracle that you didn't turn your arms and legs into twisted mangled limbs from your own use of it! You're just lucky that I only lost consciousness after directing the force away the last time you used it, otherwise you really would be missing an arm right now. Also, please don't make a big deal of my current form, I'm hardly much of a goddess right now if I'm just as powerful now as I was when I was less than a foot tall." The damage you could have taken is rather concerning. It seems that even with the massive enhancement granted to you by Dominus, your body does still have it's limits. Just another drawback you'll have to work around if you truly want to use these powers to their full extent and claim the empty throne of the Dark Lord.

Thankfully, you've managed to somewhat recover from the stress placed upon your body from using your powers now, finding walking around to be somewhat easy. The aches in your muscles seem to have almost gone entirely now. "Well, shall I keep calling you Mistral, or do you have a name more befitting of your divine majesty?"

"Mistral is fine, Arthur." Her voice is deadpan, she's clearly tired of being referred to as a goddess already.

It's probably not a good idea to tease her so much anyway, so you relent a little "As you say."

Mistral looks around the room and stretches while yawning. You hope she understands that if she falls asleep at this size, you aren't going to carry her around like you did when she was a sylph "This place feels awfully empty ever since that ghost woman disappeared. She just upped and vanished the moment you decided to touch that... glyph, was it?"

"Shanoa is gone? What do you mean?" Could taking Dominus have been the key to having the woman move on to the afterlife? What of the other two pieces of Dominus? Would she really have left them undefended? No. That woman didn't seem so careless despite allowing you to take a piece of Dominus for yourself. They must have been separated from each other on purpose. But the way she allowed you to take Dominus just makes you feel as if this was what she wanted all along. It's odd.
>>
"I don't really know what to tell you, Arthur. One moment I could feel her presence in this chapel, the next minute it was just completely gone! Now, can we go? You must've had enough of this place by now." She yawns once again as she looks at the dusty cobwebs littering the ceiling of the room. You're slightly annoyed by Mistral not mentioning her apparent ability to detect the presence of ghosts, but decide now isn't the time to scold her on that.

>"You're right. We should probably return now anyway."
>"No, I want to explore this place a little more first." (Looking for anything in particular?)
>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
>Write-in...
>>
>>4296790
>"You're right. We should probably return now anyway."
>>
>>4296790
>"You're right. We should probably return now anyway."
>>
>>4296790
>>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
Books. Secret Books.
>>
>>4296822
I'd love to do that but finding our allies immediately takes priority for me
>>
>>4296790
>>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
>>4296823
It's not like we're going anywhere tonight. Not as exhausted as Arthur is. And maybe letting her look at some glyphs can give Anna some idea of how to not be completely helpless at all times.
>>
>>4296830
We're also exhausted enough that we can't really fight any more serious enemies that might be in the chapel. Doesn't seem worth it right now when we should focus on recovering to be ready for our search tomorrow.
>>
>>4296848
Far as we know the only thing in the chapel was Shanoa. No need to go back into the basement. Not like there were doors we didn't go through. And if there was a monster hiding in the little office in the back it'd probably have dramatic timing and burst out right about now anyway.
>>
>>4296790
>"You're right. We should probably return now anyway."
A stiff breeze can keel us over. Also assuming any magic books are here seems a bit meta.
>>
>>4296922
I mean there was a book on the shelf that was full of ice.
>>
>>4296790
>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
Arthur noticed a bunch of bookshelves in here, and Anna might be able to find something interesting from them.
Since the enchantments would have also fallen, then the demon circus will come in eventually, and probably ransack it.
Let's get to it first.
>>
I kinda feel bad that her brother's tomb is probably gonna get defiled once they get past the Final Guards.
>>
I'm kinda interested in who forbade the Sylphs from taking a larger form.
Was it God?
>>
Looks like we're tied at 3-3 to me. I'll give the vote another hour or so before calling it and rolling a dice if there's no resolution before then.
>>
>>4296790
>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
>>
Well, the tie is broken, so I'll call it here.
>>
>>4296790
>"Actually, why don't we have Anna help us look around? Now that Shanoa is gone, surely it's safe for her inside the chapel."
>>
"Actually, Mistral. Why don't we have a look around first? With Shanoa gone as you say, then the threat this place represents to people should also be gone, more importantly, I doubt that those demons are going to stay away now that she's been taken out of the picture either. So if there is anything else in here, then it's better we look for it now rather than let some demons get a hold of it, wouldn't you agree?" You aren't actually sure what sort of relationship goddesses and demons even have, now that you think about it. There are so many things about the world you simply don't understand.

Mistral pouts as she leans into her two palms. "I guess you're right, Arthur. It probably wouldn't be a good idea let those demons ransack the place without searching through it first... but I'm so tired, can't you just let me sleep here for now?" She yawns for dramatic effect, but she's probably just being lazy and trying to get out of helping.

"You can rest when we've got beds, Mistral. But right now, I do need your help searching. You've shown that you're quite observant, after all, and you could be a great help in looking for anything of interest." Perhaps flattery might work then?

"Tch. Fine. But for all these concessions I'm making for you, I expect my day where you do anything I want to be refunded in full." She gets up out of her chair and stares at you. You never really paid it much notice it before on account of her diminutive size, but Mistral is really quite beautiful as she is now, and her pleading eyes make it difficult to refuse her request. Even if you feel like you're being cheated, it's not like Mistral hasn't been responsible for either saving your life directly or indirectly multiple times. You'll let this slip, you think.

"Very well, Mistral. I understand that all the... excitement of today has really spoiled it to some degree. So I'll permit your refund." Honestly, you don't really care too much at this point. Mistral has shown herself to be fairly reasonable even when she was granted such power over you.

"Really? Great!" She almost jumps out of her chair as you give her request the affirmative, looks like she wasn't as tired as she was making herself out to be. "L-let's just start looking around, shall we?" She awkwardly tries to cover up her slip-up and starts scanning through a bookshelf rather rapidly.

You wordlessly exit the chapel to go see whether Anna actually kept her promise to stay nearby whilst you explored the ruins of Ecclesia. Unsurprisingly, she has. Though she's managed to somehow find a blanket to wrap around herself, avoiding the worst of the chilling cold. Her arms still cradle the plant pot Alura has been placed into.

"Oh, Arthur, you're back! Did you find anything interesting in there then?" She quickly looks up at you as you exit the church, smiling at you as you exit.
>>
"A few things, actually. But right now I need you to help me search around. I've gotten rid of the ghost that was haunting the place so it should be alright to come in now."

"Ghost?" She repeats, evidently quite confused by your casual admission to the previously haunted status of the old building.

"A woman called Shanoa, I'll tell you about it later, OK? It's late right now, and I just want to investigate the last of this building and get a place to sleep from Jeste. At least before she can have her followers go through the place with a fine-tooth comb." Explanations can come later.

"Alright, I'll do what I can to help." You turn around and start walking back into the church, eliciting a gasp from Anna as you do. "Arthur! Y-your back! And your suit! What happened to you in there?" Of course, as you turn around she's got a perfect view of the glyph burned upon your back. Especially seeing as your suit has yet to start repairing itself, it's a miracle that the burning from being branded with Dominus didn't burn through the entire suit, now that you think about it. Could it repair itself if it was split into two separate pieces?

"It's something I took from the chapel. I'll tell you about it later. It's not vitally important right now." While you have every intention to tell Anna about Dominus, you don't really want to reveal it where any of these demons might overhear you speak of it.

"Alright, if you say so... wasn't expecting a ruined church to double as a tattoo parlor though..." She mutters under her breath as she follows after you into Ecclesia. She stops almost immediately as she notices the presence of the third person in the room. "Arthur, mind explaining just who this is?"

Your eyes rest upon Mistral for a few moments before you grin. "That's Mistral, she became a real girl." Technically not inaccurate, but still something of a teasing comment. If Mistral wants the truth about her current form known, she can reveal it to everyone herself.

"That's no way to talk about a Goddess..." Mistral grumbles under her breath, but Anna doesn't seem to catch it. She does speak a little louder as she continues talking. "I've got this floor covered, so if you two want to search somewhere else, that would likely be a more effective use of our time. Honestly." True to her word, Mistral does actually appear to be looking through the bookshelves of the room, occasionally putting one or two of the books to the side as she does.

"While I'd love to find out just why your fairy familiar is no longer a fairy, I agree with her. We'd best to divide our searching skills. I don't feel that sense of incomprehensible fear anymore, after all." It seems as if at least some of the defenses keeping people away from Ecclesia have been deactivated then. If that fear Anna felt has now gone. "So, which rooms are you going to take so we don't end up searching the same areas twice?"
>>
"I'm honestly not certain whether you should walk around this place by yourself, I don't know just what is still in this place. After all, I did trap an army of golden soldiers about 40 feet beneath us earlier." Still, with the danger that's presented itself to you within this chapel thus far, you are a little anxious about just letting her wander about by herself. You've dealt with enough peril for today, and Anna is the most helpless of all your allies, should things come to combat.

>Insist Anna explore the rest of Ecclesia with you.
>Take Anna's hand and lead her up the stairs. Don't give her an opportunity to argue back.
>Allow Anna to explore on her own. She can take care of herself.
>Allow Anna to explore by herself, but give her a weapon to defend herself with first. (What weapon?)
>Write-in...
>>
>>4297514
>>Insist Anna explore the rest of Ecclesia with you.
We both see things the other won't. Her with her historical and technical knowledge and us with our surprisingly canny senses and intuition. Besides, it's not like she can carry much hauling a planter around.
>>
>>4297514
>Take Anna's hand and lead her up the stairs. Don't give her an opportunity to argue back.
Time for a blushing moment.
>>
>>4297514
>Insist Anna explore the rest of Ecclesia with you.
Can we check on Alura to make sure she isn't combusting?
The holy wards may take some time to fade.
>>
>>4297514
>Take Anna's hand and lead her up the stairs. Don't give her an opportunity to argue back.
HAND
HOLDING
also do this >>4297975 and check on Alura's status
>>
>>4297514
>>Take Anna's hand and lead her up the stairs. Don't give her an opportunity to argue back.
>>Write-in...
Give her the magic revolver though.
>>
"Anna, before anything else, can you just make sure that Alura is ok? Just that she isn't spontaneously combusting. I'm just a little concerned about the defenses on this place still being active. I wouldn't want Alura to suffer for them still being active." You suddenly realize that Alura might be at risk. Hopefully it's not too late to get her out if she is.

"Of course." Anna removes the blanket wrapped around her and quickly sets Alura down one of the nearby tables, using the blanket as some sort of impromptu table sheet. You peer inside the plant pot, hoping to see some sort of confirmation that the plant girl isn't in danger from Ecclesia. While there's certainly no way to tell this is Alura from the growth right now, there is a single tiny green sprout with a minuscule red bulb within the center of the pot. Luckily, it doesn't seem to have been affected by the consecration of the church either. "She's fine, by the looks of things at least. I don't even know if the defenses of this place are still active anyway. But they shouldn't have affected Alura regardless, she's not exactly unholy, you know?" Ah of course, that makes sense. It had sort of slipped your mind, but it's not like Alura should be especially weak to stuff like this. Holly and Sophia may have had their entrance prohibited on account of being vampires, but Alura despite her blood-drinking nature and incredible ability to survive obviously fatal wounds, is a living being.

"Right, well. That's a relief then. I suppose it might be prudent for us to leave Alura here while we search though. Mistral! If something happens, please remember to get Alura to safety, is that alright?" The newly changed goddess looks over to you and then to the pot before giving a silent nod. Without another word, you take hold of Anna's hand. "But I'd really think it would be better if we looked through the upper floors together. It could still be dangerous up there, and I don't want you getting hurt." You can't really tell very well due to the dim light in the room, but Anna's cheeks seem to turn a shade of red as you take her hand. You begin walking towards an additional set of double doors within the church with Anna following along, providing minimal resistance to your sudden decision.

"A-ah... alright then, Arthur. Just lead the way." She gives you a smile and walks slightly faster so as to walk side by side with you. You were expecting her to resist the sudden order to stay with you a little more in order to explore herself, but you aren't going to complain if she's going to be this cooperative with your orders.
>>
You push open the set of doors and find yourself face the face with a large set of stairs that twist upwards. You lead Anna up the stairs and open the first door you see. The room you enter is annoyingly bare however, nothing but a decayed bed frame and some broken pieces of furniture. Nothing of any value in here, though this place might've been extravagant a century ago, all that time has really ruined the look of the place. Shanoa obviously wasn't all too concerned about maintaining the beauty of the chapel.

The next few rooms you search are similarly bare up until you reach the top floors. The single room on the sixth floor is in a far better condition than the other rooms, and there's enough furniture and storage to make looking around actually. You start searching through a chest while Anna lets go of your hand to search a bookshelf nearby. She begins quickly scanning through the titles of the books while you rummage through the chest.

The contents of the chest however are quite peculiar. After pulling a few layers of blankets from the top of the chest, you spot something incredibly unusual. What seems to be a set of shining silver armor and a mask to match! Though as you pull the shining platemail from the chest, being amazed by just how light it is, you quickly come to realize that it's meant to be worn by a woman, the shape of the armor being impossible for a man to wear. It's probably worth taking anyway, but it's not like you'll get much use from it. Maybe one of your female allies will appreciate it? Though you aren't really sure if any of them will consent to wearing a full suit of armor, even if it is for their own protection. The most curious part about the armor is the decoration upon it. Runes that are totally unlike the glyphs of Ecclesia are engraved on nearly every exposed surface, while from the back are two folded metal wings.

As you're about to call out to Anna, you notice that she's looking at a book she just pulled from the shelf with a satisfied smile on her face. Before you can ask her what it is she's found, she catches that you've started looking at her and simply flips the cover of the book towards you to allow you to read it. 'Ecclesian Bestiary: A record of the servants of Dracula.' She then flips it back around to face her and starts reading through. Stopping on a random page and reading aloud. "Let's see... Goliath. The corpse of the terrible warrior of Biblical legend brought to life once more through dark rituals. The only thing more massive than he is the weight of his blasphemies." Her eyes widen a little as she seems to realize the significance of the entry.
>>
The confirmation that the story of David and Goliath is almost as bewildering as the ability to somehow resurrect the corpse of a man who ought to have been dead for over three thousand years. "You should probably keep that book safe, Anna." Who knows what relevance it might have to what you face in the future? It's definitely worth a read through though. You're tired of being so uninformed when it comes to the world around you. "Just put it in the chest with the armor I found. We'll leave the chest here when we go up to explore the final floor before we take it down to the ground floor."

Anna does as you ask and puts the book next to the armor, though she doesn't seem to pay too much attention to the armor itself, and simply goes back to looking through the bookshelves while you look underneath the room's bed in hopes of finding additional items that might aid you. "I don't think there's anything else in here of any value, Arthur. The rest of these books are all quite mundane, unfortunately. I am hopeful about that Bestiary though." She assists you in moving the storage chest out of the room and into the hallway, before taking hold of your hand once again as the two of you move up to the final floor.

The door is extravagantly decorated in swirling gold and blue, yet it's quite obviously locked, as you simply find yourself unable to push the door open. You frown in irritation at the obstinate door, and begin thinking of just how to get through it. There's a keyhole just below the handle, yet despite all your searching, there was no key in sight.

>Ignore the fatigue you're still suffering from. Use the Power of Destruction to cut a way though.
>Just try to bash the door down with physical strength alone.
>Try to shoot the lock with one of your guns.
>Jam the holy knife into the keyhole.
>Just go back downstairs to Mistral and see how her own search went.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4298106
>Just go back downstairs to Mistral and see how her own search went.
>>
>>4298106
>Just go back downstairs to Mistral and see how her own search went.
Never trust a witches door to be hex free.
>>
>>4298106
>Just go back downstairs to Mistral and see how her own search went.
Nah.
>>
>>4298106
>Just go back downstairs to Mistral and see how her own search went.
Clearly cursed or trapped. Time to head back.
>>
>>4298106
>>Ignore the fatigue you're still suffering from. Use the Power of Destruction to cut a way though.
You know, it's probably Barlowe's room, if it's this locked there's probably something good inside.
>>
>>4298106
>Jam the holy knife into the keyhole.
>>
>>4295978
>In this moment you feel absolutely invulnerable
Not euphoric?
>>
Does anyone else think we may find hints to the locations of Hatred and Anger in here?
This is probably the place we would've gone if we'd separated from Anna.
>>
>>4298106
>Ignore the fatigue you're still suffering from. Use the Power of Destruction to cut a way though.
Real hesitant about this one. I definitely think we should try to open it, but what the best way to do that is...
>>
>>4298892
I went with the knife since it's pretty strong and still has a full charge.
The description says it ignores defenses, but if PoD gets more votes to open it them I'm fine with it.
>>
You don't have the energy to break your way through this door right now, nor do you really have the energy left to get into any sort of confrontation with whatever might lie beyond it. While the rest of the rooms were thankfully free of any enemies, none of those rooms had been specifically locked either. So either Shanoa wanted to keep people out of this room or she wanted to keep something locked within it. What's more, while Dominus Agony seemed to call to you from beyond the metal doors, there is no such feeling beyond this door, so it's unlikely that the other pieces of Dominus are there, even if you already had the feeling that they weren't anyway.

Whatever lies beyond this door, the demons can have it. It's probably some sort of trap or challenge anyway. The last thing you want is to open the door to another skull spider surprise courtesy of Shanoa's ghost. "Actually, Anna. Why don't we just head back and see what Mistral found? I'm really getting too tired to keep searching like this, and I've done what Jeste asked of us now anyway. Hopefully, the demon will keep her word. I wouldn't want to have to use Dominus again." While you don't imagine that those demons are strong enough to resist your strength while you are relying on the overpowering magical enhancement, you'd rather not put that theory to the test. Though your entire knowledge base of demons is primarily from that single Demon you once helped Shirley fight. He wasn't a pleasant individual. Oh, and that maid that Sophia summoned, but honestly, you have even less information on her. You begin walking down the final flight of stairs and back to the penultimate floor of the chapel.

"Dominus? Is that related to those new markings on your back?" Anna looks upon the glyph once again, unfortunately, you can't tell what sort of expression she has on her face as she scrutinizes your new power.

You wait until the two of you are face to face between the storage chest before answering, so you can actually look at her while you speak instead of simply being some sort of object of curiosity thanks to the curious markings. "Yes. I claimed it from this chapel. It turns out that it was housing a piece of Dracula's magic, which bonded with me when I reached out to it. Dominus, it shrouds you in the magic of the Dark Lord and momentarily grants you a portion of his strength, physical and magical." Anna seems to be in deep thought as you inform her of your new ability. "Of course, I could only keep it activated for about half a minute. But in that time, I had attained a level of strength I once thought impossible for a human to reach." Anna is listening to your explanation intently, her face one of deep concentration.
>>
"This is wonderful news, Arthur! You know what this means right?" You are given a single moment to answer before Anna finishes her own question. "It means, that you are one step closer to becoming the Dark Lord! Do you think you could defeat Alucard now then?" She asks, expecting your answer to be an affirmative.

Though as you think of the level of strength you had reached with Dominus, and the power that Alucard so casually seemed to show upon revealing his true form to you all. Of course, you might have had comparable speed to him while using Dominus, but throughout the entire battle, it felt as if he wasn't even really trying. Regardless of that, he seemed to be able to freeze you in place and move as he wished, almost as if time itself was frozen. But that wouldn't make sense, if time were truly frozen, you wouldn't have even witnessed the actions he took.

In the end, there's only one answer you can give Anna. "Only if I managed to somehow hit him with the Power of Destruction when he wasn't expecting it and fatally wound him. But given that he's some form of half-vampire, I don't even know what the threshold for fatally injuring him is." That damn Alucard will pay for what he did though, you'll make sure of that.

"Was he really that strong? I couldn't really understand most of that fight, myself." You spare a moment of thought for Anna's situation. Everyone else who has chosen to follow you is superhuman to at least some degree, while Anna is not. It speaks wonders of her loyalty that she would choose to follow you into such danger, even while being at such risk herself.

"Unfortunately yes. Despite the power I've gained. I'm still much too weak." But that will change with time. You won't allow the second fight against Alucard to go like the first. Next time, he'll be the one to walk into your trap!

The conversation comes to a close at that point, with Anna looking at you with a difficult to read expression as she silently helps you to bring the fairly heavy storage chest down the stairs. While you could probably do this by yourself with ease normally, you aren't entirely certain if you could manage it right now

Eventually, you reach the bottom of the stairs with the chest. Even with both of you moving it, it's clear that Anna isn't all too used to physical exercise like that, and she's looking fairly haggard just from that. You aren't in much of a better position yourself though, you don't know just how much longer you can last without resting.
>>
Mistral for her part has clearly finished her own search, and is sitting on a throne constructed solely of books while next to her on the table are three far more valuable looking books. "How did your search go then, you two?" She's actually looking awfully chipper, despite her previous fatigue. "I managed to find not one, but three magical tomes!" She points you towards the closed books on the table. Only two of them have names though. 'A Record of Glyphs Vol. I-IV' and 'Tome of Arms Vol. 1' As you look at the third pocket-sized one with a puzzled expression, Mistral excitedly begins to explain. "This is a Book of Spirits. It's an artifact that was created by fairies that is enchanted with a magic which allows whoever currently holds it to know the true name and species of anybody they lay their eyes upon." While the other two items that she found are useful, this tiny little book she's uncovered will be incredibly useful, you don't doubt.

"That's quite the find, Mistral!" As you pick the smaller book up and place it into your pocket, you immediately come to the realization that Mistral was completely accurate in her assessment, somehow with just a glance, information that tells you that Mistral is a wind goddess floods into your mind. Though of course, you already knew this, though it's nice that her own story has been backed up. It also confirms that her name is Mistral, but you definitely knew this already. You hope that the small little book won't be too much of a distraction. "Though... it's certainly going to take some time getting used to." Seriously, you hope it doesn't feel the need to 'remind' you of people's true name and species whenever you look at people from now on. Otherwise it's just going to get really annoying, very quickly. "Regardless of that, I'm impressed, Mistral." You don't know if you would have even noticed something like that book if you looked by yourself.

"Yes, am I not just the greatest familiar a man could ever hope to be bonded to?" It seems that Mistral is quick to accept your praise as she currently is, even asking for you to praise her, it seems. It would appear as if the goddess is starved for any form of positive reinforcement.

>Praise Mistral for a job well done, then be on your way and return to Jeste.
>Ignore Mistral's blatant begging for additional praise and leave the chapel after taking the other two books.
>Ask Mistral to explain the other two books instead of letting yourself be distracted.
>Ask Anna if she can tell you anything about the two books still on the table.
>Write-in...
>>
The Book of Spirits/Faerie Scroll is usually one of the first things you get in the games it's in, but it's actually pretty powerful when you think about it.
Especially when you are doing more than just running through a monster castle.
>>
>>4298985
>>Praise Mistral for a job well done, then be on your way and return to Jeste.
She deserves it.
>>
>>4298985
>Praise Mistral for a job well done, then be on your way and return to Jeste.
>>
>>4298985
>>Ask Anna if she can tell you anything about the two books still on the table.
Don't fish for compliments, Missy. It's a bad look for anyone.
>>
>>4298985
>Praise Mistral for a job well done, then be on your way and return to Jeste.
>>
>>4298985
>Praise Mistral for a job well done, then be on your way and return to Jeste.
>>
>>4298985
>Praise Mistral for a job well done, and ask her to explain the other two books as we return to Jeste.
>>
Well, it can't hurt to praise her for when she's actually done a good job, can it? Though you're not quite sure what additional praise she's after. As a goddess, it seems that her personality is somewhat different to that of when she was just a slyph, you don't know if the Mistral before would ever have sunk to the level of begging for positive reinforcement.

"You did a good job. Mistral, I'll make sure to buy you something especially nice for your efforts." Other than food though, it's not as if the fairy, or goddess as she has now become, has really shared many interests of hers with you. You'll just have to ask her what she likes to do before buying her a present.

"Really? I mean, Of course you will!" She seems to puff up with pride. "I am just that great, aren't I?" She does a pirouette as if to bask in the small amount of praise she has been given. What a strange woman. Were all of the gods and goddesses like this? Or is this a trait unique to Mistral that's allowing itself to show now that she has an actual human sized body. Then another question springs to mind. Just what was it that forbade the sylphs and others spirits from taking the form of deities in the first place? You can't really imagine they would have been happy with just giving up their power to be forced into tiny bodies like they were.

You don't really know what to say to her now, honestly. While you ought to get moving and report back to Jeste, you would feel bad to just interrupt Mistral when she seems so happy. Thankfully though, Anna has no such qualms about dealing with your familiar. "While we both appreciate that you helped, Mistral, Arthur is very tired, and it's gotten really quite late. I just hope that Jester is a late sleeper, otherwise we might have to stay in the church."

Despite her previous carelessness, the idea of sleeping within the chapel seems to immediately take the wind out of Mistral's sails. Seems that the idea of a goddess sleeping in a place clearly meant to worship another deity isn't something she relishes. For a moment, you wonder just what the relationship is between gods and goddesses like Mistral and God himself. Chaos herself confirmed that God exists and was truly the creator of the universe, so then obviously the creation stories of other religions are false somehow. It's probably best not to think about it too much by yourself. After all, if you have any questions about what happened thousands of years ago, you're sure that Mistral or even Chaos could answer them, should you ask either of them. That being said, you would rather not waste what precious little time you seem to be able to spend with Chaos on asking such trivial questions.
>>
"Y-you're probably right. Though the woman who was haunting this place has gone, I wouldn't feel right if I was forced to sleep in such a run down ruin of a church." So she's unhappy with sleeping in a church, but somehow the idea of sleeping near who knows how many demons is fine? That being said, it's probably a good idea to have Mistral remain hidden from now on. It's not like she's still easy to conceal as she was when she was a fairy.

You take the two remaining books lying on the table and put them in the chest. It's probably for the best that you get something to store everything you seem to be collecting at this point. You aren't about to start carrying around huge book volumes, after all. "Mistral, would you mind taking your wind form? It'll be easier dealing with those demons without your presence, no offense. I simply don't want to explain what you truly are to them. I'm not about to trust demons those completely, after all, that would just make me a fool." Despite her friendly demeanor and affable attitude, Jeste is still a demon by her own admission, and a succubus at that. Taking whatever she says at face value would be foolish, so keeping all your cards close to your chest is probably a wise choice.

"If that's what you want, I'm not going to complain." With a shrug, Mistral simply vanishes. Almost as if she was never there at all. "Though I do have some more control over my power, even restricted in power as I am." It feels as if she's speaking directly into your ear, despite not being physically present at all. "I won't need to sleep nearly as much if I remain like this most of the time, either." The wind goes silent for a moment, before it begins speaking in your other ear. Anna is just looking at you with an impatient expression on her face. Doesn't look like she can hear Mistral. "I suppose that I should be thanking you for returning me to this form, really. It's an inconvenience if I find myself unable to take the form of a Sylph again, but I must admit, I have somewhat missed this form." The voice seems to lower to a whisper, even as it's spoken directly into your ear. "It seems as if Chaos contracted me to a truly interesting person." With that, the voice fades, Mistral apparently deciding to end the conversation there. She's... really going to be more difficult to deal with now. She's definitely had something about her personality altered from changing her form like this.

"Are you done spacing out over there, Arthur?" Anna doesn't seem all too amused by from what her perspective was just you standing dead still and doing nothing. "I can't exactly carry this chest by myself, you know. I didn't really consider physical exercise to be all too important when I was researching and planning my revenge." She seems annoyed with herself for her own weakness.
>>
"Right, of course." You pick one side of the fairly large chest up, noticing the plant pot now balanced on top of it. It's a shame that you're so tired. It hurts your pride to have Anna help you do something so mundane. But it's either she helps you right now, or you try and do it by yourself and you end up passing out from the exhaustion. The use of Dominus combined with the physical torture of it bonding itself to you has basically knocked every remaining ounce of strength from your body.

As the two of you step out of the church, you soon realize that your back isn't as cold as it should be, and upon looking over your shoulder, find that while you weren't paying attention, your suit finally repaired itself. The terrible rending and burning caused by the process of Dominus burning itself onto you having been fixed to the point you never could have even told it was there in the first place. Of course, only the actual suit jacket is repaired, and your dress shirt remains burned. When Alura is grown, asking her for a new wardrobe will definitely be wise. As much as you've come to like your outfit, you've had no choice but to wear it for multiple days in a row now, even if it has somehow remained clean due to it's strange nature. Wearing the same outfit like you are isn't something you want to keep doing.

The walk back to Jeste feels quite short, though before entering the tent, Anna makes the conscious decision to hide her stolen plant pot within the chest. You hear Anna taking a breath as she follows you into the tent, she's clearly not comfortable around Jeste.

Jeste herself is standing with her back to the entrance, peering at something on her desk while apparently oblivious to your arrival. The Book of Spirits 'helpfully' tells you her name as you look at her. You also get confirmation as to her status as a succubus. The book isn't even the thing that gives her away, either. No, the fact that has given her away as a succubus is the two large wings portruding from her back and a tail casually swishing around behind her. The wings themselves look odd and asymmetrical, despite being the same shape, the details on the right and left wings don't match. One wing is black, with the basic shape of the interior pattern of the wing forming both aces and clubs. Her other wing is in a way, the opposite. Almost pure red with an interior pattern of hearts and diamonds. Of course, the tail is also quite strange. It's pure white, yet the tip of the tail splays out in a strange manner, ending up with four points, almost like the hat of a jester.
>>
"I see you've arrived back from that chapel then. You missed the show, you know. Really, I half expected that you had managed to get yourself killed after you were gone for so long." She turns around, her large wings somehow not even being a hindrance to her at all, allowing you to see her face, her eyes are still a deep red, yet on her forehead now rest two small horns, one black and one red, they aren't all too long or even sharp looking, either. "So, what exactly did you find in that building? Did you find out what was keeping demons like myself out?"

>Tell Jeste everything you found out in Ecclesia.
>Tell Jeste some information, but withhold a few truths (What would you like to keep secret?)
>Just make up a completely false story about the building.
>Ask Jeste for more information about herself before you answer her own questions.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4300022
>>Tell Jeste some information, but withhold a few truths (What would you like to keep secret?)
Dominus, Shanoa, Eccelsia, most of it. If I have my way we just tell her "Angry Ghost." and that's it.
>>
>>4300022
>>Tell Jeste some information, but withhold a few truths (What would you like to keep secret?)
Tell her it was a ghost of a powerful spellcaster guarding the tomb of someone she deeply cared about. Made us jump through hoops and shit but seemingly passed on once we completed her trials and talked about the dead guy at the bottom. Oh and there was a lot of grinding and scratching sounds from a collapsed doorway.
>>
>>4300022
Seconding >>4300025
>>
>>4300022
>Tell Jeste some information, but withhold a few truths (What would you like to keep secret?)
Give her the broad strokes (old headquarters of a holy organization set up with ward magic) but withhold the specific details, and definitely mention nothing about Dominus.
>>
>>4300022
>>4300025
Supporting
>>
>>4300022
>>4300025
This is good.
>>
"Well, I did do quite a bit of looking around in there, and I did manage to get rid of the entity keeping beings like yourself locked outside of it." You shrug casually.

"Oh, and what exactly was this entity?" She raises her eyebrow at the claim of some being keeping her out.

"Some sort of vengeful wraith of a nun, I believe, well I think she was a nun. Dedicated to protecting the place where it once worshiped it's god in. Doing so even long past her own death. It was quite a hassle, but after I went along with it's wishes for some time, it seemed to finally move on of it's own accord. That's not to say that it wasn't a pain to complete what it asked of me." Really, what the hell was Shanoa thinking when she devised that damn pillar challenge.

Jeste looks at you with an appraising eye. "Yes. I can see that you look like you've been run ragged. Well, at least there's one less fanatical spirit still devoted to their previous life left in the world, especially one so powerful that they were able to completely repel my attempts at breaking through their defense. Was there really nothing else in there?

"A few books and weapons, I suppose. But I took what I wanted as was our agreement and I don't believe I'm under any obligation to show you what I found on that front.

"Ha! Right you are, my dear Arthur." Jeste claps once. "Yes, you aren't under any obligation to show me anything, and nor do I really expect you to. Keep whatever holy artifacts you looted from that place to yourself. They would probably just give me a rash anyway. I don't even really want anything more to do with the building now that I know that it's unprotected, anyway."

"You mean you aren't going to loot it? Or burn it down?" All that and Jeste doesn't actually care to anything with the chapel? What was the point of putting yourself in all that danger then? Though you can't complain too much, it's not like delving into the ruin wasn't a tremendously profitable experience for your own growth.
>>
"While I could, what would be the point? I'm content enough with the knowledge that the one who was so adamant about protecting their chapel was tricked by somebody sent by demons to render their precious church defenseless. All that destroying the building personally would do is fulfill a basic urge I and all other demons feel to destroy things, and honestly, I like to think of myself as having risen above such petty demonic instincts. The emotions of humans are far more fun to toy with when you can extract a wide array from each of them." She gives Anna quite the menacing smile, causing the botanist girl to flinch backwards a little. "Unlike so many of my brothers and sisters, I'm not a glutton for despair, so please, don't mistake me for something like an imp or one of those brute lesser demons." She flexes her wings, almost appearing as if to boast about what can only really be called her personal taste. "Though I'm sure that lesser demons will attempt to explore it now they can feel it unprotected. But for all I know, there are some traps left that couldn't be triggered by humans such as yourself meant to deal with any demons that slipped through the defenses." She waves her hand as if to dismiss the notion of exploring the ruin herself. "Pass. Let someone else do it if they want to so much."

"Right. So, this building was never anything more than a curiosity to you?" As odd as it might sound, Jeste sounds completely genuine in her apparent loss of interest.

"Well, of course. After all, there was another reason about that place that caused me to be interested in it anyway, and that no longer applies." Her smile disappears as she looks you dead in the eyes.

"Oh? What's that, Jeste?" Your reply is cautious. You don't like the look she's giving you at all.

"The dark power I could feel hidden within it, of course! Whatever they were protecting in there, it was so intense that even through all those holy wards and defenses, I could still feel it. That was really one of the reasons I wanted you to go and look at the church so much in the first place, actually. I could feel almost the same power from you, and now I can't feel anything from that ruin, yet you seem to be radiating even more of that dark power." You really don't like the look she's giving you.

You clench your fist, trying to ready yourself to react in case things got violent "So, you could tell the truth about me from the start?" You decide to drop the innocent act. It's clear that it's not going to do you much good here.
>>
"Of course I could, do you think I would've allowed the two of you to live if I thought that you were simply just regular trespassers. Now, the real question is just what are you? A dark priest? A powerful wizard dabbling in the dark arts? Perhaps even a vampire, like that Hildebrandt girl you seek? Oh! Or maybe the blood of demons flow through your veins? We might be distant cousions!" Jeste comes up with multiple theories, all of which are wrong. "Your traveling companion however is far less interesting though, I must say." She regards Anna with a bored look. "With those seals restricting you, are you sure it's wise to take this path, human?" Anna goes pale, unwilling to answer the demon. But... seals? Could Anna herself have had her magic sealed away? While it makes sense given what she's told you in the past, you can't spare the time to think of her situation right now. You wished you could give that thought some more time, but you're both still in quite the perilous situation.

"Aren't you unhappy with me concealing the truth about myself from you?" It's odd to basically be caught out on lying to somebodies face and have the lie be apparently happily accepted, despite Jeste knowing you were giving her at most a partially false story.

"About you lying? Why would I be? It just shows that you're not a fool who would reveal his secrets to a pretty face alone. I do find that men who resist my temptations are far more... attractive though." She smiles and winks at you. "I will however ask you to properly introduce yourself, so that I may do the same. I'd rather we not start our relationship off without truly knowing each other, it would only lead to difficulty down the line should we end up working together for an extended period. If you do a good job at impressing me, I'll even pledge myself to aiding you for say... 50 years?" Your eyes widen at the huge length of time she brings up, and the smugness she emanates is almost tangible. "Oh don't be so surprised, that's a drop in the ocean to somebody like me. I've been around almost as long as you humans have, you know?" Your eyes widen even further at this revelation, this could mean she's anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of years old!

Though you don't allow yourself to get too taken by the sheer age of the woman before you, she might claim to have been around for that long, but compared to Chaos, who was born at the dawn of reality itself, you are hardly impressed "And if I refuse to introduce myself?" You still aren't really certain if you should trust this deceptive demon, regardless of the offer of cooperation.
>>
Jeste shrugs "Then I won't bring the matter up again." You look at her with some confusion. "What? Did you think I was going to spew some dramatic line about how I'd force it out of you? I've seen more than enough human broadcasts to know that never works anyway, all the times I've seen other people try that, they just end up getting killed by whoever the hero of the broadcast is! Besides, I don't enjoy things like torture with a purpose, especially in a relationship I hope will be a pleasant one." For a moment, you're confused about what she just said. You can only assume that Jeste has been exposed to the world of Cinema and Television yet somehow didn't catch on to the fact that they were fictional, somehow. Though when you think about it, in a a supernatural world like this one, it's really not impossible to somehow be misled into thinking that movies are truthful accounts of events, especially when the truth of the world is far less realistic than that of most movies. You decide that it's probably not worth correcting her on this.

Still, Jeste is waiting for a proper introduction, and you can't put it off any longer.

>Refuse to introduce yourself once again.
>"Very well, I am Arthur Bernhard... (Select all that you would like to say in your introduction.)
>>..."Wielder of the Power of Destruction."
>>..."Bearer of the Dark Glyph 'Dominus'."
>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>..."Champion of Chaos itself."
>>..."Enemy to the Dorin Organization."
>>..."Future ruler of the World."
>Write-in...
>>
>>4300982
>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>
>>4300982
>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>
>>4300982
>>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>
>>4300982
>"Very well, I am Arthur Bernhard: Dark Lord Candidate and wielder of the Power of Destruction."
I don't like *just* saying Dark Lord Candidate without being a little more specific. Any overly ambitious mage could proclaim his candidacy for the position, after all; it's important that we have a real link to the last holder of the title.
>>
>>4300982
>"Very well, I am Arthur Bernhard... (Select all that you would like to say in your introduction.)
>>..."Wielder of the Power of Destruction."
>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>..."Herald of Chaos itself."
>>
>>4301020
Why would you tell some rando demon you've just met something that Arthur has been making a point of keeping secret from everyone?

>>4300982
>>..."Wielder of the Power of Destruction."
>>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
>>
>>4300982
>..."Dark Lord Candidate."
Keep it simple, keep it direct.
>>
>>4301508
Alright that's fair enough. I'll change to your vote.
>>
>>4300982
I'll change here >>4301008 to support these and break the tie. As long as we don't tell her about Chaos.
>>4301018
>>4301508
>>
If Jeste is giving you an opportunity to properly introduce yourself after purposely shrouding the truth of your identity from her, then it's an opportunity worth taking. Besides, what sort of demon wouldn't be ecstatic about the prospect of working directly under the future Dark Lord? While you freely admit you don't know anything about demon society and culture, working for the greatest opposition to God himself has to be some sort of badge of prestige, surely?

"Very well. I am Arthur Bernhard, and in truth, I am a Dark Lord Candidate and the wielder of a power inherited from Dracula himself, the Power of Destruction. It's my intention to follow through on my candidacy and claim the throne of the Dark Lord for myself." No need to bring up Dominus to her just yet though. Maybe if she proves her loyalty at some point if she decides to join you, but you can't just go revealing every aspect of your identity to whatever pretty face asks.

"Ah!" Jeste begins to clap for a moment before stopping. "You seek to take control of the forces of darkness? My my my. You are quite an ambitious one, aren't you, Arthur? This Power of Destruction then, what exactly is it capable of?"

"The Power of Destruction allows me to conjure an energy that can instantly destroy any matter it comes into contact with. It's quite difficult to control, but I've been getting more skilled with it every time I use it."

"Interesting... Interesting. So, what exactly was it that led you, a Dark Lord Candidate, to me? Or rather to this area? I doubt you were truly after the contents of that church, or you'd have to be the best liar I've ever seen."

"It was chance. I was split up from the majority of my companions due to a teleportation spell gone awry whilst we were forced to escape from a dangerous situation and landed here."

"I see, and do you have any idea where these companions of yours are right now?" She raises her hand to her face in some sort of faux gesture of deep thought.

You shrug at Jeste's question, even if it isn't really a genuine one. "Right now, I haven't got a clue. I know that it's likely one of them will probably return to their home if they find themselves unable to find me, but I don't really know where that is. Personally, I'm hoping they're in the vicinity so we can all rendezvous sooner rather than later"

The succubus in front of you smirks at you "Don't you find it a little odd?" Her tail flicks around rapidly, almost in... excitement?

"What are you getting at here, Jeste?" She's clearly reveling in her own knowledge of your situation, much to your irritation.

"Well, admittedly, my knowledge of teleportation is less than complete, but whenever I've seen it utilized, nobody involved in a spell should find themselves more than a few meters away from the caster. Even if the spell were to fail and the location be randomly selected, this should still apply."
>>
"So you're saying that I was teleported here on purpose? That doesn't make sense! Why would Sophia do that?" What would the purpose be in separating herself and the rest of your allies from you? Though you try to think on the bright side at least. If Jeste is right, then that means the rest of your allies are all together, wherever they are. Of course, the way Mistral explained things, you had thought differently of the matter. Perhaps you ought to ask Mistral about her own knowledge of teleportation when you get the chance.

"Who knows? Of course, it could be that I'm wrong, and that you were teleported here through some strange teleportation spell with a different mechanism behind it. Though it is convenient, isn't it?" She turns her back to you for a moment in order to sit at her desk.

Convenient? You don't see anything about this situation that you could possibly call convenient. Unless Jeste starts speaking some sense, you're going to lose your temper with this obnoxiously smug demon very faster

Jeste smiles once again, it's a strange smile. Not malicious, but not caring either. A smile that could only be called self-indulgent "I would almost go so far as to say that you were separated from your allies on purpose to be sent here. Whether it be by this Sophia who cast the spell or some other entity benevolent towards you, I can't exactly say. After all, you can't really think it was a coincidence that of all places for you, a Dark Lord Candidate to end up, you'd end up at a place where you could claim another of Dracula's powers for your own?" Your eyes widen as she reveals her knowledge on the truth of Dominus somehow. "Oh please, it was an easy connection to make. If that power I felt on you once belonged to the Dark Lord, then obviously the similar power within the Chapel would be of the same variety, no?" You grit your teeth. Clearly, it's going to be fairly difficult to hide anything from this woman.

There's no sense in getting angry or outraged though. Jeste has offered her services to help your cause already, if you impressed her enough. Regardless of that, with they way you feel right now, you're just as likely to over-extend on a punch and fall flat on your face than you are to actually hit her. For now, you'll just have to rely on your charisma to see you through. "I suppose there's no sense in hiding it then, yes, there was another power that once belonged to Dracula within that ruin. Now it belongs to me." You can't help but smirk as you recall claiming Dominus for your own.
>>
"Very well, I think I've got enough knowledge to know what I need to know about you now." Jeste takes a piece of paper out of one of the drawers of the desk, plucks a quill pen from an inkpot, and begins writing at a truly superhuman pace. In less than 30 seconds, the entire piece of paper has been filled with words. "...and done." She places the piece of paper on the table and turns it towards you "That's a written contract stating I'll help you achieve your goals for no more than fifty years. Try not to lose it." You look down at the piece of paper and find it written in something that clearly isn't any form of earthly language. So you can really only take her word for it. At least she isn't asking you to sign anything.

You are having tremendous difficulty figuring this woman out though. "But... why exactly are you so prepared to help me? You hardly know me!" None of this makes any sense!

"Entertainment purposes, mostly. There's only so much enjoyment I can wring out of normal mortals, and with a Dark Lord possibly returning, I'm sure that it won't be boring. I need a break from running this circus, after all. I do enjoy it, but I wouldn't want to focus on this little hobby of mine alone. Anyway, there's no way that my superiors can say I'm shirking my duties now!"

"Your duties?" What sort of duties could a demon be expected to actually follow? Of course, it might be different for her now, as she basically contracted herself to you, but what exactly would be expected of her from her superiors in hell?

"The demons that I command aren't actually supposed to be running a circus, as you might've been able to infer from our appearance. The truth is, I, unlike the majority of my Succubi sisters, am not primarily driven by the sin of lust. No, I was created thanks to the sin of greed. The temptation of gambling is a lure that ensnares so many, as I'm sure you're aware." She looks away from you. "As for what I'm supposed to be doing, do you know how boring it gets to just constantly roam from gambling den to gambling den in order to trick humans driven to madness by their love of gambling to make deals for greater luck?" Greater luck huh? You wonder if this has something to do with your own ability to effectively always win at games of chance. "Of course, after they start winning big and getting more and more confident, we snatch that luck away from them. You'd be surprised how many of them just up and kill themselves after gaining so much and then losing everything." Jeste smirks evilly. "But it's so boring! It's just the same routine over and over again! At least with this circus, I can switch things up a little when I want to!"
>>
"So, you got bored of your official duties, and now you're bored of your hobby too?" Once again, the demonic woman proves just how difficult she is to actually comprehend. Her thought process isn't really what a normal human would consider all too sane. Then again, at some point along your journey, you're certain that normal human sensibilities leaped out of the window. Probably about the same time you chose to help Alura despite her killings, when you think about it.

She shakes her head. "I'm not bored of the circus at all, really. But I fear that a break might be for the best. I wouldn't want to burn myself out of doing something I actually enjoy." That makes some sense, in a strange sort of way. But 50 years? That's still quite a long time, will her circus even be around for her return? "That's not to say I won't check in with the circus every year or so. While I trust the girls to run things in my absence, I don't just want to leave them all in the dark." Fair enough, you suppose. You aren't really even sure how much you want Jeste to accompany you, when you actually think about it. Though it's not like you can refuse her right now, especially given the fact that the fighting power of you and your current followers is just you, a girl, and a plant pot.

Before you properly accept Jeste's request or contract or whatever it is she's given you, to join you in your quest in order to help you become the Dark Lord, a woman bursts into the tent looking heavily roughed up. There's a pretty bad looking burn mark on her arm too. You recognise the woman from earlier, it's the one who had a heart theme to her outfit. She looks at Jeste with panic in her eyes. "Mistress Jester! W-we're under attack! The main tent is burning and we can't even get close to the man doing it!" She's clearly ashamed of her failure

The merriment of Jeste's previous behavior completely disappears as she snatches the piece of paper she offered to you off the table. "I must apologize, but it seems that before I can allow you to take this contract, I'll need to teach a piece of trash it's place." She turns to her demon underling. "Hearts, just how many people are we up against here? Is it the Church?" Her voice is cold and calculating

The other woman just shakes her head. "I don't think he's from the Church, he's... He's targeting just as many humans as he is demons. In fact, he's... he's even laughing as he does it!" Well, he might be from the Dorin Organization, but that possibility is lowered pretty heavily by his laughter. Alucard actually seemed to go out of his way to avoid human casualties, after all.
>>
Jeste leads the other demon out of the tent. As she leaves, she turns back to face you "You two stay here, I'm going to go and deal with our attacker. I won't be long." With that, she disappears from sight.

>Do as she says and stay in the tent.
>Follow her and offer to help.
>Leave the tent and look for the culprit by yourself.
>Try drinking one of your potions before leaving the tent, with any luck one of them might just cure you of this fatigue. (Which potion?)
>Write-in...
>>
>>4302143
>>Do as she says and stay in the tent.
Sure. Try not to die. Boi if that's you Dario you're lucky we're le tired.
>>
>>4302143
>Do as she says and stay in the tent.
Normally I'd want to interfere, but we're pretty tapped out.

>>4302146
Dawn of Sorrow was set in 2035, no? This is 16 years before then, and I don't think he was middle aged. I wouldn't bet on Dario being a factor in this story.
>>
>>4302147
Dario was almost 40 in Dawn of Sorrow. All of the DLCs were born on the day of the solar eclipse in 1999 except Soma.
>>
>>4302150
Huh. I guess the guy had a real young face, then. I had him pegged as mid-20s, from his portrait.
In that case, this probably is Dario. Shame we're missing the chance to kill him and win some points with Chaos.
>>
>>4302153
I blame it on the anime aesthetic art style.
>>
>>4302143
>Do as she says and stay in the tent.
>>
We completely drank the blue potion right?
It's still on the character sheet though.
>>
>>4302208
I thought I edited that already. I guess I forgot to save it. My bad.
Fixed now.

>>4302153
Dario is the kind of 37 year old to spike his hair up with gel and wear a flame patterned coat.
Like some sort of superpowered Guy Fieri.
But yes, all of the standard Dark Lord Candidates were born on the day of the eclipse. Special cases do exist though, like Soma or Alucard.

>>4302161
This certainly doesn't help matters either
Julius doesn't much look like he's 56 years old in Dawn due to that.
>>
>>4302143
>Do as she says and stay in the tent.
Try to relax?
>>
>>4302143
>Follow her and offer to help.
No guts no glory.
>>
>>4302143
>Follow her and offer to help.
>>
There's no sense in getting yourself involved in a fight where you'll just be a liability, is there? Whoever is the culprit behind this attack, you'll just stay here. You're in no shape to fight right now anyway, and if they are strong enough to give a circus full of demons some trouble, you'd only really want to be in peak condition before taking them on.

Instead of racing towards the tend door, you instead sit down on the floor, leaning against the chest as you do. Anna quickly walks over to you and joins you, sitting awfully close in order to share the space. "Never a boring moment with you, is there, Arthur? You just seem to attract conflict to yourself at an alarming rate. First there was the mansion, then the cruise ship, Alucard, that chapel, and now just when I think we're about to get a peaceful nights sleep, we find ourselves under attack by some sort of arsonist."

"What can I say, honestly? I was living a completely normal life at the start of this month, completely unaware of all that was going on behind the scenes until a giant patchwork man of flesh killed my neighbor and broke my door down. Then it turns out that my oldest friend was secretly some sort of vampire hunter herself and had been assigned to protect me from such threats because of what I am." You pause for a moment as you think back on Shirley's actions. "Though protect is a bit of a generous term, in hindsight, Shirley was probably ordered to keep me in the dark as to what I truly was more than she was to protect me." Shirley's actions don't really make that much sense in hindsight. If those were her orders, then wouldn't it have been more sensible if she just resolved everything by herself and didn't reveal any of the truth to you? Just how much did she know anyway?

"Shirley... that was the girl who was with you when we first met, wasn't it?" Anna's voice has a hint of irritation in it as you bring up the vampire hunter girl. It hasn't even been that long since you last saw her, but after all that's happened to you in the past week, it feels far longer. Despite this though, your thoughts still aren't settled on just what you ought to do about her. Could she have been misled by the Dorin Organization too? Just another pawn in their schemes?

Of course Anna would remember meeting her, it's not like anything about her situation back then was easy to forget. Being tied up with vines and stuffed into a storage locker like she was some sort of bullied high-schooler by Alura. "Yes, that's right. I can only imagine that she was working against my interests from the very start." Well, it's not like you enjoy dealing with the constant threats to your life now, but you've already made a decision to grasp destiny with your own hands and forge your own fate. Becoming the Dark Lord is simply a step on that path. Thanks to Chaos, you've already defied the control of destiny once.
>>
"You know, if you meet her again, why don't you try convincing her to work against her employers?" Anna's suggestion is completely unexpected, yet she continues before you can say anything in response. "It's obvious that she valued you as a person at least as much as she valued her commitment to the Church. The Dorin Organization I know of wouldn't have let somebody who they were trying to keep in the dark come along on a dangerous supernatural mission, so it's pretty clear to me that she was going against her own orders. Honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if her actual orders involved kidnapping you and then... excising any memories about the supernatural from your mind, if it was required." Anna's explanation does make you think of Shirley in a more positive light at least. Maybe she did actually care about you after all?

It's certainly something to think about, and Anna is really the expert on the Dorin Organization here, so it's a possibility that Shirley really was working against her own orders for your sake. "Maybe you're right about her, Anna. But I don't really think that there's going to be a chance for a peaceful resolution when or if I meet her again. She didn't seem to be all too pleased by Alura... well, existing at all. I can only imagine how bad her reaction to genuine vampires like Holly or Sophia would be." She did level the entire mansion out of rage, apparently

Anna remains silent for a moment. "I suppose, but imagine how much power that this would give you over the Dorin Organization, to have a spy within their ranks! You would be able to beat them at every turn simply by knowing what they were plotting to do!" Even if Shirley actually betraying her own Organization is unlikely, you can't exactly say there's not an appeal in the idea of having her effectively tear her own organization to shreds from within.

Just as you're about to respond to Anna's suggestion to use Shirley as a spy should she truly remain loyal, a huge explosion goes off in the distance, the shockwave great enough to be felt even despite how distant you must be to the actual detonation. Clearly, whoever is attacking is a little more prepared for a fight than your typical arsonist.

Despite the explosion though, you don't feel any additional need to get up and investigate yourself any more than you already do. Anna is clearly cowed by the explosion though, and doesn't really look to be in the mood for any more conversation. She's clutching your hand now, and you retaliate by gently taking hold of her own in return. Hopefully that ought to calm her a little. It must be awful, to be as powerless as Anna is against such dangerous adversaries
>>
Eventually, and rather fortunately, Jeste returns to the tent. Looking a fair bit more singed than she did before leaving, and in a noticeably worse mood. "Sorry about the momentary distraction, but I managed to fend off the attacker. No idea what exactly it was that he was after, though." She tries to hide her irritation behind a smile, with... mixed results.

>Ask Jeste if you can have the contract now.
>Ask Jeste about the attacker (anything in particular?)
>Ask Jeste if she knows why she might've been attacked.
>Just ask Jeste if you can have a place to sleep for tonight. You can finish up speaking with her tomorrow.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4302550
>Ask Jeste about the attacker (anything in particular?)
What were his methods, what condition did he escape in, etc. Get all the information we can.
>>
>>4302550
>>4302564
This, and:
>Ask Jeste if she knows why she might've been attacked.
>>
>>4302550
>>Ask Jeste if she knows why she might've been attacked.
>>Ask Jeste about the attacker (anything in particular?)
Ask why she had trouble and about the appearance and powers of the attacker so we're aware in the future.
Also, ask her if he could have been a rival lured by the Dracula Waves coming from the church.
>>
>>4302550
backing >>4302577 and >>4302564
>>
>Ask About the attacker's methods and condition and try to get as much info as possible
>>4302564
>>4302572
>>4302657
>Ask Jeste if she knows why she might've been attacked
>>4302572
>>4302577
>>4302657
>Ask Jeste why she had trouble, about the attacker's powers and appearance and also ask her if they could've been lured here by the church
>>4302577
>>4302657

So do you just want to ask her all of this then?
>>
>>4302870
I'm fine with that.
>>
>>4302870
Yes please do so
>>
"Then they won't be returning? You're certain of this?" Judging from the apparent difficulty of her fight against this interloper, you don't know whether or not you can trust her words. She doesn't look like she's actually been hurt by her burns though, and instead looks

"Oh I'll be fine. That human's fire wasn't hot enough to burn a demon like myself anyway, eventually, after realizing that he wasn't strong enough, he just ran away."

"And you just... let him escape?" That doesn't make sense. If he couldn't actually hurt her, how could she have allowed him to escape?

"Well, it's not like I had a choice in the matter. While he couldn't hurt me all too much with the heat of his flames, he was still almost impossible to actually hurt and he knew it too. Then there was how he just left when he apparently got bored of the fight. He simply disappeared!" She's clearly annoyed by her battle with this mysterious attacker. You can tell she much would've preferred to have killed him for daring to attack.

But still, impossible to hurt? While you aren't "How so, Jeste? How come you were unable to harm this human?" Could the attacker have been some sort of flame wielding vampire? No, you're certain that Jeste wouldn't have mistaken a vampire for a human.

She runs one of her hands through her platinum hair, still slightly singed from flame before sighing "I cut off one of his arms, and all that happened is both he and the detached arm burst into naught but flame before he reformed, every injury on his body having been restored." She grows quite. "And, if I'm to be honest, as the fight continued, his flames were getting hotter and hotter. I suppose I'm quite lucky that he decided to cut his losses and run before even I was at risk from them. It was some of the most advanced manipulation of fire I've ever seen, yet the man acted like such an inexperienced rookie! I don't know how somebody as reckless as him could've mastered transmuting his entire body into flame like he has, and teleportation through an element is almost unheard of!" She's clearly racking her brain for answers as to the truth of her oddly powerful opponent, and it seems something is slowly dawning on her.

You decide to clarify matters "So he's a powerful manipulator of fire, can reform himself to full health after receiving practically any injury by turning his entire body to flame, and can also teleport?" This guy sounds like he's going to be a real pain to fight should you come across him. That ability to heal himself in particular means that the only real shot you have at defeating him is to go for a fatal strike as soon as the battle begins, should it come to that. "And he managed to flee from you with no real damage on account of that ability?" The ability to heal from any wound would really be a nice ability to have, actually.
>>
"Well, he did seem to start to get tired after a while, so obviously he's got some issues with stamina. He's not a completely unstoppable opponent, after all. I just didn't have any method of tracking him down after he ran away from me. That's the problem when you're fighting enemies that are capable of teleportation. You never know when they will simply decide to vanish." For quite an obvious reason, you see Anna barely manage to stifle a laugh next to you. Yes, it is quite ironic that you shared similar circumstances to this attacker earlier today after Sophia teleported you all out of the way of Alucard's deadly attack.

"Is there anything else I should know about this attacker? Did he have any particular method to his attack? what did he look like?" You're getting the feeling that this isn't the last you're going to be hearing of this fiery attacker.

"Any particular method? Not really, he was acting like a lunatic and trying to burn everything in sight, and when it comes to any actual fighting ability? I couldn't really tell, he carried himself like somebody who's seen a lot of fight at first, but as he started using his power more and more, he started acting more wild and instinctual. More like fighting an animal than a man, if you ask me." She then pauses as if to recall her opponent's actual appearance. "If you're wondering what he looked like, I'd have to say he was about your age, his hair was short, red and fairly spiky." She then pauses and smirks. "And he had much worse fashion sense than you." You raise your eyebrow at her last comment, causing her to clarify. "A red t-shirt, some cheap looking coat, and jeans. It's really a wonder that he managed to avoid burning his clothing to ash, if you ask me."

Another thought dawns on you. "Do you... think he came here looking for what was in the church too?" Could he have been seeking the power of Dominus?

At that, it's almost as if something connects in her head. "Of course! That was what that feeling was! It was far less intense than what I felt from you or what was being emanated by that ruin, but he had it too! How could I have been so foolish not to notice a third presence?" So, he was a Dark Lord Candidate after all? Drat. It's really a shame you were too tired to actually go out and combat him yourself. You're sure that Chaos would have appreciated the elimination of one of your rivals. You don't think you would have had much of a problem with killing somebody responsible for unprovoked arson and trying to set innocent people ablaze, either.

"So, another Dark Lord Candidate is in the area? We'll need to track him down..." As you get up from your seated position, you realize just how tired you've become. "...tommorrow. Jeste, if you would, could you please give the two of us a place to sleep for tonight?" After all the hoops you've jumped through for her, it's the least she can do.
>>
"Naturally." The demon woman fetches a key from one of her pockets. The number 13 is written on the key. "Just looks for caravan number 13, there's three beds." Three? You hope that the incorrect number of beds is just a coincidence and she hasn't noticed Mistral too. "Oh! You might want to take this as well, now." She hands you the contract, which you hesitantly take hold of and place in your pocket. "Now I really have a reason to go with you outside of just escaping my own boredom." She smiles, before the smile turns into a savage snarl. "Killing an insect human who dares strike at his betters." Her face quickly returns to a normal one after that release of pure bloodlust, and she even seems somewhat embarrassed by her momentarily lapse of control over her own emotions. Though this does make it seem that the fact that this attacker of yours is also a Dark Lord Candidate has no bearing at all on her mind. You hope it's just because she's already decided to pledge loyalty to you and not that she just doesn't care about the title.

Anna is obviously ready to leave the tent and get to your caravan to sleep, and practically pulls you from the tent towards the multitude of caravans. Upon leaving the tent, you can see the extent of the damage that was done. Though all of the flames have already been extinguished, so the damage isn't that bad, all things considered. In the forest a distance away, however, you can see what clearly looks like the detonation of a large bomb. A crater lit by small flames one hundred foot across has been formed as a result of the explosion, and a countless number of trees surrounding that point have been uprooted and toppled. It's clear that the two of them weren't playing around.

As you gawk at the damage of the battle, Anna seems to have absolutely no interest, dragging you along towards the caravans until she finally finds number 13. You yawn, you'll have plenty of time to admire the destruction of the battle tomorrow, for now it's clear that Anna has the right idea, sleep probably would do the two of you a world of good. As you insert the key into the lock and turn it, you suddenly realize that in her haste to leave the tent, Anna caused you to leave the chest behind!

Only to be greeted by Jeste's smiling face, one of her arms extended into the air carrying the heavy chest with ease. For a moment, you're taken aback by her appearance. "O-oh, thank you for your assistance, Jeste. You didn't need to go out of your way to bring this to us." You try your best to remain courteous despite feeling like you're minutes away from passing out.

"Oh, think nothing of it. Besides, I was heading this way anyway." There's a pause in the conversation as Jeste grins, knowing that you probably know exactly what she's about to say. "After all. I live here!" And there it is. The line you were waiting for.
>>
Without another word, you simply walk into the caravan. Thankfully, the room belonging to Jeste is pretty obvious by the decoration of the door, and the two guest rooms are easy to discern. You bid both Anna and Jeste a good night after having Jeste set down the chest in your room, and lock the door behind you.

As you lay on your bed, you find yourself finally able to relax from an incredibly tense and exhausting day. Now would probably be a good time to do some light reading, though you aren't sure if either of the books you've gained recently would be any good for that.

>Just go to sleep.
>Start reading the Record of Glyphs.
>Start reading the Ecclesian Bestiary.
>Start reading the Tome of Arms.
>See if Mistral feels like talking. (Anything in particular you want to ask her about?)
>Write-in...
>>
>>4303084
>>Start reading the Record of Glyphs.
See if we can't find something about fire. And if there are any glyphs in particular good at countering it. Not that we actually know how to use glyphs but baby steps, you know? Theory first practice second.
>>
>>4303084
>Start reading the Tome of Arms.
>>
>>4303098
+1
>>
>>4303084
>See if Mistral feels like talking. (Anything in particular you want to ask her about?)
Ask her about the Teleportation spell.
>Start reading the Record of Glyphs.

Can we take Alura out of the chest to get some air?
>>
>>4303365
+1
>>
>>4303098
This. Start getting Glyphs 101'd, maybe pick up ideas to use with the Power of Destruction
>>
>>4303084
>>Start reading the Tome of Arms.
>>
Calling it here and writing.
>>
As exhausted as your body might be from the amount of physical exertion you've done today, you don't exactly know when you'll be able to have time to yourself again. As much as you enjoy the company of your allies, they are something of a distraction. Especially when you need peace and quiet to do something like read a book.

With that in mind, you get off the bed and open up the chest. Taking both Alura's plant pot out of the chest as well as the book of glyphs. Now is as good a time as any to get the basics down about at least one form of magic, you reckon. Even if you aren't capable of understanding half of the terminology, you'll at least be able to get a start here. Even if you were capable of even the most basic uses of magic, that would obviously improve your situation. Mistral does complain a lot about how you're constantly keeping her low on mana, even if you're not doing it on purpose. You place Alura down on a nearby shelf before you lay back down on your bed, the Record of Glyphs in hand.

Hopefully, the Record of Glyphs will at least say something about how to manipulate your own magical energy. Though you aren't exactly holding your breath. You open the book to the first page and begin reading. You skim through the parts of the books introduction until you find something of interest 'What is a Glyph? A glyph is, Essentially, an artistic representation of the power the dwells within all things. With the correct glyph, you can achieve nearly any magical effect you could imagine, though this requires three things. First, the glyph must be drawn perfectly, with no errors, otherwise the magic contained within could easily go haywire. Second, the glyph must be infused with the concept of that which it is meant to replicate, meaning the glyphs illustrated within this book themselves hold no power. Finally, third, the user of the glyph must be able to channel their natural supply of magical power through the glyph in order to bring the magic contained within into existence.' Odd. You don't recall channeling your own magical power through Dominus when you activated it. Instead, it felt more like it was channeling it's power into you.

You continue reading the book, skipping multiple pages where it is just examples of certain glyphs as well as their effects. As interesting as learning specific glyphs might be, that's not what you're looking for now. Instead you seek out more information on the third point. Channeling your own magical power. While you haven't really had any problems with channeling the Power of Destruction through your body, that came to you as if it was a natural motion of your body. You feel no such thing for the use of your own magical energy though. Yet you know it must exist at least, thanks to Mistral pestering you about it.
>>
You decide to flick through the pages as you look for an explanation, though you do take note of the more interesting sounding glyphs as you pass through the pages. Ones like Refectio and Paries are far more interesting than the glyphs that simply summon weapons or elemental attacks, after all, you've already got a near ultimate weapon in the Power of Destruction, yet the abilities to regenerate at a massively quickened rate or to pass through solid objects are things that you can see yourself making great use of. You find yourself growing more and more tired as you flick through the pages. Though despite your ever-increasing exhaustion the glyphs of Rapidus Fio and Volaticus sound incredibly powerful. If you were capable of using either of those glyphs, that horrible pillar challenge Shanoa forced you to complete would have been a simple affair. There's also mention of a special magical ink that was tattooed upon the bodies of the users of glyph magic that allowed them to rapidly change the glyph inked upon their skin.

Eventually though, you find the passage you are looking for. 'The channeling of magical energy: The actual channeling of your own magic into glyphs is often the most difficult part of actually using glyph magic. Some people find themselves unable to generate magical energy to activate glyphs with, while others find themselves simply unable to direct it properly upon managing to draw it from within them. The process behind drawing magical energy from within is actually fairly simple, once you know the trick. A good trick for beginners is to close your eyes before laying your hand upon your heart and then simply focus on drawing magical power from within yourself. Then, when you've taken hold of that energy, you must mentally direct it towards it's intended location. In this case, a glyph. Though of course there are of course other forms of magic that make use of the magical energy to create a spell while it is still within the body, this book will not cover those types of magic.' That sounds an awful lot like how you draw the Power of Destruction from your body, when you think about it. Hopefully this similarity doesn't mean the two are incompatible.

Though just as you're about to finally give drawing this magical power out of your body a shot, you find yourself unable to keep your eyes open any longer, and soon drift off into a deep sleep. Of course, it's not long until you find your eyes opening again, even though you know you're still asleep. What you see when your eyes open once more however is something you were completely unprepared for, however.
>>
A world of colour spreads out before you. Instead of the world of darkness you are used to, or the strange ruins of a castle, you are in completely unfamiliar territory. In the distance, you can see a few things of some interest though. You first spot a small village on the outskirts of a forest, though considering that this is supposed to be within your own dreams, you aren't sure whether going there would really have any result. Then you notice beyond that village is a chapel. A chapel that looks very familiar indeed. Like a version of Ecclesia without any damage or wear upon it whatsoever. Finally, you turn around, and in the distance you can see a huge looming castle, despite the menacing look it has, it seems to have only been partially built, as there are many parts of it that seem to be missing. Could this have been a result of claiming Dominus?

>Head towards the village, maybe you're wrong about the lack of any inhabitants.
>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.
>Head towards the copy of Ecclesia. Maybe you'll find the answers you seek in the chapel.
>Don't bother moving and just wait to wake up.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4303753
>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.
>>
Not a lot of activity today, I see.
>>
>>4303753
>Head towards the village, maybe you're wrong about the lack of any inhabitants.
Mystery box?
>>
>>4303753
>Head towards the copy of Ecclesia. Maybe you'll find the answers you seek in the chapel.
>>
>>4303753
>>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.

We've skipped out on talking to big D long enough.
>>
>>4303753
>>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.
Hey Spiritual Papa are you proud of us for getting a tattoo?

>>4303970
The wind has been kicking up today and my internet's been cutting out the entire time.
>>
>>4303753
>Head towards the village, maybe you're wrong about the lack of any inhabitants.
>>
>>4303753
>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.
>>
>>4303970
HEY WHATIS! ARE WE EVER GOING TO GET IN-QUEST ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THIS LITTLE JANKY GEM OF A GAME???? AT LEAST USE THE SONGS PROPERLY????
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nokCxQnWgyU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIpHiLxRocw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1uXJGWENoU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjimRFQlJB0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfSNdXlsGSw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4RXI4eyaq0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH6X4BkSZcw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAoZowfb2is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxwWWMRhzQs
>>
>>4303753
>>Head towards the village, maybe you're wrong about the lack of any inhabitants
Oh, Albus/Shanoa's memories in Dominus, I was wondering if we would get to see them. And I also wonder if there are Belmonts left in Wygol, the real one.
>>4303970
My new internet Is blocked for whatever reason. I've been lurking since the start of the thread.
>>4304252
We are heading exactly to where this game takes place, just wait a few threads
>>
>>4303753
>>Head towards the village, maybe you're wrong about the lack of any inhabitants.
>>
>>4304277
Yeah, I was hoping we could talk to Albus or find out what he did to Agartha.
>>
It appears to be a 4-4-1 tied vote.
Just when I wanted to start writing, too.

>>4304252
Circle of the Moon was removed from the official timeline by Igarashi way back, if I'm not mistaken.
I can obviously use some of the OST if the opportunity arises, but as for the events of the game, they may have occured, or they may have been slightly or even radically different.
You'll see.
>>
>>4303753
I’m changing my vote from >>4304087 To
>Head towards the castle, if you're going to get an answer, then that's almost certainly where you'll find Chaos and Dracula's wraith.
>>
While you are intrigued by the appearance of Ecclesia within this dream world of yours, and to a lesser degree, the village. You doubt that you'll be able to find out just what happened by visiting either of them. No, your best bet would obviously be the huge looming castle. That's where both the Wraith of Dracula and the portal to Chaos ought to be still, even with the influx of colour to the world previously devoid of it.

With the intent of getting answers as to the current state of your inner world, as well as to see if either of the powerful beings residing in that castle have any more general advice for you to follow, you set off towards the castle. The walk is long, but you don't really care. While time might speed by at an incredible rate when you are with Chaos in her realm, it seems that such a restriction doesn't apply to your own dream world. Within this place, it seems that time on the outside is far more generous to you. Though it doesn't really relieve you of the boredom of having to trudge almost an hour through the boring green hills before the scenery finally begins to change. At least you don't feel tired within this world.

The hills level out into flat plains, the few trees you spot on the plains as you approach the castle are abnormally twisted and warped, and have not a single leaf upon them. Even the atmosphere around you, previously refreshing and calm, begins to feel choking. As you get closer to the huge castle, a thick layer of fog forms just below your kneecaps.

You decide to pick up the pace, the sooner you actually get into the castle, the better. While it's not like you're all too bothered by the strange warping of the previously lush green environment, it is getting a little distracting, and the air does feel a little thinner. It just doesn't feel very comfortable to stand about in. Probably by design, when you think about it. It seems that the Wraith really does revel in the idea of being evil for whatever reason.

You approach the large sealed iron portcullis leading into the castle through it's walls, oddly, the gate seems to open almost as if in anticipation of your arrival. Interesting. Walking through the gates, you begin to feel revitalized simply by having entered the Castle. Something distinctly odd is happening, and you aren't really sure you like it. The courtyard you walk through is completely empty, and only really serves to extend your walk as you finally reach the thick wooden double doors leading into the actual interior of the castle.

These doors act identically to the portcullis and open themselves for you. While you certainly don't mind having doors opened for you, you don't know if you're ever going to get used to doors which are clearly not supposed to be automatic opening whenever you approach them.
>>
You almost flinch back in surprise as the door opens up to reveal dozens of heavily armored men staring straight at you. It takes you just a moment to realize their true identity though. The gaps in their armor and the few of them that aren't wearing helmets make discerning what they are far easier. Skeletons, animated by some sort of dark power.

You prepare yourself for a fight against these animated skeletal corpses, until the leader of the group, a skeleton with golden decoration on his plate-mail, kneels to you. The rest of the skeletons quickly follow his lead. Was the Wraith of Dracula behind this too? You don't really think much of his choice of decoration... or hired help. Though as long as the skeletons are actually loyal to you within this world, you'll probably find yourself having difficulty caring too much about them.

The skeletons aren't the only strange group of beings you find within the halls of the Castle though. There are many times when you walk past suits of armor animated purely by magic that kneel just as the skeletons did. There's even a huge golem carved out of boulders that bows in respect to you. However, easily the strangest of all the beings that approach you are three flying snake like creatures, their body made up of segments of circular globs of flesh, and in place of a mouth, they simply have a gigantic eye. They unnerve you quite a bit as they circle around you, before disappearing into the darkness of one of the dozens of rooms you can see connecting to this single hall.

Then you can hear the booming voice of the wraith. "Well? What do you think? Do you like what I've done with the place? It's got a way to go before it reaches the true majesty of the castle, but it's not taken me nearly as long to get it to this point. Thanks to Dominus, I found myself with far more power to recreate it... Though, you seem to have taken on board quite the unwanted pest when you claimed that glyph. Seems that some ghosts just don't know when to let go." The wraith chuckles as it appears in front of you, clad in shadows still, despite the color having returned to the world. "Well, I suppose I can relate."

"You mean... Shanoa? She's here?" Well, that certainly explains the cause of the appearance of Ecclesia within your dream world. Honestly, at this point, with the amount of people that are in some way living within your soul or mind or whatever this world is supposed to represent, you feel like you ought to charge them all rent. Not including Chaos, of course.
>>
"Of course she is." You can almost feel the distaste in the wraith's voice. "That foolish woman may have successfully slain Dracula once in her life, but that was only by relying on Dominus. If I were you, I'd seek her out and forcibly rid yourself of her, before she does something foolish again." The wraith is clearly annoyed at Shanoa's presence, though confirmation from his own mouth that Shanoa once killed him is pretty impressive. Less so when you consider that she was unable to do it with her own power, but still, it's clear that Shanoa is no average magic user.

"Right, well I suppose that answers why my dream world is getting more and more cluttered, but while you're here I may as well ask you something else." Dracula's wraith doesn't seem all too bothered by Shanoa's sudden appearance within this realm. Maybe he's just confident in his own strength even within this world? Shanoa shouldn't be able to use Dominus, at least, so that's something you needn't worry about.

>"Why do you keep yourself cloaked in shadow like that? Why not show your true face?"
>"Which way do I need to go to find the portal to Chaos? I need to speak to her."
>"What do you think I should do next? When I'm awake, I mean."
>"How can I find the other pieces of Dominus?"
>"How can I become stronger?"
>Write-in...
>>
>>4304413
>"How can I gather enough of the Dark Lord's power to defeat Alucard?
Since we're talking to his father, we may as well get straight to the point. Toppling that self-hating freak is our #1 priority, after all.
>>
>>4304413
By the way, What, I noticed a small error in the char sheet. Although most of the description for Supernaturally Lucky is in the second person, it still says "he seems to win" instead of "you seem to win".
>>
>>4304413
>"Why do you keep yourself cloaked in shadow like that? Why not show your true face?"
>How can I make full use of Dominus Agony?
>>
>>4304413
>"Remember our earlier conversations, when you said that no one could defy fate? Well write that off, I just did that today. My allies did most of the job but still"
>"Also your former son is a prick and he wiped the floor with us, what do you have to say about that?"
Fuck you Adrian, I'm telling your dad.
>>
>>4304413
I'll back this guy >>4304440

Also they aren't going to start an eternal war in here once they get bored, are they?
>>
>>4304413
>"Why do you keep yourself cloaked in shadow like that? Why not show your true face?"
>"How can I find the other pieces of Dominus?"

>>4304429
Isn't re-uniting our top priority?
>>
I'll call the vote and start writing in an hour.

>>4304436
Yeah, now I'm pretty certain that one of the edits I did to the Pastebin a few days ago didn't end up saving. I distinctly remember fixing that.

>>4304470
I don't know if you really want the answer to that.
>>
>>4304413
>"Why do you keep yourself cloaked in shadow like that? Why not show your true face?"
>"How can I find the other pieces of Dominus?"

>>4304470
>>4304735
If we get another option to ask questions next, I'll write-in something like
>"I seriously hope you all won't start fighting in here, especially if it'll impede me on the outside. What makes you so sure you all can kill each other anyhow? What if Shanoa simply returns to what form of life she has in here after she dies, and I leave and come back at a later date? More to the point, will anybody that dies in here simply revive on their own, that easily?"
>>
Writing now.
>>
"Just why do you keep yourself cloaked in shadows like that? Why not show me your true face?" Despite the color that now is so prevalent in the world, the wraith appears like a strange seeping silhouette as he always has. Why?

"It's quite simple. I've not got the power to do so. In truth, my very existence within this place is a difficult one to uphold. While I can manipulate the world around me, remaining manifested as I currently am is... quite difficult. It's not as if I enjoy looking like a shadow of my former self. Yes, while the world within you may have been empowered by your absorption of a third of Dominus it is not the case for myself. Perhaps if I could draw directly upon the power of Dominus, but even I have no idea where in this world of yours it has manifested, and I cannot venture outside the bounds of this castle for long."

"Dominus is within this world?" Somewhat surprising. You for some reason had assumed it would be seperated from this world like the Power of Destruction appears to be. Though a thought occurs. Maybe the two of them are both hidden somewhere in this world and are simply deeply hidden away? Honestly, if this is supposed to be your inner world, why do you find yourself unable to manipulate it to your own whims? Why does it appear that the spirits possessing you have superior control over a world that is supposed to be yours than you yourself do?

"Of course it is. Though it's not within that chapel with the woman, I made sure of that at least. She... wasn't very happy to see me, as you could imagine." You're pretty sure that the wraith would be smiling if you could actually discern his features, but the mirth soon fades from his voice. "Unfortunately, we both found ourselves in something of a stalemate. She was unable to kill me, and I was unable to kill her. It appears that in death, she has retained far more of the power she had when she was alive than I have.

"Wait a minute, are you telling me the two of you have already fought each other? Are the two of you... going to make a habit of this? I'd rather you not turn this world into some sort of never-ending war between the forces of good and darkness." You'd much prefer if you could at least keep some semblance of calm within this world. You've had enough of being attacked by vampire hunters and the like already. You don't need it here too.
>>
The wraith shrugs. "I have no intention of attacking her again, but she might make a few assaults upon the castle once in a while. There won't be much of a point to her attacking though. The two of us are perfectly matched, and even then, our souls have both been bound to you by magical means, so should one of us actually manage to get the upper hand against the other in battle, all that would happen is that the loser would just recollect their scattered essence and reform their body instead of being lost to the void." Interesting, so in a way, within this world, both Dracula's Wraith and Shanoa are immortal? You'll need to keep that in mind should you go and visit Shanoa. If things come to blows, not only is that woman incredibly powerful using her magic, but even if you did defeat her, she wouldn't be gone for long. Perhaps you'll have to remain affable when you're dealing with the spirit then.

"Well, in that case, how exactly can I find the other pieces of Dominus? Is there a way to track them down?" Gaining more power is always a priority. Even if you never intend to make use of the full power of Dominus, if Agony is any indication of the power of each piece of the glyph, then surely gaining the other two pieces would only serve to increase your power to ever greater heights.

"There are two ways you can find the other pieces. Dominus naturally attracts the other pieces towards it. So you will be drawn to the places the other pieces of it are hidden, or, if those other pieces are on human hosts, the two of you will be drawn to each other, even subconsciously." That doesn't sound very reliable, but it's something to keep in mind, you suppose. Simply trusting your instincts might actually help you find the other pieces. "Of course, the other method is to find a dark priest or priestess and have them track the flow of dark power back to the other glyphs. In fact, that might even allow you to find your fellow Dark Lord Candidates too. I understand that you don't want the competition." Sounds far more workable, if not for the single problem of not knowing how you can actually find one of these dark priests.

"A dark priest?" Some clarification would be nice, at least. Especially if he can tell you where you'll be able to find one of them.
>>
"Humans born with incredible aptitude for dark magic and directly calling upon the power of Chaos, even if they themselves are unaware of the nature of the deity which fuels them. There's usually one born every hundred years or so. You might just get lucky and find one. They usually aren't very discreet with their powers though, so usually end up making quite the scene." Then the odds of just bumping into one of them is slim to none! "Though you're more likely to just find the other pieces by relying on your instincts. There might not even be a dark priest alive right now." Not fantastic advice, but still somewhat helpful. If you find one of these dark priests or priestesses, they would obviously be an incredibly useful addition to your own forces.

"Then I've got one more question about Dominus." The wraith seems awfully happy to answer your questions today. So you might as well make the most out of the situation. He doesn't raise an objection now either, so you simply continue. "How can I make the best use of Dominus Agony I could only keep it active for about thirty seconds before it became too much."

"You should consider yourself lucky that your body was capable of handling that much power for that long as it is. Had a normal human attempted what you did with Dominus, their death would have been a certainty. Though I can offer you a few pieces of advice to increase that time of which you can use it. Simply training your body physically ought to not only improve the effect by making you more powerful from the start, but a stronger body would be able to take the strain of Dominus for a longer period." This device seems mundane, but you can't really argue with it, it's just common sense really.

"And the other piece of advice?" Training your body is really a given at this point. You're certain that you must have at least some sort of untapped physical potential given how little you've trained in your past and how much strength you can occasionally exert.

"Become a vampire." This comes as you as more of a surprise than it should really, especially given that you're talking to a wraith of the most famous vampire in existence.

"I've considered it, but with the drawback of being effectively enslaved to whatever vampire that turns me, I'd rather not." It's a pity that vampirism works in the way it does. Had it not, you would have had difficulty not asking Sophia to grant you the power of a vampire.

"Then maybe you should consider not being turned by a vampire? That wasn't how I became a vampire, after all. Unfortunately, the Crimson Stone was destroyed. But it's really quite fortunate for you that I know how to recreate it from nothing. Though I won't offer you that knowledge for free. I'll expect something done for me in return." The power to reign supreme among vampires is certainly good information to barter with.
>>
"What exactly do you want me to do?" There's definitely going to be some sort of major catch to this offer of information.

"Oh it's really quite simple and I'm sure you won't have too much trouble accomplishing it." There's a silence as you know that the vampires words are completely insincere. "I simply want you to prove your worth by killing a Belmont." A Belmont? The ones responsible for slaying him so many times in the past? That sounds like a fairly insurmountable task for you as you exist right now.

"Right, and how exactly do you expect me to do that? Weren't you killed by a Belmont? Multiple times?" You hear the wraith groan in annoyance as you specify the magnitude of his failures.

"I was, but you shouldn't fear them. Only one Belmont in this generation had the strength necessary to defeat me and even they are now without their greatest weapon, I don't imagine the battle would've gone the same way without that whip of his. So, do we have a deal?" You're tempted by the offer. But before you can actually answer him, there's a resounding sound of fingers snapping, and you find yourself face to face with the purple rift leading to Chaos' realm.

You're a little confused by the sudden teleportation, but you can only surmise it was Chaos' doing. You suppose this must mean she wants to talk, or that she didn't want you to accept Dracula's offer for whatever reason.

>Enter the Chaotic Realm
>Turn back and look for Dracula's Wraith to give him your answer (Yes or no?)
>Try to see if there's a way to draw Chaos out of the Chaotic Realm to speak with her within the Dream World.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4305010
>>Enter the Chaotic Realm
Let's see what she wants.
>>
>>4305010
>Enter the Chaotic Realm
Time for one of the two best girls
>>
>>4305010
>>Enter the Chaotic Realm
I mean we don't really need to say yes or no to Drac. If we just do it and then ask him for the knowledge I'm sure he'd see the choice we'd made.
>>
>>4305010
>Enter the Chaotic Realm
The answer for Dracula is a definite yes, but like >>4305069 says, we can tell him that best by killing Kokoro (or that chainsaw-wielding nun).
>>
>>4305010
>Enter the Chaotic Realm
>>
>>4305010
>Try to see if there's a way to draw Chaos out of the Chaotic Realm to speak with her within the Dream World.
It would be nice to have longer conversations with her, and our dream world isn't just a void anymore.
>>
>>4305010
>Try to see if there's a way to draw Chaos out of the Chaotic Realm to speak with her within the Dream World.
We can't really afford extended leaves at this time.
>>
>>4305254
I just have this gut feeling that drawing Chaos out of her sealed world is a bad idea. But hey Dracula's shadow and Shanoa's ghost would probably be able to sit down and agree to not fuck with each other while they put the little girl back in the box. So bonding moment?
>>
>>4305291
Well there's not much I can say against a gut feeling, but given that if we go into the chaotic realm we'll be teleported in and out of our room, and we're surrounded by demons with heightened senses, one who's apparently really old in the room next to us, they may want to investigate, and Jeste could potentially recognize Chaos' work.
>>
>>4305291
>>4305349
I'm just worried that trying to put chaos into our soul will over fill it or something and cause it to explode. We already have a Witch, a Dracula and a Romanian Countryside in there. Trying to put Chaos in just seems like a bad idea.
>>
>>4305370
We have a rift leading directly to the Chaotic Realm itself in our soul.
I don't think the being it was meant to imprison is going to be much worse for us.
>>
>>4305349
If Jeste knows about Chaos that well she probably already knows the connection between it and the dark lord. On the other hand if we teleport out of existence she may assume that Arthur has a history with bad teleportation and that's why the previous spell went awry leading us to her. There are many conclusions that may be drawn from it all. But I'd rather her thinking we have a connection to Chaos than have Chaos out and about in our soul unrestricted which could have unforeseen consequences. Maybe if we drag Chaos out of the box God himself will notice. Or maybe everything around us will be able to readily sense Chaos on our spirit bits. Or it'll fuck up our psyche. Or nothing. I don't know man. It's just the vibes.
>>
>>4305380
A rift is far less damaging then having a fragment of chaos itself existing in your soul.
>>
>>4305416
Sophia told us that all the high ranking demons would know about Chaos, so Jeste knowing isn't that far out of the question.
It's something we've been keeping under wraps for the most part, and we don't know to what degree Jeste can be trusted to keep her mouth shut
She's already thought that we have something watching over us, but as of now she doesn't know it's Chaos, that knowledge could have some repercussions..
It also seems that people can't sense the Dracula in our soul, they sense the dark power but not the wraith.
Considering that Chaos is the originator I can't imagine her energy signature would be that different.
I don't think her capability to screw with our soul is in more danger if we invite her considering she can already teleport us around in here.

>>4305425
>A direct link between the place the antithesis to God is being imprisoned in is less harmful than the being it's imprisoning.
I dunno about you but that doesn't sound like how prisons work.
We already have 2 powers of Chaos, and the potential to receive at least 3 more.
Drac just said that if it was anybody else that the way we used Dominus would've killed them.
We have a compatibility with Chaos, but she can't leave the Chaotic Realm with her own power, elsewise it would be a terrible prison.
>>
>>4305455
>Considering that Chaos is the originator I can't imagine her energy signature would be that different.
I feel like that's comparing motor oil with crude. It both stinks, and it'll kill you if you drink it, but they aren't exactly the same.
>I don't think her capability to screw with our soul is in more danger if we invite her considering she can already teleport us around in here.
I mean I could put a radioactive material in a box and get cancer from it but taking it out of the box and sitting on it will give it a lot faster. She's sealed. Unsealing her would let her do a lot more than she can right now. She isn't in a summer home or anything. She is restricted in what she can do and how. Even if what she can do despite being sealed is pretty crazy. And I really doubt we can get her out and about without further breaking whatever seals are on her.
>>
>>4305469
It's not like her powers were distilled. They're just generally recognized as Dracula's powers because Chaos doesn't go around blessing many beings and he had many people witness his might.
If Chaos wanted to erase us or mindbreak us or something similarly sinister, it could've just turned us into a mindless puppet and had us drag her out.
At this point it's undeniable that Chaos values free will, otherwise Soma would've never got as far as he did.
I guess it's a difference of motivational interpretation, but I don't see Chaos as detrimental to our efforts.
I guess we can ask her what the effect would be if we did that when we go see her.
>>
>>4305497
>I guess we can ask her what the effect would be if we did that when we go see her.
That's fine. I'm not so much worried about her intentions so much as the unknowable ramifications releasing her would have. Still not sold on her being good for us. Dracula sure doesn't seem to have a high opinion of Chaos after all.
>>
>>4305501
>Drac doesn't have a high opinion of Chaos.
He also continuously failed in his efforts to achieve his stated goal of genocide, continuously mismanaged his minions, developed a habit of taunting his enemies instead of killing them while able, and getting btfo by the forces of good every time.
He also has a predilection to possess people so he can resurrect himself, and Arthur is a pretty decent host right now, and will most likely only get stronger.
Him not liking Chaos taking a personal interest in him could easily be because he wants to take Arthur over and could have a much more difficult time with her assistance.
He didn't seem to have a problem with his powers any time up until his death in 1999, he's also probably bitter he got one-upped again.
>>
>>4305508
I mean unless Dracula wanted to die. Which considering he spent probably hundreds of years being depressed isn't out of the question. Maybe he actually just liked the Belmonts coming around all the time. They are relatives of his old best friend after all.
>>
Well, if Chaos wants to speak with you, you may as well indulge her. It's not like you need to actually verbally agree to Dracula's request anyway. Your answer to his request will be quite apparent by your actions, you feel. Reaching a hand into the rift in the dream world, you allow yourself to once again be drawn into the strange dimension connected to you.

Your eyes open and an oddly familiar sight greets you. It's not Chaos, nor is it the room you've met her in in the past. No, instead, it's a completely different room that you've seen thousands of times in the past. Your bedroom back in your apartment back home?

Just what is going on, why are you here of all places? You can't possibly truly be here, yet it seems just as you remember it. A quick glance down at your clothing confirms you're wearing your gray suit still, and haven't been dressed up like some nobleman of a bygone era.

Well, there's nothing to do but look around, you suppose. Perhaps this too is a part of the Chaotic Realm? Leaving the bedroom, you walk into the living room again. Something that you never considered that you'd be doing again, considering that by all rights, this place probably doesn't even exist anymore given the 'gas explosion'.

You wander around the room for a while, feeling oddly nostalgic for the place. Eventually though, you decide to move on. There's no sense getting nostalgic for such a mundane building anyway. You've moved on from this place now. You suppose that you ought to look out the window in order to get a better idea of just what's going on outside the building. This strange occurrence has to be the doing of Chaos or the realm which she resides in..

As you head towards the window though, you freeze in your tracks as a feeling of déjà vu assails you. Your head slowly turns to look at the door to the apartment, and after a moment of silence, the door bursts open to reveal the very same huge hooded monster that was the cause for dragging you into this world of the supernatural charging straight at you.

Though this simply gives you more questions than anything else, and you certainly aren't threatened by the lumbering oaf charging towards you. Not anymore. As it swings it's fist towards you, you easily slide away from the blow and allow the monster to topple to the ground. The hood falling away to reveal the scarred face of the creature trying to kill you.

As the monster crashes past you, you turn towards it with a smile. "What an unexpected turn of luck. It seems that I've been given the chance to destroy you personally. Come on then monster, give me your best shot. I won't even bother dodging." You don't know just how intelligent the humanoid of stitched together flesh actually is, but it seems that it's intelligent enough to recognize that you're taunting it.
>>
It roars as it rises to it's feet once again, it's huge stature causing it to smash it's head into the ceiling of the room. It charges towards you once again, clearly intending to throw a punch straight at your face with such power that your spine would be severed for certain, perhaps there's enough force in the blow to separate your head from your body completely. Of course, you don't intend to find out.

True to your word, you don't actually move a muscle to dodge the attempted strike, instead focusing on covering your face with the Power of Destruction. In one moment, you're looking at the large fist headed straight towards your fast, then in the next few moments you get to look at a bizarre cross section of the golem's arm as it disappears into the Power of Destruction.

It reels back in surprise and looks at it's missing arm in surprise. "What a useless creation. Unable to even strike a man with no intention to dodge it's attacks. Allow me to show you what happens to failures like yourself, you lumbering brute."

The monster seems to have recovered from the shock of losing it's arm, having picked up a dining chair, obviously to beat you without fear of losing another limb. It then begins yet another charge towards you, swinging the chair down at you far too slowly for you to consider a threat.

You simply sidestep the attack once again and walk past the flesh golem, drawing the power of destruction out of the tips of your fingers as you move past the monster into multiple short threads of destructive energy, with a quick motion of your wrist, you send the threads ripping through the body of the creature.

You turn around shortly after the golem finishes it's charge. Just in time for it to fall apart. The once dangerous looking construct of flesh now reduced to nothing but chunks of muscle and sinew. You smile as you look down at the remains of the enemy that once seemed so insurmountable to the you of just a few days ago. Now nothing but chunks of meat, the once powerful construct of flesh having been so soundly and effortlessly defeated. You really have grown far stronger.

But the time to congratulate yourself upon your increased power can come later. The appearance of the flesh golem can only mean that this place is either based on some sort of memory, or that you've traveled through time instead of going to the Chaotic Realm. Though you must admit, the second possibility is terribly unlikely. With that in mind, it's probably best that you find Chaos before you spend so long in this place that days begin to pass in the world outside. Best to find out what the enigmatic girl wanted to speak about that she would go so far as to teleport you to the rift.
>>
The trip outside the building is uneventful, a quiet walk down the hallway and then a quiet walk down the stairs. Though once you reach the dark lamp lit streets, you notice they are totally empty. Not a soul in sight, nor even a single car. The entire city seems to be dead silent too.

You finally manage to spot somebody standing in the distance a few blocks away. As you approach the figure, you quickly come to realize just who it is. Chaos is standing in the middle of the road, looking up at the sky. You don't understand the reason why yourself though, does she enjoy watching the stars? You notice that she shackles that had once bound her are all gone, and the girl is mostly free to move around, though the rings of iron still weigh the small wings attached to her back down.

She doesn't look away from the sky as you approach her, and instead simply addresses you absently. "Hello Arthur. It's amazing, isn't it?" She pauses as she clearly expects for you to look up to the sky yourself. You may as well indulge her, it's not like you find stargazing boring.

You almost fall over as you properly look at the sky above you. The night sky is spotted with thousands of stars, but that's not all. Somehow, you can even make out what appears to be galaxies of millions of stars, light years away from the two of you in the heavens above. It has quickly become apparent that this isn't just a replica of the stars visible from Earth.

"Billions and billions of stars, of systems of planets and satellites orbiting those stars, yet the one belonging to humanity is the one that ended up being the most important in all of creation." The lights in the sky slowly flicker out until the sky is devoid of any form of light. "What exactly are the odds of that, do you think?"

"Infinitesimal, I suppose." You answer the question presented to you with a shrug.

"A good answer, and how things should have been, but you're wrong." Chaos is quick to call your answer incorrect.

"Oh?" The way she phrased it made it sound like it was exactly the correct answer you should have given her.

"The real odds of this scenario happening was 1 in 1. A certainty brought about by the creator of the universe, with absolutely nothing to interfere in His plan." She stops looking up at the sky to regard you. "Of course, now that you humans do exist, He inadvertently introduced uncertainty into his world. Through humans, I can act, and through my acts that which He planned for can be averted."

It's odd, the notion that God, the being so often referred to as the infallible and omnipotent creator of the universe, is not actually the all powerful ruler of the universe he's made out to be. Though you certainly can't say too much, you did only manage to survive this destiny plotted out for you with the power of Chaos at your side. "So,
>>
"You're living proof of God being fallible now, Arthur. As am I. You managed to avoid the fate intended for you, and your very existence from now on will be... well, something of a spanner in the works for destiny." She smiles at you. "Good job at surviving your encounter with Alucard, by the way. I have to admit, I did get a little worried for a while." Her face scrunches up in disappointment as she mentions Alucard's name. "Adrian... an even bigger disappointment than his father was..." She trails off as she recalls the half-vampire with a bitter look on her face. Seems like Chaos disapproves of the man just as much as you do.

Still, you don't want to get caught up on reminiscing about your greatest foe, and would rather actually speak to Chaos about matters actually more important to the current situation. "Where exactly are we right now, Chaos?"

"I think you ought to remember this place, Arthur. After all, in a way, you were the one responsible for constructing it here." Chaos begins walking circles around you as she lectures you

"I... was?" You definitely don't remember building a replica of the city you spent so long in. Nor would you really want to. It's not like you feel any major longing for the life you left behind.

"Well, it was mostly a stray memory of yours that I took the liberty of... bringing into my reality. It's kind of lonely with nobody around though..." A memory? You aren't really sure that you like the idea of having your memories looked through, but then again, Chaos has likely been watching you for all your life in some way, so you don't really know what to think of things. "Oh! We can also spend a little longer together too. As long as you don't enter my inner sanctum, the time flow is a lot more generous." Well, that's some unexpectedly good news. Now would probably be a good moment to ask Chaos a few questions, or just spend time with the girl.

>Ask Chaos if she would like to go somewhere in the city (any particular requests?)
>Ask Chaos about the Crimson Stone. If Dracula has information on it's creation, then surely she too should have that information.
>Ask Chaos why she brought you here. It couldn't have purely been to talk to you about destiny, could it?
>Ask Chaos about ways to quickly gain strength. Alucard is still a threat and is likely still pursuing you.
>Ask Chaos why you were attacked by a Flesh Golem upon waking up. Or rather, upon arriving in the Chaotic Realm.
>Just spend time getting to know Chaos better. If you've been given more time to speak with her, you want to actually know about her.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4305778
>>Ask Chaos why she brought you here. It couldn't have purely been to talk to you about destiny, could it?
>>Ask Chaos about ways to quickly gain strength. Alucard is still a threat and is likely still pursuing you.
If she suggests we do some squats I'm going to frown. Our ass is already fantastic.
>>
>>4305778
>Just spend time getting to know Chaos better. If you've been given more time to speak with her, you want to actually know about her.
>>
>>4305784
Didn't Dracula just tell us that we just need to strengthen our body?
We also have the Glyphs to study/tattoo, learning to manipulate our magical energy, and the other pieces of Dominus.
>>
>>4305813
Yes but he didn't specifically say squats. And we had asked Dracula how to better handle Dominus. Not how to get stronger. I'm hoping Chaos can suggest something a bit more esoteric than 100 sit ups and some pull ups and kilometer runs every day, you know?
>>
>>4305818
If Alura gets revived soon, then can't we use an ability that exerts our muscles to the point they're useless, then have her heal us back up?
That would make us really strong really quickly right?
>>
>>4305778
>Ask Chaos why she brought you here. It couldn't have purely been to talk to you about destiny, could it?
>Ask Chaos about ways to quickly gain strength. Alucard is still a threat and is likely still pursuing you.
>Ask Chaos about the Crimson Stone. If Dracula has information on it's creation, then surely she too should have that information.

>>4305821
While I'm inclined to doubt things could be that convenient, it certainly sounds like a marvelous training regimen if possible.
>>
>>4305778
>>Just spend time getting to know Chaos better. If you've been given more time to speak with her, you want to actually know about her.
>>
>>4305778
>>Ask Chaos why she brought you here. It couldn't have purely been to talk to you about destiny, could it?
>>Ask Chaos about ways to quickly gain strength. Alucard is still a threat and is likely still pursuing you.
>>
>>4306478
Oh, and also
>Ask Chaos if she knows where the rest of our allies are or if she can give us a way to track them down
She gave us Mistral, after all.
>>
Will call the vote and write in 22 minutes.
>>
>>4305778
>Ask Chaos why she brought you here. It couldn't have purely been to talk to you about destiny, could it?
>Ask Chaos about ways to quickly gain strength. Alucard is still a threat and is likely still pursuing you.
>Ask Chaos if she knows where the rest of our allies are or if she can give us a way to track them down
This is my vote
>>
"All this talk of fate and destiny aside, is there any other reason you brought me here to see you? Chaos? I didn't expect you would be able to do something like that outside of this world." Of course, you also suppress the urge to tell her that teleporting people away from other people in the midst of conversation is somewhat rude of her. You aren't about to scold the all-powerful girl within her own realm, you might think of yourself as a somewhat courageous man when bravery is called for, but you get the feeling that attempting something like that crosses the border of courage into the realm of pure insanity.

"Oh don't pretend that you're surprised, I might be limited in my power right now, but such a thing was a simple matter to me even with that in mind... Though it was a little easier after you reclaimed Dominus, I suppose." You frown at the mention of the glyph's name once again, of course you're happy that it helped Chaos in some way, but it's just another additional effect that you were unaware of when you took the glyph into yourself. Between this, Shanoa, and a whole country side now existing inside your dream world, you worry that the glyph might have even more unforeseen consequences in store for you. "You see Arthur, while it wasn't technically a Dark Lord Candidate, that glyph still contains a fairly large portion of Dracula's power. That is to say, it contains a large portion of my power. While those other two that now exist within your soul are able to manipulate the world more freely thanks to the larger quantity of energy held within it, it was me who took possession of the Glyph. Neither that witch girl nor the out of a job vampire actually know where I hid it." She winks at you. Doesn't look like she intends to tell you where she's kept the manifestation of Dominus within the dream world either. It's not really like you care that much though, at least it should help to prevent the inevitable battles between the wraith of Dracula and Shanoa. She can draw on the power of the glyph all she wants within your soul as far as you care. As long as it works as it should when you need to use it. "It's thanks to reclaiming that portion of my lost power that we're able to speak outside of the core of the Chaotic Realm." Chaos pauses as she realizes just how off-topic she's managed to get from your question. "But I'm getting carried away with myself again, aren't I? You wanted to know why I wanted to speak with you." She sums up your question

"I am curious as to what you wished to speak with me about, yes." There's no point in denying your curiosity now that you've already asked her for her reasons in bringing you to her rift.
>>
The girl in front of you laughs sadly for a moment before responding. "Is it really too much to believe that I simply wished to talk with you? Even when we were on better terms, my previous Dark Lord always tried his hardest to keep his interactions with me to a minimum. I don't even want to talk about how the Dark Lords prior to Dracula acted. You create a spirit to act as your representative and the first thing they do is declare themselves Gods in their own right while actively working against my requests of them. But I suppose if I had to come up with a reason as to why I wanted to talk other than just... well, wanting to talk to somebody who I don't consider insufferable..." The girl looks deep into your eyes and takes a deep breath. Her face still somewhat worried. "It would be to tell you that you're still being pursued by Alucard, and no matter of hiding or laying low will be able to prevent him from finding you. I meant to tell you this the last time we met but was distracted by more... pressing issues."

"Damn it! I thought I would at least have a brief moment of respite against that bastard." You begin to think of ways that you might be able to gain the upper hand on Alucard in a fight by utilizing both of your powers at once, though actually coming up with a solid plan to defeat the half-vampire isn't something you feel like you could just accomplish in an afternoon. With a sigh, you ask Chaos another question "Do you know when he'll find me again?" Hopefully you'll have at least a few days before being found. Alucard is going to be a thorn in your side for as long as either one of you remains alive. You can feel it already.

"Well, you're in luck, actually. Your friend the vampire managed to finish casting that crude teleportation spell of hers just before the burst of energy from Alucard would've incinerated the lot of you." Well, at least now you know what would've happened had Sophia not aided everyone in their escape. Though it really isn't any relief to you at all.

"Meaning?" You prompt her to elaborate on her vague statement.

"Meaning that Alucard thinks he wiped you and your entire group out with that spell of his." Finally, some helpful news! "But don't think that means that you can simply remain hidden. It's only so long until they realize their error and begin to actively pursue you once again. You should have a week at least before they come after you again, at least by my reckoning." There's a brief flash of anger on her face which fades so fast that it may never have even been there at all.

You pause in thought for a second, you're going to need to think carefully about what you're going to do now that you know that your greatest adversary won't leave you be for long. "Chaos. I need to get stronger. If Alucard is still pursuing me, even more so. I can't fight him with my current level of strength. Can you help me?
>>
For some reason, the girl looks stunned at your request, but you aren't quite sure why. "Help you get stronger? Well, I can't offer you any additional power, at least until you've slain one of those other Dark Lord Candidates. But there is something I can give you, even with my power to interact with the real world heavily restricted." She smirks, it's the smirk of somebody who has managed to cheat and knows that nobody will be able to find them out. You raise an eyebrow at the smirk. "Knowledge. You wouldn't need to read the books written by those who have barely even begun to figure out the fundamentals of manipulating the world around them. Though there might be some... negative repercussions of sorts. Almost all magic stems from my existence, after all, so a human having that sort of knowledge may suffer some serious drawbacks."

The thought of being taught magic by Chaos is certainly appealing, but you don't really like the idea of these drawbacks, nor do you like the idea of these repercussions she's being overly vague about. There's nothing to it but to ask the girl to elaborate. "What exactly do you mean by drawbacks?"

"It really depends on how much you wish to learn of magic. I can teach you just the basics, or I can teach you everything there is to know about the magical arts... though if I taught you everything, it's almost a certainty that you would die. The influx of information overloading your brain and causing your body to shut down immediately. It's probably for the best that you forget about me teaching you about everything for now, actually." It sounds almost as if Chaos forgot the limitations of the human body for a moment. Honestly, you don't know what the effects of having that much information suddenly forced into your mind would be, but if Chaos thinks it would be a bad idea, she's probably right. "However, I can still at least ensure you know the basics of magic. Though even then, you might suffer from some painful headaches or temporary loss of your physical senses for a few minutes. You might find yourself vexed by such things for a few weeks at most though. " She looks up at you now. "It's really all up to you." Seems that the enigmatic girl is giving you a choice of whether or not you want to take her up on the offer. It does have potential drawbacks to you, after all.

You pause for a moment as you weight your options. But before you do, another question springs to mind. "Well, before I answer that, could you answer another question for me?"

"Of course, we still have some time left before it's morning in the real world." The girl yawns as you prepare to ask her another question, the look in her eyes almost makes it feel to you as if she's actually aware of what you are about to ask.
>>
"Do you know where my allies are?" Hopefully, Chaos will know where to find them. She's made it somewhat clear that she's aware of the world beyond the Chaotic Realm, especially with that revelation about Alucard and his companions still being able to track you down.

Chaos laughs. "Right now? Most of them are probably asleep at a hotel in Trofaiach. The two that aren't are likely to be out hunting, you should know why. Oh! Trofaiach is in Austria, in case you were wondering." Wait... finding your allies was that simple? All you needed to do was ask Chaos and she would reveal their location? It leaves you somewhat bewildered that she wouldn't just reveal it to you from the start. It does bring you at least some sort of comfort knowing that they weren't all scattered across the planet, at least.

Whatever her reasons may have been for not just revealing where your allies went after the conflict with Alucard, it's probably not a good idea to question her. It's possible that she just didn't think you'd consider knowing all that important, after all. It's difficult to see things from another person's perspective when you're a being like Chaos, you would bet. While you might value your allies deeply, you can't expect Chaos to feel at all the same way about them. Besides, it's not like she withheld the knowledge from you when you asked. It's possible that it really did just slip her mind.

Chaos coughs to draw your attention back to her and away from thinking about what the meaning behind her actions are. "That was your last question wasn't it?" She doesn't give you the time to respond. "I would hope so, we haven't got much time left together here after all. So you best decide quickly." The city around you simply ceases to be, instead replacing the street you are on has been replaced by a hall of a grand library, with bookcases that seem to stretch infinitely into the sky. Curiously, a small pair of spectacles has appeared on Chaos' face. "Do you wish for me to impart some of my knowledge onto you?"

>Accept Chaos' offer to teach you the basics of magic. You can deal with headaches at least, even if the temporary loss of all senses sounds somewhat terrifying.
>Ask Chaos to teach you everything she knows about magic. Danger be damned. Sometimes it's worth taking a risk.
>Decline Chaos' offer for now. You would rather learn magic through your own effort. It would simply feel like cheating if you relied on her for this.
>Ask Chaos if she can instead teach you a specific type of magic. (Write-in.)
>Write-in...
>>
>>4306926
>>Decline Chaos' offer for now. You would rather learn magic through your own effort. It would simply feel like cheating if you relied on her for this.
Eh nah. If we learn on our own we may pick up some tricks and personalization we wouldn't if we just sponged up the info all at once.
>>
>>4306926
>Accept Chaos' offer to teach you the basics of magic. You can deal with headaches at least, even if the temporary loss of all senses sounds somewhat terrifying.
Ain't nobody got time to learn magic from scratch.
>>
>>4306926
>Decline Chaos' offer for now. You would rather learn magic through your own effort. It would simply feel like cheating if you relied on her for this.
The side effects are unacceptable in our current situation
>>
>>4307014
Then what if we just have her give us the knowledge of only a few spells?
I was thinking something like:
>Fast movement magic
>Time stop magic
>Protection magic

Since even if we only learn the basics, I doubt it will be enough to hinder Alucard.
>>
>>4306926
>>Accept Chaos' offer to teach you the basics of magic. You can deal with headaches at least, even if the temporary loss of all senses sounds somewhat terrifying.
>>Write-in...
Give her a hug and thank her for all her help.
>>
>>4306926
Supporting >>4307020
>>
>>4306926
>>4306943
>>4307020
I'll support this.
>>
>>4307020
I don't know why you want to hug the thing older than time itself but I'm also a handshake kinda guy.
>>
>>4307119
Well, because she just told us she was lonely. She's also been super helpful when she didn't have to be, giving us items, information and offering training. She could have just been an eldritch monstrosity that controlled our soul and made us do her bidding.
She deserves a hug.
>>
>>4307132
I dunno man hugs are for people you know. We really don't know her. I mean I could go for a high five but a hug is a bit much for a near stranger.
>>
>>4307020
Supporting
>>
>>4306926
>Decline Chaos' offer for now. You would rather learn magic through your own effort. It would simply feel like cheating if you relied on her for this.
As much as I'd want the best girl hug in >>4307020, I'm swayed hardest by >>4306936. The magic personalization aspect intrigues me in a quest like this, and I'm a sucker for upgrade autism.
>>
It seems that we have a 4-3 victory for hugging Chaos and accepting the offer.
Very well.
I also have an interlude in the works I will post in a short while.
>>
It's certainly a choice that requires a lot of thought. While you would love to be able to use magic, the drawbacks Chaos has mentioned are almost enough to make you decline the girl. But when you think about just how little you know of the use of magic right now, the drawbacks begin to look less and less terrible in comparison to just learning the basics of the use of magic. Sure the headaches might be painful and the temporary bouts of sensory deprivation sound like a completely awful experience, but compared to actually learning the basics behind learning how all of these magical mechanics actually function, it will certainly save you a huge amount of time. Besides, Chaos said herself that Alucard is pursuing you, or at least will be shortly. So it's not exactly like you have the time or leisure to suddenly dedicate yourself to the life of a magical scholar.

"I accept, Chaos. Teach me what you think I'll be able to handle. I'm ready." Then almost without thinking, you walk closer to the small girl and envelop her in a hug, causing her to completely freeze up. "And... thanks for all your help." You really hope she doesn't take offense to this. The very last thing you need is to upset Chaos in any way.

It takes a moment for Chaos to recover from her shock of the sudden physical contact, but eventually, she returns the hug. Her delicate arms wrapping around your waist. While she purposely looks away from your face "O-of course I'd help you. You're going to be my Dark Lord, aren't you? What sort of being what I be if I didn't give you my aid when you asked me for it." Eventually though, she makes to break away from the hug, and you let her go. She takes a few steps away from you in order to look you in the eye to once again address you seriously "Are you ready then? Because this... might sting a little." There's a hint of concern in her voice.

You look into the bright red-orange eyes of the girl as she looks up at you. "About as ready as I possibly can be, Chaos." You smile at the girl happily. Seems that she was alright with being hugged then. You're glad. "Once again, I ought to thank you for everything you've done for me. If it weren't for your power, I wouldn't be alive." Her serious expression falters for just a moment as you once again tell her of your gratitude.

In that moment, the girl who had backed away from moves instantly, standing, or rather hovering, eye to eye with you. You nearly take a step backwards at her sudden disappearance and reappearance but prevents yourself from doing so. She only action is to silently press her index finger onto your forehead. The moment the two make contact, you black out. Making out only the last few words Chaos utters as the world around you becomes too difficult to comprehend. "...for me, Ok?"
>>
Then you feel yourself floating in a void of pitch black. Around you float tens of thousands of what seem to be words, numbers and shapes. Bizarre pictures and glyphs. Formulas far too complex for you to even begin to think about understanding and even entire magical circles. Of course, you can see a few passages of text that you can actually make out. Though the moment you begin to read them they shift language to something you can't comprehend. Then, all at once, everything in this world of void begins to shift around, glowing brighter as they all seem to gravitate towards you. As each piece of the world makes contact with you, they disappear completely, and you feel as if you know a little more about magic.

The words and images flow into you faster and faster as your knowledge on the usage of magic swells. Reaching the magical energy held within your body ought to be child's play with the level of knowledge you have been gifted by Chaos. Eventually, there's nothing left in this world except you alone. Left to your now rather enriched thoughts. Despite all this knowledge though, when you think of a magical formula, expecting your newfound base of knowledge will allow you to instinctively understand it, you don't. Well, that's not entirely true. You can understand what the result of the formula roughly means, as well as how to put the information into use, but you can't think of any of the specifics of what each part of the formula means. Your mind simply equating the entire formula to 'Magical energy plus willpower equals fire.' It's honestly rather bizarre. The same is true of the occasional magic circle you can see. While you certainly can't read the lettering engraved upon the sides of them, you somehow know exactly what the intended effect of the circle is, and how to replicate the effects. So, is this what Chaos meant when she said she would grant you basic magical knowledge? It's not really what you had in mind. Other than now knowing how to manipulate your own magical energy, the actual knowledge you were expecting isn't really there. Being able to understand something yet not truly understand something, it's really a strange sensation.

You're left floating there, utterly bewildered by this sensation for a few minutes before you feel the dark void you have found yourself in begin to disappear around you. Fading to white and then back to black. Your eyes open once again a moment later, half hoping that you would be greeted by Chaos' face again, but it seems that accepting her offer dragged you out of her realm and indeed, out of your dream itself. Instead of the Chaotic Realm or the Dream World, your eyes open up to the ceiling of Jeste's Caravan as you lay on top of your bed. Fully clothed once again and once again wishing you actually had more than one suit capable of protecting you as well as this one is.
>>
You look about the room and note with a smile that Alura seems to have grown quite a bit through the night. Hopefully it won't be that long until she's grown herself a new body. Not only do you somewhat miss having her around, you especially miss her capability of weaving magically reinforced plants into a suit for you. It's at that moment that a thought strikes you. If Jeste is bound to your service, then couldn't you simply order her to feed some of her blood to the plant? Something to keep in mind, that's for certain.

The first thing you want to do however, is try out your newly found magical ability. You hold out a hand and conjure a small ball of fire right above it through directing the magical energy within you and applying your willpower to the somewhat difficult to control energy. You don't really feel like it drained you at all either. Not like the Power of Destruction does, and certainly not like Dominus leaving you feeling so drained you can hardly move. Though your new magical ability aside, you really ought to plan out your morning.

>Ask Jeste for some of her blood to give Alura.
>See if you can transfer some of your magic into Mistral.
>Go see how Anna is holding up.
>Keep experimenting with your new magic.
>Gather everyone and see about getting some breakfast.
>Write-in...
>>
>>4307779
>>Gather everyone and see about getting some breakfast.
>>Write-in...
Ask Jeste if she'd be willing to see if any of the demons would donate some blood. If we get multiple demons to donate a single pint, it'd be better then just draining her.
>>
>>4307779
>Ask Jeste for some of her blood to give Alura.
I wouldn't mind adding a bit of our own as well.
>>
Trofaiach Forest - Outskirts

"And you're certain that we'll be able to stay at your old mansion? What about Arthur and the other two? Are we even sure they made it out?" Holly glumly asks Sophia, frustration clearly building on the older vampire's face at the constant questioning from her protégé.

"We can focus our efforts on looking for our missing leader when we've actually got somewhere to stay for the night. He wasn't anywhere close to us when we first appeared here, and I doubt we're going to have much luck locating him without relying on more magical means than scouring the entire forest. Fortunately, I remember one of my sisters having constructed a scrying pool with the help of a wandering group of witches about a century ago." She explains her plan to find the missing Dark Lord Candidate to Holly, who still doesn't really look like she gets it.

"What if they don't feel like sharing? You can't just be certain they'll let you use their things right away. How long has it been since you saw each other anyway?" This time it's Grigori who joins in on the questioning. He had intended to slip away at one point, but if he wasn't in a bad position before, then he certainly is now. Marked for death by the most powerful organization on the planet for certain, after his intervention in the battle.

"I can assure you that my relationship with my siblings is quite a positive one, and that I can be very... persuasive, if it is called for. Now, I'd like you to remember that the only reason you still draw breath is that I feel somewhat grateful for your intervention during the fight with Alucard. But even with that in mind I wouldn't recommend pushing your luck, mercenary." Her tone is cold enough to cause a shiver to run down the ice magician's spine.

"Fine, be that way then." Grigori's response is clearly dissatisfied, but he isn't foolish enough to want to test the vampire's patience. It's quite clear already that the woman is incredibly upset by the events of the past few hours. Losing to Alucard was bad enough, but somehow being unable to bring their leader with them was even worse. Nevermind that her idea of a teleportation spell involved everyone appearing a hundred meters above ground. Of course, this was fine for the vampires, who promptly sprouted wings, and even the doppelgänger girl, who followed suit. As for himself, he hit the ground and miraculously avoided taking any injury from it. At least he wasn't alone in that, as the apparently mechanical girl plummeted into the ground next to him.
>>
The rest of the walk through the forest was done mostly in silence. The only noises being the crunch of leaves beneath their feet and a quiet humming from Effi, the girl seemingly at home in the large forest. Even despite the almost complete lack of light of the forest, her glowing yellow eyes seemed to guide her perfectly well as the small group wandered through the forest. The vampires were of course uninhibited by the lack of light too, and it was only Grigori who suffered for it. Forced to conjure a small crystal of ice that emitted light in order to prevent himself from tripping and falling flat on his face in the dark forest.

The group suddenly came to a stop, reaching a clearing in the forest that upon getting closer turned out to be a road carved through the forest. "Excellent. We're close now. It's been an awful long time since I last saw my sisters. I can't wait to see the look on their..." She immediately stops talking as the building at the end of the road enters into view upon the group walking around a bend in the road. The building itself is not the large Rococo mansion that Sophia had lead everyone to believe would be the case, instead, the building she had led the group to was an angled monstrosity of steel, concrete and glass. "What Is this?" her voice is choked with rage, she turns towards the group with a menacing expression on her face that makes everyone watching except Coller step back in fright. "Wait here. Don't attempt to follow me, or I'll kill you." Nobody dares raise a complaint to that order.

The four of them watch as Sophia simply walks up to the front door of the house and politely knocks on the door, waiting for the occupant of the gruesomely modern looking building to answer. Then, roughly a minute later, a man in a suit appears at the door, his face difficult to read with the distance, but they can all tell that he doesn't look very happy at his late night visitor.

The conversation lasts for a few minutes, and despite her previous anger at the building's existence, there's no trace of the rage on her face as she speaks to the man. She even curtsies as the conversation ends, appearing to apologize for something as she goes to turn away. It's only when the man attempts to follow suit and close the door that he finds himself unable to. Before his very eyes, both of his hands pull away from his wrists. One of them is still holding onto the door handle in a macabre display, while the other topples to the floor.
>>
The man attempts to back away from the vampire as he screams in pain, Sophia has now turned back towards him with a charming smile, yet as he does, he finds both of his feet staying firmly on the ground, while his body simply topples over. Holly for her part tries to cover Effi's eyes as the four of them watch the carnage from a relatively safe distance. Sophia simply says one more thing to the man before conjuring a tiny flame above one of her fingers. She then simply tosses it inside the house a far distance from the man writhing in agony, closes the door behind her, and begins walking back to the rest of the group as a fire begins to consume the modern looking building.

"My apologies everyone, but it seems that due to the actions of a pair of imbecile humans, we will be forced to once again stay in a hotel for the night." After watching the gruesome display of the inhabitant of the house having each of his limbs turned into a useless stump before being left to burn, questioning her is the last thing on their minds.
>>
>>4307779
I'll back this >>4307784

Bit miffed we don't know any of the important parts of magical theory. Now we still have to actually read and shit. Knowing the way to make things happen is good and all but knowing why is the useful part.

Oh well. Problems for later.
>>
>>4307784
Supporting.
>>
>>4307779
>>4307784
I'll support this.
Though, should we try giving Mistral more energy after breakfast then? I'd like to do it before, since she'd probably enjoy the meal.
>>
>>4307779
backing >>4307784
>>
As your mind races with the possibilities of just what to do with your newfound magical aptitude first, you are soon rather forcibly made to take note of the fact that you haven't eaten any food since leaving the cruise ship, and with all of the exertion you put your body through yesterday, you can't really wait any longer. Hopefully the circus' selection of food will be good enough, though you really can't afford to be picky right now. Well, the briefcase full of money might say otherwise, but it's less a problem of cost and more of a problem with availability for you right now.

You do a few stretches, just to make sure you're in a good shape to face the rest of the day and that there's no lasting harm from yesterday's use of Dominus. You aren't suffering from a headache right now either, nor do you feel like anything is wrong at all. Still, you have no reason to doubt Chaos' warnings, it would probably be for the best if you didn't get involved in something that may very well be hindered by you suddenly losing all of your senses. At least not if you have a choice. You also make sure to pick Alura's plant pot off of the shelf as you leave the room.

Stepping out into the rather cramped main room of the caravan, you notice that Jeste and Anna are already up. The two are remaining deathly quiet as they stare at each other from opposite sides of a small circular dining table, doesn't seem like they've noticed your entrance to the room either. For a moment, you simply watch the two women stare daggers at each other, you have no idea what exactly caused this silent stand-off and it doesn't really seem like observing it will help matters either. You yawn just loudly enough to grab their attention, as they both quickly move to look at you.

Jeste is the first to talk. "Oh good, you're back. Do you mind telling me what happened? It's not often that a teleportation can happen almost adjacent to me and I'm unaware of it." Jeste immediately begins questioning you. Her eyes burning with a curiosity as she looks at you with the inquisitiveness one might feel if they were looking at a difficult puzzle or perhaps a question on an examination. It's somewhat vexing, but you don't let it irritate you too much, of course she would be interested in your disappearance.

"It's an ongoing magical condition I seem to have. Though whatever is the cause of it, I have no idea. I never remember what goes on while I'm missing either, so your guess is as good as mine as to what exactly might be causing these disappearances. But believe me, they are quite bothersome, I've already disappeared for multiple days thanks." Jeste doesn't look like she's buying your lie, instead looking at you more closely, trying to scrutinize you, in the hopeless attempt to somehow read the information from your nearly expressionless face.
>>
Eventually, she puts a stop to her studying of your features and simply frowns, obviously discontent with your refusal to play along with her "Fine then, keep your secrets. As long as you don't mind me doing the same." As she says that, you notice her playfully smile. "Maybe at one point we can exchange secrets? I can answer almost any question you might have about the world, I'm sure." She's obviously not given up finding out, and is apparently quite aware of the fact that you were lying to her. Damn it, this woman is infuriatingly good at reading people by their expressions, even more so than Sophia is!

Anna however looks a little displeased by Jeste's prying. "Even if Arthur was lying about whatever happens when he went to sleep, I'm sure he'd have a good reason for doing so. I'm sure he's doing the right thing, no matter what the truth might be." Anna's faith in you stings a little, knowing that you are keeping a secret from somebody who is clearly very loyal to both you and your cause just rubs you up the wrong way a little. Maybe you ought to reveal the truth of Chaos to your allies when you've reunited with them? Though you really aren't sure how they will take the existence of Chaos. Sophia especially, you don't quite know how the vampire might react upon being informed that everything she thought she knew about the strange being known as Chaos was pretty much completely incorrect.

Jeste for her part just lets out an annoyed huff as she rests her head on one of her hands. "Thank you for that, Anna. But I'd rather we not discuss my disappearances at length." She gives you a quick nod before you continue. "I was actually wondering about the three of us getting breakfast. Jeste, does this circus have a canteen or some place that prepares meals?"

"Unfortunately not. Usually we all just prepare out own food. Though I'd be more than happy to cook for the two of you, if you would like. Or if you'd prefer a more traditional breakfast, I suppose we could visit the nearby village or the city down the road. I have learned to use human vehicles with utmost skill!" She seems really too excited at the prospect of driving the two of you.

"Oh, actually, there is one more thing I would like to ask you Jeste, and it's quite important too." If demon blood will speed up Alura's recovery, then surely you would be a fool to not ask Jeste to donate some of hers, in fact. If this circus is as full of demons as you've been led to believe, then all you would need is for a few volunteers to donate a small amount of their blood.

"Oh? What exactly is that, Arthur?" The demon leans forwards as she looks at you, apparently intrigued, almost as much as when she was trying to discern the truth about your disappearances.
>>
Theres no way to phrase this in a way that will make sense without going into a needless amount of detail first, so you may as well just say it to get it out there. "This is going to sound exceptionally strange, but could you organize it so this plant I'm carrying gets a few pints of demon blood?" You heave a sigh as you finish the sentence.

There's a long pause in the room as the demon tries to discern your intentions once again, but this time is unable to keep her cool as she utterly fails to comprehend your motives, instead answering in a flat tone. "What?" The demon has been completely caught off guard by the request.

"This plant is a friend of mine that was terribly damaged in a fight, and now she needs demon blood." At this point you've actually started to enjoy this, Jeste can clearly tell that you aren't lying to her, and it is because of that the demon looks at you like you've lost your mind. It's kind of hilarious, actually.

Jeste just clutches her head in utter confusion, it seems that for all of her knowledge, she's either unaware of Alura Unes, or she just hasn't connected the dots yet. She groans in utter confusion before responding, "Of course, if that's what you wish me to do, I'll make sure she gets a few pints of demon blood before we leave the circus to find a place to eat, Arthur." Seems that she's disregarded the idea of cooking for the two of you herself, and is now actively encouraging you to choose to eat somewhere else.

>"Actually, I'd really like to see how your skill is at cooking, Jeste."
>"You know what, I think I'll take command of the kitchen, if you don't mind." (Cook what in particular?)
>"If you've got a vehicle that can get us there, then we'll visit the village to see what restaurants they have."
>"The city sounds like a good choice. There would be dozens of places we could choose to eat from there."
>Write-in...
>>
>>4308354
>>"The city sounds like a good choice. There would be dozens of places we could choose to eat from there."
>>
>>4308354
>"Actually, I'd really like to see how your skill is at cooking, Jeste."
>>
Was hoping maybe to do an earlier update and do another three update day.
Guess that isn't on the cards right now.
>>
>>4308354
>"Actually, I'd really like to see how your skill is at cooking, Jeste."
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>>4308354
>"Actually, I'd really like to see how your skill is at cooking, Jeste."
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"Actually, Jeste. I would really like to see just how skilled you are at cooking instead of going to visit a restaurant." While you're tempted by the idea of a restaurant, you have to admit that you're curious as to just what food prepared by a demon like Jeste would taste like. Do demons even need to eat like humans do? They must need to eat something at least, you desperately hope that it isn't humans, like their demonic nature might imply.

Jeste once again looks confused "Really? While I'm happy to do so, are you sure putting so much faith in somebody you've never seen cook before? Or to put your faith in a demon? For all you know, I might try to poison you." Jeste looks at you with frustration on her face. For some reason she's trying to dissuade you from having her cook. Even going so far as to suggest she'd use it as an opportunity to kill you, as nonsensical as that sounds.

"If you were planning on killing the two of us, you have already had ample opportunity to do so. Besides, what would you even accomplish if you killed us? Even if I don't really know you all too well yet, from what I've seen of you so far, I doubt you would do something like that. Besides, don't you want my assistance in dealing with that Dark Lord Candidate who attacked you? I'm quite capable of dealing with an enemy like him, I believe." To prove a point, you walk over to a fruit bowl sitting on a counter in a small kitchen area and pick an apple. "This, Jeste, is the Power of Destruction." You call upon the destructive energy within you and surround the apple with it, destroying the fruit in an instant and without a trace. "As you can see, it is the power to destroy anything. It wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference if that apple was made of steel or even diamond. Everything is erased before it's power." The demonstration does sap a little bit of your stamina, but not enough for it to be truly noticeable.

Jeste's eyes are glued to your hand long after the apple vanishes and she stands there in silence for a while before finally uttering a single word. "Fascinating." It's a word said in awe. This is really the first time you've ever gotten such an odd response to the power. She looks absolutely entranced by your usage of the power, and seems completely in a daze. You end up having to snap her out of it by clicking your fingers in front of her face, at which point she jumps backwards in surprise. "That was the Power of Destruction? It was so... beautiful." Even now, she's acting odd about the power you just showed her. "Why did you not show me this before?" Her voice turns just a little bit hostile. What's going on with her?
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"I was tired at the time, and besides, why would I reveal my abilities to those I don't consider my allies? Additionally, by the time I returned to you after having explored that chapel, I was far too fatigued to give any sort of demonstration of my powers" At the time of your first meeting with Jeste, she was still very much an unknown variable. Even now you don't trust the demon all too much, but there's no sense in hiding this particular ability from her any longer. Even if her reaction to it is quite the unexpected one.

"Ah. Well, nevermind then. I was just... taken by the incredible beauty of the energy. Pardon my rudeness." She shakes her head, apparently trying to get control over her own emotions.

"Incredible beauty? What do you mean? All that happened was the apple Arthur was holding disappeared!" Anna is clearly even more confused by this situation than you are. "There was nothing to be called beautiful!" That doesn