You are Irue. Part of an important noble family, current owner of three dubiously loyal or competent Testaments. You've had a long day, you're decently sure one of those Testaments is upset with you, and Ari was acting oddly as well. Emerging from the bath and redressing, you stretch idly before the door back to the halls proper. Beyond this bathroom was reality again, that place where you had to make decisions and deal with people you thought you could trust. Where every word you said had to be watched, in case you stepped into a pitfall you had no way of knowing was there in the first place. In a few days time at most, you were going to be in a pretty important meeting with a bunch of peasants. Serfs? Homeless? They had turned to crime though, so... Brigands. You had inadvertently scheduled an audience with brigands, not realizing the implication of what someone of your pedigree meeting with them would be in the current political tension between nobility and royalty in this land. Your efforts in finding a solution had turned up a couple suggestions, each of them with their own weights and consequences both good and ill. Enslavement - As a slave their humanity was forfeit. In the eyes of the law they were property. Tools and livestock which you owned. They would belong to you, branded as your own, stripped of basic dignity in society, unable to return to a normal life. On the other hand, they would be pardoned from their crimes as 'people', and as your slaves, you could decide how they were treated and what they did. On that same note though, you would also be responsible for their well being and tending to... Of course you could just leave them to starve, die, or tend to themselves. As slaves, they were your property to handle how you saw fit.
Conscription - While they were brigands now, the future was uncertain. There was the possibility for them to become more. More than they had ever been before, above the simple life of a commoner. Trained and armed forces under your personal insignia, to protect your estate, to march at your order. You would similarly still be responsible for them in doing this, and the question as to who would even train them was quite an issue. You knew nothing of knighthood, and you're uncertain if your cousin's current disposition would allow you to request Alouette's guidance for your newly christened knights... Besides that, while the remainders were hardly an army, it was a major step up from your current employment total of one maid and one secretary. Both of whom were the same person. An ominous shiver rushed through your body unbidden at the thought of Asche. A premonitional sense of anxiety that you couldn't quite place. Much like the slavery option, that would still land them under your responsibility. Food, shelter, clothing... Even more troublesome than those, you would need arms and training. A place to store the arms, dedicated training quarters? The more you thought about it, the more your head began to spin in the steam filled bath chamber. You frown, staring at the door in front of you. All your troubles were on the other side. Did you really want to open it? There was probably another exit in the baths, a window or something. You could escape, and no one would be any wiser for a while. By the time they realized, you'd be gone. That was an option you had, of course. You could run and leave all this behind. What was your family to you? No one even knew who you were, your own family had conspired to keep you hidden, and the one person you thought you could trust, your childhood friend and cousin, had been hiding things from you. They'd all probably be relieved if you just quietly exited the stage.>Open the door.>Escape.
Previous Threads:https://archive.moe/tg/search/tripcode/!y56qKWqxyc/results/thread/http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?searchall=valen+questWhere things are said:https://twitter.com/Riz_QMPastebin Stuff:Kara's Day Out - http://pastebin.com/8ZbiSKLsAdventures with Asche - http://pastebin.com/RNviCBJuMisc notes:I wonder if that anon who got mad at Ari's name ever came back?
>>42299903>All your troubles were on the other side.If we've learned anything from our experiences out in the world so far, it's that you can find more troubles pretty much anywhere. Skip town every time one gets big enough, and all that leaves you with is a world populated with troubles.>Open the door.Time to do what you came here to do.I like the quest a ton, but man, this time slot is a killer.
>Open the door.You can do it, 'rue.
>>42300190>>42300234Opening the door.>>42300190I ran through a different time slot a couple times and I didn't notice much of a difference in playerbase honestly. I guess that's not hard though, consider 2-3 is the norm for Valen.If the players have suggestions for better times, I'd be happy to hear them. No promises on if I can manage them, but I wouldn't mind keeping it in mind and trying.__Writing!
You shake your head, dispersing the traitorous thoughts of just trying to run away from your problems. Even if you did escape these, the world was a vast and, as you were learning, terribly troublesome place. You'd probably find new and more abstractly miserable problems where ever you went anyway. With a perspective like that, you could probably be grateful that you only had to deal with the issues you did. You could, but the minor surge in morale slumped off before breaking even really, leaving you with a more lukewarm feeling of... Not quite resolve. The door clicks open as you step out, greeting an entirely empty hallway with a resigned - that was the feeling, resignation - expression. You breathe in the cooler air, doing your best to ignore the steady dripping of your stubbornly long hair as you assemble the thoughts in your head. You probably needed to find the library again, get back to researching and see what Rinnier and your cousin had found in your absence. There was also an opportunity to go explore your cousin's estate once more. That Jenseits girl's presence, or lack there of, was still bothering you. You had never gotten to investigate that room you had heard Caylen discussing things with her.Alternatively... After the bath, you feel kind of refreshed. You could probably try and find a weapon again and practice a little? If nothing else, it might give you some time to work out what was going on with your inability to use them.>Return to library>Investigate the room you heard Jenseits in>Weapon time!>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)>Other? (write-in)
>>42300605>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)Ari!!!And>Investigate the room you heard Jenseits in
>>42300605>>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)Ari>Return to library
>>42300605>Investigate the room you heard Jenseits in>Am I forgetting something...?Where is Ari, and what state is she in? We don't know how much she saw/heard of the shadowrue fight because we were too busy, you know, trying not to die. She could have easily peeked in while we were fighting and been traumatized by it. Basically, find her, see what mental state she's in (which may be difficult as her default is PANIC), and from there assess whether she saw something or not.
>>42300679>>42300689>>42300854...Oh right. We forgot Ari. Where is Ari?>>42300679>>42300854Investigating rooms.>>42300689Back to the libraryWriting!
>>42300854>Where is Ari, and what state is she in?Well, we HAD asked her to wait outside while we cleaned up real quick, and she obviously isn't there right now, so either she wandered off, went to look for something, got dragged off by the fingerstaff wanting to go on an adventure, or got scooped up by someone.>>42300605>>42300894>>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)This is worth clarifying: are we missing our bracelet?
The curiosity regarding what Jenseits and your cousin were hiding burned into you, mixing with a creeping suspicion of what they were up to. Alouette had told you twice now that Jenseits hadn't entered the estate since you arrived, and you wanted to believe her... But you're not daft. You know exactly what you heard beyond that door, and you kind of wish you had simply walked inside that time to see for yourself. If Alouette was being truthful though, then either Jenseits managed to get into the estate without the guard being alerted, or something else was going on. An adept ability? You roll your eyes as you remember the bothersome wisp that Jenseits had coerced into existence. While you weren't certain of what else she could do, there was always the possibility that she had an ability as an adept that allowed her entry somehow.You're already moving when you freeze in mid-stride. Maybe it was the lack of a familiar weight tugging at you, or how fast and easily you had been moving, but you turn back towards the baths to find... Nothing. Of course there was nothing, the hallway was empty when you left the bath....It hadn't been empty when you entered. Where was Ari? Your brows furrow, sharp red eyes narrowing in confusion. Where had she..? You glance down the hall, one way then the other, but the entire place was empty. There wasn't so much as a trace of where the timid Testament could have gotten to. You distantly note she had even taken that forlorn finger with her. The hall was entirely, completely empty. This raised a number of questions, like where she had gone, and what she was even doing. As it was your cousin's estate, you weren't overtly concerned for her safety. People knew she was your guest, she would be looked out for, and there wasn't any rule saying she COULDN'T leave your side if she wanted to.Really, hadn't you been trying to get her to be a little more independent? You should be pleased about this.
You reflexively rub at your bare wrist in thought. She should be fine, you trusted everyone here to look after her....Or you did, if there hadn't evidently been a prophecy regarding her that your cousin had been notably tight lipped regarding. You straighten up, staring blankly down the hall, as if trying to see something beyond the scene in front of you while your mind whirled. Did you really actually trust the people here? You used to, certainly, but hadn't the events recently changed that? Hadn't you learned that not everything was the way it had been when you were children? These warm halls, the faces you remember playing with and being scolded by, none of these people were your allies. They were under Caylen's command, and you honestly didn't know what Caylen was to you anymore, beyond family.Family was what had kept you hidden away, isolated and ignorant. Family was what had tried to quietly marry you off and remove your claim to the head of your noble family. >Resolve to trust the people here.>Let it dissolve away, you need to find Ari now.>Other? (write-in)
>>42301236>>Let it dissolve away, you need to find Ari now.
>>42301236>Resolve to trust the people here.Striking through Ari would be alien to him. He's not like our Aunt or Uncle.Also where's our bracelet?
>>42301236>Other: Trust is earned, not given. Don't trust everyone, but trust what you know for sure - Caylen can be trusted to do what he sees as right, and Alley-oop can be trusted to do his orders. Caylen may be doing something as according to this prophecy you know nothing about if he believes that way is more right then the other available options.>Other: Where the hell is our dear sister's bracelet at?
>>42301236>>Other? (write-in)Trust or not, Ari is our responsibility. Deferring responsibility and searching for her only out of mistrust are both damning in different ways.Also, >bracelet
>>42301305>>42301329Are these two meant to be for, or against, searching for Ari as opposed to doing something else?
>>42301236>Other? (write-in)Her reaction upon our arrival at the baths was unusual, even for her. It's entirely possible that whatever Ari found unnerving/odd at the time may have motivated her to do something we might not consider her doing of her own volition.>Resolve to trust the people here, but look for Ari regardless. If nothing else, there's still too much we don't know about the prophecy to know how Jenseits would react if she happens to be around.>>42301305I'm mostly fine with this general outlook, though Alouette is a lady. With a nice hat.
>>42301268Trusting them might not be the best idea.>>42301281We can trust them, surely.>>42301329>>42301437Trust or not, Ari is your responsibility.>>42301305Trust is complicated.>>42301281>>42301305>>42301329Where did the bracelet go?Writing!
>>42301430>>42301329Meant to be for, but not quite the "let it dissolve away" option. Sorry - wandered off after voting.
You honestly weren't sure if you could trust Caylen anymore, but you knew who he was. You knew what he would do, and what he wouldn't. As a judge of character, you were confident in at least that fact. When it came down to it, rather than as a friend, rather than intimately or personally, you trusted yourself to be able to at least somewhat predict what he would and wouldn't do. He was a person, like any other, and your familial relationship with him had obfuscated that fact for a long time. Perhaps too long. And did it matter whether you trusted them or not? In the end, Ari was your Testament. She was your responsibility, no one else's. If she wandered off, you needed to find her - if only to make sure she was okay, and know what she was doing. Your concerns about whether or not Caylen and his people were trustworthy came second to that; Everything came second to that. As troublesome as she was, Ari-No, you shake your head. Not just Ari, but all of your Testaments were your highest priority weren't they? Both due to the Rite and because of what they were. You purse your lips agitatedly, glancing up and down the hall again. That room and Jenseits could wait, you needed to find out where your Testament had wandered off to.finally coming to some sense of resolve, you start off down the hall in search of Ari. You had little idea of where she could have gone, which left you only with a few half-baked ideas to follow. The first thing to come to mind was simply that she got hungry and went to find food. This idea was discarded immediately as it occurred, and you chastised yourself for even attempting to suggest something that inane. So what else? Cultists kidnapping her for a prophecy? Another ridiculous concept, and you shake your head. Bathroom maybe? No, you had BEEN in the bathroom. You'd have seen her. You needed more serious options.
She had been acting oddly since you finished meditating earlier. She may have looked inside and seen something... But you doubt that. Something like that would have been noticed. However, there was a fair bit of commotion. She was probably disturbed by it, or maybe worried about you. That sounded more like Ari, didn't it? Worrying and panicking were basically her specialty. There wasn't anything for her to be worried over though, especially since you had managed to escape that ruinous meditation. You rub at your wrist again, reassuring yourself that it was still bare. A weight that felt unfortunately familiar still pressed into your skin from time to time, but it was more a of phantom response than anything genuine. It's all I have left of her.You frown, vehemently rejecting the objection to its absence. It was important to you, terribly important, but you couldn't bare to wear it. You would compromise on a lot of things, but not this. It wasn't yours to wear. You knew that intrinsically, it belonged to someone else.Right now, you needed to focus on Ari. If she had become worried about you, then she only had a few options to go on. Either she went to find help, probably back to library to find Rinnier if that were the case, or she tried to figure out how to help you herself. Granted that she hadn't been here when you left the baths, her resolving it herself probably meant she went to go figure out what was wrong. You sigh, torn between being thankful that someone actually cared enough to be worry about someone as disappointing as you, and exasperated that she was being so troublesome. She was always prone to overreacting, but this was something else entirely. What if she became a mother-hen like this, and started flipping out every time something unexpected happened to you? >Check the library>Check the room you meditated in
>>42302009>>Check the room you meditated inShe was concerned about us from the start of that. Plus, this isn't the first time she's seen bad things happen to us because of Shade.
>>42302009>Check the room you meditated inI'm a little worried that our whole "nothing to see here" routine may have had the opposite effect given our condition upon exiting the room.
>>42302009kinda worried about the whole "what bracelet?"thing. did our memories get lost/stolen with that shade thing?
>>42302411Shade cannot alter memories outside of inflicting enough trauma for it to occur naturally.That is Luna's domain.
You swivel on your heel and start striding back towards the room you had meditated in. She had been concerned ever since you emerged, and it had taken you a bit of insistence to pull her away from there in the first place. You suppose it shouldn't have surprised you that she had just gone right back there when you let her out of sight, but... The idea of Ari acting like a rebellious child didn't sit well with you. It was too out of the ordinary, especially when she had been completely fine earlier that day. The only thing you can think of that would have driven her to do something like this would be your own orders, like when you had told her to run, or go find Rinnier. She had, of course. She had gone as far as she could, which wasn't very far considering her constitution, but the concerning detail was that she had never actually made it. She collapsed each time, never quite succeeding in the endeavoured task. You guess that's why she always tried to apologize when you found her...You shake your head. You hadn't told her to do any of this, but if she thought she was doing it for you, then you suppose you can see how she might have been motivated to hobble off. Taking that forlorn finger with her as a walking stick probably helped too... Unless it was that wood golem that had taken her....No, it had been pacified ever since that incident. Besides, Ari would have likely tried to alert you if it had. This was definitely her own doing, probably out of some misplaced concern. Still, it'd be best to keep her from stumbling into places she shouldn't be in. It was one thing for you to deliberately go places where you shouldn't be, but it shouldn't be done on accident, or by mistake. You pick up your pace, half-jogging down the hall while your still wet hair slapped against your back with each stride.
It didn't take you too long to arrive at the room you had been meditating in. The door was still clicked shut, and you hadn't encountered anything but a few of the house staff on the way here. Had Ari taken another route, and you just missed her? Or did she just mistake the room?...Were you wrong about where she had gone in the first place? You pause, staring at the innocently shut door. It was one door, in an entire estate of doors. A lot of empty and unused rooms, even with all the guards and serving staff. This place had been used for parties before, after all. Large noble affairs, with an entire courtyard full of visitors - The event of your Rite was a picnic in comparison. The only thing that made this door special was that you had been inside it, otherwise it was completely forgettable.There was always the chance that Ari had gone inside, and you stare at the doorknob in wonder, trying to decide whether it was worth opening the door and checking. You doubt Ari was that detail oriented, she hadn't seemed to have shown much aptitude for that sort of thing so far.A soft sigh escapes you as you look up and down the halls again. You wish you had a key to lock this door.>Track down a maid to get a key.>Check the library.>Look for Ari in the room.>Change mind about what happened to Ari? (write-in)
>>42302468>look for ari in the room
>>42302468>Change mind about what happened to Ari?Current possibilities:1) She's in the room, went looking for something about what happened to us2) She went to the one person she knows might be able to help - Rinnier at the library3) Jen has been pulling some magic bullshit, as seen with her conversation with Caylen where she wasn't there - she may be acting independently and kidnapped Ari because prophecy.4) Caylen may have taken Ari somewhere to try to convince her about his own plan - with Irue obviously listening to Rinnier's council perhaps he though the other testament could be a viable approach?As it stands we have nothing to prove which option it may be of those or if its none at all - the only indicator is that the fleshstick is with her. Which actually raises its own option.5) Oakenrue went feral due to shade meditation and the shade appiration consuming the bracelet, Oakenrue has Ari.Check room, if Ari not there make beeline to oakenrue.
>>42302525>>42302640Check in room.>>42302640Check the wood golem.Writing!
You can't run the risk of having missed Ari simply because you didn't open a simple door, and so you resolve to just get it over with quickly as you already start to think about where else she may have gotten to. The door clicks open quietly, swinging open easily as it let light stream in from the hallway to its darkened interior. It was extremely dark in here, not due to anything supernatural, but simply because it was a closed room; Four walls, no windows. Lights weren't kept on places no one frequented, leaving it shut off from any real source of illumination save for what filtered under the closed door - or, in this case - through the open doorway. It was why you had chosen it for your meditation in the first place. Darkness was comfortable for Shade and its apparitions. By blinding you, it allowed the fears of the mind to manifest more easily, eliciting one of the most common and low grade fears known to man: Fear of the dark. This room wasn't special, any other one of the closed rooms in the estate would have been just as comfortable as this one was, you had just found this one first. Glancing through the darkened room from corner to corner, you quickly confirm that Ari wasn't anywhere to be found in the ruined room. You swallow, eyes drifting from corner to corner as you stood in the shaft of light leading to the room. You step back into the hallway, rubbing at your wrist nervously as you try to ignore the weight of expectations on your shoulders, shaking your head as you close the door again and block out the crossed arms of your shadow staring back at you from within the rapidly extinguishing light that had managed to get inside.Ari wasn't there, which is what mattered. You needed to find her, still; That was the most important thing right now. If she wasn't here, then the possibilities from before started to well back up in you.
Thinking about just what she had vanished with, the sneaking suspicion that the forlorn homunculi finger had something to do with it began to well up. You step away from the closed door, once again debating whether or not you wanted to find a key to lock it or not...Find Ari.If that forlorn thing had been involved, then it might have gone berserk again. Quietly. Or something, you honestly didn't know anything about it other than its odd tendency to heed your requests - Their logic was an enigma to you at the best of times. A sense of urgency started to creep up inside of you as your casual jog turned to a sprint towards where you had left the thing's main body in the courtyard. You passed some of the staff along the way, but there was little time to for you to stop and explain things to them.Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, when you arrived at the towering wooden likeness of Irue Valen in the courtyard it was as still and abandoned as it had been earlier. Night was beginning to creep up, and the distant crackle of bonfires being lit softly whispered through the calm courtyard air. You inspect the twisted and elongated form, some mixture between tree and human. There was flesh, worn cold and pallid over its hard wooden core. Rather than joints, fingers were more flexible branches that simply curled as they pleased - Feet were entirely out of the question, as the wood golem had long since abandoned any pretense of a humanoid lower body in favor of a gown of writhing roots that helped support its massive girth.Frozen in stasis as it was, what you can only assume to be it's true self in the form of that finger stick, you're left observing the twilight cast figure of a statuesque husk....You can't help but think that you look much better than this deformed imitation. The thought is traitorous, a sense of pride unfamiliar to you sparking briefly to life before confusion smothers it and you shake your head. Now wasn't the time.
>Check Library>Find Caylen, ask him to help find her>Find a guard, command them to help search>Find a maid to get a key and lock that door
>>42303027>Find Caylen, ask him to help find her>Find a guard, command them to help searchjust start grabbing people
>>42303027>>Find Caylen, ask him to help find herFor as stubborn as he is about some things, and for as much as things are on both of our minds, I can't help but think trying to find a missing girl would be something he'd feel obliged to help with.Mildly concerned that the constant desire to lock the door is because we've got a feeling something in there may have turned Nightgaunt on us.
>>42303070>>42303143Find Caylen>>42303070Find a guardWriting!Also taking out trash, one moment.
>>42303143I'd say we have less to worry about Nightgaunts and more to worry about who we're playing. Lack of bracelet, apathy about sister, loss of various emotional responses - we're not Irue right now but the doppelganger.Why did you fucks vote to be what we are in the dark instead of going with the obvious overcoming grief option, fuck everything.
>>42303200because the overcome grief option sounded to me like it would cut of an important part of irue's personality, thus reaching a similair situation we are in now except worse.
You glance around the darkening courtyard, spotting several guards beginning to mill about on their patrol. Ari wasn't out here, she hadn't been at that room, you were starting to get worried. It was unusual for her to go missing, even more so to have gone so far. While you didn't like it, this was probably the time to get someone else to help you track her down - Specifically, it was time to get your cousin to put everyone on alert looking for your Testament....That might be a little extreme. You'd reconsider it on the way there, but the general intent was the same. You needed to find her.With a final fleeting glance at the lifeless husk, you run back inside and past several more staff as you breezed down the halls with damp hair being thankfully air dried as it streamed out behind you. You wrack your mind, trying to find some hint as to where he'd be... You don't think he had a dedicated office, or if he did, no one ever told you. He had been released from training to focus on research which ruled out Alouette and-Research, he was probably in the library.With the thought in mind you stopped to take in your location and mentally charted out the quickest way there before rushing off. Getting back to the library wasn't difficult, at least not this time. You had managed to figure out where it was after having some time to sort yourself out. You threw the door open, swiftly striding inside as your hair caught up to you and you were forced to suck in deep gulps of air in order to catch your breath. lean against the door frame as you get your breathing under control from all the running you had done in the last half hour or so. "Ari." You gasp out finally, raising your head to look into the library towards the front table that you had all been using to study.
Caylen had leaped from his chair the moment the door opened, his hand straying immediately to his sword. A lifetime of training with Alouette had left his instincts finely honed, even if his skill itself was left in question. You might say it had honed a sharp sense of self-preservation on his side, which was unfortunately often dulled by his sense of morals. Beside him, Rinnier had glanced up from the book on her table, a vague expression of annoyance on her face as she held her hand out towards you pointedly."I can't find Ari.""It's just Irue."Rinnier and you explain simultaneously, taking you only a second longer for you to notice your timid Testament clutching at the forlorn fingerstick from beside Rinnier. Relief floods you, almost enough to let you drop down to your knees if you were less concerned with your image. "Ari there's nothing wrong, what are you so upset over?" Rinnier grumbled, her patience evidently wearing thin. "Irue, what did you do to her?" She finally rounds on you in favour of ignoring Ari's continued reticence. You open your mouth, drawing in breath to respond, but you honestly don't have an answer. "I took a bath?" You offer lamely, "When I came out, she was gone.""You didn't just take her in with you?" Rinnier gave you a half-lidded gaze, "You know she starts to freak out if you leave her alone.""I tried! She said she didn't want to!" Rinnier gave the timid Testament an odd look, finally shaking her head as if to dismiss the entire thing. "We don't have time for this, Ari." she sighed tiredly, one hand going to her temple, "That audience is coming up soon, and we're no closer to finding a different way to handle it since apparently-" Her voice cut sharply, "The way we found isn't good enough.""On the contrary, I believe I may have found a better option than forcibly enslaving an entire village of innocent victims." Caylen responded wryly, setting his book down.
You ignore their interplay for now, perking up at a new way to handle it. "Well?" You usher, moving to the table to better discuss what had been learned. "Pilgrims." Caylen announced simply, leaving you to blink as you tried to put together the image of the brigands from memory and terror stricken thrill seekers. "...You'll need to explain." You admit after a moment, eliciting a sigh from Caylen as he shook his head. "What's to explain? Submit them to the path of pilgrimage under the shelter of the Shrine of Mana. While traditionally it's been a voluntary action that was used to seek enlightenment, or furthering your connection with the Mana, it has historically been used as a reform program."... Something twists inside you. Some deeply seated disgust that resonates from your core as you take in exactly what he's saying. "There's precedent for this?" You ask flatly, your voice barely coming out as a silent whisper. "Yes, several cases at least." Caylen nodded, "Though perhaps not in this grand a scale, but we have forced certain fugitives and offenders in the past onto pilgrimage as a method of absolving their crimes and filtering them back into society."...Filtering. He referred to a holy pilgrimage meant to attune one's connection with Mana, and strengthen the sense of self, as a reform program to filter criminals back into society. The voluntary seeking of familiarity or enlightenment to better understand the Mana you worship and revere as a trial forced upon people - The SACRED act of refining yourself as a CRUCIBLE to be forced into? Many attendants dream of taking their pilgrimage, of seeking the heart of their Mana and traveling to bring themselves closer to the essence of what they dedicate their very lives to. They wait for the day to be CALLED on that adventure, embraced more favourably through their meditations. To be drawn into the arms of the world by the Mana that bless it!
The nature of the journey was such that not everyone made it. In fact, many people simply didn't - It was not something to be taken lightly, it was a yearning. A summons. It was like a sign that you were ready to progress, where the very act of taking that step towards understanding your Mana changed you irrevocably, if you even survived the path in the first place. He wanted to just consign them to that, throwing them to the wolves when they likely had no desire to even seek such a thing.You felt something straining, an outrage begging to be released as Caylen half-heartedly served up the most heretical piece of information you had ever had the misfortune of hearing. There was precedent for people being forced into this. For people far less deserving, simply to absolve crimes committed against society. This sacrosanct undergoing...!Your fingers twitched, a silent whisper to physically smack the suggestion of out Caylen rearing to the forefront. Rinnier looked between the two of you, you idly note that she was already beginning to tense as if to rise from her chair. The look on her face wasn't pleasant either, but you don't know what kind of reaction had been sparked in her thoughts from this.>Let it out. Suggesting this kind of thing is unforgivable.>Breathe out, reject it absolutely. >Restrain yourself. He probably doesn't understand.>It's not slavery. It's another option you have to consider.
>>42303603>Restrain yourself. He probably doesn't understand.>It's not slavery. It's another option you have to consider.See what embracing what we are in the dark has done anon? Irue is now violently impulsive. Maybe if we ever get a soul gem we should show it to everyone we see because that'll be interesting too.
>>42303603>Breathe out, reject it absolutely.We're not exactly on the best of terms with the Shrine at the moment, if more immediately pressing matters have caused that fact to slip his mind.But more importantly, impress onto him how serious this is. Slavery is the removal of their free will in the eyes of the government. Sure, that's bad, but forced exile into pilgrimage hands them over to the whims of the Mana. We're not talking about sending them to bible camp where they get to sing campfire songs, we're talking about throwing them into the deep end of a pool where there's really no way of knowing what fate awaits them.We respect what the Mana are capable of, and understand that they can do good as well as ill, but the worst case for this path is way, way worse than slavery. For them as individuals, as well as for the nation if the Mana find it as abhorrent a concept as we do at the moment on account of being a Doppelganger or doppelgangertouched or whatever. Rinnier knows this as well as anyone.
>>42303603>>Breathe out, reject it absolutely.
>>42303631Restrain yourself.>>42303631Keep it in mind.>>42303722>>42303726No. Writing.
Your fingers curl, fist tightening at your side, but in the end you manage to hold yourself together enough to not simply respond with your fist. "No." The single word, spat out through grit teeth, wipes the smile from Caylen's face. "No?" He repeats at a loss, "What do you mean, it solves everything.""Leaving aside the forced consignment," you breathe in heavily, a fact that has nothing to do with your earlier physical exertion and everything to do with your current willpower straining. "Do you understand the Pilgrimage is?"This was the crux of the matter. He had friends in the Shrine, you knew as much, so there was a chance he knew exactly what it was... But Caylen was not a member of that facet of society. He was nobility through and through, with no personal connections to the Shrine or its ways. He wasn't like you, who had grown up with an entire library of books regarding the Mana and their ways; This room itself proved that. Full of military records and history, Caylen existed in a world outside of the one he was so blithely suggesting to throw these people into. "The book described it as a journey to absolve your crimes through enlightenment." Caylen explained, pointing to the passage in question quickly, "It's a difficult path, taking some time and often tredding into wild and untamed ground, where the pilgrims are said to either emerge new men and reformed for society, or perish." He looked up at you in confusion, "Is there something not listed here?"No. You blink a couple times, trying to understand exactly what you had just heard. That was... generally close to accurate, at least. The location was vague, the perishing was mentioned, and it did say they came back new men. You suppose that's a close approximation to them being changed.But...Caylen didn't understand the gravity of the pilgrimage....And he was evidently fine with them dying in the attempt.
"The pilgrimage is a major ordeal." You exhale finally, answering him as calmly as you're able to as you dedicate a full tenth of your attention to trying to find a chair to sit in before you do something you'll regret. "It isn't something you simply go on, Caylen. When you're prepared to make that journey and reap its benefits, the Mana call on you. Even when the summons occur, it's never certain you'll succeed." You plant your elbow on the table, twining your fingers together to keep them occupied as Caylen sits back to listen. To your side, Rinnier finally began to relax a little now that she had deemed a conflict not about to start. Ari had taken to standing behind her chair, eyes riveted onto your every move as she clutched the forlorn fingerstick in her grasp. You'd talk to her later, after this settled."Of course there are some risks, it's not as if this was meant to be a free way out." Caylen agreed, "But only individuals were sent in the past. If the entire camp goes, perhaps a few will die, but with safety through numbers then they should be capable of passing it and returning completely absolved.""No." You shake your head again, "You don't understand, Caylen. This isn't a camping trip, what kills pilgrims are only rarely wild animals. The danger of the Pilgrimage are the Mana themselves." You catch Caylen's gaze, pinning him to his chair with your stare as you continue. "There isn't a destination for the pilgrims, it's a unique path for each person that leads them to a place of tribulation. If they survive the affair, they emerge..." You trail off, trying to find the right term, but only succeed in emphasizing the insufficient one you come up with. "Changed.""So safety in numbers wouldn't work..." Caylen muttered, "Then... Escorts? It isn't unusual for a noble to issue escort-""Your escorts will die!" Your hands slam onto the table furiously as you rise.
"This isn't a matter of guarding, do you honestly believe an entire army could stand against the Mana?!" "They won't be meeting the Mana themselves, will they?" Caylen buckled down under your outburst, stubbornly digging in. "Something like would be ridiculous, at best some apparitions or something. If an adept or two can handle those, then surely enough guards will be fine!""This isn't a matter you can ensure success with through strength of arm, you worthless swordsman!" You snap the epithet out venomously, ignoring Rinnier's attempt to call you down. "None of these people have even received the call, you want to sign them away to death, and your own men with them!""It's not certain they'll die if we just take the time to prepare them!" He shouts back, "Even if they do die, they'd die freely, and the ones who do succeed will have better than standing than before! If they rejoin society as part of the Shrine, the royals can't touch them!"No.No!Your fist clenches on the table, "Letting some of them die so the others can survive isn't helping them! They'd be better off as slaves!""It'd be better to die free and struggling than live as a slave, Irue!" Caylen hissed back, slamming his own heavily gloved hand onto the table hard enough to cause books to shift. "There have been successes before, and those were punishments. If we prepare and help them, then at worst, only a few won't make it!""Only a few?!" Your voice raises angrily, "Even assuming you're right, and that the hundreds of thousands of attendants and adepts who took this journey before and failed WEREN'T prepared, who are you to write off a few deaths as a necessary loss!?""If it delivers the remaining to a good life, then sometimes sacrifice is necessary to do what's right!""STOP!"Rinnier's shrill intervention breaks the shouting match, shattering the rising tension as you wince from her scream. "None of this is helping, and you're both acting like children!"
>Grudgingly accept it as an option.>Completely veto it, you won't even consider this.>There has to be something else. Some other option.>Other? (write-in)
>>42304132>>Completely veto it, you won't even consider this.
>>42304132>There has to be something else. Some other option.>Other: Compromise. A solution is needed or people will die as we dither and argue. If we must take this option can we only send the leaders to absolve the group?Good to see anon is fully embracing their anger, gotta go full edge. Did you not learn from the guard captain's lesson?
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>42304177. .>>42304185No. Also, No.>>42304217Some other option. + compromise.So we're in a tie now. I want to roll a 1d3, but I honestly have no idea what I'd even do if it came up for that first guy.So, 1d2, dice gods preserve us.1. veto2. the other thing.Writing.
Your mouth clicks shut as Rinnier dresses the two of you down. You accept the interruption for what it is and take the opportunity to calm yourself down, closing your eyes as you shit back down and try to find your center again. Your squabbling wasn't helping, a fact Rinnier was right in pointing out, and you can't help but feel slightly ashamed, on the edges of your outrage and frustration with Caylen, that you had fallen that low.What was it Alouette had said? 'The definition of useless nobles'? After listening to her advice, you turned around and went right back to doing the same thing Caylen had done when Rinnier had suggested slavery. You sigh again, feeling weight settle on your shoulders as you nervously rub your wrist to chase away the phantom weight. No giving up, you weren't giving up, you couldn't give up. There had to be a way forward, something to resolve this. "There has to be some other option." You finally start, drawing a scowl from Caylen as Rinnier sighed. This was the second time she had heard that statement, given the gravity of the situation you can imagine how frustrating it must have been for her to hear it again. Caylen, on the other hand, was now serving the role as the one whose efforts had been received and rejected. "What other option, Irue? We've spent days looking for this-"Rinnier's deadpan stare as Caylen talked about the effort he had put in was a little distracting. You bite your tongue though, as he continued to explain to you that time was running out and that a decision would need to be made soon. The entire conversation sounded painfully familiar, an irony you doubt was lost on the spitefire Testament who had been unexpectedly forced into the mediator's role in this meeting. You're quietly thankful, and a little apologetic, that it had come to that, though.
"We don't have the time to spend arguing over methods." You finally speak up, "I understand your reluctance to accept turning them into slaves, but I can't in any good conscious support forcing them into a pilgrimage either... But, you're right. A choice will need to be made, soon.""Do you really understand?" Caylen muttered, "The Lamandran's probably been trying to fill your head with how it wouldn't be so bad-""-I've done no such thing." Rinnier sniffed, "Though if I were to do so, I would be sure to mention that it's a better course of action than sending them to their deaths." "I did not suggest a death march!" Caylen barked, "And even if I had, it would be a sight better than a generation of forced slavery after being evicted!"You snapped a heavy tome shut, the covers slamming together resounding through the library and serving to interrupt the snide exchange between them. "Rinnier has given me her opinion, just as you have yours." You state in no uncertain terms, staring Caylen down. It was one thing to argue with you, but snapping at Rinnier was something beyond the limits you were willing to tolerate. Both as your Testament, and as the only person who had supported you this far and earnestly tried to find a solution, it was unacceptable. "I don't like either of them, but as we've all said, we need to figure something out. A compromise, or a solution, because our time is running out.""Compromise..." Caylen grumbled, slumping forward onto the table with his elbows propped up to hold his head. "What kind of compromise? Make them slaves AND send them on a pilgrimage?" He snorted depreciatingly, "There's not much wiggle room between these options, Irue.""...What if we only subjected a few of them to a course of action, then." You offer tentatively after a moment's thought, "Representatives, so to speak. To act for the entire group, good or ill."
>>42304228God dammit. Ruiz I like your quest but I can't stay awake through it and anons seem hell bent on being idiots and fucking everything up.
"...No." Caylen shook his head, and even Rinnier crossed her arms with a sigh. "I wish we could do that, but... They're all guilty of brigandry, and abandoning the crown to turn to this life of crime - Even if it was the crown's fault in the first place.""Beyond that, they are not an officially recognized group." Rinnier spoke up tiredly, "If they were, I'd have suggested handling only their leaders and writing off the followers as coerced into their actions by their superiors. It was a common method of pardoning one's unit for unsightly conduct performed by guards and soldiers, or plea bargaining safety when captured during a war.""...Ah, I remember that." Caylen muttered thoughtfully, "It was a Teranford protocol for the commanding officer to offer their head in exchange for their men's safety when captured, wasn't it?""Yes..." Rinnier affirmed quietly, "It was an agreement of sorts. Attempts to rebel or escape would be ceased by the unit in exchange for their safe keeping and the life of their leader." Caylen nodded, rubbing at his chin as his thoughts turned to more war related matters. "La'Fiel adopted that code of conduct a few decades after it made its way across the border. It saved a lot of lives.""...At the cost of many good men." The red haired Testament shook her head slowly, "Unfortunately, even that is not an option here.">Try and find another option>Dismiss study for the day>Change subject (to what?)>Ask for a key to lock a door.>Other? (write-in)
>>42304523>Dismiss study for the dayWe're tired, irritable and at each other's throats. I don't think. We'll make anymore progress today. >Change subject (to what?)The Rite, Caylen knows more about it than we do.
>>42304523The choices of >>42304577Along with >ask Ari how much she understood of that discussion - perhaps she's actually has an insight that we've all overlooked
>>42304577Dismissing study>>42304577about that Rite.>>42304608Asking Ari.Writing.
"I think we're done for now." You finally break the mutual silence. Rinnier just nods in acceptance, but Caylen sits up right as if he had just been caught sleeping during a lesson. "What? Why?" Though not angry, his distress is still clear. "Everyone's been working hard, and disagreeing even harder." your lips quirk half-heartedly, "We're not going to agree by arguing any more, and we're just at each other's throats right now. It's better to take a break, for now.""A break won't get us any progress either." He argues sedately, any heat from his objection lost under the resigned fatigue. "I guess it doesn't matter, though. We wouldn't be making any progress either way..."Well, there was one person you hadn't asked. "Ari, do you have any ideas?" You toss the question towards her half-heartedly, drawing the attention of Caylen and Rinnier as the humorous aside manages to lighten the mood. Perhaps it wasn't proper to laugh at Ari for not having the answer, given her lack of education was almost tragically severe, but the chuckles it had drawn out were more than appreciated. "...About the brigands?" Ari asked quietly, having looked between the three of you uncertainly from behind Rinnier's chair. You nod in affirmation as Caylen picks up the ball and explains your attempts to help them somehow. "...So they're not really bad?" She scrunched her face up in confusion, trying - for the first time in her life - to wrap her mind around the mine field of politics when she had not a month ago only ever needed to know to eat the food and water brought to her. "If it's just the c...crown?" She stumbles over the word, looking to Rinnier for confirmation she had gotten the right one, "Then.. why can't they just go somewhere else.""Somewhere else?" You ask, throwing the possibility onto the table thoughtfully. "Caylen, do you think we could deport them somehow? Somewhere safe?"
"No." He shook his head after a minute, "East Heaven's borders are shut tight, and the forest to get to them is..." He trailed off, a murmur of understanding flitting between Rinnier and you. "We personally closed borders with Ephlesia to the west. Getting them through there would be impossible, and... Well." He glances awkwardly at Rinnier, the spitfire nodding in acceptance of the unspoken southern option no longer being available. "What about the north?" You ask, trying to dig up some idea of what was up there. You knew there was a civilization of some sort, but it was mainly very unhospitable mountainous expanses. "Do we have any contact with the people up there?""We... Might." Caylen narrows his eyes as he rolls the idea around. "House Valen has some connections with the tribes up north." He chuckled to himself, "We have some connections with everyone, really... But getting them across the northern border wouldn't be very difficult. Security is lax in that direction, considering the atmosphere to the south and west, not to mention the eastern watch... Last I heard, the royals hadn't dedicated more than a token guard to the north.""It is nominally allied territory, is it not?" Rinnier broke in, "It would make sense to trust your allies to a point.""To a point, yes, but..." Caylen shook his head, "The north isn't a unified nation. There are mostly tribes up there, and while we have a friendly relation with a few of them, the terrain itself is as deadly and unforgiving as it gets."So getting them across was an option, and it might be possible to have a tribe accept them... But the life would be radically different, and even then-"Yes. They've lived all of their lives in these temperate lands. They're primarily farmers, and the game they hunt can't be much more than deer. Perhaps a bear at most. The land itself would be a tremendous shock, maybe lethally, if they don't adapt."
"Adapt... Couldn't the tribes help them?" Rinnier muttered, "If not take them in, maybe look out for them? Give instructions?""And create yet another tribe?" Caylen snorted, "I don't think they'd be too enthused with the idea, especially if it takes up more resources in that scarce wasteland."So it was just as difficult an option as the others.You lapse back into silence, Ari's posture slackening once she was no longer the unexpected center of attention. "Caylen," you speak up after a few minutes, grabbing your cousin's attention. "What do you know about this Rite?" He had mentioned Testaments and their origin before, so he had to know something. Almost anything would be more than what you knew now.But as he scratched his head, you let your hopes fall short. That kind of behaviour wasn't exactly fit for someone knowledgeable on something. "Not.. A whole lot. At least probably not anything of use to you." He shrugged, holding his hands up as if to apologize, "The historical origin of a Testament dates back as far as our archives will go. Evidently the founder of House Valen had a friend... Or a rival, the story isn't very clear. They went through a lot together, clashing with each other's methods as often as they ended up helping each other. In the end, what was left was a kind of mutual trust.""While the friend, or rival, or whatever they were turned out to actually be of quite a high pedigree, our founder was evidently an engima. There's no real records of them before House Valen was founded, and even now the event is sold that we've lost context for what was story and what was actual record."You hold up your hand, "As interesting as that is, what does this have to do with Testaments?""I'm getting to that." Caylen complained.
"You know how most of La'Fiel is forestry?" You nod along, hoping to speed up the process, "Originally all of this was supposedly part of East Heaven. They granted this central area to our founder a long time ago.""No, House Valen settled here after the royalty didn't it?" Rinnier spoke up in confusion, echoing your own lost expression. "It did, La'Fiel wasn't founded by House Valen by any means." Caylen agreed, "Our founder was just one person, and evidently they enjoyed wandering. They wandered a lot, all over the world really... The forest was evidently meant to be a place for them to finally call 'home', and return to. I suppose it had some kind of sentimental value, or perhaps it was a political move on East Heaven's part, but... It never actually bore fruit.""As you know, the current country of La'Fiel makes up the territory which had been granted to our Founder. Presumably they directed the first crown lineage to the land as a place to go. By their permission, La'Fiel's roots finally got started. House Valen itself was only established later, coming back to the newly christened La'Fiel and establishing itself here during the early seedling years, when the crown was struggling to build a nation.""...And this led to the crown and nobility sharing responsibility and stewardship of the land." You finish Caylen's story, getting a nod of confirmation. "But the Testaments?""Well... The term supposedly comes from a description of the founder's relationship with their rival. 'It was a testament to their character that even the greatest enemies could move at each other's backs so reliably.', or so the quote goes. The initiation rite, specifically for the main house, used to have some kind of connotation that the founder had wanted to pass down to the people who who would go onto lead House Valen.""And that was...?"Caylen shrugged.
"Lost to time? The best we can derive by context now is the ability to influence and lead people. The modern Testament rite is a test and trial to prove that you've the ability to inspire loyalty in someone... Or, in something as may be the case now I suppose. The meaning, and actual conditions, of the Testament rite seem to have slowly drifted over time.">Ask about the original crown>Ask about the rival>Ask about the founder of House Valen>Stop for now, it's getting late.>Other? (write-in)
>>42305067>Ask about the rival>Other: ask if he knows where any surviving records might be kept if they still existed
"That was a really long story." You sigh, "I barely learned anything about the rite." Caylen shrugged, "I told you it probably wouldn't be much use to you. It's mostly just history." You groan quietly, accepting the history lesson for what it was. You hadn't known that La'Fiel had originally been entirely Valen land... "Wait, why did East Heaven give you all this land?" You blink suddenly as Rinnier interjected, "La'Fiel isn't a small country, it rivals East Heaven in liveable land. You may as well say they split themselves in half... For one person?""Well, not in half. East Heaven is much larger than La'Fiel in total - Most of their forestry is just much more deadly. Taking only the liveable land at face value doesn't really reflect on the breadth of their nation." Caylen disagreed intellectually, "But it probably had to do with the rival.""You mentioned they had a high pedigree or something, didn't you?" You chime in, "Were they really influential to get kind of thing passed?""Eh." Caylen shrugged, "The details are sketchy. I doubt even the crown really knows the details, given that all of this occurred before La'Fiel even existed. Our Founder was not a auspicious record keeper by any means, so most of what we know is stitched together through old stories they'd tell. It's part of the reason we're not sure how much of it was fact or fiction at this point.""...So we don't even know if there ever was a Rival?" You deadpan, but Caylen once again muttered a disagreement. "No, it's a fact that East Heaven granted the land to our Founder, and their Rival eventually settled in East Heaven at the end of their adventures." He stretched, glancing back at library distantly, "If anyone still had records, we'd have to hope it was East Heaven. A transaction of that magnitude would have had to have made history for them, so they'd at least know the 'who's and 'why's."That didn't really help. East Heaven was completely closed down to you.
"Rinnier, did you know any of this?" You glance at her curiously, "You said your mother was from there, right? Did she ever talk about this kind of stuff?""No. Or.. I'm not sure." Rinnier admitted, "She left before I really had a chance to know her... I never heard anything like this from my father or brothers either, though."So there goes your leads.>Ask for a key to lock a door.>Ask about Valen archives>Change the subject (to what?)>Other? (write-in)
>>42305383>Ask about Valen archives
"What about our own archives?" You turn your attention back to Caylen as he perks up curiously. "What about them?" he asked, "I'm pretty sure there's no information about the whole La'Fiel origin there."No, no. You shake your head. "I mean where is it? At the head compound, right?""You've never been there?" Caylen blinked, starting to catch on. "I was certain you'd have at least visited, given your interest in Mana." "I'm not allowed to." You reply bluntly, narrowing your eyes in suspicion, "Due to some technicalities of being adopted by aunt and uncle, I'm counted as a branch member until I become head." He tilts his head, disbelief already beginning to melt over his face. "So I haven't been able to get access to the main house family Archives. Only the branch house, and even then, only certain aspects of it.""That's..." He started, shaking his head."Unfair? Not right? Pointless bureaucracy?" You rattle off bemusedly, "It's been a pain, believe me-""No, that I mean that's wrong." He finishes quickly, his brows furrowing as disbelief bleeds into agitation. "I can get into the family archives just fine as the son of the stewards. As acting heads, any direct familial relation to them under the Valen name is allowed access as main house members. You shouldn't be restricted from entering at all."...Your mouth slowly slides open, a bitter taste creeping up the back of your throat. Son of a bitch."Are you sure you haven't made a mistake?" Caylen tried, "Who did you talk to? Was it a misunderstanding?"
"No, it wasn't." You reply with a directionless acid. "I was specifically barred from entering, that entire explanation was belayed to me as the reason each time." So you weren't just kept out of society's sight, but banned from your own library? You're damn certain there's only one or two people with the kind of authority to set that up for so long. "I... Didn't know, Irue." Caylen's apologies fall on deaf ears as you move to stand, attention already stretching to somewhere distant."I'll look into it as soon as I can, there has to have been a misunderstanding somewhere." He's still talking behind you, but you're unsure how much of it is to you, and how much is him justifying and planning his future actions to himself. You can't bring yourself to pay it any mind, in fact your own mind kind of flatlined at that last revelation. It was rebooting, of course, but slowly. With some bizarre mixture of resignation and exasperation.And rage.But mostly the first two. "Irue, wait!""No need, I'm going for a walk." You reply absently, opening the library door as you stepped out.>Go for that walk.>Go to the next day.>Other? (write-in)
>>42305791>Go for that walk.walking generally calms people down
>>42305791>don't forget ari this time
>>42305897Going for a walk.>>42305912Not forgetting Ari.Writing.
I can't stop thinking about Nightgaunts.
>>42305971the nightgaunts are A. a lie B. supermagicalfun C. some cultist working with the cultist chick
>>42306045Nah, it's D: A explanation for people dissapearing formed in Irue's dying mind as she lies in a coma at the scene of her dear sister's "accident", slowly bleeding away as what mental faculties that remain try to make sense of what has happened.
>>42306126alright E: hallucinations stemming from brain damage after excessive feadka consumption
>>42299888First time seeing your quest, I was excited when I saw the name then disappointed when It wasn't a Babylon 5 quest
>>42306207I'm sorry, anon. If it makes you feel better, disappointment comes naturally here.Update shortly.
You stop at the door briefly, inadvertently actually doing what Caylen asked as you turned back towards them. "Irue, I'll definitely get this straightened out. This shouldn't-""Ari." You cut him off tonelessly, waving his promises off tiredly. "Are you coming?" She shakes her head quickly, tightening her grip on the forlorn fingerstick you had lent her to hold before trying to meditate. You tilt your head slightly, trying to reconcile her actions with everything you knew about her, but nothing clicked. Glancing between her and Rinnier, you realized she was just as confused about the whole ordeal as you were. "Rinnier, can-""-I'll look after her." She finished casually, waving you off, "Come back soon. I need to talk to you later.""...Ah." You close your mouth, uttering a small breath of affirmation as you turn to Caylen. "It's not your fault, don't apologize." You offer him a small smile, it's the best you can manage right now - it's exhausting even to get that. "Honestly at this point I don't know if it even matters anymore. If there's time later, maybe we can do something about it then."That was a big 'if' though. After this audience was over, you needed to resolve your issues with Roderik- Oh, you promised Rinnier too. Your schedule was complicatedly booked for what felt like forever at this point. Never the less, Caylen seemed to accept it as you turned to leave.You left the room for your walk, an aimless meandering meant purely to clear your mind. It was well beyond nightfall now, fully past the amber lighting of dusk, and by the time you had managed to come back from the fugue of frustration your latest discovery had sent you into, there was little but the crackle of bonfires along the walls and the occasional clinking of chainmail from the assembled guards in the night air. At some point you had wandered outside, calming down in the darkness and letting your eyes and mind begin to wander whilst you rubbed at your wrist.
You had spent almost all of today not researching. It was a thought that nagged at you as you leaned against the waist high wall to look out into the dimly lit expanse of forestry. You had learned at least three new possible ways to handle the audience, none of which were even close to something you'd consider a good solution... But with time drawing to a close, you'd be forced to make a choice soon.Part of you just wanted this to be over with already, to get back to what you had come here for in the first place. While it had hurt, and been physically exhausting, the time you had spent with Kara traveling to Carona and back had been new and exciting. It had caused problems, sure, but there was never this kind of stress eating away at you. You don't know how much time you have left, and the only thing keeping you from leaping the wall right now and disappearing into the night was the persistent phantom weight against your wrist. You had rubbed it away at first, but it was starting to become a nervous tick for you, a default reaction to anxiety. You had a lot of that.You sighed, letting the cool night air take your breath away.___When the next day dawned, you had planned to start researching. Both Rinnier and Caylen had contributed something to this, you figure it was time for you to come up with something yourself. This had been the plan, one you had immediately set towards doing... At least until Caylen met you at the library door. "We've got a problem." This was his morning greeting to you, even as you blearily blinked away the sleep. "What?" You manage to groan out, rubbing at your eyes in an attempt to work some visibility into them. "The brigands are back. They've sent a representative to the gate to announce their return for the audience."Oh good.You were awake now.>Meet with them immediately>Where's Rinnier?>Can you stall for time?>I really need a key to lock a door.>Provide excuse, run.
"Where's Rinnier?" was your first response, fired off almost in a panic as the reality of the situation set in. You had hoped you had more time, you had thought you had at least a few more days, but they were on the door step right now. Your mind started to split in half as the desire to just drop everything and make for the forest surrounding Caylen's estate intensified. "Last I saw, she was heading towards the gate to speak with the representative." Caylen responded, "This was maybe fifteen or twenty minutes ago, she told me that she had left Ari in her room though." Caylen verbally stumbled for a moment there, "She said Ari was used to being left in rooms, so it would be fine?"The last relay was more a request for explanation than an actual report, but you're too frazzled to bother with that. You were rubbing your wrist raw at this point, trying to think of what to do. If Rinnier had left to meet with them only a few minutes before you woke up, then there's still a chance for you to catch up with her before that meeting got too involved. On the other hand, if she had moved out to buy you time to wake up and collect yourself, then rushing in after her could backfire horribly. "Did she say what she was going to do?" You try to drag more information out of Caylen, some hint or clue, but he simply shook his head. "She seemed like she expected something like this, so she told me to pass a message on to you."He proceeded to grumble about not being a maid, that he had an entire staff for things like this, but none of that was particularly helpful to you so it was duly ignored. >Run to the gate to catch up with Rinnier.>I need a key to lock a door.>Drop responsibility, run.>Find Alouette>Other? (write-in)
>>42306739>>I need a key to lock a door.>Run to the gate to catch up with Rinnier.
>>42306739>>Run to the gate to catch up with Rinnier.
>>42306890Where she had gone.
>>42306873>>42306874Catching up with Rinnier>>42306873Key. Writing.
Need to pause the thread for a moment and take care of something!
Back. Resuming, sorry that took so long.
"...Look, I need to catch up to Rinnier, but first-" Caylen nods, "I'll send someone to keep an eye on Ari." He assures you."No, I need you to give me a key so I can go lock a door." You correct him flatly, catching your cousin completely off guard. "You... what?" you shake your head, "It's complicated, but I really need the door locked so Ari doesn't get in trouble." Caylen's confusion began to reach new heights, but he shakily nodded all the same. "I'll... I'll send a maid to lock the door?" He half-asked, and you suppose that's more convenient to you than having to go lock that room yourself."Thanks, Caylen!" You wave farewell to him as you start sprinting through the halls once more. "...Do they just lock the poor girl in rooms regularly?" He muttered to himself as you ran off.____You break out into the morning sun of the courtyard in a dead sprint, catching sight of Rinnier's brilliant red hair standing beside the man you recognized as the leader of the forward siege camp for the Brigands. He was the same one you had focused on when riding the wood golem, and the sight of that massive tree's husk still kneeling in the courtyard was evidently something that was causing him a great discomfort. Even from across the courtyard, the constant full-head swivels he took to stare directly at it were noticeable.You take a moment to straighten yourself out and smooth your hair down into something more approaching presentability, as opposed to the harried and rushed look of someone who had just sprinted through the halls in a mad dash to get to a late appointment. Everything felt mostly in order, a fact you made sure of as you used the husk of the wood golem to hide your approach until absolutely necessary."I apologize for your loss." You catch the tail-end of Rinnier's conversation with the older man as you frantically check yourself over for the finishing touches. "No, there's nothing you were responsible for."
You wince slightly as Rinnier's smile falters slightly, accepting his dismissal in stride as she continued to speak about a variety of things from the time they had taken, to the problems they had gone through to make it to this point. Through it all, the former-princess quietly gently coaxed more and more from the ragged looking man. Time had taken its toll on him, the body of a once hardy farmer whose broad shoulders tilled and culled the fields in seasonal tandem; Through rain and storm, legs like an aged oxen accustomed to pushing through muddied ground and striding the uneven path. Those shoulders hung low, a weight beyond the physical having been thrust onto his shoulders. From a simple glance you understand that leadership was not a choice, but a necessity. A mantle too ill-fitting, thrust upon him in a time of catastrophy. Unused to this responsibility, with held as the pillar to men and women alike who needed someone stronger to guide them in their loss... He spoke with Rinnier with a tired voice, calloused hands rising up to help illustrate points he couldn't articulate properly himself to the elegant young woman that had come to greet him.You blink, shattering the instinctual analysis of the man with as your eyelashes clashed together briefly. Rinnier nodded to you, reminding you to approach once more, and subtly draws the man's attention to you once you'd come close enough to introduce yourself.This was the last step on his journey. Trial after trial that you couldn't imagine, and at the very end, with hope in sight, so many loved ones who had relied on him were swiped out from behind him. It would be a cruel fortune if it were merely that, but crueler still that it had been caused by the very people that had given him that flash of hope in the first place.
You force a smile onto your face, feeling your own weight. The two of you are anything but happy, but you're resigned. For his sake, for what you've done, you had to do this. This was your responsibility. This is why I can't give up."Greetings,-"Why I have to keep moving forward."-We've met before, but-"If I fail, these people are the ones to take the fall.You bow your head slightly in acknowledgement to the man, one hand rising to cross your chest as you tilt forward in greeting."Allow me to introduce myself properly, my name is Irue." You acknowledge the name, hesitating briefly before continuing. "Irue Valen."With those words, the audience would soon begin.
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Valen+QuestAnd we are archived.I'll lurk the thread for a bit to try and answer some questions if I can.Apologies to all anons who participated in Valen Quest but died at their keyboards wondering when QM would finally stop.To those who did not make it to the end, we will never forget your sacrifice.
>>42309237So are we actually the Doppleganger?We does Irue feel the need to lock Ari up?
>>42309283Caylen misunderstood the request to lock a door. Unfortunately, Ari will be locked up in a room because of it.As for your first question... The answer is complicated, but in a sense I suppose you are.I was concerned as to how hint towards that effect without being too overt, but still obvious that discovering it later wouldn't feel like an asspull. There is a definite difference between the two of them, but they are essentially two parts of the same person... The fact the players seemed to have noticed so quick either means you were sharper than I expected, or I was too overt in my nuances.Honestly, I kind of feel like I failed in that regard.
>>42309417It was us missing the amulet, mostly. I assume the doppleganger wanted the door to Irue locked?
>>42309444I was honestly surprised how distressed you guys seemed to become when you realized the bracelet was missing.The door Irue wanted to lock was to the room Irue meditated in. Mostly out of concern that Ari would stumble inside. ___Question of my own for any players still alive at this point: Someone mentioned earlier that the usual timeslot I run in is kind of murderous. If there are different preferred timeslots, I can certainly look into them. No promises on being able to manage them, but I can keep them in mind for the future. As long as it doesn't involve exorbitant sun exposure, it may be doable.I don't have a lot of people playing, so I don't mind flexing my schedule a bit if it makes it more convenient for you guys.
>>42309417Not everything has to be a big SHOCKING TRUTH-secret. There's still plenty of stuff about this whole deal we don't know (such as whether being two Irues is a physical thing with independent bodies or if it's more of a gestalt consciousness deal, or like why Ari seems to be the only person who was able to notice something's amiss, to name a couple), so feeling mopey over people catching on to the most general part of it seems a little silly.
>>42309542Starting just after sundown EST would be best. So like 6 ish? I take it Real Irue is dead?
>>42309589Not mopey specifically, but if you enjoyed it then I suppose that's what mattered. Mostly I just wanted to do as good a job I could with it, so that the players enjoyed the ride, and didn't feel like they were being beaten over the head with it. I don't know how that came out in the end, so I can only hope it was executed decently.How Ari realized it is kind of simple, really. It's a little sad in how simple it is, though. She'll tell you, eventually. >>42309596Six... I'll see what I can do. I would like to try and run the next thread this coming Labor's day, or perhaps sunday into labor's day. I'll announce on twitter if I'll be able to, and what time I'll be shooting for.Also, you are Irue Valen. As I mentioned, one is the other, two sides of the same coin. One cannot live without the other, in some capacity. The relationship is... complicated. It will be explored, when it comes up later.