[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Settings   Home
/tg/ - Traditional Games

File: ValenQuest.png (128 KB, 640x480)
128 KB
128 KB PNG
You are Irue Valen, blood heir to a family of nobility so influential that it could very well be the reason the entire country of La'Fiel had been founded. With connections stretching the continent, and a history so deeply intertwined with the land that your predecessors had somehow managed to reach the point of becoming famous simply because they were famous. The sheer scale of feats you would need to accomplish to achieve that boggles the mind, but its the legacy you've inherited. Perhaps if your founder had been more apt to keep proper records, you'd actually know more about your history proper... As it stands, it seems the closest thing to a lead you have in that direction is held walled up behind the borders of East Heaven.

In the meantime however, you are now the proud owner of your very own knights! Nominally knights, at any rate. They were more accurately a motley handful of half-starved farmers, blacksmiths, hunters, and maybe some thrifts, turned brigand. It had been a long and stressful time leading up to your audience with them, and in the end it was Alouette's suggestion for conscription and a higher purpose that had been the deciding factor. Now saddled with this assortment of untrained knights-in-name-only, you belatedly realize the sheer amount of expenses you had taken upon yourself; A problem exasperated by the fact that you were still quite broke. You had been in the process of trying to acquire more resources when the issue with that ponce of an attendant cropped up, which you had been forced to put on the back burner until you resolved the aforementioned audience which led to your newly acquired knights and-

Things have just been really troublesome lately.

The good news is that you have managed to avoid civil war, though. Now you just needed to avoid a political scandal with the Shrine of Mana and you could return to just being a destitute noble with an entire mansion worth of untrained peasants to somehow turn into proper knights.
Their faith in you could hardly be described as 'shining' no matter how you look at it, with even the agreement for conscription having been a reluctant affair that took nearly three days to finally gain their grudging approval of. You had arbitrarily elected Dullem as Knight Captain, a position he accepted with humility in person and then groaned incessantly about ever after. The man was not a leader, never wanted to be a leader, and much like the rest of your so-called knights, held great reservation that any of them were fit for this role. Honestly, you agreed they weren't, and you'd have elected someone else Knight Captain if you even knew them well enough to try, but hierarchy and structure needed to be established quickly.

You reason it would be easier to establish and maintain that structure if they continued to take orders from someone they were already accustomed to following. For this reason, you could only offer a sympathetic smile to Dullem's groaning as beleagueredly realized his difficulties were far from over. The man had just wanted to go back to farming when all this was over.

As Alouette had said, knights were not born; Knights were made. What resembled rabble today could be proud tomorrow if given the chance... But it was both your responsibility to give them something to be proud of, and to be a person in their eyes worth following and laying down their lives for.

Right now, you're not sure they'd even lay down their soup for you.

Small steps.

With this in mind, you needed to shift your attention back to what you had initially come here for: Dealing with Roderick.
That self-important attendant of Gnome from Carona's Shrine had been a thorn in your side ever since you paid the place of worship and meditation a visit, and to this day you maintain that beating the town guard in a brawl and biting off a small chunk of his hand had been a justified course of action. Perhaps not the most noble or dignified, but you did the best with what you were given at the time in the face of their insolence.

Caylen had sent away some time ago for some friends of his in the Shrine to find if there was any kind of secret buried in Roderick's past that could give you some leverage in dealing with him. While you had considered a more direct approach, the feeling of putting him properly in his place and ensuring he realized just how insignificant he was in the palm of your hand was much more fulfilling than any more mediocre and mundane method of handling it... Like assassination. Or apologizing.

On that note, it was also only a matter of time until your secretary-slash-maid and feral Testament made their way back to you. It's difficult for you to understand how it could take them over a month to get to Carona, find out something about the Tiers, then come back to you. Granted the reason you sent them was to try and find Caylen, but... Hell, you had been at Caylen's house for over a week now. You WALKED to Caylen's house. What had they been up to that's kept them this delayed?

You shake your head, setting down the spoonful of cooled stew you hadn't actually eaten anything of.

>Talk with Alouette regarding your "knights"
>Discuss your next move with Rinnier
>Ask for updates from Caylen. He must have heard something by now.
>Go for a walk, observe your newly acquired military force.
>Other? (write-in)
Previous Threads:

Where things are said:

Pastebin Stuff:
Kara's Day Out - http://pastebin.com/8ZbiSKLs
Adventures with Asche - http://pastebin.com/RNviCBJu

Misc notes:
I keep trying to start the quest earlier, but it keeps starting later. Results pending as to whether trying to start it later will have similar reversed-effects.

We're actually on our second arc now!
>>Ask for updates from Caylen. He must have heard something by now.

Find our bracelet.
>>Discuss your next move with Rinnier
We survived a whole arc!
>>Other? (write-in)
Eat a couple bites of your Mana-damned stew, Irue. Until you've mastered the multitasking miracle of thinking and shoveling food into your face, even a couple spoonfuls of gross cold food is better than running on fumes.

>>Ask for updates from Caylen. He must have heard something by now.
Whether about the Shrine or news from the area that might help us figure out what's taking our away team so damned long. Either one is news worth hearing.

>a reluctant affair that took nearly three days
Please tell me Ari hasn't spent three days locked in her room because of a misunderstanding. That'd be a bit of a downer, even if she IS the member of our entourage with the highest proficiency level in "sitting in one place and not moving".


Find Bracelet

Eat stew.


She was locked in Rinnier's room until later that night when Rinnier actually tried to go to bed and found her door locked.
You take another glance at your stew. It was thick, filled with the cooked strips of freshly hunted deer and the well cultivated vegetables from your cousin's store. It was celebratory food to be honest, one that Caylen had been insistent upon - The celebration, not the food - ever since the audience ended. Of course the celebration hadn't lasted three days, but enough of this stew had been made that the rest of the estate had been eating off of it ever since.


Did you want a snack? Have a bowl.

Many of the staff were becoming sick of it, and even Caylen seemed to regret having been so enthusiastic in his order to make it so abundantly. Of course the former-brigands had been devouring it bowl for bowl each day, as it was most likely the most high-class and richly flavoured food they had eaten in perhaps a year. Simply having it handed to them each day had done wonders for their morale, which had been sunk so low as to have easily been mistaken for being half-dead on the ocean floor.

...Of course by the third day, even some of them were becoming a little tired of it. Not enough to deny it, but their enthusiasm in eating had dropped from a clamour to more subdued thanks.

That said, you hadn't actually eaten anything since you meditated four or five days ago. Not out of stress or lack of options, you just hadn't felt hungry. Even now, looking at this stew, you felt fine. Unfortunately this was starting to attract concern, which led to you trying to assure people that you were, in fact, not stressed out.

You were, of course. Just not to the point where eating would be a problem. Probably.

You shove the food into your mouth quickly, swallowing the thick and savoury spoonful without bothering to taste it, and then drop the spoon back into the bowl as you press the bowl away. It went down easily enough, but you still didn't really feel a difference. Either way, you had work to do still.
You immediately started to try and hunt down your erstwhile cousin. While he hadn't been particularly busy since the audience ended, but he hadn't been spending as much time around you as he had before then... Which was understandable, you suppose. There wasn't a common activity that required both of your direct attentions anymore, so it isn't as if there was a reason to have seen him as much.

But that still begged the question of what he was doing. This far out in the woods, what could your cousin possibly be doing day to day that occupied so much of his time? Reading? You had seen the man's library, and the most use it'd seen in the last four years happened this week. Training? While it was a possibility, if someone trained this long each day, you refuse to believe they would still be as bad as Caylen was. Hunting was likely right out as well, given he never seemed to actually leave his estate.

One hand absently rubs at your wrist. The phantom weight having been absent since the audience finally concluded - A fact you were inordinately grateful about. From time to time you still felt the inexplicable notion that your wrist was unnaturally bare without that bracelet, but you'd quickly disabuse the yourself of it. That accessory wasn't yours to wear.

You click the door to his office open, blithely striding through with a greetings flowing off your lips before you bother to really assess whether he was there or not.


Caylen sat at his desk, a number of papers spread out before him. From a glance they appeared to be ledgers, complaints, trade routes... Business related matters.

Honestly you had half-expected to walk in on something more embarrassing. This was a little disappointing.

"Do you have any updates regarding Roderick?" You take the initiative before Caylen actually has a chance to reply to your greeting.
"Actually..." Caylen mumbled after a moment's respite, running his hand over the scattered mess of a desk he kept until finally plucking out a sheet. "I've received a notice of an unusually high string of missing people in Carona." he handed said paper to you as he continued to go through his parchment piles. "Probably unrelated to your attendant, but it's concerning all the same. I would like to investigate it soon, maybe put some of the people's worries to rest."

Glancing through the sheet, you really don't see anything that could connect them. It's just a series of names.

"I had been checking family registries to try and make sense of it, too." Caylen admitted, motioning to his desk, "But I've had no luck with it. It just seems like random people to me."

Most of them weren't even really important... Except maybe the mayor's maid. Were the servants of important people also important? By extension, maybe? You shake your head, handing the paper back. "So nothing about Roderick, then?" While it was weird, the missing people wasn't expressly your concern. While they were nominally your people, you have some unfortunate past experiences with Carona. It was difficult to feel particularly interested in their well being, especially when you were in the midst of trying to shaft one of their Shrine attendants.

...No, that was wrong. It did bother you, but you needed to resolve this incident with Roderick before you became distracted again. You'd trust Caylen with it for now, and maybe try to help after your current problems were resolved.

"They did some digging and found a few things, but I don't know how it'll be of any use to you." Caylen shrugged, fishing out another set of papers for you.

You envy his ability to find anything in that chaos.
Roderick was an attendant of Gnome in the Shrine of Carona. Parents and most extended family were dead, but he had a brother whose where abouts were currently unknown. He was born in Carona, grew up in Carona, and worked several paltry jobs through his youth until he finally joined the Shrine at the age of twenty-nine.

Since then he had been a devoted and consistent attendant. With little family connections, he existed almost solely within the Shrine of Mana.

You flip the sheet, looking down the smattering of history gathered.

"...It says his parents are dead, but this says they're missing?"

"Missing for so long they were assumed dead." Caylen clarified.

"And his brother is missing, but not assumed dead?" You arch a brow curiously, and Caylen shrugs. "That's the consensus presented. I don't know the context behind the records. Perhaps he hasn't been missing for long enough?"

"His brother was younger than him." You note, looking back through the dates of birth, "If his parents had been gone that long, then Roderick was probably the one who had to earn money to raise his brother..." Your lips thin in thought, "Would these apprentice jobs really be enough to do that?"

"Perhaps if one lived frugally." Caylen hedged, "It would have been a hard life, though. One person might be able to make it, but two..." You glance at Caylen as he tries to figure something up in his head. "...I'd wager skipping one or two meals a day wouldn't have been unusual. Unless he found someone to shelter them, keeping down a house would have been impossible. The orphanage, maybe..."

Looking back at the papers, you can't seem to find any record of an orphanage. While it wasn't proof he wasn't there, it certainly didn't explain much more.
>Maybe blackmailing him was a bad idea...
>His brother going missing so recently is weird.
>There's probably something during his youth he isn't proud of that helped him keep food on the table.
>What happened to his parents?
>Other? (write-in)
>His brother going missing so recently is weird.
and while I am loath to point this out
>There's probably something during his youth he isn't proud of that helped him keep food on the table.
>His brother going missing so recently is weird.
If that's even what happened.
>What happened to his parents?

I for one would like to know his circumstances better before we start smearing him.
Quick question, it was mentioned that ari knew something was up immeadietly if we don't seem to need to eat, were we doing something obvious like not breathing?
or not casting a shadow?
That is not how Ari realized something was wrong.

Everything casts a shadow, anon. Irue is no different.
>His brother going missing so recently is weird.
>what happened to his parents
Missing Brother

Missing Parents

Probably something he isn't proud of.

"Do we know the last time his brother wasn't missing?" You hand the papers back to Caylen thoughtfully, "It's one thing for parents to have vanished, but if the entire family is starting to drop out of sight..." You let the thought trail off as Caylen grunts absently in agreement. "I can see why it'd be suspicious, yes." He conceded, "I can have it looked into, but I'm not certain anything will come of it; Especially any time soon."

Which was decidedly bad. You were already in a time crunch as it was. How long had it been since that fight in Carona? A month of walking, three or four days of frantic study, another three days of resolution.. It'd been at least four or five weeks since then, hadn't it? You doubted you had time to waste in finding dirt on Roderick when all he needed to do was write a letter and get it sent to your aunt and uncle in complaint. Assuming a day of recovery, the quickest he could have sent the letter was the following day...

So for all you know, his missive had been on the road for over a month. That's definitely enough time to have arrived already, and if your lucky it might be backlogged under other matters and thus not addressed yet.

You bite your lip, shifting from foot to foot slowly in thought. It was too late to prevent that message from getting there, so now your only hope would be to have it resolved before your aunt and uncle had time to address it. If the complaint could be rescinded, you'd still be in the clear, right?

If you had gotten to your cousin's faster, you'd probably have had a better position to work from. At the very least, you'd have had an alibi in the impossibility of having been in Corona one day, and at your cousin's the next. The sheer distance between the two would have shed doubt on the claims and given you some more wiggle room... But you had sent Kara with Asche to make sure she arrived at Carona safely, instead.
This wasn't a choice you regret.
Ensuring Asche's safety would never be something you thought twice about.

It did leave you in this position though, and you needed to find something soon or your standing in this rite would be in serious trouble. You couldn't afford to take your time with this, even more so if there was a very real risk that nothing would turn up. There was always the option of taking the matter into your own hands, of course. Now that you had a lead to go on, you could try investigating personally... But that would take another month of walking to Carona. Perhaps a week or less if you got a ride from Caylen.

Even better if the two of you worked in concert... But you'd also be up and leaving your newly formed knight corp effectively high and dry in the meantime. You literally could not afford to have them sent back to your mansion, considering you were completely broke, the main kitchen was completely broken, and you had all of no food left whatsoever after those Salamander apparitions got done with your pantry.

>Help investigate
>Leave it to Caylen
>Other? (write-in)
>Leave it to Caylen
>>Leave it to Caylen
Caylen's got this. We'll just wait and see.

You sigh. The urge to do it yourself was as strong as ever, but you didn't have nearly the connections Caylen did. Sure you could get a ride and be in Carona within a week, but then what? Avoid guards while trying to dig up dirt on an attendant of the Shrine through nothing but rumours? You might find something, but you'd also just as likely find more trouble. Given the choice, leaving it to Caylen may have been the smarter option, no matter how uncomfortable it felt to leave the matter out of your direct control.

Besides, you couldn't leave that soon after acquiring knights. You could have given them an excuse for it, such as them needing to be trained while you handle other affairs, but it still left a bitter taste in your mouth. "I'll leave it to you, then." You sigh, "We're running short on time to find something. That missive probably arrived at aunt and uncle's by now."

"It was never certain there was anything to find, Irue." Caylen reminded you doubtfully, "You just assumed there was something to use. There are plenty of people who are genuinely good individuals that just do their best each day; Roderick may be one of them."

You favour Caylen with a half-lidded stare, an unspoken doubt easily being transmitted to your cousin through the sheer disbelieving expression. He frowns at you, "It's possible, Irue. Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it's not true."

"I know, I know." You wave your hand dismissively as you leave the room, easily ignoring Caylen's suggestion of Roderick actually being a decent person. While it was possible, you would grudgingly admit that there were probably some people out there who were actually good people at heart, your practicality stubbornly reminded you that everyone had their secrets. Even Caylen, straight arrow as he was, was hiding something from you. If you could use those secrets to your advantage, then how good of a person someone was didn't really matter in the end.
Once you left Caylen's office, you found yourself once more alone with your thoughts. You had some new information about Roderick, but you'd already made your choice as to how to pursue it, effectively leaving you in Caylen's care until then. Honestly you weren't sure what else you had to do in this estate since he was already handling that, and the sole reason you saw for staying here had been quicker relay between him and you as to the current situation.

That was before you wound up with peasant knights. It had been three days since then, and only recently - Yesterday technically, as today was Dullem's first day as Knight Commander - had they even fully agreed to doing it, however reluctant they may have been. That said, with the audience over and little hope of more updates from Caylen for the next couple of weeks at the very earliest, what was on your to-do list?

>See if you can convince Alouette to train your peasants
>Try to get to know your peasants
>Talk to Rinnier
>Go Exploring (Forest? Mountain?)
>Other? (write-in)
>>Talk to Rinnier
>>Talk to Rinnier
Bring ari, talk with rinnier
Finding Rinnier.
Ari is with Rinnier.

Finding Rinnier was the easy part. When she wasn't busy, she was holed in Caylen's library. Everything she had complained about yours lacking could be found in abundance in his, a fact which left a slight sting on your ego in comparison. You suppose you couldn't fault her for the interest though.

You often forgot that Rinnier wasn't actually a local. While her history as the former princess of Ternaford was a fact that hovered to the forefront of your mind whenever the thought of her came up, it was an intellectual connection that never seemed to stick. Everything from the language of La'Fiel to its history, laws and customs were foreign to her. It was something of a testament to her own capability as royalty that she had adjusted so well as it was, swapping fluently to your own native tongue without so much as a hitch. While she hadn't outright mentioned having troubles, you realize she also hadn't exactly gone into society yet either.

For the most part, Rinnier had been either in your company, or the company of people used to dealing with foreign dignitaries, ever since she was claimed as a Testament and released from her bonds. Finally given the chance to actually read up on the borders she found herself within, it really wasn't any surprise that the library was primarily where Rinnier had chosen to devote most of her time to.

And with her...

Ari was still stubbornly clutching onto that forlorn finger you had told her to hold onto. Much to Rinnier's and your own confusion, she had evidently somehow ended up locked inside Rinnier's room the entire day of the audience. It wasn't as if she particularly had anywhere else to go of course, and of all your Testament, she was the one most apt to just sit in the corner of a room quietly for extended periods of time, but why?

Did she lock herself in? Did someone else do it?

Who would lock Ari in a room?

You easily drop that line of thought as you let yourself into the library, easily finding your two Testament amongst a small pile of books. The books were almost entirely Rinnier's, as Ari still had yet to learn to read, and you take a moment to add 'fluent reading' to your list of Rinnier's merits as you approach them. Ari's first to notice you, tensing her grip on that forlorn finger as she... Glared at you?

The realization of exactly what was happening brought you up short and very literally stopped you in your tracks long enough for Rinnier to notice the change in atmosphere and raise her eyes from the page. Looking between you and Ari, she couldn't help but wear a small frown. "Did you need something?" She shifted her attention primarily to you.

"There's been some news about Roderick." You explain after a moment, managing to ignore Ari's uncharacteristically petulant behaviour as you relay what you learned from Caylen to Rinnier. The discovery is honestly a little disconcerting, with much less ground covered than you had expected to have done by now. From the pursing of her lips, the spitfire Testament seemed to agree with that sentiment. "There likely isn't much time before his complaints arrive." She muttered, echoing a similar thought of yours from earlier.

"It's probably already there, just in processing." You agree absently, "Caylen's looking into his missing brother now. Something about his parents being presumed dead but the brother not has me suspicious."

Rinnier hummed a thoughtful acknowledgement, not so much an agreement as a sign she had heard you. "What do you plan to do if nothing comes of this?" She finally asked, setting her book aside once she realized this wasn't going to be a short visit. "This is probably your last chance to get a hold of some leverage in that regard."
You shrug, shaking your head. Honestly you had no idea where to go if this ended up failing. You had devoted too much time to it to go back now, and at this point, even if you succeeded, you'd at best be getting a rescinding of the complaint. Your aunt and uncle would still probably be looking into it once they heard of it, which potentially left you in an awkward position even if things came up positive.

"Then what are your plans in the mean time?" Rinnier sighed, "Since Caylen is the one looking into this again, I presume we'll be staying put? Are you simply planning to idle about until a result reveals itself, or did you have something planned?"

Well there was your peasant corp, still. You don't really have anything you could do with them personally aside from getting to know them, though. Even then, you're not sure if that's really a decent use of your time. You didn't recruit them to be your friends. Hell, you didn't even recruit them because you had a need for them. This was supposed to be their second chance at life, and you were kind of muddled on how to proceed from there.

There were the where-abouts of Jenseits, but Alouette yet assures you that she hadn't been on site. Pursuing that any further at this point seemed ill advised, considering all your leads on it had effectively gone cold or hit a dead end.

You had considered taking time to try and teach Ari how to read, but... Given her temperament now, you're decently certain that wouldn't be a successful venture at all.

What WERE you going to do in the mean time?

>Track down Alouette
>Go Adventuring
>Track down Dullem
>Ask Rinnier something (What?)
>Other? (write-in)
Ask ari what's wrong/ ask if rinnier knows what's up withe her.
>Discuss ways of getting money.
What's up with Ari?

We're broke.

Well, before you answer that question...

"Did I do something to Ari?" The hostility was pitifully weak, but compared to how much your timid Testament usually had, it was fairly concerning. She had been like this for several days now, and it was starting to become kind of worrying. Rinnier and you glance between Ari and yourselves, equally unsure of what to say on the matter. "Well..." Rinnier hedged softly, making a subtle motion towards the door as she spoke, "Nothing that I can really think of. Ari?"

Silence ensued, she wouldn't even talk to you anymore. You'd say she had taken several steps back in development if it had merely been shyness, but this was more an outright rejection to interact with you. In a sense, this was several steps forward - In the wrong direction.

Rinnier shrugged half-heartedly, "Maybe she's still mad about being locked in a room?"

The answer was unlikely, something you both accepted, and you kept Rinnier's indirect suggestion to talk in private later in mind as you shrugged in kind. "Then while we wait, one thing we'll need to do is figure out finances."

"...Finances?" Rinnier blinked, "Has something happened?"

Abruptly you remember you had never actually bothered to tell Rinnier that you were effectively bankrupt due to the Rite cutting cutting off your resources from House Valen's coffers. You had started to a couple times, but given the shaky impression she had of you at the time, you had decided to handle it on your own. Actually, you're not really sure that shaky impression had explicitly improved since then, either. Changed, certainly, but...

"Conscription happened." you start mindlessly, your mouth going on auto-pilot as your brain tried to click together some way to talk about this without actually telling her you were broke.
"Yes...?" Rinnier nodded slowly, "I admit the option was completely unexpected. I presume that it will be quite expensive to properly outfit them as well." She nodded, "I don't think taking on a few knights should be too much of a burden however. Perhaps it is fortunate that so many of them died, if this was going to be the option you chose." The words were crueler than her tone, delivered with a dry 'Silver linings' type of resolve. You can't find it in yourself to really disagree with that sentiment, no matter how tasteless it would have been to say such a thing in front of said peasant knights.

Behind these closed doors, you simply agreed with a sigh.

"Be that as it may, I'd still like to figure out how to cushion that expenditure in case we end up with more of them somehow."

"...Are you planning to hire a full army?" Rinnier deadpanned.

"No, but I didn't plan to conscript knights either." you retort, "I'd like to minimize this kind of impact as much as I can." The explanation was sound enough, but Rinnier's strange look still hadn't abated. After a while she simply shook her head, "I suppose if it's something you're so concerned with, then I don't mind helping you look over it. I have some experiences balancing funds and resources, so perhaps I can help."

Which was great, but...

"You don't happen to have your ledgers with you, do you? No, they'd probably be back at your estate. I suspect we will be going to get them?"

...You didn't actually have any ledgers.

>On second thought, I can handle it.
>Ideally I just need to figure how to MAKE money.
>Put off conversation until later, talk privately about Ari
>Other? (write-in)
>Put off conversation until later, talk privately about Ari
>>Put off conversation until later, talk privately about Ari
>>Ideally I just need to figure how to MAKE money.
Note particularly that we don't have a source of income.

How long can we skirt around the fact we're broke though?
Talking to Ari.

But we're broke. Money needs making.

I think it would be good if our maiordomus was present during this talk.
"Maybe." You offer non-committally, "It's more something that came to mind than a solid plan I had. Going that far just to get ledgers would be a bit wasteful considering our circumstances." You casually attempt to backstep out of the conversation, an effort that meets some degree of success as Rinnier seems uninterested in pursuing the topic to any serious end. She accepts your dismissal as she slides a mark in place in the book she was reading and moved to stand.

"Well if that's all..." She stretched, the ill-fitting fabric of your adjusted clothing straining at the act, "I'll be back in a moment, Ari." She murmured, cracking her neck in the process. You make your own way out, waving tentatively at Ari as you do so.

It's only a few moments later that Rinnier clicks the door to the library shut and joins you outside.

"So, what's going on with Ari?" You kickstart the conversation, turning towards Rinnier in time to catch her looking you over sceptically. You give her a moment to finish whatever she was doing, deciding to hold your tongue until she seemed satisfied checking you out. "...Well?"

"Do you remember when you came in a few days ago saying you lost Ari?" She asked absently, taking a step back so she didn't have to crane her neck down so much to see you. You knew she was a little taller than you, but you didn't think it warranted that much distance. "Yes, why?" you frown, trying to piece together what everything had to do with each other.

"She stumbled in and tried to tell me you were hurt." Rinnier explained with a small frown, "Of course you came in later and looked fine, so I thought she had been panicking over something. It's not like she didn't have a history of it." You nod in understanding. Before she was named Ari, there was a time where you referred to her almost exclusively as 'the panicky one' in your head.
"She's been stand-offish since then, though." Rinnier continued, "That night after the audience, she was locked in my room. None of us could really figure out who did it or why, remember?"

"Right. It's not exactly the first time she'd been locked in a room for a long time though." You laugh a little, stifling it once you realized sad it was. Rinnier flashed a small smile in response, "Yes. Ari was convinced you had been the one to do it, though." You blink, "Or, not you specifically, but..." Rinnier trailed off slowly, finally shaking her head. "She's been trying to convince me that something's happened to you. Like you're not you, or something like that."


"I humoured her at first, just to make her feel better, but at this point I don't know what's gotten into her." Rinnier grimaced, "She's just been clinging to that stick and staying with me. Honestly it's getting a little stressful." Rinnier had flat out refused to take that forlorn finger back, so having it be forcibly toted along behind her was probably fairly disconcerting. "Do you have any idea what's going on?"

Well, you knew exactly when this started. The answer of how it started was still eluding you, though.

"Well, whatever it is, try and get it resolved. I don't mind Ari being around now and then, but she's not my responsibility." Rinnier laid out her complaints in no uncertain terms. "Even more so for that stick-finger thing she's been carrying with her. I'll put up with looking after her for a little while longer if you can just get that thing from her."

>Have a talk with Ari.
>No promises, but you can always get her a room of her own somewhere.
>Keep it in mind, but put it off.
>Other? (write-in)
>>Have a talk with Ari.
>Other? (write-in)
Mention our meditation session.
Chatting with Ari.

Also we may have done a thing.

"Well... It started shortly after I tried to meditate." You suggest slowly, thinking back awkwardly to the events there-in.

"Meditate?" Rinnier echoed baffled, "How could you have hurt yourself meditating?"

"Meditating in accordance with Shade?" You offer, shrugging as if to say you weren't sure. "To be fair, some unexpected things happened during it, so she may have gotten scared?" Given what had occurred that time, the amount of ruckus coming from inside that room probably set her on edge quite a lot, actually. You had done your best to assure her you were fine though, and it had been several days since then. "Rinnier?" You slip out of your thoughts, finally noticing the partially blank, twitching expression on Rinnier's face. "...Are you okay?"

"Am I okay?" She hissed, "Are YOU okay? How do you even KNOW how to do that? WHO does that?!" Despite the perpetually rising urgency, the red haired Testament was thankfully keeping her tirade as silent as possible... At the expense of having begun to invade your personal space angrily. "You idiot, do you even know what Shade is? You don't just do that, people with death wishes do that!"

"I'm not that bad!" You protest reflexively, only stopping afterwards to try and discern just what exactly you were trying to deny.
You did try to kill me.

"Then are you an idiot?" She retorted venomously, "What even inspired you to go do that in the first place? Of course Ari is worried- Did you take her WITH you for this?!"

"Wha- No, no one else was there!" You shake your head, stepping back from Rinnier's advance in order to buy yourself some space; An action with little success as she simply stepped up unabated. If anything you might have lost an inch or two in that feeble attempt to retreat. "I gave her that forlorn finger and just told her to stay outside!"

"What happened?" She ignored your protests, "You said something unexpected happened."
You weren't aware Rinnier could loom over you like this. "What. Happened."

"I handled it before I left." You find some ground to brace yourself against, finally ceasing your backstep as you mounted a counter-attack. "It's not like this is the first time I've done it, I'm not an amateur. You already knew that I had an entire library of books on the Mana, Rinnier. Why wouldn't I know the various disciplines of Mana Meditation?" Words flowed from your mouth, quickly piecing together an argument, "I had everything under control."

"If everything is under control, then why won't you tell me what you did?" She fumed back frustratedly.

"I... may have conjured an apparition accidentally."

"You what."

"Accidentally." You emphasize, "And I subdued it before I left, so there wasn't a problem."

There was a brief moment where you wondered if this was the face Rinnier wore when restraining the urge to reach out and strangle someone. Perhaps fortunately for you, she stepped away before it came to that, hands rapidly coming to your temple as her whipped around in the resulting heel-twist that led to her stalking away several feet.

"Do you... Know what Shade apparitions are?" Rinnier managed to choke out after several moments. There's a slight twinge of indignity as you affirm that yes, you're well aware of what they were. Constructs born of fear, insecurities, and hesitation. They were derived from the Mana of Shade, taking after its nature in their desire to test people's limits to help them exceed what was holding them back-

"That's one romantic view you have of them."

"You read that from books, probably, but you've never actually seen a Shade apparition have you?" Rinnier pressed, "You don't understand them at all. Those things don't HAVE good intentions, Irue. They're born of negativity and lingering resentments. They kill people, Irue. That's their sole existence in this word, simply to be vicious and drag people into misery. 'Shade take you' isn't a curse for self-improvement!"

You open mouth to respond, but between your mind blanking from offense and Rinnier's continuing lecture, you can't get a word in edgewise.

"People who worship Shade are almost always criminals, Irue. They aren't right in the head, and they end up causing trouble for everyone and every thing around them. The longer you attune to that... That malevolence the more warped you become! It twists your mind!"

Calm down.

"You... You were skipping researching to do that? That, of all things?!"

"Forgive me for being nervous about making a decision!" You snap back hotly, "I needed-"
What did I need again?
Peace of mind? To not be strangled?
"-Peace of mind!"

"But that's not how it works, Irue." Rinnier stressed, "Meditation to Shade doesn't help anyone, it just invites madness and violence!"

"Then why is it a part of the Shrine?" You retort steadfastly, refusing to give ground on this one point. "In any Shrine you go to, the seven Mana's shrines are divided up, each of them have a place in society."

"Have you ever seen someone in Shade's Shrine?" Rinnier groaned, "Shade is part of the Mana, so of course it has a place in their Shrine, but no one actually worships that damned thing."

Are you crying?

"Mana, no wonder Ari's been worried since then..." Rinnier spat, "Luna only knows what happened in there."
>Shove past Rinnier, talk to Ari. This ends now.
>>Shove past Rinnier, talk to Ari. This ends now.
None of these options are good.
Rolled 1 (1d2)

1. Talk to Ari

2. Accost

Dice gods guide us.
You reign in the urge to leap at Rinnier, clamping down on the surge of aggressive feelings as you grit your teeth and focus on tuning her out. There were misconceptions happening here, and cultural biases at work. Just because she said something didn't make it true. After regaining some semblance of center, you shake your head and push Rinnier aside.

"I'm going to talk with Ari."

You interrupt Rinnier dryly, not bothering to muster an apology for having shouldered past her as you go back into the library. The door slams shut behind you, closing a little more forcibly than you had intended, and leaves an echoing herald of your arrival for the rest of the room. You stand still for a moment, waiting for it to end - Waiting for Rinnier to come in after you - but after several breaths, nothing else happens.

A quiet sigh escapes you, and with it a great deal of tension leaves your shoulders. You mad. Furious, even...
You're mad. I'm just disgruntled.
But acting on it wouldn't help. Already you could feel the phantom weight pressing against your wrist as you try to calm yourself down and refocus.

Ari was further in at the table still, and right up until you had come in, you suppose she had been waiting relatively patiently. Now though, the grip on that forlorn finger was tight enough to whiten her knuckles even from this distance. You open your mouth to greet her, but find your voice still isn't quite under control... You swallow instead, raising your hand awkwardly to greet her as you approach.

"We need to talk." Are the words that finally escape your lips as you sit down across the table from her. "You'll do that much, right?"

"..." She hadn't tried to stumble away, but the wordless response and glare weren't entirely encouraging. Still, if she was going to wait, then you could at least start the conversation.
How to start this... "I understand you've been worried about me?"

"No." She shoots you down instantly with her silent refusal. "Not you."

If it wasn't you she was worried about, then-
You stop, realizing exactly where you had gone wrong. Rinnier had more or less confirmed it just now, but you had hoped to brush past that.

"It's... More complicated than that, Ari." You sigh, "You're worried about Irue, I get it, but-" You hold up a hand, gesturing to yourself, "I am Irue. Sort of."

She shook her head, denying that as well. Why was this so complicated? "Do you know what a Doppleganger is, Ari?" You try a different route, "It's a type of Shade apparition, born of someone's-" You stop for a moment, trying to find a way to phrase this that didn't seem pathetic. "-concerns. It's a part of them, and the doppleganger feeds on those concerns to grow, eventually mimicking its parent."

You had her attention now, at the very least. She looked no friendlier than she had a few moments ago, but she was much more inquisitive once you had mentioned 'Mana'. You feel a little pride at that, given that it was you had initially turned her onto learning about them. Of course the actual growth cycle of a doppleganger ended with them consuming the parent entirely and taking their place, but yours had...

"When I meditated, something happened... And then something happened again." You try to explain vaguely, not really understanding what had led to the events the transpired back then, "I am, Irue Valen though... A part of Irue, at least."

"Doppleganger." Ari repeated accusingly.

"...Yes." You couldn't actually deny that, though there was no splendid dramatic reveal, or supernatural melting into some formless shadow. You were Irue Valen, after all. "Irue is fine, I'm fine, we're just... Stuck."
"Stuck?" She narrowed her eyes disbelievingly, "Why?"

"We don't really know. This isn't normal, I don't even want to be here." Your explanation leaves much to be desired as your own thoughts start to bleed into it. "Irue- The other one, the real one. The bracelet holder. They did something, dragged me here. I'm trapped here, and I can't leave."

"What about Master?" Ari mumbled.

"I just told you, we're stuck." You sigh, "If I knew how to separate, I'd have done it already. I hate this place. I don't want to be here. I don't want to do any of this."

She doesn't seem entirely convinced.

"Take me back there."
"That room... Take me back."

>No. It's dangerous for her to go in there.
>Yes. If it'll convince her, you'll do it.
>Other? (write-in)
>>Yes. If it'll convince her, you'll do it.
I wanted to add a small clarification regarding this.

>Talk to Ari
is what won the vote, and so it was going to happen regardless. Rinnier yelling about meditation was a result of the (other) write-in which got included.

The fact that the subsequent update did not immediately have you talking to Ari, but instead being yelled at by Rinnier, doesn't mean it wasn't going to happen. The Ari-chat was put into queue to occur at the end of the given event chain, but the results of the write-in necessitated a small intercession between it being completed and Ari conversation, if that makes sense.

Voting for it in the next update was a method of forcibly by-passing that chain to get to the end, even though it would have gone through eventually whether it was voted for after the initial majority vote queued it or not.

I've done this a few other times in the quest so far, but I thought I'd take a moment to explain the thought process behind it this time. I tend to try and sort the results in order of what will take the least, and most, amount of time to follow up on as well as which event anon voted to want to continue from primarily.
This tho. Writing.
"Alright." You hold your hands up, conceding defeat. "If it'll convince you, I'll take you."

You weren't entirely sure it was safe for her to be in that room, but at this rate it seemed like it'd be the only way to get her to stop being so resistant. Beyond that, it wasn't as if you could just let the matter drop now that you had explained yourself to her. Especially considering her go-to in the first place had been Rinnier...

The last thing you wanted now was for Rinnier to find out what you had just told Ari.

When you step out of the library, Rinnier is long gone. Part of you knows you'll need to apologize for it later, or make some kind of peace with her, but another remains as indignant and offended as it had been moments ago. There would be internal conflict before this whole matter was properly compromised on somehow. That was for another time though, as you glance back to see that Ari was following you with forlorn finger firmly in hand.

You nod, holding out your hand to help her, an action which is promptly ignored with a flat stare. Without further attempts at pleasantries, you start towards that particular room. It's slower going than you expected, primarily due to Ari's weak physical nature. Your time away from her hadn't exactly caused her to become an entirely self-sufficient mobility unit, and if you hadn't given her that forlorn finger, you doubt she'd be able to hobble for very long at all. Still, it takes you a good fifteen minutes to finally reach the room and when you do, the door sits as closed and innocuous as ever before.

There's nothing interesting in this room. No reason to go inside. Nothing of value to anyone save perhaps a thief after whatever they could find.

All the same, you still don't want to open the door.
You shake that aside, forcing yourself to open the door for Ari and reveal the room to her. Just like before, there's a singular column of light from the hall that shines into the darkened room, revealing several pieces of broken pottery littering the floor as well as a broken table leg. You step inside after her, watching a little anxiously as she looks around the room. There's nothing in this room for her to find, but she takes her time poking around it quietly anyway, stopping to look at the patches of destruction you had left in your struggle.

"Where...?" She finally turns back to you, leaning against the forlorn finger as she frowns. "I told you, I was Irue." You reply tiredly, sighing as you gesture towards the shadow that stretched into the room.

There was nothing in this room that wasn't anywhere else, but it was only in here, for some reason, your shadow could act of its own accord as it waved to get Ari's attention. "As far as I can tell, that's the Irue you're looking for... But we're both Irue. We're always together."

The shadow holds up its hand, tapping soundlessly at the subtle outline of a bracelet on its wrist.

You try to ignore it, and the phantom weight on your corresponding wrist, as Ari kneels down and nervously pokes at the ground. Little more comes of it than a light tapping sound from her finger hitting the wooden floor, but you can't do much but lean against the doorframe and wait for her to be satisfied.

After several minutes of trying to get her hands on your shadow, you're starting to get anxious. It was one thing for Ari to know, and be doing this, but if someone else walked by...

"Is this enough?" You interrupt her, "Do you believe me now?"

"You aren't Master." She glared weakly at you, "Just a copy."

"We're basically the same person!" You try, but the flat 'No' you receive as she outright rejects your existence flatlines that.
"Will you at least stop being so stand-offish with me? It's starting to bother Rinnier." You try a different approach. If she wasn't going to like you, that was fine. You didn't... You kind of did like her. Worried about her... Maybe. It was difficult to tell where Irue ended and you began, and it grew more difficult each day. You were okay with her not liking you though, you weren't her Master. Much like the bracelet your shadow wore, Ari wasn't something meant for you.

But if you were going to be stuck here, you'd at least like her to pretend to get along with you.

"Look, if Rinnier finds out then we'll both be in trouble." You plead, absently referring to you and your shadow as opposed to you and Ari. "You want to protect Irue, right?"

You WERE Irue, but that wasn't really worth arguing right now.

"... Conditions." She finally answered, looking as if she had tread foot onto unstable ground. There was a determination there at least, one that elicited yet more unattributed pride for her finally making a stand for herself.

...You just wish it wasn't against you.

"I want this room." She stated softly, "...And you have to stay here."

"Share a room?" You repeat, but she shakes her head quickly. "My room. You just stay here."


>Other? (write-in)

Touch your shadow where the bracelet is
You exhale heavily. The conditions weren't terribly inconvenient, and you vaguely remember her ending up sleeping on your bed back at your estate, too. "That's fine." You agree easily, "If that's what it'll take, then I'll talk to Caylen about it. Rinnier, at least, will be glad to have you out of her hair."

You weren't looking forward to spending any extended period of time in this room, just being here made your skin crawl, but you didn't really have a choice.

"Promise." She interrupted you as you turned to leave, for once staring right at you as sternly as you could remember the timid Testament ever being. That is to say, she still looked remarkably similar to disgruntled kitten that had recently stumbled into the water bowl, but it was the thought that counted. "Fine, I promise. If I tell you I'll do it, then I'll do it." You sigh, waving your hand-

"No." She tightened her grip on that forlorn finger, "Promise better."

What was she, si-... Okay, she had been a slave for most of her life. That wasn't exactly a fair comparison. You wrack your mind for something to appease her, finally kneeling down to place your hand against the floorboard, lining up with your shadow after a moment's effort. "I promise that I'll do the things."

You're not sure why this was any better to her, but Ari seemed to accept it this time. You shake your head, leaving her in the completely uninteresting room - It was her room now, or it would be soon at any rate, so it wasn't as if you could rightly tell her to get out. You'd need to go talk to Caylen about this...
Of course Caylen was fine with it, though you had to come up with an excuse for the odd behaviour to be sure... In the end, the room was completely unused anyway, so it wasn't as if he had a better place for it to be. When it came to why you'd be staying in it with Ari, the answer was simply that she felt more comfortable when you were around. As Rinnier and Alouette could vouche for this fact, recent events not-withstanding, it was more or less the truth as well.


"When you said I'd be staying here..." You grumble, having been standing in place against a small lamp for the past half hour or so, "I didn't really expect you to mean... staying still."

Ari had plopped down on the floor in front of you, curling her head onto a pillow and getting what looked like the first good sleep she'd gotten in days as she laid in the middle of your shadow. You had shifted from time to time before she fell asleep, receiving a weak glare of annoyance from the otherwise timid Testament until you resumed standing still... Despite the fact that your shadow never actually moved with you unless you started taking more drastic departures. Eventually, despite the heat on your back and the distinctly uncomfortable feeling of your hair warming up, she had managed to either tire or bore herself to sleep by sitting next to your shadow.

What were you supposed to do now? This wasn't at all how you had planned to be spending the rest of your time here, and now Rinnier was mad at you too.

You'd resolve things with Rinnier later, when the thought of her didn't actively start to offend you again, but that still left you with the question of how to handle this... At the very least, maybe try and negotiate your confining to night time only, so you still had the days free.

You weren't a damn doll to be played with or used.
I'm not really happy about it, either.
Your shadow propped its head against its fist, looking for all the world as disinterested in the proceedings as you were.

Tell her I still need you to do things?
You tried that. She had completely rejected you.
...Take her with us, then?
Did you have to? You were really starting to dislike this girl, and she'd just slow you down anyway.
Responsibility is another part of being me, and that includes taking care of Ari.

It was currently night time. As a doppleganger, darkness is as clear to you as bright lights, so the night wasn't much different for you than the day. Given the time, you're relatively certain everyone but the nightshift of Caylen's staff had gone to sleep by now - Including Caylen. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on how this went, you didn't need to do a lot of things actual people did. You could eat, but you were never hungry. You could drink, but never got thirsty. You were breathing more by instinct than any actual necessity.

What you had initially passed off as nerves for the past few days was in fact the complete inability to actually sleep, leaving you in this lovely situation of having been standing in front of a lamp for most of the night until Ari fell asleep.

Either way, she was asleep now. You weren't just going to sit here any longer.

>Go for a walk through the estate
>Go exploring (mountain? forest?)
>Try and devote some time to experimenting with your dilemma (what? how?)
>Other? (write-in)


>Take Ari with you
>Sneak out without Ari
>Try and devote some time to experimenting with your dilemma (what? how?)
Try in the darkness touching our shadow. Meditate perhaps. Try thinking confident thoughts?
>Go for a walk through the estate
>Take Ari with you

While walking.

With Ari.

I need to afk briefly, though. Shouldn't take long.
Much as you're loathe to do it, you can't leave her here. You could, it's not a physical impossibility by any means, but the thought of doing so bothers you. More than it bothers you, it also causes that phantom weight to start pressing against your wrist, which is a lot more problematic to you. It doesn't take much effort to bend down and scoop Ari into your arms, a movement swiftly followed by the sleeping Testament drowsily wrapping her arms around your neck and nuzzling into your shoulder as she drifted back to sleep.

For all intents and purposes, you were Irue Valen. The only real objection she seemed to have to you was when she was awake, it seemed, and for this brief moment you can almost agree that she is somewhat adorable in her own helpless way. It is an exceedingly brief moment, overruled nigh-instantly by the memory of being strong-armed into standing in front of a lamp for over half an hour. For someone who you remember as being timid, she was surprisingly straight forward and brutal when it wasn't... You.

Regardless, you decide to spend the night taking a walk. As long as you avoided the courtyard, you doubted you'd run into many guards. It gave you some time to try and think over your problem. Well, you had known about your problem for several days now, but until Ari had entered the equation, and Rinnier's outburst, you had more or less resolved to just try and do the best you could.

Now, though... You really, really didn't like this place.

The problem is that you really didn't have much clue as to where to start. You were at home in the dark, so you thought maybe you'd be able to figure something out at night, but...

You set Ari aside and do all manner of things from trying to grasp your shadow (which was rather difficult to find in the dark), to trying to think positive. That second thing was harder than it sounded, considering how very little you had to be particularly happy about in the situation.

Nearly an hour later of trying to do just that, you come to the disturbing realization that you either can't, or it doesn't matter. In the first place, what discipline do you even try? While you don't believe a word of Rinnier's ranting, if you accidentally summoned another doppleganger into this mess, you'd just make it worse... But whoever heard of a Shade apparition trying to attune to something else?

Try it anyway.
Try what? Which one?
I know all of them, so do your best.

So of course you had. Anything in desperation, right?

...But nothing.

Even when you had broken down and tried to use the darkness for Shade's meditation, the only noteworthy thing to happen was a singular clarity of thought. It was refreshing, like a fog you never realized you were under had cleared... And then it was gone, just as soon as you realized it happened.

Of course, you were a doppleganger, an apparition of Shade, so trying to attune yourself to Shade should be common sense... But it seemed like your identity crisis had left you not quite apparition, yet not quite human in your view of the world.

This left you more distressed than you started.

Try that again. I felt something.

You glance back at your shadow in the darkness, miserably thinking back to the shade meditation disappointment. On one hand it might help you learn something, and you did enjoy being able to think clearly again... But on the other, if you messed up like you - Like Irue - had initially...

>Meditate again
>Try something else. (what?)
>Meditate again
You settle back down to try and reattune to Shade one more time. It was selfish, but you wanted to feel that haze lift one more time.

With the darkness all around you, it isn't difficult for you to start getting into the proper state of mind - Made even easier simply because those insecurities you needed to bring to mind were literally what you were born of. You had plenty of concerns to bring to bare, and even more of your own that had begun to crop up... And it was finally allowing yourself to revel in those that you felt the clarity begin to trickle back into place. A separation in your core, clarification of who you were, of what you are.

Shade apparition.
Manifest Insecurity.

"Well it's not what I expected." You open your eyes, briefly catching sight of your own shadow - of Irue Valen - standing upright from the ground in front of you. Not simply a shadow, but the same living, breathing flesh that you had worn since you that meditation before the audience. Stubbornly long blonde hair dulled in the dark, crimson eyes as sharp as ever, inspecting pale sun-untouched skin with a furrowed curiosity.

For a brief moment, you weren't Irue Valen. You knew exactly what you were, and who that was, and the world was correct.

"You got excited, didn't you?" Irue frowned, their face dissolving into the air even as you felt the tell-tale joy in your heart at having once again returned to your roots.

Joy... Joy, no this wasn't your roots.

I didn't know this was possible. You dropped to your knees, grasping feebly at the shadow that was Irue Valen - That should have been you. As long as you're me, I guess you can't be you... Or something like that. Your frantic clawing of the wood slows to a stop, physically unable to claw the shadow off the surface even as it seemed to mockingly mimic your every move.
They say that when you meet your Doppleganger, one of you has to die.

So close... You were so close.

I wonder if this is the normal progression for Dopplegangers... I'd never heard of it, but I suppose it wouldn't be common knowledge even if it were.

You don't know, neither of you knew, and you knew that because you knew what Irue Valen knew. Would the books back home help? It was a possibility, but you had already read them all cover to cover... This should have sparked some kind of memory between the two of you. If you were still literally and figuratively in the dark, then the answer probably wasn't there.

If not there, though, then where? Was this something you'd just have to muddle through on your own?

A Shade Adept or Aeon may know.

That... That might be an option. Where were you going to find one of those? As much as you hated to admit it, Rinnier had made a fair point: There were rarely any people actually in the Shade section of a Shrine as far as you could remember. It wasn't as if you could just walk into a Shrine and get directions.

...There was always Ephlesia. It was a heavy center for Aeons and Atelier-

Ateliers. If you could find the Atelier of a Shade Aeon, there might be something there. You could feel hope start to bubble confusingly inside of you once again, even as you duly ignored your shadow's attempts to warn you that indulging in it probably wouldn't help - This felt too intoxicating to let go of now.

The morning would probably come soon, but you had a couple of hours left and you finally felt like there was a direction for you to go.
We already have a direction. Roderick comes first, and getting money for the knights.
But... Those weren't going to get you back to being what you should be-
You're living my life, I'm not living yours.
The phantom weight of a bracelet pressed into your wrist ominously.

This wasn't a negotiation.

You have a few hours until dawn. How do you spend it?

>Indulge in meditation to try and prolong your clarity.
>Briefly explore (mountains? woods?)
>Just go back, Ari might wake up soon.
>Other? (write-in)
>>Just go back, Ari might wake up soon.
Pretty certain you're the only player around right now, so gonna cut voting short and get to writing.
>Indulge in meditation to try and prolong your clarity.
Given the progress you made, you decide it would be better to play it safe and get Ari back to her room before she properly wakes up. Scooping her back up and making your way back is a quick affair, much quicker than convincing her to untangle herself from your neck in order to put her back down on the pillow she had fallen asleep on initially.

A few hours later, you notice the timid Testament twitch slightly, one hand weakly pawing out against the floor as she rubbed her other eye awake. There's a moment of confusion as she finds nothing but the cold ground. "Good morning." You greet Ari a little stiffly, stretching your neck to the side with a slight crack. "We've got things to do today." Your words go generally unheeded as she double checks to make sure your shadow is still right where she left it, and otherwise seems to simply ignore you.

Your brow twitches inadvertently, "You remember our deal? I did my part, so at least try to be a little friendlier, alright?"

She gives you a dubious look, dull brown eyes half-obscured by equally sleep-tangled hair providing an expression that almost oozed a barely tolerated displeasure. She nods though, finally agreeing to uphold her end of the deal as she sleepily crawled over to the discarded finger and once more grabbed hold of it like it was a safety blanket.

You shake your head, clicking the door open to leave.

Even the slight sound of the door swinging on its hinges was nearly enough to obscure the silent 'Thank you' muttered from behind, even it came almost as a grudging after thought. You accept it for what it is, not bothering to try and start another conversation as you leave Ari's new room and flip through your mental itinerary.

Caylen? You just got an update yesterday, you doubt anything's changed.
Rinnier? The pit of your stomache still burned from your argument with her.
>Ask Alouette stuff
>Track down Dullem
>>Track down Dullem

Out of Curiosity why is Irue Not taking her life back when the Doppelganger is all but giving it back to her? Is she just being lazy?
If Irue knew how, it would happen. As it is, much of what's occurring is uncharted and unfamiliar ground. For both of them.

Neither of them are particularly happy with the results right now. Irue's displeasure with it is just less noticeable as the doppleganger is your current focal point.

How you go about resolving the situation over time will affect some things.
Tracking down Dullem wasn't difficult. One step beyond the gates of the courtyard brought you face to face with the pitched tents of your brigand knights. More accurately you supposed they were peasant knights, and more accurate still you could probably just call them peasants... But they were supposed to be your knights, so that was the operation you planned to work under for the moment.

From there it was just a matter of getting directed to Dullem. While not necessarily friendly, the majority of the people were pleasant and helpful enough to direct you towards their nominal captain for whatever your concerns were as they started to filter about camp with bowls of familiar stew. You draw in a deep breath as you walk, inhaling the mixture of cool forest air and the tantalizing yet simultaneously unappealing smell of the stew while you made your way through the crowd to the man you were searching for.

"Already eating breakfast?" You seat yourself across from him in concert with your lazy greeting, taking a moment to straighten your posture as you drew his attention. "Good, we'll have things to do soon."

"...Things?" He swallowed the spoonful of stew after a moment, looking at you as if you had just come to hand him a box of snakes. "Like what?"

These were not the words of an enthusiastic knight captain about to receive his orders. These were the words of a drowsy farmer being set upon by a noble early in the morning while he tried to have breakfast. While one was strictly more accurate a description than the other, you still frowned at the realization of how long you had to go.

Well, this was for that end result anyway.

"Call it a bonding experience." You smile thinly, "And maybe a drill or two. I trust you and your men have a rough idea of what's in these woods?"

"Unfortunately." He answered unenthusiastically, "Why?"
"I want us to go hunting." You answer simply, "I'm sure you're all starting to get tired of stew, and I think some team exercises would help everyone get more accustomed to this knight idea."

"Most of us don't actually know how to hunt very well." Dullem muttered between bites, "We have some hunters who've got some skill, but they're used to working alone. Less people, doesn't spook the game."

"I'm not looking for you to become hunters, and if the game being scared is a problem, we can always hunt something bigger that won't get scared."

"..." One spoonful of stew halfway to his mouth, Dullem finally pauses his breakfast to pay attention with a frown concerned frown beginning to stretch anxiously across his face. "What do you mean 'bigger'?"

"The way I see it, we have two environments to go hunting in. You're familiar with the forest, but my cousin also has his estate built up next to a mountain. Depending on where we go, we'll have some different options to try and tackle." You lay out your plans, but Dullem shakes his head and holds his hand up. "No, no. Wait a sec', go back for a moment.... What did you mean by hunting bigger game? What kind of hunt are you even thinking about?"

"In the forest there are probably wolves, bear, oakenbear..." Dullem's spoon drops numbly from his fingers, "I'm not sure about the mountain. I'd have to ask Alouette or Caylen."

"You want us to hunt an Oakenbear?!" He nearly choked, "Are you mad? We'll die!"

...Ah right, people were afraid of Oakenbears. Given your experience with them so far, you can't say you can really sympathize. On one hand, they weren't anything to take lightly... On the other, actual fear?


>Hunt in the forest
>Hunt in the mountain
>Get Alouette's opinion
>Change your mind. (Do what?)
>>Get Alouette's opinion
I'm curious about mountains.
>>Get Alouette's opinion
Half an hour later found you meeting with both your erstwhile Knight Captain and the ever composed Guard Captain of Caylen's estate simultaneously. You spared a thought to the fact that Dullem's title was actually much more impressive than Alouette, but you had little recourse in the matter now. Though the woman herself didn't seem to mind as she exchanged polite greetings with Dullem, the former-farmer's posture was filled with awkwardness. Not only was he thinking similar thoughts as yours, it seemed he was rather self-conscious about it.

Unfortunately the title was partly for morale reasons. Being recruited as 'guards' wasn't nearly as uplifting as being a 'knight', even if the duties you planned for them to perform were effectively the same. For this reason, even if you were to change it to something

"Thanks for meeting this early." You speak up, centering their attention on you. "So Alouette, what's there to find in the mountains?"

"Can you be more specific?" Alouette requested thoughtfully, "I do not believe there to be any ore in the peaks behind the estate, if that is what you're after." You shake your head, "I'm actually looking for things to hunt." you briefly explain the idea to her, allowing Dullem to intercede with his own protests over the possibility of being told to hunt an oakenbear.

"...While I agree that team exercises are a productive idea, I am afraid I must agree with Dullem." Alouette bowed her head apologetically, "Telling people who have only recently taken up the sword to hunt something like an oakenbear is signing their death warrant."

"Something else, then?" You sigh, "What is there to hunt in the mountains?"

"A number of things. Though with few exceptions, I believe the most hazardous thing in the mountain would be the terrain itself. It is ill advised to move quickly or in large groups through its paths if you are not familiar with them; Such things can be treacherous."
"Anything to look out for in particular?" You press, the 'few exceptions' piquing your curiosity. "The rams, for one." Alouette answered immediately, "Though I doubt you would go far enough up the slope to encounter them, you would also want to try and steer clear of the gryphons."

"You have gryphons up there?" Dullem blanched, "I had a cousin who lived near the mountains. He was always complaining about them stealing his cows." Alouette smiled apologetically as she nodded in confirmation. "Yes, ours do not tend to stray far from their nests, but they are rather large for their kind."

"...How large we talking?" Dullem deadpanned.

"I believe the alpha a few years back once carried off a pair of bears." Alouette hummed thoughtfully, "It was quite a sight. The wingspan was very impressive... I wonder if it's still alive?"

"...I don't think I want to go up the mountain." Dullem muttered nervously, "Is there any place around here not crawling in murderous monsters?"

"While I don't believe they are that bad..." Alouette gently tapped a gauntleted finger against her chin in thought for a few seconds, "I suppose there are also the Catacombs? We tend to keep them sealed most of the year in order to keep the pests in."

"Why do you even have catacombs out here?" Dullem groaned, "What could have possibly been out here that warranted you building something like that?"

Alouette smiled warmly, but notably didn't provide an answer. "Never the less, it is likely the least directly dangerous place to hunt provided you're careful. No chance of encountering oakenbear or an ornery ram." She turns back to you, "Does this help you make a decision, Irue?"

>We should tackle the forests. We know the prey, and the terrain.
>Let's go for the mountains. It'll be something new.
>Where are the catacombs? They sound the easiest to deal with.
>Ask a question? (write-in)
Where are the catacombs?/would you care to join us?
>>We should tackle the forests. We know the prey, and the terrain.


Care to join us?

Rolled 2 (1d2)

Forgot to roll.

1. Catacombs
2. Forest

Dice gods etc.
"We'll probably take the forests." You murmur, having been put off the idea of exploring the mountains for the time being by Alouette's gryphon story. With the forest, you at least already have a feel for the terrain and things you can find; Even if one of those things is an oakenbear. "Why not the catacombs?" Dullem interjected, "She said that would be the least dangerous, right? I think we'd be better served starting there."

You purse your lips, exchanging a look with Alouette. While you were admittedly curious about the catacombs, the way she had mentioned them left you uneasy about walking your peasants into it. For that matter, you think you've a general idea of just what had necessitated catacombs this far out in the woods. Her soft smile did little to quell that sneaking suspicion, and you resolve to talk to her about it later. "The catacombs are large." You answer Dullem absently, taking a blind guess at their size as you make an excuse to disabuse him of the idea of going there for now. "Unless Alouette would go with us, I don't want to run the risk of us getting lost in there."

"My apologies, but my duties keep me here." The white-clad swordswoman bowed her head apologetically, "I have my own subordinates to drill, and division to oversee this morning."

You shrug, accepting her apology easily. You hadn't expected Alouette to come with you in the first place, but it was worth a try.

"If that is all I can do for you, then?" Alouette stood, crossing her chest with a hand as she bowed lightly. You dismiss her with your thanks, "Then excuse me. I wish you luck with your ventures, Irue."

As she left, you turned back to Dullem with a half-smile as your hands clap together with a finality. "Well, that settles that. Ready your men for a hunting trip, Knight Captain Dullem."

"I'm really regretting this knight thing about now..."
His grumblings aside, you do eventually find yourself standing outside Caylen's estate in front of your sloppily arrayed peasantry. You could only graciously describe their arrangement as a formation if you squinted, in fact you may as well skip the formalities and call the ragtag assortment of people an assembled mob.

They faced forward, clad in worn leathers and ill-maintained chains. Dullem stood beside you, the bear of a man standing in similar garments with a large hatchet hefted in one hand, and a second stowed at his side.

This was it, you realize. Looking out over the assembled people, numbering maybe twenty-five... thirty people, that these were the numbers you were going to be working with. Some of them had swords, others had strung bows and a quiver of arrows, most of them had hatchets, axes, or some manner of hammer. They were more suited to be militia than knights...

"Alright everybody, listen up!" Dullem roared from beside you, his barrel like chest bellowing out a demanding tone you would be hard pressed to reach. "Our sponsor has arranged for team exercises this morning, and laid out group hunting as our goal!"

Sponsor? You make a face at that, though it goes unnoticed amongst the murmuring crowd.

"This will be kind of like what we practiced for sieging!" Dullem trailed off, glancing at you for confirmation. "...Right?" You shrug, partly because you have no idea what they practiced for sieging, and partly because you weren't entirely certain how you were going to be handling this yet. Dullem shrugged in return, and the two of you exchanged 'maybe?' expressions before he went back to yelling at the assembled peasantry.

"Any questions before we move out?!"

One hand rose.


"What exactly are we hunting?"

"Not oakenbear."


>Someone give me a 1d10!
Rolled 4 (1d10)

As the group of you moved into the forest, your first instinct was to start running. Not for any particular reason, other than the creeping thrill that was literally having so many people at your command. You had the urge to shout a warcry and rush headlong into the forest with them at your back, but... You weren't going to war, you were hunting. If you did something like that, you'd just scare off literally everything in the forest. It was going to be hard enough getting a proper hunt with this many people moving as one as it was, no need to make it more difficult.

The start is slow, but the morning air is cool enough to keep the sweat from accumulating too quickly. The same can't unfortunately be said for the abundant humidity that was dampening your clothes just by walking through the woods.

If it had just been small game you were hunting, you've little doubt you could have arranged the group to just check the nooks and crannies for hiding squirrel, raccoon, and the like. Even tracking dear in this environment would only take some time, but... You needed something more combat related. Something that wasn't an oakenbear, a fact repeated to you no less than four times now.

You get it, people are afraid of oakenbears. You weren't going to make your knights go hunt them.


But that said nothing about normal bears, or wolves, or-

"We got scales!" A call came out from your left, drawing Dullem and you towards them to investigate the commotion. "...It's a big one!" You glance at Dullem curiously, having never actually encountered anything scaled during your walk. The questions as to what it could be died on your lips as you broke through the foliage and found an empty snake skin.

Wedged between two trees.

"This looks fresh." A hunter standing by the skin announced, "Probably a day or two?"
You swallow thickly, looking over the skin that came up just over your own head, stretching out a terrifyingly long way with patches of it sheered off onto the rough bark of clustered trees.

Was fighting whatever left this really preferrable to an oakenbear?

"Yeah, the snakes aren't too dangerous as long as you keep your wits up." Dullem explained, "Scary strong, but they can die at least. That's more than I can say for oakenbear."

>Split up to track it down, we'll find it faster and can regroup on it.
>Stick together, we'll move slower but already be gathered when we find it.
>Send out scouting pairs to track it down rapidly, then have one split off to come back to the main force.
>>Stick together, we'll move slower but already be gathered when we find it.
"Stay together." You pass the order to Dullem as you look at the skin, "We'll track it and engage it together."

"Are you sure? It'd be faster to just send people out after it and have someone report back." He groused, looking over the length of it, "I doubt it'll be very hard to find, and something that size generally can't move very fast in these dense forests."

You shake your head, "This isn't about hunting quickly for food though, it's a teamwork exercise. You have food waiting for you back at the estate, so I want to make sure we all make it back to eat that food." It would be quicker, and as Dullem attested it would probably be okay to have done it that way, but their lives were paramount to you. You refused to let even one of them die on this little exercise.

"Whatever you say, then." Dullem shook his head and began relaying orders. There were some confused murmurs, but the lot of them did as they were told regardless. The group once more started moving forward, various hunters checking and double checking the slithered path and bark of trees to trace the route of the large serpent.

All together, it took you maybe another hour of listless tracking before you caught sight of your prey's scales splayed out in a small clearing as it did its level best to lazily soak in as much sunlight filtering through the leaves above as it could. Laying still as it did, you found yourself a little entranced by just how big it was. The coils alone were as tall as you were, and its length was such that it could have easily just wrapped around an oakenbear and crushed it. You whisper as much, still left baffled at the ease in which they felt hunting something like this, but not an oakenbear.

"You ever actually attacked an oakenbear?" Dullem muttered dubiously, "These things can't even make a crack in their hide, I've seen 'em try."

...What the hell kind of oakenbear had Dullem been finding? Even Rinnier and you could break them apart.
Dullem shook his head, "I'd love to see you do something like that one day. Gotta get you to teach me how you manage that, if it's true."

You scowl at his disregard for your claims, but you can't afford to take your attention away from the snake for too long. "How are we doing this, then?" Dullem grunted, grasping his hatchets experimentally. "Thing's probably half asleep right now, so we got one good chance for a surprise before it starts getting angry."

>Blitz the head. If we can drop it there, the body will fall.
>Try to pin it down. It's so long, there's got to be a way to nail it to the ground and restrict its movement.
>Divide into groups and strike multiple sections at once, make it panic when it wakes up.
>Other? (write-in)
>>Blitz the head. If we can drop it there, the body will fall.
But ask Dullem what he thinks.
"You seem like you've got plenty of experience hunting these things." You hedge warily, "Anything I should know?"

"They can't run fast, but they've got wicked reflexes." Dullem muttered after a moment's thought, "The big ones aren't poisonous, but they still crush shield in their jaws, and those teeth are nothing to laugh at... Probably the worst thing is just getting trapped in the coils, though. I've seen one snap a tree in half, with three full grown men crushed alongside it."

You find yourself staring at the snake a little more daunted given that description. You perhaps hadn't given Dullem and his crew enough credit for having survived out here.

"We had to hunt things like this for food, because there were so many of us." He explained shortly, "We lost a few more men and women to hunts every day..." You catch Dullem frowning out of the corner of your eyes, knuckles whitening against his hatchet handles. "Less mouths to feed... Is what we had to say, every time we came back. Until there weren't any mouths left."

"Wait, I thought you said these weren't dangerous?" You straighten up, catching something off in his story. "You just write off a few deaths each time as acceptable?"

"Compared to oakenbear and the nightgaunts?" Dullem muttered, "Yeah, these were fine. The poisonous ones were worse, and they lived in the river."

You scowl at him, making a mental note to have him tell you - in detail - just what went on in this forest after this was over. At least now you knew why he had seemed so dubious about your earlier claim to make it out of this alive. Had they assembled like this completely expecting to lose some people, still?

You feel something hot spark inside you, and your evaluation of these stupid, stupid peasants raise marginally.

"We're killing it without losing anyone." You repeat steadfastly, "Every last one of you is going back to camp and eating that damned stew."

"Don't make promises you can't keep, kid."
You relay your plans to try and blitz the head. As big and physically monstrous as this thing was, a prolonged fight would just end worse for you as it went on. Every extra second these peasants had to handle fighting it, the more chances they had to screw up somehow... No, you had one chance, so you were going to end it right then.

"Too many people." Dullem grunted, "We can't fit that many of us around its head, and I doubt we'll all even get to it before it reacts."

People... People, right, okay. You needed to keep in mind how many could feasably move and fight in one place at a time. Vague memories of a phalanx came to mind, but you get the idea the snake would just swallow a unit whole. If you scattered them then they'd be less liable to be killed all at once, but would individually become crush-bait. Your best bet was still trying to take this thing out fast, before it could properly orientate itself and react, but how?

"Archers into the trees to aim at its head?"
"They'll hit us. Firing into a melee makes it too easy to cause friendly fire."
"Drop down from above?"
"That's a long fall, and they'd just end up dog piling each other."

There had to be something you were missing.

"Not everything's got an answer, Ser Valen." Dullem sighed, "Sometimes you just have to take the least amount of losses to get what you want."

"You sound like just want someone to die." You snap irritably.

"No, I don't. We can stop now and all of us just go home." Dullem shook his head, "But you said we were hunting, Ser Valen. We don't have much of a choice, if we want to try and keep this new life you offered."

You bit your lip. Going back now would ensure everyone survived, but it would be a definite failure. If you pressed forward and people died, though, you doubt any morale would rise.

You either did this perfect, or not at all. There had to be something you could do.
>Stick with the headblitz plan
>Alter your plan (to what?)
>Go home.
>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)
>Have people hide in trees, have archers shoot at snake and bait him toward ambush, drop on snake.
Also if they have spare hatchet get one to throw it at snake.
>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)
Spears? Have large spear pin him in the ground.
He just said that wouldn't work.
Altering plan to an ambush.

The kind of spear you are talking about could be more accurately described as "a flag pole". Unfortunately, they don't have anything of sufficient size.
Also it was not the prompted forgetting.

>Am I forgetting something...? (write-in)

>"Ah..." You nod, remembering some of the reasons you had thought to go find Alouette. "Has there been any progress in finding a polearm for Rinnier?" You start after a moment, deciding to ease into the topic more directly on your mind. "Polearms are not typically weapons that we use here, save for larger game hunting." Alouette tapped the side of her sheathe pointedly, "We skirmish often, but our blades are primarily meant for humans, not beast."

>"Polearms are for hunting?" You can't help but ask, trying to coincide Rinnier's words on the matter with Alouette's. "Not explicitly, but it is our normal use for them." She explained softly, easily sliding into a lecturing tone.

>"By bracing the weapon against the ground, you can more reliably weather or discourage the charge of a heavy creature, such as a bear or elk. The bear in particular often responds to aggression by rearing up and then lunging forward to both maul and crush the offender. In this case, you may think of polearm use to be primarily that of a punji."

>You nod, a little lost. You don't actually know what a punji is.

>"A trap set up by some native tribes in a foreign land. Primarily effective for guerilla warfare, though it often ruins the meat, or is unable to properly kill, animals... So it is ill advised for hunting."

>But... the polearm was a punji used for hunting?

>"To an extent, yes. It serves a similar purpose, but with more efficient application of manpower. Your Testament is likely used to using them in a far different manner, so I expect our polearms will not be to her liking. We are still attempting to find something suitable."

Hopefully this isn't too late. It's a pain trying to remember where things were from.

It is late, but only bye a few moments. Since it's so rare you actually get the correct answer to these, I'll accept it.

Would you like to make alterations to your plan with this in mind?
Probably setting archers in the woods to attack the snake, then a pike line to protect the archers and/or impale the snake through the head if it attempts to strike, and/or hold it off/redirect its strike if it rears up.

Possibly with additional pikes set into the ground at an angle to impale the snake as it advances and to keep it from circling around the pike line in order to try and constrict a whole mass at once.

I'd have brought up the pike trap earlier just as a general idea, but couldn't think of a reason for Irue to know to do so before remembering the aforementioned bit.
Goad it into charging and receive it's charge. by bracing into the ground. Archers fire at it from behind the polearm line
These are similar enough to work with.

A giant snake. It wasn't venomous, so its primary method of attacking had to be through brute force; Constricting and swallowing whole were the first two things to come to mind, but simply crushing things against the trees in its passing could be just as deadly... If you tried to engage it with hatchets, you'd be walking right up to it and literally trying to hack through who knew how much muscle and scale. The arrows could potentially harry it, but unless they hit something sensitive - such as an eye - you doubted they would even hurt that much then. They just weren't large enough to really cause the kind of wound you needed.

Ah... You blink, a series of connections snapping together in your head as you start glancing about your number. You didn't have any specifically on you, but...

"Alright, we're retreating." You turn, "Get everyone to regroup some ways off, I have a plan."


The look on the peasant's faces as you explained was dubious, but with Dullem backing your orders, none of them raised their voice to oppose the new plan. Alouette had once told you that for larger games, it was traditionally useful to use a polearm in order to maximize manpower by using the creature's own weight and girth against it. While she had been discussing bear and stag at the time, you'd wager there was very little in the forest that was actually bigger than that snake.

...And if there was, then you'd either need more men, or Kara to handle it.

To that end however, what you needed weren't short-range hatchets, reliant on manpower to cut, or small arrows to prick it, but something sturdier. Something larger around, with enough reach to help protect its wielder. What you needed was polearms.

Unfortunately you didn't have any. As far as you knew, and a quick reference confirmed this, no one actually had a polearm. That was fine, you had something that could fix that.
A little over an hour later, the peasants had assembled a collection of hastily constructed polearms. Not proper weapons, so much as trees and saplings of various girth felled, trimmed, and sharpened with their hatchets. Some of them could barely be lifted, others were too then to make much of a difference, but for the most part, you had enough heavy set spiked poles to outfit almost everyone in your peasant company.

From there it was a matter of getting them set up. You didn't HAVE to engage the snake where it was, you could bring it to where you wanted it. Much like personal communication, you gathered that one of the most dire aspects of fighting something that held an advantage over you was to manipulate it into either doing what you wanted, or being in a position to follow your lead. As long as you could keep control of the flow, you could feasibly accomplish even an outlandish result.

...Of course, even as you looked out over the people wedging the pikes against rock and root, you're left with a single lingering doubt that the snake you had found wouldn't just crash right through your fortifications. You had done your best to direct them into placing their make-shift polearms - if some of these could even be called such - where you hoped they would be the most effective. In the end, all that was left was to bring it to you, and then pray it worked.

For that part, there were archers. While of little practical use in hurting the serpent, the echoing hiss that erupted through the forest as the small shafts pricked into its scaley hide was enough to confirm that, yes, it was enough to make it angry. All you had needed them to do was get its attention. You caught sight of them in the distance as they put boot to dirt and made tracks as fast as they could back towards you.

"It's reflexes are fast." You mutter, watching the serpent's head snap to the side, "But it can't move fast."
Able to maintain their lead from range, the retreating hunters hoofed it like madmen in order to draw the titanic serpent back along a set path. This was where everything had to come together. It was a straight shot through the trees towards you, a straight dash to stay ahead of the serpent as it slithered forward.

"Archers can't fire into a melee." You mutter, holding one hand in the air as more line up behind you with their strings taut. With the bait-archers dashing ahead of it, and the sheer length of the snake coupled with the girth of its size, you had little fear causing friendly- "Fire!" Your hand slashed down, issuing forth a staccato of tensed strings snapping back into place as a full volley of arrows flew parabolic through the forest and peppered into the serpent's face and neck. Already they were resetting their bows for the next volley, your hand raised again for the next visual signal.

Once more.
Twice more.

Arrows flew time and time again, coating the beast's body in tiny shafts that did little more than enrage it. Only after the sixth frantic volley had visibly taken out one of the beast's eyes did you finally let your cries drop.

"Dullem!" Your part was ending as you retreated with the archers.

Baited by the running rangers, enraged and blinded by your archery squad, the serpent rushed head long through the trees - The same trees which the majority of the peasant knights had used to shield themselves from the arrow volleys as they hid around the far sides of the trunks with pole after pole readied in hand. "Brace!" The bear of a man bellowed for all he was worth to be heard over the rushing scales, groups of people slamming the butts of the sharpened poles and logs against the much older trees before shoving the points inwards.

Had it been still, it would be pointless - A tactic that relied entirely on the snake itself being so concentrated on moving forward that it would drive its own body onto the row after row of sharpened stakes, sheering vicious gouges of flesh down its flanks. Hardly enough to kill it, but with so many stakes driven into it and braced, the serpent's forward momentum arrested itself violently.

Much like its own teeth, the angle of the wooden spikes meant that trying to just pull itself free would only dig them in deeper.


With its length spread and its juggernaut-esque weight effectively clamped down through a small sea of steaming carnage, the last fight began now.

With only a small section of its neck, and a half-blinded, heavily arrowed head left free, its mobility was barely an option. Its senses overloaded, pain searing its body, you led your own group forward, bows exchanged for longer poles, sharpened to a point and held aloft on the approach, your only game was patience as the blood thundered in your veins at the sight of the primal beast writhing agonizingly in rage.

Time and time again it would snap out blindly, only for its relatively delicate inner mouth to meet nothing but spike and splinter. More than one of your hastily made creations met its match, and its end, to the teeth and raw muscle of the beast, until the serpent's maw resembled a hemorrhaging, spike filled mess.
The battle ended after that. There was little more to the plan at that point than to exhaust what remained of its vitality, allowing the crippled serpent to impale itself time and time again on your poles until it fell still.

If it's most powerful tool was reflexes, then dull them, and use what remained to your advantage.

When all was said and done, you stood with eight others, stained red with the rabidly splattered blood of your mark, hands raw and muscles aching from the final bloody battle of attrition.

"Ha...." Your chest jerked as you stumbled back a step.

From somewhere in the forest, further back, a deep cry rose up, followed by more of its kind. Before you knew what was happening, everything around you was a deafening clamour of exhilarated screams.

Complete survival.

Congratulations, you made a sandwich.
File: ValEnd.gif (1023 KB, 500x281)
1023 KB
1023 KB GIF

And 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.

Congratulations on the Forgetting. I'm proud of you!
Thanks for running!

So how's morale now? Also the snake edible?
The snake is edible, but you would need to be wary about splinters.

Their morale is high enough to drag it back to the estate and eat it instead of stew for the fourth day in a row. I imagine cooking it will be difficult.

Over all, a good first impression as their nominal "leader". Had anon not come through with the >Forgetting, however, I very much doubt a good result would have come.
Yeah forgettings are pretty important. Isn't that our second one? As far as cooking, Cut it up into steaks. There has to be a butcher or two among them who's decent at meatcutting. The bouncing between Oakenbear threat levels throw me a bit. I kinda doubt Kara is stronger than a snake larger than several trees, yet she one-shotted one with bored ease.
A substantially more corporeal sandwich this time than the last, but still.

Glad I made it back for the end of the thread, I guess.

I assume that our role in proceedings was strictly supervisory, right? Or have we determined that we are capable of using weapons after all so long as there's some sort of a technicality? (use of hatchets as a tool to sharpen/fell trees rather than as a weapon, or that large improvised weapons as traps/emplacements still work okay because all we really need to do is hold it still rather than doing anything)
>When all was said and done, you stood with eight others, stained red with the rabidly splattered blood of your mark, hands raw and muscles aching from the final bloody battle of attrition.
There is no bouncing, but there are circumstances to be understood. Irue had them, Rinnier had them, and Kara is in fact stronger than the serpent by a large margin.

She's actually a little stronger than a Behemoth.

It is your second forgetting, though! I am as proud of you now as I was the first time, and I really look forward to you getting more of them!

Our role was mostly supervisory. IE: At first we signaled archers to fire.

However, as noted by players in earlier threads, and IC in this thread, the focal point is not Irue exactly. The doppleganger is capable of wielding weapons, if it so pleases.

It doesn't have the same circumstances as Irue does, and is vehemently against ever receiving said circumstances.

However, using weapons as crafting tools or the like has always been possible for Irue normally. For example, you have been able to carry all manner of weapons before, though noting their discomfort in your hands; It is only when you attempt to use them as weapons that problems begin to occur.
So what I'm getting is, too hurt an oaken bear you need to be incredibly unnaturally strong, or have a magic weapon/circumstances? Would Dopplerue be able to hurt one then?
Dopplerue (cute, I like it) would not, no. For all intents and purposes, it has the capabilities of any other normal person.
was I spot on about the other then? Also what will Caylen, Rinnier, Ari and Alouette think about the hunt?
I guess calling the oakenrue a magic weapon is accurate enough, and Irue does have circumstances... So yes, more or less.

As for what the others think... Well, I'll try to remember to touch on it next thread.

One of them won't be impressed, one of them won't tell you they're impressed, and one of them is quite proud of you. The last is a mystery.

Minor QM complaint though: I have solved nothing but peanut and street sign captchas since 2am. That's 16 hours of peanuts and street signs. Please, make it stop.
you could always do audio captchas instead.
I'd assume that at least the street signs bit might be helping with self-driving cars or somesuch, but I don't think they need to worry about crashing into a peanut or a burrito or a cupcake, so the rest is probably just Skynet doing Skynet things.

[Advertise on 4chan]

Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.