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Previously, On Status Quo Quest:
Jana, a shadowy, semi-tangible being, has engaged in a battle with a small horde of children using little light-pellet-firing wands.

Thread Six: https://archive.moe/tg/thread/39197860/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuestBaker

You decide to get some more snacks, to fill your plate. It has nothing whatsoever to do with any desire to cover the image of your own scarred face, looking back at you from the plate's surface, nothing at all.

As you collect the foodstuffs, you keep an eye on the pitched battle going on, as the brave band of children work together to do battle with the sinister shadow that is Jana. The ones that are best with the shields are providing cover for their comrades, as they attempt to catch their foe with the bullets their trinkets fire.

However, Jana is quick, nimble in a way nothing natural can be, and they can't seem to quite get their shots on target. If you don't intervene, somehow, it looks like she'll win.

Well, can't have that, can we?

You don't want to steal their thunder, though, so, hm. Better be discreet.

You tap one of the rugrats on the shoulder, offering a faintly glowing cookie. They look up at you, wide-eyed and curious.

"Bait." Is all you need to say, before a devious grin comes over their face, and they grab it, running off. It's only a few more minutes before their cunning plan goes into effect

They... hock the cookie into the air, out of Jana's reach. Well, okay, maybe you overestim-

Jana leaps from the wall, reaching for the cookie with an outstretched arm, glowing eyes locked on target.

That's when the kids open fire.
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She didn't stand a chance. Dozens of the little light pellets find their mark, as her stolen toys fly through the air, her grip on them presumably lost.

She manages to keep hold of the cookie, though. A great cheer goes up amongst the children, and then they return to the party, apparently satisfied with their play. ...and by party, you of course mean the snack table.


With the party done, and the children set to bed, you look around at the seven women who call you master. ...And Amalie's in attendance, as well.

There are really a number of things that need to be discussed, and Sir Veit hasn't yet returned.

>Wait for him. He has answers.
>Let's get started. You can get your answers when he gets here.
>>The matter of the children.
>>A different topic. What?
>What's keeping him?
>What's keeping him?

I have a bad feeling about this.
>Status Quo
you're....you're serious. You're Back.

>>What's keeping him?
Is this what they call a return to Status Quo?

Anyway, I'll call votes in about fifteen minutes. Hopefully I can run through a good amount tonight.
Voting Closed.

Typing now.

>>What's keeping him?
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"Ulrike." You address the most magically-inclined of your... servants? Faithful? You're not really sure how to refer to them, honestly. They're nice enough women, even accounting for their odd devotion to you. Calling them servants feels wrong. But you're distracting yourself. "You said he should be back by now, didn't you?"

The woman in question nods.

"Sir Veit is always back well before sunrise." She frowns. "This kind of delay is ...most unusual." She stands. "I can consult the crystals, scry out his location. If you'll excuse me, my lord?" Ulrike certainly seems to be less deferential than the others. ...Now that you think about it, she's never referred to you as 'master', at all, has she? It's nice.

"I'll come with you." You tell her, "If something's gone wrong, I'd like to know immediately." She visibly swallows a protest.

"Yes." She turns and hurries out of the room, making for the Crystal Room. You follow, moderating your longer strides to avoid overtaking her. The inhabited portions of this catacomb all seem to be quite close together, so it doesn't take any time for you to arrive at your destination.

"Please, remain quiet during the scrying." Ulrike instructs, moving to a particularly large, clear crystal. "It takes focus to maintain the spell." You simply nod, observing her preparations.

Setting her hands at the sides of the crystal, she visibly gathers her will, and the crystal begins to glow...
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Within the crystal, you can see a several armoured figures.

It looks like it's one against three, the lone figure -- it must be Veit -- holding an axe high, almost daring the others to approach. The other three are armed with blades, but only one seems to have a shield. The other two... a torch - makes sense, dawn might be approaching, but it's not here yet - and the third is carrying some kind of...glowing object. You don't recognise it, but he's brandishing it as a weapon. Magic, perhaps. They're edging around to Veit's flanks, attempting to take advantage of their numbers, the shield-bearer in the center.

Well, it looks like something really has gone wrong.

Ulrike's expression is dark.

"He wouldn't have trouble with ordinary soldiers." She says, as the viewpoint of the crystal shifts, giving you a better view of the hostile knights. Their heraldry bears very similar themes - primarily white, with flaming brazier icons on their surcoats and the shield. "I was afraid of this." She mutters. "I won't be able to help him from here." Ulrike shakes her head. "My magic can't affect these Knights through scrying. They're... protected." She almost spits the last word. "...Lord." She turns to you, reluctantly. "I hate to ask this of you, but... Is there anything you can do?"

>You're a very large man, in very large armour, and there's a very large axe near your coffin. Can she get you there?
>If she can maintain the image, there's something tickling at the back of your mind ...
>...There's nothing you can do from here.

>Is there another option? Perhaps one of the others...
Writing a bit slow, as usual.
I don't plan to stop soon, at least.
>>If she can maintain the image, there's something tickling at the back of your mind ...
keep it subtle, hopefully
Voting will end on the half hour.
Voting Closed.

Typing now.
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"...If you can maintain the image..." You begin, slowly, "I can do something." You approach the crystal, barely acknowledging her nod. You instead focus on that idea, in the back of your head, that feeling that there's something you can do to give Veit the advantage here.

Focusing your will on that sensation, you... reach through the crystal, a black-wreathed hand grasping at the shield-knight. A ....corruption, is the best you can put it into words, spreads across the knight's body, and as it creeps under his helmet, he begins to writhe, and you are entirely certain that he is screaming, there, behind the silence of the crystal. You watch, as his sword drops to the ground and he claws at his helmet, as though trying to claw his own eyes out.

The rest of the fight resolves itself in a heartbeat - as the screaming, writhing knight startles his comrades, Veit strikes, his heavy axe smashing down across the shoulder of the torchbearer, biting through the armour and forcing him to drop his blade. Veit steps in close, and with a move you can't quite catch, tosses the knight to the ground, reclaiming his weapon.

The one with the glowing item is slow to react, and it costs him. By the time he advances against Veit, his compatriots are already disabled, and Veit can focus on him alone. He doesn't fare any better than the others.

You exhale, slowly, clenching a hand, wondering at the... oddly familiar feel of the strange magic. Ulrike said these knights were protected, but... apparently whatever it was you did didn't care.

"...Well done, lord." Ulrike says, softly. "He should join us in only a short while. And you've let him know you're awake, so he'll make his best time." She eyes the crystal again, then allows the scrying magic to fade, uninterested in watching Veit make sure the three won't be following him again.

"Would you like to return to the others?"

>"Let's meet Sir Veit as he arrives."
>Yes, now that he's on his way, you should get started.
>Yes, but business will need to wait for Veit.

>>Yes, now that he's on his way, you should get started.
I'll close voting in about fifteen minutes.
Voting closed, Writing now. Probably the last update for the night.
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"...Alright." Ulrike leads the way back. "...My lord." She stops, just before you enter the room. "...When we discuss the children..." She hesitates, "...Could we not tell the others I was hiding it?"

"Don't they deserve to know?" You ask.

"...My lord, I will of course go along with your decision, but..." She bows to you. "Please. I had my reasons. The situation has... changed, and I don't need to worry anymore, but..." She looks up, concern writ across her face. "I would rather not discuss them."

"Why not?" You need to know her reasoning.

"...Well, my lord.." It's hard for her to say, but after a brief struggle. "I am the eldest of us, here. I have known Sir Veit the longest, and..." She seems to be searching for the best way to put this, "...His conduct and speech gave me cause to, well... doubt. Both your character and his intentions. While I am relieved to learn that you are a ...good man, from how you have treated both us and the children, I don't wish to burden the others with my baseless suspicion. It's nothing important, in the end."

Well, it's up to you.

Will you keep just how long she's known quiet?

>Yes. Of course.
>No, they deserve to know.
>Doubt Veit's intentions? You're going to need details.
>This sort of thing is important. If she wants to keep it quiet, she'll owe you.
>None of the others have any doubts about Sir Veit?

More updates in the morning. I'll try to keep this running steady as long as I can. I should at least be able to get more updates in than in my last few threads.
>Doubt Veit's intentions? You're going to need details.
>We'll hear things from Veit himself, as well.
>But they deserve to know that you doubted my character. It isn't unusual to be worried about someone you've never met at all.
>Doubt Veit's intentions? You're going to need details.

You're lying Morgan.
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"You doubted his intentions?" That's terribly vague. "I'm going to need some details." You decide, "There are a lot of things that could mean, and I'm not sure I like any of them."

"Well..." Ulrike hesitates, briefly, but nods. "My lord, I believe Alheid already spoke to you about the children? Well, it simply needs to be viewed from a slightly different perspective. Sir Veit has been collecting those who.... no-one would miss. Orphans, and urchins, yes, but more importantly, the ones who could simply disappear, and nobody would question it, or come looking for them."

...Oh. Ooohhh. That's... yeah, that's quite a different picture she's painting.

"Yes. And... he's been working towards your awakening for nearly a thousand years. I was worried about the depth to which he would sink, in your name." She continues, "And..I had been concerned that you would turn out to be the type of person to whom such methods were..." She gropes for a word, but settles on, "acceptable. I'm relieved that you do not simply view the children as resources, but..." You nod, understanding her position.

>You can stay quiet.
>This matter about Sir Veit deserves discussion, doesn't it?
>And you're the only one with concerns?
I lost this post way too many times. While I wait for votes, I'm going to go look into textarea caching.
Well, voting will stay open as long as the thread is alive. I'll put up an update either as soon as I get some votes or as soon as I sober up, depending on how the time shakes out.
>And you're the only one with concerns?

We should quietly look into what our followers think of each other. the last thing we need is a purge in our name...that we didn't order.
>>And you're the only one with concerns?
>But they deserve to know that you doubted my character. It isn't unusual to be worried about someone you've never met at all.

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