January 25, 1933An uncomfortable, stark light filled the meeting space of the Joint-Occupation Embassy in Wlasavia, former capital of Ellowie, now divided in half betwixt its conquerors even though the territory was firmly within Twaryian territory. With the recent revolt, the streets were filled with soldiers, though no uprising had occurred in the former capital itself…yet. Aides to the three diplomats present blinked the weariness from their eyes. No matter their country of origin, this was no hour to be having this sort of meeting, that had already been stalled, seemingly on purpose.“Now now, ambassador,” the Netillian diplomat waved a finger, “Don’t propose the preposterous. Free passage through our territories? With the history the Border Zone as a whole has had? Courteous as we are to one another in this building, the same cannot be said not so far outside of it. You would certainly not agree to free reign of your territory were we in your situation.”The Twaryian ambassador had taken over from his flummoxed second when he had arrived. His Netillian counterpart was delaying, knowing his rivals would grow more amenable to more demands over time. The eastern diplomat had experience with Ellowians- they were a contemptuous lot, stubborn and unyielding, childish in a way. Refusing to acknowledge being beaten, or even when they had been at a disadvantage before. This Netillian was different from them- contemptuous in a different way. Ellowians were hardly stoic but they were hardly ever so smug in diplomacy.“Obviously,” the Twaryian ambassador growled back in clear, well-practiced New Nauk devoid of eastern tinge, “An escorted passage would be perfectly acceptable.”“Ah, no, it would not,” the Netillian corrected, “With their weapons, and in such a state as they would be coming out, they could very well be a danger to those attempting to guide them. They may as well just pass by. Think of the stresses of all those involved, ambassador.”
Outrageous, but the Netillian knew to stretch out every second. The Twaryian ambassador had to tempt him- his partner had made the mistake of reasoning, using rationale rather than his opponent’s greed as his arm. “So you would propose to take them prisoner?” he led off.“Extended detainment, to be returned when the current situation calms.”“What if instead,” the Twaryian Ambassador said with a hum, a drag of his finger across the wooden, polished table, “We considered an exchange? Their lives for some of your lives?”“Oh? A prisoner exchange?”“Ambassador,” the Twaryian’s second hissed to him in their native language, “We have no influence over-“”Silence.” The Ambassador said back, clearly, before returning his attention to his western counterpart. “Of sorts. Yours would only take ours into custody long enough to take them to another section of the border and return them home. This is an offer made in good faith, so the indignity of being taken back to a camp and paraded about as though defeated would be intolerable.” He felt his other squirming. His junior was inexperienced in diplomacy, where it was and what exactly was acceptable to fold. A sacrifice in one place that an opponent overestimated the value of, could mean a greater share in a place where there was a more significant advantage to be gained. Even if it wasn’t something he had the power to surrender.“So if they were to be kept, you would merely refuse to release the prisoners of ours you have taken?” The Netillian ambassador smelled something suspicious- but he hadn’t figured out the Twaryian’s gambit yet. “If they were to be kept,” the eastern Ambassador smiled, “The generous exchange would have to be made yet more generous. It’d hardly be fair to repay you with only the prisoners had at the moment, wouldn’t it?”That made the Netillian ambassador’s smile slip. “Whatever do you mean?”“I mean, that the longer we take to conclude this deal,” the Twaryian ambassador sat at the table and put his fingers together, hands resting on the table, “The more drastically some commanders may be tempted to act. We are not in the Border Zone, sir. Surely the garrison, as well as you, know your status plenty well. Returning your freedoms would be a fair exchange, no?”“You wouldn’t dare,” the Netillian ambassador remained standing, his face now stern, the tables turned upon him. “Such an incident would dwarf what is currently happening.”“Then you would do well to avert it.” The Twaryian smirked up, “Now, shall we get something down in writing..?”-----
Leader (a team designation, not his title, obviously) had known the Major for years, and knew she wasn’t a morning person. Regardless, after he’d recovered from his wound some, he was here in the morning she disliked (albeit inside a dingy hotel room), balanced out with tea he knew she was fond of, her office desk playing substitute for a table. She was only half dressed in a long sleeved button down and underclothes, which was an expected habit. When he first met the Major he thought she did this to put people off balance, but as he became more familiar (familiar enough to know she wasn’t doing it for anyone’s benefit) he learned that just as often she did it because she couldn’t be bothered otherwise. It wasn’t distracting anymore, but hell if it wasn’t once. The Major was a very tall woman, and with height came long, long legs. The same height made her an odd choice for an Intelligence Office agent, Leader had also thought at times. Even among average people she stuck out, but for a woman she was a giant. Hardly a reach to conclude on why she didn’t make a habit of walking around for pleasure here, rather than minding her threads while lounging about in what she slept in; a far different look to how she presented herself anywhere but in the heart of her web.“Netilland has been under the domination of its military state for a few years,” Leader was continuing a conversation whilst the Major closed her eyes and slowly drank her tea, despite that it was steaming hot, “We’ve not had much reason to penetrate too deeply until now, but I hear that the boss expected more treacherous ground at this later stage.”“The Defense Party is fierce,” the Major laced that backhanded praise with no shortage of contempt, “But they are young and overconfident, like teenage boys. Against that sort of opponent, once they are identified for what they are,” she placed her teacup down with a soft clink, and kicked up her legs on the table, crossed them, “the outcome was never at all in doubt.” Leader winced as he stretched a limb and groaned. “You ought to know that young and overconfident sorts have their strengths, Major.” The Major’s eyebrow twitched. “…No, not in this context. There is a blind spot to be exploited. In a direct contest, brashness can provide a great advantage, but there was no contest here.”“It’s in the nature of their rule isn’t it? Being a military dictatorship.”
“Not necessarily, monopolization of force is hardly exclusive to a military dictatorship. However, a military dictatorship by nature does not exist without its ability to use force. Opposing it is no small task for those under it, but,” The tall woman slid a folder over to herself and casually flipped it open, pushing a few papers to the side to look at some clipped photos beneath, “Preparing a replacement for a time of opportunity works just as well when the means to remove the factor of power can be found elsewhere.”“You’ve moved a lot of pieces since last time I saw this,” Leader murmured, impressed once he realized the scope.“I can’t take all the credit, but I’ll certainly take responsibility for this remaining void of suspicion by anybody who would do anything about it,” the Major allowed a slight smirk on her face, “Even if another portion of our operations collapses, this will easily remain in the dark. At this point, all there is to do is wait…and hopefully, to not do damage control.”“And the science experiment?”“Can take care of itself, if it’s worth anything. If help does end up being necessary, I won’t need trouble myself with a trip over there to find out.”-----Morning had come again, and the sleep you’d gotten had been in short bursts throughout the dark. There hadn’t been fighting, nor reports of any attempts to break over the border, though a few encounters had been reported by the troops of your company amassed in their section of the line. Nothing violent- only sightings. The tanks had been turned off to save fuel, and in the quietness of the night, aside from conversation, there was naught to muffle the sounds of distant battle to the south and southeast.It wasn’t so bad to be far away from it, frankly, in your condition.You are Richter Von Tracht, Coordinator, Lieutenant, half-faced and eight fingered, and your star was barely in ascent, if it was indeed such. Commander of Panzers, and presently, you and the panzers you commanded were being held in reserve, ready to respond to a crisis in the line along the border, currently sealed off and watched over for any who would dare try and cross without surrendering. On the other side, a different crisis that spurred the one on your side, but a far more severe event in every way. Whilst you and your men merely waited, the Twaryians on the other side dealt with a great revolt, dueling insurgents and doing their best to respond while a significant group had been surrounded, cut off, and pushed against the border.
Just the other day you had contributed in your own way to that revolt’s beginning phases, with a brief raid across the border in your tanks. How much of this massive success the Ellowian insurgents, the Eastern Resistance Army, was having that could be attributed to your involvement was uncertain. However, the mess that had occurred made you thankful you hadn’t done more. Already, tensions were as high as they’d ever been between Twaryi and Netilland. If you’d done much more in your raid, you feared that your Intelligence Office superiors would have had your head for it.…Though it also had to be said, as you looked across to your gunner across from inside the turret, both of you heavy eyed from both having to be at alert, but unmotivated by any actual action, that you didn’t find yourself rushing into another fight anyways. That night that Hans had approached you played again like an old record in your head, scratchy and dusty, of how he and the other crews saw their fellows perish in this battleground far away and so irrelevant to home. How none of them wanted that. That sentiment was reflected well in Stein’s eyes in the orange interior light, and you might have searched for it in Jorgen’s eyes, had his forest person pride not likely obscured it. As ever, your driver was inscrutable, a face never, ever shown, but even if one of your crew felt like they didn’t mind fighting here, they were plenty outnumbered by the numerous other Strossvalder crew.In the mercenaries who filled the gaps in your ranks, you saw some twisted mutation of that look. The resignation of people so far from home they were now on endless journey. Or were they glad of such an existence in spite of how sad some might have found it? It was difficult to tell, and despite how much had happened to and around you, still hard to understand.You and yours were sick of being here, indeed. Yet it wasn’t over, not yet. Plenty of business to take care of before you picked up the pieces of yourselves and limped back. Plenty more to ensure that your efforts here meant something. The coming day, you’d have to finally handle an obstacle to those efforts. You had been approached earlier by an agent of a new ally, of the King of Ellowie, and told of the necessity of saving the Eastern Resistance Army from being destroyed in the battle across the border. This was simplistic enough to do, theoretically- were there not the obstacle potentially breathing down your neck, watching and waiting, ready to ruin it all if you gave him the chance, or even if you suffered him to live much longer.
Kommissar Alrik Zohl, Captain of State Security, who had remained tolerable far from you while handling other affairs, but evidently he wasn’t as busy anymore, to be keeping an eye on you…or he suspected something. His suspicions would be on point, of course, which was why you had to strike first. Without him, nobody would be looking nearly as closely when you allowed packs of insurgents over the border to be taken into protective custody by the King’s gendarmes. It’d have been simplest if decided to just die out of convenience, but Zohl was not such a gracious person to do that. Rather, no matter how you thought about it, he was a difficult person to draw out and kill, especially if he was suspect of you.Nevertheless, you had a plan. Something to draw him out, and something to do the deed, while also allowing you to slip out of suspicion yourself. If it all went right. You had had the good fortune to encounter quite sensitive information on a mission to dispatch a combined band of deserting penal troops and mercenaries who had run off with another Kommissar’s information and materiel. That alone should have been tempting enough bait- not only the chance to take credit for reclaiming compromised material, but the chance to embarrass a rival by producing it when the other Kommissar had lost it? What a move that would be! Of course, you had already handed over the actual information to the Intelligence Office, but it wouldn’t be like Zohl would ever find that out.That would be because you planned to have him ambushed, by a contingent of more local Ellowian insurgents, of a group called the National Liberation Front. They held some spite for Zohl, or at least, the unit he was attached to, and their leader Drachen had offered a plan to attack them outright. From your perspective, however, you saw a better, more precise plan. Even if you requested that Zohl come alone for security’s sake, he absolutely wouldn’t, but so long as he didn’t haul the whole unit over the NLF’s strike force would at least have a local advantage. After all, with a recent quietness from the insurgency near abouts (a side effect of your working with them) and the incident over the border, everybody was mostly along the line, or at the very least, had their attention firmly in that direction.However…what if they weren’t up to the task, despite the advantages? The 13th Mechanized Guard were one of the premier units of the Netillian army. These were no unruly penal troops nor green recruits, but the best trained, equipped, and experienced troops that the nation could call upon, under the unquestioned authority of an official of the Defense Party, whom now dominated the former Republic. If Zohl survived…you’d have no choice but to flee the country, you were certain, or at least go into hiding within Ellowie.
At least you had no shortage of escape routes and hiding places. It was just a matter if you could reach them with all of your allies in tow, should this all be mucked up. The Major would undoubtedly be furious if you screwed up in doing such a thing, but funnily enough, the status of Strossvald’s advisors played rather little into what you knew the Intelligence Office’s plans to be.“Eiy,” you heard Jorgen cough from above, peeking through the top of the command cupola, “Kommanderr, letter.” He held out a folded piece of paper, “Sahmguy passedet.”“Some guy?” you repeated groggily, reaching out and taking it, unfolding the paper with the same motion. It was scrawled in a messy hand, but still readable- and it was just what you’d been waiting for.Ten o’clock to NoonBy the dingy cottage, you know the one. Try to stack the odds. Sending three dozen of our best with the best they can carry but can’t say if that’ll be enough. Might need some help to seal the deal, else be ready to take a big risk. If this works it’ll be worth it though. We’ll keep out of anybody’s sight until it’s time.Get rid of this after you commit it to memory, obviously.There was…some time. Enough time to make the most basic preparations, to call up Zohl and have him come on over to the “meeting place.” For the “hand off.” Damn if it didn’t feel like you were being rushed, however. Wladysaw must have been rushing his new partners in crime for all they were worth. Zohl didn’t seem the type to just rush off to a place of uncertain security, so he’d probably have an advance party there, unless you sent one to the location. You hadn’t done anything to directly earn Zohl’s mistrust, after all, so you could at least count on that to help this work. So. Everything was at a point you couldn’t influence further concerning your allies, unless you called it off to do it quite a bit later (which was an option, since you were the one who actually had the capability to call Zohl), time to finalize your part in all this. Namely, your direct support. Yes, it was supposed to be the insurgent’s job to actually take out Zohl without laying suspicion upon you, but…you couldn’t exactly show up alone, could you? Maybe you could use a heavier escort of those loyal to you in case push came to shove?>Showing up alone might be suspect, but there wouldn’t be much time for anybody to be suspicious. Best to do that to minimize any risks.>Bring along your crew. They could handle themselves in a fight…and you might need to be handled by them too.>Take a tank along. If things didn’t work out, you could at least take matters into your own hands, as much a risk as that might be.>Other?
Pastebin for past threads is https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnhTwitter for announcements and shitposts is @scheissfunker
>>4435240I feel like showing up alone would be too suspect, but at the same time I don't want to bring too much that would put our people/NLF in more danger from shooting at each other (and there's also the worry that if we bring a tank, it'll be able to effectively ward off the NLF). I think the best middle ground would be just the crew then based on these initial thoughts.>Bring along your crew. They could handle themselves in a fight…and you might need to be handled by them too.
>>4435240>Bring along your crew. They could handle themselves in a fight…and you might need to be handled by them too.
>>4435240>Bring along your crew. They could handle themselves in a fight…and you might need to be handled by them too
>>4435240Bring Malachi and Jorgen. And half a squad of Netillians with a combat car for transport.When the shooting starts we run back to the combat car. Assess the situation from there in a speedy getaway option.Dont want to bring our entire crew, minimize the risk of all of them getting gunned down.
>>4435300>>4435317>>4435391>>4435647Bring the crew for this ride.>>4435628Only take the incomprehensible northerners and fill the gaps with chaff.Writing.
Clearly you couldn’t come alone- it wasn’t something you were afraid to do yourself at this point, but it was something Zohl and his escort would certainly find suspicious. Nobody wandered about by themselves in the Border Zone. So you’d be escorted by your crew, easy enough, they were certainly trustworthy, but a short thought occurred to you about just taking them all in the tank…only briefly. The problem there was, that the NLF attacking this meeting were meant to be taking on the role of your enemies. If they attacked you while you had a tank about, unless you were plotting on turning your coat right then and there, it would be more likely that you’d be using that tank against the NLF instead of Zohl and his escort. Frankly, you wanted to come out of this with plausible deniability well intact.That, and not having that plausible deniability…could you just uproot yourself in the event it got out that you had purposely ambushed Zohl? An official of Netilland’s Defense Party? Could you uproot everybody connected to you? The thought of any of your comrades being captured made you feel ill…Anya couldn’t even move properly still, could you take such a horrible risk? No, you had to be conservative about this, cautious.Your crew was called to the tank, contained inside where you could speak over the intercom and not even potentially have any eavesdroppers. Not that you didn’t make damn certain that both the radio was off and the switch was firmly on the setting to keep it inside the tank’s wires. Despite the procedure, there wasn’t much deep conversation on the subject. The motives were obvious, your crew were intrinsically aware that you had all been up to your neck in this brand of nonsense practically since you had met, and you were all watching out for each other. You weren’t demanding anything of them that you didn’t think they could demand of you. This wasn’t even supposed to be a fight, but a stage play. All of you were meant to hide, take cover, until the deed was over as quickly as it began and you were left with but smoke and the scent of cordite. Hopefully, as well, a dead mosshead. Not yours, of course, not that you would call Malachi a mosshead.Was it unreasonable to take the Combat Car instead of the Tank? Its size and armament (and technically very small amount of armor around its engine and doors) were reassuring, but again, did you really expect to fight? It probably wasn’t a good idea to tempt it…eh. The machine guns were on relatively limited arcs and the cannon crew space was very exposed indeed. You could be excused from not immediately jumping on that in an ambush so far behind the lines.
All of that established, even though not everybody was confident, you had the Car sent over, and in the meantime, you got Zohl’s unit’s frequency. Of course, you wouldn’t reasonably dare speak so openly of what you’d claim to find on open radio communications, but, maybe you could hint at it?When you called up the 13th Mechanized Guards directly, the last thing you expected to hear was Zohl greeting you immediately.“Hello there,” he said smoothly, as though he were there in person rather than speaking over a radio, “I received word that you were requesting contact with this unit, so I provided my personal frequency. I hope I was not being presumptuous?”“…No,” you coughed. Unexpected convenience, but considering the presence of listening posts on both sides of the border combing for whatever they could find, you still had to keep some level of obscurity over all of this. “I wanted to meet you, so we could…trade one favor for another.”“You need my help, Coordinator?” Zohl sounded particularly smug about this, “I would only be so glad to offer to extend my hand in cooperation.”“…Yes.” Zohl wasn’t going to live to feel that elation over having won you over for much longer. “I need your help, as much as I loathe to ask for it. I don’t expect any charity. That’s why I’ve got something to offer in return before I tell you what I need help with.” A dodge, from actually coming up with a story for what you needed help with. Let Zohl’s imagination fill in that gap. “You know of that band of Penal troops that joined with the mercenaries that deserted that other Kommissar?”“I heard that the Coordinator dispatched them in expert fashion, yes.” “Tch.” You clicked your tongue against that disingenuous flattery, but didn’t transmit it. “Yes.” Treating Zohl with a polite tone now would be against any other interaction you had with him. You had to be consistently displeased with even interacting with him, which wasn’t hard to do. “They had something belonging to the Kommissar that was…interesting. Does the number Twelve have any significance to you?”A pause. “Please, Coordinator, there is no need to be coy. Did you come across sensitive information?”“That appears to have been stolen or lost, yes.” Definitely stolen.“I would indeed be very interested in reclaiming something lost by a dear, unfortunate brethren. Shall I send somebody to pick it up?”“Er. No. It’s something of a nature I’d rather not hand off to anybody but you. What if it got lost and I was blamed?” Yes, defensive, suspicious. You had to remain what you were by default.
“Hmm, that is a decent point…” Feigning disappointment. This might as well have been a test by Zohl- ready to admonish you for anything else. “I suppose you have a place you wish to meet me, then?”…Now you were truly getting suspicious. “Are you sure you want me to reveal that on the radio?”“Unless you plan to make this trade in quite a long time from now?”“No,” you relaxed unwillingly, “No, I want to meet at…ten to eleven hundred hours. I’ll try to be there at ten thirty, but I might be a little late. I’d rather not be kept waiting, since I plan to have a light escort…I should hope you’d do the same, considering the nature of this…” “Yes, yes,” Zohl said dismissively- did he not actually care? “Ten thirty, yes? Where?”“There is a cottage in the woods to the north and east of my old camp, the one that was attacked and destroyed by Gerovic. It used to be occupied- it isn’t now. I thought of meeting outside of there. It’s out of the way, but easy to find if you’re looking for it.”“Done, then.” You could hear the smirk on Zohl’s face. Was it possible…that he was more interested in your contrition to him than anything you had to offer? Certainly, it was, even if it was in the form of you mandating that you make it an even exchange... “Would you like to speak of anything else? This favor you need, perhaps? A dinner at a later time? Your friend brought quite a charming acquaintance when we met, maybe you could show me your own companion once more?”>Anything else to bring up or bluff at Zohl with?>Talking to this man put a feeling of grease building up in your ears. The less you chatted, the better. He was going to die soon anyways.>Other?
>>4436020>Talking to this man put a feeling of grease building up in your ears. The less you chatted, the better. He was going to die soon anyways.He probably suspects something, but hopefully not that we would even consider making an attempt at his life.
>>4436020>Talking to this man put a feeling of grease building up in your ears. The less you chatted, the better. He was going to die soon anyways.So ugh, what do we give him if this fails or we get black bagged on the way, its not like we have the documents on hand.That and we sorta just revealed we know of its existence on radio
>>4436020>Ask him to make sure that the Kommissar who lost those papers will not find out about this exchange.Let Zohl do our opsec for us.
>>4436020Waaay too easy. Too bad we don't have the helichoppers so they can report his movements and how many friends he's bringing.I'm very worried that instead of meeting us covertly he's going to use this opportunity to surround and arrest us. Then just take our blackmail material plus whatever else he's investigated as justification.Now I miss the tank.>Talking to this man put a feeling of grease building up in your ears. The less you chatted, the better. He was going to die soon anyways.I can't think of anything to say to try and keep him from trapping us now without it sounding suspicious, if he isn't actually planning too arrest us.>Other?Apprise Von Metzeler and Krause of the situation discreetly. Maybe that they shouldn't be too far away if this goes ploin shaped.Just ideas for basic planning, maybe go to Wielzci and get him to commit to the Liberation if he hasn't already. Some Ellowian boys from his command with Anti-tank rifles might help balance the odds. Even if all they do is shoot once to disable any mechanized units and scatter away afterwards. Figure out where that cottage is on a map and make sure the mortars are manned and alert. The Mortar team probably be surprised if we call something in so behind the lines but better to use them if we mistakenly zero on Zohl in our 'panic' to escape then it'd be a tragedy.
>>4436214This all sounds good to me
>>4436214I disagree that he's going to try to arrest us. All of this seems within how he has acted in the past, he's always been jumping at any opportunity to "work with us". No need to panic and potentially tip off Ellowian collaborators in our company out of desperation just yet.I'm against setting up mortars/AT rifles, they can potentially attack the NLF, and trying to talk to them to explain why they shouldn't is a risk I don't want to take until we're almost ready to leave.>>4436020Otherwise:>Talking to this man put a feeling of grease building up in your ears. The less you chatted, the better. He was going to die soon anyways.
>>4436351>Those abs on that owlAmazing
>>4436038>>4436044>>4436310Hang up.>>4436186Keep this on the down low>>4436214>>4436271Prepare a direct backup plan>>4436310Perhaps scale it back some though.As a reminder though, in your Combined units, the Ellowians are solely in their platoons, the heavy weapons are crewed by Netillians. For the actual decision, I'll balance out the scale of this with the suggested downsizing, so that you have your allies ready to respond but don't blow everything you've got. Writing.>>4436044>So ugh, what do we give him if this fails or we get black bagged on the wayRichter sort of went over this in his head- the long and short of it is that if this fails it'd probably be safest to go into hiding or flee, considering it would draw direct suspicion or ire of a locally influential member of Netilland's ruling party. Suffice it to say, this is a risky play.
>>4436351No comment on how birds feed their young.
>>4436351I like this image a lot more than I should.
The less time you spent talking to this slimeball, the better. When you wanted a man dead, the last thing you wanted was for him to directly waste more of your time, but you only had a singular subject left to address. “I trust that you’ll handle the affairs of your office in full?” That of a Captain of State Security- of making sure the parties responsible for losing the files would be kept in the dark. “I have my office for good reason, Coordinator. There is nothing to be concerned about.”“Then that will be all.” You cut off and disconnected yourself from the tank’s electronics. “Get off that frequency,” you told Hans over the intercom. You wouldn’t need it anymore. “Get ready outside the tank,” you told the crew, “I’m going to make the other officers aware of what’s going down.”“Ponytail, too?” Hans asked.…He must have been referring to Wielzci. “…Not yet.” That was a careful balance to break, there. Actively conspiring with the Ellowians could very well doom them- they didn’t assume you were their ally, and so kept their natures concealed even if it seemed clear to you they were up for resuming the fight for their nation. The time and place for that wasn’t now, not before the Defense Party’s confidants weren’t poking their noses in what you did. “I’ll be right back.”Von Metzeler and Krause were gathered up, and you spoke with them a good twenty meters from anybody else. Nobody present at the tanks would have sold you out, you were sure, but one couldn’t be too careful about what was to be known amongst you. A glance to Von Metzeler’s empty sleeve- and another to Krause’s leg. He was whole, but very well could have not been. How much of your luck could be attributed to placing your fiancée in danger, you dimly thought.A succinct explanation of the situation and what would happen was given to your two subordinates, and you finished it all with a request of them, not a command. “It’ll be happening in the cottage in the woods, where Yva used to be staying,” you pointed northeast, “In case anything goes wrong and you don’t hear back from me within an hour of the shooting starting…I’d appreciate if you could take your tanks and come and get my crew and I.”“After what we’ve been through, would we not?” Krause snapped accusatorily, “I only question if this is the best method. It’s awfully risky to put your own head on the line here.”“I’ve decided that it’s necessary,” you said, “I’m asking this because I can only put my own head on the line. My crew will be there, but as an escort, not as…collaborators.”
“You’ve been throwing yourself in the midst of things altogether too much lately,” Krause said heatedly, pointing at your face, “If you hadn’t already pulled the trigger on this I’d be of the mind to lock you in your room until it’s time for us to leave.”“You have my full permission to do that once this is done.”“…Von Tracht,” Von Metzeler spoke up, “Your Retinue is at greater risk than any of us should this go poorly. With that in mind…Krause is plenty able to support you on his own…With my current composure, I have decided that it would be best for my tank and crew to return to the UGZ to secure ourselves…for a potential speedy upheaval…”“I…” you paused, and tried to weigh the options in your head, but Von Metzeler cut you off while you were just beginning to hesitate.“…Von Tracht. You may be Coordinator, but as far as the Archduchy is concerned…you and I are equally Lieutenants. Considering that you are risking your status as a superior under the authority of Netilland…whatever attempt you are thinking of making to hold authority over me will be backed by naught. Have faith in Krause…and yourself…”“Fine.” You replied curtly to Von Metzeler, “Fine then. Junior Lieutenant, you know the place?”“I do,” Krause nodded, “I won’t be right there, but I’ll be close enough to come around, but still be able to deny I was at the ready.”“Alright.” You heard the sound of the Combat Car approaching, being delivered at your request, “It’s about time. We’ll reconvene when this is over…hopefully in our favor.”-----The ride over was silent- the only sound as you and your crew embarked upon the Combat Car again was its loud, clanking engine, Twaryians having no fondness for more subtle mechanisms from the churning sound it made beneath the hood, practically bleeding out under the car and over the sides. Even so…with your crew all in this same vehicle, you got the funny sensation that you could get used to it. Some tank commander you were, getting this sense of satisfaction from riding in a truck like some panzer grenadier dispatch rider. Maybe it was just to distract from you tumbling yourself into potentially hideous danger yet again.Nostalgia as you passed the old camp. So much time spent there, so many idle hours winnowed away with the winter breeze. Now it was a wrecked ruin, and in time, when Ellowie was whole once more, it would be an inexplicable relic of a dark time. Would you be remembered as the hero here?
Past the camp, the sun climbing as you became expectedly late to the meeting. The point wasn’t to put off meeting with Zohl, of course- it was to give the NLF plenty of time to scope out their opposition. What they’d hopefully not have to deal with for too long once Zohl was gunned down in the opening barrage. He didn’t have any reason to outright suspect you, let alone think you’d take his life- that you’d very much like to if you were enemies, but you had parried his attempt to expose you, in exchange for the NLF being damaged to a degree you hadn’t been informed of. You hoped their sacrifice was worth this opportunity…however fleeting it might turn out to be.Signy’s pistol was at your side, but you had no confidence in being able to use it unless you tackled Zohl to the ground and put the barrel right in his eye. You had already been reduced to the most inexpert of marksmen, but now your right hand had been crippled in a way that prevented you from using a gun with it at all- you’d have to use your left hand, a hand that was still far from transforming into becoming the good hand it now had to be. Ahh…you felt your face sag as you looked down at your mutilated hand, was there a worse place Bertram could have shot you?…Well, he could have shot your manhood off. When you thought about it that way, things weren’t nearly as bad. At least you don’t have a bullet where your balls used to be was a dimly motivating thought.Even from a distance away, you saw the bulk of the armored personnel carrier that the Mechanized Guards used near dwarfing the cottage. So they were there, but was Zohl? Only one way to find out, as your blood chilled with the consideration that he might not be, that whomever he had sent would insist that you hand over what you had.
The Combat Car slowed to a gradual stop a good fifteen meters away from the Cottage, equidistant from the APC, which had Mechanized Guards all about the area around it. Each of them had the distinct infantry protection harness that your 4th platoon now sported- normally only given to assault teams, but evidently provided in bulk to Netilland’s elite. They weren’t resistant to full powered rifles and machine guns, you faintly recalled, not from actual knowledge but from your efforts to re-educate yourself, but they resisted small caliber rounds and shrapnel quite well. Combined with their training and superior equipment, self-loading rifles in all of their hands, they’d prove a challenge for any opponent let alone insurgents. Drachen had said he was providing his best, and you certainly hoped his best were at least a match for Netilland’s best with the advantage of numbers and surprise.Drachen had considered attacking the full unit outright, on the other hand. Whether that was overconfidence in his own troops, underestimation of the enemy, or indicative of some secret weapon to balance the odds, you’d have to see.As you looked around at the troops, the cottage, the APC…you didn’t see Zohl, though.“Hup!” one of the Netillians called out, “You must be the Coordinator!”“…Yes,” you said back, getting out of the Combat Car, “Where is the Kommissar?”“Do you have the thing you wanted for him?” the soldier asked, not answered your question, and the hairs on the back of your neck stood at end.The immediate response, rehearsed in your head all the way here. “I’m giving it to him and only him. Where is he?”“He might be late,” the soldier said, “Why don’t you just hand it off? The 13th Mechanized Guard, us, we’re the cream of the crop, in case you haven’t heard. We can be trusted with this sort of thing, you know?”>Take offense. Say that this is a matter between you and Zohl, not between any common soldier. Demand that Zohl come here this instant, or you’ll leave and take this as an insult.>Express doubt. The Kommissar wasn’t here- what if he didn’t approve of this bunch? Should you fear for your safety?>Claim you don’t have it with you. The truth? Yes, but the point as far as these men were concerned was that you weren’t dull witted enough to just bring it along right off. You’d call for it once Zohl came here. >Other?
>>4437506>Other?GET BACK IN THE CAR.>Claim you don’t have it with you. The truth? Yes, but the point as far as these men were concerned was that you weren’t dull witted enough to just bring it along right off. You’d call for it once Zohl came here.Say that what we have is for Zohl only and that they have a problem with that to bring it up to the Komissariat. We didn't prep any other assets at all did we? Well here goes, glad we at least have the car.
>>4437506>Take offense. Say that this is a matter between you and Zohl, not between any common soldier. Demand that Zohl come here this instant, or you’ll leave and take this as an insult.We already arranged with Zohl over the radio for him to pick it up in person, for all we know he is just screwing around in the APC. Stick with the plan.>>4437531No, do not get back in the car. Taking off running the second we don't see Zohl screams guilt.
>>4437506>Take offense. Say that this is a matter between you and Zohl, not between any common soldier. Demand that Zohl come here this instant, or you’ll leave and take this as an insult.
>>4437536Not run, just not exposed. Especially if what we have is so sensitive that the Komissar has to collect it personally. And it's freezing out, better to wait in the heated car.
>>4437543Eh, it's a bit weird to go back to the car when we're expecting an immediate handoff. The car doesn't exactly offer much protection anyways. In fact, it might be better for us to be out here so the NLF has a better shot at non-lethally hitting us.Also, isn't the combat car open topped?I really feel saying we don't have it with us is a big tip off that something's going down. There's little reason not to keep it on our person or close to it when going to a meeting expecting to hand it off.
>>4437506tanq, do we have a signal to start the ambush or will the NLF do it on their own initiative once they have a bead on Zohl and us?Asking because we MAY (maybe we can walk away without too much suspicion?) just want to initiate if Zohl isn't coming out.
>>4437549>Also, isn't the combat car open topped?This is the case, yes. The Twaryians dress thickly and don't care much for heating.>>4437550>tanq, do we have a signal to start the ambush or will the NLF do it on their own initiative once they have a bead on Zohl and us?You weren't given a signal or instructions to give one- presumably it's their own initiative.
>>4437506>Take offense. Say that this is a matter between you and Zohl, not between any common soldier. Demand that Zohl come here this instant, or you’ll leave and take this as an insult.The commissar has been so polite in his letters, we had assumed we would be meeting him man to man to discuss our dealings as is common when one meets with nobility. Zohl probably knows this is bullshit but it can probably hold up well enough to the common soldier to allow us to obstinately demand a personal meeting.
>>4437506>>Take offense. Say that this is a matter between you and Zohl, not between any common soldier. Demand that Zohl come here this instant, or you’ll leave and take this as an insult.
>>4437536>>4437540>>4437700>>4438042Call upon the azure in your blood to sniff condescendingly at this peasant. Not like your ancestors came from the same place they did a long time ago, totally.>>4437531Get in the car and say you don't have it and they shouldn't care. Writing!
“Excuse me?” you said haughtily, despite feeling a quavering everywhere but in your voice at this new development. No, you couldn’t be afraid, no matter how much your gut insisted upon it- in this situation, that could kill you. Being above suspicion was your only defense, and the best way to do that…was to mimic how you’d seen Maddalyn act when her authority was questioned. “My business is with Kommissar Alrik Zohl, not some peasant playing with their master’s toys. Remove yourself unless you’re attending me with your superior. I was told I would be meeting man to man.”There wasn’t any suspicion on the Guard’s face as you spat that out…though maybe that would have been preferable to his face reddening, teeth grinding. “What’d you say, Imperial pig? You think you can talk to me like that, shit stick?” He wasn’t even taller than you, but the immediate aggression made you flinch, something the Guard picked up on immediately as he took a step forward into your personal space. You glanced back, and were relieved to see your crew out…especially your squat driver. He’d save you, surely.“Hey, look at me,” the Guard grabbed your face with a meaty hand and wrenched it back towards his own face, “I don’t know how you lot act in the Archduchy but around here, we treat each other with respect they’ve earned. Here I am trying to be helpful and you just throw it in my face with an insult? Let this be a lesson.” The Guard first caught you right in the ribs with a quick, hard knee, then slammed his fist right into your nose, and you blacked out for a moment, finding yourself flat on your ass, dizzy, blood spouting out a searing pain in your nose. “Shit head punk.” The man said as he walked away, sounding fuzzy at first as your senses returned.Choking and sputtering, you stumbled up, pulling yourself on the combat car, looking hopefully for the sight of Malachi giving that Guard a taste of his own medicine…but instead, you felt his hand helping you up.“Yahrredard.” Malachi muttered unhelpfully. A muddled statement you had no real response for. “Okhay?”“Yeah, I’m fime,” you groaned, leaning back on the combat car, feeling a numbness spreading in your nose then being replaced with gnawing pain, “Pfeh.” You spat on the snow.“I uh, don’t really know why you did that,” Stein agreed nervously, “He could have torn your head off if he wanted to, Commander.”“I diduh’t want to dalk duh him.” You turned over and rested your head on the car, before prying yourself back to a straight posture. You’d been beaten worse before, suffered worse humiliation. Finally you grew aware of a snickering near you. “I do’t see whad’s so damn fummy,” you said sorely.
“Eymabaeg baed noble, feaer me,” Jorgen said in some lighter pitched mockery of your voice, “Oogfh!” The northman made a pratfall, doubling over. “Ehhahahehehheh.”Whatever. Your loader finding levity in the situation was actually helpful if you thought about it. It made this appear completely normal, which it absolutely wasn’t. Not that it didn’t piss you off a bit- enough to maybe ask Jorgen if he was really laughing at you later. You would happily take Anya’s jabs, but your crew?Maybe you shouldn’t be so damn prideful when that was all a show in the first place?Fine, fine. Getting punched in the face and kneed in the ribs just put you in a disagreeable mood.“Hey, quit laughing,” Stein said defensively as he touched a cloth to your nose to stop the blood dumping out of it, “The Commander’s pretty hurt-““All of you shut up a moment,” Hans said with uncharacteristic roughness, “I want to keep an ear out.” He had a headset on, and was glaring at the radio set. “Just in case anybody tries to reach us.” You could tell though, just staring at him and his expression, that he wasn’t listening for friends.You didn’t dare ask what he was listening for, but you trusted that he’d make noise about it if necessary. Relax, Richter. This will go just fine. Hopefully the worst has already happened.Nobody bothered you afterwards, as the Guard evidently went back to tell his fellows to not bother interacting with the likes of you. Good. If you refused to be proper with anybody but Zohl, he had no choice but to come here. Then…you’d have to trust the NLF’s marksmen. If only you had Hilda here………No, you couldn’t ask more of her. That had been why you’d sent her away in the first place. Would you have, though, if you knew everything that would happen to you, around you? Had you been foolish for the sake of sentimentality?Mope once Zohl is dead. Here he comes now.
You snapped your head up that sound of an APC approaching. Finally, you drew yourself up, holding a fresh cloth to your nose, the initial flow having finally ceased, you could end this scheming creature who was naught but a scourge upon this world.An eye kept on that APC as it drove past, stopped- its back opened…Zohl didn’t come out yet, but you stared with spite towards those doors perpendicular to you. That Guard who had humiliated you went up, was talking to somebody…you heard laughter. Good. We’ll see if your final breaths being laughs will serve you when your sins are judged by the Most High.That smug bastard finally came out, and your smoldering thankfully kept you from smirking. Not that he didn’t look absolutely joyous to see the state of you, as he practically skipped over, his Kommissar’s gold-embroidered black cloak whipping about behind him.“Frankly, Coordinator, as unfortunate as it is to see you in such a state, I can’t help but feel happy that we’ve finally begun to come to accords, hm? Though perhaps it took sufficient wounding of your pride..?” That look on his face was so irritating, that self-satisfaction in beholding you so beaten down in body, and presumably, in spirit. Bastard.A breeze. Zohl glanced off to the side with it…and then…>Roll 1d100 for NLF stealth. How many dice you get to roll for the best of afterwards depends on how low that d100 is. 1-10 is four dice, 11-45 is three, 46-75 is two, 76-100 is one. Lower is better for all.
Rolled 88 (1d100)>>4438531
>>4438543You get one!DC 60 Roll Under.
Rolled 10 (1d100)judge help us
>>4438547>>4438554Well you know what they say about only needing to be lucky once.
The breeze stopped. Your mouth went dry. Then…POOOWW!!An ear splitting explosion, and Zohl was no longer looking at you- or anywhere. He’d vanished from sight, and with a terrified glimpse down, you saw that his head above the neck had been utterly obliterated.“An anti-tank rifle!” One of the Netillian veterans shouted, “Ambush! Ambush!”To their credit, Netilland’s elite were no slouches when it came to unexpected battle. As pops and cracks rang out all over, they expertly took cover and returned fire, at first chaotically, then expertly, in what little time you had to observe before the cracks grew near you and you recovered your senses. You could hardly contain your elation at the grisly sight of a decapitated corpse- We’ve come to accords on your death! Ha ha ha!A bullet buzzed just by your face, and you were snapped out of it, a strong hand tugging you around the combat car’s flank- though from the sound of things, there was fire from all sides, and the Fear was quickly overpowering…hide, hide it said, or run…anything!>As far as anybody knew, this was an enemy attack. Rally your crew and “fight” back! (Requires a resolve roll)>Dive under the Combat Car- nobody could blame you for hiding, and it was the best cover to take to avoid being a target…>Pile in the Combat Car and flee- what reason did you have to be around here any longer?>Dash into the cottage- it was the best cover around, after all, fully walled off and with convenient windows.>Other?
>>4438593>As far as anybody knew, this was an enemy attack. Rally your crew and “fight” back! (Requires a resolve roll)Over confidence and all that jazz, but every chance we got to fight back against the fear is one we should take.Also makes us look less suspect in the long run.
>>4438593>>As far as anybody knew, this was an enemy attack. Rally your crew and “fight” back! (Requires a resolve roll)Based on how this attack goes, I think we get more options to work with if Zohl's troops see us trying to fight back. Things like rallying Zohl's infantry around our armored car or something like that to show that Zohl isn't around to give orders and we took command might let the ambushers get the message and get them to back off a bit.
>>4438593>>As far as anybody knew, this was an enemy attack. Rally your crew and “fight” back! (Requires a resolve roll)
>>4438593Hell yeah, we got him. Was really worried he wasn't going to show up.>As far as anybody knew, this was an enemy attack. Rally your crew and “fight” back! (Requires a resolve roll)Remember we're supposed to get injured here to help remove suspicion from us. This option seems like the best to both get us injured and seem like we didn't know this was coming.
>>4438593Since we have to fight against the fear here, and we're in "combat", is there a possibility for us to gain a valor point?
>>4438607>>4438629>>4438693>>4438729Go in full on pretending.Of course, if the resolve roll is failed, you'll randomly go for one of the other ones.Give me three rolls, averaged, DC 50 roll under.>>4438738You don't really know the nature of how restructuring your willpower works, of course, but considering that your psyche was fooled by a bad trip on mountain drugs, it could be worth trying!
Rolled 27 (1d100)>>4438872pray
Rolled 48 (1d100)>>4438872
Rolled 87 (1d100)>>4438872
I'm going to say that as usual with averages, I should have said "Up to three" as that was what was meant, so I'll discount the ones besides that initial one as contrition. Anyways, I'll be eating then writing.
>>4438914was wondering about that, thanks tanq
Deep breaths, in and out…gathering thoughts in the middle of a fight. Idiotic, but you had to trick yourself to not be overcome. It’s all fake, it’s all a performance, your life isn’t in danger. It was close…but the thudding of your heartbeat in your ears didn’t drown out your thoughts, it didn’t unwind your nerves to strands. “Sdand, Mem!” you said in a phrase that was supposed to look good for an audience but with your nose in its present state sounded like it was being spouted by a fool, “We fide!”You looked about to your men, and every single one of them was giving you a look like you were insane.“Ah’ll geddonde gun,” Jorgen said, opening a steel door, “Caennehn’s sueceaede.”“I godda dell de oders whad’s goin on,” you sputtered as you got up and sprinted for the armored personnel carrier.“Wait!” you heard Stein shout, but your entire role here was to be injured in the fighting. Acting in a safe manner wouldn’t let the NLF even try to get a shot on you. Please let it be just a little flesh wound, you thought to yourself.A machine gun’s slow chattering accompanied repeated cracks just over your head as you scrambled towards the APC…at a not at all impressive pace as you dragged your still recovering leg behind you, falling at one point and proceeding at a comical on-one-knee gait the rest of the way, scrambling up by the rear doors of the APC you headed to. By it was a squad leader of the Guard, shouting orders.“Get that Munitions Caster firing! I want bombs in every direction we can sling them!”CHOOMPH. CHOOMP. CHOOMP.The turret of the APC let out a series of heavily delayed hollow thudding noises- some sort of mechanical stationary variant of the shell thrower?“The hell are you doing here!?” the squad leader demanded, as a crack rang out and a harsh pchang! clanged off and to the side of his breastplate. “Agh! Eat this!” He snapped back, not sounding particularly wounded as he cracked off a series of shots with his self-loading rifle. It must have been a glancing blow. “Get in cover, you!”“I-I’m not,” you coughed out, “We need to fight these people off. I’m going to have my people concentrate, concentrate fire south, alright? Your commander’s dead, I’m taking-““I’m well fucking aware,” the Guard cut you off, “We can handle this. South, you said? Go and get that fire out now, then!” A few more pings as a shot bounced off a door, ricocheting inside the vehicle. “God damn it,” the Guard swore, “get going!”>Roll 2d100 for the NLF Elite’s ambush and retreat scores- higher is better. Their Combat Skill is 60, against the Guard’s Combat Skill of 90. Also, roll another 1d100 for the hit against you- the lower the roll, the worse a hit it is for you, but it won’t be lethal or long term crippling even if it goes as bad as it gets.
Rolled 68 (1d100)>>4439030
Rolled 94 (1d100)>>4439070Im dumb, thought it was two sets of 1d100 not a 2d100. Heres the second set.
Rolled 95 (1d100)>>4439030
Rolled 66, 78 = 144 (2d100)>>4439073To be honest it was meant to be sets but I've been slipping up on specific terminology it seems. Anyways.>>4439075Gee Coordinator that's an awfully nice flesh wound.
Rolled 4, 3 = 7 (2d4)>>4439080128-156: Two degrees of defeat154-168: One degree of defeatTo be expected fighting Netilland's elite, really, but all one can expect is to not be beaten hard, no?
Off scrambling back you went, but right as you set out…A crack, then sharp pain in your right arm that you had against the wall- your good hand snatched out to grab it, and you felt the blood, the burn…and decided to not think about it as you ran back in some lurching lope that felt as stupid as it probably looked. If you were one of the NLF people you’d try and shoot yourself just for how you felt then, but thankfully, only near misses came at you…moreover, the return fire had fully increased in volume. If the NLF were wise here they wouldn’t linger much longer.“I-I’m back,” you panted as you collapsed by the combat car, Jorgen letting off controlled bursts while hunched behind one of the machine guns, “Direct fire south, though they shouldn’t be around much longer…” Chping! “Shit!” you jumped as a bullet splashed against the solid steel of the center of a wheel a few steps away.“Commander, you’re hurt,” Stein gestured to your arm, and you released your grip on it to give it a look…there wasn’t much blood, it seemed, and thought the burn was there, when you felt the wound, it was…not near the center. No bone breaking, splintering. A sigh of relief that came out more as a strangled honk. “It’s fine,” you said, “Get on the cannon, fire south, quickly now…”A few more shots told you to take cover on the other side of the car, and you threw yourself into the snow and crawled under the car to the other side. You pulled out your pistol and shot a few rounds south as the cannon began to swivel about, but by the time it was pointed south…there was no more incoming.The cold air blew away the gunsmoke, and there was an odd silence, until you heard the Guards call to one another.“Status report!”“Three wounded, sir, not counting the Kommissar.”“Fucking hell,” the squad leader crunched over to you with a furious look, “Fuck was all this? Should have just handed off the damn info. Bet they came around because we were waiting around so fucking long.”“…The Kommissar was the one who was late, don’t try and lay blame for this on me,” you said sorely.“So you’re going to give it over now?”“Hell no,” you snapped back, huddling back, “You think I’m going to give over sensitive information to you after this? I’ll hold it until I find a secure source again.”For a moment you were concerned that the Guard leader would punch you like his subordinate did, and he very much looked like he wanted to, but he scoffed and waved you off. “Get the fuck out of here. You can bet I’ll write something up on this clusterfuck. Judge Above.” He turned and called out to his men, “Fan out and round up any wounded enemies! We gotta see if this was chance or if they knew we were meeting here somehow…”
“…Let’s go,” you muttered to your crew, and as you went off, a hasty bandage tied around your wound (a deep gouge with splatter from the bullet scuffing elsewhere around, but hardly a permanent or particularly nasty affair), you had a lingering sense of dread. Not that Zohl would suddenly reappear like Liemanner, or get back up like a Soulbinder might- thank heaven- but that that Guard Leader would actually get anywhere in his follow up. Well, even so, he wouldn’t have anything overnight. There was time to at least do this last favor for the King…Though perhaps it could be left to somebody else, you thought as you touched your nose, felt your arm. Yes, best to clear up the situation with Krause, in waiting for “anything wrong,” and get yourself treated at a hospital…-----January 27, 1933Things were…alright.In your absence, the evacuation of the Eastern Resistance Army had proceeded- rather, their surrender, capture, and handing over to the Gendarmes proceeded, without any opposition as Zohl had been eliminated. You could only hope that Zohl’s prisoners would do just a little better without the torment of that blight upon the world. An NLF missive came to you the day after, lamenting losses among their elite, but celebrating that Kommissar Zohl had had proper vengeance taken upon him. A weak willed investigator had tried to ask about the “sensitive information” that you had met with Zohl about, supposedly, but you denied any involvement, that it was an affair between you and Zohl, not whomever this man was. With the help of an official of His Majesty, and the calling of some help from Maenesko over in the UGZ…he was out of your hair for now.Anya was finally walking about again, and her arm had escaped her sling. She was now less beaten up than you were. A relief- you had been afraid she’d never start to trend towards the better again after you had come back from Sosaldt and seen her with her wounded and exhausted as she was. She still seemed a bit haggard, which wasn’t great since she was scheduled to be attending a party hosted by the King, but… at least nobody was gunning for you all anymore.The Twaryians had cut some sort of deal shortly before the ERA had begun their evacuation, and the confusion in that had smoothened out your own procedures with the ERA and handing them off to the Gendarmes. The Twaryians had protested, but given that theirs were also being conveyed to a safe location over the borders, they didn’t act upon their displeasures. The Twaryians were plenty mum about how many losses they’d taken in the Battle of Dymny, and so too were the ERA, since you hadn’t heard of any boasting. At the very least, they were intact, and the King had sent a note of appreciation through his maid.
You hadn’t heard back from Emma yet. She was going, with your counsel, to go and attempt to possess the Duchess of Diamenglicia, the King’s cousin. Had she succeeded? Was she trapped? You didn’t know, but the Duchess would be attending the party next night, so if you were to find out, it’d be there. Or afterwards, when Emma would presumably loosen any hold on her own.For now, though, you were oddly relaxed. Nothing was being demanded of you, the insurgency had gone nearly silent after the tragic passing (Hah!) of Kommissar Zohl, at least locally, and the Twaryians were still dealing with small uprisings all over, to the point an official Border Zone wide ceasefire was rumored to be being negotiated.…You had slept in, but got up, ate…and wondered what to do to pass the time. Maybe you could ask after the various insurgency affairs? Ask around for small favors that needed to be done? Spar with Anya for the first time in a while? She probably did need to be tightened up again so she’d turn a suitable amount of heads at the social…>You’ve got some free time. What would you like to do?Also>Would you or would you not like to attend this social? You are invited, but given your condition, you could easily excuse yourself…Also, roll 1d2 to see if you got a Valor Point- or rather, if you successfully fooled yourself into thinking you were in terrible danger and braved it.
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>4439189
>>4439189>>4439192>You’ve got some free time. What would you like to do?We've been beaten up and mutilated enough this deployment, so I'd honestly wouldn't mind a timeskip to the social. >Would you or would you not like to attend this social? You are invited, but given your condition, you could easily excuse yourself…We should still go, maybe ask Wladyslaw if he can procure us some prosthetics and a mask so we look more presentable?
>>4439189Take Anya out shooting if there is a safe spot to do so nearby. She bought all those new guns, I’m sure she won’t pass up a chance to shoot them. If she’s in a talking mood fill her in on the situation with Zohl, maybe ask if she feels like the risk was worth taking to go kill him.Also still go to the party, just maybe don’t dance or interact with skittish nobles.
>>4439189>You’ve got some free time. What would you like to do?Focus on getting Anya some rehab; doesn't have to be sparring but get her moving around more. If there's a decent hosptial in Kamiensty maybe they can help.Also still go for the ball.
>>4439189Spar with Anya, then hang out with the crew, then check for letters from the wife.
>>4439189>>4439225And yes. Attend social.
>>4439189>You’ve got some free time. What would you like to do?Maybe small updates on how the crew and Anya are doing but I'm okay zooming over to the social.Would be a good chance to get Mag in good graces with the King and see if he can join the winning side...
>>4439189>This >>4439225, but shooting instead of sparring. We need to at least start on retraining to shoot left-handed anyway.>Attend social
>>4439189>>4439242+1Also look for a new book to read since we finished that one from the Emre guy about radical tanking.
How many times has Richter been shot now? Anyone have a running count?>>4439242I'm with this guy. At least operating bolt rifles left handed looks cool.
>>4439192Looks good then.>>4439199Ask for chicken fingers and a face shield.>>4439206Rehabilitation. Focus on letters four and five.>>4439225Get beaten up, feed the rumor mill. Check for correspondence that has never been conveyed, but one can only hope.>>4439203>>4439242>>4439398>>4439398Go shooting with those new guns.>>4439235Check on crew, look in on girl hair.Writing!>>4439405>How many times has Richter been shot now?Four times, not counting injuries from spalling of course.
Collecting yourself after the final affair with Zohl there would ever be, you felt yourself…inspired. From deep within, there was a new confidence. Was it from eliminating such a spiteful enemy, or was it from throwing yourself into danger, albeit a manufactured one? Either way it was a triumphant feeling, and considering all the ways you’d been hurt and mutilated lately, it was a sorely needed boost.Your Valor has increased to 7. A confident step forth, one can feel they have firmly conquered the worst leg of their journey home.Neither of you were in much a state for resuming sparring, but Anya had recently acquired new weapons, and you needed practice shooting in your new state…yes, going shooting would be good. Maybe you could invite your crew along? Hm, no, you thought, they could get their own time. That, and you would keep your no doubt embarrassing performance to as small an audience as possible.You found Anya lounging about the tanks sitting on an empty crate, a wistful look on her face as she kept away from any of the crews, but when you brought up taking her new guns and going shooting, she seemed to snap out of a daze.“Finally,” Anya jumped to her feet and stretched herself out, “I haven’t shot anything for way too long. I don’t think those guns have been shot ever, and the worst thing in the world’s a gun that never shoots.” She looked over the crews, “You want to take everybody out? Not like we’ve all been busy or nothin’.”“Er, no. Last time there was an audience to both of us shooting, your gun collection expanded.”“Yeah. And?” You only gave her an annoyed glance. ”Alright, fine, I see how it is,” Anya sighed, “C’mon, help me get the stuff. The police volunteers here set up a backstop and poles we can shove targets on. Doesn’t go out too far, but if it’s for fun it don’t matter.”Or if you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn anyways. “So you’re getting your guns? Do you need help carrying them?”Anya gave you a bewildered look. “Huh? ‘Course not. I can carry three guns and a knife easy. Just get the targets.”“Three? A knife?”“The sawn offs and the munitions caster, and the knife pistol thing. Don’t give me that look, the munitions caster’s got rubber rounds. Not as fun as the stuff that blows up, but the people here start freaking out if you throw around the coolest stuff.”“…I see…” you wondered exactly when Anya had learned this. “You’ll be alright getting all that?”
“You’re the one who’s looking like he got run over by a train,” Anya shot back- though her bandages were mostly off, she still had some nasty bruising on her face, and her broken cheekbone and nose were still tautly wrapped. She was up and about more out of defiance than anything. The largest change was that her arm was free again. “You ought to know by now I’ll be fine. Will you be fine?”You got the point, but didn’t answer. “I’ll be right around, then. You’d better not be late.”-----The range that the 5th platoon had set up to practice their absolutely unpracticed marksmanship didn’t look particularly well used. True, they were busy being police, but considering their actual purpose was to slowly drip manpower to the NLF, you’d have appreciated if they at least taught themselves how to use a rifle before then. Oh well, it wasn’t like you were one to talk right now.“Hey,” Anya said as she carefully placed each of the firearms she’d brough on a covered table space.“You’re late.” By ten minutes, even.“I was hungry,” Anya said defensively, “Really hungry. I’ve been starving ever since I got stuck in a bed for forever.”She didn’t say anything about it, though? Fine. She at least sounded like she didn’t intend to be late, even though apologies were one of the least frequent occurrences in her vocabulary. “If you were going to eat I’d have appreciated something as well…”“I’m not heartless,” Anya snapped, as she reached into the satchel at her side and held out a paper wrapped sandwich, “Bread baked today. I waited for the next batch, too. Saurkraut and corned beef, mustard. Cheese.”“What kind of cheese?”Anya blinked at you. “I dunno. Normal?”“…Thanks,” you grabbed the sandwich. If she was hungry she should have said so… “You brought other guns?” Anya looked at the weapons already on the table after you destroyed the sandwich with surprising speed.“The ones I use…used, most.” Your eyes passed over them. A standard issue Strossvald tanker’s revolver, a Hagen carbine, Signy’s automatic pistol. “I have to get used to using them left handed before anything else.”“You’ve only got the correct eye to use for that at least,” Anya offloaded her satchel- it rang and clinked with loose munitions, and studied your face. “Did you really have to piss that guy off? With the busted nose you’re starting to look like I did, except not as cute.”“Hilarious.” You picked out a clip of 7.5mm ammunition, and looked at the Hagen carbine as you put in your ear protection. “I’m going to...figure this out here.” You theoretically knew how to load and work the bolt left handed, but it wasn’t something you had ever done. “You don’t mind helping me, right?”
“Nah. I’m not a good shot, though.” Anya admitted, “A better teacher might be…I dunno, that Hilda girl? Maybe your gunner? You were supposed to be the best one with guns around here.”Not so anymore, certainly, you thought as you pushed the clip into the gun and closed the bolt clumsily. Twisting your hand over the bolt, you pulled it straight back…hm, maybe it would be better with a different sort of bolt action. The Hagen being a straight pull made this…somewhat awkward. Anya noticed it, too.“Maybe I can grab one of the Netillian carbines from ponytail?” she asked, “Those turn up, might be easier.”“It’ll be fine,” you insisted, not quite willing to change out from Strossvald weaponry just yet, “Another time. More important to reestablish myself with this before I get any foreign preferences.” Ch-clink. Another round flew out as you racked the bolt. “You can go ahead and get started, don’t wait for me.”Anya shrugged and picked up the automatic short shotgun. “A’ight.” She opened the action, “I’ve checked this baby out plenty, I could hardly wait to finally give it a go.” One brass shell, then another, three, and a final one in the chamber itself as she close the action with a satisfying sounding ch-clack. “Now then,” she smiled a tight lipped expression of determination at the weapon, then put it over her shoulder and strolled out to the firing line. She swung the gun down as soon as she got there, dug it into her shoulder, and then-CHPOW-CHPOW-CHPOW-CHPOW!“Awww, yeah,” Anya said in a tone that sounded absolutely filthy as she let the gun down and rubbed her shoulder, “Rebellious little fucker, socks you every time you shoot it, but damn does that feel good.” She hopped back to you and thrust the shotgun towards you with a big grin on her face, “Hey, try this.”“You…didn’t have any targets up,” you said flatly.“I wanted a feel for it. It’s fun even without targets. C’mon.”You looked at the shotgun, then back down to the carbine, then to the other guns. It couldn’t hurt, you supposed.“Okay. How many rounds do you have?”“Uh, I dunno,” Anya looked in the satchel and laid out a line of the brass shells, “…Man, they go quick. There’s about twenty, I think?”“I’ll set up the targets first then. Help me with that.” You took the rolled up sheets and headed out towards the poles with tape, “…I wanted to ask about something while we were out, actually.”“Yeah?” Anya took a target from you and unrolled it, “That the reason why you didn’t want anybody around?”“No, not really.” Maybe a little. A look around to make sure you were absolutely alone. “Remember what I told you and the others, about how we took care of Zohl?”“Yeah.” Anya snatched the tape from you, “What about it?” “Do you think the risk to take care of him was worth it?”
“I mean,” Anya sniffed as she taped up a target and flattened it out fussily, “If you didn’t want to take any risks you picked a shit job. I don’t think taking risks is bad, and no, getting his ass out of the picture was worth it, but,” She turned and looked into your eyes, “I don’t like how you did it. Taking a gamble for your friends, counting on them, that’s one thing. Whenever I’ve dived into danger, I didn’t feel bad about it if I could count on the help of my allies.”“You don’t think I could count on the NLF?” you asked as you began to line up another target on the same post.“They’re not your friends,” Anya said as she tore off more tape, “I think you ought to have thought more about that before you went through with what you did. I think if they thought that killing you would have been better for their cause, they’d do it. It’s not that you can’t trust them at all, but you shouldn’t have put your life in their hands.”“You’d prefer I put my life in, say, your hands?”“Yes.” Anya said firmly.“Sorry.”“It’s fine,” Anya said in the slightest irritated tone that indicated that it wasn’t fine, but she was willing to let it go there. “You did bring your guys and all, instead of going all by yourself, so that’s something. Not like that jackass stunt you pulled that got you a shot in the eye.”“Yeah, yeah,” you brushed that off, “One more target and that should do.”“Mmm.”The final target was set up a mere ten meters away, unlike the twenty five meter targets. Practically point blank, but considering your present skills, still likely a challenge. Anya loaded the shotgun again and handed it off to you, before stepping away and crossing her arms, leaning against the table as she observed you.An instinctive right shouldering…then an awkward fix to shoulder it to the left. Judge Above, this felt wrong, you thought as you rested your cheek against the stock and looked down the plain sights to the twenty five meter target. The ten would be for the handguns. CHPOW!You surprised yourself as you pulled the trigger and the shotgun slammed into your shoulder hard enough that it could have been the Guard’s knee from the other day reincarnated. That pain in the pit of your shoulder, the loud report, and your squinting at the target to see if you might have hit it…tested Anya’s patience.“C’mon!” She shouted at you, “Don’t shoot once and put it down, blast away! Imagine your girlfriend’s watching! You think those panties are gonna get soaked with just one little shot? Blow that imaginary fucker at the target into ground fuckin’ beef!”Crudeness aside, she had a motivating point. You pushed the stock into your shoulder again, and yanked your finger back as quickly as you could.CHPOW-CHPOW-CHPOW!
“Yeah, that’s more like it, killer!” Anya shouted, as she stepped up beside you with the short rifle and, without warning, emptied it at the same target. KRAK-KRAK-KRAK-KRAK! “Fuckin’ damn,” Anya laughed as she slung the gun on herself and rotated her right arm, wincing, “This one’s an iron boot too!”You stretched your arm from that fresh beating that the shotgun inflicted upon your shoulder. “I think I should conserve the ammunition now,” you said, “I want to shoot the ten meter target then see how I did.”The revolver was picked out and loaded, but as you pointed it at the ten meter target, Anya stopped you.“Hey, I think I have some advice,” she said.“I thought you weren’t a good shot?”“Better than you, fairy boy,” Anya threw back at you, “But it’s like a knife, you know? You have to treat that gun as an extension of your body. You point that thing with confidence, and you shoot. Right now you’re teetering about with it like you’re trying to point a cannon or some shit.”“Really?” you let your arm down, “What makes you say that?”“I’m remembering how you used to do it,” Anya said, “You just raised that gun, aimed it, and hit. Like you just knew you’d do it. Don’t worry about hitting right now, that’s what I think, at least.”It was entirely fair to be skeptical of Anya’s advice on marksmanship, but given that she based it on what she saw you do, maybe you should try it? You remembered shooting, but bizarrely, you couldn’t recall a thing on how you had done it. Thinking back to when you had impressive aim was like watching your life through your own eyes, but in a different body.Eh. What the hell. You did your best to not hesitate as you tumbled into something assuredly resembling a proper stance and pointed the revolver as though it were an accusing finger, not minding overmuch that you weren’t certain of your aim as you pulled the trigger. Once. A moment. Two more times. Then each other shot conservatively taken. Anya didn’t comment on that you didn’t dump the gun’s ammunition as quickly as the shotgun; the pistol must not have excited her. “Looks like that’s what it took,” Anya observed as leaned forward at the target, hands on her hips. A cocky glance back at you. “Do I get a thanks a lot?”“I’ll call it fair use of knowledge,” you said, though as you stepped towards the target to retrieve it, you did see that the grouping was tolerable. Then again, this was at a post ten meters away. A child could do it. You probably could do that when you were barely over a decade old. “Did better than you did over here,” Anya called out, “Makes me think that you oughta stick with your right hand and find a solution that way.”
“I’ve considered it,” you said as you scratched over the holes in the ten meter target with a grease pencil, “I sent a letter to King Wladysaw about him doing me a favor, getting a mask and prosthetics. He sent a message back late the other day about hand-harness prosthetic finger sets that could do surprising things…but that they were time consuming to make and require a precise fit. I also asked after a mask, for the social. Just one for the damaged half.”“I said you should just leave it out,” Anya said sorely, ”Show those fancy pants what hard core looks like.”That might have been the most flattering thing Anya had ever said about you, but not for a reason you liked. “I’m not going to try and scare the fancy pants. I’m making myself look presentable. I didn’t ask for anything complex, despite the King’s suggestion. Just a decent fit. Plain white, dull finished, wooden.” You stepped back to the guns, and tried to ignore Anya’s clear disapproval at your choice of being proper. “Is your dress done?”“Mmyeah.”“You don’t sound very enthusiastic,” you said as you picked up the Hagen carbine.“It’s alright. Black and silver. Doesn’t show any of my scars, maybe the one here,” she pointed to her upper arm. “It’s got no back all the way down to here,” She put her other hand just above her bottom, “Not really feeling it.”The thought of that was something you could really feel, but Anya had different priorities than what you thought would be most eye catching as friendly counsel. “You don’t have any scars on your back?”“Except for where this one blew out the other side,” she touched her collarbone.“Maybe that’s…the point?” You tried, “Captain Edelschwert should like it.”Anya snorted at that. “So? I’m not dressing up for his sake. Anyways, they’re nice clothes, and it’s not like they’ll let me in wearing anything actually cool,” she straightened out her black leather jacket, as though to call attention to it as an example.“Well, you wear things that are pretty cool most of the time anyways…” you sighed as you pushed a clip into the Hagen and made for the firing line again.>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?Also>Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this->Rifle>Handgun>No Specialization>Other?
>>4440886>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?How have the Ashes been since the move into the UGZ? >Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this->HandgunBy the way does Strossvald have any semiauto rifles in service yet?
>>4440886>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?Talk to her about the Ashes Talk to her about us eventually going back home, if she'd want to be at our wedding, if she'll stick around long enough to join us when we go back into action.Ask if she's had any deep thoughts about the nature of conflict recently, mostly as a joke.>Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this->HandgunWe should focus on handguns first and then have Hilda help us with Rifles when we get back to Stross.
>>4440886>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?Thank her for all the support we received from her.Because honestly Anya's been a huge bro.>Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this->Handgun
>>4440886>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?Ask her to please not hit the Duchess in the nose again if she sees her. Just in case hard punches end possessions for Emma. >Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this-Shotgun, at least with buckshot Richter has a prayer of hitting something close. And if that's not an option then the hangun.
>>4440886>Anything else you want to say or talk with Anya about?Does she know of any other books that would help us recover our knowledge?>Your marksmanship may improve faster focusing on a particular type of firearm. Pick a weapon type if you want to take advantage of this-I would say Rifle but we can focus on that with Hilda, so for now>Handgun
>>4440903>>4441087I have a feeling training with Hilda will only result in unnecessary moral suffering for her.
>>4441096Everything will result in moral suffering for Hilda. For example, I'm more than sure that NOT letting her help us recover our skills will make her suffer WORSE because she'll end up thinking it's her fault or something. You can't win with the poor girl, only mitigate her constant angish and try to get something in return.
>>4441099>she'll end up thinking it's her fault or something it is
Finally here proper again.>>4440896>>4440903Ask about the Ashes.And other stuff.>>4440917Please stop the series of broken noses.>>4441087What's on your reading list?>>4440907Give her a thank.>>4440896>>4440903>>4440907>>4441087Handgun>>4440917Steal Anya's gun and make that your weapon of choice.Writing.>>4440896>By the way does Strossvald have any semiauto rifles in service yet?That depends on what one defines as "in service." Strossvald's military units are equipped to at least a minimum standard by requirement of the Capital territory. Such standards do not presently require self loading rifles, and frankly, the Archduchy hasn't made an effort to introduce them either. So, present numbers of such are limited to personal investments from territorial lords or their associates to very select units. Of course, this isn't particularly unusual on the continent, given the expense of replacing a standard infantry arm.
“Hrrmmpph,” you growled at your wretched performance after you shot ten rounds. You did hit the target- once. Maybe it was too much to try and gain familiarity with every sort of weapon at once, especially with your present disabilities in grip. Handguns seemed to be taking more to you, and admittedly, you had actually used them more frequently than any rifle lately. It’d be better for you to stick to those.>Handgun preference selected. Your shooting ability will be a level higher with Handguns than with long arms.“I think I’ll stick with the handguns,” you said to Anya as you put the carbine down again, “They’ve been what I’ve resorted to as of late anyways.”“Could always try the Munitions Caster. Don’t even have to hit close to blow something up.”Somehow you predicted that not going well. “Maybe.” You picked up Signy’s pistol and slid the magazine out, pushing rounds into it slowly. “Have you seen the Ashes? How are they doing?”Anya exhaled slowly, preemptively exasperated. “They’re fine, but they actually need more attention, which wasn’t what I’d hoped for. I taught them well enough how to survive, but the scamps just can’t stay out of trouble.”“Sounds like they take after their mommy.”“Shut it,” Anya seethed at your jab, “But…yeah, I guess I did act like they did, stealing shit, mostly, but they don’t need to do that, see? A few of them are just being little punks. They shouldn’t do it again though.”“You punished them?”“Yeah,” Anya smirked and mimed tying a knot, “Made them drink a lot of water then dangled them upside down for a bit. Told them I’d come up with something worse if I caught them doing shit again.”A memorable incident in your past flashed to mind again, and you wondered if that sort of punishment wasn’t proper- but then, it wasn’t like Anya had had such inflicted on her by her own mother, who she had told of barely even being there, practically. Compensation in the other direction, maybe?“Honestly,” Anya’s smile faded, “They don’t like being here. At least in the woods they could pretend to screw the Netillians around, but here, they’re just in their designated living space. I’m scared I’ll check on ‘em, and a few will have run away to where their friends went.” She sat down and put her chin in her hands. “At least they can’t starve, not with the rations given out, but there’s not a lot to go around and a few of the bad apples just want more to feel like they’re helping each other, even if they’re taking from their people.” She stretched her arms above her head and leaned back into the table, “Whatever. Maybe I should be satisfied that they’re not being sold into slavery or fucking killed.”
For the topic of a bunch of children, Anya sounded like she had a load to get off her chest. A change in subject might have been appreciated, you thought as you picked up the third magazine to load it.“So,” you led off, “When we head out of here. Will you stay around a little bit, before you leave to wherever?” Anya had declared to you that she’d go off after this, when you didn’t need somebody to watch out for you or something. “Maybe.” Anya kept her eyes on the embankment, staring over it, at the horizon. “Why? I don’t want to be having lead slung at me for some fat old Archduke my whole life, retinue or not. The world seems like a neat place and I want to see it, even if it’s just as a gun for hire.”“Well, I was thinking…maybe you would like to come to my wedding..?”Anya turned her head to stare at you now. Then wrinkled her nose like you’d said a joke. “Nah, I don’t think your bitch girlfriend would like that.”“She’s not a bitch,” you said instinctively, defensively, “She just needs to know you better.” “Sorry, Richter, but,” Anya looked back out, “Pretty sure she doesn’t want to, and the feeling may as well be mutual. Just stirring up trouble for no reason. That marriage thing would be her best day I bet, and I bet sticking my nose in it would just ruin her fun. So no thanks.”“Alright.” It would have been rude not to ask, at least. “Will you be coming back to join me in action again, you think? After you’ve…seen the world a bit.”Anya didn’t say anything right away. “Maybe. Probably.” She said noncommittally, “If I don’t get killed or something.”“All I’m saying is that you won’t stop being my Retinue.” Anya stared into your eyes after you said that, blinking twice. “Your monthly stipend won’t stop, I mean. So there’ll be plenty of money.”“Sure,” Anya looked back over the embankment, “Don’t get too sentimental over some mercenary, though.”“You are my Retinue,” you insisted, “And I’m grateful to you, for all you’ve done. You’ve been…as brethren, I suppose.”“That so.” Anya said faintly, wind rustling through her hair. “Well, you too. Dunno if Hell would’a wanted it that way, but he’s in the ground and we’re up here. So.”
“What would he have wanted?” you asked curiously.“Dunno, but I think he wanted to set me up with you. Think I might have hinted that before, he seemed to have an idea about it, ‘least, never said nothin’ outright about doing that. Probably for the best that it didn’t turn out that way. No offense, but I’m not into you that way at all.”“None taken.” It did give you pause for thought. It had always been difficult to reconcile that you were attracted to this scruffy woman. Had that been as a result of your Uncle trying to look out for his family? Had your father known about this? You doubted it. Frankly, besides your Id, it wasn’t like you were “into” Anya either, and that was a good thing. “…So have you had any other deep thoughts? About what’s going on here?” You asked that in a joking tone. That last question had suddenly felt awkward, even if it was to clear up a truth both of you knew.“I ought to,” Anya said, “Since I’m an Ellowian or whatever. All the posturing and preparing is a bit funny to me. The work around here’s pretty similar to what we used to do all the time in the Hogs, nothing’s really hit the fan yet. Almost wish it would. Closest it got was when we were screwing around with Gerovic. I think everybody should stop putting this all off, but hey, as long as I’m getting paid and I’m not dead, I can’t complain, can I?” She paused. “Guess you wanted a funny answer? How about…I wish there were more hot guys around here?”“There’s plenty,” you half joked back. “Might be a few at that dance. Oh, speaking of…you aren’t going to sock the Duchess in the face again, right?”Anya squinted at you and pointed up and down her body, “Yeah, I’m really curious of what she’ll do next. Nah, I think she’ll just kill me. No thanks. She’s not that fun to whack in the face. Barely.” The bruises on her face had mostly faded away- thank goodness, though her cheekbone still had protective bandages on it. Your eye should have been getting better too, you thought- just one more week? Two weeks? Best to wait two, especially since you’d been punched in the face just the other day.Also, you didn’t want Emma to be punched in the face without warning, but Anya had apparently let it all go. “Well then,” you decided three magazines was plenty, though you’d finished loading all of them way before- you just got distracted talking. That, and you didn’t have anymore for Signy’s pistol, “I guess I ought to practice more now.”
“Yep,” Anya heaved herself up, “I’ve gotta shoot away all these shells, too,” She hefted up the shotgun too, and looked out towards the targets with anticipation in her eyes.“One more thing though,” you said as you stood up, “I need to read a new book. I finished Knights of the New Century a bit ago.”“Have you read through Skarnhorst?”You had done your best, but by your reckoning, everybody needed a break from Skarnhorst’s massive tome once in a while, first reading it. Well, not first, in your case, but it may as well have been. “I’d like to diversify my selection.”“Alright then. How ‘bout The Fiercest Prey? The only book any Yaegir’s bothered writing, or so I hear. By a guy called Saeker.”“Doesn’t ring a bell.”“I figure not, it’s not about tanks, or normal war in general, really. He details what he learned as a scout, an infiltrator. I learned a lot by reading him, though, way back. I’ve been refreshing myself some while I’ve been laid up. All about exploiting people’s weaknesses in awareness and assumptions, using the terrain and all that. I’ll lend it to you, it’s not a long read. Yaegirs aren’t a wordy bunch.”“I figured,” you thought of your own northern forester crewman, “Thanks.”“Enough yappin’,” Anya loaded a shell into the shotgun, “More shootin’! We spent so long, the air don’t even smell like gunsmoke anymore!”----->Hang out with your crew (Doing/talking about what?)>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.>Other/Anything else?
>>4442376>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.
>>4442376Happy smiling Anya is best Anya>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.See if the King sent any fancy accoutrements for those wounded war heroes who can't make the peace sign anymore.
>>4442374I get a feeling Anya is at least a bit upset over getting brozoned.>>4442376>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.
>>4442376>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.Hell may have not wanted it this way, but Anya and by the extent the Iron Hogs are family as far as I'm concerned. Distant cousins maybe, but family all the same. And given all they've done at least Anya should've have come to the wedding, even if Maddy would have seen her as a rowdy inlaw.
>>4442376>>Get your best on for the ball tomorrow.
>>4442405>I get a feeling Anya is at least a bit upset over getting brozoned.For clarification, the tone she took for "That so" is more of a pleasant surprise rather than disappointment.Anyways it looks like you're ready to head off to that social. Writing.
>4 offBetter luck next time, boss>>4442434Agreed, Anya's really grown on me since the shift to Ellowie. Cousins in probably the word I'd use to describe her and Richter as this point too. Alabama Cousin even
You’d have liked to spend all day shooting, but the tragic reality was that Anya’s itchy trigger finger spent most of the ammunition in under an hour. It was fine. You got your practice in, and you both had fun. Though you made a note for next time that you’d need an entire crate of munitions.A plain day was what remained. The troops had things to do, but they were mundane. Patrols, training, nothing out of the ordinary. Things were largely back to the way they’d been in the early days you’d spent here, and though that was dull business, it was at least not unpleasant. Actually, your involvement in anything was so small that you spent most of the rest of the day around your officers and tank crew, doing token maintenance while shooting the shit until time came for the parts you had to be ready for tomorrow, at least, if you were going to even be vaguely presentable.…Your best wasn’t exactly picked from a catalogue. The Ellowian tanker’s jacket wasn’t a fancy thing, but a grey coat made more for function than fashion, the sort even your less courtly inclined self knew wasn’t tolerable for this sort of event. Thankfully, you did still have your Strossvald Panzer officer’s uniform. It had been beaten and stained, but with the remaining time you had an acceptable level of care was provided to it so that it looked well used rather than ratty. Though a thought crossed your mind that a wounded man kept together by gauze bandage might not have been the best representative of that uniform. You’d have to make up for it by insisting your worth of it…even if you couldn’t presently perform to the high standard you admittedly set. Vain for your abilities, or vain for your accomplishments? Some pride was healthy for one in your place, was the retort to yourself.Also, you had no escort to this party. Which was a signal to all in attendance that you were available, regardless of any circumstances outside of the event. For the first time you thought that having half your face burned off might work for you. Thanks Bertram. Rot in hell. Not that you wouldn’t need that mask. You wouldn’t stand making your fiancée look pitiful by being by your side. Thankfully, it came in the evening, and as was expected for a piece purposefully measured, a perfect fit. Though it might not have been as plain as you’d have liked- the artisan couldn’t resist putting in a decorative flair in the form of a wavy wing-reminiscent pattern from the center and through the right eye hole, the only feature on the otherwise blank as requested piece.
An additional unrequested detail was another half- that was properly devoid of features, but clearly meant to combine with the first mask to form a whole. You didn’t know if you wanted to wear a full mask yet, and hoped you never needed too, but at least the courtesy was there, and you could hardly complain about that.So long as it didn’t give you yet another unflattering nickname.-----January 28, 1933Twilight had crept over Perlowieza, and the gates to the castle finally opened to accept the guests to the social. Most well to do guests had waited in their vehicles they had come in, though a fair few smallfolk were crowding the space outside the Castle’s outer fence, where the King had deigned to show some generosity by funding a street fair in a ring around the place, as well as some streets directly below to give the event a good scale. You and Edelschwert had only seen about half of it, and by seen you of course meant that Anya had dragged you both through it. “Sergeant,” Edelschwert had taken hold of Anya’s arm and was tugging at her like he had a dog on a leash, “Didn’t you hear the announcer? The castle is open!”“The stuffy nobles and moneybags elite can wait a couple of hours,” Anya strained against Edelschwert’s grip, “Lemme go! Or come with me!”“You’re to dance with the King, Anya,” you grabbed Anya’s other arm, lightly, since it was her wounded one, but a terrific wrenching forced you to grab her higher up around the shoulder.“Would you piss off?” Anya snapped as she was lifted off the ground by you and Edelschwert, “If you want to go in so bad, take girly hair in and dance with him!”“Your dress isn’t fitted for him,” you replied. Anya’s dress was very closely fitted to her, as she had shown you and Edelschwert before you went. The tailor that made it had a clear goal of flattery, though it was mostly hidden under a long coat considering the chill outside.“It won’t fit much longer,” Edelschwert added, “If you gorge yourself any more on strieble and pierogis.”“Eat me.” Anya stuck her tongue out.“You will want what they’ll have in the castle,” Edelschwert continued to insist, until he thought of something suddenly and let Anya back onto her feet. “What if we came back out here when you’ve done what you need in the castle? Fairs get plenty more lively once it’s properly dark.”
Anya shut up for a second, as she wriggled free of you. “Can I get that in writing?”Edelschwert crossed an arm over his chest and bent in a slight bow. “You have my solemn word and guarantee of it, Lady Nowicki.”“Yeah, knock that off,” Anya muttered sorely, “Friggin’… doing that on purpose. Let’s get this over with, then.”“I promise you, Lady Nowicki,” Edelschwert sounded amused at how Anya recoiled at that, as he slipped his arm into her’s- she was being escorted, after all. “These winter fairs especially improve after dark, as when the sun departs, the fire basins are stoked all around, and the festival lights allowed to glow without the overpowering competition of the sun. It is a poor decision to spend oneself before dark, trust me.”Anya was steadily pacified by that elaboration as her shoulders slouched back into a relaxed slope. “What sort of food do y’think he’s got in that castle?”“You ought not to dance on a full stomach, but,” Edelschwert kept a brisk pace, but slowed a moment to think, “Considering the King’s extravagant nature and need to impress, particularly in his own dwelling, I would not doubt he would have some exotic selections.”“D’you think there’ll be eel?”“Eel?” Edelschwert coughed in surprise, “Perhaps. As well as Iceforth Halibut, West Caelussian Ptarmigan, almost certainly Vynmark Bluff Conies…”“I…don’t know what any of that is.” Anya said lowly, put off guard by this flood of items that even you didn’t know all of.”“A halibut is a fish,” you provided, “and a ptarmigan is a bird.”“Like a chicken?”“…Sort of.” Not particularly, but it was easier to leave it at that. “I’ve never heard of Vynmark Bluff Conies…are they hunted?”“Ha, no,” Edelschwert shook his head, “It would hardly be difficult to do that, but they are specially bred rabbits, practically unable to live in the wild. Fat bodied, very meaty, and covered in soft fur. They are rather hard to care for, however, so they are quite costly creatures. So they tend to have that trait exemplified with equally costly herbs and spices.”“You know a lot about food, huh.” Anya had been listening attentively.“I should hope I do, considering my hobby. I find little opportunity to do it with my occupation, but,” Edelschwert put a hand over his chest in modesty but you could hear his pride, “I am a quite capable cook.”“You-“ Anya sputtered, “You, you can cook?”“Indeed I can. My proud house of knightly folk has some closely guarded recipes that we’ve not let a single chef touch,” suddenly Edelschwert was on guard again. “Though I predict I am about to be made fun of, am I not.”
“…Uh, yeah, ha ha,” Anya choked out. “I mean, no, that’s pretty cool, actually.” Anya sounded like she’d just been punched in the ribs without expecting it.“In any case, there is more to socials than dancing and food and wine. Admittedly not much more,” Edelschwert led her on.“Like getting into fights and stopping assassinations.”“Judge above, please, no,” you finally spoke up, “It would be nice to have a perfectly normal social this time…”-----King Wladysaw XI, High Protector, received you and all his other guests in a grand foyer, from atop a grand staircase made of black and white stone. Glittering crystal chandeliers made miniature stars in a night sky of a dark swirling ceiling easily visible as one craned their neck up to look at the Monarch, who had bedecked himself in a night blue three piece suit with a satin and silver cloak around his shoulders and a platinum gorget at his throat, his hair oiled backwards and a broad grin on his face.“Good ladies and gentlemen, favored guests of my castle and country, I welcome you to this party in celebration of the turn of a new year of our honorable alliance with the North. I’m sure you would like to go to the more brilliant- and more providing- rooms in my home, so I’ll keep my welcome brief. I bid you to tour wherever you like of the castle, save where my servants will obstruct your passage. I guarantee you, I am not hiding the most interesting places! I would be loathe to not put such on display, after all. So come! I officially open my house to you all! Have the run of the place for fifteen minutes, but I bid you then to return to the ballroom- the dances shall start officially then, and I urge you to come and witness the most lovely and talented guest of honor…”…
Judge Above, the mask hadn’t helped at all to dissuade the thirsty women about the place.You had left Anya and Edelschwert to go elsewhere for now, but you were being hounded by young women. Wasn’t your mutilation supposed to make you ugly? Damn it all.“You are the masked man?” A long black haired slender young woman in a white dress slit to the thigh had sidled by your flank, a wide and flowing garden of silk flowers forming a band around her just below her collar. “Does that mask have a story?”“Not one I want to share,” you said gruffly for the third time in under ten minutes.“Are you sure?” the woman put a hand on her hip and twirled a flute of wine in one hand, “Perhaps you’d like to come upstairs for some drinks? I’ve no partner for the dance, but I’d rather not have a man so boring that they have no secrets to trade with me…”“Go away.” You sighed and went down the hall back towards the ballroom, where nobody was dancing yet but instrumentalists were playing (quite new, apparently) compositions regardless. This was nonsense. When you had been forced to come to court those few times in Strossvald you hadn’t gotten anything near this level of attention. Though that last white dress would have looked absolutely fantastic on Maddalyn…Yes, you could have not come here at all, yet you had. Ostensibly not to be hit on by the entire single female population of Netilland’s neo-nobility, or…no, that last woman had had an Ellowian accent. Whomever happened to be here.…Was that Maenesko you saw at the other side of the ballroom? How incredibly odd.>Find and chat up somebody. This was a social gathering, after all, and it wasn’t like you were dancing with anybody. (Who, about what?)>Bite the bullet and find some woman to hang on your arm so that you’d be left alone. This was getting to be tiring. (What sort?)>Get away from the party and go to the street fair outside. That was more your speed anyways.>Other?
>>4444866>Find and chat up somebody. This was a social gathering, after all, and it wasn’t like you were dancing with anybody. (Who, about what?)Go talk to Maenesko, find out how he managed to get an invitation and if he knows if any other notable Netillians were invited.
>>4444883This works, maybe ask him how the Zohl's unfortunate passing has impacted the political situation.>Other?See if you can spy Mabel around, would be nice to hear (discreetly) if the ERA came through okay.
>>4444883>>4444892Supporting these. Ask if he's heard anything from the higher-ups about Zohl's death beyond that guy we managed to blow off. Maybe tease him on whether he's been able to find a good date here yet considering the amount of thirsty women.
>>4444862Magnus is SO husband material.>>4444866Supporting >>4444883 and >>4444892
>>4444866>Bite the bullet and find some woman to hang on your arm so that you’d be left alone. This was getting to be tiring. (What sort?)Try to find a kindred spirit to make an alliance of convenience with to help fend off each other’s interested parties.
>>4444866Supporting>>4444883>>4444892Better get used to court and socials Richter, after Ellowie you might have to attend a lot more of it.
>>4444866These >>4444883 >>4444892 >>4444904 are all cool. Keep an eye (1) out for the Duchess while you're at it.
>>4444883>>4444892>>4444904>>4444908>>4444962>>4444892>>4444962>>4445808Talk to fish guy, find a maid.>>4444935Find a woman who doesn't have any scars or mutilations. Yet.Writing.>>4444908>Magnus is SO husband material.You're already engaged bucko.
>>4445928How's Richter's cooking skills? Or is he the kind to leave it to the servants?
What in the world was Maenesko doing here, you wondered. He wasn’t particularly important, as far as you were aware- his assignment as UGZ administrator had ostensibly been a punitive one, and hardly a place of prestige. You had to find out.That, and it wasn’t like you were dancing with anybody anyways, and Maenesko appeared similarly alone.“Sublieutenant,” you greeted Maenesko as you approached, “I wouldn’t have expected to see you here.”“Coordinator. I expect not.” Maenesko didn’t sound happy to be here, keeping his even and flat tone. He was dressed about as fancily as you were-which was to say, not at all, keeping his dark green Netillian uniform. “Ostensibly, I am here for my diligence in maintaining the UGZ-09. Funny, to be rewarded for keeping the High Protector’s subjects in a pen like animals, but a proper excuse to step out of the office can’t go unappreciated.”“You are unescorted?” you asked next, “There’s quite a few eligible women prowling about. Anybody catch your eye?”“No.” Maenesko said flatly, “I have not been looking. I’m not here for pleasure, after all.”You crooked an eyebrow, and looked around for anybody close by, listening, or watching. “…Does that have anything to do with why you said ostensibly?”Maenesko nodded once. “It isn’t my place to speak of it to you. It’s not something you’re involved in, but if you look about closer, you might notice similarly out of place people.” He motioned with his eyes to the side, and you looked over- a tall, strangely effeminate featured man, looking at both of you before gazing off and going elsewhere. “So for anything more unusual, I would recommend seeing one of the more unusual folk. For now, we shouldn’t have more than a passing word.” He left you alone, and as he walked away, gave a parting shot. “Good luck with those eligible women.”That was a bit a shame, you had hoped to speak with him more- particularly anything concerning a follow up on Zohl. Such an influential person getting ambushed and killed couldn’t have been pleasant news for those higher up the ladder, and while a halfhearted investigation had come by, that appeared more motivated off a clueless guard’s suspicions than any higher office, with how easily they had been driven away. Any ripples of more authoritative sorts taking notice or planning action…had to be known before they sent anybody to look into you. You didn’t have much longer to stay here, getting investigated, or worse, imprisoned right before you were to leave, would be terrible.Maenesko would surely tell you the moment he suspected something, though, right?Well. Since this was Wladysaw’s castle, surely Mabel, his head maid, would be around here. Would she show herself at the party, you wondered? It was worth looking for her. You had more business with her.
It was funny how easy it turned out to be- there were no shortage of servants, and most of them at least had a vague idea of where Mabel was- apparently, she was supposed to be overseeing the other servants, but the fact that this wasn’t a chaotic or particularly demanding event had left most servants to their own devices…and Mabel up to hers, loitering on the third floor rounding overlook around the ballroom, the highest it went before the faded remnants of a grand painted ceiling of a lineage of kings going back to the times of Nauk, some of whom might have even been clients of the classical empire itself. She was looking over the balcony, down to the ground.“Hello there,” you said to Mabel- very, very few people were up here when all the refreshment and entertainment was down below and a commanding view was attainable enough from the second ring. “What are you doing up here?”“…I am monitoring his majesty’s security,” the maid said, in her serving (mostly ink-black) regalia again, the gore and mud spattered killer with the eyes of a tigress gone, near comically large spectacles either allowing actual sight to the ballroom floor, or being so blatant as to not question if she needed them.“From the third floor?” It didn’t take a perceptive person to realize that this story had a major flaw.Mabel didn’t look at you. “…The Gendarmes are able to keep his majesty’s person safe. If they begin to slack, I can send for somebody to make a firm suggestion to amend that.”She could send somebody to make a suggestion? That didn’t sound very much like her at all. “…In any case. I came to speak with you about something.”“Many in attendance would think less of one who sought out talk with a maidservant,” Mabel said back haughtily, clearly trying to blow you off.“My mother was a maidservant,” you retorted. Albeit one of noble blood. “I wanted to ask what you thought of the events of a couple of days past.”“That it was a self-indulgent waste of resources?” Mabel questioned nobody in particular, and her frankness made you think that she didn’t care who heard it, of the few people upstairs. “It was not a disaster, however, much was lost for little gain on its simplest face, and there will no doubt be harsh reprisals for those who remained rather than taking flight north. Yes, though, they had their battle, and slipped away. Is there aught else to say about it? The Twaryian diplomats managed to prevent the worse from befalling their own, as well.”“I see.” What mattered to you most was that everything turned out alright. You’d gone through quite a lot to ensure this happened, regardless of what Mabel thought of the ERA.
“If that was all, then you should return to the lower levels." Mabel tried to brush you off, "The dancing is to begin soon.”“I am unescorted anyways.”“Then find some other person to speak to. You are disrupting my work.” Mabel’s tone was direct and firm- she hadn’t been willing to speak any more than necessary. Fair enough. You shrugged and began to make your way back downstairs. Though there weren’t many other people you could think of wanting to find right off. Maybe you could just relax some more? There was food and drink and music, after all……As well as a familiar sight that intercepted you in the relatively empty halls of the third floor before the stairs.The short straight brown hair that fell to the neck, the self-aggrandizing posture, the only recently unbroken nose, as well as the golden circlet set with a brilliant diamond- that was all seen before. The dress she wore was stark black and white, strapless and close fitted in this woman’s usual style of playing to her strengths of appearance, a sheer silk golden hued scarf about her shoulders. However, her eyes- they were an unnatural, luminescent blue, like they were lit by cold flame.“Von Tracht,” the Duchess Von Katski said haughtily, “I heard you were asking after the servants.”“You’re a poor imposter,” you said with no hesitation, given that nobody was around, though you kept your voice low. “Kamilia Von Katski wouldn’t appear alone, I think.”Kamilia’s face turned from its well-practiced pomp to a disappointed point that was extraordinarily out of place upon that face. “You’re no fun,” she complained, “Just because we’re alone doesn’t mean that you can’t play along.” The same voice, the same accent, but it was so clearly not the same person. You had expected her to sound like Emma- was inhabiting the Duchess’s body allowing her to mimic her exactly? “So, what do you think?” Emma, in the Duchess’s body, turned about like she was a model. “She’s pretty, isn’t she?” Emma tipped on her feet and set heavily back down on her heels, with a satisfied smile looking down at her chest. “I could get used to this.”“She must not be very happy about this.” You couldn’t help but say.“She doesn’t appreciate what she has,” Emma said, the face she borrowed turning tired. “She wants to smoke her opium. I haven’t let her have any of the stuff, and she hates it. Too bad. She wants to find some guy to get high with and get screwed, I want to dance. She can’t muster up much will to act, though, without her drug. So.”
“You’re…she’s an addict?” you asked in surprise. “How do you know what she wants? Do you…talk?”“It’s funny,” Emma adjusted the circlet on her head, brushing bangs over an eye, “That’s not the way it seems to work. I am her, but she’s also me. It’s not like talking to somebody, it’s like knowing what they feel. Imagine…if you combined with another person, but were still yourself.”A sudden dread. “…Would she remember this? You taking her over?”Emma shrugged. “I dunno. I won’t be leaving for a while anyways, this poor lady needs help. Her body hates not being drugged, but I don’t really care about it. If I’m going to steal her life, I may as well try to do something good for her. She’s not a happy woman, Richter. I’d probably drug myself if one half of my family killed the other half, too. Maybe she just needs to learn how to live again.” She cleared her (well, the Duchess’s) throat, and assumed the royal posture again. “So, Von Tracht. I’ve heard you are unescorted. That won’t do for one of the Coordinator’s prestige, would it? It’s pathetic, really. I’m a generous sort, though. You would not turn down a dance, would you?” Emma didn’t like that your first reaction was to squint at her and frown. “What, you danced with that Anya girl, didn’t you? It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just fun. I’d rather ask one of your crewmen, but considering how this lady acts I don’t want to ask…well, a stranger.”>It was a fair bit too familiar to dance with somebody that disliked you so vehemently, wasn’t it? Could she not…disguise herself?>Not dance, no, but maybe you could help her find somebody who would? If she was afraid of encountering untoward intentions.>You couldn’t be seen associating with the body Emma was inhabiting, unfortunately. Just tell Emma to stop worrying so much, the Duchess had enough power and influence that she wouldn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to.>Other? >>4446435>How's Richter's cooking skills? Or is he the kind to leave it to the servants?He knows how to put meat on a stick and burn it over a fire and how to prepare preserved rations to make them suitable for human consumption. So the latter when not in the woods for extended periods of time.
>>4446860>>Other?Dance with her. Who cares if people think it's strange- the lady's an opium addict after all. At worst it will make for some interesting court gossip.
>>4446860>It was a fair bit too familiar to dance with somebody that disliked you so vehemently, wasn’t it? Could she not…disguise herself?Maybe she could wear, a mask?
>>4446860>>4447055+1I don't think we care if other people see us with Kamilia, but Anya might and we haven't told her about of any of the Wizard Bullshit. I don't see us being able to explain this to Anya if she is recognized, so if the mask isn't feasible then we'll have to forgo the dance, but at least while explaining why.
>>4446860>>Other?Dance with Emma
>>4446860>Other? Dance with ghost gal.
>>4446860>>It was a fair bit too familiar to dance with somebody that disliked you so vehemently, wasn’t it? Could she not…disguise herself?
>>4446860>It was a fair bit too familiar to dance with somebody that disliked you so vehemently, wasn’t it? Could she not…disguise herself?Would be awkward to explain to Wladyslaw and Anya
>>4446923>>4447138>>4447146Screw the politics and screw the weird ghost crap, you're going to dance with this dead little girl.>>4447055>>4447069>>4447172>>4447214The idea of it is fine- but some basic hiding of who she is would be for the best...Writing!
It wasn’t that you were disturbed by the idea of dancing with Emma- you could easily treat it as many in court did with relatives or close friends, despite Emma inhabiting a completely different body. That right there was the proper rub of it. You didn’t care, and you knew why you would dance with Emma, but nobody else did, most of all Anya and King Wladysaw. To them, this would seem completely out of nowhere. Worse, it would be utterly impossible to explain, and moreover wasn’t a good thing to go blabbing about anyways, considering that soulbinders hunted down entities like Emma for exactly this reason, presumably. Best to try and avoid that awkward conversation.“Of course I can help you with that,” you first reassured Emma, whose look had become worried in a way you recognized as her’s, not Kamilia’s. “But, this woman and I have some…bad history. Could you possible try and disguise yourself?”Emma frowned and pulled at her dress. Kamilia’s dress. “I liked this one, though…I don’t think everybody’s seen me in it. So much of her wardrobe isn’t very modest, either. Can I just get a party mask, maybe?”“That should do, yes,” you said, “perhaps change your hair, as well?” A refrain from suggestions, but with hair the length Kamilia’s was, there was little to do with it. “Mostly, you should do away with the jewelry, that makes you stand out more than anything. Particularly the diadem,” you pointed to your forehead.Emma frowned deeper, and touched the crown herself. “…She really doesn’t like the idea of doing that. She’s not in charge though. I am, and I want to dance. I’ll be right back out.”“Just find me out in the flock,” you said with a wave, “Ideally before some other young thing preys upon me.”“Well, I’m the youngest thing out there.”“Please don’t say that,” you said with exasperation.“…You promise, right?” Emma said quietly.“It’s the least I could do, isn’t it?” you shrugged very slightly, “I think going against the Duchess’s personality should be a fair amount of disguise, don’t take too long. If anybody asks later, I’ll just feign being oblivious or stupid. Maybe both.” If Emma took long enough, Anya might drag Edelschwert out the door back out to the fair, and the more volatile of potential problems would therefore be solved.“You’d do that?” Emma said aloud to nobody, “Okay, it might take a bit, though. I’ll be down there, I’ll find you. Nobody else is wearing a mask, right? Besides you.”“Not as far as I know.”
Emma nodded, and turned right around. As a member of the royalty, she didn’t have access to her own home restricted like the guests did. Hence, more freedom of movement. Though you did hope she disguised herself decently enough- if your attempt to play stupid didn’t work, you’d be in trouble, especially with Anya- who you didn’t in particular want to deceive, but you had to in order to make good with Emma. At least this was just a dance rather than some impossible mystical aspiration.-----Emma was late for when the dancing began- the ladies assailing you were particularly desperate just before, and they didn’t seem like opportunistic hussies, either. It was too late, though. Now, you could properly brush them off by saying you were waiting for somebody, and you wouldn’t even be lying or sounding rude by denying them for another reason.You ought to remember that for next time, you thought to yourself.King Waldysaw had called Anya forth, respectfully took her from Edelschwert with an ever so slight bend at the waist, responded with gusto by Edelschwert who made the full angle and a scrape of the foot as he handed off his date…if you dared to tease Anya by calling her that. “Let me honor this young woman before you all, good ladies and gentlemen.” Wladysaw announced warmly to the crowd around as Anya looked distinctly uncomfortable. She was far from humble, but you guessed she wasn’t used to being made the focus of this sort of gathering. However, this was only proper to acknowledge, according to Wladysaw. “You may recall her bravery in foiling an attempt upon my life but last year, and she has fought in the field against both terror-fostering criminals and violent Twaryian raiders alike. Unusual for a lady, indeed, but one need only look at her to know she is not a typical woman, yes?” He turned to her, “If you may turn about?”Anya did so, hesitantly. The sight of Anya’s back in that dress made you light headed- taut and corded with strength, but gracefully slim. Come on now, there’s no shame in admitting it. The whole room would agree.Wladysaw put a hand out to direct attention. “Her scars are impossible not to notice, but look upon her back- not one struck from there. What truer sign of valor is there?” Ah. So that was the motivation behind the design, that was bare from the nape of the neck to just above her bottom. Would that make Anya warm up to it more? “The first dance, to the honorable Lady Nowicki. Musicians?”
So the band began to play- Anya was not anything better than a decent amateur at dancing, but Wladysaw was no stranger to dancing whatsoever, you could tell just by watching him for but a minute. He didn’t drag Anya around, but guided her as though pushing a railcar down a very artful track. She let herself by guided like a leaf in a gentle whirlwind, carried about with her dress’s skirt fluttering a trail behind like a flag. The band played a merry string-heavy tune, quick and light and energetic, but short, as it slowed down and the High Protector slowed with it as he twirled Anya into the center of the room as the cello and viola gave their final creaking words.“I fear he’s ruined her for me,” Edelschwert lamented beside you as polite applause precipitated. Anya did have a dizzy look on her face. You merely patted him on the back and stretched against a pillar, now looking about for Emma as some watched, others very eagerly getting to the dance. Wladysaw was freshly swarmed as he released Anya, going to give some compassion to the desperate bachelorettes seeking a place on the dance floor.A couple of songs later, a tap finally came on your shoulder. You turned and were…briefly startled by a mask that looked like it came from a costume party, covering Emma’s upper face, lined with rhinestones and designed gaudily in the guise of a pair of abstract hands splayed over all but the eyes. Emma had also put in the extra effort to change dresses- you readily noticed this new dress was cut a few fingers lower on the bustline, and that it was likely designed to ride even lower, and Emma had also put on long gloves to further differentiate her look, and put her hair up into a tail. Would it be enough? Probably not for Wladysaw, but for anybody else…“Hey, hey!” Emma in the Duchess’s body poked at you, “Let’s go!” She whispered, “This is good enough, isn’t it? I couldn’t find any less showy masks…”“It’ll do,” you took her by the wrist, “Have you danced before?” She shook her head, no, “Don’t worry,” you tried to say with confidence, “I’ve done it before.” Once. More practice before you flung Maddalyn around, one day. >Roll as many sets of 1d100 as desired. Higher is better. The more you do, the longer you dance for. If you roll below a 25 after the first, though, you’ve messed up enough to sort of screw the mood so it might not be best to try and salvage it after that…though Emma in particular may prove rather forgiving.You’re a little better at dancing since your last time with Anya- 5 DC better even.
Rolled 3 (1d100)>>4447585
Rolled 83 (1d100)>>4447585
Rolled 47 (1d100)>>4447585Nat 1 please
>>4447586>>4447589>>4447589My roll aside, these seem good enough? The longer we dance the more likely people might notice Kamillia after all.
>>4447593Seems good to me. Rough start, impressive recovery, and then a segue into mediocrity.
Rolled 90 (1d100)>>4447585I'm sorry boys, I can't help myself. I need to end things on a better note!
Rolled 8 (1d100)>>4447585
>>4447711You couldn't just let things end on a good note, huh?>>4447687I blame you for this.
>>4447711Anon...Can we just get the 90 and 8 to cancel each other out
>>4447718I doubt Tanq would be that merciful. The best we can hope for is that it will be fun and cute instead of horribly detrimental. Richter and Emma are poppin off on the dance floor and then they both just trip over themselves completely. Have a little laugh about it.
>>4447586I don't actually know how you could have rolled worse first.>>4447589While doing pretty great the second>>4447590Concluding average,>>4447687Pushing forward to great effect,>>4447711Before falling flat on your face.If it's any consolation it isn't worse than the first thing anyways.Writing.
>>4447726For the pleasure of seeing Zohl’s face evaporate, I am willing to let the dice allow whatever level of ballroom buffoonery they desire.
>>4448020Honestly if it wasn't for the whole mutilation thing this Ellowian adventure has actually been pretty successful for Richter and company. Losing his skills suck but at least they can be re-learned.
Sorry for the delay, I'm only just now functional. I'll have that thing out soon.
The blind leading the blind, you thought with a twinge of uncertainty as you led Emma out in the Duchess’s body. Just think of her as a teenage girl, you thought, you’re dancing with a younger cousin or something. Who really would have preferably dressed in a more modest fashion, but you couldn’t blame Emma for a completely different person’s taste in social attire.The Duchess’s natural poise and Emma’s own uncertainty formed a puzzling stance, as you both went out on the floor and took a place. The Duchess had obviously done this countless times and the person inhabiting her was calling upon that memory and skill, but how many times had Emma done it? She was part of a family of Valsten high society socialites in life, but would her first time ever engaging in this properly be after she died? The least you could do was to not mess up her first time.Then you felt your leg cramp up right around the wound that had all but vanished, right as the band started again.“Are you okay?” Emma noticed immediately when your steps were more stumbles, and she failed to adjust properly. “It’s fine,” you insisted as you took your hand off her waist to rub your thigh. You couldn’t very well stop in the middle of this.Suddenly, you found out that you could, as your leg suddenly gave out entirely.A flash of pain as you fell forward and smashed into the Duchess’s mask, straight into your nose, then clawed blindly and snagged on the dress as it failed to halt your descent right into the floor- your blurred vision cleared to see the mask of your dance partner lying beside you.Shit.
“Ahh,” Emma stammered as she stared down at you, hiding her chest behind an arm- Judge Above, you did yank her dress as you fell down, didn’t you? “Ahh,” she glanced down at the mask, and her face turned a shade of panic, “Uh!” Immediately, she fled.“Damn it all,” you muttered as you picked up the mask and chased after her.She had retreated all the way back up to the third floor, you found out after a search that took far to damned long, and more than that, into a place you technically weren’t allowed in- a side parlor practically on the other side of the castle entirely, but the servant that obstructed you was called away by Emma right when she realized you were outside. The room was a typical looking reading room, with benches, shelves, tables of appropriately fancy quality- but the sides of the room were made up of vast arrangements of mirrors, tiled and patterned like stained glass windows.She had fixed her wardrobe malfunction, thankfully, but she still had her face buried in her…well, the Duchess’s hands, as you walked in to sit beside her on the bench she was on.“What the hell was that, she half spat and half sobbed.“I’m sorry.”“I’ve never been so embarrassed in…” Emma paused, “…Feh. It’s not my body anyways, but it was still…and everybody saw, my face, her face, I mean, I,” She slid sideways and rested her head on the bench’s seat away from you. “This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have asked you for this.”“I promise I’m not always that bad at this,” you tried not to feel attacked, but you were off the mark.“No, you’re hurt, aren’t you? You’ve been for a while, but I just assumed I could ask whatever I wanted.” Emma mumbled from the bench, “I’m stealing this lady’s life and pushing around a wounded soldier so I can, what, dance? Pretend I’m a person? Pretend I’m this person?”…You put a hand on Emma’s head. Nobody could see you here, anyways. You could treat her like the persons he was inside, the unfortunate sprite that you’d foolishly promised a second chance at something she’d have done anything to have again. “You’re being too hard on yourself. I told you to do this, remember? Kamilia Von Katski isn’t a nice person. You…aren’t her. Even if you embarrassed yourself, you’ve kept her from doing bad things. She had her goons beat Anya into a pulp. I’m not sorry for her at all. Maybe she needs to be taught some humility, even.”
“Her pride is all she has, really,” Emma said in an empty tone as you pet her head, “All the jewels, the power, it’s something her family didn’t have when she was little…and it’s something they died for, because their own kin wanted it just as badly. The only reason she’s not dead is because the man who’s king now saved her from his own branch of the family, and she thinks it’s because of her possessions. She knows people are only interested in either her wealth, or her body…and she’s internalized that.”Emma’s continued sympathy for your enemies was puzzling, but… “I tell you how she’s despicable, and you defend her?” you hadn’t taken your hand off her head, “You’re rather too nice, despite your attitude sometimes.”“What attitude?” Emma was too sullen to snap properly. “That’s more like it,” you took your hand off her head and got up, grabbing her arm and tugging her upwards. She was limp as a sack. “Come on,” you urged her, “I need to redeem myself, and I need your help for that.”“Leave me here,” Emma whined as she refused to move, “This has to be a sign, doesn’t it? I’m not meant to be going this, I just ruin things for everybody…”“No.” That was all the answer you bothered to give as you put one arm behind her back and the other up her legs and picked her up bodily. You really hoped this wasn’t what having a daughter might be like.“What are you doing?”“Taking you back out so you can dance.”“You can’t carry me, you’ll look improper in front of…everybody!”“I don’t really care,” you said flatly as you headed for the door with this lump of unwilling royal flesh in hand, the additional teenage girl inside thankfully not making her any heavier. “Who cares, what are they going to do, burn the other half of my face off?”“Fine, alright!” Emma’s snap reached proper severity, “Put me down, I’ll go! Damn…” You let her down, and she took her mask from you properly. “You’re a nut, you know that?”“I act when it is necessary,” you declared defiantly. And you had a lot to make up for. “Are you sure there aren’t any dresses with straps you could put on?”“No,” Emma said as she brushed herself off, “She likes nothing on the shoulder, that’s for sure. Though, if I looked like her…” She turned in front of a wall of mirrors with an envious look on her face, “She’s gorgeous, and busty, I’d want to look the best, too.”“Well, there’s much better in the Blumlands in Strossvald.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Emma snorted, “You don’t need to pull another sort of muscle trying too hard on that, not when I’m in the same room at least.” She let you take her by the wrist again, “…Do you think they’ll…think less of me? You did just yank my boobs out, and I know they saw me without that mask…”“Who cares.” You weren’t about to be stopped at this point as you tugged her back out the door, “I said I would dance with you.” It wasn’t like this situation could get worse. Not at the event itself, at least.Back out you went, though there had been two songs since you left. A quick look around for Edelschwert and Anya- you didn’t see them, and wondered if Anya had just pulled Edelschwert out the door as soon as the first song was over. It might be better that way, even. Certainly for you and Emma.One hand on her waist, other hand on Emma’s. A deep breath, as your leg still protested, but after that last embarrassment you weren’t about to show the poor girl a bad time.The instrumentalists began anew in a steady, slow piano waltz. Thank goodness- something simple and easy to dance to. You got more used to the feeling of moving Emma around, what she reacted well to, how she preferred to move, and you recalled how Wladysaw moved- how he made it look as effortless as an artist drawing brush across canvas- and felt that, maybe, you could do just as well simply moving and letting Kamilia’s experience mesh with your energy.It was a gradual thing, but Emma’s doubtful look turned to pleasant surprise, then a broad smile. Something that suited Kamilia’s face far better than the cruel sneer she usually seemed to wear.The song came to a properly satisfying end, even if you had barely appreciated it more than as a sound to set tempo by. Emma was happy, and that was what your goal had been more about anyways. Though, as everybody arranged themselves for what was announced to be lanes to travel down and traverse, you noticed the looks- the suspicion, the judgment.Your focus was spoiled, so your performance as you went down the trail like rain sliding down roof shingles, a jolly ditty being played with woodwind, was merely mediocre. Emma noticed it too- not the other people, but that your attention was clearly not on her.“If you’re tired,” Emma said uncertainly, “We can stop. I had fun, it’s fine…a lot of people are bleeding off anyways.”Fine? What sort of finish would that be? No, you took her by the wrist and shook your head. It didn’t take much for her to understand you were staying out here until she was smiling again.You were sure it wouldn’t take long, as you assumed a place in a circle of pairs, that would go out, and in, through a daunting movement that would look like a work of art from the above floors. The fear in the novice dancer was apparent in Emma- but you knew that Kamilia knew plenty well how to do this.
“Aren’t you new at this too?” Emma whispered as you assumed your places, “I don’t know about this…”“You know how to do this,” you hoped to get your meaning across, despite your lack of knowledge of how any of this possession nonsense worked. It was just something you could feel, something that your senses told you wasn’t entirely puppetry. “Just…do it.”To her credit, once the music began and you began the dance, she did. To a shocking degree- Kamilia was an aggressive dancer, and though you were supposed to direct your partner around and about the circle, most of the time you were being pulled around much like how you imagined Wladysaw pulled Anya about, but more of a case where you would be prompted rather than moved yourself. Arrogance took over- you both began to orbit the circle, and then weave inside of it, and Judge Above it was a blast. “You know,” you breathed after you had bowed to one another with the song’s energetic climax that had taken you to the center, atop a compass patten in the ballroom’s tiles, “You’re quite a natural at this.”“You flatter me,” Emma said in the Duchess’s voice, though that smile was no act. She took you by the hand again, “I hope that wasn’t the best you had?”After that energetic performance, your leg was burning with pain, and you felt lightheaded from it, but you did your best to smile back and say, “Of course it wasn’t, milady.”Only a few seconds later your body tired before your bravado did, and in an attempt to take the initiative, the same bad leg fouled up just the same as it had before. You saw history repeat in your mind, and kept your arms stiff at your sides…your ankle twister, and you knocked into Emma before falling over and smashing your face right on the floor.“Ah!” Emma crouched down to help you roll over, “Are you all right?” Your only response was a harsh cough, and you were thankful that you were carried away, even if you no doubt looked laughable. Your ankle, though…that didn’t feel good at all. You didn’t injure yourself dancing, did you? Judge above.-----
A few rooms away, you rested on a bench, Emma next to you as a servant poked at your leg to make sure nothing was too hurt.“Do not put weight upon it,” he concluded as he applied a splint and tied it, “I will return with a crutch.”“Ah, that won’t be necessary-“ you tried to say, but the servant was already away.“…For what it’s worth,” Emma said softly, “I did have a lot of fun. Thanks.”“Don’t mention it.”“I don’t think it was worth spraining your ankle over.”“Nonsense.” Maybe it wasn’t, but it would have been a sacrifice made in vain if it upset Emma.“You know,” Emma had a faraway look, “You should dance with Hilda like that. I think that would make her really, really happy.” You didn’t say anything to that. There wasn’t anything you could say. “Well,” she got up, “The King’s down at the end of the hall there. I’ll see what he wants.”“He is?” you nearly bolted up, but a shooting pain forced you back down again as Emma left you. Her conversation with Wladysaw was…mercifully short, though he had a suspicious tilt to his eyebrows as he spoke with her, searched her eyes…Ellowie was a place of spiritual power, was Wladysaw sensitive enough to notice the change in eye color? No, just because he was an Ellowian didn’t mean he was spiritually sensitive, Anya was as blind as a bat when such was involved, after all.Emma returned, not looking like there was anything to worry about. “He wants to speak with you.”“Concerning?”“Business, it sounded like. He didn’t say you had to talk right away, just that you should sometime tonight.” Emma didn’t sit back down. “Though…I don’t think we should be around each other any more tonight. Maybe not after the…mask came off. But, I, I appreciate that you stuck with it still, even when I didn’t want to do it anymore.” She took a few steps, “There’s a street fair outside, maybe I could dress in something more normal and go out and see…”>Wladysaw wanted to talk. Why keep him waiting? So long as he didn’t want to dance too.>Insist that Emma stay a bit. You had more to talk about (About what?)>You had spent enough time at this ball. Once you could walk safely again, you were going out to that street fair. Maybe finding Anya again.>Other?
>>4449296>Wladysaw wanted to talk. Why keep him waiting? So long as he didn’t want to dance too.
>>4449296>Wladysaw wanted to talk. Why keep him waiting? So long as he didn’t want to dance too.Talk first,then we can head to the fair
>>4449296>>Wladysaw wanted to talk. Why keep him waiting? So long as he didn’t want to dance too.If Wladysaw asks about the dancing, tell him it was a minor issue we dealt and ask him as one man to another to not press further. Hopefully he is too busy a man to investigate what sort of petty dispute or coercion must have been used to drive us to make a fool or ourselves twice in public.It is also at this time I would like to remind everyone that once upon a time being forced to touch a boob was so antithetical to Richter's personality that it broke down 5% of his IO brainwashing integrity.
>>4449296>>Wladysaw wanted to talk. Why keep him waiting? So long as he didn’t want to dance too.>Other?Emma should go change into something for the outdoors and we can meet her out there.
>>4449302>>4449304>>4449308>>4449311Talk to the King, excuse your bad dancing as being a matter two men can understand implicitly.>It is also at this time I would like to remind everyone that once upon a time being forced to touch a boob was so antithetical to Richter's personality that it broke down 5% of his IO brainwashing integrity.Or because it was a Republican boob>>4449306>>4449317>>4449791Then take your ghost girl out to the street fair.Operation "My fiancee will have a conniption if she finds out" is a go. Writing.
“I’ll talk to him,” you told Emma, “Wait some after you change, I’ll go with you to the fair outside.”“…Really?” Emma looked back, then away again. “…No, you’re just asking to get in trouble at that point.”“That wasn’t a suggestion.”“Oh yeah?” Emma turned around and put a hand on her hip, “Then you won’t have any trouble finding me, will you? You’d best keep your business quick if you’re thinking of catching me. Unless you trip over your own feet again.” Emma left you with that, and you weren’t sure if she was serious about this game or not- but you had a feeling you’d be able to “find” her easily. As soon as the servant from before returned with an admittedly dignified looking singular crutch made of dark wood, that could be excused as a cane, you got up and got used to a clumsy gait, asking the servant to guide you to the High Protector. Walking with it made you feel gloomy- half a hand, half a face, how long until you were down a leg as well? “Your majesty,” the servant bowed to Wladysaw after he had led you to him, in the dining hall were all manner of food had been laid out, both rustic and extravagant just from a glance at it all. The man was fond of his celebrations, certainly. “I have brought Sir Von Tracht.”“Very good,” Wladysaw nodded, “You are dismissed.”“Your majesty.”Wladysaw was accompanied by men in gendarme uniforms, but of a decidedly fancier sort than was typical, as well as a woman in the same uniform- at a respectful distance, as to not imply anything, of course. Wladysaw was unescorted, and such was to be maintained, evidently. “Von Tracht,” he swirled sparkling white wine in a glass flute, “I am glad that you are enjoying the festivities, of course, but we both know the question on my mind, do we not?”You swallowed. “…Your majesty, beg pardon, but what is the question?”“I have known my dear cousin since we were babes. I know her appearance, how she acts, what she values, and while she has been strange lately…” he tilted his head in inquiry, one hand behind his back, “I know she is not one to forget a grudge easily, even ones she has resolved. You will not deny awareness that you were dancing with her, will you?”“…I did not know, your grace, but as one man to another, I request you not press this issue.”“A bold request to make of his grace,” you could sense the threat in that tiny statement. “I can ask my dear cousin her own motivation later, but I feel it quite important to ask you now: did you intend to humiliate my cousin..?”
Reflexively, you bent at the waist, leaning hard on the crutch. “Of…of course not, your majesty, the humiliation is but…but mine to bear. It was truly an accident. My wound has still not healed fully…Forgive me.”“Your majesty,” the lady gendarme began to say, “It is true that Lady Kamilia is fond of controversy-“ She shut up immediately when Wladysaw glared at her. Despite his foppishness, he still could exude such power, at least upon his subjects. What sort of man defied kingliness yet could act the part nevertheless?“I accept your apology,” Wladysaw said slowly, “And I appreciate that you entertained her afterwards, in spite of your accident. I know not what smoothed over your relations so, but I shall not inflict upon your dignity by asking after what may be a subject of discomfort. I will know, however.” He began to walk out the other side of the hall. “Come. We have business to discuss in a more private setting.”That hadn’t been the private business? Both dread and curiosity brewed within as you were escorted with the King to a room on the other side of the castle, but still upon the ground floor. It was a room entirely of dark woods, red and black and brown, with no windows or any way in besides the door you entered, a long table in the center. The King and the Gendarmes all sat at it, and you followed, albeit more slowly.“…It truly was an accident, your majesty,” you felt the need to say.“Von Tracht, please, I have no reason to think you would deceive me on that subject,” Wladysaw said tiredly, “It is certainly true that my dear cousin acts in ways that are untoward quite often. I would just rather her not be up to anything concerning you, and of course, the other way round.”“I would never, your majesty.”“Such is petty drama, however, compared to the reason I wished to meet with you tonight.” Wladysaw knitted his fingers together on the table. “Gentlemen. Tonight, an operation referred to as Alpha Two begins.”You choked. “What? Tonight?”“Tonight.” Wladysaw said firmly, “Not a stage that we would witness, however. The initial steps are taking place in Sosaldt, and the stage that will affect us directly will take place in…most likely two days. I would suggest that you handle your affairs by then, or do whatever it is your own masters would intend you to do. When the day after tomorrow comes, you will not likely be able to move easily at all whether Strossvald wishes it or not.”
“I just didn’t expect the news to be so sudden,” you rested your chin on the back of your good hand, “Judge Above, two days?”“The security of it would have been quite poor if you knew before I did,” Wladysaw said with a satisfied slow smile. “These are my Gendarme masters.” He gestured to the crimson uniformed trio sitting with both of you, “They will take anything off of your hands that you choose to relinquish to them, be it men or materiel.”“…Do you have enough? Surely you are not planning to act on the very day of Alpha Two?” you asked this carefully, still flicking an eye to the door.“Of course not,” Wladysaw laughed, “No, of course not. That would be entirely too bold, but there will be chaos, and that will be the time we have to make properly ready, and we do have more than one might assume- you must have noticed some unusual guests?” You nodded. “I will not name the examples, but let us say that there are those not fond of the honored Defense Party. A house divided against itself cannot stand, I believe was the phrase that my ancestor spoke of? The Defense Party may believe us quite divided and themselves having forged themselves into a whole, but they will prove twice wrong, methinks.”This…was much to take in. You had suspected Maenesko of disapproving of his masters, but was he so much so that he had plotted rebellion? How long had such feelings brewed? Was his transfer, you began to think, even something that had been unplanned for, if there were enough dissenting elements to threaten the ruling party, albeit with help from others. “You appear to be overwhelmed, Von Tracht,” Wladysaw said, humored, “Surely you did not think you were the only one hard at work?”“I…might have been led to believe such.” It was often your presumption, to be frank, considering how little you were informed on the Archduchy’s other affairs here.“And I’m afraid you still won’t be privy to everything,” Wladysaw lamented, “though I may be tempted to share some things, if you tell me but one of your plans…do you intend to stay, knowing this, or will we be bidding farewell to one another after tonight?”That wasn’t something you were sure of. The Major probably knew Alpha Two was beginning, and as your direct superior, the question of when you were leaving wasn’t yours to answer. She did imply you wouldn’t be staying in the country for Alpha Two- yet, what if you volunteered to stay..?>You spent quite a long time here, you wouldn’t be just leaving, would you? No, you’d be staying a decent while longer, regardless of the risk.>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.>Other?
>>4450210If we're joining up with the Lances does it count as the first option?
>>4450211It would not, no.
>>4450212>>4450210Alright then:>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.Joining up with the Lances sounds better though if anons want to stay I'm happy with it as well. Just tell him even if we're leaving after this we'll still be helping out overall and wish him luck.
>>4450210>>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.
>>4450210>You spent quite a long time here, you wouldn’t be just leaving, would you? No, you’d be staying a decent while longer, regardless of the risk.
>>4450210>>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.Unless it is, but with cooler friends.
>>4450210>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.Maybe we'll meet at the victory party though
>>4450210>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.Good ol' Richter, backing out of the conflict before he has a chance to die a war hero or save a princess.
>>4450223I'll stick around for an extended vacation.>>4450220>>4450223>>4450343>>4450373>>4450488The next train out I'm taking and not going back.Writing.
>>4450210>The part you had to play here was finished, it sounded like. Apologize to Wladysaw, but this was not your war.Fucking marry Maddy already! She doesn't deserve this!
“I’m sorry, but the part I have to play here is finished,” you told Wladysaw, “I’ve helped you, but this isn’t my war, nor that of any of my men.”“Ah well,” Wladysaw’s smile didn’t leave his face, “I thought it worth a try, but my answer was worn on your body all along, was it not? I’m afraid, though, that means I needn’t take away from your time any longer. For what it is worth, tonight is a quiet night, a time of relaxation despite the recent chaos. Stay as long as you like, partake of this fair city’s hospitality. May it not be the last happy time it has in my reign.”“Long live the king,” you said with reverence, as you got up. “Perhaps I can attend the victory party.”“I can only hope.”You left the king and his men…and thought about what the coming times might hold as you were guided back by a servant. Would Wladysaw truly be allowed to remain king by the returning Ellowian army? Did the Republic have a chance of surviving with the liberation of the country being done by the military? After all, they had been given an opportunity to take the head of what was left of the country, and the people who remained in Ellowie included many who lost faith in the Republic, but might wait for the army. You didn’t consider yourself a particularly political person, but it was something many people of the country were concerned about. Perhaps Signy as well, for the offense she took at a Republic being felled. Would her part in this influence the country’s future? Maybe that was what she hoped, judging from her plans and actions.Maybe it wasn’t any of your concern, you thought as you limped out the castle doors, the crutch clunking along the stone tiles as you stubbornly made your way down and out towards the fair. Have your fun tonight, then tomorrow, get out as quickly as you could, whatever way had been planned for you. Or make your own way out. Either way.-----The last lights of dusk were shining over the tops of the city’s squat buildings when you went out, but the lights and fires you remembered Edelschwert mentioning were bright enough that it may as well have been daytime all about the streets where the fair were still in full swing. On one section, on both sides of the street, there were great ale kegs on the backs of wagons that faced each other, with drinking contests being begun and ended on either side- that the places next to them were portable privies and a fighting ring were only natural. You expected to see Anya there, in some bare knuckle brawl, stripped to the waist but for an undershirt, but you remembered that she was in a dress that didn’t tolerate having anything worn on the torso besides itself- and she wasn’t around there anyways. Pity, it seemed like just her thing.
You had honestly expected to find Anya and Magnus before Emma, but it turned out that a woman the Duchess’s height wearing a hood stuck out to a surprising degree- most of the people here might have had cloaks or coats, but not hoods. Moreover, this woman stuck out even more because she was among children and young teens, and their parents…watching a puppet show. The subject was of a wandering fellow climbing a mountain, and the performer, predictably enough, was a Vyemani. Such mysticism was their bread and butter after all.“I thought you were a little old for this,” you murmured to Emma as you sat beside her.“Shh!” she shooshed you roughly before turning her attention back to the storyteller.“…The goat trotted by the wanderer, and the wanderer asked,” the puppeteer moved the two paper figures to one another over a background of stone and moss, “Herr Goat, how much further to the top of the mystical mountain? I wish to drink the water at the top and become enlightened. The Goat told him, Herr Wanderer, you will climb forever and never reach the top. If you are thirsty, then I can show you a brook to drink from, and you can go back down the mountain. The Wanderer said back to the Goat, I have already climbed so far, how could I go back down now?”This sort of thing wouldn’t have been entertaining to you before you were the age Emma had likely been, but when you coughed for her attention, she glared at you before turning her eyes back to the puppet show. If she was enjoying herself, you supposed…It was quite a dry tale, until it took a grisly turn where the wanderer betrayed the goat and killed it, eating its flesh so he could have the strength to continue to the top. It was a twist that made all the younger children gasp…and Emma too. Something you’d have to mock her for later. Ultimately, at the end of the story, the wanderer did reach the top of the mountain, but when he drank from the spring, he turned into a goat.“That was a fun story,” Emma said to you as you were walking again.It absolutely wasn’t. It was stupid. “Sure. Did you want to buy any food?” Emma was rather too young to drink, and you didn’t want her drunk anyways, in case it inhibited her control.“…No, I can’t eat,” Emma pouted, “I mean, I could, but the withdrawals…make the body feel very sick. I’m fine, but if I eat the kind of stuff around here, I don’t think it’ll go well.”“I see.” You didn’t really, but you trusted Emma’s knowledge on this. “What did the k…he, I mean. What did he talk to you about?”You shook your head, it wasn’t something you could speak of in the open. You could say the gist of it, though. “We’ll be leaving tomorrow. Will you be coming with us?”
Emma stopped, and you turned to face her. “…I…” she hesitated, “I don’t think I can. Since I’m…doing this, I mean. I decided, that in exchange, I’d leave…here. I’d leave here a better person, I mean. So I can’t come with you.” She looked at her feet. “I’m sorry.”It wasn’t what you had wanted to hear, but you nodded. “Alright. I just didn’t want you to feel forgotten, like I did before.”“You’re doing a lot better now,” Emma said encouragingly, stepping beside you again, “I’ll try and find you after, but…I have to do this. After I’ve done so much to take from others, because I felt I didn’t have what I deserved. What was my right.” She suddenly snapped her head up. “…Is that glühwein? I smell it from down there!”“I thought you said you didn’t feel well.”“I can have a little,” Emma whined, “Do you know how it feels to taste things? I haven’t had it in…in years, so I’m having it!”Fine, fine. So long as she let you water it down with something else.-----
A familiar rowdy accent rang over the crowd, and you noticed Emma fade away from you without warning. Really? You couldn’t blame her, you supposed, but you wished she would have let you give her a proper send off. Maybe she had figured it had been the time you’d shown her around the fair. The mulled wine, the fair games, betting on living stone fights (whichever one flipped the other was the victor- rather silly and goofy animal fights, and a spectacle for children more often than not), she even insisted on a bonfire-ring dance, where her hood fell off, but she was so involved that she didn’t even notice until you were through. It had made you glad to see her enjoying herself so much, considering how sad her existence had been- but, back to that accent that came right from the gutters of Strosstadt despite its owner having lived nowhere near such a place.“Hey, there ‘e is!” Anya surged up to you, “You’ve got some…some explainin’ to do!”“Lady Nowicki,” Edelschwert held her back, “Pardon, Von Tracht, she has had a fair bit to drink-““You’d know if I was drunk, captain queer boots,” Anya snipped at Edelschwert, “Hey, don’t stare at me gawking, what were you doin’ with that thing?”Oh, may the Lord of Order spare you from this injustice. “I’m sorry.”“Would you knock it off with the apologizing?” Anya grabbed your collar and let it go, “I’m not mad, I’m just confused as all hell!”>You don’t have enough alcohol in you to say. Anya’s not drunk yet, but it’s about time that changed.>Promise you’ll tell her the truth- later. Then do that, the whole truth, even if she absolutely won’t believe a word of it.>Claim you were doing it to protect her and keep the Duchess out of her hair- technically a lie, but it’d be something more plausible than saying you were trying to make a ghost happy.>Other?
>>4450679>Other?Laugh and tease her about being jealous. Surely nothing can go wrong.
>>4450679Did you really think this wouldn't happen, anons? This shit was preordained.>Other?The Duchess is high as a kite, she didn't recognize us, forced herself upon us and dragged us all around the fair with definitely impure intent. Ask Anya to stay on the lookout for her while we hide.
>>4450679>Claim you were doing it to protect her and keep the Duchess out of her hair- technically a lie, but it’d be something more plausible than saying you were trying to make a ghost happy.The implication was made once that those who can't perceive spirits are better off not doing so for one reason or another. So just this once I think we can get away with a little lie.Also god damn it I'm gonna miss Emma, cause there's no way she isn't gonna end up hurting a lot of people or being hunted down and killed before she does. We've basically planted a doomsday time bomb in the king's court and we have no means of knowing when or even if it'll explode. We haven't seen Yva in a little while have we? Maybe the situation will resolve itself with minimal hassle, but I desperately hope Richter was able to show Emma a good time and that whatever comes of the Duchess is something Emma won't be too upset about, because I don't think the powers that be, whether it be Wizards or fate itself, will abide by Emma's continued existence much longer or Richter's if she becomes whatever a Blaze evolves into and pulls a Demiphantom or worse.This whole situation is fucked beyond belief.I regret nothing. I probably will soon.
>>4450679>>4450716>>4450709Oh nevermind, this is a way better explanation.
>>4450679Supporting >>4450709. Also I didn't vote for going with Emma but whatever, the outcome's not that bad.Also better make sure Anya doesn't get too wasted if we're leaving tomorrow.
>>4450679This, >>4450709 but do it in a quieter place to reveal the Duchess's addiction.Also tanq will there be another last minute stuff to do before we leave vote? Even though we're leaving IMO we should at least settle the issue of our Ellowian platoons.
>>4450709SupportingAnya, help! We're defenseless and at the mercy of a chemically unbalanced woman. Surely you're not so burdened by spirits as to abandon us in our hour of need.
>>4450679>Promise you’ll tell her the truth- later. Then do that, the whole truth, even if she absolutely won’t believe a word of it.Maybe not all the details about Emma and such, but at least try to explain that the duchess has been possessed by a ghost. If Anya doesn't buy it at all we can still truthfully tell Anya the duchess at least said she was sharing a body with another person and was a hopeless opium addict.Basically if Anya isn't having any of this spooky nonsense, lean into >>4450709 as an explanation.
>>4450679>>4450696>>4450709Combination of these
>>4450696"Please punch me">>4450709>>4450717>>4450723>>4450749>>4450760Help, I'm being assailed by an opium addict- who's absolutely blitzed on mulled wine.>>4451049Hey, do you believe in ghosts?>>4451077Hey, do you believe in punching me?Writing.>>4450723>Also I didn't vote for going with Emma but whatever, the outcome's not that bad.Sorry, I figured there was enough support behind that decision to not necessitate a revote on what to do next, but I'll try to gauge that better in future.>>4450749>Also tanq will there be another last minute stuff to do before we leave vote? Even though we're leaving IMO we should at least settle the issue of our Ellowian platoons.You'll have the span of a day to handle things, yes. Depending on your method of egress, should it come to that. Not a lot of time, but time still.
“It’s…actually quite simple,” you came up with an excuse on the spot, that wasn’t all that implausible. It was at least something Anya could believe. You’d rather not lie to her, but if you talked some bull shit about ghosts, then she might actually think you were lying, and badly. “That woman,” you avoided bringing up her name or title in this public setting. A matter of common sense. “She’s an opium addict. She was high as a kite, and she didn’t recognize me with this mask, this uniform, she forced herself on me and dragged me all about, with absolutely impure intent. I’ve slipped away, but I need your help keeping hidden, if you could?” You made a show of leaning on your crutch, “I’m defenseless, after all.”Anya squinted at you, then leaned to the side to look past you. “…She do anything to you?”“Not yet.”“Good. I’ll bash her face in, she comes close, alright?”“Please don’t.” You regretted the lie now.“Only if she comes close, sheesh,” Anya pouted at you, “Hide? Seriously? Even if I wanted to, how well are you gonna hide with that mask and the goober suit?”“It is not a goober suit,” you defended your uniform’s honor.“You look way better in leather, I bet even the midget would agree on that. Man, did you see that fight ring, though? Hey, Mag, you wanna see me shred somebody tonight?”“Ah,” Edelschwert didn’t expect that question, “I doubt there will be many women that want to enter that ring-““Women? Pfft,” Anya blew a dismissive raspberry, “Who’d want to fight a chick? Most of the ones I fight just bitch out when you sock them once. They’re no fun at all. I’d fight a dude.”“I do not think so,” Edelschwert replied before you could, “Not if your ribs are in a state where brushing against them hurts you.”“I’ll hurt you,” Anya said in some coy mockery of an actual threat, then she got an idea. “Hey, how about it? You want to fight? Richter and I’ve been so beaten up for so long that I haven’t had a sparring partner in ages, if I get any rustier I’ll start fallin’ apart.”Edelschwert frowned, glanced at Anya, then at you. “Is she always like this, Von Tracht?”“No.” Anya cut in.“Yes.”“Piss off.” Anya pushed past you, “I’m going to get girly braid wasted, maybe he’ll fight then.”“You’d best not,” you said, following her clumsily, “We’re going to be leaving tomorrow, I can’t have you hung over.”The blonde fluff halted. “Tomorrow?” She echoed quietly, barely audible above the commotion of the fair, before she whirled about, “You could have said that sooner, couldn’t you?” She jabbed a finger into your chest.“It came up recently.”“Damn it all,” Anya reached back and snagged Edelschwert’s jacket, “Come on, you, there’s no time to lose!”-----
Anya might have been your retinue, but she only took orders when she felt like it. The command to not get drunk was ignored, but at least she didn’t get blackout drunk. No matter how she tried though, Edelschwert refused to fight her. She jabbed at him, grabbed him, stole his sash, but he wouldn’t budge to the point that a passing Gendarme tried to apprehend the belligerent intoxicated woman.Anya took this chance to have the fight she wanted, and the female Gendarme was utterly unprepared for it.“Hee heh hah,” Anya cackled as she was dragged along by Edelschwert down another alley, “What’d I tell ya? Didn’t stand a chance, one foot to the jaw, they’re seein’ stars, even in these dumb heels. Can’t wait to get my boots back on. That duchess slut didn't show her face again either, good she knows better, heh.”“Von Tracht,” Edelschwert looked like he really needed a rest, and a bath, his eyes heavier than they had been just some minutes ago, “Perhaps you should not have given Lady Nowicki an excuse to assault local law enforcement.”“They should’a trained better!” Anya declared loudly, “I’ll take two ‘n one!” “It was time to head back anyways,” you muttered, “May as well be chased out I suppose.”“Huh? Wait, no,” Anya slurred her speech, “No’ yet. I wanna dance s’more, like we did by the fire.”“You should have asked that before you kicked a gendarme police officer in the head,” Edelschwert gave his particularly wise advice. She’d made him drink about as much as she did, but Edelschwert was better than either of you at holding his liquor- or his sense of restraint was just that ingrained into him.“C’moooon,” Anya grabbed him by the wrist and tried to pull him off, but his balance was better than hers at that time. “Oohf.” “Why here?” Edelschwert thought fast, “Can you not dance on the train, or back at camp?”“Huh? What’s the poin’ if it ain’t in the mess?”Magnus looked at her long and hard, then at you. “I know that you said that you were departing tomorrow,” he said steadily, “But you do not mind if I escort your Retinue for a touch longer, do you? I can do my best to smooth matters with the gendarmes, and you’ve likely spent yourself for the night. I will return her to you after we’ve embarked.”>She was your retinue, and thus your responsibility. Turn this around on him- you’d take her back to the fair, and he could get some rest, or handle other business he surely needed doing.>No, it was time to leave here, and not come back until the gendarmes were more amicable to your return. You’d spent plenty of time here as it was.>Alright- you trusted him with your retinue. If he was one minute late, though, you’d have his head.>Other?Also->What do you want to get started on wrapping up tomorrow?
>>4451285>>>Alright- you trusted him with your retinue. If he was one minute late, though, you’d have his head. >What do you want to get started on wrapping up tomorrow?Inform Wielzci’s of whats coming down the pipe. Its the least we could do.
>>4451285>Alright- you trusted him with your retinue. If he was one minute late, though, you’d have his head.In b4 he tries to take advantage of Anya
>>4451285>Alright- you trusted him with your retinue. Have fun you two!>What do you want to get started on wrapping up tomorrow?Make sure all our stuff gets packed, tanks ready for transport or scuttling if we have to leave them, last checkup with the Ashes, figure out somewhere more permanent to put our Twaryian prisoner that we stashed in an apartment or something.Where did we put that pic of Maddy we got from Metzeler? Make sure we have that if we haven't already. We should also probably check on our Company Commander buddy whose name escapes me, say goodbye and everything. Do we want to try to convince him to come back and take control of the Company, or would we rather have him replaced with a nobody from the Defense Party we wouldn't mind fighting?
>>4451322We should also figure out transport out of country for our Iron Hogs.
>>4451285>>Alright- you trusted him with your retinue. If he was one minute late, though, you’d have his head.>>What do you want to get started on wrapping up tomorrow?Plan our method of extraction if the IO isn't providing one for us-maybe we can all fit into the combat cars and some spare trucks?
>>4451291>>4451303>>4451322>>4451329Let the man wander off with your creampuff. Presumably to apologize to the Gendarmes for blatant unprovoked assault.And then taking care of additional material.Writing!
I have a bad feeling that talking goat story might be prophetic
“Alright,” you gave a reluctant last glance at Anya- could you really tear her away when she was enjoying herself, after all the misery she’d put herself through for your sake? “I trust you with the care of my retinue. If you are one minute late past midnight, however, I will have your head.” A pause. “…Have fun.”“Ooh, you heard him, ridin’ boots,” Anya yanked on Edelschwert’s braid, “Gonna get your ass beat.”“I feel like I am being accused of being a rake,” Edelschwert said heatedly, “Rest assured, Von Tracht, I intend to be an escort, not a date. You needn’t fear your trust has been misplaced with the care of your dear friend.”“Yeah, yeah, you’re on the clock, y’know,” Anya harshly reminded Edelschwert before snatching out a hand and whacking him across the rear. "Heh heh." After that snicker at him jumping, she paused and stepped backwards to poke you. “Hey. You gonna be alright goin’ back alone? Sure you don’t wanna come with?”“I have a lot to take care of.”“Well, you’re at least not going to the station by yourself,” Anya took your arm, “Man, you know, you could probably take on Mag, you’ve gotten bigger’n him.”“You are rather set on this idea of pitting us against one another,” Magnus said unappreciatively. “For fun!” Anya said defensively, “C’mon, we’ll get him there faster if we each take a shoulder instead of makin’ ‘im walk with a stick.”-----“Did y’really have to go up to that same person and apologize for me?” Anya complained, the alcohol having faded from her system, replaced by the wooziness of a long night. Her already clingy dress had stuck to her with sweat, despite the cold, and being under her jacket made her feel like she a red hot boiler. “She ought to have been thankful that I taught such a good lesson.”“You thought it not worth apologizing yourself,” Edelschwert shot back, “You really are a child of the badlands, aren’t you.”“I’m the child of the greatest man to ever live,” Anya corrected. “If I can’t be of his blood, I’ll be of his legacy.” They had gone right out from Edelschwert apologizing profusely to the local guardhouse, back out to the night fair, and danced until Anya couldn’t ignore the stitches in her sides from getting beaten like a rug. “Hey,” Anya muttered quietly as they parted from the crowd, “I wasn’t too much a pain in the ass, was I?”“Tonight, or in all the time we have gotten to know each other?”“Tonight, smartass.”“Well.” Edelschwert scratched his chin, “I would hardly be known as the man I am today if I was opposed to adventure. I haven’t boasted of it often, but my men and I have had times where we may as well have lived in Sosaldt. Some were comfortable waiting over the border, but allowing an enemy respite is to surrender the initiative.”
“I’m gonna take that as a compliment,” Anya decided aloud. “…You gonna be alright here once we’re gone?”They had gone into quiet streets now, and Edelschwert gave a long and heavy sigh. “Likely not. Days are coming where what will be demanded of my men and I will be beyond what we have ever done before. We may find our limits in this test.”“You could leave, y’know.” Anya suggested lightly, guessing at what he referred to, but not revealing a word of what she knew. She guessed that Edelschwert already assumed she knew, anyways.“We could.” Edelschwert agreed, “But this is a fight for our nations’ souls, that has been a long time coming. To not participate in this battle would be antithetical to our very beings, all we have fought for, the beliefs we have kept in good times and bad. The hope that the dark hours would be coming to an end.”“Huh. Good luck with that, then.” Anya shrugged.“I rather thought you might object,” Edelschwert said, confusion leaking into his voice.“I don’t really like it, but I think that the very least anybody ought’a be allowed is fighting the fights they want to fight, what with how many people don’t want to do, but gotta do anyways.” Anya said as they walked along, like she was reciting from memory, “I won’t fight doing something I don’t get nothin’ out of, but that’s only something for me, not other people. The way I see it, you can be part of a pack, but a wolf can’t live alone. You can be a pig, but a lot of days you’ll eat trash. You can be a seabird, but you’ll have to let the wind take you wherever.” “Would you say that you’re a wolf, a boar, or a seabird?” Edelschwert asked.Anya put her hands behind her head and looked up at the rising moon, “Dunno. I ripped that saying off from somebody smarter’n I am, but I liked the way it sounded. Guess I haven’t tried enough to say.” She turned her head to the long haired captain again, “Anyways, whatever you end up doing, be safe. There aren’t enough guys who can cook in the world.”“There are plenty, I assure you,” Edelschwert chuckled, “But I’ll try and preserve my family’s recipes the best I can.”-----
January 29 1933Anya had come back right on time last night, and this morning, you thought she looked quite glad to be in her usual apparel again- though she didn’t seem like she disliked the slinky dress. You had taken notes even to make certain Maddalyn would find herself in something similar, with how the crown of the rump so often implied itself above that lowest dip in the dress- a razor’s edge.You no longer needed the crutch, thank goodness, but you were still careful walking with how sore your leg and ankle still felt. Nobody was letting you do any work because of it combined with every other injury you’d sustained, and you weren’t certain whether to be relieved or feel bad about it. Not that there was an incredible amount to do.The remaining Iron Hogs packed and prepared to leave as soon as you told them you were going to be off- without any ceremony whatsoever. They only asked that you sign a document releasing them, and they said they would just…drive off themselves. Fine then. It was less for you to take care of, though you had thought they might ask for more. Busy mercenaries, you could only assume. Perhaps they expected to see more of you later? They were hanging around for a little bit, though.As for your own egress from the country, a missive had come for you last night, delivered to Von Metzeler (who seemed oddly morose). Simple enough- take a train right out of the country, to a private flight from the Netillian capital of Berkesseburg, back home…it was funny, that such a thing was how you’d leave. The benefits of a schedule, even if it meant you felt like you were leaving so much undone. Was this how the Intelligence Office always did things? Skittering off just before the true chaos began? Well, you wouldn’t exactly be skittering off, not if you went through with riding with the Silver Lances…whenever they became a part of this conflict coming up.No instructions were given as to what to do with your tanks, both the ones brought from Strossvald and captured from Twaryi. The Intelligence Office clearly didn’t care what you would do with them, just that they weren’t going to bother bringing them back. Wladysaw did say he would have people come and pick up what you had left- but that didn’t mean you had to give everything over, potentially…
That left the question of your personal contacts here. The insurgents, you could just leave. The Ashes, you could trust Anya with cleaning up, and she’d ask for help if she felt she needed it. The company platoon leaders, however…how many of them would be fighting one another? Moreover, what had ever become of Kelwin? When you left, there would be no company commander…though you had no clue where Captain Kelwin had gone, and he’d made no attempt to contact you either. Presumably, the void in leadership would either be amended- or the resultant chaos coming up would disrupt things permanently. No way to no, and you weren’t staying to find out. Though you did have to let Wielzci at least know, didn’t you? Of all the leaders, he had been the most help to you no matter what the situation had been, and it was the least he deserved.There was also the subject of that Twaryian prisoner. Krause might have disguised her, but he wasn’t going to be around any longer to be her minder. Should you just…escort her to the border? Leave her here and not have her be a problem? Cart her along with you for no adequately explored reason to hand over to the IO? That particular delusional mistake had not been a painful one, but it was certainly a bug still in the bed.>Unless you have anything else in mind, these issues are what will be addressed------>How are you handling the tanks? Sabotaging them? Giving them to others? You can divide them up, if desired. You presently have the X-51, the X-52, the X-20, and a captured T-16.>Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?>How to finally permanently deal with this red headed short prisoner?>Other things?And yes, you do have that dour looking picture of what is most assuredly Maddalyn. Even if she is making a stern face, you’d know it anywhere, wouldn’t you.Also if I forgot anything I apologize.
>>4451667>>How are you handling the tanks? Sabotaging them? Giving them to others? You can divide them up, if desired. You presently have the X-51, the X-52, the X-20, and a captured T-16.Leave them as is. I regret not cross training some guys though. would have been nice to leave the tanks to them.>>Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?Inform Wielzci that were being pulled out, likely because the Ellowian army in exile is coming back soon and offer our contacts with the resistance.>>Other things?I'd like to transfer temporary command to Wielzci, but somehow I think that would paint a target on his back for the Komissariat or Netillian High Command.
>>4451667>How are you handling the tanks? Stow them in the garage, tell our Lieutenants that they'll eventually be collected by Net High Command. In reality we pass onto Wielzci where we left the keys and that the NLF could really use some shiny new tanks and commanders when shit hits the fan.>How to finally permanently deal with this red headed short prisoner?Someone give her a ride to the border, a lunchbox and send her on her way. No Zohl to worry about now.>Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?>Our PlatoonsLet's do a final meeting with our company leaders, express our gratitude and satisfaction in their performances and congratulate them all on overcoming the differences between Netillians and Ellowians. Surely the bonds forged here will lead to a bright future of unity and cooperation between their peoples. Cheers to the brotherhood of the Midland Rangers! for another week or so Explain that the Strossvalders are being recalled home likely for new deployments and that until a replacement is appointed, to maintain their patrols and keep an close eye on the Twaryians for anymore shenanigans.>MaeneskoI dunno if we have time to meet, maybe a note wishing him luck and that we have the utmost confidence in our Ellowian units in watching out for him if he has any trouble wink wink, nudge nudge.
>>4451667>How are you handling the tanks? Sabotaging them? Giving them to others? You can divide them up, if desired. You presently have the X-51, the X-52, the X-20, and a captured T-16.Hand them over to Magnus, the Blue Knights will probably appreciate the additional firepower.>Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?I was thinking we officially release 4th and 6th to the Gendarmes, after all that's what the Combined Infantry program was for. Then quietly lead Wielzci aside and explain what's going down.>How to finally permanently deal with this red headed short prisoner?Leave her here, with all the chaos she can probably slip away later.
>>4451689>Leave them as isin the hands of the Netillians? No thank you.>offer our contacts with the resistance.ehhh, we should measure how he feels about the operation, if we tell him at all, before just giving him resistance contacts.>transfer temporary command to Wielzciprobably not, that would give him less freedom to act when A-2 comes around.>>4451728+1 for redhead sendoff idea, but I don't think we should involve Maenesko. I like him, but I don't trust him enough not to potentially tell somebody important, even if he's not fond of the Defense Party.>>4451667>How are you handling the tanks?If possible give them all over to good king Wladysaw. If he's not available, see if we can get them to the NLF some way. If that's not possible, scuttle them.>Other things?Do we have any RP left that we can chuck into fuel that we can send with wherever we send the tanks (or if we scuttle them, can send to Wladysaw/NLF)?
>>4451667>How are you handling the tanks? Sabotaging them? Giving them to others? You can divide them up, if desired. You presently have the X-51, the X-52, the X-20, and a captured T-16.Tell NLF exactly where they are stored and how to steal them.>Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?Release the 4th and 6th platoons to the Gendarmes, as >>4451732 proposes.Also ask Metz about the his situation with Yva.>How to finally permanently deal with this red headed short prisoner?Deliver her to the border and let her be.
>>4451667>How are you handling the tanks? Sabotaging them? Giving them to others? You can divide them up, if desired. You presently have the X-51, the X-52, the X-20, and a captured T-16.If we could hand them over to Magnus or Wielzci that would be a nice parting gift from us. >Are you finding/speaking with anybody in particular before you go? About what?Inform Wielzci that we're fucking off, but don't mention why.Check up with prostitute and son if we can, say goodbye. Release the 4th and 6th platoons to the Gendarmes.Send a thank you letter to MaeneskoAsk Metz about Yva. Meet with her if she's around.Check to see one last time if we got our fucking letters!And if we can maybe find Kelwin and aplogoize about everything. He really got fucked over and we didn't really help motivate him when he needed it most.>How to finally permanently deal with this red headed short prisoner?Throw her back where she came from. Not sure if we have our gold or cash with us, but giving her something for her troubles would be nice. Also give her headpats for the road.
>>4451667Actually tanq, speaking of the maddy picture, what is in our inventory right now? As in Richter's personal effects, not what is assigned to our command. I don't remember if we picked up any mementos, souvenirs or other odds and ends along the way here, but I feel like we have a few.
>>4451857>Actually tanq, speaking of the maddy picture, what is in our inventory right now? As in Richter's personal effects, not what is assigned to our command.His personal effects are relatively sparse, really. They mostly just consist of his weapons- the carbine, pistols, and things that are sort of the crew's utilities as a whole administratively owned by him, save for the pistol Signy gave him. He's also got his mask, his jacket- things he bought but didn't send off.
Tanks->>4451689Leave them be.>>4451728>>4451799Hand them off to Wielzci/NLF>>4451732Give them to Edelschwert.>>4451811Either or.People->>4451689Spoil your 4th platoon.>>4451728Call up a big meeting for a sendoff.>>4451732>>4451799>>4451811Release 4th and 6th platoons to the Gendarmes, talk with Wielzci about the future.>>4451799>>4451811Ask your second in command about his witch.>>4451811Belay telling Wielzci the specifics.Book an appointment with the masseuse.Maenesko letter than your mailbox, even if it's probably empty.Try to find Kelwin.Shortie->>4451732Dump her in a gutter.>>4451728>>4451743>>4451799>>4451811Drop it off by the border.Going to get writing then! This is a lot, of course, but it is finally getting out of this country.
>>4453757Forgot to mention, as well, trying to use all that remaining RP to seize as much fuel as you can. That's a rather important note.
>>4453757Not sure if it'll make a difference or not but you missed my vote (>>4451743) for tanks (give to king/give to NLF/scuttle)
>>4453762Yeah, noted it, though that's about how it looks like it's going.
First order of business was the tanks, as well as the trucks, the combat cars, the fuel to move all of your mechanized assets- as much of which was procured as possible to promptly give away. What was Netilland going to do, reprimand you after you left? You were already in the midst of a suspended trial for treason, or whatever the exact terminology for the nonsensical thing had been pinned on you was, they should have looked into your character if they wanted to complain.Wladysaw had already claimed he would be ready to pick them up from you once you left, and the only decision you were unsure of was which person you knew personally to gift these tanks to. There was the High Protector, Edelschwert, but also Wielzci, who had already been trusted with at least one tank plenty of times in the past. Though you did have a plan to satisfy both the King as well as his equally anti-northern allies- once you assembled the company leaders for a meeting, that was.One last time, every platoon leader was gathered in the meeting hall, which had progressed to an entrenched tent now rather than a more temporary structure or a borrowed space. The Netillian officers you’d come here (officially) to train had much more bite than they once did, though much of that was supervised rather than instilled. They were naturally belligerent sorts, or so you’d always heard. Wielzci was the same as he had ever been, but the new Ellowian leaders hadn’t had much time and experience to truly reach the level of proper soldiers. A pity, but at least they were organized and equipped.“Gentlemen,” you said from the head of the tent, hands behind your back, “the Archduchy is calling us of Strossvald back home, away from our assignment here. We may be replaced, but whether or not you will have a replacement coordinator, our time together is coming to an end. I’ll be informing the High Protector that he has a couple of new units in the 4th and 6th to accept into his Gendarmes, and that should be the final decision I make around here.” It wasn’t your business to do anything concerning transference of units to the Gendarmes besides make a recommendation, but you were in a position that this would be guaranteed to be acted upon. Rybak looked extremely pleased to apparently be ready for service so quickly, though Wielzci was utterly nonplussed. He couldn’t be blamed for not being outwardly excited. The Netillian officers looked terribly uncertain about all of this, however. “…Not gonna get used to half the unit just up and leaving,” Kristoph muttered.“Who will be in charge after you?” Abetz asked, “Will they bring tanks? I think I liked having those along for the ride.”
Ah, an excuse. “They’ll likely inherit the ones I leave here, which will be held for me elsewhere until they’re to be used. In the meantime, Captain Kelwin is still officially commander of the unit, no?” He’d never been unassigned, despite his absence.“Yeah, but,” Kristoph choked, “He hasn’t been here in…how long? I’m thinking he’s not coming back and everybody’s forgotten to do anything about it.”“I’ll have a word with Battalion about it.” You lied, “You’ll be alright in these times though.” Likely not. “I believe you men of Ellowie and Netilland have proven a bond can be formed even between former enemies- one than can triumph over anything the east can throw at you. As my send off, may I say that the Midland Rangers, will surely have a legacy that extends to both countries.”You had actually thought that statement had some wholesomeness behind it, but evidently you were the only person that thought that as every single company leader looked back and forth like they were searching for anybody who dared agree with a ludicrous statement. Fine then, let it be ludicrous. The foreigner was allowed to have optimistic blindness to a struggle of generations.“…Then,” you started again flatly, “Battalion maintains orders to keep up patrols, even with the recent ceasefire. Changes in fortunes for the better are no reason to be lax. Dismissed.” They began to file out, morosely. “Except you, Wielzci. Stay here a minute.” The dark haired officer paused, then turned to you and stepped up close, silent, stern faced, expectant of what you had to say as soon as the others were out. “You’ve been trustworthy with our vehicles, so I’m entrusting them to you until another officer of Strossvald comes to accept command of them once more. The tanks, the combat cars, spare fuel- whatever isn’t officially property of the company itself. The Gendarmes will be apprised of this, and you will have a letter from me stating such.”“Understood.” Wielzci said back. “These have been interesting times, Coordinator.”“They seem to be calming down now.”“Hm,” Wielzci narrowed his eyes ever so slightly, “You’ve had enough of the interesting times, I take it.”“Maybe.”“Still uncertain then.” Wielzci saluted and turned about. “Wherever you are going, take better care of yourself and your retinue.”“…Er, thanks?” You didn’t know what to make of that as Wielzci exited the tent, and you were once again as you came here the year before, with those who the Archduchy had sent.-----While you had Von Metzeler after the last meeting with the company, you inquired into another matter you’d hopefully be leaving behind.“Have you been around Yva?” you asked.Von Metzeler pursed his lips, kept his eyes on the ground. “…No. She was gone yesterday. She did not give any warning nor farewell…”
That sigh of relief that escaped your lips was forcefully cut off midway through out of respect for your second in command. “Well. You know how their sort is. Maybe that’s for the best.”“…She was very sad…” Von Metzeler had bitterness soaked into his normally stoic tone, “She did her best to comfort me when I lost my own limb,” he raised the stump of his left arm, shorn below the elbow, “I thought to return the favor…yet I fear I have failed her. I cannot help but wonder if I misjudged how to treat her…” He let his arm fall again. “…She spoke of the past, and I am honor bound to speak to no others of it. Yet…I fear she departed because of such…”There wasn’t a good way to express that you were glad she hadn’t stuck around to invite trouble. “I’m sure it wasn’t that.” Not wanting to leave off with a platitude, you moved to the future. “You have a fiancée to meet now, are you excited?”“…Were you when you were to meet yours..?”“I er.” You thought back, “I…near forgot that we were engaged, to be quite honest.”“…That is what is to be expected…”You sniffed at that. “I expect to be amending that to proper marriage soon. Will you attend the ceremony?” That counted as an invitation as far as you were concerned.“…I see no reason why not…”“Anya won’t come.”“…That does not sound like a problem…” Von Metzeler’s tone was unchanged, “The last place I would expect to find that mercenary is at a wedding…No offense is meant towards you on behalf of your retinue, but she is unruly at the best of times, and her eagerness to cause an affront would have no place at the marriage of the daughter of a territorial lord…”Anya seemed to behave herself well enough at socials, you thought, but then, in the first one she had had an adventure to distract herself with, and in the one she’d recently left she had been given free reign to simply leave, which she hadn’t taken much time in doing. “Maybe she wouldn’t like it much, but I’d still have appreciated her to be there, especially since…she’s planning to go off on her own rather soon.”“…Where to..?”You shrugged. “I don’t think even she knows.”“…She is your retinue, she has duties, now…”“She will continue to be my retinue, after she leaves, and when she returns.”“…And you haven’t considered keeping her back..?” Von Metzeler asked.>You had. Yet would she be happy with that? If she wished to go off headfirst into danger and not come back…that was simply family tradition for better or worse, was it not?>Not anymore. As you were now, you were overworking her anyways. Any woman needed a break from you, right? As you’d proven with your fiancée. >No. She’d come because she wanted to, and would leave for the same reason. She had earned enough confidence from you that she’d come back again, too.>Other?
>>4454251>No. She’d come because she wanted to, and would leave for the same reason. She had earned enough confidence from you that she’d come back again, too.
>>4454251>>No. She’d come because she wanted to, and would leave for the same reason. She had earned enough confidence from you that she’d come back again, too.She never did properly beat us in a drinking game. I think, it was hard to tell towards the end there. Maybe a draw.
Sleep maintenance attempted.>>4454254>>4454255>>4454264>>4454287>>4454360Free to fly like the eagle.Writing.
Your response was immediate- “No.” When Von Metzeler leaned back from you like he’d accidentally broached an uncomfortable topic, you elaborated. “Rather, she came here in the first place because she wanted to. Now, she’ll leave because she wants to. I won’t stand in the way of her desires.”“…She is a mercenary and fond of dangerous work…”“Anya has earned my confidence in spite of that. She’ll come back again.” That wasn’t just you saying something to convince yourself either. It felt good to know that what you said was beyond debate.Von Metzeler must have had a different opinion from how he frowned, but no objection came from him. “…If you both believe that, then it is a matter between the two of you…”“We also have unfinished business. Our drinking game had no victor, and a draw would be intolerable.”“…Heavens forbid that be continued,” Von Metzeler murmured, “So be it. I will not ask further…”You didn’t mind talking about it, but if Von Metzeler was looking for an exit… “Lieutenant,” you said with an official air, “Our prisoner. Given that there is no further risk to her, could you take her and release her towards the border, ideally under truce flag? There is a ceasefire, but we can’t be too careful.”“…It will be done…”“Oh, and if you could compensate her for her trouble-““Von Tracht,” Von Metzeler interjected suddenly, “…She is a prisoner, regardless of resemblances. Even if she were to escape with naught, such would be suspicious. Compensation is not only out of place, but would surely alarm her comrades.”Oh. You hadn’t thought of that.“…Frederick and I will arrange something, it is clear you might not be focusing properly concerning this prisoner. Concern yourself with it naught…She will be put back over the border…”“Thank you.” You saluted, “I’ll be handling some paperwork…” …Wait, Anya wasn’t bedridden anymore. “Actually, I’ll be making a visit to those people that helped us take care of Gerovic. I’ll find you when I’m through. Higher ups say we need to be at Kamienisty by four o’clock, we have time.”Von Metzeler nodded, saluted, and left you be. You wondered how much he was looking forward to getting home- with what he lost of his memories, out of everybody he’d be the least enthusiastic, but what if the erasure of years of poor memories with his family actually had the opposite effect? Time would tell. At the very least he had more than his direct family to return to now.
You didn’t have to for any reason but to bid farewell, but you went to Lucia and Kryz’s place next. Kryz’s mother was as effortlessly sultry as ever as she answered the door and greeted you with a soft smile, a gentle purr in her tone of voice. Some of the gloom of the UGZ had left her, it seemed, though not inhabiting a brothel meant she had a noticeable lack of cosmetics on her- she was brighter regardless. “Oh, it’s you,” she said, opening the door wider, “You’ve a dashing mask on, ah ha ha. Are you going to surprise your lover with that display?”Lucia hadn’t commented on your wounds when you showed up covered in bandages. Perhaps she had thought that to be a matter of manners, but the simple way she spoke made you feel rather flattered about that simple piece of apparel. “Ah, well, I hope it’s a good sort of surprise.”Lucia reached for your neck and adjusted your collar without asking. “If she loves you, she will be happy you returned for her at all, and anything else is simply more to be thankful for.” A sadness in her voice despite her smile. “Would you like to come in? I’ve tea to share, and Leon is out with his new friends, but if you would just like to talk then I can always listen.”“New friends?” you asked as you went through the door to sit in a chair by a scrappy tea table that must have been reclaimed from the junk and repaired by a local craftsman.“Mm, a group of children came in recently.” Lucia said as she put a pot over a wood fired stove- you recognized the wood as firewood from the lumber operations you had helped initiate. “Delinquent sorts, but who am I to be critical of wayward children? Ah ha ha. I am just happy that Leon has found others to associate with…most of them are younger, he says, so they have respect for him and his…history.”She must have been referring to the Ashes. The child soldiers of the Orders were not put in the UGZs, and indeed, you were not informed where they’d been placed at all. The ERA presumably would not have surrendered their valuable manpower, either. “Were you looking for Leon?” Lucia asked with a hint of worry.“Ah, no, if he isn’t around, then if you could tell him when he returns. My men and I will be departing today. I came to give my goodbyes, and a second thanks for your aid. The Archduchy summons us back home, away from our assignment here.”“Are you happy about that?” Lucia asked, “You do not sound very jubilant.”“…Much has happened here.” More was yet to come- and you might not be heading to home and love so quickly. “I’m satisfied to be alive, if beaten up.”“Be happy to be alive, dear,” Lucia bent forward and curled a lock of your hair in her fingers, before stroking down the side of your head behind your ear. “It will help wounds of all kinds heal better. Ah, did your cute friend have a good time at her ball?”
“She did, yes. Thank you for your help with her, again.”“She was so sensitive to being told to pad her chest a little,” Lucia glanced coyly down, “Only a small bit, she has nothing to be ashamed of. Although I suppose I do give reason to be insecure, ah ha ha. If a woman my age can make young ladies squirm, Leon may have a new father yet, hm?” “I’m…not sure if it was that,” you said, “Anya didn’t get along with her mother when she was growing up, and you do happen to be very…motherly.”“I am sure Leon could tell you that,” Lucia said smugly, “That is sad, though. Maybe she should visit home soon, as well.”Wherever that home might be, you thought morosely. “If there is anything you need before I will be leaving, feel free to ask.” It was the least you could do for her help with Gerovic.“We will be just fine, thank you,” Lucia’s ears perked at the teakettle whistling. “There it is. The tea here is rather improvised, but it is well bodied.” She poured cups for both of you, “No sugar, I’m afraid. I’ve heard the Netillians ration it strictly even to their citizens these days. At least they were always more fond of savory flavors.”“Thank you,” you said as a worn teacup was given to you. The tea smelled of berry, mint- rustic and light, but something beneath it… “What is in it?”“Wild mint, billberry, Kalamarz fir,” Lucia listed off, “They’ve decent woodsmen to properly pick out the latter. A hint too old from too aged a tree, and the needles are terribly bitter.” She sat down across from you, still amiable, receptive and warm in her expression. “So, tell me about that ball, then. A Royal Dance…it stirs the inspiration, does it not? At least, for one of the Republic. Us writers were always so mystified by such things as Kingdoms, is it not funny?”Not so much to you, coming from a place that was many former monarchs banded together. The tea passed easily down you, and rested well- like a furnace being lit in a cold basement, feeling the warmth spread through you. “So did she dance with the King all that night?”“Ah, no,” you put the teacup down, “Just the opening dance. She had an escort, an, er…friend?” You had no clue what Anya and Magnus considered one another. Not so long ago you’d have presumed they were enemies. “How good of friends do you think they are?” Lucia purred with growing interest, “She didn’t seem the sort to be dressing to impress, but the imagination tells a more fun story than simply looking the part for an event…”>?
>>4455278>>?If they were to get together I wouldn't have any objections. She seemed to be impressed by his cooking skills.
>>4455278Anya isn't the type to settle down, and Magnus doesn't seem the type to leave his duty. They both seem interested but I don't think it's in the cards for either of them.
>>4455278They would make a strange couple for sure, but I suppose those make for the best romance stories. Ultimately our retinue's personal life is none of our business as long as it doesn't interfere with her duties.
>>4455278It is unlikely to happen but stranger things have happened, opposites attract as they say, and they've definitely caught each other eyes.That said, she is my waifu so back off Magnus. Go back to practicing "swordfighting" with your childhood friend Yumil.
>>4455278>I have no idea for what Anya is looking in men. So who even knows? I just hope she had fun.>Still, I ship them.
>>4455286>>4455303>>4455330>>4455415>>4455480ARRRRRGH YOU FOOLS WISH TO SELL OUT BEST GIRL? BY THE JUDGE I WON'T ALLOW IT!>"She is her own woman. She can be with who she wants." Fidget uncomfortably and look unpleased with your answer
>>4455492Sorry, anon. Anya is forever our noble confidant.
>>4455492Hey I'm with ya, he still has to admit they could've had something. And then Richter starts to fantasize about getting beaten by meaty abs...
>>4455492There's no getting away from Maddy at this point. She's our ball and chain and we're not even married yet.
>>4455278Ask Lucia if she's going to be using us as a character reference for a novel or something? Because the Commadant of Mittelsosalia could use a sequel.>“How good of friends do you think they are?”I'd say Richter would consider Anya as a cousin, considering her surrogate dad was his uncle.
>>4455278They might fool around, but Anya has room for one man and one many only and Magnus doesn't have to what it takes to compete.It's unclear if any many will.
Nice mini-waifu war going on here now
Anya is little cousin tier.Maddy is the one true wife.All panzer girls are cute and deserve to be happy, but only one can have Richter.So any and all opportunities to set the other girls up with guys that will treat them good should be taken.
>>4455703This anon understands what's what.
>>4455703When Richter's love for Maddy lost the vote for what to give up during Richter's unbrainwashing, I personally saw that as more or less the route lock for Maddy. I can live with throwing in with the goblinfags, but I worry about leading some of the other girls on still. This vote with Anya is important because it is clear she cares about Richter a whole lot, to the point of getting beat to hell to spare Richter more trouble. Basically what I am saying is that if this Anya's self sacrificing behavior towards Richter is romantically fueled at all, I don't think it would be a good idea to just release Anya to the world and hope she finds someone to hook up with. It might be a good idea to have a little talk with Anya and lay out our feelings for her in person, it just seems unfair and manipulative of her if her loyalty towards Richter is some sort of forlorn crush that she hopes may work out one day.
>>4455930>Basically what I am saying is that if this Anya's self sacrificing behavior towards Richter is romantically fueled at allThat's the thing, it's not.Her loyalty is motivated by her feelings for Hel, not her feelings for Richter. It's been stated more than once by tanq himself that Anya just really isn't into us like that because we simply aren't her type and we haven't pushed her to try new things. She sees Richter and to and extent herself as an extension of Hel's legacy, and that's something she's more than willing to fight and get her ass beat for protecting. The girls we need to worry about leading on are Hilda and Signy.
>>4455930>lay out our feelings for her in personBut we already did, in this very thread.
>>4455278She may have tried to drown Maddy, and we may have shot up the town she and her sister were in when we first met her. But Anya is basically family.>>4455492No
>>4455286>>4455330>>4455415>>4455711Possibly interested?>>4455303Unlikely, despite interest.>>4455480>>4455492Uhhh>>4455666Satan says she's stuck on a corpse.>>4455636My ego requires legends to be scribed about me.>>4455711>>4455728Unsure if these are votes or not, besides the explicit rejection of not going for a conclusion.Writing.>>4456195>She may have tried to drown MaddyTechnically she didn't try to do that, but Maddalyn being terrified of drowning makes her particularly inclined against having her head shoved underwater.
How good of friends? Clearly Lucia meant something more intimate, and you tapped your finger as you thought about it. “. Her escort, an officer called Magnus,”“An overbearing northern name, I see.”“He offered to escort her specifically, and she accepted. I’m not sure if that means anything, though, rather than just mending their differences, but I think,” you drew your finger back across the table like it was an inchworm, “…I think they’re interested in one another, but I don’t see them having time or chance to do anything if they weren’t sure by now. Anya is leaving with me, after all.”“Ah ha ha.” Lucia leaned forward, “You sound apprehensive.” You pouted defensively at what you weren’t sure was an attempt to tease you. “It isn’t like either of them have told me.”“More that you don’t approve.”“Anya is her own woman, and I wouldn’t object to it, but she is…like family, I suppose. My uncle raised her, you see.”“There is nothing to be ashamed of in wanting the best for your family,” Lucia agreed, “So what does she like about him?”“He is apparently a talented cook.”“The stomach is a potent weak point,” Lucia tittered without expecting comment from you.You couldn’t be too sure about that with Anya. “I don’t think it’s likely for either of them just because of how they’re different. I suppose stranger things have happened, but since they were first familiar with each other as enemies, I suppose it’s hard to see.” You shrugged halfheartedly. “Her personal life isn’t my business though, truly. So long as it doesn’t disrupt her focus on duties. I just know her tastes are very specific, and that they did enjoy their time with each other,” you leaned back in your chair, “And I appreciate Magnus for that.” That was about all you had to say on that, and you were sure you said things twice just in that short explanation. “…You aren’t going to use us as character references in a novel or something, are you?”“Hmm, maybe,” Lucia turned her head coyly, “Is that a problem?”“No, I’m just curious.”“Vain, I see. Ah ha ha.”“Hmph,” you glanced away, “I’m just wary of fictionalized takes on my life after I see a book called The Kommandant’s Woman, is all.”“I’ll be sure to pick it up for my notes.”You looked at your watch, and were surprised to see how much time you’d spent here being made fun of by Lucia. “Ah,” you stood up, paused, then drank the rest of the tea, “I’m sorry, but I have to get going.” You bowed slightly, “Thank you again, but…I must be going.”
“Such a shame I couldn’t bring my games with me,” Lucia stood up, “Ah well. You are welcome, and,” Lucia put her arms around you and held you for but a moment, “Thank you dearly, for bringing me my son…carefree as I might seem, he is my light in the darkness of these times. I only hope he does not wander off again.”“…Me too,” you said, “Good luck.”So you left Lucia’s home. Only administrative matters left to take care of- and seeing if you could find one last person.-----Despite the efforts you could make in the time available, you couldn’t find Captain Kelwin- you found out where he had gone, but he wasn’t in a place you would be able to get to and back. A request to go back to Berkesseburg, for more education while he was wounded- but an explicit request to not replace him. So he had intended to return…but when? Would it end up being after he no longer had a unit to command?What happened to him wasn’t something you had been happy with. He had looked to you for help and advice, perhaps friendship, and while you had already gone on a path against Netilland, you still felt like you’d come up short for him. It wasn’t anything personal, after all- there was no reason you couldn’t have been acquainted. Yet he had gone, and you had parted on terms that were unamicable. That you wouldn’t get the chance to make things square was depressing…at least he wasn’t crippled, or dead.Would he be by the end of the coming war?Part of looking into Kelwin also involved checking your mail- empty of anything you actually wanted, as usual. Yes, this was what had ever been the situation, but…you had hoped that sending letters out would result in Maddalyn finding a way in, too. Nothing, though, not anywhere, and you didn’t even have to check with New Jorgenstohn to know your arrangement that had once existed there was long gone. What if the correspondence was seized and held from you, you thought with bile rising in your throat. All the more reason to return.The final matter was writing your own last letter- to Sublieutenant Maenesko, addressed as such. A simple, formal thanks, and little else. There would have been plenty more, but it was all the sort of thing to not have in writing. It simply felt wrong to just leave off without having said anything.
…So this was it, was it, you thought as you gave your tanks a last look-over. They were left in good condition, their ammunition stocks were still alright. They’d been put over here because they had been deemed affordable losses, secondhand vehicles boosted with new weaponry. An after operation report on their performance was supposed to be forthcoming, but you’d do it after you got back to Strossvald. For now, you simply thought about what they’d be doing once you left, what color would be painted over the Strossvald Blue that adorned them now.For all your sentiment, though, you couldn’t help but also think- you were quite ready to return to your m/32.Into the car, to Kamienisty, onto the train just as quick…“You took far longer than you needed to,” the Major had said once you were on the train, arms crossed.“I wasn’t late.” You said back flatly.“You need no reminder of what you are,” the Major’s needless reprimand continued, “I only hope your business was worth the additional time investment.” You were about to continue on to sit with your crew when you felt a vice grip on your shoulder. “You will have plenty of time to chatter with your acquaintances on the flight. Come with me.”The entire train was loaded with Intelligence Office agents, you were sure- otherwise the Major surely wouldn’t be so bold. You expected to be led into another car entirely, but no, you were just seated at a booth on the other end of the passenger car from the others.
“So.” The Major sat across from you, “You will have three days after we arrive back in Strossvald. After that, it is most likely that the Silver Lances will be activated, and your recently added name to their reserves, drawn up. None of your platoon will be joining you, but you will be allowed your crew and retinue. The minimum rank for a tank commander in the Silver Lances is a Lieutenant, so you will be subordinate to a platoon leader. After you join them on whatever operation they embark upon, you will likely be given the choice to join permanently or return to your prior assignment.” A pause. “A thank you is in order. The Silver Lances normally only consider volunteers with at least thirty months of active service. You would easily be among the youngest under them, and they were not easy to convince to accept you.”No thanks to my fraudulent criminal record, presumably. “Three days..?”“You did not expect a month of leave, did you?” The Major frowned deeply, “Yes, three days, and you will be expected to be easily found. Surprise absence leading to tardiness will not be tolerated by the Silver Lances. I could care less if you decided to squander that chance. As far as the Intelligence Office is concerned, the most likely date of your next assignment will not be for at least a month. You might even lack one for long enough to return to normal service.”What even was normal service? You felt like you’d never known it. The Major pushed a clipboard in front of you and crossed one leg over the other. “Now. Your three days, the locations you intend to spend them. The names of your crewmen and retinue, whether they will be joining your tour with the Silver Lances. Their locations, if they will be. Should they not, replacement crew will be assigned to you on location.” The Major waved a hand at you. “Fill that out and begone. I don’t want to have to deal with you further until I absolutely must.”>You will have three days of leave to go wherever you wish in Strossvald. Where do you want to go, in what order, and what do you want to do in general? You will only be able to spend at minimum a day in locations, not hours- transportation is not so on demand you can make a stop for an hour.
>>4456663You should see if there's any cranberry juice available during the flight Major. No reason.also>to join permanentlyHot damn, maybe a way out of the IO's clutches.tanq would we have enough time to go visit the Blumlands or would it be better to arrange to have Maddy meet us somewhere?In general:Strosstadt(?) to see the family and Hilda. Maybe also see if we can jog our memory about how do hunting and shooting practice with Wurst Gurl.Talk to Dad about our case and the Conspiracy with the IO. Proudly announce about riding with the Lances.plusEither meet with or go to Maddy.>Other?Now with reliable mail/news available-What happened in Pliseau?Overall geopolitical headlines?Buy some new books that Richter might actually like to read.Put our crews names and Anya but we'll ask her if she wants to come with. If shes on the list and bails instead I don't think anyone from the Lances will care.
>>4456694>tanq would we have enough time to go visit the Blumlands or would it be better to arrange to have Maddy meet us somewhere?You would, but you can do the other thing too, really.
>>4456663Dammit. Three days is too little.>Go to Blumlands, grab Maddy then go visit our parents together with her for the other two days. We can also visit Hilda there.
>>4456663Don't worry Major, not wanting to see each other is definitely mutual.>You will have three days of leave to go wherever you wish in Strossvald. Where do you want to go, in what order, and what do you want to do in general? You will only be able to spend at minimum a day in locations, not hours- transportation is not so on demand you can make a stop for an hour.Head back to Strosstadt, see if we can get Maddy to join us there and bring her to meet our parents.Spending all our time at home should be fine. I assume most of the guys live around Strosstadt as well? Maybe host a coming-home party/gathering for our platoon to celebrate as well as to toast those who didn't make it.Other stuff>Supporting >>4456694Personally I'd like Richter to get back his military and history autism so it'd be nice if he spent some time going over that as well as current geopolitics.Go talk to our crew and Anya after this about their availability.
>>4456663Sometimes it feels like the Major has a grudge against Richter that extends beyond simple dislike, though for what reason I'm not sure. Anyway supporting >>4456742>>4456694Also how long has Richter been in service right now? Is it two years yet? Though I bet our trip to Sosaldt isn't officially counted as service since we 'deserted'.
>>4456742Supporting this. This seems like it's going to be a pitched battle from start to finish, so we ought to tell the crew to only volunteer if they're ready to go out of the frying pan and into the fire. I'm sure Malachi and Jorg will come regardless, but Stein and Hans have family to consider.>>4456756>Major has a grudgeI mean, we did bust out of the mind control and we came with the Bertram baggage that she had to help us with. Probably pretty far from the ideal agent.
>>4456759That's true, but she was acting like this towards him even before all of this stuff happened.
>>4456764That's probably just the fact that she's generally a cold bitch.
>>4456742+1, go re-learn as much stuff as possible so Richter doesn't look like an idiot in front of the Lances. Maddy can help us with the history and political bits.
>>4456663o fuck this. We ain't goin. Call it off. After everything Richter has been through, they really gonna disrespect us like this and only give him 3 days of leave?THREE DAYS?Richter is in a terrible way, and the crew deserves their rest too.Richter needs time to recover after everything he's been through and even if joining the Silver Lances has been Richter's dream since childhood, there are other people in this equation that we need to think about and look out for. This isn't even mentioning that Maddy is languishing away by herself, getting up to god knows what. And is this really how we want Richter to get into the Silver Lances? Not through his own undeniable merit, but because of the machination of this...this fucking BITCH!NO!NO NO NO FUCK YOU!RICHTER AIN'T DOING IT!
>>4456815>After everything Richter has been through, they really gonna disrespect us like this and only give him 3 days of leave? THREE DAYS?Alpha Two has already started in Sosaldt, of course Richter isn't going to have long term leave.>Richter is in a terrible way, and the crew deserves their rest too. Crew gets to volunteer whether they want to go or not, we won't force them.>And is this really how we want Richter to get into the Silver Lances? Not through his own undeniable merit, but because of the machination of this...this fucking BITCH!Unless the IO clears us of that charge I frankly doubt we'll ever be able to get in the legitimate way considering she actually needed to convince them to let us join. Plus everything we do after we join up is based on his own merits. The Major might have got him in but it's up to Richter to prove his place. Hell good conduct here might make people think twice about his supposed reputation.Also if this means we potentially can fuck off from the IO and their shenanigans as >>4456694 points out that's a bonus.
Also tanq I know we were discussing another Luftpanzer-ish side story after this a bunch of threads back, is that still on? Will it be before we ship out for Ellowie again or after?
>>4456838>Crew gets to volunteer whether they want to go or not, we won't force them.Man, what a great time that would be.>Going on our big Sliver Lance adventure, broken to bits and completely alone (depending on if the Maddy vote goes through and if she can even come at all.)Woah, sounds great! Sign me the fuck up!>Unless the IO clears us of that charge I frankly doubt we'll ever be able to get in a legitimate way considering she actually needed to convince them to let us join.So we instead take the job the IO gives us and give up hope on our name being cleared and earning our spot through normal means? Is Richter, especially in the state he's in now, really THAT eager to run off into conflict again? Does none of this rub any of you guys the wrong way, that the IO put Richter in this position to start with and then acting like letting him fight even more is doing him a favor?
>>4456854I'm as incensed as you, anon. But unfortunately I don't think refusing to go with the Silver Lances now is going to improve our position.
>>4456901>I don't think refusing to go with the Silver Lances now is going to improve our position.It will improve Richter's physical and mental health and give him more of a chance to regain some of his lost skills and not make a total ass of himself out there.This whole thing with the Silver Lances is a trap at worst and a distraction at best.
>>4456663>>4456742+1, with the IMPORTANT additions of MARRYING MADDY and finding a prosthetic or something for our fingers.If anyone has any reason for not marrying Maddy like we should have a month or 2 ago please let me know. Otherwise we are overdue and it would make her (and us) very happy.
>>4456971We probably can't do a proper marriage ceremony in just 3 days. Otherwise, I'm all for it.
>>4456992I'm sure registering the marriage won't take that long. A proper ceremony can wait but we can always go find a priest and do one with the family and the platoon.
>>4456998If Lord Von Blum agrees to this.
>>4457012Feels like he won't really care but wait for tanq's response I guess
>>4457019He doesn't care for Maddy but he might care for appearances.
>>4456663Seconding >>4456694 and >>4456742>>4456911Richter is still being haunted by the residual form of the fear and it's been shown to drive him towards action and aggression and that his mental condition worsens when he hides or runs from a fight. Richter probably feels like if there's still a battle to be fought then he needs to partake in it, and choosing to stay away from the battlefield to sit around at court won't help him heal in that regard and might even bring back the fear for all we know. Even if it isn't logically the ideal decision I think Richter probably feels like this is something he has to do.
>>4457336Man I really hope we get progress towards / recover from our memory loss and marksmanship when we get rid of the Fear completely
I would normally say that this is primo time to get hitched with Maddy especially since we got her the engagement ring, but there might be an actual in universe reason that we'd want it delayed, although I suppose it depends on how things work in Vinstraga, i'd want clarification first before going through with it now.Considering that Maddy's magic works through her being a virgin, and that Lord Von Blum/Richter's parents want them to get down the Business and produce some heirs as soon as possible, I dunno if I want to put her in that position, she already seemed terrified of having children and her first time in bed for...many reasons I think are spoilery to speculate. These also seem like it will be Old School consummation rituals, especially since everyone involved is Nobility, she comes from a Territorial Lord, that's gotta have implications and expectations. But I could be wrong, but want to make sure. Maybe asking her?
>>4457405Holy crap, of course we gotta ask her.
>>4456815I'm generally with everyone else about going with the Lances, but this guy raises a point that Maddy is up to something crazy and it might be bad to be absent when it goes down. Which almost certainly means trouble when/if we get back from the front for the second time.I guess that's technically metagaming since it happened in one of those asides that Richter wouldn't know about, but maybe it will become more clear to him after talking to her, even if she doesn't mention it outright.
You know when else the fear has been shown to be driven out of his heart? When he spends time with or thinks about his wife. The idea that Richter would look at himself in the mirror and think, "You know what we need? More battle." is fucking ridiculous, when it's been all but stated at every opportunity in Richter's own monologues how fucking broken down and raggedy we've become despite the strives made against the Fear. At this rate, we'll be rid of the Fear when Richter is totally and utterly unfit for duty.Richter is in no condition to be gallivanting off on another campaign, mentally or physically, and the only excuse for doing so anyway is the idea that Richter is enough of a glory hound that he would continuously risk his life for little to no gain despite having 101 reasons to just chill for a bit instead. Despite everything he knows about the people he works for and what he's learned about the nature of war from people who have lost it all for doing the same shit you guys are insisting we do.It's like you guys are trying to make him suffer on purpose, fulfill that Von Tract death prophecy at any cost. You guys somehow got it in your heads that three days of rest, most of it spent not really resting, but spent shopping for prosthetics and cramming as much as possible is at all reasonable. Between all the different things that need to be organized how much time do you think Richter will get to actually rest? To actually chill and be able to spend time with his beloved wife? Is being the errand boy to a bunch of fighters that don't want you there really worth it, especially considering our obtaining of this assignment is all thanks to the IO and whatever fucked shit they're always up to?
>>4456663>You will have three days of leave to go wherever you wish in Strossvald. Where do you want to go, in what order, and what do you want to do in general? You will only be able to spend at minimum a day in locations, not hours- transportation is not so on demand you can make a stop for an hour.Two days in the Blumlands. Last day at home.Tanq, are the Lances equipped uniformly by the Arch Duke? Or do they still have the whole territorial lords quirk of somewhat mismatched equipment. Are the Lances made up of territorial troop contributions? If they are maybe we could get an audience with Maddy's dad and asked to be moved into it.
I'll give this a bit longer, but I'll address a few things now->>4456742>I assume most of the guys live around Strosstadt as well? Maybe host a coming-home party/gathering for our platoon to celebrate as well as to toast those who didn't make it.Your less vagrant-inclined crew are from the Capital region, yes. The same can't be said for everybody in the whole group, of course, but that's concerning your direct crew.>>4456756>Also how long has Richter been in service right now? Is it two years yet?Ha ha... quest time dilation is a hell of a thing. He hasn't been in "active service" for even half a year, though active service doesn't necessarily mean combat, just mobilized or at least stationed.>>4456853>Also tanq I know we were discussing another Luftpanzer-ish side story after this a bunch of threads back, is that still on? Will it be before we ship out for Ellowie again or after?It would be after- I'm not so relentlessly cruel that I'd shove an entire other story on you before you got to see your fiancee again for a proper amount of time.>>4457019While a small ceremony can be arranged rather quickly to get things over with, Von Blum is a high house and has the prestige of one. Lord Von Blum might not be fond of his third daughter, but to not have a suitably grand event for her wedding would absolutely be seen as a deliberate affront by the entirety of Strossvald's court, either towards Maddalyn, or what would be speculated as an absolutely intolerable insult towards Von Tracht for an attempt to "hide" what would be seen as a binding of houses. TL;DR Your midget is far too political to treat like you're marrying, say, some untitled lower class wench.>>4457405>These also seem like it will be Old School consummation rituals, especially since everyone involved is Nobility, she comes from a Territorial Lord, that's gotta have implications and expectations. But I could be wrong, but want to make sure. Maybe asking her?Richter doesn't know anything of that specifically, so he could ask her, but he would generally know that much of the (from a modern viewpoint) stranger old traditions were stamped out when the Reich took over and performed its cultural obliteration (along with the obliteration of other traditions such as, say, serfdom- but of course that's more attributed to the first Archduke in Strossvald than the Reich). Also just to reiterate, whilst it was decided in the past to accept this Silver Lances deal, the "other" option is always implied even if it isn't there. If you decide such, you're perfectly free to shove that offer back in the IO's face. Or to just ignore the call for mobilization when it comes out, in case you change your minds before then but after now.
>>4457988>Tanq, are the Lances equipped uniformly by the Arch Duke? Or do they still have the whole territorial lords quirk of somewhat mismatched equipment. Are the Lances made up of territorial troop contributions?The Silver Lances are considered part of the Archduke's troops (which is to say, the Capital territory's forces), and do have uniform equipment- rather, uniformly high quality. As the elite, they're not only given the best that can be offered, but have free reign to use specially made or modified equipment. Its commanders have authorized such things as modified chassis to create support and combined arms suited vehicles.Part of this is by necessity. As they're frequently deployed alone as national swords-for-hire, they require a high degree of autonomy to properly function, let alone as an elite fighting force. As for the men themselves, they do come from all over, but are in the formation as volunteers. Nobody is forced to stay with them, but given the prestige of it, few leave the Lances unless (rather, until) they have prospects of a hefty promotion elsewhere. It's hardly uncommon for a Lieutenant in the Silver Lances to receive an offer of promotion to a Captain in another formation, for example, since the Silver Lances are treated as a special group within the army rather than necessarily an intrinsic element of it.
>>4458045>....Your midget is far too political to treat like you're marrying, say, some untitled lower class wench.So would it be politically unsavory to just get a priest to marry us and host a grander wedding at a later date like >>4456998 suggested?
>>4458045>Ha ha... quest time dilation is a hell of a thing. >He hasn't been in "active service" for even half a year, though active service doesn't necessarily mean combat, just mobilized or at least stationed.Richter's probably had more combat experience than many officers though right?
>>4458118>So would it be politically unsavory to just get a priest to marry us and host a grander wedding at a later date like suggested?Not necessarily, but it would be seen as...pointless, really. Besides a sort of concession to have some sort of ceremony before an expected untimely death. A quick wedding done with a defeatist attitude isn't abnormal but most shun them. At least, as far as Richter knows, given his family history of fast weddings with bad endings.>>4458147>Richter's probably had more combat experience than many officers though right?Certainly more than many Lieutenants, yes. The war with Valsten was rather brief after all, and not particularly intense. That said, his official combat record is limited to that singular day in Valsten, with "advising" not classified as frontline experience, regardless of the actual circumstances. Not that anybody reasonable couldn't assume what was going on unofficially anyways.
>>4458225Alright, ignore my suggestion then. How about we go shop for a ring instead?
Alrighty, next update should be...late tomorrow because I've been slacking all around. Don't abuse your sleep schedule children, it knocks you off routine.I would have expected you all to go to Maddy first, but the vote seems to be majority to go to your home and call Maddalyn there. Almost as if you're trying to get her away from her family. I see how it is.Just know that Richter's room isn't exactly a place to bring women to.Also everything else brought up will be part of this in time.Getting on this.>>4459958pls
“…What are you doing standing there staring at it?” The Major snapped, “get on with your business.”You bit your lip and stood up. “Gladly.” You’d had the inkling of a thought- just three days? Another- a consideration on whether this was truly something you wanted. Yes, you had always wanted to eventually join with the Silver Lances, but in this way? Would your new comrades even respect you getting in this way? Being able to join them at all was a mark of prestige, but this……It could be an escape, though. Even with anything else that might come about, even if you were seen as the beneficiary of the political string pulling this was. You’d earn that respect, even if you somehow hadn’t earned it yet through everything else you had done. This was your birthright.Yet. What if this was simply another way the IO was trying to control you, again?Other ways out escaped you at the moment anyways, besides natural advancement up whatever paths you could find. As you thought about this, you had unconsciously made your way to your crew, spread over a couple of booths. Anya had put herself next to Stein, who was across from Hans- both your crewmen looked tired and exasperated.“Do you mind if I join,” you said drily as you budged into Anya and smashed her against your crewman.“Hey!” she snapped, “Dick!”You took the appropriate pages off the clipboard and put them between all of you, and tossed a couple over the aisle to Malachi and Jorgen. “I’ve been given three days of leave. Any of you who want to join me over at the Silver Lances are free to- I’m given right to bring my crew, and retinue. I won’t force you to go, but if you’d like to accompany me, you have to put down your location for all three days from now as to where you can be found. If they can’t find you…well, they won’t bring you along.”Malachi and Jorgen threw their pages back about as quickly as you’d given them- all three days marked for…Smaragdsee. They intended to be found, then, at…you remembered that place being a holiday spot for all sorts in need of relaxation, an out-of-place hot springs with a unique sort of algae giving it its name. They couldn’t be blamed for a holiday, could they?Stein and Hans, meanwhile…
“I don’t think I can stand being around this dirtbag any longer,” Stein said, staring across at Hans. “Sorry. I’ll be seeing my family, but apparently, he won’t.”“We’ve been over this,” Hans said, slouched against his seat, “I’m not gonna go and get pestered by your folks about your sister. Leave me outta your shit.”“You are our shit,” Stein shot back while leaning forward, “She tried to run away with you, then we go and find her, and you don’t have her talk with me, you don’t tell her to go home, you just go and fuck her and be on your way.”“Is this really what this has been about?” Hans kept relaxed and leaned back against his seat, “You people never understood the first damn thing about Karla, you know that? I thought I told you that, but you keep seething there and thinking if I do exactly what your family did and fucked up, it’ll go the way you want somehow.”“You didn’t even try,” Stein’s tone grew more heated, “Me, our parents, my brother, we’re her family, she’ll listen to you and you know it but you just treat her like your cock-holster.”Hans’s eyes flashed at that. “Hey, I don’t care if you want to blow up our friendship over this bullshit for no reason, but call your sister a cock holster again and I’ll break your face.”“Spare me!” Stein slammed a hand on the table, “You’ve got such a keen ear for what’s best, don’t you-““Hey.” Anya interrupted sharply, “Both of you shut the fuck up, alright. Did I hear you right, blondie? That you’re not gonna help your commander because of this?”“He wants to be a martyr,” Hans slouched deeper, “Nah, I’ll piss off if he’s got sand in his panties over this so bad.”“How about fuck both of you,” Anya shoved you aside so she could raise herself higher, “And get over yourselves. Are you faggots or something, with this shit? Slimeball, you talk to blondie’s parents, and Blondie, you stop giving him shit. How about that, simple enough?”“Taking Stein’s side I see,” Hans grumbled, “Comin’ up and sitting with him, being all chatty, if you’re soaking your britches for him and the boss, how about you go instead of me? Make everybody happier.”“Fuck yourself,” Anya drew a knife from her belt and faster than you could see slammed it through the center of the table, the blade buried halfway down. Your crew all jumped back- your own reaction was embarrassingly delayed. “If you let Richter go off by himself into this shit and I find out, I’ll castrate the both of you.” She didn’t bother asking you to move as she crawled over you, shoving your head back as she pushed by. “Hey, you can’t just-“ Stein began to protest, but he was rebuked.“Get over yourself or I’ll have your fucking balls. Final warning. I’ve gotta use the can.” Anya trudged down the hall, hunched over and scowling.
“Judge above,” Hans poked at the knife, “Is Fluffy on the rag, boss?”“I don’t know,” you said, “But you shouldn’t let this drive you apart, I know that much.”“Sage advice, how didn’t I think of that,” Hans said sarcastically, “Really, take your retinue with you. She’s so concerned, but she just wants to screw off somewhere else quick as she can,” he pointed at the paper.“…Lerche?” you read, “Where’s that?”“Where she grew up or something, it’s that place in Sosaldt you found her in.” Stein said, having kept back from the knife now. “She’s going to go home and see her Sister before she goes off to who knows where. I hate to agree with this shitheel, but he’s right. If she’s so concerned she ought to take a place herself.”“No.” You said, “I told her she could go. I’m not shackling her to me just because she’s my retinue, and I’m not shackling either of you to me just because you’re my crew. You won’t be using me as leverage over each other because you have a problem with one another. If neither of you want to go, I’ll be provided with crew in your place.” Likely elite crew, but you wouldn’t mention that.“That’s nice, but if you do that, Nowicki’ll be pissed at us,” Stein said with resignation. “I’ll come with you if Hans doesn’t. That good enough?”“Same here.” Hans said back with a snarl. “Don’t let me get in the way with your hard on for that tail.”>Enough. Both of them were dismissed now, no more volunteering to go along. They both clearly needed the rest- and time away from one another.>You couldn’t stand this. Force the issue- they were coming along or you’d have your Retinue do something about it, and they wouldn’t want that.>Fine. Whatever they decided, you’d take who decided to come along. It wasn’t your place to get between them.>Try to resolve this issue yourself…even if you had but a tangential connection to it. (How? If it doesn’t work, you may well make things worse by sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong…)>Other?
>>4462084>Enough. Both of them were dismissed now, no more volunteering to go along. They both clearly needed the rest- and time away from one another.Tell Anya if she complains the way they are right now bringing both of them is just going to be a burden at this rate.
>>4462084>Enough. Both of them were dismissed now, no more volunteering to go along. They both clearly needed the rest- and time away from one another.I love you boys, but your friendship needs mending. If Richter can't have both, then we shall have none at all!
>>4462084>>Enough. Both of them were dismissed now, no more volunteering to go along. They both clearly needed the rest- and time away from one another.Picking one or the other seems like it'll do more damage to all of our relationship in the long run, plus I feel sort of bad for putting them in questionably necessary in danger for so long.
>>4462084>Enough. Both of them were dismissed now, no more volunteering to go along. They both clearly needed the rest- and time away from one another.
>>4462090>>4462104>>4462292>>4462300>>4462334Both of you cool your heads and quit getting so worked up over blonde women.Writing.
>>4462339Could we also tell Stein it's Karla who seems to use Hans as her vagplug, and not the reverse, so he really should take it up with her and not Hans?
“Enough,” you said sharply, “Both of you. I’m deciding that neither of you are volunteering anymore. You’re both dismissed- you clearly both need to rest, and to spend time away from each other.”“Commander..!” Stein protested, and Hans was not long after.“Hey, wait-““If I can’t take both of you, I’m taking neither of you,” you said with finality, crossing your arms, “I refuse to choose favorites in any way. Whatever you have going on, fix it or get over before we start working together again. I’ll have a talk with Anya so that she doesn’t harass you over it either.”“But-“ Stein choked.“I’m not budging on this decision.” You didn’t often exercise your authority over your crew, but this was a necessary case. “I’ll inform the Sergeant of the situation.” You got up and went down the train where Anya had gone. You didn’t like doing this, but…it was what was best for everybody. This dysfunction had been brewing the whole time in Ellowie, and though the two had served fine enough still, if this grew any worse they couldn’t be trusted to focus on working with one another. Asking them to put themselves in further danger wasn’t acceptable with them in this state of mind.Anya came out of the train’s toilet stalls still looking frustrated, to you standing before her, jacket loose on her shoulders. Her frustration turned to dim confusion. “…Alright, how long have you been standing there?”“A few seconds. I’m not a scoundrel.”“I wasn’t thinking that,” Anya scowled. “So what is it, that you chased me over here?”“Please don’t castrate my crewmen.”The dark look on Anya’s face lightened a little. “Okay, I won’t. Why?”“I’m letting them both go,” you said, “They’re not in a good state right now. I’d rather give them time apart and not ask any obligations of them than make them fight under me now.”“Probably a good idea,” Anya’s temper seemed to be gradually fading, which was a great relief. “A crew busy fighting each other’s only good at getting killed by chumps half as hard as they are.”You both began to walk back down the way. “So…Lerche, huh,” you said idly.“Yeah.”“Was that its name?” you asked, “I don’t remember very well, but…”“I dunno, the head might have changed its name, but it’ll always be Lerche to me. Or Shithole. That name fits it better.”What a name to call one’s birthplace, but she wasn’t wrong. “It’s not in Strossvald, I doubt anybody could come and get you there. You don’t want to come with me?”“Having second thoughts about letting me go?” Anya asked warily.“No,” you said, “I just thought it wouldn’t be proper to not ask. And…I don’t know, maybe you’d have found it fun. The Silver Lances are Strossvald’s elite, the Archduchy’s pride.”
“So I’ve got nothing to worry about then,” Anya concluded simply as she turned and leaned back on the wall of the train car’s hall, near a window. “I’ve gotta wander some, y’know? See the world some in between blowing shit up. I was thinkin’ of finding the sea, checking out beaches…never seen the ocean anywhere except on a map, y’know.” She rolled on the wall to edge over and look out the window to the side, “…A’ight, let’s save the sappy shit for later. I’ll be right on back. So long as those two dipshits aren’t still bickering at each other.”Your eyes fell to her middle. “…So it’s not cold anymore?”Anya’s eyes followed your own, and she smirked. “Well, y’know, I can’t have anybody thinking somethin’s wrong, right? Heard some people were saying I was getting fat or some shit, and I’m not goin’ out on that being what people think about.”Smoother, yes. Not fat, but not as cut as it once was. “Still looking good.”Anya’s smile broadened, and she raised a hand to lightly slap you on your healthy cheek twice. “You too, fairy boy, you too.”-----The rest of the train ride was uneventful. In a last ditch effort to try and at least start your gunner and radio operator on a path to mending their friendship rather than tearing it further, you probed a bit at how Karla, Stein’s sister and Hans’s lover…might be somewhat selfish herself in her doings. That Hans probably wasn’t to blame. Even making a single metaphorical step proved too risky, you soon realized. Stein gave you looks like you didn’t know what you were talking about, once, a look like Hans had made when Stein had referred to his sister by a particularly nasty term.There wasn’t any helping it. You stopped while you were ahead- when Stein could easily forget it all by being asked about his fortune cards, and what their draws, sequences and arrangements meant. Supposedly.When you’d reached the airport and gotten on a large, luxuriantly appointed (relatively) four engine passenger plane, you’d finally been allowed newspapers- from home. Newspapers were actually barred from being carried across to other countries, to the tune of an incredibly unpleasant fine even if it was an accident, to the chagrin of people seeking cheap packing materials nationwide. Of course, the Intelligence Office hardly cared about the rules that governed most. Newspapers were allowed to the lot of you, as well as dossiers that updated you on the present situation in and around the continent, what with all of you having gotten so out of touch. The IO must have felt it important to feed you such information in a timely manner, that they didn’t leave all of this up to your own discovery.
The first piece you snatched for yourself was news of the situation in Plisseau- that confederation of quarrelsome city states and counties north of Strossvald. Perhaps more relevantly to you, it had been where fellow officers that had joined you on your adventure to Sosaldt had gone on their own mission from the Intelligence Office- something regarding a secession of territory by referendum.What had precipitated was much more than that, you found out to your fascination…and unease. The Almizean Pact had indeed had their referendum…but no peaceful break was this. Tensions had grown rapidly, and culminated in a skirmish on the outskirts of Almize between patriotic militia and mercenaries hired to make a show of force by a rival city state to Almize- Tirolisch. The intricacies of Plisseau’s internal politics held no significance to you. If you had once known, you had forgotten. The important part was that the skirmish had inspired other raids, other battles- and they had only increased in intensity, the mercenaries unprepared for real fights, and the Almizean patriots encouraged even by their difficult and clumsy victories. No state of war had been declared, but the diplomats were not meeting, so it was only a matter of time, likely a short time. Neither side was ready for war, and not even the Archduchy was prepared. The northern territories had been commanded to mobilize their troops and make ready for a northern conflict.Would this divert the Silver Lances, you wondered to yourself, moreover, was this also a result of Intelligence Office manipulation? It had to be, but you weren’t sure how. Turning of the pages gave you little else. You read, but weren’t focusing. It all turned to informational smears, as you let go of the dossier and tried to look at more general world events.The Vitelian Civil War…ah, who cared about that. You didn’t recall a thing about it, or any of the involved countries, and it was all the way on the other side of the Grossreich. Maybe you’d care if you were a Cathedra adherent, but you’d be hard pressed to find many of those in Sosalia. Small territorial acquisitions by Vynmark and Mittelsosalia. A failure to renegotiate trade agreements between Valsten, Strossvald, and East Valsten. Some gossip headline about the Archduke looking unhealthy at the latest event he had attended, pale and bloated…Maybe you needed to focus on a particular subject.>Try and investigate something in particular?>Other?
>>4462476>ArchdukeThis has the most direct relation to us. Is he not long for this world? Who will be the successor? How can we ingratiate ourselves to them?
>>4462476>Try and investigate something in particular?See if there's anything about diplomacy between Naukland and Emre. Or maybe just the news of the general Reich-Emre spat.Also for Almizean Pact if there was a war between them and Strossvald who would face whom. I think I remember Baou was an Archduchy friend but who would aid the city states of Plisseau against us? Also man, just an observation but looking at the map even if Ellowie succeeds against Netilland they're still going to half the size they were.
>>4462476Whats Naukland been up to. Its strange that the second strongest power on the continent (IIRC) has been quiet, especially with all the recent shifts in the status quo of various countries.>>4462509>Also man, just an observation but looking at the map even if Ellowie succeeds against Netilland they're still going to half the size they were.Hoping that once the Netillians lose Ellowie, or even a significant portion of their field army, the house of cards that the Komissariat has built will collapse on itself. Considering the rumblings we've heard on how they treat their own citizens.
>>4462485Supporting>>4462476Poor Lindiva. They've lost half of their land since the last map update. We literally hardly knew ye.
>>4462476Supporting >>4462509>>4462513OOC we know Emre and Naukland were meeting to discuss an alliance but time to see what's happening now.As for Netilland I believe the Major was saying that the Defence Party would likely collapse if Alpha Two succeeds, also considering the amount of Netillian dissidents Wladyslaw invited to the social.>Archduke>>4462485>>4462517This one we know IIRC from talking to the IO, isn't it his eight-year old grandson? Anyway this topic is better suited to asking Maddy when we get back.
I am here.>>4462509>>4462509>>4462528>>4462663The north, and Almizea.>>4462513>>4462528I have an interest in Nauklanders. Actually I don't but I like leading them on.>>4462485>Is he not long for this world?That is dangerous to speculate on openly in the present climate! He is not known for being particularly unhealthy, though, besides questionable habits.>Who will be the successor?To be answered IC; Richter doesn't know everything that has been revealed OOC. Sort of the point of this was to make sure he knows these beats anyways.>How can we ingratiate ourselves to them?To be frank, you're not high up enough the pole to be even be able to concern yourself with that. Landed nobility with actual wealth and court socialites mingle with the head of state and his cabal- Richter neither has actual wealth nor a presence or direct reputation with the courts. Too busy chasing animals in the woods.Could that change? Maybe, but as one of you said- you have the ideal spouse to shove yourself into high court.>Marrying a peasantImagine.
“This news about the Archduke Siegfried…” you spoke with Krause and Von Metzeler about what you wanted to discover…or perhaps, rediscover. “What do you think of it? His heir went missing, after all.”“…It is worse than that…” Von Metzeler dug through a newspaper and showed you it, “That heir is no longer missing. He has been found…dead…”The made you choke. “Wh-what?” You knew that the crown prince had gone missing, but even after a week of him going missing, you had thought that he could still reappear.“An accident while hunting, they think,” Krause said, “So now the heir to the Archduchy is officially Alden Von Strossvald.” Krause folded up the paper and rolled his eyes, “A six year old boy. I wouldn’t think much of it though. Rondo spoke of this sort of news often with me, the Archduke’s vices drives the gossip train wild. It’s a reason he’s more famous in the courts than in politics.”“…Well, I have forgotten a lot, so if you could enlighten me again?” You asked this despite being relatively sure you didn’t keep up with something as insipid and shallow as you assumed the courts to be.“His habits of hard drugs and loose women, and his weight,” Krause said with a sharp downwards curve at the end of his mouth, “He’s a couple of marks off from being appealingly roguish, I’d say. Any time he seems under the weather the gossip riles itself into a frenzy, and he always comes right on back. It’s nothing.”“…Yet…” Von Metzeler took the paper that Krause had folded up and flipped through it again, “Alden Von Strossvald is so young…will his grandfather live long enough to see him succeed the throne as an adult rather than a child…and it is rather suspect for both of the Archduke’s sons to die under suspect circumstances, is it not…”You kept your mouth shut on that. Your father related to you how he suspected somebody of having pinned the first crown prince’s death on the heir to Von Blum, under extremely suspicious conditions. His advice had been to keep your nose well clear of it. Instead, gossip would be your go to. “Let’s say that the Archduke does pass away too early, if we are to be unfortunate. What then, you think?”
“…It would not be pleasant,” Von Metzeler said, without looking up from the paper, “The Archduke plays an important role in keeping the Territorial Lords working together, and with the Capital state…a child is of course seen as unable to be trusted with such a task…too vulnerable to all kinds of manipulation, not to mention the fear of being more directly controlled by the Capital’s strongmen, or by a particular territory…there would no doubt be much debate over an alternative successor, of which there are a few…but they were not considered until, I would say, very recently…a forum to decide the Archduke in case of an unsuitable option has legal precedent, but has never actually been done…and it requires that ever territory agree…”It wasn’t difficult to see what was being implied. “Long Live Siegfried Von Strossvald, then,” you said lowly. “…I haven’t seen news of Naukland. I’d have thought they would have some statement or action with recent events, would they not?” You remembered little of Naukland. Signy was a Nauklander by blood, and the northerners all spoke Old Nauk, and Strossvald license produced armor designed by the haughty folk who named themselves direct descendants of the empire that once ruled much of the continent. Their modern policy was less familiar.“You’d have been the one to ask once, huh,” Krause said, “No, this isn’t unusual for them. They do get involved in Sosalian affairs every so often. They trade, sell their wares of war, but they prefer to do as they’ve done since the days of Alexander and hide behind their mountains.” The mountain ranges that ringed the land like a natural impenetrable fortress. Even Alexander, first Kaiser of the Grossreich, had failed to breach those mountains or find a way around them before he was struck ill and died. The one potential flank on land had been embraced by a wayward tendril of the great maelstroms, and Naukland’s navy was its pride then as it was now. “I doubt they care at all what is happening,” Krause concluded, “Unless it has to do with Emre or the Reich…or Caelus. I would suppose they would devote much of their focus on Caelus.”“…Hm…but Caelus has been meddling in Sosalia plenty recently…” Von Metzeler pointed out.“And what of this new development of…Almizea, is it? The Almizean Pact?” Admittedly the new name rolled off the tongue better. “What will the Archduchy do about that?”Krause leaned on the wall near the window and sighed haggardly. “Almizea was petitioning to join the Archduchy. This new thing wasn’t to anybody’s plan, I’ll bet, but now the mess is started. We’ll have to do something about it, but how much?”
“…It would be foolish to not exploit the opportunity, from a national perspective…” Von Metzeler said whilst finally folding his paper up and reaching for a dossier to review, “Plisseau’s strength has always been its unity in the face of larger threats…Now that it can be divided against itself, there is so much to gain…”“I would see it turning into another Altoss situation,” Krause said with an edge of concern.He’d be right to have such a tone. The Altossian territories were incredibly fertile and resource rich, but the Archduchy’s contest for the rightful claims of pre-imperial families had been difficult, and their occupation even more so. The petty kingdoms and brigand bands, so disparate that Altoss was considered part of the massive glob that was Sosaldt in that time period, yet they put up a fierce struggle for decades, only having been fully pacified within the latter half of your lifetime. “Maybe now would be the time,” you theorized, “Valsten has been beaten, Netilland is and will be plenty distracted,” If not swept into a storm of chaos, “Sosaldt tangles with Mittelsosalia, and the Imperial Gate stands firm.” The charge of your fiancée’s family and their forces, and even then, a Capital force was also stationed there. “It’d be possible, with much to gain from the sound of it. Even more than the Almizean Pact would have granted from them joining normally, but…”“What’s your opinion on it, then?” Krause asked, “Had enough fighting, perhaps?”>You were supposed to be married last year. You’d personally appreciate there being no wars, at least not anything big enough to call you forth.>This could be the chance to make the Archduchy the undisputed premier of Sosalia, couldn’t it? What an opportunity- what a legend to claim for yourself.>For what sake would it be for? Conquest? Fame? You’d rather pursue something more…noble?>Other?
>>4463631>>OtherEven if we don't want war it looks like it's going to come to us anyway. Also while the external military situation looks good for the Archduchy a succession crisis could change everything...
>>4463631>For what sake would it be for? Conquest? Fame? You’d rather pursue something more…noble?Maybe not glory but more for honor. Richter has dirtied his hands on many occasions but he tries to do right. If he wanted glory he would have become the Kommandant, and if he wanted peace he would turned down the IO waaay back in Valsten to rescue Maddy.To live up to his family name and embody it's virtues.>Other?But that doesn't mean anything right now. We go where the IO points us. Although maybe that could change with the Silver Lances....
>>4463631>You were supposed to be married last year. You’d personally appreciate there being no wars, at least not anything big enough to call you forth.At least for a while to rest, get married, have a honeymoon and all that. Otherwise, >>4463664
>>4463664Supporting this as well
>>4463631>You were supposed to be married last year. You’d personally appreciate there being no wars, at least not anything big enough to call you forth.
>>4463648It coming.>>4463664>>4463671>>4463673>>4463801>>4463997For honor, for blood, and for the IO whether we like it or not.>>4463671>>4463710>>4464252Every day I am away from my freaky cyclops ginger runt I seem to lose more pieces of myself in some parody of entropy.Writing.
Once upon a time you’d have a more enthusiastic response than what came to mind, muddled with the weight of downcast expression. “It’s coming whether we like it or not, but, for what sake would the fighting be for? Conquest? Fame? I don’t know if I’m so interested in chasing those anymore. Though…” you didn’t have to think on what you didn’t particularly desire, but you did for what you wanted. “…It would be alright, if it was for the sake of living up to my family’s virtues.” You were but one person, but hell if that would keep you from filling the shoes set out for you by fate. “Not that what we want and feel means much right now, with us on the Intelligence Office’s leash…”“You think they’ll keep you forever?” Krause asked, “I don’t think they can. Especially not if you make a good impression and friends among the Silver Lances of all people.”“That might be the only way out, I think. Why would they just let me go?”“…If you prove more inconvenient to keep than to let go…” Von Metzeler proposed softly, “What do they hold hostage from you besides your reputation, that you are presently having defended in court regardless..?”“I can think of a few easy things…”“…I disagree,” Von Metzeler said flatly, “How much do we truly know…even the most callous of organizations cannot dispose of people simply because they cannot keep them…not unless we have power that we almost certainly presently lack…”Were you the pessimist amongst all of you now? “If the IO is just going to let us be,” you groused as you settled back in your seat and tucked your chin into yourself, arms tightly crossed high on the chest, “Then I’d appreciate it if they did it soon. I was supposed to be married last year. They could stand to be more respectful of our time.”“Speaking of,” Krause’s tone changed for the brighter, “Rondo, you said you were going to see your new fiancée?”Von Metzeler’s face remained stern. “…I thought it would be for the best. If I am to meet people anew when I return, I would rather it not be with people whom I despised in a past life…I will have to see them again eventually, however, for now, I prefer to step forward rather than look backwards…”“I am returning home, which happens to be near the Von Metzeler household,” Krause said next, “I may be of lower status, but I can keep Rondo’s family off of his back for a while. He’ll certainly need it.”A pang of dread. “…We will be meeting again, yes?”“…We are officially assigned to Von Blum, regardless of current assignment, to return there as soon as we are not being borrowed…” Von Metzeler recited, “We can thank out handlers for our organizational status being rather difficult to define, but I believe it should clear up after this…So yes, we will…”
“Once you come back, that is,” Krause added, “I hope we’re invited to your wedding?”“How could I not?”-----The plane landed in Strossadt- where you would all part ways. Some of your crews, including your gunner and radio operator, lived in the Capital city, but Strosstadt had grown massive since its humble status at the Archduchy’s birth. You lived on the outskirts where forests and plain were not distant, while most lived in the smokey city itself, or one of its three sub-districts arrayed around it, each practically a small city itself. Most farewells were brief. You did expect to see them again in a relatively brief time, after all. The Silver Lances rarely found themselves in an extended, pitched conflict. Only one parting was come to with hesitation.Anya had loaded herself down with a hefty backpack that rattled with the armaments within, a haversack over one shoulder and a large kit bag over the other- it was a comical amount to be on her, but you knew she was carrying all she possessed in the world, besides a small account deposit that her Retinue stipend was paid into. She had withdrawn nearly all of it, its contents in the haversack.“…Are you sure you’ll be alright on your own?” You asked. “Absofriggin’lutely,” Anya said with a confidence that held no deception, to herself or to you, “This’ll all be gone fast anyways, most like. Then I’ll just find a fight to get into. Or pawn something, stick somebody up…”“You’re quite good at secretarial work,” you advised hastily after that last idea Anya had, “You shouldn’t have trouble if you have a letter of recommendation from the Archduchy’s Army, you could live comfortably, easily.”“What fun would that be?” Anya snorted, “I told you, I’ll be just fine.” She paused, and her lip turned down. “…Better keep your promise, you hear? You better not be stuffed under the dirt when I come around again.”Both of you stood silently there, expecting something from one another. You weren’t sure what to say…and she didn’t seem sure either, that mix of defiance and expectation as she tried to look annoyed with your silence. It wasn’t that easy to come up with something on the spot. Coming together had been so quick and simple. Parting…you weren’t going to see each other for a long time. Possibly, not ever again. Despite Anya’s confidence, you knew how perilously mortal she really was.Yet this was what she wanted, and you’d be loathe to deny her such a small thing.>?
>>4464697>Firmly shake her hand. "I look forward to your swift and safe return."My first thought was to hug, but I think a hug would be too awkward. If anyone has any smart ideas for parting words I'm open, otherwise I think it's good to keep it simple with Anya.
>>4464717Maybe add in:>"You're a good friend"just to make sure it's said.
>>4464697>Give her a handshake, right on the hairOtherwise, these >>4464717 >>4464722
>>4464697She's currently weighed down with loot and gear?Give her the biggest smile, and call her Creampuff. I intend to spar like crazy when she gets back.
You fuckers are the worst. Fuck the haters, she deserves a fucking goodbye hug and she's gonna get one!>Hug your cousin/sister/good friend
>>4464697>Hug her>Whisper "If you die on me, I'm writing 'Creampuff' on your gravestone"
this is >>4464778>>4464785I'll support this as well
>>4464697>>4464785>+1 For Hug
>>4464717>>4464732>>4464755>>4465758Shake hand.>>4464770Shake fluff.>>4464778Tempt death.>>4464785>>4464853>>4464863>>4464865>>4465071>>4465285Snuggle it.Writing!
No, nothing great and theatrical was coming to mind, but you bet that Anya would prefer this be simple anyways. Action spoke louder to her in particular anyways. A hand held out- not your right, but your left. In their own ways, both were mutilated, but on your left hand was a thick rough line through the center that persisted still- and it awaited its twin.Anya looked at it, took the glove off her left hand, and clasped it to yours with a tight lipped smile. “I look forward to your swift and safe return.” You said.“Me too,” Anya said, “Not too swift though.”The official line was over with- so you pulled your Retinue into your chest and pushed an arm through her baggage and around her back- and put your other hand around her shoulders. Tousle her hair, your heart told you, Call her Creampuff, get her really motivated to come back to beat you up for it! The gut and the head in unison denied such impulses. You liked seeing Anya happy, and those ideas to piss her off on purpose would sour quickly.It took her a moment, but Anya embraced you too, tightly. Pressed so close you could feel her breath, the Fear fleeing from whence you hadn’t known its presence, so you noticed small, meaningless things. How her fingers dug into you, some sentimental feeling that she’d refuse to admit out loud because she didn’t think it was cool, but that there was no hesitation in expressing like this. A possessiveness you felt as much towards her. Neither of you released the other, until you felt Anya’s grip loosed ever so slightly, and knew it was time to let her go.“See you later,” Anya said as she backed off.“Not too much later,” you said quietly as you watched Anya haul her clanking bags off towards a waiting cab. She’d be catching a train to Holtenberg, then to the Republic. One last stop home…but you also knew that wasn’t really her home, despite what people assumed. Maybe, home was just a place she was always heading for anyways.-----
…How long had it been since you had come here, you wondered. For so long, your life had been the academy, then adventuring, then…now it was coming into view. Your home, the house which you insisted was a manor, though it wasn’t too much larger than any of the other upper-middle class owned two stories around, though it had a respectable amount of land around it, isolating it as a special place. The old ironwork fence that had been around since the first of your name had had this home built. The woods out back that trailed into an untamed forest, where your boyhood escapades had ventured in search of early glory. Far away from the pollution of the capital, not so far as to be out in the sticks. The house itself, the courtyard and gardens…Herr Lange, the butler, had not shirked in his duties, ever a good man, though stern and humorless unlike his spouse, though still quite kind. He’d had a nephew and niece over occasionally to do the harder work, and sometimes you mistakenly remembered those cousins as other servants. The deep golden bricks, dark green roof tiling, old trim over the edges that smoothed them out into imperial-looking pillars. The sigil of Von Tracht, of course, over the door. It was easily the oldest home here, built before any of its accompaniment, but the inspiration it had provided hadn’t stood the test of time, as subtle changes in fashion made it look so very much older.That was the way you liked it, though. It was a relief to see that not so much had changed about it since your last memories of it.“My word,” you heard a middle aged man say after you stepped out of the car (a hackney car the IO called up- a courier being an IO agent wouldn’t be too surprising but he didn’t seem like it) and it drove away, “You must be Geraldt’s boy. I haven’t seen you in years.” He was ordinary looking, with a rumpled suit jacket, heavy eyes and thick glasses.“…I’m sorry, I don’t remember what your name is…” You didn’t remember the man at all, if you had ever even met.“Oh no, that’s fine,” the man held up a pardoning hand, “My wife and your mother are friends, I haven’t spoken much with your folks, business takes me out of town a lot, you see, but I’ve been over for tea sometimes. I am Raphael Y. Uhrmacher.”“…Good to see you then, Herr Uhrmacher,” you said with a nod, “I’m just on my way home after…” Goodness, had it been years? You weren’t even sure how many. You might have left here when you were but seventeen…“I won’t keep you, then,” the man said, walking on by, “Say hello to your parents for me, won’t you?”“Yes, sir.” You blinked at how stiff you were being. To be fair…you didn’t well remember the neighborhood itself so much as the woods. You didn’t remember much of other children growing up here either. How many other people were strangers, but knew of you more than you of them?
In one hand you carried your briefcase, with the essentials in it, and what you had gotten new and called your own in your last outing. Signy’s pistol, for example. Under your other arm you carried the less savory spoils. The cloak and rifle of the man who had stolen the fingers of the arm that carried his effects, he who had placed the half-mask you wore upon your face. You didn’t know who you dreaded seeing again more- your mother, who would surely be distraught at this despite you mentioning that you were injured, or Hilda…who you would have to greet with the knowledge that her brother, no matter what sort of person he was, was gone from the world, and her that much more alone for it.You pushed your way through the iron gate, walked slowly through the garden…the clumpy flowers of frost blooms seeming somehow discomforted by a lack of snow (sooty as it might be). At the door, you pulled on a doorbell ringer. Most had electric buzzers now, but that old bell had been around since your birth, and you’d heard, before your father, too. It chimed with a gentle clinking that called forth the feeling of memories lost, from a sound that could be heard nowhere else.Immediately the door flew open and you were assaulted by a blubbering mess bedecked in a grey and white dress with a knit sweater over top.“Oh, sweetie!” your mother said into your shoulder as she held you so tightly you thought she’d break your back, “My poor, sweet darling, you’re finally home!”“…H-hello, mother,” you stammered out, caught off guard. All you could see of her as you looked down was her brown, scruffy hair. The woman had hardly aged for the most part since she had birthed you, as far as you knew, and her appearance must have been envied even by women half her age. How much might you have aged her by going out on such assignments as you had and being wounded atop that?“Please, hold your poor mother back,” Eda Von Tracht wept, “It’s been so long, Richter, so long…”A careful embrace with one arm after you put your case down. “Mother, I-““Why do you have a mask on?” Your mother looked up suddenly, wide brown eyes, “What terrible beast would wound my darling’s face? Aaaahh!” She wailed and buried her head in your shoulder again, “My son…what would I have done if that beast had taken my only son? My only child?”Over your mother, you saw…the familiar figure of Hilda, creeping around to see…only for her face to sink with dread and despair at your mother’s words, and she slipped away as quickly as she had appeared, without so much as a word.“Aaaahh, what wretched fiends, why did we ever let you go…Those ungrateful wretches in the army don’t appreciate you a smidge, even, and look what has happened to you!” Your mother buried herself further into you, hands gripping at your jacket and tugging it. You…remembered a similar sobbing wreck as you had left, too.
“Mother…” you tried to interject again as she put a hand up and stroked your hair. You tried to keep tears from forming in your own eyes- there wasn’t room for two weeping wrecks here. You had to be strong, for mother.“I know, I know,” Eda Von Tracht sniffed, wiping her eyes with her other hand, “You did send word that you were wounded, but…I thought myself prepared, but…aahh…” “Mother,” you finally firmed up, “I’m alright…I’m alive, and I’m home. I couldn’t ask for better than that.”Your mother steadily stopped sobbing, before she pulled you inside, not letting you pick up your suitcase again. “I’m sorry, the telegram that you were coming back only came around a little while ago, so there won’t be roast tonight, but Mrs. Lange made tea, just the way you like it. Your father shan’t be home for an hour or so, I’m afraid, he’s out at work…”You went from the foyer into the living room, and you glanced around to see what had changed…a few things. Some new dishware and silver, a new tea tray, the same tables and chairs. A large, display piece radio set with speakers, made of red stained wood and decorated with brass and silk cloth, that you remembered often playing the news at supper. “Master Von Tracht,” Mrs. Lange saw you and calmly curtsied before setting the tea tray upon the table for you and your mother, “It is lovely to see your return.” Calm and professional, as ever. “I hope that you have not lost your sweet tooth?”“Ah, of course not,” you put the bundle you carried into a chair and excitedly reached for a steaming porcelain teacup. “Where I was, tea was strictly rationed, and not very good most of the time. They were coffee drinkers, you see…”“Very good. Have you clothes that need cleaning?”“Yes, my suitcase is by the door.”“I shall begin with those, then.”As Mrs. Lange stepped out, your mother finally smiled a little, “She’s felt underworked, you know. Your darling friend loves to help, and there just isn’t enough to do. I should know as having been a servant once that one should always keep their hands busy where possible, but she almost seems to dread how often there’s naught to do about the place.”
“…I’ll try to do as much as I can to remedy that in three days,” you tried to joke.“Merely three days?” Your mother gasped, then settled herself. “No, no, I shouldn’t…you’ve not come back for three years, after all. You will be home for longer soon, at least, yes?”“I don’t know, but I’ll do my best to have a healthy leave next I come back.” You sipped at the tea. Perfect. Perfect like you hadn’t had in so long. Why had you been so eager to be out of this place? You couldn’t even remember anymore.“Oh, speaking of your friend…” Your mother didn’t even sit down as she called out, “Hilda? Hilda, dear! Richter has come back!” No response. “Hilda, dear?” Your mother called again, “One moment, sweetie, I’ll be right back…one expecting a child should be encouraged to rest, after all, she may be asleep…Hilda!” She walked about and out of the room, “Can you hear me, dear?”>You’re going to have a day at home, with your parents and Hilda. What do you want to do, or talk to any of them about?>Other things?
>>4466093Update our dad (in private) about our dealings with the IO in detail, see if he has any news for us. I'm a bit paranoid that the house is bugged or being spied on or something sneaky like that, so maybe we can fake a conversation in a room with no windows and write on a notepad again. Is Dad a marksman? Was he the one who taught us to shoot? He might be one of the most effective methods to reteach us, let's see if he can't give a lesson or two. Also ask him about our favorite books and if they're still around here.At some point get with Hilda and tell her what happened with Bertram. Does she know about Poltergeist? If not leave him out of the explanation of how we beat Bertram.On a more light hearted note, we should talk with Mom about our cute fiancee that we not only met, but fell in love with. Maybe get early plans for a wedding done (not too much since Maddy isn't here)?
>>4466134Also with Mom, talk about how we met her in a tank, and our grand quest (do NOT tell her about the IO shenanigans) to rescue her.
>>4466093Talk to Hilda, and don't be afraid to be emotionally open with her. She might be prone to bouts of affection but I'm trying to keep Emma's words to heart. Cutting her off cold turkey like we did so long ago wasn't the best move and despite it all she is still our good friend, one that is going through the struggles of bringing a child into this world and one that has lost the only blood family she has left. We should also tell her what's up with Emma in general and with our significant lack of skill with firearms. Hopefully that's something she can help with.Also, let Mama Von Tracht pamper her boy for a bit too, and try to have a talk with father about the current political goings on and Ritcher's place in it.General dinner time story telling about the more positive parts of our misadventures would also be nice as well as telling everyone Maddalyn will be over soon.
>>4466093Mostly supporting other anons, deliver Bertram's possessions to Hilda, try and be calm and softly speak of how the duel went, but don't omit details from it except for Poltergeist. Maybe if she feels up to it practice shooting.When everyone is together, excitedly tell them about the Silver Lances. And later quietly mention to padre how it may be a chance to escape the IO and how to go about it.>Other things?Maybe warn the housekeeper there are weapons in the suitcase.Deliver Herr Uhrmachers greetings. Juuust to see if what he was saying was the truth.
>>4466093There is a lot that has been suggested here, but I would like to make sure Hilda gets an explanation of why Richter sent her away coupled with an apology for not understanding her feelings when he sent her away. The last thing I want is for Hilda to have the wrong idea about why she was sent away that was only made worse by her time alone to think about it.I don't know when would be a good time to talk further about Hilda's unrequited love and what Richter's marriage to Maddy means, but I do not want to stick that talk right on the tail of admitting we killed Hilda's brother. If the marriage is happening soon it would probably be good to talk about it soon but I don't want to drop too many bombs on the poor girl.Bertram didn't really die though, he was disappeared into the shadow realm or something. Unless that kills you in which case he is totally dead, maybe.
>>4466376>I would like to make sure Hilda gets an explanation of why Richter sent her away coupled with an apology for not understanding her feelings when he sent her awayBut we did understand her feelings when we sent her away. In fact, we've known for quite some time. Also, we explained to her why we sent her away immediately before doing so. I'm not sure what she might have the wrong idea about.
>>4466526When Hilda was sent away she had one request, a kiss from someone she loved. One kiss and nothing more. She didn't even get a peck on the cheek. That sat a little wrong with me and I just want to make sure it didn't send Hilda any further down some rabbit hole from all the time alone she had to think about it.
>>4467110It's always been "just this one thing" with Hilda. Cmon, just this one very physical anti-tank rifle lesson. Cmon, just this one last (very long) hug after skeet shooting, I promise I won't ask for anything else. Then it was a kiss, which she has no right to ask for, since she knows we're engaged. Kissing her would be cheating on our fiancee, and accomplish nothing for Hilda but temporary happiness followed with more suffering down the line since we would have led her on even more. Giving in to Hilda is a large part of what got her in such a shitty situation in the first place. We did the right thing by refusing her. This doesn't mean we have to be mean or cold to her, but we should not be feeding her feelings (love? infatuation? lust?) for us any longer.
>>4467217That fucking anti-tank rifle lesson. Those fucking "I want to see where this is going" votes.
>>4467217Agree with this.
>>4466134>>4466142>>4466162>>4466187>>4466211>>4466376It only took sixty five threads to see your mother- spend some time with her.Then show your ugly face to another ugly face.Then talk to pappy.Writing!>>4466134>Is Dad a marksman? Was he the one who taught us to shoot?Geraldt Von Tracht is a lawyer. He practices law. Richter was self taught.>Does Hilda know about Poltergeist?She knows about soulbinders, since even before you met. Not necessarily Poltergeist himself.
Should you have told Mrs. Lange that your suitcase had weapons in it? Well, thinking back, she probably expected it. It wasn’t like you carried them loaded. “Ah well,” your mother came back to the room, “If she isn’t feeling well, it’s best not to call her down. Things that you’ll find out when you become a father, dear.”“Hmm.” That was practically a demand that you tell her about Maddalyn, but before that… “I met somebody on the street just before coming here, a Herr Uhrmacher. He said to say hello.” It might have been a little paranoid to assume that a random neighborhood man would be, say, an IO agent, but those people made little effort to not instill paranoia. Best to be safe.“Oh, him? He and his wife have lived here five years now, Mrs. Uhrmacher and I have tea together some days.” Your mother said with no concern whatsoever, “You never got to know either of them before you went off, but there’s probably people here who have lived here your whole life that you’ve never gone out and met.” Your mother said that a little sorely. “Your father said he met your fiancée. Won’t you tell me about her?”“I was just going to,” you perked up. Something far away from the Intelligence Office or your lack of social life in the past. “Well, she’s just, er…” you dug the photograph from your pocket, and did your best to smooth out an errant fold that had appeared. “Words don’t really do her justice, you know.”Your mother took her picture as she walked by you and frowned. “She’s rather serious looking. Is she ill-tempered? Your father said she was shy and cordial, but there is always the risk with arranged marriages…though we weren’t certain you would find a wife otherwise, you know…”“She hardly looks like that,” you said, “Most of the time, she’s absolutely adorable. I met her when I went over the to Blumlands, right away. She was in a tank, even. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.”“Why was she in a tank?"
“It’s…a long story.” The one whose details couldn’t be shared so readily. “She’s good natured, always wants to help, but she is shy and reclusive…though that just means I have all the more reason to show her the world. That and…well. I did do something ill-advised when she was kidnapped, so we’ve been through a lot, even though it’s only been a few months.” You put your hands together, trying to keep your right behind the left, “So, I feel that I’m happy with my lot, enough to wish we’d tie the knot sooner rather than later. Later as it always seems to be, now.”“Oh, dear,” Mom patted her hand on your head before she went to sit again, “The party and the ring on the finger is just ceremony. What matters is your feelings for one another, and you have those firmly enough.”Perhaps your mother was biased because of the, er, unusual circumstances of her marriage to your father, to say the least of a story you preferred to not be repeated to you by those seeking to mock you. “I’d still like it to be made official,” you said, “Especially with how much time I’ve had to spend apart from her…”“…Such is the life you’ve chosen,” your mother said with a sad sigh. She hadn’t approved of your decision to enter military service. She thought you were better suited to follow Father’s trade, but that was unacceptable to you. Father had convinced her that it was better for you to follow the path you wanted, but even now, you could tell she wasn’t happy about it. “Tell me more about Maddalyn Von Blum, then.” She tried to smile again, “What’s your favorite thing about her? I do know it must be hard to narrow down, but where would the fun of it be otherwise?”>?
>>4468713Fuck, we've spend so much time away from Maddalyn I hardly remember what she's like.Hmm.>She's earnest. She' often indecisive, but if she does decide on something she goes in with all she has.
>>4468713She's perky, well rounded and feels great.Oh you mean personality, she has this determination we've seen trying to make things right in sacrificing herself, or braving danger to keep her Richter safe. It's very endearing to me at least. Plus she's very cute when she gets mad.
>>4468713She's the feistiest woman we've met, and that's saying something
>>4468790>>4468984Earnest and indecisive,>>4468996>>4469020>>4469094Talk about you wife's ass to your mother>>4469052"Feisty"Writing!
You crossed your arms, leaned back, and thought about that. Indeed, you couldn’t narrow it down to one thing. It felt wrong to try, but more than that, you had to drag everything you knew back forth, through a wall of fog that, while not denying you reach around or through to beyond it, still obstructed the inside of your head some. “She’s earnest,” you led off, “She’s often indecisive, but when it comes to what’s right, or helping others, she has incredible determination. She’ll do everything she can, even if it means possibly sacrificing her own health, or putting herself in great danger, and she’s done this even when she couldn’t be asked to. That reckless abandon, that sort of strength…I’ve put my life on the line for her, and she has done the same for me, so if we’d die for one another…I suppose, what more could we live for but one another?”“Oh, dear, have you been practicing that?” Your mother poked fun at you and you felt your ears pinken, “Do express that to her, if you haven’t already.”You grimaced at that. Had you articulated that to Maddalyn? “She’s also quite feisty, but considering that she’s very cute when she’s angry, that’s only doubly good.”“Well, don’t tell her that,” your mother pouted, “Don’t try to annoy your fiancée! Especially since she’s the daughter of a territorial lord, good heavens…”Too late for that. If Maddalyn took personal affront to your molestations of her you were a dead man walking. “I’m so glad that you’ve taken to one another, though,” Eda Von Tracht closed her eyes in satisfaction, “When your father won that favor from Von Blum, I thought it both a blessing and a curse…that in setting a partner up for you, you would be given an unhappy partnership, it’s such a relief that such wasn’t the case.” Her eyes flashed open, “So! When was the last time we made Sweet Surprise Bread? I know Mrs. Lange and I have missed having a strong young man to do the kneading! It’d be a nice new thing for Hilda too, the new fashion of Capital culture with the sort of rustic airs she’s used to…”Baking wasn’t particularly your preferred hobby, but you rose in readiness regardless. Every moment here would be precious to all of your family.-----
The bread dough was currently rising and relaxing- when it was through, the various sweet fillings would be wrapped up in many bubbles that would be arranged together to form a single loaf able to be torn into its constituent pieces, but for now Mother told you to go and find Hilda. She’d been waiting a long time to see you again, she mused coyly, and you could guess she somehow knew how Hilda felt about you…which would make meeting her again all the more uncomfortable than it already was. She had been staying in your room, you were told. How long had it been since you’d even been in your own room..?You knocked softly on the door, Bertram’s rifle and cloak under an arm again. No response. You opened the door and went in.She hadn’t answered, but Hilda was in there…rather, you assumed it was Hilda, since it couldn’t have been anybody else. Sitting on your bed, facing the far wall, wrapped in the blanket. Completely silent.The door closed behind you and you swallowed as you stepped further in, and put the wrapped up cloak and rifle on the desk next to the bed, the old thing with a lamp upon it, where you’d spend late nights reading far past when you were supposed to. Hilda’s head snapped away when you turned to face her, towards the wall, and she sank further into the blankets, trying to hide her face. Her hair fell into her eyes, and she balled up into herself like she was trying to vanish into the air itself.“…Hello again,” you said slowly, swallowing thickly again. You unwound the cloak from around the rifle, and held it out to Hilda. “…I’m sorry. Your brother and I…we fought our duel. I won, but…I don’t know what to say. I wish it hadn’t been this way.”Hilda still didn’t look at you, but she reached from within the blanket to take Bertram’s cloak and held it before her. She sank even deeper as she stared at it, and you couldn’t think of a single thing to tell her.“…I…” Her voice cracked, and she spent a moment restoring her voice to its normal, perfectly flat tone, though at its edges she couldn’t help but let her feelings leak through. Her eyes still refused to look up. “…I….I thought this might happen. He was a beastly creature…but he was my brother and my blood. He took care of me in my worst times, and we were there for one another…he tried to take whatever he wanted, and he got what was coming to people who think they can just have whatever they want.” Hilda held the cloak close to her, “Just like I did. I’m like him, like that. I thought that just because I wanted something, I deserved it.”“Hilda-“
You were cut off, as Hilda raised her voice to talk over what you tried to say, before returning to her quiet from before. “I deserved it. I thought I would stay here, because my brother might try and harm your parents, your family, he told me what he planned to do, that he was going to have his revenge somehow. I thought I was doing the right thing, but, I thought about it, and…I was just being a coward, wasn’t I. I couldn’t choose between my family and my…and you. Now I have no family. And I never had you. I have nothing, except the child whose father I killed. My brother is dead, and you’ve been…you’ve been mutilated. The people who’ve taken care of me the best they could, who treated me well because they thought I was your friend. What sort of friend does what I’ve done to you. Everything that’s happened to you was my fault.”All monotone, like she was reading off a letter, but in what you could see of her face, there was pure misery. “Your beautiful fa….your face, all messed up. I bet he was trying to make you…make you look like me. Your hand,” She snatched forward and cradled your right hand in her own hands, before snapping back and huddling into herself again, her palms now on her head like she’d done something inexcusable. “They don’t know, they couldn’t know,” Hilda’s timbre grew shakier, thinner. “How can I show myself to your mother and father. How can I show myself to…to you. How can you be a warrior without a trigger finger…”“I’ve lost all my ability to fight anyways,” you brushed that off, “I have to relearn it all. And…well, I need a teacher…” it was a small attempt to reassure Hilda among this torrent of self-loathing she’d unleashed, but it didn’t work.“I can’t.” Hilda said flatly, not even questioning how you'd lost your skills. “I can’t. I can’t be near you. I’ve only hurt you. Even now, I…I want what I shouldn’t, and if you depend on me, I’ll betray your trust again. I’ll find some way to hurt everybody I love, because I want too much, because I’m too much of a greedy animal to only want what I deserve. Even the smallest thing, the littlest thing just by itself and nothing more…I don’t deserve it. It’s wrong to want even something so tiny. ” She now looked fit to be but a heap of cloth with black hair spilling out of it. “I’m sorry..!” Hilda sobbed harshly, “I’m so, so sorry…leave me alone. Leave me alone like I should have always stayed alone. I don’t deserve to see you ever again as long as I live.”>?
>>4469711>?Give her a hug. >"Enough of this talk of deserve and don't deserve. Without you I would've been dead a hundred times over. A soldier must have some battlescars, that's a given! Anya says it increases my lustre."
>>4469711Holy fuck she needs therapy.(This is not a vote. I don't know what to do in this situation)
>>4469711>?Richter looks at her scars and only sees Hilda, not the damage or the pain. Ask her if she can't do the same here with Richter. As much as she thinks she caused these wounds, she really didn't, just like Richter really didn't cause hers.It would hurt as much as losing his fingers if they never saw each other again. She just said it herself, no one can recover by themselves. Think how miserable both she and her kid growing up alone would be.
>>4469711"The fact that you are ashamed to the point of undue self-hatred shows that you're nothing like your brother. You might despise what you are, but for every one thing you can think to hate yourself for, I can think of another service, another moment, another part of you that makes you amazing, that makes you one of my greatest friends. You'll never have me the way you crave, and maybe you'll never find the strength to let me go, but for everything you've done for me and for everything you can still do, I need you to reject that despair in your heart for a little longer. I need you to see the good you can still do and try to be as good as I know you can be. If not for your own sake, for my own sake and the sake of the child in you, you must try. I'm quite selfish too you know and seeing you wallow in your own despair and the thought of you alone in your own self-exile, there is almost nothing I can think of that's worst than that."
>>4469711>>4469864Also, add a bit about letting us help her. That it doesn't matter what she thinks she deserves or not. If she doesn't think she deserves it then she should work to become the type of person she thinks does rather than reject the help outright. And if you don't think you're capable of being that person, know that it's that struggle to be better that makes one worth helping. Not that they get it all right away, but that they're always determined to try even when they fail or slip up. Being better takes time, Richter knows that on a personal level now. And for the person we know Hilda is underneath all the self-loathing and childhood trauma Richter is willing to do what he can to help bring that girl to the surface as much as possible.
>>4469864>>4470019I like the way this is put. If I had to add anything it would be to bring up how sending Hilda away was supposed to help her, and not kissing her was supposed to help her give Richter up. It wasn't a punishment for her. Richter has tried to help Hilda in the past, but right now he cannot help if she doesn't accept both the help and the fact she deserves to still be happy. Believe in the me that believes in you Hilda!
>>4469725Squeeze Elbows.>>4469726help.jpg>>4469741>>4469786We're more than the scars, are we not?>>4469864 + >>4470019>>4470068I hate to see you like this, and I won't stand to let you stay this way.Wriitng.
Without another word, you sat next to Hilda, pushed the blanker off her head, pushed your arm beside her body and put your other hand to the back of her head. She recoiled, resisted, but you pulled her close and held her.“Don’t-““Stop that,” you said , your voice drooping into a low and morose pitch, “I can’t let you do this. You can’t have me, but I’m too selfish, too vain to allow you the alternative you chose, to exile yourself from everybody like this. I refuse…to let you go as you are now.”“I...I’ll hurt you again,” Hilda choked.“I’d sooner be hurt than dead, and that’s what I’d be if it wasn’t for you, several times,” you said back.“You wouldn’t have those scars if it weren’t for me.”“No,” you said firmly, “else it’s the same for me and your own scars, but…are scars all we are? The sum of us isn’t just our wounds, is it?” You were asking this of yourself, as well. “Losing you would be worse than losing all of my fingers. We’ll get better. We can help each other, to be better, in spite of what’s happened…”“Not me.” Hilda insisted into your shoulder, “I can’t. I told you, this greed…it’s my blood.”“No it isn’t.”Hilda suddenly shoved you onto your back with a burst of ferocious strength and pinned you to the bed by your arms, straddling you and pressing you into the bed with her body as she leaned close to your face, eyes wide and…panicked. “You’re wrong,” she whispered hoarsely, “You have to let me go…please…look at this beast I am, I’ll take what I want eventually…this is what I am…”Hilda’s weight was all on you, and even though she probably wasn’t as strong as you, she had you well and pinned. Yet the look in her eyes, the sadness in the tilt of her lip…she could probably force herself on you if she wanted, but…>You trusted her.>You didn’t trust her.
>>4470987>You trusted her.
>>4470987>"No you're not">You trusted her.
>>4470987You trusted her
>>4470987>>You trusted her.
You looked up at her, sadly. “No, it isn’t.”Hilda froze, her eyes widened further, she breathed like she had run for a full day…and she threw herself off you. She scrambled to the other side of the bed and sat up, facing away, head in her hands as you pushed yourself up and went back to her, putting one arm around her middle and the other around her shoulders again.“Stop…s-stop…” Hilda gasped feebly.“You aren’t your brother,” you said as you held her tight, “You’re nothing like him. You might hate a hundred things about yourself, but I can think of something for every one of those things that makes you…good. That makes you worth it all and more. I don’t want to hear anything more of this deserving it, or not deserving it…”“I don’t even deserve a small thing though,” Hilda wrenched her hair in her hands.“Hilda,” you tried to call through her misery, “I didn’t refuse to give you that to deny you anything. I didn’t want to hurt you, or anybody….I want you to kiss somebody you won’t regret.”“It won’t happen.” Hilda said flatly.“Yes it will.” You insisted, “If you don’t think the person you are right now can be happy, become the person who you think can be. Let me help you become that person. It’s okay to need help…like I need your help to become the person I want to be…No matter how long it takes.”Hilda said nothing, sniffed…then gently pushed your arms away. “…Alright,” she said in a much thinner timbre than before, “I’ll…I have to think about what you said. I’ll be…I’ll be alright. I need to be alone.” She turned to face you again, though her eyes struggled to meet yours, “I promise I won’t leave. I just need time. I’ll…I’ll be here for you. For you and everyone you love.”“Thank you.” You stood up, breathing a deep, relieved sigh, “Take all the time you need but…please don’t keep my mother too long. She worries about you, I know.”“Mm. I won’t.” You leaned down to hug Hilda once more, but she put a hand up to stop you. “I…I’ll be okay.” She said softly, “I…I believe in you.”A slow nod from you. “Thank you.” Back out the door you went- you might have been leaving Hilda to herself…but you could be confident you weren’t leaving her alone.
Thank you based anons.
Father came back as the Sweets Surprise Bread was baking in the oven- and he commented as such when he came through the door.“If my blossom is baking what I think that is,” he called from the front door, “That must mean my boy is back!” You found yourself in the dining room before you even realized you were going and you and your father embraced one another in a strong, tight hug. “It’s so good to see you again, Richter,” Geraldt Von Tracht patted you on the back, and let you go. “…Grievous injuries, but you are here again, and plenty alive. More than many of our ancestors could have said even after only this long.”“At least now,” your mother added, “He should be away from any danger for some time, yes?”“Even so,” your father said as he surveyed you once more, “No man has ever been shamed for an honorable discharge from service after injury. If you are tired, Richter…do not be afraid to go into the reserves, if you must continue to be in the army.”“Actually,” you felt excitement building, “I’ve been…I’ve been recommended to join the Silver Lancers, father, because of my exploits. The Silver Lancers, mother, father, a Von Tracht hasn’t been in the Silver Lancers for two generations!”For all you swelled with pride, your father had a flash of suspicion- and your mother’s face, now distraught.“You mean…you will be returning straight to fighting?” she asked, turning pale.“Eda, darling,” your father went to your mother, seated his hands on her hips, and kissed the top of her brunette, barely noticeably gray-speckled head softly, “Have confidence in your son. The Silver Lances are the elite of the Archduchy, they are a group of experienced survivors. There are few safer to be with in a fight, even though they fight frequently.” He looked at you, “…Do we need to speak about this further, Richter?”The implication was understood easily. “I don’t know if here is the best place to speak of it…”“Your home is safe as can be, Richter,” your father stroked your mother’s head from front to back, “Your dear mother knows well to keep strangers away, and even the Intelligence Office is not so brazen as to openly violate the rights of even petty nobility.”“Is our son-“ Eda began to ask, quavering, before she was spoken over.“Richter is plenty safe, dear,” your father reassured her softly, “As much as any of us are. Though that depends on us not knowing every detail, so…”“…I understand. I do not like it at all, but I understand,” your mother backed away, “Richter would like to have Hunter’s Roast tomorrow, so won’t you two go into town to buy a few things?”“Of course,” Geraldt said, “Shall we bring Hilda with us, you think?”“I spoke with her,” you said hurriedly, “She needs, er, time to rest.”
“Of course, of course,” your father must have assumed something health related related to pregnancy. Hilda’s belly wasn’t swollen yet, but it was…three months now, about? Soon it would be four, and then the bump you’d felt against you wouldn’t be so small for long. “She should have more hope for herself. If we find a man with more experience and wisdom, no amount of homeliness will distract from a provenly healthy womb, so long as she is open to the idea of more children.” Your mother shifted uncomfortably, and your father quickly touched her again, “There there, darling, don’t you see your son there?”“I see him standing by himself,” your mother said with downcast eyes. “He will give you more grandchildren than you could ever want,” Geraldt let mother go again, “Come, Richter. Up to my study.” Both of you went up to the second floor, he spoke as the old house’s steps creaked underfoot. “Your trial proceedings have halted in your absence, of course,” your father said dully, “But the court continued discussion, and the courts have had such spread through them as well. Knowledge of your escapade in Sosaldt has spread, Richter, and the decision to try you for abandonment of duty and treason is extremely unpopular. I daresay there will be little choice but to toss the whole thing out, should the trial resume.”“Really?” you asked with rising hope, “I…thank you, father, I don’t know what I would have done without you.”“Don’t assume it’s over,” your father warned as you headed into the study, texts of all sorts stacked in shelfs up to the walls, a thick curtain over the one window, a flicked switch now lighting up the place with a bright orange lamp. “Were I them, I would shift tactics. The IO does not like to lose, and I expect them to change from trying to force an early settlement, to delaying the resumption of the court martial as much as they can, until they can find something to slip you up.”“I’ll be careful, then,” you said as closed the door and you sat in the close chair, and your father sat in a chair on the other side of the room, near the reading desk.“Please do,” Geraldt sighed, “You know how your mother is. She makes herself ill with stress with sufficient provocation. When we were trying to have a child, one which would eventually be you, I feared she might die of the strain upon her psyche. Keeping her ignorant is unpleasant, but I fear her nerves could not handle the burden of everything when combined with her fear for your life and health. Her life has had far too much misfortune…”“Yes, father.” You’d heard this plenty before, but you knew it was being repeated for good reason.“Now then,” your father crossed one leg over the other, and set his hands in his lap, “What did you want to discuss?”>?
>>4471103>?Discuss the death of the Archduke's other son; one was already suspicious but now both of them dead? If both are indeed the IOs doing what would be the purpose?Also just inform him we'll be using the Lances opportunity to build up our trustworthiness in terms of people who can vouch for our character.
>>4471103>?Bring up the Lances as a possible out from the IO and how that might be conducted. Although make sure to mention that the original idea came from them as well.If the trial is considered unpopular, would joining the Lances increase our chances of it getting thrown out?Ask him if he's found anything new about them, and things to watch out for.Part of me wants to mention the mind control, the skill indoctrination and the current 'grooming' plan they've had since the Academy but I'm not sure how to explain it without putting Richter's dad into conniptions.
>>4471103Discuss Archduke politics and the role the IO has to play in them, maybe also talk about our brain washing and shit if we haven't already, or how were beating back the Fear if we have.
>>4471166I support telling him about the brainwashing. It's seemingly not even much of a well kept secret, so we may as well.
>>4471103Supporting everything else here, also ask him about our favorite books and if they're still around here.Should we tell him about Loch? I'm don't think he's IO, but there's a chance it's relevant information.
>>4471295Loch is definitely Reich not IO. Hell he's probably the Kaiser himself based on some of the hints we've gotten so far.Speaking of which tanq where's that seal that he gave us? Is Hilda still holding on to it?
This took too long to get to but I'm here now.>>4471118The line of succession, and the Silver Lances>>4471166Would the trial help me? Is there anything new?>>4471230>>4471234So turns out I might have been a little screwy in the head...>>4471295I need my top reading list.Writing.>>4471331>Speaking of which tanq where's that seal that he gave us? Is Hilda still holding on to it?I could be wrong, but when I checked back I saw nothing of entrusting the seal to her. Unless I managed to miss where I had that done, the seal would still be hidden exactly where it was buried back in Strossvald.
>>4472267Ah alright, where exactly did we bury it again?
>>4472273In the process of looking back, it is hidden- in Strosstadt, but you didn't hide it, Hilda was asked to hide it. So sort of a mix as it turns out.You'd have to ask her.
>>4472323Should do that as well then, make sure it's still safely hidden away.
“There’s a few things,” you said, “I recently heard that the Crown Prince was found…dead.”“Indeed,” Father said gravely, “It does not bode well for the Archduchy.”“Do you think the Intelligence Office was involved, like with the first Crown Prince and the heir to Von Blum? Why would they do such a thing?”Your father took a peek out the window from behind the curtain- it seemed habitual, rather than out of any concern for a present observer. “It is impossible to say for certain. It very well could have been an accident, as has been concluded early on, rather than foul play. Not that there is a lack of motive. How well acquainted are you with the Archduchy’s politics, Richter? That of the relation between the Capital and the Territories and high courts, not just their legal distinctions.” You gave your father a blank stare that told all. “Your study is as selective as ever, is it. No trouble, I can explain it in brief. You see, the role of the Archduke is to bind all the Territories together, of course, but inheritance of the office is direct, among family lines. Such is the rules of the office since its formation. There are contingencies for what to do should the line of inheritance stop, or if the heir is unready or unsuited for the office, but they have never needed to be practiced. In summary, if the heir rising to the office is deemed incapable, perhaps, because of age of assumption, the Territorial Lords are permitted to hold a vote of whether they have confidence in said assumption of office. If they do not, then they elect a capable relative of the Archduke’s branch lines.”“Until the heir becomes old enough to assume the office?” you asked.“No. Not unless another convocation of the Lords is called. You can see why many would be concerned about recent events, I should hope.”“I suppose it does,” you mumbled, still feeling somewhat out of your depth, but the controversy was easy enough to understand. The highest throne in the land, in uncertain hands. “But why would the IO try and engineer that?”“That’s impossible to know for sure. I don’t know nearly enough about the IO to say,” your father allowed the slightest tint of annoyance in his tone, “However, they were formed by the Archduchy’s capital, and serve the Archduke Strossvald, at least, such is their explicit mission. Unless there has been an incredible change in its leadership, that they would do such a thing to aid ambitious Territorial Lords is doubtful at best. My best guess would therefore be an attempt by Capital Territory power players to provoke disunity between the Territorial Lords with this conflict over inheritance, and centralize power further in the Capital thereby…somehow. I’m hardly in a place to investigate. That is just my best guess for now, and it is admittedly not a solid theory.”
“Thank you anyways,” you said, “As for my own connection to the IO, this opportunity with the Silver Lances was actually given to me by the Intelligence Office. I took the offer.”Father cocked an eyebrow. “And what were the conditions?”“They gave none.” You knew that seemed suspect, but it wasn’t something they could use against you, you thought. “I suppose I’ve been good, or something. I intend to make connections with the Silver Lances, though, and maybe get people on my side who can protect me from the IO’s more malicious acts. Do you think me joining with them would help public opinion of my case at all?”“It would,” Geraldt Von Tracht was more perplexed by that news than pleased, “Though given your situation, the IO extending such to you is very unusual. It suggests that they intend to give up your prosecution, else why would they worsen opinion against them by combining your existing prestige with your status of having volunteered with the Silver Lances…” he closed his eyes and scratched his chin with one finger, “Unless, perhaps…I would advise you be careful during your service with them, Richter. Be obedient and complacent, avoid trouble. Trouble that could counteract your new position might be the one direction this could be a blow against you.”“I’ll do my best,” you said, “What other of the Intelligence Office? What new have you found out about them? Something on that microfilm that-““My son,” Geraldt stared into your eyes, “You cannot know everything. I’m trying to keep you out of the depths I have found myself probing, and as frustrating as ignorance might be, not being a potential threat is what keeps you safe. If I have not told you things, I have done so very deliberately.”You didn’t much like hearing that, but he was probably right. Not that you didn’t have plenty to tell your father, you decided. “Something did happen to me while I was away,” you began, “The biggest secret I have to share with you. It concerns…my very being. How it was changed at some point, and how I broke it down, and perhaps broke myself, for the sake of escaping this…control.”The attention of your father was held throughout as you detailed everything you knew about your mental conditioning- when you first heard about it, how you thought it had been myth and poppycock. Then the scratches made against it over time, the Major’s blatant exploitation of it, then finally, its removal from you. The unusual procedure, the drugs, the shattering of your mind, the Fear, your loss of skills and knowledge, all of it…and you had to pause several times, reflecting on how much there was.
“That’s…that’s about it,” you took a deep, long breath. “I don’t know where to start again…but, for example, my shooting. Once, I shot…well, I was a really good shot.” You were underselling yourself for how distant it felt. “I just want to be sure that…I didn’t have good shooting conditioned into me, did I, father?”“Of course not,” your father said immediately and firmly, “You might have been self-taught, but that didn’t make you any less skilled with a rifle. You certainly boasted to me enough of your target groupings, do you not recall? I can show you your targets myself, I still have them.”So that was certain. Then, why would you lose it, if it was a part of you before? “I think…it was supposed to be some sort of hypnosis, right?”“Yes, but,” your father said, “That is a concern in and of itself. The sort of hypnotism you are referring to can only be done on a person receptive to it. They cannot be unwilling.”“…So I wanted this done to me?” you asked with a crack in your voice. “Why?”“Can you not remember? Try and think back to it, or when you think it may have happened.”…No, you did remember it, you were sure, but when you tried to call upon more than a vague feeling, you had…a soft, suggestive feeling. A small, gentle voice that you could understand but not hear- No. Why? It will hurt. It was not a commanding oppression from within, but a distraction, a frail plea to not look beyond to something you knew you had seen before.“…I suppose I did want it,” you said, wary of testing that for now. Later, when you felt you could risk whatever trap might lie in wait. “Whatever I thought it was at that time.”“Do you feel any influence of it whatsoever, anymore?”“None at all,” you said, not counting that small apprehension as control. It had nowhere near the same authority over you. “And the Intelligence Office…knows this influence has left you?”Hesitation. “…They do.”“Then they allowed it to happen,” your father leaned back heavily, “But why? One would assume they would take measures to prevent that from happening, and to do their best to place it upon you again if possible. Yet…”“I can’t say either. I don’t know why they’d let me, since they did have me perform tasks for them still, and the conditioning being removed…It broke me. I am mostly over the worst of it, but I was reduced to an unimaginable state. They must have known this would happen, and it wasn’t just for me, but for my second in command, Rondo Von Metzeler. You don’t think that we were allowed to do it as a result of a miscalculation or mistake?”
“Absolutely not,” your father didn’t consider that idea even for a moment. “Not for something like this.” He rose up and leaned on his writing desk, “This is rather much to process, Richter, however, it may be linked to…something else. Of a brand I cannot tell you of, but I thank you nevertheless.” He straightened again and stretched his back, “We shall call that enough of secretive subjects for now. If what you say is true, even if you feel alright, it is best not to strain your mind overmuch. You are meant to be on leave to relax and rest, after all.”You couldn’t agree more with that, at least, but it helped to put your troubles into the hands of somebody you could be confident in being able to help you with them, potentially. “There’s one more thing relating to that…the rest and relaxation, I mean.”“Oh?”“Like I said, I lost much of my knowledge of the world and what is in it,” you confessed a second time, awkwardly, “You don’t happen to know what my favorite books were, do you?”“You had many, and they populate the shelf in your room,” Geraldt said, “The ones you cherished most, though, are on the third row and on the left. You even outlined the section with red tape, I recall. It’s still there.”“Right, thank you-““But you will be helping your mother with cooking still, yes?” Your father added, “Then we have to go into town for the things for Hunter’s Roast tomorrow.”“Right, right…”-----Despite it being an errand, going out into town with your father and buying things may as well have been a holiday in and of itself. You spoke of normal, ordinary things- the weather, home life, his plainer work, and you tried your hand at speaking of the less violent aspects of your mission in Ellowie.These conversations continued at the dinner table, where you found Hilda still quiet, but much more peppy than she had been when you had found her. Her smile was an uncomfortable, clumsy thing, but you were glad to still see it cross her face, as you talked of things such as getting your hair bleached for a disguise- a good thing you reversed that…you didn’t recall when. It might have been after your roots had grown in and you were looking particularly ridiculous.“When will your fiancée be here?” your mother asked as all of you, including Mr. and Mrs. Lange, were finishing a dinner of rabbit and sausage stew with wheat rolls. “Your father told me of her, and so did dear Hilda…”“Uhh,” you paused, “Tomorrow, I believe. The telegram to everybody was sent all at once, and I told her I would be here, but she might not be in a place to arrive at once…” Even if that was what you’d have preferred.
“Oh, dear, we should have made more stew then, Mrs. Lange…oh, and the garden could be touched up some for the arrival of a High Lord’s daughter, of course!”“Afraid the weather’s not too cooperative with that,” Mr. Lange said gruffly, “The frost blooms are the only thing out that like the air these days. I’d need some money to go get Sunset Cotton Bush.”“That would be far and away too expensive for a small visit,” your father chastised, “She may be of Von Blum, but she was not a vain sort. I would daresay being too extravagant would unnerve her.”“Ah! Ah, well,” your mother’s cheeks flushed, flustered, “It simply feels wrong to do nothing does it not?”After dinner, you spoke with Hilda again- this time, on the subject of the Imperial Seal you had had her hide so long ago. To your relief, she told you, easily, that it was still where she hid it, and that she had checked on it but a few days ago. Where was it?...At the bottom of a pond, apparently. Hilda really shouldn’t have been dunking herself in an ice-cold body of water during winter, but it certainly was in a place it couldn’t be found- and Hilda, being an accomplished swimmer, hadn’t put it out of her reach.Hilda still kept your room (not that she didn’t offer to give it up), so funnily enough, you retired to the guest room when time came for sleep. You were still buoyed with wine from dinner, evening tea warmed your insides, and for the first time in a long time, you were not in some occupied zone, there was no distant or close sound of gunfire in the night, you weren’t in some place just as far off from home as a battlefield- you were in the Archduchy, in the home you had grown up in, in a proper bed with a night quiet and still save for the soft evening breeze.-----
Blissful oblivion was suddenly interrupted by the clawing fingers of a frantic mother.“Richter, get up! You must get ready for your fiancée!”“Mrrghuh?” you snorted blearily as you were forced to sit up, and assaulted with a hairbrush. “Hhuh? What…what time is it?”“Half past nine!” Oh, Judge Above, how long had you slept? “Get dressed, won’t you? I will not have my son show himself before his noble wife-to-be in his sleepwear!”…Tempted as you might be to list off the litany of less dignified things you had done in the presence of and to your wife (spanking the daughter of a high house could lead to a prison sentence for many folk), you just sighed and sorted through the fresh laundry set at the foot of your bed as your mother went back out of the guest room. Apparently, you weren’t being allowed to wear your uniform today- it was absent from the clean laundry stacks.Fine. Green pullover, black trousers, the grey leather jacket from Ellowie that must have looked unmartial compared to the elegance of the normal Strossvald officer’s uniform. To be fair, that uniform couldn’t exactly just be tossed into a machine and spun about with water, but still. As soon as you went out of the room, you were assaulted with the brush again, and sat down for wake-up tea in the apparent minutes before Maddalyn would be coming.You were four-fifths awake when a knock came at the door, and then fully awake by the time you had clambered to the door and opened it.Part of you was dreading a postman or a neighbor, or some other false alarm, but, no.There she was.
Her hair had grown since you had last met, and there was a dark circle under her visible eye, but otherwise, your fiancée had changed little. How awful it must have been, for her to see you change so much…even if she couldn’t see your face, she could surely see the mask, the dressings…Neither of you said a word as you looked at each other. Maddalyn stepped forward and reached a hand up to your face, stroked your cheek, around your chin, your lip, then towards the damaged side of your face- without realizing, you had grabbed her hand, stopped her from touching under the mask. Her face fell, and she let her arm fall away. You put your hands around her waist and lifted her up to you, and pressed your lips against each other’s, but for a few moments, and Maddalyn slid her arms around you. The kiss ceased, and she put her head beside yours. Timeless more moments, embracing, until you slowly let her down again.Part of what broke you from that trance was a sudden voice from the yard.“Establish a perimeter. Be snappy about it.”“Hold,” Maddalyn said back without looking to the source of the voice, “Not yet.”“Yes, m’lady.”…Around back of her was a squad of six guards, in deep blue long coats, Von Blum emblem at their throats, a pistol on one hip and a club at the other for all but one who was more heavily armed with a submachinegun- worn openly. A far heavier complement than Maddalyn had accompany her to even Sosaldt, even if it was recently acquired Mittelsosalian Republic ground she had stepped into. “Richter, I…” Maddalyn swallowed hard, “I…I don’t know what to say, other than that…I’m so happy to see you again, no matter what has happened…even if…even if…” Her eyes shot downwards and she kneaded her fingers against one another, “I…what do you want to do, Richter?”>?Strosstadt is the Capital, and a huge city; there’s probably whatever you can think of finding as far as (period) date spots. Save your dirty ambitions for the evening.Unless you really can’t put it off.
>>4472486>>?Go find some fancy private place for brunch? Basically somewhere where we can't be eavesdropped outside of our house while we catch up.
>>4472486Show her around town. To the forests were Richter spent most of his days, use that for the more private talks.Then go to the places and peoples of town Richter never experienced himself thanks to being in the forest for most of his days. Get mother's recommendation on some nice sweets shops and other fun places, it will be an adventure for everyone.
>>4472486Welp, guess both of them have been through the shit. That's a really nice dress thoI think Richter's mother would actually kill him if we didn't introduce Maddalyn at least before going somewhere.Ideas:Best confectionery in town. I want Willy Wonka levels here.Library/Bookstore for any books she might be like. Unless that whole 'need to be written in blood' thing still applies. canoodling instead Has she been to the Capital before? Anywhere she's curious about?
>>4472486Maddy looks beautiful.>Introduce Maddy to our parents>Take her out to a sort of combined sweetshop-teahouse that I know exist but don't know the name for.>Then a walk in some picturesque nature place>All of this will give our mom the time to prepare a welcome dinner she wishes she could do
>>4472486>>4472512+1, also say out loud that she's beautiful, and at some point articulate what we like about her as we did to our mother in >>4469708Maybe do >>4472496 if there's time
>>4472488Brunch!>>4472496The town and forests, ask Mom for urban places.>>4472501Introduce your fiancee to mother, find a famous confectionary, library and books.>Unless that whole 'need to be written in blood' thing still applies.It doesn't need to be written in blood, per se, but it either needs to be handwritten, or the medium needs to be something that effuses presence.Alternatively, raised text or braille, though that she's blind isn't exactly common knowledge...>Has she been to the Capital before?As far as likelihood due to status goes, probably, but considering her nature, it'd be easy to conclude she didn't exactly wander far from simple obligation. That said, to be asked IC.>>4472512Teahouse, nature, stalling.>>4472596Lavish your spouse with compliments.Writing!
First things first, you had to solve that melancholy look on your fiancée’s face. You stroked her cheek with your left hand…an effort made to avoid using your right. “You look beautiful, dearest.”Maddalyn’s cheeks raised ever so slightly, but she didn’t smile like expected. “I may be tired, Richter, but I’m alright. But you…” she insisted on touching your face again, ”That mask…is it painful? Is…is your eye wounded?”“It’s merely numb,” you said, “And my eye was hurt before, but it will be better soon. I can take off the patch on it tomorrow, and it’ll be as good as new.”“I should have come with you,” Maddalyn said to herself. There was further quiet between you. “…I should not dwell on that,” Maddalyn stepped closer to you again, “ You have two days, two days to spend with me, and I want what time we have to be happy, even though there’s so much to speak of. So much of it would be…” She took hold of your arm, “This is your home..? I would meet your mother, I have met your father, after all.” In spite of the change of subject, it was plain to see she was still morose. There must have been too much on her mind to express- would asking after that be any help at all, though?“Of course,” you took Maddalyn by the hand, “Will the, er, guards be coming with you?”“No,” Maddalyn turned her head, “You and your men may linger around the home, Captain.”“Yes m’lady.” You would have told him to make himself at home, but you got a good feeling that the Von Blum bodyguards didn’t actually care about your opinion. The security of their charge was more important than sentiment.“Your mother is of Von Blutenstein, yes?” Maddalyn asked you before she was led inside.A reflexive twitch. “…What of it?”“I did not mean to offend,” Maddalyn held onto your arm, “I am only…wondering how she will think of me.”Your mother was indeed concerned about your fiancée’s high house status, but Von Blutenstein had been disgraced for plotting against Von Silberquelle, not Von Blum, and your mother had served a branch of Von Stropfe. “She isn’t spiteful at all. She only wishes to please, the best way to make her happy with you is to indulge her.”
Maddalyn nodded, and pushed your arm forward- a prompt to lead her inside. You watched her eye wander in curiosity, and wondered if you should be slow about this. Maddalyn hadn’t been one to flaunt her wealth in your experience, and no part of her looking about had any condescension in it like you knew some higher nobility might have. Perhaps what your mother was concerned about, even if your father was perhaps too lacking in similar worry.“A-ah!” Your mother nearly crumpled into a ball with the bow she attempted once Maddalyn was led before her in the dining room, “Lady Von Blum, it is an honor to-““That is unnecessary, Lady Von Tracht,” Maddalyn said with practiced gravitas, “A lady should not bow to their daughter in law.” Even now, it was surprising how night and day her disposition could be. “Rather…I would like your genuine approval, rather than recognition of my bloodline.”“Well,” Eda Von Tracht stepped forward. You knew that look in her eyes, that desire to embrace, to tousle the hair, to dote upon, but your mother was held at arm’s length by that reverence for high nobility, you were sure. “My dear son has extolled you well enough for me to approve at a moment, my lady.”Maddalyn was certainly used to being referred to without title, and even by nicknames, you knew, but she wasn’t correcting your mother. Perhaps the wiser idea. “…What sort of…extolling?” She asked, uncertain, the droop to her eyes and lips falling further.“Lady Von Blum, why the melancholy?” Your mother frowned, “My dear had naught but good things to say about you.”“Oh. I’m just…tired.” Maddalyn said, flatly.“If you would like to sit, we can move to the lounge,” your mother led off, and as you both followed her, she continued, “He spoke of a woman with determination, my lady, and virtue. He described you as strong, and that is not light praise from him, you know. Selfless, resolute in benevolence…I daresay he might have described you as chivalrous, my lady.”“I…see…” Maddalyn said faintly, and she didn’t notice as you searched her face for some relief, or pleasure, but there was only uncertain, swirling murk. Once you had both been led to a sofa, you sat down with her, and Maddalyn pulled your right hand over her shoulder and tucked herself under your arm.“I shouldn’t bother the two of you, should I?” your mother smiled, “Would either of you like anything?”Much as Maddalyn seemed like she was angling for a nap, you had different plans for both of you. “Actually, I wasn’t thinking of staying here very long,” you said, “Mother, do you know of the confectionaries or pastry bakeries, cafes, around here, or in the city? I’d like to take Maddalyn to one. She’s very fond of sweets, you know.”
“Oh!” Your mother perked right up, “There’s Seidensohn’s, on the Lotus Square, that would be-““Er,” Maddalyn coughed, “I would prefer a more rural sort of taste…”Would she? The name was foreign to you, but it clearly wasn’t to Maddalyn. Nevertheless, you did know of the Lotus Square, and anything there would be exorbitantly expensive, as well as discerning in clientele.“Oh.” A breath of relief? “The market street close by does have a place called the Fensterseite Café, though, perhaps that might be too-““Th-that sounds just right,” Maddalyn quickly interjected, “Thank you, Lady Von Tracht.”“If you are fond of rural tastes, we will be having Hunter’s Roast for dinner here,” Eda Von Tracht clapped her hands together, “It’s Richter’s favorite, you see. Until then, don’t let me keep you…” She began to walk out, but then leaned back out the doorway, “Ah, will you be alright in the guest room with Richter, or will you be retiring to a hotel?”“Mother,” you choked, “Please,” the implication was very slight, but it was there nevertheless.“Alright, alright.” She left you two alone with a shake of her head.You let a sigh out, then leaned in closer to Maddalyn. “You’ve been to the Capital before?”“Only for small visits.” Maddalyn said, “Seidensohn’s is famous throughout the country. I don’t know much of the Capital.”“Are you curious of anything?”“I’m curious of the places related to you,” Maddalyn said as she snuggled into your side, “I don’t much like the factory smoke anyways. Before we go anywhere though…I want to sit here awhile.”“You want to talk about something?”“There is…so much to talk about. Not all of it good. But…I’m too tired for that right now.” Maddalyn settled into you, “Just for a little bit, I want to close my eyes in your company, and forget how cold it could be alone at night…”-----
You’d let Maddalyn nap for ten minutes or so before you poked her back awake again. It wasn’t that you minded sitting with her like that at all, but that you’d have plenty of time for such things later. You were hungry- and so, you bet, was Maddalyn. Plenty of places to go to, and not enough time to sleep through the day.The temptation to hit up the Lotus Square regardless of money concerns was there, but Maddalyn’s opinion didn’t budge as you got into a motor carriage- escorted on both sides by rented cars for the guards. Maddalyn said they wouldn’t crowd too closely, but being trailed by half a dozen guards felt excessive. Yes, Maddalyn had been the victim of an abduction, but this was the Capital of the Archduchy, for goodness’s sakes. Fensterseite itself was lightly populated, quiet, and half-outdoors with a round brick stove smoldering for the comfort of patrons who wanted to be under the sky. Maddalyn’s heavy guard complement turned heads even as they stayed a respectful distance away, and you couldn’t blame them. They weren’t even trying to be subtle, and they looked as though they could freely blow away the local constables or take them apart with their bare hands, with how they were built. The place had a smallish selection, but none seemed unpopular. Perhaps just the result of paring down to just what anybody around wanted. Maddalyn made a show of looking at the menu, but a glance to you told you that she would have to trust your judgment. Tragically, nothing was boozy. You wouldn’t be getting Maddalyn falling-down drunk here like in Sosaldt.What to get, though…for whatever reason, the Apple Tart had a line through it, so that wasn’t an option.>Chocolate-Cream and Strawberry Chocolate Crepes, with Chocolate Shavings and Vanilla Sugar>Coffee-Cream Cheese Tart with Sweetcream Frosting>Kaffeeklatsch with Molasses Sugar and Cinnamon Streusel, paired with Sugar-Brewed Dark Coffee>Brioche Crisp-Waffles with Honey Syrup and ButtercreamAlso->What do you want to talk with Maddalyn about? If it’s something you want to keep private it can be spoken of when you’re elsewhere.
>>4474913>Kaffeeklatsch with Molasses Sugar and Cinnamon Streusel, paired with Sugar-Brewed Dark Coffee>What do you want to talk with Maddalyn about? If it’s something you want to keep private it can be spoken of when you’re elsewhere.Talk about how we're feeling much better and more comfortable since we last saw her (Fear being largely diminished), though we lost much of our knowledge and all our marksmanship. We don't need to go into the details (like the IO's involvement) in public, but be sure to mention it was "not preventable" (ie. her being there wouldn't have stopped it from happening).Ask how she's been doing and if she's been reading anything interesting, hopefully pleasant casual conversation making.Try to work why we love her into the conversation similar to how we explained to our mother (>>4469708).
>>4474913If I recall correctly, Maddalyn preferred fruity things to chocolate and neither her or Richter had a taste for coffee even if the hint of caffeine would do the girl good.>Brioche Crisp-Waffles with Honey Syrup and Buttercream>What do you want to talk with Maddalyn about? If it’s something you want to keep private it can be spoken of when you’re elsewhere.Did, ANY of our fucking letters get to her. Ask her about what she's been up to recently, go into Ritcher's wacky war misadventures, explain the Emma situation and the Poltergeist situation, but finish off with how through it all Ritcher really has gotten better since the last time she saw us, and it was thanks to her that we've made it this far. Also do we have her mother's scarf on us? We should show that we still got it if so, even if it's a bit messy now.
>>4474913>>Brioche Crisp-Waffles with Honey Syrup and ButtercreamLooked back at the archives, seems she's not a coffee person though chocolate is fine.>What do you want to talk with Maddalyn about? If it’s something you want to keep private it can be spoken of when you’re elsewhere.>>4474999>>4475052
>>4475052Switching food choice to this
>>4435222That tank has a hat
>>4474913Supporting asking about the letters and feeling less afraid.And tell her why we said those things about her to Richter's mother. It's not an everyday wife to be who'll jump in and out of a tank.
>>4474913>Brioche Crisp-Waffles with Honey Syrup and Buttercream>See if they serve any tea here>What do you want to talk with Maddalyn about?This >>4475052, but don't talk about Emma, she'll just chew us out for letting an Ember grow. Ask why so many guards instead.
>>4475402Even if we dont talk about Emma specifically, we should ask what comes next in her stage of spiritual evolution. Just so we can better prepare ourselves next time we see Emma and she's a fully corporeal entity or something
>>4475407>Hey, you know that spirit we were keeping around that could evolve into a dangerous monster? What's the next stage in its evolution? Just out of curiosity of course, purely hypothetical.This will definitely go over well.Let's not.
>>4475597It doesn't if it'll go over well or not, keeping this incredibly important thing from our wife would go over worse.
>>4475695That's a good point, nevermind then.
>>4474999>>4475134Feeling better. Unpreventable things. Ask how she's been doing.>>4475052>>4475303Ask about letters, ghosts and wizards.>Also do we have her mother's scarf on us? We should show that we still got it if so, even if it's a bit messy now.It's in your stuff, but not currently on you. You can bring it up anyways and show it later.>>4475314It's not an everyday wife that's so stunted and flat, ideal for fitting in a tank.>>4475402Where's the tea, and why the guards?>>4475407Ask about how ghosts grow up.Writing!
You recalled that Maddalyn preferred lighter, fruitier sorts of sweets- too bad the Apple Tart was out, but the honey syrup waffles sounded like something she would like. From what you remembered, she wasn’t picky about being fed dessert, though maybe that was because of all the booze in it?After you’d asked for the food, you were asked if you wanted tea or coffee- you had to blink at that, having spent so long in a place where tea, if existent, was usually not worth trying. Ah, it was good to be back in Strossvald, even for only a little bit.Yet Maddalyn was still melancholic when you sat her down at a table outside, near the warmth of the outdoor fire. “…Is something the matter?” you asked.“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be spoiling this for you.” Maddalyn said softly, lowly. “What your mother said you said about me…is that true? I can’t help but feel that it isn’t. Not that you said it about me, but…that it’s true about me at all.”You scooted your chair around the table until you were next to Maddalyn instead of across from her. “How so?” you asked, “It’s hardly praise for its own sake. You’re indecisive, reckless, but you’re earnest in it. When the time comes to help somebody, you don’t hesitate,” you put your arm around Maddalyn’s waist, “You’ve put yourself in danger without a thought, for me, my friends and comrades, how could I only pretend to respect that? I can’t ignore that you’ve put yourself in danger for me, and I’d throw myself into harm’s way for you, no matter what it is…what more genuine feeling is there than that?”“I know you would, for me, Richter, but,” Maddalyn closed her hand on yours…your right hand. “Last I let you go, when I saw you again, your mind was broken…now I see you again, and your body is broken. I left, let you be wounded so terribly. If I’m all of those things you said, I should have stayed by your side, but,” she squeezed your hand, “I’m not somebody who’s brave like you say. I’m a coward, who let somebody they say to love more than any other go by themselves, and come back maimed. I could have made all of this vanish, made it so it never happened. I told myself you were strong enough to not need me, but I’m not so much a fool as to have believed that, when we met in Mittelsosalia. I shouldn’t have let you go, but I was too weak, too feeble of heart...if there had ever been a time to rush to your aid, it was then, but fear held me back.” Maddalyn’s eyes fixed on the edge of the table and she slumped forward. “I received your letter, saying how you were wounded, but when I saw the extent of what happened…I don’t know how you can say such proud things for somebody so shameful.”
You paused. “…Maddalyn, that’s not…how these things happened to me, they weren’t anything you could have prevented. I wouldn’t have allowed you. I purposely went off on my own.” You moved your hand up her back and held her shoulder, pulled her over so she leaned on your arm. “I’m sure you knew that I wouldn’t let you come with me, either. I’d have left you elsewhere, so that you wouldn’t be harmed as I went off to get myself hurt. I went off by myself both times when I got these wounds. I took no friends. I wanted myself to be the only one who might be hurt, and for what it is worth, I’d suffer this and worse rather than see the same done to you…again.” Your finger passed over a strap of the eyepatch.Maddalyn said nothing, then got up, stood in front of you, and-Whack!She slapped you across the side of your face that wasn’t wounded, fiercely, a lingering sting that made you reach your hand to your cheek and rub it. Not even a moment later, she sat across your lap, put her arms around you, and buried her face in your collar.“You’ve no right,” she said, muffled by your body, “No right at all to make me feel like this. I was so miserable, and now I’m furious with you. Angrier still because you’re…you.” She squeezed you around your back. “You’ll drive me crazy.”“Sorry,” you said as you put your hand on her head and stroked her hair by her ear, “I far prefer you being angry with me than despising yourself.”“You do enough to prove that,” Maddalyn said bitterly into you. “…Promise me. Promise me that you won’t go off and do something stupid by yourself and get hurt more.”“…”“I know you can’t keep it. Just say it.”“I don’t know if I can avoid being hurt,” you said, “But I promise you that I’d have to be a greater fool than anybody to choose a reckless death over a life with you.”“…Alright.” Maddalyn loosed herself from you, and you saw her eye was red, moist. “Don’t forget that.”To be true, you had made a similar sort of pledge to not die like an idiot before, to somebody else. Twice the motivation now. You looked around, and…one of Maddalyn’s guards was staring at the two of you, and one of the café’s sparse patrons outside was also squinting. Maddalyn noticed where you were looking, cleared her throat, then got off of you and back to her chair. “I’m still angry. But I’m hungry too.”“I’ll make it up to you,” you said, “One before the other.” Your idea for the one not involving food wouldn’t do in public.The waffles, golden brown and airy, tins of buttercream and honey syrup by them, came out soon after- hopefully the server wasn’t waiting for you and Maddalyn to stop having your moment there, two people watching suspiciously was discomforting enough.“So,” you said as you took your own fork and knife to share, Maddalyn ever being a light eater, “Why so many guards?”
“After what happened, you know when,” Maddalyn sniffed and rubbed her eyes, “Security of my person has had to be ensured. It’s only natural, most have a couple of guards when they go out.”“But six of them? In the Capital?”“Even in the Capital.”“Is it because of recent events?” You referred, of course, to the Crown Prince’s unexpected and unfortunate passing.“It is.” Maddalyn said, not elaborating. She instead focused on a bite of waffle carved out that she had utterly drowned in syrup, and placed it in her mouth. Her expression, pleasingly, inverted, and some pinkness alighted upon her cheeks. You weren’t a complete fuckup after all. “Your speaking is much better than it was.”“It is,” you nodded confidently, “If further struggles helped me at all, it was in banishing that fearful feeling that made me stutter and stammer so much. I feel far, far better than I did when we last met.” You tried a bit of buttercream, and it was well to your satisfaction on its own, but trying more than a little without accompaniment of the other food would be unseemly. “I sent more letters to you,” you said, “My old way of getting them to you stopped being an option, but I sent them through the Republic. Did you get any more letters?”“Mm. I did, and, thank you for sending them, but…” Maddalyn frowned again, “You did not get any of my replies, did you.”You shook your head and bit your lip. Of course they’d be kept from you. “I shouldn’t be cut off from you any longer after this, I hope.” You tried out the waffle, and…it did brighten your spirits. The honey syrup itself wasn’t as cloying as you had presumed, and it had a fruity, floral hint to it, like it had been made by bees near an orchard. It needed the buttercream to be complete, by your measure. “How have you been?” You shifted to a more mundane subject, instead of trying to distress your wife further. “Has home life been treating you well? Are you up to anything?”“…” Maddalyn paused, thinking, as she ate more. She’d gone through a quarter of a waffle before she said something. “I’ve been reading. Research, mostly. Old books. Very old books.”Asking about her research probably wouldn’t fly here, but you could be vague. “What are they about?”“They’re…er…” Maddalyn hesitated further, “Life things. Philosophy. I’ve also been helping my family with a project, that I was on when I received news of your return here. I’m to resume work right away when I fly back to the Blumlands.”“Work with your family?” you repeated- yes, confirmed, the waffles with honey and cream were a perfect balance. Not decadently rich, but a pleasant simplicity that nobody could fail to like. The tea was alright. Tolerable. Needed more sugar, and it wasn’t quite hot anymore. “Are they treating you more kindly, now?”
“It’s a matter I brought up with my half-brothers,” Maddalyn said, “They don’t know me as well, and it is relating to a concern of father’s. It’s…a chance to redeem myself in their eyes. My last project was hasty, impulsive, and…I was in a place where I didn’t care if it ended poorly for me or not.” She glared at the half finished waffles, “It won’t be the same now. I’ll do this with the caution it needs, and with proper support.”“You haven’t said what it is, though.”Maddalyn swallowed hard. “It isn’t…something we can talk about here.”Oh. You could have presumed, perhaps, given Maddalyn’s skillset and specialties, but you had hoped that it might have been diplomatic (she knew…five languages?), or perhaps a case of family cooperation, but this…If it was related to sorcery, you had your doubts about it. Even if in your wife’s hands it had helped you more than it hurt, the whole deal of it was unsettling to think about being done on a…larger scale.Not something that could be gone into further here anyways. There was more for you to speak of too, in private, relating to a similar subject, but for now…her family, hm.“I still have your mother’s scarf,” you said, “It’s in my things at home. I think it gave me good luck, at least, enough to not be killed. More than a few times. Though it…got dirty. I did my best, but I think my blood might have stained it.”“I thought it might happen when I gave it to you,” Maddalyn mumbled, “But. I couldn’t have just given you any normal old rag just because it might get dirty.” “Your scent on it,” you added, “Helped me through the toughest times. The reminder of you kept me going. Even if you were worried about not being there, in a way…you were there. I needed it too. What happened to me…damaged my knowledge too. My shooting, and much about history, information…”Your redhead blinked at you. “You lost all of that, but you keep going…” her eyes went to the ground again, “I can’t help with shooting at all, but if you want help with studies, I can try my best.”“Thank you, very much.” “I don’t remember the scent I had on,” Maddalyn added, “Is it..?”You leaned over and sniffed Maddalyn. “No, not that one.” A pause. “Regardless, you smell lovely.”“Hmmhmm.” Maddalyn smiled slightly as she glanced back up at you, “For the scarf, though…if one of the most important things that belongs to me, helps protect another of my important belongings, that’s alright. If it helps…you can keep it with you, wherever you’re going in two days.” Maddalyn wrinkled her nose, “Where are you going? The telegram didn’t say.”
“Well, there’s…something coming up in two days, I’ve been told by…my employers,” you stumbled a couple of times to slide an excuse for why you knew, but it would be enough to pass in public. “But I’ve been accepted as a volunteer into the Silver Lances, the most elite of the Archduke’s men, recently, and that’s probably when they’ll call me up from my present reserve position to properly merge into their unit.”“It must be something to do with Almizea,” Maddalyn said, with a look in her eyes that she had a good feeling that it had absolutely nothing to do with Almizea.“You’ve heard of that?”“I like to keep a radio on while I work, if my concentration isn’t needed.” Maddalyn actually had experience with electronics- not something you were oft reminded of, but it made sense for a blind woman to be fond of auditory distractions. “And my family has been together, apprising one another of current events and expectations. There is no choice but to be informed.” She ate another few bites, then pushed the plate over to you. “So…tell me about these Silver Lances? Maybe we can see what you remember about them?”-----You told Maddalyn about the Silver Lances over tea, then another cup of tea was spent on the parts of your mission that didn’t involve you nearly getting killed. Much about Ellowie, its situation, Netillians, Twaryians- she clearly found that far more interesting than whatever you had to say about the Silver Lances, despite her efforts to pay attention throughout. When you got into the cars again to head out for your next destination, towards the woods of distant memory (at least, where the roads would take you close), you talked to her of your new experience dancing.“Dances…who did you take to them?” Maddalyn asked with suspicion creeping in.“I took Sergeant Nowicki to the Langenachtfest Social,” you said, making sure to refer to Anya by her rank- it put a degree of separation between you two that you hoped would reassure Maddalyn. “We were mostly there to foil an assassination attempt upon the King of Ellowie, and we succeeded. In preparing for that, though, my Second in Command taught us how to dance.” You took Maddalyn’s hand in yours, “I hope you’re ready to attend a few. I know precisely what sort of dress I want you in.”Assaulted from two sides of opposing interests, Maddalyn sputtered, and said nothing, before shaking her head and commenting, “The King of Ellowie, you mean the High Protector, yes?”“They are the same, yes, though he is not referred to as a King by most.”“He certainly lives as opulently as one.”Maddalyn was told of the High Protector the rest of the way to the woods, and when you stopped, four of the guards quickly formed a ring about you, ten paces away.“Captain,” Maddalyn said, “You and your men are stifling my fiancé and I.”
“Be that as it may,” the Von Blum guard said, “Your safety is not to be compromised, no matter location or intent. These woods, though kempt, are as hazardous a place as the city. We can give distance, but not isolation.”Kempt was the word indeed- though it wasn’t like this throughout the forest. The brush was merely cut back close by to the outer edges of Strosstadt, and it wouldn’t be a long hike to find true woods, from what you remembered.“Captain,” Maddalyn’s tone grew cross, “My fiancé Richter is an experienced woodsman and able soldier. He has rescued me before, and I trust him to protect me. These woods are where he spent much of his boyhood. Would you know them better than he, or would you and your men become confused and lost? Remain with the vehicles. Should there truly be danger, our way out of here must be secure.”The Captain thought on that. “Very well. The cars shall be kept safe.”“Thank you, Captain.” Maddalyn said with a smug air, “On the off chance that there is danger, you will hear straightaways.”You walked on, hand in hand with Maddalyn through the light mist of the woods, soft breeze rustling through. She huddled close to you with the wind, as you looked about and…remembered. Places had definitely changed. Some trees felled. Signs of a fire elsewhere. More of the forest tamed, the brush culled further than it used to be. An old Ironwood Bobcat den, the ground now sunken and collapsed.“Let’s stop a moment,” Maddalyn breathed, and you had been wondering when she’d say that as she had hung heavier on your arm over time. “Certainly.”“Mm,” Maddalyn looked about, “It’s very quiet out here.”“It often is during the winter,” you said, “The land goes to sleep save for select creatures, and most don’t like to walk out this far. There aren’t many places where you can be peacefully alone in the Capital territory, but I think this is one such place.”Maddalyn’s cheeks, already rosy from the winter chill, frosty but not snowy, looked up at you and her cheeks went a little redder. “Peacefully alone…did you take me out here with…any plans in mind?”>Just to talk. To be around one another. (Continues with subjects not to be talked about in public)>Other?Thread's near the bottom, so anything done will be rolled into the next thread- given that we're in the middle of stuff here, it should only be a couple days until the new thread rather than a week and change. If a lack of a new proper OP can be excused since you dumped the X series in Ellowie.
>>4476990>dumped the X series in Ellowie.Dumped but not forgotten! Maybe we can re-appropriate one of them if we succeed.>Just to talk. To be around one another.There are things to speak of, or at least summarize for her:Emma possessing, good idea Y/N?Yva and her whole arm dealHidden village ripped apart in World War WizardFinish with Poltergeists deal being completed and him being a spooky Time ghost.Fuck, she is gonna be *angry*.
>>4476990>Sloppy kissesShe is as openly requesting it as her upbringing allows, I think>Then talk and be around one another.Maddy's projectYva and her whole arm dealHidden village ripped apart in World War WizardEllowian firs and weird sky spiritsAbsolutely NOT Emma possessing peopleBut hypotetic abilities of advanced Embers
>>4477017Supporting. The longer we don't talk about poltergeist the angrier she'll be when she finds out.
>>4477109Do you really want to ruin the only two days we get to spend with her, then leave her to stew in her anger without the time to come to common terms?
>>4477136It sucks, but we don't know when this poltergeist business is going to come back to haunt us, and if we can't find a good chance to tell her, not only will she be platinum mad but it could be even more disastrous if she doesn't know.
>>4477046Supporting, along with asking if she's comfortable yet with expanding the Von Tracht family tree. Honestly now might be a good time to consummate the relationship if she is comfortable, we still have time to talk about these things.Otherwise, I also vote to include Poltergeist as a topic to talk about.
>>4476990She is our resident spook expert. Tell her everything about Emma and Poltergiest. If we cant trust Maddy with this, why did we choose to lose just about everything else but her?
>>4476990>Just to talk. To be around one another.Talk about what Maddy is working onHigh density of spirits Talk about the hidden villageTalk about Poltergist and YvaEmma and her situationCall about the idea of brining her with us this time
>>4476990Kiss her first, then talk about spooky ghost stuff
>>4476990Oh yeah, make sure to give her ear a deep cleaning.If you know what I mean.